Drumbeat: May 28, 2011

Gas tanks are draining family budgets: 'You have to cut back when you have a $480 gas bill a month'

NEW YORK — There's less money this summer for hotel rooms, surfboards and bathing suits. It's all going into the gas tank.

High prices at the pump are putting a squeeze on the family budget as the traditional summer driving season begins. For every $10 the typical household earns before taxes, almost a full dollar now goes toward gas, a 40 percent bigger bite than normal.

Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month. In April 2009, they spent just $201. Families now spend more filling up than they spend on cars, clothes or recreation. Last year, they spent less on gasoline than each of those things.

Oil Rises, Capping a Weekly Gain, as G-8 Says Global Economy Is Expanding

Oil rose, capping a 0.5 percent weekly increase in New York, after leaders of the Group of Eight said the global economy is strengthening, and as the dollar dropped to a one-week low against the euro.

Oil climbed 0.4 percent after the G-8 said the recovery “is becoming more self-sustained,” in a statement following a two-day summit in Deauville, France. Stocks and commodities advanced. A report that U.S. consumer spending gained less than forecast in April sent the dollar lower, boosting commodities’ appeal as an alternative investment.

Gas prices dip before holiday; but above year ago

NEW YORK – Drivers can expect some relief at the gas pump as they set out for the Memorial Day weekend.

Gasoline prices have dipped 4 percent — nearly 18 cents per gallon — since flirting with $4 per gallon earlier this month. At $3.809 per gallon, however, the national average is still $1.05 per gallon more than it was last year.

We're driving on fewer cylinders these days

Thanks to high gasoline prices and federal fuel economy rules, more Americans are demanding cars with four-cylinder engines than want V-6s.

Interest in electric vehicles high in Hawaii

Hawaii, which has been at the national forefront of embracing electric vehicles, has seen about 75 Nissan Leafs delivered so far and leads the nation for pre-orders for Mitsubishi's i MiEV.

The gradual movement to the new cars provided the impetus for a new online permitting system for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations that was rolled out yesterday by the City and County of Honolulu.

Russia to keep high export duty on gasoline until July - govt.

Russia's premier has signed a resolution to keep in force a high export duty for gasoline until July in a bid to stabilize domestic prices, the government website said on Saturday.

Cuba to drill oil in Gulf of Mexico

Cuba expects to soon start drilling exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico and produce four million tons of oil and gas in 2011, a Cuban oil industry official said Friday.

Ways to Save at the Gas Pump

It's getting pricey at the pump.

The average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.81 at the end of last week, up $1.05 from a year ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. And the Energy Information Administration estimates gas prices will be up 40% this summer from 2010.

But whether you're hitting the road for work or leisure, there are ways to cut fuel costs.

Petroleum — from the ground to your tank

Have you ever wondered where the gasoline you’re pumping into your car came from? Was it created in a lab or did a company drill into the ground and extract the sparkly yellow liquid from the earth?

Tornado delays production at Devon Energy plant

OKLAHOMA CITY - Devon Energy Corp. said Thursday that its Cana gas processing plant was damaged by a tornado earlier this week and won't be restored to full production capacity for up to three months.

Russian investors parking billions abroad despite oil revenue, strengthening ruble

MOSCOW — Investment money is pouring out of Russia, despite the high price of oil and the strengthening ruble. It’s a combination that hasn’t been seen before, and it threatens to do lasting damage to the economy and to President Dmitry Medvedev’s modernization efforts.

For the first time, business owners across Russia are parking money outside the country, in what economists here take to be signs of uncertainty and deep-seated pessimism.

'Arab Spring' to juice power project?

The recent uprisings in North Africa have rattled the short-term prospects for a multi-billion dollar project to generate massive amounts of solar energy in the Sahara and ship a portion of it to Europe.

Long term, though, the establishment of new democracies throughout the region may set the stage for the project's long-term success, argued some participants at a project conference this week in Berlin, Germany.

Saudi Arabia Scrambles to Limit Region’s Upheaval

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia is flexing its financial and diplomatic might across the Middle East in a wide-ranging bid to contain the tide of change, shield other monarchies from popular discontent and avert the overthrow of any more leaders struggling to calm turbulent nations.

From Egypt, where the Saudis dispensed $4 billion in aid last week to shore up the ruling military council, to Yemen, where it is trying to ease out the president, to the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco, which it has invited to join a union of Persian Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia is scrambling to forestall more radical change and block Iran’s influence.

In Tense Post-Bin Laden Trip to Pakistan, Clinton Seeks Firm Action on Extremists

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Friday that relations between the United States and Pakistan had reached “a turning point,” and called on Pakistan’s leaders to take urgent measures against Islamic extremists in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Australia: Defending the future

It is the year 2030, just 19 years from now. Climate change has started to bite with droughts and crop failures becoming increasingly common across the globe.

Peak oil is a distant memory and the price per barrel regularly hits $US300 and more.

The Asian economic miracle has ground to a halt in the face of collapsing markets for cheap consumer goods as the West becomes poorer in real terms.

Developed economies are grappling with spiralling energy bills, a GFC that shows no signs of abating and the mounting cost of providing advanced medical and geriatric care for ancient baby boomers not yet ready to say goodbye to life.

To Australia's north, former friends and allies have turned ugly as changing circumstances have toppled once-moderate governments, replacing them with extremist nationalist regimes.

Bakken Oil Production Challenges Peak Oil

Don't turn out the lights just yet, Peak Oilers. New discoveries and refreshed wells right here in North America are turning that peak into a long, gradually sloping plateau.

Oil spill may have indirect role in dolphin deaths

ORLANDO, Fla. - The massive BP oil spill might indirectly have contributed to the unusually high number of young dolphins dying in the Gulf of Mexico recently, a University of Central Florida marine researcher said Thursday.

The oil and dispersants used to clean up the spill may have disrupted the food chain and prevented dolphin mothers from building up insulating blubber they need to withstand cold.

Crippled nuclear plant not prepared for heavy rain, wind

FUKUSHIMA — The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is not fully prepared for heavy rain and strong winds forecast due to a powerful typhoon moving Saturday toward disaster-affected areas of northeastern Japan, according to the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Heavy rain has been forecast for the areas from Sunday to Monday due to the season’s second typhoon, Songda, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

German environment ministers push for nuclear phase-out

(Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure from state and national government officials on Friday to legislate an end to nuclear power in the country, sending power prices higher.

Coakley joins fight to close nuclear plant

Massachusetts is backing Vermont in its efforts to prevent the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant from operating beyond next March. Massachusetts intends to file a friend of the court brief supporting Vermont in a federal case brought by plant owner, Entergy Corp.

Russia to End Ban on Grain Exports on July 1 After Domestic Crop Improves

Russia will end its grain export ban imposed in August amid a record drought after forecasts for a 28 percent increase in the wheat crop.

...Russia, the world’s second-largest wheat exporter before the ban, halted shipments after its worst drought in at least 50 years. Wheat traded in Chicago, a global benchmark, as much as doubled from June to February.

Three Gorges Dam's power is seeping away

BEIJING - The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, might lose the battle against the worst drought to hit Central China in 50 years if no rains fall by mid-June.

"If the drought continues and there is no rainfall before June 10, the dam will lose the capacity to relieve the drought," Wang Hai, director of the transport division of the China Three Gorges Corporation, told China Daily on Friday.

'Last' mines human tragedy

In the five years since the release of "An Inconvenient Truth," the momentum for action on climate change seems to have gone from a fever pitch for change to a muddled message on what to do next.

That's one of the reasons why writer director Bill Haney has approached his documentary "The Last Mountain" from a different vantage point. By focusing not only on environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. but also on a group of West Virginia residents as they try to stop coal companies from the process of mountaintop removal, he intends to personalize the issue of coal and its impact on climate change, and to show how it is relevant to average Americans.

EU Unlikely to Offer Deeper CO2 Cut Before Summit, Poland Says

The European Union is unlikely to propose a deepening of the bloc’s greenhouse-gas reduction target before the next global climate summit, due to start in November, Polish Environment MinisterAndrzej Kraszewski said.

The EU, which wants to lead the global fight against climate change, is on schedule to meet its binding goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels. It has said it’s ready to move to a 30 percent target if other countries follow suit.

Human Impacts of Rising Oceans Will Extend Well Beyond Coasts

The analysis focuses on four regions they identified as highly susceptible to flooding: the tip of the Florida peninsula, coastal South Carolina, the northern New Jersey coastline, and the greater Sacramento region of northern California, areas that span a range of population demographics. (New Orleans was not included as a study site due to major population changes since the 2000 census.)

With help from the UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory, the researchers used 2000 census data and current patterns of population change to predict future population demographics in those areas. By 2030, they report, more than 19 million people will be affected by rising sea levels just in their four study areas.

And many of those people may be in unexpected places. The case studies clearly reveal the importance of considering people's patterns of movement.

Re: Human Impacts of Rising Oceans Will Extend Well Beyond Coasts

The local effects of sea level rise aren't something to sneeze at but the demographic changes from sea level rise may be worse than just the local impacts.

E. Swanson

I think the important thing to note is the mention of "by 2030". That is really not very far away, and likely within the lifetimes of most of us here.

Too many commentators seem to have the idea that the effects of climate change are somehow a hundred years in the future, largely because many reports state "by 2100", which puts the problems squarely in someone else's lap, and so, therefore, we should worry about "more immediate threats".

It is unfortunate that most people place a discounted value on the future. Just this week in a Sydney (Australia) newspaper a skeptic reporter dismissed the theoretical impact of a change 100 years from now as not in our lifetime so we don't have to worry. That attitude angers me no end; I may live another 40-50 years so the grandkids/great grandkids that I will get to know and love in my sunset years will still be alive possibly 150 years or more from now. I don't want them to spend their retirement sandbagging their homes or worrying about the future of their young family members.
The current threat of having to tighten my belt now is less of a concern for me than the thought of having to look into my grandkids eyes and explaining why we Fubared their lives for our own self gratification way back in 2011-2020.

"Too many commentators seem to have the idea that the effects of climate change are somehow a hundred years in the future..."

Whilst in the real world the effects of climate change are already evident and people are beginning to connect the dots:

Is Europe’s drought a symptom of climate change?

A succession of climatic disasters in the US may lead to recognition in the United States that climate change is happening and that something must be done, although it is a big step to acknowledge that human activity is the driver. As for Europe, after the driest and warmest April in parts of our continent since records began the argument that the climate is undergoing fundamental change seems incontrovertible.

Sea level will rise a foot higher on New Jersey coast by 2050

Sea level likely will be a foot higher along New Jersey by 2050, and at the end of the century “Atlantic City’s going to see three feet,” said geology professor Ken Miller of Rutgers University.

The real question is what a 1 meter rise in sea level does to the 100-year flood plain contour. The increase in flood plain area is probably less than the increase in area below mean high tide since the flood plain contour tends to be in an area that is up sloping more than the 1 meter above high tide contour.

The other issue is to what extent the barrier islands would be breached or move following the removal of structures.

"The real question is what a 1 meter rise in sea level does..."

There is another important factor to consider with regard to sea level rise: Earthquakes.

Ocean levels have been rising for many decades now. According to one study, the rate of increase is around 1.5 ± 0.4 mm per year for the period 1961-2003 (Domingues et al 2008). Some of the measured sea level rise appears to be related to increasing sea-surface temperatures and related thermal expansion, and some due to isostatic changes. But some of the oceanic rise is due to an additional water contribution to the oceans from melting ice caps and glaciers. One estimate is 0.5 ± 0.2 mm per year for 1961-2003 and 0.8 ± 0.2 mm per year for 1993-2003. A rate of 0.5 mm/yr is equivalent to 5 cm/century, and rates may be increasing as of late.

If the sea level escalation were spread out evenly across the world’s oceans, and does not accelerate over time (there is some evidence that is has in recent decades), this represents an increase in pressure at the ocean bottom of approximately 0.5 kPa per century. However, the sea level rise is not evenly spread due to things such as ocean currents and small differences in local gravity. A rise of 10 cm equals approximately a 1 kPa increase in pressure and a 1 m rise results in about a 10 kPa ocean bottom increase in pressure. This is perhaps high enough to trigger quakes in subduction regions.

According to Heki (2003), pressure increases approaching 10 kPa due to snow-loading on the backbone range of Japan may be enough to cause a seasonality to interplate earthquakes. This pressure requirement is partly due to stress loads not being directly applied to the faults (faults are not necessarily directly under the areas that receive the most snow). Increasing ocean pressure is directly on top of major subduction zones, so a 10 kPa requirement may not be necessary. Perhaps changes of just a few kPa on top of the secular stress buildup along a fault plane is enough to trigger an earthquake.

The 26 Dec 2004 Mw 9.3 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 11 Mar 2011 Mw 9.0 Tōhoku earthquakes both occurred in regions that were considered to have have a lower probability of major earthquakes relative to other regions. Chile also experienced a major quake on 27 Feb 2010, Mw 8.8. Perhaps with this clustering powerful (and in some cases somewhat unexpected) events, there is evidence that tectonic adjustments related to sea-level rise are already occurring. I do not think that a few major earthquakes clustered in a small span of years is conclusive evidence of a link to sea-level rise. The years 1952, 1960 and 1964 each had a Mw 9.0+ quake, so we know that the truly big events can cluster temporally. But the cluster of recent major temblors is interesting to consider in light of sea-level rise. If the next seven year interval has an additional 2-3 major (≥ Mw 8.8) events, some occurring in areas where a big quake is considered low-probability in the short-term, then maybe the evidence would be stronger.


Domingues, C. M., Church, J. A., White, N. J., Gleckler, P. J., Wijffels, S. E., Barker, P. M and Dunn, J. R. 2008. Improved estimates of upper-ocean warming and multi-decadal sea-level rise. Nature, vol 453, 1090-1093.

Heki, Kosuke. 2003. Snow load and seasonal variation of earthquake occurrence in Japan. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 207, 159-164.

Hello Graywulffe

Don’t you think the real issue for the West in terms of quake activity is loss of mass by the Greenland ice sheet? Given your post I wonder if you could comment on this loss of pressure and the likely impact on the neighboring tectonic plates. How much weight is half a mile of ice? The wiki page on the North American Plate suggests Greenland is encompassed within that plate, but there is page on the Greenland plate and the sources below provide additional evidence.

One web page and a paper in this regard:

Shouldn't there be a difference between localized pressure differences causing deviatoric stresses, and a general change in pressure, as over the interiors of the oceans? In the case where you weigh down say the mountains, but nearby plains have unchanged pressure, than the pressure difference fovors movement. But if you increase the pressure evenly, then the only that happens to the fault is that it is held ever so slightly tighter together. The places where we might expect issues would be rapidly deglaciating area. Iceland fits the bill quite nicely. And there lowering pressure on partial melts means more rock melts, so it wouldn't be surprising if volcanic activity increases there. maybe with sea level rise, the ocean crust sees increasing pressure, and the land not, so there is at least some difference there. But a meter a century is comparable to plate tectonic rates (actually these can be up to 5 meters per century), so I think the effect would be too small to distinquish from the background level.

EOS--These are good points. The changes in pressure are certainly minor relative to the systems being considered, and I do think it would be difficult to pick up a signal relative to background if indeed sea-level rises are having an effect. A meter of sea level rise is on the order of diurnal ocean tidal changes (and storm surges), too--something to keep in mind in terms of thinking about significance that I should have mentioned previously.

Interesting comments on Iceland (and Greenland, Daniel Morris, above). Loss of ice mass on land areas is likely to have more significant effects than the sea-level changes that I brought up.


It only makes sense that land ice loss will be (locally) more significant. The big changes in water pressure are from the redistribution of weight from land ice, to seawater. The surface area of the thinning glaciers is orders of magnitude smaller than the area of the oceans. For instance an iceland icecap might lose 1 a hundred meters in a century, versus say 1 meter rise of sea level. I'm not as worried about Greenland w.r.t geopressure. Are there any volcanic regions in Greenland?

Iceland is at the edge of the Greenland and European Plates. Note that I have come down on the side of an independent Greenland plate. Whether the Greenland plate moves relative to neighboring plates is significant, but so is the ability of a plate to move up and down relative to neighboring plates. Pity the Icelander children.

It is of some interest to know the average sea leverl raise between 1961 and 2003, but even more to know what it is now. According to NASA sea levels raise 3.2 mm/year. That 0.5 mm/y figure is severely outdated. And speed is picking up.

And speed is picking up.

That's the worrying bit.


The map posted by Swanson above shows Miami in a perilous state. The city has disastrous geology for even moderate sea-level rise: half sits on a porous foundation topped by silt more than 50 ft deep. So, sea-walls will simply be infiltrated unless they are excavated below that depth. See these good maps to get a sense of the scale of the problem even below 5 ft rise.

Unfortunately, it looks to me as thought cities like Miami and NO (along with most of southern Louisiana) must be abandoned.

My sister in law has a house on the Chesapeake. It will be an island after a one meter rise, probably before. I doubt anyone will buy it in ten years, it will be so obvious that it will be worthless. But they don't want to sell. Oh, well.


Louisiana could be saved by sending the river to where it wants to go anyway. Build up the tidal area instead of transporting the fill to the deep Gulf.

Louisiana could be saved by sending the river

Without general sea level rise that would be roughly correct. Subsidence should be roughly the same as deposition over the entire delta region. But sea level rise is on top of that, and if projections bear out, will be several times faster than historic sediment deposition rates. [Of course human activities have likely increased soil erosion by quite a bit, so the total amount of sediments could be increasing with time -especially if climate change brings many more superfloods.]

Seems a little apocalyptic - there will be little noticeable sea-level rise inside ten years, and certainly not enough to affect real estate prices in that timeframe. I think your SIL is safe in being able to sell it to the next mug over the next 20-30 years.

If you look at maps in river country there is one more thing to add; inland river raise. Let me eaxamplyfy with Kristianstad, a city in my area (south Sweden). A river named "Helge å" flows just south of it. 10 km downstreams it ends in the Baltic Sea. The city have two lakes by its south side. The Hammer Lake is elevated 0.7 and another lake upstream is 0.9 meter above sea level. The entire core of the city is below the 5 meter line.

Now assume sea level raise of 0.5 meter. Rivers are powered by gravitation. If there is no downslope the river will not flow. If this happen there will be only 0.2 meter fall from the Hammer Lake to the sea. This will slow down the river significantly, and thus the river will overflow. It will raise to a higher level untill there is enough downslope to give speed enough to drain the river basin as fast as new water flows in. So you can asume if the Baltic raise by 0.5 meter, most of that raise will be reflected in the raise of the Hammer Lake. Thus, Kristianstad will not have any benefit at all from beeing 10 Km inland, it could just as well be built just by the shore.

This problem affect all lowlying coastal areas with waterways. In other words; those floodings will get worse than it says on your maps.

The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse...again:

Delivery of first-class mail is falling at a staggering rate. Facing insolvency, can the USPS reinvent itself like European services have—or will it implode?


I have more than a usual interest in the Postal Service because I use to work as a letter sorter in the Minneapolis Post Office.

Last January I mailed two credit card payments on a cold windy day. They never arrived.

Luckily I do internet banking and noticed that the checks had not cleared before it was too late.

I was forced to pay online in order to get the payments in before the due date.

Now I am set up for online payments for 3 Citi cards and have been paying online for about 5 months.

My big worry before switching was security, but I have had no problems. I check to make sure each electronic payment clears the bank the next day and check my balance often to catch anything wrong.

I still make some payments by mail if I think I won't make them often. But I'm mailing far fewer letters.

This makes those 'Forever' Stamps look a bit haunting in their promise of eternity, eh?

'Forever Young'.. Stamps of James Dean spring morosely to mind.

What I wonder is whether it was really way back to the telegraph when the doom of Public Mail Service was written, and it's simply been held aloft by mountains of advertising for the last century? Or, to get beyond the academic end of that question, I would ask;

'With electronic communications, just how much of a pickle are we really in if the Post Office were to disappear? Is it absolutely critical infrastructure, or is it due for a real redesign?'

And I don't ask this glibly.. I don't particularly want to see the end of such a central public institution.. but with all the extra work involved in sorting through junk mail at my house and wincing at the wasted material and effort, while the critical stuff can be done in other ways, I do think it's prudent to really figure out which parts of it are essential, and which are not. (..and which of these electronic alternatives are durable after PO, as well, of course.. but radio-telegraphy, while not as Galactic as 'The Net', can be made at a much lower tech level and could theoretically serve many of these purposes quite well.)

I get almost no junk mail because I told the junkies to quit sending me stuff years ago. If junk mail gets through the cracks, I immediately notify the sender I don't want their junk.

It's not just about mailing bill payments. There are a lot of packages that get mailed too. Rates are much better than the for-profit carriers, if you don't mind waiting a bit longer.

I wonder, in an environment of rolling blackouts, or brownouts, how effective electronic billpay will continue to be. We've really become very accustomed to the immediate, 24-hour transfers of "money".

Many bank billpay services still mail a physical check, if the vendor you are paying does not accept electronic transfer.

I do have to agree, though, that there is an obnoxious volume of junk mail, which still shows up in spite of the numerous do-not-mail lists I am on.

Edit : anyone running a business where they mail out a lot of packages can vouch for the fact that the for-profit carriers add increasing fuel surcharges every time gas prices rise.

FedEx is now contracting with the USPO for package delivery. I have one that was shipped on May 20 and due to arrive on 1 June. It's a 4000 mile haul, but the FedEx portion is taking longer than I might have expected, as apparently there was a problem with the shipping label. The handoff to USPO took place last night. It took 36 hours to transfer the package from the FedEx office to the USPO transfer point in the same city. This joint venture doesn't seem to operate much more efficiently than did the 'ole stand-alone post office service. Isn't package tracking fun.

I was suprised to see a package I was tracking on UPS from Lands End got transferred to the USPO when it arrived in my county. It seemed to slow dramatically after that happened.

On a larger scale we, too, have noticed the occasional lost check or magazines arriving incredibly late. I trully hate to get involved with on-line banking. I don't like the increased security problems, the lack of privacy and the dependence on ultra complex technology.

We had an interesting experience recently.

I've been getting reams of announcements from our bank on the upgrades to their system and all of the wonderful benefits that will accrue to us by using their fantastic new electronic banking. On the week that this nirvana was to arrive we received a statement titled "Summary of Your Accounts" which included only the smallest of the five accounts I have at the bank. I called to ask if they had lost the rest of my money but no one at the bank was aware that any statements had been mailed. I brought a copy of the statement to the bank manager who promised to research the matter. Two days later I received a call from her. She had no idea why I received a statement at all. She then warned me that if I had a 5 year CD I might receive a notice that the account was considered abandoned and the funds would be turned over to the govt. She recommended responding promptly to the notice.

I love progress. (not)

On online bill payment... My dear wife who is (still) in charge of paying bills began to forget to write the checks (not age related issues) so our bills were late and fees were added. After being hit with a second credit card late fee I called them up, had the fee removed, and moved all our regular bills to automatic payment. Mortgage, utilities, internet and credit card (our card allows you to automatically pay in full monthly) all went automatic. After 4-5 years there have been no security issues and no missed payments. Initially wife was not impressed, but after I explained it was for her benefit (no more writing all those pesky checks) and that we saved a decent amount annually on postage, harmony returned.

I live in a major metro area and have not had issues with mail delivery (even in cruddy weather. In fact, I'm looking forward to my netflix movie this evening. While I have done nothing to influence the flow, the amount of junk mail I receive is way down from a few years ago. Heck - I even signed up for a magazine and it only caused a slight uptick.

Cheers -- BS

I still can't understand why my UK banks consider snail mail so much more secure than email. The amount of bank statements I have had go missing over the last year is worrying. While I do not consider email to be totally secure, if banks and other institutions learnt about things such as PGP encryption and signing a large part of my interactions could be done by email.

As for bank payments, I have just ordered some parts by email. I printed out the confirmation so that Monday I will walk into a bank near here and make a payment to their account by cash. Within a few hours that will be confirmed by the company and the goods sent. In fact I could just fax or email a copy of the slip and bank receipt for instant clearing. Straightforward, secure and easy.


Too many post offices, too many employees, and their services are not cost based.

Make a deal with Starbucks and MacDonalds to provide the office services. Eliminate half of the employees. Charge a monthly delivery fee per household based on the cost of delivering to the location.

Actually, many rural residents such as I do not get home delivery. Not only that, but we also have to rent our box from the post office. Last year, IIRC, it was $76 for a medium-sized box (the opening is about 4x6") like ours. So, not only do we have box rental, we also have the expense of driving to town to get the mail. It wouldn't bother me if they started charging for home delivery.


PS. not only does it cost to rent a box but you have to have proof of the physical location of your home such as an electric bill to get a box. Can't have terrorists getting PO boxes. Also, on the FedEx/USPS thing: they won't deliver unless it has the physical address; no PO Box numbers. So, when we order something we have to specifically ask how it will be shipped. In most cases, we give the company both our PO Box number and our street address just to be sure.

Interesting. I grew up on a rural route.

How many times a week do you pick up mail? I think that the post office could go to twice a week delivery with no problem. But there is a lot of vocal resistance to even dropping Saturday delivery.

We usually make getting the mail part of other errands when we go to town. Typically, we get the mail twice a week. One other point, we can no longer get packages on Saturday so one of our pick-ups has to be during the week if we are expecting anything.

People who get home delivery might get a kick out of this: The PO puts a slip in your box when you have a package (you go to the counter to get the package). But, lots and lots of time they put it in the wrong box so you don't know you have a package. Therefore, we are always checking tracking numbers if something doesn't show up when we think it should. Putting regular mail in the wrong box also happens a lot. When that happens we take it to the counter and have them put it in the correct box. As far as I know, everyone is honest about this.

My anecdote about incompetence in the USPO:
I received a rebate from Honda for the new catalytic converter that we had installed because of a computer glitch that shouldn't have said I needed the converter. They mailed me a check for the ~$1500. The check never arrived. After many phone calls I learn that the check had been cashed. Now the address I had given them was for my PO box which we had gotten because of a couple of episodes of having mail stolen from our rural route mailbox. Some security! We have on several occasions gotten mail addressed to someone else and I'm convinced that the check was delivered to a wrong box. It took close to a year to get this straightened out and to get our rebate check.

In all fairness, I have dealt with USPO people and offices that were quite capable and competent. I'm just not very impressed with the local PO where I live.

Its not rare for me in suburbia to hand deliver my neighbors mis-filed letters to her. At least they are usually only off by one house number. And I think the neighbors are all honest. I rememeber in my previous rural existence being told not to mail checks/money by putting the letter in the box and putting the flag up, as thieves drive by looking to steak checks.

Interestingly the only check that vanished for me (from a securities house), it turned out an entire bag of checks was displaced in NYC!

My mail frequently goes globe trotting. Never realised that Bermuda or Singapore were on the route between the UK and Mexico. :)


It should be possible to create an online account number with the post office where you can get notified by email (or SMS) when your package is ready. Then you could tell your shipper your account number and that could be included with the package and then you could get emails when the packages enter the system and when they arrive at destinations.

Even in suburbia recently built (12years) neighborhoods like where I live, we have to walk a block to a large (community) apartment style mailbox. Some cost savings measures have been seeping through.

Todd...I've been getting a form every year to take to the PO with my address verification, in exchange for which I get a free box. Maybe you have a bigger box than I do.
Sometimes I'll tell UPS to leave my packages at Napa, or at my daughter's workplace, and I'll pick them up mice elf. I go to town more than you do, tho.


Maybe if there are enough of you rural guys that need to pick up mail in an area maybe a mail runner could be organised to pick up and distribute out to you all?


That is actually the case in our community. Except the 'mail runner' is an elderly lady who takes her constitutional every morning (about 3/4 mile) at about mail time, picks up mail for about 6 households and deposits it in a bin at one of the houses that is centrally convenient. We did have a central kiosk with a big mailbox where the mail used to go but it got hit by thieves once and we went to a more secure system.


I can't get a free box because we can get mail delivered out of Garberville (that's a town an hour north of us). There are a bunch of problems: First, the road they follow through the mountains to get here is usually closed by snow for several weeks a winter so, obviously, no mail. Second, we'd have to drive up there just to get packages since we never shop there. Third, there are too many strangers around here now growing dope. I don't know them and I no longer have the trust to have "important" stuff in a box by the roadside. Fourth, when we tried getting delivery of just magazines, the driver never fully shut the door so they got wet in the winter. Then there are also issues with UPS/FedEx. We finally changed everything back to our PO box in Laytonville. There's more but that's enough.

