Drumbeat: August 24, 2011

Gas Is Cheaper, but We’re Still Driving Less

MasterCard SpendingPulse put out its weekly gasoline report Tuesday, and demand for gasoline is going south fast. For the week ending Aug. 19, demand for gasoline at gas stations across the country was down by 4.2 percent compared to the same week a year ago. In week-to-week terms, it’s down 0.8 percent, despite the fact that gasoline prices have been edging down lately. In fact, the average price for a gallon of regular was down 4 cents from the week before, but still nearly a third higher than a year ago.

Attack on the Port of Houston Could Cripple US

HOUSTON - What makes the Port Of Houston unique and viable also makes it the perfect target for terrorists.

The port is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the US.

With a refining capacity of 567,000 barrels a day, it is the largest importer and exporter of petroleum and petroleum products in the country.

"The Houston Port provides the majority of energy for the nation and if they could shut down this shipping channel, you could literally cripple the nation and send it into an energy crisis," US Congressman Michael McCaul said.

Obama's big dirty oil test

The Keystone pipeline protests have galvanized the environmental community. Is the president listening?

State Department review to find pipeline impact ‘limited,’ sources say

The State Department will remove a major roadblock to construction of a massive oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas when it releases its final environmental assessment of the project as soon as Friday, according to sources briefed on the process.

Kim chases Russian pipe dream

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il is teaming up with Russia as the pair takes aim at a “bilateral cooperation” on a mooted gas pipeline project.

Brazil Builds $127 Billion "Offshore City" to Harvest Oil in the Deep Sea

Want to get a feel for how crazy the post-peak oil fossil fuels industry is getting? Here's as good an example as any: Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras is about to embark on an unprecedented oil-gathering mission. It's about to attempt to extract 30 billion barrels of oil from reserves that are locked in deepwater sub-salt fields at least 60 miles off the coast and up to five miles underwater. In order to get at the incredibly hard-to-get oily good stuff, Brazil is spending an estimated $226 billion -- and $127 billion will be spent on exploration and production alone.

The product of that venture is already taking shape: a veritable floating "offshore city" has sprung up over 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the coast of Brazil, and it will lead the effort to drill into the deep sea sub-salt.

Learsy: Mexico's Oil Informs the Arab Spring

Something transpired in Mexico that might well have passed unnoticed at another time, but given the events in the Arab world it becomes an omen of hope and healing. Pemex, the Mexican state oil monopoly, for the first time in well over 50 years awarded private production contracts to two companies, thereby fundamentally changing a national policy long held as received gospel -- Mexican oil to be developed by a Mexican national enterprise, period.

The Old Faithful Peak Oil Debate

It is a well known refrain: Peak Oil is always now ! The problem is that nobody noticed, because oil prices are so high and demand growth is almost zero. The ongoing and real economic recession in almost all OECD countries more than "trims" oil demand in these countries, still taking about 45 million barrels a day (Mbd) on a world total demand of about 89 Mbd, depending on estimates, which easily range through + or - 2 Mbd, and vary even more than that for seasonal variations.

These demand and supply variations, in turn, are where the biggest problems lie. If or when Peak Oil really arrives, and supply really falls away, we would have the situation that the quickest glance at the IEA chart, below, indicates. That is a sort of "break in series", which this chart from the IEA places at right now - starting by 2010 and becoming ever more powerful by 2020.

Marin Katusa – Chief Energy Investment Strategist

STEFAN: Now a lot of investors seem to have been driven by peak oil. I have a suspicion about the imminence of peak oil simply because the harder oil gets to find, the more its price is going to go up and the more that’s going to drive markets to look for alternatives. How do you view peak oil and its effects on the economy and investment strategies overall?

MARIN: You have to use it with context. Hubbert came out with the whole concept and Matt Simmons really popularized it five to six years ago. What’s important to understand is it didn’t take into account the unconventional potential and the improvements in technology. Unconventional oil and gas projects like the oil sands in Canada and the shale projects in the US are all now major sources of oil and gas, whereas 20 years ago they were concepts or in early-stage development. Five years ago, no one thought that there would be unconventional shale production in Europe. Well, it’s starting now and that’s going to change the energy dependence of European countries on Russian natural gas.

2011 Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP): An Interview with Kevin Jones, Co-founder & Convener

Our goal is to show that the market in the space between giving and investing, the market at the intersection of money and meaning, was not only real, but that it is big and growing. The problems of the world are too big and coming at us too fast for philanthropy or public sector funds alone to solve them. The market, for profit businesses created to solve a social or environmental problem, are an essential part of the solution. Businesses can move faster than either non profits or public sector and thrive on disruptive innovations that can make big, systemic change. Partnering with donors and public dollars, as we are learning to do, we can all do more. The problems of climate change, peak oil, food security and the demand for economic and political justice require us to deploy all our resources together in order to create a resilient world in which our grandchildren can thrive.

Chamber of Commerce response to Rick Munroe's Review of Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk and author's reply

Many thanks to the Energy Bulletin for posting a Rick Munroe’s review the Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk and giving the Energy Institute the opportunity to respond. We appreciate the spirit in which the criticisms were offered—we want to improve the Index where we can—and I’ll respond in the same spirit.

Instead of addressing each of your comments point-by-point, I think it might be more useful to provide your readers with an explanation of how we approached oil-related issues in the Index.

Study Links El Nino Climate To Civil Wars, Unrest

"We're not trying to explain all the conflicts in the world. What we are trying to show is that the global climate does play a major role where previously people didn't believe that," Hsiang said.

Historian Thomas Homer-Dixon of Canada's University of Waterloo said the research makes sense, noting there are classic cases in ancient history where weather was a factor in wars and downfalls of civilizations. He wrote the book, "Environment, Scarcity and Violence."

Homer-Dixon, who wasn't part of this study, said the new statistics-based analysis jibes with his own firsthand research into causes of internal violence in countries in the past 20 years.

German watchdog presses for reserve power plant

FRANKFURT - Germany's energy network regulator is raising pressure on German states to allow a stand-by power plant to function as a reserve for the winter by a Sept. 1 deadline, and the latest developments point to Baden Wuerttemberg as a likely host.

Germany's hasty decision to pull out of nuclear power left the country's power systems short of some 8,800 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity.

Drought-Baked Fields in U.S. Dimming 2012 Wheat Outlook as Prices Rebound

A yearlong drought from Kansas to Texas has created the driest conditions on record for farmers preparing to plant winter wheat, dimming crop prospects for a second straight year in the U.S., the world’s largest exporter.

Salmonella traced to backyard chicken farms

Raising backyard chickens largely for egg production is a growing urban trend among people who want to get closer to their food, but CDC doctors warn that hobbyists may not realize how common it is for poultry to carry dangerous forms of salmonella.

Brazil boom takes world fuel markets by surprise

(Reuters) - When Brazil discovered huge offshore crude reserves four years ago, state oil company Petrobras sketched out plans to become a regional fuel exporter. That plan has since been turned upside down.

Rapid domestic economic growth and rising fossil fuels use has turned it into a recurrent fuels importer, with occasional gasoline purchases in 2010 evolving into regular imports that may not cease until the end of the decade.

This leaves Brazil following the path of other emerging markets such as China, which upended the oil products markets ten years ago with explosive demand, and the Middle East, where rising incomes have spurred demand growth.

Oil near $85 after mixed US crude supply report

SINGAPORE – Oil prices fell slightly to near $85 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a U.S. supply report gave mixed signs about demand for crude.

...The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories fell 3.3 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 2.0 million barrels.

However, inventories of gasoline jumped 6.4 million barrels last week while distillates rose 2.0 million barrels, the API said.

US imports Saudi oil via Japan

The US is set to start importing crude oil from Saudi Arabia via Japan, in an unusual route that highlights the growing importance of Asian oil supplies for America's Pacific refineries as production from Alaska's North Slope declines.

The US has also become a top importer of "Epso Blend" crude, which Russia started exporting from Siberian oil fields to Kozmino last year.

Oil Rigs Revisit Lehman Crisis as Credit Squeezed for Orders, Acquisitions

The biggest market rout in two years is squeezing credit for oil rig owners in a replay of the crunch that followed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse, said the operator of the second-largest fleet of deepwater platforms.

BP oil spill fund: $5 billion in claims paid out

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The fund to compensate Gulf Coast businesses and residents for damages from last year's BP oil spill says it has paid out $5 billion of the $20 billion set aside for recovery.

Argentine officials demand Petrobras safety plan

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Provincial authorities in Argentina on Tuesday gave Brazil's Petrobras 72 hours to come up with a safety plan for its Bahia Blanca oil refinery following two incidents at the plant this month.

If a plan is not presented within that time frame, they want the facility shut down.

New rules for ocean oil exploration

Environmental impact assessments will have to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) from today for oil and gas drilling in New Zealand's ocean territory, the Government has announced.

Operators will also need to comply with the latest drilling safety rules developed in the United States following the inquiries into the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Shell Declares Force Majeure on Nigeria Bonny Light Crude Oil Exports

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit declared force majeure on its Bonny Light crude oil exports after “several pipeline incidents,” the company said in an e- mailed statement.

Cnooc Net Rises 51%, Helped By Rising Oil Prices

HONG KONG -- Cnooc Ltd., China's largest listed offshore oil and gas producer by capacity, said Wednesday its first-half net profit rose 51% from a year earlier because of rising oil prices and higher oil and gas output.

Libya to honor all Gaddafi oil deals: Jehani

(Reuters) - A Libyan rebel government would honor all the oil contracts granted during the Muammar Gaddafi era, including those of Chinese companies, Ahmed Jehani, a senior rebel representative for reconstruction told Reuters in an interview.

"The contracts in the oil fields are absolutely sacrosanct," Jehani told Reuters Insider TV on Tuesday night.

After the Revolution, Hurdles in Reviving the Oil Sector

HOUSTON — When a new government finally takes hold in Libya, it will have every incentive to get oil production back up and running. But if history is any guide, that task will not be as simple as restarting oil wells and reopening pipelines.

Revolutionary changes in Iran and Iraq set back their oil industries for decades, and President Hugo Chávez has struggled to stabilize oil production over the last decade of radical change in Venezuela. Even relatively peaceful, democratic revolutions can cause great disruptions: the collapse of the Soviet Union sent Russian oil production crashing for years.

Eni Lobbies Rebel Leaders to Maintain Oil Dominance in Libya After Qaddafi

Eni SpA, Italy’s biggest oil company, is lobbying rebel leaders to hold its position as Libya’s top energy producer after the end of Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year regime.

Eni has been in contact with rebel groups throughout the conflict to ensure it doesn’t lose ground to French, U.K. and U.S. companies trying to take advantage of their countries’ air strikes against Qaddafi’s forces, said a person with knowledge of the company’s strategy, declining to be named because the information is confidential.

China turns to Libya rebels, urges "stable transition"

BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged a "stable transition of power" in Libya and said on Wednesday it is in contact with the rebel National Transitional Council, the clearest sign that Beijing has effectively shifted recognition to forces poised to defeat Muammar Gaddafi.

Jeff Rubin: Don’t count on burning Libyan oil just yet With the sudden collapse of the Gadhafi regime in Tripoli, the oil industry is hoping it can repair enough of Libya’s damaged export terminals, pumping stations and pipelines to get as much as one million barrels a day of oil flowing into the market within the next six to 12 months.

But as I have argued before in this blog, regime change in the Middle East has seldom been bullish for energy exports.

Russia's Gazprom May Up Domestic Prices By 15% In 2012 - Report

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom may be allowed to raise domestic prices by 15% in 2012, while prices to be charged by other monopolies only grow in line with inflation, according to the blueprint of a government plan to be introduced next month, Vedomosti newspaper reports Wednesday.

Medvedev insists gas contract with Ukraine must be fulfilled

The existing gas contract between Russia and Ukraine, which Kiev wants to revise to cut prices, must be fulfilled, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

"Speaking of the future, we are ready to consider different options," Medvedev said. "But I'll be frank with you: let Ukraine get us interested, so we are interested in thinking about such cooperation in the future. In this case we may return to discussing terms."

ConocoPhillips says evaluating China spill impact

(Reuters) - A subsidiary of ConocoPhillips said it has started evaluating the impact of its oil spill on the marine environment in China's northern Bohai Bay, but it has not yet received any claims for the incident.

State media have said fishermen in northern China's Hebei Province were preparing to sue ConocoPhillips in connection with the deaths of large numbers of scallops in Bohai Bay.

Japan Triples Airborne Radiation Checks as ‘Hot Spots’ Spread

Japan will more than triple the number of regions it checks for airborne radiation as more contaminated “hot spots” are discovered far from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power station.

Pentagon Quake Nightmare: Fukushima on the Mississippi

In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.

But Tuesday’s earthquake along the East Coast is a reminder that disasters can hit where they’re least expected. And if the nightmare scenario comes, government officials worry that state and federal authorities won’t be able to handle the “cascading failures” that follow. The results of May’s disaster exercise won’t be released to the public. But privately, these government officials say they’re glad that this earthquake was just a drill — and not the big one. Especially because there are so many nuclear power plants in the fault zone.

Dry spell exacerbates SW China's power crunch

GUIYANG - A dry spell plaguing Southwest China that has pushed up electricity demand and crippled hydro-power output is exacerbating the power crunch in the region, officials said Wednesday.

In Guizhou province, power supply is about 120 million kilowatt-hours short of demand on an average day, statistics from the provincial power grid company show. The shortage is caused mainly by the chronical strain in the coal supply and declining hydropower output, officials said.

Hertz to Begin Renting Electric Cars in China

Hertz executives said they planned to announce on Wednesday afternoon in Shanghai that the company would begin renting electric cars to individuals and companies in three Chinese cities, the latest sign of Western interest in working with the Chinese government on advanced technology vehicles.

Renewable Energy Bill Passes Japan’s Lower House of Parliament

Japan’s lower house of parliament approved legislation to subsidize electricity from renewable sources as the country reduces its dependence on atomic energy after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Fuel plant cancels lease

ALBANY -- Plans for a $350 million ethanol plant at the Port of Albany have been scrapped as Congress inches closer to eliminating lucrative tax subsidies for the corn-to-fuel industry.

Bachmann the oil geologist

Bachmann also talked about U.S. oil reserves. “What Barack Obama has done is to lock up America’s energy reserves,” she said. “We’re the No. 1 energy-resource-rich nation in the world. We have more oil in three Western states in the form of shale oil than all the oil in Saudi Arabia.”

Oil companies have spent billions and several decades on the “vast shale oil deposits” in those three western states that she lists as exceeding Saudi Arabia’s reserves. So far that so-called shale oil has produced nothing because it isn’t oil. It’s a very low grade substance called kerogen which nature never got around to cooking into oil.

Global Trade Wars, Smoot-Hawley, and Peak Oil Followup to 12 Predictions from Michael Pettis

I also want to add a note that peak oil (some say "peak everything") will impact China's ability to have an investment led economy based forever expanding infrastructure. Add peak oil to the list of reasons China will slow, whether they like it or not.

Sneak Peak: Oil Age Presentation Script

Below is the script written by Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg for the presentation Post Carbon Institute would like to create for all the hundreds of concerned citizens out there who have asked us over the years for help in educating their neighbors, family, and friends about the end of the oil age. I've adapted the script a bit to include mention of my family, just as presenters will be able to adapt the content and images to reflect personal and community histories.

Collapse scenarios – satire or vision of the future? Part 3

If you are armed with Schumacher’s distinction as your starting point, then the notion of sustainability or the lack of it is front-and-centre in your thinking. Use up nature’s bounty and that’s the end of your secondary production process. Conserve it and you get to stay in business, just as a firm that conserves its capital gets to stay in the game while one that runs through its capital goes bust. If we’d been smart, we would have used the oil discoveries of the 1970s to buy time to shift advanced economies to a sustainable platform. We weren’t smart and we ran through that part of nature’s bounty at a goodly clip.

Richard Heinberg on The End of Growth, with State Rep. Bill Botzow

Richard Heinberg has spent decades exploring how peak oil and other resource constraints will affect industrial societies. In his new book, The End of Growth, Heinberg argues that we seem to be at the point where resource limits prevent a return to growth. On the air, Heinberg explored what to do if nothing we can do will bring back a growing economy.

Vermont state representative Bill Botzow, chair of the House Commerce Committee, joined the conversation to talk about what Vermont can do if economic growth is at an end.

How Higher Energy Prices Will Affect U.S. Agricultural Production

Note that this post is based upon the newly released USDA report, "Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies" by Ronald Sands and Paul Westcott. It focuses upon a subject which interests me greatly, that of how agriculture can adapt to higher energy prices (or less availability).

Algeria Needs To Do More To Build Its Food Security

ALGIERS (Bernama) -- The instability due to climate change and globalisation reinforces more than ever the need to build national food security, General Director of the National Institute of Agronomic Research Fouad Chehat said here on Monday.

"The risks associated with climate change and the globalisation make the need to build a national food security based on the continuous increase in local agricultural production more than ever necessary," Algerian Press Service (APS) quoted Chehat as saying during Algeria-Invest press centre forum.

Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises

In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.

Taking Stock of Campus Sustainability

Colleges and universities across the country have quickly taken to measuring their environmental footprint: energy efficiency, consumption levels, renewable energy targets, number of green buildings, recycling rates, water use and even the prevalence of sustainability curriculums. But in this rush to go green, two of the three sustainability pillars have remained largely in shadow.

Denmark says preparing North Pole claim

(Reuters) - Denmark and its self-governing dependency of Greenland plan to present a seabed claim extending to the North Pole before the end of 2014 against competing claims from other Arctic states, Danish officials said on Monday.

Some good news.

Dominion's North Anna Power Station Restores Offsite Power

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power's North Anna Power Station has restored off-site power, eliminating the need to rely on its back-up generators. The station remains in an Alert, the second lowest of the four emergency classifications of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The station's two nuclear reactors shut down following an earthquake near the station that occurred at 1:51 p.m. EDT today. The reactors shut down automatically and no damage has been reported to systems required to maintain the station in a safe condition. Several aftershocks felt in the region that occurred later today did not affect the station.

As designed, four diesel generators supplied power to the station while the off-site power was unavailable. One of the four generators was taken off-line to repair a generator coolant leak, but a fifth generator at the station was activated to replace it until the offsite power was restored. Repairs are complete to the diesel generator.

The company also inspected the Lake Anna Dam after the earthquake and determined it sustained no damage. Station inspections are continuing to assure no damage has resulted from the seismic event.

For reference, the station's original design limit for peak ground acceleration was 0.12g against a recommended today 0.535g.

Another way than "g" of putting the inadequate earthquake resistance of the Lake Ana Nuclear Station is found at http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/08/one-of-strongest-east-coast-earth... with this characterization:

Indeed, today's quake was 5.9, and nuclear expert Bob Alvarez says that the Lake Anna plant was only built to withstand a 5.9 to 6.1 quake.

And earthquake sensors were previously removed around the reactor due to budget cuts.

And earthquake sensors were previously removed around the reactor due to budget cuts.

Perhaps they should just hack a few Android phones and epoxy them to the structure.


And earthquake sensors were previously removed around the reactor due to budget cuts.

Yes, why would you need sensors to measure? The Earth never moves under your feet, and the sky can't come tumbling down....

(Why is it the pro-nukers never defend these cost cutting actions?)

"(Why is it the pro-nukers never defend these cost cutting actions?)"

For the same reason the anti-nukers never mention the plant survived it's rated design earthquake with no damage. Or that the safety systems worked.

Why would there even be earthquake sensors? And what is an earthquake sensor? An accelerometer? Or just a strain gage? Did they take out an old clunky 1970's system and put in a 1995 system? Something was obviously still in place that tripped the plant off line.

I'd assess the damage by when the plant gets back online. If the damage is minor then the plant should be back online right away. But the plant went offline when it sensed that the power lines went down I believe. There is no mention of any sensors to my knowledge.

1) How long will a thorough inspection take? An inspection that will pass all the doubts.

2) How long does it take to off/on cycle a nuclear power station of this type? Decay products cause issues that can prevent a rapid re-start also thermal cycles etc.

Might not be right away even if there were no issues.


Digging back a few links, the sensors were not part of the reactor complex, but part of an array operated by VTSO, Virginia Tech Seism. Obs., but they have a few items worth noting..

The Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO) is one of the primary sources for data on seismic activity in the central East Coast. In 1963, as part of the worldwide program, seismographs were installed at Blacksburg, and in 1977 several more seismographs were stationed in the Commonwealth and operated by the Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources. Some of these instruments were stationed around the North Anna Nuclear Power plant, but in the 1990’s, due to budget cuts, most of the North Anna sensors were taken off line. Along with other southeastern regional seismic networks and the U.S. National Seismic Network, VTSO contributes to seismic hazard assessment in the southeastern United States and compiles a Southeastern U.S. Earthquake Catalog.

James R. Martin II, director of the Earthquake Engineering Center for the Southeastern United States, has said, “Recent seismological studies suggest that the southern Appalachian highlands have the potential for even larger earthquakes than have occurred in the past. But now those events would take place in much more highly populated areas.” He believes that “we are under a significant threat of large, damaging earthquakes.” Martin goes on to say that earthquakes don’t occur as often in the East as along the West Coast because the tectonic strain rates are different and our region “tends to experience large earthquakes isolated by long periods of quiet.”

There’s another difference. “The earth’s crust is stronger here,” explains Martin Chapman, director of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory. “So shock waves moving from the epicenter of an earthquake don't lose as much energy as during quakes in California. When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurs in the Southeast, the waves affect a larger area and can cause more damage at a greater distance than when a similar shock hits California.”


So who knows whether they tripped from data in their own sensors, or from regional signals, or policy prerogatives.. but they just sustained one just at the size they were built for.. the fact that they got away with it is hardly reassuring. Every system there just got a good bit older and tireder.

The point for me is, if an East Coast reactor hits a Sh!tstorm like Fukushima and melts down, will we have anything better to offer for containment and keeping anybody downwind even moderately safe than the Japanese or the Russians have? Only our exceptionalism, it seems.

Close calls with floods and quakes and even an ongoing disaster like Fukushima aren't enough to wake the loyal engineers from their earnest dream.

.. what could possibly go wrong?

Can I make a humble suggestion to avoid stories like the above entitled:
"Oil near $85 after mixed US crude supply report".

WTI simply is not relevant.
Sometimes a story's gist is that oil prices as a whole is up or down, but in this case it was solely focused on WTI and it carries simply no relevance or significance for world oil prices(not even for most of Americas citizens either).

So why join the MSM in it's bad habits?
On a sidenote, I have seen an uptick in brent-centered articles in recent months, particularly from the British press as well as Retuers and AP.

I would submit that your response to it validates the story's relevance here. We can't counter the MSM's primary focus on the WTI price by simply ignoring it.

Brent at $109.20

T Boone Pickens got really annoyed in an interview on CNBC recently that they kept talking about WTI which he called irrelevant. He managed to sneak in his views on Peak Oil as well.

Bachman: "We have more oil in three Western states in the form of shale oil than all the oil in Saudi Arabia.” Well...now she's done it. You could almost give her a light pass on the $2/gallon fuel prediction since she didn't say the low price wouldn't come along with a badly crashed economy.

But she's fallen in the oil shale trap like a rank amateur. I don't know if Rick "Good Hair" Perry (thanks Molly) understands there is no oil in them there oil shales but he's got staffers who do. And I bet he lays into her big time. After all, he's a Texan so he understands oil a good bit better than that "little lady". Yes...expect a lot of patronizing chauvinism for Good Hair...it's acceptable to many in these here parts. If he and the B lady meet in a debate I'm sure he do all he can to make her eat those word...a no win for her either way.

We'll see if these flubs have legs or not. We might end up marking this week as the beginning of the end of her campaign. I'll be surprised if Big Hair doesn't do his best to make it so. A golden opportunity for him IMHO.

I think you'll be disappointed, Rock.
Perry won't pursue the issue because there's no bang for the buck in the public arena. The public isn't sufficiently literate on the subject of energy; oil supplies, accessible reserves, etc. Perry is sharp enough (or is it more of a "low animal cunning"?) to know that the public will simply tune it all out.

Perhaps jabby. But he needs to take the wind out of her sales as soon as possible IMHO. He's still in a bit of a honeymoon phase as something of an unknown commodity. She wins the straw poll and Good hair gets 3X the MSM coverage at the same time. He needs to do as much as possible to eliminate/diminish the competion. Won't be long before the MSM starts going after his warts big time. Most politicians have trouble playing offense while they're focused on defense. May not happen but If I were running his campaign I'd do all I can to make Bachman's comments her "Pearl Harbor": bomb the heck out of her while she's almost defenseless on the subject of energy. The more the MSM focuses on her the longer Good Hair can avoid the negative spot light.

Look at how much media coverage she's gotten from this.

In politics, name recognition is more than half the game.

People will forget what price she said oil was going to be, but remember that she's been in the news a lot so she must be important...

dohboi - True: can't count on the public to understand tech data. Eyes will glaze over if Perry tries to explain the cracking process to convert kerogen to oil.

