Drumbeat: August 1, 2011

Commentary: Peak Oil Teachers

Something truly remarkable is happening in a thousand places all over the world. It is happening in classrooms – university graduate classrooms and Montessori kindergartens, in formal learning sites at venerable institutions and in newer educational sites such as distance learning programs and in impromptu classrooms put together by churches, book clubs and after school programs. It is happening across disciplines – in classrooms teaching hard sciences, of course, but also in the arts, through the lens of history, in writing and business classes. Engineers and poets, philosophers and economists, undergrads and sixth graders – all of them are learning about Peak Oil.

It is hard to imagine how radical this change is – and how fast it is growing. When we began teaching these issues, around the turn of the last millennium, we knew few people who had even heard of Peak Oil or understood the mechanics of depletion. Now it would be a rare college that doesn’t offer a course that addresses these issues at least in some measure, and they have begun to penetrate to younger and younger audiences. Older and continuing education audiences are also taking a variety of courses that address these issues – and demand to study them is growing.

Iran kills, arrests people linked to gas pipeline blast

(Reuters) - Iranian security forces killed three people on Monday and arrested four others they suspected of being behind a pipeline blast which halted gas exports to Turkey last week, Iran's student news agency ISNA reported.

Officials in Maku, a city in Iran's West Azerbaijan province, said the militants had crossed the border from Iraq to blow up the pipeline and that at least one was a Turkish citizen.

Syrian tanks shell defiant city of Hama

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces shelled the city of Hama in the second day of a fierce assault aimed at crushing the anti-government protests against President Bashar Assad's regime.

Brazil June Crude Oil Output Up 4.2% On Year At 2.137 Mbpd -ANP

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- Brazil crude oil production advanced year-on-year in June as several offshore platforms idled by maintenance shutdowns came back on stream, the country's oil regulator said Monday.

Brazil's oil fields produced 2.137 million barrels of crude per day in June, up 4.2% from June 2010, the National Petroleum Agency, or ANP said. Crude oil production was up 3.2% from 2.072 million barrels per day in May. Natural gas output climbed to 67.3 million cubic meters a day in June, up 6.9% from June 2010 and 0.9% from May, the ANP said.

Pemex boosts heavy fuel oil after fire, 3rd worker dies

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Pemex said it will boost production of heavy fuel oil at its Tula refinery in central Mexico after a fire damaged the facility's sole visbreaker and killed three workers.

An explosion ripped through Mexico's second-largest oil refinery on Saturday, causing a massive fire that killed two workers on the site. Tula produces 315,000 barrels per day.

Chesapeake CEO: Utica Shale Acres Worth $15B-$20B

Chesapeake Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon said Friday that the company believes its acreage above the Utica Shale formation in eastern Ohio, 1.25 million acres the company has quietly pieced together over the last year and a half, is worth $15 billion to $20 billion.

The end of Big Oil?

How the break-up of ConocoPhillips could lead to similar moves by oil conglomerates like BP and Exxon Mobil, forever changing the energy landscape.

Jamaica's energy inertia

Among the clearest manifestations of Government's failure to create an environment of economic opportunity and prosperity for our people is the continuing uneconomic pricing of energy. At up to US$0.39 per kilowatt-hour, Jamaica has perhaps the highest electricity rates among our trading partners.

No load shedding during Sehr, Iftar times

PESHAWAR: The management of Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO) has decided that there will be no load shedding during Sehr and Iftar in Ramzan. The power company has urged for extending cooperation so that all over loaded 11 kv feeders consumers for the un-interrupted power supply during Sehr & Iftar.

Weighing economic growth against nuclear risks makes no sense

The insatiable capitalism in which money is of utmost significance has taken the entire world by storm, and nuclear power plants have become a major pillar of economic growth. China has announced that it will build 70 nuclear reactors by 2020 generating the equivalent of 1 million kilowatts of power each. The strain produced by such rapid economic expansion has no doubt been evidenced by the high-speed train accident that took place in eastern China on July 23.

Shutting down nuclear power plants does not signify a return to the Edo period. Scaling back our power consumption levels to those of five or 10 years ago will not force the country to collapse. If we take a moment to review our dependence on nuclear energy and can ascertain that what we really want is to reconstruct a safe society and a healthy economy, there's really no difference between abandoning nuclear energy altogether or scaling back the degree of our dependence.

Save money by saving energy

Investing in energy-efficient home technology is like buying a home gym: Though you may be tempted by the promise of a long-term payoff, it's easy to be turned off by the upfront cost. "That's really what the challenge is — to move customers to action," says Stephen Cowell, CEO of Conservation Services Group, a company that works with utilities and conservation groups to improve energy efficiency.

Automakers use aerodynamics to gain fuel efficiencies

The government's tougher new fuel-economy standards are going to force automakers to go to new lengths to increase gas mileage, especially when it comes to making cars more aerodynamic.

100 MPG on gasoline: Could we really?

Since I was a teenager, I frequently heard stories that some guy had invented a car that could get 100 miles per gallon (MPG), but that powerful interests (often GM, Chevron, etc.) had bought rights to the idea and sat on it. We suckers were left to shell out major bucks for gasoline, when a solution was in hand and under wraps.

Leaving aside the notion that such a design would bring unbelievable prosperity to its holder (i.e., no real incentive to sit on it), let’s look at what physics says is possible.

Kunstler: Weimar Meets Waterloo

I happen to think we're at the end of this anomalous era because we've run through the material resource base. I know a lot of people eagerly await the nano-dawn of self-replicating bot Satori, where everything we need is literally conjured out of thin air. The Viziers would really love that because, at last, their models would work! Personally, I do not hold my breath waiting for Kurzweilian "Singularity." We'll be disappointed enough when Walmart fails to run on wind turbines.

So now we enter an economic terra incognita of the real post-industrial economy - not the Cinderella hoo-hah of digi-magic advertised in places like Wired Magazine, but more like a Foxfire world made by hand. We're out of cheap oil, cheap and good ores, ocean fish, good timber, and lots of other things. All the stuff we erected to live our lives in - the stupendous armature of highways, strip malls, suburban houses, skyscraper condos, sewer systems, electric grids - is beyond our power to repair now. We can only patch it, and that can only work for so long before things go dark. (Can you sharpen a saw blade?)

Kurt Cobb: Can taxation speed our energy transition?

Some time ago an economist with whom I had an extensive exchange suggested that the best way to incentivize an energy transition would be to tax what we don't want and let the market do the rest. It was really such an elegant approach and an impractical one, I thought.

The economist's view was that if we don't want people to burn carbon-based fuels, then we should just tax those fuels heavily. What he opposed was any direct subsidies to alternatives such as wind, solar, and biomass. This would only serve to distort the economy, he said, and it is too hard to figure out the quickest path to an energy transition from the vantage point of a central government.

Nearly 1,000 cab drivers in China protest, urging government to hike fares amid fuel spike

BEIJING — Nearly 1,000 cab drivers in eastern China blocked traffic and protested Monday over a lack of government intervention into rising fuel costs. It was the latest sign of discontent over the country’s surging inflation.

The cab drivers in the tourist city of Hangzhou were urging the local government to raise cab fares, which have had a starting rate of 10 yuan ($1.50) for eight years. The drivers noted that during that time gas, food and housing prices have skyrocketed.

Crude Climbs After Obama Says Congressional Leaders Agree Debt-Limit Deal

Oil advanced from a two-week low in New York after President Barack Obama said Congressional leaders approved a deal to raise America’s debt ceiling, stoking speculation the world’s biggest crude user will avoid a default.

High jet fuel costs put pressure on airline ticket prices

As the Ramadan lull approaches, airlines are also dealing with another worry: sky-high jet fuel prices that have sent costs up to near-record levels this year.

The price of a barrel of jet fuel has risen more than 50 per cent from a year ago to US$132 (Dh484). And airline executives say fuel prices could remain at sustained high levels, making air travel more expensive.

Gazprom Neft seals Cuba deal

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian giant Gazprom, said today it has signed a product-sharing contract on four blocks in the Gulf of Mexico off Cuba with Malaysian state-owned player Petronas and Cubapetroleo (Cupet), the Cuban national oil company.

China’s move on oil sands is about more than money

This is a test. Chinese oil company Sinopec’s move to buy a piece of Alberta oil sands producer Syncrude is the latest move in Beijing’s step-by-step gauging of the investment waters in Canada.

China is watching to see if the deal sets off alarm bells in Canada, particularly in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative caucus.

Occidental five freed after kidnapping

Five contractors for US-based Occidental Petroleum who were kidnapped Friday in northeastern Colombia have been freed and are now safe, an army official has announced.

China an increasingly important economic

Abu Dhabi will double its oil exports to China over the next two years as it expands its energy relationship with the world's second-largest economy.

Iraq sends barrels for payment

Occidental Petroleum and South Korea's Kogas have received their first cargo of crude oil as payment for helping to develop Iraq's Zubair oilfield, according to shipping sources.

BP says Forties crude pipeline shut for 5 days

(Reuters) - British oil major BP said on Monday the Forties Pipeline System is shut this week to remove an undexploded mine from World War Two.

"The Forties Pipeline System has started a 5-day planned shut down to enable the safe removal and disposal of ordnance lying next to the pipeline," a BP spokesman said.

Russian reserve fund shrinks 1.6 percent in July

(Reuters) - MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's oil wealth Reserve Fund shrank 1.6 percent in July, Finance Ministry data showed on Monday, due to the mostly negative revaluation of currencies that make up the fund.

Canada flexes military muscles in race for Arctic resources

With international efforts to secure territorial rights around the North Pole heating up as the ice in the Arctic continues to melt, Canada is flexing its muscles to defend its sovereignty in the region.

Faced with increasingly aggressive measures by competing nations, all eager to exploit the thawing Arctic's immense potential for new transit routes and previously inaccessible natural resources, Canada is launching Operation Nanook, a summer military exercise off Baffin Island.

Libyan Rebel Forces Gain Heavy Artillery, Vehicles in Battle for Misrata

Libyan rebel forces in the besieged city of Misrata said they broke through enemy lines to capture tanks, heavy guns and rocket launchers, gaining an arsenal that may help reverse their fortunes in the five-month siege.

The rebels captured 155 millimeter guns, as well as truck- mounted rocket launchers and three armored carriers following clashes late yesterday and today, said Abdullah Maiteed, a member of the rebel Arise Brigade.

Iran cbank: Turkey not part of India oil payments-Mehr

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will recover billions of dollars' worth of debt for oil exports to India without the help of Turkey, its central bank chief said on Monday, while another official said Turkey was one of several possible intermediaries to unblocking the funds.

"Turkey does not have any role in transferring Iran's money from India," the semi-official Mehr news agency Mehr quoted Mahmoud Bahmani as saying. "Iran itself will receive its debt arrears."

U.S. Auto Sales Stall, Casting Doubt on Rebound

U.S. auto sales have stalled, casting doubt on a rebound this year as persistent unemployment and tighter lending deter buyers.

Tepco Says Highest Radiation Yet Is Detected at Fukushima Dai-Ichi

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it detected the highest radiation to date, more than 10 sieverts per hour, within the grounds of its crippled Fukushima Dai- Ichi nuclear power plant.

Japan July nuclear plant usage falls to 33.9 percent

(Reuters) - Japan's nuclear power plant utilization rate fell to an average 33.9 percent in July, the lowest in at least 32 years, Reuters calculations from trade ministry data showed on Monday, as public worries over safety kept reactors offline after they had completed routine maintenance.

Q+A: What's going on at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant?

(Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the owner of the quake and tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant, said on Monday it had successfully begun to cool one of two spent fuel pools that were still considered unstable.

That brings it another step closer to its aim of bringing the plant's reactors to a state of cold shutdown and stabilizing the spent fuel pools by January.

Japan Expands Cattle-Shipment Ban as Radiation Contaminates Beef

Japan banned cattle shipments from Iwate prefecture, the nation’s fifth-largest grower, as the contaminated-beef crisis widened with radiation threatening the country’s food supply.

Doubting Assurances, Japanese Find Radioactivity on Their Own

IWAKI, Japan — Kiyoko Okoshi had a simple goal when she spent about $625 for a dosimeter: she missed her daughter and grandsons and wanted them to come home.

Local officials kept telling her that their remote village was safe, even though it was less than 20 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But her daughter remained dubious, especially since no one from the government had taken radiation readings near their home.

So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. Mrs. Okoshi and a cousin who lives nearby worked up the courage to confront elected officials, who did not respond, confirming their worry that the government was not doing its job.

China Sets Solar Power Price to Boost Industry Profits, Investment

China, the world’s biggest polluter, set a price for electricity supplied by photovoltaic projects approved under non-competitive tenders to boost industry profitability and investment.

Sugar’s Use in Ethanol, Power Could Create Jobs in Southern Africa

Southern African countries could create 1.8 million jobs if they adopted similar regulations to Brazil governing the production of ethanol and electricity from sugar, the Chief Executive Officer of Tongaat-Hulett Group Ltd. said.

Why do corporation die so soon and cities don’t? Corporations are Machines and Cities are Networks

Wind farms that do well have an ROI of about 8% they are a utility – like owning a bond. But the Oil business has embedded costs that are linked to the returns on OIL that are much higher than wind. So if Shell did a lot more of these mega wind projects, the ROI of Shell would be reduced and Shell would have an earnings problem. The more wind farms they installed, the more their earnings would drop but their costs could not. They were trapped!

This dooms Shell and all mature companies. We saw that is Big Steel when smaller local mini mills ate into the lower ROI parts of the business until there was nothing left? We see this now with media.

Coming Together to Pray, and Also to Find Reduced-Rate Energy Deals

WASHINGTON — Like manna from heaven, thousands of dollars in new revenue is raining on a group of congregations here from the unlikeliest of sources: the utility bill.

The windfall arose after 11 churches and a nonprofit youth group got together to solicit reduced-rate bids for electricity — most of it from renewable energy sources — from local suppliers. In the first year of its contract, which ends in May, the group expects combined savings of nearly $100,000.

The profit potential in controlling emissions

Greenhouse gas reduction targets often meet a cool reception from oil and gas companies. But in the long term, the benefits can be widespread.

Bangladesh and the Netherlands to share flood research

[DHAKA] Flood-prone Bangladesh and the Netherlands are planning to exchange research findings and share experience on managing floods, which are projected to worsen because of climate change.

Another step forward in the development of more energy-efficient lighting:

Cree Prototype Exceeds DOE’s 21st Century Lamp L Prize Requirements

DURHAM, N.C.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Demonstrating the future of lighting, Cree, Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE) today unveiled a concept LED light bulb from its lighting research and development team. Redefining what is possible with high-performance LED lighting, the lamp delivers more than 1,300 lumens at 152 lumens per watt (LPW) using Cree TrueWhite® Technology. Cree’s prototype LED light bulb exceeds the performance goals set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the 21st Century Lamp, the third category in its L Prize competition.


Third-party testing by independent lab OnSpeX confirmed that Cree’s lamp delivered more than 1,330 lumens and consumes only 8.7 watts. The lamp uses Cree TrueWhite Technology to deliver a high-quality, energy-efficient light with a CRI of 91 at a warm white color of 2800 K. This project benefits from technology developed under DOE-funded contracts, which are part of Cree’s ongoing collaboration with DOE to advance the successful adoption of energy-saving solid-state lighting.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directed the DOE to establish the Bright Tomorrow L Prize competition. The 21st Century Lamp competition is the third category in the legislation, joining competitions to create replacements for some of the most widely used and most inefficient lighting technologies on the market today, 60W incandescent lamps and PAR 38 halogen lamps. The preliminary specifications for the 21st Century Lamp include: >1200 lumens, >150 lumens per watt, >90 CRI and CCT between 2800-3000K.

See: http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20110801005396/en/Cree/Inc./L-Prize


Thanks for the link, HIH. I am glad to see Cree back in the game -- I had wondered if Philips had lead-frogged them. Alas, no price or availability date for this bulb yet?

By the numbers, this bulb is another "good enough" solution to replace incans and give CFL a run for their money. If it's as good as the other Crees, the color will probably be better than Endura.

Without a doubt, Cree is one of the top players in this field and has arguably done more to advance this technology than anyone else. The challenge for Cree is getting their products to market and into the hands of consumers, and this is where Philips excels (Osram-Sylvania is performing rather poorly in this regard and GE is even further behind the curve).

The Philips 17-watt 3000K EnduraLED PAR38 has a CRI of 85. I've used a fair number of these lamps in colour critical applications and the results have been extremely positive (viewed side by side, a halogen lamp with a CRI of 100 looks remarkably yellow). I have forty or so Philips 3-watt EnduraLED BA11 clear candle lamps in my home and although these lamps have a rated CRI of 90, at a 2700K CCT they have a decidedly "pinkish tone" which I find a bit annoying. I guess it's one of those things that you have to judge for yourself.


A week ago I returned from a two week trip to the US.I did my usual walk-through of Lowe's and Home Depot in search of LED lighting and for the first time, both stores had sections dedicated to LED light bulbs. On my last visit in Nov last year neither had any. I have bought a few samples, trying to include at least one bulb from each of the available brands (including Phillips, Sylvania and Ecosmart) and will be evaluating them as replacements for incandescents and CFLs. IIRC I saw the name Cree in small print somewhere on at least one package I looked at.

With electricity at between US$0.29 and 0.36 per kwh for everything except the first 100 kwh used by residential customers ($0.26), I figure there's a market for them in my neck of the woods. One thing I noticed was a single unit left on a shelf that cost more than several others that had similar or better specs but looked to be newer stock. Are prices falling already?

Incidentally, Paul you have inspired me to look seriously at what you do as part of my future business. How does one learn/get qualified?

Alan from the islands

Hi Alan,

With regards to pricing, I don't anticipate any major shifts at this time. My Philips representative tells me that there are huge back orders for these products and that they can't keep up with demand. Fortunately for us, he's doing everything he can to make sure we're not left out in the cold, but supplies are critically tight and will likely remain so for sometime and I suspect the situation is no different for the other "big three" players.

I stumbled into this field almost by accident (few things in my life have ever gone to plan, which is not altogether a bad thing). Without knowing much about your background, one way would be to team up with a local lighting distributor in outside sales. Get a couple years experience selling lighting products, make some contacts in the field, build up a potential client base, and develop a good, thorough understanding our your client's needs. Remember too that good lighting is half-art, half-science, and not just a bunch of technical specs. Take a close look at the lighting systems in various establishments and judge for yourself how pleasing they are to the eye, how they affect your mood, if they're well suited to the task at hand, etc. Best of luck !


Cree chips are used in a lot of brands, often it is used to signify better quality so an otherwise unrecognised brand may say 'Uses Cree LEDs'. Try electrical wholesalers, the one I tried here is a fraction of the price (tubes about 1/4 the price) of Home Depot on most items except copper cable.


I am happy to say that with each visit to my local Home Depot, that I see more and more LED lighting available, including recessed fixtures.

At last an LED over 100 lumens per watt and with a good CRI! I hope they have a hotter version. I like a little bluer.

Nice achievement but we need to move away from bulbs. If you are going to use LEDs then move away from point-source lighting that creates sharp shadows and instead do area lighting.

I'm not so sure about that.

Area lighting is popular with restaurants, retail stores, offices etc, but for home?

Point lighting lights up the task area - area lighting lights up everything - do you really need your living room walls washed with light while blogging on TOD?

While shadowless area lighting may be desirable from a lighting design perspective, we have lived with shadows from sunlight for - as along as we have lived. Clearly, we have learned to live with lighting shadows.

Also, LED bulbs are a drop in replacement for Incandescents, so they can be implemented as fast as they can be made. Changing to area lighting means changing fixtures, and possibly adding new wiring. Nothing makes people more reluctant to retrofit for energy (or water) efficiency than having to do electrical or plumbing work.

If we want to save the most energy in the shortest time, LED's should ONLY be made in bulb shapes.
Otherwise, they start appearing in all sorts of places where there were never lights before;

More here; Viva Las Vegas: LEDs and the energy efficiency paradox at the Low Tech Magazine

Designers consider ambient, task, accent, and decorative lighting. LEDs do great for task lighting, as they are directional. The new bulbs do well for ambient as well, but other configurations of diffuse lighting (cove, sconce, etc) and indirect do nicely as well, and can utilize LEDs in more novel arrangements. Non-standard-bulb shapes are more desirable for decorative, and combined decorative/task lighting, like techy desk-lamps or tall, thin art lamps.

The problem I have with the LED retrofit push is that this forces LEDs into form-factors and lighting systems optimized over 100 years for incandescent bulbs. AC power to the bulb, with heat enclosed in the bulb and isolated from the fixture except by radiance, and only a few big bulbs is exactly wrong for LEDs. DC power with the AC adapter and its heat remote from the lighting load, fixtures that conduct LED heat away, and multiple smaller bulbs makes more sense for LEDs.

I think custom-designed fixtures for LEDs makes more sense in the long-run, and that a set of new bulb standards for LEDs would make sense. Such a bulb would be keyed like automotive bulbs based on current rating, and should permit physical coupling to conduct heat effectively. Really, given the life of LEDs, most fixtures could be throw-away upon lamp failure, but people have a hard time accepting such a shift. "I paid $100 for this light and if the bulb fails I throw it away?" is not offset by "It'll last 20 years and save 10x the cost in energy savings." In reality, all residential fixtures will be at least 2 generations of style outdated in 20 years, so the real value of LED bulbs would be to swap the fixture but keep the bulbs!

Note that most houses today are overly cost-optimized when it comes to lighting, and the standard room lighting is an odd compromise of ambient and task lighting, with accent and decorative left to room content. "Economical" typically translates to "inefficient, ineffective, and ugly" - three for the price of one! And this from an engineer -- I can't imagine how designers with taste and style must cringe at the average home!

One 'Economy Lighting Standard' that I think about frequently is the basic room light in the center of the ceiling.. which means unless you really have an excessive amount of ambient light generated from it, you have put your own shadow onto anything around the edges of the room that you need to work on or see, and need to ADD a task light to these other places. Particularly in Kitchens, where you are working on countertops.

These paper-thin LED adhesive strips are becoming a very useful source of undercounter lighting, and in other tight spaces (closets, pantry cupboards, dark basement or attic corners, nightlights..) that can have the light so close to the subjects that far less power is needed to get up to useful or just workable light levels.

Many of these strips are 'cuttable' down to a 3 led segment, which for the Warm Whites I got, is a .3 watt (25ma) source, but plenty for glowing the bathroom for the midnight necessities, or making a dorm-fridge or toolbox searchable.

This company sells surplus, and I've been seeing more and more LEDs in surplus, as well, prices knocked way down. Lots of experimenting to try. As you said essentially, a directional 'spotlight' can become an ambient, soft source by just bouncing it along a white wall, or glowing a Paper lantern with it.

Our conference rooms at work used to have panel lights -- too much light for presentations when on, too dark when off, lots of light on the table top and not much on the edges and corners.

After a thoughtful redesign, there are three sets of lights with dimmers. Ambient lighting surrounds the edges, but not the front, and sets the overall lighting level. With the lights low, attendees can enter and exit with plenty of visibility, but those at the table can focus on the front. Front lighting can either provide illumination to a speaker or be off to give contrast to a projector. Center lighting for the table can be on for paper-passing, or dim for discussions. Put it on bright for a fast-paced kick-butt meeting, or leave it low for a working lunch discussion.

The revised room is much more functional, pleasant, and efficient. I'd like to do the same sort of usefulness analysis and upgrade for every room in my home.

I've found I like a couple separated splashes of hard light hitting my desk from high above, and over eating areas, so the crisp shadows make objects well-defined, and can have the feel of a bit of sunlight around you.

I am certainly not opposed to using new light technology to make improvements to bad lighting situations - LED's are great for task lighting.
It is the obsession with more area lighting, and then "highlighting" of things that don;t need to be, that I think is counterproductive.

As more LED's find there ways to light things that were never lit before, they could have been replacing things that are already lit using inefficient technology.

True enough, and that's Jevon's Paradox at work.

To light a room, I bounce one or two 9 watt CFLs off of a white wall for area lighting.

Work areas get a 14 watt CFL spot light, but only when I need it. The key is to use a deep housing so you aren't blasting light into your room mate's eyes.

Unused rooms and hallways get a 2 watt LED nightlight. Including the porch light, I can light up my whole house for about 60 watts. Looking forward to doing it for 30 watts.

I am illuminating my 2 m x 1 m computer table with a 26 W CFL with a color temperature of 6,500 K in an 8 inch pan reflector mounted above and to my left. It is a great light making it easy to read my LCD monitor. LED bulbs will have to advance considerably to beat my CFL's in price, brightness and color quality. I made the mistake of buying four 14 W, 900 lumens, CFL's with an awful color temperature of 2,700 K. Their red light is hard on my eyes.

What is Overshoot? We have all heard of the Reindeer of St. Matthew Island or yeast in a vat, but are there other examples? Sure there are… everywhere. But one of the best examples of overshoot happens in many parts of Asia, and it happens as regular as clockwork, every 48 years. Every 48 years bamboo flowers then fruits then it dies. The entire bamboo forest dies. But a new bamboo forest shoots up immediately.

In many forest, especially the bamboo forest of India a variety of bamboo grows that produces very large fruit. The forest produces about 10 tons of bamboo fruit per acre. And that creates an explosion in the population of rats. They go from a population of about 100 rats per acre to a population of several thousand in just about six months. Then when they have devoured all the bamboo fruit they invade the fields of rice near the bamboo forest. Thousands upon thousands of rats eat every rice field in sight, then as in all examples of overshoot, there is a massive die-off. Unfortunately many of the farmers and their families suffer die-off as well. The rats have eaten all their crops so they starve.

Why do huge swarms of rats overrun a bamboo forest in India once every half-century? Airs August 3, 2011 on PBS. Or you can watch it right now: Rat Attack

Overshoot is just a natural phenomenon that always occurs when any species encounters a temporary and large enough supply of food that remains long enough for the species to multiply above the natural carrying capacity of its niche. And, of course, when that temporary supply of food is gone, die-off always follows.

"If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored." Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden.

Ron P.

"The rats have eaten all their crops so they starve."

Yes, but... the sex was very good while it lasted.

Such a serious post deserves better than such a silly sarcastic reply.

Ron P.

You had to have been there.

"...until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.

Since these are the last words of your 'Quite Serious Post' Ron, is it not understandable that there are people who don't live by such dismal conclusions who would be inspired to lighten the mood a little?

That's why death jokes and sex jokes are such natural bedfellows.

Otherwise, it's surely not difficult to find many examples of mass-death, and we can draw our own conclusions to them, but as Edmund Gwenn and many others allegedly told us on their deathbeds,

"Dying is easy. Comedy, that's hard."

(And I do completely agree that we are deep into overshoot, I just play that song on a banjo, not with an opera)

Those are not my words Jokhul. Perhaps a little more of the context would be in order.

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page131-132.

But I really don't think the starvation of Indians whom had their food supply eaten should be a laughing matter. I really fail to see any room for humor there. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, voice of the Aflac duck was fired for making jokes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Aflac did not see the humor in such death and suffering.

However there may be a need for humor in such a dire world. As the cliche goes; Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows. ;-)

Ron P.

The dirty little secret is out. I have almost as many past lives as I do personalities. It's how I knew about bamboo sex.
Four Rats Gump

People are reincarnated rats.

Some are even Stainless Steel Rats.

Not your words? They certainly are words you chose to place there, and set up the frame of mind of this passage.

Good God, Hollywood doesn't traumatize as well as this selection.

I want a little perspective here.. I want to know about all the animals that are downright BORED right now, and will be bored for several more weeks before they will be "eaten alive; others running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease."

'Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw'

It's funny that the issue of your selective descriptives of Nature is sometimes referred to as 'Cherry-picking', since (except for the individual cherries, perhaps) that is a pastime I associate with being a forager in nature which has very little misery attached to it.. except for a miserable stomach-ache I recall in a German Cherry Tree once as an eight-year old.. and as a matter of fact, my Claws and Teeth HAD also turned red.

Hmm.. maybe I'll have to rethink all this.

But I'm not laughing at the farmers who were crucified by this 'Rat-Tsunami', any more, perhaps than the rest of the cruel sadness that is the fate of us wretched mortals.. except that there is a great deal MORE in life than that unsurprising finale', and it's truly a miserable sadness when we allow ourselves to focus on it out of all proportion to the many joys of being alive. (Cue Prancing Impalas, Frolicing Otters and Giddy Lion Cubs)

Signed, rapacious primate.

Jokuhl, what is your problem? You constantly harass my posts. Why?

