Drumbeat: August 29, 2011

Solar May Produce Most of World’s Power by 2060, IEA Says

Solar generators may produce the majority of the world’s power within 50 years, slashing the emissions of greenhouse gases that harm the environment, according to a projection by the International Energy Agency.

Photovoltaic and solar-thermal plants may meet most of the world’s demand for electricity by 2060 -- and half of all energy needs -- with wind, hydropower and biomass plants supplying much of the remaining generation, Cedric Philibert, senior analyst in the renewable energy division at the Paris-based agency, said in an Aug. 26 phone interview.

Oil below $86 as US refineries survive hurricane

SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose to near $86 a barrel Monday in Asia after a hurricane left minimal damage among refineries along the U.S East Coast.

Price of gasoline holds steady at $3.61 a gallon

Hurricane Irene forced millions of Americans to stay home this weekend, and that lower demand will likely put some downward pressure on prices of the motor fuel, said Trilby Lundberg, the survey's editor.

Five German States Say Inflation Slowed as Oil Costs Fell

(Bloomberg) -- Inflation in five German states slowed in August as seasonal food and energy prices fell.

Jordan to Pay More for Egyptian Gas

Energy Minister Khaled Tukan Toukan announced, Sunday, that his country will sign a new agreement with Egypt for a small part of the natural gas it receives from Israel's western neighbor, according to the Associated Press. Toukan said his country will pay more for the gas than agreed to in one of its existing contracts.

Exclusive: Big oil companies may have to give up Iraq gas

DUBAI (Reuters) - Many of the world's biggest energy companies may have to surrender most of the gas from Iraq's vast southern oilfields to a processing and export project led by Shell, a final draft contract between Baghdad and Europe's biggest company, obtained by Reuters, shows.

Sinopec’s Profit Beats Estimates as Refining Losses Are Half of PetroChina

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (386), Asia’s biggest refiner, posted record half-year profit that beat analysts’ estimates after it kept the cost of crude-oil purchases in check while increasing fuel production.

Huge fire at Chinese oil refinery

A major fire has broken out at a refinery in north-east China owned by state-owned oil giant PetroChina, the official Xinhua news agency reported, in the latest disaster to hit the country's oil industry.

Iran to Privatize Seven Refineries

The head of Iran's national oil company has announced that the Tehran government plans to privatize seven of the country's nine refineries by the end of the Iranian-calendar year in March 2012, according to a Monday report by state-run Press TV.

Irene Cleanup Under Way to Restore Power to Millions

Thousands of workers began clearing tree branches and repairing electrical lines to restore power to almost 6 million U.S. homes and businesses after Hurricane Irene left a trail of destruction from North Carolina to Maine.

The recovery effort will take days, and in some cases weeks, as flooding from Irene’s torrential rains still threatens electrical infrastructure, said Philip Bediant, a professor of civil engineering at Rice University in Houston.

Hurricane Lost Steam as Experts Misjudged Structure and Next Move

Forecasters had expected that a spinning band of clouds near its center, called the inner eyewall, would collapse and be replaced by an outer band that would then slowly contract. Such “eyewall replacement cycles” have been known to cause hurricanes to strengthen.

While its eyewall did collapse, Irene never completed the cycle, Mr. Franklin said. “There were a lot of rain bands competing for the same energy,” he said. “So when the eyewall collapsed, there were winds over a large area.”

Libya oilfields 'to restart soon'

Production from two oilfields in eastern Libya could restart as early as mid-September with oil and gas exports to Europe also set to get back online soon as rebels secure their grip on the country after effectively gaining control of the capital Tripoli.

Libya's oil towns struggle to get back to work

RAS LANUF, Libya — Libya's battered oil towns are struggling to get back to work after months of back-and-forth clashes between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi along the Mediterranean coast.

The rebels' ruling council faces shortages of basic supplies including fuel in many areas as its soldiers battle die-hard remnants of Gaddafi's forces.

Infighting at Opec opens up rifts

In the early days of the Libyan uprising, the world's top oil producers and consumers could be found in Riyadh celebrating their frank discussions on energy co-operation.

Since that gathering in February, the conflict and its six-month toll on energy markets have chipped away at producer-consumer relations while exposing rifts between the world's major oil exporters.

Tutu’s sanctions put economy back by years

First, the immediate implementation of a basic income grant to every citizen is imperative in the context of soaring fuel, food and electricity prices, as well as the unfolding peak oil crisis and an imminent global recession. We have just read in Business Report that Iran has successfully done this in their economy (cash hand-outs of R300 a citizen a month) and averted social unrest when the government removed its fuel subsidies in spite of a seven-fold increase in petrol prices and a doubling of bread prices.

U.S. Solar Product Exports Rose 83% Last Year on Sales to China

U.S. exports of solar products climbed 83 percent last year to $5.63 billion as increasing production in China drove up sales of manufacturing equipment and raw materials, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Political Will Prevents the Dawning of the Long-Predicted Solar Age

Here is an intriguing question for anyone interested in tackling climate change: who said this, and when?

"Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion... Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?"

Well, it was a man named Augustin Bernard Mouchot, speaking in Paris after he had successfully demonstrated an early industrial application of solar thermal energy - as long ago as 1880.

High Rare-Earth Prices Force Hitachi, Toyota to Find Alternative

Japanese rare-earth buyers are switching to quarterly sales contracts and looking for alternative sources after China curbed shipments, increasing prices for the materials used in hybrid cars and missiles.

Anti-nuclear policy won’t help us meet climate goals

The Westminster Government has finalised its list of potential sites for the UK’s next generation of nuclear power plants, and Scotland is conspicuous by its absence.

This should come as no surprise given the antipathy towards nuclear energy voiced by Holyrood in recent years. However, with the publication of the list, the finality of our anti-nuclear policy is now clear.

Canada in danger of missing the boat in the Arctic

Statements by France’s ambassador for the polar regions, Michel Rocard, that Canada appears to have given up on competing with Russia for Arctic commercial shipping traffic, should serve as a wake up call for Canadians. It may be that the country prefers the Northwest Passage as it is, a slightly-used backwater that best protects the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the traditional Inuit way of life. But if Canadians favour sustainable development in the north, and jobs for northerners, then they are in danger of missing the boat.

Is it just me, or does the IEA "projection" about the enormous increase in solar power "by 2060" seem utterly meaningless? Pigs may fly by then too.
It may be apocryphal but to my observation, we'll be lucky if anyone's home by 2060.
Apparently, the measure for Irene's damage was whether Wall Street got wet, not much more.
Reading Kunstler this morning that seems to be far from the case.
Weather "events" seem to be becoming more and more violent and extreme to me, for what that's worth.

Martin, read the other article posted up top: Political Will Prevents the Dawning of the Long-Predicted Solar Age Actually politics is only part of the problem however that one is a real killer. You cannot convince most politicians that solar power is needed... right now anyway.

Humanity - or its leaders - are now faced with a clear choice: whether to stick with the status quo and vested interests; or whether to accelerate the deployment, research and development into solar and other renewable, sustainable technologies and practices.

Therein lies the problem. Humanity - or its leaders - are not convinced by argument, they can only be convinced by events. Politicians are, in general, reactive not proactive. Of course a tiny minority are proactive and some policies by the government are proactive, but a very few. Basically politics will act when disaster strikes, or maybe two weeks before. ;-)

Ron P.


I agree, this is another well worded Darwinianism.

But I am even more pessimistic--even events don't seem to convince those ideologically committed to their own shuttered views. No number, frequency, or severity of floods, storms, droughts, polar melt, glacier vaporizing, ocean acidifying, dengue-fever-bearing tropical mosquito migration, shifting north of growing zones, crop withering and human decimating heatwaves and famines...
...seems likely to convince those firm in their that god or Exxon wouldn't let anything bad happen, if all these events that have already happened/are already underway haven't swayed them.

"...even events don't seem to convince those ideologically committed to their own shuttered views."

I'm not so sure ideology doesn't follow something more basic. In order to admit that climate change (or peak oil, or resource depletion, etc.) is a huge problem, a critical mass of folks, especially in the US, would first have to admit that most everything they've invested in over the last century or more is for naught. Their jobs, their lifestyles, their infrastructure, their financial and political systems, all depend on not knowing. The response is to reinforce rationalizations and assumptions via ideology and politics. This short KunstlerCast from April discusses this. Rather than some sweeping conspiracy, it's more that the truth is simply too painful, and the required reponses too overwhelming to allow honest discussions. La la la, I'm not listening!

Our society has blown it's wad, mostly on all of the wrong things. The onset of buyer's remorse will be remarkable to witness.

"...even events don't seem to convince those ideologically committed to their own shuttered views."

Not only that, but events are a problem because they misdirect society's (especially economist's)focus away from the reality of Cause and Effect. Here's what I mean. Oil constraints cause financial collapse, and when oil prices rise above $100 the media begins to focus on peak oil as a problem. But before long, recession hits, the price of oil drops, the financial tides go out, and various Ponzi schemes and bank malfeasances are revealed squirming on the sand. Oil prices go down, and focus on the Cause--peak oil--is diverted towards a focus on the Effect. If oil prices stayed above $100 for a longer period of time its seems that the "hive mind" of society might become aware of the root problem, but we now know that the economy can't function at that price for long.

I don't know what can be done to fix this this problem. It seems to be deeply set in human nature.

Why are we so quick to collapse into defeatist speculation about human nature? However alien the truth might now be to either basic human instincts or established cultural presumptions, it is darn sure even more threatening to the power structure that dominates this society and planet. How does anybody expect a thriving public discussion, when admitting Peak Oil is the ultimate anathema for mainstream (i.e., Big Money) leaders and institutions, not excluding the cars-and-oil-sponsored mass media?

If the leadership admits and publicizes the problem, and the people reject the news, then we can talk human nature. But that has not yet happened. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As it stands, leadership suppresses the topic, so nobody knows what the masses would do, if given a chance.

By the way, despite the Great Recession and the general lack of any coherent leadership on the topic, over 60 percent of the U.S. public says too little is presently being spent to protect the environment.

So, IMHO, we who see what's coming need to stop presumptively hating on ordinary people. The name of the game is getting the facts and choices out of the closet and onto "the table." Indeed, if this weren't the only game in town, why would something like TOD exist?

Well said.

Some effort can be well put into understanding why others don't get it.. but we had better also be using this opportunity to be getting any and everything we can going, and not bemoan the 'unconverted'. Here at TOD, we have a resource of dozens of people or more who DO. How can we leverage one another's locations and skills to get what we can under way?

If the leadership admits and publicizes the problem, and the people reject the news, then we can talk human nature. But that has not yet happened. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Mr. Dawson, were you unaware of the fact that our leadership are also humans and subject to human nature? Our leaders, in all developed countries, are elected by the people. The people elect leaders that most closely represent their views. They elect people who deny peak oil because they don't want to believe the consequences of peak oil.

Denial of peak oil or other situations that could cause great harm to our future, and the welfare of our children and grandchildren is a predilection that is shared by the vast majority of humanity, including our leaders. It is just human nature. :-(

Despite what people say about spending on the environment, they want more spent but none of their benefits cut or their taxes raised. That is one of the reasons nothing is done.

As I said elsewhere, peak oil is a predicament. Predicaments, unlike problems, calls for a response, not a solution. There is no solution to peak oil. Our leaders will not tell that to their constituents about peak oil and certainly not the consequences of peak oil. And the reason is not because they are afraid of their response, the reason is because they do not believe it themselves.

Ron P.

Ron, politicians these days aren't leaders, they are followers. They craft their messages to appeal to just enough voters to get elected. Who knows what they know or believe, given that they use polling data to select their message on any issue. Then, there's the behind-the-scenes manipulation of public opinion thru various channels, such as advertising and control of the opinion pundits in the media. Also, there are now more people like Limbaugh and Beck who continue to spew propaganda to change the public's opinion, spreading disinformation to create those beliefs which later influence the voter's choice of who to vote for.

I would not be surprised to learn that our leading politicians are already well aware of Peak Oil and AGW, but do not want to bring these predicaments into the public's perception, because the moneyed interests want to keep the Ponzi financial system going for as long as possible. I would not give any of them the benefit of the doubt by simply claiming that they do not believe that these problems exist. These men are not idiots (well, maybe power hungry, greedy fools :<) ...

E. Swanson

Politicians are indeed followers: With few exceptions, they follow the policies that will fill their coffers for re-election, ascension to higher offices, access to revolving doors, and eventual cushy retirements. Translation: They do what Big Money wants and needs, and pay little actual heed to public opinion, except as an object for manipulation and pandering.

It costs a billion dollars now to run for president. What's the easiest, and perhaps only, way to get a billion dollars, especially in a media environment where the major outlets are all corporate enterprises who cater to other corporate enterprises? Please the rich and powerful.

Meanwhile, I have to question the perceptual powers of anybody who thinks the general public is anywhere near as resistant to talking honestly about energy and ecology as is the corporate overclass. For the latter, this topic is literally radioactive. Without growth, capitalism is impossible. With growth, much more modern civilization is impossible.

If it's difficult to get somebody to understand something when his or her salary depends on not understanding it, what attitude do you expect when you substitute the word "fortune" for "salary?"

I would suggest most people know all this and are quite interested in gaining ways to talk and do something about it. So, again, why are we TOD types so quick to dump it all into the vast sea of "human nature?" Human nature is damned flexible. Our core institutions and their primary beneficiaries are pretty obviously not.

"Human nature is damned flexible."

Human conditions, human situations less so for most.

In reality, what folks want/say/believe and what they are capable of are very different things. How many would actually give up their places in the lifeboats for someone less fortunate or more deserving, as the Titanic sinks, especially those who paid for first class passage?

I utterly agree that conditions are key. Indeed, that's kind of my whole point -- we need to alter the informational and aganda-control situation.

I'm not sure how the Titanic metaphor applies to the question of who will and who will not contemplate discussing decent survival. The topic at hand is whether anybody is interested in taking that topic seriously, not who will get to survive.

With growth, much more modern civilization is impossible.

I'm excerpting a portion of text from a comment out of a private group conversation in which I have been recently participating. I think it is directly relevant to your above quoted statement and goes to the hear of something which I believe Nate Hagens and others have defined as the 'Longness of expectations' Perhaps we need to redefine what 'civilization' actually is and what we should expect from it!

Costa Rica is a good example of a nation that approaches sustainability. We lived in Monteverde for three months recently, giving us personal experience with the differences from the USA.
The income of an average Costa Rican (or “Tico”, to use their nickname) is significantly less than that of an “American”. Our buying power is about $47,000 per person each year, but in Costa Rica it is less than a quarter of that, at $11,000. Obviously Ticos consume less than do norteamericanos.
Yet Ticos appear to be happier than Americans. One measure, the Satisfaction with Life Index, rates Ticos higher (13th in the world) than Americans (just 23rd).
Most Ticos do not own cars, but use their feet or public transportation to travel. When we lived up in Monteverde we walked to do errands. Sometimes we enjoyed the luxury of a taxi if it was pouring or if we had a lot to carry. When we traveled from the Monteverde area we did so by bus. It cost only the equivalent of eight dollars for the four-hour trip to the capital, San José!
Doesn’t relative poverty cause poor health? No! On average, Ticos live a year or two longer than Americans! The emphasis there is on primary and preventative health care. I don’t remember seeing a really obese Tico; people are physically active and fast food is uncommon. Indeed, I lost weight when eating my favorite Costa Rican food, gallo pinto—but that’s another story.
What is the secret of Costa Rica? It is unique in the world in that it emphasizes education and health. It has no military—that’s right, none! Instead it provides free health care to all citizens and free education through high school. In contrast, the USA spends a huge fraction of our finances on the military. Part of our expenditure is to support our extravagant use of petroleum, which largely comes from far away. A large portion of our military might is used to gain and protect sources of petroleum. Furthermore, our military consumes huge amounts of oil.
Contraception is free and available to all Ticos as part of their health care.

Fascinating. How do you explain why Ticos are so culturally different than Norte Americanos?

It's because they come from a totally different culture. :-)

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

It is unique in the world in that it emphasizes education and health. It has no military—that’s right, none! Instead it provides free health care to all citizens and free education through high school. In contrast, the USA spends a huge fraction of our finances on the military.

For the parasitic loads of the Military to exist, the organism needs to be healthy enough and have enough excess energy to keep the parasites fed.

At what point is the load going to be too much for the organism and does it shed the loads or does both parasite and host die?

Part of our expenditure is to support our extravagant use of petroleum, which largely comes from far away

And to keep the US Dollar as the world reserve currency. At one time the Spanish Milled dollar had that position. Then the British pound. History of both Empires are examples of what happens when you stop being #1.

And there are a more benefits than just oil to being the reserve currency.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your posts.

Have you seen our efforts directed toward an immediate, scientific investigation by the National Academy of Sciences?

This would be on the question of global oil supplies, their decline, impacts of decline and policy options.

Not covered so far. The NAS, founded approx. 1863, is supposed to advise the Nation on matters of science.

They have not been directed to look at "peak oil."

This means, for one thing, State and local governments have no scientific body to look to for an objective analysis, especially of the actual impacts. (I mean, no analysis other than TOD, of course.)

