Drumbeat: June 29, 2011

IEA eyes oil release 'extension'

The International Energy Agency(IEA) could decide by mid-July whether the release of strategic oil reserves needs to be extended for a month or two, an official said.

The move would be in defiance of Opec’s criticism of the IEA’s decision last week to release 60 million barrels over an initial 30-day period to fill the gap in supplies left by the disruption to Libya's output.

Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the 28-member agency, said he believed the release would be temporary since demand would likely drop in the fourth quarter.

Upstream oil, gas project costs rising fast -IHS

CALGARY (Reuters) - The costs of building and operating upstream oil and gas facilities rose by the largest margin since the recession over just six months, according to consultancy IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Construction costs, measured by an IHS CERA index, rose 5 percent between the third quarter of 2010 and the first quarter because of rising costs of steel, equipment and labor.

Operating costs of oil and gas facilities inched up 2 percent in that time as higher oil prices pulled up the costs of chemicals, and transportation and labor became more expensive, the research group said on Wednesday.

Expectations of stronger oil and gas demand is buoying costs as exploration and production (E&P) companies race to get new hydrocarbon sources into production.

Oil is back

It was less than a week ago that the price of crude oil was pummelled, following a decision by the International Energy Agency to release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves – a blow to energy speculators and anyone else who entertained visions of triple-digit oil prices. And now? On Wednesday afternoon, oil traded close to $95 (U.S.) a barrel, up about $2 and marking a 4.7 per cent rebound from last week’s lows. That’s right, the price of oil is now higher than it was before the IEA announcement.

U.S. oil refining capacity highest in 29 years-EIA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. oil refining capacity increased by 152,000 barrels per day by the beginning of this year to the highest level in nearly three decades, but refining operations remain well below historical highs seen in the 1990s, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

There were 148 refineries operating in the U.S. at the beginning of 2011 with a capacity to produce 17.7 million barrels of petroleum products a day, up 0.9 percent from the pervious year, the EIA said.

Lower 48 U.S. April natgas output up from March-EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gross natural gas production in April in the lower 48 U.S. states rose 1.1 percent from upwardly revised March output, its second straight monthly gain, data released on Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

Shell Shares Safe Shale Principles

Today, from the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival, Shell makes its Global Onshore Tight/Shale Oil and Gas Operating Principles available to the public with examples of how the company delivers them. Shell has a rigorous set of five global operating principles that provide a tested framework for protecting water, air, biodiversity, and the communities in which Shell operates.

Shell is openly sharing these operating principles to address public concern about tight/shale oil and gas development - especially regarding hydraulic fracturing – encourage feedback and challenge from our stakeholders, and drive continuous improvement. Shell also supports regulation and enforcement that reinforces responsible operating practices and continues to improve the industry's overall performance.

Debate on Gas Drillers' Impact Fee Put Off

Hours after a threatened veto, Republicans who control the state House pulled the plug Tuesday on a planned debate over a local impact fee for natural gas drillers, saying they'll take up the issue this fall.

The 180-degree turn came as lawmakers worked to put the final pieces of a $27.15 billion budget into place so they could send it to Gov. Tom Corbett before the new fiscal year starts on Friday.

Fracking Foes Resort to Rest Area Prank Signs

The professionally printed sign bearing the banner message "SAFE TO DRINK" and affixed to a drinking fountain in the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Midway Service Plaza looked official at first glance, even if it seemed to state the obvious.

But something didn't look quite right to Tonya Markiewicz, who stopped in for a drink June 8 while on a trip to Philadelphia and New York City, and it had nothing to do with the stream of cold water arching from the fountain.

The message of the sign, which bore what purported to be a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection logo in the upper left hand corner and has since been discovered in several other turnpike service plazas, was coyly equivocal. It read: "This water is most likely safe. If you have any concerns about contamination due to hydraulic fracturing, expose water to flame."

U.S. oil firms see no impact from tropical storm

(Reuters) - Tropical Storm Arlene was too far south and too weak to affect operations at U.S. Gulf of Mexico refineries, offshore platforms and drilling rigs, oil companies said on Wednesday.

Arlene, the first named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, formed Tuesday afternoon in the Bay of Campeche off the Mexico's coast, was forecast to come ashore Thursday morning south of Tampico, Mexico.

Alberta posts smaller deficit as royalties climb

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Western Canadian province of Alberta, a major exporter of oil to the United States, posted a C$3.4 billion ($3.5 billion) budget deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year on Wednesday, C$1.4 billion under its February estimate, as oil royalties rose.

Nigeria oil reform needs further review -outgoing min

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's energy reform bill will need further revision by lawmakers, the outgoing oil minister told the Senate on Wednesday, which could add to years of delays that have cost billions of dollars in lost investment.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is a mammoth piece of legislation aimed at overhauling Africa's biggest energy industry but its wide-ranging policy plans have prompted drawn-out negotiations between stakeholders.

A Russian Insult to Belarus, via Airwave

MOSCOW — Russia’s irritation with its neighbor Belarus became more apparent on Wednesday after a state-controlled television station here broadcast a documentary damning the Belarussian president for mismanaging the economy, after which a Russian utility cut off about an eighth of his country’s electricity, claiming it had not been paid.

A Belarussian utility was able to compensate for the loss with other sources of electricity, and no blackouts were reported.

Medvedev calls for higher subsoil tax on gas sector

The tax burden on the gas sector needs to be further increased to boost budget revenues, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in his budget address to parliament on Wednesday.

Russia’s Norilsk Plans to Invest $370 Million to Double Arctic Shipments

OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the largest Russian mining company, plans to spend $370 million to double its shipments across the Arctic Ocean by 2016 as global warming allows the route to rival the journey through the Suez Canal.

Norilsk will raise deliveries of metal and coal through the Northern Sea Route from Russia’s Murmansk port, near Finland, to China and South Korea, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Sergey Buzov said. The company shipped 10,000 metric tons in 2010.

AP Interview: Shell President Odum optimistic on chances for 2012 Arctic waters drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Shell Oil President Marvin Odum says he has faith that his company can develop vast reserves in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast.

But he says he'd like to get on with exploratory drilling to tap into a resource that could be crucial to meeting the country's energy needs.

Protesters, police clash in Cairo

CAIRO — Protesters clashed with Egyptian security forces for a second day Wednesday over the pace of police brutality prosecutions and other grievances, raising the prospect that the country’s popular upheaval is far from over.

The clashes, which erupted outside the Interior Ministry late Tuesday, have left more than 1,000 people injured, the government said. It was some of the worst violence since the 18-day revolt that erupted five months ago and eventually forced President Hosni Mubarak to cede power to a military council.

Libya rebels 'to review oil deals'

Libya's rebel council said today it would review all contracts, including lucrative oil deals, signed under Muammar Gaddafi's government were it to come to power and axe any where it found signs of corruption.

Iraqi Kurdish leader promises extra, free power supply in summer to disputed city

BAGHDAD — The president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region said Wednesday he is giving free electricity to the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, where he wants to wrest control from the central government in Baghdad.

President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to give the residents there about three additional hours of electricity each day, which is to be doubled to six hours next month.

Abu Dhabi bonds sale delayed over Greek crisis

Dolphin Energy has delayed plans to sell bonds because of market volatility caused by the debt crisis in Greece.

The Abu Dhabi energy producer was expected to announce the pricing after hiring banks to hold investor meetings last week.

BP comes out ahead in Alaska spill appeal

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court sided with BP Plc (BP.L) in a securities fraud lawsuit arising from a 2006 Alaska oil spill, but the case isn't over.

BP discovered two oil spills in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 2006, and a corporate subsidiary later pled guilty to a single count of violating the Clean Water Act, according to court documents.

A proposed class of investors sued the company, alleging that BP knew about corrosion in pipelines but did not take corrective action.

Peak Oil Investments

Unfortunately, U.S. sentiment toward domestic oil production is a case of foggy optimism.

Look at the facts: U.S. production peaked at just slightly over 10 million barrels per day in November 1970. Domestic production that year averaged approximately 9.6 million barrels per day. That's it.

There's no getting around it. To think we'll ever return to our glory days is nonsense. It won't happen.

Yet despite this decline, we still see rampant optimism.

Oil: The Biggest Bear Market Rally of All

Second, the long-term case or "well known fact" as we like to call it becomes universally accepted. In this "bear market" rally there are two widely accepted long-term cases. Peak oil theory is the belief that all of the oil in the world is known and peak production is very soon. In this logic, higher future demand outstrips supply and prices soar. Malthusians like Jeremy Grantham and numerous Texas oil barons support this theory. The other universally accepted long-term case is emerging market economic growth leads to demand hugely outpacing supply. We call this the "more people" theory. China has seen uninterrupted growth of around 10% per year for 20 years without any significant economic contraction. Those that champion this long-term case believe that the command economy executed by a totalitarian communist government has divorced this country of 1.3 billion people from the laws of economics and economic cycles.

TEPCO execs weather 6-hour storm of fury

Harsh questioning by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shareholders over the Fukushima nuclear crisis and anxiety over the survival of the company dragged out the utility's annual meeting to more than six hours.

More than 9,000 investors flocked to the meeting at a Tokyo hotel Tuesday. TEPCO had prepared five separate conference rooms in anticipation of a large crowd, but with only 6,500 seats available, many shareholders had to stand or listen in from the corridors.

TEPCO should heed its angry shareholders

What lessons can Tokyo Electric Power Co. take from its own shareholders' recent stern criticism as it reforms its management? The utility has a heavy responsibility to take these lessons on board.

TEPCO's annual shareholders meeting held Tuesday in Tokyo became stormy due to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. About 9,300 shareholders attended, nearly three times the number at last year's meeting. The session lasted more than six hours. Both the number of attendees and the length of the meeting greatly surpassed the utility's past records.

10 Existential Threats To Global Agriculture

I tend to be a “glass half full” sort of person, particularly about the prospects of successfully feeding the 9-10 billion people we expect by 2050. My optimism is based on daily contact with the innovative public and private entities who develop technology for agriculture. It is also based on the track record of small and large farmers who integrate these new options into their production systems. Farming has the largest physical “footprint” of any human enterprise, so it will never be without consequences. I believe that feeding 10 billion people well while preserving the environment in within the realm of possibility. Even so, I have some concerns about how we are going to pull this off.

The Wealth of Nature - A New Book by John Michael Greer

Greer does not believe in a sudden, total collapse into the sort of feral existence depicted in the film The Road, he thinks it will be more of a long, slow decline, punctuated by periods of "business as usual" and economic crisies, as the tertiary economy reveals itself to be an illusion, and the amount of real wealth represented by money contracts to more concretely represent the amount of material goods in the world (the tertiary economy is worth trillions of dollars more than all the goods and services in the world put together).

One of the most interesting and radical parts of the book is where he suggests penalties and remedies for the corporations that degrade our environment, which consists of prosecuting their principals, where necessary, but also "imprisoning" their wealth, for a term, so that the money generated can be used constructively to benefit society and form a tax on predation by corporate shareholders. He suggests that the $250 billion poured away during the 2008 financial crash, would have been much more valuably employed rebuilding the U.S. Railroad system. Every natural resource of any kind used by the secondary economy should be subject to an extraction or pollution tax to more accurately reflect its loss to the commons of humanity.

UAE Minister: IEA Move Less Effective Than Gulf Production Hike

STOCKHOLM -(Dow Jones)- The International Energy Agency's release of 60 million barrels of oil to offset the disruption of Libyan production is less effective than a move by some Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, to increase supplies, the UAE's foreign minister said Wednesday.

"The decision by several Gulf countries to increase supplies to the market, we believe that it is more sustainable and effective," Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said here. "I am not arguing against the agency's decision, but I am not sure how effective it will be."

The minister also said his country very much regretted the "non-decision" by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries earlier June, after the oil producing group failed to reach agreement on raising its output quotas.

Saudi influence should calm an angry OPEC

Will OPEC retaliate against the western countries’ release of strategic oil stocks by tightening its own supply to drive prices higher again? That question has haunted the oil market for the past week.

If you pay attention to the rhetoric, the answer could be yes. Abdullah al-Badri, OPEC secretary-general, has made strong comments against the International Energy Agency. “I hope this practice will be stopped and stopped immediately,” he said. “We don’t see a good reason to release this quantity and I hope the IEA will refrain from using this practice.”

Yet a closer look at the fundamentals of the oil market, recent price action and the silence of Gulf countries suggest that Saudi Arabia and its allies at the OPEC cartel will make good on their promise to boost output.

Kuwait Approves Spending $14.5 Billion to Build Nation’s Largest Refinery

Kuwait may seek private investors to help build its largest oil refinery after a government council revived the 4 billion-dinar ($14.5 billion) project, which stalled two years ago amid political opposition.

Philippines to seek more oil in South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines - The government said Wednesday it would grant more permits to private firms to search for oil and natural gas in the South China Sea, where it has a simmering territorial dispute with China.

A total of 15 exploration contracts would be offered Thursday for mostly offshore prospects off the western island of Palawan, the energy department said in a statement.

Gazprom could raise investments to $44 bln in 2011

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gas group Gazprom could raise investments in 2011 to 1.24 trillion roubles ($44.2 billion) from the 1.18 trillion earlier planned for the year, a company official said on Wednesday.

Venezuela gets 1.5 bln dollars oil loan from Japanese banks

Venezuela's state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has signed a financial agreement with Japanese banks to secure a loan of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, the government said Tuesday.

According to Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's energy and oil minister, the loan would be provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and eight other Japanese banks, along with two Japanese trading houses.

Report: 25 years since global temps were below average

WASHINGTON — It's been more than 300 months since the average global average temperature was below average, scientists and the U.S. government said in the annual State of the Climate report released Tuesday.

The experts tracked 41 climate indicators during 2010, four more than in the previous year, and "they all show a continued tendency," said Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center. "The indicators show unequivocally that the world continues to warm."

Halliburton eyes big opportunity in Polish shale gas

(Reuters) - U.S. oilfield service firm Halliburton Co sees a big growth opportunity in Poland where oil majors are hoping to open up a shale gas basin, the company's senior vice president for Europe and Africa said on Wednesday.

"You've got Chevron kicking off their shale gas in Poland, you've got all the majors getting their drilling plans together - Talisman , ENI , Exxon . It'll be pretty active next year in drilling in Poland," said Brady Murphy on the sidelines of a conference in London.

OCP Ecuador Plans Pipeline Extension to Gather Colombian Oil, CEO Says

Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA, operator of the nation’s heavy crude pipeline, plans to extend its operations into Colombia as production ramps up, Chief Executive Officer Andres Mendizabal said.

Russia cuts off electricity to crisis-hit Belarus

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia cut electricity supplies to Belarus on Wednesday over $43 million in unpaid debts, upping pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko who is grappling with one of the worst economic crises of his 17-year rule.

Russia's troubled western neighbour, struggling with a balance of payments crisis that has forced it to devalue its currency, ran up arrears on electricity imports that make up around 10 percent of its power needs.

Crude Oil Gains a Second Day on Speculation About OPEC Output, Greece Vote

Oil rose in New York, extending the biggest gain in six weeks, amid concern OPEC may reduce output in response to the International Energy Agency’s move to release oil stockpiles.

Jeff Rubin: Why is the IEA tapping strategic reserves?

Just why did the United States and the International Energy Agency decide to release 60 million barrels of oil next month from their strategic petroleum reserves?

The IEA cites the loss of 1.5 million barrels of Libyan production but that’s been going on since February. So why has it taken until July for them to respond?

We are filling a gap in oil supply, IEA head insists

The head of the International Energy Agency, the group that orchestrated the release of 60 million barrels of oil from major consuming nations last week, defended the move.

Hot inflation puts heat on Carney

Canada’s annual inflation rate jumped to the highest level in eight years last month, rising to 3.7 per cent as big increases in gasoline prices pushed the index to a new post-recession peak.

Morgan Stanley Said to Suffer Trading Loss After Wager on U.S. Inflation

Declining crude oil prices disproportionately hurt the value of TIPS maturing within five years because they have fewer remaining interest payments that can benefit from a rebound in prices.

Russia Close To Decision On Unified Oil Export Duty

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russia is close to making a decision on a unified export duty on crude and refined oil products, which will be implemented in 2012 or 2013, President Dmitry Medvedev's economic advisor said Wednesday.

Oil-hungry China welcomes alleged war criminal al-Bashir

BEIJING — If there’s one thing that gets discussed a lot regarding China’s relationship with Sudan, it’s the oil interest.

As the world’s largest energy consumer and one of the fastest-growing economies, China needs oil. Since 1995, it has invested heavily in Sudan’s oil infrastructure via the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

“We cannot exaggerate the importance of Sudan oil to the whole of China’s oil input,” said Dr. He Wenping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Qaddafi Charges Raise Stakes for U.S. Leadership on Libya: View

The chances of a diplomatic resolution to the war in Libya are now close to zero.

Today, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants on charges of crimes against humanity for the country’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, one of his sons and his intelligence chief, who is also his brother-in-law.

What’s the Endgame for the Arab Spring

The less Pollyanna view of uncertainty in the Arab world is potential oil supply disruption. Concern about “peak oil” is matched by concern about unfriendly Arab regimes coming to power. We have said before that peak oil, like peak copper or iron ore, is really about needing higher prices to bring new “lower grade” sources to the table. These are found in the oil rich Middle East as much as anywhere else.

Cuomo Takes Tough Stance on Nuclear Reactors

ALBANY — One of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top advisers met with the operators of the Indian Point nuclear plant last week and told them that the governor was determined to close the plant.

Mr. Cuomo is not the first politician or the first governor to take that position, but newly passed state legislation will make it easier for him to do so.

A Long Road Ahead for a Flooded Reactor

Federal officials say that the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, which is surrounded by floodwaters from the Missouri River, is safe for now, as I wrote in Tuesday’s Times. But it may be a very long way from reopening.

Tepco, Chubu Rally Around Japan Nuclear Future, Defying Growing Opposition

Tokyo Electric Power Co. led Japanese utilities in rallying around a nuclear future, defying growing public opposition to atomic energy after the worst radiation accident in 25 years.

Beyond Japan's Fukushima exclusion zone, shuttered shops speak to radiation doubts

People just outside the exclusion zone won't let children play outside and worry about food contamination.

The White House Blog - Our Energy Independence: Join the Live Chat Wednesday, 6/29, 2 pm EDT

As many of us hit the road to celebrate America's independence this upcoming 4th of July weekend, we must once again confront the reality of our country's economy, environment and security dependence on foreign oil.

On Wednesday, June 29th, at 2:00 pm ET, please join Dr. Arun Majumdar at Energy.gov for a frank, two-way discussion about the investments the federal government is making in innovative research and technology today that will move us off of foreign oil and toward the clean energy infrastructure of the future.

Google’s Green Energy Wish List

For a moment, re-imagine Aladdin as an engineer. He finds his magic lamp in an industrial park in Silicon Valley or Boston or the Research Triangle in Raleigh-Durham, and the genie who emerges offers him three technological wishes. What should Aladdin wish for? Could any of his wishes go wrong?

On Tuesday morning, Google released a study of the potential impacts of “aggressive hypothetical cost breakthroughs” in clean energy technologies, from electricity generation and storage to electric vehicles to natural gas. The genie was not offering any energy efficiency wishes this time around, although Google acknowledges that those are crucial and says it has taken major steps to improve energy efficiency in its operations.

Sales of wind turbines for home use are going strong

A growing number of people are investing in small electricity generating wind turbines for residential use, despite the bad economy, and backers of wind power say they expect advances in technology and manufacturing to make them even more popular.

Can Biofuels Save Sub-Saharan Africa?

When soaring food prices, climate change, growing energy demands, poverty, international politics and social justice are in the mix, you have a tried and true recipe for heated debate with just about anyone. I’m referring, as you may have guessed, to the hot-button topic of biofuels.

Rethinking Silly Car Trips

The goal is to make cities more livable and environmentally responsible places by rebalancing the rights of automobile drivers with those of pedestrians, bicyclists and people who use public transportation. As I toured Zurich with Andy Fellmann, its chief transportation planner, he emphasized that he did not dislike cars or drivers per se. But he believes that private cars are generally not appropriate for city centers, where the pollution and traffic detract from the cityscape.

Think Tank: China’s Assertiveness Could Lead to Armed Conflict in Asia

The Australian think tank, The Lowy Institute has warned that risks are growing that the incidents at sea involving China could lead to a war in Asia. The risk-taking behaviour of the Chinese military, its resource needs and greater assertiveness has raised the possibility of armed conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers.

Oil, water and war a potent mix: report

Critical energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns a newly released analysis by the Department of National Defence.

"Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025," wrote Maj. John Sheahan in a draft version of the report, Army 2040: First Look.

"This implies that (barring the discovery of significant new reserves, and barring the adequate adoption of substitute fossil fuels or alternative fuel and energy sources) critical energy shortages will develop in the time frame of (and perhaps prior to) 2025."

Peak oil is 'getting closer' but the world is not ready

The end of cheap oil has got governments panicking to control prices rather than planning for a post-oil era.

Stuart Staniford: Peak Oil is not Synchronous

• Peak oil consumption arrives on a rolling basis at different times around the world. It very likely arrived in some places as early as 1995, and some countries will probably still be growing their oil consumption in 2020 or later. So it's a multi-decadal event that we are somewhere in the middle of.

• 15 years after their oil consumption peaked, places like Italy, Germany, and Japan are pleasant and civilized countries to live in. So while peak oil certainly means higher oil prices, more economic weakness, and more stress on many individuals, it doesn't have to mean the end of life as we know it.

Richard Heinberg - The Shrinking Pie: The End of “Development”?

Throughout the past two centuries economic growth has translated to an increased capability to support more humans with Earth’s available resources. More energy, more raw materials, more jobs, more trade, better sanitation, and key medical advances have all contributed to higher infant survival rates and longer life expectancy in general. Human population growth can be seen as an indication of our success as a species.

But now, as economic growth ends, higher population levels pose an enormous vulnerability. Declining energy, declining minerals and fresh water, and reduced global trade will challenge our ability to maintain existing food and public health systems, perhaps even in currently wealthy countries.

Higher Mileage Cars Can Send Message to the Market

The aim is to break the market psychology of the oil complex. Right now producers assume that the value of proven reserves will continue to climb, that pumping oil even at current prices is a sacrifice of future profits. Once they believe prices are headed down permanently, prosperity will arrive.

The real “peak oil” refers not to production but to price. Getting past that “peak oil” requires massive investment in higher-mileage cars, in renewable energy, and in technologies for reducing energy demand generally.

Population bomb: 9 billion march to WWIII

Worldwide population doubled to 3.5 billion between the Great Depression and the Great Society. One generation, from the ‘30s to the ‘60s when “The Population Bomb” was published. Since the ‘60s, we’ve doubled again. This year global population shot past seven billion. Two billion living in poverty, surviving on less than two dollars a day. We do live in a globalized economy. And the math is simple: One death, two births.

Warning: This economic bomb will not stop tick-ticking any time soon. Why? Scientific American said population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” No wonder Bill McKibben, author of “The End of Nature,” warns: “Act now, we’re told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun.”

Climate change could double flood risk to central Russia says Emergencies Ministry

The volume of annual runoff of almost all of Russia's rivers will be substantially affected by global climate change, the Emergencies Ministry's Natural Disaster Center said on Wednesday.

"Owing to the expected shifts in temperature and rainfall amounts, the annual runoff of rivers located in the Central and the Volga federal districts will change significantly by 2015 - in comparison with today's levels, winter river runoff will increase by 60-90 percent and the summer runoff will rise by 20-50 percent," the center's head Vladislav Bolov said.

Loans to Arab Oil Producers Down 75% in First Half on Turmoil
By Wael Mahdi / Bloomberg / June 10, 2011

The amount of loans to energy projects in Arab oil-producing countries has declined 75 percent so far this year ... Only five Arab countries remain in the loan market, Apicorp said. They are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and, to a very small degree, Jordan, it said.

Hot day stokes power overload fear
Demand in Tepco's service area reaches 93% of supply capacity
Bloomberg, Kyodo / June 29, 2011

Demand for electricity in Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s service area totaled 45.7 million kw after 2 p.m. Wednesday, about 93 percent of the utility's maximum supply capacity.

... An electric company needs to have a supply capacity in excess of demand by a standard 8 percent to ensure stable supplies, and electricity supply is considered to be very tight when demand exceeds 90 percent of capacity. ...

Belarus to pay Moscow for electricity on Wed - IFAX
Reuters / June 29, 2011

"Today all debt payment transfers for electricity will be submitted to InterRAO," the agency quoted an unnamed representative of the central bank as saying.

But a mouth can cut checks a bank can't cash so we will see.

Stranger still Belarus paid the bill but the power is still out.

Russia halts power to Belarus, forces debt payment (Update 4)
Additional reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; writing by Thomas Grove and Guy Faulconbridge; editing by James Jukwey and Anthony Barker / Reuters / June 29, 2011

Russian electricity exporter InterRAO said late on Wednesday it had received payment in full from Minsk and that supplies would be resumed within a couple days after it had cut power exports to the former Soviet country from midnight.

In a couple days? How does Russia expect Belarus to pay future electric bills if they waste time hooking them back up after receiving payments? Or are they counting on using this as an opportunity to punish them?

Belarus Still Promising Electricity Payments
Combined Reports of Interfax, Bloomberg / The Moscow Times / June 30, 2011

MINSK — Belarus will fully repay its debts to Inter RAO for May electricity imports from Russia within one or two days, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said at the parliament Thursday.

"We will pay another [$]21 million today or tomorrow and therefore clear our debt," Semashko said.

After that, Belarus expects "everything to be resumed," he said.

Belarus paid a second tranche, amounting to $21 million, toward the debt for electricity imports Wednesday.

"Everything was resumed at midnight. The supplies were resumed, but everything was halted … at 2 o'clock in the morning," he said.

Re: Stuart Staniford: Peak Oil is not Synchronous

15 years after their oil consumption peaked, places like Italy, Germany, and Japan are pleasant and civilized countries to live in.


Since the 1980s, Italy tripled their natural gas consumption (shame about Libya), Germany expanded gas and nuclear (oops) and Japan expanded coal, gas and nuclear (double oops).

So as long as there's loads of gas, loads of coal, loads of nukes and especially loads of ability to offload more manufacturing jobs to China ("Hazardous to life" pollution) everything will be fine. Well apart from the planet boiling of course and nukes melting down every so often. But yes I'm sure life is "pleasant" in Japan if you just ignore the radiation.

Regarding your overall point, relative to 1995, Italy and Japan have shown increases in total energy consumption, while Germany has been approximately flat.

Total primary energy consumption charts for Italy, Germany and Japan (EIA, through 2008):




In 1995 Germany was still winding down the old, horribly inefficient state factories of the GDR after re-unification.

It has also invested heavily in renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially domestic efficiency. Passiv-haus insulation is
one of the strictest standards in the world. Domestic appliances (washing machines, freezers etc,) have cut consumption dramatically.

Helped by having a Green party in the government coalition in this period.

Germany is the exception - a country that effectively planned ahead for power down (to a small extent).

This chart from the Energy Export databrowser allows you to see the evolution of the individual components and shows that Germany's use of fossil fuels has actually been decreasing for 20 years now:

The additional sources of energy that allow them to have flat total energy consumption come from increased use of biomass, wind and solar for electricity generation (and heat in CHP plants).

From my recent talk on International Energy Trends:


That massive investment in solar yields all of about 1% of electricity consumption!