I want to know about all the animals that are downright BORED right now,...

It's funny that the issue of your selective descriptives of Nature is sometimes referred to as 'Cherry-picking',

Cherry picking? You don't appear to know what cherry picking is. Was the local news cherry picking when they reported that the fire department had to rescue a cat from atop a utility pole? Why did they not report on all the cats that did not have to be rescued that day? They were cherry picking because they only reported on cats that were trapped up a pole? I did not talk about all the animals that are lying around board so I am cherry picking.

Of course those are the words I chose. Yes, that is exactly what is happening in the natural world. The point was to show that overshoot was a natural phenomena and that the results of overshoot is also a natural phenomena. Nature does not care about suffering and death, nature is just nature and nothing more.

If nature were kind, she would at least make the minor concession of anesthetizing caterpillars before they are eaten alive from within. But nature is neither kind nor unkind. She is neither against suffering nor for it. Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects the survival of DNA. It is easy to imagine a gene that, say, tranquilizes gazelles when they are about to suffer a killing bite. Would such a gene be favored by natural selection? Not unless the act of tranquilizing a gazelle improves that gene’s chances of being propagated into future generations. It is hard to see why this should be so, and we may therefore guess that gazelles suffer horrible pain and fear when they are pursued to death—as most of them eventually are.
- Richard Dawkins: River out of Edan

The picture that I was trying to deliver is that it can happen to us, You and I! We are only part of nature and are not immune to the horrible consequences of overshoot. God will not make us immune from the consequences of massive over population.

But you don't want to hear that. I am really disappointed in you Jokuhl. You want to attack my post but the best you can do is chastise me for not reporting on all the board animals also.

Ron P.

The posts of yours that I respond to, that I comment on, Ron. Are the ones where you take a localized event and present it as if it were a universal truth.

ie, "Yes, that is exactly what is happening in the natural world." (No, that is ONE, UNSURPRISING ASPECT of what is happening in the natural world, and it manages to leave out just trillions of 'critter-hours' of other kinds of experience.) That is what I mean by cherrypicking, no less than Mr. Dawkins providing a condensed and highly dramatic viewing of the doings in the natural world and painting it as a great misery. I'm sorry he didn't like camp.

The rats and the farmers do seem to point out how catastrophic an extreme overshoot can be, no less than the Reindeer on the Island.. but as these are fairly contained situations, it's hard to see just what is being added to the tale of Humanity's precarious perch. We have some similarities to them, and a great number of (probably insufficient) differences as well. We have multiple streams of food that we can produce and store, we have a range of ways (many woefully underimplemented, but proven no less) to get energy to help us with food production. We have the 'security' of having people all over the planet with different diets in different ecosystems, so while there could clearly be a devastating setback in populations, there are all sorts of places that can also persevere, and can regain contact with other areas.. the differences between Modern Humans and Reindeer, or Rats, even Easter Islanders is considerable.

I don't doubt we 'could' see a die-off.. just as much as I could 'catch a bus' today, or my daughter's camp on an island could fall prey to some wacked out gun-nut.. there is great great peril. But why insist on the misery until you're in it? In the meantime, there's a lot of work to do, and there's ice cream.

That's why I take on certain of your posts, which send out this telegraph of haranguing despair and then give it a nice topping of enforced helplessness. I'm not opposed to 'negatives'.. but they fit into a broader world picture, which includes mutual support, teaching, encouragement, even when the chips are down, even when it's not meant to be any promise of success, comradery.

You call it harassment, I call it tough love.
Don Rickles..

you take a localized event and present it as if it were a universal truth.

Well pretty close. Rats, mice, and many other animals often reach plague proportions. Mice plagues happen very frequently in many parts of the world. And it always happens because a temporary supply of food appears. And they always multiply beyond their normal carrying capacity when this great abundance of food appears. And they always die-off when it is gone. That is about as close to a universal truth as I can imagine.

But I do understand where you are coming from:

the differences between Modern Humans and Reindeer, or Rats, even Easter Islanders is considerable.

You believe we are somehow different, different even from other human societies that have collapsed in the past. That is where you are dead wrong. We are no different, in that respect, from the Maya, the Easter Islanders, the Mesopotamians, or any of the other dozen or so civilizations that have collapsed. We all multiplied way beyond the normal carrying capacity. We are already deep into overshoot. That is they were and we are. And regardless of our "multiple streams of food that we can produce and store" that you mention, they cannot be produced without fossil fuel. And much of it cannot be produced without irrigation.

Did you know that 60 percent of the food produced in Asia is produced on irrigated land? Produced from deep well pumps powered by gasoline or diesel? Most in areas where the water tables are dropping by several meters per year? But that is another story that you don't want to hear.

We are not special! Neither science, God or providence will save our butts. Now I know this makes you angry Jokuhl. And you lash out at me every time I bring it up. I am truly sorry but I must keep bringing it up. That is known as tough love. ;-)

Ron P.

I don't dispute your view that we are headed for dieoff. The only question is when. I suppose it is useful to point out reality to people so they don't engage in fruitless activities like trying to maintain civilization and the survival of the human species. Everyone who has been here for awhile is well aware of these views and most of the people here probably agree with them. Beyond that, however, is there a point at which the message just becomes depressing and not of much use as a guide to the future or what should be done with respect to the future? In part, I ask this because this issue comes up in a local discussion group that I attend. They are looking for solutions and it is I that is essentially telling them there are none. No doubt I am extremely popular with the group.

I don't dispute your view that we are headed for dieoff. The only question is when.

I don't really know. But it will likely start when the world's economy collapses. That could be in less than five years but may be as long as 30 to 40 years out. My guess is, and it is just a guess, that things will start to unravel in about 5 or 6 years. And it will likely last many years before we hit bottom.

Really, there is just no way we can know very much about how things will play out. There are thousands of variables. We often talk about making an "educated guess" but I don't think there is any education that could give us a clue as to how things will really play out. But we do know that the ecological world is already collapsing. I could give a laundry list of things that are happening right now but I have already done that so many times that I just don't want to go through them again. But this ecological collapse can only continue in its current direction for so long before it starts to take us with it.

is there a point at which the message just becomes depressing and not of much use as a guide to the future...

Yes, that is called the present. But when you are watching the end of the world as we know it unfold, it's just damn hard to take your eyes off it, depressing or not.

They are looking for solutions and it is I that is essentially telling them there are none.

Well if we had a solution, you or I that is, it would not do one whit of good because no one would ever listen to us. So basically what they want to hear is how will they save us. Then you can tell them that they are doing all the wrong things. Make them mad at them instead of you. ;-)

Ron P.

Well, tone of voice is often hard to read on these posts Ron, but while I'm regularly annoyed by your credulousness at some of these themes you like to paint in absolutes, I have to say that I haven't actually been angry about any of these posts.

Lashing out? Ok, if you must. I thought I was just offering a frank critique of what I think is a recurring oversimplification in your "Nature and Human Nature" posts.. but you defend your positions on these so vehemently, it should be obvious to me that this is a sensitive area.

eg, "We are not special!"

Did I say we were special,? (just because we're a 'species'.. which could be said to be definitively special..) I think I was clear enough about what significant factors can come into play that makes our 'situation' special, like varied diet, eclectic and widespread habitats, global communications, interchangable energy supplies and tools. While I also said we may very well be facing die-off, and I agreed that we're in overshoot, many times.. so I don't pretend that we're safe.. I just find your examples to be bringing very little information that tells us much more about how it will play out for us.. what's next, Locusts, Frogs?

Thing is, I say 'We're in serious trouble'.. and you seem to be saying 'Game Over'. It's like your heavy use of exclamation marks.. it doesn't add to the argument to overstate things, and frequently I think it actually undermines the point.


I'm regularly annoyed by your credulousness at some of these themes you like to paint in absolutes,

Well, perhaps that's because they are absolutes. When 100 rats (per acre) suddenly find a food supply of 10 tons (per acre) they will absolutely multiply many fold. In this case going from about 100 to several thousand. And that is just natural. Any other species who suddenly finds itself a huge cache of food will also absolutely multiply its numbers in a similar manner.

Damn Bob, what is so hard to understand about that? Why would you expect another outcome? It will happen every time without exception. That is about as absolute as one can get.

Thing is, I say 'We're in serious trouble'.. and you seem to be saying 'Game Over'.

Make no mistake, the game is over. We are deep into overshoot. There is no cure for overshoot other than die-off! (Notice the exclamation point.) But if you can figure out how the world can support 7 billion people without fossil fuel, and without food from irrigation, then I am all ears. When you can do that then I will say: "Woah! I was wrong! (Another couple of exclamation points. Sorry.)

But that is exactly what I will say when you explain how we can reverse falling water tables, when you explain how we can reverse and bring back all those extinct species, when you explain how we can bring back the fish to the ocean, when you explain how we can restore the topsoil that is blowing and washing away, when you can explain how we can reverse climate change, when you can explain how to feed the starving people in the starving people of the Horn of Africa, when you can... well you get the idea.

Here are three words I would like to leave you with Bob: It's too late! (followed by a well deserved explanation point.) It's just too damn late Bob. Sorry about that.

One more very personal point. Stop complaining about the way I write. Yes I am emphatic about overshoot. Yes I am emphatic about what we are doing to the earth, our host, and yes I do use exclamation points. You don't like that? Tough but I am not going to change just to suit your fragile senses. So stop complaining about how I write because I am not going to change.

Ron P.

jokuhl, you aren't alone in being annoyed, but unlike you, I've given up even trying to argue with our darwin lad. The total and utter lack of wisdom and humility he consistently displays, alongside a stubbornness that suggests a level of intellectual accomplishment that is simply not present (humility means a: listening to someone else's views, and b, admitting that ones own weakly auto-didact derived views might, just might, in fact, not be the be and end all of complex matters and understandings. And might in fact just be a hodge-podge assembled to justify some non-critically examined set of biases that lead one to think one knows when one doesn't. Knowing when one does not know is part of wisdom, a part that darwinian is falling further and further away from every year I read here, except in his niche area where the facts really are simple and direct, oil production/depletion rates). More and more threads are being ruined by his absurd proclamations that he's right and the other person is wrong. This is especially annoying when the other person actually knows what they are talking about, especially with regards to finance/economics, but also of course any other area outside of oil statistics.

Luckily, outside these pages, I have no trouble at all finding high quality thinkers and authors, many of whom wrote good books, some great, some delightful, some wonderful, some challenging, some annoying but still proving me wrong in some bias I had, some of which you can even, gasp, find at the library, or buy. So I consider time spent debating with someone who a: refuses to admit just how thin his views really are, and b: wouldn't admit he was wrong even if all the facts showed him he was, ie, someone who has a self-admitted problem with arguing online, really absurdly so too I might add. Waste of time and bandwidth now. Getting closer and closer to trolling in my opinion, very close.

There's a lot of really interesting and serious discussions you can have on such issues, but I have to say, anyone who uses that Edwards Island to prove any point other than that a finite arctic eco system can't sustain much life and takes a long time to recover when it's damaged by a man-made non natural event (gee, really? no kidding, the Inuit knew that for thousands of years, that's how they lived off those ecosystems for so long) is obviously just lazy and not willing to actually investigate the big picture. Pretending that such a thin level of understanding warrants continuous proclamations of ultimate understanding, pompous posturing, and positive control over truth that excludes anyone who disagrees or actually understands the stuff from direct real world experience and serious, non flake level, study... I'm personally sick of it. Sorry, but I am. Getting harder and harder to read these threads, I am not a darwinian fan, and I wish there were an /ignore button I could use so I didnt' have to see his postings, but I do like the stuff he notes on production/depletion, but even there he's thin since he won't ever challenge his biases once he's committed himself to a position.

One reason I no longer pay much attention to such points was shown pretty clearly by a not so well written but still to the point book on the Black Plague (which I won't suggest or recommend because it was technically badly written, although decently researched-In the Wake of the Plague), which in the spell of 3 main outbreaks over about 30 years in 1300s dropped Euro populations down by about 40%. Or the Euro infections that killed it is now estimated about 95% of Indian (aka native americans) via things like smallpox and other diseases their systems simply could not fight. So all this planning and careful analysis and sure-fired doom mongering is a waste of time, once our resources drop to the point where we are unable to fight a new disease outbreak, or series of them, populations will adjust. And that will not take long. And that's just one area of many where the situation is far less cut and dry than simple minded and simplified world views would like to think.

But really, anyone who is concerned with population numbers who then ignores his own tribes quite recent experiences, or other tribes, here, in the North American/South American contintents, really isn't being serious about the matter. My feeling is it's just fear of losing all those things you thought you needed, you know, the garbage you wasted your working life striving to achieve? The empty trinkets, the worthless house, etc? Lol...

The questions are interesting but concluding anything from such inadequate sources is a waste of time totally.

All these questions are interesting, but given we are now in a situation with no precedents, with no known forward paths, saying one knows what will now happen is absurd, and also is going to exclude paths that don't fit with ones biases, especially rigidly, non-critically held biases. People have done this before, never globally, so we can learn bits and pieces, but we also have to keep open minds, something it appears darwinian is pathologically incapable of doing. I don't like being proven wrong in some biases, but if I am, then that's fine, I am. The book 1491 I found an eye opener even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear, for example.

The warning sign I'm seeing now more and more is the tendency to connect the quotes etc in 'arguing', really actually just chest pounding and saying I am right and you are wrong, which is all most of these things boil down to when darwinian is involved as far as I'm concerned. I much prefer an older tradition: say what you have to say, say it as well as you can, then step back and accept that either the words resonate/connect, or they do not. If they do not, then just stop, in other words, darwinian, save your copy and paste time, spare me the wikipedia quotes, I've read what you try to say for years, and as I said above, I find it thin, so wasting time arguing just to argue isn't going to convince me, you've already had years to do that, so if you failed then, you aren't going to do any better now. You should have kicked the habit each time you swore you would, but we just can't quite do that, can we? Too many negatives to generate, and too few positives, right?

H2, Sorry to disagree with you but Darwinian has got his sxxt together-you don't.

I have spent a simply enormous amount of time over the last few years reading just about any and every book I could find written by a serious scientist working in the field relevant to the overall question of dieoffs.

Furthermore I have a degree in ag-meaning applied life sciences.

I farm comercially and also in a small way on a sustainable subsistence level and understand ag large and small in a way no one outside the ranks of professionally trained farmers or scientists possibly can.

I have almost enough credits for another degree in biology.

I would dearly LOVE to disagree with Darwinian in respect to his doomerism, but there can be no question about his being right.The facts are ALL on his side.Anyone with the background necessary to thier proper evaluation must agree with him.Before too much longer, probably within the next decade and possibly much sooner in my own estimation, the facts of overshoot will become obvious to those who have so far managed to retain thier happy ignorance of them.

If there is oine thing about this forum that makes it truly stand out, it is the general high level of technical accuracy of the articles and commentary.

Scarcely anybody here disputes the reality of fossil fuel energy depletion, climate change, or any other basically settled but relatively new scientific consensus. We all pretty much believe in and mostly understand Darwinian evolution.

Ron (Darwinian) is without a doubt one of the best read and most literate members of this forum.

He is simply taking the facts as they exist and drawing the only possible conclusion , barring an actual miracle, that can be reasonably drawn.

I don't always agree with him in respect to minor points but in general you can bet your last dime he knows what he is talking about.

Thanks Mac, I really appreciate the support. I am trying to understand why all the opposition to the obvious facts of overshoot. The rats overshot their niche when a great abundant food source appeared. And, in nature, we can find hundreds of other such examples of overshoot. But some people get really belligerent when this simple fact is pointed out to them.

I think the source of their anger is the fact that they do not want to be compared with other animals. Perhaps...? They don't want to admit that we are but animals ourselves and are subject to the same instincts as other animals.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps there is a deeper explanation. At any rate I am going to give it considerable study. This is a real strange phenomenon. If we can find the explanation then we just might understand the tendency of denial a bit better.

Anyway, food for thought.

Thanks again for your support and kind words.

Ron P.

It probably stems from people mixing together the various doomer ideas into one big mass which seems far from certain. For example, while you state that die-off is inevitable, others have gone much farther and stated that not only is die-off inevitable, but humanity itself is doomed by global warming or the complete collapse of society such that nothing resembling humanity is left. People then reject the whole thing as being highly speculative in the most pessimistic form possible.

At the end of the day I also think that denialism in general is not particularly strange, and is based on the same principles that lead to the development of religions. Many people choose to believe ideas in part based on their emotional response to the ideas. Those of us driven by logic and reason at the expense of our emotional well being are, in fact, the minority. When someone encounters a doomer variant of Peak Oil, they see that it makes them feel bad without any hope for redemption. The conclusion is "This idea does me no good" and so they ignore and discount it. I'd argue that this is even a sane response when the idea is presented without any silver lining. If we're all going to die miserably, may as well enjoy our last days as much as possible.

My biggest concern is actually secondary die-offs. Which then ripple through the eco system.

ie, your crops fail, so you eat all the fish, but still die off somewhat. Next time the crops fail, further die-off to an even lower level because theres no fish to eat as a backup. Or the fish were controlling the population size of another creature which then multiples and further damages the eco-system. (not a brilliant example but hopefully you get what i mean)

The reindeer at St. Matthews didn't just wipe themselves out, they risked wiping out every other creature that relied on the good grasses, and the bad grasses, and anything else vaguely edible to the reindeer. Not to mention leaving the soil bare. Now imagine what hungry humans would do, given our population size.

A similar problem has to do with the Elk overpopulation in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. The Elk have been destroying the vegetation for years and affecting the Beaver, for example, that rely on the willows and Aspens. They could have introduced the classic predator of the Elk,wolves, but chose to introduce a seasonal killing of the Elk by sharpshooters. Now, there won't be dieoff from lack of food but dieoff from rifle shots, probably a better solution. The wolves were not introduced because the Park believed that there wasn't enough acreage to establish a viable wolf pack. There was also, of course, the usual objections of ranchers and others that would potentially be impacted by the wolf expansion. There was probably also the fear factor of wolves wandering the streets of Estes Park.

There are alternatives to dieoff but the implicit choice is to just wait for lack of resources to kill most of us off. Sharp shooting of human beings would probably be objectionable and a bit messy. Perhaps an alternative would be the devlopment of birth control that could be injected by way of a propellant from a machine gun.

I am assuming the Reindeer did not have predators. Short of a massive World War III, I guess human beings will just die the old fashioned way, by starvation and disease.

Release the wolves!

We can lend you some of our local wolves, they're pretty good at elk control.

The only problem is that the elk moved into town because the woods are full of wolves, and then we could't drive anywhere without dodging elk. The elk have discovered that the wolves are afraid to come into town because of the people, whereas the elk don't mind people at all - they know they can trample them into the dirt any time they want. The tourists aren't aware of the latter fact.

Actually, we did move some of our local wolves down to Montana a few years ago. Canadian wildlife authorities opened up a wolf corridor down the east side of the Rockies down to the border, and the US wildlife people assisted in this project. People in the US thought that the wolves got into northern Montana entirely through their own efforts, but actually it was more of a conspiracy because the US parks people wanted to get some wolves into Yellowstone to control the bison and other herbivores. I've got a T-shirt to commemorate it.

They could have introduced the classic predator of the Elk,wolves, but chose to introduce a seasonal killing of the Elk by sharpshooters. Now, there won't be dieoff from lack of food but dieoff from rifle shots, probably a better solution.

Sharpshooters and wolves do not an equal population-reducer make. Wolves target the sickly, the slow, the least fit members of the population. They help improve the genetic fitness and health of the herd by removing the weakest members and by the killing sick or diseased. Human sharpshooters do the complete opposite. They target the largest, strongest, and most fit elk seeking larger racks that make more impressive trophies.

Wolves put constant pressure on the elk population by hunting them year round and by launching many failed attacks for each successful kill. The elk must be vigilant at all times and do not have the ability to browse leisurely for most of the year. Human sharpshooters are only active only during the day and only during a narrow season throughout the year.

Loss of Top Predators Has Far-Reaching Effects

William Ripple, professor of forestry at Oregon State University, and a co-author of the study, has studied the disappearance and reintroduction of gray wolves in Yellowstone, and the influence these events have had on the surrounding animals and plants. "We cored the trees, counted the tree rings and found that the aspen trees stopped regenerating after the wolves were killed off," he said. By connecting the dots, his team developed a hypothesis: aspen tree growth and wolves are linked. Without wolves as predators, elk populations thrived, eating seedlings and wiping out many of the young aspen trees.

Since the wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, some aspens, cottonwoods and willows appear to be growing back. Ripple believes this is because elk, which are fewer in number and more skittish when wolves are present, are eating fewer seedlings, allowing for more tree growth.

Where the Wild Things Were

Without sea otters to keep ravenous sea urchins in check, some ocean floors in the North Pacific have been stripped of kelp. In Yellowstone National Park, the eradication of wolves has resulted in a glut of elk that have trampled river banks and chewed down young trees. White-tailed deer have denuded the undergrowth in the forests of the eastern United States, because wolves and cougar have disappeared. Without large meat eaters, mid-size predators—raccoons, blue jays, crows, squirrels, opossums—have proliferated, to the detriment of songbird populations.

Coyote packs have returned (?) to the US northeast to deal with the deer and none too soon.

I would be careful of the coyotes in the Northeast. They are actually part wolf and are big enough to take down a human being. They killed a folk singer on Cape Breton Island a couple of years ago.

Here in the Canadian Rockies, the coyotes are still the original wimpy Western coyotes. We use them for rabbit control. The deer are controlled by wolves, cougars, and bear, and of course any of those animals are big enough to kill people, too. I've never heard of a wolf killing a person around here, but cougars and bears bag somebody every so often.

Every now and then I see a lone coyote they are the wimpy ones. But once and only once about eight years ago I saw a small pack of impressively large, impressively energetic wolves(?), coy/wolf mix(?). I was in a car. I would not want to meet them alone in the woods!

The coyotes do some impressive singing. Sometimes our two dogs will sing alone with them. :)

We have several packs of coyotes living in the woods behind the house. They walk brazenly right past the house and wander down the street, acting just like dogs ("Just act natural, nobody will recognize me, I'm just a dog, I'm just a dog...")

The neighbor got freaked out though. She has two lunch-sized dogs, and a pack of coyotes were hanging out next to her deck, waiting for them to come out. I don't think they were intending to play with them. Fru-fru dogs are very much at risk around here, and coyotes can easily outwit the bigger dogs - I met some people who were looking for a new dog after a pack of coyotes chewed up their doberman. People, though, are much bigger than coyotes and can easily intimidate them, although I wouldn't trust some people's ability to outwit them.

It's prudent to carry a walking stick. That's about all you need, that and acting tough. Coyotes aren't very brave. However, around here people carry bear spray when they go out for walks, and that would be more than enough to deal with coyotes.

Used to have a neighbor with packish Irish Wolfhounds, back when I was a teen. I don't know how hostile they can be, but if I went for a walk or run they would often pace me on either side, ranging in front and back. I always felt pack-hunted, as they seemed to naturally keep me circled, yet at a distance.

Though they could easily have just been enjoying a run too, a lot of small dogs and other animals disappeared in those days. I was a pretty big teen, and generally carried a stick, but would not have given myself a good chance against them if they got serious.

Fortunately, most well-fed animals have a fairly conservative risk-tolerance, and will not much risk injury for a single meal.

I can recall one morning in New Mexico. My two Rottweilers were in the fenced yard. Two coyotes walked by right outside the fence in complete confidence, they knew the dogs couldn't get um. We worried about coyotes getting puppies, but not people. My neighbor saw her 50poundish dog dragged off by a mountain lion. But interestingly the ski area had a 75pound dog, that was always outside, and it lived into old age. So I guess under ordinary circumstances Mountain lions won't take on an animal over a certain size/threat level.

You know, it is easy to fall into these narratives of primal fear of being attacked by savage animals--gives you a little adrenaline jolt, no doubt, just thinking about it--what fun!

But really, how many people a year are killed by 'fierce' animals versus, say, Bambi:


Our primal narratives, as compelling as they seem to us, are not much supported by data. A swift kick to the head by one of bambi's hoofs is much more likely to be the death of you that being ripped to shreds by a pack of wolves.

Of course it is far, far more likely that the hamburger you are eating will kill you, or the SUV that will roll over when you take a corner too fast...

Personally, compared to all the utterly banal, embarrassing and downright shameful ways to die the modern world provides, I would consider being ripped to shreds by a mountain lion or a pack of wolves to be a singularly blessed way to go.

(Of course, that is with the full knowledge that the original meaning of 'blessed' is 'bloodied.')

That's easy for you to say - you don't have wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears wandering through your back yard in the middle of the night. Or, in the case of grizzly bears, through your kitchen if you leave the back door open.

As far as people being ripped to shreds by wild animals, that's exactly what the local hospital has to deal with when someone gets mauled by a local grizzly bear. The worst thing about it is that they usually survive the experience and have to be painfully reconstructed by the surgeons. This is not a lot of fun for either the survivor or the surgeon.

Parks Canada has introduced a new policy on some of the hiking trails near here - everybody has to travel in groups of 4 or more and everybody has to carry bear spray. They fined someone $400 last weekend for being alone and NOT carrying bear spray.

This is actually as much for the bears' protection as the people's, since after being blasted once or twice by bear spray, a bear learns to avoid people completely, and they don't have to put it down before it kills someone.

Yep, I've read some of the narratives of people who have been attacked by bears. We are properly horrified by such things. And I certainly think that it is wise to be prudent when large, fierce animals are about.

I'm just saying that millions of years of evolution have hard wired a fear of such encounters, but we have no such hardwired dread/fascination of, for example, cars.

Yet far more people are mutilated in car crashes, but those are not viewed with the level of horror and fascination that stories of people being attacked by bears or wolves garnish.

I have been in areas with bears, cougars, wolves and other beasts. It is at once unsettling and thrilling to be in a tent and know that the very thin material between you and any large thing that might want to eat you is not going to be any deterrent.

A cougar tried to bag a six-year old a few minutes drive from here last weekend. Its sibling tried to pick off a dog and cornered three cyclists right in town two weeks ago.

Six-year-old survives cougar attack

According to Alberta Parks conservation officer Arian Spiteri, the family was hiking along the Barrier Lake Trail. The girl and her father were walking together, while her brother and mother were farther away.

"She was walking back with her dad, and she was following behind her dad," Spiteri said

She said the cougar attacked from behind, but when it did her dad reacted exactly as he should have.

"Her dad did everything right. He followed his instincts, he threw things at the cougar, and shouted at the cougar, and that was enough to get the cougar to move off."

The juvenile cougar is the brother of a female cat that was killed two weeks ago after it attacked an off-leash dog and cornered three cyclists near the Highline Trail on July 18.

I was kayaking on Barrier Lake last weekend. I walk through the off-leash dog area (sometimes with a dog) and cycle the Highline Trail regularly. And I know Arian Spiteri.

Not that any of this is going to stop me from kayaking, cycling, or walking dogs - I just stay alert and take precautions when I'm in the woods. But it does make you think.

Apparently the wolves are doing a bang up job with elk control in Montana:


I'm just glad a few of my Canadian dollars helped to move those Canadian wolves down to Montana to restore their elk population to a more natural level.

The elk hunters of Montana may disagree with me on that point, which is why they wiped out their wolf population in the first place, but I'm happy with the results.

"Many people choose to believe ideas in part based on their emotional response to the ideas. Those of us driven by logic and reason at the expense of our emotional well being are, in fact, the minority."

Ah. Ah.
The peakoilist exceptionalism. Not at all driven by emotion. Only hard, cold facts.
You mean to say that spending hours everyday on an Internet message board hollering about overshoot, collecting news that support one's worldview, carefully dismembering the arguments of dissenters, and painstakingly complaining one's way to the grave about the monstruosity of our species is NOT an emotional response to the problem?
You mean to say that in such a process, there is no way that one could become fanatical about the defense of one's worldview?

As an exemple, the Norvegian killer that recently made the news truly believed that his actions were justified by a logical and reasonable assessment of the situation in Europe. This to say that the association of logic and reason to a driven personality is not necessarily harmless, and certainly not neutral.
Dawkins, for instance, who is often mentioned in this thread, became obsessed with atheism, to the point of unhealthy proselytism (I do not mean to imply that it makes the books he published about evolution less reputable, far from it, simply that behind science, logic and reason, there is an ideology, a statement about the world).

On a sidenote, I might argue that your absolute faith in logic and reason is in no way different from a religion. It is just another rendition of the world.

