Drumbeat: June 25, 2011

Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush

Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States.

But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.

In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

White House proposes increased mileage standards for cars, light trucks

The Obama administration wants cars and light trucks in the United States to average 56.2 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2025, a standard that will cut the nation’s oil consumption and carbon output significantly while also raising each vehicle’s cost by about $2,375.

The White House’s ambitious opening bid, which it revealed in conversations with domestic auto companies and lawmakers last week, has already sparked resistance. U.S. automakers have offered to raise fuel efficiency over the next eight years to between 42.6 and 46.7 mpg, according to sources who had been briefed on the negotiations.

Dozens march for freedom in Saudi Arabia, according to YouTube video

DUBAI — Dozens of people wearing white shrouds have staged a peaceful march in the oil-producing region of eastern Saudi Arabia, demanding basic rights and the release of prisoners, according to a video posted on YouTube.

The video recording showed about 30 men, many in Western clothes, marching with white shrouds that symbolize willingness to die as martyrs, in the mainly Shiite city of Qatif on Friday.

Syrian Forces Reported to Kill Five; Libyan Civilian Deaths Denied by NATO

Syrian security forces killed five people in the Homs province and the Damascus suburb of Kassweh, Al Arabiya television reported yesterday.

Two of the dead, including a 13-year-old boy, were shot while attending a funeral in Kassweh, Arabiya said, citing activists. Three protesters were killed by security forces in Homs, Arabiya reported, citing Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian observatory for human rights.

Western Libya Earns a Taste of Freedom as Rebels Loosen Qaddafi’s Grip

ROGEBAN, Libya —Until a few weeks ago, the rebellious towns in the Nafusah Mountains were struggling to survive on dwindling supplies of barley, water and gas during a long siege by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s soldiers.

But after an improbable series of military victories over the past three weeks — with fewer than 100 rebel fighters killed, their military leaders say — residents of a broad area in this mountain region are celebrating virtual secession from Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya. While there have been defeats, and the Grad rockets of Colonel Qaddafi’s forces still menace the outskirts of Nalut near the Tunisian border and Yafran to the east, rebels point hopefully to the growing stability of the towns under their control as evidence of how tenuous Colonel Qaddafi’s grip may be.

Peru's president blames deadly clashes on 'dark political interests'

(CNN) -- Peruvian President Alan Garcia said Saturday that "dark political interests" were responsible for the recent deadly outbreak of violence in the southern department of Puno.

"What they are looking to do is pressure the next government of President (Ollanta) Humala," the outgoing president told reporters. "There are dark political interests here that are demanding power."

First a Gold Rush, Then the Lawyers

After a mining project in El Salvador failed to launch, thwarted investors started heading to international courts to seek out lost profits.

Obama's desperate SPR oil play

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Four reasons are emerging for President Obama's surprise decision Thursday to release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic reserve -- economic stimulus; a looming supply shortage; a wake up call to OPEC; and a warning shot to speculators in the oil market.

Australia: Fireproofing power lines costly: report

The Victorian government is committed to improving electricity safety in the wake of Black Saturday, but at a practical and affordable cost, Energy Minister Michael O'Brien says.

Mr O'Brien, speaking with AAP, disputed reports that electricity bills could rise by as much as $740 every year for the next 10 years if the government implemented all the recommendations of the Black Saturday royal commission.

Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain Runs Nonstop

Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems.

‘Safety Myth’ Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis

Over several decades, Japan’s nuclear establishment has devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public of the safety and necessity of nuclear power. Plant operators built lavish, fantasy-filled public relations buildings that became tourist attractions. Bureaucrats spun elaborate advertising campaigns through a multitude of organizations established solely to advertise the safety of nuclear plants. Politicians pushed through the adoption of government-mandated school textbooks with friendly views of nuclear power.

The result was the widespread adoption of the belief — called the “safety myth” — that Japan’s nuclear power plants were absolutely safe. Japan single-mindedly pursued nuclear power even as Western nations distanced themselves from it.

Survey shows disappointment, anger among Fukushima evacuees

Disappointment toward Tokyo Electric Power Co. for its failure to guard the safety of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and anger at the central government's inept handling of the accident.

Those are the two major themes that emerge from the results of an interview survey of 407 evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Pensioners to Aid Nuclear Plant Clean-Up on Worker Shortage

Yasuteru Yamada, a 72-year-old former anti-nuclear activist, will lead a band of pensioners to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant early next month to help clean up the site of Japan’s worst atomic disaster since World War II.

Workers Remove Device From Damaged Japanese Reactor

TOKYO — A 3.3-ton device that bedeviled the troubled Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor for nearly a year was removed on Friday morning, Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency said.

Staff Criticize Nuclear Regulator for Halting Evaluation

WASHINGTON — In an unusual public dissent, staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a House subcommittee on Friday that they were frustrated by a boss’s decision to halt their evaluation of a site in Nevada as a future repository for the nation’s nuclear waste.

Crude Oil Falls in New York, Hits Four-Month Low in London on IEA Release

Futures in London tumbled 8 percent in two days on the IEA’s plan to respond to the drop in Libyan exports by the coordinated action of members. Oil also dropped as Oracle Corp. led U.S. equities lower and on concern Italian banks will be downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service, signaling the Greek debt crisis may spread to other European countries.

“Sentiment in the market has pretty clearly shifted,” said Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Washington. “Sentiment would have shifted even without the IEA release because the economy is in pretty bad shape.”

Iran condemns IEA decision to release oil stocks

(Reuters) - Iran condemned on Saturday a decision by oil consumer nations to release strategic crude stocks as politically motivated interference in the market that would not have a sustained impact on prices.

Iran May Revive OPEC Meeting Plan If Prices Keep Falling - Official

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Iran may revive its proposal to hold an emergency OPEC meeting if oil prices keep falling after a stocks release from consumer nations, an Iranian oil official said Thursday.

Inflation fears as India hikes fuel costs

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indians will have to pay more for fuel from Saturday after the government announced a hike in the price of some petroleum products, increasing inflationary pressures in the fast-growing economy.

Petroleum minister Jaipal Reddy late Friday raised the price of diesel by 3 rupees (7 cents) per litre, in a move that will pile added pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's embattled government.

Protests across Andhra Pradesh against fuel price hike

The hike in prices of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene evoked a strong reaction in Andhra Pradesh with opposition parties Saturday staging protests across the state and demanding an immediate rollback.

Indonesia: Govt plans to cut oil production target

The government plans to cut this year’s oil production target from 970,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to 945,000 bpd as most of the country’s major oil companies have failed to meet their production goals.

A few more thoughts on Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases

In today’s Chronicle column and in this earlier post, I discussed the Obama administration’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Since then, I’ve heard from a few other oil watchers, who offered some other interesting ideas about what might be behind the move. All seem to agree that the decision by both the Obama administration and the 27 other countries in the International Energy Agency is politically motivated.

The IEA Telegraphs a Huge Oil and Gas Buying Opportunity

Unfortunately this IEA effort is just a drop in the bucket and will have a nominal short term effect on oil prices. The drop in prices today should be seen as a buying opportunity for the non-OPEC integrated players who will benefit from rising prices once the dust settles and everyone realizes the theory of peak oil may soon be proven true.

Unforgiven – Part Five

The price for a bar­rel of oil was $12 in 1998. Rather than take advan­tage of this Indian sum­mer and cre­at­ing a plan to tran­si­tion from deplet­ing oil to other energy sources, our lead­ers did noth­ing. The Amer­i­can peo­ple bought mas­sive SUVs, mini­vans and pick­ups and moved fur­ther into the sub­ur­ban coun­try­side, miles from civ­i­liza­tion. The bumpy plateau of peak oil has arrived and oil prices have ranged between $70 and $140 a bar­rel for the last few years. We will long for these prices in a few short years.

It's a flying shame

Practically everything we do, from eating an ice to crossing the Atlantic, and from baking a loaf to writing a novel, involves the use of coal, directly or indirectly.... George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

I fly a lot. It comes with the job. I've also, jesuitically perhaps, regarded seats on planes like any other form of public transport if the service runs to a timetable, why not be on it? Since big jets first flew in the 1970s plane travel has been within the reach of all of us. Given a couple of grand you can get to most places. But now there are new considerations. First, are the emissions about 3 per cent of greenhouse gases too great? Second, now that the arrival of peak oil has been confirmed even by the International Energy Agency in Paris, we must be even more mindful of George Orwell's warning: the energy must come from somewhere. If not coal or oil, then what?

Solar Heats Up in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the newest and hottest solar power market to attract the attention of emerging leaders in the solar-energy space.

Green Jobs Attract Graduates

Sustainability seems to resonate with droves of ambitious, young innovators seeking jobs with meaning.

The Difference Engine: The beef about corn

IN A surprise U-turn, members of the United States Senate voted 73-27 last week to abolish a 45-cents-a-gallon subsidy for ethanol from corn (ie, maize) that is used for blending with petrol. They also voted to kill the 54-cents-a-gallon import duty on ethanol from abroad. This is the first time in over three decades that the Senate has challenged the sacrosanct $6 billion-a-year tax break for American corn-growers and ethanol producers.

California Widens Clean-Fuel Zone for Ships

Noting that cargo ships are traveling longer distances to avoid having to switch as quickly to a cleaner-burning fuel off the California coast, the state’s Air Resources Board has changed its fuel regulations.

The amended rules, approved on Thursday, are aimed at both reducing the ships’ greenhouse gas emissions and addressing a problem that the vessels created for the Navy as they shifted to routes farther offshore to avoid compliance.

9% electricity price rise possible in 2013 as EU bids to control carbon emissions

THE PRICE of electricity could see an increase of over 9.0 per cent in 2013, as a new EU regulation on carbon emissions kicks in, it emerged yesterday.

Since 2007, countries have been allocated a specific free amount of CO2 they can emit and obliged to pay for any excess above that.

Cyprus has so far paid €22 million.

Shell Gets $876 Million for Canadian Carbon Capture Project

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) will receive C$865 million ($876 million) from the governments of Alberta and Canada to fund a carbon capture and storage project.

Grasping Climate Change at a Garden-Plot Level

One of the first places where Americans may notice the impact of climate change is in their own gardens and backyards, their most common point of intersection with the natural world.

On Friday, the federal government announced that it would take advantage of that connection by introducing a pilot project in concert with the American Public Garden Association to educate some 70 million annual visitors to public gardens, many of whom are gardeners themselves, on climate change.

Don't ignore climate skeptics – talk to them differently

For example, when US Energy Secretary Steven Chu refers to advances in renewable-energy technology in China as America's "Sputnik moment," he is framing climate change as a common threat to economic competitiveness. When Pope Benedict links the threat of climate change with threats to life and dignity, he is painting it as an issue of religious morality.

When the Military Advisory Board, a group of retired military officers, refers to climate change as a "threat multiplier," it is using a national-security frame.

And when the Pew Center refers to climate change as an issue of risk management, it is promoting climate insurance just as homeowners buy fire insurance. This is the way to engage the debate; not hammering skeptics with more data and expressing dismay that they don't get it.

US Natural Gas (NG) Consumption & Production Update

Apparently, the EIA defines NG production as dry NG production. Following is what the EIA shows for production less consumption, and net imports, by year (TCF):

Production (P) - Consumption (C) = Net Imports

2005: 18.1 - 22.0 = -3.9
2006: 18.5 - 21.7 = -3.2
2007: 19.3 - 23.1 = -3.8
2008: 20.2 - 23.3 = -3.1
2009: 20.6 - 22.8 = -2.2
2010: 21.6 - 24.1 = -2.5

Obviously, rising NG production is a rare bright spot in the global energy picture, but the US remains a large net NG importer. At the current rate of decline in the US C/P ratio for NG, we would achieve zero net imports some time around 2017, but note that we appear to have seen a year over year increase in net imports in 2010.

To put our net imports in perspective, US net NG imports in 2010 (about 6.8 BCF/day) were approximately equivalent to all of Qatar's net NG exports for 2009.

To put it another way, US net NG imports in 2010, 6.8 BCF/day, exceeded total 2010 NG production from the Barnett Shale (Newark, East Field, TRCC), about 5.0 BCF/day.

In energy equivalent terms (BOE), US net NG imports in 2010, about 1.1 mbpd of BOE (up from about 1.0 mbpd BOE in 2009), were roughly equivalent to 2010 net oil exports from Canada.

And as the "Rock" and Art Berman, among others, have discussed, high decline rates versus limited equipment and personnel suggest that we may have problems maintaining rising NG production.

US Natural Gas Production:

US Natural Gas Consumption:

The link shows that US natural gas production is about the same as in 1973.

1973 21.7 million cubic feet
2019 21.6 million cubic feet

Note that the numbers you listed are trillion cubic feet (TCF) per year.

And of course, it took a massively larger number of wells in 2010 to approximately match the 1973 production rate.

For example, Texas RRC data show that Texas produced 9.6 TCF of gas in 1972, from 23,000 gas wells. In 2009, we produced 7.6 TCF of gas, from 101,000 gas wells (excluding associated gas in both cases). Per well production in 1972 was 1,140 MCF/day. Per well production in 2009 was 210 MCF/day.

Thanks for the correction. I am not and have never been an oilman. I was planning on some editing including inserting the word DRY before natural gas production. Your mention of the number of wells required adds to the absurdity of claims made by Boone Pickens and others about natural gas as our savior. We import from Canada and I believe export small amounts to Mexico. Is Canada near or beyond peak production of dry natural gas or will the recent Canadian production declines be reversed?

Canada is past its peak of conventional natural gas production and it is in slow decline. However, Canada also has large reserves of shale gas (as large as or larger than the US shale gas reserves), which will probably come on production at some point in the future.

At this point in time the US shale gas reserves are closer to market and therefore cheaper to deliver to American consumers, so Canadian gas production will probably continue to decline in the short to medium term.

The use of natural gas has gone through some huge conservation measures since that time. I remember the department stores back then used forced air customer entrances all year. Even as a kid, this seemed like the most wasteful ideas ever concocted. But then again, that is what happened with cheap energy, we now produce just as much but waste a lot less.

That is a very interesting chart. Given the dramatic increase in use of NG turbines for electricity generation, home heating, commercial boilers etc, what was all that gas being used for back in the 70's?

WHT's door heaters can't account for all of it.

The flow rates per well suggest then that the rough EROEI, or gas produced per (inflation adjusted) capital $ spent, has decreased by a factor of five.

The low hanging fruit has well and truly gone.

There was probably waste circa 1973 due to price controls. Natural gas was artificially cheap . Industry is the largest user of natural gas. Some of our industries have moved to China, Mexico etc. In recent years I have read there has been variation in the use of natural gas for the production of fertilizer.

From: http://www.naturalgas.org/regulation/history.asp

" Rising natural gas prices resulted in the dropping off of some of the demand that had built up when the price for natural gas was held below its market value."

That may account for it, as many of these factory buildings are huge and heating accounts for the biggest yearly expense. When these factories started disappearing, there went much of the consumption of NG.

Are you sure it was for heating? We have the usual area/volume relationship, plus waste heat from nearly all other enclosed energy expenditure. I suspect a lot was used for process heating, (heat a chunk of metal, bash it, then quench it, rinse repeat...). Not trying to capture and reuse the waste heat from this sort of activity makes the product pretty energy intensive.

I actually work in one of the biggest buildings in the state (frigid north to boot) and that is what our management tells us, that the heating costs are the biggest cost.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned anhydrous ammonia yet.

Fertiliser – US prices soar
World Crops Ltd. / June 9, 2011

In the US, the average farm price of fertilisers is already high and rising, and data compiled by the USDA shows higher prices than those during the 2008 spike. A short ton (ST) of anhydrous ammonia, one of the key fertiliser benchmarks, averaged $749 in March compared with $499/ST in March 2010 and $755/ST in April 2008.

Thanks for the link - regulation history NG
The US is still a big producer (and user) of NG-derived N fertilizer, though changes in relative cost structures have meant bigger imports from external producers. Numbers to 2007 are here

I summarized this link in my TOD guest post in 2008, thus:
"N fertilizer production in the USA has been reduced significantly over recent years in the face of imports."
I have not recently processed the numbers,(see first link above) but I guess US N fertilizer production must be a small fraction of total US NG use. The world estimate is that N fertilizer accounts for about 5% of world NG supplies. I checked this estimate pers. com. with International Fertilizer Industry Association 2009/2010. (China on the other hand still uses more coal than NG for N fertilizer production, again for relative cost reasons.)


Hi Westexas, I've read your updates with curiousity and I have a question about net exports and your current guesstimate.

In your comment here, not so long ago, you say that the top5 net exporters will export over half their current post-2005 peak exports by the end of 2004.

A few days back you said that your 'current' guesstimate was that it would all the way to 2020. I didn't catch if this was for the top33 or for the top5, but regardless, have your projections changed or am I comparing apples and organges?


I think that you that you meant 2014 in the following: "In your comment here, not so long ago, you say that the top5 net exporters will export over half their current post-2005 peak exports by the end of 2004."

In the foregoing, I was talking about Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) for the top five. Sam's best case projection is that the (2005) top five will have shipped about half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of 2014. Note that based on the most recent data, the (2005) top five have shown five straight years of year over year (combined) net export declines (BP):

2005: 23.7 mbpd
2006: 23.3
2007: 22.7
2008: 22.5
2009: 21.0
2010: 20.8

Regarding global net exports, I simply extrapolated the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the C/P ratio for the top 33 net oil exporters (in 2005). This extrapolation suggested that we would globally approach zero net oil exports around 2050 (a 45 year post-2005 net export decline period). A good rule of thumb is that half of post-peak CNE are shipped about one-third of the way into a net export decline period. Therefore, a rough guesstimate is that about half of global post-2005 CNE will have been consumed by the end of 2020, ten years hence (one third of 45 years = 15 years; 2005 + 15 years = 2020).

Some net export decline comparisons, showing the 1/3 CNE Rule:


For all – I’ll add little flesh to WT’s excellent postings. When I began in 1975 a surge in offshore GOM NG was beginning for a variety of reasons. NG price increases were very significant rolling in from the 60’s when it made more sense to either flare NG associated with oil production or not complete wells which only discovered NG. But still cheap enough to cause the great majority of new housing built with NG service. A slow progress given the requirement to expand the NG transport system. But once established the NG market lead to much more NG targeted drilling. And the fact that fewer oil plays were available led companies, especially public companies, to develop NG only plays.

A huge techno advance was developing in the 70’s that had a high impact on NG development. Simply seismic data is like downward looking radar that allowed mapping the geologic framework. Certain geologic conditions are required to trap hydrocarbons. But the probability that a particular frame work trapped hydrocarbons was far from certain. But in the 70’s seismic “amplitude anomalies” or “bright spots” were discovered. Under the right circumstances we can “see” the NG on the seismic data. How much did this change the game? In 1985 I was one of a few who began exploiting bright spots onshore. This approach had already become mainstream offshore especially in the GOM. Lack of well data and the ease of offshore seismic data quickly led to this approach being THE exploration tool. How much hydrocarbons a company discovered wasn’t the only factor determining a company’s success….how many dry hole you drilled to find those reserves did. Back to 1985 and me: Goliad County, Texas, was predominantly NG country. Success rate using standard geologic methods was less than 20%. In my program exploiting bright spots I made 23 wells out of 25 wildcats. And made the best rate of return for my company than I had done before or since. I sold NG for only $0.90/mcf from my best discovery but thanks to low drilling costs and a high success rate it cost only $0.12/mcf to develop.

Now back to the offshore GOM. Bright spot exploration has dominated the effort to this day. This is the prime reason we’ve had something of a NG production rate plateau for a while. The offshore fields were typically much larger than onshore discoveries. But field lives were also usually shorter. Again, a tech advance brought a lot of NG to the market: Deep Water production. Several years ago the DW NG hub Independence came online and literally overnight 1 bcf/day came to market. But there’s a hitch: the DW fields have a very short life compared to the onshore. Not much more than 5 years before decline has set in significantly.

And where are we today? I’ll pass on the fractured shale plays…discussed those a good bit already. My new company has targeted NG plays in the Gulf Coast and relies exclusively on bright spot technology. We generate few prospects ourselves and buy most from prospect generating shops. And we are struggling to find enough viable conventional prospects to drill. I have a $150 million budget this year and won’t find enough prospects to spend half of it. And next year I need to find $300 million worth of drilling. Just MHO but exploration for convention reservoirs in the US is on its last leg. A good many wells left to drill but nothing to match the millions of wells we’ve drilled in the last 90 years. When I started in 1975 I was drilling 10,000’ wells for 2,000 acre fields. Now I’m drilling 16,000’ wells for 150 acre fields. BTW: it cost 3X or more to drill a deep well than a shallow one. Needless to say our new discoveries are finding much smaller reserves. Compounding the situation: my new wells come on at much higher rates than the old plays. A nice bump is the national rate but also produces a much shorter field life.