Dear Aniya,

I am working with a member of NAS on proposing a study on energy policy options. Sometimes NAS can ask to be asked, if you know what I mean :-)

I just sent him your link.

Best Hopes !


Ron, politicians these days aren't leaders, they are followers. They craft their messages to appeal to just enough voters to get elected.

Some are followers and some are leaders. Everyone cannot be followers.

Then, there's the behind-the-scenes manipulation of public opinion thru various channels, such as advertising and control of the opinion pundits in the media.

Naw, I cannot swallow that. I am not a conspiracy theory buff you know. I really don't believe that politicians control the media though they would like to. If they did then they would be reelected every time. Every so often there is a house cleaning and a lot of them get fired. That is not control in any form I know about.

Then, there's the behind-the-scenes manipulation of public opinion thru various channels, such as advertising and control of the opinion pundits in the media.

Yes, you are correct here. But they control the very far right, the Tea Party, they do not control the entire media or the entire political spectrum. I hear, every day on TV, about what blooming idiots they all are. It is the right MSM against the left MSM. Hard to tell who is winning but neither side has total control over the whole thing.

I would not be surprised to learn that our leading politicians are already well aware of Peak Oil and AGW, but do not want to bring these predicaments into the public's perception,

I agree with you on AGW but definitely not Peak Oil. Politicians are mostly ignorant about peak oil, just like the MSM and all the talking heads on TV. They haven't a frigging clue. Most of them would probably agree with Michele Bachmann and believe that we have well over a trillion barrels of reserves. There has been a lot more public information spread about on AGW than Peak Oil. No former Vice President or Nobel Prize Winner ever wrote a word about peak oil. Politicians and the public are totally ignorant as far as peak oil is concerned.

Ron P.

Some are followers and some are leaders. Everyone cannot be followers.

so you don't think there is such a thing as a stand alone complex? copies that are trying to copy a original that never really existed?

"It is the right MSM against the left MSM"

Except there really is no 'left' MSM, unless you include Radio Pacifica.

There are now major media controlled by a major socialist party, nor a labor party, nor a major green party, not to mention a major communist party. Because, unlike nearly every other developed and many non-developed country, the US has none of those. What passes for even 'liberal' in the US would be considered soft right in most European and Latin American countries.

I can't remember where I heard it, but I heard someone talk about the entire political spectrum in the USA from A to B.

...over 60 percent of the U.S. public says too little is presently being spent on [blah, blah, it doesn't matter what]...

Please note that responses to loaded poll questions that cost nothing to answer don't count for much. As long as idle blather is free, people will often give a politically correct answer, rather than be embarrassed (in the purely social sense of being embarrassed, not in any sense of thinking they're actually wrong.)

What does matter is what happens when the chips are down and the costs as well as the benefits (and the degree to which costs and benefits are hypothetical rather than real) of a particular answer are laid down on the table for all to see. What often happens is not much at all - it's almost always blissfully easier to spend someone else's hypothetical time and money than it is to spend one's own real time or money.

And maybe sometimes that's not so bad. Consider the days and days of hysterically apocalyptic histrionics and hyperbole over the hurricane, as opposed to the reality.

Consider the days and days of hysterically apocalyptic histrionics and hyperbole over the hurricane, as opposed to the reality.

Estimated deaths so far (water is still coming down those swollen rivers): 21+
Estimated costs to property and businesses: $40 billion

Of course, the number of deaths is not known and presently it ranks 11th for hurricanes striking the US since 1980. You didnt know that I bet. Damage (not business sales losses) are ranked ~8th for hurricanes since 1980.

You should write a letter to the families of the 16 that died, saying it was all "histrionics." They would appreciate your heart-felt perspective from a non-hurricane state.

Estimated deaths so far (water is still coming down those swollen rivers): 21+

Irene: Death toll nears 40 as recovery begins

I wonder Oct if 21 or so deaths ranked it at #11 among hurricanes striking the US since 1940, what 40 will do? Tragically, this is one of the deadliest storms in a while.

Thank goodness Irene was well tracked and lots of precaution taken. Otherwise, the toll could have been much higher.

I think Wikipedia probably would have decent numbers.

A message to me from someone in the affected areas of NYC with connections to upstate NY:

I did okay just took on a little water ...some friends and family here and in NJ not as lucky. I was supposed to go upstate NY for my cousins funeral today but they got hammered by this thing last night....can't believe all the attention was focused on the Jersey Shore and NYC and no one thought of how bad the mountains were gonna be...the town of Windham was basically wiped away and my cousins in Saugerties where I was supposed to go today fell off the grid around 5 yesterday...still no contact but I'm sure they're okay...they took some of the worst damage of all up there its unbelievable...some of my family who had to evacuate from NJ went up there Friday thinking it was safest since it was so high up and we all had to be there 2day anyway....aint that a kick in the pants!

And yet, compared to the severe 1938 storm that has been the week-long subject of endless bloviation and twaddle, in the northeast it was nothing. It rained and was windy, a heavy nor'easter. And it flooded in most of the usual places, where foolish thickheads insist on living hard by the beach, by a river or creek, or in places that not long ago grew cattails and other swamp grasses luxuriantly. And yes a few trees (often rotten, that ought to have been cut down years ago) fell on people, and a few others foolishly drove into rushing water, as seems to happen every time it rains hard. Indeed all sorts of matters of that kind got breathless wall-to-wall coverage, with the pictures always artfully framed to make it seem as though what had struck was the apocalypse, instead of merely localized flooding down at the bottom of a V-shaped creek valley or some other spot where of course it would occur. So yes, there was a risk. It seems to have turned out to be roughly on the same order of magnitude as the risk undertaken to back the car out of the driveway and go grocery shopping, and rather less than the risk undertaken to haul the kids in the SUV to yet another soccer match located needlessly halfway across a state. So cry me a river.

And in the meantime, as long as we're flaunting emotion, let's not forget the thousands of people who died among the affected population during the last few days, or who die during any set of a few days. No, it fails even to rise to statistical significance. So unless people are also going to stop grocery shopping to avoid similarly trivial risk, it's not quite worthy of the massive overkill:

By mid-afternoon, reporters had resorted to pointing out sticks and trash in storm drains as evidence of debris.

Yes indeed, when it rains, sticks and trash can often be found on storm drain covers, big whoopee. Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Or if we set aside the emotionalism, we can consult a calmer take here:

We call disasters unimaginable, but all we do is imagine such things. “It hasn’t even started, and the city is already Atlantis,” one of the back seat riders announced.

That, you could conclude mordantly, is the real soundtrack of our time: the amplification of the self-evident toward the creation of paralyzing, preëmptive paranoia.

Again, sorry. Life is not a zero-risk proposition no matter how stridently or glandularly the puritans moralize, and this time around all sense of perspective seems to have been utterly lost.

Paul, without media attention and hurricane surveillance systems people in large number would have died and you know that too. You also know that comparing the casualties to 1938 is not sincere when such systems were not available.

Of course, you would likely deny that these early warning systems as part of our evil government were actually successful in preventing mass casualties.

The NWS and NHC actually did a remarkable job calling the hurricane path exactly. They did not predict the exact intensity well but that is like asking for perfect forecasting and that is an intractable problem.

The media largely did there job to take people out of their zones watching Jersey Shore and instead getting them the heck off of Jersey Shore. I applaud the media and the Government's hurricane system as a splendid example of efficiency, especially after the poor execution of government during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina incident.

I won't argue your point, but let's be honest.

Katrina hit New Orleans. No biggie.

Irene threatened the center of Imperium - D.C. and NYC. That's why the response was there, and that's why the follow through will be there as well.

As I recall, the eye of Katrina tracked to the east of New Orleans. That's why the worst damage was in Mississippi. If the track had gone a bit more to the west, things would have been much worse in NO. Then too, Katrina came ashore with less intensity than was seen over the Gulf, much like Irene when it made landfall near NYC...

E. Swanson

Katrina hit New Orleans. No biggie.

There was plenty of drama at the time.

Irene threatened the center of Imperium - D.C. and NYC.

The big drama makers - the media in NYC had a 'personal story' and were gonna share.

Here's the thing. If your media consumption is podcasts and DVRed TV - Irene was a non-event if it was not "a personal story"

There's an awful lot of range between abolishing all warning systems on the one hand, and histrionic hype (criticized by the authors I linked and many others) on the other hand. It's not either/or; it's not some kind of Manichean choice between Somalia and the old Soviet Union. One sure effect of all the hype is that we now have many millions of people who think they lived through the big one, and will be less likely to respond next time they hear it all again.

Sorry, but you really don't seem to understand the hurricane predictions posted by NOAA. Perhaps your focus should be on helping those people understand they should respond.


Paul, only foolish people are going to have a problem with thinking that future storms are not critical. Look Bush messed up Katrina. He was supposedly a Commander and Chief -- the Mission Accomplished guy. People feel guilty about it and want to fix the problem.

The number of news items on the Irene storm were in proportion to the lives lost and the damage to property.

Katrina was under-reported relative to lives lost, albeit not in the aftermath, but she was a sneaky storm that popped into the GOM, and well everyone was glad-handing that it missed NOLA when really she did what hurricanes do -- FLOOD -- she broke the dikes with freshwater rain. She also wiped out coastal, MS and people forget that. Now we can talk about the design of the dikes. I think they were designed to fail in the impoverished areas but that is conspiracy theory.

So to finish my point, your angst is about under-reporting for Katrina relative to Irene, but statistically Katrina was under-reported and Irene was reported in proportion to the damages relative to the last 30 years of storms.

It sounds like this was a big deal, at least in Vermont. Or, are they lying or just wrong when they say it is the worst flooding in 100 years in Vermont? Sounds like a lot of hardship there, but I am not there so don't really know. I will admit that early on I thought this was being overhyped but that is what the media does. But better safe than sorry. Only thing that worries me is that next time, less people will pay heed. Yes, you are right about the usual fools who think it is cool to tempt fate by messing around near the river or even the ocean. Very dumb. But then the dumb and foolish will always be with us.

There are also towns in New York State that effectively no longer exist. For example Prattsville near the Gilboa dam.

Floodwaters From Storm Isolate 11 Vermont Towns

On Monday, Mr. Cuomo led a helicopter tour of suffering towns, seeing submerged cars, ruined crops and washed out roads. In tiny, hard-hit Prattsville, what looked like a jumble of homes lay across a roadway, as if they had been tossed like Lego pieces.

“We were very lucky in the city, not quite as lucky on Long Island, but we were lucky on Long Island,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But Catskills, mid-Hudson, this is a different story and we paid a terrible price here, and many of these communities are communities that could least afford to pay this kind of price. So the state has its hands full.”

All time flood records were broken in the area,

For those thinking Irene was not accurately forecasted. Well the stormpath was dead on:

Irene was not about winds or strong organization. Irene was about coastal and inland flooding. Home in Sharon, Vermont moved pretty far from its foundation.

(Edit: added the NOAA animation)

"And maybe sometimes that's not so bad. Consider the days and days of hysterically apocalyptic histrionics and hyperbole over the hurricane, as opposed to the reality."

The hyperbole and histrionics, as usual, are yours. As usual, you just make stuff up to bolster your nonexistent point. As someone who was right on the path, I found the forecasting accurate and helpful. (Always excepting Accuweather, which as a private industry outfit, gets hysterical about a summer afternoon thunderstorm.) But the NWS guidance was good. As the situation developed, most of the news coverage reflected that.

Sure, whatever. Dig long enough and hard enough and useful info could be found buried here and there. But far more visibly and stridently, and continuing well past when the storm was essentially over (and as noted upthread):

New York City Media’s Hurricane Overkill.

The center of Irene hit New York around 9am Sunday. Winds reached 65 mph, the strongest in 25 years. By 10 am, the worst was over. No hurricane-shattered skyscraper windows, no preemptive power outages, no real flooding to speak of. The general tone among New Yorkers Sunday morning was, “That’s it?”

Hurricane Irene: Storm Warnings.

... First, that the media, television particularly, are amplifying devices in which tiny kernels of information become vast, terrifying structures of speculation.

"That's it?". Indeed. Now, to put this on-topic, is it any wonder at all that apocalyptic visions of PO or AGW get approximately zero traction among the wider public, who are saturated in apocalypses that never happened?

Paul, honestly you are barking up the wrong tree. The Cane was covered by the media in proportion to the damage in terms of lives lost and property damage.

That statistical analysis was done on the so called hyping you complain of. [LINK]

You are barking up the wrong tree and really a lot of effected people think your analysis is bunk. Ask them about your opinion!

Quite obviously there's disagreement among "affected people" as there always will be. If it's of little or no societal significance but it hits you, it might well be TEOTWAYKI for you. And yet life goes on even though someone dies of something unusual once in a blue moon (e.g. at the one-in-a-million level as is the case here.)

Apparently the folks I quoted (and many others) think it was hyped. As the guy said, "That's it?". With respect to the larger perspective, which is all that needs to concern us here, what could possibly be clearer than that?

Paul, this is the kind of storm about which doctoral theses will be written. It had a pressure of about 950mb for days, and managed to somehow hold that through thick and thin yet never build winds to match. By any ordinary measure, it SHOULD have been a Cat 3 or 4, and it easily could have been. There are plenty of examples of storms that intensify rapidly, and waking up to a Cat 4 when you expected a Cat 1 is not a good thing.

The only change going forward that I can recommend is increasing funding for cane intensity research; instead, I expect some people will lobby to cut the NHC because of perspectives like yours.

Actually it would seem like a good idea to cut down on the false alarms. We all know the parable about crying "wolf", and it seems to have applied in spades on some of the barrier islands, though maybe that was hyped too. (Funny, I haven't heard much about Sandy Hook etc.; something else to wonder about.)

Moderating the level of false alarms might be served not only by adopting a saner, less hyped perspective in the front office, but also by understanding the physical phenomena better in the back office. The latter doesn't exactly seem to call for drastic cuts in research, except maybe in the domain of a fallaciously excluded middle.

Given the difficulty of prediction and possible damage that could be caused in such cases as these, it would be the height of stupidity to EVER deliberately underestimate such things to avoid looking silly later.

I remember the last flu epidemic where the relevant agencies reacted correctly to the possible level of the threat and got told off for it when the probable didn't happen. With people talking about cutting their funding. It also happened with Y2K and people whinging that nothing happened after we spent all that money fixing the problem.

People always complain when "luckily" a bad event goes better than expected. What they are basically saying is "just not enough people died damnit". Would they really prefer the alternative perhaps?

Not sure if this helps...

The inner eyewall collapses and is replaced by outer band that contracts. This cycle occurs repeatedly and builds the strength of storm. The outer band didn't contract and instead the storm grew larger with energy more widely dispersed. Other events such as differential winds from an area of shear dropped energy considerably before storm arrived in New York.

This is from NY Times article Hurricane Lost Steam as Experts Misjudged Structure and Next Move

Plus it stayed to the west of the track, if it had stayed to the right the storm surge would have been worse and there would have been less resistance to the wind. I would not have said that not getting a perfect prediction on a chaotic event was a misjudgement.


Yair...I just have to comment here again. We get PaulS reaction like this all the time over here.

The so called "Authorities" are in a difficult situation. They get called out for "over reacting" by uninformed twits or else they risk the chance of being demonised because they "shoulda seen it coming".

As I mentioned on yesterdays thread these storms are unpredictable and few folks are ever hurt by an over cautious approach.

In a recent Cat. five over here some folks elected to ride it out and were hollering for help as their houses started to come apart before worst of it even hit.

I don't believe rescue crews should be expected to respond to idiots and was pleased to see that in some US states anyway there was a cut off time for responding.

I should add that I have ridden one out holed up in the cabin of a Mack. When it was over I found the sun visor had caused an eddy that had sandblasted the windscreen...and the paint had been partialy stripped on the up wind panels.

My sympathy and understanding to all those who have been affected.

It's not just that question though. It's been observed that on a wide range of political issues (public health care, environmental protection, taxation, gun control, military spending, social security spending etc.) the general poll numbers in the US are well to the "left" of both the US major parties. Though, interestingly, they are quite in line with the "centre ground" in European politics.

There are two responses to this. You can argue that people are lying in polls (either to impress pollsters or to make themselves feel better), that US public opnion really is far to the right of European public opinion, and that the US parties represent that opinion fairly.

Or you can argue that the US political system is basically broken, with a huge "hole" on the left where the various European labour, socialist, communist and social democratic parties would be, but just aren't. Notably, there is no corresponding hole on the right (Tea Parties and assorted Republican primary nuts are quite welcome).

It's not unreasonable that the huge sums of money for campaign finance and corporate media ownership may have quite a lot to do with the hole (moneyed interests generally despise and fear the left, and won't give it the time of day, let alone a donation). Further, it's not hard to spot that the hole is widening. No conspiracy theories needed.

Exactly what this has to do with "human nature" I'm not sure... it all seems very specific to the US way of doing "democracy".

I've been pushing a common sense agenda for years now, locally and nationally, so I don't think I qualify as defeatist.

"If the leadership admits and publicizes the problem, and the people reject the news, then we can talk human nature. But that has not yet happened. Quite the opposite, in fact."