So I really agree with Jokul here. On a topic as uncertain as the prediction of the future, humility is in order. And we are going to need it, coupled with a lot of hope, if we want to limit the scope of what is to come.

far from it, simply that behind science, logic and reason, there is an ideology, a statement about the world).

Oh, you mean that exposing the religious and ideological hatred of science, and the scientific method, is itself an ideology? Why yes of course, all iconoclasts, or those who battle the religious and fanatical attack upon science, and in particular evolution, are ideologues themselves.

Ron P.

Come on, Dawkins is doing much more than that.
His Atheist Bus Campaign, for instance.

Oh, you mean the campaign where they bought ads on buses stating There is PROBABLY no God that started as a positive counter-response to the Jesus Said ads running on London buses in June 2008. These ads displayed the URL of a website which stated that non-Christians "will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell … Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire prepared for the devil". ?

Why yes, anyone stating that that non-believers will probably not spend eternity burning in hell is obviously an ideological crusader.

Why pardon me for not recognizing such an ideologue. ;-)

Ron P.

There are
friendly and tolerant atheists
friendly and tolerant theists
mean spirited and intolerant atheists
mean spirited and intolerant theists

There are sadistic members of the last two groups that enjoy rubbing the face of their opponents in "the truth". I feel that Dawkins is in that group.

I like people in the first two groups and try to avoid people in the last two categories.

I would have bet that your answer would have been this one.

Who started first is irrelevant.
Plus, Dawkins is responsible of many initiatives that were not triggered by anything else but his desire to prove religious people wrong (using his own tools, how convenient). A simple look (like on his wikipedia page)at his oversized activism in this field proves this.

As far as I am concerned, I do not believe in religion, but I have no respect for people so set in their views that they cannot respect the fact that others think differently.

Debate the facts regarding Peak Oil if you choose. But really this rant is more or less a lot of babble that humans are humans. I want to hear you say that peak oil as discussed in various plots and graphs is emotion as you put it.

Of course, some may argue that entire media empires some of which appear to collude with the British Police in various ways are dedicated to promoting the ideology that greenhouse gases are not concerning and the economy would fix itself if only those pesky banks did not get in the way and loan out money to poor people. So those ideologists that sit in front of computer terminals at all hours seem doomed to the same fate as peak oil folks who have a different take on the situation.

To critique anyone for their dedication to any given cause is simply sad.

My critique is not about the message, it is about the method.
And I am not saying that the whole peak oil problem is about emotion (it is not), I am saying that the way some people talk about it is emotional, and it makes them sound unpleasantly fanatical.
For instance, when Jokuhl mentions that humans are different from deers, he might be right and he might be wrong, but it does not justify Darwinian trying to make him appear as someone who does not understand the problem. It is actually a point worth discussing, not worth dismissing with a sneer.

And dedication is good. But it has to be held in check, otherwise it becomes fanatism. In the past, I have seen ecologists go mad and start hating their species (when in fact we just act the way we know how). And self-hate is an ideology of death.

...simply that behind science, logic and reason, there is an ideology, a statement about the world).

Um, not really.

   /ˌaɪdiˈɒlədʒi, ˌɪdi-/ Show Spelled[ahy-dee-ol-uh-jee, id-ee-] Show IPA
noun, plural -gies.
the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
Philosophy .
the study of the nature and origin of ideas.
a system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.
theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature.
1790–1800; ideo- + -logy; compare French idéologie

And that, dear sir, is the antithesis of science and the scientific method.

So the belief that science, because of its method based on logic and reason, can explain every phenomenon in the natural world, is not an ideology?
You, dear sir, are biased. And you do not even realize it.

You, dear sir, are biased. And you do not even realize it.

No, you just don't understand what science and the scientific method are, nor do you understand how science works. Just because science has not been able to explain every phenomenon in the natural world, doesn't mean that the method is flawed. It is still the best tool that we have for understanding the natural world.

Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: "a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."[3]

Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable, to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
Source Wikipedia

If that is too dry for you try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U

I understand science and its methodology alright, thank you.
But again, as often here, when a point is controversial, it seems trendy to use scorn to belittle you adversary's argumentation.

Try this instead then. The fact that everything HAS TO be explained using logic and reason is not an ideology?
But of course you will say no. You believe so much that science is above everything else that you cannot accept the fact that the desire to uncover every mechanism of the world is a statement about one's vision of the world. Baudrillard calls it technician pornography. I do not, but I understand his argument.


OK, if you say so...

I think that definition of 'Ideology' you posted can be challenged a bit.. I don't agree that every 'ideology' is a tautology or is a false construct built just on faith.. so even in science we have created some arbitrary pins in the wall, due to the limits of our senses and our understanding, in order to have some anchor points to work out from.. but everything moves, and our 'facts' are only true to a point.. Yes, science does try to readjust those pins and re-evaluate, as one of the best ways we've tried, to make our vision clear and accurate.. but the flaws of mortal man, and the shifting of the wall under our pins still makes the process fraught with innaccuracies, and requiring as I said before, a pile of humility.

Twain's words are twinkling at me from the top corner..
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so.”

"[...] the great intellectual justification of science has vanished. Ever since Newton and Descartes, science has explicitly offered us the vision of total control. Science has claimed the power to eventually control everything, through its understanding of natural laws. But in the twentieth century, that claim has been shattered beyond repair. First, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle set limits on what we could know about the subatomic world. Oh well, we say. None of us lives in a subatomic world. It doesn't make any practical difference as we go through our lives. Then Gödel's theorem set similar limits to mathematics, the formal language of science. Mathematicians used to think that their language had some special inherent trueness that derived from the laws of logic. Now we know that what we call 'reason' is just an arbitrary game. It's not special, in the way we thought it was.

"And now chaos theory proves that unpredictability is built into our daily lives. It is as mundane as the rainstorm we cannot predict. And so the grand vision of science, hundreds of years old - the dream of total control has died, in our century. And with it much of the justification, the rationale for science to do what it does. And for us to listen to it. Science has always said that it may not know everything now but it will know, eventually. But now we see that isn't true. It is an idle boast. As foolish, and as misguided, as the child who jumps off a building because he believes he can fly."

"We are witnessing the end of the scientific era. Science, like other outmoded systems, is destroying itself. As it gains in power, it proves itself incapable of handling the power. Because things are going very fast now. Fifty years ago, everyone was gaga over the atomic bomb. That was power. No one could imagine anything more. Yet, a bare decade after the bomb, we began to have genetic power. And genetic power is far more potent than atomic power. And it will be in everyone's hands. It will be in kits for backyard gardeners. Experiments for schoolchildren. Cheap labs for terrorists and dictators, And that will force everyone to ask the same question - What should I do with my power? - which is the very question science says it cannot answer."

-Jurassic Park

I don't agree with Dr. Malcolm's (Crichton's?) ultimate abandonment of Science, but I do think he has successfully shown the 'Mortal Frailty' of a system of thought that many have held as above reproach.. and it's exactly this insistence on Science as a transcendent truth that has made some people hold it as others hold their ideologies.. their Firm and Immovable Definitions of the Universe.


and it's exactly this insistence on Science as a transcendent truth that has made some people hold it as others hold their ideologies..

To be clear, what I'm saying is, that 'The Scientific Method' is the best tool we have devised so far to obtain knowledge about the natural world.

I have the utmost respect for Ole Sam Clemens' brilliant mind and wit!

As for Crichton, a well known climate change denialist and anti science crusader, not so much, granted he did write some entertaining stories in his prime.

Just about everything in that quote from Jurassic Park makes me cringe... unfortunately it would take most of the day to explain why I disagree with all of it.


Joe Cool.........You may or may not have read it.
Sam Harris has another very good book, "The Moral Landscape".
Religious types couldn't stomach it but it's there to digest if you are game.

He looks pretty rigid. Another proponent of extremes.

"Harris also says that moderation is bad theology because the extremists are, in a sense, right: he thinks that, if one reads the texts literally, God wants to put homosexuals to death or destroy infidels. Harris claims that religious moderates appear to be blinded to the reality of what fundamentalists truly believe. Moderates tend to argue that suicide attacks can be attributed to a range of social, political, and economic factors. Harris counters by noting that many suicide bombers come not from poverty but from mainstream Muslim society. He points to the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were "college-educated" and "middle-class" and suffered "no discernible experience of political oppression." Harris thus asserts that religion is a significant cause of terrorism."


'The extremists are right' in WHAT sense? In the sense that somebody has insisted on a purely literal reading of a text, and a completely inflexible reading of the dictionary definitions for the words in that text? Those rigid definitions are exactly HOW he has been able to define all of religion by the actions of these extremists, as if they were really the pure embodiment, the Euclidean Ideals of the faith they mutated out of, a definition you can ONLY get from THEM.

The Radical Fundamentalisms today are only as much part of the Religions they quote as is the multi-colored sludge in your fridge still essentially the milk that it started out as.

Another day...

You probably should actually read it, then pass judgement. There are many reviews on Amazon, opinions are polarized which IMO makes for quite a good book. It's at times laborious to read and I doubt there would be many who would totally agree with him but Harris would not be expecting agreement.


I don't understand why there is even an argument here.

Basically, you are saying: ALL humans are irrational (at some level) and we are all human.

I agree.

I am saying that science itself is irrational (at some level).
But for some, such an idea seems completely outlandish.

Why would that be outlandish?

Albert Einstein supposedly said "God does not play dice with the Universe"

To some, the mixing of "God" and "Science" is irrational.
Yet Albert Einstein is considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all times.

"Science" and irrationality do mix; and often.

(God forgive me for saying that.)

sb - And some folks are a lot more "human" then others. In fact some are so freakin' human they couldn't pour pee out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. And that fact has been proven scientificly many times.

In fact some are so freakin' human they couldn't pour pee out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

LOL! Maybe they didn't translate the instructions into enough languages... or perhaps they should have done a power point presentation.

Logic and reason are fine as long as you don't start with flawed premises or simply mess up your logic and reason. Also, you may not like the results and you don't have to act on them, but that is not the fault or responsibility of logic.

Logically if we are willing to cull animals that cause environmental imbalance then since humans are animals they can and should be culled if they are damaging the environment. But only an idiot would push THAT logic. Even though the logic is sound.

Everyone has an ideology, the question is how big, how encompassing in your life and whether you are willing to change with new evidence and thought.

Hm, I half agree with you here.

A good exemple of my point is Chinese traditional medicine. In the Confucian worldview, dissecting a body is seen as defiling the body that was given by your ancestors, thus a western type of medicine never developed in the East Asian world (until we came and stomped on them, of course). Instead, they studied the energies and the different "crossroads" within the body, something that works but is dismissed as irrational by most western scientists. Hence acupuncture, tai-chi, etc... Great discoveries, amazing even, wouldn't you agree?
The scientific method and its tools, logic and reason, would never have been able to come up with such a version of medicine, simply because their premisses would never allow it.

The Western scientist, when seeing a box, will try to open it to see what is inside. An other wordview might try to feel it with one's hands, and endeavor to make observations based on touch.
When I say that there is ideology behind science, I am not saying it out of the blue. Western science has a way of looking at things, an utilitarian one, that predates any discoveries made using its tools.

It does not mean that science is bad, or useless, or anything like that. I am just trying to say that believing in it religiously, or trumpeting that it is neutral is a fallacy, one that is reassuring (as with the horrible emotion), but a fallacy nonetheless.

Instead, they studied the energies and the different "crossroads" within the body, something that works but is dismissed as irrational by most western scientists. Hence acupuncture, tai-chi, etc... Great discoveries, amazing even, wouldn't you agree?

No, I wouldn't! I'll stick with the reality of physics, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, etc... nothing wrong with practicing Tai-Chi, there is plenty of scientific evidence for health benefits derived from exercise and meditation.

Acupuncture on the other hand is pure unmitigated BS! How do I know that with such certainty? The scientific method!

The evidence for acupuncture's effectiveness for anything but the relief of some types of pain and nausea has not been established.[8][9][10][11][12] In the case of nausea, systematic reviews have concluded that stimulation of one particular point (with acupuncture, acupressure and other methods) is as effective as antiemetic medications in the reduction of post-operative nausea and vomiting, relative to a sham treatment.[13] Although evidence exists for a very small and short-lived effect on some types of pain, several review articles discussing the effectiveness of acupuncture have concluded it is a placebo effect.[9][14][15] A 2011 review of review articles concluded that, except for neck pain, acupuncture was of doubtful efficacy in the treatment of pain and accompanied by small but serious risks and adverse effects including death, particularly when performed by untrained practitioners.[12] There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles.[16][17][18][19]

Evidence for the treatment of other conditions is equivocal.[20] There is no anatomical or scientific evidence for the existence of qi or meridians, concepts central to acupuncture.[11][16

Of course the placebo effect is well document by science! So what ever floats your boat.

"Acupuncture on the other hand is pure unmitigated BS! "

You obviously know nothing about it, but thanks to your western science bias, you are able to pass judgment on 3000 years of a philosophy that is as respectable as any science.
I applaude with both hands.

(and you proved my point, thank you)

You obviously know nothing about it, but thanks to your western science bias, you are able to pass judgment on 3000 years of a philosophy that is as respectable as any science.

I actually had tested had on my own body on a few occasions. I also have read quite a bit about it and even read some peer reviewed papers on its effects. Yes, I can pass judgment on a 3000 year old philosophy because the extraordinary claims of it working or how it works are not supported by the evidence, the same way that I can pass judgment on astrology or homeopathy... except of course its placebo effect, which is another story entirely.

I'm guessing you didn't like Tim Minchin's beat poem on YouTube that I linked to up thread.

Your use of italics for the world philosophy proves how open you are to anything that is not western science.
Fine. It is your choice, but I really think it is your loss.

"I'm guessing you didn't like Tim Minchin's beat poem on YouTube that I linked to up thread."

Could not watch it yet, I do not have sound on this machine.
But will do.

Hence acupuncture, tai-chi, etc... Great discoveries, amazing even, wouldn't you agree?


You do not have magical energies flowing through your body that can't be seen, felt or recorded but for some inexplicable reason reacts to metal pins by curing you of random illnesses.

The Western scientist, when seeing a box, will try to open it ...

Aha Simulacrum! Timshel.

It appears we have culture clash here over the meaning of the word "science".

In that regard you might enjoy a few specific lines drawn out of the Coen Brothers movie, "A Serious Man"

A Western physics professor tells his Korean student:
"In this office, actions ALWAYS have consequences!"

The Korean responds,
"Yes sir, actions OFTEN have consequences"

The Western physics professor slams his desk in anger,
"No! Always. In this office, actions ALWAYS have consequences!"

(The fundamental question being: Which laws of "science" reign in this quadrant of the Universe?)


Excellent post step back, thank you.
And you have me spot on.

For the record, I am a born and bred white Westerner (fed on science for most of my life), but I have lived in Asia for a few years (and when I say live, I mean learning the langage and the culture), and it really opens some perspective about what you would call the truth.
Ours is a multi-faceted world. Maybe it would be wise to remember it.

I wonder how much energy has been exothermally lost to the scientific community just from the slamming of doors, books, erasers, etc..

What a wonderful passage, Timshel!

"But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb.

Peakoilist "exceptionalism" [equals the idea that "we" are] Not at all driven by emotion [but] Only [by] hard, cold facts

Bravo Simulacrum. +5

Except, I would not be so harsh on my fellow TODders because, like all other homo nonsapiens, we feel that we are somehow "special", above it all.

We have "special" knowledge and a secret PO handshake while the lowly Joe-5.5 Pack is beneath us and therefore when the day of reckoning comes, we will be spared. Yee ha!

Hum, Asinine wrote:
"Those of us driven by logic and reason at the expense of our emotional well being are, in fact, the minority"

didn't he?

I think he's agreeing with you, S.

When I read such statements, I hear echoes of the old snipe,

"Descartes thinks he thinks, therefore he thinks he is.."

Yeah, maybe.
I was not really sure, actually. His post could have been read both ways. :)

The peakoilist exceptionalism. Not at all driven by emotion. Only hard, cold facts.

Yea, which is why one of that class of posters was called out for the bigoted comments about Arabs.

Or how on of that class of posters keeps commenting on Economics - because the "Science" of Economics is all about cold hard facts. Nary a false statement or questionable premise there.

Well, my sentence was meant as irony, obviously.
But maybe your post is also?

Well, my sentence was meant as irony, obviously.

When called on a previous BS statement:

"Its a joke people" - Rush Limbaugh

I am trying to understand why all the opposition to the obvious facts of overshoot.

Because it is hard to reconcile hope with the facts. And in the face of what is ahead of us, some kind of hope for us, our loved ones, the well being of the planet, would be comforting for many of us.

I doubt there is anybody on this forum who does not understand the details of what is happening and what will most likely result.

But if they* can beat your reasoned arguments, or at least cast reasonable doubt, then perhaps there is some hope we can take comfort in.

Or maybe they/we are just argumentative types who know you will always bite! :)

(*I am not thinking of anybody in particular here - just the general opposition put forward each time this subject comes up).

But I'm not even saying we won't have a great drop in global population, nor that we're deep in overshoot and deep in trouble.. I said it a number of times up there.

The point is that we need to keep a sense of humility about what we do know, what we can know, and what we don't. Bluster and pointed defeatism in the face of this is irresponsible, unless your goal is to sit back on your porch and holler "I told you so!"

My band of brothers, we happy few.. and once more into the breach!

I am with you into that breach!

I know my efforts may not amount to anything, that I will likely be swept up by a great and terrible wave, but I'll be damned if I am not going to try to make a positive contribution.

I have a book somewhere around here where a mountaineer describes how he saw a massive avalanche coming towards him and 'knew' with 'complete certainty' at that moment that he was dead. He didn't even try to escape. He wrote that the one bit of relief he felt was seeing his climbing partner was in a far better position and scrambling away and would likely live.

He woke up somewhat bruised in a few feet of snow. His climbing partner died. I can't recall if his partner's body was ever found. Certainly certainty sometimes just aint so, and non-zero probabilities happen.

I'll be another one to support Ron here. I wish his arguments were completely wrong, but they are not. Every time I look to follow feedback loops to see how we can get out of our current mess of resource depletion, the answer leads to "not happening".

Ron is rather blunt in his assertions, yet people who wish to prove him wrong, do not seem to resort to numbers and examples, for the very reason that Ron is supported by the numbers. The cornucopian view of a way out, is always riddled with "we might" "we can" "we should" "we could", not solid numbers of "we are".

Globalization is currently equalising incomes between developed and developing countries, this trend involves both a rising living standard in the developing countries and a generally falling living standard in the developed countries. A likely consequence of resource depletion is a reversal of this trend, to the point that collapse happens in the developing countries as they are more resource constrained. The events in the MENA countries shows just how quickly collapse can happen. Die-off as such is likely to happen in the developing world first, especially as/when food resources become constrained.

For those who think the collapse argument is incorrect, could you please point me in the direction of some research that shows an example of a civilization that has depleted its resources that has had a gentle decline and not a collapse. I do not know of any examples.

Let me see if I get this deer/human analogy correct:

Lichens = very slow growing, initially ample but essentially finite food resource for reindeer
Reindeer introduction to island, lichens (human caused event, circa 1940)
No significant predators or other population growth controls
Result: rapid population growth, followed by overshoot, die off (starvation, disease).

Oil = very slow growing, initially ample but essentially finite food resource for humans (via industrialization)
Human oil discovery & exploitation (human caused event, circa 1850s)
No significant predators or other population growth controls
Result: rapid population growth, followed by overshoot, die off (starvation, disease).

St. Mathews Island (bounded by sea) = Earth (bounded by space)
Lichens = Oil
Introduction = Discovery
Reindeer = Humans

That's right, except that the limits represented by the lichen and island are more than oil and space--we are using up our 'sinks'--fouling our nest--at unprecedented rates, and using up many resources beyond oil.

On the ron/jok thing, it seems to me that they are mostly talking past each other--die offs happen and we are obviously not immune to them, but it is also true that most of natural life most of the time (at least among most larger creatures) is not a 'red in tooth and claw' scramble to eat or be eaten every minute.

Both are true and neither negates the other.

My daughter went on a missions trip to an empoverished area. The families were large, the lifestyle subsistence, and the crops variable. Certainly nourishment was an issue. Yet her most enduring take-away was "they had absolutely nothing, but the kids were happy". Even when food is uncertain, kids still play in their spare time. Many of the kids lived too far from school to commute daily, so they stayed the week. The school cost money, and if your family did not have cash the kid had extra chores at the school, on a sliding scale. Some would walk miles to school on Monday, and home on Friday, and do chores before school and after school, plus homework. Yet, they smiled and joked and laughed like any child.

She learned that a soccer ball (taken deflated in her suitcase) provided entertainment for the towns kids for days, replacing a threadbare old ball that had finally failed. Smaller balls and trinkers were prized too -- except the owners were afraid to bounce them, for fear that they would be lost or snatched by another youth. She came back with an almost empty suitcase, having given away almost all of her clothes to girls she met, who she said needed them more and like them more than she did.

I have no difficulty in seeing animals playing at one hour and killing or dying horrifically the next. Life is pretty variable and uncertain affair, after all.

This is what we generally don't see--desperately poor happy people.

On the one hand, it is important not to gloss over the very real, and largely unnecessary suffering of the desperately poor.

On the other hand, only concentrating on their suffering tends to reinforce our bias that only money provides happiness, which is patently not the case.

I know of a psychologist who came away with a similar startling impression after visiting very poor towns in Nicaragua--the kids, whom he thought would be riddled with the psychological traumas of poverty and war, were by and large quite as happy and well adjusted as American kids, if not more so.

Here, I think the transition town notion of multiple wealths--wealth not just measured in dollars, but in social life, love, chances to do good things for others, connections with nature...--is a good model to help us keep from over valuing high-cash communities and undervaluing low cash communities; and I think it can help us see what ways we may want to enrich our communities beyond jobs, jobs, jobs...

Your daughters heart is clearly in the right place.

A great blessing, indeed.

This whole thread would not have happened if people would just focus on the arguments and not what one thinks about the presenter or the presentation. We all are just pixels, so get over it. There may be holes in Ron's argument and as an intellectual process I keep attempting to find them. Thus far, I have been largely unsuccessful. The other day in our local discussion group, the leader said that we should just press on regardless, trying to do our little bit to mitigate the worst impacts of the future. Don't be attached to the outcome. Well, maybe so.

And this is the reason why I love the Oil Drum.

It was sad to see that this interpersonal drama erupted here, but I suppose even amongst the fine minds of TOD, human frailties and weaknesses will emerge and emotion will overcome our better natures. We are, after all, merely human.

Please, please, please, do not allow this kind of eruption to become the norm. It would be a great shame.

Please, please, please, do not allow this kind of eruption to become the norm.

I share your sentiment Wet One. But really, let us be honest here, it has never been the norm, just something that occasionally happens. And it will likely never become the norm, but it will very likely continue to happen. As long as we have people who, when they come across an argument that they severely dislike, find it much easier to attack the person making the argument rather than the argument itself, it will continue to happen.

Sorry about that.

Ron P.

It was sad to see that this interpersonal drama erupted here, but I suppose even amongst the fine minds of TOD, human frailties and weaknesses will emerge and emotion will overcome our better natures.

How cute and middle class ... I can almost hear my dear departed grandmother mouthing platitudes about "if you can't saying something nice about someone, then don't say anything at all". Since when have interpersonal drama and holding your point strongly been signs of "human frailties and weaknesses"?, for goodness sake.

Without passion, robustness, and a readiness to fight very hard for our interests (or even to simply win an argument), we wouldn't even be here!

"if you can't saying something nice about someone, then don't say anything at all".

Oh I like the other version much better:

If you can't say anything nice about anyone, then come sit here by me. ;-)

Ron P.

More and more threads are being ruined by his absurd proclamations that he's right and the other person is wrong. This is especially annoying when the other person actually knows what they are talking about, especially with regards to finance/economics, but also of course any other area outside of oil statistics.

While Ron and Bob may irritate each other and quibble about each others style and tone, at least they are both, rationally examining the facts and drawing conclusions based on an application of the scientific method. They both have my respect for that. Depending on my mood on any particular day I might side with one or the other.

Sorry, but unless we are talking biophysical economists, finance/economics, is about as far from reality as one can possibly get.

To be clear Ron's proclamations are far from absurd! I might also agree with Bob that saying we're F'ed even if true, probably isn't going to gain a whole lot of sympathy for any of us Cassandras!

Note: I find most financial and economic based arguments about solutions to our current dilemma to be beyond annoying...

Cheers, Fred. Well balanced.

We are F'd, but we're also not helpless.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep like Grampa.. not screaming in terror like his passengers.

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like Grampa.. not screaming in terror like his passengers."

I must be missing something--this makes it sound like your grandpa died peacefully in his sleep while piloting a full-to-capacity jumbo jet!

Say it ain't so, jo-kuhl.

The subtext for this subtle joke is that grandpa was driving his car...

Just desperately seeking a closer.

I still love that joke, even though it does describe my grandpa's death exactly. Fortunately though, his passenger survived.

I wish this comment hadn't been quite so personal, but all in all, I agree with it, and it applies beyond the personalities in the current brouhaha.

Sure, it's fun to watch the chest-beating, "I'm right, you're wrong" stuff, in the way that it's fun to watch your football team beat up on their arch rivals. Entertaining...but it's not terribly useful.

Studies show that the most accurate predictions are made by those who most doubt their own conclusions. If you think about it, the reason is obvious: if you're not open to the possibility that you might be wrong, you're blinding yourself to any evidence that does not support your view, and you are unable to correct your ideas to better fit reality.

And if we've learned anything over the past six years or so, it's that we all have good reason for being humble when it comes to predicting the effects of peak oil. Most of us did not expect BAU to be continuing three years after oil hit $150 a barrel. The high price of oil has not been as bad or as good as most of us expected. That is, civilization has not collapsed; most of us have not even been greatly inconvienced. Neither has the high price of gas led to the kind of surge in support for renewable energy that the more optimistic among us expected.

Instead, it's a complicated mix. There are signs of strain: recession, the debt problem. There's more interest in hybrid cars, but SUVs and trucks continue to be popular. Tea Parties, but no rioting in the streets.

Does this mean there's no problem? Not hardly. But it does suggest that things are not so simple and linear as we thought.

Studies show that the most accurate predictions are made by those who most doubt their own conclusions.


Do you have links to these?

I wish there were an /ignore button I could use so I didnt' have to see his postings,

There is. It's called todban.

The difference in rats and humans is that, after the overshoot-dieoff cycle, the rats leave the soil much improved from their waste, decomposed bodies and burrows/nests. Then the cycle repeats.

What will we humans leave behind for the next cycle?

Lots of boxed sets of the Eagles Greatest Hits Live.

What will we humans leave behind for the next cycle?

Pyramids. Perhaps the Great Wall for a while as well.

Don't forget the F-35: http://www.jsf.mil/ Lots of concrete filled holes to former oil wells...heaps of trash...some long-lived radioactive waste. Maybe we leave a few species to survive us.

Massive waste dumps !

And some tunnels are likely to remain, at least in part, for a very long time.

Hoover Dam is just such a massive monolith of concrete, it is hard to see how it could disappear (although water may erode part of it away).

Someone in the future will notice that something happened in northern Alberta, and strip coal mines.

Some surface mines will not fill up quickly.



Best "Hopes" ?!? for a lasting human legacy,


Hoover Dam is just such a massive monolith of concrete, it is hard to see how it could disappear

Back when we had profiles I had a link to someone's self published book on Roman Concrete.

One of the points in there was the Romans made the 'crete "stiff" while the modern man uses far more water so it can be poured and so it flows 'round the re-bars. The stiffness helps its lifespan. Hoover's livespan may be shorter because of the build process.

And in geological terms - Hoover is toast. But so is most of what Man has done.

And when Hoover fails some may die. Property will be destroyed. But after the water passes Man can return to the area and rebuild/use the land. Unlike Chernoybl/Fukishima.

Of course, not all dams are created equal, or so it would seem....

NB Power officials say Mactaquac dam is safe

The New Brunswick government is urging people not to panic about the condition of the aging Mactaquac dam, despite the fact that the prospect of a costly overhaul helped sink the energy deal with Hydro-Québec.


Graham said Quebec officials were concerned about future costs and risks associated with running, maintaining, refurbishing and perhaps replacing the dam, which dates from the mid-1960s.

The concrete in some of the dam structures is expanding and cracking and eventually will force either its closure or its replacement with a new powerhouse and spillways.


NB Power spends at least $6 million a year nursing the Mactaquac dam through its chronic affliction with what is called "alkali aggregate reactivity-" a corrosive chemical reaction between the concrete's cement and other materials. The utility has spent at least $60 million on repairs since the problem was uncovered in the 1980s.