OTOH here's a possible scenario for their first debate.

Good Hair: "Little lady...did you know there are hundreds of thousands of acres of privately owned "shale oil" leases that have been available to the oil industry for decades?"

MB: "No there haven't...the Feds have all the shale oil leases locked up".

GH: "Sorry little lady...here's a big map of the western states showing all those shale oil leases that have been available to all the oil companies for decades. In fact, that big green arrow points to the leases Shell Oil has been working for many years trying to recover oil from those kerogen deposits. Unfortunately they've had no success. In fact, they've postponed their first pilot project until 2014...if they go forward at all."

MB: "But if the govt opened up those lands companies would be able to produce billions of bbls of oil".

GH: "Little lady...you're not listening. The oil patch has had access to private oil shale leases for decades and none have figured out how to produce one commercial bbl of oil from them yet." Let me guess: you have a secret method to get the oil out and will only share it with the oil patch if you're elected?"

MB: "No but if we lease the federal lands the companies will find a way?"

GH: "So you're saying that when oil hit $147/bbl the industry just sat on their collective butts and ignored those $billions of profits sitting under private lands they could lease at any time?"

MB: Deer in the headlight stare

I'm not predicting it but Good Hair could take a big chance and actually run on a PO plank. We've been saying here for a long time: at some point the most right wing cornucopian will not be able to deny PO/ELM. All the N. Slope, DW GOM, offshore CA, etc will be open for drilling and it won't change PO. Think about what the next president may inherit if the worse effects of PO start to kick in quickly. Quickly being in the next 10 years. Remember whoever gets elected will be running for re-election in 2016. THAT's 2016...think about if for the moment. We keep talking about when the SHTF. The 2016 election is 5 years away. And if the next president gets re-elected he/she will be at the helm until 2020. Want to guess what oil prices/supplies will be like during those years? If I were running for president, believing what I do about PO, it would be all I would campaign on. Why would I want the job knowing where we heading if I didn't try to get the public tuned in. The president during the later part of this decade could go down as the greatest presidential failure of all times. And have none of it in his/her control.

That's a good question for all the TODsters: If you were running would you keep PO out of the eyes of the public knowing that you could be running the ship between 2012 and 2020?

Rockman, I predict Oct-No_hair will be waiving a $20 bill and saying that we have a lot of shale oil to exploit and gasoline will once again be $20 a gallon. It will be grim but I'll get 'er done.

Oct - And the last time someone promised you something big and juicy and you didn't get squat. How you feel about them today? Is that a legacy you want to KNOWINGLY buy into? Granted: stupid is as stupid does which is why I said "knowingly". As Ron White says: you can't fix stupid.

Yeah but you get elected Rock. You get limos and nice Medi benefits and stuff. That is why I believe in the idea that these guys actually know they are lying about oil/NG/energy_X -- aligator diesel (we had the other day). LOL. They just have to be good enough to get elected, then it is a nice life. Hell, I'll say anything for that. $1 / gallon.

Hell, I remember $1/gal when I was a little kid and people bitched about that, too! When are we ever happy? and why do we think these rascals are telling us the truth? ;-0

Anyway, if the economy carries on tanking demand destruction will offer oil up dirt cheap again - for those who have any cash left that is, so if you are stinking rich and you want cheap oil; wreck the economy....


I thought the world was coming to an end when gas hit 50 cents and I was already old then!

Rick Perry would never do that. If anything, he'd be more likely to hop on the drill here drill now bandwagon. He would never do anything that might help Obama. Plus, IMHO, people who run for President have enormous egos, I think they really believe they can turn things around as long as they find the right policies.

First Obama tried acting like a liberal Keynsian, that hasn't worked so now he's trying to use Republican strategies.

They may know about PO, but I doubt any of them take it seriously.


The past couple of daze I have seen polls showing Perry way out in front with Romney a 'not close' second, and Bachmann a sorry fourth, behind Ron Paul.

I believe the one poll I saw was: Perry: 28%, Romney: 14%, Paul 12%, and Bachmann 10%, with the rest also-rans at 5% and less.

Lots of stuff can happen, we are early-on...but the shine may already be off the Bachmann apple...Perry is the flavor of the day, and may hold that position...

You can't handle the truth !
- Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men

I know that most TODers want a higher energy (pun intended) version of Carter's sweater speech. Given the success and impact of the first one, I would demure.

First, reframe the issue as "Oil exports" and appeal to some old time conservative values

- "User pays" (Like for road maintenance, less than half from fuel taxes today)

- "If you want less of something - tax it. If you want more of something - subsidize it".

- Push electrified and expanded rail as a National Security measure (see Interstate Highways justification in 1950s).

- Point out how Gov't subsidies have created a "Drive Everywhere to Drive Everything" lifestyle. The market demand for TOD (30% of Americans want this) is unmeet because of bad gov't priorities. Rename "Transit Orientated Development" as "Low Oil Use Islands" and "Healthy Living Areas".

- Push Investments over Consumption, especially in long lived energy efficient and energy producing investments.

More upon reflection Rock,


- "User pays" (Like for road maintenance, less than half from fuel taxes today)

With the US federal gasoline tax expiring the end of September it will be interesting, albeit unlikely, to see if congress can raise the gas tax when they renew it.

"If I were running for president, believing what I do about PO, it would be all I would campaign on."


But really, the repubs will never run on a platform that emphasizes any kinds of limits. I doubt any dems would, either. Even though we are now staring right down the double barrel of shotgun of POCC. IF they can straight out deny CC, which has a much deeper, richer,, more solid...scientific basis than PO, they will not bat an eyelash about denying PO, if it even ever comes up.

Resource (not to mention ecological) limits anathema to the whole culture and mindset of eternal expansion that is a fundamental and inalienable constituent of the identity of Tea Party types and the financial/corporate interests that help fund them.

dohboi - But everything has a limit. Opinions vary widely on exactly how PO manifests itself in this country when it hits hard. But have we seen anyone paint a happy picture on that future? How ever "really bad PO" shows up here there will be no denying it. After ANWR is drilled up and there are rigs shoulder to shoulder across the DW GOM and gasoline prices/shortages are hammering us there will be no place for deniers to hide. And then comes the world class blame game. But when resource limits become undeniable to the majority of the American public the blame will be aimed at those who promised and didn't deliver. And even if promises weren't made they didn't warn folks either. We talk about no politician wanting to fall on his sword and begin telling the public the truth. But the day will come when the truth shoves its sword thru the heart of every politician trying to sell BAU.

Again, if you were president in 2020 what would you rather be explaining: why all those resoures you promised 8 years early aren't really there or would you rather say "I told you so" about the coming limits? Think long term as the head of the R/D party...not just a short term president. What would you start pushing today if you wanted your party to dominate the scene for the next 30 to 40 years: cornucopia just around the corner or the truth? Remember: you're going to have to live with the results for the next 40 years. Sorta like the logic behind a point man: someone needs to POTENTIALLY take a hit to protect the unit. No one volunteers to take point. Sooner or later promises have to be met. Right now it looks questionable for President Obama as to whether he fullfills enough of his proises. And you know the American people as well as I do: they're not big on hearing excuses. A rather unreasonable illogical lot, eh?

If President X said in his Farewell Address-

I saw this coming, and I pushed as hard as I could the best policies to mitigate the disaster we are facing. I did not give the complete reasons "Why" but I did the best possible "What" that I could. Quite frankly, in 2013 complete honesty about the reasons why would have done more damage than good.

Imagine how much worse shape we would be in today if we had not built ...{insert list of mitigation strategies here}# and have more under construction. Let us all support the next Administration and Congress in completing the transition I started.

Such a speech would, I think, go over well.

Best Hopes for DOING the right thing, even if for a different reason,


# Possible list later

Yes, of course there are limits--to everything except perhaps one: the potential for humans to deny reality.

To be clear, I consider it absolutely criminal that no major leader is laying out to Americans the harsh realities that the world is presenting us with.

I just don't see much possibility that and of the current crop have it in them to do so.

We need a Churchill, but I see no such character on stage nor in the wings.

(So back to my campaign cry--Run, Rocky, Run!)

Churchill RESPONDED brilliantly.. but I don't know that he would have ANTICIPATED.. as we need to do now. Chamberlain still had to come back from Berchtesgaden with a wincing smile before anyone took Hitler all that seriously, and barely even then..

We had the Carter speech, and we still do. That leadership was there, for those willing to suffer the ridicule of the unbelievers to take the next steps.. but that little handful just wasn't enough.

There were voices against Hitler in the 30's in England, Churchill's among them, though apparently George Lloyd (as opposed to Lloyd George in both senses) was more consistent in his suspicions of the German dictator. Churchill was certainly a staunch advocate for building up the military, particularly the navy.

But I certainly concede your larger point, that no effective leader has come forward that has really laid out to America what we are up against in the coming years.

The good news (IMHO) is that the far right Protestant Evangelical-Zionist fringe seems to be losing clout these days...

... at lease in Israel.

Glenn Beck’s rally in Jerusalem ends with a whimper

After months of preparations, hours of television and radio talk all geared up for the big day, tons of merchandise manufactured, Glenn Beck could just about muster over a thousand people at his “Restoring Courage” last night in Jerusalem.

Our leaders may not have much vision... but do we want them to be visionaries? Not all visions are equally beneficial for the common good. I don't mind boring, mediocre, and uninspiring leaders as long as they are grounded enough to make sensible and wise decisions.

Most in the far right Protestant Evangelical-Zionist fringe don't have a clue how bizarre and absurd most people in the rest of the world (and many in this country) find them.

And they get mad and offended when we make fun of them..

Sorry, the truth does not sell. People vote for the happy story. The factual basis or lack of it is irrelevant. For the repubs to win they need a happy story to tell.

Under my new administration:
1) more jobs
2) cheaper gasoline
3) lower taxes
4) lower food prices?

How will we do this? Let me tell you America is special. The American people are special. We are innovators, we are pioneers, we can do anything we set our minds to.

I have had photo ops in front of nat gas fracing wells and oil wells and this proves we can be energy independent. I have had photo ops in front of so many manufacturing plants this proves jobs will return to America with my new tax cuts for corporations [and the wealthy]. I have had photo ops in front of local community gardens because that is the kind of can do spirit that makes America great and with me as president I will direct the dept of ag to support local farming [and continue big subsidies to big ag]. With my mandatory community service for young Americans 18-20 we will create millions of jobs. It is the dawn of a new day in America, can you feel it I know I can.

Hot damn Ed. I'm voting for you!

Can any thinking being really believe that politics is not broken? Government is not broken? Education (remember critical thinking?) is not broken? Human wisdom is not broken?

We really need to Question Everything!

The Easter islanders thought they were special too. Just about every civilisation has considered itself special, and for good reason, and then they were gone...

I expect whoever is president to take zero responsibility. I expect them to say "the bomb attacks against various KSA facilities have cause an energy shortage. We will hunt down those responsible and see that they pay. In the mean time to restore order I am declaring marshal law. Gasoline will be rationed. Food will be rationed. Wages and prices will be frozen." I would then expect Venezuela to be taken by the US military and a massive fast tracked for national security nuclear power plant building program. Say 900 plants at 2GW each. Fast breeders that use 60% of the natural uranium not just 2%. If you object on environmental grounds you are an enemy of the state and will be dealt with by DHS division of emergency measures (DHS DEM).

It's martial law. We had Marshal (as in Matt Dillon) law in the 1800s. Other than that you are probably right. Krugman will finally get his jobs program. And there would be plenty of wind and solar too to buy off the reasonable environmentalists. The ones who won't compromise will get workcamps on the high plains.

We'll wait until the last minute then panic, as usual.

Probably I would emulate Gorbachev and explain that the game was basically over, sorry. Then call for the US to be divided up into regional "countries" that would be less expensive to maintain. More focus on local production and consumption, just getting through the day without using more energy than one is producing....or at least achieving better and better ratios at this, slowly. Maybe the public would go for this idea...there are some regional differences that are so strong anyway, so why not just go with the flow and break up the country into a harmony of local areas?

There is no gain to be made for a politician to tell the American public that the "Happy Motoring" days are coming to a close.

Any politician who doesn't say "Drill Harder" or "Drill Baby Drill" when gas prices are high is dead meat.

I'm not sure Yosemite Sam is much of an improvement over Bachmann. Neither seems to be someone I would want to see with access to nuclear launch codes. If unemployment stays high the GOP have a good shot at the white house next year. It would be nice if they chose someone vaguely competent to fill the seat.

The Tea Party/Republican meme is that there is plenty of oil right here in the good ol' USA and those damn Dems, especially Obama are keeping our oil industry from getting to that oil. Facts are irrelevant, including that production has actually increased under Obama. Perry won't do anything to put a crack in that meme, including attacking Bachmann on the facts. Besides, he's already pulling away from the bubble head and doesn't need to look back. We might even see a Perry/Bachmann ticket down the road.

Facts are irrelevant, including that production has actually increased under Obama.

Not to mention that the number of rigs actively drilling for oil in the US has tripled under Obama.

tow - Yeah but the bush baby still had more rigs running in '08 then we have running today. So one could say President Obama inherited the production increase along with a broke down economy. Can't cherry pick: inherite it all or nothing.

And they both pale in comparison the the greatest oil patch president of all time: Jimmy Carter. He had more than twice as many rigs drilling as these two light weights. LOL.

That's why I said oil rigs rather than oil+gas rigs, Rock :-) Obama is way in the lead with oil rigs over Bush's peak number but gas drilling has tailed off. According to Baker Hughes, total oil+gas rigs count though is just about to pass the peak combined total under Bush. As you say a long way to go to catch Carter yet.

Not that I think Obama has much to do with active rig-count. I just post the data because it is interesting that the Democrats are continually attacked for not drilling like mad.

tow - So what you're saying is that the bush baby was a bigger proponent of burning cleaner NG than President Obama who's pushing to burn more of that nasty oil that will eventually lead to our great grandchildren drowning as the seas rush in?

This is fun: sitting in the middle I can take cheap shots both ways. The freedom of not having a dog in the fight. LOL.

But miraculously Obama seems to be able to produce more natural gas with far fewer rigs - so he's much more efficient :-)

Unless the US annexes the UK by the end of next year I won't have a horse in the race either. Anyway, everyone knows that US independence is fake and the Queen still really runs the world (possibly on behalf of some lizards). I read that somewhere on the Interwebs so it must be true!!

Undertow, when have actual facts and statistics been a centerpiece of American politics. It is professional mud wrestling in the US.

Can't cherry pick: inherite it all or nothing.

But that doesn't work 'round these parts. Many posters here on TOD are going Ra! Ra on the Lybian event.

under "ya sure ya wanna be buying what's being sold" you have this being reported:

John McCain is encouraging Uprisings in countries around the world for Democracy. He thinks the people of China and Russia may want to get in the act. He said "It is all great and the fire of uprisings should move on to other countries.” He also stated “livelihood is so bad, that they need to rebel immediately.”

If invading one nation-state to help the rebels is ok.....

I may be pretty Ra-Ra for the Libyans, but I do fear that copycat rebellions in other countries are going to get really ugly really fast. I don't really expect them in Russia or China. But I suspect Syria will get much worse as the revolting population meets overwhelming deadly force. It aint gonna be pretty. But the people of one or two of these self-liberated countries will be better off. I think Libya has the most promise, lots of valuable oil and a small population, seems they might be able to achieve something decent.

btw. Syria really is a horrible prospect for intervention. Its badly caught up in the the Sunni-Shia thing, the ruling Alawites who roughly 10% of the population, are a variation of Shia, and the Shia powers Iran, and Iraq, are going to back the current government, while the Sunni powers may be tempted to side with the revolutionaries. No sane interventionist would want to get involved. Iran is a big fan of the Libyan freedom fighters, but that doesn't extent across sectarian lines.

There is a significant difference in scale. Libya is very thinly populated by 6.6 million people and Syria populated by 22.5 million people. I believe that the Syrian government will not go easily, because some significant fraction of the 2 million Alawites and a similar number of Christians and other non-Sunnis have a well founded fear of reprisals.

Tunisia was easy. Bahrain was unsuccessful. Egypt was less easy than Tunisia and is not completely resolved. Libya took several months and is not over. Yemen is still in active warfare. Syria is still in an early stage.

Spring? Maybe some frost on the seedlings.

I agree that a Perry/Bachmann ticket makes sense (Bachmann/Perry?...hmmm)..........In a world where nothing can be expected to make any sense;-/

I am looking forward to the two of them presiding over the Whitehouse Hanukkiya lighting.

"The Tea Party/Republican meme is that there is plenty of oil right here in the good ol' USA" The irony, of course, is that there is in deed plenty of oil here, if only we would stop using it so extravagantly.

Ban SUVs, get everyone into car pools, or biking, or walking, or busing, or training...there would be plenty to go around.

As Nate famously said, "We don't have a fuel shortage, so much as an expectation 'longange'" (or something to that effect, iirc).

But I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not the intended message of the Teasters.

Just as it is presumably not the intended message of MB to say that she is promising to put the world in another depression to rival the last two Great ones when she promises to get gas prices back to where they were in '08.

(It really shocks me that none of the media, even those ridiculing her, see this obvious aspect of her gaf.)

"Ban SUVs"

Why pick on them? The smaller ones get decent mileage. Someone here reported a car (Astin-Martin) getting 8 MPG. Ban vehicles getting less than X MPG, but make an exception for CNG vehicles if you want.

I'll consider that a friendly amendment--SUV just make such a nice BIG target '-)

I have to agree that you have to do a mpg based ban. say the sale of anything under 30mpg should be banned. current owners of cars and trucks and suv's with less then that can pay more to keep what cars they own. or they can have their cars bought from them by the government for fair market value with a percentage of their current loans(if any) on them discounted / credited / forgiven if they promise to start a new one with the same people for a replacement vehicle.

Right idea, but it's a tricky equation.

Under your plan, I'd get to keep my '91 CRX, which can still get 45 MPG on the freeway and mid 30's around town (but has no air conditioning, so I would not be able to drive during the day in summer b/c I have health problems.)

I would have to give up the Miata, which gets about 28 on the highway with the hardtop under ideal circumstances, and buy a more efficient vehicle. However, given that I do not drive that much (and plan to drive less with each passing year) the carbon footprint of manufacturing my new car might well exceed the carbon footprint of driving the Miata for the next three to ten years, or whenever ICE engines become too expensive for the average consumer.

I'm really just being empirical and rational. The fact that I love driving the Miata once a week around Dead Man's Curve on Sunset has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Use the money from the sale to fix the air-con in the 91-crx. that's if you don't have a outstanding loan. in which case you can sell both, the miata to the government due to the mpg and the crx. set up a loan with the same company that you did with the miata for a new car above the legal mpg and then sell the crx to help pay off that loan. at best you might end up with only a few thousand in debt on the new loan. that's if such a system existed of course.

Remember all the talk of killing the EPA - they firmly believe that it is only government regulation that is slowing oil production.

Yes, this has to put Gov. Perry in a rather difficult situation. He has to have sat down regularly with the heads of a bunch of oil companies over the last ten years and heard the same story over and over: (1) oil is getting harder and harder to find, (2) the oil we find costs more and more to produce, (3) much of what's found is controlled by national oil companies, whose collective net exports have been falling, and (4) no one has ever managed to do commercial production of liquid fuels from the oil shale in Colorado/Wyoming/Utah.

I expect that we'll hear very little about oil from Gov. Perry. He'll hammer away about jobs, Texas' wind power, jobs, reducing the size of the federal government, jobs, lower tax rates on capital, and jobs. He'll let the big PACs run misleading commercials about oil, but he won't say those things himself.

Of course, I've got a pretty poor record at predicting what politicians will do :^)

As the "Rock" knows, most people, including most of the talking heads on CNBC, seem to routinely equate shales like the Bakken and the Eagle Ford, which produce thermally mature oils ready for the refinery, to fine grained "shales" like the Green River Formation in Colorado, which contain thermally immature kerogen deposits, which of course have to be heated to produce a liquid which can be sent to a refinery.

So the comparison, e.g., on CNBC, that is frequently made is that Kerogen type deposits are like the Bakken, but represent a much larger resource, and therefore Kerogen type deposits are like Saudi Arabia. Problem solved. Party on Dude.

Re: Bachmann, the Petroleum Geologist (uptop):

Success with western shale oil has been five years away for the past 60 years.

So will shale or fusion win the perpetual five-year race?

If you guys will just fully fund work on my perpetual motion motor, I can beat both of them to the market.

If you need perpetual funding for your perpetual motion machine, then Bernanke is the man you need to talk to.

Even Bernanke will have trouble printing digital money when the networks runs out of electrons. The Second Law really has the last word.

But she's fallen in the oil shale trap like a rank amateur. I don't know if Rick "Good Hair" Perry (thanks Molly) understands there is no oil in them there oil shales but he's got staffers who do. And I bet he lays into her big time.

No, he will not do this. Every Republican contender wants to use the "Obama is locking up our energy stores" meme against him next fall. So even though that would be an easy attack on the crazy lady, they won't do it because they want to use that talking point for themselves. The truth doesn't matter . . . what matters is what you can convince people is true.

The "Obama is locking up our energy stores" meme is irresistible for the right. So many people want to believe it that it oozes with 'truthiness'. The feel it in their gut. Its spouted all over the AM dial on the radio. So I think it is far more likely that we will hear the Perry camp make similar cheap oil promises.

I agree. The Rs believe in the bottom of their hearts that Environmentalists made America dependent on foreign oil. The problem was never overconsumption of US resources. LOL. It is also apparently common knowledge even among educated persons that speculators are hurting the oil prices. So they can even say Obama and Timmy are favoring the speculators too. It is all part of the game to sell to the lowest common denominator -- human self-interest, sloth, and greed.

I bet they slap it on Obama and I bet the country forgets that the last and highest oil spike occurred when Cheney and Bush -- two bonafide oil men -- were running the show, cause Americans are just that myopic.

Now back to F150s, hummers and party on, Garth!

So many people want to believe it that it oozes with 'truthiness'. The feel it in their gut.

Thats what spouting the same memes/talking points over and over and over for many years does. Those brain neutral networks are programmed by repetition. And nearly everyone will have a "truthiness" response when the meme is brought up. And since the gut, is believed before the cerebellum, it works great.

Propagandists and advertisers(less of a distinction then you realize) have known since the early twentieth century that the more often you repeat a statement. the more people and the stronger people will think it's true even if it is not. even if it counters all observable evidence.

'communism and socialism are evil' the result of 50 years of that bears fruit now that this country would rather let people starve in the streets and die from very treatable health issues rather then loose a few extra dollars each year to taxes to allow others healthcare and food they would otherwise not be able to afford. side effect, growing popularity of how too video's on you-tube on how to do some basic medical care like stitching decent sized wounds, or like a former co-worker of mine posting a how too on how to get rid of a in grown toe nail that had gotten to the point that minor out patient surgery was needed.

'communism is atheism' or 'the soviets were atheists' I have run into this more often then not, u.s. schools never really do teach that the old soviet union was a cult of personality like north Korea is now wrapped in the decoration of being communistic state. they deified their leaders, and oddly i see the same thing happening here in the states where groups of people view Ronald regan in similar regard.

'taxes are evil' taxes are a necessary in any properly functioning government. but also like all necessities too much and too little can be bad. a government needs to at least take in as much as they spend to stay independent. if they owe money to any other organization they are basically owned by them. yet there are a large group of people who have heard this one to many times and will fight in any way possible to stop any of this to be collected.

it's like that one person said(i forget his name) when he was talking about the riots in England. you spend all these years spouting stuff about the individual's rights and needs and desires over that of the community then you are flabbergasted as these same people go about destroying their communities.

Well put. Thank you.

spec - "Obama is locking up our energy stores". Of course that talking point won't go away. But we were talking just about the oil shales. Any R candidates that throws that into the mix is a fool IMHO. As I said earlier Joe6Pack won't listen to anyone ramble on about in situ cracking etc. But when the other side points out that Big Oil has been working on it for over 30 years and there is not one bbl of oil shale production coming out the ground today even after prices hit $147/bbl? J6P can understand that quit easily. Heck...my dog gets it.

And remember we're not talking about tactics for the prex election. Good Hair Perry has to win the nom first. And that means taking out Romney on the economy/health care and now, thanks to Bachman's blunder, he can cut her legs off at the knees if he keeps hammering her on energy. But it's true that if GH Perry leans towards a PO position it would be a risky gamble. But imagine if he did and if some folks on TOD feel he's sincere.... Interesting possibility at least, eh? He may irritate the heck out of most here but what if he starts carrying our banner? Can't you just envision the bad taste it will leave in most TOD mouths? LOL.

And recall my earlier speculation: the results of the next prez election may be determined by the price of gasoline during Nov 2012. And imagine if President Obama is still touting "Energy Independence" at that time and Good Hair is laying out the truth (at least to some degree). Risky ploy? For sure. Could it work? Time will tell.