If they do admit and publicize the problems we face, in any sense that actually addresses the problems, they won't be the leadership for long. Witness the midterm elections, the Tea Party movement, and Obama's capitulation on so many promisses. The various factions marshalled against progressive action on these issues have become very adept at manufacturing denial and consent. They own the conversations that matter to the masses. Seen any Peak Oil or climate change commercials lately to counter the Natural Gas and "Clean Coal" full court press going on? One reason I keep my TV (besides my wife) is to get a sense of the "in your face" denials being propogated on many levels.

There is a local town hall meeting here tomorrow night to push for a ban on solar farms, forwarding a proposal to implement a moratorium on PV installations in our county, many calling for an "indefinite ban", this despite a year long campaign by many to educate the population about the many evils of coal, which provides most of the areas electricity. I expect to be one of the few there in opposition to those who are discouraging renewables as "unsightly". The PTB in our area haven't even had much success getting folks to recycle. While I'll never change my stripes or stop speaking out, I expect I'll be in more of a position of saying "I told you so" rather than "we got 'er done".

As long as the decision makers equate growth and progress with survival, as long as consumption and expansion are considered necessary by the majority, I'll remain, in part, quite cynical.

By contrast, we get a 50% state tax credit for solar (+30% federal) in New Orleans.

The Historic Areas Commission, which generally have draconian regulations (wood frame windows, very limited choice for outside lighting, no whirly bird attic ventilators, specific types of shutters & hinges, etc.) has been steadily expanding where solar PV and solar hot water heaters can be installed :-)

Best Hopes for Integrating Solar PV into historic areas,


Check these scatter diagrams from the Texas state climatologist concerning 2011 summer temps and precip for the state. It is stunning.

Humanity - or its leaders - are not convinced by argument,

Not "Humanity", but some (most) cultures.

The nations that signed Kyoto, and tried to reduce carbon emissions, were convinced by argument.

In 1998, the Swiss citizens voted to spend 31 billion Swiss francs# on improving their already excellent rail system. Several goals, but #1 was shifting freight from trucks to rail. Reducing dependence on imported oil was a primary motivation, but reducing carbon emissions, reducing congestion and pollution were also motivating factors.

# The USA equivalent would be $1+ trillion.

And other examples of pro-active actions motivated by argument.

Best Hopes for Thinking Ahead,


The nations that signed Kyoto, and tried to reduce carbon emissions, were convinced by argument.

Possibly so, but at that time it only took "a signature" to comply to something that should take place a generation or two later ..... that's easy.
Ron is talking of "real action" and that is difficult, so the folks in charge today simply postpone the whole Kyoto-agreement onto the next generation ... again, that's easy. The circle is now complete.

As a Canadian, I regret to say that Canada is a prime example of this.

The nations that signed Kyoto, and tried to reduce carbon emissions, were convinced by argument.

But of course. That's why they have taken action to reduce carbon emissions. That's why they have already started to fall. That's why coal consumption around the world is falling... eerrr... wait a minute.

The Swiss already had an excellent rail system. They had been depending on it for years. No argument was needed. The U.S. however...

Alan, as I explained some politicians have foresight. Not nearly enough however. By and large politicians reflect the insight of their constituents and act as the polls indicate they should. I do hope you know how that goes. Witness the Tea Party....

But the Swiss are doing something about automobile travel... and carbon emissions. Yes, yes, yes, tiny Switzerland. Hope springs eternal in the world of believers.

Ron P.

some politicians have foresight

Unfortunately their foresight is usually about how to bend the political environment. What (often false) messages to endlessly drone into public consciousness, to insure that the sheeple will follow the party line. Politcians (and associated behind the scences operatives), are experts at politics, which is the manipulation of large groups of people (and increasingly, currying the favors of those with money).

"some politicians have foresight"

SARASOTA, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Sunday that she would consider oil and natural gas drilling in the Everglades if it can be done without harming the environment.


Now there's foresight you can believe in!! ;-/

Some on her staff might want to point out to Ms. Bachmann that Florida isn't exactly virgin hunting grounds and that S FL has been open for oil drilling for over 70 years: (from http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/es/jackson_field_office/plann... )

"There are two areas in Florida that to date have been found to be productive of oil and natural gas. They include an area in southern Florida on the peninsula and an area in the western panhandle of the state....The Sunniland Field in south Florida is the oldest in the state, having been discovered in 1943."

"The USGS ....estimates total...74 MMbbls of liquids and 325 BCF of natural gas to be discovered in the Florida Peninsula"

"It can be expected that there is a significant potential for new drilling and development in the state of Florida. It can further be expected that new drilling will be located near existing oil and gas fields. Despite the presence of existing, economically attractive production, new oil and gas development has not kept pace with the recent increases in oil and natural prices."

I would expect Ms. Bachmann's Everglades comment to hurt her more than help her in Florida. Not sure how rest of nation would feel. Most Everglades discussions I've read stress its importance to aquifer and drinking water. Also, NRA members enjoy the hunting in Everglades.

Perry has agreed to attend debate in Tampa on 9/12, so we have a few weeks to wait and see if these issues get vetted.

Most Everglades discussions I've read stress its importance to aquifer and drinking water.

No problem, they'll just switch to Brawndo. It's got electrolytes!

And then they can do what they do in south america when the water is privitised. have the government, in this case the police go around and pour cement into people's wells trying to get water for free as well as what ever pipes they have in the house!

That movie was totaly corny, but the opening sequence was brilliant, sums up the worlds present and future problems nicely

I wonder if Mrs. Bachmann is aware that the Everglades would likely be flooded as AGW warms the oceans. Perhaps she is actually aware of AGW and thinks that it would be better to drill for all that oil before the Everglades become a tidal mud flat. Oh, another point, there is phosphate to be mined in South Florida as well, so we had better hurry up and dig it all out before The Flood arrives...

E. Swanson

Dog - Actually it would easier to drill after a sea level rise: just float a drilling barge in. Putting together a drill site in a swamp is a very difficult/expensive proposition.

Shhhh...don't tell the little lady.

Putting together a drill site in a swamp is a very difficult/expensive proposition.

ROCK, Please do not call the Everglades a swamp! It is a living fresh water river system. It is one of the most magnificent ecosystems I know of. BTW, I have gone biking in Shark Valley in the Everglades and there is an old observation tower there, put in, in the early days of oil exploration. If I understand it correctly, there is oil there but it is very high in sulfur content and not very highly prized...

I guess a little thing like that shouldn't bother Ms. Bachmann too much, eh?

FuelFix on Bachmann


At lower right, FuelFix cites Energy Bulletin and TOD as among its leading sources.

brit - I can hardly wait. I never listen to such debates. But this time I'll be anxious to see if Good Hair takes the opportunity to slip a little PO slant into his comments. At the least he may rip Ms. Bachmann apart on energy. Nice thing about not having a dog in the figt: doesn't matter to me who wins and who gets ripped apart. Just good clean wholesome fun. LOL.

I'd rather see them mud wrestle. A real get-down-and-dirty dog and cat fight. That contest would likely draw a larger audience, IMHO...

E. Swanson

I don't normally watch debates either even though I try to read the responses after the debates. I may need to make an exception for this one since I don't expect it to be the normal boring debate. There's no money on the line for me so I won't see a winner or loser. I just see who did this or who did that.

Oh, regarding the profitability of oil drilling. Here's the Florida way to say it. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

EDIT: Added comment

As I say "Best Hopes" :-)

The point I am making is that "not reacting to argument" is not an immutable trait of humanity - but a cultural one.


"not reacting to argument" is not an immutable trait of humanity - but a cultural one.

Now here we have some meat to chew on. I would argue, very strongly, that it is an innate trait of humanity. We evolved, as hunter-gatherers to survive today, tomorrow, and through the coming winter until Spring brings a new abundance of food. We are myopic by our very nature.

Whether or not we can be persuaded by argument depends entirely on the subject and how it affects us. Some arguments have very little effect on our world view or our way of life, and therefore we are much more easily convinced by such arguments.

However when something clashes with our world view, as Galileo's views clashed with those of the Pope, we are almost never convinced by argument. When one's argument insist that we much change our way of life, or suggest that our children will live in a world much different from the one we live in now, few will be convinced. Our world view, whether it deals with our religion or our way of life, is not negotiable, not via argument anyway.

And such is most definitely innate. No culture on earth allows for the willy-nilly changing of world views. They are set like cement... once one gets past the age of about seven. Hence the Jesuit motto: Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.

Ron P.

I can see we are off on another bout of nature/nurture controversy.

"No culture on earth allows for the willy-nilly changing of world views."

I'll just agree, for now, with the 'willy-nilly' part (however you want to define or quantify it), but add that the other side of this is that no culture does NOT undergo change, constantly.

The word 'silly' used to mean 'blessed' and the word 'nice' meant 'silly.' These changes reflect many things, but certainly not a static, eternally unchanging culture and world view.

One more minor point (well, maybe not so minor): No culture has only ONE rigid, narrow world view. There is always some diversity in view points. And it is precisely this diversity that allows for change (but certainly not 'willy-nilly' change '-).

One last point: a few years ago millions of people completely gave up on what fore millennia had been viewed as the very 'staff of life'--people fled bread, the staple of western diets since thousands of years BC, out of mere vanity, ignorance, and crowd-following behavior.

Now it didn't stick (mostly), but if such a basic change could be produced for such a stupid thing, one would hope that more profound causes could bring about even deeper and more permanent changes. (One would hope, but unfortunately I must admit, at this point I do not expect deep voluntary changes.)

I am usually quite solidly of the belief that humanity is a thin veneer, that tribalism and individual benefit outweighs societal impacts in decision making, that humanity is bad at statistical math, and that we innately include a steep discount factor.

However, I think it is possible for world-views to change on generational timeframes (which can still make a big difference), and for solid well-made group decisions to come forth when we have a framework that aligns our propensities with the scope of our dilemmas.

For example, the Dutch can make better decisions because by and large their "tribe" is their entire country, and they see themselves as largely in the same boat whether rich or poor, and they therefore share better and plan for the future better. Obviously, they also have a highly visible external enemy -- the North Sea -- which helps promote working together, and taking a long-term view. It takes a long time to recover, desalinate, and utilize reclaimed bays for farmland, and eternal vigilance to keep the sea at bay. I imagine most Dutch people are thus conservative by nature, and would willingly forego short-term profits on shoddy dike construction.

I think Japan once had a similar view, and perhaps will again before long, though they strayed from the path for a while. Iceland strayed as well, but might recover as well.

I don't think the US can, at least not as currently structured, as there is too much variance between regions. Ditto for China, only moreso. Given the dike analogy, the US would contract to the lowest bidder and require only a 25 year service life, with a planned replacement for the grandkids to worry about, while for the Chinese corruption would compromise any design, and the contractors and party leaders would be living in Los Angeles or Europe when the dike failed in 10 years.

Not to completely disagree with your point, though -- the Dutch changed because events required it, but once changed, they seem to be able to carry that new world-view into other discussions and decisions.

There was a fascinating book written back in the 80's by Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist. He spent most of his research career examining how people are persuaded, particularly my marketers. The book is called Influence - the Psychology of Persuasion.

It is a long read but a Readers Digest version is as follows. Very , very few people can be persuaded using reason and logic. Decisions are made emotionally, then justified logically. No on wants to admit that because in this age of Enlightenment we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we are all logical and operate only from facts.

He discusses how skilled persuaders using "Weapons of Influence" end up convincing the overwhelming majority of people to come around to their point of view and only after doing that give them a few tidbits of facts to justify the decision they have already reached emotionally.

It is actually a discouraging read for a technical nerd like me. Because I realized how many time marketers had convinced me to buy something I really did not need - and I always though I was too logical for that.

I don't have high hopes for persuading the public by argument on any issue.

There was a fascinating book written back in the 80's by Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist.

That is one of my favorite books of all time. Just got my dog-eared copy and thumbed through it to see what I had highlighted. From Chapter 4, "Social Proof" my favorite chapter of the book:

We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.

Quoting a sales motivator who says "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

Ron P.

I agree with that assessment. It follows, of course, that TOD members will probably have more impact on society by "Being the change they want to see." than by attacking BAU with convincing arguments.

Best hopes for leading by example.


What you suggest is a matter of framing the argument for necessary change.

"Simply" convince people that the necessary changes are desirable - that the changes will lead to a better quality of life.

You may have noticed my arguments in that direction.

It worked for the Swiss people :-)

Best Hopes for Positive Changes,


"Simply" convince people that the necessary changes are desirable - that the changes will lead to a better quality of life.

Ahh but there's the rub. As we go down the backside of Peak Oil life is just going to get better and better. Do you really think you can get away with that? ;-)

Ron P.

Yes :-)

Envy, a need for feeling your group should be superior, etc. are all useful tools.

We Americans will panic at some point. It is a matter of directing that panic.

How do you like my line "Can Americans work with the speed, efficiency and determination of French bureaucrats ?"

Best Hopes for Emotional Manipulation,


Today I envied someone who rode by me on her bike in high leather boots. She smoked by me without a sweat. I have no idea how she did it. LOL. I must be getting old and slow.

But solar is going in. My house will have a smallish 1.6 kW-peak PV plant with microinverters on each of the 6 panels. My monthly payment is much much less than a car payment and my electric bill will be wiped out. I can add panels to offset by natural gas bill in the future -- heck I can overproduce and get a check from the power company, but I will have to pay taxes on any profits beyond my use.

When people start seeing 7% increases per year on their power bills (guaranteed legally) they will be as Ghung says, having buyers remorse.

Money will bite into the longing of expectations thing in America. And younger folks realize their parents indeed wasted money on non-essential items and a fairly wasteful lifestyle.

I've got a 1.4KW system. Fri. should have been my "true-up" date for the year. I'm not so hyper I sat out there waiting for the meter reader to show up, but I think I made about 105KW this month, and PG&E already owed me $1.70 going into Aug.
I'm gonna claim my occupation as "Green Energy Producer" on my next taxes.

Go, Bears

Rat '66

See I think this is the way to go, a small system that keels your high-rate usage. The guys are doing the tape measurements to get the plans in to the city for permitting. I think PV-system investment is better than a mutual fund basically but many mock the prospect. Amazing. Tax-free money. Go, Bears.

Hi Ron,

I agree that it is indeed difficult to get people to change their views. Is it impossible? Has humanity changed over the course of time? Last I checked most of us are no longer hunter gatherers. If one believes that humans are simply the sum of there genetic material, then there is essentially no difference between modern humans and the hunter gatherers we were 100,000 years ago. There may have been some progress over the course of history. Our scientific understanding of the natural world is much improved and culturally we are significantly different today than humans 1000 years ago. If you are arguing that change is difficult, I agree. If you believe that change cannot occur, I respectfully disagree.

D. Coyne

dcoyne78, dohboi, and Paleocon, you all three make the same point. Cultures change over time. Of course they do, cultures evolve just like everything else. Time changes everything. In high school I had a history teacher who said to the class:

There is one thing I firmly believe and I would shout it from the highest mountain if I could make you believe it. There is no such thing as a revolution in the mind of man, there is only slow eventual evolution.

That was around 1956. In hindsight, I assume he was thinking about the Civil Rights movement. And he was right. There was no revolution in anyone's mind. But in my long life I have witnessed the slow, eventual evolution. The culture of the South today does not remotely resemble the South of the 1950s.

Ron P.

I think calling it an innate trait is too strong. We should strive to be more precise in our use of the language. I would claim it is an intrinsic propensity, but that it can be affected by cultural factors. Particularly a culture that values evidence based knowledge, and teaches the methods for evidence based knowledge acquistition, can (mostly) overcome our inherent cognitive weaknesses/biases.

"as I explained some politicians have foresight"

Yes, they are exceptions to the Iron Laws of Human Nature.

But the Iron Laws are STILL the Iron Laws!

or maybe two weeks before. ;-)

Usually, its two weeks afterwards!

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Samuel Johnson

Study Finds That Fear Won't Don't Do It: Why Most Efforts at Climate Change Communication Might Actually Backfire

From The Big Think


Thanks for that Erain. We're in danger of Climate Change fatigue...

I've tended to find that fear doesn't work to spur action, unless you happen to find a very risk averse person, or one that can recognise the VERY big picture.

I think the study is wrong when it talks about solutions being the way though. There aren't any very workable, acceptable, solutions around on the climate change / peak oil front. If you try to talk about solutions you end up talking about 'making do with less' and that's never going to fly with the majority.

Instead I talk about waste and resilience. Waste because that's what the problem is much of the time, and resilience because the flip side of risk is the ability to 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. Everyone agrees they want to avoid waste and be resilient to problems.

In these terms decent building standards and insulation mean not wasting money on heating, and having a more pleasant environment to live in. Cutting down on driving means not having to slog through traffic by taking advantage of comms technology. Solar panels and solar hot water means not wasting money and having a fall back if the power goes out.

Where you end up is a similar position to the hair shirt brigade, but with a 21st century economy, not an 18th. The aim isn't to retrench back to a previous, lower energy existence; but to go forward into a more efficient and resilient future.