Source: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/1001986


I've seen a similar video about farmers in other places overrun by mice. At the end of the cycle, the mice become cannibalistic. It's hard for most people to imagine so many mice that every step crushes one, and they get into everything including cars, cabinets, fridges, and many other locations that seem mouse-protected.

The nice thing about such plagues is that rats and mice evoke a visceral response, and really garner attention. It's still not easy to get people to understand that we're the rats, though.

Ron - When is the next rat invasion expected?

This happened in 2007. So in this area of India it should happen again in about 2055.

Ron P.

It 'used to be' a serious matter, I come from the same place where this happens, it's quite literally described in local legends with all accompanying doomsday scenarios. It also set off one of the worst insurgencies in India when the local crops in one of India's most inaccessible regions failed and the Central Govt failed to provide quick relief, of course that was in 1959 when the rest of India couldn't feed itself and roads were non-existent.

Things have changed now, there is surplus production and grains are mostly imported into that region. Road network has also vastly improved, it still causes small amount of misery but nothing apocalyptic. But then that's assuming that BAU continues till 2055, which will definitely not be the case.

The Side Bet

This discussion reminds me of an excellent short story called "The Side Bet" by Will Jenkins, which I read 35 years ago (and have been searching for a copy of ever since).

Here is a plot summary found on the internet:

The central conflict in the story “Side Bet’ concerns the struggle for survival between a man and a rat shipwrecked on a rocky island, lacking both vegetation and water. Thrown upon the barren island in a storm, the man manages to rescue from the wreckage of the ship only a keg of water and a canvas bag filled with twenty-two biscuits.

The conflict between the two adversaries begins when the man finds a hole gnawed in the canvas bag and realizes a rat has eaten part of his precious food stores. The man tries to outwit the rat by tying the bag of biscuits to a stick, but the rat proves his cunning by first chewing through the rope attached to the bag to get to the food and later dragging the bag away from the man in an attempt to hide the
food himself. The man develops an intense hatred for the rat, but also respects his resourcefulness. He realizes that he must kill the rat and eat him. By doing so he will prevent the loss of any more biscuits and increase his life for days.

The man comes to see the conflict between he and the rat as a game; with the victor winning the “side bet” of life. In playing this game the man becomes obsessed with thinking of how to capture the rat. He makes a bow and arrow, but is so weak from starvation that when he shoots the rat, the arrow merely bounces off. After finishing the last of the food, the man concedes that he has lost the bet, and will die. He uses the last of his effort to make a fire to repel the rat, who eagerly waits for the man’s death so he can feed on his body.

At the climax of the story the man’s life is saved when a passing ship sees the man’s fire and comes to rescue him. During the falling action the man decides to honour his bet to the rat, who without the ship’s intervention would have been the last survivor. The man pays the ship’s crew to leave fifty kilograms of biscuits for the rat.
At the conclusion of the story the man sails away reassured by the thought that he paid the side bet.

wiseindian: I was wondering if this is a natural cycle, it may have some ecosystem benefits. Perhaps ones that aren't obvious, but the absense of the cycle might build up long term problems, -or at least change the way nature works. If thats the case, then perhaps living with it is better than finding some way to suppress it. Of course that means probably predicting it, and having a plan to feed the people during the plague year, and whatever public health measures that might be needed. Do you have any ideas on how this might work.

The show suggests reasonable mitigation strategies. You can either reduce the exponential growth rate of the rats such that they cannot out-eat the food supply so quickly, or mature and harvest the rice earlier before the bamboo fruit runs out.

The bamboo apparently has a well-honed survival mechanism whereby all trees fruit simultaneously, so that no consumer can possible eat all the fruit. In turn, certain rats have a hyperactive breeding cycle to maximize their ability to consume the windfall. This boom-and-bust cycle is a common predator-prey pattern, but long in duration and severe in magnitude. It only matters to humans because once the rats out-eat the bamboo forest, there are a gazillion hungry adolescent rats who go looking for food, and find the farmers fields.

If the rats did not breed so quickly, then there would be fewer, fatter rats once the fruit fell and rotted or sprouted later in the year. If there was a little more fruit, the rice would mature before the rats came calling. The catastrophe is a matter of timing.

Planting a fast-maturing rice variant would perhaps mean a lower harvest, but with little lost to rats. The rats would swarm over harvested fields, and then starve.

nobody ever heard of Warfarin?

Yes, my mom takes a daily dose (she's 80).
And about every 3-4 years we get rats in the barn and they get to indulge.
It's highly effective for both (the rats and people with blood issues).

Methinks the answer to this is "Bamboo Fruit Pie".

it may have some ecosystem benefits. Perhaps ones that aren't obvious, but the absense of the cycle might build up long term problems

There are still rats, and there is still bamboo.

Ecology is incredibly complex and operates over vast time scales. The idea that we can and should completely understand what's going on is absurd.

Yes, I am an ecologist.

The interesting thing about this system is that the rice farms are the new variable. Funny how Nature has ways of making herself known to human activity.

For all we know the rats and Bamboo are in a symbiotic rhythm of fertility and fertilizer. After a lot of rat and bamboo sex, we get a lot of rat fertilizer. Maybe the rats cull other competing plant species so nutrients can be redistributed to the surviving bamboo. Very complex system indeed.

Excellent comments! Imagine that - the world was not designed for the convenience and comfort of H. "sapiens". :-)

It is also noteworthy that that particular rat species ordinarily makes up only 10% of the rats. Their claim to fame is their ability to procreate, which vaults them into first place for a time. Somehow the other rats manage to stage a comeback in the intervening years -- apparently they have another mechanism that is better without bamboo fruit.

If nothing else, the rats cull out people, who slash and burn bamboo. :)

Thats the sort of thing I was wondering might be happening. Of course India in general has been densely populated for several hundred years, so I think it highly likely that the bamboo forest may not be a "natural" equilibrium. But it does remind of some other human short-term thinking leading to ecological folly. Consider forest, and fire suppression. To the short term thinker, stopping all fires seems like a good thing to do. But, we've learned that the ecosystem evolved with fire, and without it, it will probably change to soemthing else. Also western forests and wolves. It was discovered only recently that wolves are essential to the regeneration of aspen groves. Without wolves, the deer are embolden to eat/kill the younf aspen, and they don't make it to maturity. With wolves around the clearings where they grow are too dangerous for the deer to spend much time there, and the juvenile trees survive. I also know that most landowners have a war against gophers. But, aside from eating from below some of your favorite plants, they serve to aerate the soil and prevent soil compaction. So what will happen to the soil structure if you keep all of them varmit gophers away?

I wonder what the event was like before the area became infested. Infested with H. Sap.. Did the rat explosion explode so hard? Was there a predator or dozen that thrived on the rats but has been cleared out by the infester? I wonder how things were just a few thousand years ago.


Was there a predator or dozen that thrived on the rats but has been cleared out by the infester?

No, this is one thing we cannot blame on Homo sapiens. The rat population only explodes once every 48 years. If there was a rat predator then how would it survive during the intervening 47 years. A few thousand years ago things were about the same except there were no rice fields for the rats to expand into when the bamboo fruit was all consumed.

Ron P.

The rat has a very short breeding cycle, predators likely much longer so the predator probably wouldn't be able to keep up. Still, it would make an interesting mopping up operation. If the predator was around all the time then the initial rat population would be smaller. Less human grown crops to support the rats between fecundities. Hmm, these things get complicated. No wonder we make such a mess when we try and fiddle with these things, so many feed back/forward loops.


Predator - prey relationships have been well studied in both biology and mathematical fields. In an idealised one predator species - one prey species model, you get sinusoidal fluctuations in populations of both, with prey always peaking before predators. The time period is related to breeding cycles of both animals.

The most well know example of this is the Canadian Lynx and the Snowshoe Hare - you can get an idea of how they co-exist by looking at this photo of my pet cat playing with my pet bunny;

The Hudsons Bay Company kept records of lynx and hare catches (they trapped both for furs) for almost a century, and these are a proxy for population numbers of both - there is quite a relationship between the two;

The population of the predators typically keeps increasing even though the prey has peaked, but both end up in rapid decline - a Prey Land Model?

The pictures, and a good description of the model, from here;

Perhaps a human/economic equivalent would be bankers and the general population, and the wealth patterns of each. Bailouts, of course, are outside the normal parameters of the model, or nature...

It looks like the fur harvest was sustainable.

Sure, because the slump years would drive most of the traders out of business. Probably you could overlay "trappers" on the graph and have another slightly lagging cycle.

We could also overlay the prices for the fur pelts.

I suspect that as the catch/population was declining, prices were rising. So even though net exports of furs were in decline, the trappers income for the immediate post-peak might be steady or even rising. But at some point the decline in volume would be such that the income declines too.

Of course, the Hudson's Bay Co controlled the supply of pelts, and was effectively a cartel, so perhaps during high production they withheld some pelts from market, and then released them from their "spare capacity" during the troughs.

So the "traders" , being the H.B. Co. didn't go out of business, but I'll bet some of their "contractors" sure did. There was probably even someone back in the day called "PELTMAN" who was a good source of all the stories of boom and bust times in the furpatch!

Apparently they even tried "offshore: fur production (small coastal/lake islands) but, like the modern counterpart, found the decline rates very fast, and recovery rates very slow, or never.

Where did I learn this kind of thinking from?

It seems that this is one of those things the textbooks got wrong.

A re-analysis of the data showed that the hares were the predator and the prey was the grass they ate. The lynx were just along for the ride.

(J. Murray, Mathematical Biology, 1990, Springer-Verlag; E. Renshaw, Modelling biological populations in space and time, 1991, Cambridge University Press.)

Edit: this demonstrates sgage's point that ecologies are complicated, even stripped-down ones as found in the Arctic, and any simple analysis is likely to be wrong. But it also shows that scientific techniques of analysis are useful even though their early applications were faulty.

It would be interesting to have a time machine, and go forward about one million years (or maybe ten million).

It then would be curious to see at longer time scales, if the bamboo/rats and humans/fuel had the same ebb and flow.

Was there a predator or dozen that thrived on the rats but has been cleared out by the infester?

Hmm, I'm thinking lottsa very large and very venomous King Cobras, probably still preferable to infestations of H. Sapiens ... >;^)

Yes it's a natural cycle, in fact all disasters are natural cycles and we should not interfere with their workings. Our efforts should be to let people acclimatize in the face of such adversities and minimize human loss and misery, that is true progress, diverting rivers and building dams to prevent floods is not progress IMO.

But it is indeed a surprise how the world works, who could possibly link bamboo flowering to a famine and worse a rebellion lasting 15-20 years against the state which eventually killed more people than the famine.

And yet understanding is everything. "Who could possibly link" sounds a lot like "nobody could have predicted" -- in truth, many people could, and some probably did. The rat famine was only difficult to conquer because it happens only about once per lifetime -- not even every generation -- and in the end it was straightforward for a single sharp researcher and a bunch of helpers to characterize.

And the results are clearly actionable by those affected. That is what good science is all about.

All of this represents interlocking feedback loops, with varying time constants. I figure the industrial revolution and green revolutions introduced a big shock to the human dynamic, and that cycle has yet to complete. It is more likely that we're in the final waves of overpopulation than that we've somehow managed to create a new sustainable population level; in rat terms, this is the bamboo fruit year of easy reproduction, not the 47 intervening years of harsh survival.

"Who could possibly link" sounds a lot like "nobody could have predicted" -- in truth, many people could, and some probably did. The rat famine was only difficult to conquer because it happens only about once per lifetime -- not even every generation -- and in the end it was straightforward for a single sharp researcher and a bunch of helpers to characterize

I was merely wondering about domino dynamics. The local people knew about the famine, that much I can assure you, it's another thing that they are so poor that they couldn't take action at that time. Tell me this, if you are living hand to mouth, would you have surplus to weather a situation like this ?
As for the Govt I am beginning to think that one trait ties all Governments, they don't care about the minorities. Esp democratic Governments. I am reminded of Katrina and FEMA.

It is more likely that we're in the final waves of overpopulation than that we've somehow managed to create a new sustainable population level; in rat terms, this is the bamboo fruit year of easy reproduction, not the 47 intervening years of harsh survival

Totally agree, this exponential growth is unsustainable. Period

wi - Very sad indeed. Great regrets for your people. But you make a point that weighs heavily with me. The loss of economy etc as we roll down the PO path is one thing. But how societies/govts react worries me as much or more than the numbers. Folks have varying views but I consider the US activities in the ME nothing more than a precursor to more intense activity as the energy crisis becomes truly serious...just as the starvation in your country led to such an escalation of violence. Lots of folks have difficulty believing our "civilzed" developed nations could sin that low. But most of those folks don't see the current trade in the blood of our military for oil. Given how we turned a blind eye to the deaths of millions of innocents in Africa it's difficult for me to accept we're involved so deeply in the ME "to bring stability" for humanitarian reasons.

But opinions vary.

But most of those folks don't see the current trade in the blood of our military for oil.

How common is this point of view in Texas? I agree completely.

ed - I don't hear much along those lines here. Partly because I think some folks who agree are too ashamed to say it out loud. Texas has always been a very strong supporter of the military. Difficult to reject their activities without appearing to reject them. Or even just admitting their are sacrifices are being wasted on a wrong cause.

And then there are those folks who will accept the military's efforts for their own selfish reasons. I've known more than one person who wrapped themselves in the flag as cover for their selfishness. In my youth I had a rather violent temper but in time got control of it. So sometimes all I can is walk away from some conversations. Otherwise....

Rock on Rockman,
but then I am certain you know that ethics and politics are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Money and oil are power, these are what concentrate the minds of our politicians. It always has been always will be. Kuwait and KSA were rich enough to buy a mercenary army, while the Rwandans were chopping each other into pieces in which I presume was a rehearsal for there practical butchery exam at there local community college. As you know I am a bit of a history buff the only time that I can think of when ethics won over politics was in the Abyssinian war of 1879 when a British army consisting of elephants camels mule trains Bengal lancers Scottish kilted regiments and a few despised redcoats, marched into the heart of Africa to rescue a few Christian missionaries who had got themselves thrown into prison. Being someone, to put it mildly, who lacks faith, I have never really understood what drives people to spend there time money lives and effort trying to convert a people from one set of superstitions to another set of superstitions, seems rather pointless to me, bit like voting for a presidential candidate that wears magical underwear. Cost us Brits 9 million pounds, not much you might say but when a decent battleship cost about 40,000 pounds at the time, a bloody fortune.

What did catch my eye was this that you wrote

Lots of folks have difficulty believing our "civilzed" developed nations could sin that low

I presume you meant sink and not sin, I love a puzzle, was it a spelling mistake or a Freudian slip? Always enjoy your comments



yorkie - Yep..a typo but I liked the accident after I saw it. Raised Roman Catholic I was taught about mortal and venial sins. IOW sometimes being a little immoral isn't that bad and doesn't require as much penance. So accidentally killing some civilians in Libya is a small sin since we're only there to bring them democracy. Thus just a little forgivable sin. But being there to secure oil for the consumer economies...well that would just be very wrong and should buy us a spot in hell.

BTW: I'm not a catholic now...they beat that out of me long ago. LOL.

Rockman - I was just reading Niall Ferguson's book "EMPIRE - The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power". It has a wonderful lot of historical tidbits in it that I didn't learn in school history, such as that William Penn's father, William Penn, Sr. was the British Admiral who captured Jamaica for the Empire. Junior was given the grant to Pennsylvania because the King owed Senior a debt of 16,000 pounds.

Another quote:

From 1764 until 1779, the parish of St Peter's and St Paul's in Olney, Northamptonshire, was in the care of John Newton, a devout clergyman and composer of one of the world's best-loved hymns. Most of us at one time or another have heard or sung 'Amazing Grace'. What is less well known is the fact that for six years its composer was a successful slave trader, shipping hundreds of Africans across the Atlantic from Sierra Leone to the Caribbean.

'Amazing Grace' is the supreme hymn of Evangelical redemption: 'Amazing Grace how sweet the sound / That saved a wretch like me! / I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind but now I see.' It is therefore tempting to imagine Newton suddenly seeing the light about slavery and turning away from his wicked profession to dedicate himself to God. But the timing of Newton's conversion is all wrong. In fact, it was after his religious awakening that Newton became the first mate and then the captain of a succession of slave ships, and only much later that he began to question the morality of buying and selling his fellow men and women.

A certain moral blindness sets in when there is money to be made. "The love of money is the root of all evil."

Merrill - I knew a little bit of that story but again thanks for filling in the blanks. Yep...money can be a great motivator. But even then I think it takes a self-directed mindset to allow such actions. It reminds me a chat I had with a coworker many decades ago. He couldnt understand why "Mad Dog" had such a bad attitude about Asians. MD was a Viet Nam vet. I had to explain what I thought should be obvious: for most of us it isn't a natural inclination to kill someone you don't even know. So when you train a man to go into combat you need to get that mindset working. Naturally once you're in the sh*t and seeing friends dying it gets easier. But initially you have to mentally devalue those lives you will have to take. Somewhere along the way folks like Mr. Newton had to devalue the lives of the slaves. One might think that wouldn't be easier for a man of the cloth.

But isn't that part human nature also. Liberals devalue Tea Partiers, conservatives devalue welfare moms, everyone devalues petroleum geologist, etc, etc. Always easier to motivate yourself against someone else's interest once you prove they are "evil".

Rock - I have come to (I thought) both an acceptance of the general humanity of almost everyone and a realization that all I could do, with great luck and effort, is "make a bad situation just a little bit better".

Then I saw a "justification" of the Norwegian shooter on a Tea Party-Glenn Beck site as fighting against "Eurabia". A brief pro forma "we really should not be shooting teenagers".

I just about lost it !

But the rain falls on the just and unjust alike.

Best Hopes for Humanity through it all,


Alan - So true: trying to rationalize insanity will drive you crazy. I forget who I stolen that from...maybe G. Carlin...sounds a bit like him.

Given how we turned a blind eye to the deaths of millions of innocents in Africa it's difficult for me to accept we're involved so deeply in the ME "to bring stability" for humanitarian reasons.

I beg to differ. Developed nations have been sending aid to Africa for decades. It came up on a Oildrum campfire in the last week or two just how much the drought in Ethiopia in the 1980s affected the perceptions of everyday people. There was all sorts of awareness and action. Same story in the 1990s with Somalia, etc. etc. So, whats the end result of all the food and monetary aid over the last decades?

World Population to Reach 7 Billion Straining Developing Regions

The Population of Ethiopia has doubled since the catastrophic famine in the 1980s, and the population of Africa as a continent is expected to double from todays 1 Billion to over 2 Billion in the next 40 years (assuming BAU of course).

So, to all who like to claim that the west is callous towards the plight of Africa, how exactly do you expect to feed this extra Billion if the Billion that already live in Africa is currently unable to support itself? What do you expect will happen to people when the consequences of Peak Oil really start affecting life? Dieoff is not going to be pleasant, the current situation in Africa is merely the faintest hint of the nightmare that is most likely in store for the world as a whole. The scary thing is that the population in Africa is still exploding in spite of these devestating famines and lack of resources. If the west has a callous attitude, maybe it is because the reality of the future is so bleak...

Rune - You make some valid points. Being a geologist I've studied the die off history of hundreds of species. But to be brutally blunt I don't think hacking a 5 yo child to death with a machete should be called "die off". In my book it's still genocide. Might have some economic forces behind it but that's not my point. Just standing by and watching your neighbor's child be murdered and then sending a contribution for the funeral fund wouldn't be considered humanitarian aid in my book.

But opinions will vary.

What usually happens when you have over population is that the population expands outwards into the surrounding area. This has started already with Africa. Since the trouble in Libya and Tripoli who used to patrol the European Southern boarder thanks to generous grants from the Italians, they didn't call them that they were referred too a development aid or other such Euphemisms a bribe with another name. They have been streaming across the Mediterranean into Italy something in the region of 60,000 in the last 6 months, mainly young testosterone driven males. The Italians can't kick them out because of the European rights legislation. They have to process them and as they have got no where to house them even a small stipend of 100 Euros a week to help them feed themselves would cost the Italian tax payer for this small number over 300,000,000 Euros a year. What do they do they let them out on the streets, with the following results. Please enjoy.


This is just the beginning. Not having any income or a means to make a living as they will have flooded the local job market they will start robbing stealing it will eventually come too murder hopefully it wont be one of the local Mafia's family. There will be a local backlash and if the immigrant flow cannot be stopped and why should it as there is plenty of population pressure driving it outwards it will end up in low intensity warfare. They are not really driven by hunger yet but when they begin to starve things could get really critical. I not really thinking Europe at the moment but it certainly could be a problem for Israel and world peace if millions of starving Egyptians started to move up through the Sinai Muslims have a wonderful ability to blame others for there problems and who better than the Jews. European Population pressure was one of the main driving forces of American expansion during the 19th century and early 20th century. It was another thing to drive into an empty continent it is going to be another to invade another Europe whose people have a well known propensity for violence. We live in interesting times.



Yay, seven billion is so much fun...lets make it 9 or 10 shall we?

Of course, overpopulation is a problem--and as I have said many times, MENA, and East Africa and South Asia look to be the cutting edge of impossible population situations in the present and near future.

But our one medium sized city, Minneapolis, MN, has managed to absorb tens of thousands of East Africans, with little problem. If one city can do this with little difficulty, I would think that the entire European Union (or any of its sub-nations) would be able to handle many orders of magnitude larger populations without much problem, that is if they are not utterly racist, violent #ssh@les...

And of course the locals fight back:


ATHENS, Greece — They descended by the hundreds -- black-shirted, bat-wielding youths chasing down dark-skinned immigrants through the streets of Athens and beating them senseless

I suspect a lot of situations like this to arise, when one group of men without prospects runs into another head-long. Which is why it is high time to get settled in where you want to remain.

Why doesn't Italy buy them a one-way ticket to Germany or France? If the EU says they can't be expelled, sure they'd all be willing to take their share?

Somehow reminds me of DC suing AL and AZ for immigration laws -- AZ should offer $100 and a free bus ticket to DC to any illegal picked up.

Not quite.. they belong to the local Greece neo nazi movement. while they have become more popular in that they actually have a seat or two in their parliament, they are a very small minority.

It may have been that very show, where I learned this, but chickens are native to that area as well, and may be such good egg layers because the regular overshoot pressure selects for fecundity.

Trying to guess which environments will select for which traits seems almost impossible except after the fact. What a mystery the existence of some traits are. I wonder if any of us know what sort of place would suit them best.

Dawkins is one of those over educated Disney view of the world folks.

I would ask why don't the villagers 1) harvest the fruit making some use of it and denying it to the rats 2) kill the rats good fertilizer 3) import some rating eating animals say dogs 4) burn down the bamboo every 20 years etc.....

1) Probably too much to harvest, given human populations scaled for ordinary years, same as the rats. Only the rats have a much faster reproduction cycle.
2) How? Who pays? What side-effect?
3) Who will feed the dogs the other 47 years?
4) Burning it down on the flowering year might help, but the bamboo will strive to send up a stalk just to fruit again -- it needs to to survive. If you succeed with fire, there is no more forest. Does that really help?

Probably some fraction of all the above would help, but the key from the video is to plant rice that matures before the bamboo fruit runs out. If the harvest of rice happens before the rats swarm out, the people survive.

1) Probably not too much to harvest. That leaves us both with not facts to argue this point
2) Hit on head with stick. No pay. Do it to save your life, farmers and farm family.
3) Shot dogs after they have done the job. Get new dogs in 45 years.
4) Does it really help. I pick burning the forest over starving to death.

Fatalism is not the American way. What religion are the villagers and does it promote fatalism? Maybe the problem is cultural. Humans rats versus animal rats.

3) Shot dogs after they have done the job.

... compost same.

If the rats come like plagues I've seen, there is absolutely no way to kill them all by hand. We're talking 10's of thousands running along in a continuous torrent, at night, from thousands of acres of bamboo.

I don't think it's that the locals weren't willing to act, but that for any given field it would be fine one day, and completely gone the next. Once the rats are coming, it's too late. The key was to know that in 30 months, give or take, a plague would be at hand, and then study the rats to know the population spikes and know to within a week or so when it would hit. With info like that, you can take action and survive.

I think that individually we slash and burn for our personal benefit, but for society's loss. We need to do better than "tragedy of the commmons" if we are to do better than the rats.

One would need to start ahead of the rush. Not to hard to take a walk to see the number of rats. Over one year a village of 1000 (?) people could kill how many rats (?) on a part time basis keeping in mind their lifes depends on it.

I do like the Warfarin suggestion. Rat poison. If the humans use their brains they can defeat some rats.

You really don't know what you're talking about, do you?

I would shut up if I were you, Ed.

There are, almost certainly, several tens of millions of people in India smarter than you. If you have a "simple answer", then you don't understand what you're talking about. End of story.

Why do they not use rat poison? Is it because they can not afford it?

From the vast numbers of rats involved, I would suspect that poisons would have to be used in such massive quantities that there would likely be some negative environmental side effects. Maybe poisoning the land you are growing crops on is not a good idea.

Antoinetta III

Yes, better bio-remediation by using dogs to kill the rats.

Sure - just do like they did in Hawaii - bring in the mongoose to kill the rats, but misunderstood that the mongoose wasn't active when the rats were, so the mongoose eat the eggs of the ground dwelling Nene goose, and drive them to extinction.

Plenty of bioremediation ways to screw up the environment!!!

Why do they not

Very good! Asking questions instead. I like that.

5) Human self-population control to long term sustainable levels. (Taboo choice, of course.)

- or -
More likely 5) We discuss/vent on TOD, and things continue as BAU with FF till they no longer can continue.

The second choice seems certain to me.

But there are many interesting details that we can discuss. For example it will be interesting to watch the demographic changes in the world as the low reproduction rate groups decline in numbers and the high reproduction groups increase in numbers.

This is why when i watch sci-fi/horro i cheer for the bad guy. :P

I have no idea what a "Disney view of world" is. I also don't know how to tell when a person is over educated, but from your list of "solutions" I would guess that would be anyone who got beyond the 8th grade.

Ron P.

The Disney view of the world is if we all just knew each other we would all live in peace and harmony. Completely ignoring cultural differences like honor killings, genital mutilation (male and female), etc.

Disney view meat is something that comes between to buns no factory farms exist in the Disney world.

Disney world native America woman falls in love with European invader there is no murder of 98 million natives, no diseased blankets, no scalping of natives by Europeans, etc...

Disney world the people in DC care about us and love us and are doing the best for us.

Disney world as soon as the Arabs learn about porn, usury, and alcoholism they will be happier and thank us.

Wow! So that is what a Disney world view is. However you should have read at least two pages of from one of Dawkins' many books before saying something so very silly about his. Dawkins is a Brit with a PhD in Zoology from Oxford. He doesn't write about Arabs, alcoholism, porn, usury, DC, or American history. You obviously don't know beans about Richard Dawkins. Dawkins and Disney are about as different as two people can possibly be.

The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins
When zoologist Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene was published 20 years ago, it practically snuffed out many readers' belief in God and in their own importance, for it described in stunning and terrifying detail a world where all life was merely the conveyor belt for the gene. Its mission: to replicate itself. DNA was the fundamental and irreducible unit of life that spun itself endlessly into the incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Everything we hold most dear--acts of love, altruism, the painterly beauty of the peacock's tail, the birth of a newborn--could, according to Dawkins, be explained by the gene's attempt to survive, and to hitch a ride on the fittest organism possible, the one most likely to mate and reproduce. Darwinian natural selection was Dawkins' ruling theme. The gene looked like the most purely selfish entity one could imagine, but it was more like the Terminator--just programmed to survive.

Ron P.

Intellectual nihilist then?

The best scientist writer of the last fifty years.

Re: Nearly 1,000 cab drivers in China protest, urging government to hike fares amid fuel spike

Out of curiosity, does anyone know what the Chinese pay for fuel at the pump? Is the price subsidized or is there a gas tax like that in the Europe or the US?

E. Swanson

Gasoline prices in China were slightly higher than in the US on March 31 of this year. But they have recently been raised in China so they are even higher now.

Gas prices in China surpass US: Shanghai daily

The Shanghai-based First Financial Daily said that premium gasoline sells for 8.3 yuan per liter (US$1.26) in the US states of California, Hawaii and Alaska compared with 8.44 yuan (US$1.29) per liter in China.

In midwest states such as Kansas and Colorado, the price is about 5.3 yuan (US$0.81) per liter compared with 6.65 yuan (US$1.01) per liter in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Hunan and Jiangsu.

