Drumbeat: September 10, 2011

Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny

DENVER — This summer, an Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying oil across Montana burst suddenly, soiling the swollen Yellowstone River with an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude just weeks after a company inspection and federal review had found nothing seriously wrong.

And in the Midwest, a 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich., once teeming with swimmers and boaters, remains closed nearly 14 months after an Enbridge Energy pipeline hemorrhaged 843,000 gallons of oil that will cost more than $500 million to clean up.

While investigators have yet to determine the cause of either accident, the spills have drawn attention to oversight of the 167,000-mile system of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscrossing the nation.

Crude Oil Drops Most in a Week as Euro Tumbles on European Debt Crisis

Oil dropped the most in a week in New York as the euro tumbled against the dollar on concern that Greece’s deteriorating debt crisis will lead to a default.

Oil fell 2 percent after Europe’s single currency declined to a six-month low and European bank and sovereign credit risk surged to all-time highs. A plan for jobs growth announced yesterday by President Barack Obama failed to boost confidence in the U.S., the world’s largest economy.

Mexico cuts output, evacuates due to storm Nate

HOUSTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Strengthening Tropical Storm Nate cut Mexican oil production by 178,800 barrels a day and closed two oil exporting ports as Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex started evacuating workers from the Gulf area on Friday.

The oil-exporting ports of Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas were two of five shipping facilities in the Gulf of Mexico closed due to the storm, which according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center could become a hurricane by Sunday.

Commodity imports shows China economy resilient

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China's key commodity imports, including crude oil, copper and iron ore, all climbed in August from the previous month, adding to evidence that demand in world's second-largest economy was still going strong despite the economic turmoil in the West.

The wave of buying of oil and industrial commodities suggests that Chinese companies remain confident about the domestic economy and that they would likely see any price corrections as a rare restocking opportunity -- a move which should offer strong support to commodity prices.

East Texas, Haynesville Production Stable Despite Wildfires

The wildfires plaguing East Texas have not impacted natural gas production volumes in the region, including Haynesville shale play production, but evacuations and fire-related damage have negatively impacted demand.

Flooding Brings New Wrinkle to Fracking Report

The floods in upstate New York are raising new concern about plans for natural gas drilling in New York.

The areas most affected by the disaster happen to sit on the Marcellus Shale, the rich natural gas field that the natural gas industry hopes to open for future drilling using horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the controversial extraction method that is currently under public review in New York.

South Korea Should Raise Electricity Prices, Policy Adviser Says

South Korea’s government should raise electricity prices to reflect higher generation costs and curb excessive demand, a state adviser on energy policy said.

Israeli Ambassador Leaves Cairo After Protest Turns Violent

CAIRO — Israel flew most of its diplomatic staff out of Egypt on Saturday after thousands of protesters the day before tore down a protective wall around the Israeli Embassy, while others defaced the headquarters of the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

...The fundamental reason for the new tension is the ouster of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, who for 30 years had suppressed the objections of the Egyptian public in order to keep the alliance with Israel and the United States the pole star of his foreign policy. In the aftermath of the revolution that ousted him, the Egyptian public is demanding that their government better respond to public opinion, including anger at the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Both the ruling military council and the new crop of politicians aspiring to win jobs in a democratic Egypt are scrambling to comply with the public demands.

In Libya, the peril of being black

Since the uprising against Gaddafi’s 42-year-long rule began in February, many dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans here have feared for their lives. They have been targeted for arrests and killings, they say, because of perceptions that they colluded with the autocratic leader, who is accused of using foreign African mercenaries to mow down his opponents and counted black Libyans among his staunchest supporters.

US still suffering military, political, psychological wounds

Militarizing the campaign on terror was "a strategic blunder," Klare said, because it "undermined our strongest asset, a sense that Osama bin Laden committed an atrocity on unarmed civilians on a large scale. My belief is that if Bush had characterized Osama bin Laden as a criminal and had pursued a legal campaign to isolate and capture him, it would have gained the support of most people in the Islamic world."

Klare said that in 50 years the biggest event of the first decade of the 21st century will not be seen as 9/11 but the transformation of China from an insignificant power to a major rival of the United States.

"9/11 did not determine the course of history," he said. "It won't be viewed as one of the momentous events, like the fall of the Soviet Union."

Alaska lawmakers take testimony on North Slope hiring

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Representatives of Alaska oil companies who back Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed bill to cut oil taxes as a way to spur production got a chance Thursday to tell state senators how they're doing hiring Alaskans for jobs on the North Slope.

The global inflation bomb

The most dangerous aspect of the inflation bomb is its effect on food; many countries like Brazil are switching agricultural land normally used for food supply to produce biofuel. According to a UN survey, food prices skyrocketed 48 percent in 2010, wheat rose to 74 percent, the price of oats 68 percent and corn, coffee and sugar prices are at record highs. Moreover, global warming is causing crop failures worldwide, further impairing the food supply.

Why infrastructure spending won't work: A "progressive" perspective

For mainstream Keynesian Democrats who have not yet become troubled about resource depletion and its rather intimate relationship with the economy, infrastructure spending makes obvious sense. It represents investment in the economy of the future and in this sense will be “self-liquidating” or dividend-paying. But that this belief is not the main motivating factor for infrastructure spending is in itself telling about economic assumptions. The main reason for infrastructure spending, of course, is to create jobs and the much anticipated “multiplier effect.”

Post-tsunami Japan sticking with nuclear power

(AP) MATSUYAMA, Japan — Takashi Yamada would prefer life without the nearby nuclear power plant. But the 66-year-old retired electronics retailer says, "It is also true we all need it."

Host communities such as this seaside city on the island of Shikoku need the jobs and financial subsidies the plants provide. And Japan's $5.5 trillion economy needs the energy.

Pennsylvania nuclear plants operate despite floods

(Reuters) - All three nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River continued to operate at high power, plant operators said on Friday, after the river had flooded several towns in New York and Pennsylvania.

Why are there only 11 electric cars in Iceland?

Another illusion shattered.

I travelled to Iceland hoping to find the real Green Highway. This tiny nation has more clean, geothermal electricity than it knows what to do with and had pledged itself as far back as 1998 to stop burning carbon altogether.

But what did I find? Traffic jams and gas stations. Big, ugly, gas-guzzling SUVs everywhere and, according to a Reykjavik newspaper, exactly 11 electric cars in the entire country. And what’s the main topic in today’s energy discussions? Oil drilling in Iceland’s fishing grounds.

GE Mulls Pullback for Norway Offshore Wind, May Affect 40 Jobs

GE experienced lower-than-expected demand for its sea-based wind turbines, and increased competition in the sector is putting pressure on profits in a segment that’s “at best, twice the cost of an onshore wind project,” Rocker said.

Uruguay Plans Wind Farms Worth $1.3 Billion to Cut Power Costs

Uruguay may build $1.3 billion of wind farms in the next four years after developers said they could provide electricity cheaper than conventional energy sources.

Laos to Start Building Mekong Dam This Year, Testing Neighbors

Laos wants to start construction this year on the $3.8 billion Thai-financed Xayaburi hydropower plant on the Mekong River after changing the design to placate neighboring countries opposed to the project.

Laos completed a review of the dam initiated in April to ease concerns that it would harm rice production and fish catches downstream, said Viraphonh Viravong, director-general of the ministry of energy and mines’ Department of Electricity. Vietnam earlier recommended a 10-year delay for all hydropower projects on the river, which also runs through Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia from its source in China’s Tibetan plateau.

Global warming no hoax to insurance companies

If anyone is going to feel a rise in global temperature — and the destructive weather it causes around the planet — it’s the people who have to pay for the damage.

"Global warming no hoax to insurance companies"

So the global scientific community, the military and the insurance companies are all taking GW seriously. It is just some politicians, entertainers, and oil refiners who are denying its existence. Which of these groups is likely to be more on the spot, I wonder?

This comment at the end of the article is interesting :-

“You can’t buy a house. You can’t drive a car, or start a business without insurance,” Ehnes said. “Insurance is the oxygen that keeps the global economy alive. And our fear is that climate change poses a fundamental threat to the long-term availability and the affordability of insurance.”

In other words, people in high-risk areas are increasingly going to find themselves uninsurable, and likely then have an incentive to move out of those areas if they are willing and able.

Insurance might be important in offsetting risk, but it isn't essential in keeping the global economy alive. We may actually be better off without them.

Insurance = SCAM. They siphon off the money - deny/cap payouts / then raise rates to recapture costs. The biggest PONZI scheme of all.

I get a little tired of hearing that, that and the other thing labeled a "ponzi scheme", which insurance is definitely not, but other than that I agree.

I worked for an insurance company, in the financial wing of a big manufacturing corporation. The department was little more than a cash cow - a typical breakdown was:

Cost to end-user: $1000. Cost to middle-man: $500. Profit margin to insurer (sale price vs expected claims): 50%.

So, essentially, in this niche at least, the buyer would spend $1000 on insurance with an average value of $250.

The way I look at it is, if insurance was even close to being worth its cost, the insurance companies and salesmen wouldn't make enough to make it worth their while. Typically, they make plenty.

Sounds like you are describing most insurance policies as a bad deal...costing way more than they are worth..considering that the insurance industry likely does not allow any 'low-cost-carriers'...it sounds like they all are in an informal price collusion mafia to me...many folks might label that as a scam. Ponzi scheme? Wrong usage of that term I agree.

How about a "pareto scheme"? ;)

Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

...Are humans fairer than pea pods?

as a bad deal...costing way more than they are worth..considering that the insurance industry likely does not allow any 'low-cost-carriers'...it sounds like they all are in an informal price collusion mafia to me...

I disagree. If search for "insurance" or "health care plans" in this list of all industries with profit margins, insurance companies definitely doesn't stand out.

“You can’t buy a house. You can’t drive a car, or start a business without insurance,” Ehnes said

Wrong, depends on your local laws, wrong.

Typically the CONTRACT with the bank one borrows money from wants insurance. But to buy a home, one does not need a bank. I bought my 1st home without a bank, I know it can be done.

Same for starting a business. I know of no state that requires insurance for filing the incorporation papers.

