Drumbeat: July 15, 2011

Canada looking at building military bases in Arctic

OTTAWA—It is costly to operate in the vast and inhospitable Arctic. But the Canadian military is exploring a way to cut costs and speed up the movement of troops and equipment by building several new northern bases.

Along the way it could help to strengthen the country's Arctic sovereignty claims by placing additional boots on the tundra throughout the year.

Monthly inflation retreats on lower gas prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Falling prices at the pump pushed inflation lower in June, but consumers are still paying significantly more than they were last summer.

The Consumer Price Index, the government's key inflation measure, fell 0.2% in the month, led by a 6.8% drop in gasoline prices over the same period. It was the first time in a year the monthly CPI reading decreased.

Canadian energy ministers to meet in Kananaskis

Canada's energy ministers will meet in Kananaskis, Alta. this weekend to discuss creating a national energy strategy, as well as opportunities in the mining sector.

BP Makes Voluntary Gulf Of Mexico Safety Commitments

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- U.K. energy giant BP PLC Friday vowed to hold itself to a higher set of deep-water drilling standards than those already prescribed by U.S. authorities, as it aims to assure regulators it is ready to return to operations in the Gulf of Mexico following last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent oil spill.

Spare Capacity Dwindles, Alaska Looks Better

The realities of shrinking spare capacity are becoming more evident by the day.

The International Energy Agency warns that unless OPEC can raise production by 1.5 million barrels a day — about the same as that lost Libyan production — global demand oil demand will start to outrun available supply between now and year-end.

Aramco buys for August, gasoline holds ground

Gasoline imports by Saudi Aramco have given a boost to premiums in the Gulf this week, while a strong European market also supported the sentiment, traders said on Thursday.

'Aramco will need more in August,' one gasoline trader said, who saw the total cargoes for August amounting to around 12. Another trader said August imports could be 8-10 cargoes.

Attacks on oil sites push Yemen's economy to brink

Sana'a: Over months of political turmoil, attacks on electricity plants and oil pipelines have left Yemen's economy on the edge of collapse, with the most damaging strike carried out in retaliation for a US counterterrorism raid.

Against a backdrop of street protests and military clashes, the country is grappling with electricity blackouts, rising food prices, and fuel shortages so dire that ordinary Yemenis can spend days in lines for gasoline.

Talks stall, tanks dry

As increasingly violent strikes and a growing fuel shortage crisis threaten to cripple South Africa, business and political parties are urging unions and employers to resolve their differences.

The South African National Taxi Council called on all parties involved to come to a speedy resolution as commuters could be left stranded by fuel shortages.

IEA Reports on State of Oil Markets since Emergency Stockpile Release

In an unusually strongly worded statement, the International Energy Agency (IEA) – the official energy watchdog for major consuming nations – said that its critics "can't have their cake and eat it too."

IEA made the statement in releasing its monthly oil market report on July 13, commenting on the status of oil markets since its call on June 23 for the release of 60 million barrels of oil and refined products from the emergency stockpiles of member nations, including the U.S. and Japan.

Misbehaving Drillers May Undergo New Scrutiny

The nation's top offshore drilling regulator said Wednesday he is examining whether the government can do more to keep oil and gas companies with checkered histories from exploring offshore.

Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said he is studying how to treat "operators who may have behaved badly in the past and whether they should be allowed to continue operating in the future."

Syrians stage largest protests yet; 17 killed

BEIRUT (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Syrians mounted the largest protests Friday since the uprising began more than four months ago, pouring into areas where the government crackdown has been most intense in a sign that security forces cannot break the revolt.

Syrian authorities fired on the crowds, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 100, activists said.

In a significant show of the uprising's strength, thousands turned out in the capital, Damascus, which had seen only scattered protests. Until now, much of the dissent against President Bashar Assad has been in impoverished, remote areas.

BHP takeover could open floodgates

BHP Billiton’s $12.1 billion takeover of US shale player Petrohawk Energy has sparked a spate of speculation about which onshore-focused company may be next in the sights of the bigger oil and gas firms.

Canada crude-Keystone constraints fail to widen spreads

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian heavy crude prices gained strength on Friday as steady demand overshadowed word that flows on TransCanada Corp's Keystone pipeline will be restricted again next month.

Western Canada Select heavy blend for August delivery was discussed at $17.75-$18 a barrel under benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude, compared with $18-$19 earlier this week.

How good intentions ended with expensive and dirty corn

In the United States, corn is now officially a fuel crop -- the federal government forecasts that this year, ethanol-makers will for the first time use more corn than poultry and livestock farmers. What's the outcome of this government-subsidized gluttony by fuelmakers?

One is that folks like myself who think corn is the most delicious vegetable out there are paying 90 percent more per ear than we were last year. That includes the Chinese, who are importing much more U.S. corn (picture above). Another is that the U.S. taxpayer is effectively subsidizing exports to Brazil, Europe and elsewhere, which will buy around 1 billion gallons of the fuel. This has also been a windfall for big agricompanies like Archer Daniels Midland, which over the years has been among the most politically influential companies in Washington lobbying.

Richard Heinberg and David Fridley: The end of cheap coal

World energy policy is gripped by a fallacy — the idea that coal is destined to stay cheap for decades to come. This assumption supports investment in ‘clean-coal’ technology and trumps serious efforts to increase energy conservation and develop alternative energy sources. It is an important enough assumption about our energy future that it demands closer examination.

Environment Minister sets out goals of national energy policy

Bermuda is positioning itself as a leader among small island nations in finding greener ways of energy production, Environment Minister Walter Roban said today.

Mr Roban said: “The primary threat to energy security in Bermuda is the impending threat of peak oil — the time at which the world’s production of oil peaks and thereafter enters a period of terminal decline."

Lighting the Hopes of the Grid-less

From Lenin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 20th-century political leaders made the provision of universal electricity a centerpiece of their programs and oratory. “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country,” one slogan went. Or, in the case of F.D.R.’s Tennessee Valley Authority, “T.V.A.: Electricity For All.”

In this century, the United Nations has updated the concept in addressing the problem that 1.4 billion people in the world are living without electricity. The new buzz phrase is “Sustainable Energy For All,” but the approach is very different, because in many cases these people cannot be connected to a grid. Given that the vast majority of the unconnected live near the equator, where the sun is at its zenith, the solutions being tried are almost all based on solar power.

John Michael Greer: Salvaging quality

Ask any cast iron aficionado and dollars will get you doughnuts – perhaps these days I should say “credit swaps will get you crullers” or something like that – you’ll hear a similar story; the cast iron cookware you can buy in your local hardware store simply isn’t as good as the same products made a quarter century ago, and the difference is no small thing. I’ve heard the same thing in the very different context of craftspeople who work with old tools; the quality of the metal, they say, as well as the workmanship tends to be dramatically better in tools that are at least a quarter century old.

EPA enlists NASCAR star Leilani Munter for PSA

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in America, but stock car racing is probably not the first thing you think of when it comes to protecting the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency is hoping to change that, with the help of Leilani Munter, a star NASCAR driver and eco activist.

Why America needs to move beyond coal: Five economic indicators

Coal still plays a dominant role in the U.S. energy mix, accounting for almost 45% of American electricity production. But the economics of coal continue to change, making the resource look far less attractive today than it once was.

And now for something completely different: Big powers missing in action on food price crisis but new leaders emerge

This June 22, the G20, the club of economic powerhouses that was established in 1999, held its first meeting of agriculture ministers – a guest list based on an obsolete presumption that ag ministers have anything to do with hunger, health or well-being. The ministers were called on to do something about food prices that were out of control.

The meeting revealed the deeper crisis of our time, the crisis underlying the emerging convergence of peak oil/peak food/peak water and peak climate – to name only the best known and most frightful problems that are going critical these days. The crisis underlying these emerging crises is the inability of governing groups to use their power to identify and win support for any way forward. This meets the first historic precondition of revolution – inability of ruling elites to rule.

Energy and peace: the dangers of our slow energy transition

Resource scarcity and climate change should be driving forward the transition to the energy systems of the future. Instead we see a laggardly pace of change that threatens global political stability.

Futures studies' backcasting method used for strategic sustainable city planning

The concept of sustainable development has been applied to the so-called sustainable city. However, this concept is difficult to define precisely because it refers to the process rather than to the end-point. The city requires the flows of energy, natural resources, services, people, information, etc. Therefore, it cannot be looked at as a single and self-contained system. These flows obviously have benefits to the residents, but sometimes uncontrollable problems are created, such as pollution, traffic congestion and waste. Currently, significant discussion of the city's environmental impacts is focused on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that come from the increase in consumption of energy and other resources [1]. The problems that cities face today may be similar to those cities in the future but with greater compounding affects. Consequently, policy actions for developing sustainable city futures ought to be applied, tested and transferred to help solve problems for other cities.

Why a high-carbon investment bubble could be the lesser of evils

This week has seen a new green meme emerge: the idea that investment in high-carbon companies is creating a "carbon bubble" that could leave the world exposed to another financial crash. The catalyst is a fascinating report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative that explores the obvious but usually overlooked mismatch between the world's stated climate change targets and the market response – or lack thereof.

Bill McKibben: North America's future as the New Middle East?

(CBS News) The climate problem has moved from the abstract to the very real in the last 18 months.

Instead of charts and graphs about what will happen someday, we've got real-time video: first Russia burning, then Texas and Arizona on fire. First Pakistan suffered a deluge, then Queensland, Australia, went underwater, and this spring and summer, it's the Midwest that's flooding at historic levels.

UN Climate Body Struggling to Pinpoint Rising Sea Levels

The United Nations' forecast of how quickly global sea levels will rise this century is vital in determining how much money might be needed to combat the phenomenon. But predictions by researchers vary wildly, and the attempt to find consensus has become fractious.

House passes energy and water bill, $6B below Obama’s request; rail money steered to flood aid

WASHINGTON — As lawmakers argued over long-term deficit reduction, the Republican-led House on Friday cut 20 percent from President Barack Obama’s budget request for energy and water projects.

Republicans called the bill a model of restraint but the White House said it jeopardized economic growth and clean energy.

...The bill steered $1 billion away from high-speed rail projects and used the money instead to pay for flood relief along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. It also provided $1.3 billion for renewable energy programs, about $491 million below this year’s level.

US Gas-Rig Count Adds 12; Oil Rigs Up By Six -Baker Hughes

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The number of rigs in the U.S. drilling for natural gas rose this week, oil-field service company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) said Friday.

There were 885 rigs drilling natural-gas wells this week, up by 12 from the previous week.

Natural Gas Pains

Not quite ten years ago, petroleum engineers hit on the idea of combining two well-known techniques -- horizontal drilling and fracking -- to make it possible to recover natural gas from shale rock formations. And the result was a bonanza of new domestic natural gas supply. Now, it seems that the bonanza may not be as great as its boosters hope. What's behind all this?

BP Oil Is Still Washing Ashore One Year After End of Gulf of Mexico Spill

Crude oil continues to wash ashore along the Gulf of Mexico coast a year after BP Plc (BP/) stopped the flow from its damaged Macondo well, which caused the worst U.S. offshore spill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Judge tosses RICO claims vs BP over oil spill

(Reuters) - BP Plc won two legal victories on Friday, as a federal judge threw out racketeering claims made by the lead plaintiffs suing over last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill and set aside a lawsuit by its partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp over the project.

Why Europe Needs Its Own Energy Agency

In every crisis, understanding the overall situation is a first step for fixing the problem, or, at least, mitigating its impact. For that, you need reliable data and analysis, none of which our governments currently have. Indeed, until now OECD countries, including the US and the UK, have relied on the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). Regrettably, the IEA is heavily politicized and best known for its record of inconsistent scenarios.