What's interesting is that our old mailbox has become a "landmark" because I painted painted it blue and put a rainbow on one side and it's been there like, I don't know, 25 years. People use it to tell visitors how far they live beyond it.


I have turned off all billing by mail and rarely get anything in the physical mail that matters. I figure I get hundreds of mail parcels per one that I have to read. I go months without mailing a letter and rarely write physical checks. I've got enough Forever Stamps to last me 10 years. I do not see how the USPS can survive without a huge slashing of its workforce.

That Businessweek article on the USPS is worth reading in full. European postal services have done a far better job of adapting according to that story. But union influence purchased in Congress helped block needed USPS reforms.

Shale Boom In Texas

The Texas field, known as the Eagle Ford, is just one of about 20 new onshore oil fields that advocates say could collectively increase the nation’s oil output by 25 percent within a decade — without the dangers of drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the delicate coastal areas off Alaska.

Will fracking save America?

Is there someone on TOD with enough information/knowledge to pull the string on this claim that about 20 new onshore oil fields that advocates say could collectively increase the nation’s oil output by 25 percent within a decade? Without additional Alaskan or OCS oil production (or pie-in-the-sky 'oil shale' production), at that.

That seems to be a significant claim.

Related to this (in my mind anyway): A few DBs ago Rockman said that most oil patch workers greatly wished that U.S. oil consumers would reduce their consumption.

He also, in the past, IIRC, advocated that a price floor imposed by the government would bring much-needed stability and certainty to both producers and consumers....I think the number $70/bbl was mentioned.

Producers could maximize their exploration and production investments, knowing the price floor, and consumers could make the most rationale choices about their transportation needs and budget.

Would this work well?:

The US Government sets a guaranteed price for domestic oil of $80/bbl, and also levies $20/bbl tax on top of that, for a floor price of $100/bbl. Imported oil is taxed to level the playing field.

The taxes, combined with significant entitlement and military/Spy/Homeland Security/Complex cuts, allows us to run balanced budgets and steadily pay down our debt.

The USG gets its budget under control, US oil firms have the much needed certainty in their business environment (So do all businesses, at least wrt fuel prices), more domestic oil is produced, oil patch workers and others via the multiplier effect make out well, and consumers also have certainty...allowing different choices to be made regarding personal transportation going forward (more efficient cars, ride-sharing, public trans, biking, EVs, etc).


No special knowledge - but back of the napkin tells me ...

Current production: ~5600 thousand barrels per day
25% of 5600 is 1400 thousand barrels per day
Spread over 20 fields => 70 thousand barrels per day per field.
Seems well within the realm of possibility.

I've taken no accounting for depletion of existing production - but I doubt that the original claim did either.

The accounting for current field depletion is one big question I had about this assertion.

US oil production from 1998 to 2007 dropped roughly 1 million barrels. (it has increased 10%+ since then)

So to increase production 25% from current levels including depletion, we can estimate NEW + DEPLETED_OLD at roughly 1.4 + 1.0 = 2.4 million barrels per day (and pushing US production up to 5.6 + 1.4 = 6 million barrels per day - same as it was in 1998). Again, spread over 20 fields, that would be ~120,000 barrels per day per field.

Note: this probably *underestimates* depletion since I haven't accounted for 'new fields' brought online from 1998 to 2007.

Doable? The NYT article suggests that water may be the limiting factor.

NYT, of course, quoted Yergin as thinking this was doable. So, of course, that's all we need. Anyway, this was on the front page of the New York Times so it seems it may have a major impact on people's perceptions of the future. Other than the water shortage and water toxicity issue, there were no skeptics quoted or apparently consulted.

Given the rather dramatic nature of this phenomenon and the fact that water shortages in Texas could be a major show stopper, it seems like the NYT could have spent a bit more time and resources in really analyzing the feasibility of extracting so much oil from that area.

The "good news" is that the locals seem fine with any water or environmental impacts that may occur with all that fracking.

Correcting previous comment: 5.6 + 1.4 would push production up to 7 million barrels per day - a rate not seen since 1992.

In the article, HIS CERA is claiming an additional 3 million barrels per day by 2020. The 25% figure would appear to be relative to current US liquid production of about 9 million barrels per day. This would seem to be the appropriate comparison as much of this shale “oil” is not oil, correct?

A couple of things to note:
1)Production of these fields is ONLY going forward on the assumption of
$100 per barrel i.e. minimum $4 per gallon gas
2)Counting on IHS Cera for any kind of realistic estimate of actual production is a literal pipedream. Even IF you could expand to 3 Million barrels per day - how about loss in Alaskan pipeline whose
flow now is so low they are concerned it will freeze up and stop flowing?
3)Water? Not only are you poisoning the water, where are you going to get it in arid Texas? Pipe it, desalinate? What?
Sounds to me like another resource limit which actually may be
the most immediate we face as Lester Brown and many others have pointed out. Either piping or desalinating means even more energy
i.e. now we are $150 per barrel or what for costs?

but back of the napkin tells me ...

I was thinking it may not be too far off. Most likely they would want to take the recent production minimum from two to three years ago as a baseline, we are already over 10% above it. Sounds possible, although probably a tad optimistic. Of course by then we would lose north slope Alaska, and ad in some extra depletion and probably half that 25% gain goes away.

Note that total US C+C production has been between 5.5 and 5.6 mbpd since the third quarter of 2009 (versus the 1970 peak of 9.6 mbpd). Increasing oil production from thermally mature shales like the Bakken is, so far at least, serving to keep total production flat.

Given the very high decline rates, the problem with a sustained steady increase in oil and gas production from these shales is that it basically requires an infinite rate of increase in the number of rigs drilling.

I suspect that most people, including a lot of the talking heads on CNBC, think that there is no real difference between the thermally mature shales like the Bakken and the Green River Kerogen "Shale" in Colorado.

But people don't want to talk about resource limits, and I am beginning to think that the "Rock" and I should just throw in the towel and encourage people to continue with the SUV/suburban lifestyle, since we benefit from higher oil prices.

Incidentally, it appears that the 2005 to 2010 increase in Saudi oil consumption exceeds the current total oil production from the Bakken + Eagle Ford, but that it is a minor matter. Let's go look at a new SUV!

The resources diverted to oil production are catching up with the price. As the country slides down the EROEI curve, the new fundamentals supporting $70/barrel oil imply a vast diversion of wealth to energy production that is no longer available for living. Nevertheless, combining increased oil production with declining use, could leave a lot of money in the US that has been going overseas. The net effect on the US economy is hard to call, but it seems continued growth may be possible for a few more years. Ironically, the margin of difference may be the successful expansion of clean energy.

I think it is time to admit that peak oil is not the apocalyptic event people might have imagined it to be.

Yes, the downslope and net export decline will be problematic.

But we aren't going to starve. We are going to be stuck in place in worthless homes without jobs.

Unemployment insurance and food stamps sort of take care of that. And why do you need to get out when you have movies and cable and the internet and video games? Welcome to the world of virtual reality and financial socialism.

The world has changed. Probably not for the better, but it has changed. We just don't need all of the oil that we used to.

Mind you there will be all manner of unintended consequences, and I remain a doomer for reasons that extend beyond peak oil. For example, we remain in one huge population and credit bubble that has to burst eventually. But strictly speaking, society can get by with a lot less oil.

I think it is time to admit that peak oil is not the apocalyptic event people might have imagined it to be.

No tipping point yet does not mean no tipping point ever, and they are nearly impossible to identify in any tangible way (intuitive intelligence probably allows this, however) so we, much like the recent cultish predictions of the Rapture, will be unlikely to know the day or the hour.

Let's be careful out there.

""The world has changed. Probably not for the better, but it has changed. We just don't need all of the oil that we used to.""

Yes, the World has, "changed". Always has. And it always will. We never needed all that oil to begin with. It was free to be taken and exploited by greedy humans, and they did. Rather than learning to live with the Natural World, the Human Male, just continues on his path of aggression and violence to all things. The free energy of oil, was a loaded and cocked gun, in a childs hand.

Are we, as a species, better off for it? I think not. Power down.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

The human male huh? Funny how I ride the bike and my idle wife thinks I am insane..

But we aren't going to starve.
Depends on where you live. In the US peak oil will create an economic collapse. In many other parts of the world it will create a collapse of civilization and die off.

Agriculture in the West is a capital intensive economic activity as is food processing. Economic collapse will have a negative impact on capital intensive activities and therefore will have an immediate effect on food production. Failure in a complex system such as ours can throw out strange consequences. Starvation cannot be ruled out.

I believe agriculture is going to be ground zero where the full impact of economic, energy and climate crises are felt 100%.

Anyone with half a brain can get on Google or do a quick search here to find the correct numbers, which don't lie. Same goes for the Bezinga post listed up above somewhere about how "Peak oilers need not apply" or whatever because of the Bakken. Seriously, some of these people need their heads examined, not to mention their pay stubs. Someone is paying to put this kind of disinformation out there. But the point is, pay no attention to people who say such things because they are either on the payroll, useful idiots, or both.

Seriously, figure it out yourself. It's not that hard. Nice to know, though, that anything ever posted on Bezinga is now considered safely skippable (not that we didn't suspect that was the case already anyway). Who the heck is this Bezinga character anyway? I don't trust anyone with a goofball name like that on serious issues.

Looks like the projected path of Typhoon Songda has moved south a little. Fukushima won't get a direct hit.

I heard it was just upgraded to Category 3.

They're going to get a bit of rain, though.

Rain likely to induce more radioactive leaks

The company is concerned that contaminated water in the basement of reactor buildings and nearby tunnels may overflow and seep into the ground and the sea.

Rain is forecast on Sunday and Monday because of an approaching typhoon.

Which will cause more of this...

Radioactive materials found off Miyagi and Ibaraki

Japan's science ministry has detected extraordinarily high levels of radioactive cesium in seafloor samples collected off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures.

The Union of Concerned Scientists have been running articles about the Fukushima nuclear plants:


TEPCO got soooo lucky.

Say whut?

TEPCO now admits that three Fukushima reactors have melted, large holes present in containment vessels
Ethan A. Huff / Natural News / May 27, 2011

The Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) house of cards is toppling, as it has now been revealed that three reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility all melted shortly after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit them on March 11 ... TEPCO also now admits that holes likely exist in the reactors' containment vessels as a result, which explains the persistent water leaks and drastic temperature fluctuations that led to continuous containment problems ...

Even a weak storm can do damage and of course cause panic.




If nothing else, it will generate winds for a while that blow anything coming out of Fuku in the general direction of the 40 million people living in the Tokyo area.

Re: article about gas prices above, top link. We've seen this movie before, the latest being in 2008. Given the very large gas bills cited in the article, the people with those very large bills probably weren't paying attention in 2008 and before. Nothing in the article suggests anything that anyone might do to cut back on their gas bills. Other than whine.

Btw, the link just takes one back to the oil drum.

"Bakken Oil Production Challenges Peak Oil"

A few hundred thousand barrels of oil produced from Bakken over the course of many years is chanllenging peak oil?

Well,there is a sucker born every minute.

I have reports from some friends from Minot ND and from a guy who lives down here whose family owns some land in ND with oil rights...the flooding up there may be slowing down oil ops a bit.

Soggy Northern Plains braces for 2nd slug of water

Authorities have already started releasing massive volumes of water from overburdened reservoirs.

The releases coupled with the floodwaters are predicted to move downstream and causing flooding in the Dakotas, and possibly in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

"There is going to be record flooding all along the Missouri River," said Paul Johnson, director of the Douglas County, Neb., Emergency Management Agency. "This isn't going to return to normal anytime soon."

... "We have gotten about a year's worth of rain in Montana in the last month," said Monique Farmer, spokeswoman for the corps' Omaha, Neb., district. "It's just crazy. It's been an unusual year."

Many more crazy, unusual years on the way

Soggy Northern Plains braces for 2nd slug of water:


This has implications for grain prices since some of the increased corn acreage was to come in North Dakota. Rain in the eastern corn belt has delayed corn planting to the point that farmers may switch to soybeans.

If corn acreage does not meet expectations, prices could stay high again this year into fall. Texas being in severe drought is also adding pressure to wheat prices. But Russia's resumption of wheat exports may help that situation.

Meanwhile the drought in China gets worse. Jim Rogers thinks that water could do in his bullish outlook for China:



The article said it would be a long sloping plateau. A lot of people on TOD think that. It didn't say the Bakken would make us energy independent or get US production back to '70s levels.

Projects in Profusion: A Skeptical Look at 3 Wild Fusion-Energy Schemes
Scientific American report on General Fusion, Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, and Tri Alpha Energy.

Five Eye-Opening Facts About Our Bloated Post-9/11 'Defense' Spending


"Since 9/11, a near doubling of the Pentagon’s modernization accounts — more than $700 billion over 10 years in new spending on procurement, research and development — has resulted in relatively modest gains in actual military capability,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an address last week.

He called that outcome both “vexing and disturbing.”

Here is an idea: Stop blowing wads of cash defending our access to ME oil (and lining the pockets of many many defense contractors), and divert some resources towards designing and building a different U.S. energy paradigm for the future.

Just a thought.

I think our level of military spending is about right for the only superpower on earth. However, I think way too much spending goes down high-tech ratholes. I mean, a trillion dollars for a fighter program? There is nothing wrong with present-generation equipment--or previous generation equipment, for that matter. If I were emperor, one of the first things I'd do is to put the old A-10 Warthog back into production. Then I'd build a bunch of small wooden minesweepers. I'd try to get rid of a lot of senior officers by offering specially generous retirement packages; I think we have way too many senior officers.

Probably we could safely cut both our submarine and aircraft carrier fleet by at least 25%, and possibly more. The air force does not need many bombers, either. We probably still have way too many ballistic missles. And we may as well scrap our ballistic-missle defense system, because it probably won't work.

The Army needs a new and better rifle--or maybe they could go back to M-14s. For that matter, IMO, the old M-1 Garand, the rifle I learned on, is a superior weapon to the comparatively feeble 5.56mm weapon the infantry now uses. Newer is not always better.


Bravo, I like your thinking: Agree regarding the F-35, A-10, minesweepers, too may senior officers, scrapping BMD, too many ICBMs and SLBMs, subs and carriers.

As far as the bombers...to the extent we require flying death machines to impose our will on far-flung peoples (or save the children, whatever)...I would spend a more limited war budget preferentially on longer-range, higher-payload machines (bombers) vice short-range, small payload machines (fighters).

Unless we are arrogant enough to think we will have countries grant us access to air bases close to the targets, and we assume the 'enemy' will leave those nearby bases unmolested in all future wars/conflicts.

Have you seen the attempts by the army to replace the squad automatic weapon and M-16..???

Maybe we should join much of the rest of the World and use the trusty AK-47.

Here is what I don't grok about your post: If the military scrapped many of the bleeding edge new kit for tried and true existing or previous simpler designs, and on top of that cut numbers of some kit, how on Earth do you figure that our present 'Defense' budget is 'about right'?

I think our level of military spending is about right for the only superpower on earth.

The above sentence smacks of circular logic...

Pax Americana? Global Policeman? Inertia? MIC self-licking ice-cream cone?

The more we screw with other countries the more blowback we will receive, generating even more 'Defense' spending and more intervention/retaliation...rinse, spit, repeat, until we grind ourselves down and wear ourselves out and squander diminishing resources we could have better used to make positive changes here in the U.S.

I think that recent history has shown that our Army is too small for the tasks demanded of it; sometimes we need a lot of boots on the ground.

The Navy needs more small vessels, and as the numbers add up, these are not cheap. I would go for greater numbers and lower tech; quantity has a quality all its own.

In the future, I think we will have to station tens of thousands of troops along the Mexican border to prevent mass migration by hungry Mexicans into the U.S.

Because of its effectiveness in being deployed rapidly over long distances, I think the Marine Corps should be expanded somewhat--not a great deal.

There will be plenty of missions for U.S. armed forces in the future. I would like to see the U.S. Navy take on the mission of ending piracy in the world. For this they would need more personnel and lots and lots of small ships or fast boats. I think it is ridiculous to tolerate piracy in this day and age, and the problem seems to be getting worse, because currently nobody is doing much about it.

You are correct that the Air Force has too many fighters. After all, how many fighters do we need to beat the next best air force? So scrap at least half the fighters and build a few hundred A-10s.

I think the pay of enlisted men and women needs to be increased. The only reason our volunteer forces work at all is that unemployment is high. I would increase minimum physical and mental standards for recruits. Higher pay will be required to attract higher quality recruits.

Thus my thinking is that total spending on the military forces is about right, but it is allocated poorly.

"I think that recent history has shown that our Army is too small for the tasks demanded of it"

Surely part of the problem is 'the tasks demanded of it'.

Surely part of the problem is 'the tasks demanded of it'.

The more boots you have to put on the ground, the greater the temptation to put them on the ground. If we had fewer, hopefully we wouldn't see every situation in the world as an opportunity for military action.

Having been in the army during the period of an active draft and the war in Vietnam I am a strong supporter of the draft. I believe that having a draft was what finally pulled us out of Vietnam. We would certainly be out of Iraq and Afg if we were sending a real cross section of the society over there. We may have never gone over.

An added benefit: You don't have to pay draftees as much as we now pay. I got $62/mo. to start. ;>)

I welcome the idea of a return to the draft, and I'd go farther--universal military training, such as the Swiss have.

The argument that if we have the military forces then we would use them is fallacious. Look at SAC in the hydrogen-bomb era; we never used it for its main mission, which was to retaliate against a thermonuclear attack by the Soviets. Also look at the big buildup in military forces during the Reagan administration: All he ever did was invade Grenada.

In an oil-constrained future, it would not surprise me very much if the U.S. were to invade and occupy Venezuela--a big job, but they have so much heavy oil . . . . Also, in a world of declining oil production, the time may come when to maintain a certain level of oil imports the U.S. would occupy Iraq and operate and protect the oil fields, pipelines, and refineries there.

I think military weakness is more likely to provoke war than military strength. For example, in 1950 the North Koreans perceived the U.S. as militarily weak and not likely to go to war against them when they invaded South Korea. If our military had been stronger in 1950, then the Korean War might have been avoided.

And note that one cannot blame the Vietnam War on the military industrial complex or excess spending on the military. That was a purely political war that all (or almost all) the generals did not want to get into because it meant fighting a land war on the Asian landmass. One of the first things I learned in Army ROTC was the fundamental principle: Do not become entangled in a land war in Asia, doctrine since at least 1900 and perhaps earlier. Not our military forces but rather exceedingly incompetent and hubristic political leadership by Kennedy, McNamara, and especially LBJ got us into Vietnam.

Since my son just turned 18, the thought of a draft makes my stomach turn. The good news is that it will never return, at least until he is past drafting age. Besides we have more than enough young males who are hopped up on steroids and who view war through the prism of video games to need a new draft. Young men have always been eager to march to war and with the massive propaganda machine and the elevation of warriors in this country to demigods I suspect there will continue to be plenty of soldiers.

I do hope we can encourage more armchair warriors to help with our future wars. The ones who watch the military channel and dream of the fight - march them up to the front lines and maybe they can experience their final adrenaline rush. Me, I'll continue to choose and promote peace and hope that Mr. Allman's vision of the future comes to pass.

"Well by and by, way after many years have gone,
And all the war freaks die off, leavin' us alone.
We'll raise our children in the peaceful way we can,
It's up to you and me brother
To try and try again." - Allman Bros

Indeed. Always ironic when the elderly wish all the youth off to war.

"Besides we have more than enough young males who are hopped up on steroids and who view war through the prism of video games to need a new draft."

To me the whole point of the draft is to outweigh these young hot-shots with the reluctant soldiers who are less likely to do wrong.

Don, with all due respect, our involvement in Vietnam began long before Kennedy. President Eisenhower set things in motion after the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which led to the peace conference at Geneva, the results of which Eisenhower did not accept. We supported a puppet government in South Vietnam, which prevented the unification of Vietnam and the North continued the fight. Read the Pentagon Papers, if you want more background...

E. Swanson

I read the Pentagon Papers when they came out, but my interpretation of the history leading up to the Vietnam War is radically different from yours. The French begged Eisenhower on bended knee to help them avoid defeat in Vietnam. Ike flat out refused and made it clear that he adhered to the "No land war on the Asian land mass!" U.S. Army doctrine. Eisenhower also refused air support to the French.

It was John F. Kennedy who pushed us on the slippery slope down into deeper and deeper involvement in Vietnam; Eisenhower had nothing whatsoever to do with that. LBJ continued the escalation: It was his administration (and nobody else's administration) that got us into the full-scale war in Vietnam. It was his advisors (and sycophants), the "best and the brightest," who kept saying the troops will be home by Christmas--1965-1968. It was LBJ and his administration who announced that the opposition was on the ropes--just before the Tet offensive of 1968. Nixon announced that he had a secret plan to end the war when he was campaigning in 1968, which of course was another Big Lie surrounding the Vietnam War. From the faked Gulf of Tonkin incident until the end of hostilities, I think more lies were told about the Vietnam War than about any other war in history.

There have been a number of good books on the Vietnam War published during the past forty years. Defeat is a good teacher, and the abject defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam taught us some valuable lessons--such that it is truly folly to become involved in a land war on the Asian land mass.

We seem to be rather poor students.

The U.S. is engaged in two land wars on the Asian land mass, in addition to the air and special ops (land) war in part of Pakistan.

Plenty of lies have been told to get and keep us in these untenable positions.

As in other wars, such as Vietnam, defense contractors make out very well. DOW chemical, Blackwater, Fluor, Xe...the names change but the profits persist.

And we have the stones to war game a conflict with China over Taiwan!

But...our fascination with a high-tech wars with Russia and/or China is driving us to strive to develop and field bleeding-edge boondoggle weapons such as the F-35 while also we aim to maintain counter-insurgency/'nation-building' lower-tech/high manpower capabilities...

Our $384B F-35s ($1T RDT&E and O&M costs over 50 years) will have a puny 585 nautical mile combat radius...guaranteeing the need for aircraft more carriers and refueling tankers and boots on the ground to secure and operate airfields proximate to the targets.

This Week at War: The Jet That Ate the Pentagon
The F-35 is cutting into the Defense Department's most important priorities.


Wow...the F-35 will cost $1 Trillion for RDT&E and O&M over 50 years.

And that is merely ONE DoD toy.

This is why I dismiss folks' claims that the U.S. cannot afford to subsidize a massive build-out of solar PV and wind power, with the attendant upgraded grid, amongst other things.

Remember, we had to scale back federal tax credits for high-efficiency furnaces and windows this year because of 'budget concerns'...yea, right!

The costs for a spare canopy and landing gear tires for one F-22 could fund my new house windows and a 95% efficiency gas furnace and a 10 KW home PV system...heck, just ONE Line-Replaceable Unit of a certain electronic system on a rather old but trusty airplane would pay for all that, and a pair of Nissan Leafs for my family!

I think the U.S. military is stuck in the role of enforcing a Pax Americana. Of course, some places we do not go, such as Africa (despite requests by the French for much more U.S. involvement in Libya). Such a role is very costly, not only in terms of money but also in terms of consuming limited natural resources in general and oil in particular.

In regard to Taiwan, for historical reasons I think the U.S. is committed to the defense of that island from invasion by the mainland Chinese. In other words, I think there will be a U.S. carrier task force in the area for the foreseeable future, and one thing the Chinese are prudent enough to avoid is tangling with a U.S. carrier task force.

Your idea of beefing up the National Guard and expanding what it does is a good one. IMO, National Guard units should stay in their respective states and not be posted overseas at all. Regular Army members ridicule the effectiveness of National Guard troops in Iraq and Afgahnistan.

You are of course right about the U.S. fighting two wars on the Asian land mass. Neither war seems to be ending well for the U.S. In Iraq it seems that the major result of the U.S. war is to increase the influence of Iran in Iraq, an unintended consequence if there ever was one. In Afganistan the suppression of the Taliban is probably temporary, and most likely the Taliban will control most of the country once U.S. troops leave.

The recent success of U.S. Navy Seals in killing Osama bin Ladin suggests to me that it would be a good idea to expand our special forces. That would be expensive, but I think it would be a far better use of defense dollars than a new Air Force fighter or a new aircraft carrier for the Navy. Currently, from a source I cannot name, we have Green Beret special forces in Libya. My guess is that these special forces, though low in numbers, may be highly effective in fighting the Gadafi forces and keeping them from winning the civil war there. Of course Libya has oil, and regardless of public proclamations, the U.S. tends to get involved in conflicts where large quantities of oil are at stake. Relatively small numbers of special forces may be much more effective than divisions of regular Army troops--and cheaper and more discreet, too.

I really wish that one of the economists on this thread would explain for me (I am simple minded when it comes to economics)how the U.S. can spend 800 Billion dollars a year on budget for the DOD and 300 plus billion a year off budget for the several military actions when the total income of the government is reported to be 1.6 trillion dollars. It seems to me, the simpleton that I am that eventually either the military must be cut or all other programs will be cancelled. Interest paid last year was reported to be 360 billion dollars. If classical economics will show how this can be done I would be thrilled to learn it.

The government can sustainably get away with spending somewhat more than it takes in. It can close the gap by printing money. If the amount printed is low enough to just cover the need of the economy for expanding money supply it is sustainable. I suspect that "free" amount is a couple percent of GDP, i.e. not close to the current bleed rate.

But we have esentially built a trap for ourselves. Not raising taxes is unthinkable heresy. Not expanding military funding is heresy. Not maintaining social security and medicare is political suicide, as the repubs just discovered. trying to rein in healthcare costs is politically unthinkable, as the pharma-medical-industrial complex owns the governemnt just as much as the military-security-industrial complex does. So we have huge political forces, to make sure the big inefficient programs stay inefficient and grow exponentially, and then another political dynamic that says, hey you can't raise revenue to cover it.

During several past decades the U.S. has spent far far more as a percentage of GDP on the military than we do now.

What is causing the rapid increase in federal spending is the rapid increase in entitlement spending (transfer payments), especially for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. If present trends continue, Medicare would account for all of GDP in a few decades. Of course, present trends will not continue.

In terms of the past seventy years it is just plain counter to the facts to assert that U.S. military spending is particularly high at the present time. Of course, resonable people can differ on how much "defense" spending is enough. The costs of not spending enough on military preparedness are huge: That is what got us into World War II. The costs of spending too much on the military are obvious. But let us look at a specific example--the Cold War. Did the U.S. spend much more than necessary to deter the Soviets from attacking the U.S. and its allies? Or did we spend about the right amount to do a very necessary job that was enormously expensive? My reading of history suggests that the balance of terror was an effective strategy but also a very expensive one. Note that the U.S. unequivocally won the Cold War.

There is a Latin saying that translates, "If you seek peace, prepare for war."
It is notable that some countries that spend a lot on defence, such as Switzerland, have avoided war for two hundred years. Until recent years, Sweden also spent heavily on its military. Note that Israel is so well armed (at great cost to their economy) that no coalition of Arab states dares to attack that country.

Although I support current levels of U.S. spending on the military, I think that where we are putting the dollars (e.g. into the F-35 fighter) is quite wrong, as I've stated in various comments above.

Come on, one can't simply ignore the enormous price of these wars (and the future obligations to GIs) and the massive tax cuts of the Bush years. In the long run the point you make will have more validity, but today, social security and medicare taxes are almost or entirely paying for those programs. I am not counting the trust funds, just the actual flow of dollars from taxes to programs.

Yup. There is no reason that one country needs to spend 40% of the amount of money spent by everyone everywhere on military to secure its borders.

Saying otherwise is absurd on the face of it.

There is not Pax Americana. We started and are waging the major wars going on today. We have waged wars, overt and covert, almost constantly almost all of our choosing for over 100 years.


One has to be quite thoroughly propagandized not to know this, but most Americans are just that.

We cannot afford 1.2 trillion USD and that is fact.

"Did the U.S. spend much more than necessary to deter the Soviets from attacking the U.S. and its allies?"

By-oh-Boy Don would I like to sit down with you and some beer to discuss that one!

The USSR was never going to attack the US or its allies. They were scared ***-less for most of their 70 years. I think all they really wanted was a reasonable buffer between them and the western culture that had invaded twice within a qtr century, killing perhaps 40 million Russians and threatened and harrassed them for the entire existance of the USSR.

OK so Stalin was a monster but I think even he was happy to terrorize just Russia when left alone. Even under Stalin the USSR actually treated the Germans relatively well after the war, all things considered.


You have some good ideas...although we are not in 100% synch, if we were in Congress we could do some good deals.

Hows the Wx up there?