Ron P.

Ron - completely off topic:
I think your computer has a virus. I just got an email with a viagra link from you..


Bingo! I haf Ze Final Solution! Mix all Viagra with new instant acting male contraceptive! Give it away for free!!!

E. Swanson

Check the sender IP address in the message header. If it's somewhere like (typically) China and sent through the genuine gmail (or whatever) then Ron likely needs to change all his passwords and the PC may be clean. If it's an IP address in Florida (believe that's where Ron says he is) then the PC needs checked immediately.

the IP is
how do I find out where it originates?


That shows up as Sunnyvale, California on the sites I've checked -for example http://www.iplocation.net/index.php and appears to belong to a Yahoo mailserver. There should be an IP address before this in the headers (ie further down the headers).

I also meant to add the following to my post

It could also just be an old-fashioned spam using harvested email addresses at random in the from field and then sent through random mail servers - in which case there is nothing to worry about (and you just received it at random) other then annoyance. However spammers prefer to have your password these days so they can send it via genuine major mail systems to avoid spam filters. My father's hotmail was recently compromised this way. Probably after he logged on through a wi-fi hotspot on holiday.

The complete message headers would tell if it passed through the genuine mail servers. Also if Ron has the messages in his sent email folder then they have his password. If multiple people on Ron's contact list have received this message then it is almost certain that his password is compromised and possibly (but not necessarily probably) the computer.

There were a number of other TOD contributors as recipients on the email.
I don't want to post the header (which includes those email addys) here obviously. I guess Ron should change his password(s).


Yes - at once. Also if they have your email password they can use it to reset passwords to other services using that email address even if the passwords are different (by using "forgot password").

As the IP address translates to nm2.bullet.mail.ne1.yahoo.com I am not surprised that Project Honeypot identifies it as behaving like a mailserver :-) I think the Kansas location is mistaken.

A handy site for your toolbox

Yep, spammers mix and match names, email addresses, IPs etc as well as using them straight, the goal is for you to open what they send you, attachment or web site. Scanning the machine for viruses and trojans is a must.


Humans get HIV "Human immunodeficiency virus" it might be the compute equivalent CIV "Computer immunodeficiency virus". Here is far to few women are you sure it is not an invitation?

It's probably not Ron's PC. A virus may have infected - and scanned for addresses - some computer which has Ron's email address on it. Reaped addresses are then used randomly as (faked) From: addresses as the virus propagates, tempting recipients to open and respond to the (faked) messages. At least that's how it was working before I left showbiz a few years ago.

The fact that the To: field apparently contains names of other TODers likely from Ron's address book, suggests this is not a simple case of Ron's email address having been harvested elsewhere.

Agreed. And IME, this has been an increased problem recently. It's not just spoofed headers. They're gaining access to e-mail contact lists (making it more likely you'll open the message, since it seems to be coming from someone you know).

I have had good virus removal successes with http://www.clamwin.com/ (M$ systems) and http://www.clamav.net/lang/en/ (*NIX systems)

Best of luck!

Dog - Here's the latest I know of: http://www.chinasignpost.com/2011/02/chinese-now-pay-33-more-for-gasolin... More than $4/gallon

Far too cheap.

re: China’s move on oil sands is about more than money

China continues its stealth-mode takeover of the Canadian Oil Sands. The US government continues in snooze mode as its leaders are preoccupied with a completely artificial debt ceiling. The Canadian government maintains its "You snooze, you lose" attitude.

China will probably pay for the $4.6 billion share of Syncrude with some of the $2 trillion in US government debt it owns. This will entitle it to 9% of the high quality synthetic crude oil produced by Syncrude. One would assume that the Chinese have other ideas what to do with rather than send it to the US.

The Canadian government will review it and probably approve it. As long as the Chinese continue to take minority positions in companies, the Canadian government won't get unduly alarmed, and the Chinese are quietly feeling their way along, trying to determine at what level the alarm bells go off. Canadians are somewhat ambivalent on the subject, they don't view foreign ownership by Chinese as much different from foreign ownership by Americans.

I agree, RMG

But I am puzzled as to why the Globe article (now 16 months old) was posted here today. Its central points are still relevant, but I'm curious about the timing (have I missed something).

Yes, I am confused why it is here, too. I didn't read the publication date and just assumed it was current, rather than something from April, 2010.

A more recent move by China indicating they are still moving on the oil sands front would be:

China buys another piece of the oil patch

July 20, 2011

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the smallest of the country’s three state-owned energy outfits, has agreed to a $2.1-billion (U.S.) deal to buy OPTI Canada Inc., a struggling oil sands company with unique technology for extracting and processing bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands....

The deal provides OPTI partner Nexen Inc. with a powerful new ally in its troubled Long Lake oil sands project, while handing CNOOC not only another slice of the world’s second-largest oil reserves, but also the chance to learn about a new method of bitumen production.

Wow, wealthy capitalists using their money to gain control of the worlds resources. What next? More of the same?

No, not wealthy capitalists, but wealthy communists. CNOOC is a Chinese state-owned oil company.

"We do not care what color the cat is as long as it catches mice."

Call it whatever you want. It does not matter what you call it as long as it works.

Or, funny how wealthy capitalist holders of capital look a lot like wealthy communist holders of capital. ;)

Sorry. Every once in awhile Google News features "news" stories that are weeks, months, even years old. I try to check the date before I include the link, but some slip through.

Data Centers’ Power Use Less Than Was Expected

SAN FRANCISCO — Data centers’ unquenchable thirst for electricity has been slaked by the global recession and by a combination of new power-saving technologies, according to an independent report on data center power use from 2005 to 2010.

The report, by Jonathan G. Koomey, a consulting professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Stanford University, found that the actual number of computer servers declined significantly compared to 2010 forecasts because of this lowered demand for computing and because of the financial crisis of 2008 and the emergence of technologies like more efficient computer chips and computer server virtualization, which allows fewer servers to run more programs.

The slowing of growth in consumption contradicts a 2007 forecast by the Environmental Protection Agency that the explosive expansion of the Internet and the computerization of society would lead to a doubling of power consumed by data centers from 2005 to 2010. In the new study, prepared at the request of The New York Times, Mr. Koomey found that electricity used by data centers worldwide grew significantly, but it was an increase of only about 56 percent from 2005 to 2010. In the United States, power consumption increased by 36 percent, according to Mr. Koomey’s report, titled “Growth in Data Center Power Use 2005 to 2010.”

It would be interesting to get data on whether the transition from PCs to laptops to pad/smartphone client devices is reducing power consumed by end users. Businesses seem to be transitioning to smaller, lower power desktops and laptops, while many consumers use smartphones for quick access to information instead of leaving a PC or laptop powered on.

FWIW, I have three ThinkPads, a 1920x1200 LCD monitor, DSL modem, wireless router, telephone handset and a Blackberry plugged into a power bar that is in turn plugged into a power monitor. As the moment, the total connected draw is 54-watts and their combined usage averages a little less than 1.2 kWh per day.


I have taken domestic electricity efficiency very seriously. I no longer use a desktop, we have 3 laptops, and their combined consumption is about the same as my last desktop PC.

Laptop batteries have not kept up with Moore's Law by a long margin, so huge amounts of effort have gone into energy saving in these machines. The huge processing power is only needed in short bursts except in gaming and video streaming type applications, and the power management is so rigourous that in normal operation they only use a small percentage of their peak energy demand.

In data warehouses the main driver has been overheating, and cooling requirements. The boxes are packed in so tightly, that the aircon costs were prohibitive, and the high costs per square foot of the physical warehouses demanded maximum density. This has lead to lower power consumption in the mid range servers as well, using similar tricks.

Finally, the real energy eaters are the high bandwidth applications, video streaming and on-line gaming. The really useful stuff (science and education and business to business and retail ) use a tiny fraction of the energy consumed.

The chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Google search and Wikipedia hold a lot of servers by shear volume. But yes, it is reassuring that there is a lot of slack to cut in order to keep the essentials going. But then again, we don't know which of the IT supply-chain processes are weak.

Time to invent a peak-oil aware ITIL process? ;)

In essence, a laptop without a battery, and with a user supplied screen, keyboard and mouse.

The Apple Mac Mini <13 watts at idle.


And the cheapest Apple at $599.

Best Hopes for Energy efficient computing,


A moderate push has started recently where I work to use VM servers. The physical server would be much larger and host multiple virtual machines. Are there electric efficiency's to be gained with this architecture?

I haven't researched subject, so I was just curious...

Unknowable - depends on what they're calling a VM and how it's implemented. As a virtual machine, it in some sense simulates a real one (otherwise it's merely a multithreaded real machine, and most are multithreaded anyhow these days.) That may not cost much, or it may cost, say, a factor of 50 in clock cycles. A lot of current software is incredibly slow (i.e. consumes lots of clock cycles, and electricity to run them, to do not very much that you need to care about) on account of multiple levels of simulation, or activities that resemble simulation, such as running interpreted scripts.

Since electricity is cheap compared to labor, and project schedules matter, hardly anyone except in businesses such as weather modeling worries much about minimizing clock cycles. They didn't even worry all that hard about "efficiency" back when computer time cost $1200/hour and the computer in question was rather less powerful than, say, a "smart" phone, so I don't expect the lack of worry to change any time soon.

The videogame industry does strive for efficiency, because labor is cheaper than deploying a new box to hundreds of millions of consumers - an event that happens roughly once in five years and amounts to billions of dollars.

A modern game must send at least 30 million pixels per second to the TV, and games with notably higher graphic quality enjoy higher sales, so there is a relentless push to maximize computing throughput at the expense of simplicity of programming.

In the '90s organizations began to build small applications on small Intel server running Windows NT 4. Generally there was one app per server per department, partly because that was what fit on a 600 MHz server with limited memory and disk, and partly because loading multiple applications on a single instance of Windows NT could be problematic, even when there was enough capacity.

After a couple of server hardware refresh cycles, by the mid '00s we still had one app per one department on one server, although the server was by now a dual socket rack server with 2.0 GHz processors, lots of memory and lots of disk. They were running extremely low utilization, even if later generations of the app tended to be coded less efficiently and the user community had been expanded.

A solution is to run multiple instances of the operating system on top of the VMWare or other virtual machine monitor. This preserves most of the isolation between apps, since an app is very unilikely to crash more than its own instance of the OS, e.g. by a memory leak causing a reboot of the virtual OS. It also helps solve the political problem because you can tell each department that yes, they still have their own server (albeit a virtual one).

So generally VMs save a lot on hardware cost, power, space, and HVAC in the data center. They do not necessarily save on software licensing costs (check the fine print in your software licenses), nor do they necessarily save on adminstration costs since the guest OS instance still have to be configures and secured and the applications installed, etc..

VMs are particularly good for development and test servers, since you can save a guest OS in a given initial state and then reload it for repeatable tests. Also, you can have multiple versions of an OS and app saved so that you can reload them as needed to support debugging a field problem.

I've been using VM Servers in production environments for quite some time (4+ years). The ones I've used have very limited resources with less than 40GB of DASD, 1GB of memory and no SAN drives. The base OS is VMWare ESX and virtual OS is Windows Server 2003. The servers I've worked with run 24x7, serve 100+ users and have been extremely reliable.

The enterprise is now rolling out the next generation of VM servers and I'm just starting to research. These are running VMWare ESX 4i on IBM dx360m2 servers and I see no problem running a 400GB MS SQL Server on these.

I've read a little about HVAC and power savings with VM environments but where I work there has been little discussion of that. The driver is CPU utilization. Across the enterprise, it has been found CPU utilization on stand-alone servers is less than 6%. The goal is to increase this via VM environments.

Generally you can simplify the way a computer works. PC CPUs have been pushed way beyond the 90/10 rule. In this case 90% of the transistors were added in order to extract on average 10% more performance. So you cut the CPU architecture back to something basic, which runs maybe two or three times slower (at the same clock rate), but consumes maybe a tenth of the power. Then if your application is highly parallel, you simply use several times more CPUs than before. The key is highly parallel apps, even a small amount of serial work means you can never make up for being slower per CPU. Also you can slow the clock rate, with more operations done per joule.

The makers of computers have also made lowering power usage a priority. The computers now use less energy by using smaller transistors with less leakage and less capacitance.

"whether the transition from PCs to laptops to pad/smartphone client devices is reducing power consumed by end users. "

We sure did at work. Full tower PCs were replaced with laptops for travelers and small form factor desktops for non-travelers.

By coincidence at home I replaced a G4 dual processor Mac (135 W) with a mini (28 W, with both values measured by a kill-o-watt meter)

It's got to be noticeably over all, but pretty diffuse which would make it hard to pinpoint.

Acer turns to trains for imports

PC vendors may be finally bowing to pressure to build more flexibility into the supply chain amid reports that Acer is to start shipping PCs by train. Forty carriers are already en route to Europe.

Disties have been calling for alternative transportation techniques following the growing mountain of notebooks in the region caused by the consumer slowdown and compounded by container loads already in transit via ship.

The problems faced by Acer were more severe than those of its rivals – and dealt with more publicly – but the firm is piloting a new method: shipping computers 11,000 km (6,835 miles) by rail via Chongqing in China, through Kazahkstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and into Germany.

Well, we should be getting to about the TARP-point in the debt deal discussions, where manufactured urgency and hyperbole is brought to play to sell a deal that everybody will purport to hate, and yet the net result will be to greatly expand debt and kick the can again with scant cuts.

As I said a few weeks back, I fully expect that Dems and Reps will eventually roll the Tea Party and Progressives in a BAU manner, with any big spending cuts safely in the future and some tax reshuffling near term but with no real increases for big-money interests.

I think the angst level is not yet high enough though, and the House will scuttle it one more time before the final act comes in later this week, and a market sell-off seals the urgency. But I could be wrong, and Pelosi might help Boehner pass the vote, believing this to be her best deal option.

Note that the Fox poll has well over half of those polled who completely hate or at least soundly dislike the deal, and would vote it down. You won't find that sentiment here, I know, but the success of the Tea Party perspective really should make some of the more left-leaning on this board expand their thinking a bit. Sure, half the people could be wrong, but they still vote.

Personally, I'm against debt and for much smaller gov't, but I cannot align with any platform I see today. Where is the party of Lowering Expectations and Precautionary Principles?

Apparently the dismal tone seen on TOD is indeed spreading:

"Americans are so pessimistic about the economy now ... . And the level of public pessimism is actually higher than the deep 1981-82 recession overall," due to grim personal outlooks on a number of issues like jobs, retirement and health care, says Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at AEI who co-authored the report. "Their negative sentiments are affecting the way they feel about their family's future, and interestingly, the way they feel about their state governments. Usually negative attitudes about the national government don't seep into attitudes about the state government, but this time it is really different. This negative, gloomy mood is pervasive.

Cutting back: Americans are cutting back on everything from health care to haircuts. Fewer than four in 10 say their personal financial situation is in excellent or good shape right now. Almost as many people say they are falling behind as believe they are getting ahead, but the vast majority describe their financial situation as having just enough money to maintain their standard of living. Inflation worries are high and steady.


In 2002, around six in 10 believed they would have enough money. In the latest survey by Gallup in April, only about four in 10 say they will.

The barbershop I go to is down to 2 chairs from 4. They seem really happy to see me for my quarterly haircut.

but I bet sales of scissors and clippers are up. A friend of mine has three kids. His wife cuts all of the family's hair and they save about £150 a year. Which from after-tax income translates into two full days pay. Or about 1% of the average after-tax income. Just by not going to the barber.

Just more evidence that once an ultra-specialized economy stops growing, the plunge can be very large indeed. Suddenly people realize that they can do for themselves what previously they were paying for.

Small economies can make a considerable difference in funds available for emergencies or opportunities.

Better than after tax income, I've found it useful to think in terms of discretionary income, i.e. gross income per day minus income taxes and all necessary routine expenses for food, shelter, clothing, insurance, transportation, etc.

Most will find this to be a dissapointingly small amount of cash per day, yet it represents what one has for saving, investing, provisioning the future of one's family, and enjoyment of life.

It is also the amount of money for which one is selling a day out of one's life.

My wife and I have both been using the Flowbee for years. It didn't make sense to me to drive ten miles and wait 30+ minutes for a mediocre haircut from a grumpy barber who keeps rasing his price and expects a tip to boot. When my wife went shorter, she tried the flowbee too. After she began getting comments about how cute her hair looked, she was hooked. We use my dog grooming stuff to finish each other up.

Anyone who can groom a Standard Poodle for show can probably give a pretty good haircut. Who knows, there may be a future for me yet..

Anyone who can groom a Standard Poodle for show can probably give a pretty good haircut.

Comment of the day :-) Though I've got Border Collies. We trim them up pretty good in the summertime...

And because no money has changed hands it doesn't get registered in the GDP which will look as if the GDP has fallen, while nothing has really changed. This is what makes using GDP as a measure of Standard of living so illusionary. I live on the German boarder in a village where most of the people have large gardens most are not used but most have a variety of fruit trees mainly apple because in the old days most of the people made there own apple syrup and sauerkraut. As the economy grew in the 60s and 70s they stopped doing this and this sort of hidden wealth suddenly appeared on the GDP for the simple reason that they bought it from the local shops and Supermarkets.

Yorkie -

which border? Poland, Danish, Switz, Lancs (!) ...

Derbyshire boarder West Riding Lad. Now it is just inside the Dutch boarder,bit crazy really small beautiful hamlet, if I come out of the front Door which ever direction I go I end up in Germany to my left it is no more than 20 yards in front 100 and too my right 120

my guess is you're in southern Limburg....



Spot on WeekendPeak and only a few minutes car drive from Belgium, paradise on earth for a Beer drinker as me as you can well imagine. It also makes for some interesting problems. Our Doctor is just over the boarder in Germany. The wife works in Belgium and pays her health insurance into the Belgium system, as we live in Holland any claims have to be dealt with through the Dutch system, I will let you imagine the paper trail. It also leads to some very interesting language problems the in-laws speak Limburgs which is a very difficult dialect with lots of its own words the wife speaks Dutch and I speak English. We have reached a sort of happy medium when we speak to each other. I don't think about it now, for me it is normal but for visitors from England it can be extremely unnerving when we are all gathered round the dinner table.



Many moons ago I lived and worked a bit north of where you are - similar situation, lived in Holland, worked in Germany. The dialect differs significantly from town to town - you can actually pretty accurately tell where somebody is from, for example the difference between Venlo and Heerlen is pretty easily distinguishable.


This reminds me of the definition of a language - a dialect with an army.

Best Hopes for a Unified Europe,


I don’t think a truly unified Europe is in the cards anytime soon. Just looking at the differences within one country – take for example Belgium, (a country which was the result of compromise) and you can see that the chances of anything resembling “unified” are de minimus.
“unified”, like “share”, “together” may give us a nice fuzzy feeling but most of the time that’s all it is – a nice fuzzy feeling.


Merrill - Thanks for bring up the subject of recessions. Been waiting for a sounding board. A while ago there was a short discussion as to how "they" define a recession. Never really clarified who they were other than economists and the govt. Generally an expression of the change in GDP on a quarterly basis. But what does increased GDP mean: generally increased production of goods along with some other factors (house sales?). But is that what a "growing economy" really means? I explain by an extreme (read: not possible) example. A wonderful new technology. X, allows a tremendous increase in productivity. So good that GDP goes up 7%. Certainly far from a recession. OTOH this increased productivity allows companies to lay off 20% of the work force. OK, ok, ok...not realistic but I think you get my point. Though the numbers have been adjusted down "they" keep saying we're not in a recession any longer. Because we've had positive GDP growth. But we still have high unemployment, a crashed housing market, a govt that has to borrow a huge portion of its budget to maintain BAU, a military expending great resources/lives to keep the ME "secure", the prospect of sustained high energy prices, etc, etc. Yet "they" say the economy, via GDP growth, is improving even if at a very slow rate. Thus by "their" definition we aren't in a recession.

Maybe we might want to try to measure economic activity or health by another metric other than GDP. I'm curious about your thoughts on my mad ramblings. My point may also touch on a previous thought I offered about various ideas on how to give up BAU and cut back on our glutonous energy consumption: and what of the folks who depend upon that consumption to feed their kids and pay the rent? Isn't the basis of many efforts to reject BAU is to scale back? I'm fine with that...as long it's not me or mine that are scaled. Scaled as in a fish getting it scales ripped off.

Bobby Kennedy on GNP (Lawrence, Kansas, March 1968) (youtube recording)

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

Yeah that Bobby had some pretty dangerous ideas like his brother and both of them needed to go.

Ted was always just pro-establishment enough to survive.

"What does a growing economy mean?"

To me it means more air pollution per acre, more water pollution per acre, more police to moderate the increased number of conflicts, less farm land per person, less fish per person. It means less open land to enjoy. It means more living in a cement cube in a city and fewer single family houses on land with the option of growing food.

How do you scale back in an even-handed way? Thats what politicians are for. They decide more or less with taxes and policies and so forth. Maybe this is why we are all trying to demonize each other. We are angry about being scaled back.

I commented with my wife this morning. A friend in her church had to move his family from rented houses 3 times in 3 years. True story. Each time because the landlord wanted to resell the property. Now that means that resells of props is still underway where I live. Their is a lot of dubious stuff still going on in housing if you ask me.

More importantly, the story gave me perspective. My parents and my wife's parents never had to do such insanity in their relatively stable lives. This madness that is our current economy is going to take the dignity out of people on a daily basis from here on in. IMHO.

The generations younger than about Baby Boomer are all kind of reeling from one bubble to the next. I feel like I am in a whack-a-mole game more or less.

I am also surprised by what I see in the BigBox stores for sale. At Home depot the killer are all the stainless steel (non-efficient most likely) Refrigerators or worse the giant BBQ grills made of tons of steel. They are becoming SUV in size. You need an SUV to get it home. Heck who can afford all the meat required to use such an enormous grill like that? Who needs a grill that could cook an entire pig on a rotisserie?

These are some of the things I ponder almost daily. Our economy is currently designed to do things none of us will need in the future, and hence its current trajectory is horribly flawed. How much GDP goes into these worthless purchases?

A number of "happiness" indexes of one sort or another have been created. But at the end of the day, you have to choose weights (some number of apples counts as 12 index points, but the same number of oranges likely counts as some other value - and how many oranges/year is access to a subway, and is the sign positive or negative, LOL?) in order to extract a single number. One set of such weights could be composed of prices multiplied by quantities consumed, yielding a single number (index) that would more or less resemble GDP.

Beyond that, the weights chosen by one person may well differ wildly from the weights chosen by another. Even worse, the weights a person indicates in a survey might vary wildly from the weights that same person uses in practice. (E.g. a person might not want to risk embarrassment in a given context over a survey answer like "yes, I like to attend Nascar races", or "yes, I love transit as long as somebody else wastes their time waiting for it and riding it." Or a person might disavow profligate fuel usage, but fly here, fly there, and fly everywhere at the drop of a hat... not to gore any oxen or anything.) The difference between empty saying and actual doing can be sorted out fairly well for the broad population when the weight system is currency units - set aside meaningless survey declarations and examine actual sales in the stores, perhaps as found somewhere in the CPI database. But when some professor or celebrity proclaims a system of weights to be right and good and in keeping with the Puritan Way, no such reality check will be practicable since the actions or inactions of one person or a few will be lost in the aggregate noise. Thus we may never be able to determine whether they mean or even understand what they say.

So although there are academics devoted to that sort of thing, there's hardly any place to take it except into wholly subjective, and therefore perpetually unresolvable, political arguments. OTOH nothing has ever, ever stopped fools from rushing in where angels fear to tread. Thus we can expect to go on being plagued by individuals and pressure-groups (a.k.a. "campaigners", in UK parlance) who Absolutely Know That They Alone Have All The Answers, and furthermore claim the "right" to force their Answers upon others via political processes.

You only need one number--how many people say they are happy. Why would you think that this is a worse indicator of happiness than how much money changed hands, even though much of the money exchanged was for divorce lawyers, catastrophic insurance claims, weapons purchases...?

A number constructed that way won't distinguish "happiness" from mere ignorance - and as they say, "ignorance is bliss". In other words, make people "happy" by creating illusions with drugs or some other means and that sort of number would go up. Or, in a society that functions in the manner of a hydraulic empire (such as the Communist countries back in the day), simply threaten to take away their rations unless they declare that they're "happy". In addition, forcing a black-and-white choice is very crude, it hides all the shades of gray.

And nobody's exactly saying GDP measures "happiness"; it measures what it measures. It's just that any notional index one could construct for "happiness" will have to be based on arbitrary subjectivity that no two people may really agree on. Down that road one can expect to find unresolvable arguments, and manipulations of the calculations designed to further idiosyncratic personal agendas.

Yes, GDP is what it is but people treat it as if it is something more, even as if it were a proxy for happiness or potential happiness. It just measures throughput, after all, which says nothing about how that throughput contributes to well being. Yes, any alternative measure or number we could come up with would be subject to disagreement as to how valid that number was for measuring welfare. On the other hand, some kind of rough consensus could be fashioned so that one could quantify different parameters like education, death rates, cancer rates, infant deaths, etc. One could have a number summing up different factors that generally contribute to well being. Those who were not satisfied with just one number or several numbers would be free to drill down and make their own determination how useful the overall number was. This is already done in areas like rating autos or rating products and people do not claim that one should just ignore these ratings because not everyone agrees with them.. I find consumer reports ratings to be useful but they are also broken down so I can decide what is most important to me like price, for example.

In any event, I think it would be useful to many people if we could be more discriminating in the way we view GDP. Just because GDP goes up or down does not necessarily tell us whether we are better off. At the end of the day, there will never be a perfect alternative but for many of us alternative ways of looking at welfare are useful. Focus on GDP also leads to the idea that growth is all that is important. This obsession with growth is focusing on something that cannot go on much longer and is the major contributor to our and the earth's destruction.

There are rating systems for products that focus on toxicity and environmental impact or the lack thereof. Perhaps they are intended to further an agenda. On the other hand, these same systems are transparent, so people can decide on their own if they are being manipulated. The same principle could apply to attempt to provide a comprehensive measure of welfare.

While happiness is subjective, this does not mean we cannot measure things that would tend to make people more happy. Clean and breathable air is measurable albeit our response to same or the opposite would contain some subjective elements. Our response to GDP is subjective as well but the press and the powers that be sell the measure to be more meaningful than it really is.

Why would most people lie about whether they are happy? Do you really think, outside of say North Korea, that anyone anywhere is going to worry about someone wandering around asking people to rate their level of happiness?

Self reporting has, in fact though, been confirmed as quite accurate by looking at various brain scans and other more 'objective' criteria.

One thing we can be sure of, though, is that GDP has essentially nothing to do with it. As you say, it measures what it measures, which is throughput--perhaps better as a measure of how fast we are 'through putting' the natural world through the industrial consumerist machine to produce global toxins.

I think, perhaps, you are misunderstanding some of the problems with self-reporting happiness.

It is not so much that people lie about whether they are happy. They often have no idea of what happiness is because they have experienced it so infrequently and have never been taught how to name it, or how to reproduce the conditions that will produce the state of being happy.

Once they can identify the sensation of being happy, they must learn how to tolerate it. Trauma victims, or victims of domestic violence in particular, can very suspicious of happiness even when they can identify it, because they fear that it will inevitably be followed by greater misery. This causes clients to either avoid happiness altogether, or seek to end it themselves (by initiating an argument or getting into legal trouble, for example) so that they have some sense of mastery over their environment.

Happiness can be complicated. That is one of the reasons they seek money or power instead, even though these often do not bring happiness, and bring misery instead.

I know that may sound absurd, but I have observed this on many occasions, and I have not even been practicing very long.

I would be interested in the controls for studies attesting to the accuracy of self-reports of happiness using brain scans. I expect some populations would have very accurate reports, and others not so much.

Indeed, GDP has nothing to do with it. I am not questioning your larger point. But the issue of a "happiness index" has deviled psychology for as long as I can remember.

Others have called me the happiest person they know - which puzzles me.

From my perspective, happiness is a byproduct that comes and goes. As a contradiction, to pursue happiness as a goal is to destroy it.

Better to pursue the most difficult goal - fulfillment - and peace and let happiness come and go with events.

Best Hopes for Fulfillment,


Others have called me the happiest person they know - which puzzles me.

You may very well be. How "bad" is your life VS theirs and their friends? And you may be seen as doing what you want VS their lives - thus you seem to better off.

