Drumbeat: July 1, 2011

Analysis - Retail bloodletting has only just begun

(Reuters) - A string of retail failures in Britain could be the tip of the iceberg as shoppers cut back dramatically on non-essentials.

Analysts say more will go to the wall in coming months as consumers, grappling with rising prices, particularly fuel and energy, subdued wages growth, a lack of credit, job insecurity, a stagnant housing market, government austerity measures and fears of interest rate rises, further rein in spending.

It's an order: 15% power-cut goal now official

A government order came into effect Friday obliging large-lot electricity users in the service areas of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. to limit their consumption to 15 percent below that of this time last year.

The measure is aimed at coping with the possibility of electricity shortages this summer, due to accidents at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Winding back the clock / Earlier work hours among energy-saving efforts as firms look ahead to summer

Companies in areas that are supplied power by Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. have been striving to meet a 15 percent power cut required by the central government that was introduced Friday.

To meet the goal, some companies are ready to change office hours starting Friday, while others have already moved their production bases to other areas.

EPA Releases Draft Air Permits For Shell's Alaska Drilling Projects

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised a set of clean-air permits that Shell Oil Co. has long sought for drilling projects off the coast of Alaska, saying it has addressed concerns that sparked objections to the permits last year.

EPA said Friday that the revised permits, which are still in draft form, reduce emissions of most key air pollutants by more than 50% from levels allowed in the permits issued last year.

Why Poughkeepsie is a great place to wait for the end of the world

Kunstler -- clearly an incurable contrarian -- likes Poughkeepsie. He lives in the Hudson Valley himself, in a far cuter but similarly sized town, and he predicts that such neither-village-nor-city places will one day be just right. "We'll see people moving to places that are scaled appropriately to our energy diet," he said -- towns small enough to walk across, but big enough to pool their resources for, say, a hydropower plant. And with good farmland on one side and a great big river on the other, Poughkeepsie is ideally placed for local food production and carbon-free transportation. "Towns like Poughkeepsie are at their nadir now," he conceded, "but they have a lot of virtues that are going to become apparent in the years ahead."

FACTBOX - Bidders on US oil reserves

(Reuters) - A who's who of energy trading has stepped in to buy crude from the U.S. Energy Department's emergency stockpiles, the government said. [ID:nN1E76014L]

The United States is releasing 30 million barrels from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, representing half of a coordinated international push to boost global supplies and combat rising prices.

"Apparently successful" US SPR bids 30.64 mln bbls

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "apparently successful" bids for the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve's release of crude oil stocks totaled 30.64 million barrels at an average $107.19 a barrel.

US natgas rig count climbs by 1 to 874-Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States rose by one this week to 874, the second straight weekly gain, data from oil services firm Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

Lower oil prices likely to be short-lived, analysts believe

Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist with Calgary-based Arc Financial Corp, is among those expecting lower oil prices to be shortlived. He passed along his research report, saying the IEA move "is quite counterproductive and serves to increase, not decrease, the threat of upward oil price volatility."

He notes that "the IEA's move introduces a surprise dimension of market uncertainty that will give decision makers at boardroom tables pause on how much capital to plough into exploration and development."

IEA can’t maintain low oil prices: Rubin

The International Energy Agency’s decision to release oil from the strategic reserves of member countries has been criticized as a political, rather than economic, decision. But Jeff Rubin, author and economist, tells BNN that even worse—it will be ineffective in maintaining lower oil prices.

N.C. Gov. Vetoes Offshore Drilling Bill

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed legislation on offshore drilling and environmental rule-making, delighting advocacy groups that had fought both.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, was a primary sponsor of the Energy Jobs Act. It directed the governor to form an offshore-energy compact with South Carolina and Virginia and prescribed how to use oil and gas revenues the state might get.

New York set to lift fracking ban

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In a surprise move, New York State is likely to lift its ban on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial process used to extract natural gas.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection released a draft Thursday for proposed new regulations on the process, known as "fracking" for short, that injects thousands of gallons of water, sand and some chemicals deep into the ground to crack shale rock and release the gas.

Eight U.S. States Rank Among Top 10 O&G Investment Opportunities

Eight U.S. states made the top 10 list of most attractive jurisdictions worldwide for oil and gas investment, according to Calgary-based Fraser Institute's Fifth Annual Global Petroleum Survey.

Mississippi, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Alabama and North Dakota made the top 10 of the All-Inclusive Composite Index; the Netherlands sector of the North Sea and Hungary also are among the top 10, the global policy think-tank reported. Only Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama ranked in the top 10 in the 2010 survey, and were also among the top 10 in 2009.

Poll: More Domestic U.S. Gas, Oil Development Needed

Most voters continue to feel America needs to do more to develop domestic gas and oil resources. They also still give the edge to finding new sources of oil over reducing gas and oil consumption.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that just 19% believe the United States does enough to develop its own gas and oil resources. Seventy-five percent (75%) do not think the country is doing enough in this area. These findings are virtually unchanged from late February.

Gasoline Shortage Looms In Central BC

Prince George- Drivers in Central BC could be facing a shortage in the fuel supply for their vehicles following the shutting down of the Pembina Pipeline that serves the Husky Refinery in Prince George.

Electricity provision on the line amid deep indebtedness crisis

AMMAN - Electricity providers may soon face a fuel shortage if they fail to pay their financial dues to the country’s sole oil supplier, according to stakeholders.

In recent months, electricity companies have relied heavily on heavy industrial fuel from the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) due to a halt in Egyptian natural gas supply after a sabotage attack on the pipeline to Jordan on April 27, which lasted for around 45 days

Iranian Power Plants Suffer Natural Gas Shortage

Iran's Ministry of Power is concerned about gas shortages at Iranian power plants and is calling on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intervene. According to the ministry, 15 power plants are currently without gas and are running on liquid fuel, but liquid fuel reserves are also running low.

Libya's cash-strapped rebels appeal for funds

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya's cash-strapped rebels have received $100 million in financial assistance from Qatar but need more money urgently to avert an energy and humanitarian crisis, a rebel official said on Wednesday.

NATO’s Libyan War Is ‘Like Fast Food,’ Qaddafi’s Son Says

In an appearance on Russia Today, an English-language satellite channel financed by the Russian government, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam said that the international intervention in Libya was motivated purely by a desire to control Libya’s oil and gas resources.

“They have one target,” Mr. Qaddafi said of the countries participating in the NATO-led military campaign. “This country is a piece of cake: rich, full of gas, oil, and we have more than $100 billion deposits abroad… Their goal is not Qaddafi, their goal is to control Libya.”

Analysts blame faulty assumptions for prolonged Libya war

"This revolt never really had the strength to succeed," McGregor said. "There was this feeling among the rebels that all we have to do is show up. But you should take a couple of years to get it organized first. If you're just going to run out on the streets, the results will be predictable."

Four months on, the rebels are not capable of supporting themselves, McGregor said. They are out of fuel, oil production has shut down, and they have few available resources. They will soon face even shortages of food and water, McGregor said.

Libya's Gadhafi calls for volunteers, women answer

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is calling for fresh volunteers in a months-long war with rebels attempting to bring about an end to his 42-year rule -- and women of all ages are answering, CNN has learned.

Bahrain to citizens living abroad: Spy on countrymen, no protests permitted

LONDON — Bahrainis living abroad have been ordered to spy on their countrymen in the wake of a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Documents containing "loyalty pledges" — which also require expats to promise they will not protest against the tiny Gulf state's government — have been sent to students attending university in the U.K.

Syrian military raids villages; protests in Aleppo

(CNN) -- Syrian tanks and helicopters opened fire and killed at least two civilians as the military advanced through a series of villages in northwestern Syria Thursday, a push that sent residents running for the hills, a villager told CNN.

"They attacked the old church," said Mohamed Smail, a farmer who fled his home and spoke to CNN from the hills around Al Bara. "We are calling on international organizations to protect our ruins. They are destroying our cultural heritage."

Schlumberger Learns Russian as Drilling Demand Takes Stock to $105

Schlumberger announced this April that it would work in close collaboration with Eurasia Drilling – the latest in a series of moves to expand its footprint in Russia.

Russia holds the world’s largest reserves of natural gas and the 8th largest reserves of oil, and local production giants such as Gazprom and Lukoil have already announced aggressive plans to boost reserves and production over the coming years. This has made Russia a promising market for Schlumberger and other oilfield services firms such as Halliburton and Baker Hughes that also have significant operations in the region.

AP Exclusive: Former BP chief Hayward fights off accusations from feds, plaintiffs

JACKSON, Miss. — Documents obtained by The Associated Press show former BP chief Tony Hayward fought off accusations that he sought to prop up the company’s falling share price through his subordinates’ daily media briefings on the Gulf oil spill.

The documents also show Hayward defending himself against accusations that the firm failed to keep its promise to share its data on how much crude was spewing into the sea.

Consensus Grows for Looming Peak

So the IEA and the UK government are now out of the closet when it comes to Peak Oil. Anyone else want to step up and admit Peak Oil is real, and will happen sooner rather than later? I promise, the punishment will be less harsh if you confess now.

After 6 years in the fast lane, hybrid drivers lose special privileges on California freeways

LOS ANGELES — For six years, California gave owners of hybrid cars the keys to the fast lane: permission to drive alone among carpoolers.

Now hybrids are about to lose the special privilege that was intended as a reward for saving gas and protecting the environment. The vehicles are no longer novel, and transportation officials want to make way for a new generation of even cleaner cars.

Howard University considers microgrid as a power source

For years, Howard University has relied on Pepco for most of its power needs. But a new project could free the campus from its dependence on the utility and turn it into a power provider for its neighborhood.

DOE Explores a New Frontier In Quest for Cheaper Solar Panels

Installing rooftop solar arrays could become far more affordable for American homeowners if new federal and state initiatives to streamline permitting take hold nationwide.

The cumbersome costs of siting, permitting, installing and connecting small-scale solar make up an increasing percentage of overall system fees — up to 40 percent — while the price of photovoltaic panels continues to drop.

Green cities span coasts, as eco-efforts intensify

North America's greenest cities aren't just on the West Coast, long known for environmentalism. They're also in the South, East and Midwest as innovative eco-efforts proliferate.

‘He’s the hope of all nations’: Rare white buffalo named

The white buffalo is an omen that signifies the arrival of hard times unless people learn to change their ways and live in a manner that benefits everyone, including Mother Earth, according to literature distributed at the entrance gate.

Payday might be your last day, study finds

Few things feel better than stepping out with a fat paycheck in your pocket. But a new study in the Journal of Public Economics proves that it just might be anything but good. In fact, it can be downright deadly.

University of Notre Dame economist William Evans studied four major demographic groups—seniors on Social Security, military personnel, families receiving tax rebate checks and recipients of Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividends—and found that mortality rates significantly increased the week after checks showed up in their mailboxes. The three causes of death with the largest increases were substance abuse, external causes (all kinds of accidents) and heart attacks.

Greek riots could provide a vision of the future

There were no tales of catastrophic tsunamis or drowning of Sydney Harbour's foreshore, rather a story of incremental awareness.

Oil prices will go through the roof, he said. Whether because of peak oil - the point at which it is not economic to extract - or because of a price on carbon, oil is only going to become more expensive. Our economy is run on oil so the knock-on effects are ubiquitous.

Food prices will soar, he said. Unable to feed their families there will be riots. Already, he said, this has been witnessed in the Middle East. Back in 2008, when food prices hit an all-time high, we saw riots, and again this year when food prices have matched those stratospheric records, we have seen uprisings around the globe. Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times has also made this comparison, most recently when reviewing Gilding's book.

And there will be stories in the news of natural disasters. A flood may hit, followed by a nasty cyclone. Maybe there'll be an unusually large hailstorm. Perhaps just a long, dusty drought.

Like a grenade in a glasshouse

It’s going to hit hard and it’s going to hurt – made worse because most aren’t expecting it. They think the world is slowly returning to our modern “normal” – steadily increasing growth, with occasional annoying but manageable interruptions. After all, the global recession wasn’t so bad was it? Sure there was pain and things got shaky but Governments responded, bailed out companies, stimulated economies, got things back on track. While it’s still a bit bumpy, Greek wobbles, US debt, extreme weather, high oil and food prices etc, it’ll work out. It always does….

If only it were so. In fact we are blindly walking towards the next in a series of inevitable system-shaking and confidence-sapping crises, deluded in the belief that the worst is behind us.

SA Report June 2011: Late Afternoons panel on regional economy

Climate change will impact on all aspects of our economy including the viability of some activities and the strength of markets.

The impacts of peak oil production will be experienced as rising fuel prices and scarcity at faster rates over the next decade.

Peak oil, energy prices and economics

A session at the March 2011 Casualty Actuarial Society’s annual ratemaking seminar discussed the wide range of actuarial implications of levelling off of the world’s oil supply, the resulting rising gasoline prices and their economic impact. The presentation included recent examples of these issues impacting society in general and more specifically insurers such as the 2010 Deepwater-Horizon oil drilling platform blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and the nuclear power plant destructions in Japan earlier this year.

Gail Tverberg described the strong correlations between oil price spikes and recessions, population growth and increased fuel usage and between food prices and oil prices. General examples of the impact of recessions on insurers in the US were discussed. These range from a decrease in motor claims, high unemployment’s impact on workers compensation insurance, and homeowner insurers being impacted by falling home values and unoccupied homes. Additionally insurers are impacted by the amount of investment income. On the other hand new coverages such as for solar panels and electric cars emerge.

Feeling Peaky?

Earlier this month, we had Tony Greenham of The New Economics Foundation visit Henderson to talk about “peak oil” and the implications for future economic growth. Over 40 fund managers from across Henderson’s equities and bond teams turned up to hear what Tony had to say, demonstrating that investors from a wide range of perspectives recognise that this is an important issue to consider.

Oil Drops on Signs of China, U.S. Slowdown; IEA and OPEC Supplies Increase

Oil declined, trimming the biggest weekly gain in almost three months, as signs of slowing manufacturing growth in China and the U.S., the world’s biggest energy users, stoked speculation fuel demand may falter.

Futures slipped as much as 1.3 percent, their first decline in four days, after China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to the lowest since February 2009. A U.S. report today may show a slowdown in factory activity. Prices also slid as OPEC boosted supplies and the U.S. offered 30 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves under an International Energy Agency plan to stabilize prices.

Offers pile up to buy reserve crude

WASHINGTON — The government's auction of 30 million barrels of oil from the United States' emergency stockpile attracted more than 90 offers to buy the crude, the Energy Department announced Thursday.

Industry interest in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil was so high that the auction was "substantially oversubscribed," the department said, meaning bidders offered to buy more oil than is available.

Saudis may cut OSPs; not enough to lure Asian buyers for more

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - Top exporter Saudi Arabia is unlikely to cut crude prices deeply enough in August to lure Asian refiners into buying much more oil, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, making it difficult for the kingdom to substantially boost supply.

Stephen Leeb: Oil Reserve Release: The Quickest Way to Remove Incentive

Last week’s decision by the IEA (International Energy Agency) to release 60 million barrels of oil, including 30 billion barrels from U.S. strategic reserves, was a remarkable and defining decision.

To my mind, it represents one of the scariest, most mindless, most desperate and worst decisions I’ve seen in more than 30 years of watching markets and economies – signaling that we are close to throwing in the towel on the very idea of developing an economy that can work in the 21st century. (If pushed to wall I might have to admit the 2009 stimulus package was just about equal.)

Why High Oil Signals the Golden Age of Gas

Forget wind, solar and wave power. And forget nuclear too. We’re not saying nuclear power doesn’t have a future, but compared to natural gas it’s a second-class power source.

Natural gas on the other hand, can almost be used as a straight replacement for oil. But unlike oil, we’re in no danger of reaching “peak gas” anytime soon. In fact, new gas reserves are discovered all the time.

Exposing the Demonizers of Shale Gasa

WASHINGTON-You're Ian Urbina, a senior New York Times reporter. In February and March you write that hydraulic fracturing, a method of natural gas extraction, is contaminating Pennsylvania drinking water. Your accusations are subsequently disproved by government tests.

What do you write next?

You write a three-part series in the Times saying that shale gas production is "inherently unprofitable" and a giant Ponzi scheme, as well as loosely-regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

No matter that many emails you cite quoting industry managers, geologists, government officials, and market analysts are two years old. No matter that two of your supposedly objective sources are environmental activists. No matter that profit-maximizing companies are investing billions of dollars in shale gas.

Hot under the collar in the shale gas boom

Is there an exaggerated quality to the extraordinary projections and tens of billions of dollars pouring into shale gas, the newly available fuel that has shaken up markets and geopolitics? The answer is yes -- estimates for global shale gas reserves and future production are all but certainly over the top; likewise, the world's major energy companies -- ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, Sinopec, Statoil, and so on -- have probably committed excessive sums to this new source of energy.

Cheap Natural Gas Will Kill More Coal Plants Than Us: EPA

Aging coal-fired power plants cannot compete with plants burning the cheap, abundant natural gas now emerging from American shale formations, the EPA's chief air pollution official told senators this morning.

Lewd crude

Hinsdale, IL — Trying to forecast whether or not gasoline prices in the suburbs will rise or fall this summer is about as predictable as whether or not red or black will turn up on a roulette wheel, gas experts are saying.

Area businesses feel the gasoline sting

One of Hinsdale Transportation Company’s limo drivers, Jim, who didn’t want to give his last name, said his pay has dropped about 25 percent in recent years.

“It’s not only gas,” he said. “Everything else has gone up — the cost for repairs, oil changes.”

In order to save money, Jim said he’s always looking for the cheapest gas, trying not to let his car idle and limiting use of air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

S.Korea GS Caltex to hike fuel prices gradually

Asia's fourth-largest economy, heavily dependent on energy, has been battling to contain inflation like other regional peers after global oil prices rallied to multi-year highs.

The government said early on Thursday that it plans to lift electricity prices in August, delayed from an expected announcement in June or July, and the increase will be only slightly above the level of consumer inflation.

