Drumbeat: June 20, 2011

Why the World Isn't Getting Smaller

Tis the season to be selfish. Right after the global financial crisis exploded in 2008, many economists fretted that countries looking to hold on to their share of a shrinking pie would become more self-interested and protectionist, plunging the planet into an even sharper downturn, just as happened in the 1930s after the Great Depression. Thanks to panic-fueled crisis management by policymakers, it didn't happen. But after three years of pain and very little economic gain, it may be happening now.

Saudi cargoes ease Mideast oil prices

Singapore: A slide in Middle East crudes to the lowest in almost a year relative to benchmark prices is showing no sign of ending as Saudi Arabia offers extra cargoes to overseas refiners and cuts export costs.

China's Mining Pit

Favorably located on the northwestern coast of Australia, Port Hedland is the point through which the iron ore, copper and other resources dug up from the wastelands of the interior get shipped abroad — more and more to the voracious Chinese economy. Last year 70% of the exports from Port Hedland were bound for China, up from 45% in 2005. That surge has turned Port Hedland into an indispensable part of Australia's economy and a hot destination for mining executives. The port can barely keep pace with Chinese demand. Its capacity has tripled over the past eight years, and Lindsay Copeman, acting chief executive of the Port Hedland Port Authority, expects it to double again by 2016. "It's a very fast-evolving process," Copeman says. "Instead of being a gentle growth curve, it's an exponential curve, and we're almost at a vertical wall."

Coal costs drive power producers into the red

BEIJING - China's five biggest power companies have reported increasing losses in their thermal power business ventures as they continue to struggle with rising coal costs and capped electricity prices.

Three-step solution for petrol shortage

There is more silence than mystery about the persistent petrol shortage that is making life difficult in the Northern Emirates. And the short-term solution is clear. Now it is time for the Federal Government to get the pumps re-opened - then we can consider a more efficient market solution.

Fuel shortages breed black markets in Yemen

Plagued by the months-long sharp fuel shortages, black markets are thriving in unrest-hit Yemen as the cash-stripped government attempted to put security and economic situations back on track.

The security authorities seized 1 million liter of petrol and diesel over the past three days in several black markets in the capital of Sanaa, the ruling party's news website said on Sunday.

Strike Forces Power Cuts in Greece

ATHENS—Greece's state-owned electric utility, Public Power Corp. SA, Monday began limited power cuts to selected towns across Greece as a strike by workers forced nearly a third of the company's generating capacity offline.

"We have started to implement selective power cuts because of the shortage in our available output," a PPC official said. "Right now, however, I would say the power cuts are still of fairly limited extent."

Will shale gas be a shake or a mere stir?

In Texas, the shale gas industry has banded together to try to halt the terrible PR that threatens it in the United States and elsewhere globally -- last Friday, Gov. Rick Perry signed a law requiring industry disclosure of many of the chemicals used to extract the gas. "We have seen the light," Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy and probably the loudest critic of shale gas critics, said earlier this month. Coming in the birthplace and home of modern-day fracking, the move ought to quiet shale gas doubters. Right?

UK urges Ireland to build windfarms on west coast

Plans to link electricity grids offer the UK a chance to meet its clean energy targets – but threaten to blight Irish beauty spots.

Deus ex Machina: Will economic collapse save us from climate catastrophe?

A new paper by NASA’s James Hansen suggests that immediate and drastic declines (ca. 6% annual) in industrial CO2 emissions are required to avoid catastrophic climatic destabilization. As no realistic political solution exists for such immediate CO2 reduction, prospects for a livable future have now become dependent on a single back-breaking option: rapid global economic collapse. And in ‘Deus ex machina’ style, we may get it just in time.

Richard Heinberg - Global Youth Uprising: Dashed Hopes, Anger, and Realism

At the core, though, all of these uprisings are about the simultaneous failure of modern economics and modern politics—even though systems differ somewhat from country to country. People in all of the nations mentioned have one thing in common: crushed expectations. Economists and politicians have promised jobs and growth, but instead citizens are seeing spreading unemployment, rising food and energy prices, and increasing economic inequality. Nowhere are there realistic prospects for a political remedy to worsening economic conditions. Thus, while unrest seems destined to spread and intensify in the months and years ahead, it has no clear long-term strategy or goal.

Norway relegated in oil rankings

Norway saw the largest oil production drop of any country last year as it dropped out of the list of the world’s top 10 producers, according to BP’s annual statistical review.

The dramatic drop in the country’s output, which fell 9.4% in 2010 compared with the previous year to about 2.1 million barrels per day, is likely to serve as an alarming confirmation for the Oslo government that it is failing to reverse the trend of declining production from mature fields.

Statoil targets output boost

Statoil aims to bring online three waves of new projects worldwide over the next decade as it looks to boost production by almost a third by 2020.

Oil Drops to Four-Month Low, Heads for Bear Market, on Europe Debt Crisis

Oil fell to the lowest in four months in New York, bringing its decline from this year’s peak to 20 percent, on speculation a weakening global economy and Greece’s debt crisis will lead to reduced fuel demand.

Futures slid as much as 2 percent today, erasing this year’s gains, as European governments failed to agree on releasing a loan payout to spare Greece from default and Japan’s exports dropped in May more than forecast. Crude traded for a second day below its 200-day moving average, a major technical- support level. Today’s low marked a 20 percent decline from its 2011 settlement high in April, the sign of a bear market.

Funds Trim Bullish Commodity Bets

Funds reduced bullish bets on commodity prices for the first time in four weeks as Greece’s debt crisis spurred speculation that global growth will decline, curbing demand for raw materials.

Speculators cut their net-long positions in 18 U.S. commodities by 0.9 percent to 1.3 million futures and options contracts in the week ended June 14, government data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the first drop since May 17. Declines were led by a 63 percent plunge in bets on rising wheat prices. Natural gas holdings tumbled 41 percent.

The Future of North Sea Oil and Gas

Most businesses think this Government has done a reasonable job in cutting tax and red tape on business compared to its Labour predecessor.

But its failure to redraft the new levy on the North Sea has been one of its worst own goals.

Big Oil's big man in Washington

Lobbyist Jack Gerard wants to make the oil industry seem kinder and friendlier. His largest obstacle? Oil companies.

Chinese patrol ship docks in Singapore

SINGAPORE - One of China's largest maritime patrol ships docked in Singapore on Sunday (June 19) after it travelled through the disputed waters of the South China Sea, in a move likely to raise tensions with neighbours staking rival claims to waters thought to hold reserves of oil and gas.

Gazprom set to become China's major natural gas supplier

Gazprom has the potential to become the largest natural gas supplier to China, Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said on Monday.

"We have all the possibilities to become the basic supplier. Even if China starts extracting shale gas, plenty of room will be left for natural gas," Medvedev said.

Syria's Assad mixes threats and promises in speech to nation

(CNN) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad offered vague promises of reform and clear threats against protesters Monday as he addressed his nation amid months of protests that have left more than 1,100 dead, according to human rights activists.

State TV: Yemen's armed forces kill 17 al Qaeda terrorists

(CNN) -- At least 17 al Qaeda militants have died in clashes with Yemeni armed forces in Abyan province, state-run Yemen TV reported Monday.

Over the weekend, at least a dozen Islamic militants and two Yemeni troops died in clashes, a senior security official in the southern province told CNN Sunday. It wasn't clear if Monday's figures included deaths from earlier reports.

More than 43 million worldwide forced from their homes, UN says

(CNN) -- The number of people forced from their homes worldwide has risen to 43.7 million, the highest level in 15 years, according to a United Nations refugee agency report released Monday.

Gas project off Western Australia highlights rivalry for LNG crown

Far across the Indian Ocean, Royal Dutch Shell has given the go-ahead to a gas project that could intensify the growing rivalry between Qatar and Australia for the title of the world's leading natural gas liquids exporter.

The crown that is now the Gulf emirate's could be snatched away within the next few years, predicts Colin Barnett, the premier of Western Australia.

Japan to open airlock at crippled nuclear plant

Tokyo (CNN) -- Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been cleared to open the No. 2 reactor building's airlock to ease sauna-like conditions inside, the plant's owner said Sunday.

Moody's Cuts Tepco to Junk

TOKYO—Moody's Investors Service sharply lowered Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s key credit rating by four notches to junk status, dealing another blow to the utility as its financial viability remains in doubt over the crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Europe needs to acknowledge peak oil scenario – and plan accordingly

If the European Union does not sufficiently prepare for tomorrow's new energy challenges, then it will lose out in the long-term to more creative economies, a conference in Brussels has been told.

According to one MEP, the inability to acknowledge limits to conventional oil exploration will not only mean losing out to more innovative economies, but also contribute to energy insecurity as current resources become more precious.

Food - America's Manifest Destiny

Rarely taken into account is the prospect of a world fertilizer shortage that may make talk of the world's 'energy deficit' sound like 'the good ole days.' Basic to maximizing agricultural yield and in turn food production are such core mined minerals as phosphates, potash and nitrates. Though nitrates can be substituted with natural gas based ammonia and other nitrogen based fertilizers, there is no such substitute for phosphates and potash that have to be physically mined and processed. Their presence and availability is neither limitless nor readily accessible. In future years, fables of 'peak oil' may well pale by comparison to 'peak fertilizer.'

Short Sellers Hammer ‘Solarcoaster’ as Glut of Chinese Panels Sinks Prices

A surge in Chinese competition and solar subsidy cuts in the world’s biggest markets of Germany and Italy have attracted short selling that has helped push down the 37-member Bloomberg Global Leaders Solar Index 22 percent this quarter. The index’s price-earnings ratio has dropped to 15 from 19 since March 31.

Wall Street's Irrational, Dangerous Hatred of Solar Stocks

While solar companies are being beaten up, the fossil-fuels side of the energy supply is having a more fundamental, structural problem: Oil demand has run ahead of our apparent capacity for production. Total world oil reserves have declined significantly over the past two years (an exception being the U.S. strategic reserve, but that, too, may soon be tapped), which can only mean that the world is using oil faster than it's being pumped.

It's difficult to overstate how economically dangerous this is, since oil-price spikes have preceded all recessions since 1970. Environment aside, this is why we need to bring more renewables online, to lessen our ridiculous economic vulnerability to oil prices.

Is an Oil Supply Crunch Ahead?

How bad is it getting out there?

The world consumed about 86.7 million barrels of oil every day during 2010. Very soon, we'll be over 90 million barrels per day. The IEA even expects global demand to reach 95.3 million barrels per day within the next five years.

Things have gotten so tight in China that diesel exports leaving the country were suspended last month. They're trying to conserve as much as possible.

Shutting Nuclear Plants Would Boost Coal And Carbon Emissions

Shuttering even one U.S. nuclear power plant could unleash massive carbon emissions if fossil-fuel plants were used to make up the lost power, according to a new study released this weekend by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Rich Nations Break $30 Billion Climate Promise, Poor World Says

Richer countries have failed to supply the $30 billion of climate financing they pledged at the Copenhagen summit in 2009, developing world officials and non- governmental organizations said.

Amid Texas Drought, High-Stakes Battle Over Water

The current drought, drier than any other October-through-May stretch in Texas history, has heightened the stakes in an already contentious long-term planning battle over water from these lakes, which feed the lower Colorado River as it runs southeast to the Gulf of Mexico. It has pitted fast-growing cities like Austin, which depend on the water for drinking and recreation, against rice farmers near the Gulf, who need vast amounts of water for irrigation.

Lakeside residents and business owners like Ms. Caylor, frustrated by dropping water levels, want to keep the lakes as full as possible.

Last week, the Lower Colorado River Authority, a powerful state organization that controls the water in the two lakes and much of the river, postponed a decision on whether to grant a contract to another major user. A coal plant planned near Bay City, downriver near the rice farmers, had sought to pay the L.C.R.A. $55 million up front, plus additional fees, to build a reservoir and ensure a 40-year supply of water to cool the plant.

Not only did Norway's output fall by 9.4% from 2009 to 2010 it has also fallen by approximately 10% for the first 5 months of 2011 compared with the first 5 months of 2010. What is new is that gas production is also falling due to a falling market in the UK. This is largely due to the fact that long term gas contracts are tied to oil price and are not competitive in the current market. However, it is also due to falling demand due to state of the UK economy.

The UK is preferring LNG imports at the moment - in fact there's been a political row over tax changes which has even shut down at least one UK field as it is cheaper to import LNG. Some might argue there is reason behind the government's apparent madness...

UK imports more gas by ship than Norway pipelines

LONDON May 26 (Reuters) - British imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) surged 62 percent in the first three months of 2010, displacing Norwegian pipelines as the biggest source of imported gas for the first time, government data showed.

Britain imported more energy in the form of LNG, mainly from Qatar, than by pipeline from Norway in January 2011 and LNG imports remained above monthly Norwegian imports from February to March. "Imports of LNG are up almost two thirds on the first quarter of 2010, and accounted for 44 percent of total imports," the Department of Energy and Climate said in its monthly energy statistics report published on Thursday.

Britain's LNG imports in the first quarter were 78,370 gigawatt hours (GWh), with Norway supplying 76,877 GWh, or 43 percent of total UK imports, and supplies from the Netherlands third with 18,379 GWh.

The sharp rise in LNG imports came as Norwegian exports to Britain fell 18 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011, in part because of problems with Norwegian gas infrastructure.

Currently LNG flows into the UK network are running at 50 mcm/day. The Langeled pipeline has been flowing at about 20mcm/day over the last 24 hours.

Centrica blames windfall tax for closure of UK's largest gas field

British Gas owner Centrica says that it doesn’t make any financial sense to re-start production at its Morecambe South gas field, which it closed for maintenance a couple of months ago; thanks to the Government’s new tax regime for energy firms, it’s now cheaper for Centrica to import gas from elsewhere rather than do the dirty work itself. Some are suggesting that this is a political move, intended to put pressure on the Treasury. But either way, it’s hard to argue with the financial logic. This windfall tax no doubt seemed like a wizard wheeze to whichever Treasury mandarin dreamed it up – but given its possible effect on investment, it could end up doing more harm than good…

This is a big and important gas field; according to Centrica, it’s capable of producing about one-eighth of the UK’s annual residential demand. But the company says that as a result of the windfall tax on energy companies announced in the March budget, the field is now taxed at 81% - which means its profitability ‘can be marginal’. In other words, extracting gas from there – as opposed to buying it in – no longer makes any economic or commercial sense. So from now on, it intends to operate the field ‘on a more intermittent basis’, i.e. if/ when the sums add up

With the UK public facing 20% domestic gas price increases and a spot price of nearly 60p/therm, and massively increase LNG imports (and re-exports) at unprecedented prices due to the collapse of LNG supply from Libya, and increased demand from Japan, with the UK rapidly increasing its CO2 emissions due to burning increasing quantities of imported coal, you are saying that Norway natural gas production is being priced out of the market?

Something tells me the market is broken.

At these prices it is no wonder the UK economy has stalled.

Hmmm.... not exactly pretty, but the surge in LNG imports looks to me like it's pulled the UK back from the brink of disaster.

With the North Sea well down the depletion road, the UK a long, long way from plentiful piped supplies from Russia, and the contracts written for Europen-souced supplies tied up far into the future, Britain's prospects a few years ago for reliable future gas supply looked really grim.

Three or four years ago I read a comment here, predicting with some confidence that by 2015 Britain would find itself freezing during Februaries due to these factors. I must admit that at the time, I was convinced the commenter was right.

Qatari LNG supplies, even at a premium, sure beats burning the furniture....

Regards Chris

Yes. The Norwegian suppliers are betting that it is better to cling onto the long-term oil-indexed contracts for as long as possible in the hope that international gas prices increase. However, it seems that the oversupply of gas on the markets may last for quite a while.

At the same time the buyers in the UK are obviously buying all the LNG they can to pressurise the Norwegians into renegotiating the long-term contracts and delinking them from the price of oil. Will be interesting to see how this plays out both in the short-term and the long-term.

Link up top:Statoil targets output boost

Don't get too excited about this, they are expecting the North Sea to continue its decline. They say the Norwegian continental shelf will produce 1.4 million bo/e per day in 2020. That is 700,000 bo/e below what they said they produced in 2010.

Much of this growth is expected to come from new projects to be brought online in the next 10 years from core areas including Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic.

Ron P.

Wow, 13th place is a big drop. Norway is now only producing about as much as Exxon which isn't much....


Very soon, we'll be over 90 million barrels per day. The IEA even expects global demand to reach 95.3 million barrels per day within the next five years.

There is that damn "demand" word again. And imagine that. They have got the forecast down to the decimal point.

Very informative (and scary) article:

Federal nuclear regulators repeatedly weaken or fail to enforce safety standards


LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

Re: Texas water problems above - "the...powerful state organization that controls the water in....much of the river, postponed a decision on whether to grant a contract to another major user. A coal plant planned near Bay City...had sought to pay the L.C.R.A. $55 million...to build a reservoir and ensure a 40-year supply of water to cool the plant".

This the same coal-fired power plant I've mentioned before that will be built atop a small NG field I'm currently developing. The same plant that just received it's final construction permit from the current "green" administration in D.C. The same plant that will receive millions of tons of coal from Illinois over the next 40 years. It will be interesting to watch the battle between the friends of Ill. coal producers and the friends of Texas farmers.

Some may think the folks in D.C. might have the stronger hand to play. I've dealt with the L.C.R.A. over the years and they make the Nazi SS look like boy scouts. Don't mess with Texas but especially don't mess with the L.C.R.A. There are $billions on the line..."There will be blood". Just a movie reference, of course.

Counting on a 40 year supply of water seems a bit insane given the likely impact of continuing and maybe accelerating climate change. Of course, approving any more coal plants is insane anyway. Where is the electricity going? WT will probably be depopulated in the future except for a few dune like characters wondering the desert in their still suits.

ts - This isn't in W Texas...it's only 60 miles from Houston. And just 8 miles from the S. Texas Nuclear Plant...a major supplier of e to the state. The same nuke plant that just had a $48 billion expnasion cancelled after that little problem in Japan. BTW: TEPCO was in for 20% of the expansion.

Texas needs all the e it can get: over the last few years Texas has added about as many new jobs as all the rest of the states combined. Perhaps it's time to for Texas to start "exporting freedom" to all those surpressed water molecules in the neighboring states.

Counting on a 40 year supply of water seems a bit insane given the likely impact of continuing and maybe accelerating climate change.

Anyone building a coal plant has already dismissed climate change as an issue. So logically they can't think the water supply could be threatened by it.

EOS - Actually this is the only part of Texas where you wouldn't have long term concerns over water. We might be drier than usual at the moment but one tropical storm and the reservoirs could be overflowing. I suspect the situation is as much a power play as anything else. Even when there's abundant water there's no guarentee you'll get what you need. Water, just like oil, is power. And even more so in Texas.

Assuming it doesn't become more and more variable. Look at China, they went from severe drought to catastrophic floods in a matter of days! Unless you have a lot of storage, you might still have the occasional period where you go dry.

I suspect anywhere within 50 to 100 miles of the Gulf, is (on average) pretty wet.

The water problem for power plants is critical.

On water consumption nukes are the worse at 700 gal per MWH,
natural gas close cycle is the best at 190 gal per Mwh followed by IGCC coal at 290 gal per Mwh, other coals are around 475 gal per Mwh. Carbon capture increases the water requirement by 50% or more.


Natural gas can never replace coal as our primary FF source so the low cost alternative should be IGCC-CCS.

That appears to be for inland plants using cooling towers.

Plants adjacent to sea water and using once-through cooling do not have that problem.

Cooling towers are far more efficient at rejecting heat than pumping water.
Lets say you want to cool 1 pound of 200 degree turbine exhaust to 50 degrees, you'd need to remove 150 btus
of heat.
In an open tower 1 pound of water evaporated would release almost 1000 btus of heat. You'd have to pump 6 pounds of once-thru water to get the same effect.
Not only that but the loss rate
in towers from evaporation and drift is typically less, in the example above maybe 20% instead of 100% with once thru.
Towers are much cheaper to run in electricity and water.

If the cooling towers are truly that much more efficient, then why do almost all river/lake/oceanside power plants use once through water cooling?

You have to keep in mind that with a cooling tower, the water goes to atmosphere, and if the source is a small river or lake, that water is permanently lost - you will draw it down much faster using evap than water loop.

Are you really curious or do just want attention?

The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic metres an hour (315,000 U.S. gallons per minute)[3] and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic metres an hour).

If that same plant had no cooling tower and used once-through cooling water, it would require about 100,000 cubic metres an hour [4] and that amount of water would have to be continuously returned to the ocean, lake or river from which it was obtained and continuously re-supplied to the plant. Furthermore, discharging large amounts of hot water may raise the temperature of the receiving river or lake to an unacceptable level for the local ecosystem. Elevated water temperatures can kill fish and other aquatic organisms (see thermal pollution). A cooling tower serves to dissipate the heat into the atmosphere instead and wind and air diffusion spreads the heat over a much larger area than hot water can distribute heat in a body of water. Some coal-fired and nuclear power plants located in coastal areas do make use of once-through ocean water. But even there, the offshore discharge water outlet requires very careful design to avoid environmental problems.


I don't think you can make a blanket statement that cooling towers are "more efficient". More efficient in terms of what? Water pumped, water evaporated, or electricity used to move the water, or the cost to build the system? The fact that so many waterfront plants are built with once through cooling shows there is at the very least a cost efficiency reason.

Thermal pollution is a serious problem, and you need either a large dilution volume, or else an artificial lake. Several Australian coal plants, that have a limited water supply, have a constructed lake and use once through cooling, as this evaporates less water per day than cooling towers.

cooling towers will be the most "land efficient", but they are not the most "water efficient" (or the most aesthetically efficient, either) - it all depends on what you are trying to optimise for.

What in the world is your point?
Efficiency ALWAYS costs more upfront OBVIOUSLY.

The point is that;

Cooling towers are far more efficient at rejecting heat than pumping water.


Towers are much cheaper to run in electricity and water.

Are not necessarily always true. "efficiency" depends on what you are trying to be efficient with, and if the towers are so much cheaper to run than once through, then why do so many waterfront plants use once through?

Cooling towers are not always the optimal solution.

Lets say you want to cool 1 pound of 200 degree turbine exhaust to 50 degrees, you'd need to remove 150 btus.

Okay, one does not cool turbine exhaust in a cooling tower. The turbine exhaust is cooled in the condenser and the condenser water goes to the cooling tower to be cooled, then dumped back into the river, still warmer than when it came out but much cooler than when it exited the condenser. Sometimes the cooling tower water is recycled back through the condenser but because of evaporation new water must always be added. This is done, I suppose, if enough water flow is not available from the river.

The reason for the cooling tower is clearly environmental reasons. It is obviously far more efficient not to use cooling towers at all. I worked, for two years, at Gazlan Power Plant in Saudi. They had no cooling towers because they did not care about environmental conditions. The hot water from the condenser was just dumped right back into the Persian Gulf, some distance away from the intake however.

Edit: The boiler/turbine water must be constantly monitored and treated to keep it PH neutral. It is always recycled, from the condenser to the feed pump to the boiler then to the drum, (except in critical units), then to the turbine again. Some steam always escapes but very little unless there is an emergency shutdown. Then the steam must be dumped to the atmosphere.

Ron P.

I didn't say running steam thru the tower, I was talking about evaporation of water in the tower, which is about 1000 Btus per pound a lot more heat rejection than a pond. Cooling towers are designed to evaporate water. When condenser water enters the tower
a small percentage gets evaporated away depending on outside conditions, some make up water is added and the rest is recycled.
You don't have to pipe it all back and forth to the sea.

As my link showed, a tower uses less water than once-thru as you would expect.

Let me repeat,

The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic metres an hour (315,000 U.S. gallons per minute)[3] and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic metres an hour).

If that same plant had no cooling tower and used once-through cooling water, it would require about 100,000 cubic metres an hour [4] and that amount of water would have to be continuously returned to the ocean, lake or river from which it was obtained and continuously re-supplied to the plant.

Do you understand that 100000 m3/hr is a bigger number than 76000?

The reason the Saudis didn't run seawater thru a cooling tower
is more likely that it would pollute the air with salt and it would also be a maintenance problem. I've heard you can run salt water thru a tower but it seems like a bad idea to me.

