Drumbeat: July 25, 2011

The scourge of 'peak oil' : When demand for oil consistently surpasses supply, experts warn that our lives will look "very differently"

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

Yet oil is a finite resource. While there is no argument that it won't last forever, there is debate about how much oil is left and how long it might last.

Tom Whipple, an energy scholar, was a CIA analyst for 30 years - and believes we are likely at, or very near, a point in history when the maximum production capacity for oil is reached, a phenomenon often referred to as "peak oil".

"Peak oil is the time when the world's production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again," Whipple told Al Jazeera. "Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about."

Testing oil potential

Cessation of oil production in Libya has refocused attention on an important question with no easy answer: How much oil can the world produce?

Domestic Demand to Corner Saudi Oil Exports: Experts

As Saudi Arabia continues to grow rapidly, the dilemma of sufficiently meeting domestic and international crude oil demand becomes one that would lend credence to believers in higher prices down the line, experts and analysts told CNBC.

Growing Saudi consumption for its own crude cause for concern

The surge in the Saudi domestic crude consumption is generating ripples all around. With the region in the midst of hot and humid summer, this could be straining — ultimately — the delicate, global demand/supply balance.

As per the IEA, the world's biggest crude exporter looks set to burn a record average of 600,000 barrels per day of its own crude in 2011, limiting exports despite an increase in output.

On a hot day, up to 1.2 million barrels are be needed by Saudi power plants to meet electricity demand. Interestingly the difference between peak and trough Saudi direct crude demand increased from about 180,000 barrels per day in 2002 to 2008 to about 660,000 barrels per day in the years since 2009 — apparently a consequence of a changing life style!

Mideast fuel oil inflows to E Asia to fall

Middle East fuel oil supplies into East Asia for August are expected to fall drastically from high levels of the past two months amid easing demand from China, traders said.

So far, only 400,000-450,000 tonnes of cargoes from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait have been fixed for August arrival, down from more than 1 million tonnes for each of the last six months, Reuters data show.

The big bets that the debt fiasco will raise oil prices

Oil traders are betting as a herd that they are on the cusp of potentially their most profitable period since the Libyan uprising stoked fears of Saudi Arabian oil being lost to the market. Hedge funds, among the biggest players in oil futures, are leading this charge, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which tracks such data. They have upped their bets on a serious rise in oil prices three weeks in a row -- the first time that has happened since late February-early March, Reuters reports.

We care about this directional betting because, if the hedge funds are correct, the global economic struggle faced by everyone except China will worsen. Plus, tens of billions of dollars will flow to petro-leaders -- in Russia, Venezuela, Iran -- whose behavior turns increasingly more discourteous when they are richer.

Anders Behring Breivik: Suspect 'targeted North Sea'

The man accused of the Norway massacre included North Sea oil and gas platforms and BP's Aberdeen base on his potential list of targets.

Anders Behring Breivik detailed in a 1,500-page manifesto how he could carry out such terror attacks.

Debate Intensifies Over Climate Change Aspects of Canada's Oil Sands Pipeline

As the State Department weighs approving an oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas, experts are divided on whether the Keystone XL project would worsen global warming.

The split opinion is coming to a head, as the House considers a bill speeding up the approval process for the $7 billion pipeline and the State Department readies release of a final environmental assessment in August. In the middle are protesters, analysts, researchers and industry officials floating wildly different numbers about the greenhouse gas impact of the the TransCanada proposal.

Iran-China oil trade runs smoothly - Beijing sources

(Reuters) - Iran's oil trade with China, its biggest crude buyer, has not suffered the problems hampering its exports to India, Beijing-based oil industry officials said on Monday.

Chinese companies first started paying in euros for their Iranian crude in 2006 and have also considered payment in yuan, the sources said. There have been no problems with payments, they said.

Cyprus: Energy crisis to ‘plague us for some time’

THE energy crisis caused by the destruction of the main power station will plague the island for quite some time but a total blackout is a very remote possibility, a top energy official said yesterday.

Yemen to Put an End to Fuel Crisis by Weekend - Minister

Minister for Trade and Industry, Hisham Sharaf, said on Saturday that the acute fuel crisis will come to an end by this weekend, as long queues of cars are still seen near filling stations across the country. In a statement to Al-Thawra Daily, Sharaf said the government has already started supplying benzene to all cities as a first step towards ending the fuel crisis.

"The government imported 90000 tonnes of oil as a first step to tackle the acute fuel shortage in the country," he said, pointing out that Yemen needs 8000 tonnes of diesel a day, with the Secretariat Capital portion estimated at 140000 tonnes.

Entergy To Refuel Vt. Nuclear Plant, Trial Awaits

NEW YORK -- Entergy Corp. said Monday its board of directors voted in favor of refueling its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vermont, despite state government objections.

America: Why Aren't You Protesting

As noted by Richard Heinberg on June 22nd, 2011, the media has lacked the ability to connect the economic situations in the Middle East and their uprisings to what is happening in Europe. I would avoid the word "Revolution" in the case of the Middle Eastern uprisings, seeing as no dramatic systemic changes have taken place, only the ousting of dictators. Same as I would avoid the words of social upheaval in the case of European protests, which have been quite calm and only demanding to maintain the social safety nets produced through years of labor struggle. Rather, the odd occurrence is the ostensibly quiet population of the United States who are in many cases having the same economic problems and austerity based government solutions. This a place where the media does want to ask the public the question, "Why aren't you protesting?"

Richard Heinberg - Conservation: There is no alternative

Energy conservation is our best strategy for pre-adapting to an inevitably energy-constrained future. And it may be our only significant option for averting economic, social, and environmental ruin.

The world will face limits to energy production in decades ahead regardless of the energy pathway chosen by policy makers. Consider the two extreme options—carbon minimum and carbon maximum.

Review: The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg

The limits-to-growth debate began in 1972 with the MIT report of the same name. That seminal study concluded that without preventive action, sometime early this century the global economy would collide catastrophically with hard ecological limits. No one acted, and now the economy is, in Heinberg’s judgment, trapped in a rut from which there’s no escape. Heinberg is a leading authority on one critical natural limit precluding further growth, that of oil supply—on which his The Party's Over is a standard reference. In this new book, he argues that industrial economies are on the eve of a great contraction. Though we may see temporary revivals of growth hereafter, even ones lasting entire quarters or years, the overall trend line will be pointed steeply downward.

Can economic growth last?

The figure above shows the rate of global economic growth over the last century, as reconstructed by J. Bradford DeLong. Initially, the economy grew at a rate consistent with that of energy growth. Since 1950, the economy has outpaced energy, growing at a 5% annual rate. This might be taken as great news: we do not necessarily require growth at a physical scale to maintain growth in the economy. But we need to understand the sources of the additional growth before we can be confident that this condition will survive the long haul. After all, fifty years does not imply everlasting permanence.

Bill Mckibben: Burning up over our energy policy: Choose solar over carbon fuels -- or brace for more severe heat

On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced he was handing over $50 million of his own cash to the Sierra Club, to be used in the fight against coal-fired power. Coal - along with oil and gas - is global warming's primary culprit. We burn it, the Chinese burn it, everyone burns it.

But we don't need to, it turns out. The other blast of cool air comes from a City University of New York study released in June that used an airplane equipped with a special laser mapping system to show that New York City could provide half the power it needed from rooftop solar panels. It looked at the size, shape and angle of every roof in all five boroughs - it even calculated how much shade trees were casting. The study concluded that two thirds of the buildings in the five boroughs had suitable roof space for solar panels. And if New York, which has one of the most compact footprints on Earth, can provide half of its power from the sun, it could become a worldwide model of clean energy.

Kurt Cobb: Fly me to the moon (and let me mine among the stars)

Several years ago a young boy asked me during a presentation if we might be able to pipe in oil and natural gas from the Moon or other planets. I thanked him for the idea and explained that the cost of a pipeline would be far greater than the value of any oil and natural gas we might find.

But dreams of exploiting mineral wealth on other celestial bodies lurk not only in the minds of young boys, but also in the minds of intelligent and completely sane adults. The most recent iteration of this dream comes from scientists working on fusion energy. It turns out that helium-3, a rare isotope of helium, may be useful as fuel for fusion reactors. The very small quantities of helium-3 available on planet Earth are a byproduct of the manufacture of hydrogen bombs using tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Ironically, one of the advantages of helium-3 in fusion reactors is that it lends itself less to weapons proliferation than tritium, the decay of which is the source of helium-3. In addition, helium-3 fueled reactors would produce no radioactive waste.

Oil at $120 Becomes Biggest Energy Bet

The biggest bet in the oil market has become a 20 percent increase to $120 by the end of the year as global growth drives demand for raw materials.

The number of contracts held by traders in options to buy West Texas Intermediate crude at $120 a barrel in December totaled 45,502 lots on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of July 21, 4,226 lots more than the next-highest wager, which is for $125. Open interest in the two contracts jumped 29 percent in the past four weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil falls to near $99 as US debt talks stall

SINGAPORE – Oil prices fell to near $99 a barrel Monday in Asia amid investor concern that the lack of an agreement among U.S. lawmakers to raise the country's debt limit could trigger a default and damage the global economy.

Benchmark oil for September delivery was down 81 cents to $99.06 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose 74 cents to settle at $99.87 on Friday.

Price of gas jumps 8.5 cents in past two weeks

NEW YORK — The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose for the first time since early May following an increase in the price of crude oil, according to the latest nationwide Lundberg survey released Sunday.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was slightly more than $3.70 on July 22, an increase of 8.58 cents in the past two weeks, according to the survey of some 2,500 gas stations in the continental United States.

After IEA Experiment, What's Next for Oil Prices?

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) announced yesterday that it would not continue releasing oil reserves into the global oil market.

The decision last month to release 60 million barrels from member strategic reserves, with 30 million coming from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR), did have an initial downward impact on oil prices.

But that turned out to be short-lived.

Kerosene out of reach for oil-rich Nigeria's poor

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- It's been five months since Toyin Felix last cooked dinner for her family in her kitchen. The price of kerosene is so high this mother of four now builds a fire outdoors with wood instead.

Iran says India owes it $5 billion for oil imports

TEHRAN: Iran said on Monday India's latest payment balance on crude oil imports from the Islamic state stands at $5 billion, the official IRNA news agency quoted the governor of the Central Bank of Iran as saying.

Syria Holds Hundreds at Protests as Cabinet Approves Plan for New Parties

Syrian security forces arrested hundreds of anti-government protesters as the Cabinet approved a draft law that would allow new political parties to exist alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Baath party.

Iraq To Export 10,000 B/D Of Crude Oil To Syria - Official

AMMAN -(Dow Jones)- Iraq is about to reach a final agreement with the Syrian government to start exporting some 10,000 barrels a day of Iraqi crude oil to Syria and gradually increase that amount, a senior Iraqi oil official said Monday.

"We are in the final stages of reaching an agreement to start exporting to Syria," the official told Dow Jones Newswires.

Qatar to sell liquefied natural gas to Malaysia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Qatar's state-run Qatargas says it has agreed to sell 1.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually to Malaysia, locking in its first major customer in Southeast Asia.

Dow Chemical Will Build $20 Billion Petrochemical Plant With Saudi Aramco

Dow Chemical Co. and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. approved a plan to build a $20 billion petrochemical plant at the Persian Gulf port of Jubail as Saudi Arabia seeks to process more valuable products from its crude.

All eyes on the kings of black gold

This week the oil majors report their earnings for the first half of the year. What impact will there be for the Middle East and especially Abu Dhabi?

BP Breakup Could Unlock $100B, JPMorgan Says

Robert Dudley could unlock $100 billion for BP Plc investors by following ConocoPhillips and splitting up Europe’s second-biggest oil producer.

BP, trying to recover from last year’s Gulf of Mexico disaster, has lagged behind its three larger rivals this year, rising 1 percent in London even as oil peaked at $127 a barrel. Conoco’s decision to split its refinery arm from its exploration and production business led analysts at banks including UBS AG, Bank of America and JPMorgan Cazenove to recommend BP look at a similar move.

GE Profit Beats Estimates as Finance Unit Blunts Energy-Profit Drop

General Electric Co. (GE) posted second- quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, buoyed by its finance unit, as the industrial order backlog rose to a record.

Michigan Lawmakers Call Auto Mileage Proposals ‘Overly Aggressive’

Michigan’s congressional delegation has warned in a letter to the White House that new automobile fuel economy and emissions standards being drafted by the Obama administration are “not reasonably feasible” given the state of current technology and consumer buying habits.

Time for an energy policy

In the early 1980s, the government of Brazil decided it didn’t want to be dependent on the OPEC countries. Instead, it began researching what could replace oil. There were a number of alternatives, but that country went with ethanol made from sugar.Now new cars and trucks, including those produced by Detroit’s Big Three, must be able to run on this alternative fuel or on oil.

It wouldn’t have happened if Brazil hadn’t forced it to happen. That type of mandate is what is needed here, and it now looks like something may actually happen. Two months ago, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House “to insure that new vehicles enable fuel competition so as to reduce the strategic importance of oil to the United States.”

Who will ride an alternative to 'market-driven sprawl'?

Leavitt and high-speed rail supporters believe that laying down infrastructure will give communities something permanent to cluster around. Their transit systems will have renewed value as people realize they can cross the state without ever getting in a car.

If a city can reorient itself around a subway line, the argument goes, the state can reorient itself around a high-speed train.

BP still stained by Gulf of Mexico oil spill

BP, still pulling itself out of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, may need to redefine its strategy as it posts disappointing earnings.

Less than 10 percent of oil spill uncollected

MARSHALL - A year after one of the largest oil spills in the history of the Midwest, cleanup crews still toil along the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan - and it won't surprise some regulators and residents if they remain working in a more limited capacity next summer and beyond.

Threat to Japanese Food Chain Multiplies as Cesium Contamination Spreads

Radiation fallout from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant poses a growing threat to Japan’s food chain as unsafe levels of cesium found in beef on supermarket shelves were also detected in more vegetables and the ocean.

Japanese support PM's call to do away with nuclear power: poll

TOKYO (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Japanese support Prime Minister Naoto Kan's call to do away with nuclear power, a media poll showed on Sunday, underscoring growing opposition to atomic energy in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Powering Japan's future

Last year, Japan produced close to one quadrillion watt-hours of electricity — that's 1 followed by 15 zeros. The vast majority of that — which translates into one billion megawatt hours (MWh) — came from coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants operated by 10 utilities that, only a few months ago, seemed unshakably powerful.

Now, though, Japan's energy future looks quite different.

Solar power forecast to pay dividends for residents

Dubai residents could begin selling solar power to the grid in two years. No regional government has established large-scale financial incentives for renewables, despite ambitious targets.

Solar panels help cool buildings, says study

As well as providing a source of alternative energy, roof-mounted solar panels could also have the extra benefit of cooling the house or workplace on which they are fitted says a new report.

Energy efficiency plan: Hire someone else to pay the bill?

FORTUNE -- For owners of older office buildings, the promise of smaller energy bills is a big enticement, but the way to better energy systems is a big mystery. And it's this confusion that's got Steve Gossett working hard to become the overwhelmed landlord's best friend.

Gossett's company, Transcend Equity, pays all the landlord's energy bills. It also devises and pays for major capital investments to make a building more energy-efficient. In return, building owners pay a fixed fee to Transcend.

Price of dinner foods up almost 5% in one year

The "Food at Home" component of the recent consumer prices report surged almost 5% on an annual basis as grocers passed on to consumers the 12-month jump in corn, rice, sugar and oats.

Food Prices to Stay High Amid Underinvestment, Climate Change, IFAD Says

Global food prices will remain high as underinvestment in agriculture over decades has left supplies unable to meet demand, according to a United Nations agency.

“We are just depleting our stocks and now we have this high population growth,” Kanayo F Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, said in an interview. “Prices won’t come down overnight. They are going to stay high for some time to come.”

In Philadelphia, Going Green or Growing Wild?

The judge stared at the photographs. They looked like weeds, but they had botanical names. This tall woman (she is 5-foot-11 in her bare feet) looked perfectly sane in her clean, pressed trousers and tailored blouse. The fine was canceled, and Ms. Ruddick went home and began searching for a gardener who could bring enough order to her yard-gone-wild to forestall another summons and to allay neighbors’ fears about declining property values.

“You have to allow a certain amount of mess to create a habitat,” she said. But “it also pushes a boundary that’s very uncomfortable: the sloppiness and the ugliness, the awkward moments when things are cut” before “it starts to get its own shape.”

Poorer countries lead global movement toward low-carbon power -- study

Poor countries have spent just as much as rich ones -- and in the case of China, more -- to develop low-carbon energy, according to a study coming out this week. Its conclusions could turn the conventional wisdom about the differences among nations over mitigation efforts on its head.

Capturing greenhouse gases

When it comes to fighting climate change, most people think about shrinking their carbon footprints by reducing the amount of the heat-trapping gas, or carbon dioxide, generated when they flip on a light switch, drive a car, or put on the air conditioner.

But scientists and policy makers have long been intrigued by a larger-scale approach: the idea of removing carbon dioxide - separating out the greenhouse gas from the exhaust coming out of the flues of coal plants or other sources, and keeping it out of the atmosphere. The Department of Energy has sunk millions of dollars into more than a dozen projects aimed at the problem, through a program that funds risky but potentially transformative research.

Carbon capture and utilisation could make economic sense

Many countries are investing in techniques of utilising CO2 for manufacturing processes – but UK is getting left behind.

Nuke power is so obviously good it needs to have people watch the Internet and put forth positive messages.

Friday, July 15, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.

What's the project?

“Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project” stipulates that, “The Contractor is required to monitor blogs on nuclear power and radiation issues as well as Twitter accounts (monitoring tweets is essential) around the clock, and conduct research and analysis on incorrect and inappropriate information that would lead to false rumors, and to report such internet accounts to the Agency. The “Contractor” is required to keep the Agency well informed on the internet accounts and keywords used in the blogs and Twitter accounts that are posting incorrect and inappropriate information. The Contractor is required to maintain sufficient number of personnel for around-the-clock monitoring. The Contractor is required to submit reports on internet accounts via CDR.” The document, however, does not state that blogs or Twitter accounts, which run afoul of METI’s guidelines, are to be banned or frozen.”

Orwell? Such an optimist!

Newspeak. Monitors. Doom. Ha ha. And it is not the Big Guv - Big Brother - but the industry and trade groups that are doing the monitoring. LMAO. Orwell was a little wrong about who would be behind it.

In Japan, METI is the "Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry", and it is indeed a government department, so Orwell was a little right. And really, it should surprise no one if it doesn't function as a Department of Economic Suicide; probably they've got other agencies for that.

Ah collusion. But in my reading of 1984 -- business was not on the radar. It was a manifesto about government mainly.

Writing from 1948, as Orwell was, he obviously had not much of a clue about the impending IT revolution and it's use by the PTB for prying and information gathering about the populace.
Had he, I can't help but think that 1984 would have been an even bleaker "futurecast".

Are you being tracked online?

You really have no idea where your "digital fingerprint" is being monitored.

In 2011, the boundries between business and government are blurred at best.


They were blurred. Now they no longer exist as any one company or group can drown out all but a massive revolt with more cash then one single person will see in their lifetime but is only a few hour's if that long worth of profit for them.

Why 1984, will not be like 1984...


Soon to be, if not already, the most valued company on the Planet.
Apple's market value will rise to USD 480 billion over the next 12 months, surpassing Exxon as the most valuable company on earth, according to the updated price targets from analysts following the iPhone-maker`s blockbuster earnings report this week.

Eat your Heart out, Mr Gates.

The Martian

Eat your Heart out, Mr Gates.

1) Bill Gates and Bill Gates dad will outlive Jobs.
2) Gates and AppleBASIC is what beat the Apple Cloners. Without Microsoft wining - the Pineapples and Franklins would have been able to keep making clones.

Neither Jobs or Bill Gates are virtuous humans.

Neither Jobs or Bill Gates are virtuous humans.

Agreed. Which is why I use and support Linux. Specifically the Debian ( http://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst ) distribution.

Wise men think alike ;) I've been a debian user since 2001 and have never repented a moment in my life.

Though, nowadays I keep my depression off the bay by playing music on AVLinux (a debian based realtime high-end audio-specific distro).

What I found interesting about that story is...how many of us expected that in the age of peak oil, Apple, a maker of expensive toys, would become more valuable than Exxon, the world's biggest oil company?

Might tie in with the legend (myth?) that no chocolatiers went out of business during the Great Depression.

Might be time to buy some Nintendo..

...how many of us expected that in the age of peak oil, Apple, a maker of expensive toys, would become more valuable than Exxon...

Well, when I was working as a systems analyst in the oil industry, and I got my hands on the first Apple II, it seemed like an obvious development. The Apple was a real computer and could do anything the four stories of mainframes in our giant skyscraper could do, albeit on a smaller scale. Unfortunately, many of the other analysts disagreed and ultimately they found themselves flung on the scrap heap of history as the oil company downsized.

However, when I sat down in a meeting with the IBM sales reps and said, "You know, these PC guys are going to eat your lunch," it went over badly. I ran the numbers for them and they still wouldn't believe it - denial of the obvious is a painful thing to watch. At that time IBM was synonymous with computers and its people thought it would go on forever. I've never understood why most people can't see where things are going.

I've never understood why most people can't see where things are going.

There's always a thousand people telling them a thousand different prophecies. None hundred of them are completely nuts. Ninety are credible sounding but wrong. Most people aren't too good at sorting out the good from the bad, so they are dismissive in general.

In the case of salesmen for a product threatened by technological change: Not only do they have a vested interest in BAU staying the same, their job success requires them to reassure potential customers that sticking with BAU is the correct strategy. They have probably convinced themselves, as a way to more convincingly convince their customers. Of course they are sales types, very attuned to smoozing with customers, not to hard analysis.

I've never understood why most people can't see where things are going.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

You have to have been there, and taking in all the information then available
... and not using any information that future-you will come to know.