South Korea to Freeze Gas Prices in July on Rising Inflationary Pressure

South Korea’s government plans to leave gas prices unchanged in July as inflationary pressure is rising.

Iraq to upgrade creaky oil facilities

Repairs to export infrastructure should enable country to double exports by the end of the year.

Iran says could cut oil supplies to India in Aug

(Reuters) - National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) has said it will cut supplies for Indian clients in August if the two countries have still not found a way to make payments for the oil, three industry sources said on Friday.

Oil pipeline expansion to boost Kazakh exports

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Building work began Friday on expanding an oil pipeline starting in Kazakhstan that will enable a massive boost in exports from a major Chevron Corp.-led field in the Central Asian nation.

Kazakhstan extends ban on fuel exports to 2012 to rein in gas prices and support agriculture

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Oil-rich Kazakhstan has extended its yearlong ban on the export of fuel until 2012 in an attempt to rein in domestic prices and ensure affordable supplies for its farming industry.

A government notice published Tuesday stated that the ban, which has been in place since mid-2010, will help avoid critical gas shortages.

Venezuela Cancels Latin-Caribbean Summit on Chavez Cancer

CARACAS -- As the national and international public is fully aware, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, is presently in the midst of a process of recovery and extremely strict medical treatment.

For that reason beyond control and after prior consultations with Latin America and Caribbean governments, the Venezuelan government has taken the decision to postpone the 3rd Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC), initially scheduled for July 5-6, 2011 on the Island of Margarita.

Southern Sudan Backs Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Sudanese Oil Industry

Southern Sudan’s government wants the U.S. to lift sanctions on Sudanese oil, said Riek Machar, the region’s vice president.

While U.S. economic sanctions imposed against Sudan in 1997 won’t apply to Southern Sudan after its independence on July 9, they will cover any parts of the southern economy, including oil, that benefit the north, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in an April 12 statement.

Reports: China investigating offshore oil spills

SHANGHAI (AP) -- Recent spills in China's largest offshore oil field are being investigated, reports say. The spills were in the Bohai Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay off the northeast coast, said reports in the Southern Weekend and other newspapers. The field is a joint venture between China National Offshore Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips China.

Jury says Exxon must pay $1.5 billion for leak: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A jury in Maryland awarded plaintiffs suing Exxon Mobil more than $1.5 billion for a 2006 leak at a gasoline station, the Baltimore Sun reported on Friday.

The Sun, quoting a source who had viewed the verdict, said the jury had awarded the 160 plaintiffs in the case against the oil company more than $1 billion in punitive damages.

Bigger Prius hybrid joins the line to expand sales

Prius v is bigger, heavier than the Prius hatchback, but it's still compact-car size. It goes on sale this fall, priced at a yet-unspecified "little more than" the hatchback, says Rick LoFaso, U.S. marketing manager of Toyota cars and vans.

Electric Airplane Pilot Breaks Own Speed Record

With much of the attention in the electric airplane community focused on range rather than speed, speed records are few and far between. But with four successful electric airplane designs flying in four different countries, the fledgling industry hints back to the early days of aviation when competition drove improvements in all aspects of performance.

A Release Valve for Cyclists’ Unrelenting Pressure

Robert Brown is an officer in the Seattle Police Department’s bicycle patrol, which lacks the sleek machines and tight jerseys of the Tour de France. But Mr. Brown has something that could be more important to both male and female cyclists: a no-nose saddle.

Like most cyclists, Mr. Brown at first didn’t see any need to switch from the traditional saddle on the mountain bike he’d been riding full time for five years on the force. When researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Safety offered new noseless saddles intended to prevent erectile dysfunction, he quickly told his supervisor, “No problems here!”

But then, after trying the new saddle, he felt the difference. His weight rested on his pelvic bones instead of the crotch area, which formerly pressed against the saddle’s nose. During his sleep, when he wore a monitor, the measure known as “percent of time erect” increased to 28 percent from 18 percent.

Amazon Deforestation Rates Double as Farmers Anticipate Pardons

Deforestation rates in the Amazon, the world’s biggest rain forest, more than doubled in May as Brazilian farmers become more confident they’ll be granted amnesty for illegal logging.

Almost 268 square kilometers (66,200 acres) of protected rain forest were cut down in May, up from 110 square kilometers a year ago, the National Institute for Space Research said in an e-mailed statement.

Polar Bear’s Listing as Threatened Species Upheld by U.S. Federal Judge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act was reasonable, a federal judge ruled, rejecting challenges that it limits resource development in Alaska.

US can curb carbon emissions even as it promotes oil economy

Alaska’s decision to host the largest oil and gas lease sale of any US state this year is good news for the oil and gas industry, which has been pressing for more access. And while the resulting exploration and production certainly will be good for the overall economy – creating jobs and boosting activity – it is a pity that it is not against a backdrop of better news on the environmental front.

By this I mean concerted steps by the US government to reduce the use of oil as part of a larger effort to curtail carbon emissions. This issue has long disappeared from the political radar, despite being a key platform on which President Barack Obama was elected.

Group Sues to End N.Y.’s Role in Regional Cap-and-Trade

Members of Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, filed a lawsuit this week seeking to end New York State’s participation in the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

An Uptick in United States Temperatures

Baseline temperature averages issued by government scientists this week indicate that temperatures across the United States were half a degree warmer on average from 1981 to 2010 than they were from 1971 to 2000.

Every state’s annual maximum and minimum temperatures increased on average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Center said.

Group Condemns Harassment of Climate Scientists

There is a ripple of unease among many scientists who study the warming of the planet these days. Some have faced harassment, legal challenges and even death threats related to their research, the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports.

On Tuesday, the board of directors of the association, which publishes the journal Science, released a strongly worded statement “vigorously opposing” such attacks on researchers, saying that the tactics inhibited the free exchange of scientific ideas.

Extreme weather link 'can no longer be ignored'

Scientists are to end their 20-year reluctance to link climate change with extreme weather – the heavy storms, floods and droughts which often fill news bulletins – as part of a radical departure from a previous equivocal position that many now see as increasingly untenable.

Roscoe Bartlett May 24, 2011, C-SPAN

House Session

U.S. House
General Speeches

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett
R-Maryland, 6th District

Part 1

Part 2

209 views (including me and probably you). Boo, the world's cutest dog....2.8 million views....
Kind of sums it up, doesn't it?

Except it's 266 now.

The presentation is awful, the title is a botch. I'll try to respin the video with something slicker.

UPDATE: here's my first attempt at a respin:

UPDATE 2: here's my newest attempt at a respin:

Peak oil’s voice in Congress:

“On my side of the aisle, they tend to worship the marketplace,” Bartlett told me in a phone interview. “And when it comes to energy, my colleagues will say the dumbest things sometimes.”

China's manufacturing is down according to the Financial Times:

China manufacturing at lowest in 2 years

Chinese manufacturing growth has fallen to its lowest level in more than two years and soft data from India and South Korea have added to the picture of a slowdown in Asia after a battery of government moves to tame inflation.

I talk a little about why I was expecting this result in my post Observations Based on my Trip to China.

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

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

Oops, they don't fit inside their domestic coal production rates anymore. Now they can't force the price down by regulating the price the producers can charge.

How much of the problem is due to the Aussie floods last winter?

Not very much.

It's China's turn to wrestle with a pile of bad debt

The U.S. banking system was the first to get hit by the financial Panic of 2008. For the past year, European bankers have been scrambling to head off exploding debt bombs in Greece and other countries with high debt loads.

Now, it looks like its China’s turn to face up to a giant pile of bad debt. This being China, though, the story isn’t playing out like an ordinary Western financial crisis.

re: 'Like a grenade in a glasshouse' up top.

This is what happens when systems hit their limits. They don’t do so smoothly, but bump up against the wall, hitting hard, then bouncing off equally hard. It is the behavior of a system trying to break through.

Boy, this story really hit home with me. Every time we start discussion about the 'undulating plateau', I picture a bug trying to fly towards my kitchen light, but hitting the class window. Then, bouncing back, only to try again. The 'undulating plateau' is the same thing, only we are the bug, and the economic growth is the kitchen light. When we bounce down of the glass ceiling, we find that on the next upturn, the ceiling has moved down.

only we are the bug, and the economic growth is the kitchen light.

If the bug ever gets to the light it'll find out it's really a zapper...

This one hit me too. (Grenade in the greenhouse)

It goes back to 'I know it is coming', but can we really ever be prepared? (as the question asks us at the end.) Even in relatively benign Canada, I am seeing the limits. A conservative backlash to control debt producing unrest, the town that I work in has insnae property taxes. Fewer folks going out to eat as the prices are escalating. A province wide revolt against a VAT tax as the taxation burden is shifted more to working families. There is a growing cynicism and anger.

What is happening in Greece right now I can totally see happening in the States with the debt crisis and high unemployment rates looming and smelling. All it takes is an anger boiling over into a crowded city on a hot August day because massive layoffs and restructuring just put another_____ thousands out of work. I cannot believe the markets are perking along because the whole economy looks like the analogous melting ice flow and more and more are clamouring to stay on. There are too many disenfranchised and too many guns for this to end well.

The absolute hate expressed towards politicians is unbelieveable. This seems like 'classic class struggles 101'. When the folks wake up (like a drunk rolled and waking up in a park one morning), watch out.


Greek riots could provide a vision of the future present.

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."



The French Revolution in under 4 minutes:
And on to Napoleon:

So, perhaps it is time to make drugs mandatory.
THX 1138 full movie:
(The story is in the visuals, anyway?)

I wrote my last revision of a blog entry on this on June 20 here:

Peak Oil Induced Economic Shrinkage and Cycles of Recession

imports are down again:


exports are going up exponentially


net imports from mexico are falling off a cliff:


down 75% from peak.

Do you think Mexico will be a net importer by 2012 ?

The Mexican import chart is really interesting. You can easily project at least some months hitting zero imports in as little as four months.

Net imports from venezuela are down by almost 50% from peak:


The Mexican government has been steadily raising gasoline prices up to world market prices. The result has been falling national consumption, though the fall hasn't yet been as fast as falling production.

Up to 40% of the national budget is paid out of oil fees and national oil company profits. The government cannot allow that revenue to disappear without facing a crisis of legitimacy.

In 2009 when the end of subsidies started phasing in, the left wing party ran a campaign of lowering prices back to where they were before. It was an irresponsible campaign, proposing that the poor should suffer so that rich elites could keep using cheap gas. The left wing party suffered at the polls (not only for the terrible gas campaign) and the policy continued.

The national and state governments continue building out transit infrastructure, allowing private operators fare increases, and planning for lower consumption.

Mexico could really reform and export more or court collapse and export less. It's a very interesting time.

From up top:

It’s going to hit hard and it’s going to hurt – made worse because most aren’t expecting it.

I've been harping for years about my belief that people are going to be blindsided. It's unfortunate that "doomer" and "prepper" are commonly thrown out to disparage those of us who see a bleak future and doing our best to prepare for it. And, let's not forget "doomer porn". You know, I see what we are doing as buying insurance or setting up a safety net. It seems OK to buy life insurance, really death insurance, but somehow off the wall to establish a self-reliant lifestyle.

It's coming down whether people accept it or not.


It seems OK to buy life insurance, really death insurance, but somehow off the wall to establish a self-reliant lifestyle.

If the global economy collapses, as it already seems to be doing, you can kiss goodbye to all your paper insurance which will be worth about as much as the paper it's printed on. Might help you start a little fire, assuming you still have a magnifying glass in your possession...

Brazilian saying: "Se Correr o Bicho Pega, Se Ficar o Bicho Come"

Rough translation: If you run the beast will catch you, if you don't it will eat you.

As far as I'm concerned I figure I may as well run and use up some energy in running, at least I'll leave less for the beast to feed on.

Edit: Expect a lot more news like this in the near future.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's state government is closed for business.

It shut down at 12:01 a.m. CDT Friday, the victim of an ongoing dispute over taxes and spending between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative majorities. Talks fell apart well before the deadline, leaving state parks closed on the brink of the Fourth of July weekend, putting road projects at a standstill and forcing thousands of state worker layoffs.

Our leaders are fiddling while while our civilization burns. Perhaps we should bring back the time honored practice of hanging, drawing and quartering.

I don't need to run faster than the beast; I just need to run faster than you do.

Ummm...It's not a bear, it's a beast, with an exponential appetite.

This works for me too....bit of variation...


"Minnesota's state government is closed for business"

Yes, and they spent a good bit of time during the regular session discussing things like building a new stadium for the pathetic Vikings; making homosexual marriage, already illegal, a violation of the state constitution; and a number of other absurdities, irrelevancies, and idiocies.

I find this kind of thing the most frustrating--even when it is obvious that we are in a crisis to any nitwit that we are in severe crises on every level, we still have politicians playing idiotic games rather than buckling down to salvage what can or might be salvaged of the tattered and fast-dissolving fabric of our civilization.

I think this is the turbulent chaos of the old paradigm breaking up without a clear new one to replace it. Old ideas that were life or death now sound totally ridiculous to even discuss (to those of us who understand what is happening).

Social systems take time to respond. We have been past peak exports for 5 years. 5 years is not much time from a social change point of view. (think rights for ex-slaves).

The key effort at this time is to come up with a compelling vision that offers to put some order to the chaos. A story, that "fits" what they feel, while also promising something stable if people work toward it. Note "stable" not better. I feel people want predictable more than they want better. Predictable but hard they can cope with. Crazy and random, that is terrifying. Our grandparents had no problem with much harder lives.

I think that once people understand what is happening they will start to move the same direction. Creating such a story might be a job for an english major (just as a wild thought).

In any case, the government shutdown will be a great chance to live the future! This is a great opportunity to practice.

What's opened, what's closed: your guide to the state shutdown
Seems to be a bit short of the apocalypse.

We shall see if the federal government will raise its debt ceiling or not.

It seems that the current crop of Congressional Republicans have once again nixed a legislative deal which was based upon their previously published best thinking: they have done an about-face from their previous idea of a 'golden ratio' of spending cuts vs. revenue increases as the best desired way to lower our deficit.


By the end of the debt-ceiling negotiations, the Obama administration had agreed to a deal that would reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion, with $2 trillion of the total coming from spending cuts and $400 billion coming from tax increases. Taxes, in other words, would be about 17 percent of the final deal. Republicans rejected it. But as little as four months ago, it was the Republican ideal.

Mike Konczal points us to “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy,” the March 2011 report released by the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee. The report, which tried to argue that fiscal austerity would lead to short-term growth, was as methodologically unsound, and quickly forgotten. But for our purposes, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is the report’s golden ratio: “successful fiscal consolidations averaged 85% spending cuts and 15% revenue increases, while unsuccessful fiscal consolidations averaged 47% spending cuts and 53% revenue increases,

The Republicans do not seem to care about governing the country, they seem to be implementing the only priority which several of them (including Mitch McConnel) said after the last Presidential election: the overriding goal is to make the President fail.


Asked what that "job" was, McConnell explained that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

When commenting on the deficit spending agreement talks between President Obama and Rep John Boehner, Senator Mitch McConnell stated, "President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can't have both."

I am all for significant spending cuts combined with moderate tax increases...it seems to me that the Democrats are attempting to craft a reasonable compromise and the Rs are in their usual take their ball and go home mode.

Jeez, Kent Conrad is facilitating the Senate budget committee negotiations...he is a conservative and level-headed person. I will be waaaay interested to see if this talk of DoD cuts amounts to anything other than trimming the amount of money for their pencils and pens...Senator Conrad will be loath to do anything which takes money way from the two Air Force bases which pump money into his state, particularly Minot AFB, especially now that the town of Minot is a lake.

I don't think that the US debt limit ceiling will result in a financial crisis. The 14th Ammendment to the Constitution is pretty clear that debt must be paid. Therefore, bondholders will be paid out of current receipts before any other expenditures by the Federal Government.

So domestic and foreign banks, pension funds, insturance companies, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, etc., will be paid before anyone else.

Merril - That's my understanding also. Explains why the R's don't want to compromise. The county won't default. So to continue all govt services they'll have to borrow more money but they can't borrow more money. So after they pay off the bonds each month they can only fund govt programs with what's left. So the administration w9i think) will have todecide who get's the money that's left. Obviously there will be plenty of angry folks regardless of how those $'s are spread around. Risky game for the R's IMHO. The more visible target will be President Obama. But he's would probably do a good job of laying much of it at the feet of the R's.

But I suspect the R's will compromise. Despite their rhetoric they like Big Govt as much as the D's.

Rockman - Some additional expenditures may also be a priority based on contract law. For example, if the government has a contract that with a company or organization that requires periodic payments, then these may also qualify as debt.

Per the Minnesota example, I'd expect things like National Parks, museums, etc. to be closed.

Long term procurement contracts for large weapons systems are another thing that can be deferred, e.g. stop work orders to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics and the like.

Federal government spending per capita is high in many red states. A lot of blue states are in the group that get fewer dollars back in spending than they send to Washington in taxes.

That may be but none of it matters. If the debt ceiling isn't raised the government has to, overnight, stop spending 43% of what it now spends. Without reducing taxes one tiny bit.

That cuts 12% of GDP immediately, plus whatever trickle-down effects that money has.

There's no way the republicans can let that happen.

Of course, the scariest part is that reduction in spending has to happen somehow in the not too distant future, no matter what. Good luck getting Congress to deal with that.

12% of GDP is only a little over a trillion dollars. Fairly small and localized to the US, compared with blowing up the international financial markets and tipping over the pyramid of $600 trillion in derivatives.

Most of that $600T (or whatever the true figure is), is circle-jerk money. Hedge fund X, has $10T of derivatives backed up by fund B, which has $10T backed up by hedge fund C, which has $10T with A. So, if we just forced all the hedgies to walk the plank, those derivitives simply sink into Davy Jones locker.

If all the financial institutions have been careful, almost all of the $600T should net out leaving only a small amount at risk at each FI. However, note that a small error in judgement can result in a lot of risk. So the problem is that some idiots like AIG have been writing naked CDS on US Treasuries on the assumption that it is easy, riskfree money, since US Treauries will never default.

