Drumbeat: June 11, 2011

Vietnam plans live-fire drill after China dispute

HANOI, Vietnam - A squabble over territory in the South China Sea escalated Friday when Vietnam announced a live ammunition drill in an apparent response to China's demand that the Vietnamese halt all oil exploration in the area.

The heated verbal clash between the two communist neighbors comes amid a similar spat between China and Philippines earlier in the week over another disputed area of the South China Sea, where several countries are eyeing potentially rich oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam welcomes international help as sea dispute escalates

(Reuters) - Vietnam said on Saturday live-fire naval drills scheduled for Monday were "routine" and said it would welcome efforts by the international community, including the United States, to help resolve disputes in the South China Sea.

Tensions in the region have risen in the past two weeks, with China and Vietnam trading accusations of violating sovereignty in the Sea, home to important shipping lanes and potentially large oil and has reserves.

Iran says Saudi crude increase will not change market

(Reuters) - An increase in crude output by Saudi Arabia will not change market conditions as demand is for lighter oil than it provides, Iran's OPEC governor was on Saturday quoted as saying, reiterating Tehran's stance that there is no need to boost production.

Libyan assets in Africa far-reaching, little known

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Fancy hotels that dominate the skylines of several African capitals, farms, banks, gas stations, telephone companies and an international airline - the financial tentacles of Moammar Gadhafi's regime are far-reaching and little known across the continent.

Conflict in Libya: U.S. oil companies sit on sidelines as Gaddafi maintains hold

It struck some visitors to the Houston office of ConocoPhillips chief executive Jim Mulva as peculiar that he displayed a photograph of himself and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.

Fighting erupts in Zlitan, Turkey offers Gaddafi exit

(Reuters) - Heavy fighting between pro-Gaddafi troops and rebels broke out in a Libyan city just 160 kilometres east of Tripoli, potentially opening the coastal road to the capital, just as cracks appeared among NATO allies.

Egypt to Israel gas pipeline re-opened

TEL AVIV, Israel (UPI) -- A natural gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel has reopened after more than a month of a sabotage-related shutdown, a Merhav company official said.

"The commercial supply of gas began today after two days of testing," said spokesman Zeev Feiner, CNN reported Saturday.

Russia declines to set end date for China gas deal

BEIJING: China and Russia are still negotiating a massive natural gas supply pact and it would be inappropriate to set a date for the companies involved to conclude the deal, Russia's ambassador to China said.

Bulgarian Socialists Turn Green over Shale Gas

MPs from the main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party have demanded that the government impose a moratorium on all shale gas drilling in Bulgaria over concerns about its hazardous environmental effects.

Special Report: After Japan, where's the next nuclear weak link?

(Reuters) - Imagine a country where corruption is rampant, infrastructure is very poor, or the quality of security is in question. Now what if that country built a nuclear power plant?

It may sound alarming but that is what could happen in many developing countries which are either building nuclear power plants or considering doing so - a prospect that raises serious questions after Japan's experience handling a nuclear crisis.

Report Blasts Management Style of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman

WASHINGTON — Gregory B. Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the subject of a harsh new investigative report from his own agency, finds himself in the cross-fire of a 30-year political battle over disposal of radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants and weapons program.

Ariz. wildfire likely to spread to N.M.; threat to major power lines

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. — A massive wildfire in eastern Arizona that has claimed about 30 homes and forced 10,000 people to evacuate is likely to spread into New Mexico soon, threatening more towns and possibly endangering two major power lines that bring electricity from Arizona to Texas.

Debunking the Stereotypes of Peak Oil and Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery

For all its importance and universal usage, oil will not be with us forever. The hype and curiousity surrounding oil will one diminish when renewable energy become the norm. Experience has taught us that a single source of energy is inadequate to meet the varying energy demands of mankind. One important factor which will move us closer to the universal use renewable energy is technique at the cutting edge of technology.

Peak Oil may not be wished away and MEOR is exciting news.

'US stock markets rigged by bank elite'

Press TV: Well, that makes sense. Going forward how critical will rare earths be in the global economy? Will it challenge oil in some way? - Because as you know we've hit peak oil and oil as a component of the global economy will have to subside or diminish in some way. Are rare earths a next major component of the global economy in the century going forward?

John Kim: I'm convinced that it is right now. I know at various points in time rare earths becomes a hot asset to get into but I also know there's been a huge amount of speculation in rare earths too that makes the price so volatile. I'm not sure at this point that it will become as important as oil and other energy commodities in the future but it's something certainly to keep an eye on.

Financial inclusion, Bimal Jalan style

Crude oil prices are also unlikely to come down; we have probably already reached 'peak oil' or are near it. Several steps need to be taken; India has just recently mandated fuel efficiency norms for cars, something that was done decades ago in the US and which this column has been long advocating as a sensible step. India also needs to immediately place a ban on gas guzzlers and SUVs which do not meet efficiency norms. At the least, a punitive duty should be put on them. Efficient public transport systems must be built without delay or controversy.

Debbie Harry: Still bold, still blonde

For example, she is reading a heavyweight economic tome on the "hydrogen economy" that deals with economic thinking post-peak oil. Harry talks new millennium geopolitics with punk rock attitude and it's the first time I've heard anyone start swearing on the subject of solar power.

"You know this could solve the problem of the Middle East if a country like Greece forgot oil and harnessed all their sunshine for energy, so what's the f****** hold-up?" she fumes.

Small U.S. Farms Find Profit in Tourism

SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — For all the talk about sustainable agriculture, most small farms are not self-sustaining in a very basic sense: they can’t make ends meet financially without relying on income from jobs off the farm.

World Food Supply: What’s To Be Done?

The overall conclusion of the Beddington report is that, to meet rising demand, the world has no choice but to move to a more intensive agriculture, especially in regions where productivity is low today — but that it needs to do so with maximum concern for the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of that intensified production.

A blend of natural climate swings and global warming appears to be driving a long-term decline in snowpack along the Rocky Mountains rarely seen in the past 800 years.

...If this shift holds, the study's team adds, it could represent a change that would accelerate the loss of the West's natural freshwater reservoirs – if long-term average temperatures continue to rise with increasing levels of industrial greenhouse gases, as most climate scientists are convinced they will.

UAE- Green trading arrives in the Middle East

(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) London-based carbon trading organisation Advanced Global Trading, or AGT, has launched its operations in Dubai that will facilitate trading of the world's fastest-growing commodity in the Middle East region.

Poor countries say rich evade new climate pledges

Developing countries have accused rich nations of refusing to negotiate an extension of their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Jorge Arguello, head of a 131-nation group of developing countries, says industrial countries are blocking discussion on renewing emission reductions pledges under the Kyoto Protocol after they expire in 2012.

Fewer French Fried: The Paradox Of Urban (And Global) Warming

In 2006, their model showed nearly 4,500 fewer deaths than expected.

What the French did was (begrudgingly) emulate urban Americans. They adapted. The government bought air conditioning (formerly a crass Yankee invention) for retirement homes. They implemented a National Heat Wave Plan that keeps tabs on the elderly, who were left to swelter in 2003. They set up cooling shelters for those without A/C.

...Want proof of our adaptation to heat? Two extremely hot cities, Tampa and Phoenix, have virtually no heat-related mortality, despite sporting the oldest populations in our study. In only one city is mortality increasing. That would be young and vibrant Seattle, where summer heat is still very rare.

Peak? What Peak? Greenhouse emissions keep increasing

Back in the early 2000s, when I was starting to study peak oil, I used to think that oil depletion was our main problem. Climate change seemed to me a threat for the remote future and, probably, automatically solved by the depletion of fossil fuels. Over the years, however, I saw more and more data accumulating that show that it is not so. I am now convinced that climate change is a much more serious threat to humankind than peak oil.

Debbie Harry on Solar? Holy smokes, next thing you know a rock star and his woman will lay in a bed for days to stop war, or some actor will ensure all the wells needed are drilled in Africa, Haiti will be fixed, all the stray dogs get homes, and orphans go straight to mansions.

We had a family friend who spent his entire working life as a Lutheran missionary in PNG. Only this ipod toting text culture can make a mockery of efforts such as these. News by supermarket tabloids. What a culture.

Me, I'm waiting for Oprah to get a president elected. Oooops.

Cat Stevens, where are you?

Cheers...now to mix concrete...the foundation of life, itself.

"You know this could solve the problem of the Middle East if a country like Greece forgot oil and harnessed all their sunshine for energy, so what's the f****** hold-up?" she fumes.

The point is, this is the kind of geopolitical tract Harry wants to discuss of an evening with her putative man. But being blonde gets in the way. "

Perhaps she could dye her hair green, take a physics course or two and eschew ignorant men.

Hint, Greece isn't in the ME, just sayin...

Don't think she's saying it's in the ME. She's talking about the problems of the Middle East that are related to dependence on oil.

It could be a good thing to get celebrities in on the peak oil action. They may be a little off on their message, but it may initiate a response in otherwise apathetic persons. I've emailed a few: the members of radiohead, Morgan Freeman, and some others..

Pardon me, who is Debbie Harry? Should I know?

My disconnect with popular culture has gotten to the point where I only hear about the antics of celebrities when someone complains about them on far nerdier media.

Depends on how old you are. You probably weren't around when she was in her hay day.

She did a song about global warming a while ago, called "The Tide is High".

Well played.

When you look like that, you don't have to make a lot of sense.


Who is Debbie Harry...?

I guess you weren't around in the late 1970s.

Led Zeppelin or Rush it wasn't..., but she certainly looked a lot better.

My vote for best Blondie video: "Dreaming", with the great Clem Burke on drums, featured prominently.

AGT .... will facilitate trading of the world's fastest-growing commodity

While I could tear the idea apart by pointing out how Carbon Trading is ony 30% effective or how the vampire class of Investment Bankers are willing to pay off others to the tune of $3 million to stop messing with their vampirism I instead will go to the word.


noun /kəˈmäditē/ 
commodities, plural
A raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee

Normally part of such a process is to restrict access to the commodity, yet with every breath I take, every move I make - I can get CO2 from the air about me. Exactly how is CO2 a "commodity"?

(And if they don't get paid - then do they just keep the CO2 from the non payers?)

re: "Peak, What Peak?" above.

I, for one, am very glad to see Ugo Bardi writing on the topic of rising emissions in a peak oil scenario.

While I have never liked the apparent competitiveness over whose issue is the bigger threat, Climate Change or Peak Oil, there has been a view amongst many in the Peak Oil community that Climate Change is somewhere out in the distant future, and so, therefore, is not worthy of immediate attention.

I think the facts are amply demonstrating that this is not the case. Sadly, though, the fossil fuel lobby has fought a pretty successful delay campaign, the last several years, ensuring that we have done nothing to reduce emissions.

It is time lost that we are sure to regret.

The anti global warming President Obama has pitched AGW issues over the side by approving massive extraction of coal while buying into the meme that gas prices are the problem. There is now serious talk about releasing significant amounts of oil from the SPR. He also bought into the meme that the deficit is the main problem. Every Republican wrong headed idea gets his attention and acquiescence in the quite possibly hopeless pursuit of reelection. Those of us in the cheap seats are supposed to believe that if he can just get reelected, then he will actually do the things he needs to do. But that is what we thought would happen when he got elected and got a Democratic majority. Boxer held hearings on AGW to great fanfare and then legislation was tossed into the trash heap like everything else.

What is it about Hansen's warnings that Obama and our other politicos don't get? It's all about jobs, jobs,jobs. Obama's shining moment is the salvation of the so called U.S. auto industry. Ironic that. But I guess we are all supposed to be saved by $40,000 Volts.

Peak oil represents the end or at least significant decline in what we like to call civilization. AGW represents the end of nature as McKibben pointed out decades ago.

Clearly, the national conversation (I hate that word) needs to be changed but the conversation will continue to be about irrelevancies.

"It's all about jobs, jobs, jobs."

Yes. Without jobs and the taxes that come with them, there is no money for anything. And they have just figured out that there really is a limit to how much even a nation can borrow. Hence, panic.

Hansen has gotten so histrionic that no one listens to him anymore. And he is notably short of solutions. The people who do have solutions all seem to get to a part about "vast public spending required" eventually, which brings us back to the first point.

BAU will bounce down a rocky slope until it evolves into a lower level of complexity, and at the same time the energy basis of the economy will transition to something less oil intensive. Since we don't know what Business As It Will Be actually looks like, it's really hard to plan for it.

Since we don't know what Business As It Will Be actually looks like, it's really hard to plan for it.

When a ship is designed and launched rarely is there a model of how it will look on the bottom of the sea after it has failed to navigate through an unforeseen storm.

However, it really isn't all that hard to plan on putting a sufficient number of seaworthy lifeboats on board before setting sail... The survivors might then be able to design a better ship.

There's a reason we no longer build ships like the Titanic.

"Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget
We only get what we give"


"This whole damn world can fall apart
It'll be ok, follow your heart"


New Radicals

I agree with that FM......but we have to get the populace sufficiently scared to understand the destructiveness of optimism.

For optimists it's natural for them to be upbeat about the future, they wait and expect a scientific breakthrough or maybe a miracle rescue. They are also willing to work on and believe in solutions like geo-engineering, electric vehicles, railways and windmills. They think if they buy a Prius or Volt the world will be saved...........(great in times of plenty, unlimited resources and zero population pressures)

In the meantime it's business as usual and at the same time the point of no return is looming ever closer, a place where there is not enough resources to go on and the bridge behind us has been destroyed. There appears to be no demonstrated consideration for future generations, fauna, flora or even the biosphere.

I think optimism is the default human trait, it's what powered the so far indestructible world conquering human species. I think that same trait left to run it's course, will also see the demise of the species. Realistically there is a place for both optimism and pessimism, right now optimism is misplaced.

Until we understand the urgency and hopelessness of the situation nothing positive will be achieved. Only when the dire circumstance is accepted will hard actions be undertaken.
Presently the vast majority cannot understand that innovation and efficiency has not led to one ounce of fossil fuel being left unburnt and probably the exact opposite, that we blindly promote BAU and continue on the road to certain extinction.

Personally I think it's all over. (my optimism is to be proven wrong) The last best chance was prior to the last world population doubling. Draconian measures then would not have been devastating. Now, building a fence around fossil fuels would cause unspeakable suffering (although its the only way).

So we really are stuck, trapped on our spaceship (Earth) and beyond the point of no return.

Yep. If we had started letting our foot off the gas and applying the break, and made sure all the passengers had safety belts on, when the cliff was still far away, we may have avoided really bad outcomes. But doing anything other that pedal to the metal growth has been the deafening mantra.

Now we have a choice of continuing with pedal to the metal and heading right over the cliff (which seems pretty much what we are doing given last years rate of growth of CO2 emissions), or of slamming on the breaks in the off chance that we can still avoid going over the edge, even though many of the passengers will go through the windshield.

Oh, and we have not only humans, but all of life on board.

There will probably be a few survivors who leapt out before the decent and a few more who lived through the crash.

So it is a good thing that "optimism is the default human trait", otherwise these survivors might just give up all hope. I'm personally optimistic about the future civilization that will eventually grow from the ruins we leave.

The problem is that optimism can be as much a hindrance to effective action as pessimism, the difference being that the pessimist generally has a better handle on where things are heading than the optimist.

Another way of looking at things is, paraphrasing one of the handy quotes that pop up at the upper right hand of the screen, we tend to alternate between complacency and panic. Both optimism and pessimism can lead to various forms of complacency, but as long as one is firm in ones optimism, panic is not likely.

But we now need something much closer to panic than to complacency.

How do you know that nobody listens to Hansen anymore? Is their an app for that? Or are you just projecting. Would he be more effective if he were less histrionic? Who is listening to those people who are not histrionic? And who are they? At a certain point, people like Hansen take action and get arrested and then they get some attention. And does it do any good? Probably not, but one has to take action.

As far as jobs, there will be no jobs as the parties are gridlocked. We will not get jobs by simply wishing them to be so, which is what we are doing now. The right thinks we will have plenty of jobs if we continue to layoff government workers and cut taxes. Last month, half of the new jobs were at McDonalds. Those people will not be making enough to provide taxes.

There are no people who have solutions because there are no people who have the power to make those solutions occur.

There is money for lots of things, such as the trillions of dollars we spend on wars. I am so tired of people saying we don't have the money. Quit the empire and then tell me we have no money.

Actually, we have not reached the limit to what we can borrow.

I have money. You have money. The problem is how we spend it.

Indeed, methinks a 'histrionic' response to the realization that the Earth's climate is in the process of radically destabilizing is probably appropriate.

The sad question is how an entire technologically-advanced nation can NOT be histrionic in the face of such overwhelming evidence for impending doom.

And the gentleman above wants solutions? There is one. Collapse fossil fuel usage (voluntarily or involuntarily) starting NOW.

(See Hansen's new papers for details)

Our options have narrowed to one.

That'd make me pretty darn histrionic too.

"Collapse fossil fuel usage (voluntarily or involuntarily) starting NOW."

How, pray tell? And remember you have to survive the next election, because if you don't your successor will undo everything you just did.

Unless the involuntary part means you are going to be dictator and shoot the dissidents. But you might want to look at the Cultural Revolution and Pol Pot's little exercise in re-educaton to see if their original goals were met, and if the results were worth the consequences.

Replacing "collapse" with "gradually wind down" will get you further, but then you have to drop the histrionics.

He didn't say it was feasible, just that we need to cut fossil fuel usage. Does every recommendation have to be accompanied by political feasibility? If political feasibility were the test for ideas here, the site would need to just shut down.

At the same, in the 1800s, I am sure that those calling for the end of slavery were considered naive and a nuisance.

A lot of things we do are involuntary in the sense that there are negative consequences if we refuse to do those things. Like paying taxes or obeying the speed limits, for example. Why is is necessary to revert to the extreme straw men like Pol Pot when people suggest certain things need to be done even if involuntary.

Collapse might not have been the best choice of words but doesn't have to evoke visions of bloody murderer dictatorships. "Gradually wind down" includes things like using CFLs but the tea party thinks that is a violation of their fundamental rights under the constitution. Maximum freedom. No planet. No problem.

"Does every recommendation have to be accompanied by political feasibility?"

If you are brainstorming, no. If you past that stage and looking at implementation, yes.

And the slavery question was settled with 600,000 dead, followed by most of another century of the KKK, Jim Crow, and segregation. I would hope you could find a better example of a forced economic shift to make your point.

Incandescent lights are becoming illegal, which addresses your one point, and the Teaparty is loud but ineffective, so I don't worry much about them. They are not nearly so organized as the media would have you think. The libertarians are incompatible with the religious fundamentalists. They both happened to be peeved about the same banker bailouts. The fundamentalists are already the Republican's so they were fairly easy to assimilate back into the party. The Democrats will get the libertarians back if they dump the all-power superstate the Party thinks is such a good idea at the moment.

Nothing that would have sufficient impact can be done. And this will not change. And we don't have enough time. There is nothing you can propose which will make a sufficient difference, so just quit proposing anything and wasting your time. Proposals are made in the hopes that a miracle will occur or perhaps and probably, we are just hear passing time. Probably the latter. Actually, abolishing slavery was easier than what is required visa a vis energy and global warming. So we will get death anyway and it will be too late for change to help the planet or whoever is living by that point.

My other point is that Obama is so clever at closely calculating every action politically that he is a machine to get elected and maybe reelected and nothing more. There don't seem to be any core values other than to be in power. But perhaps he thinks he can get something done next term. That's always the calculation and we get nowhere.

There is a good reason not to worry too much about political feasibility. What is and is not feasible can change quite quickly.

It was politically infeasible that the US would elect a black man in our lifetime, until an unpopular president, a tanked economy and an ineffective opponent changed that.

It would have been wildly infeasible to make any plans based on an assumption that the Soviet empire would suddenly collapse, until it did.

Same with South Africa.

Same with Egypt.


The only thing that is certain is that what is politically feasible will change suddenly and radically.

That is why there is no such thing as 'political reality'; we make our own political reality.

But there is climactic reality, and once we go past tipping point, we cannot unbreak that egg.

Nothing that would have sufficient impact can be done.


And this will not change.

Maybe, but certainly won't if you're standingaround saying, "Nope! Can't be done!" instead of, "Let's go plant an edible forest garden!"

"And we don't have enough time."

Jury is out. All depends on the methane. Energetically, if we understand and accept that the current economic models, current social structures and current political structures are Dead Men Walking, we can change things in a fairly short period of time (a few decades, perhaps).

Teaparty is loud but ineffective, so I don't worry much about them.

2010, they got in cause it was easy to convince low information voters that "things aren't going so well, so try something completely different". I'm not at all convinced it won't work again, block any attempts to fix the economy, then claim the double dip is all the fault of the (supposedly) ruling party. It could very easily work.

"2010, they got in cause it was easy to convince low information voters that "things aren't going so well, so try something completely different". I'm not at all convinced it won't work again, block any attempts to fix the economy, then claim the double dip is all the fault of the (supposedly) ruling party. It could very easily work."

So do any of you think things WERE going pretty well in 2010?

How would one fix this economy. Which "fix" would be blocked?

In my view the double dip is going to be the fait accompli from the beginning of this recession in 07-08 it may even be the completion of the last three recessions dating back to 1991. This recession is the cause of a government endorsed bubble economy and Obama should not have followed Bush's lead by trying to re-inflate this bubble, because there's too many holes in the bubble now. We need this recession to run it's course and yes that means that the party that can demonize the other side the best wins the blame game and eventually wins the next election. That does not mean either side has the guts or the capability to fix the problem.

Why does the recession need to run its course? We have the lowest housing prices in almost a decade. Isn't that sufficient? After the recession has run its course, what then? We will still have the same basic economy that needs less and less people and uses more and more machines, computers, and outsourcing to produce the same or more amount of goods. The stimulus is not working because it was not big enough in the first place given the size of the economy. But beyond that, I don't think we can expect a recovery that will result from the natural ebb and flow of the market. Business persons are simply not interested in hiring regardless of what happens to their business. They even brag about the fact that although their business is recovering, they don't have to reach the workforce level they had before the recession.

The corporations that rule America are U.S. corporations in perception and name only. They don't see their future as necessarily dependent upon the employment and income of the American worker. They are interational corporations with foreign stockholders and desire to become less dependent upon what they consider to be a dying economy.

Something will have to be built from the ruins of this mess, but I am not sure what it will look like. I think it is clear that America is done as an economic superpower and most people will simply have to fend for themselves.

There has been some discussion about what kind of economy we should or will have in the future. I think what we have defined as capitalism is no longer capable or willing to employ substantial numbers of people at middle class or better wages or salaries. At some point something has to give when you have the unbelievable income disparities we have today between the mega millionaires and billionaires and Joe six pack.

Right now, however, there is a significant group of people epitomized by the Tea Party who believe that we just have to bring everything down and there will be a magical cleansing process that results in something better and stronger. Part of this package is that the rich pay even lower taxes than they do now. Magically, after that, millions of people will be hired at fantastic wages because, once again, the free and unfettered market has gained dominance. I think we will have to have a new Dickens of the 21st century to describe the suffering and injustice that will occur as a result of this free market fantasy.

Call it what you will, but there are things that could and should be done to try to deal with the twin problems of oil/energy expense/shortages and global warming. We sort of started down that path a bit but it has been basically stalled because of the inability to do anything that requires government expenditures. Waiting for the corporations to take this on while hiring significant numbers of American workers will not happen.

"Why does the recession need to run its course? We have the lowest housing prices in almost a decade. Isn't that sufficient? After the recession has run its course, what then?"

A recession like this one that is caused by malinvestment, bubbles or manias such as this housing bubble has to be allowed to happen collapse even. That didn't happen we propped all of it up with bailouts and QE-1 and QE-2. The bottom feeders were eventually going to pounce on the houses or bulldoze them and pounce on the raw land. People with cash that did the right things couldn't afford a McMansion before were getting ready to be able to make their move, but then the government stepped in. The housing market should go as low as it takes to get buyers to buy that's how supply and demand works.

There were regional banks that had good balance sheets prepared to buy the teetering big banks and straighten them out, but with all the Tarp money the bad guys bought the goods ones.

We can't sustain the lack of we currently have productivity in this country regardless how much we steal from the rich. Eventually it will all catch up to us.

I don't think that millions will magically be hired simply by lowering taxes. People get hired is they can provide a good or a service that someone else is willing to pay or trade for. No one has a natural right to a job. This blog is supposed to be dedicated to science, what could be more scientific than the thought that you have to be productive to live? We may have a economic collapse, we may have a mass die off, because social justice is not a natural right. You have to be productive enough to live in nature, humans are not immune to that reality.

When they removed the glass panel between America and the rest of the world, all the fish fell out of the aquarium.

I'm sorry I'm obviously not fimiliar with this analogy. I don't get it. Maybe that's what is means, but I'm having fun anyway.

""And the slavery question was settled with 600,000 dead, followed by most of another century of the KKK, Jim Crow, and segregation.""

Sorry to correct an incorrect statement, but you are wrong. There are far more slaves in the World today, than have ever existed in the History of Man. Here is a link for a few tidbits to enlighten you.


I have, and continue to be, a traveler of the World. I would suggest, when one goes to another country other than the US, one tries to stop being a Tourist.

The Martian.

Good point, but also a bit too broad. The Civil War wasn't fought over slavery in the whole world, just over slavery within the borders of the then-USA. Sometimes a regional fight is regional. (And much of the modern world says it rejects slavery, but also clings dearly to absolutist notions of national sovereignty. That makes for something of a stalemate with respect to doing anything about it.)

I think the line between slavery and non-slavery has become rather fuzzy. In the ante-Bellum south, slavery was a legally protected institution. Slaveholders were full fledged upstanding citizens both legally, and socially. And the state apparatus could be used to recover runaway slaves. I doubt many modern slaves are formally registered by the state, which recognizes their status and are prepared to held their owners enforce it. So most slavery is now an illegal undrground activity which strives to remain out of sight of the authorities, and of polite society. Of course many of these authorities are corrupt and don't make any effort to root out the practice, but the status of these owners is likely not so high.

Then we have legal semi-slavery. Exploitation of prison labour. When does it cross the line? When the prisoners are there for economic or political crimes? What if the state makes an overly broad definition of crime. Such as the US war on drugs, and our bulging prison populations. And we have professional prison guard unions, and primarily rural communities, who lobby for tough sentencing quidelines to keep the gravy train rolling. Not to mention private prison corporations, such as Wackenhut. Should these people be considered as slaves? Their lives are miserable and degraded, however the vast bulk of the revenue comes from taxes, not prison labour.

What about other softer forms? Usury, with full (or not) state sanctioning? Trick people into taking out high interest loans, then force them to continue payments for year and years. What about the US for profit colleges, who operate through the student loan system? Millions of not so good prospects for higher ed are lured into taking out large loans, with the government imposing rather draconian collection means on them?

What about when an entire country incurs a terrible international debt burden, due to mismanagement. Eqypt comes to mind here. They've just gotten rid of their corrupt keptocracy, but still owe hundreds of billions to the international banking industry. And the powers that run these banks are not in a state where they can survive if they cancels these debts. Are Eqyptians now a form of international soft-slave colony now? What about the Irish?

"I think the line between slavery and non-slavery has become rather fuzzy."

I agree whole heartedly. In my defintion of slavery is one person somehow gaining from the labor of another humans toil, without having given anything of an equal at least contracted value to the person doing the labor. Especially if that person toiling is doing so against their will under the threat of violence as a consequnce of not doing so.

So in saying that every productive person that begrudgingly pays a portion of their taxable income so others can be fed, housed, and medicated could be defined as slaves. Right?

So in saying that every productive person that begrudgingly pays a portion of their taxable income so others can be fed, housed, and medicated could be defined as slaves. Right?

Nope, it just means they're stuck up, arrogant misers. Reminiscent of Dickens' Scrooge... and making a mockery of real slaves.

Didn't Scrooge give freely at the end?

If your such a fan of Dicken's then trust that the arrogant miser's will see the light and donate, then we won't need to pay the IRS to confiscate. Anything that rhymes must be true. (I think Johnny Cochran said that!)

Oh and with all the extra money the arrogant miser's have by not employing CPA's and lobbiest they can donate even more to society with no Big Government middle man to squander or misapply the funds.

He didn't say it was feasible, just that we need to cut fossil fuel usage. Does every recommendation have to be accompanied by political feasibility? If political feasibility were the test for ideas here, the site would need to just shut down.

Even more to the point, since the economy we have now cannot be the economy we have then, thus the political system we have now cannot be the political system we have then, it makes no sense at all to talk about what is "politically feasible" in terms of current politics. It is eminently obvious that one of the politically feasible things that must happen is a complete reboot of the political system, so who cares what is politically feasible under today's conditions?

Energy? Reboot.
Economy? Reboot.
Society? Reboot.

Can we get over this now so we can do some real solutioneering?

Thanks, PR, for that comment. I am happy to see an actually important line of thought being discussed here. I will add a few suggestions for starters on the energy reboot.

Recognize that solar and wind are PLENTY enough, if we put our minds and efforts to them.

Recognize that we have plenty of resources to do the job, if we just quit what we are doing now and start doing what we should be doing.

I for one would be happy to give up-- right now--, smoking, soft drinks, fancy cars, jet jags to Paris, and chasing highly decorative women.

Then go ahead and do it. There are megatons of good ideas, so far totally unexploited, to apply to this job.

