Drumbeat: June 13, 2011

Global Deficit Between Oil Consumption and Production Remains the Norm

Looking at the data over the long run still seems to verify the obvious facts. First, new discoveries coming on line at levels sufficient to offset reservoir declines and growing global energy demand is not the current reality. Second, the growing fundamental imbalance between supply and demand will favor increasing prices over an extended time period.

But we did find something in the data that we thought readers would also find interesting. Whether coincidental or not - you be the judge. When the annual surpluses and shortages are added together, starting with 1965, the first year in BP's Statistical Review; the point where crude oil actually went into a deficit position (per BP's data) is around the same time oil prices really started to surge (i.e. 2004).

Review of Bundeswehr Report on peak oil: Section 2.2. Tipping Point (Nov. 2010)

We are unable to think about the consequences of Peak Oil via our everyday experiences, and can only draw partial historical parallels. It is accordingly difficult to imagine what kind of impact a gradual withdrawal of one of the most important sources of energy would have on our civilization. Psychological barriers account for the suppression of irrefutable facts and lead to an almost instinctive rejection of in-depth discussion of this difficult issue.

The occurrence of Peak Oil is, however, unavoidable.

Enbridge shuts Line 6B for maintenance

(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc said Monday it shut its 290,000 barrel-per-day Line 6B downstream of its terminal at Stockbridge, Michigan.

During the pre-scheduled 72-hour shutdown, the company "will complete the tie-in of the newly installed segment of the 30-inch diameter pipeline under the St. Clair River with new valves and the existing Line 6B on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the river," Enbridge said.

Barclays: Worldwide Spending to Pass Half Trillion Mark in 2011

Worldwide exploration and production (E&P) spending in 2011 is expected to rise to 16 percent to $529 billion, compared with $458 billion in 2010, with strong year-over-year improvement in spending driven by large increases inside and outside North America, Barclays Capital today reported in its global E&P capital spending update.

US Dept. of Energy to hold meeting on fracking

PITTSBURGH — A U.S. Department of Energy hearing on fracking in Pennsylvania is expected to draw numerous supporters and protesters of the practice Monday night.

Iraq must invest in power, water for growth

(Reuters) - Iraq must invest more in its power and water infrastructure to achieve sustained growth, and if it does not the oil and gas sectors will suffer, U.S. engineering company Fluor Corp said on Monday.

Russia, China keep talking gas as Chinese president's visit nears

Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will continue discussions on a major gas supply deal on Tuesday, the Russian energy giant said on Monday after a second straight day of talks in Moscow.

Oman a contender in oil benchmark title race

(Reuters) - Oman oil futures have the potential to overtake the world's top two benchmarks and limited progress so far reflects the difficulty of changing the status quo, the head of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange said on Monday.

Saudi Cabinet approves $13.6 billion loan to Saudi Electricity Co. for project financing

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet has approved a 51 billion riyal ($13.6 billion) interest free loan to the Saudi Electricity Co. to help it cover its projected fiscal deficit and complete projects through 2012.

Information and Culture Minister Abdel-Aziz Khoga said Monday the 25-year loan is aimed at helping the state-run company meet deadlines to boost power generation capacity in the energy rich kingdom.

Where, oh where, did the petrol go?

A headline from this morning’s The National may read “Petrol shortage rumbles on without explanation” but there is no denying that there are plenty of rumors and conspiracy theory. Never one to lend an ear to idol gossip, Kipp does a quick round up of the various theories doing the rounds.

Petrol shortage: 90% petrol stations close down in Faisalabad

FAISALABAD: The fuel crisis worsened in South Punjab on Monday, as 90% of all petrol pumps closed down in the city of Faisalabad and surrounding areas.

Locals were forced to queue up to buy petrol at up to Rs160 per litre by pump owners. Petrol pump owners complained that only 8,000 litres of petrol are being given to each pump on alternate days.

Mexico's Pemex to reduce gasoline imports by 2016

PUEBLA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico will reduce gasoline imports by 8 percent between 2012 and 2016 as the country increases capacity to refine more crude, the head of state oil monopoly Pemex said on Thursday.

Mexico will have cut gasoline imports to 38 percent of consumption by 2016, chief executive Juan Jose Suarez said in the city of Puebla at an oil industry conference.

Italy kills the nuclear demon

The result of the Italian national poll on nuclear energy are out. As I am writing, the data are not yet official, but it seems certain that the votes against nuclear energy were about 95% of the total. A landslide, if ever there was one! It is a disaster for the nuclear industry that is sure to have consequences on nuclear policy even outside Italy.

Bee documentary a bittersweet wake-up call

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – "Honey just got funny" was the tagline for Jerry Seinfeld's 2007 animated feature "Bee Movie," in which the comic gave voice to a bee that rebels against the exploitation of the agricultural industry.

That scenario is no laughing matter in Taggart Siegel's fascinating "Queen of the Sun," which opened Friday in limited release. Stating its arguments with complexity, urgency and stirring glimmers of hope, this lovingly made eco-documentary is an impassioned call to action on behalf of these hard-working winged creatures.

Equinox Summit day 2: Thomas Homer-Dixon on energy and complexity

Homer-Dixon’s talk centered around the relationship between energy and complexity in society. He explained that this relationship and the complexity of the modern world mean that conservation or limiting energy use will only get the world so far in dealing with energy difficulties.

“In other words, if we want to have the complex social and technological and economic systems that we have in our society today that provide us with many benefits, we need to have a lot of energy and there is a certain irreducible demand if we want to sustain that complexity,” he said.

Humanity has been dependent on cheap, abundant energy sources to reach its current population and complexity, Homer-Dixon said. However positive this complexity is for creating innovation and providing benefits for societies, the complicated nature of these systems is troublesome because understanding the workings of interconnected political, social and economic systems is nearly impossible. Predicting how the systems will react to even minor problems is very difficult as well; Homer-Dixon cited the American sub-prime mortgage crisis that led to a global financial downturn as one example.

How Much Pain is Necessary to Break U.S. Addiction to Fossil Fuels? (Interview with Michael Klare)

Michael Klare is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. He’s an authority on the interface between energy production and security, examining both military and environmental issues. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Klare, who discusses fossil fuels’ impact on human health and the planet’s ecosystem, assessing the conditions necessary to change course.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda emboldened in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen — Islamist extremists, many suspected of links to al-Qaeda, are engaged in an intensifying struggle against government forces for control of southern Yemen, taking advantage of a growing power vacuum to create a stronghold near vital oil-shipping lanes, said residents and Yemeni and U.S. officials.

Leaked study shows companies advised Pentagon on cyber-sabotage against Libya

LONDON — Private computer experts advised U.S. officials on how cyberattacks could damage Libya’s oil and gas infrastructure and rob Moammar Gadhafi’s regime of crucial oil revenue, according to a study obtained by hackers.

It remains unclear who commissioned “Project Cyber Dawn” and how much of a role the U.S. government played in it, but it shows the increasing amount of work being done by private companies in exposing foreign governments’ vulnerabilities to cyber attack.

Iran Cuts July Light Crude Price to Asia; Raises Other Grades

National Iranian Oil Co. cut the cost for July shipments of its Iranian Light crude to refiners in Asia and increased prices for its other grades to the region, according to a company official.

The Crux of Saudi Power

Saudi Arabia’s power inside OPEC comes from its ability to threaten to ruin the economies of other member states by flooding the market with oil. Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani wielded that tool effectively in the 1980s during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Hisham Nazer used it during the Iraq-Iran war. Ali Naimi himself threatened OPEC into an incredible streak of unity after wielding the oil price dagger over Venezuela in 1998.

Now would be the perfect time for Riyadh to have the same tool. But project delays and problems in the kingdom’s upstream sector is thwarting its global power, with potentially dire consequences for Saudi Arabia and for the global community.

Shell declares force majeure on Nigeria Bonny oil

LAGOS (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell declared force majeure on Monday on its Nigerian Bonny Light crude oil loadings for June and July due to production cutbacks caused by leaks and fires on its Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP).

Shell's Nigerian SPDC unit said the leaks -- caused by saboteurs who used hacksaws -- had been repaired and production resumed on June 12, but the shutdown of the lines had affected loading programmes at its Bonny export terminal.

UK oil firms look to Norway after tax hike

(Reuters) - Britain's North Sea is set to lose out on investment as oil firms switch their attention to Norway in the wake of an unexpected tax hike in the UK, said Lloyds Bank's global head of oil and gas.

"In terms of new production that we're looking at financing, it is moving toward Norway and away from the UK," Andrew Moorfield, global head of oil and gas at Lloyds Bank, said on Monday at the Reuters Global Energy and Climate Summit.

Arctic oil drilling "entirely legitimate": UK

(Reuters) - Britain strongly supported Arctic oil drilling, within the right safety regime, energy minister Charles Hendry said on Monday after Cairn Energy last week halted a Greenpeace protest off Greenland.

Governments around the world are cautiously backing deepwater drilling, a year after a BP oil spill at its Macondo well spewed more than 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. "It's entirely legitimate that, given the ability to carry out this work safely, this should be part of the work of the industry," Hendry told Reuters Global Energy and Climate Summit when asked about Cairn's Greenland activities.

"I would urge any country around the world to look at the Norwegian, British approach in terms of robust regulation."

Ecuador Prepares For New Hearing In Occidental Petroleum Case

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- The office of Ecuador's Attorney General will represent Ecuador in Washington at a June 30 hearing in the arbitration case filed against the Andean country by U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Ecuador's Attorney General Diego Garcia said in a press release that the final decision on the case could be known in the second half of the year.

May power output jumps 10.45 pct y/y - govt

(Reuters) - India's power output rose an annual 10.45 percent in May, the first double digit growth in almost two years, due to better coal availability and as the country built more power plants to help bridge a shortfall, government data showed.

In New York, protected bike lanes jaw-dropping

People were riding bikes and they were in a city. But they were not riding in any way I have seen in this city.

They were strolling, in a cycling sort of way. They were riding unhurriedly and sociably, some of them chatting with friends riding next to them.

But wasn't this the parking lane? Where were all the parked cars?

My jaw dropped a little lower.

They were in the next lane over, forming a protective barricade between the bike lane and moving traffic.

Riyadh’s offshore progress marks bid to cool crude

Saudi Arabia’s crude production is surging and the kingdom is busy developing new super-giant fields in the clearest sign that Riyadh sees sustained demand growth for oil.

The kingdom has accelerated the development of its super-giant Manifa oil field, in the waters of the Gulf. State-owned producer Saudi Aramco announced in its 2010 annual review, published earlier this month, that the field would pump at its maximum rate of 900,000 barrels a day by 2014, a decade earlier than previously thought.

The accelerated timetable, which received little attention as it was overshadowed by the Opec meeting some days later, suggests that Riyadh sees greater oil demand. The company said in its 2009 annual review that Manifa, which has a price tag of about $11bn, would not reach full capacity until 2024.

Oil falls to below $99 on Saudi crude output boost

SIGNAPORE – Oil prices fell to below $99 a barrel Monday in Asia, extending a big loss from Friday after a report said Saudi Arabia plans to boost its crude production.

Price of gas falls 4 percent in last three weeks

NEW YORK — The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States fell 4 percent in the past three weeks, and could drop further due to less demand, falling oil prices and reports that Saudi Arabia may soon increase production, according to the latest nationwide Lundberg survey.

Vienna showdown, Saudi oil policy

The showdown in vienna was as unexpected as it was dramatic. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi called last week’s OPEC conclave “the worst meeting” of his career as the oil exporter’s organisation split between those who agreed to an 1.5 million barrels a day output hike (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait) against price hawks led by Iran, Algeria, Venezuela, Libya and Iraq.

The breakdown of the OPEC meeting will have a profound impact on oil prices, world financial markets, GCC economies and the future of OPEC.

Opec split leaves Saudi to go it alone

Opec's member states are at odds as pressure from the West to raise oil output continues to rise.

For Opec, a painful path to establishing consensus

Alirio Parra, former Venezuela oil minister and Opec president, helped steer the organisation towards consensus even as members states waged war against each other.

British Gas customers warned of more price hikes

Families have been told to brace themselves for steep energy price rises this winter by the boss of Britain's largest power company.

‘Perfect Storm’ May Threaten Global Economy: Roubini

Elevated U.S. unemployment, a surge in oil and food prices, rising interest rates in Asia and trade disruption from Japan’s record earthquake threaten to sap the world economy. Stocks worldwide have lost more than $3.3 trillion since the beginning of May, and Roubini said financial markets by the middle of next year could start worrying about a convergence of risks in 2013.

"Meaningful probability" of a China hard landing: Roubini

"I was recently in Shanghai and I took their high-speed train to Hangzhou," he said, referring to the new Maglev line that has cut traveling time between the two cities to less than an hour from four hours previously.

"The brand new high-speed train is half-empty and the brand new station is three-quarters empty. Parallel to that train line, there is a also a new highway that looked three-quarters empty. Next to the train station is also the new local airport of Shanghai and you can fly to Hangzhou," he said.

"There is no rationale for a country at that level of economic development to have not just duplication but triplication of those infrastructure projects."

Shell eyes 2nd floating LNG project

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell plans to install a second floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project at the Greater Sunrise field in the Pacific as it steps up production in the region, a senior executive said on Monday.

Vietnam holds live-fire navy drill amid China spat

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam fired artillery rounds off its central coast Monday in naval drills announced during a maritime spat with Beijing, as conflicts heat up between China and its neighbors over the potentially oil-rich South China Sea.

Vietnam accuses Chinese boats of disrupting oil and gas exploration in its waters, echoing a similar dispute that flared last week with the Philippines concerning Beijing’s ramped-up moves to assert its sovereignty over disputed areas in recent months.

Venezuela to Restrict Electricity Use for Second Straight Year on Blackout

Venezuela, the largest oil producer in South America, will announce measures to curb electricity consumption for a second-consecutive year today, prompted by a blackout in the country’s most-populous state, Zulia, over the weekend.

Somali pirates release Kuwaiti crude oil tanker

Somali pirates have released a United Arab Emirates (UAE) flagged and Kuwaiti owned crude oil tanker with 29 crew members, a regional maritime official confirmed on Saturday.

Andrew Mwangura, maritime editor for Somalia Report said the MV Zirku which was hijacked in March, approximately 250 nautical miles southeast of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden was released on Friday by the pirates. "The ship was released by the pirates on Friday. I have not established whether ransom was paid or not but definitely, the ship owners might have paid since the vessel is very big," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

Syrian forces round up hundreds near northern town

(Reuters) - Syrian troops rounded up hundreds of people in a sweep through villages near Jisr al-Shughour on Monday, fleeing residents said, after President Bashar al-Assad's army retook the rebellious town.

Nearly 7,000 Syrians have already fled the region around Jisr al-Shughour, seeking sanctuary in neighboring Turkey, while thousands more are sheltering close to the frontier in rural areas just inside Syria, activists say.

Libyan Leaders Defiant as Battle Rages at Oil City

TRIPOLI, Libya — With loyalist forces clashing for a second day with rebels around a strategic oil city less than 30 miles west of here, the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Sunday told the “ugly, evil forces of NATO” to accept that the rebel cause was doomed and that the Libyan leader would not be driven from power by rebel attacks or NATO airstrikes.

The fighting around the oil city, Zawiya, site of the refinery that is the Qaddafi government’s last remaining source of fuel, came as new battles raged over the weekend at three points that are part of the strategic defenses of Tripoli: in the east, near Misurata, 130 miles from the capital; in the south, at Zintan, about 125 miles from the capital; and, potentially most threatening, at Zawiya, which commands the coastal road that carries vital supplies of food and other necessities to Tripoli from Tunisia.

Jordan's King Abdullah II announces sweeping reforms

(CNN) -- Jordan's King Abdullah II announced sweeping reforms in a nationally televised address Sunday, promising to establish a parliamentary majority government -- a key demand of protesters calling for changes to the regime.

Oil spill cleanup relies on decades-old technology

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When the ominous black plume began gushing from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig last year, an army of workers was dispatched to protect the U.S. Gulf Coast using the latest technology -- vinyl-covered booms and dispersant sprays.

And if another major spill occurs offshore the United States anytime soon, this is the most protection a community can expect should oil begin leaking from a ruptured well near its shores.

In Nuclear Crisis, Crippling Mistrust

TOKYO — On the evening of March 12, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s oldest reactor had suffered a hydrogen explosion and risked a complete meltdown. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked aides to weigh the risks of injecting seawater into the reactor to cool it down.

At this crucial moment, it became clear that a prime minister who had built his career on suspicion of the collusive ties between Japan’s industry and bureaucracy was acting nearly in the dark. He had received a confusing risk analysis from the chief nuclear regulator, a fervently pro-nuclear academic whom aides said Mr. Kan did not trust. He was also wary of the company that operated the plant, given its history of trying to cover up troubles.

Mr. Kan did not know that the plant manager had already begun using seawater. Based on a guess of the mood at the prime minister’s office, the company ordered the plant manager to stop.

But the manager did something unthinkable in corporate Japan: he disobeyed the order and secretly continued using seawater, a decision that experts say almost certainly prevented a more serious meltdown and has made him an unlikely hero.

Japan Radiation Sleuths Use Borrowed Geigers

Makoto Tonami starts his workday by slipping on a white surgical face mask and then drives around with a borrowed Geiger counter, taking radiation readings. Three months ago, he was sorting garbage claims in Minami Soma, a city north of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

“It’s usually two or three of us and we drive till sunset,” said the 43-year-old city official, who grew up in the coastal town. His group takes readings at 35 locations with equipment loaned from the Fukushima government, he said.

US gas is artificially cheap: What we don't pay for at the pump

California has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Consequently, it has some of the strictest rules for gasoline, meaning it burns cleaner than it does in many other states. But cleaner fuels are more expensive.

Clean air requirements, combined with supply and refining constraints, make the price of California gas consistently among the highest in the nation. Turmoil in the Middle East is another factor that pushes up the global price of crude oil. Even though the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California fluctuates around $4, some experts argue that $4 a gallon is much less than the real cost.

Cars.com/USA TODAY Shootout tests low-priced, high-mileage cars

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Ideal cars for the times. A handful of the best compacts, not very expensive, not very thirsty, big enough for a family.

Saving Juice on a Philadelphia Subway Line

Batteries will capture energy that is generated when a train slows down, then deliver the power when the train needs it.

Spain Regulator May Ask for Cut on Debt to Utilities, Cinco Says

Spain’s energy regulator may propose a cut in the amount of debt it owes power producers for subsidized tariffs they charge to reduce the cost of repaying the money using bond sales, Cinco Dias reported.

Construction to resume on parts of solar project

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Construction can resume on a massive Southern California solar energy project after wildlife officials determined it will not jeopardize the threatened desert tortoise, federal officials said Friday.

Syria to Seek Bids for Four Solar, Wind Projects, SANA Says

Syria’s annual electricity demand is growing by 5 percent to 7 percent, meaning that the nation needs to add 700 megawatts a year at a cost of 700 million euros ($1 billion), Khamis said.

In a War of Words, Makers of Plastic Bags Go to Court

SAN FRANCISCO — The plastic bag industry, increasingly on the defensive as municipal bag bans proliferate, has gone on the attack against ChicoBag, a competitor that bills itself as an eco-friendly alternative. A federal lawsuit in South Carolina accuses ChicoBag of illegal trash-talking about plastic bag waste.

Planning for Higher Food and Energy Prices, and their Wider Impacts

Over the years, we have become accustomed to a rising standard of living. One of things that has helped this happen is a gradually declining ratio of food costs to total personal expenditures. Energy costs have not followed as clear a trend, but are higher again now, and seem likely to be higher in the future as well.

The future of Australia’s food: Who’s calling the shots?

There has been a lot of talk about food security recently, but most of it assumes that the fundamental problem is a lack of food, and that the most appropriate response is to ‘produce more’. This analysis is deeply flawed. It flows from a refusal to grapple with the deeper causes of what is really a system in profound crisis: a crisis of over-production.

Assembly panel examines N.J.'s decision to leave cap and trade program

TRENTON — A New Jersey Assembly panel plans to examine the potential consequences of Gov. Chris Christie's recent decision to pull the state from a multistate pact to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

World Bank Reduces Volume, Value Forecast From Its Carbon Funds

The World Bank has reduced the number and value of credits it expects from its carbon funds as the International Energy Agency said fossil fuels are threatening the climate.

WTI $98.90
Brent $120.02

That's over $21 difference now.

That's over $21 difference now.

Wow! That's a big spread!

It only costs about $6/bbl to move WTI from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast by train, and a bit more to put it on a tanker and sell it into the Brent market, so I expect people in OK and TX will see a lot of unit trains of crude oil heading south in the near future.

What ever happened to our 'TOD Trucking company'?

"That's over $21 difference now.

Wow! That's a big spread!"

Indeed. Didn't oil start selling consistently over $20/bbl only ten or twelve years ago? And now that is the amount of the split between two of the major indexes.

Yes, in 1998 the price of WTI fell to about $10/bbl, and now the spread between WTI and Brent is $21/bbl. For an old oil hand, it's somewhat mind-boggling.

It indicates a fundamental imbalance in word oil markets, between the landlocked North American market and the seaborne international market. The only reason it persists is because there is not enough pipeline capacity to move oil from the one market to the other - i.e. from Cushing, OK to a seaport.

Of course the NIMBY's are fighting the pipelines tooth and nail. Just because there are 80,000 miles of pipelines in Texas already doesn't mean another few hundred miles won't irrevocably damage the fragile natural environment of the massive Texas Gulf Coast oil refineries and tanker terminals.

Because we want the oil in Cushing to go overseas?

Because we want the oil in Cushing to go overseas?

No, because we Canadians want you Americans to pay the world price, use smaller cars, drive less, etc. Our landlocked oil sands crude is subsidizing your SUV's and suburbia.


Pls keep ur oil sands oil in the ground.

Post Of The Day

I am sick of hearing about the great asset of Canadian Tar Sand. Please Please build your own pipe to China. Don't blame us Americans. LMAO. Funniest Whine of the day. Them is fightin' words from the Great White North ;-)

The Chinese are keen on the concept of Canada building its own export pipeline and tanker terminal to China in Northern BC. Their trade representatives have hinted quite strongly that they like the idea and that money would not be a problem if one was built. The Chinese now own a large share of the oil sands reserves in the ground, and I don't think it was their intention to subsidize American oil consumers.

Americans, though, might not be happy to find themselves walking or bicycling to work. Canada is now by far the largest source of oil imports into the US, and most of the other major suppliers are suffering declining exports.

"Americans, though, might not be happy to find themselves walking or bicycling to work."

Agreed. Actually, Americans might not be happy even just to see someone else bicycling somewhere. I've posted before about the apoplectic guy in the pickup who screeched his tires and screamed, "what do you think this is, Red China?", back in the day (he had plenty of room to pass.) Even worse may occur when a driver feels delayed at an intersection by anything not a car or truck - I also recall a furious pickup (again) driver screeching as closely and quickly as possible around a wheelchair user in the marked crosswalk who just wasn't pulling hard enough to clear his way to turn right quickly enough.

OTOH, some smart-alecs, even fellow Americans, would like to see Americans unhappily walking or bicycling to work. However, with all the inchoate anger in the air, best to make any such declaration anonymously. And given the flapette a couple of weeks ago in Australia about threats made to university scientists there, best that folks in other countries should not smugly assume that such anger can materialize only in the USA.


Interesting you say this. This morning a printer in my lab was hacked with the message, "Kill all Whites." The message flips between that an some Asian Runes -- not sure which language. I have the Tech guy now securing my network printer. Some very startling photos were also printed on there which my students laughed at ;-)

But the pipeline issue and China and all that aside.

Look at the NIMBYs on any energy project. Everyone is blocked. So why should oil get a free pass when a wind project is stalled 5 years with various so-called interests blocking each and every move? LOL. Why? The lawyers need to get paid.

So comical really. Yes, until we all can agree that we need lots of different types of power, then we all can walk or ride bikes or telecommute. We are just about that dumb.

And Canada is just a branch of the US empire. As much as they claim, they are not. They have zero military and who exactly pays for all that protection?

Canada we respect you. But Canada should pay for the US military with the oil sands, and then we can talk about shipping the oil to China.

Or Canada can marshall its troops in MENA for a while.

And Canada is just a branch of the US empire.

Canadians think of Canada as being a branch of the British Empire. It's much more family-oriented. We get all the royals visiting on their honeymoons and everything.

They have zero military and who exactly pays for all that protection?

It's not as if Canada has a lot of enemies. The Canadian military is only about 1/40 the size of the US military, but that's adequate to keep anybody smaller than the US out. The United States accounts for about half the military expenditures in the world, and we feel that Americans should pay for that since it doesn't do the rest of us much good.

But Canada should pay for the US military with the oil sands, and then we can talk about shipping the oil to China.

I have a better idea. You and the Chinese bid against each other, and we'll sell it to whoever offers us the most money.

I have a better idea. You and the Chinese bid against each other, and we'll sell it to whoever offers us the most money.

That is the founding principle of the Bretton Woods treaty: want another country's resources? Fine. Take as much as they will sell. But you must bid for it, not schmooze for it, and not fight for it. Canada and the US are both signatories.

You mean that there is a threaty against subverting a foreing government just to take a country's resources away? Ok, just ne more threaty the US doesn't observe...

Bretton Woods treaty .. the US [is a] signator[y].

Say, I've got an idea. Lets go ask the Lakota and the Cherokee Nations about what they think the value of the signature of the government of the US of A is worth when it comes to Treaties VS Resources?

Say, I've got an idea. Lets go ask the Lakota and the Cherokee Nations about what they think the value of the signature of the government of the US of A is worth when it comes to Treaties VS Resources?

Why not ask any Western country whose access to the market in raw materials was arranged by the United States? Do you know why the US Navy patrols the Persian Gulf even though little of the oil from there reaches the US? Bretton frickin' Woods.

"Lets go ask the Lakota and the Cherokee Nations..."
A History in nine minutes.

I'm sorry you did not understand the topic was signed treaties and Bretton Woods was an example.

But as you wish to keep the focus on Bretton Woods - care to comment on the gold convertibility part of the signed treaty? And how all the other nations that signed the treaty went back to the negotiation table and agreed to rescind that part of the treaty?

Perhaps Oilman Sachs can expand on the topic.

(Hint: Bretton Woods is another example of how much care is given to following the Rule of Law as noted above)

Nothing is free, something Canadians will learn in time.

Rocky - "we'll sell it to whoever offers us the most money": About time you canooks embraced the American way of doing business. LOL

I'm not a fan of the tar sands, but it would be very short sighted to stop the keystone pipeline and encourage them to build the Pacific pipeline and sell it to China. We will run out of oil soon enough without cutting off our nose.

Tarsands and the further development of coal will be the death of us all.

But as long as there are short term profits in it, who cares how badly we stick it to all future generations?

What have they ever done for us?

Yea! Like how past Tim is beyond the reach of Present Tim so he goes after Future Tim!


Thanks for the laugh. Needed it.

Now you are radiation proof, what with the laughing.

Ah, the wonders of enamel!

So true, but our parents punish us and say that they provided for us at the same time. And so we will punish our children, as we run the planet dry of resources.

As a first step to expanded exports, could Kinder Morgan shift the Trans Mountain pipeline to all crude oil for export, instead of batching crude oil and refined products?

That would seem to be a better use of capacity.

Yes, Kinder Morgan could swing a lateral off their Trans-Mountain pipeline to deliver crude oil to a Kitimat for shipment to countries such as China.

See Kinder Morgan proposes second Kitimat bitumen pipeline

The Kinder Morgan presentation says the Transmountain pipeline branch to Kitimat would cost $4 billion, compared to the $5,5 billion that Enbridge has budgeted for the Northern Gateway project. The Transmountain pipeline would have a capacity of 450 million barrels a day compared to the Northern Gateway capacity of 550 million barrels a day.

I could also talk about other plans they have, but it might scare the bejeesus out of people on the West Coast.

Kinder Morgan's Grand Plan to Pipe Oil Sands Crude

Tankers in Vancouver harbour to steeply increase. Second pipeline to Kitimat could eclipse proposed Enbridge project.

A quiet application to the National Energy Board (NEB) may soon vastly expand oil tanker traffic through the waters of Burrard Inlet, making Vancouver the major conduit of oils sands crude and bitumen to China.

They are also requesting to divert more Alberta crude and bitumen capacity to the Westbridge tanker terminal in Burrard Inlet and away from existing land-based refineries in B.C. and Washington. If approved, this would immediately expand crude capacity through Vancouver from 52,000 bpd to 79,000 bpd -- an increase of more than 50 per cent.

Documents filed by Kinder Morgan also state that revenues from this new funding model would be used to further expand the pipeline capacity to the Burnaby tanker terminal to 450,000 bpd -- a six-fold increase.

Stay tuned for updates on this developing story of how Vancouver, the "greenest city in the world," may quietly become the main tanker route for oil sands crude bound for China.

They could cross the US border at Sumas and follow the Nooksack to Anacortes. Better than than the ridiculous Northern Gateway proposal.

The TransMountain Pipeline already does ship substantial amounts of Canadian oil across the BC border to Washington State. From the 2011 CAPP Crude Oil Forecast, Markets and Pipeline Report

There are five refineries in Washington that have a combined capacity of 638,000 b/d. Alaska is still the primary source of feedstock for these refineries, however, Alaskan production continues to decline. As a result, these refineries are becoming increasingly dependent on imports from Canada and other countries....

In 2010, receipts of western Canadian crude were 151,800 b/d. These receipts are expected to increase slightly in 2011 and remain flat afterwards. Note that 2010 receipts were lower than normally expected due to refinery operational issues during the year.

The Washington State market is already saturated with Canadian crude oil and I doubt the US government is keen on expanding the pipeline so Canada can export bitumen to China through Anacortes, Washington.

OTOH, the Keystone XL proposal would be advantageous to the US in that it would deliver Canadian oil to US Gulf Coast refineries, and half of US refining capacity is on the US Gulf Coast. However, once it got to the Gulf Coast nothing would stop Texas oil marketers from re-exporting it to China, and they would do that, you know.

tstreet, Canada is the largest US supplier of crude. If we keep the crude then you have to beg your friend Chavez or the Saudi King.

There is a lot that we don't have to do. The U.S.,collectively, and, through its leaders chooses to aimlessly stumble further down the rocky and increasingly resource constrained twenty-first century. Darwinian is correct that there isn't much I can do or people on this site can do because people will do what they do. But, at the end of the day, people and governments make choices. While we should have begun 40 years ago, it is not too late to begin to make decisions that will make it possible to purposely decrease the amount of oil that is used by U.S. inhabitants in the future. Individuals also have certain choices, not everyone, but enough to make a difference.

The U.S., will, of course, choose to U.S. all the Canadian oil it can get ahold of regardless of the consequences to its balance of payments, the immediate environment, or the global environment.

At some point, there will not be any choice because we will be well on our way down the downward side of oil production. We can choose chaos or a planned descent that makes it possible to have the option of using less oil and still do things like get to work, shop, and engage in the other necessities of life like visit the Doctor. Most of us, of course, will choose chaos. Others will be better prepared because of vehicle choices, work choices, home choices, or location choices.

Right now, most of the U.S. and the world is in denial because most people believe that peak oil is just another hoax and a scam. As we speak, people are continuing to buy gas guzzlers and many bought their guzzlers in the last couple of years as if 2008 was an aberration Boo hoo for them.

The U.S., will, of course, choose to U.S. all the Canadian oil it can get ahold of regardless of the consequences to its balance of payments, the immediate environment, or the global environment.

Well, the alternative is to walk to work, bicycle, or take the electric train, and that appears not to be a viable option for most Americans. They possibly should have designed their urban environment somewhat differently (in 20/20 hindsight).