I don't think anybody really knows what a recession is, in the 19th century they called them Panics, then they relabled them, and called them recessions. 1908 was the worst at the beginning of the last century. The one in the 1930s got called a depression, after that they have used various nomenclature getting more mild and nebulous as they have progressed. I always like the word downturn, but my favourite of all time must be market re-adjustment. I think that to even get a bit of a handle on the whole affair, you have to study the business cycle from neo-classical economics.

I am just getting used to "Soft-Patch". It implies that there is nothing to worry your little head about. We can just step right over it. Funny how that goes down better that the "Over-Shoot" discussed up thread.

Rockman - The organization that determines the beginning and end of a recession is the "Business Cycle Dating Committee" of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The NBER is a non-profit, non-partisan private organization with a budget of about $39 million per annum, mostly from "contracts and grants". With whom and from whom I couldn't find, but I think it is safe to say that they would reflect the establishment view.

Their definition is: "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales." The media definition is usually stated as two or more quarters of declining GDP.

One cause of consternation among the public is that economists define recession in terms of the decline from a peak of enconomic activity to the bottom of a trough. Economists consider the period from the trough back to breaking even as the "recovery". However, I think that the public more or less considers the whole period from peak to trough to break even to be the recession, which is why the public feels that we are not out of the recession, while the economists consider it finished already. (Note that the public's definition would be unworkable in a downward trending series of business cycles, which is probably why economists don't use it.)

"Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living." Actually, GDP is a measure of the performance of a country's economy, and it is not a measure of either the wealth or well-being of the country or its people.

The tricky part is trying to measure GDP. You are no doubt aware that knowing what number to write in which column is the core black art of accounting. One area where the arts are applied in in calculating the production of housing. This is straightforward for renters: the economy provided them with housing equal to the rent that they paid. It is not straighforward for homeowners, who may or may not have mortgage, who may or may not have made repairs, whose house may be appreciating or depreciating depending on physical and market factors, etc. Therefore, the computation of GDP assumes that the value of housing delivered to homeowners is equal to the rent that they would have paid were they renting equivalent quarters.

I'm not sure whether the "GDP Deflator", the version of price index that is used to account for inflation, includes a "hedonistic adjustment" like the Consumer Price Index. In the CPI, hedonistic adjustment is used to account for improvements in products that are not necesarily reflected in price. The Frequently Asked Questions about Hedonic Quality Adjustment in the CPI explains how a 27" CRT TV that sells for $250 is actually worth $1,345.02 when compared to a 42" plasma that sells for $1250.

Technological innovation might well cause the GDP to decline. Suppose that the long rumored vaccine for Streptococcus mutans became available at the projected price of $100. This would eliminate most tooth decay, as well as the income of dentists related to filling cavities, capping badly deteriorated teeth, etc. Consequently, this innovation would decrease nominal GDP. It is unclear whether there would be some "statistical adjustment" that deemed the $100 for vaccine to be actually worth the cumulative discounted value of future expected tooth decay in order to keep things rosy on the offical books.

Of course the health benefits of better dental health (as well as heart health, since S. mutans is implicated in heart disease as well), less pain and anguish during dentist visits, etc. would not be captured by GDP.

The GDP wiki article has a list of "Limitations of GDP to judge the health of an economy" followed by a list of "Other Metrics". However, this list does not include lots of other sociological measures of health and well being.

Great summary, Merrill. I'll just pick out and highlight this bit, because it's not widely understood:

economists define recession in terms of the decline from a peak of enconomic activity to the bottom of a trough.

Literally, recession is "moving backwards", not just "being behind where we were before".

I'd only add that unless GDP growth is greater than the sum of population growth and productivity growth, employment is declining. A situation I call 'per-capita recession'. (Note that 'unemployment' may still go down, if enough people just give up looking for work, or if the drop is handled the German way, by having everyone work shorter hours.)

For reference, currently GDP growth is estimated at 1.3%, population growth at about 1.2%, and productivity growth about 0.8%. So we have 1.3 < (1.2 + 0.8), which helps to explain the general mood.

Merrill - Mucho thanks. I knew a bit of the skeleton but you done great fleshing it out. I knew there was an NBER out there but didn't know the name. BTW: I don't recall anyone asking my permission to give the NBER such power...must have missed that memo. LOL.

I did know it was weighted on more than the GDP: "normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales." And IMHO this where the potential for disingenuous spin can kick in. Is an increase in GDP weighted heavy enough to offset higher unemployment and stagnant salaries? We all know the old joke: a recession - my neighbor loses his job...a depression - I lose my job. But if the economy tanks , both my neighbor and I lose our jobs. And then I get a job. So now has the recession ended? For me...yeah. My neighbor..not yet.

Of course the whole process is just verbiage...no science. These definitions are what they are IMHO: spin. And folks can go to either extreme: increasing GDP = recovery/growth = no recession. High unemployment/stagnant salaries = no recovery/improvement = recession/depression.

I prefer the big picture which is obviously much more difficult to quantify. One way or the other Peak Energy appears to be upon us and I see little effective response in our economy to deal with it. Just like the other old joke about falling off a building: it's not a problem until you reach the ground. Which is obvious one more disingenuous spin: I doubt anyone in mid air wouldn't consider themselves having a problem long before they hit the ground. IOW as you pass the 15th floor and get a text that your stock portfolio just increased 20% I doubt you'll get a big smile on your face. Yet it appears many (especially politicians) did just that when it was declared that we "are in recovery". Sorta like the doctor telling the cancer patient the good news: the treatment is working and your health "is improving"...you now have 12 months to live instead of 6. Of course, if we can't have a general agreement on "recession" how do we quantify the coming crash? Or qualify the impact of our current lack of serious response? We all know what denial is but how do we weight that into the equation of "economic health? Hmm....was that the 15th floor we just passed. Wait a sec...just got a text. "Hybrids, windmills, abiotic oil". Heck...I guess we'll be OK anyway.

yeah, $20-haircuts may no longer be the way to go for most people. If you have access to a real Chinatown (one with lots of Chinese immigrants) check out their barbershops though, prices can be as low as $6 for a simple (male) haircut. Groceries same thing, sometimes half the price of your usual supermarket, and fresher.

My wife cuts my hair with a 20$ clipper I got at Target. Then again, I don't have much hair any more, and it didn't make sense to pay someone to trim what is left.

I don't go to a barber shop. A neighbor a few doors down runs a small salon out of her garage i just walk over there and get my haircut from her.

Maybe one day you raise some chickens and trade her 2 dozen eggs for a haircut ;-)

My neighbor grazes her horses on my place, and cuts mine for free.

IN the old days my aunt (a stylist) cut my hair. My mother used to help take care of her kids in exchange. The old barter economy is a nice way to have community and family.

heh, i wish. it's illegal to raise livestock in my area. I do trade computer expertise for hair-cuts. Last time i helped set up vista's parental controls for their little girl.

It's nowhere near what's present on TOD. Most of the people are unaware of energy and resource issues, they see the problem merely as one of economic mismanagement, in a way it is a mismanagement issue but that would imply missing the forest for the trees.

Written by Paleocon:
Note that the Fox poll has well over half of those polled who completely hate or at least soundly dislike the deal, and would vote it down. You won't find that sentiment here, I know, but the success of the Tea Party perspective really should make some of the more left-leaning on this board expand their thinking a bit.

Here is the growth based rubbish that comes from Public Citizen dated July 29, 2011. I think most of the members of TOD understand this approach would fail from a high price for and shortages of crude oil. It's truly sad that none of these political groups understand the predicament.

Washington is in the grip of a fever. It's hard to find a word other than lunacy to describe what's going on.

We are veering toward potential economic catastrophe.

And Congress is hung up on a debate that shouldn't be occurring. It is debating an imaginary problem that conjures scary future scenarios but ignores dire existing circumstances. The consensus proffered solution to the imaginary problem would damage our country and further weaken our economy.

*Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads, but they are disagreeing primarily about how much harm they want to impose. That's a very consequential disagreement, but it ignores the fact that we don't need to impose any harm at all.*

Let's correct some of the upside-down components of the current debate.

*1. There should not be a debate over increasing the nation's debt ceiling.*

Prior approval of increases - more than 100 - have been routine, and this time should be no different. Raising the debt ceiling merely authorizes the U.S. government to make good on spending previously authorized by Congress.

It is true that Republicans in Congress signaled some time ago that they would not easily agree to another increase in the debt ceiling. That's why Democrats should have passed an increase in the last Congress, a move they declined to make because of fear of electoral consequences. At very least, the administration should have insisted on increasing the debt ceiling as a condition of agreeing to the December 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

*2. The government should be running larger, not smaller, deficits.*

The country has not recovered from the Great Recession. One in six people who would like a full-time job are unable to find one. We don't have to worry about hard times coming sometime in the future - we are living in hard times right now!

To fuel a stalled economy and put people back to work, the U.S. government should be spending more money. This is basic Keynesian economics. It shouldn't be controversial.

State governments are starved for cash, and laying off thousands of teachers, librarians, fire fighters and police. If the federal government gave the states block grants, they could keep people employed, and keep delivering needed services. Our country, and our economy, would be stronger.

Much of the country is suffering through a summer of staggering heat waves. This should be an urgent reminder of the need to take radical action to mitigate catastrophic climate change. Especially with so many people out of work, the government should be spending money to employ people to retrofit buildings around the country and to invest in R&D on solar and wind energy.

And, of course, there is no shortage of other pressing needs to which people can be put to work.

By contrast, cutting spending right now will worsen our very severe economic crisis, and push more people out of work.

*3. Our economic problems are present, not future.*

It is both bewildering and unconscionable that pontificating politicians and pundits express so much concern for imagined future economic problems while ignoring the real and present suffering that pervades the country.

There is also some very fuzzy math that takes over the discussion. If it continues to grow economically, and if it makes wise investments, the country is going to be significantly richer in the years and decades ahead. We're not going to be poorer, irrespective of the size of the national debt.

*4. It's actually not very hard to find a few trillion dollars.*

To say that the debt ceiling debate shouldn't be taking place, and that we should be running larger deficits, is not to say there aren't appropriate areas of the budget to cut, and appropriate revenue streams to tap.

On the spending side, among many other things, we could:

- Save more than a trillion dollars over 10 years by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Cut more than $500 billion from the Department of Defense budget by replacing private contractors and eliminating weapons systems the Pentagon says it does not need. Hundreds of billions of more in savings are available through modest cuts

- Save more than $150 billion in pharmaceutical costs just by negotiating better prices with Big Pharma. More aggressive moves to fix the broken pharmaceutical development system

On the revenue side, among many other things, we could:

- Tax Wall Street speculation

- End offshore tax haven

- Close corporate tax loopholes

- Tax capital gains as ordinary income, and raise $1 trillion.

Many of these and other sensible budget ideas are included in the Congressional Progressive Caucus's People's Budget

A key thing to keep in mind about all these savings and increased revenue is that they should be ploughed back into public investments and public priorities. We need more net spending, not less. Over time, we need to reduce the deficit, but much of that will occur automatically, as the country moves back to fuller employment and more robust growth.

We do not need to touch, nor should we touch, Medicare or Medicaid. Nor should we tamper with Social Security, which is financed separately from the rest of the federal budget and has nothing to do with the debt.

It's impossible at this point to know how the debt ceiling debate is going to play out. It's also highly uncertain what happens if the U.S. government defaults - catastrophe may follow, or it may not.

What is certain is that irrationality is ruling the day.

*It's past time to leave behind this orchestrated and false crisis. Our country faces a legion of real and serious problems. It's time we got to work taking them on.*/blockquote>

The "New Deal" is same as the 1984 Doublespeak Old Deal:

We need to fire more people in order to create more jobs.

(Well what did you think would happen when you have "spending cuts"? People lose their jobs. D'oh.)

Obama may be better at double-speak than many of his progressive supporters surmise. A column on Glenn Greenwald's Salon blog, "The myth of Obama's "blunders" and weakness", raises a few salient points:

Last night, John Cole -- along with several others -- promoted this weak-helpless-President narrative by asking what Obama could possibly have done to secure a better outcome. ...
For those who believe this narrative, please confront the evidence there; how anyone can claim in the face of all that evidence that the President was "forced" into making these cuts -- as opposed to having eagerly sought them -- is mystifying indeed. And, as I set forth there, there were ample steps he could have taken had he actually wanted leverage against the GOP; the very idea that negotiating steps so obvious to every progressive pundit somehow eluded the President and his vast army of advisers is absurd on its face.

Matt Taibbi writes (in response):

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. . . . We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

The Emperor may be wearing no clothes, not b/c he is duped, but instead b/c he is really an exhibitionist nudist at heart. Most people assume Obama is left-of-center since he is a) dark skinned, b) a Democrat, and c) Fox News says so. If actions speak louder than words, however, nothing in the record is showing this to be the case. There has been a consistent continuity of policy between Bush 43 and Obama. The 2008 election slogans promoting "Change" was mere PR.

There are those dark days when I wonder if Rove and Cheney created Obama for us.

Maybe I'm crazy to see any conspiracies here, but ...

from his appointments and actions, it sure looks like Obama is beholden to the Wall Street bankers he bailed out.

And you have some regular TOD posters who wanted the bail out and want "The Economy" saved, the long term costs be damned.

I want to see a transformation of the economy in a variety of ways.

Total revolutions have a worse track record than radical evolutions.

Best Hopes for Change - At a Manageable pace,


Transformation will look like total revolution to many. The more invested one is in the system being changed the more it'll look like 'total revolution'.

The government should shrink as the economy shrinks from a shrinking supply of crude oil. To have the government expanding in a desperate attempt to restart exponential economic growth without sufficient energy to power transportation, squanders assets that could be put to better use.

Now we'll see who owns the ratings agencies. After strong threats about downgrades without debt ceiling raises and hefty immediate spending cuts, we'll see what they do with a big ceiling raise but almost no immediate spending cuts, and only modest cuts over 10 years. My bet is they will be perfectly fine with perpetuating the status quo.

New designs on harnessing wind power

An Alameda, Calif., company, Makani Power, is developing a kitelike contraption that generates electricity as it whips in circles in the wind. Another firm, Magenn Power, has built a giant spinning blimp with generators affixed to each end. It somewhat resembles a giant inflatable hamster wheel.

Some machines could double as art installations. Poway, Calif.-based Helix Wind's turbine looks like a spiral staircase wrapped in a white sheet. Another model, from WindTronics, evokes a large bicycle wheel, or Sauron's eye from "The Lord of the Rings."

Get'm whilst you still can...

Boost for renewable heat market as £15m grant scheme launches

The eco heating market received a boost today with the launch of the Government’s Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP), a grant scheme aimed at getting UK homes to buy into green heating systems.

The RHPP has £15 million to spend between now and March 2012 on UK householders looking to invest in renewable heat installations, including solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass boilers. The scheme, a forerunner to the Government’s domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), is expected to deliver 25,000 installations helping to kick-start the UK renewable heat market and create green jobs.

See: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/boost-for-renewable-heat-market-...


Grants Available for Renewable Heating Systems
As of today, the Government began accepting applications for renewable heating grants worth up to £1,250.

The scheme applies to around four million eligible households in the UK – predominantly those that are not connected to the mains gas or those relying on heating sources that are considered high-carbon.


Friends of the Earth, however, is not altogether impressed by the grants, which apparently include ‘disappointing caveats’. Alan Simpson, a Sustainable Energy Advisor at the environmental group, said: “Potentially this is an internationally ground-changing initiative that could put the UK amongst world leaders, but it is driven by a towering lack of ambition”.

Mr Simpson added that the £300 paid for solar thermal hot water panels was not enough to influence the market, meaning that uptake of the technology is likely to be relatively low.

See: http://www.homeheatingguide.co.uk/blog/grants-available-for-renewable-he...

In other reporting, we're told that 2,700 "expressions of interest" were received in advance of today's launch, so it probably makes sense to move quickly.


Alleged LulzSec Frontman ‘Topiary’ Released On Bail

Jake Davis "topiary" pictured leaving court

Jake Davis, who police say ran the Twitter feed for LulzSec and is known online as Topiary, appeared in a denim shirt and carrying a book called “Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science” when he appeared in Westminster Magistrates in London just before noon.

...Davis looked straight ahead for much of the proceedings and occasionally scratched his head, then grimaced when prosecutor Chodha mispronounced the name LulzSec as “Luke Sec.”

...Prosecutor Chodha said the officers who arrested Davis found a Dell laptop running 40 different applications. Among them were a host of folders including one containing details of pre-paid cards in false names, a folder titled “Noms” which included a text file of LulzSec activity, and a folder with user details and passwords of 750,000 random members of the public.

Chodha said the laptop had a 100 GB encrypted-hard drive with 16 separate “small computers” – presumably virtual machines, or VMs – each operating independently of one another.

Bail conditions include electronic curfew at the family home and a ban on internet access. I don't think there's any real doubt he is LulzSec's "topiary" now surely?

Maybe there is hope in hacker activity to knock the empire around a little or at least help people understand that we have a problem.

16 small computers in one. Image a hacker controlling a data center. LOL

There is always hope. Here's a fantastic twist on the subject for anyone interested in some fun reading.

Prosecutor Chodha prolly better just keep his computer powered off for a while.

He comes across as a very psychopatic persona. The fameseeking, the chilling calmness and the constant lying. He has been insisting that he only went after the big companies, yet he had over 750,000 individual people's passwords to use and exploit.

The guy dons a cloak of moral outrage but in reality he does little but to pocket himself. I wouldn't waste a tear if he got locked up in prison for quite a while.

There are still people who have this romantic view of these hackers, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

I thought you were describing the Senate.

Although I am not an advocate of this behavior, it is understandable that we resort to this. Do you recommend peaceful demonstration with the attendant bashing of the skull?


I like the Menonite, Amish, Bruderhoff solution form your own community and ignore the crazies.

The old testament talks about how usury is charged and people sink so deep into debt that they must be sold as slaves to pay-off their debt. Then the tribe feels guilty about its own being slaves to foreigners so they are bought back and the cycle starts again. This was 3000 years ago. Nothing new.

. He has been insisting that he only went after the big companies, yet he had over 750,000 individual people's passwords to use and exploit.

Did "he"?

Do you have links to these claims that "he had over 750,000 individual people's passwords"

In a strict sense, I have more than that in the wordlists for running security checks. Having passwords without the accounts they tie to is not that helpful.

Can I ask who removed the image I posted with the article and why? It was only 20K and added to the story. I really feel I don't need to explain why (it should be obvious) but if you really insist I will.

I've had more silent editing of my posts in the last few months than in the previous 3 years. Is this supposed to warn me that I might be banned for breaking rules like certain others I'd better not mention?

Who knows.

Is it possible you're referring to a post you made in the previous Drumbeat?

There's no deleted messages associated with this one. If you posted something and it disappeared, it's possible that there was some sort of error.


No, it was on this Drumbeat because I read it, and saw the image, this morning. I think it may have been related to the fact that it had little connection to energy or subjects usually discussed on Drumbeat. But I am not sure. Only the person who deleted the image knows why.

Ron P.

I've been scrolling through since the Drumbeat since early this morning and I never saw any images here at all.

Leanan moderates Drumbeat and is generally the one who would edit or delete anything here. The last time I deleted a post was yesterday evening, when some spam was posted with most of the current articles.

Sorry, I can't shed any light on this mystery.


I removed the image.

I'd really like people to use some self-discipline when it comes to posting images. There's a lot of people sharing one thread, and images are problematic for a lot of reasons independent of file size - from formatting to copyright to load time issues. If it's a useful chart or a graph, or an important, relevant news image, or a photo of new technology people may not have seen before, fine. Otherwise, please think twice.

The whole LulzSec subject is not really on-topic, and probably should have been left in thread where it arose.

So an organisation that has carried out denial of service attacks on oil companies (Petrobras taken off-line for example), media, police, FBI etc is off-topic in drumbeat now? Or are you saying I should have put it in the previous drumbeat?

I suppose you could have just deleted my message entirely but it has come up in other forums that there could, in theory, be legal problems with moderators editing user posts without a note being added that the post had been edited. A little note saying "Edited" would be nice.

I'm not saying you can't post it. Just that it doesn't deserve a lot of bandwidth.

I do try not to edit people's posts, because I don't think it's fair. The exceptions I make are 1) replacing cuss words with asterisks 2) fixing bad HTML code and 3) removing images that I feel don't belong for one reason or another.

Ok, I felt the image made it fairly clear that, despite his youth, he isn't playing the "little boy lost", "medical condition", or "mistaken identity" cards. This photo at Time actually does it better http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,2086463,00.html

EDIT: Ironically Time.com deleted the article with the image after "Sabu" complained the quote was fake. Image can be found at
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/08/lulzsec-now-has-face-m... (2nd one down).

Note that the quote attributed to "Sabu" by Time is false according to Sabu's twitter feed. "Anonymous" are now running "Free topiary" campaigns (his current bail conditions amounting to a lack of freedom according to "Sabu"). Sabu's current twitter image is the Hamas flag with the words "Free Topiary" in case anyone wonder what it is.

Author and New Scientist writer, Michael Brooks, responds to "topiary" promoting his book.

Michael Brooks: Alleged hacker is my biggest fan

Yesterday Jake Davis, the teenager accused of hacking into News International and the Serious Organised Crime Squad networks, carried my new book, Free Radicals: The secret anarchy of science into court. Today, I woke up to find myself hot property, with news articles examining why Davis would be so interested in a science book.

...I can imagine Davis sees himself as someone who lives outside the law, who isn't afraid of authority, who is smart and driven to do bigger, more audacious things than anyone around him. In that sense, he's very like some of the characters in Free Radicals. I'm not endorsing drug use, hacking or reckless self-experimentation, but If there's one thing I'd like to see come out of this strange moment in my life, it is having more of the risk-taking, adventurous teens view science as something they would like to get involved with.

Seems a bit off-topic for TOD.

Seems on-topic for Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters.

LulzSec claimed responsibility for taking down the Petrobras web site amongst many others. The charged suspect is also alleged to have written the fake "Rupert Murdoch dead" webpage that appeared on the front page of The Sun website - the UK's largest selling newspaper and owned by Murdoch.

This is what i think kunstler is partly pointing out as nonsense in the article linked above.
stuff like this just makes me shake my head sometimes..

Mine the asteroids, cover the moon in PV, mine the sea floor for rare earths, ....

EROEI for those projects?

I have seen these used to save quite a bit on money making small semi-disposable parts that are otherwise costly, but they are not really good to save humanity. They are just about saving a little money in the end.

3D printing: The world's first printed plane , New Scientist, July 27, 2011

Fukushima all time high 10 sieverts/hour. Funny how we become habituated to bad news and it barely receives a mention any-more. As our world collapses around us we seem to hardly notice, it just becomes the new normal.

It will never make the news again. The payout to the media bosses will ensure that the story is thrown under the bus. Fact is once a reactor gets out of hand -- it is doomed to go this way.

The Reuters story really made me crazy. How can the units be in cold shutdown when fuel is outside the containment?

It pisses me off that they are still calling them reactors. They no longer meet the functional criteria. They should just be referred to as units.

They should not call them reactors or units - they should call them blobs.

Relax. When I pull a blown fuse, I still call it a fuse; otherwise nobody will know what I'm talking about.

Some further info

Record high radiation at crippled Japan nuke plant

TEPCO said radiation levels reached at least 10 sieverts per hour near the debris left between the number one and number two reactors of the plant at the centre of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

The previous record was three to four sieverts per hour monitored inside the number one reactor on June 3.

"Three plant workers were exposed to a dosage of four millisieverts while they were monitoring radiation," a TEPCO spokeswoman said. "We are still checking the cause of such high levels of radioactivity."

I recall when the plants exploded and we all debated whether they simply had a little H2 explosion. Clearly there will be a highly radioactive debris field for eons at the site. All the Pro-nuke posturing was proved wrong. The explosions were effectively dirty bombs which spewed into the air and water and continue to make lovely contaminate beef for the locals to consume.

Sounds like heaven. Why did they place the spent fuel above the reactors? Oh I remember. They never explode. Makes perfect engineering sense. Hence the reason why people are skeptical of nukes. The flawed designs require several hundred billions to repair and retrofit all the flawed reactors around the world.

From the post on Desdemona Despair:

Tepco sent three workers around the ventilation stack today after a gamma camera detected high radioactivity levels in the area yesterday, Matsumoto said.

Did anything actually change, or did they just come up with another way to look at the mess that already existed? It's not clear at all what happened - did the radiation suddenly spike at a place they've been monitoring or did someone decide to go look in a different spot?

It will never make the news again.

Thank goodness for youtube.

Funny how we become habituated to bad news and it barely receives a mention any-more.

How many times does one want to here:
"Reactors still failed".

New radiation levels is news. That fission power is a failure - that fact is not news.

we seem to hardly notice

If no one is monitoring - how can one have news? Note how the 'news' of the radioactivity plumes is no longer by removal of the site reporting the info from the web.

Thanks for adding comments to that story.

I didn't miss it, or its importance.. I just sadly shook my head thinking about the future of that lovely region.

My Swedish Grandfather came to the US in the 30s, and while he worked as an engineer, he found the Maine Coast brought him back to Sweden, and he came up here often and painted wonderful watercolors .. Years later, as an IBM manager, he spent a good bit of time in Japan, I guess, and their coasts and artistic sensibilities became a third voice in his painting.. so I feel a strong fondness for a place that only Grampa and Hiyao Miyazaki have given me a little glimmer of..

Govt sets new criteria for contaminated fertilizer

Japan's government has laid down a new set of criteria for the use of fertilizers that may be contaminated with radioactive cesium.

On Tuesday, the agriculture ministry urged farmers not to use humus and compost that contain 400 becquerels of cesium per kilogram or more.

It also called on them not to use livestock feed containing 300 becquerels of cesium per kilogram or more. For fish feed, the limit was set at 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The ministry says it will notify local governments how to measure cesium in fertilizers as soon as possible.

The NRC in the USA approved "the solution to pollution is dilution" in the form of Kerr-McGee using post Nuclear processing material as fertilizer.

IN THESE TIMES [(773)772-0100] in its newspaper-magazine issue of August 19 - September 1, 1987:

With the Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion's blessing, Kerr-McGee Corporation began examining the fertilizing potential of its industrial sewage in 1973. In 1979, Kerr-McGee's Director of Regulation and Control, W.J. Shelly, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency's (the EPA's) regional office in Dallas:

"The raffinate .... has been treated to reduce its radioactivity, and is applied to the soil as part of a waste disposal program licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion."

Since then, the radioactive, heavy-metal-laden raffinate has been renamed "ammonium nitrate fertilizer", and there is no talk of "waste disposal programs" from farmer Kerr-McGee.

On March 31, 1982, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "Uranium Process Licensing Section" recommended that Kerr-McGee Corporation be given:

"on a permanent basis ... permission to spray ... treated raffinate as fertilizer"

on company land. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that these raffinate applications would pose neither an:

"UNDUE risk to public health" nor "have SIGNIFICANT environmental impacts."

Outside of Japan, it has little effect on most people. Heck, even INSIDE Japan many people have more pressing concerns. On the other hand, I think we can say that the Japanese public has turned decisively against nuclear power; the polls are showing majorities against it and the bad news keeps popping up... Do you know, contaminated beef was sold to supermarkets and restaurants all over Japan? That "beef ban" showed up AFTER somebody found out they'd poisoned the well. Of course.

To be absolutely honest, I think the prefecture of Fukushima is mostly useless now, even outside of the worst zones. They keep finding nasty stuff in Fukushima City, and that's a decent sized city (~290,000 people). Of course the government is talking BS as fast as it can, but it's becoming more and more transparent. The obvious fact that there will not be remediation on anywhere near the scale they claim if at all, as the level and ubiquity of the contamination makes remediation a joke, is not being admitted, instead they talk about "clean up and resettlement". Lies, lies, lies, but slowly the public is catching on. SLOWLY.

This is the same government that backed down from the wise statement that communities afflicted by the tsunami should be built on higher ground. The attitude, pushed by one of the most outsized construction industries in the world, is that if you put enough concrete up (seawalls, tetrapods, dams and channels for the rivers, etc) you can tame nature. The question of the negative results of turning everything into concrete is not really asked here in Japan.

People in Fukushima are getting it. They are worried about their children, and they are are angry. The government of Japan is doing it's best to cover up that anger, but with bad news refusing to stop the anger won't go away. Every story of contaminated goods revives the issue outside to people outside of Fukushima as well.

What amazes me is that some people still think nuclear fission power is a good idea.

Fatal Radiation Level Found at Japanese Plant

TOKYO — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Monday that it measured the highest radiation levels within the plant since it was crippled by a devastating earthquake. However, it said the discovery would not slow continuing efforts to bring the plant’s damaged reactors under control.