Sure, the oil shale angle is completely insane. If it were lucrative, people would be digging it up right now since it is not locked up. But to discuss oil shale versus shale oil is that dreaded "nuance". That is too complicated and it goes against the 'locking up our energy stores' meme. So they'll just not about oil shale but instead focus on ANWR, OCS, etc. Of course those would not provide enough to drive down prices . . . but again, the actual truth doesn't matter.

And no politician will carry the PO banner. Obama and Chu have sort of brought it up at times and that is one of the reasons why the 'Obama is locking up our energy stores' works against him. No one wants Jimmy Carter in a sweater. Lie to me.

Spec - But back to my point sometime ago: If the next president, especially if it's his first term, is totally ignorant of PO, then he'll just carry on with the current foolishness. OTOH if he does have a good grasp of PO and if he wants to be president thru 2020 you have to beleive he sees the train wreck coming near or soon after the end of his second term.

So I'll throw the challenge out to you as I did other TODsters: If, understanding what you do about PO, your plan was to be POTUS thru to 2020, what would you be telling folks today (or at least after you won in 2012)? Think about the cr*p laid on the bush baby about this last economic downturn once he left office. And if we slam headlong into that PO wall near the end of the decade do you want that to be your legacy: You led the county into perhaps the worst economic tumble in the entire history of the USA...and you didn't issue one serious word of warning?

Granted this may be giving more credit to any of the potential presidential winners than they deserve. But I didn't ask what they should do: what would your presidency (or that of any TODster) focus on?

Even a self serving president, if he sees the future many of us do, would try to protect his legacy. Capt. Smith knew he killed the HMS Titanic. But he did go down with his ship. You, President Spec, are you willing to go down with your presidential ship in 2020? LOL. Or would you start yelling "Change course!" at the top of your lungs? Even if your ship still hit that PO berg no one could blame you for not warning them.

If I had an ego big enough to drive me to be the POTUS would I want my legacy to be based on a PO future if I didn't try to warn the country? Heck, my ego is big enough I was the fly in the ointment on any number of small issues that I wasn't willing to take the blame for because others ignored my recommendations. And no one was going to write a chapter in a history book about me.

Sometimes you put your self in harms way to protect others. Sometimes you get away with it...sometimes you pay the ultimate price. But each has to make that choice. Even if the prez candidate lost the race for doing so it might restore some of my faith in the system. But in the meantime I'm not holding my breath. LOL.

If, understanding what you do about PO, your plan was to be POTUS thru to 2020, what would you be telling folks today (or at least after you won in 2012)?

Sadly, I think that being serious about PO and trying to get a second term are incompatible. PO is too abstract and too much of a slow-motion train-wreck to get people to take it seriously. We have 200+ years of solid evidence proving evolution. But people don't believe it. Climate change is phenomenon that most scientists agree upon . . . but people reject it. PO is the same.

People understand it when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor or Bin Laden hits the WTC buildings. They can see & feel such direct threats. But PO is not like that. PO is too nebulous. It is a slow march of increasing oil prices. And to complicate it, it isn't a monotonic increase. It see-saws back & forth based on feed-back loops, hurricanes, wars, etc. And worse than that, no one can seem to predict it with any kind of accuracy. Mathematically, it is inevitable. But no one knows when price surges will happen. (and when they do happen, the also recede due to demand destruction).

So I tend to think that the best you can do is quietly run mitigation programs and be prepared to ramp them up if there is an oil price surge. And although I disagree with many of the things the current administration does, I think Obama & Chu have done a decent job of this. With the stimulus money they invested a lot into Li-Ion battery companies, smart grid, EV component makers, etc. They ratcheted the CAFE standards way up. (Sure a gas tax would be better but that is political suicide.) They have a $7500 tax-credit for EVs and PHEVs. They pushed to open up the Gulf to more drilling (everyone seems to forget that right before the BP spill, Obama propose more drilling in the Gulf). Even with the meager things they have done, the Obama administration catches a lot of flack for being "socialists", "tree-huggers", "government motors", etc. Long before the election, Steven Chu said something about 'needing to get gas prices higher' and that has been inspiration for thousands of op-ed pieces about how the administration wants to raise everyone's gas prices and it did happen. (Never mind that it was the market that raised the price, not the administration . . . apparently Dr. Chu is so powerful that he can wish something and it just happens!)

But here are some more policies I'd do:
-Open up ANWR for drilling but use the royalties to fund EV tax-credits, alt-energy, etc.
-Change building codes to require conduit to easily run EV charger wiring to all new home garages and apartment parking places. (Conduit is cheap . . . you can pull the wiring and install chargers later)
-More mass transit (light-rail, high-speed rail between regional areas, subways, etc.)
-Simplify building codes for PV installations

I would add: Rewrite zoning laws, and allow more "mixed use zoning". The BAU zoning forces many Americans to live THERE, work HERE, and shop yet someplace else. Kunstler has written extensively about this, and I encourage people to read his (excellent) books about cities.

I agree completely, although I would still argue for mixing residential and commercial even if someone rewrote the laws of physics tomorrow and found a way to squeeze buckets of gasoline out of an empty paper bag.

I love living in city neighborhoods where the ground floor of all the apartments buildings are full of shops and offices and transportation (buses or subway) is so frequent you don't have to worry about schedules. It makes life a lot more convenient and easy. To me living in a neighborhood like feels like wearing a pair of really great pajama pants, you have a certain freedom without loosing that comfortable feeling and if the mood strikes you you can roll out of bed and go buy a coffee without too much trouble.

-Change building codes to require conduit to easily run EV charger wiring to all new home garages and apartment parking places. (Conduit is cheap . . . you can pull the wiring and install chargers later)

Most housing does not use conduit, but running a #10 romex from the panel to the garage is easy before the walls are closed in. I added one while doing a remodel for precisely that reason. When Leaf 2 ships, I'll be ready with 30 amps at 240 V. And yes, the main service (200 Amps) will handle it. In the meantime, if I decide to weld something in the carport, I'm ready.

Zoning laws are the real issue. The developers and realtors are committed to McMansions at least 5 miles from any business, and 10 miles from heavy industry. Apartments over shops is a better model. Some factories do have to be a few miles from habitation just in case, but light manufacturing should be much closer in.

You don't even need apartments over shops, just small business estates mixed in. A few offices, a few shops, a few very light industrial. Bias towards supporting the residential area. If you assigned an occasional block to this then you can design with the service area in the centre and access to a feeder road so reducing impact on the surrounding area.


So, Rock, I infer from your musing that your gut tells you the end of the current production plateau will be near the end of the decade.

H - Maybe. But I suspect whenever we do get to a prolong downslope it will be relatively gentle. But I'm becoming ever less concerned about that date or the rate of the decline. I think the above ground issues will so dominate those times that geology, production rates and reserve base will be second tier components. Control/acquisition of the remaining production, especially the ELM factor, will be the overshadowing issue.

And it will not be very pretty. Especially as long as blood for oil swaps are still considered an acceptable opton.

I used to be a PO doomer, but now I share your "gentl decline" view. Instad I have been a "gentle everything decline" doomer: When everything gets slightly worse at the same time, the combined burden can be enough to breakus all. A little bit of peak oil, climat change, water shortage, food shortage, economic decline, popular riots, economic downturn, all at once, can be a very heavy burden to carry for a system built to only handle one or two such issues simultaneously.

FW - Good point. Was it the Chinese that coined the term "death by a thousand cuts"? Plug one would and a half dozen more start draining you life away. And sometimes a knee jerk reaction to one problem opens up some other wounds even wider.

If, understanding what you do about PO, your plan was to be POTUS thru to 2020, what would you be telling folks today (or at least after you won in 2012)?

I'd tell 'em, "folks, it's time for America to get back to work.

"My Secretary of the Treasury has minted fifty 1 trillion dollar platinum coins and deposited them with the Federal Reserve.

"I will use this money to rehabilitate our schools, hospitals, water supplies, and bridges, to insulate the home of anyone who wants it, to make our electricity networks the best in the world, to make the USA number 1 in wind power, solar power, broadband internet, and railways. I am quadrupling our commitment to research, especially in preventive medicine and medical automation. I am setting up a parallel healthcare system based on neighborhood clinics, because the competition will help drive down everyone's costs.

"It's clocking-on time in America. Let's get to work!"

It is my speculation that from now on, most US presidents will be one timers.

Michelle Bachmann isn't only Rep talking about oil shale. This morning, the House Energy and Mineral Resources subcommitte met to discuss oil shale prospects in Colorado.
Delays By Obama Administration in Oil Shale Production...

Chairman Doug Lamborn stated:

Most of that shale is located right here around us, where according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Western United States may hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil--enough to provide the United States with energy for the next 200 years.

I hope this issue doesn't get into the Republican party platform.

I hope this issue doesn't get into the Republican party platform.

I hope it does.

If they seriously try and push this as a policy position then the dems will need to counter it. Only way to do that is to carefully explain to the average rep voter how this 'oil' isn't and how the other domestic plays are not game changers - and thus how oil and efficiency are critical to the US interests.

At the end of that, more of the uneducated will understand the problem the world faces. Unfortunately that will probably result in a militaristic approach to 'securing our oil', but fixing that is a job for stage 2.

At the moment we have too many people actively ignoring reality and living in la-la land. It prevents necessary action, so anything that gives them a slap about the face is a good thing.

If the dems could successfully counter the position, that would be great for them. I would expect it to be a tough position to counter. The hearing I linked to above included statements from Shell and Shell has selective amnesia regarding points made in an earlier comment by Rockman. My impression is Shell will use position to get whatever saves them money regarding oil shale exploration and truth of position will have litte impact.

The article, Remembering Colorado's oil shale "boom", discusses the oil shale experiences of Exxon's Colony Project. A memorable quote depicts this position as a:

vision in search of reality

I had no idea a huge amount of water is needed for oil shale exploration. The GAO Report (PDF), Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development states:

GAO’s review of available studies indicated that the expected total water needs for the entire life cycle of oil shale production ranges from about 1 barrel (or 42 gallons) to 12 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced from in-situ (underground heating) operations, with an average of about 5 barrels, and from about 2 to 4 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced from mining operations with surface heating.

EDIT: Added GAO Report

Brit – This is one of the easiest tech bubbles to burst. If Good Hair Perry or the dems miss this opportunity they all deserve to lose just for being MORONS! LOL. You don’t have to explain what kerogen is…don’t even have to mention it. Don’t have to talk about how much precious western water will be needed. Don’t have to say a word about Shell’s recent efforts.

It’s real freaking simple: there are hundreds of thousands of acres of private owned “shale oil” leases that could acquired for next to nothing. Oil has been selling for big bucks for years. So when oil hit $147/bbl over 2 years ago suddenly there were dozens of shale oil operations begun…right? What did you say Ms. Bachmann? There are no shale oil plants operating today? But how many plants are under construction today then? None you say, Ms. Bachmann. You mean there are tens of billions of bbls of oil just sitting under the surface. And according to Shell’s world class expert could be produced for as little as $28/bbl. So there are billions of bbls of oil just sitting under the surface that could be produced for huge profits. And again you say even though no one is going after those huge profits today they will in the future just because you’re elected president?

I explained in this manner to my 11 yo daughter and she understood immediately that the “oil shale” story was a lie. Granted she is exceptionally smart for her age (gets that from my side of the family) I’ll give credit to the average US adult that they are a smart as an average 11 yo child.

I’ve work with many technically brilliant folks in my career. And I’ve found many are absolutely worthless when it comes to explaining a relatively simple matter in relatively simple terms. This is not complicated: Oil is selling for around $100/bbl and not one oil company is building a “shale oil” recovery plant today nor have announced plans to do so. And there are huge tracts of private land available to those same companies right now. Therefore at today’s high prices there is zero recoverable oil from the shale oil deposits. Simple…very simple.

And if Ms. Bachmann wants to predict a future full of shale oil then she will have to explain what has to change. Won't be gasoline selling for $2/gallon...will it? Get my point now: $5+ gasoline wasn't enough incentive to develop shale oil but it will happen when she gets the price down to $2/gallon. She and her advisors can't even hear their own illogical words.

Yes, but the standard answer from the Bachman and folks like her is that it is excessive regulation by the EPA that is preventing this from being developed. They have no proof of this of course - it is really just an "urban legend" amongst the right wing.

I am not sure how best to counter the claim - my inclination would be to simply respond to claims like this with "prove it". But I don't know how well something like that would play in a debate scenario.

And if Ms. Bachmann wants to predict a future full of shale oil then she will have to explain what has to change. Won't be gasoline selling for $2/gallon...will it? Get my point now: $5+ gasoline wasn't enough incentive to develop shale oil but it will happen when she gets the price down to $2/gallon. She and her advisors can't even hear their own illogical words.

Yeah, it is so utterly illogical that you would think she would be called out on it. But no.

Why is that? I guess it is partially because this is science/engineering and the press doesn't have a clue about that.

Yes, but the standard answer from the Bachman and folks like her is that it is excessive regulation by the EPA that is preventing this from being developed. They have no proof of this of course - it is really just an "urban legend" amongst the right wing.

Yep . . . you are correct. Bachmann seems to think that if we were to get rid of the EPA then business would just take off like a rocket. That is silly. The EPA just makes you jump through some hoops that add a few percent of costs onto projects in order to prevent ecological damage. It is not like they are strangling projects with a 50% cost add-on.

If you killed the EPA all that would happen is that the rich would get richer and there would be more ecological damage. Price drops would be negligible and not worth the ecological damage.

this is science/engineering and [Bachmann as well as] the press doesn't have a clue about that

Actually, there is a part of "science" that Bachmann and The Press do have a very strong clue about,

it is the irrational, emotion-driven brain and the science of how to appeal to it

ericy - But how does that standard answer serve them when you point out that no regulation has stop Shell Oil from their pilot project. Nor is there a single regulation stopping me or ExxonMobil from taking privately owner oil shale leases, building a plant and collecting all those $billions.

Again, there's nothing for us to prove: you simply state that the leases are available to develop today. Then it's up to them to prove they aren't. So what proof can they provide at that point? They can't offer a map that shows no oil shales leases available today. They can't show a lack of finacial incentive given the current price of oil. They can't say there's a lack of capex: i.e. ExxonMobil's record breaking revenue this last year.

So you hit them with the basics: oil leases are available for development today. Oil prices are high and the oil industry is rolling in $bucks. So Ms. Bachmann, tell us again why we have zero bbls of oil shale production today?

As I said early: keep it real simple/non-technical and there's no wiggle room for them.

The Green Jobs jabs at the NYT seems about as convincing as the 'Elephant Deterrent' I used to use as a kid.

"See, no elephants? It works!"

No less than hobbling government actions in order to prove that Government 'doesn't work'.

From the above Denmark says preparing North Pole claim.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal states have sovereignty out to 200 nautical miles from their shorelines, including rights to the minerals and natural resources there.

But they can claim sovereignty beyond 200 nautical miles if they can prove the existence of an extended continental shelf.

A Danish/Greenlandic claim would clash with claims by other coastal Arctic states, above all Russia which drew world attention when Russian explorers in a mini-submarine planted a Russian flag on North Pole seabed in 2007.

It would also conflict with Canadian claims, a Danish government official said.

Gotta luv those Danes -- what kidders, eh? Everyone knows the North Pole really belongs to Canada. Each December, countless letters are addressed to some guy with a red suit with a Canada Post issued postal code, North Pole, H0H 0H0. And if the post office accepts it as official, well then it must be official. Didn't these international experts ever see Miracle on 34th Street?

And Santa, well he must be Canadian. Who else would take goods, transport them around the world, and practically give them away for free? He must have been in the commodity business before he got into the Christmas magic sauce. For all we know the Chinese are financing the enterprise -- nothing like off-shoring jobs to keep labour costs down. If you think migrating peasants will work for pennies an hour, you should check out what our northerly elves will do... and for nothing more than a pat on the head. Talk about a capitalist wet dream come true.

Z - I think the Danes have a good case. Just because some fat white guy slipped across the Danish border in the middle of the night does give the Canadians anymore right to claim the land as theirs. He's just one more illegal alien. If that were the case Mexico could claim CA as theirs. Hmmm...wait a sec.

Hey Rock, good point, watch out for these fat old white guys. Several of these aliens slipped into some place called Manhattan many years ago, set up a ghetto on Wall Street, and the world has not been the same since.

Can't they divide the North Pole like a piece of pie? Or maybe we can have a Winter games and whoever wins the Hockey match gets the North Pole.

I'd like to see that Hockey tournament. I bet the Russians would hop up all their players on steroids. LOL.

The commitment to "free trade" is similar to the medical professions commitment to "blood letting" in the 18th century. Persists despite all evidence to the contrary

What is empirical evidence to support the notion that Free trade has been a boon to the United States? Is the average American worker better off than he was 50 years ago. Has not the last 50 years been a period when we have moved further and further down the road of free trade.

I guess the advocates of Free trade would respond with "but things would have been worse". What is the evidence that things would have been worse ? Furthermore, any sensible analysis of Free trade would distinguish between Free trade amongst "equals" i.e. countries with civil society standards similar to ours and "free trade" with countries who benefit from regulatory arbitrage. The case for Free trade amongst equals I think is strong and I think leads to greater prosperity. Free trade with countries seeking to exploit regulatory arbitrage only benefits the owners of capital.

Perhaps that is the reason that Free trade has so much support amongst the elites and their supplicants in academia and the financial markets.

Free trade isn't about economics. It's about geopolitics. It's about getting industrial countries to compete for raw materials in the marketplace and not on the battlefield.

Put another way, it's about turning all nations toward an all out war on the planet.

And, hurray! We're winning!!

This decade has seen the lowest worldwide number of deaths in combat ever.

This decade has seen the highest worldwide number of extinctions ever.

Ditto for deaths from poverty-related causes.

The current global war is against the poor and against life itself.

Have you ever been to any of the environmental disaster areas that were the result of the war effort in WW2? There are many. I've been to one so far: Los Alamos.

There's a town in Oklahoma that's become uninhabitable because of lead mining nearby. Mining that pretty much supplied all the ammunition used by the allies.

I'll take my changes with trade.

Orders of magnitude, my friend, many orders of magnitude. You are talking about local pollutions, which are tragic, of course.

I am talking about the fifth mass extinction of life on earth--apocalyptic. Whole oceans depleted of life, the basic nature of the planet altered beyond anything seen in tens of millions of years, or more.

I am not saying that human wars were a wonderful way of conducting ourselves.

I am just saying that Breton Woods moved us to a footing of total war against our future, against the living world.

We did not learn how to act peacefully. We just redirected our deeply bellicose nature toward a new 'enemy'--the living community of the planet.

I've been to one so far: Los Alamos.

I lived there for five years. Thats actually an accumulation of three wars WW1, WW2, and Cold. The forests around Bandolier, and the southeastern Jemez, are off limits because of explosives from WW1 training programs. Much of the current lab, was a product of the cold war.

I'm thinking specifically of Acid Canyon vis a vis WW2. But WW1 bolsters my point.

Resource wars are bad for the environment. Free trade is better.

"Resource wars are bad for the environment. Free trade is better."

False choice.

We need a new, less destructive international game to play besides resource wars and 'free trade'= war on life.

"Free trade is better"

Especially true when you hold a gun and your "trading partner" does not.

"Free trade" is the industrial world's trojan horse.

Utter nonsense. Resource exporting nations need to export, and want to export, because, well,
it's nice to have gadgets and antibiotics and stuff.

Under Bretton Woods, they get the best price because bidders are only allowed to compete with money.

Spoken like a true industrial parasite - one who knows no other way to live than as a parasite and so does not even recognize himself.

Corrupt a few locals, prop them up as the leaders, loot the region's resources and call it "free trade." Keep the true costs away from the eyes of the public and call for "wars on terro"r for those who resist "free trade" with the criminal nations.

Give the locals some trinkets in return so your own population can go about their gluttony without remorse.

Please go on, tell me more of the tales from the POV of the eye-less industrial parasite. "We only eat you from the inside-out because you will die if we don't - here take some antibiotics, it will help with the heavy metal poisoning-induced immune collapse your family will soon experience!!!"

Oh so many examples of "Free Trade":


How about this French occupation? I hear they threatened the leader and killed some of his family with undercover folks to keep that oil flowing to France.

There are so many examples of "Free Trade" post WWII. Too many to count in fact.

Good luck with that.

Golden Rule still applies, and the West has the Gold and writes the Rules, while the Economic colonies get the treatment all over again with a new, improved set of distorted legalisms.

"The problem with these gentlemen's agreements is these gentlemen ain't gentlemen.." Mark Twain

Without NAFTA, the U.S. would have gone to war with Mexico. Duly noted.

World War One started in part because Germany had just industrialized and did not have enough colonil possessions to supply itself with raw materials.

World War Two started in part because Germany decided to double or nothing on the previous plan and for similar motives.

Same deal with Japan in the Pacific.

So, John Maynard Keynes and other intellectuals in the Bretton Woods conference of 1944 decided to promote a simple understanding for the post war: raw goods get bid for on the open market. Countries that want more (oil/iron/whtever) can get as much as they want so long as they bid for it. Everyone agrees to bid, not schmooze, and not fight over those resources.

That, the Bretton Woods agreement, was the guiding principle that governed international relations of the First World. The Second World was comprised of the nations that decided to opt out of Bretton Woods. (Russia did send delegates to the conference.)

And that is why a lot of people are really intent on keeping free trade going.

Trade policy serves those with money. It is rule by dollars not democracy.

Hurricane Irene now projected to go east of Washington D.C. on its way to hit Martha's Vineyard with its most powerful eastern side. Still plenty of time for the track to vary yet though.

Almost sounds like you're hoping for a strike right down the middle oil producing gulf....


Barring the biggest upset ever in forecasting history it is not going anywhere near the gulf and I certainly don't want any hurricanes in the gulf. My little "joke" was that it may be homing in on Obama having switched its projected course from the White House to Martha's Vineyard :-)

As I said this is 5 days out and subject to change - or watch the cone, not the centre track.

Currently the whole of the eastern seaboard from the northern edge of South Carolina and up is in the official NHC possible impact cone.

Cat 3 and intensifying Hurricane Irene has just passed over Crooked Island heading for Long Island Bahamas.

Just saw live pictures from the International Space Station of the storm on NASA TV. Wouldn't like to be in its path.

If Irene hit Martha's Vineyard and did any damage at all, it would probably be labeled by the Repubs as a liberal plot against the super wealthy.

18Z GFS +96. This probably better not happen...

That's a possible Cat 2 or 3 slamming into Long Island, New York with a storm surge of a recent Cat 3/4. The Euro model run is even worse for New York City itself. This is projected only 96 hours away.

Every 3 hours I update the page with the latest NHC info. Where we are isn't likely to be very bad since we are a ways inland. But it has been many years since a hurricane took a path like this, and there has been a lot of construction out near the ocean since the last one. And I cannot help but wonder how many people bothered to buy hurricane insurance (if you can even get it any more).

I was talking with some friends who bought a place out there - I asked them how high above sea level they were. I don't remember the exact number (maybe ~20 ft or so). But other homes in the same development were at a lower elevation.

Time to board up and head for the hills if that was me.


National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read: "We are very concerned with what's going to happen in New England. The benchmark is the 1938 hurricane*. I am very concerned with what will happen there."

*AKA The Long Island Express:


The majority of the storm damage was from storm surge and wind. Damage is estimated at $6 billion (2004 USD),[9] making it among the most costly hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland. It is estimated that if an identical hurricane struck today it would cause $39.2 billion (2005 USD) in damage.

My wife's great-aunt was driving out to Dover MA from Boston in her Packard during the 1938 hurricane. Of course there wasn't anything like the level of information available then on approaching storms. She commented that her drive was "a bit windy"...!! LOL! Yeah, probably with trees and cows flying by the windscreen!

If this stays on course, NYC is in for a hurting. Subways will flood, some roads/bridges will wash out, LI will be thrashed. In which case it would be interesting to see if the markets are closed considering many of the traders live in the surrounding areas and won't be able to commute.

See more at link below for work done investigating the susceptibility of the subway system to flooding

NYC is in for a hurting. Subways will flood, some roads/bridges will wash out, LI will be thrashed

And if one doesn't really like the wars, say they got a Nobel Peace Prize, one could go "Oh, hey the nation can only spend so such money and we can spend it on fixing NYC or keep it in the various foreign military efforts, so to nite I'm announcing the pull out so we can spend the money on repairing NYC"

Supposedly NYC is situated in the center of a corner shaped shoreline. Get the "right" wind direction driving the storm surge, and it can really pile up, right at the exit of the Hudson. This is why the New York hurrican disaster scenario is taken seriously.

NHC Advisory 21 "Best Track"

Hmmm... the track seems to be backing a bit to the west with each update. I might even get a puff of wind up here in NH!

If you consider a possible still Cat 1 and no electricity for hundreds of miles for a week or more as a "puff of wind" then yes...

This is a potentially disastrous hurricane. Small course changes can still make a huge difference though and hopefully it never strengthens as much as it might. Be prepared.

I wonder how many nuclear power plants could be affected by a combination of loss of primary power and flooding?