It finally became Summer down here...clear and sunny and in the 90s...I really liked and will miss our cool Spring that just ended...if we don't get some rain by the end of next month I fear for the forests North and South of here...we haven't had significant rain since January and I have already seem some water bombers (old P-2 Neptunes I believe) shuttling back and forth on certain days...

Happy Memorial Day

I've done a small amount of reading of the history. There was quite a string of events which preceded our major combat efforts in Vietnam which set the stage for what happened later. Events after WW II, including the Berlin Blockade in 1948, the communist win in China in 1949, the Korean War in 1950, the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolt in 1956, the start of the missile race after Sputnik 1 in October 1957, the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the building of the Berlin Crisis in 1961 leading up to the Wall, all fed the general perception of the threat of Soviet conquest of the world. The French loss in Indochina was just seen as another "domino" in that march of conquest. As for Eisenhower's lack of support for the French, the French deployment was based on the assumption that their troops could be supplied by air power, which turned out to be a bad choice.

Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson were WW II veterans and their perception of world events were formed by that war and the subsequent events. Eisenhower, ever the General, left Kennedy with the ready-to-go invasion of the Bay of Pigs, which turned out to be a debacle, since there was no air support for the landing. Kennedy soon had to face the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when we were very near the start of a nuclear war. The entire nuclear arms race and missile race was predicated on the idea of Massive Retaliation and Mutually Assured Destruction, both of which are meaningless without the Soviets understanding that the US would use that force, if events reached that point. These leaders from WW II all knew that Hitler could have been stopped early on, but that did not happen, with the result being WW II. Eisenhower and then Kennedy may have thought it necessary to show the Soviets that we were serious about opposing their expansion efforts, thus our support of the puppet government in South Vietnam. But, Kennedy was killed and LBJ was left holding the bag and LBJ didn't have real combat experience, being first a politician...

E. Swanson

Eisenhower certainly did the right thing in refusing to intervene in the French-Viet Minh war.

However, he did not do the right thing in allowing/supporting the establishment of Diem's government in south Viet Nam and the cancellation of the 1956 plebiscite on unification with north Viet Nam. By the time Kennedy came to power in 1961, the US had for several years been backing Mr. Diem's Republic of Viet Nam. The course of US policy was set.

Of course Kennedy took it further, and Johnson sent hundreds of thousands of troops. But Eisenhower doesn't get off scot free either.

I was in the same situation, and I agree completely with you. When everyone has a dog in the hunt so to speak, they view the hunt, and its necessity, in a more critical manner.

There is no attempt to stop mass migration of Mexicans into the U.S. It is welcomed with open arms. Moreover, they themselves become the very troops that you speak of and think we need more of. A contradiction in thought if there ever was one!

Mexican/"Hispanic" growth is responsible for more than 50% of U.S. population growth over the last decade. You need to visit Los Angeles and Houston and Miami.

The U.S. is no longer a lily white republic only interested in defending its borders (if it ever was that). It's a multicultural business/military empire that recognizes no limits to its expansion or its control - it wants 350, 400, 500 million people all working to make GDP grow, and young men can always join the military if they can't get other jobs, as the empire is always looking for more recruits.

Now, I'm simply describing things as they are. You can argue back and forth which is the better direction to take. But every single indication is that America welcomes its Hispanicization, because it leads to greater population and thereby greater power, in a nation which recognizes no limits to either.

I have certain experience in military analysis...

You have mentioned two missions you envision for the U.S. military: sealing the U.S-Mexican border and eliminating or seriously suppressing Worldwide piracy.

Both these missions combined do not nearly justify current U.S. military expenditures.

Again, I do not buy into the 'Pax Americana' concept: The last I heard the piracy off off Somalia was contained by a multinational effort...U.S., European, Indian, even Chines naval vessels. How big of a problem is piracy right now anyways...seems like old news to me...but I bet the MIC would love to build 50-110 $400-500M Littoral Combat Ships to chase that phantom menace.

Why should the U.S. sign up to be the Lord of the seas...if we do that I say we tax all naval vessels for our protection racket. Of course not all shipping goes to/comes from the U.S. ... ergo, why should we bleed ourselves dry and let the other countries with a vested interest in unmolested shipping get a free ride?

Sealing the U.S.-Mexican border requires a whole lot of troops...I figure given the length and nature of the border, two-person armed teams with appropriate overlapping spacing, enough folks for three shifts to cover 24 hrs, and enough folks to cover retirements and separations and provide management, supply, training, and IG functions, and folks in reserve to cover leave, sick days, etc...call that ~ 160,000 troops to counter a serious, persistent effort (much more than we are now experiencing) to illegally enter the U.S. And then equipage with various sidearms, M-16s, M-60s, helicopters, C-27s, C-130s, Predators, Global Hawks, etc. A whole lot of troops, but a lot less than we currently have.

As far as increasing enlisted pay to recruit not only higher-quality (physical and mental) recruits, but more of them than we recruit currently...good luck with that! We would rapidly find out about receding horizons on that quest. Besides, MILPAY and benefits are a huge target for an upcoming haircut...if you have read all the military association magazines, etc. you would know that there have been trial balloons about ending the 20 or nothing defined benefit retirement system the active duty now enjoys; You know how TRICARE replaced the previous system which largely relied on MTFs (Military Treatment Facilities) for treating AD and dependents; and you may be cognizant that TRICARE for retirees is going to cost a lot more (in premiums and co-pays) in the future...maybe military retirees who fulfilled their 'unlimited liability' contract will end up getting Paul Ryan's healthcare vouchers with the rest of the folks...

As I have said before...if we could wean ourselves off of ME oil, then we would lose a whole lot of justifications for forces and their attendant costs...as for China, we are lovers, not fighters...the two Koreas will be united one way or another, and China will absorb Taiwan back into the fold...in fact, those two events may be linked. When those things happen, so will go even more justifications to cut MIC expenditures. Pakistan and and India will have to learn to live with each other...or they will exchange nukes, and they and the rest of the World will be a much sadder place...but there is little we can do to help them behave themselves.

As you or someone stated downthread, unfortunately there seems to be a high likelihood of the U.S. military bringing peace, prosperity, and Democracy to the fine people of Venezuela...unless they embrace the wisdom of allowing U.S. business to help them develop their heavy oil and ship it to us first.

We built over 700 A-10s...

How about we offer to build a few thousand bright shiny new A-10s and sell them to the ROK and IDF and our other protectorates? That way they can fight their own battles!

Or how about this...we take some of the allocation of troops we currently have and beef up the National Guard and Reserves...and train them to operate heavy equipment, distribute food, fix power and gas lines, render medical care, etc. and have them stationed in their home states as a robust response force to deal with disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and yes, terrorist attacks. Equip them with C-130s, C-27s, HH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 Chinooks, etc. They could help contain forest fires as well...


I think our level of military spending is about right for the only superpower on earth.

Pray tell what did we get for the $1 Trillion we wasted laying waste to Iraq which still produces less oil than it did before Bush's
invasion? And what exactly has anyone gained from the 10 year War
in Afghanistan?
We are still wasting $170 Billion on Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which, not to even mention
moral issues of killing people, have not gained back any return.
Why are we selling $60 Billion in arms to Saudi Arabia while also
arming Israel?
This is just madness...
Did we not go through this once before arming Iran to the teeth
before the Iranian Revolution which then put all those weapons in
the hands of the Islamic regime?
And MOST important and never to be forgotten!

Why do my tax dollars have to go to pay for not only 1,000 military
bases to wreak havoc around the world but 234 golf courses overseas??
Bring the golf courses home!
We need them here along with our thousands of troops!

Re: Gas tanks are draining family budgets

First, the link doesn't work. It is a link to this drumbeat.

Second, How are people spending $369 on average a month on gasoline. I spend about $35 a month on gas, and while I realize it is a bit low, I don't know how I could spend 10x as much. You would have to drive 2,000 miles a month to do that. And most people in this country don't have a car.

Here's a correct link: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2011-05-28-gasoline-pric...

As for the numbers, I was a little mystified myself. So let's do the math. Cafe standards for U.S. vehicles are something like 25 mpg right now, but will drop to something like 20 mpg for older cars. Average miles driven is 12,000 miles/year = 1,000 miles per month. Average gas price is something like $3.90/gal. So that's $156-$195 per month per vehicle depending on if it's new or not. Given that a household is typically two cars, that means your household can spend $300-$400 per month on gas easily.

For myself, my hybrid civic has averaged 47 mpg, and every time I fill up reduces the loss I took on paying more for the hybrid than a regular vehicle up front. I'm not saving money yet, but it should pay itself off after 130k miles in the worst case scenario. *edit* I should note that every nickel per gallon that the average I pay in gas goes up, it reduces the pay-off mileage by 8k miles. Over the last couple of months, the pay-off mileage has been dropping rapidly.

but it should pay itself off after 130k miles in the worst case scenario. *edit* I should note that every nickel per gallon that the average I pay in gas goes up, it reduces the pay-off mileage by 8k miles.

130k miles seems like a very long payoff - 11 years at average mileage - well beyond the average ownership period.

Also, the reduction for the nickel increase will actually be a % reduction. By your numbers, an 80c increase (not out of the question) would make the payoff zero miles, and that's impossible.

Currently, I'm driving about 15k per year, which means it's about 8.5 years. The batteries are warrantied for 8 years/100k miles, so it's a bit of a risk. The most likely case scenario is 94k miles. You're correct that the nickel per gallon is a percent, that's just what it's at right now. As for the ownership period -- the vehicle this hybrid replaced was a 23 year old 4Runner. That is, I'm in the the duration. :)

The reason why I've got worst and best case scenarios is because of how you compensate for what kind of fuel economy you'd get if you were driving a non-hybrid vehicle. You can change your driving habits in a hybrid so that you really push the fuel economy up, but it's not clear how much you can do that on a regular car given terrain, etc. If you just use the CAFE standards for average fuel economy, it's something 7.8 years.

And most people in this country don't have a car.

According to this article, there were 246 million automobiles in the US in 2009. The US population is a bit over 300 million, a fraction which are too young to own an automobile, so most people of driving age in US do own an automobile.

It's hard to believe, but the average American household burns about 100 gallons of gasoline per month. This includes people like you, Consumer, who only burn one tenth of the average, and this must mean that others burn way more.

It does seem high, but maybe some who have to do a lot of driving are pushing up the average. For some workers, it's not possible to live near your job b/c that keeps changing. I'm thinking of my dad and sister who are electricians. When a job comes up, you drive there, for however long the job lasts. My sister's last job was at the San Onofre in San Clemente. She drove from San Marcos to San Onofre 6 days a week for that job. And gas is high there.

Also, in families with two workers, whose schedules or job locations don't allow for car pooling, filling two tanks can add up.

We don't spend anywhere near the average cited in the article, but I can see where some would...


Jim Hansen's latest paper on AGW.

We describe scenarios that define how rapidly fossil fuel emissions must be phased down to restore Earth's energy balance and stabilize global climate. A scenario that stabilizes climate and preserves nature is technically possible and it is essential for the future of humanity. Despite overwhelming evidence, governments and the fossil fuel industry continue to propose that all fossil fuels must be exploited before the world turns predominantly to clean energies. If governments fail to adopt policies that cause rapid phase-down of fossil fuel emissions, today's children, future generations, and nature will bear the consequences through no fault of their own. Governments must act immediately to significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions to protect our children's future and avoid loss of crucial ecosystem services, or else be complicit in this loss and its consequences.


It would be nice if TOD got serious about AGW.

The world is going to finish burning through its coal and oil and gas reserves in the next 40 years. The US with a 100 million person increase in population over the next 30 years will be hard pressed to slow its consumption of fossil hydrocarbons. So what temperature raise will be the result of burning all the remaining hydrocarbons?

If by super strong actions the world was able to limit future burning to only 50% of the remaining reserves (so 75% of initial stock burned) what would be the temperature raise?

3C per doubling is the standard, but is wrong. 3C only covers the short-term changes and none of the long-term changes, which means it doesn't represent climate sensitivity at all, so let's call it 3Cstd, or 3C per doubling for short-term effects only. The true sensitivity is much higher, somewhere between 4.5 - 6, imo, and is why the science is constantly behind reality with climate.

3Cstd has already wrought @ 0.8 increase with an additional 1.2 coming. We are now nearing 400ppm. See how odd it all is? Supposedly, sensitivity is 3C, but with only a 33% rise in CO2 we are expected to get 2C. How does that work?

IMO, we don't even have the decade the Australians recently said we have. They or some other group recently said we have to peak emissions by 2015.

The answer is, bend over and kiss your butt goodbye if we don't get serious about this soon.

The poster who suggested TOD get serious about CC: you do realize that was tried and recently rejected? I agree, however. The intersect between energy and climate is the key, with energy being even less understood than climate, and nowhere is energy better discussed than here. Yet, energy is where it is easiest to get behavior to change. Changes in prices cause behavior change. The easiest way to tackle CC is through energy policies and education.

Unfortunately, a number of staff here were (are?) climate deniers, not in small part, it would seem, due to the influence of kjell Aleklett and Rutledge, both of whom are deniers of the we-can't-make-it-that-bad-because-there-aren't-enough-fossil-fuels stripe. I suppose that would have to change first, if it hasn't.

But, you can't effectively discuss CC as long as you allow the denialists to dominate the conversation, so you'd need a site dedicated to reality and not afraid to tell the denialists to shut up to make it work.

The EB does a good job of surveying the issues, but it's not a discussion site. Perhaps TOD and EB should talk merger/symbiosis. At any rate, until the energy and climate conversations start happening as one conversation, we're in deep trouble.

I guess there are different sorts of denial. When I saw a video of a talk by Routledge, I think he said something like a peak around 600 ppm and warming of 1-1.5 degrees C. Now, what he said was that by doing nothing we could meet the conventional wisdom goal of no more than 2 degrees C.

Now, today I read The Case for Young People by Hansen et al. and it made it seem like getting up to around 600 ppm is most likely and would be catastrophic and mean getting back down to 350 would take a very long time.

So when thinking of someone like Routledge, he might (as far as I know, I'm no expert and only recently began looking at details of either PO or AGW, and someo f my numbers may be off as well) be right that the projections for 4 degrees C rises are nonsensical, but still be off when it comes to what more realistic projections mean.

What, in your mind, is a non-denialist PO-informed range for CO2 levels and temperatures over the next 50-100 years if we burn all the fossil fuels we can?

Well, most of you have probably already read this, but for those who haven't, I found this thread at Real Climate, parts of which address the issue of fossil fuel depletion.


To quote the Uppsalla report

"We argue that numerous SRES scenarios need to be revised, generally downward, regarding production expectations from fossil fuels. Several scenarios agree poorly with reality over the recent years and some can even be ruled out. SRES is underpinned by a paradigm of perpetual growth and technological optimism as well as old and outdated estimated regarding the availability of fossil energy. Just as its withdrawn preceding report from 1992 (Gray, 1998), the future energy production projections for fossil in SRES (2000) are exaggerated and so are the resulting emissions. What kind of repercussions this has on the future climate is an open question which needs to be assessed from several different angles."

It seems that CC and PO folks see the world in radically different terms. How much carbon emission can the CC folks accept over the next 40 years? How much total production do the PO folks expect over the next 40 years?

It seems that CC and PO folks see the world in radically different terms.

I lot of that is glass half full, versus glass half empty. Also PO types are concerned about high quality FFs running out, CC community is worried that even crappy FF will be consumed. There is a lot of stuff that could be burned (low grade brown coal, peat moss, marlstone(oil-shale), but would be both very dirty and pretty expensive per net BTU.

Yes, we could do stupid things like use nuclear to extract oil-precursors from Marlstone.


There is also an interaction between the effects one expects to result from PO and the effects that one expects from CC.

For example, if the consequences of PO are global economic collapse and social destabilization, followed by famine, war and disease, you could possibly get down below 1 billion global population by mid to late 21st century. Given that scenario, it's not clear that a few degrees warming and several meters of sea level rise significantly affect the outcome.

Conversely, if a rise in temperature affects agriculture broadly, enables the spread of tropical disease into temperate areas, and innundates agricultural lands, coastal cities and infrastructure faster than it can be rebuilt, then the resulting economic collapse and social destabilization. followed by famine, war and disease will terminate the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

The most likely scenario is somewhere in between.

"The most likely scenario is somewhere in between."


It's a toss-up as to whether the world ends by lack of fire or lack of ice.

It's already somewhere in between. That is a moot point, imo, because leaving either unaddressed will reinforce the other. It's obvious that if we address PO, but not climate, all we will do is slow down the inevitable on the climate side. Hansen makes the startling observation something like one power plant overwhelms the natural system. We cannot passively end climate changes, we have to0 actively create a global system that actually draws it down, then stabilizes.

If we address climate, but not PO - for example still using FFs, but using reforestation and various geo-engineering approaches, we will still hit all the other limits to growth.

The issue is, are we going to repeat the patterns of the past, an unending rise and collapse process, or strive for something different, imo, better? All the other stuff discussed is such a waste of time. The military discussion? How do you have a military budget in a non-growth world? And why would you need one? If the system isn't global, it's not sustainable. Full stop.

Hybrids? Can't be done for a planet of 7 - 12 billion sustainably. Full stop.

And on and on. If you aren't framing your discussions in terms of sustainable outcomes, you are still part of the past. I don't know what combination of nations or localized autonomy or technology or green space and agriculture we must end up with, but I do know virtually everything must be different. Discussing anything else at this late date, except in terms of making the transition, is akin to sitting discussing the unsinkability of the Titanic even as she is slowly dumping you into the ocean.

Both CC and PO folks are victims of their own preconceptions... which is why I prefer to get all my facts from Fox News and the Chamber of Commerce.

Srsly, though, I expect that in 10 years there'll be very few climate scientists ignoring fossil fuel depletion in their projections, and vice versa (whatever that means). And not because scientists will suddenly become less provincial (of course there are many many exceptions, I don't mean to imply all scientists are).

P.S. I realize now it's Rutledge, not Routledge...

"Science progresses one funeral at a time." -- Max Planck

Climate scientists do not ignore FF issues. The IPCC scenarios include energy, they are just old. Hansen has specifically referenced Rutledge's work. You all act as if PO was as widely known and discussed pre-2005 as it is today.

The next IPCC report will be out next year, and all reports indicate it will be scary stuff.

See my earlier post as to why the reserves/future emissions issue is moot except for discussing how quickly we can get off them while using them to transition to a carbon-negative (till we get back to 250- 280 ppm CO2) economy.

The SRES scenarios do not take into account the teratons of CH4 that will be released from melting permafrost zones and places such as the East Siberian Arctic shelf. So any discussion about "overestimates" of fossil fuel CO2 misses the target by a mile.

Analysis of economic activity over the last several centuries shows that it always maximizes CO2 production. There are still enough fossil fuel resources (including coal) to get us to 700 ppmv. But with the massive missing CH4 sources we are really looking at close to 1000 ppmv CO2 equivalent over spans of decades. The CO2 sink of the oceans is shrinking as they warm and by 2100 is projected to be 30% of the level in 2000 under the timid SRES scenarios. As it appears now we will turn the oceans into net CO2 sources in the next several centuries. This is ignoring the destruction of the land biomass reservoir. When the label anthropocene is thrown up it is dead serious. CO2 levels will return to the 300 ppmv level only in several hundred thousand years.

Pitting peak oil against AGW has got to be some sort of malicious ploy. They are not mutually exclusive and in fact share the same solution as far as society is concerned.

From what I read it seemed like the main flaw in Rutledge's analysis (of CO2, not methane) was that it doesn't account for unconventional sources. But I don't imagine that would make the difference between 450 and 700 ppm. If you're familiar with his analysis, could you please be specific about where you differ? I'd really appreciate it because I only came across this question relatively recently and am interested in becoming better informed so would like to know a little about how the various numbers are arrived at. I'm guessing one possibility has to do with resources vs reserves (Rutledge wasn't talking about how much coal exists, but how much we can expect will be 'produced').

Regarding Rutledge, I have been puzzling over his approach for a while now.

(Unfortunately R seems to have recently diverted into picking holes in past records of land surface temperature data, IPCC et al.. In my opinion we do not learn much of significance on this from Rutledge and that Hansen deals with this issue better and more rationally: see LINK to H above.)

Rutledge calculates that burning of fossil fuels, under 'peak & decline extraction rates' scenarios results in around a mid/late century peak of around 450ppm CO2. (There has to be significant uncertainty in R's calculation, based as it is on previous criteria for 'economic' fossil fuel extraction. I personally need to compare Rutledge with the more fundamentally plausible calculations of WHT presented on this forum and at latter's mobjectivist site. Have not done so.)

Rutledge then iterates that because of the long residence time in the atmosphere of a significant percentage of CO2 emission, that any reduction of C emission over next decades will not materially effect final outcome; i.e. what matters, in R's hypothesis, is final total C emission over centuries and, in his calculation, the not so large, even then, higher global equilibium temperature.

This contrasts markedly it seems with Hansen's data and calculation; see H's Figures 5 & 6, where H also deals with the long fat-tail effect for atmospheric CO2 residence time. Hansen's data/calculation suggests probable climate tipping points and very prolonged danger of calamity if global emission of CO2 continues to deliver the same as now average increases for next 20 years or so. I personally see no sign of this rate of CO2 addition slowing much over the next 20 years, if at all, even taking in to account increasing geological constraints on oil, NG, coal during that time. (There has been an increase of ~30ppm during the period since I first started to pay attention in early 1980s. I expect that rise to continue. It would be nice to live long enough to see this yearly rise in CO2 levels slow down, but at my age that seems very unlikely.)

Hansen says we (industrial civilization) are forced to confront choices. Rutledge seems to think that as far as climate change (radiation entrapment) is concerned it will play itself out with likely much lower levels of CO2 than IPCC previous 'catastrophe' scenarios suggest, and compares a rise of below (edit) 2 degC to IPCC's earlier targetting of a 'safe' temperature. Very different balance of risks compared wih Hansen, but seems to me that Hansen is the one who pitches it about right about the remaining time-window.

Looking at Rutledge's numbers, he has CO2 emissions peaking at <8 GtC in 2020, and then falling to 1/10 the level in 100 years. This significant cutback in fossil fuel use gives a maximum of 460 ppm by 2100.

I didn't do the calculation for that scenario but I did a scenario where CO2 emissions are maintained at a constant level from 2007 and this gives 540 ppm by 2100.

I don't have the grasp to calculate a temperature rise out of these numbers.

I don't have the grasp to calculate a temperature rise out of these numbers.

You could take the (simplistic) Charney stuff:
Trise = Sens *(log(CO2 conc)/log(280)/log(2))
The most likely value of Sens is 3C. Much of climate research is trying to pin down what the sensitivity actually is.

It's not 3C. That much we can discern simply from observing that changes are greater at 0.8 than they should be. That is, even if the temperature change is 3C, the effects are so far much greater than expected at the current temp rise totals so "safe" is well below what has been assumed.

However, the reality is that the physical changes are already beginning with the slow feedbacks indicating that temp rise so far does not reflect eventual temp rise. There are lags in the system. That is, we are back at 3C simply being too conservative when the full system is included.

Fold in other than fast feedbacks,and I won't argue with you. The Charney stuff only counts fast feedbacks, albedo change due to snow/ice loss (other than seasonal) and changes in vegetation are slow feedbacks which increase the longer timescale sensitivity.

I made the observation elsewhere, though not above, that if we accept that the 3C temp change is accurate - understanding that Charney is a range, not a specific number, despite it most often being discussed in threads such as this as if 3C = Charney when in reality it is something like 1.5 - 4.5 with 3 - 3.3 being considered most likely - then we must accept that the climate is much more sensitive to temp changes than we thought. At the end of the day, this is a six of one, half-dozen of the other/distinction without a difference issue.

Regardless of why, changes are coming faster than expected making it time to poop or get off the pot.

The problem is that his powerpoint slide refers to the Schmitz model without any specifics about what the sinks are doing in the next 100 years. Supposing his analysis of anthropogenic carbon sources is valid (which it is not) I get a net addition of over 250 gigatons by 2070, which is 520 ppmv instead of the 446 ppmv in 2065 claimed. This is based on a linear decline in the ocean sink (since it will be nonlinear the final increase will be higher). So he is not taking into account the reduction of the ocean carbon sink in the next 100 years. This is a serious omission that renders the whole modeling exercise pointless.

To get the atmosphere to 700 ppmv requires 682 gigatons of net carbon release. In the above I assumed the landuse and vegetation cycles were fixed. They are not going to remain fixed and it is highly dubious that vegetation will be a net carbon sink by 2100. If we are not releasing just 0.8 gigatons of Carbon into the atmosphere by 2100 (a total collapse of civilization and significant population decline level of emission) and the landuse+vegetation goes from a net sink of 0.6 Gt/year to a net source then the additional 430 Gt can find its way into the atmosphere.

Supposing Rutledge is more right than wrong, my calculations lead me to believe that we will still see over 550 ppmv CO2 by 2100 without any CH4 release. This is in the Antarctic ice sheet melt range regardless of hysteresis.

The Columbia paper shows a return to 350ppm by about 2250. Where do you get the "several hundred thousand years" from for a return to 300ppm?

I haven't seen the Columbia paper but it is pretty standard science that the CO2 lasts a long time. It must equilibrate with several reservoirs of differing capacity and time constants, the slowest is the deep ocean. Once that is saturated (or more precisely inequilibrium with atmospheric concentrations), we must wait for the slow process of silicate weathering, with a time scale of greater than a hundred thousand years. Getting back on a century time scale would require some very agressive geoengineering.

What they call the Charney sensitivity, the response to a doubling of CO2, is roughly 3C. 600ppm is a bit higher than that, so most likely around 3.3C, which is more than twice his estimate. I'll bet he choose the very lowest end of the distribution (probability of warming X amount for a doubling), and then say's "gee whizz, whats the big deal". The big deal is that getting only that much means we have to be really lucky.

Thanks! From your comment and some other reading I did since I got suspicious that I remembered it wrong. So I looked back at Rutledge's talk and his prediction was actually around 450 ppm, not 600 and 1 to 1.5 degrees C. So there is a bit more of a gap between them.

If you take the sensitivity to be 3C, 450ppm would yield 2.05C, drop the sensitivity to 2, and you could reach below 1.5. So it is on the lower end of the distribution, (maybe 20% or so) not way way out on the tail. Of course 450ppm also seems highly unlikely.

"450ppm also seems highly unlikely"



"Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink"

"Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" – is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say."

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. "These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path ... would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100," he said."

My lord. That's a 5% rise in a single year, in a sluggish world economy. Either people are burning a lot more than is being reported, or are using more and more dirty fuels, or the clathrates have reached the tipping point.

In the West we use petroleun for leisure activities like vaccation and sports event or driving to partys, or living and working at different locations. This means the amount of "usefull stuff" we get out of every unit of fuel is low. Therefore we are willing to pay less for the fuel.

In poor countries they use the fuel to mainly feed their children. So the share of the fuel that do usefull stuff is much higher. Therefore, they are willing to pay more for the fuel than we are - not despite but because - they are poorer.

The consequense of this is that in every economic resession after Peak Oil, a share of the oil consumption will move over from West to East and South.

In the end, more and more fuel will be burnt at roads like these:


Don't forget the impacts of deforestation and agriculture.

If people can't afford fossil fuels for heating and cooking they will go back to burning wood and other biomass.

Yes, I agree, but I was referring specifically to this one-year massive rise, which likely was not due to a bunch of people suddenly burning more wood. Chindia, most likely.

This has been an excellent thread. I want to congratulate you all, but give special mention to majorian and dissident for their excellent info and elucidations. The thanks is both for the excellence of the thread - a real pleasure and rarity in CC/AGW conversations - and for saving me a huge amount of time and effort answering YM.

A few quick hits.

Quick Hit: 2C rise over pre-industrial

** This is very important to understand. When we speak of a 2C rise and limiting global temperatures to that threshold, we are talking of change already done. That additional 1.2C (currently @ 0.8C over pre-industrial) is heat already in the oceans. It is not 1.2 that will come from future emissions and heat being trapped, it is what we have already done and what we will see even if all anthropogenic emissions stopped today. All additional carbon in the atmosphere is additional future heat over and above 2C.

Quick Hit:

A.) The error made by Rutledge and Aleklett is a simple one, and cannot be anything but intentional because it is otherwise freakishly naive and/or contradictory. Both men are scientists. Both claim to be taking a scientific look at CC via energy and what that means for maximum future warming, but both also will not consider any science since the last IPCC report. This is beyond odd. It is unscientific because the IPCC reports are nothing but glorified literature reviews layered with an analysis of the consensus as taken from the literature.