I personally always walked, bicycled, or took the electric train to work, but I'm Canadian and my job goal was to produce more oil to sell to Americans, not to use it myself.

"the alternative is to walk to work, bicycle, or take the electric train,"

Zoning and RMP requires residences be at least three miles from the plant, and nearest is about 4. Winter time temps in the morning, -10 F, and you'll be walking/biking in the dark, as sunrise is about 1/2 hour after the official start of the workday. That assumes we do not have one of the usual freezing fogs, which would at least be at +10 F, but forget visibility. Sunset is at quitting time, so it will be dark by the time you get home too. But the freezing fog means there is no wind, so count your blessings.

In the summer, the walk/ride home will be at 100 to 105. The morning walk will be quite pleasant at 55 to 60. Sunrise is about 5 AM, sunset at 9:30, so lots of daylight.

There is no train electric or otherwise. So that one is out. The company could run a shuttle-bus, but then all the employees would have to live reasonably close together, and come and go on schedule. Management's desire to extract unpaid overtime from the exempt employees would be in conflict with the need to avoid paying the hourly employees any overtime. So that is not going to happen either.

Once again, a wonderful notion crashes on the rocks of reality. Peak oil may yet be a greater reality, but so far it is not.

By the way, back in my mining days, the company did run vans from town to the mine site. It was great, as those of us riding the van had to get off work on time. Of course, if you missed it you were stuck there with the hourly workers on rotating shift. They got off at 7 PM, three and a half hours after day staff.

(PS. RMP is Risk Management Plan; my employer is covered under that program.)

It's easy to bang through and find out why you CAN'T..

..'the notion that crashes on the rocks of reality' MIGHT be the viability of that business, or of living in a certain location once made viable by cheap gas and diesel, instead of the prospect of changing the way you get to work.

Zoning and RMP requires residences be at least three miles from the plant, and nearest is about 4.

Zoning can be changed. I'm on the local town planning commission, so if it was a problem, I would just vote to approve a variance on the zoning. We do that all the time. We would only kill it if it was a bad idea.

There is no train electric or otherwise. So that one is out.

So build an electric train. We did that in Calgary, where I was on the local community association. It's just a matter of getting the votes out and getting it approved. You can get an awful lot of votes out if you are enthusiastic about something.

Once again, a wonderful notion crashes on the rocks of reality.

So, change the reality. A wonderful notion can become reality. The execution is just details.

LOL - the Empire's northern region is allowed to pretend that it's somehow an independent entity. It's a useful pretense that simplifies administration and keeps the locals content. If you want to test that out just try messing with the energy supply.

Actually, it is you guys that are testing that out out. The longer the US gov delays the new pipeline (Keystone XL) that would take Cdn crude to the Tx refineries, the more likely it is that we'll go ahead and build the two new pipelines to the west coast, and send the oil to China instead.

The more that goes there from here, the more you have to import from somewhere else - your call.

Hey, I agree with Tstreet - keep it!

Many Americans say, "Do it." China would love the oil to build more ghost cities. LOL. Not to be cynical. You need to build things with value, no, or is China just gonna buy all that oil with the promise that someday the Ghost towns will rise up and produce value. LOL.

No OCT, China is keen to get rid of your currency before it becomes worthless. The US does not need to build ghost cities; They have them already.

Oh you guys are salty today. Hey why the foul mood? The NYMEX is trading down today. What is the price point for profit from tar sand?
The US may have Ghost cities but it is far more productive per capita than Canada or China for that matter. So please do continue your rant about value.


What is the price point for profit from tar sand?

The current cost is about $45 per barrel. The current price is something over twice that.

The US may have Ghost cities but it is far more productive per capita than Canada or China for that matter.

Don't kid yourself. Ghost cities are the wave of the future for the US. Detroit ("Motor City") is the prototype.

And when were you there last? It's a city with people trying to create the city of the future. Is your city, or is it stuck squarely in BAU? You might have to redefine your concept of Ghost City because you might be in one. Struggling/metamorphosing do not equal ghost.

"Is your city, or is it stuck squarely in BAU?"

Here we go again. Wheee. RMG and some of us discussed this at great and argumentative length the other day. You must have missed it.

Discussed what?

The state of RMG's [former] city, Calgary; see below.

I haven't been in Detroit. I have been across the Detroit River from it, but given the murder rate in Detroit, it didn't seem prudent to actually go there. The Canadian side of the river was much safer.

Detroit's population is down to what it was in 1910, and the population decline does not appear to be slowing.

Detroit's Population Decline: 1 Person Departed Every 22 Minutes

And so you know the city? You're aware it's still got more than 700,000 people? Regardless, you have a strange notion of ghost city, and really should consider not insulting 700,000 people at a time. You have no idea what's going on, which is reason enough for you to think twice before speaking.

Interestingly, whites are increasing their numbers.

I can read the statistics - in 1950, Detroit had 1.8 million people. By 2010, the population had dropped to just over 700,000. That means 1.1 million people packed up and moved out. I don't really need to go there to look at the boarded-up houses and vacant lots.

I am used to cities going the other direction. Calgary, where I lived for many years, had about 100,000 people in 1950. By 2010 it was over 1 million - i.e. bigger than Detroit.

Oh, for pete's sake RMG, you don't have to go there. Just do a couple minutes of googling around and you will find out that Detroit has become the Garden City. Neighborhoods that had been torn down were replanted with fruit trees and gardens, whole sections of the city have been returned to agricultural purposes...

Pri-de is right in the middle of it, and you and we all could learn a whole lot about what a positive outcome of collapse could look like if we just quiet down and listen up--or at least do a touch of research before assuming we all know everything about everything (as I supposed we are all genetically programmed to do, being mostly guys around here, and all.)

Planners from all over the country do regular pilgrimages to Detroit to learn from their experience. Huge international conferences on sustainability have been held there because of their world wide fame in turning a "ghost city" as you call it into a beautiful garden. I'm sure there are still huge challenges and problems, and yes, the murder rate is still high (but the gangstas are mostly killing each other--you are probably not on their radar screen, so relax). But while you weren't paying attention, Detroit turned from a symbol of ultimate urban blight into a bright beacon of how to construct a post peak sustainable urban landscape.

Here's one of many sites you might have found if you would have bothered to take a few seconds of your time:


Don't look at it, though, if your stereotypes are more precious to you than reality.

Are you going to believe that web site or believe Google Earth?

I was to Detroit last summer, and the empty lots were mostly empty lots.

The vegetables sold at Eastern Market were mostly from rural Michigan.

Did I say it was a perfect paradise?

What is important is that even under extremely dire situation, they are finding a way to start to turn the place into something productive.

The main point is, if they can create areas of urban agriculture under such extreme circumstances, many places less far down the slope could do the same and much more.

Deindustrializing Detroit and turning it back into farmland may appeal to some people, but the fact is that the city is undergoing economic collapse. The true unemployment rate is nearly 50% and the crime rate is sky-high - a lot of the residents are making a living by stealing from or selling drugs to the other residents. The city government has a huge deficit and the tax base is steadily shrinking. It can no longer provide basic services, and its response is to bulldoze a quarter of the city and close half of its schools.

The basic urban planning survival strategy in the post-peak-oil era will be to densify cities, make them walkable and bicycleable, build in-fill housing, add more stories to buildings, and provide fast, efficient public transit. Detroit is doing none of these things. It is in a death spiral.

The correct response to you is unprintable here, regardless of how true, but suffice to say, as usual, you have no idea what you are talking about.


That is the city-lead effort. There are at least four other independent processes going on around the city.

I am appalled at your behavior.

Right. The city has been undergoing economic collapse since the seventies.

That is exactly what makes it such a vital test ground for all the rest of our futures.

Do you not think that the rest of the country is now in the early stages of total economic (and many other -ic) collapse?

Why wouldn't looking at cities that got a 'head start' on economic collapse be a useful thing to do?

Some places may indeed become more dense. But that is not what happened here, so let's learn from what actually did happen, without complaining that it's not paradise.

Right now, lots of cities and suburbs have lots of areas where no one or hardly anyone is living in the houses. It takes bold vision to see that those houses are never going to be filled again, and that it is best to take them down and reuse the materials and the land for more productive purposes.

Do you think that there is a happier future than that for most of urban and suburban America?

If so, let's see your shiny, happy plans, and your living examples of how they are being carried out right now.

To be clear, no on is arguing that Detroit is not in terrible straits. Just that there are things going on there, positive and negative, that may point toward how things could unfold elsewhere. If you can only see the negative, well I guess that's your mindset to mull in.

Peak population was actually in 1950. There was nothing wrong with Detroit that the auto industry not leaving would not have fixed. Had they stayed, Detroit would be one of the largest, most vibrant cities in the US, so rather than demonizing Detroit, perhaps we should demonize the actual culprits: GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Yep. Don't get me wrong. I am in no way demonizing the residents. Michail Moore and others have done a great job of detailing the mechanisms of the intentional destruction of this vibrant community.

Another point is that "economic decline" will be harder and harder to measure. As more and more of the "economy" goes underground, we won't be able to tell what the real real economy is doing.

Besides the usual stereotype of the black market, more and more of the 'economy' will be outside of the official economy. Vegetables will be traded for services or other goods...

This will not be registered in any standard economic study or stats so it will always be dismissed as non-existent or worse. This of course has always been the problem with standard economics. As long as there is money involved, they can measure it, if not, it doesn't exist. As more and more people moved off the farm where they were largely self sufficient or could get by mostly with barter, they entered the cash economy. This was heralded as a great success by economist, but it is not clear that it really represented an improvement in peoples lives or in the life of the land.

It is time to return to an economy that is mostly not mediated by money.

Don't get me wrong. I am in no way demonizing the residents.

That was understood.

It is time to return to an economy that is mostly not mediated by money.

Which some of us are doing.

"Which some of us are doing."

To the loud applause of at least some of us.

So if I do decide to relocate to the new urban frontier, what neighborhoods look most promising for an up and coming urban farmer?

Oh, now, you know there's no answer for that. Budget? Goals? Activist, homesteader, businessperson, skilled worker, doctor, carpenter...? And on and on. Most people have bought into the dense urban concept that I find faulty. I see no evidence in our pat, with the exception of Caral, of that being a good idea. None of the concepts I use to assess what is happening, nor that i think fit with a greatly perturbed future, seem amenable to urban density unless one wishes to create sustainability via serfdom or slavery, because that's the only way 10 or 20% of the population will support the needs of the other 80%. Still, most people want to move into the primary road corridors and existing higher density neighborhoods.

With some clear idea of what you'd be coming for, I might be able to give you some idea of where to look first. A speculator would be buying property along Woodward where the light rail should be going in.

Why wouldn't looking at cities that got a 'head start' on economic collapse be a useful thing to do?

Detroit is a useful case study if what you want to look at is how a city based on conflict as an organizing principle functions.

Detroit is a result of:
- labor versus management,
- black versus white,
- immigrants versus southern whites,
- progressives versus conservatives,
- poor versus wealthy,
etc, etc, over more than 5 decades.

Southern whites?

I didn't know they were a major factor in the demography of the city.

Did you mean northern whites?

All cities have such conflicts. The main one that undermined that city was management destroying labor by off shoring their jobs. Of course, that also is not unique to Detroit. Of course, the riots in the '60s didn't help, I imagine.


Off shoring was not so much a problem as:
- imports eroding the labor management compact that passed labor increases along to the car buyers,
- import brands establishing factories in right to work states,
- automation and increased productivity that reduced labor hours per vehicle,
- reliability and quality advantages of the import brands,
- reliance on leasing and financial services instead of manufacturing.

Another factor related to poor quality was the planned obsolescence which incentivised people to trade in their car after about 3 years, as well as the association of poor quality with small cars for young families and better quality with larger cars for older, richer folks. Imports provided long lasting products with high quality small cars.

Don't look at it, though, if your stereotypes are more precious to you than reality.

Are you kidding me! You show a picture of the inside of a greenhouse and a couple of pictures from some farm somewhere, perhaps in Michigan. Give me a break. Here is Detroit today. Don't look at it, though, if your stereotypes are more precious to you than reality.

Detroit Today

Ron P.

Sorry, Ron. You are the one that can't see reality for your preconceptions. Look at what you said: "a couple of pictures from some farm somewhere, perhaps in Michigan." Well, you are right. It is in Michigan. In DETROIT, Michigan.

That is called urban farming, and you apparently can't see it past your stereotypes even if it is staring you in the face.

Yes, Detroit is still full of blight. Big deal. Same is true of nearly every other city in the nation.

What is amazing is that in some areas they have turned urban blight into beautiful gardens and, yes, farms.

Is it the whole city? No.

Is it pretty neat that it is happening at all?

I think so.

You can't seem to bring yourself to believe that it is happening at all.

I guess we are all locked in our presuppositions, to some extent.

Participation in gardens and gardening, as people begin to recognize the many advantages to health, economic opportunities, educational value (dozens of school gardens), and, most of all, the sovereignty it provides, is growing by something like 25% a year, and that is just participation in the Garden Resource program.

There are people facing down big business on pollution, and winning. Major - though obviously sometimes misguided - like our friends here who refuse to investigate something as simple as gardening like nature does - redevelopment efforts are going on all over.

Grassroots information campaigns, community organizing, revival of citizens' councils...

Much of the development is currently BAU-based and is not what needs to be done to protect the future, but that is the same almost everywhere, and people are working on that aspect, too. The Environmental Summit, part of Detroit Works, was taken over by grass roots efforts and came away stating ecological services must be at the center of city efforts.

So, while Ron and RMG spew venom, we are changing the future.

Thanks for the input, pri-de. If you have any additional links to help illuminate our hazy discussion, that would be appreciated (by me, at least).

I don't really like to rain on your parade, but you have to face reality - Detroit is a city in trouble, and has been so for some time. It is facing the decline in employment in its main industry - automobile manufacturing - and needs to find an alternative source of employment for its people. I don't think urban gardening is that source of employment. It needs a different "Plan B".

I think that automobile manufacturing is an industry that is gradually going to fade away in the post-peak-oil era, and that is an issue that cities are going to have to deal with. For most cities, it is going to be the serious problem of finding alternative ways for their population to get around if they can't afford to drive. Most cities are in a state of denial about the reality of that problem. For Detroit, the problem is much worse because it has to find new industries to employ them as well.

For the city I often use an example of being prepared for PO - Calgary - it is much simpler. It already has the most successful light rail system in North America - wind-powered at that - it has the largest bicycle path system in North America, it has a skywalk system that covers the entire downtown core, it is increasing the population density of its suburbs, putting in more transit, trying to make neighborhoods pedestrian friendly, and taking other measures to move people away from automobiles. But, compared to Detroit its main advantage is that it has almost no dependence on auto manufacturing or other industries that are going to be hurt by increasing oil prices, and so faces the loss of almost no jobs in the post-peak-oil era.

You need to distinguish between the city of Detroit, a wasteland of 143.0 sq mi with a population of 713,777, and the Detroit urban area of 1,295 sq mi and a population of 3,863,924.


The city of Detroit has no future, mainly because of the politics.

The suburban ring is suitable for redevelopment with a new linear transportation system going around the city and connecting new dense developments in a string of "edge cities".

"I don't think urban gardening is that source of employment."

You don't think it can play a role. I do. We disagree. Let's see what happens.

By the way, the term is urban agriculture. People can actually get assistance from farm programs if they just keep records and file as farmers. With the right policies, people can make some money on it. Which is better than the NO money many are getting from most of the rest of the economy.

I am glad to hear about Calgary's mass transit and biking infrastructure. Do you have mad bikers that ride right through the winter there like we do here in Minneapolis?

source of employment != meaningful work.

Human labor WRT plant management in urban environments won't be "employment" due to the low cost of machine powered versions at this time along with simple things like theft of the limited crops by your neighbours like birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer and humans.

Where do you people get this stuff? Meaningful incomes are already being made.

By the way, the term is urban agriculture. People can actually get assistance from farm programs if they just keep records and file as farmers.

You can call it urban gardening or urban agriculture, but I'm not a fan of governments subsidizing agriculture - it encourages people to do things which don't make any economic sense. Gardening is a good source of relaxation and recreation for city dwellers, and it allows people to cut their food costs by growing their own vegetables and possibly chickens and eggs, but it's not a viable source of employment for urban dwellers, and that's what cities really need to provide - good jobs for the residents. If there are no jobs there is no point in having a city.

I am glad to hear about Calgary's mass transit and biking infrastructure. Do you have mad bikers that ride right through the winter there like we do here in Minneapolis?

Yes, many of my friends continued to bike to work at 40 below. I was personally less determined and took the train at low temperatures. Many people agreed with me, so the trains were absolutely jammed during cold snaps. Actually I think the fact that many people's cars wouldn't start had something to do with the crowded trains, too.

I gotta go to visit Detroit. Me, my camera and some abandoned buildings, and I am as happy as a kid before he's told mom and dad ain't gonna live together anymore.

I haven't been in Detroit. I have been across the Detroit River from it, but given the murder rate in Detroit, it didn't seem prudent to actually go there.

Well, I haven't been to Detroit either but for the record I did move to NYC at a time when the murder rate was pretty darn high there, guess what, I didn't get murdered, even though I lived in what was then know as Hell's Kitchen. Neither did quite a few million other people. Though we did get a lot of straw in our hair from the marauding hordes of strawmen, from whom we had to continuously defend ourselves...

Oh, yeah, I now live in the greater Miami area... veeeeery peligroso, hombre, chu don wanna go there, if you look like me, that's like a fair skinned gringo, damn my Danish and Hungarian ancestors! Go to West Palm Beach it's much safer.

According to United States cities by crime rate, the violent crime rate per 1000 population was:

Detroit 19.67
Miami 11.89
New York    5.52

New York is actually one of the safer large cities in the US. Detroit is the second most dangerous after St. Louis.

New York is actually one of the safer large cities in the US.

Not when I moved there it wasn't. Anyways, It seems I now live in the second most dangerous city in the US as I said, veeeery peligroso! I wouldn't worry about visiting Detroit either, though I might not do it in January... not too sure I could handle that anymore >;^)

Miami isn't the second most dangerous city in the US - it actually ranks about 14th. I left out the 12 cities between Detroit and Miami.

If you want to live a safe city, the easiest way to do it is to move across the border to Canada.

Crime rate per 100,000 people, 2004

City Murder Robbery
Detroit   42.1  596 
Miami   17.9  615 
New York   7.0  301 
Toronto   1.8  103 
Montreal   1.7  150 
Ottawa   1.1  84 

Why '04, RMG? Got a bias on?

Crime in Detroit, Michigan has declined significantly since the 1970s. In 2007, the city had the sixth highest number of violent crimes among the twenty-five largest cities.[1] FBI reports for 2008 show that the numbers of violent crimes dropped 11.6% in the city of Detroit,[2] continuing a downward trend: overall, crime in the city of Detroit dropped 23 percent from 2000 to 2004.[3] In 2010, city of Detroit neighborhoods were not listed as among those in major cities with the 25 highest crime rates in the U.S. as reported by NeighborhoodScout.com.[4]

Crime is unevenly distributed throughout the city. A 2006 study showed crime in downtown Detroit (CBD) is much lower than national, state and metro averages.

Why '04, RMG? Got a bias on? Crime in Detroit, Michigan has declined significantly since the 1970s.

Crime in Canadian cities has declined significantly since the 1970's as well.

It's a continent-wide trend that probably relates to aging of the baby-boom generation. However, crime in Canadian cities declined from a much lower starting point, and that has nothing to do with demographics.

Yet, I am not dead.

You'd think someone so intent on telling people how they are currently living and what a city they have never been to is all about would understand that even with such a crime rate, the chance of any one person being a victim is not much different than the chance you'll get hit by lightning.

Two years, still not dead.

Two years, still not dead.

Much the same can be said by heavy cell-phone users, consumers of evil wicked industrial food, dwellers in the non-evacuated Chernobyl fallout zones, and countless others; and it will likewise eventually be said by countless people in the Fukushima zones. Only the number of years is almost always far larger than a mere two. And despite that, we're constantly favored with endless fevered histrionic blathering, bloviation, and outright fearmongering over risks such as those, which vary from minor to nonexistent. Indeed, to credit all the noisy hyperventilation, we should all already be dead many times over.

So: you can't have it both ways.

Can't spend fifty years training everyone to go ape over next to nothing, then snap your fingers at whim and expect them to accept substantial risks just like that. The mental compartments are never that airtight. And from the numbers shown above, one's lifetime chance of being murdered in Detroit would approximate a not inconsequential 3%, and of being robbed, a highly consequential almost 50-50. No thanks. It's all yours.

So: you can't have it both ways.

Can't spend fifty years training everyone to go ape over next to nothing, then snap your fingers at whim and expect them to accept substantial risks just like that. The mental compartments are never that airtight.

I have no idea what your point is. Try again?

And from the numbers shown above, one's lifetime chance of being murdered in Detroit would approximate a not inconsequential 3%, and of being robbed, a highly consequential almost 50-50. No thanks. It's all yours.

For whom? Do you think the murder rate is equal for non-drug involved people vs. drug involved, e.g.?

Cherry pick elsewhere; not interested.

In Mexico you don't need to be involved in drugs to be killed in drugs-related violence.

Nor anywhere else (does this really bear discussing?), but pretty much everywhere the deaths are within that community, and by a wide margin. Mexico has an issue with kidnappings and killings of police for fun and profit, but Detroit is not Mexico.

Hot tip:

Death can come from just being "there" as is the case in the US of A. Or, say Iraq or Libya.

Illegality creates an environment where the rule of law can not be used to settle a matter and disputes will be settled by other means.

Just a guess, but it seems that you were interpreting some posts as an invitation to come live in beautiful downtown Detroit. I'm not sure any such was proffered, and I'm very unsure that pri-de would want anyone of your ilk anywhere near his potato patch.

I don't have any definite plans of moving there myself, though there are some pretty sweet deals on houses there. I do applaud those urban pioneers who are making a go of it there, though, and I think a lot of what they are doing seems quite exiting.

Perhaps just a different aesthetic?

Don't kid yourself. Ghost cities are the wave of the future for the US. Detroit ("Motor City") is the prototype.

Then we're sitting pretty. Detroit's problems are entirely political and human. And they are being resolved, block by block. Detroit remains an important port city, with cheap access to iron ore and affordable access to fuel. And surrounded by good farmland. The ghost cities of China have nothing. Not even decent ground water. (A friend of mine teaches in Detroit. The place is not inhabited by demons and monsters. They're humans. All too human.)

Proportionately speaking (remember that China has four times the population of the US), the ratio of unoccupied houses to total houses in China is about the same as in the US.

China is rapidly urbanizing and there are hundreds of millions of people moving from rural areas to urban ones. One of the characteristics of this movement is that they can fill up a city of several million in only a few years. They are building cities on the "build it and people will come" principle.

Developers do the same thing in the US, it's just that the number of houses doesn't run into the millions.

LOL. The built one city 5 years ago and yet STILL it is (wait for it) unoccupied. Many more the same story. 5 Years and no one lives there.

What are you peddling? And all the rural folks move in with zero education and you expect value to be created. LMAO. It is a ponzi scheme and everyone with a brain knows it.

All that Oil is being wasted developing a ghost country for peasants that cannot afford the housing units.

RMG, you cherry pick a city that clearly suffers from automation of a single major industry. OK.

But you failed to address the bigger picture. Why are Canada and China unable to produce as much as the old U.S. of A.?

Cause construction jobs do not create as much value.

That is all there is to it.

China is merely using materials produced by the DOW industrials to build housing units in ghost cities. It is not economic growth. It is more or less cancer on the global civilization since it is sucking resources without building out value for the future.

It's not NIMBY as much as "what's in it for me?". If the lines do not get built, we will enjoy the $20 spread. If they get built, we will enjoy world pricing for oil. Which makes more sense to the locals? It's in the US players interest to get the oil to Cushing. Can't see how it would be, to take it much further.

Obviously the solution is to get enough local skin in the game to make the deal work. The local politicos and power brokers, with some money thrown to the transit land-owners, will make the deal happen eventually. The mistake was to not have the local players involved in the deal from the outset, perhaps with an ownership stake. They probably will stall it forever until they are in the game. Why wouldn't they?

That $20 per barrel would grease a lot of palms. Spread some of it around, and maybe you can build the pipeline. I figure making the deal will cost a little less than it would to push a pipeline west instead - until you have an alternative, you have no leverage.

Rocky - Don't know the details but I assume it's like every pipeline deal I've ever been involved in: it's never about preventing the lay but how big the check is and who gets it. You write a big enough check to the right person(s) and you can lay it right across LBJ's grave. This is Texas, after all. LOL.

You write a big enough check to the right person(s) and you can lay it right across LBJ's grave. This is Texas, after all. LOL.

Canada is somewhat similar, the only difference is that they apologize after driving over the grave with the bulldozer. They still drive over the grave. The Chinese are writing some pretty big checks these days, and it does cause the politicians to see their point of view.

I am still puzzling over this WTI/Brent spread and how it relates, if at all, to recent Fed action.

On the one hand, how can one argue that QEII has been responsible for commodity price increases when the one exclusively US market is the lagging market?
On the other hand, perhaps this widening spread signals market anticipation there will be no QEIII?

Or perhaps there is no causal relationship whatsoever between Fed actions and world oil prices?
A couple prominent posters here have said that without rapid introduction of QEIII they expect oil to drop 30-50%, back to $50 to $70. I think they are wrong on that, but... I seem to be consistently wrong in my expectations.
I expected oil prices to de-couple from stock market movements by now and yet they still seem to track while what is becoming de-coupled is WTI and all other world markets.

Is the US going to be a price maker or a price taker, will other markets follow us down or not?
Can Bernanke and Geithner engineer a US demand drop that leads to a significant oil price decrease without risking a market plunge?
Will Bernanke take the counsel offered him, be patient, sit on his hands and then watch long-term interest rates rise, growth stall and unemployment increase through the summer and into the fall?

Economists Warn Against More Fed Action

My personal opinion is that the WTI is becoming closer and closer by the day to the Silver Market (and other commodities markets) , which are indirectly controlled by central banks and other large institutions and whose goal is to keep the price as low as possible for a variety of reasons. If would not surprise me at all if the spread between WTI and Brent increases even more. They can for sure decrease or at least keep the WTI stable for some time: for how long? well this is not an easy question , but I can give you somewhat an upper limit (the "supremum" in mathematical terms). The Soviet Union (SU) lasted approximately for 70 years and there the prices were fixed from the top: anyone who disagreed was sent to Siberia or to the graveyard. However, the major stagnation period and the main economic and financial problems which then led to the dissolution of the SU started at the time of Breznev in the 70s: therefore, I can say that in the US they can keep the commodities more or less under control (at least with no triple digit inflation growth) for approximately 20 years before the situation goes out of control. Anyway, I repeat the SU represents in some sense the most positive case for price controls, since they were imposed with "manu militari", while in the US they have to resort to financial engineering and shorts bombarding in the future markets to control (more or less) the commodities prices.

Well, food for thought!

WTI is suffering from competition from increasing amounts of Canadian and North Dakota oil which is flooding the trading hub at Cushing, OK and driving down prices. At the same time the price of Brent is being driven up by increased demand from China and India, and the failure of OPEC to provide more oil to meet that demand. The increasing spread has more or less nothing to do with American politics.

Well, actually there is a bit of a political angle. If the US government expedited approval of a pipeline from Cushing to the Coast, and marketers could put WTI on a tanker and ship it to China, the prices would equalize. US politicians are dragging their feet on that approval.

Agree with the oil glut at Cushing and the demand from China and India, but with almost 23$ spread you can make a nice profit by rail or truck.

I am sorry but the political angle is much more than a "bit": the maximum spread allowed without any political intervention would be 10$-12$ after which you could potentially arbitrage (net of costs). No one likes to pay a higher energy bill and they will try to keep it lower as long as it will be possible

I'm betting that the larger recent spread has something to do with barge traffic being reduced. To create a business to take advantage of price arbitrage you gotta set up then infrastructure, trucks/train-cars-barges, terminals etc. That requires time/capital, and can't respond to short time changes in conditions. So if barge traffic is unexpectedly reduced, then the rest of the infrastructure isn't there to take up the slack. Conversely if the shipping difficulties cease, I would expect the delta to be reduced. We will have to wait and see if that happens once the waters calm.

How long one'd need that spread to last for recovering the investiments needed for moving the oil by rail? And how would the rail's price increase?

My bet is that the spread is increasing because everybody is perplexed with it, and expecting it to go down.

(Tongue firmly in cheek) The Speculators have only been successful with Brent so far, and not WTI.

In the world, at the limits to growth
by David Korowicz

Even were our economy in the rudest of health, it could still face ruin. That is because we are dependent upon, and interwoven with, the globalised economy. And the globalised economy cannot stand the convergence in real time of constraints in its primary enabling energy resource-oil; its primary human constraint-food, and loss of trust in the credit that makes economic life possible. This convergence marks the end of economic growth, and initiates powerful destabilising shocks and stresses to the globalised economy. Because of this, across the political spectrum, people are claiming solutions for a predicament that cannot be solved. They are claiming a level of insight and dominion over systems they can barely intuit and over which they have little and declining control. The electorate assumes there must be a solution to get us out of recession, a way to reverse what we have come to call ‘austerity’. More than that, we demand the right to the realisation of their expectations- our pensions and purchasing power, jobs and savings, health and education services. . . .

What everybody wants and needs is a sudden and explosive increase in the production of real goods and services (GDP) to make their continual debt requirements serviceable. But that, even were it remotely possible, would require a big increase in oil flows through the global economy, just as global oil production has peaked and begins its decline. It cannot happen. This means that the global financial system is essentially insolvent now. The only choice is default or inflation on a global scale. . .

Yes, we can and will build a largely local economy out of the ruins of a collapsed globalised one. It will be a much poorer one and one where we will have lost much of what we take for granted. It can also provide a good life, where our basic needs are met, where meaningful lives can be lived, and a rich texture of experience found.

"Because of this, across the political spectrum, people are claiming solutions for a predicament that cannot be solved."

I suspect that 2010 marked the start of "Revolving Door" politics in the US, as the electorate votes against the dominant political party on two year and four year cycles--basically a continuing series of shakeups in the makeup of the officers in charge of the USS Titanic, after we hit the iceberg in 2005.

The political process worldwide is going into fibrilation. The only possible de-fib is a sudden find of cheap easily produced resources. Unfortunately economically speaking we will likely soon see the other way fibrilation stops ... death.

My favorite Kurt Cobb essay, which has a chart showing the entire US economy resting on the shoulders of the food & energy producers:

Upside down economics
by Kurt Cobb


That's an excellent graphic. Should be required in every economics textbook.

What's amazing is that anyone could think it would be otherwise...but then humans are amazing creatures ;P

This, in a nutshell, is why I'm such pessimist/ doomerist. While many folks get bits and pieces of what's going on, they come up short drawing the big picture and don't recognise the nature of predicament. That they all of us will be required to adapt to dramatically changing conditions, it is unthinkable, to most folks in the west especially, that they will have to give up many of the things they take for granted. After all, we humans are exceptional, forcing the world to bow to our needs and wants. Insisting that it's going to be the other way around is blasphemy.

This ship is unsinkable,,, right?

The ship is fragile, and will break up like a large raft rather than going down like the Titanic.

Some pieces will be too small for the people stuck on them and will sink, others will continue on. Lots of people will fall through gaps as it separates.

Some parts of the world will turn out to be not any worse off than they are today, and may even come out ahead in the transition.

It won't be pretty, but it never was.

"Some parts of the world will turn out to be not any worse off than they are today, and may even come out ahead in the transition."

Nobody will come out ahead, even oil exporting countries. Many products will simply disappear because demand won't be large enough to justify production, even for those who can pay top dollar.