I wonder if there is any documentation of Nuclear Plant preparedness for a Hurricane in New England. I bet the file is about as think as the plan to deal with a major oil spill in the GOM or the Arctic. Image the Congressional hearings where they Gov says "why didnt we make you plan for a disaster. Cause we were smoozed not to"

I understand, and I am as prepared as one can be (usually for us the big disaster is ice storms). Yesterday I was sure it was going to pass well east of us. Now it looks like we'll be on the eastern side - bad. Still a few days though...

Irene seems to be undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. Recon is heading back in now and all their data will be fed into tonight's model runs. Should be a much better handle on it after that. It could still never really spin up properly with the replacement cycles - that at least should keep the damaging wind speeds down. Still it is just clearing the last island and now has a clear path before landfall in the USA.

Typically, eyewall replacement cycles result in significant "course corrections".

A large element of randomness is injected with eyewall replacement. That is what happened when Katrina crossed the southern tip of Florida.


Someone on the news today was saying that they didn't expect any further course corrections - esp regarding where the thing will make landfall in NC.

In the past, the insurance companies would play a game. If you would file a claim for hurricane damage, they would say that the damage was due to flooding. And if you would file a claim on your flood insurance they would say that it was hurricane damage. But this time around they could claim that it was earthquake damage and deny even more claims.

Uh-oh ... last I heard, people were saying it kept sliding eastward. I had enough trouble with Isabel in '03, I'd hate to go through such mess again. Isn't that colder front from the West the controlling factor, whether it pushes through at just the best time to shove that storm east? I sure hope so, altho that still wouldn't (?) help those in lower South much anyway.

That's kind of a worst case for folks in Delaware and New Jersey.

We were planning on being out there (in a hotel) for Labor day. Might not happen...

That track, if it is what happens, will at least weaken the storm via land interaction before it hits the big apple. A worst case for NYC would have it coming into NY from the southeast.

One wonders if Hurricanes shaped the Eastern Coastlines over millions of years. NY may thank NC for sticking its nose out in the water and being its barrier to this thing.

Both hurricanes and nor'easters move the barrier islands. They definitely cut new inlets through the islands and rearrange the connections of penninsulas with the mainland.

There are studies of the frequency and intensity of past hurricanes that are done by looking at the layers of sand separated by organic-rich sediment in the bays. The sand is washed over the barrier islands into the bay during major hurricanes.

Looks like the military is getting the message:

In parts of North Carolina, mandatory evacuations were under way Thursday.
The military moved more than two dozen ships out to sea ahead of the storm.
The U.S. Navy is sending 27 ships based in Norfolk, Virginia, out to sea to ride out Irene, a senior Navy official told CNN. An aircraft carrier is among them. Another 28 ships will seek more sheltered areas.
Three submarines were heading out to sea as well.

You know it is bad when submarines head out to sea.

And now military aircraft is leaving the scene: more than 200 military aircraft in SE Virginia preparing to depart for safe airfields ahead of Irene.

From what I am reading, Irene is not a Cat 4 but she is very large and is making 30-50' waves on buoys, which makes her more like a Cat3-4. Windspeed is not as big of a deal as the surge.

I also am wondering whether the Jets football game is a good idea. Probably not a great idea.

The Jets game has been moved up to 2 pm on Saturday, due to weather.


The stadium is in the "meadowlands". The meadowlands is a euphemism for "tidal marsh", which is located between the ridge forming the Palisades and which continues south through Jersey City to Bayonne and the ridge farther west beyond the Passaic River. It is drained by the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, which come together in Newark Bay.

Of course the elevations have been raised in various parts by decades of land fill.

Subways etc. closed at noon ... game at 2. Must make sense to somebody.

It makes sense to the owners and NFL. No ticket refunds :-)


Worst place for a submarine is tied up. Get a couple of hundred feet down and forget about what goes on above. Surface ships, you need to consider frying pan or fire.


NHC 11pm EDT Latest projected track.

Note still projected Cat 1 at Connecticut/Massachusetts border

Professional Mets (notably including military) are getting very worried about this at http://www.storm2k.org and the like.

Pressure now 942mb and falling.

That path may be the best possible ATM, given that a curve out to sea is not a reasonable possibility anymore (per recent reports).

Worst hit is NC area that is not that heavily populated (and Outer Banks residents know the hurricane risk there).

Weak side of hurricane hits East Coast north of NC, while steadily losing power.

A rain event by the time it hits NYC and Long Island.

Best Hopes for Irene,


This post in the last hour from one of the acknowledged experts at storm2k


Air Force Met
Moderator-Pro Met

This will be a Cat 3 at landfall along the coast of NC and will be a high end Cat 1 or low end Cat 2 as it makes its way up the entire eastern coast. The NHC track is about where we have had our track for some time and is what we are expecting.

Surge will be a big factor...especially given the size of this system...and the speed of movement....and the winds pushing water into the bays.

This will NOT be a tropical storm by its second landfall. The high-res Euro has the right idea on this. Baroclinic forces are going to start to play a role in this as it picks up speed and offset some of the weakening caused by lower SST's and land interaction. Irene's wind field will spread out even more and this will add insult to injury with the surge...and the downing of trees.

If you look at high res satellite now...you can see the inner core coming together. She is making her run at the low 930's and I would not be surprised to see the 920's before she begins to fill. I made that prediction earlier today and my commander's eyes shot upwards...and the pressure then was 950. We are now at 942 and falling...and the convection is just now getting going. Wait until this convective explosion works its magic.

On Anderson Cooper tonight the current projected path was said to be about the worst possible Irene path for NYC area as well. Scary storm surge graphics they showed came close to pushing the panic button I thought. But they did stress it wasn't projected to be the very "worst possible case hurricane" but could still be very bad.

http://www.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/# has historical hurricane tracks on an interactive map.

The above projection for Irene is highly unusual. If the hurricane comes across NC, Delmarva, and NJ, it has always been a tropical system below hurricane strength by the time it crosses central NJ. H1 and H2 storms have come up a parallel path just off shore, or they have headed inland up the Chesapeake/Susquehana or Delaware Bay/River valleys.

Not saying that the track isn't possible, but maybe the models don't completely account for steering by terrain?

Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Blog

Spectrum magazine tells the story of a Fukushima Plant worker who blogged about his retraining to operate the robotic vehicles working inside the damaged buildings.

But what is perhaps most significant about the blog is its technical content. S.H. is part of a team assigned to operate robots provided by U.S. company iRobot. The robots, two PackBots and two Warriors, known for their explosive-disposal work in Iraq and Afghanistan, have performed remarkably well at Fukushima, even after repeated jobs in high-radiation environments, which damage electronics.

By explaining what works and what doesn’t, S.H. made his blog must-read material for companies and researchers developing robots for emergency situations. One Japanese roboticist I spoke to, who asked not to be named because he’s working on a competing robot, called the operators “heroes” for their work and said the blog provides details “crucial for making a good machine.”
The article at:

From BBC:

Reporters Without Borders says the foreign nationals in the Rixos hotel, most of whom are journalists, are "the prisoners of a dying regime that refuses to lay down its arms". It has called on all parties to ensure their safety and said the NTC "must do everything in its power to allow journalists to cover the fighting freely and safely".

Curious though, why are foreign reporters consigned to one hotel in Tripoli in the dying days of an exiting regime? Tripoli is a large city of 2 million people plus. Surely there is more than one hotel that could house foreign reporters, one located in a less dangerous (i.e. Gaddafi controlled) zone. It's hardly the height of tourist season right now so alternative accommodation should be easy to come by.

Then again, knowing the propensity for failing dictators to use human shields, and adding the "you'll never take me alive" mentality behind Muammar Gaddafi's rhetoric, foreigners are in harms way wherever they might find themselves. Let's hope in their work to get the news out, they can keep out of the line of fire. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

Reporters had very limited freedom of movement under the old regime - Rixos was where they stayed unless they went out with 'minders'. Need to keep their heads down just now: lots of stuff flying about in their vicinity. The new guys and crews came in with the rebels. See Al Jazeera.

Don't forget the one (or possibly two) former US congressman also trapped at the hotel.

All now reported free unharmed. Cars marked "BBC" arrived at hotel compound 30 minutes ago. It seems Gaddafi forces then persuaded to allow all to leave.


#Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out! #rixos
31 minutes ago
BBC cars arrives at #rixos, BBC crew is leaving the hotel.
33 minutes ago

I imagine the threat of extreme pain and suffering caused the big Q to reconsider his hold out plans ;-)

Russian cargo space ship fails

A Russian cargo space ship failed to reach the proper orbit Wednesday shortly after blasting off for the International Space Station (ISS), news agencies quoted space industry sources as saying.

The Progress-M-12M cargo vessel was carrying some 3.5 tonnes of supplies for the international crew on board the space station.

RT Moscow (tv) reporting crash in eastern Russia. 3rd stage reported to have failed 5 minutes into flight.

Oh well there's always the US Space Shuttle - oh wait a minute. Oops.

Private US company SpaceX will be delivering supplies to the space station in December. They have a contract for three or four supply missions per year for the next four years. Cost 10x cheaper than space shuttle.

if it wasn't for the fact that trying to put a presence in space is a fools errand at this stage of the game, i would be drawing parallels to the westward expansion of rail and how letting private industry do it would be the same as the government letting the rail companies back then use their own rail width standards. Not to mention any private company is legally bound to put profit above all else is not a good combination when one little error means catastrophic death.

One of the Mercury astronauts said, while waiting for lift-off, that he started thinking 'Everything behind, below me was built by the lowest bidder. We should rll US rockets have been built by private companies who value profits. Now, what is the difference?


It is a privately held company they are not legally bound to pursue profit. In fact the owners have stated their commitment to get humankind out of the cradle as their top priority.

"Private US company SpaceX will be delivering supplies to the space station in December."

Private US company SpaceX barely got a dummy payload into orbit on their last try. I hope they succede in getting a load of supplies to the ISS, but it's far from a sure thing.

This stuff is really difficult.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 19, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 15.7 million barrels per day during the week ending August 19, 244 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased slightly last week, averaging 9.3 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging nearly 4.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.8 million barrels per day last week, down by 477 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.1 million barrels per day, 546 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 894 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 161 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 2.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 351.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.0 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 19.6 million barrels per day, up by 1.4 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.2 million barrels per day, down by 2.4 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 8.3 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 6.0 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

4.8 million barrels released from the SPR during the week. Usual unexplained upwards "adjustments" with another 2.8 million barrels of crude and 1.2 million barrels product turning up from nowhere in addition to SPR release.

Stocks at Cushing reported unchanged from last week at 33.7 million barrels but PADD 2 refineries only operated at 90.6% efficiency when they were at about 98% recently. Despite this PADD 2 overall (including Cushing) dropped by 600,000 barrels.

Without the SPR release crude stocks would have dropped by 7 million barrels.

After the oil of summer is gone

As of last Friday (August 19), the Strategic Petroleum Reserve had released about 20 million of the 30 million barrels of ‘Louisiana Light Sweet’ oil that it had sold to various refiners, pipeline and terminal operators, and even ‘Wall Street’ oil trading firms. In just the last week covered by today’s EIA report, commercial oil inventories would have dropped by just about 7.0 million barrels without the SPR oil – which in any season would have been a huge drop.

While it is not entirely clear what would have happened this summer without the SPR oil release, it is easy to imagine that oil prices – especially that of WTI that is the type of oil represented by the commonly quoted oil futures price – would be higher. But perhaps the SPR oil was even more vital than that. Total US oil supplies (commercial plus the SPR), and also including oil products like gasoline and diesel, are now 71.4 million barrels less than last year. Based upon this accelerating downward trend, when the SPR oil of summer is gone, the US will be left with low supplies of oil and various products. The current trend in oil imports, about 545,000 bpd less than last year comparing the latest four weeks, is insufficient to sustain the US economy in the long run. While the import drop does not seem too severe – it is only about 6% less than last year – US exports of various products, such as diesel, have picked up considerably over the last year (mostly to Latin America and Europe). More specifically, diesel exports to Brazil have increased greatly. Some may consider that ironic since Brazil is expected to supply the additional oil that the US needs for its future growth (if there is to be any growth).

Elsewhere, recovering from a rare Northeast US earthquake, the nation’s largest pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline (which transports refined products from the near the GOM to the U.S. Northeast), reported that as of 10:30 PM Tuesday (local time) that all of its transport lines north of North Carolina had been reopened. That was probably not a minute too soon, since Colonial continued to run its gasoline transport lines at nearly maximum capacity for yet another week. On a side note, well rather side line, Colonial also helped the Memphis, TN recover from severely low gasoline supplies cause by a refinery outage near there.

In general, gasoline supplies throughout the upper Midwest remain very low, but may be just enough to get that region through the end of the summer driving season without any major disruptions.

Charles - Been wanting to run this by you for a while. As memory serves we were already seeing oil prices slide down a little when the SPR release was announced. You, as crude buyer/refiner, keep an operating inventory you're free to adjust inventory as you see fit. So you see oil prices weakening a bit and then the feds say they're going to inject 30 million bbls into the sytem in an effort to lower oil prices even further. So if you see this as the short term trend would you not start using up your inventory while waiting for those lower prices when you then replenish your stocks?.

You keep better track of the numbers then me so: if you were using 500,000 bopd how much money would you have made/saved over the last 6 weeks if you had done such an inventory slide?

Yes, buyers/storers of US oil - especially in the Midwest/Gulf of Mexico coast, may have held off buying additional oil as the SPR oil was released. They may have even slowed buying of oil prior to the announcement of the release in anticipation of this action.

The price of Louisiana Light Sweet has risen about $6 to $7 a barrel relative to WTI since the SPR sale date. Using the release of 30 million barrels, oil buyers may be about $200 million better off with the SPR sale than without it.

However as you imply, the whole WTI market may have been also distorted by the release, possibly accounting for part of the fall of WTI vs. Brent. That is hard to quantify but an argument could be made that, for example, other oil buyers benefited by a few dollars a barrel or so by buying WTI less than they otherwise might have. Say $4 a barrel, for 500,000 bpd, over 30 days, that's another $60 million saved.

How exactly are they intending to replenish those essential strategic reserves I wonder? It had better be a calm, peaceful winter in the world.

More power plant woes likely if Texas drought drags into winter

A number of Texas power plants may need to cut back operations or shut down completely if the state’s severe drought continues into the fall, an official with Texas’ main transmission manager told FuelFix.

I hope folks caught that--"shut down completely"

Climate change will make these conditions essentially permanent in more and more places (when it is not putting plants under water.)

When people assume that PO will hit faster and harder than CC, they seem to be over looking these ugly little facts--it doesn't matter if whether you have fuel for you plant if you don't have a stable climate that it depends on for basic operating functions.

Power plants are not weather proof, as we have seen many times this year.

Expect much more of this, and at an accelerating pace in the next few years and far beyond.

"Power plants are not weather proof, as we have seen many times this year. "

Aug 4, 2011

River temperature forces nuclear plant to 50 percent power

Not even TVA can beat the heat.

On Wednesday, the utility had to bring a third reactor at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant down to 50 percent power to avoid environmental sanctions because the water in the Tennessee River — where the plant's cooling water is discharged — already was at 90 degrees.

"When the river's ambient temperature reaches 90 degrees, we can't add any heat to it," said TVA's nuclear spokesman Ray Golden.

Similar problems last summer forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to spent $50 million for replacement power, according to Golden. The extra expense translated to something between 50 cents and $1 on most electric bills several months later, officials have said.

Warmer river temps are forcing TVA to build an additional "super" cooling tower at the plant. With TVA "agreeing" ( being forced to ) shut down as many as 18 coal fired units, they can ill-afford to reduce production at their nukes. All units at the site were scrammed in April due to tornado damage to the grid.

One wonders, with the EPA coming under ever more pressure, when we'll see waivers granted to these plants for their cooling needs, further heating up the rivers and reservoirs. Ironic that reducing coal emissions will likely result in environmental damage elsewhere. No free lunch it seems...

Meantime, a battle is underway in our county to restrict or ban PV solar farms as they've been deemed "unsightly".

From the article:

officials expected the $80 million super tower to be complete in June or July...

If that's not the case, TVA has planned to spend another $80 million refurbishing four of the other cooling towers, which are original to the 45-year-old Browns Ferry plant, he said.

"When the river's ambient temperature reaches 90 degrees, we can't add any heat to it," said TVA's nuclear spokesman Ray Golden...

Similar problems last summer forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to spent $50 million for replacement power, according to Golden.

(my emphases and elipses)

$80 million here, $80 million there, oh, and probably yet another $50 here again--pretty soon you're talkin' about real money. And this from the technology that was supposed to provide us with electricity that was too cheap to meter.

I haven't heard of any wind turbines having to be shut down or scaled back because of heat or drought. Nor for earthquakes.

Which foot is the 'intermittency' shoe on now?

Nuclear basepower may not be there were the A/C needs to be turned on. Bottom line. Nukes are not going to mitigate AGW. They are going to add to the problem more or less with massive outlays of capital that could have been spent on other means to produce electric power.

Those unreliable fossil fuels !

The 4 GW blackout in Texas last 2/2/11 was due to unreliable fossil fuels. If wind had not been producing over expectations (4 GW) the blackouts would have been longer and much worse.

Best Hopes for Texas renewables,


Growing energy demand adds stress to water supply

A Google search for "world water shortage" will produce more than four million results in 0.17 seconds. It will also use a tenth of a teaspoon of water, experts say.

Given water's role in power generation, the impact of about 300 million Google searches a day is around 150,000 litres (40,000 gallons) daily -- in a world where water supplies are increasingly a major concern.

40,000 gal x 365 = 14.6 million gal/yr

It is cooling water. It can be used again to water crops.

Another big win for for natural gas turbines that don't use much water.

PV solar and wind don't use any water . . . another advantage they have that must be considered. (And that helps in California a lot too.)

PV solar and wind don't use any water . . .

How much is used in manufacturing?
And don't you have to clean the glass to keep up efficiency?

Though I'd think it adds up to a lot less water, there is certainly some used.

2nd Dubai Metro Line to Open 9/9/11

The first Red Line followed the built-up area of the coast for 58 km. The soon to be opened Green Line is 20 km long and wraps in a U through the most heavily built-up areas. Three more lines planned.

A local story with details

A map
although planned Yellow Line is not on map

The system is grade separated, driverless, and has three types of carriage - Gold for 1st Class (Men), Silver (2nd Class Men) and Women & Children.

Best Hopes for reduced ELM,


Alan - I just returned from three weeks in the backwoods of Bavaria. I've been back there for a few weeks every other year for a decade now. My impression is that trucking in Europe is intensifying. Larger trucks, more trucks. I'm avoiding the major autobahns at this point due to all the trucking traffic. I'm also told that many smaller spurs and lines have been pulled out around there.

Do you have any news, statistics, or impression on the direction of commercial transportation on the European continent? I seem to recall reading a few weeks back on this site that US commercial transportation was shifting slightly towards rail.

I do not follow the EU as closely as North America.

Rail freight is a fraction of trucking, and comparable to coastal shipping in the EU, and they are trying to change that.

EU wide rail improvements Ten-T (2005 plans)

The Swiss are investing 31 billion Swiss francs with the primary goal being a modal shift from truck to rail.

France is planning to more than double rail modal share in this decade.

Denmark-Sweden road-rail link will be extended to Copenhagen-Germany direct rail link.

More at


Diesel fuel is not as heavily taxed as gasoline in most of the EU.

Best Hopes,


Re: Brazil boom takes world fuel markets by surprise (uptop)

As the article implies, Brazil seems to have hit a speedbump on their path to, as a Bloomberg column put it a year two years ago (see below), "Taking market share away from OPEC." The problem is that Brazil's net petroluem imports increased last year (BP).

Based on the BP data base, Brazil consumed 121% of their total petroleum liquids production in 2005, and in 2010 they consumed 122%. In 2005, their net oil imports (total petroleum liquids) were 360,000 bpd and in 2010 their net oil imports were 470,000 bpd.

April, 2009: OPEC Cuts Thwarted as Brazil, Russia Grab U.S. Market

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- As OPEC nations make their biggest oil production cuts on record, Brazil, Russia and the U.S. are pumping more, threatening to send crude back below $50 a barrel as demand slows.

Interesting, in that Brazil is the poster child for crashing fertility rates. From about 6.3 in the sixties to 1.9 today. This is how we are to stave off overpopulation, according to those who think the population bomb is no big deal.

Fertility rates fell due to a number of factors, from soap operas to Ru486, but behind all is the belief women want more out of life with less children. They want to consume at the industrial rates, and lo and behold, there's not enough oil.


re the effects of declining fertility. I believe this is known in the demography trade as the "demographic dividend". When the birth rate falls, the proportion of kids in the population falls, so more of the population is working age adults, and more of those adults can work in the money economy since they're not looking after kids. Result: an economic boom on the back of cheap labour. The boom results in more oil consumption.

Boom for a couple of decades, that is. China had its demographic dividend in the 1990s and 2000s. Its working age population peaks in 2015, IIRC. Wages are already rising in China as the supply of new labour slows to a trickle.

The "surprise" made me laugh. Obviously the fuel markets have never looked at Jon Callaghan's Energy Export Databrowser chart for Brazil.

I thought the same thing. You cannot even see a blip of new oil leaving Brazil. It is as if nothing has happened.

USDA study re Energy Prices

The following letter was sent a few minutes ago to USDA re their new study which is listed above.

"I have spent the last two hours examining your new study, "Impacts of Higher Energy Prices..." and have a couple of questions, if I may.

I learned of your study from an interesting blog with this review:

You will note that the author wrote:
The report studies the effects of higher fuel prices of up to 5.3% higher annually over the next seven years (using EIA figures).

However, your study states (p. iv):
With higher energy-related expenses (fuel up an average of 2.6
to 5.3 percent; fertilizer up 4 to 10 percent), total acreage for these eight
crops would decline by an average of 0.2 percent (under the lower price
change scenario) to 0.4 percent (higher price change scenario) over 2012-18.

I interpret this to mean an increase in fuel prices of 2-5% over the seven years, not each year.

A 5% compounded annual increase (which is what I think our blogger is stating) would be considerable over six years, yet I believe that a projection that fuel will cost only 5% more in 2018 than it does today would be unrealistically low.

My second question pertains to the issue of "peak oil." Are you aware of any research at USDA (or elsewhere else, for that matter) on the effects to the agri-food sector of the impending peak of global oil production?

Thank you very much for considering my questions."

(I'll let you know what the response is.)

Europe Update: Greek Bond Yields Surge

The Greek bailout deal is under pressure ... and the Greek 2 year yield increased to 44% and the 10 year yield increased to 18% this morning.

Based on my "Thelma & Louise" metaphor, the cliff edge is the point at which developed countries can no longer afford to borrow enough money to keep their spending & consumption levels up. Based on that metric, Greece has crossed over the edge, and many other countries, including the US, are not far behind.

At what point does the still high level of US oil consumption become more of a threat to our creditors like China than the benefit that they get from loaning us money to buy stuff from them? I don't recall the exact numbers, but a talking head on CNBC yesterday or the day before said that China's exports sales, as a percentage of GDP, were falling rapidly.

One of the links above is a follow-up to this: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/08/michael-pettis-long-t...

Exporting countries may suffer more from low demand than importing countries in the long run. The author of the article I linked to, believes Germany is in for it.

In the case of China, the guy's point was that they were becoming less reliant on exports to the US, and more focused on meeting internal demand.

re. Northern Gateway

This was posted an hour ago:


The EIA shows that the US imported about two mbpd of crude oil from Canada last year (net Canadian exports of total petroleum liquids were about one mbpd in 2010). I assume that virtually all of the gross crude oil exports were from Alberta to the US Mid-continent, and thus Canada is of course a victim of the WTI/Brent spread.

In any case, because of the WTI/Brent spread, it seems to me that Canada is delivering an annualized gift of about $18 billion per year to the US (2 mbpd X 365 days X $25), or about $50 million per day*, while Eastern Canada has to pay Brent prices for imported oil.

*Of course, as Undertow has noted, the $50 million per day gift is really to Mid-continent refiners, who are retaining the spread between WTI and Brent prices as vastly increased refining profits.

Yup. I brought this subject up several months ago, unfortunately, I wasn't well enough versed in the subject to express it exactly right. But Canada isn't helping its balance of payments with this situation at all. Basically, the Canadian consumers are subsidizing the U.S. consumers. Aren't "Free Trade" agreements wonderful?

jabby - Or as I explained to wt down below, the US is supplying Canada with revenue they would not be receiving if we didn't buy their oil.

You're welcome Canada.

As mentioned above it is actually US mid-west refiners being subsidised not US consumers who continue to pay world prices for refined product.

US average pump price still corresponds to world oil prices at about $110 barrel (not WTI at about $85) and the recent fall has about bottomed out, barring another fall in world crude prices.

Good point.

Someday I'll understand this thoroughly..............maybe;-)

jabby - Just thought of another perspective: why should a mid west US refinery pay more for that Canadian oil than a Canadian refinery? Do we owe them a favor?