If you are in the insurance business - you'll see insurance as important.

“Insurance is the oxygen that keeps the global economy alive.

Really? Insurance?

Perhaps the "life model" here is wrong. It is an anaerobic life "economy" VS an aerobic life model.

Insurance simply spreads risk. By doing, so it encourages risk taking.

Indeed. And Lloyd's of London, by spreading risk, was able to enable much of the exploration, colonization and, frankly, piracy that helped England become a global empire.

The main point, of my post at least, was that the people with the most money at risk that are most focused on the long term completely understand that AGW is real and something to start making adjustments for.

By the way, the fact that Exxon is now planning long term development in the Arctic indicates that they have also calculated that GW is real and here to stay. So it is not that they don't understand the science themselves. They do, and they are basing their business plans around it. They just want enough of the public to doubt it that they can keep legislators from passing any laws that might get in the way of their making the next buck. This is completely logical for them to do as a corporation, but completely sociopathic, geo-cidal, and criminal for them to be doing as an entity that exists on this earth.

They just want enough of the public to doubt it that they can keep legislators from passing any laws that might get in the way of their making the next buck.

Part of the "new" economic model - Using government power to ensure your profits. And it gets supported by 'the population' via 'being shareholders' and 'demanding a better than average profit'.

Thus firms get larger, capture the government regulatory structure, and become "too big to fail".

the "new" economic model - Using government power to ensure your profits.

You remind me of Schumpeter's famous saying, "everybody [every country] has elites. The important thing is to change them from time to time."

The "too big to fail" banks and "shadow banks" should have been allowed to fail for this reason, if no other.

Insurance simply spreads risk. By doing, so it encourages risk taking.

Which can be both good and bad. Good, because viable (on the average) enterprises won't be stillborn because of excessive fear. Bad, because once you have insurance, you are (usually) a little more likely to disregard risk.

For those who have some background in stochastic processes you will recognize that insurance as a risk-spreading strategy will only work so long as the underlying processes (climate, politics, economics, etc.) are stationary. They have to be at least homogeneous non-stationary (i.e., with discernible trends). All of the above mentioned subsystems are currently non-stationary, probably chaotic. The only subprocess that may be upper bound limited to a deterministic dynamic is the maximum possible extraction rates of fossil fuels. But since they interact non-deterministically with the other subprocesses we will never see the maximum rate. The so-called above ground factors will prevent ever achieving that.

Insurance does no good if the actuarial tables are based on stationary statistics when the very statistical properties are vacillating unpredictably. Risk is assessed as the probability of loss times the cost of such a loss. What number should the insurance companies use for the probability (mean, variance, etc.)? If they keep guessing wrong they could go out of business. Or they could use a worst case scenario approach in which case premiums will go through the roof.

What hath man wrought?

Question Everything

The best and perhaps only insurance that matters seems the very antithesis of a culture/economy we have now...

From above:

And in the Midwest, a 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich., once teeming with swimmers and boaters, remains closed nearly 14 months after an Enbridge Energy pipeline hemorrhaged 843,000 gallons of oil that will cost more than $500 million to clean up.

...Where do the messes go once they're 'cleaned up'? The moon? Mars?

Interesting. For those of us who carry concealed weapons, there's insurance to cover the cost of a civil lawsuit brought on by the survivor, or family of the deceased.

Without coverage, one might hesitate knowing this potential. Hesitation can be deadly, however.

In my view insurance becomes interesting when you decide you can't afford to lose something. In the US if you are 60 years old and have a house and some retirement assets a single car accident can take it all away and you are too old to earn it back. that's why you buy insurance.

If you are young and have income but no assets and want to buy a house or a car, even, you cannot do so without a bank and therefore without insurance.

I don't know if it qualifies as oxygen but it sure greases the chute.

The insurance industry acknowledged global climate change years ago.

Actually, I'm sure other industries did as well. It's just that the insurance industry went public with their understanding of what was happening and what it would mean to their business.

Did they plan on hurricanes for England?

Hurricane Katia races toward U.K.

LONDON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Hurricane Katia raced eastward across the northern Atlantic Ocean Saturday, heading for the British Isles, forecasters said.

Katia is expected to punish the United Kingdom with winds up to 80 miles per hour and heavy rains that are likely to produce flooding in some areas, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its last advisory on the storm.

Article continues here: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/09/10/Hurricane-Katia-races-......

It looks to me as though no major (ex-) hurricane has hit that area since 1961, with the sweetly named 'Debbie.'


On top of all the other strange and extreme weather phenomena these last couple years, at what point can we just admit that the wheels have really come off the whole climate system already?

"windstorm"? What an extremely stupid name. Storm == heavy wind. Or am I missing something here?


In the UK at least, we use rainstorm to describe a big dumping of water from the skies. There does not need to be a lot of wind associated with it. A storm is intended to convey both wind and rain in copious quantities. I have not heard windstorm used much, until recently, but would take it to be wind with no great rain attached to it.


UK Met Office severe weather warning for Monday.


Issued at - 11 Sep 2011, 11:24
Valid from - 12 Sep 2011, 03:00
Valid to - 12 Sep 2011, 23:59

The remains of Hurricane Katia will move eastwards across northern Scotland during Monday, bringing a spell of very windy weather to the UK and also heavy rain to western Scotland. The strongest winds are expected to affect parts of Northern Ireland during the morning, before moving east across central and southern Scotland and into northeast England by evening. However, areas further south will not be immune, with the potential for strong gusts, particularly to the east of high ground.

The public should be prepared for the risk of disruption to transport and of the possibility of damage to trees and structures.

Areas of high winds extend well to the south of the centre but it's not just so much the high winds but the fact that all the leaves are still on the trees - this is not a winter storm...

Insurance helped form our world. In one of its an earliest forms, insurance on sailing ships enabled long and dangerous voyages that changed the earth's society forever.

Are the proponents of global warming saying the earth's temperatures were never this warm? Further, how come the sun's role is never mentioned?

Because the sun is NOT the cause of the observed or projected warming in the last half century.


PS: The paper you linked was a data mining effort without enough good data. And they surmised that, at a minimum, humans are causing 70% to 90% of the observed warming - or all of it.

Because the sun's role is pronounced more in the tropics than the poles, while the greenhouse effect shows up in the poles more than in the tropics.

The warming we are witnessing is in the poles. Ergo, it's greenhouse warming.

Not to mention that the stratosphere is cooling as the troposphere is warming--the opposite would happen if warming were due to stronger sun.

Not to mention that the sun has been getting slightly weaker on average over the last few decades while the earth has been getting warmer.

Not to mention that dozens of major, established scientific bodies around the world have carefully considered all these and many other issues, and they have all come to the same studied conclusion that GW is real and largely or completely caused by humans.

Not to mention that, even if it were largely caused by some other force, known or unknown, that would be even more reason for us to minimize our own contribution to the problem by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gasses, particularly CO2, which has been understood to be a GHG for at least 150 years...

Re: Why infrastructure spending won't work: A "progressive" perspective

Erik Lindberg's article presents a clear challenge to the Keynesian economics which Democrats in Washington tend to follow. The last time the economy fall apart during the Great Depression, there were still large quantities of resources, especially cheap energy, available. As the saying goes: "This time, it's different"...

E. Swanson

The story linked to above, The Global Inflation Bomb: "The most dangerous aspect of the inflation bomb is its effect on food..."

It occurs to me that monies would be better spent jumpstarting more local and sustainable agriculture; education and seed money for those who want to take advantage of rising food prices as more land is devoted to the highly subsidized biofuels industry. It makes more sense than funding restoration and upgrades to infrastructure that is becoming obsolete. Too bad these folks can't think past the next election.

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish grow .....


Teach a man to grow food in the absence of water or a stable climate or a stable society...

Even if the money was spent on funding food production, the amount of money that made it to the production end would be negligible. Most of the money would vanish into useless administrative functions and services. The people on the production end receiving what was left would also have to jump through hoops and waste money before they'd receive a penny of it. For example anything bought using the funds would have to be new rather than second hand, anything built would have to be done using recognised contractors rather than self build, etc.

I know I've tried. Money from the government is useless to anyone trying to do the right thing, I don't even bother to apply for it any more and in France there's plenty of subsidies. With a 50% subsidy, a project ends up costing you more than if you just did it by yourself without the subsidy and you end up doing the opposite of what you wanted to do because of the rules.

Passing money through the government to encourage economic or other activity is a waste of time, better to cut the government out of the loop.

Edit: I came across this interesting website today, which is well worth the read: A Big Little Idea Called Legibility

It covers the inability of the State to achieve its aims and gives a nice example of how it does it:

Here is the recipe:

* Look at a complex and confusing reality, such as the social dynamics of an old city
* Fail to understand all the subtleties of how the complex reality works
* Attribute that failure to the irrationality of what you are looking at, rather than your own limitations
* Come up with an idealized blank-slate vision of what that reality ought to look like
* Argue that the relative simplicity and platonic orderliness of the vision represents rationality
* Use authoritarian power to impose that vision, by demolishing the old reality if necessary
* Watch your rational Utopia fail horribly

Thanks for posting that link. Ribbonfarm is a most interesting place to poke around.

"Investopedia explains Keynesian Economics

A supporter of Keynesian economics believes it is the government's job to smooth out the bumps in business cycles. Intervention would come in the form of government spending and tax breaks in order to stimulate the economy, and government spending cuts and tax hikes in good times, in order to curb inflation."

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/k/keynesianeconomics.asp#ixzz1XYeFt7Bd

Of course, the point is well taken - if one wants to stimulate the economy, what should one spend the money on? If one acknowledges that resources are limited, and energy resources will become more constrained over time, it makes sense to spend the money one has on things that will be useful in the future e.g. rail systems rather than highways, urban farms rather than skyscrapers.

This may be a better explanation of Keynesian Economics :-

"Definition : A school of economic thought founded by the UK economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and developed by his followers. In 1936, at the height of the great depression, Keynes' landmark book The General Theory Of Employment, Interest And Money caused a paradigm shift for economics: it suddenly replaced their emphasis on study of the economic behavior of individuals and companies (microeconomics) to the study of the behavior of the economy as a whole (macroeconomics).

