Drumbeat: June 18, 2011

Head of IEA pleads with Russia: join us to help solve energy price crisis

Energy consumer organisation the International Energy Agency (IEA) has invited Russia and the Opec oil producers to join it, in a desperate bid to broker a peace between buyers and sellers over soaring crude prices.

The olive branch was extended today by the IEA's executive director, Nobuo Tanaka, to Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, but has already run into powerful opposition from the country's state-owned gas group, Gazprom.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Tanaka said it was time that producers and consumers realised they were on the same side. "We all really have a common interest. You cannot take oil in isolation from gas security, energy efficiency and electricity from renewables.

Libya rebel oil chief says West failing insurgents

(Reuters) - Libya's rebel oil chief accused the West on Saturday of failing to keep up its promises to deliver urgent financial aid, saying his authority had now run out of cash completely after months of fighting.

Speaking to Reuters in a rare interview in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, oil and finance minister Ali Tarhouni said all crude oil production had now come to a standstill due to damage caused by the fighting.

Syrian forces enter village near Turkish border, sources say

(CNN) -- Syrian security forces determined to quell a three-month uprising stormed the northern village of Badama, near the Turkish border, a witness and an activist said Saturday.

Units entered the village equipped with at least six tanks, 21 armed personnel carriers, 10 security buses and randomly fired at houses, the Syrian activist said, adding that security forces also closed the road to the village of Khirbet Aljooz.

Bangladesh: Muhith rubbishes talk of gas export

The government has no plan to export gas as the reserves of the natural resource are not adequate, said the finance minister yesterday.

The government has signed deals with foreign companies to explore untapped areas in an effort to fix the energy crisis, AMA Muhith said.

Raise Gas Tax To Prepare For 'Peak Oil'

At the same time that transit agencies around the country are cutting services due to lack of funding, gas prices are hitting record highs and people are clamoring for alternatives. We have reached the pinnacle of the "peak oil" conundrum: It's too expensive to drive, yet most Americans have no choice. And it's just going to get worse.

The solution may be counterintuitive: an increase in national and state gas taxes. A larger tax on gasoline would raise the much-needed revenue to maintain and upgrade our nation's transportation infrastructure, wean the population off our addiction to sending money for oil to dictators overseas, and create jobs on U.S. soil building and operating a lower-carbon mobility system that will enable our country to prosper in the 21st century.

Simulation models offer clarity with regard to energy transition decisions

As a way of eliminating energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs from our supermarket shelves, a tax on incandescent light bulbs would be just as effective as an outright ban. Subsidising new technology, such as Led lighting, could actually reduce its sales, as this can lead to a relatively large number of people buying a light with teething problems, giving the new technology a bad name. These results emerged from the simulation models which PhD student Emile Chappin of Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) developed in relation to energy transition.

Crude Oil Falls to Near a Four-Month Low on European Debt Crisis, Economy

Crude oil dropped to the lowest price in four months in New York on doubts European efforts to resolve the Greek debt crisis will succeed, and on concern of reduced economic growth and fuel demand.

Futures fell 2 percent as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou attempted to get the country’s parliament to pass austerity measures needed for a bailout. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for U.S. growth in 2011. Oil tumbled 6.3 percent this week as U.S. manufacturers turned pessimistic and fuel consumption dropped.

Reliable oil benchmark proves elusive

(Reuters) - Investors analyzing the oil market rely on two benchmarks that many see as flawed, but would-be replacements show no sign of displacing them soon.

Accelerating Inflation Spurs Consumer ‘Trade Down’ to McDonald’s, Wal-Mart

Energy and food costs have risen 19 percent and 4 percent since December, according to the Labor Department. That caused real disposable income, or the money left over after taxes and adjusted for inflation, to remain unchanged. The confluence of higher prices and unemployment at 9.1 percent has become especially acute for households making less than $75,000 a year, according to David Schick, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore.

Supply worries to keep oil above $100

(Reuters) - Oil prices will stay above $100 a barrel in the next year as supply worries outweigh concerns about flagging global economic growth, a Reuters survey of oil industry officials, executives and traders showed.

Russia courts oil investors with warning on OPEC

ST PETERSBURG - Russia, keen to parlay credentials as the world’s top oil producer into new investment in its offshore oil riches, told investors on Friday the best guarantee of supply was cooperation on new fields.

Following the collapse of OPEC talks on a potential supply increase to help struggling consumer economies, Russia’s powerful oil tsar Igor Sechin warned against reliance on the the oil club’s capacity to ramp up production in times of need.

Salazar announces Alaska oil lease sale

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government is planning to hold annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska starting this year, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The accelerated plan announced Thursday drew criticism from environmentalists.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the reserve west of Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope contains almost 900 million barrels of undiscovered oil and 53 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas.

Iraq army defuse bombs at key oil refinery

BAGHDAD - Iraqi troops have defused make-shift bombs placed inside one of the country’s key oil refineries in the latest threat to its expanding petroleum industry, security and oil sector sources said on Friday.

OPEC producer Iraq is rebuilding its oil industry after years of war and sanctions and energy installations are still targeted by insurgents more than eight years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Scottish Power chairman has pay package doubled

The Spanish chairman of Scottish Power had his pay package doubled to £10.5 million just months before the company raised gas bills to record levels for 2.4 million British households.

Sinopec to invest 100 bln yuan in new refinery in east China

China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., Asia's largest oil refiner, also known as Sinopec, is planning to invest more than 100 billion yuan (15.43 billion U.S.dollars) for a new refining complex in China's east Jiangsu Province, reported Saturday's China Daily.

China sets down rules on oil spill compensation

BEIJING -- China's Supreme People's Court (SPP) has issued a set of judicial explanations specifying compensation responsibilities in cases of vessels' oil spill.

In a case where two or more vessels spill oil, both the amount and the types of leaking oil should be taken into consideration when determining the ensuing environmental damage and the amount of compensation fund that should be paid by the owner of each ship, said the document.

Spain’s Repsol forms joint venture with Russia’s Alliance Oil to up oil, gas production

MADRID — Spain’s Repsol YPF is forming a joint venture with the Moscow-based Alliance Oil Company Ltd. to seek growth opportunities in Russia, the Spanish energy company said Saturday.

Repsol said in a statement that Alliance Oil will hold 51 percent in the joint venture and contribute production assets in the Volga-Urals region, while Repsol will own the remaining stake by making a cash investment.

U.S. gas glut fuels chemical plant building boom

(Reuters) - Not too long ago chemical industry insiders would joke about when the next U.S. chemical plant would be built. The answer, the punch line always went, was never.

That has radically changed in the past year as cheap U.S. natural gas prices have given America's chemical industry a large cost advantage over European rivals, many of whom make chemicals from crude oil.

Duke sees danger if U.S. hooked on natgas

(Reuters) - The rush to natural gas in the United States could lead the country to become too dependent on a single fuel source for its power and risk making it dependent on foreign suppliers in the coming decades, Duke Energy chief Jim Rogers warned on Wednesday.

That shift to natural gas threatens to undermine the diversity in the electricity industry's fuel supplies that has been developed over the past 40 years, Rogers, Duke's chief executive and chairman, told the Reuters Global Energy and Climate Summit in Washington.

Analysis: Gas is killing green energy in price war

(Reuters) - A widening shale gas revolution is killing the economics of renewable energy, even as falling costs allow wind and solar to overtake fossil fuels in niche areas, say energy executives and analysts.

Solar panel prices are down about 10 percent this year, but chasing a moving target as discovery of cheap shale gas spreads beyond the United States, experts told Reuters energy and climate summit.

Japan Strains to Fix a Reactor Damaged Before Quake

TSURUGA, Japan — Three hundred miles southwest of Fukushima, at a nuclear reactor perched on the slopes of this rustic peninsula, engineers are engaged in another precarious struggle.

The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor — a long-troubled national project — has been in a precarious state of shutdown since a 3.3-ton device crashed into the reactor’s inner vessel, cutting off access to the plutonium and uranium fuel rods at its core.

Tepco Halts Filtering of Tainted Water at Japanese Plant

TOKYO — The Tokyo Electric Power Company said Saturday that the filtration system it had struggled to put into operation had broken down after just five hours, a disappointing setback in its efforts to cool the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The company said that the sprawling system, which is designed to siphon oil, radioactive materials and salt from the water used to cool the reactors, had been shut down because the levels of Cesium recorded were similar to those requiring the changing of filters.

U.N. nuclear report shows Japan safety shortcomings

(Reuters) - Japanese nuclear regulators failed to review and approve steps taken after 2002 to protect against tsunamis at the Fukushima plant and these proved insufficient to prevent the tidal wave disaster three months ago, a U.N. report showed.

Tepco to request loans from Japanese life insurers - paper

(Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co will ask major life insurers, including Nippon Life and Dai-ichi Life, for hundreds of billions of yen in additional loans as it faces big bills in restoring control over a crippled nuclear plant and paying for fuel costs for thermal plants, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported on Saturday.

Mopeds gain favor in Michigan as the ultimate gas savers

Mopeds: They zip, they sip and now they're hip.

With gasoline swinging back and forth around the $4-per-gallon line, more Michigan motorists are straddling mopeds — low-horsepower, high-mileage mini motorcycle-ish machines that can easily cruise 100 miles on a gallon of gas.

ACA to Build Ethanol Mill to Meet Argentina 5% Blend Requirement

Asociacion de Cooperativas Argentinas, an Argentine farmers’ association, will build an $80 million corn-ethanol plant as distributors struggle to comply with a law that they blend standard gasoline with 5 percent of the renewable fuel.

Ethanol Industry Is Unruffled by Senate Vote Against Tax Breaks

The Senate's vote Thursday to repeal tax breaks on ethanol will have little practical impact on the industry, at least in the short term.

Senate Ethanol Vote Signals Ill Wind for Other Energy Subsidies

The U.S. Senate’s vote to eliminate a tax credit and a tariff that subsidize ethanol production has lawmakers wondering which subsidies may be the next ones targeted.

Chinese Banks Back $10 Billion Bid to Build Solar in Europe

Two Chinese banks are providing as much as $10 billion in funding to a group of three Chinese makers of solar equipment to build sun-powered energy projects in Europe.

China’s Wind Power Woes

Many of China's wind turbines can't connect to the country's larger electric grid. There aren't enough cables, wires, and related technology to bring wind-generated electricity from rural Mongolia. That's where most of China's wind turbines are located--far from the densely populated hubs of China's northeast and south, where electricity is most needed.

Partners in Wind Power Bridge a Mideast Divide

Muhammad, a Palestinian engineer who designs and installs small wind turbines for homes in the territories, had recently forged an unusual alliance: he partnered with an Israeli engineer, Yanir Avital, with the goal of manufacturing and selling wind turbines together in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. They do not share a common cultural background, but they share a deep interest in wind energy as something that can benefit their peoples economically and environmentally.

Doom, Doom and More Doom

New Society has published three new books telling us that we're doomed. Or are they? When you see that humanity is running up against a problem, and you write a book about it, are you actually a doomer?

Africa: Climate Change - African Agriculture And Food Supply At Risk

Bonn — Climate change and global warming are likely to have dramatically negative effects on African agriculture and food supply by reducing river runoffs and water recharge, especially in semi-arid zones such as Southern Africa, two new reports say.

Cuba: Seas to rise more than 30 inches by 2100

Cuban scientists calculate that median sea levels around the Caribbean nation will rise more than 30 inches by the end of the century due to global climate change, official media said Friday.

Models predict the sea will rise 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) by 2050, and 33.5 inches (85 centimeters) by 2100, Abel Centella, scientific director of the country's Meteorological Institute, was quoted by Communist Party daily Granma as saying.

Raise Gas Tax To Prepare For 'Peak Oil'

Obvious and full of sense, however, that would admit to a problem and that cannot be done if every process and political discourse promotes America as 'the greatest and only'. If Americans were told the truth, and mobilized to reduce energy use and reign in the debts as an 'all for one and one for all' kind of focus, they could cope and win this one. But the foundation of multi-nationals and class system of the entitled special is a rotten foundation as they are not threatened or hurt. In fact...the jackals continue to prosper and they own the Govt minions.

Cheers. Paul

It is interesting that a regular U.S. local newspaper not only mentions peak oil but also proposes a strategy to deal with it. I think it is too late for the proposal to have any merit but gasoline taxes will either have to rise to pay for infrastructure or we do with less infrastructure. The stimulus funds helped pay for construction over the last couple of years so we haven't seen that many roads return to gravel but there have been a few lost in rural areas.

I'm not expecting them to actually do anything. Still...Connecticut is possibly the most peak oil aware state in the union (at least as far as government goes). Terry Backer, a state representative, is a peak oiler and started a peak oil caucus. His staffers hang out at peak oil sites, though I don't know if he himself actually does.

We should have had a massive gas tax since at least the 70s.

Why waste money and resources repairing roads....

I can't see how a modest increase in gas taxes (3 cents per gallon) would make a whole lot of difference unless a much larger change in how society is organized accompanies the tax increase.

Specifically, I would expect that an increase in gas taxes would be used to improve and expand the road network which would increase (or at least slow the decline) of travel speed by road. An increase in travel speed would simply cause heavier use of cars and oil use. Jevons paradox gets you every time.

Fortunately, it looks like the real estate bubble is starting to work to reorganize where people live with respect to work and get other services. I believe that the days of routinely commuting across the LA area are probably over because it costs too much to make the commute.

Now if they could just get the real estate industry to start demanding transit be built because it increases the value of property within walking distance to the train stations it might just be possible to make some progress.

While I agree that we should start de-emphasizing the road network, it is outrageous that general revenues are being used to maintain that network. If the money is going to be spent anyway, better that it be from a gas tax increase.

Up to a point. But even if you successfully wished away everybody's private car, we'd all still need a halfway decent semblance of a road network for a variety of purposes. Police, fire, and ambulance can't really be stationed on every corner, so they wouldn't arrive in a timely manner if they had to crawl at 5mph on deeply potholed dirt roads. And there probably would still be buses and dial-a-ride vans; even in the heyday of trolley railcars, they didn't go everywhere, far from it. IOW even non-drivers benefit from the road network, and it's not unreasonable for them to pony up a bit.

"And there probably would still be buses and dial-a-ride vans; even in the heyday of trolley railcars, they didn't go everywhere, far from it."

And you still need the rural highway system to get the crops to the cities and farm supplies out. The trains don't go everywhere out there either.

Actually the trains DID go everywhere, once upon a time. 254,000 miles in 1917.

The value of farmland depended on how it was from a railhead. The paradigm is that a farmer would wait for good weather and dry roads, then hitch up his wagon and haul his grain, cotton, tobacco, etc. over dirt roads to the nearest railhead or river port. There an elevator would buy his grain (or a warehouse his cotton or tobacco) and wait for the next freight train or steamboat to ship it out.

Ranch land would drive livestock to the railhead and they could go further than a heavily laden horse drawn wagon. And the productivity of ranch land is less than farmland, so they could support fewer rail lines.

Farmers 15+ miles from a railhead might grow corn, feed the corn to pigs and either slaughter and smoke/salt the pigs themselves or walk the pigs to market. Distilled spirits were another option. There were work arounds for stranded farmland.


Both of the previous comments illustrate just how well the current system is optimized for low fuel prices.

Conditions have changed. The trend for fuel prices is up.

Where is the adaptation?

250,000 miles' worth is hardly "everywhere", especially since, even in 1917, much of it was concentrated near the megacities. We now have around 4,000,000 miles of streets, roads, and highways. In any reasonable scenario, short of Mad Max, we'll need most of those road miles (even if we reconstruct the old rails) in reasonable enough shape to get, among many other things, timely emergency services. We're no longer living in 1917, and there's little point in using it as a template.

Back then, when there was barely anything we could now recognize as medical care, maybe it was acceptable in some localities that a doctor likely couldn't show up (or possibly even be notified) until it was far too late. Nowadays, with even the most insignificant risk condemned as immoral and to be avoided no matter the price, that obviously can no longer fly. Indeed, to stay at or travel to places as inaccessible to prompt emergency services as a great many localities were in 1917, one may now need to sign a lengthy release or even pass a medical exam. So I still contend (and this is not mutually exclusive with building rails) that it's completely fair and reasonable for non-drivers to pony up to some extent. (Indeed, if private cars were ever wished away, then taxes on driving them would contribute 0%, leaving not just "some extent", but a full 100%, to be found somewhere else.)

So I still contend (and this is not mutually exclusive with building rails) that it's completely fair and reasonable for non-drivers to pony up to some extent.

I am in complete agreement with this. The road system is a public good, and even if you don;t use it much, or at all, you still have the right t use it, 24/7. In that regard, it is similar to other public services like municipal water supply, or the fire department. they systems have to be maintained, and be available 24/7 regardless of whether you use it or not, or, in the case of water, regardless of how much or little you use it.

So there should indeed be a certain base amount that is paid for by everyone, as it is a public benefit. Just what the percentage should be is open to quite some debate, of course, though the majority of funding should come from user charges (fuel tax/tolls/mileage charges etc)

This is one of the problems privately owned tollways run into. They are expected to get all their money from the toll. This is OK, if the society is willing to accept the possibility that they might, as a business decision, decide to close the road every now and then, or that if they went bankrupt the road might be closed. If if society deems that toll road to be a vital link that must always be open, then it is reasonable to pay some baseline amount in return for the road being available for use 99.9% of the time, and then pay the user charge when you actually do use it.

I should add that transit systems are similar too - even for people that never use them, they are available for them to use at any time, so to have a baseline amount paid by general tax is not unreasonable.

I think the real problem is that where you have these government owned/operated services, they usually become inefficient/overstaffed/overpaid etc, and people object to paying for that, when they don't use the system(s)

"The road system is a public good, and even if you don't use it much, or at all..."It's even a bit stronger than that. There are plenty of things a particular person might not use or value at all, such as TV broadcasts, skis, or the bus that only heads downtown and only on weekday mornings. Or, a person might desire that one or another such thing should merely exist despite not using it, and that might be real enough to manifest as a bit of willingness to pay, i.e. option demand or non-use value.

Roads are a bit different. Unlike skis, TV broadcasts, or the bus to downtown, everyone, virtually without exception, continually uses the roads, if only indirectly. This is stronger than merely desiring in some abstract sense that they should exist. Even if a person is bed-bound, food and supplies don't come 100% of the way from the source to the house by rail, visitors and home health aides use the roads even if they come by bus, emergency services will certainly arrive by road, and on and on. That is, someone who claims never to need or use or care about the skis or the bus could easily be telling the truth (and in that sense there's no obligation to treat either as a public good); while someone who claims never to use the roads is almost certainly delusional or a liar.

Since we have the graded infrastructure in place, maintaining at least one lane in passable condition should be doable for quite some time.

I still remember one lane bridges with various weight limits posted on rural roads and even unpaved gravel roads where care was required for passing since they were essentially one lane roads within a two lane wide RoW.

And I also remember the Railway Express Agency. Both American Express and Wells Fargo had their start in that business.



There is such a thing as a one-lane, two-direction street. It is known as a queuing street. These things are great for slowing traffic down - less so in the US where the drivers are often armed and dangerous.

City of Surrey Parking Regulations: Queuing Street

A queuing street is a type of local road that has only one travel lane and drivers must pull over to allow oncoming traffic to pass (generally a shorter road). It has a benefit of acting as a traffic calming measure that lowers the speeds of vehicles within the area. It also minimizes the impermeable area of the road, reducing the demand on the stormwater management system.

Queuing Street with Parking on Both Sides: Parking is generally permitted on both sides of a queuing street if it is at least 8.0 metres (26 ft.) wide. Vehicles must park such that a 3.5 metre (12 ft.) travel lane is still available for emergency vehicle access.

Queuing Street with Parking on One Side: Parking is generally permitted on only one side of a queuing street if it is 6.6 to 8.0 metres (22-26 ft.) wide. Parking is usually provided on the side of the road with the most available curb space for parking. Vehicles must park such that a 3.5 metre (12 ft.) travel lane is still available for emergency vehicle access.

That is actually a little generous. In my experience, two-side parking queuing streets work well down to about 7.5 m (24 ft.) wide and single-side parking ones down to 6 m (20 ft.) wide. People have to be more patient to get anywhere, but that's the whole point behind them.

We have quite a few of two way one lane streets in New Orleans. Traffic calming is the current buzz word. Really just 1840s city and traffic planning :-)

Best Hopes for a higher % of land for people and a lower % of real estate for cars.


I can still remember one-lane bridges. Why, it was way back there in the Summer of 2010. :-)

Seriously, last year, they replaced the Pingree Bridge over the Blackwater River in Salisbury, NH - I drove over it every single day. Built in 1893, it had served us very well here on Mountain Road, albeit with a 10-ton weight limit. Single lane, wooden deck. There are only 8 households on our side of the river, but when it turned out to cost nearly as much to beef it up for another 100 years than build a new one, the town, to my astonishment, opted to build a brandy-new one.


We all miss the old iron pony-truss bridge... except maybe the road agent, who is delighted to be able to take the wing-plow up Mountain Rd. now that he has a 2-lane bridge.

Of course, that doesn't help me - I live beyond the town-maintained portion of the road. Oh well!

I do not post much as I am on a very slow dial-up and it's too time consuming, but I had to for this post.

I agree with all the post about roads and railways but putting in a two lane bridge is going in the wrong direction for many reasons.


In this case, heavier use of cars leads to a more spread out city, longer commutes, and longer shopping trips. My point is not to argue for no roads, but for denser cities.

The road tax proposed in Conn. doesn't appear to do this.

The high oil prices, the real estate crash and recession seem to making some progress. It is a harsh solution.

Interesting idea, but as another poster said, far too late. (And it'll be a cold day in hell when a US politician raises petrol taxes, this side of societal collapse or a civil war, anyway.) A US friend was just moaning about paying $3.80 or thereabouts; I worked out the 134.9p/litre price I last paid (in a rural part of the UK) - it comes to $9.80. Life goes on although with a lot more slower drivers, hypermiling, doing just one shopping trip a week rather than three or four, more use of public transport etc. There's also a slow-motion effect whereby the poor are being priced out of the countryside into small market towns and larger regional towns, where goods, services and employment can be reached more easily on foot or via public transport. When the rich second home-owner types and the downshifter refugees whose two-bedroom London flat sold for the price of a nice barn conversion and a BMW X5 start shifting to Priuses, I'll know the price mechanism's really kicking in. My guess is it won't really kick in until £2/litre (roughly $15/gal.) The other thing I'm looking out for is pressure to reduce taxes on fuel to compensate for the rising underlying price; there's not much of that because none of the mainstream political parties would surrender such a substantial source of revenue. Some of it's being used to subsidise renewables, and the govt just recommitted to the long term target of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, so I can't see the price dropping significantly any time soon.

Unfortunately public bus transport cannot just smoothly increase. Outside of the commuter zones of prosperous cities in the UK it has disappeared. It was withering anyway since the 1960s due to car ownership and changing country demographics, but Thatcher [and all the free marketeers since] certainly made a step change for the worse. Councils must now run transport at a loss with few passengers in a vicious circle of inconvenience, since it is too infrequent and 'joined up' for commuting to work for most potential users. I would like to see someone document this in a readable book, with suggested ways forward - has anyone written this?