It has created a "solar industry" in Germany, but even that is being eroded by cheap solar panel production from China, and I can;t see that being reversed.

When you look at this chart, and consider Angela Merkel's pledge to shut down nuclear, and replace it with wind+solar, they will need to quadruple their current production, and this in the country that has been the most aggressive in the world in pushing solar, and not backwards in pushing wind, either.

This illustrates the problem of trying to rely on renewables in a country that does not have a lot of sun, or wind, or hydro, no geothermal, and the farmland is too valuable for biofuels!

Did Merkel actually pledge to replace nuclear with wind+solar? I hadn't seen that and would be interested in any link.

I assume that German nuclear power will be replaced with intensified conservation and efficiency efforts along with generators powered with NordStream gas. The first line is due to start shipping gas by the end of this year. The second line by the end of 2012.

I assume that German nuclear power will be replaced with intensified conservation and efficiency efforts along with generators powered with NordStream gas.

Agree. Various statements by Russian officials since the announcement certainly sound like they anticipate selling a lot more NG to the Germans. And NG-fired turbines are probably the generating technology that could be deployed the quickest.

Well, this is what she actually said, that does not necessarily mean, of course, that this is what will happen.
From The Guardian;

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced in May that Germany would phase out its 17 nuclear reactors, which provide up to 23% of the country's energy, by 2022 at a cost of €40bn. She said Germany would concentrate on renewable energy sources.

"We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible," Merkel said.

It has created a "solar industry" in Germany, but even that is being eroded by cheap solar panel production from China, and I can;t see that being reversed.

A few points, Paul.

I can't find any reference indicating that actual German employment in solar panel production has gone down. But even if it has:

The industry is about more than solar panel production: there is the machinery used in that production process as well as the machinery used in the production of the other necessary bits to convert photons into usable electricity and the production of those bits as well. There is installation know-how, a learning curve that will overtime reduce the cost of installation and probably increase the lifetime efficiency of installed units. There is potential demand, such as storage devices, and employment for scientists, engineers and technicians paid to pursue these opportunities. And more I don't doubt.

As for the expansion of Chinese solar panel production, I expect that in various ways Germans are benefitting from it: they may be a flow of profits if German individuals and companies are invested in the plants located in China; the Germans may be selling the Chinese factories machinery, or management/engineering services. They do so in a variety of fields with which I'm familiar, so I expect Hans and Uta are busy on the solar front as well.

Investment, including government subsidies, which to some extent are made necessary by the economics of the existing energy regime, in solar is very smart.

People who can read and interpret data know why. The oil drum is increasingly difficult to fill and like the coal bin, increasingly filthy. Meanwhile people still want to sit in the comfort of a nice cafe on the Lindenstrasse, in Dubai, or in Houston and enjoy a latte, the value of course not being so much the coffee as the cafe and its ambience. For most people, wealth is life well lived.

It does take some energy to live a good life and the Germans are smartly playing a winning strategy, in my opinion, to ensure that they will get a good piece of the energy conversion action for years to come by focussing on building their post fossil fuel energy sector.

As for Germany's own energy demand, there are several factors at play which will support a significant decline: an aging population; a declining population; increasing efficiency in production process; the expanded export of technical services (I don't know how far you are from Castlegar, but guess who installed the new turbines in the local pulp mill).

"I can't find any reference indicating that actual German employment in solar panel production has gone down. "

"Sluggish solar market demand is prompting Q-Cells to cut work hours for about 80 percent of its staff."


Q-Cells Thalheim plant has announced it will lay off 500 people, and said silicon wafer production line of the old plant will be shut down. Q-Cells concurrently said it would review the investment plan in 2010, is expected to cut 300 million euros in cash expenditures.


In early 2010, Sovello, the Q-Cells-Evergreen-REC joint venture, on the verge of bankruptcy, was sold to German private equity firm Ventizz Capital.


The Chinese are killing them. No environmental rules, no workplace safety rules, and free public money for expansion makes it tough to compete.

Thanks PVG,

I had seen a couple of these stories, which is what prompted my comment.
No doubt that Germany will retain lots of company HQ's, R&D type stuff, and maybe even making equipment to make PV's, but I expect the Chinese will copy that equipment themselves in short order - they may not be great at R&D, but they are pretty good at reverse engineering.

I think the importance of the cost advantage from lax safety and environmental rules cannot be underestimated. It is driving down PV prices worldwide, of course, but creating the situation of renewable energy products being created by totally unsustainable methods.

But what do other countries that make PV's, like Germany, US etc do? If they put a tariff on chinese imports then they drive up the local price, when they are trying to get it down. If they leave alone, more production migrates to China.

The concentration of PV production in China also brings up an interesting question of what would happen in a future coal crunch? Would China suddenly place an export ban on PV (and wind turbines) to install them all at home? We have seen export bans on food, diesel, etc, and I wouldn't put it past them to do this. They could become the founding, and soon only member of OPVEC

Clearly , one can argue the competition is spurring reduced prices for solar panels.

Since near the beginning of time (70s) the argument has been given that economies of scale, which could not happen without government support, are necessary to bring down the cost of solar panels. The support is in place and the cost of panels is coming down. Lets see how the competition goes as the Chinese lose their ability to subsidize energy price let alone ship large objects to the US and Europe. Further, an increasing portion of the total price is the mounting structure and onsite assembly. Much harder to offshore.

The larger issue is that almost all the cost for solar and wind is upfront and can be absorbed now while energy is relatively plentiful and cheap. This avoids the problem of receding horizons so problematic for fossil fuel production. Indeed, it is the definition of investment with a long term view.

That massive investment in solar yields all of about 1% of electricity consumption

Those numbers are from 2009 which is quite out of date with respect to PV. E.g. in Q1 2011, PV produced 1.9% of electricity and that was in Winter. So by the end of 2011, PV has nearly quadrupled its values from 2009. Of cause, that is still not enough, but together with energy savings, it goes it the right direction.

Perhaps more importantly though, those massive investments in PV has resulted in PV now being price competitive in certain markets with fossil fuels. Particularly in various developing rural off grid markets. So treat those investments as charitable donations if you wish.

trying to rely on renewables in a country that does not have a lot of sun, or wind, or hydro, no geothermal, and the farmland is too valuable for biofuels!

Exactly, if an export based manufacturing country that is so poor in renewable energy resources can successfully embark on the transition to renewable energy without loosing its global competitiveness, then countries who are blessed much more with potential for cheaper renewable energy (e.g. the USA) should have a much easier time.

Perhaps more importantly though, those massive investments in PV has resulted in PV now being price competitive in certain markets with fossil fuels.

That is important but in my opinion there is something a few orders of magnitude even more important with respect to PV and other alternative sources of energy production. Those people who are using these energy sources are learning to do things differently. They are at the cutting edge of the necessary paradigm change in how we must all learn to use these sources of energy.

People who use solar for example much more aware of their levels of energy consumption. They have access to monitoring systems and tend to take a more direct control and a much greater interest in conserving when less energy is available. They do certain energy intensive chores at times when more energy is available.

I have been to Germany and know the CEO of a German solar company that is heavily involved in China, it is no accident that Angela Merckel is very chummy with Wen Jiabao.

People who are stuck on the price of PV panels and the jobs making them are completely missing the larger picture.
The Germans as a society get peak oil, better than most industrialized societies, certainly better than Americans.

People who use solar for example much more aware of their levels of energy consumption. They have access to monitoring systems and tend to take a more direct control and a much greater interest in conserving when less energy is available. They do certain energy intensive chores at times when more energy is available.

I agree with this, for the most part (the LA McMansions being an exception), though I would guess (not having been there) that the Germans are already much more energy aware than Americans.
There is no question that when you are in some way "connected to" or "invested in" your energy source, be it PV, food, or firewood(in my case) you a very aware of how much you use.

I think Germany did one thing right here, and one thing wrong. What they did right was the net metering part - so that only the excess gets paid out by the grid. I do not know of this is "cumulative instant excess" (based on time of use) or "net monthly/annual" excess. This gives people good incentive to conserve energy, to get the higher rate of the feed-in tariff.

But, with the feed in tariff so high, there is not only a massive, ongoing, cost to the government, but it means that many panels are being installed in sub-optimal places/roof angles etc, because it is still worth doing so. In other words, the government is subsidising inefficient installations.

I do agree that Germany's approach to energy is much better than most other countries, and while they are further down this road, they still have a long way to go Now that they can;t afford the massive solar subsidies anymore, what do they do next to keep renewable growth going?

I should add that no other country has really solved this either, to get non hydro renewables above 20%. Once that point is reached, and you start running into grid stability/transmission capacity issues, you have to start doing more tricks, like storage and/or active demand management.

Efficiency and conservation are great (and that is how I make my living) but Germany has an industrial economy to keep going, so efficiency will only take them so far, and they are already pretty efficient. This chart from Euronuclear, shows just how much work remains to be done.

If they can crack the nut and show the world how to run an industrial economy on renewables, they will secure their future. But it remains to be seen just how they (or anyone else) can do that, and how long it will take.

What they did right was the net metering part - so that only the excess gets paid out by the grid. I do not know of this is "cumulative instant excess" (based on time of use) or "net monthly/annual" excess. This gives people good incentive to conserve energy, to get the higher rate of the feed-in tariff.

Almost Paul, they did the net metering well, but not exactly as you say. They separately measure renewable production and the producer get paid a fixed amount for each kWh produced. The bill is paid by every electricity consumer, including the producer, by a slightly higher price for consuming a kWh. The two are not subtracted before the renewable kWh's enter the network.

I do agree that Germany's approach to energy is much better than most other countries, and while they are further down this road, they still have a long way to go Now that they can;t afford the massive solar subsidies anymore, what do they do next to keep renewable growth going?

They can't afford the subsidies? Those 'subsidies' are regressed every year and will continue to do so until the subsidy is €0, this has always been the plan. By the time subsidies are gone it is expected solar to be competitive and survive on it's own, we're already see this happening hence the extra regressions in the past two years. In this sense the 'subsidies' are working even better then expected. I would expect the market to really take off when grid parity is solidly surpassed (if it hasn't just already) without the need for subsidies.

I think the Germans did a great job and require a very big thank you from all those around the world who freeride the now much cheaper solar energy boom. And all this at the expense of 1 to 2 €cents per kWh. I think it's worth to pause a bit by the thought what Germany has accomplished (almost entirely by itself) from which the whole world will benefit due to cheaper electricity (ultimately), a cleaner environment, undermining of the fossil fuel multinationals/monopolies and generally allow the taxpayer to really choose how they get/use their energy.

Just wanted to highlight that the PV producer is, as you say, paid for production not for merely having the PV installed. The fact that he is paid for production penalizes him if he puts PV is non optimal location and encourages trying to get maximum production possible.

Indeed. The feed-in tariff law in Germany is a rare beauty...

They separately measure renewable production and the producer get paid a fixed amount for each kWh produced.

Well, I stand corrected then. But that is not net metering, that is gross metering. If they are getting paid the FIT rate for every kWh produced, where then is the incentive to reduce electrical loads, especially in peak hours?

Those 'subsidies' are regressed every year and will continue to do so until the subsidy is €0, this has always been the plan.

Well, sort of. The rate paid to new installations degresses according the amount that has been installed. But whatever that payment rate is, at the time of installation, is guaranteed for 20 years, so there is a large future liability there.

This will be covered by raising general electricity rates, of course, which is fine, and small, while renewables are a small portion. As they try to get to their target of 35% by 2020, this will only increase.

Well, sort of. The rate paid to new installations degresses according the amount that has been installed. But whatever that payment rate is, at the time of installation, is guaranteed for 20 years, so there is a large future liability there.

That still would have been fine and fair, the early adopters drive the market, and help the industry move up the learning curve. Except, they started regressing a bit late in the game, so quite a lot of installations are drawing absurdly large FITs. The problem was the original legislation didn't take into account how successful it would be, and with fixed FITs that made the costs skyrocket.
At least they seem to be doing the midcourse correction properly, gradually reducing the FIT rate as installations proceed. The typical political kneejerk reaction is to overreact, and eliminate them entirely.

If they are getting paid the FIT rate for every kWh produced, where then is the incentive to reduce electrical loads, especially in peak hours?

The cost of the FIT is spread over every electricity user who pays a (slightly) higher bill which is the incentive to reduce the load, not only the producers of renewable energy but by all consumers of electricity. Consumers is a much bigger group and thus a bigger effect.

Most home owners have peak hours that differ from industrial peak hours. It would be very difficult for a law to optimise consumption/production rates for both groups at once. Besides, the sun dictates peak production.

Well, sort of. The rate paid to new installations degresses according the amount that has been installed. But whatever that payment rate is, at the time of installation, is guaranteed for 20 years, so there is a large future liability there.

Yes, the 20-year period is guaranteed and an important aspect that makes the FIT work so well.

'liability' depends on multiple factors. A couple of points:
- Payment is based on production (no production = no payment, so no liability there. It increases the quality of the production.)
- Other means of electricity production are getting more expensive over that timespan (fossil, new nuclear) so the gap between payment and year-by-year e-rate closes if the fossil/nuclear portion remains high over the 20 year period. The FIT costs reduce as e get's more expensive.
- Inflation means that the high rate now is a lower cost in the future
- If solar is able to reach a high penetration percentage then future price increases of electricity will be mitigated as price per Watt-installed reduces. The high costs for low penetration solar now can be paid back by prevented costs through lower costs by high penetration solar in the future.

Grid parity for solar is a powerful thing.

Wow, all these responses - maybe it's time for someone to do a key post on Germany's solar/renewables situation.

Apmon, Agreed that the solar contribution is higher this year, on the back of lots of installations over the last two years.
According to the official agency, the BDEW

According to preliminary estimates, renewable energy output in the first quarter of 2011 reached 28.1 billion kWh (Q1 2010: 24,9 billion kwh) and accounted for 19.2% of total German electricity consumption (Q1 2010 17.1%).

Wind power remains the most important renewable energy source in Germany. Despite moderate wind yield in the first quarter, wind contributed 7.9% (Q1 2010: 7.5%), followed by biomass with 4.9% (4.7%).

Due to favourable weather conditions the share of hydro power grew by roughly 20% to 3.6% (3.0%).

Photovoltaics accounted for 1.9% (1.0%).

Renewable electricity generated in waste power plants and by other renewable energy sources covered 0.9% (0.8%) of the electricity consumption.

Now, what they didn't say was just how much the government is paying people to put these PV's on their roofs;

gets 51 euro cents ($0.68) per kilowatt-hour for any electricity his solar rooftop feeds back into the grid, which is about 10 times the wholesale price paid to coal or nuclear plant owners. The payment rate, mandated by the government, stays in effect for 20 years and gives him an annual return of about 9 percent on his investment in the photovoltaic setup

If you can't get exponential growth of something when you subsidise it that much, there is something wrong.
I too would like to get 9% return from my government, but how long can that go on for? But this has left the German government with a massive 20yr liability - it will be paying a lot of people a lot of money for existing systems, that could be used for something else.

This sort of subsidy is great for those who can afford to put panels up, and own their own houses to do so, but for a tenant in a rented house, they subsidises it through higher electricity bills. It has become a big enough issue that the government has had to scale back the program.

So, given that the early adopters have adopted, and subsisdies are being cut back, how much more growth will there be for PV in Germany? Getting to 10 or even 5% will be much harder.

One thing to keep in mind about the Germans (as well as Japanese) is they export a lot of their consumption.

Germany is a top- three auto manufacturer and exporter (along with Japan and US).

German bankers lent to auto buyers (in Greece and elsewhere) leaving billions of euros worth of unserviceable loans that are threatening EU finance.

Germany also manufactures and exports energy generation equipment. As Germany phases out nuclear plants it will turn to thermal coal generation using readily available lignite.

Germany's alternative energy efforts are lipstick on a fossil fuel pig.

Germany's alternative energy efforts are lipstick on a fossil fuel pig.

It sure beats casting pearls before the BAU swine...

And yes, BAUhaus is dead, long live bamboohaus!

What's on your rooftop?

This illustrates the problem of trying to rely on renewables in a country that does not have a lot of sun, or wind, or hydro, no geothermal, and the farmland is too valuable for biofuels!

Paul, Germany has an 'enhanced geothermal system' (EGS) project operating. Although the size is only 3 MW, it could be a beginning of a promising energy system that doesn't have the issues of intermittence and storage of solar energy and windpower.

And it could become a lot less expensive:

Geothermal energy offers a great deal of potential for renewable energy. But, the costs of drilling can make geothermal energy less than cost-effective.

With conventional rotary drilling, deeper holes raise the costs exponentially. Now, at least two organizations are working on developing hydrothermal spallation, a drilling method which will allow for reaching greater drilling depths in a more efficiently and cost-effectively.

I saw this last week on t.v., and it is really amazing how fast hydrothermal drills holes in granite rock.

Only Germany of the core EU seems to have seen declining energy consumption through the last 20 or more years. I have been looking at the major European economies using http://mazamascience.com/OilExport looking particularly at Germany, UK, France and Italy.

There is much food for thought in the 45 year pattern of total exajoules and the component fuel use. (I do not know how to embed the charts for comparison in this post as Jonathan has done above; sorry).

One obvious aspect is the spectacular rise of oil in the 1960s, extending from the 1950s, for all countries. UK and Germany's peak oil consumption was sometime around 1979, which co-incided with their peak total exajoules. We see also the rise in NG from pretty much zero in 1970, then becoming a huge replacement for coal in UK and Germany. Increasing consumption of NG in Italy, which never used so much coal, seems to have allowed that country to eventually nearly match (quite recently) total exajoules with the comparable sized UK. UK had a gentle rise in total energy from recession in the 1980s, but only recently reached close to the previous high, and that with a few million extra people.
We can see recessions, and modernizing converging economies, but apart from that there is no obvious co-relation between energy and employment / unemployment, nor even that much with rising prosperity, except probably the rising prosperity during the earlier years, which certainly co-incided with exceptionally low unemployment and the large intake of 'guest-workers' in Germany and UK. (I have not sorted out absolute number of paid jobs and the effect of more women in formal employment through this modern period).
What jumps out though is the sudden change with the recent 'financial' crisis. That abrupt disjuncture extends to the Europe/Eurasia group as a whole, it seems. In fact I find this last chart the most compelling.

Very good points, and good backup by WT's graphs.

None of those countries existed in a vacuum. Considering the lost decade in Japan, and Europes' decade long ponzi, it appears many have been living on borrowed time (and energy). The same with the U.S.

The "decadal asynchronous" peak oil experience started 40 years ago, and Stuart is Wishing past the graveyard when he says "we are somewhere in the middle" of it.

Unusually sloppy thinking by stuart.

The arrival of peak oil (circa 2005) means that global economic growth is difficult. I think that as the decline in oil supply accelerates then global growth will be impossible until a transition is made to move the economy away from oil in everyday products and transportation fuel. Let's see how these countries do over the next five years because right now they have incredibly high deficits that will have to be dealt with quickly. Since the U.S. consumption peaked: we have doubled our unemployment rate, almost had a complete financial meltdown, increased our debt significantly, etc... That peak was synchronous with the global peak in supply.

The countries without declines in consumption correspond with the ones with economic growth, by and large.

As far as I can see, what drives consumption is jobs. As we offshore more and more jobs, we lose oil consumption two ways:

(1) The oil that would be used to make the goods and services.

(2) The people employed earn wages, and those wages can be used to buy goods and services. Many of those goods and services use oil. There is even a third effect:

(3) There is a second order effect, when the buying of goods and services generates even more jobs.

So as we have chosen to offshore work--even work like programming to India--it has reduced the oil we consume and increased the oil the emerging markets consume. Of course, China and India and the Emerging Markets tend to use more coal proportionately, so our offshoring helps increase world coal use, as it reduces our petroleum use and increases the Emerging Markets petroleum use.

"As far as I can see, what drives consumption is jobs."

Gail, I believe you've nailed it in one sentence!

sgage - Exactly. Gail has made that same point in different ways over the last few months and many folks who have a magic "fix" for our predicament just don't want to address that relationship. There are lots of ideas on how energy consumption might be reduced. Some possible/practical but many not even close. But even with the approaches that might work folks tend to refuse to address the impact on jobs. A simple/foolish example some have tossed out: ban 90% of the fast food outlets in the country. Yep: cut down a lot of trips to McD's, give us a healthier diet, etc, etc. But they don't address the issue of the 100's of thousand of newly unemployed and relatively low skill workers. No...we are not going to retrain them to be solar engineers. Yes...we spend a huge amount of energy in many areas that could be considered unnecessary. But a large portion of the jobs in this country are service industry oriented and thus depend on this wasteful effort.

It's very difficult to see any "solution" that doesn't bring severe pain to a great many who aren't doing all the great right now anyway.

One problem is that economists have trained us to see the only valuable jobs being those that have a salary attached to them. The traditional roles of women in most places are not generally directly remunerative in a financial sense, yet they add(ed) great value. Things that people have considered hobbies--gardening, canning, hunting--can have a significant positive effect on a family's ability to get by without depending as completely on the cash economy for every calorie they eat. But these are not counted as 'jobs.'

There are all sorts of activities that add value to a family and a community, and not all of them involve the exchange of cash. It would behoove us to reconsider the low value that is generally placed on such activities, and even more to reconsider the high value placed by economists--and now by most of the rest of us, apparently--on all activity that involves the exchange of cash.

So if we simply dis-employ economists, then presto, the problems go away? Another "magic 'fix' for our predicament" (to borrow a phrase from upthread)?

In all the 'developed' countries, 'we' have spent the last 100 or 120 years building a vast edifice of costly mandates for everything from regulatory compliance (you must never use a $19.95 smoke alarm if a system costing $thousands to install can get the job done; you must never drive a Tata Nano if a hugely expensive and complicated car can get the job done; etc. ad infinitum) to "safety" and "health" (it's your moral obligation to spend without limit, even when you're spending $1 to get 1¢ of benefit, or risking bankruptcy to dissolve your liver to "save" your heart; our Puritan heritage demands nothing less.) Any time the least bit of economic surplus turns up, governments immediately up the ante, since it's the only moral thing to do.

Those mandates are generally payable in coin of the realm - not in knit sweaters, string beans from the garden, chickens from the backyard, deer from the wild, or poetry readings. So it doesn't matter in the slightest how anyone claims to "value" or "not-value" such stuff. They must still meet the mandates, or else go to jail, or see the kids taken away, or be put out of their home onto the street. And by the time they've met the mendates, many folks will be too exhausted for much else.

Now, if you have in mind a serious (i.e. beyond handwaving about economists, or deploying magic wands) way to change that, let's have at it. But you'll probably need to rebuild a lot of social and economic stuff from the ground up, and severely rein in people's expectations about all that mandated stuff. That won't be easy, or even politically feasible. In the meantime there's little use in huffing and puffing about what people might "value", since most are so constrained for now that it simply doesn't matter.

[Oh, and hunting might be useful to a handful, but it won't scale worth a d*mn. Orders of magnitude too many people. All edible animal life would go extinct in a trice.]

He forgot to mention drug dealing and marijuana growing in places like Mendocino county in California probably the biggest cash source in the county and which doesn't get counted in the GDP or taxed. Plus, these growers aren't subject to all those pesky regulations you talk about.

The point is still well taken that there are lots of things, including a lot of illegal activity, which doesn't get counted in the GDP numbers but things that are just costs like the cost of cleaning up after the tornadoes and floods drives the GDP even though on a net basis, the people are probably worse off.

Of course the problem is that since they are not counted we cannot really argue quantitatively how significant they are. For that matter, your post probably has value to some and yet your post is not included in the GDP. Someone needs to start paying some of the posters here on TOD.

It is not very likely, of course, that there will be any official statistics on the economic value of things like home gardening and home making anytime soon. And it is probably just as well because they might find a way to tax it. However, it is worthwhile realizing that GDP is a very crude indicator of well being and we must dig deeper to measure or appreciate that reality.

"It is not very likely, of course, that there will be any official statistics on the economic value of things like home gardening and home making anytime soon."

There are economists that have tried to calculate these values, as well as values provided by ecosystem 'services.'

The woman I know who was doing this for house work probably didn't consider that her research could one day be used to tax households. I think we would have to be pretty far down into a panopticon world for anyone to accurately assess such a tax.

I know there are economist who try to measure these things, but it does not have official recognition by the government. Not that it shouldn't.

The informal economy is far larger than the formal economy. In fact i've just been reading about this topic at http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2011/06/reinventing_the_informal_e...

As the government is all about taxation, the last thing you want is government interference in the informal economy. If it can be measured, it can be taxed.

Taxation is necessary to pay for the services that the government provides, including national defense. I think it is a shame that very large sectors of the underground economy, like drugs are not taxed. This may also apply to things like prostitution. We can argue about what government should spend money on but a major reason we are in a crisis right now is that we have decided to can have massive expenditures without the necessary taxes to pay for it. This is the absurd supply side rationale that started under Reagan. Even Reagan, however, did not even believe this as he raised the taxes numerous time.

In principle, once one decides to tax economic activity, I don't think you should distinguish between the formal and informal economy. If, for practical or other reasons, one cannot tax the informal economy, then the formal part of the economy will be taxed at a higher rate. However, in the current political climate, the right doesn't want to tax anything or even eliminate some obvious and unjustified loopholes for the right and powerful.

The government we have right now is not all about taxation, it is about thinking that we get a free ride on things like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without having to pay for it.

It does very much depend on which bits of the informal economy you are talking about. Illegal drugs could be dragged into the formal economy and taxed. It's not like you can't already get mothers little helpers, alcohol and cigarettes easily enough and payment is already in dollars for them. Me passing some home made wine to my parents in exchange for raspberry jam...not so much.

Perhaps then we should split the "home economy" from the "illegal economy" when talking about this.

It's easy really:
1) You can tax more
2) You can spend less
3) You can borrow, until you can't.
4) You can inflate to extend the life of 3
5) You can default after 4 doesn't work.

I'd say we've been in 3 since Reagan, though his intent was really to cut more and tax less. The two-party dance to spend more and tax less led politicians to the realization that 3 is their best bet.

Now we're getting to 4, and I think politicians will be fine with this too. China maybe not so much.

Northern California's Mendocino County has been known for marijuana growing for at least 30 years. Part of the state's legendary Emerald Triangle of high-grade pot production along with neighboring Humboldt and Trinity counties, Mendocino has long profited from the underground economy. Last week, a local newspaper, the Willits News, tried to gauge just how large the profits may be, and the result is startling.

According to the News, the local marijuana industry will add $1.5 billion to the county's economy this year. With Mendocino's legal economy estimated at about $2.3 billion, that means the pot economy is almost two-thirds as large as all other legal economic activities combined.

According to the News, the local marijuana industry will add $1.5 billion to the county's economy this year. With Mendocino's legal economy estimated at about $2.3 billion, that means the pot economy is almost two-thirds as large as all other legal economic activities combined.

I would take your numbers to mean that the local marijuana industry is about twice the importance of other economic activities combined; i.e. 2.3b total of which 1.5b (65%) is the spending of money earned producing and selling pot.

The only part of the non-GDP measured 'black market' in marijuana is product distribution. Money's spent by growers, harvesters, processors, distributors, thieves on everything accept their personal cocaine supply is counted.

Perhaps this is a bit off topic, but does anyone have EROEI figures on hemp oil? Is it any better than corn ethanol?

Why OT?