Some countries will be better able to survive than others. Russia, for example, exports oil, natural gas and coal. No doubt they will have the last laugh over the US.

I don't pretend to be able to pick who will win or lose in the coming years, but I will be quite surprised if nobody comes out a relative winner.

It could be a current power, or it could be new development from a country that's down right now. Welcome to "interesting times".

Using today's world material prosperity as a baseline, I find it doubtful there will be any country, including oil exporters, that will better off in a Post-Peak Oil world. As you said, there will be relative winners, but that's not exactly a positive forecast.

Much depends on the time frame you are speaking of. if you mean over, say, the next hundred+ years, if there are winners and losers, we will all lose in the end. perhaps a few people rich enough to terraform themselves a sanctuary on land or in the sea might be called winners. We will learn to cooperate and live sustainably or we will all lose. The tipping points are already hear. If we pass them substantially, there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

"Russia, for example, exports oil, natural gas and coal. No doubt they will have the last laugh over the US."

I don't think so. The US has plenty of coal and natural gas (if we are willing to frac for it). As sea levels rise, they lose St Petersburg, we lose Miami. We lose the lowland on the Gulf coat, they lose the tundra margins over how many thousands of miles?

Even better, DC (sea level, as in Tidal Basin) will drown before Moscow (512 ft).

I hope you're right, but I suspect Americans' unrealistic expectations regarding natural resources will eventually do the US in, if it hasn't already. Also, may I point you to Russian oil consumption of about 3 million bpd which is significantly lower than Americans'. It will be a long time before Russians are wanting for oil. Of course, this is of a more immediate concern to Europe than the US since Russia is right next door.

Don't forget Russia is dropping population, the US is building. Right now Russia is on the losing streak because of this, but when it becomes clear pop is a liability and not an asset, they will score.

The two real negatives with Russia in my eyes besides some quite extensive polution catastrophys is a) their leadership and b) permanent droughts in southern Russia, where they grow lots of their food, wich will become reality in time with climate change.

Yep, one of the great breadbaskets of the world is rapidly becoming desert. The plains of the US will soon follow, especially as the fossil water is used up at the same time as the temperature goes up. FW situation in China and North India is similar, and droughts in middle and north China have taken their toll in the last year, to exacerbate the problem that more and more of the river water that does flow through the region is becoming unusable because of industrial pollution.

Lots of bad coming down the track fast.

I tend to agree.

Both the D and R parties have represented themselves as Santa Claus to the electorate, the Ds by promising that public investment will bring prosperity and the Rs by promising that tax cuts will bring prosperity. Since neither is working, the electorate expresses their frustration by swinging their votes (at the margin) from one side to the other. The turnover in elected officials seems higher, many opting out when they realize they can't be Santa Claus any longer. (No, Virginia....)

If a politician opts out that doesn't care about getting re-elected, one that says things his constituents don't want to hear only because he thinks it's true, that could be a sign the end of our economy as we know it is near. Are there any out there like that?

The Global economy dies in 2007. LOL. That lasted about 10 years.

The only choice is default or inflation on a global scale. . .

Hadn't thought of it that way until I read that line, but it hit hard as the truth. It's one or the other, causing the ship to list...

I suspect that 2010 marked the start of "Revolving Door" politics in the US, as the electorate votes against the dominant political party on two year and four year cycles

It's macalbly hilarious how the uninformed populace obviously think they just need to vote in the right person or people to right the ship, when in fact it makes no difference, because none of them can muster up enough cheap oil to keep the ship afloat indefinitely.

They voted in Obama for change (which was historical) then swung the House by voting in a historically high number of Repubs, and now will probably vote someone in to replace Mr. Change (who turned out to be Mr. Mediator) but the results will be the same, because it doesn't matter if the ship lists too far to port or starboard, it's still listing too far due to the absence of cheap energy.

IMO, your "revolving door" started in 2006, which of course changed nothing.

I came across this site: www.chrismartenson.com He sums up his position:

My name is Chris Martenson. I think the next twenty years are going to look very different from the last twenty. I want you to understand why.

New here? Start with the Crash Course. This series of videos clearly explains how our economy, energy systems and environment face increasing challenges, and explores likely implications for the future.

I've watched the free videos in the Crash Course, 19 topic areas in 21 modules. I found it very illuminating, though I'm not sure what to change in my life based on his ideas. Martenson certainly agrees with Korowicz, quoted above, about the choices for the global financial system. The videos give details on the mess, using data from the USA, but applicable more generally to all the Western-style economies, IMO.

Thinking about his treatment of energy and society in parts 17a - 17c ("Peak Oil", "Energy Economics", and "Energy & the Economy") in which he discusses ERoEI, highgrading, and depletion has given me a great sense of urgency about energy. We're using proportionately more and more energy (declining ERoEI) on more and more dilute resources (we've highgraded everything) while expanding our use of energy, metals, and arable land. Three nonlinear functions combined in the worst way, which really worries me. Knock out the Agriculture and Forestry and Mining including Oil and Gas blocks in the Ecological Economist's View of US GDP chart in the Upside down economics article referenced earlier and a lot of things will tumble down. Hopefully I've put the image in here:

I don't see business leaders and politicians taking this seriously enough. We need to be building robust energy systems to keep supporting this stack.

"We need to be building robust energy systems to keep supporting this stack."

Or not.

Much of the top half of the stack is useless or worse than useless--particularly the very top slab.

What we need is to get back to a simpler system much more committed to that bottom green block--agriculture and forestry.

Dubai Metro to carry 17% of all trips

when the second Metro line opens this fall. And at least two more Metro lines are planned plus feeder tram lines and extensions of the first Metro lines.



And Qatar plans to bid their first Metro in three months.


Some people are investing in oil free transportation.

Best Hopes for Oil Free Transportation and Reduced Export Land Model,


PS: Dubai pump prices may rise by 33%


On transit, and specifically on the NYT article above "Saving Juice on Phili Subways"


An engineer friend of mind was commissioned to study the feasibility of just such a regenerative braking set up in Boston. After working many long hours on it, he presented it to the transit engineers. His take on it was that they didn't adopt it because they couldn't understand it. I can't remember how many millions of dollars per year could have been saved, but it was substantial.

I wonder how many great projects never got implemented because of lack of adequate education, understanding or imagination on the part of decision makers.

The last time I rode the Green Line in Boston (the underground trolley car line) about ten years ago, there were still many dozens of large incandescent lamps in the tunnels near the Park Street Station, especially at the balloon track where eastbound trains are turned to go back west toward BU. These were either 250 or 400 watts each as I recall, and they had a special designation as “street railways lamps” or something like that, probably designed either to survive high vibration or to have longer life between replacements, or both, which usually means even lower than usual efficiency. I wonder if they are still there? Does anyone on TOD ride the Green Line occasionally?

Well, there was a line of specialized "street railway lamps" that had a couple of interesting features. The first was that they were filled with an absolute vacuum rather than inert gas, and the second was that they had an insulated base designed to prevent arcing at 600 volts DC.

I think the idea was that they used 5 of them in series on a 600 V DC circuit rather than putting individual bulbs in parallel on a 120 V AC circuit. The vacuum prevented arcing inside the bulb and the insulated base prevented damage in the event a filament failed in a series string at 600 volts. Apparently if you use regular incandescent bulbs you can have some pretty spectacular fireworks when a bulb fails in one of these old 600 VDC systems.

It's historically interesting, but I think rewiring it for 120 V AC fluorescent lights would be more practical in a modern installation, even if they continue to run the trains at 600 V DC.


It never occurred to me that these lights might be running on DC current, but I do remember that many of them were in bunches of five. This would explain why they were installed many decades ago, but it doesn't explain why they were still in use in 2000. The only reason I can think of is that the management at MBTA just didn't care, because the money for the electric bills wasn't coming out of their pockets.

I wonder how many great projects never got implemented because of lack of adequate education, understanding or imagination on the part of decision makers.

Allow me to rephrase this to present a different point-of-view:

"I wonder how many great projects never got implemented because of a lack of clear and simple communication on the part of specialists."

It's one thing to come up with a solution for a problem. For a lot of us that's the fun part. But where that ends is where the communication part begins and that can be an even bigger challenge. Witness mainstream acceptance of what we discuss right here on TOD.


I will second that. The first GM I ever worked for, upon seeing my first presentation, said to go away and "dumb it down to a GM level" and then try again. He said that he assumes I have the technical details right, that's why I was employed, but he wanted to know what it meant for him, not how good I thought it was.

This doesn't mean you engage in "marketing" speak, but you do have to put yourself in the decision makers shoes, and design your presentation from there. There are many cases where the techos poor communication is the reason things don't go ahead.

There are, unfortunately, also cases where a slick presentation of a flawed concept does go ahead, and this, too, is ultimately the fault of the specialists.

"Dumb it down to management level" is pretty routine in the corporate world. You can actually say that to managers, and they won't mind, because they have no interesting in reading anything at a technical specialist level. They want a document that they can read fast and understand easily, because they don't have a lot of time on their hands.

That's where the "Executive Summary" comes in. You write the 64-page technical document with all the big words and incomprehensible mathematics, and on the front you attach the 1-page Executive Summary written in simple English. The executives only read page 1, and hand the rest over to the support staff. They assume that what you say is correct because otherwise they would have fired you long ago.

I am unable to remember who wrote this, but the quote I remember is "communication occurs along lines of equality".

I am the only IT guy left in my organisation (which was subsumed into a larger one 18 moths ago. The IT manager and all support staff were fired or left in the last 2 1/2 years. We are an internet organisation, running on hardware over ten years old.

Senior management and the IT staff at head office (the few remaining ones who haven't been fired) are still discussing 2 years on what to do with the creaking tangled mess that is our IT system. They have never once talked to me, or even informed me that they are talking amongst themselves about the problem. I have no line manager to talk to about anything.

No wonder I Spend too much time at TOD.

Apparently regenerative braking is difficult on old DC power system such as Boston. In modern AC systems they routinely run the electric motors on the trains as electric generators to put the braking power back into the overhead wire, and then just step up the voltage with transformers and put the electricity back into the grid. It saves all that mucking about with batteries.


All the Green Line cars operate from an overhead wire but they may be changing DC to AC on board the cars. Judging by the sounds they make, speed control is by "choppers".

I'm not sure about the first version of articulated trolleys in Boston, which were supplied by Boeing Vertol, but the newer Kinko Sharyo cars, and everything since then, all seem to have regenerative braking. I don't know if the juice goes back into the wires, or if maybe it just goes into resistive grids on the roof of the cars.

All the other subway lines in Boston use third rail power as I recall.

Kinki Sharyo Data Sheet (PDF), but it doesn't say whether regenerative braking is used.

Maybe with AC they're ultimately injecting into the grid itself, whereas with the DC they can only inject locally to other trains (if any), which might not need enough at some moments to absorb all the braking power?

Of course, if they really did the job with the batteries the right way, then in the event of power failure, each train could be brought to an orderly halt at the next station, instead of broiling people for an indefinite time in the searing sun, or stewing and suffocating them in a sealed train in an unventilated tunnel, and then evacuating them to every hospital available. But that's almost certainly asking too much.

"I wonder how many great projects never got implemented because of lack of adequate education, understanding or imagination on the part of decision makers."

A lot a lot a lot.

Another funny effect is when there is no existing classification for an idea or product... no "shelf space"... no place already existing in the store where such a thing would go. Where do the mind-reading cat-ears go?


This is very much a part of the whole peak oil/limited resources problem. Tainter (The Collapse of Complex Societies) argues that this is the cost of complexity, and Diamond (Collapse) touches on it, too.

In a foraging society, everyone knows everything. But as a society becomes more complex, it becomes impossible for everyone to know everything. You need specialists. And then bureaucracy, to mediate among the specialists. These are all people who consume resources, and must be supported by others who feed, clothe, house and educate them. As complexity increases, this "overhead" becomes more and more burdensome. It's worth it, as long it creates access to enough new resources to support the increased complexity, but it can't go on forever.

Nice points, as usual.

In retrospect, perhaps it's just as well.

Though perhaps more elegant in a way, my friend's solution would doubtless have seemed more complex to many, and that complexity ultimately becomes a problem.

I don't think it was an issue of poor communication on his part. He rose quickly to the second position, just under the founder, of his firm because he was so good with words (a skill he credits partly to being an English major undergrad--attention all scoffers!!). But he was very bright--graduated first in his class at BU--so he may have talked over their heads. Oh, and he does not suffer fools lightly--that's not a vice any here share, surely! '-)

I went on the Dubai metro about 15 months ago - had always been curious about Dubai so booked a stopover there when flying back from Johannesburg. It was at the time blissfully air-conditioned, clean, basically empty, and hopelessly unintegrated: the 'dubai mall' stop required me to walk fifteen minutes poorly-signposted in hundred-degree sun to get to the mall, and is entirely unsignposted going the other direction (there may have been an unlabelled shuttle-bus). Also the Burj Khalifa was entirely shut to visitors.

It felt as if they'd decided 'let's have a metro', and built a metro, but placed the stops for the metro at convenient major road intersections.

Solving those problems may account for the spectacular increases in ridership since opening. They tout 130,000 riders on July 1st, 2010, double the year before.


OTOH, Dubai is a monarchy and absolute veracity is not highly prized in Arab cultures. Both can lead to exaggerated statistics (see also oil).

In any case, given the rapid development of Dubai and the bad traffic, one can expect development to cluster around Metro stations in the future. Build it and they will come.

I am curious about the relative ridership of the two classes for men (Gold & Silver) and the Women & Children cars. Can you give me any feedback on that unique feature ?



PS: Stops at major intersections work for feeder bus service.

For Dubai/UAE, it seems to work out to around $2.40/US gal. after the 33% increase. Still fairly cheap.

It is not so much the price of gas. The congestion is the killer. I chose public transit to get home faster. Not to save money on gasoline.
I can bike to my office faster than driving parking and then walking from the parking deck to my office. Now that is insane. Furthermore, that longer commute costs me 3-4x more.

Several links up top deal with Saudi Arabia and OPEC. The world may not be aware of Peak Oil yet but it is certainly aware that OPEC, as a cartel, is in deep trouble.

Is OPEC dead?

With schisms in the cartel so deep, can OPEC patch up its differences and become a force again in the world economy? That's the big question. The future of OPEC may depend on whether its squabbling members can again find common economic interests and set aside political and strategic differences. That's not impossible. If oil prices fall sharply, OPEC members might be able to get back on the same page. So even though it might be too soon to dance on OPEC's grave, the world's most hated cartel already has its best days behind it.

I think OPEC has been on its sick bed for about a decade. Now it has finally died. OPEC, for years now, has consisted of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. But now both Kuwait and the UAE have joined the other nine members in the "flat out" club, only Saudi Arabia is capable of producing any more oil than they are currently producing. And just how much they can increase production is open to debate. But we will know soon, very soon.

Ron P.

But even if you thought Saudi Arabia still had a big future, you gotta be worried that they are drilling expensive oil offshore. I mean, as they add more expensive capacity, the idea that the world output could ever be cheap again is losing sight. Didn't someone here once list the break even price for each source of oil? For instance, if oil goes below $70, then Canada tar sands drop out, and so on.

Oil producers will produce every barrel where marginal revenue exceeds marginal cost. Thus they will have a strong incentive to produce even when average total cost per barrel is greater than the price. In other words, there are a lot of fixed and sunk costs in the production of oil, but fixed costs are irrelevant to the decision as to whether or not to produce a barrel of oil.

At $70 per barrel there would be little expansion in production of Canada's bitumen sands, but probably oil production from this source would not go down much (if at all), because the marginal revenue of $70/barrel is greater than the marginal cost for most current production--indeed it may be the case for all current Canadian bitumen sand production.

In other words, a company is better off producing oil at a loss, if this loss is less than the one that would be incurred by cutting back production or even by shutting it down. When you cannot maximize profits, you minimize losses. Setting production level where marginal cost equals marginal revenue is the optimal rule in either case. Thus companies can benefit from producing flat out, even when average total cost per barrel is greater than marginal revenue--the price per barrel.

Thanks for this succinct explanation, Don. It helps me understand this thread more fully.It's obvious when you put it so clearly and directly as you do. However, what you explain here has kept going in and out of focus for me, in part because "business" is not my long suit.

being - I'll jump into just to clarify a matter you probably already understand. I think some folks confuse what the phrase "cost to produce" means in the context of different discussions. If I have a field to develop that I estimate will need $80 oil to just break even I may suspend development until I can such price potential. OTOH lets say I developed that field with such a requirement to be profitable but the day I go to full production oil drops to $50/bbl. Most operators won't be able to shut the field in or even reduce rate some. Cash flow is almost always king. And if it costs me $10/bbl to produce the oil I have a positive cash flow of $40/bbl. But not a profit of $40/bbl. If oil stays at $50/bbl for the life of the field then it would be a money loser. But if I ultimately produce 10 million bbls I gain $400 million in cash flow.

So there is the production cost and the development costs....two different animals. There's one more cost factor in play also: I have an exploratory well to drill. The risk analysis says I shouldn't drill if my price expectations are less than $80/bbl. That doesn't mean if I discover the amount of oil that had been speculated I would lose money at $80/bbl...I would likely make a nice profit. But the risk has to be mitigated with higher price expectations. It gets even trickier when you look at individual wells: I've completed many wells knowing they would not recover THE FULL INVESTMENT: say an $8 million well that will net $5 million. But while the exploratory cost was $6 million the completion cost is only $2 million. So I make $5 million by spending $2 million to complete. But I still lose money on the total investment. We're talking sunk costs which I think most folks readily understand but it tends to get lost during some conversations.

Thanks, Rockman. Your clarification does refine my understanding. It really helps to have these basic business facts of oil production in mind when reading threads on TOD. It certainly enhances my appreciation of the complexities involved.

Rockman rocks.

Think of it this way. If you include every single cost of drilling a well, it may be $50 a barrel. However, once you drill it, it may only cost $10 to produce another barrel of oil. If oil is $20 a barrel, your well loses overall. But you keep pumping anyway because you have a positive cash flow on each new barrel of oil. And shutting down the well costs even more.

The marginal cost for producers in Canada's bituminous sands is typically about $45 per barrel. So, as Don says, they will not build new oil sands plants for under $70/bbl, but they will still show an operating profit at $45/bbl.

In fact they will continue to operate at considerably lower prices because their avoidable costs are much lower than that. They would probably continue to operate at $10/bbl even they showed a paper loss because it's only paper. Even though they are theoretically losing money, they won't stop producing because shutting down won't reduce their losses significantly - and these companies have deep, deep pockets to pay for losses.

At current prices ($100/bbl) they more or less have a license to print money.

...a company is better off producing oil at a loss, if this loss is less than the one that would be incurred by cutting back production or even by shutting it down.

I agree with you Don, but danged if it doesn't sound like you are agreeing with the old story that when you're losing money on each truckful of product you deliver, you can solve the problem by buying more trucks!



It sorta sounds that way, but folks have to realize that if you're already stuck with the trucks, you might lose less by running them than parking them. The issues around sunk costs seem to be very hard for people to grasp.

To extend the analogy a bit further you can be sure that maintenance on the trucks starts to be neglected in that circumstance. The end of production occurs when the last truck breaks down.

Their offshore oil is really in very shallow water. Everything can be drilled with jack-up rigs and the production platform for all current wells in the Persian Gulf sits on the ocean floor. However Manifa looks like it is quite an expensive: Aramco speeds up Manifa

At Manifa, the world’s fifth-largest oil field, Aramco is building 41 kilometers (25 miles) of causeway to connect 27 man- made islands built to support drilling rigs to crude and gas processing facilities on the mainland. The field is set to have the capacity to pump Arabian Heavy crude at a rate of 500,000 barrels a day by 2013 before ramping up to full capacity a year later, the company said.

It must have cost a mint to build 25 miles of causeway and 27 man made islands. Why they chose to do it this way is a mystery to me. Why didn't they just do everything with jack up rigs like they did in Safaniya and everywhere else in the Persian Gulf. Seems like that would have been much cheaper.

Ron P.

Short answers:

1) Shrimp

2) Waters near shore actually too shallow for jackups, unless you don't care about #1.

Ron - Just my WAG but if they are going to produce that much volume of heavy crude they may need many more wells than you can put cost efficiently on a production platform. I'm also guessing that the production/processing equipment load would also be far too great for a production jacket. I also doubt shallow water is the problem: I've seen jack ups move into 5' water depths with no problem. In fact it brings back bad 35 year old memories of working on a jack up in less than 15' of water: the chopper pad was on the top of one of the 180' tall jack up legs....over 150' above sea level. You come out the chopper with no hand rails around the pad, of course. Couldn't even see the rig below you. The toughest hands didn't have the nerve to walk to the steps leading down from the pad...everyone got on their knees and crawled over. And then you had to climb down a tite spiral staircase to get to the deck.

Another possibility is that they don't want to increase production, and keep crude prices down, but want to seem as if they do want that. Maybe they just want to have some effort to point to in order to be able to shine certain folks on.

The FT article has a substantive, if conventional take on Saudi. To paraphrase the key points:

1. The reporter thinks the accelerated Manifa investment is real and might deliver 900 kbbls/day by 2014. There is some dispute among analysts about whether the initial report in Al Heyat is a 'semi-official announcement', leak, or just noise.
2. Saudi's status as the only producer with spare capacity is confirmed.
3. Like Khurais, the heavy sour quality of the crude makes it practically unsellable, so Saudi is also investing in dedicated refinery capacity. So they will ship the petroleum products they can get from the sour crude, rather than the crude itself.

Pieces of this article will no doubt be touted by cornucopians, but it furthers the case that cheap oil will never again set the marginal price (that is, until we're too broke to care).

Like Khurais, the heavy sour quality of the crude makes it practically unsellable, so Saudi is also investing in dedicated refinery capacity. So they will ship the petroleum products they can get from the sour crude, rather than the crude itself.

Sellable is a matter of price, and there is worse oil currently sold on the world market than will come from Manifa. But Khurais crude is almost identical to that from Ghawar.

Isn't there a problem with high Vanadium content of crude from Manifa, if memory serves?? I may have read that in Twilight In The Desert, but I don't recall the details after 6 years....

I think the new refinery is due to the need to deal with the Vanadium rather than the crude quality per se.

Sure, there is vanadium in it. But there is vanadium in Safaniya crude as well. And in Ghawar crude. And Venezuela. I challenge someone to find a reference which actually gives specifics, rather than just mentioning the word "vanadium" as a portent of doom.

Joules, I don't think it only that Manifa contains vanadium, but it is the amount of vanadium that is the problem. It's like sulfur. Very sweet crude contains very little sulfur and is easy to refine but the more sulfur it contains the more expensive it is to refine.

I don't know much about vanadium but I would suppose that a crude oil always contains a little just as it does sulfur, no matter how sweet. But massive amounts of vanadium would create massive problems. At least that's what this article states.

Manifa is a heavy, sour (i.e. high sulfur), vanadium contaminated deposit. It requires a special refinery to process the oil, and these don’t exist. The KSA has had plans in the works for some time to build two refineries in the Kingdom that will refine this oil. There have, however, been delays in construction.

That blog was written in October 2010. I guess the schedule has been accelerated since then. Anyway it is the very high sulfur content and the very high vanadium content that is the problem, not the fact that they exist in the crude, as they do in much lesser concentrations in all crude.

Ron P.

I know HO wrote that. But try to find out how high it is. Google "Manifa Vanadium". Most of the people that state this quote an article by David Fleming, where he fails to give any numbers either.

The amount of vanadium in crude (as porphyrins) tends to scale with amount of larger hydrocarbons and bound sulfur, indicative of the lack of maturity of the oil. I'll try to put the numbers out there in a post soon, but there is seemingly little reason to believe that, based on its API gravity, Manifa has significantly higher vanadium than Safaniya -- not to mention something like Maya, which is extremely high in vanadium but which still sells.

You are correct there, it seems - did a lot of looking around and can't find any ref to Manifa being so vanadium or H2S rich that it will be nigh-unto-useless. For instance Mills quoted some 2000 paper of Simmons which likely is the original for this misapprehension about Manifa's nasty qualities and resulting lack of commerciality. Mills points out the obvious, that removing these impurities has been carried out for quite a while now, it simply adds to the extraction costs. Deffeyes also talked about vanadium in Beyond Oil, mentioning that Venezuela's crude is especially rich in it, yet they manage to sell the stuff anyway.

Beyond that you'd need to dig through old issues of the SPE journal. I laid my hands on the last 5 years or so of the O&GJ and looked for any info on this matter, but all I found were fluff pieces. Nothing really interesting in Google Scholar, aside from studies of benthic foraminifera and the like. Same with Google Books.

Manifa is notorious for producing oil with a vanadium content so high that few if any refineries can process it. The Saudis are probably going to have to build their own refineries to process it, because few international companies would want to modify their own refineries just for Manifa. They don't want to be locked into one supplier, so it is much simpler for them to buy oil with a lower vanadium content.

Of course, if the Saudis offered Manifa oil to companies at a deep discount under long-term contract, the companies might be willing to modify their refineries to handle it, but I don't think the Saudis want to do that.

Yes, it is notorious for high V content. But why? If it were true that "few if any refineries can process it", one would think that there would exist a reference somewhere which actually documents this as XXXX ppm vanadium.

I rather think that it became notorious for this simply because a couple of people wrote it as fact and others kept repeating it. But I'll be happily proved wrong with a number.

Joules, This is way outside my area of expertise. But when googling the subject I came across this interesting document


It states

The desired level of vanadium in crude oil is <5 ppm
The acceptable level of vanadium in crude oil is approximately 7 ppm.
The acceptable level of vanadium in petroleum coke at the Ponca City Refinery is approximately 300
ppm. Acceptable levels at other refineries depend on the ultimate use of the petroleum coke.

I know nothing about the Ponca City refinery, but if they are typical then you have a threshold. 7ppm Vanadium.

You might also be interesting in contacting this person listed in the document
If you are interested in submitting a paper, or information in any form, on crude oil contaminants,
please contact:
Tish Marshall
COQG Director

In a "standard" sour crude with vanadium much of the vanadium ends up in the residual oils as it is run through the distillation process. It can be a problem with cat crackers because the vanadium does funny things along the way.

Ultimately, when vandium ends up in the residual oils and when it is burned, it causes a real problem with SO3 formation (and acid mist creation) in the presence of excess oxygen.

Back in the "bad old days" when power plants burned residuals with a high (200-250 ppm) vanadium content, they had to be real careful with their excess air levels. Some would add other components, like magnesium oxide to act as a vanadium catalyst poison. In addition, a number of them used electrostatic precipitators to collect the vanadium "ash" that they would sell for metals refining.

Here is a little more on that:

During combustion, if Sodium and Vanadium are present in the fuel, then sodium vanadates are formed which can have melting points in the 480-700 °C range. At this temperature the deposits are in a molten and very highly corrosive form. In this phase, the vanadates attack the metal surface within the boiler, causing high temperature corrosion. The molten deposits also serve as the primary mechanism for conversion of SO2 to SO3.

Here is a nighttime shot I took years ago of a unit (about 550 MW) burning No. 6 oil with about 250-300 ppm vanadium in the oil. Nice acid mist plume.


some results of buring high vanadium oil:



The increase in vanadium in the fuel oil did not cause valve blowouts, which
indicates that the protection of the additive remained effective even with the
presence of 225-250 ppm vanadium.

There you go. STP Oil Treatment for the 21st Century.

Following are what we show for Global Net Exports (GNE), using the updated data, with revisions, through 2010:

Global Net Export Data*

2002: 39.1 mbpd
2003: 41.6
2004: 44.8
2005: 45.5
2006: 45.5
2007: 44.6
2008: 44.5
2009: 42.3
2010: 42.6

*33 net exporters with 100,000 bpd or more of net exports in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data

Saudi net oil exports were down from 7.3 mbpd in 2009 to 7.2 in 2010. Note that Russian net exports have been at or below 7.1 mbpd since 2007. The (2005) top five went from 23.7 mbpd in 2005 to 20.8 in 2010. So, the (2005) top five fell by about three mbpd over a five year period, while the bottom 28 showed basically no change from 2005 to 2010.

Chindia's combined net oil imports went from 5.1 mbpd in 2005 to 7.5 mbpd (inclusive of the rather curious increase in reported Chinese production). In any case, their combined net oil imports, as a percentage of GNE, went from 11.2% in 2005 to 17.6% in 2010.

So Available Net Exports (ANE), i.e., GNE not consumed by Chindia, fell from 40.4 mbpd in 2005 to 35.1 mbpd in 2010. I'm projecting that ANE will be down to about 27 to 30 mbpd in 2015.

So, if KSA produces all of the .9mbd increase they're planning from Manifa, if they could do it today, current production only reaches 43.5mbd, and we are still below peak? That'll drop prices a bunch, eh?


World oil production per year per capita has declined to about 4 barrels per year per capita in 2010 from about 4.15 in 2005 -- a 3.6% decline -- due to population increase.

Using your Global Net Export (GNE) figures and world population figures from the US Census Bureau, GNE per year per capita fell from 2.567 in 2005 to 2.269 in 2010, a 11.6% decline.

US Census world population figures are at:



45500000 x 365 = 16607500000
16607500000 / 6469688764 = 2.567
42600000 x 365 = 15549000000
15549000000 / 6852472823 = 2.269
.15 / 4.15 = 0.036144578313253
2.567 - 2.269 = 0.298
0.298 / 2.567 = 0.116088819633814

This seems to be affecting more than just glass artists:

Cerium Oxide Impacts Auto Glass Production, Scratch Removal Supplies

Here is some backqround:


When the polishing powder is applied to glass, it reacts with the surface to produce a complex cerium-oxygen-silicon compound softer than glass. This softer surface layer can then be more easily applied to produce the final polished surface.

On Helens Pouroff Ave., escaping falling home prices

NORTH LAS VEGAS — Dayna and Scott Merritt ask themselves almost every day if they should keep paying their mortgage.

Many other residents on their street, Helens Pouroff Avenue, stopped long ago. Since the 69 new homes on this street were sold in 2006, almost half the owners have defaulted on their mortgages. Most of the houses went into foreclosure, which helped drive prices down for others on the street.

The Merritts' house has suffered a typical fate. The couple paid $385,000 for it in 2006. It's now worth about $180,000, recent sales indicate, and Las Vegas prices are still falling.

If everyone's walking away, the ones who keep paying are screwed.

Yes. But ultimately the only way to keep people from walking away is to rewrite the mortages down to market value, which would harm the banks. So the result is preordained. Yet not rewriting the mortgages just leaves the banks as owning often trashed pieces of property that they are just going to turn over cheaply... Though again, half the time the loan has been sold so many times over that nobody can even find clear title.

The whole thing is a stinky mess. The current "solution" is stupid, but it's the stupid we know. It is the end result of an entire system built off encouraging housing and the debt that accompanies it. The next to go would be student loans, but you literally can't walk away from student loans as the laws have basically legalized student loan based debt slavery. Of course, student loan debt thrives off the same kind of condition - socially and legally encouraged behavior tends to perpetuate itself.

Reminds me of that ad; "After you've tried all the good ideas and have moved on to the really stupid ones...."

It seems the fashion accessory of having a degree is losing its appeal, which means the student loan bubble is probably about to pop.

University not worth the money, say middle-class parents

About 57 per cent of parents with children aged 11 to 18 said a university education was less valuable than it was 10 years ago, while 47 per cent claimed that degrees no longer gave young people a good start in life.

The trouble is too many unskilled students (other than in manipulative practices) are being churned out by universities and dumped into an economy that doesn't need them. Of course middle class parents wanting their children to be well educated so as to achieve good middle class careers are behind the trend. However, the middle class are being crushed in the collapsing economy, their degree holding children haven't the necessary skills for the new economic realities. So I think we'll see a continuation of the unwind in education as it is derated in terms of economic usefulness. University education will increasingly become the preserve of the upper middle class and probably centre around a more traditional curriculum.