I remember a relevant experience from my early youth. Right during supper, the Captain called all hands to the flight deck, and announced -

“Men, we gotta load this ship NOW, not in the week we thought we had. TONIGHT, and we gotta be outa here by O800 tomorrow. Now let’s do it.”

And we did. And everybody felt good about it.
Lesson-- With the right feeling of community, things needing doing can get done, and people can feel good about doing them.
I think the feeling good about it is important- and vastly underestimated. I think when we were all tribesmen on the plains we had to have a built-in desire to contribute, otherwise, we were- one by one- leopard lunch. I don’t think we could have made it on pure personal greed.

Here, here, Wimbi!

I don't deny we could be in a heap of trouble.. but I see little to gain from the moan'n'groan contest that fills this blog sometimes.


You can keep the women as long as you are chasing them on your bicycle.

Hansen has a good idea - Fee and dividend.

A VERY good idea! If we did that, I could come out with enough money to get back on my bicycle and go chase -- wait a minute, I already did that long time ago and look where it got me.

Half poetic perhaps, but jobs for the sake of jobs is just "landfill"; profit for the sake of profit is just "filler".

If I in the food industry can get a little more flour in your meatballs, a little more air, sugar and/or gums whipped into your ice creams, a little more sugar and water in your drinks without you noticing, all the more profitable for me. Maybe I can even sell you bottled water from the same source as your tap.

Actually, I can.

What do you think the ratcheting effects of these kinds of things are for the world and society as a whole?

And where/how is energy in this dynamic?

Is it more efficient/better/ethical to ship the people to the food or the food to the people?

Speaking of collapse; how about collapsing the nations and letting everyone move around freely?

"a little more sugar and water in your drinks without you noticing"

That one always puzzled me. Sugar costs money, even if it's HFCS. So why do they put in so much sugar you can't stand to drink it? The profitable thing to do is to cut back the sugar a little bit every month until everyone is used to your new taste. Since you can sell it for the same price, and the costs are down, profits would be up.

I would say that Archer Daniels Midland goons are going to come and rough you up for that suggestion, except that they would not care nowadaze due to the other processed product market for corn: ethanol.

No Joke. American soda pop is disgusting crap. Who can drink all that sugar? I weigh it out for my graduate students to show them how much sugar is in a single can of soda. Imagine the sugar in a 64 oz guzzler of the crap. Better to burn it in your car that make people drink the junk.

Sugar is pretty cheap per pund. So is salt. I think they do market research. Test out variations in the formulas, if they can figure out something that is both cheap, and excellent at hooking consumers, so much the better. That is the downside of letting food be a for profit business. All the effort goes into maximizing profit, not health.

That's capitalism working perfectly for benefit of us all! What a wonderful system. It also works perfectly in the areas of real estate and high finance. We should be sure to vigorously and violently defend this wonderful system against any and all alternatives since anything else besides this obviously perfect system must be the spawn of the devil himself.

Oh, and it's doing wonders for the planet, too!

"That's capitalism working perfectly for benefit of us all!"

Who's still using pure Capitalism anyway?

Yep. It's a real shame that nobody has managed to do better any other way, isn't it?

Well-regulated capitalism is probably the best economic system we can get, but that requires a government that intrudes on private business interests. That leaves the problem of balance, because it is obvious that too much government is as bad as too little.

Glad to hear that no one here has been brainwashed by the dominant paradigm.

Just keep repeating the mantras:

It can't get any better.

This is the only and the best possible way.

Don't use your imagination.

Nothing could ever be better than this.

Ignore that little man shouting that it is a machine that is rapidly destroying the living and mineral resources of the world and turning them into universal poison.

Go back to sleep.

Well-regulated capitalism is probably the best economic system we can get,

Yeah, just like at one time a model of the universe where the sun revolved around the earth was the best that we could come up with.

I actually agree (about well regulated capitalism being best) (surprising considering my moniker). Even Adam Smith who can be considered the father of capiatlism made a point of that. The problem, is we gave the control of the regulators to those who need be regulated. So now (in the US at least), we have a sort of corporatism of the superwealthy.

The funny thing is that while everybody sneers about that view of the universe - for reasons that are sound but only in 20/20 hindsight - it worked perfectly adequately in its time. And that's what you do, you go with what you have in your time, because you can't really go with something that may or may not be invented decades or centuries in the future, and for now is at the very best nothing more than dreamy hypothetical vaporware.

The epicycles are a Fourier expansion, so they can be fitted to any closed path and to some non-closed paths. And they can be fitted and yield excellent predictive value even if one does not know the law of gravity to any useful accuracy, which people really didn't until Newton came along. They weren't stupid, just ignorant.

Now, there were Star Trek episodes (episodes plural IIRC) where 20th century slowships with rich tycoons on board were encountered by the good ship Enterprise. After awakening and asking lots of questions about their new circumstances, the tycoons were told unctuously by the Enterprise's saintly captain that money meant nothing anymore in the perfect, brave new fictional world the incurably liberal, starry-eyed Hollywood writers had placed them into. No, everybody and anybody could now enjoy complete fulfillment to their heart's desire without stooping to worry about such filthy matters.

Of course, there were also bad captains in the fleet, and much worse ones in the merchant fleet. In the story line, there simply had to be as foils for the saints (even if slightly flawed) running the Enterprise. But for some strange reason the bad captains' ships had crews too. Very strange indeed, a gaping lacuna in "continuity", or what we could call self-consistency. Since anyone could enjoy complete fulfillment as an automatic right, there was no conceivable reason ever to serve under a bad captain, ergo the bad captains couldn't exist.

Now, that's the long way round to the pub, and what's on the bar is simply this: if a bunch of incurably liberal starry-eyed Hollywood writers, smoking some really good stuff, and supplied with infinite fictional energy, infinite fictional resources, and infinite fictional powers to present something as working when it can't, couldn't even come up with a fictionally self-consistent fictional something-like-socialist Utopia, then what conceivable hope for some such Utopia can there be in the very much more constrained present-day real world?

So if somebody's got an economic Copernican revolution in their back pocket, one that actually has got a track record in large-scale pilot testing - rather than being mere hallucinatory vaporware based on pious wishful thinking - then let them put up, and tell us what it is, or shut up. Mind you, not flutter aimlessly about the wonderful life in a wholly imaginary Utopia where everything works simply because they declare that it does, but actually explain, in a modest amount of plausible detail, how it functions. They can start with how people eat, specifically why anybody bothers to work to grow food when they can just snap their fingers, say "gimme, gimme, gimme", and have it all.

And that's what you do, you go with what you have in your time, because you can't really go with something that may or may not be invented decades or centuries in the future, and for now is at the very best nothing more than dreamy hypothetical vaporware.

Fine, I agree that imagining Star Trek futures is not very useful other than for the purposes of pure entertainment.

However our current economic system which happens to be Capitalism has hardly been proven as the best system possible over the long haul. If anything it is looking like a failed system unable to cope with our current crisis and it may turn out to be nothing more than a very quick flash of fools gold in the pan.


Capitalism: one kind of economy

This book focuses mostly on describing one very particular kind of
economy: capitalism.
There, I’ve said it: the “C-word.” Just mentioning that term sounds
almost subversive, these days. Even talking about capitalism makes it
sound like you’re a dangerous radical of some kind. But we live in a
capitalist economy, and we might as well name it. More importantly,
we might as well understand what we are dealing with.
Curiously, even though capitalism dominates the world economy,
the term “capitalism” is not commonly used. Even more curiously, this
word is almost never used by economists. Neoclassical economics is
dedicated to the study of capitalism; in fact, other kinds of economies
(that existed in the past, or that may exist in the future) are not
even contemplated. Yet the term “capitalism” does not appear in
neoclassical economics textbooks.
Instead, economists refer simply to “the economy” – as if there
is only one kind of economy, and hence no need to name or defi ne
it. This is wrong. As we have already seen, “the economy” is simply
where people work to produce the things we need and want. There
are different ways to organize that work. Capitalism is just one
of them.
Human beings have existed on this planet for approximately
200,000 years. They had an economy all of this time. Humans have
always had to work to meet the material needs of their survival (food,
clothing, and shelter) – not to mention, when possible, to enjoy the
“fi ner things” in life. Capitalism, in contrast, has existed for fewer
than 300 years. If the entire history of Homo sapiens was a 24-hour
day, then capitalism has existed for two minutes.
What we call “the economy” went through many different stages
en route to capitalism. (We’ll study more of this economic history
in Chapter 3.) Even today, different kinds of economies exist. Some
entire countries are non-capitalist. And within capitalist economies,
there are important non-capitalist parts (although most capitalist
economies are becoming more capitalist as time goes by).

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that human beings will eventually find
other, better ways to organize work in the future – maybe sooner,
maybe later. It’s almost inconceivable that the major features of what
we call “capitalism” will exist for the rest of human history (unless,
of course, we drive ourselves to extinction in the near future through
war, pollution, or other self-infl icted injuries).

Emphasis mine, but I happen to think that is the likeliest outcome if we manage to survive,
indeed I highly doubt we can survive unless we start experimenting with alternative economic systems
the sooner the better... because if capitalism is the best that we could come up with, its game over.

OK, here we go changing the subject from the near-ish future to speculations flitting across the length of a 200,000 year time scale. On that scale - well, anything's possible. But with today's huge, crowded populations, we're in a new era whether we like it or not, so handwaving about small wild tribes (or troops, really) on the savannah seems unlikely to tell us much of anything useful - though, again, since it's only handwaving, anything's possible.

With respect to anything practical for the near-ish future, one problem is that if someone wishes to experiment, they'll need to find a group of experimentees. And all manner of small villages, tribes, and communes have been tried, with nothing both catching on for any appreciable time on any appreciable scale, so that sort of thing doesn't seem like, exactly, promising low-hanging fruit. At the same time, I doubt that any country-sized group will want to take chances on scaling something like that up, since it probably won't scale (mere idealism as an ongoing successful motivation to get necessary work done successfully probably requires a rather small group, and we already know that bullets didn't work too effectively for all that long in Russia and China), and if it doesn't, they'll end up even further up a creek without a paddle - a whole country full of folks in the same pickle as those who sold out for May 21 and now have nothing. Ditto for trying something de-novo radical when anybody in their right mind will be sick to death of the murderous results of radical nation-scale experiments of the 20th century, and even of some of the earlier ones.

There's not much use at all worrying about capitalism being unsuited to a long haul on the scale of 200,000 years, since there's plenty of time to worry about that if it turns out to need the worry. So again, where's that Copernican revolution - which implies much more than the tinkering at the edges that distinguishes Europe from the USA - with respect to any time frame worth attention? Since things that are too good to be true are usually untrue, it's not worth the effort to dive into a lengthy book; so where is there a serious executive summary concerning anything that would be worth a serious try? Do you have something in mind more specific than quoting an academic who claims that there are many possibilities?

However our current economic system which happens to be Capitalism has hardly been proven as the best system possible over the long haul.

That's hardly a defect of capitalism. Such proof can never possibly exist for any system, since one will always be able to imagine a long enough haul that any extrapolation out to the end of it based on existing data and theory will become unconvincing. Indeed, if humans are still around those 200,000 years from now, I'm sure the professional worry warts will be wringing their hands (or whatever their appendages will be) about the following 2,000,000, and still agonizing that what they're doing can't extrapolate out to eternity. It's a bit like proving the negative, which can almost never be done except within toy contexts or exquisitely constrained mathematical constructions.

Such proof would also be superfluous. As with the epicycles, capitalism doesn't have to be the best possible system for eternity; it just has to work for the time being. For all I know, something like the Hollywood writers' Utopia might conceivably come to pass in the far future. In the meantime, when I look around, I don't see anything working appreciably better. We can certainly argue over the sorts of tinkerings at the edges that differentiate the USA from Europe, but any of that is just far too trivial to constitute a economic Copernican revolution.

"I highly doubt we can survive unless we start experimenting with alternative economic systems"

What type of economic system would you prefer to try first and why?

What type of economic system would you prefer to try first and why?

We might start with one that recognizes that growth is the problem, not the solution.
Because we know for a fact that promoting growth is an unsustainable path.


What type of Economy would recognize that Growth is a problem?

Is there one of the many forms of Economies that promote sustainablity?

I don't think Capitalism as a defined system is necessarily addicted to growth. Our financial/business culture rewards growth and our Social programs(Ponzi Schemes) must have growth to keep the scheme going. Our business culture could and should replace the need for constant growth with efficiency and some companies do that. Our government could also strive for efficiency although I won't hold my breath while waiting.

So if you take away the rewards for growth and replace it with rewards for with increased efficiency in the capitalist system would that be contrary to to goal of sustainablilty?

* American School * Anarchism * Anarcho-capitalism
* Anarcho-communism * Autarky * Barter economy
* Buddhist Economy * Capitalism * Colonialism
* Communism * Coordinatorism * Corporatism
* Corporate capitalism * Digital Economy * Distributism
* Dirigisme * Fascist socialization * Feudalism
* Georgism * Green economy * Hydraulic despotism
* Inclusive Democracy * Information economy * Internet Economy
* Islamic economics * Japanese System * Knowledge economy
* Libertarian communism * Libertarian socialism
* Market economy * Market socialism * Marxian economics
* Mercantilism * Mixed economy * Mutualism
* National Socialism * Natural economy * Neo-colonialism
* Network Economy * Nordic model * Non-property system
* Parecon * Participatory economy * Planned economy
* PROUTist economy * Self-management * Social market economy
* Socialism * Socialist market economy * Syndicalism
* Subsistence economy * Traditional economy * Virtual economy

With the resources found here in the late 1400's, any of these could have been made to work. Without resources, the proper ones will be found by natural selection. Anything else is an artifice.


I think my question was what type of economy going forward to achieve the goal of sustainability. We can't do anything about what happened from 1492 to the present, but tomorrow maybe.

How will this artifice be enforced?

Ok I have to find out what an artifice is first!

I don't think you have a clue what growth means or the fact that our Capitalist system is based on it.
Hint, efficient growth is still growth! Within the context of our current system growth is NOT sustainable.


Why is this so hard to understand?!

" Within the context of our current system growth is NOT sustainable."

I can agree with that point, but I don't call our current system capitalism. I don't think the captialism in the classic sense has to have growth. Whatever system we have now demands growth but our system is not captialism by a long shot.

I do think we can get better at what we do with what we have in our society and that can be the whats rewared in business, rather than growth. Are you against doing thinks more efficiently?

Are you against doing thinks more efficiently?

Doing my thinks more efficiently has been on of my life long goals, sadly it seems to be one of those unattainable goals... >;^)

Seriously, NO ONE, is against efficiency, certainly not me, however, things like Jevon's paradox aside, efficiency is not a solution to the problem of growth. Our current economic paradigm, whatever name you wish to call it by, and I do believe the general consensus is, that it is called Capitalism, depends on growth, without it, it collapses.

To me our economic system and our social institutions are based on what we reward and what we punish. I think "corporatism" is more what our economic and political system has turned into according to those rewards and punishments it's not pure free market capitalism at all. Heck we don't even have a half-fast run mixed economy. The line between business and government is extremely fuzzy and is getting fuzzier by the day.

Now I use the word "efficiency" to cover many aspects of our society not just energy use so "Jevon's Paradox" is really not what I'm debating anyway. If our businesses become more efficient they use less energy, time, capital and man power to get the products and services to the end user at a better price.

Look at Walmart they performed in a more effcient manner and the amount of competitors went away. So we had many fewer total stores operating even though we had a growth in the number of Walmarts simply due to Walmart's efficiency.

If the United States government uses proper tactics to get people on welfare and food stamps to be more productive for instance, that efficient use of laws and regulations cost the tax payer less money and causes more tax payers to be in the job market and that could also lower the growth rate in that portion of the population.

Obama efficiently used a Seal team rather than a full on military attack to get Bin Laden that could lead to a lower growth rate in military spending.

If I as an oilfield worker find a way to drill oil wells ten times faster via a more efficient use of equipment or processes, oil company contractors may build less rigs than before in order to get the same or more productivity.

So in many ways efficiency may lower some forms of growth. If you reward growth in our financial culture you get more growth. I think the paradigm can be changed once we reward efficient use of everything rather than growth.

How about tax cuts for people that don't have kids rather than tax breaks for people who do have kids, that would be an efficient use of the tax code to lower population growth!

Yep. It's a real shame that nobody has managed to do better any other way, isn't it?

Really? (See below blockquotes)

Also, what about animals in nature? Birds for example. Except for the fact of we humans, they seem to be relatively content.
Permaculture is suggesting, in part, that we echo or emulate natural systems-- holism, balance, that kind of thing.

That leaves the problem of balance, because it is obvious that too much government is as bad as too little.

Sounds like a false dilemma-- either too much of one or the other.
For example, there are many who are advocating a return to a much more localized economy, such as where gov't isn't necessarily a bloated, centralized, faceless concept.

In any case...

If a population acts to serve its common interest, it will never choose the state. In reaching this conclusion, we need not deny the countless problems that will plague the people living in a society without the state; any anarchical society, being peopled in normal proportion by vile and corruptible individuals, will have crimes and miseries aplenty. But everything that makes life without a state undesirable makes life with a state even more undesirable. The idea that the anti-social tendencies that afflict people in every society can be cured or even ameliorated by giving a few persons great discretionary power over all the others is, upon serious reflection, seen to be a wildly mistaken notion. Perhaps it is needless to add that the structural checks and balances on which Madison relied to restrain the government’s abuses have proven to be increasingly unavailing and, bearing in mind the expansive claims and actions under the present U.S. regime, are now almost wholly superseded by a form of executive caesarism in which the departments of government that were designed to check and balance each other have instead coalesced in a mutually supportive design to plunder the people and reduce them to absolute domination by the state.
~ Robert Higgs, 'If Men Were Angels: The Basic Analytics of the State versus Self-government'

"Consequently, resources that have traditionally been managed communally by local organizations have been enclosed or privatized. Ostensibly, this serves to "protect" such resources, but it ignores the pre-existing management, often appropriating resources and alienating indigenous (and frequently poor) populations. In effect, private or state use may result in worse outcomes than the previous management of commons."
~ Wikipedia, entry on the Tragedy of the Commons

"The Eden that Europeans described when they reached North America was not a wilderness, but a well-managed resource, a complex combination of nature and culture, ecology and economy, a system so subtle and effective that it eluded the settlers who saw only natural wealth free for the taking. The result of this land grab in North America is that only 2% of the land is now wild, its major rivers are polluted, its lakes have caught fire, and its forests are dying from the top down. The tragedy of this commons was that it never really was a commons after colonization, but was surrendered to plunder, privatization, and exploitation in the name of Manifest Destiny and progress."
~ http://www.intelligentagent.com

Outside the USA, there is a worldwide movement to replace the dysfunctional money system that exists-- all the individual national currencies.

One of the biggest hurdles is people's ignorance of how the mainstream money system works... Mainstream money is issued by banks, and those banks have an agenda... they're giving a public service in providing a medium of exchange which we all use-- we have to use-- but at the same time they have a for-profit agenda. And there's a contradiction there. In fact, if you think about it, the banks issuing money is anti-democratic...

If everybody knew the full facts about how money is issued, how it's put into circulation, who is issuing it, how they have power and control over the economy, and over individuals' lives, I think there'd be a lot of very unhappy people around."
~ Francis Ayley, Founder & President, Fourth Corner Exchange (alternative money system)

"The nature to which people are able to be social, civilized, sympathetic is quite amazing and it's in contradiction to the nature of the money."
~ From the documentary, 'The Money Fix'

In the modern world, if we attempt to eliminate the state, we will end up with thuggocracy. Would we be better off if the Mexican Zetas, were the prime power in society? Thats the problem with libertarians, they think eliminating the state (an instrument of collective will), would make every just hunky dory. But, there is that thing about power vacuums, they get rapidly filled. And without the collective will of the people having enforcing social norms on the new order, the most ruthless inevitably come out on top.

enemy of state wrote: In the modern world, if we attempt to eliminate the state, we will end up with thuggocracy.

Perhaps, but the nation-state, as it is, may end up eliminating itself. It seems to be trying hard these days anyway.

It is also possible to nurture values that see, as you call, thuggocracy, minimized-- permaculture values for example-- 'care of earth and people'.
I imagine that, when values like that are made paramount and promulgated and continuously nurtured, that which created the mediums for thuggocracy to flourish may be minimized.
(Speaking of Japan, last I heard, it had unusually low crime rates per capita.)

Humans may be forced into this scenario anyway, into something more localized and community-oriented, more "earthy", as the bloated, centralized nation-state methods of doing things implodes.

It is argued that the state practices large-scale thuggocracy anyway, and leveraging very lethal military/police tech while doing so, and I already posted a quote about this. What's the civilian casualty count for Iraq and Afghanistan these days?
It also seems a relatively new phenomenon, insofar as we as a species didn't quite grow up with it until very recently. We're tribal by nature apparently.
We seem to take the nation-state for granted, so to speak-- that it has and always will be around, or as it is now. Highly unlikely if you ask me, such as if our very survival as a species is at stake.

Species have come and gone, and we may be no exception. Sobering thought.

Are you familiar with permaculture, BTW? I think that is one light of hope in the darkness.

Over here, they changed an ice cream that originally had no gums and was fairly natural-- Breyers. I used to buy it before.
They also fluffed it up, made it airier, and added a term to the package: 'Double Churned'.
Perhaps it was around the time Unilever apparently bought it. Unilever also ruined my Pears soap. Maybe they're vying for ownership of my DNA.

Here's some more about food that ostensibly goes beyond just business:

"To turn the world into a dependency on staples has nothing to do with feeding the world, it has a lot to do with controlling the food supply. The United States evolved a phrase during the Vietnam war, and the phrase was; 'Food as a weapon'; the use of food as the ultimate weapon of control. And the tragedy is, the growth of agribusiness in the US has gone hand-in-hand with the US foreign policy to deliberately create hunger locally in order to make the world dependent on food supplies, through which you can then control countries and their decision-making ability. So hunger has become an instrument of war."
~ Vandana Shiva, physicist, from video (You Tube), 'The Future of Food'

"a little more sugar and water in your drinks without you noticing"

That one always puzzled me. Sugar costs money, even if it's HFCS. So why do they put in so much sugar you can't stand to drink it? The profitable thing to do is to cut back the sugar a little bit every month until everyone is used to your new taste. Since you can sell it for the same price, and the costs are down, profits would be up.

I was perhaps thinking along the lines of the more expensive ingredients sugar might replace, like maybe actual fruit juice. It's interesting how they can make a big deal about it then in adverstising: "Made with 1% REAL fruit juice!"
One strategy of marketing; removing something good, and then promoting how great it is that they're adding it back or that there's anything left of it at all?

Or selling wall-to-wall carpeting and then selling a vacuum-cleaner for it? 'Need-creation'?

Perhaps this kind of system dynamic underlies much of the current nation-state as what creates problems that it then offers "solutions" for, like in the form of the police and military forces. And then it looks like you get to see exactly who they actually represent at the end of the day when push comes to shove and you hear how they shoot and beat protesters.

Perhaps yet still, this is part of the issue surrounding energy; where, for example, nuclear power is offered as a "solution" where there is no need for one. I guess weapons manufacture "Legos" into this too.

And of course, guess who pays for all these ostensibly illusory solutions, and who bails them out when they make yet more problems they're supposed to solve? Through wage-slavery (AKA the tax-paying rest)? Looks that way.

Interesting how this all seems to Lego in like a nice big-budget B movie horror-comedy, ay? Where the jokes are on the audience and where no 3D glasses required, because reality is "the matrix".

Careful with that "we." You may not know what that future looks like, but that doesn't mean nobody knows. The constraints placed by ecological services are what they are; no hand waving needed. The future is simple and uncomfortable. BTW, we know exactly how to deal with CO2.

I think it's about different approaches : one side fights to compromise so everyone gets something they want, the other side fights to win, and get everything they want.

If two sides are on a field playing, essentially, by two different sets of rules, the more aggressive side gets to control the game. Whether this results in the right thing being done or not depends on which side one happens to support. One can sit on the sidelines crying "it's not fair" or one can try and change the rules of the game. Or, at least, introduce some rules that both sides will play by. (no, I've no idea how to do that).

Where I think both the climate change faction and the peak oil faction have fallen down and missed an opportunity is in realising they have a lot in common. Promoting of conservation, for example, and relocalizing. Rail systems instead of road building. Redesigning urban and suburban environments.

There'd be much more strength in the two camps merging than in vying for whose issue gets priority.

These issues are tied together of course. Peak Oil and AGW are locked in step because burned oil makes CO2. Now I am wondering if crop damage and increasing demands for more intensive ag will prove that these problems (and human over population) are in fact in a dangerous positive feedback loop.


Where to start..........

AGW..., do any other these models take depletion into account....?
SPR..., tapping the SPR to get re-elected is the wrong thing to do..., we are not in an emergency yet......

Deficits are a very real, and a very serious problem.
We live well beyond our means and borrow the deference to pay for our lavish lifestyle.....

It's unsustainable and it will make mitigating the effects of peak oil that much harder....

I am a DEMOCRAT...., but I was never much of an Obama supporter..., I did NOT assume he was anything more than just another politician..., as a result, I'm not bothered by the fact it turns out, I was right..., he is just another politician.......


I worry a lot more about Peak Oil than Global Warming....

AGW does not represent the end of nature....

We may have the power to destroy the planet for mammals... but, there is nothing we could do to eliminate the roach..., and his other insect friends.....

Too much drama in this post.......

We may have the power to destroy the planet for mammals... but, there is nothing we could do to eliminate the roach...

Too much drama in this post.......

You don't think killing off the mammals is dramatic? Those must be some good antidepression drugs.

I’m glad I set the table yesterday


The McKibben book "The End of Nature" was pointing out that we generally conceptualize nature as that which is beyond our control or influence. But the climate change we are creating is global, so now we can no longer say that any storm or drought was not influenced by us.

So that notion of "nature" is no longer meaningful.

Since then, we have learned that a variety of feedback, especially the release of methane from tundra and seabed, could push us much farther and faster along the mass extinction event we have been in for the last few decades than most had anticipated, and some top climatologist, such as Hansen and Lovelock, think this could eventually lead to a Venus Syndrome that leaves the earth completely inhospitable to life. Yes, even roaches don't survive beyond certain limits. Insects, in fact, are losing many species every day, far (as in orders of magnitude) beyond the background rate of extinction.

There is far too LITTLE drama expressed about these dire events here and elsewhere. And far too much ignorance expressed by those who would choose to belittle it.

There is far too LITTLE drama expressed about these dire events here and elsewhere.


Say, drop me an email sometime by clicking on my user name. I'd like to be in touch.

"It's all about jobs, jobs,jobs."

How could it be otherwise? Reality check: compared to not having food to put on the table tonight, or the threat of being put out on the street at the end of the month, a set of speculative seasonal-weather forecasts for the summer of 2080 is a matter of the utmost possible unimportance.

False choice. That is purely your opinion whether future massive increases in temperature are of no importance. To say that if we focus on jobs that nothing else can be done is absurd. Besides, severe drouth and other severe weather patterns will most definitely affect how much food we have on the table. The point is there are no other issues on the table as if we cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Reality check. Severe weather is happening now as forecasted by climate scientists. It can only get worse.

But if the reality check is that we will do nothing regardless. Then, yeh, you may have a point.

Anyway, by all means let us do nothing because of that will cause additional people to lose their jobs. A full throated package of expenditures that sought to deal with both energy issues and global warming would not hurt jobs. And if this society really wanted to make jobs available it would. But this society has decided to roll the dice and wait for the market to do its magic. Last month it did its magic by having half of the new private sector jobs be jobs at McDonalds. Like those people are going to pay taxes or be able to pay mortgages.

A full throated package of expenditures that sought to deal with both energy issues and global warming would not hurt jobs.

This is blathering nonsense. There is no way to address global warming without dramatically curtailing the use of fossil fuels, and there's no way to dramatically curtail fossil fuel use without attacking jobs. You can't make energy dramatically more expensive, more dear, and less useful without destroying jobs.

There is no way to address global warming without dramatically curtailing the use of fossil fuels, and there's no way to dramatically curtail fossil fuel use without attacking jobs.

Talk about blathering nonsense. And there is no way to discuss something rationally with someone who has not arrived at his or her conclusions by rational means... Sigh!

Saved me the brain cells. Thanks.

Brain cells are over-rated..., the connections between those cells are under-rated

When you explain how you can make energy more scarce and more expensive, while still maintaining the same number of jobs, let me know. When you do, I have a Red Sea needing parting.

Fred and Tstreet, I gotta agree with Jersey on this one. The idea that jobs and the general state of the economy can be divorced from the energy supply is truly blathering nonsense if blathering nonsense ever existed.

Edit: However if that is not what you an Tstreet were implying then please make yourselves clear. It is really hard to tell from your post.

Ron P.

Fred and Tstreet, I gotta agree with Jersey on this one. The idea that jobs and the general state of the economy can be divorced from the energy supply is truly blathering nonsense if blathering nonsense ever existed.

Oh, I agree 100% that without energy there is not much else, however I have yet to be convinced that energy is ONLY found in fossil fuels, which is what Jersey is implying. Granted without fossil fuels we will no longer have an economy such as we currently know it. Though in my opinion it doesn't automatically follow that there can be no economy without fossil fuels. Perhaps we'll have a lot of ex MBAs happily employed harvesting corn or vegetables and getting paid in food... not sure how they will be taxed but that's more of a Government problem.

Though in my opinion it doesn't automatically follow that there can be no economy without fossil fuels.