The main plank of his revolutionary theory is the assertion that the aggregate demand created by households, businesses and the government and not the dynamics of free markets is the most important driving force in an economy. This theory further asserts that free markets have no self-balancing mechanisms that lead to full employment. Keynesian economists urge and justify a government's intervention in the economy through public policies that aim to achieve full employment and price stability."


Or, for an even more full explanation, try this :-


Your last reference is quite interesting. I've been trying to read Keynes' book, "The General Theory Of Employment, Interest And Money" for some time now, but find the language and style difficult to grasp. Apparently, Keynes was writing about how to end a depression, one of which was underway as he wrote. The notion that counter cyclical policies, such as deficit spending during recessions offset by increased revenue during good times seemed to be a good approach until the 1970's.

Your reference points to the period from 1979 to 1985 as a watershed in economic thinking, which was a period of instability which followed the Arab/OPEC Oil Embargo and the Iranian Crisis. Both events triggered rounds of "stagflation", that is, recessions with increases in prices. The Fed and the Bank of England attempted to strangle the inflationary spiral with high interest rates, the result being the worst recession since the Great Depression. Another result, at least in the US, was the beginning of a strong upward trend in the National Debit, which began to rise much faster than inflation. HERE's a GRAPH I put together which shows what happened. Few people on the street realize that Reagan was a Keynesian deficit spender.

Of course, your reference makes no mention of the impacts of the oil price shocks of the 1970's, even though those events likely were the cause of the problems. Every business and worker that had any control on the prices or wages they were able to receive simply passed on the higher prices for energy to the next guy downstream. Those who had no influence were pushed aside, with the result being that their consumption was reduced, thus the overall consumption within the US was reduced. The resulting loss of production meant fewer workers were needed, etc. The transfer of wealth out of the US moved consumption overseas to the oil producing nations, which briefly enjoyed the stimulative effects.

That the most influential economist don't admit to the impact of higher oil prices is not surprising, as they also don't admit that there are limits to growth. With a continually growing population in a nominally democratic nation, any limit to economic growth is politically suicidal. So here we are, living within a consumer based economy with a declining possibility of finding the materials to consume...

E. Swanson

I agree most theories fall down in a world of hard limits, where the notion of substitution of one good for another does not hold. After all, the whole concept of "output" somewhat relies on "input" at the front end. Maybe someone out there will write a new theory that takes this into account.

Ecological Economics appears to be a branch that tries to take limits into account.


"Ecological economics exists because a hundred years of disciplinary specialization in scientific inquiry has left us unable to understand or to manage the interactions between the human and environmental components of our world. While none would dispute the insights that disciplinary specialization has brought, many now recognize that it has also turned out to be our Achilles heel. In an interconnected evolving world, reductionist science has pushed out the envelope of knowledge in many different directions, but it has left us bereft of ideas as to how to formulate and solve problems that stem from the interactions between humans and the natural world."

Alternatively, Steady State Economics :-

"Perpetual economic growth is neither possible nor desirable. Growth, especially in wealthy nations, is already causing more problems than it solves."


These ideas, though, would be pretty intolerable to the investment community that relies on perpetual growth to make interest payments possible. Perhaps, one day soon, we will return to an environment that does not recognize interest payments and savings growth.

Great ideas from the academic world. I joined Herman Daly's International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) when it was formed, but could not continue my membership because of lack of funds. The problem is, how to translate all those good ideas into real world actions. Preaching to the choir isn't going to work, since we are all conditioned to expect a brighter future and the conservatives have done a great job of branding such ideas as "socialist" or, worse, "communist". I just learned the other day that the John Birch Society was founded by the last generation of the Koch family. We know how well the present generation of the Koch brothers have succeeded with their promotion of the Tea Party groups, creating a political movement to promote less government meaning lower taxes, less regulation and more military. I don't see where the political motivation for a fundamental economic conversion is going to arise, especially in the US, until things get so bad that some sort of revolution occurs. People are more likely to simply sit back unemployed and watch TV as the house decays and falls down around them...

E. Swanson

There's a certain element of reality to the idea that growth cannot continue. Once available inputs have tapered off and started falling, outputs will necessarily fall, and the ability to pay interest and capital gains will diminish. Many of the people whose assets are, essentially, paper assets (stocks, bonds, money accounts etc) will be wiped out.

There goes the ability of the uber-wealthy to influence political outcomes...one just has to wonder what will fill the gap...

Somehow I don't think the farmers' markets are going to be taking Walmart share certificates once the global supply chain disintegrates.

People seem to be driven by the 'sunk-costs' or 'double-down' effect.

From Death tolls spur pro-war stance, study finds

... Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, people often base their decisions on an informal assessment of the costs and benefits of any choice, Lambert says. The problem, as noted by psychologist Robyn Dawes and others, is that people should be making assessments on the basis of future costs and benefits.

But that’s not what people do.

Instead of looking forward, they look backward, and tend to make decisions in the service of justifying past expenditures that are “sunk” (irretrievable), no matter what they decide to do. That, said Lambert, is the core of the sunk-cost effect, in the sense that people are paying attention to resources that are already spent – and, hence, should be ignored.

The sunk-cost effect occurs across situations, from investing, to expenditure of time, to relationships. In each case, investments can be sunk, “irretrievably no matter what your future decisions are,” he says

It's our nature ... said the scorpion to the frog.

Mark Twain wrote the best description of this phenomena in Tom Sawyer's loss of a marble.

It's our nature ... said the scorpion to the frog.

Here's where our education has gone diasastrouly AWOL on us. The study of human cognitive biases and weaknesses as well as logical falacies should be mandatory. And we should structure our society so that exploitation of such biases is a grave crime. Instead, the only people besides academic pschologists studying such, are those who desire to exploit such cognitive shortcomings to further their own financial and/or political interests. So we are using the latest science about how our minds function, in precisely the wrong way.

Well, the minority may have this particular bit of information about brain physiology and psychology, but the majority are still trying to work out the puzzling details of everyday living as hunter/gatherers...

Enemy, you are quite right that study of logical fallacies in particular is a mandatory part of any MA in psychology. What's more, this is no small part of what attracted me to the discipline in the first place. I would also agree that this is lacking in the rest of education.

However, I can safely assure you that many of us who are working in this field are not using out knowledge in a purely academic context or using it to exploit others. I am a rank amateur, an MFT intern, and I have had five unemployed clients that I helped put back to work in the last year, while I had one marginally employed client who slipped onto general relief.

I have no idea how much money this saved the taxpayers. Obviously, the clients do most of the work themselves, and clinicians only deserve a small share of the credit. But still, those are pretty good odds, and my colleagues in community mental health have similar results. What really shocked me was how easy it was. You can screw up A LOT and guess what? The clients still get better.

The financial gain from this was zero.

We are paid nothing. We're just earning our hours.

Very good comment. In the 70's there was a step function increase in the cost of an essential economic input oil -or more impoirtantly that portion of oil which was imported. The needed adjustment, was that everyone become poorer, by the percentage of GDP accounted by the increase in oil import costs. But, as you state, nobody thought they should share in the haircut, so wage/price dmands drove the inflationary spiral. Of course no one wanted to explain, that on average a haircut was on order (except maybe quite a bit later Jimmy Carter), but clearly the political takeaway message, was LTG are political suicide.

When I get up to go to work I stimulate my car to start. The car then runs on the fuel in the tank. If the economy has an empty tank or the wheels are bogged down with to much drag. no amount of hitting the starter will get it to move.

And yet China is still growing at a torrid pace. While I believe that the end of growth should and must come, I don't know when. And while I believe the multiplier effect may be less because of resource constraints, I don't know how much it has been reduced and neither does the author. I take the point,however, that if we are going to do government spending that it should be targeted in those areas that will decrease the need for future resources, not decrease them. Unfortunately, the administration will focus on "shovel ready" projects like roads and bridges. The campaign should be focused on the need for roads and bridges. We can no longer afford to have roads anywhere and everywhere.

I don't see the article as a clear challenge because I see no quantification in the article. Putting aside the multiplier effect, however, I see government spending as necessary because the private economy is incapable of being the engine to provide jobs. I don't see this changing by simply throwing out Keynesian theory and thinking that the free market will somehow provide if government just gets out of the way.

Further, neither party has reached the intellectual point where it gets the fact that we should be discriminating in the way money is spent. The argument seems to be between no money and lots of money without looking at the long term resource impacts of our expenditures on energy use and ecological impacts.

China did a 25% of GDP stimulus plan. The DOW industrials had to have supported the idea oddly. The most communist/socialist growth in the history of the world. LOL.

You cannot grow without cheap energy which in China has been Coal. So they are finished based on the fact that Coal imports are not really going to be readily obtained at any significant rate of growth.

Meanwhile, we Americans and Europeans who are supposed to consume Chinese "products" are poorer than ever.

Looks ugly to me. But I would not rule out fraud to keep the image up for a while.

China has at least a factor of two to go in energy efficiency so they can double with increasing their energy consumption. China is number one in wind energy they can build out their green sources wind, hydro, etc. That could get them another factor of 1.5 So they can grow 300% to far larger than say the US without increasing use of imported energy. As for customer you are right they will need to grow their internal consumption. That should be possible using the wealth generated by their internal green energy projects.

Energy efficiency is not easy and quick to implement. See the US for the time and scale of your proposed changes. China's salvation of the Global economy is a myth. They are a ticking time bomb of required food imports, water shortage, and environmental degradation. They cannot possibly plan enough for stability in the face of their serious overpopulation problem. Cheap energy is done. Coal imports are finished. Efficiency will not save them; hence we are at a global cross-roads. China is trying to pay themselves to grow -- 25% of GDP. You think that is typical or sustainable? You think they can rise a significant proportion of their population out of poverty with energy efficiency? Nope.


Efficiency will work in the US but not in China?
Green energy wind, pv, hydro, etc will work in the US but not in China?
Stimulus spending will work in the US but not in China?

I do not understand why things work in the US but not in China. What recommendations would you make to the Chinese government?

It is worth noting that the Chinese labor force should peak @ 2015. From that point the # of children will decline the # of elderly will increase.