Warnings whole towns could be lost due to rising sea levels unless coastal defences improve

It is a coastline which attracts thousands of visitors each year, but seaside homes in parts of Wales face being lost over the next century because of rising sea levels caused by climate change and erosion.

A shock report is warning that without improved coastal defences towns along the world-renowned coastline could be swallowed by the sea.

Petrobras Says Brazil Oil Reserves Similar Size to North Sea

Brazil’s oil reserves, including recent discoveries in deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, are of a similar size to those found in the North Sea, said an exploration official at Petroleo Brasileiro SA. (PETR4)

The U.K. and Norway held about 62 billion barrels of reserves in the North Sea before the deposits were developed, Francisco Nepomuceno Filho, Petrobras’s London head of exploration and production, said in an interview in London today.

“Brazil as a whole could have a potential of the same size of the North Sea, including Norway and the U.K.,” Nepomuceno said. “Those two countries grew a lot and had huge development.”

Oil above $95 after Bernanke stimulus comments

SINGAPORE – Oil prices hovered above $95 a barrel Friday in Asia after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said another round of monetary stimulus was not imminent.

IEA defends release of stocks of crude oil

The oil consumers group leading this month's release of 60 million barrels of crude defended the move yesterday despite its failure to lower the oil price.

Rights group pushes Bahrain to investigate firings

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — More than 2,000 workers in Bahrain have been fired from state-linked firms and government jobs in apparent retribution for participating in pro-democracy protests earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

Bahrain's security forces have smothered an uprising by the Gulf kingdom's majority Shiites seeking greater freedoms and rights from the Sunni rulers in the tiny but strategically important island nation that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Clinton Discusses Post-Qaddafi Libya With Allies

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and international allies are seeking to ensure that Libya’s opposition is strong enough to fill the vacuum left after the expected departure of leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Crackdown escalates in east Syria, protesters killed

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian forces shot dead two pro-democracy protesters on Thursday in eastern provincial capital Deir al-Zoran, residents said, as a crackdown escalated against dissent in the tribal region bordering Iraq's Sunni heartland.

Military intelligence agents also injured seven protesters who had gathered in the main square of the city on the Euphrates river to protest against President Bashar al-Assad whose family has ruled Syria with an iron fist since 1970.

Venezuela's Chavez to get cancer treatment in Brazil

BRASILIA/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will travel to Brazil for cancer treatment, a Brazilian government source told Reuters on Thursday, the latest sign that the socialist leader is still battling the illness after undergoing surgery in Cuba.

Russia's Mad Dash to Growth

Mother Russia can't pull enough oil from the ground.

The country is pumping out just over 10 million barrels a day with no capacity to spare, making it the biggest producer of oil in the world.

But as the oligarch Putin said recently, “Older fields are getting tapped out and incentives are needed to stimulate production.”

Will green initiatives mean oil demand peaks before supply?

A new study into ‘peak oil’ will question whether the theory should really be about ‘peak oil demand’ rather than supply. As concerns about climate change, energy security and oil price volatility coupled with advances in low carbon technology could mean that demand for oil peaks before the world’s capacity to supply it does.

Abu Dhabi agrees to supply China with 200,000 barrels of oil a day

Adnoc has agreed to supply China with 200,000 barrels of crude daily for two decades.

China Plans to More Than Double Coal-Gas Output by 2015

China, the world’s largest energy user, plans to more than double production of its coal-bed methane in five years by 2015 to cut reliance on oil and coal.

The country aims to increase its annual output to 21 billion cubic meters by 2015 from 8.6 billion cubic meters in 2010, China Petrochemical Corp., the nation’s second-largest oil and gas producer, said in its online newsletter today, citing a five-year plan. The fuel, also known as coal-seam gas, is a form of natural gas trapped in coal beds.

Canada Seeks to Grow China Sales Amid ‘Exaggerated Rhetoric’ for Oil Sands

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the nation will seek to grow energy sales to China, and challenge environmentalists in the U.S. and Europe, to sustain demand for the world’s largest reserves of oil outside the Middle East.

Latest Drilling Rules Draw Objections

Rules proposed recently by New York State for regulating a controversial form of natural gas drilling are drawing expressions of guarded optimism from the natural gas industry but objections from some environmentalists, who say they do not go far enough in protecting water supplies.

Natural gas driller dumps 'Talisman Terry' dino-themed coloring book after criticism, mockery

PITTSBURGH - A natural gas drilling company says it's no longer distributing a children's coloring book featuring a hard hat-wearing dinosaur that's been criticized by a Massachusetts congressman and lampooned by Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert.

Talisman Energy says "Talisman Terry's Energy Adventure" is no longer being distributed following a barrage of criticism.

EPA questions need for gas line through Pa. forest

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators are questioning the rationale of a proposed 39-mile natural gas pipeline that opponents say would damage 600 acres of pristine forests and streams in northern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains region.

If Indian Point Closes, Plenty of Challenges

Peculiarities of the electricity system in New York State, including its unusual independent status, would make it difficult and expensive to replace electricity from the Indian Point nuclear power plant if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo succeeds in shutting it down, experts on the grid warn.

Charging stations along I-5 in Wash. due this year

SEATTLE — Washington state transportation officials on Wednesday announced a new initiative to place electric vehicle charging stations at key intervals along the West Coast's busiest highway — a development that should allow drivers to cruise the 580 miles from the southern border of Oregon all the way to Canada by the end of the year.

Proponents of the technology hailed it as a major step toward making the zero-emission cars with limited range a viable option for more Americans.

Electric bike rentals smooth out sightseeing

Riding a so-called "e-bike" feels like having a fairy godmother give you a little push from behind. The extra boost helps you cope with traffic and overtake hills with ease. Unlike a scooter, an e-bike has no noisy motor or smelly exhaust fumes.

Boone Pickens challenges Canada on green power law

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Mesa Power Group, a Texas-based renewable energy company owned by billionaire T. Boone Pickens, plans to file a complaint with Canada charging that the province of Ontario's green energy plan violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Masdar Capital confident despite investment struggle

Masdar Capital says it having trouble finding opportunities on its home turf two days after the UAE showcased a US$100 billion opening for alternative energy investment in the next decade.

EPA, DOE Announce 'Most Efficient' Energy Star Appliances

This Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are recognizing some of the most energy-efficient products under the Energy Star label program. This recognition will help consumers make more informed decisions on which household appliances are the most energy-efficient and will help lower household energy bills and reduce the impact on the environment.

Feds to refine plan on solar development zones

DENVER (AP) — Federal officials are refining their plan for speeding up solar energy development in zones of public lands in six western states, after receiving about 80,000 comments on the plan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.

Feeding kids when parents, schools can't

Cobb County, Georgia (CNN) -- For many, summer means vacation, sports, camping or just time off to relax, but not for millions of kids living in poverty in the United States. There are few camps or beach trips for them, and sometimes not even three meals a day.

During the school year, public schools provide breakfast and lunch to millions of students in the United States. But when summer arrives, parents struggling to feed their children can no longer rely on those meals.

Programs cropping up across USA to address 'food deserts'

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The kale, turnips and romaine lettuce grow in neat rows on a 2-acre plot at Woodlawn estate, a Virginia property once owned by George Washington. Today, a non-profit organization uses the land to raise vegetables and fruit to be sold in inner city Washington, where it's hard to find fresh food.

"It's really poignant," Pat Lute says of the circle formed by the food from land once tended by 91 slaves that is now going to people in need.

Lute is executive director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, which is equipping a used school bus to make regular stops in neighborhoods where residents' food choices are limited to corner stores, dollar stores and fast-food restaurants.

Germany’s Lufthansa starts flights using biofuel in bid to reduce emissions

BERLIN — Germany’s biggest airline, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, says it has begun trial flights using biofuels in a bid to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

300 Somali children left for dead in drought

Most of those coming to Dadaab are former subsistence farmers whose lands were rendered idle and animals decimated after successive seasons of no rain hit their already war-ravaged country. At least 1,500 arrive in Dadaab every day.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have watched their land dry up after years without rain. Then the livestock died. Finally all the food ran out. Now they are making the perilous journey over parched earth to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, regions that also have been hit hard by drought.

‘Extreme’ Heat Will Torment the U.S. Midwest Before Coming to East Coast

Temperatures may near 100 degrees as far north as Minnesota as a heat wave builds in the central U.S. this weekend, threatening to boost energy usage and damage crops before spreading to the East Coast.

New Herbicide Suspected in Tree Deaths

A recently approved herbicide called Imprelis, widely used by landscapers because it was thought to be environmentally friendly, has emerged as the leading suspect in the deaths of thousands of Norway spruces, eastern white pines and other trees on lawns and golf courses across the country.

‘Green’ Economy Is Real but Needs a Push, Study Suggests

One point the report makes is that while green initiatives are driving growth and innovation, market and policy challenges are preventing them from reaching their full potential. Those obstacles include policy gaps that undercut market demand, shortfalls in financing that lead to uncertainty and instability for investors, and an inadequate system for supporting innovation.

Putin calls for international consensus on greenhouse gases

The global community must reach an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and Russia will continue negotiations to that end, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Utility Shelves Ambitious Plan to Limit Carbon

WASHINGTON — A major American utility is shelving the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming.

Scattered Attempts at Carbon Capture

Eight other such projects are in the pipeline, although none quite like Mountaineer, a middle-aged coal-fired electric plant that had planned to bury the carbon dioxide. Plants like that will probably continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for decades.

Global warming: study finds natural shields being weakened

The soil and the ocean are being weakened as buffers against global warming, in a vicious circle with long-term implications for the climate system, say two new investigations.

Forests soak up third of fossil fuel emissions: study

Wooded areas across the planet soak up fully a third of the fossil fuels released into the atmosphere each year, some 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon, the study found.

At the same time, the ongoing and barely constrained destruction of forests -- mainly in the tropics -- for food, fuel and development was shown to emit 2.9 billion tonnes of carbon annually, more than a quarter of all emissions stemming from human activity.

Battered West Coast a lesson on warming, study finds

Severe erosion along the West Coast during the winter of 2009-2010 offers a look at, and lessons for, a warming world with rising sea levels, a new study finds.

A natural El Nino cycle that warms the Pacific Ocean produced those severe conditions, but computer models suggest that similar damage could come from sea level rise tied to human-caused greenhouse gases.

Rising oceans - too late to turn the tide?

Melting ice sheets contributed much more to rising sea levels than thermal expansion of warming ocean waters during the Last Interglacial Period, a UA-led team of researchers has found. The results further suggest that ocean levels continue to rise long after warming of the atmosphere has leveled off.

Further info and discussion on the accelerating rate of sea level rise can be found at:


It's interesting also to read the preceding Real Climate discussion regarding Willie Soon and his latest publication. In the comments, poster #50 points out that Soon modified his web site after this Real Climate article was posted, making some content unavailable to the public. Clearly, an attempt to cover up evidence of blatant misconduct on his part. Just another example of the repeated attempts by the denialist to hide their true intentions from view...

E. Swanson


France includes nuclear power exit among options

"France raised the possibility for the first time of pulling out of nuclear power...

"We will study all possible scenarios for what we call the energy mix," he said. "It will be done with total objectivity, in full transparency, without avoiding any scenario (...) including the scenarios of a nuclear exit."