Majorian, I read your Wiki page and it just doesn't make any sense to me. For a plant to use no cooling tower that it would take almost 30 percent more water just makes no sense whatsoever. That would be the case only if the cooling tower could get the water much cooler than the original river water. Using the air, at ambient temperature, to do that would be possible only if the ambient temperature was much colder than the river water. That would seldom, if ever, be the case.

No, the Saudis did not use cooling towers because it was an unnecessary expense and it requires a lot of electricity to run the pumps. And with the air temperature in the summertime averaging over 100 degrees F. it they would just not be very effective. The water of the Persian Gulf is very warm but never that warm.

From your Wiki link:

Elevated water temperatures can kill fish and other aquatic organisms (see thermal pollution). A cooling tower serves to dissipate the heat into the atmosphere instead and wind and air diffusion spreads the heat over a much larger area than hot water can distribute heat in a body of water. Some coal-fired and nuclear power plants located in coastal areas do make use of once-through ocean water. But even there, the offshore discharge water outlet requires very careful design to avoid environmental problems.

That is exactly why TVA, on the Tennessee river, uses cooling towers. It kills the fish if the condenser water is dumped directly into the river. (Turbine exhaust is never dumped or sent to any cooling towers.) They are required to cool the water down before returning it to the river. But the water they return to the river is still warmer than the condenser water they pulled from the river.

One more point. The idea that condenser water returned to the river or sea would raise the temperature of the water coming into the intake is just silly. The water, in a river, is always dumped downstream. Rivers don't usually run backwards. And when dumped into the sea, if dumped far enough away, will have no effect. Do you think the discharge can raise the temperature of the whole ocean or sea? Of course a lake would be different. Then they might have a case.

Ron P.

At the local plant, the fish are killed when the plant is shut down and the water gets cold too suddenly. So long as it is running, the fish either stay far enough away or are species that enjoy the warmer water.

The other problem is the intake of larvae of various types of bay life. But that is a problem with any intake of water.

Yeah, I know what you mean. Manatees Flock To Power Plants To Escape Cold Water (VIDEO)

The water discharge from power plants is always a lot warmer, in the winter, than the water in the ocean in Florida even when you have cooling towers.

Ron P.

You are incorrect on statement about cooling requirements on the turbine exhaust.

More often than not, it is the temperature discharge limit back to the water body (or the limt some short distance downstream) that dictates the use of a cooling tower. The cooling tower is just another heat transfer system to reject waste heat from the system.

Even a turbine operating with sufficiently low temperature cooling water to the condenser (e.g., 60-70°F) from a river or lake, with a steam discharge temperature of between 95-110 °F still needs to reject a heat content of more than 1000 Btu/lb of steam flow to effect phase change from nearly saturated steam (not good to have too many water drops meeting the rotating turbine blades) to a pumpable and repressurized media to circulate back through the powerplant heat transfer systems.

In fact, for most turbines at powerplants, it is the temperature (and volume) of cooling water that dictates the lowest pressure at the last stage of the turbine, which may only be between 1-2 in Hg. (absolute). Winter thermal heat rates are often lower (higher efficiency) because cooling water temperature is much lower. That is why outputs and thermal efficiencies are defined by their summer rating.

Are you saying 200 degree/ 50 deg range is wrong?
I think it should be a lot less more like 15-30 degree but I was trying to make a point(unsuccessfully as I confused Darwinian greatly) about evaporation and an almost closed system being more efficient than a once thru cooling system.

No, I'm saying that your conceptualization is incorrect and what actually happens is a lot different than what you've presented. Those of us that have years of actual working experience in power plants (and that would include me) look at what you said and realize that you've either read something and didn't understand what you've read (and hence you've got it wrong) or that you just trying to make it up as you go along...and still got it wrong.

In the real world of (condensing) steam turbines at power plants, the steam temperature is quite a bit colder than you've presented. You can't have condensed "water" at the extremely low vacuums typically encountered and at the temperature that you guessed would occur from the turbine.

Let's look at the two water cycles...the nominally closed-loop steam cycle for generating electricity and the water cycle for cooling, condensing, and rejected the unusable heat in the non-cogen environment that typifies most US power plants.

Starting with the steam cycle

Heat is added to our "cold" fluid from the combustion process by radiant and convective heat transfer through tubes in the boiler. In subcritical boilers we can think of water as "boiling" in the tubes and the steam that is formed is saturated steam. We separate the steam from the boiling water in a steam drum. The heat added to transform pressurized water into pressurized saturated steam is roughly 1000 Btu/lb. (In supercritical boilers, the boiling process is different and there is no steam drum to separate liquid from gaseous water. You can also design subcritical boilers without steam drums. In B&W parlance, a "universal pressure boiler" though ABB (formerly CE), Riley and Foster Wheeler have their designs as well).

At this point there is little you can do with this steam unless your turbine system is designed to handle this situation (think nuclear powerplants). If you run it into a steam turbine, the steam begins to condense as you extract the energy. Spinning turbine blades at 1800, 2400 or 3600 rpm and having them collide with condensing steam droplets is a formual for disaster. So you need to add extra energy (superheat) to the steam before sending it to the steam turbine.

In the case of most non-nuclear steam turbines, we add a lot of superheat and bring the steam temperature up to a nominal 1000°F. As a practical limit we cannot get above 1100°F because the tube metallurgy begins to fail in the combination of high temperatures and high pressures.

This superheated steam is sent to the high pressure (HP) (section) of the turbine where the steam energy is converted to work by turning the turbine shaft attached to the generator creating MW. As the steam passes through the HP turbine, the steam temperature and pressure drop. Typical HP turbine exit conditions are around 600-700 psig and the steam temperature typically high enough to still contain about 50°F of superheat.

The steam is routed to the reheat superheater to extract more heat from the combustion gases (now almost exclusively through convective heat transfer)to bring the temperature back up to a nominal 1000°F. The steam is then directed to the intermediate (IP) and low pressure (LP) turbine (sections). The outlet of the last stage of LP turbine exhausts into the condenser. This section typically operates under a strong vacuum to allow as much energy to extracted from the steam as possible.

The steam discharge temperature of the LP turbine is quite a bit colder than you hypothesized when running at a strong vacuum. In a well-designed system, the LP turbine steam discharge temperature can be about 25-30°F warmer than the cooling water influent temperature and just above condensing conditions. No sense in saving superheat. Nonetheless, in the condenser section, you "give up" approximately 1000 Btu/lb of "phase change" energy for the steam cycle. In the standard subcritical boiler design the condensed steam (now water) is repressurized and sent back to the boiler to repeat the cycle in a closed-loop. The are a number of other steps that I've left out for simplicity.

Now about that cooling water...it has to carry away all that rejected heat. The heat that has to be carried away is approximately equal to the pounds of steam flow/hour through the turbine x 1000 Btu/lb of steam. On the cooling water side of things, that is balanced (approximately) by the mass of water used times the temperature rise (assuming 1 Btu/lb/°F temperature rise). For systems that pull from lakes or rivers, your limit is governed by the pumping capacity of cooling water and the allowable discharge temperature of the cooling water back into the heat sink of the cooling water.

The allowable discharge temperature governs the amount of temperature rise in the cooling water that is available for rejecting the waste heat from the steam turbine. In the winter when the cooling water temperature is likely to be colder you have a larger thermal capacity per pound of cooling water than you have with summer. You also typically have a colder temperature and lower vacuum on the turbine discharge, meaning higher efficiency.

Now a cooling tower is just an additional heat transfer device in the system. You transfer heat from the steam (turbine) to the cooling water and from the cooling water to the air. The fact that you may use evaporative cooling to remove the heat from the cooling water (as a first cut, calculated as adiabatic cooling) so that it may be recirculated (with make up) or dicharged into a water body at a sufficently low temperature does not make it special or uniquely better just because evaporation carries away a nominal 1000 Btu/lb.

In rather simplistic terms, the amount of water required to fully carry away heat by evaporative cooling (towers) is equal to the amount of steam flowing through the turbine from the boiler. So, if you have a steam flow of approximately 6 million pounds of steam per hour to the turbine and you are relying on on an evaporative cooling tower to carry away all or most of your heat, you've got to evaporate 6 million pounds of water to do that.

It also means that you are at the mercy of local meteorological conditions unless your system is designed for worst case conditions (temperature and dew point) and low cooling water flow conditions.

Most are not designed for that, but are designed for nominal "most probable" conditions because of the cost and sizing requirements for worst case conditions. Where water issues are severe, this evaporative loss can be a problem.

The water problem for power plants is critical.

True for probably most thermal power plants.

Thus the allure of PV as a power supplement, auxiliary, or hybrid system addition: no thermal cooling req'd.

I've long thought that water will be the issue that causes major stresses within the southwest and also between regions in the US. Like other resources, there just isn't enough in some places.

Energy is unique among "resources" as it is not matter and so cannot be made to follow the law of supply and demand. But water is the more vital, primarily because of the very short time period that life can go without it.

However, with water the supply varies enormously from region to region, and that will create stress.

One of the interesting things to note is that in the West, where water "is for fighting over" as Mark Twain put it, politicial conservatives are reluctant to embrace market solutions for resolving water allocations. The main reason appears to be that there is no way agriculture interests could begin to afford the very large amounts of the available water that they use. IIRC, in Colorado, agriculture accounts for about 90% of all water diversions, but about 3% of state GDP. As any number of analysts have pointed out, from a purely economic perspective, if green lawns are what it takes to attract software development companies to Colorado, that's a more effective use of the water than growing corn.

I feel fairly confident that the same situation would apply in Texas. If the rice growers who need the water from the Colorado River (the other Colorado River) had to outbid the various upstream industries instead of depending on first-user property rights, those farmers would be out of business. Or at least growing something much less water-intense.

"The main reason appears to be that there is no way agriculture interests could begin to afford the very large amounts of the available water that they use."

To mimic other supply demand conversations, there is no way they could afford to buy that much water at current food prices. At some price of food, they could afford to buy the water, if for other reason than no one would be able to afford to water a lawn, as all their income would be going to food.

The US has a cheap food policy (or at least a cheap Advanced Food Substitute policy.) Fear of upsetting that policy causes odd side effects. Plus food is one of the last exports the country has. Another reason to not rock the boat. (No I don't pretend it's completely logical.)

if green lawns are what it takes to attract software development companies to Colorado, that's a more effective use of the water than growing corn.

Thats true, for a purely local domain (county/state), but as far as the world as a whole is concerned those software jobs were poached from somewhere else. As long as the domain size for evaluating effects is drawn too tightly a lot of zero-sum-gaming appears to make sense. Its not just Colorado, its the entire west, where early users (mainly farmers and ranchers) are gradfathered in, and there are usually rules preventing them from selling their water rights to the highest bidder. Of course you get perverse incentives as the farmer may use his water wastefully, simply because it is so cheap it doesn't pay to conserve, and he's not allowed to sell his excess.

I can't help thinking it would be easier to burn the coal, if that is what you are determined to do and I am not saying it is good, near the source and transmit the electricity instead of shipping huge quantities of coal. I suppose the resistance to improving the grid comes into play.


Some generation of electricity and export through the grid is done now. This EIA Report seems to indicate that Wyoming exports about two times as much electricity as it uses itself. West Virginia is also a big exporter of electricity, exporting more electricity than Wyoming.

The Wyoming EIA page says,

The Governors of four Western States are pursuing a 1,300-mile high-capacity power line that would allow Wyoming and other Rocky Mountain States to transmit as much as 12 thousand megawatts of electricity to California.

Last updated in October 2009

Someone would need to research what has actually happened, since the entry seems a little out of date.

This project is still being developed, by TransCanada Pipelines (the same company being labelled as evil incarnate for wanting to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline to the Gulf Coast).

There are actually two separate projects, Zephyr and Chinook, one to go from Wyoming to Vegas and onto Ca, and the other from Montana to Vegas and on to Ca.


Just an update on a discussion about urban agriculture a few of us were having a few days ago.

Someone opined that growing food for profit in the city was impossible because people would just steal produce from the plots.

So I asked some urban farmers at our local farmers markets about this. They grow in some of the most depressed areas of the Twin Cities. They say that they have had no problems with theft.

One guy pointed out that he has fences around the plots, which is one level of deterrent. He also makes it a point to get to know the neighbors, to find out what kinds of produce they like, and to give them some free, especially to those who look like they could least afford it. This buys him good will and 'eyes on the street.'

A point I would make is that those who are likely to steal things aren't likely to want to go after beats and kale. What are they going to do with them--set up a stand at the farmers market? People who steal are generally looking for fast cash for drugs. Rhubarb and squash does not buy you much meth or crack.

dohboi - Along those same lines just heard a report on NPR: despite the urban rumors crime hasn't gotten worse since economic times began getting tougher. Long story short: honest folks don't tend to steal even if they aren't doing so good and dishonest folks steal regardless if the economy is doing fine.

Thanks, Rock. I saw that, too.

I think there may be even more subtle psychology going on there, though I can't prove it (but when has that ever stopped me from spewing my BS??)

I think when people aren't doing well though they are told that it is the good times, resentment builds up, and it at least allows some to see themselves as being little robin hoods, redistributing wealth.

But when nearly everyone is having bad times, that rationalization doesn't hold up as well.

(OK, now go ahead and shoot holes through that loose web of attempted cogitation.)

I also noticed that charitable giving actually went up.

Perhaps bad times are good for men's souls, if not their pocket books?

The super rich are much better protected than they used to be with their own private security forces, a booming business. They have found ways to steal from the rest of us and we can't figure out a way to steal back from them. People at the top are doing better than ever so I think there should be more resentment than ever. It could be, however, that the super rich are not as accessible.

I also don't think that most people, least of all those at the bottom, truly understand what has happened ove the last several years with respect to the concentration of wealth in financial institutions aided and abetted by the federal government and the federal reserve.

Very true. I guess I was thinking about what people can see in their own communities, and that is that pretty much everyone is suffering from the current situation.

The picture of Bush looking down on New Orleans from his comfy jet high above pretty much epitomizes to me the relationship of the super-rich to the rest of us.

"They have found ways to steal from the rest of us and we can't figure out a way to steal back from them."

Who exactly has found a way to steal from us?

Surely your not talking about all wealthy people, because if a person becomes wealthy, even stinking rich by providing a service or good to their fellow man, a service or good that their fellow man freely wants, how is that stealing?

I have an idea your probably not talking about all rich people, are you?

I generally try to refrain from ideological discussions on this site, but....oh well can't resist....

wildb, a few suggested revisions to your question:

"because if a person becomes wealthy(born into to a real estate fortune), even (grew up) stinking rich, by providing a service or good to their fellow man (daddy gave a large donation to an Ivy League school and then his partner wrote you a letter to get that job at Goldman Sachs), a service or good that their fellow man freely wants (a snake oil sales pitch that convinced retirees to invest in your casino, and you succeeded in hiding that it is in fact a casino), how is that stealing?"

I'd say its not stealing, not in its strictest interpretation. Just means they are leaches on society and should be taxed accordingly.

Or as Mack the Knife concludes at the end of "The Three Penny Opera" (more or less), it is better to be a banker and have people on their knees where you can rob them constantly that it was in his previous occupation as a killer and thief to have them on their backs where you can only rob them once.

Americas wealthy runs the whole spectrum, from truly selfmade men and women who earned their wealth providing an important service, to those who got it by conning widows and orphans out of their lifesavings. To paint them all with the same broad brush is wrong. I suspect the fraction of ill gotten wealth among the super-rich is increasing however.

wildbourgman is right --why can't people on this site stop beating up on those poor rich people! We should all get down on our hands and knees and thank Prosperity Gospel Jesus that these Supermen even bless us with their presence! Why we'd all be primitives living in caves trying to decide how to "fairly" divide a coconut if it were for these innovative, genius Alpha-men. Every CEO earning 400x the average worker clearly earns every penny --he is obviously 400x smarter, works 400x faster, and is 400x more productive than anyone else. Every good-ol-boy "legacy" admitted to an Ivy League school, then catapulted into a boardroom easy chair deserves our unqualified admiration and respect! Skimming off the top via complicated derivatives and using the Federal Reserve/Treasury as their personal unlimited credit line @0%-interest (unlike the rest of us rent-paying scum) is just more evidence of how exceptional the top .01% really are.

Rich bashers --get thee to Amazon.com and buy anything by Ayn Rand or Rush Limbaugh.

You are joking, right? Ol' Lush cost me a job and a career back 19 years ago. My boss used to listen every afternoon to the rants, which re-enforced his bias against the common man and against tree huggers. Ol' Lush obviously hadn't spent much tine in a big city with smog problems, therefore claimed that all those environmental regs were a waste of time and money. I, however, having found that I could not live in California smog, had a different perspective, especially after studying the science behind Global Warming...

E. Swanson

I thought the sarcasm was pretty obvious, but perhaps should have included the /sarcanol tags anyway.

Re: smog, NCAL is much, much cleaner (excepting the central valley). You must be referring to L.A.

Even NCAL isn't that great (by that I mean Bay Area). Of course you pay one way or another, I found the cleanest air in the Bay area, but it is also by a huge margin the hottest air. Today's 102 is just the beginng of 100plus days (and 75-80 nights), whereas San Franciscan's are praying for warm weather, so they don't have to wear their Jackets 20days during July.

When I left California in 1976, the Bay Area could expe4rience rather heavy smog, especially toward the south end of the Bay. That was about the time that catalytic converters appeared on new cars, which I suspect improved things considerably. Of course, more recent smog reducing equipment helped, as did the IM programs...

E. Swanson

"Who exactly has found a way to steal from us? "

The people who sell addictions, (using the term colloquially) who convince the marketplace to buy things they don't actually need. They may 'freely want' something, but if it's snake oil, it's theft.

Tech toys can be addictions, cigs, alcohol, snack foods, sex and violence in countless forms, time-killers like many video games and other entertainments, pro sports, cheap plastic junk assembled at slave wages that collapses after a couple uses. This is all Stealing. (Bluebell Ice Cream is actually approved for some medicinal uses..)

No, every rich person isn't doing this, but it's common enough a business norm to be accepted as a central part of our market system.

snack foods, sex and violence in countless forms, time-killers like many video games and other entertainments, pro sports...

Whoa, there --you got something against video games, sports, snack food and sex?? I'm as pro-green as the next guy and recognize too much of anything can be a bad thing, but... it's a big stretch to call free purchases of (presumably "bad-for-you") stuff "theft". Human beings seem to be hard-wired for sex/pleasure, consumption, competition and game-playing, so I don't know how you socialize against that, assuming it's even possible. Capitalism as a system has created many ills, but even so I doubt it can be blamed for every unpleasant trait about human nature going back to the beginning of our species.

Personally, I'm a lot more concerned about the *actual theft* being perpetrated by the banking/Wall Street cartels, their capture of all levels of government, not to mention a functionally regressive tax code, endless military adventures for dwindling resources, etc.

I'm not against snacks made of REAL food, or REAL sex, and even violence for its part.. but the addictive fantasy versions of them are being psycho-marketed precisely to the parts of our brains, starting with very young kids, that are nearly undefended from them; so that many ARE getting played (hence, I'll call that fraud and 'stealing'), and it's affecting peoples health, wealth and relationships, it diverts our energies into what are frequently very expensive dead-ends, when there are important things going on that ought to be known about and attended to.. no?

I'm not against their EXISTENCE, but they are being heavily abused, and encouraged to BE so abused.. and have people habitually spending money and time that they clearly SHOULD be spending on their actual needs.

Those 'ancient unpleasant traits' are being consciously and energetically leveraged for profit, and I'll call that stealing. It was likely stealing back then, too.. but now it's codified, mechanized and mass-produced.

I know, pushing against American 'Fun Culture' is just begging for a turn with the PRUDE cap on, standing in the bad-boy corner, but I'll be ok, I've got a Game-boy.

"Society is like a stew, if not stirred frequently, the scum rises to the top."
-Edward Abbey

No, not all wealthy persons steal. But the major financial institutions have done so, via flagrant fraud. This fraud, in turn, has financed campaigns for both political parties so neither party wants to touch the goose that lays the golden eggs. The documentation for this fraud is extensive and pervasive. The constant use of cash to buy off politicians who consider raising the issue is also well documented. Consequently almost everyone who works in finance over the last decade who has accumulated wealth has done so via criminal actions, even if they are not aware of it.

The root of the fraud, mortgage fraud, has resulted in large swaths of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) that are held by other financial institutions. In self-defense, many of these other institutions are now finally beginning to engage in civil lawsuits against the likes of Goldman, JPM, Citi, BOA, etc.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration, led by the so-called attorney general named Eric Holden, continues to sit on its hands despite having admissions under oath of hundreds of thousands of fraudulent mortgages by former officers of these same banks. Since the financial institutions were amongst the largest campaign donors to Obama's campaign, he will not dare go after them.

Again, the mainstream media has largely ignored this issue (because of advertising dollars!!) but if you do your research you will discover that this fraud is vast and pervasive, and further, this fraud is at the core of the Eurozone mess and at the core of the US financial mess. It can never be paid back, which is why the banks are now using political influence to raid tax dollars in almost every western nation to help them cover their mounting losses. But the taxpayer has no obligation to such institutions. Indeed, if we lived in a true capitalist market, those institutions would already be bankrupt and gone. If we lived in a socialist market, these institutions would not have been allowed to do this. Note: we do not live in a socialist economy either, despite ignorant protests from the right.

The system you live under today is given various names. Kleptocracy, corporatocracy, and other names bounce around the internet. But the name that no one wishes to really use because the word has been so badly distorted over the years is fascism. This is Mussolini style economic fascism, where the corporations go hand-in-hand with the government and the individual is subordinated to the needs of the state and the corporation. The failure of most voters, such as yourself, to even recognize this allows for the continued existence of two parties that are very similar on all critical issues and only differ on cosmetic issues that do not affect the overall status quo in any great manner. And this is how the banks wish it to remain. This is also why protests are reaching critical mass in Athens, and may reach critical mass in Madrid, Lisbon, and even Rome and Paris eventually. Those people are beginning to wake up. No, they won't ever get the freebies their government promised them but at the same time they do not deserve a yoke of eternal debt slavery to the world's largest banks.

And who knows? Perhaps Americans will wake up from American Idol and demand that they too stop being fleeced by liars and thieves. I won't hold my breath waiting, but it could happen.

But the name that no one wishes to really use because the word has been so badly distorted over the years is fascism.

For some reason I like that.

And yet the word has other meanings.

A BBC documentary on Guatemalan immigrants traveling through Mexico to reach California showed the heartwarming generosity of poor people along the way who stood out in the blazing sun to offer bottles of water and bunches of bananas to these people sitting on top of boxcars heading north. They scarcely had more than the immigrants, didn't know them and would probably never see them again yet they were generous. The comparison with their treatment I have seen at the hands of the rich employers in the 'promised land' was striking. It lead me to the conclusion that wealth is the father of greed and poverty the mother of generosity.

It lead me to the conclusion that wealth is the father of greed and poverty the mother of generosity.

I think your mixing up cause and effect here. One of my favorite aphorisms is:

"You don't get rich by being generous."

As long as one defines "rich" in terms of money then I think this is pretty true. At least at the lower income levels, generous people are far less likely to obtain wealth if they're giving away what little they have.


So... Gordon Gekko was right?

You have anything that backs that up? I don't know that I've ever seen this claim supported in all the years I've heard it. It sounds way too pat.

I know a lot of folks who seem inclined to toss constant change at Lotto, Slots and get-rich-quick Quackery, and I'm pretty sure they will manage to remain fairly desperate throughout their lives.. but normal people who like to give I've never seen this act as the same sort of 'bloodletting' that the aphorism you quoted seemed to make it out to be.

That's a pretty poverty-stricken definition of "wealth"...

I'm rather looking forward to the time when humanity gets back to living in gift economies - as we did so successfully for so many tens of thousands of years. Wealth in my books is measured in personal connections rather than dollars, self-worth rather than net worth.

Have you seen this?

Twilight of the Antipodes


It looks excellent, thanks! I'm looking forward to watching it all when I get home tonight.

Sure, whatever. Those gift economies operated on an empty planet, in some widely scattered small tribes which had the highly oppressive in-your-face social workings indispensable to prevent moochers from bringing them down (sort of a malignant cross between the very worst of high school, and a pre-technology We Live in Public.) For those "many tens of thousands of years", before agriculture, "the total world population probably never exceeded 15 million" (link.) (Only as those tens of thousands of years were ending, in Roman times, did it get to a third of a billion.) So "success" is for 0.2% of us, throw 99.8% off the bus? With those odds, why would anyone have any serious expectation to live to see "success"?