The data indicates that, in the US at least, a degree is worth a lot of money:

Lifetime Earnings Soar with Education

over an adult's working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor's degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master's degree, $2.5 million.

Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

The data indicates that, in the US at least, a degree is worth a lot of money

Its more a matter that the cost of not having one is going up faster than the earnings of college grads are going down. So you almost gotta have the degree in order to have a chance.

You are quite right: Having a college degree is no guarantee of getting a good job, but the lack of a degree is an absolute barrier against getting most good jobs with benefits. Thus I fear that credentialism is actually getting worse, and it is now escalating to the point that many employers refuse to look at anybody without a master's degree or a law degree for most of their best entry-level jobs. My eldest daughter has a master's degree in economics; most of the jobs she has had required the master's degree, though she says the skills could have been fairly easily mastered by any bright high-school graduate.

The colleges do the sifting, and those who are sifted out (or who refuse to incur student debt) mostly have bleak futures. What you learn in college is not nearly so important to prospective employers as the evidence that you can jump through hoops for four years, i.e. that you have at least average intelligence and motivation. Because of the great excess of people with a four-year degree, many employers seek those with advanced degrees, because the getting of an advanced degree is a signal of superior intelligence and motivation.

Yes, it's true that not having a degree can be a barrier against getting a good job.

I have worked for companies who would not hire anyone for any job who only had high-school graduation, and they required a college degree for anyone to be promoted to foreman.

It's not that they needed advanced education to do the job, it's just that it was a way for the company to filter out anyone who lacked sufficient drive and ambition to get a degree. If people didn't have drive and ambition, management didn't want them working for the company regardless of what they did.

If the disparate impact civil rights law was repealed, employers could give an intelligence test to determine the most qualified applicants, and the value of a degree would diminish.

Rocky, only if they can get a job commensurate with their qualifications. I know it was true back in 1999 when those statistics were compiled, but from here on in I suspect things are going to change rapidly.

I was talking to a person working in HR (Human Resources) the other day. I'm really surprised how the corporate work place has changed, graduates are treated worse than blue collar workers used to be (at least they had unions). They're so eager to get on the corporate career ladder they're employed for a pittance on short term assignments and simply replaced with a new batch to avoid having to make them permanent. Modern day labourers. Unfortunately for them, its even cheaper to replace them entirely by off-shoring middle class jobs to India or replacing them with software bots.

Modern day financial extractive systems are so advanced that a person's wealth can be syphoned off before they even have any. Higher education seems to have become part of an elaborate system to extract wealth from the future to benefit today's financial oligarchs. Classic fraud really, where the fraudster pockets the cash and the victim is left holding a piece of worthless paper.

What is worth more is the social networking that can be had via the university students you are with.

I would say walk away. The banks know that they are the problem. They created the bubble and now they need to swallow what they created. Of course you will not get to buy ever again and you will rent the rest of your life. But who really cares. They will just print more money and refinance the failed homes. Banks will emerge unscathed. The people on the other hand are gonna lose credit. LOL. Great get rich scheme. I have to hand it to the banks. They are very clever.

I would say walk away.

Totally. The 'guilt trip' put upon homeowners to keep paying despite the irrationality is nothing but that . . . a silly 'guilt trip'. Businesses walk away from bad deals all the time and no one bats an eye or assigns a morality judgment.

Banks make loans every day . . . many homeowners will only take out a single home loan in their entire life. It is the bank with more knowledge. And the bank is the one with they money and the power . . . they need to decide if a deal is a good one. If the deal goes bad, the homeowner should walk. The bank screwed up by financing that home.

And no . . . the homeowner is not getting off scot-free. They completely lost their down-payment, their personal credit-history is destroyed and they may owe the IRS a huge amount since they made a 'profit' since a loan they had was 'forgiven'.

Not quite correct: While some loans may result in a profit from the write downs, those that were used for purchase or improvement of the home should be exempt. Not including your vacation home.

Generally, you need to be careful though. But for those Las Vegas unfortunates, if that is their home, they should be okay with the IRS.


China's power crunch may add to US price rises

However, using diesel generators comes at a price. The price of power generated by diesel is nearly 2 yuan (3 cents) for each kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is twice as much as power from electric grid, said Xu Shuhui, deputy general manager of Cixi Henghui Chemical Fiber Co.

"We can barely make ends meet when the power price reaches 1.5 yuan per kWh, let alone 2 yuan," Xu said, suggesting the company might have to increase the prices of its products.

This really shocked me when I read it but then I did the conversion and found that is was simply wrong... I think. The Yuan is worth about $.154 or just over 15 cents. That would put diesel generated power at about 31 cents per kwh, not 3 cents as the article states. That is about the same price as in the USA but from 2.5 to 3 times higher than coal generated power. But then:

"The high price of coal and the low price of power have stopped many coal-fired plants from operating. The more power they produce, the greater loss they endure," Lin said.

If they are getting 1.5 yuan per kwh, or about 23 cents then they are making a mint. But my yen to the dollar conversion says that is what it is.

Is the article really that far wrong or is my math just screwed up? Are the Chinese really getting power for about almost nothing as the article implies, or are they paying even more than we are? My head hurts. Someone help me out here. Is this article really that screwed up or is my math the problem?

Ron P.

The electricity price is set by the government. Its set too cheap compared to the market price of coal, so the power stations produce as little as possible in order to cut their losses. This factory would be getting cheap grid power if they weren't being blacked out, but because grid power is cheap, the power stations can't afford to burn the coal to make it and the factory has to run diesel backups.

Its set too cheap compared to the market price of coal, so the power stations produce as little as possible in order to cut their losses.

I keep reading these claims -also from India - but where is the logic and for how long can such ideas of far flung lala-thinking last?

They like to say, "China and India are in control once they readjust the price of electricity." The cheerleaders for Asia do. Except wait for it, they are not really able to fix the problem with pricing. LOL. They are out of juice.

Capping total energy use is key to ease power shortage: official
People's Daily Online / June 14, 2011

A senior Chinese official said on Monday that controlling the nation's total energy consumption is the fundamental solution to easing a looming power shortage during the summer peak. ... [more]

Not using energy is the key to dealing with an energy shortage. lulz.

Well, not using energy is pretty much going to be the 'key--or at least the result--of energy shortages. That and triage. We have to start deciding if we want to use our dwindling energy for weapons and toys or for tractors and ambulances.

Comunism at its best, isn't it?

URSS started suffering from undersupply of food just about when it get down... How long untill an undersuply of electricity turns into an underspply of food?

Your exchange rate is right and theirs is wrong - looks as if they read 'yuan' as 'yen'.

"The price of thermal coal at Qinhuangdao Port (big port on the Bohai Sea, few hundred kilometres east of Beijing), a Chinese benchmark, reached 810 yuan a ton in May"; one ton of coal gets you about 2500kWh of electricity in a well-optimised power station, so that's suggesting that the coal alone costs five cents per kWh. But of course you have to transport the coal to the power station and pay for the loans that paid for the power station.

China is spending quite substantially on building efficient HVDC power lines so that it can build power stations next to its coal-fields and save carrying coal around on trucks. I don't know if that extends to building power stations right next to major ports.

I guess the question is, is the price of coal much higher in China than it is here.

You're assuming the official currency conversion has some relevance to the USD and the price of oil, in USD. We forget that this is a controlled economy - well, unabashedly controlled - and a communist country. However, since the 'free?' trade with the People's Republic of China was implemented [ I refer to it as the Walton Act] the communist part has been deleted and it's now just China. Same guys, same government but no longer referred to as communist. A fait accompli of medianesia. No democracy, no elections but we still let them make our stuff. As long as it's cheap.

The point is that domestic Chinese oil production and coal production is insufficient and who knows what sort of price deals and swaps go into Chinese oil imports. Converting that to USD might not be feasible.

Petrosaurus, yes I am assuming that the official Chinese currency conversion does have some relevance to the US dollar. And I am correct on that point, China is a world economy. They import more than half their oil and have recently become an importer of coal. And all of their exports is tied to the world currency market. China does not exist in a vacuum.

The debate here was whether the article was correct or not in stating that coal generated electricity was less than 2 cents per kwh in China and diesel generated electricity was less than 3 cents per kwh. As Tom Womack pointed out they were confusing the yuan with the yen and got everything wrong. That was the problem.

While it is true that the Chinese have gone to great lengths to keep the value of Yuan low compared to the dollar they have recently been unable to do that. In 2005 the official rate was pegged by China at 8.28 yuan to the dollar. But now the yuan has gained strength and the rate is 6.5 to the dollar. The peg slipped as all pegs tend to do when the strain is too great.

Whether a country is trying to peg their currency too low, as China was, and is, trying to do or whether they are trying to keep the peg too high, as Mexico was trying to do back about three decades ago, when the strain is too great on the peg it always comes out and the currency floats to a new level. We live in a global economy and all the world's currencies are relevant to each other. And that will remain the case until the world is no longer a global economy. And that may not bee too many years down the road.

Ron P.

McDonalds or fuel for your car? Tough choices may have to be made sooner than later.

USDA report signals no end in sight for high corn prices

“Higher energy prices and tight world corn supplies remain long term bullish for corn prices and will further pressure already razor thin pipeline supplies,” analysts Meyer and Steiner said.

Engler is also bracing for higher and more-volatile corn prices in the months ahead, noting there are “huge ramifications” not only for livestock producers, but also for U.S. consumers, who have been increasingly pinched by rising costs for meat, milk gasoline and other goods.

“We’re looking at a wild ride this summer,” Engler said, referring to corn prices. “We could be facing a situation where there’s an actual shortage of corn. We have to ration demand.”

Put the corn in the cars. People can drink water and lose weight. Not to be cynical but the obesity problem in America is getting grotesque. Maybe we can improve health care costs buy burning coke as gasoline. LOL.

The obesity problem is probably not as great in Africa or Mexico. On the other hand, don't put the corn in the cars, reduce the fuel available and encourage biking and walking. Maybe people can't bike or walk all the way to work, if they have a job, but maybe they can walk or bike the last few miles.

I agree tstreet. I am surly today. The Canadian nationalism about the pipeline BS just set me off. Good Lord.

At the University of Wisconsin, it's nothing to do with encouragement, corn, or obesity. The U charges employees a fortune for parking mainly because it can - no problem at all for star professors but a way to claw back a noticeable portion of the wages of, say, lab techs. So some - and essentially never the obese ones so it doesn't affect that - park in nearby neighborhoods and bike the last bit. One occasionally hears murmuring about parking meters and time limits, but in some areas many have small or even no driveways and it would create considerable inconvenience for themselves or visiting friends and relatives. Many and complex are the webs we weave, and more complex still are the spillover effects.

The BT being added to corn is far more of a threat to mammals.

And that genome will move into things like Sweet Corn and what was non GMOed corn.

With no way to effectively remove it.

As the Fukushima plant continues to consume and pretty obviously leak cooling water into the Ocean, I wonder what it would take to get a massive push to create an artificial lagoon some distance out from the shoreline to at least capture a majority of the seabound output.

Perhaps the hardest part of that would be committing the ships to this effort, as they may have to be retired or even scuttled into the Breakwater itself after getting so much close contact with this contamination.

I really wish we were seeing a serious effort towards containing the Air, Freshwater and Saltwater contamination that is emanating from the Plant.

I think I heard some talk about doing that early on, there are definitely some surplus cargo ships that could probably be acquired for such an effort fairly cheaply (on a relative basis, of course) and there are some concrete breakwater manufacturers in Japan who might like the extra business.

It certainly sounds like a good idea to me, but I have a sneaking feeling that the fact that it couldn't be make leak-tight itself makes it a non-starter. Better to do nothing than to implement an imperfect solution.

"...the fact that it couldn't be make leak-tight itself makes it a non-starter. Better to do nothing than to implement an imperfect solution."

I hate to do this to you R4, but you've just largely summed up my opposition to Nuclear Power.. as imperfect as it is, we should never have done it.

.. But the 'Do Nothing' response doesn't work for me when we've got this concentrated volume of waste going directly into open circulation in the oceans, though. If you've got a bleeding patient, you at least TRY to put pressure on the open wounds, even if it's just to buy some time. I know that analogy is backwards, but I don't think the point is wrong, just the same. At least with that increasingly horrid lagoon, there could be ways of abating a good bit of the toxics before it all can mix into the ocean. The point isn't to make it Perfect.. Fukushima will never be perfect now.. the point is to make it BETTER.

Like someone said the other day.. 'otherwise, it's like trying to get the pee out of the swimming pool..' a lot of peoples' food supply has been centered around this swimming pool.

Since there is no perfect technology, perhaps banging the rocks together was a bad idea to start with.

My point is that for TEPCO it appears to be the better choice to risk further releases trying for perfect containment than to take any measure that is so obviously only going to attenuate any releases into the artificial lagoon.


That makes no sense. The lagoon would be to contain what is getting out so far, 'as well as possible', offering up some amount of time during which that lagoon could get pretty hot, but would largely eliminate what is openly flowing into the sea and getting a chance to process what is there.

They build Drydocks, cofferdams, diked rivers.. this isn't an unknown art form.

.. but if you're going to be comparing Banging rocks together with the Present disaster at Fukushima in terms of 'imperfection', then I'll have to conclude (once again) that you're not really here to have a serious conversation about this. I mean, you're totally contradicting yourself by suggesting that diking up what we can to contain the Seabound leakage is 'too potentially imperfect to chance it', and yet you're still willing to back fission itself.

It's 50 years too late to not do nuclear fission power.

Done is done. It's too late to unbang the rocks, and it's too late to unbuild the reactors.

You've read the same things I have. The most vocal opponents of nuclear power would take an attempt at an imperfect solution as an admission of guilt and/or impotence by TEPCO. It's a no-win proposition for them politically.

"too late to unbuild the reactors"

No. Every one of them will have to be "unbuilt" and disposed of at some point at huge expense to us all. So you could say that it is too early, perhaps, if you don't have a problem with the enormously dangerous gunk they are producing every day that we have no good plans for disposal of.

I oddly think it is a good idea to not make a very bad and intractable problem enormously larger by continuing to produce this crap for our children (or possibly ourselves) to have to 'deal with' i.e. be poisoned by.

Others apparently think the best thing to do is to keep producing ever larger mountains of waste that will be lethal for some hundred thousand years and let any future generations that survive the present calamities figure out how to deal with it.

Just a different set of ethics, I guess.


Japan: rabbit with no ears born close to Fukushima nuclear plant

"I have been raising rabbits for more than 10 years and this is the first time something like this has happened," Ms Sugimoto told the weekly magazine Flash.

As well as having no ears, the rabbit also appears to have clear signs of albinism - a pure white coat and red eyes - that are the result of mutations in several genes.

..to which doubting voices counter..

Some experts have dismissed a link between the deformed rabbit and the radiation released after the March 11 tsunami wrecked the nuclear plant, with some pointing out that animals are occasionally born with deformities and mother rabbits have been known to chew off the ears of their young through over-enthusiastic grooming.

OK, go back to 1940 and stop them from being built in the first place and all this nuclear waste won't be a problem at all.

They've been built, the nuclear material has been mined and concentrated, unless you can undo that my point stands.

It's our problem and we're stuck with it, and no amount of wishful thinking can make it go away, we can either try to do some good with what we have or we can throw up our hands and give up.

So your position is, "We have created a huge problem for ourselves, let's continue to make it worse for ourselves and our grandkids"?

If what we have isn't "good," then walking away from it isn't "giving up." It's making a logical choice given grim alternatives.

But whatever I say, you will try to spin it in the best light for nukes.

I'm rather tired of that game.

If the Fukushima clusterf didn't dissuade you from your devotion to the toxic industry, my pixels surely have no chance at it.

Yes, that is his position. Rather than going with "If you find yourself in a hole that you have dug and want to get out of the hole, the 1st thing you do is stop digging" r4ndom wants to make sure the electric power shovel still has power to make the digging easy.

Now who could argue with such a rational argument as that?

More logos, less pathos, or I will continue to annoy you by being unconvinced by your arguments.

Common, radon, nothing that anyone is going to say, whether using logos, pathos or ethos, is ever going to dissuade you from your rather touching crush on nukies.

Speaking of pathos, it is rather sad and pathetic that you continue to love her even after she has proved to be hopelessly unfaithful, f'n not just other men, but entire f'n countries!

But you continue to gaze after her, moon eyed, hapless, hopelessly infatuated.

Rather touching, in its way.

Nobody has tried logos on me yet, so I don't know the answer to your implied question.

Pathos all over the place (poor bunnies!), and ethos mostly leveraged on the pathos, but no logos.

Nothing is going to persuade you from your objection to nuclear power, but I'll be blasted if I let you assert that it is an unmitigated evil without challenging you on it.

Um.. that's not an Easter Bunny.. it's not a cartoon. That's a real animal.. of course we don't know that this birth defect is due to radiation and toxics, but considering the human and animal birth-defect data from Russia and Ukraine, this is Logos, regardless of your disregard of what it must be like to actually live through these 'little details'.

Here's what the Japanese People are feeling about it today..

Japan poll finds most back a nuclear-free future

.. of course, they're biased. ..and maybe this helped further that bias

..The support bill, which is yet to be approved by parliament, will see the creation of a body to handle claims made against TEPCO and will be funded by public money as well as contributions from power companies.

Shares in the utility closed up, rising 25.12 per cent today, after the stock recently plunged to all-time lows amid worries the firm would be forced to de-list from the stock exchange.

I don't know that I've actually said 'EVIL'.. but it sure does seem to be unmitigated so far.

Putting emphasis on single charismatic cases is pathos. Supposed to tear at the heartstrings.

Give me hard numbers, the outright fatalities from natural gas pipeline explosions this year alone still outranks Fukushima for human damage, why should I care about a rabbit?

It's not that 'individual rabbit' that concerns me, but what it might very well be foretelling.

When you see a dead canary in your coalmine, I'm not asking you to prepare a somber, impassioned funeral for IT, but to prevent many more of them for yourself and everyone you work with.

You want to be shown body counts. I want to preclude them.

That's an admirable goal, but we have had parallel systems in place for 40+ years now in commercial production.

One of them has definitively been killing people, to the point where it is barely national news when it kills a few more. The other has such a good record that it is global news when it might kill someone.

If you really want to prevent body counts, isn't working against the system with a regular body count and for the one with rare fatalities the logical path? Especially when the one with the better safety record can obviously be improved if it is approached in a direct manner instead of running away from it every time the old facilities need replacing or refurbishing?

He only accepts dead bodies - but note the lack of comment from her when I posted the claim about the 35% increase in death rate of infants after the "Oh this is not gonna be a problem" Fukishima incident.

Radiation is not magical stuff that jumps thousands of miles across oceans to kill babies in the US because it was released in Japan.

Your post was worthless.

Anything to bring a smile to your face - cuz you'll need the radiation shield.

It does not look like anything is yet containing the radioactive materials issuing from the site. The tent never happened. The water continues. The filter system is being worked-out.


Sunday, 15 May
A robot sent to the first floor of unit 1 recorded a radiation level of 2,000 mSv/h. At this level, workers would only be allowed to stay in the area for 8 minutes.

Tuesday, May 31
...there was a temporary oil leak into the sea near the plant... possibly caused by... Typhoon Songda... oil fences have been installed to prevent the liquid from spreading into the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday, June 4
Air radiation readings of up to 4000 millisieverts per hour are recorded in the reactor number 1 building.

Wednesday, June 8
The ministry of education says that strontium Sr89 and Sr90 have been detected in soil samples 22-62 km away from Fukushima Daiichi...

Fukushima City to give dosimeters to 34,000 children
Fukushima Prefecture said Tuesday it will give dosimeters to all children attending preschools as well as elementary and junior high schools in the city...
That'll be one of those childhood memories... like "Duck, and cover!"

UPDATE: Japan Government Approves Tepco Support Bill

But, really, jokul, if you would like having a serious conversation with an AI, here is another one to try:
Type text. Click on "Talk". When text disappears, hit reload (?).

I am honestly not sure what set of circumstances compels the response to Fukushima... I sometimes wonder if even Prime Ministers can end up in a concrete coffin by crossing industry in Japan. Of course, even if Kan was to say "nuclear is and always was a stupid idea," what would he gain by it? He might have been able to force the issue earlier but didn't.

I also wonder if there really is much they can do to really contain it. As soon as they ruled out the sarcophagus option (to control panic? because they really thought they could fix it?) they basically committed to letting it bleed. They haven't even really admitted to the extent of the problem yet, either.

Japan has always had huge issues with industry and pollution. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised?

I think the reality is that a large portion of the island of Japan will be permanently uninhabitable and they have (understandably) not come to terms with that. They were already in bad shape economically and I doubt they can recover. That area is only growing due to the almost totally ineffective (non)response to the crisis. It would appear that the response is partially a result of the typical incompetence of a modern corporate/governmental system (designed to enrich the few, not actually do anything useful), combined with the possibility that this disaster may exceed our technical capability to respond.

I'm sure you could do better than Tepco has, but in reality these things melted down fairly quickly after the earthquake damage and the the salt water destruction of the in-plant electrical distribution system. It's a pretty intractable predicament now.

they have (understandably) not come to terms

This claimed translation/event sure looks like not only the poster image for denial but a ThyssenKrupp bucket excavator (seen here http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap061122.html ) digging a path to bring De Nile to Japan from the Middle East.


Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, is quoted as saying, “The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.

Let a smile be your radiation shield?

Reminds me of one of the titles of those 'Children's Books they'll never print' , that went around the Email-verse years ago..

"Daddy Drinks because you Cry."

(others being, "You're different and that's wrong!" and "Strangers have the best candy!")

Uh oh, us doomers are in trouble then. I can just see it now, all that will be left are figgin' smiling, happy, optimistic people. I'd rather be dead. ;-)

Maybe just maybe tooth enamel well positioned could block X-rays traveling toward your brain. SMILE.

Given all the 'experts' in the past who were claiming "no risks" must understand how this works.

If only they would tell us uninformed snarkinol drinkers.

The Secret.

The Power of Positive Thinking.

Etc. Didn't know the Japanese had fallen for that stuff. LOL.

Japan has always had huge issues with industry and pollution. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised?

Just Japan? You might replace 'Japan' with "Human Industry", remembering still that some of our wastes can be acceptably absorbed by the environment, and others will do great harm. It's worth drawing the lines and taking some steps.

I don't know that anyone is really all that surprised.. we still each have the opportunity and the duty to respond and to try to push things in better directions. Yes I know. Some don't care, or feel they have no power to affect such things.. that just puts that much more on everyone else's shoulders. Ever try to get a big group to pay the right Tip at a restaurant?

Last week, at a Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) conference in Victoria, BC, as I toured the vendor and poster-session hall, I heard the words “Peak Oil” uttered. This immediately caught my attention. The words emanated from a group of four men. I walked over and joined them, now a group of five. And spent then next half hour talking about Peak Oil and population overshoot.

The four conference attendees were all clearly concerned about the problems, and they seemed to have a range of opinions about the situation similar to what is evident here on The Oil Drum. One was particularly vociferous about how critical the situation is, an apparent “doomer.” He hit on many of the major aspects of the peak oil and population problems, and seemed to be of the opinion that little could be done to prevent serious calamity. He has either read a number of the books in the literature, or follows The Oil Drum. Everything he said I found quite familiar.

Another of the group tried to address the situation from a more pro-active stance, suggesting that people needed a clear, simple direction, some concrete things that they could do to help deal with the growing economic hardship. I mentioned Alan Drake and a build-out of rail and other mass transit systems. At this point, everyone unanimously commented on how much stimulus money has been largely wasted on highway improvement projects. A gloomy reality.

A different member of the group had gone before the Canadian Parliament about Peak Oil. They asked him what could be done? He pointed out that two of the major concerns among Canadians were health and the environment: He suggested a major program to promote walking (to work, to the store, in general), which would help address both issues. The Parlies did not take this seriously.

Most, if not all, seemed strongly concerned about the possibility of a large-scale WWIII (e.g. something much bigger than the current actions in the MENA countries) over increasingly scarce resources.

In any event CMOS is a professional conference with several hundred atmospheric and oceanographic scientists. The theme this year focused on climate change, so perhaps it is not entirely surprising that Peak Oil received mention as emissions scenarios are considered. Also, I think the location, Victoria, may also be a contributor. People on “The Island” seem to have a tendency for awareness about global/environmental issues, and I know at least one person from the group of four lived in Victoria. However, I nevertheless did not expect such an encounter at the conference as I have attended CMOS congresses before and heard not a peep about our limits-to-growth predicament. Seems like the Peak Oil meme has begun to percolate more strongly within the physical sciences. In any event, my personal take on the encounter is that Peak Oil awareness is definitely spreading.


Time to Walk the Walk, eh? (Not that it isn't always time to..)

I was in NYC last weekend, and was so thrilled to be in a city that is largely OWNED by the pedestrians.. or at least to the extent that you know that every cycle of every Streetlight will include a fair Bit of Time for Peds to Cross.. so when you are planning to walk somewhere, you have no nagging doubts that you could get caught at some intersection (like here in Portland, ME), where button-activated Walk Signals sort of amounts to BEGGING to be allowed to cross. I can hardly imagine a greater disincentive to being a regular walker than this clear design-choice.

I guess it's time for me to plan a walk down to city hall and make a pitch, remind them of what we're missing.

button-activated Walk Signals sort of amounts to BEGGING to be allowed to cross.

Especially inconvenient when said button is buried under 8 feet of snow after a major storm. You'd almost think they put the snow there on purpose.

Luckily, many of the signs around here don't need the button.

The Candian Parliamentarians are worrying about the right thing. However, it won't really be WW III; it will be Global War I in a new series.

Think of WW I&II as just part of a sustained conflict from 1914 until the end of the Chinese Revolution in about 1950. The total mortality from war, famine, concentration camps, ethnic and religious conflicts, class warfare, and epidemics during that time was well over 200 million.

Also think of WW I&II as conflict over agricultural land and access to energy supplies due to increased population in Central Europe and Japan, declining coal supplies, and competition for new oil fields.

We are now somewhere in the 1880s or 1890s. The disintegration of the Soviet Union parallels the disfunctional Austro-Hungarian Empire; the rise of China parallels the rise of Germany after the Franco Prussian War of 1870; and the global economy bust following over investment in communications and computing in the 1990s parallels the 1873 bust following the over investment in railroads and steamships.

So we know how the movie ends.

The 1914 conflict was about 10 times deadlier than the 1789-1814 conflict because in 1914 we started out with nitrogenated hydrocarbon high-explosives, poison gas, and a command structure coordinated by better communications by telephone and transportation by rail. This made it a lot easier and quicker to kill people than using 1789 weaponry and tactics based on bladed weapons such as sabers and bayonets; black power weapons such as muskets, grenades, and cannons; and transportation based on draft horses.

Eventually, by 1950, the conflict ended with truck and airplane transports and nuclear weapons.

In the Global War I to come in two or three decades, we will start out with high-explosives, chemical weapons, and nuclear weapons better than those at the end of WW I&II. However, two additional areas of basic research in science are available to be exploited in Globa War I. Information technology and robotic weaponry is advancing very rapidly, since it is very useful in the existing low intensity conflicts. However, biological science is even more powerful in terms of enabling the killing of the most people at the least cost. Biological science and information technology reinforce each other, since winning a biological war requires a high degree of ability to organize to protect populations by identifying pathogens and immunizing or treating populations to be defended.

A future scenario involving Global War I is much more likely than any alternative cornucopian, economic collapse, staircase down, voluntary curtailment of consumption, sustainable development, small scale agriculture, etc. scenario.

Predicting what the world will look like by 2080 is pretty impossible. It would be like thinking that my grandfather as a young man in the 1890s could have imagined what the world of the 1960s in his old age would be like.

But it is quite unlikely that global warming will be the biggest problem that the considerably smaller population of the 2080s will face.

Your observations are interesting.
As for the Parliamantarians who asked the gentleman "what could be done," I'm not surprised.
In March I met with senior NRCan officials who confirmed what I was told back in 07, that NRCan has done no formal analysis of PO. But there was a shift in tone which I was pleased to see.
Previously, NRCan's position was that no study had been done because there was no need for one: thanks to the oil sands, "Canada's oil supply is secure for about 200 years." Such a position ignores the reality that even Calgarians pay the world price for petroleum products.

In March the position was no longer that there was no need to examine the issue, but rather that a Hirsch-style analysis would be a fairly significant undertaking, would require personnel and a budget, and would only occur as a result of a ministerial directive. This appears unlikely to happen given the Tory majority and their prevailing mind-set.

However, a thorough NRCan analysis including a full review of the military literature on PO should be a priority item. Our federal plan for oil supply shocks is decades old and clearly unworkable, so that issue needs to be addressed rather urgently since the eastern half of Canada's population is highly dependent on overseas oil.

Once vulnerabilities are flagged by NRCan, the other departments (both federal and provincial)could then proceed with some proactive work for their sectors, which they are currently unable to do. (For example, Agriculture Canada cannot undertake research to deal with oil supply problems if the lead ministry says that there is no foreseeable likelihood of oil supply trouble.)

Foreign Affairs should also be on the PO issue but isn't, nor is Public Safety. The only department which seems to be examining PO and taking it seriously is National Defence, but they will be very relucant to criticize civilian inaction (certainly not publicly). My hope is that the recent Bundeswehr study may encourage other military analysts to step forward with their own set of concerns: anything which constitutes a threat to our energy security is surely within their legitimate purview.

I think the location, Victoria, may also be a contributor. People on “The Island” seem to have a tendency for awareness about global/environmental issues

Are they really environmentally aware? Has Victoria made any progress toward building the sewage treatment plant that the BC government ordered them to build some years ago?

I spent a lot of money putting a sewage holding tank on my boat (mostly due to US environmental laws), and while in Victoria Harbour I could in theory pump my human waste into Victoria's sewage system, but there's no point in doing that because Victoria will just dump it untreated into the ocean.

I can do that myself by turning the valve on the head to the "overboard" rather than the "holding tank" position. (Not allowed in US waters).

I thought the reason for sewage treatment was so ( for example ) the people on he Mississippi river did not have to drink the crap from everyone upstream.

I don't think anyone downstream from Vancouver is drinking out of the ocean so I'm not sure why one would bother treating the sewage. Not much swimming in the ocean around there, either. Other than the 'ew, it's yicky' issue, or 'it's nor fair since every inland city has to do it'.

How about, it destroys the ocean's ecosystem. This is a cause of algal blooms and dead zones.

I don't think anyone downstream from Vancouver is drinking out of the ocean so I'm not sure why one would bother treating the sewage.

Vancouver at least does primary sewage treatment, although it isn't exactly state-of-the-art. However, we were talking about Victoria, which does no treatment at all. The issue is not really people drinking the water, it is people eating the seafood.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Shellfish Contamination

Shellfish and the waters they inhabit are good indicators of the bacteriological health of the marine environment. Fecal coliform bacteria in the water indicate the presence of human or animal wastes and the possible presence of disease-causing organisms. Shellfish growing waters are considered polluted when the fecal coliform densities exceed a median of 14/100 mL (based on 15 data points). By comparison the standard for drinking water is 0 FC/100 mL while swimming water standard is 200 FC/100mL. The stringent standard for shellfish growing water is necessary due to the filter feeding mechanism of bivalve shellfish which can concentrate bacteria.

See also Shellfish Contamination - Pacific Region Area 19

Note also how close Victoria is to the American San Juan Islands and the coastal waters of Washington State, which I think is a matter of some concern to the residents there.