You are talking about solar, wind and animal power? Yes, that is what we had before the age of fossil fuel when the population was about one tenth of what it is today.

Perhaps we'll have a lot of ex MBAs happily employed harvesting corn or vegetables and getting paid in food.

Well harvesting is just the last stage of farming. First you have plowing, planting, (using animal manure as your only fertilizer), then chopping the grass and weeds out and then harvesting and thrashing or grinding the crop by hand or animal power.

And you believe that the world can feed, clothe and provide shelter for seven billion people with this method?

Of course you do not believe such silly nonsense as that. But I am not sure just how many people you do believe such a system could support. How many billion? Which is another way of asking how many billion much die.

Fred, it is going to get ugly, very ugly. Saying that it will not, that we can go back to the energy we used before the age of fossil fuel and still feed and support seven billion people is just another form of denial.

Ron P.

Of course you do not believe such silly nonsense as that. But I am not sure just how many people you do believe such a system could support. How many billion? Which is another way of asking how many billion much die.

Fred, it is going to get ugly, very ugly.

I wish I could disagree with that. How many will die? I don't know but I'm pretty sure it is many >:-(

I still sincerely believe that power down and reduction of the world's population can hopefully be somewhat ameliorated and made less horrible than it is looking right now. Unfortunately It means a lot of people must come out of their denial accept the truth and start working together in ways humans have never done before. A daunting task indeed!

I won't divulge the names of the participants but I'm currently taking part in a group discussion on this very topic so I at least know there are people who are already facing the truth. I don't see much cause for optimism amongst these people but none of them seem to have given up all hope as of yet.

Best hopes for radical paradigm change!


Ron, Fred,

I agree about the getting very, very ugly... I like to remain optimistic, not about our future staying the same, but I hold out hope that we can work together and mitigate some of the worst things to come. Maybe it's because I've spent time in Mexico in the 1960's and 1970's, in areas not just in the big cities, and have seen happy people that had almost nothing by our standards of today in the US. One room adobe hut, kerosene lamp or candles, cooking tortillas on stone with wood fire, plowing fields with oxen, homemade brooms made of twigs for sweeping the dirt floors in their huts, wonderful village markets with homespun clothing, chickens, sheep, pigs and cows nearby, etc. I met many happy people even though they were dirt-poor by our standards.

There's no way that any alternative energy source can supply what is, even now, supplied by our not as cheap but still dirt-cheap oil/gas. Alternatives offer a lot for a powered-down world. Not in a form resembling what we have now but with small, de-centralized systems.

Fred, I'm glad that you know others who are facing up to the truth, so far the only person I that I have met in person who has done that is my wife. It would be nice to find some around here (Auburn, AL). It is nice to see some here on TOD. I'm not going to express unbridled optimism, but I won't give up hope either, making changes in our lives seems to make us happier as we work on the powering down process.

The radical paradigm shift is coming, will we be ready or not?


Yes, lately PV cost decreases have accelerated and have been following a fairly consistent percentage decrease per doubling of manufactured volume. I assume it follows that PV EROEI has increased. However, even if it reaches so called grid parity, there is still the sun shining up during daytime problem. But a low level society could probably work around that. I am not particularly optimistic but what other alternatives do we have. I don't think it hurts to try things like PV because I do not think it has been definitively proven that they can't make a meaningful contribution to long term survival, even a certain degree of civilization.

I spent some time in Morocco in the early 70s. At that time, the degree of development seemed somewhat medieval by our standards. And yet their was food, music, water, art, and what appeared to be a level of happiness at least equal to the U.S. society.

I am not trying to romanticize poverty and I have not chosen it but there are levels of existence much simpler and austere than ours that are doable and are being done. If we can't adjust, tough poototie and boo hoo.

"Romanticize poverty".

I suspect the problem we have to face is that being poor is simply an unacceptable situation for those of us who have lived lives of extraordinary wealth. I try to imagine my wife living without flush toilets, running water and electric lights. She would probably curl up in a corner and die. We have at least two generations alive today in western cultures that have simply never down without anything and have been saturated with the message that it is perfectly normal to have anything that you want or can imagine. While longivity is the most obvious reward for living in a wealthy culture it is not at all clear that it is a better choice than a simple life of hard work, family and friends. Living to 90, crippled up and drugged up in a rest home, is not necessarily a better life than 60 years of growing your own food and knowing your neighbors.

"I try to imagine my wife living without flush toilets, running water and electric lights."

And yet, many of us do live that way for entertainment--camping.

But really, composting toilets can be quite pleasant, CFLs and LEDs can run on very little electricity, and used less wastefully, we should be able to keep some water running--though having a cistern system would not be a bad idea.

Many countries with much lower 'standards of living' show much higher levels of happiness.

Really, the thing that is most romanticized by far is our own high consumptive lifestyle. It really makes most of us miserably, so we have to have thousands of commercials "romanticizing" it constantly to us and convincing us if we just by the next gadget or thingamajig, we will finally attain the true and deep happiness that every ad tells us is waiting for us just around the next corner and the next purchase.

I met many happy people even though they were dirt-poor by our standards.

I still don't think it's socially or politically useful to keep trying to romanticize that sort of thing. It won't fly out in the real world. (I'll say it again, it remains quite diametrically opposed to what Walkerville is about.) And the larger notion about what people might accept is, to use a math concept, "hysteretic" or "path-dependent".

That is, it's one thing for people who have never known better to be "happy" - whatever that means, which is another issue we can argue forever - under such circumstances. But it's quite another altogether for people who do know better; either via modern communication, which is far more comprehensive even in most very poor places than it used to be circa 1970; or else, and especially, via direct experience, as is the case for North Americans, Europeans, etc. That's a likely reason why even the Chinese dictatorship has become looser and is no longer actively flogging the estimable virtues of Mao-style peasanthood to an incredulous citizenry.

I simply can't imagine, for example, a person who has experienced modernity being "happy" about being forced back into the ancestral hard life affording no time for much of anything beyond mere survival - most especially if that is, or is even seen as, the end-result of some deliberate (i.e. optional) political action. Even less can I imagine such a person being "happy" in the face of a close relative or friend being severely maimed or dying of something that wouldn't even show up on the radar under more modern conditions (farming for example is still quite dangerous, but it used to be much more so; we've offloaded lots of risk onto expendable machines, and tramplings by horses or livestock are now far less common), even though such deaths used to be taken in stride back when no one knew any better.

First, I'm not "romanticizing" being able to be happy in the "ancestral hard life affording no time for much of anything beyond mere survival". Second, that's a completely false choice. That we have to choose between a modern oil-guzzling life or a primitive life. Someone here called it "Going Amish", but it seemed like they meant more like living as a caveman.

The people I met were living in the small villages around the towns like Tonanzintla, near the city of Puebla in Mexico. That area has grown explosively since the mid 1960's when I was first there, I don't recognize it at all today, it is now wall to wall people where there were fields before. Check it out on Google Maps. They had a life that was nowhere as highly energy dependent as we have now or even as we lived in the USA at that time. These people were well aware of what life was in the big cities, that had constant contact with people from Puebla and Mexico City. They voted in the elections where the PRI candidate virtually always won.

This was during times when my father was observing at the UNAM astronomical observatory near Tonantzintla. The people we met were the groundskeepers and housekeepers hired to maintain the observatory grounds and facilities. They were incredibly friendly and were always inviting us to visit them at their "houses". They seemed proud to show us where they lived. They took us to the village markets (held in the village square) and you could see that they liked showing off the goods (Lots of great fresh produce and meat there).

By the way, even the observatory itself was extremely energy stingy by today's standards. The 6" Hydrogen-alpha solar telescope probably only required 50 watts to run the camera shutter timer when it was being used, zero otherwise. The telescope had a flyball-governor clock drive driven by weights. The 40" cassegrain telescope only had a utility transformer of 2-3 KVA. Not like the 10's of KVAs needed today. Still supported the telescope even with my father's vacuum-tube equipment.

What I'm trying to say is that people can live and be happy without anywhere near as much as you say we "need" now. You realize that our grandchildren and beyond aren't going to have all the stuff that we do now, don't you? They better learn to be happy with less and less.

Ron, a few points.

First, at least one billion, probably more than two, of our current seven billion are being fed and clothed by hand and animal ploughing, hand harvesting, and hand threshing. Yes, it's no fun; yes, there'd be famines. But it's possible.

It's possible, but it's not going to happen. No one can seriously adhere to the fallacy of reversibility. Kunstler's "World Made By Hand" is a fantasy. It's urban, industrial civilization or nothing.

We've learned quite a lot since those mediaeval windmills and water mills. We can do at least 10,000 times better. And now we have solar power, PV and thermal, as well.

Second, solar PV has just about reached grid parity with coal. And PV prices are still falling -- if anything, the rate of decline is accelerating. PV can be rolled out amazingly quickly - a single year to manufacture, install, and commission a plant.

Yes, there's a school of thought that says that PV is only possible because of fossil fuels. Well, it looks like the world is about to replace coal with renewables backed by peaking gas. The experiment is certainly worth trying -- and it's going to happen, unless laws are passed prohibiting it.

And yes, there are major problems with using electricity in off-road applications, such as agriculture. But alternative solutions, such as biofuels, are known. And again, the cost is falling.

Finally, agriculture uses a trivial percentage of fossil fuels. Even if it turns out we can't feed the world using electric machinery and fertilizer, it'd be OK to continue burning oil and reforming gas for this one application.

The period of transition from fossil fuels to renewables -- the next three decades -- will be rocky. Politics will make it worse than it need be. But failure is not guaranteed.

First, at least one billion, probably more than two, of our current seven billion are being fed and clothed by hand and animal ploughing, hand harvesting, and hand threshing.

Without any petroleum based fertilizer? Without any irrigation aid from fossil fuel powered pumps? And one billion people clothed with all hand produced cloth? With cotton ginned, spun and woven by hand? Or perhaps they all wear animal skins from animals they grew on their own farms? No, no, that is simply not the case, not even close. However if you have some evidence that at least one, or as you put it, probably more than two, in seven people on this earth are living completely without the aid of fossil fuel I would love to see it. But I am not holding my breath because I do not believe it exist.

But you seem to miss the most important point of declining fossil fuel. That is the dwindling supply will not be equally distributed among nations. As the supply starts to decline, some will have plenty, while some will have none. There will be no one world government to insure that the declining supply will be fair or that agricultural use will get the lions share.

Mayday 23: World Population Becomes More Urban Than Rural

Working with United Nations estimates that predict the world will be 51.3 percent urban by 2010, the researchers projected the May 23, 2007, transition day based on the average daily rural and urban population increases from 2005 to 2010. On that day, a predicted global urban population of 3,303,992,253 will exceed that of 3,303,866,404 rural people.

Since that day just over four years ago, even more people have gone urban and now even fewer people are rural. That means about 3 billion people are living in rural areas. If, as you claim, 2 billion are living entirely without the aid of fossil fuel, that means two out of every three farmers have no fertilizer, no mechanical irrigation, make their own clothes from cloth they spin and weave themselves and even build their own houses with trees cut down with stone tools. (Axes and saws are created with fossil fuel.) Naw!

Ron P.

You're misrepresenting what I claimed. I said that one or two billion farm using only human and animals for mechanical work. They can sell the product of their labour to buy plough-shares, fertilizer and clothes, because they live in the world as it is.

(Besides the technologies I listed above, two others are incomparably better than the mediaeval versions: the market, money, and accounting; and transportation. Oh, and telecommunications. Three other technologies...)

On numbers, maybe I underestimated. About 2% of the US population is directly involved in farming: 7 million. Extrapolating to the OECD and FSU, and adjusting for lower incomes and cultural differences, I end up with fewer than 100 million. Maybe 300 million farmers in the 'developing' world have access to some mechanisation. Maybe one billion rural residents live rurally but don't farm.

But the numbers aren't the point I was really interested in. As I said: "The World Made By Hand" is just a fantasy. Urbanisation is expected to increase to 80% plus this century. Speculation about whether 7 billion could live by manually-powered agriculture is academic at best.

The more important point is this: just as fossil fuels will not be distributed equally between nations, they won't be distributed equally between activities. Agriculture ought to have priority. I certainly agree that "ought to" does not mean the same as "will". But if there is the apocalypse that you prophesy, it will have been chosen by our leaders. It's not inevitable.

But if there is the apocalypse that you prophesy, it will have been chosen by our leaders. It's not inevitable.

The very first thing that happened when the collapse started was people began playing the blame game. Our Leaders are the villains. The democrats or republicans or Obama or whomever happens to be in power at the moment. If we had just enough fossil fuel to keep the farms producing produce but nothing for anything else, what would people use for money to buy those farm products? Everyone else would be unemployed.

There would be food riots across this nation and every other nation in the world. But Our Leaders could prevent all this by somehow... somehow...

I am now more convinced than ever that cornucopians really haven't a clue as to what is happening or why.

Ron P.


I'd go farther that that - 99% of the populace hasn't a clue as to what is happening or why. Hell, except for hard core doomers, they don't recognize that the collapse has already started. Nothing is going to stop it; not technology, conservation or singing Kumbaya.


Then you are just passing the time here at TOD?

Oh, a punk response! Good show. But, I'll give you a real answer anyway. I've been a member of The Oil Drum for a long time; I guess 5 1/2+ years. I like TOD for it's (mostly) erudite posts. Look, we are in population overshoot as Ron so often mentions. Nothing posted on TOD or any other forum is going to change that. Neither is any technology or other action. Society as we have know it is going down as we type.

I'd continue but I was planting beans and took a break and that's far more important to me than having a discussion with you.


Actually, your response was the punk response; mine was sincere. If I didn't still have hope, I would spend exactly zero minutes a day on sites like this, so I am curious why you are here given the post above.

I agree changes are coming, but that's a given. The key is, what does that mean? i took your post above, and now this one, to mean you expect the worst and don't see the point of making much of an effort to avert it. Your comment about erudition reinforces that in the sense it indicates you do this, essentially, for entertainment/intellectual stimulation. Got it.

Next time, try not to assume what my motives are, and leave out the very direct insults. I was not baiting you.

I'm with you on that point (and I've said this before, over the past six years or so). If I really thought things were completely hopeless, I would not waste my time here.

Not hardly

A Trip to Todd's
Posted by nate hagens on January 18, 2009


That trip was over two years ago, and that was a post I found interesting and useful at the time, as I have many of Todd's posts. People's perspectives change, particularly with the issues we discuss here. A lot has clarified in those two years, and Todd seems able to speak for himself. See above.

Ron, bless his heart, said: "harvesting is just the last stage of farming. First you have plowing, planting, (using animal manure as your only fertilizer), then chopping the grass and weeds out and then harvesting and thrashing or grinding the crop by hand or animal power."

That sounds like an awful lot of jobs to me. No shortage of jobs in a post fossil fuel world. Lots of work to do.

That sounds like an awful lot of jobs to me.

Well bless your little heart also Do, but that's not a lot of jobs, that's just one job. I realize you know absolutely nothing about farming but these are not things you do all at once, these are serial jobs. That is one follows after the other. One person plows, then that same person plants, then he chops the grass out of his crop the he... well you get the idea. But if you have a very large family then everyone pitches in to try to eek out a living from the hard earth.

But you are correct there will be lots of work to do in a post fossil fuel world. It will be a struggle just to stay alive. Now where one farmer produces enough food to feed several hundred, in a post fossil fuel world it will cost the farmer every moment of his time just to feed himself and his family. Then he hopes to have a bushel of corn left over to trade for a few dollars to put shoes and clothes on his family.

My dad was a sharecropper until I was seven, then he managed to buy get his own 45 acre farm when he was 43. I was the sixth of nine kids. The more kids a farmer had the more he had to work the farm and the more money he had in his pocket come picking time. (Cotton was our cash crop.)

I think it really sad that young people today have absolutely no conception of what it would be like if everyone had to live off the land, and cut wood for heating and cooking. It is really sad. When I read posts like yours Do I feel like crying. Lots of work to do indeed. For those very few lucky enough to have a piece of ground to farm there may be hope. They will have a lot to learn about pointed stick planting but at least they will have hope. For those with no land there will be no hope.

Ron P.

Ron, I also grew up on a farm, doing most of the hard work you described. We were fortunate enough to have tractors (fossil-fuel fed, of course). Even then, for crops like tobacco, the labor intensity was very high, and the work was very physically demanding. We retired the mules when I was only four, but older cousins told me about the effort required to keep a mule plowing. Of course, the mule needed to be fed all year long, so a significant portion of land was set aside for that purpose. Columbia, Tennessee, still hosts Mule Day every year.

All the no-till "modern" farm techniques generally require some form of fossil-fuel based additive. Sure, we know more about crop management now than 50 years ago, but take away the computer, the fertilizer, etc., and it's a tough life. Think about a Monday morning that starts at 5 a.m. feeding livestock, then cooking breakfast over a hearth, then spending the morning shoveling manure into a mule-pulled wagon so that one can spread the manure over the field.

Tobacco, thanks for the thoughtful post. Dad's farm was in North Alabama, about 3 miles south of the Tennessee state line. Tobacco was not grown in that area but I was well aware that it was a very labor intensive crop.

Dad got his first one row Allis Chalmers in about 1940 but kept a team of horses, (not mules), until about 1950. That was about the time he got a two row Allis Chalmers.

I left the farm after high school in 1957 but many of my friends and school buddies are still in the business. I was well aware of when "no till" farming came on the scene about 15 or 20 years ago. It may have been around well before then but that was when it came to North Alabama. And I am well aware of the fact that it requires a lot of fossil fuel produced herbicides. And that is the point I would like to emphasize.

There is no type of modern day farming that does not require massive fossil fuel input! If fossil fuels disappeared then virtually all fertilizer would disappear. Herbicides would disappear along with defoliants. Mechanical irrigation would also disappear. That is not to mention the heat required for processing and canning.

Fossil fuels are so much a part of our everyday life and many are totally unaware of that fact. But you can be sure that if they were to disappear they would be totally aware of that fact.

Ron P.

And I am well aware of the fact that it requires a lot of fossil fuel produced herbicides. And that is the point I would like to emphasize.

Ron, you have to understand that the "no-till" you are talking about is not at all the "no-till" I would help a farmer design for themselves. If the only change is whether you till or not, you are wasting your time. This is about designing systems, not fields. No till must include cover cropping, heavy mulching, co-planting, succession planting, the use of compost teas, animal inputs, etc.

I repeat, just not tilling is a fool's errand. If one is attempting to do a hundred acres this way, alone or with a skeleton crew, also a fool's errand. We are not just talking about changing the farm, but changing society, and I guarantee you success will mean a lot of people becoming part of the food system and huge farms either going the way of the Dodo, or being worked by some sort of sharecropping/lease arrangement... hopefully fair and equitable. Any given person or family will be very unlikely to be personally working much more than ten, maybe 20 acres, I'd say, and probably a lot closer to five.

If we were to prioritize food and use our allotment of fuels for that purpose, then the numbers can remain somewhat larger - though one of my assumptions is that the profit motive and wealth will likely need to also go extinct.

There is no type of modern day farming that does not require massive fossil fuel input! If fossil fuels disappeared then virtually all fertilizer would disappear. Herbicides would disappear along with defoliants. Mechanical irrigation would also disappear. That is not to mention the heat required for processing and canning.

Yair...Fair enough Ron but there is a lot that can be done. I would remind folks here that I have proved up a rotary production system that could be automated and since we have installed our 2.2Kw P.V. array it is powered by the sun.

We are developing a production system to best utilize the extreme accuracy with which the unit can apply fertilizer and manures to the root zone.

The unit performs all functions required to produce a crop and provides an ideal platform for simple robotics...that is to say spatial positioning is fixed by the mechanical centre pivot and there is no need for autonomous GPS guided robotic jiggers finding their way down rows. It's languishing now through lack of finance.

A link can be provided if anyone is interested.


A link can be provided if anyone is interested.

Scrub Puller, you need to properly close your blockquotes. That requires a / between the < and the word "blockquote" to properly close your blockquote. What you are doing is just opening up another blockquote and nesting one inside the other.

That being said, what is in question is the ability for the world to support seven billion people after the demise of fossil fuel. If you have a link that explains how this can... and will... be done, then we are all interested.

Ron p.

Read any book or watch any video by Bill Mollison or Masanobu Fukuoka, or you could read the recent reports from various agencies, or the mutli-decade longitudinal Rodale study.

It's not like the information hasn't been given you, Ron.

Yair...thanks Ron. I knew I screwed up but I was running out of time so I posted anyway.

I'm not much into computers and I'm wondering if you knowlegable blokes are able to follow a link when browsing the TOD comments and not lose all the blue 'new' tags when returning to this site?

Obviously our poor planet will not support the present population without fossil fuel...we barely do it now. In that context my rotary devise will not make the slightest bit of difference.

HOWEVER. On the down slope it could make a difference to people's lives. I have worked with horses and have trained bullocks to the yoke and can state that this simple electricaly powered jigger is more usefull in small scale agriculture than animal power will ever be.

Unfortunately I have to work to make a living and the development is temporaly in limbo due to lack of time and money.

We are looking to develop a small human powered version using the same principle of leverage to gain a mechanical advantage.

We believe in some applications such a unit could be extremely effective and, with some lateral thinking could be made from bamboo and bicycle wheels.

I can email a full description of the machine and its operation if anyone is interested

Our site has been taken down but the link below will take you to some pictures and comments on another site.


Keep it coming, Scrub.
I think there can be all sorts of great applications and variants on this plan.. high tech and low.


I'm not much into computers and I'm wondering if you knowlegable blokes are able to follow a link when browsing the TOD comments and not lose all the blue 'new' tags when returning to this site?

What I do when I want to follow a link is right-click on the link and select "open in new tab" or "open in new window". Then when I'm finished with the link, I just close that tab or window and I'm back where I was.

It's also helpful to turn off the default option of switching to new tab.

Tools>options>tabs> The last checkbox.

That way you can continue reading for a moment while the new link loads. (Firefox)

Hi Scrub,

If you are looking at human power, check out this latest excellent look at the subject from the Low Tech Magazine

Also, a different, and expensive, way of doing electric farming in Australia - I'm sure you wish you had as many sponsors!


You can right click on links and open to new tab or open to new window to preserve the new tags in the current window.


Yair...thanks folks. I knew it had to be easy.

I have been running an old Imac off line for years working on a novel and I forget about that right button thingy on the PC...apart from some one showed me how use it to post a link.

Hello K

There is a problem in the TOD comments pages code:
When the comments overflow a "Page1 of Comments" onto a "Page2 of Comments", and when the person reading comments looks at a "Page 2 of Comments", then the NEW tags and counter are reset.

I imagine this is from reusing or modifying the PAGE1 of Comments code to make the Page2 of Comments code.


I didn't see any response to these questions, perhaps you didn't see them, so I am re-posting here.

1. A better toy to make the same mistakes with is not a solution: What sorts of inputs are we talking for the fertilizers? Does it matter? Dry or liquid?

2. if you scale this up to global capacity, what resource become an issue? That is, if the materials to make them are not sustainable, the machine is not sustainable. However, if the losses of the machine production can be made up elsewhere, it could still fit in a sustainable system overall. Well, to an extent. Could you make it out of completely recyclable materials? (You said bamboo might work.)

3. Injecting fertilizer, even organic, too intimately to the roots can be a problem. I assume it is adjustable?

Sounds interesting. You might want to check out the work being done here:




They look for innovative ideas to try. Your idea might fit in.

Yair...pri-de. We don't kid ourselves this is a 'save the world' devise.

What we claim is that right now this system will grow crops with less inputs of human labour and energy than any other means. It could even be powered by draught animals which would only have to be trained to walk around the circle and stop and go to voice commands.

The results would be the same. There is no other existing system that would allow for precision agriculture (plus or minus twenty mil.) when working with a mule.

It could be easily adapted to producing compost using electric power instead of diesel. We envisage the material to be composted could be arranged in a circular pile or in a spiral windrow. It can work 24/7 without an operator apart from when shifting to other piles.

On a lighter note...in another life I knew a lady who made good money from topiary...three foot high privet Santa's sold pretty well at Christmas.

Imagine if you will this machine equipped with a small industrial robot with shears programed to shape a Santa or a frog or a cube or a sphere...arranged over two thousand privet bushes in pots set up on a grid.

At minimal cost the unit could trim every day and fertigate and water as required...all very doable but my partner and I must be crazy because it seems that no one else can see the potential

Thanks for the links to opensourceecology, I'll check it out when I have a bit of time

Sounds like fun!

The image of little, tiny, infinitely patient robots working with plants... Replaces herbicides, pesticides, and cuts the grass with little scissors... all day, everyday, and into the nights.


Oops! wrong imaginary image... I got "small" and "simple" confused.

On the other site you speak of an application for image recognition (cameras). A cheat might be to use RFID, Radio Frequency IDentification, tags or anti-theft tags to identify the crop plants. These things are getting cheaper and smaller everyday. They are read by interrogating them with a radio-wave from a reader. The radio-wave powers or excites the tag which then sends back a signal of its own. The signal would say "There is supposed to be a plant here and it is a plant you want." A sort of IFF, Identify Friend or Foe, system. The digital tags can also store all-kinds of information and be updated, like "cookies" from a web-site stored on your computer.

1. A better toy to make the same mistakes with is not a solution: What sorts of inputs are we talking?

2. if you scale this up to global capacity, what resource become an issue? That is, if the materials to make them are not sustainable, the machine is not sustainable. However, if the losses of the machine production can be made up elsewhere, it could still fit in a sustainable system overall. Well, to an extent. Could you make it out of completely recyclable materials?

3. Injecting fertilizer, even organic, too intimately to the roots can be a problem. I assume it is adjustable?

Sounds interesting.

All the no-till "modern" farm techniques generally require some form of fossil-fuel based additive.

This is only accurate if you are working a patch beyond your means, but that is a good illustration of what I try to point out and discourage in the discourse: if you are thinking of simply overlaying regenerative farming over exactly what exists now, you are designing failure, almost certainly. One person can't manage five or ten acres less fossil fuels without draft animals, and then you have to design your system to make them sustainable within your system. This can be done, of course. There are great methods for pasturing that greatly reduce costs and effort. A good indicator as to whether you are designing a regenerative system or not is whether or not it will significantly reduce your effort when mature. if not, you are very unlikely to be designing a regenerative system.

In reality, we are talking about a fairly complete reboot of societal structure. How do you do raw capitalism in a resource-constrained economy? I see no way to do that. How do you grow enough food for everyone resiliently with massive mono-cropping? Can't survive the changes coming. How do you encourage people to have concern for someone they don't know at all? Very difficult. Smaller communities are probably necessary. How do we make politics more responsive if the processes are not made more immediate and removed from the financial system? Can't be done, imo.

I think you can see where this is leading.

Can we still have large, peaceful cities? Caral in Peru says yes. But the larger we get the less connected, and the more dis-eased we get. Since the climate issue means we must power down, we have that hard limit to shape the future to. It is, imo, an incredible opportunity. We can encourage people to change because they must. Not because of ideology or beliefs or wealth or power, but simply because they must. i see my role as trying to make that clear.

Others have already pointed out that most of the world lives at a far lower standard of living than we do, and that on assessments of happiness and contentment, many peoples score much better than we do. Consider a world that runs on such systems as a Commons of some degree, a barter/time bank system, a debtless system, among others. These things are not impossible. I repeat, much of the world lives not a far cry from this now, and certainly not in time.

If we are all here to just shoot the breeze, I see no point in bothering. Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch... what's that getting anyone? Still, i will take from the kvetchers what they offer. Me? Solutions. We know all we need to know to survive this, and even flourish on the other side of the crisis. It's a matter of will (as long as the permafrost and clathrates stay put). If we don't, there will be virtually no humanity left in the end, if any. Not that that is important in and of itself, but, hey, I've got family.

Jobs and the economy cannot be divorced from energy. However, the relationship is not always clear nor is it, I believe a 100% straight line correlation. Clearly there are countries with the same or less unemployment, for example, that use lot less energy. The CIA fact book says the unemployment rate in Cuba is 2%. Most people here would not be able to accept the quality of life or the politics in Cuba but that is another story. The Europeans, of course, manage on a lot less energy per capita.

OECD countries and the Chinese, for that matter, have become more efficient over the years in GDP per unit of energy. GDP has grown but it has required less energy per dollar of growth. That would imply that GDP could be maintained with less energy through efficiency measures.

So, yeh. Simply divorcing energy from jobs and economy would be wrong, although using the term "blathering nonsense" would be a bit extreme. However, to say that we cannot maintain jobs and the economy with reduced energy use is wrong in my opinion.

But this begs the question of what an economy is and what it should be. GDP is throughput and does not necessarily mean welfare or quality of life. Disasters can cause GDP to rise because of the expenditures required. But I would rather spend my money on a new shiny bike rather than a bunch of money fixing my broken furnace.

I am not saying that there is a free lunch. However, there are a lot of different levels of employment that one can get with the same GDP. And one can still have high employment with a very low GDP. Right now we seem to get less employment even though we are growing. Those are structural problems where the money is flowing to the rich and is not trickling down. It is less an energy issue than a reflection of the nature of the economy.

Sure, there are limits to the ability to maintain a decent quality of life with reductions in energy. At some point there will be feedbacks which will cause stagnation. But I don't think we have reached that point.

Further, I would think we could have a dialogue on these issues that did not invoke the term blathering nonsense when referring to another poster. To just write that out with a more detailed rationale seems a bit intemperate and unconvincing.