To repeat a recent David Brin quote (emphasis added): "We are plagued by grumpy nostalgists — mystics on both wings who preach hostility to science & technology and yearn for the past. Our only route is forward."

I don't know if I'd call it "success" or not, but I'd call it "probable". I sure don't call what we're doing right now "success". I'm not terribly attached to any of the arrangements we have made so far. "Forward" is a pretty murky term.

On edit, I guess I'm one of those grumpy mystics. I'll see your Brin quote and raise you one of my own:

I think that the modern crisis of civilization had its origins in three interconnected events. The first was the development of agriculture and food storage - described by Jared Diamond as "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race" and brought into public consciousness by Daniel Quinn in his novel "Ishmael". Then there was the development of technology in general as a means for expanding our manipulation of the world - the alienation and domination that result from the use of modern technology have been explored by John Zerzan and notoriously described by Ted Kaczynski in his Manifesto. The third event was the development of money, which is an abstraction of the value of human activity and lets us disconnect the very idea of value from the activities that actually create or embody it. Together these three developments - of agriculture, technology and money - made civilization possible.

By 3,000 BCE the foundation was complete. Once that tripod structure of agriculture, technology and money was in place, the rest of our civilization was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Populations urbanized into villages, towns and cities; hierarchies developed as people began to see that power could be consolidated through money and protected by technology; laws were codified to enshrine and protect the privileges of power; those who objected were brought under the law to be reformed or extinguished as the situation demanded. Eventually, in a monstrous transgenic experiment, a portion of our humanity - our very personhood - was carved out by legal surgeons and implanted into hierarchic, money-based hives called corporations. The rest, as they say, is history.

This world-view is one of the reasons I don't post here much any more.

Of course our only route is forward which seems like a pretty meaningless principle upon which to operate. Our only route could be forward but sometimes when you are lost or you find the journey too difficult or dangerous, then you backtrack a bit and perhaps take a different path. First, by all means let us move forward based on science, the facts about our planet, its workings, physics, the universe. Then let us choose the best we can the technology that can move us forward in a way that does not endanger the planet to the extent that we end up with your .2% despite our best of intentions.

A key problem, at least in the United States, is there is a fundamental disagreement on what science tells us and, there are those in any event who are determined to sabotage the truth in the name of short term financial interests. We don't base our decisions on science but on interests. Just moving forward with the status quo as our guide as if what we are doing has no real important impact is a recipe that may yield us the .2% you talk about. Just about every idea or proposal for a different course which would have less impact on resource, energy, and the climate is rejected as just too difficult, inconvenient, or not in consonance with human nature.

The argument is not against technology; the argument is against technology, the existence of which can only be continued if we ignore the limits placed on the planet.

If I am nostalgic, I am nostalgic for a simpler time when it didn't cross one's mind that there was a problem with the way we were going.

The way forward is to the edge of the cliff. Jevons Paradox has us by the nuts.
I know it's been mentioned numerous times here but for some reason ignored.

I really think Jevons should be read again and fully comprehended. Technology and efficiency gains serve no purpose than to hasten the rate at which we consume finite resources.
Unless efficiency gains are accompanied by legislation to curtail demand, we are achieving nothing, especially if the intent is to consume less energy and resources.

"When you are in a hole that's too deep to climb out of, switching to a more efficient shovel won't help." ~me

I'm going to steal that...

In actual response to your post: Vandals destroy Portland community gardens | OregonLive.com. This happened August 2009, apparently just for the sake of it, one of a string of repeat incidents. Don't know if they've had trouble since - doesn't look like it. Vandals moved on to your proverbial greener pastures.

Wow, they sure like living close to the edge...

On Friday, June 17:

[Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant's chief nuclear officer, Dave Bannister] said for the plant to get to a disaster level, floodwater would have to rise three and a half feet above where it stands now. [...]

Now remember, even though this plant is "shut down" with only 1/3 of the fuel rods removed from the reactor, they've already had a fire that knocked out their backup cooling pumps for the spent fuel pool. They fixed things before it became an emergency. They're also "now fixing" a potential leak into the building that has been on the books for several years.

See the nice rubber dike around the plant:


Then on Sunday, June 19, about 75 miles downstream near the Cooper Nuclear Station:

Levee About to Break Near Brownville

Emergency management officials say the area is turning out to be a total loss causing sandbagging to stop. Instead, relief efforts are now more focused on locations to the south of Brownville.


River inches toward nuke plant shutdown level

Water levels at the Brownville gauge increased approximately two feet in a 24-hour period from 5:30 a.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
By Sunday morning, the river stage at Brownville had reached 44.4 feet, surpassing the previous record crest of 44.3 feet set in 1993 flooding. By 3 p.m., the Brownville gauge was at 44.7 feet, the equivalent of 901.2 feet above sea level. Three hours later, the level had risen another half foot.

As the Texas drought breaks records, the China drought has ended with record floods:




IPT's Market to Market has a lead story on Missouri River flooding:


Ethanol opponents have won a symbolic vote and are rejoicing.

They do not seem to realize that it is oil companies who do most of the blending that will suffer the loss of most of the blenders credit. Corn farmers and ethanol distillers only benefit indirectly even though it is called an ethanol subsidy. It is really an oil company subsidy since the credit ends up in the pockets of oil companies.

Senator Coburn of Oklahoma says that oil companies do not want it. He says let the free market work. If only he would apply that rule to oil and its many subsidies including wars for oil security.

If blenders don't want the credit why do they take it on their income tax returns?

Ethanol will survive the loss of the blenders credit because of peak oil. It will however bring development of non corn based ethanol to a halt as there will not be as much incentive for oil companies to blend increasing amounts with gasoline.

So the net effect will be less liquid fuel supply and continued increased dependence on imported oil.

Coburn is not stupid. He is from an oil state, Oklahoma. Besides, this was purely a symbolic gesture so that Senators could pretend to act responsibly, a first salvo in the reduction of tax subsidies. He knows this doesn't have a prayer in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, there are much, much bigger things to worry about, like the total collapse of the U.S. and perhaps world economy if the debt limit is not raised soon.

The real 'trick' of the vote wasn't cancelling the blender's credit.
It was removing the tariff on Brazilian sugar ethanol.

This gives oil refiners who still must blend under EPA
a cheap alternative for corn ethanol so the only losers are corn farmers, Big Oil still wins!

The ethanaughts have always been dupes of Big Oil.

This gives oil refiners who still must blend under EPA a cheap alternative for corn ethanol so the only losers are corn farmers, Big Oil still wins!

So you think it was the oil companies behind the effort to can the tariff?

I think the tariff is mostly a non-issue, but if we don't have a tariff on oil, I certainly don't see why we would have a tariff on sugarcane ethanol. Do we seriously want to favor Saudi oil over Brazilian ethanol imports?

The USA has gave up on 'oil independence' back in the 1970s because we were/are running out of oil. You have often stated that oil independence was a delusion.

The result of massive imports of oil has been a permanent trade deficit.
Why would it be beneficial to the USA to import ethanol as well?

The winners would be the oil refiners who by law have to buy ethanol to meet the EPA and Brazilian ethanol is cheaper than US corn ethanol.

The US is the world's largest producer of ethanol, if that production is 'offshored' it will be a disaster.

Didn't you support higher gas taxes to encourage conservation?

Or do you want lower fuel prices and fewer US jobs?

The whole fuel ethanol subsidy system is a house of cards. Producing fuel ethanol from American corn has an EROEI of around 1:1, so the US is not actually gaining anything, it is just converting other forms of energy into automobile fuel at great expense. A more efficient way to reduce the oil consumption would just be to increase vehicle mileage standards and completely eliminate the consumption of the fuel that is supplied by ethanol.

Taxing imports of Brazilian ethanol was inconsistent with international fair trade agreements the US has signed - i.e. if you want to sell goods to Brazil duty-free, then you have to buy goods from them duty-free as well. Brazil can produce ethanol cheaper than the US because its sugar cane production does not require the huge inputs of machinery fuel, fertilizers, and other chemicals that American corn production does, and as a result the EROEI is better than 1:1. Notwithstanding that, it is still a poor use of agricultural land - they have an area the size of Portugal planted to sugar cane for ethanol production that could be used for food instead.

The "fewer US jobs" argument revolves around the economic "lump of labor" fallacy. Sure, the subsidies create some jobs, but the taxes to support them destroy other jobs. At this point in time the US is avoiding the issue by not raising taxes to support the subsidies, but that will come to an unpleasant end eventually.

The issue is not about efficiency, it is about reducing dependency on a finite non-renewable source of energy, oil.

Ethanol is more cost efficient than gasoline in Brazil than oil is.
In the US at $80 per barrel oil, corn ethanol is cheaper than oil.

I find it amusing that a Canadian would argue against protecting jobs at home. When I went to Ontario a while back I was pulled aside at the border crossing and lectured about US workers illegally stealing jobs from carpenters.(I'm not even a carpenter!).

I find your 'subsidies destroy jobs' slogan totally laughable.
Try peddling it to the Oil industry.

In the US at $80 per barrel oil, corn ethanol is cheaper than oil.

It would be, if corn prices hadn't quadrupled over the past decade. The trouble with using corn to produce fuel is that corn prices will start to follow oil prices up. There is a real chance that corn will reach a record high of $9/bushel this year, mostly due to the fact that the US is converting so much of its corn crop into ethanol.

Soaring corn prices fuel hard times for ethanol makers

The industry is grappling with increasingly tough economics, driven largely by the price of corn, which makes up some 80 per cent of the cost of ethanol. Rising corn costs have, of course, come amid a broader trend of higher commodity prices, and “as the price of crude went up, the price of corn went up and the price of ethanol also went up,”

I find it amusing that a Canadian would argue against protecting jobs at home. When I went to Ontario a while back I was pulled aside at the border crossing and lectured about US workers illegally stealing jobs from carpenters.

That was Ontario and this is Alberta. Alberta is now and always has been absolutely 180 degrees opposed to Ontario on the subject of protectionism. That is because "national" policies designed to protect Ontario have always cost money and jobs in Alberta. The national debate on the subject has tended to turn nasty at times.

In Alberta the provincial government would encourage you to immigrate and take up carpentry, as long as you don't expect any kind of government subsidy.

I would suspect that farmers seeing the gains available from ethanol would start planting more corn over other plants. Has this started become a noticeable trend yet?

Is this likely to become another problem soon for food markets?

I think that most farmers who can grow corn are growing corn already. However, the bad weather in the Midwestern US is reducing the corn crop this year. Production is expected to be down, so prices are going to be up.

At the same time, the wheat crop in the US and some other countries is also going to be down, so it's a generally dismal situation for consumers in the world grain markets. There are some bright spots in wheat, though. Production is not concentrated in the US like corn is.

Why would it be beneficial to the USA to import ethanol as well?

I thought I was clear on that. Because Brazilian ethanol shouldn't be disadvantaged relative to Saudi oil.

The winners would be the oil refiners who by law have to buy ethanol to meet the EPA and Brazilian ethanol is cheaper than US corn ethanol.

Wrong. The costs are just passed through for them. It was the Brazilian sugarcane industry that was lobbying to have the tariffs ended, not the oil industry. Nice theory, but that's all it was.

The US is the world's largest producer of ethanol, if that production is 'offshored' it will be a disaster.

The U.S. is apparently now able to produce it so cheaply they can export it. So I wouldn't worry too much about sugarcane ethanol putting corn ethanol out of business.

Didn't you support higher gas taxes to encourage conservation?

Maybe it's my jet lag (I am in Germany) but you aren't making much sense. Yes, I support higher prices to encourage conservation. I don't favor tilting the playing field from imported ethanol to imported oil. I think we should have tariffs on imported oil myself, but since we don't we certainly shouldn't have them on an imported renewable fuel.

Since you write this:

They do not seem to realize that it is oil companies who do most of the blending that will suffer the loss of most of the blenders credit.

One wonders what your point is when you write this:

Senator Coburn of Oklahoma says that oil companies do not want it. He says let the free market work. If only he would apply that rule to oil and its many subsidies including wars for oil security.

You just argued that the blender's credit is an oil company subsidy, and now you are complaining that they aren't getting rid of oil company subsidies. Which is it?

If blenders don't want the credit why do they take it on their income tax returns?

Because it would be stupid not to take it and put yourself at a competitive disadvantage to other blenders. But the oil companies don't mind getting rid of it, as long as you get rid of it for everyone. They don't view it as an advantage for themselves; if their costs go up they will pass them through.

The bottom line, though, on whether this is an oil company subsidy is to look at who has campaigned the hardest to keep it in place. Hint: It ain't the oil companies.

So the net effect will be less liquid fuel supply and continued increased dependence on imported oil.

Yet there is no demonstrable evidence that ethanol has decreased dependence on foreign oil. In fact, I checked yesterday, and our oil imports as a percentage of our total oil consumption is higher than it was before the massive ramp-up of ethanol over the past few years.

I'm visiting my mother this week, about 60 miles from the Brownsville nuclear station. Important to realize that they'll see any significant increases in the river level coming in advance. For example, locally heavy rains Sunday night had negligible effects on the river level, but widespread rains in South Dakota at the same time will have an effect next week as the Army Corps of Engineers is forced to open the floodgates in South Dakota a bit more. The Corps could also make the choice to breach levees that will flood other areas but take the pressure off the nuclear installation.

Truly a record-breaking flood this summer -- most forecasts are that the lower Missouri will remain at flood stage into August, or later.

I find it interesting that:
1) The discussion about this post is about making booze from corn
2) None of the posters who talk about how safe fission power have said "nothing to worry about" - like the 1st set of posts about Fukishima were telling us all about how there was nothing to worry about.

I was going to post about the details about how some nuke plants are now getting around to fixing leaks and cracks that are many years old as there was NRC documentation to back it up. Alas, I can't find the link.

Perhaps you meant this one about tritium that Leanan posted below? Decent read about nuclear in US.

This one pretty good update on Calhoun

Some more nuclear discussions below in this thread.

It was on some other site and it was tying the fixing NOW of old problems due to the increased public examination of how the US of A runs its plants.

A blast from the past

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called "SQ" or "Seismic Qualification." That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from Al Qaeda.
The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from 'failed' to 'passed.'

Just relabling unsafe as safe.

I'll be sure to let all the people dead from fossil fuel production, transport and use that the fossil fuels are safer than nuclear.

I don't feel the need to comment on every nuclear related post because an awful lot of them are simply reporting facts, they neither justify nor disprove any position I hold on nuclear.

You, on the other hand, are determined to pick a fight about it.

Are there any websites that give any numbers as to quantities of alternate energy that are coming on-line? ... and how much fossil-fuel energy it is replacing?

Yes, I see that alternate energy technology is coming, but is it coming fast enough?

alternate energy coming on line ? - quite a lot, especially in China, USA, Germany.

How much fossil fuel is it replacing ? None at all.

Is it coming online fast enough ? Not a hope in hell, which is where we are heading.

Ah, obviously you're a Doomer.

You would probably call me a doomer, too.

But here are some articles, each with further links, that you might find appropriately cheery:






All from Climate Progress from the last few days.

The last article shows that, though it is coming from behind (still a fraction of a percent of total world energy), solar is now growing exponentially and if the current rate of acceleration keeps up, could be a major part of the mix within a decade. With similar growth in wind, much of the dirtiest source of CO2 could be replaced in a few years.

Unless there is a much more rapid turn to electric public transport and ev's, this will not affect the PO situation much.

Most here can't see any possibility of a continuation of anything like BAU for much longer, for a variety of reasons. If you want to dismiss all these carefully considered judgments as "doomerism," that is of course your prerogative. But you may then have stumbled into the wrong gin joint.

Even though I have installed a solar PV system, in the scheme of things it is just a gimmick to pretend BAU.

This innocuous little grab.....

if the current rate of acceleration keeps up

...is where solar PV fails.

As current total energy use is ~143,000 TWh/yr and grown at ~2%/yr over the last 20 years, it is reasonable to assume that the first hurdle to attain is to make all growth in energy use from renewables. Assuming it is solar PV similar to this...


... we get the following.

At some point in the near future we will need 3500 TWh of production from PV, definitely within 10 years for BAU (excluding wind from the calcs for now).

The Moree project will be 150 MW of capacity and assuming 8 hours of sun (they have trackers) per day X 365 days/yr = 438,000 MWh/yr = .438 TWh/yr. 3500/.438 = 7,990.

We will need 7,990 of these PV farms built every year, just to equal total energy growth. The Moree project will cover 1200 Ha with about 2/3 covered by the panels. The cost is estimated at $A923,000,000.
If you look closely at the structure of the individual modules and the framework that holds the whole thing together and to the ground, then it is easy to see ~10 kg of aluminium/sqm.

Artist impression image 6.

650,000 panels X 10 kg X 7990 = 51,935,000,000 kg = 51.935 Mt Aluminium = current total world production.

Clearly the numbers show that the rate of growth of solar cannot get to anything meaningful. Solar is unfortunately a gimmick and a distraction to anything like BAU in energy use.

Oner page of that press release says $700m for the 150MW, which is $4.60/W, and your $923m is $6.15/W.

Now, this is a bit more expensive than normal, as they are using 2-axis tracking, which increases the $/W, but presumably decreases the $/annual kWh.

In any case, it shows that even at large scale, it is expensive. Current costs for wind are about $1.50/W with 50% better capacity factor

Being built on prime farming land too...it can still be grazed, but not cropped.

Just for comparison, if the 1200ha was used as a biomass energy farm, it would produce about 12,000t biomass/yr, and could run a biomass power plant of about 10MW, for the same 25% capacity factor, or 2.5MW continuous

The capital cost of the 10MW plant would be about $20m, which is one third that of solar, and you have dispatchable power to boot. You do, however, need 15x the land to match the output of solar - but Australia has plenty of land.

From here....


The NSW government agreed to chip in $120 million and the federal government $306 million towards the Moree project, which will cost an estimated $923 million to build.

I think the earlier numbers were the ball park, these large projects always end up costing more. Total govt subsidy of $426m, nearly 50% of estimated cost. If the subsidy had been given to householders instead to add PV to the roof, there would be more KWh produced for the same money.

Economies of scale only work to a point.

Governments prefer to give tax payer money to their rich friends so there rich friends end up being the owners and making the profits.

You state the proposed array has 150 MW of capacity covering 2/3 of 1200 Ha.

1200 Ha * 2/3 = 12 million m2 * 2/3 = 8 million m2

sunlight provides 1,000 W/m2
efficiency of crystalline PV: 15%

Available power output from PV panels: 8 Mm2 * 1000 W/m2 * .15 = 1.2 GW

Your calculation for the number of PV projects is 8 times too high.


I think my suggestion of 2/3 coverage is incorrect. The say at the site ~650,000 panels. At a little over 1m2 each gives total output per panel at 230W. Instead of 8 million m2 coverage it is only ~800,000 m2 of coverage. Obviously a lot of space between each of the arrays to allow for the tracking to work.

My calculation for the number of projects I believe to be correct, but please keep trying to prove the numbers wrong. I would like to be wrong.

I think panels have a standard area of 1.6M^2.

The Questions and Answer PDF at the press release link states 1200 Ha and 3 km x 3.4 km. The dimensions in kilometers are equal to 10.2 million m2 or 1020 Ha which accounts for some of the error.

The photos suggest the Moree Solar Farm will use single axis altitude trackers (horizontal single axis trackers). Moree Australia is located at 29.47 degrees south latitude. The spacing of the PV arrays will cause the PV panels to occupy about 1/3 of the land area. Assuming they use BP 3230T's (230 rated watts, 1.667 m x 1.000 m, 19.4 kg., 13.8% efficiency), 650,000 of them will occupy about 3.3 million m2 with 1/3 coverage, less than the 10.2 million m2 of land. If the data and assumptions are correct, they intend to cover about 1/3 of the site with the proposed PV array.

The power output of the plant is listed as "150 MWac" which should be about 85% of the DC power output of the PV panels. Since 650,000 BP 3230T's will produce about 125 MW AC, I wonder which statistic (if any) is correct.

The Wattsun HZ Gear Drive Solar Tracker (PDF warning) is designed to be mounted on "6" ID (6-5/8" OD) SCH40 Steel Pipe Masts" and embedded in concrete piers with a depth roughly equal to the height of the mast above ground. This portion of the mount is not aluminum. Unfortunately there is no mention of the weight of the HZ-Gear tracker at my link.

I toured an altitude tracking array one time. They used frameless PV panels glued onto steel I-beams with silicone. Aluminum is not necessary for the mounting structure. I mounted a Kyocera KD135GX to my roof on a mount that can be manually tilted in altitude to adjust for the seasons using 3/4" diameter EMT (Electric Metalic Tubing, galvanized steel). It has a U-frame made from aluminum, weight 13.0 kg. and area 1.0 m2. I am not sure how much of that weight is from the aluminum, but it is well under 10 kg / m2. When the PV panels reach the end of their lifetime, the aluminum will be recycled.

As for the number of projects, photovoltaic systems should be installed mainly on roofs rather than at centralized sites greatly increasing the number. Solar thermal to electricity is better suited for centralized systems.

About the cost of the system: BP Solar panels are high priced compared to the competition. That company is not the best supplier of them.

BP Solar 3230T for $2.64 / (rated watt)/.
Kyocera KD240GX for $516 = $2.15 / (rated watt)

Last time I checked solar trackers for residential installations cost more than adding additional PV panels pointing in a fixed direction. Mounting my KD135 on a manually tiltable mount gained 10% energy and cost less than adding additional fixed PV panels. I doubt the Australian government is a good steward of tax payer money. Your calculation partially reveals the inefficiency and corruption of government.

Your estimate of 10kg per square metre seems way over the top. There's only about 1/3 of that in a whole panel. Much of the support structure in the photos of existing arrays is steel and concrete. Optimising mounting and support hardware for large numbers of industrial installations should bring that down even further.


"Yes, I see that alternate energy technology is coming, but is it coming fast enough?"

Fast enough for what?

To replace Fossil Fuels that are won't be there.

Crude oil is the only fossil fuel whose production shows signs of decreasing. Other fossil fuels, such as tar sands, natural gas, and coal are not decreasing for the present. Some can be expanded to replace diminshed supplies of crude oil.

The other major sources of energy include hydroelectric and nuclear, both of which can be expanded from already substantial levels.

Wind, solar, geothermal, biomass (other than "traditional biomass"), etc., are all small. Even though some are growing rapidly they do not yet play a very significant role.

Conservation and energy efficiency technology can be used to preserve a good life style on significantly lower per capita energy consumption.

"hydroelectric and nuclear, both of which can be expanded from already substantial levels"

As I recall, most of the best sites for large hydro have already been exploited. And of course these projects are not without their problems.

The future of nukes is not looking too rosy right now either, for very good reason in the opinion of all but the zealots.

The last point is crucial. We could vastly reduce energy use in developed countries, especially in the US, without much reduction (and in some cases by some measures, with increases) in quality of life.

Such huge reductions would put us much closer to what wind and solar could provide us within a decade or so on current rates of growth.

But mostly we are going the wrong direction, using more ff wherever we can get them and no matter how dirty they are. Unfortunately, I think this is the way the future will most likely play out. Peak oil did not, in spite of the very strong statements to that effect by many here, bring about the declined in CO2 emissions--PO did not solve GW.

Hydro can be increased by about a third in the US, where it is already well developed. Other countries have more potential.

Nuclear depends on two things: what China and Russia do, and whether new nuclear reactor designs and fuel cycles come to market. China has just completed inspections of its operating reactors and given them a clean bill of health. Inspections of the more numerous reactors in construction will be completed by October, after which the planning and initiation of new reactors is likely to continue. I'm also optimistic about new designs and fuel cycles, although I doubt that the US will be important in this area.

Reduction of energy use in the US is mainly a matter of economics. If the price goes up, the volume of energy use will go down.

Hydro is strip mining of rivers.
We should be taking them out, not creating more.
The Snake would be a good start.

""We should be taking them out, not creating more.""

I agree completely. The pumpers of Black Death are only here a short while, but the damage they will do, can last forever. Sad that so many here on this site, do not see the path that they are on.

If it cannot be done with Solar, Wind or Very, very limited Hydro, it should not be done. Some things are, more important in this world.

Sad, the tragedy of those who do not see the path.

The Martian.

This line of reasoning seems to lead to wars and mass starvation as essential energy production is "taken out" or not replaced.