IMHO, less growth will be needed in the future to maintain social stability.

Soon, China will have to start reducing auto production from 19 million/year (projection 12.4 million sold in USA this year) due to lack of oil. And that will affect the population and economy - however there are about 6 or 7 cars/100 Chinese, Car ownership is not universal like the USA (about 77/100).

Better and more efficient housing may replace the aspiration for a car.

I can see a way forward for the Chinese, but VERY wise choices will be required from today.

Best Hopes for China,


China will eventually stop growing by double digits or close to it, but we've yet to see it happen, and everything looks set for China to overtake the US in economic size within 10 years. They have no overpopulation problem as far as I can see, and they do have cheap energy and are ramping alternatives such as nuclear and wind rapidly.

I don't understand where your 25% comes from. The stimulus package to combat the crisis was nominally 10% of GDP and their public debt (after the package was implemented) was only 17.5%.

Of the package, 38% went to infrastructure, including lots of rail. 5% of the package was more directly geared toward environmental issues, including energy conservation. Other parts were allocated to rural development, family planning and more.


They {China} have no overpopulation problem as far as I can see,...


According to this source, China's population may rise to 1.47B by 2025 and then perhaps very gradually decline...

1950 2000 2015 2025 2050
China 554,760 1,275,133 1,410,217 1,470,787 1,462,058

Source: http://www.photius.com/rankings/world2050_rank.html

Putting aside the demonstration of the population numbers, I am curious why you assess that China's current and future population presents no problems for them, now or in the future.

I have read numerous attestations, some from TOD posters, that claim that water tables are dropping, rivers drying up, desertification, very significant air pollution, and so forth.

I suppose the fact that there have not been famines to-date (at least since the cultural Revolution, and that was caused by horrid politics...) is the proof-support for some that China's population does not present any problems, but can they sustain that population...for how long?

I suspect that those population #s assume increased life expectancy. My knowledge of the Chinese age pyramid would show a greater decrease than that by 2050.

Most Chinese are not aware of the link between cigarettes and cancer (much less heart disease, etc.). A clear public policy choice.

Chinese air pollution is staggering, and will undoubtedly cause many premature deaths - after 30+ years of working in the city. Again, a clear public policy choice.

I suspect that a supplement to the One Child Policy is an unspoken early death policy. After most or all of a working lifetime, chronic diseases will take many in their early and mid-60s - without blame on the Chinese Communist Party. And I can understand the reasoning.

Take Chinese demographics - with an inverted age pyramid - and factor in a modest decline in life expectancy, starting around age 55 and accelerating with age.

China could well see a population decline of over 100 million by 2040. In 2009, the two largest cohorts were 35-39 and 40-44. If they are largely dead by 2035 to 2040, China will be well on the way to a more sustainable population.


Best Hopes for China,



Thanks for the more accurate information.

I agree that the trend will be positive if things play out according to this info...but...that means that the population may decease from ~ 1.3B now to ~ 1.2B by ~2040.

Again, good to see the population trend turn the corner, but I would not say (back to questioning jeppen's statement)that this amount of population for China over this span of years "..is not a problem."

One can postulate a future China whose land and water resources have been ruined by many decades of pollution from too many people making too much stuff...

I feel bad for the future generation in China...I also hate the thought of the U.S. population cresting 400M ~ 2048 and going higher yet from there...and how some economists crow about how this is a great thing that will create more economic growth...my perception of 'the problem' is their perception of 'the solution'.

As I said, I can see a path towards a more sustainable China, with luck and wise choices from here.

One choice is reducing carbon emissions as much as possible as fast as possible.

Another is shifting the emphasis from the private car to subways (44 Chinese cities have plans for at least one subway line - many more lines and a few more cities could be added) and include trams in both Chinese cities with subways and smaller Chinese cities.

And the legal banning of bicycles from major streets can be reversed, step by step.

Instead of shifting water from the south to the north with mega-projects, shift people (the rural > urban migration) instead despite the language issues.

Start paying attention to soil and paving over arable land.

Redouble efforts on efficiency and installing wind & solar PV.

And much, much, more.

Best Hopes,


"And the legal banning of bicycles from major streets can be reversed, step by step."

I was just wondering about that today. As cities like Paris become avidly bicycle centric, will the new elites who jet around to such cities start insisting that the cores of their cities be made bicycle centered, this time to be chic?

It always strikes me that projections 10 or 20 years in the future ignore the political ramifications of the changes taking place in a society. The Chinese government has been able to supress dissent by presenting the possibility to the citizenry that there is a rich future for all. That expectation encourages most of the population to accept environmental degradation and minimal politcal freedom. If the rate of economic growth falls enough to dampen that expectation I would expect China to become a very ugly place.

How ugly did it get in South Korea and Taiwan?

Of course what happened there was that the political situation changed and both countries became more democratic as growth flattened. My assumption is that the Chinese elite are less likely to follow western models than either Korea or Taiwan and that the flattening of growth will occur before there is a large enough middle class to cause a flattening of expectations.

Expectations out-weigh reality.

South Korea and Taiwan had a giant trading partner to snap up all the goods they could produce. Thus maintaining the promise of a better tomorrow for the populace.

China will have to grow internal consumption, which is a much slower process. And don't forget, Chinese government is heavily in debt at the central and local levels. And they are having their own version of a real estate bubble These require continued growth. I think they will go down hard on that issue, but they will go down. Which implies severe overshoot.

I expect that political resistance will rise in a big way when growth flattens out. So far the Chinese central government has ruthlessly crushed protests while giving ground a little at a time. I expect that to continue, although hopefully with less crushing and more yielding. However these things have a way of exploding and/or imploding so the outcome is highly uncertain.

In addition to humanitarian concerns for the Chinese, I don't think we have ever seen a revolution in a nuclear armed country. I consider the likelihood a regional nuclear dukeout to be low but non zero. (I am far more concerned about Pakistan on that score.)

Maybe the fancy new computerized crystal ball from the University of Illinois will help.

In addition to humanitarian concerns for the Chinese, I don't think we have ever seen a revolution in a nuclear armed country.

I seem to remember the Berlin wall crumbling and tanks shooting on the Russian parliament building. But it might have been a dream?

On population matters, readers might like to know about this resource:

Individual countries can be selected from the drop-down box at the bottom. China's (expected) population pyramid for 2050 is very top-heavy.

The numbers are from the UN's "medium" projection, which predicts declining fertility everywhere.

Interesting...by 2100, this information projects the U.S. at ~ 498M, and still increasing at that time by ~ 5M/year (population increase rate declining at that time)

While China is depicted at ~ 980M folks, decreasing at ~ the rate of 20M per year.

498 M for the US assumes a fairly relaxed immigration policy. However, once the economic situation becomes more dire, immigration will be stopped by every country able to do so.

I suppose the fact that there have not been famines to-date (at least since the cultural Revolution, and that was caused by horrid politics...)

Mao made for a good choice if one's goal was to keep a large group of Humans from consuming oil VS people like Lenin who wrote about 20 and 40 HP tractors in agriculture.

The sending of people 'back to the land' was a way of keeping 'industrial agriculture' out of the nation. Claims of the trees being stripped bare of leaves for green manure to attempt to boost yields have been made about the 'great leap forward'. But like taking fossil fuel/fossil water - you are robbing from a stored energy source (the tree's reserves) for your own short-term gain.

Starvation is easy to avoid at the start of using Ammonia fertilizers along with the use of fossil-water - and going from the Mao vision to today allows for the uptick due to 'modern' farming methods. But as noted in the past on TOD (and in the parent via desertification reference) - the desert is claiming what used to be farmland in China.

Stripping trees of leaves, the use of fossil energy and fossil water are not evidence of a sustainable path.

No famines, lately.

Its easy to say that population doesn't matter and food production doesn't matter, and resources don't matter - all you have to do is import what you need!

Works like a charm, until it doesn't.

I am curious why you assess that China's current and future population presents no problems for them, now or in the future.

They are merely a sixth of the global population, and are becoming quite prosperous. They will simply outbuy Africa, India (which has three times higher population density) and Bangladesh (7x) if it comes to food shortages. And frankly, I don't know why we would have any global food shortages.

And frankly, I don't know why we would have any global food shortages.

See Climate Change and the Texas wheat crop (may be no fall planting w/o some rain - not enough moisture to germinate seeds in most fields ATM).

See growing populations in most of the world.

See burning food for fuel.


Concise and accurate - nice! One small clarification:-

See growing populations in most of the world.

According to the UN's 2010 update, nearly all population growth for the rest of the century, over 2.5 billion out of 3 billion, will be in Africa.

Africa is in deep trouble. The rest of the world should be able to handle their increases.

I saw the Russian fires and Pakistan flooding last year and in August of 2010 I wrote that North Africa would go bang very shortly. Four months later it all came undone.

This year we've seen a winter storm that stretched from Maine to New Mexico, with 40 mph winds, -30F temps, and no snow cover to protect the wheat, and this happened the same day a record setting typhoon hit Australia. What happened in North Africa in 2010 is going to recur and it's gotten complex. I can't tell if the shaky new regimes there will tumble into chaos. Looks like the Eurozone is going to go off with a bang - already there are economic refugees fleeing Greece. The brains and capital will make their way to the stable parts (Germany, France, low countries?) and the rest might just catch fire like North Africa did.

This just does not bode well. As grim as TOD can get, this really looks like things that were thought to require a lifetime to unwind might tumble to their low energy state in sixty months instead of sixty years.

The African situation, to me, is improving on so many fronts. North Africa becoming more democratic is good, that Ghadaffi's can't sow chaos in much of Africa is good, that Sudan divided is good, increasing mobile penetration is good, economic growth is good.

I have a hard time seeing how the eurozone woes and possible breakup could result in much more than defaults and recessions.

However, the climate is a cause for worry.

The changes in North Africa were long overdue, but the driver behind it - namely high wheat prices - is going to remain in place. If one has a revolution and things get worse rather than better that is the cause for another revolution. Look at Somalia - that's what happens when things get bad and just stay that way.

jeppen and Alan,

I wish the Chinese people the best...they sure have a lot of folks to sustain, and some significant ways to change, and environmental remediation to undertake.