An energy ministry official told Reuters one scenario would consider a total exit from nuclear by 2050, or even 2040."

dohboi - With events in Japan it's easy to see why there's been such a shift in French public attitude. But the article doesn't mention what would replace nukes. The most interesting comment on this possible future: "...and a progressive reduction of total electricity production in France." Did I miss something: is France expecting a significant decrease in population in the next 30 years or so? If not then the proposition to their folks is that theie life styles and economy will degrade? Maybe something was lost in the translation: maybe ther really meant a reduction in nuke electricity.

Good point about replacement. As I recall, there was some discussion of a deal with Morocco for PV, and more generally iirc Europe has plans for developing other parts of the north Sahara.

I imagine that some curtailment may be needed, too.

France has been the poster child for nuclear enthusiasts. That it is even considering walking away from nukes must be quite a blow to them.

France could adopt the energy efficiency measures of Germany (with a milder climate). Solar water heating is viable in France. No loss in quality of life.

And France is a major electricity exporter. Swiss utilities buy French nuke power at 3 AM and resell it at peak for 5x the price. The Swiss have 12 GW of pumped storage (Luxembourg 1 GW, France 4 GW) plus regular hydro that they just hold back at night.

The impact would also be on the neighbors that have come to depend on French nukes.


is France expecting a significant decrease in population in the next 30 years or so?

I think the answer to that is, yes. In fact, most of th Eurzone is anticipating diminished population.


In Euroupe, population is an emigration issue. Most countries who grow pop do so by importing people. Fertility is not high enough virtually anywhere here.

"Not high enough"? For what? I've always thought of declining fertility as something to be celebrated rather than mourned.

Low fertility, becomes a problem for supporting the old. You get a lot of old people needing care, and not so many working age folks to do the work. So economists get really worried if fertility drops too far, and start pushing for greater emmigration. Its all a case of valuing the medium term (decade or two or three) more than the far future.

"start pushing for greater emmigration."

I think you meant immigration.

High fertility becomes a problem for supporting...everyone, especially at the high consumption levels typical of most in the West.

Most economists can't tell their...well, you know...

Good point, about long versus medium term thinking, but it looks to me as though even the medium term is looking fairly gloomy for just about everyone no matter how we shuffle bodies around.

There are, of course, no problem free paths at this point, but making lots more babies, or moving more people into high-consumption lifestyles are among the worst courses for everyone in the not too long term.

But right now, it makes money and political power.

Prison system

"economists get really worried if fertility drops too far, and start pushing for greater ...migration."

Is that another reason the U.S. population profiles came to resemble more closely those to the south of its borders... after inventing birth control?

The context of my post was population growth. Hence, high enough to support a growing population.

I am, by the way, in favor of population reduction.

The U.S. should be so lucky!

Embrace your slow depopulation, it will be a gift to the following generations...unless it is rendered moot by immigration.

Isn't US pop GROWING? OR what did you mean?

Indeed, France has a relatively top-heavy demographic pyramid:


Especially compared to places like India:


--though pretty much the same could be said for most of South Asia and MENA. The big question is what is going to become of all these folks as ff's and now nuclear power diminishes. Will they all emigrate? To where? Can they figure out a way to sell the ample solar energy that most of these countries are blessed with? Or will they end up trafficking in their even more ample resources of children/cheap labor? Or will they mostly just die in place or in hastily assembled nearby refugee camps, as is now happening in East Africa?

The answers to your questions seem fairly self-evident to me, and I suspect to you as well. The renewable energy fairy is not going to be sprinkling much of her solar dust on the poor of South Asia and Africa. Who would have thought that the Hobbesian assessment of life - "nasty, brutish and short" - would apply not to ancient hunter-gatherers, but rather to modern industrial man?

OTOH, Uganda invested their initial oil lease revenue into a hydroelectric plant. Something that Alaska may do with the last dregs of revenue from Prudhoe Bay.


That's why I said "not much" rather than "not any". One hydroelctric plant is great for the people living near it in Uganda. It doesn't change the world outlook, though.

In eastern Africa right now you will see what is about to come. Yes, it is drought induced, but that is what it will look like when we can't produce food,for lack of oil or water.

The unfortunate answer


Mothers tying ropes around their stomachs to kill the hunger pains, so they can give more food to their children.


Reading that hurts.

The most interesting comment on this possible future: "...and a progressive reduction of total electricity production in France.

They may be looking to produce their electricity elsewhere.


France and Morocco are to collaborate on a large-scale solar facility in the North African country following a $146m French investment.

Industry and Energy Minister Eric Besson has announced that the French Development Agency has allocated the funding to what’s being described as the “centerpiece of the Mediterranean’s solar plan.”

The programme – which was originally announced in 2009 – will see a 2,000 megawatt solar plant constructed in Morocco at a cost of some $9 billion, planned for operation in 2020 and covering almost half of the country’s electricity needs.

I strongly suspect that one of the consequences of the recent nuclear disaster in Japan is that more and more governments will start to work on transitioning away from nuclear, since fossil fuels will become less and less of a viable option due to depletion and climate change, the only real options will be the so called alternatives.

If that means we all will need to make do with significantly less energy than what we have become accustomed to then that will happen as well. Personally I see that as a good thing and do not necessarily equate lower energy consumption to a lower standard of living, different, yes. Lower standard? Perhaps not.

Who do you think is having a better experience the people in picture A) or the ones in picture B)

A) http://www.visitusa.com/floridakeys/images/keywest-powerboatrace.jpg

B) http://www.wiebel-sailing.com/render1.jpg

IMHO the people stuck on fossil fuel and nuclear powered BAU scenarios, who are claiming that there is no alternative to them, really need to seriously reexamine their priorities and expectations. Their mindset is one of the biggest obstacles to the survival of the human race that we face today. I have nothing but a deep contempt for their perspective.

IMHO the people stuck on fossil fuel and nuclear powered BAU scenarios, who are claiming that there is no alternative to them, really need to seriously reexamine their priorities and expectations. Their mindset is one of the biggest obstacles to the survival of the human race that we face today. I have nothing but a deep contempt for their perspective.

Peak oil, soon to be followed with peak natural gas, peak coal, etc. will mean the end of BAU. However, I don't see a link between the end of the fossil fuel age and nuclear power. People may be concerned about nuclear power now, but attitudes are likely to change when there isn't the simple alternative of burning more coal or natural gas.

'...I don't see a link between the end of the fossil fuel age and nuclear power.'

I think you should look for them.

Nuclear Power is heavily invested in the world of trucks, just to name one.. and this is not just when it's constructed, but throughout its life-cycle and fuel cycle. I recognize that much the same is true for the buildout of renewables, but the question is, as with PO in general, 'Flowrate'.. how many trucks and cars need to come and go on good roads on a daily and yearly basis for a reactor's basic functioning, from build through decommissioning?

And it's not just a linear comparison, either. It's not just 'Gallons per KWH', but really a matter of which key obstacles are presented when 'the right vehicle can't make it through at the right time'..? Clearly, this could be a life/death difference for a reactor, where in many cases, a Wind Turbine or Solar System could safely go offline indefinitely if it became isolated. The unmet need for backup power, for a key replacement part, pump, piece of control equipment, a key staffperson or engineer.. could clearly be devastating for the reactors that are operating today. Failsafe depends on a filled tank in several different vehicles and other engines in proximity to the plant..

And coal, coal to make the steel.

There is some idiocy floating around that Photo Voltaic... or solar, isn't real until it can manufacture itself. What is the root source of this bit of misdirection?

I think that sort of argumentation is refered to as "no true Scottsman". Take down something on the basis of its impurity. Of course energy and other inputs for manufacturing PV and wind is pretty fungible. During the buildup phase, it matters not a wit, whether any of the alternatives are built with complete purity (no FF inputs). Its a shortcoming of the human brain that we reason as if some god is watching over us, and the results for us will be because he is pleased -or displeased (because we weren't pure enough). The logic usually runs, "we took a shortcut by being clever in doing XXX, because of that some nasty fate awaits us".

I would say the people in 'A' - the sailing computer graphic does not appear to have any real humans. Does this imply that the only people not burning fuel are imaginary?

Right, my bad, OK then, check out this one instead, doing 100 Km/h


Oh, and BTW picture A, was the gas guzzling speedboats... The sailboat was picture B.

FM - Good point about importing e. But would that make as much sense as the US abandoning oil/NG development in the 40's and instead importing all our needs? At least if had we done that we would still have those reserves in the ground for later development. On the negative side our energy would have cost a lot more and we would have had security issues develop much longer ago. And if the French dismatled their nukes they wouldn't have them to fall back on like our unproduced reserves.

Just my guess but I suspect it's mostly lip service from the politicans to the French people to placate their immediate apprehension over the Japanese event.

"it's mostly lip service from the politicans to the French people to placate their immediate apprehension over the Japanese event."

That could be, and France may well continue on with their happy nukelectric ways. But I have a sneaking suspicion that Fukushima will not be the last horrific nuclear accident--there are likely to be other 'reminders' of the dangers of this technology, especially as so many old reactors are being pushed beyond their planned operating lifetimes.

You have spoken my fear. Graphs of mechanical failures vs hours of life have this wonderful flat middle when almost nothing breaks and then a serious rise at the end. We now know every one of these nukes is packed with used fuel rods and if the cooling system fails we get an out of containment meltdown, hydrogen explosion, and possibly, a recriticality that that could (did at Fukushima) blow the fuel & reactor structure across a multi kilometer wide area.

These nukes are past end of life, and they are getting uprated to throughput more power. I cannot see this ending well for a large region or whole river system.

Another good reason to have some spare house trailers around. With HEPA grade air filters!

Sometimes I try to imagine a world map of a few hundred years in the future - very different coastlines, deserts in different places, and large dead zones in the places that went in big for nuclear power. Here in north eastern PA will likely be one of those.

Even at a sea level rise of 60 meters, the coastlines don't change a whole lot. http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/

Well, perhaps there are different concepts of what "not much" means. There are places I've lived and visited that would be quite some miles off shore.

Perhaps M overlooked the fact the the default setting at his site is 7 meters, not 60 meters? And of course looking at the largest scale makes it hard to see any but the very biggest swaths of submerged land.

Note that at 60 meters, FA is basically gone, as is much of the east coast of China and of the US southern Louisiana, the southern end of Vietnam, much of coastal Bangladesh..but maybe the displacement of hundreds of millions (probably over a billion) of people does not fit M's definition of 'much'? Or perhaps his point of comparison scifi Hollywood films like Waterworld?

Altogether is looks to be much less than 10% of continental land area that is submerged. Some low lying areas like Florida disappear, but the basic shape of the continents is largely unchanged.

The continental outlines were more dramatically changed by the -120 meter sea levels at the last glacial maximum around 18000 years ago. http://www.wunderground.com/climate/SeaLevelRise_Fig01.asp

Northern Europe, Eastern Canada, and Southeast Asia were completely different then.

A 60 meter rise would require melting the Antarctic ice sheet, which is very unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Might not be soon to a single human's lifespan but in a geological or even in a historic time frame it may be.


Doing a quick QC check for some known elevations in Florida..

It appears the scale is in feet.. Despite the "M" designation.
7M.. is 7 feet.. 60M is 60 feet...

To give you and example, the mean elevation in Florida is 100ft or 30M. Thus well over half of Florida should be underwater with a 60M increase. That's not what the map shows. A 60 Meter sea level would leave some small portions of northern and central north florida above sea level.

No. it is meters not feet. I checked it for my area and it corresponds to known altitudes. 4m and the airport becomes a port. 30m and I am a short walk from the beach. 40m and I am on an island. 50m and - oops!


Just my guess but I suspect it's mostly lip service from the politicans to the French people to placate their immediate apprehension over the Japanese event.