It's a whole different ball game when the now-in-time you doesn't know what future-you will take for granted as an "obviously it had to go that way" piece of information.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and not much help. Foresight is what is useful, and most people don't seem to be able to see what is coming. I've never been able to understand that, because a lot of trends advertise themselves long in advance of when they occur.

I think mostly it is because many people don't want to believe what is going to happen to them, and use all kinds of illogical reasoning to deny the obvious. Of course logical reasoning is not most people's strong suite anyway.

A lot of people i talk to when i share with them whats coming automatically dismiss both ends of the spectrum thinking the truth is always the combination of both.

I can't help but imagine these same people in early nazi Germany as part of the groups of 'undersirables'(not just Jews, other non Christians and non-aryain looking people) they herded to the concentration camps all the while trying to convince people on the trains that while those films on how nice the places were might not be true, the rumors of them being death camps are defiantly NOT true.

The possibility of things being bad or worse then claimed is so alien to them that well it won't be pretty when reality hits them with a clue by four.

I don't want to go down the path of why didn't the Nazi's victims see it coming (although,as a member of "2nd generation" I might be well equipped to do so --basically, the Nazi's lied and their lies were convenient I-wanna-believe you lies; yes it's just showers and after that everything will be better, the sun will rise tomorrow, trust us, we are civilized people, always have been)

Instead, let's go back to the topic of the micro-computer and why didn't IBM see that coming?

At the start of the micro-computer revolution (I'm talking Intel 4004, 4040, early 1970's) those devices were extremely, extremely slow and expensive and hardly anyone foresaw the exponential rates at which performance would go up and price would go down, not only for the micro-processors, but also for the associated memory devices and communications.

If you had told me, back in the 70's; while I was loading data into a bunch of magnetic "core" beads that one day there will be a thing called an 8Gb flash drive stick that you plug into your USB port so you can save your "internet" data, I would've fainted. Too much future shock. It was unimaginable back then.

I saw an add for 8gb flash drive cufflinks today. I remember using punch card memory and thinking it was clever. How some things change. I kept a random dice rolling program I had for several years - it had maybe a couple hundred lines. The punch cards only weighed a few pounds.

I remember being in awe of those who had gigantic programs, taking several trays (2000 cards each) to store their source code. You really knew who the real macho programmers were by the size of the cart it took to haul the program around!

I remember early eighties, reading in a tech magazine (paraphrase) "It is possible technically to puch microprocessing technology to the point where the equivalent of a CRAY-1...But it will never happen, the economic cost to get there is too high". And I was thinking what I profound tragedy, that we would forgo the possibility.....

Well it only took about twenty years, but know we are far far beyond that, and rather than using them (mostly) for fantasic scientific discoveries, they are mostly used for music sharing and cyber-porn.

Don't despair too much.. they're also used for EVERYTHING else, too. (Including TOD and DOOMER Porn!)

My brother writes some beautiful graphics art programs on them, people do the bookkeeping and desktop publishing for mom and pop businesses.. they run hardware, sonograms, cad/cam, industrial robots, AND they are used in fantastic scientific research!

I was filming preschools for an Ed Research program this last year, and aside from editing, duping and processing my vids on a couple laptops, (and billing, scheduling, labelling, organizing, etc..) the classrooms also had their PC's linked to the Eagle Nest WEBCams in Iowa and such, when they weren't using them for teachers or kids..

There's a LOT of amazing stuff we ARE doing with PCs.. as no doubt you know.. but just to remind.

people do the bookkeeping and desktop publishing for mom and pop businesses

What many forget here in their 20/20 hindsight recounts of the PC "revolution" is that there were a handful of "killer" software application programs that made the PC a vital part of the economy:

1) the spreadsheet
2) word porcessing
3) email
4) web browser

Try de-installing one or more of the above from your PC and see how much fun the heat generating contraption then becomes.

The plastic looking card, went into the slot in the desktop and the screen flicked and there was a picture of a ship, and it was fly through space and the voice over said. S TA R T RE K

TA RE ... Tear your eyes away from the building across the street and back into the future of mankind in the pages of your Science Fiction magazine story.

How many people Know how the Pyramids were built? Is that hind sight working well in that regard?

We do have clues to what will be, what could be, and what might be, but we Have to look outside boxs that we build around ourselves and never seem to want to get out and look at the whispers of the out there is different world.

Above someone said, 1,000 differnt predictions, could any of them be right on the money, but would have gotten lost in the noise of the others. Yes, or maybe not.

The first time I saw a slot drive for the 3.5 floppy ( harder than that but the term was what I still use ) disk. I knew, the things in the future were going to amaze and zoom along faster than I could think about it. Then I went back to whatever it was I was doing and let the world go by.

Peak Oil is just as bad, no one seems to think that maybe we won't drift into the dark ages again,, could a future people still be able to build the Pyramids, without Oil? Well Duh, they did it once..

BioWebScape Designs.

I recall that back in 1984 I had a conversation with the Treasurer of Intel who at the time thought that there was a good chance that IBM could go under. He understood the implication of exponential growth of PC computing power. Like every exponential function the end is clear the timing not so much. In 1991 my IBM Rep. asked me whether she should take advantage of the stock option plan. I told that would be a mistake. I pointed out that her boss the first person to have direct contact with customers was actually 6-7 levels down in the management chain. If only 60% of information gets through at each level- IBM senior management was essentially operating on background noise. IMO they could not have been saved by an insider and the board made a great decision by going to cookie executive to become CEO.

Intel is a classic case of seeing what is coming and taking steps to change the company's business plan. Former CEO Andy Grove documented this in his book Only the Paranoid Survive ("Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive."). During his tenure the stock price increased 2400% rather than crashing in the face of Japanese competition.

Only the Paranoid Survive

Under Andy Grove's leadership, Intel has become the world's largest chip maker and one of the most admired companies in the world. In Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove reveals his strategy of focusing on a new way of measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads--when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside.

OTOH, IBM is a classic case of seeing what is coming and crashing into the iceberg in Titanic-like fashion anyway. Their experts saw what was coming (it was obvious to an expert) but they failed to do anything useful about it. Fortunately IBM has since redefined itself as a services company rather than a hardware company, but it was a bad experience for a lot of employees who lost their jobs in between.

Grove's book is interesting because it talks about strategic inflection points. Peak oil is an example of a strategic inflection point, and one that will affect most people, but most people don't see that, or even know what a strategic inflection point is.

That's a good point. Even in our evolution paranoia kept us alive, do you really want to risk that rustling in the grass nearby to be more then or less then that?

but it was a bad experience for a lot of employees who lost their jobs in between.

I was fortunate. They raided my department, hiring many. But, I was a square peg, and they couldn't figure which round hole to put me. All my coworkers who were hired were later laid off. And as far as I could tell, they were never allowed to do anything useful for the customers.

Yet IBM has done well, and still has high profits and stockmarket valuation. As far as I've seen of them, IBM is such a waste. They hire the best people, and have awesome tech, but they just can't deliver a decent end product because of the way they are run.

1967 - U of Ill. an IBM rep at the spring job fair told a group there that "the bloom is off of the computer rose..." no IBM jobs that year for those in Prof. Turquette's graduate math/symboligic logic group, who were until then heavily recruited.

With that view, in 1967, it is little wonder that not so many years later the bloom was off of the IBM rose, so to speak.


Apple's bread and butter is not personal computers now, though. It's toys: music players, smart phones, and such.

Apple is an entertainment and fashion business. There is lots of money to be made there.

Not an endorsement for Apple. I used to be strictly PC based solely on economics. Most of my lab is PC due to the hardware the PC's operate. Nonetheless, after a couple of bad Lenovo experiences - back to back mainboard and fan problems - I went to an Apple laptop. I am impressed by the OS and its ability to run MS windows or Linux natively. I like the Apple OS -- very slick interface.

So now I feel that the price premium is worth it in terms of usability and durability. Other perks are excellent interfacing with printers and networks and no virus issues to boot. All the Apple hardware is field tested and vetted to work on the OS. No hardware glitches to speak of.

I agree with the fashion accessory critique, but the laptops and computers are first class products.

The down side (which is a virus upside) is that less software is available on Mac. Oh well -- the price you pay for a pretty nice virus firewall.

After years of working with PCs running Windows or Linux I now own only Macs and use VMWare to run Windows and 2-3 flavors of Linux so that I can mimic any computing environment I want.

The speed of Ubuntu Linux running virutally on my Mac laptop is surprisingly good and I do some pretty compute intensive processing at times.

One piece of hardware but as Many OS/software combinations as I want. In "fusion" mode I even get to have software from different OSes share the same desktop!

Virtualization is mature and really quite amazing.

They've always put great effort and expense into quality. Twice a did major rewrites of a mold injection simulation program to make supercompuer sales to Apple. When you do plastic mold injection, there are seams where the plastic fronts merge, that leave an almost imperceptable surface blemish. Apple did the engineering to make sure those seams always ended up on corners where it would be impossible for anyone to see. Those computers cost several million bucks. All for a minor quality increment few would ever notice.

Apple is in the business of being in new businesses, and being in them first, before the competition turns them into a commodity. That is where the really BIG money is to be made.

The problem with that is that they have to be able to see what is coming, and as I said, most people don't know how to do that. Apparently Steve Jobs can see what is coming, so I don't know how well they will do after he is gone.

Apple is in the business of being in new businesses, and being in them first,

Yea, because Cromanco and Altos weren't selling microcomputers 'till Apple showed up.

before the competition turns them into a commodity.

Yea, that is why the Newton was far more successful than the Palm Pilot.

Apparently Steve Jobs can see what is coming

Would this be the same Steve Jobs who designed computers without cooling fans (Apple ///) Who claimed the Mac would be the Education Computer (desktop publishing saved the Mac) who claimed that education/publishing would save the NeXT (Banking and others who wanted rapid software development)

The same Steve Jobs who's business investment Ross Perot called his worst ever?

Certainly. But few of us guessed that entertainment and fashion would be more valuable than oil in the peak oil era.

IBM's disbelief ran into their core - another interesting story that can be told is how they squandered their proprietary hardware schematic and base operating system. As it was, the PC (Apple 2 & 3, IBM-PC) was becoming prevalent, and the Intel 80286 had just been released, IBM crunched their numbers and determined that there would be only several thousand PCs to ever be sold, and together with the ISA Bus architecture being inferior to their newly engineered PS/2 MicroChannel bus (however true, still used today), they essentially put the ISA architecture to the public domain along with the BIOS (base input output system) in turn enabling the "IBM clone" industry - and subsequently, Microsoft's fortune.

Had IBM not done this, Microsoft would probably not ever had the capital to pull off what it did later - since there would have been no proliferation of IBM clones and the resulting income from its bundled MS-DOS operating system. Apple would have probably been a greater player, and the world would be much different than it is today. How much different, only the wildest visionary can say!

Corporations run the world - the future studies of the Anthropocene age will undoubtedly factor in their role.

The ISA Bus was really not IBMs. It was really the pinouts of the Intel microprocessor without much additional logic.

That's a good point, more or less, but IBM still developed the ISA architecture - there's more than just leading the lines out to the peripheral chips.

From wikipedia.org

The ISA bus was developed by a team led by Mark Dean at IBM as part of the IBM PC project in 1981.


Do a google search, look for "ISA BUS PUBLIC DOMAIN" and you'll get scores of links. It was this being struck dumb that IBM lost the entire 90's and aughts to Microsoft.

Check out this link, talks about the public domain aspects of the bus.

IBM thought that they could control the PC business in such a way that PCs would not eat into the markets held by their existing (and highly profitable) product lines. Their plans went awry because of developments that they could not control:

- third party companies developed chip sets that allowed PC clones to be constructed that that had improved performance and lower manufacturing cost;
- the semiconductor companies came out with new microprocessors such as the i386, which were both much faster than previous microprocessors, but still provided backwards compatibility for legacy software. This gave companies such as Compaq the opportunity to take advantage of the new processor developments to leapfrog IBM's own products.

There is an interesting book, the Innovator's Dilemma, which gives case studies of companies that thought they could continue to dominate their comfortable market niches only to see them shrink or disappear. I'm reminded of an editorial by a writer in an electronics trade publication. He worked in the vacuum tube department at RCA in the early 1960's. Nobody was worried by the threat of semiconductors, after all, sales continued to increase. What they didn't notice was that the sales were increasing because competitors with more foresight were exiting the business. Of course there is the point where further gains in relative market share can't mask the fact that the market is disappearing.

The human mind is very good at interpreting reality in selective and often imaginative ways to find arguments and evidence (confirmation bias) that one's decisions were correct and that your plans will turn out favorably.


Affordable luxury goods, which confer status on the owner, sell well to lower socioeconomic classes.

Long ago the Bell System introduced Touch Tone dialing to replace rotary dials. It struck a bargain with the regulators to charge extra per line for Touch Tone on the rationale that this would result in more affluent customers paying for the cost of modifying central offices for the service.

Some years later, a study was done in Chicago to study who was paying for Touch Tone. More Touch Tone was being purchased in lower socioeconomic areas than in higher ones.

Higher socioeconomic folks saw Touch Tone as only a functional improvement that wasn't really worth the price, while they saw no value in Touch Tone as a status good.

Interesting unexpected benefit to the phone companys. Later analysis showed that the touch tone equipment was saving the companies money by shorter usage times on the expensive equipment used to make the connections.

I thought it was a rather clever marketing move by the telephone companies to charge extra for something they needed to do anyway. The telephone companies introduced Touch Tone because their old pulse dialing systems were too slow and unreliable, and the maintenance costs were too high.

It was like disk brakes on cars. The shops (I worked in one) used to charge extra to do brake jobs on disk brakes despite the fact it was a lot easier to replace disk brakes than drum brakes. Similarly, the auto shops cleaned up on automatic transmission repairs despite the fact that the parts in a Chevy 2-speed slushbox cost about 1/5 of those in the Swiss-watch-like Japanese 5-speed manuals.

You bring me back memories. My folks were the holdouts on the rotary dial service, it was well into early 90s before they were forced to switch (and by then it was free). In 1985, there was the new "phreaking" movement where one could dial into the newfangled long distance services, punch in a finger-hacked code, and charge a call to an account. At about that same time, I was loaned a modem that didn't just rotary dial, but could touch-tone as well which enabled me to dabble with "phreaking" too. First I'd dial out in rotary, and with the appropriate script waiting the right amount of time, have the borrowed modem switch to touch tone and finish the sequence.

It wasn't long, however, before the original owner wanted it back to do his thing again and it wasn't but a week or two later the police pounced. Our area department established their first computer crimes policy from that moment - there were several people swept up in the dragnet - I was pointed at but they had no evidence or trace of me doing the deed - besides - we had rotary dial only - so how could it have been me?

Sometimes an inconvenience becomes a convenience indeed!

When Touch Tone was first introduced, the Bell System was equipped with Step by Step, Panel, No 1 Crossbar, and No 5 Crossbar local switches almost exclusively. Retrofitting Touch Tone to these systems was fairly expensive - hence the rationale for charging. Only after the No 1 ESS stored program controlled system was introduced was the cost of Touch Tone receivers plus the holding time cost through the network lower for Touch Tone than pulse dialing. Note that the economics of tone dialing between switching system were different, and multi-frequency dialing with different pairs of tones had been introduced earlier.

This story seems fitting:

Consumers Want iPhone 5, Sight Unseen

So frenetic is the fever pitch that 35 percent of nearly 3,000 US consumers surveyed online said they would buy the iPhone 5 upon its release later this year

apple has become a religion plain and simple.

Apple is the short of the century, if you have the stomach for it. Most of us have seen this all before with the tech bubble. Amazing what short memories we have.


I personally don't have the stomach for it anymore, so I'm hoarding gold and silver.

I would expect exactly that, because the eMergy value of a unit of Apple stuff far exceeds the eMergy of a unit of oil.

1984 is a love story, period. A touching little one. The backdrop is all the stuff you folks are talking about.

'Period?' So certain are you?

The backdrop seems to have been pretty important to Orwell, considering his other writings.

To paraphrase, 'Bread is just a vehicle for butter.' It seems to me the love story is just along for the ride.

A love story may be the sub-genre but the topic was about how the Big Bro controls our daily lives. We extend that logic to corporatist/Big G control, which is what we actually have today. I was just saying that Orwell underestimated the corporatist contribution to the whole problem.

I think Huxley's Brave New World is more fitting to where society seems to be headed.

My opinion is that globally we are not head to a '1984' type of society, but more of a 'Brave New World' where people go for comforts, 'tuning out' (soma) and the latest status symbols [i.e. apple toys, hint hint ;) ]

...Unless TOD can reach a critical mass of 10% of the populace (per the study also mentioned in this drumbeat's comments).

I assume you are joking. Yeh, and Animal Farm was about agriculture. The truth is that the vast majority of people are just fine with big brother everywhere. Security concerns win every time.

True enough. In speculative fiction, necessary but unfulfilling work often tends to get done magically or for unstated reasons, with no tawdry incentives required. Or the story background might be that business is cartooned as gang activity, or that such work is done by slaves or robots.

Yeh, but who watches the Watchmen, Paul?

Who is writing the policies that these so-called "nanny representatives" are lording it over us with?

Pharma is writing drug laws,

Oil Industry has been framing energy policy,


Our Marine Resources Commissioner just resigned, telling the State in an open letter about Governer Paul Lepage, and his eagerness at letting Industry forge public policy..

" I spent the first decade of my professional career deeply involved in fishing and fishery management. I new the challenges of dealing with entrenched groups, particularly those who have taken public resources for their exclusive use, and who can intimidate lawmakers who question such exclusive privilege."


"In addition, the Governor has adopted a policy of prohibiting me from attending meetings that he has with industry members, even those for whom I initiated the meeting request. I learn the outcomes of these meetings -- and his positions on the topics that they raise -- from a staff aide who reports to me whatever she feels like reporting."


"I still find it amazing that a tiny faction of industry members seeking to protect their state-granted monopolies over a public resource -- perhaps a hundred and fifty out of some 12,000 marine resource license holders -- and signing pre-printed letters, can trounce a supposedly iron-willed Governor. But, clearly, they have done so."


"I leave with regret for the people of Maine, who have allowed public resources to become the private domain of a select few, and especially for those other Mainers who have been prevented from earning a living."

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, Paul..
Obey your thirst.

I worked for a consultant in the security industry years ago. We were doing security for government installations. At the time electronic intruder detection was in its infancy so there weren't many people who understood the technology.

Providers of equipment used to write the specifications that they tendered on. Of course, the specs were worded in such a way as to disqualify their rivals. But the purchasing agents weren't to know this.

Coming from the world of civil engineering where specs are very standardised and open, so that any contractor can tender on them, I was horrified. But my boss said that's the way it's done in that industry.

I have no doubt it's the same with any new technology. If you can control the architecture (e.g. Microsoft, Cisco, etc. you have a built-in advantage).

Who's Really Writing States' Legislation?

Nichols, a political reporter for The Nation, recently wrote the introduction and co-authored two in a series of articles about the relationship that state-based legislators have with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to draft model bills that can then be introduced at the state level of government. An archive of ALEC documents was recently leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy.

Fresh Air N.P.R.

No one watches the watchmen.

There aren't enough hours in the day, or in a thousand lifetimes of days, for an ordinary citizen to keep any sort of track of the hundreds of thousands of pages of petty impenetrable bumf churned out by the "watchmen" every year. And the customary binary up-or-down election-day vote communicates little in the nature of feedback; it's too crude and almost not worth the effort. Thus the old joke that “You might be an economist if... you have a bumper sticker that says ‘I’m an economist so I don’t vote.’” The upshot is that it all must be and is mediated through one-trick ponies ranging from Greenpeace to the API and beyond, with the interests of citizens utterly lost in the noise, since government has overreached so comprehensively and complexly that no conceivable alternative could be practicable. One very common outcome is called "regulatory capture".

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The framers of the Constitution had intended to mitigate that by limiting the role of government, but their concept has been trounced thoroughly by the more hip notion that every whining, sniveling crybaby is owed a brand-new thousand-page Federal law to use as a hankie to sop up the crocodile tears. One of the many side-effects is that we see vast quantities of legislative and regulatory-agency time squandered on matters such as dictating from thousands of miles away how curved a cucumber may be before its sale is banned, or what style and color of light bulb J&J6P shall be compelled to use, or whether the old UHF TV knobs were "too hard" to use (cry me another river) - even while anything of importance tends to get shoved aside.



"The framers of the Constitution had intended to mitigate that by limiting the role of government, but their concept has been trounced thoroughly by the more hip notion that every whining, sniveling crybaby is owed a brand-new thousand-page Federal law to use as a hankie to sop up the crocodile tears."

To the extent that you actually believe that this is the biggest problem with government, you are very confused, or delibarately obtuse.

Nice use of trigger words though. "Hip" - it's hip to be unhip in right-wing land. "Whining, sniveling". "Hankie to sop up crocodile tears". Nice projecting. Did you get this crap in today's email briefing of talking points from the RNC?

Honestly, you tend towards a caricature of right-wing wackery from time to time, but sometimes you go right on up and over the top.

Pharma is writing drug laws,

Oil Industry has been framing energy policy,

True. But as long as it is not illegal to install home PV, a person can choose, at great effort and expense, but still has the choice, and run their devices independently of Big Oil or gov't.

For my thought, I am meaning 100% independent power, not grid-tied.

Currently no one blinks to buy a car, or fridge. Perhaps (my wish) someday people will 'simply' just go buy or add PV to supplement or entirely power their needs.....

It will be soon. look at the many third world countries that on the behest of water bottlers made it illegal for residents to dig their own wells. the police on their payroll would come by and fill them with cement along with what little plumbing they would have.

as long as it is not illegal to install home PV, a person can choose, at great effort and expense, but still has the choice, and run their devices independently of Big Oil or gov't.

For my thought, I am meaning 100% independent power, not grid-tied.

Right here, right now, in the county where I live, it is ILLEGAL to install PV that is not grid-tied.

Please say more.. I don't remember where you are from.