Well, actually public bus transport can just smoothly increase - all it takes is a serious government commitment to public transport, and a willingness to discourage automobile use (e.g. the London congestion charge). Towns and cities also need to be designed around public transport rather than the private automobile, but this is seldom done in the UK.

The trouble with bus systems is that they compete directly with the private automobile - they use the same roads and the same fuels. Rail systems have the advantage that they don't - they use their own rights of way, and can easily run on electricity rather than diesel fuel. The UK has a rather elaborate rail system, but it is somewhat antiquated and inefficiently run.

I'm looking at it as an outsider (Canadian), but I have been in the UK, not to mention a variety of other countries. I found it easy to get around on public transport in the UK, but the British seemed to have a lot more trouble with it. The transportation systems in the UK are quite inefficient compared to a number of other countries.

Drove home from parent's home yesterday. 130 miles, averaging 52mph the trip computer reported 93.8mpg for the trip.
(UK gallons, the computer is about 5-10% optimistic ).

However, this was only possible on a longish journey on a fairly quiet Sunday, very few trucks or holdups, mostly on motorways which take a huge amount of resources to maintain to the standard where hypermiling is possible. In stop/start rush hour traffic, the same car gets about 55mpg.

We will not be able to sustain our road network indefinitely at this standard. Then these highly efficient cars will be less practical than 4x4s, for the same reason that they are in Africa.

Next time I will try for the 100mpg barrier, but going much slower would make me more of a hazard to faster traffic on the road.

In Sweden is the climate issue the main motivation for the substantial CO2 taxes on fossil fuels.

It has made quite an impact for phasing out heating oil, encouraging alternative investments and fuel efficient cars.

"The rush to natural gas in the United States could lead the country to become too dependent on a single fuel source for its power"

That's an interesting thought, because I just hit ran across this one;

"In the U.S., we're not so much addicted to oil; we are addicted to simple solutions and silver bullets."

Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This quote was in the latest Chemical & Engineering News. I'll have to read the entire article when I get back to work.

What happened to Rockman's comment? I replied to it and then was told I was responding to a non existent comment. I must have entered the Twilight Zone.

He was replying to something posted in yesterday's thread, so I asked him to keep the discussion in that thread. "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

Leanan, can we vent in the drumbeat thread?

Because I'm on a deepwater well work project in the GOM that would make the doomerest of Peak Oilers think that things may be much worse that they ever thought. It would make non believers in PO start hoarding fuel in milk jugs. There guys should never get a permit to drill... but they will!

If we had a few traders from the NYMEX spend some time on rigs with these select operators they would speculate that we'll never get another drop of the good stuff out the ground. Price $500 dollars a barrel.

All oil companies are not created equal.

Ok I'm done.

Hey Wildbourgman, don't leave us hanging. Exactly what would make the doomerest of Peak Oilers think that things may be much worse that they ever thought and make non PO believers start hording fuel in milk jugs?

Ron P

I don't want to get too technical or specific, because I can't translate oilfield lingo into English like Rockman, but it's the incompetence of some of our leaders in the oilfield that aggravates me.

It's also that we went through the Horizon disaster and for some individuals and even entire companies, nothing has changed.

Spill it and Rock and others can translate if it really is too techy.

Or are there legality or employment issues you are worried about?

Well right now it's mundane oilfield issues that are under my skin no big deal and it's also more of a gut feeling along with that. Yeah there are some employment issues too.

Let me put it to you this way there are people the Supervise projects in the GOM both in management and at the wellsite that are well known bad players, some of it is company wide. The sad thing is that many of these names are legendary in the GOM and the Gulf coast, we in the industry all know who these people are and they are still employed after years of being near disaster. The new and improved way of getting permits needs to include looking at the people and the culture of the individual companies, not just getting the paperwork right.

Drilling contractors and service companies need to quit cowering in fear to every E&P operator that talks to them, because the next BP/Horizon type disaster will hurt all of us much more financially than loosing one contract.

We have many issues in the oilfield that never get recognized. I had just listed some of them but I thought twice!

The fish rots from the head down.
Remodeled MMS still filled with Big Oil stooges.

"Remodeled MMS still filled with Big Oil stooges"

If your thinking that's what I'm alluding to, it's not.

I think that BOEMRE(MMS)may have turned into an organization that was controlled by industry to an organization that is controlled by fear of not following the bureaucracy and eventually loosing their jobs if they screw up. The process of getting drilling permits is slow, because every decision maker is trying to not be the person that has to make a decision. They are basing whether or not to give a drilling permit on proper paperwork. The human factor is not present as far as I can tell.

So basically a company of complete morons with enough cash or financial backing can pay a consulting firm to get the paperwork ready and they can get a permit after a long wait. That's not good either!

I'm sure there are good BOEMRE employees, but they are afraid of loosing their jobs by either looking like the are pro industry or anti industry, so they protect themselves with bureaucracy. I've seen it in my company fear is not always an efficient motivator, it can cause paralysis. My fear is that the BOEMRE is going to turn into what the Army Corps of Engineers in South Louisiana is and that's disfunctional.

We don't need the permitting process to be slow because of a process that won't even keep us safe. If the slow process made things better, then great but it's just postponing the inevitable, unless the process is changed.

We have quality people like Rockman in my industry we just need to find and reward them as an industry.

I don't think that 'red tape' is having chilling effect.
Everyone including Obama is scarred to death of slowing down US offshore oil production in any way.
Oil operations are inherently highly dangerous with a huge consequence for GOM.
It was very lucky they were able to cap Macondo at all. There are hundreds of defective BOP all over GOM which will never be fixed.

You object to the permitting process as an effective safety measure.
I don't understand your logic.
Industry writes the rules and give them to the government.
That's the basis of the permitting process. If the government doesn't enforce the rules who's responsible?--The government!

So industry doesn't even follow its own rules! aka Macondo.

We should be transitioning off GOM oil. Deepwater drilling in a hurricane zone is nuts to begin with.
This is the last hurrah of the oil biz. It's dinosaur technology.

Safety? Fogettaboutit!

It's all about the money.

"You object to the permitting process as an effective safety measure.
I don't understand your logic."

I'm not going to pick apart your entire comment some of which I only half agree with. I'll explain my logic on the permitting process, because I more than partially agree with you. I think the process is slower than it needs to be and I also think it's not as effective as it needs to be, because it does not have a way to exclude bad or ill equipped well site and management leaders. It also doesn't include direct supervision where a BOEMRE agent on the drill site that is accessable. We (the drilling operation)tells BOEMRE that we did everything right and if we get the paperwork right when we are inspected, they believe us. If the permitting process WAS an effective safety measure then it could go faster. In all actuality right now many companies don't have enough qualified employees needed to ramp up GOM drilling back to post Horizon levels, due to people leaving the GOM area or the industry, so in my company we don't mind the slow process at this point. I do mind that thought that the process doesn't work to make us much safer and better.

"There are hundreds of defective BOP all over GOM which will never be fixed."

There are not hundreds of rigs working in the GOM. BOP's are used as a last line of defense for Well control on a working rig or workover operation and BOP's get rebuilt and retested on a regular basis. Yes there is some test cheating on BOP test that occurs at the well site, but BOP's are not a permanent fixture on a producing well.

I think your confusing BOP's and production wellheads which are two different animals. It happens!

Until there is a culture of genuinely concerned, competent,and well trained individuals who have the balls to actually ensure that the process is as safe as possible and are willing to blow the whistle when necessary, we will have continuing disasters, malfeasance, waste, and corruption. At the end of the day, individuals need to stand up and be counted. I know of what I speak and I have been on the uncomfortable end many times when attempting to tell truth to power. I do not know if anything has been done during this administration to truly change the culture. Or did they just shuffle a few people around, issue some new regulations and call it a day. Did anyone get fired from the last administration?

I doubt if Salazar or Obama have done anything to change the culture that reached its apogee during the Bush Administration. Maybe they are no longer sleeping literally with industry but if they just created a bunch of fearful bureaucrats then they have failed.

There's a hell of a difference between getting the paperwork for a job right and doing the job right.


Obama officials still approving flawed Gulf drilling plans

WASHINGTON — Despite President Barack Obama's promises of better safeguards for offshore drilling, federal regulators continue to approve plans for oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal or no environmental analysis.

The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service has signed off on at least five new offshore drilling projects since June 2, when the agency's acting director announced tougher safety regulations for drilling in the Gulf, a McClatchy review of public records has discovered.

Three of the projects were approved with waivers exempting them from detailed studies of their environmental impact — the same waiver the MMS granted to BP for the ill-fated well that's been fouling the Gulf with crude for two months.

In a May 14 speech in the Rose Garden, Obama said he was "closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews."

Environmental groups, however, say the loophole is as wide as ever and that the administration is allowing oil companies to proceed with drilling plans that may be just as flawed as BP's, which concluded that a major spill was "unlikely" and that the company was equipped to manage even the worst-case blowout.

"It's just outrageous," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation organization. "The whole world is screaming and . . . they're just continuing to move this stuff through the system

When Obama's six-month ban is lifted, experts say these projects could form the basis for new, flawed wells unless the MMS submits them to tougher oversight.

"At no point did any of the moratoriums cease the use of (categorical exclusions)," Suckling said.

"They're cueing up all these drilling projects with no environmental review, so they're just sitting at the starting line" until the ban ends.

A spokesman for the Interior Department said the policy on categorical exclusions "is still being studied" as part of a 30-day congressionally mandated review of U.S. drilling policy. The department issued a separate directive Friday that requires oil companies to submit information about the possibility of a blowout, which had been missing from many drilling plans, but made no mention of the waivers.


So they are not trying to succeed, they are trying to avoid failure. The best way to avoid failure is to do nothing and be nothing. Which explains a lot.

PVguy you explained it in alot less words than I did!

I also think they are trying to have "plausible deniability" but not putting BOEMRE agents on rigs. You would think at the least deep water drilling rigs would have them.

There was a rule in one of the Notices to the Leasees that said that BOEMRE was to be given 48 hours notice prior to a rigs subsea BOP stack being lowered into the water, so they could come out an witness the surface testing and the surface function testing done with the rigs ROV unit. I have NEVER seen them show up on my rig, although we have called them everytime. I don't know why, maybe they trust us.

That is extremely common in bureaucracies dealing with far more mundane matters than deepwater wells. It's often best not to take any responsibility, to CYA as they say, which often means doing nothing, or at least kicking the can down the road or across the aisle.

How are questionable people doing dodgy things any different than in any large firm?

Back in the days of one to one trades/business, if you screwed someone word got out.

The remoteness of cause-effect as noted in the book The Jungle brought about government regulation. In theory, there is regulation in the oil patch to address the remoteness of cause-effect.

"How are questionable people doing dodgy things any different than in any large firm? "

In a large firm there are more checks and balances whether you believe that or not, it's true. Even if that checks and balances are caused by political infighting, fear and back stabbing it's there. In a big oil company, many people look over each others shoulders and they wait to hammer them for breaking field regulations from BOEMRE. They have hours of discussions, safety meetings, hand ringing, safety and regulatory audits.

The firm I'm worried about right now is extremely small and they are all dodgy and to a point, incompetent. I'm talking 5 maybe 10 guys from the top down to the field level and they all cut corners. This gang would have been bankrupt financially to go along with their bankrupt morals, if they had a Horizon type incident and it's pure luck that they haven't had one get a way from they yet.


I agree with Darwinian..., don't leave us hanging....

I have no idea what’s going on at the Wildman’s rig. But I won’t let that stop me from explaining. I suspect it’s the same situation that has haunted me and other ops types since the beginning of time. For lack of a better term I call it “self serving compartments”. I’m sure most TODsters see it in their businesses: Project A has 6 vital components handled by 6 different mid level managers. Each expects to be judged on how his group holds to budget while achieving the goal. The goal of the drilling manager is to get the well down as fast and cheap as possible. He gets neither credit nor blame if it’s a dry hole or finds 10 million bbls of oil. OTOH the geology manager gets neither credit or blame if the well comes in under or way over budget. There other compartments I’ll skip…I’m sure everyone gets it. Now superimpose another layer of complexity: honest difference of opinions/interpretations re: the technical side. And then add the problem with office bound folks who don’t appreciate the physical stress of life on a rig. And, to a less critical level, vice versa.

Harkin back to the BP blowout and the statement made during one of those debates: “I guess that’s why they make blow out preventers”. As I pointed out at the time this is not a casual statement. And is always made in front of witnesses. It’s a direct and obvious challenge to someone’s authority/competence. It’s about as close as you’ll see a mutiny on a drill rig. I’ve used that phrase more than once myself. Even if it didn’t get me run off on the spot it almost certainly means I won’t get the next gig with that company.

So I guessing the Wildman had to go to the galley at one point, get a cup of coffee and decide if it was time for a potential suicide comment. With a family at home counting on that paycheck it isn’t always an easy call. Sometimes it a fine line between sitting in a bathroom stall muttering cuss words under your breath and knocking the cr*p out of some idiot willing to risk fingers/lives so he can meet his quarterly goal.

BTW - All email on an offshore rig is monitored. There's what you think and there's what you put in the perminent record

Drilling deeper and deeper in GOM.
Another oil volcano is inevitable.

Unconventional oil is the future of oil.

I don't think another "oil volcano" has to be inevitable, but I do agree that unconventional oil is our future.

We can do things much better than they did on Macondo, we have done things much better with better results.

You get is Rockman, but right now it's really small potato issues that point to a bigger problem with our work culture. It's a culture that I thought would have changed after the Horizon, but we have the same players.

What do you expect? This is America. The only thing that counts is making money as quickly as possible. That's it.

It's not just a work culture. It's a national culture, one that's almost existential in nature. And nothing short of collapse will change it.

"The only thing that counts is making money as quickly as possible. That's it."

This is true except that there are companies that have done the math and they know that they will make more money by not having idiots running their operations.

I'm not talking about companies giving anything up to make more money, I'm talking about companies that make money in spite of themselves. It's not just incompetence in safety and the environment, it's total incompetence. Whether you like it or not there are companies and people in business that do see the bigger picture just not enough of them in the right places.

I've been feeling like I'm in the Twilight Zone for about 6 years now. Trying to function in the "Real World" while living a Peak Oil life at the same time.

I get the "other world" feeling every time I am out harvesting my medicinal herbs and everyone else on the block is mowing the lawn. Some weird twist of the space/time continuum which places the fourteenth century right next to the twentieth.

Or when visiting friends barbequing at their McMansions in the 'burbs, wondering when life is going to get back to "normal growth".

People don't have lawns where I live. Nice to not waste time mowing grass. Also, where I lived in California last year, planted lawns and watering were illegal. One just mowed the natural vegetation down to to a certain level to avoid a fire hazard. Therefore, no one used chemicals of any kind on their lawns. In the common areas, all grass cutting was done by sheep. Nice.

When I bought my current house 2 years ago I sold the lawn mower and weed whacker and trimmer etc.

We don't have a blade of grass...just decorative crushed rock (with some larger decorative rocks), and numerous shrubs and trees, including fruit trees.

We have a nice variety of birds, lizards, and cool insects (the occasional sun spider, vinagaroon, and tarantula are fascinating).

I had to look up "vinagaroon". Interesting. I get a lot of birds, especially robins, who like to feast on earthworms (manure is great for earthworms). I get mostly orb-weaver spiders. Some of them are quite spectacular.

Road runners are very cool as well. When I first moved here I was a little surprised that they were not 5-foot tall blue ostriches.

A friend of mine in Tuscon has a Gila Monster next to hos house. Too bad they don't live here...any animal with the word 'monster' in its name would be a cool neighbor!

I miss having lizards in the garden - we used to get a lot of geckos in South Africa. Great for keeping down the mosquito population.

I get the "other world" feeling every time I am out harvesting my medicinal herbs and everyone else on the block is mowing the lawn.

Heh. I know that feeling well. Our yard is a small jungle food forest with 60' trees in the midst of manicured lawns and shrubs in a semi-posh subdivision. Nothing illegal about it, but we get a bit of the hairy eyeball from some neighbors. A lot of the bird life of the area nests here. There is constant 2-cycle engine noise of weed-whackers and blowers around us many days... and THEY think WE'RE nuts....

Had a neighbor transgress a month ago... he came 4' over our property line with his chain saw and cut down a large flowering bougainvillea wall that gave our lower yard privacy, not asking permission, just testing boundaries in his view. Left dangerous thorns all over our lot on the ground. We'll be hanging a large intense-orange plastic tarp vertically in the spot to get our 'privacy' back, and he'll have to look at it until the bougainvillea grows in again. And the circle of life continues.

Just doing our part to bring down property values in Hawaii.

We're getting a taste of the nicer end of these dealings, as we are now sharing our Community Garden Spot (which my late Mum had held for the last 8-10 yrs) with a neighbor recently from Baghdad, and whose two sons go to school with my daughter. The Mom is thrilled to have a garden to help tend, and we to have some company up there, and someone to help keep up with the Kale and Chard harvest that always gets ahead of us. I'll be building raised beds next to our house for some more growing space, but I'm not worried about the 'split' at all.. the toughest part is having enough hands around to get all of the gardening chores taken care of, and now, we're closer.

Like with my New York apartment, the best way to create security was to build relationships and form a strong net. Sharing is a helluva lot more pleasant than hording.

Sounds great, and most of our neighbors actually are as well, there have been no complaints. Despite my comments which involved a barrel of rice, elsewhere in this drumbeat, it's for all the neighbors, not just us. (Though we get first pick of the bags of rice without rat poop.) We should be producing a lot of breadfruit in addition to the avo's soon.

Indeed, just played host to one of the neighbors for the last 2 hours, discussing the conversion of their property into a large meeting center for sea-level rise meetings of pacific nations, and he'd like to bring us in on it, eyeing our property's potential.. But we have our own NGO, and will be hosting international interns doing environmental work largely with other species, while using the property to do drip-watering of already-extensive tree crops.

The guy down the hill with the chain-saw, leaf blower, and putting green will be submerged long before we are, he's 40' closer to sea level. Maybe he'll even develop a sense of humor. Or not.

Custard pie activist slams IPCC 'grey literature' habit

Mark Lynas, the climate activist who once threw a custard pie into the face of Bjorn "Skeptical Environmentalist" Lomborg, has found himself under fire from other climate activists. Earlier this week it emerged that an report on renewable energy for the IPCC had drawn heavily on an earlier paper authored by Greenpeace activist and staffer Sven Tenske, together with a lobby for the renewable energy industry called the European Renewable Energy Council. Tenske ended up as a lead author on the IPCC's report too, and in an astonishing coincidence, ended up making the same recommendations.

Both claimed that "close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies". According to its charter the UN's IPCC is supposed to provide neutral assessments of scientific evidence, and avoid reflecting the views of political activists and lobbyists. Mark Lynas called foul, saying the reliance on such a tainted and obvious source of propaganda damaged the cause of activists.
The perspective missing here is that NGOs are now the establishment, their views chime perfectly with those of the elite. In the European context they're sort of licensed court jesters. Court jesters owed their employment to the court's good favour - and if something they said upset the King, they were expelled. This is a weird simulation of power and politics as we've traditionally known it. It creates a strange synthetic world, which everyone ends up agreeing on what they going to agree on anyway, after having helped themselves to some taxpayer's cash along the way.

See also Questions the IPCC must now urgently answer

They also produce three reports that the media treats as one. However, the other two reports are not based on scientific literature. This is where the whole Himalayan glacier melt "fiasco" came from. The professional deniers seized on an unpublished claim about them disappearing in 30 years as proof that IPCC science is all BS.

The IPCC should stick to science. Any adaptation reports should be produced by some other group based on the IPCC report.

The IPCC can't stick to science. What the science would say is that if the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere follows a particular function of time, then the temperature distribution of the earth would rise in the following way, glaciers and sea ice would change accordingly, sea levels would rise so many centimeters, precipitation would increase or decrease in a specific pattern.

But politicians' and news reporters' eyes would glaze over and everyone would go back to sleep.

So IPCC necessarily has to describe future socioeconomic scenarios which illustrate various negative effects of the scientifically valid changes. Once they begin to do that, then they are necessarily involved in modeling changes in economic and financial systems over time frames for which economic and financial forecasting are dubious at best.

Furthermore, once you go into the business of futurecasting, the concentration of CO2 as a function of time can be questioned because it is no longer just a pure assumption, but also a function of the projected economic and business systems, along with questions about the geophyical constraints on fossil fuel production.

Quite so.

What are the options:
One option is to go into the future blind. Just tell yourself your favourite good-night story, like we can't know anything about the future or models are no good or it might be the sun afterall or climate changed before, CO2 is plant food or whatever makes you feed good. Burn baby burn until our kids and grandkids bump into potentially huge problems which the generations before them created. They will be very grateful for that obviously. But, well, in this case, at least you can say: "Sorry, we didn't know..."

Or you try and construct some scenarios based on educated guesses and the best information available, like we go BAU, BAU++, all fossil, wedges or rapid renewables towards 2100 and see what it does. Yep, lot's of outcomes with a huge spread, noone knows what's it really gonna be. But at least you now have an idea what the extremes are and this can be fed into the risk management decision processes. Risk management is all about averting the extreme outcomes and long-term risk management is core business for governments (at least it should be). So here you go, these things have to be done as the IPCC is about informing governments about the risks that accompany climate/energy policy. WGI and WGII are about this subject.

But then the governments could very well ask: "Ok, all fossil BAU doesn't seem such a good idea, so what can we do about it?" IPCC answers: "Good question, read the WGII and WGIII report, we've done our best to produce a comprehensible review of all available information about mitigation and adaptation".

Ofcoure, because mitigation and adaptation costs money (and other reasons) there are lots of people who really prefer the first option and then you get kerfuffles like this latest.

The IPCC can't stick to science. What the science would say is that if the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere follows a particular function of time, then the temperature distribution of the earth would rise in the following way, glaciers and sea ice would change accordingly, sea levels would rise so many centimeters, precipitation would increase or decrease in a specific pattern.

You don't seem to get it.

The earth is an island in space surrounded by a vacuum.

Infra-red energy from the sun hits the earth and heats it up.

That heat is re-radiated back into outer space and cools the earth off.

In the infra-red spectrum, there's little difference between ice(.966) and asphalt(.93) they're both blackbodies.


The Greenhouse Effect reduces the re-radiation. When ice caps melt or sea temperature rises the average temperature of the earth rises.

Once the earth's temperatures rises how can it possibly get cooler (other than wait 10,000 years for the orbit of the earth to shift--Milankovitch cycle)?

It's like putting hot water in a thermos. It's going to stay warm for a very long time. Eventually the earth will reach a new higher steady state temperature plateau.

One reason CO2 levels rise after an Ice Age is that lots of CO2 which has gotten trapped in snow and ice gets released, amplifying the warming.

To lower temperatures you will have remove CO2 physically from the atmosphere.

Trees do that and they die and turn to peat and eventually coal over hundreds of millions of years.

We can't really wait hundreds of millions of years for the trees to save us.

You don't seem to get it.