Well, to be frank, I trust most politicians about as far as I can throw them, and I don't suppose that French Politicians are any more trustworthy than their counterparts in other countries... having said that, jointly investing in a solar power plant in a location that is ideal for it and then planning on transmitting that energy to France may turn out to be long term mutually beneficial operation for both Morocco and France.

But would that make as much sense as the US abandoning oil/NG development in the 40's and instead importing all our needs? At least if had we done that we would still have those reserves in the ground for later development.

Yeah, but once the plant is built its solar energy will be available for a lot longer than any oil/NG reserves, wouldn't you say? So I'm not sure that analogy really holds. It would be more like investing in an infrastructure for producing infinitely available abiotic oil/NG >;^)

Ultra High Voltage allows transmission over longer distances. "Ultra high" is about a million volts, today.

China to Triple Ultra-High-Voltage Transmission Lines by 2012


IEA defends release of stocks of crude oil

"The IEA said this month's supply rise would continue to have an effect on the market through next month". I can certainly attest to that fact: just this morning it was reported that gasoline prices in Houston (one of the lowest cost cities in the country) jumped 13 cents/gallon in just one week. Can't wait to see how much higher prices go when they actually do the release next month. LOL. Safe bet the IEA will brag about how much higher fuel cost would have been without this "flood" of new oil coming to the market. And they might be right to some degree. OTOH if the exporters cut their volumes by a similar amount it would nullify that argument. In fact, I'm wondering if the exporters aren't seeing this is an opportunity to test their ability to micromanage output to maintain a relatively stable (high) price. And the bonus for OPEC: they retain more of their declining reserves while watching us deplete our emergency buffer. Of course, the release represents an insignificant amount of that buffer. More importantly, this "test" may show our buffer may have less potential to offset both future price and supply problems: the more we release the more OPEC cuts production. As long as the exporters can maintain needed cash flow it looks like a win/win for them IMHO.

My favorite - don't buy gas today 'revolt' e-mail. Big oil (yawning) - So what, you will buy it the day before or after. I also like the idea of invading and taking over an oil producing country, (aka) shooting your economy in the foot.

Nothing like having your 'oil testicles' in a vise with someone else in control of turning the handle to let you know where the real power exists.

KSA - Go ahead bomb yourself back into the stone age, show us how smart and tough you really are.

As of last Friday, there were still 726.5 million barrels in the SPR, the same as it's been all year. Not that it will matter much when it does go out, but it bugs me that all the writing about the release treats it as something that already happened.

Oil Steady

The IEA announced on 23 June a coordinated release of 60 mb of strategic stocks for an initial 30 days, in response to the ongoing Libyan crisis. The Libya collective action aimed to provide a bridge between rising oil demand in 3Q11 and extra supplies made available by major OPEC producers.

Crude oil prices were volatile in June, after an initial bearish impact from the collective action was tempered by non-OPEC supply outages. Early indications are that the stock release has helped realign sweet-sour price spreads, distorted by lost Libyan barrels, and flattened earlier Brent backwardation. Brent and WTI were last trading at $116/bbl and $95/bbl.
It is certainly looking like the inventory restocking pattern that has been in place may not yet be changing but we have to wait and see what happens when the 30 million barrels of SPR oil hits the US market in August.

I'm starting to think this Libyan oil may be noise in overall world production. That the SPR releases are covering supply shortfalls from depletion. Certainly, there are quite a few stories nowadays about how black market oil is funding Qaddafi, ie the Libyan oil is reaching the market, but not tabulated.

None has been released as of yesterday, but part of the oil sold will be released in the month of July.

Since about 80% of the SPR oil bought will be transported by tanker or barge, it remains to be seen just how fast the oil will reach the refineries in the northeast that bought a significant amount of oil.

As far as the part of the SPR oil bought by large Wall Street firms, that oil could quite possibly end up offshore the US as 'floating storage' (technically SPR oil is not allowed to be sold to a foreign nation).

I can't get over the irony of everyone, government included, blaming "speculators" for high oil prices, and then the gov sells some to Wall St banks.

I think, for this release, that it should only have been sold to qualified buyers - i.e. ones that refine oil. A bank buying oil is the very definition of speculation.

Since no one else can participate in the banks zero interest loans from the Fed, neither should they be able to participate in buying from the SPR.

I'd be all for boiling a few bankers in oil...

I'd be all for boiling a few bankers in oil...

That would be wasteful, if we boiled them in petro-oil, and rendered them inedible. Bernanke Burgers anyone?

"technically SPR oil is not allowed to be sold to a foreign nation"

Well, there goes my paranoid illusion of the whole deal just being a way to get funding to our NATO allies in the war against Libya (and not Syria)?

And the winning SPR bids are:


Oddly, Barclays Bank got the lowest price per barrel... a deal with built-in profit, it would seem.

You raised an interesting point re. restriction on selling SPR oil to foreign nations.
Under the IEA "burden-sharing" agreement, all members are expected to contribute during a declared emergency.

But should a serious global supply emergency arise, the political pressure to keep the American SPR for domestic needs only will be tremendous... it's hard to imagine US taxpayers accepting the sharing of their Strategic Reserve with foreigners who did not pay to fill that Reserve.

We don't have that problem in Canada, since we have no strategic reserve.
No-one can accuse us of not sharing, though I expect we will happily freeload off the strategic reserves of others when a global oil supply emergency finally occurs.

It's my understanding that at least the original intent of the IEA reserves was that they be shared with other member nations in emergencies. In US emergencies, such as with Hurricane Katrina, other nations did send oil to the US. It's my understanding that the oil was purchased, and not 'borrowed' - that is it did not had to be paid back later.

On the other hand, I am not aware that US SPR oil has ever been sent to a foreign country. I would agree that the pressure to keep the oil within the US would be tremendous. However under some provisions of NAFTA, the US would have to send oil, products, etc., to Canada if market prices were paid for them. Probably that is an event that is expected to never occur.

So it seems for now, that the US has an advantage in all situations.

Under current signed arrangements, SPR oil must be sent to Israel for at least 6 years if they need it.

Israel-United States Memorandum of Understanding
(September 1, 1975)

3. Israel will make its own independent arrangements for oil supply to meet its requirements through normal procedures. In the event Israel is unable to secure its needs in this way, the United States Government, upon notification of this fact by the Government, of Israel, will act as follows for five years, at the end of which period either side can terminate this arrangement on one year's notice.

(a) If the oil Israel needs to meet all its normal requirements for domestic consumption is unavailable for purchase in circumstances where no quantitative restrictions exist on the ability of the United States to procure oil to meet its normal requirements, the United States Government will promptly make oil available for purchase by Israel to meet all of the aforementioned normal requirements of Israel. If Israel is unable to secure the necessary means to transport such oil to Israel, the United States Government will make every effort to help Israel secure the necessary means of transport.

(b) If the oil Israel needs to meet all of its normal requirements for domestic consumption is unavailable for purchase in circumstances where' quantitative restrictions through embargo or otherwise also prevent the United States from procuring oil to meet its normal requirements, the United States Government will promptly make oil available for purchase by Israel in accordance with the International Energy Agency conservation and allocation formula as applied by the United States Government, in order to meet Israel's essential requirements. If Israel is unable to secure the necessary means to transport such oil to Israel, the United States Government will make every effort to help Israel secure the necessary means of transport.


you might be right, from what I have gleaned from reading the oil drum for the last few years and Matt Simone's "Twilight in the Desert" I am not so sure KSA ability to raise production up or down is driven by the geological imperative in one direction and that is down. My reading of events of the last few months is that Saudi needs more production to pay for the escalating threats too there regime both internal and external. It doesn't make sense to me if the world is at PO for the Saudis to limit production because they cannot influence price. The requirements of the Saudis for money at this moment seems to be escalating exponentially. As you know I live on the boarder of Germany and Holland and follow what is going on in Krautland. How many know that there is a row in the German parliament over the sale of 200 leopard tanks to the KSA for a couple of billion here or there. You don't have to have the IQ of a rock hound let alone a slug to realise that they don't want these for some re-enactment group. What also crept out of the woodwork was that Saudi has awarded a Bavarian firm Cassidian a 2 billion dollar contract for state of the arts boarder surveillance. Throw in the cost of policing Bahrain building a wall around Yemen, sorry I should have said security fence. throwing money at the populous to keep them quiet and trying to fund Egypt's deficit. Saudi to me seems in need of a lot of money far in excess of what they would earn in trying to fine tune the oil market.


I am shocked, shocked!, that they didn't buy border security systems from their good friends and allies the United States of America. We are, surely, the premier example, in all of the world, of the means and the systems know-how that provides for air-tight border security . Our industry, our jobs, and our safety depend on it, everyday. One need only casually observe how completely the Canadian scourge has been thwarted and repelled from usurping our precious homeland.

But, yes, the KSA is an American power center, yes?

If all Brazil has is an equivalent to the North Sea in a harder location to work, that doesn't seem like a game changer.

BP focuses on petroleum liquids, excluding biofuels, and their data base shows that Brazil's net oil imports increased from 370,000 bpd in 2009 to 470,000 bpd in 2010. Note that there was no change in their ratio of consumption to production, from 2005 to 2010; in both years they consumed 21% more than production, even as their total petroleum liquids production increased from 2005 to 2010.

I was under the impression that Brazil wanted to export ethanol to the US, but the US wanted to protect the US ethanol industry.
This doesn't add up with increasing imports.

Brazil has a population of about 200 million compared with 68 million for the UK and Norway combined. It also has a larger geographic area and a correspondingly higher need for transportation fuels.

These factors, together with the more difficult production environment, mean that relatively little Brazilian crude oil are likely be available for export. Most will be consumed locally.

I don't think population and land area are such a good predictor of internal demand as you imply. Although its been improving lately, Brasil is still a poor country, compared to UK and Norway I thinks its per capita demand will be lower. Also note that by producing their oil late in the oil age, the export price per barrel will be much higher than was the case with (the bulk of) the noth sea oil. Any intelligent policy would encourage exports over internal consumption (not that politics is likely to deliver intelligent policy).

Brazil oil capacity is no game changer nomatter the nature of their reserves. They are smart enough to not plan to ever export.

hill - Probably depends on who you are. A big game changer for Bz. A big game changer for China if they get a big chunk of the Bz oil tied up. And if your country can't squeeze up to the trough...yep...no game changer.

Here's a brief note from the NYT regarding grade inflation in colleges.

“most recently, about 43 percent of all letter grades given were A’s, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988...”

And you thought a college education with good grades still indicated a person's intellectual capabilities these days...

E. Swanson

Dog, for a short time I was a substitute teacher for our school district, and an "emergency tutor" so to speak - during that time I was able to study the deeper records of many students and was able to see some of the mechanisms of the collapse of education first hand for myself.

Mass delusions all around. All kinds of pretending and confusion.

I will home school my children for their post-secondary education and hopefully be able to undo some of the damage. Our universities are little more than holding pens and expensive boondoggles for the majority of 17-20 year olds - in my not so HO of course.

A Republican congresswoman wants the Energy Department to stop promoting energy efficiency to kids.


In introducing her amendment Thursday night, Adams flipped through blown-up charts of cartoons and jokes from various DOE websites, including the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s “Kids Saving Energy.”

“How did Benjamin Franklin feel when he discovered electricity? He was shocked,” she said, reading from a poster.


Yes, we need cartoons in place telling children how they can waste energy just like their parents. How about motorized 200 hp trikes, for example. The problem today is that we are not depleting our resources fast enough and there is too little carbon in the air. And we also need to get children to eat more junk food, so Michelle Obama better lay off trying to get chidlren to eat healthier.