It is even stranger that they should do this since the explosion in knowledge and data has been immense since the last report.

Quick Hit: Here are things we did not know at the time of the last IPCC report:

- Sea ice melts primarily from ocean warming, not atmospheric warming. 2:1 ratio.
- Antarctica has a net mass loss each year already.
- SLR will be a minimum of 1m this century.
- Methane releases from clathrates are already happening, and the release from Siberian shelf alone equals that of all world oceans already.
- Rapid Arctic sea ice melt affects up to 1k miles inland creating a positive feedback for permafrost clathrates.
- Greenland ice sheet melt rate is currently doubling each decade.
- Greenland may be vulnerable to largely melting away at CO2 levels as low as 400 ppm according to paleo-climate data from Hansen, et al.
- Arctic sea ice may be largely melted in summer as early as 2013. This was reinforced by a very recent follow-up study.
- Record warm and record cold temps, generally about even over the last century or two, and likely going back thousands of years given we had been in a gentle cooling down slope for thousands of years, are currently at about a 2:1 ratio.

Quick Hit: All of the above are decades-to-centuries ahead of schedule. All of them. Since the long-term feedbacks are supposedly barely kicking in, how is it that we are seeing effects we should not be seeing until we have already hit 2C warming or more? What this tells us is simple and inescapable: the Charney sensitivity range may still be intact, but that it is at the mid-range or low range of the scale is laughably,demonstrably false. What is base climate sensitivity? Don't know, but I am absolutely sure it is higher than 3C. How can it be otherwise?

Quick Hit: Anecdotal evidence of massive climate gyrations are all around us. This past year may be anomalous, but likely is not, imo. Statistically, terms such as "100 yr. (event)", "500 yr. (event)" and even "1000 yr. (event)" are losing their meaning and becoming what the youth of today will consider the good old days when they still had snow in winter and there were still EF1 and EF2 tornadoes.

* It's not about PO or CC or the economy, it is about risk assessment. Put another way, it is about all of them. The greatest risk of not addressing PO is the potential fall of civilization, or a greatly reduced scale of civilization/greatly simplified (in ways most would find abhorrent) civilization. The greatest risk of CC is a great extinction that would include most or all of humanity.

It is not rational, it is not logical, it is not prudent to take that risk. In other words, even if Aleklett and Rutledge are correct in their CO2 projections, given the risk that Greenland can potentially melt (and all that implies about what would be going on with all other climate issues) at 400 ppm CO2 and Arctic sea ice is already in a death spiral at less than 400 ppm CO2 (and all that implies, including enhancing Greenland ice melt), the risk is already far beyond worth taking.

This is what those who otherwise are doing good work advocating for change to mitigate PO fail to understand: We are already beyond the point at which additional risk is acceptable. God help us if we can't stop the ice and clathrates.

Let me be clear: it does not matter how much we have in the way of reserves of any of the FFs because we simply cannot afford to put any additional GHGs in the atmosphere.

Quick Hit: Most of the answers for PO and CC are the same, but not all of them. A slow phase out of FFs over 5 decades only works if mitigation ramps up during that same time such that we can get carbon negative before we stop using them. I have posted many times some of the solutions:

- Restore forest ecosystems, not just trees; they will be very vulnerable if planted as mono-crops and will sequester far more carbon if developed as whole ecosystems. We can take Hansen's number for forests and at least double it, I'd guess, if all orchards currently existing and all future orchards are managed this way.

- Regenerative farming on a global scale using only land currently under production can sequester an amount equal to 40% of current emissions.

- Power down: Self-explanatory, and by far the most effective mitigation effort we can undertake.

- Grow food producing ecosystems (edible forest gardens)

This is a short and partial list, but those efforts alone would get us to or near carbon neutrality. There are other "slices" of pie that deal with some of the detail of powering down, from various sources, but they all have one flaw: they assume some form of BAU. This is foolish, imo, for many reasons, Jevons' not the least of them.

I believe I posted here a recent paper demonstrating the relationship between energy and growth. That paper also estimated that using both power down and mitigation we still could not avoid collapse. I disagree. That simple model did not take the things above into account. It did not consider a transition to regenerative systems.

Thanks for the details, very helpful! And I'd echo the gratitude for the thread.

Plus 10. You have encapsulated why I would be in a state of extreme, near suicidal depression, if I got all that depressed any more. Whether or not the regenerative systems you talk about can withstand incessant heat and drouth, I don't know.

Was watching CNN weather yesterday and they were talking about all the extreme weather we have had over the last couple of months. I actually thought they were going to connect the dots as I think the weather man on CNN is certainly bright enough to do that. But he stopped short and the discussion devolved into speculation about warm water and its relationship to hurricanes. You are proposing solutions and we have not even got to the level of a continuing recognition of the problems and their causes. It is a conspiracy of happy face news, I think, and not just a conspiracy of the powers that be such as the coal companies wanting us to keep burning.

We keep coming back to these tired debates about whether solar or wind are scalable or economical. Well, we are like the man going over the cliff who thinks he has time to debate whether or not the vine in reach is strong enough to hold him. Who knows? Maybe he can survive the thousand foot fall after all.

Meanwhile, the liberal wing of the business party opens up a thousand additional acres of coal, much of which will be exported.

It's alllllllll about money. We must change how money works.

The world and everyone in it is a complete slave to money although I'm sure there will be many here who will say "nope, money is just a benign form of exchange" BS!

Everything, every decision to do something or not do something has money at the top of the list of considerations.

We are making decisions every day as to whether people live or die based on money. We are, right now, making decisions as to whether the planet can support life or not simply based on money.

The solution to any on of the multitude of constraints facing mankind are not possible as they will all cause massive economic collapse. All of them.

Yet right now as we speak the top 1% are being handed obscene amounts of money. Thats because they and everyone on the many rungs of the ladder under them believe that they are improving the chances of them and theirs surviving by doing whatever it takes to get more MONEY. Even preppers and survivalist.

What everyone needs to understand that that is simply not true. It's a monumental fantasy. In fact that mentality GUARANTEES the worst possible outcome, one that no amount of money will protect them from, a world so ugly and violent that even the most wealthy would have no interest in living in.

Until this is understood there can be no fundamental actions of any significance taken.

"I'd rather cry in the back seat of a BMW than smile on a back of a bike,"


Sounds like a serious ego problem to me. this person should try meditation.

One residual question regarding Rutledge:

He uses sea-surface temperature values, claiming that the land-surface data is poor in comparison (he frames it as land vs sea, not urban vs rural). This leads him to a lower value for the temperature sensitivity to CO2. Now, looking at Hansen's figure 13 at http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/UpdatedFigures/ it's clear that there is a large difference between land and sea temperatures. My question is how the divergence between sea and land temperatures is accounted for by people such as Hansen who don't follow Rutledge in just dismissing the land data.

You have to wonder what Rutledge is doing producing bizarre papers so far from his actual expertise, electrical engineering.
He's not a climate scientist or a geologist and he publishes results along the lines of Christopher Monckton.

Sure, but that doesn't answer my question. I'm not saying Rutledge is right in only using SST data, I just want to know what climate scientists say the divergence between sea and land data is due to (or, if they don't agree about it, what some of the hypotheses are).

I'm not a climate scientist but it pretty obvious that warming over land is greater than warming over the sea due to evaporation.
Of course, humans being live on the land so they are more likely
to affected by higher land temperatures than the earth as a whole.

Could you give some details please? I honestly don't know what kind of explanation you're suggesting. Though I could guess (as I do below) I'm not too sure that's what you mean.

At any rate, I was hoping to be told what the consensus view among climate scientists is. Wikipedia also shows the divergence in the NOAA charts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record
But it doesn't say what it's thought to be due to. The reference is to the IPCC fourth assessment, chapter 3. This is what it says there (p. 248):

"Warming occurred in two distinct phases (1915–1945 and since 1975),
and it has been substantially stronger over land than over the
oceans in the later phase, as shown also by the trends in Table
3.2. The land component has also been more variable from year
to year (compare Figures 3.1 and 3.4a,c,d). Much of the recent
difference between global SST (and NMAT) and global land
air temperature trends has arisen from accentuated warming
over the continents in the mid-latitude NH (Section,
Figures 3.9 and 3.10). This is likely to be related to greater
evaporation and heat storage in the ocean, and in particular to
atmospheric circulation changes in the winter half-year due to
the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)/NAM (see discussion in
Section 3.6.4). Accordingly the differences between NH and
SH temperatures follow a course similar to the plot of land air
temperature minus SST shown in Figure 3.8."

So it sounds like:
(a) Evaporation, as you say. Though I'm still not sure what's meant: is it that evaporation is endothermic and so some of the heat absorbed goes into that?
(b) Heat storage in the ocean (i.e. a lot of water which has a high heat capacity).
(c) Stuff to do with NAO, which I know nothing about.

In evaporation, heat causes water to turn into steam which takes about 1000 btus per pound which is a lot of energy (by comparison burning a pound of gasoline releases 17000 btus per pound).
Thermometers, including infrared satelites measurements, don't measure 'wet' heat only sensible heat.

You lose about 5 degreesF of heat for every 1000 feet of altitude.
As the moist hot air rises it gets cold and you get rain.
A rainstorm of .2" per hour will yield 1 pound of water in 1 hour.
In a hurricane you can get 10 times as much rain.

A btu is the amount of energy required to lift a pound of water 778 feet. You are turning heat energy into mechanical energy by evaporation, obviously.


This cycle is very important over the ocean but less important over land.

Ok I can give it a try. Especially with that nice quote in your post for a starter.

First, the heat of evaporisation of water is large. So if you have a surface of water (sea) then a lot of energy can be used for evaporation. So the actual temperature remain constant, same, or low (as it was).
If the land surface is fairly dry (soil, dry or moist), the amount of water going into the atmosphere is much less, so the actual temperature increases faster, of the solid stuff left. I would guess this can be considered an effect of Raoults law, for those more chememically interested.

Further the heat storage in the ocean is large, as heat capacity of water is also fairly large. Further, circulation (to the polar latitidues, and following deepwater formation) permit a sink of the energy, which is not present on land surfaces.

With the NAO I am on thin ice, without reading section 3.6.4, but a change in NAO, as we had in Europe the last 2 years, changes where the warm moist air from atlantic ends up (Greenland or Europe, for instance). If that would change in winter, more warming might arrive over the land masses. This is opposite of what has happened the last 2 years, by the way (well the energy ended up in Greenland land mass, not Europe, so it went over land, one could argue. And more heat in a bad place, the GReenland ice sheet...).

ok, that makes sense. I'm not sure about the later steps in the cycle (how much the average water vapor level increasing, what happens to the heat when it then gets released when more water vapor than before precipitates, etc.) but I'm quite satisfied.

Thank you and majorian for clearing that up for me.

This is "bathtub experiment" simple (Phil offers some of the science below): on a hot day, which warms more, the deck of the pool or the water in the pool? The rocks around the water hole or the water hole?

While water heats and cools easily, it holds a LOT of heat and the oceans are vast and deep and mix relatively slowly which means heat taken in today may not reach the deep ocean for years even though the surface water mixes pretty quickly due to winds and currents. Put another way, the water at the beach in So Cal is always colder than the water at Daytona Beach, Fl.

Land heats and cools a lot each day, but temps are pretty stable at about 5 ft. below the surface because rocks and soils don't transfer heat very readily. In fact, one reason mammals took over after the dinosaurs was because any animals burrowed into the soil, not even deeply, only experienced temperatures of about 95 degrees while the surface was an inferno.

Good point, but this if I get it, seems to make sense.
Hansen says , if I paraphrase correctly, that measuring the net heat balance ongoing over the land, but especially in the ice and ocean compartments is what counts. The ocean is subject to considerable lag, but is the key compartment. These measurements are what allows him to argue that it would be foolish to assume final equilibrium global temperatures between one and two degC could be 'safe'. The ocean and ice measurements already tell a momentous story even when temperatures so far suggest a change, given the heat inertia of the ocean, well short of one degC.

The vast global ocean is the primary reservoir for changes of Earth's heat content. Because of the importance of this measurement, nations of the world launched a cooperative Argo float program, which has distributed more than 3000 floats around the world ocean (Roemmich and Gilson, 2009). Each float repeatedly yoyos an instrument package to a depth of two kilometers and satellite-communicates the data to shore.
The Argo program did not attain planned distribution of floats until late 2007, but coverage reached 90% by 2005, allowing good accuracy provided that systematic measurement errors are kept sufficiently small. Prior experience showed how difficult it is to eliminate all measurement biases, ...

Smaller contributions to the planetary energy imbalance, from changes in the heat content of the land, ice and atmosphere, are also known more accurately in recent years. [emphasis added] A key improvement during the past decade has been provided by the GRACE satellite that measures Earth's gravitational field with a precision that allows the rate of ice loss by Greenland and Antarctica to be monitored accurately.
Figure 3 summarizes the results of analyses of Earth's energy imbalance averaged over the periods 1993-2008 and 2005-2010. In the period 1993-2008 the planetary energy imbalance ranges from 0.57 W/m2 to 0.80 W/m2 among different analyses,...

The conclusion is that Earth is out of energy balance by at least ~0.5 W/m2

Right, thanks.

A lag is one of the possibilities I would have guessed. I'm not sure it makes perfect sense, though, since both started to rise again around 1975-1980, just at different rates, as opposed to the ocean temperatures being delayed. The oceans just being larger heat 'sinks' (for lack of a better word, maybe 'vessels') makes more sense.

I do take the point about imbalance calculations being important, I was mainly wondering how Hansen would respond to Rutledge. Anyway, I think I've got a half-decent notion of it now.

Heat balance studies, have roughly a third of the excess energy balance (over preindustrial) going into thermal storage in the oceans. The rest is the global temp increases, leading to (almost) as much outgoing radiation as before. I doubt the evaporative budget has much to do with it, although net evap at sea inceases, and net deposition on land point in the direction of increasing heat transfer from sea to land via that mechanism.

As I think you understand, increased evaporation is relevent to the land/sea temperature difference but does not drive global warming. Water in the atmosphere equilibrates on the time frame of weeks not decades and thus is not a "forcing" molecule. However, the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere determines the water vapor that can be maintained as gas. Increasing temperatures increase atmospheric water vapor and water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. I believe this is a substantial effect and represents one of the positive feedback loops that is implicit in the degree of warming per ppm of increased CO2.

Yes. Your last sentence is easy for people to miss. The water vapor feedback is a fast feedback, which is included in the Charney type sensitivity coefficients.

Water vapor increases 4% for each degree rise.

What you just wrote is the reply to the anti-science crowds claim that water is a much more important GHG than CO2. Yes it is, but it takes stable long term GHGs to make the atmosphere warmanough to be able to carry water vapor.

Not actually. Water vapor has a very short residence time, days even, so the stability of the CO@/Temp combo isn't the issue; it's just how warm it is over these short time frames in given places.

What is most important to get here is that water vapor responds to rises in temperatures, it doesn't magically jump up into the air as if it had warmed when it hadn't, it rises when temps rise. It's positive feedback on temps is, for lack of a better term, passive, or a constant... or something.

Because of thermal lags we should expect ocean surf temp increase is lower. It will catch up eventually. After land temops are probably better, as sea surf temps vary depending upon ocean current changes (including stuff like La Nina El Nino). It is a revealing indicator that he probably proceeded from the desired conclusion "nothing to worry about", then cherry picks his assumptions about valid data etc. in order to make the result agree with his prior. A sure sign of a politically driven agenda....

A lot of people were very unhappy with Rutledge being branded a denier when his work was presented, but it was obvious from his original paper and a post here on TOD that it was the case because his assumptions were untenable.

Time will out, as they say.

Hi you are assuming more background knowledge than I have. What is the base CO2 level that we are basing the doublings off of? Where are we now? Where are we expecting to be in 2100?

On Aleklett, makes sense to me. Why is he wrong?

From the Columbia paper it looks like the base is 290ppm and the peak with BAU exponential increase in energy use until 2030 gives a rise to 450ppm. Which they show giving a 1.5 degree temperature increase. That then tails off. So the Columbia paper includes a case that agrees with Aleklett.

The Columbia case that gives a doubling of CO2 requires hydrocarbon usage in 49 years to be 263% of current levels. Not much belief in that from PO folks. Something like 230 million barrels per day of oil production in 2060. Where do you expect to find this oil?

The base in pre-industrial revolution when CO2 was 280ppm.
Today we are at .6 degreeC above the 1940 level. Doubling 280 ppm to 550-560 ppm
means a 2 degreeC rise so Hansen wants to stop all fossil fuel CO2
emissions by 2030.

The Hansen report talks about burning fossil fuels at the current rate which is 104 Tcf/yr of natural gas, 6.6 billion tons of coal/yr and 75 mbpd of oil/ 27 Gb per year.


It's easy to extrapolate his Fig 4, Fig 5 to have fossil fuels=0 to 2100 AD by simply extending the line upward to around 650 ppm.

Hansen's proposed solution of a 6%/yr cut in FF emissions starting in 2012 (2030 complete FF phaseout) plus 100 GtC reforestation which could amount to reforesting an area of size of Texas each year over 50 years will bring CO2 levels down to today's level of ~380 ppm.

World coal reserves are about 700 Gtons so the R/P is 700/6.6 or 100 years.
World gas reserves including new shale gas discoveries is probably around 10,000 Tcf, also 100 years.
World conventional oil reserves(without new discoveries) are about 1000 Gb with another 1000 Gb of oil sands, oil shale and extra heavy oil, about 75 years. Aleklett states that unconventional oil will not be developed although oil sands crude is flooding the US pipeline system.
Rutledge maintains that coal will be uneconomic to mine although the Chinese and Indians can afford to mine a lot of coal.
Shale gas finds double the amount of natural gas reserves.

It is possible that the world will stop using fossil fuels to
mitigate CC but that is not the argument of the Uppsala group.

You say "The Hansen report talks about burning fossil fuels at the current rate".

Hansen figure 5 contains this note

Figure 5 (b) shows the effect of continued BAU fossil fuel emission (just over 2% per year) until 2020, 2030, 2045 and 2060 with 100 GtC reforestation in 2031-2080.

I take that to mean 2% per year increase in energy use. How do you read it?

2% increase per year is nothing.
It means production of FF will double by 2060 or the total amount of CO2 emitted will increase by 50% in 2060, 36% in 2030, etc. over what it would be at constant emissions; ((1+.02*48)+1)/2=1.5

If you apply that to FF it means that by 2060 the world will have mined
620.9 Gt of coal(820 Gt BP2009), 2.5 trillion barrels of oil(1476 Gb BP2009 not including oilshale and extra heavy crude ) and 9408 Tcf of natural gas(6621 Tcf BP2009 not including shale gas).


If we apply your 50% reduction by 2052(2060), then you emit half the total CO2 of BAU 2060 which is the same as a phase out of BAU in
24 years of a BAU phase out in 2036, except you'd still be burning FF after 2036.

In 2060 2% gives an increase of 2.69 times today's rate. It is not linear. It is 1.02^49. It also means the consumption between 2011 and 2060 will be 86.27 time today's annual rate so:

coal 6.6GT this year by 2060 used 569GT
gas 100Tcf this year by 2060 used 8,600 Tcf
oil 32Gb (my number) 27Gb (your number) this year by 2060 used 2760Gb (mine) 2330Gb (yours)

Coal pretty close to all used expect peak sooner (Uppsalla peak before 2025)
Gas pretty close to all used expect peak sooner
Oil beyond your number of 2,000Gb expect peak sooner and well beyond BP2009 value of 1333Gb (reserve, not recoverable reserve)

You mean 2% CO2 compounded as in every year we will use 2% more than the previous year instead of simple interest?

Real things don't accumulate like 2% compound interest.

When the creator of the game of chess (in some tellings an ancient Indian mathematician, in others a legendary dravida vellalar named Sessa or Sissa) showed his invention to the ruler of the country, the ruler was so pleased that he gave the inventor the right to name his prize for the invention. The man, who was very wise, asked the king this: that for the first square of the chess board, he would receive one grain of wheat (in some tellings, rice), two for the second one, four on the third one, and so forth, doubling the amount each time. The ruler, arithmetically unaware, quickly accepted the inventor's offer, even getting offended by his perceived notion that the inventor was asking for such a low price, and ordered the treasurer to count and hand over the wheat to the inventor. However, when the treasurer took more than a week to calculate the amount of wheat, the ruler asked him for a reason for his tardiness. The treasurer then gave him the result of the calculation, and explained that it would be impossible to give the inventor the reward. The ruler then, to get back at the inventor who tried to outsmart him, cut off the inventors head to discourage such trickery.


Compound interest is trickery.

Forgive me coming to this part of the discussion so late.
Have I misunderstood this point?
CO2 emission accumulates in the atmosphere (a proportion is sequestered).
The present carbon burn (energy use) is sufficient to deliver an average 2% increment rise each year.
A plateau of energy use will be sufficient to continue to deliver roughly this yearly increment.
(OK, the bigger the absolute CO2 atmospheric pool, the more emission needed to achieve that 2%, but not that much. A 'dirtier' fuel mix, more coal or Tar Oil should keep it rising nicely even if we go to lower net energy use.)

Even if we stopped the burning now it would take a good while to reduce the extra that is already up there.

The 2% is referring to emissions, not concentration in the atmosphere. CO2 isn't increasing by 2 percent each year, but more like 2 ppm, which is waaaaaay below 2%.

Yes I did misunderstand - thanks for that.
Ridiculous on my part.
Only excuse is that I wrote it late before bed.
Woke with figures in my head.
The actual rise seems from eyeballing CO2 chart to be under 2 ppm per year (cf. nearly 400 ppm present total).

It varies year to year, but is +-2ppm/yr or so. Last year emissions apparently rose 5% over '09, so there should have been a bump in the growth rate, and there was @ 2.42 at Mauna Loa.

The rate is increasing, btw.

'59 - '70: zero years over 2.0 growth rate, only 5 over 1.0. (5 tot.)
'71 - '80: one year over 2.0 growth rate, six over 1.0. (7 tot.)
'81 - '90: three years over 2.0 growth rate, six over 1.0. (8 tot.)
'91 - '00: one year over 2.0, '98, which was over 3.0 growth rate, six over 1.0. (7 tot.)
'01 - '10: five years with well over 2.0 growth rate, five over 1.0. (10 tot.)

Average means for the decades:

'59 - '70: 0.87
'71 - '80: 1.34
'81 - '90: 1.543
'91 - '00: 1.546
'01 - '10: 2.041

If not for the downturn in '08 (1.6) and '09 (1.89), the last decade would be even more pronounced, I'd guess. The years before and after those two were 2.26 and 2.42, respectively.

The change is even more dramatic when we look at 1.5 as a threshold:

'59 - '70: 0 years.
'71 - '80: 4 years.
'81 - '90: 3 years.
'91 - '00: 5 years.
'01 - '10: 10 years.

The ubiquitous hockey stick. What happened in the last decade? Chindia mostly is my guess.

OK so 100 year at current usage rates until all gone.

So at 2% growth that is all gone in 56 years. It seems unlikely we will go from triple current rates to zero in one year. Most likely there will be a peak some time before 2066. I'll take their 2030 case. As a highly conservative peak date. I expect more like 2015.

Wait, you're suggesting we've only used 1/3 (about 1000 Gb, I think) of the oil that we're going to use? That doesn't seem very TOD-like.

ASPO estimate of Skrebowski agreed that we have used up +1077 Gb so far.
I think we have +1200 Gb of conventional oil and 1000 Gb of unconventional oil.


Right. But will all of that get produced? I think the doomer view is that it won't, not because of voluntarily lowering emissions but because all hell will break loose before we get to. Though, strictly speaking, I suppose TOD is not only for doomers :-)

Well, what part of it won't be produced?
Look at coal or natural gas can you imagine that not being produced if nobody cared about CC?
Together they amount to 2/3rd of all CO2 emissions. Germany exhausted all its bitumenous coal and is reduced to mining lignite.
Most of gas and coal goes to make electricity or produce heat.
Do you think electricity use is going to decline much(2010 US generation was up 4% over 2009)?


Oil is by far the most expensive form of FF.
So why would you think that people won't find ways of producing it from sources like oil sands, oil shale and superheavy oil which are known to be abundant?

Canada produces 1.9 mbpd of oil sands petroleum and it is projected to double by 2020.


I do agree with you on the point "it will all be produced".

I think you are low on coal and high on gas and oil total future production.

I agree on the electric also. I expect US electric will increase 2% per year for the next 30 years. I expect we will use coal. After that point we will be running low on economically recoverable coal and at some point we shift to something else or electric supplies begin to decrease. We do have enough coal in the US to grow coal usage for several decades.

What I mean is that the global economic system we have will collapse. And I don't imagine high-tech endeavours such as unconventional oil and gas will keep going in such an environment. I imagine something along the lines of what Kunstler has in mind here: "The price of oil is going to go way up, and way down, and way up again, and way down again until everyone is too broke to ask for any, and companies are too ruined to go get it for them, and governments are too broken to interfere in the process."

Though I must admit I'm moving the goalposts, since I was originally talking about Rutledge's analysis.


Hi, Majorian

I don't think we're at 1.9 mbpd for oil sands just yet.
Unless I've missed something, I think we are still around 1.5, which is what your CAPP link said a year ago.

As of February, 2011, Canadian production of bitumen (upgraded plus non-upgraded) averaged 1.6 million barrels per day. They are estimating that by December, 2011 it will be close to 1.9 mbpd.

See National Energy Board: Estimated Production of Canadian Crude Oil and Equivalent

The data is in cubic metres. To convert to barrels multiply by 6.29. And remember, it's not tar, it's bitumen - the difference is significant.

What is the difference between bitumen and tar? I always thought bitumen was one kind of tar.

Is it wrong to refer to the Canadian production as being from "tar sands"? Should we say "bitumen sands"? My dictionary says that bitumen is a "component" of tar. Is that correct?

Chemically speaking, tar is a man-made substance produced by the destructive distillation of organic material. Crude bitumen is a very heavy form of crude oil that will not flow toward a well under reservoir conditions.

They started calling bitumen "tar" in the late 19th century because there were large coal-gas industries in major industrial cities that produced huge amounts of coal tar as a by-product, and people became much more familiar with coal tar than natural bitumen. However, it is a misnomer. The two look similar but are chemically very different.

The difference is important because tar is thoroughly useless to the oil industry, but bitumen can be handled by more sophisticated refining processes and turned into gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products. Tars can also be significantly more toxic than natural bitumens. Coal tar is nasty stuff and lasts forever.

I find it significant that the US government continues to refer to its reserves of kerogenic marlestones and bituminous sands as "oil shale" and "tar sands", respectively. It is highly misleading naming. The colloquial names confuse Americans quite badly about how much oil is really available, and how easy it is to produce. I regularly have to inform people that, "There is no oil in the oil shale and no tar in the tar sands". The "tar sands" actually contain oil rather than tar, whereas the kerogen in "oil shale" has to be retorted at relatively high temperatures to turn it into oil.

Thank you for your clear explanation. I take words seriously and will never refer to "tar sands" again, even though that usage is current.

Thanks for the updated stats.
What I wanted to say was that after 4 or 5 decades of intensive work& investment, oil sands production has finally broken through 1.5... you say 1.6 which I can certainly believe.
But 1.9 by Christmas would be an unprecedented increase... I will believe that when I see it.

Meanwhile, an interesting stat would be, how much of that 1.6 or 1.9 is net energy?
And where will Canada get the nat-gas to sustain oil sands production at 2, 3 or 5 mbpd as claimed?

There is quite a lot of new oil sands capacity coming on-stream in the next few months or years. A lot of the oil sands projects that were put on hold because of the economic downturn are now moving forward toward completion.

The net energy numbers are getting better. The EROEI of new oil sands projects is now in the range of 6:1. Natural gas will be no problem. There are large amounts of shale gas lurking nearby in northeastern British Columbia just waiting for higher prices to be developed. They are something like the US shale gas formations, but without the locally available market for the gas.

Thanks, RMG

But surely BC fracking presents environmental risks which are similar to those elsewhere, it's just that there may not be the population density which is likely to notice & report contamination.

And in the long run, would the flow of BC shale gas be sufficient to fuel the oil sands as well as compensate for declining conventional gas (which has been a mainstay for heating and power generation as far east as Quebec)? We still need to keep homes heated and the lights on.

The LNG terminal at Kitimat (now for export, not importing) seems very short-sighted.