Good points - However

There aren't any very workable, acceptable, solutions around on the climate change / peak oil front.

Transferring freight from trucks to electrified and expanded rail is seen as an improvement.

Building urban rail to give a choice in how to get to work, shop, etc.

Making bicycling safer and easier can be seen as a positive.

Point out that 30% of Americans want to move to TOD, but there is not enough T to OD around.

Best Hopes for Framing the Issues,


The part about it being the largest energy source, I do beleive. The real question is how much we will have built, i.e. how constraining of future activities will not-enough solar has been built be?

I'm with you EOS. Who said anything about an

enormous increase in solar power "by 2060"?

As far as I am concerned, what they are saying could be decoded to mean, "sorry about the predictions for Peak Oil in 2035 or beyond folks. It looks like we might be wrong, Peak Oil might be a lot earlier and hence by 2060 most of the energy we use will have to come from the sun, whether we like it or not."

with wind, hydropower and biomass plants supplying much of the remaining generation,

That's right folks! For one reason or another (Peak Oil anyone?) we will be using very little FF by 2060.

Alan from the islands

Actually, I think we will build a lot more solar than people here assume. As it becomes both cheaper, and more obvious that the other sources won't carry the day, it will expand greatly. Probably not enough for BAU as presently envisioned, as variabilty and limited storability will eventually force us to change our attitudes towards doing stuff at 100% 24/7. But, if we aren't idiots, we should be able to preserve a decent lifestyle.

Yes - the heat this summer has been really oppressive. Saturday and Sunday set new records for the date on both days here in Tallahassee. That's the third new high record recorded this month, and there were two additional days when we tied the existing record. Strangely enough we also set a single new low for a date this month as well.

In the Philadelphia region, we had the most snow in a two-winter period ever, capped with a thunder snow storm in February. July was the hottest month in Philadelphia history. August had the most rain for a month in Philadelphia history even before the hurricane went through.

....and we set a record today - 101, beating the old record by two degrees.

"Is it just me, or does the IEA "projection" about the enormous increase in solar power "by 2060" seem utterly meaningless? Pigs may fly by then too."

Yes. Pigs may fly by then, and I will be quite dead, so I won't be able to hold them to it :-)

8" of rain and some frisky winds from Irene up here in central NH - the only casualty was that our chimney-cap blew off. I was surprised how many trees didn't fall down.

Is it just me, or does the IEA "projection" about the enormous increase in solar power "by 2060" seem utterly meaningless?

The society has been solar powered for years. Photons is how the coal and oil was created.

"Is it just me, or does the IEA "projection" about the enormous increase in solar power "by 2060" seem utterly meaningless? "

Two generations sounds about right to me. For the PV production plants; four years (minimum) to get the EPA permits. Three years to build the plant, a year to get it running at design capacity.

For the solar farm, four years (minimum) to get the EPA permits. Two years to build the plant.

The Sunrise Powerlink is still being fought over.


The 11,000 page EIS was filed in 2006.

And this is for one dinky in-state powerline. Heaven forbid if you try to run a megavolt DC line coast to coast.

Do not worry, PVguy,

Michelle has been instructed by her husband, who is instructed by his preacher, to shut down and padlock EPA. She will then start up the Department of Conservation, which will insist that everybody act responsibly.

Just vote for Michelle.

re: Canada in danger of missing the boat in the Arctic

There is a big difference between making lemonade out of lemons, being opportunistic, and cheerleading the charge for the Arctic melt and effects of GW.

While some view a thawed north with hand rubbing avarice, I think most Canadians are concerned and upset about the prospective change and those changes already underway.

Maybe this is a boat well missed, and maybe a slow and cautious approach is best. After all, look what the resource rush has already done for us? For the planet? Anyway, Canada is doing well as it is. Do we need to hurry up and scramble for more? Plus, who gives a flying f*** what some French ambassador says about Canada? What's it to them?

While I am no Harper fan, I do like the increasing presence of people in Canada's north, including modest development. It is kind of like leaving a coat on a chair. This seat is taken, for now. We may sit at the table when the dance is done. Plus, there is also a philosophy of actually allowing northerners a say in their own fate with the formation of Nunavet.


I think that the overwhelming presence and accompanying destructiveness of human's colonization of the planet is tragic and will eventually lead to his/her demise. Maybe some lemonade will be made up North but it will still taste bitter. I have a cousin who visited ANWR, came back, and announced that there was "nothing" up there so why not drill, baby, drill. And thank goodness there is "nothing" in the tar sands areas either. Otherwise, "something" might be destroyed.

"tragic"----that is certainly one point of view. But history unfolds and fossil fuels are "natural" and a part of the planet...could history have happened any other way? Better to see oneself as part of an unfolding process, a never-ending unfolding process with smooth parts and bumps. One is simply privileged to have the eyes, the ears, the brain to process the information and witness a tiny portion of this long process unfolding, some of it is unfortunate, or as you say, tragic...that is true.

I am hoping these lines from Giordano Bruno(from Dialoghi italiani)might be of assistance:

"It is to be desired---said Jupiter---that this sovereign virtue, called Calmness of Spirit, appear in the heavens, as it is that which balances men against the upheavals of the world, renders them constant against the buffets of fortune, keeps them away from the care of governments, prevents them from pursuing every novelty, makes them of little annoyance to their enemies and of little trouble to their friends, quite untouched by pride or conceit, unperplexed by the vagaries of chance, not irresolute at the prospect of death."

Giordano Bruno, in my opinion, somehow anticipated the general trajectory of the complexity/collapse process for the European civilization. In other words, on a vague and mystical level, he preceeded Joseph Tainter by 400 years. He did this all by understanding the basic structure of the solar system, by understanding that there were no inputs other than solar that would last, that even agricultural civilizations reach their limits and dissolve back into the ether. He didn't do physics like a mathematician; he was more like a systems thinker, a really brilliant thinker. And he could see the moral side, too, how the process could affect values and perceptions.

And we know what happened to Giordano Bruno as the result of his rational philosophy. Bruno's life should serve as a warning regarding the evils of theocracy, a lesson which is still being repeated around the World today...

E. Swanson

We know that Bruno was executed for heresy by being burned at the stake in Rome. But that is not something that happens these days. Hopefully we have transcended that phase of human history!

Bruno has been more recently credited with being an early conceiver of the Gaia hypothesis. Even someone who (again, vaguely and in outline) anticipated quantum mechanics and relativity...

He talks about an unfolding process, echoing Tainter's phrase that "we should understand where we are in history". The narrative that has prevailed since the Enlightenment, steady progress forward, ever better and better "economic development" for everyone, by humans, is fraying, aging, cracking. Do any young people believe that stupid narrative anymore? Isn't it more persuasive to see ever-present flux, shifting circumstances...a natural unfolding with ourselves as just a small part of the whole, not directors or captains of progress?

More and more, in the analyses (for example,) of Nouriel Roubini, Marc Faber, Albert Edwards, Meredith Whitney and of course many others we can see a much more sophisticated underlying narrative that has been freed from the straight-jacket of Enlightenment "progress" ideas. We can see some thinking going on, some grappling with real circumstances, not just autopilot.

I think people can learn to see a longer trajectory, can train themselves to see it....as Bruno did. As Hubbert did. As Kunstler, and many many others.

Sure maybe it is painful to see oneself as a tiny ant, a nothing, a mote, in a huge galaxy...but science has confirmed this idea.... and tiny creatures, we cannot direct progress or control our own destinies. In a way that is a relief!

You are right that there haven't been reports of people being executed for heresy in Europe or the Americas for quite some time, witch burning having gone out of fashion, however I was not thinking of the Western nations. Such punishment is still delivered in nations with Fundamentalist Muslim governance, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have also seen recent conflicts between members of different Christian faiths, such as that between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. There is a vocal movement in the US which aims to return the US to a form of Fundamentalist Christian faith, known loosely as the dominion movement. HERE's an editorial comment from the NYT regarding Perry and Bachmann, which sparked numerous comments. Krugman's comments Monday are even better..

E. Swanson

I’m pleased to see that Krugman used the term “willful ignorance”. I started using that term about ten years ago, in reference to Bush43 and his administration, but most people responded as if I had joined the tin foil hat crowd. (BTW, whatever happened to tinfiolhatguy?) So now I’m pleased to find that Krugman has caught up with me. .

Seems to me that everything is born to die. Could it be that the real purpose of being is
to then not be?

Ah, to be or not to be--THAT is the question.

Maybe it is also the answer.

There is a new video series up on Newculture's Channel on YouTube

Four new videos all by Richard Douthwaite - Money Supply in an Energy Scarce World, Peak Oil.

Only three of them are up right now on Newculture but the fourth is available on the web.

Ron P.

India wants Oil Price Controls

An agreement between oil exporters and importers.


Interesting, but unworkable IMHO.


From the article:

Since rising fuel prices adversely affect the world economy as a whole but more so developing countries, international oil markets must not be allowed (to be) divorced from the fundamentals of demand and supply.”

This seems to be a tad on the ironic side, given that China & India (Chindia) have been consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of Global Net Exports (GNE) since 2005.

I read this article twice. Irony is the correct term. This is the most ironic thing I have read in years.

He said this means that the world will have to find means of bringing more and more oil to the markets, for which huge investments will be required.

Huge investments must be made to bring more and more cheap oil to developing countries?

John Michael Greer describes the difference between Problems and Predicaments.

The difference is that a problem calls for a solution; the only question is whether one can be found and made to work, and once this is done, the problem is solved. A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people come up with responses. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but none of them “solves” the predicament, in the sense that none of them makes it go away.

Peak oil is a predicament. It costs more and more to recover the remaining oil supplies. This is a predicament. The Indian who wrote the piece thinks it is all a problem to be solved. It is not. It is a predicament to be faced. There is no solution to the problem, there is only consequences to be faced.

Ron P.

Ron - Particularly "...the world will have to find means of bringing more and more oil to the markets, for which huge investments will be required." Maybe I'll get off my lazy butt and pull the stats together on the late 70's US drilling boom. Embargo induced higher prices led to over 4,600 rigs running in the USA at that time...more than twice the number running today. And this was just shortly after the country had reached PO: we obviously had more undeveloped reserves left than we have today. Yet for the tens of $billions spent drilling there was a disproportionally small amount of production added. I watched first hand as many wells which had little chance of success being drilled. Expand that to the current condition for the rest of the world. And "huge investments" might be made (if the various economies can scape the bucks together) but IMHO we shouldn't expect a proportional increase in either flow rates or proven reserves.

Another part of this myopia is thinking that significant 'investment' can ultimately come from something other than energy. Obviously oil is not the only source of energy, but energy is pretty much the point of oil extraction.

They are essentially saying, "We don't have cheap enough energy, so let's use up a whole lot more energy to get a whole lot more cheap energy."

In a world where EROEI for oil was 100 to 1, this worked--more energy put into oil production yielded a huge return. But that model is working less and less well as we get down to the hard-to-get-at stuff and the hard-to-convert-to-usable-oil stuff.

Alan - I have it all worked out once I become the benevolent dictator of the planet. India has a valid point but ignores the obvious conflicts of interest. Just one example: OPEC nations that have reached or near peak. They lower the prices so the world can consume more of their depleting asset at a faster rate thus lowering their remaining income. Yep...they'll jump right on board. LOL. Now if all the importing countries agreed to drastically reduce consumption (causing a fall in prices) but agree to pay above market rate for the oil they do buy maybe a deal can be struck. Yep...that'll happens: Americans will voluntarily pay $3/gallon when the market can only support $2.50/gallon.

I made the point some time ago that the oil patch would have gladly welcomed a lower but long term fixed price for oil/NG. The volatility we've had for the last 60 years has made it very difficult to make long range investments. The high price periods don't come close to making up for the low price times when recessions kick in.

What the Indian Oil Minister suggests might require an organization made up of net oil importing nations (NOINs, pronounced in TX/Southern drawl as NO-Wins) as a counter to OPEC. My WAG is that the NOINs would need to nationalize their energy producing and distributing companies to affect the required control on their markets. Price controls alone wouldn't work, as they would distort the market. If retail prices were kept low, the companies which produce oil within those nations might find that their profits were limited such that they would not continue to drill. Conversely, if the retail prices were kept high, the economy would suffer. I think we've already seen such problems at work in developing nations which set market prices using subsidies, such as China, India and Indonesia.

In the US, the government might set a floor on the price of oil, thru variable taxation. The American public is already near rebellion after oil prices spiked and gasoline jumped to around $4 a gallon. There has been much outcry against the oil companies, blaming them for the high prices, which misses the essential point that the cheap oil is running out. What are the chances that the US public would willingly accept world price controls, which would be accompanied with controls on global distribution???

Edit: Changed acronym to NOIN

E. Swanson

ROCK -- Just out of curiosity, once you become benevolent dictator (you can have my vote for a very modest price), what are you going to do about Africa? Over a billion people now, much of the continent already net importers of food calories, looming climate change effects, horrible lack of infrastructure, etc.

He will find out the hard way that he CAN'T do anyting about Africa.

If I could dream a little I would install a satelite carried system that sterilize any woman after her first birth, untill the population in that local area reaches a target population. We would end at 500 millions, or possibly 200, globaly.

mc - Easy: I would take every cruel dictator and violator of human rights and have them executed. Seriously. I don't consider human life "sacred"...never have. But the right to live without tyranny is sacred in my book. And then I would put inplace legal authorities that would follow decent rules...or be executed. We all die eventually. Subjegate the innocent and I'll get you an early seat on that bus to the Promised Land. Benevalent to the the good...a nightmare to the enemies of hunmanity.

A little beyond tough lovee eh? LOL. But I'm deadly serious. Look at where the industrialized civilizations are heading. We talk on TOD endlessly about not being able to carry on BAU. If Africa slips below it's current BAU what type of hell hole do you envision for them then? I suspect it may be too late for my radical plan to work: too little time and resources. I always go back to my best example: Equatorial Guinea. One of the richest countries on the planet PER CAPITA due to their oil exports to the US and EU yet the great majority of the population is impoverished and live under the murderous rule of the latest dictator.

The US could take over the entire country without firing a shot. The dictator, out of fear of being overthrown, doesn't allow his army to be well armed. They do their bloody deeds with machetes. But as long as the "civilized" US and EU keep getting those oil exports nothing will happen.

In ancient Grece, the king Whatshisnameolopois got tiered of the corupt judge of the city court. So he had him flogged alive, and made a chair. The seat was made of the skin of the corupt judge. This chair was the made the official seat of the new city judge. To the possition he appointed the son of the former judge. On the installation speach, the king told the new judge to "remember what seat you sit on".

It probably had some effect on the moral charachter of the new judge.

This article is pure gibberish... This article completely misses the most important point about prices. High prices are here to match demand with supply. Price based model for balancing supply and demand can not be simply abandoned - it can only be replaced with some other other rationing model. But what other one? I think article is saying that Indian government is missing to understand that the fact that gas is so unaffordable for so many is exactly the desired outcome. There is simply not enough of oil for everybody. Any attempt to try "solve" this problem if futile as this problem is not really a problem, but reflection of a reality that there is not enough oil for everybody.

S Jaipal Reddy, India’s petroleum and natural gas minister, comments in the article shows how difficult our future will be:

The human population on the planet is inching towards the nine billion mark by the middle of the century. With a rapid increase in the consumption of energy world-wide, particularly in the emerging economies, issues related to global energy security will acquire a renewed urgency.

The comment assumes that there will be enough energy (meaning oil) to supply that "rapid increase in consumption". If Peak Oil is indeed upon us, there won't be any increase in consumption. Thus, this statement:

For emerging economies like India which are also net importers of oil, the stability of the international oil markets and transparency in price formation of oil are very important. (emphasis added)

How will India, a nation with nuclear weapons, respond to the potential existential threat which will arise as each of the oil importing nations of the world scramble to acquire a share of the remaining oil resource for themselves? Where in history is the precedent for a harmonious agreement to share an essential resource, when the supply becomes restricted?

E. Swanson

Of course, as noted above, the irony is that the developing countries have so far been winning the bidding war for declining global net oil exports.

How will India, a nation with nuclear weapons, respond to the potential existential threat which will arise as each of the oil importing nations of the world scramble to acquire a share of the remaining oil resource for themselves?

The Indian Govt will implode...Period. India is rich in water and land but not in energy. And to make matters worse the Govt is overstretched on all fronts trying to defend against Pakistan in the west, China on the east and countless internal rebellions throughout the country. This Govt is up to it's eyeballs in debt and now they are proposing a Food Security Bill this winter which will guarantee Rs 2/kg grain (5 cents a kilo) to 800 million people.

Ouch. I hope that was an emotional reaction to something they did, rather than a sober assessment.

Actually, I suspect the relative competitive poistions with respect to national share of exportable oil, will depend more upon the marginal utility of a barrel of oil, as experienced by the various importing economies. I see no reason a-priori to assume that OECD countries marginal utility will be greater than that of rapidly developing ones. In fact we are seeing smallish, but significant drops in oil consumption in many developed countries, including especially the US, while rapidly developing countries are consuming more. This would imply, that they are willing and able to outbid the developed countries for the marginal barrel.