PV doesn't need to be illegal to keep it from happening enough.. just dismissed and patronized properly keeps people buying 'real' energy.

As long as Joe Barton thinks he has to apologize for how 'mean' congress is to BP for their little accident, a mighty chunk of the country will likewise be similarly bamboozled.

Listen.. it's the sound of the 'Invisible Hand' clapping!

I wonder who TOD's 'fission minders' are going to turn out to be?

We will know when they start posting in broken English. :)

Say "hello" to Fascism!

l prefer the definition given by Mussolini:

"16) We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state. We stand for a new principle in the world, we stand for sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy, plutocracy, free-masonry, to the world which still abides by the fundamental principles laid down in 1789. (Speech before the new Na tional Directory of the Party, April 7, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 120).".


A complete and total blending of business and government!

A complete and total blending of business and government!

Interesting to note - most of the US government structures are also Corporations.

That's a great article, but it seems that there's something 'out there in the mist'.. and even if it's very poorly defined, as is the elephant by the blind men, it's not necessarily a sigh of relief, eh?

The wiki has that image of the Hammer/Ax that is tied to the bundle of sticks, 'fasciare' , fastened .. and as with any hammer, it's really a question of what you're going to hit with it.. it's like Shiva, the creator/destroyer.

This is a very scary report indeed. The MInistry of Industry and Trade is fighting back against the common people who (many of them I have spoken to) are willing to do without a lot less electricity rather than endure deadly radiation. And where does it stop? Obviously they will start to collect names, figures out who is who....and then what? The next step is for them, another logical one, you target the loudmouths and use persuasion.

There is one professor at Kyoto University who has been publicly opposed to nuclear power his whole career. This professor cannot get tenure but is instead kept as a low level assistant professor---even though he is respected in his field and is getting on in years too. His field, I believe in nuclear engineering or physics...The system has X-ed him out and silenced him in whatever way it can.

But nevertheless, there are some pretty capable people on our side too working on the alternative energy message.

Why can't this report be interpreted as an attempt to push back against rampant disinformation that has been accepted uncritically and is against the public good? One way or another, regardless of opinion, there are fundamental facts and truths stemming from the physical sciences and laws which apparently are difficult to convey (even here at the oil drum I see sound arguments, sound refs and sound info, made repeatedly and in detail, which take time and effort to convey, yet the next day I see the same erroneous, one paragraph appeals to fear and emotion, sometimes referencing outdated and/or clearly discredited research. Given human nature, appeals to fear and emotion are the simplest to make and the message improves through repetition). Those who defend the data have their work cut out for them.
I hope the Ministry sticks to clear, referenced info. The truth trumps and it is a failure of humanity when as a collective whole we cannot accept it.
Even if we choose ultimate not to pursue nuclear power ( which I believe will not be the case) it is in our best interest to make the decision upon a foundation of accepted facts. Disinformation campaigns in either direction are a blight.

It would be great to think that this will not be more of the "Fox guarding the Henhouse".. but I'm afraid we have to look to relevant historic behavior to sense which is the more likely path.

This is not a 'Hard Data and Honest Truth' commission, as much as it would like to be that and I'm sure it has members who only want to present honest info.. No, it is Spin and Damage Control to protect a Massive Investment that has shown many routes by which it can both Topple and Age disastrously.

Entergy just chose to refuel VT Yankee, against the refusals of the State Legislature.

" Vermont is the only state in the nation with a say on
whether a nuclear reactor within its borders can continue

"... Nuclear safety is a federal responsibility and the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has already determined in
March 2011 that Vermont Yankee was safe to run for another 20
years until 2032, but the state still wants it shut."

".. The NRC has never denied an application to extend a
license, having already renewed licenses for 71 of the nation's
104 reactors, including Vermont Yankee. "

.. Hmmm.. I wonder if the 'States Rights' movement (by Industry Lobbyists) will continue forward if States keep insisting that they will actually USE them if they get them?

Its amazing how silent all the traditional "States Rights" advocates are on this.

IMO it is hard time that liberals and few authentic conservatives (as opposed to right wing fanatics who call themselves conservative but in fact are anything but conservative)joined forces on States right. IMO it is the only way we are going to save American Democracy. The Liberal affection for the Federal Government is based on a Federal Government that no longer exists.

It's all in balances..

'The Liberal Affection for Federal Government' is a bit of a media myth, a popular conceit.

Representation at all levels has been targeted and massively manipulated by private money and industry influence. It's gettin' on time to clean out the closets, I expect.

errg.. I'm stepping clear.. this topic is probably more flammable than religion and population combined. I'm going to keep insulating the house! Something real..

Written by Seagatherer:
Why can't this report be interpreted as an attempt to push back against rampant disinformation that has been accepted uncritically and is against the public good?

Because the disinformation has come from TEPCO and the Japanese government. They have constantly downplayed the extent of the nuclear disaster.

Japan to test-drill for seabed 'burning ice'

Japan will seek to extract natural gas from seabed deposits of methane hydrate, also known as "burning ice", in the world's first such offshore experiment, a news report said Monday. The test is scheduled for a stretch of ocean southwest of Tokyo, between Shizuoka and Wakayama prefectures, over several weeks in the fiscal year to March 2013, the Nikkei financial daily said.

Jeez...is it really a smart thing to take a poke at the tsunami gods like that?

Good question! Has anyone ever successfully extracted commercially significant quantities of methane from methane hydrates? Wouldn't there be a serious danger of explosion in such endeavors?

Poking around in the soft seabed for hydrates would not likely trigger an earthquake. Anyway they would not likely explore in the depths of the fault. There are millions of square miles of seabed that are located nowhere near the fault line that contain plenty of hydrates.

No, no one has ever extracted commercially commercially significant quantities of methane from hydrates though Japan has been talking about it for years. And no, there would be no serious danger of an explosion. There is no oxygen down there to feed any explosion.

Ron P.

No explosion obviously. But what about pressure depletion? Say we get a little gas-macondo down there? Given how those clathrates is held in place solely by pressure and coldness, and you have to reduce pressure to get it out, is there not any risk for "a rift in the space time continuum" in the gas pay?

The methane hydrates are held in place by the overburden of silt. If you remove that silt then they should float to the top. But just the ones where you removed the overburden from. If you suddenly removed an acre of silt, or a few acres, then the hydrates uncovered would float upward, very slowly, and would create a ripple at best.

The real danger lies in the warming of the seas. If global warming causes massive melting of the hydrates then the gas will escape and burst right through the silt overburden. Such a massive release of methane into the atmosphere would dramatically increase the global warming rate.

Ron P.

you also have to remember not all the seabed is flat. hypothetically speaking if the field they are looking at is on a slope mining the hydrates underneath the overburden may cause that overburden to shift. if the shift is large enough it 'could' cause trouble. it's a valid risk since they will be mostly digging in the dark other then knowing where the hydrates are.

It's also a symptom of how far things have gone for people to turn to risks such as this. you have a risk it could cause tsunami if it's in the wrong area. you have the risk that it might destabilize the bed causing it to float up and melt causing what ever is above it to sink as well.

The pressure of the ocean water is a big factor in keeping the hydrates in place, too. In Doug Erwin's book Extinction he talks about the implications of sea level regression destabilizing continental shelf clathrates, and how the two factors (sea level and [CH4] stored in continental shelf areas) change in tandem over [geological] time. Doug himself did lots of work on regression in the 90s--it was his favored model for explaining the P/T event for a good while, and starred in his earlier book on the same subject (The Great Paleozoic Crisis).

I lent someone that book so I can't extract any references from it at the moment, but suffice it to say, water depth is crucial.

And temperature

I think the fear is more of releasing large quantities into the atmosphere, or destabilizing beds in such a way to spark an underwater landslide which could trigger a tsunami, as seems to have happened in the (distant) past.


The Japanese used the "MG Hume" semi-sub to drill several holes in 1999 to confirm methane hydrates. This was around the time of falling oil prices, Looks like the idea was put on the back burner, and has now been pulled out of the bottom draw, due changing events.

Only for Dirk Pitt.


Got here late for this one, obviously.

I have read some speculation that a methane release triggered perhaps by an earthquake or underwater landslide could create a (short lived)column of bubbles in the water sufficient to lower it's density enough to cause a boat or even a ship in the wrong spot to sink, perhaps very abruptly.

This sounds reasonable to me-a large iceberg like mass of clathrate floating slowly up would likely boil off to vapor very abruptly when it reaches a depth where the pressure is no longer adequate to hold it in the solid phase.

I don't believe there would be any problem associated with cooling effects associated with expanding gases, as the sea water would serve as a massive heat donor, keeping the temperature up to the ambient water temp or very close, as the column of bubbles rises.

Any thoughts from oil and gas pros who have experience with the behavior of gases in water columns would be appreciated.

OFM - There have been many extremely large craters that have been found in the GOM ocean floor and elsewhere that have been attributed to gas eruptions. I believe some have been thought to be due to the presence of large amounts of methane clathrates, others to conventional gas. Sorry, not able to get refs where I am presently but they should be easy to find. This is stuff found by geologists on deep surveys etc.

OK - Mark Lynas' 2008 book "The Six Degrees" (which received the Royal Society's science book of the year award for 2008)references about 22,000 arctic seabed methane clathrate explosion craters (the largest of which is about 750 km2 in area).
The violent gas bursts appear to result from slow bacterial degradation of methane to CO2. The CO2 permeates the methane clathrate structure, ultimately destabilizing it when the CO2 acts to promote methane gas nucleation.

I have read some speculation that a methane release triggered perhaps by an earthquake or underwater landslide could create a (short lived)column of bubbles in the water sufficient to lower it's density enough to cause a boat or even a ship in the wrong spot to sink, perhaps very abruptly.

Using air, Mythbusters demonstrated the myth could not be confirmed.

BUT, you have to realize methane is lighter then air. so that might make all the difference.

I remember there was a platform that sunk due to loss of buoyancy when it drilled into a shallow high pressure gas deposit that subsequently blew out the ocean floor - there is good video footage on utube - I can't remember the name of the platform though - North Sea IIRC.

Sea - It also happened to a semisubmersible rig dilling off the coast of La. in the 70's. NG leaked up around the conductor pipe and caused the loss of buoyancy and sunk in several hours. No one board understood what was happen. Same situation happened several years later and they new what to do: let go the anchors and had a work boat tow them off location.

Hi Rockman,

So speaking purely speculatively, do you think it is possible-not proven of course- that a gas eruption might be responsible for the unexplained loss of a boat in at least a few instances?

There are a lot of suspicions that it has. ISTR there have been many tank tests that have shown that. One problem with boats is that only part of the boat needs to be affected then it can break its back as parts try and sink while others stay afloat.


Japan has seen a fair bit of human- and naturalborn destruction in it's (recent) history. It seems it wants more of that in the form of nearly irreversible climate change. Craving for hardship perhaps?

Do we as a human race well in releasing every geologically stored and reasonably accessible carbon atom into our thin, fragile atmosphere? Do we really want to go there? 4 degrees warming, 6 degrees warming, even more? All that to sustain that luring pot of gold on the horizon called economic growth...

Do we as a human race well in releasing every geologically stored and reasonably accessible carbon atom into our thin, fragile atmosphere?

When projects to address Carbon are only 30% effective (70% goes to overhead) - why should the Human Race agree to such projects?

Perth Australia to Plans to Shift Transportation towards Oil Free Modes


A half dozen years ago, Perth finished expanding and electrifying their commuter rail network

download pdf map from here

Stylized map of train and ferry services

Western Australia is a major LNG exporter and Perth buses run on compressed NG.

Perth plans to add Light Rail lines as well in the new plan.

Best Hopes for Western Australia,


Hope is a muscle - a muscle that Perth is exercising

The official plan can be downloaded from here:


2.4 Mb

Two factoids - Transit ridership has grown 67% in the last decade and commuter rail trips are 44% of all transit riders, up from 10% rail pax of a much smaller transit ridership in 1990 - before the "electrify and expand" investment.

IMO This shows that good investments will change behavior

Since commuter rail trips are typically much longer than bus trips, the majority of passenger-km are on electrified rail and the balance on compressed natural gas buses.

220 km of new rail are planned - a mix of extending commuter rail lines and new light rail lines.

Hope should Translate to Actions,


Metropolitan Perth has a population of 1.7 million. All of Western Australia has 2.3 million. So this is not a giant metropolis.

Considering global economic trends and Western Australia's natural resource base, the population of Perth could easily double over the next 20 years, so they need to be prepared for that to happen. Expanding the rail systems is probably the best method of dealing with its transportation issues.

The public transit system in Perth (1.7 million people, 330,000 rides per day) has lower ridership than equivalent-sized systems in Western Canada - e.g. Calgary (1 million people, 500,000 rides per day) and Vancouver (2 million people, 1 million rides per day) - so there is considerable scope for improvement.

Australian cities are culturally more similar to Canadian cities than American cities, so there won't be the same resistance to public transit as in the US. Canadian cities typically have 2 to 3 times the transit ridership of American cities.

Today, Perth is just an electrified commuter rail (like Long Island RR, MetroNorth and PATH in NYC) and CNG bus system.

Adding Light Rail is an obvious next step and should increase transit ridership substantially. In most cities, Light Rail comes in first, and then commuter rail.

In a growing area, TOD should pop up quickly around stations.

Best Hopes for Perth,


Kunstler could have used one of Fred's graphics this morning to highlight this apt description of our situation, here in the US:

In order to conceal the reality of epochal economic contraction, they have run our money affairs off a cliff - and so the next sound you will hear may not be of things hitting walls and fans, but of a sickening crash, as the overloaded carriage of government (drawn by a scrawny coyote) spirals down into the Canyon of Lost Causes.

"Monday, Monday....Can't trust that day."

Sorry, I do not have access to my graphics software from where I am today... but that would make a nice picture for sure, perhaps an animation might be even better! Beep! Beep! Zooooom!

I've always believed that the most significant improvements with respect to energy efficiency and carbon emissions will occur at the municipal or local level; case in point:

Towards energy self-sufficiency at a wastewater treatment plant
Wastewater treatment plants are a classic application for CHP, as the fuel, power and heat loads are all present. Here, Ed Ritchie reports from one plant which has also added solar PV, on-site wind and hydro power to reach the point where it supplies all its energy requirements

The Gresham Waste-water Treatment Plant in Oregon, US, missed an important anniversary in January 2011. That was when the utility had expected its six-year old CHP system to have paid back its cost and to start turning a profit. There was no celebration, but no disappointment either, because the system actually hit that break-even date about 19 months earlier, in May of 2009.

But this is more than a financial success story. This is a story about a city, a utility, a multinational water company, and a shared vision for achieving sustainability.

See: http://www.cospp.com/articles/print/volume-12/issue-2/project-profiles/t...


'reversing' the 'entropy of wastewater' requires an energy input. The 'natural' way uses photons powering a biological process or biology that breaks down complex chemicals into simpler ones like mushrooms or anaerobic digestion.

Man can emulate these processes with greenhouses of cattails (and get starch to degrade into toxins like Ethyl Alcohol) or other plants fueled by the photons. Man can force O2 into organic material for compost or Man can make the mixture anaerobic and harvest a witches brew of gas that has Methane.

A wastewater treatment plant substitutes a fixed energy flow for the variable one to standardize the process and shrink the size of the area needed to process. The sustainable way will need more land to capture photons and more land for the O2 exchange surface. More land is hard to come by for most metro areas. And in many places the water needed to keep the chemistry working will be hard to get/maintain.

The density flows from smaller areas could do what you say with various plant sponges, but that from cities is probably too dense to process without industrial methods.

The real question is how to cycle the phosphate and potassium back into agriculture following treatment.

Siemens has been working on something like that [without the plants]

Water purification unit generates its own energy

A new biological water purification facility developed by Siemens generates enough methane gas to power its own operations. It also produces much less sludge than conventional systems. The pilot facility for this process, which is located at a site run by Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, has been operating in an energy- neutral manner since June 2010.

Windhoek, Namibia, has been purifying sewage water and pumping it back into the mains since the 1970s. The treatment plant also generates electricity from methane produced in a sludge digester. So it's hardly a new technology.

Incidentally, the local brewery (which makes excellent German-style beer) is situated far out of town. "I suppose that's because there's a spring with sweet water there." I asked a microbiologist who did quality control. "Oh no," she said, "We use municipal water." "You mean... the stuff I've been pissing in and crapping in?" "Yes." That came as a bit of a shock. But a couple more pints and I grew to accept it.

My techno fanatsys includes a full cycle water circulation circuit. In one stage of the cycle the water goes through a green house where it helps making food. There it is also upgraded to hygienic standard. In the next treatment stage is is upgraded to pottable standard. From those sent back to population areas, and severs take it back again. It could work in a city that is designed,but not in an "urban crawl" design style.

Where I am, the water leaves the works as drinking water and is up to, at least, UK standard (a UK firm is involved too). By the time it gets to the tap, people do not trust drinking it. Broken pipes suck in ground dirt if the pressure drops, domestic systems are often corroded, there are unsealed ground tanks, roof tanks that are not closed - think dead birds and dead iguanas. For drinking we get our water from stores that filter and purify it. I may get a small purifier as I am fed up with carrying water around.

Perhaps this is a better way. That the water supplied to the house is basically clean but not up to potable standard. It may have contaminants, more chlorine, minerals etc, just up to snuff for personal hygiene. At the house, your drinking water is either supplied by the water wagon or by a home purifier. Grey water re-use for flushing.


Well, before we get too excited about the Siemens project, consider what they say in the very last paragraph (emphasis added);

The pilot facility now in operation cleans around half a cubic meter of wastewater per day. A conventional water treatment plant requires a little less than 0.25 kilowatt-hours of energy to do this, so the pilot unit needs to generate roughly that amount of energy in the form of methane.

Half a cubic meter is about the amount of wastewater created by two people. To create a municipal treatment plant requires scaling this up by three to six orders of magnitude.

There is a lot that can go wrong in that sort of scale up, or even if the process works, it might still turn out to be uneconomic. Given that their process involves an anaerobic step, then two aerobic steps, and then a final anaerobic step, I'm guessing that might well be the case.

You might get to net-zero energy, but if doing so costs so much that no one will build the plants, what is being achieved?

eric: They are working from a much weaker definition of sustainability. The wastewater contains chemical energy within it, they are simply trying to use the chemical energy to power the treatment plant. Obviously the energy came from other sources, mostly food that people ate, so it is simply making use of a wastestream that currently goes unutilized.

The City of Willits is host to a 422 kW DC ground-mounted solar installation system capable of generating 500,000 kWh of green energy annually.

The solar system PV Park system provides clean energy to the City of Willits Water Treatment Plant and was designed to meet 100 percent of the plant's current power needs.

PES financed the development and installation of the Willits systems, at no cost to the City, utilizing conventional financing and equity raised through the federal renewable energy tax credit. This custom financial program not only meets the City's water treatment plant energy and budgetary needs, but offers the City of Willits reduced utility costs by purchasing electricity generated by the renewable and perpetual solar energy system at the Willits Water Treatment Plant.


2 banks of panels.

Lower Solar Energy Produced
Today 969 kWh Total 1,873,056 kWh
Percentage of Demand Right Now 4,577 %
5KW to the plant, 243 to the grid (1305 PDT)

funky action diagram

edit now 76 to the plant

City of Willits, Upper
Solar Energy Produced
Today218 kWh Total 287,426 kWh
Percentage of Demand Right Now 600 %
11 KWH to the plant, 45 to the grid (1330)

I don't think they are doing anything with the methane yet, but Santa Rosa is.

Thanks, WF, for sharing these links; very impressive stuff.


Anything for one of the real thread heroes.



Thanks for finding this article. It is interesting to see what they are doing, and while I am a proponent of recovering energy from water and wastewater plants, I am not sure that striving for "on site" net zero is really the best way for them to go - it is looking very expensive.

The article does provide some good numbers so we can see what value they are getting for their net zero spending.

There is also some more information about their net zero plan here;

The AD (anaerobic digestion) system cost $1.35m for 395kW, or $3.40/W, and has a achieved an (impressive) capacity factor of about 98%, for 3390MWh. The cost is $390 per annual MWh of production.

The solar system is 420kW and produced 450MWh, for a capacity factor of all of 12.2%. If we assume a (really competitive) utility scale installation cost of $4/W, this system cost $1.68m, or $3733 per annual MWh.

Doing micro hydro on a sewer outfall is a good idea (I am looking at one such prospect in Australia), but according to that presentation I linked, the 50kW system will cost $823k - this works out to an eye watering $16.50/W. Normal hydro is about $5/W and the new Peace River Site C in BC will be $8/W. The Gresham site will achieve a >95% capacity factor, producing 416MWh, at a cost of $1978 per annual MWh.

The roof top wind turbines they are looking at are vertical axis unit - I suspect there are some municipal height restrictions at work here. Being roof top, their capacity factor will be low, less than 20%. If we assume a very optimistic $3/W, and 20% cap factor, we get $1714 per annual MWh.

So have they really put their dollars in the best place? Certainly the AD system, and the expansion with the new fats/oil/grease facility is good value. The micro hydro seems very expensive for what it is, but will produce as long as the treatment plant is there, so it is probably worthwhile. But the solar system, in coastal Oregon, is clearly an underperformer. Had those same panels been located in eastern Oregon, or central California, their capacity factor would be almost double.

Same for the wind turbines, if they built an industrial sized one on the Oregon coast, or one of the highway passes, etc, it would cost less per kW and have a higher capacity factor - likely half the cost per annual MWh.

This illustrates the major problem with trying for on site net-zero energy - if your site is in a place that is not suited for renewable energy production, then you are not getting good value for your money. Those same panels and turbines set up elsewhere will produce more power, and more carbon credits, more EROEI, and certainly better value for the taxpayers dollar.

It is nice to say on site net zero, but is it worth the cost premium? Would it not be better for all the Oregon municipalities to pool their efforts and put a large solar farm in a sunny place, and put larger, higher wind turbines in a windier place? (while still being on the load side of the transmission line bottleneck from the Columbia Gorge).