I don't think anyone downstream from Vancouver is drinking out of the ocean so I'm not sure why one would bother treating the sewage. Not much swimming in the ocean around there, either. Other than the 'ew, it's yicky' issue, or 'it's nor fair since every inland city has to do it'.

I'm not sure why one would bother treating such a comment with even a modicum of civility... for it deserves nothing less than a string of profanity that would make even a drunken sailor blush...

Forgive me for not being overly impressed with that rationale, that is a profoundly ignorant comment! I'm even less impressed because I actually participated in helping stop raw sewage from being discharged directly into the ocean onto coral reefs in my own back yard.

Chevron thwarted off Shetlands

Drilling at the “high risk” 217/15-1z Lagavulin off the Shetland Islands reached total depth on Friday but came up virtually dry.

“Hydrocarbons and a working petroleum system have been confirmed, however no workable reservoir system was found to be present at this location and the well will be plugged and abandoned,” Faroe Petroleum, 10% stakeholder in the Chevron-operated well, wrote in a statement today.

Growing exposure problems at Fukushima

The health and labor ministry says six other workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have received radiation doses above the allowable emergency level.

Tokyo Electric Power Company reported to the health ministry on Monday on the results of the latest checks of workers at the power plant.

The ministry says the provisional amount of radiation exposure was up to 497 millisieverts for each of six TEPCO male employees. The maximum allowable dose was formerly 100 millisieverts, but it was raised to 250 after the crisis started.

These high rates are being discovered when workers are belatedly scanned for internal exposure. TECPO avoided this problem for months by the simple expedient of not testing the workers.

And talking of internal exposure...

Plant worker forgets face mask filter

A worker at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant apparently worked outdoors without putting a filter in his full-face mask to prevent the inhalation of radioactive particles.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will examine the worker for possible internal radiation exposure and look into whether inadequate safety management can be blamed for the incident.

The utility disclosed that the worker, a man in his 60s, worked outside the No.2 reactor building for 2 hours on Monday morning. He realized only afterward that he had forgotten to put on a filter in his face mask.

And Re: In Nuclear Crisis, Crippling Mistrust

This includes the existence of a nationwide system of radiation detectors known as the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or Speedi. Mr. Terada and other advisers said they did not learn of the system’s existence until March 16, five days into the crisis.

If they had known earlier, they would have seen Speedi’s early projections that radiation from the Fukushima plant would be blown northwest, said one critic, Hiroshi Kawauchi, a lawmaker in Mr. Kan’s own party. Mr. Kawauchi said that many of the residents around the plant who evacuated went north, on the assumption that winds blew south during winter in that area. That took them directly into the radioactive plume, he said — exposing them to the very radiation that they were fleeing.

Hmm, I wonder how many of these evacuees who fled straight into the plume have been tested for internal exposure. I suspect none given the handling of the crisis so far.

Further edit: Here's a clue to the general population exposure I must have missed at the time. Almost five thousand nuclear workers elsewhere have been temporarily sent home after routine internal exposure scans at other nuclear power stations exceeded the set limit.

Nuclear plant workers suffer internal radiation exposure after visiting Fukushima

Nobuaki Terasaka, head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told the House of Representatives Budget Committee on May 16 that there were a total of 4,956 cases of workers suffering from internal exposure to radiation at nuclear power plants in the country excluding the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and 4,766 of them involved workers originally from Fukushima who had visited the prefecture after the nuclear crisis. Terasaka revealed the data in his response to a question from Mito Kakizawa, a lawmaker from Your Party.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it received the data from power companies across the country that measured the workers' internal exposure to radiation with "whole-body counters" and recorded levels of 1,500 counts per minute (cpm) or higher. In 1,193 cases, workers had internal exposure to radiation of more than 10,000 cpm. Those workers had apparently returned to their homes near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant or had moved to other nuclear power plants from the Fukushima No. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants.

According to Kakizawa, one worker at the Shika Nuclear Power Plant operated by Hokuriku Electric Power Co. in Ishikawa Prefecture returned to his home in Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 13 and stayed there for several hours. He then stayed in Koriyama in the prefecture with his family for one night before moving out of Fukushima. On March 23, he underwent a test at the Shika Nuclear Power Plant that showed his internal exposure to radiation had reached 5,000 cpm. He was thus instructed by the company to remain on standby. The radiation reading dropped below 1,500 cpm two days later, and then he returned to work.

I know some hospitals have also reported that their own staff are testing positive for internal exposure but still know of no test results for those members of the public who really were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Re: Construction to resume on parts of solar project

HERE's A LINK to a description of the project. BrightSource Energy intends to build a system with an output of 370 megawatts on on 3,471 acres of BLM land. The report notes that: "the State of California is working to achieve a 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard, which will require 15,000 – 20,000 MW of renewable energy by 2020". HERE's another description from BrightSource. I wonder how much of that renewable energy supply was expected to arrive from Space Based Solar Power (SBSP), such as Keith Henson pitched last week...

E. Swanson

China shops for Latin American oil, food, minerals

"Viva China!" Chávez exclaimed during a televised meeting with business leaders from Beijing, thanking them for helping set up mobile-phone factories and build railways and public housing in Venezuela. He gushed: "I'm in love with China."

The relationship is driven in part by Chávez's eagerness to form alliances that exclude the U.S. But it's also good business for Chinese companies: Venezuela says it has been exporting to China about 460,000 barrels a day, about 20 percent of its oil exports, according to official figures. It hopes to double that soon.

"Venezuela has what we need," said Chen Ping, political counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Caracas. "And we also have what they need, for example technology ... Therefore we can help each other mutually."

The Chinese stake appears set to grow exponentially.


And it's a little bit more than Hugo wanting to punish the US. A few years ago China cut a deal with Hugo: China built several special tankers designed specifically to carry some of the Vz nasty crude to refineries specially built in China to process this same nasty stuff. I'm not sure of the volumes but I think the majority of that 460,000 bopd came from this trade. And the trade was made when oil was probably selling for less than half of what it is today.

And this is where the Chinese companies run circles around US companies: they have the full backing and support of their govt in cutting such deals. They've been cutting deals like this for over 15 years...long before PO became popular to most. But the Chinese govt has understood it quit well and has taken appropriate proactive positions...and our govt hasn't IMHO.

Yeah the government has done nothing, yet many American consumers are benefiting from the excess at Cushing. Might even be an argument for doing nothing except it was luck or not. The Canadians have to be hopping mad - this has to be mostly intentional or at least benign neglect. Question for you. Why are pipelines still carrying oil to Cushing in the current circumstance?

daniel - How are American consumers benefiting? Only a few in the mid west are benefiting since their refiners are getting their crude cheaper. But the Cushing oil shipped via truck and rail car isn't being sold to Gulf Coast refiners for WTI. They're paying WTI + transport costs + profit margin. Don't have a number but only a small percentage of the US feedstock is WTI. Last I heard La. light sweet was selling for almost Brent prices.

The pipelines are still carrying oil to Cushing because folks are still buying Cushing oil and shipping it to refiners. As one Cushing tank empties the incoming line fills it back up. Just because there's less outflow capacity than inflow capacity at Cushing doesn't mean there isn't a lot of WTI being sold. But if you're going to buy it you have to pay whatever it costs to get it to your refinery. I get the feeling you don't think any Cushing oil is getting to the refiners. Far from true. Consider the opposite situation: the outflow from Cushing is erthan the delivery from Canada. Would we be complaining to the Canadians for not expanding their pipeline?

As far as the Canadian problem of getting their crude to more markets quicker that's essentially what it is: a Canadian problem. They don't like the current process they're free to ship all their crude to their west coast and sell it to China. Their oil...their choice.

BTW: not too long ago WTI was selling for less than $20/bbl. I'm not sure how many consumers feel "benefited" by WTI north of $95/bbl. Not exactly a selling point for "doing nothing" IMHO.

Just because there's less outflow capacity than inflow capacity at Cushing doesn't mean there isn't a lot of WTI being sold.

Someone must earn a lot of money on that line right now.

karl - For sure. I do get a little tickled when someone talks about the folks selling WTI so cheap getting screwed. All I need do is think back not too many years when I was selling my WTI for $18/bbl. It would have been really great had someone been screwing me back then with $90/bbl

Canadian oil boom may bring many more tankers to Northwest waters

Canada's oil sands hold massive quantities of oil — believed to be about 171 billion barrels, or roughly two thirds of Saudi Arabia's reserves. With development there expected to rise from 1.5 million barrels per day now to more 3.7 million barrels per day by 2025, Canadian energy companies are eager to find new ways to sell it.

That has not been a simple prospect. Most of the existing oil pipelines running through Canada are already operating at or near capacity.

Not surprisingly, the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas has become a symbol of the fight over America's energy future.


Key regulator: Speculators swamping oil, grain markets

Gensler said a top priority is finalizing a rule to establish so-called position limits_ caps on how much of the market any one trader can capture — "a tool to curb or prevent excessive speculation that may burden interstate commerce," Gensler said.

Up until 2001, financial speculators faced caps on how much they could buy in futures markets. Those caps disappeared in 2001. A McClatchy investigation last month showed that participation ratios have flipped since then, with speculators now accounting for more than 70 percent of the oil futures market. On Thursday, Gensler said that number is up to 88 percent.


jerry - Given that 99% of the volume of oil traded in the futures market doesn't really physically exist I can't see how at least 99% of the futures contracts aren't being held by specualtors. These folks are strictly specualting on the future price of oil...they never buy or sell an actual bbl of oil. So they, of course, have absolutely captured the oil futures market. But they haven't captured any of the oil sales market. And that's where the price of oil is determined. The KSA doesn't sell one bbl of oil based upon the futures market...they charge as much as they can squeeze out of their buyers.

I'll repeat what others have asked: how does someone making a bet on the future price of oil get the KSA change their asking price for its production? Folks keep asking and yet no one has answered other than to say "by speculating". And that's not an answer IMHO.

As usual, you are spot on. Speculators bet on the direction the price will go. If it goes up, they win; if it goes down, they lose. Some of them use timing... or guessing. No guarantees on direction, as we can see, except if the real value of oil rises, then you can bet prices will rise as well.

It looks to me as though a bunch of speculators figured that shortage of supply might increase price, and gambled on that. They were correct. But, some people were betting at $110 that we were headed for $140 by summer. Wrong! They lost. Every transaction has a winner and a loser. KSA doesn't care since they only sell to people who take delivery.

Anyway, I am wondering why we keep watching WTI price, when Brent and LA crude are more to the point. Manifa is a tad more expensive than Ghawar, and if you add in the refining cost to deliver product instead of oil, probably a lot more so. Does anyone know how much that might be?


I am totally with you guys, Rockman, Zaphod, and Darwinian in particular, when it comes tio speculatoras and the price of oil.

I'm personally waiting for someone to explain to me how the great white shark types who manage major or super major oil companies, and a national oil companies, and huge chains of service stations and convenience stores, and pipelines and refineries, are dumb enough to allow a bunch of speculators to get between them in thier working relationship as suppliers and customers, and siphon off a fat profit for simply swapping around some paper.....a profit that they would , from thier pov, rightfully consider thier own.

Now on the OTHER HAND, if we suppose these so called speculators are one and the same , in some cases, as the actual participants in the physical oil market, I could see them being able to work a few deals among themselves on the quiet, and hold back some production deliberately, thereby forcing prices up.

It's hard to believe, but they might even do it right out in the open.

Anybody here ever heard of OPEC, or the the Standard Oil Company , etc? Snark on

mac - No guess to the volume but oil buyers/sellers do play the futures market to some extent. And the rewards can be great. Consider how Chesapeake took a huge hit when the price for their SG production tanked. But it would have been much worse had they not locked up a big chunk of their production in future sales contracts at around twice they would have been getting in the market place. And what happened to the folks who had to pay $10/mcf to CHK when they couldn't resell it for more that $5/mcf? If they were smart they had covered their exposure with futures contracts betting the opposite in price movements. That wouldn't prevent all losses on their part but greatly reduce the magnitude of their potential loss. And remember there's always the commission to pay. In every case when I've presold some production volume the buyers had always hedged their bet with futures cotracts. And usually did so to satisfy finance requirements...bankers don't mind you risking your butt as long as their position is covered.

Speculators bet on the direction the price will go. If it goes up, they win; if it goes down, they lose.

Well.... not to nitpick but that is just not correct. If the price goes up half of the speculators win and the other half of the speculators lose. There are just as many speculators betting the price will fall as there are betting the price of oil will rise.

I know you knew that but it just needed to be said.

Ron P.

Interesting stuff from Malaysia.


"Peak oil theorists may have found themselves at home in some unusual company today as the oil and gas industry gathered for its biggest annual conference, which is being held in Asia.
Those who believe the world has reached the point of maximum oil production, or will soon, would have found themselves nodding in agreement with Shamsul Azhar Abbas, the chief executive of Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia's state oil and gas company"

He expects an output gap of 32mbpd by 2030.


Those types of articles irritate me.
There is a certain demand AT A CERTAIN PRICE. Same for supply of course.
If crude costs $17,000/bbl demand will be less than when it costs $10/bbl. And at 17k/bbl there will be a whole lot more supply than at 10/bbl.
Talking about demand/supply issues without taking price into account is a waste of time.


Yes the lack of price drive me nuts too. What they really mean is we want cheap oil at $40 per barrel and there is not enough of that. Duh.

WP - not replying to yours so you can fix "17k/bbl there will be a whole lot more demand [supply] than at 10/bbl."

Or, as I would state it, there will be no gap. In 2030, as in any year, whatever is extracted shall be burned. Well, except whatever fraction is used for petrochemicals. But there will never be said 'gap'.

thanks for point out that huge mistake. it's fixed.
I agree that no matter how much energy (or any other resource for that matter) we have we'll use it.
As somebody - I think it was Bob Shaw - used to say here on TOD: "Are humans smarter than yeast?"


Re: Project Cyber Dawn Report (pdf)

(pg 4-5)... The impact of a successful cyber-attack on Libya may have far reaching consequences. A single individual or small group has the potential, in a worst-case scenario, to gain a measure of control over the economies of allied nations whose economies have a level of dependence on Libyan oil production.

Libya‘s lack of cyber security coupled with industrial automation presents a ripe target for attacks that are designed to gain control of, or sabotage critical infrastructure. Potential outcomes are discussed with their local and global impact.

The impact of infrastructure-targeted cyber-attack is not limited to the systems affected or even trading partners who rely on the production of oil, or gas products. A successful attack against a refinery or electrical grid system has the potential to lead to a widespread fear of repeat attacks in other regions and cause an inflation surge in the global economy due in part to a loss of consumer confidence.

Much of this report is designed to work up a froth for some of the CyberWar dollar$ in the MIC trough.

Sure, Stuxnet may come back to haunt us; but China is more likely to pull the trigger next time - not Libya or Al-Queada.

Otherwise, [the report] has a good collection of stats on Libya and it's customers.

Ash clouds? You ain't seen nothing yet

If you thought the Icelandic volcano was bad – think again. According to a new study, the recent ash clouds that grounded aircraft and marooned holiday-makers were “just a taste” of the widespread air pollution, public health problems and agricultural crises that future, bigger eruptions could bring.

...Volcanic activity, Oppenheimer argues, was at least part of the reason for numerous major events in world history – among them the collapse of Minoan civilisation, medieval bubonic plague, the 19th century prairie trail migrations to the American West; even the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

...“The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and knock-on effects at the Fukushima nuclear plant shows that cascading failures can have massive impacts on societies,” he added. “The problem for governments is that the potential scale of the damage that really big eruptions cause is difficult to consider against the improbability of them occurring.

JEREMY GRANTHAM: We're Headed For A Disaster Of Biblical Proportions

Legendary investor Jeremy Grantham of GMO has published a treatise on the root cause of exploding commodity prices.
Grantham concludes that the world has undergone a permanent "paradigm shift" in which the number of people on planet Earth has finally and permanently outstripped the planet's ability to support us.

Thanks for the link Merrill. This is a man after my own heart:

From a societal standpoint, the news is far worse. Grantham believes that the planet can only sustainably support about 1.5 billion humans, versus the 7 billion on Earth right now (heading to 10-12 billion). For all of history except the last 200 years, the human population has been controlled via the limits of the food supply. Grantham thinks that, eventually, the same force will come into play again.

Exactly! Finally someone who sees things like they truly are.

Click on his link here and get a great slide show. In the first one I noticed he was born in the same year as I.

Ron P.


What I call permaculture/natural farming others call agroecology... and other things. Obviously, some people are starting to "get it." Grantham may be right, but it won't be because of our ability to grow food sustainably, merely our lack of will to do so.

And thanks again Merrill for this link. I think this says it all.

The Green Revolution in agriculture, which swept much of the developing world during the 1960s, saved an estimated one billion people from famine. Thanks to high-yielding crop varieties, irrigation, agrochemicals and modern management techniques, farmers in developing countries increased food production from 800 million tonnes to more than 2.2 billion tonnes between 1961 and 2000.

Bold mine. Yes high-yielding crop varieties of genetically modified seed from companies like Monsanto certainly helped a lot. Then those agrochemicals, made possible by fossil petrochemicals helped also. Then there was irrigation, pumping water deep from fossil aquifers was a big factor in the green revolution.

The Green Revolution required massive inputs from fossil energy but it worked. It enabled the population explosion continue at an even faster rate. But those agrochemicals will eventually disappear, and all that irrigation is already coming to an end, and will be gone completely in a decade or so. I can make no prediction about those genetically modified seed that played such a large part in the Green Revolution. But I do know that most of them require high amounts of fertilizer and water so their effect in the future is questionable.

So I will leave it there, for others to speculate on the continuing input to the world's food supply from the Green Revolution. But I am fearful, very fearful.

Ron P.

I can make no prediction about those genetically modified seed that played such a large part in the Green Revolution. But I do know that most of them require high amounts of fertilizer and water so their effect in the future is questionable.

So I will leave it there, for others to speculate on the continuing input to the world's food supply from the Green Revolution. But I am fearful, very fearful.

Thank goodness we can, and should, do without them.

Context is everything in such a discussion as this one.

Speaking as a professionally trained farmer, as well as one who grew up at the tail end of the horse and mule era in one of the few places in America where people still practiced some pre green revolution agriculture, I can say a few things that can be safely taken to the bank.

On the grand scale, Darwinian is right-barring an actual MIRACLE, food production is going to crash , and probably within the next decade- or maybe two at the most.This conclusion is inescapable if resource depletion is accepted as a given condition.

Now as to whether this results in truly widespread starvation, or starvation in pockets, my personal guess is that at least early on, the dieoff will be very heavy but mostly in limited areas where much food is imported and the locals run out of the wherwithal to purchase it.The dieoff will spread to areas dependent on imported chemical inputs and ground water irrigation and lots more will perish there, when either the money for fertilizer/pesticides OR the water, or both run out.

I personally do not see famine as being an issue in the rich and well developed countries for the forseeable future, barring ill luck such as WWWIII-which unfortunately, imo, is all to likely within the forseeable future.

It will be quite possible to divert energy and other resources currently devoted to frivilious uses to agriculture for a long time to come;farmers can get by with diesel manufactured fronm coal or by producing thier own , and the portion of crude oil and natural gas that go into fertilizer and pesticides is not that large-production of both can be maintained, in adequate amounts for those who can pay for them, for a long time, longer than Darwinian and I are likely to be hanging out here anyway.

People will live gladly in both hotter and colder houses, and give up lots of toys, in order to eat-the gas will be made into fertilizer, rest assured, so long as any gas is being produced.

Of course even in the rich countries, the large majority of people will be eating farther down the food chain-a lot father in most cases.

Now as to Pri -de 's comment:

It IS technically/theoritically possible that we could survive , by farming without large inputs of chemical resources-meaning damned near everything I buy from fuel to rat poison- in SOME PLACES, and in considerable numbers.

I live in such a place, and possess the knowledge and cultural background to succeed in such an endeavour.There may be as many as half a dozen more who post here occasionally who are from similar backgrounds.

My diet will still be varied and healthy, but it will be far more limited than ever before-I won't be having any grapes in mid winter.

There is simply no way we can transition on short notice from an urban/ commercial /industrial/ services economy to one employing a huge part of the population in basic agriculture-and if the way existed, the necessary farm land with the necessary climate does not exist in sufficient acreage or in satisfactory locations.

The thought of moving a million or two New Yorkers to central Va boggles the mind.Multiply that by fifty and you have a clue, but ONLY clue, as to the enormity of the problem.

The good reverend Malthus will have the last laugh-my biology professors won that argument, to my satisfaction , way back in the dark ages when I was an under grad, even as I was learning how to produce twice as much food in a tenth of the time on half the land as my beloved long departed Old Pa ever did as a young man.

He had a tractor and all modern machinery towards the end, and used purchased pesticides and fertilizers and seed -he had to to survive, economically.

But we continued to milk a cow, and raise a few acres of crops the old way, with the mule and by hand, with our own seed, so long as he was able, for old times sake.

It can be done again, but damned few of us are going to actually do it, until it is too late to learn how-it takes a while.

I keep the old tools well protected from the weather, but it has proven impossible to get the few kids in the family to even show up on a Saturday to raise a few watermelons and cantaloupes just for the fun of it-they are playing ball and listening to rick and rap and are spoiled beyond belief-none of them have ANY responsibilities beyond school work and cleaning thier own room.

"to learn how-it takes a while"

And that is a crucial point. I do think there are all sorts of possibilities, but most of them require a large number of people learning skills that it can take decades (or, in a sense, life times--knowledge passed down through the generations) to learn.

But maybe many could know enough to be help for those who know more?

It is sad that young un's mostly don't have an interest in these things. All though my 15-year-old daughter, whom I have tried to interest in gardening her whole life, while walking in our local farmers market came out with "I'd really like to live on a farm."

I was astonished. I immediately got the numbers of some of the farmers there and lists of more, many of whom were willing to pay for good help--a perk that further piqued my daughter's interest. She's at a friend's cabin now, so we'll see if the interest is still there when we get back.

So perhaps it is a matter of timing for some. My nephew spent a summer on a farm, and had planned to do more, but things didn't work out with some family property he was supposed to inherit. He did claim that when he talked to friends about it, most said they planned to eventually move to a small town or farm. I don't know if they were just being supportive of his plans, or if they were just day dreaming. But I like to think that it is some indication for hope for those coming up.

Doubtless, this is just me being a cock-eyed optimist, though. Me and Mitzi:


It does take a while, but the basics are simple enough that anyone can get started immediately. And there are actually tons of gardeners around. If it comes down to it, we have the mentors. more and more of the how to..." is on-line and in books. just reading any one of Permaculture A Designers Manual, Gardening When it Counts, Square Foot Gardening, Gaia's Garden and/or many others makes being a competent gardener/small farmer accessible. To be an expert? That takes time. To produce significant food? Anyone can start tomorrow.

The real time issue comes in transforming industrial ag to localized ag. Now there's a problem.

School gardens are the key here for kids, but they need to be treated like extensions of the classroom with every subject being taught in the garden to some degree. Geometry is obvious, soil and plant biology, human anatomy and biology, phyla, water cycle, complex systems, planning, organization, scientific method, geology, climate... I can't think of a single subject area you can't enrich via the garden.

Your comments are all well and good, but are still incorrect in one aspect: your assumption of what cannot be done. The Victory Garden experience of WWII alone proves you wrong. Since you were there then, I'm surprised. It takes little time to turn a yard into a garden, which means given a similar program to VG's, we could literally replace 40% of vegetable production in a single one-to-two year period. This isn't hyperbole or BS, this is simple historical fact.

A transformation to a nation of farmers would take more time, but we have the example of Cuba: nobody starved. They transformed their ag industry in a period well within the bounds we face.

Our true limits come longer term from climate. Nature bats last. it is not my position we will not see collapse; ag is only one part of a very complex system. it is my position that if food is a major cause of collapse, it will be due to ignorance and a lack of will. We know how to feed the planet without fossil fuels, and it is not shrouded in mystery. Rather than having to contend with ignorance and straw men, this knowledge should encourage us to realize there may just be a chance to avert wholesale death and destruction. Food and shelter. After that, everything else is gravy. There is opportunity here.

I appreciate the acknowledgement of natural types of farming as being viable.

The period was from 1961. Much of the green revolution occurred before GMOs. So not sure how much of this growth in productivity was from GMOs. Once can get new seed varieties without GMOs. But your quote doesn't apportion the productivity that was due to GMOs. GMOs, however, are a great way to make the poor farmer completely dependent upon Monsanto.

On the one hand, there is the debate between those who advocate "conventional" farming vs those who advocate organic farming or substantially organic farming which I won't get into today due to the unfortunate results of that discussion yesterday. However, either way, the current and projected population is not sustainable. Chemical farming with intensive water, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides allowed us to pump the population much higher than it would have been without these innovations. But the dieoff will be that much the greater and there will be no recovery.

If you google when the green revolution began you will get anywhere from the early forties to the mid sixties. But the consensus is that it began about 1955 or 1956. Of course genetically modified (gene spliced) seed did not appear until perhaps the late 70s or early 80s. But really genetically modified seed first appeared in the early 50s. They were hybrid seed but created by cross breeding not gene splicing.

The first cooperate job I ever had was in about 1955, while I was still in high school, was with a company called Phister Hybrids. They produced hybrid seed corn. I worked with a crew that walked up and down six corn rows pulling out the tassels. Two "bull rows" were left between every six rows of seed producers. They were of a different variety and was left to produce pollen for the hybrid variety. Farmers who purchased Phister hybrid seed corn got a much higher yield than those who just planted the seed from last year's crop.

But I digress. The point is that the green revolution has increased production per acre every year since the mid sixties. But as JEREMY GRANTHAM shows in this graph the population growth rate has now caught the growth rate in agricultural production, and it will soon pass it.

But that is not the scary part. What happens when the "yield per acre" starts to drop because of the disappearance of fossil fuel produced fertilizer and pesticides and everything else. The population will obviously start to drop because it must... it must.

Denial is more than a just river in Egypt.

Ron P.


What GMOs can do basically is reduce the petrochemical inputs in the form of pesticides. So if that is true then the oil costs per acre in theory may go down due to the invention of GMOs.

I am not a big proponent of GMOs but they do offset some chemicals no doubt.

I have no idea whether crop yield itself is influenced. But perhaps crop yield per bbl of oil is influenced.

The whole idea behind GMO is to increase yield per acre, not to reduce pesticides or herbicides. Roundup ready soybeans and other roundup ready products do not reduce the application of herbicides, they increase it.

Also GMO plants increase the production of grain or seed at the expense of other parts of the plant. There is less foliage and more grain and this requires more fertilizer and especially more water. There is absolutely no way that GMO decreases the input of fertilizer or herbicides, though there may be some slight decrease in pesticides. But overall GMO increases the amount of fossil fuel inputs, it does not decrease it.

But this is really an academic argument. After the age of fossil fuel we will revert back to the way it was done two to three hundred years ago. The idea that we can carry all this new fossil fuel developed technology forward after the age of fossil fuel is a pipe dream pure and simple.

Ron P.

The whole idea behind GMO is to increase yield per acre, not to reduce pesticides or herbicides. Roundup ready soybeans and other roundup ready products do not reduce the application of herbicides, they increase it.

This statement is false. As a farmer I know for a fact that I use less chemicals with roundup ready seed than before. Last year I sprayed my corn only once and hope to do it again this year.

GMO corn also eliminates the need for root worm pesticide and spraying for corn borers.

The big advantage to GMO is herbicide and pesticide cost saving. In fact roundup ready soybeans yield less than regular soybeans. Ask any farmer.

The gain to the farmer is that the savings in herbicides, pesticides and field cultivation enable him to farm more land and increase his income. If there is any yield increase it is minor. This is verified by the slow average yield increases in recent years despite GMO seed.

If GMO seed increased yield, it should show up in increased average yield. Average yield increase has not been all that great lately.

Your other two paragraphs are also wrong. Stick to commenting on oil.

Well my dad was a corn farmer also, along with cotton and a few other things. But he did not use any pesticides for his corn or soybeans. He did dust for boll weevils however when they arrived in the late 40s. And he never used any herbicides on anything, not on the cotton or corn or soybeans. So if you are using one ounce of Roundup then you are using more than he did.

Herbicides were virtually unknown before the green revolution.

Anyway JEREMY GRANTHAM had this to say.

The ever-increasing-yield per acre, by the way, is the result of heavy fertilizer use. And most fertilizers are commodities, too (potassium, for example). So there's no infinite supply of fertilizers, either.

There is just no way that the since the onset of the green revolution we are using fewer fossil fuel inputs. In fact we are using a whole lot more.

If GMO seed increased yield, it should show up in increased average yield. Average yield increase has not been all that great lately.

Total absolute nonsense. This Link which I also posted above, shows that yield was increasing by about 3.5 percent per year in 1971 and has been gradually declining but is still increasing at just above 1 percent per year, about the same rate the population is increasing.

Your other two paragraphs are also wrong. Stick to commenting on oil.

My other two paragraphs were absolutely correct. Genetically Modified agriculture is to increase yield per acre and it does require more fertilizer and water. And increased yield must be at the expense of some other part of the plant. That is basic biology. I would suggest that you X, stick to growing corn instead of commenting on something you obviously know nothing about.

Ron P.


Like all arguments. A quantitative understanding of the inputs required immediately prior to GMO (like 5 years earlier) to post GMO would be required. How many tons of petrochemicals per acre including diesel fuel to run the sprayers and so forth? But it is not clear to me that more water and fertilizer are needed because of GMO. I have not seen that before.

If GMO increase yield, you gotta invest more water and fertilizers. You can not cheat thermodynmics.

Wait a second. If yield increases, then the plant makes less green stuff and more fruit/grain matter (useful stuff) so the thermodynamic efficiency therefore improves.

It is water/fertilizer use per output calorie of food.

Good lord. We should all talk once the numbers are there in front of us.

If yield increases, then the plant makes less green stuff and more fruit/grain matter (useful stuff)

This is mostly, but not always the case.

The ratio of grain to total biomass is called the Harvest Index, or HI. A prime objective of plant breeding programs for the last century has been to get the plants to produce more grain and less leaf/stalk - i.e. increase the HI. A study in England concluded that ha;f the yield increase over the last century has been due to plant breeding, and specifically, increasing the Harvest Index.

Referenced in here;

So plant a and B can each produce the same amount of total biomass, and use exactly the same water, nutrients to do so. but the one with the higher harvest index will produce more grain.

The one with the lower index is likely to be more hardy, survivable, etc. It is more likely to always produce at least something, but the highly bred varieties do very well in optimum conditions, and very bad in adverse conditions.

You input all your NPK, and if you didn't, you'd have no crop to speak of because you have destroyed the soil and are also destroying the water table, rives, lakes and oceans.

Not exactly a big win.

My garden, on the other hand, can go years with no inputs at all, and will never have chemical inputs, and I had a 3 lb yield per potato plant last year. White potatoes, not Russet.


Those of us who are professionally educated , commercial scale farmers are not argueing that your methods don't work-at least I am not.

What we are saying, basically, is that for cultural, economic, political, biological, and geological reasons, they CAN'T AND WON'T be scaled up , at least not in time to prevent lots of people from dying from starvation, slowly, or fast in some cases, or from the social consequences of imminent starvation.

We aren't going to take this sort of thing peacefully or rationally-we have an entitlement mentality these days, not to mention an electoral system geared to the short term.

Cuba was, and remains, a police state, fortunately one with effective top down management in respect to agriculture and public health.

The population was used to a rather marginal standard of living, most of the people were still culturally or physically comnnected with the agricultural subsistence lifestyle, the climate was/is tropical, the soil rather better than average, rainfall more than adequate, etc.

The Cuban economy was never autocentric.

We aren't going to do what the Cubans did for a lot of very good reasons when tshtf here.

I am with you however when you argue that INDIVIDUALS can get started and grow a lot of food without much experience, and learn otj.