Huh? I think the two of you are basically agreeing.

He wants the IPCC out of futurecasting.

Furthermore, once you go into the business of futurecasting, the concentration of CO2 as a function of time can be questioned because it is no longer just a pure assumption, but also a function of the projected economic and business systems, along with questions about the geophyical constraints on fossil fuel production.

I think we need more futurecasting because people aren't understanding what the science is telling us.

The world is engaged in an unplanned experiment on the planet and
he doesn't want to look ahead.

And you think I agree with him?

Maybe I misunderstood. It appeared to me that part of the point was that despite the quibble correctly pointed out in that quote, there needed to be some futurecasting of effects anyway. That is, without it, one is left with a blizzard of numbers that don't signify much except to specialists, and politicians and other interested parties will simply fall asleep.

OK, see below, I guess I did misunderstand. Or not. Now I'm really confused :(

I think that you were right the first time. The recapitulation of the WG I science certainly caused my eyes to glaze over. As would the WG I content of the IPCC report.

So WGs II and III were presumably formed to extrapolate both future changes to geological and meteorological parameters (largely science) and impacts of those changes on society (largely not science) and alternative scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through development of alternative energy (WG III and largely not science).

Perhaps I don't rightly understand the IPCC. It seems to be characterized as a scientific body, but on close inspection it does not appear to be one. If one looks closely at AGREED REFERENCE MATERIAL FOR THE
, the contents of the Working Group I section deal with the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, etc and are the scientific content. Working Group II on impacts is far more speculative. By the time one gets into Working Group III on mitigation, science has been left behind and they are well into the socioeconomic theory weeds.

That would characterize the reflection of solar irradiance with a black body spectrum centered on around 6000 Angstroms.

What is needed is the emission at the wavelengths of a 300K +- 40 K blackbody to characterize surfaces varying from polar ice to equatoria deserts, as well as the transmissivity of the atmosphere at those wavelengths for different CO2 concentrations.

Then one can calculate the reduction in earth temperature black body radiation as CO2 doubles and compare it with the necessary temperature rise, given that radiation is proportional to temperature to the 4th power.

6000 Angstroms, 600nm, 0.6um.
Environmental temperatures image at 8-15um.
You could almost call that 60% atmospheric transmission:




Gee, the ~300K emissivities really do seem to average out to 0.9!

There ya go! Just tot it all up and Bob's your uncle.

Good references. Thanks.

The problem isn't as simple as you suggest. Near the surface, most of the thermal energy transport is the result of convection as warm air is less dense than colder air above, thus rises. And, the warm air contains considerable energy in the form of water vapor, which condenses and releases that energy as the air rises, which also results in cloud formation, which then changes the TOA albedo, blocking the sunlight reaching the ground level. Of course, water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas, which varies with temperature of the air, adding further confusion to the calculations.

Then, one must calculate the effects of both radiation and convection averaged over the entire planet with different amounts of solar energy arriving, resulting in a wide range of surface temperatures. All the while, one must include the thermal mass of the oceans (which cover about 72% of the surface} and the thermal mass of the land, including the effects of the time varying coverage of snow and ice. Then too, there's the seasonal variations of plant activity at temperate latitudes, which also effect how these processes work. The climate scientists have been working on this for decades and there are still portions of the problem which are not precisely determined...

E. Swanson

You're confused.

Albedo (reflectance) is not the same as emissivity.

For example, fresh snow, which is highly reflective to visible light (reflectivity about 0.90), appears white due to reflecting sunlight with a peak wavelength of about 0.5 micrometres. Its emissivity, however, at a temperature of about -5°C, peak wavelength of about 12 micrometres, is 0.99.


Oops. And for the frequencies of interest, natural scenes ARE about the same.

We can't really wait hundreds of millions of years for the trees to save us.

Don't have to wait that long.

Take this years complex carbs in the form of woody plant growth and char it. Consider charing what you'd normally compost to kill virus pathogens.

Bury the char in the top meter of topsoil.

Your premise is flawed.
So where did the woody plant come from?
'Woody plants' don't grow faster than trees and when you burn
plants you release CO2 and when you add carbon to the ground you make it more acidic, like a bog and many plants can't grow in bogs.

when you add carbon to the ground you make it more acidic

Really? That's news to me. Got a reference that shows adding (elemental) carbon acidifies the soil, enough to cause a problem?

and many plants can't grow in bogs.

That is because the "bogs" are saturated with water, and the conditions turn anaerobic as the composting bacteria use all the available oxygen. It's not the carbon that's the problem - you can grow plants in a "dried" bog, and they will grow quite well, it is that waterlogged and anaerobic soil that is the problem.

"Biochar is a fine-grained charcoal high in organic carbon and largely resistant to decomposition."

When microorganisms make organic carbon decay, it makes the soil acidic and you have to add lime.

I don't know the effects of adding graphite(elemental carbon) to soil.
Adding coal ash or petroleum coke to soil is acidic but some flyash is alkaline.


You might want to read the article below..

Beware the Biochar Initiative
Compost, Consumerism, Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition — by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho November 18, 2010

Turning bioenergy crops into buried charcoal to sequester carbon does not work, and could plunge the earth into an oxygen crisis towards mass extinction ...
It is clear that biochar has not lived up to its promises as a stable C repository or enhancer of crop yields. On the other hand, the risk of oxygen depletion is real [1-3]. Biochar itself is an oxygen sink in the course of degrading in the soil [24. 32]; adding to the depletion of oxygen that cannot be regenerated because trees have been turned into biochar for burial.


eric blair is referring to a process called pyrolysis, which burns off the hydrogen and oxygen portion of hydrocarbons leaving mostly carbon. Also known as charcoal:


The charcoal is then used to make terra preta, or black earth:


The process greatly enhances the fertility of the soil. While not a geologically permanent solution, the carbon does stay in the soil for at least several millenia which could be enough to make the coming decades less bad.

Majorian, I find that you tend to be obsessively doomerific, and annoyingly positive about stuff you have no clue about. You can lay down and die if you like, but I'm going down swinging.

You may (or may not) have noticed that he (Majorian) is not doomerific about ethanol - he is indeed annoying positive about it - verging on suspiciously so.

He may not be aware that having higher levels of soil carbon enhances the yield of the corn for his ethanol - get rid of your soil carbon, and all you have left is dirt.

Your premise is flawed.

Then explain the flaw.

So where did the woody plant come from?

Does it matter?

The base of biochar can be the outer husks of nuts, chaff from wheat/rice, 2 year old berry canes, this years stalks of jew. chokes/sunflowers/corn stover

'Woody plants' don't grow faster than trees

Now here you are ignorant. If you wish, I can clear up your ignorance in this matter.

woody plant - definition of woody plant by the Free Online ...
Noun, 1. woody plant - a plant having hard lignified tissues or woody parts especially stems. ligneous plant

Plants like Bamboo are used as wood replacements. Plants like flax or hemp can be woven into panels that can be treated with resins to act like wood. (hemp and flax are considered "soft") If "woody plants" is the metric, plenty generate more biomass than "trees" with Bamboo being a leading contender.

And you are welcome.

when you add carbon to the ground you make it more acidic,

Really? Hrmmm. Then why later do you say:
I don't know the effects of adding graphite(elemental carbon) to soil.
At this point - why should your claims be believed in this matter?

To lower temperatures you will have remove CO2 physically from the atmosphere.

The main way that CO2 is removed from the biosphere is by weathering of rocks per the Goldich dissolution series.


"The weathering of silicate rock (see carbonate-silicate cycle). Carbonic acid reacts with weathered rock to produce bicarbonate ions. The bicarbonate ions produced are carried to the ocean, where they are used to make marine carbonates. Unlike dissolved CO2 in equilibrium or tissues which decay weathering does not move the carbon into a reservoir from which it can readily return to the atmosphere."

Not that it matters to us, but it takes on the order of hundreds of thousands of years, not millions. There are serious proposals to use nuclear power to greatly accelerate this process.

It's lucky we don't need land to live on - oops.

Just for the record; from 24th January 2010

"The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research."


"The claim that Himalayan glaciers are set to disappear by 2035 rests on two 1999 magazine interviews with glaciologist Syed Hasnain, which were then recycled without any further investigation in a 2005 report by the environmental campaign group WWF.

It was this report that Dr Lal and his team cited as their source."

"One of the problems bedevilling Himalayan glacier research is a lack of reliable data. But an authoritative report published last November by the Indian government said: ‘Himalayan glaciers have not in any way exhibited, especially in recent years, an abnormal annual retreat.’

When this report was issued, Raj Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, denounced it as ‘voodoo science’."

"...when reviewers did raise issues that called the claim into question, Dr Lal and his colleagues simply ignored them."

So yes, The IPCC should stick to science, but their interest in that seemed to be all but gone at the time.

Their attempt to adjust the facts to drive politics in the desired direction backfired badly. Almost as badly as that youtube video where people who don't believe in Global Warming get blown up."

The ice caps are melting earlier and more rapidly that a lot of climate scientists thought would happen or at least said would happen. Frankly, 2035 may not be all that far off given our tendency to underestimate the impacts.

This story is based on Steve "the auditor" McIntyre who, as usual, tries to make a mountain out of a molehill.

See this kerfuffle in another light.

Mountain out of a molehile is right. Considering the issues he works on, if audit-boy ever saw this oil production data on EIA vs JODI vs BP it would be like disproving Einstein for him. Alas, he has an agenda to follow so he concentrates on swatting flies.

Oil Burned to Generate Electricity


Slightly more than half in Saudi Arabia (more during the summer to run the air conditioning). Substantial in Japan, which must be higher now.

Mexico has a surprising high %.

Oil burned in Saudi Arabia to generate electricity over time.


Best Hopes for Efficiency and Renewables,



Wonderful graph. Interesting on Brazil's % from renewables. Not sure it that is a good thing or not...I am imagining the damage going on in the Amazon.

Reuters ran revisions of this table three times. This is the latest one I've seen so far.

TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region
Reporting by Jim Bai and Tom Miles; Editing by Chris Lewis / Reuters / June 15, 2011

Following are details on summer power shortage forecasts,
expected maximum loads, supply capacity in each region, as
reported by local grid operators, local governments or official
media. [more]

The prior one had this for total deficit in GW vs. the current one:
Total 44.85-49.85 (June 2)
Total 42.87-47.87 (June 15)

We keep seeing news stories about these big power shortages in China, Pakistan, etc., but we rarely get the slightest bit of info from the MSM about what if anything these countries are doing to reduce power demand. For example, are most people in Pakistan using CFLs for lighting their homes, or are they still using incandescent light bulbs by the dozens? And what about electric water heaters, or the kitchen stove, etc.

I was in Islamabad about 20 years ago and during the winter the security guards on duty around some of the government buildings and Embassies had 2-bar electric fires at their feet!.
Could that still be happening?

Breadman,The problem is not what they are using but electric generation.Whether you have a CFL or incandescent or LED is not important if you have no power supply for 14 hours a day.This is demand destruction in auto mode.

Electricity shortfall reaches 4,760 megawatt

ISLAMABAD, June 18 (APP): The electricity shortfall reached 4,760 megawatt while the country is generating 13,240 megawatt of electricity and the current demand is 18,000 megawatt.According to Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), the reason behind the current shortfall is the reduction in the production of electricity the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) due to the shortage of oil and gas supply

...The scheduled electricity load shedding in Karachi is 10 hours but the power has been suspended for 14 hours a day in the city. The Karachiits are also facing an acute water shortage due to the absence of electricity.The daily power outage increased up to 16 hours a day in rural areas of the country.

You're certainly not going to solve a problem on that scale with CFL although every little will help.

Maybe the Pakistani people should have compelled their government to put all the resources they spent making nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles into PV instead.

Fair and balanced: I make the exact same criticism to the Indian people and their government.

And to the folks in the United States.


The mis-allocation of resources (time, money, engineering and scientific talent, more)is breathtaking.


Maybe the Pakistani people should move their country to a new location further away from Iran, at least not between Iran and China and India.

Why Pipelines Routinely Blow Up in Pakistan
babystrangeloop / April 17, 2011

Simple. The US doesn't want to share Iran's resources with the East and South. By never having a working pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan this is ensured.

'US never told govt don't build Iran pipeline' Pramit Pal Chaudhuri / Hindustan Times / Apr 17, 2011 << The United States government has never told the Indian government directly that it does not want the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline to be built. "They have said it isn't a good thing in public," said high level sources. "But never to us directly - possibly because they know the answer they would get." >>

Dream on little India, dream all about how you will have gas from Iran when this will never stop:

Gas pipeline blown up in Balochistan (for the umpteenth time) The Express Tribune / Apr 16, 2011 << Gas supply to different cities of Punjab was disrupted after unidentified people blew up a supply line to Sui Plant on Saturday. >>

Since I wrote that back in April my opinion is change to be that the US doesn't want Iran to make money.

The electricity shortfall reached 4,760 megawatt while the country is generating 13,240 megawatt of electricity and the current demand is 18,000 megawatt.

An interesting counter- example here for the economists who say that supply must always equal demand, when clearly it ain't so!

Electricity is an interesting case, because when the demand isgreater than supply, the "price" (i.e. voltage) drops, and you can measure just how great the demand is.

So the demand is greater than supply, but the delivery (of energy) is, of course, equal to supply, and what you have is an automatic rationing system, where everyone gets "diluted" energy- i.e. lower voltage.

Of course, with electricity, demand exceeding supply leads to no only lower voltage but also higher currents, and leads to fuses and breakers blowing, if you're lucky, or blackouts if you're not.

Maybe it is actually similar to gasoline, where demand greatly exceeding supply leads to people blowing their fuse...

Not a counterexample at all, really. In a (reasonably) free market, quantity supplied gets matched up to quantity demanded by the price shifting appropriately. [Insert righteous moral outrage here, blah blah blah.] In the ridiculously hot summers at lower altitudes in Pakistan, "demand" in the sloppy lay sense surely is functionally unlimited - lower the price enough and the enormous population could afford to consume plenty more than a mere 14 or 22 GW, just for air-conditioning.

The shortages owe to price controls, which simply assure that customers get turned away capriciously, arbitrarily, and selectively. This is common knowledge among economists. So, in Pakistan, you'll receive electricity depending on how well-connected your locality is politically (with a "smart grid" that would become "how well-connected you are politically.") But the quantity demanded still equals the quantity supplied since inventory is negligible, just a few laughably feeble batteries here and there. The equality simply owes to blackouts rather than price. And the quantity is anomalously low because generating companies (whether private or state-run) must switch off rather than try harder, since under price controls the latter will put them out of business.

Nowadays, "demand" in the sloppy lay sense is an essentially useless notion. It amounts to little more than "how much could I have if I could have it the way the world owes it to me - namely for free." Which is far more than will ever be supplied under any regime. (I do suppose one could conjure up a silly academic counter-scenario built upon the notion that Americans couldn't actually drive their cars 24 hours a day, imposing a non-price limit on gasoline consumption. But in the real world, prices never get low enough to test something like that - lower the price enough and people find new uses, such as using bread to make homemade wallpaper paste as has been known to happen in Egypt.)

The shortages owe to price controls ... So, in Pakistan, you'll receive electricity depending on how well-connected your locality is politically

Every week there is at least one report like this:

Gas pipeline blown up in Dera Bugti
APP / June 17, 2011

DERA MURAD JAMALI: Unidentified attackers blew up a 16-inch diametre gas pipeline in the Pirkoh area of Dera Bugti on Friday.

However, no loss of life was reported in the incident.

According to the Levies Force, the assailants attached an explosive device with the gas pipeline which exploded. The blast damaged the pipeline and gas supply from the Pirkoh plant was suspended.

Levies Force and bomb disposal squad personnel reached the site and cordoned off the area with efforts launched to trace the attackers.

These events are clearly connected with energy supply in Pakistan as Dera Bugti is in Pakistan.

The thing is that electricity is far from a "reasonably free market" and has some unique constraints because it can't be stored.

Electricity is a market of instantaneous delivery of supply, but the pricing mechanism is certainly not instantaneous. People do night turn their lights on or off in the evening because of the price, they do so because it is getting dark, and later because they are turning in. people do not turn their a/c on because the price of electricity has dropped, they turn it on because it is getting hot. Retail prices do not change on an instantaneous basis, some places have time of day pricing, but within those periods, demand is not moderated by price.

But the quantity demanded still equals the quantity supplied since inventory is negligible, just a few laughably feeble batteries here and there. The equality simply owes to blackouts rather than price. And the quantity is anomalously low because generating companies (whether private or state-run) must switch off rather than try harder,

If people are flicking switches, that is "demand" in the truest sense of the word. If this is exceeding the generation capacity, then you have voltage drops, and, before it gets dangerous, the grid operator will start rolling blackouts. You could argue the market has ceased to function, but quite simply, you have reached the limits of instantaneous supply, and there is no mechanism for instantaneous (retail) price increases to curb demand. So, the electricity supply is effectively sold out.

Anyone who gets blacked out has absolutely had their demand gone unmet by the supply.

Over a longer term, the will be additions to supply, but in the instantaneous world of electricity, all the available generation at any instant, is all there is, but the ability of the customers to consume more is always present, and when it is realised, you have blackouts. Price at that moment has nothing to do with it.

Isn't that a lot like saying that we have no supply problem with oil, only a demand problem?

In effect, you are saying that they have no demand problem, only a supply problem.

If their electric supply cannot keep up with demand, there are at least two ways of approaching the problem. One is to increase supply, the other is to decrease demand. Decreasing demand could be much less expensive, depending on what those loads are.

The CIA factbook reports Pakistan population as 187 million. If we assume two 60 watt light bulbs per person in Pakistani households, that would be 22 gigawatts of demand, if they are all turned on at the same time. Changing them all to CFLs which use 13 watts instead of 60 watts would reduce demand by about 16 GW, so this is not a trivial issue.

Far fewer than half of homes in Pakistan are connected to the grid and Pakistan can't even generate 14GW at the moment, never mind 22GW. But your basic point is valid of course. I have no idea what percentage of grid-connected households have switched to CFL but I seem to remember it is very high in India and the same may hold true for Pakistan.

Edit: found this from a year ago.

France helps Pakistan face energy crisis

(Islamabad, July 9th 2010)- Mr. Sibtain Fazal Halim, Secretary EAD, H.E. Mr. Daniel Jouanneau, Ambassador of France to Pakistan, and Mr. Yves Terracol, Country Director of the French Development Agency signed a financing agreement of 20 million euros which corresponds to the first tranche of an Energy Efficiency Investment Programme co-financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and amounting in total 1.1 billion USD.

The first tranche aims at promoting energy efficiency in residential lighting and consists of the free distribution of 30 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) to the Pakistani households. This will:

help address the current energy crisis in Pakistan by reducing peak demand

give impetus to the promotion of energy efficiency by providing sufficient financing to permit a viable transformation of the lighting market

place energy efficiency at the heart of public and private decision mechanisms.

After its implementation, this Project is expected to lead to a 1,100 MW reduction in peak demand, thus saving Pakistan €1,315 million in investment that would have been necessary to meet the demand. This reduction in peak demand should lead to an annual reduction of electricity consumption of approximately 2,310 GWh.

And this dated June 6th 2011 under Pakistani environment legislation.


WHEREAS the use of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (“CFLs”) is on the rise in Pakistan by reason of exacerbating energy crises;

...NOW THEREFORE the Government of Pakistan is pleased to accord approval to the “Guidelines for Disposal of Mercury Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s)” as set out hereinafter: -

free distribution of 30 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) to the Pakistani households.

Free distribution of 30 million CFLs is a big first step in reducing their electric demand, but I also note that July of 2010 is a very late start in controlling electric demand.

Maine has been pushing energy saving light bulbs, sometimes aggressively and other times not so much, for about 20 years now.

187 million people.


Look at the slope of the line.

At least their fertility rate came doen over the last two years:


India: Same boat...much bigger and leakier.



Pauls is one hundred percent on the money.

The word "demand " has been so badly misused so often and so long in respect to energy in particular that it should be scrapped altogether in any intelligent discussion.

Two bit brained writers, pundits, and politicians, etc, are responsible.

As Darwinian and several others have pointed out , the PROPER definition of the word involves a mathematical function with quantity demanded on one axis and price on the other.

At any given price, buyers will purchase some given quantity-as the price rises, or falls, the quantity "demanded" or purchased falls and rises inversely with the price.

HENCE BY DEFINITION, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR DEMAND AND SUPPLY TO BE MISMATCHED, excepting cases wherein rationing of some sort is in effect.In such cases, people may be willing to pay much higher than the prevailing price but still not be able too purchase the product in question.When subsidies are paid to producers and suppliers, tyhe quantity offered for sale may be great enough that some product cannot be sold at all, ast any price, no matter how low, so that it is scrapped.

Usage of the word by anybody who does not understand this simple defintion should subject the user to having his mouth washed with soap or something equally unpleasant.

It is apparently impossible to overestimate the ignorance of the general public , however, as nobody is ever called on this elementary mistake except occasionally in forums such as this one.


Except when the market mechanism fails or cannot work. Failures of the electrical grid could be an example of that.


Hi Alan,

Of course there can be temporary supply and demand aberattions when the market cannot work for many reasons, either technical or political.

But if there is NO electricity AVAILABLE for sale, then the supply and demand definitions really don't apply very well.Nevertheless, the customer can obtain at least some electricity in some cases by running out and purchasing a generator, etc-this is very expensive electricity of course, and the number of generators sold is limited to the smallish number of those those customers willing and able to pay that high price.

But at the axis where available quantity is zero, the price can apoproach infinity, so the definition works .Similarly, at the other end of the curve, when the quantity available approaches (for practical purposes) infinity, or in practical terms, simply far more than anyone wants to buy, then price can and does approach zero too.

We have experienced this many times as farmers-the price of fruit has often fallen below the cost of harvest, so we give it away in the field to anybody who will come and get it.

Twice in my memory we would have been able to sell a crop at an outrageous price-had we had a significant crop that year.We got four or five times the usual price, but had next to nothing to sell, so our customers "demanding " fruit at the ordinary price went without.

The ones willing to pay supermarket prices to US got what they wanted-the supply matched the demand, at the GOING PRICE.

Why is market research a business?

Even then, the quantities will still match up, especially with anything, like electricity, that can be inventoried only in laughable amounts. It's just that if the market mechanism has failed to do the matching, it will happen instead by customers being thrown off the bus in some way, usually the least politically-connected first, but perhaps as in the 1970s, according to bladder capacity while waiting in lines. The Pakistan situation is simply the entirely predictable consequence of price controls (plus rampant theft that's practically government-sponsored.)

And since so many "price-gouging" laws have been enacted by US states lately, we'll see some of the same after the next big sudden natural disaster. The gas station, grocery, whatever, won't be able afford to go out of its way to restock fast since attempting to recoup the cost will incur heavy fines, so it'll just have to let everything run out. But at least the blithering gimme-gimme-gimme fools won't be "gouged" - they'll be on "empty", and it'll serve 'em right.

Its nice to read your post. I agree that Supply and Demand can only be considered functions that describe a desire to either sell or buy a product. And that they in principle should be somewhat inverse.