Alternatively, if they had taken the money used for solar and wind and hired some expert from, say, Nova Scotia, to do an energy retrofit of the whole town, they would have saved far more energy for those same dollars!

Best hopes for best value,


Hi Paul,

Thanks for the link to this background document; I really appreciate the materials that you and Mike have provided. Just as a general comment, I have to say that I'm greatly encouraged by the work undertaken by the City of Gresham and the City of Willits to make their waste treatment facilities more energy-efficient and energy self-reliant. You do raise a valid point in that on-site generation may not be as cost effective as power supplied by a remote or third-party installation. I don't know if Gresham has made a final decision with respect to wind; at the time of publication, they were still at the exploratory stage, but I would expect any investments of this kind would have a positive NPV or provide other tangible benefits. Judging by their past investments and partnerships, they appear to have acted prudently. Is self-generation worth a premium? There are probably good arguments to be made on either side. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying a bit more if it would help encourage other institutions to move in a similar direction (never underestimate the importance of setting a good example).

I've been busy working with our own municipality on various lighting retrofits and boy do I have my hands full !

I did a post-install inspection and follow-up interviews at the main municipal garage yesterday. This building was originally fitted with 400-watt metal halide fixtures. With the drop lenses, light spread was pretty good for an HID system and the lamps were recently replaced, so conditions going in were about as good as it gets.

This is one of the three maintenance bays prior to our retrofit: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/MMG01.jpg

And these are the high bay fluorescent replacements: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/MMG02.jpg

Light levels are up, the night mechanics tell us that the light is more comfortable to work under (no glare and shadow free) and power consumption has been cut by more than half (222-watts versus 455).


The retrofits look good! I look at those high ceilings and wonder what must be the heating load there in winter - but that's another story!

For the net zero thing, it is certainly a target worth looking at for these places, but it usually seems to follow the 80/20 rule, as this one has, and that's where I think chasing that last 20% should not be done, until every other municipal building has gotten their 80% first.

In other words, do all the conservation/efficiency stuff first, plus the best self generation projects, like the AD etc, and then decide whether the rest is really worth chasing. Solar at 12% capacity just seems like a poor investment decision - almost any other energy saving or production project would have had a better result.

I do agree that the process of trying to achieve net zero achieves much in itself in germs of enlightening and motivating people, and that is a great thing.

The disconnect I see is like this - when you take a really good look at the energy use of the facility, every bit of energy use has to justify itself - do these lights really need to be on all night, etc. And what remains being used is to be used in the most efficient manner possible. IOW we are all about resource efficiency.

Then when we turn around to try to get net zero, we start off in the same vein, and they have done so with their AD system, but when it gets to to solar system - a 12% capacity factor - we are now using this specialised and expensive resource - solar panels - in a very inefficient way.

So, having then worked hard to instill a culture of resource efficiency into a municipal operation, we then set it aside when it comes to solar.

I agree I still would be happy to more in municipal water rates etc for these efficiency and self generation projects, but, just like your and my projects, the goal should be to deploy the most appropriate solutions for the situations, and solar in this case just isn't it.

And there has to be some way to do that 50kW hydro for less than $823k....

Thanks, Paul. You've raised a number of good points and I think we're pretty much in agreement on most of these items. I can certainly attest to the 80-20 rule, but once you start the ball rolling and benefit from the fruits of your labour, there's a natural inclination to push that 80-20 to 90-10 and beyond, particularly if you can finance this incremental work through past savings.

Just with respect to the PV panels, according to your link, they're owned and operated by SunEdison and the electricity that is generated is purchased under long term contract at below retail rates (or at least it was initially), with a fixed annual escalation clause. On the surface, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the City.


I had seen that they were put in by Sun Edison, hence my assumption as to what the installation cost was. We don't know what the "future escalation" is, but we do know that Sun Edison could have have found some much better solar locations of they were not limited to on site. Had they been able to put them somewhere where they would get 20% instead of 12%, then that deal could have been even sweeter. If NSP was proposing lots of panels in Halifax, by offering really good (subsidised) deals to the customers, is that a better decision than a alighting retrofit? should this even be offered until all retrofits are done?

Not only that, there has been an acre of fully serviced, in-city industrial land that has been occupied for the solar farm. That means some other one acre development will be built on the outskirts, sometime, increasing sprawl, when they could use this land to infill. If the solar panels must be in Gresham, then they could put them on the roof of a big box store, school, etc. That land would have been pretty good to do on-site composting of the AD residue.

Over the last couple of years, I have participated (presented) in a series of workshops in California about evaluating cost effectiveness of water supply and conservation projects. It was a great workshop that showed the true way to calculate NPV's of water supply projects (most municipal engineers do it wrong) and of efficiency projects - where most proponents evaluate them wrong.

It came down to identifying the *true* marginal cost of expanding supply, and the true costs of the conservation projects. When everything was evaluated in the same, correct, way, it became very apparent what projects are cost effective and what are not, and what is truly good value for the municipality, and what is not. if there are other desirable factors, like local v out of town, then you end up askign what price premium you are really prepared to pay for that - and what tax increase or other service cut you are willing to wear to make it happen.

You can make a house net zero water, at great expense, by desalinating the sewage water - the International Space Station does this - and CMHC has done house trials of this! But, for a house, or a community, is this really a good use of money, just to say that that are net zero? Could all those resources have been put to other uses (perhaps non -water or non-energy) that are of more benefit to the community?

Everything has to justify its existence, including solar panels. It is of questionable benefit if a town has to cut back on staff/services at the community library because they have spent all the money making the library a net zero building.
(i have seen a rough of equivalent of this actually happen)

I do agree that there is a natural tendency to want to go from 80-20 to 90-10, but I think this is where, in a municipal case, it is incumbent on the municipal admin/politicians to manage the process for best value/benefit for their residents. get all the buildings to 80-20 before taking any of them higher. As a matter of principle, I would not be installing solar panels until every old light, heating system etc had been replaced/upgraded in every municipal building.

I am sure there is probably some municipal park (e.g downwind of playing fields) that would be a much better place for the wind turbines. This starts down the path of the community energy co-operative - which I support. if the muni contracted to the co-op for their power generation (other than the AD, of course), then the co-op can chase what's best, and I'm sure it wouldn't have been the panels.

Anyway, perhaps I am nitpicking a bit here, it is better to have done too much than too little, but I am a stickler for every project justifying its existence.

You're not nitpicking, Paul, and I can't disagree with anything you say, but there may be times when you want to push things a little further and apply the lessons learned elsewhere. You might also argue that waste treatment is a vital service and that the ability to supply all or most of this facility's electricity needs independent of the grid and fossil fuels is a high priority. I, along with twelve thousand other NSP customers lost power for two hours earlier this evening and so we switched over to auxiliary power. It's hard for the average home owner to justify the added expense of a backup generator and wiring when most power cuts are under two hours, but I was thankful that I could continue to do the things I wanted to do without interruption.


You might also argue that waste treatment is a vital service and that the ability to supply all or most of this facility's electricity needs independent of the grid and fossil fuels is a high priority.

It certainly is a vital service - that is why they always have backup generators (as must also have all the sewer pumping stations!). Interestingly, in the event of a sustained power outage - more than 2 hrs - you start to see dramatic decreases in water use. People aren't showering cooking, doing laundry etc. So forced "load shedding" by blackout also leads to (temporary) load shedding on the water/wastewater system! Just like the "cold load pickup" when the power comes back on, so too you see a surge in water use shortly thereafter!

Most water and sewer systems have backup to allow operation at a minimum of 50% of full capacity in an extended outage, but rarely are they set up for 100% operation. Also, in the sewage plant, some operations, like sludge digesters, are not critical loads, and can be left off during outages.

A classic case of matching the cost of backup to the needs - backing up 100% is very expensive, and not really needed.

If the load shedding by blackout is done in rotation then would this not level the load on the sewage system? The blacked out area reducing flow while the re-supplied are increasing it. Perhaps things like this need to be factored into future planning.


Well, we were really talking about unplanned blackouts.

if you are doing power rationing, by rolling blackouts, then you make sure the treatment plant is not subject to rolling blackout, and yes, the average flow would be little changed.

For planning of sewage plants, you have to plan for them to handle peak wet weather flow, which is quite a bit more than average day flow. But your backup generators are sized for average day, or even less - as you shed non essential internal loads at the plant.

Water and sewer are about the most critical services there are. You can survive for quite some time without power, gas, phone, even (gasp) internet, but you can't survive very long without water, and you can go for even less time without "creating" sewage. Places that have dysfunctional water and/or sewer systems will almost always have higher incidences of water borne diseases, and there is just no excuse for that in a developed society.

The Romans and others worked this out 2-3000 years ago, it is amazing that there are places today that still don;t prioritise it.

If you want to read a very interesting look at a water-less sewage system for a town, check out this;


and particularly the Lierner system described therein - truly a blueprint for a closed loop nutrient cycle...

It depends upon whether the value of the PV (or 90-10, or net-zero) is strictly monetary, or are psychological values, such as pride, and PR value) also considered? Do two buildings 80-20, and the evening news will not run your story, only your beancounter will know. (And he's too boring, no one wants to listen to him! But make one building net-zero, and you can get a free plug on TV -or whatever. In any case, it really is part of the way humans think, that getting one site pure appears more important than getting ten sites half pure.

You are right, it does depend on the "value" perceived by different people involved.
For the elected politician, there is great value in getting on the evening news like that. So to take the building to net zero, while starving several other projects that have much better material benefit, but less PR, delivers more of the "value" that they want to see.

BUt, is the mayor willing to stand up at property tax time and level with his people and say their property taxes could have been lower if they had done two 80-20's instead of one 90-10 or 100-0? Is he willing to show the cost of producing each MWh as I calculated above, and explain why he chose to implement an option that delivers less than half the value for the taxpayers dollar compared to other, less high profile projects? The PR "value" does not help balance the city's budget, though it sometimes helps get politicians re-elected.

For a public official to direct public money to a less beneficial use, that enhances their own profile and PR, is, in my opinion, deceitful at best and a dereliction of duty. Sadly, it happens far too often.

The real test, in my opinion, for any of these efficiency/renewable generation projects, is that to be worth doing, it must deliver more value than it costs - then you can use the proceeds to do it again, and again. When governments continually spend money on things that deliver less value, well, they run into these things called debt limits...

This is a timely issue with me - I am in discussion with my municipality about micro hydro projects on their water supply system. I am pleased to say that their attitude is very pragmatic - they are not interested in demo projects that only demonstrate that something is too expensive to be widely implemented. Solar PV here has a capacity factor about the same as Oregon - 12%, and they have said they simply will not waste their money on it, even though some people think they should do it to show "leadership". Their response is that their version of leadership is to find the best solutions for our situation that deliver the most benefits, not the most PR. That is why we are looking at hydro on the water supply, small scale grid tied wind on the seaside docks, and on the 50'light poles on the downwind side of open playing fields, solar hot water for the swimming centre, etc etc. There are many, many things to be done before PV would be at the top of the list of remaining things. I thoroughly applaud this approach and am very happy to be a part of it.

As I often quote the Nobel wining physicist Richard Feynman; "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. "

Link up top: The scourge of 'peak oil'

This is a very good article that tells it like it is. That is because Al Jazerra uses peak oil folks like Tom Whipple and Richard Heinberg for their input. Although this article contains nothing really new for all us folks who keep up with all peak oil news, the significance lies in the fact that it was published in Al Jazerra, the leading English Language newspaper in the Middle East. Also it popped up in the top ten news articles when I opened Google News this morning. I expect to hear more feedback from this article.

Ron P.

I am beginning to hope in the words of Churchill [paraphrased ) that we are at or near the point that can be describes as the "end of the beginning" in terms of the general public becoming aware of peak oil.

Of course probably not more than ten percent, if that, of the public has ever given this mattter a passing thought.

More than likely we will suffer another supply shortfall within the next two or thre years and at that point attention to this problem will begin to grow fast, the seed has been planted and the seedling is doing well.

As it become too obvious to ignore, what happens then? This is my greatest fear. Given the dis-information and power play corporate fascism, I think we will eventually end up fighting like cats in a sack. Once people realize they have been lied to for years, when something could have been done, the 'leaders' will run and hide.

As another commenter here very aptly put it "Plan for Panic" so we can "Panic with a Plan".

Make good plans now, publicize them, make baby steps in the right direction and wait for Panic.

Best Hopes for Planning, and Panic,


Who amongst us have been in situations where we have a plan for change but are just waiting for that event or crisis which makes our plan to a good fit to respond to the problem or crisis. Maybe we don't have the best plan but we have a plan and no one else does or is not ready to strike as soon as the problem occurs. It worked for the neocons and it can work for those who are trying to implement things like rail.

Right now, though, we seem to be in a deep, dark hole from which there seems to be no escape. The chances of anything useful happening at the national level are approximately zero. If it were just the Republicans, I would have some hope. But Obama has bought into the meme that the only thing to be done is to "get our fiscal house in order". Well, what then Sparky? I fear getting our fiscal house in order means that progressive approaches to our problems will be dead for a generation. And by then, we will be well on the other side of the edge and well on the other side of the tipping point.

There is always local action, a necessary compliment to things happening on the national or international level. But that is not enough and is mainly for the purpose of maintaining a bit of sanity and comfort in the presence of others with like purposes and goals.

Fiscal conservatives supporting the Republican position are IMO making a tragic mistake. The issue is not taxes or even discretionary government spending but entitlements particularly Medicaire. By pushing the the spending cuts through there is little reason for anybody to compromise about entitlements in the future. Saving a couple of trillion (which I bet at the end of the ten year period will be much less) will not restore the fiscal position of the US but it will preclude doing the things that will be necessary.

Moodys and S&P should definitely downgrade the US debt because after this exercise is over default is more not less likely.

Tidal power generation in Scotland:

Ten underwater turbines will generate 30GW a year from the seafloor in the Sound of Islay, following government approval.

A £40 million tidal array harnessing electricity from one of the UK’s most reliable and strongest tidal streams has been granted approval by the Scottish Government.

The 10MW tidal turbine project in the Sound of Islay, between the islands of Islay and Jura, will be the largest scheme of its kind in the world and will generate approximately 30GW per year, enough to power all the homes on Islay and Jura – and, crucially, their whisky distilleries.



Technical illiteracy again.

30 GW per year.

Do they mean "30 GWh/year" ?

That is a constant 3.4 MW (but variable with tides, so perhaps 14 MW peak).

Nice, but that area is very windy. A few WTs would do as much (and tidal + wind should reduce diesel consumption for power considerably). Add a small pumped storage unit and get off diesel except for emergencies.

Best Hopes for Renewables, and Technical Literacy,


Not made clear in the article is that this is planned as a pilot "Phase 1". 10 1 MW generators will be used in Phase 1. Phase 2 will take it up to 50MW (additional 20 larger 2 MW turbines) and a potential Phase 3 up to 400MW (assuming grid capacity is added). In addition other planned sites will benefit from lessons learned at Islay. The Hammerfest Strøm H1000 turbines themselves look just like underwater wind turbines.

Video of the Hammerfest Strøm Tidal Turbine Technology (proposed Pentland Firth site) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E_6YcXY0D4

The Hammerfest Strøm tidal turbine is best describes as an underwater wind turbine, but with shorter blades that rotate slower.

"Phase 1". 10 1 MW generators will be used in Phase 1. Phase 2 will take it up to 50MW (additional 20 larger 2 MW turbines) and a potential Phase 3 up to 400MW

By comparison, the small mountain town I live in has 150 MW of hydroelectric generation capacity within a few minutes walk from my house. Most town residents don't realize the power plants are there since they are just small brick buildings, with no windows and no people inside, that emit a low humming noise. Serious hydroelectric facilities are rated in GW, not MW, and are given away by their giant concrete dams.

The Scottish tidal power systems are interesting, but I don't think they will scale up sufficiently to make much difference to the UK's power problems.

Technical illiteracy again.

Thanks, I am tired of swatting down these technical errors. Obviously the press is composed of people who couldn't pass physics 101.

Tidal is still pretty experimental, more like wind was 25years ago. So these early projects value lies mainly as testing grounds for the development of the technology. Tides have a better capacity factor than wind, and and well predicted. They should make a good complement to wind or solar. Of course tidal gen, is only suitable for a few widely scattered locales. It will never be a major power source for civilizational BAU, but it could be a nice increment.

Hi EoS,

Still in the early stages, as you say, but it could be a real game changer for our province...

Failed tidal turbine explained at symposium

One of the companies behind a large experimental tidal test project told a tidal energy conference Friday that powerful currents in the Bay of Fundy destroyed the blades of its test turbine in less than three weeks.


The Bay of Fundy pushes more than 160 billion tonnes of water on the incoming tide, according to the symposium's website.

That's more than four times the combined flow of every freshwater river in the world.

The estimated potential of the Fundy region alone is upwards of 60,000 megawatts of energy, of which up to 2,500 megawatts may be safely extracted..

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2011/07/08/ns-tidal-ener...


Your region is one of those locales blessed with the resource. It is interesting that the experimental tidal turbine they tried a few years back in the Hudson river broke for the same reason. Note power goes as velocity squared times flowrate, so velocity is more important than flowrate. For tides velocity squared should scale with the height of the tide. IIRC Bay of F, has the highest tidal range in the world!

heres hoping for several GW of tidal power.

Given that these turbines operate in water, and these units that keep failing are "scaled down wind turbines", it would seem that perhaps they should consider using "scaled up ships propellers".

There is LOTS of experience with those, and they never break unless they hit something...

Yes - I work sometimes at Cobscook Reversing Falls - I was ready to dive there once, waiting for slack tide in calm conditions - we thought the flow had stopped when I realized the boat was idling high (a crewmember was holding position near shore) - the knotmeter was reading 8 - 13 knots.
Current at Reversing Falls regularly reaches 20 knots (personal observation). I have often wondered what sort of turbine would work best there.

If you want to see strong currents, you should see Skookumchuck Narrows in British Columbia - the currents exceed 20 knots (30 km/h) and the sea level difference between sides exceeds 6 feet (2 metres) at maximum flow. Skookumchuck means "big, strong waters" in the Chinook Indian language.

Here's a YouTube video of a tugboat capsizing in the tidal rapids The barge in tow passed the tug because of the currents, and the tow line flipped the tugboat upside down.

Fortunately, Dave the whitewater kayaker was standing by to paddle out and rescue the crew. Note Dave's upper body development from paddling the rapids. Warning: Language not suitable for inexperienced seamen and novice kayakers.

The objection I would have to a tidal power plant at that point are that it would screw up the interesting sea life that lives there because of the currents, and the fact that BC has much cheaper sources of electricity than tidal power would be.

Thanks - an impressive clip. That place is a Cobscook Reversing Falls on a much larger scale - looks like the tug was trying to transit the rapids at slack tide - but the current can start very quickly at such places, especially if tides are running large.
At Cobscook, when the tide turns, boils suddenly appear which spawn swarms of whirlpools about 3 feet across. You know its time to leave then. Sadly, 3 boats have sunk there in the past 5 years when their drags hung up.

We're not that far from Deer Island, Canada, where the Old Sow is located - a giant tidal whirlpool that is considered the worlds second largest after Norway's Maelstrom. It has been measured at approx 220 feet in total diameter when at its most active state - its center has been estimated at approx 17 feet below relative sea level. It sometimes makes a sucking sound from air being drawn below the surface. Such potential power.
Sea life below the reversing falls is very interesting and rich. There is the largest ascidian colony
I have ever seen there.
Got to go -

Skookumchuck Narrows is indeed like Cobscook Reversing Falls on steroids. It is a favorite place for whitewater kayaks because of the huge standing waves that develop at full flow. Here is is a video of whitewater kayakers in Skookumchuck Narrows.

The tugboat was indeed trying to transit at slack current, but the water never really stops moving at "slack" in Skookumchuck. Parts of it will still be flowing in one direction while other parts start moving in the reverse direction.

The objection I would have to a tidal power plant at that point are that it would screw up the interesting sea life that lives there because of the currents, and the fact that BC has much cheaper sources of electricity than tidal power would be.

When you say "interesting sea life" do you mean the kayakers that hang out there?

You know that the Sunshine Coast Regional District is thinking about doing a power project there, right?

On page 74 of the Community Energy and Emissions Plan, an action point is to "Conduct a feasibility study to assess generation potential at Skookumchuck"

The amount of water that flows in and out each tide change is 200 billion gallons.

With four changes a day, and an average height of five feet, the gross energy is 12,500MWh, or a 400MW hydro plant running 24/7 (at 80% efficiency). We'll make sure to leave a channel there somewhere for the fish and the kayakers.

There are a few other rapids in the area that could also be tapped, like Malibu Inlet.

I have always thought that Sechelt should cut a canal from the Georgia Strait, through Sechelt, to the Inlet (about 1km long) and have a lock controlled canal for boats, this would allow round tripping through the inlet. Along with this construction, you would either do a parallel canal or bury, in the base of the canal, or in the banks, some large diameter pipes to do tidal flow power. This would also help to flush the south end of the inlet which is becoming increasingly polluted from all the human activity on and around the water.

At Big Bay near Campbell River a fishing lodge (owned by two big US retail magnates) has a homemade(?) water turbine in a small side channel. It is a boat propeller tied to a length of rope (with the correct twist) then to a generator. The tide changes, the propeller gets swept the other way, when the current is strong enough it pulls the rope taught & rotates the generator. Clever bit of Red Green engineering

People are starting to wake up to the fact of Saudi Arabia's internal consumption.

But of course you heard it here first:

What is "our" oil doing in their economy? -- Saudi oil consumption trends (Mar 28, 2011)

-- Jon

Saudi Arabia did not offer any additional amounts of oil for sale in August, as compared to July, and so far, shippers are now confirming that exports of diesel and heavy fuel oil from KSA will drop in August as compared to July (http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7IP29320110725) It may be assumed that the drop in refined exports relates to the increase in summer internal demand (as per the links above). This may also be the reason why KSA has reported an increase in oil 'output' for July & August up to 9.7 mbpd from just under 9.0 mbpd in May, yet apparently has not increased exports any more than 250,000 bpd a few weeks or so ago.