WT - That's one way to look at it. The other is that we're giving Canadian producers a $65 billion per year gift by buying their crude they have no better market for. After all, if they didn't like the price we're paying they're free to shut down their operations and keep all that oil for themselves. Or, even better, build a new oil line and sell it to their east coast cousins at a higher price.

The WTI/Brent spread was zero in July, 2010, and it was $20 in July, 2011. It is now in the $24 to $27 range. Undertow has noted that Cushing inventories are now below year ago levels, so it's hard to come up with an argument to support the WTI/Brent spread.

I think that Mid-continent refiners have basically decided to give Canadian oil producers the middle finger salute. I suspect that Mid-continent US producers are primarily collateral damage.

But it seems to me that there are two types of Canadian and Mid-continent producers--those who are currently shipping oil to coastal markets and those who are looking into shipping oil to coastal markets.

I don't think that this short term grab for profits is going to end well for the refiners, and it will probably ultimately do long term damage to the country. As Rick has noted, apparently all it will take to shift a good deal of Canadian oil exports to their East Coast is to fully reverse their east/west running pipeline. I suspect that what they are headed for is Canada shipping oil both ways, west and east. And the US could then kiss about two mbpd of reliable oil imports goodbye.

wt - First question: why is the Cushing inventory low? Are the Canadians not willing to ship and hold oil at Cushing? Are the refiners not willing to buy Canadian oil and hold it in Cushing? Or a more basic question: who holds oil in inventory in Cushin and why?

And IMHO the US isn't kissing anything good buy. The Canadians are going to sell that 2 mbpd to who ever can pay the most. Just like they're doing today. Down the road it may be the US, China, eastern Canadians, etc. But I'm pretty sure it will be sold for the highest price available.

Not to but in, since I am not an expert, but is the quality of the crude a factor? A refiner needs the equipment to refine the stuff. Why would they release SPR light sweet if the Canadian stuff was around in an apparent glut? Maybe the oil quality is not the same and not all refiners are able to use it. So fewer bidders will be around to keep the price up. The whole thing is odd to me that we released SPR when we had the so-called tar sand glut. I know transport is critical, but it seems there is more to it than that.

Of course, the problem is the spread between WTI and coastal prices, which basically went from zero in July, 2010 to the $24 to $27 range today. IMO, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Mid-continent refiners have chosen to vastly increase their short term profits, at the expense of producers.

I don't think that anyone can dispute the fact that US refiners are now providing a $50 million per day incentive for the Canadians to start shipping their oil to markets besides the US, and as noted above, this incentive was zero in July, 2010. I think that US consumers are looking at a lose/lose situation. They aren't benefiting from the WTI/Brent spread, but they will probably feel the negative effects of Canada shifting their exports away from the US.

But in the short term, it's certainly a good time to be Mid-continent refiner.

wt - "I think that US consumers are looking at a lose/lose situation." Probably but remember what we say when no one on TOD is listenting: screw the consumer...we ain't there momma. LOL. Consumers loved supply/demand dynamics when the KSA flooded the market in '86 and drove oil below $10/bbl. Can't pick and chose how you want the leverage to swing. And I suspect consumers are benefiting but just a tiny bit. If the refiners were't buying that Canadian crude so cheap they would be shipping crude/product up from the Gulf Coast probably at a higher cost than the consumers see now.

And in the end I don't think the Canadians will use the current situation to determine who they'll sell to. It will always be the high bidder IMHO.

If the refiners were't buying that Canadian crude so cheap they would be shipping crude/product up from the Gulf Coast probably at a higher cost than the consumers see now.

Of course, the other option is to pay about the same price, which is what they were doing a year ago. And based on the WTI crack spread, consumers are essentially paying Brent prices right now.

wt - And they paid the same price a year ago because the Canadians demanded that price. And those would be the prices paid today if the Canadians cut production and demanded the same price.

The Canadians are intentionally flooding a market that is saturated...just like the KSA did in '86. The Canadians are setting the price for their crude...not the mid west refiners. The refiners have no option when it comes to pricing: the Canadians are setting the price. Maybe mid west producers should ask the Justice Dept to investigate the Canadians for "dumping" violations.

Yeaah...that'll happen. LOL.

Maybe the Canadian tax authorities should investigate the dumping. After all, it is lowering Canadian tax revenues. ;)

They are dumping to keep the US economy from crashing again. They are dumping to keep the BAU going just a little longer imho. What is interesting is that they are dumping and taking a cut in their profits. Now that is odd. Maybe they overbuilt the plants and facilities and this is the result.

If someone were offering me a $1.5 billion per month encouragement to take my oil elsewhere, I think I would be inclined to take my oil elsewhere.

I agree, WT
USA will feel negative effects if Gateway proceeds. The price spread seems to be the #1 argument by Albertans who support the pipeline project: they feel that USA is ripping off Alberta, and a bit of Asian competition will stop the great American rip-off.
But (as has been pointed out by others) Alberta producers should have some means to extract better prices, including withholding exports.

Meanwhile, I have seen absolutely nothing here in eastern Canada about the the fact that we are paying many millions extra each day for overseas crude when we could have more secure, less expensive oil from western Canada, if only Line 9 were reversed to Montreal.
My post at today's Globe (which points this out) has been received very poorly, but that's nothing new:

Of course, we have shakes all the time on the Left Coast, but I just had one a minute ago. In oakland they had a 3.6 overnight. Lots of quake activity or perhaps a lot of coincidences.

I get the USGS updates for all quakes above 3 in the SW. There are a few most weeks in various places along coastal and central Cali, N. Mexico, and the Cali / AZ and Cali / NV borders.

Yes, we had a 3.6 a few hours ago. A little rattler. I also got this quake in my email box, which I can post since it was from an anonymous student who is perturbed about the cost of textbooks:

Dear Professor,

I am writing this email in response to your announcement about the textbook editions. However, I have many doubts that you will just ignore this email. Like many other professors at this university, you believe you have better things to do than teach the next generation of teachers, researchers, and doctors. ...

I'm sorry, but I do believe that part of your job as a professor is to respond to student inquiries about the class which you are teaching. I am sure you expected such emails from past experience as a professor. Afterall, this type of inquiry is almost natural. As you know, the newest editions of textbooks are often $100-$200 apiece, and the previous versions of the textbook often contain very similar material, often with just a few pictures moved around or a few typos fixed. If you did not wished to receive such inquiries from your students, maybe you should have made it more clear in your syllabus. ...

Obviously you haven't made any comparisons between the two editions. Why not just have one of your underpaid graduate student instructors do this?

I will spare you the rest of the angst. Simply put one can use any text at their own peril, but we cannot translate page numbers for all 5 editions of a textbook and compare and contrast the myriad differences in each one. We just use the most recent text to be up-to-date. The tone is something else though ;-)

Peak oil and diminished resources for school = very angry students that take it out on asst profs. Shoot and I think I actually do care about the students. LOL. Oh well. I bet he felt better firing that SCUD at me (ducking under desk). He used a fake email address to conceal his identity.

That was a 5.2 I think.

At least it is relatively well written.

I got a complaining letter from a student who flunked a writing course that was so riddled with basic errors, all I had to do was point out to him that he could go to any of my superiors with his complaint, but all I would have to do is show them the letter and I would be vindicated.

More upsetting are letters riddled with errors that are from students who passed the course and are praising me as a great teacher :-/

We havent had a single lecture yet. The student is doing preemptive warfare. He also starts out kind of nasty with the whole my generation does not care about his gen. Sigh. A letter with terrible grammar from a student makes you cringe a little more. But what really kills me is that they get to threaten you with your teaching evaluations -- or not coming to your class based on a website where they rank you. Oh brother. There are 490 students: how could I possibly know the difference?

I feel your pain. There is nothing like a confrontational student, and I've had a couple doozies. I am lucky in that my institution almost always sides with the professor. I still manage to get good evals, but that doesn't matter to me. I'm going to do my thing until they kick me out.

I taught a class where among other things I assigned a research/term paper. I gave my usual rap about quality being more important than quantity, etc. One woman in the class started bragging about what a great writer she was, and how impressed I would be by her paper, etc., etc.

End of the semester came around. Her paper was almost unreadable. Long rambling sentences that really weren't. I don't usually edit a student's paper, but since she'd bragged, I figured I'd take up my red pen and do some mark up. After two pages, and finding myself writing things like "don't forget Mr. Verb!" in the margins, I gave up, and told her to do it over.

I mentioned this to my Program Coordinator, and said that perhaps she ought to do a remedial English/writing class. I was pretty much crestfallen when he told me that she'd already been through it. Oh dear.

In my classes, I'd say 20% maximum of the students can express themselves in writing adequately. The rest... it's depressing to think about.

The fault lies not in our stars, but in our English teachers who believe they are stars. ;-)

I know you're being cute, but that's harsh.

One Wonders what their class-sizes were?

and Kids need to read a lot to become decent writers.. the city library branch at my daughter's school was just closed as she started 1st grade, where lots of neighborhood kids would go to do their homework and read, use a computer, etc.. (The school still has a library.. but not something open to the public, or at non-school hours.)


Come on Jokhul, access to knowledge has never been easier than today.
If you want to read, you can pick a copy of any classic for a couple of dollars/euros/pounds (or whatever your currency is). It is less than the price of a dozen of carrots.
People today (in rich countries, of course) do not read because they do not want to, that is the truth.

Those people are not islands. They're part of a society, and the choices of our culture is predetermining a great many of the choices its individuals will be making.

Kids are surrounded by sugar and expected to know how to eat well..

They're confronted by highly designed ad campaigns, hundreds of eyeball hits a day, and you want to make this a question of 'Personal Willpower'?

Sure there is personal responsibility involved at the ground level, but as much or more, there is a responsibility of the Adults and the Owners and Leaders of the society to make choices that will feed a society's health, and we can all see that this is off the radar of most of those who have the power to initiate these priorities.

Kids are just seen as another market to squeeze.

Yes, there's a lot of info out there.. but if you lead a Horse to sugar cubes, do you expect him to go past it and drink the water?

Children are not going to read more with more money and less crowded classrooms. You cannot divert children from TV with more libraries, sad as it is.
The only players who can make an actual difference, IMHO, are the parents.

The parents were the children not long ago.. we have a vicious cycle established, and simply laying it on working parents who have less time and money available today for interfering in this downspiral is unproductive finger-pointing.

As I said above, individuals have responsibilities, to be sure.. but that point gets abused every day as part of an argument designed to excuse the responsibility of businesses and industries who are actively working to sell the society and it's people up the river in a blind dash for Dollars. They are fighting to reneg on any social duty that is given to every other citizen, and yet they cling to the definition of 'personhood' for dear life.

The Parents CANNOT do it alone against such a powerful and INTENTIONAL tide that actively fights this cultural imperative ..

But then again, what do you do against that? More funding or smaller classes will not stop the corporate madness.

More funding and smaller classes will give kids a chance to learn! What's your point?

Is there anything I need to explain about the importance of teaching our kids? In fact, if there's anything out there that can challenge such madness, it's an educated, literate population.. not another generation of brand-loyal corporate subscribers.

Underfunded schools is CENTRAL to this problem. Overworked parents is part of the same formula that is underfunding public education.

I am just questioning your equation:
funding + smaller classed = learning

Evolution in action. Just read a article about students in Korea. One of the featured students go to school from 7am to 11pm. The school had tried to close at 9pm but the students objected they were forced back to 11pm.

In Korea, school is only part of the story, and the reality is more about "peer pressure" and "family pressure" than government funding.
North Korea is 99 per cent literate, yet they do not have a dime.

They just need the proper incentives. Lots of my students spent a year in employment prior to the last year of their UG course. They came back much better writers, because they had had a boss who told them to go away and do it properly and kept telling them to go away and do it properly until they got it right. But because they pay us, rather than vice versa, we can't treat them like that.

Oct, been there, done that. There are no good answers, except that books cost $100 -$200 per class, and that's getting off easy. I took a class at trade school and I smirked even though the tuition was stiff because, heh heh, it's tech school, no $200 engineering textbooks. I shut right up when I found out about the $100 text book and $200 tool list.

Your student has not noticed that only the current edition of anything is in print. An instructor cannot send 35 or more students out to get a used textbook if, as you say, the assignments are keyed to page numbers and question numbers.

I studied overseas for a while and it was assumed that few students would buy the textbook. The common practice was to have a bunch of copies in the library for checkout and one non-circulating copy on reserve. I had children to get home to and it was a logistical nightmare. There were never enough books for everybody to check one out (for two weeks at a time), the reserve copy was always in use, and my library time had to be worked around my family. I took buying the text whenever possible, but that involved ordering from a US publisher and took time, after the semester already started.

Your student at least expects all students to buy private copies of the book, already a rich country solution to education. You could point out that books always costs money, whether it's a four year college or plumbing.

I replied this way. It is merely a practical matter, and I do care:

Dear XXX,

I know you are frustrated by the costs of higher education. I have two young sons and I worry about this every day. As a practical matter, it is very challenging to deal with various editions of the text. As there are 5 editions, this would mean that there are basically 5 textbooks with different content, chapter names & numbers, page numbers, example problems, and so forth. It is not possible to translate the myriad details from one edition to the next unless the publisher were to provide these details themselves. You would probably be fine in using the 4th edition but remember the professors cannot be held responsible for missing content, confusion, and so forth. We cannot be held responsible for being versed in the nuances of each edition either. For that, you would need to speak to the professors at U. Madison-Wisconsin, who produced the text.

As far as the bookstore goes, they are at the peril of the publisher. So are we, the professors. We could not in good faith assign the 4th edition because there are not enough 4th edition copies printed or in the used market to satisfy the demand of 1000 students per year at UC Berkeley and other institutions.

It is a practical matter and not one of neglect or disinterest in our students.

Best wishes,

As one who is involved in higher eduction, textbooks with a rapid succession of new editions are, in my opinion, largely a racket (sort of like the GRE, but I digress). This method simply reduce the used textbooks to virtually worthless in short order and this in turn forces the purchasing of the new editions since, as you describe, course material is based on the latest edition. I know of one professor here at UBC who has responded to this problem by offering the required textbook to his students in photocopied loose-leaf form for about $35, a much more reasonable price. Note that he is the author of the book. Maybe more textbook-writing professors who care about the impact of ever escalating university costs on students will do something similar. Another means is to offer each chapter in PDF format for the students to download (on a secure university website) at no (or minimal) cost--I have seen this done for some textbooks.

There are, of course, other options. Those students who are well-organized could possibly share textbooks and spread out the cost. And, as mentioned, there is always the library--but typically there are only one to a few copies are available.


What I fail to understand is why on earth a good teacher would require his students to use a textbook at all?
Did Plato use a textbook???

If I have learned one thing from higher education, it is that textbooks are supposed to make you do a lot of things, except what actually matters: think.

Good point. A text is a guide to the course and not required but some students need to read and others need to listen to learn. I give out all my lecture notes in PDFs and even my electronic chalkboard notes too, but the most important way to learn science is to think through various problems imho.

The difference also from Plato and good old fashioned thinking is that biochemistry has a lot of detail, pathways, structures and so forth, requiring at least a basic text is a nice solution to organizing the course.

Once you understand biochemistry then you can be a Plato and rarely if ever open the old text.

A good text, for a good student, is something he/she can hang onto for an entire career. I see plenty of engineers, with their college texts in the office -and not just for show. The most efficient place to look something up, or brush up on something you haven't used in a long time, is the textbook you learned it from in the first place.

Thats probbaly, why I don't remember any continuum mechanics. I aced the course, but was too cheap to buy the textbook!

"the most important way to learn science is to think through various problems imho."

I agree. I actually would change your "science" into "anything", because you do not solve a philosophical problem without thinking through it either.

I have a question for you, though: could you teach biochemistry in a low-tech world? Without textbooks, PDFs, power points presentations, and fancy in-class experiments? Imagine that all you have is a chalkboard, and all your students have is a pile of good old paper (and a pen, obviously).

You can teach biochemistry with words and chalk. In fact we have graduate students do just that to qualify for a Ph.D. They do a chalk talk.

The high tech jazz is only a way to get the notes into a computer format for preservation purposes. I do lectures as chalk only from time to time but the students like the PDF files.

Back tot he sugar cubes, and they make their voices heard -- so we capitulate.

Once you understand biochemistry then you can be a Plato and rarely if ever open the old text.

Larry Moran is one biochemist's blog that I visit regularly... He does a nice review about basic biochemistry in his latest post.


So how many politicians know what ATP is, or have even tried to understand something like the Krebs cycle?

As for Plato... Meh, He'd probably fit right in with most of today's anti science, wishful thinking crowd.

Carl Sagan said of Plato: "Science and mathematics were to be removed from the hands of the merchants and the artisans. This tendency found its most effective advocate in a follower of Pythagoras named Plato." and: "He (Plato) believed that ideas were far more real than the natural world. He advised the astronomers not to waste their time observing the stars and planets. It was better, he believed, just to think about them. Plato expressed hostility to observation and experiment. He taught contempt for the real world and disdain for the practical application of scientific knowledge. Plato's followers succeeded in extinguishing the light of science and experiment that had been kindled by Democritus and the other Ionians."

I'll take Sagan over Plato any day!



Plato expressed hostility to observation and experiment.

Ah. Then he must have been an "economist".

Only an economist would understand that it is economically more efficient to do thought experiments as opposed to actual experiments, observations and real life testing of the purists' theories.

So let us begin:
... imagine a free market,
... imagine a rational buyer,
... imagine an honest salesman (of used horse chariots)

Ergo the system goes forward quite well

Wow. A qualitative comparison between Carl Sagan and Plato...

The world really must be encased into the only narrative you know, mustn't it?

The world really must be encased into the only narrative you know, mustn't it?

Yep, and the story line is based on an understanding of the laws of nature through science and mathematics.
Don't have time for bullsh!t discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I leave that to religious apologists, philosophers and neoclassical economists... Reality is much more interesting!

What I fine fascinating in your posting is that you completely dismiss all the thinking that came before science as irrelevant, with the same moderation a religious zealot would try to squash every form of dissent from the orthodoxy.
If you were interested in anything else than science, maybe you would see that you are reproducing thoughts patterns that are older than time itself, and you are doing so while thinking yourself supremely right, because science explains everything. But right, history of ideas, philosophy, humanities, all of these things, they are just a heap of bull.

That leads you to completely unscientific patterns of behavior, such as lambasting Plato without having actually read him (what about experimentation based on reality, sir?), or bringing forth judgments that are not based on any thorough research of the subject (our discussion about acupuncture) but gut feeling (ie, said discipline cannot be explained using the tools I religiously believe in, so it must mean that said discipline is utter nonsense, and it is in no way possible that my tools are what is flawed).
Between a creationist worldview and yours, I am sorry to say that I see little difference. Oh but that's right, your narrative is based on facts, not theirs. So cockiness is justified, because the human experience is such an easy thing to unravel, right?

Most of our best scientists in history used to be philosophers also. But that makes them quacks willing to discuss angels dancing on the head of a pin, right? Or maybe, just maybe, they have seen something that you have not?

Or maybe, just maybe, they have seen something that you have not?

Show me the evidence and I'll change my mind!


Acupuncture is a pseudoscience. The practise is based on untenable principles and the small amount of evidence there is to support its use in pain relief can also be called into question.

Although there are claims that it has a mild pain relieving effect, it probably does so simply because it's an elaborate placebo. Whether the mild pain relieving properties of acupuncture are real or not, the claims of the efficacy of acupuncture are grossly over-exaggerated.

If there is a use for Acupuncture, it can only be in mild pain relief. The question then becomes a matter of whether the cost of acupuncture for this mild pain relief can be justified.

May I suggest something for which there are unequivocal, empirically tested results, backed by a deep knowledge in biochemistry and physiology, Aspirin...

So, what you are saying is, basically: if science fails to explain a phenomenon with its tools, the said thing simply does not exist. In no way is it remotely possible that science itself is flawed or simply not enough to explain every phenomenon.
My turn for an absurd request, then: explain science using the Bible. You can't? Ah, science does not exist!

But alright, I will play by your rules.
What about this, after a 2 minutes research?

Re your link, that just confirms exactly what I posted! And, why I suggested you'd be better off spending a buck for a bottle of generic off the shelf Aspirin as opposed to going to an Accupuncturist. You get a lot better bang for the buck from the Aspirin.

My turn for an absurd request, then: explain science using the Bible. You can't? Ah, science does not exist!

Sorry, I just wasn't able to parse that on any level... granted, you did say it was an absurd request.

My link clearly explains that the placebo effect is only part of the story, which contradicts the article you quoted. If ignoring the elements that are not in favor of your argument is the way you do science, well, it is your choice.
So acupuncture works, and without the use of any chemical, contrary to your sacrosanct Aspirin. The fact that science has no idea why is irrelevant.

As for my request, I was just using your way of conceiving the world and carrying it to absurd lengths.

So acupuncture works, and without the use of any chemical, contrary to your sacrosanct Aspirin. The fact that science has no idea why is irrelevant.

Um, no it doesn't. Did you just decide to ignore the quote which I posted?

If there is a use for Acupuncture, it can only be in mild pain relief. The question then becomes a matter of whether the cost of acupuncture for this mild pain relief can be justified.

What part of that statement didn't you understand?

As far as science not having any idea, I'm pretty sure that science is quite capable of elucidating the details of any natural phenomenon because that is precisely what it does best. If acupuncture provides measurable pain relief then it does so by a mechanism that can be tested for and described. It certainly isn't magic.

The question would still remain if it is more cost effective than taking an aspirin. My hunch is that it is not but feel free to show me the numbers.

BTW I have no idea why anyone would consider aspirin sacrosanct it just happens to work and we know how and why it does so. It's also mass produced and very cheap.

There was one class I took at Ga Tech taught with a professor who refused to use a textbook. He commented on the first day of class how "Textbooks are written for teachers, not students."

I'd like to see required freshman college courses that specifically teach how to think and how to analyze and how to compare pros and cons of multiple courses of action and how to identify and discard unrelated thoughts. Also, foresight development is sorely needed with understanding of long term consequences of seemingly appealing short term solutions.

The prices of these books are a problem. My kid complained to his Physics teaher last year, the text was something like $330. And you had to buy a new one despite many used floating around, because it included software license. I saw the rather awful software at work. It would let you -if you were that the sort of student, just guess formulas, until finally it agreed you had the correct one. Then if you said the answer was something like PI over two, it would convert it to decimal, and give you a canned lecture about using too many significant figures! So yes. I really would side with students complaining about outrageous textbook prices.

Geez. If you go to OpenCourseware, I bet you can print out detailed course notes for several different similar courses and other than the price of ink and paper, the cost is zero! With all the cutbacks in state aid, if we still expect higher ed to be available to the middle classes, we gotta start innovating wrt cost.

Open source videos of lectures, open source textbooks, we could use some software to create study groups. It would have to allow some level of selection by the group members to weed out inappropriate members (members who waste time and contribute nothing). The study group can talk with video in real time on the web. In addition to the lecture videos there could be videos of specific (often encountered) problems explained by experts. The recurring costs would be just the web hosting cost, small.

Many of the first rate university are dabbling with online lecture videos (I do not know if they are open source, I doubt it). Who will be the first to go whole hog? Maybe a university in China or Germany, or Egypt?

Many of the first rate university are dabbling with online lecture videos

But, the incentives are all wrong. Maybe these U's are deluding themselves, that enough students will still be willing to pay full price for an education, and all the new tech will mean for the U, is that the profs can spend even less time/effort teaching. The reality is that if this stuff takes off, revenues will plummet enough that BAU (paying tenured faculty decent salaries) won't be sustainable.

I think the move will be to openware texts. My goal will be to slowly write a completely openware Biochem text.

Gosh, Oct, I understand his frustration (and yours), as the textbook thing is clearly a racket. I went back to school a few years ago, took three courses using the same textbook over three consecutive semesters, each requiring new editions of the same text. While I know it isn't the prof's fault, it still stinks. Besides being a gross waste of resources, it is a big part of the rising costs of college. Since I was paying my way out-of-pocket, I stood my ground saying that I would deal with it. In the example above I discovered that one need only add 3 to the page number second semester and 7 the third semester. The dept. head threatened to drop me from the course if I didn't buy the new editions.

My stepdad, who was a bigwig with the association of school accreditation (and dean of educational law at another, much larger state university), gave the guy a call. Dr. B'hole called me into his office and asked me to keep it quiet and that he would wave his dept.'s requirement that I have the latest text. I basically told him to KMA. Two semesters later, I was called to the regent's office and told that my pre-reqs had been "invalidated" because they were either from the military or earned in another state; blatantly retaliatory. All credits had been previously certified, approved and accepted. It took a lawsuit and using some previously mentioned clout to get it straightened out. It would have been cheaper and easier to just buy the damn books.

Whatever happened to the desire to actually educate folks? I agree with Greer on this one: higher education is in deep trouble and is due for a big reset, along with the rest of our systems.

Wow, that's quite a story. Glad you prevailed.