Outbidding for oil to me has a lot to do with where the jobs are. People with jobs can afford to buy goods that are made with oil. People without jobs cannot afford to buy goods made with oil (except to the extent they get unemployment insurance). Demand comes from being able to afford to buy goods and services.

The drop in jobs comes for a couple of reasons:

1. As oil prices rise, people cut back in discretionary spending, so jobs are lost in the discretionary part of the market. (This is not an issue in China and India, where people spend little on oil.)

2. Attempts to make more profit, by moving jobs to where salaries are lower.

Without jobs, we go into recession, and oil demand decreases.

That was a sober assessment. Earlier I used to think that since the average Indian lives on 1/20th the resource used by a westerner, we would somehow be able to trod along but as things are unwinding it's quite clear that the possibility of a severe social unrest remains quite real.
The recent Gasoline price hike has broken the back of Indian consumer, people are angry. I don't know how we will be able to tolerate 150$ oil, even if it's caused by printing money and not due to actual shortage.


IMO, that is an unhelpful rhetorical flourish. With that one utterance, you just shut down any discussion. Period.

Oh helz, I just did it!


I love rhetoric, it counters banal diplomacy very well :-)

The Indian Govt will implode...Period.

What government structure will survive the upcoming Peak Oil kefuffel?

Wise Indian,A few corrections or rebuttals:
1.India is rich in water and land.Please read Lester Brown.The water tables in India are falling at an alarming rate fastest in the world.I have many classmates who are rich farmers(students from St.Stephan's Delhi) in India.They lament the water and the degraded soil quality.Being illiterate The Indian farmers during the green revolution overused fertilisers and pesticides.
2.I have from a long time said that the Indian boom is a credit boom.The middle class is living on maxed out credit cards.When I left India in 1993 there were no credit cards,the only one available was Diners Club and friends would be astonished/awed when I flashed it in hotels/restaurants.Now every Tom,Dick and Harry has them.To prove my point the raising of interest rates by the central bank this year has led to a fall in sales of cars by 25% in the last quarter,durable goods by 35% and real estate has also fallen and the market is stagnant leading to liquidity problems for the builders.Consumer credit in India came very late so it will peter out late with the same effect that it has had in the West.The central bank is really worried about the bad loans which the banks are carrying.
3.The balance sheet of the Govt is a hoax.The major subsidies oil,food,fertiliser are off balance sheet and the Govt issues bonds(something like the FED buying Govt debt from the Treasury)to settle the bills.If you take these in account the Govt is already bankrupt.A big ponzi and when it blows up the party will be over.

Hole in head, what do you think is going to happen to the Indian Rupee? Do you think it will appreciate or depreciate with respect to the US $ over the next 3 years?

Suyog,Absolutely no idea.Currencies are too manipulated to make any sort of a forecast.The rupee is still not fully floating and as for the USD the lesser said the better.

Here are my replies

1. I have read all the sources you mentioned, yes water tables are falling. But the reason I say India is water rich is because our water sources are not fossil aquifers like Ogallala they get recharged through rain water. So it's a case of bad management (most of it down to indiscriminate tube-well usage) not a case of hard constraints. With a crisis in the future I expect water management to improve and the problem to subside. To put things in perspective, the Indian river basin supported million+ populations even in the time of Romans. In my homeland the land is so fertile that farmers put out two-three crops in a year without any irrigation.

2. Cars are too costly for most Indians so they are bought on credit, not so much other things. Every Tom Dick and Harry doesn't have credit cards, the percentage is rising but it is miniscule. Besides that Indians have a healthy savings ratio, around 35%, we are taught since childhood to save as there is no safety net to speak of.

3. I agree the Govt is deep in Debt. I don't have much hope in it anyways.

Looks like the pork industry is going to have negative growth in 2012 because corn prices will be too high.

Can pork industry find its share of corn crop?

This year’s corn crop is not big enough to meet the entire consumption base that has been built. Prices will have to be high enough to convince some end users to reduce consumption from current levels, says Chris Hurt, a Purdue University economist.

That's funny. We seem to have an increasing number of porkers around these parts. Most of these are tourists.

The rub is mandated:

"“To meet the mandated domestic Renewable Fuels Standard will require about 4.7 billion bushels with nearly 400 million additional bushels used to make ethanol that will be exported. The 5.1 billion bushels of mostly mandated usage is 39 percent of the 2011 crop,” he says."

As R. Rapier has argued, the double incentive of blender's credit and mandated use is absurd.

But we have what we have, and corn as animal feed is becoming too expensive. The questions are the shifts and where they will play out. I see alot of substitution here, barley for corn with hogs, probably this won't make a difference in total national production figures. Will it shift to grass fed livestock? I don't know, but it seems the price for ruminant livestock is already pushing beyond what the market will take.

We are trading cheap meat for motor fuel. When I say "we" I mean the guys that decide how the US will be run for the next decade. They made this decision when Bush was president.

I think we need to go on a diet and I am torn between food and fuel. But I would rather see better gas mileage than more corn ethanol. But that was the more logical step when Bush first noticed the oil problem. That decision was made a decade too late. So we are going for more ethanol and less meat for a while.

It's more than just meat--dairy, eggs, to an extent products made with vegetable oils, soft drinks, well you know. Cheese is really on a ride, ice Cream to follow, if it isn't now. In spite of the salivating for Blue Bell often heard on this site, I don't care for ice cream. Or is it Blue Bunny.

What a "bridge" fuel. That was how it was originally touted, but with the mandates, you'd never know it. And I think alot it was as a sop to the perceived environmental community, realizing it also had big support from certain states. Their green solution to black oil.

Yes, lots of politicking for those electoral vote in the big Corn states. I think Iowa is a key state in Presidential elections. I also think you make good points about cheese, eggs, and Blue Bell (Rockman's favorite). I contemplated having backyard chickens, but my wife is not on board with that one yet ;-) We trade green beans for eggs with our neighbors though; they now have 5 chickens!

We should add methanol from NG but see the Iowa thing is the issue imho.

Replacing Coal: Wind Power Generation in China

China has the most installed wind electricity generation capacity in the world. Using that as the measure rather than the percent of total electricity production capacity, it is the world leader in wind energy.

As a percent of total electricity production, China’s wind generation is about one percent.

The USA percentage is about 3 percent now.

Denmark is the leader with 21 percent of electricity generation coming from wind.

China would have to triple its installed wind generation capacity to reach American levels and would have to increase wind by 20 times to reach the level of Denmark.

They must do something because they are very near peak coal in China and possibly past it.

Chinese coal consumption in millions of short tons and percent increase from previous year.

2001	1,303,372.00	5.16 %
2002	1,443,031.00	10.72 %
2003	1,746,426.00	21.02 %
2004	2,200,081.00	25.98 %
2005	2,403,503.00	9.25 %
2006	2,537,639.00	5.58 %
2007	2,743,381.00	8.11 %
2008	3,004,415.00	9.52 %
2009	3,474,665.00	15.65 %

Which is almost half of the total world coal consumption.

2001	5,110,085.00	1.24 %
2002	5,278,180.00	3.29 %
2003	5,706,770.00	8.12 %
2004	6,258,642.00	9.67 %
2005	6,496,334.00	3.80 %
2006	6,719,960.00	3.44 %
2007	7,047,857.00	4.88 %
2008	7,345,642.00	4.23 %
2009	7,577,379.00	3.15 %

Don't have data for 2011 but their imports increased in 2011 so their consumption is still rising, though this article is 9 months old.
China 2011 net coal imports to surge 63 pct -Citi

"Net imports should rise from (an estimated) 143 million tonnes in 2010 to 233 million tonnes in 2011. Demand surplus expands; and both domestic price and international price should rally," Citigroup said in a research report led by Scarlett Chen.

Coal consumption is increasing in the World, which means more carbon emissions.

Ron P.

Depending on the dates, non-Chinese coal consumption appears to be flat or declining.

And the Chinese efforts in other areas (90 MW new hydro, 100 nukes, energy efficiency and significantly - high efficiency coal fired plants (3 tons of coal produce as much electricity as 4 to 4.5 tons do in existing plants)) suggest that Chinese coal consumption will decline soon - for lack of coal if nothing else.


Depending on the dates, non-Chinese coal consumption appears to be flat or declining.

Since you did not provide a link or reference, I thought I would find it myself. Found this:

Coal Industry Outlook – March 2011

As per the “Short-term Energy Outlook” of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal consumption in the electric power sector grew by nearly 5% in 2010, primarily the result of higher electricity consumption during the hot summer. Despite this growth, coal production in 2010 grew only by 1% according to the EIA, as a drawdown in coal stocks, particularly in the power sector, met the increase in coal demand.

Increased domestic coal consumption coupled with muted production increases in 2010 led to a meaningful reduction in U.S. generator stockpile levels from the peak levels in November 2009, with further reduction expected through 2011.

And that 2010 hot summer that caused that spike in coal consumption got even hotter in 2011. Perhaps you were a little premature. Coal consumption will be flatting or declining in the near future, due to falling coal stocks and reserves, but just not yet.

Ron P.

I used your world total minus your Chinese total to find the "Non-Chinese" total. I did it in my head.


There may have been a pause in rest-of-world consumption, but with Germany and Japan both deciding to reduce their use of nukes, and Andhra Pradesh in India recently approving a further 173 coal-fired power stations, I can't see it declining for a while.

Even Vietnam, one of the countries most at risk from sea level rise, is building new coal-fired power stations, e.g. this one and this one. Awesome.

It's good that the Chinese have decided to fit sulphur scrubbers to their power plants, though.

Decreasing the emission of sulfur dioxide will reduce the scattering of sunlight causing Earth to warm faster.

Net imports should rise from (an estimated) 143 million tonnes in 2010 to 233 million tonnes in 2011.

A 38.6% increase in coal imports in one year?! Not sure why a pipeline to bring tar sand oil to the Gulf is seen as the GW gamebreaker when China's usage of coal continues to rise so fast.

Just finished "Collapse" by Diamond. I know many here have read it, and I was perhaps remiss for not getting to it earlier. Diamond tries to end on an upbeat note, but it's overall a sobering read. While a lot of the qualitative positions are to some extent debatable since the relevant societies died centuries ago, the themes are clear, and a few quantitative points are worth repeating:

- For China to be a first-world country, world resource consumption will more than double. For the whole world to be first-world, it would be more like 7x.
- We've already crossed peak fish, and are close to harvesting half of the forests of the world
- Soil and groundwater are depleting in most areas of the world, while deserts are growing.

Many of the problems we're creating for ourselves are irreversible in any reasonable timeframe, while for most others the effort to fix the issue dwarfs any effort to prevent it in the first place. We sacrifice an awful lot of our future to get things cheap today. There are way too many people on the planet for this to end well.

While I disagree with some of Diamond's conclusions, I agree with your summary statement. What we may be seeing is that China is becoming more like the other "developed" nations, while the developed nations are becoming more like China. The Chinese economic advantage is their very low wage rates for labor, which has sparked a boom in their economy. Here in the US, we apparently are seeing the reverse, where real wages for industrial labor is declining, as the result of layoffs and plant closings. If the Chinese would allow their currency to be valued higher, this would tend to bring the labor rates into a closer match, but the Chinese understandably don't want to give up their advantage in trading with other nations.

However, even were there to be a re-alignment in currencies to remove the distortions, the fact of resource limits will not be solved. I recall a comment to the effect that supplying all humanity with lifestyles with material consumption levels typical in the US would require the resources from 4 Earths. That such can not happen is just now dawning on the US public's mind...

E. Swanson

I think 1/4 the population is more likely than 4 earths, but realistically there will never be a flat prosperity model. There will always be a broad distribution, and the US has enjoyed a long stay at the top.

US exceptionalism is real - but not necessarily in a good way. IIRC, the US is the only top-10 population country which is also a top-10 standard of living country. Our population*lifestyle product is by far the largest...which is why we consume a disproportionate fraction.

Ron has it right above - we have predicaments, not problems, at varying scales and of multiple types. The best we can do is to mitigate the consequences of existing predicaments and strive to prevent other problems from evolving into predicaments.

"strive to prevent other problems from evolving into predicaments"

Nicely put. I wish this were a more widespread ethic and understanding.

Perhaps a ranking based on population density would give a better idea of US "exceptionalism", as what we see today is the result of our forefathers exploitation of a large nation which had no previous "development". That situation was the result of an inadvertent genocide of the pre-existing population, aka "Indians". That the US was the first nation to exploit the oil resources we had was exceptional, but the Europeans had already begun to exploit their most available fossil fuel, which was coal. US development of coal also occurred, building on science and technology from Europe, such as the steam engine. The other US advantage was our relative isolation from the conflicts which plagued Europe for centuries, thus we did not suffer the massive infrastructure destruction from WWI and WWII as did Europe and Japan. Our predicament is that we were the leader of the pack, the fox chased by the hounds which eventually becomes exhausted and is caught...

E. Swanson

"inadvertent genocide"

Let's call that 'mostly inadvertent'--our germs certainly did most of the work, but Europeans were not very hesitant about using 'guns...and steel' when the need arose. And some of the spread of germs were 'advertent' iirc.

I like your 'leader of the pack' image, though. Perhaps we start to be more fox-like (I almost said 'foxy') and cleverly double back to where we started from.

There are way too many people on the planet for this to end well.

Evolution is a natural process and our species should not last more than a couple of million years anyway. We will either go extinct or evolve into a new and more sustainable species. The pressures we are putting on future selection will only help this process along.

La Presse, the leading French language newspaper in Montreal, has run several good articles recently about public transport projects either planned or already under construction. These include:




All the studies and plans seem to be converging on a planned system of electric trolley-buses, operating as BRT systems, due to the high costs for extending the subway system, or for surface light rail systems.

HydroQuebec, which has influence in La Belle Province, is pushing this move.

I read the earlier study to electrify three of five commuter rail lines. I will enjoy these as well :-)

Best Hopes for Renewable Powered Transportation,


Hi Breadman,

I have a particular fondness for trolley buses* and nothing would please me more than to see their triumphant return, but I wonder how well they would perform with respect to Montréal's harsh winters.

BTW, a blast from this city's past....

Back in March, 1949, Halifax became the first city in North America to be served wholly by trolley coaches.

See: http://www.trolleybuses.net/hfx/htm/can_h_hfx_misc_ad_ob_trolleycoachesc...

The Upper Canada transit authority predicted that Halifax would have 15 million revenue and transfer passengers in 1952, a sizeable figure for a city of 100,000. 1952 came and went. The operating report showed that more than 28 million passengers rode the system operated by Nova Scotia Light and Power, Ltd.

and: http://www.trolleybuses.net/hfx/htm/can_h_hfx_misc_ad_ob_trolleycoachide...


* Even though riding on one is much like riding a bucking bull in heat.

A major manufacturer of trolley buses is New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg. Winnipeg is considerably colder in winter than Montreal, so I think their buses will probably work okay there.

As for diesel buses - try starting a diesel bus that has been left out overnight at 40 below. Allow about 3 hours for this exercise.

I don't recall riding trolley buses as "much like riding a bucking bull in heat." I was mostly struck by how fast they accelerated and how well they climbed hills. The main problem occurs when the driver makes a wrong turn, and then has the problem of how to get back to the street that the trolley wires are on.


I'm familiar with New Flyer through my years spent living in Toronto. I use to take the Bay St. trolley to work during inclement weather or if I were in a hurry, and perhaps due to the fact that their operators had to merge quickly in and out of traffic (no doubt to maintain a tight schedule), there was a considerable amount of "neck-snap"; certainly compared to a conventional diesel bus these things were veritable "hot rods" with fast acceleration often accompanied by equally spirited deceleration.

I've never experienced a Winnipeg winter (and it's not something I'll likely add it to my bucket list) but I'm reasonably well acquainted with those of Montréal. It's a combination of snow and ice with some steep grades thrown in for good measure, a congested urban core and motorists who could show a Boston taxi driver a thing or two.


A Winnipeg winter isn't what it used to be. I remember in the 70s a week of -40+(F or C doesn't matter, d*** cold) going out to start my car and then running inside for 5 min. untill the engine and transmission warmed up. Then bouncing along untill the tires and shocks warmed up. Cars had block heaters, battery warmers & charger & interiour warmers total 1500 watts all night just so she could start in the morning. I worked in Gillam and diesels were just left running all night if they were outside. It ain't like that now, -30C is all we get. Hardly worth plugging in the block heater. Couldn't be global warming, could it?
As for New Flyer they took the guts of the old CanCar, Brill, Mac, Pullman trollies made in the 40s & 50s and put them into new bodies. I don't think they ever got new motors etc.
Man those trollies could fly though.

Hi Allen,

I guess -30°C could be considered an improvement ! I'm convinced what you say is true; we seldom experience the same temperature extremes that we did back in the '60s and '70s, or so it seems.

I was sorry to see the New Flyer trolley buses taken out of service back in the early 1990's. I'm sure it all boiled down to the numbers, but it was the end of an era and I still mourn its passing.


Well, if you want to see new low-floor New Flyer trolley buses, go to Vancouver. They have a few hundred of them purchased over the last decade.