Hopefully my short story helps puts some perspective on the ramp up in NG over the last few decades and the current plateau in perspective. The conditions that led to where we are today are past…gone for good. What’s left, to any significant degree, are the unconventional shale plays and LNG imports. IMHO the past is not the key to the future. We are entering a new dynamic that has greater instability then what we’ve become used to..

Hi Rockman

Thanks for the overview.

Any chance you might comment on the particulars WRT HO's article on this little corner of the world?

I was just wondering what you think.

Aniya - On CA? I did post a few comments on that thread. Was there something in particular you're interested in?

Hi Rockman,

Yes, thanks.

The link connects to a late post I made, w. Qs. If you take a look at the post, I think you'll see.

I'm interested in any comments you might have: 1) that might talk about what kind of processes will be used for the (very) particular spot I mention; (Is this most likely to be "frac-ing" (sp?) - or something more conventional? 2) impacts on the residential neighborhood between something like (I'm guessing) 1/4 and 1/2 mile away (maybe only 1/8 in some places) as per the "concerned neighbor's letter" (I quote); 3) also curious about your take on noise and possible ways to mitigate it. 3) And, it's a bit curious - extracting the NG, only to then turn around and use the site for NG storage? How come? 4) When the "risk of explosion" is mentioned - any comments or explanations you might have about this? Like do explosions happen...in only particular conditions? What makes them more or less likely? just interested in your experience. 5) Also, besides creek and neighborhood on the map, there's a farm parcel just directly across from the proposed drilling site. The site is on a rise - a bit of a bluff, whereas the farm parcel is lower, as is the creek. Much appreciated.

Aniya - Don't know enough about the reservoir to speculate on the best approach. As long as there are no poisonous gas involved there isn't much danger to the neighborhood. But NG can also be very lethal and normally when producing in an urban area you have a full time methane monitoring system in place. And sometimes these are tied into automated shut in systems. Being the cautious type that I am if I lived very close to a NG production system I would have my own methane monitoring system in place at my home. And if the home owner whined to the operator it might be provided for free. Doesn't cost much and makes for more peaceful sleep. But oil field production equipment is just like a pool to kids: an attractive nuisance. Proper security is mandatory. Noise is always going to be an issue when drilling in urban areas. There are abatement techniques. Also there usually are local zoning restriction as to loudness and time of day activity.

There are two main types of NG storage: salt dome caverns and depleted NG reservoirs. I suspect they are looking at a pressure depleted NG reservoir. This is critical: if you inject NG into a water filled reservoir a certain amount of the NG won't ever be recovered...maybe as high as 30%. But if the reservoir already has residual NG in it you can avoid most if not all of this potential loss. Additionally, you may have all the infrastructure already in place from the initial production phase. That alone can make or break the economics of a NG storage project.

ROCKMAN is the oracle. Thank you for your comments that are always right on the money. A year ago ROCKMAN was posting cautions about shale gas being unprofitable at current gas prices. He was also posting warnings about the high depletion rates of fracked wells. ROCKMAN is like the sober Dutch Uncle who gives us calm and clear eyed analysis based on the facts.

Rockman, As you have noted many times, economics controls drilling decisions. Although it has to be difficult to predict future natural gas prices, it seems they may rise substantially. Care to speculated on how a doubling of price might impact US drilling and production versus a more modest rise.

dan - If NG pices double quickly you would only see a little bump in dilling IMHO. Not that the SG companies wouldn't want to put a few thousand more rigs into the field. But between equipment and personnel we'e about tapped out. If prices stayed that high for a while (a year or two) you would see a ramping up on both accounts. But the service companies would move cautiously slow. The downturn of NG prices in '08 is a very vivid memory. Billions were lost by operators and service companies as a result.

No need to reply, but when I attempt to understand a new problem I try and place limits on the range of possible outcomes. After years on this site, I have some insight into the dynamics between oil price and demand destruction in the US. I do not have a similar understanding of the dynamics in the NG business. I think you answered a key issue in that most available equipment is in use. Thanks

As a layperson, I've these questions about NG:

- A gas is less concentrated than a liquid, so, how might it compare to oil, such as in terms of energy-per-volume, transport, and resource drop-off speed, etc.?

- I presume that liquifying NG takes energy? How might that affect things like ROEI?

- what other forms of processing are required for "raw" natural gas and how do they compare?

- Additional related points?

TOP - I'll offer some answers in monetary nits...might be easier to understand. Currently the standard NG unit (the mcf = 1,000 cubic feet) sells for about $4.50 per mcf at the well head. Pipeline it to New England...add $1-2 per mcf. Local distribution cost/mark up: double that number but varies widely. Yes...lots of energy needed to produce LNG. In addition a medium size LNG plant can run around $2 billion. A regasification facility...a couple of hundred $million. Cost to turn 1 mcf into LNG and ship it from the ME to the US: around $4-5 per mcf but also varies a good bit. That doesn't include amortizing the big capex outlay. OTOH much of the NG in the ME has zero value at the well head due to a lack of market. Much of the energy needed is also applied by this same local NG that has no value.

Of course, on a BTU basis LNG is still selling at a big discount to oil. OTOH we currently can only substitute a relatively small amount of NG/LNG for oil.

Thank you, ROCKMAN, that helps clear it up a little.
It might be really fascinating to see a few graphs-- even scientific visualizations/animations-- that compared NG/LNG (etc.) to oil and other forms of energy along different criteria/axes/etc..
For example, I imagine fracking, alone, has some interesting dynamics in comparison with how oil is extracted/pumped.

Hydraulic fracturing is used for shale oil production as well as shale gas production - for instance, in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota, which has turned ND into a major oil-producing state in recent years. Frecturing technology has been around for over 50 years, and the Bakken Formation was discovered 60 years ago, but it's the current high price of oil that makes it economic to produce it.

Companies often use a "barrel of oil equivalent" number - 1 barrel of oil = 6 Mcf of gas to convert natural gas into oil. This is on an energy equivalent basis. Unfortunately, it is misleading because natural gas is selling for much less than oil on an energy equivalent basis. At $4.50/Mcf, a barrel equivalent of natural gas would be $27, whereas oil is selling for $91 in Oklahoma and $106 in London at the moment.

Shale gas is not economic at these prices, but there's so much of it around that companies are producing it anyway.

Interesting, thank you.

Above, I asked Rockman to speculate on the impact of higher NG prices. Would you care to speculate on the likelihood of higher NG prices. I am confused by the high number of NG fracking wells that are still being drilled. Irrational exuberance? To many investment dollars with no where else to go? Or are higher prices expected.

dan - Nothing irrational about it at all. Who ae the big shale gas players? It's the public companies that must increase their reserve base in order to get Wall Street to bid up the value of their stock. It is physically impossible for the majority of these companies to do so by drilling conventional plays: there simply aren't enough of those wells left to drill.

NG prices will rise significantly when consumption increases significantly. And how long for that to happen? You tell me: when will the US economy start booming?

Both your stories above are very handy for this layman's understanding.
Here in UK I understand that we are maximising use of our recent LNG regasification terminal investment by putting LNG in to our NG gas distribution network and even re-exporting some via internconnector to continental neighbors. General point seems to be that it needs energy to store LNG so it is not stored longer than the shipping time, and then must go straight in to distribution?


There are UK LNG storage facilities other than the import terminals. They are positioned around the network and can inject gas at high rates into the system for short periods of time.

See http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Gas/lngstorage/What/ for more info.

Check out this story linked uptop:

"Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush"

Art Berman is quoted directly. And there are lots of unattributed quotes from industry insiders, who apparently prefer to remain anonymous.

Poor prospects for the investors and probable fraud. Nothing that TOD regulars wouldn't have known for a long time. But, at least it gives us something in the regular media to point our associates atso they won't get taken to the cleaners by the hype.

One of these days the MSM may even "discover" that global net oil exports have been flat to declining for five straight years. But regarding today's NYT article, you do have to give the reporter credit for writing an article that challenges the status quo. It will be interesting to see if--and how--CNBC covers this story tomorrow morning.

Yeah, and what gives this bonus points is that it's got leaked documents from the companies committing fraud.

I want to offer another reason for the choice to release some of the SPR. The administration is trying to tell the American people how desperate the situation has become.

Perhaps this is too subtle, but I don't think so. Politicians do not like to get ahead of public opinion and the American people are still firmly in the cheap gas camp. I realize this action seems to appease that belief, but one clear implication is that global supplies of oil are very tight. How can that be given all those Saudi reserves?

I am not implying other motivations cannot also be true, the SPR release is certainly meant to decrease oil price resulting in a de facto stimulus. Additional reasons probably play a role.

HI Daniel,

Interesting. My experience leads me to an opposite conclusion, WRT:

re: "I want to offer another reason for the choice to release some of the SPR. The administration is trying to tell the American people how desperate the situation has become."

My experience: the American people do not make - and are perhaps incapable(given their current information base) of making - the connections between release from SPR and *anything* to do with the real connection, in the real world, that links energy/oil inputs to the economy.

The public will think only this: the oil is there, release it, the price goes down. Good.

In terms of political labels, my observation: The "Right" says "peak oil" is a conspiracy by the Left to scare people - or, to cover-up the quote unquote truth of abiotic oil. The "Left" says that the higher gasoline prices and the high price of oil is a conspiracy of the "Right" to help the oil cos make a large, undeserved profit. And "peak oil" is also a scare tactic of the "Right" (forget just how, but trust me...)

Young, idealistic greenies who have heard the phrase "peak oil" are fixated on (so-called) renewables filling the "growing gap," no questions asked. None.

This is a summary my daily experience.

And I don't even have a TV.

Young, idealistic greenies who have heard the phrase "peak oil" are fixated on (so-called) renewables filling the "growing gap," no questions asked. None. This is a summary my daily experience.

Sounds like you live in California!

AP EXCLUSIVE: Power grid change may disrupt clocks

WASHINGTON – A yearlong experiment with the nation's electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers — and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. runs the nation's interlocking web of transmission lines and power plants. A June 14 company presentation spelled out the potential effects of the change: East Coast clocks may run as much as 20 minutes fast over a year, but West Coast clocks are only likely to be off by 8 minutes. In Texas, it's only an expected speedup of 2 minutes.
Mielcarek said in an email that the change is about making the grid more reliable and that correcting the frequency for time deviations can cause other unnecessary problems for the grid. She wrote that any problems from the test are only possibilities.

In the future, more use of renewable energy from the sun and wind will mean more variations in frequency on the grid, McClelland said. Solar and wind power can drop off the grid with momentary changes in weather. Correcting those deviations is expensive and requires instant backup power to be always at the ready, he said.

Does this mean We can no longer rely on exactly 5,184,000 cycles(kept correct over a period) per day?

Everyone will have to buy new clocks synchronized off GPS satellites.

Yes, that is what it means.

But by now most clocks run off of internal crystals or an external time signal from cable or ISPs. There should be relatively few that are synchronous motors operating and depending on the 60 cycle power grid.

My experience has been most clocks do NOT run off their internal crystals if they have a 60Hz available to use. Even one with backup batteries. The grid is much more accurate than any cheap crystal in a clock.

Try running off generator for a few hours, and you will find out which clocks tried to use that as their reference.

"The grid is much more accurate than any cheap crystal in a clock."

I don't get it? You can buy a $10 (USD) wristwatch at any number of discount retailers that (using a "cheap" quartz crystal) will keep time within 1 or 2 seconds a day of accuracy. And for pure time-keeping accuracy, any non-defective quartz watch will generally keep much better time than a Rolex, or any other mechanical movement-based (aka "automatic") watch (or clock).

Obviously, a wristwatch has no connection to the grid. Or, by the term "clock", are you actually referring to some type of specialized technical equipment?

The grid is much more accurate than any cheap crystal in a clock.

The grid is more accurate over the long term as the operators take steps to compensate for errors. If the grid runs slightly fast today, it will intentionally be run slightly slow tomorrow in order to compensate. As a result, clocks that take their count from the grid are protected against long-term clock drift.

Crystals are more accurate over the short term, but because they always vibrate slightly fast or slightly slow, they are subject to long-term cumulative drift errors. If you want to measure a 60-second interval, a standard clock crystal -- typical accuracy is about six parts per million -- is better. If you want your clock to show the right time next year (assuming your power is uninterrupted over that period), the grid is better because of the compensation that is applied. Six parts per million is about three minutes per year.

For computers, many operating systems today will automatically estimate their daily drift versus one of the national timing sources, if available, and drop high-frequency "ticks" in order to compensate. You can also buy complete clock circuits that intentionally use a crystal that runs slightly fast, then is compared to a very accurate source at the factory and the circuitry set to drop every n-th tick. Such circuits are still subject to drift, but the drift can be made very small.

Thanks mcain for answering josserand's question. That is what I meant when I said "kept correct over a period".

From what I gather, starting July the operators will no longer try very hard to compensate for errors.

""depending on the 60 cycle power grid.""

That's a good one.....I would suggest folks get a FLUKE Meter and do a little testing on their own about the juice that comes in the door. (Or for you Old Schooler's like me, a Simpson.) You'll find it's waaaaayyyy off, on cycles, and volts, most of the time. And it's only going to get worse!

All my electronic stuff is 12v converted to true Sine Wave. !2v from the panels to the Battery Banks then to the load. Only use 120v AC when absolutely needed.

Local generation, local distribution, local consumption. Way of the Future.

The Martian.

I heard new Flukes are made in China now. BTW my Kill-A-Watt has a 30% error compared to the Flukes. Not sure if it has always been that bad, or went bad recently.

Think about all the electric motors in residential service and more importantly industrial service whose speed is dependent on the electric line frequency.
Lots of those motors need to turn at an exact speed or the whole mechanism or parts thereof can get out of whack causing major problems.
I wonder if they have really thought this idea through completely?
Increases and decreases in speed in a paper making machine which has a lot of built in inertia would cause the long line of paper in the machine to start to bunch up or break causing a very expensive cleanup and restart of the machine. Just one area where the frequency changes could cause a disaster?

Jon, 20 minutes a year is %00.0038051 error. I doubt any motor other than one in a clock will notice.

Furthermore, control systems use sensors and resolvers to close the loop. There are also self-calibrating routines built into almost any electromechanical device of any sophistication. The idea is that any line frequency drift or change is treated just like noise and it is effectively compensated by the control system.

Many industrial motors are already on variable frequency drives. They won't care. Conveyors and such won't slow down enough to notice, and most of them are on VFD's too, come to think of it.

VFD's were sold partly as energy savings devices (vary the pump/blower speed with load instead of a fixed speed pump with a throttle valve.)

Most of the big stuff, I mean the REALLY BIG STUFF, like the motors on a steel mill Hot Strip, or the Cold Mill, run on DC. The Motor Rooms to do the conversions are almost as large as the Mill Building sometimes. Been running on DC for many, many years now. Most large equipment is DC. Here's more than you want to know....


Freq is means nothing to the Big Guys. And Voltage, as long as it's in the Ballpark, same.

The Martian.

The problem of optimizing paper of fabric processing machinery is an interesting one. Try to run too fast, and the streams of moving paper may become unstable and cause quite a mess. Go any slower, and you are wasting money. But I doubt they are that sensitive to the small speed variation in line frequency. Variation in say the stiffness of the feedstock has to be much higher.

I expect that for any process equipment that requires precise speed control, it will have its own power conditioning equipment to do that. Relying on the grid frequency is fine if you ca handle +- 1%, and if you can't then you dow your own control.

This sounds like an excuse to get someone else to pay for something that really isn't needed - how many places, really, are having serious problems because of frequency fluctuations?

Hi Paul,

First I want to say how much I appreciate the information contained in your posts (and those of the Paul on the Nova Scotia shore).

I have a question in relation to time of day billing, which I hoped you or perhaps others might answer. Is there a price differential that would justify a bank of batteries in the house, which would be charged at night and drawn down during the day for purposes that could not be shifted to the cheaper period? Is there any merit to this idea at all given the price of batteries and perhaps losses in the charging/decharging process?

I have also wondered about the feasibility of shutting of the electric water tank during the high cost period. Is there any advantage to maintaining the tank's water temperature constant around the clock from an efficiency perspective?

I don't see any way that batteries, and all the related issues could be cost effective.

As far as shutting down the water heater during peak, yes defiantly.

I don't see any way that batteries, and all the related issues could be cost effective.

Generally batteries cost several cents per KWhour stored/used, i.e. they can only take so many charge discharge cycles then have to be replaced. So you need the price difference between charging and discharging to exceed that value. I think typical cost is around $.10 per KWhr. Your time of use rates would have to swing by at least that much to make it pay.

In my off grid solar system, the golf cart batteries I use have a typical lifespan of 8 years. The last time I replaced them, the cost was $1700 for 24 batteries. This is about $0.52 per day or $0.18 per kilo watt hour.

The charge/discharge cycle efficiency, taking into account the requirements for float voltages and periodic equalization, is about 55%.

Interestingly, in North Carolina the net metering law appears to have explicit language forbidding gaming of the system via time shifting and time-of-use rates.

Interestingly, in North Carolina the net metering law appears to have explicit language forbidding gaming of the system via time shifting and time-of-use rates.

I suppose this has to do with safety concerns. Just like with grid connected solar, the grid operator needs to be assured that unknown generators won't charge power lines while they are working on them, i.e. that the intertie will shutdown when it is supposed to. They probably also want to have a good idea of how much distributed generation of the various sorts they have as well. Being that batteries aren't up to the task of making t payoff, I don't think much is lost.


I guess we technogeeks are suckers for answering techo questions! But it's mazing how much you can learn in the process of answering such questions. The trick is to then apply that knowledge somehow...

With ToU billing, it is a case of there will be some differential where it is worth doing something. The first, and easiest things to do are load shifting, and hot water and space heating are prime examples. The programable thermostat for heating was designed to adjust heating to usage patterns (e.g night setbacks), but can also be used to adjust for ToU, by, for example, ramping up the heat in the hour before ToU kicks in. I

With hot water, it depends on your usage and storage. The simplest thing is out a time clock on and have it only come on on off peak periods. This works fine if you restrict your major HW use (showers, clothes washing) to off peak periods. I set my combo washer-dryer (it has a time delay start) so that it comes on at 5am, and finishes the dry cycle at 7am - I take out clean, dry (and warm) clothes and put them on! But if you change your usage to the off peak periods, you really don;t need the clock. Also, unless you are using a LOT of hot water, the $ savings per day are pretty minimal. That is why I favour the reduce part first - all high efficiency appliances, and showerheads like this one make a huge difference. after that, you have reduced your HW use such that expensive control systems are often not worth it.

An interesting new elec HW is this three element heater as promoted by Hydro-Quebec - it distrbutes the load evenly over 24 hrs, avoiding the normal spikes in the peak periods.

Another interesting idea, from Ghung, is to replace one of the elements in the HW with a 12 or 24V one, and use one or two PV panels, wired directly to it. No controls, no plumbing changes etc. PV panel doesn't even need to be on the roof - cheapest way to use PV I have yet seen.

As for the batteries and storing electricity, well...

Flooded, deep cycle batteries can be had for $100 for $100Ah of storage (e.g. Nautilus marine deep cycle at Canadian Tire), and, as a rough guide, you will get 1000 cycles to 50% depth of discharge, so that is $0.10 per cycle. you get 50Ah *12volts, for 600Wh, so the effective price is $0.15/kWh.

You also have the costs of the charger and inverter (if you are using one) - if you can use the 12v output directly, then you avoid the 5% inverter loss, and the cost of the inverter. (Doing a grid tied inverter for this project will cost a minimum of $1000).

The battery system will have a roundtrip efficiency of about 70%, so if you store 1, you'll get back 0.7, or we need to buy 1.43 to get back 1.

So now lets do the sums. We have a storage cost of 15c per kWh delivered, and we need to buy 1/0.7=1.43 kWh per kWh delivered. If the off peak rate is 10c, we spend 14.3c buying, spend another 15c on storage, so we need a peak rate of 29.3c to break even!

if the off peak rate was 5c, you still need an on peak rate of 22c to break even - the battery storage cost is the killer - this is why it is not done except for off grid situations.

Even if you get the batteries and the entire system for free, you still have to get 1.5x the off peak cost to break even, and at least 2x for a profit. Say the off peak is 5c, and on peak is 20c, it will cost roughly 8c per peak kWh delivered by your system, for a profit of 12c, and if you have 10kWh of storage, you will make $1.20 per day, or $375/yr for six peak days per week. Your battery system for this would be about 24, 100lb lead acid batteries, and after 3-4 yrs you will need to change them all! Lot of work for $1.20/day!

So, leave the cyclic storage for things like pumped hydro, reduce and shift what loads you can, and then you can worry about something else - or not.


Paul, Thanks for all the number crunching.

So, leave the cyclic storage for things like pumped hydro

If someone wants a battery backup system for other reasons, how does the economics work out? Assume the inverter/battery combo has already been paid for. Even with minimal usage the batteries won't last forever, so the marginal cost of occasional storage/discharge is probably a lot smaller. Perhaps then it might pay? But then the user has to recognize the high cost he is paying for battery backup peace-of-mind.