In 1941 Henry Ford built a plastic car made of fiber from hemp and wheat straw. Hemp plastic is biodegradable, synthetic plastic is not.

Hemp Biomass for Energy
Tim Castleman


No data, but maybe you can backtrack..

Hemp Produces Viable Biodiesel, UConn Study Finds

"So if we simply dis-employ economists, then presto, the problems go away?"

Excellent suggestion, PS!

And yes, obviously the gov likes transactions to be in cash, too. It gets hard to tax barter.

But much economic activity in the past went on in just this way--with barter. We have an old ledger from my great grandfather's physician practice in rural SD near the turn of the century and nearly all fees were paid in corn or bigs or vegetables or service.

People all over are, by choice or per force, starting to extract themselves from (or getting kicked out of) the cash economy. I would think that any true conservative would revel at the thought, but I get the feeling there aren't many true conservatives left.

And as for scaling up, the scale of our economy is not sustainable, so that is a going to be a problem where ever you turn. (And anyway, as a vegan, I was hardly advocating that everyone become a hunter tomorrow--lol. Just that hunters and various other sorts of behaviors that add value but don't get counted much in economic statistics are indeed doing things that benefit their families and communities.)

The trouble is, it's not the turn of the 20th century any more. Medical spending back then was some vanishingly small fraction of a much smaller GDP, such that people generally worried far more about the loss of income than about the cost. Rather little in the way of health care had been invented yet; oftentimes the best available technology might have been appropriately soothing words.

Nowadays, in the 21st century, physicians use lots of very specialized and highly regulated (read fantastically expensive) supplies. They simply won't be able to function if they're paid in tomatoes. And ditto with respect to the rest of the vast thicket of expensive mandates.

So yes, there are activities that add modest amounts of value that is not officially recognized, but no, we won't be running mainly on those activities anytime soon without risking jail, homelessness, social services removing the kids, or simply death. Indeed, we can take that last to its logical conclusion and speculate about, say, a large part of the population over 50 dying off if we go backwards to the turn of the 20th century. OTOH there's a lot of coal and tarry oil to be burned before people submit to anything like that, so it may be a while yet...

[Also not clear what class of "true conservative" would want to abolish the cash economy, unless they're so conservative they want to go back to the Stone Age. I should think that most modern conservatives - and liberals (in the American sense) and socialists as well - would consider the division of labor to be valuable, and the cash economy to be something that would greatly facilitate it.]

Whenever someone says anything like "We may as well go back to the stone age" or "We may as well go back to living in caves" it is a clear sign that they have run out of intellectual bullets.

My great grandfather did not live in the stone age, and it is not clear that people in general are hugely happier in our modern consumerist economy than they were then.

That is, increasing the flow of money is not equivalent to increasing human well being, no matter how much economists and politicians might tell you otherwise.

That is, increasing the flow of money is not equivalent to increasing human well being, no matter how much economists and politicians might tell you otherwise.

No, actually it's becoming more and more decoupled from increasing social well being. Cancerous, in fact.

The trouble is, it's not the turn of the 20th century any more. Medical spending back then was some vanishingly small fraction of a much smaller GDP, such that people generally worried far more about the loss of income than about the cost. Rather little in the way of health care had been invented yet; oftentimes the best available technology might have been appropriately soothing words.

While this is true, the great advances in life expectancy throughout most of the world in the last century are mostly dependent on simple and inexpensive medicine such as childhood vaccinations and antibiotics, as well as more expensive public health measures such as clean water supplies, pesticides (to kill mosquitoes), and a sewer system.

That said, I must admit to two medical crises I survived as a child more than fifty years ago were ones I probably would not have survived fifty years earlier.

A large part of modern medical expenditure is exhaustive testing to protect doctors from ambulance-chasing lawyers (or to make payments on expensive equipment sold to doctors and hospitals by slick salesmen) and heroic measures which offer a possibility (however slight) of a few more days, weeks or months of life (however tenuous) to fatally ill people.

I don't think large cuts in medical expenditure would seriously affect most people, provided the cuts were in the right place: eliminating expensive and marginally useful tests, and admitting each of us is mortal; not eliminating vaccinations, food handling education, or water supply testing.

I don't think large cuts in medical expenditure would seriously affect most people, provided the cuts were in the right place: eliminating expensive and marginally useful tests, and admitting each of us is mortal; not eliminating vaccinations, food handling education, or water supply testing.

Given our political system, and the actors gaming it, that isn't where the cuts are likely to be. Far more likely those in the lower half of the income scale will lose basic care, and the wealthy will continue to use marginal and expensive measures. We've already seen life expectancies dropping, and given the current climate in the US I expect that will accelerate.

P.S. OK, then I have another excellent suggestion, or is that "modest proposal." Dis-employ meteorologists too, and fix thermometers to read a few degrees lower. That'll solve AGW as well...

Please remember barter transactions are taxable and are required to be reported on your annual IRS filing. ;/

""Please remember barter transactions are taxable and are required to be reported on your annual IRS filing.""

That's a good laugh for the day! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Your Criminal FEDGOV is so far beyond the curve, it's unbelievable. Let the Financial FATCATS get their bonus, paid by my tax dollars, then expect me to "Volunteer" my Barter to be taxed again?

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday that the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase so the administration does not have to “shrink the overall size of government programs.”

Your gov is well past criminal and inept, it has become invalid. Except for it's ability to kill people.

Catch me if you can....HAHAHAHAHAHA

The Martian.

Wouldn't want to tax big business because they can just leave the country.

It is beyond puppet theater I think they are all insane.

Yes, "Alternative Currencies" fall into that same catagory.

Timebanking (exchanging labor for labor) was decided to NOT be taxable for ONE taxpayer
Copr. (C) West 1996 No claim to orig. U.S. govt. works
PLR 9608009 1996WL76443(I.R.S.)
Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) Private Letter Ruling

Issue: February 23. 1996 November 9. 1995

Section 6045 – Returns of Brokers
6045.00-00 Returns of Brokers
CC:DOM:IT&A:1/TR-31-1587-95 LEGEND

Dear ***

This ruling is in response to the request for a ruling dated June 20, 1995, concerning whether X, which sponsors a Time Dollar program, is a barter exchange under section 6045 of the Internal Revenue Code and section 1.6045- 1(a)(4) of the Income Tax Regulations.
(gives a bunch of reasons why not)

Taxpayer = Consolidated Neighborhood Services, Inc.
2600 Hadley Street St. Louis, MO 63106
E.I.N 23-7216273
(Re: Member Organized Resource Exchange) .

Dear Mr. Hillhouse:
This is in reply to your letter dated December 14, 1984 in which we are requested to rule that Taxpayer is not change for purposes of section 6045 of the Internal and the regulations thereunder.

These credits, however, have no monetary value. Service recipients do not incur a contractual liability upon the receipt of services under Taxpayer’s program. Service providers do not earn a contractual right to receive services when they perform services.

Like all IRS rulings:
This ruling is directed only to the taxpayer who requested it. Section 6110(JX3) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that it may not be used or cited as precedent.

So they can go wack ya later upside the head if they so require.

Of course this is partly true.

But if it were completely true, the countries with the highest employment rates would exactly match the countries with the highest consumption rate.

The US spends about 1/3 of every dollar that is spent globally on consumption (according to the excellent film "Blind Spot" that I just viewed), putting it at or near the top for per capita consumption.

But there are many other countries that have lower unemployment than the US, yet they do not perfectly correspond to higher consumption countries.


I would add factors like the level of advertising in the society, the availability of credit, the cultural norms (partly a historical product of the level of the previous two)...

But yeah, obviously people with out jobs and without income aren't buying a whole lot. But not all people with jobs shop with the intensity or conviction of your average ad-bedazzled American.

dohboi - Not sure I follow you completely. But the differential may not be consumption per capita or spending per capita. But what are the job sectors driving the economy. During the rest of the week as you notice all the businesses that you pass keep a mental track of those producing a product and those providing a service. And remember a store like the Gap doesn't produce clothing...it just sells it. IOW it's employees are in the service industry providing a service. Same for the tax CPA and barista. Or put another way: who's adding value? A Ford plant is taking materials, combining them, and selling at an increased value: i.e. +GDP. I don't have figures but the other countries you refer to: how is their labor force split between service providers and product producers? Just my WAG but I'll guess the US has a much higher % of service providers than most developed countries. We need someone to make a TV set for us. We don't need someone to make a $5 cup of coffee. We might enjoy it and be willing to pay for it when times are good. But we don't need it. OTOH most of us need a TV or life wouldn't be worth living. LOL. Another mental poll for you: the next 20 items you buy: how many did you need vs. wanted? And of the ones you really needed what % were made in the US? That's the point someone else (WT?) made about developing countries being able to afford higher energy costs than the US: the Chinese can take X amount of energy and turn into a product they can sell to consumers of another economy for the energy, manufacturing and profit costs. Much of the US energy consumption doesn't do this. That Gap is probably selling clothing made in another country where they took energy and increased its value by producing product. The Gap, in turns, uses energy and produces only two things: jobs and profit. Eliminate enough Gaps and you reduce profits which reduces jobs.

And that's was my basic point (and Gail's): how do you cut US consumption significantly and not eliminate a significant number of jobs in the process? That's the answer noone has been willing to offer AFAIK.

Rockman -- One way to throttle back the economy without cutting jobs would be to have people work the same number of days per year as does Congress. Congress has been in session about 140 days per year over the last decade.

To simplify things, suppose that half the employees work Monday through Wednesday and the other half Thursday through Saturday. With 4 weeks vacation that would be 3 x 48 days or 144 days / year.

IIRC, something like this was done in some places during the first great depression. People liked the reduced work hours so much they insisted on continuing it long after the depression was over.

Rock, your general points are well taken.

I was just pointing out that the simple equation that jobs = consumption is a bit too, well, simple.

The nuance your questions bring to the table are exactly what is needed in the discussion.

(But if my favorite barista stopped mixing my latte's just so, I'm not sure life would be worth living '-)

dohboi - Remember: geologist = simple thought process. If that weren't true I would be an engineer making more money.

I would be happy to adopt many European countries' tradition of taking the month of August off for 'holiday.'

Merril - It's not so much cutting jobs but cutting salaires. So you make a big chunk of the work force reduce their income so they can't pay their mortgage, rent or car note. Granted someone unemployed would be glad to getting some income. Of course, I'm assuming you're proposing to cut salaries proportionally? And that 4 week vacation...no pay, right? And of course most if not all insurance and retirement benefits are cut or completely eliminated.

Does it really matter how you distribute the remaining work left after energy consumption is drasticly reduced. Less total income means less purchasing power which means less sales of items and services which means more unemployment.

Sorry guys...I still haven't heard a solution whereas most Americans can maintain something close to their current lifestyles if we significantly power down the economy. So then the choice for the American people seems obvious: either accept a lower standard of living or kill someone and take their oil/NG away. And you already know my expectations of our fellow citizens. Speaking of which, just for my own curiosity, can anyone guess how much blood for oil we've swapped since the new administration took office? Just wonder if anyone else is keeping count of those shiny metal boxes coming thru Dover. When Shrub was president I'd see the running count from the MSM on a regular basis. Not so much now.

PBS News Hour shows the photos and names of the dead on a regular basis. There are not so many now -- maybe 10-20 / week depending mainly on the activity in Afghanistan. The novelty has worn off so it is no longer "news" for the MSM. Figure about 5 times that number badly wounded.

The way that standard of living will be managed down is through inflation. For example, Gov Christies pension reform in NJ includes a provision that removes the Cost of Living Adjustment from the pension plan. This is probably also a component of reforms in other state, though I haven't looked.

So if wages are held just about stagnant with high unemployment, and if inflation proceeds at 4 to 5% per year, then after a decent interval the pension funding problem disappears through the magic of exponentials. This is also how the Feds get out from under long term debt. With inflation, there is also the prospect that house prices go up in nominal terms, so that fewer homeowners are underwater. This helps solve the mortgage problem.

So with the right arrangement of stagnant wages and modest inflation, consumption in real terms can be lowered, living standards can decline, and the economy can struggle along.

Merril - Thanks. Glad to hear they're still doing that. That was the one news shows I would try to catch but with my new work schedule I never get to see it now. I get what your saying about the inflation factor and that makes sense of course. I was spouting off about a much more rapid collapse/radical decline in energy consumption. Your proposition is the only scenario where I see time as a friend. Otherwise, the ability to make radical changes in the short amount of time we have is very limited. But since I don't have a very good record predicting the future amybe we'll just skim by.

Legacy of Mental Health Problems from Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Will Be Long-Lived

Traumatic Brain Injury is especially common: roughly 30,000 service members were diagnosed annually in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) figures. Most of those diagnoses were for concussions or other relatively mild forms of brain injury. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is also worryingly prevalent—in a RAND survey, 13.8 percent of veterans and returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan met the criteria for PTSD, meaning that some 275,000 U.S. service members may be affected in total.

The under reporting of inflation is already used to decrease social security, federal employee pensions, military pensions, state employee pensions, and teacher pensions. Giving them dishonestly low COLAs.


There is a huge monetary deflation going on.
The price of commodities is high because supplies are not growing and are very unlikely to grow in the future.

There is nothing that can be done to increase supplies of raw materials so complaining about Peak Resources is just stupid.
This is a permanent problem, not political(except for political opportunists).

People should get smart and work around material shortages, instead of looking to politicians and central bankers for handouts.

The term "inflation" originally referred to increases in the amount of money in circulation, and some economists still use the word in this way. However, most economists today use the term "inflation" to refer to a rise in the price level. An increase in the money supply may be called monetary inflation, to distinguish it from rising prices, which may also for clarity be called 'price inflation'.[23] Economists generally agree that in the long run, inflation is caused by increases in the money supply. However, in the short and medium term, inflation is largely dependent on supply and demand pressures in the economy.[24]


But there is heavy price inflation, especially food and energy. Not a great combination.

Not ridiculous at all. Those pensioners (and various trade unionists, and everybody else for that matter) don't directly need to give a stuff about whether there's a "monetary inflation" going on or not. They can leave that worry to Austrian School wonks.

They do directly need to give a stuff about price inflation (i.e. simply 'inflation' in common usage) because that's what's under-reported and that's what's robbing them of their pensions (or wages.) If the size of the money supply were regulated well, then there wouldn't be much price inflation (or deflation), nor would there be any worries about Helicopter Ben; the money supply would simply reflect the size of the economy and pensioners would not be stolen blind. The problem with that, of course, is that politicians find hidden inflation to be a very convenient way to break the promises they made in order to garner votes, without ever having to own up to the deed. (It's likewise helpful to politicians to fiddle and confuse the unemployment numbers. Another way to break promises without owning up to it.)

PaulS: "If the size of the money supply were regulated well, then there wouldn't be much price inflation"

You are wrong. Any "Price inflation", as you call it, is the result of constrained oil production. If the Fed were pursuing a tighter money policy we would have a stark deflation (dollars would be worth more), and commodity prices would then be nominally slightly less, but it wouldn't be particularly drastic and would be an even bigger drag on the economy than our already lousy situation.

Since you want to blame the politicians for Peak Resources
then we should ask them to slap price controls on the prices of commodities to protect voters.


Instead why don't you blame the economic system for failing to provide more raw materials and energy?

You think everything revolves around buying votes and democracies are inherently corrupt.

The solution?


There's enough straw here to fuel California for a day or two. The corruption that democracy begs has been well-known for centuries, and its opposite isn't necessarily monarchy. We might start with, say, Federalist 10:

From this view of the subject, it may be concluded, that a pure Democracy, by which I mean a Society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the Government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of Government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

Unfortunately, the mechanisms that "Publius" and company put into place to try to cope with the above problem have been largely short-circuited by instantaneous media, returning us to the days of politicians making promises that sink in and take hold before anybody even gets a chance to think, "whoa, is that even possible". You couldn't stop a live speech at the Athenian forum in order to allow thinking to take place, and really it's not a whole lot more practical with modern audiovisual media - even when it is possible, by the time one is done fiddling with the crude controls and waiting out the interminable "buffering" or "seeking" delays, the train of thought has long since been lost. So people either let it all wash over them, or else ignore it, and neither is compatible with anything that "Publius" had in mind. Nonetheless, (and irrespective of broad-brush assertions about resources in general as opposed to specific ones), it doesn't really add up to a valid excuse for politicians to break promises whenever they feel like it, or to make promises that they do not intend to keep, or know full well they cannot keep.

[Oh, and (more straw): no: price controls would merely be yet another promise the politicians would be unable to keep for very long. They know it full well, so they tend to dance around the edges with stuff that nobody understands but sounds good to the masses, such as impenetrable and often counterproductive laws against "gouging".]

There is a huge monetary deflation going on.

No what is ridiculous is the claim that deflation is going on.

There is more and more money being printed.

Perhaps you meant to say devaluation of many asset classes?

It's much more ridiculous to call the Fed printing of money to fight
a worldwide deflation, inflationary.

Backwards logic.



It's much more ridiculous to call the Fed printing of money inflationary.

Printing of more money is INFLATING the money supply.

Saying otherwise is talking like the characters in the book 1984 - doublespeak was the term used for such talk.

Increasing the money supply isn't the same as inflation.

The term "inflation" originally referred to increases in the amount of money in circulation, and some economists still use the word in this way. However, most economists today use the term "inflation" to refer to a rise in the price level. An increase in the money supply may be called monetary inflation, to distinguish it from rising prices, which may also for clarity be called 'price inflation'.[23] Economists generally agree that in the long run, inflation is caused by increases in the money supply. However, in the short and medium term, inflation is largely dependent on supply and demand pressures in the economy.

Geez - typical economics thread - no one even agrees what the basic terms mean. Exhibit A of why economics is not science or even religion or anything approaching a valid, evidence-based, intellectual system. It is your favorite political agenda poorly disguised as science. Always has been, always will be. Yuck.

Increasing the money supply is the same as inflation.
The term "inflation" refers to increases in the amount of money in circulation

I've fixed your typo and edited it down for brevity.

You are welcome.

If the edits were not what you meant, then saying 'inflation had a historic definition of increasing supply of money but now means something else' is nothing more than doublespeak as made popular in the novel 1984.

I guess if one is using doublespeak perhaps 1984 should be called a historical documentation of what's happening tho....

Rockman wrote:

I still haven't heard a solution whereas most Americans can maintain something close to their current lifestyles if we significantly power down the economy. So then the choice for the American people seems obvious: either accept a lower standard of living or kill someone and take their oil/NG away. And you already know my expectations of our fellow citizens.

But of course, mon amie, that's the problem of Peak Oil, isn't it? Without a continual supply of high quality energy, BAU (i.e., the American Way of Life) will be history. Even if we could somehow act as a despotic empire and conquer the rest of the world to capture the remaining oil, even that will be gone rather soon. It's the problem of exponential growth, since the amount under the curve during the last doubling equals all that under the curve before. Growth must necessarily end at some point in time, then shift into reverse. That is, unless we (the American Public) get lucky as our scientists find a new energy infinite energy source or we decide to power down before TSHTF...

E. Swanson

So true Dog. As someone said in a movie long ago: If you're going to die eventually anyway, try to do so with some humanity and dignity. Unfortunately human nature often has a difficulty accepting such course of action.

Yeah, the last thing this species needs is more energy. Then we would just continue destructive patterns of behavior.

Blood and Oil, The Middle East in World War I

2008 - 113 minutes - 266 megabytes (DownloadHelper)

Very surprised to see the whole movie is available.
I wonder how long it will stay up?

Another copy, in two parts:

This has been up for one day and will probably be gone instantly.

"Nuke 'em and take their oil"
is making a comeback:


veggie cars - Mountain Bike Review:
"Just nuke em and take their oil. It sounds cruel, but I don't want to pay so f'n much for gas."

They still don't show returning coffins on the news, do they?

Rockman, how to maintain standard of living.
1) cut military spending to 200 billion per year. no foreign wars, no military pensions.
2) end Obamacare, medicaid and medicare. Make medicine cash and carry.
3) end oil subsidies, end farm subsidies, close dept of energy, dept of education
4) repudiate the federal debt including the 2.5 trillion owned to social security
5) raise social security age to 72, early age partial payment to 70.
6) keep social security tax (payroll tax) at its current 10.4% reduced rate versus 12.4%
7) end foreign aid, end university aid, end aid to states, end federal reserve bank issue own money for free
8) cut all government pension in place in half.
9) open up federal land for farming
10) put trade tariff in place to force balanced trade make it as high as is needed this is allowed under the current WTO agreement.
11) do the same at the state and county and town level.
12) take all land from foreign ownership and redistribute it to Americans

It is fun to dream.

ed - Exactly ed. There's an almost endless list of actions that COULD be taken. But that's why I tease folks who come up with their "dream" list, as you put it. None of us need to be told what COULD help the situation. My 11 yo daughter can come up with that story. What I'm still waiting for is the list of actions that WILL be done. Unfortunately folks have a problem understand what COULD be done and what the system will allow TO BE DONE.

I'd say you were having too many nightmares...

E. Swanson

Sure. Except their fixed costs remain the same, especially the government mandates. All of a sudden their compulsory health "care" is half their income, food is the other half, shelter is another half or more, Social Security is another third, and ... oops ...

Since we have become a very service oriented economy in part because we have outsourced or automated so much manufacturing, it seems like we should be using less energy per capita not more. The fact is that we are not structured as a country to use as little energy per capital as compared to a first world country like Germany, which still has a good manufacturing base and is able to compete on world markets. I lived in Germany and most of the people around me got to work using the bus, streetcar, train, or autobahn. It was cheaper and more convenient than the automobile. That is just an example but there was also an attitude that extended to the houses that they lived in and the habits they had that recognized the expense and value of energy. There was also a cultural perspective that abhorred waste. This was a long time ago before there was very much world wide concern about energy or oil. I am sure the Germans are even more frugal now.

We can and will cut our consumption significantly regardless of the impact on jobs. We can plan to do it in an efficient and less disruptive way or we can just sit on our asses and wait for the deluge. Yes, most of our cities are spread out and that was a result of policy choices made decades ago. We are making some baby steps some places to address that issue but it will take decades more to realize much efficiency.

There is no doubt that jobs drive consumption of oil but jobs in the U.S. drive more consumption than countries in the rest of the world.

As reported in the drumbeat, Europeans are taking even more steps to cut down on auto usage. Love it or hate it, that will give them an advantage because they can concentrate their energy usage on value added things like manufacturing. We, of course, won't move that way because it is inconvenient and even considered un American. Freedom, in the minds of most Americans is more important than saving energy or cutting greenhouse gases. Security, however, trumps freedom as we love our Patriot Acts and our 24/7 surveillance, except, of course, if that involves traffic lights. Well, our security is going to be compromised as well if we don't get on an energy diet. And that view comes from the Pentagon.

Having said all that, there seems to be something going on structurally in the U.S. economy which makes it extremely difficult to add jobs. I am not all sure that just making cheap energy available is going to change that significantly.

According to the LLNL flow diagram for 2009, energy use was 11.26 quads for residential, 8.49 quads for commercial, 21.78 quads for industrial, and 26.98 quads for transportation. Most of the oil energy went for transportation. The total was 68.51 quads.

So the energy used as a factor of production was probably the commercial, industrial, and at least 1/3 of the transportation or 39.26 quads.

The rest of the energy represents direct consumption of 29.25 quads and includes half of the oil consumption.

It is important to distinguish between energy that is being used as a factor of production to drive the economy and energy that is being used for consumption. Consumption would include residential lighting and HVAC and fuel for personal use of light vehicles. Even some of the fuels consume companies involved in transport should probably be considered consumption, e.g. jet fuel for the fraction of seat miles flown by leisure travelers.

The label at the top of the diagram says 94.6 quads. You are missing the 26 quads lost to heat engine losses when making electricity. Until we move to a new technology to make electric we will have this lose and we need the full energy to start with to end up with the lesser amount of usage energy. Even PV "looses" 80% of the input energy outputting only 20% as electricity. Though the 80% is free not costly coal heat.

The energy used to heat my house when it gets to minus 10 degree is that all consumption or partially production? People would not work here if they could not keep from freezing in the winter time. The personal consumption of gas to get to and from work is that consumption or production? The clothes bought to meet the dress code at work is that consumption or production? Where is the category war? How much of the total is consumed by war.

I think there is far less consumption and far higher costs of production than we might first think.

As a rule of thumb, if you can't deduct an energy expense on your taxes as a business expense, it is consumption.

The US has not been able to bring prices and wages into line with global values. That is everything in the US is expensive on a purchasing power parity basis. How do we lower the price and wage of everything by a factor of 10? This in turn will give us starving poor just like most countries in the world. This is the route if we want to play in the "free" market.

I prefer to go isolationist. Close the borders do not starve the bottom 20% of Americans. Make every thing we use here. End immigration until we are prosperous then it can be revisited. Generate all energy from local resources (and Canada). Use coal (and US oil, US natural gas and hydro) to tide us over to solar (in various forms) and nuclear (thorium I know this is taboo at the moment and this is not the point of the post so feel free to drop nuclear). We would have to end all wars to save money to invest in America. We would not be importing oil. Quick everybody carpool.

But money controls America this will not be done just a dream.

I liked how you added "and Canada" to "our" sources of energy.

The US does really feel it owns the big C to our north.

You are right, though, that we could relatively painlessly live withing our national means, especially for oil, with a bit of car pooling, more transit and bike and walk (and even more easily if we continued robbing, er, getting lots of it from the canucks '-)

If we also stopped dumping our enormously subsidized grain on markets to the south of us--dumping which unemployes vast legions of farmers who have little choice but to follow the money--we would pretty much end whole immigration problem without any border walls or guards.

But, as you say, moneyed interests have pretty much controlled the show. Perhaps the less deluded of those on the right and the left could finally join forces and kick the bloodsuckers out of their mansions and penthouses?

As far as I can see, what drives consumption is screwing!

No amount of energy efficiency is going to decrease overall consumption when more and more people are added every day.

I know many who post here understand this, yet it is the core of the problem which will remain as long as "solutions" are aimed at the edges.

Until the population starts dropping in large numbers, rest assured this problem will remain without a solution and thus continued to be experienced as a predicament.

It is not the screwing that is the problem but the lack of birth control.

There is no solution humans can choose that is not authoritarian. Humans will resist any authoritarian mandate in regards to reproduction.

This problem will be left to Nature to solve. YMMV.

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.

- Mark Twain

I'm thinking the indecency that man is about to commit will be like a pandemic -- only worse, in that it won't go "as planned."

A family of four upper-middle class suburbanites is like a village of bangladeshis.
Consumption dwarfs population as main environmental threat
A small portion of the world's people use up most of the earth's resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions, writes Fred Pearce. From Yale Environment 360, part of Guardian Environment Network

As far as I can see, what drives consumption is jobs

Comparing the total primary energy use [1] with unemployment rates [2] in Germany between 1991 and now, there seems to be little correlation between the two. (I didn't do the maths, just eyeballed it, so if anyone can calculate the actual correlation that would be good). So yes, you can decouple jobs from energy intensity.

At the same time as Germany has kept the primary energy usage nearly constant, it has expanded the use of renewable energy.

It is also worth pointing out that Germany isn't directly known for its financial services industry as much as for its export in industrial goods and manufacturing. So some of the more energy intensive jobs.

Of cause, all that is still not enough, but at least it shows you don't have to go in the wrong direction. What is lacking in most countries is the political will.

[1] http://www.eia.gov/countries/img/charts_png/GM_totcon_img.png
[2] http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=z9a8a3sje0h8ii_&met_y=unemployment_r...