There are also a few hundred New Flyer hybrid buses roaming around Seattle. Most of their sales are diesel buses, though, and they sell thousands of them.

How well do they cope with icing conditions, when there might be difficulties with the trolley being insulated by the ice from the wire?

If there's too much ice on the wires, it can lead to a lot of arcing. The solution is to run buses often enough that they keep the wires free of ice. Of course, it helps if you don't build any freeways so there are a lot of passengers on the buses.

Doesn't refusing to build freeways just slow down both the cars and the buses, leaving the buses at roughly the same disadvantage from stopping at every corner?

Not building freeways eliminates the speed disadvantage of cars. Certainly the bus stops to pick up passengers, and the cars pass it, but then the bus floors it and catches up until the next bus stop. This can go on for miles, you pass the bus, stop at a light, and then the bus passes you, over and over again. In the absence of freeways the car has no advantage. (Speaking from experience).

No, I have driven in Winnipeg, where this is a routine sort of commuting experience. The winters, though, are exceptional even by Canadian standards. I have been in colder places but you have to go a lot further north to find them.

I have relatives in Winnipeg who consider the weather just about perfect - not too hot in summer, brisk and invigorating in winter. It's the Scandinavian blood we have that makes it seem reasonable. That and saunas.

Well, maybe, but is that because the bus driver is willing to floor it and you're not? Or is the bus driver able to floor it due to an exclusive lane, or the bus having a transmitter to manipulate the traffic lights in its favor? It doesn't seem physically plausible that a vehicle which stops at every corner and at traffic lights should make faster progress than one stopping only at red traffic lights, especially if the traffic lights are even partially synchronized for normal traffic.

While I've commented on experiencing that sort of cat-and-mouse with a bus while riding a bicycle, I've never experienced it driving a car on an ordinary street or boulevard, not even in New York City, Newark, or Chicago. So there must be something different about Winnipeg - but what?

The d*** lights arn't synched for the speed limit so you spend a lot of time at lights so the bus can catch up. Some times the bus stop is in a curb lane pocket and gets a priority light so he grts a green light before the rest of the cars. They also now have bus only lanes, Also in winter nobody accelerates fast, even the guys in 4wd trucks with big knobby tires have to slow down. Change lanes too fast and your looking the wrong way.

It's called "passive signal prioritization" if they program the lights to the average speed of a bus rather than the average speed of a car. It pretty much ensures the cars won't go any faster than the buses. If the lights change for the buses, it's active signal prioritization.

Queue jump lanes with advance green lights are also popular ways to speed up the buses compared to the cars. (Popular with the bus passengers, not the car drivers) and bus-only lanes can speed the buses up as witness this picture.

Note that the two buses in the curb lane are carrying more passengers than all the cars in the other two lanes, and carrying them faster.

New York City is not a good comparison because it actually has more miles of freeways than Los Angeles, not that it does the drivers much good. Chicago has some awfully big freeways, too.

Canadian cities don't give as much preference to cars as American cities, and most of them have had freeway revolts over the last half century. Some freeways have been killed in mid-air, halfway through construction. Some major Canadian cities don't have any freeways at all, so whether you drive or take the bus, you are going slowly.

Winnipeg is a mostly freeway-free city, but it didn't spend money on rapid transit, either, so whatever you do, you have to be patient. Vancouver is a mostly freeway-free city too, but it at least has the Skytrain now so you can whiz across it above the level of of all those immobile cars.

Hi Paul,

I don't have any direct experience with trolleybuses in winter, because I've ridden them only in San Francisco. But if I remember right, Moscow uses about 1700 of them, and Minsk uses about 900, so I'd guess that there aren't any big problems.

And as for ride quality, that will depend on how well the suspension system is designed. A trolleybus should ride at least as well as any diesel bus, and maybe better if it uses pneumatic or hydraulic suspension to adjust for load changes.

Probably the biggest advantage of an electric trolleybus system is that they can recover 1/3 or more of the normal energy use, by using regenerative braking, and they can do this without the extra battery weight in a hybrid bus.

I'm glad you mentioned Moscow and Minsk. That puts everything into perspective !

I recall a noticeable difference in ride comfort between the old TTC "Red Rockets" and their replacements. It could very well be due to their more advanced suspensions and/or additional weight. And it comes as no surprise that the older, lighter predecessors were nicknamed "Rockets" given the way they were driven.

In terms of overall comfort, speed and utility, it's hard to beat Montréal's underground Métro which I consider to be one of the finest subway systems in the world.


Hi, Halifax

I agree re Montreal's Metro: it's one of the few recent pieces of Montreal transport infrastructure which was done really well. Montreal's newer (since 1960) roadways and bridges have become infamous for crumbling concrete, etc during the past few years.

I grew up in Dorval and remember taking steam locomotives from Pine Beach to downtown Montreal and riding electric streetcars during the mid-1950s. I just phoned my mom (now 80) who grew up in Verdun. She says that the streetcars worked just fine as far as she can recall.
She remembers that during the winter they had "cleaner cars" that were fitted with a big roller brush to clear the snow from the tracks, and that her brothers would (foolishly) run beside it & get snow blown all over them.

Hi Rick,

In an attempt to make you misty-eyed, a picture of the last street car purchased by the MTC, retired from service (along with all others) on August 31st, 1959, some fifty-two years ago.


Thanks for that, Paul

I will show your photo to my mom, which will no doubt prompt another round of reminiscences.



These still run for the tourists:

but these are the more modern ones, doing the donkey work of hauling large numbers of people every day:

from the city that just won the "Most Liveable City" award, again.

Vancouver or Melbourne ?

Best Hopes for New Orleans one day,


Vancouver got downgraded to only third place in the latest Economist livability ranks because of highway problems.

“recent intermittent closures of the key Malahat highway resulted in a 0.7 percentage point decline in the Canadian city’s overall livability rating.”

However, Vancouverites quickly noted that the Malahat highway is on Vancouver Island, whereas the City of Vancouver is on the mainland, and there is about a 1.5 hour ferry ride between the two. They suggested that the Economist's grasp of B.C. geography is somewhat weak, but the Economist's editors are sticking to their ratings.

I'd say she is the warning from the divinity. "Watch out!" it's saying "all your leaders are being replaced by loony-toon-religious-nut-jobs, don't say I didn't warn you!!!"

Masochists: click here.

OMG. She is a real nutter. LOL. You hurt my brain . Now even scarier what she is saying is believed by many. She is but one of millions of folks that think God punishes with Natural disasters.

She needs to read her Bible a little more.

Is it me, or is Huffington getting much more Tabloid since the buyout (whatever it was called)?

I appreciate the Bachmann article, but the sidebar reads like the Enquirer.. and the comments, as usual, are pretty useless.

Yes, you're right. I refer to it as Puffington now. It was getting that way prior to Ariana's little windfall there. 300 mill$ wasn't it? It's a bit of a comic now, just a clearing house for other peoples work, it seems to me.

For a fascinating interview on the the inroads of conservative theology into American politics, try:

The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare

Author Rachael Tabachnick, once a Southern Baptist, explains alot of the new militancy, the changing idea of rapture, and quite a bit on how GOP candidate Perry has been wooing this religious faction. It's hard to say if this is just politics for Perry, but he certainly appears to be a card carrying member.

Yeah, I have a lot of trouble with how certain folks couple their belief system to pillaging the earth, other countries and other people's personal rights all in the name of their particular caricature of a deity. Lets just call these acts sins.

Solar May Produce Most of World’s Power by 2060, IEA Says

The IEA is still lost in a delusional never-never land. I give this about the same credibility as their oil production predictions. It is based on completely unrealistic assumptions about economic feasibility.

The world in 2060 is going to be a much less cheery place than the IEA is predicting. It will have very little oil, and very little solar power, either. Also, there will be about 9 billion or more people competing for what little is available.

Indirectly solar produces/produced all of our energy except nuclear and geothermal ;-) You just need to extrapolate peak oil. But yes there will be more solar although I doubt it is most as they say since today it is very tiny.

We'll have to see the complete report. They might not be "lost in a delusional never-never land".

As I said in my post upthread, they might just be saying that, there will be little or no FF available by 2060 so, even if we just maintained current levels or renewable energy production, the share that renewables contribute could well be close to 100%.

Now, if they're predicting this large increase in the share generated by renewables without a precipitous drop in FF based energy production, they would be well on their way to La-La land.

Alan from the islands

Chances are near 100% of enery usage will be solar by 2060. And chances are,near 100% of that will be photosytesis.

Perhaps the IEA got their forecast right by accident!

I'm not sure if this is extremely optimistic or extremely pessimistic.

It could be optimistic if they think efficiency will have improved greatly and costs have dropped thus making PV extremely economically practical.

Or it could be very pessimistic if they think that all the other traditional energy sources have become too expensive since the fuel costs will have increased due to depletion.

Or perhaps somewhere in between those two.

I'm guessing Gail is suggesting in a veiled manner that the IEA got it right, the future will be powered by solar, but unlike a smooth transition in which billions of people draw the majority of their energy from huge solar arrays for everything needed in an economically growing economy (per the IEA), the inference by Gail is solar panels (in the year 2060), on a very limited scale are scattered here and there as some still operable units pull enough juice to do small chores in a post collapsed, much lower population world.

If I'm wrong, someone please kick me.

This opinion piece from one of the local newspapers in Jamaica yesterday (Sunday);

Pursuing a more secure energy future for Jamaica

Over the years, many and varied plans at diversifying Jamaica's energy mix (to include renewable energy sources) have been promulgated yet, today, oil remains the primary fuel for electricity generation in Jamaica. The local context dictates that 65-70 per cent of the monthly electricity bill is directly attributed to the cost of fuel.

The Government's National Energy Policy 2009-2030 outlined its plans to diversify the country's energy sources and identified liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the fuel of choice for electricity generation. This move was the official response to reduce the heavily weighted burden on consumers and to also secure a more affordable energy future.

edited to acknowledge the posting of my comment.

I submitted a comment highlighting that, the increase in the price of coal was even greater than increase in the price of oil between July 2006 and July 2008. The comment has yet to be approved by the moderator been posted by the moderator but, even though it's been approved it still smells a little like censorship since the article is off the front page and hence, my comment will be seen by very few people.

I did an Internet search for "historical coal prices 2000 to 2011" which led me to a web site (mongabay.com) that has various commodity price charts for different periods, going as far back as 1980. Very interesting.

What I took away from the charts I looked at is that, virtually everything "follows" the price of oil. As an example the price of coal rose from about US$78 per metric ton in July 2006 to about US$180 per metric ton in July 2008. During that same period Brent crude oil (the "real" world oil benchmark price) only moved from US$87.7 to US$133.9 per barrel. So while the price of oil went up by a little over 50% during the period, the of coal went up by about 130%!

There is very little we can do to reduce our exposure to the vagaries of the international commodity markets as it relates to energy. However there are approaches we can take. I leave it up to the readers to figure it out.

I am a little surprised since this newspaper has been on a crusade to get public opinion on the side of using coal as the primary fuel for electricity production in Jamaica. Anyone who looks at the chart in question must realize that coal cannot be the answer to volatile energy prices but, that flies in the face of this newspaper's agenda. One would have hoped that, in the face of such information, the newspaper would've recanted and re-examined their agenda but, I guess that would be too embarrassing.

As I may have mentioned here before, the Senior Director in the Ministry of Energy and Mining (the Jamaican equivalent of the DOE), charged with formulating the National Energy Policy mentioned in the quote from the article, was in my batch at College. I have been in touch with him and recently sent him a link to the article by Gail, Oil Limits, Recession, and Bumping Against the Growth Ceiling and Eric L. Garza's The US Energy Information Administration's Faulty Peak Oil Analysis. He has responded by inviting me to make a presentation to a group at the ministry. I have accepted his invitation and intend to take a very broad look at energy use by our civilization, past, present and possible futures, with reference to the relationship between energy use and economic activity etc. With any luck I might be able to get some of them to start thinking about alternatives to the scenarios presented by the EIA, IEA and other "happy folks". In the face of the agenda currently being promoted by the newspaper in which the above article appeared, I welcome the opportunity to present that facts as we know them to a group that has a good shot at influencing policy.

Of course I will have to convince them that I am not presenting this because I intend to start a Energy Conservation/Renewable Energy business but, that I have decided to diversify away from my current (non essential) business because of this relatively newfound knowledge.

Any bits of advice or pointers to case studies of small island states (apart from Hawaii) are welcome.

Alan from the islands

Can someone explain what is going on here? I'm sure someone can.

I've heard It's just a radio receiver, that the square things are mylar capacitors, the little black things are diodes, and the tubular black things are electrolytic capacitors. In other versions of this circuit that I have seen, they use ceramic disk capacitors instead of the mylars, but any nonpolarized capacitors will work. Think of an old-fashioned crystal radio without a tuner.

The antenna pulls radio waves out of the air and the nonpolarized capacitors and diodes act as a detector. The tiny amount of current charges up the electrolytic capacitors, which store electricity like a battery.

If he had left the light bulb on it much longer, it would have gone out as the electolytics discharged.

If you don't mind stringing a couple hundred feet of antenna in your backyard, yes, you can charge your cell phone. But the energy used to produce the copper in the antenna wire far exceeds any energy saved by this circuit.

It can have constantly increasing energy up to the point at which the capacitors are charged, because it is not producing its own energy. It's sucking energy that a bunch of powerful radio stations put into the air. In the absence of radio stations, I suppose it could suck energy from the radio waves produced by the sun.

The laws of thermodynamics just say that it can't be more than 100 percent efficient, that's all.

In looking at the circuit, the diodes are also acting as a rectifier to convert the AC detected at the front end to DC that can charge the capacitors.

I think you got it right: it's just a radio-frequency powered capacitor charger.

The location where this was filmed is probably within a mile or two of an AM broadcast station. That's the energy source they are tapping... and 99.999% of it is wasted. A great demonstration of increasing entropy: convert 100 KW of fossil fuel energy into radio frequency electricity, radiate it from an antenna and convert it to space radiation and ground heat!

They do a clever "freeze" from 1:22 to 1:27 of the video, so the bulb appears to run for many seconds.

TANSTAAFL, as you already know!

PT in PA

And in the UK yoy could get hauled up for the theft of power.


I think FCC regs prohibit that sort of thing (and have done for decades) in the USA as well. OTOH except when someone is blabbing about it or taking a large amount of power, it may be virtually impossible to detect. Normal monitoring is usually looking for signals that aren't licensed to be there, rather than signals that are ever so slightly weaker than they should be.

There's a folk-tale here in Dublin, Ireland about some TV transmission engineers responding to customer complaints about weak signals (this was in the city, fairly near the transmitter).
At some point they realised that the signal strength dropped in a fan-pattern on a radial line from the transmitter from a certain point.
At this point there was a house.
It turned out some guy had a large loop of wire in his attic and was using this 'free' energy to boil his kettle.
I think he was arrested and charged with something ... sorry, no sources for this one ..

Thank You.

Here's a soothing lunchtime / breaktime diversion -

The Symphony of Science - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cd36WJ79z4

Best to all,

Thanks, nice.

What's the deal with a bunch of yellow flags with the word gas on them that appeared in my front yard and in the very rear of my back yard last Friday? The flags continue up the street in the yards of neighbors and close to street.

My neighborhood has piped propane gas from a large tank a 1/2 mile away. And a utility easement borders my yard which is near the flags.

Does it appear gas utility is about to get out the big shovels to replace pipe?

Except for 1 guy walking around with a roller wheel, I haven't seen any work crews in area today.

Hard to say exactly, but my guess is that someone is intending to dig in the area, and before they start digging they want to know where the gas line is so they don't hit it.

I'll need to call utility tomorrow to find out the deal. There is also a sewer line in that area, so it could be for that purpose. I don't want to be in area when they're digging around a gas line since I haven't seen any notice on my door about the gas getting turned off.

I called and was told the USG is doing an audit of the gas piping. And the audit would not involve any digging.

EDIT: Added phone call

Renegade flu researcher Henry Niman has long claimed that a particular mutation (D225G or D222G depending on numbering system) is key to understanding how the 1918 flu turned so deadly. Recent research on the same mutation in swine flu suggests he may be correct. He also has said he thinks it may have been perhaps the third time around before the 1918 variant turned deadly (actually jumping to humans in 1916) as it needed both that and one other mutation to enhance transmission of the variant. He sees signs of swine flu repeating that. So perhaps we can see mutant-ninja-swine-flu and bird flu and financial collapse and peak oil all at the same time.

Well in a year where 4 nuclear reactors blow up at the same time who knows what to expect next.

I think disease is the most likely thing to really knock us around before Peak Oil and other natural disasters (except the eruption of a super volcano ;-). The Flu outbreak of 1916 is a real event and we are not going to be able to stop a similar event especially in countries with no pubic health systems. As I type this, some politician somewhere is cutting the US public health system to a skeleton crew. That is the perfect storm imho. Once it strikes (and it will as sure as a clock striking noon -- we just do not know the time right now), people will lash out that Gov't did not prepare for it. Well, you get what you pay for. In fact, every distaster response from here on in should be phrased -- "due to budgetary constraints -- you will have to wait a lot longer for remedy X. "

Pubic health systems are most important, I agree :-) .