I think you have just described the basic UPS.

Thank-you. Excellent information as always. And thanks to the other posters as well.

The one small anecdote that I can add is that since we installed a front loading washer, we never use anything but cold water and always have cleaner clothes than before. We also threw out the dryer (recycled) and hang the washing inside during winter, benefitting from the humidity, and outside the rest of the year.

You may also have noticed that with your front loader you are using about 1/4 of the laundry detergent you used to.

When I was in Calgary I did the indoor clothes drying in winter - works very well in 10% humidity air! here on the BC coast I have to run a dehumidifier in winter so can't pull that trick.

So much wildlife around here that any clothes that get hung outside, attract the attention of the birds in short time and get pooped on!

Just to finish on the cyclic storage - you can see that there are four factors involved in any such system, at any scale;
1) the price differential between peak and off peak
2) the round trip efficiency of the storage
3) the capital cost of the system
4) the unit cost of storage, per kWh.

Batteries score badly on 2-4. Pumped hydro is good on 2, badly on 3, and effectively zero on 4.

It is my contention that any useful, scalabale system must have a unit cost at or very close to zero, unless the peak/off peak difference is astronomical.
Pumped hydro has this, as does compressed air, but the round trip efficiency of compressed air is not very good, and capital costs are high.

I think what will enable cyclic storage is astronimcal electricity costs!

Get one of those "atomic" clocks, syncs every day with the Naval Observatory at Ft. Collins via radio signal (heck, my watch does that), or get a clock that doesn't count cycles. My bedside clock has a battery and crystal for timekeeping; battery lasts for years. I got it when we used older 'quasi sinewave' inverters. Cheap clocks would gain about 6 hours a day on those old inverters. Any clock with a battery backup likely has a crystal.

Yep..one could buy a watch...I think mine (with the capability to synch every day with the Ft Collins signal) costs ~ $35 ducks.

The again, maybe someday we won't care so much...


Neither of my 20-something children even own a watch. When they want to know what time it is, they pull out their cell phone.

When they want to know what time it is, they pull out their cell phone.

I see the cell phone is also used as a flashlight. The all purpose portable gadget!

Hee hee, reminds me of the bad old days when I had a cesium beam (atomic clock) under my desk for months, a $16,000 foot rest. It was eventually installed in a station and served to keep the network synchronized.

There was disruption when automobiles switched from Ethyl (leaded) fuel to unleaded, too.

We got over it. Nothing in life is free, and changes for the better are usually worth the pain. ;D

My goodness, how will we ever adapt to such a massive disruption as a 20min error over a year? Coming next: Grid power that isn't there sometimes. Followed eventually by power that isn't there at all.

I assume this is related to the synchrophasor ideas, where they will be looking at phase differences over large areas of the power grid. As one area moves relative to others you can see quite a bit about what is happening. I'm guessing that it probably messes up the measurements if regions are screwing with the frequency & phase just to keep the clocks right.

This may be the underlying reason.

SUMMARY: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is proposing to revise its regulations to remedy undue discrimination in the procurement of frequency regulation service in the organized wholesale electricity markets. The emergence of technologies capable of responding more quickly than the generators that have historically provided frequency regulation service has prompted the Commission to evaluate market rules to ensure that they are not unduly discriminatory or fail to provide just and reasonable compensation for the service being provided.(February 17,2011)


Taking advantage of the capabilities of faster-ramping resources can improve the operational and economic efficiency of the transmission system and has the potential to lower costs to consumers in the organized wholesale energy markets.

Re: 'safety myth'

Lady Gaga encourages fans to visit Japan
CBS / June 23, 2011

(CBS/AP) TOKYO - Lady Gaga says that if people want to help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in March, just come visit.


Fukushima Nuclear Fuel Leaking Into Groundwater, Tepco Says Barrier Too Expensive, Will Hurt Stock Price
Compiled From a Provided Press Release; Edited by HNN / June 24, 2011

Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University says melted fuel from inside the Fukushima nuclear reactor has melted through the containment vessel and is lying on the concrete foundations, sinking into the ground below. Japanese government officials have echoed this statement and have called on TEPCO to build an underground concrete barrier beneath the reactor which would be the only way to stop the molten fuel that is now leaking into the groundwater.

TEPCO so far is refusing to do so because the cost of the project will be over 100 billion yen. ...

The cognitive gap between those two articles is impressive.

I'm confused. Does Lady Gaga want Tepco to make this groundwater containment structure OUT OF Tourists? What am I missing?

It's a safe place that just happens to need a barrier to keep radiation from leaking into the groundwater. Some safe places are like that.


Almost the opposite side of the planet to Fukushima is the Falkland Islands - so if they cannot get a lump of concrete under the melting rods (who'd have thought?) - then we can have the Falklands Syndrome - which has a nice ring to it - let alone a certain ring cycle to it - harking back to Maggie Thatcher and the Gipper in the 80s.

its not going to melt any farther then Chernobyl did. once it gets out of the pressure vessel and basement it gets diluted by the melted sand/concrete.

For that matter, the amount of decay heat keeps slowly decreasing as the days go by. My hypothesis is that the only real option they have is to keep it submerged until the decay heat is reduced to the point where melting is no longer a concern. Then they can pump out the water and attempt cleanup of some of the outer areas.

Cleanup of the reactors proper can't take place for a number of years however.

The Fukushima story that really got to me was the one about the anti-nuclear activist leading a group of pensioners to help clean up the site.


I think it should be required that all those involved in perpetrating the "safety myth" including pro-nuke posters here, be forced to work in this endless disaster.

We need all the clear-headed anti-nuke voices we can, and fewer of the 'don't worry be happy' voices of the blindly pro-nuke crowd.

Let those most responsible for the problem take most of the responsibility for the risks of clean up.

(NB: My first draft of this post included quite a few expletives that I deleted in this draft so as not to offend sensitive eyes.)

Your rule would be interesting to apply more fully

All meat eaters to have to kill something once a year to be allowed to continue eating meat
All drivers to go to an offshore platform once in a while...in winter
Battery farm produce eaters to go visit the sheds
Young people to wipe up in a home for the elderly
Chinese produce users to go work there for a while

Allowing that we have nuclear because it was needed to produce weapons to maintain empire, in the light of recent events mankind may review the decision to press on with civil power. But I think as god was responsible for this mess (large wave), you may have trouble getting her to clean up

Look, if my mum could with her lot, she can. :)

She caused the wave to punish mankind for nuclear power? I don't think he would do such a thing.

I see no real problem (besides practical ones about getting to China and learning skills of an oil hand) for any of those.

But really, I was talking not so much about users as about the most ardent proponents and propagandists of the pro-nuke 'safety myth.' Those are the people who should put their bodies and their chromasomes where their mouth is, not the people who rightly and loudly pointed out the inevitable and incredible dangers these plants pose once they fail.

And they or their storage systems will all eventually and inevitably fail.

Sometimes, denial can be a helpful thing....sometimes not so much!


Its expensive and a STUPID idea to encase this reactor in concrete. The last thing anybody wants is a reactor leaking radiative stuff into the ocean forever.

Remember this. all concrete cracks.

The cognitive gap between those two articles is impressive.

Japan is a big country. As long as tourists stay out of the tsunami-devastated section of the coast (~1%?), why would you expect a problem?

Perhaps if KSA adopts solar (PV, CSP, etc) extensively, and their oil production stays flat or declines somewhat, then the the majority of the know-it-all folks I work with will 'get' the reality that oil is a finite resource.

I just had to endure a monologue by a new govie at work who insists that if only the enviro-tree-hugger-nazis and liberals would let us drill everywhere we need to in the U.S., we would have all the oil we need...the imagined restrictions to him represent a plot to destroy our economy by those 'who hate America' and want to impose a 'socialist regime'.

On second thought, folks such as him will regard the flat or (at some point) declining KSA oil production to be an OPEC plot to milk the righteous U.S. of as much cash as possible...(possibly in cahoots with George Soros and Van Jones.)

I do periodically challenge such folks at work (in a non-confrontational way...Ido not have great job security as a 'hired gun')...what usually gets their goat is my simple question: Why did not GWB and Dick Cheney and republicans in Congress during the Bush years go whole-hog and drill baby drill? And why didn't their tax cuts cause a boom economy? And why did they greatly increase the debt under their watch?

I use the same technique on the same folks who cry and whine that the Obama administration doesn't support a certain class of weaponry that is near and dear to their hearts...I instantly point out that neither did the Bush administration and the Congressional Republicans support their lovely toys during the 'salad days' from 2001-2008.

The reply of some of these folks is to go mute 'cause they can't handle the truth...the others do deeper...they claim that both the D's/libs and the R's/country club repubs are in on a higher-level conspiracy to break America.

I provisionally estimate that ~ 25% of U.S. Americans have a mental deficiency whereby they cannot accept facts. The number may indeed be higher!

I think (at least) 25% of Americans will refuse to accept your theory.

While completely agreeing that rational thought seems increasingly rare, the issue of core beleifs is nearly universal and all of us have blind spots. I believe core beliefs, such as Cheney's non-negotiable American way of life, cannot be changed by argument alone. Individuals must pay a personal price.

To give another example mentioned the other day, consider the resistance of some environmentalists to solar power in California. Many of these individuals have probably argued that global warming is destroying the Earth. But if addressing the issue with solar power in the Mohave dessert means ruining a view, forget it. Clearly, these people do not believe global warming will be lethal or are capable of egregious doublethink. In my view, they hand opponents a powerful weapon as all environmentalists can then be derided as dishonest or crazy.

I suspect the real number is much higher than 25% if attached to most any specific issue. Such a conundrum. Can Democracy survive retail politics?

Large scale solar (PV) changes the albedo of the earth. you're just cooking us in a different, more direct way.


Cooking us? As compared to asphalt pavement or roofing shingles? What about covering the roadways, parking lots and dark roofing with PV? In any event, the effects would be rather local, compared with the oceans, which absorb a large fraction of the incident radiation and cover some 72% of the Earth's surface.

E. Swanson

Being that greenhouse gases have changed the planets energy balance by roughly 1%, and our consumption of energy is about a hundred times smaller than that, we could easily supply 100% of our current usage with PV without a problem. Please note that the average albedo of the planets surface is pretty low, maybe 5% for a pine forest, up to about 30% for desert, so the net change is actually pretty small -perhaps comparable to the amount of useful power provided.

Of course if we continue to exponentially increase power, then we would eventually run into a problem, but no-one who takes a realistic view thinks that will happen. We could also offset any increased absorption by painting roadways, rooftops, fences etc. white. Per square meter thats a lot cheaper than panels. My roughly 20 square meters is offset by light colored landscape rocks.....

There was a link here on TOD on how Alt.energy can't do the trick. i'll dig it up and post it when I find it. the PDF talked about how the change in albedo and the disturbance in airflows would make in impossible from a energy balance point of view to have BAU with renewables and not and a negative impact on society to the point where society as we know it could exist....
I would be awesome if TOD had a database/linkfarm with all papers referenced....


If the government shuts down and they lose their paychecks, I wonder if they will blame the socialists. They are probably also against taxes being raised to pay their salaries or pay for their favorite weapons system. Oh well.

Paul - you almost made me spit out my drink when I returned to the site!

tstreet, I say let the jack@$$es default on the debt...I am tired of hearing about Kalle Anthony (sp?)...and maybe we need a good wake-up call.

Maybe then we can implement the three-legged stool plan: Cut some social spending, cut a lot of MIC spending, and repeal the GWB tax cuts, and re-instate the 2% Social Security tax holiday, and close a bunch of 'spending thru the tax code' give-aways.

In other words, the Janus D's and R's can start acting like adults and implement logical shared sacrifices, or maybe the whole edifice should fall.

Anyhoo, for all the doomers amongst us (ans the little doomer inside us all), and as a shout-out to 'John Galt' below:


...We've taken all the Earth can give, and and we ain't put back nothing.

Comments by jdgalt

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John Galt seems to have disappeared. Love that song.

Maybe he re-activated the invisibility cloak at Galt's Gulch.

Lots of good music from the 60s...

H, hope your keyboard survived that!

You seem to be having a depressing day. It sounds like you live in a nice place, and have a good job, but are surrounded by some very narrow minded people. You need to take a holiday to Canada, or Australia, to be reminded what its like to be in a country where people don't obsess 24/7 about what their government does and doesn't do - they just get on with things regardless.

The response about why all the drilling, and magical oil production didn't happen under GWB is a good one. In fact, oil production only started increasing since Obama has been in! (though that is from projects started several years earlier).

It sounds like the final answer from you colleagues will be that neither the D's or R's are fit to govern, and that, for the sake of the country (or the MIC, which to them is the country, the military must do it - a scenario with a non-zero probability, IMO.

If you are ever looking for a good read that explores this idea, look for a book (fiction) by Matthew Reilly called "Area 7". But be warned the way this guy writes, it is addictive reading - truly the most "can;t put them down" books I have ever read.

The problem is not the obsession with the government, it is the complete disconnect with reality. Most Americans have been "programmed" by television in general to be incapable of deep thought and thus have no ability to form a coherent worldview. This leads to the spectacle of seniors stating seriously "Keep government out of my [government single-payer healthcare system]."

Combine the incoherence with massive ignorance and misinformation spread by all mainstream media but especially Fox News, and the depressing thing is the level of discourse, not the topic. It's actually interesting to engage a knowledgeable conservative with a coherent perspective, at which point it's about finding out where your fundamental axioms disagree.

The problem is not the obsession with the government

A lot of the obsession with government as the big bad boy has been deliberately cultivated for decades. Lots of urban myths are created and reinforced. Such as most spending goes to welfare moms, and foreign aid. The interesting thing about the later, is that surveys that ask, how much do you think we spend of foreign aid, and how much do you think we should spend? Show the average voter thinks we spends many many times (like maybe 20-100 times) what we actually do, and when asked to provide a ballpark figure for what we ought to do, they come in several times higher than we do. But, myhts that promote tax cuts for the rich, are too valuable, so they are endlessly reinforced by the owners of media etc. So now we wonder, how soon before we eliminate stuff like publicly funded education.

Indeed - we here in sunny Australia (and of course our frozen maple-syrup Commonwealth cousins up there in Canuckastan) never give a toss about what our federal and state governments are doing. For us - it is all free beer and nude mud-wrestling. What a great life we lead not worrying about a thing, compared to our poor wracked Seppo friends!

Free beer and nude mud wrestling!


You guys and gals down under and up North better keep that a secret!


The guys and gals up North don't do a lot of nude mud wrestling. The nude saunas are more practical given the temperatures. You just have to protect your beer from overheating.

Flogging each other with birch branches is optional in Canada, more of a Scandinavian thing.

Ouch...I lived for 9 years in Minot ND and haven't heard of that tradition.

BTW, we need to form an enterprise to build several massive pipelines from the under-water upper-Mid-West to the parched South West! 11,000 people are evacuated so far in the city of Minot and it hasn't rained in Albuquerque since January (excepting one day a few weeks ago when I got ~ 100 drops of rain on my windshield all day). We can power the pumps with all the massive wind resources between here and there...there, finally a way to use 'stranded' wind power.

Oil pipelines from the tar sands up North to Cushing and the Gulf Coast refiners are cool and all, but moving water is where it is at!

How to pay for it? Raise water rates in the SW ten-fold...and to-boot, the folks in the underwater Upper Mid-West may want to pay to get rid of their excess water!

Your comment about moving water is very appropriate. Yes it takes energy, but will pay for itself in food production.

Same for California -- although we are in the midst of a bumper year for water. In CA most years they need to pump decalinated water from the north and south coasts to the river system in the central vally.

As they say, perhaps this works for sufficiently large values of "several" and "massive".

The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline has a theoretical maximum flow rate of 2.14 million barrels per day, which is 139 cubic feet per second. It cost about $8B when it was done, although construction in the lower 48 would be cheaper because things would be simpler. The Central Arizona Project, the largest aqueduct system ever built in the US, has a maximum capacity of about 3,000 CFPS and cost about $4B; an aqueduct is clearly the way to go. You could put a cover on it relatively cheaply to reduce evaporation losses.

The Gavins Point Dam is currently releasing water at the rate of 160,000 cubic feet per second. Some of that needs to stay in the river, but the record release rate before this year was less than 75,000 CFPS (and they still got massive floods in 1993). Call it a factor of at least 25. So enormously larger capacity than CAP and much longer in length. I'd guess a half-trillion dollars minimum. Which leaves out private funding and makes it a government project.

The elevation difference between Yankton, SD (site of the Gavins Point dam) and Amarillo, TX (in the heart of the Texas/Oklahoma worse-than-the-Dustbowl drought) is 1,600 feet the wrong way, but at least they're both on the same side of the Continental Divide. To get to Arizona, you have to lift the water over the Divide, or drill the mother of all tunnels under the Divide. You could start farther upstream on the Missouri, swapping lifting distance for increased horizontal distance; an interesting optimization problem there.

Note also that if water prices are increased by ten times, agricultural users are priced out. With a water bill like that, they are simply not competitive with farmers elsewhere that have natural water supplies. Minus ag demand, the SW has sufficient water, even during this drought.

Nice info, thank you for your contribution!

A covered aqueduct...good idea.

Albuquerque sits on a rift valley with ~ 10-12K feet of sand and loose rock under it until one reached the more-or-less solid granite (the same granite one sees glowing a soft pink in the late afternoon sun up near the crest of the Sandia Mountains..Sandia=watermelon in Spanish, from the pinkish cast)

This sandy structure beneath ABQ had much water in it. It was once foolishly considered to be 'endless'. Now there is much less water there!

We could take the aqueduct water and pump it under the valley, keeping it safe from evaporation and available for future use.

As far as locally-produced (in the SW) food prices...raise the price of food! Sooner or later we get 'back to basics' where we pay from our meager wages mostly for the necessities. Send some extension agents to Israel to learn the state of the art in drip irrigation.

As far as drilling water tunnels through the Continental Divide:




H, the plans for the water system you want are already drawn up!

It is just as well the US gov wastes its money on the MIC, otherwise some resources might be available to try to implement this grandiose scheme!


Of course, this plan assumes Canada will go along with it...

I hadn't realized how bad the current drought was. Chris Burt of weatherunderground has a summary
Southwest drought and heat
It has Ruidoso (where my sister resides) as having had .11 inches this year -out of a normal of over 7. Ruidose means "noisy river", I bet it is pretty quiet now. And I think Chris will have to update his highlights, I looked at the weathermap. 110 in Carlsbad (New Mexico). IIRC the state record was 112. 111 at several stations in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. It makes sense, the west coast is enjoying yet another strong trough (I get to rest my AC for a week), and possibly another round og unheard of June rain. And you guys are just far enough downstream that a westcoast trough means a big nasty high out your way.

I've been hoping the souther plains would have a Russian style heatwave this summer, since thats what it will take (at least) for us to take AGW seriously. Maybe mother nature is listening to me?

nice place: ...check

good job: ...pays well...but...the things I do for $$

narrow-minded people: At first seemingly nice enough folks on average, except for the denial of reality of the oath of fealty to Fox Noose and Rush et al.

Besides the fact that if I challenged anyone's views too much I would be out on the street...the other fundamental issue is that it seems nearly impossible to have a reasoned debate with folks who have mad up their minds on everything.

They have all the answers: zero government (oh, except for the military and police forces), zero taxes (except for what is needed for the military and police)...no EPA/OSHA, etc. (see zero government, except for military...can't ever have too much of that or be involved in too many places)...drill everywhere...everyone packs as much heat of any kind in any circumstance...no public schools (all home -schooled or schooled in private religious institutions)...I could go on, but why bother.

Same folks regularly say that oil, coal, iron ore, etc. are limitless; 'Atlas-Shrugged'-style unfettered markets and people will technologically innovate anything we need...dilution is the solution to pollution, and some pollution is good for you...otherwise dump it on the poor people who obviously are poor due to their moral failings...strive to have many more children than those awful people who do not share their true religion, and those foreigners, and those people whose skin color is different from them (even if these groups share their religion). Do what we want because the believers are to be uplifted to Heaven and the Armageddon/Second Coming will erase all and start over anyway. Limits to growth = a hippie, socialist plot to destroy America.

To varying extents, this type of thinking seems to permeate at least 70& of the folks in the MIC/military/Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, defense contractors, etc.

Of course, not everyone subscribes slavishly to all the talking points I enumerated above...but enough people subscribe to enough of them, with sufficient absolute belief, to be quite alarming to me.

The folks with the money are the ones who vote the most; also see: voter suppression.

Interesting times indeed; at least there is still some forests around here to hike in...

Jeez, sorry H.....I think I've seen that movie though...


For all of the faults of the British, they were generally an empirical people. That's why they dominated early on in the scientific and industrial revolutions. It's also why they were relatively magnanimous in abandoning empire, because, well, the facts were the facts.