I will be honest. I do not understand the point of view that neglects factors other than energy in the analysis of the economy. Different societies run differently and are organized differently. There is a better way than exists in most parts of America. At least that is my point of view having lived in Europe where conservation and efficiency are taken more seriously.

That makes no sense.
More jobs would be created by implimenting energy conservation measures that just diggering up more coal, oil and gas which is actually quite easy, though destructive of the environment. It would cost more money to create those jobs but those jobs would boost the overall economy thru the multiplier effect.


The multiplier effect is obviously real because for example military expenditures which do nothing to create useful products does stimulated the economy significantly. Overall the multiplier effect is about $1 or a boost to the economy for every $2 of taxes.

In the case of renewable energy you should know that we are using
very old plants to produce electricity well beyond their life expectancy and no new refineries have been built in the US in decades while half have been closed. Our roads, rail, bridges, etc are also aging. We were supposed to fix these years ago.
We were supposed to spend money on this stuff but Congress gave it away as tax cuts.

So, given the choice that you present of a job for you today or a devastated planet for your grandchildren, you chose the job. Never mind that you've presented a false choice...

So, given the choice that you present of a job for you today or a devastated planet for your grandchildren, you chose the job. Never mind that you've presented a false choice...

Every economic barrel of oil and ton of coal will be produced from the ground and burned. Humanity has never had fuels as useful as fossil fuels, and we never will again. Whether it's burned over the next 50 years or the next 200 is immaterial to the climate in the long term. Either way is really, really bad. But make no mistake: if you impose energy poverty on the West, the East or the South will gladly burn every extra drop. Whether it's my grand-children or my 5-greats-grand-children, does it really matter? What's 150 extra years in the life of a species?

As for the false choice, is anyone else paying attention to the thrust of this website? The whole point is that you can't maintain the society we have when you can't get cheap oil from the ground anymore. Yet I have all sorts of people now trying to tell me that they can double/triple/whatever the price of energy without negatively affecting employment. Those folks are just the other side of the cornucopian coin. One side thinks we can run society on a limitless supply of unicorn farts, the other thinks we can endlessly print money to employ people in monitoring atmospheric unicorn fart levels. Magical thinking either way.

It's sad, but I do agree with you. We are going to see changes, and not good. I keep finding myself hoping that we'll be smart enough to figure out how to make things less miserable, but don't see that we will. I see no way to do it myself. We're going to have all the above, less jobs, more expensive energy and changed climate, there's no way around it. We've used up the cheap energy sources and started the climate change engine.

I may seem like a doomer to you for saying that, but I don't like saying that since I can't fight it, I'll join it. I'm happy with much less than many and have been this way for a long time. I'm finding that as I slow down, life itself is more enjoyable. I'm not going to say that I'll use as much as I can because if I don't, my neighbor will. That's not how I live. That's why I get upset when someone tries to say that Art, Culture, etc. will go away without cheap energy. It's not true.

Jersey, I have stated many times on this list that it does not matter how much coal we burn next year, eventually we will burn it all. And it does not matter how much oil we burn, we will burn it all. Well, we will burn all we can economically extract anyway. That goes for coal, oil and natural gas.

I find it really amusing when people talk about what we must do to stop global warming, or fix the peak oil problem. Truly absurd! We will not do a damn thing except what is required to keep us in the lifestyle we are accustomed to. Then when that becomes impossible, and it will, we will do everything possible to survive. That will mean we will burn every lump of coal and every barrel of oil we can extract from the earth, then we will burn the trees, then we will burn the bushes, then we will burn the rubble left behind by those who did not survive the collapse.

The point I am trying to make is that we do not control anything. The drive have the good life controls us. Then when it becomes obvious that the good life is no longer possible, the drive to survive will still control us.

We will do what is right for the planet as long as it is also what is right for ourselves. Unfortunately it seldom is. The survival of ourselves and our loved ones will always come before the good of the planet.

Ron P.

We are screwing our loved ones, too, especially the grand children. Their survival will be jeopardized by the state of the planet. Well, the planet has been one sweet place during my life time. At least getting old has some advantages since I will not probably the experience the mass dieoff and the planet's uninhabitability.

Look at the upside - the vampires of Investment Banking will suffer the same fate as they were unwilling to walk away from the 70%. A cold comfort to be sure, but why should humanity keep feeding the parasites?

Two hundred years from now, our descendents won't give a rats behind, if some vultures profitted from taking a big cut. But, they will care if we did the right thing and limited the climate damage they will be facing.
Heck, they're angling for the same 70% of any and all economic activity.

Two hundred years from now, our descendents won't give a rats behind, if some vultures profitted from taking a big cut.

Alas, I can't take you up on proving or disproving what you think - I do not plan on being around for 200 more years.

The vampires are playing chicken - and betting that they'll get to keep being a parasite.

I'll stake out its better to remove the parasites.

Starting with an obvious situation of showing their moral bankruptcy on "Carbon Trading".

I'll stake out its better to remove the parasites

On that I heartily agree! We need a Tunisian style housecleaning. But, I don't see that as happening. Maybe if we all got our nes from Al Jazeera instead of corporate owned media?

That will mean we will burn every lump of coal and every barrel of oil we can extract from the earth, then we will burn the trees, then we will burn the bushes, then we will burn the rubble left behind by those who did not survive the collapse.

Ron, I agree. There is no other outcome I can imagine - other than some weird visit from space with knowledge of unlimited energy and utopia, ala Star Trek - and we all know that ain't going to happen.

During the BP spill, I was Born Again to Peak Oil so to speak. I realize time and again how it was we were bestowed with a gift, perhaps another aspect of manifest destiny, that brought the human race forward to what we now take for granted. Pavement, sidewalks, streets, steel construction, trains, amusement parks, Disneyland, cruise lines, suburbs, airplanes, computers, big agriculture, leisure boats, hospitals, modern medicine, longer lives, and cars.

I sometimes wonder, if perhaps, all of this was all meant to be - that Oil is a prize that was left for humans to find, so God in his infinite wisdom and patience could see what we'd do if we'd been given even a smidgen of a power that could if used responsibly create happiness for all people - were the human greed factor removed - only to see that humans are mostly incorrigible animals who'll step on his own brother to enjoy the very thing that Oil makes possible.

Even the very concept of life, as we know it today, is Oil derived - and I am having a hell of a time rearranging how I've always thought of things.

The two-hundred million man army prophesied in Revelations would not be possible to muster, without Oil ...

The point I am trying to make is that we do not control anything. The drive have the good life controls us.

The terrible irony is that it's not a particularly good or fulfilling life.

For an addict, heroin (or take your pick) is the best thing to even come along and he can't imagine doing without it. But if he recognizes his addiction and the harm it is doing to himself and his family, he sometimes goes through the hard process of getting off the stuff. And most of us would reject the notion that it is really impossible for him to live without it.

Addiction language is now common place when referring to oil. If we really and fully recognize ourselves as addicts to fossil fuels and that they are harming ourselves, our kids and our world, we may start to work seriously toward getting off the stuff.

But is will be hard, and of course the pushers keep trying to cloud the collective mind, saying--no, just have one more hit. Don't worry about those silly scientists saying the junk is killing you and your family.

Jobs are being destroyed anyway with oil depletion and governments are printing cash. So what is the point about debt? We pay for a big worthless military. LMAO. What does that do to create long term value in the economy? Not much. Maybe keeps the oil flowing in MENA a little while but at massive costs. So then we ignore solar and go heavy militarization to keep burning fossils. Brilliant energy policy. Oh well.

I no people think Oil is bigger than global warming, but the weather has not been great this last year and I imagine the food system cannot take many more seasons like this. Water is not doing well -- oh well - no need for water. But I also said when Fukushima exploded that they blew radioactivity all over the place and melted down -- plenty came after me to tell me I was crazy. LOL. Nice. Well the climate problem is not improving itself and I stand by my position.

Take an example at some of the European countries. They use about half the energy per capita as the US and still manage to have jobs and a livable society. They also pay about 2 - 3 times as much for energy. Nevertheless for example Germany still manages to have a lot of industry and is the second largest export country in the world, only beaten by China and ahead of the US.

Granted, they still use up way more energy than is feasible in a AGW / Peak Oil world, but it means you can decouple jobs and happiness from energy use.

If the US halved their energy use, that would be a good start. It is also likely that rebuilding America into an energy efficient society would create a lot of jobs in construction, industry and services to achieve this massive feat.

Let's be realistic. The federal politicians of the U.S. don't care about either jobs or AGW. That much is clear. So why argue about it?

The only actions we can take now are at the individual level - maybe local communities, perhaps state and corporate level. But that's it.

It's not fun living in a collapsing society, but it is what it is.

The federal government is beyond redemption.

But in a sense it was completely predictable. The news media only seems interested in trivialities of one sort or another, and the electorate always wants to vote for the guy who promises everyone a pony.

Yeah the weather is not important this year unless you lost your crops. When does something matter? When it affects you and you alone.

Every Republican wrong headed idea gets his attention and acquiescence in the quite possibly hopeless pursuit of reelection.

Absolutely true. Obama went from facing down the Republican positions during his campaign to get elected in the first place, to becoming nothing more than a high profile mediator. He simply slides to the balance point of every issue, rather than having a clear vision and sticking with it. E.G, he was going to get rid of lobbying, close quantanomo, bring the troops home from Afghanistan & Iraq, institute the public option for healthcare and strongly push forward alternative energy, all of which got nixed somewhere along the mediating, appease the GOP line.

Possibly the worse thing he did was re-establish the Bush jr. tax cuts the country couldn't afford in the first place. Now huge cuts must be made in entitlements to cover those tax cuts, most of which are for the wealthy.

There are two Obama's. The one before he got elected (change), and the one in the Oval Office (appeasing mediator).

Bingo. That's Democrats for you.

Why exactly should I vote for them?

As many would suggest, you'd be voting for a candidate of a system of gov't that doesn't work. Moot points.

Democrats, Republicans, Ralph Nader, Ron Paul... who cares?

We really seem to see the world through conditioned lenses, ay?

Possibly the worse thing he did was re-establish the Bush jr. tax cuts the country couldn't afford in the first place. Now huge cuts must be made in entitlements to cover those tax cuts, most of which are for the wealthy.

I'm a Canadian, and I have a clearer vision of US democracy than you. Those tax cuts would not have been re-instated if not for a Republican Congress.

(failed to)institute the public option for healthcare

Considering the backlash to the Healthcare Initiative and the likliehood that this led to the Republican Congress you have now, you should be happy he used his political capitol on something useful, and consider that there is a limit to what a legislative body can do even with a majority. I recently read an article on one of the guiding lights of Canadian Public Healthcare. The writer asked why he hadn't included Dental care in the bill. His somewhat surly reply was that they already had enough trouble with the Medical part, and at the time, they weren't even sure they could manage to get that through. Which is why I have Private Dental Insurance. But I know it could be worse, and I'm not pissed off at those guys who pushed this stuff through 50 years ago.

Ask yourself: if the past three years had been under Bush, would you be better off than you are, or would you be fighting wars in Iran and god knows where? You've got 30 years of Republican stupidity staring you in the face (60 years if you start with Goldwater...this stuff doesn't leap out full grown), and anyone who thinks one man can fix it in 3 years is the same type of fool who thinks you can keep cutting taxes until you don't have to pay any!

Consider: do you claim that a second term for Obama is no better than a Palin administration? It may not look like the volume of change required, but it sure beats going further in the other direction. If you're paddling like mad to keep from going over Niagara Falls, every little victory helps. And I am pretty sure you guys are over the lip and heading down.

If you're paddling like mad to keep from going over Niagara Falls, every little victory helps.

I don't think thats a very good anaology. I saw that river just upstream of the falls as a kid. All paddling will do is buy you a few more seconds....

Re: World Food Supply: What’s To Be Done?

The overall conclusion of the Beddington report is that, to meet rising demand, the world has no choice but to move to a more intensive agriculture, especially in regions where productivity is low today.

That conclusion is FRACTALLY WRONG!!

Aside from the fact that the conclusion is impossible to implement without access to cheap fossil fuels and NPK, it also compounds our problems by allowing human population to continue increasing!

Humans must be the most self delusional creatures in the universe... They just can't seem to grasp what is happening.


Like the growth of the cancer cell until the patient (earth) dies. After that, not so much.

I am at a loss of words. No, I know exactly what to say but that would be censured if I write it down here. Robert Fogel, Nobel Laureate in economics and head of the Center for Population Economics at the University of Chicago's School of Business said in an article by the weakly Canadian Jounral MacLeans, for the week of 20 June 2011:

Ten billion people is only about one third more than today's and we have plenty of land and activities to occupy them. We are not going to run out of food, and we won't run out of factories to employ them.

In the same article the UN says that there are right now 925 Million hungry people and the planet could enter its 6th mass extinction propelled by human activities and raping the earth of natural resource.

I would not be so angry if Fogel was just a misguided journalist but as a Nobel Laureate one would expect a different view. Of course, as an economist, he thinks that the planet is infinite and hence the population can grow to infinity since the resources are also infinite.

Even if we could handle more people, why would we want to? Seems like it would make sense to have as much a margin for error as possible. Kind of like when I go hiking in the National Park and there are people all over the place. Not really why I go there. If I wanted to hang out with lots of people, I would restrict my walking to the city streets or maybe walk up and down a subway car. More people, less other good stuff like all the nice stuff that nature provides. And last time, desertification and destruction of the rain forest marches on. But we have plenty of land as long as we are willing to destroy the last vestiges of natural systems.

Peak oil is only symptom….., growth is the disease…….!

"Peak oil is only symptom….., growth is the disease…….!"

Great quote! Is it yours? Because like to know who I'm going to steal from.

I always thought this was apropos w/geological references

My life's the disease
That could always change
With comparative ease
Just given the chance
My life is the earth
'Twixt muscle and spade
I wait for the worth
Digging for just one chance

Thank you...,

As far as I know it's original....

see above, Echo & the Bunnymen lifted their lyrics from the traditional folklore lament "life is the disease ... death is the cure"

Not even that so much. Growth is a problem that will solve itself, and peak *anything* will happen even in the absense of growth.

Don't ruin my quote

I agree with tstreet here.

Putting aside the question of if we can feed 10 billion people - how exactly does having that many people on Earth actually improve anything? There's no convincing argument.

It's a question of time. Eventually, all of those people would be born anyway, it would just take alot longer. No point compressing it into a very short period of time and calling it progress.

Once again this reveals the utter bankruptcy of modern economics. Focusing only on numbers, they can tell us nothing about quality.

For example, in the U.S., everybody gets obese, and then they need diabetes meds, and the economists call this rising GDP because consumption of food and drugs is going up.

I am at a loss of words. No, I know exactly what to say but that would be censured if I write it down here.

OK, I'll say it for you, "Robert Fogel is a deluded imbecile!" That wasn't so hard, was it?

Picked a quiet spot, here, at 9PM.
For future reference:

How many planets would we need for everyone in the THIRD WORLD (NOT DEVELOPING WORLD), to live like Americans.........?

4, 5, or 6........?

I think the answer is 4 planet earths.

According to www.myfootprint.org it's a little over 6.

The fastest way to bring your total down is to stop flying, reduce or eliminate driving, reduce or eliminate meat and dairy, and get lots of roommates, especially if you don't have a small house. Doing a lot of gardening and getting your electricity from wind or solar helps, too. Mine is down near one now.

Although I agree completely, it really ceases to surprise me when supposedly "intelligent" persons make completely idiotic comments.
I've long since realised that, alleged level of education, achievement or collection of glittering prizes is not any indicator of the level of a person's common sense.

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell"
Edward Abbey

From Albert Bartlett

Thomas Malthus was only wrong on timing..., he could not foresee industrialism

But industrialism feeds on burning hydrocarbons.

(Doesn't necessarily have to, but it does....)

and hydrocarbons would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace with renewable DIFFUSE sources of energy.....

As those depletion curves head into terminal decline, industrialism will begin to starve.....

It's the combination of J-CURVES (growth in population and resource consumption) PLUS, depletion bell-curves, that together will probably make for a very ugly future.....

Thomas Malthus was only wrong on timing..., he could not foresee industrialism

Spot on, thanks for bringing this up.

It has been my observation that this is at the heart of many, if not most of the arguments surrounding finite resources. The cornucopians and other optimists phrase it more forcefully along the lines of

  • "Malthus WAS wrong, he did NOT foresee the power of human ingenuity".

Even now we see that same argument used against peak-oil, which is often conflated with so-called "neo-malthusian" views on population overshoot and resource depletion in general. For example:

  • "The peak-oil crowd is wrong, they are willfully blind to human ingenuity and/or the power of free markets".

Recently I have seen a fascinating new meme popping up in which the neo-malthusian views are being framed as a deliberate conspiracy by wealthy elites and other technocrats to subjugate the world population and otherwise rob people of innate freedoms.

This is the subtext of the "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" video series by Adam Curtis in which WHT's favorite whipping-boy Jay Forrester, in addition to my own personal hero H. T. Odum, are presented as the originators of a vaguely sinister effort to reduce the entirety of the human experience down to a few machine-like cybernetic circuits:

The story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components - cogs - in a system.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

I don't have a link handy, but I recently saw an article in which this meme was presented much more explicitly as a conspiracy in which a group of extremely wealthy mafia-like families directly funded the Club of Rome as a propaganda effort. The goal being, as near as I could tell, to convince the governments of the world to relinquish their sovereignty and subject their people to some sort of totalitarian population control.

How interesting!

We find ourselves deep inside the Malthusian trap, furiously digging ourselves deeper, and yet the people who have warned us about this predicament for decades are coming to be seen not as heroes, or even as wise men and women, but as the villains!

Perhaps the "peak-oil crowd" should take note. The more painful our situation becomes then it would seem the more likely it is that angry and desperate people will start looking for someone to blame.


New Energy Efficiency Standards Should Save Consumers 'Billions'
New regional standards make air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps more efficient

New energy efficiency standards for air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps should save consumers billions of dollars in reduced energy costs, according to a coalition of consumer, manufacturing, and environmental groups.

The new energy efficiency standards just released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) establish the first-ever regional standards for central air conditioners and furnaces, as well as strengthened national standards for heat pumps.


Once the latest updated standards take effect, a typical new air conditioner in the South will use about 40% less energy, and a typical new furnace in the North will use about 20% less than before national standards were established in the late 1980s.

According to DOE’s analysis, the improvements to the air conditioner and heat pump standards announced today will save 156 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over 30 years, or about enough to meet the total electricity needs of all the households in Indiana for three years, while delivering net savings of more than $4.2 billion to U.S. consumers. The new furnace standards will save 31 billion therms of natural gas, or about enough natural gas over 32 years to heat all the homes in New York State for more than 11 years and save consumers $14.5 billion.

See: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2011/06/new-energy-efficiency-stan...

When we bought our Toronto home in 1997, the central air system was a twenty some year old three ton 6.5 SEER model drawing perhaps 5,500-watts. Shortly after taking possession I replaced it with a 13.5 SEER system that effectively cut that in half. Today, some of the more advanced ultra high efficiency systems could conceivably do the same job using about as much power as a pop-up toaster.


The new standards are a step in the right direction, though the real challenge is getting people to retrofit with them.

Here in BC, the combined prov and federal grants are $2k for the ductless mini splits (as part of the energy audits program), but still they are moving slowly.

Given that Site C is costing $7k/kW, and these things cost $3-4k(before any subsidies) to displace 2kW I am not at all convinced that BC is putting its money in the best place...

Change of topic - to your favourite - lighting. What are you doing for replacing T12's these days? I have a possibility for a project on a "parkade" that has 250 twin 4' T12's, magnetic ballasts, run 16hrs a day. Also a public area (lounge) that has (interspersed among T8 lights) 200 35WGU10 halogens - also on 16hrs a day. Good candidates for your Endura LED's?



For what it is worth, I bought an EnduraLED 60-watt replacement bulb at Home Depot today - mainly so I could see for myself how well the things perform, how well the things fit into existing fixtures, and how well I like the color. I had bought a LED PAR30 bulb earlier and while the brightness is excellent and it comes on nearly instantly (maybe a 1-second delay), I wasn't all that happy with the color (too cold - 3000K).

So far with the newer bulb (when off, it has a yellowish color to it), the color is good. And this LED bulb has a shorter time lag when turning it on. So far, so good.

I am no expert in the practicalities of lighting, but a quick googling tells me the following.

A T12 supposedly has 30 lumen / watt [1]
A EnudraLED has 65 lumen / watt [2]
A T5 has 93 lumen / watt [1]

So a T5 fluorescent light wins hands down in efficiency over the LED lights. There are some laboratory LEDs that achieve 100 - 150 lumen / watt, but so far all of the LEDs I have seen one can buy are no better than compact fluorescents, although they may have other properties that make them more desirable in for certain applications (e.g. shape and rapidness of switching)

For a nice overview of efficiency of various lighting methods see Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_efficacy#Lighting_efficiency )

[1] http://www.bestgrowlights.com/plantlighting/growbulbs/fluorescents
[2] http://yopintech.blogspot.com/2011/05/philips-enduraled-a21-17-watt-led-...

I recently replaced some 60 watt incandescent bulbs with 7.5 watt LEDs. They are Utilitech A 19 bulbs giving off 450 lumens. They aren't quite as bright as the 60 watt bulbs but they work for me. I like the color better than the fluorescents that I've tried.

These LEDs come up quickly and they are dimmable. Their estimated life is 25,000 hours!

Hi Paul,

BC Hydro could take note of the BPA's work in this area (see: http://www.nwductless.com/).

With regards to the parkade lighting, assuming these fixtures are in good shape, I would re-lamp/re-ballast with 32-watt T8s and 0.77 BF NEMA Premium instant start ballasts. I'm guessing that the current configuration draws about 80-watts per fixture (i.e., two 34-watt T12s and a standard 0.88 BF magnetic ballast) although being a parking garage they could very well be HO, in which case you'll need to change the tombstones as well. The replacement F32T8s will drop you to 50-watts. Means lumens should come in slightly higher (4,048 for the a F34T12 system versus 4,312 for the F32T8s) and lamp life basically doubles from 20,000 hours to 36,000, so lamp replacement cycles can be extended by two to three years.

At sixteen hours per day, you could expect to save 175 kWh per year, per fixture, or 43,750 kWh/year in all; at $0.06 per kWh, that's a little over $2,600.00 per year in terms of dollar savings, so you're probably looking at a three to four year payback, although the reduction in maintenance costs could shorten that somewhat.

I truly loath GU10s, but if they're mostly decorative in nature and the T8 fluorescents do the bulk of the heavy lifting, then I would replace them with a Philips' 3-watt EnduraLED (note that the 4-watt version is considerably larger in size and may not physically fit your fixtures). Also bear in mind that these lamps are only compatible with leading edge dimmers, so if these fixtures are operated on dimmers, please make sure this won't be an issue.

See: http://download.p4c.philips.com/l4bt/3/333783/enduraled_mr16_gu10_333783...

FWIW, I have replaced 50-watt GU10s with these 3-watt EnduraLEDs and although there's a noticeable drop in light output, the overall results were still more than satisfactory.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/IMG_0104.jpg


Thanks Paul,

You had put me onto the NWductless program before - a really good one. I think the problem here is that no one is aware that ductless units even exist. I have said before that I think BCH should put all their residential power smart efforts and $ into ductless - I think it will achieve more, faster than almost anything else. Like Quebec, there are too many electrical resistance heaters in this province..

Thanks for the advice on the lighting. The "building" in question here is a BC Ferry! Coming back on it from Vancouver yesterday, I was parked on the main truck deck and looked up at all the lights to see all these T12's - I will guess they are the HO ones. I spoke to one of the staff and they suggested I put together a submission to BC Ferries, so I might do just that.

Being on the ferry, they are all powered by diesel generator, so the cost is about 30c/kWh, so we are looking at about $12k for the fluorescents on the vehicle decks. The lounge deck was refurbished a few years ago, hence the T8's and agreed, they provide most of the light, but a surprising number of the halogens are there.

Going from 35 to 3W is another 187kWh/yr/fixture, or about $11k.

They have eight of these large ferries, so that would be about a $200k savings, and 200,000L of fuel oil per year!

I'll have to follow up on this - but getting paid anything for it might be harder ! Still, for that kind of a result, I can volunteer some time for this. 1% of the fuel savings would be a good fee!

Check if there are any special waterproofing/salt resistance requirements. Also any spark safety for a car deck full of fumes. Original build may be ok but regs do change with time and retrofits often have to comply with the latest book. Just some thoughts that struck me. Good luck, also emphasise they don't need to lug all that fuel every trip too.


You're most welcome, Paul. Well, this changes a few things as you can imagine. A 2-lamp F48T12HO fixture driven by an energy saving magnetic ballast draws about 133-watts (0.85 BF) and lamp life generally falls between 10,000 to 12,000 hours. The equivalent F48T8HO with an electronic ballast pulls 98-watts (0.95 BF) and nominal rated lamp life in this case increases to 18,000 hours. In terms of light output, the existing T12 hardware would theoretically supply 5,950 mean (design) lumens whereas the equivalent T8 system would pump out 6,840, or roughly 15 per cent more. Converting two hundred and fifty of these vapour proof fixtures to T8HO would thus cut demand by 8.75 kW and at an average of sixteen hours per day, that works out to be a savings of some 51,100 kWh per year ($15,330.00 @ $0.30 per kWh).

That said, ship power is notoriously "dirty" and I don't honestly know if this would pose a problem for these electronic ballasts (without knowing the actual answer, my guess is that a T12 magnetic ballast would be a little more forgiving). Regrettably, I don't have any experience working with marine-grade lighting systems so my only advice would be to proceed cautiously.

With regards to the BPA, there appears to be some interest in heat pump water heaters as well (see: http://www.bpa.gov/energy/n/HPWH.cfm). I expect both would hold great promise in BC.


Thanks Paul/Naom (I still want to type Naomi!)

The car deck lights (three decks!) all have completely enclosed covers, which must cut down the lighting, I will try to find out exactly what their specs are. Irregardless, it is clear that substantial energy savings can be achieved.

I do recall the 8' T12 HO's I replaced ion the ski resort parkade were 260W, so your 133 sounds about right.

I also recall the resort electrician saying the same thing about magnetic ballasts being more tolerant of power fluctuations. if some power filetring was need, I epxect it would be worth the effort here.

Interesting that we get 15% more light from the T8's, but I suspect the answer will be to have the same number of lamps as exist now, to make the refit simpler.

And, of course, most of the "on-hours" are during the day!

I have also thought that if there was anywhere in BC that would be a good spot for solar panels, the roof of these ferries would be it, as you are displacing diesel electricity. According to the marketing info, this area is just about the sunniest place on earth, though that is like saying you can get a suntan in Britain!

The biggest fuel wast (and i can;t do anything about this) is that while the ferry is docked (20 mins per hour), the engines and screws are still turning to hold the ferry into the dock - they don;t use any lines or magnets or anything, other than the screws, to keep the ferry in place. Literally one third of the engine hours are for while the ferry is standing still!

And with a $120m annual fuel bill, the dock time is probably at least 10-15% of that.

Thanks again, I'll try to nail down the specifics on this and go from there - I'll reference you if this leads somewhere! (though people here hate the thought of being taught anything by east coasters, let alone an Australian!)

Hi Paul,

If these fixtures have opal (white) diffusers, then switching to a clear polycarbonate lens can increase the number of delivered lumens considerably. You may find it easier to sell this in terms of public safety and reduced maintenance -- that the additional light provided by a T8 retrofit will enhance crew and passenger safety, or at least the perception thereof; that the extended lamp life will help lower ongoing maintenance costs; and that upgrading to T8 technology will minimize the risk of a fixture over a staircase or some other critical junction point going completely dark (T12 lamps generally work in pairs, so when one lamp fails its companion can no longer supply light, whereas an electronic T8 ballast is just as happy to drive one good lamp as it is two). The added fuel savings become almost a secondary thought, an "oh, by the way...".

If you can, verify the minimum lux/foot candles for these car decks and borrow a good quality light meter to see if they conform to spec; do this at night, if possible, and at as many points as you can (I presume access to the car decks is prohibited whist the ferry is under way?). If the numbers come in below these requirements, this will help solidify your case; liability lawyers eat this stuff up because, heaven forbid, if someone should slip or fall or be sexually assaulted, BC Ferries can be held partly responsible. Take along a digital camera and catalogue any fixtures that are not working.

Lastly, be prepared to bang your head against the wall because there's a good chance you'll come across some dumb ass (most likely an engineer) who will simply ignore or wave away your recommendations. We audited a maintenance garage for the Department of Transportation and their own internal standards call for a minimum of 500 lux maintained, and our readings came in well below that. After denying that this could be possible, they basically said, "fine, we'll take care of it ourselves" and two years later nothing has changed. A full 80 per cent of the retrofit would have been paid for by us and the remaining 20 per cent could have been repaid over twenty-four months, interest free, on their NSP account, but they chose to kick a gift horse in the mouth.

BTW, you may try contacting a naval architect for the specifics; at a minimum, they should be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck !


Thanks Paul,

Going "into battle" with gov depts always has the risk of being stonewalled, I have been there before with water retrofits.

I agree that the best way to get acceptance is if the retrofit can improve lighting levels while saving energy, and I think this will be the case here.
The diffuser is a slightly milky white - kinda like clear plastic that has been in the sun for years - I have not seen the type before - probably some expensive "marine" thing.
There is full access to the vehicle decks (holds 350 cars!) at all times - it is the ones that go up the BC coast to Prince Rupert where they close of the vehicle deck.