I don't think fracing BC wells would present any more environmental risks than fracing Alberta wells, and the oil industry has fraced over 167,000 wells in Alberta during the last 50 years with no documented cases of groundwater contamination, according to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board.

It's a hypothetical problem that the mainstream media have leaped on in blissful ignorance of the fact that the technique has been in common use in major oil producing regions such as Alberta and Texas for over half a century with no problems.

2009 was the lowest point in electric power consumption in the US since 2003

Generation. Electricity markets in 2009 were keenly affected by economic and environmental developments. Electricity generation was down 4.1 percent, reaching its lowest level since 2003; this was the largest decline in 6 decades[1] and follows a 0.9-percent decline in 2008. The drop in power demand reflects a 2.6-percent decline in economic activity (GDP) during 2009.[2]

It is hard to shift oil energy demand to electric power. Until electric cars become a big factor Peak Oil is more likely to depress than increase overall electric power demand in the US.

The shift from coal to wind and natural gas for electric power is going to reduce the carbon content of electric power over the next several years - at least in the US.

Going out 10-20 years solar power ought to start to cut into fossil fuels demand for electric power. Not sure how much, but some.

The US could stop its carbon emissions growth by stopping immigration. The resulting reduction in population growth combined with reduced oil and a shift to wind, solar, and natural gas should reduce our carbon emissions.

By all hell breaks loose do you mean the price per barrel gets so high that people can not afford it?

Your simple estimator assumes we've used the same fraction of each resource (oil/gas/coal). Most likely we've are closer to peak oil than to peak coal or gas. Don't expect them to become scarcer at the same rate. That would be a tremendous coincidence.
Note the subarctic permafrost regions are unlain by many meters of (currently frozen) organic material. If we were to mine/burn this (or if it drys out and forest fires burn it for us), then several hundred gigatons on unconventional emissions would result.

"although oil sands crude is flooding the US pipeline system"

I am unaware of a flood of oil from oil sands. How much do we get from oil sand?

OK 2mbpd out of 19mbpd to grow to 4mbpd out of 16mbpd I see tar sand will be 25% of US imported oil. Now I understand why folks are so set on tar sand.

With future recoverables:

700 Gton of coal
10,000 Tcf gas
2,000 Gb oil

You are above Uppsalla on oil and gas, a little below Uppsalla but more or less agree on coal.


But you are far below most IPPC cases.

We can't use the current warming versus CO2 concentration to estimate the Charney senistivity. Two things get in the way. One climate lags, mainly because of the thermal inertia of the icean. More importantly aerosols reflect some sunshine and partially counteract the CO2
driver. And there is significant uncertainty as to how much cooling we are getting out of the aerosol pollution. The biggest uncertainty is the interaction of aerosols and clouds (we think aerosols mean more and whiter clouds, but don't have a good handle on how much).

You should take a look at Hansen's paper I referenced.
He predicts a 550 ppm if CO2 emissions end totally in 2050.
That's 2 degreeC increase in global temperatures.

Do you really believe the world will run out of oil,gas and coal in 40 years?

Speaking of sea level rise, notice that the seas rose 4-6 meters during a period 100,000 years ago that was only 1 degreeC warmer than today.

The Eemian and Hosteinian interglacial periods, also known as marine isotope stages 5e and 11, respectively about 130,000 and 400,000 years ago, were warmer than the Holocene, but global mean temperature in those periods was probably less than 1°C warmer than peak Holocene temperature (Figure 2b). Yet it was warm enough for sea level to reach mean levels 4-6 meters higher than today.


I looked at the paper see post below.

I, do expect, oil, gas and coal production will be at least down by a factor of two in 40 years.

The world never runs out of oil, gas and coal they just get too expensive to be interesting.

A factor of 2 is a decrease of 50%.
That means that you go from 6.6 Gt coal to 3.3 Gt coal production,
from 75 mbpd of oil to 37.5 mbpd(same as in 1968) and 100 Tcf to 50Tcf in 2050.
That is equivalent of maintaining 100% FF usage for ~30 years;
(6.6 +3.3)/2 * 40/6.6 = 30, 75*40/100=30 year, 56.25*40/75=30 years. 2012 plus 30 years = 2042 which is about the same amount of carbon as the 2045 curve of Fig 5 with 500 ppm.

And of course you will continue to burn FF after 2050 by your own admission.

Cutting back FF use by 50% in 40 years (1.25% per year) obviously isn't going to stop GW as Hansen estimates that we need to cut production to zero in 18 years or 6% per year.

But that curve is not constant usage for 30 years it is exponentially increasing usage. 2% per year increase.

I take his cut 6% per year to mean in n years the rate is 0.94^n times current rate not to mean zero in 17 years.

We can not even agree on how to read the paper.

Any third parties care to give their take?

lol, actually, I don't know what he means either. He does speak of 5% as "phased out quickly", so it's not absurd that he might mean non-compound. But it's certainly not obvious either way.

The equilibrium sealevel rise, with >400ppm is 25-35meters. But that is supposed to take a few thousand years. The timescale of icesheet melting is not well known, i.e. rapid iceflow from meltwater, and albedo changes due to the ice surface growing darker as it melts mean it will melt faster than was assumed a few years back. But it won't all in in a hundred years, 1 to 2 meters per century is a lot.

The single scariest aspect of climate change is the potential for large, rapid shifts at those proverbial tipping points.

For example, the West Antarctic Ice sheet holds an enormous water mass and is perched precariously on a couple islands.

Nearer term, a complete summer melt of the arctic is likely to occur very soon, given the yearly loss of sea ice volume (link below). Increased melting of the permafrost, clathrates and Greenland ice sheet are likely results, not to mention the weird weather.

When it comes to human driven climate change, which amounts to an unprecedented and unreproducible experiment in Terraforming, the things “we don’t know, we don’t know” are likely to be numerous. Lets hope you are right and climate weather change is predictable and linear.


One of the European ice sheets melted away really quickly. I've never been able to find the article I found the info on, so won't give numbers, but it was human lifetime fast. Some points people need to bear in mind:

1. The clathrates and permafrost. It's not supposed to be destabilized at these temps. Why are they?

2. Speed of change. The planet has never been pushed this hard, this fast by CO2. Ever. I don't think there is an appropriate proxy for the current situation.

3. Simple human impact: how many ecosystems are being ever so slightly pushed that much more by things like tourism, vehicles going through that never would have before, etc? Butterfly wings...

I will repeat: The metric you need to pay attention to, that nobody addresses, even when i have mentioned it above, is: Why are things changing so fast when the research says it shouldn't be? What do we not know?

I came across this in Fraser's Penguins, the point being that Antarctica is currently experiencing man-caused cooling from ozone depletion. As already noted, warm waters are melting ice faster than expected, which I guess was a primary reason for the unexpected ice-shelf collapses over recent years, and once the ozone starts to recover, you'll see a speedup of Antarctic ice melts, yet another unanticipated result of human destruction of the ecosystem.

Such ostensible contradictions have been used to suggest that global warming is, in fact, not happening. Yet part of the confusion is due to the lack of a broader context that can only come from more research. According to the results of a 2004 study by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space and Studies (GISS), the recent cooling trend is an effect of the depletion in the ozone layer over Antarctica. “In the coming decades, ozone levels are expected to recover due to international treaties that banned ozone-depleting chemicals,” states a NASA press release. Once it does, Antarctica’s cooling trend is likely to rapidly reverse. The increase in sea ice levels, meanwhile, is also the result of global warming. A 2005 satellite study funded by NASA suggests that warming of the climate has led to an increase in precipitation rates and deeper snow in the Southern Ocean, which becomes so heavy that it pushes Antarctic ice below sea level, resulting in more and thicker ice. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/penguins-of-the-antarctic/climat...

I don't thint CC is quite so predictable and linear. Maybe at the level of global temperature versus CO2 concentration (letting the concentration term absorb and feedbacks which increase CO2), because the globe is a large enough system that the individual tipping might not have much effect on a globally integrated measure.
In any case the 25ish meter longterm rise would obviously be catastrophic if it happened quickly. But even with the icesheet stability tipping points, it seems unlikely these ice sheets will disintegrate faster than perhaps a thousand years.

But it is exactly the stepwise nature that illuminates the issue: we don't need to get anywhere near the ice sheets collapsing to have massive infrastructure problems. The 1 meter rise now considered baseline (three years ago it was "alarmist") is enough to massively disrupt civilization. I expect more than 1 meter. (Would not be surprised at all by 3.) That one meter means an awful lot of money and resources to deal with, so what would two meters mean, or three?

You guys are all discussing the numbers, but the issue is risk assessment. The numbers were important as recently as a year ago because we were still figuring out some very basic stuff. We've learned a few key things that mean we need to change the conversation. We now know Greenland can destabilize at the CO2 levels were definitely going to hit (will be at 400 by 2015 at current rates) and that is all we really need to know because we also know the primary driver of that is melt of ice shelves and ice tongues from the bottom up due to sea water heat, and that that allows the glacier to flow faster. We know mass loss is accelerating exponentially at the decadal level. That's something like 8 doublings this century. Wow. You want to play chicken with numbers like that?

The biggest problem we have with such discussions is that they end up compartmentalized. We can talk about SLR, but have to talk about that in terms of lost farmland. And that in terms of climate refugees. And that in terms of societal disruption. And all of that in terms of how they change energy consumption, e.g.

So, what changes act as feedbacks we have not considered on the human side? Do we reduce FF use on;y to cut down all the forests, ending up in similar straights for different reasons, e.g.? It's just not as simple as how much FFs we will burn.

Exponential increases of ice flow aren't likely to continue. Studies have shown subglacial meltwater escapes and flow rates return to near normal. Sure the now floating outlet glaciers may retreat to their grounding line, but the bulk of the ice is landbound, and its flowrate will be limited (i.e. not exponentially increasing). That doesn't rule out a meter or two SLR per century. But some people act like, oh my god my house is totally worthless because it will be flooded by the longterm projected rise, when the house will probably fall apart long before then.
I agree 1 meter per century is problematic, i.e. soem infrastructure will have to be abandoned before its "use-by" date, and the amount of premature abandonment goes up with the rate of rise. Expensive, but not end of the world stuff.

Of course that is why I mentioned the West Antarctic Ice sheet, which could raise sea level 5 meters in periods potentially as short as years. While agreeing with you that few houses are likely to be submerged by global warming in the next few decades, I would not leave my inheritance to my child as real estate in south Florida.

None of your statements are fact. Why won't the exponential destabilization continue? Once you hit the grounding line, how does that make the glacier slow down when it was the ice in front of it that was keeping it in check? The increased mass loss from the ice sheet is not caused by sea water, but by disintegration of the ice shelves which held them back and surface melt.

Yes, water under the ice sheet and the glaciers runs out, but then it builds back up. it's not a one-time thing. i understand your point, but think you are assuming much about what we know of how ice sheets disintegrate. It was just a few years ago we thought a meter in 100 years was impossible and that Antarctica was centuries from beginning to melt. Perhaps we've learned all there is to know, but I doubt it. Credible scientists are talking about 3 meters this century.

For one thing exponential increases imply an energy catastrophe, you have doubling every decade for several decades. Some other process that is now a small part of the ice budget will become important and slow the rate of increase. Only some of the ice is close enough to the sea (and the extension of below sealevel troughs of outlet glaciers), once that is lost, the rest of the ice has to travel a long way over land. So the time scale for ice transport should increase once we only (or mainly) have land ice far from the coast.

The meltwater lubrication, is kind of a one shot deal, we get X amount this melt season, but after a few months the effect is gone. Next year we have to start over again with a new meltwater pulse. So there should be a limitation to how much that process speeds up glacier flow. And this is enhanced flow probably increases slower than linear in the amount of meltwater.

What I think the glaciologists might be missing is how surface albedo of an ice sheet evolves during a period of melting. I suspect that dirt incorporated in the snow is largely left behind, and every year an abalation (net melting every year) surface might get darker and darker, leading to faster melting. But again, we only have so much solar energy to power that process, so while it might speedup several fold, it can't keep doubling.

For one thing exponential increases imply an energy catastrophe

And who is to say we are not already in one? Please not the report on CO2 emissions from the IEA posted in this Drumbeat in the last few hours: 5% increase in emissions '09 -> '10. In a sluggish economy, how in the name of heck does that happen? This has been a global slowdown with even China and India still growing but a little slower. Five percent?

Only some of the ice is close enough to the sea (and the extension of below sealevel troughs of outlet glaciers), once that is lost, the rest of the ice has to travel a long way over land.

You keep making these statements with nothing to back them. This isn't the sort of thing we can logically address, these are real geophysical processes. There are kilometers of ice on top of Greenland. A very significant portion of it would have to melt for it to stop flowing through the glaciers to the sea. I can't imagine it being less than 30% or more. Now, I'm not saying how long it will remain in essentially an exponential melt process, or that it must, I see no reason why it wouldn't, either. The ice itself will become more riddled with moraines as we heat up, will develop greater fracturing as it speeds up, etc. I think the loss of the ice shelves and such are not the primary cause of melt, but are the opening of the floodgates.

I see no validity to this point for probably a couple centuries.

So there should be a limitation to how much that process speeds up glacier flow.

Higher temps, more melt, more water. Where is the limit?

And this is enhanced flow probably increases slower than linear in the amount of meltwater.

I don't see why.

we only have so much solar energy to power that process, so while it might speedup several fold, it can't keep doubling.

Just because? Again, I see no limit. All the moraines and such, the cracks, these increase surface area --> more melt. Increased air temps, increased ocean temps... if all this is increasing, how does the melt slow?

I have the feeling you are trapped in the scientists conundrum of being cautious simply because it is the best way to do science. This ain't the time for assuming things can't go much faster than anticipated: they have been since we started measuring this stuff and we keep underestimating. Given the risk, don't you think it's time we did the opposite? Hope for the best, plan for the worst?

When you wrote:
"All the moraines and such, the cracks, these increase surface area --> more melt.", were you thinking of moulins?



E. Swanson

Ha-ha! Yes! What a goof.

While TOD isn't a monolith on any subject, it seems we have as active a conversation on Climate as we do on most Energy topics.

What would you hope to see?

There is no TOD. Anyway, if the United States got serious about AGW, there would not be this constant debate about how much oil we could really extract and burn. We would say that it does not matter whether we have reached peak oil or not, we should immediately start burning less year after year regardless of the theoretical potential of peak oil. Yes, if the consensus was that we cannot drill our way out of oil shortages, that would make some difference, but not really that much considering our inability to do anything about the future.

And just this year, Obama opened up thousands of acres of additional land for strip mining. And he is a member of the political party that supposedly believes in AGW.

The Obama administration, the one that was full of hope and change has left us with no hope and no change. As S. Palin said, "how's that hopey, changy thing comin'?"

And virtually everyone I see who lives around me clearly doesn't give a damn. So, I can't just blame the leaders.

TOD has always been about oil and peak. Given the recent editorial decisions, I don't see that changing, and, frankly I agree. You have to have a focal point for experts tracking one major phenomenon. Real Climate for, well, climate (and AGW).

What we do need is an integrated systems site where people from all angles can contribute to a whole systems perspective and work collaboratively to investigate the interfaces and interactions between these many important forces like AGW, climate change, energy, finance, etc.

It would be nice to have a World System Challenges collaboration forum. Then experts could contribute relevant information from their specialized domains in hope we could form a systems model of what is going on, perhaps even where the leverage points (or tipping points) might be.

Just a thought.

I would love to see an open source model of the world including things like

1) distribution of wealth
2) the Limits to Growth models stuff food, industrial plant, pollution, population, resource deletion
3) debt
4) resource deletion broken down into several sectors
5) taxation
6) resource extraction from weak states (theft, taxation?)
7) international trade
8) education levels
9) fraction of population in prison
10) military spending
11) fraction of local population dying/maimed due to foreign parties violence
12) infrastructure destroyed by foreign parties violence
13) local death due to coal plants
14) local death due to cars
15) climate change
16) etc....

The programming is easy. Making reasonable/informed assumptions is the hard part.

It would be ideal to include statistical behavior. So each run would be many semi-random runs and the envelope/range of results.

I'd like to see a site that focuses on a few crucial biggies like:
- food (foodstocks, yields, etc.), water (available, infrastructure, etc.), energy,
- population, population movement, health indicator, population changing events, like pandemics
- some kind of revealing financial info/analysis - like debt per person,
- climate trends (temp, precipitation, extreme events, emerging patterns)

Actually the programming isn't THAT easy, and the data isn't hard.

Nope, its the feedback loops, the delays, the human input, the non-linearities, that are the hard bit. And Monte Carloing it in practice just gives you lots of ways to reach hell at varying speeds.

No, it's finding the routes, the system dynamics, that don't reach hell that's the difficult bit.

Looking at the Columbia paper if we have BAU exponential increase in energy until 2030 (something PO folks would find unlikely) we will have a temp rise of 1.5 degree. We are currently at 0.9 degrees rise. So we will have an additional 0.6 degree rise. Then it will tail off.

> Then it will tail off.

No, then the long-run effects take over. The temperature will continue rising steadily for at least another century.

> if we have BAU exponential increase in energy until 2030 (something PO folks would find unlikely)

There's no inconsistency between declining net energy and rising emissions. As Ugo Bardi has pointed out, the effort put into catching whales increased for some time after the catch peaked.

Long term effects are not covered in the Columbia paper. What paper are you using for long term effects? Are you doing some long term modeling of your own?

Putting a lot of effort into whaling did not increase the emission from whale oil lamps. Putting a lot of effort into finding oil will not increase emissions from cars and trucks. How do you see emissions increasing as consumption decreases?

If we had instant sessation of emissions, temp would big and fall off a bit within a few years. The reason is that some of the CO2 equilibrates with the faster terrestrial reservoirs within a few years. After that CO2 conc takes very very long to decay.

I believe you are misunderstanding the 1.5 as total when it is likely additional. What paper are you referring to?

This paper


figure 6 on page 14

it shows four cases BAU until 2020, 2030, 2045, 2060
with maximum total temperature rise since 1900 of 1.3, 1.5, 1.9, 2.6 degrees

So only exponential increase in energy usage for the next 49 year will product a rise over 2 degree according to the Columbia paper. How many here on TOD believe in exponential increase for the next 49 years?

It's not an 'exponential increase' in energy, its a 2% linear increase so in 2030 the amount of FF so on average we are talking about 18% more FF emissions than constant 2012; 1+(1+2% x 18)/2=1.18 times.

Hansen gets his BAU scenarios from EIA which does not forecast exponential energy increases.

Look at Appendix A Table A1.(below)for total domestic energy production
for 2015 at 78.63 quads and 2035 at 94.59.
(94.59-78.63)/78.63=.20298 over 20 years which they report as 1% growth.
If they mean an exponential growth they would report
antilog(log(94.59/78.63)/20)=1.00402 or a 0.4% compound growth rate.


You're just flat out wrong here with your claim of exponential growth in energy demand.

It is a 2% annual increase. In year n the rate is current rate time 1.02 raised to the power n. Not n time 1.02 Compund interest adds up. To a total increase over 49 years of 2.63 or additional 163% increase. Not 98% increase.

We are reading the paper differently. At this point there is no need to continue the argument. We both think we are right.

Show a single piece of evidence that Hansen is using forecasts of an exponential increase in energy.
If you can't you need to revise your position.

So only exponential increase in energy usage for the next 49 year

Incorrect. Hansen includes draw down from reforestation. Without the reforestation, temps and CO2 go much higher. Without that reforestation 2C is guaranteed regardless of what we do.

Also, this does not include the fast feedbacks.

And, to reiterate, "only 2C" is like saying "only an EF3 tornado."

New Home Efficiency Loan Program Begins in Maine

Maine has no shortage of old, drafty homes with little, if any insulation. And with heating costs on the rise in recent years, a series of state and federal incentive programs have been launched to help homeowners weatherize. Most have offered tax breaks, but for many Mainers, the recession has made it difficult to come up the cash needed to pay for major renovations. A new program offers low interest loans of up to $15 thousand dollars for efficiency improvements, and the first family in Maine to see its benefits is in Rockland.

See: http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/16546/Def...

See also: http://knox.villagesoup.com/place/story/rockland-homeowners-first-to-wea...


That is great news!

I've been hoping we could turn more of the LIHEAP money into grants for Insulation and Weatherizing.

and YEAH!, Portland is on the list of participating communities!



Hey Bob, you Mainers have been a busy lot.

Buttoning up your house saves energy and money: proof from the midcoast

BATH, Maine — Last spring, former carpenter Al Heath decided to launch a deep energy retrofit on an old Bath home to see how energy efficient he could make the place.He spent $62,000 to acquire a one-story, 1,200-square-foot structure at 2 Office Drive. The home was built around World War II. Heath then set out to spend about $40,000 making it as energy efficient as possible, with hopes of cutting the home’s power and heat use by 75 percent.


So how did it work out? In previous winters, Heath estimates the house used 1,000 gallons of oil for heating. In the winter of 2010-11, he used 114 gallons of oil, plus another 1,900 pounds of wood.Put another way, the house in prior winters used 112 MBTU in energy for heating. In 2010-11, Heath’s 2 Office Drive home used 25.6 MBTU. For electricity, the home in previous cold seasons gobbled up 16.4 MBTU, but this past winter, it nibbled on 7.3 MBTU.Heath said the experiment was gratifying, and bolstered support for his belief that energy audits can help homeowners identify how to get the best bang for their bucks when considering energy efficiency projects.

See: http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/05/28/business/buttoning-up-your-hou...


So how many years is the payback for this $40,000?

Assuming a six per cent per annum escalation in home heating costs, just under ten years. And if the homeowner were to add this $40,000.00 to his thirty-year fixed mortgage at 4.75 per cent, his carrying cost is $2,500.00 a year; that's a full $600.00 a year less than his first year energy savings. As for his personal comfort and peace of mind? Priceless.


It shouldn't be a dichotomy. Can he get say half the savings for $10K. If so, that partial solution would make more economic sense. It makes sense to go for the easy cost effective things first.

That's true, EoS, but it's a personal call. I've spent at least as much retrofitting our home to date because it's well worth it to me, and I'm continuing to invest in energy efficiency measures that can't be justified strictly on economic terms because I derive immense satisfaction from every litre of oil or kWh of electricity I save. Short answer: whatever lifts up your skirt.


Heck, I agree with you. I'm trying to get greenwalls (to reduce solar insolation causing AC demand. But when I recommend to others who don't share our obsession/hobby, I have to argue from cost effectiveness. Provide a mid range option (no changes, versus the most cost effective changes, versus go-all the way), and let the customer decide how agressive he wants to be.

Point well taken and I do the same -- I can't in good faith recommend a specific measure unless I can demonstrate some sort of tangible benefit or reasonable rate of return. Sometimes I'll bundle several measures together so that the weaker ones that generate low return but still have merit are accepted (provided the overall numbers remain satisfactory), but everything in my line of work is client driven and you have to work within whatever parameters they set forth.


It makes sense to go for the easy cost effective things first.

Yes, that certainly makes sense, but there doesn’t seem to be enough sense to go around in this country. Or perhaps a more diplomatic way to express my frustration would be to say that it makes sense to someone with a good education. In other words, it makes sense to someone who actually believes that mathematics and economic analysis apply to the real world, but not to a typical small business owner

In my experience, the easier and more cost effective an energy upgrade is, the less likely a typical small business owner will be to take advantage of it. For example, a few years ago I tried selling timers to mom and pop convenience stores in Maine, for use on unitary beverage coolers. This was based on my discovery several years earlier that the energy use of these machines could be cut by up to half, just by using automatic timers to turn them off at night. Typically, an eight hour shutdown will save about one third, and a 12 hour shutdown will save about half. Obviously this practice cannot be used on machines containing dairy products or sandwiches, but it works fine on coolers full of soft drinks or beer. So a typical mom and pop store with six unitary coolers can usually use timers on four of the six.

Initial cost can be anywhere from $100 to $600, including the installation, and the simple payback was as short as one month in some cases. But the majority of store owners would not do it. Their most common excuse was, “we can’t afford to save anything this year.” Often they would have a sly grin on their face when they said this, as if they thought they had just outsmarted me.

In one case, I offered to install two timers and leave them there for over a full billing period, at no cost. After the next month's bill arrived, if she didn’t like the results, I would remove the timers and she would be out nothing. But she still would not try it.

My only consolation is that many of these stores have since gone out of business, which usually cuts electric energy use by 90 to 100%. I could probably put together a list of 40 stores within a radius of 50 miles, that have gone out of business over the past five years. In at least two cases, the buildings have been demolished!

After visiting about fifty stores, and finding only about five that would use the timers, I decided to spend my time on other things. I installed a timer system for seven coolers at one store, for about $600, and the savings were at least $150 per month, giving a four month simple payback. Even after two years and $4000 in electricity savings, the store owner still seemed suspicious, as if he still couldn’t figure out how I had tricked him.


I have had similar experiences pitching water saving projects - you are viewed with the same suspicion as a snake oil salesman!

That is, if you are an independent - if you are an agent for the Utility, then it is a different story, as you have credibility, in their eyes.

I'd say the difference in customer acceptance is in the order of a 10:1 ratio based on that, then you can get into paybacks and the like.

Also, the Utility will still be there next year, while you may not, so the customer at l;east feels they will have someone to fall back on.

I think this situation has limited the innovation that has happened in water and energy saving business, but that is the nature of the business.

Hello Paul,

Yes, that pretty much describes my experience. Unfortunately, I'm not likely to ever get a job with an electric utility again because I'll be 66 in August, and most corporations won't even acknowledge receiving an application from someone my age.

And I've had similar experiences trying to convince store owners to replace incandescent lights with CFLs. I've talked with several store owners who had 40 or more incandescents running for 60 hours per week or more, but they just wouldn't believe anything I told them, apparently not even the part about buying four packs of CFLs at Home Depot for less than a dollar each.

After awhile I discovered that it was easier to find some generous person to donate the money for the CFLs, and then offer to install them in the store for free. I've done that at three stores and I think the owners were so dumbfounded that they couldn't think of any more excuses.


This is going to come off as uncharitable, but your potential customers were stupid.

Gods, once upon a time I was a business major, and I am here to tell everyone that the propositions you made these people require no calculus, nor Quantitative Business Analysis, nor even breaking the least mental sweat to figure out.

The timers and CFLs are flat-out no-brainers under the terms you specified. My only question may be to see your references and see if there were warranties on the timer kit for say a year.

If the mom & pop business is running that close to the edge that they can't afford a few hundred ducks to start saving significant money after a 1-4 month simple payback period, then no wonder many of them went belly-up!

Maybe you should have offered to sell them kit that was half as efficient for a $600 up-front payoff from you to them...when they jumped on that good deal you could ask them sell their store to you at a nice discount when they went under...


Many people in this country are apparently unable to judge the value of anything, other than by its’ price. So, many times I was tempted to inflate my price enough to bring the simple payback up to three or four years, just to reduce their suspicions and make an easier sale. And, of course, I would have made more money on the sale. But I think they would have been angry when they discovered later that I had charged them up to $600 each for ordinary Intermatic electro-mechanical timers that they could have bought themselves from the hardware store around the corner for $15.

For stores where there was easy access to the power cords and outlets, so the timers could easily be reset after outages and at the spring and fall time changes, the low cost electromechanical timers can work well. For stores with more difficult access, I used a more expensive PLC timer system with a switch for each machine, and a single control module that could be plugged into an outlet in the manager’s office. I was a little surprised to discover that it was much easier to sell the more expensive system, apparently in part because nobody could understand how it worked.

As for expected life, the little Intermatic electro-mechanical timers apparently never quit, but after several years of continuous operation some of them start to get noisy. After four to five years, and up to $1800 in energy savings, some of them get so noisy that people remove or replace them just to stop the noise.

I was disappointed to discover that about one out of five of the more expensive PLC timers would die in the first year. At one store where I installed seven of these, I had to replace three of them during the one year warranty period. But apparently all the ones that survived the first year are still going now, at seven to eight years.

Many people in this country are apparently unable to judge the value of anything, other than by its’ price.

Well, not even its price! I had, earlier this year, a hotel owner turn me down on our municipal water efficiency project - we would replace all the toilets and showerheads in his 35 room hotel, for free, and he would see about about a 45% water use reduction (and a 40% hot water use saving).
This was worth about $10k of work, if he had to pay for it to be done, which he could get for zero, and he would save about another $1k on his water and $2k on hi gas bill (hot water) per year. The hotel is 25 yrs old and the toilets are ghastly. Pretty good deal, ya think?