I'm getting sick and tired of all the blathering about bird flu and swine flu. My real concern is about the flying pig flu that endangers us all.

Lots of flus and problems, RMG. True. But disease is quickly upon you and packs a big punch, esp. in a dense population. Why do you think these things start so often in Asian countries? The peak oil problem is a long term drain on our civilization I think without sharp punctuated events.

New strains of flu tend to originate in Asia because the extremely large and dense cities there act as incubators for new strains of the disease. China alone has over 170 cities which have populations of more than 1 million people. They are ideal flu factories.

That plus close contact between livestock and huge numbers of people, the backyard-chicken phenomenon?

I recall reading that it is the mixture of waterfowl, pigs and humans, in close proximity, that is the flu broiler in China. The 3 species host the strains and the genes are passed around cooking up new varieties. The cities help the spread but the close packing in small farms is the source.


Pigs fowl and humans packed in together is correct. I was being rhetorical though. LOL. I swear I study disease.

NYC wholesale gasoline prices rose six cents today (relative to the futures contract), despite numerous articles in the media (including one up top) expecting the opposite after Irene. This increase today comes on top of strong gains in wholesale gasoline prices last week, which had increased even faster than the sharp recent rise in gasoline futures prices.

Granted this does not imply that US gasoline demand has suddenly improved recently, and the media may even be right that demand dropped some in the last few days. Prices have been more influenced by supply pressures - especially in the upper Midwest, which has experienced repeated area refinery problems.

US Cash Products-Harbor gasoline up post-Irene

Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:19pm EDT

* Harbor any-August gasoline up in thin, post-Irene trade

* Gulf gasoline retreats after storm

HOUSTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Any-August F2 RBOB
differentials in the New York Harbor surged 6.00 cents per
gallon on Monday with at least one deal done as the region
recovered from Hurricane Irene.

The storm hit New Jersey and New York on Sunday, having
prompted energy infrastructure such as refineries, oil storage
and terminals to shut down or cut back on operations.


Since I take the train to work, I rarely fill up. I gassed up Friday night in the 'burbs before the storm, paying the princely sum of $3.79 a gallon. I was shocked the price was that high, and it brought home the WTI/Brent spread.

Electric powered tankers running on Lithium-Ion batteries or fusion reactors, heralding a new era in cheap affordable mass global shipping rofl.. (remember 1960s prediction of Nuclear power resulting in virtually cost free electricity?) Before 2050, oil will be so damn expensive, that most of the consumer, energy intensive manufacturing produce made abroad will be back in America to offset the massive trade tariff that is peak oil - US OIL DEPENDENCY as a result of this massive relocation of global manufacturing is going to soar, not fall, however much energy efficient domestic road vehicles become. Consumers will still want their gadgets, still want new houses, still want oil.

"We need cheap, abundant, reliable energy...we need it now" - Robert Bryce - author, journalist, public speaker (my editorial - NOT a scientist)

PBS Newshour interviews Bill McKibben and Robert Bryce on the Keystone pipeline.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/newshour_index.html - no video posted yet.


McKibben : "we will fight (the money interests) with our bodies"

McKibben is fighting a hopeless battle. If you pit Climate change versus cheap gas prices in the political arena, cheap gas prices is going to win every time. That is the world we live in.

Still, that is the battle to fight.

'Cheap gas prices' may still be the mantra, but they ring hollow already. People aren't all stupid, even the stupid ones.. even in deep denial, many people know they're just basically being kids hollering for more cake.

As Thoreau said to Emerson after being asked why he was in jail (for refusing to pay taxes to support the MexAmerican War).. he asked back 'Why are you out there?'

"Cheap gas" may be too glib a frame in which to understand it effectively. I took Bryce's argument to be vaguely about economic stability, for which I still think, read: J.O.B.S. IOW it's not enough to frame it as a cheap shot over superfluous trips to superfluous soccer games, although there is that. It's bigger and more central to modern life, and until it's recognized as such, not only will the political arguments fail to get much of anywhere, but they may even backfire and help elect the Rick Perrys and Michelle Bachmanns of the world (as we've discussed to death in the last few days.)

That was quite the interview from what I heard of it earlier. Economic stability (read: jobs) versus environmental abstraction and activism (read: disruption.) Jobs probably win in the public mind - at least when it comes down to real votes, as opposed to cost-free "sure, whatever" survey responses.

Note: "author, journalist, public speaker (not a scientist)" also seems to describe McKibben (it doesn't even say what his real degree is in, nor does his own bio) quite well, so if it's a slight against the one, it's a slight against the other as well.

Note: "author, journalist, public speaker (not a scientist)" also seems to describe McKibben (it doesn't even say what his real degree is in, nor does his own bio) quite well, so if it's a slight against the one, it's a slight against the other as well.

Yeah . . . a debate between two blowhards where neither one has much education or experience in science and engineering. They are both known for having done a lot of writing.

It gets worse still - even if "we" (i.e. the societal "we") get through the science to some kind of semi-consensus someday, that leaves the fraught questions of how (or whether) to respond to whatever said semi-consensus might tell "us". The interview (from what I heard) seemed pretty much to jump straight ahead to that sort of question, which gets "us" down essentially to choosing how many apples we deem to balance how many oranges.

That type of choice lies well outside the domain of science (or even the domain of objective ranking.) Since there's no particular end to subjective argumentation - chacun à son goût, how many permanently unemployed or impoverished persons are worth how many microkelvins of avoided temperature increase - it often gets made is slid into on some principle or other of "least resistance".

Now I agree that the pipeline will be built. But the activists have every reason to protest the thing just like the Tea party did on Health care legislation. But at the end of the day you will count the new jobs on one hand that result from the pipe as it only offsets declines from KSA, mexico and libya. The price of gasoline also will not go down a penny. It is just a profit vehicle for Big Oil since they will keep the price high based on Brent. The poor sheep are so easily fooled by these guys. LOL. Very slick though. Cheap energy. Hardly.

The amount of corporate welfare going into the Keystone XL is massive. Consider how many people will lose rights to their land through eminent domain, and how many more will give easements for fear of going to court over it. Then ask who pays when it spills, taxpayers or TransCanada?

More of that "free market" capitalism.

Yeah at least the landowners should get paid for their land that they are placing at risk with a pipe. The big oil guys know how to work with the Big G while saying they are for little Gubbermint. Kills me.

The amount of corporate welfare going into the Keystone XL is massive. Consider how many people will lose rights to their land through eminent domain, and how many more will give easements for fear of going to court over it.

Well government help certainly . . . but I don't know if it is 'welfare'. To use eminent domain, the government must pay 'just compensation' and I would hope that such compensation is paid for by the builders of the pipeline.

What the pipeline company is looking for is an easement against the property which allows it to put a pipeline under it. Normally the landowner continues to own the property. The right-of-way generally extends 25 feet (or more) on each side of the pipeline, and prohibits the landowner from building anything on it. Normal gardening and agricultural activities are usually allowed.

The landowner must be compensated at a fair market value for the easement. Not the government but the pipeline company must pay all the costs.

Eminent domain is something of a unique American concept, but the concept of easements goes back to British common law in medieval times. There were no roads back then, so if you had to cross someone else's property to get to yours, you could go to court and ask for an easement against his property that gave you the right to walk across it. Pipelines are a similar concept.

"Pipelines are a similar concept."

Excepting that people walking/riding across your property, or roads, rarely explode, or gush black goo all over your nasturtiums:

NTSB Chief: PG&E Pipeline Explosion In 2010 Was Bound To Happen

The fatal explosion last year of a PG&E Corp. (PCG) natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif., was inevitable, due to pipeline flaws and the company's failure to ensure the pipe's safety, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

"It was not a question of if the pipeline would burst, it was a question of when," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said, speaking at a meeting in Washington that was webcast. She cited a "flawed pipeline, flawed operations and flawed oversight."

...Last Sept. 9, PG&E'sSan Bruno pipeline exploded, igniting a fireball that killed eight people, injured 58, destroyed 38 homes and damaged 70 others.

For Ghung and all

"Excepting that people walking/riding across your property, or roads, rarely explode, or gush black goo all over your nasturtiums". Ghung...I'm pretty sure you would agree that there have been a great many more folks killed in their front yards by someone driving down their street than by a pipeline explosion...no?

And seems like a lot of folks don't like pipelines being built. Then a show of hands please: all those folks who would like to see all pipelines transporting hydrocarbons abandoned. And remember even if you don't have NG piped to you house the utility that delivers electricity to you probably does. And also remember that every drop of gasoline you burn in your car this week spent a portion of its life in some p/l. So again, lets see those hands of folks willing to give up the pipelines servicing them along with all the newly proposed ones.

Properly done, pipelines are the safest means of transportation.

Best Hopes for Safe Transportation#


# Trucking is by far the most dangerous means of transporting freight. About 6,000 killed each year.

"Then a show of hands please: all those folks who would like to see all pipelines transporting hydrocarbons abandoned. "

I don't think that's a fair challenge, Rock. We're talking about 'starting to change direction' here, not creating a global moratorium. It's about the process being used in creating this pipeline, it's about saying 'Enough, already.. We've got to make this turn Now, and with luck won't hit that wall of limits up ahead..' And it's about trying to lock in the tar sands and keeping their transportation uneconomic in order to keep that huge source of oil landlocked.. (As the Pacific P/L route is also blocked pretty effectively I hear, by the Tribes)

But telling everyone that this is tantamount to the cutting off of all pipelines is being pretty Hyperbolic.

As it goes, putting in that many more miles, through however many vulnerabilities is just rolling the dice yet again against creating another 'unavoidable devastation'

Time to tighten the belts and make some difficult changes.

Point being, it's classic NIMBYism. All it takes is one gas pipeline blowing up a few houses, one oil pipeline leaking nasty into the neighborhood trout stream, and everyone has a good reason to make sure these things go somewhere else. Everyone's for solar power, until they have to look at the new PV farm down the street or on the neighbor's roof. Gosh, Rock, who wants to live across the highway from a giant refinery ;-/

There were no roads back then, so if you had to cross someone else's property to get to yours, you could go to court and ask for an easement against his property that gave you the right to walk across it.

We solved that without involving courts in Scandinavia.


Interesting, Jedi. I assume that landowners are also protected against liability if someone gets injured (or worse) on their property, something of concern in many areas of the US. I used to hunt a friend's land, with permission, until some guy fell out of a tree and broke his neck. A few days after my buddy had him charged with trespassing, he was served with a big civil suit. It didn't get far, but was a hassle, the lawyers made money, and my friends insurance went up. No more hunting on the now well-posted property..

If you hurt your self on somebody elses property, it is your own darn fault. The whole tradition is based on common sense. If you climb up a spruce, get stuck there, and freeze to death, who else is to blame but your self? I know of no cases where someone have been in curt over such issues.

The land around your own home is an other matter. If the postman (or the burglar in one infamous case) falls and break his legs on the pathway up to your house and it can be proved it was sloppy maintaianance from the owner side who did it, then show us the greens. But then again, your garden is not included in the All Mans Right.

(it doesn't even say what his real degree is in, nor does his own bio)

It appears that Mr. McKibben's bio, and the Wikapedia entry were writen by the same person, or one is a copy of the other. Careful reading of the entries indicate that McKibben never received a degree. The statement,(Immediately after college), only indicates that he went to college, not received a degree of some type. When a wordsmith insinuates a fact without stating it I get very worried about his motives.

"When a wordsmith insinuates a fact without stating it I get very worried about his motives."

Translation: I don't like what Bill McKibben writes.

What do you think his motives are? What is so magical about having a college degree? Hell, there's been plenty of discussion on here whether or not a college degree is worth it.

One can be a scientist without having a degree. To be a scientist means to follow the scientific method.

What is the scientific method ?

The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.

"The steps of the scientific method are to:

Ask a Question
Do Background Research
Construct a Hypothesis
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Communicate Your Results

It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same. "

On the other hand, having a degree does not automatically make one a scientist.

I concur,

having a degree does not automatically make one a scientist.

My one job in life is to hopefully teach that concept to my students and children. Accumulated knowledge is worthless without good scientific reasoning. Most problems are solved by debugging and careful application of the scientific method. Debugging works best when you change one variable at a time. Changing two vars may solve the problem, but you never deconvoluted which var was responsible for the fix.

Of course, science is not always perfect and changing one variable at a time is incredibly hard. So you need to think carefully what else may have changed before you call the editors at a major journal to publish your results. This is one of the things the separates the good from the bad imho.

So many are trained but they are not necessarily great scientists. You need to have a strong gut instinct and know when something isn't right so that you can go back and recontrol for that variable. Science is slow as a result.

Yes, I am well acquainted with the scientific method, by virtue of holding an MS degree, by practice, and by attitude. I've had the attitude pretty much since I was a child.

I always stress to my students the difference between Science the verb and Science the noun. It seems that most people think of science as a "body of knowledge". But it's so much more than that. It's an attitude and an epistemology, an activity and, as you rightly point out, communication.

The epistemology of science is such that when I say I "know" something", I know why I think I know it. :-) I've got evidence. It is modelling the world. Sure, the models need to be tweaked sometimes. They get more and more congruent with the way the world really works - that's pretty much the point. Yes, I believe in Reality. But I also know full well that the map is not the territory. Nor do I believe the territory is completely mappable by the likes of us.

I have known some degree-holders that really didn't seem to have the epistemology or the attitude, which always seemed odd to me. And I've known many non-degree-holders that got it, even if they weren't practicing scientists

When I meet someone, and get talking about deep issues, scientific or otherwise, the least important thing is what degrees they have.

Of utmost importance is to try to explain to the masses the difference between Science and Technology and the relationship of one to the other. Way to often I have to hear what a breakthrough in SCIENCE the I-Phone is, when I explain that an I-Phone was and advance in Cell Phone and Computer Technology, usually I then get to hear something about how wonderful the Scientific discovery of wireless phones in general was, I then start to weep.

I feel your pain. :-(

Says here he's a Harvard grad. But I agree with sgage, springtides and oct, that it's not the degree that matters, but rather what one does. He's a wordsmith, sure, but when it comes to climate change, he's much more than that. He's been a student of the subject for more than 25 years, and well qualified to comment on it. IMO he doesn't get that we can't (or won't) extricate ourselves from the predicament we have created via collective action. But I don't begrudge him trying to use his expertise to elevate the dialogue and make an attempt at amelioration.

"But I don't begrudge him trying to use his expertise to elevate the dialogue and make an attempt at amelioration."

Very nicely put.

"We need cheap, abundant, reliable energy...we need it now"

No, the present economic model and the political structure built around that model has such a "need".

Human beings can function under a different model just fine.

Video has now been posted - 9.30pm CDT.


I find it annoying when the usual buzzwords get thrown about - "Al Gore, Taxation, Jobs, Buying energy from our Friends" etc etc. Designed to appeal to the preconceived notions people have, rather than to inform.

the usual buzzwords

I'm shocked, shocked that there is buzzword tossing going around here.

(Thanks for the link)
Obviously that was not TOD's Jeff Brown, right?

FEMA Teams To Inspect Vermont Yankee

"After the deluge of rain from Irene on Sunday, many Vermonters worried that the safety of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant could be compromised. The plant has the same design as the Fukushima plant in Japan.

Peter Coffey, the deputy director of operations at Vermont Emergency Management, says there's no reason to be concerned."

Vermont Yankee is of a similar design to the Fuskushima plant, but there are differences as well.

The Vermont Yankee plant (the reactor building) is located far above the river. The intake structure is not, but the intake structure was designed for and has weathered many years of high water (similar water levels as seen during/post-Irene). The plant was never in any danger of flooding from this storm.

The Vermont Yankee plant has battery storage and diesel backup generation that is well above the river (neither has been flooded) and it also has an underground link to the Vernon hydro dam that is situated about a 1/4 mile down river. The Hydro dam provides backup power to the nuclear plant but it provides a mechanism for controlling the level of the river.

Although the flooding in the small streams is greater than normal, the flooding in the large rivers (the Connecticut river flows past Vermont Yankee) is not much greater than the levels seen during a typical spring run-off. The typical concern during the spring flows, and with the current high river levels, is debris blocking the intake grates. The plant has reported that this has not been a problem.

If there was any concern, I can assure you that Gov. Peter Shumlin (who is a long time opponent of Vermont Yankee) would not pass up the opportunity to report his concerns. This has not happened.

I was just listening to Gov Shumlin report on his flyover - he is outspoken in his hope that Vermont Yankee's operating license will be allowed to expire in 2012. He did say, though, that the plant was not impacted by the storm.


In case anyone is looking for more hurricane news, Tropical Storm Katia, projected to reach hurricane strength by Thursday, is heading towards Puerto Rico, projected right now to pass near the Bahamas on its way to Florida.

Latest model runs

Interesting - projected to make somewhat of a turn north, although it does look worrying for the East Coast at the moment. It's promising to be an active hurricane season.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is most lines take Katia away from the densely populated US seaboard. Yet even the northern projections for Katia put in on course for Atlantic Canada. Active hurricane seasons are worrisome for residents all along the east coast of North America. These beasts usually make landfall somewhere. Best hopes are for the storms to move over colder waters to lose their punch before they do.