Well, some of us at Berkeley want to subvert the system. We want to write our own open-source texts, but that will take time. I already make open-sourced lab equipment to undercut the extreme profits on basic things -- VP of marketing at New Brunswick Scientific got mad at me but hey I can do whatever I want to. I put the plans on my website for anyone to build. I am not selling anything. But for textbooks, they are a lot of detailed work.

The publishers offer illustrators and editors and problem set designers to help with the workload all in exchange for the intellectual property rights. We sell our souls to the devil. Yes and then the relentless upgrading every 5 years or less thereafter. Biochemistry is a moving science so at least it makes a little more sense to update the text.

The problem for students is that there may be older copies around, but we cannot get the bookstore to stock old versions since they effectively are rare books. They can only stock the printed copies.

Now we are seeing movement to electronic access, which will be interesting. There still students will need to get an access key at the bookstore.

But I feel for the students. It is not a good situation at all.

Oct, your idea of open source textbooks is great! Many subject never need updating. For example mechanics in physics has not changed in 150 years.

I do not think an open source textbook needs pretty pictures. I in fact can not stand current high school text that are 80% pretty pictures and weight a ton. Start with simple text and over time fancy stuff can be added.

Profs get perks to require the new edition. They also get to keep their review copies, and sell them on e-bay.

My daughter compared a 7-edition gap on a history book and found just a few paragraphs added and the pages changed.

It is indeed an amazing racket.

My kids in school have to buy books at up to $300, with CDs and hand-outs added by the U. My grad classes (for working professionals) typically use much cheaper books available on-line for $50 or less new, and less than that used. They apparently don't try to stiff oldsters paying cash as hard as kids with loans.

I get squat from publishers. Basically for this text I get the following, web access to their on-line text. Anyone working this system from the Professor's side is doing it without letting me in on the game. I could use the extra cash too. The publishers are making bank.

So why not use the previous edition? Or will administration not allow you to?

So why not use the previous edition? Or will administration not allow you to?

There are logistical reasons (specifically, the inability to locate a sufficient number of copies for everyone in the class) to source the current revision rather than a previous revision of the text.

I taught for a few years at an engineering university and in the classes that required a text book. I placed a copy of the required class text in the department office and the library. I was young, single and living in a town with a very low cost of living. I understood the burden of student loans and did not come from a wealthy family, so I didn't think too much about it and paid for the texts out of my own pocket. Students could not remove the text from the office or library, but they could at least write down the homework problems. This practice helped reduce some of the anger that resulted from changes in text book revisions.

There was one text that included a CD, but I never saw any need to use it. The text never referenced the CD and the only way to learn the material was to apply the concepts to solve problems. When students were asked to solve problems numerically, I tried to provide solutions in a variety of different forms: Spreadsheet, Matlab, Maple, LabView and often Fortran. This served a couple of different purposes. Students could compare their solution to the provided solution in the form that they preferred. They could also compare different approaches to solving the problem.

You know what kills me. I lent out Edition 5 to an undergrad that never gave it back. So I am going to essentially use edition 4. So the problem is not that I need to use edition 5 but I am forced to because the bookstore cannot stock edition 4 -- it is not in print!

That is how the publisher controls their revenue. It is the pipeline of money for the publisher.

Software uses forced upgrade by creating compatibility issues between newer and old software in a similar way!

higher education is in deep trouble and is due for a big reset,

I fully agree. We have the tech, -at least for motivated auto-didacts, to learn the stuff on their own, for free. There ought to be something in between that, and the fully overpriced (and usually taight by a TA) univeristy class. And the way we are pricing the middle class out of the univeristy experience, we had better come up with the alternative pretty soon now!

We have all these smug profesors, secure in their tenure, who are happy to support the anti-tax Jihad. When state universities begin closing, because of no budget, and no students, I'll be the one to say "I told you so!".

RE: Big Reset

Like Leanan, though, I have to look at these assumptions with a renewed sense of 'sameold sameold' .. Even if Higher Ed looks like its about to collapse with a big boom; it, like the greater economy, or banking, or pharma .. you name it.. might actually be responding to each crisis 'just enough' so that the reaction is more of a slump instead of an earth-shattering kboom! (Some New Jersey friends used to call a certain form of merging into a lane of traffic 'scumming in'.. which seems apropos to the topic)

The predictions of imminent collapse seem to be built on the belief that these things are completely brittle.. and it turns out that many are able to bend, to make adjustments or minor sacrifices instead of just letting the world smush them.

Smushing happens, and we'll surely see a lot of it.. but we're mammals, we've got some smush-tolerance and strong survival instincts, both for ourselves and our creations and institutions..

Gosh, Bob, it's always those on the bottom that get smushed first and worst. Of course, the less fortunate folks at the base generally come "scummin' out" in some way, and find something to do; flash mob here, burn a few buildings there.....when their survival instincts kick in. 'sameold, sameold'....


It's possible that these folks will just stand on the corner and wave at those fortunate enough to afford books and such, as they pass by going into their institutes of higher learning. Doesn't seem likely though. Brittleness takes many forms, as does collapse.

Know this: Alot of folks have been smushed and bent about as much as they can tolerate, and many don't even know it yet. The level of leveraging in our systems is about equal to folks' sense of entitlement and their level of denial. Methinks those of us in reasonably stable situations are poorly positioned to ascertain the real levels of tension in our systems, at least until some poor, hopeless soul sets himself on fire, live on prime time CNN. Then again, perhaps most of us have become quite comfortably numb, immersed in the soma of our quiet little lives.

BTW: It seems a storm has drawn a bead on your little corner of the world. Let us know where to send the care packages ;-/

Thanks, G.

My main concern is my experimental solar junk on the roof of the other house.. (The one with my tenants in it!!) I'm always wondering just how much of a Blow it will be able to handle.

Luckily, it's all softwood, so it's not brittle.. except for that big sheet of tempered glass!

In case my initial point was too hazy, I'm just saying that as the situation changes, people will react and make various adjustments.. while there are some 'collapse' arguments that seem to paint us as a static mass.. like the Grid Failure discussions. Is it really likely that when the pieces fall down that we won't either be repairing what we can, making design changes or scale changes, or distribution changes to adjust for a changing set of conditions? Even without money or resources, people do respond to a crisis and do what they can to change course, and this is the 'flexibility' that I'm pointing towards..

I do think we're heading into a serious energy and all-too-likely a population decline 'of some sort'.. but I'm highly skeptical of those who paint that future scenario with too much certainty and unknowable details.

As pathetic as we've seen people behave in this Oil-spoiled time, people can also be pretty spectacular, or at the very least, surprising. (Take my wife..)

There are a LOT of possibilities for what's to come.

It just started raining.. my daughter and her friend are out on the porch, squealing with joy. See you on the other side!




PO contraction pressure is everywhere.

I'd be more perturbed that the students hadn't thought for themselves and were still subscribing to the textbook rip off.

I thought it was generally understood by now that the students form a syndicate to purchase a high speed double sided scanner (a few hundred dollars) One copy of the relevant edition was purchased and scanned and all members of the syndicate get a PDF copy to use for coursework.

Much more practical (no lugging around dead trees), many books would already be available online from the usual sources, and a touch of OCR and you could even get a searchable version.

Isn't that generally recognised as the method at US universities?

Even better; download all the books into kindle. One thin device will hold all your books!

some of them are offering e-book versions. though not to much cheaper then dead tree ones. $70 instead of $100 for example.

It is illegal in the US but I think this is the method in China.

As I understand it, its the generally accepted method. Maybe it hasn't reached the US yet, but it usual outside the US - and for the reasons outlined above. Legal or otherwise doesn't come in to it.

The oil speculators are to blame crowd has fresh ammo.


USGS: Even more gas and NGL in Marcellus


Do we believe this?

ed - "The Marcellus Shale contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids according to a new assessment by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS)."

I'm willing to beleive their number. But mostly because their numbers don't mean squat from a practical stand pointMHO. 84 tcf = undiscovered. Thus not proven. And their guess is a good as anyone else's IMHO...or just as bad. More importantly: technically recoverable = can be produced no matter how much it costs to do so... $5/mcf... $20/mcf... $40/mcf. Just like there are $billions of gold that can recovered from sea water. It's not profitabble to do so even at twice the current high price of gold. But the technology to do exists todays and thus that gold is "technically recoverable" even if not one ounce is every economic to recover.

No doubt there is a lot of shale gas to be produced in our future...even more as demand rises and pulls NG prices back up. How much of that technically recoverable number will be produced? Dependent upon the price of NG. Accurately predict what NG will be selling for every day over the next 30 or 40 years and you can get an estimate of future shale gas production. Good luck with that.

Thanks Rockman, I missed the importance of the "technically recoverable" phrase.

ed - You're welcome. I do snipe at the boys at the Survey from time to time. But I don't fault them for hiding behind that little word game. I'm sure their bosses pound on them all the time for a proven reserve figure or URR number. Very daunting if not impossible to do with any level of confidence.

But, again IMHO, such numbers are at best of only academic interest. Peak NG rate is critical just as Peak oil rate. Not an easy target either but more of an immediate exercise. But it's easy to model current conditions. Particular the aggressiveness of public companies to meet Wall Street demands for increasing reserve base. Based strictly on profit motive from production it wouldn't explain the current drilling frenzy especially in the Eagle Ford Shale. The recent sale of a relatively small and lesser known public company for $12 billion due to acreage holdings in the EFS. If anything I might expect this to become a more important factor in the future as EROEI decreases. The hype now is huge. Imagine how investors would be drawn to public oil stocks when the worst aspects of PO arrive.

Here's a rather different spin, in this morning's NY Times:

Geologists Sharply Cut Estimate of Shale Gas

WASHINGTON — Federal geologists published new estimates this week for the amount of natural gas that exists in a giant rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from New York to Virginia.

The shale formation has about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, according to the report from the United States Geological Survey. This is drastically lower than the 410 trillion cubic feet that was published earlier this year by the federal Energy Information Administration.

A good discussion of the problems with estimating reserves and such follows.

U.S. to Slash Marcellus Shale Gas Estimate 80%

The U.S. will slash its estimate of undiscovered Marcellus Shale natural gas by as much as 80 percent after a updated assessment by government geologists.

The formation, which stretches from New York to Tennessee, contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said today in its first update in nine years. That supersedes an Energy Department projection of 410 trillion cubic feet, said Philip Budzik, an operations research analyst with the Energy Information Administration.

“We consider the USGS to be the experts in this matter,” Budzik said in an interview. “They’re geologists, we’re not. We’re going to be taking this number and using it in our model.”

Note disclaimer by EIA "They’re geologists, we’re not."

Tom Fowler at FuelFix offers his observations:
"Bloomberg notes that the EIA will now use the USGS data instead of the prior study. That begs the question: how good is the rest of the EIA’s data?"


Re: NLE-11 Pentagon Quake Nightmare: Fukushima on the Mississippi (from DB above)

... The results of May’s disaster exercise won’t be released to the public.

Maybe they didn't look hard enough

National Level Exercise 2011 Planning Overview
National Level Exercise 2011 (pdf)

... Subsurface faulting occurs along 45 miles of the fault zone, which greatly impacts highly populated areas. As a result of the earthquake, entire islands are disappearing, banks are caving into the rivers, and fissures are opening and closing in the riverbeds. Water is spouting from these fissures, which produces large waves in the river and produces numerous sand blows on land. New sections of the river channel are being formed and old channels are cut off. Many boats have capsized and an unknown number of people have drowned.

...There will not be enough deployable capability to meet all of the needs of impacted citizens. All levels of Government will have to make difficult decisions on where the most good can be made with the resources on hand.

(Besides the Nuclear reactors, they're a little worried about the Uranium Hexafluoride Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah,KY.)

Kentucky Emergency Management NLE 11 Private Sector Partnerships Briefing

Shake Maps - Slide 15,16 - Est. Economic Losses: $10-$100 Billion, Est. Exposed P{opulation: 654 K (>VII)

The Paducah Uranium Enrichment plant is scheduled to close in a year.

On Jan. 11, 2011, USEC Inc. announced that it is working to extend the operation of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant beyond May 2012 and expects to reach a decision during the first half of 2011.
USEC will base its decision to extend operations upon economic considerations and the ability of the plant to operate profitably. Because the plant is a large consumer of electricity, power prices are a significant factor in the cost of operations and future planning for Paducah. The Company is actively negotiating with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and others for power to operate Paducah beyond mid-2012 when USEC’s current power agreement with TVA expires.


Best Hopes for Higher Power Prices,


Do the Math: MPG for Electric Cars

A typical efficient car in the U.S. market gets about 40 MPG (miles per gallon) running on gasoline. A hybrid car like the Prius typically gets 50–55 MPG. In a previous post, we looked at the physics that determines these numbers. As we see more and more plug-in hybrid or pure electric cars on the market, how do we characterize their mileage performance in comparison to gasoline cars? Do they get 100 MPG? Can they get to 200? What does it even mean to speak of MPG, when the “G” stands for gallons and a purely electric car does not ingest gallons?

This post addresses these questions.

I won't embed the image, but I've become a big fan of Tom the Caribou :)

My girlfriend has had a Prius the entire 2.5 yrs. we've been dating. I've never seen its MPG over 44.

She must drive like my son. I get in the fifties regularly, but his milege sucks. A heavy foot, and an impetuous nature always insure dissapointing fuel economy. Avoid braking, and try to do long slow braking when you must to push charge into the battery. You can get longish electric glides if you are very gentle on the peddle.

Hey, I drive a 5500 lb F-150 on E-85 (that's 85% ethanol/15% gasoline) and I get well over 100 mpg on the gasoline.

Of course I get about 11 mpg on the ethanol.

Evidence suggests La Nina will return this winter

... The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center, or CPC, assigns less than a 3 percent chance that moisture in the upcoming four months will be sufficient to erase drought conditions in southern Arizona and New Mexico where drought conditions are most severe.

This doesn't bode well for the region.

"The bigger the droughts are, the longer they last," said Klaus Wolter, research scientist at the Climate Diagnostics Center at the University of Colorado. "I think when you have a big drought it can perpetuate itself."

Not good for Texas.

Not good for Pacific Northwest ag. You should see my peppers and tomatoes! Fortunately I planted a lot of cool-weather crops this year. Great cabbages, etc. Another La Nina means a lot of cabbage soup!

I live in Vancouver, BC, where the warmest temperature of 2011 to date has been 27.4ºC (~81ºF), this just a few days ago. Most of the summer highs have been below 26ºC and generally 18-23ºC. Despite this, the tomatoes have yielded better production than the past three significantly warmer summers. I have grown the same number of plants in the same space since 2009 (in 2008 there were fewer plants, so '08 can be discarded for comparison). Just goes to show--more variables are at play than temperature when it comes to produce yield.

Phenologically, many native plants were very slow to start this year, easily a month behind last year and in some cases two months. Now, it appears that leaves are turning early relative to last year, even for some of the non-natives (like sweet gum). A number of tree species appear to be about 2-4 weeks early on changing colour. Note that this points to, for deciduous vegetation, a significantly shortened active period of photosynthesis, which may translate to less energy stored. I suspect that my tomato harvest will not continue for as long as it did last year, but at least there is abundance if but for a briefer time.



What varieties of tomatoes did you plant???

Actually this year we tried beefsteaks. That was probably a mistake. Last year's crop of some other variety did pretty well. We have a volunteer from last year. Producing fruit but not ripe yet.

Flexibility and variety is probably the best strategy for the Pacific NW for years to come!

PS. Yukon gold potatoes and yellow onions did amazingly well.

Hi George,

I tend to grow the cherry tomato varieties, and the variety that tends to work well in my garden did even better this year: "Chiquita." I also have a few of the "Tumbler" bush variety. I am glad I did not try beefsteaks this year (I want to at some point) because I am pretty sure they would not have performed like the two I listed. I note that I have a patio garden, and upon reflection I suspect that proximity to the building may be influencing my production: Thermal radiation from the structure is almost certainly keeping night-time temperatures higher than they would be (say if the plants were in the park across the street), and this could explain some of the productivity this year. The plants also probably have not been as moisture-stressed as in past years. Sometimes I get a little lax in the watering, and with lower evaporation rates this year, the vegetation on the patio has done better.

Indeed flexibility and trying different varieties is a good idea.


mid vancouver island and way colder this year than both your areas. I live on the water as well.

We grow Purple Prince in a large greenhouse. My neighbour grows early girl. He has been in full production for 3 weeks, we get the odd one. Lots of promise, nothing ripe.

Potatoes are fantasic...but everything and I mean everything is a few weeks behind.

We have had no hot days this year. The river is too cold to even dip a foot in.

"Now, it appears that leaves are turning early relative to last year,"

Ah-ha! It's not my imagination. The pea-tree things along the irrigation ditch have a touch of yellow in their leaves. The potato tops have died off too, so it's time to dig them.

Cabbage did indeed do well. Late corn is really late, as in just coming on now.

Spokane has had 6 days over 90 this year, and may pick up a couple more this week. And that will probably be that. No days over 100 this year or last year. I finally did get to turn on my heat-pump in AC mode for a few hours. I'm pleased to say it really does work that way too.

Most years I drive to southeast Idaho, usually around the 4th-of-July (sometimes I go through Spokane). A striking change that I have noticed since about 2008 is the tendency for the traditional "wet" season in Apr-May, largely due to frequent convective activity, to persist well into June and sometimes July. This has resulted in much greener countryside in the semi-arid region during the first half of July. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I went to university at Idaho State, hot, sunny conditions typically left the July landscape looking quite scorched--even Junes were often left rather brown. The regularity and persistence of thunderstorm activity during my recent early-July visits has been quite striking and reminds me of what I took to be more typical of May during the years I lived in the region. An apparently extended wet season is only part of the tale--a tendency for cooler temperatures at the same time, reducing evaporation, has likely contributed to a more lush countryside during recent early summers.

The greener Julys could be related to changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), as there seems to have been a slow transition to a cooler (if but intermittent) phase since the mid-1990s that appears to have intensified since about 2006-07. Just speculation.


The federal government is ordering 55GW of old coal fired electrical generation plants closed over the next few years. They say they are only 45% used. Is that 45% for peak load? Do we have an over supply of generation plants? They talk about replacement with nat gas fired plants. Do we have a surplus of nat gas?

I have felt for a while that a shortage of electrical supply is being designed. Yes, no, maybe?


Hopefully the documents and articles at these links will help you understand the situation more fully and make your own determination of the answers to your questions:






Here is but a teaser from all that material:

CRS notes that many of the plants most affected by the new EPA rules were facing extinction anyway: “Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants, a development likely to be encouraged if the price of competing fuel—natural gas—continues to be low, almost regardless of EPA rules.”

Still, that’s a lot of plants. Won’t this wreak havoc on the grid? Not necessarily, the CRS report says, although the transition won’t be simple. For one, most of these plants don’t provide as much baseload power as it appears on first glance—pre-1970 coal plants operating without emissions controls are in use, on average, only about 41 percent of the time. Second, the report notes that “there is a substantial amount of excess generation capacity at present,” caused by the recession and the boom in natural gas plants. Many of those plants can pitch in to satisfy peak demand. Third, electric utilities can add capacity fairly quickly if needed — from 2000 to 2003, utilities added more than 200 gigawatts of new capacity, far, far more than the amount that will be lost between now and 2017.

The right-wing is desperately grasping at straws trying to paint this as some kind of apocalypse and is playing into the 'OMG, too much regulation is killing our job creators...we need to close down the EPA' schtick.

My take:

This is a win-win-win:

- Jobs created by retrofitting old plants and building new plants (new combined cycle NG and maybe new, modern, more efficient and cleaner-burning coal plants

- More efficient plants = using fewer resources per unit of electricity provided

- any resulting electricity rate hikes will encourage consumers to be more efficient; if utilities were smart they would parlay this into a drive to subsidize consumer energy efficiency.

- less mercury, cadmium, uranium, sulfur, NO2 released into the atmosphere means less polluted air, water,and land than otherwise would be the case.

This is a modicum of good news... I embrace this course of action.

Learning the lessons of Fukushima

• More attention needs to be paid to how radiation risks are communicated to the public, rather than the confusing mix of different measurements that were disseminated in this case. The most useful standard is to relate radiation releases to natural background levels, rather than using technical units unfamiliar to most people.

The new report, an update of a preliminary report issued in May, is available for download on the NSE website.

"The most useful standard is to relate radiation releases to natural background levels, rather than using technical units unfamiliar to most people."

But this makes me think of one of the most misleading comparisons of all: the (in)famous banana comparisons.

What could be more natural than a banana, right?

And then there is the problem of the difference between the various types of radiation--what you get from an xray versus particles of plutonium in your lungs...

I think a visual image is best--if exposed to this level of this kind of radiation you would:

be nauseated in X amount of time; lose your hair in Y amount of time; have Z chances of getting cancer over Q period...

Sorry I do not know the banana story. How does it go?

A banana equivalent dose is a whimsical unit of radiation exposure, informally defined as the additional dose a person will absorb from eating one banana. It may be sometimes abbreviated as BED.

The concept is based on the fact that bananas, like most organic material, naturally contain a certain amount of radioactive isotopes—even in the absence of any artificial pollution or contamination. The banana equivalent dose was meant to express the severity of exposure to radiation, such as resulting from nuclear power, nuclear weapons or medical procedures, in terms that would make sense to most people

Banana Equivalent Dose on Wikipedia

The problem, as I understand it, was that people started to use the "BED" based on all the potassium in the banana being radio active.

Another reason why leaving Climate Change to legislators is not a good idea.

Reforestation practices may be lagging behind climate change

... Currently, legislated forestry practices dictate that seed for reforestation cannot be transferred from designated zones where seed has been collected, but, said Gray, climate change is altering tree habitat so that the existing zones may not be the best places for current and future reforestation efforts.

“A lot of forest management strategies are based on data we have from the 1960s and 1970s, but the climate has definitely changed since then,” said Gray. Her research has revealed that aspen trees—used for oriented strandboard and pulp—are already climactically mismatched for their current seed zones. In turn, that has led to much less forest productivity over the last decade, Gray said. “It’s already happening, and we are behind the times.”

Don't count on gold in a downturn

For one thing, most things we want to buy on a daily basis are small things–a loaf of bread, some water, or perhaps a bicycle. Even if we had some gold coins, they likely wouldn’t work well for this purpose, unless there was a convenient way of making change. Silver coins would seem to be much lot better in this regard–at least the value of a coin might be somewhere closer to the range of what you might want to buy. A one-ounce gold coin that is worth nearly $2000 would be hard to trade for most things. Even a 1/10 of an ounce coin (worth close to $200) would be out of the range of many things you might want to buy.

I faintly remember a discussion on gold (wedding/engagement) rings here sometime ago. As in: it would appear as though you were pawning something sentimental as opposed to stockpiling gold bars/coins/etc. Does anyone happen to recall this as well? I did a search, but it didn't yield much.

No one is going to use gold or silver to buy bread or bicycle. We will continue to use the US $. However, the purchasing power of the US $ will be significantly diminished. If it ever gets to a stage where have to use gold/silver to buy goods then supply chain will break down and there won't be any goods available to buy anyway.

Don't count on gold in a downturn is a post I have up on Our Finite World.

I am not planning on submitting it to TOD--I don't think TOD would consider it sufficiently energy-related. One point I make is that I don't think gold would work well as a substitute currency, for a variety of reasons.

You are right; gold is not going work well as a substitute currency in the sense you won't be buying groceries or paying for college tuition in gold. However, buying gold today will preserve your wealth. Convert your $ into hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets today. Some day in the future convert them back into $ when you need $ to spend.

Do you realize that you have already lost 85% of your net worth in the last 10 years when measured in gold, oil and other hard assets? It will be worse over the next 10 years. If you stay completely in cash you will be destroyed.

I understand. I was simply asking if anyone else remembers the discussion in a previous Drumbeat (I was looking for the link).

I read your blog religiously, Gail. FWIW, all your posts are relevant :)

I think it's safe to say that you should hold a small part of your savings in Gold, not the whole thing !!

Since we are indeed discussing apocalyptic scenarios let me add two ounces from my own memory. During India's partition in 1947 millions died and millions of families were forced to relocate over hundreds of kilometers, sometimes overnight, and well as you can imagine there was chaos on the streets, riots, armed gangs, thugs and all that stuff, just the things you will see in a survivor's handbook.

I narrate this because my own family was among those who were forced to relocate, and as my Grandpa fondly recalls, the only reason we didn't become dirt poor overnight was because he was able to hide and smuggle some of that barbarous relic to our new home. Whatever scenarios you may give I can tell you this, even in the worst kind of deflationary apocalyptic scenario Gold will hold it's value, it's the only (Ok Silver as well) stuff that has been an international currency for past 6000 years. And it's incredibly liquid, you can carry your entire wealth in two bags wherever you want, it's a liability as well as an asset, depending on how you look at it. So go ahead and make all the claims you want to but 6000 years of human history will ultimately humble you.