I'll have to work out what is the way to proceed on this.

btw, the main engines are a combined 12,000 hp, so our energy savings are indeed a drop in the fuel tank!

Brazil & Iraq to the Rescue?

BP, which focuses on total petroleum liquids (not counting biofuels), shows Brazil's net oil imports increasing from 0.37 mbpd in 2009 to 0.47 mbpd in 2010*.

For some reason, BP doesn't have a consumption number for Iraq, but using the EIA number for consumption, Iraq's net oil exports fell from 1.81 mbpd in 2009 to 1.72 mbpd in 2010.

So, if we look at the combined rate of change in Brazil + Iraq's net oil exports, they fell from 1.44 mbpd in 2009 to 1.25 mbpd in 2010, a year over year decline rate of 14%/year.

*One of my favorite all time articles from the financial press talks about Brazil taking market share away from OPEC:

April, 2009: OPEC Cuts Thwarted as Brazil, Russia Grab U.S. Market

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- As OPEC nations make their biggest oil production cuts on record, Brazil, Russia and the U.S. are pumping more, threatening to send crude back below $50 a barrel as demand slows. U.S. imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell 818,000 barrels a day, or 14 percent, to 5.02 million in January from a year earlier, according to the latest monthly report from the Energy Department. At the same time, imports from Brazil more than doubled to 397,000 and Russia’s increased almost 10-fold to 157,000, a trend that continued in February and March, according to data from each country. . .

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the state-controlled energy company, said in January that it plans to invest $174.4 billion through 2013 to boost production oil and gas production to the equivalent** of 4.63 million barrels a day by 2015 from 2.40 million in 2008.

**I assume that they are talking about BOE. BP shows total Brazilian petroleum liquids production of 2.02 mbpd in 2009 and 2.14 mbpd in 2010.

However, to give credit where credit is due, Canada once again increased their net oil exports, from 0.94 mbpd in 2009 to 1.16 mbpd in 2010 (latest BP data), and Venezuela showed flat net exports, so after a long period of overall decline, combined net exports from Canada + Venezuela rose from 2.65 mbpd in 2009 to 2.86 mbpd in 2010 (versus about 3.8 mbpd in 1998).

Incidentally, what's interesting about these four oil producing countries is that Iraq and Brazil are the two most commonly cited examples of increasing conventional production, and Canada and Venezuela are the two prime examples of unconventional production. Of course, Chavez has, shall we say, not had a positive impact on the Venezuelan oil industry, but the fact remains that the combined net oil export output from all four countries was flat from 2009 to 2010, at about 4.1 mbpd. To summarize, Brazil is a net oil importer (and their net oil imports increased), Iraq's net oil exports fell, Venezuela's net exports were flat, and Canada showed increasing net oil exports.

WT – Have you seen any comprehensive projection from Petrobras for production start ups for their DW oil? They certainly have proved up huge reserves but, as you know so well, reserves in the ground power nothing but stock prices. We have pretty good handle on the lag time for DW GOM field development (4 to 7 years) and it would seem likely DW Brazil would take at least that long. It seems like a ship yard bottleneck could develop.

Had a chat the other day about the difficulty of projecting a future oil production rate curve. Such a plot is really the composite of existing field decline, future discovery additions and the above ground factors. Folks tend to get into long debates about how much future oil is left to produce. But IMHO those volumes aren’t very pertinent. The billions of bbls of Brazilian oil do nothing for the world economy as long as they're still sitting under 5,000' of water. Obvious the impact will be determined as those reserves reach the bank. In 10 years or so my daughter will be graduating college. I’m very concerned what energy production will look like as she starts her professional career...and the rest of her life. But such a projection requires so many assumptions about some major factors that it’s difficult to take any projection as viable.

Here are some "What If's."

Brazil's consumption increased at 4.5%/year from 2005 to 2010, to a 2010 consumption level of 2.6 mbpd. At a 4.5%/year rate of increase in consumption, they would be consuming 4.1 mbpd in 2020.

Their total petroleum liquids production in 2010 was 2.1 mbpd (all data from BP).

If they wanted to achieve major net oil exporter status by 2020, and be net exporting one mbpd, then based on their current rate of increase in consumption, they would have to increase their production at 8.9%/year, increasing their production from 2.1 mbpd in 2010, to 5.1 mbpd in 2020.

In other words, based on the current rate of increase in consumption, to hit the one mbpd net export mark by 2020, over the next 10 years Brazil would have to add the approximate equivalent of all of Canada's current total petroleum liquids production. As you know, deepwater fields tend to have pretty sharp increases in production, and pretty sharp declines in production too, e.g., the main producing structure in the Thunder Horse complex, the poster child for deepwater GOM exploration. So adding a net three mbpd over a 10 year period from a group of deepwater oil fields would be "challenging."

WT - I agree. On a qualitative basis it difficult to be very optimistic. And that makes me wonder why we haven't seen a detailed quantitative projection. We both know Petrobras has very detailed time lines for drilling, construction and production start ups. Yet I've seen nothing close to such details released. Makes me wonder if, for the sake of their stock price and credit ratings, they're intentionally letting the world assume their cash flow is comimg on sooner then reality will allow.

Petrobras has been doing DW for many years, and if I remember rightly they were the first to produce from 1000m water depth.

Presumably what we're talking about here is the pre-salt fields. There's several problems with these. Firstly, they're in 2000m water; although we can do it, there's limited experience of producing at such depth. Secondly, the wells have to go through 2000m of salt; you guys can tell better than me what that entails. Thirdly, as a result of the foregoing, the CAPEX requirement is colossal.

Petrobras may be able to get their FPSOs reasonably cheap, as the Asian yards are still hungry for work. But us subsea contractors are not desperate for work, nor I think are the drillers, so Petrobras will have to pay through the nose to get their production wells drilled and tied back to the FPSOs.

If Petrobras looks at CAPEX as per the current market, but bases revenue on oil at $40/barrel, as it was only 2 years ago, then it may be difficult to make a solid financial case for developing the pre-salt fields.

If they were my fields, and my billions, I might be inclined to wait a bit and see how the market develops.

Scottie - Actually drilling the salt is no problem at all. In some spots it's only 200 m thick but even at 2,000 m it's not a problem. My last DW GOM well penetrated over 7,000 m of salt and drilled to a total depth of over 11,000 m. More important than the salt thichness the Bz reservoirs are at normal pressure while DW GOM tend to be high pressure and much more difficult/expensive to drill. BTW: my DW GOM well I mentioned above - a $154 million dry hole. Not that they won't drill dry holes off Bz (yes...my well there was a dry hole also) but the geology is much more simple than DW GOM.

And your exactly right, of course, Doing economic analysis on such huge capex projects and having to estimate cash flow so far into the future is very difficult.

Does that mean mud weight is less critical for a Brazilian pre-salt well?

$154 million per well is damned expensive! Because seismic doesn't go through the salt properly, I presume the risk of a dry hole is higher. Even a big operator like Petrobras can't afford too many like that...

Scottie - I wouldn't say less critical (most blow outs have happened in normal pressure sections) but just less complicated. A DW GOM well might take 7 or 8 seperate strings of csg to reach TD. A Bz well might take 3. They can image the section fairly well even under thousands of m of salt. But it's very expensive to acquire this quality. Yep...dry hole risk never goes away. But the little I understand about Bz subsalt geology it's more simple than the GOM. But I don't think the biggest risk reducer (seismic amplitude analysis) is appropriate in DW Bz. This type of analysis can give a direct indication of hydrocarbons being present. Otherwise they are stuck with conventional "geologic implication"...conventional but always riskier.

Yes...expensive dry hole. Maybe part of the reason this company gave up on the DW GOM and sold their entire position out. OTOH finding a field that net's a company $20 billion is a great motivator. LOL

It appears that the EIA and JODI have been using the same data for Brazil, or most of the time anyway.

Brazil crude + condensate production in kb/d.


Ron P.

re the Weakest Link article:

Japan's TEPCO's handling of the nuclear crisis illustrates what happens when corporations are in control of this technology. Similar corporations exist here. The primary purpose of corporations is to make money for the shareholders. Beyond that, everything is secondary - including safety and responsibility. Also, any costs that can be passed off to someone else will be. If government overseers can be bought to look the other way, they will be, usually through a revolving door policy.

When I think of the US's nuclear plants and the corporations that run them, I am reminded of the first generation Ford Pinto and Ford's denying that there was a problem.

So here in the US, we have 104 operating nuclear plants, many of them old and decrepit, run by corporations similar to the ones on Wall Street that brought us the big financial mess, and they are already off the hook beyond a certain dollar figure in case there is an accident (thanks to the Price Anderson Act) and they are totally off the hook as far as nuclear waste disposal. I would say that the US is high on the list to be one of the next countries to go through a nuclear disaster. Wherever you have a corporation running a nuclear plant, you have a problem.

As to the waste - we have no solution. The US is teetering on insolvency. The political right screams to cut government spending and at the same time cut taxes. Yet they want to give the nuclear power industry the green light to build more nukes, and to extend the operating lives of the currently operating ones.

Where is the money going to come from to deal with the wastes? Where will the money come from in case there is another Fukushima-like event, especially one that impacts a major urban center such as New York City, not far from Indian Point?

"Trust us!" the corporations say. I don't think very many people trust TEPCO right now.

Germany is correct to phase this stuff out as soon as possible, and so should we. It may be a logistical nightmare to replace this source of energy, resulting in additional carbon emissions. However, working on this could provide many jobs and boost the economy. It is also much more likely that we will solve this and provide our world with green energy than solving the problem of what to do with our ever increasing pile of nuclear waste.

Japan is stuck with a huge mess called Fukushima. The situation is precarious. A major aftershock in the 8 range could exacerbate the situation and we could lose northern Japan. Do we really want to take similar risks here, or elsewhere?

"Where is the money going to come from to deal with the wastes?"


They have the money, or at least a good downpayment on it. The government refuses to hold up it's end of the contract. Mostly because Harry Reid is from the state that has the chosen disposal site, which is mostly done, by the way.

You know the people that invested in TEPCO. They will pay for their disaster and the risk of building a poorly designed nuclear plant and the poorly implemented disaster recovery plan. The investors are on the hook, right? ;-)

$24 billion isn't that much money in today's terms.Yucca Mountain cost over $100 billion to date and now its simply a big hole in the ground where we poured all of that money. $24 billion will dig a much smaller hole. Also, note that the dollar had more "digging power" (or purchasing power) while Yucca Mountain was being dug than it does now.

If some of the alternative financial pundits are correct in saying that we are headed towards a Weimar-like currency crisis eventually, that $24 billion may be barely enough to buy a few loaves of bread someday!

Harry Reid demonstrates that nobody wants to store this stuff in their back yards. Its always going to be politically impossible. We certainly don't want any of it here in Washington State. We have Hanford and all of its legacy wastes already. In every single state there is an argument against storing it there. But then, they allowed nukes to be built in several of these states.

Harry may have a good point. Nevada has no commercial nuclear reactors. Illinois has 11. See table 937 of http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0937.pdf

Yet Nevada was being asked to store waste from all these other states due to its sparse population and remote geography. But if I was from Nevada, I wouldn't want some other state's garbage.

This is s structurally fundamental flaw in this industry with no answer in site, despite being promised an answer for some generations now. It would seem most prudent to at least not add any more to this waste stream.

Studies make case for natural gas:


Natural gas vehicles are similar to other single fuel fuel vehicles in that they have resistance from the manufacturers and fuel distributors.

Natural gas vehicles will cost more. Auto makers don't like that, nor do auto buyers.

And like electric cars refueling is a big question mark. Since natural gas pipelines are nearly everywhere, many jobs delivering gas to gas stations will eventually be lost.

Oil companies do not wish to lose even one percent of the transportation fuel market and will fight natural gas for cars just as they fight ethanol.

Natural gas may the best solution for now, but anyone who things conversion is going to be a cake walk is dreaming IMO. Vested interests will fight to defend the status quo.

The real market for NG vehicles is in heavy vehicles - trucks, buses and trains.

These vehicles generally do many miles per year than cars, so the conversion costs are paid off faster, and the fuel cost savings are greater
Many of these are fleet vehicles, like city buses, that start and end their day at a home base, which can have one fuelling facility that will be very well used.

In Europe, Iveco (Fiat truck division) has been selling NG trucks for some years now - but they are using liquefied NG.

Volvo Trucks has just released its first dual fuel LNG truck. It uses the the diesel as the pilot injection, and the NG replaces up to 80% of the diesel. However, the truck can still run on 100% diesel.

This system would be ideal for trains too, where the locomotive can simply pull along an LNG tank car - (which are already made).

I have written a bit more on this topic here. The diesel - NG dual fuel system is the way to go for a non fleet vehicle, as NG then becomes a fuel of opportunity, but not necessity

For the ordinary passenger car, the cost is simply not worth it, unless the driver does an extraordinary amount of driving, like more then 30,000km a year.


Looks like Westport is finally doing some research into Locomotive and off road mine trucks. Not sure what has taken them so long as it seemed a logical market to me as these size engines are commonly used in gensets and gas fueled.


x - Valid points for sure but I'll offer one slight modification: "Oil companies do not wish to lose even one percent of the transportation fuel market and will fight natural gas for cars just as they fight ethanol".

Maybe "oil" companies but not the vast majority of energy companies drilling in the US today. I would swap my left thumb to see us rolling 30 or 40 million NG powered vehicles around the country today. The vast majority of both conventional and resource plays left to drill are targeting NG...not oil. The price of NG would easily be 2X to 3X what it is today if consumption were ramped up that much. The public might not be paying much less to drive but at least those $trillions would be staying here and not being shipped overseas. Even more important, a lot of it would end up in my pocket. In the last 25 months I've spent over $200 million drilling in Texas and La. with only $4 million spent on one purely oil objective. All the rest targeted NG and NG/condenstate.

Same reason the oil patch would love to see talks about nuclear plants come to a screaching stop. More NG fired power plants would just add that much more demand and boost NG prices higher. As truly sad it is to see the folks in Japan suffer there is a bright silver lining to that mushroom cloud for domestic NG drillers.

I once again have to agree with Rockman on this one. In first 15 years of my oilfield career which started in the early 1990's I thought that the Gulf of Mexico only had natural gas and oil was a byproduct. In saying that there were still E&P players in the early 1990's that had oil plays trying to flare off the natural gas, because the price for it was so poor as related to the cost of getting it to market.

In the lower 48 many energy companies would love to see natural gas used for transportation fuel.

Oil companies do not wish to lose even one percent of the transportation fuel market and will fight natural gas for cars just as they fight ethanol.

Most oil companies are in the natural gas business, too. They would be more than happy to sell NG fuel to consumers if consumers want to switch to NG fueled cars.

I have worked for oil companies who converted most of their truck fleet to NG. It's not hard for an oil company to do because most oil fields produce NG as a byproduct of oil production, and they have to do something with the NG. They already have all the equipment such as compressors, etc, to handle NG.

The problem for the average consumer is that NG service is not universally available, and the infrastructure does not exist to deliver NG to them everywhere they want to drive. Until that infrastructure is in place, NG fueled vehicles will be a fringe market.

Want an alternative to filling up at the pumps but can't afford an EV? Well, just run your truck on wood!

Good 2 minute video here on CNN about a guy's home built woodgas conversion for his 1960's PU;


He describes the smell of the exhaust as "something like a barbecue"

Related - Firewood in the Fuel Tank

Wake me up when it passes the smog check. The CO emission should be spectacular.

Well, given that he is driving a 1960's truck, I'm sure the CO from the engine on gasoline won't be very good either.

However, an modern engine properly run on woodgas achieves emission that are only marginally worse than the same engine on natural gas. Example study by NREL here

If the truck engine achieved the woodgas CO emissions of the NREL engine, his CO emissions would be 2g/mile, which compares well with the current standard of 4.2 g/mile - so it can be done.

The hydrocarbon emissions, are, of course, virtually zero - something the gasoline engines just can't achieve.


Thanks for posting this. I'm a big fan of woodgas and have lots of information (and parts) but I'm always glad to find more.


You're welcome - what surprised me most about that story is that it was on CNN and not just some local station.

Have you been following what the Berkeley guys at GEK gasifiers are doing?

I have been following woodgas developments for almost a decade, and may have a chance later this year to do a woodgas-electricity project.

It really is not practical for on road vehicles, but for stationary it can be highly optimised.

Interestingly, that story quoted his gasoline mileage as 12mpg (awful!) and his wood mileage as 1 1/4lbs/mile. That works out to 9600btu/mile on gasoline, and with air dry oak at 7000 btu/lb, he is using 8750 btu/mile.

I suspect that the wood consumption is based on steady speed hwy driving and the gasoline consumption is his average between fill ups, so his highway gasoline is probably closer to 15mpg, which would be 7700btu/mile. Still, wood is comparable, which is an achievement in itself, considering you take the "refinery" with you.

No, I hadn't heard of GEK. It looks like a neat system but pricy. I became interested in woodgas when it was first pushed by the Mother Earth News umpteen years ago.

Aside from vehicle fuel, my real interest is power generation. Although I have a large back-up PV system (3.6kW), I still have several back-up generators since the sun isn't always out (as they say). I'm concerned that down the road, the power utility will simply stop repair service to rural areas like mine - and we are the last people on the power line on our road - because of profitability issues.

Thanks again,

Their fully assembled, ready to run system is expensive, at $17k for a complete 10kW unit.

However, they also sell kits, starting at $1800 - bring your own mig welder - this was the original Gasifier Experimenters Kit.

And, if you want to do the whole thing from scratch, they give you the plans for free - for non commercial use.


The advantage being the design has already been built, tested, refined etc, and over 100 of them in use.
Can also be reconfigured for very efficient charcoal production.

Another system that looks good is from Victory Gasworks in Portland Or.
Their Hotwatt is designed to run Honda generators and can also be set up for CHP.

The Hotwatt also looks expensive, but a stainless gasifier will outlast the generators it is running.

Both these operations started out trying the FEMA plans, and various other types, and have each spent years doing their trial and error and have now standardised their respective designs.

If I get to do my 100kW project, I will use the Victory system, but if you are a tinkerer then the GEK is probably the way to go.

I got interested in the whole thing when I came across this 1991 article from Home Power a decade ago- a great write up on the subject;

Which wood be cheaper, running the PU on E85 or running the PU on woodgas from dried corn and corn stover?

Well, given that you can buy baled corn stover for less than $50/ton, which works out to $3/million btu, you can then drive his truck for 2.6c/mile.

If you are making your own ethanol for free and then blending in 15% gasoline (at $4/gal), you can drive for 5c/mile (12mpg)

If you buy E85 then you are paying about 30c/mile.

Wood gas is certainly cheaper than anything else - but very inconvenient - not many people would put up with that part of it.
Except, of course, if there is no gasoline available, in which case wood is what you do to keep driving - which is what the "firewood in the fuel tank" link is about.

Olive pits, Cherry pits, walnut shells....

Is the FEMA design not worth building? A friend of mine has collected the drums, fittings, flex-tubes, and colander. We made a demo of the downdraft principle and ran an engine on wood pellets. He has little time for play and not enough money to just buy one ready-made. He would have more fun building something: he wants to develop those skills.

We had very good luck making producer gas from HDPE and running an engine on that. But, the only HDPE pieces here, amid the thousands of acres of walnut groves, are from the city.


I have read a few accounts from people that have built the FEMA one, and they have all then spent time "improving" it. I know that Ben Peterson, from Victory Gasworks, built one too - actually, he built almost every type he could get plans for in developing the ones he sells.
The GEK guys have a done a lot of experimentation too.

I guess it depends on your objective - if it is to build and experiment and learn, the FEMA one is probably OK. If it is to actually use, I'd go with GEK or Victory, as the experimenting has already been done. The GEK plans are way better than FEMA, it is a step above the junkyard challenge type of stuff, but to end up with a well designed, safe and efficient gasifier is worth it.

As for fuels, I have read (but have not had a gasifier to try this on) that you can add up to 20% other "stuff" to your fuel, like plastics, tyre chop, sump oil, etc. The key thing is to have enough woody material in the fuel that there is a good bed of glowing char to crack all the tars.

I saw those piles of nut shells driving down I-% a couple of years ago and was thinking along these lines.

has done a 50kW gasifier at a walnut farm at Winters, Ca, in a "government sponsored" project. It looks like the sort of thing that is so expensive that it could only be a government project...


Here is a PDF about the walnut farm. The link above was broken.

They conclude that the walnut shells they sold for $20 a ton are worth $150 a ton when used to make syngas.

We quickly and with great laziness tried to run an engine on charcoal like the Japanese and Korean taxis used to. Had too much air leakage which burned up all the CO. But, with such a nice bed of coals going, ran in some used motor oil. This made a very rich gas that burned easy and well. Veggie oil would probably do the same... allowing the running of a gasoline engine on used fry oil directly without having to clean, dry, or filter it, as for a diesel.

The making of the Källe-gasifier
By Torsten Källe
January/February 1942:

"Torsten Källe's charcoal gasifier was somewhat ahead of its time. It was very popular due to its easy maintenance and fuel economy. Some features with this gasifier is perhaps recognized in modern gasification technology; among many things it was a sort of predecessor to what today is called `circulating fluidized bed.' Charcoal gasifiers were generally more popular than wood gasifiers during the producer gas era in Sweden in the days of WW2, even as the wood gasifiers improved in design. Wood gas was cheaper by all means, but charcoal gasifiers were so much easier to handle."

Here is a list of gasifier plants in California:

Sorry, I didn't get the formatting right on that link, but yes, that is the walnut farm, and here is the gasifier company, but I'm guessing you are alrerady familiar with it.


That write up on the Kalle gasifier was about the third article I ever read on gasification, it is a great story, as the Joacim Persson, the translator says, his reasoning and style is quite inspiring.

Another great Swedish article (those Swedes are like the smartest kid in class!) translated by Joacim Persson about the monorator style hopper is here;


it is amazing to think they solved all these problems, in a hurry, in ww2, and yet we are taking forever to get to any level of implementation with these things. The community power one is a good example - a massive setup for a 50kW gasifier - not really much more capacity than the WW2 ones, but far more complex and expensive.

Thanks for the link to the list of Cal biomass plants - there are a lot of steam biomass plants out there. Only three gasifier ones though, including the Dixon farm.

The Cal forests greenhouse project at Etna has been in "development": for several years, don;t know exactly why it is taking so long. A write up about that project is here;


The wood has to be dry...
A whole cottage industry sprang up in WWII making 2X2X2 blocks of dry wood. There were even special matches made for lighting gasifiers.

The appeal of HPDE is that it is basically solid gasoline. All you have to do is cut it into useful chain lengths. A lot of people are making HDPE to liquids. Using HDPE in a producer gas system works, too. The material is dry enough as-is, the role of "tar" is played by paraffinic waxes made of too-long chains, there is little nitrogen content compared to the 60% nitrogen in wood-gas, and there is little ash; just the fillers, pigments, and labels. Clean milk-jug plastic leaves nothing behind.

The wood has tio be dry when it reaches the pyrolysis zone, but it doesn't always have to be dry going into the top of the gasifier - that is what the monorator link above is about - a clever, and very simple, fuel hopper design served to dry out the fuel from the fugitive heat of the gasifier - something the FEMA gasifer does not do.

Also, the GEK gasifer has their add on that uses the exhaust heat of the engine to pre dry the fuel -- not as elegant, but works nonetheless.

For a stationary engine there is so much waste heat the you can dry even green wood (50% moisture) and still have heat left over for other things.

No question about the benefit of plastic, or any oil based material as fuel, then you are effectively doing airless destructive distillation, and so you will always have a much higher btu gas.

Can do this with wood, of course, and have high quality charcoal left behind, but you don't have glowing/burning char to crack the tars. You could do this for the stationary system and use the charcoal for a mobile system.

The easy way to make the blocks of wood - with one of these chippers - makes blocks instead of chips - perfect for gasification, and will air dry very quickly;


Thanks for the chipper link!

I perhaps misread the conclusions:


* The drier fuel, the better gas, regardless if the gasifier is a standard or monorator gasifier.
* A slightly better gas was achieved with the monorator gasifier than with the standard gasifier.
* When using very damp fuel in the standard gasifier, the gas quality dropped more and more, until the gas was completely incombustible and the flame went out in the Junker device, while the monorator still delivered a fully acceptable gas.

But, on reading again, I see that very wet wood can be used.

Thanks again.


They have one of those Laimet chippers at the Cal forests nursery at Etna. Not only do they produce nice blocky bits, but they seem to do so with less hp required than the conventional drum chippers.

Even the smallest main model, the 2HP21-LS, will produce about 20 cu.m/hr with a 30kW motor. If you were gasifiying that 20 cu.m/hr, your electrical output would be about 1MW - so the chipping energy is 3% of output. Pellets, for comparison, use about 8% of their gross energy to produce.

The monorator is a fantastically simple solution to a major problem. The normal problem with wet wood is not only poor energy content of gas, but increased tars. This solves both. On the Fluidyne website they talk about the problem of getting rid of the condensate collected - but the best thing you can do is spray it on farmland - it is full of good stuff (particularly acetic acid and methanol) for soil bugs!

The monorator means that a wood powered vehicle can use any plant material, anywhere, in any state, as fuel - you would think the military might be interested in that. It certainly offers a great solution for farming. It would be possible to have a harvester powered by the straw from the crop it is harvesting!

I used to think that rather than letting that moisture condense, it would be better to heat it (from engine exhaust) and put it into the gasification process. But I think it may better to put it on the soil, and use the engine cooling system and exhaust heat to produce steam - low pressure, 500C steam (counterflow to the exhaust) can then go into the gasifier and will improve the efficiency and convert more CO to H2. You could take it a step further and run the steam through a steam engine first, then re-heat the steam exhaust against the hottest part of the engine exhaust, and put that into the gasifier. Such a combined cycle system would up the electrical output from 20-25% to 30-35% - quite good, but only for stationary systems.
There are complications with steam, but if you stay below 150psi, you do not need the certified steam engineer etc.

It is amazing reading those Swedish papers that they developed this during wartime - the way the paper reads it sounds like a well planned, organised R&D project that any univ/car company would be proud of. To do that today would cost $bns, of course. An interesting anecdote from Tom Reed, one of the veterans of gasification;

While waiting for the institutional wheels to grind, we took matters into our own hands and built a 5 gallon pail gasifier in the alley behind our laboratory. It had a blower and a flair, and we learned more about the basic science of gasification in that zero cost project than we learned from the $6 million project.

That about sums up the problem with a lot of tech development these days - i often think it was better when done on the farm or by well motivated individuals than institutions.

His site is here;

And he is involved in a new venture to make biochar, but, as seems to be the case with any biochar stuff, their equipment is so expensive ($2000/ton) that no farmer can afford to buy the biochar produced.


I'm not sure why it has to be so expensive to just make charcoal, and as long as it is, this solution is useless. We have to do better.

There are a lot of hidden costs in making and selling a product. The engineer sees about 10% of that cost in his field of view. The rest, 90%, is sneaky and hidden. I helped a client with an item that had little in it and sold for over $600 in low volume in a specialty market. One day, a "guest" accountant showed him that the only profit being made was on the shipping cost. So, the GEK selling for a fortune is probably the simple reality of products in low volume.

A driven individual can make things happen and happen quickly. Werner von Braun is a good example. Demystification is a very powerful tool: A lot can be done with a good junk pile to work from and crude tools that are wielded well.

Today, I'm liking the idea of a stationary woodgas electric/heat plant and using the charcoal for mobile engines. But, the ability to use wet wood is a game-changer.

No question about the hidden costs and overheads of product development - costs which the competitors often can avoid. In the case of GEK (and Victory), I think their pricing is actually very good. The kit to put together yourself is a bargain, IMO. The ready to run, with the Kubota engine, electronic monitor, gas sensors etc has to be expensive, as those components are, and I have no problem with that, but still cheap for something that can run on almost anything.

My point about the biochar maker is that you don;t need a lot of fancy tech to make charcoal when you are just flaring the offgas, which they are doing. You do not need to worry about a tar free gas, or constant flowrates/temperature etc, so you should be able to engineer it to be much cheaper.
If they can't, and they have to sell biochar at $2k/ton, then the enterprise is a failure anyway - that is twice the price of the most expensive artificial fertiliser, and more expensive than the retail price of bagged barbecue charcoal. Making charcoal has been around for a long time, and I'm not convinced that they have made a superior product, but certainly a very expensive one. The studies suggest the optimum biochar application is around 10t/ha, so you are looking at $20k per hectare! That will never pay itself off.

So they may have a technical success, like the Tesla is a technical success, but unless they can change something dramatically, it will never be a commercial success, and thus, will not really make any meaningful change to the world.

I do agree with your plan as being a good one - charcoal is a very consistent fuel for a gasifier, will produce very low tar gas, and is lighter than wood. The thing is, the conventional gasifier gasfiies the charcoal too well, and you are left with a fine powder. I think that a good way would if you ran a second train, a "retort" for the charcoal making, and feed the off gas from the retort into your normal gasifier through the air intakes. Then the tars in the off gases are cracked in the gasifier to give you clean engine fuel, and you will have nice chunks of charcoal from the retort. The retort itself can be heated by engine exhaust gas, which at 500C is plenty hot enough - you only need to get the wood to 300-350C and then the charcoal process goes exothermic

While using charcoal would allow for very compact Kalle style gasifiers, it does mean you must have reliable supplies of charcoal - there is something very appealing, in a backwoods way, about being about to stop your vehicle on the side of a road, cut a bunch of branches, dry or otherwise, into chunks, load that in your fuel tank, and drive away! You could easily make a chainsaw sized chipper, that can be powered by the vehicle, to do this!