His answer -' it sounds too good to be true, so, no, I don;t want to do it" We did the two other similar sized hotels two years ago, and saw the savings I described. Considering the hotel owners investment is zero, its the best ROI they will ever get.

There are many business owners (and the odd gov dept) who know little about business - we get this all the time.

Interesting. I was looking at one of the Coca Cola fridges at the checkout of our local supermarket and it had a notice on it along the lines of 'Do not switch off at night as you will use more electricity'. That seems to contradict what you are saying.


If they have time of use rates, it is possible it could cost more, i.e. you saved some cheap nighttime KWhours, but have to catch up using daytime (actually morning) rates. Another thing (but it requires actual customer action) is to put some sort of lid they they put on at night. The real tragedy is seethru lids should be mandatory. The stores don't want them because they are afraid the extra customer effort required to grab an icecream will inhibit impulse buying. But heck if it did that, society would have lower health bills....

As far as I am aware we do not have time of use. The notice implied increased use as opposed to increased cost too.


Naom - you are in UK right? There has been ToU there for eons - or at least half of QEII reign - which is about the same.

When I managed a pub in Gloucestershire in 1998 the ToU rates were about 3:1, by memory. Always waited until 10pm to run the kitchen dishwasher., turned down the thermostats on the food fridges at night and up again in the morning. Never ran the beer cellar cooler as owner was too cheap - he said, "in England we have warm beer!" I always thought that was just a joke, but not so!

Ex UK, now in Mexico. Haven't seen any sign of ToU here though my parents home in the UK used a White Meter. I didn't have enough electric use that could be switched over to be practical while I was in the UK (gas C/H). I was going to enquire about solar electric meters here, today, but the queue to pay was so bad I just got out quick to let the next through.

Where in Gloucestershire, used to travel through quite a bit. Warm beer my foot, cool beer not ice cold but pleasantly cool and if the cellar is not sufficiently cool it will spoil too fast. Mind you, on a really hot day I have dropped an ice cube or two in :) Thinking about it, how much electricity could be saved by changing the attitude on cold beer so that it was served at 2C instead of -2C? Over the whole of Mexico, quite a bit I guess.


I spent a summer managing a pub in the Forest of Dean called the Malt Shovel Inn

Very unique place, pub has been there for 900 years! Owner had rebuilt/restored it and done a great job - lots of character. He found a 14th century lead glass window that had been drywalled over by previous owners! He also has a window in there that came from 10 Downing street, and that is a whole other story in itself..

AS for the beer, well... The cellar was pretty cool by itself, around 10C, so for the ales, that was cold enough. Things like lagers and Guinness went through a refrig unit, of course.

We actually would put one keg of real ale on up on the bar, tap it in front of the customers, and draw directly out of that, so that as at room temp - I would call that warm beer. Would tap that keg on a Wed night and by Friday it was in great shape - amazing how the character of a beer would change over a few days. The old timers loved it though, and certain of the ales do taste fine at room temp, though I think cellar temp was better.

The best selling beer we had there - Labatt's Canadian Lager! Very dissapointing that was. I do miss the real ales though, you just can;t find them here (in keg form) in Canada.

Thanks, usually passed through the other end of the FoD and had a couple of watering holes down there or via Ross. Cellars are very useful and something I will be considering when building though I need to find a suitable slope. With the summer rains a leaking cellar would not be a joke, drainage essential. Having an area that is just cool but not cold is a big benefit in a hot climate though humidity would need managing.


This belief that turning off a beverage cooler, or other refrigeration system, at night, and then turning it on again in the morning, will increase energy use is very common. Some people view this as a proven fact, almost like a law of nature, but sometimes more like a religious belief. But it is hard to find anyone who has ever tested this belief. I've asked over a dozen people to point me toward some good test results, but no one has even come up with any evidence. Most of them just get angry, as if I had called them a liar, so I gave that up after awhile.

I tried it. I've done the actual tests, on a dozen or more can vending machines and glass door beverage coolers, and that common belief just isn't true. And it's not that hard to test it yourself. See my comment further down the comment list.

Many people around here have a similar belief about using night setback thermostats with their heating systems. But I think that is just another handy excuse for people who are too lazy to reduce their own expenses.

This was based on my discovery several years earlier that the energy use of these machines could be cut by up to half, just by using automatic timers to turn them off at night. Typically, an eight hour shutdown will save about one third, and a 12 hour shutdown will save about half.

I can see how a timer would cut the number of hours that electricity is made available to the cooler, but wouldn't the longer runtime of the compressor after power is restored the following morning offset much of the expected savings? That is to say, that turning off the power for eight or twelve hours at a time would allow case temperatures to rise over this time frame, but you would still need to re-chill the contents back down once power is restored, and that this extra effort or work load would negate much (but not all) of the energy saved during the time that the compressor had been turned off.


I can see how a timer would cut the number of hours that electricity is made available to the cooler, but wouldn't the longer runtime of the compressor after power is restored the following morning offset much of the expected savings?

No, not quite. The rate of cooling (or heat transfer) is proportional to temperature (difference), so as the fridge warms up to ambient oevrnight, there would be no energy used. The compressor has to come on in the mornign and cool everything down, but the first part of that cooiling is at small temp difference so the COP will be higher.

The ideal way to do this would be to turn the fridge off an hour or two before closing time, (saving on peak energy) and coming on again two hour before opening, using early morning off peak energy.

We did a variation of this at the ski resort, where turned off the (non milk) beverage fridges at 7pm (on peak was till 9pm, closing time) and then turned them on at 0500, and "overcooled" the fridges until 0900 (on peak hour) and then went to normal setpoint during the day. With the central cooling units being cooled by cold, early morning outside air, which was cooler than the fridge contents, they were very efficient. Then, because we had over cooled, and "traffic" was light in the morning, the cooling units often did not come on until midday, which meant we had shed load for the resort peak, which was about 10:30-11am. We saved about 20kW demand in doing so, and this was worth $1600/yr, and the kWh savings were about the same again. This was on top of the savings by getting rid of the stand alone fridges that dumped their heat into the store space.

We did have a two way damper so that the heat exhaust could into the store, or to outside air. Even in winter, by 1pm, the heat was going to outside as the store was warm enough.

Naturally, I wanted to put his heat to somewhere useful, like the hallways of the condo building behind it, but that was a separate strata and it got complicated..

It is amazing how little many people (including many "experts" ) know about the basic principles of refrigeration and heat transfer. Many designers have spent big $$ on high efficiency equipment, but then operate it in a less than efficient manner!

Turning off and recovering may or may not save energy, but id the recovering is done in the early morning hours, when the outside temp is coolest, this will be the most efficient cooling you will get all day. If the ToU rate differential is great enough (about 3:1) you are better off to make ice at night, use the waste heat to pre warm your store space, and and use that ice for the daytime product cooling! This is used in Australia, in the mild winters.

There is saving energy, and then there is saving money - best is when you can do both, but most store owners will go for the money - ToU rates are the key here.

Hi Paul,

I agree that there will be some energy savings, but I don't believe it will be in direct proportion to the amount of time that these cases are turned off; the original claim being that "[t]ypically, an eight hour shutdown will save about one third, and a 12 hour shutdown will save about half".

For argument's sake, let's say that the front glass area is 25 sq. ft. and that the interior cabinet walls are 75 sq. ft (I'm using imperial measurements to make it easier for some of our US readers). Let's further assume that the glass is regular thermal pane as opposed to low-e/argon fill (R-value of 2.0); that the inside walls are R5; that the inside cooler temperature at the point at which power is turned off is 38°F and the ambient air temperature is 68°F; and that there are one hundred and fifty litres of delicious ice cold Diet Pepsi on hand.

If my calculations are more or less correct, an eight hour per day shut down would reduce the cooler's thermal losses by roughly 8 to 10 per cent and a twelve hour shut down would extend that to perhaps 18 to 20 per cent.

However, this assumes that the cooler doors are never opened at any time during this twenty-four hour period. We can safely assume that this will be true for the eight or twelve hours that the power is turned off, but they'll likely be opened several times during the day when the store is operational. Each time these doors are opened, cooth falls to the floor and warm air rushes in to take its place and thus the refrigeration system has to work longer to compensate.

We're also assuming that no beverages are being added or withdrawn from the cooler, but for each tin or bottle sold, another one will ultimately take its place and so the refrigeration system has to work longer to bring this replacement stock down to serving temperature.

Thus, when you factor in these additional workloads, the percentage of savings falls considerably; i.e., it's no longer 8 to 10 per cent, but perhaps 2 to 3 per cent.



Thanks for going to the trouble of doing some calculations on this - the heat gain from door openings in a busy store will certainly be the largest part of the overall load.

Your statement about the doors being R2 made me think - would it be worth, for a store that closed at night, to put some kind of thermal cover over the door? But then, if you are only saving 2-3% by turing the thing off, then you are likely only saving 1-2% by covering the door. The real energy hog is the doors being opened all the time - but that means people are buying stuff and that is the whole idea!

- the heat gain from door openings in a busy store will certainly be the largest part of the overall load.

When I was working for Green Mountain Power in the late 90s, we learned that roughly half of the heat load in a typical walk-in cooler was from the electrical equipment inside the box, including the door lights, the ceiling lights, the shaded pole evaporator fan motors, and the door heaters. This varied from store to store depending on the specific equipment and whether the store had A/C or not. The situation should be better by now, with T8s at the doors, ECM evaporator fan motors, and “zero energy” doors without the electric anti-condensation heaters.

Hello Paul and Paul,

I hope you will be checking the May 28th Drumbeat again today.

Again and again I’ve heard people say that turning off beverage coolers at night will not save any energy, because the energy saved overnight will be mostly offset (some claim more than offset) by increased energy use when the machine is turned on again in the morning. But it turns out this is just not true.

I first tried this on a Dixie-Narco Coca-Cola can vending machine at Green Mountain Power’s Montpelier office back around 1997. Dixie-Narco is the most common brand of can vender in both Maine and Vermont. I metered the energy use, both with and without a timer, three times each, using a standard utility type household meter that was installed on a plywood stand. I wasn’t sure if it would work or not, but I was optimisticly expecting maybe 10 to 15% savings from an eight hour shutdown. So I was a little surprised to find that an eight hour shutdown saved roughly one third on electricity! And this was actual energy savings in kWh, not just dollar savings on the bill.

A few weeks later I had a chance to try this on a sliding door beverage merchandiser (most people in Vermont just call these beverage coolers) at a sandwich shop in Barre, VT, and got the same results, roughly 1/3 savings in kWh.

At another store in Montpelier, Vermont, I was able to try 12 hour overnight shutdown on two different brands of 3 door beverage coolers, and got 50% energy savings. Naturally I was a little puzzled by all this because I could not believe that there was so much savings due only to the temperature changes inside the case.

After pondering the surprising results for several weeks, I came up with some simple answers for why the little $15 Intermatic timers saved so much more energy, again this is kWh and not just dollars, than I had expected.

First, both can venders and glass door coolers use electricity for more than just the refrigeration compressor. They also have lights and one or more evaporator fans that runs continuously. It turned out that the Dixie-Narco can vender used two 5 ft. long T12 all weather HO fluorescent tubes behind the glass front, and they accounted for HALF of all the energy used by this machine! Just the ballast by itself probably used about 50 watts. And the energy savings from turning off both the lights and the evaporator fan motor(s) are directly proportional to the shutdown time. And don’t forget that the evaporator fan is always inside the cold case, so there is a multiplier effect of roughly one third.

Second, there is apparently a big improvement in refrigeration compressor efficiency due to longer ON cycles. During normal operation, after all the cans are cooled down, the compressor in a typical can vender will start and stop about six times every hour, all day and all night, typically about three minutes on and then 6 to 8 minutes off, for each on-off cycle.

But after a long shutdown, the on-off cycles are much different. For the first hour or so in the morning, the compressor will run six to eight minutes on, and three to four minutes off. This change alone is apparently good for another 10 to 20% in energy savings.

But there is no need to just take my word for all this. It’s easy enough to try it yourself. In fact it’s a near perfect extra credit science project for a middle school student. All you need is a little Intermatic timer, available at most any hardware store for $15 to $20 (be sure to get the 15 amp version with the three prong plug, not the 7 amp lamp timer), a Kill-a-Watt plug in meter (now available at Home Depot for $25 to $30), and a few can vending machines and/or beverage coolers for testing. Results might vary some for newer machines with T8 lamps and ECM evap fan motors, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Hi Breadman,

Thanks for the additional info as it helps to fill in some of the blanks. I didn't have time this morning to factor in the operating costs of the lighting and decided that its overall impact would be relatively modest. Most newer refrigeration cases such as the ones shown below made by True Manufacturing use F32T8 lamps driven by 0.88 BF high efficiency electronic ballasts, generally one lamp per door. The heat dissipated inside the case would be roughly 28-watts per lamp (i.e., 32-watts x 0.88 BF).

I replaced the lamps in these cases with Philips 25-watt high performance T8s which dropped this load to 22-watts per lamp; they operate 24x7, so the savings are 54 kWh per year, per lamp (~70 kWh/year including the corresponding reduction in refrigeration loads). I was pleasantly surprised that they performed as well as they did as we found reduced wattage Osram Sylvania lamps to be very temperature sensitive and generally unsuitable for this type of application even with lamp sleeves/shields.

Generally speaking, a 135-watt F60T10VHO lamp with an energy saving T12 magnetic ballast draws about 144-watts, at a 0.88 BF (the lamp itself consumes 119-watts and the ballast another 25); if it's an older magnetic ballast, you could likely bump that up by another 10 to 20-watts. In this case, the potential energy savings will be quite a bit higher.

I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this further.



When I was working for Green Mountain Power over ten years ago, all the can vending machines in the area used the so-called “all weather magnetic ballasts”, which were supposed to start the HO lights even at minus 20 degrees F. All the can vending machines had these ballasts, even though maybe 80% of them lived all winter indoors. I think the total power for two five foot lamps and the ballast was about 250 watts.

Another good upgrade for older beverage coolers is to replace the shaded pole evaporator fan motors (maybe 20% efficiency), with the far more efficient ECM motors. As I recall, all the True beverage coolers used 1800 rpm shaded pole motors, while the less common Beverage-Air brand used 3600 rpm shaded pole motors with even lower efficiency. Even though these are very small motors, their constant 8760 hours per year operation often makes the change cost effective, unless your electrician is both very slow and very expensive.

Another thing that most store owners don’t know. A three door beverage cooler typically uses about twice as much energy as a one door cooler, while providing three times the shelf space. If a store with 3 one door coolers can replace them with one 3 door cooler, they can get about one third energy savings with no loss of shelf space. Usually all it takes is a few calls to the beverage distributor.

For beverage coolers containing dairy products or sandwiches, the store owners should at least turn off the lights at night. It is not a big job to install a second power cord just for the lights, so they can be put on a timer.

An interesting discussion. Now I see where you get your savings from. I can't remember how the units I saw were lit but I am going to take a good look next time I am in there. Given our climate here the supermarket fridges may be in a cooler environment in the day with air conditioning and warmer at night when it is off. You've certainly peaked my curiosity and I'll be looking closer.


Given our climate here the supermarket fridges may be in a cooler environment in the day with air conditioning and warmer at night when it is off.

Some store owners in Vermont decided that they could cut their electric bills by turning off the A/C at night, even though they didn't believe in turning off the beverage coolers at night. And of course they had to close and lock all the doors and windows to keep burglars out.

On warm summer nights, heat from all the refrigeration equipment would cause indoor temps to rise, which made the refrigeration systems work harder, making the indoor temps rise faster, which made the refrigeration equipment work still harder, and on and on through the night.

By morning the indoor temperature would often be up in the high 90s and all the chocolate bars would be melted in their wrappers! It took us awhile to convince them to put timers on most of the beverage coolers, and leave the A/C on all night during hot weather.

P.S. Gotta mow the lawn now. I'll check in later, maybe two to three hours.

Well, we can certainly see where the savings come from if the lights were left on all night! The beverage coolers in the store where I did my project all had a separate switch for the lights -(some of which had been wired in by our electrician, but some came with the light switch), and the store operator was very diligent about turning them off.

I will agree will Paul's estimates that for a normal fridge with a high amount of traffic during the day, the night time refrig load would be well be low the 24 hr average, and the overall savings small, but obviously your example with the lights changes things.

At the ski resort store, which also had electric heat, we were really doing an exercise in total heat control, and load shifting. The very cool early morning temperatures made the refrigerators very efficient at that time, and we used part of the heat to warm up the store, which we would let cool down at night (to 16C) . We were essentially able to displace the energy used for electric heat by using the heat exhaust of the refrigeration units - and on sunny days/summer time, we were able to minimise heat buildup in the store such that a/c wasn't needed.

So, overall, we shifted some load to off peak rates, displaced some other, and improved the efficiency of the refrigeration - the savings came from all three, and the load shifting of refrigeration was probably a minor part of the energy savings - but a good money saver.

I think we can all agree that a careful appraisal of the situation is needed to identify where and when the energy is being used and why, and that the potential savings for each place will vary significantly - but there is almost always something that can be saved at any place.

Hi Paul,

I had one of my 35W halogen GU10's blink out on me this morning, and was contemplating the LED replacements, though my local retailers don't have them yet.
A quick search online came up with one site (an Edmonton based company) that has a bunch of "no name" LED's. While I don't think I will buy any from these folks, there was something in the product description for a 6W GU10, that caught my eye;

Lumens: 225 lumens
Dimmable: No
Colour: Warm White 3200K
Replaces: 35W Halogen

This bulb is also available in Cool White which produces 315 lumens with a colour temperature of 6000K. Cool White is special order only.

I couldn't see any comparison on the Philips website.

This would imply there is a 30% energy penalty for having warm white as opposed to cool white, with LED's - is this consistent with your understanding of LED's?

It's been my suspicion that the Warm Whites are actually Daylight (ca 6000k) with a warming filter applied over them.. but I haven't checked with research or just an exacto-knife on my existing SMT WarmWhites. In film these are called CTO, or 'Color Transition Orange' filters, and that 30% loss for a 1/3 to 2/3 CTO range wouldn't be too surprising.

Here, I'll try one now!

alas! The Orange/Yellow rubbery potting material that I removed exposed the most delicate part of the Diode, and it done died on me.. but 8 of the 10 diodes are still working.. (making a $14 light into perhaps a $10 light..) I do suspect that this orangey coating would be how they got the color temp warmed up.. robbing Peter to Pay Amazon!

(essentially this one, but with pins at the back.. I love them!.. though I generally have to fashion my own fixtures for them.. while RV accessory sites will have good plastic ones, I'm sure)


jokuhl, you might want to try some of these:G4 6 SMD LED Warm White Marine

Meh, looked interesting but they won't ship to Mexico :(


That would be typical of the type of white LED (most of them) that consists of a blue LED coated with a yellow fluorescent phosphor (one such being yttrium aluminum garnet.) The apparent color temperature is controlled by the amount of phosphor; the more phosphor, the more yellow, the lower the color temperature. But the phosphor absorbs some of the blue light, and does not convert it to yellow with 100% efficiency, so there is some loss as phosphor is added. (Note - there's a sharp blue peak and a broad yellow peak, so there's a strong dip in between, in the green. That's why the color rendition index is only so-so.)

Hi Paul,

Earlier this year, my Philips rep gave me a sample 7-watt AmbientLED GU10 that is suppose to be a 35-watt replacement, but it only supplies 155 lumens and its large physical size may not be suitable for all fixtures (it's the size of a frigg'n Buick!). Things are changing rapidly and even the documentation on Philip's website is often out of date. For example, their 3-watt BA11 LED candle lamps were initially rated at 45 lumens and the current incarnation is now three times that (136 lumens).

Might be best if you fire-off a quick e-mail to their Lighting Support group at: http://www.feedback.philips.com/lighting/support/ Good luck!


Hydro-Quebec to roll out 'smart' meters
Utility in $350-million deal; By 2017, new technology will replace province's electro-magnetic system

Hydro-Québec is moving into the digital age with a plan to deploy about 3.8 million "smart" meters across the province by 2017.

The utility announced Wednesday a $350-million deal with global giant Landis+Gyr for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and almost 3 million next-generation meters.

German-based Elster is to provide the balance of the smart meters, using Landis+Gyr technology.

It's the largest smart-meter deployment in Canada and one of the biggest in North America. The new equipment will replace electro-magnetic meters.

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Hydro+Quebec+roll+smart+meters...

Meanwhile, out west:

Smart meters set to roll out in Kamloops

Kamloops will be one of seven provincial hubs for BC Hydro's billion-dollar smart metering program set to roll out this fall.

The Crown corporation has started an advertising campaign in markets across B.C., including here, to prepare homeowners for new meters with capabilities it says will save energy and make consumers more aware of their consumption.


The changes and benefits, including stopping electricity theft and improving efficiencies in the system, will also be invisible to homeowners for at least a year. That's when BC Hydro will have technology in place allowing homeowners to view details of their consumption habits, for example power usage from so-called "vampire devices" operating in the middle of the night.

See: http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20110527/KAMLOOPS0101/110529841/-1/ka...

So that brings Canada's three most populous provinces -- Ontario, Québec and British Columbia -- squarely into the smart meter fold.


including stopping electricity theft

This will have a negative effect on the high value BC hydroponic "horticulture" industry, which is a major export earner for the province...

That has to be one of the primary drivers, and a point also touched on in the Gazette article:

"It can be used to focus on electricity thefts, a happenstance that will surely have an impact on Quebec's prolific, but illegal, hydroponic marijuana trade."

Power theft reported costs BC Hydro $100 million a year.

BC Hydro says the theft of electricity — mostly from marijuana grow operations — now costs $100 million every year.

Hydro spokesperson Cindy Verschoor said that's a significant increase from the estimated $30-million revenue loss from electricity theft in 2006, the last time Hydro calculated the loss.

She said it's because larger and more sophisticated grow ops are sucking more power each year.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/10/08/bc-hydro...


No question it is a big issue, but I'm not sure how the smart meters will make such a difference. These guys dig into the conduits and tap in before the meter.
But, a $100 million inventory loss - quite unacceptable for any business. I wish they'd spend a bit more time on that and a bit less money on tv commercials.

If they put power monitoring on either end of a powerline, and have near realtime data on the legitimate users, they could find out where to look for the thefts. Narrowing down the size of the search area could make a huge difference.

BC Hydro says the theft of electricity — mostly from marijuana grow operations — now costs $100 million every year.

Yes, but what's the value of all that extra revenue brought into BC by all these MJ growers. Maybe BC Hydro should just keep quiet and pretend that they never noticed any problems.

With the Conservative opposition in Ontario threatening to make smart meter use voluntary, as I understand - a populist sop in advance of October elections.

Hi Hugh,

Don't know if you caught the recent Toronto Star on this:

Cohn: Dumbing down smart meters is clever politics

For Hudak, however, smart meters are the gift that keeps on giving. That’s why he likes having it both ways. In Trenton last week, he vowed that a Tory government will be “pulling the plug on Dalton McGuinty's mandatory smart meter tax machine scheme.” Sounds snappy, but it actually means he’ll keep them in place — just make them optional.

The Tories cite Florida as an example of how people can opt out. But they neglect to say that flat rates happen to be higher in that state. Hudak is giving people false hope that he can make their bills magically decrease. The reality is that overall costs will rise if smart meters are scaled back, because if enough people don’t reduce peak demand, we’ll have to build more costly generating capacity.

Strange that the Progressive Conservatives, normally supportive of market forces and price signals, now want to shelter people from the realities of energy costs. Hudak is sticking to his script, promising to hold down hydro prices and effortlessly turn the clock back to dumb meters, just as he pledged last week to end any new subsidies for renewable energy from wind and solar.

See: http://www.thestar.com/article/991626--cohn-dumbing-down-smart-meters-is...

And he wants to get rid of the OPA and build more nuclear power stations as well. Yeah, that's sure to keep electricity rates low. The guy rates a perfect five out of five on the dinkledorf scale.


The power system in Ontario has been horribly mis-managed over the last few years. We used to have a single, publicly owned agency, Ontario Hydro, responsible for generating and distributing power. The seeds of our current problems were sown by a Conservative premier, Mike Harris, who wanted to dismantle Ontario Hydro and create a market based system. A fluctating market price for power would be set based on the demand for power and the price that every energy producer bid to supply their power. It might have worked if every energy supplier truly had to bid to supply power. Instead, many energy producers have been able to negotiate contracts where they are guaranteed a minimum amount for power regardless of what the market rate is. The Green Energy program brought in by Dalton Mcguinty is compounding the problems. The feed in tarifs for solar, hydro and wind are extremely high relative to the cost of power from other sources and the contracts specify that the power must be purchased even if it is not needed. There are stories of power producers in NW Ontario being paid millions of dollars not to produce power, yet the province continues to sign more contracts for green power in that area of the province. There are also more frequent situations where the fluctuating market price actually goes negative which means we are actually paying neighbouring states or provinces to take our surplus power.

Ontario's economy took a big hit after the financial crisis in 2008 and has not recovered. Hydro rates have increased significantly in recent years and are forecast to continue to rise well beyond the inflation rate well into the future. Our hydro rates are increasingly uncompetitive in comparison to other provinces and states. The Liberals currently in power seem utterly clueless as to what to do about this problem other than to try to subsidize power rates from general revenue.

My preference would be to go back to having a publily owned power utility. Switching to a market based system hasn't worked for Ontario, nor for most other jurisdictions that have tried this.

Didn't Ontario Hydro, as a "publicly owned power utility" manage to run up a $38bn debt, that is still being repaid?

I disagree that most market based systems haven;t worked - the problem has been that prov/state governments want to have "market systems" that are rate controlled or capped - which is not, of course, a market based system.

There is no guarantee that a market based system eill lead to cheaper rates than before, though every premier that has introduced one says exactly that. What is guaranteed, is that you will have market based rates, just like for retail gasoline,which is the whole idea and exactly what governments fear. That is why they then negotiated these fixe rate deals, which defeats the whole purpose - they can;t have it both ways.

Have a gov owned utility with all the inefficiency and bloat that goes along with it, or have a market based system, where you will have efficiencies, and likely better gov tax revenues, but not necessarily cheap power.

The key thing about a market system is that it encourages efficiency, in generation, transmission and customer use - a gov owned monopoly utility does exactly the opposite, and, perhaps worst of all, is subject to the whims of the gov of the day, who can't resist promising cheap power, which means below market rate, and that will, sooner or (usually) later, lead to problems.

Look at Quebec they keep their rates below market, and the result is very wasteful usage of electricity by Quebeckers - and in doing so, the province is missing out on billions of export revenue - Export Land Model for electricity. They could easily get more than their annual equalisation payments (an even worse "non-market" system) by having market linked rates and doing a decent amount of efficiency work.

As for the rates being uncompetitive, I doubt any family has yet moved from there because of the power rates. And the only businesses that do are aluminium smelters - for most others, elec costs are minor compared to staff and buildings.

Market rates work fine - they are just not government controlled rates - and most governments seem to have trouble understanding that.

Didn't Ontario Hydro, as a "publicly owned power utility" manage to run up a $38bn debt, that is still being repaid?

Much of that debt came from the construction of the Darlington nuclear plant. At a time of double digit inflation, none of the cost was paid up front so the cost exploded due to compound interest on the money borrowed for construction. There were further delays as governments of the day were not entirely convinced the plant was needed. so is this Ontario Hydro's fault, or the politicians? The debt was supposed to have been paid off by now via a special surcharge on our hydro bills but the government is now adding other costs to that account such as the reconstruction of the Adam Beck facility at Niagara Falls.

Have a gov owned utility with all the inefficiency and bloat that goes along with it, or have a market based system, where you will have efficiencies, and likely better gov tax revenues, but not necessarily cheap power.

It's hard to imagine we would have less bureaucracy now as we have a veritable "alphabet soup" of agencies responsible for power. There's the Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Authority, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Independent Electrical System Operator. All these agencies are staffed with large numbers of highly paid people.

Ontario Hydro's overly optimistic load forecasts are largely to blame. When Darlington was first envisioned, electricity demand was projected to increase by seven per cent per annum, ad infinitum (it had already done so for some fifty years so it didn't seem unreasonable to think this in that context). Of course, structural changes in Ontario's economy and a deep and prolonged recession, combined with investments in energy efficiency stimulated in large part by higher electricity prices left Hydro with an enormous amount of excess capacity for which there was little or no export potential. I was working as a policy analyst with the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Electricity Section at the time and stretching out the construction schedule was considered to be the best course of action in light of these difficult circumstances and it was, in fact, the strategy put forth by Hydro itself. Was it the right call? I think so.