America is a little bit more complicated. I get the feeling we were actually a much more reason based society in the past, despite our religious streak. Just read the original Constitution - a document which I believe is quite outdated - and the utter starkness of the reason stands out, in contrast to the sheer nonsense coming from the federal government these days.

There's always been elements of fantasy, magical thinking in the American character, and it's my belief that they are starting to crowd out reason. It's why we went into Afghanistan and Iraq without giving much thought or planning. It's why we deny AGW. It's why we deny evolution. It's why we're obsessed with Hollywood. It's why we believe that we can become prosperous by creating digital money and purchasing our own government bonds with said money. It's why we believe immigration from around the world can continue forever, with 350, 400 million, a billion Americans, without any consequences. It's why we believe we can simultaneously have a huge military, a huge welfare complex, and very low taxes.

Is there still reason in this country? Sure. But it doesn't have a voice.

Oilman Sachs, when the US Constitution was written, Continental Rationalism was all the rage, you know, Rousseau, Spinoza, Hume, those guys. Very influential. That's back when people here still read cutting edge philosophy and political theory, especially the good stuff, coming from Europe, and didn't learn to think and feel and dream from Fox news and other corporate garbage bins.

So hard as it might be to visualize today, and it is hard, imagine someone in US Politics reading some very very advanced critical theory, then going all out to implement that idea to the best of their ability, using also some ideas gained from empirical sources like the Iroquois nations view of democratic societies. And so on.

Compare that to listening to Rush Limbaugh and those buffoons, catering to voters whose idea of freedom revolves around cheap shopping at shopping malls buying things that tv inserted into their brains as desires, it's actually sad and depressing, and offers little to really look forward to. At least from that part of our society. Other parts, a lot better, thank God.

Excellent post, h2.

Continental Rationalism may have been all the rage, but not in the colonies where English empiricism dominated - Locke not Rousseau.

Can Democracy survive retail politics?

No. Popular democracy will pursue hedonistic satisfaction in the present versus planning for the future.

If Pharoh had put it to a popular vote, Joseph would not have been permitted to store up grain during the fat years.

Keynes was right: the government should smooth out business cycles by running a deficit during slumps and running a surplus during booms. However, it is impossible to implement Keynesian economics in a democracy because no democracy will run a surplus except by accidentally underestimating revenues.

Well, that's when cutting edge philosophy was the US government and it's designs. Now it's outdated and stuck in 300 year old thought. Today's cutting edge philosophy goes against the status quo. I don't think they would read things that would invalidate their existence. It's like a monarch arguing against feudalism. The name of the game it to keep things the same. I don't think it will work out too well.

"Lady Gaga for prez!"

...Culture, at least currently, seems like the end-manifestation of the average intelligence of the species, despite some skews here and there, depending on certain areas of that culture.

In any case, average intelligence for our species doesn't seem like all that much, which may explain a lot.

And I wonder if average intelligence is going to think to, or willingly, hand over the wheel, before collision, of the cultural car hurtling full speed at the concrete roadblock.

BTW, does 'wizard' stem from the word 'wisdom', and if so, did it ever involve something more than just something that helped one install a software program, like a tribal elder perhaps? And how might our culture today value our elders by comparison; value wisdom?

The Wisdom of The Tribe; The Nation State As Bully

"...So, what can be done about 'the problem of the bully'?
...Since this problem arose with civilization, we can begin by looking for clues from pre-civilization, from the internal life of hunting and gathering groups. Anthropological accounts indicate that these groups did have occasional bullies and even violent murderers, but their cultural system was stable against these disruptions.

There are a number of steps that need to be taken to successfully reapply the wisdom of the tribe:

1 ) Individuals must re-establish a sense of deep connection and bondedness to the whole (in this case the planet). This is a process that is both practical and mythic, left brain and right brain - and it is fortunately already occurring. It is especially important that people build direct human connections around the globe. Since the nation-states are today's bullies, we can not rebuild the peace of the tribe unless we build a global community that stands independent of these nations, as William Ellis argues so well in the Summer 1983 issue of In Context. It is also essential that these connections be 'real,' based on meaningful ties of economics and common personal interest, and not just a technique for peace.

2) Our societies need to decentralize to remove crucial pressure points. We need to replace brittle systems of hierarchical power with resilient systems of 'network semi-dependence.' "
~ Robert Gilman

Of course many hereon think and speak of 'reality' within a nation-state context as though it has been and always will be, and even as if they are on different planets.

To have, say, the US compete with China over some resource, seems to be akin to the left arm somehow competing with the right, or the lung competing with the liver. In a sense it doesn't make much sense, and seems like forms of self-mutilation.

Not only is this the attitude of the bully, who is willing to exploit others for his/her personal benefit, but the group also must be vulnerable to 'divide and conquer.' The close knit character of hunting and gathering groups meant that few bullies were likely to appear in the first place, and when they did, the rest of the group would react in solidarity.
~ Robert Gilman

If you're interested in a book that treats your exact premise in a fairly thorough fashion, read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It starts by saying that the prevalence of television has completely transformed our information environment in a very negative way, and the fact that most information dissemination nowadays is via television is fundamentally responsible for the poor state of affairs.

Basically, Fox News is a symptom of a fundamental disease, and our social disease is precisely tied to how we communicate. The medium constrains the message.

If we shifted back towards primary information consumption coming via the internet, we might have some ability to revert back towards a more literate society. That's the one thing that struck me while reading his book - written in 1985, it is still entirely relevant, but he could not have envisioned the impact of the internet. Unfortunately, many more people watch television as opposed to use the internet for information, but the impact of the internet on public discourse is there, although not all positive - Twitter comes to mind...

American society has not become that much more illiterate. Sure some of the gains we made at the turn of the century up until 30-40 years ago have started to recede. But pre-1900 illiteracy was like 20%(compared to like 1% today), I think with blacks it was somewhere around 80% at the turn of the century. It seems the aggregate health has been receding as well since around 1950. But we are still more literate than ever historically. Minus some recent losses. But that is complex issue and more to do with an inherent cultural stupidity and systemic distractions needed.

Of course, television is the Soma of modern society, with so many literate people, they need to be kept distracted otherwise they would revolt.

Thats true about literacy, by which I mean the ability to read at an elementary level. In terms of the sort of literacy, that comes from reading scores and scores of high quality books, we are slipping badly. Kids just don't read very many books these days, they much prefer the instant gratification of movies and video games. So in terms of the level that say a college English prof wants to see -that is becoming pretty rare nowadays.

Don't forget facebook and all the virtual farmers of farmville who think plants grow by themselves. Now I've brought that up, none of my family are facebook members, most others I know are not, yet facebook boasts of 750M members - a number I disbelieve.

Video games aren't that big of a deal with most people I know - sure, my kids will play a bit of Little Big Planet, a marvelous video game - but the swing set out back remains a greater attraction. TV, on the other hand, does get too much of its share of attention, but we limit our kids' time. We have a big library for our kids that we started before they could walk, and as they become more proficient at reading they'll be able to lose themselves in a book whenever they want.

It is, of course, easy to find examples of drooling fools who can't tell the etymology of anything, but they don't hang around me.

That's back when people here still read cutting edge philosophy and political theory, especially the good stuff, coming from Europe, and didn't learn to think and feel and dream from Fox news and other corporate garbage bins.

In colonial times children were lucky if they learned to read, write, and do simple computation as a result of a few years of home tutoring or the local school. While elementary schools were common in New England, they were less so in the MidAtlantic and largely absent in the south. In New England they were mostly established so that the children could be taught to read the Bible and the laws of the commonwealth.

Only a very few males from the priviledged classes went to grammar school and to college.

While many homes would have had the Bible and a few other religious works, other books were expensive and would not have been available to most.

merrill, yes, I typed that too fast, I was referring to the educated people who created the US originally, the ones who did have intellectual backgrounds a bit larger than that of a Newt, say, not the general population, that wasn't clear in what I wrote. They were certainly up on the latest intellectual materials from Europe. To a degree that might surprise if you look into it. It's unlikely today's 'elites' can generate any type of actual new patterns or thinking from what I can see, that goes from Ivy league on out, something has changed. Maybe power really does corrupt absolutely in the end, that's as good a guess as any, certainly would account for the general corruption witnessed among today's elites, who seem to have lost all sense of shame and decency.

Newt's intellect may be almost as large as the average Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress. None of them are household names. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_delegates_to_the_Continental_Congress

If you asked the legislatures of the 50 states to nominate 2 or 3 members to send to a new Continental Congress, you might get people of similar stature.

Part of the problem is the method of selecting the legislature. In colonial days the franchise was limited to men of property. This was a small enough community that delegates to the colonial legislatures would be known personally by the members of the electorate. Therefore, character and education, as well as economic and social position, were taken into account.

~ 25% of U.S. Americans have a mental deficiency whereby they cannot accept facts.

I think its that they are addicted to consuming propaganda. To them its a form of entertainment.

Perhaps if KSA adopts solar (PV, CSP, etc) extensively,

Ahhh, but KSA was going to adopt Fission power
because of arguments such as r4ndom keeps putting forth.

What happens when KSA as a land mass/people stop being the KSA and become some other power structure under with different goals?

Given the KSA has a history of hiring outside technical experts - what happens if they pack up and leave once the fission plant suffers a failure?

I provisionally estimate that ~ 25% of U.S. Americans have a mental deficiency whereby they cannot accept facts. The number may indeed be higher!

Most of the 'facts' involve 'change' and change means ones habits may need adjusting.

A lack of willingness to change habits is a common complaint WRT the young who have different habits than the old.

on that score- worth asking them that if government regulations are so terrible why didn't the Republicans when they controlled all branches of government for 6 years do anything about it? Why is it that the Obama administration is proposing a rationalization of some regulations- why do those regulations still exist for Obama to propose rationalization?

I have used that approach...on the GWB years, as well as the twelve years of Reagan/Bush Senior...they get uncomfortable and evasive...'we didn't have enough time to undo the liberal policy devastation'...the liberal media and liberal special interest groups such as unions the academic elites were too powerful...some of our republicans were RINOs (Republican in Name Only'...God is punishing the U.S. for tolerating gays and for Roe v. Wade, etc.

But, trying to get beyond the usual politics of name-calling etc, there is an uncomfortably large block of folks in the U.S. who seem to have no conception of Limits to growth.

They also were sold this idea of Globalization whereby the U.S. would forgo tariffs and export its 'low tech' jobs overseas, and we would in turn get low-price goods made more 'efficiently' abroad, and our folks would all transition to 'high-tech' innovation jobs and service jobs.

They don't get that they were sold a big bill of goods...it seemed to work, right up till id didn't anymore, and now the mantra is to cut taxes until they are as close to zero as possible....except for the war machine and the homeland security/'war-on-drugs' police state expenditures, of course.

I just saw a TV piece about Jimmy Carter calling the War on Drugs a failure (correct) and calling for drug decriminalization.

Then the news folks hosting the piece put up a graphic on the screen: When J.C. left office, some 500,000 folks were imprisoned in the U.S. As of 2009, the number of people behind bars in the increasingly privatized, for-profit prison-industry system was 2.3 million. The news person went on to assert that the W.O.D. (war on drugs) has targeted primarily poor folks, and further, primarily poor black and Latino folks.

I have noted before on TOD that the Federal government buys much of its furniture from UNICOR (Formerly known as FPI...Federal Prison Industries). These prison industries also make many of our military uniformss, helmets, etc.

How convenient...the rounded-up folks help support the MIC.

I don't hear Tea-Party types complaining about the high price of prisons and guards, etc.

When Republicans held power, they just didn't enforce lots of existing regulations and wrote loopholes for any laws from which new regulations would be written (i.e., exempting hydraulic fracturing from the Clean Water Act). Regulations were kept on the books so that after Republicans lost power, they could still demonize the socialist policies of Democrats for political gain.

Hi Heisenberg,

Re: "I do periodically challenge such folks at work..."

May I offer my one-minute (well, few minutes) story? It's got a couple of versions. I find it gets to the basic point rather quickly. Not that anyone wants to understand the basic point.

There are a couple of ways to tell the story (says the story-teller). The first one is to look at human history, in terms of energy input. First - hunter-gatherers, then agriculture (plants capture energy and humans can store it- very clever!), then wood, then coal and then...(wave hand as high as you can reach to indicate population explosion) - oil. 7 billion humans.

What did humans do with the oil? They made many new species - of machines! An entire new life form (so to speak), upon which humans became utterly dependent. So, between humans - up here! - and Nature - down there - there are thousands of different types of machines.

All the machines need to eat. They all, in one way or another, eat oil. And the sad news is: the earth is round and finite. And oil is finite. And the machine food is about to go away. Poor machines. This is the sad part. They are going to starve.

Version II, addition: Another way to say it is this: do you grow your own cotton, spin your own yarn, make your own fabric and sew your own clothes? No. Machines do (most of it.) Likewise, for every single thing you have (materially speaking).

Just sharing.

Re: ".they claim that both the D's/libs and the R's/country club repubs are in on a higher-level conspiracy to break America."

But H, this is true! In the following sense: Anyone who knows the situation and remains silent, is standing by...criminally so, given the suffering that looms.

The opposite of breaking is providing the compassionate (including practical) atmosphere necessary for the truth to be told. And then telling it.

Cheney knows. Chu knows. Bush knows. Obama knows.

Re: "I provisionally estimate that ~ 25% of U.S. Americans have a mental deficiency whereby they cannot accept facts. The number may indeed be higher!"

Let me posit something, for the sake of discussion.

It's not a mental deficiency. It's an emotional deficiency.

Humans can only accept facts when they have a context for the facts, that's one thing.

Second up, even people who can accept death, don't want to die alone. But "peak" is very lonely knowledge. Isn't it? (That's why I'm here at TOD.)

The positive side of this argument is the following:

1) Increase compassion and you can directly address the emotional deficiency and increase emotional capacity. (Takes time, though. Of course.) (example: www.cnvc.org)

2) Very important point: It is not necessary for all Americans or all of anybody to understand the facts. Most people do what's exactly in front of them. You need a job, you need to get to the job. You buy a car, because this is the only way to get to the job. And so forth.

Putting a different model, lifestyle, and way of organizing in front of people, both as a policy, and as a set of guidelines for making decisions: this might help tremendously. Just saying...


Sign now and avoid the rush.:)

Please consider this excellent article and video clips for a more realistic view of Canada and the oil sands.

"To the Last Drop"


Some Canadians on this forum have financial interest in all of this and therefore take every opportunity to white wash what is actually going on. Make no mistake it is a global calamity and a crime against humanity.

We get a lot of our drugs from Mexico and points south. But we are the consumers. We get most of our imported oil from Canada. But we are the consumers. This is a crime against nature but then our very existence has become a crime against nature and each other. Of course, even if we quit importing oil from Canada today, they would just find another market. We don't know how to exist without ripping up and laying waste to people and the planet. We can cut back but we will be back because the population continues to grow. If the answer is that people have to engage in a subsistence lifestyle, there is no answer. Even cutting back a little bit is unacceptable to virtually everyone.

I live in a tourist area. Today I took my recumbent trike out on the highway. The highway was inundated with gas guzzlers. I would say that at least 80% of the vehicles were SUVs and trucks. Almost all of this travel is completely discretionary. People were just out cruising, madly rushing, passing each other to hurry up, speeding, not looking, on the so called "scenic" highway. Speeding across the country to "see" the U.S.A. before it is all gone. Frantically going from place to place on their little pissant vacations which are the shortest amongst all developed countries.

I keep hearing what a burden these so called high gas prices are. Whether or not we release the SPR makes no difference to these people. They seem to be living large on the highway to hell.

If these tar sands were in the U.S.A., we would, of course be mining the hell out of them. Canadians are just like Americans, only maybe a little more polite with better health care.

Tstreet, I love your take on things. Thanks for an excellent post. I started to say "I couldn't have said it better" but I won't. I will say instead "I couldn't have said it nearly as well."

Oil is like a drug and we are addicted. And even if it means we will destroy our environment to get our fix we will do it.

And thanks to Eeyores Enigma, loved the video. Watching it I was reminded of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout, things we will tolerate just to feed our addiction.

Ron P.

All Canadians have a financial interest in the oil sands because the Canadian government is collecting billions in taxes from it, and it is helping to pay for their free health care.

However, the 1000 people in Fort Chipewyan need to find another source of drinking water than the Athabasca River - one of the other rivers nearby. The Athabasca River has always been polluted. The early fur trading explorers complained there was so much oil pouring out of the riverbanks that they couldn't land their canoes, and when they did they did find a place they could land, they couldn't walk on the shore because their moccasins stuck to the oily sand. There are also sources of mercury and arsenic in the river bottom - nobody knows where.

The oil sands are the world's biggest naturally occurring oil spill. I look on the oil sands mines as just removing all the oil from the sand and cleaning it up so future generations can sit at picnic tables and admire the buffalo grazing on the unpolluted fields. At least, that's the plan.

Airbus lead-turns Boeing on 'next-generation' single-aisle airliners...


The airlines greatly value having fuel-efficient airliners...fuel costs are a huge factor in their attempts to be profitable.

If only the American driver valued fuel efficiency as much, and the auto industry responded in kind.

The Toyota Prius went on sale World-wide in 2001. Let us imagine that, in response to the 9-11 attacks, U.S. Americans decided to greatly reduce their reliance on oil, and in particular, foreign oil. Given that U.S. auto sales year over year were at least 10 million units per year. If we had our heads screwed on straight, we could have bought the Prius or other vehicles with a similar fuel economy at the rate of say 5 million unit per year.

At that right, by now we would have ~ 50 million vehicles on the road which each would get at least 40 mpg. Assuming the vehicles they replaced got ~ 20 mpg (talking city mpg here)...

Suffice to say that we could have already greatly reduced our fuel consumption, without changing driving habits, and without buying any more cars or likely without spending any more money on vehicles than we already have.

Oh, but what if the decreased demand decreased gasoline prices and what if Jevon's Paradox reared it ugly head?

Easy...we could have phased in increased gas taxes concurrently with the uptake of 40 mpg+ cars, such that people's fuel expenses would be the same as they are today, to even somewhat more so, despite burning fewer gallons per year.

But, such an action would require a well-educated populace capable of critical thinking, and a national energy policy to suit.

For the folks who will say 'But your imagined plan would just continue BAU' I would ask: What would be preferable: the way things are now, or the way things would be in the alternate history I just described?

it would NOT be better to burn up to half as much fuel for private ground vehicle transport as compared to now?

Obviously what did NOT happen was that mass quantities of folks took up walking, biking, public transport, not traveling hardly at all, moving right next to their work, etc.

Not that any of the above-listed approaches are without merit, but their possibility does not negate the possibility of us recapitalizing our car fleet and doubling our mileage, supported by astute application of fuel taxes.

Good speculations. But these approaches would have been bad for oil companies, and we had oil executives in charge of the country at the time.

So instead, the message was, "GO OUT AND BUY MORE CRAP!"

Neither 9/11 nor 2008 were adequate as wake up calls. And none of the extreme and destructive weather events seem to be enough to be wake up calls--even when tens of thousands of nice, white, affluent, first worlders were wiped out by the bizarrely extreme killer heat wave in Europe in 2003--an event that had one of the strongest signatures of AGW.

I despair that there will be any event extreme or clear enough to make Americans (or most anyone else) wake up the the severity of our predicament and the enormity of an even halfway rational response to it.

I despair that there will be any event extreme or clear enough to make Americans (or most anyone else) wake up the the severity of our predicament and the enormity of an even halfway rational response to it.

Millenarianism will see to that. These extreme events are brought to us by god, who is just warming up for the endtimes! Rather than trying to figure out how to avoid feeding these events, such people will rejoice in them, and ask what they can do to "help" god's plan along.

Nice rants guys, but seriously I hope you are not actually expecting enlightened responses like that. How about where we would be if we'd behaved rationally after the US peaked in the '70s? If we'd listened to the Club of Rome? There was actually a decent chance to do something then. Or Hubbert before that?

No one would have needed a Pious. Two years before they went on sale I bought a little car that got 37mpg. Gas was virtually free, but I figured that eventually oil must become a problem again. I still drive it.

Rational responses are not what you are going to see from very many people - all you can do is see what is happening, guess what the most rational and useful response is, and do that yourself. Then you can be one of the few. Looking back at some arbitrary point in the past and asking why we didn't do the rational thing then is just useless. We didn't do it then, and we won't do it tomorrow.