What can I say.

What can I say.

At this point its up to the pro-nukers to defend their position.

And they just don't. "The Peaceful Atom" policy of the 1950's was going to be the blueprint how all Nation-States were to obtain Fission Reactors. Yet the pro-nukers have not addressed how places like Zimbabwe are to get the 2009 reactors they claimed they were getting. Or why the 1976 plans of the Shaw to get fission reactors just didn't happen.

Come on pro-nukers - step up! Explain how ALL of humanity will be allowed the reactors you want to see all over so badly.

Come on pro-nukers - step up! Explain how ALL of humanity will be allowed the reactors you want to see all over so badly.

Dag nabbit, Eric --you got me!! I profusely apologize for promoting the continued use and construction of obsolete Gen-I & II reactors. I also apologize for promoting lax maintenance, nonexistent regulatory oversight, ruthless corner-cutting and defunding of risk mitigation, all with aim of enriching upper management and top shareholders. I should be ashamed of myself!

Er... wait a second... I (and other Gen-IV advocates on this site) never actually advocated *any* of these awful policies. In fact before Fukushima, most of us saw next-gen nuclear as one possibility among an array of post-FF options the world should be actively pursuing, including renewables and conservation.

Dag nabbit, Eric --you got me!! I profusely apologize

As well you should. No where in your attempted response do you deal with Zimbabwe, KSA, Iran, and North Korea.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your sarcasm.

Is your position that the graft/corruption/hyperinflation of Zimbabwe will not effect these magical future Fission reactors?

Is your position that others concerns over weapons issues WRT North Korea/Iran will be addressed with these magical future Fission reactors? The Peaceful Atom plan of the 1950's was supposed to do that with the reactors you are condemning.

Is it your position that changes in government in KSA/Iran/Zimbabwe will be considered a non issue WRT these magical future Fission reactors?

I don't recall being asked about those countries before, but since you're asking... I really don't understand your objection re: rogue nations. Has anyone here ever advocated we freely give technology or materials to make reactors --much less bombs-- to N.K. or Iran? Sounds like a straw man to me. And btw, Zimbabwe & KSA are not (yet) nuclear powers, so not sure why they're on your list.

Also, as many here have pointed out before, the technology to make Gen-III/IV reactors, especially thorium & MSRs does not easily lend itself to producing large amounts of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium. Current reactor technology does not = bomb technology. And regardless, there isn't much the US, EU or G20 can do to impede rogue nations from bomb-making, aside from containment strategies like bribery (N.K.) not selling them fissile materials or the technology to make weapons, sabre rattling (Iran), or direct military action (Iraq and possibly Iran in the near future).

And... Molten Salt Reactors are not "magical" or fictitious; several prototypes have been built around the world since the 1960s. Not all Gen-IV designs have yet been built/proven, but enough certainly have to merit further R&D. The fact that some can actually "burn" long-lived waste produced by Gen III-IV reactors alone merits them serious consideration, if for no other reason than to reduce the amount of pre-existing waste.

I really don't understand your objection re: rogue nations.

What makes them Rogue Nations?

And a follow up - why should the citizens of a "rogue nation" "do without" the promise of "cheap energy"?

(I'm glad you've responded and hope the mods won't delete this discussion in future Drumbeats in case it doesn't terminate before this Drumbeat is locked out forever)

And... Molten Salt Reactors are not "magical" or fictitious; several prototypes have been built around the world since the 1960s.

And the prototypes had problems - such that they were not propagated.

I'd asked on this topic but I'm more interested in focusing your mind (and others who want to jump in) on the rogue nation status and hope you reply to that.

reduce the amount of pre-existing waste.

While waste has been others issues - that isn't one of my biggest concerns.

Blender's Credit repeal missing from debt ceiling deal.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, forged a July 7 deal with Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, to eliminate the government supports and to include it as part of the deficit- reduction package. The agreement proposed to reduce federal deficit by $1.33 billion and to dedicate $668 million to biofuels and new technologies.

“We have to have a tax vehicle to put it on and we don’t have a tax vehicle,” Feinstein said to reporters today. “There’s nothing we can do.”


If you have trendline demand and 150 bushels per acre yield, refineries won't have any corn to use by the end of July next year, livestock will have no feed, etc... Obviously, that cannot happen -- price will regulate demand. I don't think the blender credit is going to make a darn bit of difference moving forward. Corn is going to increase independently of oil and corn ethanol will be done with in 2012, IMO. I think 150 bushels may be optimistic, this heatwave is historic (but Iowa has had some decent rains).

Grain Futures Surge on Corn-Crop Warning

Commodity Weather Group, a private weather firm, cut its national yield estimate for corn by 4.3% to 150 bushels an acre, saying crop losses "were particularly exacerbated by the record warm nights seen in many sections of the central and southwestern Midwest." Another forecaster, Cropcast Ag Services, confirmed warm nights in July "were leading to smaller and lighter kernels and thus lower corn yields."

I thought I'd post this for the benefit of those who thought oil sands would never be profitable.

Refining business pumping bigger profits into oil patch

For Suncor, the math so far this year has worked like this: Netbacks, or operating profits, on bitumen worked out to about $54 per barrel. Upgrading that bitumen added another $34. And refining added a further $35.

“And those numbers are additive,” Suncor chief financial officer Bart Demosky told investors on a conference call Thursday. “The resulting increase in margin captured year to date is over $1.3-billion versus the strategy of a straight bitumen seller into the marketplace.”

In other words, processing crude oil, a business that has fallen out of favour lately as companies abandoned upgrader plans and shelved refineries, has suddenly turned into a cash fountain.

For those who missed the key point, $54+$34+$35 = $123. Suncor made a total of $123 operating profit on every barrel of bitumen that it extracted from the oil sands, processed, and delivered to the gas pumps. For Americans, that's $2.93 per gallon, for Canadians it's 77 cents per litre that went straight into Suncor's bank account.

Welcome to peak oil. Cash or major credit card accepted.

That it is close to the price per barrel of oil makes sense. But this seems to be a little bit more than the price per barrel of oil. Why is that?

The refinery operating margin is $35/bbl. That's over and above the cost of crude oil.

They make $88/bbl ($54+$34) producing bitumen and upgrading it to a sweet light synthetic oil which is more valuable than WTI (At the last close, Syncrude was trading at a premium of $15.25) Then they make another $35/bbl refining it into products like gasoline and diesel fuel.

A refinery margin of $35 is insanely high compared to what it has been historically, though.

Back calculating, let's assume they've been selling the Syncrude for $110/bbl. That means it only costs them $22 to produce each barrel of bitumen. I'm not that familiar with the breakdown of expenses in the oil sands, but this seems extremely low. The graph at this link:
estimates the cost of oil sands production to be >$80/bbl. If this graph is roughly correct, and even if they've been able to halve that (which I doubt), the costs would still be ~$40/bbl, about double the $22/bbl above.

So in my opinion, something is fishy here. These claims are coming from the company's CFO, not exactly an objective source, so I would take his numbers with a grain of salt. This is not to say that the oil sands aren't profitable, they definitely are. But when oil costs >$100/bbl for an extended period of time, just about anything is profitable.

Well, it is true that these are not all-inclusive numbers. Without getting too deep into their books (accounting is not exactly thrilling), I would say these are gross numbers before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. There are a number of cheerful-looking governments and lenders getting their fair share before the money goes into Suncor's financial vaults.

Suncor says its cash operating costs on synthetic oil have risen to $51/bbl in the last quarter, so that's a more realistic figure at this exact point in time. But remember, the other costs are not fixed, they go up and down with oil price, and due to the nature of income taxes, when prices are high, the governments make out like bandits.

The estimate of costs > $80/bbl is completely whacked, although the graph is widely quoted. It is not based on realistic data. It has never cost that much to produce oil sands.

In reality, old, established oil sands companies like Suncor can make money down to $20/bbl, and when the price over $100/bbl, they and the relevant governments are making huge amounts of money.

Making money at $20/bbl is ignoring their sunk costs.

Yes but sunk costs are sunk costs and there's no point in crying over spilt milk.

At $20 the finances of all the oil producers (conventional and unconventional) are underwater, so it's an unstable situation that won't last indefinitely.

There are profits indeed, but what about the hidden costs like CO2 emissions per bbl or the mirage that this financial/industrial system can endure with oil as the primary energy source? Both seem like nasty costs to be paid in full down the road. Nothing is free after all. But our system is making the oil very profitable, no one would argue there. People would argue about the hidden costs most likely, which should be paid up front.

Profits to the owning class and looses to the public = western crony capitalism.

Well, what are the hidden costs of CO2 emissions per bbl, and how should it be charged for? Who should it be charged to, the oil company or you? Remember, 80% of the emissions occur when you burn the products in your car, not when the oil is produced.

The top 5 CO2 emitters in Canada are all electrical utilities, with Ontario Power Generation at the top of the list, followed by TransAlta Utilities, Saskatchewan Power, Alberta Power, and Nova Scotia Power. Suncor is #8 on the list.

Promoters of electric cars need to be aware of where their power is coming from.

No less than the drivers of Gas cars..

I know RMG, everyone wants to have their cake and their grandkids' cake and their grandkids' grandkids' cake. And so it goes. I was pointing out relative to other types of more conventional oil refining, the oil from tar sands is the highest CO2 emitting technology. I am sure that coal to liquids and shale mining for oil are very bad as well.

The higher we go up the oil pyramid the more and more CO2 is emitted per bbl. Sounds like a problem to me.

The funny thing about the people that hyperventilate over the oilsands (not pointing the finger at you here Oct), is that they usually miss the bigger picture - the cars that are consuming said oil.

Conventional oil uses 10% of its energy in production, and oilsands oil is about 30% - but that still means that 70% of the energy expenditure happens at the end use - the car.

As long as we have any ICE cars, we are going to have oil production by any and every means that is economical.

As long as we have cars, period, we are going to have energy production by any and every means that is economical. And in the current business world, fossil fuels of various sorts, especially coal, are the most economical.

Trying to single out specific sources, like the oilsands, is a bit like whack-a-mole - as long as there is demand for oil, new sources (e.g. CtL) will appear to fill that demand.

The better approach, in my opinion, is a broad based, separately identified, carbon tax. That way the embedded carbon content in any fuel is clearly stated (and taxed) and both producers and consumers can make their decisions accordingly.

I suspect, though, unless the carbon tax works out to at least $2/gal for gasoline, that it won't make any real difference in overall production or consumption patterns. But at least those that do take action, get to - legally - avoid paying a tax - how often dopes that happen?

Yeah, I don't call politicians and complain about any one source of energy. I see your point and RMG's. Of course, the end user does not pay their fair share in CO2 emissions unfortunately.

My grandparents could only afford one car in each family. So they had 1/2 the carbon footprint of my parents who drove two cars. Some day we will go back to one car per household imho. Funny thing wages and inflation probably meant that my parents had to work two jobs to have the same Standard of Living as my grandparents with one job per household. Funny how this all works out.

And if you ask many parents in the modern two income households what they want most - it is time with their family, that is not in organised sport, etc.

We can have that, if we are prepared to have half size houses, one car not two. etc.

I like this alternate view of cars v bikes, that shows why bicycles are faster than cars - the average speed for car owners works out to 5-10 mph!

Our grandparents probably knew this, of course...

I really miss my grandfather's gardens my grandmothers salads and cooking, their really small houses, the games in the back yard that never involved electronic video games. Wow. Nostalgia. Simple fun in small houses. What happened? When did we pig out and who's idea was it to supersize all this crap?

Well, then a "simple" approach would be to drop the organized sports or at least get it under control - which, with only one car, they might well have to do anyway... but something seems to compel them to sacrifice everything to the sports.

I generally agree, but for one point.

Given the observed impact of a $1/gallon increase, and the likely preference for more economical cars in the future, I do not think that $2/gallon is needed to have an impact.

That said, the higher the gas taxes, the better.

My preference is:

- No tax increases for 9 months, to let people start to make adjustments (rent closer to work, buy new car, etc.)

- Increase gas taxes by 3 cents/gallon/month for 20 years

- Make quarterly inflation adjustments to the gas tax

A maximization in people's planning for the future with a minimum of actual pain at the pump.

Not Much Hopes for Rational Gas Taxes,


I'm seeing a reprise of 2008 in my neighborhood. High fuel prices have doubled or tripled the number of cyclists.

It's nice. Safety in numbers.

Well, really, just what has the permanent impact of the $1/gal rise been? How much has VMT really dropped? How many people in cities are demanding transit enough to elect politicians with that mandate?
How much is air travel down?

For any of these things, how much is due to the state of the economy rather than fuel prices?

If we tax gas to get it to $8/gal - Euro levels - do you think a Euro level of car mileage/VMT/transit is enough, or should we be aiming for better?

To get to $8/gal at 3c/mo will take 12 years. How many people make decisions today, based on what they expect in 12 years? How many people expect to even be driving the same car in 12 yrs?

I think, to get the effect that we would all like to see, a more aggressive program, is needed. The full amount of the tax must come into effect within the period that someone will own the car they are about to buy. So I would say 5-8 yrs, max.

Staying with the them of a gas tax (as opposed to my [referred import tariff), my suggestion would be to announce the tax, now, to come into effect in 2013, and it will be a $0.50 increase, Jan 1 2013, and increasing by 50c/yr, an Jan 1, each year, for the next six years. Non-oil fuels (ethanol, LPG, biodiesel, CNG, methanol, etc) are all exempt.

This will provide a focal point each year and a sense of urgency. Otherwise, a monthly rising tax is too imperceptible to make most people pay much extra for a high mileage (or electric) car, and it is an administrative pain for all involved.

I would also have two incentive programs relating to existing cars;
1. The cash for clunkers - pay to get any pre- 2000 car off the road - rebate is NOT dependent on buying a new one -only on retiring the old one.
2. Pay the $7500 rebate for EV's to any pure EV conversion of a 2000 or newer car, and half for a PHEV conversion with at least 40 miles electric range.

Both these programs END when the tax stops rising.

And finally, bring the heavy duty pickups into the CAFE rules, instead of exempting them. Any vehicle with a crew cab, that or that does not have a flat bed tray, or cube van body - i.e. a normal PU box, is considered a light vehicle and so does not qualify for any "commercial vehicle" tax breaks.

Probably a few more things we can think of...

A number of long term changes resulted from the $1/gallon increase.

A number of car and SUV models were discontinued. A shift in buyer preferences.

MANY fuel inefficient airplanes were retired and overall capacity cut about 10%.

A profound shift against "extreme commutes" and the housing "drive till you qualify".

And a general shift in attitudes.

I see very few, if any, problems with weekly or monthly increases in gas taxes. MUCH bigger problems with implementing big once a year tax increases (massive shift past point where taxes are collected a few days before). Computers are useful.

Add oil price variability and the rise in oil prices will be noticed - and the knowledge of more to come will affect world views.

Used cars are sold. Buying a gas guzzler today means selling it for little more than scrap value in 6 years. A fact most will recognize (as will leasing companies).

Why pay to scrap pre-2000 cars ? The logic truly escapes me.

No rebate for a 2005 Hummer and pay to scrap my 1982 Mercedes 240D manual transmission (28 to 30 mpg in the city - real mpg) ?

There are many small, mostly Japanese, cars built before 2000 still running.

Best Hopes for Debate,


"Promoters of electric cars need to be aware of where their power is coming from."

I would contend that I actually promote riding a bicycle as the cleanest method of reducing CO2. Of course, reducing red meat consumption is even more critical.

Wasnt their a diet that said people should only eat meat. LOL. See that is a problem.

Ancient glacial melting process similar to existing concerns about Antarctica, Greenland

An analysis of prehistoric "Heinrich events" that happened many thousands of years ago, creating mass discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean, make it clear that very small amounts of subsurface warming of water can trigger a rapid collapse of ice shelves.

The findings, to be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide historical evidence that warming of water by 3-4 degrees was enough to trigger these huge, episodic discharges of ice from the Laurentide Ice Sheet in what is now Canada.

US sets drought monitor's 'exceptional drought' record in July

The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, said an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nearly 12 percent of the contiguous United States fell into the "exceptional" classification during the month, peaking at 11.96 percent on July 12. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor's 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC.

... To examine current and archived national, regional and state-by-state drought maps and conditions, go to http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

10 or 20 years from now this will be considered the 'salad days'

I'm at my wit's end from all this heat and humidity in the DC area. I've raised Giant Silkmoths every summer for almost 25 years and these past two summers have been out of control as I tend to them for about 2 hours every afternoon. There's no getting used to this heat, literally within seconds of stepping outdoors I have sweat soaking through my shirt. The leaves on all my Tulip and Oak trees are starting to yellow and fall due to drought, it's a disaster.

I even lost an entire gene line of Eacles Imperialis caterpillars that I had since I was a kid to heat death on the recent day that the heat index hit 121.

If this is just a sign of things to come then humans living in the SE are truely screwed.

A month of 100F days here in OK now, with more, hotter days on the way. Of course, it was about like this in '5/35, and '56 was bad, and IIRC '85 or '86 was too. If this is a 20-year max, then no biggie. If it sets a record, that's something. If it ratchets up year after year, it'll be bad fast. No way crops are going to do well.

I've been in three areas of the country with three different combinations of heat/humidity this month -- all yielded a heat index of about 110. Today, though, it was 110 before heat index was added.

Sen Inhofe should be forced to endure this without air conditioning. I lived in OK as a child and summers were hell then. Don't even want to think about what it's like now.

Just went for a walk. 10:30 at night, still air and 94F. 60% humidity. Not exactly refreshing.

Still, it's perfectly survivable with AC. I did it as a kid without, and did fine too. Stay in the shade, drink a lot of water, and go slowly.

Sen Inhofe should be forced to endure this

It is hoax to believe that Sen. Inhofe is one of us, a human.
Skeptics have long known that his knees buckle the wrong way.
Remember that movie about aliens who come to Earth to Tera-form it to their liking (hot)?
Well,Inhofe is one of them.
Don't let them know you know, cause then bad things may happen to you.

Excuse me. There's someone at my front door.

(Faintly heard in background: "Who are you? No. Oh no ..." screams fade to silence.)

I've seen that movie.

I've seen your movie too, thanks.

Actually, what I had in mind was The Arrival (now that I looked it up):

Confronting Phil at the JPL, Zane is able to get them alone outside and threatens him into confessing that the aliens are planning to kill off the human race during the next 10 years by using accelerated global warming. Once the human race has been annihilated, the aliens will then take over Earth for their own habitat.

How about the aliens gain control of the financial system and so gain ownership of the planet.

Last summer in DC either tied for the hottest summer on record or was the hottest summer on record - I don't remember. So far this July was the hottest month on record in DC, I'm not sure if we're going to break the record for hottest summer, or even how they measure that. On the other hand, two winters ago we set the record for the snowiest winter of all time. Seems like it's one extreme or the other these days. Maybe it'll just settle down in a year or two, at least that's what I'm hoping.

Another part that makes it worse for me is that I commute via motorcycle all year long (at least as long as there's no snow on the ground). So there's no escape from the heat with a full motorcycle suit on. Granted that is sort of self-imposed, I could just drive my car with AC.

But you are correct, we have had temperatures this high before during the dust bowl, and then things cooled drastically in the 1980s. Another year or two like this and I'd expect to see larger numbers of trees and crops dying.

"Seems like it's one extreme or the other these days."

Both 'extremes' are part of the same trend--more heat in the atmosphere. It's just that in the winter that heat evaporates more from the ocean which of course becomes snow (because it is, after all, winter).

Eventually, GW will probably banish winter from your area, but in the mean time expect snowier winters, on average.

And summers will become more and more unbearable--hotter and more humid--until it is actually deadly to spend much time in un-airconditioned spaces during the hottest times (look up 'wet-bulb temperature').

Another commentator concurs ... worth a read

The Storm that Wasn't

I’m no meteorologist, but am a keen observer of weather trends. Moreover, an old saw Mom told me years ago says, “You know you’re getting old if you swear the weather is changing.” ...

A whole tropical storm just dried up and faded away. Definitely an ominous sign.

So much for drought relief, and the South in on pace for a deadly drought this year. They need the hurricanes/storms badly.

From the article :-

"What I remember about summers, growing up in middle TN, was the prevalence of thunderstorms, yeah, most nights here, then, were like the fourth of July, even if you didn’t get a rain on your yard, there would be lightning in the distance, “heat lightning," the old-timers called it. Summers were hot and muggy, but the mugginess produced rains with regularity, sometimes daily, as if on cue, as the subtropical climate mimicked that of the tropics."

Sortof describes what we are experiencing in Northeast Illinois... weather systems moving north...

July was among hottest, wettest for Chicago area

I know what you are talking about. In summers past the Southeast US used to be covered with what were called "popcorn thunderstorms". Little puffy, diurnal, air mass showers that formed during most hot summer afternoons.

Look at a few ancient 1980 and earlier satellite photos (Jun-Aug) and it won't take long to come across them.

You don't see em' anymore.

What is troubling is that this climate shift was suppose to occur in the 2070-2099 timeframe - not now.

Just figure out a way so that 70% of the spending isn't wasted on overhead. Because if Humans can't figure out a way to do something where 70% isn't wasted - is there a point to doing it?

Oddly, this has been an exceptionally nice summer for New Orleans.

Hot and Humid is a given. But afternoon thunderstorms give many hours of decent weather and after a hot, dry May and June we are back into one of the nicer summers in memory.

We spent July in the Gulf weather system and not the mid-continent system.

Best Hopes down here,


Jim Cramer interviewed Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake, this afternoon. Cramer finished by saying that Chesapeake may have more upside than any other stock he follows.

Of course, we had this invaluable 2008 recommendation from Cramer regarding Bear Stearns:


This reminds me of your "stage 2" ELM, where you say the exporter no longer makes more money from the depleting exports, even though the price is rising. In this case, we are all the importer.

wt - You've reminded me I still owe you the production history of all the Eagle Ford wells. I'll get it to you in an Excel SS today. Sorry about the delay - more brain cells running off the cliff every day.

I was primarily focused on Chesapeake's DFW Airport Lease. Does about 72 BCF in total production to date and about one BCF per month (33,000 MCF/day, or 33 MMCF/day) sound about right?

Note that Chesapeake was using an upper end estimate of one TCFE (inclusive of liquids) for total ultimate production from the lease.

The lease bonus was $185 million, for 18,000 acres. In addition to this they had seismic costs plus drilling, completion, operating and surface infrastructure costs (in a very expensive to operate area). I would guess that Chesapeake's loss on this deal is probably in the $100 million plus range, maybe hundreds of millions.

Excerpt from a 2007 Chesapeake press release:
(m = thousand below and M above = 1,000)

Chesapeake Announces First Natural Gas Production from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Lease with Initial Sales of 30 mmcfe Per Day from First 11 Barnett Wells

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

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

Since commencing 3-D seismic operations in December 2006 and drilling operations in May 2007, Chesapeake has employed five drilling rigs on a continuous basis at the airport and anticipates maintaining that level of activity through 2011, at which time the company should have completed drilling its planned 300 - 325 wells. To date, Chesapeake has initiated drilling activities on 33 wells, has started completion activities on 18 wells and is selling natural gas from 11 wells. Chesapeake hopes to reach a peak production level from the airport lease of approximately 250 mmcfe per day by year-end 2011 and expects production to continue for at least the next 50 years.

Edit: Got some more data from Art Berman. Looks like peak production rate was 77 MMCF/day in 10/09. In 5/11, they were down to 32 MMCF/day. So, an annualized decline rate of about 55%/year. Probably a generous estimate for URR is about 100 BCF, about 10% of Chesapeake's best case. What do you estimate that it cost them to drill and complete these wells?

wt - Yep...found all the DFW wells on Drilling Info. I'll include those also. With Excel you can just graph yourself into a coma.

Maybe the following was a typo, ". . . (Chesapeake) expects production to continue for at least the next 50 years," and they meant to say 50 months.

Note that if we use 312 projected wells, with expected production of one TCFE, at $2/MCF cost, Chesapeake was assuming a total cost per well of about $6.4 million. I would guess that drilling and completion costs may have fallen, but fixed costs had to be allocated to a smaller number of wells. So, for the sake of argument, if we assume about $6.4 million per well, with estimated URR of about 1.1 BCFE per well, it would appear that they spent about $6 per MCFE, which is probably a conservative estimate.

Note that just the lease bonus was about $2 million per completed well.

wt - back in the day when I was at Devon that $6 figure was one wispered about. That's why they paid $40 million to cancel contracts of 14 rigs in E Texas when NG dropped below $6.

A better way to connect solar, wind to the grid

The 50-kW power block is modular, so the same power block can be used for multiple technologies. It's also scalable, so two or more can be connected to create a larger power converter without having to redesign a system. It also doesn't need any external DC filtering capacitors, further lowering the cost. "It makes the inverter a lot cheaper for many technologies, because you don't have to custom-design the DC filtering," Kroposki said.

"The manufacturer can easily build an inverter based on our power block," Kramer said. "They just have to integrate the power block into their product. Until now, the inverter manufacturers have to build every inverter from scratch. They still have to add filters and protections and so forth, but we give them a large part of the inverter that is already integrated and tested."

That's awesome, Seraph. It's things like this, applying Henry Ford's ideas together with a few modern ones to PV power production, that are going to pull the cost below that of coal-fired power.

The power block was designed to be highly reliable and to use high-volume parts, Kramer said. "The goal from the beginning was to develop a modular inverter that could be used in many applications so it can be produced in high volume, thus reducing the cost for renewable applications."

I'm starting to get quite optimistic about PV.

Nigeria's oil minister says onshore oil fields past peak:

Nigeria says onshore oil assets falling by 10-12 pct
Mon Aug 1, 2011 7:10pm GMT

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's onshore oil reserves are declining by 10-12 percent a year as ageing fields pass peak production and investment in new projects slows, the country's oil minister said on Monday.


Worst news I have heard in months.

Follow Indonesia or perish: Reality facing Malaysian palm oil industry

Looking from outside, it looks as if 1 million Malaysian oil palm small holders are against sixty thousand Orangutans; the latter on the verge of extinction and the former pride-of-the-evolution continuing its march of dominance.

And the march continues. We are competing with every other large species on earth for resources and territory... and we are winning... big time. As our population marches upward the population of other species marches downward, many into complete extinction. Orangutans, as a living species, are not long for this world. All other great apes, except one, Homo colossus, will soon follow.

Ron P.

Not proud to be a part of this species. What good are our bigger brains. Bring on the alien predators.

‘Dire’ Finances Force R.I. City Into Bankruptcy

Central Falls, Rhode Island’s poorest city, sought Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection as it struggles to meet pension obligations.

A petition was filed today after state officials failed to persuade police, fire and municipal employee unions to accept concessions and to get retirees to agree to lower benefits, according to a statement from Robert Flanders, a former state Supreme Court justice named to oversee the city’s finances. The city asked the court to permit the rejection of union contracts.

“The current situation is dire, and necessitates decisive steps to put the city back on a path to solid financial footing and future prosperity,” Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent who joined Flanders in announcing the move today, said in the statement.

Central Falls, a city of about 18,000 located about 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) north of Providence, is the fifth municipality to enter bankruptcy this year, compared with six in all of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The filing followed last week’s move by lawmakers in Jefferson County, Alabama, to postpone a vote on proceeding with what would be the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy.

"6 miles (9.7 kilometers) north of Providence"
I thought that area was called Massachusetts. :)

I'm getting scared. The governments (at all levels) are having a hard time coping with the economics of the current recession. There is simply not enough to go around. So, they bicker about who gets to keep BAU, because somebody needs to loose. And this is just the effects of the plateau! Wait until people feel the down slope.

It's been "musical chairs" for decades. The unemployed rarely are rehired, and never at their old salary. We've been pushing the little guys off the train right and left, with a few token Madoffs.

WOW! it didn't take the "speculators" long to start spending our new national credit limit. I wonder how much credit we will need to keep BAU next year?

I keep thinking of that great like from the movie "Jaws". "We're gonna need a bigger boat!"

My "Thelma & Louise" contribution to a recent ASPO-USA article:

ASPO-USA asks: “What are we missing?” - Part 3

“Thelma and Louise” is an American movie that ends with the two main characters committing suicide by driving off the edge of a cliff. I’ve often thought that this cinematic moment is an appropriate symbol for the actions of many developed OECD countries that are in effect borrowing money to maintain or increase current consumption. The central problem with this approach is that as my frequent co-author, Samuel Foucher, and I have repeatedly discussed, the supply of global net oil exports has been flat to declining since 2005, with “Chindia” taking an ever greater share of what is (net) exported globally. Chindia’s combined net oil imports, as a percentage of global net exports, rose from 11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009.