But they cannot be "matched" in a sense that they are equal. In a way I can agree that in a working market, there will be a condition in the market in which the transactions reflect the crossing point between the curves.

However I wish to point out that supply and demand are never matched or equal, as they are clearly dissimilar functions. Rather the volume sold has to be equal to the volume bought.

But what I feel most people miss when they talk about supply and demand, is that they are also a function of time, among other things. The curves describing the relationships between the price and the desire to buy or sell, will change over time. If we for example have one day without an essential product like gasoline, the demand curve for it will be rather different the next day.

I have come to think about demand as desire to buy, and supply as desire to sell, in this context. The problem is that the meaning of the word supply is normally not "the amount I wish to sell based on the price I am offered", in normal usage it means "what is actually supplied". So its actually a poor wording and a mix between different kinds of words.

Demand is something abstract, but supply is something tangible. In normal english context, if you supply something, it doesnt just mean you will provide it if it is needed. It means that it is actually transferred. So there's a misconception. So to repeat myself, the supply in the market is not the same as the product supplied after sold in the market. If you have something to sell then you "have a supply of your supply of your supplies" (to play with words a bit).

So you can have supply and demand without the other (!)! They are functions of many variables, among others, time, price, and sentiment, and perhaps butterflies in the pacific. At a particular time, the supply and demand are agnostic to each other. But the PRICE and VOLUME of transactions are indeed dependent on the said functions. If there is nothing to trade, it has to be that one of the functions are zero, either the demand is zero or the price is zero, or both.

Well enough of that for today. Im writing an essay about this subject, and intend to build my case that all others are wrong (sort of), and my take on this is better.

I would appreciate comments!

There is nothing inherently wrong with what you are saying, if you accept it as a given that you can do a Humpty Dumpty and have words mean whatever you wish them to mean.

But words really do have definitions, and the only way to communicate meaningfully is to for the various parties involved to know and agree upon the same definitions.

Otherwise, the Tower of Babel thing comes into play.

Serious ommunication among laymen in respect to economics is virtually impossible-hardly any of the participants have more than a foggy idea what the words they are using actually mean.

This is an issue that is of course that pops up often with other words.

Two very fine words, "liberal" and "conservative" have suffered the same fate in recent years;niether word means at all the same thing to adherents of various political camps.

A value that is a "conservative" value to me may well be a "liberal" value to many others-including most members of this forum.

The word conservative is so badly abused here that I have found it necessary to abandon it and refer to myself as a realist instead.

In case anyone doubts my credentials in this respect, be it known that I was once a public school teacher , and that any honest teacher who works outside the confines of the college bound group on the "academic " track will tell you in no uncertain terms that it is virtually impossible to overestimate the ignorance of the general public.

As a matter of fact, it is hard to overestimate the ignorance of the college educated public, if topic in question lies outside the college grad's area of expertise.

I am astounded sometimes at the width and breadth of my own ignorance-even after reading a couple of thousand or so serious books over the last fifty years.

Words must have fixed meanings in order to communicate on a serious level.

"I am astounded sometimes at the width and breadth of my own ignorance-even after reading a couple of thousand or so serious books over the last fifty years."

That is how it works, if it is working.
I was talking with my wonderful Korean technician and we spoke of stupidity. I told her my analogy of the well of ignorance and she said "Oh! We have a saying in Korea: "He is like a toad in a hole.""

When you are at the bottom of the well, all you can see are the rocks and walls, and you know everything. As you climb out, the circle of sky widens and widens and opens out to a view so far, so wide, up and down, with trees and stars and the whole world... and you know nothing.

I dont know what you mean by "doing a Humpty Dumpty", but i guess that you mean that by giving my own definition of words, I can make any argument stick. Well i would like to point out that words have different meanings, relating to the context.

My point was that in a market, supply and demand are words that in the context of the market have a different meaning than most people's understanding of the words, especially supply.

For most people, Supply is a physical quantity, something that is delievered or sold at the market. Ex.: "The supply of oil is 85 million barrels per day." But in a market where one talks of supply and demand, this cannot be the meaning of it. One cannot talk about demand on the one hand and the aformentioned supply on the other hand. Demand is an abstract concept as is Supply in a market.

Of course then there are other things such as capacity. Lets consider the following statement: "At present the current capacity for the supply of oil is 90 MB/day. And the current capacity for the consumption of oil is 92 MB/day." (Dont mind the exact figures). This statement can be said to somewhat correctly describe the world market (if there is such a thing). The supply of oil is not what capacity is. But supply (88 MB/day) is not the same as the term supply used in the marketplace, which deals with the price, availability and the desire to sell. And consumption is not the same as demand, obviously. I also have to add that consumption is not necessarily the same as transactions in the marketplace.

Im trying to argue that we need a new term for the word "supply", when we are talking about a market condition. Or at least that the use of "supply and demand" as is, is a basis for misunderstandings and misconceptions.

For example
"OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah Al Badri said he saw a risk of an oil price spike and supply shortages but said OPEC would do its utmost to avoid this."

I take this to not mean that the oil sellers change their sentiment to sell, but that he actually believes that there will be capacity problems. There is no way to produce and sell more at any price. One cannot have "supply shortage" in the relationship (the supply curve, if you will) itself between price and product sold. But one can have supply shortage in the actual physical capacity of product delievered. Which is not the same as the supply in the market.

Supply is a bad word for supply.

So thats my 10 øre ($0.02) worth of thoughts.

EDIT: Like in german, Angebot und Nachfrage: Offering (?) and Demand...

And demand is a bad word for demand. But we seem to be stuck with this unfortunate word with reference to the market for oil. And "well supplied" is a ridiculous phrase used by the Saudis to confuse as many people as possible.


Again I basically agree with your points-we are after all making the same ones,more or less.I'm saying the words supply and demnand have fixed technical defintions -which are incidentally as you point out, abstractions-when properly used by economists at least, and that the confusion arises when other people use different definitions.You have provided great examples.

Humpty Dumpty said that words mean what HE chooses them to mean when he uses them.

Many words of wisdom are buried in so called children's literature, which was often written as parody, sarcasm, of vieled criticism of the "the powers that were" of the author's time.

Many words of wisdom are buried in so called children's literature, which was often written as parody, sarcasm, of vieled criticism of the "the powers that were" of the author's time.

Some of it is timeless!

Paging Dr. Seuss, paging Dr. Seuss!


I had a plastic barrel filled with 400 lbs of rice and stuck away for hurricane/earthquake resilience purposes; however, my method of re-closing the barrel failed catastrophically and gave the local coconut rats an additional food source. By the time I discovered it, the population of rats had become conspicuously high, ten times normal.

I removed the remaining 100 lbs of rat-urine-soaked rice salted with rat poop, and will give it to anyone with low enough standards to eat it, on Craigslist. I have yet to find anything weird or degraded enough that someone on Craigslist doesn't want it for free. Anything this weird I require them to pick up on the bus or bicycle, too, to avoid burning half a tank of gas, and yes... people are nuts enough to drive from Honolulu to Kailua for free pooped-in rice. But I digress from the narrative.

Did the overpopulated rats have a supply problem or a demand problem?

Seems like question only seems to make sense in the context of fungible markers for wealth, which the rats - the best of my knowledge of ratty society - lacked. Short of a "Willard" scenario, who really cares what rats demand? And in the universal scheme of things, how are we much different than rats?

In this case, the invisible hand of the marketplace provided tasty grain cakes laced with anticoagulant and the rat population returned to baseline, leaving dim memories, perhaps, of the giant blue bin of plenty from god and the terrible plague of bleeding that followed its removal. More likely, the remaining rats don't care about anything but the present, and in that we seem to be pretty similar too.

We monkeys have demands of the universe. The universe is not necessarily obligated by this.

They have had CFL distribution programs in Pakistan.

Isn't it funny how I posted about China and the thread became one about Pakistan?

Is the Chinese energy crisis unmentionable or is there so little information about it no comments are possible?

It comes up fairly often on TOD actually. There have even been key-posts about it. Euan looked at Chinese coal production a few months ago in The Chinese Coal Monster - running out of puff

I personally think China has far greater production problems with coal and oil than they admit to.

The interesting thing about the report Reuters is publishing is that it is a compendium of regional reports into a national one. I looked through news archives about this from previous years and find regional reports instead of national ones. Of course there might be national ones in the past I have yet to find.


China's Guangdong faces severe power shortage

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Jim Bai; editing by Chris Johnson / Reuters / March 6, 2008

China's manufacturing hub, Guangdong province, will give heavy subsidies to small power producers and speed up the addition of new capacity to tackle a severe power crisis this year, an official said on Thursday. ... an estimated 10 GW shortfall at the peak ... The shortage exceeded an earlier forecast of 6.5 gigawatts ...(click on the title of this excerpt for more)

10 GW is larger than the current forecast for Guangdong

TABLE-China power shortage forecasts by region
Reporting by Jim Bai and Tom Miles; Editing by Chris Lewis / Reuters / Jun 15, 2011

... China appears to be heading for its worst power shortage since 2004 ..

... Guangdong 4.0-6.5 GW deficit ...

but the total of 42.87-47.87 GW deficit for the entire nation is pretty sizable.

How do they know that 2004 shortages were greater than those in 2008?

Does anyone have historical data for China's national power shortages?

I personally think China has far greater production problems with coal and oil than they admit to.

What was the position of the Texas Railroad Commission from, say, 1974 WRT oil production and when did it change?

How about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia WRT oil production?

(AKA - what Nation State is gonna admit a problem.)

Looking back at 2008 there were some interesting statements.

Coal shortage threatening power flow
REUTERS via The Standard / January 22, 2008

Coal shortages will cause a power deficit this year in southwest Guizhou province, which is a key electricity supplier for the nearby manufacturing hub of Guangdong, the China Southern Power Grid Corp said. ...

... The grid has reduced power outflows to Guangdong from Guizhou by 50 GW hours a day to boost local supply.

Pretty amazing to hear that Guangdong had a 10 GW shortage despite having 50 GW of supply cut. Did they manage to come up with alternative supply of 40 GW or did things average out to 10 GW shortfall or what?

That cut was 50 GWh per day, or about 2.1 GW.

No incandescent bulbs are still sold in India. Every single light I saw on my recent trip was a a CFL or a fluorescent tube. Indians are generally frugal by nature. However, several things have changed over the years:

  • 1. There are simply a lot more Indians. Every year when I visit, the cities feel more crowded than ever.
  • 2. Air conditioners used to be very rare but are now common. Chennai (Madras) feels a lot hotter than it used to probably because of the increased number of road vehicles and the reduced number of trees. Combine this with the easy availabiluty of air conditioners, you can see why power consumption would go up.

This is my favorite animation showing, among other things, how much faster India is making babies than any other country on earth:


Head of IEA pleads with Russia: join us to help solve energy price crisis

... Russia, along with China and India, already has observer status at the IEA but Tanaka said it would be a good thing if they became full members. Countries such as Indonesia and Mexico already want to become members, so "why not Russia?" he said.

... He believes Moscow is increasingly aware that it must preserve its hydrocarbon resources rather than burn through them in a generation, which is what is threatening to happen to the UK's North Sea reserves. But Tanaka is conscious that Gazprom and others do not like another of the IEA's goals: that all subsidies and price controls for fossil fuels should be phased out as quickly as possible.

Warning... Pleading with Russia... only hastens your beating.

Libya rebel oil chief says West failing insurgents

(Reuters) - Libya's rebel oil chief accused the West on Saturday of failing to keep up its promises to deliver urgent financial aid, saying his authority had now run out of cash completely after months of fighting.

Speaking to Reuters in a rare interview in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, oil and finance minister Ali Tarhouni said all crude oil production had now come to a standstill due to damage caused by the fighting.

"We don't have any (cash). We are running out of everything," he said. "It's a complete failure. Either they (Western nations) don't understand or they don't care."

He added: "We are not producing any oil because of the damage. I don't expect us to produce oil any time soon. The refineries have no crude oil, so they are not working."

Ok, now we are getting to the heart of the matter.

The developed world is bankrupt, people. How can you possibly expect it to finance the operations of the billions of people around the world who may or may not be associated with such and such group, all for the sake of getting a few more years of "peace" or oil production?

It's too late! Human beings screwed up. We failed to address population. We failed to address finance. We failed to address energy.

And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Let's pray, or hope, for our children's sake that we have enough collective memory to avoid WW3. That's probably the most we can do at this point.

It is laughable that the US is giving ammunition to France and England so they can continue thier sorties and that we (US) have so far spent $750 million in the Libya campaign (but we are cutting an equal amount from the program that feeds hungry children for a year). I read this morning in the Economist that less than half of the NATO countries that voted for intervention are participating. Last night on TV I saw US Defence Sec. Gates saying that the US will need to continue to be the "policeman of the world" for the forseeable future because no one else can afford the burden.

We've all gone mad.

It is laughable that the US is giving ammunition to France and England so they can continue thier sorties

The US sells arms - it doesn't give them away free to France and the UK. Just as France and the UK didn't give away arms for free to Libya but sold them instead. Now that we are blowing up everything we will need to sell the new government a whole lot more if Gaddafi would just do the decent thing and go away :-(

I said ammunition not arms but was still wrong! I misunderstood a statement that we were making up their shortfall. Yes we are selling ammunition to France and UK because they ran out. However what is true is that we are spending more than we intended because they are spending less. And it is all madness.

I'd say the ones saving their money and not participating are smart.

I'd say the US violating the UN Charter with a war of aggression against Libya has open the world to endless war against all nations for reasons that have nothing to do with the benefit of the American citizens.

Computer Glitch?


"They're infrequent, but the fact that they happen at all is puzzling. These are mission critical," Mann said. "The idea that they would fail is troubling."

While the airlines have sleek, modern check-in kiosks at the airports, the underlying reservation system behind them dates back to the 1980s, Mann said. Many airlines that went through bankruptcies in the past decade, including United, didn't invest in new systems.

When the system fails, flight plans and dispatch operations must all be done on paper.

"There are fewer and fewer people at airlines who are familiar with or able to operate with a manual system," Mann said.

Even if this was a 'glitch', it demonstrates how vulnerable many of our systems and processes are to malicious cyber attack.

A HEMP (High-Altitude ElectroMagnetic Pulse) event would also like cause certain disruptions.

But why bother with all that when an organization can achieve its goals by cyber-attack?

I hope that the government and industry have done their homework to protect SCADA systems.

The barn door is already open ...

US Warns of Problems in Chinese SCADA Software

Two vulnerabilities found in industrial control system software made in China but used worldwide could be remotely exploited by attackers, according to a warning issued on Thursday by the U.S. Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT).

The vulnerabilities were found in two products from Sunway ForceControl Technology, a Beijing-based company that develops SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) software for a wide variety of industries, including defense, petrochemical, energy, water and manufacturing, the agency said

DHS pdf: http://www.us-cert.gov/control_systems/pdf/ICSA-11-167-01.pdf

Nice to know our SCADA software comes from China - nothing bad could possibly come from that

Computers are great, allowing major improvements in efficiency and the processing of massive amounts of information very rapidly. But there's a downside, as we see from this comment in the article:

When the system fails, flight plans and dispatch operations must all be done on paper.

"There are fewer and fewer people at airlines who are familiar with or able to operate with a manual system," Mann said.

And, it's only going to get worse as our reliance on computers becomes greater every day. In the old days, (like, 5 years ago) one could repair a desktop or recover data from the hard drive. I recently worked on a couple of older HP laptops that had problems and there was no way to fix them except remove the HD and take it to a desktop to clone the data. What happens when your tablet computer dies? Where are the technicians who can/will go inside one of those and recover data???

E. Swanson

And how safe is the cloud?

Which cloud and which cloud provider?

Galileo is in a sense a cloud provider, since it provides airline reservation "Software as a Service" to multiple airline, probably including United. Don't know for sure, but my guess is it probably runs on Transaction Processing Facility on a number of mainframes in a small number of data centers. Since other airlines did not experience the problem, either United still runs its own clone or the problem is in UA's servers and networks that link to Galileo.

Galileo would be somewhat more secure than Facebook or Twitter.

Galileo would be somewhat more secure than Facebook or Twitter.

You'd be surprised..

I hope that the government and industry have done their homework to protect SCADA systems.

In the sense that infraguard says to do just that? Sure.

In the sense that most places don't do network monitoring, Infraguard was defaced by Lulzsec and how the SCADA hacking was canceled at Blackhat (or one of 'em) at the polite suggestion of the Government.... Nope.

A HEMP (High-Altitude ElectroMagnetic Pulse) event would also like cause certain disruptions.

Such an event doesn't HAVE to be a gift from one government to another...various stellar events can cause it.


Joseph Mangano is is the executive director of the Radiation And Public Health Project in New York, which is made of up scientists and health professionals.

there has been a recent spike, in infant deaths in Philadelphia, and Mangano says radioactive levels, in our water could be to blame.

After the explosion at the Fukushima power plant in Japan, radiation circled the globe, all the way to Pennsylvania.

Consider the root source of this news - FAUX NEWS

Speaking as a toxicologist and no lover of nuclear power; this tripe is simple fear mongering.

I agree with Seraph. I have seen an very similar news for another part of the globe. The claim was it was statistically significant, but my calculation demonstrated it was not. In addition, I must point out, that if you dived the globe in hundreds of regions, you will for certain get significant result at the 95% level in many places.

This is pure fear mongering misinformation. The Philadelphia water department press release on the EPA data puts this into perspective (http://www.phila.gov/water/pdfs/QA_Iodine131.pdf). Radiation levels in the water supply are at 2.2 picoCuries/liter. These infants would have to consume 600 liters just to get to background levels of radiation. And there are non-Japanese sources of I-131 in the water. Eating one banana gives you 3,500 picoCuries/kg from K-40 (http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/natural.htm).

Also, the alleged origin of the I-131 was Fukushima. Given that it would take between one and two weeks for the contamination to reach Philadelphia there is plenty of time for mixing to disperse the plume. So 1) the concentrations are tens of thousands times lower than at the origin point and 2) most of the other population centers in the US and Canada would receive similar amounts of fallout.

But, radioactive Iodine bio-accumulates in the tiny thyroid gland and a few other organs. Thus concentrating the damage.

Meanwhile the 460mg of potassium in a 118g banana consists of k-40 (0.0117%), K-39(93.26%), K-41(6.73%).
Of which K-39 and K-41 are stable and non-radioactive.

Doing the math... (6.022e+23 atoms per mole) * 0.460g(per serving) *0.000117(abundance) / 39.09g/mole(AtW) == 8.78e16 atoms of K-40 (per banana).

But, to calculate the radioactive(curie) content(one pCi = 2.2 decays per minute) one must divide by the half life(in minutes). 8.78e+16 K-40 atoms / 1.28e9(years)/365.24(days per year)/24/60/2(half life)/(2.2 pCi conversion) == 29.6 pCi per banana.

But, The amount of potassium is widely distributed throughout the body and excess amounts are excreted(very small little bio-accumulation factor). Thus consuming a banana does not change the overall amount of radioactive isotopes within a animal.

Now for the nasty bit. Most humans are iodine deficient, thus they have to tendency to conserve any iodine they consume for much longer period(years). Back in the days of atmospheric testing governments mandated hidden (clean) iodine supplementation to our food. Those supplementation programs are now long gone.

Unlike consuming slightly radioactive potassium which results in elimination of a similar amounts of slightly radioactive potassium(thus keeping radio-activity levels stable). The radioactive iodine being consumed, and a majority of it is being concentrated/conserved in a thyroid gland weighting in at 10 to 30g.

This results in a relative bio concentration factor of 5,000 to 15,000 based on body mass, times an extended iodine retention factor of 5 to 20 (depends on ones average iodine uptake). Thus even a small amount of radioactive iodine.. 2.2pCi/liter is multiplied 25,000 to 300,000 times in localized damage to a thyroid gland.

As one can see from the math. A glass of I-131 contaminated water is far more dangerous than a banana.

Not to mention that the Iodine after breaking down breaks down some more with 971 keV of energy and that breakdown releases gamma radiation.

But hey, this industrial failure will provide plenty of live human data as to why Fission Power is a failure.

WTI vs Asian Benchmark Tapis

WTI vs Tapis Spot

WTI    $93.01
Tapis $121.21
Diff   $28.20

At the start of January the price was approx the same (about $1 diff), by 1st March the difference was about $15 and now we are closing in on $30 dollars a barrel difference.

The WTI "benchmark" is so broken that continuing to flash it up on Bloomberg and CNBC every few seconds is like some kind of bizarre Psy-Op.

Would also be nice if TOD could step up efforts to find some other suitable charts for the right margin as well, even if that involved doing a little bit of programming to generate the charts with 15 min delayed data, if you can't find one that doesn't require flash.

That is a great chart!

You can see why Canadian oil companies are eager to build pipelines to the west coast for export into the Asian market!

I don't think it is a case that WTI is "broken", it is just that it is now an indicator of the midwest price of oil the world oil price is now Brent, Dubai and Tapis. But the MSM don;t want to admit that the US oil pricing is irrelevant to the rest of the world.

Wonder what the reaction will be when Brent switches to being priced in Euros?

Well it's "broken" as a world benchmark which is what they display it as, as if it still is. It's not even reflecting average US price. Louisiana Sweet is currently $112.51 - that's $19.50 above WTI. Alaska North Slop is $108.21 or $15.20 above WTI.

I consider it to be broken because of the lack of capacity to actually get oil out of Cushing as compared to the incoming capacity.

Tow – Maybe what’s broken is the concept folks are holding as to what the various benchmarks represent. Above all else none of them represent the price of any oil being sold anywhere in the world. As it often appears to be posted, the WTI “price” is the 30 -day out future price. It neither represents what price I just sold a load of my WTI for or what I’ll be selling a load for in 30 days when that contract expires. “Brent” is not the price any bbl of oil is being sold for anywhere else in the world including oil from the N. Sea. The problem for the MSM is that no one knows how much any oil is being sold at any one moment. Even when someone posts the spot price for oil it doesn’t mean much oil is being sold at exactly that price. Two tankers might have left the KSA yesterday with the exact same 2 million bbls and quality of oil. And the difference in cost to the two different buyers might be $10+ million. All prices are negotiable and are seldom as simple as $X/bbl.

Or put another way: today XX millions of bbls of oil were purchased. Anyone want to offer how much money was exchanged in the process? Now that would be really intersting plot: the daily exchange of money for oil plotted over the last 30 years...or even the last 2 years.

Rock, I agree with what you say but until relatively recently it was reasonable to use WTI as a general benchmark for world crude prices with the understanding that various grades would trade at a fairly predictable discount or premium. The EIA calculates what they say is the average price actually paid for oil in the US and worldwide and that's been consistently over $100 dollars in the US since March. The average world price (according to the EIA is about $5 above the US average price and $4 below Brent. Both US and especially world prices are diverging so far from WTI that it is pretty much meaningless as a general oil-price indicator for the general public or investor. Not even New York Harbour RBOB gasoline trends with WTI any more but is more closely pegged to Brent.