Meteorologists forewarned that this was likely to be an active hurricane season. Already proving to be a very expensive one.

Expect some interesting developments in the world of insurance.

I read that there is always a decent chance the storm to get bumped South a little. It is just too hard to predict what the different fronts will be like in 6 days. I bet the US sees weather from it, but conditions are not right at this point for it to be a mainland hit.

The GOM is like a pond of rocket fuel right now and anything that gets into that place will light up.

Oct, yep, six days is a long time to gauge a storm's path. Prudent to expect much deviation between now and then. There really is no safe route for hurricanes. B/c they are such large storms, they are bound to affect somebody. If they go far south, they intensify and plow into the Caribbean islands and Central America where these cyclonic monsters add insult to economic misery. If they go far north, they can still cause devastation in areas where full-blown hurricanes are rare and trees are laden down with late summer foliage. (Hurricane Juan in 2003 proved that under the right conditions a category 2 hurricane can reach as far north and in as cold of water as Nova Scotia.)

I can somewhat empathize with this week's musings by James Howard Kunstler. The media was so fixated on Irene's flirtation with New York City that when she moved beyond the Big Apple to cause havoc in New England, reporting started to resemble postscript. Mind you, this is nothing new. There is an unwritten hierarchy at work here: the US beltway is priority, California is a close second, the rest of the United States gets honourable mention, other Anglo countries (U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are on the radar, but as far as the mega corporate infotainment world is concerned the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Probably just as well. It is far better to have an emergency charitable response than snooping reporters standing in the way. The Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, and other NGO and private voluntary organizations keep pretty good tabs on what's happening. And thankfully there is a sizable body of people who constitute humanity's better angels and are on the ready to move in and help out wherever the need arises.

It's promising to be an active hurricane season.

If you ever wondered what happens to those ol' hurricanes, I can tell you; they go back out onto the Atlantic, then continue north east, and come to northern Europe; Scandinavia. It is raining here right now, could very well be one of your old used up hurricanes. Irene will come here to in about 2 weeks or so. More rain, as if scandinavian atumn weather was not boring enough.

Jedi, please, please know, from the generosity of our hearts...

... if we could...

we'd be happy to send one of these nice tropical storms in your direction

-- not a rainy left over, but a breezy one fully intact --

whenever our Scandinavian friends feel that they're genuinely missing out.

(Sorry, too hard a temptation to resist. On a positive note, I hope you enjoy the autumn rain. Likely to be more of it this year than the last few.)

My humor detecting circuit was wrongfully installed at birth, so I normally fail torecognice other peoples joking orironic or sarcastic postings here on TOD. Anyhow, this was an atempt to be a littlebit humoristic.

I laughed. I had a humorous reply in return but was worried it would be read as a political comment. Oh well... My reply would have been that is nature's way of distributing wealth.

Nothing wrong Jedi with your humor detecting circuit. And I appreciate the spirit and irony of your original comments. Wanted to add to it;-)

As brit says, hurricane season is perhaps nature's way of redistributing wealth.

Be thankful for the rain that replenishes your hydropower systems. Free energy.

I am more concerned about Lee in GOM this weekend.

Eh? Unless you mean this



If it did develop at the last moment of course that certainly could be a problem.

See Jeff Masters comment here

Several of our best computer models for predicting formation of tropical cyclones, the GFS and ECMWF, are predicting that an upper level pressure interacting with a tropical wave now over the the Western Caribbean could combine to spawn a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico late this week or early next week. The formation location is likely to be off the coast of Louisiana or Texas, but the track of the system is hard to predict at this point.

The just out 8pm NHC advisory keeps the probability (for the next 48 hours at least) at 10%. That doesn't mean to say it won't develop later and it definitely needs watching closely.

Stop the presses!

Highly recommend listening to the link below podcast between Kunstler and Heinberg. The conversation starts with Heinberg's latest book 'The End of Growth', but later progresses to numerous topics related to energy limits, capitol contraction, fracing, etc. The interaction of these two is great!

An interesting point Heinberg brings up is the 3 big problems being faced right now; energy, climate change and confidence in the markets. He says that although the first two listed above are the biggest problems they will occur over years, whereas the confidence game over markets via unsustainable debt loads is probably the one that will get us first and maybe not long from now, and once that confidence is broken things can break down very fast, even in as few as 48 hours.

The podcast is in two parts. This is the first half: http://www.kunstlercast.com/
Scroll down to the yellow colored area.

The 2nd half will be podcast in a week (for free), or you can pay a buck to get both halves now.

"the confidence game over markets via unsustainable debt loads is probably the one that will get us first and maybe not long from now, and once that confidence is broken things can break down very fast, even in as few as 48 hours."

...and Stoneleigh's take is pretty much the same:

We stand on the verge of a precipice. The effects of the first real liquidity crunch for decades will be profound. We are going to see prices fall across the board, but far fewer will be able to afford goods or assets at those lower prices than can currently afford them at today's lofty levels. The social effects of this will be enormous, and will spread to many more countries. The collapse of our credit pyramid will be the driving factor and it will sweep all before it like a hurricane for at least the next several years. Beware.

Gail has been linking debt and peak oil for some time, and considers some options and/or consequences.

I've noticed recently that even politicians have, for the most part, stopped suggesting that there is a reasonable way back to growth and liquidity for global markets. While some still suggest that growth can resume after a period of pain, I find very few convincing arguments that this is possible without massive contraction, if ever. The Piper hasn't been paid in a long, long time.

Wall Street stocks plunge after figures show drop in US consumer confidence

Like a yo-yo on steroids!

The End of Growth is in Kindle store for $9.99. Wow, Amazon reviews show 15 5-star ratings and 0 ratings below 5-star.

Listened to it yesterday. Please do the public service of posting when part no. II is uploaded.

The contraction of the US economy and lifestyle continues....

TOD predicted this trend would occur years ago...smaller houses and more generations living under one roof. Socially and from an energy consumption perspective...this is a good thing. Economically for the US...not so good.

Multigenerational Homes Surge in U.S.


The U.S. is experiencing a surge in the multigenerational households that were once a common feature of American life, and Hispanic and Asian families are driving the trend, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this month. The number of such households, defined as those with three or more generations living under one roof, grew to almost 5.1 million in 2010, a 30 percent increase from 3.9 million in 2000, the data show.

It's been going on for awhile for many people. I have never been able to get a job that could support even a small 400 square foot apartment. I have been living at home, the same home i grew up in my whole life. The only change i made is to finish off half the basement to live in to get out of the tiny kid's room i was living in.

You have seen the future, and it lives with its parents.

This will be ever so more common.

Lump of Labour Fallacy anyone ?

Why Software is Eating the World

From the Article

This week, Hewlett-Packard (where I am on the board) announced that it is exploring jettisoning its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software, where it sees better potential for growth. Meanwhile, Google plans to buy up the cellphone handset maker Motorola Mobility. Both moves surprised the tech world. But both moves are also in line with a trend I've observed, one that makes me optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies, despite the recent turmoil in the stock market.

I think he's having an epiphany

Software is also eating much of the value chain of industries that are widely viewed as primarily existing in the physical world. In today's cars, software runs the engines, controls safety features, entertains passengers, guides drivers to destinations and connects each car to mobile, satellite and GPS networks. The days when a car aficionado could repair his or her own car are long past, due primarily to the high software content. The trend toward hybrid and electric vehicles will only accelerate the software shift—electric cars are completely computer controlled. And the creation of software-powered driverless cars is already under way at Google and the major car companies.

And finally it ends with

That's the big opportunity. I know where I'm putting my money.

While I understand that creating jobs is not his problem, how does he think that the BAU will continue if everyone loses their jobs to software and economy does not grow to accommodate the laid off people.

I had a somewhat heated discussion with a friend a couple of weeks ago about a tertiary economy; I posited that it was doomed to crash, and soon. He feels that it's the developed world's only hope, that a service/debt based economy can exist all on it's own. While I argued that this meme is ultimately self defeating, he just couldn't make the link between the virtual and primary economies, that ultimately, resources must be consumed or recycled into tangible goods. He works as a "statistical sociologist" for banking sector developers. He's gone completly over to the scifi side. I was about to explain that software didn't put food on the table; sunlight,soil, water, fertilizer, diesel fuel and farmers did,, but he got saved by his smartphone :-/

Ah, the Service Economy. We will all make our living doing each others' laundry.

..doing laundry without using commodities I guess ... ;-) I can see people thrashing clothes on rocks. That'll work. Where do I sign up?

"Where do I sign up?"

Down by the river. Ah, the original "stone washed" jeans ;-)

Yep, I see them doing that here. 3rd rock on the right but wait till the flow eases off after the storm.


Humans are bipedal creatures from Earth, and the third most intelligent species on that planet, surpassed only by mice and dolphins. Originally thought to have evolved from proto-apes, humans may in fact be descendants of Golgafrinchan telephone sanitizers, account executives, and marketing analysts who were tricked out of leaving their home planet to arrive on the planet ca. two million BC. These Golgafrinchans apparently displaced the indigenous cavemen as the organic components in the computer designed by Deep Thought.
Interestingly, although the term "humanoid" is applied to many races throughout the galaxy, "humanity" refers specifically to the qualities of humans.

Maybe Doug Adams had it right!

"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."
—Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

He had it right.

He's gone completly over to the scifi side. I was about to explain that software didn't put food on the table; sunlight,soil, water, fertilizer, diesel fuel and farmers did,, but he got saved by his smartphone :-/

Perhaps literally in two ways. Food is a pretty small part of our economy . . . most of the economy is other things. Smartphones being a nice area of growth. Gorilla glass, low-power processors, Li-Ion battery technology, operating systems, apps, games, on-phone advertising, flash memory, displays, image sensor chips, cellular and Wi-Fi chipsets, Cell infrastructure expansion and upgrades, etc.

Our economy is ailing but not dead. And there are still exciting areas of growth. During this stagnant last decade, Apple came from behind to blow past Microsoft, IBM, and even Exxon to become the highest market cap on US public markets.

Some people do over-sell it. But there is a real economy of people writing programs that are then purchased and downloaded by others. That is a relatively low energy input area of the economy that is growing.

"During this stagnant last decade, Apple came from behind to blow past Microsoft, IBM, and even Exxon to become the highest market cap on US public markets."

Can you say text b-u-b-b-l-e? Betcha can!

Some people make money writing/selling software. Apple's market cap numbers are demented, and based more on hardware anyway.

When will people realize that the whole Internet/software/gadget bubble rests at the very tippity-top of the energy pyramid? It is not some sort of stand-alone "industry".

To put it another way, the actual power consumption of the gadgets is very low almost non existant. The power needed to create the gadget itself is a little more significant. Finally the power consumption of the Wireless/Cellular-> Physical Network ->Server Farm and everything else in-between is quite significant. Long ago my I.S. budget did not include electricity usage, huge increases in the data\network infrastructure, coupled with electricity costs ended that.

Anyone have a site with energy consumption of say an average cell phone over 2 years Vs how many times more energy is needed to manufacture it? in BTU's or other equivilants?

I agree that Apple's market cap is really really high and I doubt they will sustain it unless they pull another rabbit out of the hat. But you can't deny that they are hugely successful modern company.

When will people realize that the whole Internet/software/gadget bubble rests at the very tippity-top of the energy pyramid? It is not some sort of stand-alone "industry".

Most of the actual devices they make (iPods, iTouch, iPad, iPhone, etc.) can easily be powered by small solar panel. Clearly the factories that make them and the materials require energy but it is largely electricity that can be provided by coal, nuclear, natural gas, etc. Oil is required for plastics but that is a small piece of the costs. And bunker fuel for shipping is also pretty small. I think globalization for thinks like small high-value electronics will continue on but heavy/bulky/low-value things like steel, food, raw materials, will probably take a hit long before something like the shipping cost for ipods.

Look . . . ipods, ipads, iphones, are growing despite the energy situation. They provide people with a lot of value per buck. It is things like car sales, travel, building construction, etc. that are taking the hit. Even really poor people need smartphones these days. How is a prospective employer going to call if you don't have a phone? You can search the job websites from your smartphone.

speculawyer wrote:

Food is a pretty small part of our economy . . . most of the economy is other things.

That statement may be true for the US and some other nations, but it's not true of the rest of the world. In Egypt, where it's been said that most people live on less than $2 a day, the cost of food represents some 40% of their budget. In the US, there's been a large increase in the cost of food, due in part to the use of corn for fuel and the added costs resulting from increases in the price of oil. The loss of jobs due to the Great Recession and the trend toward lower wages with fewer benefits have likely made it much harder for many people to pay for food as well. Have you purchased a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk lately?

E. Swanson

From a few weeks past
(I just stumbled over it)
One snapshot of the tertiary economy

Forbes speculates about the arrival of Non-Opec Peak Oil. Lots of great data nuggets in here.


I am somewhat surprised by the article. Not its content, but that it appears in Forbes.

The only thing that would surprise me more is if an article endorsing ethanol appeared in Forbes.

Obviously Forbes is tippy toeing to the Post Peak Oil view most share at TOD.

If non OPEC has peaked, how is it possible that world conventional oil production has not peaked? The Forbes staffer doesn't say. Nor does he touch on the implications for economic growth in non OPEC countries.

That would just be too scary.

Non OPEC production fell off a cliff in the second quarter. I am watching what happens in the third quarter before announcing the demise of non OPEC production increases. More about that later.

Ron P.

The drops discussed in the article are simply stunning when you consider it's over one quarter and not one year. I wonder if the author is mistaken.

Not really. The drop, according to both JODI and the EIA was about 700,000 barrels per day or about 1.7 percent of non-OPEC production. We just have to wait and see if it is recovered in the third quarter.

Ron P.

Just a thought: High time ToD goes over to posting the oil price for Brent or Louisiana or TAPIS. WTI is really irrelevant and isn't a functioning oil price at the moment. Time for a change!

SuperG tried, but was not able to find widgets for anything else. At least, not that worked with our platform.

I'm sure he tried this one.

Maybe they don't like the javascript? However you can just get the image as shown below at the same size as the WTI sidebar images.

Brent (1 month)

Brent (1 year)

Exxon, Rosneft tie up in Russian Arctic, U.S.

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp and Rosneft announced a pact to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, in the largest U.S.-Russian deal since President Barack Obama's push to improve ties.

For Exxon, the deal gives the largest U.S. oil major access to substantial reserves in Russia, the world's largest oil producer. For Rosneft, it's about bringing in one of the few global players capable of drilling in the harsh, deep waters of the Arctic.

But the alliance is not without risk, and comes after a patchy history for U.S. oil companies investing in Russia. Moscow has, however, shown greater willingness in the past year to strike deals with foreign players, even if they later fell apart.


Ever watch a poorly financed neighbor start to build their dream castle? They run out of money and leave a mess. With the precarious state of world finances, I'm afraid of the analogy playing out again up north. What a mess it can become.

Any analysis on this from our friends in the oil patch?

This is interesting:

MOSCOW — Exxon Mobil won a coveted prize in the global petroleum industry Tuesday with an agreement to explore for oil in a Russian portion of the Arctic Ocean that is being opened for drilling even as Alaskan waters remain mostly off limits.

The agreement seemed to supersede a similar but failed deal that Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, reached with the British oil giant BP this year — with a few striking differences.

Where BP had planned to swap stock, Exxon, which is based in Texas, agreed to give Rosneft assets elsewhere in the world, including some that Exxon owns in the deepwater zones of the Gulf of Mexico and on land in Texas.

So who got the better end of that deal? Did the Russians trade access to deadly iceberg zone for Texas land and warm waters in the gulf? Does Exxon have great technology that will allow them to easily extract oil from up in that polar area? Won't ice make drilling there extremely difficult? Or is it an ice-free zone? Detachable drilling rig technology?

Enlighten me please.

spec - ExxonMobil doesn't have access to any tech that me and the Russians can't access: the service companies do all the heavy lifting. I imadine it all boiled down to the best trade for the Russians and who had the fattest checkbook.

To deposit into a Swiss bank account :-)


Aren't we glad we did not kill them all off !

A close call BTW.


WTI/Louisiana Sweet Spread now at $25.50

WTI/Louisiana Sweet Price Spread

And to give that some perspective

Yes that's $0.60 5 years ago.

Sure it isn't $6.oo? Still, nice Hockey Stick!

Why do people think this pattern broke out last winter?

Check again. It's not zero-based but a minus 10 based graph...

I suspect that Mid-continent refiners realized that they could get away with a sharply lower price, at least for a while. The most consequential effect of this sharp increase in refining profits for Mid-continent refiners* is that it will probably cause Canada to rapidly move forward with plans to ship their oil west and east from Alberta. In effect, US refiners are providing a $1.5 billion per month incentive** for Canada to ship their oil to China, instead of the US.

*As Undertow as noted, refiner are capturing the WTI/Brent spread as higher refining profits. Consumers are basically not seeing any real benefit from lower WTI prices, regardless of the delusions to the contrary on CNBC.

**60 million barrels per month X $25/barrel = $1.5 billion