Latest reports from shippers indicate that KSA may actually export less oil in August as compared to July.

And another story, Steps Saudi Arabia must take to stretch its resources further

Third, domestic oil consumption is soaring because of low, government-fixed prices: less than $3 per barrel for power generation, and $0.16 per litre of petrol, compared with the UAE's (also subsidised) $0.47. Up to 1 million bpd is burnt for electricity and water desalination during the summer because of gas shortages.

A link to a sampling of some of the work that Sam Foucher and I have done on the topic of Saudi net oil exports over the past five years:


I started paying attention to net exports because of some early work by Matt Simmons, circa 2000 to 2002, if memory serves.

Link up top: Testing oil potential

Hey, the most prestigious publication in the oil business is the Oil & Gas Journal. When they start to publish questions about Saudi's reputed spare capacity, folks are likely to take notice.

How much oil can Saudi Arabia produce?

IEA credits the kingdom with capacity of 12.04 million b/d of crude oil. Against June output of 9.7 million b/d, spare Saudi capacity at the beginning of July thus was 2.34 million b/d, most of OPEC's—and therefore the world's—idle capacity of 3.61 million b/d.

But there are doubters. Analysts who worry that worldwide crude oil production is approaching its geologic limit tend to think Saudi and worldwide capacities are overstated. When Saudi Arabia announced it would increase production to replace lost Libyan oil, some of them predicted it would be unable to do so. Hence the test.

And they are getting serious about peak oil. (Bold mine.)

Fulfillment of these projections, if it happens, shouldn't defray concern about peak oil production, a physical inevitability of indefinite timing and huge economic consequence. It would, however, show that production capacity can grow among the world's most important oil exporters. It also would show that production capacity can grow outside Saudi Arabia.

And what about validity of Saudi capacity estimates? The most useful observation may be that expressions of doubt about the kingdom's ability to produce oil have been wrong in the past—but won't always be so in the future.

Ron P.

"Peak oil is the time when the world's production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again," Whipple told Al Jazeera. "Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about."

Yes, it's going down from a peak, not "Running Out". Why does it take someone as peak oil savvy as Whipple to understand that, while so many other articles on oil miss the point. It is a pet peave of mine when seeing the 'running out' bit or hearing it in a video, because the general populace at least know it won't run out immediately from peak (unless there is a complete collapse), which probably reduces their willingness to accept the basis for peak oil. All these Authors of articles need to get it straight.

They don't miss the point. It is the straw man tactic. They make the claim that peak oil = oil is running out and then they disprove that claim.

We had a fellow from the API up to speak on NPR and he used this exact tactic. The goal is to make "peak oil theory" seem uncredible. And I think it works.

Earl & Jon,
I think you're both right.

Many journalists miss some very important points, probably because they have not done their homework and examined the complexities. Furthermore, their editors may not accept articles which try to present these complexities, perhaps on the assumption that it's "too complicated & boring" for their audience.

But there also seems to be a tendency (some of which is probably deliberate) to present the "theory" as incredible. Some of this occurs through oversimplification and negation, as Jon points out. Many TV items stress the doomer aspect and show various people's hoarding activities, workshops on survival skills, etc. with an underlying sub-theme that belief in an imminent oil crash borders on cult behaviour. And of course there is the "cry wolf" chronology of erroneous predictions in the past.

We have the difficult task of presenting a complex issue in clear (but not oversimplified) terms, sifting out facts, data and trends from prediction, conjecture and wishful thinking, and encouraging people to take our information seriously without sounding alarmist.

Perhaps the key point about PO is the irony that difficulties are likely to start as we reach maximum production, not minimum. That should be sufficient to shift the focus away from "running out" and onto the factors which will come into play as people begin to realize that production seems to be stalling.

Another point which skeptics may have a difficult time refuting is the virtual unanimity of military-security analysts on PO. Having examined about 60 studies from this sector of various aspects of energy security/oil supply/PO, I have not found a single military researcher who dismisses PO as implausible, premature alarmism, etc.
If anyone is aware of such a conclusion by a military analyst, please advise.

On the contrary, we have this well-founded scenario:

John & Rick I agree, much of the 'running out' rhetoric is simply to discredit peak oil and pigeon hole it as a cult theory.

Perhaps the key point about PO is the irony that difficulties are likely to start as we reach maximum production, not minimum. That should be sufficient to shift the focus away from "running out" and onto the factors which will come into play as people begin to realize that production seems to be stalling.

Production has plateaued or stalled if that is a better word for some years now, since about 05. Maybe it is only past peak, on the way down that more realistic responses can be expected.

Do you think that difference will be taken in by a lot of the sheeple though?
Don't you think there will be an almighty panic set in?
People and countries grabbing as much as possible and hoarding?

Remember the Cabbage Patch Dolls?

Just listen to some of the terms used in the report esp. @ 00:56 secs.

The comments are awesome:

Top Comments
what a bunch of consumerist morons.

SpaceMonkeeys 2 years ago 11
i saw one at Goodwill today.

APizzle90 1 year ago 8

"(unless there is a complete collapse)"

With an economic system that depends on exponential growth to justify/fund its future, then any systemic decline, any "backing off" of its energy inputs, could trigger a sudden, swift transition to a new mode through positive feedback: collapse.

Gee, maybe we should build all those wind-turbines and solar-farms just to pad the system a bit. But we have complex wars to fight for oil. When the time comes, we will simply extract the needed capital from the systems supporting the poor and budget-cut our way to a new and vibrant prosperity!

Martin and Kali

You both refer to an almighty panic and collapse, and there is certainly the potential for both.

Unlike all (as far as I'm aware) previous military analyses of PO, that is exactly the point that the Bundeswehr analysts have picked up on.
In short, they argue that faith & confidence are essential to markets, currencies and even the stability/viability of governments.
In the absence of such faith (and the physical supply of affordable oil), we face unprecedented domestic and international security risks which are very difficult to assess.

The military literature is worthy of more attention than it has received so far.

I'm not cheer-leading for it, just reasserting its availability as a failure mode.

If monkey-world was rational, we would develop numbers on the actual amount of reasonably recoverable oil estimated to be remaining and plan a orderly transition. Actually, I guess we would begin transitioning immediately so as to save the remaining hydrocarbon industrial feedstock for the next eons of possible need. But that's RIGHT OUT.

Perhaps the safest bet is that "the economy" contracts to support the fewer who can afford transportation, air, water, and food. The others just become "Oh, those poor people!" remembered desperately staring out from the video screens of a childhood long ago.

When the time comes, we will simply extract the needed capital from the systems supporting the poor and budget-cut our way to a new and vibrant prosperity!

Looks like the time has come. At least the capital extraction is revving up to full speed.

Does anybody know any current protest songs?
About anything?

This one's like... 10 years old:

Does anybody know any current protest songs?
About anything?

Sure! Start here... Tim Minchin - Some people have it worse than I

Or if you prefer a more traditional theme and sound.

"End of the Ship" by Roy Zimmerman

Here's an oldie but a goody (2003): Where Is the Love? - Black Eyed Peas


How about?

Ship of Fools by the Greatful Dead...

E. Swanson

Here's an artist's site; Moss Henry. I think his version of "Road to Babylon" is one of the great anti-war songs. Other good stuff there too.


Gee, maybe we should build all those wind-turbines and solar-farms just to pad the system a bit.

I see announcements on the internet of MW and MW of solar and wind brought on-line often lately. For me the question is 'will it be enough, soon enough?'

I am hopeful, but if California is any indication, at noon
- peak wind+PV are supplying about 1GW.
- peak overall consumption dwarfs the current wind+PV contribution, at 35GW.


Sure, I will hope and support more wind and solar being added to California, but for now, it is only a few percent of a contribution.

I look at it as:
Wow! 1/20th of the demand without even really trying!

A serious effort over these past twenty years could have really made a larger difference.

(If that was ALL that was available, people could charge batteries at home and at least have communications, lights, fans, and operating electrical controls for heaters and such. 35,000,000,000 Watt-hours would be a lot better than nothing.)

Khartoum demands a $23 per barrel transit fee for South Sudan's oil. So far North Sudan has allowed the shipment of South Sudan's oil while the transit fee was being determined.

Khartoum demands $23-per-barrel fee
25 July 2011 17:22 GMT

South Sudan said its former civil war foe Khartoum had declared “economic war” against the new African nation by demanding a transit fee of almost $23 per barrel.

The dispute could threaten to disrupt the flow of crude from the country, a significant exporter notably to China and Japan.


Federal Reserve Provided $16 Trillion in Emergency Loans to U.S. and Foreign Banks

Statement issued by Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT Independent) (sanders.house.gov):

The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study.

“As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”

(Worth a look just for the table from the GAO report, which clearly states the total value of transactions conducted in Broad-Based Emergency Programs from December 1, 2007 through July 21, 2010 as $16,115,000,000,000.)

This bailout of foreign banks makes the Greek bailout look like chump-change.

also GAO Federal Reserve $16 Trillion Emergency Bailout Loans Audit Report

Keep in mind that although these are the real total numbers that amount of loans outstanding at any one time was much less, maybe roughly $1.25 trillion at most.

For example, if you look at the amount borrowed by Deutsche Bank, the total borrowings were $354 billion:


However the most outstanding at any one time was less than $60 billion:


Essentially the borrowers had short term loans which they repaid - and then they borrowed funds again.

As to whether foreign banks are legitimate lenders from the Fed, or if the banks provided appropriate collateral for their borrowings, remains an open question.

Two caveats:

  • The maximum value of loans outstanding at any time peaked at just over one trillion dollars. That's still a lot to put at risk in order to prop up the global financial system, but it's also a lot smaller than the total value of transactions. Drawn with a trillion-dollar vertical scale (pg 137), the amount of the loans still outstanding is essentially zero.
  • As noted in the report, the $16.115T figure mixes loans of different durations in a way that the authors seem to believe overstates the total. To use the report's example, if a bank borrowed $10B for 30 days, it added $10B to the total. If the bank borrowed $10B overnight 30 times, it added $300B to the total.

My personal opinion is that Bernie's real complaint is not what the Fed did, but that it had to do it. Which pisses me off as well. Failure of the financial sector ought not to be able to drag the real economy of non-financial goods and services down with it. Which was a real threat this time around.

A lot of the lending was overnight loans to provide liquidity to banks so that payment settlement could complete properly at the end of each day. The loans were not particularly large. A large US bank can settle well over a trillion dollars of payments in a business day.

Some of the foreign banks have what used to be large US banks as subsidiaries -- Deutsche Bank bought Bankers Trust, Credit Suisse bought First Boston, UBS bought Paine Webber, etc.

40 Per Cent of Brits Mis-Sold Gas and Electricity: Government Demands Compensation be Paid

A new report from the U.K.'s Energy and Climate Change Committee on Ofgem's Retail Market Review has demanded that companies pay compensation after it discovered that numerous energy companies were mis-selling electricity and gas.

In the report the committee expressed concern that many U.K. customers had been pressured by hard-sell, "door-step" salesman into switching supplier without, "proper consideration of the options when confronted with a vast array of complex tariffs."

Ofgem's statistics indicated that as many as 40 per cent of U.K. consumers were convinced to switch to a worse deal than the one they were currently on.

Waxman calls for national climate-change-education push

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday urged Energy Secretary Steven Chu to launch a national climate-change-education campaign.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in a letter to Chu, said the public’s understanding of climate change is “diminishing” in part because there are “powerful vested interests in the oil and coal industries successfully fanning disbelief.”

“I ask you to investigate the disconnect that appears to be growing between the scientific and the public understanding of climate change,” Waxman said. “I hope you will then decide to lead a national effort to ensure the public is fully and accurately informed about the science of climate change and its implications for human health and welfare.”

Guess who's re-election campaign will be short of funds..

REAL Uh-Merikans would never fall for a whiny L-I-B-E-R-A-L Commie fake 'crisis' like Global Warming. REAL Uh-Merikans are too busy watchine NASCAR, Fox & Friends, and putting saddles on dinosaurs at the local Creationist museum. This Waxman guy sounds like he needs a serious body-slam from Prosperity Gospel Jesus and the WWF!

I think we will fry. I told my wife the other day that we are doomed to fry. Hope I die before I fry though.

Don't look now.. these are the good old days!

Smoke'em if you got em..

"These are the times that fry men's souls." (with apologies to Thomas Paine)

America: Why Aren't You Protesting

With regard to the above Heinberg article this is an idea which has totally confounded me. This morning (while roofing) I was listening to an NPR program on Woody Guthrie. I couldn't help contrast the activism of those times, and the 60s, to the deafening silence of America today. Imagine, the changes to current language represent the final emasculation of America's social justice sense of economics, fair play, and opportunity. Paid for and adequately funded Social Security is now called an 'entitlement'. A super rich individual is now called a 'job creator'. A totally reasonable desire for affordable Health Care is somehow demonized. The Repubics are actually prepared to stand up for no tax increases at all, but cuts to 'entitlements' are okay, yet "hands off the military complex", boys. And a Democratic Senator is crafting a debt plan that cuts entitlements, raises the ceiling, but includes no new revenues? Is this seriously possible?

Last week Canada was held up to have created 28,000 jobs in June vrs the US version of 18,000. Sure, we are an energy exporter, but the last I checked I pay at least 50% of my income in taxes: including income tax, sales, and hidden taxes. So, how are we in Canada, so taxed to death, able to create 20X per capita jobs against a country that houses the reseve currency, financial headquarters of the world, and basically gives the rich (excuse me, ''''job creators''''') a free ride? Plus, we have socialized medicine and very few toll roads/bridges.

Call me old fashioned, but 'we are thy brothers keeper' to some extent, whether or not this includes religious affiliation, (which in my case it does not). When you have so many states with 'right to work laws', outright bans on Union affiliation, the use of prisoners doing public service work, and millions without jobs and losing homes; if now is not the time for protest and a little tire burning anger, when is the right time?

The heat wave is set to re-emerge next week on the east coast. I believe it has been 22 straight days of +100 in the Dallas area. Isn't this enough to get people out on the streets and hot under the collar? Will it actually take a Default for folks to say "enough is enough". Or, as the article says, when will someone grow a pair?

America was a great country. I grew up reading Steinbeck. Surely, all the authors of today are not writing sit-com episodes in Hollywood. Bruce Springsteen, where are you?

My parents were both WW2 vets, real ones, not the GW variety of military service. My dad would turn in his grave if he could see what happened to his country. I find it hard to believe that if this debt impasse continues much longer without a fair and just bi-partisan plan/solution, something is going to blow and I don't mean the tea kettle twits. In fact, it is starting to get scary. Is the country starting to swell up like Mt St. Helen? Surely, it is not BAU in any sense of the word?

What on earth has happend to the voices and conscience of the America that was held up to the world as a beacon of right, hope, and opportunity? How on earth has this whole mess gotten this far?


Probably a lot of money in radio and media venture to remove the whole idea of working an honest job in this country lies behind the predicament. Of course, the whole thing is under a guise that the removal of debt will produce jobs. Consumption will remain the same as the rich pick up the slack. So in a sense we are talking about redistribution of wealth from poorer to richer folks and that is the plan. But many are just too jaded to rise up I guess. It is a system poised to redistribute much more in the next dip to the wealthy. But I bet consumption of oil does not taper at all. They system is just designed to ship the remaining oil barrels to fewer individuals. That is the plan.

It was relatively easy to understand and protest against an immoral war (Vietnam), especially with the motivation of a mandatory draft putting the Sword of Damocles over America's son's necks.

The predicaments we face today are so complex and convoluted, so huge in scope, so seemingly diverse, that the vast majority of people in the US are literally incompetent to grasp what they should be protesting. The pain in the pocketbook has not quite reached the level that would cause a reaction, though I agree with Jim Kunstler that that is coming soon. But then they are only going to be lashing out at whatever scapegoats they can find. They won't make reasoned protests. Look at Egypt, Syria, etc. for a model of what will come.

We understood the Vietnam war in the 60s. The news coverage provided us with vivid images of the horror. The Pentagon Papers made it clear what stupidity was afoot in Washington, etc. It provided a focus that people could understand.

What do they have now? Oil/energy, water, the economy, stark divisions between political parties, the best candidates money can buy, ...? The list is long and growing. What part of it do you protest against? Which piece of the complex puzzle should be changed so that all will be set right again?

I submit that people are intuitively avoiding real protest now because they just don't know what would be meaningful, what would really need to be changed. I do feel there will be violence in the not-too-distant future, but it won't be because of concerted protests against something that everyone sees as being wrong and needs changing. Every human will lash out against whatever facet of the predicament is causing them the most pain (loss of home, loss of jobs, loss of purchasing power, loss of dignity, loss, loss, loss).

George - It may be even simpler: protest what? Protest that we should hike motor fuel taxes to push conservation or to drop fuel taxes to ease the burden on the public? To increase shale gas drilling in the NE to secure adequate supplies for next winter or prohibit it to safe guard the environment? To increase ethanol subsidies to provide more motor fuel or outlaw ethanol production to deliver corn at a lower price to the world's hungry? To deliver Social Security benefits many expected or borrow money from our kids' future to cover those checks? To burn more US coal instead of importing the equivalent energy from countries that dislike us or ban all domestic coal burning to minimize GHG production? Not diverting monies for building/repairing the roadway infrastructure to mass transit projects?

I think you get my point. Everyone has their own sacred cow(s) to protect. And the two parties have done an excellent job IMHO of fostering such divisions of interest so the public doesn't think they have a choice but to fully support their position against "them". IOW name one cause that would pull out a majority of Americans. And I don't mean the folks who only offer lip service and politically correct platitudes like "shared suffering"..

You may disagree with this view. But keep track of any response to my post and take notice of any diversity of opinions of the issues I offered. And in doing so remember that the TOD family is much closer on common thoughts than the public in general.

You may disagree with this view.

What disagreement??? I said:

The predicaments we face today are so complex and convoluted, so huge in scope, so seemingly diverse, that the vast majority of people in the US are literally incompetent to grasp what they should be protesting.

Emphasis added.

George - I understood what you were saying. The comment was intended to pull others into our discussion...which it did as we see below.

And look at the difference of opinions from the TODsters. A polite discourse as usual but very strong and divergent opinions. Not wanting to sound elitist but we all know it would be difficult to find as many intelligent, thoughtful and sane folks engaged in such conversations anywhere out there. And we can't focus on a single area of change/protest.

Then consider the nature of the general public the politicians pander to in order to get re-elected. From the abiotic oil folks who are sure we have enough energy to fuel the world for thousands of years to the fundamentalists who know God will ultimately intervene and save us. And then toss in folks who want not a single atom of carbon released to the atmosphere by man's activity. And thus the source of my pessimism about the future: it isn't from a lack a practical actions that could be taken but the inability to reach a consensus on such responses. And I still adamently believe this is a conscious effort by our political system to perpetuate the "us vs. them" status of the discussion.

IOW name one cause that would pull out a majority of Americans

Different POVs could focus on a set of solutions for different reasons - but the same set of solutions.

For example, a set of solutions that (in 20 years vs. BAU) resulted in

- Reducing our #1 National Security strategic vulnerability
- Increased GDP by +13%
- Reduced Oil Consumption by -22% (more if GDP had not increased)
- Reduced CO2 by -38%
- Increased Employment by +4% and preserved a good fraction of today's middle class

Could get bi-partisan support. Especially if presented by a Left-Right Coalition of groups.

Best Hopes for Seeing the Possible,


As long as a set of solutions is not actually specified, and yet is asserted to magically produce such results in hypothetical projections, one supposes it might get support. The devil, as always, lies in the details - the specifics and the winners and losers they create, plus, nowadays, the endlessly arguable methodologies underlying the hypothetical projections. Indeed, an assertion that some particular approach would produce a 13% difference in GDP twenty years from now, as compared to some other approach, is not likely to prove widely convincing, since such a small difference will be utterly lost in the noise of the arguments over the details.

There are specific details, costs and returns.


..Particularly drowned in the noise of your arguments.

Alan has shared many detailed proposals for things that may work, and why. Could you be troubled to do as much for your reasons that they won't, or are you just waving, not drowning?

Whatever; see downthread for an example of the problems that arise when actual lists of proposals are propounded (as opposed to merely asserting that people ought to get with an unstated program.) It all still looks more like a psychological test revealing pre-existing notions of how remake society and order people around, than anything else.

Alan - But you highight the problem better than I did: you offer a list of very worthwhile goals...few would argue against them. But these are goals...not methods to reach them. You offer valid ideas on the ultility of rail to help reach these goals. But look at the flack you get from some folks. Folks who might agree with you 100% on the goals but completely reject you specifics on getting there. And lets be honest: your views on rail utilization are rather simple and straight forward. The complexity of other "solutions" results in even more division of thought.

Decisions are often made by means other than incisive discussion of the facts (one of the appeals of TOD).

For "Appeal to Authority" have two well respected institutions - one right, one left - partner up. The novelty of bi-partisan effort will be very appealing just for that. Add the appeal of respected authorities looking at *ALL* options, from deep green to deep brown. #

Have the conservative partner suggest a way to pay for the chosen options.

For "Fear" write articles for the military like my draft "An Overlooked Existential Threat".

Then appeal to the larger tribe - American nationalism - to get off oil.

And appeal to "common sense". Bring out ideas that most people have not seriously considered, or considered at all, but they "get" easily. Electrified and expanded rail is one such.

Best Hopes for Success :-)


# My guess for some top ranking ideas (bang for buck)

- Electrified and expanded rail
- Making bicycling easier and safer
- Urban Rail
- Ethanol and/or methanol from natural gas

Gosh, Alan, as one who has always admired your passion and your stubborness in proposing ways forward, I agree that we few need to keep pounding away at the immense blocks of unsustainable 'progress' that most, especially in the US seem to feel entitled to, even as these blocks crumble on their own. Creating foundations for inevitable change is critical, if frustrating, work. The forces against changing the status quo are massive. We live in a truly deluded society.