So yes I fully understand there is no one "price" but if you have to pick one indicator to flash up on screen constantly as "THE OIL PRICE" then WTI is no longer the right pick it seems to me. The way things are going WTI will be free by the end of the year but the average world price will be about $200 :-)

Brent is available on the Bloomberg web site and is a reasonable proxy for imports to the East Coast or Gulf of Mexico terminals. Imports from the Arab countries on the Persian Gulf are benchmarked against the Argus Sour Crude Index.

Yes, I know where to find all the prices online. It's the fact that an increasingly misleading indicator is splattered at everyone (including TOD on every page) that I'm complaining about, when better (but obviously not perfect) indicators are available.

Here's WTI vs Louisiana Sweet

Divergence to anything like this extent has never happened before..

tow/Merrill: that's exactly my point. So the price of Brent is $X/bbl. How many bbls of Brent were sold yesterday? Was 90% of the oil sold yesterday Brent? Was 20% of the oil sold yesterday more like Vz heavy/sour which sells for a good bit less than Brent or WTI. Is the majority of the crude sold in the world more like Vz nasty or Brent? Or how about this: total global oil sold yesterday/total price paid = what? Brent? 90% Brent? 75% Brent? 110% Brent? We all understand weighted average so what does the "Brent price" represent? Weighted average, medium price, a rough approximation or is that the price of a 30-day Brent future contract that will have little or no bearing on what a bbl of Brent will sell for tomorrow?

But at the end of the day what implication is being made about the "price of oil"? If the world bought 83 million bbls of oil yesterday did it spend 83 million X Brent? Or a little more? A lot less? More important: what price is important to either of you: Brent or WTI at Cushing? Or is it La sweet that matters more to you? If you're buying gasoline in OK I suspect you care about nothing more than Cushing WTI. And if you had a refinery in China running 450,000 bbls/day of Vz heavy/sour that you're paying way less than the spot price it's selling for to the rest of the world? Remember a few years ago China cut a long term DISCOUNTED contract with Vz in exchange for China building special tankers and refineries specifically designed to handle that nasty stuff. And no: neither China nor Vz will offer details of that trade.

And even if we just look at trend changes instead of absolute prices? Remember these are future prices being thrown out by many folks and the MSM. Recently a lot of folks had been bidding those futures up...looks like they missed the mark and just got slaughtered. Again, a simple question: if you just invested your life savings in WTI 30 day futures you couldn't care less about Brent future prices. And if your refinery is set up to run Vz heavy/sour for the next 24 months you couldn't care less what Brent futures or actual oil will be trading at for the next couple of years.

Again a very simple question no one has yet to answer: how much did the world’s economy pay for oil yesterday? A month ago? A year ago? With all the TODsters who appear to understand oil pricing I anticipate answers any minute. I’ll even make it easier. Forget the absolute numbers: the world spent more or less for total oil sales yesterday than it did 4 months ago?


Here's what the EIA says is the average world oil price (weekly average).

Latest listed value is $111.44 for week ending 3rd June.

And here's WTI weekly average

For week ending 3rd June price $100.92. Historically the average "real price" of oil worldwide (at least according to the EIA) has been very close to WTI - in fact WTI used to trade at a slight premium to average world price. The strong divergence only really begins to appear at the start of 2011. There have been periods where WTI has diverged before but never to this extent.

Also found this from a few months ago and the spread has got much worse since then.

Brent-WTI spread broken: analyst

According to a recent research note from Barclay Capital: “Currently, WTI spreads are so far away from any sustainable equilibrium that they imply a mounting degree of market breakdown.”

Walter Zimmermann, vice-president and chief technical analyst at United-Icap, says the Brent-WTI spread is broken and has “lost its moorings”. “And when a big ship has lost its moorings it can be pushed about by the slightest breeze. With a strong enough gale the ship is easily wrecked,” he wrote in a report published this week.

ROCKMAN: More important: what price is important to either of you: Brent or WTI at Cushing?

Umm, neither?

It was really the Canadian pipeline companies which broke the relationship between WTI and Brent, Dubai, Tapis, etc. by building a huge amount of excess pipeline capacity to Cushing, OK. At the time they built it, many analysts thought they were crazy, but it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, because Cushing is the main US market hub.

Now that they've wrecked the WTI market, the pipeline companies really should do something about it, i.e. move the oil to some port and ship it to some other market, but building the pipelines to do that is going to take time. NIMBYism and government approval delays are the main stumbling blocks. However, the amount of money not being made is getting to be huge. I did some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations and figure Canadian oil producers are now losing $10 to $20 billion a year on the price differentials.

What it does illustrate, though, is that there is a sea change developing in global oil markets. Saudi Arabia claims to have the largest oil reserves in the world, while Canada claims to be second. I've checked the Canadian numbers, and found that Canadian reserves are understated - there's at least twice as much oil there as claimed. OTOH, although the Saudi data is a state secret and can't be checked, I suspect their reserves are overstated. In both cases the reasons are probably political.

In reality, Saudi reserves are probably less than Canada's, and I think that is going to become painfully apparent in the next few years when KSA fails to meet their production targets. OTOH, Canadian oil production will continue to increase slowly into the indefinite future.


Have you given any thought as to how wide the spread can get? In theory what's to stop WTI falling all the way to zero or even negative if there is always more supply than demand? It really happened briefly in the UK that wholesale natural gas prices went negative intra-day during a full-flow test of the Langeled pipeline from Norway to the UK a few years ago.

Well nobody mentioned this so I will: to me it looks like someone or some group made a very huge bet on the price of oil to fall - starting about the beginning of May, although that has moderated a little lately.

Apparently most everyone here who thinks speculators influence markets thinks they can only drive up prices, but not only is it possible to drive down prices in the short run, markets have a tendency to fall quicker than they go up - giving an opportunity for a speculative group to conduct a 'bear raid'.

I'm not saying speculators have much of an influence in the long run, but in the short run, they can. Eventually the price of WTI vs. everything else will get so out of whack that there will be all sorts of ways to profit by transporting WTI elsewhere - or not sending it there in the first place.

For example, the Tulsa port that recently starting sending WTI by barge is set to make very large profits, once flooding ends.

Flooding reduces numbers at Tulsa Port of Catoosa

Published: 6/17/2011 2:43 AM



Any comments on this

Local Gas Shortage Leaves Driver on Empty

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Only a month ago, drivers were hunting for the cheapest gas in town. Now they're just looking for gas. Yellow bags are on pumps all over the Mid-South, and the fuel shortage has drivers fuming.

One gas pump after another was the same. The yellow bags, inoperable pumps, and lack of gasoline have drivers full of frustration.

The short supply is not just here in Memphis, it's a problem throughout Shelby County.

The major supplier of fuel in the area is Valero refining. They've had some major maintenance issues and it has slowed down their production. Valero's problem began last Thursday, which in turn limited the supply. As a result, contractual consumers were given priority and full loads for their supply continued, but non-contractual consumers could only receive partial loads.

Exxon also has a large fuel distribution in Shelby County. But because of April flooding that shut down its operations, most of their consumers demanded supply from Valero because of local convenience. Those consumers were considered non-contractual.

"Any comments on this"

I think I'm turning Pakistani,
I think I'm turning Pakistani,
I really think so...

The global markets are breaking up.

From today's Mish:

UK Banks Abandon Eurozone; Greek PM Seeks Constitutional Changes; Trichet Blames Everyone but Europe for Global Imbalances; Credit Crunch Coming Up?


Like SamSam said, ""The old rules do not apply post-peak." And know one knows what the new rules will be.

Here's PADD 2 (which includes shortage hit Memphis) current gasoline stocks.

The Valero refinery mentioned was fully or partially offline for almost a week, which added to the problems in that area caused by flooding - apparently preventing outside supplies from flowing into that region.

Even though their problems will probably diminish soon, it does serve as an example that some parts of the country have gasoline supplies not much at all above minimum operating levels (MOLs) - and the slightest problem can result in the onset of shortages. This is especially true when states require special 'summer blends' of gasoline.

A similar problem exists in the Chicago area. The Chicago Tribune offered some additional insight into the near gasoline shortage situation that I discussed here a few weeks ago.

High taxes, summer fuel rules a potent formula for elevated gasoline prices

By Gregory Karp, Tribune reporter

June 19, 2011
Why are Chicagoland gasoline prices so high?

The problem is, if a primary producer of Chicago-blend gasoline has a mishap and must shut down production temporarily, like the Exxon Mobil plant did last month, there's quickly a shortage of gasoline because refineries elsewhere are not making it.

"On a good day, the system works great, and we get cleaner fuel with not much price impact," Sykuta said. "The problem with this system is it's calibrated really finely. … If something goes wrong with this handful of refineries, it can be a real problem getting Chicago reformulated (gas) in here."


There are limits to how wide the price spread can get because beyond a certain point it is cost-effective to move the oil to port by railway. We're already past that point because it can be done for as little as $6 per barrel versus a price spread of $20 or more.

Interestingly, CN Rail is spending $400 million to buy and upgrade four short-line railways in Northern Alberta. CN happens to have rail lines connecting them to seaports on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts.

Alberta Shortline Rail Acquisitions

Rail investments key to economic growth in oil sands and other natural resource regions of northern Alberta

EDMONTON, Alta., June 16, 2011 — Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN (TSX: CNR)(NYSE: CNI), said today the company will have invested almost C$400 million to buy and rehabilitate four short-line railways serving resource-rich regions of northern Alberta by year-end 2011.

See also Ship Your Crude Oil Products on CN’s PipelineOnRail™

PipelineOnRail™ is an economically sound, surprisingly fast way to ship crude oil products within Alberta, to the rest of Canada, the U.S. Midwest, the Gulf coast, and other export markets.

Not that CN is alone in this idea. Canadian Pacific, BNSF, Union Pacific, and Kansas City Southern are also starting to move unit trains of crude oil south.

It was really the Canadian pipeline companies which broke the relationship between WTI and Brent, Dubai, Tapis, etc. by building a huge amount of excess pipeline capacity to Cushing, OK.

Yep, and it was the Keystone pipeline, in particular that broke this camel's back. From Trans-Canada Pipelines;

Keystone Pipeline Project

The U.S. $13 billion Keystone pipeline system will play an important role in linking a secure and growing supply of Canadian crude oil with the largest refining markets in the United States, significantly improving North American security supply.

In June 2010 TransCanada commenced commercial operation of the first phase of the Keystone Pipeline System. Keystone's first phase was highlighted by the conversion of natural gas pipeline to crude oil pipeline and construction of an innovative bullet line that brings the crude oil non-stop from Canada to market hubs in the U.S. Midwest.

Keystone Cushing (Phase II), an extension of the Keystone Pipeline from Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma went into service in February 2011. The 36-inch pipeline connects to storage and distribution facilities at Cushing, a major crude oil marketing/refining and pipeline hub.

So a big new way to get oil into Cushing, but no new ways to get it out = market flooded.

Unit train of tanker rail cars from Cushing OK to Port Arthur TX could take 50,000 barrels per train. Two trains per day = 100,000 bpd. Round trip = 1,000 miles, train speed 20 mph, turnaround 2 days each way, total round trip time= 146 hours or 6 days. Therefore need 6 x 2 or 12 trains at 90 tanker cars per train or 1,080 tanker rail cars for 100,000 bopd.

Cost per barrel approx. $3.00 per barrel at 2 cents per ton-mile plus terminal trans-shipment fees plus car rental fees. Say $6.00 maximum cost per barrel. Differential between Cushing and Gulf Coast is at least 3 times this amount.

Can't anyone round up 1,000 tanker rail cars for sale or rent???

Oops, my bad for not checking , Oklahoma State Railroad map shows nearest railroads to Cushing are 20 miles away to the Stillwater Central or the BNSF. Unless there are pipeline connections from Cushing to a railroad or a river barge trans-shipment terminal, it would be difficult to bypass the clogged pipelines.

Draying 20 miles is not that expensive (loading and unloading the trucks will take as much time as driving).

In one case I know, a sand pit with good sand for fracing hauls it by truck 24 miles to BNSF rather than a mile to CN. There is that much difference in rates. Someone in BNSF Marketing "made a deal".

And laying a 20 mile spur rail line or pipeline is a viable option.

Best Hopes,


EOG Resources built a 17-mile pipeline from Cushing, OK to Stroud, OK and a tankcar unloading facility at Stroud. It started operation in January this year.

Because current crude oil production in North Dakota exceeds the existing pipeline takeaway capacity, EOG developed the crude by rail concept and agreed to a strategic transportation arrangement with BNSF Railway and the Stillwater Central Railroad. The initial target for EOG’s rail system is one unit train per day with a maximum capacity of 60,000 gross barrels of oil per train...

Now, this solves the specific problem of getting ND oil to Cushing, but I suspect the problem of getting Cushing oil to the Gulf Coast is equally solvable.

Also, Cushing had rail service until 1982, when the line was abandoned. They could just put the tracks back in.

Once loaded, I would keep that tankcar unit train rolling till it reached the Gulf Coast. And make it two/day or more.


Stature and robusticity during the agricultural transition: Evidence from the bioarchaeological record


The population explosion that followed the Neolithic revolution was initially explained by improved health experiences for agriculturalists. However, empirical studies of societies shifting subsistence from foraging to primary food production have found evidence for deteriorating health from an increase in infectious and dental disease and a rise in nutritional deficiencies. In Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture (Cohen and Armelagos, 1984), this trend towards declining health was observed for 19 of 21 societies undergoing the agricultural transformation. The counterintuitive increase in nutritional diseases resulted from seasonal hunger, reliance on single crops deficient in essential nutrients, crop blights, social inequalities, and trade. In this study, we examined the evidence of stature reduction in studies since 1984 to evaluate if the trend towards decreased health after agricultural transitions remains. The trend towards a decrease in adult height and a general reduction of overall health during times of subsistence change remains valid, with the majority of studies finding stature to decline as the reliance on agriculture increased. The impact of agriculture, accompanied by increasing population density and a rise in infectious disease, was observed to decrease stature in populations from across the entire globe and regardless of the temporal period during which agriculture was adopted, including Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and North America.

More evidence that agriculture is bad for humans.

Your argument that agriculture is bad for humans depends entirely on the value judgement that health and stature matter-a more impartial observer would note that humans who practice agriculture are much more numerous than hunter gatherers.

Of course I basically agree with your point-primitive people living as hunter gatherers were probably on average much healthier-also much fewer in numbers per acre- than people practicing primitive agriculture.

My personal guess is that a mixed economy would have been optimal-some farming but also some hunting and gathering still being practiced.

Unfortunately, agriculture generally works so well it crowds out hunting and gathering.

It only works with raping the environment, and practicing biocide, topsoil destruction, depleting fossil aquifers, creating dead zones, etc.

Next to the domestication of wheat, the Haber Process was biggest mistake of humans.

The Most Significant Persons of the 20th Century, according to Nature

agriculture generally works ...
It only works with raping the environment, and practicing biocide, topsoil destruction, depleting fossil aquifers, creating dead zones, etc.

Now the cowman and the farmer can be friends here.

Permaculture is agriculture and doesn't seem to have all the hightrekker negatives.

Some claim the rainforests were human managed permaculture at one time - an interesting claim to be sure.

It might be a lot more complicated.

What I have read about pre-agricultural societies suggests that without agriculture there is little personal ownership of land, more like tribal areas. Without personal ownership there is little opportunity to enrich oneself. Settled communities of farmers tend to become hierarchical so that a concentration of wealth accumulates to a small elite. From this comes capital investment, cities, armies, technical improvements to agriculture, population, etc. The concentrations also tend to foster increased incidence of disease and violence. Catch-22.

How Siberia will feed power-hungry China

... Eastern Siberia already generates more power than it needs. So why the plans for even more hydro-electric stations?

The answer lies in the huge market for electricity in China, several hundred kilometres away. China has asked Russia to supply it with 60 billion kWh/year by 2020 - enough to power all of Greece or Hong Kong.

Fukushima: It's much worse than you think

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

..."The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl."

"We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters."

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

Radioactive air filters in cars? Well at least we have lungs to filter the air that we breathe. Oh, wait... And what's up with this? (scroll down to video) A bad night at Units 3 and 4 not too long ago (June 16).

TEPCO: cleanup system could take time

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it may take several days before a system to decontaminate highly radioactive water accumulating in the facility can be restarted.

...TEPCO says it may have absorbed larger-than-expected amounts of radioactive materials along with oil. The utility is now working on measures to solve the issue.

TEPCO says the effort will require time. In addition, depending on the situation, it may have to reconsider the working of the entire system and examine the effect of radioactivity emitted from nearby pipes.

There are concerns that the highly radioactive water may overflow in around one week if no measures are taken.

Saturated the ion-exchange resin in a couple of hours, then oil-fouled it so it can't be regenerated?

Joy. My advice is to drink heavily.

Why don't they use centrifuge technology to get the heavy stuff out, like with the oil?

A wood fuelled country, no oil required...

Most people here probably know that in WW2, many European vehicles were converted to run on woodgas, and Sweden seems to have been the leader in this field. This was actually a real world case of a large scale biofuel rollout in a short time during the first "peak oil". At their peak, there were estimated to be over a million vehicles in Europe running on woodgas - more than the number of vehicles running on ethanol in the US today.

I came across this fascinating old video (7 minutes) on YouTube that was a WW2 Swedish newsreel to promote the use of woodgas.


Video is narrated in Swedish, perhaps Leiten or Jedi Welder or our other Swedish contributors can offer some comments on this?

It is quite amazing to see the level of sophistication, and mass production, achieved - everything from cars to milk trucks running on factory made gasifiers, - showing what can be done, when a country really has to get something done.

If anyone ever says that converting vehicles to CNG is too much trouble, or the gas tanks take up too much space, or the range is too short, etc, show them this!

The last half of the video shows, if nothing else, that the basic pattern for car commercials - idyllic couple going for idyllic drive on an idyllic day, on a road devoid of other cars, was established 70 years ago!

Though I would not do what the guy does at 4:44 - stand upwind when refueling your gasifier! Still, it is amazing that, when driving on wood, you can stop, chop up any wood that happens to be around, even green stuff, load up, and carry on!

While running a car on wood is clearly an inconvenience, it shows what people will do to keep driving, and that in the days before they were truly addicted to cars! Still, they did achieve oil independence, and that in itself is amazing, and, on a country/ or city scale, is yet to be repeated.

A remarkable example of innovation, for sure.

However, I shudder to think of us all denuding the land of all the trees to heat our homes, run our vehicles, etc.

Your remark about this historical achievement showing that converting some vehicles to CNG should be feasible seems reasonable.

There has been a poster here who enlightened us that diesel engines can run on CNG and diesel, with most the the energy coming from CNG. Perhaps this can be a way to extend our use of trains.

I don't think it will be all of us, just the ones thinking differently... like the people zipping by everyone on the stalled freeway by driving on the empty surface streets (perhaps that is an L.A. thing).

Those folk back then weren't stupid. Working around Hubble's original telescope on Mt. Wilson; the 100" floats on mercury bearings, is supported by thoroughly modern looking concrete structure, tracked the sky with a giant clockwork mechanism, and has a dome, rotating on railroad tracks, made by a shipbuilding company, all dating from 1917.

I wonder if they would have made this mistake:
The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor... shutdown since a 3.3-ton device (fell) into the reactor’s inner vessel... The plant, a $12 billion project... to recover the device would cost almost $21.9 million... the 3.3-ton fuel relay device fell into the pressure vessel when a loose clutch gave way. In the two decades since the reactor started tests in 1991, the atomic energy agency has managed to generate electricity at the reactor only for one full hour. As early as next week, workers will try to remove the device by dismantling a part of the vessel’s lid with it. “The device will definitely come out this time,”

So, they dropped an assembly into the reactor vessel when a clutch slipped. An X of I-beams would have kept it from going through the hole. An elevator emergency brake would have stopped the slipping lift system. Both are well within 1917 thinking and technology. I wonder if the kids who designed it ever even saw a steel mill?

Remember, fast neutron reactors are going to make waste, safe.

"Trust Us"


The military is turning up the tempo regarding energy use.

On 7 July (2011) GEN David H. Petraeus signed a memo directing commanders throughout his organization to make energy informed, risk based decisions on aviation and vehicle operations, base camp design, power and water generation and distribution.

Commanders are also directed to ensure their personnel consider the first and second order effects of day-to-day fuel use.

I have seen these memos and commander-emphasis items regarding energy conservation come and go.

I talk often with GS-15s (Federal civil servant equivalent 'rank' to a full colonel or O-6), GS-14s, GS-13s,and on down the grades, and including the occasional SES (Senior Executive Servant [General-Officer equivalent]), and their active duty military equivalents.

Most (>90%) of these folks I talk to have zero worries about limited supplies of fossil fuels.

Many espouse the thinking that high gasoline prices are due to lefty enviro-nazi/socialist plots or perhaps also due to speculation. Many of these folks follow Limbaugh and Beck et al.

One GS-15 told me that "there are oil fields in the South China Sea that dwarf all of KSA".

Another said "I don't think we have to worry about running short of oil, NG, and coal for a long. long time".

A Lt Col told me that "We have enough oil to last for millions of years". He was of the mind that oil is abiotic and provided by God for man's dominion over the Earth.

I do not make up or embellish any of this...these are almost direct verbatim quotes. Not just point anecdotes...over 24 years, from folks at many different bases, ranks, experiences, services...in the military.

Even if Petraeus 'gets it', most of his flock is on a completely different page.

It can get to be very disheartening...there is no 'awakening' towards Limits to Growth among the uniformed military and also not among DoD civilians or DoD contractors. American exceptionalism...God provides to his chosen flock, free market unleashed will provide, drill, baby, drill, why don't we abolish the EPA and then our economy will finally grow...it doesn't stop.

Sure, there are folks in the MIC who think differently (you are reading words from one of them), but they are, by my guess, ~10-15% of the population.

The song remains strange.

My co-author has talked to the editor of the Joint Force Quarterly (publication of the Nat'l Defense University) and they are interested in an article on strategic vulnerability (and solutions) of the Home Front to a severe and prolonged oil shortfall. (Cause unspecificed).

Best Hopes for the MIC,



That is a good thing.

However, I stand by my assertion: The few at the top who may be starting to 'get it' are separated by a vast, wide and deep gulf from at least 80% of the 99% of the folks below theeir paygrade.

Go to Military Treatment Facilities (hospitals, clinics) or MPFs (Military Personnel Flights, or billeting check-in desk areas, and almost invariably, Fox News is the channel playing, and lots of luck trying to change the channel yourself or asking that another news channel be played, even on a proportional basis over the course of the day.

For many folks in the MIC, if Fox News says it, it is Gospel. Same with Rush et al.

None of these 'information sources' 'Get it' wrt energy, limits-to-growth, etc.

I regularly read JFQ, AFQ, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs magazines, Aviation Week, Janes Defense News, etc.

The one military-related magazine which stands out as sometimes printing articles that are against the mainstream thinking is: Proceedings, published by the Naval Institute.

This is all very scary stuff to those of us not inside the belly of the best (which is actually the vast majority of Americans).

I strongly believe that when push comes to shove, the military will take over this sprawling, ungovernable nation. The final, inevitable result of what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. What other choice do we have?