A plug-in hybrid vehicle, with gasifier-engine in series hybrid configuration would be a good combination. Use electric for short trips where it is not efficient to warm up the gasifier. When you do run the gasifier and engine, they are matched to each other, and both run at a constant rate - much better than lots of varying loads and idling. The 10kW GEK system could (just) power a small vehicle in series hybrid mode, though you would obviously design it differently for a vehicle. But a 15kW engine and matched gasifier could be optimised quite nicely.

Sounds like a perfect project for a compact pickup.

Could equipment that is designed to compress NG be used to compress wood gas as well? I would be interested in a set-up that would let me use the wood gas burner to heat indoor space during the winter, while harvesting and collecting the gas to run out of a tank for vehicle fuel later. Dragging the whole wood burning apparatus around and running it in real time doesn't seem very practical, although on the other hand additional energy would be required to compress and store the gas for later use.

Could equipment that is designed to compress NG be used to compress wood gas as well?

Yes, but NG tends to be a far more uniform product.

Whereas wood gas has liquids-at-room-temp products that range from alcohols to tars and even some Hydrogen gas. So you have to deal with Hydrogen embrittlement and have seals that will work with Tar and alcohols.

While it might be possible to use NG compressors, I doin;t think you would want to do so for safety reasons relating to hydrogen embrittlement.

Properly made woodgas will be tar free, so the liquids aren't really a problem, but the gas mix is. What you have is typically 6% CH4, 25%CO, 20%H2, 5%CO2 and 50% N2. In storage the gases will tend to layer (in fact, they even do this in use, in pipes to the engines), so if you draw from the top, you will be getting a lot of H2, and if you draw from the bottom, a lot of CO2 and N2!

There have been people that have built low pressure storage, in gas bags or floating tanks, and this can run engines overnight etc, but for long term storage, I think the gas is problematic - store it as wood instead.

If you must have a vehicle fuel, you would be better to make methanol from the wood gas and use that. The home power article I linked to above tells you how to do that, but the yield is quite low.

I think the safest and simplest thing is to use the gas as, when and where it is produced. Even though the units can be put on road vehicles I just don't think this is a good move - there are many potential safety problems. Might be a good option for powering farm equipment, where towing a gasifier-trailer, or mounting something on the front of a tractor is no problem.

Here is a guide to carbon monoxide:

It boils at about the same temperature as nitrogen. Too bad.

Table 2: Incompatibility of Materials
Materials to avoid:

●● Some heavy metals (e.g., nickel, iron, chromium) – formation of explosive metal carbonyls

●● Alkali and alkaline earth metals (e.g., sodium, potassium, magnesium) – react to produce salts

●● Aluminum powder – ignition can occur

●● Chlorine – can form phosgene in the presence of light or a charcoal catalyst


Ferritic Steels (e.g. Carbon steels):
Satisfactory but risk of corrosion in presence of CO2 and moisture.

Buthyl (isobutene - isoprene) rubber (IIR):
Acceptable but notable acceleration of the process of ageing.

Chlorofluorocarbons (FKM) (VITON™):
Non recommended, significant swelling.


Ferritic Steels (e.g. Carbon steels):
Satisfactory but risk of embrittlement by hydrogen.

Stainless Steel:
Satisfactory but risk of embrittlement by hydrogen.

Polypropylene (PP):
Acceptable but strong rate of permeation.

Silicone (Q):
Acceptable but strong rate of permeation.

Hydrogen is just so dangerous. Pressure adds to the fun!

Eric and Paul's comments are well founded.

Radiation in Japan: Date City in Fukushima to fit kindergartners and school kids with dosimeters

They're going to fit 3-year-olds with dosimeters.

If the radiation is such a worry, shouldn't they evacuate small children out of the city first? Or are they planning something else?

From Nikkei Shinbun, quoting Kyodo News (6/10/2011):

福島県伊達市は9日、福島第1原発事故で子供がいる親の不安が高まっているとして、市内の小中学校と幼稚園、保育園に通う児童、生徒、園児約8千人全員に小 型線量計を配布すると発表した。7月上旬にも始める方針。福島県内では、町の一部が計画的避難区域となっている川俣町も小中学生と園児1500人全員に近 く線量計を配布する予定。

Date City in Fukushima Prefecture announced on June 9 that they will distribute portable dosimeters to all children in the city's elementary schools and middle schools, kindergartens and nursery schools to calm the fear of the parents of children in school age. There are about 8,000 such children. The program will start in early July. In Fukushima Prefecture, Kawamata-machi will also distribute dosimeters to all of their elementary/middle school children and kindergartners (1,500 children). Part of Kawamata-machi is designated as "planned evacuation zone".

Japan Gov’t tells residents that 20 millisieverts/year is not too high of a limit

The same anxiety has visited the Ishida district in Date city, which borders the Tamano district on the west. On April 10, it was announced that there was a location here where it was predicted residents could have exposure to over 20 millisieverts per year of radiation.

Almost two months later, on June 5, the government's nuclear disaster response headquarters held a conference for residents. They stressed that by international standards, in times of nuclear disaster 20 millisieverts per year is at the bottom of a range (20 to 100 millisieverts per year) of radiation exposure it is recommended to try to limit residents to. However, residents were not satisfied with this explanation.

"Even after radiation over 20 millisieverts per year was found here, you still haven't told the area it should evacuate. Tell us what's dangerous and what isn't," said one resident.

They stressed that by international standards, in times of nuclear disaster 20 millisieverts per year is at the bottom of a range (20 to 100 millisieverts per year) of radiation exposure it is recommended to try to limit residents to.

I'm not quite sure if I should be laughing, or, sobbing, hysterically at that... international standards, in times of nuclear disaster Dang! The George Orwell, is overwhelming in that one.

However, residents were not satisfied with this explanation.

Those evil residents should be locked up for doubting their government, how dare they! Next thing you know they will be demanding things like 'NO MORE NUCLEAR DISASTERS!' We can't have that... just think of what that would do to the F'n international standards, in times of nuclear disaster.

Note to TOD moderators, I'm using ALL my will power not to write EXACTLY what I'm thinking. @#$%&*!!!

One thing that I'm finding amazing is that the Japanese government is subjecting the Japanese people to levels of radiation that even the evil, communist Soviets wouldn't do decades ago.

And then this: Date City in Fukushima To Fit Kindergarteners and School Kids with Dosimeter

Date City in Fukushima Prefecture announced on June 9 that they will distribute portable dosimeters to all children in the city's elementary schools and middle schools, kindergartens and nursery schools to calm the fear of the parents of children in school age. There are about 8,000 such children. The program will start in early July. In Fukushima Prefecture, Kawamata-machi will also distribute dosimeters to all of their elementary/middle school children and kindergartners (1,500 children). Part of Kawamata-machi is designated as "planned evacuation zone".

I agree with the author, who writes:

They're going to fit 3-year-olds with dosimeter.

If the radiation is such a worry, shouldn't they evacuate small children out of the city first? Or are they planning something else?
I wonder who this "radiation advisor" is?

Just goes to show how desperate we've become to keep using these obscene levels of energy.

Not taking care of their plant workers, either: Fukushima workers' exposure tops 650mSV

After analyzing the men's work shifts since the March 11th disaster, the Institute concluded that the man in his 30s was exposed to 678 millisieverts, and the man in his 40s, 643 millisieverts. Internal exposure accounted for more than 80 percent of the figures.

Pogo was right!

They're issuing kids with dosimeters "to reassure parents", and you take this as evidence that they're "subjecting the Japanese people to levels of radiation that even the evil, communist Soviets wouldn't do decades ago"? Surely if the kids come back with the dosimeters blackened and curling up at the edges, the reassurance isn't really going to fly, is it?

You must not have read the part that says:

Date City is adjacent to Iitate-mura, which is designated as "planned evacuation zone". Date City has so-called "hot spots" that show elevated level of radiation, and parents have been asking the city to come up with a system to monitor the radiation exposure for their children.

There are many spots with highly elevated readings and the parents, not the government are requesting these because they don't believe the government. The government is ignoring the high readings and the parents want to know what their children are exposed to.

20 millisieverts is 2 rem for us old-timers. 2 rem per year was the allowable limit for radiation workers (more exactly 5 rem per year not to exceed 2 rem per year average over your age -18.) It was never the limit for the general population, and certainly not for children.

Tell us what's dangerous and what isn't.

Well, right there is the problem. Nobody can exactly tell you that, OK, 4.73mSv/yr (or pick some other number) is not "dangerous", but 4.74mSv/yr is "dangerous". Things are tough all over: life is full of gray areas, and it's not often that bright fiery lights come on in the sky to tell you what you should do.

Well, right there is the problem. Nobody can exactly tell you that, OK, 4.73mSv/yr (or pick some other number) is not "dangerous", but 4.74mSv/yr is "dangerous".

Poppycock! That misses the point by a light year!

Similarly, we can pretend to have a rational discussion about the safety of someone smoking five cigarettes a day for a week vs 40 a day for thirty years and then, state that cigarettes are mostly safe, because some 90 year old, little old lady somewhere, who smoke all her life was killed by a lightning strike rather than lung cancer.

The truth is that cigarette smoking is NOT SAFE! Period. It is a moot point to try and find the EXACT amount that isn't safe for any particular individual.

Any rational person can understand that smoking is DANGEROUS! Unless they are in denial.


Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

Unfortunately, we do not use the precautionary principle. In the U.S. , the burden of proof always is on the person claiming the harm. This is a recipe for a lot of harmed people.

The thing about exposure to radiation is that you have no choice in the matter. You are exposed to radiation from the sky and from the ground just as a part of living on Planet Earth.

The average American is exposed to about 6.2 millisieverts per year, of which about half is from natural sources, and the other half from medical sources (e.g. x-rays).

Selected doses from Wikipedia: Sievert

  • Dose from living near a nuclear power station: 0.0001–0.01 mSv/year
  • Dose from living near a coal-fired power station: 0.0003 mSv/year
  • Dose from sleeping next to a human for 8 hours every night: 0.02 mSv/year
  • Dose for New York-Tokyo flights for airline crew: 9 mSv/year
  • Dose for chest CT scan: 6–18 mSv
  • Dose from smoking 30 cigarettes per day: 13-60 mSv/year **
  • Current average dose limit for nuclear workers: 20 mSv/year
  • Recommended limit for volunteers averting major nuclear escalation: 500 mSv
  • Recommended limit for volunteers rescuing lives or preventing serious injuries: 1000 mSv

**Not only do smokers inhale more radioactive isotopes than the average nuclear plant worker, but cigarette smoke contains a chemical - benzo[α]pyrene - that selectively destroys their natural defenses against cancer. This is why smokers have such high rates of lung cancer, and uranium mines will not employ smokers any more.

See also Background radiation


Radiation exposure doesn't really need 'lights in the sky' given current understanding. Risk is considered proportional to dose and factors are available to estimate the risk. The UK annual dose limit to a member of the public is 1 mSv and to a radiation worker 20 mSv. The 'all mixed together average risk' for someone middle aged is 5% per Sv. That is 1 in 20,000 lifetime risk of cancer per mSv and thus 20 mSv (1 in 1000 per year) is thought to be acceptable upper limit to risk for a worker compared to risks in other industries. Most workers I believe are nearer 1 mSv than 20; especially those in healthcare

The difficulty with the children of course is the number of remaining years and the cumulative risk

In an area with high natural Radon levels a child may receive a several mSv annual dose more than those elsewhere; people go to Cornwall for their holidays in the UK where background radiation levels are high

The advantage of monitoring is that as the risk is cumulative it is possible to be pragmatic and change policy as time goes by. If doses turn out to be 1 mSv or so above background then perhaps the children can stay put a while with their school friends. If they are getting to 5 mSv they ought to be planning a move

I think that compared to to complete unknowns of a reactor emergency, the practicalities of radiation dosimetry and public safety are reasonably straightforward

Of course radiation dosimetry is well known. Who says it's not? What has to be pulled out of thin air is where, exactly, to draw the line on something as starkly binary as evacuating and abandoning everything, or OTOH worrying one's head off about the children. And a line that was drawn somewhat arbitrarily - note the suspiciously round numbers telling us in no uncertain terms, and as usual, that where to draw it is a scientifically-informed guess - by folks in Geneva or New York who had absolutely nothing at stake one way or the other might look different to someone who has something at stake. So my guess is that there will continue to be plenty of histrionic emotional hyperventilation (such as we see elsewhere in this sub-thread) over where to draw the zones, etc., precisely because the risk varies smoothly with the level. The science can estimate how much risk you're taking, but it can't tell you how much to accept since, as with everything else in life that entails risk, which is almost everything at all, it's a matter of taste; and therein lies the rub.

evacuating and abandoning everything

And that choice is the result of what was promised in the 1950's peaceful atom program and not delivered.

Who is to blame for that non-delivery and why?

plenty of histrionic emotional hyperventilation

This link discusses child death rates and ties it to radioactivity from the 2 big failures of Fission Power.

I don't think so, Paul.

I think there are very bright lights on in the sky telling us that we've (or in this case Japan and TEPCO) crossed the line.. I mean just because there is a line, and there is a gray-scale, doesn't mean we don't have prior experience and have a reasonable ability to place that line and not 'Orwell' it into vagaries when the truth is too inconvenient.

Putting your single quotes around 'Dangerous' doesn't actually make it less so. It doesn't mean that some woolly-headed government bureaucrat is merely trying to justify his/her paycheck by issuing a statement about safety levels, pretending that we're just going to have to OBEY until we've reached bureaucratic perfection.

There IS safety information that Japan should be giving her people, and could be, but they are likely realizing that the levels of unsafety and uncertainty about the safety are verging on an existential choice for them.. or for the citizenry. Engineers and Housemoms shouldn't be going out and collecting test samples on the sly because reliable records aren't being either created or shared with them.

Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2 (2006)

Basically says risk starts at zero: No level is safe.

Any additional exposure adds to all those other sources mentioned.

1000 counts per second from roof-drain mud

Little Pu! Propaganda film

Much explanation of the giant catfish theory:

No level is safe but some levels are more damaging than others. The decision to be made is what level of harm and death is acceptable. Not easy but it is and must be done. Further, there are no safe fossil fuels, either, especially coal which also emits radiation.

At the end of the day, how many will die because of Fukushima and when will they die. The more premature the death, the more the damage and the assessed value. The chances of Fukushima happening were probably considered so low that they were not even considered. But what we do going forward. Phase out all nuclear power?

Phase out all nuclear power?

No good plan exists to get Nuclear Power to everyone.

Some Nation States are 'not going to be allowed' to have Nuclear Power - why should some Nation States be allowed and not others?

Okay, y'all...help me with this.

Every day, trains travel between cities. I know this may sound too simple, but I would be VERY pleased to drive a few miles into Knoxville and park and ride a train over to Nashville for a long weekend or week-long visit with my kids who live there. I don't even LIKE driving over there on the ever-increasingly busy and dangerous I-40. Why can't they just start adding a passenger car or two, sell tickets for the "slow train" and see how it goes? I used to ride the slow train between Wilmington, DE., and Philly to go shopping -- free parking, cheap ticket, and nobody smushed my car on the way. Sort of like the Staples EASY button, y'know?

Between Knoxville and Chatt., same thing. Between Knoxville and B'ham or Atlanta or Baton Rouge (my other kid), same thing. Do we really HAVE to spend billions on "lite" or "high speed" super trains before we start using the rails again? My grandmother used to ride the rails all the way from Superior, Wisconsin. to Chattanooga to spend a month or two at the farm with us in summer. Yup, it took awhile. But she was comfortable and well fed and able to sleep on the way. Why is this SO BAD????

It's not clear what you want to "add a passenger car or two" to. If you mean tacking them onto freights as though it were still the 1920s, forget about doing that in any general way under modern regulations - both insurance and FRA. Last time I heard anything on the subject, which was a while ago, you needed a $200,000,000 insurance bond to run an excursion train, if the railroad would even allow it, so there aren't a lot of those any more. And that would be a separate train, never mind mixing passengers with freight on the same one.

Hmm: The issue -

I would be VERY pleased to ... ride a train

The problem does not seem to be one of physics; trains do, indeed run on tracks. Nor economics; most trains lose money. Nor scheduling, infrastructure upkeep, national security, socioeconomics; no, apparently the reason why a train cannot carry passengers is

you needed a $200,000,000 insurance bond

Whenever I read about this sort of inanity all I can say is I am so grateful that I live in a socialist country that has not yet been completely taken over by the lawyers.

Well, yes, that's a typical problem these days. In all countries, there's now a long road between technical and even economic feasibility on the one hand, and social and regulatory feasibility on the other. Every country has an uncontrollably metastasized licence raj these days, although as you correctly imply, the details concerning where the most severe impacts fall vary all over the lot.

On another hand, though: in the real world, it will prove socially impossible simultaneously to indulgently entertain endless glandular fulmination over tiny risks such as we see elsewhere on this thread, and then not have said fulmination, and the regulatory impossibilities it fosters, spill over to trains and everything else. Indeed, it has come to where many US states license interior decorators, presumably since it ought to be at least a misdemeanor to recommend an avocado fridge, since it might injure their eyes.

Anti-business / anti-corporatism per se have never gone over well for long in the USA (quite a number of entire books have been written without really parsing why), and they flopped beyond redemption after after 1989. IMO an easy way to keep them going covertly was to recruit grossly exaggerated "safety" and "environment" histrionics into the fight as a substitute, ultimately bringing us to the "say no to absolutely everything" attitude we are now stuck with on everything to do with materials, energy, and transportation. So it goes.

If we leave room for them, perhaps birds will be the next-most-intelligent tool-users after H. sapiens and primates.

Those damn NZ Keas are the smartest, and most mischievous birds in the world!
They are notorious for attacking cars on the west coast of the South Island, chomping on any rubber bits they can get their beaks around - they completely tore out the windows seals on my car when I was there. The only wildlife protected gang of street vandals in the world!

See David Attenborough's take on them here;

A real case of an animal that is fighting back against car culture!

heh...very cool ! Love it when they fight back.

Bilderberg 2011: For he's a jolly good Rockefeller

Best moment of the day was the arrival of everyone's favourite Bilderberger, Papa Bear himself – the undisputed King of the Club – David Rockefeller.

The big Swiss cheese: David Rockefeller arrives at Bilderberg 2011. Photograph: Freemanfriend

Doesn't he look cute? Although it's a bit naughty of him, going out and about in daylight like that. He knows it's bad for him.

...Spry little David is the last surviving grandson of John D. It was Granddad Rockefeller who famously declared competition a sin, and built one of the world's great fortunes. It was Granddad Rockefeller who warned his Bible class: "Every downfall is traceable directly or indirectly to the victim's good fellowship" – and solemnly advised them: "Don't be a good fellow."

Bilderberg 2011: George Osborne attending as chancellor

Early this morning a Swiss website published a genuine-sounding list of delegates to this year's conference. A couple of names leapt out, both of them Bilderberg alumni: Lord Mandelson (2009) and George Osborne (2006-2009).

On the 2011 delegate list, Osborne appears thus:

Osborne, George, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

...At long last the Treasury Press Office gave me a straight answer, but it wasn't the answer I was expecting: "George Osborne is attending the Bilderberg conference in his official capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer" – and he's coming along "with a number of other international finance ministers." Any Treasury staff? "Probably not more than one."

So – ok – you mean we're paying for Osborne to be here? You mean he's on Treasury business? You mean this is an official summit? You mean he's talking economic policy with the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, the CEO of Airbus, and Russian oligarch Alexey Mordashov, the billionaire CEO of Severstal? And Henry Kissinger? In secret? Behind a police cordon?

Bilderbergers, New World Orders And Conspiracy Theories

The annual Bilderberg Conference will convene this weekend, thus throwing the Internet into a tizzy. One hundred forty or so of the world’s most powerful persons or their proxies, titans from industry, banking, media and a host of nongovernmental organizations, will covertly huddle at a ritzy Swiss resort.

...It is certainly concerning that representatives from Washington, Wall Street and the media will meet with no account of their dealings or details of their plans. Their counterparts from across the North Atlantic will attend too. It reeks of collusion and intrigue. The lack of transparency and potential for concentrated power spurs the imagination, while unsettling the mind. The media, despite some of its most influential personalities participating, will ignore the proceedings.

Italy complains over Bilderberg incident

The Italian embassy in Bern has requested an enquiry into the expulsion of an Italian EU parliamentarian who tried to get into the secret Bilderberg conference.

According to a report by the Italian news agency, Ansa, on Saturday, the Italian foreign ministry has asked Switzerland to name those responsible.

The incident happened on Thursday when Mario Borghezio and another unnamed Italian citizen were stopped by employees of a private security service at the official entrance to the Suvretta House luxury hotel in the Swiss resort of St Moritz, where the conference is being held.

...Ansa reported on Friday that the security agents had “laid violent hands” on the two men. One of them had suffered a nose bleed.

Borghezio announced at a press conference on Friday that he would bring legal charges in connection with the incident.

The highly secretive Bilderberg Group is described as a gathering of the world’s power brokers, which has met every year in a different location since 1954.

Bilderberg 2011: The opposition steps up

With scrutiny comes responsibility, and questions require answers. This will mean the conference changing the way it relates to the world, certainly – they might find it awkward, at first, to exchange CIA snipers for press officers – but I feel, in a sense, relieved for Bilderberg: because once the organization accepts its new status as a serious political meeting – one of the most important summits in the western political calendar – it can start relating to the world in a serious political fashion. It can relax. Normalize. And finally, look us in the eye.

There was a time, not so many years ago, when it was a sign of full-blown crackpottedness even to suggest that such a thing as "Bilderberg" existed. To insist that it was an important international summit, not the figment of a lizard's imagination, was lunacy. It was a meeting, scoffed the scoffers, held by the Loch Ness Monster in Narnia's most luxurious conference centre.

It's easy to dismiss something you don't know about; one can rest contentedly in the solipsism of ignorance: "I don't know about x, therefore x doesn't exist". In fact, I have to employ a similar technique when thinking (or rather, not thinking) about global deforestation. "I'm not thinking about x, therefore x isn't happening". It's the same during sex.

Haven't you all realized by now? Human-caused climate change is happening, the Earth's climate will change in ways that will not benefit human beings, it will probably change at some point in an abrupt non-linear way - and nothing effective will be done about it.

Become as histrionic as you please, or ignore it. It won't matter. Dealing with decades long global changes is not in the human program.

All you say is probably true. But those who have the deepest knowledge of climate change and its causes probably cannot live with themselves if they don't speak out. Maybe they are pissing in the wind and annoying a whole bunch of people in the process, but they gotta make themselves heard.

Hansen cares deeply about what kind of world is children are going to live in. So he is giving the issue one last try and willing to go to jail in the process. Tough patootie if some feel he is being histrionic in the process.


Yes. I have been politically involved with the global warming issue since the end of 04. Honestly, every time I hear the claim that we educators and activists are doing it wrong, I smile (at the persons ignorance). No political force in existence was going to convince most Americans to reject materialism to meet some future threat.

Having said that, democracies are capable of radical action in the face of a clear and present danger. There will come a day when change becomes possible. I am hopeful peak oil can be used to leverage the transition to renewable energy as a step towards a sustainable culture.

So, I have to ask. As negatively as you may feel about Obama, don’t you think any of the Republicans would be tremendously worse.

Daniel – I applaud your passion…little has ever been accomplished without it. And I agree that “democracies are capable of radical action in the face of a clear and present danger” with a modification: clear and present danger to it constituents. No one living today will be adversely impacted by rising sea levels many decades down the road. And offering near term losses due to extreme weather conditions isn’t going to convince very many folks IMHO regardless of the validity: we’ve always had bad weather incidents. But PO will be getting increasing blame for high gasoline prices, unemployment and, in general, the end of BAU. In the eyes of the vast majority this is the clear and present danger. And you are very correct: radical changes will be made…such as building more coal-fired plants and increasing our efforts to “export democracy”…at least to oil exporting countries.

Speaking of which: they are building a new coal-fired power plant on top of my NG field on the Texas coast. Yes, in a state with more wind and solar power than many states combined. In a state with some of the largest reserves of a CLEANER fuel…NG. A far as D’s vs. R’s: the plant just got its final approval from the current administration and will soon begin shipping millions of tons of Illinois coal they’ll be burning for decades. Yes…shipping coal from the land of Lincoln/Obama all the way down to Texas. Would it be worse if the coal were being shipped from an R dominated state? Other than the fact that the MSM wouldn’t ignore such events I see little difference.

No, we are not going to do it for the children. Actually the great grandchildren. “We” are going to do what we need to do for us IMHO. Sad but rather undeniable it seems.

Speaking of which: they are building a new coal-fired power plant on top of my NG field on the Texas coast.

Perhaps its just a ploy and they will convert it to NG in the near future... either that or they're just planning to use our great grandchildren for fuel. Just make sure they are nice and plump, human fat has a lot of BTUs. That would solve a lot of our problems all at once... including letting us continue deluding ourselves into believing that we can continue on the present path. I guess it's all going to boil down (no pun intended) to whether it's the Democrat's or the Republican's great grandchildren who are fatter. BTW, I have a great recipe for barbecued baby. It's from the Independent's cook book.


FM - Won't ever be converted to NG. They have a multi-decade contract to buy Illinois coal. How do you think they got financing and the permit? By their good looks? LOL.

I do understand how much folks hope and pray for some meaningful effort to combat AGW. But we can't ignore the reality. Folks can shake their fists at TPTB and God. And both will ignore them. IMHO if there's any chance to mitigate any of the affects of AGW it will take working inside the system. And I don't really care if some folks find that distasteful. Either compromise and win something or make absolute demands and win nothing.

That they are building a new coal plant doesn't really mean much - it's not being built by wise men visionaries, it's just a product of the existing system doing what it was designed to do. The standard solution applied to every problem whether it's suitable anymore or not. Someday the last coal plant will be built. Maybe it will run for many years before being abandoned, or maybe it will never even get going. Just because it is built should not surprise anyone or have too much read into it.

It's anybody's guess as to what hits first or hardest between climate change, ecosystem collapse, peak oil, or economic or political collapse - or kind of all at once which seems to be the reality. Or how long it will take. It seems like things are moving fast now but then again it's always surprising how much inertia there is. Still, the concept of limits is that you CANNOT continue doing what you used to. So we won't. And it seems like there are an awful lot of limits looming.

Still, the concept of limits is that you CANNOT continue doing what you used to. So we won't. And it seems like there are an awful lot of limits looming.

Perhaps, but then you have the Texan's view of what constitutes American culture, which, BTW, I thought most Texans didn't really want much to be a part of to begin with,(but that's another story)... >;^)

End of an Era: Death of the U.S. Pickup Truck

Comment from a Texan:

This is horsesh*t. This is another Liberal ploy to keep chipping away at the American culture. Well let me tell you Liberals something right now. The pickup truck is an American icon that will NEVER go away, especially here in Texas. Your antics won't work here.

Can't wait to see a Texan, in cowboy boots and a ten gallon hat sitting in a shiny new Chrysler FIAT 500 with a set of Long Horns,adorning it's bonnet, I guess in Texas they don't really call it a bonnet, that would be on a MINI...


The site is worth visiting just for the comments. I especially liked the comments about pickup truck beds and cousins. That is X rated so I guess I can't quote the full comment here.

Good news, everybody!

Bad news, urban cowboys!

SO...high fuels prices are due to 'Liberal antics'?

Maybe Palin has a shot after all!

Perhaps Rick Perry will fly in on his winged white horse and lead the nation in a prayer campaign as President to put an end to this foolishness...he also can send his Commerce Secretary Donald Trump over to OPEC and China with some gumbas and twist their arms into submission to knock their stuff off and go back to facilitating the non-negotiable American way!

Seriously, unless one is a farmer, rancher, or construction worker or something like that...one doesn't need the biggest baddest PU truck with a 9,000 lb towing capacity. What became of the originals smaller Ford Rangers, Chevy LUVs, and B2000s?

Most folks in the city who drive behemoth PU trucks do it for status. Not for cargo-hauling needs.

I had a guy bring me a nice selection of house window examples to examine at my home...in a Geo Metro.

On the other hand, I had a mate in the service who bought super-large PU trucks and achieved a tax write-off of some sort since he owned some farm land in the MidWest and claimed his truck was used a couple of weeks per year to farm...while the majority of the year he was no where near his farm land...he was at various military bases driving around his big 'farm truck'. Sort of like some military folks I knew who claimed AK residency, so they could get their oil check each year...bought giant SUVs/PU Trucks, partially to make the pilgrimage drive every year to their 'home' so they could continue to claim residency. And all these folks I am talking about were staunch Republicans who hated taxes and subsidies...unless it was the AK oil tax and tax process to fund the MIC, which was our teet),and subsidies from their Uncle Sam for their giant 'farm' trucks.

What happened to the small PU truck?


Here's what happened...companies can't make $10-12 thousands duck of profit off the small vehicles.


Chrysler FIAT 500 with a set of Long Horns, adorning it's bonnet..

We'll always have Paris, and there will always be a Dodge RAM.


When driving the sight of Dodge/Ram on the back gave me a conflict as to which was the correct action.


So the lady is wearing buckets on her feet before she gets close to the car? This is not confidence inspiring. Clearly she is expecting something to leak out...