I wonder if we re-ran the tape, what the Chinese population would be today if they enacted and strictly enforced a two-child policy in 1950? Given the one website I linked to above that claimed the Chines population was ~ 500M in 1950, I imaging that the answer to my question would be that their population would have gone above 500M somewhat do to demographic inertia, then settled back down to a steady-sate (zero-population-growth) situation at ~ 500M people.

To bad we lacked proper foresight and sense of scale and humility/Earth stewardship over half a century ago...come to think of it, I don't claim we (as a whole) have such attitudes yet today...

Foresight? There was in fact a certain amount of panic about population 50 years ago, and large-scale programs to study and address the problem. Distilled from that, we have the current "education for women" policy as about the only thing that works.

There is a very good book on the history of that - "Fatal Misconception, the Struggle to Control World Population" by Connelly. A well-written eye-opener that anyone interested in the subject could benefit from.

China is establishing very large farming operations in Africa. They plan on growing their own.

Considering that Africa is on track to experience mega-famines, the Chinese are going to have fun protecting those crops. It will probably take military intervention and occupation.

As Africa is growing economically, it seems they will have no general problem with famines.

Of the package, 38% went to infrastructure, including lots of rail. 5% of the package was more directly geared toward environmental issues, including energy conservation. Other parts were allocated to rural development, family planning and more.

The contrast with what we did is striking. Seems theres was reasonably well allocated, as few cities for no-one notwithstanding. Ours was squandered on road rebuilding, and tax breaks for the wealthy, etc. Allocation according to political pull, rather than directed towards the longterm satisfaction of societal needs.

It's an interesting discussion isn't it.

I'll admit I don't know too much about China. Who does? They are a communist, authoritarian nation that releases honest info when they want to and lie when they want to. Trying to find out what's happening in China is like trying to figure out how much oil the Saudis have left. Good luck.

But I'm only 30 years old, and twice in my lifetime I've heard this exact story before, and remember both times like it was yesterday. In the late 1980's, everybody thought Japan was going to take over the world. Quite literally everybody. They could do no wrong, their stock market and real estate just kept going up, their products were flooding every market. And then, quite rapidly, it all sort of deflated. They remain a very prosperous nation of course, but they never took over the globe as was predicted.

And then in the late 90's, early 2000's, everybody was talking about the U.S., being at the "end of history." The Soviet Union had failed, American enterprise and military ruled supreme, our technology companies and stock market just kept going up and up, there was seemingly no end to it. And then Sept. 11, Bush, two expensive wars, destructive policies, and Americans are left impoverished, indebted, with houses and SUVs and healthcare they can't pay for and massive unemployment. It's just staggering, really.

So now it's China's turn. It's important, yes, but somehow I can't do anything but yawn this time. I've heard it all before, and won't be fooled again.

Japan didn't "take over" the globe because they are only some 120 million. They'd need almost 3 times the GDP/capita of the US to be top dog, and anyone who expected that were being totally unrealistic.

China, however, has ten times the population of Japan, so they need less than a third of US GDP/capita to have the largest economy. This seems all but inevitable.

You can give all the reasons you want, jeppen.

Look, one thing we can be sure of is that China is an aging society and is right around the corner from a major stabilization and perhaps even decline in population.

This might be good for sustainability and for the world, but it doesn't fit into the narrative of unlimited expansion and growth for China, forever.

I have heard it all before. Sorry, it's not different this time.

Nobody has said China will expand forever. It's easy to play catch-up, but harder to maintain growth the closer to the top you get. So, we can expect them to follow the historical trajectories of Taiwan and South Korea. In 2050, they'll likely have half the US GDP/capita. With 1.4 billion in China and 400 million in the US at that time, China's economy will then be (1.4/0.4)/2 = 175% the size of the US economy.

I'll admit I don't know too much about China. Who does?


Some of the reasons that infrastructure spending won't work are that:

- infrastructure spending is in repairing existing infrastructure, not post-peak, low-energy infrastructur, so the investment will be lost when the structures become obsolete before they earn back the costs,

- the problem that is being addressed is the lack of jobs, but the number of jobs in a mostly service economy is pretty much unrelated to infrastructure. Furthermore, the volume of production of services is only loosely connected to labor inputs, and the demand for services is highly variable and partly driven by social attitudes. The demand for hot yoga studios, nail salons, fresh cookies, lattes, etc, depends mostly on social conventions, rather than utilitarian economics.

- as the standard of living decreases and more of the consumer's wallet is spent on basics, the basics are provided by businesses with high investment per employee and high revenue per employee. In other word, a shift to basics, both in good and services, tends to shift spending to sectors of the economy which use labor very efficiently, reducing the number of jobs in the overall economy.

Merrill – “the problem that is being addressed is the lack of jobs”. Perhaps just a small point but I would say that’s the symptom and not the problem. The problem is the lack of an expanding economy that would lead businesses to expand and hire more folks. I can see how a govt money infusion might generate some momentum for growth but can never be a substitute. Paying folks to expand schools and repair infrastructure might create jobs but it’s a false economic expansion and can’t be sustained. If the desire is simply to get the unemployed earning money and thus have more to spend then forget about the infrastructure repairs etc: just give the money to all the unemployed and let them stay home. Use less monies for materials and just send out more paychecks.

If the solution is to put more spending money into the pockets of the American people this approach would much more efficient. So if this really is a solution folks would spend more, businesses would grow and hire and then the new free market salaries would replace the govt paychecks. Problem solved.

The catch with distributing the money is that we imports a lot of consumer goods, so some of the money would be spent on imports. Some of it would be spent on paying off debt. Not clear how much would the economy would be helped, in total.

The economy probably wouldn't be any better off at the end of the time than at the beginning, either. We would likely have more debt defaults, and the government would be in worse shape financially. The economy would still need stimulus, but there would be no money to do it.

The catch with distributing the money is that we imports a lot of consumer goods, so some of the money would be spent on imports.

Much less than you might think. Well over 70% of the economy is services, and of the goods economy, about 70-80% are produced in the USA. There is always "leakage" from any scheme. This is not a problem.

Some of it would be spent on paying off debt. Not clear how much would the economy would be helped, in total.

Again, there is leakage--but so what?, and again, there's not as much as you might think. Remember, the perfect is the enemy of the good. And if people can pay off debt and improve their credit scores, maybe they'll be able to buy some big ticket items - see below.

The economy probably wouldn't be any better off at the end of the time than at the beginning, either.

I can't see this. The spending of poor people has a multiplier of about 2.5 -- for every $1 million given to them, you get $2.5 million in economic activity. Most of that is in retail (more shop assistants), some in housing (more rental property managers), some in education and health. The money trickles (or rather, flows quickly) up.

We would likely have more debt defaults

If people have jobs, why would they be more likely to default than if they don't?

and the government would be in worse shape financially.

Why? The only reason I can see is that the government refuses to raise taxes to pay for these transfers -- refuses to take money from people who are just sitting on it, and give it to those who will spend it -- raising everyone's incomes in the process, thanks to trickle-up.

The economy would still need stimulus, but there would be no money to do it.

I can't see this either, unless the government is in the grip of some religion that prevents it raising taxes.

To those who feel morally outraged by Rockman's proposal, I'd repeat what Krugman says: Economics is not a morality play.

Incidentally Rockman is here only repeating what more and more economists are saying. Google "universal basic income", which was first proposed by that notorious socialist Milton Friedman.

Again, there is leakage--but so what?

Leakage isn't a (big) technical problem. But, it is a huge psychological/political problem. With our emotional soundbite style politics it is a massive show stopper.

Some of it would be spent on paying off debt. Not clear how much would the economy would be helped, in total.

That is more an issue with the timeframe of the increased consumer spending. If it goes into debt reduction, then the increase in consumption is delayed -likely by several years. That may be good for the longhaul. But, the typical economic intervention assumes that we are in a temporary crisis, which if we can get through, everything will be hunky dory.

I can't see this either, unless the government is in the grip of some religion that prevents it raising taxes.

Exactly! But, that religion has swept the country.

Economics is not a morality play.

But politics is! And so is the economic thinking of 90 plus percent of the public.

As with peak oil, climate change, peak water, overfishing, biofuels, etc -- the technical problem is trivial. It's the politics that's going to kill us.

Jared Diamond's thesis in Collapse, that the societies that survive are the ones that can discard outdated core values, is looking more and more relevant each passing day.

If you regard high oil prices as a significant factor in our economic difficulties, you could point out that much of the stimulus would go to pay energy bills. It is like trying to accelerate a car with the brakes on.

“the problem that is being addressed is the lack of jobs”...

Though if the lack of growth is based upon real resource and energy constraints, pumping money into the system first increases demand, and if supply is inelastic, you just wind up with inflation rather than growth. I think there's enough elasticity for a partial solution, but maybe not more than gets you 1-2% growth (which is what we have had), and sends economists into long rhapsodies of gloom and doom.

Going back to "the problem", you could also say that perhaps we don't have a lack of jobs, perhaps 140 million should be enough. If the number of jobs hinges directly upon the size of our resources, then the imbalance becomes one of population.

Another way of looking at is uses historical numbers, and you could say that the percentage of the population that is employed now is really quite high; the problem is not so much the lack of jobs, but the high number of people who expect to earn wages. Perhaps expectations should be lower.

One could also say that individual wages have been stagnant for many years - households that 30 years ago would have done well with one breadwinner now require two, because wages have not kept up with the costs of supporting a household. Another solution then would be to increase wages, rather than to increase the numbers of jobs.

Rockman -- I was thinking from the presidents's point of view that the lack of jobs is a "problem", since it is a primary indicator that things will not turn out well for the president in the next election.

However, I agree with you that from an economic perspective the lack of jobs is a symptom. It is to the economy as a fever is to a patient. And the president, as a doctor, is looking for a analgesic that will lower the patient's fever.

You are correct that the most efficient analgesic would be to send more money to the unemployed. I would add that payments could be increased to those receiving public assistance of any kind. In addition, programs like reduction of principal and/or interest rates for underwater homeowners seem useful.