Germany's budget deficit is downright ugly. Their level of public debt has doubled since oil peaked in 2005. They are betting the farm on sustained strong economic growth just like the rest of the governments.

They have an ugly deficit unlike the U.S. Not sure what your point is but the point still stands that they are able to maintain a decent level of employment at much lower energy use per capital than the U.S. And that doesn't even include the much better social services than we have.

apmon - You make my point for me: "It is also worth pointing out that Germany isn't directly known for its financial services industry as much as for its export in industrial goods and manufacturing. So some of the more energy intensive jobs." And in doing so they increase the value of that energy consumption and recover its expense, along with the manufacturing costs including salaries. Value added. Now let's look at Bank of America. Just happened to hear this morning they've settled an investor lawsuit for an $8 billion payback for leading those investors into bad deals. Sounds sweet, eh? The investors lost almost $450 billion. Granted BOA probably doesn't use as much energy as a big German manufacturing plant. OTOH they didn't add anything to the GDP and when the market went south they laid off 1,000's. And for good reason: those workers were no longer able to convert their energy consumption into a profitable service let alone a product that could be sold to another country.

I don't know much about the German economy but from what you've written they may be close to the other end of the spectrum from the US. Thus it seems you provide strong support for my proposition. That's my point: the issue isn't energy consumption but the gain from that consumption. German may have twice the energy consumption per capita as the US but what do they do with it? Make millions of cups of coffee for their own folks? I don't think so.

Ahh yes the Financial Services Industry....Germany does not have it and America the Religious Country does. The love of money is the root of all evil. As the saying goes Whats Good for GM is Good For America! So the Corollary must be true Whats bad for GM is Whats Bad for America. Now where is this leading? Mr. Lutz a long time car guy has finally written the book on WHY America sucks at making Cars. Drumroll- Bean Counters. Now I know Bean Counters are necessary, but the power they wield in American Business and now Politics has RUINED this country. I respect a Bean Counter that asks good questions, but ones that are Rule Followers ended up at GM and the Government, while the ones with imagination worked miracle alogrithms on Wall Street....Germany does not have these issues apparently and I wish America did not either; however, I see no end to it in the current climate.

The GM business model is one that ruined America and he admits it.


Germany's population is about the same as in 1997. The United States has grown by 35-40 million (10%+) people over the same amount of time.

I make that 13% to 15%. Cheap labor is good for the owning class. Bad for the working class. And bad for both if population is beyond the carrying capacity.

What's especially good for the owning class is 20% unemplyoment, which is realistically what we have here in the US.

Yes it drives down wage rates.

Comparing the total primary energy use [1] with unemployment rates [2] in Germany between 1991 and now, there seems to be little correlation between the two.

Did you correct for the fact that in 1991 Germany had a lot of old, very inefficient plant and machinery (a legacy from the GDR) which has been steadily replaced over the intervening 20 years?

If not, you can't really draw any conclusions at all.

Also, manufacturing isn't very energy intensive, especially for the kind of sophisticated machine tools that Germany makes.

Basic metal production and the production of cement and bulk chemical feedstocks are what take large amounts of energy. And they're being done in East Asia and the Middle East, not Germany.

Gail, slightly off topic, but your post reminded me about it. I was watching a BBC program, Panorama, basically about off-shoring the production of medical instruments. The amazing thing was that 2/3rds of all surgical instruments are made in Pakistan, in just one city (near the Northern tribal areas).

Presumably, if all these offshore jobs do come home, energy consumption will also rocket. I guess globalisation is a bit like overshoot, its a one way journey with collapse at its destination. The politicians' dreams of manufacturing and exports coming to the rescue of their disintegrating services based economies is just that, a dream.

I hadn't heard about the surgical instruments. To get the jobs home, we would need to use more fossil fuel, but we still would likely do it more efficiently from a fuel point of view than overseas.

Globalization is going to scale back, and there will be lots of things we can't make here, I am afraid. That is going to mean we end up abandoning things (cars, autos, machinery, wind turbines) before what we thought was the end of their useful lifetime, for lack of replacement parts.

Ethical trade in surgical instruments: bringing change to the supply chain (PDF)

Thousands of surgical instruments are used every day in operations throughout the UK, with a significant majority of basic instruments used globally manufactured in Sialkot, Pakistan. Sialkot supplies two-thirds of the world’s basic surgical instruments, though many of the end-users, like surgeons in the NHS are not aware of their origin. This is due, in part, to the role of companies in Germany or in the USA, where instruments are inspected and then distributed to health systems throughout the world, including the NHS. The processes involved at this stage may be minimal, such as simple checking or repackaging, but attract a significant increase in price: for example, a pair of high-quality Iris scissors has a selling price of approximately US$2 from the Pakistani manufacturer and retails to the end-user for approximately US$60.

At present, the labor cost differentials between the US and Pakistan (£31 per month minimum wage) overwhelm energy costs for this type of product.

Since the 1980s [..] Germany expanded gas and nuclear (oops)

The last reactor going online was in 1989 (Neckarwestheim II) and most reactors currently in operation begun construction in the seventies.

So I doubt that Germany expanded nuclear "since the 1980s." Actually there has been an increasingly dismissive sentiment against new nukes in the eighties in Germany.

In 1980 Germany nuclear production was 55.3TWH it was recently 140TWH although it has fallen a bit in the last few years. Peak production years were from 2000-2006. It will presumably fall substantially as of about now with the shutdown of multiple reactors.

1980 was the year of peak oil consumption for Germany.

1980 was the year of peak oil consumption for Germany.

Surprising, with so much more car miles and air traffic nowadays.

Interestingly, back in 1980, Europe's big four (Germany, France, Italy and the U.K.) consumed 8.962 mb/d (14.5%)as opposed to 8.148 mb/d or 9.7% in 2006. Japan consumed 4.936 mb/d (8.0%); in 2006, it consumed 5.164 mb/d (6.2%).

One of the conclusions in this article http://seekingalpha.com/article/79668-oil-consumption-how-does-today-com... is:

using less oil does not mean economic collapse.

Not that surprising, when you consider that in 1980, many countries were still using oil to generate electricity. The 80's saw a huge rush to get off oil - actually, started in the 70's with the construction of all those nukes, most of which came online in early 80's.

Great advances in vehicle fuel efficiency since then, which all countries except the US have adopted.

Not that surprising, when you consider that in 1980, many countries were still using oil to generate electricity.

A 1 GW oil fired power plant uses 'only' about 25.000 bopd.

Great advances in vehicle fuel efficiency since then, which all countries except the US have adopted.

Well, the German's like SUV's too and compared to 1980 there are a lot more Audi,BMW,Mercedes gas guzzlers on the road.

1980 was the year of peak oil consumption for Germany.


Germany produces but 3 per cent of own oil, and imports the rest. Oil imports were significantly higher in 1973 or 1979 than they were in 1980, so Germanys oil consumption cannot have "peaked" in 1980 (I am talking about Western Germany here.)

After 1990 (re-unification) there were many years with significant higher oil imports/consumption than 1980, of course, since there were 17 million consumers from the former GDR added. The highest imports were in 2004 and have been declining since then.

I assume Undertow meant "peaked in 1979". It's an easy mistake to make if one is reading the data off of a graph. And I also assume he is referring to modern Germany (East+West) as opposed to one or the other.

This statement is quite correct: "1979 was the year of peak oil consumption for the land area encompassed by the Federal Republic of Germany as described by the unified, post-1990 boundaries."

It's hard to spot stories about China's power issue. It's like they show up in the fine print.

Police crack down on two strikes in China
By John Chan / WSWS / June 27, 2011

... Last Thursday also, just as police broke up the Simone strike, hundreds of police were sent to Japanese-owned Citizen Watch plant at Dongguan, another major manufacturing city in Guangdong, to end a 10-day strike by 2,000 workers. According to Hong Kong’s Asiaweek magazine, the strikers were forced to return to work under strict police surveillance.

The strike had erupted after the management forced employees to work on a weekend for no extra payment because a power blackout on the previous Wednesday, which had stopped production, had been deemed “a day off”. Given the frequent power outages in recent months, this caused anger among workers, who are regularly forced to do 5-6 hours overtime a day. Their wages are also withheld if they are 10 minutes late for a shift, and they lack basic safety gear such as gloves. ...

I think one of the problems is that they are preempting blackouts so you don't see stories about blackouts.

(comment to) Chinese Car Industry Increasingly Powerless
Trend-Shifter / June 15th, 2011

I have several of my China suppliers effected by “power off” days. The power is not actually shut-off, you are just required to stop production on designated days. However you can have office staff come in and work.

This is the country producing our stuff, people. A country in which any and all dissent by workers is stifled by a brutal police state.

And nobody cares. We need cheap stuff, and we need it now, and the capitalists and the financiers need more money.

When the China story finally ends, it will be the same as peak oil. The veil will be lifted and it will be discovered that everybody is bankrupt.

The luddites, malthusians, and gold bugs are right.

Small firms, big problems as costs rise
By Chen Jia / China Daily / June 29, 2011

Rising prices have not only been hitting consumers, but also small businesses, Chen Jia reports from the towns of Baigou and Rongcheng in Hebei province.

The rapid rise in labor costs and the soaring price of raw materials, together with the increasing cost of borrowing, has left small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) there facing a dilemma. ...

... Economic shock

Because SMEs provide about 60 percent of the nation's industrial output and more than 70 percent of urban employment in China, economists are concerned that their predicament could cause a shock to the world's second-largest economy. The survey from the Wenzhou Economic and Trade Commission showed that in the first quarter of this year, one-fourth of the 35 respondent companies in 15 industries said they have suffered losses. Their combined profits in the first quarter decreased by 30 percent to an average 3.1 percent from the same period a year earlier. ...

Luddite...that would be a great name for a hacker. Similar goals, no?

Funny that Luddite is "proven" false by neoclassical economists.

"The term "Luddite fallacy" has become a concept in neoclassical economics reflecting the belief that labour-saving technologies (i.e., technologies that increase output-per-worker) increase unemployment by reducing demand for labour. Neoclassical economists believe this argument is fallacious because they assert that instead of seeking to keep production constant by employing a smaller and more productive workforce, employers increase production while keeping workforce size constant."

How does one keep production up if ... the supply of commodities is limited. Rut-Roh, Leroy.
I guess neoclassical folks need to go back to school and become NeoNeoclassical economists.

Of course, the Obama is now listed as a Luddite in the wikipedia article since he said something about Bank tellers. LMAO.

In China, we learn quite easily -- no electric power = no production of stuff.

A country in which any and all dissent by workers is stifled by a brutal police state.
And nobody cares

No, there are people who care. (unless you were saying that it is "nobodies" who care)

But what China does inside its borders are China's business - The State being Sovereign and all.

And the US of A has its history of brutal crushing of workers - Pinkertons, company towns, et la.

And if you "step outta line" the various laws on the books and the IRS are examples.

Say, if the IRS came a knocking on your door Oilman Sachs.....how would you feel? What could you tell 'em about that gold in your sacks man?

country in which any and all dissent by workers is stifled by a brutal police state.

You need to show them who's boss.

The Ludlow Massacre resulted in the violent deaths of 19 people[1] during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. The deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women and eleven children were asphyxiated and burned to death. Three union leaders and two strikers were killed by gunfire, along with one child, one passer-by, and one National Guardsman.

And don't forget the Minneapolis police riot of 1934:

"On Friday, July 20, a single yellow truck drove to the central market escorted by fifty armed policemen. The truck made the small delivery successfully, but a vehicle carrying picketers wielding clubs cut off the truck. The police opened fire on the vehicle with shotguns, then turned their guns on the strikers filling the surrounding streets. An eyewitness reported that as the pickets moved to aid their fallen comrades, "They flowed directly into buckshot fire...And the cops let them have it as they picked up their wounded. Lines of living, solid men fell, broke, wavering." He also said he saw one man "stepping on his own intestines, bright and bursting in the street, and another holding his severed arm in his right hand." By the end of hostilities, two strikers were dead and sixty-seven wounded."


But really, the Chinese situation is very bad. There are thousands of protests every year, probably tens of thousands. Many of them violent.

Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China, and industrial pollutants certainly play a major role in those figures (along with nearly ubiquitous smoking).

Actually there are upwards of nearly 100.000 small to medium scale uprisings in China each year. IIRC this number really began to take off from the beginning of the 2000s and onwards.
More often than not, the uprisings are triggered by blatant cases of corruption and cronyism. The CCP can't really curb this corruption, because the organizational structure of the party and the way it is interwoven with the State and key industries naturally fosters it. As long as the CCP won't subject itself to some kind of civil/legal oversight, it won't ever be able to suppress the corruption endemic to it.
What it does instead is using heavy-handed methods to keep concerned citizens in line. Just a few days ago certain key documents (labelled Top Secret) originating from the Central Commission were leaked to a Danish journalist. This is an incredible scoop, as political documents from that high in the Chinese system have never been leaked before. It is unprecedented. The documents called for a tougher line against any voice that challenges the Party, which includes the kind of concerned journalism that reports on environmental and political scandals. A stepping up of the propaganda effort in schools and media. Increased use of informants and the so-called "50 cent party", which consists of paid commentators whose job it is to voice pro-Party views on internet forums. And so on and so forth.
Personally, I fear the Party is beginning to ramp up the propaganda effort in order to galvanize the public, preparing for international conflict triggered by resource scarcity.

This is the same person as Casey Burns, who posts frequent antinuclear rants here among other things. Irish Flute maker as career but also an avocational paleobiologist for the California Academy of Sciences and geologically very aware. Am involved in the cutting edge here, in the last decade with cold seeps. Am researching early Tertiary echinoderms. Am a former bicycle mechanic. Drive a Honda Civic Hybrid, and heat with the sun, a wood stove, and a very fuel efficient oil-fired hydronic system. I work at home so I contribute no carbon commuting. Didn't drive a car until I was 31. So I figure I have a slightly below average carbon footprint.

I thought I would use this user name. My middle name starts with an M due to my Scottish heritage.

Notice the similarity in name to the nefarious and creepy character that owns the nuclear plant in the TV show "The Simpson's".

It gets worse - or better. I may be the original C M Burns and like to think so. Matt Groening and I are exactly the same age and went to high school just a few miles away from each other and had several mutual friends back in the early 70s, thanks to my hanging out at the Student Research Center at OMSI, which had a big presence from his Lincoln High School (I was the only one from Gresham a few districts away). I may have run into him at a party somewhere. I was quite the obnoxious dork nerd back then (my daughter called me one yesterday) and probably rubbed Mr. Groening (he is a Citizen of the World and deserves a Big Ego) the wrong way and so my name may have been borrowed for this purpose. I don't mind. I am still an obnoxious dork nerd. More accurately a "middle aged obnoxious dork nerd".

It gets even worse. I got arrested at the August 6-9 1977 occupation at the Trojan Nuclear Plant by the Trojan Decommissioning Alliance. I told this story to my daughter every time we passed by that plant on I-5 on our way to Portland. My daughter became a fan of The Simpsons. One day we were headed down The Five with a carload of students on a field trip. My daughter pointed out the Trojan plant to her friends and proudly exclaimed "See that Nuclear Plant over there? My dad used to run the place!"

I am planning to use this new Oil Drum user name exclusively. I am surprised nobody else got to it before me. I want to start working on blocking relicensing and further spent fuel expansion, especially if Kucinich moves to my district (he's been redistricted out of his district by Ohio Republicans and wants to move here near Seattle). I can't wait to send my first comment letter to the NRC Commissioners signed "C. M. Burns - yes, THAT C. M. Burns".


*Taps fingertips together* Excellent...

Playing Cat and Mouse with Global Oil

"Essentially, the IEA is trying to buy time for Saudi Arabia to increase its production. Saudi oil production has increased in June and that’s expected to continue in July. Despite the increase, Saudi production remains below peak 2008 levels despite global demand reaching new highs."...

..."Barclays argues that the IEA decision to implement the SPR “sends the wrong signal” to the market and will likely result in lower Saudi oil production over the long term, perhaps even by the end of 2011. “The use of SPR, particularly when Saudi Arabia has restated its commitment to supply customers with the crude they need, send the incorrect signal,” says Barclays.

This is partly due to the fact that Saudi oil production doesn’t have much room to grow before it is maxed out.Forcing additional Saudi production to market means this spare capacity could dry up even further."

SA is all hat and no cattle. They are committed to supply the market to what they think is needed. This is different that what the U.S. thinks its needs. They had a chance to show what they could do and refused or couldn't pull the trigger. Not that I support the SPR release as it demonstrates the inconsistency and cluelessness of our energy "policy". Every President going back to forever states the hollow goal of less dependency on foreign, especially Saudi oil. But obviously releasing SPR is not a policy, it is a sign of utter desperation. Where is the plan to cut back? More likely, we just wait until we are forced.

No doubt most Americans would be appalled at what is happening in Europe to discourage car usage. It's all about our sense of entitlement and American "freedom". All freedom. No plan.

The Daily Show
Jon Stewart
"An Energy-Independent Future"


This video is becoming harder to find.


"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

Mr. Micawber

I think the SPR release was the sixpence over twenty pounds.

I don't get it. Breaking news: Greek Parliament Approves $40B Austerity Plan Amid Protests.
And now oil drops like a rock.

Is it because the money in Europe was sitting in oil as a hedge, and now that everything will be fine, the are going back to business?

Stop looking at, and trying to make sense of, minute by minute price changes or you will go mad :-)

It's just people playing financial games with WTI

As of posting, Brent is still up 0.7%, Light Louisiana Sweet up 0.8%, RBOB (gasoline) up 0.9% and even WTI is still up 0.2% on the day.

I know, I know.
I was just trying to entice small talk, because my job gets boring, and my cuts and bruises from working on the grape vines prevent me from venturing out in the garden today.

With the weeds that grow in my yard including wild blackberry, I use gloves. I have been beat up by these annoying prickly plants to much to deal anymore. I hate the loss of a sensation of touch but when I pull weeds and blackberry, I am not very delicate about it.

Russia seems to cut off Belarus's and other countries' power as if it was a common Russian bodily function. Am wondering what would happen to a nuclear plant it Russia cut off power to some country with them, and the grid collapsed and in typical Eastern European fashion the diesel generators that provide the backup power in emergencies were not maintained and failed to function. I hope they have some exceptions to such power cutting to avoid nightmare scenarios.

Belarus should respond in kind and shut down the Caviar Pipeline heading to Moscow.

Russia does like to flex their muscles (while I can't pretend that the US doesn't do the same thing.. we just put different velvet drapes over our big stick, I guess..) .. Anyway, like Nuclear and other displays of Big Power, it works.. Until it doesn't, and when it doesn't the backfire can do great damage to the Stick-holder.

So, welcome to TOD again, Mr. Burns. Unleash those hounds, but keep those rants reasonable, if you can. No sense giving the other side any new ammunition out of rhetorical faux pas. What was your previous Handle here?


It was simply "Casey Burns".

You can see what I do for a living by visiting www.caseyburnsflutes.com

Here is my history studying fossil echinoderms: http://invertebrates.si.edu/echinoderm/body_began.htm

Here is the abstract of my Magnum Opus: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003101820500297X
This could have been my doctoral thesis except that I dropped out of college as a junior and never went back. In this paper we mention the presence of Methane. Turns out this locality sits on the only reservoir in Oregon or Washington that was commercially viable. Now used as an underground gas storage. The rocks were shelf deposits that were cooked and kerogenized by tholeiitic lava flows tunneling through the soft and muddy sediments. Our interpretation of this geology - we suspect the hardgrounds supporting the crinoids formed in the subsurface, and were later exhumed and made available to the crinoids via underwater turbidity currents. Such rocks with identical isotope profiles occur in Monterey Canyon, and were definitely exhumed. Crinoids like to stand on hard surfaces - thus limestone, basalt, sunken ships, corals, sponges, sea shell coquinas. The hate mud. They are too sensitive to live in the harsh chemical environments of cold seeps and hot seeps.

I can email the PDF of this to anyone interested instead of you having to pay the Evil Seers $37.95. If you are in to fossil crinoids this would be worth having.

I prefer to be scientifically accurate in my posts and am not a "believer", but go by facts. So I will avoid ranting too much. The facts about how bad nukes are for the planet are right out there. We've been promised "Too Cheap to Meter" and "We'll have a place to dispose of the waste soon" and many other myths by the Nuclear Power Priesthood way too long. They are a cult, asking us to believe in them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


echinoderms.. that mean 'Skin of China' (ie Porcelain) or something?

I see an Urchin at your link, and am inclined to call him Bart.

Meantime, thanks for the info, and I look forward to the coming discussions!


echinoderms.. that mean 'Skin of China' (ie Porcelain) or something?

It means "spiny skin", actually, though I presume you were being facetious :)

Ah cool, so you know Liz and some of the other folks from the Burke? I'm a paleo guy at the UW myself (I'm nobody, but my boss is a famous paleontologist ;) Since you're into crinoids, any thoughts on why the modern PNW has only comatulids but no stalked crinoids?

I know them all well and have spent hours there in Rm. 22, helped run the Northwest Paleo Association etc. The Burke is great but I am working a bunch with with Dr. Rich Mooi at CalAcademy - he's one of the leading echinoderm biologists on this coast and anywhere. Plus CAS is a larger and maybe more stable repository, being endowed by Gold Rush money whereas the Burke suffers from its State and University of Washington connections. CAS is where Weaver sent all of his type material and is where most all of my new species are headed, at least the primary type specimens - though there are duplicate headed to the Burke's collections when possible and I have a large pile of other fossils from these formations that will end up at the Burke primarily as well as soon as I organize and pack it up a bit better.

I know who you work for as well. Have one of his popular science aimed books out of the library right now to glance at. He has some interesting ideas as well as a few that I might take issue with. That is true among any science community. We're talking about Peter, correct?

The waters here have Florimetra seratissima, a comatulid. Still to be determined when these arrived - I suspect they arrived in the Miocene via the Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean, during the Miocene maximum warming. I have yet to find any centrodorsals in the fossil record, though there was one possible one from the Umpqua area in the Burke's collection. These are easily overlooked until someone is out there specifically looking for them.

The Isocrinid stalked crinoids were chased out of here soon after the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. Waters got too cold when the current changed from northbound to southbound. Isocrinus been found as far back as the Triassic. Only a few localities of possible shallow water affinities - most of the ones preserved at least were in deeper water. These are still found in the Indo-Pacific as well as the Caribbean.

There are at least 2 species of stalked crinoids found in bathyal and abyssal depths off the shores here: Bathycrinus and Ptilocrinus. Probably many others that have yet to be discovered - most of the deep sea research has been aiming towards hot spot or cold seep environments inhospitable to crinoids, so they aren't likely to be discovered unfortunately.

There are also magnificently large Paleozoic crinoids found in the Mississippian and Devonian limestones of the North Cascades and the San Juans. Large 1" diameter columnals. However, few calyx parts, though Maureen Carslyle at the Burke has been finding some intriguing material up near Everson and Maple. This is outside my scope, though I'd like to study these more some day. Preservation is horrendously recrystallized so any diagnosis beyond Order is difficult.

Again, I just do this for fun and make musical instruments as my day job.


Peter's the one indeed. And you're not the only one who takes issue with some of his ideas, haha (at least two of the books he's written since I've been here). But he's an extremely bright guy, very adaptable mind. Since he likes to talk about climate change in the media, I've tried to turn his attention towards resource depletion issues as well. I gave him Greer for the holidays last year, though I don't think he's read it yet (he got a Kindle and wanted to avoid taking cumbersome books the one time I know he had ample time to read, in Antarctica). But he met Aleklett at a symposium early this year and Kjell blew his mind, so maybe he'll take to it sooner or later. He can reach a vastly larger audience than most of us.

Very interesting about the crinoids. Are you suggesting that stalked crinoids do not live in any cold water shelf areas [anymore]? I was unaware if that's the case. Most of my echinoderm knowledge concerns either Paleozoic forms or my dozens of hours spent watching living urchins, brittle stars etc in sea tables. I've always wanted to see live Florimetra. Abyssal depths are a giant mystery in general, and there are all sorts of other things I'd love to search for too. For all we know, there could even be Paleozoic relict taxa in deep refugia.

Where in the San Juans are these rocks? That would make them much older than most of the chain. I am exquisitely familiar with San Juan Island itself and all the great sites for live animals, and the waterways from boats, and very little of the other islands. But I've never collected fossils in the San Juans, only closer to Vancouver Island. I'm happy to say that that's about to change, as we finally managed to get a permit to collect on Sucia Island this weekend. I intend to return with as many beautiful Cretaceous ammonites and inoceramids (and whatever else I can find) as I can bring without sinking his boat ;)

Curious that you do this on the side. I do somewhat the opposite. Science by day, but I'm also a musician descended from musicians. To their everlasting shame, I rock the electric guitar instead of the cello. There's nothing like a good tube amp.

Crinoids like to stand on hard surfaces



Sometimes they run like this one filmed by Chuck Messing:


In this case, avoiding having its columnals eaten away by the sea urchin Calocidaris. The latter has developed quite the taste buds for these.

The stalks have no muscles. These are all in the arms. The stalks however have mutable collagen. These things position themselves just right partially by crawling, swimming and hydrostatic lift. Once they are where they want to be, the flexible stalk collagen becomes as rigid as your fingernails. They can alter this chemically at will.

I was worried last year's spill would work its way over to the Bahamas and do in one of the largest communities of these things out there. But it stayed away apparently.



The little crinoid video has 30,000 hits, mostly from Bulbapedia. It is really interesting how much culture is embodied in these things. There is a Clannad anime.

Siuil A Ruin:

Russia may be a kleptocracy but it's controllers are not stupid. Power would be restored in minutes.

I do not know the design , number, age or condition of Belarus reactors, but I doubt that conditions are good. Given
how open and democratic Belarus is compared to , say, Japan , I am sure that the engineers in charge will be on to the phone to Moscow in seconds. Or maybe not.


Quick google reveals the number of operational nuclear reactors in Belarus : 0

Two reactors under construction by Russian engineers. They are a PWR design which does need active cooling. When (if ) they do
come on line I'm sure there will be strict Russian oversight of their operation.

Flooding engulfs oil-patch producers

Floods have slowed Saskatchewan's oil industry. (CBC)Farms aren't the only businesses in the province suffering from the worst spring flooding in recent memory, especially in the southeastern part of the province where agriculture has taken second place to oil production.

The Bakken oil field in the Estevan-Weyburn area has become the toast of North America's oil industry, employing thousands of people. Flooding there has delayed work by months as drilling sites remain submerged, forcing companies to shut down production and lay off workers.

Can Food Prices Be Stabilized?

the broader sort of policy that Sarkozy evidently has in mind is to confront speculators, who are perceived as destabilizing agricultural commodity markets. True, in recent years, commodities have become more like assets and less like goods. Prices are not determined solely by the flow of current supply and demand and their current economic fundamentals (such as disruptions from weather or politics). They are increasingly determined also by calculations regarding expected future fundamentals (such as economic growth in Asia) and alternative returns (such as interest rates) – in other words, by speculators.

But speculation is not necessarily destabilizing. Sarkozy is right that leverage is not necessarily good just because the free market allows it, and that speculators occasionally act in a destabilizing way. But speculators more often act as detectors of changes in economic fundamentals, or provide the signals that smooth transitory fluctuations. In other words, they often are a stabilizing force.


What do you think?

I'm sure we can all rely on all that green revolution natural gas fertilizer. It's clean, green, abundant and cheap, right?