Since we are on the topic of Canadian reactors, I think this story is timely;

Maple Syrup Reactors Safe, Canadian Prime Minister Reassures

I definitely feel reassured eating my pancakes after reading that!

There were further delays as governments of the day were not entirely convinced the plant was needed. so is this Ontario Hydro's fault, or the politicians?

Well, they were both part of the government, so don't see the need to differentiate. If it was a private company doing that development, they have to look at the market, projected growth, likely prices, competitors, and take their chances. Same as a farmer, property developer, hotel chain, airline, car mfr etc, etc.
Governments have a terrible track record on making good "investments" - that should be left to the private sector, and just tax the profits - then you are not putting the taxpayers money at risk.

It's hard to imagine we would have less bureaucracy now as we have a veritable "alphabet soup" of agencies responsible for power. There's the Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Authority, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Independent Electrical System Operator.

Yes, and who created all of those? If you have an Alberta style market system, the only one you really need is the IESO.

It all comes back to the government's desire to keep prices artificially cheap, and ultimately it just doesn't work - like trying to hold back the tide. In the case of Ontario, you are paying for it in other ways, through over consumption, lost export revenue (or more import spending) taxes, surcharges for recovery of the stranded debt, etc.

From link above "We're driving on fewer cylinders these days"

Scott Leitner recently purchased the six-cylinder version of the Chevrolet Equinox SUV, paying an almost $2,000 premium for the extra power.

Leitner also test drove the same SUV powered by four cylinders but decided the bigger engine made it easier "to merge onto the freeway." The substitute teacher from Rossmoor said he thinks the extra power works better for driving in the mountains and for long trips. And besides, Leitner said he was already making a concession by trading in a Chevrolet Tahoe with an eight-cylinder engine.

What a bunch of BS. I have Toyota Yaris with a standard 1.5 liter engine, and I have no problems whatsoever merging onto freeways, driving in mountains, or doing long trips.

Not BS, physics.

Equinox, 3800 lbs curb weight
Yaris, 2400 lbs curb weight.

F = MA, so more M with the Equinox requires more F (bigger motor) to get the same A.

Now do you really need another 1400 lbs to drag your lead butt to work? Different question entirely.

Yeah, but what about passing other vehicles? What he's saying is he wants to 'punch it' when he wants more power to pass or tow or whatever the need may be. I'm the same way - usually light on the pedal, but when someone is lolligagging or I need to tow a trailer or whatever, the power is there. With a 4 banger you'll sit behind a slower vehicle and spend way too much time calclulating distance to pass and arguing with yourself as to whether a certain gap is safe to pass. The reason why so much power is needed to pass, is because the person being passed often speeds up. So you have to allow for their 5-8 mph increase in speed plus the 10-15 neeeded to blow by, which means you need to be able to punch it! Because blowing by someone is much safer than getting out there in the opposing lane and feeling a big matzo ball because your passing that other car so slowly. And there's towing - forget towing with a weak engine.

Once I finally realized that peak oil wasn't going to result in the end of the world, and that declining oil consumption by some would be offset by increasing consumption by others, I tossed my 4 cylinder econobox and upgraded to a midsize with a v6.

I drive fairly conservatively, and the difference in fuel economy between my midsize and econo cars is negligible at this point - although I expect it to grow, and of course hybrids are considerably more efficient. And the power is there when I need it, exactly as you say. It is immensely satisfying to punch it, to be able to do what you want to do.

If there are more fuel efficient hybrids and/or diesels that still retain some power in the future, and I fully expect there will be, I will embrace them.

Yes, I want to eat my cake and have it too. I'm American!

Oilman, I drive the opposite way that you and almost everybody else does. I routinely hypermile and never ever punch it -- there's never any need for it when you drive that way. As far as I'm concerned, my Yaris is grossly overpowered with a 100 hp engine when the maximum power that I use is maybe 50 hp.

I burn about 30% less fuel than the average Yaris driver. As for towing things, I fail to understand why you need to tow anything -- I don't and live a pretty good life.

Well, according to the (Canadian) mileage ratings for the Equinox, the combined city/hwy rating drops from 36 to 27mpg for taking the V-6. So he is using 33% more fuel, all the time, for the ability to "punch it".

For the average of 12000miles/yr, he is using 444gal/yr instead of 333, which will cost him and extra $440/yr

This attitude, is, basically, why the US uses more motor fuel, per person, than any other civilised country.

Because blowing by someone is much safer than getting out there in the opposing lane and feeling a big matzo ball because your passing that other car so slowly.

Since most American drivers seem to have this attitude, and it is "much safer", how is it that American road deaths are higher than Australia, Canada, NZ, Uk, Germany, etc? People in those countries still manage to pass others, and less of them die in the process.

Towing is the only valid reason for needing the V-6 (3500lbs) compared to the 4 (1500lbs), but that wasn't his reason, and I'll bet it isn't for 95% of other drivers either.

There is a price to be paid for driving around in oversized, overpowered vehicles, and not only in $.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has released early estimates for motor vehicle accident deaths in 2010. These estimates show that 32,788 people died in car and truck wrecks on U.S. highways in 2010.


The Martian.

they've really sold consumers that a big motor makes up for a small .....

mind? ;-)

I often question why someone would buy a particular vehicle as I'm sure others would rightfully question my own, but I think PE has a valid point. Provided I keep my speed in check, I average about 9 litres per 100 km on the highway with my partner's V8-powered Dodge Magnum (it has variable cylinder displacement and operates on four cylinders at highway speeds). That's pretty much on par with the four banger Reliant wagon I use to drive twenty-five years ago and I can confirm that passing a transport with a HEMI is a vastly difference experience from that of my poor little K-car, and I can think back to at least one occasion when I and the driver in the opposing lane were thankful for the extra ponies on tap.


There is no question that having lots of power on tap can get you out of those situations, but shouldn't the objective of safe driving be to not get into them in the first place?

Not saying this applies to you or your business partner, but for many drivers, having lots of power often encourages aggressive driving, and uneccessary passing "because you can". Leaving aside the accident risk, aggressive driving uses lots more fuel.

All this said, if the main aim is to have a burst of power available, at any time, there are other ways to achieve this than a big engine. Superchargers are one way, (variable cylinder displacement is another), and with future hybrids, they can be designed to have the electric motor provide that extra punch, even at highway speeds.

The objective is to have economical operating for the 95+% of time that the vehicle operates. Large displacement engines pay the penalty for that 95% of the time, although diesel engines much less so than gasoline.

I don't disagree; we should always exercise due care when we get behind the wheel and I try my best to drive responsibly at all times, but we don't always live up to our own standards and God knows I'm as guilty of that as anyone.

I should clarify that the Magnum belongs to my domestic partner, Ed (my business partner drives a Volvo wagon and he picks me up whenever we do site visits). I haven't driven my own car since last September and Ed bikes to work most days, so I might put on 500 km in any given year (max.) and Ed perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 km. My 300M Special is nine years old and I'll likely keep it for another five to ten, but I won't bother to replace it unless our circumstances change (one vehicle is all we really need).

I should also acknowledge that today's four cylinder engines are far more powerful and fuel efficient than that of poor ole "Miss P", circa 1985, or even my SAAB 900 Turbo SPG of the same vintage.


I should also acknowledge that today's four cylinder engines are far more powerful and fuel efficient than that of poor ole "Miss P", circa 1985, or even my SAAB 900 Turbo SPG of the same vintage.

I think this is a key point, there is a world of difference from what was powering the 70's and 80's econoboxes. They can give much better performance at all levels, and good transient performance.

Even better of course, are the four cylinder diesels, but sadly, we don't see those here, except for VW.

But, just to illustrate how much a modern diesel can change the game, we can compare the Equinox with the best diesel car on the road, the Mini Cooper S Diesel (avail only in Europe)

Item / Equinox 4 / Equinox V6/ Mini Diesel

Power@rpm 182hp@ 6700 / 264 @6950 / 143 @4000
Torque@rpm 172 ft-lb@4900 / 222@5100 / 225@175-2750
weight 3800 / 3900 / 2530 lbs
torque/weight 22 / 17 / 11

So the Mini, with a 1.6L turbo diesel produces performance similar to the larger gasoline engines, and has the bonus of doing so at low to mid revs - if you ever have to run the Equinox at full power at 6950 rpm, don;t do so for too long!

From these numbers, you could probably put the Mini engine into the Equinox 4 and see an improvement in performance, and you likely wouldn't lose much to the V6 either.

Oh, and the Mini gets 60 US mpg hwy, and would come in at around 50mpg combined city/hwy. Also does 0-60 in 8.1 seconds - I couldn't find acceleration specs for the equinox.

What I don;t understand with vehicles like the Equinox is why they have to be so heavy. Maybe that is the next area for government to regulate - the maximum weight of passenger vehicles?

What I don;t understand with vehicles like the Equinox is why they have to be so heavy. Maybe that is the next area for government to regulate - the maximum weight of passenger vehicles?

Hah! Just try to shoehorn the average North American in your precious Mini Cooper !


There's a reason why they build 'em with truck frames, don't ya know?


It appears that the Equinox is built in Canada, but the engineering was also done in Korea and Germany (Opel and GM Daewoo).

It is not based on a truck.


That's true. A lot of SUVs today are technically "crossovers", i.e., unibody construction as opposed to body-on-frame.

[And my apologies, Paul, for yanking your chain.]


Paul - after that photo I am speechless!

I think the Mini has been designed so that people like that can;t fit - it will devalue the brand!

I think almost all the SUV's except the big ones (Expedition, Suburban) are now unibody construction. It is lighter - somewhat.

Still, the trend of ever heavier vehicles carries on - even the Mini is not exempt from that. - though I still don;t understand why. Even with greater crash strength requirements, it is possible to engineer lighter cars to meet them, though probably more expensive to do so.

I remain a firm advocate of the modern diesels - way better than what they were decades ago - not trade off in "performance", greater towing ability, longer engine life, and of course, significantly reduced fuel consumption, especially in city driving.

But then, I grew up on a farm and am used to the stuff - many people, and women, in particular, seem to detest diesels because of the "oily" fuel.


Yes, and had there been a pencil handy I would have stabbed both of my eyes.

Well, there may be some hope yet. The 2012 Chrysler/Fiat 500 has a curb weight of 2,363 lbs, seven air bags et all, which makes it roughly two to three [hundred] pounds lighter than a Mini Cooper.

Source: http://www.edmunds.com/fiat/500/2012/features-specs.html

And if I were ever in the market for a full size pick-up (and that would be a foggy day in hell), the power plant of choice would be a Cummins Turbo Diesel. That is just an amazing piece of automotive engineering (see: http://www.allpar.com/mopar/cummins-diesel.html).


[Edit to correct weight]

The Cummins diesel is indeed a great piece of technology , with just one problem - it only comes in size XL!

This is where I don't understand American automakers - they have a great 6L diesel there for heavy duty Pu's, now why not make a 3L 4cyl version for compact Pu's and 4.5L 6cyl version for F for fullsize (but not heavy duty) versions?

This India made PikUp is now very popular in Australia, 2.5L 4 cyl, turbo diesel, cost $23k (Toyota equivalent is $40k), and gets 30+mpg;

It's not that fuel efficient technologies don;t exist, it is that the car makers selling here (even the Japanese and Euro ones) don't sell them here as they think they "won't sell".

You should not have to buy an 8000lb HD PU to get a fuel efficient diesel engine. IMHO.

Ew, ew, ew - where's the whaling fleet when it's needed?

I wonder if the heavier and heavier comes from over crash strengthening due to the fear of lawsuits and bad crash test reviews.


It is true that an extra team of ponies does provide a potential escape mechanism. I still remember the Tundra getting me out of trouble, unpon entering I-40 speeding wheelers were coiming up fast in both lanes (yipes), and pedal-to-the metal resulted in blastoff out of trouble. On balance I suspect more people get into trouble because of high performance than get out of it however.

And it's not just the speeding 18 wheelers you have to watch out for !

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKg5-asGRHY


Towing is the only valid reason for needing the V-6 (3500lbs) compared to the 4 (1500lbs), but that wasn't his reason, and I'll bet it isn't for 95% of other drivers either.

The 4-cylinder Equinox has a curb weight of about 3800 pounds, has a 900 pound payload, and a 1500 pound towing limit, for a total weight of 6200 pounds with a 185 horsepower engine. That's 33.5 pounds per horsepower.

The six cylinder Equinox has a slightly higher curb weight, a similar load capacity, and a towing capacity of 3500 pounds with a total weight of 8400 pounds and 264 horsepower: 32 pounds per horsepower.

So an increase of 40% in power gives an increase of 35% in allowable load, which seems reasonable. Until you realize this vehicle is running on the same roads as trucks of 80,000 pounds total weight which move pretty well with about 650 horsepower, or 123 pounds per horsepower.

Does anyone except me suspect that the real reason for the difference in towing capacity limits is to sell more of the V6 engines, which cost $1500 more and are not available on the base model? The cheapest V6 is more than $2500 more than the cheapest four.


The reason why so much power is needed to pass, is because the person being passed often speeds up. So you have to allow for their 5-8 mph increase in speed plus the 10-15 neeeded to blow by, which means you need to be able to punch it!

In my misspent youth I did discover there is a certain amount of satisfaction in dealing with dipsticks who speed up as you pass them by shifting down a couple of gears, punching the throttle, giving them the full benefit of the roar of a big-block V8 running at 6000 rpm through straight-through mufflers as you go past their door, and leaving them behind coughing and choking in two streams of black smoke out the tailpipe from an overcarburetted non-pollution-controlled engine.

But that was back when gas was 25 cents per gallon and I got mine for free because my dad owned the gas station. At today's prices, I tend to kind of sneak up behind these guys and slip by them when they're not looking, taking full advantage of the turbocharger and variable valve timing on the double-overhead-cam four. Older. Wiser.

Just happened to hear Joe Biden delivering what is apparently a weekly White House speech on the radio (transcript):

When President Obama and I came into office, we faced an auto industry on the brink of extinction. Total collapse.

At the time, many people thought the President should just let GM and Chrysler go under. They didn’t think the automobile industry was essential to America’s future.

The President disagreed – and, in addition, he wasn’t willing to walk away from the thousands of hardworking UAW members who worked at GM and Chrysler...

And because of what we did, the auto industry is rising again. Manufacturing is coming back. And our economy is recovering and it’s gaining traction.

Didn't say how or whether the cars produced by that essential and resurgent auto industry would be fueled...

Presidential Candidate and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty comes to Iowa and makes brave* perhaps even courageous* statements about energy/ethanol subsidies.

He failed to mention that Minnesota has been subsidizing ethanol while he was governor, something Iowa does not do. Nor does he bring up that Minnesota has long had a 10% ethanol mandate which it wants to raise to 20%. Iowa does not have an ethanol mandate.

In any case Pawlenty comes across as the rooster taking credit for the sunrise since the blender's credit ethanol subsidy has nearly been written off by most ethanol supporters.

One can only hope he will go to Texas next and make more brave* and courageous* statements about oil subsidies.

* http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?YesMinisterCourageValue

The story is on this week's "Market to Market" program which also discusses this years unusual weather in North America, Europe and China. Sue Martin is the analyst. She sees higher wheat and corn prices ahead.


China drought affects more than 34 million people

A debilitating drought along China's Yangtze river has affected more than 34 million people, leaving farmers and livestock without water and parching a major grain belt, according to the government.

More than 4.23 million people are having difficulty finding adequate drinking supplies, while more than five million are in need of assistance to overcome the drought, the Civil Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The special characteristics of this drought disaster is that it has persisted a long time," the ministry said.

"Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month."

I'm astonished. Calgary is not very transit friendly in the suburbs, so we do a lot of driving around for grocery shopping and errands. I take the bus two or three days a week downtown or to the university but mainly because the parking situation is impossible. Two Honda Civics cost us $50 a month each for a tank of gas, or a total of $100 per month. One tank will get us 500 km of driving in the city, 600 km out on the highway. Who needs to drive more than 500 km a month for personal business?

"Who needs to drive more than 500 km a month for personal business?"

LOL. Hahahahahaha. Surely you jest. That was a US article. Median commute distance 10 or 11 miles, 16 or 17 km, one way. (Average commute distance higher, figures vary, perhaps 20 or even 25 km.) Call the low-ish end of all that 35km/day round trip, for 21 days a month. Already that's about 750km/month, plus any extra commutes to go in on Saturday or Sunday. Let's not forget the kids' club sports, maybe twice a week per kid, and sometimes at a considerable distance since, owing to the Lake Wobegon effect, local competition couldn't possibly be good enough for the world-class darlings. And the repeated trips halfway across the state for the tournaments (journeying to the "State meets" etc.) And dropping them off at school and picking them up again every day. And endlessly shuttling them back and forth if a divorce is involved. Then there's going out to get groceries, and going to the mall for other goods or services. And if anyone in the family has a medical issue, the doctor "visits" never end - insurance pays for brief "visits", so one "visit" will never be scheduled if, instead, four or five can get the job done. Oh, and the monthly or semimonthly 200km roundtrip to see Grandma and Grandpa or other relatives, and the 2000km summer vacation trip. It simply never ends.

From today's Toronto Star:(http://www.wheels.ca/article/795941)

Soaring gas prices drive sales of small cars

In explaining those numbers, DesRosiers, president of Richmond-Hill based DesRosiers Automotive, said in an earlier interview that Canadians are already a small vehicle country and there wasn’t much room for growth.

“We’re already at 50 per cent of the market while the U.S. is at 25 per cent,” he said. “We could grow five more points but not much more, while the U.S. has more room and it’s showing.

The statistics show that the Honda Civic compact remains the most popular car in the country, while the Ford F-series pickup holds top spot among trucks and the overall market by a wide margin. The Hyundai Elantra compact and the Dodge Caravan are in second place in sales in the respective car and truck categories.”

Sales of small vehicles have climbed significantly in the United States this year as gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon. Forecasters have indicated fuel costs will likely continue rising rather than drop much.

As PaulS notes, it's because you're Canadian. As for DesRosiers contention that there's no room for the small car segment to grow in Canada, I think he'll be proven wrong.


Agencies’ Lack of Coordination Hindered Supply of Crucial Gas, Report Says

WASHINGTON — The United States is running out of a rare gas that is crucial for detecting smuggled nuclear weapons materials because one arm of the Energy Department was selling the gas six times as fast as another arm could accumulate it, and the two sides failed to communicate for years, according to a new Congressional audit.

... According to the Government Accountability Office report, the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which gathers the gas from old nuclear weapons, never told the department’s Isotope Program about the slowing rate of helium-3 production. That is in part because it was secret information that could be used to calculate the size of weapon stockpiles.

For its part, the Isotope Program calculated demand for the gas not in a scientific way but instead on the basis of how many commercial companies called to inquire each year about helium-3 supplies.

...“With so much riding on helium-3, it is shocking to learn that the department’s forecast for demand is based simply on a telephone log tracking those who called asking about the availability of helium-3,”

[They] must get their forecast skills from the EIA

Helium-3 is also used in the oil and gas industry

The Energy and Homeland Security Departments “built large, multibillion-dollar programs around an assumed endless supply” of helium-3, according to a staff report from the House science committee.

The detection program that relies on helium-3 has since been scaled back.

Nobody's mentioned blackouts yet but that's what China is heading into.

China heads toward a summer of blackouts

“The power company told us to prepare for even more serious electricity cuts when the high energy-consuming summer months come.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. China has clearly been aware for years that growing the modern part of their economy requires increasing amounts of electricity -- they've been building anything that will generate power, from coal to dams to nukes to wind. Reducing power to export-oriented businesses has one set of risks. Reducing power to the growing middle class those businesses have created has a different set of risks.

Which is a bigger threat to globalization? Peak oil and the increasing cost of transportation? Or inability to grow the supplies of electricity in cheap-labor countries?

Interesting? It will be "interesting" to see the summer of 2011 with (1) the end of QE2 (2) China's hydropower shortages and blackouts (3) Japan's nuclear power shortages and blackouts all at once.

China's diesel supply problems appear to be getting worse rather quickly, as diesel demand for electricity generation increases.

BEIJING May 30 (Reuters) - China's fuel supplies are expected to remain tight in June due to strong seasonal consumption coupled with additional demand from diesel-fired power generators amid ongoing power shortages, a report by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) showed on Monday.

"Even though falling crude oil prices in May lowered operational costs for refiners ... (We) are not optimistic about domestic fuel supply in the second quarter," the commission said in the report on its website (www.ndrc.gov.cn).


Not mentioned in this article, China is considering various measures to curb diesel demand, such as fuel allocations or restrictions.

Romney not as brave as Pawlenty:


At least he will be consistent if he also supports oil subsidies and that means big bucks in his campaign war chest.

I don't think Iowa Fundies, the Republican base, can bring themselves to vote for a Mormon though.

The entirety of the Republican Party is waning into irrelevance because every member of the party is ever-increasingly at odds with reality. The moment a new candidate jumps into the fray, the first thing he or she does is pander to the base, which consists of a gun-toting America-can-do-no-wrong death cult of Jesus. It doesn't even matter who wins the nomination because they will be so sullied by the *&@#storm that is coming in the form of the GOP primary that independent/undecided voters (yes, there are still plenty of those left out there) will lie squarely outside their reach.

More and more people are waking up and seeing that this party does not and cannot possibly represent them. Take it from someone who knows. They may still think they are winning (probably not anymore after losing NY26, though) but the warning shots have been fired and the big blue nuke is well on its way for 2012, assuming we manage to survive until then.

To go ahead and make this one on-topic: the right wing in America is also a wholly owned subsidiary of a certain conglomerate centered around its oil refining business, which shall remain unnamed. I'm waiting for anyone to provide me with some evidence to the contrary. So they are thoroughly hopeless. On the other hand, I still hold out some hope that we might get the other oil majors, BP, Exxon, Shell, etc. on the right side and admit that they really should be doing a full court press for renewables and smart transportation before the *&@# REALLY starts to hit the fan, instead of falling back onto excuses and non-starter half-answers like "100 years of natural gas, no really, I swears it!" After all, in the end their billions will be worth nothing if the entire economy grinds to a halt due to resource depletion and rising energy prices and we continue fracking ourselves into oblivion (and here's a hint for those oil insiders lurking here, I know you're reading this: we know fracking is inherently polluting and YOU need to come to terms with it too and stop lying because we see right through you), and that's exactly where we're headed right now.

Oh, and it's probably worth noting that an increasing number of their shareholders feel the same way. From a couple of days ago:


If there happen to be any of those top oil executives reading this one, I have a pro tip for them: in general, it's considered unwise, if you are the head of a major corporation, to dismiss the concerns of your shareholders with the wave of a hand simply because you're already committed to a particular course of action. A far better path is to actually, you know, take them seriously, and, oh, I don't know...ADDRESS THEM???

Do not be so sure.

I know Republicans are crazy, but on some days I still consider that I would vote for them in 2012, if only to punish the Dems.

I will never vote Democrat again in my life.

Now, I most likely will not vote - but if push comes to shove, I would vote Republican. There are alot more like me out there. The media likes to call us "independents" but really, we are too intelligent to believe in political parties anymore.

It's nothing idealogical. It's more game theory than anything else.
With Republicans, either society collapes or it doesn't. Perhaps a little bit more chance of collapse. But if it doesn't, I win because I hang on to more of own my money.
With Democrats, perhaps slightly lower chance of collapse, but if society doesn't collapse, I lose anyway as my money is transferred to the underclasses. So with Republicans it's either lose or win. With Democrats it's either lose or...lose.

It depends on which side feels more strongly and energizes and organizes, at any given time. I fully expect it to be a pendulum as we continue our long descent, frustrating everybody on both sides.

People like you won't vote.

Let's go back to the sea level issue for a bit.

I take pride in being well informed insofar as the basic sciences are concerned, but I have never had time to study oceanography as such.

I simply have no clue as to how "sea level" is defined , starting from scratch, or how sea levels can rise by a meter in one spot and not rise by more than a couple of centimeters in another spot no more than a hundred or two hundred kilometers away.

Obviously there must be some arbitrarily chosen bench mark used to define rising and falling sea levels.I presume this is an average of some sort, based on historical records gathered at some arbitrary seaports, at some particular time , etc.

I do understand the role played by atmospheric pressure, and storm surges, etc, when a low pressure system results in a temporary rise in level.

But it seems that given the fact that there is not much siesmic activity on the east coast of the US, that the land is niether rising or sinking appreciably, that gravity would be quite uniform over the general area over time measured in years or decades.

So HOW AND WHY can sea level rise a meter or more in SOME PARTICULAR east coast spot and only a couple of centimeters a hundred miles away?

Why doesn't gravity keep the water level essentially flat, relatively speaking, excepting tidal influences, wind, etc, of course?

Of course the rotation of the earth causes some variability in sea level, but that would seem to be a constant at any given spot.

I have no problem whatsoever understanding a general rise all over the globe due to land based melting ice runoff , or a rise or fall in a particular area due to tectonic scale activity that significantly affects the local force of gravity.

Links to a website explaining this phenomenon in reasonably non technical language would be greatly appreciated.

I haven't had sufficient reason to seriously crack a math or physics book for over forty years.

I think it is due to currents. As depths change in the shallower coastal waters the resistance to currents will change in turn changing the depth to which the water will pile up or even changing the direction of flow. A good question and one I have been wondering over.


Also glaciation rebound. Areas that were weighted down by the icesheets that melted at the last glaciation are still rebounding relative to those that weren't.

I'm not sure that is happening at a fast enough rate to cause the differences and timing they are talking about. The projection is quite large differences over the next 100 years and I don't think the rise has been that much over the last 100.



You should visit north Sweden. There is an area where all lakes are named "Gulf" something. I don't have the figures but I think 1 meter per year (and slowing) is what is going on. Sea level raise aside, in 1000 years Sweden and Finland will merge where the cities of Umeå/Vasa is located. Check on a map.

Regarding the currents, it very much so; Winds are driven by temperature differences and the rotation of the earth. When temperatures changes, so does wind. Wind is the driver of ocean currents, so they change to.

Now assum two places A and B. Water is transported from A to B by means of ocean currents. If these currents pick up speed, we will see ocean levels grow at B and sink at A. These trends are superimposed onto the general sea level change. So the end result may be that when sea level elevates by 0.5 meter, A may have experienced only 5 cm while B rose 1 meter.

Also, you must take changes in gravity into account; If all ice on Greenland would melt, the sea level at the shore of Greenland woul FALL because the Island lose mass and hence gravity. The water would flow "downhill" and end up somewhere else. Don't own beachfront property on Hawaii under those scenarios.

How is sea level measuered: By sattelite. NASA is heavily involved although not the only one. They meassure spots in a grid over the entire ocean and calculate the average. Exactly how the sea level is meassured in one local spot is however most likely due to older meassurments. Some guy said 200 years ago "this spot is 0 m above sea" and so it is.

Tak, that is interesting, I never realised things changed that fast in that area, I stand corrected. I did make a decision, when I moved here, not to have any sort of beach front property that was not temporary. Not just sea level rising but increased risk of storms, nothing I would miss or couldn't rebuild. Any long term residence had to be a minimum of 50m above sea level. I may raise that.


Ooops, big mistake in the first section. "One meter per century", not year, is the correct statement.


Here is a sample from EPA of US Sea level trends

Here are NoAAs sea level trends from satellite:
There you see global differences in trends.

These depend on:
Large scale atmospheric circulation. (Winds pushing the ocean).
Ocean currents. (ocean circulation, also deep water, well, pushing the ocean).

See abstract in for instance http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3533.1
"In the North Atlantic, sea level rises north of the Gulf Stream but falls to the south."
This is for a climate warming scenario.

Thats all you get - Sunday morning:)

The second link is a Wow! There are spots that raise 9 mm/year. That adds upp in just a decade. No wonder they have problems in those parts of the world.

That high rise is in the west pacific where the islands really don't need it too. Looks like you have quite a rise on too though here seems neutral.

That reminds me of the other answer to OFM's question. The densities will change with warming and decreased salinity, which will not be uniform. The warmer, less saline water will be less dense and so rise more than the cooler more saline water.


Go splosh the water around in your bathtub.

Observe. Where are the high and low points at any given time?

Now, put some heavy items in the tub that won't move if you get the water moving. Get a consistent flow going using your hand to create a current.


Real-time physics, no math.