The objective would be to get money directly into the hands of the most indigent and profligate members of the populace, since they will spend it and increase demand for all sorts of goods and services, including lattes, nail salons, and hot yoga classes. (Other strategies, such as tax reductions for people making > $250 K/annum will not work, since most of those people will just save it and bid up the price of gold and emerging market ETFs, accomplishing nothing.)

However, just sending out more payments to the indigent and profligate is politically untenable. Therefore, politicians must resort to creating jobs for people ill suited to the private economy, without spending too much money on the stuff they produce. Historically some of the approaches have been to:
- build monuments and
- expand the military.

Examples of monument building might include the pyramids of Egypt, the cathedrals of France, FDR's WPA, NASA and the Apollo Project, and the Boston Big Dig. Of these, the WPA was probably the most useful program in hiring a lot of people at low wages and resulting in a large number of permanent improvements. The people hired didn't need a lot of education or training and the work created demand for simple supplies from the goods producing sector. However, I'd expect the infrastructure projects to more resemble the Big Dig and things like spending on alternative energy to resemble NASA. These create fewer higher paying jobs requring more education and training, and hence are less effective in immediately bringing down unemployment.

Unfortunately, our military is quite expanded already. The main problem there is that the expenditure per boots on the ground is way too high. What we need is a simple task for the military which can be accomplished by large numbers of poorly equipped soldiers. There has been a call for posting soldiers to control the border with Mexico. This has the right characteristics, but has run into political opposition. Instead, perhaps we could do a trial run by controlling the Canadian border first. A division of 15,000 soldiers for every 100 miles of border ought to be good as a start, say 50 divisions or 750,000 active duty personnel. With backups for logistics, supplies, etc., it should employ about a million total. The advantage is that they wouldn't need a lot besides small arms, blanks, sleeping bags, quonset huts, etc., so the cost per soldier would be a lot cheaper than for expeditionary forces to far-flung fronts where actual shooting occurs.

“The objective would be to get money directly into the hands of the most indigent and profligate members of the populace, since they will spend it and increase demand for all sorts of goods and services, including lattes, nail salons, and hot yoga classes.”
Posted by Merrill

Even if this could be done, I expect its effects would be relatively short-lived. Indeed, such money would be quickly spent, but this would just start an increase in consumption, and of the requisite resource and energy inputs. Already tight oil supply would quickly become even tighter, and soon we would see another price-spike to somewhere in the $150 area and a milieu of $5 gas.

And then the overall economy would go “Splat!” in another “08 like round of demand destruction and overall contraction.

Antoinetta III

What you say is true. Aspirin will reduce the fever of the patient, but it has no effect on the underlying disease, and it may even make the disease worse since the function of the fever is to fight the disease.

But the politician's objective is to reduce unemployment and make it through the next election cycle. After that, a better attempt at restructuring the economy may be politically possible. It's the doctor's "take two aspirin and call me in the morning", with the hope that the patient is still alive and possibly recovering due to their own immune system.

Restructuring might entail:
- reducing expectations for material goods and cheap transportation,
- investing in denser settlement with more efficient local transportation,
- improving productivity and eliminating more jobs,
- guaranteeing a minimum income to adults whether working or not.

For an example of the last point (and taking up the premise of an earlier comment that perhaps we don't need such a large work force) we could simply pay each adult weekly and amount equal to 20 times the minumum hourly wage. This is currently $145 a week. In addition, we could provide each person with catastrophic medical insurance. This is probably barely enough for an adult to live on in a low-expense area of the country, and it is enough for 2 or 3 adults to barely get along on when pooled together in many other areas of the country.

So if one wants to live a very non-materialistic life and write the Great American Novel, one can do so, possibly by contributing one's income, wit and sparkling personality to a family or communal household and by picking up the occasional odd job.

On the other hand, those interested in a richer material life, having and providing for children, and saving for a richer retirement would have to find work.

The $145 per adult per week would be paid for by eliminating taxes for SSA, SSI, unemployment insurance and disability insurance (since those programs are now redundant) and replacing them with an ad valorem tax on businesses, both goods and services. Businesses would also benefit from the removal of the minimum wage, and they would likely be able to reduce their salaries by $145 per week.

Interestingly, you're last suggestion of "guaranteeing a minimum income to adults whether working or not" might have a similar societal role as the old monastic system.

Back in the pious old days, one's sickly or unemployable sons might be most humanely removed from a demanding society by being shipped off to a monastery, and any aging unmarried or shiftless daughter was likely to be recommended to a convent. These were generally reasonably self-sufficient, and served as conveniently flexible repositories for excess population to live out their days, with very low expectations and at a very low material cost to society.

interestingly enough some very basic but important science was done by some monks due to the time they had on hand.

The Cistercians, as portrayed by Burke in "Connections" were perhaps the most innovative and industrious...arguably taking a big slice of the credit for leading Europe into the Renaissance.

You also have to remember they did have access to the pre-dark ages & middle ages works as well as the Arabic of the science revolution in the 1000ce-1100ce empire that encouraged scientific knowledge. sure it was for recycling paper for prayer books but i bet you they still read them.

A guarantee of a minimum living would spur progress in both the arts and sciences.

People who are primarily motivated by intellectual pursuits would be able to work on their writing, art, etc. without being distracted by the need to make a living. Historically many of the philosophers, writers, artists and so forth have lived on either fairly menial occupations or on modest inheritances and endowments.

Entreprenuers would be relieved of the fear that failure would be catastrophic. Many of our entrepreneurs today come from well-off families because the knowledge that they can fall back on family resources makes them psychologically able to single-mindedly pursue their dream.

If the solution is to put more spending money into the pockets of the American people this approach would much more efficient.

It would, but we have a very strong meme, about working for what you get (even if by many honoured in the breach), and it just won't fly in our current political environment. But, I am as distressed as you, about the misallocation of capital spent on stimulus. We have planty of need for capital expenditure in things like energy infrastructure (both of the creation and consumption sides), but except around the edges, this is pretty much block politically.

It is partially true, that the lessor-depression, is largely driven by a dearth of demand. Those businesses won't hire, because they fear they couldn't sell the extra product. I doubt hiring tax subsidies will do the trick either, even if I can hire Johnny for free -because uncle Sam will pay his salary, I won't if I fear that I will be stuck with a warehouse full of the widgets he would produce for me.

the Keynesian economics which Democrats in Washington tend to follow.

I say this assumption that a Keynesian model is being followed is incorrect.

But those that think it is, do show how spending is cut back "when things improve" - which is supposed to be part of the idea of 'leveling' economic activity.

This is truly maddening to me. The military prepares to face climate related conflicts with less resources available due to peak oil, the insurance companies are already factoring the volatility in to their rates, but a small, ignorant slice of our society has bought the 'hoax' propaganda.

There will come a day, perhaps not too far off, when big oil will not be able to deliver what people have come to expect. When that day arrives, crippled by a rotten, complicit media, what nonsense will be pushed in place of objective reality, and who will take the blame.

The United States, deluded to the point of near helplessness, staggers a bit closer to civil war with each passing day. When we get to the point where 30% of the populace believes the end times myth is true, then we'll have a political disaster here from which there will be no recovery.

Only 30% believing in the end times myth is a huge improvement over a generation or two back.


Yours is a bleak prediction.

I predict that we'll keep on muddling along. We've increased wind on the grid from 1.8% to 3% in less than two years. Solar will soon start being a major player. Technology is improving (silicon panels with a one year energy payback just announced) and prices are going to continue to fall.

As extreme weather keeps hitting us and fossil fuel prices go up we will double and redouble and then redouble again our renewable installations and we'll increase the percentage of EVs in our fleets.

Switching from fossil fuel to renewables is an automatic decision if driven by economics.

The deniers, already a very small percentage of Americans, will fade away except for a few members of The Flat Earth Society ver. 2.0. Republican Congress members will have no memory of ever denying the warming climate or opposing renewables.


I do hold the concern that we will move too slowly and awaken the methane monster, but it seems like we still have adequate time to act....

The deniers, already a very small percentage of Americans,

What United States of America do you live in ?

48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.



48% are befuddled, take away the media backing for that concept and you'll find a small kernel of "true believers". These are the UFO hotline callers, the hardcore ideologues who believe that the end times are upon us, and other random bad actors. The media has fostered this view because it worked for various corporate interests. The "uncertainty about climate" is as grassroots as the Tea Party - that is to say it's a big ol' sock puppet animated by greed and an utter disregard for the next generation.

If our leaders had said in 1971, when production peaked locally, that we must turn and face peak oil like the deadly peril it is, we'd all be riding electric scooters charged with solar cells. We made the convenient, BAU choice, and now we pay the price.

If our leaders had said in 1971, when production peaked locally, that we must turn and face peak oil like the deadly peril it is,

Erm, Jimmy Carter said exactly that just a few years later and the US public voted him out and Reagan in. Some say his peak oil talk killed his chance of a second term. Although personally I wonder what would have happened had the Iran hostage crisis turned out in his favour.

And after Reagan was elected, the Alaskan oil, the North Sea, Saudi Arabia pumping out more, Cantarell, and other oil caused the oil crash of the 80's. This created some illusion about how Reagan's economic policies were so awesome when much of the economics as a flood of cheap oil and massive government debt build-up.

We had a 2 decade long stay of execution. So people are having a hard time admitting that oil actually is a problem. Just drill, baby, drill and all will be good again. Just ask Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and now Romney too.

Best not to read "less concerned that they were" with denial.

Another Gallup poll not long ago found that only 10% of all Americans believed that man-made global climate change would never happen or would not hit during their lifetimes. That poll, if correct, says that true deniers are less than 10%.

That the number of people who are not as concerned should not be surprising. People have been very distracted by the economy and we get a lot more worried about the growling dog in our pathway at the moment than we do about the tiger that might show up there some day.

Watching the news this summer, I'd expect if that poll is taken again the numbers would turn the other way.

All of this extreme weather is really kicking butts and getting attention. I see something in the news quite often about climate change and big weather events.

I see many news outlets dropping the 'on the other hand' stuff by including the denier talking points when presenting climate change news. They are simply talking about climate change as a fact at hand.

And now the news is coming out that the Arctic continues to melt. The "it might be recovering" distraction is dead.