I also enjoy a good rant (sign of my advancing years as an 'old f.rt')
But as a Brit I did not like the accusation in a thread above that we are more rational (empirical, pragmatic) than Americans.
George Orwall was always regarded as a bit of a traitor to his class; (being ex-private schooling elite and imperial ex-official in Burma), see Drum Beat above:

Practically everything we do, from eating an ice to crossing the Atlantic, and from baking a loaf to writing a novel, involves the use of coal, directly or indirectly.... George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

I well remember those days when we relied almost entirely on coal miners who I guess when I was a child got about as much reward from hard work as the average Chinese miner does now. Then, when 'the miners' failed us, the presiding genius of the British Empire, who deep in our hearts we believed had never really gone away, somehow put as right when she provided the North Sea and oil and NG extraction technology (latter was mostly from America) and we could motor like Americans; (well, not quite like Americans, and not all of us). And NG still heats virtually all our homes, and Tony Blair when asked on his way out about future supplies responded; "already done: pipeline to Norway" and then on further being pestered; "Technology".
PS We have always done a special line in sophisticated financial instruments to help resolve our problems. A very old habit back when Queen Victoria was young my history books tell me.

Tony Blair when asked on his way out about future supplies responded; "already done: pipeline to Norway" and then on further being pestered; "Technology".

And did he say what the UK was intending to do when Norwegian NG production peaked, which it is going to do in the near future? The Norwegian and British sides of the North Sea have the same geology, after all. The Norwegians just have fewer people to use it up.

I think the questioner managed some kind of mumble like that.
"... and what then?"
Blair obliged with "Technology", quick as a flash, and was off.
Our Tony is quick, don't you know.

Mountains of radioactive rubble pile up in Fukushima

Rubble, some of it potentially radioactive, continues to be a headache for municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture although the government has finally come up with standards to deal with it. Rubble has piled up since May 2, when the Environment Ministry told municipalities in the Hamadori and Nakadori districts around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to suspend burning or burying rubble from the disaster site.

I often grumble about the amount of energy we waste, but every once in awhile you hit upon a facility that kicks things to the next level. Yesterday, I audited a ferry terminal that uses a substantial amount of electricity, roughly two-thirds of which is lighting related. The ferries here operate Monday to Friday for three and a half hours in the morning and another three and a half hours in the late afternoon. Although the building is open to the public just thirty-five hours a week, many lights are never turned off. Worse yet, even on rainy, overcast days, virtually the entire building is awash with daylight and so little or no supplemental light is required. To add further insult, much of the lighting hardware is grossly inefficient, the fixtures are poorly positioned, or light is lost due to some other architectural feature.

The dockside canopy lighting and the lighting in this ramp area are never switched off. Do we need to illuminate the great outdoors during daytime hours?


The HID fixtures in this hallway operate thirteen hours a day even though the area is flooded with daylight much of the time:


Ditto the lighting on this staircase landing:


The lights are on in this pedway but can you tell?


Only if you climb up on a ladder:


Here we have three HID fixtures illuminating the top of an enclosed area:


This waiting area is wall to wall glass. Can you tell if the lights are on here?


It helps if you look directly up at the cove:


Lots of work ahead of us on this one, but by simply adding daylight sensors, occupancy sensors and astronomical timers we can cut this facility's lighting load by 60 to 70 per cent.


I have a question...

Who, is paying the bill to run the juice?

Government, or thru ticket sales?

The Martian.

Government? Or tax/wage-slave?

Hi Paul,
I'm hoping to shortly relocate nearby... I've spent some time in Hali' and rollerbladed its fun angled downtown core.
(Perhaps the Halifax Explosion influenced its angled shape?)

What with the current restoration of the Bluenose II in Lunenberg, and Jan Lundberg's recent article on the Sail Transport Network, I wonder how soon we might get to see and sail some nice 'wind-operated ferries' about the area, ay?

Like maybe the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters?

Is that how we are/were supposed to get around? Like all our houses up here facing the sun, and stuff like that?

I hope your relocation works out well for you, ToP. I spent nineteen years living in Toronto and those years were very good to me, but I never considered Toronto home and now I'm very happy to be back where I belong.

Here's one person's virtual tour across the harbour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x60wAG1US48 It's a great way to get to the downtown core; ten minutes relaxing on the upper deck taking in the fresh salt air and then you're there. Of course, some folks, like Fred, may prefer to travel behind the ferries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgiL-SWdp-g


Thank you, I'm looking forward to it if all goes as planned.

Never liked Toronto, except for its wonderful mix of people.

I spent about 15 years in Vancouver. The ferries seem similar, although there's no open-air deck for the Vancouver-to-North Vancouver ferry, which is also roughly 10 minutes long. For me, it was less about salt air and more about Lynn Canyon. Vancouver's summers were never quite hot enough for me.

FT04: I wonder when those light fittings were last cleaned and how much more light they would give off if they were. Perfect positioning to collect dirt.

Worra waste of electrons, sheesh!



I don't think they've ever been cleaned since they were installed and a considerable amount of dust has accumulated on the lamps. The reflector tightly hugs the curvature of the lamp so fixture efficacy is relatively poor (much of the light is reabsorbed by the lamp itself) and years of dirt depreciation just adds to the misery. We'll rip these fifty-nine F40T12 fixtures out and replace them with ten 2-lamp 28-watt T8 vapour proofs driven by low-output ballasts suspended on chain. In this area, total load will fall from 2,950-watts to roughly 430-watts and with the light sensors they'll operate an average of two to three hours a day instead of thirteen -- some 9,971 kWh/year cut to perhaps 300 kWh, for a 97 per cent reduction in energy use.

Here's another quick example:

Earlier this week we audited a car rental agency and there's a side pump canopy by their wash bay fitted with six 400-watt metal halide lamps. The lights were on at the time of our visit so I e-mailed the operations manager asking if she could confirm their hours of operation. Her reply: "The canopy lighting is on all the time. No one knows how to shut them off."

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PC01.jpg

With ballast, each fixture draws 455-watts, so the total connected load is 2.73 kW and over the course of the year they'll consume 23,915 kWh. We'll replace these with 210-watt Philips MasterColour Elites driven by electronic ballasts (226-watts) and literally cut this load in half. In addition, we'll operate them on an astronomical timer that automatically increments the start time so that they come on at precisely the correct time with each passing season and shut off at midnight. This will reduce their run time to an average of five hours a day, for a total of 2,475 kWh/year , a 90 per cent reduction in energy use. Again, I keep running into these same scenarios day in, day out; the amount of electricity we waste can make you cry.

BTW, notice the extreme colour shift on these metal halide lamps? The new MasterColour Elites offer much longer lamp life, far superior lumen maintenance (i.e., they won't grow noticeably dimmer as they grow older), there's no discernible colour shift over the lamp of the life (i.e., they won't turn green, blue or pinkish as they reach end-of-life) and they provide much better colour rendering. Its a great product that blows everything else out of the water.


Her reply: "The canopy lighting is on all the time. No one knows how to shut them off."

Headesk... that is something I have always suspected of many places!

People whinge on about how we can't possibly save enough energy to make a difference but you come here time and time again showing how easy it is. Low hanging fruit my foot, these are just dropping off the tree and into the basket. Part of site A: 9.671 MW annual saving - I'll say again Mega Watts! Site B: 21.44 MW. Just 2 sites, partial solutions at that, saving over 30 MW a year, each and every year. A hundred times that and a 3 GW power station can close.

People underestimate lighting. My plans to get some solar going last year got de-railed but are getting back on track. Part of it was getting a marine/deep cycle battery so I decided to make the most of that and keep it in use by charging off the mains then running my old camping light off it to provide background light so I don't trip over the fur heads who don't understand that humans cannot see in the dark. We get charged for electricity at incremental rates. Just doing that knocked out my higher rate! It surprised me. I have just dug out some old inverters, that last saw the light of day about 15 years ago, and have been trying them with Phillips T5 14W tubes. Lots of light. Now to get the solar panel and charger built - no more light to pay, at least for 90% of my need.


Best of luck with your efforts, NAOM. I eliminated the last of our incandescent lamps several years ago and have been slowly replacing our halogen lamps with LEDs. With few exceptions, all of the ones we use on a daily basis are now LED, including those inside our refrigerator. My home office where I spend the bulk of my evenings is illuminated by a desk lamp fitted with a Philips 12.5-watt EnduraLED A19. Add in my ThinkPad and DSL modem and the combined draw of all three is still less than the 40-watt Halogená high efficiency T60 that it replaced.

Last month, our crews eliminated a little over 460,000 kWh of customer demand or slightly less than 22,000 kWh per workday -- the equivalent of taking forty homes off grid assuming the "typical" home uses, on average, 960 kWh a month (and the work I do on behalf of our firm is "small potatoes" compared to the larger commercial and industrial jobs handled by my two partners).

The month-end celebratory cake for our small business lighting crews: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/May2011.jpg

I couldn't be more proud of my guys and the work they do on behalf of our clients... they're highly professional, courteous and respectful, self-motivated and extremely hard working, and a pleasure to be around.


Speaking of 24hour outdoor lighting, I noticed our local warehouse style grocery store's parking lot lights were on, despite blazing mid-day sun. These are some sort of bluish-white discharge lamps. I know some types of high intensity lighting doesn't take on/off cycles well. Are these among them? This is claimed to be an employee owned outfit, and you'd think they would be amenable to saving money.

Hi EoS,

These are most certainly metal halide (my guess Osram Sylvania given their bluish tint) and if they're on tall masts they're most likely 1,000-watts each (1,100-watts including control gear). Normally, outdoor lighting is controlled by a timer or dusk-to-dawn photo eye, but the photo eye may have malfunctioned or the timer could have been improperly set or one of the tripper pins fell off the wheel. Some systems such as those used at gas stations have an "ON-OFF-AUTO" switch so that the lights can be operated during daytime hours (a, "yes, we're open for business" cue to passing motorists) and, if that's the case, it could have been moved to the wrong position. I've also come across instances where the photo eye was taped over when the fixtures were serviced and the technician forgot to remove it when done.

At eight to ten hours per start, metal halide life won't be adversely affected by switching. In fact, with some metal halide lamps, it's highly recommended that they be turned off for no less than fifteen minutes per week to minimize the risk of "non passive failure", otherwise known as lamp rupture or what you or I might call the big kaboomie.

See: http://www.nema.org/gov/env_conscious_design/lamps/upload/LSD%2025%20MH_...

I would speak to the store manager to see if they can rectify the problem. They'll likely appreciate that you took the time to bring it to their attention as this sort of thing reflects poorly on their business.


Congratulations to your crew too. Keep that up for a year and you'll close a power plant :)

Haven't used incandescents since... I don't know, 90 something except for two fans here that insist on them for the light due to the remote control. What was that about LEDs not liking some dimmers, I may take the scope up and check them to see which they are. You have certainly got me enthused to use LEDs for a couple of problem areas here though I doubt I will go all in for reasons I won't go into here but they will be on future lists. As for desk lamp I need to spend time in the local second hand bazaars to find a simple one then convert it to 10mm LEDs to run off USB. Just pick up the 5V off the computer, that is already on, then I can shut off the room light. I've noted that a few new consumer fridges around here now come with LED lighting. Models are being turned over for the latest ones so the future may be interesting.


Thanks, NAOM. Philips LED products play nicely with most leading edge dimmers but not their trailing edge counterparts. For a list of compatible dimmers, see: www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/led/assets/p-6139.pdf

Our fridge shipped with a 60-watt chandelier base flame style incandescent. I immediately replaced it with a 25-watt halogen and now it's illuminated by a 3-watt Philips EnduraLED BA11. It's not as if we constantly open and close the refrigerator door or leave it open for an extended period of time; I simply had an extra BA11 kicking about and thought "hey, why not?". Still, kinda cool to be able to cut the amount of energy consumed by 95 per cent and, at the same time, minimize the amount of waste heat that has to be expelled by the refrigeration system.


You're into this 95% lark :) Thanks for that list, I'll probably have to 'scope the waveform but I suspect it will be leading edge. I can't understand why they won't like trailing edge though, puzzles me I'd have thought that the sudden switch on would create more of a pulse.


It is this kind of waste thast alarms me every time I visit the US. One example is huge, high powered, ground mounted lights, being used to illuminate the exteriors of large buildings, basically bouncing the light off the sides of the buildings into outer space. Not a very productive use of electricity.

The good thing about North America is that, thers so much low hanging fruit. The bad thing about North America is the apparent lack of interest in picking said low hanging fruit,

Alan from the islands

From the Denver Post:

Oil shale's legacy of failure

As Americans began sending young soldiers over to fight in the trenches of France during World War I , federal officials, boosters, promoters and news publications began to beat the drum for oil shale.

Sadly there are two different things being called "oil shale": kerogen and crude oil from drilling through shale rock.

This article confuses the two.

Yes, the term has essentially become meaningless. Is it "oil shale" or "shale oil"? That's too subtle of a distinction.

Maybe it would make sense to just encourage journalists to use the name of the actual formation (Green River, Bakken, Marcellus, etc).

The difference between shale oil and oil shale is quite simple: Shale oil is shale oil, while oil shale is not oil and not shale. Any experienced oil geologist would know the difference.

Of course, the people who are promoting oil shale try not to make that distinction clear, especially not to the media. A lot of American politicians would fall into that group.

City dwellers suffer most stress

Previous studies have noted that those born and bred in cities were more likely to suffer anxiety or mood disorders than their rural counterparts.

The biological reasons were unknown, but new research, reported in Nature, shows different parts of the brain are used depending on where you live.

City residents place more stress on the amygdala, which is involved with emotional regulation and mood, whereas country dwellers show more activity in the cingulate cortex - associated with regulating stress.

If I understand this correctly it seems civilisation has the opposite effect than is commonly supposed. People living in unnatural, overcrowded conditions suffer from lack of control and fall back on the primitive "lizard brain" to cope with the stress and make decisions. Herding instincts move to the fore and take control of peoples lives. Explains a lot. Civilisation turning people into domesticated herds relying on primitive brain functions to get them through each chaotic day. Sounds very uncivilised, but also explains why people don't get peak oil, etc. they simply aren't thinking cognitively, just responding to simple stimuli (advertising, propaganda, greed, irrational fears, etc.).

Right but does a hick living in the backwoods of Mississippi "get" peak oil?

I think you are right, but this effect may be counterbalanced by city dwellers having more access to information. Maybe too much information nowadays, but still.

It's my experience, over and over, that urban/city/suburban dwellers, at least if aren't amongst the poor, are better educated, better read, more in tune with world events, and able to converse on a wider range of subjects than rural/country dwellers.

I'm generalizing, of course. But I consistently encounter "hear no evil, see no evil" ignorance in the country.

I expect the best responses to our predicaments to come from progressive, smaller to mid size towns/cities, perhaps including some big metro areas.

I don't expect rational responses to come from the rural areas or the urban poor.

It's my experience, over and over, that urban/city/suburban dwellers, at least if aren't amongst the poor, are better educated, better read, more in tune with world events, and able to converse on a wider range of subjects than rural/country dwellers

Could be why they are so stressed;)

I don't know about Mississippi hicks, but the villagers here in France where I live, certainly seem to understand our current predicaments reasonably well. I can't say the same for those I know in Paris, they're far more dismissive and more worried about crime, jobs, immigration, inflation, etc. but strangely also feel that nothing bad can happen (economic depression, hyperinflation or deflation, no way can it happen).

I think you're looking at education, culture and class rather than what the scientists are saying. Which basically is that people in the cities are relying more on the amygdala, the more primitive "flight or fight, eat or be eaten?" part of the brain for processing information and reacting to it. If I understand it correctly it's also the default mechanism that takes over in herds or mobs, replacing individual thought and action with that of the herd. Particularly evident in financial manias.

I don't expect rational responses to come from the rural areas or the urban poor.

Personally, I don't expect to see a rational response, period. I just see more of the same old same that got us into our predicament in the first place. All civilisations fall apart, they simply cannot contain the damage they inflict on the environment and inhabitants. The rational response always seems to be the abandonment of civilisation in the end and a return to more human scale societies. But before that happens, the train has to hit the buffers.

"It's my experience, over and over, that urban/city/suburban dwellers, at least if aren't amongst the poor, are better educated, better read, more in tune with world events, and able to converse on a wider range of subjects than rural/country dwellers."

Having lived in both environments, I'm not so sure. The country people are much more jacks of all trades, while the cities have the deep specialists. This is hardly a surprise. If there is no practical application for skill X, then you likely won't find it in the country, which is much of the basis for your experience. And economics is all about the benefits of specialization in an area where you can develop a comparative advantage.

The flip side of specialization is that you forget how things fit together and interact. The number of city dwellers who think nature is like a big city park or even worse, a Disney cartoon, is appalling. And there are always people who move to the country and are shocked to find out that the farmers put manure in the fields that grow our food. And get angry to the point of lawsuits when the machinery starts up at sunrise on Saturday morning. Which forces the creation of "right to farm" laws. And so on.

The average country bumpkin can weld, wire an electrical circuit, do major carpentry projects, shoot, dress, and butcher a deer, grow and can produce, and safely run a chainsaw. Conduct a upper-division level discourse on Existentialism vs Kant, not so much. So who is really smarter?

On a personal level, the economists say I'm not supposed to build my own boat or can my own pickles. I should sell my engineering skills to some one and take the money to hire the construction of a better boat than I could build, and buy better pickles than I could can myself. That would free up more of my time to work more hours to make even more money and drive even more consumption, increasing GDP. This overlooks the fact that I am an exempt employee, so no overtime, and I'm already so specialized there is no further local market for my skills. And it also assumes that GDP is the greatest good, a religious belief I do not share.

Coincidentally, the neighboring orchard crew has just fired up the big sprayer :-)

I have lived in both worlds myself, and that's my experience as well. A lot of people have all sorts of skills, and if you don't know how to do something, you know a neighbour who does that can come over and help you.

My other comment is that city dwellers might be reading a wider variety of things, but for the most part they will still be reading the MSM, and they will have an even stronger interest in maintaining BAU..

On a personal level, the economists say I'm not supposed to build my own boat or can my own pickles. I should sell my engineering skills to some one and take the money to hire the construction of a better boat than I could build, and buy better pickles than I could can myself. That would free up more of my time to work more hours to make even more money and drive even more consumption, increasing GDP.

And as the financial system has been captured by the financial oligarchs, which means ever greater amounts are syphoned from the GDP/economy for their personal enrichment. So the oligarchs can buy the boat, while the worker no longer has the time to build a boat nor the money to buy one. The economists system is broken beyond repair.

But if you do everything yourself the government won't be able to tax you... that way. Actually given what the government spends the most on, doing things yourself is actually an anti war gesture.

On a personal level, the economists say I'm not supposed to build my own boat or can my own pickles. I should sell my engineering skills to some one and take the money to hire the construction of a better boat than I could build, and buy better pickles than I could can myself.

Up to that point, you're right about standard economic thought (beyond that, not so much, because standard economic thought also places a value on leisure, and admits that your personal optimal solution might not be to work more hours). And the evidence from the last 10,000 years since agriculture was invented supports that: specialization and trade are more efficient than a single worker attempting to do it all. Personally, I suspect our caveman ancestors figured out that it was more efficient to have the tribe's geek flake all the flint and not do any hunting.

It is meaningful to discuss the scale at which production is optimized given the costs of transportation. An example I frequently use is the billion-transistor integrated circuit. The tools to make such are enormously expensive, and require a massive market; there are only a relative handful of those fabs in the world. If Peak Oil means that future trade is restricted to regions with relatively limited populations, such technology is no longer affordable. That is, an economy limited to a million people cannot specialize enough to afford to make billion-transistor chips; their limit might be at a hundred million, or ten million. Or none.

"If I understand this correctly it seems civilisation has the opposite effect than is commonly supposed."

How does city life change the way we act? What accounts for the increasing prevalence of violence and anxiety in our world?

In this new edition of his controversial 1969 bestseller, The Human Zoo, renowned zoologist Desmond Morris argues that many of the social instabilities we face are largely a product of the artificial, impersonal confines of our urban surroundings.

Indeed, our behavior often startlingly resembles that of captive animals, and our developed and urbane environment seems not so much a concrete jungle as it does a human zoo. Animals do not normally exhibit stress, random violence, and erratic behavioruntil they are confined. Similarly, the human propensity toward antisocial and sociopathic behavior is intensified in todays cities.

Morris argues that we are biologically still tribal and ill-equipped to thrive in the impersonal urban sprawl. As important and meaningful today as it was a quarter-century ago, The Human Zoo sounds an urgent warning and provides startling insight into our increasingly complex lives.

The Human Zoo"

Seems research is beginning to back up Morris's view. Explains why so many are on anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs. The scary thing is that over 50% of the planet's human population is now incarcerated in urban conurbations. Does this mean 50% of humanity is now suffering from sociopathic and other mental problems due to their captive like state?

Even worse is that the same 50% will be responsible for humanity's response to the existential threats we face. Anyone making sensible preparations will probably be trampled by this massive herd of bewildered beasts. :(

"Anyone making sensible preparations..."

Depends on which of many contradictory notions of "sensible preparations" you mean. Do you mean hunker-in-the-bunker survivalism? That seems have no currency at all outside the USA, which suggests it might be set aside as an idiosyncratic cultural artifact signifying nothing. Or do you mean another popular meme, cramming and jamming people into Manhattanized termitaries overcrowded enough to support local rail lines, seemingly on the theory that it's a moral imperative to incarcerate them within the tiny area typically covered by said rail lines and supporting buses? Or what?