WorldCrops: Fertiliser prices nearing 2008 levels
By Jeremy Bowden / June 28, 2011

Fertiliser prices have been moving up over recent months under the influence of supply shortfalls, high energy and raw material prices and strong demand. Spot granular urea prices recently surged to about $510/tonne, which is $280/tonne up on a year ago, and the market is likely to stay tight.

Plus we have the economic powerhouse, China, to make cheap fertilizer for export too

Chinese urea exports, which had been strong, have stalled since the imposition of an early seasonal hike in export duties, in an attempt to reduce demand for gas and electricity in the face of power cuts. While exports are expected to resume in July as duties fall again, they are unlikely to fully recover, given that China appears keen to conserve supplies for its domestic market. Chinese exports, which had provided substantial additional supply to the global market, could fall to around half of last year’s 7 Mt.

Urea production in China is based on coal. This is a round-about way of using China's coal. They are having problem with coal supply. Why should they use it to make urea for the export market?

I can think of a much, much easier way to get urea, and it sure doesn't involve coal. That would be painful.

Egypt: Sugarcane farmers in sour mood
The Egyptian Gazette / June 29, 2011

Upper Egypt produces around 17 million tonnes of sugarcane on area of 350,000 feddans [acres] annually. This crop yields 1.5 million tonnes of sugar, which is exported for about LE66 million ($11m).

Up to 65,000 of these feddans [acres] are being threatened with destruction in Wadi Al-Naqra, Aswan, Upper Egypt, due to the shortage of fertilisers and constant power cuts.

1.5 millions tons of sugar, exported for $11m - that works out to all of $ 7 per ton! I would be in a sour mood too if that's all I was getting for my sugar.

There is something wrong here somewhere - most likely the reporting of these numbers.

At Costco I think you can buy sugar in Ton quantity for a few bucks, no? Good point. The math here is terrible. Must be a 11 billion. Sugar is tens of cents per lb.

If sugar is $0.10 per pound then one ton is $200. So 1.5 million tons would be 300 million dollars. At 35 cents per pound it would be about 1.1 billion dollars. I go with the 1.1 billion dollars.

Metric tons of sugar trade for around $765.

I used to know how all this works, but forget now. I think this includes transportation costs, so the export price could be much lower. However Egypt is in a high demand area and would not have to ship far.


What do we think about what? Food price stabilization or the role of speculators?

OK, both.

Food prices: sure, they can be stabilized. All that's needed is the removal of agricultural subsidies in the USA and Europe, the removal of price controls and a concerted attack on corruption and cartels in South Asia and Africa, coupled with the granting of land ownership to incumbent farmers, small* amounts of extra investment in irrigation (say $0.5T over 10y), farmer education ($0.5T), and rural transport routes ($1T), and a strong attempt at breed improvement -- which means allowing some foreign access. (Oh, and free ponies for all.) Then the problem would be supporting food prices.

Speculation. In ordinary times and in moderate amounts speculation acts as Frankel says. By sharpening price movements, speculation prompts quicker supply and demand responses, increasing one and decreasing the other, thereby promoting long-run stability. In the situation we're now in, with a large, sudden, and prolonged change in the fundamentals? Not useful.

* Global GDP is over $100T. The proposal is 0.2% of that.

"U.S. oilfield service firm Halliburton Co sees a big growth opportunity in Poland where oil majors are hoping to open up a shale gas basin".

Most here probably know how to interpret this statement but for those who might not: Halliburton isn't saying the Polish SG play will be profitable or add much resources to the system. It may or may not...time will tell. What Big H is saying is they have the potential to make a big chunk of money from such efforts. Remember Big H makes the same profit whether the wells they work on make a profit or not. As a real life example today there are 178 rigs running in the Eagle Ford play in S Texas. That's around $5 million/day or close to $2 billion/year. And every penny is going to service companies that won't own any of the production. Whether the operating companies make a 15% return on their investmets or make no profit in the effort it doesn't change the profit of Big H and the other subcontractors. Likewise, the effort will also add production regardless of the level of profitability.

How profitable the various global SG plays will be is yet to be determined. But what isn't unclear: they represent a huge wealth transfer from mostly publicly owned energy companies to the service industry and landowners whether individuals or sovereign.

Selling shovels in a gold rush is good business. And if they start to strike it rich, then open up a full service saloon.

Hey Rock, somewhat loosely related question:
What do you know about ABB and their TotalFlow chromatographs and meters for gas production? I'm trying to evaluate a personal opportunity with their company and would appreciate feedback.

paleo - Unfortunately not a dang thing. Good luck.

Drill, babe, drill!

(It is babe, isn't it, babe?)

try " baby "

It was intentional.. trying to make it sound more like a crass Hollywood Pitch.. instead of the innocently cheezy Porn Dialog it has been so far.

Rock, correct except that a stock valuation based on booking reserves that aren't actually reserves since they are not economically viable can only contiue for a limited period of time. How long? I certainly do not know.

A drilling / other oilfield services boom based on development of economically viable reserves can go on until the resource has been fully developed.

I suppose I can see Chesapeake's natural gas strategies working out as pure speculation on higher gas prices. But depending on dumb luck to bail you out while going full speed to increases supply and further depresses prices?!?!?

But yet worse, if the average Eagleford well isn't economically viable at today's oil prices, I am truly puzzled. What are they thinking?

RW - As I understand it the SEC rules require booked reserves to be economic at current prices. The once used the oil price on 31 Dec but now there's a more balanced calculation. They also don't allow an entire field of undrilled locations to be booked as "proven"...only a limited number (2 or 3) offset locations.

Chesapeake nor anyone else can be drilling SG wells based upon NG price speculation IMHO. These wells deplete the great majority of their URR within 3 years or so. And absolutely no one is speculating on NG prices rising very much over such a short time frame. But you're right: adding marginally profitable NG to the market place isn't going to help price recovery. But I see demand having much more control over pricing then the supply side.

I didn't say the average EF well wasn't economic. Just that's there appears to be a rather low return on the investment. But that's not the primary goal of CHK et al IMHO: it's to add reserves which allows Wall Street to hype the stock. And that's where the shareholders are getting the bang for their bucks. As long as they sell before a collapse. Back in the SG boom days in E Texas Devon stock rose to $124/share so if you sold out high you did great. But if you got stuck and rode the stock down to $38/share you didn't do very well.

My guess for the EF Shale: as long as oil stays above $80/bbl there will be thousands of those wells drilled. And won't have any impact on PO or make much profit for the operators IMHO. But it will make the service companies and landowners very rich. So that's not a completely bad deal.

You know much more than I do about a lot of things including shale plays. However,all one needs to do is take a somewhat optomistic view of recoverable gas and voila an unprofitable but producing well looks (initially) like a winner. Not really anything criminal, but not something you would do when evaluating a producing property with an eye toward making a return comensurate with the risks.

I strongly suspect that someday $4 gas is going to look like the screaming bargain that it truly is and that it isn't a bad deal at three times that. Phrased another way it is easier for me to visualize $12 gas than $300 oil, but that may just be my lack of imagination <<>> or my inability to accept the premise that compressed natural gas isn't a great substitute for gasoline / diesel.

RW Folks like CHK CEO can as optimistic as they like but only till theres enough production history to prove otherwise. I just pulled the production history of 101 SG wells drilled by CHK on the 18,000 DFW lease. There are 21 wells no longer producing. At current NG prices they didn't recover half the cost to drill them. The other 80 wells are still producing but less than 700 mcf/ day on average. Given the well established decline rate for these 80 well they'll recover about 120 per cent of their cost. Thus not a money losing effort but a rather low rate of return and nothing to brag about. But, more importantly, prediction of high URR is totally crushed at least in this portion of the trend. Marginally profitable when considering the only the drilling cost. But here's the big BUT: CHK paid $180 million for the drilling rights. Factor that in and it's difficult to see any profit from the effort.

As some smarter than me once said: data trumps theory every time.

Rockman - interesting assessment of the real cost and 'return' for at least some of shale gas plays. Not being familiar with the US system, how available are the production figures you quote? I presume well-level data is behind a paywall of some kind.

Here in the UK the government releases gross field production values on a monthly basis (free to access). I loaded this data set into a production system database a few years back, but have not bothered to make an update since - the decline goes on, that much is certain!


trash - In Texas all the detailed production history is available from the Texas Rail Road Commission to any citizen for free. All companies drilling and producing in Texas are required by law to submit a huge amount of data to the state. They'll even give you a free cup of coffee at their headquarters in Austin. In addition to production data there are literally millions of files of data on all the wells ever drilled in Texas. Hundreds of volumes of reports on EOR projects in the state. Again, with free access. OTOH it's a tad tedious to work with their system onsite. So I don't bother. I have a subscription to Drilling Info (drillinginfo.com if you want to check it out yourself) that does all the work. Runs about $1,500/year. I can go on line 24/7 and pull detailed production data on every well in Texas. And the subscription includes all the software to manage it. In less than 1 minute I can generate an Excel spread sheet on ever well producing from any shale gas formation in Texas. It would include initial rates, monthly production, decline curves, and about 30 other parameters. As you know once the data is in this spread sheet you can analyze it a thousand different ways. This same data base exists for every state in the country. Due to the license agreement I can't ethically pass out this data. But I'm free to analyze the data and share those results with anyone I choose. And since I love to show off I do just that.

A few weeks ago one of the cornucopians posted a press release by a company whose one specific Eagle Ford Shale well had started producing at 950 bopd. It had made 181,000 bo the first 12 months with the company SPECULATING (not predicting) the well could recover 500,000 bo ultimately. Since the cornucopian was nice enough to ID that specific well I went to the data base and pulled up the rest of the story in 60 seconds. It did confirm the well did come on at 950 bopd. What the press release didn't mention was that after 12 months the rate had declined 90% to 86 bopd. I'm sure just an accidental oversight on their part. LOL. The company can speculate all they want but this well's decline curves shows there is virtually no possibility of a 500,000 bo URR. Best guess is that they'll be doing good to get half of that. Folks need to remember that our laws prohibit such public companies from telling lies. But there is no law requiring them to explain the facts in a manner folks can fully understand what they are doing. That's left to folks like me in the oil patch who can access all the facts.

It sounds like your govt doesn't make a lot of details available to the public. Maybe that's partly because all your oil/NG belongs to the Crown. In the US, as you probably know, most mineral rights are owned by individuals. Thus there a significant mandate for info the be shared. Some folks still think the US oil patch is some big hidden data base that no one can access. I don't know of any industry in the country that has as much of its detailed operations open to the public, free of charge, as the oil/NG industry. So much data that a company like Drilling Info built an entire business out of collecting and organizing this data base and charges such a nominal fee IMHO. For what it would costs me to spend a couple of weeks in Austin pulling a certain amount of data I get a full year access from DI. And instead of spending a couple of weeks compiling the data onsite I can do the same from my office computer in 2 hours. A real bargain IMHO. And access isn't limited to the oil patch: anyone with $1,500 can access all the same data: any environmental group, anyone one in the MSM, anyone in our govt's Energy Dept, etc. They'll even let a Brit join.

Fascinating. How easy would it be to fudge the numbers? Is there a history of companies lying about their production or would that come back to bite them come tax time? Boy, we would live in a different world if Saudi Arabia did what Texas does.

ts - No chance to fudge the numbers at all. Way too many folks directly involved in the cash flow: oil and NG buyers, pipeline companies, oil haulers, land owners with lucrativity royalties and highly paid auditors/lawyers, working interest owners besides the operator of the well who audit to make sure they are getting their fair cut, etc. Additionally , other than trying to cheat on production taxes and stealing from your partners, there's not any incentive to not tell the truth. The Fed is a secret society; the Catholic Church is a secret society; even the Boy Scouts are more of a secret society than the oil patch. There are just too many eyes with strong vested interests to play many games. The oil patch just stands there every day with its skirt over it head for anyone who wants to peak.

How much clearer would the KSA reserve base be if US companies were running the show? Dependeds to some degree on how many were publicly traded companies trying to hype the situation or privately owned companies that didn't care what the world wanted to hear.

Rockman - thanks that is most illuminating! It sounds like a solid system. I may test that Brit option one of these days!

Over here the UK and Norwegian governments do have detailed databases, generally operated by the big two service companies on 3 year contracts. Operating companies are required to deposit new data (production, logs, seismic & reports) in given formats and within defined timeframes. Data access is controlled by entitlements (owners, partners etc)and generally all data is eventually available after a given period of time elapses. However, beyond the top level data, you generally have to pay to receive copies of data.

Norway data background - http://www.npd.no/engelsk/projects/diskos/diskos-2.htm

UK data background - http://www.cdal.com/

DHS's First Patent: A Citizen's Dosimeter!

It fits in your wallet and can save your life.

The next step is to develop a card reader to reveal the radiation dose measured by the Citizen’s Dosimeter. In the event of a nuclear incident, first responders equipped with a card reader would immediately be able to measure radiation exposure for anyone carrying the Citizen’s Dosimeter. While it will be years before a card and reader can be prototyped, tested, certified and wallet-ready, NUSTL has lined up a team to support the effort, ...

The Citizen’s Dosimeter represents a technological breakthrough and the next generation in radiation detection.

Now they can tell you right away whether you need to stand over there with the other people behind that purple tape with DNR written on it[Oh by the way – could you tie this name tag to your toe]

Something to look forward to in our futures? …What’s in your wallet?

i believe you copied that wrong - the correct name would be Consumer’s Dosimeter. We haven't had any citizens for a long time now.

Twi - Your absolutely correct - Sorry, my bad.

There are already several "wallet dosimeters" being marketed. One survival site I happened upon is running a special: "Buy two, get one free". They'll also throw in some iodine pills if you double your order.

Currently, personal radiation dosimeter badges/cards cannot be read on the spot; it must be sent to a processing lab to determine an individual’s radiation dose. [The simple ones are just a piece of X-ray film in a foil packet]

This card is meant to be read in real time.

Edit: After reading your link a bit more maybe DHS didn't bother to shop around

From my link's FAQs:

RADTriage with the laminated red filter provides a usable life of a week under direct sunlight. RADTriage has a sensor (a rectangle strip between the color bars) with 50, 100 & 250 mSv bars on its top and 500, 1,000, 2,000, 4,000 & 10,000 mSv bars on its bottom for triaging information in emergencies. When exposed to radiation, e.g., from a "dirty bomb", the sensor of RADTriage develops color instantly. The color changes are permanent, cumulative and proportional to dose. The color of the radiated sensor is blue but appears gray with the red filter which facilitates dose reading for color blind people.
If during or after the incident, the color of sensor has not changed, the wearer has not received radiation exposure large enough to
cause acute medical effects and therefore has peace of mind. If the sensor turns light gray color, a low radiation exposure is indicated.
In this case, further exposure should be avoided. If the sensor has developed a darker gray color e.g., above 250 or 500 mSv, the user
should seek a medical evaluation. A person exposed to dose higher than 500 mSv should immediately contact an emergency room of a
nearest hospital.

As someone who ate, worked, slept with a dosimeter for several years, I'm not sure how much I would rely on a $40 piece of plastic, but there it is. It's probably good enough for some DHS lacky with a toe tag :-/

...and for a bit more (expensive) peace of mind one can get The PM1208M Wrist Gamma Indicator :

a stylish combination of gamma dosimeter and a Swiss-made quartz watch that continuously monitors environmental radiation levels and alerts user in case of danger with an audible alarm. The PM1208M can be used by both professionals dealing with radiation on a daily basis and concerned citizens.

About CAD1300

Reminds me of the lone nearly human member of section 9 in the anime ghost in the shell stand alone complex 2. he had a watch that could tell you the radiation level instantly, and he too was derided for even considering it a threat.

If the sensor has developed a darker gray color e.g., above 250 or 500 mSv, the user
should seek a medical evaluation.

If it should turn black...................ooops!


Hmmm... and why might we need these? This sounds like they are planning for the future of Nuclear Power! Well, the future of all the corroded nuke plants that we are currently surrounded by. Looks like there will be plenty of opportunities to test them out.

Experts warn epic weather ravaging US could worsen

Epic floods, massive wildfires, drought and the deadliest tornado season in 60 years are ravaging the United States, with scientists warning that climate change will bring even more extreme weather.

The human and economic toll over just the past few months has been staggering: hundreds of people have died, and thousands of homes and millions of acres have been lost at a cost estimated at more than $20 billion.

And the United States has not even entered peak hurricane season

..."Even a couple degree warming can make a 100-year event a three-year event," Mann, the head of the university's earth systems science center, told AFP. "It has to do with the tail of the bell curve. When you move the bell curve, that area changes dramatically."

and Greenland ice melts most in half-century: US

Jeez, I went to your second link (Greenland) and the imbedded Google add was brought to you courtesy of The Heartland Institute: "Keynote breakfast address by Sen. Jim Inhofe".

So screwed we are.....

The Heartland Institute - The best anti-science money can buy.

Inhofe is the dude that built an igloo in D.C. making fun of Al Gore. Very funny except that nature is getting the last laugh and bats last. This is an emergency for which there is no solution. Of course, the weather in Oklahoma has always been so god awful in the summer that most people probably won't notice the difference.

The List of Speakers at the Heartland conference includes the usual collection of denialist. Notice that many of these guys aren't scientists by any stretch of the imagination, yet, these are folks who wrote books claiming there's no problem. Then, the meat of the conference must be at 1:08 when "Spencer presents “skeptic” case". But, Spencer's latest work has been shown to be grossly flawed.

Maybe I'll watch Inhofe's speech...

Edit: At 8:30, Patrick Michaels is speaking, not Inhofe...

Edit #2: The presentation by Spencer is actually part of a debate between Scott Denning of Colorado State University and Spencer from U. Alabama Hunstville. It begins about 12:50 PM, if anyone is seriously interested.

Edit #3: I thought it interesting that both Denning and Spencer agreed on the basics. After the presentations, there a question about the relative strength of water vapor and both agreed that while water vapor was the strongest greenhouse gas, the theory and measurements of IR transmission agree. Spencer even took a loaded comment from Fred Singer in which Fred suggested that the CO2 bands were saturated, to which Spencer replied that the pressure broadening effect showed the IR window for CO2 was not saturated. However, Spencer's first slide used data from Craig Lowle's 2007 paper, which I showed to be grossly incorrect, which required an immediate re-write in 2008. I would also take issue with Spencer's statements regarding their satellite measurements, since the sun sychronous satellite orbits cover the Earth at fixed local time of the day, thus they do not provide 24 hour coverage of every spot on the ground. This is a particularly important issue at the poles, since the time of day of passage over the polar regions tends to be near dawn or dusk, thus the daily IR emissions can't be measured. Spencer's presentation sounded good, if one was unaware of the details...

E. Swanson

Regarding future development and the posts on WWIII.

I have been thinking about posting a new theory of mine. It is nothing new really and I haven not taken me the time to write my thoughts down that thoroughly. But here is a try maybe it can give you all some interesting thought patterns.

I think in response to the future development that the Chris Martensons three E:s describe the situation in a good way. What he lack is the human factor. I think we should ad a fourth E as in emotions because it is going to be the key driver in human behavior in the future. It has been argued that emotions is more driving in human behavior then rational thinking. An example when you are hungry you think short term.

I think maybe you could divide human behavior in “positive” and “negative” or maybe constructive and destructive. I like positive and negative it is binary and simple. I don not se life in black and white but in this case it is easier.

On this you can ad a global and local perspective.

Here is an example:
Local positive Global negative:
Well functioning military squad in a war.

I think our evolutionary history makes us better at being constructive on a local level then on a global level.

The history shows many examples of global negative local positive when the first three E:s are negative.

Maybe we will continue our global negative trend.

I think our emotions will be driven by the three E:s.
Global information could maybe be the game changer on our historical track record of wars. Current situations in the middle-east gives us pointers on that.

In the end it is only in the present we can make decisions.

Hopefully my thoughts where of interest!

Best regards

It was interesting to watch the Greek rioters throw stones at the police and the police to throw stones back a the rioters. A number of them threw with considerable grace and form -- they could have modeled for classical statues of discus and javelin throwers.

As political organization has evolved from the hunting band to the tribal war party to the retainers of the prince to the army of the state there has been a continual development of organized violence. This reflects deep psychological needs for identity and allegiance with groups and causes larger than the individual.

Most economics misses this because classical economics assumed that the individual acts in his own self interest. Behavioral economics has started to deal with the psychological factors, but even this tends to characterize how the individual's behavior differs from the ideal, rather than considering group behavior as a whole.

So yes, whether you call it "emotion" or some other name, there is a whole sphere of psycholocially driven social behaviors of human groupings on various scales that will be extremely important in the future.

In the article Report: 25 years since global temps were below average there is a nice list appended to the end:


Other findings of the report:

* Alpine glaciers shrank for the 20th consecutive year.
* Even with a moderate-to-strong La Nina during the latter half of the year, which is associated with cooler equatorial waters in the tropical Pacific, the 2010 average global sea surface temperature was third warmest on record and sea level continued to rise.
* Oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, suggesting that the water cycle is intensifying.
* A strong warm El Nino climate pattern at the beginning of 2010 transitioned to a cool La Nina by July, contributing to some unusual weather patterns around the world and impacting global regions in different ways.
* Tropical cyclone activity was below normal in nearly all basins around the globe, especially in much of the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic basin was the exception, with near-record high North Atlantic basin hurricane activity.
* Heavy rains led to a record wet spring (September to November) in Australia, ending a decade-long drought.
* The Arctic Oscillation affected large parts of the Northern Hemisphere causing frigid arctic air to plunge southward and warm air to surge northward. Canada had its warmest year on record while Britain had its coldest winter at the beginning of the year and coldest December at the end of the year.
* An atmospheric pattern related to the strength and persistence of the storm track circling the Antarctic led to an all-time maximum in 2010 of average sea ice volume in the Antarctic."

Add that to the list of extreme event discussed recently by Jeff Masters (with some overlap):

* Earth’s hottest year on record
* Most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record
* Arctic sea ice: lowest volume on record, 3rd lowest extent
* Record melting in Greenland, and a massive calving event
* Second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña
* Second worst coral bleaching year
* Wettest year over land
* Amazon rainforest experiences its 2nd 100-year drought in 5 years
* Global tropical cyclone activity lowest on record
* A hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season: 3rd busiest on record
* A rare tropical storm in the South Atlantic
* Strongest storm in Southwestern U.S. history
* Strongest non-coastal storm in U.S. history
* Weakest and latest-ending East Asian monsoon on record
* No monsoon depressions in India’s Southwest Monsoon for 2nd time in 134 years
* The Pakistani flood: most expensive natural disaster in Pakistan’s history
* The Russian heat wave and drought: deadliest heat wave in human history
* Record rains trigger Australia’s most expensive natural disaster in history
* Heaviest rains on record trigger Colombia’s worst flooding disaster in history
* Tennessee’s 1-in-1000 year flood kills 30, does $2.4 billion in damage"

And as Seraph's article above point out, things get wilder from here.

From WSJ: Water Wars May Lie Ahead

... Professor Patricia Wouters at the IHP-HELP Centre for water law, policy and science at University of Dundee, said the world could face a future of “water wars” as deterioration in climatic patterns and global population growth leave people struggling to stake their claim to the natural resource.

The World Bank in a report said that 1.4 million people could be facing water scarcity by 2025. But the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecast is even more gloomy. It estimates that 47% of the world’s population could face water stress in the same period–equivalent to more than three billion people.

Sometimes you can get lucky with your one in hundreds of years events. Yesterday was the rainies summer day (June-15th to Sept 15th) in the Bay area ever recorded. But we are aren't suffering like Minot, actually getting rain in summer is such a great concept actually. I had .9inches.

OTOH, it was reported that the Oman airport set the world record for the highest daily minimum every recorded, 107F. So it can be nice to get a record rain during the dry season, but a record high during the hot season -not so much. And a record rain during the rainy season, well ask the people of New South Wales what they think about that.

Study: US war spending could top $4 trillion

US spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has already cost at least $3.2 trillion, and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, far higher than previous estimates, according to a new study released by Brown University.

The study tries to account not just for the direct costs of the war, but for indirect expenses such as ongoing medical care for wounded veterans. It was carried out by Brown's Watson Institute for International Studies.

Better get Granny on generic meds and pull the art and sports out of schools to keep the war monster going. LOL. The politics escapes me. People love war spending, eh?

"People" do not control the federal government. The global corporations and global bankers and a few global ultra rich individuals do. They love war. The people want peace and bread and butter.

Nonsense. The Iraq War was immensely popular until the US started getting its ass beat. The "splendid little war" is great fun, like watching your favorite baseball team trounce a division rival 10-0. Nobody likes rooting for a loser, though, excepting Cubs fans.

The sneaky part of war is that it's a lot easier to get in than get out. Even if the war is a total loser, no one wants to be blamed for "giving up".

Absolutely worthless in terms of producing future capital though. Iraq is producing less oil than before the war. It was just a way to prime the pockets of banksters and war profiteers. Americans are so similar to Homer Simpson.

War spending instead of sports in schools. They had a PTA meeting where we discussed that the pencil budget was cut this year.

Who needs pencils? LOL. We have war on CNN.

You can't make capital by breaking things.

<snark> Somebody still uses pencils? </snark>

The Iraq War was immensely popular until the US started getting its ass beat.

Ie, when it quit being a war and became an occupation. The US has never been good at long-term occupations, from the Civil War through WWII. They're expensive and tedious and it takes an enormous effort to get voters to support them for very long. The Iraq war was sold -- literally -- as a nine-month deal: in, quick turnover to a new Iraqi government, out. Borrow the money to pay for it, or -- even better -- have the new Iraqi government pay for it out of the stupendous oil revenues they would quickly realize.

Neither Bush nor Obama seem to have been smart enough to realize that, when the military told them, "We can win this occupation," the correct answer was, "No, you can't, not on a schedule and budget the voters will tolerate." How much better off would the US be today if it had simply declared victory and gone home years ago?

Just to be clear, Bush (Cheney, really) fired or ignored anybody who disagreed with the idea that the war and occupation would be cheap and easy. Shinseki stated that an occupation would require many more troops than Rumsfeld was saying, so they just ignored him and some say they forced him into early retirement.

They (who ever that is) are about to cut social security and medicare and medicaid (though that is now transferred to Obamacare paid by your increased cost of private medical insurance) to keep the wars going.

I say cut the military down to 200 billion per year. Yes that includes cutting military pensions. Mine was stolen by the corporation a long time ago. Join the new normal with your fellow country-people. Then cut farm subsidies, then if needed cut medical care. That will leave only social security as the one remaining function of the federal beyond the military. And social security has its own tax base and is owned 2.5 trillion dollars by the federal government (the Chinese only hold 1 trillion who's smart?).

Social Security! THAT takes us back to those #$%@#$ Acorn people who started all of this in the FIRST place!!!!!

At $6. a watt installed, $4.4T buys you 733.33GW of solar PV capacity *5.5 hour solar day = 4TWh of power per day.

U.S passenger fleet average miles per vehicle per day: 32

A Nissan leaf requires 10.24KWh's to drive 32 miles.

4,033,333,333,333.33/10,240 = 393,880,208.33

So then, enough power for almost 400 million Nissan Leafs!

Number of passenger vehicles in the U.S.: 250,844,644

= 143,035,564.33 or 36% left over.