You do not see the Path. "Essential" energy for what? Consumption, waste, greed, Sloth, and not, in the Biblical sense.

How large is your House? The answer will say so many things.....

The Martian.

I see many paths for the future, unfortunately do manny of the easy or idealistic ones lead to despair. There is no Path with capital P, only lots of choices that are better then their alternatives.

My house is a 40 year old 99 m2 apartment in a tenant-owner's association, the insulation is poor with todays standard but the windows are new and well insulated. Its heated via district heating from CHP powerplants who make heat and electricity for most of the municipiality out of garbage and forest biomass. Its being maintained and will probably be used for another 40 years and more if it is worth the investment to change out the wall insulation and outer brickwork. There is room for a couple of kids but we dont have any and I concider its size to be a luxury.

There is no "despair" in this world. Only life, while one lives. It is not about "idealistic" thoughts or ways of living. There is only life, until one lives no more.

There is only one Path, for a future. Your Path. That which you choose. As long as you have life, you have a choice. Many will say different, but in the end, it is ones choice as to how one lives. And how one dies.

The externalities, the many techno merry-go-rounds, the diversions, the distractions, are meaningless, when you choose to live your own life. Not the one someone else has chosen for you, or the life you succumb to. The Oak tree cares not, if it is Monday, or Sunday. Yet it lives. As do you.

I'm not trying to preach, only to open your mind a little. Change is a good thing. Embrace it.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

My life is not significant, this is not about me. Despair is a good word for describing the unneceserry ending of lots of other peoples lives and the influence it has on their well being before death and other people after death. You could also use "despair" for describing the influence on the environment as realy bad solutions are used when it is too late to start building better ones, the oak tree will probably be cut down for fuel.

Essential for feeding people and keeping them warm, renewing infrastructure, being mobile enough for wide social contacts and hopefully enough wealth for most currently well of populations to not get at each others throats.

Now, what is your "Path" that solves this by getting rid of large ammounts of civilization?

Again, it is not about "my Path" it is about yours. Am I to solve the issue of over population by a killer mammal on this Planet? Not at all. Nature will solve that question in due time.

Am I concerned about "getting rid of large amounts of Civilization"? Not in the least. I live my life, as the wind blows and the rain falls. This means, as the World changes, so do I. Adaptation, is, and has been, the key to the success of our little Monkey Brains, not intelligence or opposed thumbs. Zen thought....It is a soon to be broken limb, that will not move with the Wind.

If your interested in details, I am completely out of the U.S Banking system, with about a $million, in hard assets. Silver, Iridium, Platinum,Potash, Farm Land. Yet I live on about $5.00 a day in food, and about 1000 sq ft of SuperInsulated living space. I heat with a few Candles when it gets chilly. And I rarely use A/C here in South Fla. I want for nothing, because, I actually need very little to have a good life. Conversation with Friends, 1500 to 2000 calories a day, a good Beer, a good Book, Stars at Night, Sunrise in the Morning. Kayak when I can.

Life is what one holds between their ears, Magnus, not in their Hands.

The Martian.

To be out of the US Banking system implies that you were once in the US Banking system. And the accumulation of the $million in hard assets presumably involved interacting with the commercial and business system. It is nice that you are out.

As for me

Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.

Saint Augustine

Yes, good for you that you made a packet in the (fossil fuelled) economy, and are now comfortably retired, and can tell everyone else how to live on little money while holding a very large comfort reserve for yourself. You have achieved the capitalist persons utopia of having enough wealth to not have to work and be free to spend, or not, as you see fit.

But what then is you prescription for a 20 something couple with two kids and zero $ of hard assets - what should their "wise choice" be? do you suggest they mimic your $5/day lifestyle without trying to accumulate the $1m first?

Did not Martian just say that their future does not matter?
I would guess that they are worth something for him if they can work and
provide something he needs in exchange for parts of his hard assets.

You don't seem to understand. I'm sorry. I am not retired, I work every day, 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, and sometimes more.

I am not telling anyone how to live, I do, live on very little, the "comfort reserve" you speak of is for others, not myself. I live Far, Far, from the capitalists utopia.

Think in terms of someone, a little above the Fray, in their outlook to the 99% of Monkey's stuck on the Techno Merry-Go-Round. I got off that 40 years ago. Life is not, all despair and tragedy, even with the coming Collapse. Yes, there are a few other people like me in this World. Some prowl this site.

A prescription for a 20 something couple? First would be tubes tied and a vasectomy. Get rid of the TV. The reason I have a few assets, is that I have had that "$5 dollar a day lifestyle", since I was about 15.... Find the World and your place it it, not the place others put you, or want you to be. I'm sure you can make a million excuses, but, you always have a choice.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

Maybe we should replace them with a coal-fired plant or two. Who needs large scale hydro when you can just burn more fossil fuels instead... where's the harm in that, right?

Chevron Bets on $30 Billion Volcanoes Beneath Rainforest

Geothermal is central to Indonesia’s push for alternatives to fossil fuels such as oil, which the country once exported and now must import, driving up costs and curbing growth. Brownouts are frequent on the main island of Java, and 35 percent of the nation’s 245-million population doesn’t have access to electricity, the International Energy Agency has said.

The nation, described by clean-energy investor Al Gore in January as the first potential “geothermal superpower,” plans 9.5 gigawatts of capacity by 2025. That’s more than triple the U.S.’s geothermal use and about 33 percent of Indonesia’s electricity demand, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands straddle the Pacific Ocean’s volcanic “ring of fire,” making the country to geothermal power what the Middle East is to oil -- the world’s largest potential resource with 40 percent, or about 28 gigawatts, of the total.

There are some risks for drilling in Indonesia:


Hopefully, they will be conscientious about using sturdy bore casings.

I see that alternate energy technology is coming, but is it coming fast enough?


Total world production of renewable energy from wind and solar is around 2,000 TWh per year. Over the last 20 years total energy use has grown by around 2% per year and now stands at ~143,000 TWh per year. Total Wind and Solar only equal ~2/3 of the growth in energy use.

Hopefully in a few years they will equal the growth in energy use.

It is a catch 22. For renewables to grow fast enough, there needs to be robust economies that can invest the vast sums needed. However that will lead to greater growth in existing FF use and renewables will be lucky to catch up to the growth. If economies slow down/go into recession, then investment in renewables will also fall, like during the GFC.

I am a firm believer in the peak oil plateau that we are now on. As oil starts to decline, economies will go bust due to higher prices and lower availability. This will lead to lower expenditures on renewables as there will be not be much money from investors, and hence the growth rate of renewables will collapse.

The world entered a global recession (depression) in 2008 but the global installation of wind turbines continued to increase until 2010. Global Wind Trends projects a global increase in 2011.

Hide_away has a really good point here. I want to elaborate slightly.

The cost of fossil fuels is rising quite fast as we run up to / over the peak. We know the EROeI of oil and natural gas during the high price periods is somewhere below the 20:1 of wind. The problem is this: As the high cost of energy puts the economy into contraction, the fossil industry just retreats from poor EROeI resources to the best ones that remain. So yes, EROI may have fallen to 15:1, but the industry has already drilled lots of wells at higher EROeI, so it stops drilling. The effective EROeI of oil or gas suddenly rises (prices fall) to below that of wind. The oil industry has already been doing this. Few young workers to train. Merging companies. Shrinking overhead. Letting some infrastructure rust out.

A closely related issue is that growing an energy source means investing some of the surplus back into more of that source. So wind may not have a 20:1 EROeI while growing. It might be 12:1 or worse. To end the growth of wind just requires the fossil EROeI to fall back to below what wind needs to grow.

This basically means it will be really tough for the market to switch to renewables until we are well past the peak. And well past the peak the energy surpluses will be very small and growth rates will be limited.

I don't think this will result in the end of the world as we know it (unless you are a condo or SUV sales person) but it does mean at least a quarter or half a century of decline is likely "locked in".

and how much it costs in capital and how long it will take to reach say 50% of energy from renewables.

Are there any websites that give any numbers as to quantities of alternate energy that are coming on-line?

No single source that I am aware of.

I do watch for the announcements of new PV and CSP coming on-line from http://www.pv-tech.org/news/list

There is also solarbuzz, and reva.

Unbelievable divergence!

Below is a chart for Qatar oil production. OPEC Oil Market Report, crude only, thru May 2011, EIA C+C thru March 2011 and JODI C+C thru April 2011. Remember the OPEC Oil Market Report is what OPEC's "secondary sources" says Qatar is producing. That is folks like Platts, etc. JODI is exactly what Qatar told JODI they were producing and the EIA is the EIA's estimate of what Qatar produced.

Realistically Jodi should be higher than the OMR because Jodi is C+C while the OMR is crude only. However Qatar may be reporting lower numbers to Jodi because they don't want to admit that they are producing that far above quota.

Qatar Oil Production in thousands of barrels per day.

There are some things you can get me to believe, but that both JODI and the OPEC Oil Market Report can both be that far off is something I refuse to believe. Something is wrong here, very wrong. With the EIA's production guesses this far out of kilter can we believe anything they say?

Ron P.

Has anyone tried just calling 'em up and asking what the heck is going on?

I presume it is an impenetrable bureaucracy and you would never get through to a real person who knows anything or would give a straight answer?

Did anyone try calling up Worldcom or Enron back in the day? :)

"With the EIA's production guesses this far out of kilter can we believe anything they say?"

JODI reports Venezuela at 2.9 for March

EIA reports Venezuela at 2.4 whose guess do you believe there?

Or do you always take the lowest figure to match your theory?

Jaz, you simply have not been paying attention. In several posts about OPEC or World JODI divergence I have stated "with the notable exception of Venezuela". Venezuela has complained for years that the OPEC OMR, the EIA, the IEA, BP, Platts and everyone else has been under reporting their oil production. Venezuela has continually reported about .55 mb/d above what everyone else reports.

With JODI however Venezuela gets their way. JODI just reports what each producing nation reports to them. If you followed world oil production from every available source as close as most folks on this list Jaz, you would have known that.

Venezuela Oil Production in KB/D.

The reason is obvious, in my opinion anyway. Chavez does not want the world to know that their oil production is slipping as bad as it really is. He sees that as a reflection on his regime.

Ron P.

Good points.

Also, if two independent measures agree and a third wildly diverges, of course it is the third that is going to be suspect. This is true for both of your graphs.

Jaz is just throwing around random, baseless accusations of bias in this case because he doesn't want to see the obvious for some reason.


It may surprise to know, I do not hang on to your every word.

Remember this statement of yours from last year.

"The Chinese bubble is about to burst.

What effect will a Chinese economic collapse have on the US and the rest of the world. Well it would drive oil prices down. A million barrels a day less demand in China and perhaps a million more less in other countries would cause prices to drop worldwide. And how about the US bond market if China were no longer buying? I hesitate to guess.

But China will be the big story in 2011."

How is your prediction looking so far?

Jaz, kindly stick to the subject of the thread. You will have plenty of time to bring up the China thing when that thread comes up. And I am sure it will in the very near future.

Ron P.

I do not hang on your every word. But I'm going to quote you from last year and off topic. LOL.

Very observant.

There is a difference between noting a particularly stupid prediction somebody has said and reading every single comment they make. In fact it is Darwinian who follows me around like a lost dog barking at almost any comment I make.

Also this topic has just been covered and what has he added here? We already know EIA and JODI do not correspond.

He himself admits JODI just print the numbers they are given, are we to believe what Sudan tells us without question. This is the kind of analysis he is drawn to.

In fact it is Darwinian who follows me around like a lost dog barking at almost any comment I make.

The kindest thing I can say about that remark is that it is a lie, and everyone else on this list knows it is a lie. Saying things like that is simply not the proper way to behave on this list Jaz.

I don't remember exactly what I said about China but China is indeed in bad shape. These are all very recent headlines.

CHINA’S “GHOST” CITIES Harbinger of coming housing collapse in China?

China’s Communists Party gear up to avert Soviet Union-style collapse

China teeters on the brink of environmental collapse

Cancer is now the leading cause of death in the Asian country; it's linked to one in four deaths nationwide. Lung cancer is the most common form.

Although more than half the men in China smoke tobacco (less than 3 percent of the women do), the data points to air and water pollution as major causes of the cancer epidemic.

There are cancer clusters in the small towns and cities that house the country's major industries.
Coal-fired electricity is responsible for 70 percent of the soot that darkens China's skies and two thirds of the country's nitrogen oxide pollution, an ingredient of harmful ground level ozone.

Are all these people stupid also Jazz?

Anyway we don't need people constantly saying despairing things about people they agree with. A person can disagree with another's argument without getting personal and without bringing up everything a person said years ago simply to point out a time they were mistaken. We had a person who constantly did that a year or so ago. He is gone now and no one misses him.

Ron P.

In fact it is Darwinian who follows me around like a lost dog barking at almost any comment I make.

I hope people realize that maintaining one's credibility is something not taken for granted. Many commenters are well beyond sincere and invest lots of time doing independent research without expecting any kind of reward. If you sense that you are getting attacked it is at least partly a precautionary measures to maintain the credibility of this site, and therefore our intellectual investment.

Whether I am the concern troll here or you are, it is up to others to decide.


I wonder how many people on the oil drum would really like you to come up with graphs for those countries that have NOT peaked yet, rather than those that peaked over 10 years ago.

Your prediction of Russia was pretty bad, I guess if you produce nothing you cannot be proved wrong.

Any one interested in WHT predictions?

If a country peaked less than 10 years ago, then it's difficult to be sure if it is a real peak or just a temporary pause. Is the parrot really dead or just pining for the fjords?

When you have a country whose oil production peaked 10 years ago and has hit a 10% y/y decline rate, like Norway has, then you can be sure the parrot is not pining for the fjords any more. It's dead.

Countries which have not peaked yet include, who? Canada, Brazil, and a few others - and they are getting fewer every year. Most of their production curves are interesting mainly because they often show a bimodal distribution - i.e. they are two overlapping bell-shaped curves. In Canada's case, it's conventional vs. non-conventional oil, in Brazil it's onshore vs. deepwater offshore.

Russia is interesting because it shows a communist peak followed by decline and then a capitalist peak. I know that idea will upset some people here, but I find it illustrative.

Predicting when a country will peak is a tricky business. I keep a chart of 37 major countries and lump the rest in one group called "Other". Actually it is the EIA that does this and I just started following their data. Other peaked in 2006, so far anyway, and are now about 200,000 barrels per day below their peak.

Other countries that have definitely peaked are all North Sea countries, Denmark, UK, and Norway. Other countries that have peaked are the US, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Indonesia, Mexico, Malaysia, Syria and Yemen. Vietnam may have peaked but we will just have to wait and see. May or may not have peaked are Oman, Sudan and Azerbaijan.

Those not peaked are Canada, Brazil, Colombia, India, and Kazakhstan.

Which leaves us to the biggie, Russia. Oil analyst of all stripes have been predicting Russia will peak for several years now. But one Russia, though its increase has slowed dramatically, has nevertheless kept production increasing slightly every year since 1998. And they have been going gangbusters since hitting a new record in November of 2010. They may have equaled that record or even passed it slightly in May of 2011. But for some strange reason Russian production dropped off the first of June, this month. Production is down about 90,000 barrels per day June verses May. Is this seasonal maintenance. They have never done seasonal maintenance in June before but we will just have to wait and see.

The EIA Short Term Energy Outlook is predicting Russian oil production will fall off 170,000 barrels per day in the second quarter and to continue that decline in 2012. So those predicting a Russian decline can, if wrong, simply say "I was just going by what the EIA told me." ;-)

OPEC countries that have peaked are Ecuador, Libya, Venezuela, Iran, Kuwait. But it is very likely that most of the other OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia have peaked or very near their peak. Saudi produced 9,900,000 barrels per day average for the entire year in 1980.

Ron P.

Jaz - please tone it down. As a casual observer of your recent posts I can only confess that you are beginning to sound a bit unhinged.

WHT and Darwinian have put up their interpretation of data which is freely available, along with their reasoning behind it. Feel free to post your own analysis to counter these positions, but the constant hand waving and personal attacks don't help your cause one iota.


Go back over the putdowns WHT and Darwinian have directed at many other people, who afterwards no longer post on this site. Many were very informed people and a loss to this site, I think you would be shocked by how large that number is.

I would like to get some confirmation that I actually drove Stuart Staniford away from this site. I don't remember if he made a GBCW comment when he left.

None of the commenters here drove Stuart away. (Besides, he still comes here from time to time.)

He left the staff because he lost interest in the topic of peak oil for awhile. If he had any problems with people, it was with other TOD staffers, not random commenters. Stuart has a pretty thick skin when it comes to comments.

Look at any site on the net, and you'll see a huge turnover. That's just the way of the net. People get new interests, and wander away. New people replace them. The vast majority were not "driven away." They just lost interest.

(And this, IMO, is one reason why Internet forums are not real "community." It's far too easy to come and go. Few have any real investment in them.)

yes, this is almost completely technically driven. I get what little nuggets of wisdom I can and try to stir the pot when I see someone talking nonsense.

There is a difference between noting a particularly stupid prediction somebody has said and reading every single comment they make. In fact it is Darwinian who follows me around like a lost dog barking at almost any comment I make.

Flamebait. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaming_%28Internet%29 )

Argue positions, share facts, but personal attacks like this I usually ignore.

Curses on my feeling compelled to even post this.

Qatar produces a lot of NGL.

Qatar is the second smallest crude oil producer in OPEC, with its production exceeding only that of Ecuador. In 2009, Qatar produced approximately 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of total liquids: 830,000 bbl/d of crude and 380,000 bbl/d of non-crude liquids. Preliminary estimates for production in 2010 indicate total production of liquids to be about 1.4 million bbl/d: 850,000 bbl/d of crude and 590 bbl/d of non-crude liquids. The countrys crude oil production capacity was estimated to be just over one million bbl/d in 2010, falling just below its condensate and natural gas liquids (NGL) production capacity for the same year.


Also the 140,000 bdp Shell Pearl GTL project is just coming online.

Once fully operational, Pearl GTL is expected to produce 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the North Field, which will be processed to deliver an expected 120,000 barrels per day of condensate, LPG and ethane and an expected 140,000 barrels per day of gas-to-liquids (GTL) products using Shell’s unique technological and project management capabilities.


Majorian, the EIA figures are Crude + Condensate, not all liquids. If you add 830,000 bp/d of crude and 380,000 bp/d of non crude liquids you get 1210 barrels of all liquids.

Anyway it appears that the EIA is including all non crude liquids instead of just condensate. It appears that because of their huge gas reserves they do have a lot of NGLs and condensate, or will have soon.

Ron P.

Did a new field come online? Otherwise, EIA is hard to believe. If they had that much spare capacity, there should have been a larger peak in 2008. Seems like RR said he had a contact in EIA. Maybe there is some insight to be gleaned.

Shell's Pearl gas-to-liquids facility opened up recently in Qatar, producing 140 kboe/d of liquid fuel and 120 kboe/d of natural gas liquids and ethane from 320 kboe/d of natural gas. This would seem to account for most of the increase.

Meanwhile, things are looking grim for the children of Japan:


"Childen's sickness linked to Fukushima radiation

apanese local newspapers have attributed sickness in children to Fukushima's nuclear meltdowns, the radioactive levels now elevated throughout eastern Japan. Children over 32 miles from ground zero are suffering fatigue, diarrhea, and nosebleeds, the three most common of eight radiation sickness signs, the three in the earliest stage.

Tokyo Shinburn newspaper reported that many Japanese children have "inexplicable" symptoms. Each symptom described are among the first experienced with radiation sickness.

"Japan is dangerously contaminated by radioactivity over a far larger area than previously reported by TEPCO and the central government according to new reports from multiple sources," the Daily Kos reported.

"The prefectural government of Iwate released new data that shows radioactive contamination of grass exceeds safety standards at a distance of 90 to 125 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants."

Science Magazine cites data from the prefectural government of Iwate that reveals radioactive cesium has traveled over 100 miles away from Fukushima and pastoral grasses contaminated beyond safety standards."

Just hypothetically, if the reactor meltdowns had caused dangerous levels of radioactive releases across a large area of Japan, an island where habitable land is at an extreme premium, an area where several million people live, with no obvious place to relocate to, and with immense industrial infrastructure in place, just after a major natural disaster killed 30,000+, would the Japanese government report the radiation levels, given that there is no plan B, and even if people are getting sick, there is not much to be done about it?

Would they not make the decision that until things got worse, it is better to hope that they get betteR soon, and having got worse, find it is impossible to justify their not having reported the danger already, and therefore decide to pretend it is not happening at all, because the situation is beyond their scope for comprehension?

I suspect that's not far from the truth. I believe they will lose a big portion of their island, and since it is not at all under control that area still grows. So sad for them as a people and for those kids. The true cost of nuclear power. What is happening there must eventually happen at every place where nuclear waste/spent fuel is left.

And note that children are already in short supply in Japan. They are way below replacement level, iirc.

This may be the beginning of the depopulation of that island (really archipelago) nation, though with a pop of some 127 million, they do have a long way to go.

Perhaps the Fukushima event is a reflection on the national level of the culture of suicide that is usually carried out on the individual level: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan?

"the culture of suicide"..

With all respect, I think that's an unhelpful logical detour.

I think suicide has to be really willfully self-inflicted, with that end in mind.. if any culture should be examined here, it must be the culture that 'Binds Corporate and Government Power-players'** who make decisions that are willing to gamble with the Death and Suffering of their people, and anyone else's.

Even allowing for the Tsuname, this is murder. Play a violin behind me if you must, but this is extremely tragic, what's just beginning here.

**(what's that linkage called again? Industry and Government with too many unnatural bonds, strings, ropes, 'Fascia'.. fastening them together.?)

Well put.

Japan parents launch nuclear 'emergency petition'

TOKYO — Japanese parents living near the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant issued an "emergency petition" on Tuesday, demanding the government do more to protect their children from radiation exposure.

...In a separate petition, one of the groups demanded the sacking of a radiation health risk management adviser to Fukushima prefecture, Nagasaki University Professor Shunichi Yamashita, alleging he had downplayed the threat.

One of the organisers, Seiichi Nakate, told a news conference: "As a father of two children, I cannot forgive him for having told us that there is no problem and that we should let our children play outside as usual."

I regard it as impossible to keep such things secret. Trying to do it ruins credability and worse would hinder people from acting in ways that makes the damages smaller.

Btw, wonder how one should do to value news about people falling ill?

After the Tjernoble accident did parents to american guest students panic and recalled their kids from schools in Linköping, Sweden where I live. The fallout were most intense 270 km from Linköping around Gävle where the main influence on humans were that you should not eat wild mushrooms and game meat. Wonder if US media were reporting that europeans were glowing in the dark and that their kinds would die of cancer? Lots of measuring and reporting were done about food safety, it was trusted and of course double checked by academia and various organizations from farmers unions to NGO:s. I assume that japanese society is at least as curious and that people measure a lot.

This is plausible, and definitely an indication that those dosimeters being passed out should be being checked more often than quarterly.

The assertion in the article that the contamination is forever is over the top, but getting it found and avoiding the areas where it is at dangerous levels should be a priority for everyone involved.

I find it interesting that you are not claiming these reports of issues with childern as "worthless".

Why the different response?

(and as you are such an expert on the safety of the Atom - perhaps you can provide links to the study data of the 1950's where the US government collected baby teeth looking at strontium-90 levels. )

Because I am not an ideologue, contrary to your branding of me.

I have never claimed that there are no risks from nuclear power, just that those risks are lower than the risks from fossil fuel power generation.

This is apparently a definition of "safe" that is unfamiliar to you, or unacceptable in the context of nuclear anything.

(Since you are so strongly opposed to nuclear, and it would support your case, perhaps you can provide a link to those reports yourself.

For goodness sake, use some intellectual rigor and build a case for your position that stands up to a cursory review or drop it.)

Apparently it isn't only Japan's children that are suffering.

The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 - 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 - 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week)

This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.


Data from Chernobyl, which exploded 25 years ago, clearly shows increased numbers of sick and weak newborns and increased numbers of deaths in the unborn and newborns, especially soon after the meltdown. These occurred in Europe as well as the former Soviet Union. Similar findings are also seen in wildlife living in areas with increased radioactive fallout levels.
(Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment


This is important and needs to be followed but the statistics here are weak. I would love to see the numbers from Japan, Korea, and Hawaii.

See the link "Notifiable Diseases and Mortality Tables" at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk/wk_cvol.html

You can do your own cherry picking of statistics.