When TSHTF the idiots have a major loss, become insolvent, triggering more covenants on more derivatives since they are no longer a viable counterparty, causing more idiots to become insolvent, etc., etc.

At which point checks can't be cleared, ACH transactions don't clear, and FedWire grinds to a halt. At which point the real economy also grinds to a halt for lack of a payment system.

You know, we tend to be quite skeptical about claims that speculators are manipulating oil prices to any large extent. But people with nearly a quadrillion dollars in cash to 'invest' could, I would think, play a lot of (at least temporary) havoc with any commodity they wanted to 'invest' in (not to mention their ability to buy off or otherwise 'influence' legislators, regulators, or pretty much anyone else that got in their way).

We try hard to part the veils of mist that surround the future of oil and other commodities here, but the real actors are doubtless very powerful and very adept at cloaking their moves. I doubt the real story of what has been going on behind the scenes will ever be told or fully known.

(And yes, I know, even the wealthiest can not alter certain geological realities. But they can certainly kick up a lot of dust to obscure their own manipulations of whatever they want to try to make more money on.)

The $600 T isn't really investable cash. It is the sum of the face value of the underlying securities against which the derivatives have been written. The actual money that changes hands is a very small percentage. So is the "value at risk" if everyone has done their math right.

the scariest part is that reduction in spending has to happen somehow in the not too distant future

Not really. If we raised taxes to about the tradition percentage of GDP, and kept spending fixed we could be in balance. Its only that the class who now controls our politics and our media conversation doesn't want that -so it won't happen.

Kevin Drum had a graph, a projection by the CBO. It had a scenario, "congress does absolutely nothing, no extensions to tax cuts, no Alternate Minimum tax fixes, no new programs, and the assumption the wars would eventually wind down", and the debt as a percentage of GDP stays about the same. So if we can completely cripple congress-out all the members in a deep freeze or whatever, we would be fine. But, nobody expects that.

For a while we had a dynamic going on. Republicans in power, deficit explodes on tax cuts and military spending. Dems in power, painful tax increases and spending cuts to work towards balance. But, the Dems realized they were being taken for suckers, so they won't play that game anymore...

the government has to, overnight, stop spending 43% of what it now spends. Without reducing taxes one tiny bit.

Why? Because it's "the law"?

Go back to Andrew Jackson, the guy on the $20 bill.

Who commented on the Supreme Court's decision 'the Cherokee, under law, can't be forced off their land'.

How did that end working out again?

Explains why the R's don't want to compromise. The county won't default. So to continue all govt services they'll have to borrow more money but they can't borrow more money. So after they pay off the bonds each month they can only fund govt programs with what's left. So the administration w9i think) will have todecide who get's the money that's left. Obviously there will be plenty of angry folks regardless of how those $'s are spread around. Risky game for the R's IMHO. The more visible target will be President Obama. But he's would probably do a good job of laying much of it at the feet of the R's.

We ran this experiment already. Clinton won and Gingrich lost. I suspect the results would be the same this time.

Actually, it should not cause an external "default" (read foreign and other maturing treasury paper) on treasury note sunless we intentionally choose not to pay on those.

Clearly those obligations that have a specific tax allocated with and to it (e.g., Social Security/OASDI, Medicare, road fuel tax, airline excise taxes to name but a few examples) could continue to function at some level in balance with receipts. For example, social security receipts are currently nearly in balance with payouts but might require some slight decrease to maintain balance between receipts and payments.

We might be able to maintain roads and bridges, but unlikely to support medicare care for medicare recipients. Current receipts for Medicare are only $74 billion per year, payout is somewhere around $500 billion. Medicare might require an 85% cut just to remain in balance even over a short-term. The law is actually structured this way if I read the CBO documents correctly. Unless we actually cut something else buy an equal amount (by legislation), the debt limit will essentially impose an 85% cut to Medicare. That does not reduce the deficit by a single dollar, just keeps it from going up.

Now I don't know what percentage of the medical sector relies upon government payments for services, but removing this much cash from the system surely has to have more than a direct effect. The ripple effect through the economy of the multiplier through the economy is anywhere from 2-5 times. You think your state and/or local program will be able to step-in and fill the void?

Another "mandatory" pregram is unemployment, but even that's been running negative for awhile. So, does the government cut off everyone who has been unemployed more than 4 weeks and tell the newly unemployed employees that 2-3 weeks unemployment is all they get?

Instant downsized government. Most Federal employees and those that are supported with Federal dollars are instantly eliminated (great savings on taxpayers. As for direct payment to the states (e.g., education), that largely goes away,too.

At best, states get no more money from the US government (or only in proportion to the amount that they send to Washington in the form of revenues) for discretionary items. That will be unfortunate for those states that have worked hard to keep wages low and have relied upon the Federal welfare state to supplement their very intentional policy of low wages for their citizens.

The FAA and TSA...discretionary. Bye-bye airlines. Maybe if you have your own plane and are willing to fly VFR in uncontrolled airspace can you get from point A to point B via air travel.

AMTRAK, discretionary. Good luck in the northeast corridor as well as elsewhere trying to get anyone across country.

As for the military/defense apparatus. You have to lose about half of it...instantly. Close some key bases, discharge about half of the armed services personnel (into unemployment...with guns and military training), eliminate almost all contracts and contract support.

Of course, all of this to keep from spending "over the limit" and instant withdrawal a little less than 10% of GDP. When the loss of that spending and the synergistic effects come into play, even some of the "dedicated" revenue streams might dry up or be greatly reduced (e.g., if unemployment increases rather rapidly where you have a slug of 2-6 million additional unemployed in a matter of a weeks to 3-5 months, you quickly lose the level of tax receipts for social security, Medicare, highway trust fund, etc.). This causes further contraction of available tax revenue resources for payment of external obligations as well as to these programs.

Oh, and I forgot the post-office...it survives because it is written into the Constitution.

But you are still operating with a balanced budget by spending cuts alone, you haven't increased taxes, and you haven't increased the Federal debt.

A Republican's wet-dream.

Of course, you might not have an "economy" or any sort of financial system left to be in "crisis."

A lot of Federal money goes to states and municipalities in the form of various grants.

One way to cut expenditures would be for the Feds to halt grant payments to states and municipalities. Since most states have balanced budget requirements in their constitutions, they would have to either cut programs or raise taxes.

A lot of Federal money goes to contractors and corporations that perform services that have been "outsourced" to the beltway bandits and others.

Another easy way to cut would be to halt payments to contractors and corporations.

I think it would be good to cut all Amtrak outside of the NE corridor where it makes money. All the other passenger trains are operated at a loss.

The constitution doesn't say how often the Post Office has to deliver the mail. Once a week might be the essential level of service.

Maybe the US Government can halt the ineffective, very expensive 'war on drugs'.

Legalize at least Mary Jane, get it in the stores by the Winter Solstice holidaze, put a tax stamp on it and enforce some purity standards (ensure it isn't cut with who-knows-what) and collect some revenues.

Good side benefit...stop filling horribly over-crowded prisons with nickel and dime drug possessors, and release a the non-violent drug offenders already locked up, then reduce spending (in some cases to private contractors) on the prison-industrial-complex.

Increase fuel taxes.

Municipalities that give hundreds of millions of local tax dollars from selling bonds for new sports stadiums get //zero// sympathy from me.

Pull the majority of our troops back to the U.S., conduct a reduction-in-force, and cut most of the R&D for new military toys. Freeze feral pay (including military) for at least 5 years.

Plenty of ideas...but none of our politicians have any guts, and that is just the way most of us seem to like it.

"Maybe the US Government can halt the ineffective, very expensive 'war on drugs'."

Well, that is what Carter is calling for. (What a guy--right on energy, AND right on drugs. Too bad no on listens to him.)


On the other hand, I think the movie 'Children of Men' probably had it right when they portrayed a world falling apart that still persisted in outlawing MJ.

(I can't seem to find a clip of where Jasper--Michael Caine--makes this point.)

The following facts were clipped from the article you referenced, and also were broadcast on a recent Rachel Maddow show:

At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!

If we were to actually take the drug war to its logical conclusion and imprison everyone who uses illegal drugs, 119 million of 307 million Americans would have had to been thrown in jail at one point in their lives or another. Honestly, what on Earth are we doing?

Keeping drugs illegal raises their price and contributes to 'drug lord' syndicates and racketeering, and drive larceny/burglary/etc. Legalization would drive prices down and minimize the need to deal with crime networks to get your stuff (you know, the same way folks get their booze and tobacco).

But, the current 'War on drugs' certainly keeps a lot of cops in business and funds their kit (clubs, tasers, breeching rams, etc). It also funds the prison-industrial complex, keeps a lot of poor folks (many non-white) out of sight and out of mind, and lessens the competition for our legal drugs booze and tobacco. And it gives big-government faux-Christian theocratic politicians and their private support network another 'family values' issue to bray about and distract us from Limits-to-Growth issues...

I think that both marijuana and tobacco should be treated the same way -- make it illegal to possess more than 10,000 pounds of the stuff. That would be a high enough amount so that farmers can grow it and dry it, cottage industries can process and package it, and retailers can sell it. But it is small enough that huge corporations would find it impossible to get into the business with advertising, promotion, etc.

In effect, limit both products to production, distribution and sale by small business. They keep saying that small business creates jobs. This would create a lot of them, along with some added tax revenues.

I like this small is beautiful idea. It can and should be applied to many economic activities. Maybe all.

It should certainly work for things like breweries, bakeries, wineries -- many things associated with production and distribution of things like food, clothing, and other basics.

On the other hand, some things just need to be done on a large scale. China tried "backyard" iron ore smelting, and that did not work well. It was inefficient and poluting.

Even some food and clothing process would be best done at large scale, such as flour milling, spinning synthetic yarn, weaving and knitting of fine textiles.


I am in total agreement with you-nothing is so senseless and counterproductive as the war on drugs.

Of course my style of politics doesn't go over well here, as I consider myself(gasp!) a conservative-in the TRUE sense of the word.

One of the bedrock principles of true conservatism is that govt should be kept as small as possible.Otherwise our public servants are apt to morph into our masters-which has already happened in the case of the legal/ judicial/ enforcement/ prison industry complex, as you pointed out.

I have a good friend who is a "housing advocate " for the poor-his salary and benefits amount to twice , easily, what a residential carpenter can earn around Richmond, Va.

He has never joined two boards or bricks in his life, but he HAS collected a million bucks in salary since I've known him, and will probably collect that much again before he finally croaks.There is no doubt in my mind, at least, that had that million not been spent harrassing small landlords and one or two houses at a time builders(the big guys are well insulated from his likes), there would be another ten or twenty "trickled down" houses available to the poor people he supposedly protects.

I was once a landlord myself, but not a good one, too soft hearted and too lenient with tenants in arrears-but I soon learned the hard way how to deal with questionable prospective tenants- having found out that my buddy's job in part was to advise them on how to stay in
MY houses for six months without paying any rent, due to court backlogs and legal niceities, before skipping or going bankrupt on me.

I simply upped my standards and quit cutting folks with credit and employment problems any slack at all.

In the few exceptions I made after that, I wrote comprehensive thirty day leases-meaning that by mailing a letter, they had legally enforceable notice given to vacate within the next business month.I never had any problems with tenants who kept thier rent paid giving notice unexpectedly-they were getting a good deal and had no reason to do so.

I have spent about half my life living in the backwoods, and places such as Oregon Hill in Richmond, and I know scads of "criminals", some of them related to me- most people do, if they are willing to tell the truth.

Nearly all of them are decent, working class people trying mightily to make ends meet -trying to get enough money together for living expenses, basically. Quite a few of them have wound up in jail-where the state generally spends several times as much per year , keeping them locked up and supporting thier dependents on welfare, as they ever made dealing a little pot.

I am not opposed to having a govt big enough and powerful enough to take care of REAL problems-and we certainly have PLENTY of real ones.

It's just that any bueracracy apparently obeysone of the the basic laws of biology-grow or die.

You learned the basic maxim of life: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. While you're feeling good about having done a favor for someone, you can bet they're brazenly taking advantage all the while thinking you a damn fool of a pushover.

OTOH, I do accept the notion that there are nice people, and they deserve a Good Deed, and I'll take my chances - these people tend to be old ladies who are too set in their more pleasant ways to be corrupted by the evil that surrounds us.

Sometimes the punishment comes from the observer of the Good Deed you've performed, however. For example, once I was at a bus stop and an elderly lady was coming towards the group from across the street - she stumbled and fell - so I sprang forth like a good Boy Scout and helped her up - and basically was jeered by the rest of the crowd none of whom (I was surprised to realize) budged. I felt OK about it, though, but the next lady who falls down is going to be needing someone else's help - I'll refrain from jeering.

OFM, Your last sentence is profound on the grander scale: Humanity grows in both numbers and consumption (both due to increased numbers and increased per-capita consumption) until it will die back to a much lower level eventually.

but none of our politicians have any guts

Thats because none of those perfectly sensible ideas poll well. I can recall during the Clinton days, he had a health secretary, who dared to ask the question, "is drug illegaliztion working?". It was ab absolutely career destroying move. She was out within days. Simply for asking, not even proposing. The public (excepting the 10% that are users) has been totally sold on the demonization of drugs, and a punitive approach to the problem.

Similar well entrenched memes, make any one of your other suggestions unthinkable.

The public (excepting the 10% that are users) has been totally sold on the demonization of drugs, and a punitive approach to the problem.

Citation? Proof?

Uhhhm. Even in the bluest state California, a proposition to legalize Maryjuana has easily defeated. The people (or at least that portion that bothers to vote, has been sold on criminalization).


So you have no cite for 10% of the population are drug users.

Even in the bluest state California, a proposition to legalize Maryjuana has easily defeated.

Defeatedd No 5,333,359 53.5%
Yes 4,643,751 46.5%

'bluest' and 'easily defeated' are very subjective. I tried to get the amounts spent on the election (marketing) process by the yes/no factions to point out how
has been sold on criminalization
was right - but I could not find such.

Perhaps you can find it, being this seems to be your topic and you should know it better.

The largest single block of money transferred to the states is Medicaid reimbursements. As I've written before, Medicaid is a slow-motion budget disaster for the states -- crowding out spending on more traditional programs such as higher ed. With the most recent set of restrictions imposed by the feds, Medicaid has become largely an all-or-nothing proposition for the states -- stay in the program and cut everything else, or drop out.

Consider the plight of a "poor" state like Mississippi -- 70% of their Medicaid expenditures are reimbursed by the feds. If those reimbursements stop, and appear likely to remain unpaid for a significant amount of time, the state has little choice but to stop paying the health care providers. At some point they are no longer in compliance with the federal statutory requirements, and must withdraw from the program. If it even looks like that will happen, Mississippi's Republican Congresscritters will get an earful from Mississippi's Republican state legislators; those state legislators that will take the brunt of the voters' ill will in 2012 when thousands of elderly have been kicked out of the nursing homes.

My personal opinion is that Medicaid is the Republican's best place for starting serious entitlement reform. But they need to do it in a way that doesn't cut their state legislators' election hopes off at the knees.

Don't forget anwar and the ocs. i think this might be a way for the repubs representing people like the koach brothers to allow them to buy up such lands from the feds with mere pennies on the dollar. after all they will have to sell something to also raise cash.

So if the social security trust fund needs some of its 2500 billion dollars of debt it will get priority over all other government spending?

I think an argument can be made that if you are receiving revenue for a specific program, like $800 billion per year in specifically allocated tax revenues (you see it on everyone of your pay stubs and even people who are self-employed have to make that calculation for their equivalent contribution), then that CAN BE a basis for priority.

It does not have to be allocated that way. In general, excess revenues have been transferred to other appropriations (as a loan if revenues are insufficient to have a balanced budget or a surplus) on a balance sheet with interest.

It does not have an automatic priority.

But if your SS check is only 1/3 of the amount that was taxable under OASDI prior to qualifiying for payments (and the formula is available to you, but that's the nominal maximum. The lower your income over your lifetime, the higher the percentage of your pre-retirement income you receive) cutting that because of budget priorities is a good way to put seniors on a catfood diet.

But if they survive to the next election and you are an elected official responsible for this mess, you might not survive.

If I were Obama and no deal was on the horizon in a couple of weeks, I think I'd tell Congress and particularly the Republicans this:

"You guys should go home (or leave the country) while you can. The airlines are going to stop flying. But we are going to do it your way for a little while...no debt limit increase, no tax increase, 100% budegt adjustment by spending cuts. You guys have been saying that's your prescription for this. Well, the American people are going to see what that looks like and you are going to have to campaign on it and defend it if you can in the next election. You'll try to blame me and all I have to do is point out that "this" is what no tax increases and achieving a balance budget by ONLY spending cuts looks like. It will no longer be hypothetical. The people will see how their lives look amd decide whether you are right, or if I am.

But two weeks from now, I am going to layoff 2 million federal workers. I am going to discharge 1 million people from the Armed Forces. I will be sending your National Guard units back to you. You and your staff won't be paid and we will not be paying your or their health care insurance. I am going to terminate payments and contracts to Federal contractors. Many state and local programs are going to come to a complete halt in your districts. We'll pay seniors their social security checks for as long as we can, but that will start being reduced in a couple of months as we lose the revenue from about 10 million additional unemployed workers.

I've tried to be flexible, but that's the deal I'm now offering you. I'm offering you your own medicine. In your own words 'take it or leave it.'

You best go back and prepare your people for what is coming."


If Obama did that I might even vote for him come the next election... Then again I might also be on one of those last planes flying out of the country.

BTW Starship, please send your comment to your elected representative. I'd like permission to send it to mine and I would suggest everyone reading this do the same!

I think it would be great if Obama would respond that way. But, I expect that the R's would fold before the deadline. As you note, the R's need to get re-elected just as does Prez Obama.

One other response you left out would be for Obama to declare a National Emergency as part of his reply. Then, to keep the military basic functions going, Obama could simply impose a large tax on transport fuels, perhaps $4 a gallon, the monies received being used to provide funds for basic military activities until the crisis had passed. I think that about half the $1,000 Billion we spend on our military/Industrial complex provides for our imports of oil, so a tax which was tied to transport fuels would pay for that. What was that "old saying", "Never let a crisis go to waste"?

E. Swanson

If only he had the gumption to actually do something like this...

I wonder if any detailed analysis if the possible Course of Action to deal with the lack of raising the debt limit are available on the Internets?

I recall some organization posted an online budget tool where one manipulate budget line items and see the net result. It was simplistic of course, but provided an OK baseline framework of what the big knobs in the budget are.

I wonder how much of a crises there would actually be if the deadline came and went?

IMO, a few things would have to be protected: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Centers for Disease Control. No NRC? Have to keep it funded for as long as it takes to decomission all of our nuke plants and store the spent fuel in Yucca Mountain...20 years minimum. Have the militarry manage and guard Yucca then.

The FAA's Air Traffic Control and maintenance safety inspection functions could be paid for with per-ticket user fees...costs to ride would go up significantly, but perhaps airlines wouldn't disappear. Same with federal funds to maintain/improve airports...all that would be explicitly added to each fare as well.

EPA must be protected...I do not want to have toxic chemicals dumped willy-nilly.

The National Parks must be protected from being over-run and exploited for commercial gain. People should still be allowed to visit...it is our collective preserve..how much does the National Park Service cost each year anyway? A couple of squadrons of useless F-22 Raptors?

Consumer Product Saftey Commission---a keeper...unless yo want your kids and grand kids chewing on lead-paint toys and drinking ersatz protein-enhanced smoothies with melamine filler and such...same with FDA

Federal highway and rail funds...bye bye. Give that to the states, and see where the chips fall.

HUD, Dept Of Education? Give that to the states as well.

Federal War on Drugs? Over...good riddance.


Black Dog...Obama would be wise to stay away from any Emergency powers...the rabid folks who see Kenyan Socialists behind every tree would go nutz...he should broadcst this option to the AMerican people and say the ball is in the R's court...otherwise, the military is coming home and having a big reduction-in-force and/or a big paycut (hollow force).

I am sooooo tired of this pro-wrestling political theater...either come together and make the shared sacrifies in a planned way or run the damn train off the rails and pick up the glass in Chines fire drill mode.

Either way the sun will rise on August 3, 4, 5...

If only he had the gumption to actually do something like this...

The implication here is that he would want to do such a thing but simply lacks the guts. I don't agree - I think he lacks any interest in such things. He is doing exactly what I thought he would do, but perhaps with greater gusto and obvious enthusiasm than I thought he would display. It's time to let go of the illusion.

I think most people are "buying insurance" and "setting up a safety net." The point of disagreement is on what they're insuring against, and the kind of safety net they're building. I'm sure there are many people who think you're the one who will be blindsided. But so what? No one can know the future. In fact, we are all stunningly bad at it. That being the case, some tolerance and humility is in order. Everyone has different ideas about the best way to prepare for the future - from homesteads to hedge funds, and everything in between. Some will undoubtedly prove better than others, but at this point, there's no way to tell.

The voice of reason.

"I'm sure there are many people who think you're the one who will be blindsided. But so what?"

Yep. If Todd gets blindsided, he dies with a lot of unopened jars of tomatoes and a few beds of wheat.
If they get blindsided, they die hungry.

I don't think you can say that.

The opposite of Todd's point of view is probably the gold bugs. The guys whose idea of preparing for a catastrophic future is hoarding gold. (Once, we had a discussion on what you would put in a boxcar-sized box to prepare for the future, if you could have anything you wanted. Some chose useful tools, some food or seeds, some barter goods. And at least one person wanted to fill his up with gold. Nothing else. His theory being he or his descendents could buy anything they needed with the gold.)

From that POV...if Todd gets blindsided, he ends up starving with the rest when he loses his property when he can't pay the bribes/property taxes.

I would definitely not fill my boxcar with gold. OTOH, I expect the "golden rule" will apply in the future, probably more than ever. He who has the gold, makes the rules.

"He who has the gold, makes the rules."

Judging by history, its (also) the other way around.

The gov makes the rules, so they can confiscate all of anyone's gold at any time, and they probably will.

There are a growing number of countries whose economies have been quite decimated over the last few years, from Iceland to Argentina. I don't recall hearing stories about people reverting to gold as a primary means of trade in any of those places. But maybe I missed something?

It's mixed. In Argentina, gold held its value...sort of. That guy who writes about the Argentina collapse recommended gold, but suggested a bunch of cheap gold wedding rings rather than coins or bullion. The gold shops would only give you the same amount for a piece of gold, whether it was a cheap ring or a huge coin or bar. It was also safer to appear to be selling your wedding ring than to have a stash. The guy who wrote about Yugoslavia said gold didn't hold its value, and people preferred things like cast iron cookware and toiletries as trade goods.

But both were relatively short-term situations, and local rather than global collapses. Might be very different in a global crisis. Goldbugs are aware that gold can be confiscated; most seem to be planning to wait it out. If that means their children or grandchildren are the ones who benefit, so be it.

In Britain we keep turning up gold & silver hoards (some weapon hoards as well); quite a number from the end of the Roman period. Some later ones, Saxon etc seem to have been buried in haste because of local wars among the tribes.
e,g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hoards_in_Britain#Romano-British_ho...

Thats because the people who horded them either forgot where they put the stuff, or they were killed before they could get to them. same thing happened in the great depression.

190 proof ethanol, shrink wrapped bullets and cigarettes. Lead with gun powder worth more than gold. Guess one could make the bullets gold to cover both bases.

The above list sounds appropriate for the Road Warrior future, but Leanan's point is that many other future scenarios are possible.

My own view is that the most valuable preparations for an unpredictable future are in personal health (possessions don't do you much good if you are dead or even very sick, and the most common diseases in the US are largely preventable with good diet, exercise, and lifestyle) and in local community. A network of friends and family can provide lots of tangibles and intangibles required to improve and prolong life.

As Leanan says, tolerance and humility in the face of the unknown future makes sense to me.

Many investments that make sense in a projected Peak Oil/Climate Change future already make today. Insulation in your attic pays for itself with today's energy prices, but it might keep your pipes from freezing in a week-long blackout too, or leave more cash around for tools. Riding a bike today saves gas dollars, improves health and fitness, teaches bike maintenance and handling skills, provides an opportunity to see and understand your local environment in a more fine-grained way than thru a windshield.

But making a killing in the commodities market and buying a private island might be the best strategy in some scenarios for some people.

"My own view is that the most valuable preparations for an unpredictable future are in personal health (possessions don't do you much good if you are dead or even very sick, and the most common diseases in the US are largely preventable with good diet, exercise, and lifestyle) and in local community. A network of friends and family can provide lots of tangibles and intangibles required to improve and prolong life."

Good point, but as you suggest in your second paragraph, a good set of useful skills and knowledge are good things to 'acquire' and will not easily be taken from you.

I offer, the ability to think. The basis of most adaptation.


The Human ability, and absolute willingness to LIE, (think Charlie Brown, Lucy and the Football),has been the most fundamental in our evolution of adaptation. When that ability rose to the surface, the rest of the Species on the Planet were doomed.

Think about what it means, truly in the most fundamental way, to be able to suspend reality in your Natural World. From the Hunter/Gatherers, to the latest Advertisement on the BOOB TUBE, to your criminal FEDGOV.... In every social interaction, every day.

The Blue Pill,,,,or the Red one?

The Martian.

It should also be noted that when people have to change normal living patterns, such as chopping wood and operating machinery, they often injure themselves. Think chainsaws, axes, machetes, scythes. This can cause horrendous wounds. Like wise bullet wounds.
Dave's suggestions on low cost wound care. Prevention; phone books can become body armor on chest and back. Fatigue limits and education prevent falls and amputations.
The following is aboard my boat;

tampex for blood absorption and compress dressings,

H2O2 for cleaning wounds,

3M SteriStrips for wound closures,

swaged sutures in various guages in synthetic and silk [ for sewing up internal wounds] which can be found in any emergency room,

hemostats [ those clamp thingies which can extract bullets and clamp arteries and are often found surprisingly new at swap meets],

bone saw which can be any saw blade 25 teeth per inch,

lots of scrubby pads and sponges to clean out gravel and glass shards,

oil of clove for tooth pain

boxes of sterile gloves

lots of paper tape, square bandage pads, polysporin ointment, catheter,and paper towels.

Items I have found that disappear fast in insurrections, uprisings, revolutions and problems;

razor blades, scissors, condoms, soap [ especially fine soap ] paper towels, whiskey, canned food, diapers, boots,strong clothing, and surprisingly, perfumes and lipstick.

A local currency is often 22 shells and I have received them as change in two locales.

Don't worry about how to apply these things. Somebody will. Only warning is to prevent excessive overuse of precious tampex by hysterical people. It's a temporary bandaid to slow blood loss until shock slows bloodflow.

Best to avoid these problems, but they always occur.

Super glue can be used to close wounds. I used it to close a crack in my heel. Three for a dollar at your dollar store! Grok

Super glue was developed to bond skin for the Vietnam conflict as I remember

Pre-dates the Vietnam war but that did start its medical usage.


While doomers may be able to see one possible future more clearly than others, that telescopic vision also foreshortens things, making distant events seem much closer than they really are. There is a lot of productive work and useful investing to be done for the near and medium term. Having an idea of ultimate resource limits is helpful in choosing what to do and how to invest. But it is also useful to stay calm and develop an understanding of how society will react as the reality of resource limits slowly dawns.

For those people that have been Peak Oil aware but are not doomers, buying gold or silver bullion before 2005 has turned out to be a very sound investment. Today that investment can be converted into solar panels or house payments or any of a variety of useful preparations for what I see as primarily financial hard times in US in the next decade or two. (As the world's most wasteful nation, there is a lot of fat to cut before we arrive at the catastrophic 'End Times' so often described.)

As Leanan said elsewhere today: "The future is unknowable." The best we can do is play the odds. For those who paid attention and looked at various historical trends, investing in bullion between 1995 and 2005 was an obvious move. Having access to cash when others do not will allow them to take advantage of any firesale prices during the next financial crisis which may not be that far off.


Leanan you said:

From that POV...if Todd gets blindsided, he ends up starving with the rest when he loses his property when he can't pay the bribes/property taxes.

Why do you think I use words like self-reliant (which to me includes resiliency)? Do you really believe I am wedded to Plan B to the exclusion of not moving to Plan Q if necessary? No, I'm not going to starve; might have a different lifestyle though. I thought you knew me better after all these years.

You and others would benefit by reading Possum Living - How to Live Well Without a Job and With (almost) No Money by Dolly Freed.


End of comments for the day - too much to do. It's not even lunch time and I've fertigated the veggies, pumped the water to the storage tanks, made bread, done the dishes, done two loads of laundry and shot a rabbit in the garden. A typical morning in the country.

I've read it. Definitely worth a look, though parts of it are very outdated now.

Also read the follow-up article that appeared last year. She doesn't live that way any more. (She seems to have found a compromise between her father's way of life and the conventional suburban one.) Sounds like her father was a piece of work. Writing the book let her escape from him and possum living.

If it comes to that point, there won't be taxes and people who need bribing.
Roving gangs and/or feudal lords? There's strength in numbers, and even this hippie has a gun.

OTH, there will be a 3 masted schooner on the coast, where I can trade PMs for coffee beans. Balance is good.


Might not be anything that radical. Heck, a lot of people today find themselves priced out of their paid-for homes, simply because property values or tax rates rose so much and they're on fixed incomes.

Dolly Freed's father lost his home for non-payment of taxes. His solution was to get arrested and get three hots and a cot in jail. That was a pretty popular tactic in the days before homeless shelters, or so the retired cops who hang out at the local diner tell me.

there will be a 3 masted schooner on the coast, where I can trade PMs for coffee beans

Oh man I'm tired. I stared at that, and stared, and all I can think is...

Trade Prime Ministers for coffee beans?

Maybe not such a bad deal, at that.

precious metals

If they get blindsided, they die hungry.

Depends on the "they" here.

Various Presidential Executive Orders allow some of the "they" to take what is needed from the citizens to maintain continuity of government.

Thus not only can the canned tomatoes be taken, but so can the solar panels. Perhaps even the copper wire you may have in the wall as the "no hording" rules of WWII are still in place and you are limited to 200 lbs of copper.

I'm guessing the modern Mcmansion has more then 200 LBS of copper wire and copper plumbing. A big home from the late 1960's with the copper waste stack may also exceed 200 lbs.

The local authorities in small towns and rural areas would face a dilemma trying to enforce seizure policies. Folks know where they live..

I don't think so.

What part?

The WWII law still being on the books?

The Executive Orders to confiscate?

OR a willingness of those in power, under color of law, to grab what they can to keep themselves in a style of life they have become accustom to?

The people are too well-armed and too primed by government conspiracy theories and too amped up on media-glorified violence to lay down for that.

Your conjecture ignores the very likely occurrence of much of the military/police forces breaking from the herd and joining the citizenry...people are not robots, and they will become their own armed Constitutional lawyers/Supreme Court Justices and render their personal verdicts against tyranny.

That will last a day or two. After which groups will start to compete to form governments.

Governments are monopolies on the use of force and violence. Places where the monopoly doesn't exist resemble Somalia. Establishing a monopoly requires out-competing the other groups. It is usually a messy process.

Among all those survivalist preparations and supplies people are writing about -- may I suggest a Toyota pickup with a .50 cal in the back.

The people are too well-armed and too primed by government conspiracy theories and too amped up on media-glorified violence to lay down for that.

How did that work out for Ruby Ridge? Waco? How about the people of New Orleans and their guns/stuff from their homes?

What's the difference:

1) "they" show up with guns to take your, say, PV panel. You resist. You get shot dead.
2) "they" show up with guns to take your, say, PV panel. You allow it. (and not shot for your troubles)

In both cases - no PV panel.

With a range of miles for rifles - how do you prevent sniping of you or your panels (panels shot at for reasons like the no longer posting person who advocated shooting wind turbines or a "petty" property crime VS a more serious murder charge)

I think Greer's 'voluntary poverty' meme is fairly sound; reducing expectations and requirements for one's lifestyle, and learning "how not to play the game". Being more locally self-reliant and limiting ones exposure to disfunctional and declining systems is about all one can do. If one doesn't have it, doesn't need it, and can be happy without it, it can't be taken away. Keeping it simple at home frees one up to deal with curveballs and external complexities.

I'm a big fan of Greer. Looking for Roong Thisdara is one of my favorites. He suggests that improvisation is likely to be more valuable than planning, because the future just never turns out like we imagine.

People are terrible at predicting the future. And the more sure they are that they're right, the worse their predictions are.

I personally know of one oil market analyst turned environmentalist turned peak oiler turned small holder turned poverty loving nun.

In a world of such uncertain future, it has a lot to say for it as a lifestyle change. By becoming intentionally poor you gain the love and devotion of your faithful lay followers, who will protect you and feed you if needed, because they shine in the reflected glory of your devotions to God.

Nice work if you can get it.

I think Stuart kind of went the opposite. He tried the simple, rural life...and was bored to tears. He went back to his sci/tech life because he wasn't happy without that intellectual stimulation.

In the long run, I think people are very adaptable. Life-changing events like becoming a paraplegic, winning the lottery, getting married, and landing your dream job turn out to have relatively brief effects on happiness, and I would guess that would be even more so for a societal change. Can't spend too much time wondering "Why me?" if it's happening to everyone.

I happen to know a lot of people who are looking for a way to be voluntarily poor, as Greer defines it, and happy. In this process, I have tried to sell some local people on the idea of a shadow sort of monastery in which we develop the methods needed to survive and thrive in the face of an oil/economy collapse. These people are very eager to do it, but lack the kind of skills and info characteristic of TOD people like Ghung, etc. So I wrote out a long list of things that ain't all that hard to do, like biogass generators, wood fueled IC engines, solar water heaters, super insulated homes and so on. The gardens were well taken care of already. i think this idea is gaining momentum, but still handicapped by that poverty of tech/science skill. Too many liberal arts types. But we do have a good sprinkling of redneck tire kickers who seem to catch on fairly fast.

But what we all have agreed on is the need to find a way to get together and cooperate to help the whole effort instead of all separately sitting in our very own little damp pools of despair.

Our next meeting is on--trumpet blast-- cheap solar water heaters-- be poor, happy, and clean!

Don't underestimate the liberal arts types, W.

We went that route to see the world from a less regimented perspective, which for all the Wind-dance Majors I know generally included learning some practical survival skills, cause Freelance Wind-dancers don't earn that much, but they are fun at BBQs!

Besides, while I was whittling down my scrap-particle board pile into Solar Box parts this afternoon, my Musical Theater experiences left me with some fine tunes to whistle. I've discovered that perky showtunes can actually repel Brigands AND Salesmen!


'Her case may, any day,
Be yours, my dear, or mine.
Let her make her hay
While the sun doth shine.
Let us compromise
(Our hearts are not of leather):
Let us shut our eyes,
And talk about the weather.

'Yes, yes, let’s talk about the weather.


'How beautifully blue the sky,
The glass is rising very high,
Continue fine I hope it may,
And yet it rained but yesterday.
Tomorrow it may pour again
(I hear the country wants some rain),
Yet people say, I know not why,
That we shall have a warm July.
Tomorrow it may pour again
(I hear the country wants some rain),
Yet people say, I know not why,
That we shall have a warm July.
Tomorrow it may pour again....


- Gilbert and Sullivan The Pirates of Penzance

See? No Brigands!

I remember having a conversation with Greer long before he was well known, and thinking " this guy is very smart, has a wonderful command of words, but is a little light on elementary physics".

Well, of course, very smart people can learn. And so now Greer is singing a tuneful song on just the kind of stuff I was thinking about.

I also remember another relevant scene- MIT grad students being cautious about dating Radcliffies; they were so often all too quick with the knife sharp cut-down -- a tough fix for giant male egos at a party.

In fact in NY, as a nerdy Undergrad Film Student, I found I had the most fun with the FIT crowd, the Fashion Institute for Technology. One or two of them are still my favorite people. I didn't find much fun in the cool crowds in the Manhattan Clubs, I liked the ones who would tell stories and laugh a lot at regular pubs..

(And I've continued to be impressed at how powerful and essential the Sewing Machine is, too. Fabric.. whooda thunk?)

How Beautifully Blue the Sky

"Besides, while I was whittling down my scrap-particle board pile into Solar Box parts this afternoon, my Musical Theater experiences left me with some fine tunes to whistle. I've discovered that perky showtunes can actually repel Brigands AND Salesmen!"

Funniest thing I've read on the Drumbeat in some time, and oddly uplifting. :-)

And Gilbert nailed it, many, many times. He even seems to have prophesied today's doomers and would-be social engineers (emphasis added):

He’s got ’em on the list—he’s got ’em on the list;
  And they’ll none of ’em be missed—they’ll none of ’em be missed.

There’s the banjo serenader... [who wouldn't be missed]...
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
  They never would be missed—they never would be missed!

Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own...

He tried the simple, rural life...and was bored to tears.

Yup. This aligns well with Glaeser's thoughts on megacities (though I'm not convinced a megacity is always indispensable for sufficient stimulation.) And it aligns with dirt-poor people finding some way to get hold of a TV and/or DVD player almost no matter how impossible it might seem that they could do so. One should never underestimate the power of sheer boredom.

One should also never underestimate "the idiocy of rural life", or of village life, where "idiotismus" in the original German connotes not just the utter intellectual vacuum, but also alienation, isolation, a deficiency of spiritual functioning. Oftentimes there's nothing much to do but (1) toil mindlessly; (2) repeat endlessly and almost word-for-word the same old tired "conversations" about Joe's bunions, Susies's bent pinky, Jim's peculiar gait, or the weather that's never quite right for growing whatever the villagers grow; or, in modern times, (3) shoot highway signs full of holes.

"Cause you'd never find people with limited horizons in a city would you? But it's OK, you stay in your city with your stereotypes - that just makes more room for me here.

I think it's a little more complicated than that. Young people in particular are likely to want to go looking for excitement. It's probably hard-wired into us; otherwise, we'd never leave home. Adolescents of many species get restless and want to hit the road.

On the flip side, there's "biophilia" - the craving for nature that can be hard to satisfy in the city. (Think of those New Yorkers who place a piece of astroturf in a parking space and feed the meter all day.)

Yup, there's that too - contrary to the apparent thoughts of many of our would-be social engineers, one size doesn't and won't fit all. And then, LOL, there's what happens when those seeming biophiliacs somehow find themselves where there's anything vaguely resembling real nature, rather than just a patch of astroturf or Paris Plage.

First off, they may be a bit puzzled about why the subway doesn't go there. Certainly they realize intellectually that as a practical matter it could hardly be expected to take them anywhere but from one crowded place to another, but still they may never quite fully "get" that there's a world beyond the end of the subway, as per the famous New Yorker cartoon. And even better, when they sign a visitor's log, they're apt to make entries along the lines of "Can't you guys do something about all the d-mn biting flies?"

Beyond all that there's yet another matter, selectivity. Many of the engineering approaches (including agriculture-by-hand, and over-optimistic notions about cycling) seem suited mainly to highly physically-fit youngsters, i.e. the population of 1811 (when many of the oldsters and even the not-so-fit youngsters simply died off) rather than the population of 2011.

One size doesn't fit all...but people will adjust if they have to. And be just as happy as they are now, at least in the long run.

voluntary poverty...becoming intentionally poor

Involuntary poverty works well too.

Today we officially had beef priced out of our reach. Hamburger, on sale, the super-duper 4th of July kind of sale, $3 a pound! Far, far more than we can afford. So, no more beef.

From now on we're limited to factory chicken, factory pork, and factory eggs.

It's depressing. But I saw it coming, for some time now. By the time Mainstream America starts screaming about the price of beef, we will have fully adjusted, and I'll be rolling my eyes and snorting in disdain at the stories of outraged demonstrators in front of supermarkets. I wonder what the magic number will be? Will $5 a pound for cheap hamburger do it? Or will it have to go to $10?

It's no fun, but our "limited means" does put us ahead of the curve for adjustment.

Time to invest in a deer rifle.

Doomerism isn't exactly a productive counterculture. Fatalism will only get so many members. Individual survival techniques are basically only short-term thinking and a product of our culture. I mean, stockpiled food, gardens and gold. Peoples prime threat is getting kicked out of the economic system - a garden and stockpiled food is of little help if that happens. Their seems to be a dichotomy, of people that think the economic model will continue along it's path with a few minor tweaks (cornucopians) ad infinitum and those that think it will spontaneously combust any day now(doomers) and devolve in to something akin to mad max. Denialism verse secular eschotology. There seems to be a shortage of imagination more than anything else.

It's coming down whether people accept it or not.

Sure, that could be a good thing. Actually, the quicker the better, since it's inevitable.

Jeez, arraya, I had to scroll up for 5 minutes to figure out who/what you were responding to.

"Individual survival techniques are basically only short-term thinking and a product of our culture."

Seems to me, in general, individual and small group survival techniques have been the norm for most of our history. Things started getting crazy when we humans developed mass scale cultures and economies via agriculture and industry. BTW, most of us survival types don't operate as individual 'you and me against the worlders'. We're just a bit more selective about who we do business with and do our best to minimize our participation in, and exposure to, the mass insanity that is the prevailing "product of our culture". In my case, it's not so much about survival. It's more about refusing to play the game anymore.

"I did it myyyyyyy wayyyyy" ;-)

Things started getting crazy when we humans developed mass scale cultures and economies via agriculture and industry.

True, it's when we invented poverty. Personally, I think the introduction of "profit"(originally a crop surplus) was the primary social distorter , not necessarily due to the size of our social systems- which led to imperial conquest and was further enshrined and "sciencized" by the enlightenment social theorists in the form of economics.

It's more about refusing to play the game anymore.

Which is constructive because most see how destructive "the game" is. I agree, I have not payed interest since the late 90s and consume very little. Still my behavior replicated across the country would actually increase social ills under the current economic construct. Individual survival seems to run contrary to social survival in many cases. This is systemic issue that needs to be rectified eventually because it will blow up in our collective faces.

BTW, most of us survival types don't operate as individual 'you and me against the worlders'.

I know, though, it's more of the disconnected mind-set that I object to. I certainly understand the sentiment. But, IMO, building up walls and separation probably won't "save" you long term. Eventually the dysfunction will catch up to you and will have to be dealt with. Maybe if you are 60 or over it might be a viable plan. I'm in my 30s, I don't see anything less than a wide scale cultural, institutional and systemic change as a solution - which are all interrelated systems. In fact, I think it is inevitable at some point. Which is why I don't see the general "doomer" group think as constructive. It's not about the facts(peak oil, AGW, ecological destruction, economic collapse) - understanding these mechanisms are important. Doomerism seems to be more of an antithesis to the thesis of culture. What is needed is a synthesis.

Civilization decline and decay is not something new in history as many here know. Actually, the cyclical nature of social systems has been studied for centuries and has been an interest of mine even before I found peak oil.

The world has also gone through the agricultural revolution and industrial revolution. These are revolutions that dictated entirely different social structure, modes of operation and consciousness.

The modern world-system originated around 1500. In parts of western Europe, a long-term crisis of feudalism gave way to technological innovation and the rise of market institutions. Globalization was the apex of this world system as it took over the globe.

All systems are historical – that’s true for physical and chemical systems, biological systems, and social systems. They all have lives: they come into existence at a certain point, they survive according to certain rules, and then they move far from equilibrium and can’t survive anymore. Our system has moved far from equilibrium to crisis.

Now the world is in a structural/systemic crises on the verge of a great transition again akin to that of the neolithic/industrial revolution and eventually a new system will arise. A new world order. This time around, things will happen much much faster than past revolutions in world systems. It took the neolithic revolution several thousand years to take over the globe, the industrial revolution took just a few hundred and this next one will take just a few decades, if not sooner. Speed of information transfer is the key to rates of change in the social sphere, energy in the economic. History actually seems to moves faster in a kind of telescoping nature for epochal change. Most of us will get to witness the destruction of this old world system and the birth of a new in our lifetime. I find that fascinating and exciting.

It took the neolithic revolution several thousand years to take over the globe, the industrial revolution took just a few hundred and this next one will take just a few decades, if not sooner.

So then you believe that exponential growth in the speed of cultural evolution will continue? Why? Simply extrapolating the recent trends? You seem to have a desperate need to believe that we are exceptional, that this time it will be different.

I hate to burst your bubble, but you won't live to see the birth of anything. You will live your life in a time of transition, the beginning of the beginning of the end of the present world, a process that will take many generations to unfold. If you're lucky, some of what you do will have a positive impact on those, many generations from now, who will be part of the process of building a new society, but you'll never know about that. In short, you're not that important, neither am I, and this show is not being put on for our entertainment.

Since you are under 40, you probably missed the cultural impacts of the ARAB/OPEC Oil Embargo in '73 and the Iranian Crisis in '79. That was a time of great concern regarding a collapse of civilization and the origin of the images seen on the big screen called Mad Max world. This time, Peak Oil is not a distant prospect and Peak Exports appears behind us, so the doomer perspective is here again. A new social construct will arrive, but the excitement won't be that of a movie, but the result of the real fears for survival, not some abstract scene to observe from a distance. If the economy can no longer expand and begins to contract, the people who no longer fit in to the economy will not just lie down and die, but will seek other means of survival, including trying to simply take what they want or need.

What we are seeing in the European news about the PIGGS may be the first of the changes. What we are seeing in the present political conflict within the US may also be the initial sighs of the changes. Yesterday, many jobs in government simply disappeared and those newly unemployed will be thrown into competition with the millions already without jobs. If this all continues, at some point, the protests will become very nasty and the battle lines sill be be drawn. The results can only be painful...

E. Swanson

Most of us will get to witness the destruction of this old world system and the birth of a new in our lifetime.

I think it's very likely most of us...even all of us...won't live long enough to see it.

Or perhaps, we've been seeing it for 50 years or more, but didn't recognize what we were seeing.

Every time this topic comes up, it seems that commenters believe that there will be one universal type of crash, and debate which will be the one best solution.

To me it appears that there will be a huge variety of downward steps, large and small, each of which will be handled in a multitude of ways. I am sure that if a study was done on the lowest socioeconomic groups in any large multicultural city, the range of white/grey/black market activities that presently exist, would demonstrate that there are huge number of coping strategies already in use amongst the disadvantaged.

Extend this variety of options to all the other present forms of society, and it will be obvious that the post-crash(es) future will be even more diverse than the present. Probably the only thing that we can be sure of is that the present Globalized Corporate Control mechanism will be fractured, and a vast variety of localized "government" forms will develop worldwide. No one method will suit all circumstances, even within close geographical zones.

Arguments over which is the best coping strategy are futile, as thousands of methods will be tried, many of which will succeed in one place and fail in another. History, geography, culture, resources, attitudes, etc will all play a part in shaping the choices that people make to attempt to move ahead after the collapse.

Variation is the spice of life.

To me it appears that there will be a huge variety of downward steps, large and small, each of which will be handled in a multitude of ways.

Needed repeating.

(Think about the tomes and grad papers on the economic levels of the country before and after the 1st oil embargo. Or the inflation and now popped bubbles be they real estate, tech or whatever. The rise of the budget deficit. All of these argue that, from a given point and a given frame of reference - a downhill motion)

Every time this topic comes up, it seems that commenters believe that there will be one universal type of crash, and debate which will be the one best solution.

Some commenters believe that. Admittedly, these are often the loudest and most insistent. But many of us don't believe it, or aren't sure.

Probably the only thing that we can be sure of is that the present Globalized Corporate Control mechanism will be fractured, and a vast variety of localized "government" forms will develop worldwide.

I don't think there's even agreement on that. Some argue that we have not reached "peak social control" yet. We might get a Brave New World type situation for as long as anyone here has to worry about it.

During the big industrial ag debate, Stuart said he thought knowing anything about farming could be a very bad thing, and I would guess he was thinking about a Brave New World situation.

Empty airport in Spain tells you a story why there is a financial crisis

Don Quijote and the (n)ever growing air traffic

Thanks for the article on bicycle seats. Not sure if that is on topic but it does address a different kind of peak that especially the older males here might be concerned about. As for myself, I ride a recumbent trike so it is not an issue.

From up top: " Aging coal-fired power plants cannot compete with plants burning the cheap, abundant natural gas now emerging from American shale formations, the EPA's chief air pollution official told senators this morning."

For the few that may not have heard the tale: Construction has just begun on a new coal-fired power plant on the Texas coast. They are literally building it on top of a NG field I'm developing. In fact, just yesterday we put the first well on production. And selling that NG at a bargain price. And the source of that coal that will be burned for the next 30+ years: low grade stuff from Illinois. There will certainly be a number of old coal-fired plants replaced with NG fueled ops. But if the current "green" administration didn't have a problem issuing a Clean Air permit to this new plants we should probably expect to see a few more come into service. And maybe more than a few if NG prices double or more over the next few years.

Rockman, Your plant may be the first to have broken ground in last 2 years. There are quite a few under construction but no recent starts. Can't remember the source.

Um, found it:http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/2nd-year-row-no-new-coal-plants-us.php

daniel - Thanks. Not surprised to hear that. But I also suspect we are just about to start the "new coal age". But only for the US and some other "enlightened" societies. China OTOH is going full bore last I heard. Been a while since I've seen an update but China had been starting up one new coal-fired plant every 3 weeks. And that was before oil had it price run up.

IMHO burning coal is a terrible reaction to PO on several levels. But also IMHO it will be THE short term (30+ years or so) reaction to PO by the majority of economies.

Rockman, I agree all those that have coal will use coal until it is gone. Only a few countries have significant amounts of coal US, Russia, China, India, Australia, South Africa. The ROW is screwed.

But I also suspect we are just about to start the "new coal age".

I agree, but maybe it has already started - according this Dec 2010 report, by the national Energy Technology Laboratory, 2010 saw 6.5 GW of coal fired capacity com one line - the greatest build out of coal since 1985.

There is another 7GW under construction, and another 8GW that has been permitted - plus another 15GW that has been "announced"

So, there is still lots of interest in coal.

The report also compares to what is happening in China, where, since 2000, they have commissioned 450GW of coal, have 100GW currently under construction and another 200GW planned for the next five years!

Really, any efforts anyone else makes on CO2 reductions are just blowing in the wind...

With regards to increasing natural gas prices, I'm curious if you have any thoughts on whether you'd expect NG prices to drop if another economic shock hits the system. Most people seem to think that all commodity prices will drop temporarily, but NG prices never recovered to anywhere close to where they were in 2007/2008, when they seemed to hover between $35 and $40. Do NG prices have anywhere left to fall?

I notice that US Natural Gas for Jan 2012 is currently trading at $4.81 against a current price of $4.32. The market expects prices to rise.

tow - A potential rise in NG prices but nothing like the presumed conservative estimate of $7 -8/mcf just a few years ago. A 10% bump in price isn't going to get us drilling more wells. The geologic risks offer more uncertainty than price expectations. As far as I would guess economic activity will be controlling NG for a number of years to come. If some how our economy starts expanding big time and commercial NG consumption shoots up then maybe. But in the mean time I'll keep using $4/mcf in my economics and do the best we can.

Just for a laugh, here's the UK price.

UK current price = 56p/therm = £5.60/MMBTU = $9.00/MMBTU or $9.25/Mcf

Futures for December are trading at 72p/therm ($11.89/thousand cubic feet)

tow - And thus explains why a load of LNG was shipped from Texas to England a couple of months ago. Just thought about that last weekend as I drove down to one of my wells on the coast and passed the huge LNG facility where the shipment originated.

And the UK is currently re-exporting, via pipeline, a volume equal to approximately half of the LNG arriving at UK import terminals as the price is even higher in mainland Europe.

tow - In interesting. I've heard England was tied into long term NG supply contracts. Suppose it just part of the "opps...I thought we had more reserves" phenominon we'll see become increasingly common. Sort of like the woman who says she can't be overdrawn at the bank....she has plenty of blank checks left.

During the last week the Fed added another 16 billion USD to its balance sheet, giving a total of 526 billion USD added over the last year. Now the number was also 16 billion USD the week before and 25 billion USD the week before that. In theory the Fed has said that QE2 is over and there will be no more money printing for a bit. Will be very intersting to see if they stick to it: Next Thursday's report will give the first answer to the question. Let's assume for a minute that the Fed actually DOES end QE2 this week. What will the effects be? A fall in commodity prices including oil? (Probability seems to be quite high) A fall in stock-markets around the world? (Once again the probability seems to be high). Now we will really be able to see how the world economy gets on without huge injections of thin-air money.

Minimum Gas Well Flow Rate?

Heading Out put together a good post on why we are unlikely to see the stripper equivelent of a gas well: the need to compress the gas for transport.

Can anyone comment on what the minimum flow rate needed to keep a gas well operating? At some point does it become worth more to move the compressor than to run it trying to compress a very low pressure well flow? I am assuming that the compressor is running off gas.

[edit] One more question. Talking with a well operator, I understand that once you get below a certain flow rate the water (often corrosive) will start to percipitate out of the flow and must be removed by pump. Is this another limit on low flow rate wells that could render them uneconomic?

Jon - A somewhat complex answer. No real flow rate limit per se. At that level of production it's all about operating expenses. In a single well situation the compressor is leased for $X/month. It will likely used some of its NG production to fuel the compressor. The big IF: if the well isn't producing any liquids you can flow it down to almost zero mcf/day. And not just if the net cash flow is positive. I've seen more than one operator willing to keep such a well producing even if he's losing a few $hundred a month. If he shuts the well in the lease will typically expire in 30 days. After that he has to plug the well which might cost $5,000+. So he'll run red for a while hoping for higher prices or another operator that might want to drill another well on his lease.

Now if he has a number of low pressure/low flow rate wells he can put in a low pressure pipeline system. So instead of having 20 compressors on 20 wells he can have all the wells flowing through a low P line to a single compressor station. Obviously a much more efficient set up.

Now a whole different world: low pressure NG with either water or condensate production. Due to the low flow rate the NG isn't capable of lifting the liquids to the surface. And thus all production ceases. There are a variety of different "artificial lift systems" that can be used. But they all cost money to install and operate. Often it's not a wise investment to deploy such equipment and the well is abandoned. So again in such a situation, it isn't a low flow rate that kills the project but insufficient economic value to keep it alive.

Here are the two end points. I developed many shallow water drive NG reservoirs in S Texas over the years. The rule of thumb: as soon as you see the first few bbls of water produced you start saving you run checks to pay for the plugging ops that will soon follow. The other end: the New Albany Shale in western KY. After 30 or 40 years you still have no fluid production. Add in many low pressure gathering systems you can still make a little money flowing just 5 or 10 mcf/day. There are thousands of NAS stripper wells out there with some being over 50 years old. But there are other SG plays with either condensate or water production that will drastically cut well life even with much higher flow rates.

This was very useful. I was on the fence about shale gas but I am increasingly convinced that its not sustainable. The gist of what I'm learning is that as consumers we want low natural gas prices but low prices make it uneconomical to extract.

In order to make shale gas economical, we would neither technological breakthroughs in reducing the cost of extraction or some way to store large amounts of gas - in order to permit the wells to run at full tilt.

BB - Though I've never been a cornucopian about SG per se, there is one aspect that makes it somewhat "sustainable". The public companies have to drill and replace their reserve base or they go the way of the dodo. This allows them to continue drilling the SG reservoirs. But as you say it can be self defeating: putting a good bit of marginally profitable NG on the market isn't going to help profitability. If you're familian with a Malasian monkey trap that what these companies face: they have to let go of these plays but they just can't make themselve do so. So, like the monkey, they hang on to their prize until it's too late to let go.

Not sure about your comment: "in order to permit the wells to run at full tilt". Vitually every operator is always producng at max rate. Cash flow is still king. This is specially true of the SG players: most of their cash flow comes within the first two years of a well being drilled. They need to recover their investment as fast as possibile so they can drill the replacement wells for the rapidly depleting wells.

Sorry - that comment didn't come out well. My understanding is as follows: Once a shale gas well starts production, you can't stop and restart production very easily. Since there is very limited storage capacity for natural gas (as opposed to say crude oil), the producer is forced to sell it at a loss into the market. Some kind of large scale storage might permit the producer to withold the gas from the market until more favorable conditions.

BB - Actually we have a rather extensive NG storage system though I don't know exactly where we stand today with regards to capacity. In fact if you check my post to undertow that LNG shipment from here to England came from a facility sitting on top of a huge NG storage facility in a salt dome. Back in late '08 Chesapeake made noise about cutting back their SG production to wait for higher prices. I never did see confirmation tht they ever did so to a significant degree. I know it seems illogical but much of the NG produced from the E Texas SG play the last two years has been done "at a loss". But only a loss with respect to their inital investment. But the cost of producing this NG is minimal and thus represents a very big positive cash flow. And I was serious: it's very rare to see an operator give up cash flow in order to maximize profits down the road. In that sense we are just as short sighted as the public in general.


Working gas in storage was 2,432 Bcf as of Friday, June 24, 2011, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 78 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 243 Bcf less than last year at this time and 63 Bcf below the 5-year average of 2,495 Bcf.

I think some market forecasters expect US nat gas prices to rise significantly during the latter half of 2012 as a result of the slowdown in drilling.

One of the big mistakes of the California de-regulation debacle was that physical storage was sold to the same companies which bought the power plants (who happened to be largely Texas gas companies. Their physical hedging incentives were not aligned with low consumer/utility prices.

shale gas but I am increasingly convinced that its not sustainable

Considering the long time it took the gas to be there - was it ever 'sustainable'?

That gas is photons -> biotic material -> long process -> gas
Other gas generation methods like anaerobic digesters, pyrolysis, (others that the name escapes me)
photons -> biotic material -> plant growth cycle + machines -> gas

If humanity is only going to use anaerobic digesters, pyrolysis et la for gas production - is the production not able to be sustained or is the consumption exceeding production ability?

Thank you! Your insight is very helpful. Are there public stats on well water production? Does your drilling info software provide such data? Or would that be inferred from well life?

A quick google shows that there are estimates of minimum flow rate to draw out the liquids. So if the drilling info data shows the wells are flowing less than that amount could we could infer they are low in water?

jon - Water production from oil/NG wells is often a huge blind spot. It's often a voluntary contribution from operators. That data is extremely usefull in studying the production history of water drive oil reservoirs. Given the inconsistancy of this data DrllingInfo makes to attempt to track it.

For the low end of production: I have relatives in West Virginia with free natural gas from old well on the property -- they only produce what they use.

The last article, "Extreme weather link 'can no longer be ignored'" is welcome, but rather too little, too late.

The fire near Los Alamos, New Mexico is now the largest in that states history.


This days after the largest fire in Arizona's history was finally gotten under control.

And meanwhile, record flooding has been hitting the northern plains and the midsouth, while exceptional drought has become common in a band from AZ to Georgia.

And all these records don't just get broken, they get smashed to bits--falling way down the thin tail of the probability curve.

Apparently, things really have to start looking pretty darn biblical before even scientists start connecting the dots and saying these are not random parts of the static we call weather, but a fundamental shift in the nature of the planet's climate.

Scientific American is weighing-in on the subject with a Special In-depth Report

Extreme Weather and Climate Change: The Complete Series includes:

Part 1: Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change
Part 2: Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather
Part 3: Our Extreme Future: Predicting and Coping with the Effects of a Changing Climate

also Are Greenhouse Gases Upping the Risks of Flooding, Too?

Still, Scientific American is alot closer to the sceptic side of the argument than most mainstream journals

How is climate change related to forest fires?

I would think that the size of forest fires is mainly determined by the buildup of fuel. The current record sizes are likely to be related to decades of the policy of fighting forest fires, rather than letting them burn.

"Doug Fir" wrote about it here. Fire suppression certainly plays a role, but so does a longer burning season, more droughts, etc.

The beetle problem is partly due to milder winters not killing them off. The acres of dead trees that result fuel wildfires.

There was a recent story about banning fireworks in parts of Texas because the drought here is the worst in Texas recorded history, although quantified weather data isn't a particularly long historical record. New Mexico is experiencing a similar drought.

As recently as 1000 years ago, the Nebraska Sand Hills, which are actually desert sand dunes, had lost their vegetation and were being moved by the wind. IIRC, the shape and direction of the dunes indicates that the prevailing winds came from the southwest, and that indicated that the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was no longer penetrating north and west to Nebraska. This would also indicate that most of the Southwest was also very dry during that period.

Texas town uses 'witching' to find water

SAN ANTONIO — Using a couple of brass rods and a big helping of ingenuity, one tiny Texas town has managed to subvert a drought-related crisis and bring water to the people.

Silly as the lead part is, the end of the article has some interesting stuff on how people are learning to conserve water.

I've had more than one land owner in S Texas show me how he could devine for oil. Typically I would just smile and say how interesting it seems. To balance the success at Llano you won't hear too many city fathers bragging how the spent $60,000 drilling an unsuccessful water well based on some witchin'. Thus the public success rate can seem high.

The aquifers around San Antonio are very difficult to chase. You can drill a 3,000' hole and not find a gallon of water. Move over 100' and find a limestone cavern with millions of gallons of water in it. For folks not familiar with S Texas: it's a rather semi-arid land...during the rainy season. Fairly tough on all critters even during good years.

Don't knock it unless you try it. Water divining is regularly used in the UK by country folk.


A lot people around here use it, too, including some high-priced engineering firms.

But studies show there's nothing to it. Basically, you'll hit water eventually if you keep drilling, just about anywhere.

NAOM - Oh I’ve tried just about every exotic method out there including psychics. Really. My current owner has spent millions researching our company psychic. And no…I don’t laugh when he makes predictions. LOL. My special knack is designing field tests that readily prove/disprove the method. I’ll skip the details but I’ve proved the limited ability of one passive system that 99% of the oil patch would never accept. My VP of Geology turns red faced when I bring it up. Search "Petrosonde" if you're curious.

Thanks, that reminds me of the old sonar guys listening to the pings. I doubt if I'd trust dowsing at those depths though, I feel it is more for surface discontinuities. I don't think it is specific to water, just when you walk over a change in the ground; filled trench, wall, fault line, change of rock type etc. Probably work if you are trying to find an old buried oil pipeline but not for a good prospect for drilling.


Warnings from 2007: The Age Of Megafires

"You know, there are a lot of people who don't believe in climate change," Pelley remarks.

"You won't find them on the fire line in the American West anymore," Tom Boatner says. "'Cause we've had climate change beat into us over the last ten or fifteen years. We know what we're seeing, and we're dealing with a period of climate, in terms of temperature and humidity and drought that's different than anything people have seen in our lifetimes."

Recent weather, disasters show importance of emergency readiness

With an earthquake in Philadelphia, tornadoes in Massachusetts and elsewhere, wildfires in Arizona and massive flooding in the Midwest, spring 2011 has been marked by rare disasters and extreme weather. As June ushers in the hurricane season, an extension specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences said people should prepare themselves for the next outbreak of the unexpected.

How is climate change related to forest fires?

In a lot of areas the boundary between forest and praire is controlled by fire. So if the climate shifts, and a current forest is now in a climate zone which is unnatural for it to exist, you know its gonna burn one of these days.

Some forests may be fairly periodic, fuel builds until a big fire takes it out, then it repeats. In that case, climate change might change the period (how long the cycle takes), or even the size/intensity of the fires (fewer bigger ones, or lots of small ones).

Complicating matters in the southwest, grazing did enormous damage. Used to have grass between the trees, and it would burn every few years, taking out the deadwood, and maintaining the sparsity of the forest. But, our species was too greedy to allow that grass to go to waste, so cows were allowed in. The result is the character of the forest changes over time, as the ferquent small grass fires are gone. Now we can't simply go back, fuel density is such that the next fire is likely to be catastrophic.

"And meanwhile, record flooding has been hitting the northern plains and the midsouth, while exceptional drought has become common in a band from AZ to Georgia."

That would be consistent with a climate band shifting north. So now we just have to wait and see if it stays that way or shifts back after the La Nina.

Locally, we've managed about 4 days above 80 so far this year, but at least we got there. Clearly the promised return to normal in June did not happen.

Sorry to have to be the one to brake it to you, p, but there will be no return to normal.

Its going to be descending levels of hell from here on out.

Best to all on the way down.


Sorry, Doh; but I think that kind of comment (even if offered with a snark tag) is simply coming from fear, and then projecting it.

"Descending Levels of Hell from here on out.."

-a bit of Predicticating is all well and good, but show a little humility, and dare I say it, a little spirit, eh?


Two nights ago almost the entire local 10 o'clock news was devoted to the many wild fires in New Mexico. ... the news folks said that some 24 new fires erupted in the past week.

Today...the Cibola Forest ranger district has closed all trails...no hiking in the beautiful Sandia Mts that border Albuquerque.

Yesterday my wife said out of the blue 'maybe we should have an evacuation plan'...and I said yes, but nit for fires, and I described how the SW winds could blow a plume of radioactive contamination from Palo Verde nuclear plant in Tuscon over Albuquerque and I reminded her of the satellite photos of the smoke plume from the Eastern AZ fires arcing all the way up to the Minnesota/Canada border.

Have the day off, and the flipping smoke is back...woke up and it smells like I am sleeping next to a smokey campfire...

the Cibola Forest ranger district has closed all trails

When I lived there daily (or twice) mountain biking was the big thing for me. Hated those fire closures. Forest service does it cause smokers can't control themselves, gotta have a smoke, then toss out the smoiking butt. So even though hikers and bikers are almost never smokers, they got no choice, keep everyone out....
I remember one closure, the night before it was scheduled was a big thunderstorm, mud was everywhere, but they went ahead with the closure anyway. And one year the closure coincided with tropical storm remnants coming in, and several inches of rain. Hopefully the storm gods will get the message (although the forecast doesn't seem to show it).

I'm surprised they waited so long.

Argentina considers OPEC-like deal for lithium

AFP - Argentina is promoting the idea of an OPEC-like cartel for itself, Bolivia and Chile, which together control 85 percent of the world's reserves of lithium, a key component in electric car batteries.

"In the near future and with our production at such a high level, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile will control the lithium market," said Rodolfo Tecchi, the director of the technology and science promotion division of the Argentine Ministry of Science and Technology.

Central Florida's SunRail project is back on track

Florida leaders this morning gave the go-ahead to SunRail, the long-delayed Central Florida commuter train project.

Ananth Prasad, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, made the official announcement during a Tallahassee news conference heavily attended by public-relations staffers working for local governments and business groups backing the project.

The $1.2 billion train was put on hold in January by Gov. Rick Scott, who has made it clear that he is no fan of the project.

June auto sales fail to pick up speed

June turned out to be a second consecutive month of lackluster auto sales as dealers dealt with inventory issues caused by the Japanese earthquake and buyers balked at recent price increases.

Automakers sold cars at annual rate of about 12 million last month, well below the 13-million-vehicle rate automakers had posted for much of the year until the market took a dip in May.

Anecdote: my buddy sells luxury cars for a living. He's currently selling about 20% of his 2010 average.

GM Sales Miss Estimates as Trucks Trail

General Motors Co. (GM) said U.S. sales rose 10 percent in June, missing analysts’ estimates, as pickups lagged the growth in deliveries of cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze. Big-truck inventories swelled to the highest of the year.

Man, this guy had me fooled a few years ago, before he started his run for President:

McCain Distorts History to Support Claim of Isolationism


Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has appeared prominently in the news lately for a number of bellicose statements, including grave warnings to fellow Republicans over their reluctance to join him in advocating military force to defend American ideals around the globe.

That's right John, keep beating that war drum, so we can remain distracted from the Limits to growth issues we face.

The MIC is one of last (very) profitable industries and a first-rate taxpayer-funded jobs program.

He should concentrate on blanketing Arizona with PV and CSP, and on implementing energy conservation measures for Arizonans, and in conducting a rigorous safety review of Palo Verde, instead of sending our soldiers around the World to do his bidding and get his revenge for being imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton.

And I say that as a 20-year AF vet who experienced Prisoner-of-War training and who has at least a tiny inkling of what he went through.

Yeh, this empire thingee has really worked out well the last ten years. McCain is senile.

The fire-fighters are conducting a full-court press to try to contain fires North of Albuquerque right now...five water bombers have headed North from the SunPort in the past ~25 minutes, including new Air Force C-130J transports equipped with the MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire-Fighting System).

We can see the smoke on the Norther Horizon...the plumes look like building thunderstorm clouds.

In the 2000 fire (Cerro Grande I think), knowing that the Jemez is a giagantic caldera, which must have affected the whole world when it blew 1.4 million years ago, and seeing huge smoke clouds, it was easy to imagine what an eruption looks like.

Link up top "Electric airplane pilot breaks own speed record"...

This is an interesting little story in its own right, but what is really though provoking is comparing this plane, which reached a speed of 175 mph, to an electric car. From the linked story;

The tiny airplane has a wingspan of just over 16 feet and weighs around 200 pounds. Powered by a pair of 35 horsepower electric motors and a pair of batteries totaling 3 kilowatt hours, the electric Cri Cri can fly for about 25 minutes at a speed of 65 miles per hour.

According to those numbers, cruising at 65mph, this thing gets nine miles per kWh - three times that of a Nissan Leaf! (No traffic to worry about either!) Add another 3kWh of battery (60lbs) and you have a 65mile range on a battery one quarter the size of a Leaf

This shows just what you can do for a vehicle design when you are freed of road crash safety requirements. Lose the wings, put on three (lightweight) road wheels and tyres, and you have a very efficient (single seater) electric vehicle.

Even if you have to have an Indy car style safety cage, you could still keep this vehicle under 500lbs on the road.

There is so much scope for efficient transport if passenger vehicles are not our normal "cars"

Arcimoto of Eugene, Oregon has a 3-wheeler that is classed as a motorcycle and thus doesn't need to meet automotive crash safety standards. It has a safety cage, 65 mph speed, 80 mile range (with LitFePO4 batteries) and carries two people. Total curb weight ... 1,700 lbs.

But this is for version 0.0.1 with a safety cage of welded tubular steel. With a real manufacturing process and composite materials, one hopes they could get the weight down closer to 1,000 lbs.

As liquid fuels become increasingly unaffordable over the rest of this decade we will start seeing such non-standard vehicles hitting the road. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Smart cars and Mini Coopers would become popular. In Seattle we see them now all the time.

jonathan - Interesting. Have they offered a suggested retail price? As I age and get closer to a city bound retirement life such transportation begins to look more interesting.

SMRP is $17,500 for the lead acid batteries (40 mile range). Add another $5K for the Li batteries. They hope to start production in late 2011 or early 2012.

I'm sure you'd turn quite a few heads driving down one of your local roads in one of those!

From a press release in June 2010;

The base model is priced at $17,500. Beyond the base, purchasers can select hard or soft-shell coverings. They can stick with the heavy-weight lead acid batteries, or they can pony up as much as $5,000 additional for lithium batteries — which will increase the car’s between-charge range to 80 miles, up from the standard 40.

I think these guys are on the right track, but they need to call in the team from the X-prize winning Edison Very LIght Car, and put their prototype on a weight loss program. The Edison met the road safety standards, seats four and weighed less then 900lbs.

Not saying these guys should go to that extreme, but 1700lbs for a two seater three wheeler seems very heavy. They should ditch the lead acid battery option - just by having it, they are having to engineer the vehicle to carry that weight. The Edison VLC found that ounce they got the "payload" weight down to a certain point, then they could lighten the frame, the suspension, the brakes, etc etc. Looking at the Arcimoto pictures and drawings this still seems a bit over engineered to me.

Here is an example of a similar concept, built by some Australian university students, the TREV (three wheeled electric vehicle)

empty weight, 660lbs, incl 5.5kWh battery.
Top speed 75mph, cruising range 90 miles, recharge time with fast charger - one hour - a union lunch break!

Like the Edison, this is an extreme example, but it shows what can be done if you put light weight as priority #1.

Somewhere between Trev/Edison VLC and the 1700lb Arcimoto is the sweet spot.

Incidentally, the original maker of three wheeled cars, Morgan of England , is getting set to produce them again (after a 60 year hiatus);

How's that for character? (They are available with less garish paint jobs).
Weight -1100lbs, 2 cyl V-twin engine, place your order now - just $38k for a piece of history on (three) wheels!


Your points are well taken and if Arcimoto becomes a big company they will probably hire the extra engineers it takes to go for really light weight. Right now they are a tiny outfit in Eugene -- 11 people from accounting to fabrication to president. Their main goal at the moment is to come out with something functional that meets their price point. If they can generate sales then the the engineering can evolve from there.

Personally, I like this small, agile approach to design and manufacturing. I think a much broader ecology of transportation choices would be a good thing given the uncertainties ahead.


and if Arcimoto becomes a big company

And there's the rub. Unlike the software/internet business, doing a business producing road legal cars is hard to do out of a basement or garage, and there have been many, many attempts to make a 'new" car that have come to nought, more often than not simply because the operation can't get any capital.

I think the X prize competition was an interesting pointer to how it could be done, though its requirements were a bit extreme.
But consider this, if the gov had diverted $1bn from the $25bn auto bailout package into a development
program that will pay $1million per concept car that can hit the road and meet these rules;

- able to do a 100 mile drive (60mph) on 1 gal fuel (e.g. 50 miles electric, and 50 on engine at 50mpg).
- top speed 75 mph, 0-60 in less than 15s, 50mph up a 4% grade
- minimum two people
-reasonable expectation to meet safety rules (assess by gov engineers)
- $500k for a car that is a retrofit/modification/conversion
- reasonable expectation of production cost of $30k or less
- any company that has already taken auto bailout money need not apply
-max one vehicle per company per year

the gov makes available testing facilities (dynamometers, emission testing, etc) and the safety engineers, and then has an annual proving session, where the concept cars are put through their paces.

And that's it. The $1m would be a huge bonus to companies like Arcimoto, university teams etc. They could get sponsorships and be able to offer a partial payback when they meet the requirements.

That $1bn fund would all of for one thousand such cars, and out of those, there have to be at least a few that would amount to something.

this would stimulate the aftermarket ev component suppliers/converters, and the Popular Mechanics types, and escape the conservatism of the car companies.

This sentiment is summed up by a recent posting of FAQ's on the Edison blog;

Is there interest from large OEM’s? Yes, lots. But for reasons deeply embedded in their methods it is difficult for OEM's to quickly adopt our technology. It is not “plug and play” with current legacy based vehicles. A new car from Ford or GM or Volkswagon reflects millions of dollars invested in things like suspensions, brakes, and drive-trains. Our car is a ground-up design – it is so light that it no longer requires a heavy suspension, or brakes, or a powerful engine, and in fact it uses no parts at all that come from other cars. Our approach just does not fit neatly into current business models. Because we are "favored by physics" we feel it is certain at least some of our ideas will find their way into future cars.

How about a kit? We haven’t ruled out the idea of a kit as a learning vehicle, which would be an affordable, quick way to see some VLCs on the road. It may depend on how many people would be interested in a kit, so if you are, let us know!

The Edison approach worked, and it "does not fit into current business models", so time spur some new business models. One $ of R&D help to the Arcimotos probably achieves more than $1000 given to the car companies.
After all, the gov gives zillions to defense companies to develop things, and its a model that works, there is no reason it could not be applied on a smaller scale to the independent car developers.

And if it spurs the big car cos into some action, even better.

Remember Al Gore's Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles? Bush the Junior killed that program. Would it have worked for US car companies? We'll never know, but Toyota did put out with the Prius...

E. Swanson

The automotive business has barriers to entry that are downright brutal for small start ups. One of the more promising small EV makers just went belly up:


There have been some noteworthy and spectacular failures of even relatively well-funded entrants (i.e., >$100M initial funding) into the auto business, even when they weren't trying anything so grandiose as achieving a fundamental paradigm shift. The best hope for a small firm with to gain any traction in the marketplace is to get bought by one of the big players who decides to incorporate the technology into its own offerings. Not all business sectors are like that, but the auto industry is generally unkind to small frys.

It is indeed tough for startups - there are some very onerous regulations to meet, which the automakers know keeps their competition out. But that doesn't mean it can't be changed and done.

Think's problem was that their car looked like a shrunk Beetle and was just uninspiring - the only place where it would have been at home - Japan and Korea, is where they didn't sell it.

Agreed that the best hope for the small ones is to be bought, but the big ones don;t do that very often - they really don't need to. They also hate licensing technology off any of these small co's - they will let them go broke first.

But, there are some small mfrs out there, Intermeccanica in Vancouver has been producing hand built cars for decades;

Interestingly, another highly regulated industry has many small manufacturers - light aircraft. Somehow, they have made that business model work, partly because the hardest part - making the engines, is left to two specialist companies, everyone else just builds the planes around them.

That is the business model I could see for small volume cars. A good start would be for the gov to provide the safety certification etc for free, and advisory service on how to meet it. What could then happen is a for a bunch to get together and get a common chassis design, or maybe two, certified, and then they can all do their own body styles and driveline systems. The big guys do that, with a common platform (called the "skateboard"). Even easier if they start with a platform that has already been engineered, maybe the Tesla, or for a three wheeler that is classed as a motorcycle, use the chassis of the Bombardier Spyder

It needs the government to take a serious look at the barriers to entry, as these are also barriers to innovation. There are no such barriers to entry in the software business, and there has been tremendous innovation.

One way would be to create a special class of vehicles, that have restrictions on size and weight, that get some special treatment in regards to safety, this would also encourage a common platform design. This is similar to the kei car concept that has been used in Japan for five decades.

The electric car can be a bit of game changer here, since any experienced (and even some inexeperienced) mechanic can readily buy and install all the components to do a conversion, it is far simpler than buying all the components for a mechanical driveline. This opens the possibility for kit electric cars, where some companies build and sell the chassis, others the body and still others the electric driveline. Sounds like a good sideline industry for the American auto racing industry, which is likely to start shrinking soon. These guys know how to build cars, they just need to develop some standardised models and then start producing.

Paul - IM builds a great little car! Do you have one? If you follow all the specialty speedster builders, then I'm sure you know there are actually several doing EV versions - all onesy, twosy, mom and pop outfits, but pretty cool anyway. A guy could probably make a go of a small shop doing EV conversions or ultra low volume specialty cars, but it's the next level up where the small frys tend to get crushed. And with Nissan cranking out Leaf's (or is it Leaves?) for $25K, you wonder if a guy doing custom conversions on any non-specialty cars could stay in business for long. Nobody will be able to beat them on battery cost given their multi-billion dollar investment in manufacturing plants. Kind of like the multitude of mom and pop PC builders that "went away" after the onslaught of Dell, HP, Compaq, etc.

Wow! Reminds me of my mad summer of a moony mite, I flew that one seat gas gulper from Boston to Seattle, spending ALL of my time in the air looking for a place to land. Took insane risks and yet made it there and back A fuel line broke over Cleveland, and I immediately shut off the ignition and put the fuel soaked nose down. There right in perfect position was the Cleveland lake front air port. Had no need to even touch the controls. Rolled to a stop in front of a mechanic, who asked "D'ya always land like that?"

In this electric one, would only get from one end of Cleveland to a little beyond the other. But, presumably, a nice quiet non-smelly ride.

Ex-IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn freed without bail

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been released from house arrest and had his $6m (£3.7m) cash bail and bond returned, reports say.

Prosecutors are said to have agreed that Mr Strauss-Kahn should be freed "on his own recognisance," meaning he must simply promise to appear in court.

He is accused of sexually assaulting a maid in a New York hotel on 14 May.

But the case is reported to be close to collapse after serious doubts arose about the credibility of his accuser.

Gadhafi threatens attacks in Europe if NATO doesn't stop
'We can decide to treat you in a similar way,' embattled Libyan leader tells rally


Venezuelans stunned by Chavez cancer revelation
President vows to 'be victorious in this new battle that life has placed before us'


I imagine there are people in US Government think tanks who are envisioning Courses of Action for an eventual post-Chavez Venezuela.

I can imagine some folks thinking that ball that under-produced Orinoco heavy oil is America's real SPR.

I noticed a new drilling site a few miles from my home, where Chief Oil & Gas is drilling yet another Marcellus gas well. Out of curiosity I visited their web site, where I came across this gem of information:

Natural gas is one of the cleanest fuel choices for electricity and transportation. It creates no harmful greenhouse gases and reduces air pollution.


Wow, that's straight from the horse's mouth! Who'da thunk it?

PT in PA

SW - Wow...it's seldom you see a public company issue an out right lie. They tend to have high priced PR folks who know how to spin it right. LOL. I'll guess if you were to challenge them they might argue that greenhouse gases aren't "proven" to be harmful and that CO2 isnt bad. I also suspect the "reduces air pollution" will be explained as a misspeak: that it creats LESS pollution than other fuel sources.

I'm guessing they just got a little carried away with themselves. They are Texans and you know how we tend to brag bit. But from what I see in the web site they may be a good and responsible company. Just a little loose with their words.

Rock: yes, they look like a pretty good outfit on the web. And their animation of drilling a shale gas well is cool.

I have an unrelated question about some of the wells around here; any chance of direct email without identity compromise? Do you have a site with a feedback link? -PT in PA

SW - Any time. I'm on AOL as wjd2211. Of course, I'll have to wear a mask when I reply to protect my identity. Rockman...a web site? Cher...you make the joke, no?

Re: Exposing the Demonizers of Shale Gas, up top:

Dave Cohen's post yesterday:


Looks like TOD's Art Berman is losing credibility. New York has just announced they will resume shale gas development despite his objections. Faithful readers of TOD remember how Berman clung to the incorrect annular flow hypothesis during the Macondo well static well kill operation. He wrote this article for TOD http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6798 which was very influential in trying to sell the idea that using a "static kill" to permanently kill the BP Macondo well was very dangerous because the flow was up the annulus rather than axial flow up the producion casing. The axial flow path has now been conclusively proven by the Chief Counsel to the President's Oil Spill Commission. Berman was very, very wrong. He had a 50-50 chance and crapped out.

BTW I was very, very right in demanding the "lubricate and bleed" technique he discusses in that article (using the term "bleed and lubricate") to kill the axial flow in the Macondo well!

It's nice to have been proven right!

His credibility has been damaged by an inability to admit his mistakes.

I don't think Arthur's credibility has been damaged. He sent this information around to quite a few people.

I would like to explain the truth.

  1. I was retained as an expert witness by Indiana Gasification to testify about long-term trends in natural gas supply and price. I essentially stated what I had already published on The Oil Drum and on my blog: "EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011: Don’t Worry, Be Happy" (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7285). The article is completely false in saying that I testified against hydraulic fracturing. It is quite common for experienced consulting geologists to work as expert witnesses.
  2. I have a retainer agreement with Middlefield Group which pays me a quarterly fee to meet with key clients and present my views on current and future trends in oil and natural gas supply and price. I have no involvement with The Groppe Fund nor is my role to promote any view of shale gas. I certainly have no qualification and, therefore, no role in promoting any investment outlook. I choose my own topics to discuss without direction from Middlefield. The last time that I checked, it was perfectly acceptable for a consulting geologist to consult. My only compensation is a quarterly retainer check.
  3. Middlefield is a money manager that invests exclusively in equities in energy and real estate. I am not aware of any short positions that they have or, for that matter, in any other aspect of their business. I am simply someone they present to clients as an energy expert and our association somehow promotes their credibility. They use me for impressing their key clients, to be blunt. I have no advisory role in their investments and hold no position in their company and don't invest through them.
  4. I gave a talk one year ago at a client meeting sponsored by CIBC. I have had no other business with them since. Again, I think that it is OK for a consultant to take on consulting work.
  5. I told no one about my involvement with the New York Times story except my wife and closest friends. That involvement did not in any way affect any of my personal investments which, by the way, are all in REITs and mutual funds.

My guess is that the article was funded by shale gas lobbies and promotional groups, and their clear intent is to discredit me. The truth is that my involvement with Indiana Gasification and Middlefield is clearly laid out in contracts that I am happy to show anyone. The author of RealClearPolitics article never contacted me to discuss or verify his allegations.

Also, the author of the article is Jon Entine. He wrote an article dated April 29, 2011 titled When Science is Unfavorable, Attack the Scientist.

Jon apparently makes a live writing stuff he is paid to write. According to his web page,

Chief Executive Magazine, in its 2010 article "Green Visigoths," wirtes Jon and ESG MediaMetrics are one of the world's top management consultancies--the "Delta Force"--dealing with green issues, particularly organizations under regulatory or advocacy scrutiny.

Areva, Toshiba invited to bid for new Finnish nuclear plant

AFP - Finnish nuclear power company Fennovoima on Friday invited French nuclear giant Areva and Japan's Toshiba to bid for the construction of a new power plant.

U.S. company exports unique solar technology to China

When Evergreen Solar opened its productions site in Marlboro just outside from Boston in 2000, investors were convinced that the business would soon turn into a slam dunk. The production focused on a unique new technology developed by scientists at the Ivy League Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wasting less silicone during the manufacturing process and thus saving millions of dollars if used on a large scale.

In 2009, Evergreen Solar announced a joint-venture deal with the Jiawei Solarchina Co. and the government-owned Hubei Science & Technology Investment Co. The announcement was the starting point to move key elements of the production from the United States to Wuhan.

China has been a magnet for innovators and has invested heavily in Green Technologies. China is also a global leader in solar panel production. A 33-million-U.S.-dollar loan provided by the Wuhan government soon turned into an offer cash-strapped Evergreen Solar couldn't resist. "The reason that we can't make the technology here is that the costs of manufacturing here in the U.S. are just too high. We can't make modules at a cost that is competitive with what people can do in China,"admits Evergreen Solar's Chief Technology Officer Larry Felton in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"The reason that we can't make the technology here is that the costs of manufacturing here in the U.S. are just too high. We can't make modules at a cost that is competitive with what people can do in China,"admits Evergreen Solar's Chief Technology Officer Larry Felton in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Yep, that about sums it up. Something's gotta give.

Solar project could be start of diversified economy

Laughlin might soon find itself at the center of Nevada’s economic recovery, as a Chinese power company is seeking approval to build a solar panel manufacturing plant, industrial park and solar array there.

Clark County commissioners will be asked Tuesday to initiate negotiations with ENN Mojave Energy Corp. to purchase 5,400 acres of county land near Laughlin, which is about 90 miles south of Las Vegas.

When completed, the factory and an area for an industrial park would sit on 300 to 400 acres about 12 miles south of Laughlin, east of Needles Highway and west of the Colorado River. The factory would create about 2,000 skilled manufacturing jobs, according to county documents.

The average annual pay for such jobs, according to the company, was $72,000 in 2007. The company, however, wants to build more than the factory. County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said that after the factory is complete, workers will spend the next two to three years building solar panels for a massive solar plant on 5,100 acres on the west side of Needles Highway.

Evergreen made some fundamental mistakes. Their panels were not standard size, and that led to a lot of extra costs. Having a good idea is not enough, you got to execute well in other ways as well. They are largely considered as a has been solar company. First Solar is the current star. There are other ways to reduce silicon costs, I think it is too late for these folks. Nice, idea. Nice, try...

Nuclear waste requires cradle-to-grave strategy

According to Allison Macfarlane, associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, and a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, coming up with storage solutions for nuclear waste continues to be a last-minute decision in a number of countries besides Japan. It is surprisingly common for reactor sites to be overburdened with spent fuel with no clear disposal plan. In South Korea, for example, storage at the nation's four nuclear plants is filling up, leading to a potential storage crisis within the next decade.

The United Arab Emirates broke ground for the first of four nuclear reactors on March 14, 2011 but has not prioritized storage. Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and current chairman of the UAE's International Advisory Board, noted: "The question of a final disposal plan is still open and more attention should be spent on deciding what to do."

...In all types of energy production, money is made at the front end of the process rather than in waste management at the back end. Macfarlane argues, however, that a failure to plan for waste disposal can cause the more profitable front end of the operation to collapse.

... Countries should include additional spent fuel storage in their nuclear power plans from the start, rather than creating ad hoc solutions after spent fuel has already begun to build up.

It’s 2050: Do you know where your nuclear waste is? by Allison Macfarlane appears in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 2011 issue. The article will be free to access for a limited period

Civilian nuke plants as implemented need sources of water for cooling - that limits sites.

Taking a few years to build and even more years to shut 'em down limit the ability to implement.

When they fail they remove land from human access for many generations and like the above ground bomb testing shortening human lifespan - so does the failure of Fission plants.

Controlling the waste stream from the bad idea of Fission power is a lesser problem stacked on top of limiting factors like citing and building/shutdown and materials/humans to build/run a plant.

What does everyone here think about "Taking Back The American Dream"?

If you look on progressive websites such as this one, you see them using idea of the American Dream. IMHO they are using it as a catalyst that hopefully will spark action against the rich guys who are grabbing everything for themselves at our expense.

I self-identify as a progressive and I don't want everyone to start bashing on them. But there seems to be a disconnect here. Are the American Dream promoters wilfully ignoring the effects of resource depletion on the economy? Are they that poorly informed? Is this American Dream thing strictly a political move? Or are they embracing a definition of a future American Dream that will necessarily be less wealthy than the past?