The Tragedy Of The Gas Tax:


Senator Coburn defends oil subsidies as he attacks ethanol subsidies on this week's Market to Market. Analyst recommends selling Brent and buying WTI with the idea the spread will narrow.


This is the root, this is the key, this is the #1 issue.

The world's biggest consumer of power is now a net importer of coal.

Bad summer of power shortages threatens China economic growth
Michael Sainsbury / The Australian / June 23, 2011

The key reason behind the central government's inability to control the price of coal is that China has moved from being a self-sufficient coal producer to a net importer of coal.

What's happening inside China now that they are losing control of the price of the coal they use?

China's Top Power Firms Suffer Soaring Losses
Bernama / June 24, 2011

HONG KONG, June 24 (Bernama) -- China's top five power companies saw their losses in the first five months of this year jump from a year earlier due to rising coal prices, an industry report showed Friday.

The China Electricity Council said in the report that the country's five major state-owned power-generating firms lost a total of 12.16 billion yuan (US$1.88 billion) in this year's January-May period, compared to 4.3 billion yuan in losses during the same period last year, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Which gives rise to

China's manufacturing sees sizable slowdown
By Chen Jia / China Daily / June 24, 2011

... HSBC's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dropped to an 11-month low of 50.1 in June, compared with the final official reading of 52 in May, indicating a sizable slowdown in the country's manufacturing growth, according to the HSBC report.

The HSBC's PMI is published monthly by HSBC, approximately one week before the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) releases the final PMI. A reading above 50 means an expansion in the manufacturing sector, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction. ...

PMI right on the verge of contraction in China and falling as power crisis worsens due to unaffordable coal imports.

Is it any wonder that we see this:

Beijing battling protest fires on all fronts
The Australian via The Times / June 15, 2011

AN eruption of protests throughout China has sent armoured vehicles into town centres, prompted an internet blackout by the government and left thousands across the country blogging about "crazy" violence on the streets. ...

Plus a sixth

Protests in China Violently Put Down in Six Provinces
By Gu Qing’er & Gary Pansey / Epoch Times / June 17, 2011

... So far this month six Chinese provinces have experienced unrest: Henan, Guangzhou, Guangxi, Zhejiang, Hubei, and Inner Mongolia. While the trigger for each protest has varied, the regime is now finding the long-festering frustrations and discontent with its rule erupt nationwide. ...

... The crowd at the gas station, composed mostly of the elderly, was forcefully dispersed on the afternoon of June 15 by riot police wielding nightsticks. A dozen were arrested, including a village chief and other democratically elected representatives. The unrest in Taizhou was not quelled until June 16 when police reinforcements arrived and martial law was imposed, says the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Hong Kong. ...

What happened to endless 8% growth? I remember a couple years ago the news said if they can't keep up 8% growth then unrest would set in. Turned out to be true.

Very interesting. Will 2011 go down as the year that Peak Coal became obvious in China? If so, it might give us a preview of how things play out elsewhere as Peak Oil becomes obvious.

Interesting post and links on China. We can already see that people in the OECD countries don't much like paying higher oil prices because it causes a reduction in economic activity, and now China has grown to the point of importing oil and coal and the higher prices are digging into profits, reducing what the bottom rung workers end up with after paying higher inflated prices. As long as China was growing and energy was cheap the hard working poor were getting a few trinkets along the way, all was well. But now things are tightening a bit, the populace is becoming restless.

What will happen in China when the US has it's next big recession? Will they lend themselves money to build more empty cities and neighborhoods so the masses remain employed? Banking on a future of double digit growth for a country of 1.3 billion people was at best a dangerous folly.

What will happen in China when the US has it's next big recession?

We are finding that out right now.

Chill settles over Santa’s workshop
By Alison Leung and James Pomfret / Reuters / June 23, 2011

HONG KONG – China may be the world’s toy-making capital, but for Cheung Tak Ching the Christmas season is shaping up to be lean and joyless.

... Reflecting pressures that feed back into China’s manufacturers, California-based toy giant Mattel and smaller rival Hasbro Inc. reported lower first-quarter profits as they pay more for fuel and freight, and higher Labor costs in China, where most of their products are made. ...

What happened to endless 8% growth? I remember a couple years ago the news said if they can't keep up 8% growth then unrest would set in. Turned out to be true.

According to China, GDP grew by an annual equivalent of 9.7% in Q1 2011 (latest data available).

Maybe the estimate that 8% was going to be sufficient turned out to be a tad low?

MAULDIN: A Greek Coup May Be What Causes Greece To Leave The Euro

To go back to the drachma would require a bank holiday for a week, and it would have to be a surprise move. About the only way for that to happen would be a military coup coupled with a bank holiday and promises to return to elections after the currency issue was solved.

My recollection is that the EU had a number of tests regarding democracy and the rule of law that it applied to countries attempting to gain membership.

I don't recall what happens to an EU member which ends democracy. Are they automatically tossed out of the EU?

Nothing is automatic in a situation like that. Brussels would address it ad hoc, which is what they have been doing for a long time now.

Yep. Quite aside from the fact that they didn't plan for such possibilities back in the day, now that they're being forced to it all has to be done in secret, because officially "there is no plan B" and admitting that there is a plan B would risk scaring the confidence fairy (which is already severely spooked).

This isn't the normal "just a reminder to use a solar powered pressure cooker" link to buildit solar.


But, given a large enough plastic fresnel lens you too should be able to make one of these yourself.
(And duh, my big plastic lens will make glass from sandstone on a sunny June/July day)

A Danish firm (BLP?) used to (still does?) make 40 foot ones as part of a projection TVish system. The scrap projection TV market has mostly passed with big HDTV "long" established.

There are a couple of good articles in this week's "Economist".

This one criticizing the SPR release:

And this one on the increasing spread between WTI and Brent:

The second also notes a new spread opening up between Louisiana light and sweet (LLS) and Brent.

I've commented before that mainstream sources are sounding more and more like The Oil Drum these days...

"I've commented before that mainstream sources are sounding more and more like The Oil Drum these days..."

I began seeing CNN as TOD II over the past couple of months. Now, with the very good NYT article on shale gas we have TOD III. Once QE-SPR I fails we should see quite a bit of coverage of oil issues unless the economy totally tanks.

The second also notes a new spread opening up between Louisiana light and sweet (LLS) and Brent.

LLS Spot $105.83
Brent Spot $105.31

The Alternative Energy Fallacy

In 2009, the world produced some 13.2 billion metric tons of hydrocarbons, or about 4,200 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet. Burning those hydrocarbons poured roughly 31.3 billion metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions, and give us a cleaner, greener, and healthier planet. That premise, however, is fatally flawed, because our planet cannot produce enough non-ferrous industrial metals to make a meaningful difference, and the prices of those metals are even more volatile than the prices of the hydrocarbons that alternative energy hopes to supplant.

This is a great article and the comments below it are great also. Great for the insight they give into some people's beliefs.

Ron P.

Well Ron P., when I read a line like the one from John Petersen at the Motley Fool blog you promote here,
"I won´t even get into the sophistry of wind turbines and solar panels.",
then I must admit this source has no credibility in my opinion, and inspires little more from me than a sigh of disgust. Even though Petersen has a few factually correct statements, his vitriol otherwise represents the same tired lack of understanding in how innovations evolve. They almost always start small, ugly, curious, and seemingly irrelevant, and the incumbents laugh at them. Would you like to see a picture of a cell phone from 1980? And now, the iPhone 4?
If you have not checked lately, the production costs of PV have fallen about 50% the last 3 years, and the production cost appears to be falling further, as competition and innovation are working their usual wonders. Same for wind turbines. Where will the price of coal and crude oil be 3-5 years from now?

Well Decarbonizer, I am not promoting the Motley Fool blog but I do like it and read it often. But I usually love the comments to the blog even more than I do the articles themselves. I loved your comment here also.

There are several different types of deniers, people that believe we can continue Business As Usual even after the demise of fossil fuels. William Catton lists them here. I believe you would fall under the category of "CARGOISM", those who have faith that technological progress will stave off major institutional change.

Ron P.

I agree with you about BAU. Our collective energy consumption must decline from now on. This will change just about everything.

Automobiles are deep in overshoot and headed for a die-off.


Thanks for the William Catton link. Will now have to get and read the entire book. Reading the contents of the link has given me context for many of your postings. I like knowing where people are coming from.

I have been here since Macondo and I come and read as much as I can as often as I can. Thank you TOD for creating such a vast knowledge base. Thank you TOD community of posters for such enlightened and civil discourse.

Ron, usually your recommendations are excellent, but this one is a miss. A lot of adjectives and very few numbers. Classic technique: use numbers for one side of an argument, but not the other, so that meaningful conclusions can't be drawn. Statement of opinion as fact.

Consumer, thanks for the comments but you made no comment other than to say that you did not like the method of argument used by the author. That is rather vague don't you think. The least you could have was presented some kind of counter argument, or perhaps the numbers from the other side.

Anyway the thrust of the author's argument was that alternative energy is a fallacy. Is it or is it not a fallacy? And if you believe alternative energy is not a fallacy does this mean you have faith that technological progress will stave off major institutional change?

Ron P.

I guess my point was that it was a poorly supported argument that didn't give me enough information to either agree with it or not.

"Is it [alternative energy] or is it not a fallacy?"

I agree with what seems to be the closest thing to a majority opinion developing on this site, i.e. that alternative energy is a good thing, and investing in it will be better than not investing in it, but that it will not allow a large number of people to live like upper middle class Americans. If we define BAU as 2000's USA middle class consumerism, I don't think any combination of fossil fuels or alternatives can keep that going.

"...[do] you have faith that technological progress will stave off major institutional change?" my emphasis

It depends how you define "major", but I think that alternative energy could make a huge difference in the effects of the downslope here in the good 'ol USA, but whether they will is a function of politics, which I am not overly optimistic about.

Consumer, post, thanks. I must disagree with your last sentence however. I really don't think alternative energy can make a major difference, or even a minor difference. And whether it can or not, I would not blame anything politics. Politicians are just another scapegoat to blame the deteriorating conditions of the world on, or blame for not fixing everything.

Ron P.

The US could get by on their internal allotment oil. Just about every step of the market process there is tremendous and irrational waste. The fallacy is thinking we need more energy. That's the last thing we need at this point. We need energy stability and economics decoupled from a growth imperative. Basically an overhaul of the culture and institutions.

Technology will always come in handy, but not to save capitalism, the Cargo cultists are those that believe in market economics.

Just curious Arraya but what do you think would happen if for some reason we could get no imports whatsoever starting next month? Or next year? Pick a date? What would happen to our economy? What would happen to the unemployment rate? What would happen to every sector of our economy? Could we get by just fine?

Ron P.

Obviously, it's a major systemic malfunction and a myriad of levels. That is not in question. But our collective peril is driven more by an ideological straightjacket than any lack of materials or technological ability. That's just junky-mentality speaking. The "technology is not going to save us" meme is misdirected and kind of an aversion to the real damaging cultural mythology that should have scorn directed at it.


Renewables absolutely make sense.

In 2010 the US produced 95 Twh of wind electricity from 40 Gw of wind turbine nameplate. OTOH the US produced 250 Twh of hydroelectricity from 95 GW with a roughly comparable capacity factor


Together these renewables amount to ~11% of US electricity.
In Canada, renewables amount to 60% of electricity.


If the US ran on present renewables only, the per capita electricity consumption would be 175 Mwh/yr-person which is approximately the per capita electricity consumption in Mexico 195 Mwh/yr-person and Cuba runs on 140 Mwh/yr-persopn.

Obviously, society would not implode if we went 100% to renewables
though it would require huge changes in consumption.


This site should be promoting a transition off of FF
instead of whining about its impossibility as various greedy Motley Fools types do.

Majorian, I agree renewables do make sense. I lived in the Tennessee Valley most of my life and we got our electricity from TVA which generates a lot of energy from Dams on the Tennessee River. But we have had renewable hydro energy for about 80 years now. The article was not about that type of renewables, it was about wind turbines and solar panels powering our transportation fleet.

The thrust of the article was This: The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions, and give us a cleaner, greener, and healthier planet.

Is that baloney or will wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles save our planet?

Ron P.

Well, certainly alternative energy is cleaner, greener and healthier than FF.

I think what you have not considered is how unhealthy, dirty and wasteful our present energy system is and how much we can achieve by
rejecting that system.

Will burning mountains of coal and oceans of oil save the planet?

In the short run what will save the planet is vastly reducing our use of resources.

Like the 600 lb. person, once we shed that weight we will discover many new innovative ways of living our lives which seem impossible to us now.

I think what you have not considered is how unhealthy, dirty and wasteful our present energy system is and how much we can achieve by rejecting that system.

Nonsense, I have considered that and agree it is unhealthy, dirty and wasteful. Coal is particularly dirty and causes tens of thousands of deaths per year. And of course they all contribute to climate change. If we had some other better cleaner form of energy, other than fossil fuels, to power our transportation fleet that would be fantastic. But we don't.

Of course wind and solar are much better and cleaner. But they amount to only a drop in the bucket of total energy and even less than that if we only consider our transportation fleet. People who believe that wind, solar and electric cars will save our planet are deluding themselves. Not a chance. And it is really time they faced up to that hard reality.

Ron P.

Whats missing from this analysis is what you believe we should do instead of expanding renewables then...

I don't understand this whole line of argument that since renewables are currently inadequate to supply the entire amount of energy currently consumed in the country, then they are basically worthless. Maybe they are only a drop in the bucket right now, but if we don't squander all the time between now and when TSHTF, maybe we can build that up to two drops, then three, and maybe get to the point where we have a swallow of water in the bucket instead of it being totally empty. I'd much rather live in a USA with production of electricity at 10% of current totals, than one at 0% of current production.

Until you, or someone else, can come up with a better solution as to what we should do instead of investing in renewables, I hope we go full bore towards pushing production of as many MW as possible through renewable means, as there is no better use for that money that I can see. A Few more MW of renewable energy is going to help a hell of a lot more than a few more barrels of oil, IMO at least.

Whats missing from this analysis is what you believe we should do instead of expanding renewables then...

Runeshade, you miss the point. Nothing is missing from this analysis because I don't have a suggestion as to what we should be doing. It is too late! That is the one point you guys never seem to get. It is too damn late! There is nothing that can be done to save the world as we know it.

Until you, or someone else, can come up with a better solution as to what we should do instead of investing in renewables,..

The comical part of your statement is that you think you have a solution and we should come up with a better solution than the one that you have. Hilarious! You don't have a solution and for sure we don't have a better solution. The world is sinking into an abyss and you come running with a shovel and sandbags shouting "This will save us, this will save us." No it won't! Your efforts are admirable Runeshade but let's not have visions of grandeur. The world is deep, deep into overshoot and it is way too late for band-aid solutions.

There is no fix for overshoot.

Ron P.

It is too late! That is the one point you guys never seem to get. It is too damn late! There is nothing that can be done to save the world as we know it... There is no fix for overshoot.

Ok, so thats one vote for laying down and dying. Anyone else have a better idea? I have to wonder why bother posting or reading TOD if nothing that can be done will make any difference at all. I mean, why squander whatever time you have left?

Why is it all or nothing in your view though? Either we are saved or we are screwed. Is there no room for well, this really, really sucks, but its better than it could have been? Personally, I consider myself a doomer, and I think things are going to fiercely suck, but no matter how hard I try, I can't see any DISadvantage to adding more renewable resources to the power mix at the present time.

I never claimed to have THE solution or be "able to save us", so don't paint me with delusions of grandeur that I don't profess. I would however like to see less than the absolute worst case scenario happen. I personally see reducing the scale of disaster from absolutely catastropic to severely catastrophic as a victory, but maybe you disagree. I can't see how having more renewable power available will hurt us in any way, and it seems like a heck of a lot better strategy than just giving up. It certainly won't save us, but every bit helps in my view, but apparently not in yours.

Let me redirect your attention northward, however. Canada gets something like 60% of its energy from hydro. Do you believe that they are in better shape than the US, or do you think that the difference is irrelevant and they are equally screwed?

Reference was made above to the belief given the catchy label "Cargoism". I think we have identified a new belief here I call "Rebooterism".


You are 100% accurate. It is too damn late! There is no fix for overshoot.

The other day in one of the threads I bought up some numbers that the BAU renewable crowd did not want to acknowledge. Firstly, just to have the growth in total energy covered by renewables, we would need 3500 TWh of extra production by about 2020, just 8.5 years away.

This is not what needs to be built between now and then, it is the number required just for the year 2020. In 2021 we would need ~3570 TWh extra produced by renewables.

If it was PV then we would need ~8000 sqkm built in 2020 and 8040 sqkm built in 2021 etc etc. (assuming ideal locations ie low latitude deserts)

If it was Wind then we would need ~500,000 new 3MW generators built in 2020 and 510,000 built in 2021 etc etc.(assuming capacity factors of 25% when existing world average is 20%)

If it was Nuclear then we would need 400 1,000MW reactors built in 2020 and 408 built in 2021 etc etc. (assuming running 24 hrs/d 365 days/year)

Anyone who would like to think about the potential of renewables, then knock yourselves out with this report.... Renewables 2010 Global Status Report...


The thing to remember when reading such things is they are talking MegaWatts and GigaWatts when the problem is in the Thousands of TeraWatts.

I do not consider myself a part of the BAU renewables crowd but, I'm definitely a part of the renwables crowd. The thing is, one day renewables will pretty much be all we've got so, if we invest more in renewable energy now, we will have more energy available when that time comes. One other thing is that, by calling out the BAU renewables crowd you imply that BAU levels of consumption are somehow desirable or even neccesary. Fact is, they're not neccesary and it is questionable as to how desirable they are.

In this thread Paul from Halifax stated how he can identify savings of between 60% to over 90% in the premises of his clients. My choice quote from Paul in this thread is , "Again, I keep running into these same scenarios day in, day out; the amount of electricity we waste can make you cry." If we are to judge from Paul's work, many premises in North America could probably use 50-90% less electricity without any loss in functionality or comfort, the only sacrifice being the need to invest in the energy saving measures. The take away from this is that so called BAU consumption includes phenomenal amounts of totally unneccesary waste.

We haven't even got to the point of making real sacrifices yet. Things like doing outdoor activities during the day and just quiting when it gets dark. Why do people "need" to use central air conditioning to cool a whole McMansion instead of the couple of rooms where they spend all of their time? How about giving up ice skating in the middle of Texas in the summer? Come to think of it, what many call BAU, is a grand exercise of wasting energy as if it were cheap. Oops I forgot! It is/was cheap.

The thing is, if you're not wasting energy, renewable energy can make a significant contribution to your ability to do work or enjoy the comfort of your home.

Alan from the islands


I agree with most of what you say. My point is that the growth rate we are currently at, will demand 3500TWh of total energy added each year by about 2020. Most of this growth is currently in developing Asian countries that have much lower energy use than OECD countries.

The numbers have nothing to do with replacing existing FF use, in fact FF use is likely to be higher in 2020 than now because coal use has been rising at ~4.4% per annum since 2000, while oil use growth has tailed off since 2005.

A halt to FF use growth, will probably mean a slowing of renewables growth, just like 2008-9 when the GFC reined in spending on everything.

Most of the we can do this or that type of argument is what happens in a utopian world of equals, something we do not have. We can continue to tinker around the edges with renewables, and I am as guilty as anyone else in that regard, yet it will not replace what we use with FF.

It is too damn late! There is nothing that can be done to save the world as we know it.

That is precisely correct!

So with that out of the way, what can be done with what remaining resources we do have?

I'm mean other than mass suicide...

Building a fence around FF's with renewable's was probably the answer. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.

Right now whilst we use them to continue BAU, renewable's are leeches on a dying host. They are just sucking the last vestiges of life and hope from this world. For until renewable's demonstrate that they can be manufactured and maintained with energy of their own production, they will inevitably be seen by aliens as the stone heads of a desperate people.

Renewable's were for another place and time in our history, they are a chance not taken and now lost.

That is the one point you guys never seem to get. It is too damn late! There is nothing that can be done to save the world as we know it.

I think that there may be a solution, though not a pleasant one. It would be to stop selling all our vast collection of energy using technologies to the rest of the world's people. And, stop exporting food. Simply let them go their own way, to live or die as they always have. That their populations (1), (2), have exploded to hopelessly unsustainable levels is their own fault and they will suffer accordingly as the situation evolves. Eventually, it will become impossible for the Western nations to continue to support continued population growth in the developing nations.

That wouldn't solve the population and resource problems of the OECD, but there might still be hope for slowing the rate of population growth and learning to live within our respective ecosystems. Or then again, you may be right that it's impossible to accomplish this for political reasons until TSHTF as massive local population die offs begin...