We'll see.
"Statistically significant" means something, despite the fact that the data are sparse and preliminary. But so far they're consistent with the Chernobyl pattern.

"Statistically significant" does not always mean something to 'worry' about. If you have a big enough population, almost any comparison can be 'statistically significant'. The issue is whether the difference seen is clinically (at least from a medical or epidemiologic perspective) relevant. For other kinds of comparisons (e.g. economic, sociological) the same qualifier applies. This is not to say that the difference between 12.5 and 9.5 is not something to worry about. I sure would be interested to see what happens over the next little while, and how it compares with other similar events (e.g. Chernobyl). The point I want to make here is don't take 'statistically significant' as automatically being important.


Think of it as thinning the herd, those were only weak children there will be more per-capita resources for the strong ones that survived. Now if you excuse me I've got to go back to reading J. Swift.


Mary Osborne, a longtime Harrisburg resident, was one of the survey takers. "Our door-to-door studies showed horrendous problems everywhere," she said. "At almost every household or every other household we found cancer or some kind of emergency problem, and in some cases, different family members had different cancers." Osborne also noted significant numbers of women who had pregnancy problems, babies with low birth weights, neonatal and newborn deaths, and Downs syndrome.

That nuke power - its just so safe eh? The reactors, when operated correctly do not release radiation - right?

Then why this 2004 report?

A new study concludes that counties within 40 miles of six nuclear power plants have higher levels of radioactive strontium-90 than other counties in their states.

(And I wonder - did the NRC do the review they promised in the 2004 reporting and what the result was)

Electric bicycles facing end of dangerous road

Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, is often acclaimed for its pioneering spirit. As China's first special economic zone, it was transformed from a small fishing village into a major national economic hub.

Now it is making another pioneering move - banning electric bicycles, often referred to as e-bikes, from most of its streets. No small task considering the city has 500,000 e-bike owners.

The ban is for a six-month trial basis, and it could be extended.

Wtf? It only makes sense as a precursor for educating and licensing the drivers. It is however interesting that they have become good enough to be a problem, it might soon be time to add massive ammount of charging outlets.

That was my reaction -- it seems like banning is an extreme step backwards, when the better alternative would be to license and regulate them better.

There has to be more to the story. Maybe some politician's grandmother got run over.

My brother lived in China for many years, and he says this kind of thing is typical--they will be amazingly liberal about allowing some new technology or practice to thrive, but then if it becomes any kind of a nuisance or threat, they just ban in completely.

While he was there, cybercafes went through a huge boom which then went bust when it was found that in some of the cafes people were discussing things critical of the regime--at which point every single cyber cafe was shut down.

It's actually an interesting approach, if you think about it--kind of autocratic laissez faire.

I would think it would tend to make people involved in new technologies or practices perform a kind of self policing roll, since they can all get away with anything as long as no one of them does something so bad as to attract the attention of authorities.

Hello Oildrummers

First-time poster here, been lurking since 2007 though. The oildrum is where I get my daily dose of energy-related news, and what an excellent site it is. Truly.

Now, I just thought I would add a bit to what dohboi wrote above, lest anyone take it and run with it.

In China, cybercafes are indeed very popular, but in the time I lived there, there never was a systematic crackdown on this kind of business, as far as I can recall.
Cybercafes are controlled though, so if you want to use the services of one, you need to bring some sort of personal identification. Then the staff will log your data on a central computer, and Voila, the hair-dye brigade have maintained their frail sense of control.

I wonder if the volume of electric bicycles is interfering with the use of the roads by rich people in cars. An intense volume of vehicles traveling at 15 miles an hour is not a problem for someone who would otherwise be on foot, but if you're in a Mercedes and forced to go the same speed, well, that's a problem. And you don't have that Mercedes if you don't have some pull.


I'm expecting this to happen elsewhere as well.. Bikes are already tricky to mix into the traffic/ped system, not that I'm opposed to them at all.. but it's complicated. When I'm driving OR walking, I find it difficult to coordinate and pace my actions well with regular cyclists already.. the speed and the type of motion is a tough fit with cars and pedestrians. It seems the Netherlanders have got a pace that works, but I don't.

Then, add in a new set of bikes that can also double their speed, but still have the size/mass of mosquitos, and the movement of a bat.. it's why I tend to be in favor of dedicated bike paths.

I don't think it's likely to be the rich.. I think it's just a tough mix, and the Chinese in this case seem to have overreacted.

Hi Jok.

I don't think it's likely to be the rich.. I think it's just a tough mix, and the Chinese in this case seem to have overreacted.

If it wasn't the rich, they would have banned the cars.


It's China, what do you expect? This is the type of BS that passes for public policy.

Sometimes they get it right - manufacturing and one child come to mind. But even then, one could make a good argument that all it will result in is ruin of the environment and too many boys and too few girls, and all the associated problems which would naturally stem from such an imbalance.

Family Home or Command & Control?

Libya: Nato 'killed 15 civilians' in Sorman air strike

Libyan officials say 15 civilians - including three children - were killed in a Nato attack on a building west of the capital, Tripoli.

Nato has said its planes struck "a key Gaddafi regime command and control node" to the west of Tripoli.

A BBC correspondent taken by the Libyan government to see a compound in the western area of Sorman says the building has been pulverised.

...The Libyans say that in the attack, 15 people were killed, among them the two grandchildren of Khweildy al-Hamidy - a six-year-old and a boy who was either three or four - as well their mother who, we're being told, was pregnant. Not long after I arrived here, they brought out the remains of the boy.

...Mr Hamidy has been part of Col Muammar Gaddafi's inner circle since the 1969 coup that brought the Libyan leader to power. Officials say Mr Hamidy himself escaped the air strike unharmed.

Reporters taken to the site say that the Libyans did not prevent them visiting any part of the site and they saw nothing that indicated anything other than a family home.

This comes just one day after NATO admitted to accidentally blowing up civilians on Sunday.

It isn't hard for the Libyan government to play foreign reporters. They have access to the sites well before they let the reporters in and can pick and choose which sites they allow access to. It's an old and well understood game.

That said, I'd not be surprised if their story is true this time. This is the sort of thing that happens when you start throwing large chunks of high explosives around and why it is to be avoided if at all possible.

Those foreign reporters have been to so many clumsily faked sites, that they aren't so easy to fool. Apparently it was the house of a very well placed Qaddafi operative, so it might have been considered as a legitimate target, but still have contained family members.

I've heard it in their voices on the radio, the "this is what I have to say to continue to have access, but take it with a grain of salt" tone.

I doubt any foreign reporter on the scene is fooled, but it's going to be a while before the ones in Tripoli now will be able to tell the whole story they went there to get.

The BBC reporters always say to camera if there is an area the Libyan minders won't let them go near (which is most of the time). This time they were very explicit (as were other reporters) that the were allowed to go anywhere at the scene. NATO admits intentionally targetting the building as a "Command and Control Centre" and showed a pre-strike photo showing the building with apparently too many satellite dishes for someone's liking.

RT Moscow is running the story as "NATO DEAD WRONG - miss intended target and hit his grandson's 4th birthday party"

Whack a mole. As OPEC withers on the vine, another rises in the West

Lawmakers from 4 states discussing energy policy

SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of states responsible for almost a third of the domestic energy production have joined forces to assert their rights to manage their own resources and environment.

The Energy Producing States Committee officially launched Thursday in inauspicious fashion, as about two dozen legislators, energy company representatives and government staffers met in a small conference room in a downtown Salt Lake City hotel.

The committee includes legislators from Alaska, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. Other states are also being recruited to join, such as West Virginia and Louisiana.

Although environmental groups don't currently have a representative on the committee, Lubnau said interests from across the political spectrum have been invited. Also, the committee is paid for from legislative funds and not through donations.

Although their citizens are picking up the tab, these legislators serve another master

Rep. Roger Barrus (R – Centerville, UT) will be hosting the group’s first meeting in Salt Lake City June 16th-17th. Dozens of legislators [and energy company representatives] will participate and review legislation from each of the states that can be used as a model in other states. Speakers will include Richard Boardman from Idaho National Laboratory, Robert Ferguson from Science and Public Policy Institute and Rob Hurliss from University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. Source

Re: Robert Ferguson from Science and Public Policy Institute

The SPPI [Science and Public Policy Institute] claims to be free from affiliation from any corporation. However, its President Robert Ferguson heads the Center for Science and Public Policy (CSPP) which receives funding from oil company Exxon Mobil.

According to its website, the CSPP is a project of Frontiers of Freedom, a right wing think tank with principles based on individual freedom, free enterprise and a limited government. The Frontiers of Freedom have received a staggering $1,037,000 from ExxonMobil between 2001 and 2006.

The CSPP is also a think tank working to dismiss the issues of global warming. Sourcewatch claims that the SPPI was formerly the CSPP.

Both the SPPI and the CSPP continue to operate, with the two organizations using separate websites. They both operate from units at 209 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C., with Robert Ferguson as President with the SPPI and Executive Director with the CSPP and Willie Soon as Chief Science Researcher of both organizations.

Since 2000, Dr. Richard Boardman [INL] has mainly been engaged in clean coal and biomass gasification research, including development of modular-based gasification and synfuels process simulation tools and pilot plant design and testing.

Rob Hurless – member of the board of directors of Western Research Institute a research institute with expertise in fields such as chemical, petroleum and environmental engineering, coal gasification, oil shale, uranium production, and unconventional fuels.

What do you call legislators who take their marching orders from Exxon; who go out of their way to pursue what Dr. David Suzuki called crimes against future generations; and who expect their citizens to pick up the tab?

SPPI started out as an anti-global warming group. The group of "experts" are referenced are prime members of the climate change denialist camp, including Willie Soon, Christopher Monckton, Craig Idso and Robert Carter...

E. Swanson

S - And what do you call oil companies who take their marching orders from politicians? You have to remember this is Texas and there are groups here that have much more power than all the Big Oils combined IMHO: TIPRO: Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association. “MISSION STATEMENT: TIPRO exists to preserve the ability to explore and produce oil and natural gas and to promote the general welfare of its members.” And understand who these folks are: it’s not just the many hundreds of small oils but many tens of thousands of landowners. And there’s NARO: National Organization of Royalty Owners. Their own mission statement: “The ONLY national organization representing, solely and without compromise, oil & gas royalty owners interests.” And don’t forget the state of Texas itself, one of the largest oil/NG mineral owners in the state. And I’m not just talking production tax income: at one time 100% of the state’s university system was funded by production from the state’s mineral leases.

It might be difficult for folks from consuming states who contribute little to our energy production but it’s not the citizens vs. the oil companies mentality here. We are the oil companies and they are us. These different groups don’t have to brow beat the politicians. You know what you call a Texas politician who doesn’t support the oil patch and royalty owners? Unelectable for the most part. Except for a very few big city politicians the oil patch doesn’t have to fund one politician over another: they are all pro oil patch.

In that sense Texas is more like OPEC than many might think. The oil patch doesn’t bleed the state of its life…it’s a vital part of the state’s life. And the millions of folks who are directly or indirectly benefiting from these activities understand that. And the oil patch does this while complying with more strict environmental standards today than we’ve seen from the feeble/dishonest politicians in the northeast. I’ve gone into detail how the Texas Rail Road Commission gives the oil patch its marching orders…not the other way around. And the explanation was simple: the land owners, who collectively receive more financial benefit then the Big Oils combined, are just that: land owners. Land owners whose families drink well water every day of their lives. Many of whom wouldn’t hesitate to inflict physical violence upon anyone endangering the environment their children exist in. The well being of the general population of Texas is tied closely to the revenue stream of the energy industry just as are the citizens of the KSA. Except one big difference: our folks can readily replace any political leader they feel isn’t representing the citizens in a proper manner. And just like many of the OPEC citizens folks in Texas have little sympathy for all those consumers who do little but consume our resources. Granted we benefit from that unyielding appetite but that doesn’t mean it isn’t resented it on some levels. Much of the blood swapped for oil in recent years has been Texas blood…a commodity many here value more than oil.

Or as I’ve more simply put before: the oil patch ain’t your mommy. And in the eyes of most of my neighbors, the citizens of Texas ain’t your wet nurses either. IMHO Texas would never seriously consider succeeding from the union (not that we won’t tease you with that possibility). But as sure as I am the sun will rise tomorrow the state of Texas will control its spot in the sun…neither the federal govt nor the opinions of the citizens of any other state will usurp that contol.

Apparently, Texas will be the first state to require frackers to disclose their chemicals. Interesting, but then I wonder what Texas will do with this info once it gets it.

ts - We've known what chemicals are in the frac fluids since they began frac'ng. The oil patch knew. The Rail Road Commission knew. Anyone who wanted to send a sample to a lab and have it analyzed could have known. You think an operator is going to pay $800,000 for a frac and not know exactly what's being pumped down their $6 million well? Each frac company has several "magic formulas" they say work better than the other guys. If an operator doesn't know exactly how his well is frac'd he can't compar the different proceedures. What never happened were the frac companies publishing the ingredients. But except for those of us who had to decide which mixture was used it never did matter and doesn't matter now and still won't in the future. The only frac fluids that reach the surface in Texas are the ones that are flowed back. And those are captured and sent to certified deep well disposal sites regulated with an iron fist. Unlike my Yankee cousins who allowed those nasties to be dumped into municipal treatment centers (for a nice fat fee, of course) and then discharged downstream to the drinking water intakes of other communities. BTW: get caught doing that in Texas and its felony time in the state pen.

In the 34 years I’ve been working in Texas I’ve never heard of a single contamination of frac fluids. I’m sure it has happened but very rare. I can’t seem to get it across to some folks how our landowners and regulators watch the oil patch like hawks. Accidents do happen and will continue to happen. But when you understand how steep the civil and criminal penalties are you understand how hard companies try to avoid those situations.

Rock, do you think that Governor Perry will throw his hat in the Presidential Ring?

What do Texans think of him?

H - Sort of a mixed bag with Perry. First, except for the bully pulpit, Texas govs don't have much power. The legislatures have the big guns. But we only allow them to meet every two years. Limits how much they can screw things up...old Texas joke. As a rule we don't even think of the gov as a signnificant portion of the power base. If I could characterize how many Texans see him: He's done good...he hasn't screwed up the process.

He will have a good story to pitch if the economy stays down and gasoline prices go up. Not that he's done anything in particular to make Texa stronger but he'll grab for the credit like any good politicians would. And along those lines he'll have a good story to tell. This isn't a Texas brag per se but folks can research the facts: our economy has weathered the recession well. You may have heard part of his pitch already: Texas politicians stay out of the way of free enterprise so businesses do well here. And it is true for the most part. The cities and counties are the primary watchdogs...not the state so much. About the worse measure anyone can point to is our unemployment. But that's easily explained. In the last few years as many as half or more of all the new jobs in the US have been developed in Texas. The other 49 states have to share the rest. Why relatively high unemployment: lots of folks have been relocating to Texas for years: lots of new jobs but lots of new TBC's (Texans By Choice) as opposed to native born.

As I said a few weeks back: the next presdential election results may be determined by the price of gasoline in Nov 2012. If Perry was serious about running I'm sure he was praying for $6 gasoline this summer.


Thank you for your perspective, educating folks such as me who aren't very familiar with Texas politics and government and with Gov Perry.

I don't dig Gov Perry's prayer marketing pitch and his ties with with the American Family Association...I am not down with Theocracy in the U.S. I'm also afraid that if he were to wield real power (such as the ability to send off the U.S. military), that he might make some poor choices in that arena. Heck, President Obama is takin gthe imperial executive stance with U.S. military action in Libya...

John Huntsman will be interesting...too bad he may be too moderate to make the cut in the primaries.

The real crowd-pleaser for the Republican base might be a Bachmann/Perry ticket...

All I know is that the race will be interesting!

H - Interesting that you mention a Perry/Bachmann ticket...or would it be Bachmann/Perry? LOL. Was just contemplating that possibility on a 6 hour drive back from a well yesterday...a lot of time for idle speculation. With woman candidate for prez and potential veep who can show how he has cast bread upon Texas waters and created great economic success President Obama could be in for a serious challenge especially if the economy/gasoline prices become killer issues.

As far as Perry's religiosity I don't worry much about it. Basicly just tossing red meat to a huge part of the Texas population. I don't view him as any more sincere than any other politican. As I mentioned earlier if you want to be elected in Texas you thump the bible and hug the oil patch. Not necessarially a personal position...just good business.


Honestly, if the Rs are smart, the ticket would be Bachmann on top, Perry as the undercard.

The Rs could make great purchase fronting a run at seating the first female U.S. President.

Perry can make great hay about the Texas economy.

They would form a strong North-South axis (Minnesota-Texas). The MidWest and Mountain West and most of the South (Florida may be close) would be a lock.

New England and the Pac West may secede and join Canada!

Rs: Go big or Go Home!

If the Rs wanted to do something really different, they could consider running a Huntsman/Paul ticket. Maybe the ads could feature Huntsman riding a motorcycle with Paul in the sidecar!

Texas is an "Ownership Society".
They will give the information to the people who are doing the deed, as they own it.
They will then quickly lose it.

Last chance before PO kicks in?
Do you like to be a virtual tourist along Norway's Highway no.1 the Hurtigruten?Hurtigruten is a sceduled cruise-liner combo cargo-liner fleet (14 ships) serving almost the entire Norwegian coast.

An ongoing 134 hours continuously televised broadcast is still being aired - started last Thursday ending next Wednesday .... Available here (the broadcast is 'a little bit' popular at times - Norway evening times .. about now.. - so buffering may occeur..))

EDIT: I just got very impressed with this broadcast!
If you zoom the leftside map >> and press the RED DOTs >> you will actually skip to this time/place along the voyage and see the video from this place ...
Hat tip to NRK (national broadcaster) for this feature..

Yes; I've been following this tour (on and off) for a few days. Congratulations to NRK for an excellent real-time field production job. Maybe virtual tours like this one could reduce fossil fuel consumption for budget-conscious folks... just project the video on a wide-screen TV, add speakers, fans, and salt-water scent, and it's almost like being there!

PT in PA

Unemployment will plague cities for years

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Seventy-five metro areas will struggle with double-digit unemployment through the end of the year, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors report released Monday.

... Even worse, the report projects that five metro areas in the Rust Belt won't recover until the end of the decade, including: Detroit and Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown in Ohio.

... The dour assessment prompted the National Conference of Mayors to consider an unusual call for national leaders to get out of pricey wars abroad and refocus those dollars on homegrown jobs projects.

And this is before they get whacked because of peak oil

Also: http://usmayors.org/79thAnnualMeeting/documents/USCMpressreleasemetrorep...


Welcome to the end of America.

In a different world, we could have had domestic energy that met all of our needs, robust jobs programs, affordable education and housing. It wouldn't be utopia, but most people born here would have a decent life, probably amongst the best in the world.

But we made our bed with Goldman Sachs and the Arabs and the Chinese, and we will all pay a price for decades to come.

Productivity is up. GDP is up. Hours worked per person employed is up. Vacations are down or nonexistent. Corporate profits are up and incomes at those near the top are way up while incomes of the middle class and lower are stagnant. This isn't just a recent phenomenon but a trend. Unless you are in top management you will not be sharing in the fruits of the economy. To repeat, this is a trend and a feature of the American economy. We can continue this way and things will get worse. If we continue this way, jobs will never recover regardless of the amount of product produced.

Neither party really seems to have a clue as to what is going on or they are so in the pockets of the corporations and, especially the financial sector, that they don't care or assume we can somehow recreate the past where a working class man could support a family, have a decent vacation, and a decent retirement package. The Republicans want to double down as they are selling the snake oil that all we need to do is lower taxes forever and business will magically create a boatload of good jobs. It is not going to happen. Capitalism has reached a dead end in America for the vast majority of the population. I don't say this as an ideological statement but just what seems to me to be a fact. Capitalism had a pretty decent run but can no longer deliver the greatest good for the greatest number but just millions and billions for the few.

It may not be the end of America but it is part of the continuing trend for the good life for most Americans. Clinging to the mythology that the free market can provide a better life for everyone just makes things worse.

Times are tough and they will get tougher until they explode.

I agree with you both. But I do not see any explosion ever happening. The rich are happy. The workers have zero organization. I expect no change.

We don't have free market capitalism in this country. It is a mixed-economy, the government has their hands in everything. How and when do you think things will explode?

Scientists wrong to criticize alternative rice growing method

In 1983, Father Henri de Laulanié developed a new rice cultivation method in the highlands of Madagascar. It can double harvests, apparently, compared to normal wet rice cultivation, without the use of pesticides and requiring less seeds. ... this alternative method of rice cultivation is known as the 'System of Rice Intensification' (SRI).

... The claims of having bigger harvests can't be true, say international rice scientists, among whom are those from the IRRI, the founders of the Green Revolution.

Wageningen UR sociologists were commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look into the SRI controversy. They reported their conclusion during a symposium last Wednesday: ...

They reported their conclusion during a symposium last Wednesday: although SRI has often resulted in higher yields, it is often unclear if these are the result of the cultivation method or to employing more labor; the method is indeed more efficient in the use of seeds.

September Sea Ice Outlook: June Report

The 2011 June Outlook suggests a modest decrease for summer 2011. With 19 responses for the pan-arctic (and 7 for the regional outlook), including several new contributors, the June Sea Ice Outlook projects a September 2011 arctic sea extent median value of 4.7 million square kilometers (Figure 1). ... It is important to note for context that all 2011 estimates are well below the 1979–2007 September climatological mean of 6.7 million square kilometers.

Will Arctic ice reach another record low this summer?

Will Arctic ice reach another record low this summer?

The tale of the tape is what actually happens. This link shows the current melt: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
and although its below the record setting year of 2007, anything can and will happen to the weather to cause greater or less melt.

Of greater concern is the long term implications of multi-year ice loss which has been accelerating downward sharply since 2006. On the following link: https://sites.google.com/site/marclimategraphs/

Scroll down till you get to Decline in Summer Ice. Then look at the dark blue bars (multi-year ice) as they step down from 2006 and it looks like it will be gone either this season or next. Once multi-year ice is gone then how long before 2nd year ice is gone and all there is a thin layer of single season ice?

That seems of greater concern, because it suggests the possibility of initiating runaway GW once Summer ice volumes reach a certain minimal threshold, by releasing methane on a (human experienced) unprecedented scale.

Insights from Tanzania ...

Killings in times of food shortage

... One of the FP [Foreign Policy] food articles says that when food is scarce or becomes too expensive, there is always a rise in the killing of members of society who are thought to be too old to work, or who have “lived long enough”.

The real reason these people are killed is to remove them from the dinner table and allocate the food that would have gone to them to young “able-bodied” members of society. Witch killing is primarily, if you like, a coping mechanism in times of food shortage.

Because the UN has warned that the wider East African region will be hit hard by food shortages in the months to come, you can expect to see more old women being accused of being witches and banished from the village or murdered, and old men being ambushed in the night and beheaded. And, needless to say, people with albinism (who find difficulty working in the sun for long) will be also at greater risk. Countries such as Tanzania and Burundi are notorious for attacks on them.

Foreign Policy May/June 2011 Food Special Issue: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/issues/current

See the movie "The Ballad of Narayama" which features a rural mountain village in Japan 100 years ago. They take the too old up to the top of the mountain and leave them their.

Worth a read

Failed Safety Culture at Nuclear Waste Site

SUMMARY: Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2286a(a)(5), the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has made a recommendation to the Secretary of Energy concerning the safety culture at the [Nuclear] Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant located at the Hanford site in the state of Washington.

...The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Board) has determined that the prevailing safety culture at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) is flawed and effectively defeats this Secretarial mandate. The Board's investigative record demonstrates that both DOE and contractor project management behaviors reinforce a subculture at WTP that deters the timely reporting, acknowledgement, and ultimate resolution of technical safety concerns.

The record shows that the tension at the WTP project between organizations charged with technical issue resolution and development
of safety basis scope, and those organizations charged with completing design and advancing construction, is unusually high. This unhealthy tension has rendered the WTP project's formal processes to resolve safety issues largely ineffective. DOE reviews and investigations have failed to recognize the significance of this fact.

The successful completion of WTP's mission to remove and stabilize high-level nuclear waste from the tank farms is essential to protect the health and safety of the public and workers at Hanford. However, the flawed safety culture currently embedded in the project has a substantial probability of jeopardizing that mission.