The Sierra Club has advertised the fact that they have been instrumental in prohibiting the construction of dozens of new coal plants over the last few years. Good. Because we should not build any more coal plants. The battle, however, has shifted in part to the export of coal from the West through Bellingham, Wa. to China. This just highlights the probable, but not definite, burning of all coal one way or another even if somehow all construction of new plants was banned in the United States. For that matter, even if all coal plants were phased out somehow, other countries like China would be more than happy to burn U.S. coal and there will be every attempt, including heavy politicking, to make that happen. Obama has already demonstrated that he is in the pocket of the coal companies by recently approving mining of coal leases in Wyoming.

Part of the motivation for issuing more higher mileage standards for vehicles is to cut back on carbon dioxide. These regulations were issued with great fanfare. But the other hand is approving coal leases which will swamp whatever savings in co2 occur because of the higher mileage standards. It could be that Obama cares less about CO2 than he cares about importation of foreign oil.

Another thing that Obama is proud of is the rehabilitation of GM so that they can produce the partially electric volt. All that coal should come in handy to power all those new EVs and PHEVs.

When you are going off a cliff, it is not clear whether or not it makes any difference whether the Republican is driving the car or the Democrat is driving the car. You are just as dead when you reach the bottom.

If someone was holding a gun to Obama's or Salazar's head when these leases were approved, fine. Please tell us who was holding the gun.

In a sense we all held that gun. The psychopaths that make up the elite and their political class wannabes are in it for the same reasons they always are, no surprises there. There will always be situations like for example someone sells coal to Chine to get rich, but China is the enemy of the empire, and in the end there's no way it will let China get that energy, nor from Canada either. Those leases are signed because the empire needs energy and will try to get it no matter what. Until the system collapses and cannot function anymore.

But what has the bigger impact on these issues: the actions of our erstwhile leaders attempting to enrich themselves or the aggregate effect of millions just going about their lives wasting energy? There are always limits for everyone, and if the people revolt due to fuel and food prices and/or social collapse or climate change consequences hit hard then it's likely the goose that lays those golden eggs could get killed in the process. No matter whether they play on the D team or the R team none of them want that and all of them serve the empire.

Just like with this issue of whether oil prices are due to speculators or real shortages, people always want to know if it's the elite ripping us off or if there really is a crisis of some sort - but of course it is both.

Also, from what I can tell the effect of the real limits are building up much faster than is any kind of understanding among the general population.

ts - your last line reminds me of an old joke: a Texas A&M Aggie turns into a domestic terrorist. When cornered he holds his gun to his head and says: "Don't move or I'll shoot".

As you imply: does it really matter who is holding the gun? The result is the same. And as long as the D's and R's are able to continue keeping the country divided between "them and us" it will never matter IMHO. It will always be a draw and the politicians win and the rest of us lose.

I saw this coming so it is not like I am disillusioned. His history with coal interests was well known during the campaign. Besides, here is the tell. During a debate, candidates were asked what they had personally done to cut back on energy use. His answer was that the "was working on replacing the light bulbs" in his house with CFLs. Someone who cares doesn't "work on" replacing light bulbs. He just gets it done in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. For that matter, he could have hired someone to get it done. Perhaps he has a really,really,really big house in Chicago.

Peak oil will almost certainly reach catastrophic proportions before global warming. As much of an activist as I am, I support most of Obama's current choices, we cannot afford a Republican victory. There is this illusion, particularly among Americans, that leaders lead. Politics is the art of the possible precisely because those who implemented policies both unpopular and PAINFUL, ceased to be elected. BAU cannot survive peak oil and the Chinese will use most of what remains (and is exported). Again, there will be a time when change becomes possible, but until then we are primarily educators increasing the percentage who want the right choice. In my opinion, it could have been no other way.

Peak oil will almost certainly reach catastrophic proportions before global warming.

I doubt it. CC is like cancer, or a tsunami. With cancer, you get cancer years, sometimes decades, before it kills you. The tsunami is similar. There's an earthquake or meteor or landslide and anywhere from minutes to hours later, the water runs out, and a few minutes after that you're dead. Unless you run, which you can.

Climate is all about tipping points, which there is rather a too high probability we have already crossed. if so, it's a question of dying from being gut shot or cancer. Either way you are still dead. in the end, climate is worse because it can make the planet uninhabitable. Not much chance of running from it. PO can't even begin to approach that level of calamity.

Ahhhhhh... but the two together...

You can think of ways out of the peak-oil bind, but global warming trumps them.

This would be a very good time for fusion. Power enough to reach 20 billions relatively quickly with American middle-class lifestyles for all while throwing the carbon flow into reverse!

Have a good chuckle...

Most of human science advances on the power of things left forgotten in drawers, hurried clean-ups, and simple neglect.


No one living today will be adversely impacted by rising sea levels many decades down the road. And offering near term losses due to extreme weather conditions isn’t going to convince very many folks IMHO regardless of the validity: we’ve always had bad weather incidents.

Dang, not you, too. Sea level: people are already being misplaced in a number of island and coastal nations. Did you know Thailand is already having to begin the process of finding a solution to Bangkok going under? Are you aware these are non-linear systems and that SLR is speeding up and by some accounts 1 meter of rise could hit closer to mid-century than end of century?

Perhaps you're thinking the rising food prices aren't hurting anyone just yet, and here we are just a decade into the century. When, please do tell, have we had extreme weather to this extent on a global level? We are currently at the limits of grain stores. The extra is gone. You think we have 80 years before that becomes an even bigger issue?


Take a good whiff of your coffee.

pri - You make my point better than I did: take all the worse aspects you offer and tell me how the folks controlling AGW are reacting. Are they decreasing hydrocarbon consumption voluntarily? No...if fact great efforts are being made to stimulate economies which would increase consumption. Are they shutting down coal mining and coal-fired e-plants? No...just the opposite: more countries are signing up long term coal contracts and a one such plant starting up in China every 3 weeks. And as I pointed out, probably the most anti-hydrocarbon president in the history of our country just approved the burning of millions of tons of Illinois coal in Texas. And there’s also serious chatter coming out about the same administration selling millions of bbls of oil from the SPR. But not to alleviate a shortage but to lower prices and thus increase consumption. And this from the leader of our new “Green Generation”.

And this is the current course despite the conditions you describe. There is what we understand as right and wrong. There is the world we wish to see. But there is the reality of our times and we shouldn’t let our visions blind us to these realities. Ignoring their existence only weakens us and our goals IMHO. These conversations always remind me of that scene from the “M.A.S.H.” TV show: Why doesn’t God answer all prayers? He does…just sometimes the answer is no.

I don't expect you to take up my expectations. You have the right to your opinion...your hopes. But so do I. And in another life time I watched friends die for no good reason. Right and wrong had nothing to do with it. Reality didn't care anymore how I felt at that time than how you feel now. But I did mean what I said earlier: hang on to your passion. In the end it may be all you have to comfort yourself.

I wasn't responding to your political/social conclusions. That probability is obviously high, as I have stated many times. I was taking issue with your claim climate is a future problem. It isn't.

Stanford climate scientists forecast permanently hotter summers

The tropics and much of the Northern Hemisphere are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures within the next 20-60 years if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, according to a new climate study by Stanford University scientists….
“According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years,” said the study’s lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh,
That’s from the Stanford release for a new Climatic Change study (PDF here). The study, based on observations and models, finds that most major countries, including the United States, are “likely to face unprecedented climate stresses even with the relatively moderate warming expected over the next half-century.”
As a taste of things to come, much of the United States has just been hit by a monster heat wave. Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate analyzed the data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and found, “U.S. heat records in the first 9 days of June have outnumbered cold records by an eye-popping ratio of 13 to 1" (1,609/124)


I hear you and understand your frustration, but the points you are making are not central to the political argument about current environmental policy. You must already recognize that most typical Americans believe the rise in oil and gas prices is much more serious problem. And for them, as individuals, it is. Look at your list, which of those issues affect the average American. Food price increases of a few percent? How about people who lost jobs, their income drop was 100%. How about the families that put their entire savings into a home they have now lost. What is their biggest problem?

I do not mean to pick on you, but I have this argument all the time with environmentalists who fail to recognize that continental US environmental problems are relatively modest. In my opinion, they destroy the effectiveness of their arguments by claiming modest problems are a serious threat.

For example, perhaps the most egregious (US) violation of environmental ethics is mountain top removal to mine coal. Even that issue is primarily a local concern with some downstream degradation of stream quality.

How about global warming turning the west into desert. There was the dust bowl and there is historic precedent for severe western droughts. Perhaps some ground is being gained by the number of 1 in a 100 year events that have occurred this year, but even that is a trap. Make the claim that strong tornados are increasing and someone will know that over the last 50 years, when increased warming has been most rapid, there has been a steady downward trend in these storms – ahhh global warming decreases intense tornados.

My point is that arguments based on the modest current costs of warming can poison strong arguments about catastrophic medium and long term costs.

As an aside, I think the strongest argument is to state again and again that the scientific basis of global warming is simple freshman physics that has been understood for more than a 100 years. Light is absorbed by the earth and reemitted at a longer wavelength. Because CO2 can adsorb this longer wavelength, the more CO2 the more heat retained by the atmosphere.

Not frustrated, but thanks.

Point: You are discussing the issue wrt discussing things with a skeptic, which I wasn't doing. I was discussing with a non-skeptic the timing issue, not whether CC is happening. I do appreciate you taking the time and making the effort.

What he is failing to appreciate is the simplest point of all: PO is about flow rates, CC is about tipping points. Anyone who thinks one trumps the other is going to make some very maladaptive choices moving forward.

We already are seeing wars, uprisings, hunger, displacement, and on and on, from climate changes. Barring some unusually cold and stable weather the rest of the summer, we will set a new record for Arctic Sea ice mass loss, and with continued trends from this point forward, will see a major new low record for extent, also.

You don't have time for politics. Here are the politics that perhaps you need to understand: we don't have a choice. Good luck finessing that, but I don't see it happening.

Stranger things have happened. Once change starts inconceivable political movement is possible. I fully Understand the issue of tipping points in climate. A book called "A Brain for All Seasons" by Calvin was the impetus for my entry into activism on global warming in 2005. The primary thesis was not just that climate change can be catastrophically rapid, but that this characteristic of climate probably produced the modern human species.

Shortly after that Climate Crash by Cox was published. The book includes some really dramatic description of the first viewing of the Greenland cores that showed the blitzkrieg transition in climate from the Younger Dryas to the Holocene, which seems to have occurred over 3 years.

Unfortunately, use of the tipping point argument is difficult, as one must first acknowledge that climate scientists do not really know what is going to happen. I realize from many posts that you know this topic well and are aware that all indications show change is occurring faster than anticipated. For this reason you must also know the likelihood of catastrophic change in any given year is quite small. Let us hope we do not get unlucky.

The upshot is this:

*We don't have time for PAU (politics as usual)
*the perturbations we are seeing are looking very much to me like the recognizable signal of tipping points described in recent literature (last two years)
*We don't have time for BAU problem-solving - too slow, too influenced by non-germane issues, needs too much consensus

How, then, do we effect change rapidly? Whatever it is, it is not likely to look like anything we've done in the last several hundred years.

I was taking issue with your claim climate is a future problem.

Quoting at length about projections for the future, 20-60 years from now doesn't seem like an effective way to dispute a claim that it's a future issue. Nor does "As a taste of things to come...", since, in context, and with or without the bolding, it merely comes across as: "we just experienced an outlier that we project might be more frequent in the future 20-60 years from now." (After all, it's blindingly reasonable to anticipate a large ratio of heat records to cold records in a region experiencing even a random intense heat wave.)

Indeed, projections are a dime a dozen, so I'll venture a couple too. I project that next winter, this outlier will be offset* in the media (yet again) by a snow-and-ice outlier. That's almost guaranteed since the Earth is so big that on almost any day whatever, one can track down some place experiencing extreme weather. I further project that the tit-for-tat matching of outliers will go on going on until and unless something outlies far enough that it would have been nigh unto impossible under the range of conditions such as has prevailed from, say, Classical Greek times to the mid-to-late 20th century...

* <snark>I further offer the modest proposal that Goldman Sachs or somebody might construct financial derivatives based on hot/cold offsets of this type... modeled possibly on carbon offsets... why not?</snark>

Yes, we need the unequivocal outlier. I think that complete melting of the North Pole in summer will do nicely. Nevertheless, no argument not founded in current reality will change a theology of consumption. This is why peak oil is so important. The market can force changes that Americans would never accept from our political leaders. Far easier to redirect an object in motion than to get motion started in the first place. There will come a time when change is possible.

The same rationalizing approach is happening and will continue to happen with PO. There is zero difference in this regard between PO and CC.

Absolutely pri-de, but peak oil or at least peak oil light is already here. Whether or not the world has reached peak, geometric growth in oil supply is done. Demand destruction has and will continue to occur. No political plan ever conceived could have made the US voluntarily decrease oil use by 2 million barrels a day and yet it just happened. A shift to smaller vehicles is clearly under way. For good or bad, change is coming.

To repeat, i was not talking to a denier, so my point wasn't to convince of anything other than the fact effects are building strongly now. It's interesting that you addressed all content in my post except what i bolded, which was my point to Rock. The rest was just context.

We are not talking about outliers. Go read the article. New highs and new lows are very far out of balance. This is new normal, not outliers.

One term for you: tipping points.

As I posted above, let us hope we get lucky.

Of course the Republicans are worse. But a little bit better isn't good enough.

Anybody know anything about this company? http://www.newskyenergy.com/Technology.html My daughter. recent graduate in physics at MIT, is doing some up front fluff communications for them at a conference in Boston, but they haven't even yet explained what they do.

Anybody know anything about this company?

From the link you provided.

New Sky Energy's revolutionary chemical
technology creates high value renewable
fuel and removes carbon dioxide from the
air or flue gas.

New Sky process captures and converts CO2 into baking soda or other carbonates.
In this inert form, the CO2 is then fixed in building materials, plastics, fabrics, and
many other conventional products.

I'll go out on a limb and say that MIT graduates some pretty good chemical engineers.
So despite not saying much about their process they probably have figured out a way to do what they say.

Will their process have a major impact? Who knows.

I have heard of stuff like this. By using some CO2 that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere, that gets incorporated into their products they can make their product net carbon negative. Supposedly it is also possible to do something like that with a new type of concrete, which over its lifetime absorbs more CO2 from the air than was released in its manufacture. If CO2 gets a price on it, that would incrementally help with the economics. It might be a viable business. And it might incrementally reduce emissions. I doubt there would ever be enough to make a sizeable dent in emissions however.

It's possible but what's the point?

You've got to stop CO2 production, otherwise you're just playing a game of catch-up. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere will be just be used as an excuse to burn more.

There's no stopping it. We will continue to burn all the oil, coal, and gas that we can possibly find, so AGW is baked in until the demise of industrial civilization/population crash.

They have some patent applications and are trying to make money out of them.

I don't think they will ever have a saleable process, but they might continue to attract research funding to work on it for a while.

The chemistry is NaCL + CO2 + H2O + electricity -> NaHCO3 + HCl

The economics is
buy cheap + get paid to remove + buy cheap + buy -> sell cheap if you are lucky or dispose cheap most likely + dispose not so cheap unless you are really lucky

If you get paid enough for taking the CO2 away, you can make it work. However, unless you can actually sell significant amounts of HCl, its not going to be competitive with other ways of taking CO2 away.

(It doesn't have to be NaCl and HCl, but you do have to have a salt and an acid in stoichiometric amounts)

The spread between WTI and Brent at the close yesterday was $19.49. This spread is getting absurd as WTI is actually slightly lighter than Brent.

Oil scene: Widening gap between NYMEX and Brent to haunt markets

Light, sweet crude for July delivery settled $2.64, or 2.6 percent, lower at $99.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange closed 79 cents, or 0.7 percent, lower at $118.78 a barrel.

However, the gap between the world’s two major oil benchmarks, Nymex-traded West Texas Intermediate and Europe’s Brent, widened to a new record. And this is bound to be a concern to the energy markets in the days and the months to come — one could safely project.

I have no idea what this means but I think it a little silly to keep referring to oil "trading at around $100 a barrel" as many of the talking heads on TV are doing. Only the tiny amount of oil out of the Cushing hub is trading that low. Everywhere else in the world it is almost $20 higher including most of the United States.

But I guess we have those damn Wall Street speculators keeping NYMEX prices so low. ;-)

Ron P.

The average non-WTI spot price on the Upstream website is currently about $115. I can't imagine that any producer in their right minds would link to the WTI price, if they didn't have to, so I would think that at this point, at least insofar as the real oil market is concerned, that WTI only applies to around 3% of global production.

I just noticed that the Upstream price was: updated: 08 June 2011 02:40 GMT USD/bbl. Upstream Crude oil spot prices I do wish they were a bit more current. But you are correct the difference between the price of 3 percent of global production and the rest of the world is a little absurd. But this is the perfect time to put those very stupid claims that speculators control the oil price to rest. There is a very good explanation as to why WTI prices are so low:

Why are WTI and Brent Prices so Different?

There are two pipelines (Seaway – 430,000 barrels a day capacity and Capline – 1.2 million barrels a day capacity) bringing oil up from the Gulf to the Midwest. It is really the conflict between the oil coming up from the Gulf and the oil from the North that is leading to excessive crude oil supply for Midwest refineries and the resulting lower price for WTI crude oil at Cushing. Demand for output from the refineries remains high though, so prices for refined products remains high, even as prices for crude oil are low. This mismatch provides an opportunity for refiners to make high profits.

But this is all about the fundamentals, pipelines, refineries and such! Not one word about speculators. How is this possible? Don't these folks know that hedge funds, or speculators of some kind or another are controlling the price of crude oil? How dare they say that fundamentals have anything to do with it. ;-)

Ron P.

Ron - It's even a little more misleading. Last week I spoke with an oil marketing hand in Houston. His group is buying WTI at Cushing and sending it by rail to GC refiners. And surprise surprise: it's not a charity operation. They are selling down here at WTI + transport costs + profit margin. He wouldn’t disclose the volume or markup. But it's probably a safe bet it's not selling for too much below local market price. So some volume of WTI Cushing is being sold to refiners at a price significantly above WTI Cushing prices. I haven’t been able to dig out how much Cushing oil is being transported to GC refiners But it seems obvious that the bigger the spread between WTI and GC crudes the greater the profit margin and thus the greater volume sold at a higher price to the GC refiners.

The free market often finds the way, eh?

A spread of over $19/bbl between WTI and Brent is unsustainable in the long run. The cost of shipping oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast is only about $10/bbl by truck and $6/bbl by train, so at this point it is highly profitable for marketers to buy oil in Cushing and ship to GC refiners. They must be making nearly $13/bbl moving it by train.

The only thing that is inhibiting them in the short term is probably a shortage of railroad tank cars and unloading depots, and that is soluble in the long term by building a lot more tank cars and unloading depots. Until additional pipelines are built between Cushing and the GC, people in Oklahoma and Texas can look forward to seeing a lot more trains carrying crude oil moving down their railroad tracks.

There are about $100 billion worth of new oil sands projects planned or under construction in Canada, and North Dakota production from the Bakken is increasing rapidly as well. US oil demand is flat to declining, so the fundamental supply imbalance will continue until enough pipeline capacity is built to carry that all that new oil to a seaport. The real demand increase is from China and other developing countries, and OPEC is clearly failing to supply it.

Rocky - Thanks for fleshing out the details. I hope folks caught the main point: maybe WTI is selling cheap at Cushing but what volume that is making it to GC refiners isn't. And thus the products aren't being sold cheaper either. If you're a refiner in OK you're fairly happy. GC refiner...not as much.

Yes, it's worthwhile emphasizing that the low price of WTI relative to Brent oil doesn't translate into low prices for American consumers. It goes into the profit margins of the refiners who have access to it. They buy oil at the low Cushing prices, but sell at the same price as the refiners who have to buy higher-priced international oil. As a result, they are making out like bandits.

Thus the habit of the media of quoting WTI prices is highly misleading, because very few Americans can buy fuel based on those prices - particularly in the big coastal or Great lakes cities. Brent would be a much more accurate predictor of the fuel prices they pay.

If they live in landlocked states near the Canadian border which the export pipelines run through, like Montana or Wyoming, then Americans can get a bit of a break on price from their local refineries, but other than that they're out of luck. Montana is the 45th most populous state and Wyoming is 50th.

The biggest states, California and New York, have just about zero access to WTI or Canadian oil. Well, they do run a few tankers of Canadian crude down the coast from Vancouver to California, but it doesn't make much difference to the price at the pumps.

California getting less of its oil from domestic sources

Because of California's geographic position, its mix of oil imports looks far different from the national average. It gets little or no oil from the nation's biggest supplier, Canada, which sends its supplies through pipelines to Washington and the Midwest. And the state gets only 2 percent of its oil from the nation's third-biggest supplier, Mexico....

Saudi Arabia supplies 13 percent of California's oil; Ecuador, 11 percent; Iraq, 9 percent; Brazil, 3 percent; and Angola, 2 percent. Colombia, Oman, Venezuela and Argentina contribute lesser supplies.

...and of course China is outbidding Californians for Saudi oil these days.

Any idea about the volume of WTI oil being shipped to the GC by barge? One would think that such traffic would have slowed or stopped due to the recent flooding of the lower Mississippi...

E. Swanson

Yes, they have started shipping oil from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa by barge down the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the floods on the lower Mississippi are probably having an effect on this, so rail would be better in the short term.

Locomotives seem to do fairly well as long as they don't get more than a foot or two of water over the tracks. Once the electric motors go under, it's game over, though.

Maybe I shouldn't be so negative - we used to operate electric wellhead pumps under six feet of water in the spring floods, so they could always design a locomotive to operate under water.

They'd also need track-inspection vehicles that work under water...

Some of Marc Faber's comments in the Barrons Mid-year Roundtable (apparently not behind a pay wall):


Faber: The global economy is decelerating. After the financial crisis in 2008, it was supported largely by enormous fiscal stimulus and expansionary monetary policies. Now it is losing steam as fiscal stimulus wears out and QE2 comes to an end. There will be many more QEs, but not right away.

An economy is like the human body. There are periods when rest is required. In economic terms, that is a recession. Also, if you lived beyond your means by borrowing, you need a period of deleveraging. That has happened in the U.S. only in the corporate and household sectors. Private borrowing has been replaced by government borrowing, which means the overall level of debt hasn't been reduced. That needs to happen. The U.S. needs to cut entitlement spending meaningfully. It would be best to impose a flat tax and cut government expenditures by 50%. A severe depression ensued when communist countries embraced capitalism. A major readjustment won't happen in America unless there is a devastating crisis.

let me guess ... Mr. Faber doesn't depend on social security, medicare, or food stamps.

Maybe he will volunteer to cut his income by 50%. After all, it is so cleansing. He'll be much better off after delveraging, promise. I am on board for everyone else making the necessary sacrifices to make my life better.

promise. I am on board for everyone else making the necessary sacrifices to make my life better.

Probably the biggest group of sacrificees, are those just entering the workforce. But new college grads don't tend to vote in large numbers, so the politicians can ignore and/or bamboozle them.

To openly advocate a position that amounts to creative destruction is to admit one has fallen off the edge of reason.

"let me guess ... Mr. Faber doesn't depend on social security, medicare, or food stamps"

Yeah what a slacker!

Also from the Barrons' interview:

Faber: The world has a dual economy. In the economy of the super-rich, Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Ferraris and Porsches sit in front of fancy hotels. Quantitative easing has had a huge impact on this economy, as the people who own equities and commodities have done very well. . . At the same time, the economy of the workers and lower middle class is doing very badly. Wage increases don't match cost-of-living increases.

Here in the US we have a small number of producers, providing essential goods & services, with a huge portion of the economy dependent on discretionary spending. As I outlined four years ago in my "ELP Plan" essay, the discretionary side of the economy is in a long term contraction mode, given the reality of constrained resources.

I would classify Faber as a hard core realist. The reality facing the US, and most developed countries, is that we cannot afford our current level of government spending. To quote Ayn Rand, "One can evade reality, but one cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."

is that we cannot afford our current level of government spending.

We could afford the current level, if we were willing to raise revenues via taxation. Gov spending is roughly flat, but revenues keep being cut back. We became a world beating economy, by running a mixed economy. But the owners of big wealth, want to push our system back to the days of the robber barrons (with themselves as the barrons).

I've been reading the Oil Drum for awhile and when I saw your comment I had to register.

You don't think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't impacted public spending while the Bush tax cuts that are ongoing for millionaires and billionaires haven't denied the government necessary revenue? How about the estate tax being reduced to the second lowest level in American history? I have to say I'm rather surprised by your comment in light of your past comments. Don't tell me you too are being taken in by the disinformation coming out of Washington, DC and the financial industry.

65% of the Bush tax cuts benefited the top fifth of earners. The top 1% of earners received 38% of the Bush tax cuts.

From 2001 through 2010, the cuts added $2.6 trillion to the public debt, nearly 50% of the total debt accrued during this period.

The Bush tax cuts were and are just a money grab by the wealthiest in the country. What else is there to expect from a family in the top 1% of earners in the country.

More info at:


For a current estimate of the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan, see:


Iraq: about $780 billion
Afghanistan: about $420 billion

What's a few billion here or there.

I hope you don't take my comments the wrong way. Your work on Peak Oil has been invaluable and no doubt requires some courage given you work in the oil industry and live in Texas. I'd like to think I would be as honest and straightforward in similar circumstances.

I voted for Obama, but unfortunately neither major political party is addressing resource limits in any meaningful way, and IMO anyone who thinks that we can maintain anything like current government spending, given the reality of constrained global net oil exports, is in more denial than the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd.

"... unfortunately neither major political party is addressing resource limits in any meaningful way"


"anyone who thinks that we can maintain anything like current government spending, given the reality of constrained global net oil exports, is in more denial than the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd."

Agreed again. I didn't mean to suggest the US can tax its way out of its problems. An analogy I would use for the US is people stranded on a lifeboat in the ocean with a limited amount of fresh water. A few people are drinking 4, 5 or 6 times the standard water ration everyone else is drinking. The final outcome won't change, but an injustice is being perpetrated.

Let's cut military spending to 200 billion per year total. That will save something like 1300 billion per year.

If I am remembering correctly Marc Faber owns an island and the road to it has a draw bridge.

...now I know what I know I don't blame him. If I had a drawbridge, it would already be in a permanent "up" position.

I have not heard one Tea Party life form, and almost no Republicans, question the size and expenditures/costs, and assaults on U.S. citizen's liberties from the new, improved, post-9/11 military Industrial Complex.

From the 4-page article, '100% scared':


The National Security Complex has, in fact, grown fat by relentlessly pursuing the promise of making the country totally secure from terrorism, even as life grows ever less secure for so many Americans when it comes to jobs, homes, finances, and other crucial matters. It is on this pledge of protection that the Complex has managed to extort the tidal flow of funds that have allowed it to bloat to monumental proportions, end up with a yearly national security budget of more than $1.2 trillion, find itself encased in a cocoon of self-protective secrecy, and be 100% assured that its officials will never be brought to justice for any potential crimes they may commit in their “war” on terrorism.

Right now, even in the worst of economic times, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and the sprawling labyrinth of competing bureaucracies that likes to call itself the U.S. Intelligence Community are all still expanding. And around them have grown up, or grown ever stronger, various complexes (à la "military-industrial complex") with their associated lobbyists, allied former politicians, and retired national security state officials, as well as retired generals and admirals, in an atmosphere that, since 2001, can only be described as boomtown-like, the modern equivalent of a gold rush.

The one lone exception (someone who has advocated decreasing MIC spending) I have heard of from the Republicans is Ron Paul.

Just as heinous...the Democrats seem to be almost as lock-step on-board with not bringing up any tiny level of MIC cuts...

Cut the MIC 50%, then cut Medicare and Social Security 25%, then repeal the Bush tax cuts...then we would be serious about dealing with Government spending.

Obviously military spending is another third rail, more sacrosanct that social security. Whatever happened to zero based budgeting? Just shows how old I am. Start at zero and tell me why we spend each penny thereafter. There is no fundamental debate on, for example, whether or not we should have an empire. And what is that empire doing for us? And then there is the out of control monster called Homeland Security. Our security apparatus is out of control, unmonitored, duplicative, and insane. We needed this monster apparatus to get OBL? And then there are all the $100 K plus truck drivers and the general obscenity of all the contracting out that ramped up during Bush and has not been touched by Obama.

At least with social security and medicare, it's pretty straight forward. Providing money to people for basic needs is not hard to understand. But there is no one who understands or cares to understand the defense budget except those who are profiting off this out of control monster.

No. Cut The National Security Complex, not just DoD in half for starters and then have them justify the rest line by line. Congress has the time since they are doing nothing else these days except maybe tweeting weenies. Restore the Bush cuts and then come and talk about medicare and social security. And then go back and institute single payer and bypass the middle men thus savings billions in the process for the same level of care.

Other possible exceptions to Ron Paul are Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders. There may be others.

Since 9/11, things have become more outrageous but they have been outrageous ever since the end of the cold war and certainly corrupt going back to post World War II. Eisenhower would be too liberal for the Democratic Party, much less the Republican party these days.

It isn't necessarily about sacrifice, it is about starting to do what makes sense, what actually makes sense for the security and welfare of the people. But because we cannot rationally evaluate what we are doing, we come up with these across the board approaches that don't honor the fact that certain programs make sense.

It is hard to have an intelligent conversation with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh screaming at the top of their lungs.