Anyway, not sure how many more times my head can explode today before it does real damage.

Here ya go!


Tim Minchin - Fat Children (with Lyrics)

Yes, we need cartoons in place telling children how they can waste energy just like their parents. How about motorized 200 hp trikes, for example. The problem today is that we are not depleting our resources fast enough and there is too little carbon in the air.

not surprised. a good amount of them believe in the rapture, and the end times. Some of those people seem to think that the worse things are made the faster 'he' will come back.

Violating causality is like printing fiat money: Pesky reality can be modulated at will.

Remember the insinuation often made by numerous folks: There is no substantive difference between Democrats and Republicans.

To be sure, neither come close to being in-synch the with sustainability standards of many folks here.

Yet, they are NOT the //same// on numerous issues.

Where, oh, where, are the Nixon-Republicans (you know, Nixon, who oversaw the creation of the EPA and the passage of the Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts)?

Today we get the likes of Michele Bachmann running for President.

I sure the increased pollution of ground and surface waters will provide a robust business opportunity for the free market to step in and sell us more bottled water, Brita water filter pitchers, and other in-home water purification kit.

See? All better! Who said there wasn't a jobs plan!

Whoops, how much of that purification kit will be manufactured in China?

Oh well, at least the stock market will be booming whilst we chomp on Soylent Green!

China isn't the other pole, either.

China’s ‘Ant Tribe’: Between Dreams and Reality

"Ant Tribe" in China

China's "ant tribe" poses policy challenge for Beijing

This is really a tragic story. The Chinese parents see university as the ticket to happiness. They sacrifice to send their children. The dream is not real, it later turns out.

Both the U.S. and Chinese populations suffer as the corporations profit.

Money wins

Where the heck do these people come from!!??Aaaaah!

Totally agree. After spending almost twenty years working in industry I returned to University to take up a teaching career. I was surpised to see that most students were simply average and not any smarter than my work mates. Furthermore, some of the smartest folks I ever worked for did not even complete high school. This is why my son is now an industrial electrician.....mostly at my urging.

The school system is failing in North America in the same way all infrastructure is failing. It takes support and focus to educate.....and trust. Our school system has been mined like our topsoil. The nutrients have been sucked dry from the citizen patrons (tax payer). Now, 'the system' has resorted to threats of fund withdrawal for poor results and continues to shrink in all matter of support, from the family to the politician. I taught elementary school for a few years and was astounded to discover that many kids did not know their times tables. (This is what parents drilled into kids in my day. I can remember my mom insisting I do my homework before I could go out and play, and if i didn't know my mult. facts, then life stood still until I proved myself.) In my fifteen years teaching at high school, I now see most parents totally disengaged from their child's education. They talk a big message, and like to complain, but have ceased to be partners for all intents and purpose.

I hope to one day home school grandchildren. Right now, university is simply a waste of money and time....unless you need the credentials or some kind of certification. Online resources are fantastic, as well as co op programs linked to universities. There are many ways to do it and be successful. The current version is simply a scam and class system funnel. With the death of the middle class, clearly, traditional education with university focus has outlived all practical possibilities for individual success. IMHO.


Vark, that's what I would have thought, too, until I returned to grad school at a commuter University here in L.A.

Many of my classmates were in their late 20s or early 30s. (I am 53). The main thing I observed was that their grammar and spelling was kind of scary, and that their disdain for the hard sciences was absolutely terrifying. Those problems are really obvious and serious, and I don't know what the solution is.

But in terms of understanding subtle differences in theory, navigating the byzantine regulations and licensing requirements, and-- perhaps most significantly-- resolving complex moral questions where business codes conflict with professional ethics and standards of practice? In those areas, I thought my classmates were surprisingly strong. The level of classroom discussions was far higher than I had expected.

Our school did not have grades, and graduates of other programs have accused us of being insufficiently rigorous. However, I did notice that over 20% of our class was unable to meet the requirements of the program. They weren't actually failed, but they were quietly steered elsewhere. Some of the people who couldn't cut it were pretty bright, too, they just didn't have quite the right skill set or discipline.

I'm not sure education has collapsed. I do think we have some serious problems with priorities, and these are likely to escalate as we move into a very different social and economic environment.

I also think some contingency planning in education should be done to consider the possibility of shorter life expectancies. We might be facing some very complex technical problems, from dismantling reactors to inspecting decaying infrastructure, and I wonder how we train people to do all that in 2050 if cancer and infectious diseases are taking people out at, say, 50 or 60 instead of 70 or 80.

Another dilution of intellectual capacity may be due to the Internet.

If students expect information to remain easily available, they are more likely to remember where they found the information than the information itself. (like Google or Wikipedia)

But if they don't think it will be easy to find again they are more likely to remember the information itself. (which reminds me of the last scene from Fahrenheit 451)

It used to be folks turned to friends - someone who knows all about baseball, or the weather or presidents or movies. People knew who to ask.

"If students expect information to remain easily available, they are more likely to remember where they found the information than the information itself. "

That's not even a bad thing if the information is changing rapidly. Why memorize the "was only right for those two years" answer? Popping open the reference and getting the current up-to-date answer is more useful, and possibly safer.

I am in the process of searching for a new job. In this short amount of time, a 'bachelor's degree' seems to have become the new high school diploma. everyone wants their applicants to have one even if it's not needed to do the work.

Yea, when I was in the active duty Air Force, an officer had to have a 4-year degree.

Then when you are in you have it rammed up your rear that your unofficially/officially have to have a Master degree if you wanted to have a shot at being promoted to O-4 (Major).

It didn't matter much what degree you got...hence many 'Diploma Mills' sprung up to provide night-class/correspondence (now internet) Master Degrees to military folks costing exactly the same amount as Tuition Assistance (imagine that...shocking!).

Of course now that I am working with GS (General Schedule) Fed Civil servants in technical work areas, there is a cache about having a PhD...although most of the PhD folks I work with are donut-eating meeting-attending PowerPoint Jockeys!

I once heard a saying: 99% of everything is crap!

...although most of the PhD folks I work with are donut-eating meeting-attending PowerPoint Jockeys!

I once heard a saying: 99% of everything is crap!

Oh, so that's where the expression, 'Piled Higher and Deeper', comes from...

H, you must really like whatever it is that you get to do because you sure don;t have many kind words for your employer or co-workers.

I had read somewhere that Power Point has become one of the biggest time wasting tools ever introduced to the work world. Excel lets you crunch numbers, analyse data/trends etc, such that you can analyse data and chart in in less than an hour. Then with PowerPoint you get to spend another ten hours fiddling with the "presentation" of said chart, making your headings animated, adding visual sound effects etc etc, such that people hardly notice the chart anymore. And if you a consultant to the gov getting paid by the hour then you take 20hrs to do it.

I don't know if you can really blame the PhD guys for doing this - that is how they got their PhD's in the first place.

I do think the quality/meaning of university degrees has been greatly diminished by all this online crap. A four year degree meant that you attended a real university, and studied, and were immersed with your classmates and other academics etc, in a placed of higher learning, for four years. Doing a bunch of stuff by the computer at home at nights wont teach you much - unless you spend it on TOD - but there are no degrees for that.

PowerPoint is but one symptom. It's supposed to be a better view graph projector, and it can be if used correctly. But I believe that the vast majority of what people of the PowerPoint class of management do in corporations is of no value whatsoever to society or to that organization. I often drive by the empty shell of a building I once worked in. I remember all the countless meetings (with PowerPoints of course), the strategies and plans, the stress and frustration, the blaming and office politics. It was all so very important.

Except it wasn't. The plans were stupid, and obviously so, though the dutiful employees doubled down and tried mightily to make them work. A few people understood what was wrong and did something else. When we bought it out the PowerPoint jockeys were shocked. There are fewer employees now, and we don't do PowerPoint much, but we're keeping our heads above water still.

So much of those hours poured into the tools and trappings of modern business are of no value at all, and I cannot help but think that as times get tougher these ineffective jobs and functions must be cast off. It is an area that is ripe for the reduction of complexity.


Describes the MIC staff and program management World!

43% of all grades are A's?!

In 1974 I had an undergraduate history class in college with 70 other students. I tied for the highest score on our first midterm and got a A--. 27 students got D's. That severity of grading was unusual, but most midterms only had a few A's in classes that ranged from 40-90 students. A 4.0 GPA back then was a mark of an exceptionally dedicated and smart student.

And you thought a college education with good grades still indicated a person's intellectual capabilities these days...

It does. Its just that grading curves for a quality education have been changed from low proportions of As (we have high standards) to high proportions of As (our students learn a lot).

This is driven by external factors. Students and governments have required universities to switch from signalling high standards to signalling high outcomes. The consequent grade inflation is because the information society wants from the grades has changed.

If you seriously want to know just how good a student is, you look at the class ranking. Last time I saw a US transcript was a good ten years ago, but it was standard practice to include it, and any time one of my students applied for a graduate programme in the US, they would want to know what their rank was although it is generally not revealed in the UK.

Solardude: Re. "popcorn and drama"

"300 Somali children left for dead in drought" up top... still interested in watching this disaster-in-progress through to its end?

The quickening -

Minnesota - coors and miller and others out of business for how long ???? California - the mini civil war - S&P on US debt ratings - Barnacle Bill Bernanke covering his ass every which way with anything he can grab (see mish this morning), Britain pulling cash from the EU ... is the disintigration picking up pace (second derivative, right ???)?

"What a surprise, a look of terminal shock in their eyes
now things are really what they seem
no this is no bad dream."

still interested in watching this disaster-in-progress through to its end?

Right now, yeah. What else is there to do? Although I reserve the right to drop out at some point if things become too traumatic.

I know what you mean.

Btw, I didn't mean to single you out, I've said the exact same thing many times myself. But I think their will be times when I will "cover my eyes" or just stop watching. OTOH, as much as we try to avoid it, we ourselves might become part of the "spectacle" sooner or later. No time for complacency ;)

Pink Floyd

Written in the early 1970's. The lyrics are on the drop-down marked "More" on the youtube page. The music is discordant. The words speak of the uncaring consumption of the populace by the machine they are born into. It is offered that the sheep rise-up in response to this steady-state, not novel privations.

"Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air."

Goes with "Dogs", about middle management:

And "Pigs", about the top of the heap:

I think if I was forced to pick one desert-island Floyd disc, it just might be "Animals". Thanks for posting, I'm going to listen to this one again soon.

I don't see anything here about BHP Billiton paying $12.1 billion - $38.75 a share for Petrohawk.

Yeehaw! (Yes, I have a few shares of HK)

yep. My boss had already had a sell order in at $31/share but was able to cancel it on his I-phone at 5 AM this morning. Made about an extra $2,800. Timing is everything. BTW: FWIW my boss (a very savvy petroleum engineer) said BHP paid a huge premium for Petrohawk.

Yup. 65 percent premium for another one of those supposedly worthless and ponzi shale gas companies that according to some TOD editors can't possibly make any money now or in the future.

House GOP Moves To Gut the Clean Water Act


On Thursday, the House passed a bill that effectively eliminates federal oversight on water standards. The bill rolls back the Clean Water Act, returning most oversight to the states, and passed with almost all Republicans and a handful of Democrats supporting it.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 239 to 184 on Wednesday, but like many of the assaults on EPA authority this year, it's unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. Nearly every Republican supported the provision, along with 12 Democrats—most of them from coal states.

What if state 'X' has very lax water pollution laws, and their effluent flows into state 'Y' (and maybe states P, D, and Q as well?