The Board finds that expressions of technical dissent affecting safety at WTP, especially those affecting schedule or budget, were discouraged, if not opposed or rejected without review. Project management subtly, consistently, and effectively communicated to employees that differing professional opinions counter to decisions reached by management were not welcome and would not be dealt with on their merits.

These folks sound like BP Management. Trust us. Nuclear Energy is safe.

From: [Federal Register Volume 76, Number 118 (Monday, June 20, 2011)]
[Notices][Pages 35861-35864] From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov] [FR Doc No: 2011-15146]

Other snippets

... The expert witness' testimony during the public hearing clashed with the position taken by senior management in the DOE Office of River Protection and by the DOE Chief of Nuclear Safety.
The testimony of several witnesses confirms that the expert witness was verbally admonished by the highest level of DOE line management at DOE's debriefing meeting following this session of the hearing. Although testimony varies on the exact details of the verbal interchange, it is clear that strong hostility was expressed toward the expert witness whose testimony strayed from DOE management's policy while that individual was attempting to adhere to accepted professional standards.

... Another example of failure to act on technical information in a
timely manner concerns a report related to the occurrence of a
potential criticality event at WTP. [Report submitted in] April 2010 ... Instead of receiving immediate attention, the report languished without action until February 2011.
Once the report was finally reviewed, the WTP project reached the initial conclusion that it may no longer be possible to assume that criticality in WTP is an incredible occurrence.

"..differing professional opinions counter to decisions reached by management were not welcome.."

I just wanted to re-play that one once more.. this industry, so tied in with Military Culture, with 'Big Power', with big Finance.. I can't see how it could possibly ever have the ability to maintain a healthy self-correcting aspect to itself.

"These folks sound like BP Management. Trust us. Nuclear Energy is safe."

Trust us. Nuclear bomb making is safe. This is the old weapons site, not the power reactor.

Is there anyone who has claimed that the Hanford facility is a model of safety and efficiency?

There are tanks there with random assortments of high risk nuclear waste that were just tossed there in the 1950's and '60's with no concern for radiological or chemical interactions.

It is the scariest nuclear anything site on US soil, including the above ground nuclear bomb test sites, and it'll probably take another 20 years of concentrated effort to make anything decent of it.

If you want to show me lots of instances of actual radiation poisoning in the US, that's the point to dig from. I don't know how many there are, but I know they exist.

And nuclear power is still the safest form of power generation in use today.

Is there anyone who has claimed that the Hanford facility is a model of safety and efficiency?

There is 5+ years of text here on TOD.
One might find such.

And nuclear power is still the safest form of power generation in use today.

Why don't you explain, in detail, what you mean by this statement? Use concrete words please.

"And nuclear power is still the safest form of power generation in use today.

Why don't you explain, in detail, what you mean by this statement? Use concrete words please."

Just over a year ago, 11 men died on the BP oil rig.

Just a bit before that 29 died in a coal mine in West Virginia. Several months later the same number died in a coal mine in New Zealand.

Sometime in there a gas pipeline blew up in the Bay area, deleting an entire neighborhood. How many die on the drill rigs themselves is a very good question. No one seems to think it's a very safe occupation.

What we need now is the death rates from construction and maintenance of windmills, and the same from PV. As much as I'd like to say PV production is perfectly safe, it is not. Nothing running at 500 PSI and 1000 F is perfectly safe. Especially when the stuff that isn't actually pyrophoric is mostly hydrogen. So on the PV side I know better.

So you eventually end up with the grim task of tabulating deaths per GW-hr no matter what the source. And as soon as you drag nuclear into it, you end up trying to sort out the nuclear-related cancers from the other 1/3 of the population that gets cancer. And then you have to control for everything else that causes cancer. There is an amazing cluster of brain cancer around here, but is it from Hanford or is it from the first generation of farm chemicals they sprayed around in the 1960's? Or is it from the natural radioactivity of the basalt that makes up the local country rock?

And forty years from now, how will they separate the local excess cancers from Fukushima from the effects of the granite (and therefore radioactive) countertops so popular in the housing boom combined with the nice tight energy efficient houses, which retain not just the radon but the formaldehyde as well? Not to mention the flame retardants they pour into the carpets. (We are sorry about your child's terminal cancer, but at least she didn't get burned.)

I've sort of digressed, but the point was no form of energy production is perfectly safe. Counting Direct deaths only, nuclear power is doing better than most. Until we agree on how to count indirect deaths (and this includes the effects of dumping silicon tetrachloride, a waste production in silicon production, onto the fields in China) it is very hard to get an accurate total you could use for a more complete comparison.

Yes, nukes have the large 'advantage' that almost all of its deaths are indirect or more accurately delayed and therefore potentially deniable or debatable.

Or as Dylan put it, "Where the executioners knife is always well hidden..."

But don't nuke proponents have to ultimately flat out deny that radiation and radioactive particles can ever have any deleterious effects on humans to claim that releases of the same have lead to no deaths? That or deny that there have been any releases. Either claim seems to me patently absurd (at best) on the fact of it.

The medical exposure via X-rays is many times the nuclear power exposure.

And delayed deaths do reduce the impact. A 29 year old uranium miner that dies of lung cancer at age 60 has lost a decade or two of life. But he is better off than the 29 year old coal miner that dies in the mine.

I look to statistics, not a "door to door surveyor" looking for cancer and finds it. I think cancer is the #2 cause of death in the USA.


"The medical exposure via X-rays is many times the nuclear power exposure."

Sorry, Alan, but that statement is completely meaningless outside of some context. What X-ray to what part of the body how often compared to whose 'nuclear power exposure' how close to the plant how soon after an accident or incident?

And slowly failing lungs are not any joy to live with. And not all deaths are that protracted.

At least you didn't bring up bananas! '-)

r4ndom - It's clear you didn't read the report, because the whole issue had nothing to do with how scary the site was ... The whole report dealt with the flawed safety culture of the site and the fact that both DOE and contractor project management behaviors reinforced a subculture at WTP that threw safety under the bus. Kinda like TEPCO

Had you read it, you would have read how lab results were ignored or falsified; how people were fired for speaking up, how reports of potential criticality were ignored, etc. It's all about safety

And this site is run by the same DOE and contractors responsible for what you call 'the safest form of power generation in use today'.

... The Board found that expressions of technical dissent affecting safety at WTP, especially those affecting schedule or budget, were discouraged, if not opposed or rejected without review. Project management subtly, consistently, and effectively communicated to employees that differing professional opinions counter to decisions reached by management were not welcome and would not be dealt with on their merits.

'Shocking' state of seas threatens mass extinction, say marine experts

...Mass extinction of species will be "inevitable" if current trends continue, researchers said.

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.

The international panel of marine experts said there was a "high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history". They said the challenges facing the oceans created "the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth's history".

World's oceans move into 'extinction phase'

And a whole lot of radioactive waste from Fukushima. Not to mention the Taiwanese method of radioactive waste disposal.

And don't forget ocean acidification from high atmospheric CO2 levels dissolving into the water as carbonic acid.

Actually, it is my understanding that we were already pretty far along on a quite major extinction event in the oceans and seas.

Acidification is a realy bad one, bad enough to motivate a change from fossil fuels to everything else.

But as someone wrote upthread, take out the hydro dams... :-(

It's a big mess, and the solutions ALL have pros and cons.

I interviewed a marine biologist about the removal of the Lowermost Hydro Dams on the Penobscot river, and the advantages this would give to the spawning of Herring, Salmon, several other species that have been hit hard in our coastal waters.

You've got to rob Peter to pay Paul..

The problem is, what dam removal giveth, climate change taketh away, except that climate change depletes fish stocks on MULTIPLE rivers. You compare it to robbing Peter to save Paul, I'd say its more like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Effects of Global Warming on
Trout and Salmon in U.S. Streams

I don't think I can buy the logical extension you're making however. I suppose the assumption is that removing these dams will necessitate creating more coal-fired Elec. or such, exacerbating CC .. which is a bit of a leap.

In this particular case, I didn't also mention that this project, largely approved and moving forward.. is being done with the cooperation of the Hydro company (formerly PPL, now Black Bear Hydro, IIRC) in which they are refitting and up-amping their remaining upstream dams, such that the output will not be reduced from the changes.

Nonetheless, this entails a broad range of issues, and you can call them competing or complementary as you wish, but the reconnection of a more complete range of the several species River-born migratory fish into the Penobscot Bay will have a number of compounding effects, and will let the River and the Bay act much more as it had for millenia as these species developed in them.

The behavior of the Penobscot River today is already a noseless face.. and I seriously doubt that this constitutes merely more damage.

ps, Maine just saw another tide-power experiment a couple weeks back. Don't recall if we saw it here or not.
(I'm not sure that this story points to the right project.. only link I could find at the moment.. http://www.pddnet.com/news-tidal-energy-vessel-visits-maine-061611/ )

Don't forget Big Oil's contribution defended by lobbyist Jack Gerard, Big Oil's big man in Washington:


And let's not forget that farming sector, including the corn ethanol industry, is totally reliant on big oil. Even though the farming industry has/is producing lots of biodiesel and ethanol, they have made no real efforts to use these fuels themselves, even though they produce enough to power the entire farming sector and then some.

The ethanol industry has made very little effort to advance the use of E85 and E100, preferring instead to have a continuing mandate that Big Oil must mix them in their fuel.

The farm and ethanol industry are arguably more dependent on Big Oil than most others, so how do we evaluate their contribution?



No mention of the human population. A few points about changing fisheries management, but essentially no mention of economics or finance.

Strange, isn't it? The cognitive dissonance. Let's "feed the world." Let's have economic "growth," forever.

But...while we are doing this, let's also save the oceans! Let's stop global warming!

Remember folks, Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!

Can insurers' 'view' save us from climate change?

... Consider Florida, where the laws, business practices and general culture are geared to developing every square inch of land near water — oceans, certainly, but also lakes, streams, wetlands. Even in the absence of climate change, this is an obviously dangerous policy. Rather than resisting, many property and casualty insurers have pulled away from vulnerable coastal property in Florida. In response, Florida created its own public insurance pool. Result? Development continues, and the state fund is actuarially unsound. A few more storms would bankrupt the state, which would then call on the federal government — as the stand-in for taxpayers in all other states — to bail them out.

And up-thread, the Martian was bragging about how well he was living in S. Florida.

Not so independent of BAU as he was letting on.

Yeah, ROFLMAO. All that magical mystical vaguely eastern-sounding word salad, and for what?

"Insurance view" indeed. The supposedly benevolent state behaves just like the allegedly evil and wicked insurers. Sell policies for a song, in places that would never have been built up under honest billing, and rake in the premiums. Do it cahoots with local governments which should never have issued the building permits, but thirst without limit for property tax for bureaucratic empire-building and political pet projects. And whee, it's all free, 'cos when the big storm inevitably comes, warming or no warming, and it all goes to pot, Uncle Sucker steps in and bails everybody out. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum. Reminds me of New Orleans.

At one point, the Federal Flood insurance program allowed people downstream to buy policies, when they heard the river was cresting upstream. The insurance community said the program was ridiculous--it encouraged folks to build too close to rivers that flooded. I know the program was upgraded to some extent, but I haven't followed how much.

Whenever there is a government program, the tendency is to make it beneficial for the recipients--not to figure out what makes sense. I am wondering what is lurking in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now.

There is a glimmer of hope Glenn Beck isn't totally crazy after all!

Today on his show, he was recommending people to learn to work more tangebly. He recommended people to grow their own food and know how to can food to preserve. He even asked people to know how to fix things instead of throwing them out.

Normaly I don't agree with what he says (sometimes think he is going senile) but he is agreeing on what I think most people here on TOD, myself included, would say need to happen for the future.

I'll post a link as soon as I can find it.

And our sponsor for this half hour... Food Insurance freeze dried food.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I have actually never seen Glenn Beck on TV - I simply don't watch most popular TV.

But I picked up a copy of his latest book in a bookstore and flipped through it and he had a chapter on peak oil and what he basically said in it was that a lot smart people he knows really are convinced that peak oil is happening now so he (Beck) is inclined to believe it also. But then he went on to say that he has not pursued it further because he is interested in pursuing other things.

Glenn Beck is afraid of just about anything you can think of.
He is afraid of....
Google, George Soros, the Caliphate, Obama's Socialist Wonderland, ACORN, 1916 Mercury head dimes, a vast feminist conspiracy, the TV show Glee, AARP, Al Gore, etc.



That is why I think Beck's mind is "out there", or to quote him "that's crazy talk" (cue Twilight theme song).

If he is Mormon (and I thought he was), then that is Church doctrine. I know enough of them, and they do not believe in empty cupboards.

There is a glimmer of hope Glenn Beck isn't totally crazy after all!

Whew, that's a relief - because, like, I was really worried about that.

Well, OK - not really.

Well to quote Rethin, "a broken clock is right twice a day". So even the most unlikely people (Glenn Beck) would eventually say a statement you would agree with.

I think that s.o.b. is crazy all the way to the bank.

Actually, IMO he's much smarter than he makes out to be. He had admitted AGW was real in private, but that wouldn't help sell books to the wingnutters. He's figured out how to make millions giving a certain segment of society (which is easy to figure out) just what it wants. An actor who is more interested in making the big bucks, then in the overall effect of his shenanigans on society. Our culture encourages this sort of edvil-may-care selfishness.

Exactly put!

Our culture encourages this sort of edvil-may-care selfishness.

Not sure if edvil is a typo or a neologism -- I for one, like it and will use it. ^_^

But think -- what could Teh Edvil possibly offer Beck to overcome his religious inclination to do the right thing? Methinks if they met face-to-face Beck shout him down, but when the smiling-no-face specter of improbable wealth came knocking, Beck bowed and took the offer of 30(million) pieces of silver to betray civilization.

Edit: I'm pretty sure that I can fend off The Edvil myself, I've yet to cross paths with improbable wealth.

There is a glimmer of hope Glenn Beck isn't totally crazy after all!

Today on his show

We never watch the Fox (faux) News channel, so never watch Beck, but weren't they making a big deal recently that he was leaving Fox? Was that just a temporary blip and now he's staying on, or is it a case of he's leaving in his good ol time?

As we channel surf with the channels flipping past, when Fox hits the screen for a brief moment I always say "What was that?" before the next channel materializes. That's as much as Fox gets viewed here.

Well truthfully, the only show I watch on that channel is 'The Glenn Beck Show', but only to enjoy watching the babbling of a (for lack of a better word) nutty guy.

I am not really sure why he won't join Comedy Central when he leaves FOX.

Hi folks,

I'm one of those non-expert readers that frequents this site. Can anyone advise me if there a place on the internet where we have TOD-level of analysis on alternate energy sources to crude oil?
I see in this thread there are various comments that explore aspects of, say, the scope for more solar power stations. But there is not often detailed global analysis of alternate energy.
Here's my situation:
I understand the threat of peak oil but plenty of people in my life assume that mechanisms like electric cars and so forth will more or less replace oil when need be - with a few minor hiccups on the way perhaps, but no great crash of civilisation. The underlying assumption on TOD seems to be that declining oil production will present huge economic challenges in the near term.
Is there data that can help people like me understand which assumption is more likely to play out? I'm thinking analysis that shows possible take up rates of electric vehicles, cost of necessary investment in new technology, EROEI of alternate energy sources and so on. I suspect the data may be more tenuous and difficult to mine than oil field production rates, but more unified discussion of these alternatives would help define the problem.
Many thanks,

I do not know of any site that critically looks at the alternatives. It is mostly about if solawind etc just keep growing at X% then it will be BAU. Only recently have I started to look at the material cost of producing the required renewables and the numbers are frightening.

For example, earlier in this drumbeat I looked at the amount of Aluminium needed to produce the panels and framing to replace just the growth in total energy useage with solar. Looking at a different component, glass for instance, the ~7000 km2 of panels would require ~38,000,000 tonnes of 2.5mm glass. Considering the world produced ~52,000,000 tonnes of flat glass in 2009, the panels would take an enormous growth in glass production just to meet the demand by the PV production.

Of course a lot of energy would be needed for this extra glass production, which raises the growth rate of energy consumption, which means more than 7000 sqkm would be needed of PV panels added each year....

It is a catch 22, there is no possibility of renewables taking over FF use and providing anything like BAU.

I do not know of any site that critically looks at the alternatives. It is mostly about if solawind etc just keep growing at X% then it will be BAU. Only recently have I started to look at the material cost of producing the required renewables and the numbers are frightening.

Really?! Are the numbers more frightening than the material cost of producing everything that is required for maintaining BAU itself? Oh, you didn't calculate that, did you?

Of course a lot of energy would be needed for this extra glass production, which raises the growth rate of energy consumption, which means more than 7000 sqkm would be needed of PV panels added each year....

Just curious, did you calculate how much energy would be needed to produce, say, glass office windows and windshields for all the cars that are going to be sold in China and India? Not to mention how much energy is going to be needed for the production for all the coffins for the people that are going to die for lack of BAU... Oh, wait, maybe we can just burn the bodies for fuel without the coffins! That ought to save some energy!

It is a catch 22, there is no possibility of renewables taking over FF use and providing anything like BAU.

Ah, now you're thinking critically!

And yes, BAU is kaput!

Bring out your dead, Bring out your dead...


BAU means continued growth with finite FF, something that is clearly not possible. There is no point in calculating anything that is not possible.

I have no doubt that BAU is Kaput. My whole point was about showing that renewables are not going to happen as some think.

BAU means continued growth with finite FF, something that is clearly not possible.

No, it doesn't! It means continued growth at all costs, period! And that, is what is impossible!

My whole point was about showing that renewables are not going to happen as some think.

You are preaching to the choir, most of us here already know that.

Which leads to the logical conclusion, Growth MUST stop! Assuming some form of industrial civilization manages to survive, it will be have to be a steady state, ecologically friendly economy, based exclusively on renewables. So in that sense you are right about the Thinking, or lack of it, being the problem.

We don't really have to worry about the growth part though, nature will be sure to solve that for us and is already doing so.

The thinking, yes, that is what will have to change...

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

Fred, continued growth with finite FF and continued growth at all costs, are not mutually exclusive terms. BAU can and does mean both.

So in that sense you are right about the Thinking, or lack of it, being the problem.

Well you will find, on this list, a constant litany things that are the problem. Thinking is one that I haven't heard in awhile but I will not argue that point. I will just say that changing people's thinking habits is something I doubt anyone will have much success with. However I am sure you are well aware of that fact.

Anyway I will... again... put in my two cents worth on this subject. I say again because I have done it many times before, with different words, but few people seem to agree with me.

The problem is in our very nature, in our genes, the genes that got us here... king of the hill so to speak. Every species is in competition with every other species for territory and resources. In times past we, great apes, were in competition with every wild thing on the plains and in the forest. But about five million years ago, perhaps less, we developed an adaptation that gave us a very strong advantage over every other animal on the planet, a high intelligence.

But of course our success has, or will have, its downside. We have developed into a plague animal. That is, because our numbers have been unchecked by natural forces, our numbers are now far greater than the planet can support, long term anyway.

And that, dear hearts, our evolutionary success, is the biggest problem.

Ron P.

My question is always:
If we're so intelligent and our intellect developed to help us survive, how can we do so many dumb things that will, ultimately, harm our species future?
When I meet people who are obviously intelligent in an academic sense and then I find they are deeply religious; that too, always rings like a bell made of horse manure to me.
It seems common sense is what we need most and that sense, unfortunately, is the least used these days.

If we're so intelligent and our intellect developed to help us survive, how can we do so many dumb things that will, ultimately, harm our species future?

That is what is called a non sequitur. It does not follow that simply because we are wise enough to to do something, or build something, that we are then automatically wise enough to prevent that something from doing us harm.

Martin, Homo sapiens is Latin for "wise man". I have always said "yes, wise but not quite wise enough."

Really, our intelligence was an adaptation developed to help us survive during our hunter gatherer days, to aid us in surviving today, tomorrow and even next year. But it never went further than that in those days. It still has not progressed much further. And yes, just as in those days, we still worship the gods of our ancestors.

Ron P.

Human intelligence is pretty much at a limit due to an inability to increase Wisdom Return on Educational Input (WREI). It now takes close to 30 year of age to complete education, which is about the same as the intergenerational interval.

Fortunately, robots will be able to boot up much faster.

As the dominant predator on this planet, like every predator, the reduction in sufficient, available prey will result in our reduction or demise, just like every other predator who decimates his prey. When this occurs amongst other species, most of us do not weep. No problem. It's not us. We think. It is not just a problem, it is just a feature of the way the world works. As you say, it's just evolution. So we need to get over it and accept our fate just like every other predator species. The world doesn't need us because, as you say, we are a plague species. A plague, however, may be a way of weeding out the weak. Maybe it is a positive event, something that leaves the strong and eliminates the weak. But we eliminate everything, the strong and the weak. The wolf takes down the weak Elk but we are too stupid to do that; we take down whatever Elk we can get near with our guns and our habitat destruction. We are worse than a plague. After a plague, there is still hope for the survivors. It is quite possible we will leave no survivors, including ourselves. Maybe some insects, some bacteria, some cock roaches, some single celled organisms.

But all of us are not simply acting as a mindless, predator species. There is conservation. Even the Elk hunters understand that there won't be any Elk left if they kill all the Elk or if they destroy all the habitat. So, habitat is preserved in national parks, forests, conservation easements, and the like. So we can maintain the Elk herds so we can continue to kill the Elk. So maybe that gives us hope. But probably not. Because eventually the land that harbors the Elk will be too valuable and will become necessary to feed the ever expanding plague. And then, even those areas some consider sacred, will be destroyed. Look at the rain forest. Nothing can stop the spreading, relentless plague.

Humans are an invasive species, not just a predator.

Invasive species tend to multiply without restriction and crowd out native species by consuming the available resources. Kudzu and cogongrass would be examples.

Humans are naturally tropical animals and would not survive where nightime temperatures fall below about 40 degrees F for a significant part of the year. They are also fairly defenseless and would be preyed upon by leopards, tigers, and other large predators.

The use of tools, fire, clothing, etc. has allowed population to grow without being checked by predators, as well as an expansion of range into other ecosystems.

This line of reasoning assumes that we don't have limits, and this is not true. The present population explosion is simply a reflection of our exploitation of fossil fuels, and as they go away so will our abundant population. There are other limits too of course. How much will we destroy before those limits stop us? No one knows, but while I suspect it will be bad I don't think it will be total. We have massively changed the world already, which is clearly visible all around us, and those that live several hundred years from now will inhabit a world much more changed from this.

Invasive species have limits. It is just that they are less limited in the new environment or situation than they were in their native environment. In its native environment, a small predator might have been limited by predator-prey cycles that had fairly small amplitude. When that predator is introduced into a new environment and ecological situation, e.g. a snake into a South Pacific island, the predator may wipe out native bird species altogether as the predator population increases. Ultimately the alien species population will crash due to disease or starvation. Same thing with an invasive plant species. It may strangle the trees and smother the ground cover species, but it will be limited by light, water, growing season, etc. and it is likely to eventually grow less lushly due to soil exhaustion by a monoculture.

Humans are an invasive species, not just a predator.

Our genetic makeup is of a prey specie. Due to an enlarging brain we figured out a way to be predators, but our bodies, teeth etc. do not reflect a predator specie. That's why we get heart disease because our digestive system is oriented to a high fiber diet.

I recently went on a vegan diet (no meat or dairy) and lost my extra weight (30 pounds) in 2.5 months. When I say diet you might think that means scaling back on volume, but not in this case - I eat however much is needed to satisfy my appetite.

My blood pressure dropped from 135-155 over 95-110 to 98-124 over 68-83, and that's without blood pressure medication at 55 years of age. Also went from needing Viagra with wife to not needing it at all, so there's no congested nose as an allergic reaction. Also swollen prostate went right down - that took the full 2.5 months to occur. Eating meat has been embraced as being synonimous with being masculine, the hunter, the predator. However it contains no fiber, is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. I'm convinced saturated fat is the killer - my advice is to stay away from it because our genetics are not designed for its regular consumption because genetically we are not predators.

Heart disease is virtually unknown among hunter-gatherer groups, despite tending to eat a lot of meat. Besides meat, what else did you cut out?

Chimpanzees appear to be fairly opportunistic and eat meat. So genus Homo's early diet probably included small animals, birds, nestlings, eggs, fish, crustacean, bugs of various sorts, etc.

However, once humans developed bipedalism and a hairless body with lots of sweat glands, they became excellent long distance runners. So humans can actually run down and kill a variety of animals that can't get rid of body heat fast enough.