E. Swanson

Renewables Account for 11.14% of U.S. Electricity Use

According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 11.14% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first six months of 2010 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.

This article seems to play pretty loose with the statistics and paints an over rosy view IMO. As a percentage of total energy consumption it appears renewables provide circa 8% in 2010 but the bulk of that comes from hydroelectric, wood and biofuels representing some 80% of renewables production. Wind for example provides only 1% of energy consumption. Hydro and wood show little in the way of increase, leaving biofuels, which probably don't deserve the name "renewable".

I very much doubt whether renewables can maintain even a fraction of BAU by themselves and will likely be impacted by the forces of climate change. Its going to be an uphill struggle. There is no doubt in my mind that we'll be reliant upon FF's until the last drop.

In my opinion, those figures are bogus. Sure, the basic data from the EIA are likely to be correct, but the EIA data mixes production from renewables and fossil fuels on a 1 to 1 basis, whereas some of the renewables provide electricity, not thermal energy. The fact that electricity produced via combustion produces a much lower quantity of electricity is clearly glossed over in this apples and oranges comparison.

According to the data link above, total energy consumption for 2010 was 75 Quads, including electric renewables at 3.83 Quads and all biomass was 4.29 Quads. But, from that 75 Quads of primary energy, 27 Quads of fossil fuels (out of a total of 58.5 Quads) and 8.44 of nuclear energy went into the total production of 4,120 Billion kwhr (14.06 Quads) of output electricity. Thus, electric renewables provided 3.83/14.06 or 27% of electric production, if my calculations are correct. And, that calculation does not include biomass used as a source of thermal energy for electric production...

E. Swanson

Initially I was thinking the same thing. But say all electricity was produced by renewables (say 14 Quads) it would still only provide say 14% of total energy consumption (98 Quads). Still a huge void for renewables to fill if BAU where to be maintained in the face of FF losses.

Yikes, I missed the data on imports. However, lumping fossil fuels and renewable electricity together as primary production misses the difference between thermal energy and electricity. As we know, electricity is not a source, but a means of transmitting energy from place to place, with some possibility of storage along the way. One should not (as you have done) lump electricity with other primary energy sources. Even though it's possible to convert electricity to thermal energy using resistance heaters with high efficiency and deliver even more BTU's using heat pumps, moving from thermal energy to electricity results in large losses at that end of the production process...

E. Swanson

Just following the EIA convention in an effort to convey the size of the task if renewables were to take over from FFs. Do you agree that if all current electricity production came from renewables it wouldn't really alter the fact that BAU is still impossible without FFs?

I'm not against renewables, apart from ethanol, but they will not replace FFs. The changes that people are going to have to undertake in their lives will still be massive. I think any talk about renewables has to go hand-in-hand in with talk about the wholesale changes people are going to be forced to undertake.

Once FF production starts its long decline peoples lives will change for ever, regardless IMO. That was really the point I was trying to make.

My WAG is that BAU is not going to continue as we now experience it, so, yes, I'm rather sure our Western life styles will change dramatically. This past Saturday, I went to a local music festival and witnessed the usual crowds of people, many of whom drove there with campers. Some of the campers were quite large, as in the size of Greyhound buses and the trucks which pulled the campers were large as well. Across the road, there was another example of that non negotiable American way of life, a drag race event. Of course, I drove my car to get there too. Just another summer weekend in which we satisfied our personal emotional needs by burning lots of fuel derived from oil...

E. Swanson

This article seems to play pretty loose with the statistics and paints an over rosy view IMO....I very much doubt whether renewables can maintain even a fraction of BAU by themselves and will likely be impacted by the forces of climate change.

You're quibbling over 1-2 tenths of a percent. Next year renewables will certainly increase.

And according to EIA’s latest "Electric Power Monthly," renewable energy sources provided 10.91% of net U.S. electrical generation for the same time period. Non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) provided nearly 4.07% of domestic U.S. electrical generation during the first half of 2010. Hydropower provided an additional 6.84% of net U.S. electrical generation for the same time period.

Your/our addiction to the BAU lifestyle uber alles a la Dick Cheney
is the real problem.

"The American way of life is non-negotiable".

The list of countries by electricity consumption is quite interesting. I sorted it in order of consumption per capita, just to see if I could spot any obvious trends. Of course many of the countries close to the top have huge indigenous energy resources in particular, hydro, geothermal, coal oil, natural gas or a combination of two or more of the above

Close to the bottom are mostly African underdeveoped countries,.some of which were on our list for surpringly strong uptake of solar pv in a recent db discussion. Apparently when electricity use per capita is so low, what little electricity is used, is extremely valuable.

Some countries near the top of the list pose interesting questions.

How are the energy intensive, high tech economies of Japan, Taiwan and Singapore going to fare on the downside of Peak Oil?

Will the small island economies like Bermuda, the US Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Aruba and the Bahamas be able to maitain their relatively high per capita usage, given that they have no indegenous energy resources and depend almost totally on service industries, mostly tourism, to provide earnings?

Of course this data raises many other questions. So many questions!

Alan from the islands

Will the small island economies like Bermuda, the US Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Aruba and the Bahamas be able to maitain their relatively high per capita usage, given that they have no indegenous energy resources and depend almost totally on service industries, mostly tourism, to provide earnings?

Thats an intersting question. I suspect they/you haven't (yet) become addicted to the high power levels used in the US and Austrailia, so that should help matters. You probably have enough sun and wind, so I don't think the gross annual amount available is a real problem. Temporal variation of supply is probably the main issue, as it may not be practical to spread your power collecting sources over a wide area, i.e. a calm night probably shuts off all sun and wind feeds to your grid. So you need some serious combination of storage and demand management to cope. At least with sun, you probably don't have huge seasonal variation, but you still will have to cope with multiday cloudy spells. But, again maybe your culture can handle a lifestyle that includes cloudyday work holidays? They would be a hardsell in the ubercaptitalist countries.

Where I live, tourism is a major part of the economy but, is not quite the only game in town and we're just under the world average of 297 watts per capita. What sets these islands apart is the degree to which they are above this average. Bahamas 2x, Aruba 2.5x, USVI & CI 3x and Bermuda 3.5x. I suspect that, if their populations were adjusted to include their transient population (tourists), using a figure based on average occupancy rates of the available rooms for example, their per capita consumption would drop quite a bit.

On the other hand their per capita consumption is probably being heavily influenced by the consumption patterns and habits of their transient populations more so than those of their permanent residents. In any case, the well being of their populations, that is, their ability to afford this high per capita electricity consumption, is heavily dependent on the amount of visitors they get and how much those visitors spend. What's going to happen if the visitor numbers and/or the average amount each visitor spends go down significantly?

The phrase, "get the hell out of Dodge" comes to mind.

Alan fromthe islands

Well, the smaller islands will have alot of wind potential from the tradewinds. Um...the Bahamas have always made their livings from a lot of very high value smuggling: fencing for piracy, guns in the US Civil War, booze during Prohibition, drugs currently, no reason that will change. I'd be more worried about what AGW sea level changes will do to some of the lower islands and their freshwater supplies. Alot of the small nations are pretty low already, add 1 meter sea level and hurricanes and their storm surges become really terrifying.
There was a posting awhile back about the Dutch Islands installing a lot of wind capacity. Wind and PV should do well in the Caribbean actually.

Disclosure:Author is a former director of Axion Power International and owns a substantial long position in its common stock.

The guy raises some interesting points, and I'm no believer in the idea that renewable energy will somehow preserve our civilization in anything like its present form. However, this appears to be a stock pumper.

KCP&L Creates Charging Stations For Electric Cars


"It's great timing. Vehicles are now here, and we'll have some charging stations available in the next few months. I think that once there's comfort level and there are more vehicles around then people will be draw to that and will examine that technology," said Maliwat.

The LilyPad stations are scheduled to be in place by the end of the summer.

This is a pretty major advancement for midwestern KC metro. One of the charging stations will be located in my town (Lee's Summit).

From NPR :-

Among the costs of war, $20B in air conditioning

"Bigger than the NASA budget"..."Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel".

Our tax dollars at work.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, gives a presentation at TED 2011 about global gridlock.

Basic issue : by 2050, the population is expected to grow from 6.8B to 9B and the number of cars from 800M to 4B. There will be total gridlock. How can we solve the problem of gridlock using car systems that talk to each other, so we can continue to have the freedom and mobility of today?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...let's have our cake and eat it too...or the Cargoists at work, as Ron mentioned above,

Fear not! Technology will cure all: Smart cars, smart parking places, ya da ya da....the only thing lacking is people smart enough to realise what idiocy this all is.

That's a straw man. It's tough to see how an American-style highway system could accomodate 5x more cars, but those extra cars are not going to appear on American highways. They're appearing in rapidly industrializing nations whose existing road network is terrible.

With that in mind, the solution to gridlock is simple: no need to build "car systems that talk to each other", just build American-style highway systems. China has already started.

Now, the *energy* needs of those 3.2 billion extra cars are another, much more serious issue, but I'm not at all worried about gridlock.

I keep wondering where all the materials will come from to build these car systems of the future.

It's tough to see how an American-style highway system could accomodate 5x more cars,

Easy! http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/26/ford.mobility/index.html

At Ford, we are rapidly expanding our commitment to intelligent cars that can wirelessly talk to each other to help make driving safer, more efficient and more enjoyable. We're doubling our intelligent vehicle investment in 2011, and we've initiated a new 20-member task force of scientists and engineers to explore the technology's broader possibilities.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor

Ironically this is the TOD quote being displayed as I write this comment:

“My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel.”
—Saudi saying

Perhaps what we really need, is smarter camels >;^) Because unfortunately the executive chairman of Ford Motor seems to be either a delusional nitwit, or sleazy lying bastard. Could be both I suppose.

Don't need smarter cars, just Mexican taxi drivers. Space between cars, what's that?


PV yes or no. I would like to see numbers about how much aluminum, glass, and silicon are used per GW and how much is currently produced by the economy. So we can see the scale of the build out and get an idea if it is possible. I have heard people say yes and people say no but I have not heard any facts.

I'd like to second that request... Not only for PV and its rarer elements though. Couldn't we be making solar heat engines using more plentiful metals & with fresnel lenses using glass or plastic? Instinctively I'm doubtful of PV because of metals scarcity and the expense of its fabrication, but simple heat engines appear much more plausible.

I also have an idea of where to get the plastic for those lenses. The glass is half full, after all.

- Resid the Undergrad

"Couldn't we be making solar heat engines using more plentiful metals"

Sadly, no. The hot end of a Stirling engine needs high temperature alloys. something like Inconel 625, (58% Ni, 21% Cr, 9% Moly, 4% Nb, and only about 5% iron). If you are going to use a Brayton cycle, then you get into the superalloys with high cobalt contents. If you want to stay with steam, then you don't have to get that fancy, but your maximum temperature is only 1000 F or so, which limits your efficiency.

You are correct for thin film PV as well. They use tellurium, indium, or gallium, depending on the cell. None of them are common. In fact, none of them exist as discrete ores, they are all byproducts of mining something else.

Silicon PV uses common materials, although they need a good bit of refining. Silicon is very common. Boron and phosphorous are quite common, and only needed in ppm levels. Tin oxide is nice to have, but you could work around it, same as the silver solders. The module frames are usually aluminum which gets some people in an uproar given how expensive it is, but it's used for convenience. Painted steel would do fine. It would weigh a bit more and require more maintenance. The cells don't care. You could mount them to boards and they would be fine.

Sadly, no.

Just curious, assuming that is correct, what do we currently use those high temperature alloys for that we could stop making. Hint, how about weapons, tanks, military jet turbines, etc... BTW the US government auctions off a lot of that as scrap metal.

There are other ways of thinking about the problem.

If you don't feel like watching the full talk at least watch this part:

Moore's Law: A New Weapon in the Solar Arsenal


I think this question of yours has answers out there and you can find them if you really want to.. I've posted links to PV and Balance of System LCA's here enough times now. But really, I also think that this question you bring up again simply carries some odd, unspoken assumptions to it.

YES, I think we should keep manufacturing PV, and installing milliwatt panels on handheld devices, Kilowatt Arrays on homes and businesses, and Megawatt Installaions to support bigger industry and utilities.. It's portable, extremely simple from an operations point of view, durable and eminently recyclable.

NO, it should not be assumed to be some kind of 'Silver Bullet' that brilliantly replaces our current BAU power supplies, as pretty much nothing can do this.. so challenging it at that level isn't really creating a useful argument.

It's a powerful and super-handy tool, but is also just one single arrow in a very diverse arsenal of options..

Ft Calhoun
Another blow to nuclear.

"The berm's collapse didn't affect the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling, but the power supply was cut after water surrounded the main electrical transformers, the NRC said. Emergency generators powered the plant Sunday while workers tried to restore power."


Amazing that this plays out again after Fukushima. In slow motion, in the USA. I sincerely hope nothing gets worse!

If this has been shut down since the beginning of April, then the decay heat will be something like 0.1% of the full power. See figure 1 on page 4:


I don't think we really know for sure how long after the earthquake they lost cooling at Fukushima. Some have argued that the earthquake broke enough things that cooling capabilities were lost even before the tsunami.

Well, thats "only" a MW, 1000 kWs. Easy piecy to cool off, small technical problems wont cause any problems at all! Sarc off.
Sitting in a (new) lake, reserve generators running, the technician feels safe.
Dont play it too easy and stay sharp, please!

Drudge has been highlighting the "Flash Mob" phenomenon, where groups of predominantly teenagers organize group shoplifting excursions. Two links to stories:



I wonder if this will accelerate the contraction in the number of retail outlets, as retailers' losses increase and as more consumers order online merchandise (partly because of concerns about their safety), in addition to the effect of the slow economy. And of course, actions like this would presumably increase the flight of retailers and grocery stores out of poorer neighborhoods.

This seems very similar to stealing copper wire and other metals--where the financial benefit gained from selling the scrap metal is a tiny fraction of the economic damage caused by the theft.

Chicago seems to be going down the path of many other large cities. I think it is only a matter of time until it turns into the next Detroit.

Even as a non-American, you'd have to be stupid not to understand what you two are saying when combining the words 'detroit' and 'youths'. I'm saying this will only get worse as the unemployment will linger and indeed deepen(the real unemployment, not the useless creative accounting the gov'n does), especially as public workers will get laid off.

I think this factor makes it different from the 1930s, and a huge potential for social strife. Have people seen the unemployment figures for young black men? They're astronomical. Not everyone can go into the military or end up in prison, so you'll only see more and more flash mobs in the coming years.

Remember the aftermath of Katrina?

Nationwide only about 50% of black males graduate from high school. In places like the City of Detroit, it is only 20%.


"Flash Mobs" have been big news since they hit the affluent part of town. They've been going on for a long time in the less-affluent neighborhoods, and been mostly quietly handled.

The proliferation of cell phones and social media sites does play into this, somewhat, but a lot of it is hype - at least, according to our local police.

We also tend to see upticks in activity during the summer time. Our new Police Chief has had strong words to say on gang activity, tagging and miscellaneous other teen disturbances around the city. I have noticed an increased police presence on the El stations and in various public places.

In terms of retailer losses, they are in the high-rent/tourist district in this case, and have insurance. I guess premiums will go up though, and they'll add better security. I don't see this causing a flood of people to go to buying online, due to the nature of the area.

Remember, also, people do live in the city, so many of these stores being hit are in neighborhoods where people walk to shop, dine and hang out.

Edit : it has more the feel of computer hacking or vandalism than a result of a down economy, although several people have been mugged by large groups of youths for an iPod.

Edit 2 : after reading some of the comments below the referenced story, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the pro-gun lobby is deliberately stirring this up, since IL is the only non-concealed-carry state left.

And of course, actions like this would presumably increase the flight of retailers and grocery stores out of poorer neighborhoods.

Maybe remote locking is needed at stores so when flash mob's are trying to leave they can't get out. Include martial law so the flash mobbers can be shot and that really ought to put an end to it. Lock them in and shoot them.

There was an interesting program this afternoon on the BBC program "Global Business":

Club of Rome: Not Built in One Day

In this week's Global Business, Peter Day is in St Gallen, Switzerland where he hears from Dr Eberhard Von Koerber, co-president of The Club of Rome.

Established in 1968 this group of professionals from science, politics and industry, published their report The Limits to Growth, commissioned form a group of experts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which expressed their concerns over short term thinking in international affairs and unbridled consumption of the worlds' natural resources.

Limits to Growth predicted that in the foreseeable future, some vital raw materials would start running out.


Trying to give a brief introduction, insight into what TOD is about and what it has achieved over the years to a friend.

There was ones a number of links to 'basics'-articles in the side-bar - now can't find anything like that, not in the FAQ, nor in the Archive?

- Ransu

Do you mean these?

Energy Sites

The Coming Global Oil Crisis
Die Off
Dry Dipstick
Energy Bulletin
Peak Oil News and Message Boards
Wolf at the Door

Environment & Sustainability Sites

The Daily Green
Green Car Congress
Green Options


Aleklett's Energy Mix
The Archdruid Report
Bit Tooth Energy
Casaubon's Book
Cleantech Blog
Clusterf**k Nation
The Cost of Energy
Culture Change
David Strahan
Early Warning
European Tribune
FT Energy Source
Health After Oil
Our Finite World
Peak Energy (Australia)
Peak Energy (USA)
Question Everything
Resource Insights
The Oil Drum - ANZ

Finance & Economics Blogs

The Big Picture
Calculated Risk
The Crash Course
Ecological Economics
Environmental Economics
Infectious Greed
The Mess That Greenspan Made
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis


The Community Solution
Oil Depletion Analysis Centre
Post Carbon Institute

Still there for Me.

Actually no. Those are all offsite.

I mean links to articles on TOD which have dealt with and summarized basic concepts: the process of oil extraction, oil reserve estimates, unconventional sources, export-land, EROEI, flow rates and bottle necks... Have I been dreaming seeing something like this - was it years ago?

You can find an oildrum archive for 2005-2010 here.

Australian carbon tax cash to flow to families: PM

Prime Minister Julia Gillard Sunday moved to reassure Australians that her planned carbon tax would not hurt their finances, saying 90 percent of families would be compensated for higher costs. AFP - Prime Minister Julia Gillard Sunday moved to reassure Australians that her planned carbon tax would not hurt their finances, saying 90 percent of families would be compensated for higher costs.

Labor leader Gillard has been plunging in the polls since she announced plans for a carbon tax earlier this year, seemingly contradicting an election campaign statement there would be no such tax under her government.

She said Sunday she was determined to tackle climate change by placing a price on carbon pollution, which would be paid by the country's major industrial polluters, and using this money to assist families. "So I can confirm today that nine out of 10 households will get assistance -- that's seven million Australians getting assistance," Gillard told Channel 10's "Meet The Press" programme.

BP Global -> Reports and publications -> Statistical Review of World Energy 2011 -> Review by energy type -> Electricity
BP 2011

Total world electricity generation grew by 5.9% in 2010, the fastest growth in our data (since 1990) Electricity grew faster than both GDP and primary energy, as it has done for most of the past ten years

Isn't that cheery? To think the world is doing so great that we have to compare 2010 to the crater that 2009 was.

BP also provides the data in PDF format only so it's very hard to do math on. However I've taken the liberty of liberating the data into a spreadsheet and making some derivative calculations with it.

BP PDF original transformed into Google docs spreadsheet:

Same with some derivative calculations:

Notable is the additional column of percent change showing 2010 compared to 2008 (BP gives you 2010 vs 2009 percent change.)

Also at the bottom are my additions of "Non-Asian Pacific" and "Non-China".

Where does the beautiful 5.9% growth go when you compare non-Asian Pacific 2008 to 2010? It turns into 0.4%

If all the growth is in Asian Pacific just think about what 2011 will look like when Japan is measured and China is like this:

Power shortage hits offices, malls in Shanghai
By Wu Yiyao and Li Xinzhu / China Daily / June 20, 2011

SHANGHAI - Shopping malls and office buildings in Shanghai are being urged to close on extremely hot days this summer to save power for residents' use in the midst of a shortage of supply, according to a recent notice issued by the Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company.

The unprecedented power-rationing plan for 3,000 non-industrial users has been approved by the Shanghai municipal government but is not mandatory.

The Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company is also calling on non-industrial users to set the temperature of their air conditioners above 26 C and says office buildings with power loads of more than 100 kilowatts may be asked to turn off their air conditioners for an hour on days when the temperature rises above 35 C.

On days when the mercury rises above 37 C, non-industrial users are being called on to shut to ensure there is enough power for residents.

In addition, as many as 24,000 electricity power users, most of which are industrial users such as factories, will be subjected to power rationing this summer. The number of affected users is higher than during any summer since 2003. ...

The poor people want to displace the rich people. Good for them.

Exponential growth with finite resources does not change though.

Do you think 0.4% electricity supply growth would be enough if we switched to electric cars?