Democrats are certainly no saints, but do you really think that a Democratic-majority House would pass something like this? Maybe if large min-able deposits of coal were found in most states I guess...

I live upstream of just about everybody here in the mountains of Colorado. So, no problem. Jeesh. Most people here are probably too young to remember when that river caught on fire in Cleveland. (I think it was Cleveland). This is just bat **** crazy.

It was in Cleveland, specifically the Cuyahoga River (KAI-uh-HOE-guh).

That incident scarred Cleveland badly (I lived there a few years). Older people, after a few beers, will mention them or their parents weeping at the footage on the local news. It will never be allowed to happen again, whether Ohio or DC is in control.

It was the fire on the Cuyahoga in the summer of 1969 (the summer I left Cleveland after living there the previous 10 years) that caught everyone's attention, mainly because it damaged one of the major railroad spans across the Cuyahoga Valley. What few people remember though, is that there had been several prior fires on the river, from the ever-present mix of wood and oily debris, with the largest Cuyahoga River fire being in 1952.

If the NHL ever wants to move the Calgary franchise, I vote to have it relocate to Cleveland, and have the team renamed the "Cuyahoga Flames". The arena could serve the flagship ale of the Great Lakes Brewing Company, which is Burning River Pale Ale.

Who are these people who think that market forces can make regulation unnecessary?


edit:Redundancy removed

One can always send a note of congratulations/disgust to a congressperson.

See how they voted here :-


While one doesn't know if one's voice makes any different at all (they claim phonecalls from constituents really matter) I try and let my congressperson know both if I am happy or angry with their vote. Most often, I get an autoresponse, but occasionally I will get a real email from a person. My congressperson, by the way, was a "nay" vote.

Of course, you are right - you are S.O.L. if you are downstream from a "yea" vote. You'll get the pollution by default.

One can see which trough they feed from at


Thanks for the interesting link.

Here is another potentially interesting link for anyone wanting to register their 'vote' on issues under consideration in the U.S. Congress:


Of course, you are right - you are S.O.L. if you are downstream from a "yea" vote. You'll get the pollution by default.

You mean like the local ethanol plant that was denied a permit to dump their waste water/fluids into the nearby Minneopa Creek that just happened to then run down through a State Park. Of course putting in a drain field would be "Too expensive for them", so they got a permit from the Minnesota State EPA to build a 6+ mile long cross country pipeline so they could dump their waste directly into the (highly polluted) Minnesota Sewer -er River. The point where they dump into the Minnesota Sewer (River) is less than a mile up stream from my farm - So when the Minnesota Sewer (river) floods - like this year - all their waste is deposited on my farm land. Oh, they made sure that where they dump their waste into the Minnesota Sewer (river) that the outlet of their pipe is well below the surface of the river so you can't see what is coming out of the pipe or get a sample of it.

As always, privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

Well, my Congressman was one of the few Republicans in the 'nay' camp.

It is a swing district whose demographics are shifting and is currently home to a large number of environmental activists with deep pockets.

But it reinforces my long-held belief that there is no shame in a committed leftist holding his nose and pulling the 'R' lever once in a while.

The alternative to occasionally supporting a moderate of the opposite party is what we have seen occur in the last 20 years, further polarization as moderates get voted out and politicians generally lose the incentive to vote their conscience.

Listed among the bill's supporters, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment,,, and my wife wonders why I'm such a cynic.

I was visualising what would happen if the National Precast Concrete Association members could dump at will into any river of their choosing.

New Commuter Rail Line used for Freight

The North Coast Railway Authority agreed to those conditions because Novato is a crucial juncture in a 142-mile route connecting Lombard in Napa County and Willits in Mendocino County. Company officials hope eventually to ship 1,800 to 2,000 carloads of freight each year

... A 2007 memo by Stogner suggested that as many as 32 trains per week could [eventually] use the route ...


SMART (Marin & Sonoma counties on north shore of SF Bay) reopened a defunct 70 mile freight line with the intention of feeding commuters by ferry and bus into San Francisco. IMHO, poorly managed and designed. But they are in a very rich area and perhaps "the process" required those frills and poor operations.

The City of Novato sued and got special limitations (see article).

It is good to see freight service on the line.

Best Hopes for reviving more rail lines,


Food price spikes, volatility not the same issue

... High food prices contribute to food insecurity and poverty, especially in developing countries, and are "strongly associated with increased political instability," the researchers say. Price volatility or variability, on the other hand, negatively affects large farmers and producers rather than consumers.

"What you find is there is a very strong positive and causal link between high food prices and political unrest," Barrett said in an interview. "People take to the streets when food prices are high."

There is a difference between price spikes and price volatility. The difference matters for the design of appropriate policy interventions. This article covers food prices but it seems to apply to energy prices also.

High prices affect consumers. Variable prices affect producers.

Energy-harvesting shock absorber that increases fuel efficiency wins R&D 100 award

Due to bumps and vibrations from normal driving, the sliding tubes or rotating generator can produce an electric voltage. When installed in a medium-sized passenger car traveling at 60 mph, the shock absorber can generate 100-400 watts of energy under normal driving conditions, and up to 1600 watts on particularly rough roads. Trucks, rail cars, and off-road vehicles get a return of 1-10 kilowatts, depending on road quality.

The electricity-generating shock absorber can be retrofitted into today’s vehicles by replacing conventional shock absorbers - in which the vibration energy is wasted as heat - without modification of the vehicle suspension structure.

Mucho thanks S: this one truly brings an honest smile to my lips. You have to love the simplicity and very broad and easy implmentation. I guess the bottom line is cost. No doubt the Chinese will do it cheaper than anyone. And I've driven on Chinese roads: beacoupe energy there, baby! LOL.

A quibble, watts is not energy!
100-400 watts isn't a huge amount. You'd get similar from a roof mounted PV panel. Still would be nice to capture, but clearly not a game changer. Wonder what it would cost to capture and feed into a hybrid system?

Hmm, not sure if its 400W per shock, or 400W all up?

Either way, the level of energy input necessary to keep a vehicle travelling at a certain speed is unlikely to be particularly high - just enough to overcome rolling and air resistance. Therefore such shocks might be very useful in ensuring good range on motorway driving.

Seems to me we are getting closer to the aircraft model of travel. Energy used in the cruise is a fraction of the energy used in taking off, climbing or landing. Therefore there is a premium on keeping the vehicles at a cruising circumstances and not having them speed up or slow down.

Which brings us to roadtrains. Cut some of the air resistance by being close to the vehicle in front, inflate the tires automatically to reduce rolling resistance, and even today's tech starts to be able to manage long distances with battery power.

Draw a bubble around the car -- where is the energy from the shocks coming from? The momentum of the vehicle is the only possible source.

Therefore, the best you could do it make mileage on bumpy roads equal that of a flat road.

No free lunch, says the laws of thermo.

Unless of course I missed something. :)

I would imagine it amounts to having a magnetic core fixed to one half of the shock, with a coil moving around it, affixed to the other half of the shock. In other words, I don't think you're adding any friction to the system, perhaps just magnetic forces.

Following on from dkastner above, you are replacing viscous fluid with a viscous magnetic field. Instead of losing the energy in the fluid you are recovering it for recycling. Hmmm, with the roads around here you would charge your batteries in a flash.


Yair...Hmm...maybe a bank of bigger purpose built units hooked up to a simple lever on a fulcrum with a float out in the surf?

ECOtality Inc. and car2go team up to bring charging infrastructure to San Diego

ECOtality Inc., a company that works on clean electric transportation and storage technologies, has announced the formation of a partnership with car2go, a car sharing service that is a subsidiary of Daimler North America Corporation. The two companies will be developing a system that will provide a large-scale electric vehicle-charging infrastructure that will be designed to support the first 100-percent electric car-sharing program in North America.

At an undisclosed point in the future ECOtality hopes to be able to put out a network of 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 18 major cities in the United States.

I read in todays issue of the danish free newspaper "Urban" that the city of Frediksborg will not mount those electric charging poles they were pallning. This will stall the development of electric cars in town. Reason: the manufacurer makes them in grey paint, while the city board want them to be green. It is so stupid, but they write it in the news so it has to be true.

Sound like Villy Søvndal of the socialist party has lost the thread again, mind you it could be any one from the left. Mind you most of the left are still in utopian mode. which sorry to say it Jedi is a cut above most of the Swedish parties who are in self destruct

2010 may be the last year I cared to go voting. 2014 I don't know if I am gonna. Vote for what? Why? They don't offer anything any more.

to lull myself to sleep last night I cooked up a transport system for my little town post-petroleum. Simple! Each vehicle has not a battery on board that has to be charged but instead a smart trailer with battery and brain, snapped on behind. When the vehicle is getting low, into the trailer switcher, out with a full one.

The brain is to allow the trailer to put no force on the vehicle by way of its own motored wheels. That is to allow total duffers to swiftly back into parking places, and not turn over in turns.

The brain also constantly reports its own position to trailer central, so that if some not nice person tries to run off with it, it calls in a guided missile containing a perfume that turns the not nice to nice person who puts the trailer back and gets a lollypop.

The battery trailers are of course charged by renewables --solar, biogas, wind, and hot air.

Back to the Future

It works! Human-powered drill strikes water in Tanzania

A human-powered drill built by a team of BYU engineering students was meant to be inexpensive, easy to operate and easy to move. Field tests in Tanzania have shown the drill does just what it's supposed to do.

Other water-drilling alternatives in the region either can’t dig deep enough or cost too much, sometimes upwards of $15,000. But the team’s device has the potential to drill a 150- to 250-foot-deep hole in a matter of days—all for about $2,000.

S - Once again nice to see some folks re-inventing the wheel. Didn't bother to hunt for it but about 30 years ago Popular Mechanics already had the sytem and it was commercially available via mail order. The drill rig fit in the back of a PU truck and a one man crew could put it up in an hour. You cound run it off of man power but the primary power source was a 5(?) hp Briggs and Stratton motor. And then run cheap PVC to complete. Then you just hook a windmill up and Shazam!...water. I almost bought one just for the fun of trying it.

Those old Popular Mechanics from the 50's and 60's I got in the garage may just come in handy one of these days.

Otherwise, you might find it here.

How to make everything yourself - online low-tech resources

Thanks S. I was once an avid PM fan but couldn't tell you if it was still being published...probably is. I found it a great source for day dreams and what-ifs. Maybe more need for such fodder today then ever before.

I have drilled 2 different wells with a hand held gas powered rig. Hit water at 42 feet and 62 feet.. Jet pumps are available at HD or TSC and will do the job from 200 ft or less. Better than paying the city for water for the garden. John


Even worse is the condition of the Arctic floating ice. The area covered today is the lowest of this date for like ever. I have saved some graphs on my lap top and can realy compare. This is record low for mid July. Right now the odds for a new record low september minimum is getting lower by every update of that chart. I look forward with worried interest to the end-of-month summary in the begining of August.



This site allows you to compare any 2 days over the last 30 years. Sobering. July in 1979 looks like April in 2011. And most of that ice is 1st year and 5 feet thinner

A few weeks ago the prediction was no record min ice extent in 2011 - the latest trend, a steeper melt slope than 2007, suggests otherwise.

My prediction - total evacuation of Santa Claus village by mid August. Maybe that will wake a few Amerkins up :-).

Here's a graph comparing the last few years, most of which clocked record lows at some time of year to that date. We have been well below all of them for at least a week.


Looks like the Northeast Passage is about to open. The Russians will be able to run tankers thru there for about 3 months or more...