I ran into old friends last night whom I haven't seen for a few years. Hard working, competent and intellegent, it took just a few minutes to realize that their denial is complete. They have made a consious effort to "look on the bright side" (their words), avoiding any inconvenient truths with a passion, perhaps equal to yours. I know far too many folks that have made this choice. This encounter surprised me a bit, as I used to know this couple as being quite progressive.

Realizing that my take on things hasn't changed in the 15 years we've known each other, they quickly made their excuses and moved on, wanting only reinforcement of their world view, intolerant of any challenges. They revealed that they had moved several years ago to a house around the corner from their old home. "It's smaller, and can get satellite TV". It had never occured to me that their old place had no access to television. The change in their outlook, since 'tuning in' is remarkable.

I would add this to your list: Outlaw television.

Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent has evolved to Manufacturing Delusion, Manufacturing Denial, Manufacturing Distraction, Manufacturing Division, Manufacturing Control, Maintaining The Status Quo.

Ninety-nine percent of American households have at least one television and the majority of households have more than one. As a whole, the television networks of the United States are the largest and most syndicated in the world.[1]


It's no wonder folks like you and I (and many here on TOD) may feel like voices in the wilderness. Our task, really, is to counter this 'Invasion Of The Mind Snatchers', a tough nut to crack. I, for one, have no choice but to hold the line. Keep up the good works..

Thanks for the kind words.

Outlawing television is a "Bridge too Far" IMO. Besides I watch it sometimes too :-)

I am aware that I have none of the traditional levers of power. But I am also aware that few, very few, people are attempting what I am attempting.

I am looking for leverage points. Others publish books and try and create mass movements.

And I look for "natural" transitions, anticipate and use them. Sophisticated and risky analysis.

My approach is more back channel - almost person to person with those with influence. This requires a convincing story - and a convincing way of arguing.

If you, or anyone else, wants an incomplete draft of my military/National Security targeted article, please eMail me.

Best Hopes :-)


This can't be said enough. Thanks for pushing the noodle.

Outlawing television is a "Bridge too Far" IMO.

If things get "bad enuf" the government will just demand of the cable firms 'as a temporary measure in these extraordinary times' give away cable TV to help keep people in their homes and off the streets.

few, very few, people are attempting what I am attempting.

How does your plan line the pockets of the monied class?

The present way to large profits in a short period of time is via Government intervention. The more you control the government you have, you may be able to ship bad product and never get investigated. Unless the plan enables transfer of large amounts of money to the 'traditional levers of power' - not much is gonna happen 'till this tradition changes.

As an example: Carbon credit schemes allow the money classed to line their pockets - 70% of the money spent doesn't go to the actual reduction of Carbon ... it goes to "profit takers".

I kind of like the alternate Bumper Sticker..


but as with Alan, I think that's one issue that has to be approached with guile.. the direct line won't have a prayer.

My ('keep it positive, please') wife just mused about armageddon the other day, after Norway and after our Governor pulled a few more slick ones. TV pulls a heavy mask over reality, and people are really eager to keep the mask up.. but reality does trump in the end.. 'after we've exhausted all the other possibilities..' it seems.

I killed my TV about the time of the switch to digital broadcasting. I don't miss it. Occasionally I watch a little cable at a relative's place. It is awful.

High speed internet is great, but you have to be creative or you can get bogged down going to the same web sites over and over. It becomes like watching the same TV channels all the time.

I like You Tube. There's a lot of good stuff hidden among the trash.

One of the things I like is rail travel videos which no doubt would bore some people to death. I find them relaxing. It's a form of escapism I suppose.

Swiss rail is nearly always good for spectacular scenery.

Here is an Swiss electrified rail trip from St. Moritz to Alp Grum:


"Swiss electrified rail trip" video

THERE's a whole 'nother world... And lots of others on the page.
A little private-compartment themed room with three projection video-screens as walls... Fans for breeze... Could be nice!

I gave up on TV altogether at the same point: at the transition to digital. There was nothing on by then, and there was no way to get any real news anymore.

I gave up television over thirty five years ago when I shared a house for a couple of years with some semi radical friends with long hair AND jobs-no tv allowed there.

We had a real social life together, with many friends constantly coming and going, music live and recorded, games,gardening, campfires, and wonderful conservations.

People were always dropping in PRECISELY BECAUSE there was no tv to deaden the social scene.

Television addiction is a disaster comparable to opium in terms of it's effect on the life of a habitual boob tube addict.

Probably ten percent of the people I know are addicted-most of them kids.

I have used the free time gained since getting rid of tv to read a couple of thousand serious books and master a bakers dozen new skill sets.

One thing about new skills that most people fail to appreciate is that is that there is a lot of carryover-each new set is easier and faster to learn than the last.

Once you have the first two or three, the others come in a fraction of the time-a fraction which diminishes with each new set of skills.

And there's this oldie but goodie - winter railroading in the Canadian Rockies (circa 1958). One of my grandson's very favorites. Actually found this linked on TOD some time ago:

I gave up TV many years ago....

The T.E.D is a great site.


Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

Exactly. It's one thing to embrace a set of goals - sets of goals are a dime a dozen - and quite another altogether to agree on the specifics of how to get there. Especially when some of the specifics involve heavy-handed one-size-fits-all intervention into the smallest details of people's diverse lives.

IOW name one cause that would pull out a majority of Americans.

How about "Oil Independence".

Pure and simple - get the US to the point where it does need to import any oil from anywhere other than Mexico and Canada.

This would be a combination of oil efficiency measures, increased domestic oil production, and increased use of alt fuels - CNG, ethanol, electric, GtL (methanol)

Focus on this and this only. All the money that is currently allocated to doing domestic stuff for CO2 reductions (subsidies for wind, solar, etc) is redirected to stuff for oil use reductions.
-Reinstate the cash for clunkers program- with the caveat that it is for retiring the old car - whether or not you buy a new one.
-Adopt the euro diesel emission standards, so that all the diesel cars already being produced there, can be produced here.
-Partly fund the deployment of CNG stations at major truckstops along all Interstate routes
-Partly fund the conversion of municipal bus fleets to CNG
-Partly fund the development of "multi fuel diesel engines" for cars- i.e. that can run on diesel, ethanol, methanol, CNG
-Pay a subsidy, equal to half the $7k electric subsidy, for vehicles produced with factory fitted CNG, and/or "multi fuel diesel engines"
-Phase out the use of heating oil
-Phase out the use of oil for large scale electricity production (Florida and Hawaii)

Place a tariff on off-continent oil imports. Have "continent of origin" labelling for retail petroluem fuel, (done in the same way as buying green electricity) so that people can actively buy local in preference to imported.

Open up ANWAR and other Federal areas (offshore, etc). Let the States decide whether they will open up their own areas, and those that refuse to do so pay an "import duty" on oil produced from Federal leases within/offshore said State.

Do the gas-to-methanol project at the Alaskan north slope, and pipe the methanol along the TAPS for use as methanol fuel.

Plus many others...

Target - decrease imports by 1mbd per year until gone.

But at least there is a simple, understandable, measurable goal that most everyone would agree is a "good thing".

Though, of course, everyone would disagree on how to get there...

I would dismiss all but the two on the bottom your list as marginal or not worth doing.

I do agree with

- Phase out the use of heating oil
- Phase out the use of oil for large scale electricity production (Florida and Hawaii) and Puerto Rico.

Better results would come from

- Electrify and expand the railroads and induce truck freight to shift to rail
- Massively build out urban rail
- Make bicycling much safer and easier to do
- Raise gas & diesel taxes to
- - Cover 100% if road maintenance (now <50%)
- - Cover 100% of Special Transportation needs for those that cannot drive (now paid for by transit systems)
- - Cover cost of Iraq War, plus accumulated interest
- - Devote 25% of total tax collected to other needs, like schools or defense.

Higher pump prices are the best way to promote efficiency.

I would strongly oppose reducing wind subsidies. Corn ethanol subsidies, yes.

On the list -

-Reinstate the cash for clunkers program-

A waste of money. Just raise gas taxes.

-Adopt the euro diesel emission standards, so that all the diesel cars already being produced there, can be produced here.

H'mmm - Risk of asthma, air pollution. EU does not have the same density of traffic we do. Perhaps for sale and operation in air pollution attainment areas.

-Partly fund the deployment of CNG stations at major truckstops along all Interstate routes

NO !!! Move trucks to rail, NOT more subsidies

-Partly fund the conversion of municipal bus fleets to CNG

And Garbage trucks.

-Partly fund the development of "multi fuel diesel engines" for cars- i.e. that can run on diesel, ethanol, methanol, CNG

Let industry do this.

-Pay a subsidy, equal to half the $7k electric subsidy, for vehicles produced with factory fitted CNG, and/or "multi fuel diesel engines"

Spend the money on urban rail and bicycles.

- Place a tariff on off-continent oil imports. Have "continent of origin" labelling for retail petroluem fuel, (done in the same way as buying green electricity) so that people can actively buy local in preference to imported.

Useless, Oil is fungible.

- Open up ANWAR and other Federal areas (offshore, etc). Let the States decide whether they will open up their own areas, and those that refuse to do so pay an "import duty" on oil produced from Federal leases within/offshore said State.

Burn today instead of tomorrow - faster depletion - bad idea.

Do the gas-to-methanol project at the Alaskan north slope, and pipe the methanol along the TAPS for use as methanol fuel.

Leave that NG as a strategic reserve for later.

Well, I did say people would disagree on the details....

I didn't mention the electrified and urban rail since you already brought those up - but I should have said "plus Alan's rail plans"

I would strongly oppose reducing wind subsidies.

Well, they save precisely zero oil - so how do they help with this plan to shift all our energy efforts to eliminating oil imports?

Raise gas & diesel taxes to..

Well, as soon as we do this, we suddenly get almost everyone*against* the program, and I am trying to get everyone *for* it. That is why I prefer the import tariff. Tax the stuff from the bad guys, and identify it at point of sale, so that people can "buy American". It may well be the same price or only marginally cheaper, but if they idea is to stop importing oil, then a good first step is to identify the imported oil so people can choose to buy local.

- Place a tariff on off-continent oil imports. Have "continent of origin" labelling for retail petroluem fuel, (done in the same way as buying green electricity) so that people can actively buy local in preference to imported.

Useless, Oil is fungible.

No, very useful indeed. Electricity is even more fungible, and you can buy green electricity today. In fact, it would be entirely possible, in the electricity business, today, to offer the customer their choice of fuel - whether they wanted to buy, NG, coal, nuclear or renewable - that would *very* interesting to see what retail customers choose, don't you think? It matters not where your actual electrons came from, it matters which sources you are buying. The exact same plan can apply to fuel sales.

We already have a crude version of product differentiation with some stations advertising "ethanol free". It would not be much harder for some stations to choose to only buy domestic fuel and be "import free".

-Reinstate the cash for clunkers program-

A waste of money. Just raise gas taxes.

I disagree here. For people who have low incomes, just raising gas taxes doesn't help them, and it makes their old cars worth less, and they can;t afford to buy a new efficient one. But the cash for clunkers does get the clunkers off the road, permanently, and they might just go from being a two car family to one, etc. Ditto for city families with access to transit - if that is the nudge they need to get rid of the 2nd car, then great.

-Partly fund the deployment of CNG stations at major truckstops along all Interstate routes

NO !!! Move trucks to rail, NOT more subsidies

Well, no matter what you do with rail, you can't move ALL the trucks to rail. Even if you shift 90% to rail, the remaining 10% will still use more oil than the rail industry does today. Electrified rail will outcompete highway trucking in most cases, but not all. The remaining ones should be running on NG instead of diesel.

The highway NG stations also supports the growth of NG cars, as sparse fuelling stations is currently a big strike against them.

-Partly fund the development of "multi fuel diesel engines" for cars- i.e. that can run on diesel, ethanol, methanol, CNG

Let industry do this.

Well, that is just like saying "let the rail industry electrify themselves" - it hasn't, and won't happen, without a government push. industry hasn't done much on these engiones, and won't. I think government money spent on this sort of R&D is actually well spent - solve the problem once, and it's solved forever. Not only that, it then makes the domestic engine mfrs the world leaders in high efficiency, multi fuel engines - there is potentially great value to be had from that.

-Pay a subsidy, equal to half the $7k electric subsidy, for vehicles produced with factory fitted CNG, and/or "multi fuel diesel engines"

Spend the money on urban rail and bicycles.

It is not either/or, both can be done. People who would buy the cars with the multi-fuel diesel engines are more likely to be those that do lots of long distance driving (travelling salesmen, etc) - urban rail and bike paths etc are not much help to this person.

- Open up ANWAR and other Federal areas (offshore, etc). Let the States decide whether they will open up their own areas, and those that refuse to do so pay an "import duty" on oil produced from Federal leases within/offshore said State.

Burn today instead of tomorrow - faster depletion - bad idea.

Well, the idea is to try to get everyone, or as many people, on board as possible. There is a large segment that supports drilling Anwar etc. It may well turn out there is nothing there, but why wait to find out?

Depleting faster - yes, this will aid the transition away from oil to electricity etc.

Same applies to Alaska NG.

Remember, my proposal is to do everything possible to get oil imports to zero, as soon as possible. I am not sure here if you are just disagreeing with some of my suggested ways of doing this, or if you disagree with the concept. Saving oil in the ground for later does not help reduce imports today - should we then deliberately shut in existing production to "save for later"?

The oil industry is advertising that they can supply all this domestic oil - let them try. At least it is not money going to KSA, etc.

The key point was to have a plan that almost everyone can support./ That means it needs to have "something for everyone". Those that want to expand domestic production get to do so. Those that want to pursue electrification, alternate fuels etc get to do so. Those that want to stick it to KSA at the fuel pump get to do so.

Anything that reduces oil imports is in, and anything that doesn't (like subsidies for wind and solar) is out - keep it simple, understandable and focused.

Then, and only then, is it likely to both be implemented and succeed.

Wind - Ending wind subsidies means more NG burned. Despite propaganda, we do not have an inexhaustible supply of NG.

Also bring back 30% tax credit for insulation, tankless NG heater, etc. to save more NG.

NG will be used directly for some transportation, methanol/ethanol from NG for other + electricity for transportation.

NG is the easiest and fastest source of more electricity absent wind. Wind is needed to both save NG and to help produce some of the additional electricity.

Raise gas & diesel taxes - Free lunches are always popular! Already gas & diesel taxes pay for <50% of road maintenance. A $30 to $40 billion annual subsidy for drivers.

Transit has to pay for Special transit - doctor's visits, etc for those that cannot drive or take the bus. Simple equity makes gas taxes a better source.

And the Iraq War needs to be paid for (plus interest). The good conservative principal of "user pays" suggests a tariff on imported oil (non-NAFTA).

To minimize the pain and maximize the impact - wait two years before increasing taxes and then increase them by a penny/month.

Label source of oil - Functionally impossible. Blending different feedstocks from various sources to get the gasoline desired, and then tanks and pipelines mix different batches, etc. I have little doubt that many service stations have crude from half a dozen nations in them.

Cash for Clunkers - Truly a waste of money. The idea is to drive fewer miles in more economic cars.

Instead, tax lower mpg cars/SUVs and give some of those dollars back to Prius & Fit buyers. After enough years, used economical cars will appear in used car lots for $2,500 and $1,200. There are some there now.

Put $ if poor people's pockets by other means than "cash for clunkers".

LNG truckstops - Long distance trucks will have to use higher density LNG, not CNG. So no cross fueling with CNG cars.

Concentrate on the better alternative - electrified railroads. In fifteen or twenty years, revisit the issue for the irreducible minimum of trucking is left.

The electricity used to make LNG or CNG is 90% and 80% of the electricity to actually move the same ton-miles by electrified double stack trains. The NG is just waste when goods move by LNG truck instead of electrified rail.

Fund R&D for multi-fuel diesels - Probably few $ and no harm done if small $. But I hesitate to support politically directed R&D in general. So OK, if less than $100 million in gov't $ (industry should put some $ too).

Drill ANWR - Reduce imports today, increase them tomorrow - *IF* available then. We need to save ANWR for truly critical uses in the future.

More later.

Wind - Ending wind subsidies means more NG burned. Despite propaganda, we do not have an inexhaustible supply of NG.

Actually, building more wind increases NG consumption via NG peaking plants, since they are about the only option for more peak power (as there is not much more large hydro to be built). All of this displaces coal, which is well and good, but still has no real connection to displacing oil.

Same with tax credits for insulation etc... Sure they save electricity, but my plan here is to put *all* resources (especially govt) towards displacing oil imports. if you don;t agree with this concept then just say you don;t agree with it.

Label source of oil - Functionally impossible. Blending different feedstocks from various sources to get the gasoline desired, and then tanks and pipelines mix different batches, etc. I have little doubt that many service stations have crude from half a dozen nations in them.

You are still missing the point here. You do not need to physically track the oil (even though some gas stations are physically tracking the non ethanol fuel) All it has to be is that the retailers buy "credits" for whatever share of domestic production they want to sell. There are, of course, only as many domestic credits available as barrels actually produced. And that's it, just like the electricity trading systems.

It matches perfectly with an import tariff - you could raise this a penny per month, but I would start out higher. A retailer could have side by side pumps labelled domestic and imported, coming from the same storage tank. But if you buy from the imported pump, you are paying the embedded tariff on imported oil. If you buy the domestic pomp, you are not, but the retailer must buy credits for the domestic product. The system is *completely* separated from all intermediate parts of the physical product supply chain, other than the point of import or domestic wellhead.

Cash for Clunkers - Truly a waste of money. The idea is to drive fewer miles in more economic cars...
Put $ if poor people's pockets by other means than "cash for clunkers".

It is precisely the same concept as the home insulation credits you like - pay people to take an action that eliminates wasteful energy usage. I think if we are to put $ in their pockets, that requiring them to do something to reduce oil usage is a reasonable quid pro quo. Paying people to get rid of the only device they own that directly consumes oil is not a bad way. Then they can decide whether or not to buy a new(er) car, or new bikes, walking shoes, etc.

By the way, in my scheme, the cash for clunkers payment is taxable, as are all other rebates etc paid to individuals or businesses - your SS number is recorded at the time of purchase and the payments *must* show up on your tax return.

I have no problem with a fuel rating tax levied on vehicles at the point of sale - the UK does that. That tax, is, of course, *not* tax deductible on you income tax.

LNG truckstops - Long distance trucks will have to use higher density LNG, not CNG. So no cross fueling with CNG cars.

Well, they don;t have to, but it is indeed a batter way. That is one for the industry to sort out. In any case, if you have an LNG fueling station, you might as well have a CNG one too - I doubt we'll see LNG cars.

Concentrate on the better alternative - electrified railroads. In fifteen or twenty years, revisit the issue for the irreducible minimum of trucking is left.

In that fifteen to to twenty years, there will be billions of barrels of oil needlessly burned. CNG/LNG conversions can start tomorrow. Before the end of that trucks life (<10yrs) the electric railroads will be taking the lions share of freight, we hope. The trucks that get retired first will be the oldest diesel ones leaving the newest dual fuel ones on the road, so we will have an almost oil-less fleet by that time. The NG conversions will have more than paid for themselves in oil savings by the time the national electric railroad is done

The electricity used to make LNG or CNG is 90% and 80% of the electricity to actually move the same ton-miles by electrified double stack trains. The NG is just waste when goods move by LNG truck instead of electrified rail.

This is true but not all goods can move by rail - it is only good for the places where it is served. It will be quite some years before your network is ready. Trucking uses 2mbd of oil, if this is cut in half by NG conversions, that is $36bn/yr not spent on oil imports. If it is five years to do all the double tracking etc, that is $180bn saved on oil imports in that time.

Also, looking at where the NG pipelines ad the Interstate cross, gives logical places to do fuelling stations - chances are there is truckstop nearby, so you can take the high pressure NG and just compress/liquefy from there. The reject heat of compression/liquefaction can always be used for other stuff like space heating, hot water etc - it need not be completely wasted.

Fund R&D for multi-fuel diesels - Probably few $ and no harm done if small $. But I hesitate to support politically directed R&D in general. So OK, if less than $100 million in gov't $ (industry should put some $ too).

I would spend a bit more than that. The development of a truly omnivorous, efficient engine has very wide applications. Not just cars, but every tractor, bulldozer, ship, stationary diesel engine etc etc has the potential to benefit. It goes hand in hand with dual fuelling trucks on NG, but the abililty to run all of these engines on almost any combination of fuels (except gasoline) prevnets any individual fuel (or fuel cartel) from controlling the market. It is truly competitive between the fuels. So we might see corn ethanol being used to co-fuel Iowa tractors instead of being shipped to Hawaii, and so.

I include ANWAR because I agree with Rockmans stance - at least some people will hod out that somehow it can save the country - when it probably can;t, so better to prove that sooner, so that then everyone can get on with the real work. if there is some oil there, then there is a decision to be made about immediate v deferred production.

Again, the concept here is to pull out all stops to slow the drain of oil money from the country as quickly as possible - in effect a "fast tracking". As is always the case, this is not as resources efficient as doing it slower, and focusing on only the very best ways.

To use your term I am looking for something greater than maximum commercial effort but less than maximum wartime effort. It needs to be something where people can see fairly quick results for the inconvenience/expense they will be incurring. Otherwise, the opposition partly will paint it as a failure and withdraw support.

When the question on any purchase, service or action is "will this use more imported oil, or less?", the decisions become easier.

It also has the bonus of firmly OPEC etc as the bad guys, and empowering individuals, directly, to take actions. America does best when it has an external adversary to rail against, otherwise Americans rail against each other. This may not be strictly the best technical/ engineering way on energy reform, but I think it is the most likely way to get wide agreement and motivation from the public.

And that is what master Rockman was asking for in throwing this particular bone amongst us dogs.

Wind still reduces NG use more than increases it, IMHO. Texas still burns NG for baseload and coal can load follow - within limits.

Raise NG prices to $8 - $10 and, for better or worse, more wind will reduce reduce NG use much more than coal use. Building pumped storage makes wind + pumped storage viable (with coal after several calm days).