$4.4T * 36% = $1,597,837,285,934.55

$1,597,837,285,934.55 / 250,844,644 = $6,369.83

So, for the cost of the wars, we could have given every vehicle owner in the United States a $6,370.00 subsidy towards the purchase of an electric car, and free power to fuel it up to 32 miles per day. Stunning.

I'm innumerate, so somebody double check me if they feel like it.

The tragedy here is that we are not limited by fiat money, but rather by the raw material needed to produced these PV panels and electric cars. To aggregate the raw materials needed (e.g. rare earths), it will cost a lot more than the four trillion dollars in real dollar terms.

Huh? The cost of the war in hardware with rare earth metals and embodied energy is like throwing money in a hole. LOL

Well then try to ramp up production of PVs and electric cars as the above figure state, and see what happens to the prices of these "commodities".

War machines are built on existing infrastructure. For renewables in particular PV, we are talking about scaling up something that exist in a very modest quantity today.

There's something of a glut of PV these days; top quality panels selling for under $2/watt. We could start there. All of the excuses I've heard have been premature and unfounded up to now. Intermittancy? The grid seems to have no problem sucking up as much PV production as it can get. Raw materials? Why have prices been dropping if they are in short supply? Seems like a demand shortage at this point.

One can only hope that there comes a time that PV over-production becomes an issue.

Ghung, no one is stopping you or millions of others from soaking up excess supplies of PVs now nor in the future. Again in a larger context, it comes down to scale and affordability.

"Ghung, no one is stopping you or millions of others from soaking up excess supplies of PVs now nor in the future."

Jeez! You haven't seen my backyard ;-)

"it comes down to scale and affordability."

Jeez, again! If by scale and affordability you mean a silver bullet, replacing todays current level of baseload, it's an old argument excuse. If you mean a choice we can make now, one with clear environmental and economic advantages over fossil and nuclear fuels, one that, all things considered (long term operational/maintenance/shutdown/environmental/social/economic/legal costs.....Talk to me about affordable when you can quantify all of these things. Know anybody who wants to buy an old,dirty,needs-to-be-decommisioned nuke plant? Know anyone who wants to buy cheap land downstream of a coal mine? Home for lost nuke waste? In 40 years, many of these PV panels will still be producing watts and somebody will want them. The rest, easily recycled (many companies are already glad to get their old panels back:

SolarWorld, which received an 88 out of 100 on the toxics coalition's scorecard, has has been recycling its own panels since 2003 at its main factory in Freiberg, Germany. That factory now receives broken panels from its U.S. plants in Cabrillo, Calif., Hillsboro, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.)

Scale is whatever we can do before we can't. Matters not, really, we're so far into overshoot. Got PV?

My "old excuse" seems to be holding up pretty well. Jeez again is right. For decades we hear the wonderful promises of solar (PVs), and to boot there are many people in this country who want nothing more than to give the middle finger to the coal electric companies, but they can't. I'll be more than happy to pay electricity from your PV's Ghung instead of paying Northwestern Energy. I live very modestly, using only 11 kwh/day. I don't mine paying a premium just like I don't mine shopping locally. I think we are just nitpicking over details here. We can agree that renewables cannot maintain this current level of economic activities, unless you disagree.

The grid seems to have no problem sucking up as much PV production as it can get.

It may seem that way now while penetration is small, but it is not an accurate indicator of reality. The grid is not capable of dealing with a large amount of distributed, uncontrolled generation. The protection schemes are based on fixed sources and loads, and I do not see how they can maintain stability in the distributed source scheme that is being promoted. It's bad enough having a grid where loads are uncontrolled and asynchronous, but having the sources that way too is not going to work so well.

Use the renewable energy locally. Forget the grid.

It may seem that way now while penetration is small, but it is not an accurate indicator of reality. The grid is not capable of dealing with a large amount of distributed, uncontrolled generation.

As long as the buildup of variable energy sources is slow and predicatable, the grid will cope. It will mean a lot of side investments in demand management and storage. Its not like on Monday we have 1% solar penetration, then we wake up Tueday and the suddenly have 40%, and no one prepared the grid for it! We will get there one baby step at a time. The important thing is to start the journey.

One cannot leap a great chasm in two bounds.

My comments were based on some actual knowledge of this area of technology. There are a lot of things happening in in regard to the "grid". As it evolved the idea of the electric grid is that loads can be added and removed with no coordination – you can turn on anything up to the limits of your service capacity at any time, and so can everyone else. Originally most loads were lighting and service capacity was small, so the amount of generation capacity needed was fairly predictable in aggregate. But now the loads are much greater and of varying characteristics. You've got commercial and industrial loads mixed in, and much more interconnection between systems. Further, there are no limits upon whether the load is inductive or capacitive or contains rectifiers that produce harmonic currents.

The way we got to where we are is pretty much as you describe – it happened slowly and the grid adapted. That adaptation was achieved primarily by having a lot of excess capacity and occurred in an environment where energy was cheap and plentiful, and the utilities were public entities.

Now we want to add random, asynchronous sources to the system. Is your windmill working today? Did you remember to clear the snow off your PV array? How much input should the system expect from your branch of the distribution network today?

People want to think of the grid in simplistic terms, like you would consider a generator running your house. You can add whatever load you want short of the limit, and the governor will just add more fuel. But what if you had two generators going at once? Imagine if one backed off and another saw that as more load and opened up the throttle, and then the first one saw even less load and backed off more, and then the second one hit capacity and backed off, and then the first one could not pick back up fast enough, etc. In the real grid stability is maintained by having a certain amount of reserve capacity, and it is a very complex system that is not easy to model or control.

Building such a system, if possible at all will take a large investment in measurement, communications and control systems. And this must happen in an environment where:

1. The communication networks are not there, the equipment and protocols and standards are not available. We do not actually know how to build a system like this yet.

2. The security people are terrified of the system vulnerabilities to intentional sabotage and are imposing new rules that will drive up costs.

3. The utilities are now private companies that have gone through many rounds of consolidation. They've lost a lot of technical people and capability and are beholden to consultants to a huge degree. Like all corporations they are focused on making a buck this quarter, and will only spend money when they absolutely have to. In many utilities the IT groups are running the show.

4. A lot of people are banking on the fancy new control systems to smooth out the peaks and valleys and free up that “extra capacity” that is now allowing grid stability. That extra reserve has been sold many times over as the key to our happy motoring, BAU future. It's the key to everyone's technical dreams.

5. The smoke and mirrors economic recovery illusion is over and we're heading back to where we were in 2008. The real estate markets are crashing and the utility's income will be falling.

So when I read what you wrote, what I see is “Just start doing it and hope the market provides”. But I don't think a centralized power distribution grid is the way to use renewable energy.

“Just start doing it and hope the market provides”

No, things are happening more proactively than that. Not, that extra pressure needn't be applied to make the utilities aware of the future challenges. The current system is of course vulnerable, there is no different to the grid from a bunch of people all turning on their electric dryers, as from a cloud shutting down PV production, the net delta in power requirements over a short period of time is what matters. And the predicatability of the changes is important, weather related changes on a distributed system are reasonably well predicted (in a timeframe for grid response). More and more load can be attached to demand management. Strage designed for various sorts of timescales from less than a second to several hours is being experimented with. We have no choice but to go ahead with renewables at maximum speed, and that means we gotta make the investments in grid stability as well.

Your assumption is simply that it will happen because you want it to - that it will work and that we'll be able to make the investment. There is another possibility, and there are other ways to use renewable energy than by connecting to a central power distribution grid.

For renewables in particular PV, we are talking about scaling up something that exist in a very modest quantity today.

Sure, we can't just take an exact copy of what we are building today, and scale it up a couple of hundred fold. But, there are a lot of substitutions that can/will be made. Maybe your 20% efficient silicon PV panel, can only do 19% if you have to replace the Indium (transparent conductors I think), with something common but less efficient. But thats hardly the end of the PV project. As the relative costs of different ingredients changes, formulas and products will change too.

The $6 per installed watt was a very fair number. Why would cost go up as economy of scale goes up? There are zero rare earth materials in silicon based PV.

OK the cars are using magnets that contain rare earths. From http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/rare-earth-miner-molycorp-ex...

"And companies like NovaTorque are developing motors that can run on cheap ferrite magnets instead of rare earth magnets."

And Molycorp in California plans to produce 20,000 tons of rare earths per year. One car uses 10 pounds. So that is 4 million cars per year from molycorps one 55 acre mine.

Indium and gallium are RE. The supply of indium is just meeting the demand now, primarily in the microprocessor industry. We are talking orders of magnitude in scale here.

Good reason to go with silicon (sand) PV.

Chemistry 001: no they aren't. Rare-earth (RE) is a specific designation; gold and platinum are rarer still, but not RE. Indium is an issue with conductive coatings on flat display screens - not really an issue for microprocessors, which use but a trace, or even LEDs, which are tiny.

Have we really tried mining some of these rare elements for themselves? Mostly they've been a byproduct of mining something else. And until a lot of demand creates a high enough price, noone will invest in mines whose primary reason is REs (or substitute, your favorite rare material). So we really don't know how much supply we might need.

And the technology is changing. Not enough Telluride to make more than a few gigawatts per year of present CdTe cells. But people are designing next generation processes and cells that use a fraction of the thickness of todays panels. So a limited supply might well be stretched several fold.

Chemistry 002: economic chemistry. You are correct with LCD screen being the major use of Indium (see WSJ link below). Indium is very close to rarity in comparison to Au, see your own wiki link. Even rare earths are quite uniformly abundant on the earth's crust, but economically minable quantity they are not (Indium, gold, gallium etc.).


Rare earth is not the issue with solar panels. Trust me the arsenic people are kind of looking for things to throw arsenic on these days.

Indium is only a problem for those mega screen tvs that well are likely endangered species if the companies do not figure out the indium problem.

Just in case anyone is curious, the PV capacity I mentioned above, based on 230watt panels would require an area equal to about 312,589 average Wal-Mart roofs.

We only have about 8,500 Wal-Marts globally, so this would require building a lot of additional Wal-Marts.

Add in schools, hospitals and military bases and I would guess we have it covered.

...bus stops, train stations, factories, warehouses, offices, govt. buildings, McDonalds and McMansions.....

McMansions maybe not so much except in the desert Southwest. People like their trees, and PV isn't of much use shaded by trees.

... and the car parks for the above -- in the South anyway.

You forgot to add a dose of wishful thinking.

Gosh! Do I still get my other two wishes?


That looks like a pretty motley collection. Out of four units, there are at least three different types. Are you finding these at scap sales (i.e. are you getting them well below market price)?

I do like the fact that you didn't go nuts and pregrade the land, just put in the post and put up the panel. I don't understand why the utilityscale projects think thy gotta run bulldozers all over the site before putting up the panels. No wonder the NIMBY types are causing such a fuss.

Motley? 3.5Kw is 3.5Kw. 15 years of choices, grid weenie, and no neighbors to complain.

I could have bought a nice boat...

Ghung, Its not that I don't like it. I do. And I admire the do it yourself nature of it. Its just that it can be tough to get people to put these things on their roofs, if they think they might not look good. I guess for me, knowing its producing pollutionfree power makes them look beautiful. But I have no more fashion sense than a slug (so I've be told by the fairer sex).

"...run bulldozers all over the site..."

To smooth off the site for OSHA "safety" reasons, so maintenance workers don't have to stand on inclined surfaces?

Ghung's maintenance team is probably paid in organic produce though.

Pickles, organic kosher with ramps. I just made another batch.

Ghung, you made me feel powerful today, on this obscure blog with a feel keystrokes; I feel like, well at least you made me feel that can stop this juggernaut PV movement for a few years. Like I said up thread, I'll be more than happy to buy those excess kwh that you generate, and won't mind paying a premium considering that I only use a modest 11 kwh/day.

Modest? My family of four use less than 5KWh a day. We have an average (UK) lifestyle.

Without knowing the mix of how appliances and heating is provided, this could be comparing apples and oranges. For example, do you cook with electricity? Also, he may have a/c costs you don't have because of differences in climate

TO be fair, we cook with both electricity and gas, about 50-50. Air con? If the temp exceeds 30C (92f ? ) we use fans. about 3 days a year...

Heating is gas and wood. Hot water is solar and gas.

We have the usual range of appliances and computers and (one) TV and games and tools.

@RalphW and tstreet,

I'm impress. I cook with electricity, and live in a small 700 sqft condo. I have a small albeit relatively old fridge (~early 90s). Most of the time I'm alone, and where I live we don't use air conditioning but do use radiators for heating in winter. My kwh/day range is large from summer to winter(5 to 20 kwh). I was away for the entire month of April, and noticed that I used about 45 kwh during this time just to keep the hot water tank and fridge going (not thinking here). Making minor changes e.g. new fridge and hot water tank may help me get below your kwh number, but per person I'll still using more than you. Heating, hot water tank, fridge and cooking probably make up 80 to 90% of my electricity usage. Besides these changes, I don't have a lot of options considering that I rent.

Find a roommate. That way the electricity for heating place and cooling the fridge goes twice as far.


You played your pocket Aces. LOL

Add in schools, hospitals and military bases and I would guess we have it covered.

No! God has decreed that solar panels can only go on WallMarts! Consideration of any other siteing is blasphemy! Besides it would violates God's special patent provisions.

Hey fellas, have you all forgot solar water heaters? Work great, easy to do. Replace electricity or ff for very low $, AND RARE IN USA! What the hell!

I have a little PV too, and am feebly trying to get an electric car together to feed offa it. I travel about 10 miles/day, max, (and use less than 8kW hrs of grid, total, aiming for zero)

Why should the PV be put on Wal-Mart roofs?

Enough PV to power your house and two cars will fit on the roof of your house. That's the best place for it: no transmission losses, and an independent source of power. Stay connected to the grid (and pay a monthly fee for the privilege) to get peaking power and grid backup.

BTW, battery backup is not that expensive. Batteries cost about $100/kwh so you can get 10 kwh backup for $1,000. The batteries last 10 years, so that's $10/month.

For continuous use (e. g. off grid) cut your kwh in half (5kw usable for 50% discharge), add about 35% to the cost for quality cells, take really good care of your batteries, and don't cycle too hard and frequently between full charges, you'll get your ten years and then some.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending June 24, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.2 million barrels per day during the week ending June 24, 31 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging nearly 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 8.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 271 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 891 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 683 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 80 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.4 million barrels from the previous week. At 359.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.3 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged nearly 19.0 million barrels per day, down by 1.7 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.3 million barrels per day, down by 0.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged close to 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 4.7 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.4 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

The Empire Strikes Back

The empire of oil exporting countries, OPEC, has severely cut back exports to the US since about March 15 of this year. In the latest four week report from the EIA, oil imports are reported as running about 900,000 bpd less than the comparable weeks last year. No doubt this decline has been accelerated by the loss of both oil output from Libya and the unavailability of ‘floating storage’ – which the US essentially used up last summer 2010. But there are also other, more complex factors contributing to the fall in OPEC exports to the US.

Although these other factors surrounding the growing oil import shortfall are both numerous and complex, basically OPEC is just shipping less to the US and more to other locations – in particular China.

There appears to have been a growing realization that the US must take some kind of action to avoid prospective oil shortages as early as late summer. The most notable ‘action’ taken so far has been the upcoming release directed by the IEA of 30,000,000 barrels of about the best quality oil the US has in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

However such a move only plugs a short term gap and is not a functional long term solution. All claims by OPEC to increase output since the oil fields of Libya went off line have, in retrospect, been hyperbolic. This is especially true of the recent announcement of Saudi Arabia to increase ‘output’ by 1 million barrels a day. Yet in the two weeks since that bold claim, KSA has yet to increase exports. Even worse, preliminary indications from shippers are that OPEC exports out of the Persian Gulf area in the latest week are down considerably.

Still, US refiners last week kept up operating rates near last week’s levels, but were hindered some by more frequent operational problems than the prior week. Overall nationwide refinery utilization dropped from 89.2% to 88.1%, but Midwest refiners still maintained production to near their effective maximum capacity – at 95.9% - dropping back from a record setting utilization rate of 97.1% last week.

Despite the refiners’ efforts, gasoline inventories still fell. With the pending release of the SPR oil, a possible regional shortage of gasoline that I recently discussed is less likely. But unless more OPEC exports are directed towards the US in the future, the use of SPR oil is the only thing preventing more significant fuel shortages from striking in another season.

Thank you very much for these reports - they are very useful.

But with the SPR release OPEC can now grouse about and say they're cutting back. It still provides top-cover to obscure their inability to raise output.

I'll repeat what I've been saying for two weeks since the last OPEC meeting - contrary to what just about every media article said up until today, OPEC is not increasing exports and within the last week they have decreased the amount of exports. While it is possible that KSA did actually increase its internal output, if so, it has made no effort to export those extra barrels:

DJ OPEC Mideast Sailings -160,000 B/D In 4 Weeks To July 16-Tracker

LONDON, Jun 30, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Middle Eastern crude shipments from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are set to fall again, despite the promise of extra oil production from Saudi Arabia, U.K.-based tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

Middle East seaborne exports are set to fall by 160,000 barrels a day in the four-week period ending July 16, the tracker said.

The data follow promises earlier this month from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar that they would lift their production to meet rising demand both domestically and internationally.


OPEC to Cut Supply on Slower Asian Demand, Oil Movements Says
By Grant Smith - Jun 30, 2011 11:30 AM ET

OPEC will cut oil shipments through to the middle of July as Asian refiners reduce imports while conducting seasonal maintenance work, according to tanker- tracker Oil Movements.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will ship 22.7 million barrels a day in the four weeks to July 16, down 0.7 percent from the period to June 18, the consultant said in a report. The data, which excludes Ecuador and Angola, does not reflect any change in OPEC output in response to the International Energy Agency’s release of emergency stockpiles, Oil Movements said.


Charles, I remember earlier in the year, maybe around March or April, when you, myself, and a few others were predicting that it was very likely governments would tap into their reserves sometime this summer to make up for rising prices and eminent shortages.

lo and behold.

The further out into the future, the harder it is to analyze current events and extrapolate likely responses, but hey, informed speculation is what these comment threads are all about. It seems to me that the powers that be are attempting to avoid a "double-dip" at all costs. Maybe utilizing the SPR right now is necessary to prevent shortages, but it only buys a few months of stagnation. My question for you, and for those calling the shots on the SPR is: will the decline in demand after the summer driving season be enough to bring us back into a state of getting by without continued releases?

It seems that this release may buy us a little more time before 2008 repeats itself, it was starting to seem like the crash this year was already beginning to set in. So are there other factors involved here, like the chance for some "smart money" to cash out on the markets before they inevitably hit the brick wall again? Obviously we can't just continue draining the SPR indefinitely, this already amounts to 4% of the reserves. 30mb per month gives us a sliver over 2 years worth of market padding.

Basically my opinion is that the release from the SPR will not be very effective in reducing retail gasoline prices, but will be effective in postponing a potential oil and/or gasoline shortage. As it is becoming clear, not only did OPEC not increase exports as expected two weeks ago, but is reducing them. There was further confirmation of this today, although as of now the total reduction is not very significant. But perhaps the most significant thing about OPEC exports in the last 3.5 months is not the amount of oil shipped, but how less is being sent to the US.

After we get through the summer driving season in the US, the next potential supply problem won’t come up until almost winter. As of now, shortages may still develop next winter if output from Libya is not restored, and OPEC maintains its export levels as they are now. I’m guessing the SPR was planned with the expectation that Libya would be back shipping by fall, although at best, I doubt Libya under any circumstance could even get up to 50% of its former level by year end.

It may be surprising to know that this SPR release is the biggest ever, which by implication, means that the Department of Energy may think this to be a very serious shortage - since they are releasing even more oil than in the prior crisis of the early days of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina. See:


Note that only 40% of the SPR is light sweet, so they are using up about 10% right here.

The Colonial Pipeline, which ships great qualities of refined products from Louisiana to points mostly along the East Coast is expanding this summer. By the time the SPR oil is refined along the Gulf Coast region, it may be ready to be shipped north and eastward with their 2011 expansion. The pipeline has been operating close to maximum capacity so far in 2011. See:


What then will happen next time there is a pending shortage? Probably the same thing.

Thanks for the SPR-Facts link.
I posted the permalink, name, and SPR-Facts link to the SPR thread.

From FT: IMF warns US of debt ‘shock’

The International Monetary Fund has warned of a “severe shock” to global financial markets if the US does not move quickly to increase its borrowing authority, adding pressure on Congress and the White House to clinch a deal on fiscal policy.

In its annual report on US economic policy, the IMF cited “unfavourable fiscal outcomes” as one of the key dangers to the country’s economic outlook.

“These could take the form of a sudden increase in interest rates and/or a sovereign downgrade if an agreement on consolidation does not materialise or the debt ceiling is not raised soon enough,” the IMF said.

also from BBC: IMF warns US about its 'fragile' economy

I say bring it on. Time to crash this over-inflated blimp and pick up the pieces. It's happening anyway, so no more extend and pretend. Best to do it while we may still have a few options.

This is what Jim Rogers keeps saying. I agree 100% percent. I have no need to prop up the stupid rich who have made bad investments. Nor the stupid federal government that has made bad investments and unmeetable promises. Let the corporations and governments that failed die. We need to start over. Start Fresh. All US land and factories ownership needs to revert to American citizens. The year of the jubilee. This problem is not new. It is in the old testament. It is over 3000 years old. Usury keeps doing this and always will unless it is outlawed.

"Let the corporations... that failed die."

Here is a place they are born:

"A little house of secrets on the Great Plains

Neighbors say they see little activity there besides regular mail deliveries and a woman who steps outside for smoke breaks.

Wyoming Corporate Services will help clients create a company, and more: set up a bank account for it; add a lawyer as a corporate director to invoke attorney-client privilege; even appoint stand-in directors and officers as high as CEO. Among its offerings is a variety of shell known as a "shelf" company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity."


What does "agreement on consolidation" mean? I understand folding ones high interest rate credit card debt into ones house mortgage at lower interest rates but how does this apply to the federal government? Do we fold all debt personal, town, county, state and federal into one big 0.01% (Goldman Sack's rate) interest rate package that we promise to pay off in 2100?

The International Monetary Fund has warned of a “severe shock” to global financial markets if the US does not move quickly to increase its borrowing authority.

The Repubs know the Dems are too weak to hold a tough line, particularly Obama who caved SO EASILY on extending the Bush jr. tax cuts for the super wealthy. Obama's already sounding panicked. Too bad he isn't as tough as many thought when campaigning in 08. He's turned into a pandering mediator. I'm sure he'll cave and give the Repubs every single thing they want. It's practically a lock.

What is the cost of living? What would we need to do here in US to insure that all Americans can live? This would have several levels. Basic being water, food, cloths, shelter, infrastructure to support industry. Note things that are done without medical, education, any transportation beyond industry, entertainment. Modest being basic plus limited medical, limited education, limited personal transportation, personal communications. We can image levels above these. But what will it take to do basic and to do modest and are they still possible in the US?

I believe it is possible. I use the believe I do not have facts and figures. Maybe I should use the word hope. But we need at least to know how much these two levels will cost. That is cost in terms of things like energy, resources (copper, rare earths, farm land, etc..), human work (I do not use the word capital as it is loosing its meaning and may not apply at a national level in a national emergency).

It is my hope that we build a decent society but it is my expectation that we will go the way of South America, a few rich and lots of poor. The poor with no rights. They can be shot at any time by "proper authorities" (i.e. the rich and their servants).

Canada comes out of the closet Re: Peak Oil

Future wars to be fought for resources: DND

Energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns an analysis by the Department of National Defence.

"Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025," wrote Maj. John Sheahan in a draft version of the report, Army 2040: First Look. He wrote that barring the discovery of significant new reserves and adequate adoption of alternative fuel sources, critical energy shortages could before 2025.

"There can be little doubt that unrestricted access to reliable energy supplies is a global strategic issue, one for which, recently, numerous nations have been willing to fight, and have indeed done so," said the report, released to Postmedia News through an Access to Information request.

"Thus the trend that envisions depletion of fossil fuels such as crude oil in coming decades may also contribute to international tensions if not violent conflict."

... The draft report said that despite some "vigorous debates" about the pace, cause, magnitude and impacts of global warming, there "can be no further debate that global climate change is occurring."

Crop failures resulting in mass migrations and starvation, along with rising sea levels from melting ice caps and other factors, would be among the impacts.

"These sorts of changes could lead to impacts resulting in the abandonment of large urban and cropland areas, further aggravating a broad range of existing resource scarcities," said the report.

Draft Report:
Army 2040: First Look Part 1
Army 2040: First Look Part 2
Army 2040: First Look Part 4

Makes the German Army Report seem tame.

As long as Canada sells in the "free market" its tar sand oil and northwest water to the US there will be no need for war. Forget about the Chinese or there may be a need for war. Like it or not Canada is joined at the hip to the US.

I am against all war. I am against stealing from other nations. But the folks that run the US federal government are not.

On a less parochial level, all the countries that are buying farm land in other countries will in the end have to station their troops in those foreign countries to hold their claims. Much war coming. These include China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and ? Anybody have a complete list?

If much war comes, then ocean borne trade in fossil fuels will stop pretty rapidly as oil tankers, LNG tankers and coal bulk freighters go to the bottom.

Those types of ships were prime targets in WW II, and I'd think that they would be harder to protect from today's weapons.



HAPPY 4th of JULY!

+10 LOL!

Only decades ago the US was trying to keep the red commies out ( http://www.historycentral.com/postwar/Mcarthy.jpg ).
Now we bring the Reds and Chinese vaporware imports to every Walmart and Target we can. LOL. America -- a tragic comedy in several acts. The key point is the populous is easy to cajole.

Happy 4th though.

We shouldnt have too many more. I guess we should enjoy the last few.

How many 4th of July fireworks will be made in China or assembled in the USA from Chinese stars and powders?


Factory Footage:

OSHA it aint.

"DESPITE THE significant role fireworks have played in American history and culture, it might surprise you to learn that there are virtually no fireworks being manufactured in the U.S., says John Rogers, who travels to China three to four times a year with the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, a Bethesda, Md. based nonprofit focused on consumer safety. Rogers says 90 percent of the world s fireworks originate in China, from hundreds of factories in Hunan province, Jiangxi province and the southern city of Beihai. Importers, meanwhile, place orders with brokers on the mainland or in Hong Kong."


The U.K. brand was sold in 1998 and is now a line from Black Cat Fireworks, China.

American engineers, when we had them, didn't understand how different Chinese manufacturing was. A product designed with automation in mind on the production line was often inappropriate.

Notice that the fireworks are made by HUNDREDS of little houses. This goes to the idea of 3D printing: With zillions of those machines, a distributed, flexible, and local manufacturing base is made.

Every now and then we hear about some unregulated fireworks factory in a thrid world country blowing up and taking out a hundred people or so. Its inherently dangerous work. And I suspect the chemical exposure is also bad for you.

Some nice links there. I wonder if those final packs of fireworks that are being assembled in the USA from Chinese shells have 'Made in USA' or ' Made in China' on them. I fired some 'Made in UK' fireworks, when I was back there, and decided to open them up the next day (plenty wet after the UK weather). Bundles of Chinese candles!

We have a lot of fireworks here but I don't know how far the split between made and assembled goes. As for safety it is interesting to be standing in the middle of a Chrysanthemum burst and seeing it from the inside. One of the old firework makers in a local village used to make his own with an open bowl of black powder on the bench along with his Tequila and ash tray. One day he stubbed his cigar out in the wrong receptacle promptly ending his career.