But to expect the general run of the mill citizen to make an effort do so before it is too late is to be unduly optimistic, to say the least.

I'm as pessimistic as the next guy when it comes to die off.

But you might be interested to know that nationally the sale of garden vegetable seeds flower seeds a couple years ago for the first time in decades. Locally, all community gardens I know of have waiting lists. Farmers markets and CSA's are spreading rapidly. One of our local coops sells trading cards with farmers pictures and stats on them, like baseball cards.

The majority may still be largely disconnected, but more and more are starting to reconnect with the land. And lots of people are coming to the conclusion that they cannot count on the economy, the government, their jobs...to be there for them when they need them in the future.

Yeah, probably all too little too late. But it's not nothing.

Actually, you've got it backwards. I have been making one case and being argued against with what you are saying. For the umpteenth time, my point has not been we are likely to avoid collapse, it has been that we can grow enough food for the current, and larger, population, without FFs, and we can actually make that transition relatively quickly - at least quickly enough to avoid full collapse. We did in WWII and Cuba did in the 90's

I think we are likely to collapse, but are not yet destined to.

Think of it this way: Life is basicly chemical reactions in water solution.

Once this simple truth is accepted it is easy to conect the dots. If you produce more yield with fertilizers, then you will have had a higher input AND output. Given the statement above, more water is requiered.

You can not increase yield without using more water. And if you go down the path of artificial fertilizers, we talk a lot of water. Now, if you do not have an upstream water source, or live in very rainy lands, you will need to pump that water. Wich leads to more fossil fuels, since those pumps rarely are electrical.

I was thinking something similar. The Green Revolution was basically the breeding of better seeds to efficiently utilise the increased amounts of water, fertiliser and improved techniques made available by fossil fuels. Take away the benefits provided by fossil fuels and the yields collapse. So the received wisdom that high-tech advances in plant breeding lead to increase yields is probably misleading. And the supposed future increase in yields due to further high-tech plant breeding/genetic modification that's going to feed 7-12 billion people in the face of declining fossil fuel availability is little better than daydreaming.

So what we actually have in the future due to fossil fuel depletion and climate change is increased planting distances to allow for less water and nutrients which equals reduced yield per acre.

The most common response to the problem (ignoring high-tech non-starters) seems to be to turn away from agriculture to horticulture with a corresponding increase in human labour.

Yair...pri-de. KalimankuDenku (Cosmic Voices?). I don't know if you caught my comments on the previous thread so I will post them here again.

We don't kid ourselves this is a 'save the world' devise.

As far as recycleable goes does steel qualify as recycleable in this brave new world rising?

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 be powered by draught animals which would only have to be trained to walk around the circle and stop and go to voice commands.

I get a bit annoyed with some of the comments I see on various sites about working "gardens" with draught animals. There seems to be an assumption that critters are just rational and follow down the rows...sheesh.

As far as I can determine this is the only system that provides the benifits of precission agriculture (plus or minus twenty mil.) when working with a mule...with unskilled operators/drivers.

Weeding/disking operations prior to planting do not need an operator to be in attendance...the critter is just started off and as he works the implement moves inward across the circle, lightening the load...it would be also very simple to arrange a cover so the animals are always working in shade.

Other versions of the devise could be used for the large (or small) scale production of compost. We envisage the material to be composted could be arranged in a circular pile or in a spiral windrow beneath the machine and turned with a six to eight foot diameter toothed disk...using a LOT less hp than conventional diesel windrow turners. Water or activators can be taken from the central pivot. 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...have you checked out the cost of such things at the garden centres?

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...(possibly with friend or foe tags for indexing) At minimal cost the unit could trim daily 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.


Steel is very recyclable.

Weeding/disking operations prior to planting do not need an operator to be in attendance

No disking allowed, thank you.

Thanks for the info.

Yair...How is steel recyclable in any meaningful way in a world devoid of fossil fuels...if we want to take the discussion to rediculous extremes.

What are your issues with discing?

I have issues with working the soil at all...but you try and sell that concept to farmers.

Because of the accuracy with which this system works we are developing tooling to remove a three inch wide strip of pasture/playing field/park/lawn.

The tooling undercuts the grass roots for eight inches either side of the groove and loosens the soil sufficiently to plant seeds or seedlings.

The undercutting is carried out several times during the life of the
crop to prevent the grass/weeds robbing nutrients and moisture.

A string type weed trimmer or ground driven cylinder mower clips the grass between the rows which is deposited in the groove around the plants as mulch.

Tests so far indicate that various grasses can kept pretty much in a state of suspended animation by this technique.

In affect what we are doing is using turf (sod in the U.S.) as a living mulch that contributes carbon content to the growing slots from the clippings and leaves.

The advantages are a protected rootzone for the crop plants, less use of water and nutrients, zero errosion and of course it provides a clean environment in which to pick and pack.

Irrigation can be by conventional trickle tape tined into the grooves or, prefferably by nozzles on the machine that can apply slurries/compost tea.

The primary application of the machine in the first place was to provide a low technology and inexpensive means of applying water at the same or less rate as best practice commercial trickle...without sophisticated tapes, emitters, pumps, or filtration. I noted that a usefull version could be built from bamboo and bicycle wheels.



You can melt steel with solar energy.

Discing: destroys soil food web. Also, your machine sounds pretty cool, but it has to fit into a sustainable system, and that sustainable system will include more human labor than we have now. Your machine I see as fitting the open source approach I gave you links to, which I hope you checked out. I also see it, and pretty much every other machine, that is part of a neighborhood tool library, and maybe a neighborhood makerspace, a la the tool kit i linked you to.

In affect what we are doing is using turf (sod in the U.S.) as a living mulch that contributes carbon content to the growing slots from the clippings and leaves.

We do that with sheet mulching, a.k.a. lasagna beds or sheet composting, and don't disrupt the soil food web to do it. in this way, the grasses aren't in suspended animation, they are fully composted.

The advantages are a protected rootzone for the crop plants, less use of water and nutrients, zero errosion and of course it provides a clean environment in which to pick and pack.

Roots are even more protected by no plowing at all, and mulching alone will retain even more water and add nutrients, not just retain them and provides the same clean environment. Nature wins. ;-)

I see usefulness for your machine, but not for the general purpose farming you propose. More so as an aid or adjunct for emergencies, times when labor is elsewhere, perhaps getting a field into production quickly due to some problem such as an influx of new people, contamination of other fields, weather damage to other fields... what have you. This also fits with the idea of having one as part of a tool library for a community, but not necessarily used unless really needed. Of course, if you can power it without FFs, use it wisely to reduce work but not sloth, etc., why not?

I appreciate your insights, as always.

I have always wondered how cover crops--often touted as the way to cut back on herbicides--can be turned into the soil without some kind of tilling.

Any further insights would be much appreciated.

Well, you don't want to turn them into the soil, you usually just need to knock them down, and something like this beast is just the ticket;


Yair...I have been following the Rodale developments for years Paul and have tried the method on vegetables on a smaller scale.

Suitable covercrops that can generate sufficient biomass on average/poor soils without large initial applications of lime and fert. are difficult to find...and you have to get a kill with the rolling.

The main problem we found were all different beasties that live within the mulch layer. In our proposed method on the other hand the undercut sward protects the soil supresses weeds and does not give the critters...slugs, snails, grasshoppers, crickets, mice a place to live...the sward is rolled back into firm contact with the soil after the undercutting knife has done its thing.

Over time the few clippings generated improve the soil within the slots...that is to say...we do not want it to die out...the whole point of the exercise is to keep it in suspended animation "bonsai grass and weeds" if you will.

As mentioned the soil within the slots is only tined sufficiently to plant seeds/seedlings/cuttings. The undercutting process is only at the depth of thirty mil. or so and extends outwards on each side of the slot. It does not interfere with the established plants.

If this type of operation and not "normal"cultivation was practiced it would only take one kilowat to drive the rig.

The only reason such a system is possible is because of the accuracy with which the machine rotates. On an application such as this there would be very little deviation.

Cheers to all I appreciate the interest.

Scrub, I am thinking more in terms of broadacre applications, whereas your system is for an intensive farming/market gardening operation.
So the cover crops, or break crops, serve a different purpose, and you can't really control bugs etc.

On my brother's farm at Young he often grows oats and clover as a break crop, grows unbelievably well, such that you have too much biomass there. A neighbour made up a roller from a pipe with angle iron slats nailed onto it - not quite as nice as the Rodale one, but did the job, and much less hp than a slasher.

Growing Veggies are a whole different ball game, but my neighbour here near Vancouver grows Rye in her garden as a cover crop, and it seems to work well.

Your undercutting method sounds interesting - I guess that would also work with norrmal row crops like corn, cotton, etc.

Thanks for the info. So just rolling over them kills them sufficiently to plant other things in?

The ideal roller crushes the stems so they die "slowly".

What you'd like is to have your seeds get sprouted before the cover crop causes a fungal bloom which will 'consume' weed seeds and the death of the fungi/bacteria will provide food to your new plants.

There is also the technique of growing the crop fully intermixed with other plants as in a prairie, getting the best of all worlds in the process. This is an ecosystem, and is healthier because of it.

I don't know if I missed the 30 mm number or if this is the first you've said it, but that makes it much more palatable. I still wouldn't use it: we will have plenty of people to harass grasshoppers and chase mice.

Yair...I have been following the Rodale developments for years Paul and have tried the method on vegetables on a smaller scale.

Suitable covercrops that can generate sufficient biomass on average/poor soils without large initial applications of lime and fert. are difficult to find...and you have to get a kill with the rolling.

The main problem we found were all different beasties that live within the mulch layer. In our proposed method on the other hand the undercut sward protects the soil supresses weeds and does not give the critters...slugs, snails, grasshoppers, crickets, mice a place to live

*Rodale is great, permaculture is better. I would not do Rodale merely as Rodale outlines. it all must happen within a wider design, all connected, all inputs and outputs matched, and within the framework of a list of principles. This is why it's fairly dangerous to discuss this like this - lot's of room for misunderstandings because one cannot discuss an entire design, only small pieces, so things that are somewhat obvious to a designer are never said and left to the imagination of the reader. Ouch.

I am sure you had issues, but i'm fairly certain we could find solutions that do not require your machine. i actually do not mean to appear critical, so I hope you are not receiving my comments as criticism; they are exploration. What is important is that your machine, or any machine, fit into the system and within the principles, or you will have a very hard time making that system sustainable, so I am exploring where a machine such as yours can help with, rather than hinder, sustainability. There is a lot of embedded energy in any machine.

First, if you do an end of season cover, you don't need to crimp it down until the freeze, eliminating the pest issue. if you do it in the spring, you should be sowing another crop in at the same time, which should, if timed well and if the crop is carefully chosen to fit your needs and the system, grow up quickly enough to avoid any serious problems. using clover, especially a low-growing clover like Dutch White can mean not having to turn it under at all, if you don't wish, depending on the crop to be grown.

One could gather and burn the residue for K, gather and compost and return it to the field that way. That might be a more legitimate use of the machine because it fills a need but doesn't harm the soil in any way. Also, we should figure a certain percentage of crop loss to animals and other pests. if you are within your planned ratio, live and let live.

A farm that has a myriad of ecosystems in it will have a thriving community of beneficial biota that will keep in balance with your non-beneficial. Slugs? Get ducks. Borrow ducks. Etc. Nothing is absolute nor is anything perfect. There are bound to be very difficult problems and natural events we cannot overcome in the moment, but that is also part of the design philosophy. if you get overrun by slugs, but your neighbor down the road is growing the crop, too, you still have a harvest, e.g.

I hope you will contact the folks at Factor e.

I was mulling over the harvesting process, and I would suppose you've already come up with something like a conveyor belt that could move produce out along the bar and deliver it at the perimeter to a trailing cart or somesuch?

There are so many interesting ways to implement and modify this tool. Do please keep pushing forward with it, Scrub! (even if it feels like you're just going in circles!!)

-- I needed a much smaller version of it this morning, as I was cutting circles on my bandsaw for a 3-axis Camera Tilt Head. I could probably spend the rest of my life just building jigs!


Yair...jokuhl. thanks for the kind words. Harvesting is one of the major advantages of the system...and where small commercial growers mostly come unstuck.

With sufficient time and not a lot of money (which I don't have at the moment anyway) any amount of mechanical picking aids and fixtures can be devised.

The most basic is a pallet mounted on a set of forks on the tool carrier...the machine can lift it high enough to place into a ute (pickup) or trailer.

The machine rotates slowly as workers harvest and a crop such as lettuce can be field boxed, bar coded and transferred straight into the coolroom...there are endless variations including conveyors which are pretty spendy.

A major advantage when field packing crops that must be washed is that preasurised water is available for rinsing and is returned straight to the field.

Hello Scrub Puller

A misunderstanding? I think it is a fine idea! The workmanship on your prototype is very nice, very nicely done. The tiny robots image is fun, and workable, too... though it is a product of my own imagination and a hurried reading of your words. I hope I am not insufferable too!

A topiarytron might be made much lighter. Look at the rigs used for flying cameras over sporting events. They use three cables from three towers and can visit any spot and altitude inset within the inscribed space.

Kalimanku Denku is the name of a Bulgarian folk song. It is difficult to describe it's meaning, for the words are ancient and the power is in their delivery. "Mari" is used to call the attention. I engaged the services of a translator and her grandmother remembered her mother calling "mari" when she wanted eye-contact. I look to the best in art, science, and technique. I sense the worst in leadership.
Single voice:
Janka Rupkina "The Battle"

The BT protein reduces a number of pesticides and tractor runs through the fields. I do not think Round-up is really a big deal. The whole idea of GMO was to get rid of noxious chemicals. Organic farmers say well why not just apply BT proteins on the plants from natural sources. OK. But they are doing the same thing. They are using bacterial extracts instead of petrochemicals.

Organic farming would use more hydrocarbons to ferment bacteria compared to GMOs which produce the protein inside the plant.

I am not talking about fertilizers. They are of course still required since corn cannot fix nitrogen and nothing can make phosphorous or potassium (unless there is nuclear chemistry going on ;-)

However genetic engineering of corn is a very old institution for yield. it goes back 10,000 years. GMOs are just a modern version of crossing strains to get desired traits.

The obvious danger is using too much BT and developing insects with resistance. That is not a good this and it will happen. No doubt.

Organic farming would use more hydrocarbons to ferment bacteria

Why? I have made compost teas with zero hydrocarbons.

We just discussed potassium. Any shortage is due to mismanagement. End mismanagement, end the potassium problem. Same for the others. Corn? Beans. Done. Phosphorus? Organic farms achieve phosphorus self-sufficiency through the effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures, rather than through the application of commercial fertilizers. http://www.usawaterquality.org/themes/npm/research/P_Organic.html

If you do not allow your resources to leave your land, you don't have a nutrient problem. NPK are not lost through use, but through misuse.

Organic farms achieve phosphorus self-sufficiency through the effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures,

Except there is not full recycling - the P leafs the farm and becomes, oh say salad in the belly and pee in the bowl.

And that bowl of P is thusly flushed away.

Wich is why exporting food is a realy bad idea;you export atoms in the ground that is potential food. When the last shipment have left harbour,you are out of food for you grand children.

How many times in this drumbeat have we mentioned a full cycle system, including chickens, e.g., which provide the single best fertilizer you can get? (Would need to check against guano, but vs. animals, it's the best.) please note that only 2.5 percent of the plant is K, and that is going to be a fraction of the K in the soil, so you can go for years without replacing K, which gives you years to deal with the issue. Hell, just peeing in your compost will do it.

This is simply not an issue for sustainably designed garden/farm with adequate K to start with. The issues arise with restoring denuded land.

The peeing thing is the trick. After all you must have advanced your food indepenency a long way not to have to buy any food. Every time you do, you buy atoms, K, N, P, etc. You have alredy payed the price, now put your investment to use.

And I'm pointing out Phosphorous as the CSA I'm involved with has to add ton lots of green sand because the P is shipped off the land.

Then your CSA is not doing regenerative farming. The idea that your CSA needs to, so everyone else must, too, doesn't hold, if that is what you mean to imply. I assume they are testing to determine they actually need that added, or are relying on plant observations rather than just assuming they need it?

Then your CSA is not doing regenerative farming.

Duh, they can not.

Because the cycle is open as the food is shipped from the farm to the city and in the city the waste is not collected and shipped back to the farm.

They've been doing the CSA for 20 or so years - so really what do they know, right?

I do organic gardening in my yard and compost and do worms and teas. I even understand the protein toxins themselves, since that is what I specialize in (not insect ones but mammalian ones).

In any case, yes we all need to recycle pee, but good lord when will the US Gov let that happen?

Best way would be to convert sewage wastes into a lowish level nutrient to feed back into the system, but how do you do that in away that avoids the disease issues?

One would imagine there is a way to do that. For example, methane digest with thermophile bacteria to kill pathogens that need body temp. Then use the digested materials as a fertilizer input for soil after composing it back with worms or other means.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Armadillo Dirt

A mixture of sewage sludge and mulched tree cuttings and leaves.


Best Hopes for Good Marketing,


Ron is correct. GMOs increase the need for inputs ultimately. In a healthy, well designed garden or farm you simply don't need them, at least nothing you can't produce on your own.

Whomever said GMO and hybrid are the same, they are not. Hybrids are a natural process influenced only by choosing the crosses rather than letting them be random. GMOs are artificially manipulated and are being found to have none of the benefits and all of the negatives we were warned about. They do cross in the wild, e.g., and are designed to allow, at least with Roundup Ready seeds, one of the worst chemicals we put into the environment.

I think serious urban ag does have to start look toward using humanure.

You have to close the loop somehow. This is how the Chinese managed to farm the same land for over forty centuries.

(Dust blown in from the Gobi and flooding from the major rivers helped, too.)

Yes. The loops ultimately must close. Besides, every output matches an input. This is how one creates sustainability and avoids pollution. Any excess, or any waste, not accounted for is ultimately pollution.

You run into ordinance problems when you try to do this on any kind of large scale in most cities. Has the city considered rewriting its rules on use of human manure in your area? Have you started using it in yet?

Like I've said, systemic changes. And, no. Detroit city regs completely suck, but they are also generally ignored. Humanure is a tough sell even to many of us ecofreaks. Time will tell.

We're starting to convert one of our Bathrooms.. but haven't taken it to the city level yet. For starters, I'm working on how to bring it up with our Tenants and Neighbors. (In a way that will not have THEM bringing it to the city..)

Yair...As a point (maybe) of interest. My Mum was from market garden stock in the U.K. and she considered it normal practice to trench up the potato patch two years or so ahead.

The privies were emptied into to trenches every week and the poop was covered by knocking in the mounds. It was an ongoing process that produced a lot of spuds.

Slightly off topic but as an old(ish) bushman I have never been able to get my head around the notion of indoor plumbing. Society as a whole spends a lot of money on water infrastructure and treatment and then we crap in half of it and turn it into sewage which has to be treated...well you get my drift

Composting toilets are getting pretty schmiko and I can see the time where in places they will be mandated instead of as at preasent having to jump through hoops to use them.

I knew of old homesteads that had the longdrop mounted on skids and every few years they'd dig a new hole and hook on the draught horse to pull it side ways.

A mango tree was always planted on the backfill...I remember one place out of Normanton had thirteen trees in a perfect row representing about a hundred years of jit.

That's a big pile of Mangoes!

By the way, regarding working with poorish soil, you might be interested in this article. (I post it from time to time, as I think it deserves some attention..)



Yes! What you describe is exactly so! And one really should pay some attention to that 2 year limit. Great for growing trees, those old holes.

My sister-in-law and her partner have a composting loo which I was "privy-ledged" to use on a recent week working in their garden and house renovation. They use forest floor litter and the (indoor) toilet is odour-free. Some of the planting after my clearance work used humanure of 3 year vintage which gave every appearance of being good quality compost just like you pay top dollar for at the garden centre. I want to run a similar system at home but my wife is reluctant to convert the downstairs loo.

Having spent a couple of years building my growing space both in my home garden and allotment plots it's become apparent (practically, as well as theoretically) that getting enough organic material is a key constraint. And here in East Anglia we are officially in drought status so water conservation is even more vital than usual. All-in-all the humanure system looks to be win-win, although it takes planning and organisation to achieve (doesn't everything!?) The environmental health factor is one obstacle to overcome, but I think the taboo of human excrement is a more powerful hurdle to cross.

If all conditions are held constant, gmo's have the potential to reduce the needed inputs to some extent while holding yields the same.They also have the potential to increase yields to some extent using the same quantities of inputs.

However, as things stand today, these are MOSTLY unproven potentials.Any large increase in yields or reduction of inputs at this time is to the best of my admittedly skimpy knowledge in this respect still a gleam in the eyes of the researchers.

There are a few exceptions, such as roundup ready crops, which use roundup of course but use considerably less of other inputs, thereby lowering NET INPUT levels.

The field is still basically in diapers , and it seems reasonable to assume that serious progress will be made for the forseeable future-so long as old man bau is still otj.

I am simply amazed at the optimism of people who are dead certain they have overturned the results of centuries of experience and research in thier back yards.

However, I'm afraid they are due for some disappointments when they try to scale up thier ideas and are faced with the reality of time and labor issues at scale.

Almost any system of raising a garden will work, PASSABLY WELL, IF the gardener WORKS.

The real question is how long, and how hard, in comparision to the low material input methods used by conventional farmmers in the past.

My experience in investigating such alternative ststems is that the operators have simply exchanged one set of inputs for another.Little or no net gain.The new sets of inputs are generally only marginally more sustainable than the conventional sets.

Two key facts that must be kept in mind are:

Farms are not ecosystems in an urbanized and overpopulated world-food is shipped, and nutrients are not easily captured and returned from far away.

In puts that are described as sustainnable still generally depend on old man BAU for thier ready availability;and they are not available in huge quantities in most cases anyway.

I applaud the work and sincerity of those who are trying mightily to change things, I'm trying myself in some ways.

I'm just more realistic.

There simply AREN'T ANY "good" solutions to overshoot, but Mother Nature, red in tooth and claw, does nort recognize the human construct of good and evil.

Malthus will have the last laugh.

Good points, mac.

But do keep in mind that China also has a long tradition of farming going back millennia. They have a tradition of loading barges with 'night soil' to move it from the city back to the country.

And I'd say humans have quite a bit of red on our teeth and claw--that one always struck me as a bit of projection on the part of the Brits in the midst of their very bloody imperial expansion.

There are a few exceptions, such as roundup ready crops, which use roundup of course but use considerably less of other inputs, thereby lowering NET INPUT levels.

You always have inputs, but the idea that you cannot create a sustained loop is inaccurate. i think you and other commenters are simply dismissing out of hand what is being said here and physically demonstrated out in the world.

So, lowering net input levels from what? Compared to what? not one drop of chemical anything has been laid on my garden. I'm getting great yields doing exactly what I describe here. I understand you cannot grasp fully what i am getting at. i cannot write a book here. But if you have not read on the subject and implemented as intended, you really have no basis for your claims. if you have studied and feel you have implemented correctly, it's a fair bet a consultation with someone more experienced in this would find some errors or deficiencies, or merely think of options you have not. (Not claiming that person would be me.) But to dismiss all this as if the issues you raise have not been thought of doesn't hold. Yes, inputs are needed t build soil that is not optimal, but we forget plants pull nitrogen out of the air. plants can help break down rock and free up clay to release minerals. plants can be grown specifically to provide what is needed, etc. And, yes, there are huge unused waste streams, but NPK are not destroyed in the process of growing food, so you absolutely can create closed loop systems. Constantly arguing you can't when the logic is clear that you can makes no sense. The conversation should be focused not on impossibility, but possibility because NPK don't disappear, they cycle. That they cycle into our waterways, waste treatment plants and oceans is the problem, not our ability to close loops.

Yes, closing those loops will take work, but so what? Any new system requires work. The difference is, this work can and will, if properly managed, end the need to keep digging holes in the earth, etc.

I am simply amazed at the optimism of people who are dead certain they have overturned the results of centuries of experience and research in thier back yards.

No rules have been overturned. The rules you are talking about were simply wrong in the first place. That is nobody's fault, it's simply a societal issue. We lost track of some old knowledge and have learned some new knowledge. or are you claiming that unlike any other field of endeavor we cannot learn more about growing food? Why the Chinese knew to use night soils but Europeans didn't, I don't know. Lack of necessity? But as is logically clear, lands farmed for thousands of years must have developed ways to keep the fields healthy. much of this old knowledge has been recaptured or rediscovered and is being applied. What we have learned is that the "modern advances" were actually failures across the board. All we are talking about is learning from nature.

However, I'm afraid they are due for some disappointments when they try to scale up thier ideas and are faced with the reality of time and labor issues at scale.

Do my fingers stutter? Why scale up? We can only avoid collapse by scaling down, a miracle, or some currently unknown processes or resources that are the equivalent of a miracle.

The field is still basically in diapers , and it seems reasonable to assume that serious progress will be made for the forseeable future-so long as old man bau is still otj.

I disagree it is in diapers. Fukuoka and Mollison wrote their books decades ago. There are forest gardens hundreds, even thousands, of years old.

Perhaps there is confusion in this conversation between difficulty and possibility.

Every time I read an item on sustainable population, I have to remind all about St. Matthew Island, where, "...With no breeding population, the reindeer of St. Matthew Island died off..."


Draw down will go past sustainability. The difficulty is going to be getting the engine started again!


But really genetically modified seed first appeared in the early 50s. They were hybrid seed but created by cross breeding not gene splicing.

Yes, the 1850's when Gregor Mendel was crossing peas.

Or perhaps the 1350's when Brussel Sprouts showed up due to generic selection by Man.

"However, either way, the current and projected population is not sustainable."

Darwinian addresses food supply, but you won't. What's the point of responding, then?

"there is the debate between those who advocate "conventional" farming vs those who advocate organic farming or substantially organic farming "

Much like the debate about Climate Change, but here one is unsustainable and one is not. Actually, not quite true. Organic is not equal to sustainable or regenerative. The article actually gives examples of organic, but not sustainable, so is misleading. What the Merrill article describes is better than what is typical, but not enough better. You can't be "kind of" sustainable.

The thing about die off is this, if we can grow enough food, must die off occur? Food and shelter, right? This is why Tainter's studies are so important. He describes avoiding collapse by choosing simplification. There is no inherent reason we cannot choose simplification, but the choice must be made soon, and acted on.

It will involve a complete change in how we farm and who farms. It will involve simplification of social structures and norms, economic processes, transportation, everything.

Collapse and die off are not yet guaranteed, I don't think, and the key to it all is food. Fed people might muddle through, as in Cuba where hunger was the norm, but starvation didn't happen. Starving people neither can nor will muddle through, they will riot and/or die.

Given continuing climate change, desertification, and the increased requirements for energy for pumping, I don't see how any agricultural system can sustain the current or projected populations. We also have a finite availability of potassium. Having said that, I welcome any information you have that would demonstrate that I am wrong. Not that I don't think we shouldn't reduce the population regardless. If dieoff won't occur given current projected population, what level of population is unsustainable and when.

Would your methods sustain the population in West Texas which has only had 2 inches of rain since October? If so, I would find that fascinating and would love to hear what you would do given that situation.

As far as natural farming goes, I would like to hear more as Wikipedia did not give me a warm fuzzy on its potential for the world.

I did not broach this issue because I thought it might be good to have a cool down period from the whole debate about whether or not any form of agriculture is sustainable going forward. I think that maintaining the soil by building humus would be useful vs destroying the ground with chemicals and it appears this does a better job of water retention. However, I don't know if that combined with other techniques is sufficient going forward.

Cuba demonstrated that you can survive without significant oil inputs which is why they went organic. However, I don't know if Cuba is scalable for the world. They certainly were not able to create much of a surplus to support others who do not have as favorable conditions. I live in Colorado and I doubt that we could have the same productivity as Cuba through organic farming. Currently, Colorado farmers, even with conventional means, feed a very small part of the population.

I am a vegan, eat all organic, and have an organic garden but that personal choice doesn't mean I necessarily think that is viable for the whole world.

Given continuing climate change, desertification, and the increased requirements for energy for pumping, I don't see how any agricultural system can sustain the current or projected populations.

I am not actually arguing for sustaining current populations, but am pointing out that the ability to produce food need not be a limiting factor. We can feed this many, and even more, easily, but i am not at all sure we can sustain them.

We also have a finite availability of potassium.

Actually, we have huge amounts of potassium, it's just stuck in the soil. There are four immediate thoughts: if you have clay soils, you're probably fine. 2. if you don't , maybe amend with some if you can't get it any other way. 3. Don't let your plant residues leave your site - compost anything not eaten. This will reduce potassium loss to only what gets eaten. 4. Apply animal wastes. Any healthy far4m/garden system actually needs animal inputs in the cycle, so you vegetarians might need to design your systems with neighbors to create closed loops so you can get your fertilizers, they get their meat and eggs and you all get feathers. Chicken manure is considered the best animal fertilizer, providing NPK in greater amounts than found in large animal manures. The point is, if you have a simple closed loop on your farm and are not starting with deficient K, you won't have a problem.

If you are starting with depleted soils, then it is still possible to enrich by including chickens and other animal wastes in your process, use wood ash as has long been done - or other plant residue. in fact, having plants on your site that are expressly for chop and drop mulching is important.

We would likely not have any shortages if all farming was done this way since 90% of K goes for farming.

Having said that, I welcome any information you have that would demonstrate that I am wrong. Not that I don't think we shouldn't reduce the population regardless. If dieoff won't occur given current projected population, what level of population is unsustainable and when.

I didn't say die off won't occur - we are talking about an immensely complex system - just that it need not occur because of food production limits. In terms of land, there is plenty. At present, there is about .5 acres per person for food production, but that does not include home gardens and such, so the number is actually much, much larger. Also, 30% of cropland has been screwed up. The good news, that is simply, perhaps not easily, renewed using proper use of plants and succession to rebuild soils. While nature builds infinitesimal amounts of new soil a year, we can build many times faster. One-half acre is enough to feed several people, so you can see food really is not the problem, it's the choices we are making about food. We really can, when we consider food production in isolation, feed a goodly bit more people than currently exist on the planet.

That does not save us from all the other issues.

Would your methods sustain the population in West Texas which has only had 2 inches of rain since October? If so, I would find that fascinating and would love to hear what you would do given that situation.

This is a trick question: Yes/No/I don't know.

Yes: We do not do design for a crisis, we do design so there is no crisis. If the lands were being managed regeneratively prior to the crisis it's possible food production would still be intact because the first thing you do when you design is figure out how to maximize your water supply, particularly your rainfall. Using water capture (see brad lancaster), soil (high carbon content) and mulching (infiltrate what falls) it is possible to greatly reduce water consumption. Given annual rainfall is only 8 - 10', I'd say yes because of the many ways there are to keep the water that falls on and in your soils, or available through storage, mean you are keeping almost all of that 8' 10' while virtually all other farms and gardens would be retaining maybe the 2".

Brad Lancaster has a lush garden in his yard in Arizona, with 7" of rain, by maximizing water retention. This is not rocket science! Check his videos and, if interested, then check out his books. They are specifically for dry lands.

Greening the Desert

Bill Mollison

Brad Lancaster

As far as natural farming goes, I would like to hear more as Wikipedia did not give me a warm fuzzy on its potential for the world.

That's a book. First, natural, organic, regenerative are not interchangeable. Permaculture is a set of principles, these other terms are approaches, methods and techniques that one uses as tools in designing via permaculture principles. Second, every location is unique, so we cannot apply techniques and methods indiscriminately. E.g., a poster the other day mentioned slugs being a problem with mulch. i offered some suggestions. I have two more: snakes and pigs. But, if that problem cannot be overcome (doubtful), then mulching won't work (go to composting/biochar, etc.)