E. Swanson

In particular, the straits between the Siberian coast and both the New Siberian Islands and Severnaya Zemlya appear to be open already. These opened only after other parts of the Northeast Passage were open in previous years. The navigation season should be good this year. No Somali pirates on this route either.

The Canadian arctic does not seem to be opening as fast.

What worries me about that area is the exposure of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. The longer that is open--with the sun warming it during long Arctic days, and an ever choppier, since ever more ice free Arctic Ocean mixing that surface warmth down to the mostly shallow depths there--the more likely it is that the 10,000 billion or so tons of methane down there will start bubbling up ever more fast and furiously.

As long as there is ice to melt, the water temp will be regulated near freezing. Latent heat of the phase transition is large compared to the energy needed to raise water a few degrees.

Once the last ice is gone, water temp can/will change rapidly. That's when I suspect we'll learn a lot about feedback loops.

"As long as there is ice to melt, the water temp will be regulated near freezing."

Not much if the melting ice is hundreds or over a thousand miles away.

And we are fast approaching the year when there will be virtually no ice left in the entire Arctic basin at the peak of melting season.

But yes, one thing people over look is that once the ice cap is gone, even for a few weeks, there is nothing stopping the water from heating up considerably. That will indeed be a major feedback loop.

But keep in mind that much of ESAS is only a few meters deep, the annual emissions of CO2 from human activity is about 30 billion tons, methane has 105 times the greenhouse gas power of CO2, and there are an estimated 10,000 billion tons of methane in the seabed. You do the math to tell me what percent of that methane has to be released into the atmosphere to overwhelm the amounts of GHG being put into the atmosphere by humans.

But yeah, I worry about the phase change thing a lot, too. Don't see it discussed much. Did you come to that conclusion by purely by yourself, or is there someplace that people are discussing these kinds of consequences of an ice free Arctic?

I'm sure your are right about the 1000 mile aspect -- probably a localized effect, so perhaps we can see the effect of weeks of unfrozen water on the re-freeze time as the weather changes? Does "melts early" equate to "freezes late"?

This is just purely conjecture on my part, though the phase energy part is pretty straightforward. I mostly follow ice coverage hear and on Master's Wunderground blog as it comes up now and again.

The ice (and even more the snowon top of it) reflects the sun rays, while the dark water absorbs it. So once the ice is gone, it will allow the water to absorb heat much faster. Also as long as there are floating ice in the water it can't - as pointed out above - warm up above melt point. So when the ice is gone, there will be a thin layer of much warmer water on the surface. This has to cool down before freeze can set in. Wich means a shorter feeze period, and an even weaker ice for next year. That thinner smaller ice will melt faster, extending the open water period, and leave an even shorter freeze period for the next year. And thus we end up with a new balance with a small ice cap forming anew every winter melting away in the summer. And the heat balance of the earth adjusted upwards one pin hole in an instant.

Green tech is still way over hyped and mostly a barely-useful curiosity.

I'll believe we're only 20 years away from replacing fossil fuels when I see honest information. Case in point - the article about WA state charging stations. Calling it a "major step", then it turns out to be one station every 60 miles on one freeway. I'd love to see the queues at those stations, since each "fill up" takes 30 minutes to 2 hours!

Second case in point -- electric cars. Their range is always expressed for perfect conditions. Your leaf may go 100 miles in warm weather. But what is the battery capacity in cold weather, or with the a/c or heater on? Half? Perhaps less. And how long will the batteries last when they are cycled deeply? 1000 charge cycles, or perhaps 3 years.

Third case in point -- solar PVs... maybe useful in a semi-tropical desert climate. But how about being honest and letting consumers know if your climate is cloudy you'll likely see very little energy produced.

No green tech that I've seen stands up to an honest appraisal. Our future depends on oil for a very long time.

Electrified and expanded railroads, Urban Rail, bicycling and walking all work quite well. And the only oil required is a little lubricating oil.

Despite claims by Nike, et al, walking is a well proven, mature technology.

Best Hopes for Oil Free Transportation#,


#Our future depends on oil for a very long time

And there will simply not be enough oil to go around, to continue business as usual

This seems like answering by changing the subject. All of those except intercity rails are answers to some question other than the one raised. If the problem is a dodgy 100 mile range, or a set of charging stations 60 mi apart with huge queues, then, quite obviously, walking, bicycling, short-distance urban rail, or other modes good for a few blocks to a few miles, cannot address it except maybe in some highly contrived case cooked up in a college class. Even the intercity rails, even after a major buildout, would have a major, major "last miles" problem - just as they did back in the day. (We have lots of Interstates, and yet many folks are many miles from one.)

Now if you meant to tell the questioner that he/she should expect to be imprisoned within a radius of a few walking-distance-units of home (unless he/she has copious time and money, also required for long rail based trips back in the day), that's another matter, but you didn't say so directly.

"cooked up in a college class"

Try living in a European city with real public transportation.

I could still see those charging staions as very useful. Clearly you don't want to regulkarly travel further than your max range, the time waiting for charging is very significant. But, if say you bought for EV in LA, and you've been transferred to say SF, you need to be able to get your EV there. Paying someone to transport it is pretty pricy. So take a day (and several on-route recharges) to move it. But you wouldn't want to do it very often.

Nobody said they weren't useful. They just aren't a real step toward getting off fossils. It's deceptive to even write about it. And it's denial to believe it.

"Semi Tropical", like Maine?

"We generated 388 kWhrs of electricity from our roof. That brings our six month total to 1,828 kWhrs, which is shy of getting us halfway to our normal annual ourput of 4,000+ kWhrs. Half the year remains and hopefully the extended rainy periods are a thing of the past.

The garden loves rain as do I, except on the solar roof. Now that I think of it though, the rain does wash the pollen off quite effectively - always a silver lining!"


Guy Marsden and his wife invite you to tour their home in Woolwich. It features Guy's workshop (pictured) that is heated by solar. A solar power system powers over 50% of the home and 2 home businesses on an annual basis. Solar domestic water system on the house. Solar powered lawn mower conversion. 2 Hybrid vehicles and much more.

Guy's workshop is heated via 4 4X8 ft. collectors that heat a radiant concrete floor. An 80 callon Rheem tank stores the heat. The system is augmented by a Bosch Aquastar heat on demand propane boiler. Guy further reduces demand on the propane in the coldests months with an efficient wood stove with heat reclaimer. Guy designed and installed this system himself, and wrote a detailed blog about the installation on his web site.

So how much of the US could count on as much or more Solar input as us Mainers?

Part of an Honest Appraisal is an Honest search to see whether your point is really accurate.

And as far as informing customers, solar installers are inevitably going to base the whole evaluation of what amount of collection equipment you will need on A)Your current Consumption, B)Your Targeted Consumption and C)The locality's historical InSolation data.

You've cherry picked a demonstration of what can be achieved with unlimited resources. There have always been rich people who want to make a point and don't care what they spend to do it. The question I posed is are these real solutions for this real-world economy? The answer is -- of course not.

From NatGeo: Reality: Few Oil Crisis Options

The Oil Shockwave simulation event poses a hypothetical but very feasible scenario: What if there were a serious, crippling disruption to the world's oil supply?

See also http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8134#comment-820132

S - Thanks. Still interesting...and still sad. One comment seemed reasonable at first: "But as Hadley noted toward the end of the Shockwave simulation, only long-term thinking can provide more short-term options in an energy crisis." Upon reflection: what a load of BS! LOL. If we had employed long-term strategies for energy security over the years there wouldn't be a "serious, crippling disruption to the world's oil supply". Most citizens of the industrialized world would be driving e-cars recharged from PV panels, etc, etc. Oil would be cheap, plentyful and there would be excess production capacity around the globe. If such were the case who would blow themselves up to take out KSA infrastructure?

Sort of like the old question: if you're in an airplane about to crash and have no parachute what do you do? An easy problem to solve: First, assume you have a parachute...

if you're in an airplane about to crash and have no parachute what do you do?

Thats an easy one. Goldfinger said it best, in responding to James Bonb, tied down about to be cut intwo by an industrial laser asked Goldfinger "What do you expect me to do?". Why, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!

So a bunch of ex-politicians, given a short term focused wargame, ignored it and went off to address long term issues. Well that's useful. Short term thinking when they in a long term role, and long term thinking in a short term role. Genii.

The answer is of course, rationing. No other options really exist once you have turned the SPR on. You would hope that such individuals already had a plan for that worked out, but judging by the response the answer is no.

When TSHTF, expect it to be bad, if these muppets are anything to go by.

gary - A little thing but what irritated greatly was the set they built for this dog and pony. They weren't sitting in some conference room. If you didn't see the picture they had a very sophisticated war room looking mock up. Remined me of the scene from "Oz" when they discovered the man behind the certain running the whole facade.

Perhaps what was more telling was what wasn't said: did you notice their was a much greater military presence in the group than oil patch. The attack had already happened so military defense was already off the table. I wonder how much off the record chat there was about using the military to secure "our fair share" of the remaining production?

As though UG99 wasn't bad enough.

Crop disease to add to east Africa's woes

A new, aggressive strain of yellow rust, a fungal disease of wheat, is waiting in the wings, and east Africa isn't the only region at risk.

The disease had already struck the US, Australia and Europe when, in 2010, a particularly virulent strain infested an area from Morocco to Pakistan, and spread faster than any known major crop disease (see map). Most wheat varieties in warm countries have no defence against it. Its march continued this year, with an outbreak in northern India.

When we cover vitually every speck of arable land big enough to run a tractorover it with wheat, we should expect this sort of outbreaks. Large areas of mixed species is the key to fight most bugs. We off course prefeer mono-cultures.

Wave-power ships could bring cheaper clean electricity

SHIPS that harvest energy from the waves and store it in batteries could one day generate electricity from the world's oceans more cheaply than today's wave-power devices.

The ships would sail to a suitable location, drop anchor and start generating electricity from wave energy. Once their batteries were fully charged they would return to shore and feed the electricity into the grid.

Unlike conventional wave-power devices, the ships would not need undersea cables to link to the electricity grid, ... These cables typically cost more than $500,000 per kilometre and account for a significant fraction of the cost of conventional wave-generated electricity.

...He calculates that the system should generate electricity at a cost of $0.15 per kilowatt-hour. This would make it cheaper than energy from existing wave systems, which costs between $0.30 and $0.65 per kWh. Offshore wind energy costs from $0.15 to $0.24 per kWh, and solar power around $0.30 per kWh.

How do they plan to deal with the algae, seaweed, barnacles, etc. that grow on the energy capturing device in the water? What is the life of the device, taking into account wear and tear and corrosion from salt? Are repair and replacement costs included? What does the crew do while anchored out there? It's one thing to be on a boat that is moving through the water, but another to just be anchored in one spot, meaning it will be a real test of the gut for those on board. I remember reading an account of a steamer in 1905 going from Europe to the new land (USA) and not long after the engines went out people started getting real sick. Bobbing around like a cork gets old in minutes, not hours or days.

This whole Debt ceiling thing is interesting...let's run the experiment and see what happens:


The rest of the incoming cash would cover a month's worth of Social Security ($49.2 billion), Medicare and Medicaid ($50 billion), veterans affairs programs ($2.9 billion), education and tuition programs ($14 billion), housing assistance for the poor ($6.7 billion), food stamps ($9.3 billion), and unemployment insurance ($12.8 billion).

That's where the cash runs out and the list of unfunded programs begin. There would be no money left for defense contracts ($31.7 billion) or military active duty pay ($2.9 billion).

Congress has the power of the purse, and pass the bills to obligate this, that, and the other thing, but if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. Treasury gets to rack and stack who and what gets paid and what doesn't? Potential Constitutional Crisis there?