Actually, I do not think a military coup in the U.S. would be very likely.

I think the military would fracture if such an idea was attempted or even seriously talked about.

As out of touch with sustainability issues as many of the military folks seem to be, I do not think that there would be a unified support for a ruling Junta/coup.

Troop-on-troop, 'brother-v-brother' chaos would result. In the end the traumatized Republic would stand, the military would be smaller, and there would be a lot of firing squads for the rebels/traitors.

Let us all work to be better than this.

"the military would fracture if such an idea was attempted or even seriously talked about".

That's pretty much the premise of Brian Wood's "DMZ".


It would indeed be chaos, but I find it hard to imagine that some sort of widespread violence / insurrection would not result when the cognitive dissonance starts to kick in as energy prices really start to kick off. When you and your family's going hungry and all you have is an M4 carbine, all thanks to <scapegoat du jour according to Fox and the TP>, everything looks like a target.

AFJ put out an excellent edition three years ago:

Danny Davis (now Lt. Col.) has done excellent work and was scheduled to speak at ASPO-Washington but got stuck in Afghanistan and had to cancel. I hope he can make it this year.

AFJ Forum has had an Energy Security thread for a few years:

CNA has done some progressive work, including sponsoring Energy Conversation:

We can only imagine the discussion among Bundeswehr top brass as to whether to approve the public release of their strongly worded report on PO:

Thanks for suggesting Proceedings... I was not aware of that one.


I have heard that the delivered cost of generator fuel to a forward base is greater than $100/gallon. Not counting the price in lives and wounded for those guarding the fuel convoys.


6/8 - Eight NATO tankers destroyed in Pakistan blast

6/9 - Militants Destroyed A NATO Oil Tanker In Khyber Agency

6/13 - Afghan militants destroy 20 NATO tankers

6/14 - 7 NATO tankers destroyed in Pakistan

6/17 - Three NATO tankers gutted in separate attacks

The fuel for the troops in Afghanistan is trucked overland from the Indian Ocean ports through hostile territory (Pakistan).

And if we stay in Afghanistan for ten, or twenty more years, what would be different there?

President Obama needs to show great courage and start a substantive withdrawal of American troops and contractors in July.

The era of the attempted Worldwide American Empire is drawing to a close.

The ideas from the Project for a New American Century have been proven wanting and intellectually, morally, and operationally bankrupt.

And Bankrupt is what the U.S. will be if we don't get our collective heads screwed on straight and take care of things at home. We can't be the garrison force for Europe's and Japan's oil flow from the ME any more. And we would be foolish to engage militarily in Africa in the quest for more oil...

We're already there, and nothing is changing. That tells me alot.

Let's see Japan is broke, EU is broke, US is broke. China has money but also has pollution and over population.

Resource deletion and over population are rough on everybody.

Just curious if there are any economic geologists who post or lurk that might be interested in commenting on this item:


"One survey of earth scientists found that while 97 per cent of actively publishing climate scientists agree humans are changing global temperatures, only 47 per cent of economic geologists (those who study geology with a view to its commerical exploitation) concur (pdf). In fact, among all earth scientists, economic geologists are the most sceptical."

Thanks in advance for any thoughts (and try to keep it civil, boys and girls).

I was at a seminar given by a physical geologist on the subject of the snowball earth. When I raised the fact that basic energy balance models show that the equator was not locked in ice he responded by dismissing models out of hand. This demonstrated to me a total lack of appreciation for fundamental governing equations that govern physical processes. They allow you to quantify effects (via numerical solution methods), what no amount of gut feeling and "intuition" can ever hope to achieve. It appears to me like a lot of geology is qualitative study of rock morphology. They don't know anything about radiative transfer. Maybe CO2 gets removed by chemical weathering on the timescale of millions of years, but that is totally irrelevant for AGW and its impacts such as extinctions.

I've noticed the geologists are pretty skeptical myself. They have plenty of evidence of climate change long before people showed up, much less the industrial age. So if you frame the argument as "Humans are the sole cause of climate change" you lose them before you get started. Although people here don't make that claim (please don't prove me wrong) it has been made enough elsewhere to poison the well.

Another likely contributing factor is that the entire fossil fuel extraction age will end up an inch-thick layer of rock in some future cliff. That point of view makes it hard to take anything humans do very seriously.

That point of view makes it hard to take anything humans do very seriously.

We are in only the 6th mass extinction in 3.5 billion years, and it is human caused.
I would not discount humans effect on the Planet.
The last one was 65 million years ago, and mammals were not the major mega fauna on Earth.

Pv – Just a guess but I suspect I know more geologists then all of the folks of TOD combined. And I can’t think of one who doesn’t think the industrial age hasn’t had an impact on the climate. And remember the vast majority are oil company geologists. Maybe it because we’ve studied prehistoric climate changes many magnitudes greater than anything offered today re: AGW. Heck: mile high Denver used to be under a nice warm sea full of coral reefs at one time. That easily trumps a 3 m sea level rise.

On a personal level I grew up below sea level in New Orleans. And even if there had never been a single human on the planet the city would eventually be under many meters of the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t alter behaviors that are accelerating the process. But IMHO we won’t. People will chose their self interest over that of generations yet born. I expect coal to become an increasing portion of our energy mix at least for the next 30+ years. Also consider the pragmatic argument many folks don’t like to address: no one alive today will be adversely affected by sea level rises 100 years down the road. And someone born in a 100 years probably won’t care much about submerged lands that were above sea level 100 years earlier. They don’t today. Which is why folks have figured out the debate needed to change to current catastrophic climate events if they have any hope of changing anyone’s mind. Having your beach front house going under water 50 years after you die isn’t going to worry most folks. But getting wiped out in a record breaking hurricane in a few years might. But, again IMHO, they’ll be more concerned about being able to afford keeping the AC running in that beach house. This will still over ride other concerns.

the entire fossil fuel extraction age will end up an inch-thick layer of rock in some future cliff.

You think it will be an inch thick? How about a micro-layer discoverd in ten million years by geologists and anthropologists that spend countless hours trying to reconstruct our civilization from bits of oily aluminum foil, petrified McDonald's fries, granules of Michelin tire tread, specks of baggy garments and shattered electronic chips.

"These people wore baggy cloths, had a horrendously poor diet, spent countless hours fidgeting with simpleton electronic gadgets and spewed carbon into the atmosphere with reckless abandon! It was a time period reflective of a lack of consciousness. To think we are descendents of that culture is difficult for us to comprehend, yet we must all understand those were our roots."

In 10 million years it will be the descendents of today's raccoons, not us, doing the archeology.


way to go Alan!

I have long suspected that the raccoons are holding a very strong hand in the evolutionary rat race.

There is a reason it's called the Rat Race. The fix is already in. Look for the 'coons to take third. Roaches second, as Rat will carry one across the finish line.

I'm betting on cephalopods and they'll be exploring the sea floor for the remnants of our coastal cities... Their conclusion will be that primates caused a mass extinction in marine fauna.

Sea cucumbers!
Sea cucumbers have five major nerves radiating from a central neural ring. This could evolve into a five-lobed brain with full democratic voting fault-checking and/or concurrency: a decent engine. Unlike the bilaterally "symmetric" human brain that has been grossly compromised, especially in the male, with lateral specialization of functions and thereby suffering a sparse redundancy. If it was a real brain, when you popped the skull-cap, you'd be looking down on five identical divisions of the neocortex!

This could evolve into a five-lobed brain with full democratic voting fault-checking and/or concurrency.

The real world tends to select against democracy as a decision-making tool. It may be currently selecting against brains, as well.

Unfortunately, being extremely temperamental, there are perhaps even more likely than humans to foul their own environment. Doesn't take much provocation before you have evisceration, Cuvierian tubule ejection, even the dreaded holothurin bomb (known to seawater aquarium enthusiasts as the "cuke nuke") ;)

If you like echinoderms, the stelleroids (sea stars and brittle stars) are vicious, capable predators. We could even argue about whether this type of aggressiveness is a prerequisite to developing intelligence. They don't become basically functionally immortal after reaching a large enough size, as appears to be the case for the echinoids, but that condition probably does not lend itself to strong selection pressures for developing intelligence, either. Perhaps the echinoderms already missed their chance--there were fully 20 classes in the Paleozoic, of which only the familiar five survived the Permian.

Wow. Thank you! Life is wonderful, isn't it? Here are some of these creatures. Who needs space-aliens? We've got 'em right here:

Humans have managed to breed some very smart dogs. Without people around, there will be a direct contest between dogs and 'coons and we know dogs can kill 'coons rather easily. It's not at all clear which will become the next top predator. After that, the long term winners will be the smartest survivors, not necessarily the best hunter/killers...

E. Swanson

Curiosity is, IMVHO, also essential. Intelligence alone will not create technological advances.


After having seen how well coons can use thier paws as proto hands, and considering thier climbing ability, foraging ability, and varied diet, this dog lover is putting his money on the coons.

It also occurs to me that coons can rapidly evolve to grow to larger sizes.

Ir takes a big, tough dog to kill a fair sized coon-the odds are even for a standoff until the dog is at least three to four times as big as the coon.A forty to fifty pound dog has little to no chance at all with a big boar coon-it is apt to put the DOG up a tree.

I'm not into the sport myself, but my Daddy is an inveterate coon hunter, and I have seen many dog and coon fights.Gotta humor him of course and go with him occasionally.

Of course the coon's preferred strategy is to sit comfortably up a tree while the dog wears itself out baying and bouncing around, until the dog eventually gets tired and hungry and thirsty and wanders off.

I agree that the rats and roaches are strong competitors, but it would probably take nearly forever for roaches to evolve intoi ann intelligent species, and I believe the coons have a huge head start on the rats in terms of adaptability and intelligence-not to mention that handlike paw.

I think of the late Stephen Jay Gould's observation that it is now, and always has been since the beginning of life, the Age of Bacteria.

I agree that the hand like paw of the 'coon will give them an advantage, just as it has given hominids, absent the effects of a strong predator. Your example wouldn't really fit the situation where there were no humans around to change the equation and dogs or wolves operating without people might well knock off the younger, dumber 'coons before they became large enough to put up a fight. I could imagine that both sides of such a fight for survival would be heavily impacted by diseases like rabies, which we humans now attempt to control in dogs and cats. The 'coons might win if they somehow developed a sense that eating rabies infected carrion might be a bad idea. Developing that sort of taboo might require a million years...

E. Swanson

Yes, the coons will initially outcompete the dogs, paws down.

Border collies have existed within the phenotypic plasticity of the wolf genome for a long time - but you don't get border collies in the wild. They have smaller brains than wolves, odd coloration, etc... are selected for correctly interpreting human intentions, being neotenously obsequious, having a prey drive which highlights staring rather than grabbing, and working until their hearts explode. Great dogs, we've had 'em for years, they harvest our avo crop. But without humans, dogs will be lucky to get back to being wolves ASAP.

If they can, wolves and coons will coexist, as they did before, I reckon.

Mac, roaches, I presume you mean cockroaches, are an evolutionary dead end the external skeleton means that they can only develop too a certain size there are not many insects over 8 inches you need a certain brain size before you can develop intelligence and smaller brains usually means lower intelligence. I have got to agree with you raccoons would get my bet.

In 10 million years it will be the descendents of today's raccoons, not us, doing the archeology.

I know you were just being humorous but I feel your post needs a serious reply.

It is my belief that humans are far too numerous to become extinct. We occupy every niche on earth and thrive in the most remote reaches on earth save Antarctica. Some tribe somewhere will survive. It is extremely unlikely that homo sapiens will become extinct in the next few million years.

That being said, what if it did happen, would there be another animal evolve to take our places? Would a high intelligence become the primary survival and reproductive tool of another species? It could happen say if humans become extinct today then Chimps or Bonobos would likely evolve in about 10 million years or so to become our replacement. But not likely.

The reason that is unlikely is because all other great apes will surely become extinct during the coming crash. Only about 200,000 other great apes exist in the wild today and their numbers are falling fast. Chimps, Bonobos and Gorillas are being hunted for their meat and Orangutans are losing their habitat to palm oil farming and logging. They, just like Chimps, Bonobos and Gorillas will be completely gone in two or three decades.

That leaves the lesser apes to inherit the earth should all great apes, including humans, become extinct. There are 13 species of lesser apes including gibbons and baboons. But it likely take a lot longer than 10 million years for a species of lesser ape to evolve into a human-like species. And by human like I do not mean something resembling a human, though that is likely, but an animal whose intelligence is their primary survival adaptation.

Ron P.

Throughout the last billion or so years, a number of species may have used "intelligence is their primary survival adaptation". However, I think only one species has conducted archeology.

Humans living as before, say, 80,000 BCE, were not a prominent long term survival candidate. Neanderthals were widespread and modern humans confined to Africa. After the failure of modern civilization#, scattered humans will remain. And they will adapt.

Good enough for the next 10,000 years. But the world evolves and changes. Modern humans will be under considerable evolutionary pressure as we fall from the apex maximus position and our population drops by 99.99% to 99.9999% (best guess). This pressure will force some dead ends that are useful short term (more specialization, changing social relations and organizations) but deadly long term. Will humans continue agriculture for example ? Some will, some will not.

IMVVHO, our low fertility, long childhoods and self destructive behaviors in a dynamically changing environment will lead to each group of humans/hominids to extinction, one by one.

More later,


Throughout the last billion or so years, a number of species may have used "intelligence is their primary survival adaptation".

Name one other than Homo sapiens, just one... No animal, not one, had intelligence as its primary survival adaptation until homo sapiens evolved. Don't confuse instinct or the ability to copy the behavior of others with intelligence.

What Is Intelligence?

Modern humans expanded into Southwest Asia about 115,000 years ago but did not appear elsewhere in the Old World until 60,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Modern humans will be under considerable evolutionary pressure as we fall from the apex maximus position and our population drops by 99.99% to 99.9999% (best guess).

Even though your first percentage die-off leaves 700,000 people alive I think this is too great a decline. I would guess several million would be left worldwide in even the worst case scenario.

And I fail to understand what adaptation could evolve that would be helpful short term but deadly long term. That makes no sense whatsoever. Whatever is good now would be equally good later.

Ron P.

I deliberately used the word "may" because our knowledge over the epochs is so very limited.

Was there a limited range dinosaur during the, say, Jurassic, that "had intelligence as its primary survival adaptation" for it's limited quarter or half million years ? It seems reasonable, but it's limited success means no significant bones have been excavated. Or we may have a few bones but do not understand it's reason for survival for a few short 100,000 years.

And I wonder about dolphins. Not the best adapted aquatic species. Do they survive because "intelligence is their primary survival adaptation" ?

The climate will be quite disrupted, natural fertility reduced and ecological systems in chaos (introduced species everywhere, GMO, very likely atomic or bio-warfare, etc.) when we lose our apex maximus position. Returning to the populations of 5,000 BCE seems unlikely. We will have created an enduring mess.

And many species have created specializations that are great in the short run, but deadly in the long run.

Suppose one isolated human group adapts to agriculture. Say for 100,000 years they have selective pressure that optimizes traits for primitive farming and lose other traits. Then 50 years of crop failures result and the survivors are unlikely to adapt to hunter-gatherer after 5,000 generations of only farming. That includes social and character traits as well physical traits.

PS: I have noted that alcoholism rates seem to be lowest in groups that have been exposed to strong drink for the longest periods and highest in those that have not been. Alcoholism is not a survival trait and was weeded out in successive generations in some populations. Likewise the ability to digest milk as an adult is culture dependent.

Survival traits in some situations, like attention deficit, may be breed out of some populations because it is not pro-survival in some situations, but can be quite pro-group survival in other, more chaotic situations. Americans appear to selected for attention deficit trait for example.

Was there a limited range dinosaur during the, say, Jurassic, that "had intelligence as its primary survival adaptation" for it's limited quarter or half million years ?

Are you serious? Yes, I am afraid you are serious. Sorry Alan but I have nothing more to say to you on this subject. Bye now.

Ron P.

Our knowledge of the past is *FAR* too sparse and limited to assert with any certainty at all that humanity is the first to use "intelligence as its primary survival adaptation".

If one assumes that species that relies on intelligence are successful for only a short time (a reasonable assumption given homo sapiens), then a dozen such species could have existed in the past without us having a clue about them today.

That we coexist with dolphins, a viable candidate for "having intelligence as its primary survival adaptation" is a clue that we may not be as unique in that regard as we think.


Elephant, human, dolphin. Sure, cell size scales with body mass, but look how much busier those other brain's convolutions are. The human neocortex, if ironed-out, has about the area of a dish-towel.

the other two photos:

How about, "So long, and thanks for all the fish!" as the Dolphins all said as they left the Earth in Douglas Adams' book of the same name.

(in this comedy, the Dolphins were the intelligent beings inhabiting the Earth, not humans)

Name one other than Homo sapiens, just one... No animal, not one, had intelligence as its primary survival adaptation until homo sapiens evolved.

I actually agree with your general point, Ron, and also with Vonnegut's book "Galapagos" in which (spoiler alert) humans evolve away from 'intelligence'. Evolution has no preferred direction or goal, of course.

However, dolphins exist at the same time we do, and have large abstracting brains which they clearly use. The metabolic cost of a large brain is high, and if it wasn't providing an advantage, it would quickly shrink. Dolphins have attained many of the touted human cognitive benchmarks, and can do some sorts of processing humans can't. The convergent evolution of dolphin and human brains at the same time, in radically different environments, shows that they can confer fitness in some contexts. Indeed, if not for humans coming lately to the party, dolphins probably would have kept going a long time; their chances now are not great.

Of course, the dolphins (and I mean the delphinidae, not a single species) are just one example. Big brains are a relatively rare evolutionary answer and probably always will be.

It's quite possible - I think even likely - that there have been hyper-intelligent cephalopods in earth's history, now extinct. Biology tries things from time to time when fitness space opens up. They would leave no fossils; and living in an environment where fire, metallurgy, etc are impossible even for a race of philosopher-squid with IQ's of 500, they would presumably leave no giant statues... that sort of thing is probably just a human fetish anyhow.

Quite possible we aren't even close to being the smartest critters that ever fetched up on this planet. Our assertions to the contrary are a bit like a dick-measuring contest where you get to bring your own ruler.

I thing humans will have a decent chance to have offspring survive a million years - if a venus syndrome is avoided - because they own a disproportionate share of the lottery tickets going into the bottleneck. However, they may look more like spider monkeys and eat roaches.

It is my belief that humans are far too numerous to become extinct.

Gamma ray burst
A really good global thermonuclear war
run away global warming
A dense interstellar dust cloud (iceball earth)

Any of the above will overwhelm human support systems.

All right Eric, obviously I was talking about Homo sapiens verses everything else! If there is something like gamma ray burst or something that kills everything, or everything except bacteria, then all bets are off. Let us not get riiii-diculous.

Ron P.

What is not ridiculous is the real possibility of AGW killing the planet.
In a world simply devastated by economic collapse, disease, limited climate change induced by AGW, there would be niches for humans to survive, maybe even thrive eventually if other species survive.

Threatening us now is a runaway greenhouse on earth which would turn seas and oceans into tepid swamps, major rivers into trickling brooks and pasture into desert. The atmosphere would be saturated with water vapor which would greatly inhibit crop growth and make daytime survival problematic.

Humans are gambling a lot by assuming we can engineer our way out of this. We know what is causing the destruction of the planet but there is still no program to stop the burning of fossil fuels.

"Humans are the sole cause of climate change"
I think you repeat a straw man here. Look closely at the many AGW discussions and count how often this claim pops up and who says it. I bet the claim mostly originates from those who deny the A in GW (or who deny GW entirely) in an attempt to smear the ones who accept the scientific evidence that humans now have a major impact on climate.

Regarding the acceptance of AGW or ACC by fossil fuel geologists it is curious to read the statement of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists:

"AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data"

That seems like dragging your feet to me.

Anyway this lecture of Prof. Richard Alley at the AGU about "the biggest control knob" is well worth a watch and puts the AAPG statement in context.

President Obama has exceeded his Constitutional authority with respect to U.S. military involvement in Libya:


I make the same accusation concerning our military involvement in Pakistan.

A Congressional inquiry needs to commence, possibly leading to Impeachment proceedings, or else the Constitution is a piece of toilet paper, as is the War Powers Act...President Obama is continuing the extension of the 'Unitary Executive' theory application that was pushed so hard by the GW Bush/Dick Cheney administration.

No one is above the law.

President Obama is certainly not the first to exceed his authority using the military...but that doesn't mean that Congress has to keep kowtowing to the Executive branch.

Or was Watergate the last time Congress was willing to execute its authority?

Maybe now that the country is done with 'Weinergate' we can address some real issues...oh, wait, I forgot, now many people are obsessed with this Kayley Anthony trial...

Obama is in violation of the US Constitution with regard to his personal war of aggression against Libya and needs to be impeached.

Where were you when Dubya was lying us into the trillion dollar Iraq war? Oh, the outrage!

Dubya should have been impeached and sent to Leavenworth, to spend the rest of his days making big rocks into little rocks. Traitor. Thousands of American kids dead. 100's of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq dead.

I suspect he was where I was, saying the same thing. Then and now...

Yes exactly. I want every president that violates the US Constitution impeached.

It is pretty clear from precedent that the President does not need prior authority from Congress to engage in military activity, i.e. there is no requirement for a Congressional Declaration of War.

Obama may be inviolation of the War Powers Resolution, but the constitutionality of that Resolution of Congress has never been determined by appeal to the Supreme Court.


Lastly, although I don't know the exact situation, Obama may be acting to discharge a NATO Treaty Obligation, which, if so, would take precedence over a Resolution of Congress.

It is pretty clear from precedent that the Constitution is just a piece of paper like George Bush said.

All that is left is a dictatorship of the monied interests.

Bush was wrong again -- the constitution is on parchment.

In that case, right on (I'm no Obama cheerleader). It's just that there is a HUGE amount of hypocrisy going on, especially among Teabaggers. I know a lot of people who didn't care about wars, constitutions, or anything else until Obama was elected.

The last time congress executed its authority was over a blow job, much more important, of course, than violating the war powers act or the constitution. If congress has a problem, they can step up and deny funding.

I don't think Obama is as corrupt as Bush -- yet, but he is certainly working on it. I have mixed feelings about impeachment hearings because I think Bush and Cheney should have been put in jail -- by the Obama administration.

Kucinich 2012.

No it was about perjury, the rule of law or the refusal of the president to abide by the rule of law.

Obama intervenes with UN support to prevent a massacre in Libya.
Clinton intervenes in Kosovo and Iraq(Kurdistan) to prevent ethnic cleansing. Clinton fails to prevent massacre of 800000 prople in Rwanda.
Truman intervenes in Korea to repel naked aggression by the North across the UN designated border.

Nixon invades neutral Cambodia to cut supply lines into VietNam
setting off the Cambodian Genocide.
Reagan supports 'freedom fighters' in Central America, Angola
and Afghanistan to weaken Soviet backed regimes.
Bush invades Iraq to stop non-existent WMD program, stop AlQaeda from linking up with Saddam and open up
Iraq's oil fields to development.

Why do conservatives invariably support unjust wars ?