If Wikipedia gave a thumbs down, then the editors are idiots or they are over-generalizing. You can't use Fukuoka's rice/clover/barley/clover rotation in Pheonix.

Nutshell: Regenerative will mimic nature:

1. build soils from the top down
2. no till (but sometimes aerate directly, but try to do so with plant roots and healthy biota life; worms and such aerate naturally) to preserve soil food web
3. retain all nutrients, rain on site
4. close all loops (chicken poo > fertilzer > garden > you > poo > compost > garden > chicken > you...)
5. use perennials/food forest to create long-term security and efficiency
6. include animals
7. natural before manufactured
8. least change for max effect
9. copy and speed up natural succession
and on and on....

I did not broach this issue because I thought it might be good to have a cool down period from the whole debate about whether or not any form of agriculture is sustainable going forward.

Problem wasn't the topic. ;-)

I think that maintaining the soil by building humus would be useful vs destroying the ground with chemicals and it appears this does a better job of water retention. However, I don't know if that combined with other techniques is sufficient going forward.

That's just the beginning. Any technique or method you know of potentially can fit into a permaculture/regenerative regime, if applied only when appropriate and as guided by the ethics and principles of sustainable design. For example, why do w3e not till? Because the ground is sacred? No. We do not till because there is a complex web of life there that actually does grow the food we eat. We have almost nothing to do with the actual growth of the plants. When we disturb the soil we are essentially putting it through a 10+ earthquake. There are many knock-on effects, too.

keep it simple: improve your soil every year
keep all your water
maximize solar energy
use appropriate plants
use perennials to shift labor in time (never plant that spot again!)
use plants to support each other
keep all plant matter on your site 9recycle; Fukuoka estimated only 2.5% of nutrients are lost if the plant waste is returned to the soil, which makes it easy to replace with supplements from manures, chop and drop plants, nitrogen fixing plants, etc.)
rotate crops to reduce leaching and to return nutrients (legumes fix nitrogen, so plant beans after, before or with corn)

Blah, blah, blah... i can't teach you this in a post.

Cuba demonstrated that you can survive without significant oil inputs which is why they went organic. However, I don't know if Cuba is scalable for the world. They certainly were not able to create much of a surplus to support others who do not have as favorable conditions. I live in Colorado and I doubt that we could have the same productivity as Cuba through organic farming. Currently, Colorado farmers, even with conventional means, feed a very small part of the population.

It's not just food, it's the system. I'm sure Colorado can grow much more food, I'm sure season extension (greenhouses, hoop houses) and appropriate plant selection would help a lot, but we also have to recognize there really are limits to ecological services and some places can't support their current populations. We then have two choices: move the people or move the food. If the former, well, that's that. If the latter, then the trick is how to create a regional or national closed loop to get food to Colorado in exchange for....?

I am a vegan, eat all organic, and have an organic garden but that personal choice doesn't mean I necessarily think that is viable for the whole world.

It's the most viable in terms of providing enough food because it would end a lot of animalgrowing and feed growing. But, I don't believe it to be healthy overall. It's interesting that human systems always included animals and plants. The vegetarian ethos is not does not come naturally from the ecology for humans, and to create balanced regenerative systems we need animal inputs.

Still, we eat more eat than we need to, and the meat we do eat is unhealthy. The kinds of systemic changes one might make in a regenerative system would balance this much better and use animals and plants in a closed loop, symbiotic system. And do.

Just a comment on being a Vegan. All I can say is that I have been a Vegan for ten years, have run two marathons, run from 6 to 8 miles every other day and regularly bicycle and hike. I am 64 years old. I get regular check ups and blood tests and all values are within the normal range. I am as healthy as I have ever been and am certainly more healthy than when I ate meat. Of course, there could be other factors as I eat more healthily in general. There are lots of other benefits to being vegan/vegetarianism but I don't wish to proselytize.

As far as animal inputs to the agricultural system, you may have a point. Although, maybe humanure could be substituted for animal manure. I would probably experiment in that area but there is no way my wife is going to go for that.

Anyway, thanks for the very detailed response. It probably provides a pretty good basis for a debate if people want to go that way. I am always interested in gardening and agriculture within the context of using less fossil fuels. I am also interested in a more balanced food system that doesn't subsidize things like corn, soybeans, and factory farms versus fruits and other vegetables.

Just one issue that I want to bring up now. How do commercial farmers keep all plant matter on their site if they are exporting their food around the country? Or do you propose that most people growth their own food on site? I can imagine partial approaches to this problem but was interested in what you thought.

Back in 1971, at the start of the environmental movement, the book Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe appeared. In it, the author showed that one could live well by combining various plant sources for food, but that there was a need to understand the proper balance of sources to meet the protein requirements of the human body. Eating meat is the easy way to provide the mix of proteins, but there's no reason to assume that meat is necessary for health. And, the author also showed that eating vegan uses much less crop area per person than eating meat. Chicken was shown to be the most productive source of protein per unit land area, as I recall, but that amount was still greater than a strict vegan diet. That our modern lifestyles tend to place high value on meat consumption is just another aspect of BAU which will change as it becomes ever more difficult to provide the resources needed for survival...

E. Swanson

FML is still at it. I spoke to her daughter the other day.

They still think diet is important, but also recognize that power systems skew the distribution of available food as much (or really much more) than individual food choices.

I am not against veganism, but would not choose it for myself. You could always feed the chicken meat to some or other animal, or trade it for other stuff, etc., so your loop doesn't need to be closed solely on your land - and self-reliance is the key, not self-sufficiency, which is impossible, anyway. Vegan away, if that's what you feel is best, but do understand the need for animal inputs to transform some mass in the environment into elements we need for growing food. if those animals are just left to die, that is waste. A sustainable system will minimize waste down to almost nothing. That output needs to be an input somewhere.

I've not done an analysis, but the issue of balancing makes it logically obvious that both the animal and human manure are needed to truly close a loop on your own site in terms of food. The humanure is an output from the system. The principle is for every output to be matched to an input, and vice-versa. Additionally, every element should have multiple inputs, and every element should have multiple functions. You can see how this becomes a web of connections very quickly. If the humanure is not being used as an input, it is a leak in the system that then must be replaced by other means, meaning more inputs into your system.

In terms of plant waste, all that should leave the garden are those parts eaten. All else should return to the garden as mulch or compost, and, as discussed above, that eaten should return as manure.

Regarding farmers, there are limits of size to sustainable farming for very simple reasons, mostly having to do with not using fossil fuels, thus limiting large machines until all is electric/other. But even then, in a resource constrained world, how many large tractors can we keep making and for how long? it makes much more sense to recognize that societal structure, not just energy and production systems, doesn't work. Dunbar's Number and the structure and size of aboriginal communities gives us some hints, as does our organization of cities via neighborhoods: we need to be living in smaller sub-groups. It's not an ideological, but logical observation that Big Ag needs to disappear partly so we have reason to build and rebuild smaller communities. of course, the fact Big Ag is mono-culture (unsustainable) and requires those big machines (unsustainable) and chemicals to control pests and feed the plants just makes it more obvious. Everything looking forward says a "Nation of Farmers", not quite literally, is the future, and must be.

That's a long-winded way to say farms need to get smaller, though some relatively large farms will likely always exist. The plant residue issue is no different for them, though: what is eaten will leave the site, but residues need not. If they do, that energy can come back in the form of purchased organic fertilizers, energy or other goods. it is important that all loops close, but many of those loops may not come back directly to you. You send out food, you get back a pair of jeans. Somewhere in between, lots of other stuff happens.

I think every household that can should grow food. The health benefits of fresh food alone make this a no-brainer. Schools can also serve this function, the garden being an excellent classroom. At the least, localized production as much as possible is obvious. There are too many people on the planet to not have specialization, but with increasing simplicity will come decreasing specialization.

Thanks for the thread. i truly believe any and every possible future must involve sustainable food production for a myriad of reasons, energy the most obvious for this site, and a heck of a lot of energy can be conserved via regenerative food production. Imagine after five years not having to re-plant or till 80% of your farm, needing no outside water inputs, no outside fertilizers, pesticides or biocides of any kind.


Thanks for that incredibly thoughtful post.

Just one point for now. You said: 'You send out food, you get back a pair of jeans."

I would add--you send out food, you get back sh!t (or perhaps composted humanure).

The earth doesn't particularly care if you farm in jeans or in your all in all.

But it does depend on minerals taken out of the land being returned to the land.

Ultimately, that would mean burying people closer to the source of their sustenance, too.

Of course, slow processes like weathering, blowing dust, flooding...can bring minerals back to the soil. But unless you live along the Nile or similar spots, those are not processes you can depend on for very long.

You're welcome, but you are being too kind. Just talking.

Close the loops... some will be very small loops, some might be quite large, so long as they are closed, it's all good. Nitrogen will NEVER be a problem: plant some beans, clover, a nitrogen fixing tree... easy as pie. i think we've shown k isn't really a problem, either. it is only where the farm is already dependent on outside K because of mismanagement, but there are trees excellent for coppicing or pollarding that will grow feet a year and give you more than enough K to restore your soils. P?

RE: Organic sources for phosphorus

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Posted by gardengal48 PNW zone 8 (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 16, 09 at 19:36

Bone meal and rock phosphate are typical sources. If you can find them, fish bone meal and soy husks are other good sources. And then there is compost :-) Composted yard waste and manures generally provide all the phosphorus normally required by most plants in most soils and if applied in excess, can create an oversupply.

Some food sources have pretty high levels of phosphorus naturally - banana peels, crab shells, shrimp peelings, most grains and nuts - and these should all be added to compost when available. Meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products are also phosphorus-rich, but you'd want to avoid adding those to your compost.


Really, these are not really issues. These are false issues arising out of the abuse of FF inputs. This guy walks into the doctor and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do this. The doctor says... "

And we've barely mentioned vermiculture and aquaculture not at all!

"human systems always included animals and plants"

Except for most monastic traditions for hundreds, even thousands, of years, east and west (at least to the extent that "including" them means including them in the menu).

The main thing most people miss is that for most cultures, meat has been little more than a flavoring agent. The idea that an average meal should center around a big chunk of meat for anyone but the wealthy is pretty much limited to Eskimos and a few recent affluent Western countries. But it is spreading dangerously around the world.

Pure vegetarianism or veganism is, to me, beside the point. Most of us can't eat mostly meat most of the time and all survive on the planet. Most of us could survive right now on a mostly vegan diet if food (or people) were distributed differently.

In the not so long term, it would be a good idea to turn most of the prairies and other original grass lands back to perennial native grasses that do an excellent job of sequestering carbon (90+% of their mass is in their roots) without fancy geoengineering schemes that are likely to backfire in all sorts of awful ways. At that point, or even at the point that such a thing seriously ramps up, it could be arguable that the most ecological diet would include a portion of grass-fed buffalo meat. Even now, really, I have no problem with someone who is getting most of their meat from grass fed sources.

But right now only a relatively few people can depend on purely grass fed meat.

It depends how far back you go. There are legitimate arguments that in terms of evolution, our bodies are still best optimized to eat large amounts of meat occasionally (gobble up that antelope, don't know when we'll have another!) and forage otherwise, meaning quickly oscillating periods of plenty and being hungry.

I've no dog in this hunt. I do know we cannot feed 9 - 12 billion without animal inputs, but that we can grow enough animals with sustainable practices and that we don't need to eat a lot of meat. A meal or two a week is probably more than adequate, and no particular reason that need be beef. We manufactured cows, after all.

Hundreds of years of monastic history (at least) show that it is possible to live with no (or very little) meat. Benedictines saw meat essentially as a medicine. If a monk was sick with an illness that experience had told people some meat eating might help with, they were allowed to eat it. I think this is an appropriate attitude toward meat eating.

As guys, and as a guy-oriented culture (aka patriarchy), we tend to want to lionize the role of "MAN THE HUNTER" in the sustenance of hunter-gatherer societies. But really it was the gatherers that provided most of the calories.

As you say, the occasional antelope surely helped, especially some of those with special needs--the pregnant, the sick, the elderly...

It sounds like we are mostly in agreement. My beef (so to speak) is with those who can't imagine a life with anything less than a steak, burger, sausage, or chicken breast at the center of every imaginable meal.

This is not what most of us have in our future, so we might as well get used to it.

I will agree with you a further step: I am certain each person's biology is different, and it's established fact that various societies are adapted to their specific diet and get sick on other societies' diets. The obvious logic is that some people should be vegan, some should be vegetarian, some should be omnivores and some should be on that caveman diet.

We're a long way from determining such things via medical testing, but I am certain it is true.

Can't we all just eat along?

Actually, we have huge amounts of potassium, it's just stuck in the soil. There are four immediate thoughts: (1-4 deleted)

Huh, and here my 1st though is - feed the fungi in the roots.

The fungi that gets sugars from the plant roots give off acid that makes the P bio-available to the plant. Apply P in excess and the fungi are kicked out by the plant. Downside is the plants root system does not have the fungi extending its water gathering, so one must water more.

Look toward adding a light sugar water to the soil to add Carbon, Hydrogen and feed bacteria/fungi who bloom and then starve to death thus making Ammonia via protein breakdown to the plant.

One might wish to start playing with these ideas now, when developing methods of growing are not life and death.

Glad to see someone who knows the soil food web! Few people understand the very important role of fungi in the soil and how disruptive it is to plow them as they are trying to move nutrients around your garden for you.

Better to do as you suggest with a compost tea, fungally tilted. If avoiding buying anything, manure, worm castings, some decaying fruit, a little fungus in water, bubble it for two days, pour/spray on your garden.

Another problem already solved.




Lots of ways to make compost tea, and different kinds of compost teas - basically fungally-tipped or microbial-tipped. They can be aerated or not, use stuff from only your site (best, for indigenous microbes) or buy materials. I make my own compost and have a worm bin, so start with that. You can drench or use as foliar spray. You can make a liquid fertilizer by brewing comfrey and nettles, e.g., without the compost and sugars.

We have zero need of FF chemicals.

Radical changes in diet could, perhaps, sustain our current population indefinitely. If the alternative is starving, people can do that.


Eating lower on the food chain could potentially, and probably will, help a lot. The problem is that in cases where those who are starving are far-removed from those eating high on the hog, there is little personal vestment in reducing consumption. Those with money would see the resulting low priced food and choose beef because they can, while somewhere else someone would start without rice. Add in Ethanol and the picture is worse still -- I'll drive my car to work using calories you would like to feed to your kids.

It won't be a hateful thing, just an opaque system. A complex global economy with an entropic income distribution makes it easy for the "haves" to be insulated from the "have nots" by the economy itself. Of course, without a "small world" global economy, you might not even know about famines on the other side of the world until it was too late anyway, or be powerless to do anything about it.

Some people will try hard to address famine, but if there isn't enough money at home most will figure it's not their job, or their gov'ts job. Besides, "nobody could have foreseen" and "an unprecedented and unexpected event" will still be good scapegoats then, too.

As I keep repeating, we are not just talking about food. An across the board reboot happens, or we fail. In that sense, I agree with those who say collapse is inevitable. It is if we do not simplify and power down, as well as restructure our economies, social systems... everything. Talking about sustainable food in an unsustainable larger system is like talking about a car that has a fabulous engine but nothing else works. Pointless.

The thing that makes me uncomfortable with people like Todd and others who see collapse as inevitable is that they are already standing around the car talking about the engine.

It is probably necessary to be a little more precise about what constitutes collapse. Some might see the possible future situation you describe as a form of collapse. I agree we need a reboot and a complete overhaul of the way we lead our lives and the structure of the cities, towns, gardens, and farms we live in or near. However, I see that kind of basic cultural shift in values and reality perception as a bridge too far. Some will make the transition but may be defeated by what is going on elsewhere. Climate change may be so overwhelming that no system can survive very many places on that future planetary condition. I know I would not want to live on this planet given some of the worst case scenarios. And, of course I won't because I am too old.

That does not really detract from what you are doing and dreaming, but this whole thing reminds me of a cartoon where a scientist is trying to describe the solution to a problem with a very long complex set of mathematical equations. At the end of the equation are the words, "and then a miracle occurs". That may not be an entirely accurate recollection but I think that is the gist of it.

I don't disagree. The point is we can save ourselves and there is no point in giving up until we have passed that point of no return. And, yes, Tainter would agree that simplification is a form of collapse, but is managed collapse, which is a far cry from uncontrolled collapse.

What I am saying is we know all we need to know to reverse climate change and feed even more people than we have now, so it is a matter of choice. If we fail, it will be because we chose to. Giving up is causing the failure.

For me, when the clathrates and permafrost kick into high gear melt, that will be the time to head for the hills and build an earth sheltered house and semi-underground greenhouse. A real big one. Maybe a gun or two.

I've been thinking about this a lot and agree with you pri-de that we should continue to hope for a "managed collapse" despite the severity and urgency of the predicament, and the fact that those in positions of power seem completely unable or unwilling to countenance the scale of change required.

As a member of the transition movement I've seen the connect between peak oil and climate change (in terms of both problems leading to a similar set of social/economic transformations).

With a particular focus on economics, I've arrived at the conclusion that PO + CC + all the other crises converging on us at this crossroads in history means the end of economic growth (a la Heinberg) and with it the death knell for capitalism - based as it is on banks lending at interest. So while politicians and business leaders seem willing to pay lipservice to renewable energy and all the rest, the great impasse remains that they cannot say goodbye to the financial system which has endured throughout the industrial revolution. This seems to me to be the vital step towards "managing collapse" - the personal investment and blind faith of business-as-usual is just too great for most of the decision-makers to comprehend that the industrial era has ended. I'll continue to work towards communicating the rationale behind my beliefs in the hope that the reason and enlightenment of homo sapiens will conquer establishment hubris.

Radical changes in diet could, perhaps, sustain our current population indefinitely. If the alternative is starving, people can do that.

Indefinitely? You mean like 100 years or more from now when there are no fossil fuels being extracted whatsoever? All we would need to do is just adjust our diet.


The seriousness of the problem does not end here, but stretches into the vital question of the extent of undernourishment. An FAO report has recently described almost half of the Third World population as victims of malnutrition. The vast majority of the undernourished live in Asia: over a third of India's population consume less than 75% of the calories they need.

One in every three children in sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and 4% are on the verge of starvation. In Latin America, 30% of the children are undernourished, mainly in north-eastern Brazil, the Andean highlands, parts of Central America and the Caribbean, with Haiti suffering the world's worst rate of undernourishment - 7%.

Well now, those folks, almost half the third world population, who are undernourished today will just have to tighten their belts and make do with a lot less. If they could just learn to live on about 200 calories per day everything would be fine. But they would have a lot of competition for what few calories could be produced, especially those kids in Brazil.

The 20 million people in Sao Paulo and those 12 million in Rio de Janeiro are going to be marching into the jungle looking for food. No doubt there would be a lot of slashing and burning going on. And there are animals in the Jungle to eat also. They would last perhaps a year before they are all gone. But look on the bright side, with all the animals extinct there would be much more foliage for humans to eat.

Ron P.

And remember those under-nurished africans still import most of their food. When (not if) global food export marketcollapses, they are even shorter than now on food. And add some climate change to that.

Why do you guys continue with this straw man? obviously any wholesale change to the food system is part of a wholesale change to the entire system. The changes fail otherwise, so this constant drumbeat that we can't feed that many in this system that way is a moot point, and obvious. How many times does this point have to be stated?

obviously any wholesale change to the food system is part of a wholesale change to the entire system.

Pri-de, I promised myself that I would not respond to any of your rants today, but this one just takes the cake. The fact that almost half the people in underdeveloped nations is malnourished is not a straw man. They are hungry today.

But you propose that as fossil fuel declines that food production will not decline and in fact we will be able to feed the entire world. All that must happen is that the world undergo wholesale changes in the way we produce food. And you know it can be done because someone did it in Pasadena.

All you have to do is change the entire world. You remind me of Don Quixote tilting at windmills in his tin hat. But Don Quixote rode a real jackass, you have nothing but a straw horse to ride.

Ron P.

But you propose that as fossil fuel declines that food production will not decline and in fact we will be able to feed the entire world.

No, Ron, this is you intentionally causing conflict. I have never stated the above.

All that must happen is that the world undergo wholesale changes in the way we produce food.

Partially true, but more accurate is to say we need to return to old ways which are enhanced with new information and technology.

And you know it can be done because someone did it in Pasadena.

Right, that's what I said. However, do you not believe in real world application of techniques and methods, proof of concept? Please. Get a grip. I believe because I am doing it, and millions of others are doing it.

All you have to do is change the entire world.

Correct. And the same can be said of every other human being who has not given up. We have to, absolutely no choice, change the world. Why that makes you so angry, I have no idea.

Why that makes you so angry, I have no idea.

Make es me angry? Hell no, this is the most fun I have had in months. It is not everyday one comes upon a person who thinks they can change the whole world. Well, not exactly, I grew up in the Evangelical South and I knew many people who thought that it was their job to change the entire world. Of course I knew better and just saw these evangelicals as pitiful people who really believed that they could change the entire world. But this is the first time I have ever heard of someone outside religious nut cases who really believed they could change the entire world.

But power to you Pri-de. Stand up on your soap box and preach. I can only watch with a great deal of amusement... and even more pity.

Because... a person that really believes he can change the world is far more sad than amusing. I mean it is really sad to witness a person with such visions of grandeur.

Ron P.

I also think I stand a chance of changing the world, and I work with someone that has.


The odds are long, the work difficult, but I believe that some positive change can be affected.

Best Hopes for Those that Try,


Ron won't admit it, but he has also helped change the world.

By being a consistent and informed contributor here, he has helped in his way get the concept of peak oil into the MSM. That is something that most of us could not have imagined even a few years ago.

So thanks for being such a zealot and for changing the world, Ron.

I mean it is really sad to witness a person with such visions of grandeur.

And here I thought it was sadder to see a blow hard troll.

I see you lot are still picking on Pri-de and his theoretical limits to all things.

Unfortunately Pri, you are right in theory, but they are more likely to be right in practice. I would like to side with you, but I know far too much about the tragedy of the commons.

That being said, i'd rather be someone who thinks they can change the world, than someone who thinks they can't change anything.

But power to you Pri-de. Stand up on your soap box and preach. I can only watch with a great deal of amusement... and even more pity.

Save your pity for yourself. Your problems with what I post have nothing to do with me or what I post. You have consistently mangled what I have said and added your own salt to it all. We are not communicating, Ron. You aren't even making an attempt to do so.

pri-de: And sadly enough even if one could magically change the food production system overnight it still might not help many tens of millions. I've previously mentioned a lovely little hell hole on the west coast of Africa - Equatorial Guinea. Technically speaking, thanks to their oil exports, this is one of the richest nations per capita on the planet...not just in Africa. Yet much of the population lives at a near starvation level thanks to their far from benevolent dictator. When I was working there I saw the walking skeletons on the street.

There's how we would like "systems" to work. And, sadly, there's how they do work.

Nobody is arguing that. We are talking about what is possible, not probable. Your post essentially says, "Oh, well!" What's the point of that when reversing course is still possible?

We are talking about what is possible, not probable.

But possible, taking into account human nature, becomes rather theoretical now.

What's the point of that when reversing course is still possible?

It had to be started for example after the warning speech of Jimmy Carter in 1977. Anyhow, many decades ago.

The WHO sees a threat from another direction:


This could make the climate and fossil fuel problems less urgent.

The WHO sees a threat from another direction:

Here on TOD - the lens we see through is energy restriction.

The WHO cares about 'health' and that has 'em looking to superbugs.

And a superbug does help with the equation:

Total Energy = number of people X rate of energy used per person.

If you are looking to have keep the energy rate per person stav the same or increase (and keep the equation balanced) you need to either raise the total energy or cut the people

Here on TOD - the lens we see through is energy restriction.

On TOD I read also other threats.

The WHO cares about 'health' and that has 'em looking to superbugs.

'Health' and 'energy restriction' are somewhat connected

And a superbug does help with the equation:

Total Energy = number of people X rate of energy used per person.

That was on my mind. A deadly superbug could easily kill a few billions. I think that is more likely to happen within the next let's say 20 years than a dieoff because of mass starvation.

The weather finally co-operated so Wharf Rat and I could have one of our every other week discussion lunches. I brought up something that has been roaming around in the back of my mind for a while: When there is no real future, i.e., over population, declining resources, climate change, etc., is humanitarian aid a net negative. In other words, should people be left to cope with their own reality?

I recognize that there are many "moral" implications but we know that many undeveloped/primitive societies/tribes practiced infanticide to keep population balanced with resources. Is this really any different?

Don't expect a response from me; I'm just posing the issue.


MonteQuest had a long thread on the issue of whether our multiple predicaments change the nature of morality over on Peak Oil Forums a couple years ago iirc (he thought it did).

The discussion obviously gets...touchy.

But really, I think it is right in front of us with Yemen and probably a lot of other places.n
Yemen has grown its population many times over with oil money. Now the oil is running out and the money that they used to feed and grow the population along with it.


So 25 million Yemeni are rather suddenly without food or oil or for that matter potable water.

What should the world do?

Send money? Send food? Allow them to emigrate to somewhere that has more food (for now)? Help them develop a value added manufacturing economy?

Saudi Arabia just sent them three million gallons of oil. The US just sent in drones.

Perhaps that is going to be the realpolitique answer--appease them for a while so they stay in place while the US military sends in its spy planes and weapons to search and kill.

Did someone say something about morality?

How is MonteQuest these days?

If there is no real future, it is irrelevant. It's no different than extending a cancer patient's life a few days with drugs that destroy quality of life.

When there is no real future, i.e., over population, declining resources, climate change, etc., is humanitarian aid a net negative. In other words, should people be left to cope with their own reality?

Along the same line of thought I had a discussion with a Brazilian doctor about whether or not it would be a wise thing to eradicate mosquitoes that are vectors for diseases such as malaria. No, we didn't agree on whether or not it was a good thing. I argued that they were a natural way of keeping humans from expanding into otherwise inhospitable habitat. Thereby reducing population growth.

He on the other hand didn't see it that way... I think he is a good man but he is very wrong as are most people who think like him.


Also, the equation

mosquitos + sickness = bad

is invalid. What about mosquitos = fish food?

Unintended consequences.

mosquitos + sickness = bad / is invalid. What about mosquitos = fish food?

It's great for the fish, but doesn't help the people if they all die of malaria.

People don't realize it, but at one time malaria was endemic here in Canada. When they built the Rideau Canal near Ottawa, about 500 of the workers died from malaria. However, controlling malaria is mostly a matter of controlling mosquitoes, and in developed countries we now have the technology to do that.

The best method for controlling human population is birth control. That is working well in developed countries, too.

The Green Revolution happened in steps. The first step was mechanization. That alowed one farmer with a tractor to do what used to need 20 farm hands before. That made those hands unemployed, so they moved into town and started to work in factories. This led to the second step of industrial boom wich eventually produced chemicals, irrigation and fertilizers, the second wave of the Green Revolution.

"they moved into town and started to work in factories"

Indeed, it freed up labor so that companies could offshore jobs to these countries.

Result--corporate profits go up.

Then the on going green revolutions could supply food for an ever burgeoning cheap labor force.

Result--corporate profits go up.

Even though in most other areas smart people ask the question qui bono? "who profits?" to help determine what at least some of the underlying motivation for a major change could be, oddly, few ask this question when it comes to population growth.

Saudi oil capacity depleted: Goldman

Saudi newspaper al-Hayat reported Saudi Arabia would boost output to 10 million bpd in July, which Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs said would leave only 500,000 bpd spare.

JP Morgan said in a report today that they expect only a 200,000 bpd increase from KSA in the third quarter. On Friday, I said to expect a 200,000 bpd increase and not a 1 million bpd increase in July.

Note that if there is going to be additional oil, shippers have only made plans to handle a fraction of that total so far. Granted there are two more weeks for the oil and tankers to get into position to export that oil, but it already seems highly unlikely July will start off with a bang.

Also note that some Saudis sources do not confirm the al-Hayat story.

As noted up the thread, in the following link, the latest BP data show that Saudi net oil exports declined in 2010, versus 2009:


Note that Saudi net oil exports have now shown year over year declines for four of the past five years, versus year over year increases in annual oil prices for four of the past five years. Here are the most recent Saudi net export data (BP):

2005: 9.1 mbpd
2006: 8.8
2007: 8.3
2008: 8.5
2009: 7.3
2010: 7.2

And of course, in the context of KSA production, if they added all .9mbd today, 2011 is 8.1mbd, and below peak.


Yeah, I didn't think they were actually going to do 10 mbpd. I did wonder whether they could fake the increase by dipping into their inventory for a month, but I guess it's just a fake story by the Saudi paper.

Riots in southern China

...Though protests have become relatively common over anything from corruption to abuse of power, the ruling Communist Party is sensitive to any possible threat to its hold on power in the wake of the protests that have swept the Arab world.

Guangdong is also a pillar of China's export industries, and persistent unrest there could unnerve buyers and investors

Also from BBC: China migrant workers clash with police for third night

About 1,000 protesters set fire to cars and damaged government buildings on Sunday night near the city in China's manufacturing heartland, reports said. Police reportedly fired tear gas and deployed armoured vehicles

Just a matter of time for China to find that their promise of water, food, and the American lifestyle is all a bunch of lies, considering their massive overpopulation problem. Times are tough. Are they going to be able to control the masses any longer?

Government 'may have hacked IMF'

Hackers who broke into the International Monetary Fund's computer system may have been backed by a nation state, according to security experts.

They point to the sophisticated nature of the attack and the resources needed to develop it.

Well Duh.

Nation States have been attacking each others "money" for years. Of course one of the Nation States out there would want to seek an advantage of insider information.

"Attacks" on the Pound Stirling over the years would be an example. The conversions done of Eastern block Soviet States into "hard currency" - with the most "interesting" tale told being around a guy named Wanta.

And even if there was no Nation States involved, there are parties to be vilified and given past actions by past parties - charges of this or that will have credibility with many decision makers.

They point to the sophisticated nature of the attack and the resources needed to develop it.

Highly talented software developers are able to produce far more sophisticated and voluminous code than developers of average talent.

Assertions like these remind one of assertions that Shakespeare's sonnets and plays must really have been written by someone else.

Hackers claim breach of US Senate website

WASHINGTON — A shadowy group of hackers behind a string of recent cyberattacks claimed on Monday to have stolen internal data from the US Senate website

"This is a small, just-for-kicks release of some internal data from Senate.gov -- is this an act of war, gentlemen?" Lulz Security said in a statement

The incredible shrinking shopping baskets

... "Consumers only have a certain amount of money in their pockets and are paying more for fuel and other items, so I'm sure they would rather this than the price going up."

... "We don't buy rationally," ... "We're more likely to think about how much something costs than about what we're getting for our money.

Missouri River levee fails near Iowa-Mo. border

Army Corps of Engineers projections show that in a worst-case scenario, the volume of water released upstream during a levee break could leave 8 feet to 10 feet of standing water in the southern part of Hamburg. The area includes manufacturing and agricultural businesses. Water could reach the fire station and city hall, but it likely wouldn't reach the northern part of town where most residents live

If you can get past the false choice...

The Energy Debate: Coal vs. Nuclear

As America struggles down the road toward a coherent energy policy that focuses on a higher degree of self-reliance, policymakers face numerous issues and realities. These include: the finite supply and environmental impact of fossil fuels, the feasibility and costs to implement a widespread switch to renewable energy sources, and the variables that lead to consumers’ preferences for particular types of power generation.