People don't want to hear this, wiseindian, but you're absolutely correct. This story repeats itself over and over and is familiar to anyone who studies history.
Your family's story is a good one. My personal favorite is the one about the escapees from Treblinka death camp who managed to survive hiding out in Nazi occupied Poland because one of the escapees was the camp goldsmith and had managed to liberate a little bit of the stolen gold during his time in the camp. He kept himself and a few fellow escapees hidden and fed by paying off the locals. It wasn't because of the kindness of (anti-semitic) strangers that these few Jews survived, it was because of gold.

People just aren’t getting it. It’s not about getting $117.98 worth of groceries in exchange for $117.98 worth of gold. It’s about tipping the scales in your favor when things are desperate and there is no way to put a dollar value on the exchange, and you cannot shoot your way out.

The conventional wisdom is either 5 or 10% of ones wealth in gold.

Bingo! The Fed and the ECB will continue to print and the paper currency will continue to devalue. The Fed will use extraordinary & creative measures when things get worse (e.g., create money out of thin air and buy defaulted mortgages from the banks; then let the defaulted home owners live in their houses indefinitely with no foreclosure). Those who listen to Gail, et al will be poor and standing in the bread lines 10 years from now.

Leanan is often fond of pointing out that we are not using wheel barrows full of cash to buy groceries yet. That is not going to happen with the US $ because it is the reserve currency. If real inflation shoots up to 24%, money will lose half of its purchasing power every 3 years. At that rate, a $100,000 salary is reduced (in terms of purchasing power) to $25,000 in just 6 years. That is a slide into poverty and no wheel barrows are involved.

Either buy hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets or perish in the fire of hyperinflation. Farmland, etc is good but as wiseindian pointed out above it is not portable. You can easily fit a $1 million (soon $10 million) worth of gold in a briefcase. Try that with farmland :-)

Forgive me if this has been posted before but I have never seen the full clip


Thank you, that was very interesting. He was anti nuke and pro solar and he included population. This guy was ahead of his time.

I came to a shattering perspective on something today:

'The wildly volatile stock market is mimicing society's fight or flight lizard brain reaction to extreme stress.'

Nothing grabs a person's attention more than the economy, because it reaches into everyone's ability to live great, live well, meet bills, or barely survive modes into a higher gear of anxiousness that emotes an animalistic response reflective in the high and low notes the stock market is hitting, like a heart out of rythum.

Thumpety, thumpety, thump, as the blood flow thickens in the heat of the midday climate changing, peak oil plateau world we now find ourselves in.

Chaos theory applies to stock markets, whole economies, and heart beats!

Chaos theory applies to stock markets, whole economies, and heart beats!


Indeed what is "an economy" if not a structure that ensures flows of materials and energy (indirectly or directly) ultimately through the human body? We need to eat and drink, to have clothes and to have our wastes taken away. The "economy" is the interface for a person with the cosmos. We don't think of it that way, but that is what it is: our material beings need material and energy flowing through them or we will perish.

So the horrid part is that the economic structures that ensure a flow of these vital things----when based on purely the sun----are so different from those economic structures that ensure the flow when based on fossil fuels.

We are basically tubes and the economy provides the necessary energy ingredients and waste transport services for the tubes to continue to do their living.

Meet the cosmos as your body "sees" it: it is the "economy!!

Radiation-polluted tanker sent back to Japan

A radiation-polluted Japanese tanker on Tuesday left the Egyptian port of Ain Sokhna on its way back to Japan amid tight security measures.

The tanker was detected 20 days ago but only left the busy dock on Tuesday.

The Red Sea Ports Authority issued a warning to importing companies that they will not be allowed to use any Red Sea port if they import commodities that are polluted with radiation.

Abdel Qader Gaballah, head of the Red Sea Ports Authority, said another radioactive Japanese tanker was returned earlier this month.

SPECULATIONS; Did the Chavez Gold Repatriation Impact the Stock Markets???

Last week’s big drops in the market averages were never really explained (as if the financial pundits really “explain” anything anyway). By the end of the week, the declines were being attributed to major liquidity problems at banks in Switzerland, Europe, the UK, and the US which had required significant infusions of money by the central banks --- read that mostly the US Federal Reserve. I had seen nothing why last week, these “banks” in Switzerland, Europe, the UK, and the US were sudden insolvent, or at least lacked the cash to meet their current obligations. Then, I saw some ERRATA about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.

... President Chavez announced that Venezuela was going to repatriate its gold bullion deposits to Caracas from the depository banks in Switzerland, Europe, the UK, and the US. Humm???

When a depositor wants his (or her) gold back in “spot,” the depository institution has to replace any physical shortfalls at current prices in the open market. Replacing Venezuela’s 211 tonnes of gold at today’s market price of roughly $1,900 an ounce would not come cheap! Would that be enough to trigger the losses and the insolvencies at those banks in Switzerland, Europe, the UK, and the US? Humm…?

The whole 211 tonnes is only worth 13.5 billion dollars at $2000 per ounce. This is small change.

You wouldn't happen to have it in your pocket? Neither does the bank.

Small change for some corporations.


NOAA, oil companies will share Arctic information

An agreement to enhance collaboration on ocean, coastal and climate science for the Arctic was signed today by three oil companies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA officials said the agreement with Shell Exploration & Production, ConocoPhillips, and Statoil USA E&P Inc. calls for sharing scientific data sets for the Arctic, including weather and ocean observations, biological information, and sea ice and sea floor mapping studies.

Possibility of explosion at Lincoln propane fire increases

LINCOLN, CA - The rail tanker fire in Lincoln continued to burn Wednesday, increasing the pressure inside the car and the likelihood the of an explosion.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said 4,800 homes and businesses in a one-mile radius around the burning propane at 9th and I Streets were ordered to leave.

"Our fear is that not only does that rail car tank explode, but so do the tanks around it and with about a 1/2 million gallons of propane in that field," Berlant said

... A gas pipeline runs in the affected area.

related http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/08/24/propane-rail-car-fire-may-cause-...

Is there unfinished Macondo spill business? Good for a basically open thread. From http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/08/photos-oil-at-bps-deepwater-horiz..., various issues, summarized by subtopic headings:

BP Gulf Oil Spill: Leaking Again?

Giant Oil Production Ship Back In Area [Helix Producer I]

delver - Bit of an old thread from a week or two. Not 100% sure but I think they've decided the oil wasn't coming from that location. If interested I posted a video last week which is offered as the definitive answer to how the BOP failed.

Yeah, but why is that ship there?

delve - Every ship has to somewhere. More importantly that particular vessel would be of little practical use to either monitor or deal with a leaking subsea well. Also, drilling in the DW GOM has fallen off but the production hasn't stopped. It might be supporting such efforts.

Rock-- and that was a great video, explained a lot that I did not understand, and the way they married the graphics and pictures of deformed/eroded metal was very cool. Wish I had a link to some of the operational stuff that was also reported; procedures that were too complicated, stuff that could have been done in the crucial minutes right before or during those critical moments when the engines stated over-revving and hoovering methane or hydrocarbons or whatever, would be very interested in your thoughts on that.

I bookmark too much stuff on too many computers and can't find it later! What I sort of remember is that BK Lim was saying that in addition to whatever happened with the BOP, there could have been failures beneath the ocean floor in the casing or pipeline or something that caused seepage through the local geology. Could this not also have happened? Seems like there was probably wildly increased pressure below the BOP and several failure modes could have happened simultaneously...

Sorry, sure this has been covered in other threads before I joined...



The King is dead, long live the King

Steve Jobs: i-Quit

The story is that he has serious health issues of some sort..

I have very fond memories of the Apple II

Best wishes Steve.

video of Steve Jobs introducing the mac in 1984 - pretty cool


The more adventurous amongst us should surely now consider shorting Apple.

Their business model is shipping expensive products that nobody really needs all across the world, and trying to convince people to buy those same products, with a few tweaks, every couple of years.

How can this possibly go on in a post peak world?

Shorting tech and buying metals and agriculture might be a really good way to profit from the collapse. Might as well make some money on the way down, right? The problem, though, is that we have manipulated markets, and nothing makes sense any more. This is why I've lost my nerve. If you fight them on their turf, they can crush you.

"Their business model is shipping expensive products that nobody really needs..."

Possibly true. If, in my case, I didn't need a phone, or an alarm clock, or a pocket calculator, or a camera, or a compass, phone directory, transit schedules, weather reports, dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia. Technically I suppose I don't need recorded music, but that comprises a huge quality of life dimension for me, so at the very least it is a major want. So tack on the car and home stereo utility as well.

All this, for just $50., and a contract of course. Which if I'd breached it immediately would have meant a $250. purchase price for my iphone.


Of course there are embedded energy costs also, but my guess it would be much bigger in that big stack of cargo that got displaced, than what's in this elegant little piece of magic in my pocket.

Apple's products do fill valuable needs. However, they do tend to be priced much higher than competing products that provide the same features.

That was true five years ago. Not any more. If I want a Windows laptop with a backlit keyboard and an IPS panel display (because I want to see realistic colours in my photos), I'm paying about 20% more than the equivalent Apple. And it doesn't work as smoothly, and the battery doesn't last as long.

The backlit keyboard burns me. A twenty cent white LED and maybe fifty cents' worth of other circuitry. And they want a $300 premium for it?

Edit: Steve Jobs realized some time ago that there's always going to be others trying to eat Apple's market. And being who he is, he decided "if anyone's going to eat our market, it's going to be us!" That's why, for instance, he's now introducing a cut-price iPhone in China.

Prolly too late already to short Apple, it already corrected something like 4% in aftermarket trading.
Apple will hang in there, I think. On the surface, your argument makes total sense; who needs a bunch of expensive discretionary toys? But it ignores the core strength underlying Apple and much of the rest of tech which is that it's ultimately all about communications and socializing. People are never going to stop communicating and socializing; never. And the enabling structures which support this human need will be among the last things to stop being funded even in a post peak oil environment.

My grandfather was an old newspaper man. He died in 1968. He left a very substantial estate upon his death and most of it was in the form of AT&T stock. He said, "People will never stop talking to each other."
He was (is) right. Today, my grandfather would be a big shareholder in Apple, I have no doubt.

Microsoft has the same buissiness model for their operative systems. And people keep buying. I moved to Linux in 1999.

he quit as ceo. not apple. he will be on the board of directors to make sure his ego is satisfied in controlling how apple is run and how people use apple products.(iphone 4 your holding it wrong debacle.)

honestly they should put wazniack in charge, he was the better of the two and did not like screwing customers.


Today’s Gallup poll: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Republicans' current favorite for their party's 2012 presidential nomination, with 29% saying they are most likely to support him. Former front-runner Mitt Romney (17%), Ron Paul (13%), and Michele Bachmann (10%) are next, with four other candidates at 4% or less.”

Granted he’s still a bit in the honeymoon phase I’m a bit surprised his numbers are that good….especially against Bachman. I doubt many R’s really know much about him other than the headlines. I wonder if the poll is more a sign of displeasure with the other candidates than any specific attraction to “Good Hair” Perry. Still very early but right now it's starting to look like it’s his lead to lose.

If the drought continues how much will Perry have to ask the Feds for help or will he sacrifice Texas and Austin for DC.

will he sacrifice Texas for DC.

I assume that is only a rhetorical question.


vapor - Ask? Heck he'll demand it. Remember he's running for national office. He's going to turn the fed govt around and make it a friend to all the states. His pitch will be something along those lines I suspect. I can promise you one thing: he's going to come on as strong as horseradish and won't bow his head on any issue.

Yes...he's going to irritate the heck out of a lot of folks. And maybe become the next prez in the process.

I think once things sort out it is likely to be a Perry/Romney ticket. Huntsman might be the choice for vice pres, but I think Perry will bring the big-state, new sheriff in town angle and Romney will appeal to businessmen. If they stick to a main course of employment with a side dish of low taxes they have a pretty good chance. If they get dragged down into Medicaid, healthcare, and other Dem topics they'll lose in the press.

Bachman and Paul will serve to bring up fiscal responsibility and such topics, but I doubt they'll carry the day.

The mistake Reps made last election was to pick a centrist that the media liked....until he was running against Obama. I don't think they'll do that again, and will run a harder conservative message all the way through. Perry isn't really that far right, but he'll act that way now, I suspect.

If the economy remains stagnant, and I think it will, Perry has a very good shot at the presidency. Will be interesting to see what dirt gets dug up about him though. Mistresses? Gambling? Corruption? Foreign entanglements?

You guys are acting as though Perry has the nomination sewed up tight - we haven't even had a single primary yet! Seriously, it is a very l o n g election cycle, and it will be interesting to see if he has any appeal in various other parts of the country.

sgage - So true but aren't you surprised Good Hair's first poll number is higher that Romney and Bachmann combined? Paul won't ever be a serious contender IMHO. I see his numbers as a protest vote more than anthing else. And given who his supporters are I don't think it's much of a leap to expect many of to go for Good Hair once they are in the voting booth. They may love Paul but won't want to "throw their vote away". My take away isn't so much that folks have warmed up to Good Hair that fast but rather are not very satisfied with the two other likely candidates for the nom. I think that may be the critical insight. So at moment anyway, it looks like the nom is Perry's to lose. And given his mouth he's certainly capable of doing just that. We'll have to wait and see if his handlers can control him. If he's like most Texas politicians that will be as easy as herding cats. LOL.

Quarter of car owners driven off the road by rising prices

The rising cost of fuel and insurance is forcing one in four London drivers off the roads, a study showed today.

New research shows that 24 per cent of motorists in the capital have given up their car over the past 12 months.


Great link. Thanks for posting it.

I trimmed the excerpt down, though. For copyright reasons, the entire text of articles shouldn't be posted here.

Thank you Leanan. I'm a newbie :)

Hmmm... that goes along with the demand drop in the US. The article in the Drumbeat mentioned 2 MBD drop in gasoline demand. When I have time, I'll have to fact-check that number because it doesn't pass the smell test.

The country is consuming at least two million barrels of gasoline a week less this summer than last.

gog - Did you catch that the statement says per week and yours says per day? According to the EIA (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MGFUPUS2&f=A) average gasoline consumption for 2010 was 8.993 million bbls per day. According to Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-23/u-s-gasoline-demand-declined-0-...) average consumption for the week of August 19 was 9.06 million bbls/day, down from 9.14 million bbls/day the week before. So current comsumption is 0.7% higher than the average for 2010. Interesting given prices are higher now than in 2010.

No, Rock, I failed my reading comprehension test this morning. So 2 MBW / 7 day s= 0.3 MBD. I believe that drop.

If you take monthly EIA figures for gasoline delivered, then we also have had a drop in demand of about 4% yoy. The figure for June is the lowest June figure since 1997.

U.S. Total Gasoline All Sales/Deliveries by Prime Supplier (Thousand Gallons per Day)

gog - Being a geologist I tend to look only at big numbers...stay away from even one decimal place. LOL. That's why I like yearly averages. YOY is interesting but doesn't really give me the overall flavor. And right now that flavor is the American public still isn't taking conservation seriously. If consumption is down a tad it's probably because of the economic crunch cutting into their incomes. If the economy improves they'll start burning more fuel IMHO. And if the economy improves and gasoline prices fall some: they might go for the all time consumption record. That'll show those dirty Arabs and greedy oil companies. LOL.

The alternative to the "Drive Everywhere to Everything" lifestyle - Driving Optional.

This is what a massive expansion of Urban Rail, bicycling and walkable neighborhoods could bring to much of the United States - Driving Optional.

If (well, When) an oil crisis hits, make a tank of gas last several months, or just get rid of the car.

Best Hopes for "Driving Optional",


LOL. Oil prices have started creeping up already, welcome to the (fake) recovery...Brent creeping up towards 112$.
Gadhafi, Thank you for your oil.


"The vice president believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the one child policy to a Chinese audience."

Ha ha...keeping the population from exploding like rabbits is "unsustainable." Welcome to backwards world...

Overall, for negative population growth societies, fewer resources that are spent raising children is balanced by caring for a higher proportion of elderly past their working years. A sustainable shift of resources.

Chinese population will not peak before 2025 at close to 1.4 billion, absent unexpected developments, and decline slowly after that.

The number of "one child" exemptions has grown. A major one is that two only child parents can have two children. However, due to a change in social norms, many are electing to have just one child.

With enormous luck, and continued discipline, China may avoid the 4 horsemen as it's population declines.

An amazing statistic. Given current trends, an American child born today may well live to see more Americans than Chinese.

How sustainable is that ?


Overall, for negative population growth societies, fewer resources that are spent raising children is balanced by caring for a higher proportion of elderly past their working years. A sustainable shift of resources.

You seem pretty sure about that, considering no society has ever done it before.

Russia is well along in population decline demographics while Japan & Italy are in the early stages.


A bigger problem in Japan, because they have the longest life expectancy of any nation on earth. But apparently soluble even there.

Much less of an issue in Russia with their low life expectancy. However, in Russia, uniquely in the world, the low population density (outside Moscow and St. Petersburg) could be an issue.

Best Hopes for Fewer People,


It looks like Arctic sea ice is going back into (or is already back in) record low extent levels:



Yep. Slowly, very slowly, it is gaining on the 2007 trend. This is as exiting as a horse race, but in slow motion. I check http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ every work-day, it is very entertaining. Now both the Nort West and North East passages are opened too.

Still undecided if the 2007 september minimum record willbe borken,but as of now it is either that, or a close second place.

Arctic sea routes open as ice melts

Data recorded by the European Space Agency's (Esa) Envisat shows both Canada's Northwest Passage and Russia's Northern Sea Route open simultaneously.

This summer's melt could break the 2007 record for the smallest area of sea ice since the satellite era began in 1979.

Still 3 weeks of melt season to go.

Thanks for the links, folks. Keep in mind that '11 has already far outstripped every other year for minimum total ice volume.


Suezmax Tanker Vladimir Tikhonov Puts to Sea Along the Northern Sea Route

On 20 August 2011 the tanker Vladimir Tikhonov, owned by SCF Group (Sovcomflot), started her Arctic voyage from Murmansk along the seaways of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The voyage marks the first time in the history of the NSR that such a large Suezmax tanker (more than 160,000 dwt, enhanced ice class 1A (Arc 4)) is navigating along this route.

The tanker is laden with more than 120,000 tonnes of gas condensate, belonging to the Charterer Novatek. The cargo of hydrocarbons will be delivered from the port of Murmansk to a port of discharge in one of the countries of South-East Asia. The estimated length of the voyage is less than a month. The preparation for the voyage was undertaken in coordination with Novatek.

The Nort West passage is a bit of open-close-open-close. Was opened a few days ago, closed now again, on and off. Must be lots of floating icebergs in those waters; there is no new ice formation this time of year. The North East is wide open though.

CERN: 'Climate models will need to be substantially revised'

CERN's 8,000 scientists may not be able to find the hypothetical Higgs boson, but they have made an important contribution to climate physics, prompting climate models to be revised.

The first results from the lab's CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation. Current thinking posits that half of the Earth's clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.

This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.

Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation in Nature.

CERN’s CLOUD experiment provides unprecedented insight into cloud formation press release PDF.

Supporting information PDF.

There's a good discussion of this over at RealClimate:


An important development. But I shudder to think what hash the denialosphere will make of this.

There is some good science there, but a lot of misleading spin will be thrown out by the denialsphere.
The CCN created by rays are about a thousand times too small and must aggregate before droplets will agglomerate on them. Its not clear how much the greater number of small nuclei contribute to the creation of the larger ones. There isn't much change in global temps during the normal 11year solar cycle, maybe .1 C, and that has much greater amplitude then any secular (longer term changes) in solar activity. The more important stuff scientifically, is the new data on the importance of various low concentration chemicals, like compounds of Sulfur, and Nitrogen oxides. Fully understanding these processes in the real world will take a very long time.

OT but have you heard the news of leaks around BP's macondo? I know there are natural seeps there but do you think their well could be leaking again, perhaps below the cement cap and up through the sea floor?

How hard would it be to bottom kill the well as they were gonig to do before? I believe they had drilled the well almost to the bottom...can they just put the drilling rig back over it and bottom kill it within a few weeks if they have to?


What do you think?

I remember this site was great during the original crisis, so I'm wondering if you can comment on this story too?

kenny - Not 100% sure but I think the feds have discovered the oil isn't coming from the BP well. But if it is you're looking at a much longer operation than a few weeks...or even a few months. I've never seen the details of the plug and abandon operation. But if they followed standard practices there is nothing left to top kill thru. A cement plug would have been set to the top of the casing and the casing cut off below the mudline. If this was done then it could take weeks just to reconnect to the casing and drill out the cement plug. And then who knows? Is the oil coming up the casing? If so what casing annulus? Coming up from more than one annulus? Is it coming out of a crack in the casing below the mud line?

But first things first. Again, I haven't seen details but it's real easy to prove one way or another: Send an ROV down and take a video. Is oil coming up from the abandoned casing or not. Take less than a day once on station.

thanks, but i'm confused. I would think they wouldn't "top kill" at all, as there's a 5000 foot plug in the top. If it is leaking wouldn't that mean it's leaking below that cement cap?

I was thinking they would use the relief well they have already drilled and bottom kill it, like they were going to do before. Just basically complete that operation. Is that well still available? OR did they plug it up somehow? I'm not sure why they wouldn't be able to use it and bottom kill...or did the top kill somehow render it impossible to do?

Short of that, I guess they could drill a few more wells which would take months to relieve the pressure, if that even makes sense. Supposedly in that story they quote one guy as saying it's "almost assuredly" from Macondo...if it is and it's leaking a few dozen barrels a day, does that imply that as time goes on it will eventually open up channels through the sea floor and start gushing? I hope not!

kenny - Cmt plugs are far from fool proof. I've had many leak on me...at the top or half way up through a hole in the casing. And cementing back down a cmt plug is very difficult and often fails. One of the biggest problems would be figuring out the exact path upwards of any oil leak. Until that's done they would be trying to fix a problem without knowing exactly where the problem is. Even drilling a side track well isn't an automatic solution. In some ways killing the well now could be a good bit more difficult then the first go around. The oil flow might not be nearly as great but now thet have a well discnnected from the surface and with a variety of plugs in the well bore. Dealing with a leaking plug can be much more difficult than dealing with a leaking casing.

Just stinging back into the casing with a new BOP attached could take weeks including the equipemnt mobilization. And that would just be the start of the beginning with the end a potentially long way down the road. I've seen such operations take a month on dry land...not in 5,000'+ of water.

Thanks...that's why I would think they wouldn't even try that...instead intercept the well way at the bottom as they were going to do with bottom kill.

THey had drilled a relief well to parallel the original pipe, is that pipe now full of cement is what you're saying? I didn't think the cement went down that far.

If so, I'm not sure what could be done...if the cement goes down all 20,000 feet or whatever to the reservoir, then how could it leak at all? If it doesn't go down all the way intercept it between the cap and the reservoir and put some cement in. Does that not make sense? I'm probably missing something.

This is the quote from the article I was talking about:

“I think the primary source with high probability is associated with the Macondo well,” said Robert Bea, an internationally prominent petroleum engineer and professor emeritus at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Bea responded to Press-Register questions via email after examining photographs taken by the newspaper.

“Perhaps connections that developed between the well annulus (outside the casing), the reservoir sands about 17,000 feet below the seafloor, and the natural seep fault features” could provide a pathway for oil to move from deep underground to the seafloor, Bea said.

“Looks suspicious. The point of surfacing about 1 mile from the well is about the point that the oil should show up, given the seafloor at 5,000 feet ... natural circulation currents would cause the drift,” Bea said. “A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) could be used to ‘back track’ the oil that is rising to the surface to determine the source. This should be a first order of business to confirm the source.”

kenny - Or IOW Mr. Bea doesn't KNOW one dang thing other than they need to dive an ROV to see what's going on. He's just offering the text book what-ifs. What frustrating is that I can't find one mention of whether they done this or not. Makes me wonder if the oil isn't showing up so far away that the BP well couldn't possibly be the source. Can't even find a good indication of the amount/location of the oil relative to the well. Even the expert Mr. Bea doesn't seem to have that info either.

On any given day there are hundreds of oil sheens, big and small, in the GOM. Usually from natural seeps or vessels dumping their bilges. I beleive there was some talk about having a regular inspection program of all abandoned DW wells. But haven't seen anyhting about it since last year.

IN the article I think they said it was about a mile from Macondo, and it was bubbling up, not just on the surface from a bilge dump.

Rock, the report last week was too far away (nearer to Thunderhorse in fact). This report seems to be only 1 mile from Macondo. I hope someone has already tasked something to go have a look down there to see what's going on. Still can't see anything at the site on Marine Traffic but coverage is patchy there unless a ship with a Marine Traffic active relay is in the area. That is ships can blink in and out of existence as it is at extreme shore based range.

It appeared that BP or someone else at the site provided an active Marine Traffic Relay last year after conspiracy sites went nuts when they saw ships apparently vanish.

If it is leaking, wouldn't they just complete the intercept well and backfill the initial well from there? If there is casing blow-out or other complex failure of the original well there is no guarantee a top-kill from the initial wellhead would ever work, right?

paleo- Correct: first step figure out what the exact problem is. And as I said above that alone could take many weeks. And then they would figure out a solution.