Why do conservatives invariably support unjust wars ?

Because they support 10k a plate campaign fund raisers that are paranoid about losing accumulated assets to the boogieman. Give them an incursion and they relax thinking as long as those little brown people are occupied running for cover their stuff is safe.

No, it was about a cabal of the right wing determined to bring Clinton down who used the excuse that he lied in testimony about whether or not he had sex with a woman. This was used as a pretext. High crimes and misdemeanors are in the eye of the beholder and a determined group of people can always find a reason to impeach a President.

Beyond the Republican vs. Democrat and just vs unjust war discussions, I ant the U.S. government to return to having a functional system of checks and balances and adherence to the rule of law, starting with the Constitution.

When was the last time Congress declared war? WWII?

I never liked the War Powers act...it is a way to circumvent the Constitution without having to go through the amendment process.

Even such the War Powers Act has been 'liberally interpreted' to death over the years...the President can get away with almost anything now if he/she has either mob rule or monied interests (or both, abetted by bought and paid for media) on his/her side.

I forgot, now many people are obsessed with this Kayley Anthony trial...

That seems really sick to me. What is the fascination with watching some woman that doesn't even know how to tie her hair up without looking like a psych ward patient? So what she's a pathological lier. How many of those are there in the world? The fact that Kayley Anthony gets as much airtime as it does exposes America for the shallow, empty, bubbleheaded culture it has become.

How do we get control of the media back from the corporations? There used to be laws against massive ownership and about the public good. It was still a propaganda machine, but it was a much more sophisticated one with some leakage of reality, like the televised Vietnam war, or the Smother's Brothers Show... until they both lost their battles with power. Has anyone noticed that Abu's been forgotten, again? This latest distraction has run longer.

Just a thought....


The Martian.

Isn't that something, though. They do often have the most studious news.

And Hillary Clinton says that too.

How do we get control of the media back from the corporations?

This kind of whiny framing, reminiscent of a certain class of abstractly airy college seminars, though possibly cathartic, founders on the hard rock of reality. Who could this "we" possibly be, that presumably had "control" and ought to be getting it "back"? The usual small holier-than-thou cabal self-appointed from the ivory tower?

It's not as though there's a broad swell of public discontent - or hordes of viewers dropping expensive subscription services, never mind simply turning off the "free" stuff. The real "we" - that is, the greater societal "we" - seems to be fine with the media's "content" and fine with paying through the nose for it. NPR, PBS, local college stations, etc., sometimes run discourses on deadly-dull matters such as constitutional law, changes in the geographic distribution of self-filling stomachs infesting remote wilds, and so on - such things are hardly unavailable. But for the most part they can't even give that stuff away; most viewers hastily flip back to their usual costly paid service.

So who, exactly, should be privileged to identify and crown an acceptable philosopher-king to prescribe the media's new, morally-superior contents? By what methodologies ought said king to decide what is the "public good", and what content to choose in keeping with it? And most of all, why would the societal "we" give a stuff about said king's pronouncements?

Well, let me wipe away the flying spittle of bombast running down my face and quietly recommend:
Monty Python: The Annoying Peasant:

"This kind of whiny framing, reminiscent of a certain class of abstractly airy college seminars, though possibly cathartic, founders on the hard rock of reality. Who could this "we" possibly be, that presumably had "control" and ought to be getting it "back"? The usual small holier-than-thou cabal self-appointed from the ivory tower? "

You seem to have some issues. Did you have a bad experience in college or something?

Yeah, it's pretty sick.
It took Japan being knocked two feet sideways to bump Sheen off the top "news" spot for a couple of weeks.
Now, the biggest nuclear "accident" in history is continuing to poison and burn a hole into the country, which was, the third largest industrial economy.
But the MSM finds it's much more important to beat up on some obviously wildly dysfunctional woman and her family.
Has anyone told them the poor kid is already dead!?

It's all so infuriating that I've made no effort to be informed on this dross; it's taken in by osmosis. It's like carnations, dyed green for St. Pat's day, they have no idea that their colour is being changed. So the public thought is coloured by the creeping dye of disinformation and obfuscation blended into "info-porno-tainment". "Don't look there. Look over here.....shiny things...".

I, for one, don't think the TOD gives the Japan nuclear crisis the attention it deserves. Isn't it at least as important as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

Full Meltdown: Fukushima Called the 'Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in the History of Mankind'

Scientific experts believe Japan's nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.

June 16, 2011

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.


The real question for folks in the United States is:

Now what?

- Are there massive letter-writing campaigns to Congress and the President?

- Are there mass protest around U.S. nuclear power plants and on the Mall in Washington, D.C.?

I hate to say this, but few people in the U.S. will care, until a nuclear disaster happens in the U.S. Even if a bad incident happens in the U.S., the citizens of the U.S. may write it off to a one-time-bad deal and press on with BAU.

Folks seem to be willing and able to take great risks and consequences to get their electrons, as long as no lefty/greenie socialists make them subsidize that evil wind and solar power.

And if another Macondo-type incident occurs in the GOM, or in Price William Sound, or anywhere in our waters, the result will be a replay of Macondo...outrage at the incident, followed by outrage at any brief moratorium and any proposed tighter regulations.

Biggest Industrial Catastrophe of all time?

What is the metric?

Not Prompt casualties...


I hate to say this, but few people in the U.S. will care, until a nuclear disaster happens in the U.S. Even if a bad incident happens in the U.S., the citizens of the U.S. may write it off to a one-time-bad deal and press on with BAU.

Shhh... Nobody mention Cooper Nuclear Power Station or Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station

Here is another one that quietly slipped-by decades ago:
Simi Valley, California, Meltdown in 1959:
This was done without any containment building in place.
The official press release was a lie. A UCLA professor later revealed documentation of the event.

Another sort of news-spin on the Fukushima accident:

"Tepco to build sarcophagus over Fukushima reactor"

"Fukushima entombed"

These both refer to the plastic bag they are hoping to put over reactor #1.

Just... odd

"Fukushima Failures Kept Behind Closed Doors"

"The International Atomic Energy Agency’s decision to shield the inquiry in Vienna from public view may backfire, analysts and scientists said."

Echo that - Fukushima deserves at least a new uptop general-post (!)

I might have agreed with your sentiment prior to last week.
But I have just spent time at my brother's and he is one of the 'Casey-obsessed'.(Casey Anthony is the young mother on trial for the death of her daughter, Cayley)

I am now up to speed on events in this ring of the America media circus, and it does not reflect as poorly on our fellow citizens as you might think.

First, the family is telegenic of course. They do seem a fair reflection of one tranche of US social structure. We either recognize them as potentially 'one of us', or we know people like them.

Second, say what you will but the story itself is just darned interesting. A murder, troubled family dynamics, sex, drugs- all the elements of a classic who-dun-it. And then there are some great supporting characters turning in wacky performances.
It is no indictment of anyone's taste that they like a little of the low-brow stuff, and this is great low-brow pulp-fiction type entertainment.

Thirdly, people immersed in this drama are getting a real-time education in court procedures, forensic sciences, and basic legal terms & concepts.

In some sense I think attention to this case is creating better citizens. I see people immersed in the trial coverage becoming better informed about how their government works and potentially more willing to serve on juries. Jury service is about the most meaningful contribution thoughtful people can give to their community and if shows like this increase the pool of willing, thoughtful jurors, I think that's great.

President Obama has exceeded his Constitutional authority

Ask the Cherokee or the Lakota about such excesses of the past.

or else the Constitution is a piece of toilet paper, as is the War Powers Act

Note how the Korea Conflict was not a war. Why start complaining now?

I am complaining now because I want it to stop.

I also complained about war actions under GW Bush.

I also have always said that the Korea and Vietnam undeclared wars were illegal.

If a President want to engage in war, then he or she must have a declaration of War by the Congress.

This whole War Powers Act crapola was a dodgy end-run around the whole affair after Vietnam.

The last time the U.S. faced what was likely a existential threat requiring our combat troops in foreign lands was was WWII.

Before that there was the Civil War and before that the War of 1812 perhaps.

The U.S. war actions in and with countries of the Middle East are all about securing oil for us and our European and Japanese allies.


While you may find agreement - what good has what you (or for that matter me or any of the regular TOD posters) think done to change the path of Empire and their law breaking?

Any one of us thinking "gee, that's illegal" has done little to stop the illegal actions.

And Empire seems to be unwilling to regulate itself.

Once again, a sort of "How DARE you speak if you have no answer"... Am I missing something? Is this a new talk-show disseminated tactic? Ask no questions, point out nothing, unless YOU have solutions and have wrought them upon the field... Let us never mention this again.

"The Prisoner" "I, I, I":

Monty Python: The Annoying Peasant:

An American Indian take:
Temporarilly Humbolt County:

Am I missing something?

Yes you are.

Talk about 'using the Congress' or some other tactic to stop illegal wars have not worked.

Hopefully by pointing that out someone who is far more clever, than say someone who thinks there is a talk-show conspiracy, will come up with an alternative that will work. Or at least be tried.

We often debate whether speculation can increase oil prices. IMHO, it can. Either way, here is an interesting article from Wired magazine on the role of the brain in speculative decision making:


First time I'd heard of neuroeconomists...

The Chinese made a deal with the Brazilian's to do the development of some of their oil fields in exchange China gets oil at $20 per barrel for 30 years. It does not matter how high speculators drive prices China will pay $20 per barrel on this oil. There are many parties with written contracts that do not care what the spot market price is.

Sensible parties might index it to something though, which would leave some opening for it to be influenced. How far into that 30 years before enough Brazilians become furious at seeing their "patrimony" going that cheap that there's a coup and the contracts aren't worth the paper they're documented on? Also, in what currency is that denominated - maybe in 30 years $20 (or the number of reais worth $20 now) just buys you a cabbage (or a jellybean)? In that case, wouldn't they be even more furious?

China gets oil at $20 per barrel for 30 years.

That's simply not true. Can you provide a reference for this false claim?

China has made loans to Brazil and invested in the Brazilian oil industry but the deal based on the loan was to guarantee oil supply to China at "Market Prices".

I know China has signed deals with other countries for long term supply but to assume that the Brazilians are that stupid is not realistic. And as Rock points out we don't know the details of Chavez deals either but I suspect it is nowhere near as low as right wing US radio shows make up.

tow - So true and I doubt we'll ever have good numbers. Not so much that they don't want the public to know but it's a very competitive business. China doesn't want Bz to know the details of their trade with Vz. Additionally even when we have some details it can be impossible to figure out the net cost. It seldom boils down to just a price structure. Consider China buying an interest in an Angolan field. They might pay $40 million for a 20% interest. First they probably won’t tell us it costs that much to buy in. Even if they did we might not be told part of the trade requires Angolan to buy $20 million of Chinese casing to use in that field. And let’s assume we know with certainty (which we never will) that it will cost $40/bbl to develop those reserves then we know it cost China $40/bbl…right? Not necessarily. The deal may require China to “carry” the Angolan state oil company in the deal. A carried interest is a common part of many oil patch deals in the US. You and I each own 50% of the project but I pay for half of your costs (a 25% carry) but you still get half the oil. So China may be paying a dispproportionate share for thier oil.

About all we can be sure about is that China is getting some of the oil cheaper due to these trades. But maybe not in all trades. I don’t know the details but their trade with Bz may be all about a ROFR (Right of First Refusal). China may not be getting any discount on their oil but the right to buy a set volume at the going market rate. ROFR is often a major factor with refiners: sometimes what they pay for their oil isn’t as important as having access to the oil. I suspect many of China’s trade are more about access than price.

OK, I can not find the reference but I did find these:


Deal signed May 2010: Chinese state company Sinochem is buying 40% of the offshore Peregrino oil field for $3.07 billion. Statoil, the Brazilian energy company, will be beneficiary of the 40% purchase.

Deal completed May 2010: China National Offshore Oil Corp will pay $3 billion to buy Argentina's Bridas Group, giving it a 40 percent stake in Pan American Energy LLC, according to Business Week.

Deal signed in 2005: China National Petroleum Corp. purchased the oil company Petrokazakhstan for $4.18 billion, but didn't stop there. The Chinese then built a $700 million oil pipeline to carry the product from Kazakhstan to China.

Deal signed January 2010: PetroChina announced a 37.5% stake in a development of Iraq's Halfaya oil field. The oil field holds reserves of around 4.1 billion barrels, which PetroChina will produce at a cost of less than $1.75 per barrel.

Deal signed May 2010: China National Petroleum Corporation loaned $20 billion to PDVSA for development that will yield nearly three billion barrels of oil. PDVSA will repay the loan with oil.

If you buy the field you get the oil for the cost of extraction and your initial investment.

OK, I can not find the reference

Because it was made up.

Deal signed May 2010: Chinese state company Sinochem is buying 40% of the offshore Peregrino oil field for $3.07 billion. Statoil, the Brazilian energy company, will be beneficiary of the 40% purchase.

Statoil is Brazilian? Has anyone told the Norwegians?

Deal signed January 2010: PetroChina announced a 37.5% stake in a development of Iraq's Halfaya oil field. The oil field holds reserves of around 4.1 billion barrels, which PetroChina will produce at a cost of less than $1.75 per barrel.

[Edit: More detailed look at this field] The implication here is that China gets the oil at less than $1.75 a barrel. What the author has done is get it completely the wrong way round. The consortium (including PetroChina) gets $1.40/barrel service fee for developing the field. They do not get to keep the oil and they certainly don't get to ship it to China. They don't even own the infrastructure and equipment as anything they supply belongs to Iraq (but they will be reimbursed for these costs). International Oil Companies have signed deals with Iraq on the worst terms in the world for many fields simply because the Iraqis refused to offer rates comparable elsewhere. Iraq has the world's oil companies over a barrel with these deals and they will make out like bandits - not PetroChina or anyone else under deals like Halfaya.

If China actually wants any of the Iraqi oil they help produce they will have to buy it from Iraq at market prices.

You really need to find better sources.

We often debate whether speculation can increase oil prices. IMHO, it can.

The only way speculators can drive prices up is by purchasing and then withholding (storing) physical oil. But they generally don't do this because of high storage and transportation costs. Therefore, speculators generally do not contribute to increasing oil prices, regardless what goes on in their brains.

Shocking New Report On The 'Safety' Of Russian Nuclear Plants

A new report leaked to Norwegian media, which was commission by the owners and operators of Russian nuclear power plants. The security arrangements are dismal and appalling.

For instance, many plants could not even withstand an earthquake scenario because they do not have the basic fail-safe mechanisms in place. When they were built, earthquakes were not even considered as a risk as bizarre as it might sound.

The report is so far only in the Norwegian media, so here is the link(translated via Google which is certainly decent):

Russia sounds the alarm about its own nuclear power plants

Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy.....

The ride down the slope of Civilization will be "interesting" to say the least.


The Martian.

Sounds like a way to shake-down the Scandinavians for safety upgrades. or new gas contracts.

I realy hope the Finns go forward with additional new nuclear reactors and make the Finaland-Russia DC-link bidirectional to export electricity to Russia.

Let's say Saudi Arabia has 200 billion barrel in the ground that can be extracted. At $100 per barrel that is 20 trillion dollars. Why would the developed world wan to send 20 trillion dollars to KSA? Why not build 20 trillion dollars of solar and pumped hydro storage? Buying oil is a one shot building lasts for many decades and makes huge employment in the developed countries.

Oh reason and stars above!

I am blinded by the truth!

Thank you...if only most of the rest of the citizenry of the U.S. thought as you do!

Pumped hydro, flow batteries, flywheels, ammonia...

Most folks will say "but solar and wind will always be too expensive...they will never compete with cheap fossil fuels!

Of course they are ignoring the massive externalites (how many wars are we in in the ME and how much do we pay a year for them?)and the fact that the cheap FFs will run out.

Got to give up the carz... no fun.

India and Pakistan explained ;-)

History of conflicts between two low-on-vitamins nuclear nations

India and Pakistan have a long and complicated history with each other. Well, at least that’s what their individual relationship status says on Facebook: ‘It’s complicated.’

These two countries simultaneously became independent from Britain after insisting that there was nothing called chicken tikka mesala, you idiots!

When British India became independent, it was supposed to be divided into two parts (leg piece and breast piece).

Areas consisting of 75 per cent or more Muslims were to become Pakistan and the rest of the territory India. It’s another thing that for long there were more Muslims in the Indian territory than in Pakistan, until the Indian government banned beef and the Pakistani government banned vegetarians.

This arrangement did not include the ‘Princely States,’ mainly because the princes thought they were living in Constantinople in the 12th Century AD.

I wasn't aware of any retail stores illuminated exclusively by LED technology, so this video came as a bit of a surprise:

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44keN8wrH5E

We've come tantalizingly close on a couple of our lighting retrofits (fashion retailers that had been predominately PAR/MR16 halogen), but I don't envision hitting the 100 per cent mark any time soon.


Well, that's a good demo project to show it can be done - whether it is worth doing 100% is a different question - they make no mention of payback etc, but for a demo project that is not the criteria.

Interesting comment they make about the like being more directed onto the product, rather than floor - that is a real case of the technology allowing you to use less of something, in addition to producing it more efficiently.

If we assumed that the total lumens being used was halved, and all the lighting previously was fluorescent, what would your estimate be of the energy savings per sq.ft?

I will say, from watching the video, that the store looks/feels kinda "cold" - maybe it is better when you are actually there.

There is something else in there that Canada needs to do, which is to allow wine and beer sales at supermarkets.. (sigh)

Hi Paul,

Like any good retailer, M&S are in the business to move product and to capitalize on impulse buying and so, first and foremost, you want your displays to always look their best. The financial payback with respect to the added energy savings is undoubtedly important, and targeting light where it can be put to best use is a big part of this, but it shouldn't be the primary motivator.

We have two national grocery chains that compete for our business locally -- one based here in Nova Scotia and the other in Ontario -- and it's interesting to compare the two in terms of their overall design philosophy. One takes a bare bones approach that favours cost savings over aesthetics, i.e., 4-lamp T5 high bays with ugly chrome reflectors and track lights fitted with compact fluorescents that make everything look flat, dull and lifeless. The other offers a pure visual delight, i.e., Philips MasterColour Elite ceramic metal halide fixtures with big punches of clean, crisp white light that makes colours pop and merchandise jump off the shelves. One is my client and the other is where I like to go to shop. :-(


Too funny. No one says that saving energy means you have to have lifeless light etc, but if that's the way they want to do it, then that's their call.

I am often of two minds when it comes to the retail "experience" - there is no question that nicely lit, well presented shops are better places to go shopping. But I have seen that overdone, and then you get the feeling you are paying significantly higher prices to cover all the "merchandising" - a well known food market of "natural and organic" foods comes to mind.

Not saying the M&S shop was like that though, it actually looked kinda bare bones, but maybe that was just the polished concrete floors.

I put up a couple of three light track fixture last week - converting the downstairs into a basement suite. Had three CFL spirals and three IKEA CFL bulbs which I put in - they are all "soft white", about 3000-3500K, and on the white walls and white kitchen cabinets, felt very cold. (I normally only buy warm white CFL's but happened to have these already) . I had a couple of 50W halogen PAR20's hanging around, so I put one in each fixture, and directed it onto the wall and cabinets and what a difference. The total wattage has gone from 360W with all six incandescents to 78W with all CFL to 152 with 4CFL and 2 halogens, but certainly a better result.

Would be ideal for a couple of those Philips LED's, when I can get my hands on them...

No one says that saving energy means.............

I think we need to understand that we have all got it wrong in our interpretation of "saving energy".

The big picture says we are not "saving energy". Covering Pakistan in CFL's or LED's would not simply mean less energy is used. Please understand that, if more energy is available the fridge will be left on longer, the television will be left of longer, an electric car will be driven further, more bread will be baked and lights left of longer.

The energy utilities will even try to produce and sell more power, they do not deliberately withhold energy production while there is a market for it.

By buying Prius you are not saving energy, by installing solar panels on the roof you are not saving energy. There is always Joe down the road who will find a use for the energy you save, unless you ACTUALLY save the energy permanently and that means putting a fence around fossil fuels.....permanently.

To "save energy" you must sequester the amount of energy you WOULD HAVE USED before you became efficient. The perception we have now is to save energy so we can continue BAU. BAU means continuing to burn FF's at an ever increasing rate to support the intended growth.

One seemingly plausible way to avoid the phenomena you mention would be to tier electricity prices to consumers. Figure out a desired target 'base demand case' and charge a certain rate for that amount of electricity per month. Make this rate higher than currently enjoyed to encourage efficiency. Construct a tiered rate system for quantities used above this rate.

If someone complains and says that they have twice as big of a house than the base case and use twice the electricity, then tell them to be extra energy efficient, and beyond that the answer is "too bad, too sad, you have to pay to play".

Tiered pricing for gasoline would be unmanageable...just continually increase gasoline and diesel taxes until people 'get it' and buy fuel-thrifty vehicles and/or combine trips, carpool, do without some unnecessary trips, etc.

If the objective is to save energy (use less energy), then this method will work,

Good luck getti9ng support for this policy though.

It's a dilemma for sure and there are no end of very painful ideas to get us off FF's.
Your last sentence is the truth and it means we are ultimately screwed......no one to blame but ourselves. Painted ourselves into a corner we have.

Possessing the means and lacking the will. I think it's why we must all get really frightened to force us to take drastic measures. Even then there will be dissenters. Most everyone will have a reason as to why they are special and should be exempt from suffering.

Sixty years ago before the last population doubling we maybe could have engineered efficiencies which actually prevented further burning of FF's. Just imagine the world wide cooperation which would have been required then, and again your last sentence rings true.


There are soothing noises though, cap-n-trade, carbon tax, alternative energy subsidies, electric vehicles, wind mills, electric transport and solar panels, all the while we furiously burn FF's at an ever increasing annual rate. Everyone thinks we can engineer our way out. Reasonable to assume I suppose.....engineering got us into the mess.

One seemingly plausible way to avoid the phenomena you mention would be to tier electricity prices to consumers.

You mean like this;

BC Hydro Residential Conservation Rate

Based on BC Hydro's Fiscal 2011 revenue requirement application, effective April 1, 2010, residential customers pay 6.27 cents per kWh for the first 1,350 kWh they use over a two-month billing period. Above that amount, customers pay 8.78 cents per kWh for the balance of the electricity used during the billing period.

This rate structure is designed to encourage conservation and is referred to as a "stepped rate". The first portion is called Step 1 and the amount above that is called Step 2.

And if you have a big house, and/or use lots of electric heat, it is indeed "too bad, too sad." I should also add there was no real opposition to this rate structure - most people in Canada like the idea of making the wasters pay. In the US, you would think the right to waste, and not pay more for it, was written into the constitution

Really, I just don't know how long it's going to take for the US to get with the program...

Actually, I shouldn't be too harsh, but it's just... so... damned... easy!