...About 30 percent of respondents favored increased reliance on nuclear energy, despite admitting the possibility of a serious accident. About 10 percent favored greater reliance on coal, while acknowledging the fossil fuel’s role in global warming. The strongest correlates of the two groups were socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity. The acknowledged nuclear risk-taker group was affluent, educated white males, and the coal group was relatively poor, less educated African-American and Latino females. The three consistent factors across both groups were older age, trust in those who manage energy facilities and the belief that energy facilities help the local economy.

Just another routine article that makes the hidden assumption that we have no control over how much energy we use, and our only choice is which source we depend on. I call that the "Act of God Assumption". And this one comes from a State University, where people should know better.

The other fallacy that seems to be invoked in this article, is what I call the CNN Fallacy, which assumes that if you poll enough people (large enough sample size), you will magically get the “right” answer, even if none of the respondents know anything about the topic of the poll.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you've just described the fatal flaw of democracy with an uneducated electorate.

From GAO

DOE's Depleted Uranium Tails Could Be a Source of Revenue for the Government

Since the 1940s, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been processing natural uranium into enriched uranium, which has a higher concentration of the isotope uranium-235 that can be used in nuclear weapons or reactors.

This has resulted in over 700,000 metric tons of leftover depleted uranium, also known as “tails,” that have varying residual concentrations of uranium-235. The tails are stored at DOE’s uranium enrichment plants in Portsmouth, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky.

Although the tails have historically been considered a waste product, increases in uranium prices may give DOE options to use some of the tails in ways that could provide revenue to the government.

...The potential value of DOE’s depleted uranium tails is currently substantial, but changing market conditions could greatly affect the tails’ value over time. Based on May 2011 uranium prices and enrichment costs and assuming sufficient re-enrichment capacity is available, GAO estimates the value of DOE’s tails at $4.2 billion...

Goldman Sachs is ready to begin a new trade for Depleted Uranium. They will have a DU symbol. So all is well.

Ha, ha. "The clean and safe U."

You can't spell dumb without DU.

Joy! We can sell the depleted Uranium to weapons producers! Nirvana, at last!



The tailings from an old mine very often have value when a new process becomes available. A lot of old gold mine tailings were heap leached very profitably. Same with copper tailings.

Nothing new except the exact technology to be used. Actually there is a lot of energy in U-238, but you need a fast reactor to get it. Also old technology.


Read on about the Integral Fast Reactor too while you are at it.

Is it viable to fission DU using an accelerator? I suppose you want fast neutrons, like you'd get from a fusion reactor. H bombs have their yield seriously goosed by making the shell out of DU, which fissions from the fusion neutrons. An accelerator powered reactor wouldn't have many of the safety problems of a (sub) critical reactor. Of course if we got fusion going, we could goose the output severalfold by using the neutrons to burn DU.

S&P slashes Greece to lowest, says default likely

(Reuters) - Greece became the lowest-rated country in the world in the rankings of Standard & Poor's on Monday, putting it below Ecuador, Jamaica, Pakistan and Grenada.

Interesting that 3 of the 4 other nations on the poor list are in the Western hemisphere. The next time we lean on the Germans to bail out the rest of Europe, they should ask us what we are doing to bail out Ecuador, Jamaica, and Grenada.


Jobs council to Obama: Here's how to create one million jobs quickly

• Help construction workers pick up their tools again with a campaign to upgrade commercial and government buildings for energy efficiency. Obama also touted this so-called Better Buildings Initiative Monday while visiting Cree, a maker of energy-efficient lighting in Durham, after the jobs council meeting.

Wait until the Senate gets ahold of that idea. I hear senator X saying, "Efficiency. We mustn't jump too quickly. Those utility dividends need to be kept up for the stock holders."

I have a suggestion. Submit a bill to Congress that allows the President to declare National Infrastructure Priority Projects. Each project so designated would be exempt from complying with the NEPA (no EIS), and exempt from litigation from the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, any Federal Land needed for the project would be transferred to private ownership after 5 years of operation of the completed project.

Lastly, any environmental group suing to stop such a project would have all its members declared Enemy Combatants and sent to sunny Gitmo until it amuses the President to let them out.

That might actually do something, if you want "Build, baby, build."

I think it was a rude awakening for Obama as well as other politicians; whatever their other merits the environmental laws prevent quick construction projects. " At the request of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), in 2003 TransTech Management, Inc. surveyed 31 state departments of transportation about their most recent final EIS document (8). They found a median time taken from NOI to ROD of 3.7 years, ranging from just over two years to almost 12 years. "

http://dot.alaska.gov/stwddes/desenviron/assets/pdf/resources/nepareview... (page 4)

All the calls for WPA and CCC type programs during the recession run right into this wall. As did the "shovel-ready" projects. The projects thought up in early 2009 will be ready to start between now and 2013, and the last of them will be ready to start in 2021. And remember, by law, you are not to start construction until the permits are in hand.

If you did this, the Republicans would offer cheap-and-easy drilling and mining permits...

Edit: and build more roads for that matter..

Worth a read...

Hardly a childish question to ask

We live specifically in a nation that has lost its way, arguably never to get it back, and we live generally on a planet whose problems have never been so great as the critical mass we generated.

Those are the realities. We know what is going on. The rest is merely commentary.

Yet do we, even the most informed among us, truly use the information that we take in or do we compartmentalize it as a reality but go on living our lives as if reality does not exist?

One of the most important questions in life and arguably the one that we need to show the most responsibility towards is “Do I want to have children?”

Yet when that question is asked, how rarely (if ever) is the condition of nation and planet brought into the decision making?

Also The Perils of Ignoring Science

Quite frankly, children being born about now and a little earlier are in for a nasty, brutish, and possibly very short life. I would not choose to bring children into this world.

Quite frankly, children being born about now and a little earlier are in for a nasty, brutish, and possibly very short life.

I was in the doctors waiting room a couple months ago and this very young (22 years) pregnant woman was there with her other three kids, so a total of 4 soon enough, and who knows how many more later. Maybe they'll set a record. The eldest I estimated would have been born circa 2005, the beginning of the oil production plateau. Now that's darn bad timing unless they have a cave full of gold krugerands and huge caches of canned food. It's amazing how ignorance can insulate people into whatever illusion they hold. For her it might as well have been 1958.

The nurse said with surprise and concern as she noticed her advanced pregnant state as well as the other kids, "Oh, another one?" The answer was said with great pride, "Yep!"

I cannot imagine the sheer terror and bewilderment that will resonate with her and her husband as the fabric of society, will at some point in the not too distant future, unwind into chaos. It's one thing to have to try and find a way through the coming bottleneck or succumb to undue pressures with another adult, a spouse, a friend, whatever, but to have numerous kids coming unglued - oh my, that's a freak show I'll miss thanks.

At the Republican debate last night, there was sort of a competition on who had the most children and grand children. It started off with Santorum who said he had 7 children. That's when I changed the channel.

Now that's darn bad timing unless they have a cave full of gold krugerands and huge caches of canned food.

How would that help them out?

Its hard to feel sorry for the poor when you see them at the mall with four kids and another one in the oven isn't it?

Yes, indeed it is!

This is why I get sick and tired of everybody trying to save the world.

These are the people you are trying to save: those who breed like rabbits and would be happy for their kids to outcompete your kids in the marketplace due to sheer numbers alone.

Good riddance!

The world needs condoms and birth control pills, not fertilizer.

Of course, try convincing the religious nutcases, of either the Christian or Muslim variety, of this imperative, and see how far you get.

Things are have gone too far, and it's too late for idealism regarding the human race.

OK, OS, tell us about your family's history. If they are like nearly every other family's history in the US, there was at least one generation that had five or more kids. That probably happened in exactly the same economic/medical circumstances as most others that are now having five or more kids--access to health care had made it possible for more of the kids to survive to adulthood and improving economics made it seem possible that they would be able to thrive.

In other words, we are all rabbits, now. '-)

It is survival of the fittest. Those who have the most surviving young are the fittest.


That term can also mean that those who 'fit' best into their ecosystem survive.

No, it can't. The phrase is about individual differences. The characteristics of those individuals that produce relatively more young that themselves survive to produce viable young ... those characteristics will spread through the population.

The "fitness" of an individual is measured by reproductive success, as compared to other members of the same species. Ecosystems don't figure at all in the concept. (Some species survive best by trashing ecosystems. Think kudzu.)

It's truly amazing that such a simple and blind mechanism manages to produce anything at all, let alone the wonderfully dynamic and complex ecosystems that the world used to display.

It doesn't matter how many offspring you reproduce if they all end up dying, as they would do if their capabilities don't 'fit' their environment.

Yes, some 'fit' too well. That doesn't mean the ecosystem is irrelevant. Kudzu does not thrive in every environment.

Ah, I see we are trotting out the same old tired cliches.

Must it be repeated again that those on welfare in the US have no more children on average than the typical American?

I suppose some would like the poor to stop reproducing completely and thereby extinguish themselves.

Convenient as that may seem, that is not likely to happen any time soon.

Many, of course, would say the same about those consuming about 80% of the world's resources--the top fifth of the world's population, and yes, that almost surely includes you if you are reading this.

If we would kindly extinguish ourselves, there would likely be more than enough resources for the rest of the world to live quite nicely (if more modestly than our wildly profligate level).

Do you have references? This is what I find on the Population Reference Bureau site:

Fertility tends to decline as education level increases. Women may put off marriage and children to further their education, then to get established in the labor force.

Women age 40 to 44 with no high school education had about 2.5 children in 2004, compared with 1.6 children among women with a graduate or professional degree.

Fertility by income follows a similar pattern.

Those with higher IQ have fewer kids too (couples with the education level above, probably). The difference above is not huge, obviously, but should anybody have children without a plan for paying for their rearing?

The first thing that came up was this essay


which sited these papers:

"Jill Duerr Berrick and Anne Marie Cammisa address these myths in their books "Faces of Poverty: Portraits of Women on Welfare" and "From Rhetoric to Reform," respectively. Berrick specifically addresses the two myths that women on welfare have many children and that they continue to have children so they can get additional money every month (Pg. 15). Cammisa also addresses the same myth. Both authors rebut this myth with statistics saying that the average woman on welfare in fact only has two children. (Berrick, Pg. 15 & Cammisa, Pg. 16) In fact, Berrick notes that only one child is found in the families of forty-two percent of recipients."

1. Cammisa, Anne Marie. From Rhetoric to Reform: Welfare Policy inAmerican Politics. Boulder, Colorado, 1998.

2. Duerr Berrick, Jill. _Faces of Poverty: Portraits of Women and Children on Welfare._ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Those with higher IQ have fewer kids too

That is the fundamentalplot for a comedy movie. I think it is titeled "Republic of idiots" or something. In the future allpeople are stupid because smart people get fewer kids. The president of the US is a "super porn star" who was elected on his fame. Then there is thig average guy from our time who ends up in a tme machine and is sent to that future, where he is the smartest person in the world. Great fun movie, watch it if you haven't.

But on a serious note, I do think about this. All the smartest people I know have fewer kids than the less smart ones. Are we depleting those genes? Is this realy a threat?

It's Idiocracy.

I had brought up "devolution" in a post the other day and it got removed.

Maybe dysgenics is a better term. I think it's possible. Not only are smart people having less children, we reward people in poverty to have many more children than they otherwise could afford. Our socio-economic system is not only broke it's going backwards running from from what nature intended.

Survival of the weakest!

Yet do we, even the most informed among us, truly use the information that we take in or do we compartmentalize it as a reality but go on living our lives as if reality does not exist?

I suppose it's a matter of available financial resources. If someone is in a position to get solar panels on their roof to avoid future blackouts, but still refuse to take action in spite of knowing peak oil, then that fits your question. However, if someone is thinking it sure would be nice to get solar but can't work the numbers, then that's a different matter.

Re: Global Deficit Between Oil Consumption and Production Remains the Norm

This RigZone article states that we've burned more oil than we've produced for the last 30 years, and that:

When the annual surpluses and shortages are added together, starting with 1965, the first year in BP's Statistical Review; the point where crude oil actually went into a deficit position (per BP's data) is around the same time oil prices really started to surge (i.e. 2004).

This statement seems to imply that we've burned billions more stored barrels over the last three decades than we have filled. And here I thought global storage volumes were increasing, or at least, this was the case regarding national storage volumes such as the SPR.

Can someone here confirm if this article is correct?

Taking the graph at face value and eyeballing it, then between 1965 and 1980, around 2 million b/d or 11 billion barrels total were produced and stored (with, incredibly, no effect from the first embargo.) That's around 1.75 cubic kilometers. I wonder where they put it - that much in tank farms should be plainly visible, and building that much in salt caverns seems like too big a project to hide. On the other hand, the numbers are dodgy, since there are no treaties requiring accurate reporting all across the globe, so maybe there's nothing there beyond likely inaccuracy or at most a bit of "massaging"?

"there are no treaties requiring accurate reporting"

That's one reason that trying to graph oil discovery and production is so dicey, imho. So many of the players have so many reasons to fudge the numbers in so many directions. In some cases, the fingerprints are pretty clear that manipulation of the figures has gone on. I suspect there are lots of other cases where people have been more careful.

Yeah, I wondered about this, too. I checked last year's report too and it also shows this disparity (i.e. it's not as if there is some kind of type here). And this doesn't seem to have been commented on so far.

There must be something I'm missing, because this would be huge news, wouldn't it?, especially coming from a big oil company?

Yes, I have funny feeling that there's something seriously wrong with these numbers. Either that or we're totally screwed.

I believe the author has made the error of confusing Production with Discovery. I make this claim because later in the article the author seems to switch from Production by using the word Discovery. Clearly, we have been using more oil than we find. Consuming that much more than we produce for that number of years is highly unlikely.

The author has used BP's data correctly for the graph, even if he may be confused by the terms.

BP's data clearly states that consumption outstripped production from 1982 onwards. And furthermore by 2010 that deficit was over 5mbpd.

So if you want to argue with anyone then you need to take it up with BP: http://www.bp.com/sectionbodycopy.do?categoryId=7500&contentId=7068481

Their report contains a caveat:

Differences between these world consumption figures and world production statistics are accounted for by stock changes, consumption of non-petroleum additives and substitute fuels, and unavoidable disparities in the definition, measurement or conversion of oil supply and demand data.

BP's data clearly states that consumption outstripped production from 1982 onwards.

That may be the key. As we all know we have been burning oil faster than we've discovered it since 1984, or there about. My guess is someone down the chain have confused reserve growth with production in writing this article.

No. Look at the BP statistical review. This has nothing to do with confusing reserve growth for production.

Backdate the discovery data curves. This is all reserve growth then.

The other thing is that the EIA published production 86,790 and consumption 85,294 for 2010. This is due to accounting of different kind of liquid oil. I suppose all sorts of these kinds of systematic errors can pop in.

Taking the difference between large numbers that have uncertainty results in even greater relative uncertainty. The jury may still be out.

The only difference, that I can see, with what BP is reporting here and the EIA or IEA figures is that biofuels is split off into a separate section, both consumption and production. So the Rig Zone article used numbers regarding oil of different sorts.

Yeah, I assume he confused the words 'discovery' and 'production' as well. It is clearly impossible to consume more oil than you product for 30 years! (Unless we had build a massive MASSIVE storage system . . . which we did not.)

Don't assume. Check the BP report yourself. Clearly there is no such confusion given the numbers. We aren't discovering 80-odd million barrels per day of new reserves. The article is merely reflecting the BP numbers for PRODUCTION and CONSUMPTION.

If so is the case we have drained stocks for 30 odd years. You need some big storage farms to draw from if so is the case. And I say they don't exist. Something is wrong here. If it is not discovery/production confusion, then what?

Remember it is saying that what has been reported for consumption and production don't balance. Not that actual production and consumption don't balance. The fact that the earlier surplus is cancelled out about 2004 and turns into a deficit is mentioned as a curiosity - not as a suggestion that all that oil really was stored and is being used now.

Bluntly my guess is currently world oil production is quite possibly reported considerably higher than it actually is as are consumption figures - China comes to mind as one example. You can hide the peak in the rear view mirror for a few more years if you massage the decline data into an "undulating plateau". It would seem to be in the interests of any major producer in involuntary decline (and not subject to IEA auditing) to attempt to hide this as long as possible - (example - is the recent claimed Chinese production increase real?) And Simmons presented a chart a couple of years ago suggesting that OPEC production was about 2mb/day less than they claimed at the time. Can't do much to hide a net export drop and can't hide the oil price rise though.

I am bent toward accepting your theory. And if this is correct, it adds weight to burden. When will the bubble pop?

So glad that somebody finally noticed it. There are three possibilities:

(a) There are fantastic storage facilities in the world that took up and then released the difference - extremely unlikely

(b) The 'oil' in 'Oil Production' and the 'oil' in 'Oil Consumption' is not the same thing - quite likely

(c) Both figures are so inaccurate that it does not make sense to evaluate the difference - also quite possible

pete -here's a shot from the hip...tell me if it makes sense. Once a bbl of oil leaves the field until it gets refined it's "in storage" somewhere. It's either being stored in a tanker, a pipeline, a rail car, a barge or a tank farm at some refinery. Right around 90 millions bopd are moving from fields into these "storage" systems. Obviously this storage is continually drained and refilled simultaneously. But at any one moment what is this stored volume? I don't have a number but just a guess. Let's say it's 10X daily production. That may sound like a lot but consider all the tankers and tank farms that exist around the world. I believe just little ole Cushing tank farms hold around 40 million bo. And that's almost half the global daily production in a quiet part of OK. So that's around 900 million bo in all this temporary storage. Of course it's not an absolute constant...just a working inventory. So what would a change of 4 million bo between input and out take represent? It would be 0.4% change. Would anyone consider that a shocking swing? I doubt it. But what would the cumulative effect mean over many years if it were consistent? I don't think it means a change in consumption vs. production. It represent a change in working volume. Let say over 5 years the working volume decreases by 20%. So now instead of having 900 million bo in temp storage there's 720 million bo. Still sounds like a lot but that's just an 8 day float. Maybe working storage is even bigger than I'm guessing. I've seen any number of reports regarding any commodity: the more volitile the market the greater the tendency to keep inventories low. Yes...buying low and selling high is always nice. But there's no certainty it won't go the other way. Reducing working inventory may reduce the chance of profit but it also lessens the risk of loss.

Again, just flinging this out to see if it sticks on the wall. Thoughts?

This doesn't seem like it explains it. I don't think the BP report covers stocks but we already see stocks rise and fall in other reports. The BP report just gives production numbers - number of barrels of oil produced - and consumption numbers - number of barrels of oil consumed. If it's off by 5 million barrels a day, that's over 1.5 billion barrels in a year. These temporary inventory stores would have been depleting by 5 million barrels per day. Perhaps that's not a lot compared with the total that they could potentially hold, if they are real, but they've been being drained for decades, if the BP figures are correct.

But, if the BP figures are correct, then the IEA and EIA estimates of production and consumption must be wrong.

But this has managed to go on without comment so there is something I'm missing but that is not obvious. Maybe it's buried even deeper than the footnotes mentioned above.

Notice that the EIA has differences between Consumption and Production as well

Consumption -- Total Petroleum Consumption

Production -- Total Oil Supply

Look at the figure below. In 2003 Consumption of all liquids was 1.6 million barrels per day bigger than Production.

This is due to differences in accounting of different kinds of liquids I believe.

Maybe it has to do with the densities of the refined products. If the density of the crude oil itself is relatively heavy compared to, say, gasoline and kerosine, then the crude takes up less volume for a given mass. When it is refined, the volume expands.

As the relatively "light" oils are depleted and more of the "heavy" oils are used, maybe this is why there is now such a difference in volumes.

What I don't know is how they treat refining losses, that is, the oil that is used up in refining.

Or perhaps part of the difference is refinery gains?


Take a look again at the EIA data for 2003.

Production output of Liquified Petroleum Gas is 3.8 Million barrels per day
Consumption of refined Liquified Petroleum Gas is 7.6 Million barrels per day

How the world can consume TWICE as much LPG as produce is beyond me, refinery gains or not.
Production and consumption can straddle years, etc. There is probably a way to make sense of this if you analyze the data as a whole and run consistency checks from year to year.

Yeah, but this is consistent, year on year. It's not just one year, it seems to be the norm and has been for a couple of decades.

Thanks for looking. I checked only the one year.

The whole accounting scheme is completely fouled up.

It probably doesn't even pay to follow the short term trends. That's why I tend to look at only the long term; after a while the trends will become obvious and these imbalances will shrink in relative importance.

S - Confusing for sure. For instance I don't know any individual who consumes any oil. They consume a lot of gasoline and other products. The only folks I know who "consume" much oil are refineries. So if the refiners had consumed 1.5 billion less in one year than it's safe to say they produced a lot less product. So that a begs the same question: has consumption of products fell proportionally during all this time? And if product consumption didn't decrease where did it all come from? And if consumtion did drop so much then where are those tens of billions of gallons of products being hidden? Or maybe they never existed in the first place because the oil used to produce them never existed. I think what you call "stocks" is what I call working volume. Eliminate that from the equation then we need to find all that secret storage holding those billions of bbls of oil for any of these reports to make sense IMHO. Or find the magic source for all those products that weren't produced from crude oil.

Or maybe the BP report is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Yet it seems to be used for "serious" analysis. Why would they go to so much trouble to compile it if it is not worth anything?

Regardless of end product, or working storage, if oil produced has been less than oil consumed, for decades, then why hasn't that rang serious alarm bells around the industry and the world? And are US stocks being built at the expense of almost everywhere else?

I hope someone produces an analysis of this "fact" and can clear up the confusion.

Both the EIA and the IEA attempt to balance consumption with production - not exactly and there's always a slight mismatch but they do, in general, balance. But I suspect they adjust countries up and down until they get a "good enough" match. I seem to recall the IEA points out somewhere that it's even less possible to balance world nat gas production/consumption and they've just given up completely on that.

The increasing use of biofuels and ngls may be a contributory factor to the BP imbalance as well. I can't remember exactly how they define "oil" for production and consumption purposes and haven't had a chance to scan the latest release yet.

I noticed this "balancing act" here:

For much of the data between 2005 and 2009, the JODI and EIA (besides lining up) have similar fine structure in their totals. This still happens even though many of the individual countries don't match, by quite a large margin! This normally can't happen by random chance, as countries that go + / - will leave lots of fluctuation noise in their wake. See the figure below for the part I am talking about.

This reminds me of the data fudging that I would often see on college physics lab homework. Maybe it is just laziness on the bureaucrats assigned to these projects. Jeez, I have a lot more pride in my data collection and analysis even though I do it as a hobby!

Biofuels production and consumption is reported separately. The oil figures include NGLs.

Well, it's got to be a big wall, a stupendously big wall, since as I said above, the graph indicates, on its face, that 11 billion barrels stuck to it between 1965 and 1980, which is an order of magnitude more than your 0.9 billion. Really, I'm guessing that the graph is of some residual, a combination of two or more large numbers that are dodgy to begin with. Given the lack of short-term noise, it probably tracks an accounting artifact, a combination of the numbers that behaves like a systematic error.

There is a second graph in the rigzone article that clearly shows we are faced with an innumerate author, or the rigzone editor entered some fatal bugs.

You may take the figures of production-consumption balance over the years, and you sort of estimate the resulting changes in storage. First you've got about 17 years of production surplus, let's estimate the average surplus as 2 mbd, over the 17 years, we get 17*365*2 = 12'400 million barrels = 12.4 billion barrels. This is the additional storage resulting after those 17 years, if the numbers are correct.

Now look at graph 2. From 1965 to 1980 or so, you can see the buildup of storage. The y label says million barrels per year, but actually it is billion barrels total (not per year). The maximum is 1980 (or 81), where it has to be because there the balance in Fig. 1 goes through zero. Th graphe simply assumes zero starting value in 1965. It goes through zero where the culuated surplus and shortage values since 1965 cancel out.

Possible conclusions:

1) The absolute figures are quite inaccurate, not better than +/- 2 mbd. This seems to follow from the incredible amount of stock buildup/withdrawal. Note that the first two oil price shocks (1974/79) are not reflected in the curve of storage buildup.

2) The way the figures are estimated may have changed somehow. If not, then one could expect some systematic error that should not change too much over the years. But this would mean the very large changes in storage buildup are real, which is hard to believe.

3) The balance between production and consumption seems to be tightening indeed. This is basically what the author wanted to demonstrate, not really surprising to peak oilers.

4) Never take a graph at face value. The errors in graph 2 are indeed quite remarkable.


We should try taking the numbers from EIA and see how those add up in comparison.
I will try to do that after work today.

EIA has consumption leading production in the 2000's
LPG consumption much bigger than LPG production making up most of the difference very consistently.

I bet they mixed up the accounting of LPG from oil fields vs LPG from natural gas fields, which exist in different categories. In production you can keep track of the two but not during consumption?

I thought the article was interesting because the Rigzone doesn't usually have peak oil reporting. So we have Bernanke, OPEC, and the Rigzone discussing oil supply constraints in the same week.

That graph reminds me somewhat of Memmel's suggestion. Memmel basically argued that reported worldwide production started to completely outpace reality reaching a peak above actual in the 70s (recall that suspicious looking approx 7% per annum increase in reported production through the 1950s to mid 70s). During the 80s Memmel argued that reported production dropped markedly (as we know) but in reality actual production didn't drop all that much but levelled off (ie Saudi Arabia and friends continued to pump more oil than they admitted to) and then began to increase again in the 90s. By the mid 90s reported oil production and actual production were more or less back in synch according to memmel. Then in the early 2000s reported production again began to exceed actual production with the gap widening as time went on.

So this production/comsumption discrepancy can be explained by OPEC cheating. BP simply reports the quota numbers instead of the actual production numbers.

On a scale such as that suggested above this could only have been done with the connivance of the Reagan administration especially. OPEC couldn't have claimed to cut back in the early 80s but not actually done so without it going somewhere. I suppose it would have been the ultimate in "supply side economics". Carter got the bad end of the deal because he was in power when OPEC were claiming to be pumping far more oil than they were actually doing. A situation memmel would argue again applies now.

Also there are suspicious (to me) jumps in US repoted vehicle fuel economy which suggest that the US may have been consuming more gasoline than it admitted to during the Reagan years. Or simply put the Saudis pumped more oil and said nothing and the US used that oil and said nothing. These were Cold War days as well...

Just a possibility I thought I'd throw in seeing as how memmel is not here to do so any more.


What about that term "refinery gain"? Was there some change in refinery design and operation that resulted in greater "refinery gain"? Or to put in in other terms, did the refinery operators find some way to get more product out as the lighter fractions such as gasoline and Diesel fuel, and less residual oil? Don't these lighter products result in more gallons of output per pound of input?

I don't think that would matter. These figures are for OIL production and OIL consumption, not OIL production and END PRODUCT consumption.

I doubt that it's refinery gains. Why would this factor be different before/after 1981 -- more heavy oil after 1981 as was suggested above? Someone should contact BP and ask them.

Similar inexplicable stuff is happening with the EIA numbers regarding production vs consumption.

There is also the EIA versus JODI discrepancy that Ron spotted a few weeks ago.

There are so many of these egregiously bad accounting examples it makes one kind of wonder what is really going on.

I'm sure somebody here at TOD will solve this mystery in the not too distant future. It's probably something really simple that all of us have overlooked.

Yes, just like most everything I have modeled regarding oil depletion I thought has been overlooked, even though I believe it is extremely simple math.

Wholesale prices rise more than expected

Producer prices rose more than expected in May, but the pace of increases eased from prior months as the climb in energy costs slowed, according a report on Tuesday.

Shoppers slammed on the brakes in May

Retail sales fell in May for the first time in 11 months, dragged down by a sharp drop in receipts from auto dealerships, according to a government report that could raise fears of a prolonged economic slowdown.

...Retail sales last month were depressed by a 2.9 percent drop in sales of motor vehicles, the largest decline since February 2010, as a shortage of parts following the earthquake in Japan left inventories lean and prompted manufacturers to raise prices.

Can the Insurance Industry Survive Climate Change?

... As catastrophic weather events continue to become more common and more severe due to climate change, the insurance industry will be sorely tested. 2010 insured losses were estimated at between $18 billion and $37 billion - and indicated "a probable link" to climate change, according to insurance giant, Munich Re. In fact, the industry has named climate change its biggest challenge.

But how will the industry respond? ...

GOP hopefuls recycle energy talking points

Republican White House hopefuls blasted President Barack Obama's energy policies as a driving force behind the economic slowdown during Monday's nationally televised debate rather than trying to paint any major contrasts with each other.

Well, at least they were recycling. Don't want to waste brain cells on actually thinking.

Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum - poster children for 'Tragedy of the Commons'

There might be a better word than Recycle in this case..
Maybe the New Hampshirites who don't appreciate that message could create a new Bumper Sticker..

"Don't ReTread on me"

That's Vermont, though isn't it?.. How about

"Live free or Drill!"

From the article:

No one asked about global warming during the debate, and none of the candidates voluntarily brought it up. The question could have been an awkward one, especially for Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich, two candidates who once lobbied for federal action, and Mitt Romney, who recently angered conservatives by refusing to dismiss climate science.

Meanwhile, we set another record yesterday - 102F, 11F above normal. Today, the forecast is 103F, which will be another record if achieved. At least we got a little rain yesterday.

I don't know if this will prove to be a game changer, but what the hay....

'Cambridge crude' could let EVs refuel like gas-powered vehicles

With consumers used to the convenience of refueling their vehicle at the gas station in a few minutes, one of the biggest disadvantages of electric vehicles is the time it takes to recharge their batteries. Now, by separating the energy storage and energy discharging functions of the battery into separate physical structures, researchers at MIT have achieved a breakthrough that could allow EVs to be recharged in the same time it takes to refuel a conventional car. The technology could also provide an inexpensive alternative for energy storage for intermittent, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

The new battery employs an architecture known as a "semi-solid flow cell," which sees the battery's positive and negative electrodes (cathodes and anodes) made up of solid particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. These oppositely charged particles are pumped through systems separated by a filter, such as a thin porous membrane.

See: http://www.gizmag.com/semi-solid-flow-battery-design/18907/?utm_source=G...


The equation for electrical energy is still V * I * T. From a system point of view with EVs you must "charge" the material with the energy needed, which is a step that does not have to be done in the fossil fuel paradigm (as it was done eons ago). That "T" in the equation means that the two systems can never be equivalent.

In an EV system somebody, somewhere needs to store the energy in the mass that is used as the battery. You cannot escape that.

"somebody, somewhere needs to store the energy"

And that is different from other systems how?

As I said, with fossil fuels the energy is already stored in the material. That is why they are so incredibly useful. It's the old stored ancient sunlight issue - essentially the "T" part of the equation happened long ago so we don't have to do it now.

Don't take that as me advocating the use of FF, it's just that any scheme that intends to substitute real-time energy inputs for use in a portable system like an automobile will have to deal with "T". Which is why EVs can never be a direct substitute for the fossil fueled automobile.

An electric train is a different story, as the energy source does not have to move, therefore you do not have to store the energy in some portable material, so if you can produce sufficient power you do not have to store it and can use it in real time.

Thanks for the clarification.

Which leads me to wonder what kind of energy loss is involved in this system. One of the advantages of EVs can be their efficiency. If you make them more convenient by eliminating that efficiency, you have achieved the goal by defeating it.

If people are waiting for an EV that will function exactly like an ICE, they may be waiting a long time.

But for the kind of local driving that makes up most urbanites trips, they should be fine--though reductions in range in cold climates can be a problem, as I have experienced.

EVs could be a useful tool in the future for some uses. A low speed utility vehicle used a few times a week to bring produce to local markets could make a lot of sense. Perhaps so could electric tractors, maybe with a spare set of batteries that could charge while the others are being used (although you will likely not be able charge them as fast as you discharge them).

But not for maintaining the existing car culture. And you need a relatively high level of technical sophistication to keep an EV industry running, and I have my doubts about that long term. For urbanites trains make much more sense.