I love the first paragraph of the executive summary. Basically I read it to say "there are no enemies, so how do we justify our existence?" LMAO

Tons of interesting ideas in this report. I would love to talk with the author. Here is a good quote:

"Creativity, innovation, science, technology and engineering, all shaped by human and increasingly machine intelligence, will factor prominently in determining the character of human society out to 2040 and beyond. The trajectory that these advances follow remain within the control of societies: however, such control is diminished in direct proportion to the increase in the complexity of human and national interrelationships resulting from globalization."

Is there a part 3?

From part four:

"Self sustaining exponential growth and acceleration of S&T resulting from a positive feedback loop whereby the tools from a previous round of innovation are used to make still better tools for the next."

Like chum before sharks?

"Self sustaining exponential growth and acceleration of S&T resulting from a positive feedback loop whereby the tools from a previous round of innovation are used to make still better tools for the next."

OOH! I am so stealing that!


You left out the nano-nano-technology and all that spare room "at the bottom" that it is going to create for us.

Nano energy-saving technology begins to have trouble at the level of individual atoms, however. Probably the Second Law can only be pushed so far.

Next thing in wind energy: stealth wind turbines

... “Our testing has demonstrated that we have successfully adapted military stealth technology to make Vestas wind turbines viable for placement in many locations that have been restricted by radar concerns,” said Vestas Technology R&D President Finn Strøm Madsen.

The stealth turbine solution uses a portfolio of radar absorbing materials that are integrated into the current manufacturing processes for turbine components and can be designed to operate at aviation and maritime frequencies. These modifications do not affect the performance or appearance of the wind turbines, which meet current visual standards.

Ah, so approaching ships and airplanes can no longer see 700 ft high wind turbines. Latter is an excellent way to reduce carbon emissions.

I was thinking the same thought. Although they put blinking red lights on the suckers. Then add dense fog, and the radar visibility starts to matter.

Three-dimensional object printing technology could save America.


Good thing he did not mention energy as an input to manufacturing, nor oil for plastics, nor copper, nor food for people, nor water, nor capital. The magic box is a cargo cult it makes whatever we want (as long as we are rich enough to buy the inputs). He was pitching to the top 1% not to me.

Heartland Robotics company is making the same claims.

All depends upon the slope of decline.
Splat-crash... nothing much matters.
Step-down, step-down, step-down offers acclimatizations.
Then there is the forever undulating plateau.

The offer is of decentralized design and/or catalog/customized manufacturing done to-order, on demand. It can be done on the small-scale while offering much of the cost benefit of volume manufacturing. It is, indeed, a game-changer. It also means weapons can be made at a moments notice, unlike the retooling of industry and unlike the weapons seen in WWII.

The first time I saw one of these 3D printers it was being used to generate sneaker soles in a cornstarch like material.
Are these current machines capable of "building" a product constructed of different metals?
Bearings, hardened bearing surfaces, high tensile parts, flexible parts etc?

"Are these current machines capable of "building" a product constructed of different metals?"

That question starts sounding a bit snarky.. not unlike 'Can 7 billion people each afford an electric car then?'

The versatility of such tools gives them a great number of avenues to drive down, but the fact that we can come up with passages and uses they DON'T fill doesn't really undo their real value. (It's hard to tell with text whether that was implicit in your question, but I'm afraid I hear such challenges so often that it has become hard not to think that there is such a 'debunking' in play. Apologies if I misread your comment.)

I would expect there are ways of building up metal objects with some sort of deposition technology like welding, where a fine supply wire of the right alloy is fed to the travelling head, but at that point I would expect one to create individual components, and there would be machining, fine-tuning, surface-work or tempering and assembly outside the machine.

A full-fledged 'replicator' it is not.. ("Tea, Earl Grey, Hot"), but at least it is a way to allow for a detailed and complex object design to be quickly transmitted, copied, mimicked and varied at nearby or distant sites that have this tool and some communication ability.


No snideness intended at all.

In the Autodesk video a "construction" is shown being removed from a perspex box and some fine debris being blown away from it, to reveal that it has different coloured parts. The visual implication is that it has just been generated in a 3D printer, of component parts in one process.
Am reading too much into what I see? It's really not clear.

Mr. Kowalski then speaks about building humans organs from living molecules.
I'm just interested in what the real capabilities of the technology is NOW, rather than some hugely overblown representation of what is really "do-able" mixed with a massive dose of wishful thinking.

Generating components in this manner is one thing. Complex machines made up of components generated "around", as it were, one another is quite another.

And, are they talking about using mainly plastics or maybe ceramics?

Honestly, I don't know how many material types have been successfully worked into this technology yet, tho' it seems there can be a pretty broad range of radical (typo was 'radial'.. silly me, they're working in 'Cartesian' coords!) extensions on this basic idea.

I can even see the possibility of implementing an Assembly Tool as part of the process, so if you're making a Polymer Handle, Shell or Casing for instance, that a 'Hand' tool could retrieve and position possibly a metal 'bone', a joint, or an Integrated Circuit Board into the partially grown part, and then continue to build around and onto this emplaced component, to yield a compound finished object.

I was also thinking about ways it can already create objects that have complex internal structures, like the hollows of bones, to offer the multifaceted performance of strength, flex and great lightness.. and that this might entail using a progression of materials throughout that had better relative characteristics for the Surfaces, for Bearing and Contact points, for central elasticity, longitudinal rigidity, for outer UV stability, grip or low-friction etc..

OK, thanks. It's all very interesting stuff.
It's just nice to have a clear delineation between what is and what may be!

Hello Martin

There are all kinds of these things, of 3D printers, Stereo-lithography machines, Rapid Prototyping equipment. The machines each have their own specialty and range of materials. Plastics are well represented. Several types may be used by one machine, for example a water-solulable plastic for support and jigging of other plastics in various colors as they are applied to build-up an object. A standard demo is a sphere of gears all meshed and turning together when one is moved by hand.

One artist sinters powdered stainless steel and then impregnates it with molten bronze:

. .

Bathsheba Grossman (www.bathsheba.com)

Here is a hobby site talking about making the sphere:

Here is a device an artist made for making glass art from desert sand and sunshine:
It would be a much better machine if the sun heated a reservoir of glass that was drooled onto the piece, but, hey, it gets the idea across. Imagine how much wood and time you would burn making heavy glassware with furnace and molds...

These are practical, metal parts:



They offer a laser sintered metal and nylon rapid prototyping process. For example, they make a interlinked nylon chain mail cloth in one process step.

In one demonstration, a computer evolved a walking machine, sent the construction file to a 3D printer that made the gadget which then walked away once the motor and batteries were snapped-in.


Here is a stereolithography machine kit you can buy for $500. Of course, once you buy one, you can use it to print another...



And then there is sugar, and confectionery...

K D and all, thanks very much. Very interesting information and thank you for taking the time to post it.

The Grossman work puts me in the mind of this type of hand carving, this example is early early 20th. C. Chinese but the techniques and level of skill required do this kind of work goes back much further than that, obviously.


Back in my youth I trained as a hand engraver in London and try to keep my hand in still.
My primary teacher, back then, trained at a very famous gun making company in England.
So from that experience, I've always had a strong interest in the cross pollination of high hand skills and advances in machine technology.
I always marvel at what people such as John Harrison and Charles Babbage achieved while bumping up against the limits of the machine technology of their day.

Thanks again

Yeah, I tried to get through some of Holtzapffel's books, quite the genius...
His engine turning lathes are still used a lot in the high end/hand made watch scene.


And the Russian jeweller, Faberge did a lot with it adding a layer of enamel, which really makes the patterning "pop".


One could just go so completely broke...

The pattern on The Spirit of St. Louis is "Jewel Turning", not "Engine Turning". It is done with a spinning abrasive pad. One of those fine distinctions... like the difference between adsorption and absorption.

Learn something everyday. Thanks.

A couple of examples for you, you can even try the second for yourself.




I was at a DoD facility some years back and got to see one of these in action (though it was probably a good bit more capable than your standard 3D printer). It was in the middle of building a differential gearbox with working beveled gears and everything already inside of it. The final product was incredible, though I don't know what the composite material was that it was formed out of.

I worked in that industry (3d Printing/Rapid Prototyping) for many (11)years. It is absolutely fascinating stuff but like other fields (shale gas?) is full of hucksters trying to talk up their stock prices by suggesting what might be possible.

The Achilles heel of that technology is the one already discussed here. It is fantastic for building non-working prototypes quickly - and that has great value in product development. But use in actual manufacturing of useful parts has been hampered by the physical properties of the resulting part. And the hand-waving arguments about how those problems will soon be solved by smart people are just that - hand waving, even though I have heard them for years.

Yes, a useful tool for for certain purposes. Very cool stuff. I've got a rapid prototype of an equipment housing sitting on my desk as a memento of a project from a few years ago. But the real product is made of appropriate materials, and produced in a system that can spit them out at an economical rate.

Surprisingly enough, the properties of the materials that things are made of actually matters most of the time. I think we're collectively a little too far into the virtual reality world anymore, too far removed from actually making things. There are some steps that must be done between imagining something and actually producing it. We call that engineering, and we used to be pretty good at it.

ABS plastic is useful for toys and small parts but not like steel. However, ABS parts have been printed on these things and used in labs for pieces that break and are expensive to replace. Sometimes the price of the well made item is too high relative to a cheaper ABS 3D print job.

I bet a lot of small items that are light duty should be readily printed on these units. Half the merchandise at Walart fits into this cheap level anyway ;-)

I could imagine you could reduce your inventory of spare parts. If something brteaks, type in the part number on your computer, and you have a temprary spare good enough to keep you running until the quality replacement part can be shipped in from halfway around the world.

It is fantastic for building non-working prototypes quickly - and that has great value in product development. But use in actual manufacturing of useful parts has been hampered by the physical properties of the resulting part.

Having done time at the start of rapid proptyping:

1) You can build "working prototypes" for certain, VERY LIMITED parameters. Low load, low speed pops into my mind.
2) The process is typically more 'energy intensive' than more traditional stamping, pour/finishing, or liberate your desired object from this block of material methods.

With the newer powered metal methods you can make an item that will "work" vs the plastic and UV cure methods. But a metal powder item isn't gonna work the same as taking a casting and doing finishing work.

I've seen show-n-tell prototypes made this way for a trade show, followed by a machined version for working prototypes, then cast parts for production. Lead-times, the ability to cheaply try things out and fix problems, and a host of other values come into play. As usual, use the right tool for the right job. Any discount what the marketing glossy says.

Here is an interesting article about which methods of power production are viable. I especially like the chart that shows electricity generation from 1990 to 2010.


What about Obama's clean coal? What about the two nuclear plants Obama is subsidizing to be built on the Gulf Coast in part by TEPCO?

We sure do live in interesting times. :(

The question about new coal and nuclear plants is whether they will actually be built. I have followed a number of coal plants that were later cancelled. There is also the issue of whether the new plants will be accompanied by retirement of old plants. On the whole, coal has been in decline.

I guess the owners of the coal can sell it to China. The US is already shipping coal to China. China is predicted to be at peak local Chinese coal soon. They can add most of the US coal 238 giga tons that will keep them going for a few years.

ed - FYI: I'm currently developing a small NG field about 10 miles from the S Texas Nuke plant. After the little problem in Japan the $48 billion expansion was suspended. TEPCO owned 20% of the project. As far as coal burning goes the president doing his part: they've just began constuction of a coal fired power plant (White Stallion) on top of my NG field after getting their final clean air permit from President Obama's administration. BTW: the millions of tons burned in the plant over the next 30+ years will be low quality shipped by rail from Illinois. I'm surprsied you don't know about the approval they recieved from the man from the land of Lincoln. I'm sure it must have been fully covered by the MSM.

BTW: the boys at White Stallion could hardly contain their glee. The suspension of the nuke expansion just increased their future sales price of electricty beyond their wildest dreams.

48 billion? Really?

ts - Yep...$48 B. They were going to expand from 4 reactors to 6. And that $48 B was the cost estimate not including the cost over runs such project seem to always generate. I'm told they already spent $500 million in the design and land acquisition ($88 million for that small parcel of otherwise nearly worthless scrub land). It meant 8,500 jobs for 4+ years for this lightly populated Matagorda County. Obviously a huge blow for the locals.

48 billion sounded a bit high to me. Wikipedia puts the initial construction cost at $10 billion for two units. In October 2009, the cost was increased by 4 billion.


$14 billion is still far too much for two nuclear units. The Chinese could do it for a lot less and that is why our jobs are going overseas. Does anyone have a suggestion for how to fix this problem?

Ben - Sounded high to me also. But found a link to CPS Energy, one of the participants. They say $10 billion or $13 billion including financing costs. Thanks for the correction. The $48 B was the number all the locals threw around so probably a bit of Texas brag added along the way. But NRG did report they are taking a $481 million write down on the project.

The $481 million loss is a real shame. Nuclear is good reliable power and we are harming ourselves as a nation by killing this plant. We need to find a better compromise between safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

Nuclear is good reliable power

For certain values of good.

Just like the US of A has honest government and honest large Corporations.

For certain values of honest that is.

Trust me, nuclear is not good reliable power!

I lived near Fukushima so I know.

When the troubles begin with a plant, the costs will wipe out all the profits that were made---that is what has happened with Tepco and nuclear power. Hundreds of thousand of people who couldn't flee are going to get early cancers.

The people who profit are the construction companies and electric appliance makers. Many of those appliances are useless and unnecessary.

The construction companies pour cement and then live rich.

Please let us all turn away from nuclear power. All of the waste will one day come back to haunt future generations. It is not fair.

Ben - Maybe make China our 51st state? But maybe the Chinese are thinking about making us their latest province.



...really good. I can hardly wait to buy a candy bar with one!

The debt ceiling limit is unconstitutional:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.



All Obama has to do is cite the Constitution. Being a former teacher of Constitutional Law he should know this.

The Treasury should simply ignore the Debt Ceiling Law and let anyone injured by this action take it to Court.

As George Bush said the constitution is just a piece of paper. :(

To be used against your left behind.

The right behind gets wiped with tarp paper.

(To each according to their political ideology; from each according to how much y'all can fool 'em)

If Obama decides to ignore a stupid 'law'(political stunt--GOP never cared about the debt ceiling under Bushie) the GOPers will try to impeach him for ignoring a law.

Never underestimate the capacity of 'imcompetent' politicians to make trouble.
They can be surprisingly clever when it comes to making mischief.

Senator Kent Conrad (D - ND) claims that there can be a budget deal:


That only stops them from defaulting (in theory, anyway.) Congress can certainly pass a law (and has) to prevent the executive from just incurring more debt whenever they feel like it. After all, it has the power of the purse. Of course it can also alter or repeal said law, which is what the fight is about. And of course, HuffPo is like Paul Krugman - no matter how much were ever borrowed and spent, it could never be enough satisfy them.

Cut entitlements 25%

Cut the military 50%

Cut other government spending by 10%

Repeal the GWB Tax cuts

Put the Social Security Payroll tax back where its was

Eliminate ethanol/oil/homeowners/many other tax credits and subsidies

Shared sacrifice..can you dig it?

Raise social security age at least some. When social security started half the population had died by age 65. Now the 50% point is about 82 years old. In the name of full disclosure I am 53 years old. I get full benefits (or what is left) at age 67.5

Removng the earnings cap on SS will fix things for 75 years, no other changes needed.


Raise social security age at least some.

That ends up being disquised class (and race) warfare. The poor don't live as long, and if you raise their retirement age, they end up with very little. [Which is of course the whole point of this generate a crisis, then exploit it to benefit the well placed].

Not necessary. Real SS benefits can continue to grow at the same pace as wages net of payroll taxes, without raising the retirement age further. 67 is old enough. I will have worked 55 years at that point. We should be talking about LOWERING the retirement age, and increasing paid vacation. We are a vastly richer country than 70 years ago.

Cut entitlements 25%

Cut the military 50%

Cut by 110% the fraud-filled double talk of "finance" professionals.

Do not pass go.

Send them all to jail.

Give them sledge hammers and let them break shale rock.

(Fat chance that will ever happen because they already paid off the judges)

Woooo, slow down there. At that rate we'd have huge surpluses!
Then of course the well placed woul set up another round of tax cuts for themselves, and foreign adventures.. An we are back where we started. Minus of course the entitlements, and probably public education....

As revenues coming in are higher than the needed debt service for the rest of the year, there will only be a default if Obama specifically orders Geithner to not pay the interest due on the bonds. Note that bonds that have come due could be rolled over, as that would not increase the outstanding debt.

What would happen is some other payment would not be made to free up the cash to pay the interest. And spending in excess of income minus interest would also have to stop. Entire programs might have to be cancelled if it dragged on too long. But there is revenue to pay the interest.

It's no different (except for the number of zeros involved)(Unintentional pun!) than being short of money yourself and having to choose between canceling the cable TV, the cell phone, or the internet.

This point in the 14th ammendment is really interesting. I've heard various interpretations, but what it would seem to mean is that once the debt ceiling is reached --

- the principal of maturing debt and interest payments are paid first out of current receipts,

- other government obligations are paid out of any remaining current receipts or out of debt that is rolled over under the ceiling.

So Obama and Geithner are constitutionally obligated to not default. It is unclear whether they can unilaterally determine the priority of the other government obligations.

Perhaps the Social Security Administration can continue to pay benefits out of current receipts and from maturing Treasury bonds in the accounts holding their surplus.

Let us remember what the politicians used to say social security has its own tax revenue stream and is off budget never to be touched. The Social Security Trust Fund tax revenue should pay for social security regardless of what the federal government does with its tax revenues.

The trust fund was raided long ago. It contains an "I Owe You".

No, kids, the solution is to steal all the value from the populace and their housing investments, run-off with their retirement funds, recover ten times that amount in cash to cover the default swap credits, stash that cash in offshore holding companies, pull all the manufacturing equipment and ship it overseas, open the flood gates to poverty wages, eliminate any barrier to industrial resource exploitation, pull the plug, and walk away from the whole stinking mess. The vultures will take care of it.

Spot on.

Hog factories: where corn goes when not used for ethanol.


Hi Gail,

In the case of Germany, their oil consumption has decreased, energy prices have risen, but their economy is in good condition. If done right, we can gradually power down, by moving towards alternative energy and using energy more efficiently. I am not saying this will be easy, but its worth trying and many European countries are on a much better track than the US.


Canada is on fire.


Canada has always been on fire.

That link goes to a dust storm in Afghanistan.

Sorry, PE, I didn't realize they change the image on the front page daily.

Try this: http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/individual.php?db_date=2011-06-29

Thanks Dohboi.

Canada has experienced fewer fires than average, but the fires have burned 277 percent more land than average. More than half of the 1,179,669 hectares burned in 2011 to date were consumed in the Richardson Fire.

Do we see a trend in fires up North? Last year were the West Russia fires and now Canada. Don't tell me there's a connection between higher northern latitude temps and fires! But that would mean connecting dots of information. And if too many dots get connected then it's possible some of the Arctic Circle methane could get released. But, that would infer its getting out of control. Um, well, uh, let's just ignore it - maybe it will go away. In fact let's run right past ignoring it (or irony) and drill in the Arctic for oil and gas!

No- what Stevie Harper is doing is laying off the scientists (or not giving them enough resources to do their jobs so they quit) at NRCAN or Environment Canada, so there goes monitoring or pesky studies showing that there's a problem. If you don't know that there's a problem, there's no problem, right? Sarconal off. It's getting grim up here.

>Do we see a trend in fires ...? Yes, I think we do

Los Alamos fire could become the largest in New Mexico history

Big fires have happened before in New Mexico, but scientists see a recent pattern that may be the most severe since the last Ice Age. Among the causes: fuel buildup due to fire suppression, a decline in the annual snowpack, and warmer climate.

Megafires May Change the Southwest Forever

...“If a few acres burn, a forest can recover. But at really large scales, the opportunity to recover is limited,” said forest ecologist Dan Binkley of Colorado State University. “The large-scale devastation has taken away the ecological future.”

But fires like the ongoing Wallow fire, already the largest in Arizona’s recorded history, and the record fires seen in Texas in April, are fairly unusual. They used to happen every few centuries, but now seem to happen every few years.

fuel buildup due to fire suppression,

The Second Law trumps the steady state.

"fires like the ongoing Wallow fire, already the largest in Arizona’s recorded history, and the record fires seen in Texas in April, are fairly unusual. They used to happen every few centuries, but now seem to happen every few years."

given that all that fuel is tinder dry as a result of a historical drought, the cause is not merely due to fuel build up due to fire suppression.

A good part of the area now burning around Los Alamos had been burnt just a decade ago.

AECL sold for coffee can change....

AECL sold for $15M to SNC-Lavalin

The federal government finally announced Wednesday a deal to divest itself of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and get out of the business of subsidizing nuclear reactor sales and servicing.

Joe Oliver, the minister of natural resources, said at a news conference in Toronto that the Crown corporation's Candu reactor business has been sold to engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group of Montreal, ending a process that has been in the works since 2009.

The sale price was $15 million, but the government will have opportunity to get royalties down the road because it's keeping intellectual property rights, Oliver said. However, the government will also provide SNC up to $75 million to complete development of a new reactor called Enhanced Candu 6.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/06/29/aecl-sale.html?ref=rss


SNC takes charge of Canada’s nuclear future

After 60 years of operation and $21-billion invested, Ottawa is unloading Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s Candu business for a mere $15-million and future royalties.

It will now up be to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC-T56.55-0.09-0.16%) to determine whether Canada will remain in the nuclear business, or whether the reactor division will be allowed to wither without a serious commitment to product development.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...

At last, we're free of this turkey.


Well, "we the people" yes, but what about the poor people of New Brunswick, and Ontario, who will be paying for these things for decades?

We can presume that SNC will take a very business like approach to this, which may mean not developing the next gen at all - though they will make sure they get the $75m first!

More gov money to a Quebec company...

Maybe they should have made the $75m conditional on building the next Candu in Quebec...

Hi Paul,

New Brunswick is basically screwed. The Point Lepreau refurbishment was projected to cost 1.2 billion and we're now standing at three times that, and who knows what the final price tag will ultimately be. Personally, I don't think federal taxpayers should be the ones holding the bag on this one. Play with fire, and you're bound to get your hands burned.


At last, we're free of this turkey.

Hey, Psst, over here... you with the 'Je me souviens' on your license plate, drinking margaritas on Miami beach in January. I have another one for you...


What's that you say? "Ce n'est pas mon problème!" "Ah, muchas gracias, eh!"

Clarification: Paul, I know you're one of the good guys and that you are not from Quebec, but unfortunately nuclear idiocy is a global problem and we have many 'Turkeys' waiting to turn into black swans. It is everyone's problem.

Hi Fred,

All I can say is noli insipientium iniurias pati. ;-)

Garçon ! Pourrais-je avoir un autre Canadien svp?


Some replies to questions on the discontinued "Clean and Green Investment Forum" thread:

Paul Nash: "What is the utilities position on the customer side DG these days, be it PV, AD, small hydro, or even NG engines/CHP? I would agree there are many opportunities to relieve T or (more likely) D constraints, but the utilities have hardly been champions of DG projects."

Note that my comments do not represent my company and I am not speaking on their behalf.

The utility position on a given question varies based on their market position. Some utilities are in the renewables business, some have directly competing interests with fossil fleets and low load growth, others are basically wires companies and renewable offers the prospect of growing their transmission ratebase, etc. At my CA utility we were forced to sell off most of our in-state generation assets to competitors due to deregulation, and they succeeded in robbing us blind, and we are being allowed to invest more money than ever in growing our transmission to accomodate mandated RPS generation, and we are being allowed to install some of our own DG as ratebase, so I would say we tend to be pretty pro-renewable and pro-DG. In general DG at current penetration levels is not reducing distribution plant needs, since very little of it is at all dependable, and the fraction that is dependable generally needs standby grid power. In general, old PURPA QF's and utility scale generators did reduce transmission and subtransmission needs, but with deregulation massive transmission investments were needed to eliminate grid reliance on a given generator (which provided market power to the generator).

My basic take on the current market is that the separation of generation planning from transmission planning and generator dispatch and grid operation, results in an awful lot of wasted effort and unintelligent proposed (and sometimes constructed) generator locations. We've turned what was an engineering optimization exercise into a market exercise where there are major market efficiency problems with imperfect information (information about all parameters of a proposed project is shared less well than before due to agency issues).

Customer side DG that never exports is a slam dunk (for someone who knows what they are doing) on the utility interconnection side at my company, in most locations. There are places that for grid reasons, I'd like to be able to prevent interconnection (say where an area is already generation dominated/constrained and the remaining load offsets existing generation and allows me not to curtail existing renewable or cogen generation owned by others), but I don't have that right/option. What barriers exist on my side are chiefly either perfectly reasonable engineering requirements, that only seem onerous if you have no idea how a grid operates or how the DG impacts the grid OR (for a few things), inefficient bureaucratic or obsolescent implementations of perfectly reasonable requirements which can be onerous as implemented. I am deep enough into the company to know for sure that these roadblocks are more a matter of us being to big to get out of our own way than set up to intentionally stymie generators.

On a personal note: I don't think DG makes social sense in most cases. There are exceptions (and I've strongly supported exploiting those): (landfills, CAFO's, WWTP, steam cogen opportunities, places where free fuel(solar, wind, hydro, gas) is available and capital costs are relatively low, which usually means some scale to the project or some built in cost advantage). If solar panel cost ever gets low enough that the economics work without incentives then 20% distributed penetration would be a good thing.

Note I grew up in house with solar hot water, that now has PV, my brother lived offgrid with PV and wind with his family for more than 5 years, and I support those technologies where it makes sense, but I don't think it makes sense to incentivize installing them inefficiently.

I realize that many of the Early Adopters must struggle with Buyers Remorse and an endless series of 'looks' from neighbors who have always said 'It's just not worth it.. I told you so..' and so far, they seem to be right.. but what happens when 'Noone expected a breach of the Levees' comes back and knocks us on the butt?

It's a matter (to me) of trying to read the Tea Leaves and say, 'If we got slammed by a Black Swan this week, how would all these balances of 'PV competing with Grid Price' look to us then? It's a hedge, there's no doubt about it.. so part of it has to be looked at as an Insurance Policy, not just as 'your utility bill'.

And we just get to hold our Poker Faces and say 'Do I place this bet, that we Very Well MIGHT be facing some vulnerability on the energy front', and so lay down some cash for Lifeboats that EVERYBODY else seems to tell us we'll never ever need?

Of course another piece of accounting is that your PV and Hot Water are no longer putting new pollutants into your kids and your countrymens Lungs, or C02 into the Air.. and yet no economist will give those arguments any of their billable hours to justify.

Sorry, I don't mean that I don't believe in providing incentives, or that only things that happen without market intervention should happen. I just want smarter, less inefficient incentive structures. As an example: My father's first PV project as an installer was 120kW DC on a (light manufacturing) rooftop in AZ, had a one year payback for the customer without including the value of the power produced, and earned Dad a year's income.

Incidentally, I've been saying since 9/11 that our open architecture utility grid is impossible to make invulnerable and that we need to spend money (~$100B) on small distributed backup generation. The fact that the subway in NYC doesn't have backup generation, or that most gas stations can't run fuel pumps during a power outage is idiotic.


I appreciate your well thought out answers to these questions - I thought that thread was just going end hanging there.