The reason that projecting inundation is harder than predicting sea-level rise is because very minor errors in the estimated submerged slope can lead to huge changes in flooded area. Changes in storm surge due to shifting/intensifying wind patterns and in upstream water flow further complicate the picture. Average slopes used traditionally are completely misleading, and a full survey like the Miami maps I linked to above is too expensive to justify for non-urban land. We need complete and updated high-resolution satellite-based lidar and radar altimetry of coastlines urgently while dry to estimate future inundation and storm surge patterns.

"So HOW AND WHY can sea level rise a meter or more in SOME PARTICULAR east coast spot and only a couple of centimeters a hundred miles away?"

There are differences for a variety of reasons, but I have not heard of differences this large or this close together.

I imagine that in some areas, the land itself is rising or sinking, and this could account for differences.

Recall also that the earth's gravitational field is not perfectly evenly distributed.


It seems to me that I have seen further discussion on this issue at RC, but I could not locate it there just now.

With Democrats it's either lose or...lose.

Flaws in your argument:

It's not all about you. Your money has absolutely nothing to do with it. If it is, and the money does, we're screwed anyway.

Republicans: Everyone loses. Republicans = self-fulfilling prophecy.(E.L.E.)

Democrats: We have a tiny chance of winning. (Surviving.)

I will never vote Democrat again in my life.

And I will never vote Republican again in my life, but what does that prove? People who say they will not vote Democratic ever again are not Independents by any stretch of the imagination. That is something a true independent would never say. Of course I am not an Independent either, but then I never claimed to be one. I would be a true hypocrite if I did.

As far as peak oil goes, I don't think it makes much difference right now which party is in the White House. But it will make a difference soon, very soon. Any party that believes God governs the world and will favor believers over infidels, like the Tea Party does, will never act in the responsible way when resource collapse is upon us. They will play the blame game, blaming everyone from the Democrats to the Devil himself, for all the problems.

Of course I have no idea what the Democrats will do either. But I had rather take my chances with them than with the right wing Bible thumping nut cases.

Ron P.

Of course I have no idea what the Democrats will do either. But I had rather take my chances with them than with the right wing Bible thumping nut cases.

I agree, I try to vote for people who will enact sound policies that could work. I don't see anything at all coming out of the Republican establishment (the base OR the intelligentsia) that will actually help us deal with our energy/health care/budget problems. Regarding energy, it's obvious that we need to change our collective behavior, if nothing else just to mitigate the impact of increasing expenditures on energy.

After the first oil shocks of the 70s, we switched in the early 1970s from gas guzzling V8 monsters with <15 mpg to things like the mid-70s Toyota Corolla, which is probably half the size and gets maybe 30 mpg. (Not to mention those oil shocks gave us a national speed limit of 55 mph.) In our current crisis, we haven't seen stable, low oil prices for over a decade yet we're still complaining about how we can't pass people without a V-6 in our SUVs? Crazy.

"we're still complaining about how we can't pass people without a V-6 in our SUVs? Crazy."

How the *bleep* did we manage to survive with things like 25, 36 & 40 HP VW bugs on the road in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's? My 1971 VW bus with the 1588cc air-cooled 4 cyl had a rated top speed of 55 mph! That's what it said in the owner's manual. Also a rated payload capacity of 1920 lbs! The 1971 Bug with the same engine had a rated top speed of 65 mph! Look how many of them were around then, too.

Many folks in the U.S. have grown spoiled and greedy and way too aggressive behind the wheel.

Many folks in the U.S. have grown spoiled and greedy and way too aggressive behind the wheel.

And its not just the collective effect of individuals personailty weaknesses. Marketting is constantly trying to push the Overton window regarding what sort of car is cool/fashionable to ever more expensive vehicles. Thats how you grow the industry.

Anyway, maybe some people could consider just slowing down and not have the need to pass everyone. Around here that is a good way to appreciate the beautiful scenery a bit better. And of course, that is really not an issue on the interstate. Further, a lot of that passing is by people who are far exceeding the speed limit.

I would not want to go back to my 1963 bug but I take your point. My 1970 Karmann Ghia, however, did 84 mph on the flat without much more HP than the bug. I could go back to that except that my Prius gets much better gas mileage. They could never build the bug of that era or the KG because of all the extra weight mandated by safety requirements.

Good point. I had a 1969 Beetle convertible and it was just incredibly fun to drive. And great in the snow. Who needs to pass anyone anyway? Just enjoy the scenery and enjoy life already.

Of course I tend to wax nostalgic now. The VW rusted out after a few years due to the road salt used here to counteract the snow that it was so good at driving in. The car did require continual maintenance (which I and most other owners easily did ourselves). And the original design could never meet today's crash test standards. The Beetle lost its simple charm and eventually faded out during the early-mid 70's as additional pollution controls and attempts to make it safer gradually just bogged it down. I believe VW did continue to produce the original bug in Mexico and Brazil for a good while longer.

Ron – Not that I disagree with your general position but let’s be fair. If I describe far left wing dems who want to tax all private businesses out of existent, disallow all private ownership of property and completely disband the military would you sign on with them? But they are out there just like the right wing nuts you describe. I’m a conservative…do you think this atheist geologist belongs to the group you describe?

I know many registered R’s who view the RW nut jobs as you yet you have them clumped in with them…just like I did you. But I’m sure you were just being stingy with your words and took the generalization route. We all do from time to time. No harm – no foul. I know you for the middle of the road nut job you are. LOL

If I describe far left wing dems who want to tax all private businesses out of existent, disallow all private ownership of property and completely disband the military would you sign on with them? But they are out there just like the right wing nuts you describe.

Be honest Rockman, there are NO US Democrats that are anywhere near far enough left to want the policies you suggest (what would they be, communists?). Realistically all US Democrats are 'lite-right' - they want the usual 'free' enterprise, profit and money fixated policies as the rest, just with a slightly nicer face of looking after, slightly, those who lose out in that race. The people you describe would want nothing to do with them.

In contrast, there are plenty in the republicans who would happily see people staving and dying on the street provided their tax rate was kept down - very far right wing policies.

US politics isn't balanced.

If I describe far left wing dems who want to tax all private businesses out of existent, disallow all private ownership of property and completely disband the military would you sign on with them?

There is no Democrat that wants to tax private ownership out of existence. Really Rockman! How could you possibly make such a charge? And I know of no Democrat who has ever advocated disbanding the military. I have never met, nor have I ever heard of such a band of Democrats as you describe. On the other hand half the Republican party and 100% of the Tea Party fits the description I described. And if there were a Democratic candidate that advocated such stupid things they would not get point one percent of the vote. The Tea Party candidates, Palen and Bachmann both however are exactly as I described and they both poll right up there near the top of their other candidates.

If the Republican party ever got back to the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or perhaps even Eisenhower then I would have a better opinion of them. But the Tea Party is taking them over and driving them right into the ground. Anyone who wants the Republican nomination for president will have to cotton to the Tea Party. And that will be their undoing in the general election.

But I am not complaining about that, I just love it. Have you seen that spoof commercial for Palen, saying we should make her the Republican Presidential Nominee, praising her to the high heavens? Then at the end it says "Paid for by Barack Obama".

Ron P.

Yeah. "Far left Democrat" is an oxymoron.

There is no effective left in the US, much less a far left.

In most European countries there are powerful parties with words like "Labor, Green, Socialist, Communist" in their titles. There are no such parties in the US that have any significant national power.

Of course, the extreme right sees anyone to the left of Attila the Hun as an extreme radical left wing commie pinko whore.

But some are starting to notice that they are swatting at shadows.

If the Republican party ever got back to the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or perhaps even Eisenhower then I would have a better opinion of them.

Heck. I'd settle for a resurrection of Nixon. He was far more liberal than any candidate electable today!

Rock, The problem is the R politicians have to cowtou (spelling??) to the RW nutjobs, or else face a likely fatal primary challenge. So the whole dynamic is to move the party far to the right. Whereas the LW nut jobs are simply laughed at. And talk radio & Faux News pretty much caters to the wingers rather than the center of the party. So the moderates are left with no real power within the party.

WE - "The entirety of the Republican Party is waning into irrelevance". Just MHO but I suspect there are more then a few Dems in the House who would disagree with you. And if gasoline is selling for $5+/gal come Nov 2012 I suspect the losing Dem presidential candidate will also disagree with you.

To go ahead and make this one on-topic: the right wing in America is also a wholly owned subsidiary of a certain conglomerate centered around its oil refining business, which shall remain unnamed. I'm waiting for anyone to provide me with some evidence to the contrary.

Sure, whatever. Of course the trouble with sweeping globalized conspiracy theories of this sort is that one could never conceivably test them, short of comprehensive surveillance that would put the old Soviet KGB utterly to shame. The old saying about proving the negative comes into play. One can forever pull allegations out of thin air far, far faster than anyone could ever investigate them. Or simply allege that a few specific individual cases describe everyone and everything involved, globally. So there's no possible basis for any sort of even semi-intelligent conversation.

Romney will need to get help from a Repub religious right person like Palin with an endorsement. Then all that needs to happen is for some flim-flam in Ohio and Florida to take dem voters off the lists for any number of made up reasons like minor spelling discrepencies etc., only provide a couple of voting booths in Dem districts for millions of voters and maybe some more rigged electronic voting and with both or either of those states and Romney's in. It could happen that easily.

Obama will be told the entire country will dissolve into mass histeria if he doesn't immediately agree it was a clean election and fork it over to the Repubs, he falls apart like Kerry in 04 (having been told the evening of the election there was voter fraud in Ohio and New Mexico) and says, "Oh fine, the election is over!"

Romney and Huntsman are unnominateable as most Christian conservatives consider Mormons to be complete heretics probably even worse than Obama who they pretend is a 'Muslim' or pro-gay/drug Gary Johnson.
They'll probably draft Rev. Huck, maybe Huck-Palin. They'll probably have to pay him twenty million to do it.

Right now I assess that Pawlenty is the most likely Republican nominee, followed by Huntsman.

Unless Rick Perry throws his hat in the ring.

All these bets are off if Christie gets in the game.

Jeb Bush....wow, way too soon for another Bush to run for the White House.

T-Paw supported Cap and Trade and pardoned a serial child molester
(the pardon issue that wrecked Huck's 2008 run).
Romney launched Romneycare which Obama adopted as ACA which is the main Repub election issue.
Also the Mormon issue is very real for Repubs who are not open-minded(no Dems care that Reid is also a Mormon).
Perry is a Texas secessionist and won't sell outside the South. Besides he's another Texas politician like the Bushies and LBJ.
Christie could get nominated as he talks like a Republican and has no record.

Huck has already bowed out and poll numbers show Palin as unelectable beyond her base. I think Repubs will be desperate enough to put heretical viewpoints aside to try and get someone that has a chance of beating Obama. Romney was smart in coming out today saying he wants this campaign to be a fight over who can do the best for the economy and job creation. It's a good tact, because as oil gets even more expensive 'the people' will become restless for the illusion some other guy can jack up the economy and lower prices at the pump.

Obama gave 20 trillion dollars of transaction guarantees to the global banks. Noble prize winner (economics) Stiglitz expects only 4 trillion will be paid back. So 16 trillion for the bankers.

Obama will be re-elected. He will then reward his base with another 20 trillion dollars (16 trillion net).

Show me a repub that can deliver 16 trillion to the global bankers. Sorry Obama wins.

Romney would delivery $16T or more to the banksters along with a big sloppy wet kiss.

I don't see a difference in that respect.

Please see:

Anyone here know anyone who might call the congressman with a comment?

Armed islamist groups have taken one of the major cities in Yemen, Swedish media is reporting this morning(10:46 AM here).

The country is de facto sliding into civil war. Another Libya in the making if the crisis is not averted ASAP.

Now hopefully the unrest will spread to Saudi Arabia and all the shieks will be kicked out of power. Maybe I'm just dreaming.

I wonder if we are now witnessing first glimpse of general peak oil recognition?

The following exerpt is from an article on future energy prices (http://www.dinepenge.dk/skat/store-ekstraudgifter-rammer-danskerne).

Analysts from two of the largest Scandinavian banks (Danske Bank and Nordea) use data from IMF and IEA to substantiate their opinion:

"We are confident that the price of food, electricity and oil only knows one direction. The trend is not going to get around," says chief strategist at Bank Danish Anders Nellemose to TV2.dk.

He points out that it is a combination of scarce resources in energy and an expectation that politicians will pay higher taxes on both energy and food - especially the unhealthy foods. It is therefore crucial parts of the Danish 'lives that are affected by higher prices.

At Nordea senior analyst Troels Theill Eriksen points out that higher costs are already being felt in the Danish private economy.

"An ordinary family who have oil furnaces and car gets extra cost of 2,000 dollars already this year. Last year came the extra cost of 1,000 dollars," says Troels Theill Eriksen and also identifies scarce energy resources and higher taxes as the reason.

"We agree that electricity, heating homes and especially unhealthy foods will be more expensive in five years," he says, therefore, recommend the Danes to start putting a strategy.

The trend is not going to get around

Not sure what that means. Does it mean the trend of higher fuel & food prices cannot be averted?

He points out that it is a combination of scarce resources in energy and an expectation that politicians will pay higher taxes on both energy and food...

Also not sure what they mean there either. Does it mean politicians will need to raise taxes on energy & food?

In the U.S., I would be shocked if Peak Oil was mentioned on any of the Sunday morning political gab shows.

In the US, I am amazed that people waste their sunday mornings watching those political gab shows - didn't they get enough of it during the week?

Sadly, vapidity is the only thing in some people's lives. Failure to recognize that apathy toward politics is the same as apathy toward one's own life, but some people really don't care at all and might as well be robots, or dead already.

In this area The McLaughlin Group is rebroadcast on Sunday mornings.

Pat Buchanan said that the President has little or no control over gasoline prices because a number of oil producing countries have flat to declining production, while demand from other countries such as India and China is rising.

That's the best paraphrase I can do in my state of shock. The web site doesn't have the 5/27 transcript up yet.

Wow...I sit corrected!

I might have to eat my straw hat!

What did the other talking heads on the show say to Pat?

Did Mr. Buchanan offer any further predictions, or any courses of action?

It was part of a discussion about high gas prices and whether the issuance of more drilling permits by the Obama administration would help reduce prices. IIRC the general consensus was that the permits specifically and more drilling in the US generally would have minimal practical effect, but that the administration would need to approve more drilling for its political effect.

I can't recall any specific recommendations from Buchanan.

I always found Pat interesting. He calls things the way he sees them, and doesn't pull his punches -or follow the party line. He was always against Bush's most excellent Iraq adventure. So on a few issues of import, he can go strongly against his parties line.

For anyone who likes data and maps, check out ACIS - Applied Climate Information System. A combined effort between NOAA and state climatological offices, divided up into six regional centers, but accessible by state.

Shows temperature, rainfall, drought and crop data e.g last freeze date and growing degree days.

Edit : and now for the weather....*more* rain and strong thunderstorms expected today...

I imagine the House Republicans are trying to defund this as we speak.

SpaceX delivers launches cheaper than China. Solaren will launch a solar power satellite by 2016. Flibe Energy will produce energy cheaper the coal and sustainable.

You work on balls. We will work on other things.

There are 200 military bases in the US that want to have local independent power supplies. The leading candidate is nuclear. The NRC does not regulate military nuclear. The military regulates itself.

They call it "base islanding".

Solaren is on schedule to deliver 200MW to PG&E in 2016 from space based solar power satellite.

Solaren, like other proposed space based power systems, is a joke. They have nothing to show since their 2009 announcement, which is understandable, since their concept is highly flawed. One needs to visit the patent files to find out what they had in mind, since their web site gives no tech info at all. The guy that proposed the Solaren concept wanted to use concentrators to increase the illumination of the PV cells, which would imply that some sort of cooling would be required for the cells. The PV concentrator cells might be as much as 40% efficient, which means that 60% of the solar energy must be dumped as thermal energy. Then too, the electronics used for converting the DC to microwave radio energy aren't going to be 100% efficient either, which also results in the need to dump still more waste heat.

Funny thing, the mass of the radiators becomes the largest component of the system and the result is a much heavier satellite, which in turn, means that the launch costs of the system become very large. Don't forget that the satellite is at geostationary altitude, which requires a substantial increment of boost energy beyond that for LEO where the ISS is located, thus any extra mass moved to that altitude becomes very expensive.

That's just the beginning of the design problem for the satellite, there are others, like the energy needed to constantly counteract the force of sunlight upon the large concentrating mirrors. That can only be done thru the use occasional firing of rockets to adjust the orbit, which requires fuel that must also be hoisted all the way to GEO. Lastly, how are these things to be repaired? We don't put people out at GEO, so it's either robots or scrap them when they break, which satellites have a habit of doing, especially with the occasional blast of solar particles during flairs.

Best to forget it and come back down to Earth...

E. Swanson

These things have been beyond laughable. The whole idea was that solar cells are so darned expensive that putting them into orbit in order to get 5x greater output is a good tradeoff. But cells are becoming cheap, so spending big bucks to put them into orbit is a mugs game.

Perhaps more preposterous was the idea of space-based epitaxy, to take advantage of the deep vacuum of outer space to grow more perfect crystals. I was tempted to get involved in this research but fortunately stayed way from it. Out-gassing of the vehicles themselves killed the effect.

The ISS's main wings produce 262kW, that step up of power is huge. I cannot see it being achievable in that time scale. I don't even think there is the capacity to produce that much of the specialized panels out there.


Thorium based molten salt reactor can provide all US energy, 3TW, costing about 3 trillion dollars to build. This is the lowest know cost for sustainable energy for the US. Well within the 16 trillion spent on transaction guarantees for banks. PV at 8 dollars a watt installed would be 24 trillion and the over night storage system would be ? let's say 12 trillion so a total of 36 trillion well beyond the banks 16 trillion dollars. What system do you favor and how much does it cost?

Thorium based molten salt reactor can provide all US energy, 3TW, costing about 3 trillion dollars to build. This is the lowest known cost for sustainable energy for the US.

Edpell, There is not yet a single functioning commercial thorium reactor in existence, so how can the cost possibly be "known". And until the concept is proven, by operating one, how do you know that it "can" provide all US energy? it is in the same category as fusion - "it could, if we could make it work"

if you have got some hard facts on thorium, not just a wish, then let's see them.

This is the second time in the space of a week that you have made this baseless statement - you are sounding like a shill for the Thorium folks, and if you are, you are doing an awful job at it - every time you make a statement like this the credibility of both you, and the concept, goes south.

See numerous reports written by Oak Ridge Labs on the thorium reactor they ran for 6 years.

Since there is no proof of any source yet this is as valid a proposed solution as the other non-provens like off-shore wind. But you are right we should be building prototypes of all possible solutions. But instead we are building nothing. The Chinese happily are building so the species will have a solution at least.

That is why I said "commercial" reactor. All sorts of things can and do change when things go to commercial scale.

Don;t get me wrong, I think the concept for the thorium reactor is great - it promises to resolve a number of issues that exist with existing LWR reactors. But then, so did the CANDU type heavy water reactors, and they, as a commercial enterprise, have not been a roaring success (not a failure, either, just not successful enough to have the design adopted elsewhere).

Look at the progress of solar thermal, or any of the cellulosic or algae biofuels - they have promised much, and delivered little to date, and all the projections have proven wrong.

There needs to be a real world reactor up and running before you any realistic plans can be made for adopting it. Presently (for reasons I don't understand) no government or energy company is touching the concept, so there must be a catch somewhere. Maybe you could find what that catch is, and then we have something worth talking about.

Paul. I am connected to a big solar program which has both PV and thermal The managers are strongly prejudiced toward PV because that's where they came from. But when they do the numbers, they have to admit that thermal looks cheaper/delivered watt. One big reason is that thermal can run all the time, either with heat storage or combustion. This has a huge effect on cost/dw.

There is nothing much of a puzzle about cost of solar thermal. It's all very simple hardware. People know what it costs. So when these guys say they have to try it, they have good solid reasons.

and another thing. Where I live there isn't a lot of sun, but there is a lot of biomass. Thermal machines can burn biomass just fine. PV cannot.

But, if we lived in a sane world, we would indeed be giving serious effort to test and evaluate ALL the possibilities. But no, we would rather put our effort into trivia- expensive trivia.

Does the heat storage allow 24 hr capability or does it extend the generation for a few hours into the night?



The one thing that concerns me is where you say it "looks cheaper on paper". There isn't a great deal of experience with solar thermal - it is not yet a commodity product like PV, so the risks for cost overruns are higher.

That said, agreed about the ability to use other fuel at night for a thermal system, that can improve the payback significantly. I think that is much better than trying to store sunlight energy. Given all the generation connected to the grid, we are a long way away from ever needing to store solar for night time energy. At this point,the focus needs to be on doing what it takes to make the plants competitive, so that they will actually get built. Thermal storage makes the economics worse, co firing with NG/biomass makes them better, and that is the way to go for now.

PV does have some advantages of it's own, but when you are talking utility scale installations, I'm sure co-fired solar thermal will be the better way to go, when the system is off the shelf rather than being custom built.

Fair enough read projected cost. As all proposed solutions are projected costs until they are built out and provide base load not just peak shaving. None to date. Except hydro but that is near saturated.

Recent largescale PV is coming in closer to $3/watt. Although the storage issue remains. As long as you don't do PV by simply throwing bucks at any supplier, rather than forcing competition to keep driving efficiency, the price will fal as the buildout progresses.

Which kind of PV is reaching this $3/watt installed? i.e. single crystal, poly crystal, thin film, organic, etc... Where are these being installed?

I like synthetic fuels as storage. I do not have any feel for the fraction of energy lost in conversion and re-conversion. Though not all needs to be re-converted to electric. I also like pumped hydro and likewise I do not know what it lost in the process.

The cheapest is FirstSolar, which is thin film. Production cost about $.75, but they can sell them for double that. That is thin film, Figure balance of system doubles the cost, so you get in the $3 range. Admittedly some contracts for utility scale are still being awarded at ridiculously uncompetitive rates, Nevada gave go-ahead (an power purchase agreements for a solar thermal plant (with storage at least) at around $8/watt. They'd be better off scrapping it, and buying the cheapest PV solution they can find. But bureucratic inertia is what it is....

At curent penetration levels, storage isn't a big deal (i.e. you don't need it), but it will become important in the future.

I am glad we are going to have an example plant with storage. I agree as an economic investment it is a bad deal. But as a prototype for society to learn from it is worthwhile.


In neighbouring Yemen, replenishable aquifers are being pumped well beyond the rate of recharge, and the deeper fossil aquifers are also being rapidly depleted. Water tables are falling throughout Yemen by about two metres per year. In the capital, Sana'a – home to 2 million people – tap water is available only once every four days. In Taiz, a smaller city to the south, it is once every 20 days.

I am no stranger to water depletion issues but this article paints a very dryp picture of the Middle East. A whole lot of countries down there is hoplessly above limits on water consumption. This article is pure doomer-porn. Sobering and worrysome.

I went to the CIA Factbook to find out about Yemen boy are they in deep trouble.

unemployement (2003) 35%
poverty (2003) 45%
GDP per capita (PPP) (2010) $2600

As near as I can tell oil/gas income 16 billion per year. In other words not much. Population 24 million. How much sea water can you desalinate for say 8 billion dollars? It is die-off time in Yemen.

Median age 18! That is the lowest I have ever seen. Arable land 3%. Irrigated land 5,500 sq km. Fertility 4.6!

Yemen is just the show case in the region. The other nations are comming after. Syria imports 90% of their food, KSA nerly all, according to the article. When (not if) the world export market for grain collapses, they will all be Yemen.

"When (not if) the world export market for grain collapses, they will all be Yemen."

No, too broad.
KSA will not be Yemen, and neither will Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain or Iran.
But Syria, Lebanon and Oman certainly might.

This is why I always doubted the prohecies of doom when it comes to supposed surging power of OPEC.
You need Oil for a modern civilisation, but you need water just to survive more than 2-3 days.
The Arab world is hopelessly dependent on food imports and with an increasingly hungry China, it's not clear that China will outbid that much. The U.S. has this ace in the hole, the wheat exports. The U.S. also has good water security in it's fundamentals, but it manages it's water hopelessly wrong. The Southwest is the only strained area in this regard.

Europe has brilliant water supply and is also exporting food. And then you have all the fish in the North Sea, too.

For me, I would look towards resource-rich Russia as the surging power over the next decade out of the major oil producers, not KSA.

India's pretty toast, though. They are in die-off mode very shortly. They have neither the resources nor the wealth(or the army) as China have. They are late into Africa and into everything else. And they have unsustainable birth rates, China took rational action far ago, India's probably more screwed than any other major world power today, even Japan.

On India you say "die-off mode very shortly". I would say die-off is something that grows over time. Some percentage of the Indian population is already in die-off mode. Many stories about the high suicide rates among poor Indian framers. I would like to have available the statistic what percentage of people in country x that live to age 10 are dead by age 30. The stat of average life expectancy is useful if you want to see if there are high infant death rates (hence low A.L.E.) but tell little about after age five.

From wikipedia: "India has more arable land area than any country except the United States,[6] and more water area than any country except Canada and the United States."

An expected normal monsoon this year may lead to a bumper crop.

Please think through before posting.

What's the per capita water for each citizen visavis Canada and India?
Same with America and India.

And add to this a horrible infrastructure and a dysfunctional political system(far worse than even in America).

Please do research before posting.

The average per capita water USAGE in India is about a quarter of that of the US.
And 60% of the population is rural versus only 20% in the US.

This past night I spent some time thinking about this and I concluded this; Nations who have enough food and oil to export some will trade with each others. The rest will be out of the market. What do you think about that?

Yes and no. Only counties with stuff worth trading for will be in the market. Energy and food will be more important. But I think countries like Japan with neither energy nor food to sell will still be in the international market with high value added technology products.

A whole lot of countries down there is hoplessly above limits on water consumption.

By above limits on water, I presume you mean they are pumping water faster than it can replenish causing water tables to drop. That is a disasterous path not only for those countries listed, but also India and China are doing the same thing. I suppose how deep the aquifers can be dug and still get enough water will be the break point for these countries.

Far beyond just concern about grains, domestically produced vs. imported, when the water stops flowing sufficiently to quench all those people's thirst, it will become a Mad Max world for water - forget oil. They'll just be trying to stay alive or find a neighboring country to flee into. When things begin to rock over there it will be hard to hear about or watch. Yet, humankind must learn there are population limits and so far that concern has fallen on deaf ears.

One can listen to the whispers and make changes, but if the whispers are ignored they turn into yells, then shouts and if all that is ignored they will become screams.

"so far the concern has fallen on deaf ears" I would say more like the die-off will not be televised. It will not make for good ratings and it will unset the sponsors. The dying will be hidden and silent as far as the masses go. Yes we here on TOD will follow it with morbid fascination and disgust that policy makers are not responding. But until voters/workers/tax payers down the road are dying I expect it will not be an issue in the trilateral countries. And China is scared speechless about the subject and refuses to let people in China even read "The Limits to Growth". Anybody know if one can read TOD from China? Anybody know if one can buy a copy of LTG in Chinese in China?

It will not be mad max it will be the local rich behind barbed wire with security with guns and the dying outside without guns. It will be contained with individual nation states. Unless the neighbor is a hungry/thirsty state also. But then why would anyone want to cross that border. Some of the rich will leave and move to Manhattan or London or wherever. Stalin's killing, Mao's killing, Pol Pots' killing nobody outside the nation want to be involved in any way. It will be the same. Much pretending it is not happening. At some point some entertainers may do a benefit concert.

It will not be mad max it will be the local rich behind barbed wire with security with guns and the dying outside without guns.

That will depend on whether there is a viable currency. Once the buck, the yen the whatever tank then being rich will be a relative term. Rich in what?

The great firewall varies from day to day. Early in May TOD came in consistently. Facebook was blocked.

Right now there are no place that has totaly depleted their geologic water sources. But for example Yemen is on the way and many places in India. When the first place hits absolute zero we will have problems. Big ones. I would be interested in statistics for when different places are supposed to get there.

This problem will make PO seem like peanuts in the affected areas.

The leading cause of death in China is cancer. In the US it is heart disease. It looks like the Chinese may have a pollution issue.


'Saudi Prince Seeks to Discourage Western 'Alternatives' to High Priced Oil'

"We don't want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives," Talal said.

Talk about self involved, and right to our faces. Don't do anything that could move your western countries towards cleaner energy sources or greater energy independence, no just remain dependent on us for what we hope will be a price point that keeps you supporting our country by exporting your money in truckloads.

Could American car companies and car consumers be changing their ways?


Within 6 months cue the price of oil to tumble so that U.S. average gasoline prices are ~ 3/gallon...