In fairness, here's a US example of tiered pricing - for water, somewhere in the LA area. Irvine Ranch Service Area Residential Water Rates (Potable)

Monthly water service charge $8.00 (up to a 1" meter)
Tier / Percent of Allocation /Cost per ccf

Low Volume 0 - 40% $0.91
Base Rate 41 - 100% $1.21
Inefficient 101 - 150% $2.50
Excessive 151 - 200% $4.32
Wasteful 201+% $9.48

The "allocation" is based on the indoor water use of a normal house, stick to this, and you are fine. Have yourself a golf green front and back, and you pay. You can guess what effect this has had on people's water use

As for gasoline, tiered pricing would be perfectly manageable. When you fill up you swipe your driver's licence at the pump, and it records your purchases, and if you are over your weekly or monthly quota, you pay more. If you are refuelling a company car, then you also have to swipe the cars unique ID tag, and that car also has it's own tiered rate structure, so after a certain amount, the company pays more.

It would be possible to game this system, for example, if you have a passenger, use their driver's licence, but then they are giving you their cheap fuel, and who wants to do that?

I would set the tier volume based on the amount of US domestic (and Canadian) oil production, so that, effectively, when you go into the higher tier, you are using imported oil, and paying the price for it. People who stay within the tier can rightly claim they are not using any ME/Venez/African oil. You could even have the pump labels for tier 1 being "domestic" and tier 2 "imported" - a microcosm of the US oil situation.

This might actually get people thinking about how much they use, though sometimes I'm not sure your government really wants people thinking at all!

Tiered gasoline pricing was in place in WW2. Tier one was your ration, at whatever the price was, and tier 2 was the balck market - i.e. - what you had to pay someone else to give up their ration - always much higher. Worked fine, and was certainly manageable by low tech ration books. People complained of course, but as long as there have been fuel prices, people have complained about them.


Excellent post, with three examples, two current with links and one historical and factual.

Can we clone you to serve in key positions in the U.S. Government?

We need some folks with good critical thinking skills.

H, Just a guess, but it seems to me that people with critical thinking skills that are in the US government either get muzzled (e.g. Chu) or run out if it.

And really, these things are not that hard. I have on my bookshelf somewhere the American Water Works Association's two books on designing water rates. Book one is "standard rates" i.e. declining block rates - gets cheaper the more you use. Book 2 is "alternative rates", which includes a few different structures of "conservation rates". These books have been around for decades - guess which rate structure almost all water utilities use?

You may (or may not) know that all US electric utilities are required to offer residential time of use rates to all their customers (part of a GWB energy bill!), but most utilities do not advertise this at all, and you have to go looking deeply to find it. Anyone who has solar PV and is not using these rates is missing out.

It is not as if this stuff is not widely known in the energy and government world, it is just that, in the US at least, there seems little desire to implement any of it.

Like the smoker says " I can stop smoking anytime I want to. Trouble is, I can;t make myself want to"

Insert "driving" into that sentence and you have the US dilemma.

The missing ingredient is political backbone. here in BC we no only have the electric rats above we also have a Vancouver gas tax, which is used to fund transit, and we have a carbon tax too, and a per capita oil consumption much lower than the US. People complained about their introduction, but it didn;t lead to rioting in the streets - it took losing the Stanley Cup t do that!

Please understand that, if more energy is available the fridge will be left on longer, the television will be left of longer, an electric car will be driven further, more bread will be baked and lights left of longer.

Well, if that is Pakistan, then yes, it will get used somewhere else, but here, that is not necessarily the case. My fridge is "on" 24/7 as it is, and my other home energy consumption will not increase because i am using more energy efficient lighting. I will agree that the money a person/business saves on reduced energy use will likely get spent on something else, but that may or may not involve energy use.

By buying Prius you are not saving energy, by installing solar panels on the roof you are not saving energy. There is always Joe down the road who will find a use for the energy you save, unless you ACTUALLY save the energy permanently and that means putting a fence around fossil fuels.....permanently. to "save energy" you must sequester the amount of energy you WOULD HAVE USED before you became efficient.

To be strictly accurate, I should have said "energy efficiency" rather than "saving" energy, as the two terms can have different meanings. if you drive a Prius instead of something else, you are definitely being more energy efficient, by your definition, to save,m I should buy the same amount of fuel as previous, and store the remainder, that is truly "saving" though I would not recommend anyone do that.

Agreed that solar panels are not strictly saving electricity, they are merely an alternative way of producing it that may, or may not, save some fossil fuels. if they do save fossil fuels,then yes, they are available for use at a later date, and likely will be. That is, I think, why Gail the Actuary refers to renewables as "fossil fuel extenders"

. The perception we have now is to save energy so we can continue BAU.

Correct. I think most people would like their standard of living to remain at least whatever it is today

BAU means continuing to burn FF's at an ever increasing rate to support the intended growth.
Not so correct. Economic growth is clearly a political obective for BAU, and, presently that will involve increasing FF use, as that is the cheapest way to do it, but it is by no means the only way to do it.

Unfortunately, most people and governments choose the cheapest way, but not all of us do.

Hi Paul,

If this were a discount, "no frills" chain, the lighting would be perfectly fine, although continuous row strips would look better than these chrome monstrosities. In this case, both chains are competing head-to-head for the same clientèle, it's just that one has put a lot more thought into their lighting layouts and it shows.

The Philips 7-watt PAR20s are quite nice. You get some of that halogen sparkle and the 3000K colour temperature is similar but not as yellow. You may find them at Home Deport, but any lighting distributor that carries the Philips line should be able to help you out. Once you see the difference with your own eyes, you may never buy another CFL again (CFLs are pretty much the eight transistor radios of the lighting world).


Paul, as ever, thanks for posting good news!


Instead of mounting the lights centered over fairly wide aisles, would it work to center the lights over the rows of shelving with reflectors to angle the light sideways to wash the adjacent shelves? This would achieve the same effect of lighting the product while permitting the use of narrower aisles and save on floorspace, HVAC, etc.

OTOH, this looks like a rather upscale supermarket, so wide aisles may be part of the branding strategy.

Hi Merrill,

The main isles have shelf lighting so the centre overheads are intended to provide "fill". It's difficult to get a good sense of the overall effect or "feel" by watching the video; at least it is for me. The difference between viewing a painting in an art gallery versus looking at the same work on a 19 inch portable.


M&S foods tend to offer higher quality rather than the sell it cheap. Their prices are not excessive, or at least not when I was still in the UK. I wouldn't say upscale more upper end supermarket lower end deli.


M&S do promote higher quality (and other consumer 'feel good' factors, such as UK-sourced produce, animal welfare, environmentally 'friendly' developments etc) at a slightly higher cost than some other major food retailers. Hence there is a strong element in discretionary spending in their customers. It remains to be seen if this consumer choice will stay loyal in the light of predicted reduced spending power of the average shopper.

Another trend that M&S are adopting (as are others) is smaller 'local' shops, either nearby railway stations, high streets etc (and at petrol/gas stations). This takes some of the shopping away from the large out of town complexes. I nearly always walk to do my shopping. It has the added benefit that you can only carry so much, so there is a natural limit on consumption!

Shortages, shortages everywhere.

Petrol shortages should energise the search for alternatives

The ongoing fuel shortages in the Northern Emirates have left many motorists scratching their heads. How can a country with so much oil not have enough fuel for its own people?

The answer is simple. Although the UAE is blessed with huge oil reserves, its ability to refine that oil into fuels like petrol has not kept up with rising demand. As a result, it has to rely on imported petrol that costs considerably more than what you and I pay for it at the pump. Who picks up the tab? Retailers like Enoc and Eppco.

...A more sustainable solution would be to diversify our fuel options. This could be achieved through the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles. Hybrids use a mixture of gasoline and electric energy stored in batteries whereas electric vehicles (EVs) run entirely on battery power.

There's a poll on "The National" website

Have you been affected by the recent fuel shortages in the UAE?

#Poll Results

No. I don't drive here: 53%

Yes. Trouble filling my car with fuel has greatly affected my daily life: 36%

Not really. Fuel is still plentiful where I live: 7%

A little. I only experienced difficulties getting fuel once or twice: 4%

That seems to be a really serious shortage going by the poll results.

And this has gone one for weeks now.

No end to fuel shortage after three weeks

Emirates Business 24/7 reported that petrol shortage in Sharjah and northern emirates entered third week with no signs of ending soon, even as officials remain silent over the reason behind the crisis.

A public statement by the ENOC group, the parent company of Eppco and Enoc stations, is still forthcoming despite Sharjah Executive Council's plea and the sustained silence is only fueling speculations.

The shortage has affected Ajman, Umm Al Quiwain and Ras Al Khaimah but the emirate of Sharjah is worst hit with dozens of stations running dry. Despite several attempts no official from the company has spoken to media and Enoc customer care number 8003665 also remains out of service.

I am tired of 'greenies' pretending that planting trees
will offset CO2 emissions.
Turns out it's just more fakery, more 'greenwashing'.

Schemes to convert croplands or marginal lands to forests will make almost no inroads against global warming this century, a scientific study published on Sunday said.

Afforestation is being encouraged under the UN's Kyoto Protocol climate-change treaty under the theory that forests are "sinks" that soak up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air through photosynthesis.

But environmental researchers, in a new probe, said that even massive conversion of land to forestry would have only a slender benefit against the greenhouse-gas problem.

This is partly because forests take decades to mature and CO2 is a long-lasting molecule, able to lurk for centuries in the atmosphere.

But another reason is that forests, even as they absorb greenhouse gas, are darker than croplands and thus absorb more solar heat -- and in high latitudes, this may even result in net warming.


Maj, I actually agree that tree planting outside of the tropics is not the unvarnished good it is sometimes made out to be, especially with regard to GW. But please avoid using idiotic slurs like "greenies." It just makes you look like some kind of limbaughtomite, which I am sure you are not.

(And keep in mind can have all sorts of advantages besides addressing CO2 issues.

China gasps in pursuit of electricity

BEIJING // The air in the Chinese capital got steadily worse as last week drew to a close. Starting off with bright sunshine and blue skies on Sunday, it deteriorated as a grey smog cut visibility. By Wednesday morning, the US Embassy's online air pollution monitor classed the level of particulate matter as "very unhealthy" as concentrations had reached many times the level above which bad health effects start to be seen.

After several more days with bad smog, the pollution index remained at "very unhealthy" yesterday evening.

...While traffic is partly to blame, a major cause of the smog that afflicts Chinese urban areas and even often its countryside is the burning of coal, much of it in coal-fired power stations.

I just checked the US embassy "BeijingAir" monitor myself and it is currently at "Very Unhealthy" as the article says but it actually went up further to the highest rating of "Hazardous" - defined as: "AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.", for a time on Saturday.

I noticed Saturday that gasoline is as cheap as $3.38/gallon in Albuquerque.

Per economics, has the price dropped from ~ $3.90/gallon a few months ago because demand has dropped or because higher prices have led to greater supply?

I wonder how low it will go?

If it heads towards three bucks a gallon then the smart folks should rush out to buy all the nice small fuel-thrifty calls that many people will have traded in to buy the big SUVs and trucks that they desired all along.

According to http://www.gasbuddy.com the average US price is now $3.66 down from a peak of $3.97. That's a fall of 7.8%.

I don't think oil will fall much lower (although WTI might) but who knows...

One thing is certain - a lot of people around the world seem to be going short of gasoline and/or diesel right now even though they have the money to pay for it.

US gasoline demand is currently at the highest level for the year so far according to the EIA and is also up slightly up on last year, despite the higher prices.



But...my basic question remains: If U.S. demand is up, then why have prices come down over the past month or so?

If the higher prices of the past year or so have resulted in higher levels of product eligible to be supplied, then I suppose classic economic theory says that price should come down to a new equilibrium point...but you said demand is up.

And...with gasoline, it would seem hard to believe that prices would not be 'sticky' with the suppliers when supply increases somewhat or demand decreases somewhat.

So...why are prices down when quantity supplied (meeting quantity demanded) has increased compared to last year?

Well gasoline demand is up slightly but US total oil demand is down on last year. In any case price is still well up on what it was a few months ago - the price may have simply got a little ahead of itself and we're just seeing a correction before the rise resumes. You also can't just look at US demand of course.

Average US gas pump price is about 70 cents above New York Harbour RBOB so you can see the expected price moves if you follow RBOB http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/performance.asp?s=US%40RB.1%3ANYM

Thanks...it seems plausible that the price signal is perhaps lagging/overshooting the 'school solution' supply/demand price points.


Nato suggests 'weapons systems failure' in Tripoli raid

Nato has admitted "a weapons systems failure" may have led to civilian casualties in Sunday morning's air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

In a statement, the alliance said the intended target of the strike was a military missile site, but "it appears that one weapon" did not hit it.

The Libyan government earlier said Nato bombed a residential area, killing nine civilians, including babies.

So how many civilians total have NATO forces killed so far, and how many civilians total was Gaddafi supposedly going to kill--which was the supposed reason we went in. At what point does the former number surpass the latter number and at what point does any pretense of a moral highground totally evaporate?

Moral pretense evaporated last week... or was it the week before? In any case, it's gone.

dohboi, I usually agree with your posts, but in this case they're bombing from the air, which is only as good as the intelligence as to the identity of those individuals or group targeted far below on the ground. The Libyan Rebels were on their way to being completely routed when a coalition leading to NATO intervened. I'm sure most of the Libyan Rebels know mistakes will occur, but overall they are way better off with the help. At the same time it's bound to be emotional for those losing loved ones, but hey its war - which of course is hell.

Well, I asked a question. I'm not sure how exactly you agree or disagree with a question.

I really am torn, but I think the whole situation is beset by moral quandaries.

Not going in would have seemed like sitting back while genocide occurred.

But at some point, our bombing itself becomes the genocide, it seems to me.

If it is worth going in to some place, it must be with overwhelming force.

Otherwise we get ourselves in endless quagmires, inevitably inching toward becoming indistinguishable on the ground from the at first seemingly clearly morally inferior enemy.

And yes, it's hell--good reason to think many more times than twice before wading into it.

Gadaffi has been a brutal dictator for decades. Many civilians have died under his rule. The world is not short of brutal dictators, many (or most) of them actively kept in power by some world power or another. A few years ago the West decided it needed Libyan oil more than it hated Gadaffi, and he was suddenly a reformed character open to Western liberal economic development.

Then came the Arab Spring and oil at $127 and a popular uprising that looked like it might just succeed - and some very thirsty European nations decided it was time to switch sides. Gadaffi's men were shooting unarmed protesters in the streets, just like Syria (where we are doing nothing) and Yemen (where we are backing the dictator ). Then there is Bahrain...

This is not about morality or legality. It is about oil.

Thus it has ever been.

How many other countries should we have intervened in to prevent death and suffering?





More examples can be listed.

First we could stop setting up future failures and blow-back...the U.S. supported Iraq vs. Iran...armed the predecessors to the Taliban against the U.S.S.R...

If good-meaning people in the World feel strongly about combating evil/mass deaths, then perhaps we should fund and equip a United Nations peace-making/enforcing force.

But then cries about national sovereignty and one-World government would be strident.

So what then is the conceptual difference between NATO forces assuming the same 'World Police' role?


I disagree with McCain...there are other ways for a country such as the U.S. to be engaged with other countries in the World, besides the military option. To John and his fellow travelers, the military is the hammer and only tool in our bag, and all the World's problems are nails.

Over the years the first thing I ask when we engage militarily in the World is "How would we react if the tables were turned?"

To John and his fellow travelers, the military is the hammer and only tool in our bag, and all the World's problems are nails.

I think part of the problem is the urge of the US to try to solve so many of "the World;s problems" For some reason, the US esepcially loves solving problems when there is oil involved.

There always have been, and always will be "problems".

In millennia past, another countries "problems" were seen as a possible "opportunity" by neighbouring countries, and basically ignored by countries further away. Today, they are seen as a possible threat to another country's ability to acquire their resources, by one means or another.

It is also hard to justify having such a huge, expensive, high tech hammer if it is never used.

The US IS most of the worlds problems.

That's a crock. The US is not peak oil. The US is not deforestation in the Amazon and Africa. The US is not falling water tables in India and China. the US is not rivers running dry all over the world. The US is not population overshoot. The US is not air pollution in China. The US is not topsoil depletion everywhere in the world. And I could go on for pages.

It really gripes me to see people who hate the US so much that they wish to blame all the world's problems on the US. We are not perfect by a long shot but we are are not most of the world's problems.

Want to know what is the source of most of the world's problems. John Gray knows.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Ron P.

Agreed. Sticking the blame tag on the US coat-tails is too easy an option for many a group with an axe to grind.

Sadly in the role of head international playground monitor you will always be blamed for one of the following:
a) trying to stop the fight
b) not trying to stop the fight
c) using dialogue when a slap round the ear is required
d) using a slap when dialogue is reqired
e) imposing your rules on the fight
f) being absent when the fight broke out
h) delegating playground duty to someone else
etc etc

However, the sooner you realise that an oversized 4x4 is not a prerequisite to go shopping in and to get to work in, so much the better!

Being four percent of the population but using about one fourth of the world's resources makes the US everybody's problem.

Import Land Model is much more important than export land model. If we weren't importing so damn much of the worlds scarce oil, gasoline and other vital assets, there would be a heck of a lot more to go around.

In fact, we are peak oil. We used up more oil than any other country in the world.

And we are global warming--not only did the US burn up much more than its share of ffs to create our huge over-concentration of atmospheric CO2, we have effectively blocked all attempts for effective global action on the issue.

Do we have to really go into the way that the US and other western powers have robbed the rest of the world of much of their wealth over the centuries?

Do we really think that the US has been a stabilizing influence in Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam?....

How about all the places in the mid-east and elsewhere where we have propped up unpopular ruthless dictators and royal families and helped them crush opposition movements.

And may I point out to all of you ready to blame the green revolution for the population boom that Borlaug was and American?

And where did the ultra-high consumption of everything lifestyle begin and get glamorized by the now ubiquitous TV? Yes, the rest of the world has now taken up our crack-like habits, but with much help from the pusher US, pushing not only high consumption, on the world, but also the toxic neo-classical economics to go with it.

Americans who want to deny any responsibility for their part in the current global clstfck disgust me.

The picture they seem to have of the US as just being a well meaning big sucker out in the big bad world just trying to do the right thing is just so over the top myopic and pollyannaish, I just can't begin...

Americans who want to deny any responsibility for their part in the current global clstfck disgust me.

And people who blame people for just living the life they were born into disgust me. You expect every American to walk to work? Or perhaps ride a bike. Our way of life evolved from the cornucopia we were born into. We had no choice. Everyone is just trying to live life the best way they know how.

The very idea that the average American is culpable for most of the world's problems is just down in the dirt stupid!

Ron P.

"You expect every American to walk to work? Or perhaps ride a bike."

And what exactly would be wrong with this?

It would certainly go a long way toward solving two of our biggest problems--peak oil and obesity '-)

We all want to run away from our own responsibilities, I suppose. I just hold the intelligent folks on blogs like this to a slightly higher standard than the norm, I guess.

"From those to whom much has been given, much will be expected."

What is wrong with that? Surely you jest. Nothing would be wrong with that if everyone lived within walking distance, or biking distance. True urban sprawl may be the worst misallocation of resources ever made, but the average citizen did not do that. That is just the way it happened.

You seem to want to hold people culpable for the way their life simply played out. For simply playing the hand that was dealt them the best way they knew how.

People are not to blame for simply living the life that was dealt them. But some people want to blame, blame, blame when in reality you simply haven't a clue as to where the true blame really lies.

- As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins.
- Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene

Ron P.

But Americans planned sprawl. Of course every single American isn't as culpable as every other. That is why these are called generalizations. But every American has some degree of choice about where to live and work, and what and how much to buy...

I find it interesting that conservatives generally say they come down on the side of personal responsibility. But Americans, conservative or not, run fast and far when their own personal responsibility for particular problems comes into question.

No one is completely hapless--"just playing the hand they are dealt"--you seem to think that we live in a world of no personal choices, where vast impersonal forces or a few devious masterplanners are responsible for all the bad choices, and the rest of us have absolutely no choice but to go along completely with said plans.

If there is any choice, there is also responsibility.

I'm almost sure that making everyone either walk or ride a bike runs afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

I'm almost sure that Merrill is a member of the Literalist Society of America (and maybe the Duplicatist SoA, too!).

But really, what is your vision of what will become of things like AWDA when there is no more gasoline to run even ambulances much less shuttles for the disabled?

I'm almost sure that making everyone either walk or ride a bike runs afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

There is plenty of collective guilt to go around.

Canada, which is even emptier and with many more resources/capita, has made more responsible choices at almost every decision point.

Perhaps the USA should be forgiven making some bad choices, that is the common fate of humanity. But we have consistently made close to the worst possible choices.

Ignoring the future implications, refusing even minimal self discipline in search of ever greater consumption, minimizing social goods, and more are not universal human traits, but they characterize far too many Americans.

And the piper will be paid.


Good points, Al.

This point--"But we have consistently made close to the worst possible choices"--put me in mind of the Churchill quote--"Americans always make the right choice...after they have exhausted all others" (or something to that effect). So perhaps we just have to be given more time to run through every last non-good choice.

The US is not trying to solve the world's problems; it is trying to maintain the flow of low entropy to the mastercorporation.

War- solution to.

It is obvious that we need a solution to the war problem, which is, simply stated, a procedure of solving differences by killing. This worked in the past pretty well, when humans were willing to and capable of killing ALL the other guys who might have had some difference with them (“leave not a stone upon a stone” etc).

This is no longer the case, and besides, we have lost that fine sense of distinction that allowed us to separate us from them.

So, we need a better way. Fortunately, since war is VERY expensive, we could have a lot of money to play with in our thinking up solutions other than war. Here is one, for example. You of course will be able to improve on it, Please do.

Get together with a big bunch of other people also desirous of getting an alternative to the killing solution to quarrels. This could be the UN, or NATO, or whatever subset of humanity you fancy. But they gotta be numerous, influential, and good, and, preferentially, look like me.

Set up an internationally recognized legal system, comprised solely of impeccably honest people whose whole lives have demonstrated innate lack of temptability, moral rectitude of a disgustingly high level, and, preferably only a few years left to live, (“so what the hell, no skin offa my nose”).-- I myself would be one who could qualify if you don’t look too hard, but for one defect- too lazy. So add “capable of actually doing things”, to the list of qualifications.

Then, thus prepared, wait for the appearance of a bad guy, somebody like Pol Pot, or ten thousand other examples. You won’t have long to wait.

Then give the bad guy an internationally public trial for his crimes. Make this trial tediously fair, and hire good lawyers to defend the BG, so that there can be no doubt of his truly badness, when convicted. Let some of the lesser bad guys go, so as to increase your reputation for fairness.

Now that you have given him a fair trial, cut loose the hounds of peace, that is to say, put a price on his head (alive, not dead), and simultaneously bribe or otherwise divert his henchmen (remember all those moneys you have to play with). You could also give free rein to the technical tricksters who could for example, spread carbon dust all over his electronics, glue his bodyguards to the floor, turn his kids into supernasty teenagers with a cellphone growing out of each ear, etc etc, all non-fatal but highly debilitating.

So pretty soon, the BG would be not only powerless, but totally wearified, and highly willing to take the offered free pass to the resort for bad guys, where he would be trained to relish less reprehension, and be nice to his grandma.

There, war problem solved. Next?