As extreme weather keeps hitting us and fossil fuel prices go up we will double and redouble and then redouble again our renewable installations and we'll increase the percentage of EVs in our fleets.

I wish the Net Hubbert curve stretched out slowly to allow such gradual changes to occur. But it doesn't. I wish the Net Hubbert curve is false... but I can wish for all that I want, just like the way you are now wishing for things ;)

I agree on this point. What happened in North Africa might just happen here - the discontinuity. If it goes wrong and we get a warlike right wing theocracy we'll get our carbon footprint reduction, mostly because they'll plunge the whole world into chaos. If we go another way we could waste another generation trying to restart grow against a growing headwind of liquid fuel availability problems.

Alan's transit oriented development is the one thing that works operationally, but there are too many political losers for us to do it now. Those political losers will have to fail in some other way before the path is cleared, and we'll have burned valuable remaining resources on BAU during that time.

Or we will accelerate our installation of renewables as fossil fuel prices rise and renewable generation costs drop.

And we will start transitioning away from ICEVs to EVs as we realize that between 100 mile range EVs or Volt-type PHEVs could cover almost 100% of all drivers. Let pump prices rise to $5 a gallon and EVs/PHEVs/supper efficient ICEVs are going to have long waiting lists. And then, within 2-4 years, our assembly lines will have switched to electrics and 50+ MPG vehicles.

North Africa resulted after decades of suppression and no clear alternative to revolt.

We will experience a (possibly rapid) rise in fossil fuel prices, but we have some elasticity in demand which will reduce some of the sting. And we have alternatives which are ours for the installation/purchase. We have alternatives to revolt.

Bob, good luck to you in your Belief on maintaining BAU. As much as I wish for EVs and Renewable Power for all[*], personally, I wouldn't base my little life's little earnings / savings around a BAU scenario. I'm a non-believer - including not believing in the Magic of the Free Market.

[*] It might not be such a good idea for all to be driving EVs and Running their air conditioners using Renewable Power. We will still have to face Peak Dilithium Crystals sometime in the future.

When I first read that Pemex wasn't evacuating any personnel a few days ago, I thought that could be a big mistake. Hopefully, they will find these people.

Mexico oil firm hunts for 10 lift-boat evacuees

Petroleos Mexicanos said it has two ships searching in the area where the workers, employed by Houston's Geokinetics Inc., called for help Thursday afternoon after leaving a vessel known as a lift boat, the Trinity II, on an enclosed life raft.

"We're deeply concerned about the incident in the Gulf of Mexico involving our employees and others who had to abandon a disabled lift boat due to conditions brought about by Tropical Storm Nate," said Geokinetics spokeswoman Brenda Taquino. "The safety and rescue of the employees, everyone on the life raft, is a top priority."

gog - Not trying to offer Pemex a pass but given how fast the storm blew up they might not have had much option. I've worked on many lift boats and I would much rather be in a lifeboat than on a liftboat in bad weather. They are very unstable. Typically no choper pad on liftboats so airlift was much of an option even if they weren't already grounded. It must have gotten bad very fast if there was another vessel insight and they didn't try a transfer. OTOH ship to ship transfers can be rather dangerous in rough seas. The liftboat was US so the capsule would be Coast Guard certified. As long no one opened a hatch it can't sink. You'll get the heck beat out of you in rough seas but you can secure yourself with a 4-point harness...still a horrible experience though. Not sure about "difficult to see" comment. The capsules are day-glow orange. But it is small...about 20'.

Asian oil markets beckon if U.S. kills Keystone

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs says American politicians have a choice: Take Canada’s oil, or watch it go elsewhere.

“If the Americans choose to decline the promise that Keystone XL represents, there are many other countries and many other markets for our oil,” John Baird told a Chamber of Commerce crowd made up largely of oil and gas executives in Calgary on Friday.

Canada's government is just stating out loud what it has been hinting at all along. If the US doesn't approve the pipelines to take Canadian oil to US markets, Canada will build pipelines to sell it to Asia. If the US doesn't want it, there are other countries who do.

As I've been saying for some time, Canadian politicians have been getting severely irritated with having to put up with US political and media criticism about the oil sands. (Most of Canada's oil production is now from the oil sands because its conventional oil reserves are almost exhausted). There can be consequences for that kind of badmouthing, e.g. Americans having to walk to work or take (nonexistent) public transit instead of driving.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that, I walked or took wind-powered electric trains to work for years in Canada, but it is a huge conceptual leap for many Americans.)

Here I am between the Asian market and the tar sands. Why would I allow a pipeline to be built through my back yard? (see first article on pipeline risks!)

However, how are we going to tell the Chinese "thanks for investing billions of dollars, but we're not going to give you access"?

Rationally we should keep it & burn it ourselves.

The First Nation is strongly against the pipeline coming across there from what I have read. In interesting tangent -->

First Nation promises to shut off Winnipeg water supply unless they get a better deal

Myers said if negotiations fail to procure $124 million per year from Winnipeg, the community is prepared to load rocks into Ash Rapids and stop the flow into Shoal Lake. With a listed population of 568, that means each member of the community would receive more than $218,000 annually if it was divided up evenly.

If Winnipeg continued to draw at the current rate of 52 million gallons per day, he estimated it would be only three months before the entire lake was drained and “there would be no more water coming down the pipe.”

Gog – “The First Nation is strongly against the pipeline”. Actually from your post it sounds like just the opposite. The First Nation is all for mining the tar sands, using their water resources to do so and then pipelining it out across their land. They just want a bigger piece of the pie. Kinda like the rest of us in the oil patch: nothing personal…just business. For $124 million/year...let the good times roll.

re: The First Nation is strongly against the pipeline coming across there from what I have read. In interesting tangent -->

This so works both ways.

I flew for a few seasons in Manitoba and it wasn't unusual to have 'med-evacs' Friday nights so parents would get a free ride to Winnipeg for a weekend. I cannot count the plane loads of pampers, chips, and meat I have flown into first nation villages for the return trip home, on the tax payer nickel.

When the Goose gets killed the cheap eggs are lost for all folks. If the water shuts off then block the road to town. As the wealth declines for all of us, the opportunity for extortion disappears, as well.

Oh well, when the whole thing collapses we can all live the 'old ways'. Now, that'll be a fun way to spend a Manitoba winter.

The thing about these protests is always money. Like Churchill said, (something like), "Madam, now we know what you are, we just have to negotiate the price".

re: First Nation promises to shut off Winnipeg water supply unless they get a better deal

Winnipeg is approximately in the geographic center of North America. These First Nations people are over 1000 miles from the oil sands, in the opposite direction from the proposed pipeline to the West Coast. The proposed pipeline affects their aboriginal rights how?

But apparently they want $124 million and they're going to keep dropping rocks into Winnipeg's water supply until they get it.

Winnipeg has gotten it's water from shoal lake in Ontario, over a 100 miles from the city. The aquaduct is gravity fed to the city. This was one of the engineering marvels of 100 years ago. Still has a railway along side for access, no road. It would be hard to block off the falls into the lake without large equipment for more than a few hours as it would flood rather quickly.

The native community on the of the side lake have routinely piled garbage on top of the ice near the entrance to the aqueduct every winter in order to bring the lack of services on the reserve to the attention of Politians. Things like no running water, limited electrical, old inadequate housing etc. The reserve is relatively isolated and has no industrial base so all they can do is hunt & fish 365 days of the year. Sort of what post peak oil might be like except they have trucks, snow machines, outboard motors, chain saws.... well maybe not. They still get free healthcare and schooling and any income they make on the reserve is income tax free and are sales-tax exempt as well. But it's a hard life with a lot of them going to jail, where they get free food and entertainment as well.

So the population is 568?

Seems like it would be easier, quicker and cheaper to arrest the lot of them than pay $124m a year.

Extortion is an ugly word, but justified.

seems like the average run of the mill bankers too me

Rationally, you'd just let the Boreal forests absorb all the CO2 emissions. But then, your rationality is your convenience.

I know that there is a lot of debate and uncertainty regarding the extent to which the tar sands are worse than conventional oil. If we stipulate, however, like Hanson, that full exploitation of the tar sands means that is game over in the battle to mitigate global warming, what is one to do?

It is kind of like, why should I bike to work or walk anywhere other than for my personal health? Why should I lift a finger to do anything. After all. Just look out the window. Look at all the cars go by. My personal decisions can't stop that flood. If I don't use the gas, someone else will. On and on.

McKibben has decided it is time to take a stand against what is wrong even if Canada will figure out a way to sell it elsewhere. Maybe it is kind of like consuming blood diamonds or buying goods produced by slave labor or maybe it's like race relations in the 50s and 60s. Someone has to take a stand even if there is no guarantee of success.

Why should I lift a finger to do anything.

Your choice. You have to live with yourself either way.

Someone has to take a stand even if there is no guarantee of success.

The only kind of leadership is leadership by example. It takes courage.

And remember - the first guy that gets up and shows the way is just a random nutcase. The second person, that follows him -- that's the leader.

Global Warming is a global problem, and so we all need to be supporting our brothers and sisters in other countries as we work together to dramatically reduce our use of fossil fuels. As Tar Sands Action protesters, we have been supported by (some) Canadians. Clearly the Global Warming battle does not end with the Keystone XL pipeline. If the United States does end up denying its permit, then we will happily return the favor and provide support to Canadians as they work to shut down the Alberta Tar Sands operations. Truly, we will support them even if that antecedent doesn't hold; that case would just mean that we would have more work to do, rather than less.

We need to break our addiction to fossil fuels everywhere. That includes—but does not end—at home.

I agree that Global Warming is a problem for all people everywhere, and a stand needs to be taken to limit the use of fossil fuels, however my quibble with the Keystone protesters is: you are still supporting the wars throughout the world for oil. You still support the MIC and when a shortage of fuel becomes real and personal you will probably support more military action to obtain cheap gas. The Keystone pipeline is in MVHO a sideshow which will accomplish nothing regardless of which side of the debate "wins".