Genetics can change fairly fast. For example, the great majority of Northern Euorpeans carry a genetic variation that allows them to drink milk and digest lactose in adulthood. This mutation, as well as others that confer the same benefit on other populations, only happened a few thousand years ago. Apparently the advantage of being able to milk cows, sheep, goats, etc., is a very significant advantage.

So given that early humans engaged in hunting and more recent humans engaged in herding with high meat diets, I'd be really surprised if modern humans weren't reasonably well adapted to eating meat.

A gorilla is adapted to a high fiber diet and has significantly different dentition and gut.

Perk, I think you are confusing predator vs prey as obligate carnivores vs vegetarian. Our guts and teeth are suitable for an omnivorous diet. Glad that your vegan diet has had a salubrious effect on your health but dont expect to have that be proof over the long run that you are getting all the nutrients you need.

Our genetic makeup is of a prey specie. Due to an enlarging brain we figured out a way to be predators, but our bodies, teeth etc. do not reflect a predator specie. That's why we get heart disease because our digestive system is oriented to a high fiber diet......

There are many (including myself) who have found exactly the opposite in terms of diet; that is, high protein, low carb diet leads to loss of excess weight, more energy, better blood lipid balance, lower blood pressure, etc. etc. There is also clinical evidence which argues for high protein/low carb being a healthier way to go. In fact, almost everything you say, I'm doing the opposite of and have never been in better health.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

I've noticed that it seems to be a combination of carbs and protein that leads to excess fat, loss of energy etc. Drastically reduce either one and people seem to respond positively. It could be interesting to try a diet that alternates between the two for a week or so at a time.

As for humans being predators or prey. Most predators have forward facing eyes for stereo vision to accurately locate prey, whereas prey animals tend to have eyes mounted on the side of the head to try and afford 360 degree vision to spot approaching predators. My vote goes to us being predators.

I think (therefore I am) that our Intelligence and our ability to live in countless places with varying diets is also strongly coincident with many other Intelligent Omnivores on the planet. Rats and Crows/Ravens are omnivorous, creative-intelligent, and have been able to adapt to broad living ranges.

I think 'Omnivore's Dilemma' (Pollan) spoke about brain development in omnivores, which had a lot more thinking and remembering to do in determining which foods are going to be safe to eat.

EDIT-- It's probably also useful to remember that we humans have been eager to embrace this Euclidean Clarity in our definitions, while nature is often far less discerning.

Mice Eat insects for protein, Chickens eat anything, as will many pigs and goats (disturbing but funny memory watching pigs eating leftover hotdogs at my old summer camp..) .. Bears and Raccoons. Yes, there are some extreme specializations in Nature, but I think the tendencies of the Modern Western Mindset is also a particularly good example OF such a schism of 'Particularness', and that the truth may often be far less extreme than our ideologies and labels would prefer..

I suspect that one issue would find broad agreement and that issue is that sugar is likely the worst thing to have in any diet. This would be followed closely by refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, etc. The huge increase in sugar in the American diet closely correlates with steep rises in obesity and all its co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease, gout, cancer, etc. all the 'diseases of civilization'. OTOH meat and fat have been staples of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years. My own opinion is that they are actually Nature's premium foods. Usual caveats about the quality of any foods apply.

Quality indeed! Quantity, too.

Many traditional diets did include some meat and fats, but not generally at the high levels or low quality as is found in the average American diet. Most traditional diets would look to most Americans like that of a vegetarian or even vegan who 'cheated' every once in a while.

Deer and much other game meat is very healthy compared to grain fed beef.

But you are right that refined sugar and flour have taken a large toll, including on oral health.

Much of the problem is the difficulty in integrating a central power grid which relies on the stored energy of cheap FF.

We take it for granted that instantaneous power is available on demand. This is an unnatural, unwarranted expectation. Before the 20th century things we different.

I can imagine that PV would be a lot more popular if there were a lot more brownouts.

It is reason that everyday the streets fill with cars during the rush hours and are nearly empty the rest of the day.

To change our behavior we need to change our thinking.

While I think we will be forced to transition to a mode where we will have to live with intermittent electricity, I don't think that our current reliance on 24/7 electricity is unnatural. People naturally like convenience and people naturally prefer sloth and indulgence. Maybe that is unfortunate and dysfunction, but it is perfectly natural.

Unfortunately, we can see what happens when people have a lot of intermittency. The better off, like in Pakistan or China, just spend a lot of money on inefficient and polluting sources like diesel generators.

Hide_away thanks for the practical example. It may not be a bad as you conclude though. If it is spread over ten year then it is only 8% of current glass usage an increase that the glass making companies would be happy to make.

But even if it required 100% increase we have to compare that to the industrial effort to extract say Canadian tar sand oil. My guess is that the tar sands is using much more money/resources. Lawrence Livermore National Labs tried about four years ago to get funding to do this study. They did not get the money so they did not do the study.

My personal guess is that it will take 20 trillion dollars to put the US on renewable power sources. Done over 30 years that would be about 4% of GDP per year. Doable if we were starting from a balanced budget. With the "new economics" of massive deficit spending I no longer understand money. I guess we can just add the build out costs to the deficit what is another 700 billion on top of 2000 billion anyway.

There is an issue about whether the rate at which lithium can be mined, refined and brought to market can increase fast enough to make EV and PHEV batteries to replace ~1 billion gasoline and diesel powered cars worldwide in 20 years. To perform a complete conversion electric vehicles might need different types of batteries.

The Trouble with Lithium 2: Under the Microscope, Meridian International Research, 2008 May 29 (PDF warning)

All renewable energy sources combined are probably not capable of taking over from all fossil fuels with our current population. The issues include resource constraints, affordability, pollution and whether we choose to convert in time.

Hide_away's calculation for the resources consumed to produce and install PV panels is ridiculously incorrect. His assumption that PV panels provide all the electricity is unnecessary and unwise. Renewable energy source include wind, photovoltaic, solar thermal, solar hot water, passive solar buildings, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass.

Hide_away's calculation for the resources consumed to produce and install PV panels is ridiculously incorrect

I hear this from many, but the numbers are few. Please show with numbers how your statement is correct.

My numbers on electricity via PV are only to show the size of the problem, not a panacea of what needs to be done. They are also only the growth of total energy use, not replacing current FF or nuclear. Can you imagine the problem in trying to replace FF and nuclear as well as current growth rates of energy use?

We need to calculate what can be done and in what time frame. If we conclude that only half the current energy usage can be produced by renewables by 2080 then we need to decide how we will organize society with only half the current energy. We will also have to decide if adding 200 million US citizens by immigration will be helpful in meeting the energy reduction of 50%.

It sounds like you're looking for a site that will help make better predictions of 'what will play out'.. and I might suggest that these will be either dissatisfying, inaccurate, or both. I think Fossil Fuels put us way up on a fence, and you're noticing that it might not be there in enough quantity to get us back down..

.. so 'which way will we fall?' isn't as important as getting some padding, or a parachute, or some friends and family on board with you to share the challenges of 'Food, Shelter, Clothing, Water, Society, Safety', etc.

EROEI data for renewables is all over the place, and pretty hotly challenged..

I'm of the bent to just start getting used to using them, trying out alternate ways of doing things, and making 'How does Oil and the Price of Oil touch this part of my life?' into my crossword puzzle, trying to untangle where I'm dependent upon these umbilicals of energy and food that are channeled into my life, and how each of them can be substituted or eliminated.

TOD has given a lot of people a chance to share the idea of PO.. but as you know, it's a hard message for many to accept.. are you eager to work on crafting 'the message', finding ways to convince people, lay out the info in new ways so that they might be amenable finally to the idea.. or are you the type (like me, I suppose) who is more happy trying to develop some contingency approaches to the problem itself, so you have them available to offer up and share when the need is more broadly recognized?


"EROEI data for renewables is all over the place, and pretty hotly challenged.."

Not least because it keeps changing. Just look at silicon-based PV cells. The silicon produced from the fluid-bed reactors just coming on-line now use 20% of the energy needed by the old Siemens reactors. If 1336 can get continuous casting to work, then that will save almost half the silicon currently produced, the half that ends up in in the wafer saw kerfs. And all this while cell efficiency is trudging its way upwards.

Wind power is undergoing the same sort of improvements, though I think they are approaching the point where bigger is no longer better. But that still leaves lots of room for improved generators and airfoils so they are not done yet either.

For that matter, steam plants are still improving. Ultra-supercritical plants at 5000 psi and 1100 F? Research for materials that can take it continues on.

... they are approaching the point where bigger is no longer better.

Vestas announces 7 MW wind turbine


Not yet :-)


Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Engel said Vestas had no orders for the new turbine in hand, though customers have been involved in the design process. He declined to say how big he expected sales of the new unit to be.

With the current credit crisis serving as the backdrop and the capital contraction continuing, it is difficult to see this scale up the way Engel (CEO) envision.

If 1336 can get continuous casting to work,

I thought that there was effective ribbon pulling going on. Would CC be better or are there issues with ribbon?


I was just going to post the same question! I to am looking for a website that goes into the details of alternative power. I would like to see details about the costs of each alternative including the night time storage costs for sources that are active only when the sun shines.

We ought to be able to say when oil reaches $X per barrel then alternative Y is cheaper. But so far I have not seen any data like that.

We could also talk about where the money comes from and who ends up owning the new power generators.

http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/report has a lot of cost data on alternative energy generation.

But being able to say "when oil reaches $X per barrel then alternative Y is cheaper" is not possible, since a variety of site dependent, investment, operational, etc., conditions need to be analysed per project to determine whether each new project is worthwhile. Consult a standard Engineering Economics textbook for details.

We ought to be able to say when oil reaches $X per barrel then alternative Y is cheaper. But so far I have not seen any data like that.

Why should we say that? Given that you are talking about electricity, the price of oil is virtually irrelevant - it accounts for less than 2% of US electricity production. Running a diesel for power, at today's fuel prices ($3/gal) will cost you about 30c/kWh, not including the equipment cost.

The fact is, that compared to using oil for electricity, the alternatives are cheaper. That is why solar has long been used for "remote power" applications as it is cheaper than diesel generators, and also why the use of oil for electricity has been steadily decreasing.

For transport, oil is the benchmark, but for electricity, it is coal, and the renewables are not cheaper than that.

Yes I agree it should read something like
When oil is $X per barrel then alternative Y is cheaper for transportation and
when coal is $Z per ton then alternative A is cheaper for electrical generation.

Go to ebay and look at the prices.
Depending on where you live you can generally get 1Mwh per year of 12 vdc power out of a 1Kw peak panel. The panel cost $3-4 per kw peak.
How much storage do you need?
Some devices run all the time like your refrigerator and lights. You can buy 12 vdc appliances which are usually sold for boats. They have solar powered 12 vdc air conditions, etc.

The Danish government believes that with efficient appliances
a person can live on 1200 kwh per year or perhaps 4kwh per day.
Assume you can fully recharge your batteries every 4 days so you need 16 kwh of battery storage.
The price of 30 55 Ah 12v batteries lead acid gel batteries costs
about $4000 or ~$5 per kwh.
So altogether that's about $10 per kwh x 1200 kwh =$12000 per person not counting all the efficient dc devices to live offgrid
the system lasting 30 years.

The BAU grid system is $.1 per kwh x 5 Mwh per person residential per year is $500 per year. $12000 is about the same as $500 spread over 50 years assuming a 3% interest rate. If we assume energy prices rise at 5% annual average, faster than 3% cost of money then the 50 years drops to 25 years barely under the initial system cost.

If we double the price of electricity now to $1000 per year the
$12000 cost would be written off in 15 years, half as long as the service life of the equipment.

Cheap energy is like junk food, it encourages dependency and lower quality of life.


We have

coal 95 $/MWhr
nat gas 66 $/MWhr
adv nuke 114 $/MWhr
wind 97 $/MWhr
off shore wind 247 $/MWhr
PV 210 $/MWhr
solar thermal 312 $/MWhr
geothermal 102 $/MWhr
biomass 112 $/MWhr
hydro 86 $/MWhr

These are called levelized not sure what that means. I do not think there is any storage cost included for the source that only work when the sun shines. I personally think the solar thermal is too high. I do not have dollars per MWhr stored but as a first pass we could just double the cost of all the non-continuous sources to account for storage. So once the coal and natural gas are all committed we will build hydro (as available), geothermal, biomass, and advanced nuclear. If storage drives wind up to 194 $/MWhr then it will not be appealing, likewise for the higher priced alternatives.

Geothermal is only a 40% increase in cost over natural gas and comparable to coal. I wonder if this is only geothermal in special geological places and hence limited scale or is this any place in the US/world?

The "levelised" cost is simply allocating the capital cost to each MWhr produced, based on the life of the equipment, and a common interest rate.
You can see from that table that for something that is fuel free, and virtually maintenance free, like solar PV, the levelised capital cost is pretty much the entire cost, and at the other end of the scale, for gas turbines, it is the fuel cost.

Getting an accurate levelised capital cost is not too hard, as you just use the cost to build a system today. Predicting future fuel costs is a whole different ball game.

The costs for coal are interesting, because it costs more to build a plant today than it used to, becaus of pollution controls etc. So new coal is not nearly as cheap as existing coal.

When you say "solar thermal is too high" are you saying their numbers are too high (incorrect) or that it is too high to be implemented?

The reason why solar thermal is so expensive is the capciaty factor of 18%. You have a very expensive steam turbine system, that only gets used 18% of the time. You can have that exact same system at a coal plant, and it will get used 85% of the time, so the same cost is spread out over 4x the production.

The geothermal will be in the US, and is only in special places. Trying to get to do a new geothermal (or hydro) systems involves a lot of capital cost for environmental approvals, using lawyers to fight environmentalists lawyers, etc, and the inevitable delays they will (rightly or wrongly) cause.

Keep in mind also that this is the cost of producing power, you then have the price that you can sell it for. With dispatchable power, you can sell medium/long term contracts, as you know you can produce to meet them. With solar, generally, you are producing during peak periods. With wind, you are all over the map, often producing the most power in the middle of the night when it is worth the least.

Cost to produce is only one side of the equation - on the sell side, being able to control when and how much you sell makes a difference. presently, the cost of storage to control this from uncontrollable sources (wind) is simply not worth it. What is really needed is to find opportunistic and useful ways to use the surplus energy when it is available.

Paul, thanks for the info. By too high for solar thermal I mean folks like BrightSource are doing better is my impression. I like synthetic fuels production for excess power use. I have never found a cost to produce a gallon of gasoline equivalent.

Hi Ed,

There are a bunch of very low energy cost alternatives that I think we will explore first:

Doubling up the number of people per sq foot of house. Something like a 40% energy reduction (more people still use a bit more energy so it is not a total savings).
Shut down half the resturants. Shut down half the book stores. Shutdown hair salons, bars, legal offices, etc. End the construction industry. All of these will yield substantial "free" MWhr's.

These are the very low cost energy saving options I expect the free market to exploit. They are even cheaper than efficiency improvements.

But about that list: One issue with using $/MWhr is that it hides the effect of low EROeI energy sources. So biomass may be harvested and hauled with inexpensive oil. When the price of oil rises, the price of biomass shoots up too. Low EROeI sources will never break even. They just get more and more expensive. Ethanol companies were going out of business in 2008 with record high oil prices.

And as a last point, the finance cost is often very large and has a huge impact on how renewables are priced. If zero interest loans come along, wind would drop in cost compared to coal and natural gas.

There are already a lot of good replies in this thread.

I feel the problem breaks down into two parts:

1. Is it physically possible to transition? Does the renewable technology exist? Is it commercial? What mix of renewable technology would be needed?

I think the best source for this part of the question is "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air", and you can find it on line here: http://www.withouthotair.com/

He does a good job of making the issues understandable. He does deal with issues like intermittency.

2. The second big issue is can the technology scale fast enough? This is a rate of change problem. As was pointed out upthread, you cannot take the whole worlds production of aluminum in a year without collapsing the economy. This breaks into two pieces as well:
A. What is the "political" rate that is possible? Meaning the rate of change that is politically acceptable. This may be zero in your political zone. and
B. What is the theoretical maximum rate of change?

A. is beyond this engineer to know. But B is interesting and I have only found a few references for it. It is an EROeI question basically. If you want to grow the energy supply (spend energy building energy creating machines) you must spend energy. The amount of surplus energy is the amount you have available to change the economy. Unlike money, you can't borrow energy. You must take it from someone else to use it.

All redirections of energy will contract the other economic sectors. How much can we take before the economy quits growing and goes into recession? This gives us an idea how much energy we can redirect into growing renewables.

Let's say the world economy goes into recession when energy payments are around 8% of world GDP, and lets pretend prices are now normally 5% of world GDP during periods of (weak) growth. Then we could redirect about 3% of world GDP into growing a new energy supply. Initially, this would mean very fast rates of growth in renewables, but as the cost of energy becomes more expensive the base cost will rise closer to that 8% and growth will slow. Also, as our fossil energy sources deplete, our base cost will rise closer to that 8% and growth will slow.

At that point, growth in renewbles will need to come at the expense of shutting down some other economic sector. We might be able to estimate how much of the economy would need to be shut down to fund a 20 or 30 year shift to renewables, but at that point we are back into the politics and I don't see how we can model that.

Anyway, for those interested, here is the paper by Mathur that outlines rates of change based on EROeI. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421502002902 I can't find a free PDF copy, but someone else may have better google fu.

I would agree there is a large political component. I think the German's are investing based on their view of the future rather than a simple current cost basis. What looks to outsiders as a ridiculously over priced investment now will in 20 years, when everyone else is sitting in the dark, look like a real bargain.

You make a fundamental point energy can not be borrowed. Even if the US federal government is willing to print 20 trillion dollars to pay for a complete new energy infrastructure that means nothing to mother nature. We still have to have energy to build a new energy system. On the other hand upstream the cost of capital for wind was mentioned. This would be the ideal case for the federal government to print money for a long term social benefit that would in fact pay back the money over time rather than simply consuming it today. The federal government should loan to any who want to build wind system in the US at the same rate they loaned to Goldman Sacks 0.01%

The federal government should loan to any who want to build wind system in the US at the same rate they loaned to Goldman Sacks 0.01%

That's not a bad idea at all. I have never understood why it is only a select few banks that get to borrow at that rate, and not other companies that do far more useful things.

Another accounting trick that could be done for renewables, would be to allow a 100% write down of the capital cost in the first year, instead of the normal depreciation over time (I don't know what it is for wind turbines, probably 10 yrs)

If a wind farm operator adds a new turbine, he gets a big tax deduction straight away, when he most needs it, and then pay more tax each year thereafter, when the turbine is producing something and he can afford it.

I think this would make a big difference for investment decisions concerning renewables.

I have never understood why it is only a select few banks that get to borrow at that rate,

Perhaps its because they have a 'special place' - they are the shareholders of the Federal Reserve.

"B. What is the theoretical maximum rate of change?"

For PV modules, it takes three years to build a 10,000 tonne silicon production plant and the matching wafer/cell/module plant assuming all the supporting infrastructure is in place. Limiting factors are the supply of certain exotic compressors, pumps, and pressure vessels. (If you want to do mono-crystal PV there may be a limit on puller availability as well.) Based on those sources I would expect they could supply maybe two plants at a time. If you want to go faster than that then you need to build more compressor and pump factories.

If you are willing to live with Chinese environmental regulations and workplace safety rules then you can speed that up a bit. If you demand the company follow the letter of the law and have all the permits in hand before starting construction, then add on permit approval time, currently 2 to 3 years. (Usually you can get a waiver to start construction before the permits are done, but the company takes all the risk, and there is no guarantee the permit will be granted in the end.)

Like off-shore drilling, there are some hard limits on ramp-up rates.

The lag time from conception to plant production doesn't give you the sustainable growth rate. If you have one unit of production now, and it takes five years to get the new plants up and running, if you start 31times the present capacity, you can sustain (on average) a doubling per year. If you only plan on doubling capacity, and have the same 5year cycle, then you can only sustain a 15% growth rate. So a lot depends upon how aggressive you are with your scaling plans.

I feel the problem breaks down into two parts:
1. Is it physically possible to transition?

Part of solving a problem is understanding of what the problem is.

Many times there are built in assumptions in a question or solving a problem that are not addressed, understood as a problem, ignored, or as you want outcome X the solution becomes a path to outcome X.

Look at the 1st rounds of "lets build space based power" here on TOD - one of the pushers of that mime wanted to see humans in space via admission in the discussion and so space based power was the way to get that desired filled.

Others see the economic system of interest based money as a problem yet others think that system is not at all an issue.

And there are some issues that there is denial over. Be it how safe fission power is to global warming.

But to answer question #1:
1) Yes, humanity will transition. It may transition to all of humanity dead, to a lower power consumption, or to some grand empire in space to fuel the raw material needs - but there will be a departure from "here" to "there".
2) I'm thinking your question hasn't defined what is to be kept and what is to be left behind in the 'can we' part of the question.

Very true. The person asking the question seemed to imply "something like our current lifestyle". (which is why I like Sustainable Energy, you plug in your own usage data and start building an energy system to provide that energy).

When I think about that question I think "something like a US 1900 - 1920's lifestyle" Mostly walking, some trolley rides & delivery trucks, very few cars, small houses or apartments with at least one warm room even in cold climates, locally grown in season food mostly preserved dry instead of frozen, with a small icebox for highly perishable food, a few indoor electric lights. Rail for long distance transport on land. A handful of possessions. Radio & telephone equivalent bandwidth per person. Likely a small computing device. An Apple II was enough to run a business and most cell phones have more capacity than that. Should be doable.

I think that kind of life is possible for many. I am not sure about 6 billion. I think that lifestyle can be constructed on solar energy flows, and with common (iron) and renewable building materials. But I am not sure about water & climate. I think there is a lot of room to intensify agriculture in the US (just look at the Chinese rice terraces on hill for an example of a region maximized for production). There would need to be serious work to keep the human waste stream clean and recycle it back to the fields. But even then, will there be enough water?

I think we may be way into overshoot on the water draw down. Clearly in overshoot on the fisheries. Clearly in overshoot on the climate. Clearly in overshoot on the soil draw down. Clearly in overshoot on the forests.

Given that, then for #2 can we reach a rate of change fast enough for a soft landing? No way. Not even enough coherence on how to avoid collapse to even start the process (coal vs nuke is the argument, when both choices lead to collapse.) Not even enough awareness we are facing a collapse. So my question is can critical knowledge / infrastructure remain functional through the collapse to allow us to reach that 1920's (with sustainable additions) lifestyle? I don't know. But that is my question. Not the question that was asked.

"I think there is a lot of room to intensify agriculture in the US (just look at the Chinese rice terraces on hill for an example of a region maximized for production)."

Given that we have already been able to utilise much of the marginal land due to fossil fuels and the Green Revolution I don't think there is a lot of scope there. I use some terraces for growing higher value produce, they're more difficult, time consuming and expensive to use and maintain. But I think the biggest problem will be climate change, fertilisers and water.

Basically due to climate change, soil depletion, less water availability and costly fertilisers the main agricultural response will be to increase planting distances (eventually after exhausting all other means). This means wholesale yield reductions per acre of land, some marginal lands may be uneconomical and be left fallow. So even if expensive, labour intensive terraces, etc. are introduced its unlikely that overall production will increase, but as with oil, the cost of production will continue to rise for food.

With over 50% of the world's population now living in cities, the remaining 50% being mainly poor and landless, there's little individual capacity for producing food in any quantity. Food production may therefore become the ultimate monopoly with immense barriers to entry. All assets would decline in value relative to food if this where to happen and the cost of food would consume most of peoples earning capacity simply to eat. Then there is the declining wages in the Western world as labour costs gravitate towards parity with Asia.

"something like a US 1900 - 1920's lifestyle"

I have little idea at what rate deforestation was taking place, at what rate wales, buffalo, passenger pidgeon's, dodo birds were being exterminated......even then, most flora and fauna continued to exist at the whim of the human race. A very great deal of environmental damage had been completed prior to the 1900-20's, the most serious war for resources concluded in 1918.

We have never existed sustainably. We needed something to prey on us, we needed a limited habitat not the whole world. Our populations needed to ebb and flow with the good times and bad. We simply eliminated the bad times from the natural flow of human proceedings and conquered the planet. The inevitable conclusion to that is forthcoming.