At precisely the point in time that developed countries should be taking steps to discourage consumption, many OECD countries, especially the US, are doing the exact opposite, by effectively encouraging consumption. Therefore, the actions by many OECD countries aimed at encouraging consumption in the face of declining available global net oil exports can be seen as the OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff. I suppose that the “winner” could be viewed as the first country that can no longer borrow enough money, at affordable rates, to maintain their current lifestyle. So, based on this metric, Greece would appear to be currently in the lead, with many other countries not far behind them.

Europe on Brink of 'Major Financial Collapse': Guggenheim CIO

"They keep throwing more and more liquidity at it thinking it's going to get better and it's not," he added. Europe fails to recognize that it has a "structural problem, not a liquidity problem."

People will "flee the euro" unless they find a way to bifurcate the euro in some way where strong countries are in the euro only and the weak countries are out, Minerd explained, adding, "To be honest with you, I don't see the mechanism to do that."

First Russian tornado:

The Blagoveshchensk tornado is being called one of the strangest weather events in recent memory as meteorologists study the freak Russian tornado. This is the first time in recorded history that a tornado has struck a Russian town.


...but at least Russians are unlikely to ever see another tornado in their lifetimes.

Is it freak phenomenon or the 'new normal'? I'm betting the Russians will be seeing more than one more tornado in their lifetimes.

Russia has been having tornadoes as long as anyone can remember. Which for most people is now less than 24 hours. So yes, tornadoes are the new normal like mountains of debt that can never be repaid.

Most Americans will only see one tornado in their lives.

I find the slant of the reporting "Russia has never had a tornado" to be dubious at best. Large land mass, hot and cold air with various water content.....

I find this:Russian, малый смерч (dust devil). So its not like the "small" version is unknown.

Most Americans will only see one tornado in their lives.

You just have to be in the right place. I talked to someone from Oklahoma who said he was sitting on his front porch one day, and saw five tornadoes pass between his farm house and the farm house next door. He was used to them so he didn't get excited or go down to his tornado shelter.

Of course Russian has had tornadoes (although probably not as many as many as Oklahoma), the Russians just didn't talk about them.

1904 Moscow tornado

The 1904 disaster started as a thunderstorm in Tula region. It travelled northward, passing through eastern suburbs of Moscow into Yaroslavl region. When the cloud approached remote Moscow suburbs, it formed a tornado funnel, destroying suburban settlements and Lefortovo district within the city itself....

Total damage is estimated at 3,000 single-family homes, while the loss of life was not properly counted. The disaster occurred in the middle of the Russo-Japanese War, and clearing the rubble and counting the bodies was not a top priority; police reports and formal damage assessments were not published due to war-time censorship.

We had tornadoes in Alberta when I was a kid, too. Nobody reported them until people started building trailer parks in their path. When a black funnel cloud came down and stirred up the dust a bit, maybe flattened a bit of the wheat crop, people just looked at it and said, "Hey! Isn't that weird? I wonder what that is?"

Coming up at 11:00 EDT on the Diane Rehm Show:

Environmental Outlook: Can We Adapt to Climate Change?

Political debate aside, an increasing number of environmental scientists believe unprecedented change in our climate is coming. The future they envisage is one where wars fought over food and water and spiking oil prices are the norm. This, together with dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps, widespread drought and loss of biodiversity will bring humanity to the brink of collapse. It’s a grim scenario, but according to my guests today, this threatened global and economic crisis could actually pave the way for enormous positive change. As part of our Environmental Outlook series we look at how it may be possible not just to adapt to climate change, but embrace it.
Paul Gilding

author, former executive director of Greenpeace International and founder of the environmental consulting firm ECOS.
Amy Seidl

author and lecturer in Environmental Studies, University of Vermont.
Michael MacCracken

chief scientist, Climate Institute.

Might be interesting...

"... it may be possible not just to adapt to climate change, but embrace it."

Jeez, now we have the old "lay back and enjoy it" argument. Happy-happy, joy-joy!

I'm with Ron on this one; it's a bit crazy to look for silver linings to an ongoing mass extinction, "embracing" the results of our evolutionary 'superiority'. Sure...

What's next? "We now have an opportunity to bio-engineer an entirly new variety of flora and fauna, uniquely pre-adapted to changing conditions on planet Earth, filling the niches left vacant by conventional evolution's inability to cope with rapid change: Truly the next step in our own evolution...."

It seems we've already got a good start on that one too.

Yeah, that guy was a clown. Ol' Diane usually gets better guests on her show. Though Amy Seidl was fairly coherent, I thought.

I suppose it all depends on having the right attitude!

Thanks for that, Martin :-) That's why I have my dogs....

Things are looking even brighter, at least according to this journalist, who's taken Monty Python as gospel:

What's left to trust in the world of money?

If even US Treasuries are now regarded as a credit risk, is there anything left at all in the world of money that can be trusted?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no, but far from being a calamitous conclusion to reach, this might be viewed as a positive development which will in time restore market disciplines to a global monetary system which became based on make believe.

There you have it, financial collapse is a godsend. I don't know what these guys are smoking, but its use seems to be spreading.

Tropical storm "Emily". Not currently predicted to reach hurricane status but possible Florida landfall.

Fixes from the Air Force plane this morning indicate that Emily has been meandering and may be reorganizing near the deep convection. However...the cyclone should resume a west to west-northwest track at about 10 knots today. A deep mid-level trough is forecast to develop over the western Atlantic as the subtropical ridge shifts eastward. This pattern should force Emily on a more west-northwest to northwesterly track over the next 3 days with a turn to the north thereafter. Most of the track guidance agrees with this general scenario. The official forecast is very similar to the previous one and close to the model consensus.

This time of year, we pray that one of these storms will move into the southern Appalachians and just park here. It used to be the norm every couple of years. Considering the record ongoing droughts in some areas, I suppose many folks would welcome Emily about now.

Check out the heat wave in the center of the US. That is a monster area. Hoping for some moisture and relief.

Euro faces meltdown in the August heat
There has to be a good reason to keep euro leaders at their desks in the holiday month of August – this year there is

Here we go again. Wheeee!!

Yes, and who said summer is dull in the news department? Not when you have the debts of August.

Are some nations too big to fail?

"In the end the best way to get out of debt is to grow out of it," argues Schubert. "Strong economic growth raises revenues.... and in some cases reduces expenditure needs. That is by far the least painful way to end the debt crisis."

Where all that growth will come from is unclear. We are, in a sense, navigating uncharted waters.

There seems to be a growing realization among media and politicos alike that "growth" - the economists' universal panacea - is proving elusive.

An interesting thesis about the current state of the economny is that supply in the oil market is so tight that any significant economic growth would push prices high enough to bring the economy crashing down again. Unfortunately, our political leadership has been so inept that they're managing to bring the economy crashing down again all on their own, so we're not really able to test that thesis.

There seems to be a growing realization among media and politicos alike that "growth" - the economists' universal panacea - is proving elusive.

Now maybe they'll connect the dots between the cost of (oil) energy in OECD countries and growth/recession. Below a certain price = growth and above = recession. Then all they have to do is realize the cheap stuff is gone, and they'll have an 'ah ha' moment of knowing we are in a permanent recessionary rut, until this slow collapse accelerates into oblivion. That should make for an interesting article (they'll keep to themselves) once they get all that.

Another human that is not smarter than yeast.

Growth will go to the low cost countries (China, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Bulgaria, Belarus, etc...) not the high cost countries (US, EU, Japan, Canada, Israel, Abu Dhabi, etc...).

How do you attract growth to a high cost country? You would have to use money as a subsidy or use force to compel. The subsidy money would run out soon. Maybe the use of military force can compel corporations to do what is not in their best interests.

Arctic oil spill cleanup impossible one day in five: energy board report

A newly released report commissioned by Canada’s energy regulator has concluded that clean-up efforts for an offshore oil spill in the Arctic could be impossible at least one day in five because of bad weather or sea ice.

And a spokesman for one environmental group said that a recent U.S. study suggests even that figure could be underestimating the risk.

A newly released report commissioned by Canada’s energy regulator has concluded that clean-up efforts for an offshore oil spill in the Arctic could be impossible at least one day in five because of bad weather or sea ice.

That would be significant if Canada had any Arctic offshore oil wells. I worked for a company that ran a drilling fleet of 26 ships up there for decades, spent billions of dollars, and found pretty much nothing worth producing.

It's something to worry about if you are running into a severe shortage of other things to worry about, I guess.

U.S., Saudis to Discuss Nuclear Agreement

"We have offered to send a team to discuss with Saudi officials the kinds of nuclear activities that would be allowed" under the memorandum of understanding, said a senior U.S. official.

The official added that the Obama administration hasn't yet entered into formal negotiations with Saudi Arabia about nuclear cooperation, but that the U.S. wants to gain a better understanding of Saudi plans and intentions.

also US, Saudi Arabia to discuss nuclear cooperation

Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the United States in 2008 during a visit by then president George W. Bush that would give the kingdom access to enriched uranium -- meaning, unlike Iran, it would not need to master the nuclear fuel cycle.

What could possibly go wrong?

S - Tin foil hat time: maybe that's the plan. Build nukes in the KSA and then when it "becomes unstable" the US can send in a Marine Expeditionary Force to "save the world". Worked in Iraq and Afg. Kinda. Well...whatever.

I've asked the pro-nukers to justify their love in the KSA - every one of 'em has went silent on TOD.

If Fission power is so wonderful - why shouldn't KSA get some of that?

(and as far as Marine Expeditionary Force - one 'geopolitick wunderkin' was claiming KSA was sucking up to Pakistan to get under its Nuclear Umbrella. My memory is of a tale post WWII of some administration parking the Navy off the coast of KSA and having a chat with the king. Alas, I could not find such a tale being retold but I did find the "Eisenhower Doctrine" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisenhower_Doctrine Carter Doctrine, Eisenhower Doctrine - how many Doctrines are there and what is the Obama Doctrine?)

Eric I don't think that there was any need for the U.S. to park its Navy off the coast of the KSA in Eisenhower's time. I suspect that they had come too an understanding well before then. Rooservelt stopped off in Egypt after the Yalta conference in 1945 and met the Saudi King. There was certainly some sweet deal because the Americans in the middle of the war minted I don't know how many millions of gold Saudi Rials. As far as I know they are still at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Omman. Most likely had got the reports of the drilling that was still going on in the Eastern province during the war and they were trying to keep them sweet. It must of been something important because why would the President of the most powerful country in the world waste his time sucking up too a desert Nomad at a most important stage of the war

In order to have oil to export and make money KSA is going big into nuclear. It is good for them. It is good for oil importers.

If they install enough they can make synthetic fuels and export those also. They will be able to export for as long as the nuclear fuel lasts (60 year for U235, 3000 year for fast neutron U238, 24,000 for thorium breeders).

If they install enough they can make synthetic fuels and export those also.

Just curious but how do you make synthetic fuels out of sand?

Ron P.

Carbon from CO2 in the air and H from H2O in sea water. To make CH4.

CO2 in air at 350-400ppm is far too diffuse. You find a concentrated source of CO2, like, say, and oil refinery, a power station or an NG processing plant. They have a few of those.
Can even use a coal fired power plant if need be - after all, you are reusing the CO2...

In order to have oil to export and make money KSA is going big into nuclear. It is good for them. It is good for oil importers.

I can't be the only one who thinks that more Saudi eletricity means more Saudi electrical consumption, can I? Bigger houses, more industry, stronger air conditioning, more desalination...

More energy more prosperity! Yes!

If they can build nuclear reactor at a rate faster than their population increases and faster than their prosperity increases then they can grow their export business. If they have enough energy and enough time they can build their economy to the point where they do not need imports and hence do not need exports.

Would KSA phase out oil-driven electric power? That is the question.

That has to be the goal of this whole exercise.

Nuke power can be cheaper compared to coal and NG, but compared to oil it is *really* cheap. If they are going to build one, they night as well keep going until all the oil for electricity is displaced.

Nukes also produce huge amounts of heat that can be used for desalination, and KSA has been looking at this for some years now.

They just have to hope that none of the conflicts that spring up all around them spill over their borders, that's all...

Maybe a really high wall with a helipad and a small navy on the coast to bring in food and supplies to the Nuke plant once the locals get upset should be part of the design. Just being sarcastic of course. Hope they replace oil use for electricity and desalination. The nuclear option may be all that is left.

As Jokuhl mentions below, you would think that if there is anywhere in the world where a large investment in solar would be worthwhile, it would be here.

A properly set up solar thermal system would also use the steam condensers for desalination, and they certainly have no shortage of desert land there.

I think this method of doing solar thermal, now in use at Bakersfield producing steam for EOR, has some real promise - I like their "anti" approach to big engineered structures - they have achieved many economies of cost and improvements in reliability in doing so.


What's that expression ... 'I got a b-baadd feeling about this one'

But why? What about the proposal bothers you?

The multi-year build process? The even more year teardown? The need for cooling water in a location not known for cool or water?

Or the human-interaction level with reactors being an asymmetric 'terror/war' target as an example.

Four Korean nukes are going into the United Arab Emirates. Koreans are to operate them.

In KSA, the best place is a likely a deserted place on the Red Sea coast, with mountains behind the plant and not much nearby on the coast.

Looking forward, Saudi Arabia either has to find massive geothermal resources or go nuke.
Coal is an intermediate option.

I read where last June, they were burning 1.2 million b/day for electricity. Hotter today.

Best Hopes for Arab Nukes,


What about solar?

But in either case, I wonder how big a pop is going to be heard as their oil money vanishes.. or will they manage to hold that wealth somehow? I kind of doubt they will retain a very big economy once crude dries up.

The Family will pack up and leave the Kingdom and live where there money is.

What unemployment problem?

Taiwan's Foxconn to use one million robots by 2014

Taiwan IT giant Foxconn -- hit by a spate of suicides at its Chinese plants -- plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in the next three years, state media reported Monday.

Foxconn currently has 10,000 robots doing painting, welding and assembly tasks. It will increase that number to 300,000 next year and to 1,000,000 in 2014, the report said.

also Researchers give robot ability to learn (w/ Video)

… Being able to learn means that the robot can be programmed with just a very basic set of pre-knowledge that is then built upon for as long as the robot exists, without additional programming; not unlike how human beings … . The robot has an advantage though, because not only is it able to learn from its own experiences, but from others as well all over the world. This is because it can be connected to the internet where it can research how to do things, just as we humans already do. But, in addition to that it could conceivably also learn from other robots just like it that have already learned how to do the thing that needs doing. [see The Forbin Project ]

The lessons the first robot has learned over time would allow him to adapt, and that’s why this breakthrough is so important, because it means given enough time and experience, robots may soon finally be able to do all those things we’ve been watching them do in science fiction movies, and likely, more.

Just thinking

[From the movie A.I. -2001 … Those were the years when the icecaps melted due to the greenhouse gases and the oceans had risen and drowned so many cities along all the shorelines of the world. Amsterdam, Venice, New York forever lost. Millions of people were displaced. Climate became chaotic. Hundreds of millions of people starved in poorer countries. Elsewhere a high degree of prosperity survived when most governments in the developed world introduced legal sanctions to license pregnancies. Which was why robots, who were never hungry and did not consume resources beyond those of their first manufacture were so essential an economic link in the chain mail society.

… They made us too smart, too quick, and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us.]

Once the robots get connected to the internet they'll discover porn and web blogs and their productivity will go all to hell. Just sayin'

That's what the pleasure 'mecha' are for.

Once the robots get connected to the internet they'll discover porn and web blogs and their productivity will go all to hell.

Or, once the place is full of robots and they are all sick of their boring work, maybe they will start to commit suicide too...

did not consume resources beyond those of their first manufacture

Ah... perpetual motion machines.

What company will supply the million robots? I assume it is a Chinese company otherwise they would be too expensive.

From a quick google: (http://www.therobotreport.com/index.php/industrial_robots), for light industrial (board stuffing, soldering and testing, and small item assembly), maybe Epson.

If you want robotic precision, reliability, and durability, I guess you go to the Germans or the Japanese. Or the Koreans, the Danes, the Turks, ... or all of the above.

But who knows? Maybe Hon Hai (a.k.a. Foxconn) are planning to get into the robot-making business themselves. It's a growth industry. (There's that g-word again. ;-) )


Instead I think of:Skynet

From Army.mil DoE, Army alliance underlines achieving energy security

DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich., Aug. 2, 2011 -- As the price of oil continues to fluctuate and the Nation searches for fuel-efficiency and an energy future independent of foreign oil, the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of the Army are collaborating to address this pressing national security issue.

... "We have to break out of this," stressed U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "We have to invest in a clean energy future that will break our dependence on oil and diversify our transportation sector." ... "Those countries that develop the most efficient technologies will have a world market," Chu stated. "If we don't get moving, we'll be importing these new technologies rather than exporting them."

"We would like to imagine an Army base that, a few years from now, may operate on geothermal power, have buildings and structures powered by solar panels and is attached to microgrids where we plug in electric vehicles to store energy," explained Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment Katherine Hammack. "A base that's able to complete its mission if our nation's fragile grids get hit with human or natural threats. [for 'mission' see crowd control]

Not too much talk about letting the citizens consumers in on the energy crisis thingy.

There is a startup company Flibe Energy that plans to provide thorium fueled nuclear reactors to the 200 US army bases so they are secure from the fragile and unreliable consumer grid. The military regulates is self on nuclear reactors no NRC involvement.

If the military needs its own energy supplies should it also have its own food supply? Each base can have its own farm. I believe they already have their own hospitals. How about their own schools?

If BAU can not be preserved for the whole population then a triage where BAU is preserved for the army and the leadership would be the choice of the army and the leadership.

I believe Executive Orders (plus guns) allows the military to go and grab what food they want.

Here's a shocker - API reports a 3.3 million drop in oil inventories but 5 million barrels were released from the SPR last week. So the API is saying that without the SPR, inventories would dropped about 8.3 million barrels - which without the SPR would have been one of the largest drops ever.

We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if the EIA confirms this steep fall.

Aug. 2, 2011, 5:02 p.m. EDT
Oil inventories decline 3.3 million, API says

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Crude-oil inventories declined 3.3 million barrels on the week ended July 29, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday. Gasoline supplies added 2.6 million, and supplies of distillates added 1.4 million in the same week, the trade group said. The data comes ahead of official data from the Department of Energy due Wednesday. Analysts polled by Platts estimate crude oil stocks up 2 million barrels, gasoline stocks up 350,000 barrels, and distillates stocks up 1.8 million barrels. Oil futures settled at their lowest in five weeks on Tuesday as concerns about the economy flared up after weak consumer-spending data.


DOE: 6.77 Million Bbls Of US Oil-Sale Crude Oil Delivered As Of Friday


NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Some 22.1% of the 30.64 million barrels of crude oil sold from the government's emergency stockpile has been delivered as of Friday, the Energy Department said.


API ANALYSIS: Crude stocks unexpectedly draw as runs increase

New York (Platts)--2Aug2011/518 pm EDT/2118 GMT

US commercial crude stocks fell an unexpected 3.314 million barrels for the week ending July 29, with a small increase in inputs to refineries behind the draw, an analysis of data released Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute showed.

Analysts polled by Platts were expecting a build of 2 million barrels in crude stocks due to ongoing deliveries from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

But the API does not publish movement of oil in and out of SPR; the US Energy information Administration does.

Based on API's supply/demand balances, US commercial crude stocks should have declined 4.557 million barrels.


Charles - I wonder if it was a timing issue more than any other fact. If refiner X expected to win some of the SPR release they would have to plan to buy more crude they they had scheduled or reduce those planned purchases to adjust for the SPR gain. Not sure of the contract details but if a X didn't want to end up with too much inventory it would cut back on its non-SPR purchases. If it did and the SPR crude was delievered slower than expected that would produce a drop in inventory. Might be even worse if a potential buyer reduced non-SPR purchases and then didn't win any SPR crude.

Nissan says electric car can power family home

TOKYO — Nissan's Leaf electric car can feed power from its battery back into a family home and run appliances for up to two days under a new project the Japanese car-maker unveiled Tuesday.

Using the "Leaf to Home" system, the lithium-ion batteries of the zero tailpipe emission Leaf can be used as an emergency power backup for the home during a natural disaster or a power blackout, Nissan said.

The system works by linking the car via a quick charging port to the house's electricity distribution panel. Power can also be fed the other way if the house generates its own electricity with rooftop solar panels

ERCOT declares Stage One Electricity Emergency in Texas:


Is the US in overshoot? If so, should we go to a zero immigration policy to limit the starvation and death that will come during the die-off?

Let's be precise. Let's hasten the starvation and die-off in MX, and minimize it here. So yes, we should, if self-preservation is the goal.

What does MX stand for?

For me the preservation of my children is my goal.

For me the preservation of my children is my goal.

According to populationmatters Mexico is more self sufficient than the US! At 51.6% (159 million people) not supported in the US and 51.0% (55 million people) not supported in Mexico. I guess if we want to share the pain we should have immigration from the US into Mexico.

If you mean Mexico I will take a note of that.


Can Planting Vegetables in Vacant Lots Save Cleveland?

By transforming its vacant lots, backyards and roof-tops into farming plots, the city of Cleveland could meet all of its fresh produce, poultry and honey needs, calculate economists from Ohio State University. These steps would save up to $155 million annually, boost employment and scale back obesity.

...“No discredit to the value of Grewal’s study,” said Kim Scott, a Cleveland City Planner and urban gardening specialist, “but articulating an idea is a different experience from implementing it.”

While Cleveland might have enough land to be self-sufficient, it doesn’t yet have the labor force to make it happen, Scott said.

Can this be done with robots? Foxconn (above) will use one million robots. There is a company in Cambridge Mass. called Harvest Robotics they seek to bring robots to the agriculture industry. Could citizens also use robots to farm vacant lots?

In future, most people, who will be unemployed, will have plenty of time on their hands to do their own gardening and farming. Besides, they won't have the energy or money to be able to employ robots. We need to get away from the robotic age not enhance it.

With vision systems getting better and better - field robots (Ho-bots. J-wan, thaco and Hey-Zeus ) allow for an X-Y grid to be set up with the between the rows and weeds to be picked, aphids removed via compressed air, water/feed added to the plants that need it, contact poison sprayed/DE on bugs if that's your thing.

110/220 at 15 amps allows for far cheaper power cabling.

The only problem with 'vacant lots' is theft. Of the 'bots for their scrap value and the food.

What would the hourly earnings rate be from this employment? How will it scale back obesity? Do we expect to see 350 pound people out working hard in the sun in their garden? The city planner says the city does not have the labor force. How many will be employed to produce the 155 million annually? 2000 at $75,000 per year (not bad). 20,000 at $7,500 per year (do not hold breath). Why are they not already farming? How many unemployed in Cleveland? Why not 8000 people then they can export food.

from the abstract

It is concluded that while high levels of local self-reliance would require an active role of city governments and planners, public commitment, financial investment, and labor, the benefits to human health, the local and global environment, and the local economy and community may outweigh the cost.

"may outweigh the cost" it will be interesting to see if they study group can resolve wither benefits outweigh costs.


This group says there are 104 countries that are in overshoot. Should these countries end immigration until they are able to support their current populations?

"Should these countries end immigration until they are able to support their current populations?"

It depends on who you ask:

Georgia immigration law comes at huge cost to agriculture

Even before it goes into effect next month, Georgia’s new immigration law is having an effect as farm workers flee the state for friendlier environments in other southern states.

Some farmers say they have already lost about one third of their workers and are contemplating moving from labor intensive crops such as berries and lettuce to crops that can be machine harvested such as wheat.

Governor Nathan Deal, a strong proponent of the new law, suggests that farmers should hire ex-cons, many of whom are unemployed in the state.

Ex-cons. It could work....

If farmers can not afford to hire legal labor than it is wise that they move to crops they can economically harvest legally. It is called legal capitalism.

"...and are contemplating moving from labor intensive crops such as berries and lettuce to crops that can be machine harvested such as wheat."

So these farmers, denied their ('illegal labor') migrant workers, are being forced to grow crops that can be produced and harvested by mechanical energy slaves...that run on fossil fuel. Can you say "Peak Oil"? Betcha can! Quite a conundrum we've gotten ourselves into.

Legal migrants are fine. We are talking about illegal migrants. Criminals actively taking part in the commission of a crime.

Maybe it is like debt. The way out of debt is more debt? The way out of overshoot is more overshoot?

Wow, eddie, you are on quite a roll tonight--7 of the last 9 posts as I scroll up here are yours.

Why are you so worried about other people's reproductive and agricultural practices?

Do you have any kids? Do you plan to? Do you have a garden? What is you body weight? Why do you think overweight people cannot garden?

You seem to have quite a large number of issues you need to work through.

Are you seeing anyone about these?

Hydro reservoirs produce less CO2 than believed

Hydroelectric reservoirs emit about one-sixth of the greenhouse gases previously attributed to them, says an international team of scientists.

They emit 48 million metric tonnes of carbon annually, a downgrade from earlier estimates of 321 million metric tonnes, according to a study of 85 reservoirs published in this week's online version of Nature Geoscience.

"Our analysis indicates that hydroelectric reservoirs are not major contributors to the greenhouse gas problem," Jonathan Cole, a limnologist at New York State's Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, said in a release.

"But there are some caveats," he warned. "To date, only 17 per cent of potential hydroelectric reservoir sites have been exploited, and impacts vary based on reservoir age, size, and location."

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/08/02/science-hydro-electri...

And although completely OT, added in the interest of a little levity...

Internet Explorer users have lower IQ says study
Internet Explorer users have a lower than average IQ, according to research by Consulting firm AptiQuant.

The study gave web surfers an IQ test, then plotted their scores against the browser they used.

IE surfers were found to have an average IQ lower than people using Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Users of Camino and Opera rated highest.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14370878

(IE users can download Firefox at: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/fx/)


Clearly Microsoft needs to get a better browser name. Explorer is so dull. The code is terribly slow. It must contain piles of old code from the 90s. Microsoft could go for streamlined code and a great new name like Calypso, Hydra, or something cute and then smart people might use it.

I have to use an on-line database that is written specifically for Internet Explorer. I had never used IE prior to this (only Netscape and, more recently, Firefox) and can't get over how incredibly slow and clunky it is. To call it a dog would be an insult to my canine friends.


Exploiter is to be avoided at all costs.

Microsoft and Apple PC users can download Debian here ;)

No joke Linux does crank. I wish they had a nice citation manager for Linux though. Sadly I end up using Mac OS to then use Endnote most of the time.

The IE thing turned out to be a prank apparently. Doesn't surprise me.

We need to fire more people in order to create more jobs.

There seems to be a general rule for solving problems. Problem X can be solved by more X.

Debt can be solved by more debt.
Overpopulation can be solved by more overpopulation.
Overshoot can be solved by more overshoot.
Unemployment can be solved by more unemployment.
War can be solved by more war.
Revenue storage due to tax cuts can be solved by more tax cuts.
Unemployment caused by free trade can be solved by more free trade.

I think I will go into politics.

I think you are on to something, ed--

Let's extend that a bit:

Violence can be solved with more violence.

Hate can be solved with more hate.

Shadows can be 'solved' by more and deeper shadows being cast upon them...

I bring up the latter, because this is an ancient question, and Boethius long ago concluded that all the dark forces of the world are but shadows. And a shadow is a kind of absence--and absence of light. But too many think that this absence, which some call 'evil,' can be countered by deeper absence, violence, hate, force...

A moments thought can make clear that this is foolishness, but it is the exact kind of foolishness that most of the human world is involved in most of the time.

Unemployment caused by free trade can be solved by more free trade.
I think I will go into politics.


You understand.

Now you too can be one of the "Job Cremators" (We create jobs by destroying jobs)

Investigation Announcement: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Heidelberg Infections

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections that is likely caused by eating ground turkey. Public health investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak. They are using data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics; this antibiotic resistance can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

A total of 77 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 1, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:AL (1), AZ (2), CA (6), GA (1), IA (1), IL (7), IN (1), KY (2), LA (1), MA (1), MI (10), MN (1), MO (2), MS (1), NC (1), NE (2), NV (1), NY (2), OH (10), OK (1), OR (1), PA (5), SD (3), TN (2), TX (9), and WI (3).

Sellafield Mox nuclear fuel plant to close
The mixed-oxide fuel plant will be shut as a consequence of the Fukushima incident, with the loss of about 600 jobs

The closure is a consequence of the Fukushima incident in Japan, in March.