In the original top kill, does the cement go all the way down to the reservoir? If so, I'm not sure how any could be leaking. If cement does go all the way down then my idea of using the original relief well to intercept and pump in cement might not work. Not sure how doable it would be to intercept really low and try to pump cement into a well that's already partially filled with cement. Is that what you're saying?

Maybe they should drill wells along side this doomed one and within a few years the pressure will go down so much that no more will leak. WOuld that be smart?

As long as it's only leaking a few dozen barrels a day (looks like), then I would think that would work...as long as it doesn't become a torrent.

As long as it's only leaking a few dozen barrels a day...

Given that over 50% of the Deepwater leak was Methane(?) and less than half of the remaining liquids actually reached the surface, it's reasonable to consider that this leak represent significantly more than a few dozen barrel at the source.

New Evidence @ BP Spill


Pungent fresh oil smell near site of BP well...The first blobs of oil seen on the surface were detected about a half-mile from the well...In the Olympic swimming pool-sized area where the oil was rising most frequently, new sheens were erupting every few seconds


Alan - Finally some details. Mucho thanks. Even before they confirm the finger print of the Macondo oil the Coasties should be out there with an ROV IMHO. Have you seen anything about the feds moving on the situation? After all the bad press they got originally you would think they would be on this like a duck on a June bug. It didn't say but maybe the feds contracted the university to do the sampling.

If it's fresh and pure sweet crude it's difficult to imagine it isn't coming from the BP well. But it would be very easy for the feds to prove it one way or the other. Still no word on such action?

Tanker tracker 'Oil Movements' indicates that OPEC has not increased its oil exports one iota since Libya went offline. Libya was exporting about 1.35 million bpd before February. OM is reporting about 22.69 mbpd of exports now, as compared to exports of about 24.05 mbpd at its peak for 2011 at the start of February.

OPEC to Raise Exports as IEA Deliveries End, Oil Movements Says

By Grant Smith - Aug 25, 2011 11:30 AM ET

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase crude shipments through to the middle of September as a program of emergency supply release by consumer-nations ends, according to Oil Movements.

Exports will rise 0.1 percent to 22.69 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Sept. 10, the Halifax, England-based tanker-tracker said today in a report. That compares with 22.66 million a day in the month to Aug. 13. Shipments typically decline at this time of year as refiners undertake seasonal maintenance. The data excludes Ecuador and Angola.


Here's a list of some PADD1 east coast energy facilities it appears will be affected by Hurricane Irene: FACTBOX-U.S. East Coast energy sites brace for Irene

I expect that all of the east coast refineries will be affected/shutdown for some time, and the grid to take extensive damage. This event may play out as the mother of all infrastructure tests and it has been suggested that it's eventual costs may dwarf both Andrew and Katrina. Anyone who lives near, or has traveled the east coast, from Norfolk to Maine, knows how this megalopolis is packed on/near the coast. Best hopes for good preparations.

I expect it will soon be time for a dedicated Irene thread.

I've started my preps.
So far, I'm up to:
1) Eat remaining eight Blue Bunny ice cream sandwiches between now and Saturday evening so I don't lose 'em if the power goes out on Sunday.

Thanks for reminding me - I need to fill up my tank.

This just got me thinking. What if another 20-30 million car owners in the northeast megalopolis all decide to 'top off' their tank in the next couple of days. That would put quite a bit of strain on the PADD 1 gasoline inventory.

I think Rock mentioned Houston draining the local inventory dry before Rita.

I wonder how that many people would be evac'd from the coasts, given that many city dwellers don't have cars?

With Colonial out for a day or two this week already, how low are stocks? Will there be fuel for a Rita-style evac?

Here's a handy/scary site that indicates probable storm surge levels for various level hurricanes.


My in-laws have houses in the St. Michaels area on Chesapeake Bay. Pretty much that whole peninsula is under water with even a category 1 storm.

Please, everyone in the path of this monster, please, take all possible precautions. Stay safe!!

And then there's this on NYC:

Hurricane Irene New York: Top 5 Dangers of a Hurricane in the City

If Hurricane Irene keeps to its projected path, a region unaccustomed to natural disasters may experience two in a single week. The earthquake on Tuesday -- which was centered in Mineral, Va., and sent tremors up and down the Eastern Seaboard -- caused no measurable damage in New York, but if Irene hits the region later this week, it will be a very different story.
Even if Irene reaches New York as a weakened Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane, it could still wreak considerable havoc because the city is simply not prepared to handle such storms the way Florida or the Gulf Coast are. In a worst-case scenario, here are the top five threats New York City would face from a major hurricane.

1. Storm surge

The single biggest effect New York City would see from a major hurricane is the storm surge. This is the term for water pushed toward the shore by high winds, and it can rise many feet above sea level and inundate entire neighborhoods. In the New England Hurricane of 1938, the storm surge from the East River flooded three blocks of Manhattan, even though the center of the hurricane was many miles away, pummeling eastern Long Island. The Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821 made landfall in the city itself -- in Jamaica Bay, Queens -- and the 13-foot surge inundated more than a mile of Manhattan from Battery Park to Canal Street.
Storm surges can be catastrophic even in the best-protected cities -- just look at New Orleans when the levees failed. While a Katrina-like scenario is unlikely in New York, a smaller surge could still be deadly because of the structure of New York's waterways. New York Harbor is narrow, which means that water rushing northward from the storm surge, with nowhere to go, would build up very high -- as high as 30 feet, or the third floor of some buildings, according to past warnings from the city's Office of Emergency Management. According to an evacuation map posted on the city's official Web site, aside from Lower Manhattan, many low-lying parts of the other four boroughs would also be at risk, including LaGuardia Airport and J.F.K. Airport, which are located right by Flushing Bay and Jamaica Bay, respectively. All of this would be compounded if the storm surge happened at high tide.


(Thanks to eXpat at POForums and strider3700 at Malthusia for these links)
Please, everyone in the path of this monster, please, take all possible precautions. Stay safe!!

Yeah, my in-laws live out on DelMarVa (more inland however).

If you get lucky, the thing goes by at low-tide which takes some of the sting out of the storm surge. And if you are unlucky it goes by at high tide. And if you are really unlucky, it is slow-moving.

For Ocean City, the tides are:

08/27/2011 Sat 12:45AM LDT 0.3 L 06:52AM LDT 2.4 H 12:48PM LDT -0.1 L 07:23PM LDT 3.0 H

For Rehoboth Beach, the tides are:

08/27/2011 Sat 12:39AM LDT 0.4 L 06:39AM LDT 4.2 H 12:42PM LDT -0.1 L 07:10PM LDT 5.2 H

And if you are really, really unlucky, it goes by just to the west of you so that the winds in the eastern half of the storm are parallel with its path, and the water really piles up.

If you haven't already, do look at that link on storm surge. A lot of house, probably entire towns, are going to be washed away by this thing unless it suddenly decides to head out to sea, which seems pretty much impossible at this point. NYC is warning people in lowlying areas to start planning their evacuation.

It would be extreme to say entire towns will be "washed out". Many beach houses out there are essentially built on stilts with parking/storage on the ground floor. The idea being that a storm surge can just wash through and do minimal damage. With enough of a storm surge, the foundations are undermined, and then all bets are off.

But not all homes out there are built like this however. Some newer homes are traditional SFH or townhomes.

Some of the damage is from loose objects that blow around. People should secure things like patio furniture, trash cans, and anything else that might blow around before they leave..

Irene is big enough and intense enough to significantly damage agriculture such as the hog farms in Eastern North Carolina, crops and poultry operations on the Delmarva penninsula, and truck farms and mixed agriculture in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South and Central New Jersey.

Thanks for this broader perspective, M. I was focused on the coast. Speaking of which, Dr. Master is sounding pretty concerned about this storm:


We've all been watching the computer models, which have been steadily moving their forecast tracks for Irene more to the east--first into Florida, then Georgia, then South Carolina, then North Carolina, then offshore of North Carolina--and it seemed that this storm would do what so many many storms have done in the past, brush the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then head out to sea. Irene will not do that. Irene will likely hit Eastern North Carolina, but the storm is going northwards after that, and may deliver an extremely destructive blow to the mid-Atlantic and New England states. I am most concerned about the storm surge danger to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the rest of the New England coast. Irene is capable of inundating portions of the coast under 10 - 15 feet of water, to the highest storm surge depths ever recorded.


Mass evacuations of low-lying areas along the entire coast of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are at least 50% likely to be ordered by Saturday. The threat to the coasts of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine is less certain, but evacuations may be ordered in those states, as well. Irene is a very dangerous storm for an area that has no experience with hurricanes, and I strongly urge you to evacuate from the coast if an evacuation is ordered by local officials. My area of greatest concern is the coast from Ocean City, Maryland, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is possible that this stretch of coast will receive a direct hit from a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane hitting during the highest tide of the month, bringing a 10 - 15 foot storm surge.

(bold was in original)

I wonder how that many people would be evac'd from the coasts ...?

One of the not widely mention features of the tri state metro evac plan is that it probably wouldn't work. Moving 5-10 million people is simply not practical - the roads can't support that much traffic - and where would they go?

Fortunately, we can hunker down if it stays below Category 1-2.

"Fortunately, we can hunker down if it stays below Category 1-2."

That depends on where you live. Many folks--in fact whole towns and peninsulas--along the coast, even way up the Chesapeake, will be under water with even a Cat 1. The storm surge gets concentrated as it is funneled into ever-narrower inlet, greatly magnifying heights. NY is already asking people to start making evac plans.

The New York City plan doesn't envision evacuating people out of NYC. Generally, people would travel anywhere from several blocks to a few miles to shelters on higher ground. Manhattan, for example is quite high in a ridge running down the center of the island. The longest distances would be from southern Brookly and Queens, and they can take buses and subways to the central sections of those boroughs.


S - Exactly...emptied all the stations. But fortunately I live across the highway from the largest refinery in N America so the stations were refilled in several days. But there were 50+ car lines during those few days. Again, lucky me had a 5-day running supply in my vehicle so life went on normal. You might not be so lucky if Colonial is shut down for a while. Might be a short term but nasty taste of a PO future.

Even worse case scenario: in a recent hurricane evac from Houston many tens of thousands of folks were stranded on highways with when cars ran out of fuel due to hours of very slow evac traffic. The storm missed us for the most part but had it hit us hundreds might have been killed on the side of the road: no place to run in the middle of the night but open fields.

New Orleans area has a better ratio between production and evacuation demand - or perhaps just better planning.

Stop exports, run tank trucks on two shifts to keep all gas stations full. Largely successful.

On the last day of evacuation, tank trucks were stationed at gas stations along the interstate. They dumped their loads, one by one, into the underground tanks as they emptied and then joined the evacuation.

Best Hopes for Cities without Refineries,


Yep...Texas has a similar plan for using the state guard. They've also built built crossovers so both side out the highways can be run outbound.

Alan - You would appreciate this more than most. I didn't try to leave town with the crowd. You and I both know how to outrun a hurricane. Some folks don't realize a very fast storm moves 20 mph. You can cruise along at 40 mph, stop for a burger and still escape. I left the next morning: blue skies and no cars at all on the road...thought they had closed the highway. Nope...not a single car going either direction for at least 30 miles. And then I began to see them: thousands of folks standing on the side of the road. No water, no food, no fuel and, most importantly, no protection from the storm other than the thickness of a car window. When I reached Austin all the stations were full of gas. Had agreat night with an old flame and drove back to Houston the next morning...again with no traffic. Lots of folks were trapped in their cars on the side of the highways for 2 to 3 days.

The craziest thing of all: most folks drove north to run away from a northward moving hurricane. Many were trying to reach Dallas 200 miles north to avoid a storm that's 50 miles wide that's also moving north. Very curious.

I have been fairly astute in most of my evacuations.

For Gustav, I was on a hair trigger to leave - listened to updates and would have been on the nearly empty interstate within 10 minutes if every update had not been more positive than the one before.

A couple of times I went, late (no traffic) to intersection of I-12 & I-59 near Hammond. Sat in parking lot, listening to the radio with meals & snacks I packed. If New Orleans was hit (no power at a minimum), I would go further E, W or N, depending. Instead I was first one back in :-)

I did drive out of Lafayette during a hurricane (LONG story).

For Katrina, I took out 3 people w/o cars and that delayed me. I did not want to wait to last minute (I crossed I-10 East bridge on contraflow side about 4 or 5 hours before closure - Katrina dropped the bridge in several places) so 8 hours of stop & go traffic till close to Meridian.

I saw Katrina as much higher risk than others.

Best Hopes for Irene,


Yep...some of us have to learn the hard way. Hunkering down during Betsy cost me some hearing in one ear and almost an eye. And we're were living in a shotgun rental...nothing for us to protect. Just old school Nawlins. LOL

I think Irene is a nasty one, but I am not an expert. I seriously wonder why they are not exercising caution on this one. It is a big storm:


This video on cnn says it all:


Storm surge is gonna mess with NYC, but New Yorkers don't listen according to this guy. Hope the prepare.

"I seriously wonder why they are not exercising caution on this one."

Not sure what you mean by "they". Five States have declared some level of emergency. Governors are urging folks to evacuate the coast...

Bast case scenario? This storm stays off the coast, turns right on Long Island, grinds its way up the Montauk Highway and eats the Hamptons raw. Job creation,,, and those folks can afford it ;-)

Ghung, all joking aside, your best case scenario (not to mention any countless number of worse case scenarios) is a real possibility this time....

One can only hope....

As aptly expressed by one of New York's finest scions,

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Here's to hope in a better world beyond the horizon b/c that is one mother of a storm building.

The hamptons would be nice to see remodeled in FEMA trailers. Not that I would wish that on the upper 0.001% ;-)

Ocean City Maryland has issued evacuation orders.

Sussex County Delaware has issued evacuation orders.

Cape May and Atlantic Counties in New Jersey have issued evacuation orders.

These are just the ones I have heard about locally..

I would have expected hearing about traffic jams by now ... Who knows maybe it will be light damage and people are better off staying put. From what I read though, the storm surge is going to be all up the Mid Atlantic coast, the surge will add to high tide too, and it will be relentlessly slow as it dumps 12 inches of rain on saturated ground. I also read that NYC subway system for example cannot handle any of this type of flooding.

We'll see but I think people ought to be more nervous than what I've seen.

Evacuations don't really start until today.

The areas in question are more resort communities and not urban environments. They are accustomed to large quantities of traffic on weekends as one group of week vacations end, and the next group begins. And for the vacationers who are in a hotel or a weekly rental, they won't have much of their own property with them - they just need to pack their suitcases and get moving. For the case of DelMarVa, they probably need to evacuate off of the peninsula - there are only a couple of ways to do this. South through the bay-bridge-tunnel to VA Beach, west across the bay bridge to Annapolis, or north to Wilmington and points beyond.

Sometimes the problem is that people will insist that they have paid for the hotel through Saturday and they don't want to leave early if they don't have to (esp if the weather is still nice). The webcams that I have looked at this morning show calm seas and nice weather. For now, of course..

It is the people who live there and the people who work there that will be a harder one. Then you have property to secure and all that. If you work in a hotel, you need to wait for the hotel to close before the workers can evacuate, and some hotel owners might be cheap and not want to close. The evacuation order forces the issue.

Hawk & Handsaw: The Journal of Creative Sustainability
is now accepting submissions for its 2012 issue. We are looking for contributions that defy convention and tackle the tougher issues that stem from life in a fragile world:

work that challenges us to redefine what we know about sustainability and genre;

work that provokes us, riles us, makes us laugh. Most of all, we are looking for contributions that are fresh, honest, and evocative. We accept poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, and visual art; we also always welcome submissions that defy, blur, or disregard genre altogether. Poets should submit between 1-5 poems for consideration. Writers of nonfiction and fiction may submit up to 30 double-spaced pages. Genre deconstructors should use their best judgment, but
remember that we are a skeletal staff. Excerpts from longer monographs are acceptable, provided they stand alone as an independent work. If applicable, citations should appear in Chicago Manual of Style format.

Hawk & Handsaw prints artwork in both color and black and white. Visual artists may submit up to 20 images of their work for consideration.

The reading period for this issue ends on 1 October 2012. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.hawkandhandsaw.org

or contact us (replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail)

Are you an editor there?

No, just passing on the call for submission because when I saw it, I thought a few people here might be interested.

I do freelance editing, though.


New from the GAO

ENERGY DEVELOPMENT AND WATER USE: Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development on Water Resources

Oil shale development could have significant impacts on the quality and quantity of water resources, but the magnitude is unknown because technologies are not yet commercially proven, the size of a future industry is uncertain, and knowledge of current water conditions is limited.

GAO’s review of available studies indicated that the expected total water needs for the entire life cycle of oil shale production range from about 1 barrel (or 42 gallons) to 12 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced from in-situ (underground heating) operations, with an average of about 5 barrels, and from about 2 to 4 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced from mining operations with surface heating, with an average of about 3 barrels.

GAO reported that water is likely to be available for the initial development of an oil shale industry but that the size of an industry in Colorado or Utah may eventually be limited by water availability.

No Water = No Oil Shale. So much for Bachmann's $2/gal wet dream.
A resource isn't a reserve.

also Climate Engineering: Technical status, future directions, and potential responses

Climate engineering technologies do not now offer a viable response to global climate change.

Reading between the lines. If they have to do a Climate Engineering Study then those classified closed-door presentations are worst then what we're seeing.

The United States: From Ethanol Importer to Ethanol Exporter

Through the first five months of 2011, continuously growing volumes of ethanol have been exported to Brazil, Canada, Europe, Jamaica, and the United Arab Emirates. Over this period, U.S. ethanol exports more than doubled compared to the same period in 2010. For the remainder of 2011, it is likely that the United States will surpass Brazil as the world's largest ethanol exporter due to recent supply shortages and resulting high sugar prices in Brazil. U.S. ethanol has been relatively less expensive and has supplied markets that previously imported Brazilian ethanol.


This sort of thing won't encourage Gaddafi loyalists to surrender.

Libya Live Blog (Al Jazeera)

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 17:58 GMT+3 - Libya

More than 30 men believed to be fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have been killed at a military encampment in central Tripoli and at least two were bound with plastic handcuffs, indicating they had been executed.

A Reuters correspondent counted 30 bodies riddled with bullets in an area of the Libyan capital where there had been
fighting between Gaddafi forces and rebels.

In another case, the Ghaddafi forces were called on to surrender when surrounded. Those that did were disarmed and treated well.

Those that continued fighting were not taken prisoner.


Local wheat sees revival in former grain states

WESTFIELD, Vt. (AP) — Amber waves of grain are rippling again in parts of New England, once considered the region's bread basket.

Vermont and Maine ceded that distinction to the Midwest in the 1800s, when the Erie Canal and intercontinental railroad made it easier to move grain long distances.

But small farmers on the nation's coasts have begun planting wheat again as more people clamor for locally grown food. Along with New England, fields have been sprouting in California, Oregon and Washington in the last five years

SF mockumentary: ‘Ghosts With **** Jobs’ — China looks at westerners with awful jobs

Jim Munroe sez, "In the future, jobs still suck -- but in whole new ways. The economic collapse of the west is complete and North Americans are a cheap labour pool for wealthy Asian and Indian markets. A Chinese documentary show focuses on these unlucky enough to have been born in the slums of Toronto in a special report that translates as 'Ghosts With **** Jobs'. The lo-fi sci-fi mockumentary feature offers both a commentary on the economic downturn and a model for surviving in it -- it was made for $4000."

Don't know about that - I'd expect the economic and social costs of climate change to be much, much greater for India than for Canada. On the other hand, a Greater China that's appropriated much of eastern Siberia might do all right for itself.

India is not even remotely survivable.
Pakistan will probably be the first over the cliff.

Consider it more of a Trading Places-style mockumentary than any kind of hard prediction about the future. Your Greater China scenario is plausible, but what would they trade to the Russians?

The largest intact forest (The Taiga) on earth is right across the Amur River from China.
It is denuded and raped landscape on the China side, with thousands of miles of forest on the other.
Russia will defend it.
China will need to trade or starve on the other side.

This will not end well.

My theory is that the Chinese will be invited in, to exploit the resources, with royalties going to the Russians. Over time, so many will move in, and it will become a defacto province of China.

Cairn Energy Will Consider Greenland Farm-Outs In Future

LONDON (Dow Jones)--Cairn Energy PLC would consider assigning some of its exploration interests in Greenland to another company, Chief Executive Simon Thomson said Tuesday, after the oil and gas explorer said it was opening a new prospecting frontier in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"We have gathered an enormous amount of data [in the course of its four [dry hole] drilling campaigns in the country] and there are a lot of people interested in Greenland," said Thomson.

Looks like that arctic oil 'thingy' isn't going so swell

I am reminded of my standing offer to sell my daughter's trunk full of horse show ribbons at cost.

Isn't Greenland composed of some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Rocks that were formed more than a billion years before widespread algae came about, ought to be poor oil prospects.

EOS - They actually have rocks of the same age as many of the oil basins in the US.


Contour Global to Launch Methane Gas Extraction Plant

... The company was formed in 2008 to design, develop and operate integrated methane gas extraction and production facilities and associated power plants located on Lake Kivu in Kibuye, Rwanda.

The project will remove otherwise hazardous methane gas trapped in the waters of Lake Kivu, and process the gas to use as fuel to generate much needed electricity.

Lake Kivu is a tragedy waiting to happen. A million people living next to a lake that is supesaturated with CO2/methane at depth.

And just in case you are worried about premature release of these gases to the atmosphere. They are headed there already. At least this way the methane can be oxidized before it reaches the atmosphere. Mostly a win-win.

Market crash 'could hit within weeks', warn bankers

You can trust me, I'm a banker.

Word on the street is that banks are dumping gold to cover their CDS spreads, causing gold to fall over 5%. Any comments on that?

Do you mean 5% down since hitting the high? B'cos NY spot was down $10 on the day today, not 5%.
Who knows, it seems like the whack-a-mole economic model is in play right now.

I was refering to yesterday, actually ~11% since Monday. Somebody's selling alot of gold. Perhaps it was your link, maybe Ilargi, or Mish's latest, but it's clear the megabanks are on the ropes.

"The party's over...
They've burst the pretty balloon..."

Sounds like they are seeking another 20 trillion dollars of transaction guarantees. Do it before the election make Obama prove his commitment.

So who is going to win? London and New York, or Frankfurt and Shanghai?

By "win", I take it you mean......

Emerge from the international finance wars with a functioning economy...

Ah sorry!

It sounds like the banks will have their begging bowls, complete with Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis, engraved around the lip, out again. But who has money to bail them out, second time around? I think the villagers will be at the gates with pitchforks if that happens again.

Credit swimming one way; equity the other. Seems truly erratic.

As far as winners? No one ultimately.... I think we're headed for the Great Gravy Train Explosion of 2011.

The winner of the 2012 pres election is the one who bails them out this second (third?) time.

Emerge from the international finance wars with a functioning economy...

Last man economy standing wins!

I vote China.

Let China take over the world for a while. We had our chance and ended up in a two party system that locks horns with the net effect of producing nothing. At least China gets consensus on projects and moves forward. In fact, in the aftermath of collapse, let's invite them here to get things done, like infrastructure fix or replacement. And then how about high speed rail.

Yea, like more empty skyscrapers, more 3 Gorges in the Hudson, Sacramento, and Susquehanna basins, more Amur R. type forestry, de-water the Mississippi, and I'm sure they could get alot more coal out of the Appalachian and Wind River formations. We need them for waste disposal and a boost to our flagging population levels. Import a billion or so, Social Secrity magically funded. Oh, the nightsoil.

Nordic and North European economies seem the best bets. And Brazil certainly ranks.


Market crash 'could hit within weeks', warn bankers

I think this is a case of the banks seeking another handout from the Govt. via threats of a crash, instilling fear sufficient to warrant more financial help. In other words they're just not happy with making less money than they use to.

Monsanto and BT corn:
In 1999 30% of US corn was BT.
Latest growing season - 2/3ish is modified with the bulk being BT.


Resistance developed where the same Bt corn had been grown at least three years in a row. Gassmann found “a significant positive correlation between the number of years Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in a field and the survival of rootworm populations on Cry3Bb1 maize in bioassays.”

3 years in the field. This has been 'in the field' for - what- 15 years?

Idaho fire prompts evacuation of nuclear facility

(Reuters) - Firefighters struggled on Thursday to control a fast-growing 28,000-acre wildfire raging within several miles of spent nuclear fuel stored at a U.S. Energy Department lab in the high desert of eastern Idaho.

"They're fighting (the fire) from all directions at the moment; winds are changing every minute," lab spokeswoman Sara Prentice said Thursday afternoon.

Hope IdaRuskie is safe

End of August and the fire season is finally starting to roll. It seems the intermountain west is behind 6-7 weeks this year. Question is will the season be truncated, or extend into fall.

A most intriguing thing to me is the extent of the Missouri River still in flood, from Dakota to Missouri.


And today is about the first that much of Oklahoma is actually brown, not the pink of most of the summer.