And if the President invokes the claim that the 14th Amendment allows him to direct the system to continue to magic up money out of thin air without Congress's approval, then also potentially a Constitutional Crisis?

It would be too much to ask for to see the budget/debt think jump the tracks and be a forcing function to make the idiots of all stripes in this country confront the reality of the Limits to growth and the end of BAU...but methinks this is all political WWF theater and the 'extend and pretend' bandwagon will continue on...

Too Big to Fail?

The gas platform that will be the world's biggest 'ship'

Shell has unveiled plans to build the world's first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform. The 600,000-tonne behemoth - the world's biggest "ship" - will be sited off the coast of Australia.

At Samsung Heavy Industries' shipyard on Geoje Island in South Korea, work is about to start on a "ship" that, when finished and fully loaded, will weigh 600,000 tonnes.

That is six times as much as the biggest US aircraft carrier.

... Mr Gilmour said the vessel had been built to withstand category-five cyclones and even a "one-in-10,000-years' storm" producing 300km/h (185mph) gusts and 20m-high (65ft) waves.

see also http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell/our_strategy/major_projects...

I wonder how many solar PV panel frames and supports could be manufactured from ~ 600,000 of metal in this this ship?

Maybe, say, in Northern Africa to export trons to Europe?

Can't do a direct comparison of raw materials, tons of steel and tons of silicon or whatever strata you choose plus the mounts. However does anyone have handy how many BTU's to make a ton of steel and how many BTU's to make say a 1kw PV panel and mount?


I am often a poor communicator it seems.

I meant to say: use the steel in the ship for the steel posts and steel framework to mount the PV panels on, as well as for steel electricity transmission towers and so forth.

I did not mean to imply converting steel into silicon, or that the NG 'ship' was composed of significant amount of Si, or anything like that.

I am assuming that whether PV is mounted on rooftops, in deserts, or over parking lots or wherever, that steel is a likely material to use to hold the PV panels off the ground/roof/etc/ as it is strong and easy to make/well-understood and relatively cheap.

One could also do the mind game of imagining how many 3 MW wind turbines could be constructed from the steel used in this ship (Of course We understand that other materials than steel would be necessary).

Your communication skills are fine, re-reading your original post I was the one not paying attention.

Aluminium mostly for PV racks (especially on roofs), steel for structural supports. I used anodized unistrut and steel poles for 3 of my arrays, 'cause I had it.

There was this amusing post some month or two ago with some calculation related to the pipe-dream of covering a desert with PV panels - it wasn't even a fraction pseudo-erected before the world's entire production of aluminum or steel was consumed in the support hardware. Really put it into perspective, I thought ...

I remember that, and never bothered to try to do any calculations myself to fact-check it...I have this unfortunate need to have a day job!

I am a bit skeptical though...I thought I have read that the entire U.S. electric demand could be satisfied by a PV array of 100 mi x 100 mile (statute miles, I guess).

So, OK, let's put aside the legitimate discussions about the siting, environmental impact, all-eggs-in -one basket vulnerability to terrorism or natural disaster, transmission infrastructure and losses, all-eggs-in-one-basket vulnerability to cloudiness, the nighttime problem, and on and on, and talk about the steel poles and frames (Aluminum if you want as well, although steel is cheaper, no?).

Keep in mind the 100x100 miles could be broken up into a large variety of smaller installations distributed around the country, but back to the metal support and frame materials required issue:

It just doesn't seem to check that we wouldn't have enough steel for this...given the vast amounts of steel we seem to have had no problema putting into roads, bridges, dams, and buildings (and runways) as rebar...the steel we have in Navy and civilian ships...the steel we have in various pipelines....the structural steel members we have in buildings and bridges..light poles...guard rails...railroad tracks...steel casings in wells...on-shore and off-shore oil rigs...automobiles...locomotives and rolling stock...etc...etc.

It just doesn't seem that we would not have enough steel for open-lattice frames and poles spaced at the required distance to anchor the arrays to the ground.

I would wonder if the amount of steel required for the towers for wind turbines to make an equivalent amount of electricity would not be more than for the PV supports and framing.

Heck just bicycling in the country, most farms have a lot of rusting steel just lying around, old fences, trailers, culverts, longdead tractors and cars, rusting out roofing on abandoned outbuildings etc. I'd hazrd a guess that maybe 1% of US farmland area is wasted by this sort of crap. Then look at the industrial areas that ring most metro areas, acres of junkyards with lots os rusting stuff. I remember reading at least a dozen years ago, that the area of pavement in the US was larger than the area of the state of Ohio. And Ohio is much much larger than your 100by100.

Some of the calculations use wildly wrong guesses of the amount of materials involved.


Given the chronic political instability, violence, and fanaticism in various parts of North Africa, who, in Europe and in their right mind, would ever even think of relying on such exports on a scale large enough to make any difference?

This brings up a great question, building the worlds largest anything pretty much ensures it's a terrorist target. What do you suppose happens when that target is a platform 124 miles out to sea sitting at a fixed point? Would not even need suicide bombers just load the boat set the gps and walk away. Guess the same is true for anything already out there now though.

Defence force to transfer military bases to north-western Australia in seismic shift

.. THE biggest shake-up in the nation's defences in decades - transferring military bases to north-western Australia to safeguard from threats from China and India - has been flagged.
Concerns over a need to protect Australia's vast energy reserves from the emerging Asian giants and a push for closer defence ties with the US are driving a review of our bases.

The review is expected to propose bases such as Puckapunyal and Garden Island, in Sydney Harbour, are scaled back significantly.

Thousands of military personnel would move to Perth, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville, where huge new navy, air force and army bases would be built at a cost of billions of dollars...

No specific mention of terrorism (or the beastie platform) but I'm sure it's part and parcel..

Australia's defence policy since WW2 has been that if someone (meaning Indonesia) invaded the northwest of the country, let them come, and let the deserts of the red centre do the work to stop them - as you know from having been there Ghung, there is a LOT of of nothing there. This whole strategy assumed that the populous SE corner was what they were after.

Now the Aust gov have finally realised that what they are after is what is in the NW - massive amounts of iron ore, various other metals, lots of NG, coal, uranium, diamonds and so on, rather than overpriced real estate in Sydney.

If a country made a successful invasion in the NW, then the (well trained and equipped, but relatively small) Aust defence force would be faced with going across/around the desert to evict them - the plan in reverse.

Even without the LNG ship, this change was going to happen. With China moving towards a real blue water navy, and getting their first aircraft carrier ready, and with increasing piracy in the waters around Malaysia, and already massive $ value of exports from NW Australia, this is not really a surprising move.

It will also cut down on the number of boat people coming from Indonesia, and that is not a bad thing either.

The trouble is the best resources and water supply are in the NW but the population wants to live in the SE. Sport, arts, education, the theatre, restaurant dining etc all seem more civilised in the temperate zone rather than the humid and stormy tropics. The aftermath of a proposal to pump NG across the continent eventually lead to the collapse of the Australian government in 1975 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loans_Affair

The flow of illegal immigrants by boat has slowed since they've been told they will go to the back of the queue in another offshore camp. Most of the NW resources will go to Asia anyway at cheap prices. So far this arrangement seems stable but I can easily see it going bad i.e. SE Australia saying we need the resources not Asia.

I don't think there is that much water in the NW - more the N. Supply of water in the Hamersley range (where the iron ore mines are) is a big deal (was the subject of my masters thesis, back in the day), and the coastline is pretty dry until you get to about Broome (by memory)

I agree most of the resources are going to SEAsia, at what will one day seem like bargain basement prices. But, presently, there is not much scope for Australia to use them. How much, if any, smelting of iron ore is left in Australia? Without a big rollout of NG vehicles (something I would like to see, but I think is unlikely), then what else would all that NG be used for?

I would like to see the Australian trend of export raw materials and import finished, reversed, but how likely is that? When the imports aren't available, Australia will just have to do without, as the capacity/experience/knowledge to make stuff will be long gone by then.

Sport, arts, education, the theatre, restaurant dining etc all seem more civilised in the temperate zone rather than the humid and stormy tropics

I beg to disagree.

Alan from New Orleans

You can disagree, of course, but are you basing that on New Orleans?

Perth is only one degree of latitude higher than NOLA, and Brisbane, at 27 deg, is two lower. But the area we are referring to here as "the north" is from about 25deg to 10 deg - that is truly "in the tropics"

NOLA may get hot and humid summers, and hurricanes, of course, but it is certainly not tropical.

Perth, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville

I noted that all four are on railheads. Darwin on a straight line north from Alice Springs and Perth on the longest straight stretch of rail in the world across the desert.

Rail access is required for cost effective development and support in peacetime and a strategic asset during war. Perth (a very civilized city of about 1 million) already has a naval base.


Best Hopes for Australia,


The lights are on, but they're dimmed real low...

House Votes to Withhold Funding for Light Bulb Law

WASHINGTON — The House voted on Friday to withhold funding to enforce part of a 2007 law that increases efficiency standards for light bulbs.

The new standards, which would require most light bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2014 and at least 60 percent more efficient by 2020, have become a symbol of what conservatives see as an unnecessary intrusion into the market by the federal government.


Republicans have complained about the cost of the more efficient bulbs. A Philips Halogená Energy Saver, for instance, costs more than $3, while traditional incandescent bulbs are about 35 cents.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/16/business/house-votes-to-withhold-fundi...

With regards to the higher cost of these more efficient alternatives, the Philips EcoVantage line of incandescents comply with the new federal standards and are roughly one-half to one-third the cost of a Halogená ES, however, their nominal service life is no better than that of a standard household incandescent, i.e., 1,000 hours versus 3,000 for the Halogená ES. If CFLs don't cut it for you and LEDs are still too expensive, or for whatever reason you want to stick with an incandescent light source, the Halogená ES is well worth the extra coin.


United States recognizes Libyan rebels as legitimate government:

32 killed in Syria protests:

""Tens of thousands of Damascenes took to the streets in the main districts for the first time today, that is why the regime resorted to more killings,""

"security forces killed 14 protesters outside a wedding hall where the conference had been due to take place"

"1,400 civilians have been killed"

"In the city of Hama, scene of a 1982 massacre by the military..."

"At least 350,000 people demonstrated in the eastern province"

This is still nothing compared to the U.S. policy of maintaining drug prices for our friends in Mexico. But it is amusing to note the difference between the treatment of Libya's politics and Syria's politics.

This is not left VS right, Liberal VS libertarian... this is money. Blood and Oil

Middle East in WWI: Blood and Oil
Part 1 of 2:
Part 2 of 2:

I am very surprised these are still up.

More Mexicans fleeing the drug war seek U.S. asylum:

"More than 9,300 people have been gunned down, mutilated and beheaded in the grim industrial powerhouse south of El Paso, Texas, since early 2008"

... hardly makes the news anymore

Let us all take a moment to feel sorry for the US banks that have to launder all that filthy, filthy money.

Assault on Brega, Libya by Revolutionaries

After months of stalemate on the eastern most front (of three fronts), the quiet has been broken. It is, of course, uncertain if this will develop into an all out assault, or if this was just a probe.

Earlier reports indicated 5,000 to 6,000 Qaddafi troops with declining morale and limited resupply were in Brega.

NATO has been reporting destroying a vehicle or two plus a "command and control" or military supply depot every day around Brega. Slow but steady attrition.

Brega is considered a key oil center, with pipelines from the interior reaching the sea there. Refinery and off-shore oil loading port there.

The best news compilation I have seen on Libya.


Best Hopes for a Quick Liberation of Libya,