I could buy a "false labeling" of gasoline origin if it passes the PR test.

Insulation - In the summer more insulation shaves off the summer peak - almost 100% NG in the USA. In the winter, saves NG (about half) electricity, propane and heating oil (till phased out).

My view is somewhat holistic. If we significantly increase NG in one area (transportation, directly or indirectly), we need to reduce NG use in other areas.

A greater delta between us may be the time horizon.

Yes, we are facing a major, perhaps existential problem in the near future. But our problems will not end in 2020 or 2025. And our problems will include Climate Change.

Running low on NG in 2035 will not be good. Modest modifications now will allow a less NG dependent and lower carbon economy to develop between now and then.

Let me think @ the political issues some more before responding.

Best Hopes,


Real politics will result in a less than ideal program in the end. The enemy of the good is the perfect.

That said, while we are still just speculating amongst ourselves, I see no compelling reason to outline anything less than a "very good" solution with long term sustainable targets.

Compromise and half measures can, and will, come later.

Best Hopes,


Real politics will result in a less than ideal program in the end.

The US politics seems to be heading, I suspect it will result in no program at all!

Agree absolutely that perfect is the enemy of good, and a favourite of detractors to point out that because something is not perfect, it is should not be done at all.

But I think another enemy of good enough is spreading resources too thinly - governments try to do something on all fronts, to placate as many people as possible, which usually results in very poor value for money. You may have a better read on tis than I, but the money allocated for "high speed rail" seems to be a good example, where not much will actually be achieved, other than a lot of studies etc.

Hence my suggestion on putting all gov efforts onto oil, and only oil. If the energy related proposal does not directly reduce oil imports (i.e. conservation or domestic production), then it doesn't get done. That does not mean that all possible options do get done, they still have to justify themselves in some fashion, but if it doesn't save oil, don;t bother bringing it to the gov.

This will never happen, of course, unless there is another OPEC oil embargo or similar, to back the gov into a corner.

But, in my opinion the best way to solve America's dependence on imported oil is to make it the first and only energy priority, until it is achieved. If this means more coal plants produce more electricity for a few more years, or less PV/Wind gets installed, so be it.

Once the goal is achieved, I think the structural changes that will have happened to achieve it (electric rail, ev's, phasing out oil fired electricity) will encourage more renewable electricity anyway.

Another interesting aspect of such a policy would be the alt fuels - get rid of the ethanol mandate, and have some better policy that enables - but not directly subsidise - all the alts - there can be more than one winner there.

I do agree that electrified rail, both freight and passenger, is the single best thing, but it also seems to be the single hardest thing for the US to get moving on. The freight co's don;t seem that interested, and everyone seems to want high speed rail or none at all. Perfect is certainly the enemy of good(fast) enough there...

People have different priorities - as does reality. Focusing on a single goal will be sub-optimal.

I can easily see where we believe we have "100 years of NG" (when we really have just xx years) and we start using it for EVERYTHING. Then we zoom past Peak Natural Gas in a hurry. Deja Vu Peak Oil all over again.

Maintaining the existing wind incentives will not detract from oil reduction efforts (actually help them by reducing NG prices).

And a 30% Income Tax Credit for home insulation has permanent benefits and minimal costs.

OKing more coal would lose my personal support.

The USA can afford "to walk and chew gum" at the same time (despite recent evidence to the contrary in DC).

Best Hopes,


Sorry for the delay - internet problems

tax policy

Remove the IRS 179 restriction for solar/wind/microhydro/whatver renewable.

After enough years, used economical cars will appear in used car lots for $2,500 and $1,200. There are some there now.

Years ago a junk car was worth $50.

Now its $400.

Years ago the car lot calling itself cars from $1295 and up was called $895 and up and before that it was $595 and up and started as $395 and up.

Phase out heating oil...

Ouch! I think I'm gonna have to move...

It is a lot more difficult to advocate implementing a solution than to oppose perpetuating a problem.

I am aware of this.

But it is more fun :-)

Best Hopes for Partial Solutions,


Why the silence?

I would suggest "Pain Killers" .. in various ways, we are still numbed-out from the pain. There isn't enough hunger and deprivation.. yet.

But the Madison, WI. Protests were enough to remind me that it's only late, it isn't missing altogether. It'll come.

Thanks folks, and please excuse my upstream rant. I am frustrated but not blaming anyone in particular. For awhile this past winter the unending slide and the knowledge of this situation really took a toll on my wife and I. I know the slide is happening, and I know what so many post about the overshoot is true, (how could it not be?), but some days it feels like everything I believed in is/was wrong. I yearn for the innocent days of "cruising the dubs", which was the highway route through our small town that race tracked the local AW and the stop light about two miles away. Working hard by day, playing hard nights, trying to get lucky, knowing we could be/do anything we set our mind to, was a life that was probably spoiled and unrealistic, but it was just the way it was. Now, it seems like the die is cast and the game is a losing bet.

This is what I think will really happen. It will be as a few of you said. Anger....situational and subjective anger. The economy will do that part. But what I really fear is Climate Change and bad harvests. When the news comes on and the scenes of Somalia hits the screen I can't stand it. The suffering....the children....the unfortunate luck to be born in Northern Africa. Could this really be multiplied by 10 with a few poor farming years? Of course it can. Why wouldn't it happen? We can't control the weather, or much of anything. What's going to happen then?

What do we do locally when the decline gets really serious? I think about this a lot and will probably do what I can for family and relatives, but that isn't enough. Meanwhile, three reactors are still in melt down, the heat wave is unending, or the rainfall, (if this isn't climate changing I don't know what it is), the economies are in free fall, and the jerks in Washinton play political chicken with only an eye for 2012. They don't fricking care about any of this.

Quite frankly, on some days the TOD community has been a lifeline. I log on and read the familiar posts and know there are others grappling with their own 'coming to terms'. Situational? You bet. Do the opinions apply to all or everywhere? No, but there are some constants on TOD: energy information, energy conservation, lighting and PV suggestions, gardening information, transportation solutions, and hope. Plus, the info is linked and or backed up by solid data. It has been a godsend, as my mom would say.

There will be a time, and it will be different for all of us, where we will have to step up. It might be at that staff meeting, workshop, or dinner. One day, the information will be so overwhelming and the situation(s) so dire the conversations will be about nothing else and those with knowledge will have to do something. Some of you folks on TOD have already been key players in bringing awareness and knowledge to others....like me. The analogy is planting a seed.

I watched the BBC news yesterday and they showed people marching in protest across Spain. Town to town, along the highways, and it was plain to see the deliberate action. Maybe it is time for Spain and Greece to be like Iceland and raise that middle finger to the banks? Why not? The solutions offered seem pretty one-sided right now. Anyway, the march reminded me of those Viet Nam era protests that so changed the world. It is probably on the way and just around the corner.

Back to the garden and off the computer.....

Maybe it won't require protest. As you pointed out ... "The analogy is planting a seed."

I ran across an article about how ideas reach a 'tipping poing'.

Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

...when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

Just keep planting those seeds

Please don't use the 100% tag when you post images. While that works for making large images smaller, it's a mess when it results in making small images bigger.

If an image is too large to fit comfortably on the average screen, thumbnail it or link it, don't use HTML code to re-size it.

The images made for news stories are generally the right size to post as-is, since they're usually created for web use.

It can become a TOD rallying cry: "Just ten percent! Just ten percent!"

Alternet today has an article by Frank Schaeffer that snaps several things into focus.

It's become a progressive truism that a handful of right-wing billionaires have bought the government and run the media. It's widely noticed that the right-wing treats any Democratic administration as illegitimate. It's often remarked that the right-wing has its own facts -- Bush spokesmen boasted of it. These disturbing observations become frightening as Schaeffer frames them.

It's also been noted that the John Birch Society has been around for a long time, and that the Tea Party seems an extension of it. But when there was a large and secure middle class, the Birchers were considered fringe elements, no threat to the public order that gave society its identity. But oligarchs have been clever -- they exported the middle-classes' means of support, and moved to privatize all things public (schools, prisons, armed forces, etc.). Now the fringe looms large.

One more puzzle piece: the Dominionists. They don't consider just the Democrats to be illegitimate -- they hold democracy to be illegitimate. They think that people should be governed by their betters, by authorities who may use religion as their cloak but whose wealth and position is inherent. The assault on liberals, the left, and moderates is only the beginning. The end is to be theocracy and rule by decree.

Schaeffer believes that Oklahoma City and Norwegian type attacks will become more common, until some sort of strong-man government begins to look preferable to anarchy. The Tea Party is a decoy and distraction -- the Dominionists and the oligarchs are the philosophers and financiers of a revolution in progress. We need a better sense of our enemies.

Dennis Meadows - co-author of ‘Limits to Growth’ – notes that those pesky facts that the Tea Party people have been trained to despise complicate the equation. The oligarchs’ power grab is coming at a time of peak everything: As Meadows says, “We also have 5 or 6 other peaks to contend with, leave aside peak oil: peak water, peak food, peak climate and so forth, and collectively they are going to cause a lot of problems."

"In theory we could use peak oil as an opportunity to rethink our society, our reliance on the military and so forth. In practice we’re not going to do that. In practice what will happen, as it becomes clear that peak oil is a reality, the rich and powerful will grab as much as they can, and not worry much about the poor and the weak. What happens after that I’m not sure. If the rich and the powerful can manage to grab a lot, they can sustain a lifestyle for a long time!”

So, yeah. We're in trouble.

...the economies are in free fall, and the jerks in Washinton play political chicken with only an eye for 2012. They don't fricking care about any of this.

Paulo, I suspect the sentiments you express are held by many TODers. You might be interested in Dave Cohen's Decline of the Empire blog where he expresses these sentiments in greatly detailed form.

The future doesn't look too bright.

Fantastic link. Thanks

"And if we call things by their proper names so as to root them out, to fully absorb what is going on, we can see our government as it really is—dysfunctional, corrupt and illegitimate. That has never been more obvious than it is right now during the manufactured debt ceiling "crisis"—we can see the extortion, looting, capture and propaganda in real time."

I suppose it is worthwhile to participate in the underground economy as much as possible, etc....in short, to disengage. This could be a real protest that serves us better than corrupt Govt.

You know when you are passing through an area and wonder what lives are like, those folks whose home seems quiet, or those who look up at you as you drive by? Maybe the goal is to be that way, the ones just looking up at the hustle and bustle of the engaged citizens driving by in their structured lives. We live in a rural area, very quiet. There are many just getting by....for generations. For the last few years our charitable donations have gone from mainstream outfits like the Canadian Cancer Society and United Way to our local scholarship fund. We used to give a lot, but when they started sending pens and note pads in the mail we said, "nevermore". Now, Arthur got to attend trade school or Julie could afford her books at University. The only stipulation we attach to our contributions is that the money goes to need, and the student cannot use it to attend a 'for profit' and/or private institution.

The point of all this is that if citizens quit playing the engaged game as much as possible, it will be noticed. I hope.

After all, they got rid of the Draft for a reason. Now, let's give the building inspectors a holiday, or the over engineered septic system cartel a kick in the ass, as well as those who outlaw direct farm purchases, etc etc etc. I work at a public high school, but last year I had a student who I think was the best educated and prepared individual I have ever met. He graduated with no certification attached because his education was spotty and undocumented/tested. He grew up on an island and was home schooled. He is an awesome welder, has trained in blacksmithing down in Oregon, plays the fiddle, builds custom bicycles, and is now a carpenter apprentice. I mention this stuff in my disjointed way to finally get to this one point.

There are other ways to live and we are being forced into change by circumstances, anyway. A paradigm shift has occured for many of us, so now lets move on and live deliberately with less stuff, fewer commitments to those who mean nothing to us, and really focus in on core values that can make our world a better place for others.

I think the proper way to begin is downsize and get rid of stuff stuff stuff, and stop wasting time on the tread mill. Give them nothing to steal, and look disdainful at the lying organizations. Ghandi had it right. So did Thoreau and Ken Kesey.

Cheers and all that. Paulo

I agree that there will be a time when we may be asked to step up, and I completely support the tone and theme of your post.

However, my feeling is that protest no longer is an effective means of social change. The protest in New York against the Iraq war drew 250,000 people...


This was actually larger than the 1971 protest in Washington...


And yes, I know, wiki is not always a reliable source, but the Washington numbers are probably good because they were gathered before the corporatization of media was so entrenched, and the New York numbers are probably good because I talked to people who were there, and I saw aerial footage. There was a formula for figuring the number of people by how many city blocks the protestors occupied. I don't remember what it was, but it was familiar math at the time.

So I do think there is a fallacy in the idea that people, or Americans, do not protest, and are complacent couch potatoes. I think it's a myth designed to breed helplessness.

What happened was, the New York Times simply reported that 50,000 people showed up, and buried the story.

The vector for social change has got to be something different this time around. Not sure what it is, but I feel like I'm somehow closer to understanding what it might be than I was a few months ago.

Many other papers just cropped out large amounts of people from photographs of similar events to make it look like there is less people.
The media is not on our side and with the attacks on internet freedoms along with the short amount of time the internet has left due to the energy requirements to keep it going our only means of getting around them is rapidly dying.

I participated in anti-Bush war marches in San Francisco and felt, also, that the media under reported the number of people in the event. I did my own estimates by counting lines of people and blocks of marchers. I believe the press reports were off by an easy 50%.

For awhile this past winter the unending slide and the knowledge of this situation really took a toll on my wife and I

Us too. Watching it unravel, in just the way you have learned to expect; it's like watching the beginning of an avalanche break free beneath and all around you- a sort of sinking horror combined with a wash of fear. Our diet is shifting by the month with the meteoric price rises in groceries.

the jerks in Washington play political chicken with only an eye for 2012. They don't fricking care about any of this

We were just talking about it last night. Of course they don't care; they're stinking rich, every last one of them. Think about it- you can't even get into Washington DC unless you're a multimillionaire. None of this affects them in the slightest; thus, the playing of billiards with our lives as the balls.

Back to the garden...

I find myself utterly unable to even look at the garden. If I do not receive my Social Security check, and I mean precisely on time, then by September 5th I and my family will have no place to live. Makes it rather pointless to tend the tomatoes, doesn't it.

As to why Americans are not protesting... Ever see one of those tv specials all about the wonderful heat-seeking, see-through-concrete-walls, chase-you-down-with-its-onboard-camera, see-in-the-dark anti-personnel missiles the US has? Most Americans have. That's why there's no protests. Nor will there ever be. The days of winning anything at all with protests are long, long gone.


...Naw, I don't think THAT's the reason.

They've got us hating each-other pretty good, though.
I don't ever remember this level of hate pouring out of the radio. Or on TV. They promise not to inspire protests, but lynchings or "sprees".

There were protests to the wars, but they never made it into wider public view through the mainstream media. No coffins were shown on TV. Whenever there is loss of life, all the public gets to see is a few men in a small pickup truck driving past a divot in the street with a few pieces of metal scattered about. This is the basic, allowed imagery shown over and over and over again for years and years and years. "Embedded" reporters means, basically, ingested. The corporate government learned the lessons of Vietnam well: Show nothing to the public.

The economic collapse was blamed on ACORN. A lot of the American Public still believes this explanation. Hard to mount a protest against an impoverished and destroyed foe.

And now they have the public crying for them to hurry up and do something about the debt. Debt is what we sell to other countries. It is product. The other countries are not complaining about the debt, they're complaining, loudly, about "Helicopter Ben" stealing from them and giving to the banks through the process of printing money: "Quantitative Easing". Meanwhile, the American public seems willing to quietly throw their children upon the fire if it will appease the debt monster lavishly ornamented by the media. Sacrifice is the opposite of protest.

George Carlin
The American Dream
The Illusion of Freedom

If I do not receive my Social Security check, and I mean precisely on time, then by September 5th I and my family will have no place to live.

You might want to start learning how to oppose an eviction order in court then. Properly timed and in the right place you may be able to stay put 'till April.

some days it feels like everything I believed in is/was wrong

Many of the things you/I/we believe(d) in IS wrong.

That's the depressing thing about studying Peak Oil,
you start to realize that we monkey creatures ain't what we think we are.

The activists of the late 60's were slammed in '68! They lost interest about then. Went on to become corporatists... that's where the real money is anyway.


I was gassed and beaten many times after that-- actually, that is when it started to get interesting.

My roommate was shot in the back in 69.

“The activists of the late 60's were slammed in '68! They lost interest about then. Went on to become corporatists…”


Not quite. You've touched a nerve.

May 30, 1969, People’s Park, Berkeley, 1 dead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Park

Drove all night from LA with 3 friends to the People’s Park demonstration in Berkeley. Was sleeping on a front porch when the National Guard mobilization rolled up the street. What sticks in my mind is the half-tracks with mounted machine guns. Marching with 30,000 people with helicopter gun ships overhead. Bayoneted Guardsmen. Spoke to some who said they would shoot if ordered.

Ronald Reagan, 1970 defending his actions at People”s Park: "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." Lou Cannon (2003). Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power. Public Affairs. p. 295.

May 4, 1970. Kent State. 4 dead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings

May 14, 1970, Jackson State, 2 dead. http://www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/07/bn051007.htm Not many people know about this event.

I'll have to research to see if I know any corporatists.


It's strange the UN didn't use that as an excuse to wage war on America.

The Geneva convention protocol 1 says pain compliance devices are in violation. Yet the police have tasers - pain compliance is what they do.

My lasting memory is the razor wire mounted in front of the jeeps; machine guns overhead on an overpass at Roosevelt Rd. in Chicago at the Police Riots.

Caught a few nightsticks to the ribs, but protected my head. A few were not so lucky... that was one bloody day!

Wouldn't call the my friends, but I knew more than a few who decided that money was more important that principle.


"What on earth has happened to the voices and conscience of the America"

Absolute control of the media.

"What on earth has happened to the voices and conscience of the America"

Ever read the book or watch the movie 'Fahrenheit 451'? It was written before this time period, but it perfectly describes it. People watching big screen TV's on prescription drugs dumbly and blindly adhering to an Authoritarien society. Bloated, fuzzy eyed, human drones clicking through a zillion mindless channels leaving their fate to the super wealthy powerful elite. But maybe it has a nice ending? Ha!

Gee, I wonder what will "Kindle" the book-burning fires?

"Three Days of The Condor - Final Scene"

Still relevant today.

"How do you know they will print it?"


To counter absolute control of the media, I can only hope efforts like wikileaks and openleaks continue to be relevant and successful.

The mighty wurlitzer: how the CIA played America


In 1967 the magazine Ramparts ran an expos revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had been secretly funding and managing a wide range of citizen front groups intended to counter communist influence around the world. In addition to embarrassing prominent individuals caught up, wittingly or unwittingly, in the secret superpower struggle for hearts and minds, the revelations of 1967 were one of the worst operational disasters in the history of American intelligence and presaged a series of public scandals from which the CIA's reputation has arguably never recovered.

CIA official Frank Wisner called the operation his "mighty Wurlitzer," on which he could play any propaganda tune. In this illuminating book, Hugh Wilford provides the first comprehensive account of the clandestine relationship between the CIA and its front organizations. Using an unprecedented wealth of sources, he traces the rise and fall of America's Cold War front network from its origins in the 1940s to its Third World expansion during the 1950s and ultimate collapse in the 1960s.

America: Why Aren't You Protesting

Free Speech zones?

If you stand up you get smacked down? (I have been on the short brown sticky end of this one)

Protesting is useless when you are no one and the real power is the tied to spending - see Citizens United decision.

Actual protesting would require effort - how many Americans want to undertake effort?

At some point the protesters will run into the legal system. A system that makes growing your own wheat for your own use on your own land "Interstate Trade"
or how it is your job to make sure if you are told something by someone under the color of authority you have to prove they have the authority they claim.
Or how the mortgage mess isn't being sorted out
http://newscastmedia.com/blog/2011/06/17/mers-deeds-of-trust-and-the-enf... (

A discussion about the non-straight forwardness of the legal system

I wonder, with the 'monetization' of everything, whether the new equivalent to protests won't be shopping patterns?

Maybe not even conscious boycotts, but simply the 'Free Market System' (if you will) being snared and strangled in the noose that we bought from it.

Another direction I've been thinking..

What with the selective nature of many search engines, I wonder how much the internet is hosting unnoticed a sort of 'false relief valve', in which would-be protesters are ranting, chanting and signing petitions here, and yet they (We) aren't really fools enough to think that this really supplants action.. it's part of a holding pattern, as frustrating as that may be, until another form of action simply becomes inevitable. As is said in "Zen in the art of Archery".. the string slips from your fingers as snow releasing from a Lotus Leaf.

Physics hasn't been repealed, after all.. it just plays that way on TV.

"Zen in the art of Archery".. the string slips from your fingers as snow releasing from a Lotus Leaf.

Now that's poetic!

I think it has alot to with the change in work culture.

75 yrs ago, work and work seeking was of an individual nature. Now work, and most sustenance, is provided via employment, seeking is via employment and counseling centers.

So power and resources have shifted to those capable of hiring, resources of land, water, minerals and wildlife are no longer appropriated for the common, or resource, good. Yesterday the director of Maine's fishery program (unsure of title) resigned over corporate control, he was not even allowed to meetings. I can think of few other resources so long worked individually as ME's lobster and fishermen.

Good point, fir person.

The US was contemplated as a country of family farms and family businesses -- people with independent bases of existence. Now we're all employees on salary (or not) and beholden to corporate policies. A strike against protests right there.

But concerning the question, Why aren't Americans rising up in protest? Many of them are -- the ones provided with grievances, arms, and publicity by right-wing powers. The rest of us find it strangely difficult to organize . . .

The US was contemplated as a country of family farms and family businesses -- people with independent bases of existence.

You need to read more history. Unless a tobacco plantation is your idea of a family business.

John Adams was a farmer in Massachusetts, no slaves. I don't know where you read history but even as late as the civil war most Americans lived on their own farms. I don't think the big tobacco plantations were the rule, even in the south.