In general DG at current penetration levels is not reducing distribution plant needs, since very little of it is at all dependable, and the fraction that is dependable generally needs standby grid power.

not surprised at that. The places where you would have dispatchable/reliable DG, like small hydro, or AD, are likely not distribution choke points. In urban areas, the only DG candidate that can do that would be CHP, and America is just no that into that.

What barriers exist on my side are chiefly either perfectly reasonable engineering requirements, that only seem onerous if you have no idea how a grid operates or how the DG impacts the grid OR (for a few things), inefficient bureaucratic or obsolescent implementations of perfectly reasonable requirements which can be onerous as implemented. I am deep enough into the company to know for sure that these roadblocks are more a matter of us being to big to get out of our own way than set up to intentionally stymie generators.

I think the bureacratic barriers are by far the most frustrating for would be DG developers (like myself). The utilities use this as a barrier to entry for small players, and the utilities and/or gov. make small projects follow the same rules a large projects. When I first proposed small grid connect hydro to BC Hydro none years ago, I was basically told to go away, generating power is their thing. When I pushed it, I was given the environmental assessment process needed for 20+ MW plants and told my 100kW plant, that would use an existing dam, pipe etc, would have to do all these same studies, etc, which of course, were mostly irrelevant - but you have to prove it - and it kills the project.

The attitude oft eh utility, that we can do it best/bigger" does not necessarily mean they should be the only ones allowed to do it. So, as a DG developer, business opportunities go begging because of market access being denied, or given at such a cost and/or low price (avoided cost) that it is pointless.

Fortunately, that situation has changed - here in BC anyway. There is now a clear set of rules, for projects of different sizes, and developers can decide for themselves what they want to do. In effect, the provincial government told BC Hydro to get out of the way, and there are now lots of DG projects underway. And given the amount of biomass and hydro potential in this place, so there should be.

I have no problem with the utilities enforcing the engineering/technical requirements - producing electricity is a serious business -no one should get a free ride there, and I don;t think they expect to. We just wanted the "you must be this tall to ride" bar lowered, and, generally, it has been.

It would be interesting if the utilities published a map of places where they would like to see DG projects happen, and I would be OK with some differential pricing accordingly. Some projects, such as CHP and solar, can be done almost anywhere, so might as well do them where there are the most benefits.

Ben, I got a pretty good guess which utility. I've been thinking about distachable hydro storage. Seems that California has zillions of 100 to 1000 meter hills, that are mostly used only for grazing, and a lot isn't so far from the big metro areas. So closed loop hydro makes a lot of sense. They are currently tearing down old windturbines on the Altamont, practically in sight of a major reservoir. If we were smart we would run a closed loop pumped storage from said reservoir to the hilltop. Then we could replace the old WTs, with big modern ones. No need to beef up the transmission, the pumped hydro could absorb the excess wind, and release it during calmer periods, thus maximizing both the wind, and the transmission capability.

Then California uses a huge fraction of its power pumping water. I've heard a 30% figure thrown out. But, I suspect that doesn't figure in what we get back from the downhill leg. In any case, if you overbuilt the pumps, and added some reservoirs to buffer the water delivery system, you could flex the pumping power. Say pump at 130% of demand during offpeak, and 70% during peak. That could give you a lot of dispatchable load/demand flexing capability.

California has lots of places where you could do pumped hydro, but good luck trying to get anything approved!
That said, most of the "good" sites are in the northern half, although you could do oceanside pumped storage around Big Sur and south of there.

As for the amount of energy used for pumping water, its on page 8 of this 2005 report, California's Water-Energy Relationship and it is 19% of all electricity and 32% of all natural gas usage, goes to water related use (pumping, treatment, heating etc).

I saw a presentation by the lead author, and his concluding line was that if California wanted to save electricity, they were better off changing toilets amd showerheads than light bulbs!

Yes, there have been people who applied to do pumped storage in Tehachapi to get around the transmission constraints. None of those projects went anywhere. As Paul said: Good luck with licensing. We are (now) finally building the wires to allow more wind turbines to be built there (10X current capacity). Hydro (even totally artificial pumped storage) is nearly impossible politically. Note that for most of my career the large water projects pumped mostly off-peak. They are losing the ability to do that (going backward). The on-peak pumping is still a BIG piece of demand response. There are a lot of folks with wells and storage tanks who could do some version of this. Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks who could do a lot of things and none of them seem to do much of anything, even with our insanely high tiered kwh rates.

Paul Nash on smart grid hype: "Would it make any difference in the way you operate?"

On the grid ops side--Eventually yes. Immediately, not so much. The initial focus is on smart meters and billing and remote turn-on, turn-off. Being able to read voltage at any customer meter remotely is potentially very useful for troubleshooting (I think it will also reveal we have major voltage delivery issues). Being able to get a load profile for any customer over time is likely to change how we size transformers and approach load shaping and demand management initiatives. However, we currently have such data for all of our customers over 200kW, and it is not well synthesized to allow effective and efficient use due to internal inefficiencies. We have had that data for going on 9 years and make only spot use of it in detailed engineering and planning. It could be a major source of technical improvement of the system to allow provision of better service, more consistent planning and lower costs.

I have seen small co-ops, without the same incentive issues, make the switch as well, and integrate the data in excellent fashion to the benefit of their members' bottom line. It is by no means all hype, that's just the slant I take on the initial implementation at the big IOU's.

As far as automation in general, we are grossly underautomated, even though things are MUCH better than when I started here 13 years ago. I still have equipment with 10's of megawatts on it where I manually estimate loading. When I started, most of my substations and circuits had no load recording other than manual spot ammeter reads and a few pen and ink circular data charts. Try to optimize capital expenditure while guessing what your equipment is loaded to. Almost all switching was manual (which is still largely true outside substations).

Another view on the smart grid - this sort of worldview is who will be pushing back.


Technocracy is a totalitarian system of government where scientists, engineers and technicians monitor and control all facets of personal and civic life - economic, social and political. Herein lies the real danger: Who are these unelected controllers and why should anyone believe that they would be benevolent dictators instead of tyrants?



Sustainable consumption? Reconfiguring businesses, infrastructure and institutions? What do these words mean? They do not mean merely reshuffling the existing order, but rather replacing it with a completely new economic system, one that has never before been seen or used in the history of the world.

This paper will demonstrate that the current crisis of capitalism is being used to implement a radical new economic system that will completely supplant it. This is not some new idea created in the bowels of the United Nations: It is a revitalized implementation of Technocracy that was thoroughly repudiated by the American public in 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression.

I thiunk the benefit, to the customer, of smart metering, is the increased awareness of what is being used and when, which highlights opportuinities for improvements - analogous to the mileage readout on the car computer. Once we had interval metering installed at my ski resort (about 2-4MW load, but add 5MW when snowmaking was on) we then went on a witch hunt for all the phantom loads. This involved a lot of internal sub metering, but we did find about 500kW of phantom loads, and a similar amount of load that could be moved from peak hours. and this was in addition to a digital direct control system that controlled the elec heat and hot water for 350 condos/hotel rooms.

So when the customer is motivated, it is helpful. For the utility, am not too surprised to hear how little the information is used. most utilities seem to be of the opinion that analysing the customers power usage is the customers problem, especially when you make your money by selling kWhs.
I think part of the reason for the change in BC was the Ca power crisis in 2000. Where the penny finally dropped that BC Hydro would do better to get people here to use less, so they could sell lots more there. Doesn't mean the people here understand that, but the industry and gov sure do.

It seems the hype is that having the "smart grid" will somehow magically solve all sorts of problems, and make renewable energy much more competitive. It will provide a lot of information that can either be used to find and resolve all sorts of inefficiencies, or it could become a bureaucratic behemoth, with yet more people analysing yet more data for no real improvement. In either case, the meter reader is heading for retirement!


"And I love the idea of mandating digesters at CAFOs. Getting enviros and neighbors on board should be a piece of cake. And with the right incentives, getting the CAFO owners on board should be possible. Where applicable, utilities would be able to use this generation to help meet their renewable portfolio standards."

The hard part is getting farmer buy-in. I know big parts of the dairy community in SoCal and AZ pretty well (I grew up around the industry, though not actually a dairyman). At one point (age 19) I was offered a job managing a 10K cow dairy from construction thru full operation. Capital cost is a significant issue relative to the direct benefit to the farmer, but the big deal is the O&M (not core business, either). Manure management is hard enough without the complications of a digester. I would combine BIG sweeteners (government pays the reasonable capital cost in order to offset the air/water externalities, dairyman keeps free power and handles O&M) with mandates requiring it to be done and reporting on operations. It wouldn't be popular, but if it worked well enough they'd like it after a few years. If you started with only the biggest outfits, you might gain support before having to implement lower on the foodchain.


I'm not sure I agree with big sweeteners - what I think are need are serious rules (and enforcement) about effluent, odour and manure disposal. The best way to meet those, is with AD. The power production is a bonus. There should be guaranteed access to the grid -providing all technical requirements are met, and then a rational FIT, or a simple renewable surcharge on sales made into the electricity markets.

The air and water externalities must be brought into the business - maybe then many will realise it is better to let the cows walk to work.

"turbine size growth is constrained by construction and transportation."

I don't mean there is a hard limit, just that a lot of the improved economics of wind related to turbine growth and improved economy of scale, and that that has slowed because transportation and on-site construction challenges have emerged to join the mechanical design challenges.

"Wind's major problem is market structure. Right now our incentive models are rewarding bankers and manufacturers and have to have enough gravy in them to drive developers, who will then be allowed to charge market rates for subsidized sunk capital for the life of the equipment. Price is well above cost.

Could you expand on that? Do you feel investors are getting an excessively sweet deal, while consumers are getting charged too much?"

The major cost of wind power is capital cost. Interest rates on windfarms are too high. We are providing incentives (RPS and PTC plus) so that the project will be low enough risk that the bankers won't lose their money and will generate enough cashflow that the bankers can collect a high interest rate. It would be cheaper for taxpayers to just finance the projects. This is pretty similar to the college loan industry until a couple years ago.

The price of wind power is driven up by incentives, and this allows the wind turbine mfg's to raise turbine prices well above cost. Turbine supply is constrained, so even though there are lots of producers, the market is not clearing at a reasonable price. Also, patents are severely distorting the market, raising prices for preferred technologies.

My major complaint is down the road. Once a wind turbine is paid off it produces nearly free power (not quite as good as hydro, but pretty darn cheap). Since taxpayers are providing incentives, and ratepayers are paying artificially high power prices for wind to payoff the turbines, it seems grossly unfair that the turbines should collect market rates for power after they are paid off.

Regarding limits to WT sizes ; Offshore WT tripod. Try to spot the man (?) on the picture and look at that 'small' crane :-)
There is alot of (ERO)EI right there and I read the other day that auxiliary vessels for this industry were costing around 100.000 Euro/day. They better run without too much maintenance.
>> http://www.power-technology.com/projects/borkum-farm/borkum-farm3.html

There is an eerie similarity between that photo and the one of the line of stone heads on Easter Island...

But that is how modern capitalism works the workers pay for everything and the capitalists take all the profit.

We are providing incentives (RPS and PTC plus) so that the project will be low enough risk that the bankers won't lose their money and will generate enough cashflow that the bankers can collect a high interest rate. It would be cheaper for taxpayers to just finance the projects.

Agreed. The problem for a wind farm developer is that most banks don;t want to touch them. A government loan pool would resolve that, though government doesn't like to compete with banks. Maybe just offer the wind developers the same rate that the Fed offers the banks - i.e. 0%!

My major complaint is down the road. Once a wind turbine is paid off it produces nearly free power (not quite as good as hydro, but pretty darn cheap). Since taxpayers are providing incentives, and ratepayers are paying artificially high power prices for wind to payoff the turbines, it seems grossly unfair that the turbines should collect market rates for power after they are paid off.

Agreed. This leads to the situation of wind farms producing power, and collecting subsidy $, when the value of the power is zero or even negative.
Since wind (and solar, and hydro) are pretty much all 100% up front cost, I think the incentives should be towards capital costs, and once they are producing, they sell into the market same as anyone else . I am in favour of sensible renewable surcharges (the carbon tax here in BC does that) though think they should be only during peak times - no one should be getting paid to produce in the middle of the night when the power price is near zero.

My suggestion is to allow the renewable developers to write off 100% of the capital cost in the year it is incurred. This helps them to get financing/be profitable to build, and after that, when they are producing for zero marginal cost, they are actually paying more tax each year once they have cash flow coming in. On the scale of the the industry, the gov tax receipts would not change much, but it lowers the biggest hurdle to getting these projects built, and so we would see more of them. But once in operation, they are just another player in the market.

The political meddling that has gone on has enabled the renewable industry, to a large extent, but it is also restricting/distorting it, and I think it is time to sort that out. We need people/companies investing in real projects that produce real power for real reasons, not gaming of the system and subsidy mining. The bankers seem to win out of that.

Russia Uses Its Airwaves, and Then Its Power Lines, to Strike at Belarus President

At the end of the story, one finds this note:

Gazprom is negotiating to buy the 50 percent of Belarus’s national gas transportation system it does not already own.

Also bogged down are talks to merge Russian and Belarussian mineral fertilizer companies to create the world’s largest producer of potash, a crucial ingredient in modern agriculture that is used to raise grain crop yields, particularly in warmer climates.

The fertilizer merger that is behind the scenes of the political conflict would form a single agricultural supply giant controlling about 42 percent of the global potash market, likely to be a vastly profitable arrangement at a time when concern is mounting about tight global food supplies.

Another example of the New Russia, where true Capitalism (and monopoly) flourishes...

E. Swanson

Ah the American Beauty Rose.

Always interesting to read stories on how the world is trying to replace oil in everyday products. Transportation fuel is only half of the story but it is the one constantly written on.

Mining Boom Makes Truck Tires Pricier Than Porsches, Condominiums in Miami

Prices for tires about 3.5 meters (11 feet) across, used on the Caterpillar Inc. trucks that haul iron ore and coal, have touched $100,000 on the spot market, according to Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI), a contractor for mining companies including BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Anglo American Ltd. Prices rose as high as $150,000 in 2008.

Dandelions may become rubber crop

Now rising demand, a 10-fold price increase over the last decade and the rising cost of oil to make synthetic rubber are sparking renewed interest in growing Russian dandelions.

Boy, I hope they at least threw in free balancing and alignment.

Flower power. A real hipster would also want flower designs on the tires I bet.

Remember we did this in WWII. The world is back now to the resource limits in place in the 1930s.

Jellyfish clog U.K. nuclear plant, force shutdown

A nuclear power plant in Scotland was forced to close after jellyfish inundated its water filters, clogging the cooling system.

Staff turned off both reactors on Tuesday at the Torness plant near Dunbar, Scotland, as a precaution, Sky News reported. Officials did not know when the plant would reopen.

It's rare for jellyfish to obstruct nuclear plants in Great Britain, but has been a problem in recent years for power plants in Japan. Earlier this month, jellyfish invaded a cooling pipe at a Japanese nuclear plant, forcing it to lower its generation capacity.

It's ecosystem payback for over fishing. Maybe the engineers tasked with nuclear plant safety should study more Biosciences and be better trained in systems thinking and risk assessment.

(humor) Oh the irony of the pro-nuclear folks criticizing wind and solar for being intermittent!

Naw, that's the good reliable power we keep hearing about.

From BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-13971005

...Operations at nuclear power plants in Japan have been disrupted by large numbers of jellyfish in recent years.

Earlier this month, an Atlantic Grey Seal was rescued from EDF Energy's Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset after it got trapped in the inflow area chasing fish. …

and Jellyfish attack on Japanese nuclear reactor eases

and New Online Report on Massive Jellyfish Swarms

Can Godzilla be far behind.....

With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high-tension wires down

Helpless people on subway trains
Scream, bug-eyed, as he looks in on them

He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town

Oh, no, they say he's got to go
Go go Godzilla
Oh, no, there goes Tokyo
Go go Godzilla

History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man

Blue Oyster Cult

Worldwide nuclear industry woes deepen

Completing the trifecta and adding to the perfect storm is news of a work stoppage at Israel’s secretive Dimona nuclear power station.

The only thing that Dimona officials fear more than publicity is bad publicity and Israel’s Channel 10 is reporting that Dimona employees have decided to enact work sanctions after ongoing negotiations have failed to bring an end to a dispute over their work conditions.

Beginning Sunday, external workers will not be allowed to work in Dimona, and the union may shut down the core completely in the coming weeks if their demands are not met.


I noticed two brief brown-outs on my electrical supply from the grid on Tuesday night in Scotland. Not sure if the times match as I can't find exact shutdown-times for the two Torness units in the press. However, at full power, the station provides almost half of the Scottish electric demand late on Summer nights. Scotland does normally generate a major surplus with the excess exported to Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK via the grid.

Seems we’ve entered that phase of civilization called ‘Salvage Economy’

Some recent articles …

Scrap Yards Are The new Pawn Shops
Scrap Metal Prospectors
Is Scrapping Becoming Mainstream?

... scrapping and all things related to recycle. ... it used to be sort of a rare thing. Now it seems almost mainstream. Is this what our economy has sunk to really? Is this the best we can do? I would rather see scrapping, junking and recycle as an environmentally friendly and fun activity than a desperate last-ditch last house on the survival block.

S - One of the other companies my owner has is a steel salvage operation. Ironically much of what they cut up and ship to China is oil patch infrastructure including a refinery they'll spend the next two years taking apart. Scrap steel is selling for around 3x what it was when he bought the company.

So yes...we are somewhat cannibalistic. But as I've said in the past: nothing personal...just business.

Rock - I think salvage is a necessary evolution of our current economic system - it has both it's good side and it's dark side. Hopefully we don't lean to far out of the light.

S – Actually 3 sides: good, dark and profitable. Sorry…just brought on a new NG well this morning and feeling like a raging capitalist. LOL

The irony is steep: we use energy here to cut up infrastructure with its embedded energy, burn fuel to ship it to China where they use more energy to convert it to another product much of which is shipped overseas (burning more energy) and then we drive to the mall, buy some of it and haul it home using more energy.

Don’t need to quantify this relationship: China can take a bbl of oil and convert it into cash flow much more efficiently then we can. Thus it stands to reason they can pay more for that bbl of oil than many other importers. That’s been the westexas pitch for a good while: developing countries can out compete us for resources simple because they can pay more. Add that to the fact that much of the capex used to support China’s advantage is coming from interest payments on money our govt borrows from the Chinese in order to keep us functioning so we can buy more stuff from China et al.

Steeps...just steeps.

Boy, I feel like the flip-side of that coin..

I just put a few hours into using scrap steel poles and flanges from a construction dumpster to leg up a wood-shed built out of pallettes from the back of a Marine Hdw store, where I'll get more pallettes to become the winter's fuel sitting inside this little alcove.. pure scavenger, yet I know it's all on the back of active trade and construction business, so I'm aware that it's no more 'sustainable' than the dog it rides on.. even if it's riding largely for free. (But I'll have those pipes and fittings going from job to job for a LONG time.. that part might be somewhat sustainable.)


Oh yeah, no question about it. We're there.

It's in the news on a daily basis. People cutting down operating infrastructure; power lines, plumbing from new homes, copper rain gutters. It's not scrap they're going after, but material in current use. It's like termites.

Rebuilding the grid? Ain't gonna happen. There is a growing army of desperate people out there with no more vested interest in our culture or our country. Anything that's built during the day these folks will dismantle by night.

As has been pointed out already; we are SO screwed.

This is a major reason we need food stamps and other welfare. None of the US infrastructure is hardened against attack. One angry person with a pickup and a chain could do serious damage to the phone system, the cable system. None of the electrical distribution is hardened.

The same with robbery & shop lifting. Store owners can pay for food stamps, or take losses via crime & higher taxes to pay for police & prisons. Personally, I prefer less crime.

Society can only get so inequitable before people stop obeying the law.

The same with robbery & shop lifting. Store owners can pay for food stamps, or take losses via crime & higher taxes to pay for police & prisons. Personally, I prefer less crime.

But, that goes against our nature. We wanna punish the wrongdoers, and the social-class from which they spring. It turns into millions for police and prisons, being preferred to thousands on welfare.

There is a growing army of desperate people out there with no more vested interest in our culture or our country.

Unfortunately true jabberwock. During Clinton's short military jaunt into Somalia (Blackhawk Down) one item I found interesting was the ripping apart of the infrastructure in Somalia, particularly copper from power lines. At the time I thought those people just don't understand the importance of infrastructure. It did not occur to me at the time the same thing could ever happen here.

Bronze statues, the double check-valve assemblies at schools and businesses, copper pipe and wire from construction sites, one fellow blew himself up last week trying to steal a 3500 Volt transformer in a vault...

"The bell was stolen from the St Bride's Anglican Church in Otorohanga two weeks ago. It was recovered after an Auckland scrap metal dealer recognised it following an appeal for its return. The 75kg bronze bell came from the British warship HMS Pembroke"

"A temporary marker on the grave of a World War II veteran was reported stolen Wednesday morning from Brook Hill Memorial Gardens in Rockwell. According to the report from the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, the 50-pound bronze"

"300-pound bronze statue that they believed was stolen. On May 21, the statue was taken in at Allied Recycling"

"RANCHO CUCAMONGA- Several business owners in an industrial area of the city have had back flow valves stolen over the few weeks."

"After someone pulled off the business' back flow valve, water came flooding into the basement"

"Copper theft knocks out power in Cranberry:
The explosion damaged the transformer, causing the power outage. It was the fourth time in the past week that Penn Power has had copper stolen."

"Holland, who entered a chain-link fence marked by a "High Voltage" warning sign, was electrocuted when he fell onto a transformer while holding a copper ground wire."

"A Los Angeles man was killed in April trying to steal copper wiring from a live transformer, and there were similar cases in Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio last year."

"In a particularly brazen example, thieves stole an aluminum light pole"

The art disappearing is very sad. Infrastructure goes down, other damage is done, and things become unsafe.

"A Los Angeles man was killed in April trying to steal copper wiring from a live transformer, and there were similar cases in Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio last year."

And I bet the vultureslawyers are circling like buzzards, trying to be the one who gets to sue the utility on account of the thief's family.

They are taking all the earth wires from the meters to the ground spike around here. I've noticed a few missing from the power poles too.


Helluva list there Denku. Seems like there better be a counter measure put in place soon to avert widespread catastrophic infrastructure damage. This is where regulation can play an important role. Require a specialized business certification that costs $100,000 for the recycle sale of copper, brass, bronze and any other metals so deemed as necessary to control unwanted damage, and require paperwork from the locations the material originated.

By allowing regular people to get paid for recycling these metals invites trouble on a potentially civilization ending scale.

Increase police patrols and have state officials regularly vista and audit the scrap dealer.

Pull the cops off this idiotic war on drugs beat and have them patrol to deter property crime and crimes against persons etc.

In Vancouver, it is a requirement that all scrap dealers must see, and record, a photo ID from the scrap seller. The place I go to (taking scrap plumbing brass from retrofits) also asks you to smile for the camera (a bit like border guards) and only pays you with a cheque! Since they instituted these policies, they have had no "suspect" people or materials come through the door.

They said the next stage they will go to is to photograph the seller, with the scrap they are selling - for future reference. If the province made that a requirement for all scrap dealers, i think that would cut down on the theft at least somewhat.

Yes, that is what I saw some of going on at a scrap yard here in California. Anyone selling metal had to show identification and payment was by check. The owner said he had put up with this for two years so far.

Scrap laws by state:
This says photograph and video also required.


You should look at "The Western Tradition" show from PBS by Eugin Weber out of UCLA and illustrated with artwork from the New York Museum of Art's episode on "Decaying Military Protectorates", or just the subject in general. Very Interesting.

This has a lot to do with commodity prices, and a lot less to do with tough economic times. We have this problem everytime metal prices hit high levels, whether the economy is bad (high unemployment) or not. Many (I would say a majority) of the thieves are substance abusers who can't hold a job, even when there are jobs to be had. We used to call a ground conductor cut off a utility pole as high up as a tall man could reach "a tall boy" not because you had to be tall to reach that high, but because the money from that 8' of #4CU was about enough to buy a big beer (a tall boy). Meth is the current scourge.
The problem now is crooked scrap dealers. Many of them are basically fences. We have undercover folks busting them right and left for not following the scrap laws.

Good list, KD.

Here's the latest from my neck of the woods here in SE PA. Catalytic converters are being stolen out from underneath commuter's cars while they are parked at SEPTA train stations in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. These converters contain platinum, of course. Cost of repairs average from $1,200 to $2k.

Are you really sure you want to use public transportation? REALLY sure?? Maybe you should just drive into town and pay to park in a secure indoor garage.
So much for public transit:-/

Maybe that's a good reason to drive something to the Train that doesn't HAVE a Cat. Converter in the first place.. IE, there are other ways besides just dumping transit to skin that cat..

Is Scrapping Becoming Mainstream? - My old man, who's hauled a ton or 2 of metal in his day, gets calls from the locals about how someone claimed they'd haul away the scrap and what happens is the "good stuff" gets stripped and they got left with the "tin". Not to mention the people unemployed from the 'plant are running into him at the store and asking how he made money doing the scrapp'n because it seems too many people are doing the same thing.

U.S. caught China buying more debt than disclosed

… The incident calls into question just how clear a handle the Treasury has had on who is buying U.S. debt. Chinese entities hold at least $1.115 trillion in U.S. government debt, and are thought to account for roughly 26 percent of the paper issued by Washington, according to U.S. government data released on June 15.

China's vast Treasury holdings are both a lifeline and a vulnerability for Washington - if the Chinese sold their Treasuries all at once, it could undermine U.S. markets and the economy by driving interest rates higher very quickly. Scenarios of this sort have been discussed in Washington defense-policy circles for at least a year now. Not knowing the full extent of these holdings would make it even more difficult to assess China's political leverage over U.S. finances.

The Treasury has long said that it has a diversified base of investors and isn't overly reliant on any single buyer to digest new U.S. Treasury issuance. Evidence that China was actually buying more than disclosed would cast doubt on those assurances

Hey, I've got a weird idea. Don't spend more than is taken in and the Govt. no longer has to worry about the exact total of US debt China is holding.

But maybe the realization of a higher total held by China is a good thing, because at some point China will hold the power to dictate the terms of our fiscal policies, and that's when the US will be forced to balance the budget.

What percent of US coal, oil and nat gas does China own?

IHS: Full Japan quake recovery by September

The electronics industry supply chain is expected to be completely recovered from the after effects of the March 11 earthquake in Japan by the end of the third quarter, according to a report by market research firm IHS iSuppli. Electronics companies with operations near the epicenter of the quake that suffered building and equipment damage are expected to restore full shipments by early September, six months after the quake, IHS said. The restoration will coincide with the peak season for electronics and semiconductor sales in the third quarter, according to the firm.

Hah! I hope you don't really believe that.

Before September there will be some deterioration in the Euro picture or the debt ceiling negotiations in the US and that will make the economy in Japan swoon again. These companies will say anything to avoid reducing their access to credit. It is just bluster.

Does anyone else look at things like this?

1) Denial---The US housing bubble---"There is NO problem!!"
2) Anger---The Financial Crisis of 2008----"We are going to fight this/we are going to win!!"
3) Negotiation----The Euro crisis, sovereign debt issues---"let's talk about this, maybe there is a way through---hey you bankers, why don't you help us?"
4) Depression---(in the future)---"EEEEEK!!!"
59 Acceptance----(in the future)----"nevermind, it had to happen"

According to this article, Hugo Chavez has a cancerous tumor: