Drumbeat: July 2, 2011

US envoy says Iraq critical to global energy needs

BAGHDAD - The US ambassador in Baghdad said on Saturday that the State Department has asked for a $6.2 billion budget for Iraq in 2012, underscoring that its oil and gas reserves were critical for the world’s future energy needs.

“This country is on a glide path to increase its oil exports,” James Jeffrey told reporters at the sprawling US embassy in Baghdad, the world’s largest.

...“Right now they are at about 2.2 million barrels (of oil) per day. They could go as high as four to six million within four or five years,” he said, noting that energy-related facilities remained vulnerable to insurgent attacks.

“There’s no other source of millions of new barrels in the pipeline anywhere in the world,” Jeffrey said. “The implications on the price per barrel are dramatic.”

Warning over fuel poverty in Scotland

ALMOST 170,000 more households could be forced into fuel poverty if Scottish Power's price hike is replicated by the other suppliers.

The new figure was revealed in answers to parliamentary questions from the Scottish Labour Party.

Israel: Amid uncertainties over Egyptian gas supply / Electricity rates may increase only for summer

The Electricity Authority may raise power prices for the summer alone, on the assumption that Egypt may yet resume exporting the contractually required volume of gas.

The authority is planning to raise electricity prices by 20% due in part to the lack of Egyptian gas, which has forced the Israel Electric Corporation to resort to more expensive fuels.

Russia says resumed power exports to Belarus

(Reuters) - Russia's power group InterRAO has resumed electricity supplies to Belarus after Minsk paid off nearly 1.2 billion roubles ($43 million) of overdue bills this week.

Syrian President Fires Governor in Charge of a Restive City

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Bashar al-Assad of Syria fired the governor responsible for the city of Hama on Saturday, a day after tens of thousands of protesters filled its streets in the largest demonstration since the uprising began in March.

Bahrain riot police fire tear gas at protesters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Riot police in Bahrain fired tear gas at anti-government protesters denouncing reconciliation talks between the Gulf kingdom's rulers and the Shiite-led opposition on Saturday just hours after the dialogue began.

The renewed unrest — described by witnesses — underlines the deep tensions on the island nation after more than four months of harsh security crackdowns by the Western-allied monarchy.

Doubts About President’s Health Add to Uncertainty in Yemen

SANA, Yemen — A senior Yemeni official who was briefed on the health of President Ali Abdullah Saleh said that the president’s injuries would leave him unfit to perform his duties for months, throwing a new degree of uncertainty into a political standoff that has trapped this impoverished desert nation.

Protests Spur Shuffle of Jordan Cabinet

JERUSALEM — With antigovernment demonstrations growing across Jordan in recent weeks, King Abdullah II approved a cabinet shuffle on Saturday that brought in a number of new officials, notably the interior minister, but the public’s anger over accusations of corruption seemed unlikely to subside.

Gaddafi threatens Europe ‘catastrophe’

Oil markets will be braced for reaction to a reported threat from Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to unleash a “catastrophe” in Europe in the face of continued NATO bombing, reports claim.

African Union Opposes Warrant for Qaddafi

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — The African Union has called on its member states to disregard the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, a move that could weaken the court’s ability to hold him accountable for any crimes committed against his people.

A Governor’s Power to Shape the Future of a Nuclear Japan

SAGA, Japan — In a nation plagued by weak political leadership, it has fallen to the local governor of an obscure southern prefecture to make a crucial decision that could help determine the future of nuclear power in Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Petrobras makes biodiesel splash

Brazilian oil giant Petrobras is looking to get a firmer foothold in the biodiesel market as it splashes out on a huge chunk of a compatriot company.

India's rural poor give up on power grid, go solar

Across India, thousands of homes are receiving their first light through small companies and aid programs that are bypassing the central electricity grid to deliver solar panels to the rural poor. Those customers could provide the human energy that advocates of solar power have been looking for to fuel a boom in the next decade.

With 40 percent of India's rural households lacking electricity and nearly a third of its 30 million agricultural water pumps running on subsidized diesel, "there is a huge market and a lot of potential," said Santosh Kamath, executive director of consulting firm KPMG in India. "Decentralized solar installations are going to take off in a very big way and will probably be larger than the grid-connected segment."

One Mouth Too Many

You might think the hungriest of refugees would be found in the United Nations-run camps in Kenya’s dustier north. But mirroring a more global phenomenon, they are increasingly turning up in urban areas like Nairobi, figuring both rightly and wrongly that the city holds more promise.

FOTA Fan Forum - The Technical Men

Q: With fuel being finite, are you looking at what to do afterwards, whether that be hydrogen, electric- driven engines and so on?

Allison: I think F1 will be one of the smaller problems to cope with when fuel runs out! The 2014 engine is already moving in a direction that recognises the way in which the world is going. Fuel is becoming increasingly expensive, at some point the world will reach peak oil production and then decline from there. The 2014 engine is all about recognising those realities and we will have electric energy in the car in quite large measures. We already have it to a small degree now. When we get to the point that a non-petrol cars are a part of our sport, you'll really need to look what's going on in road cars to determine that.

July 4, 2011: The Cycle of Dependency and the Atrophy of Self-Reliance

In his book Collapse of Complex Societies, anthropologist Joseph Tainter identified two causes of economic collapse: investments in social complexity yield diminishing marginal returns, and energy subsidies, i.e. cheap, abundant energy, decline. In my terminology, the dynamic he describes is one in which the cost structure of a society continues rising due to “the ratchet effect” but the gains from the added expenses are increasingly marginal.

At some point the additional costs, usually justified as the “solution” to the marginal returns problem, become counterproductive and actually drain the system of resilience as dissent and adaptability (“variation is information”) are suppressed. This feeds systemic instability: on the surface, all seems stable, but beneath the surface, the potential for a stick/slip destabilization grows unnoticed.

Russia to deploy thousands of troops to 'protect the nation's interests' in the Arctic

Russia has announced it will send two army brigades, including special forces soldiers, to the Arctic to protect its interests in the disputed, oil-rich zone.

Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have all made claims over parts of the Arctic circle which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.

Crude Oil Falls First Time in Four Days on China, European Slowdown

Oil dropped for the first time in four days as signs of slowing manufacturing growth in China and Europe increased speculation fuel demand may falter.

Futures declined 0.5 percent, trimming the biggest weekly gain in almost three months, after China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to the lowest level since February 2009 and a gauge in the 17-nation euro area slipped to an 18-month low. Oil pared a 2.1 percent intraday loss after U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly increased and equities rallied.

Gas is 24 cents/gallon cheaper than Memorial Day

NEW YORK – Call it an Independence Day discount.

Gasoline prices usually peak in the summer. This year, however, they peaked a little earlier, on May 5. The subsequent slide has made gas about 24 cents per gallon cheaper than it was on Memorial Day.

France Vote Outlaws ‘Fracking’ Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction

French senators voted to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, making France the first country to pass a law banning the technique for extracting natural gas and oil.

East African Energy Ministers May Decide on Oil Pipeline by October

East African energy ministers may decide by October on a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline from Tanzania to Kenya to help meet the region’s rising energy needs, a senior official said.

Liberate U.S. oil

Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to vow and fail to wean the United States off its dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Barack Obama will be the last. The United States today has the wherewithal to become independent in energy. Once Obama goes, it will also have the will.

A pipeline in peril

In the past five years, contracted volumes for its cross-Canada service have fallen 70 per cent. Its once-full pipes now run, on average, half empty, and as a result, it is nearly 2½ times more expensive to ship a molecule of gas from one end to the other as it was five years ago.

...The unrest comes amid a series of profound changes in how energy moves across North America. The Mainline is a 14,101-kilometre system built to connect the gas-rich west with the gas-poor east. Now, however, companies are discovering huge new quantities of shale gas in places like Pennsylvania, New York and even Quebec. And it’s no longer a given that those in the west want their gas to flow east, as companies explore numerous ways to export product to Asia.

Venezuela gov’t, army insist Chavez still in charge

CARACAS - Military and civilian allies of Venezuela’s convalescent President Hugo Chavez insisted on Friday he was still running the OPEC oil-producing nation despite his prolonged absence in Cuba for the removal of a cancerous tumor.

Transocean: No Apologies Over Gulf Oil Spill

From the day its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, Transocean has denied wrongdoing, deflected blame, and paid dividends, not cleanup costs. So far, its hardball strategy is working.

PG&E says workers falsified underground inspections

Fourteen Pacific Gas and Electric Co. workers assigned to inspect underground equipment may have falsified records, claiming to check installations they never examined.

Court Won’t Intervene in Fate of Nuclear Dump

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday declined to step into a dispute over the Obama administration’s cancellation of a planned nuclear waste dump in the Nevada desert, saying the matter must be left for now to federal regulators.

Agriculture energy program eliminated

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is eliminating its energy and climate change program due to budget cuts.

Ecuador Gets $571 Million China Loan for Hydroelectric Plant

Ecuador’s Finance Ministry said the Export-Import Bank of China will lend the country $571 million to build a hydroelectric plant, the second loan from the Asian nation announced this week.

Hydropower promises smooth sailing for green investors

Harnessing renewable energy from the sea could one day enable the world to end its reliance on fossil fuels.

Because seawater covers more than 70 per cent of the world's surface, transforming wave power into electricity offers an opportunity to make an ecologically sound investment while simultaneously getting in on the ground floor of a major new global industry.

China breezes into European wind power

China’s biggest wind turbine maker has taken a large step into the European market long dominated by local manufacturers, with a €1.5bn ($2.1bn) Irish wind farm deal.

Airlines Win Approval to Use Biofuels on Commercial Flights

Airlines won final approval from a U.S.-based technical-standards group to power their planes with a blend made from traditional kerosene and biofuels derived from inedible plants and organic waste.

Emefcy Funded to Make Bugs Produce Energy

Two serial water technology entrepreneurs from Israel, Eytan Levy and Ronen Shechter, who also founded Israel’s AqWise, have come up with another way to put bacteria in wastewater to work for us. Their electrogenic bioreactor generates electricity directly during the process of treating wastewater.

Bordeaux Crudites Bring E. Coli Sleuths Closer to Bug Source

“The one common source here that keeps coming up over and over again is Egyptian seeds,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said in an interview yesterday.

The Need For Sustainable Food Sources

To get started takes little investment. For starters, you begin start with your soil. There should be compost at your county or city landfill that you can get for free. For instance, San Diego County residents can go to the Miramar Landfill so long as it’s self-loaded. You can also search Craigslist to find free stone and other materials you may like to start off with. Bartering and trading is another avenue to think about.

Making a Bet on Concentrated Refills

Will consumers be willing to buy a tiny pouch of window cleaner and dilute it in a spray bottle at home, rather than buying another bottle and generating plastic waste?

In a Twist, Loggers Nurture Spotted Owls

As spotted owl populations decline, owl and forest advocates are trying to find creative ways to preserve and restore more habitat -- even if it means accepting logging on lands they would rather see left alone.

A Fight Over Keeping Boards in the Boardwalk

Last summer, the city began replacing the wooden boards on two short stretches of boardwalk with concrete strips as a pilot project for a more extensive overhaul of the structure, which extends for two and a half miles along the Brooklyn shoreline.

The change is part of a move away from the tropical hardwoods like ipe (pronounced EE-pay) that have long been used by the city for benches, piers and walkways. The woods are tough enough to withstand a fleet of garbage trucks, but their sources in the Amazon rain forest are being depleted.

Mara Hvistendahl’s ‘Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men’

Population-control experts realized that, in many countries, people kept on having children until they had a son; Guilmoto notes that “there is a general trend of son preference” in much of the world. Demographers and Asian policymakers realized that if couples could have a male child early, they would stop having multiple children. In the words of Washington journalist Elisabeth Bumiller, sex selection is “a powerful example of what can happen when modern technology collides with the forces of a traditional society.”

With Start of July, More Facilities Need CO2 Permits

Six months after U.S. EPA's first round of climate change regulations kicked in, the rules requiring new power plants and factories to get permits for their greenhouse gas emissions are being expanded to more facilities today.

The Planet Fixers

A corporate executive, an environmental engineer, an evangelical-
Christian scientist, and a youth organizer join NBC moderator Tom Brokaw for a spirited debate on solutions to climate change.

Can I have the Kar, ma?

After Getting Sick From Algae Bloom Exacerbated by Heat Wave and Drought, Inhofe Jokes the “Environment Strikes Back”
By Stephen Lacey on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Irony can be so ironic. A day after cancelling his keynote address at the Heartland climate denial conference because he felt “under the weather,” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe today insisted his sickness was due to a toxic algae bloom on the Grand Lake in Oklahoma where he has a home – joking to a local newspaper that “the environment strikes back” and ”Inhofe is attacked by the environment.”


GRDA official: Some toxins in Grand Lake are 18 times World Health Organization's maximum level

Funny! Heartland has been touting Inhofe as it's headliner for weeks. I doubt this had much effect on their agenda though:

The theme of the conference, “Restoring the Scientific Method,” acknowledges the fact that claims of scientific certainty and predictions of climate catastrophes are based on “post-normal science,” which substitutes claims of consensus for the scientific method. This choice has had terrible consequences for science and society. Abandoning the scientific method led to the “Climategate” scandal and the errors and abuses of peer review by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The scientists speaking at this conference, and the hundreds more who are expected to attend, are committed to restoring the scientific method. This means abandoning the failed hypothesis of man-made climate change, and using real science and sound economics to improve our understanding of the planet’s ever-changing climate.

From the NYT: "Senator Inhofe Sends His Regrets"

The theme of the skeptics’ conclave is “End of the Delusion.”

"real science and sound economics to improve our understanding of the planet’s ever-changing climate."
Exactly how does economics, either sound or unsound, improve our understanding of climate?

An entire book has been written on whether Economics is an art or a science.

"Charles P. Kindleberger's writing has ranged widely in the past, from international economics to such specialized topics as the Marshall Plan. In recent years, however, his perspective has shifted to one that tempers the rigidity of technical economics with the flexibility of the liberal arts."

I'm not sure adding the flexibility of the liberal arts to the pursuit of economics makes it more believable as science, rather than alchemy.

(Also, Mr Kindleberger's middle name is "Poor" - unrelated, I'm sure)

The only branch of economics that is a true science is behavioral economics. In order to be a science you must be able to perform controlled experiments which you can't do at the macro level of economics (indeed, it's very difficult to do at the micro level).

the majority of economics assumes that people act rationally. Science shows otherwise..

I also don't think behavioral economics is science either, more of a way to figure out how to use the fact that we post-hoc rationalize to make better ad's and propaganda.

Therefore, climate science is not a true science. This may be part of the problem and makes it more likely that , will always be come doubt. Unfortunately,. we are experimenting anyway.

Therefore, climate science is not a true science.

False statement!

You are confusing the necessity of conducting experiments in a lab with perfectly valid science based on empirical observation that supports a theory. Climate science is a true science because it is still falsifiable.

BTW, the intent of science is not to eliminate all doubt.

But, yes we are indeed changing parameters of the global climate in an uncontrolled manner. Since the climate is a chaotic dynamic system, we could push it past certain tipping points. That is more like encountering a complex machine that we don't quite understand and just pushing buttons and pulling levers to see what it does.

Probably not the best idea...

Therefore, your position is that climate science is a science even though one cannot do controlled experiments. Agree, except, if true, then the statement that Economics cannot be a science for the same reason is open to question. While I think climate science is a science and that climate scientists use the scientific method, the complexity of the planet and all the factors acting upon it makes it more subject to those who express doubt about the science. Since very few of the lay public understands climate science, it is relatively easy to pick holes in it and even bring forth observations that appear to contradict its basic conclusions. And then we have entire conferences devoted to the idea that climate scientists have been engaging in bogus scientific method all these years. This is the conservative strategy: attack your enemy for possessing characteristics which you possess.

A perfectly reasonable proof for global warming is to compare the basic properties of carbon dioxide (eg. IR spectrum, water solubility kinetics, etc.) relative to other atmospheric gases. Unfortunately, the universal chemical and physical laws don't have much political clout.

Yes, the greenhouse effect. Seemed reasonable to me when I heard about it in 1970 and seems reasonable now. And yet, we have yet to do anything meaningful about it.

The greenhouse effect due to atmospheric CO2 was first proposed by the Swedish physicist/chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896. There is an interesting discussion of his work, and scientific controversy about it during his lifetime in Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius#Greenhouse_effect ).

There is a history of the scientific controversy over the years from then until recent times by Spencer Weart at the web site of the American Institute of Physics ( http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm ). Although many feel that global warming is intuitive obvious, the fact is that the idea has been thoroughly vetted by serious scientists and in the process a great deal of new science has been discovered, both theoretical and in the art of scientific instrument making. The work of Weart really ought to silence any denier. It is available on the web and its target audience is educated, non-scientists.

Whether there is anything that humans can do to mitigate its effects is doubtful to me. And it is not at all apparent (to me) that there will be a gradual shift from how it once was to how it will be. Just as likely, is the possibility that the transition will happen suddenly and dramatically in an interval of a few years, perhaps even flipping back and forth a few times, so as to discourage persistent efforts at mitigation. We can't even manage our way out of an economic crisis. What makes anyone feel confident that we can handle a real problem?

Anyone who has friends or neighbors who express doubt should point them to the Weart web site, and follow up with questions about whether the doubter has had the time to read it.

"Whether there is anything that humans can do to mitigate its effects is doubtful to me."

This kind of statement always strikes me as oddly backwards.

What certain humans are doing at a deliriously frenetic rate is to make the problem much worse every day, by UN-sequestering safely deposited carbon and spewing it into the air. We are all complicit in this mad rush to remake the bright blue planet into Venus, but those involved in extracting the stuff and those involved in planning the economy that requires it seem to me to be most responsible/culpable/able to do something about it right away.

It is exactly what we can or cannot STOP doing that is the question. Not so much what we can 'do.'

I had hoped that oddly backwards would lead to new insight.


If it wasn't AGW it'd be something else

Australian Green Party Leader admits Global Warming is Really all about World Government

Green Party principles state that global warming, er, climate change is the greatest threat to humanity with only ten to fifteen years remaining to provide a solution. “Australia is ideally placed to lead the world in this challenge and the Greens are committed to Australia taking that lead.”[1] They also want to limit CO2 and eliminate coal use, despite the fact that CO2 is not a pollutant. Furthermore, they want to establish a “low-carbon economy” and force nations to sign binding environmental treaties restructuring the whole of society, economy and politics. They state “climate change will result in the displacement of people, creating environmental refugees and intensifying the threat of regional and global conflict.”[2].

In actuality, climate change policy will result in great displacement, mass impoverishment and genocide. Much has been said by real scientists on these issues such as the Sky Dragon Slayers, Piers Corbyn, Anthony Watts and thousands of others.

Good one, Eric! I really need a good laugh this morning.

BTW, the intent of science is not to eliminate all doubt.

This is what the deniers hold on to, claiming the climatologists aren't even sure. But it's just another example of the general public failing to understand something simple - science in fields like climate have so many variables to work with that conclusions are stated as probabilities, and even though they are usually 95-99% certain, that minor percentage remaining is what deniers cling to like a baby to a pacifier. It's another example of an innumerate populace. Sad and demented, but true.

People who believe science must provide infallible certainty are stuck in a theistic way of thinking. They think that if science is to challenge faith it must provide them with the absolute certainty they crave.

Therefore, climate science is not a true science.

Nor is astronomy, by GreenPlease's criterion.

GreenPlease is mistaken.

"In order to be a science you must be able to perform controlled experiments ..."

I'm also very skeptical of the intellectual stature of economics, but not all true sciences involve controlled experiments. In particular, I think of astronomy. There is no credible thinker who denies the legitimacy of astronomy as a science, but the very nature of the aspect of reality that is under investigation makes 'control' an unrealistic goal.

My problem with economics is its intellectual laziness. Faced with a manifestly complex reality, the standard approach is to invent parables, to over simplify, and to mumble excuses that the real explanation is much to complicated for you. the listeners, to understand. My take is that it serves the interests of bankers. Beyond that it has very little utility for the rest of mankind.

I'm also very skeptical of the intellectual stature of economics, but not all true sciences involve controlled experiments. In particular, I think of astronomy.

Astronomy is based around certain core physical principles, such as gravity, which can be proven/measured in controlled experiments. Economics lacks even this simple base.

My problem with economics is its intellectual laziness. Faced with a manifestly complex reality, the standard approach is to invent parables, to over simplify, and to mumble excuses that the real explanation is much to complicated for you, the listeners, to understand.

Wow! You sound just like Taleb! I like the way you think and I don't disagree with you at all (and I carry two degrees in Economics). However, I'd like to note that many brilliant minds have entered the field with a mind to change that ("intellectual laziness") and end up doing nothing but reinforcing the status quo. The fundamental problem is that economics lacks a unit of measurement for utility. IMO, economics will forever remain in academic purgatory: it cannot obtain the data it needs to be elevated to a true science however its utility to mankind prevents us from doing away with it altogether.

My take is that it serves the interests of bankers.

You're leaving out a lot of other interests. The thing about banks and bankers is that we don't truly understand how much we need them until they're gone.

Beyond that it has very little utility for the rest of mankind.

This point I strongly disagree with. Economics has provided us with a list of things that don't work, namely in the realm of monetary policy. If someone responds with "gold is the only necessary monetary policy" they automatically disqualify themselves from the conversation.

Economics lacks even this simple base.

Science is a process of formulating models that predict outcomes in a natural system under certain conditions, and then testing them to see if the future predictions agree. However, the goal is to find how the model is inadequately representing the natural system. When the model is refuted, it is adjusted to form a new model from what is learned about the system. Since there is an underlying system that is being approximated by the models, there is an "objective reality" (exists independently of human conceptualization) to be described by conceptual models. The models evolve representations of the relationships and features that are defined by the system. Models are useful to humans. Models are respected when they better reflect the nature of the system.

Economics is an artifact of human imagination and all human conceptualization, and the agreement among certain humans who "play the games" together -- thereby it is a social technology. There is no underlying physical reality other than what is identified by the players to be components. Nevertheless, the economic properties are determined by and limited only by the beliefs of the "players." To build economic models one must assume certain features, and the models become part of the generators of the results. Since they are not inherently tied to the physical and biological realities(no physical referent), they may fail arbitrarily as the physical and biological world view of humans change -- or as people believe the physical and biological world exists. Economics in large part reflects human belief systems. Modern economics does not exist if we collectively don't believe it. You can't say the same about thermodynamics.

Economics is an artifact of human imagination ...

This is also true of all sciences, all literature, and all religions. There is recent archaeological evidence that music might have predated speech.

The question in my mind is how to tighten up the rap against economics as a science. Saying it doesn't involve control, doesn't cut it, for me.

This is also true of all sciences, all literature, and all religions.

Yes, but science is the process by which we understand natural laws such as the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, which exist regardless of the existence of human imagination.

Literature and religion, on the other hand, are exclusively dependent, on the existence of human imagination.

The question in my mind is how to tighten up the rap against economics as a science.

The rap against economics as a science is really directed mostly at neoclassical economics which is really quite imaginative...

The physical theory that the creators of neoclassical economics used as a template was conceived in response to the inability of Newtonian physics to account for the phenomena of heat, light and electricity. In 1847 German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz formulated the conservation of energy principle and postulated the existence of a field of conserved energy that fills all space and unifies these phenomena. Later in the century James Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and other physicists devised better explanations for electromagnetism and thermodynamics, but in the meantime, the economists had borrowed and altered Helmholtz’s equations.

The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd—they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline.

I remain open to the possibility that economics can be based on rigorous scientific principles.
The closest I have seen to this is embodied in what is known as Biophysical Economics.


Biophysical economics is a system of economic analysis that is based on the biological and physical (as opposed to social) properties, structures and processes of real economic systems as its conceptual base and fundamental model. It acknowledges that the basis for nearly all wealth is nature, and views most human economic activity as a means to increase (directly or indirectly) the exploitation of nature to generate more wealth. As such, it focuses on the structure and function of real economies from an energy and material perspective, although it often considers the relation of this structure and function to human welfare and to the money (i.e. dollar) flows that tend to go in the opposite direction to energy.

Many years ago an economics student told me that economics was fundamentally flawed because it was based on using current behavior to predict future economic outcomes. As he noted, the interesting economic events are those not predicted by past behavior.

I believe economics has value and many economic concepts are generally true, e.g. products are substitutable. However, it is fundamentally unlike the physical sciences because the laws change. Imagine modeling spacecraft trajectories if the gravitational constant was prone to revision.

IMO, the very notion of prediction, in its present form, is blasphemy. The idea that "X,Y, and Z variables correlate to time period M in the past and thus we can expect outcome N" is just insane. However, I believe humans NEED to predict. It just seems to be ingrained in every one of us. Thus, I think we should make predictions that go along the lines of "X, Y, and Z could lead to the following outcomes: outcome 1 probability a, outcome 2 probability b, etc.". The Fed already does this to a degree but I think we need to be much more open minded about possible outcomes.

We try to impose far too much control on our social systems. IMO, economic principles should be used in constructing a society with a mind to making said society robust, complete, efficient, and, above all else, adaptable.

However, it is fundamentally unlike the physical sciences because the laws change. Imagine modeling spacecraft trajectories if the gravitational constant was prone to revision.

Bingo. I couldn't come up with a better example.

IMO, economic principles should be used in constructing a society with a mind to making said society robust, complete, efficient, and, above all else, adaptable

Yet, we have the opposite

Neoclassical economics is essentially the study of society's monetary interactions based on certain assumptions. On a more cynical level, it's politics wrapped in complex math. We have figured out that pretty much every assumption about markets turned out to be wrong, over the years. Including humans "rationality", motivations, etc.. It's blind to natural systems(the foundation of the economy) and can't and won't "value" externalities because they are outside of the market mechanism. Profit becomes more of an illusionary numbers game for theoretical convenience, if true costs were factored in. It's based on a 300 year old view of the world. Modern scientific understanding has moved on from that world view. The problem is, it's become a virtual doomsday machine pushing the world to the brink, with, basically, a world structural crises of epochal proportion brewing. And there is no easy dismount. Our "belief systems" are merely outgrowths of our social, cultural,political and economic systems. Our patterns of behavior are encouraged to support the economic system's needs, through our social institutions via mass communications, while it passes this process off as fulfilling human needs. It's basically game theory and common understanding is massively misplacing cause and effect, but that is just me. It's main goal is capital reproduction at all costs - because if that stops, it dies.

Herman Daly's term is "an ideology parading as a discipline" iirc.

I cited astronomy because I think that no one would claim it is not a science, not to question its status. The requirement for control is unreasonable, IMHO.

You're leaving out a lot of other interests.

Well, yes. Economics is an important part of the intellectual scene. As such, it has all sorts of unintended, and secondary consequences. But if the bankers didn't find it to be a useful justification for their activities it wouldn't exist in its current form.

I don't believe that there was ever a time in human development when humans had both some form of language and no concept of money. Thinking money is real seems to be a genetic trait of our species. Beyond that, I haven't made much progress in my attempts to revise economic theory. ;-)

I cited astronomy because I think that no one would claim it is not a science, not to question its status.


Then the grand one of them all, the 1987 Encyclopedia that shows NASA sending the Pioneers to intercept the "Dead Star" and the "10th Planet".

Oh for a scan of the pages.....

NASA is not astronomy. The URL is interesting reading. I had forgotten Planet X.

Because it doesn't exist?

And if it does exist - well, places along the coasts where 80% of world population is will be, err, adjusted downward.

An example of a science where you CAN do controlled experiments but still can't reach a consensus is human nutrition.

Atkins diet? Ornish died? Standard American diet? Paleo? Primal? Grain-based? Meat-based? It's all a matter of opinion and preference, it seems. The basic facts are well known but the conclusions derived from them are still the subject of much dispute.

It seems once the system goes beyond a certain level of complexity and feedback, it is hard to draw conclusions that are generally accepted.

In physics, my field of science, controlled experiments are common and involve subjecting carefully selected experimental subject materials to carefully selected treatments. In medicine, and nutrition, experiments involve use of human subjects and suffer from the placebo effect. To address this issue, serious medical science is done using double blind protocols in which neither the human subject nor the people actually in contact with the human subjects know whether a particular human subject is getting the treatment or the placebo.

It is my understanding that double blind work is not done in nutrition. If it is, it is a deep dark secret. If it is not, the results are inconclusive, as the placebo effect is known to exist. Research for which the actual protocol is not published, or research for which the protocol is known to be flawed ... which is better?

I stick by my original comment about astronomy. It doesn't involve controlled experiments, but is, nevertheless, real science. Nutrition can also be good science, but it is much harder to establish its goodness. Saying it can involve controlled experiments doesn't help its case at all, IMHO.

Astronomy can't do experiments, as in modifying the conditions of its subjects to see what happens. Physics does that in a way. But in most cases even in physics the conditions that can be modified are pretty crude, and usually only through the use of extensive calculations, that predict the (often slight) effects on the experimental results that such and such a theory causes. Astronomy, can only select from the vast number of observable natural objects. But that still provides a huge variation of physical conditions, from vacuums much raraer than anything that can be generated on earth, to densities many billions of times greater than anything that humans and our technology can create. So physics has become a branch of astronomy. It seems some basic physics can onlt be accomplished via astronomical observations. And astronomical observations are only useful via the application of extensive physics.

Sorry, that's not true. None of those diets have much to do with the science known as nutrition, they're just basically slick advertising campaigns selling a product to the scientifically illiterate consumer.

Animal nutrition

Nutritional science investigates the metabolic and physiological responses of the body to diet. With advances in the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics, the study of nutrition is increasingly concerned with metabolism and metabolic pathways: the sequences of biochemical steps through which substances in living things change from one form to another.

Carnivore and herbivore diets are contrasting, with basic nitrogen and carbon proportions being at varying levels in particular foods. Carnivores consume more nitrogen than carbon while herbivores consume less nitrogen than carbon, when an equal quantity is measured.

The human body contains chemical compounds, such as water, carbohydrates (sugar, starch, and fiber), amino acids (in proteins), fatty acids (in lipids), and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). These compounds in turn consist of elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and so on. All of these chemical compounds and elements occur in various forms and combinations (e.g. hormones, vitamins, phospholipids, hydroxyapatite), both in the human body and in the plant and animal organisms that humans eat.

The human body consists of elements and compounds ingested, digested, absorbed, and circulated through the bloodstream to feed the cells of the body. Except in the unborn fetus, the digestive system is the first system involved[vague]. In a typical adult, about seven liters of digestive juices enter the lumen of the digestive tract.[citation needed][clarification needed] These digestive juices break chemical bonds in ingested molecules, and modulate their conformations and energy states. Though some molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged, digestive processes release them from the matrix of foods. Unabsorbed matter, along with some waste products of metabolism, is eliminated from the body in the feces.
Source Wikipedia

Sorry, that's not true.

What that I wrote is not true?

"What that I wrote is not true?"

An example of a science where you CAN do controlled experiments but still can't reach a consensus is human nutrition.

Obviously you can and the science of human nutrition is sound science.

The various diets you mentioned are not science.


Sorry, for misreading your post. It was not a comment on my post, as I realize now.

Sorry, that's not true. None of those diets have much to do with the science known as nutrition, they're just basically slick advertising campaigns selling a product to the scientifically illiterate consumer.

Or, they are telling you the truth, as opposed to physicians whose research is paid for by Big Pharma and Big Agra who are pushing you to eat the products of their industrial masters.


The point I'm trying to get across is even though nutrition as a science is well established, nutrition as a policy prescription is not.

It's interesting to speculate why. Finance must have some part in it -- many of the better foods are expensive, and an affordable diet might be sub-optimal. There are cultural attitudes to food. ( e.g. In some parts of India maize is regarded as cattle food and people won't eat it.) Political considerations such as support for local producers and not becoming dependent on imports. Lots of things.

Developing a universally-acceptable policy to tackle global warming, which is a much newer science than nutrition, and less amenable to confirmation by experiment, and affects a greater variety of powerful interests, is not likely to be any easier.

Don't just blame the political/commercial forces for the poor state of nutritional science. One difficulty is that the subject matter (humans, and their health) is quite variable. One mans medicine may be another persons poison. So medical knowledge is usually statistical in nature, and disentangling the effects of other uncontrollables is downright impossible.

Now go to economics, and things get dicier still. For here you aren't dealing with halth outcomes for a single individual, for which you can accumulate a large number of cases. But in economics, we are dealing with the "health" of whole societies, and we don't have very many of those to play around with. And those economies are not blind to your tinkering.

It's all speculation on my part, but climate, diet, ecology, economy, they seem to be analogs in a way.

In nature, opposing forces seem to counterbalance each other until an equilibrium is reached. A new forcing throws the whole thing out of balance generating feedbacks, and a new equilibrium has to emerge from the new reality.

It seems reasonable that human body ecologies would be similar. In a given environment, certain foods are available, and over long periods in a particular region the foraging animals will have either adapted to the available forage, or failed to thrive.

My own genes nearly all originate in North-Western Europe, predominantly Scandinavia. My diet consists of mostly grain and dairy. My primary foodstuffs are bread, cheese, milk, butter, olive oil, eggs, wine, beer, coffee and occasionally some meat, although oddly, I can't stand fish or anything that has ever been in the ocean. I don't eat fresh fruits and vegetables often, only a few servings a week. I assume I must be getting some of those nutrients from the beer and wine. It's certainly not a low fat diet. I wouldn't be surprised really if 50% of my calories are from fats.

None of that is by conscious design really, it's just what I ended up with over time. It seems to work just fine. I'm nearly fifty, I'm 5'-11", and I weigh 165 to 170 lbs. I don't have a doctor. I've never had a doctor. I've never needed a doctor. I'm fit enough to do any physical activity that I want to do, including hard work. Maybe I'll keel over tomorrow with a massive coronary from clogged arteries.

That's a long preface to my point. If I introduce a significant amount of vegetables and fruits into my diet, I don't do well. My guts don't like it, I get flatulent. If the fruits and veggies have displaced my normal diet, I run out of steam. It's the same deal with rice; white or brown, it doesn't fuel me at all.

Similarly, I've a vegan friend, and she doesn't do well on ANY of the stuff that I eat (except the olive oil, and wine). Bread? Forget about it. Dairy? She's lactose intolerant. Aside from a single Native American ancestor who apparently deprived her of the pleasures of cheese, she's also primarily of North-Western European ancestry, although with heavy Nederland emphasis.

So what gives? Is it just that our respective gut flora are adapted to a different dietary ecology? Our ancestral regions of origin aren't that far apart.

Aside from caloric deprivation, does the weight loss effect of a radical dietary change derive from throwing a curveball at your resident bacterial populations while they struggle to adapt to be able to extract nutrients from the new conditions?

It is these notions of disturbed equilibrium that make me most pessimistic about our ability to adapt to expensive petroleum. Our industrial civilization evolved within specific conditions. Our economy is a metabolic process optimized towards a primary nutrient: oil. In the absence of abundance of that nutrient, we will struggle to nourish the bulk of this beast.

It isn't that I think that an advanced technological industrial culture can't be run solely on renewable power. I think it could. It just wouldn't look anything like the one we've currently got. It would be a whole different animal. It's enough of a different animal that I suspect that 'we' will witness the death of it rather than the adaptation of it. But I do think that the knowledge and resources that we've already leveraged out of the ground with our power tools, will still be lying about when we start to assemble a much leaner thing.

My long term fear is that a devastated and irradiated ecology renders even that meager hope a pipe dream; the equilibrium that will ultimately emerge will no longer be hospitable to us, or many other species.

I am not a physician, so don't treat these comments as medical advice.

I have read a recent report in Science, the publication of the AAAS, of new research that indicates that there are several different systems of gut flora that inhabit the human digestive system. How many different systems is as yet uncertain, but more than two is indicated. Each system is self maintaining and recovers from large doses of antibiotics. People with very different cultural or genetic background can have the same gut flora system. And people with similar cultural or genetic background can have different gut flora systems. The laboratory tests for identifying different gut flora systems are still very much under development. The sense I get from the reports is that a whole new field of research is opening up. It is sort of like what the early days of the discovery of vitamins were.

Perhaps it is not that your gut flora is adapted to your diet. It may be the other way. You have adapted your diet to your particular gut flora. But scientific support for this idea does not exist. And may never exist.

From personal experience and observation, I think an individual can change "systems". A change in diet brings about some adjustments (too weak to call true discomfort) which weaken over time.

Best Hopes for New Orleans food,


An example of a science where you CAN do controlled experiments but still can't reach a consensus is human nutrition.

Disagree on this. You can't do controlled experiments on human nutrition.

This is one of the central points of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. It's not that he doesn't believe in science. As a journalist for Science, he very much believes in it. But he argues that it's been done wrong in the case of human nutrition, and a big reason is because you cannot do controlled experiments on humans.

Humans are not rats. You can't keep them in cages and control what they eat. Moreover, in the rare cases where you can, it's not a realistic situation.

For example, the Times "Wellness" writer criticized Taubes' book using a study of mental patients. The study found that a calorie is a calorie; it doesn't matter whether it's fat, carbs, or protein.

But...Taubes is not disputing that, on an energy basis. Rather, he says the science points to carbs screwing up metabolism and the satiation mechanism so that carbs increase people's appetites in a way fat and protein do not. You can't test that using patients in a mental hospital. They are stuck eating what they are given. They can't demand something else, go out for a snack, or scarf down a bag of Doritos after dinner.

You can observe humans in controlled situations. For example, if you put sailors on ships and feed them only meat and ships biscuits for an extended period you can observe the effects of vitamin C deficiency.

Sure, but that's not the kind of thing the original poster was referring to. There's no controversy about basic deficiencies like that.

For example, if you put sailors on ships and feed them only meat and ships biscuits for an extended period you can observe the effects of vitamin C deficiency.

Not in the navy of any civilized country can you do such a thing. And if you did do it you could not get your paper published in any refereed journal in the civilized world.

And more importantly, you don't need to do such a thing to do good scientific research.

One of the speakers wrote: Education and Capitalism: How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America's Schools

I think that says it all.

I watched the most scientific part of the program, the debate between Roy Spencer and Scott Denning. Both appeared to agree on the basics, that is, changing the composition of the atmosphere will likely warm the Earth. The difference between them came down to the question of feedbacks, such as water vapor, which increases under warmer conditions. That said, Spencer threw up a graph from a report by Craig Loehle, which was published in E&E in 2007. That report was so bad that even I could find errors and passed them on to Gavin Schmidt at Realclimate. Gavin added more problems to the list and posted them. Loehle immediately wrote a new version, which was then quickly published in E&E. Funny thing, Spencer, the expert, is still using that older graphic. Perhaps he did so because that graph shows a strong "Medieval Warm Period", which does not appear so strongly in other records. Just another quick shot of disinformation to add to the rest of the misleading presentations.

I watched part of Bob Carter's presentation on Friday morning, 1 July, which I thought he delivered rather well. He was one of those who don't trust the computer models and called for the use of a more traditional scientific method, pointing out (rightly) that climate scientists use the word "projection" instead of "prediction", which the media tend to conflate. Trouble is, we don't have another Earth upon which to experiment, so there is no way to conduct a classical lab experiment with two systems, one of which is the control that serves as a reference against which the perturbed system can be compared. All that can be done with the real world is to compare historical data, including paleo data from ice cores and sediment cores, of which there are questions, with more recent historical events. Carter did note that the instrumental record does need to be adjusted to compensate for various problems, since these problems can introduce errors into the calculated trend. Or, we can run experiments with computers, a process which the denialist reject.

For reference, some of the conference videos can be viewed HERE, including Carter's Friday morning. Funny thing, the video of the debate between Denning and Spencer isn't there, perhaps because the audio was so bad. Or, one might also conclude that the appearance of agreement wasn't what the Conference wanted to present...

E. Swanson

The theme of the conference: “Restoring the Scientific Method”

That is intensely creepy.

But brilliant. Goebbels would give it two thumbs' up.

As would Orwell. War is Peace.

Lets not forget the Communist who inspired Goebbels. (inspired Fox News too)

Willi Münzenberg

Real Causes and Wider Macroeconomic Effects of High Gas Prices: A Focus Roundtable
Posted on July 1, 2011 by gailtheactuary

On June 20, I participated in a 45 minute Roundtable teleconference on the topic, “The Real Causes and Wider Macroeconomic Effects of High Gas Prices,” put on by an organization called Focus.
The other participants, (besides me, Gail Tverberg), were James Hamilton and David Summers

James Hamilton is a pretty well known economist who analyzes the impact of oil supply issues on the economy. He has been quoted in nine different Wall Street Journal articles since the beginning of the year, and Energy Secretary Chu spoke of his work in his presentation (slide 4) at the 2009 EIA Conference. I thought it was interesting that Hamilton's comments were pretty close to mine.

Seems like I am not the only expecting an oil price superspike to be on its way, but I disagree with its effects - it won't be easy for the US to adjust to the down slope of peak oil:

Get Ready for $150 Oil


After a decline this summer, crude's price is likely to rise sharply by next spring. It will hurt the economy, but it won't be a disaster.

Despite the recent 20% decline from April highs, new highs on crude, heating oil, diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline seem likely over the next 12 months. Following some further easing over the summer, the second leg of the long-term bull market in petroleum–the first occurred in 2007-08–probably will begin this fall.

As oil producers' spare capacity gradually declines to worrisome levels, the average monthly price could reach a record $150 per barrel by next spring, with spikes to $165 or $170. With this, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline will become the norm. That will put a huge dent in consumer wallets, while ramping up the desirability of fuel-efficient cars.


I think it is possible that we get a spike above $150 next year... but not very likely. The economy, especially in Europe, is teetering on the brink right now. A severe recession will drive oil prices down and a scarcity of oil next year will make the recession worse.

We, in the USA, are headed for a double dip recession as well. And China is beginning to slow down. Things just don't look very good anywhere right now. And that is not conducive to high oil prices.

Ron P.

IMO, I think we're going to stay in the $80-120/bbl range for the next few years. I highly doubt we'll ever see a spike above $120. The ironic thing is that this will just further accelerate the move down the other side of peak oil as less energy will be reinvested into our energy producing infrastructure.

Let me quote myself from over a year ago:

April 6, 2010 - 5:28pm

I am not sure why Colin Campbell, whom I greatly respect, suddenly has said oil will never exceed price of $100. Even though that appears to be a sentiment shared by many here, I think the idea of a price limit to oil to be totally wrong. Perhaps better said, it is not really an important issue.

More to the point, the problem in the post peak era is adjustment to lower supplies. Outside of the US and a few other countries, $100 oil is not a serious problem to growth. So I don't see the price being limited to $100 just because $100 or higher oil may put the US back in recession.

While I surely think that the whole financial system is becoming more unstable over time, and when oil gets over $100 again a new period of financial instability may ensue, it will be because of falling oil supplies and not the direct impact of high prices.

If there was a strong and quick feedback mechanism from price alone, we would have never have gotten to $146 a few years ago.

I also agree with Stuart Staniford's article in that 'deflationsts' are wrong, and the economy will not blow up and implode - at least not yet. I see the possibility of a deflationary collapse as very low, and contrary to what many still believe, in the middle of 1930s great depression prices rose very rapidly for two years or so after inflationary policies were undertaken by the US Treasury. More likely, inflation will accelerate over time, while the economic cycle will see lower highs and lower lows.

If inflation could be created in even the worst historical economic period, I don't see why the US government won't be capable of even more inflation now.


I don't see $100 or $120 or even $150 being a limit over which oil prices can not exceed. Almost by definition, if we have a shortage of one good, its price would have to rise against other goods - otherwise everyone could buy that good and there would be no shortage. We are already on the verge of a shortage, at least for higher quality grades of oil.

I don't see $100 or $120 or even $150 being a limit over which oil prices can not exceed.

As the money supply is inflated and the actual limited material of Oil is consumed, of course the "price" will rise.

There may be a time where oil VS something else will drop, but I'm not sure other than magic technofix (handwaved here for your convenience)/radical population reduction that this will happen.

I don't see $100 or $120 or even $150 being a limit over which oil prices can not exceed.

There definitely is a limit over which oil prices cannot exceed without having a serious effect on the economy. I don't know what that price is but I would guess it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 in 2008 dollars.

I may be wrong, and I have been wrong many times in the past, but I am willing to go out on a limb and say that oil will not go over $150 a barrel in 2008 dollars for more than one month. If that happens, I believe, the economy will be hit like a sledge hammer. Another deep recession would result in a deep recession that would knock prices down well below $100 a barrel, most likely to around $50 a barrel or less... in 2008 dollars of course.

I must stipulate a give year and I choose 2008 because that was the year oil prices hit $147 a barrel for a very brief time. Actually only a few hours. But I am expecting runaway inflation soon. So $147 in 2008 dollars may very well be $300 in 2015 dollars.

Ron P.

There was a lot of discussion here last summer at what price of oil would push the US into recession. My guess was $120 minimum, and using the price of Brent, when it past $120 recently the US economy started to slow down.

However the fact the US would slow down or even go in to a recession at a given price level does not prevent the price from going higher - just as it goes higher the recession would become more serious, possibly leading to financial instability at a certain point.

No doubt the problem of financial instability is a serious one, and may be a limiting factor when that arrives. Otherwise at some point in time when shortages become a serious problem, the price of oil may stay above the point where the US goes deeper into recession. It's hard to say just how high it could go. Temporarily in a crisis, the price could move quite dramatically.

Is Crude Oil About to Collapse?

The cover story in this week’s Barron’s is a canary yellow screamer: Ready for $150 Oil. (click cover at right for larger graphic). Normally, the magazine cover indicator does not work with business press; it only applies to mass market magazines (think Time or Newsweek)...

For many reasons, I have my doubts about an oil shock in the spring of 2012. I do not see the economy as remotely as strong as it was pre-crisis, so demand for Oil is not nearly as robust. Secondly, with the dollar down 40%+ since 2001, the big spurt in Oil prices may have already occurred. Third, a rise towards $150 is likely to slow the global economy down enough to correct prices back towards ordinary levels before we hit that mark. And last, I am less than impressed with the author’s forecasting record.

Regardless, it is in intriguing argument that is worth your time to check out . .

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/07/is-crude-oil-about-to-collapse/#com... Is Crude Oil About to Collapse?

My guess, which is worth what you are paying for it, is that we will continue to see a "slow" upward grind in oil prices, probably an average double digit rate of increase, with periodic oil year over year declines along the way. But if the next year over year decline in annual oil prices approximately fits the pattern, the next year over year decline would bring us down to an average price of about $120. In other words, higher annual highs and higher annual lows.

As previously noted, in the Thirties monthly US oil prices rose at about 11%/year from the summer of 1931 to the summer of 1937, and annual global demand only fell one year, in 1930, rising thereafter.

Hi Wt,

In the Thirties, did they have expansion of supply, or did they hit a ceiling for supply?

My guess, which is worth even less than what you are paying for it, is that the pre-peak oil rules no longer apply, and that one of the post-peak rules will be that financial systems in which debt is "the life-blood of the economy" (so quote the Obama, nevermore), will cease to exist, which will kill demand.

Who knows how that happens, or what happens next. We'll just have to wait and see how the Post-Peak Rules will be written.


The American currency is "easing" its way into insignificance. The 150 number is within reason, yes?

$150 is certainly within reason.

I guess it depends on your POV

"you know the nearer your destination, the more you keep slip-sliding away"

Money supply or oil supply?

We had a very different view of money supply in the 30s. We only counted base currency and we did not take into consideration money velocity. For example, let's say in year 1 the base currency supply is $100, velocity is 10, and the price of oil is $1. In year 2 base currency remains $100 but velocity increases 10%. Ceteris paribus, the price of oil will now be $1.10.

Generally, increases in velocity follow increases in specialization and trade/commerce. Exogenous events, such as the invention and deployment of the ATM, can also increase velocity. Hyperinflation can also cause/be caused by an increase in velocity. The short of all of this is that we very well could have had rising oil prices with a stagnant monetary base and a market that was well supplied.

The Feds are finding out the hard way that velocity is a real bitch of a problem and that not all money has the same velocity.

Edit: for centuries the theory of money and prices was M=PQ. Friedman gave us MV=PQ (others hinted at V to be fair) but for some reason he was rather adamant that V was fixed with the exception of exogenous shocks (ATM). Recent empirical evidence clearly demonstrates that V is not fixed.
M=base currency (plus money in checking accounts, short term time deposits, etc depending on if this is M1 or M2)
P=average price level
Q=number of goods sold

Oil supply.

Does the Velocity of Money even mean anything? It always struck me as a factor needed to balance an equation that cannot be independently defined or measured, and is thus meaningless.

Does the Velocity of Money even mean anything

Yes it does. So does the answer to "is this transaction taxed".

Local currencies have local velocity but don't function without removal of the tax burden - why exchange something you can't use to pay taxes and have to pay taxes on the transaction?

is thus meaningless.

A far bigger concern for economics. Branding it "science" with a Bachelor of Science degree doesn't make it a Science and giving an award in the memory of Alfred Nobel doesn't make Economics a Nobel Prize winner.

I plan to stake my academic career on the idea that the velocity of money means (nearly) everything (in economics).

Historic Garfield Park Conservatory Closed Indefinitely, Damaged By Hail

Another one of those freak weather occurrences hit Chicago last week. Golf-ball sized hail (which, fortunately, missed my house) took out, amongst other things like the power, a large part of the glass roof of Garfield Conservatory, a magnificent building housing many diverse plant species from around the world.

The city is struggling for funds for repair, and donors will probably be sought.

One wonders what the fate will be of many zoos, public gardens and conservatories as funds continue to dry up. Many are already partly volunteer-operated, but there is also the need for full-time experts on staff.

I just got back from Chicago a week ago. I go up there about once every 3-6 months so I get to see the city as a time lapse. Things have really started to degrade: the streets are dirty, lots of vacant retail space, some buildings are in disrepair, the parks aren't as well kept as they have been in the past, etc. etc.

It's a shame because it's such a beautiful city with great institutions such as Northwestern Medical, the CBOT/CME, Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, UIC, U Chicago, Northwestern U... I couldn't think of a better place to raise a family provided a better economic context.

The July-August, 2011, issue of Harvard Magazine has an article called “Time to Electrify” which claims that we could use electricity to run automobiles at 90% efficiency. See: http://harvardmagazine.com/2011/07/time-to-electrify?page=0,3

So I decided to send them a comment.

In the article, “Time to Electrify” in your July-August issue, Mr. McElroy suggests that we could use electricity for transportation at 90% efficiency. Well, maybe so, if you ignore all the energy losses at electric generating plants, and consider only the electricity, after it has been generated. But, like most economists, Mr. McElroy apparently has no idea where electricity comes from, other than “from the grid”.

Nationwide, we still get at least half of our electricity from burning coal, not the 40% stated by Mr. McElroy. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists, with headquarters in Cambridge, MA, only a few blocks from Harvard, reports that we still generate 54% of all our electricity from coal. See their website at: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c01.html. Furthermore, for some mid-western states, where 80% or more of all electricity comes from coal fired generating plants, an electric car is really a coal fired car, and the overall energy efficiency is nowhere near 90%.

The net efficiency of a typical coal fired generating plant is only about 35% to 38%, and another percent or two is typically lost in the transformers and transmission lines. Furthermore, if an electric car uses that coal fired electricity at 90% efficiency, then the overall energy efficiency for an electric car is around 30%, not the 90% claimed by Mr. McElroy. In other words, his figures are off by a factor of three, which would earn him a failing grade in any engineering school!

Mr. McElroy’s errors are so large, and so basic, that I can only conclude that his article is either a classic display of willful ignorance, or a deliberate attempt to deceive your readers.

If this kind of elementary failure is coming out of Harvard, there is no hope.

Tstreet, judging by your posts, I think you already know there is no hope for the global industrial world.

I like "The Planet Fixer" above - Brokaw should co-host with Jerry Springer.

As an alum of one of the Ivies with far greater *ahem* green cred than Harvard, I can assure you that many of these sorts of crimson-tinged reports that come out of said vaunted Cambridge institution are not worth the paper they are printed on.

You win, sir :)

Other than medical doctors, I cannot say that I've ever met anyone from Harvard who struck me as intelligent. MIT? Certainly. Berkley? Yup. Cal-tech and Cal-poly? Yup. U Chicago? Yup. Princeton?.... eh, they're generally sharper than Harvard grads. Vanderbilt kids are generally rich and dumb as rocks. Same goes for Yale and Dartmouth. Cornell turns out some decent minds but they are often constrained by "silos" of knowledge.

Don't put too much faith in Harvard.

I don't suppose you ever heard of E.O. Wilson or Steven Pinker.

Ron P.

I assumed he was talking about recent grads. Standards may have slipped in recent years.

They let me walk away with a PhD a couple decades ago, which doesn't speak very well of their standards, imvho '-)


I don't see this as a win-lose situation. But when Harvard Magazine publishes something this bad, someone needs to call them on it, and see what kind of explanation they offer, if any. And maybe their editors will read submissions more carefully in the future.

BTW, comments on their articles are moderated, and my comment has not shown up on their website yet. Maybe all their moderators have gone to Cape Cod for the holiday weekend!

"Vanderbilt kids are generally rich and dumb as rocks"

As a Vandy grad, I can confirm that rich was the main requirement to get in (except for those of us on scholarship).

I should qualify that my characterization of college grads and students from various universities only applies to the time frame of ten years ago to present. Obviously all of the schools I mentioned have turned out more than their fair share of brilliant minds in their time.

Mr. McElroy’s errors are so large, and so basic, that I can only conclude that his article is either a classic display of willful ignorance, or a deliberate attempt to deceive your readers.

I'm almost hoping it is not this, Michael B. McElroy, because it would certainly mean he is either delusional or indeed attempting to deceive his readers... because one could safely assume that he would be more than capable of doing the math.


Michael B. McElroy
* Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies

1. B.A., A.M., Applied Mathematics, Queens University, Belfast
2. Ph.D., Applied Mathematics, Queens University, Belfast

Yup... Looks like the same Michael B. McElroy. So there is a bit of a mystery here. Did he really write this article himself, or was it perhaps written by a lazy grad student, on the last day ofhe spring semester, and then Mr. McElroy didn't have time to review the article before going off on summer vacation, or something else of that nature?

And when I checked the staff page on the website for Harvard Magazine, I found eight or nine people with the word "editor" in their titles. So I wonder if any of them read this article before publishing it.

And now that I've had more time to think about it, I can see additional possibilities. Maybe the original article was much longer, so the editor(s) cut out big chunks, and then didn't give Mr. McElroy a chance to review the changes before they published it.

But whatever happened, the results were bad, and won't do much for the reputation of Harvard Magazine.

I think it is more than doable.DONG Energy which stands for Danish oil and gas is the most exposed utility having more renewable s in its portfolio than any other Danish Utility. They have just signed an agreement with Better Place who are at the moment installing battery swaping stations around Denmark, for the start up of the system towards the end of this year. One of there representatives gave evidence to a congressional committee that a 2 megawatt wind turbine is more than enough to supply the electricity for 3,000 cars. A Danish wind turbine cost approximately $1,000,000 per megawatt which means that it will cost per car approximately $700 in new infrastructure + I think $500 dollars for the home charging station. 3,000 cars with a 24k/hr battery connected too the grid which it will be for most of the day will also give DONG approximately 75 Megawatt/Hrs of storage for use on the grid during peak time. This seems to me to be a marriage made in heaven for renewable s. If you don't know about Better Place type in Shia Agassi Better place in Google and you can read all about it.

I have the Harvard mag in front of me. I quote from page 38--

"A better option would be to use electricity to drive our cars and light trucks. In this case more than 90% of the energy would be deployed usefully. What this means is that we could provide the driving potential of a gallon of gasoline by substituting as few as 8kw-hrs of electricity,"

This adds up to about 1/5 the gas energy of combustion goes to do 8kw-hrs of work. That is about right. So the 90% must refer to the conversion of electric power to vehicle go, not 90% of energy in coal to vehicle go, which, as you say, is impossible.

Not a huge error of logic, just ambiguous writing. Harvard should be spanked, but not executed-- at least, not just for this goof.


Not a huge error of logic, just ambiguous writing. Harvard should be spanked, but not executed-- at least, not just for this goof.

But the whole point of the article was the relative energy efficiency of electric propulsion, so I’m not willing to excuse such a fundamental error by just calling it ambiguous writing. And isn’t that what editors are for? To find ambiguous writing and get it corrected before publication?

And from the article,

"A better option would be to use electricity to drive our cars and light trucks. In this case more than 90% of the energy would be deployed usefully. What this means is that we could provide the driving potential of a gallon of gasoline by substituting as few as 8kw-hrs of electricity,"

I think an even better option is to get as many private cars and light trucks as possible off the roads, and then use more public transportation, especially in dense urban areas like Cambridge, MA.

Oddly enough, Cambridge, MA, and more specifically Harvard Square, is one of the few places in the USA where you can still ride electric trolleybusses. There are three routes starting from Harvard Square, including the busiest one from Harvard Square west to Watertown, along Mt. Auburn Street. If you go to Bing maps and then zoom in on Harvard Square using the satellite view, you can see where the electric trolleybusses go into the underground Harvard Square station a few blocks west of Harvard Square, at the intersection of Mt. Auburn Street and Brattle Street.

Not a huge error of logic, just ambiguous writing. Harvard should be spanked, but not executed-- at least, not just for this goof.

Yes, I'm with you on this. Its fine to claim 90%, as long as you preface the claim (starting with elcitricity, not fuel). [It wouldn't surprise me if the original manuscript had it right, but dunderhead editors rewrote it. I think that happens a lot]. I'm used to seeing mistakes in the opposite direction, taking the energy of the content of the fuel as a starting point, then claiming ICE is better. Its tough to do well/mine to wheels, but any other measure can disinform more than inform. And of course with ICE, you have to include how much energy is lost to internal loses (pushing an oversized engine/transmission which is seriously underloaded 90% of the time).

Also it depends upon the usage. Electric vehicles in a cold climate, where drivers/passengers insist on using the heat, isn't going to compare favorably, for in the ICE case, the heating comes from the waste heat.

Isn't this whole argument why there is a de facto standard of using "tank/plug to wheels" and "well/mine to wheel" ?

These two terms are widely used in the automotive world, but maybe the Harvard guys never bothered to check on that?
It may be harder to sue well/mine to wheel, but that's no excuse for not using it - these guys are (supposedly) academic elites - if they are not going to use an accurate metric because it is too hard, what is the point of their whole exercise?

There are two real issues here;
1. The overall energy used - tank/well to wheels
2. The amount of oil used.

# 2 is much more important, in my view. I will accept a lesser overall energy efficiency in return for a dramatic decrease/elimination of oil.
the problem is of course, that not many drivers, yet, are wiling to give up a lot of range in return for zero oil use.

I'm sure he knows that FF electrical generation has losses - he was just talking about losses at the vehicle.

In 2010 the US got 46% of power from coal, so the reality is right down the middle between the 40% and 54% figures. OTOH, the UCS is out of date: lately it's been falling, so the trend is more towards the 40%.

The point: wind power (and nuclear) has a nice synergy with EVs.


I'm sure he knows that FF electrical generation has losses - he was just talking about losses at the vehicle. .

Yes, of course, but that’s my whole point. If he knows that coal fired electric generation has huge energy losses, in the range of 68% to 70% of total energy input, why did he not mention that in his article? That huge omission is what resulted in a very deceptive article, in a magazine that presumably goes out to many of the movers and shakers of American society.

That's a very minor omission.

Overall, the article isn't deceptive. His conclusion was that cost to power an EV would be a small fraction of the cost of powering an ICE, and that's perfectly correct. Keep in mind some of the context: he's dealing with people arguing that batteries are inadequate because of their lower energy density, to which the higher efficiency of EVs is an important answer.

The larger context is that electricity is abundant and affordable, and that there is a very nice synergy between night time wind power and EV demand: efficiency of energy conversion is entirely irrelevant for wind power.

The larger context is that electricity is abundant and affordable...

At this point in time, in the US and most of the developed countries, true (ask Japan about the "abundant" part just now). Whether it will be true in 20 years, the soonest that any large part of the vehicle fleet can be converted to electric power, is more problematic. In 2010, US electricity was 45% coal, 24% natural gas, 20% nuclear, 6% conventional hydro, and 5% everything else.

The nuclear fleet is aging, and recent global events are going to make it more difficult to get license extensions. Climate change considerations are likely to eventually result in carbon taxes or equivalent, making coal use much more expensive. There are plenty of analysts, here at TOD and elsewhere, that don't think NG production grows much past its current level. To replace the coal and nuclear requires enormous investments in renewable sources, investments that strike me as improbably large.

For the most part, population and renewable resources don't overlap very well (best renewable in the West, most people in the East). That requires large grid upgrades in order to distribute the power. Just my opinion, but I don't think the necessary capacities, either in generation or transmission, get built in time. Electricity may continue to be "abundant and affordable" in some regions, but not as a US-wide phenomenon.

ask Japan about the "abundant" part just now

Yes, that why I like EREVs and PHEVs - they're true dual-fuel.

Climate change considerations are likely to eventually result in carbon taxes or equivalent, making coal use much more expensive.

I hope you're right. I seriously doubt we'll choose to dramatically effect our economy in order to limit CO2 emissions, but I hope I'm wrong.

To replace the coal and nuclear requires enormous investments in renewable sources

Nah. You only need about $2k of wind power to power an EV for life.

I don't think the necessary capacities, either in generation or transmission, get built in time.

I have a very, very hard time believing that we'll choose to dramatically effect our economy in order to avoid building transmission. Please note that the FERC already has been given full legal power to over-ride local objections to transmission projects. It hasn't really been necessary, but that legal power is ready.

On the other hand, I suppose it's possible we'll choose off-shore wind to power the East coast. It would be more expensive, but it would work.

Well, I have some data. I reread that article and it seemed to be quite clear to me that what he was saying was that if we used electricity--from any source, we could expect about 80% of that electricity would have the desired effect of driving the car down the road. Then he was quite explicit " The best option would be to drive our cars with electricity from a renewable source such as wind or solar--"

But that's not the data. I then took the mag to the resident mover and shaker, the one to whom it is sent, and she said she had already read it and it was obvious that was his point --"and besides, I hear all that from you every day".

Bonk. Back under my rock.

Nationwide, we still get at least half of our electricity from burning coal, not the 40% stated by Mr. McElroy.

Hi Breadman,

The Union of Concerned Scientists website may require updating. According to the US DOE, coal's share in 2010 was 44.9 per cent, up slightly from 44.5 per cent the year before (source: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec7_5.pdf). The actual percentage is lower when you take into consideration electricity imports from your neighbour to the north which are predominately hydro-electric. In 2010, Canada's net electricity exports to the United States were in excess of 25.6 TWh (source: http://www.neb.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rnrgynfmtn/sttstc/lctrctyxprtmprt/lctrctyxp...), and if my maths are correct, that's enough electricity to meet the needs of Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island combined.


Re: France Vote Outlaws ‘Fracking’ Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction, up top:

Fracking Hell


From up top: Liberating US Oil – “How feasible is it for the United States to achieve energy security, when oil imports have doubled since Nixon's promise to eliminate them? The United States can have energy security whenever it wants it.”

Every now and then when someone who is on your side of a debate says something like this I just want to slap them upside the head and tell them to stop trying to help, for God’s sake. Above all else it’s setting our side for a huge failure. As PO starts to inflict more serious pain it’s not difficult to expect the conservative side will gain more control as the public demands relief. And the public will expect the promised results. And there’s no possible way to deliver IMHO.

Bad enough when the other side keeps sniping at you. Even worse when you cohort sets off a trip wire and takes you out at the knees.

From the article:

But Eagle Ford is only one of 20 hot new shale oil fields, and not even the largest. The larger Bakken oil field in North Dakota, long known but considered uneconomic until a few years ago, already produces 400,000 barrels a day and is expected to reach one million barrels a day by 2020. And the Green River formation, located within Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, contains some six trillion barrels of oil, of which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 1.38 trillion barrels -or five Saudi Arabias -are potentially recoverable.

Eagle Ford = Bakken = Green River.

Actually, for anyone taking this guy's estimates at face value, he is more or less asserting that the US alone could more or less match current global total crude oil production. "To Infinity and Beyond!"

And just Chesapeake's 18,000 acre DFW Airport Lease, pursuant to a prior news release from Chesapeake, could easily have up to one TCF of recoverable gas reserves. Incidentally, did you have a chance to compile the total monthly gas production from this lease?

From October, 2007:


OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 30, 2007--Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) today announced that it has recently initiated production of approximately 30 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (mmcfe) from the first 11 wells on its 18,000-acre Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport lease. Acquired approximately one year ago for $185 million, the airport lease represents a significant value creation opportunity for Chesapeake, its minority- and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) partners and DFW International Airport. Based on the results of the company's proprietary 3-D seismic analysis acquired earlier this year and the drilling, completion and production results to date, the company plans to drill approximately 300 - 325 wells on the airport lease.

Assuming an estimated average recovery of approximately 2.5 - 3.0 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (bcfe) gross reserves per well, the company believes that up to one trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (tcfe) reserves can be produced from under the airport at an all-in finding and development cost of approximately $2.00 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (mcfe).

In any case, I think we know who the vast majority of Americans prefer to believe.

Them eggy-headed innelectualls be keepin us from our oil!

The United States today has the wherewithal to become independent in energy. Once Obama goes, it will also have the will.

Rockman, you say this guy is on our side? Just which side are you on anyway?

...one thing that just about any successor to Obama will do in spades -is aggressively deregulate oil and gas development, both on and offshore. Today's Republican dream of "Drill, baby, drill" will be tomorrow's universal standard.

Oh! Now I understand where you are coming from. My mistake. I thought when you said "our side" you was referring to most of us here at TOD. As I said, my mistake. ;-)

Ron P.

Ron - My side is the oil patch. I just pretend to tollerate you and everyone else on TOD. LOL

I've made no bones about: expanding drilling in the US, in an environmentally sound manner, is a win-win for everyone even though I doubt it would have a signicicant effect on PO. Folks get upset when they see the price of gasoline and forget that the energy biz is one of the last great hard industries we have.

I just hope that the angry soccer moms don't torture us--and other food & energy producers--before they shoot us.

I could make the same argument about the wisdom of investing in the U.S. MIC...we could keep the oil flowing from our defacto territories around the World, the MIC supports scads of high-paying jobs (some of them even involving skills beyond crafting MS PowerPoint Briefings and Word point papers) in the U.S. and we get all that multiplier effect, but I doubt it will have a significant (positive) effect on Peak Oil!

Keep those tax dollars a -comin'!

"expanding drilling in the US, in an environmentally sound manner, is a win-win for everyone"

Rock, if you include CO2 and climate in the "environmentally sound" calculation, then "expanded drilling in the US" cannot be "environmentally sound."

If it is not "environmentally sound," it remains a win-lose, situation. The dying industrial world gets to buy some time for a few more puffs on the fossil fuel pipe, the rest of the planet's life gets cooked.

aardy - So you would rather burn coal the NG? That's actually not even your choice...the coal will be burned whether you or I want it to happen. Will burning gasoline made from ME oil produce less GHG than oil produced in Texas? Again, doesn't matter what me, you or anyone else on TOD would like the future to bring. Today the world runs on hydrocarbons and will for decades to come. You can't change the rules to what any us might wish them to be. So it's a simple choice for you: burn hydrocarbons produced in the US (which generates jobs and income for many Americans) or substitute that volume with imports? State your choice please. And remember: you can't change the rules. Jobs and profits for US workers and companies or none?

Rock, my point was that drilling anywhere and burning what is produced is not "environmentally sound." That is all.

I agree with all you say here. For you last question, I chose none.

aardy - So you would rather see the KSA et al recieve all the revenue from our hydrocarbon consumption than having some of it going to US companies, their employees salaries (and subseqent income taxes that help pay for or social pograms), the private mineral owners' royalty (dito taxes) and the $10+ billion/year in govt royalties? essentially we spend almost $250 BILLION of oil/NG domesticly. I really don't think you would rather have us ship all that money out of our economy.

Granted you and I (and most of TO) might wish to see less hydrocarbons consumed. But it won't happen anytime soon IMHO. And as our oil/NG diminish I have no doubt we'll start burning more coal to make up the difference. Doesn't matter if we don't like either option: either some of the monies stay here or it's all sent over seas. I'm sure picking the obvious choice leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Dito for the rest of us. But with the attitude of the American people and our political leadership there is no third VIABLE option IMHO.

you can't change the rules. Jobs and profits for US workers

But one can't just claim things are rules.

Workers, as a rule in US corporations, do not get any of the profit.

(and with global money flows, the work in the US of A shows up as profit in the Caymen Islands.)

eric - "Workers, as a rule in US corporations, do not get any of the profit". If the salaries and benefits the workers receive don't come from the cash flow PRIOR to profit generation where exactly do you envision them originating? IOW the salaries/benefits workers receive are the profits of the corporation. They get their paycheck even if the owners lose money that quarter. I've seen many companies that made little or no profit yet paid many millions in salary/benefits. I've actually worked for more than one such company before they went under. And guess what? Eventually those companies that didn't eventually start making a profit again went under and all those workers lost their paychecks. Been there too myself...more than once. Or let's try less subtle: you ever get a paycheck from a poor man? You know anyone drawing a salary from a company not making a profit? And if they are do they expect to see that paycheck coming in much longer?

Its sort of a tautology that employees livlihoods is dependent on the economic health of the enterprises that employ them. Beyond that, the vast majority of workers don't have a direct stake in profits (i.e. their contract doesn'r specify that their pay will change in such and such a way based upon corporate goals). Only a few corporations do that for lowerlevel employees. For most only top levels of management, and sometimes a few key technical people share in the upside potential of the corporation.

Obviously, if a company can pay less than market wages, but attract good talent by including upside potential related to corporate profits, such a corporation has some competitive advantages, such as some cost flexibility during downturns, and greater motivation.

EOS - "Beyond that, the vast majority of workers don't have a direct stake in profits". I suppose it depends on how you frame the discussion. If a company doesn't make a profit the employees lose their jobs. That indicates to me the employees have a very direct stake in a company's profits. Perhaps more so them the owner at times. I've known more than one small biz owner who, at various times, had less take home pay then their average employee. And a few more who lost money and eventually shut down. Thus the only folks who made money on the deal was the employees. I know one of my more lucrative gigs, during the mid 80's, I made several hundred thousand while the owners lost $2.5 million. Their fault...wouldn't follow the advice they paid me for. But the checks still cleared. Just off the the top of my head I would guess the owners of half the companies I've worked for over the last 36 years made no profit for themselves while, at the same time, paid many millions in salaries and benefits to their employees.

I've never invested a penny with any company I've worked for. So perhaps I didn't get an extra cut of any net profits. But I've never lost a $ either and have made a fine living by just cashing my paychecks. I wonder how many folks would swap their monthly paycheck for a POTENTIAL share of their company's profit...or losses.

Starting around '90 companies started to put more employee compensation into bonuses. This allowed them to give smaller raises and provided flexibility in rewarding more productive employees and effectively cutting salaries of unproductive employees. The bonuses typically reflected at least three metrics -- employee performance, business unit performance, and company performance in a given year.

Interesting Rockman - we both wanted to comment on the same article. I particularly found fascinating and humorous the opening paragraph:

Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to vow and fail to wean the United States off its dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Barack Obama will be the last. The United States today has the wherewithal to become independent in energy. Once Obama goes, it will also have the will.

Did L. Solomon even recognise the huge time leap from Nixon to Obama, in which those presidents and the others in between vowed US oil independence from imports, before he somehow concluded all it would take is for Obama to leave for the US to drill baby drill its way to energy independence? Did it ever occur to him that if none of the others were able to achieve such a lofty post US peak oil goal, then what guarantee is there the next prez will?

He uses the term 'will' as being the key ingredient to becoming energy independent. Reminds me of the movie Dune in which one of the characters says, "It is by will alone I achieve these things." Well, this is not a fantasy sci-fi movie it's reality and it ain't gonna happen, except maybe in a post peak collapse in which we are forced by virtue of zero imports to make do with what we have domestically. But that won't be a pretty scene.

It's so easy to blather outrageous pontifications, but a very different thing to make good on them. Just like when the Iraqi oil fields became open game to the highest bidders the speculation was up to 12 mbd, and the reality is probably less than 1/2 that lofty goal, and it could even end up being 1/3. Talk is so cheap and MSM has a lot.

If Nixon was smart he would have vowed to increase foreign oil imports: suck the world dry, default on our debt (it's just paper), and then ramp up domestic production.

So many people on the far right have been blathering this stuff (that only environmentalist are preventing us from swimming in oil), that too many minds have come to believe it. Basically those with e purely political goal (win for a particular party/ideology -or elimination of all restrictions on producers) masively distort the truth, and broadcast the distortions again and again and again in the choe chamber. The result, a lie told often enough becomes the truth (is believed without question).

Noam Chomsky: Manufacturing Consent 1 of 9:

Hitler's psychological profile:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.


I didn't say that's what we did. I'm saying it's what we should have done.

To be clear, I say "drill baby drill" but I'm saying that because we need to do whatever we can to moderate production decline. In no way am I so disillusioned as to believe that its just red-tape standing between the citizens of the U.S. and a bounty of oil.

From the same article:

A Rasmussen poll this week shows why. A striking 75% of American voters want more oil and gas drilling in the United States...

Either we can get almost any number we want out of a poll simply by loading the questions, which is what I suspect; or else Congress isn't listening, which seems strange because there's probably money to be made by more drilling. What the hey?

I can think of a few more possibilities:

--There's not much more profitably oil and gas out there, so companies aren't interested in drilling for it, no matter what congress says.

--congress doesn't much care what polls say on a particular issue (most polls show most environmental positions to be hugely popular, but environmental positions mostly not been very successful in congress over the last decade or so.)

But probably your choice A was right--you can get a poll to say just about anything you want it to say with the right wording.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the poll did not ask--"Do you think more carbon should be UN-sequestered from beneath our earth and converted by our cars, trucks and industry into gasses that will destroy your children's ability to live."

dohboi - There's an even less kind analysis of such a poll IMHO: poll results are absolutely meaningless when you're asking a group that doesn't have a freaking ounce of understanding about the issue. If a poll shows 97% of the group is certain 2+2=187 it doesn't make it true. Even after they burn the 3% of us at the stake who say the answer is 12.

As our famous Houston comic Ron White says: "You can't fix stupid".

Oh, dear. If the pollster asked it as "Do you think more carbon should be UN-sequestered..." (vs. "un-sequestered"), that would bring black helicopters and whatnot into the picture and compound the confusion...

To get the full flavor of Mr. Solomon you have to read more of his work. In his comment, Israel's New Energy ( http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/06/10/israels-new-energy/ ) you will find the following "In this new order, Israel is a major player...“We believe that under Israel is more oil than under Saudi Arabia. There may be as much as half a trillion barrels.”...Vinegar, a legend in the field, had been Shell Oil’s chief scientist and, with some 240 patents to his name over his 32 years at Shell, revolutionized the shale oil industry...The new bottom line: oil at a highly profitable cost of about $35-$40 a barrel and an exceedingly low environmental footprint...

Usually when you snip out selected comments without providing context you are able to distort the writers original message, however because of Mr. Solomon's unique style, not so much.

Link up top: Mara Hvistendahl’s ‘Unnatural Selection:

Population-control experts realized that, in many countries, people kept on having children until they had a son;...

Question: If every couple in a given country stopped having children when their first son was born, would this result in more males being born than females?

I already know the answer and I am not even a math guru. But it does make a great brain teaser. Does anyone else know the answer?

Ron P.

I believe that slightly more males than females are (naturally) born every year, but if we ignore that (and ignore selective abortions) and assume a 50% probability of having a male, I assume that roughly half of couples would have one child (a male) and the other half of couples would have two children (one female and one male). So the ratio would be one new female for every two new males.

Sum of 0.5^n
uhhhh ..... damn ...somewhere around 0.9?

no..too simple...hmmm. 50/50 cuz the sum for females is the same.


Consider 8 couples. 4 couples will stop with one son, 2 couples will stop with one son & one daughter, 1 will stop with one son and two daughters, and 1 will stop with three daughters (assuming that 3 is the upper limit on family size).

This results in 4 + 2 + 1 = 7 sons and 2*one + two + three = seven daughters.

Larger upper limits on family size are left to the reader.

I agree with westTexas


Without thinking, one is likely to jump to the conclusion that there would be more boys. But after a moments thought, you realize that there will be some families with many girls and one boy, but no families with many boys and one girl. So that would seem to mean a resulting ratio of more girls.

But further cogitation or calculation shows that it is a wash. Whether one has a boy or a girl is (essentially) random chance, and so stopping with a boy will leave the ratio the same as stopping at any other random moment--if all women stopped at, say, four children, no one would expect that to throw off gender balance, but it is essentially the same thing.

Or, crunching the numbers a bit more, if 100 women have their first child, half will be sons, the other half daughters (on average). So at this point the gender is even.

The half with girls have another child, again half girls, half boys--no change in ratio--so it goes on to the last woman. Her last child could throw it off, but in an actual population of much more than a 100 the difference would be statistically insignificant anyway.

Of course, in real life in many countries more...aggressive measures are used to insure male rather than female progeny, and those measure can and do skew the resulting population toward a male majority--cf. China.

Anyway, thanks for the challenge. Now if you were told there was a million dollars between one of three doors--door A, door B,or door C--and after you chose door B (for example) but before any were opened you were told that the money is not behind door C, would you improve you chances of getting the money by switching to door A for you choice?

We have a winner. There would be just as many girls as boys. Consider if you walked into a casino and bet $100 dollars at the crap table. Supposing the odds were 50-50, (they are slightly less), then you quit after your first win. But you could have multiple losses before your first win but never multiple wins and so in the long run you would win nothing, but have slight losses because of the house odds.

Sorry Jeff, but you missed it.

Your door puzzle is easy, you would win one third of the time if you never switched but two thirds of the time if you always switched after a losing door was shown.

The point I wanted to make is that the article had it completely wrong:

Demographers and Asian policymakers realized that if couples could have a male child early, they would stop having multiple children. In the words of Washington journalist Elisabeth Bumiller, sex selection is “a powerful example of what can happen when modern technology collides with the forces of a traditional society.”

They clearly are making the suggestion here that such a practice would result in more boys being born than girls. That is just flat wrong. More boys than girls are born in many places because ultrasound shows a girl so they have an abortion. Either that or commit infanticide when the girl is born.

Ron P.

Thanks, Ron (of course we are assuming that we are both right--but how could two such geniuses be wrong?! '-)

You can send my million dollar prize to me in small unmarked bills stuffed in a shoe box. :)

By the way, I am also not an official math guy--more like linguistics and English.

This reminds me of another story--a new inscription in a scantly attested language--Celtiberian--was unearthed. It was inscribed on a gold slab, but to most linguists, the text itself was far more valuable and coveted than the gold. But only one linguist had access to the inscription, and he was keeping it to himself so he could get the glory of deciphering the thing all to himself. After much pressure, he did deign to present some general information about the inscription and his preliminary analysis of it with an accompanying slide show. At one point he briefly showed a tantalizing glimpse of the coveted inscription itself then quickly went on to the next slide--but not before a particularly ambitious rival linguists jumped up and took a picture.

Wen I heard this, I asked if he took the picture with a flash camera and was told that yes he did. I immediately called the photographer a fool, much to the bewilderment of at least some of my Harvard graduate school colleagues. Was I right in my assessment, and why?

Yes you were right because the flash would have washed out the "light generated" slide. That is quite obvious and I am shocked that your Harvard graduate school colleagues were bewildered. That is not speaking very highly of them, that they could not figure out something so simple.

On another thread earlier today some folks bad mouth your Alma Mater. I defended it with an examples of a couple of very bright Harvard Professors. But according to your story here perhaps some there is some merit in their criticism. Of course you speak of graduate students and not professors. ;-)

Ron P.

Well, people can be bright in one very narrow area but completely clueless in another. But I too was surprised that they didn't seem to realize that the picture projected on the screen was essentially a shadow. I hope they would have at least seen the absurdity of trying to get a particularly good picture of a pattern of shadows by casting a bright light on them--they just didn't extend this obvious point to the slide show example.

People seem to do that all the time. One factor may be that they've forgotten, or never knew, the complicated series of menus and clicks or gestures needed to turn the automatic flash off...

You are right of course. Prior results have no bearing on future outcomes, given a 50% probability of success. That's why Sam does the number crunching on our joint venture articles.

If you started with 100 couples, and assumed a 50% probability of having a boy, and rounded up for boys, the numbers would look like this, Boys/Girls:

Start with 100 couples:

Round one: 50 boys/50 girls (50 couples remaining)

Round Two: 25/25 (25 couples remaining)

Round Three: 13/12 (12 couples remaining)

Round Four: 6/6 (6 couples remaining)

Round Five: 3/3 (3 couples remaining)

Round Six: 2/1 (1 couple remaining)

Round Seven: 1/0 (0 couples remaining)

Total would be 100 boys and 97 girls ("rounding up" for boys).

I actually ran the numbers on this for oil wells years ago and completely forgot about it. If we assume a 50% probability of success on a given well, how many wells do you have to drill to have a 90% probability of having at least one successful well? The number, as suggested by the above, is surprisingly high. You have to drill five wells (actually 4.5 wells to be precise, if memory serves) to have a 90% probability of having at least one successful well. So, if I am remembering correctly, one would have to have five children in order to have a 90% probability of having at least one male.

Thanks for the specific numbers. Am I right that the percentage would go down the higher the number of couples involved? It seems to me that the skewing comes mostly when you get down to the last two women and whenever the input number of couples is odd, but that is always only a shift of one extra boy for each case. If you happened to start out with a very large number that was a also a power of two, you would only get that one extra boy, no?

I would think it would only take four wells. Using your number for boys (or girls--it doesn't matter much in this case) 50+25+13+6 already gets you to 93. But I may be missing something obvious here.

I came back from my morning activities and gonked up a simple Excel VBA code...yep, sure 'nuff, my first guess was out to lunch...assuming a 50% probability of m/f birth, the answer is a 50-50 split over time.

Is the math for you oil well question such as this?:

.5 probability of success each try

#Wells_______Cumulative probability of success


They clearly are making the suggestion here that such a practice would result in more boys being born than girls.

I don't think that's the suggestion at all. Rather, they are saying governments encouraged (or at least allowed) practices like sex-selective abortions because they thought it would result in fewer children overall (without regard to the sex ratio).

Correct Leanan,

Darwinian appears to have misinterpreted the meaning of that paragraph. The text, as presented in isolation, does not suggest anything about sex ratios but rather a decrease in the total number of births. (Ughh as Paul S posted below)

Even without technology, the decision of a fraction of couples to stop having children (e.g. based on the birth of a male child) should decrease the overall birth rate.

The simplest answer to Ron's original question is that the male/female ratio of subsequent births is not impacted by previous births (probably), thus the sex ratio of the next set of children will be the natural proportion.

This is analogous to flipping a coin, where prior events (such as a string of 6 heads) do not increase the chance of tails on the next flip. As other note, the events are independent.

Use of the sonogram is equivalvent to use of a weighted coin, where the probability of heads (boys) is now higher (e.g. 60%). This will change the birth proportion and further decrease birthrate.

On top of these factors is the knock-on effect that fewer females have on the subsequent generation of births.

Obviously, we have too much time on our hands.

This is a bit confusing: the answer to the puzzle question (50-50) is consistent with, not in contradiction to, what your blockquote says.

Step 1: people kept having children until they had a boy. 50-50 approximately, as per the puzzle answer, once infanticide was largely stopped.

Step 2: policymakers realized they had a population explosion on their hands.

Step 3: it became possible to "have a male child early", so people didn't 'need' to have as many children. That was accomplished not by restoring infanticide, but mainly via, as you say, "more boys than girls are born in many places because ultrasound shows a girl so they have an abortion" (though the effect would be identical if, hypothetically, sperm selection could substitute for abortion.)

As a result:

Step 3 attained the policymakers' goal, at least in China, it stopped the population explosion (aside from short-term demographic momentum.)

Step 3 had an unintended side-effect. Since mainly female fetuses were aborted, the sex ratio went haywire to the tune of as much as 3:2.

--which gets to the main point of the article, that sex selection provides an example of what happens when traditional preferences (for having at least one male child) can be met in a new way that has a new side effect (altering the birth ratio, which simply waiting for the boy doesn't do, as per the puzzle.) No contradiction, no argument, nothing flat wrong.

The unintended side effect of a skewed sex ratio actually could lead ultimately to further declines in total population, since there are relatively fewer females to have kids. Not that I think that this is a good way to get the job done.


It looks like the biggest difference is in the 0-20 age range, eyeballing it, it looks like about twenty million fewer women than men. If they keep something like the one child policy (which by now has become something of the cultural norm, so may need not have to be enforced as much as in the past), that means twenty million fewer kids born to that generation.

This means the population growth rate, already low (.5) will likely continue to fall, particularly as that big bulge in 40-50 year olds start reaching ages when the grim reaper takes his toll in the natural course of things.


I guess the argument about sex ratio is settled: 50/50 prevails. But there are other consequences.

1. No boy grows up with a older brother.
2. No girl grows up as an only child.
3. No boy ever experiences caring for a younger sibling, boy or girl.
Probably many other details of family composition, as well.

Somehow I feel that this would have consequences. But my physics advanced degree doesn't give me a basis to speculating on what those consequences might be. Ideas?

Those are some excellent points, especially "no boy ever having to care for a younger sibling".

That means they will always be the recipient of 'care" and never (as a child, anyway) have to "give" care. sounds like a recipe for an increasingly heartless society, where men feel entitled and don't have a clue about what is involved with looking after others.

There may still be a 50/50 split of male to female, but I doubt there would be much equality.

Taken to its extremes, this would not be a pleasant society at all...

Only children don't know how to nurture??

I was going to make that point, too. I have an only child and she is great with kids. There are all sorts of opportunities for single children to interact with other kids of different ages. I don't know if I can rule being a single child out as some kind of influence on whether a kid is likely to be able to care for others, but in my experience, other factors are far more powerful.

Bill McKibben has quite a bit of research on this and related questions in his "Maybe One."

I think there would be an equal number of boys and girls; and that this is close enough to true even though a woman's hoo-ha can only produce a finite number of babies.

households girls boys
assumed 105:100 m/f birth ratio
205 100 105
100 49 51
49 24 25
24 12 12
12 6 6
6 3 3
3 1 1
1 1 1
1 0 0
195 205

I have recently been thinking of morality and natural selection. spurred on by this video.
While i don't completely agree with his premise, he is looking at it from a philosophical point of view and i am looking at it from a biological one. Moral's are ultimately shaped for social creatures what could tip the scale just enough away from the pure chance percentage in favor for survival.

This led me to some similar thinking as this article only in this way. If we assume the current statistical trend of higher educated women equals less births per woman is 'not' a artifact of modern society. That is the time needed to for a higher educated woman to stay in said society doesn't prevent her from having kids despite her choice(the statistical theory assumes that it's the woman's 'choice' not to have kids.) Remembering also it is the female of the species that control's population levels as well as how many off-spring per pregnancy the female can have, and humans have on average one to two naturally with triplets and above rare to non-existent without fertility treatments. Then, keeping in mind this is moral's from a natural selection point of view. it was understandable then and immoral now to not educate women in the past as that would lower the birth rate compared to a high rate of death at that time. In the same lens it is now moral to educate women as it is needed(but far too late) to try to curb population growth compared to low death rate even third world countries compared to the past.

This made patriarchal society inevitable as they would literally out breed matriarchal ones due to the desire to have male offspring and the low amount of offspring per birth. This effect is what that article is mentioning, due to the desire to have a son. couples or in the historical(Henry the 8th for a classic example) case just the males, continue to impregnate women till one is born by shear chance.

Personally, while i find it neat they think they can stop this by using gene manipulation. doing that, or doing the really old historical method(which i do not condone) of killing the unwanted child. Is rather too little too late to help. whats needed is not a drop in birth rates, but a huge spike in deaths. That will have a more direct and fast acting impact on all the related problems then waiting for people to die of old age with a lower then replacement birth rate.

"Is rather too little too late to help."

I agree. Also, it seems "morals/ethics" shift with the sands in the minds of their makers.

I really wish the physicists would discover a moral lepton, or dark moral energy or something. If only we could claim a "moral high ground" based on something other than the eye of the beholders ...

(this could devolve into a monty python skit... "cheesemakers - what did THEY do that they get blessed !!! ;)

Interesting speculations. Two point though: When you say that the female of the species controls population levels, that may be true in a basic biological sense, but of course if females do not control their own reproductive lives (which they don't fully in many/most societies), that is less true.

You also seem to be assuming that maximizing population growth is always a winning strategy until the planet has multi-billions of humans. But most societies lived withing relatively narrow geographical areas with little opportunity for trade to supply any substantial amount of their substenance. So it was in the interests of most societies to keep their populations within the carrying capacities of their immediate environments. This was done by various means in various places: herbal abortifaciants; long breastfeeding period (breastfeeding suppresses a woman's ability to conceive, iirc); rhythm method and other prophylactic practices; infanticide (especially of females); delaying having a first child...

And remember that formal education was not really a concept or practice in most traditional societies. Both girls and boys received 'educations,' but this was mostly more like on the job training, and each sex was mostly just educated in areas that fit what their roles would be as adults.

Recall also that there were periods and places where formal education of females was more widely practiced (for those in the right class)--Tang Dynasty China, Elizabethan England, parts of early medieval Europe...

Even more recently, women's presence in higher education was quite high in the teens and twenties of the last century, iirc. They fell down by the forties and fifties and have been rising since. But the point is that population was rising exponentially throughout the last century, and the mid-century drop in women's presence in academia did not correspond to any large drop in world population--quite the contrary (and despite WWII). Obviously lots of factors are at play here. Let's hope some part of it is some kind of automatic societal response system that will accelerate rapidly in response to our rapid acceleration of population. But as you say, even such an outcome looks to be rather too little too late.

you also seem to be assuming that maximizing population growth is always a winning strategy until the planet has multi-billions of humans. But most societies lived withing relatively narrow geographical areas with little opportunity for trade to supply any substantial amount of their substenance.

It's not always as in the current situation, but it's been right so many times above sheer chance that just about every living organism on this planet has it hard coded in them to reproduce. as much as they can for how ever long they can. Your also pointing too rosy a picture of 'sustainable'. it's very rarely if ever voluntary and while some moral codes in certain societies do help. most of the time it's just because the death rate is high enough to counter the sheer amount of kids say a middle age's Europe or feudal japan couple would have. You do know that they used to have upwards of 10 or more kids only to have all but one maybe two survive to adulthood? sickness, war, a bad crop, etc. at least our ancient ancestors were a bit more merciful, a lot of hunter gatherer groups would kill a recently born kid if they were born at the wrong time of year instead of letting the child starve from being undernourished.

Recall also that there were periods and places where formal education of females was more widely practiced (for those in the right class)--Tang Dynasty China, Elizabethan England, parts of early medieval Europe...

Pointing out higher class women of the past and using that to try to disprove it is rather short sighted as their number's compared to the common folk make them a sheer tiny fraction of the gene pool.

Even more recently, women's presence in higher education was quite high in the teens and twenties of the last century, iirc. They fell down by the forties and fifties and have been rising since. But the point is that population was rising exponentially throughout the last century, and the mid-century drop in women's presence in academia did not correspond to any large drop in world population--quite the contrary (and despite WWII). Obviously lots of factors are at play here. Let's hope some part of it is some kind of automatic societal response system that will accelerate rapidly in response to our rapid acceleration of population.

Going to collage and getting a actual education are two different things. you assume that their education was the same as men's. it wasn't even the highest collages only taught them home economics and maybe a bit of typing along with the very basic of the basics but not the same stuff as men. they were still very much 'kept in the house making babies' afterwards so don't try to paint too rosy a picture.

Personally i think the statistical trend 'is' due to having to spend more time just to keep up in society rather then the effect of education. reproduction is just that hard wired into us.

Obviously without intervention you don't change the proportion. But if you allow some sort of gender ration bending technolgy (ultra-sound plus abortion, or a male child pill or female-infanticide), to change the ratio, then the average number of children per would decline. Of course the social effects of zillions of frustrated men might create a dynamic where the population is decreased even further....

The technology to bias sex ratios without sex-selective abortion has existed for a while. Sperm-sorting with flow cytometry is a well-established and successful technique used mainly by the dairy industry to drastically reduce the number of male calves born. Its application to humans is tightly regulated, but were it to become sufficiently widespread and 'affordable' to middle-class and well-off people, it'd have an even bigger impact than sex-selective abortion -- without killing any girls. The minimum efficiency of sorting for the method is reported to be 70%
Out of 100 couples, 70 will leave with a boy in the first round.
Out of 30 couples, 21 will leave with a boy in the second round.
Out of 9 couples, 7 will be delighted with their new boy.
And then the remaining two are both likely to have a boy.
Total number of children born: 141 for an average of 1.41 children per couple.
Boy/girl ratio: 100/41

At its best it is 90% efficient and only one couple would try for a third child, resulting in 1.11 children being born to a couple and only 11 girls for 100 boys.

I've been thinking about Hvistendahl's concern for a male-biased society being a less stable and violent one. Personally, I don't think that her reasoning as to why that might be so is accurate in that I don't think that women are a moderator of men's actions. The key is that the very societies that so prize boys over girls are the same ones where status and acceptance are tied in closely with marital status and the frustration over not being able to gain standing in society *is* a recognised driver of delinquency and criminality. Aside: it's even more grimly ironic that when people say they want a son to take care of them in their dotage, they actually mean their daughter-in-law, as it's a rare man who provides the caring.

Any women out there want a Chinese husband? Of course the skew is no worse than at UNC Chapel Hill where I went to school and it never helped me much. Never mind.

Wildfire near Los Alamos nuclear lab is largest in New Mexico state history

The wildfire raging for a sixth day near the government's Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory now ranks as New Mexico's biggest on record, having charred more than 400 square kilometres of forest, officials said Friday.

Photo gallery: TEPCO tries to make life bearable for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

We’ve had a number of disturbing reports about the treatment of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Housed in conditions that can be described charitably as “Spartan”, thousands of workers have slept on mats in large common rooms. Workers who brave the high radiation fields inside the reactor buildings are in constant danger of being overwhelmed by high temperature and humidity. TEPCO seems to have received the message and has posted photos of its efforts to improve the lot of workers. ...

Photo gallery: TEPCO

Now lets see if they are photoshopped like BP did with its failure in the gulf last year.

Regarding the exact price of oil, and trying to predict when it will hit what price, I see it as a fool's game.

I personally saw oil going to $130 in July, and that now looks very unlikely(partly because of the IEA's raid on supposed 'strategic' reserves). It just goes to show that we can't know what will happen in the future - even if it's one year ahead.

But we can draw general conclusions based on the broad framework of trends, especially converging trends. Such as the continued economic(and in my opinion, permanent) decline for America from first among equals to merely a competent second-rate power over the next decade, a bit like Brazil today, as well as increasing outsourcing(even for lawyers now), the death of the lifetime job security(for people everywhere, India, China or America) as well as resource scarcity, of course.

The U.S. was clearly on the path to a double dip this spring, but then demand destruction happened as the rise in oil prices has been much gentler than in 2008, and America has shed a lot of it's oil use already even since 2008(and even more so since it's 2005 peak), so the economy is a bit more resilient, plus the country was already in dire straits.

Exactly how the financial situation will fiddle out bores me. I just know something's got to give as China grows more and more(even though the communist leadership in China has now set 7 % growth as their main goal the next five years, a significant leap into an embrace of a more normal economy, and lesser oil demand as a result) and the plateau cannot be sustained forever.

The question is now entirely based on shale oil and how Iraq can act as a cushion to that place. If shale oil is as underestimated by many on this board, which I sincerely think, then that becomes the key question, together with how long we can keep slowly increasing oil production from already existing shale plans(JP Morgan says we should see 2-3 mb/d up to 2015) and adding Iraq, perhaps 2-3 mb/d more if things speed up well.

I'm not at all convinced that we'll see the end of the world, but then again who foresaw Libya a year ago? It will drive you insane if you become too attached to 'logical' conclusions on past events, who no longer may hold true.

"It just goes to show that we can't know what will happen in the future - even if it's one year ahead."

Or, as Yogi Berra put it: "Prediction is very hard, especially about the future."

Further, we don't even agree about past predictions of the present. Further, a fundamental problem right now is that there is so much uncertainty and debate about the true potential of oils and gases from shales. If we could agree that burning fossil fuels, especially oil, was undesirable then maybe we wouldn't spend so much time trying to predict the future availability and price of oil. To err on the side of conservation always seems like the best course to me regardless of what all the noise out there is.

South Side Animal Shelter's Air Conditioners Stolen, Leaving Pets In Danger.

Various air conditioners were stolen or vandalised, and a lot of copper tubing removed. Damages total an estimated $20,000. Sad, for an organization that relies on donations.

Pipeline burst UNDER the Yellowstone River today:

LAUREL, Mont. — An ExxonMobil pipeline that runs under the Yellowstone River near Billings in south-central Montana ruptured and dumped an unknown amount of oil into the waterway, prompting temporary evacuations along the river Saturday.

Company spokeswoman Pam Malek said the pipe leaked for about a half-hour, though it's not clear how much oil spilled into the water.

Why a pipeline runs under the river? Eyesore?


There's more photos here.

Since the river is at flood stage, XOM cannot get the spill cleaned up. Similar to Inhofe not being about to get to the denier conference. Funny stuff.

Why a pipeline runs under the river? Eyesore?

Less parties to negotiate with. If you place it across others land, you need to pay 'em off OR go to court to get the government to take the land rights.

With a water body - just pay off a Congressman or 2.

Like the proverbial chicken, to get the oil to the other side?

Anyone know where I can get info on energy use/oil use for nations? I am looking for information about the Philippines.

Have you tried the CIA World Factbook? It has info on electricity, natural gas, and oil consumption.

Also Try The Energy Export Data Browser:


I am away from my home computer, so don't have all my links.

But there is some great stuff out there. I'll try to add more later.

I would start with this:

IEA (Philippines)


The World Bank has a database called development data or data browser or something that has tons of info by country. It should be easy to find. The Asian Development Bank may have good stuff too.

BP's Statistical Review of World Energy is a good source.

Jon Callahans's Energy Export Data Browser graphs this same data. It doesn't yet have the latest year (it will in a month or two), but it does have nice graphs of the earlier years.

Thanks all - I have a load of work to do on a pet project. It's tentatively being called "America - Welcome to the Philippines" and it will focus on lifestyles that currently burn way less energy then us.

Based on a family visit I had one year ago.

Archaeologists Puzzle Over Opulent Prehistoric Burial Find

In the Neolithic age, farming communities were still egalitarian because everyone was equally poor. But then came the Bronze Age, which saw the emergence of a privileged upper-class caste of chieftains. They lived relatively luxurious lives, were buried in even greater opulence, and adorned their wives with gold jewelry and amber necklaces.
It is known that merchants brought salt and amber through the region at the time. The trade in bronze, a new luxury material, also flourished. The technology of mixing copper with tin or arsenic to make bronze, which had been developed in the Orient, became widespread in Europe after about 2,200 B.C. For the first time, a hard material was available that could be poured into molds.

The blacksmiths stoked their furnaces with blowing irons and poured the molten metal into their crucibles. Meanwhile, miners searched for ore veins. The raw material was scarce. Caravans brought bars of unprocessed copper from as far away as the Carpathian Mountains and the Alps. Most of the tin came from Cornwall.

Blacksmiths gradually forged harder and harder weapons, better tools and more beautiful jewelry -- but only for those who could afford it. Thus, the world became divided into rich and poor.

almost a 1/2 high

'We found a paved entrance plateau and discovered underground tunnels'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_pyramids -- pyramids, but not man-made.

US envoy says Iraq critical to global energy needs

“There’s no other source of millions of new barrels in the pipeline anywhere in the world,”

Awwww, dang! There was lickle ol' me finkin that war was all about D-Mock-Racy an' all.

Guess I really don't know diddly 'bout this here Real World... dawww hicup..

Operation Iraqi Liberty...

Of course it was all about the impending threat of Iraqi-caused mudroom clouds in U.S. cities, and to bring peace, democracy, and freedom to the Iraqi people...

Nothing to do with oil...except for statement by government U.S. officials back then stating that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for our splendid little war, with some love left over to spread around!

Nor does Feith touch on the assertion of his fellow war architect, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, that Iraq would be able to pay for its reconstruction with oil revenue.


If you are interested, give this a read:


Pretty interesting how the fundamental plot from the movie 'Three Days of the Condor' came true.

Three Days of the Condor: 1975
Presidential Directive for a U.S. Rapid Deployment Force: 1977
President Carter announces RDF to the U.S. People: 1979
President Carter announces the 'Carter Doctrine": 1980
Iran-Iraq War: September 1980-August 1988
U.S. tilts towards Iraq: 1980-1984
Special U.S> Envoy Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Saddam Hussein: 1983
Picture and article of DOn SHaking his bestes buddy's hand: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
Iran-Contra Affair (U.S. leans towards Iran): 1985-1986
First Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991
Operation Southern Watch (Iraq No-Fly Zone): Following First Gulf War until the 2003 U.S> invasion of Iraq
Operation Iraqi Liberty Freedom: 2003-present

There is much more, and all of this has references easily findable in minutes on the internets...I was going to provide multiple refs for each event, but the reader is welcome to do his/her own work!

We the American people are a bunch of hapless dupes...think about all this when you see one of those little yello magnetic ribbons (especially one with a cross and/or G.B.A. on it) on a car...nice political jujutsu how the wart hawks made any criticism of war to be tantamount to criticizing/not supporting the troops.

I was a troop, and those hucksters can go rot.

I hear you H. Interesting you mention that movie...used to be one of my favorites. Not so intertaining these days. Especially this holiday weekend. Perhaps like you I was raised on a steady diet of John Wayne movies and the 4th of July was always a favorite. Especially with the added opportunity to blow stuff up back when fireworks were more politically correct. Now, for me, it's become a bitter combination of anger and depression. It's one thing to waste energy...another to waste lives. Sgt. Striker would not be pleased. Iraq ain't Mount Suribachi.

(Sgt?) Rock,

Yep, Fourth of July, war flicks, comics, books, all that.

As a many-time visitor to D.C, have visited Arlington, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Koran War Memorial numerous times. These places are emotionally moving.

Two of my fav war flicks: Midway and a Bridge Too Far (My top pick).

Nice histories of tactics, the roles of intelligence (and how commander's choose to use it), displays of valor and sacrifice, displays of hubris and the consequences, and examples of how much of a role luck can play (and how folks can, to a certain extent, 'make their own luck'.

For war 'black comedies' movies, I nominate: Catch-22 (please read the book before seeing the movie), MASH , and Kelley's Heroes.

No fireworks here...NM is a tinderbox and a lot of it is on fire already...

Fav Western: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Epic cinematography and score...first ~ 11 minutes has no dialog. Several other dialog-free stretches filled with great score and cinematography...

No black or white hats...a whole bunch of dirty grey hats...

Inspirational scenes regarding the futility of war...

From some text describing the novel in the Wikipedia entry for Catch-22:

This predicament indicates a tension between traditional motives for violence and the modern economic machine, which seems to generate violence simply as another means to profit, quite independent of geographical or ideological constraints.

Make War...No More!

H - Yep...Kelly's Heroes...a fun view of how war never was...a nice escape. And recently the way you might want our "wars" to play out: Tears of the Sun. Very bitter sweet in that it's exactly how life isn't today. But when was the last time you felt good at the end of a modern war flic...not counting Heartbreak Ridge?

Speaking of fires: had to shut down ops on one of my rigs in S. La. yesterday. A number of lightning striles set the marsh grass on fire. So much smoke had to get the derrick hand down and hose the diesel tanks. Fire in the swamp lands...Mother was feeling a tad cranky yesterday.

I forgot the grand-daddy of black comedies:

Dr. Strangelove, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb.

If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

Try this drinking game: Have a shot every time the phrase 'Peace is our Profession' shows up in-frame.

Hope you all get some rain, hopefully not in the form of Hurricanes.

How about Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five?

E. Swanson

Sometimes when I read/post to this list I feel as if I have become unstuck in time...

I remember years ago arguments on this list with folks who insisted that Operation Iraqi Liberation had absolutely nothing to do with oil..

Koran War Memorial

Now there's a revealing Fruedian slip. Now I propose that we use that title for some future memorial to our Afghanistan struggle against the Taliban.

As a many-time visitor to D.C, have visited Arlington, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Koran War Memorial numerous times. These places are emotionally moving.

Heisenberg, sometimes the typo yields a phrase richer in meaning than we could have intentionally created. It seems that we (USA) are now in the process of a series of wars which may someday bring about the construction of a 'Koran War Memorial.' Sad.

PS. I just read the Vietnam section of Barbara Tuchman's 'March of Folly' Highly recommended.

Turner: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?
Higgins: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Turner: Ask them.
Higgins: Not now — then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!

Drill, baby, drill. Kill,baby,kill. Either way, the peeps are going to get their energy.


The frustrating thing is you could put hundreds of people in a theater and have them watch this today and a lot of them would be too dense or brainwashed to get it.

But we are there to combat WMD...to spread freedom and democracy, blah blah blah.

Faux News, Rus, et al has utterly hypmotized at least 25% of the U.S. population, with at least another 25% of the population partially (but sufficiently) brain-washed.

Of course the logical fallacy in Turner's argument is that he ignored the possibility of educating the population and taking steps to conserves resources and develop alt energy back when we had time.

No profit for the Military Industrial Complex in that course of action, is there?

Follow the money.

Higgins: Hey Turner. How do you know they'll print it.

We the American people are a bunch of hapless dupes...think about all this when you see one of those little yello magnetic ribbons (especially one with a cross and/or G.B.A. on it) on a car...nice political jujutsu how the wart hawks made any criticism of war to be tantamount to criticizing/not supporting the troops.

Hear! Hear!
"Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV"

Asia rolling headlong to disaster
Consumptionomics: Asia's Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet
by Chandran Nair

In his emphasis on society's collective needs over the absolute freedom of the individual, Nair's solution to these problems will deeply trouble many in the West. He asserts three primary realizations that need to be incorporated into traditional capitalism: first, "resources are constrained; economic activity must be subservient to maintaining the vitality of resources", second "resource use must be equitable for current and future generations; collective welfare must take priority over individual rights" and third, "resources must be repriced; productivity efforts should be focused on resources, not people."

Nair's solution to the third point is worth expanding on. As he writes, "... resources must be repriced. Wherever possible, market capitalism has deliberately downplayed or ignored negative external factors that would increase costs. This must be reversed."

When seen through the lens of capitalism's formation in population scarce countries who enjoyed a wealth of seemingly inexhaustible natural resources, this luxury was understandable and possibly even a necessary factor in much of the Industrial Age. But it simply will not work for Asia, a fact Nair expands on when he writes further, "Emissions must have costs attached to them. Other resources - especially land and water - must have prices that compel people to use them in a sustainable fashion. Where necessary, outright bans must be placed on the use of particular resources."

Thanks for posting this, Merrill, I hope but do not expect it will get the attention it deserves. My own remake of economics starts with "the primary goal of economic activity is to assure the world becomes a better, not worse, place".

Holy Hotness, Batman!

Sizzling at 118: Phoenix sets a record as heat scorches US


PHOENIX — About 4,000 homes in the metropolitan Phoenix area were without power — and air-conditioning — on a record-shattering day of heat in one of the nation's hottest cities.

Phoenix hit a high temperature of 118 degrees on Saturday, topping a 10-year-old record of 116 degrees for the date.

The National Weather Service said clouds from monsoon activity likely kept the area from reaching 120 degrees, but forecasters said it's still the city's hottest day so far this year.

I have a friend in Tuscon who gets most of his home's juice from his rooftop PV system.

I would think the prospect of being the next set of homes without power (and without air conditioning) may motivate some folks to look into their own PV system!

Even with the high, scattered clouds typical of the 'monsoon', PV would still generate some power.

Sizzling at 118: Phoenix sets a record as heat scorches US

Perfect for passive solar air conditioning!


Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with this company in any way.

I wonder if it is 118 F and there is at least moderate sunlight (It is the Monsoon season in the SW) if the unit would operate at 32 SEER?

Homestead, FL.

Perhaps SednaAire should open offices in Phoenix, Las Vega, and Albuquerque!

These evaps are a joke...in ABQ it is hottest in Jul and August, but that is when our humidity is the highest (even though that doesn't translate into much rain at all) and therefore our swamp coolers are mainly successful at turning electricity into noise, but not much cool air!

And now for something completely different: IIC, you have mentioned Turkey Point before.

BTW, I once did the 'slide for life' (think zipline) into the/a cooling pond at Turkey Point. That was some really salty water!

Also para sailed way above Biscayne Bay once...was cut free way high and floated into the bay, manually inflated my one-person survival raft, and played with all the flares/mirror,etcc for a while.

All that was fun, as was my side trip with my bud to snorkle off of Key Largo.

A million years ago...

How much AC/PV panels would it require to keep an average Phoenix home at 78F when the outside temp is 118F?

Depends on what constitutes an average home in Phoenix.

Amount of window area, orientation of windows, amount of soffit overhang /window inset, types of windows (how well do they reject solar radiation),level of insulation, square footage, how high are the ceilings, amount of heat generated in the home by people and appliances, how efficient is the A/C...

Using PV to run standard AC compressors would be a losing proposition! That's why passive solar is the way to go. The hotter it gets the more efficient the process. Though building a thermally efficient building would be a good place to start!

Perhaps, but the solar electricity will almost always reduce the peak energy load required from other sources. Peak electricity is generally the most expensive.

Further, why one or the other. A passive home supplemented with solar panels could be quite economic, particularly when utilities begin energy pricing based on peak usage cost. Although I do not know much about them, there are also these swamp coolers.

Unsurprisingly, the regions of the country without water are richest in solar resources. Solar uses very little on-site water.

Unlike fossil fuels, both passive design and solar panels have the advantage of very long term paybacks in a future where energy is likely to be much more expensive. I have read that builders in the SW are actually using this logic to sell homes designed to be energy efficient. The market at work.

P.S. if anyone knows of a home building company in the SW dedicated to this building concept, I would like to hear about them.

Perhaps, but the solar electricity will almost always reduce the peak energy load required from other sources. Peak electricity is generally the most expensive.


Note: I didn't say that running other things on PV such as low voltage LED lights or the the fans to distribute the passive solar cooled air throughout the house would not be advantageous.

What I said was:

"Using PV to run standard AC compressors would be a losing proposition!"