Get the media out of corporate hands.

Unfortunately, I fear that all this "hacker" news is posturing towards taking the internet away "for our own good".

Whatever happened to zero based budgeting?

It had two problems:
(1) Sociopolitical: it originated with, or at least was popularized, by Jimmy Carter, who came to be seen as a nice guy, but was also seen by many as laughably ineffectual.
(2) Practical: the Feds, who are the subject here, have their tentacles slithering and prying into not just micromanaging, but nanomanaging everything, and that's not limited to the Homeland Security octopus (or is it centipus), it's everywhere. So if some committee ever undertook to examine it all from zero on up, the Sun would reach the helium-burning stage and the job still wouldn't be done.

Somewhere up there someone was taking about reducing air conditioning costs. The way to reduce costs is lower the head pressure on the compressor. Now there is evaporated water that runs out of the evaporator and in you run a pipe to the condensor and let this run over the condensor the head pressure of the compressor will be reduced. The more distilled water you run over the condensor the more cooling. Of course this needs to be distilled water or the coils will get plugged with crud from the tap water.

I'm not such why the air conditioning manufacturers don't do this now since the cost of power is so high.

I'm not such why the air conditioning manufacturers don't do this now

Because you are asking end users to do something they don't have to do with others makers. And has a consumable - distilled water.

Many window units evap the condensate over the condenser, but the delta T's on these things are criminal. Who's going to buy a unit that's half capacity for same price, that is efficient and will last? Real gain would be a variable or even a simple 2 speed compressor. But wait, many new AC units have AL coils, time for landfill/recycle cartel on any crack. Just finished tearing ductwork out of a house, Absolute nightmare, better to watch vampire movies. I will never sleep in a house with ductwork again. Splits have changed everything, Did I see a stat like 90% of new Global AC Installs are ductless. Perhaps this is a contribution for unemployment blip, much to the chagrin to Installers. Friends don't let friends tolerate grid draining ducted AC/HP units. The Fujitsu 12RLS has a dry mode, Holds evap coil temp below dew point, jets a constant stream of H2O this time of year, I'm piping to a tank as a water source, may save 25K in drilling a well. Maybe I'll have to filter the dust out to control algae since the water is part of the air purification.

water a garden with the unfiltered water?

I'd have an issue wit pumping the water up 20'.


Somewhere up there someone was taking about reducing air conditioning costs. The way to reduce costs is lower the head pressure on the compressor.

This helps as well, no water required either...The hotter the sun the more efficiently it works.


While the idea definitely has promise, I would be reluctant to put one in until I could find someone local that could service the thing.

Welcome news for those of us on the receiving end of this stuff:

New EPA Rules May Give Eastern US a Breath of Fresh Air

American Electric Power (AEP), the largest power-producing utility in the US, may retire a quarter of its fleet of coal plants by 2014, in a move that marks a major shift to cleaner energy sources. The tentative decision to retire or replace more than 7,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity comes as AEP gets ready to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations which Congress ordered the agency to develop years ago. If AEP makes good on its promises, it will dramatically improve air quality and reduce illness due to pollution over a vast section of the United States.

“If AEP follows through with this plan,” said Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign Friday, “then it will join a growing list of utilities including TVA, Dominion, and TransAlta that have come to the same conclusion: coal has become an increasingly poor investment.” Hitt went on to say that, “The coal plants targeted for phase-out lack modern pollution controls and contribute to thousands of premature deaths, asthma attacks and heart attacks every year.”

See: http://greenanswers.com/news/243422/new-epa-rules-may-give-eastern-us-br...


TEPCO forced to review reactor 4 cooling plan

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been forced to reconsider its plan to cool the spent fuel storage pool of the No.4 reactor.

Water injection from a special vehicle has not been intense enough to cool the water in the pool, allowing the temperature to remain at more than 80 degrees Celsius.

...On Friday, workers entered the 4th floor of the No.4 reactor building where the pool is located for the first time since the nuclear disaster took place.

They found a large hole in a wall created by the March 15th explosion. They also discovered that a nearby pipe necessary for the cooling system had been mangled.

TEPCO says the repair team found it hard to work near the pool as equipment had been destroyed and debris was scattered on the floor.

Has this been posted already on previous DrunBeats?


But not all were pleased.One blogger started out jubilant . . .

Yay! Energy problems solved! We can tell those OPEC thieves to go KISS OUR GRITS!

Then ended on a more sober note after noticing that the find amounts to only a month's supply of oil (37 days based on 2010 Energy Information Administration figures).

Anyone got a horse (with buggy) we can buy? Cheap.

And then there is this:


GE Combines Natural Gas, Wind, and Solar

The hybrid plant could be the cheapest and easiest way to add renewable energy to the grid.

and this:


Startup's Battery Could Provide Cheaper Grid Storage

The key is a modular design, which could make the technology practical as a way to keep the grid stable and reduce electricity costs.



I think that eSolar has been discussed here before...


I would rather subsidize trying out these and other terrestrial (/not/ space power) ideas with about half the money we now spend on the Military Industrial Complex.
Numerous interesting ideas...will any of them scale up t widespread usage?


Do not fall for GE and MIT's marketing, the "hybrid" solar, wind and gas system is basically a gas system with marginal inputs from solar and wind.
they very carefully stayed away from giving the relative amounts produced from each. I suspect it would be 70% NBG, 20 % wind and 10% solar, at best.

Keep in mind that MIT is a place that depends on getting funding for "new' ideas, and there are many that have never made commercialisation. I expect if we could see a plot of the number of "ideas" they announce v. the number that make it to market, the ideas are increasing and market is decreasing. They et funded for bright ideas not successes, and this GE thing is a case of tacking on seemingly bright ideas, to an existing profitable venture (gas turbines) to leverage more funding/investment.

Same with the flow battery $500/kWh is more than I can buy lithium batteries for a DIY EV! At 10c/kWh profit from offpeak charge/peak discharge, it would take 13.7 years to recover the battery cost - do you think that is a good investment?

It would seem the purpose of MIT review is simply to make people think they are the place to invest $$$, not whether you (or the American people) will ever get a return on those $$$.


Thank you for the great information.

I am guilty of harboring a small amount of hopefulness, sometimes...wrt the flow batteries and other such currently-expensive ideas, there is perhaps some chance of certain technologies to come down in price given further development, and especially if subsidized over the early adopter hump into the arena of large-scale manufacturing, and the economies of scale which may come with that.

Part of this 'hope' is to envision a day when NG and coal are no longer in the abundances we have today, and the day when the price for energy rises commensurately. The result will not be BAU, but a power-downsized lifestyle...not only achieved by greater energy use efficiency, but a zero-population-growth humanity, and doing less with less energy.

One of the major predicted consequences of the end of cheap FF energy is that most undertakings in the economy will have lower ROIs than today. The irrational exuberance (wrt rates of return)of the investor class (and all the middle-class wannabees who sheepled along, and still do) will be transformed through experience into 'new normal' lowered expectations.

I have limits to my hopefulness...I am not seduced by the siren songs of cold fusion nor space-based solar power.

It will be an interesting ride...at this point I would like to see a Palin/Bachmann ticket win...or a Ron Paul for that matter...I would be interested to see what ideas they can offer and nurture into fruition. Maybe Paul/Bachmann, with Palin as Secretary the newly combined/downsized Department of the Interior, Energy, and Homeland Security? :/

I suspect their turbine is a bit greener than you make it out to be. They see that the market for NG turbines, wants to be able to turn them on/off, and have decent ramp rates when they do. All that supports their wind and solar busineses as well. They are quite big in wind, and are making strategic investments in solar, including Alta Devices, which claims it will be producing 30% efficient panels at $.50/watt. Now I agree, the PR is mostly greenwashing. But the economics for most of their customers means they want those features, which also make the turbines a good match to renewables.

No question that GE is right into wind and solar - it's all good business for them.

Clearly GE sees a great market for their turbines with all these renewables, and they have just launched a new combined cycle system that has the fast ramp times of open cycle, so you can get high efficiency from peaking units - this is a good development for sure.

In fact, the beauty of lots of renewable for GE is that you get to sell two systems - the renewable, and the GT to back them up.
And then they get to sell "smart meters", and now they are trying to convince people/governments that we need a "smart grid", so they can sell even more stuff. This despite the fact that there is no clear definition of what the smart grid actually is or does.

I guess it is the greenwashing that really gets my goat up, because many people, especially politicians, are unable to see through it.

Have some Arsenic with your chicken?


Note the part describing how chicken manure is made into fertilizer and spread over crop fields, so vegetarians don't get to miss out on the fun...

Have some arsenic with your electricity from coal?



Arsenic, Mercury, etc...even if it is scrubbed from the flue, it is in the fly ash and the flue capture waste and it can be introduced into local water tables that way...

Just to keep it in perspective, shellfish is loaded with arsenic too. Back in my mining days we used to get a notice a couple of weeks before the annual heavy metal screening to please abstain from shellfish until after the test.

Also, there is this;

"The interaction between arsenic and zinc apparently was noncompetitive. When dietary zinc was 40 microgram/g, arsenic-deprived chicks exhibited depressed growth and elevated hematocrits. In zinc deficiency, growth was more markedly depressed and hematocrits more markedly elevated in arsenic-supplemented than in arsenic-deficient chicks. Arsenic might be necessary for the efficient utilization or metabolism of zinc."


Arsenic may not be good for humans, but it may well be a trace element for poultry. Or other species.


" In animal studies testing this hypothesis, it was shown that arsenic deprivation reduces the hepatic concentration of S-adenosylmethionine. Additionally, arsenic status affects DNA methylation in animal and cell culture models; very low or high doses of arsenic, compared with control amounts, result in an apparent hypomethylation of DNA."

"These results show that compared to controlled amounts, having too little or too much arsenic in the diet is harmful. That is, there is an amount of dietary arsenic that is not only not harmful, but beneficial."

Pardon my dust -- I was just slogging through the last Fukushima Daiichi thread & noticed a couple of posters saying that temperature & pressure data isn't available. It's closed for comments, hopefully this is the right place to put it.... I just wanted to put these on the record, with a couple of tags for Google to find, cos it always takes me a few minutes to find them again (yeah my browser bookmarks file is 14 years old and so crufty it's not much use!):

Fukushima reactor data chart graph pressure temperature


There's also some stuff at TEPCO, though it's not exactly bang up to date and even Google Translate can't read between the lines:

Hmmmm poking around there just found this, dated May 18th:


Sr-89, 90 has been detected, and the impact of this incident is considered."

Strontium-90? That would be quite bad, wouldn't it?

TEPCO published pressures, temperature and water levels are all unreliable and suspect. For example reactor 1 has been at atmospheric pressure since the incident but TEPCO continued to report data showing it pressurised they surely knew to be false, as if it was real, for months.

Similarly TEPCO reported water levels from broken sensors relative to fuel rods which were no longer there even though their simulations would have told them what had really happened

Interesting that TEPCO have just admitted they censored earlier tests. Here is the updated report for sampling on May 18th now showing Strontium isotopes as you pointed out.


We conducted nuclide analyses (strontium) regarding sub-drains (subsurface
water obtained and managed in the site) near the turbine buildings of
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, whose sample was taken on May
18th. Since, as a result, strontium -89 and -90 were detected as shown in
the attachment, we reported the fact to NISA and the government of
Fukushima Prefecture today (June 12th)

Sr-89, -90 were detected. This has been possibly resulted fromthis time's accident.

Really?! Ya think?! You're sure it wasn't from a flock of FU birds...

And now they've finally admitted it's in the sea as well.

High concentration of radioactive strontium found at Fukushima plant

Radioactive strontium up to 240 times the legal concentration limit has been detected in seawater samples collected near an intake at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.

The utility known as TEPCO said the substance was also found in groundwater near the plant's Nos. 1 and 2 reactors. The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it is the first time that the substance has been found in groundwater.

The agency said it is necessary to carefully monitor the possible effects of the strontium on fishery products near the plant.

And another new problem

Radioactive water treatment likely to be delayed

Treatment of highly radioactive water at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to be delayed by a problem with the flow of water.

The system being installed at the plant includes a device to remove cesium using zeolite, as well as equipment that settles out radioactive substances using specialized chemicals.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Sunday that it has found that water does not flow in one of the 4 units as expected.

TEPCO had planned to start a test-run of the device on Friday, but it was postponed after the firm found another problem, which needed repairing first.

Interesting, thanks, I didn't realise that data was suspect. Are you saying that the data's wrong because the sensors are damaged / unreliable since the accident, or because TEPCO are deliberately diddling them? Both?
How is it known that R1 is at atmospheric pressure if the sensors are broken? (Surely TEPCO aren't reporting both at the same time?)

TEPCO announced recently that they had managed to install a new pressure sensor at reactor 1. This confirmed that the reactor and containment were breached and that the readings from the other sensors were incorrect. TEPCO further said that it suspected that the pressure sensors in 2 and 3 were also damaged (some are reading below atmospheric!) but it had not yet been able to install new sensors at these reactors.

They've also admitted that water level sensors are inaccurate as are some of the temperature sensors. But they needed to keep pumping out the dodgy data to maintain the pretense as long as possible that they hadn't suffered 3 total meltdowns and multiple containment breaches.

They are probably only admitting to the strontium now because it is being found so widely at considerable distances from the plant in soil tests, begging the question why it could be there and not in TEPCO's test results at the plant itself.

They are probably only admitting to the strontium now because it is being found so widely at considerable distances from the plant in soil tests, begging the question why it could be there and not in TEPCO's test results at the plant itself.

Perhaps TEPCO is steeped in Japanese Mythology and worships the ancient gods...
Demons with flaming heads, fiery eyes and swords.
If you see one pretend that you haven't. The less you know the better.

BAKU 'Eater of Dreams'.
He will come if you call him and devour your nightmares. He has the head of a lion on a horse body which has tiger feet. Don't look if you invite him — he may have caused your nightmares in the first place.

As for their children, well you can always say it was
A demoness armed with a knife.
She is very fond of children from a culinary point of view.

She probably even prefers radiated children...

The presence of I131 is the thing that stands out to me. That suggests that there may be at least some small area where Uranium atoms are splitting (as there is no other way in which I131 is produced, and the half-life is short enough that much of the original I131 should have decayed by now).

My own theory is that they will continue to limp along in this manner until the decay heat has declined naturally to the point where additional cooling water is no longer required. At that point they will be able to pump the water out of the basements, and robots will be able to get in closer.

I found a paper where decay heat is plotted as a function of time going out to 1E+8 seconds (3 years).


Edit: I just realized the data was from May 18th, so perhaps the I131 levels aren't as bad as I might have thought. The only way to know for sure is if they were to systematically make measurements every so often, and see whether the levels are dropping as one might predict based upon the half-life. But the way that they are just pumping water in there all over the place would make it tough for the measurements to be all that meaningful.

Adding to the climate conundrum, Mediterranean temps in Northern Norway.:
Tropical Night happens when the temperature stays above 20 Centigrade throughout the night.
Daytime temperatures were at 32 Centigrade .. wow- and wow again.. In a different year these latitudes of Norway could easily take a snowstorm instead, at this time of the year..
This all happens at the same time as the southern part of Norway take her largest inundations in 50 years. Probably "the rain central Europe should have".

Google translated article

We're hitting 33 for the 3rd day running, hottest since 98 and 2 new day records. It tried to rain last night but all we got was the smell, big storm in the mountains though. At this rate we are heading for a record hot summer. Can't wait for the rain to start and freshen things up. World weather is getting really screwy.


Since, around mid-summer, gross insolation at high latitudes significantly exceeds gross insolation at the Equator, who knows what might have happened in the past for a day or three here or there with no one to observe it and pass it on, and that never got recorded in a sediment we could dig up. And who knows what surprises might lie in the future...

if you read the article (in funny English) you'd have noticed a number of temp records set for Norway - records going back to 1875.
National HIGH TEMP records are set in the high North !!!! --- for a change :-)

NOAM- where are you at? Are you at 70 dg North?

Yup, I was just figuring that with more people and more instruments and more years gone by, we'll see even more odd things, even before throwing in whatever AGW might do. Who knows what oddities lasting a few days might have happened over the last, say, 2500 years, without ever having been recorded. That is, with instrument records only since 1875, who really can quite say what the tails look like for very short-term weather anomalies? (A few years ago, we had a record of 108F in Appleton, WI, when the temperature further south was only in the mid to high 90s. Normally it's the other way round by a similar amount, but the center of the high just parked there. Go figure. Can't honestly say how often to expect it, either - with records only back to about 1880, the sampling of the tails is simply too poor to define them well.)

with records only back to about 1880, the sampling of the tails is simply too poor to define them well.)

And now that climate is rapidly changing, we won't be able to get a clean long record, i.e. most of the dta will be old data recorded during different climate conditions.

This makes no sense. What is to prevent us from having a data record going forward?

The tails of old conditions can become the norm of the new conditions if and when things change fast enough. Makes perfect sense to me; EoS has a good intuition on these matters.

That is not not having a record, that is having a quickly-changing record. The trend is what matters, not the short-term gyrations, anyway. That quick changing tells you all you need to know: Chaotic weather and climate is bad. Prepare for bad. The solutions are the same, no matter what. This issue only affects how fast we change. But, even that means nothing to me because I've been saying we need to change as fast as is humanly possible for years.

I understand, but this is a non-issue.

That is, with instrument records only since 1875, who really can quite say what the tails look like for very short-term weather anomalies?

We call them scientists. They use things like isotopes, ice cores, pollens, mineral contents, the differing carbon isotopes between fossil fuels and naturally emitted carbon. You know, science.

Your faux "i'm not a denier" schtick is already wearing thin. Every post you make like this just makes it that much more obvious. Very nice job of not actually claiming CC is fraudulent, and the "whatever AGW might do" is really slick. Very unobtrusive. Most would just see that as you being oh-so-reasonable. But, please, the "it all falls within the bounds of natural variation" has been done to death. The term you are looking for is "long-term trends."

More originality, please.

This is not an AGW site. Of course it's relevant to oil/energy, but your persistence on the topic wears thin.

There are plenty of other places to discuss weather/climate.

My persistence? Perhaps you do not understand cause and effect, or sequencing? I was responding, not initiating. You want to make a credible comment, make your point to the person instigating the discussion, not the one correcting.

Please read what you blockquote. Those surrogates don't normally track localized three-day heat waves or other very short term anomalies. At best they tend to track seasons as a whole. At worst, diffusion and/or disturbance may create a moving average over years, decades, or longer.

They don't matter for climate. Your denial via conflating weather with climate has been called.

I think you are talking about weather vs. climate. We have all kinds of anomolies where I live too but the long term trend is warmer temperature. I don't think climate scientists just throw up their hands because they don't have recorded weather data going back hundreds of years. I would like to think that our weird weather is just a passing and short term phase but I wouldn't bet my children's future on it.

Definitely. The original post was about a transient weather event in Norway. Not uninteresting, but you'd need an ensemble collected under or adjusted to uniform enough conditions to form a statistical series, before extrapolating that sort of thing to climate. Or something less noisy with more built-in averaging, such as shrinking glaciers.

This is junk statistics. Climate is about the trend, and rising trend in anomalous events is absolutely attributable to climate. Without the extra energy in the system, you wouldn't be having the huge anomalies. It is the extra heat and water that create the anomalous events.

I would be happy to point you to tutorials on climate.

Mexico, just below 21. Weather has been getting strange this year.


Construction slump closes sheet rock company town in Nevada:


Now we can get some more sheet rock from China which off-gasses nasty chemicals!


On June 10, we discussed here a plan by Saudi Arabia to increase oil output by 1 million bpd in July to 10 million bpd - a claim I find totally unbelievable.

Just one day later some oil buyers report they didn't take up the 'offer' of additional oil in July. The key word here is offer. First, they may have offered heavy crude of the type that only a few refineries can use. Second, the Saudi oil price structure has been changed to reduce the differential between high and low grades.

So yes, I am saying KSA knew that the buyers wouldn't take up their kind offer to increase oil output, so when they don't increase exports in July maybe any more than 200,000 bpd, they will just say the oil market is "well supplied".

The funny thing is they played this same shell game just a few months ago, and even retroactively changed their output figures, but now the media apparently just believes them anyway without question - although they admit the extra barrels may help KSA but not the rest of the world.

June 11, 2011
Saudis Plan to Boost Oil Output

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the state-owned oil company, is already offering more crude in July to its Asian customers that buy under long-term contracts, traders said.

"We were told that they are ready if we need more barrels," said an executive with a Japanese refinery. "But we didn't take it because we have already bought crude for July."

Two crude-oil traders in the U.S. said they were also seeing an uptick in planned cargoes, although most of the extra crude is targeted at Asia—where demand for oil is growing the fastest.

In July, at least, any additional barrels that aren't absorbed into global oil markets will like be used in Saudi Arabia itself, as energy consumption there increases during the summer months to power air conditioning.


Apparently, some of the extra Saudi oil will go to Yemen, which effectively has shut in most of its oil output due to political problems.

Saudi Arabia donates oil to Yemen
RIYADH, June 12 (Saba)- Saudi Arabia has announced that it would donate three million barrels of crude oil to Yemen to help the country cover fuel shortages.

Oil Minister Amir Salem al-Aydarus said that Saudi Arabia intended to support the Yemeni national economy, provide the needs of Yemen's people and alleviate their suffering due to the acute shortage of petroleum products facing the country in light of the extraordinary situation Yemen is experiencing".

That the crude would be transported from Saudi Arabia's Yanbu port to Aden where Yemen's main refinery is located.

The Marib pipeline has been out of function since March and repair work has proven to be lengthy and difficult in light of the ongoing political turmoil in the country.

Aydarus called on Marib tribes to assist the authorities in repairing the life-line pipeline.



Russia objects to US warship in Black Sea because of its role in planned missile shield

MOSCOW — Russia is voicing concern about a U.S. warship now just off its shores in the Black Sea.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey, which is taking part in annual joint military exercises conducted by NATO and Ukraine, is an integral part of U.S. plans to create a missile shield in Europe, which Russia opposes.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday saying Russia “has repeatedly stressed that we will not leave unnoticed any elements of U.S. strategic infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of our borders and will consider any such steps as a threat to our security.”

Would we want Russian ABM-equipped ships (which also have anti-ship and anti-land weapons systems as well o-board) cruising around the GOM if Russia was seeking to shield itself from WMD-tipped missiles from some notional South American Country? (I know the astrophysics are wrong for this example but work with me here).

President Reagan offered to share 'Star Wars' technology with the Russian (which made the military men hack up a hairball!)...

Lease or sell the Monterrey to the Russians and let them license-build the SM-2/3 missile technology as long as they join NATO (at least in some ancillary capacity) and agree to help defend Europe against IRBMs from the ME, as long as the U.S. and Europe also agree to defend Russia from the same.

*Lease or sell the Monterrey to the Russians and let them license-build the SM-2/3 missile technology as long as they join NATO (at least in some ancillary capacity) and agree to help defend Europe against IRBMs from the ME, as long as the U.S. and Europe also agree to defend Russia from the same.*

There isn't a nation in the world, and has never been one, which can find tolerable the potential of another nation to present an existential threat. That's the situation we've been in for the past 60 years. Russia's weapons systems do not exist to defend the US and Europe, and the weapons systems of the latter do not exist to defend Russia.

Elementary, isn't it? Not desirable, perhaps not even adaptive, but there it is.


I wonder if you missed my point.

I will be explicit.

Neither Russia nor the United States consider each other an existential threat.

Neither China nor the United States see each other as an existential threat.

There is about zero chance that there will be a U.S.-Russia or U.S.-China special weapons exchange.

We (U.S.)would be dumber than a sack of hammers to throw down with PRC over Taiwan. He is my prediction: On some cruise ship or in some resort, the PTB agree to arrange for DRNK to peacefully merge with the ROK, and for Taiwan to agree to go into the loving arms of PRC.

Now...Russia sees China as a potential long-term threat...Russia's population is declining, and the health of its people is not great, and the resource-laden Siberian areas to the East are ready for Chines exploitation some day. That is why Russia is not going to surrender its copious numbers of tactical special weapons.

China and India don't like each other...how does one think that Pakistan obtained special weapons?

Now, to the point of the original post: The U.S., Russia, Europe, China, and India all fear terrorist strikes (missiles, car bombs, cyber, etc) from radical Islam, and that would be the point of a cooperative missile defense effort, as well as cooperative efforts by other means.

That the grand strategic military-political landscape.

*I wonder if you missed my point.
I will be explicit.
Neither Russia nor the United States consider each other an existential threat.
Neither China nor the United States see each other as an existential threat.*

Heisenberg, I simply don't agree, because as long as the potential exists there will be contingency plans - there must be.

Strategic weapon systems, so far as anyone knows, are still in place, and are governed by received war fighting doctrine. Misjudgment and other forms of error are always possible, as are unforeseen circumstances. For example, if any party, anywhere in the world, were to use wmds, for whatever reason or by any means, the consequences would be unpredictable. Just the other day, the US announced that a cyber attack on vital US interests would be considered no different than any other kind of attack on vital national assets. The MoDs of the world make it their business to prepare for war and to anticipate how it may happen, even though they have no desire to engage.

While weapons of mass destruction exist, no one is guaranteed perfect immunity from their use.

*There is about zero chance that there will be a U.S.-Russia or U.S.-China special weapons exchange.*

There chance may be low, but it is, IMHO, greater than zero. We have to live with it.

Strategic weapon systems, so far as anyone knows, are still in place, and are governed by received war fighting doctrine.

And there is the rub...we and the Russians perpetuate maintaining our special arsenals at needlessly high levels because of inertia and vested MIC/political interests, and to appear 'strong' to the sheeple.

Special capabilities are the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone. We have them, because they have them, because we have them (...) after a while, it becomes an ingrained background cultural norm.

The Chinese....have an entirely different outlook...they take the very long view.

Pavel, You might be surprised to know the opinions on potential weapons exchanges from certain folks. Different from what Joe Six-Pack thinks he or she 'knows'.

Anyhoo, /our/ special exchange wandered away from the target...the salient point is that the folks in 'the Club' and their allies all share a common fear of attacks from radical Islam, including immature unstable states possessing ballistic missiles tipped with special weapons...hence the wisdom of cooperative defensive (and otherwise) measures against the new 'evil empire'.

*Pavel, You might be surprised to know the opinions on potential weapons exchanges from certain folks. Different from what Joe Six-Pack thinks he or she 'knows'.*

If you have inside information about that, you certainly won't want to share it with those of us who are not indoctrinated. : )

That the grand strategic military-political landscape.

There have been some strange bedfellows. I heard about how the Russians got their Nuclear fail-safe system during the cold war. They called up Washington and said they were terribly worried about the possibility of Nuke exchange via accident, and they requested (and got) technical help from the US!

Location: Unit 1 nuclear power plant Fukushima

Current values: D / W: two hundred sixty-one Sv / h , S / C: 0.838 Sv / h

Graph of the Day: Radiation inside Fukushima Unit 1 Drywell, 21 May 2011 – 12 June 2001

Waiting for the experts to chime in, but this kind pattern of reminds me of a coffee percolator.

It reminds me of fission going on / off at it's own will---- no control-rods needed.


Radioactive strontium that exceeds the government-set safety level was detected for the first time in sea water in the inlet next to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, reported that strontinum-90, at a level 53 times higher than the safety standard was detected in samples taken from inside an inlet used exclusively by the nuclear plant, on May 16.

TEPCO also said that strontinum-90 was detected at a level 170 times higher than the standard in samples also taken on May 16, near the water intakes outside reactor number 2. At the reactor number 3 water intakes, the level was 240 times higher than the legal safety limit.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the result is not beyond their expectations because the substance was detected in an inlet used exclusively by the power plant. They say they will closely monitor the fish and shellfish in the affected area.

TEPCO announced that strontium-90 was also detected for the first time in ground water near the reactors' buildings.

A ground water sample taken on May 18, around reactor number 2, measured 6,300 becquerels per liter. And for reactor number one, the sample showed 22 becquerels.

TEPCO explained it usually takes about 3 weeks to analyze the samples.

With a comparatively long half-life of 29 years, radioactive strontium can accumulate in the bones if inhaled, and poses a risk of cancer.
Monday, June 13, 2011 06:03 +0900 (JST)

If you go here:

There is the same graph and next to the heading it says "Instrument Failure"

Location: Unit 1 nuclear power plant Hukushima
Date: Mar 15, 2011 (Tuesday) to December 06, 2011 (Sun)
Current values: D / W: two hundred sixty-one Sv / h , S / C: 0.838 Sv / h
Status Instrument failure


Here are graphs and surveys. The levels hold fairly constant.

There is the same graph and next to the heading it says "Instrument Failure"

True enough, although it's not clear what this means -- all five listed reactors have the same notation. Also, it's not clear that the tables at the TEPCO site are showing the same data; the atmc.jp site is showing drywell radiation in Sieverts, but the TEPCO page shows only pressure and temperature.

Yara 'to lift nutrient prices' as China cuts bite
Agrimoney.com / June 13, 2011

Yara International is to announce a "significant increase" in its fertilizer prices thanks to a squeeze on Chinese output caused by power cuts, DnB NOR Markets warned. [more]

The wobbles are gaining amplitude.

Our resources are finite. And we're all still bickering over the detail.

As David Suzuki, author and scientist, has so aptly said:

“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

The international community (ie government and big business) needs to wake up, start thinking creatively, decisively, and humanely. I've been blogging myself about this at http://www.100daystochangetheworld.com