I think if we go to electric cars we will need to double the carrying capacity of the electric lines. This is something no one mentions. How much copper will that consume? How much will that cost? Who wants the high voltage lines running through their neighborhood doubled up?

I much prefer synthetic liquid fuels made using electricity at the source with no need for additional electric distribution.

We do have enough coal to double electric generation in the US over the next 40 year (30?) but then we will need to ramp it down to zero over the next 10 years because we run out of coal. Coal powered cars are not my favorite.

But my friends all say we will be saved when we run out of oil by electric cars. I'm hoping they will be flying ones with hot tubs in them too!


Yes most American have no idea how electricity is made. For most it is a cargo cult. It is magic it comes out of the wall. If you want more just use a multiple outlet strip attached to the outlet.

Mine will use an iFusion pod that I just put some garbage into. Just like that movie Back To The Future.

I think if we go to electric cars we will need to double the carrying capacity of the electric lines. This is something no one mentions. How much copper will that consume? How much will that cost? Who wants the high voltage lines running through their neighborhood doubled up?

Edpell, why do you keep on making these sorts of silly statements? If you haven't learned the answers from what you read here, then use Google, or even run some numbers yourself.

I'll take these in reverse order.

if there are already transmission lines in a corridor, then doubling them, or upping voltage etc is not really that big a deal. The big deal is when you want to create a new corridor.

Transmission lines are made of aluminium ,. not copper.
see here for more details under "conductors" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overhead_power_line

So, that leaves us with the question of doubling the electric grid - what is your basis for that statement? Have you even looked for information?

My first google search turned up this one;

Which says, page xv of the exec summary;

Most regions will need to build additional capacity or utilize demand response to meet the added
demand from PHEVs in the evening charging scenarios, especially by 2030 when PHEVs have a
larger share of the installed vehicle base and make a larger demand on the system. The added
demands of evening charging, especially at high power levels, can impact the overall demand
peaks and reduce the reserve margins for a region’s system. Night recharging has little potential
to influence peak loads, but will still influence the amount and type of generation.

So, if we charge our EV's at night - which coincidentally happens to be when we aren't driving them, then we minimise the problems. simple, really. It is this rush for charging stations everywhere that might cause local grid problems, but I don;t thunk they will amount to much peak load.

And in 2009, this from the EV program director of Southern California Edison, LA's electric utility;

Kjaer is less concerned about transmission or generation being overtaxed, as long as consumers are taught to charge their plug-in cars at night, during off-peak demand periods, to smooth the load. Kjaer said improving distribution is the key infrastructure challenge for utilities, aside from creating a network of charging stations.

"We're talking about the last 10 feet" between the house and the transformer, he said. "It's the last 10 or 20 feet that we've got to work on.

I am not sure if you are deliberately trying to erect straw man arguments, or if you are more interested in just asking questions than the answers to them, or if you genuinely have no idea.

You made the same statements about coal a few days ago - did you not see the responses? The US has hundreds of years worth of coal - largest reserves in the world - some of it is harder to get than today's but it is there.

I respectfully suggest you make an effort to try and answer some of your questions before posting - then you might only post the intelligent questions. We have all come here to learn something, but making silly statements like these doesn;t really help.

You say "the US has hundreds of years of coal". So there is no peak energy issue for hundreds of years. This is not something I have heard here on TOD. Do we all agree? I do not. So all we need to do is have electric transport and we are good for hundreds of years. Except for those pesky GW folks. Are you happy to burn hundreds of years of coal (with annual growth)? If there is so much coal and it is burnable with acceptable consequences than why are we bothering to have any discussion at TOD?

Well, have a look at the listings of coal reserves, from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#World_coal_reserves),

The US has proven, recoverable reserves of 237bn tons, and a consumption rate of just under one bn per year, so 241 years worth of reserves. That is a LOT of coal.

This does not mean peak energy is solved, and I never said that. Peak energy is the peak rate of production. who knows when that will happen for US coal?

So all we need to do is have electric transport and we are good for hundreds of years. Except for those pesky GW folks.

if we go to electric transport, we probably will indeed be good for some time - but things won't be the same as today. EV's are smaller, and can;t be driven as far, so for longer trips, you have to use something else, like an electric train. Planes don;t work on electricity either, so for domestic trips, take the train. For intercontinental, a coal powered ship can do the job - this has been done before.

In an all electric world, we would probably have less person-miles travelled than today and certainly much less energy per mile. Also, all this electric demand supports the build out of renewables, most of which produce electricity. So it is likely the CO2 emissions would decrease in an all electric economy, just long distance travel will take a bit longer.

You plan of synthetic liquid fuels, on the other hand, will increase CO2. If a cheap coal to methanol process comes on stream next year, supplying methanol for the equivalent of $1.50/gal, what do you think will happen to fuel consumption and miles travelled? Synthetic liquid fuels will prolong the ICE car economy, and create more CO2 than an electric system ever would.

If there is so much coal and it is burnable with acceptable consequences than why are we bothering to have any discussion at TOD?

Why are we discussing it? Because, presently, we don;t have an electric economy, (we have an oil economy), and coal isn't used for coal to liquids, though there are many ideas on how to achieve these two things. As for acceptable consequences, if you mean climate change - that isn't the focal point of discussions at TOD - but you can go to realclimate.org for that.

Personally, I don't think our world will be able to resist using coal, no matter what - it is just too cheap and easy to get and use - so there will always be some countries that do it, even if others are able to transition to renewables. Kinda the equivalent of a fridge full of chocolate - it's hard to resist, and the negative consequences of eating too much of it happen over a long period, and may not even be noticeable. So if your roommate decides they don;t want to eat chocolate any more, but it's still there, are you going to help them throw it out, or eat some of it yourself?

But at least, if we have an electric economy powered by coal, we won't be having wars over oil in the middle east.

Can you give a source for "hundreds of years of coal" with growth I assume 3% per year? The folks at Uppsalla University do not get the same answers you do. I am using their numbers. Is that enough coal to displace oil and nuclear for hundreds of years with population growth and increased affluence (more usage per person)? Can we also supply the whole world? Does the world have enough coal for hundreds of years? Hundreds of years with growth? How large can we grow the population and keep the energy supplied for hundreds of years? 20 billion? With a doubling every 20 years 200 years would be 10 doubleings or a factor 1000 so 7000 billion people supplied for hundreds of years?????

Is that enough coal to displace oil and nuclear for hundreds of years with population growth and increased affluence (more usage per person)?

So now you are wanting to replace nukes too? I thought we were talking about electricity to replace oil in ICE cars?
As for affluence, do you really think the world going forward will be more, or less, affluent than today?

Can we also supply the whole world?

No, and why should we try? It is much easier for the rest of the world to face up to, and solve their problems, if they know that no one else will do it for them. This same logic applies to the US and oil consumption, though the politicos refuse to face this reality.

Does the world have enough coal for hundreds of years?

Yes, if they us it at the approporiate rate to last for hundreds of years.

Hundreds of years with growth?
Then no, but who says growth, if it happens, must e fuelled by coal alone? The idea, remember, is an all eletric economy, which is more energy efficient than today, and electricity can be supplied by many different ways other than coal. And we don;t need to use as much electricity per person (for non transport needs) as we do today. There is a LOT of waste that can be trimmed, if need be. Problem is, presently, most people don;t see the need, or want someone else to give up first.

How large can we grow the population and keep the energy supplied for hundreds of years? 20 billion? With a doubling every 20 years 200 years would be 10 doubleings or a factor 1000 so 7000 billion people supplied for hundreds of years?????

Who knows, and why do you want to grow the population to these ridiculous levels? What counts is how much any country can sustain itself -because no other country will do the sustaining for them.

What I do know is that your x-to synthetic liquid fuels will not supply this growth either. So now that we can agree that exponential growth will no continue forever, we can get back to how best to supply, energy for the present world. Nothing can supply infinite growth, so what's the point in talking about that?

Can we also supply the whole world?

No, and why should we try?

Profit. That coal is going to be worth a lot more exported to people that really need it and are willing to pay, than Americans demanding cheap, easy availability. The coal won't last long then at all.

We would need something like 2.5% per year to 3.5% per year growth depending on how fast we want to deploy electric cars. That is going to be a huge amount of mercury released from the huge increase in coal burning. I wonder what the autism rate will be in 2050.

Two questions:

1) I have read that many electricity generating plants cannot be throttled down and back up very quickly or efficiently. Electricity demand is lower at night than during the day. I have read that balancing electricity supply against loads on the power grid is a very necessary and exacting requirement.

What happens to the excess electricity at night?

I have read that the large number of streetlights in the U.S. can be partially attributed to electric utilities wanting a paying customer for some of their nighttime excess electricity.

Do utilities in fact reduce supply (reduce output from power plants at night) or do they shunt the excess electricity into banks of resistors and/or into large grounding rods?

2). If there is excess electricity (without a paying customer) at night, how much electricity is potentially available to charge EVs?

Another note same subject (nighttime electricity): I thought the idea of providing air conditioning to large buildings by using off-peak electricity to make ice over nigh which is then consumed providing cooling for at least part of the day was an intriguing idea.

On last: If PV becomes sufficient affordable (at least in a relative sense compared to electricity from other sources), then perhaps wide-spread, large-scale PV on rooftops could pick up where the ice-cooled A/C leave off during the day, s well as help charge EVs.

Lest anyone accuse me of being Joe Cargo Cultist...I would anticipate EVs being small vehicles, with the Prius/Volt types representing the luxury vehicles, and many people having plastic golf carts with Styrofoam bumpers which have top speeds of 35 mph and are used sparingly, for essential commutes to work and essential grocer/provisioning trips. Even with all that, the situation may be that these lower-speed fancier golf carts may be carrying carpoolers (at least one extra person) due to limits to energy availability in the future.

I'll try to answer one part of your questions.

Do utilities in fact reduce supply (reduce output from power plants at night) or do they shunt the excess electricity into banks of resistors and/or into large grounding rods?

No they don't have banks of resistors, or any other way of dumping excess electricity except onto the grid.

If a plant is caught with too much power, if it is still in the form of steam, they will vent it into the atmosphere. and slow the fuel into the combustion chamber. A hydro plant will close the wicket gate to match generation to demand. And a nuke will insert the control rods.

I have read that the large number of streetlights in the U.S. can be partially attributed to electric utilities wanting a paying customer for some of their nighttime excess electricity.

That is true, without streetlights operators would have to completely shut down units at night. Something they really don't like doing due to the damage thermo cycling does.

Something they really don't like doing due to the damage thermo cycling does

More likely, they become spinning reserve: minimal fuel consumption to maintain loadless RPMs, and plant temperatures. Of course the fuel consumed is completely wasted. GE's newly designed gas turbine (the 500 something) is planned to be able to switch on/off, and achieve 60% efficiency to boot. They claim a ramp rate of 50MW per minute, so I take it roughly ten minutes to turn on/off. The mix of fossil fueled backup plants will need to evolve as the fraction of renewables goes up.

A small aerodynamically shaped vehicle going no more than 35mph, probably needs no more power than a strong bicyclist. It might even be able to run directly off a solar panel given full sunlight. You've hit the real key for affordable electric transportaion, downsizing and downspeeding decreases the energy and battery demands by a very large factor. I wouldn't recommend golf-cart style -too aerodynamically poor.

I'm not keen on EVs but it seems the key to a wholesale shift to alternate modes of transport is the speed limit. If road speeds were set at a 30mph maximum then all manner of vehicles could be used, plus the addition of hyper efficient FF vehicles.

I wouldn't recommend golf-cart style -too aerodynamically poor.

Yep! However a solar powered electric assist velomobile fits the bill perfectly!


There's a lot of scrap metal in your car, recycle it...

BP also provides the data in PDF format only so it's very hard to do math on. However I've taken the liberty of liberating the data into a spreadsheet and making some derivative calculations with it.

BP do provide the data in .xls format


Thanks, I didn't think to look for an all-in-one spreadsheet.

In today's NY Times:

Oil Oozes Through Your Life

Since petroleum replaced whale oil as a main fuel source more than a century ago, chemical companies and refineries have found a startling range of uses for it, from asphalt to vanilla flavoring in ice cream to pills from the drugstore. It has oozed into everyday life, so reducing dependency is a more complicated proposition than some might think.

The Greenbrier Resort bought the rolling stock of the former American Orient Express and they are going to have their own private railcars transport guests to and from Washington D.C.:


I sometimes wonder if the Feds are smarter than we think, and they are trying to make air travel so unpleasant that it causes a renaissance in passenger rail.

No. They're just bureaucrats supervised by posturing politicians. If ever there is a renaissance in passenger rail, then Congresscritters like Charles Schumer will kill it off soon enough with theatrical, time-consuming airport-style "security".

Plus, if there's to be a renaissance, the fares are going to have to be a lot cheaper than $650 a person for a 500-mile round trip, $1.30/pax-mi or most people will simply have to drive, or, failing that, stay home. Even the Japanese Shinkansen are normally only around half that.

Megabus is much cheaper than Amtrack.


But now with the SPR release producing a sharp drop in near month oil prices, a big contango is getting reestablished, and that condition is likely to prevent the goals of the SPR release from being achieved. The reason is that big contangos create an incentive to take away short term supply, because a trader can make money buying up the product on the spot market and storing it for future sale at a higher price. And that trader can even lock in the price at which he will sell the oil in the future by selling a contract for future delivery.


I love the "High-Tech" stuff that these guys use in these flood-proof nuke plants.


Cooper, owned by the Nebraska Public Power District, is still running. Managers brought in two tanker-loads full of extra diesel fuel and have stocked up on all the other “consumable” materials the plant uses, including hydrogen and carbon dioxide, in case truck access becomes difficult.

At Cooper on Sunday, plant officials led Gregory Jaczko, the N.R.C. chairman, led him past thousands of feet of new berms that would hold back the river if it overtopped the levees, past buildings where every doorway was barricaded with four-foot high water barriers that are intended to survive even if an earthquake hits during a flood, and into the building that holds the diesel generators, which would supply vital electricity if the water knocked out the power grid.

Getting into that space required some doing. First, Mr. Jaczko climbed over a makeshift metal staircase to get over the flood barrier at the entrance to the building. Then, past a security guard with a military-style rifle, he stepped through a doorway into a small hallway blocked with a four-foot high flood barrier. Visitors climbed three steps up a plastic-and-aluminum A-frame ladder, and then took a long step unto a temporary wooden platform, stepped over the four-foot-high barrier unto another platform, and then down a ladder on the other side.

“And if the water gets in here, what would be the result?” asked Mr. Jaczko.

“We’ve got a sump pump over here,” said Dan Goodman, the assistant operations manager, leading him around to the other side of the giant diesel generator which is the size of a tractor-trailer truck.

Hope the sump pump can swallow a whole river. The plant just got flooded:


AP News: Flood berm collapses at Nebraska nuclear plant

The federal commission had inspectors at the plant 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Omaha when the 2,000-foot (600-meter) berm collapsed about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Water surrounded the auxiliary and containment buildings at the plant, it said in a statement.

The berm's collapse didn't affect the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling, but the power supply was cut after water surrounded the main electrical transformers, the NRC said. Emergency generators powered the plant until an off-site power supply was connected Sunday afternoon, according to OPPD.

No, that's another plant (Ft. Calhoun) 90 miles upstream that got flooded. There are TWO plants in Nebraska that are under flood danger! I bet they got the sump pump at Home Depot, along with the ladders and wooden platform. Anybody supporting nuke power is an idiot, this is how they are "designed"!

Remember, this plant (Cooper) is still running at full power. Thankfully the Ft. Calhoun plant upstream was shut down for refueling in April. Only got to keep the overloaded spent fuel pools cool there.

Great! More spent fuel pools being cooled by diesel generator during a flood. Somebody nicked their rubber balloon and deflated it.

Waters Breach Berm at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska

A berm at a nuclear power plant in Fort Calhoun, Neb., collapsed early this morning, allowing Missouri River flood waters to reach containment buildings and transformers and forcing the shutdown of electrical power.

Tonight, backup generators are cooling the nuclear material at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.

The plant has not operated since April, and officials say there is no danger to the public.

A spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District, Jeff Hanson, told The Associated Press that the breached berm wasn't critical to protecting the plant, though a crew will look at whether it can be patched.

"That was an additional layer of protection we put in," Hanson said.

Nevertheless, federal inspectors are on the scene, and the federal government is so concerned the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is headed to the plant.


OK, they've got external power hooked up again. Water was leaking under the concrete berm around the transformer yard. I am absolutely astounded by anybody that thinks these sorts of things are OK in any way! You have to be totally blind to accept this.

At least the reactor was not restarted after the April refueling shutdown. Someone was actually anticipating the flood! So the reactor vessel is probably no hotter than the spentfuel pools.

I think its highly likely (90%ish) we'll get through without a meltdown. But it certainly underscores the threat to our onfrastructure brought on by climate change. We can no longer assume designed for a thousand year flood is adequate.

"Someone was actually anticipating the flood! "
And he can anticipate the next one too. I think the main thing to learn from this is that we can no longer set up nuclear plants in the Missouri watershed.

China backing nations' battle against debt crisis

After announcing the purchase of Hungarian bonds at the start of his visit to Europe, Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday further assured nations in Central and Eastern Europe about Beijing's commitment to support their efforts to beat the debt crisis.

"China is a responsible long-term investor in the European financial market. We support the economic and financial adjustment measures adopted by Central and Eastern European countries and have confidence in their financial markets in the future," Wen said while addressing a forum to encourage business ties between China and the region at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The premier announced earlier on Saturday, after meeting his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, that China will consider buying a "certain amount" of Hungarian bonds and continue supporting Europe and the euro.

Interesting, when I was in Budapest last year I was struck by the fact that there seemed to be a lot of Chinese, merchants at the main market, speaking broken Hungarian...

LOL! BTW, I found this piece of historical trivia that I'm not sure is true but if it is the Chinese should shouldn't mess with the Magyars or the Huns...

The Huns, also called “Hun”, “Kunyu”, “Xiongnu”, “Hung”, “Hunyu”, and more names in Chinese, were a trouble to the ancient Chinese, much the same way as Germania being a trouble to the Romans. Unlike the Romans, the Chinese built the “great wall” to defend invasions from Huns (The wall was built by different Chinese countries in the time of Zanguo, and finally finished by Qin dynasty).

My recollection is that DNA studies indicate that the current Hungarians are mostly the original agriculturalist/pastoralists of the Hungarian plain, and that little of their DNA can be traced to either the Hun or Magyar invasions.

The American Empire: World(War) without end, Amen:


"Aleklett says coal production will peak about 2030, and China is peaking about now."
from http://aleklett.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/scary-new-best-friend-for-polit...

Peak coal in 2030? What year do you see peak coal in? I will go with Aleklett. 2030 - 2011 = 19 years it does not look like we have hundreds of years of coal.

here http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:lf9L-0fnZJsJ:www.aspousa.org/2...

is there big presentation on peak coal.

The US uses 9E19 joules per year of energy. According to Uppsalla University the US has 6E21 joules of coal. If coal was used for everything and we had zero growth we could power off of coal for 67 years. But immigration will double the US population within 60 years. So we will need to double our energy generation to stand still. All the other sources of course will add their contribution hydro, nuclear, US oil, US gas, US solar, US wind so maybe 67 years. Then we are on just US oil, gas, solar, and wind. This will have us increasing coal burning by a factor of four. Coal plants emit mercury. Would like to know the medical cost of all that emitted mercury. They also emit radioactive material. Wonder what health effects that will have.

E, what is your point here?

We don't use coal for all the electricity today (just on half), so why are you assuming that all electricity will be coal in the future?

And, peak coal does not mean the end of coal. Even if peak coal occurs next year, that simply is the max rate of coal; usage - as it decreases, it could last, at lower rates, for hundreds of years.

And how do you know that;
1) population will double in 60 yrs, and
2) energy use, per capita, will continue to increase?

As an example, Japan is showing the opposite to both these trends - they could equally happen here.

You really are in "sky is falling" mode today.

And how do you know that;
1) population will double in 60 yrs

I'll let E answer your reply to his post, however the above question is answered by this article: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/201162213204956895...

The world's population is growing by roughly 80 million people per year, and at the current rates of birth and death, the world's population is on a trajectory to double in 49 years.

Now of course that does not mean it will, just that it is projected to, however 49 years to double is even less than 60 years.

However, there are other concerns like climate change, in which case if it continues to alter our population will certainly be controlled without our permission.

Parker is concerned about what the future has in store for us if climate change continues unabated, as it currently appears to be doing, given that most governments continue to fail to implement an actionable plan to avert it.

"People think technology is going to save us from climate change, but there is no technology on the horizon that will allow us to adapt ourselves out of this mess," Parker said, "We can physiologically adapt to higher temperatures, but all that adaptation is not going to save us unless we also get the climate stabilised."

"If this continues unabated this planet will not be habitable by the species that are on it, including humans," she concluded, "It will be a very different planet. One that is not very conducive to human life."

And you thought he was in the sky is falling mode.