You say 'standard AC compressors," but would some other, non-standard compressors be compatible.

What if you had a direct current air conditioner directly hooked up to your PV. Would that make the system less of a losing proposition?

(Thanks ahead of time for any light you can throw on the subject.)

Put the 1K square foot home underground, where it should be to begin with, in the FXXXing DESERT!!...Super insulate the shell.

Won't have to do much cooling at all. Humans are pretty stupid.

The Martian.

How about don't live in an area that can reach 118 degrees in the first place.

Interesting issue. Two story house, half underground with recirculated air between the two environments. This would get past the fact that we are NOT fracking gophers.

You say 'standard AC compressors," but would some other, non-standard compressors be compatible.

It would probably be more correct to say a 'typical AC system', since passive solar air conditioning still uses a compressor. Which could indeed be a highly efficient low voltage DC compressor run off a PV array, BTW.


How it works.

By "Super Heating" the refrigerant with the aid of the Solar Collector, we are able to increase the temperature difference between the condenser coil and the ambient temperature. By creating this difference, Sedna Aire is able to utilize the entire coil face at the condenser which allows for a better heat exchange throughout the entire system.

With a greater heat exchange, Sedna Aire is able to not only reduce the temperature in the conditioned space but also maintain better humidity control which makes the space more comfortable at a higher temperature…in addition your air conditioning unit doesn’t run as long and cycles less.

With the combination of the solar heat and changing the thermodynamic process of the refrigerant, Sedna Aire is able to reduce the required work of the compression operation of the compressor. This then lowers the required electrical consumption, reduces the running time of the entire system and maintains a more comfortable conditioned space.

The point of powering AC with PV, is that you get power (from PV) also during those times of year you don't need AC. Now if the PV was directly connecetd to the AC -and could power nothing else, that would be a different matter.

I'm still putting my bets on Phoenix or sister cities to host the disaster needed to get us going on doing something about global warming. How about a simultaneous heat wave, grid failure and wind storm wiping out maybe a million of us parasites in one day?. That might do it.

And then, it might not.

PS, my super-cheap solar water heater harvested 50 gallons of really hot water today. Laundry tomorrow.

PPS- Why don't those people carve big holes in the ground to hide in when the heat hits, like any self-respecting rattlesnake?

Japan thinking about nationalizing its nuke plants?


Will their government be any more accountable to their people than TEPCO was/is?

It seems to me sometimes that the Japanese folks are pretty compliant to authority and don't like to break ranks and cause a stink, so maybe not?

Will their government be any more accountable to their people than TEPCO was/is?


After Fascism - the use of Government power to benefit Corporations - showed up on the world stage in the middle of the 20th century....can one show "effective" Nation States that did not use State power to benefit Corporations?

Thusly - How is Japan different?

Facism showed up early in the 20th century. Its economic policies were somewhat different. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism#Economic_policies

For current developments on the relationship between government and corporations, see Ian Bremer, "The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?"

The End of the Free Market

For something to end it has to exist.
"The Free Market" doesn't exist in any kind of volume of transactions.

Pointing at something and calling it a free market just does not make it so.

Pointing at something and calling it facism doesn't make it so either.

The structures of power are evolving towards primacy of the holders of financial wealth. They call the shots for corporations, who are simply tools for the accumulation of more wealth. They also call the shots for government, who also work on their behalf to provide assistance to corporations and to a variety of privately held business and other organizations.

This resembles neither free markets, capitalism, socialism, communism, nor facism, and we should stop using obsolete terms from 19th and early 20th century political economic theories, whose main effect is to evoke emotions rather than to accurately describe current economic and political systems.

we should stop using obsolete terms from 19th and early 20th century political economic theories

Lets be clever and come up with a new term then.

Marxists had a term "rentier capitalism" for the economic system. "Financial capitalism" might also be appropriate. I don't know of a term for a pseudo-democracy subordinate to a rentier class.

Using a more 'correct' term, even if it has to be made up, will help move things forward VS using an incorrect label or claiming the label now means what the new system is.

For quite a while now I've been calling it "The Mad Economy".
People seem to know what I mean.

A corporation is a legal entity that is created under the laws of a state designed to establish the entity as a separate legal entity having its own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members...
...Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like natural persons ("people"). Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state, and they can themselves be responsible for human rights violations.

Fascism is anti-anarchist, anti-communist, anti-conservative, anti-democratic, anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-parliamentary, anti-bourgeois, and anti-proletarian.[10] It entails a distinctive type of anti-capitalism and is typically, with a few exceptions, anti-clerical.[11][12] Fascism rejects the concepts of egalitarianism, materialism, and rationalism in favour of action, discipline, hierarchy, spirit, and will.[13] In economics, fascists oppose liberalism (as a bourgeois movement) and Marxism (as a proletarian movement) for being exclusive economic class-based movements.[14] Fascists present their ideology as that of an economically trans-class movement that promotes resolving economic class conflict to secure national solidarity.[15] They support a regulated, multi-class, integrated national economic system.[16]

If the father was a corporation and the mother a facist state...

Perhaps they begot, Corporatism, Facism, Corporate Facism, and Corporacism, the last being legal entities that discriminate against everything that is not part of themselves while exploiting and enslaving all other entities, especially individuals.

Classically corporations were directly answerable to their major stockholders who had seats on the boards of directors. Whatever moral dimension attached to the corporation also attached directly to the major stockholders.

Other arrangements now exist. It is somewhat common for top managers of the corporation to have "captured" the board of directors by nominating their friends. In this arrangement, management of the corporation should be directly responsible for the moral actions of the corporation.

Alternatively, the majority of stock may be held or voted by financial institutions, private equity funds, hedge funds, etc., in which the financial layer of the economy should be directly responsible for the moral actions of the corporation. As pools of capital are accumulated to greater levels by the super-rich, this financial layer is becoming the predominant moral actor in the economy and corporations producing goods and services are just errand boys.

Might "plutocracy" or "corporatism" seem adequate to capture the emerging political-economic reality in the US?

This resembles neither free markets, capitalism, socialism, communism, nor facism, and ...

I was watching something about Louis the 14ths France. The fact that they couldn't balance the budget, because it was unacceptable to make the aristocracy pay any taxes, sounds pretty similar to the USA today. We are re-inventing the system that the French had a bloody revolution to overthrow.

From making a bet on concentrated refills

Such strategies are already common in Britain, where the WRAP program promotes innovative ways to reduce disposable waste. Tesco, one of Britain’s leading supermarkets, sells its squashes (fruit juices) in a highly concentrated form; they must be diluted with nine parts water before the drink is consumed. That greatly reduces not only the packaging but the emissions created in transporting products.

The NYT has got this completely wrong.

Squashes are imitation fruit juices, not self diluted concentrates. They are about 99% aspartame and citric acid to 1% juice. (and thats those that have any real juice in their ingredients at all) They are concentrated soft drinks, not fruit juices. Add carbonated water to a squash and you have a pretty close imitation of a 7-up. They are not an innovation, but something that predates the mass market availability of fruit juice in Britain, and are still drunk as a juice substitute by the poorest.

The actual retail trend in drinks is completely the other way. Sell water with as little as possible in it. My local Tesco doesn't sell any squashes at all. It has lots of ultra-dilute drinks (pure spring water with a splash of ...) though. Why sell 1 bottle of concentrate at 38p when you can sell 10 bottles ready diluted at 238p each instead?

German energy firm RWE 'may sell Britain's Npower'

AFP - Germany's second largest power company, RWE, may sell Npower, one of Britain's biggest electricity suppliers, in a deal worth £5 billion, a report said Sunday.

RWE was considering the sale because it has large debts, needs to invest billions in a new generation of green power stations and also because of "dissatisfaction" with British energy policy, the Sunday Times said.

The split of Sudan into two countries approaches, and it does not look like it will go smoothly:

Sudan Not Ready For Oil Revenue Loss Shock Ahead Of Split-UN
Dow Jones Newswires

KAMPALA, Uganda -(Dow Jones)- Northern Sudan is not ready to absorb the shock of losing oil revenue, which is likely to be a major destabilizing factor ahead of the independence of the oil-producing Southern Sudan, a United Nations envoy told Dow Jones Newswires late Saturday.

Whereas major oil infrastructure projects, including refineries, pipelines and export ports are located in the north, the south accounts for at least 70%-80% of Sudan's oil production, said David Gressly, the U.N. envoy for Southern Sudan.


Most of Sudan's oil exports go to China, and none to the US:

EIA Country Analysis


How long would it take and how much would it cost to build a pipeline across Kenya?

Otherwise, how else would South Sudan get its production to market?

This has been seriously discussed for the last few years and would be expected to take about two years or so to build. However even with the certainty of the upcoming split and potential of possible conflict, the plan was considered too costly.

M - No idea but I have no doubt China would write that check if it fits into their plans. Likewise I have no doubt this discussion may have begun many months ago. Another situation where the Chinese have a huge advantage over US companies. First, the negotiations would be at a sovereign level. Second, no company on the planet has as deep pockets. A third, they aren't restricted from bribary or using mercs on the ground to protect their interests.

LED lighting emphasis shifts to cost, quality
With many manufacturers now able to turn out LED chips with excellent efficacy, improving the $/lumen cost of high-quality white light is now the key priority.

As the LED market goes from strength to strength – near-doubling in value in 2010 – and as semiconductor-based light bulbs increasingly appear on the shelves of homeware stores, it’s tempting to feel that the era of solid-state lighting is well under way.

But while it’s true that the past few years have seen a remarkable improvement in the efficacy of white LED chips, packages and lamps, measured in terms of the number of lumens emitted per watt of electrical power consumed, general illumination applications remain at a very early stage of development.

Most estimates for the general lighting sector put LED penetration at less than 5% currently. And although designers are keen to exploit the possibilities of this new illumination technology, and consumers are understandably attracted to the idea of cutting their energy bills, there is still plenty of development to be done before the LED becomes dominant – even though it is now accepted to be a question of “when”, and not “if”.

See: http://optics.org/indepth/2/6/4

I've been steadily increasing the number of LED products that we use in our lighting retrofits and will continue to do so as costs come down. The next three to five years will be quite interesting.


The next three to five years will be quite interesting.

I agree, Paul! Even if the vast majority will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of low energy lighting only to find out it ain't half as bad as they imagined.

Along the way we will have to deal with a lot of negativity, doesn't work, It's bad for your eyes, the color is horrible, too expensive, maybe in the distant future, it's not reliable yet... etc, etc, none of which is true anymore.

Cheers indeed,


That small issue of having to drag along a semi-conductor fab facility to change a light bulb still nags me.... Just seems like a gigantic investment in complexity.

This is something that's been nagging at me too. Yes, I like the new LED lamps but this nagging thought won't go away. It won't likely be a problem in our lifetime, but I wouldn't bet on it in the (resource limited) future. It's a lot simpler technology to make an incandescent lamp than an LED one. We talk about how the LED lamps make it possible to use a small PV and battery to provide light in the future, but look what it takes in complexity to make the PV and especially the LED bulb. Lots of things to think about...


An explosion and subsequent fire damaged a transformer of the first power unit at France’s Tricastin nuclear power plant. No injured or dead have been reported.

Ocean floor muddies China's grip on '21st-century gold'

China's monopoly over rare-earth metals could be challenged by the discovery of massive deposits of these hi-tech minerals in mud on the Pacific floor, a study on Sunday suggests.
At one site in the central North Pacific, an area of just one square kilometre (0.4 of a square mile) could meet a fifth of the world's annual consumption of rare metals and yttrium, says the paper.
A bigger question is whether the technology exists for recovering the mud at such great depths -- 4,000 to 5,000 metres (13,000 to 16,250 feet) -- and, if so, whether this would be commercially viable.

Quite interesting. I skimmed through the nature geosciences article, and it looks well done. Any mining guys out who knows how hard it is (cost?) to bring up a ton of mud from 5000 m deep in the middle of the Pacific?
It seems as if the mud is equally good as what is used in China today to extract the metals.

Maybe the economists were right a while longer and Malthus has to wait another few years...

Hey there Segaltamp...it's already been done by your criminal FEDGOV.....taxpayers only get the best...dontchaknow!!

""Global Marine Development Inc., the research and development arm of Global Marine Inc., a pioneer in deepwater offshore drilling operations, was contracted to design, build and operate the "Hughes Glomar Explorer" in order to secretly salvage the sunken Soviet submarine from the ocean floor. The ship was built at the Sun Shipbuilding yard in Philadelphia, Pa. Billionaire businessman Howard Hughes — whose companies were already contractors on numerous classified US military weapons, aircraft and satellite contracts[citation needed] — agreed to lend his name to the project in order to support the cover story that the ship was mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor, but Hughes and his companies had no actual involvement in the project. The K-129 was photographed at a depth of over 16,000 feet (4,900 m), and thus the salvage operation would be well beyond the depth of any ship salvage operation ever before attempted.[citation needed] On November 1, 1972, work began on the 63,000-short-ton (57,000 t), 619-foot-long (189 m) Hughes Glomar Explorer (HGE)."" (From our friends at Wiki)


The Martian.

If John McCain wants to be Proconsul of Afghanistan, then he is free to do so under some other country's flag.


He and his ilk slay me.

If we aren't doing well in war objectives, they say we need to stay 'until the job is done'.

If we have achieved out objectives, then we can't leave because 'we will jeopardize all we have accomplished'.

They can play games with the objectives and move the goalposts to the unattainable and beyond: 'Well, as long as their is the possibility that there are any Al Quaieda or Taliban in Afghanistan, then we need to remain engaged'.

And the refuge of scoundrels:

"We need to support our troops!"

"We need to honor our troops' sacrifices"

"America can't cut and run"

McCain and his ilk will never ever find justification for winding down and ending a grand military invasion and occupation once we have gone in.

John really gets into spending our tax dollars and debt-created monies to re-fight and win the Vietnam War...

War, and more War, death, destruction, and to what end?

If we stayed engaged in Afghanistan for 20 more years, then withdrew, would the outcome be any different?

The Republicans, which surely includes John McCain, want to continue to fight pointless wars, the cost of which will eventually cost trillions of dollars. Even if there were a good case for these wars, the American people have found it easy to put up with these wars because there is no apparent personal cost to them, whether in the blood of their children or the taxes they have to pay. For all intents and purposes, the wars are free so why bother to get out and protest them or vote out people who vote for them.

But now the cost will come home. Because we won't cut the budget by ending these senseless wars, or cutting the obscene waste out of the defense budget, or cutting back on an unsustainable empire. No. The cost of these wars will be borne by all those others programs which are considered expendable by the Republicans, including the abolition of the EPA if they can get away with it.

The Democrats, however, are complicit as well as there are still very few voices who are willing to speak out against this nonsense.

Kudos, however, to those who have spoken out against the illegal war in Libya. It is past time where the executive gets to decide which wars it wants to fight regardless of the will of the people or the will of congress. At the end of the day, there very well be a good case for our limited engagement in Libya but that does not change the fact that the war is illegal.

Bizarrely, Fox News has announced the FALSE NEWS of the death of Barack Obama on their presumably hacked twitter feed ("Verified Account"). Even stranger is that 5 hours later the tweets have still not been pulled.


foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
We wish @joebiden the best of luck as our new President of the United States. In such a time of madness, there's light at the end of tunnel
5 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
BREAKING NEWS: President @BarackObama assassinated, 2 gunshot wounds have proved too much. It's a sad 4th for #america. #obamadead RIP
5 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
#ObamaDead, it's a sad 4th of July. RT to support the late president's family, and RIP. The shooter will be found
5 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
@BarackObama shot twice at a Ross' restaurant in Iowa while campaigning. RIP Obama, best regards to the Obama family.
5 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
@BarackObama has just passed. Nearly 45 minutes ago, he was shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown. Bled out
5 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
@BarackObama has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed. President Barack Obama is dead
6 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
Just regained full access to our Twitter and email. Happy 4th
6 hours ago
foxnewspolitics foxnewspolitics
Attorney general announces criminal investigations into CIA interrogations in which two detainees died during questioning
30 Jun