In this political landscape, is there room for a discussion about the meaning, value, and future of the American Dream?

The idea got its first public airing when it was written by James Truslow Adams in 1931: "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. So Adams' idea was about opportunities for all. He wasn't necessarily thinking about a McMansion for everyone, but more about equality of opportunity. The idea seems to have changed a bit since then.

Many have posted on this site that "the American Dream is dead". It's pretty obvious that the fossil-fueled pursuit of material wealth was a bad plan that is leading us into a dead end. I can't believe that the progressive movement would be so thoughtless about this. What's up?

Realization of what has traditionally been considered the American dream is what is turing everything into the American Nightmare. The American Dream presupposes business as usual and that we simply get back to where were were well before the latest recession. The American dream is a world clogged with cars and endless suburbia for everyone. No change or sacrifice required. Some think we can reignite the dream by getting rid of what they consider socialism; others think it can be reignited with super duper Keynesianism. Both dreams presuppose a planet which disappeared long ago. Change the dream and maybe I could get on board.

"Politics is the art of the possible." You just aren't going to get many votes, telling people, "Sorry, you're going to have to get used to being poor."

The American dream - everyone living better than their parents did - is clearly insane, unsustainable, and probably undesirable as well. (Isn't there a point where you have enough, and don't need or even want more?) But it's the way people, especially left-leaning people, justify inequality. It's a pyramid scheme, where those on the bottom support those higher up, and are told that eventually, they'll rise to the middle, if not the top. Without that promise of upward mobility, it becomes the worst kind of exploitation.

I've been thinking about the disconnect between political life and physical reality. Obviously selling the American Dream again is more politically viable than selling the prospect of joblessness, even though the latter is a more likely future. Personally I think we need to embrace the powerdown idea and finally begin the work of learning how to live satisfying lives instead of living frantically as insatiable consumers.

BTW I think it's extremely telling that the American Dream idea originated during the First Great Depression. Not sure what that means though, except here it is coming back again to encounter familiar circumstances.

But it seems like this American Dream idea has a maximum life span of roughly two years in the current economic regime. If you tell people they're working to regain the good old American Dream, well, that's just a lie, and people ought to figure that out in a couple of years. Heck, they should know it already. So this seems like an effective way to politically shoot oneself in the foot. Maybe it's just about the 2012 elections.

Or maybe the progressives have noticed that republicans rarely get called out for lying, so maybe they figure they'll never take the blame for promoting an impossible vision.

People don't want to let go of the past. See Greer's Faustus and the monkey trap

And here's an explanation of why we have the Tea Party

A Warning from the Past

...For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future. Finally, they must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap.

When individual interests and prospects do not seem worth living for, we are in desperate need of something apart from us to live for. All forms of dedication, devotion, loyalty and self-surrender are in essence a desperate clinging to something which might give worth and meaning to our futile, spoiled lives. Hence the embracing of a substitute will necessarily be passionate and extreme. We can have qualified confidence in ourselves, but the faith we have in our nation, religion, race or holy cause has to be extravagant and uncompromising. A substitute embraced in moderation cannot supplant and efface the self we want to forget.

The American dream - everyone living better than their parents did - is clearly insane, unsustainable, and probably undesirable as well.

Only if you equate "living better than their parents" to increasing resource consumption per capita(bigger house and cars). It's pretty clear that mental and physical health have been declining for over 50 years in america, all while increasing resource consumption.

(Isn't there a point where you have enough, and don't need or even want more?)

There has been quite a few studies that show a general increase in happiness and well being having access to the fruits of industrial civilization, like access to electricity, consistent nutrient food, modern health care, etc. Once it goes beyond that than it starts to turn into a pathology and has an inverse effect on peoples mental health. Marx so aptly put it a commodity fetish.

Without that promise of upward mobility, it becomes the worst kind of exploitation.

Another Marxian term is false consciousness, is essentially a result of ideological control which the proletariat either do not know they are under or which they disregard with a view to their own POUM (probability/possibility of upward mobility).

This is something that rarely happens in the real world, people tend not to leave their social strata. Though, in the modern industrialized world social stratas have gained more access to technology and energy giving the illusion that they moved up. It's always been exploitation, it will just become obvious with the advent of peak oil.

But, yeah, the illusion is starting to break and will exacerbate with less access to energy. Not good for the future of capitalism. You could throw in there the illusion of the "Just World Myth" that has been around since feudalism - That "success" and "Failure" are always earned. If failure isn’t always earned, then we might just might figure out that success isn’t always earned either. And if success isn’t always earned, well… , maybe those richer-than-thous aren’t holier-than-thous after all.

"life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

This is part of US propaganda to homogenize society as a mass of individuals functioning according to the rules of economic man. In most of the world, the individual is tied to kin groups, tribes, linguistic groups, race, nationality, religion, etc. In the US there has been a consistent push to delegitimize such communal allegiances so that individuals can be better exploited and inter-group competition can be minimized.

Note that economically and politically powerful groups pay the American Dream lip service but do not actually subscribe to it.

Merrill: this "American Dream" trope is indeed very intriguing, and in its skillful redeployment may lie the seeds of a new narrative around which people can meaningfully rally as we descend the net energy curve.

A quick google yielded a fascinating wikipedia entry:

Hanson and Zogby (2010) report on numerous public opinion polls that since the 1980s have explored the meaning of the concept for Americans, and their expectations for its future. In these polls, a majority of American consistently reported that for their family, the American Dream is more about spiritual happiness than material goods. Majorities state that working hard is the most important element for getting ahead. However, an increasing minority stated that hard work and determination does not guarantee success. On the pessimistic side, most Americans predict that achieving the Dream with fair means will become increasingly difficult for future generations. They are increasingly pessimistic about the opportunity for the working class to get ahead; on the other hand, they are increasingly optimistic about the opportunities available to poor people and to new immigrants to get ahead in the United States. Furthermore, most support programs make special efforts to help minorities get ahead.

this "American Dream" trope is indeed very intriguing,

Its called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it.

I think you are spot on.

What is so interesting is how America has conspired to undermine the very idea of being "American."

This propaganda is so successful that neither the left nor the right even bothers taking it on anymore. If I were merely to point out that an illegal immigrant is, in fact, a Mexican citizen, and not an American, I would be crucified.

Of course, this makes sense, as America is a country which doesn't recognize limits. The whole world is, ultimately....American!

This explains much of the globalization process, as well. The CEO of Corporation X, let's call him Steve Mobs, could care less whether he employs actual American citizens living in America, or Chinese slave labor. It's all the same to him. He cares only for the bottom line, in which case Chinese slave labor wins out.

Of course, this is a streak that runs deep in the West since it became powerful enough to dominate others. In the process, these powers lose sight of who and what they are, leading to self destruction. Europe committed suicide once, now it's America's turn.

What is so interesting is how America has conspired to undermine the very idea of being "American."

I don't think that's true. We are truly a nation of immigrants. It's what's always worked for us in the past. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is a big part of being "American." (Circumstances may have changed, with the petri dish getting full and all, but you can't blame people for not realizing it.)

This propaganda is so successful that neither the left nor the right even bothers taking it on anymore.

Immigration serves the interests of both the left and the right. Recent immigrants tend to vote Democratic. They often live in liberal-leaning urban areas, and are counted in the census/electoral college, even if they are illegal and can't vote. Illegal immigrants are cheap labor, so big business supports open borders as well.

The average American wants stricter enforcement of immigration laws, but neither party supports it, so it's a standoff, and nothing is done.

U.S. State Department OSAC [Overseas Security Advisory Council]: Is China Next for Social Unrest?

The recent social unrest and subsequent government overthrows in Egypt and Tunisia have had deep reverberations not only around the Middle East, but throughout the world. ... In this report, those variables will be analyzed with respect to the People’s Republic of China, and the probability it will be the next country to experience social unrest.

Focus: Unemployment, Food Prices, Corruption, Government Control

...the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knows how to retain power and will use overwhelming force to keep it, as demonstrated by its handling of the ethnic uprising by Xinjiang’s Uighurs in 2009 and the Tibetans’ riots in Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces in 2008. Here, the government utilized its police and military strength to dominate the opposition. ...the government will not compromise on issues pertaining to sovereignty, autonomy, and political freedom ....

What did they forgot? Oh, let's see, ... Energy, Climate, Economic collapse ...

Energy Concerns Could Make Panetta First Green DOD Chief

... while insiders say outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates understood the serious security challenge the military's energy reliance poses, he stopped short of getting publicly involved with the issue. And although President Obama has spoken frequently of the geopolitical threats of fossil fuel dependence, the military's energy requirements have not made their way onto his national energy agenda.

Now, as Panetta comes to the Pentagon with strong, bipartisan backing, some defense energy insiders are hoping he will bring the kind of top-level support to the issue that could break through the department's grinding bureaucracy and bring transformational change.

... In a 2006 editorial in his hometown paper, the Monterey County Herald, Panetta emphasized the importance of a cost incentive to changing the country's energy scenario.

"In the end, it may very well be the price itself, rather than any mandate from Washington, that may have the greatest impact on changing human behavior when it comes to energy," he wrote. "It is only when the public begins to demand more gas efficient vehicles, and uses more mass transit, car pools and fuel alternatives that the market will respond."

Lockheed Promises Electric-Grid Security

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) is selling its military and intelligence expertise to electric utilities as the world’s largest defense contractor tries to exploit a U.S. push to guard power grids from terrorists and hackers.

I feel safer already - and I bet they'll do it under budget.

Under budget...yep, their track record on one of the largest DoD acquisitions ever can put our minds at ease:


LM also has experience in Cyber Warfare...as a victim...but, they claim that they repelled the attacks without losing any important information:

Lockheed Martin Suffers Massive Cyberattack



Videos of December 2010 and April 2011 hearings have been posted at the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Team website.


A group who seeks answers to What hath Man wrought?


The Center for PostNatural History is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge relating to the complex interplay between culture, nature and biotechnology. The PostNatural refers to living organisms that have been altered through processes such as selective breeding or genetic engineering. The mission of the Center for PostNatural History is to acquire, interpret and provide access to a collection of living, preserved and documented organisms of postnatural origin.

Efficiency Nova Scotia's 2012 budget has been approved by the NSURB, and from what I gather ductless heat pumps could become the newest addition to our energy saving arsenal.

Green plan could increase power bills
NSP: Efficiency Nova Scotia charge won’t be clear till fall

Electricity consumers could see a slight increase on their power bills next year to pay for conservation programs.

The programs are delivered by the independent, non-profit Efficiency Nova Scotia Corp.

Its 2012 budget was approved at $43.7 million by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in a decision released Thursday, up about $1.8 million, or 4.3 per cent, from the 2011 budget.

Nova Scotia Power customers pay a separate charge on their bills to fund Efficiency Nova Scotia. The charge for residential consumers is 0.466 cents per kilowatt hour, which adds up to a typical charge of $7.52 every two months.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1251258.html

A happy Canada Day/la fête du Canada to all my fellow Cannuckleheads and wannabes, or Dominion Day if you should so prefer. Let us raise our glasses to the greatest country in the world !


Not a good time for nuclear powerplants... even jelly fish are out to get them
And it is predicted that jelly fish will keep multiplying worldwide since overfishing destroyed most of their predators...
So if you build a nuclear plant on the sea, it can get destroyed by a tsunami or clogged by jelly fish. If you place them on riverside, they get flooded or ran out of cooling water during drought like in France in 2003. Nuclear plants needs total stability, including no weather changes, proliferating jelly fish or riots ...

Radiation Expert: More Threats Ahead for Japan

TOKYO—A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government's continuing handling of the crisis, and predicted further revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.

...while there have been scattered reports already of food contamination—of tea leaves and spinach, for example—Mr. Kosako said there will be broader, more disturbing discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan's staple, is harvested.

"Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos," Mr. Kosako said. "Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination—though I don't know at what levels—setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku, …we'll have a tricky problem."

Japanese Cancer Expert on the Fukushima Situation

...Nishio originally called for “calm” in the days after the accident. Now, he argues, that as the gravity of the situation at the plant has become more clear, the specter of long-term radiation exposure must be reckoned with.


5.He accuses TEPCO of being up to the old tricks of the nuclear industry: giving dispatch and temporary workers broken radiation monitors, only giving them monitoring devices when they are working despite high levels of radiation throughout the site, and so on.

11.Apart from the iodine that they are being given, workers should also be taking Radiogardase (Prussian blue insoluble capsules). Not working to bring together the best preventative medicine, Nishio asserts angrily, is an example of “graveyard governance”.


2.The release of data from the expensive SPEEDI system, was delayed until March 23. This delay resulted in unnecessary radiation exposure. “It is only conceivable that the high rate of radiation released was not reported because of fears of a panic.”

3.Former Minister for Internal Affairs Haraguchi Kazuhiro has alleged that radiation monitoring station data was actually three decimal places greater than the numbers released to the public. If this is true, it constitutes a “national crime”, in Nishio’s words. He follows with, “Giving us the truth once is much more important than saying ‘hang in there Japan!’ a million times.”

Radiation traces found in Fukushima children

All ten children surveyed, aged between six and 16, tested positively for trace amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137 as part of a study conducted by a local citizens' group and a non-government organisation.

The children live in Fukushima city, located around 37 miles from the stricken power plant, ...

Fukushima spin was Orwellian

Emails detailing how the UK government played down Fukushima show just how cosy it is with the nuclear industry

... the release of 80 emails showing that in the days after the Fukushima accident not one but two government departments were working with nuclear companies to spin one of the biggest industrial catastrophes of the last 50 years, even as people were dying and a vast area was being made uninhabitable

What the emails shows is a weak government, captured by a powerful industry colluding to at least misinform and very probably lie to the public and the media.

Made in Japan: PET Bottle Plastic Radiation Detector

...And if Scintirex detectors come on the market, there should be plenty of demand. With the Fukushima nuclear crisis still nowhere close to being resolved, residents in northeastern Japan and areas of Tokyo remain on heightened alert for radiation levels. Tokyo ward authorities are conducting checks on radiation levels in schools, and state broadcaster NHK shows daily atmospheric radiation levels in the capital and northern Japan right before switching to the evening weather forecast

God’s Answer to Rick Perry’s Prayers for Rain:


Why does God hate Texas?

Commenters have some ideas.


God does answer you prayers but doesn't necessarily give you the answer you want to hear.

Yes, but when people "don't take NO for an answer", then we are again back to "God didn't answer our prayers".

I think they should start to accept NO as a fully valid/qualified answer, 'cuz thanks to Global Weirding they will probably get plenty of it... :-/
And, if I may present my best advice to them, start to prepare instead of praying.

< WARNING: rant ahead >

I've read this little story about flood and priest not a long time ago. The point was, our honorable priest was soooo self-assured that God will help him that he somehow... turned up deceased. He simply didn't accept God's help in different form from one he was waiting for (probably God should have descended from the Heavens on the Chariot of Fire or so and they would together ride into the sunset). Well.. uh... what was it I wanted to say with all this..? Uh.....

Anyways, just prepare for what's coming at ya and accept help in any form, 'cuz waiting for the specific one could be quite deadly. Just saying...

< / rant off >

PNAS published study of methane in domestic wells, sorry if already posted.


"In active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km), average and maximum methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well and were 19.2 and 64 mg CH4 L-1 (n = 26), a potential explosion hazard; in contrast, dissolved methane samples in neighboring nonextraction sites (no gas wells within 1 km) within similar geologic formations and hydrogeologic regimes averaged only 1.1 mg L-1 (P < 0.05; n = 34)."

Serious austerity measures...Coming to the U.S. one of these days?


"Only after disaster can we be resurrected. "

-Fight Club

It's inevitable, Neo.

It would be swell if we rolled up our sleeves and took the necessary measures now, rather than wait for the crisis.

Almost missed this one.

Part of Clean Elections violates free speech

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key part of Arizona's so-called Clean Elections program that triggered state payments of matching funds for publicly financed candidates whenever their privately funded opponents outspent them.

The high court ruled Monday the nearly dollar-for-dollar matching-funds mechanism violated the free speech protections of the First Amendment by deterring or diminishing the effectiveness of the speech of candidates who opt out of the public finance system.

...In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the majority was wrong in finding that the Arizona provision posed a burden on political speech. She said the matching-funds mechanism provides a viewpoint-neutral subsidy to political candidates and that it fosters more speech, not less.

Never thought I'd miss Rehnquist.

Syrian people are continuing their resistance.

I hope they prevail.

What comes next is crucial: A commitment to a structured system where people freely and fairly elect their leaders?

Recall that the Iranians rose up against the Shah (I do not blame them for that), and got another auto(theo, this time-)cratic government...decades later, when some of the people became tired of that and tried to demonstrate for change, they were squashed.


A curious feature of Drumbeat comments is that there is a general consensus that the governments of US/UK/other Western democracies are generally hopeless in their current performance, and will be even more useless after the crash.

At the same time it appears that every nation that does not have such a government must be cajoled, bullied, or forced by war into adopting this strategy.

Cognitive dissonance rules, OK!

General consensus probably is that a democracy has the least bad form of government..

I would say democracy has the most predictable failings. It is the unknown that convinces people it's best.

the governments of US/UK/other Western democracies are generally hopeless in their current performance, and will be even more useless after the crash.

The problem with your analysis is that you consider the governments of the US/UK/et la "democracies".

Are they?

The United States is a Republic, not a Democracy.

And as noted in publications like "War is a Racket" - the use of the State for the private interest of Corporations has been going on for some time.

A guy named Benito once said that his political system was the best and it was one where Government served the interests of Business. If I could only remember the name of that system...and Benito's last name....

Actually look at the function of 'the governments which are generally hopeless in their current performance' and ask - "What are they in actuality" rather than the name they apply to themselves.


Annual lobbying money spent by the Oil & Gas industry in the U.S., 1998-2010. The highest spending level was in 2009, with a total of $175,414,820, outpacing pro-environmental groups by nearly eight-fold.