I tend to agree with Eric. We're going to transition.. we're ALREADY transitioning and always are doing so..

right now, much of our transition energy is going into building several new generations of GameBoys, Large Flatscreen TVs, GPS gadgets, fighting multiple Wars, racing high-powered vehicles in endless circles around various tracks, taking helicopters out from the cruise ships to 'look at the glacier', watch cooking and cop shows.

These things would need to be budgeted into this transition that 'may or may not be possible' .. and I'm not saying we just need a dictator to put a stop to ALL of that and put those people on a forced production line of Renewable Energy Tools.. but doing a lot of headscratching and fervent surmising is, to me, Fiddling while Rome burns.

My preferred cartoon slogan for approaching this would be

"It's a crazy plan, but it just might work!" - and then move ahead and try.. instead of

"Right! This calls for Immediate Discussion!"

-We're on the edge of the waterfall here. I'm not joining a committee that will decide 'whether this mannequin's leg might work as a paddle or not'.

Gadgets/entertainment are someone's way of making a living, just like being a soldier or a lobbyist.

The things which will be "needed" will be argued to be expanded by the ones in the "not needed" because if they ain't on the list, they are outta work.

And so the parasitic loads will remain until the host is dead.

It's worse than that.

If our state is any indication, the parasitic loads will be the only ones to get any new funding.

We had a "no new taxes" governor here for twelve years.

He kept true to his pledge in spite of crises in education, hospitals, libraries...nearly every essential service.

But he eagerly raised taxes for one and only one thing:

a sports stadium (though the billionaire team owner, the millionaire drug addled players, and the wealthy season ticket holders of the high end seats could have easily paid for the thing without breaking a sweat).

And the same is about to repeat itself, but this time it is the legislature that won't raise taxes (especially not on the wealthiest) for anything else in spite of even greater crises at all levels, but they are very eager to raise taxes for yet another stadium.

These are among the things that most firmly fix me in my doomerism. We can dream up all the great schemes for transition, but the reigning idiocy--particularly the imperative for bread and circus--will apparently always prevail.

You do not need to accept these things as right, but they should not surprise you. This kind of thing is to be expected - I think those who are looking for enlightened transition are fooling themselves, as such responses are not generally supported by the historical record of past civilizations. At least as far as I know.

Not surprised, but still disappointed.

There are occasional moments of enlightened public policy, but the majority seem to be going in the opposite direction from what is desperately needed.


Cryosat mission delivers first sea-ice map

Scientists already have a number of insights on sea-ice thickness in the Arctic - from buoys, from submarine sonar data, from field expeditions, from aircraft sorties such those by the AWI, and from previous generations of satellite radar and laser altimeters. But Cryosat should be a big boost to that data haul, not least because it sees the entire Arctic basin, right up to two degrees from the pole.

In addition to its sea-ice mission, Cryosat is also tracking changes in land-ice.

From looking at that cryosat image of the Arctic, the color designations for meters deep ice don't seem that alarming. Most of it ranges from 2-5 meters in thickness, which seems quite thick.

Is this in line with what was expected or is it thicker? Have the alarm bells for Arctic ice thickness thinning been too alarmist?

Don't get me wrong - I get GW, its direction and implications, but want to get as good a grasp of the situation as possible, so am asking the hard questions.

Much of the ice being depicted is likely 2nd year and younger. Sea ice becomes more dense and stronger over time and thus is more difficult to break up and melt out. Thus, the biggest concern is the loss of multi-year ice.

Bear in mind these are dead of winter (JAN-FEB) thicknesses. Come back in mid-September.

NSIDC Sea Ice Site

...Rothrock and collaborators determined that the mean ice draft (the ice extending below the water surface) at the end of the melt season in the Arctic decreased by about 1.3 meters between the 1950s and the 1990s

...Arctic sea ice thickness declined from 3.64 meters in 1980 to 1.89 meters in 2008—a decline of 1.75 meters.

Sea Ice thickness is discussed near the bottom of the page

Thanks Seraph, that's what I was looking for, a longer term perspective on ice thickness, which obviously is of great concern because if it continues to decline, oh my...

Here's a link http://www.fastcompany.com/1761625/what-are-the-climate-tipping-points-t...

to an article that came out today suggesting low to high probabilities for different possible disasters. Interestingly enough, it ranks arctic ice melt as a low probability disaster because,

The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology contends that the loss of sea ice could be slowed or even stopped if overall climate change is slowed.

Not mentioned is how. How do we stop a runaway train of climate change momentum from decades of increasing CO2 emissions?

That's an interesting link, but their rationale for having summer ice loss in the low impact doesn't make sense. The lead author of the study Tietsche is quoted as saying "If we don't slow down global warming extensively, we will lose the summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic within a few decades".

Well for a start, summer sea ice cover being lost in a few decades is looking pretty optimistic from my perspective of a layman looking at the trends. Further, the premise of the research is that, if all the ice melts, because you lose the thin cover of ice, heat from the oceans is lost quicker and the ice will return.

So the article concludes, it is low impact because the ice will stabilise depending on what the climate is at the time. The study doesn't try to analyse the effects of having an ice free Arctic on other systems such as weather, currents etc. This is the right study to look at if you want to know if winter ice can return after all summer ice has gone, but the wrong study to base the impact of an ice free Arctic on.

The scientist (whose opinion the media article is based on) is somebody who believes the current level of CO2 may not be in overshoot. He has written we can suck some of the CO2 from the atmosphere and by 2050 the levels could be falling. In my opinion, that isn't likely and we have already passed the tipping point for CO2 as evidenced by the land and sea ice trends.

I agree, it seems we have passed the tipping point.

I would be interested to see what the article would have concluded if it tried to look at what would happen to weather and other systems with no summer sea ice - since it could well happen in the next few years. This would be far more interesting than "can winter ice return holding everything else equal"

I find this link confusing.

Only one axis is labelled, so you have to figure out from the text that the horizontal axis is indicating likelihood, and then extrapolate that further to the right means more likely. So sea ice melting is the most likely, and has the least risk (risk seems an odd word choice), according to this chart.

Okay, that seems about right. It is very likely to happen but with comparatively less catastrophic effect than some of the other feedbacks.

But then in the paragraph about the sea ice loss, it states:

the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice as early as 2013. This will mean more water in the ocean, which will ultimately lead to to higher sea levels and increased flooding.

but wait, isn't this water already in the ocean? My understanding is that ice sheet loss will raise the ocean levels, as it is water currently sequestered on land, but that the sea ice is floating and is therefore already displaced.

What am I missing here? The information seems either wrong, or contradictory.

Correct, floating ice displaces as much water as when it is liquid. However, in the Arctic there is fresh water ice floating on salty liquid water.

The ice is acting like a cooler or ice cubes floating in a cold drink. Heat is being drawn from the liquid water to melt the ice. When the ice is melted, the heat will rise the temperature of the water faster.

The ice is more reflective than the liquid water. When the ice is gone, more sunlight will be absorbed in the water helping to raise its temperature.

When the temperature of water reaches about 4 C, thermal expansion makes warmer water occupy more volume (less density) than colder water. The thermal expansion of warming water cause sea level rise. Warmer Arctic water means more water at its parameter passes 4 C. The expectation is that the temperature of the Arctic ocean in the summer will eventually surpass 4 C.

The salinity of the water is also a factor. The ice is less salty than the sea water. Salty water is more dense (occupies less volume) than fresh water. When the ice melts, it decreases the salinity and the density of the water making it occupy more volume. You can try various values of temperature and salinity at the Water Density Calculator.

As water rises in temperature from 0 C to 4 C its density increases making it occupy less volume. I am not sure which effect, thermal contraction or density change from salinity, initially dominates in the Arctic ocean. Eventually as temperature rises thermal expansion will dominate.

Radioactive tritium leaks found at 48 US nuke sites

BRACEVILLE, Ill. — Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.

Good example of 'Jevons Paradox'

Study: Can we balance air conditioning, saving energy?

When it's 100-plus degrees outside, all you want to do is turn up the air conditioning inside. Because of all of this cooling, some government-mandated incentive programs are aimed at getting us to buy more efficient air conditioners to save energy and money. However, a recent study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University explains why, even if we buy the more efficient devices, the plan won’t necessarily work.

... “Ask any economist what the simplest way is to encourage less use of a product, and most will say to raise its price,” says Croucher. “Interestingly, energy efficiency tends to do the opposite, so we shouldn’t be surprised if savings are not as high as expected.”

Dumb statement typical of economists.
The amount of air conditioning is a function of the weather outside. Nobody(sane) is going to run the AC if it is 60 degrees outside no matter how cheap electricity is. Efficient HVAC will reduce energy.

People who would not have bought air conditioners before because they were too expensive to operate might be tempted to do so now if they cost less to run. Use expands at the margins, not because existing users run their equipment more.

I only run my air conditioner when it is very hot because it costs so much to run. If it cost less to run I would run it when it is only a little hot also for the comfort.

In fact I have PV on the roof and it leads me to run the air conditioning more often because I know I am not paying for all the electric I use. Some (about half) I generate myself.

Efficient HVAC will reduce energy.

Make it a passive solar and PV powered AC system and you can run it as much as you want without affecting overall energy consumption from the grid.


Fred, is this your new business?

It seems counterintuitive that heating the compressed refrigerant will increase efficiency in cooling mode- is it then a larger condenser relative to the compressor?

When running in heat pump mode, and the flow is reversed, presumably the heat collected from the tubes means the compressor has to do less work to extract heat from the air. This would be a benefit in cold sunny places.

Fred, is this your new business?

No, I'm not involved with solar air conditioning or Sedna Aire.

It seems counterintuitive that heating the compressed refrigerant will increase efficiency in cooling mode- is it then a larger condenser relative to the compressor?

See this explanation as to how it works.


They have opened a store close to me and are in the final stages of getting the permits to install a system on their rooftop. I plan on visiting them often, especially on the hottest days to see how cool the store is and how much electricity they are consuming. They have a new high temperature solar collector they will be deploying. I think their system is pretty cool.

I had looked at that page, but I still don't see how it works. You superheat the refrigerant, so you then have to remove all that added heat in the condenser. They say the condenser works better because of the higher temp difference, so I can only presume this somehow results in less pressure restriction (=less compressor work) in going through the condenser. You certainly want the the refrigerant at the lowest temperature exiting the condenser, so all the extra heat has to be removed.

I guess I'd like to see a more detailed explanation of these details, but since they have made it work, then great - not very often that heat is your friend in A/C!

I guess I'd like to see a more detailed explanation of these details, but since they have made it work, then great - not very often that heat is your friend in A/C!



Sedna Aire Solar Absorption Air Conditioning uses the sun as a source of heat to provide the energy needed to drive the cooling process. This process is very efficient, since most of the condenser and evaporator coil face is being utilized.

The basic thermodynamic process is not a conventional thermodynamic cooling process based on Charles Law. Instead, it is based on evaporation, carrying heat, in the form of fast-moving (hot) molecules from one material to another material that preferentially absorbs hot molecules.

I had a more detailed technical explanation in PDF format somewhere, if I find it I'll post a link.


Existing home sales drop 3.8%

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sales of existing homes fell in May, as severe weather and high gas prices weighed on the shaky housing market.

Home sales fell 3.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million, down from a revised rate of 5 million in April, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

Texas refiners feeling heat from wildfires:


Former Vice President Al Gore is sounding the alarm about climate change and extreme weather, pointing to the recent floods along the Mississippi River, drought in Texas and wildfires in Arizona.


Didn't mention drought to flood now occurring in China.


Notice that Arizona blew up right after Sarah Palin bought a house there. The climate change gods are angry.

Ironically the article about Gore on climate change has an ad next to it for Shell oil.

We are now less than two weeks away from the end of QE2. If QE2 actually does end as scheduled and QE3 doesn't start immediately then theoretically we should see a quite large fall in the price of commodities - including oil. Commodities have already been pulling back from their highs for a couple of weeks (in expectation of the withdrawal of QE2?) and the question now is whether the fall will accelerate greatly. Oil is currently in backwardation with the 2015 Brent contract priced at about 100 USD (unlike the situation we saw prior to the 2008 peak where we had a contango right up until the moment the oil prices dropped). Although fundamentals will drive oil prices in the long-run, near-term I believe that oil prices are going to be driven by available liquidity: Sharp falls are likely over the coming weeks.

Will the folks in DC balance the budget or continue to print money to deficit spend? Fear not QE3 will be operating by September 1, 2011.

But they will tell us that the deficit has been substantially lowered. When in fact it will run higher this year than last year. They will also tell us that inflation is zero. LMAO

More Dangerous Than Nuclear Power: The Floods Caused by Aging Dams

As the U.S. and China endure record-breaking floods this spring, there is a risk that is being overlooked amidst the inundated towns, evacuations and rising waters. Dams in the U.S. boast an average age of 50 years, and the American Society of Civil Engineers continues to give the nation's dams a D grade overall in terms of maintenance. Will it take the catastrophic collapse of a dam—like the five in the 1970s in the U.S. that killed hundreds—before the infrastructure is repaired?

You can't really compare them. A dam bursts all at once doing its damage over a short period of time. With nuclear the issue is that the cumulative damage builds up slowly over a very long time.

Also the damage done by the flood from a busting dam is confined to the area of the river which can be identified and avoided. Not so for nukes because the toxins are carried by the wind.

Paul Nash has spoken of some of the water conservation programmes he has implemented over the years and I think this is an area that merits greater attention. I came across an ACEEE study on commercial front load washers that was helpful to me (see link below) and had the opportunity to pass this information on to a property management firm we picked up last week. We can help them save 15,000 kWh a year at one of their properties by converting their garage lighting to T8, but the real savings opportunities lie in their laundry rooms....

Hi [xxx],

When we did our walk through of [xxxxx] the other day, I had mentioned that if the four electric water heaters that supply your laundry rooms were equipped with 3.0 kW elements as opposed to 4.5 kW, you could reduce your demand and energy charges by over $1,000.00 a year. Here's how the numbers breakout:

The 6.0 kW reduction in demand (i.e., four tanks at 1.5 kW each), would reduce your demand charges by $650.45 a year (6.0 kW x $9.034/kW x 12 months/year). This 6.0 kW reduction in demand would also shift 1,200 kWh of energy each month to NSP's lower cost second tier, for an additional savings of $406.37 a year (6.0 kW x 200 kWh/month, per kW x ($0.09646 - $0.06824 per kWh) x 12 months/year). Combined, that's an annual savings of $1,056.82.

These savings will grow over time as electricity rates continue to escalate higher in coming years (commercial rates are expected to increase between 5 and 10 per cent per year in each of the next four years). Assuming a 6 per cent per annum increase in electricity rates over the next ten years, you could theoretically save some $14,000.00 on your utility charges over the life of these tanks by simply changing out these higher wattage elements.

We also spoke of the potential savings of replacing your current top load washers with front loaders assuming that your service provider will permit you to do this at little or no charge. According to a recent ACEEE study (http://www.aceee.org/files/pdf/conferences/hwf/2011/2C%20-%20Nehemiah%20...), the commercial front loaders identified in this report use, on average, 20.5 fewer gallons of water per load than the top loaders they replaced –– 7.3 gallons of hot water and 13.2 gallons of cold. I believe [xxx] had said that there are eighty units in this building and I'm guessing residents average between two and three loads of laundry per week. If we assume an average of 2.5 loads a week, per unit, that suggests a total of 10,400 washer loads per year. Thus, the potential water savings could be as high as 213,200 US gallons/800,000 litres per year, including, presumably, some 75,920 gallons/285,000 litres of hot water. Assuming an average temperature rise of 50°C, the reduction in your water heating usage could easily exceed 15,000 kWh per year.

In addition, front load washers extract more water in their final spin than do their top load counterparts, and this could cut drying time by perhaps 25 per cent. Conservatively speaking, you could expect to save 0.6 kWh per dryer load or 6,240 kWh per year based on our estimate of 10,400 loads per year †. Taken together, your water heating and dryer related savings could exceed 22,000 kWh/year (275 kWh per residential unit). Again, if you can replace these top loaders at little or no cost, you could potentially save an additional $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 a year on your electricity bill and presumably several hundred more in water and sewer charges.

Lastly, a typical clothes dryer exhausts 250 cubic feet of air per minute or some 15,000 cubic feet per 60-minute load –– a volume roughly equivalent to that of a room 40 by 45 feet in size. For six or seven months of the year, the air that they exhaust is replaced by cold outside air that has to be heated electrically, and if you can trim this heat loss by 25 per cent, this will help lower your space heating costs as well.


† By way of your revenue sharing agreement, you should be able to determine the exact number of loads washed each year.

Their laundry equipment is provided by an outside service party at no charge and the revenues generated by these machines are shared by the building owner and this third party. Hopefully, they can make arrangements to have these machines swapped out for more efficient front loaders.

The hallways are pressurized 24-hours a day and I'd like to replace these fan motors with variable speed ECM drives with the idea of scaling back the volume of make-up air that's required during the overnight hours. That could score us several thousands of kWh savings too.


Good stuff Paul,

It is often surprising how much energy is associated with water use, directly and indirectly. If you are doing something that reduces water usage, then you are also reducing energy usage, though not always on-site.

I was surprised when I first learned the significance of dryer air usage - turns out to be the main cause of negative pressure problems in many older residential buildings (that don't have exhausting range hoods). That is a good argument for condensing (ventless) clothes dryers, that don't exhaust any air. Also avoids the risk of being a statistic in this group, according to the US Dept of Homeland Security, blocked dryer vents cause;

Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.

But back to the water savings - don't forget to include these in the payback calculations for your client. Your estimated 800cu.m/yr saving is worth some $ in itself. Using the water rates for Halifax Regional Water Commission , the consumption rate is $0.413/cu.m for water and $1.169 for sewer, for a combined total of $1.582/cu.m. this will save an additional $1260/yr in water and sewer costs - roughly equal to the energy demand savings.

But wait, there's more.... The offsite energy costs associated with water supply, treatment and delivery are in the order of 1kwh/cu.m (more for highly pumped systems, like Los Angeles), and about the same again for sewage treatment. So the 800 cu.m/ yr will also save the HRWC 1600kWh/yr (about 0.2cont kW)- also useful if you are tallying up CO2 reductions.

Also, you are saving on water and sewer infrastructure capacity. If there are capacity expansions/replacements coming up, the capital cost is in the order of $2000 per cu.m/day for water, and the same again for sewage (secondary treatment), so the 800cu.m/yr is 2.2 cu.m/day, which is worth about $8800 of water and sewage treatment capacity. The HRWC is doing very well out if this - if I were you I would hit up their infrastructure manager for at least a beer or two!

Also, since the building HW is electric, I have an excellent high efficiency (1.5gpm) showerhead I can recommend to you (I use it on all my projects) if that falls within your mandate. Will save about another 7,000 gal/yr of hot water in this building.

Another aspect to consider when you start to save some serious amounts of water (>40%) is that in some cases you can then downsize the main water meter. Since most municipalities charge a monthly fee based on the meter size - a rough equivalent of a demand charge - there are some $ to be had here. For example, if this building has a 4" main meter (an it probably does), the HRWC charges $280.98/mo for water, and $ 286.93/mo for sewer, for a total of $567.91/mo

If you can do a few other things to get a 40% reduction in annual water use, (implying a 40% reduction in peak instantaneous flow), then the 4" could be replaced with a 3" meter. the monthly charges for this are $180.44 and $183.06, for a total of $363.06, or a saving of $2460/yr.

I have usually had to work in reverse, finding water related electric savings to factor into the project payback. It is quite surprising how much the on and offsite energy usage related to water adds up. In 2005, the California Energy Commission did a study on California's Water-Energy Relationship and found that;

water-related energy use consumes 19 percent of the state’s electricity, 30 percent of its natural
gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year

Truly amazing numbers, and almost certainly the most energy intensive water in the country. I saw a presentation on this by one of the authors, and his conclusion was that if Ca wanted to save electricity, they were better off to to change showerheads than light bulbs!

Report makes for great reading material in the bathroom!



Thanks, Paul, for the additional info; it's very much appreciated. I was too lazy to calculate the potential water and sewer savings, but it's good to know that it's in the range of $1,200.00 to $1,300.00 a year. Plus all the secondary/indirect benefits you mention; I remember reading somewhere that one out of every six kWh consumed in California is related to the handling of potable and waste water (it could have been higher), so the numbers are not insignificant.

I have to head back to take a closer look at their ventilation systems. We've limited ourselves to just lighting in the past, but it would be a shame to ignore all these other opportunities.


Hi Paul,

Usually the water savings from an energy saving project are so small (% terms) that performance contractors were rarely interested in them, even when, as in this case, the savings will happen, you just have to estimate them.

If the place (or any place) is on elec HW, then the showerheads are a fantastic payback - usually less than six months- both on elec and water - that's why hotels love them. Send me an email (address in profile) if you want some more information.

When you go back, take a measuring jug, and measure a couple of showerheads, and bathroom faucet aerators. Simply run the water, then put the jug under it for six seconds, and however much water you have collected, multiply by 10 and that is your flowrate. Showerheads are officially 2.5 gpm, (9.5L/min) but I find most actually run at about 8L/min Faucets usually run 7L/min. The replacement shwrhds run at 6L/min and 4 for the faucets, but you can't notice the difference unless you are looking for it!

The California one in six was the number that inspired that particular report, which showed it was one in five! Even though everyone looks at the aqueducts supplying LA and the energy use for pumping (and it is a lot of energy) the single biggest energy consumer, related to water, is heating it in inside of buildings.

Also, their most energy intensive sources (i.e. the most pumping energy) are now more energy per cu.m than desalination - a reflection on how much desal has improved over the decades.

Thanks, Paul. I believe another group within Efficiency Nova Scotia may have already upgraded the shower heads and taps. I know they installed CFLs in all the units at no charge, but I'll check this out. Each apartment is individually metered and so I have to restrict myself to just the common areas. Looking at their billing history, there's roughly 150,000 kWh in common area usage that falls outside of their lighting, so that basically leaves domestic water heating (laundry rooms only), the operation of the washers and dryers, a couple of baseboard strips and the ventilation fans (the make-up air is most likely heated electrically). I should know more in the next day or so once I can head back to take a second look.


Back from the brink, but not back to normal (Part 3)

A quick update on tonight’s API report, which is not much of a surprise but generally worse than expected:

June 21, 2011, 4:42 p.m. EDT
API posts modest decline in crude supplies

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Crude-oil supplies fell by a less-than-expected 81,000 barrels for the week ended June 17, the American Petroleum Institute said in a report late Tuesday. Gasoline inventories declined by 1.5 million barrels and distillate inventories shed 541,000 barrels, the trade group said. Following the data, crude prices added to losses, with August crude CL1Q -0.50% down 63 cents at $93.54 a barrel in electronic trading. The API's figures come ahead of Wednesday's more closely-watched Energy Information Administration report. Analysts polled by Platts expect a decrease of 2 million barrels for crude supplies, a rise of 1 million for gasoline and an increase of 800,000 barrels for distillates.


Soon after I said last week that across the US gasoline supplies improved from critically low levels, a new shortage situation temporarily popped up in Memphis. Well as of now I will say again there does not appear to be any local shortages developing.

Longer term, as the summer progresses, I am not so sanguine. Refiners have just not been able to get up to their normal operational capacity for various reasons. For example, the very large BP Texas City refinery has had persistent problems getting back to normal:

BP sees Texas City returning to full rates in Aug
Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:28pm GMT

June 21 (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L: Quote) has "substantially restored" capacity at its 475,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Texas City, Texas, after a power outage at the end of April, with full rates expected in August, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"Due to the impact of the emergency shutdown and restart, we are continuing to have operational issues associated with some key downstream units," said Scott Dean, a spokesman for the company.

Dean said, BP has been able to economically use only about half of the plant's capacity on average over the quarter, but expects the last of the impacted units to return to full capacity in August.


Although gasoline imports have been above trend the last few weeks before this one, recently gasoline traders in New York harbor and shippers in general noted over the last week a significant slowdown in gasoline imports expected to enter the US. This probably contributed to the 1.5 million barrel fall that the API reported above.

Going forward the net amount of US oil and product imports, that is oil imports plus product imports less product exports, remains a concern. Last week, the EIA reported that oil product exports were at or near record rates. This also has the unwanted effect of running down US gasoline and diesel inventories during the peak summer driving season.

The Texas City refinery says it will get back to normal by August. Let’s hope so – because that is just about the time gasoline inventories seasonally fall to their lowest levels.