"I wonder, with the 'monetization' of everything, whether the new equivalent to protests won't be shopping patterns?"

It already is that way, therefore, unless the wealthy protest something, it's a waste of time.

Well, that would be the first assumption.. but I think as the Middle and Working classes grow less able to support the consumer economy.. Restaurants, Toys, Vacations- Discretionary Spending.. then it will 'Scuttle All Ships', no? If the currency itself degrades, who has the farthest to fall?

ie, there's not much long term security in them standing on our heads, if we sink just a little farther.. how much of their value is really going to be in things that will survive that?

I wonder, with the 'monetization' of everything, whether the new equivalent to protests won't be shopping patterns?

Such has been suggested - with todays smartphones one could use the camera to read the barcode if not plug a RFID reader into the USB port to link the product back to a database.

The problem is - how do you populate the database?

Nestle and the baby formula issues? Coke and the deaths tied to them? Oil firms and their failures/acts of oppression? If JP morgan is "bad" - what about firms that use their services?

How about Nation-States? Over the abuse of human rights of some people - is it OK if North Korea is on a list? How about Israel - assuming you could find identical human rights issues between the 2 nations?

And getting the firms that compete with you on such a list would have an advantage. But should Goldman Sachs be trusted as a source about what's wrong in banking?

And say the data is 100% correct - some places have laws if you effect the sales of products in that state you are in violation of the law. Opera's comments about beef and the lawsuit in Texas as an example.

To make such a thing would require people who are talented in many disciplines - and they are going to be in demand by the producers of do-dads and cheeze doodles.

Very elegant post, Jok, a natural outgrowth of the theme of economic disengagement upthread.

Let the arrows fly. I have found this process to be very, very natural and organic, not painful. I remember in '99 or so, I would still cruise through big-box electronic stores and malls hunting for gizmos--- sub-woofers, metal briefcases, stomp-boxes for my guitar collection... I bought birthday presents for my cars... you get the picture.

I can't remember exactly how or when that fell away and got less interesting. Part of it was when I realized how expensive and time-consuming it was to service all that junk. I mean, I have 13 guitars and I can't afford to keep them all strung, my garage is filled with crap I don't use anymore. That just kind of merged with a general feeling that I was missing the point.

You know what gets me off now? When someone tunes in and drops out of the cultural sh*t storm and actually has a conversation with me. Being present with other life forms and just paying attention to what is going on around me.

Your guitar collection and description you speak of reminds me of a class I took on French literature years ago. The book was À Rebours (translates in English to Against the Grain or Against Nature), which was written in the 1880s by Joris-Karl Huysmans. Kind of esoteric, but basically this guy collected all kinds of things but grew bored of them and then collected more things to satisfy his decadent lifestyle. We have all done this in our lives -- some type of consumerism. I know I have. The huge collection of guitars and amps and parts. Great image.

Remarkably the character in this novel tries to dissociate from consumerism but he still consumes odd things and it shows perhaps that human nature cannot escape the grip and passion behind this. So applicable to the Oil problem we face.

Then the dissociated character tries to re-enter society and he feels that it is like trying to become religious again after losing faith in religion.

I really like your resolution to the guitars collection. Life is best approached as a way to interact with other people. Very well said.

Thanks for that.

Here's a suggestion. Give the guitars away. Give them to some young kids who can't afford them. Spend your spare time teaching them to play. You will burst with pride and a sense of well-being. I recently took up building guitars. I wanted to do something challenging that was not highly resource or energy intensive and was associated with a simpler life style. The instruments that I don't (try to) play regularly I give away.

Let's not get all nostalgic now. I'll admit America has changed, for the worse, particularly since 9/11, but I see it more as a continuation, a culmination, of trends which were long established, rather than any dramatic u-turn. Does it not make sense that the ultimate use of our military-industrial complex would be to secure the oil needed for our cars and trucks and planes? Does it not make sense that in a country obsessed with money, we would end up merely printing it to pretend we are getting richer? This is all very consistent.

The existential nature of America is that people have to be able to gain more money and power. If they can't gain more money and power, the place falls apart. America can't fall back on millenia of shared cultural and ethnic history as the old world can. And it dwarves the other new world countries in size and influence. This is why the prospect of catabolic collapse is particularly concerning in the U.S.

Fortunately for our sake, the Europeans have made a mess of things and China is on a treadmill to hell - which means that there is no alternative to the present system. The ship will go down pretty slowly.

Referring to wealth: first generation earns it, second generation spends it, and third generation blows it. The U.S. is a bunch of lazy, spoiled third generation brats.

You guys nailed it down perfectly. The phenomenal rise in complexity our system created combined with ever incresing division among people individualitic interest is a recipe for catastrophe.
The over simplification of the problems like tax the rich or protect the poor will do nothing to change the inertia set in motions after world war 2 or maybe even since the dawn of humanity.
Like the debate over the debt ceiling , like if 200 billions cuts a year on a 1.5 trillions annual deficit will change anything over the long run. It's pure hubris to think that anyone has still any controls over what's going on.
It's interesting to note that in Breivk's madness about what's wrong in this civilization there is not a word reguarding the ecological or energy problems. Like if people, to a lesser degree, where able to completly remove parts of reality to fit there view of the world.
Right now the protest in developped countries are confined in Europe like the "indignados" in Spain but what they advocate like more representative democracy on every level to counter corruption and the elites is just pure wind .
Everyone expect that there will be an uprising when things will get really bad, in which the people will take they rights back , but an uprising for what solution ???
Even the technological fixe to the energy problems are litle if anything against the economical problems like trillions in derivatives and exotics products hidden all troughout the financial planet.

It's interesting to note that in Breivk's madness about what's wrong in this civilization there is not a word reguarding the ecological or energy problems.

Environmentalism he seems to believe is a Marxist plot. There is no mention of peak oil that I could find with a quick search but on Page 925 in Section 3.54 "Sabotage Operations" he says

Successful attack on oil platform resulting in the collapse of 2 out of 4 foundational blocks; the platform will collapse and possibly sink.

Estimated primary and secondary damage (due to massive oil spills):

Total damage: 2 – 40 billion Euro in total losses + massive shock effect which will temporarily destabilise the global crude prize and stock indexes (particularly on a national level).

...NOTE: It is essential to ensure that the field is still operational and that it is not close to depletion.

He then goes on to provide an overview of European Oil and Gas production and infrastructure together with his suggested targets for his fellow "Knights Templar" Commanders (his words) to blow-up (sample section title "Using LNG vessels (liquified natural gas tanker ships and tanker trucks) as weapons").

"trillions in derivatives and exotics products hidden all throughout the financial planet"

The rich are quite happy!
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Just ordered 100 Panzer Tanks for population control
...er, ah, to control their population
...ummm, for crowd control. Yes, that's it.
Perhaps the new revolutions
Will be open pogroms against the poor
Like hunting children in Brazil
Or debtor's prison


Hand out coupons/vouchers for discounts on 3-D video games and cable TV. Co-marketing tie-ins with fast food, including pizza and beer delivery. Include more sporting events and 'reality shows', and up the shock and awe factor.

Spike the monster energy drinks, soda, and hard lemonade with Soma.

Bread and circuses.

More of the same, squared.

The funny thing is many people do see the 3-d thing as a gimmick.

$50 Brent-WTI spread? Some think it's possible:

Traders bet on crude oil spread widening

Oil trades at above $100 a barrel. Saudi Arabia is raising its output and Washington is opening its strategic reserve. Are these signs of a shortage in global oil markets that should encourage US oil producers to pump flat out?

Maybe not. Another scenario may be more likely, one that leads to thousands of barrels of crude production in the US Midwest and western Canada being shut early next year.

That's the FT re-cycling a story from a couple of weeks ago. Goldman Sachs says the opposite and expects the spread to close to within a few dollars.

The spread is currently $18.64 down approximately $5 dollars from the recent high. Crude stocks at Cushing have been declining for the last 3 months despite the "meme" that supply currently exceeds onwards distribution capacity.

Despite talk of a "glut" in this article, "excess" inventories in Cushing have been dropping steadily over the last month:


In addition, rail companies are rapidly expanding their ability to ship oil from the Bakken and other areas:

Union Pacific sees rail oil shipments quadrupling
Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:13pm GMT


Increasing production from the Mid-Continent is important, and it's a good story, but so far total US C+C production has been pretty much flat, between 5.4 and 5.6 mbpd since the 4th quarter of 2009.

There are limits to how wide the WTI-Brent spread can get because, beyond a certain point, traders will hire tanker trucks to move the oil to the coast. I think we're already to that point.

When Canadian crude oil production gets shut in because it can't get past the US chokepoints, Canadian politicians start talking about moving it to the West Coast and shipping it to China. We're already to that point as well.

I think Canadian authorities are thoroughly P.O.d with American authorities about the stalling tactics in the US, so people may find some roadblocks to West Coast export facilities being bulldozed out of the way in the near future. When governments find they are losing large amounts of tax revenues, things start to happen.

From the Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN) Sources: feds ending negotiation on specific claims

Negotiators working for First Nations are telling APTN National News that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal government is moving to cut off specific claims negotiations, a move that one source said could cost First Nations — and at the same time save Canada — billions of dollars. These sources say they’ve been informed of the move by federal negotiators, although nothing is yet in writing.

Some Oil Patch guys in West Texas may be willing to work for free to help build a Canadian pipeline to the West Coast.

Ah RMG, remember how long they stalled the wind farm off the Mass. Coast. LOL. Whenever a big energy project goes up, the regulatory hurdles come into full view and thwart the project for 5-10 years. It is how all the lawyers get paid after all.

The US is a service industry country. Need to keep the lawyers busy.

Japanese government killing its own people in Fukushima



Looks like the population of Fukushima are starting to wake up to the fact the government's plan is to let them wither on the vine, rather than to help protect the people by evacuations and testing, with all the publicity and cost that this would entail.

I see Japan is going to be a wonderful laboratory for the effects of radiation. I wonder, when do the "Fukushima necklaces" start, and whether we will hear about them.

I know the Japanese people are very conforming, but everyone has their limits, I am also waiting for the headline "The Peasants are Revolting", for Japan, they came very close during this communications meeting.

That seemed highly uncharacteristic given the usually polite and civil nature of Japanese discourse. It seems that a lot is being asked of the residents of Fukushima - Suck it up, deal with it, don't make a big noise and embarrass the whole country. For those who didn't get it, "Fukushima necklace" is a take-off of "Chernobyl necklace" - the residual thyroidectomy neck scar visible on the significant percentage of the population there who developed thyroid cancer, and are now dependent upon daily ingestion of synthroid to survive.

"Chernobyl necklace" - the residual thyroidectomy neck scar visible on the significant percentage of the population there who developed thyroid cancer, and are now dependent upon daily ingestion of synthroid to survive

I'm looking forward to the random posters of TOD pointing out how this is just not true because Nuclear power is safe.

(and this is the 1st time in my memory of hearing that)

The classic pro-nuke response is that people get the operation and lose their thyroid but they live generally.

Therefore, nuclear is fine and no one dies.

Petrochemicals have collectively caused exponentially more cancer than nuclear power. The CO2 waste in the air is more dangerous to our future well being than the existing atomic waste.
I think we are better served if we face the issues without considering ourselves reflexively pro or anti nuclear - the subject is important, complex, and evolving.
Viewpoints indeed have value as they may in part be formed due to much which is difficult to quantify and measure - but why can't we engage in a discussion built upon a base of mutually understood (and fairly easy to quantify) relative risk? It would be a more effective starting position from which to determine policy, and seems to me will result in a clearer argument from either side of the issue.

It is the hollow pro-nuclear response -- the so-what? attitude -- that turns people off. Dismissing human tragedy -- like losing your thyroid -- as a minor risk relative to a greater hydrocarbon risk.

Hey man if you lost your thyroid would you shrug your shoulders and say -- at least nuclear is safer than oil products? Or would you question the lackluster regulatory practices of the nuclear industry as practiced?

I would tend to do questioning, and I would not worry about hydrocarbons. They should follow their own rules as well. Nuclear should be safe because people that build and maintain the plants follow the rules. The rules should make reasonable sense, and the electricity should incur the costs of following the rules, such as having plants that can withstand the natural disasters that will happen over the plant's lifetime. The electricity prices should reflect the costs of decommissioning and cleaning up the plants that mysteriously explode. Heck the plant and all of its waste stores needs to withstand a foreign airstrike too. There are no surprises. That is all reasonable people want -- fewer of the following kinds of responses from the nuclear engineers:

"OMG I never thought about that one." That is the response of either some very bad engineering and design imho.

My opinion is just an opinion.

I expect these businesses, which work so closely with our government, to bring the nukes on, build them out.

If they are economically viable, safe, and easy to run and such. The markets should bring them on line then. Certainly, government folks are not in the way. They never seem to hold up petrochemical plans.

In regards to the Iran-India oil dispute, mentioned twice in the news up top, India has made arrangements to allow it to buy an extra 3 million barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia in August.

To my knowledge, the purchases have not yet been completed. It is not clear if KSA intends to increase its overall exports in August to accommodate India, but based upon recent trends it won't, and KSA may reduce exports to other countries to ship oil to India.

Saudi Arabia approved sale of an extra 3mln barrels of crude to Indian refiners for August after Iran cuts supply


Hindustan Petroleum to Buy 1 Million Barrels More Saudi Crude
By Rakteem Katakey - Jul 26, 2011 7:06 AM ET


That is an extra 100,000 bpd imported from Saudi Arabia for the month of August. Since India used to import 400,000 bpd from Iran I am wondering how they are going to bridge the shortfall of 300,000 bpd.

That is a funny looking sell off this morning. I take it that people don't know what to do with their two cents now.

Yeah, I noticed that too. It that the beginning of people taking the risk of default seriously?

Stocks dropped a bit this morning too.


I haven't seen any analysis (which is usually inane, anyway).

Is there some news that this is a reaction to?

Is there some news that this is a reaction to?

Yes, WTI was headed over $100 again and we can't have that can we? Back up over $99 now though so maybe we'll try to cross that barrier again today.

Don't know where to submit this, but the other day on the 'Peak Oil/Peak Debt' thread, Paleocon asked a what if question about replacing government debt with cash. ( Fed buys treasury securities ) It seems that yesterday Paul Krugman answered Paleocon's question with an analysis on his blog.


(link fixed)

Krugman also gives an interesting scenario regarding HOW it might happen ( rather suddenly )

I'm more and more liking a scenario where:
- we actually hit the debt ceiling and curtail payments of federal obligations for about 2 weeks, followed by,
- a raise of the debt ceiling that takes us through about June 2012.

The first point ensures that we have a test of the Treasury and Federal Reserve mechanism for prioritizing and delaying payments in case we have to use it for a meaningfully longer time later. It also ensures that everyone gets a good feel for what actually starts to happen when payments are delayed and a taste of the real consequences. But 2 weeks should be short enough to prevent irreparable harm.

The second point ensures that the political establishment keeps its attention on the fiscal and economic affairs of the country, and doesn't get sidetracked on to other things like foreign affairs, wars, the Middle East, social issues and other dilatory topics. Other matters, like unemployment, health care, energy policy, defense spending, education, etc., continue to be of importance, but must be considered in the context of affordability and return on investment.

The next deadline should fall between the end of the presidential primaries and the start of the conventions.

Hong Kong's poorest living in 'coffin homes'

"Hong Kong (CNN) -- Hidden amid the multi-million dollar high-rise apartments and chic shopping malls of Hong Kong's urban centers are scores of tiny, unseen tenements -- some no bigger than coffins -- that many people call home.

Mak, 72, has lived in his four-walled "coffin home" overlooking the city's Wan Chai neighborhood for the past decade. His entire living space is no bigger than a twin-sized bed, and has just enough room for him to sit up."

I hope we get a handle on population growth before this becomes the norm...on the other hand, of course, it is pretty energy efficient...

I would guess that price of WTI falls below $90 before going above $110. As Bernanke predicted a couple of months ago, there has been little movement in the price of oil so maybe he is a better guesser than I.

Oil goes offshore to make way for U.S. SPR barrels

Three very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, which can carry 2 million barrels of crude each, and three Suezmax tankers, which are able to carry around 1 million barrels of crude each, are currently chartered as storage vessels, ICAP showed in a table of VLCC storage.

However, the renewed interest in floating storage is more likely due to a lack of capacity in onshore storage rather than a financial play to profit from the cheaper oil prices now compared to the higher prices in the coming months, shipbrokers said.

80% of the oil bought from the SPR will travel by tanker or barge, increasing carrier demand. The US has even allowed waivers of the Jones Act so that foreign ships can transfer the SPR oil.

However in regards to the part of the SPR oil bought by Wall Street firms, it appears pretty clear that is a speculative trade - one not mentioned in this article.

Preliminary indications are, based solely upon this evening's API oil inventory report, that roughly 7 to 8 million barrels of oil were distributed from Strategic Petroleum Reserve last week. We will get the exact amount tomorrow in the EIA report.

Apparently media forecasts made by energy analysts excluded the SPR release. It's not clear what, if any, effect the news of the SPR release will have on oil prices.

API ANALYSIS: Crude stocks climb on jump in imports

New York (Platts)--26Jul2011/545 pm EDT/2145 GMT

US commercial crude stocks unexpectedly rose 3.96 million barrels to total 358.202 million barrels the week ending July 22 with imports climbing, an analysis of the oil data released late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute showed.

Crude imports jumped 452,000 b/d to 9.162 million b/d with the increase concentrated on the Atlantic and West coasts. Yet, crude stocks increased 8.178 million barrels to 178.972 million barrels on the Gulf Coast with a decline in inputs to refineries contributing to the stocks build. Crude runs on the Gulf Coast were down 237,000 b/d to 8.095 million b/d while imports were up just 9,000 b/d at 5.114 million b/d.


Also, per MasterCard's Spending Pulse, the incremental volume of gasoline sold last week was down about 1%. This comes after strong demand last week that actually exceeded the same week from a year ago. In the last four weeks demand was down 1.3% from last year, which is consistent with other recent data from the EIA.

US gasoline demand down as prices rise-MasterCard
NEW YORK, July 26 | Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:00pm EDT

(Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline demand fell last week as consumption failed to keep up with a rising trend seen over the same period last year, MasterCard said in its weekly SpendingPulse report on Tuesday.


A visualization of US debt.

Does anyone of you knoledgeable folks happend to remenber the name of a book talking about the fact that the more computers take over the workplace the more layoff there will be, written by an IT engineer from california ????

The only name that comes to mind is Robert Theobald .

As an economist and futurist, Theobald had a global or planetary perspective. He wrote books, prepared and appeared on broadcasts, and lectured around the world to governments, businesses and organizations.

Theobald questioned and criticized conventional confidence in economic growth, in technology, and in the culture of materialism - all of which he considered to be damaging to the environment while failing to provide opportunity and income for many of the world's people.[2] He warned against trying to maintain, and to spread or mimic worldwide, the American standard of living of the late 20th century.[3]

Despite his criticism of some aspects and effects of technology, Theobald saw tremendous potential in communications technology like on-line, personal computers (which in the 1980s he termed "micro-computers"), seeing these as tools for pooling the thoughts and opinions of very large numbers of individuals spread widely, geographically. [bold mine]

What a silly idea......


...in his book Free men and Free Markets (1963) stated: "Our present socio-economic system only remains valid so long as it is possible for the overwhelming proportion of those seeking jobs to find them and as long as we can assume that these jobs will provide the jobholder with a reasonable income.

"If this condition is not met, we are no longer justified in assuming that those without jobs are lazy or worthless, or in only paying them minimum incomes on a charity basis.

"Our present system of income distribution cannot continue if the goal of full employment ceases to be feasible or desirable.

1963?! What ever gave him those crazy ideas?

Bio here.

Interesting bit from the Google News page - Slightly off-topic but may be worth a look.


A interesting Solar Tower design being set up in AZ for 200 MW peak. They say it churns out some electricity at night as well.


I like it from the standpoint of its simplicity in design and useful life (estimated at 80 years). If it really can pay for itself in only 11 years, there's plenty of desert to build more!

CG videos here (scroll down a bit). I've been watching these guys for a few years, as they've been trying to build one of these in Australia for a while. Best hopes for their Arizona project, though one wonders what effects dust, as in the recent storms around Phoenix, will have on production/costs/maintenance. Pulling in and concentrating dust at 15 m/s will be errosive to say the least,,, and where will the dust go once expelled? Just askin'.

Only 700 million bucks. Yeah maintenance free implies no filters. I wonder if they have some crude air filtering.

Norway spree killer/terrorist may have used poisoned bullets:

In a chilling 1,500-page manifesto emailed to recipients across Europe before the attack, Breivik mentioned his intent to inject lethal doses of liquid nicotine into bullets ensuring that every shot delivered a deadly blow, U.K.'s Daily Mail reported.

"I’ve now ordered 50ml — 99 percent pure liquid nicotine from a Chinese online supplier," Breivik wrote in his manifesto last year, the Mail reported. It included, "3-4 drops will be injected in hollow point rifle bullets, which will effectively turn it into a lethal chemical weapon."

On the gun application, Breivik had claimed he wanted a rifle to hunt deer. "It would have been tempting to just write the truth; "executing category A and B cultural Marxists/multiculturalist traitors," just to see their reaction,'" according to his diary entry at the same time of her permit application.


I hate the big brother intelligence state...but how do we detect, stop, and prevent more of this kind of thing?

the sad fact is. you can't if you want to live in a free society. even then no draconian regime will stop everyone.

That sounds like a vicious circle you've just described. Or just Irony.. ("These implants are great.. now if I can just get all these creeps to stop leering at me!")

I don't think an efficient 'Big Brother' would stop more of these than it would create. Kind of like the US working with the Taliban and others a couple decades ago to help us fight the enemy-du-jour, and we're surprised when we find them shooting AT us later on.

One definition of 'Terrorism' I heard was that it is the privatization of war. That's inadequate, but still food for thought.

Ask his psychiatrist or other source of mind-bending/altered-reality drugs?