Well, I personally do not support any of the current wars that the United States prosecutes; more than that, I actively protest these wars. From talking to my fellow Tar Sands Action protesters in jail, many of them also see the correlation between United States imperialism and fossil fuel consumption, and for that reason as well as others also take a strong antiwar stance. You may have meant the broader United States population, though, in which case you are certainly, and sadly, correct. When they talk about fighting wars for "national security", what they really mean is "economic growth".

We certainly do need to continually invite them to participate in a different sort of society.

I am fond of pointing out to people that American coal-burning power plants emit over 50 times as much greenhouse gases as Canadian oil sands plants, and Chinese coal-burning power plants emit even more than American ones. Those two countries account for nearly half the world's GHG emissions.

Canada only emits 2% of the world's GHGs, and Canadian oil sands plants are not even the biggest GHG emitters in Canada - Canadian power plants are.

There are hundreds of coal-burning power plants scattered everywhere across the landscape in both the US and China - about 600 in the US and 2000 in China - but the protesters seem to be blissfully unaware of where their electricity comes from. If they were, they would be a lot less enthusiastic about electric cars.

Perhaps the "protesters" realize that their desired electric cars will run just fine off electricity produce by sun and wind.

In fact, bringing a lot of EVs on line makes it easier to incorporate solar and wind inputs to the grid.

Cars spend 90% of their time parked and need to be charged only 1.5 hours per day on average. That means parked, plugged-in cars are a perfect place to dump excess power, allowing us to install more variable output power than we otherwise could without building storage.

An EV driven so rarely that it will charge in 1.5hrs/day doesn't seem like it would save enough gas to be worth the investment. Nor does it represent a very big dispatch-able load.

That's based on the Nissan Leaf charging off a 220vac outlet and using its own onboard charger. And based on an average mileage of 33 miles per day. (Obviously some will drive more, some less.)

I'm not sure why you think it not a potentially large dispatchable load. Later on we're likely to see millions of EVs waiting for the smart grid to tell them to charge up or stop charging.

They can be brought on in large numbers if there is a strong wind blowing through or charged in sequence/groups if supply is lower. Some people with short commutes won't need to charge more than once or twice a week and can volunteer (in order to get cheaper electricity) to allow the utility to use, say, the upper 50 miles of charge as a highly discretionary load. During times of short supply they can be let drift down to a 50 mile minimum and then fully charged when supplies return.

An EV selling for $26,000 driven an average of 33 miles per day on $0.12/kWh electricity will cost about the same as a $20,000 30MPG ICEV - payments and operating expense - for the first five years. Then, after the loan is paid off, the EV is a few hundreds dollars a month less to drive.

I'm not sure why you think it not a potentially large dispatchable load. Later on we're likely to see millions of EVs waiting for the smart grid to tell them to charge up or stop charging.

Because Americans (and Icelanders too) will want to recharge their very range limited EVs ASAP. This very human tendency will stress the grid as never before.

You just said that they could be "pre-warmed of cooled" just before use. That does not sound like ":waiting on the smart grid".

It will cost more to bury and add rechargers at every parking spot than to build a superb urban rail system that will use *FAR* less electricity than BAU with EVs.

Minimal Hopes for an ICE > EV world,


The goal should be the virtual elimination of conventional autos from cities. Maximize biking,walking, with a few golf cart like NEVs to fill in the gaps where it is not feasible to walk, bike, take buses or light rail. Restrict conventional autos, whether EV or IGCE to areas outside the city that are not served by buses or rail.

We need to abandon the idea of simply plugging in (so to speak) EVs for IGCEs with no change in infrastructure or town/city configuration and zoning.

Getting conventional autos out of some cities makes sense. At least out of the congested areas. Improving bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transportation are great things to do in the most crowded areas.

Light rail for commuting from the 'burbs makes sense.

Try to outlaw personal vehicles in most places and you're going to lose that race right out of the start blocks.

Because Americans (and Icelanders too) will want to recharge their very range limited EVs ASAP.

I don't think so. People will want their car charged to a minimum level when they get in. Plugging in your car when you get home with the assurance that it will be charged up to your personal minimal level the next day will be good enough. Especially if you get cheaper electricity for being flexible.

You just said that they could be "pre-warmed of cooled" just before use. That does not sound like ":waiting on the smart grid".

The large draw for an EV is charging. Cabin/battery heating is relatively small draw.

It will cost more to bury and add rechargers at every parking spot than to build a superb urban rail system that will use *FAR* less electricity than BAU with EVs.

That's possibly true, but it's unlikely to play out that way. People love the freedom and convenience of their cars. There's a huge difference between putting two toddlers and Grandpa with his bum knee in the car and going to the store as opposed to walking everyone out to the train stop.

And since EVs/PHEVs should soon be roughly the same price to own and operate as ICEVs they will make the change one by one. EVs and PHEVs are going to save households money making personal cars more affordable than they are now.

A major project like urban rail takes years to get through the planning and permitting process, buying a new car takes minutes.

Urban rail and high speed rail will happen because it will be cheaper than building new highways and enlarging airports. I expect that by the time we see any significant amount of new rail in place we be seeing a lot of 'electric driving'.

An "EV First" strategy means both social collapse and out of control carbon emissions.

They cannot ramp up soon enough. Only 10% of new cars by most aggressive projection by Renault-Nissan.


They could if they needed to. Unfortunately, peak oil has been ineffective to date in delivering a price necessary to jumpstart this particular change. Give it time, this generation, maybe the next, we'll get a price which allows alternative transportation to gain more than the toehold it has to date.

The supply chain is too long and lead times too great to speed up the ramp up of EV's. 10% max by 2020.


It takes less than two years to build a battery factory. We've just built some.

It takes less than two years to bring new lithium extraction and processing on line. We just saw it happen.

Essentially all car companies have EVs in manufacturing or ready to manufacture. It takes only a year or so to convert an assembly line to a radically different vehicle.

Ford is setting up three assembly lines for their 2012 Focus. One will build ICEVs, one diesels, and one electrics. They designed the lines so that they could be quickly switched from one type propulsion unit to another if demand calls for a different mix.

Nissan is ramping up for annual productions of 500,000 Leafs per year and expect to be building at that level in 2012.

I question that 10% limit. I'm not sure we'll test the limit. It will take either a significant increase in fuel prices or a substantial decrease in battery prices to drive EV sales to and above 10% in the next eight years. This stretched out recession recovery is going to be suppressing sales of all vehicles for some time to come.


(I'm amazed at how anti-EV you are Alan. I expect that sort of attitude from someone wedded to ICEVs, not someone looking for solutions to getting off of fossil fuel. Do you see the future as either EVs or trains, but not a mix of the two?)

I don't think Alan is anti-EV; he's just pointing out that it takes a long time to make large changes in core technologies. Vaclav Smil has a lot to say on this topic.

The advantages of high-speed rail are that it's much less diffuse (fewer investment decision-makers to persuade), and that we have three or four decades of experience with it, so the risks are lower than with lithium.

If the US and European economies remain depressed, as seems likely, then the rate of investment will be even lower than it is already. It's much easier to justify investment in boom times. In down times, it takes government action.

Edit: OK, I've just read Alan's next post below. He is anti-EV. Fair enough. So am I, taking them as a drop-in replacement for ICEVs as they are now. We've got to get the utilisation rate way up from its current one hour in 24.

I am not anti-EV.

It is deserving of public subsidies after $40 billion /year is being invested in better options.

The $41st billion should go towards electric delivery trucks.


To elaborate on my opposition to an "EV first" approach.

1) EVs cannot add to the fleet (17 to 20 year replacement cycle) fast enough (10% by 2020) to make a significant difference.

2) EVs use more energy than the ICEs they replace. They emit significantly more carbon with a FF fueled grid.

3) More EVs does not mean more renewables then the alternative future with unsubsidized and fewer EVs. For many early adopters, paying more for an EV car means less $ for solar PV on the roof.

4) EVs may support an energy and resource intensive lifestyle - Exurban and outer ring Suburban lifestyles that we would be off scaling back. That is the underlying hope (I suspect) for the fervent support for EVs.

Nissan plans a 125,000/year EV production line. A federal subsidy of $7500/EV = almost $1 billion in subsidies for 1% of the car fleet

About $100 billion for 100% of one year's production - $2.3 trillion for the fleet. IMHO, better investments for that sort of money abound.


I thought one of the marketing hooks for EVs was that they use less energy since the IC engine is so terribly inefficient that it's even worse than a fairly old coal-fired power plant. (Not that they might not emit more CO2 when supplied primarily from such a plant.)

It is a matter of accounting. A Nissan Leaf will emit 20% more CO2 than a Nissan Versa (I did the calcs) if the Leaf is charged from a coal fired plant (avg. US efficiency, no allowance for transmission and transforming losses).


Yes, energy transitions generally take a long time. But all the previous transitions were made because the newer thing was better although the older thing still worked. wood->coal coal->oil There has never been a transition where the old thing is better but is just running out. We will stick to oil as long possible until it is no longer economically feasible and then there can be a sharp transition. We can ramp up things fast if there is demand but it would be better if the transition were smooth.


You have made several claims that I question or simply do not believe.

I have asked for links in the past - you have not supplied them - so you have lost credibility in your claims per TOD protocol.

Please link where lithium production can be ramped up, for large new deposits (not add-ons to existing plants) in less than two years ?

Personally, even at $300/barrel oil, I do not think we will build 10% EVs in 2020.

OTOH, I can see EV saturation by 2050, maybe 2040.


The "minimum charge" will be very close to the maximum charge.

And often people want to go out again, or the option to do so (quick grocery run, etc.)

Just a few stories of people stranded the next day because they did not "fill 'er up" the night before will lead to the vast majority choosing to recharge ASAP to 100%.

Given the success of VCR/DVD programming, I can see the mass of Americans carefully optimizing their recharging plans.

And the expense and social control (DMV, motorcycle cops, mandatory insurance, auto accidents, license tags) is the OPPOSITE of "freedom". As people will begin to understand this when they have options.

Best Hopes for EV's as a bottom priority,


Trying to explain all this to most people who have never lived in a city where a car is not necessary is kind of like trying to explain to a fish what it is like to walk on land. These places exist right now and yet most people in America can only imagine what they might be like.

Best hopes for figuring out how to frame the word "freedom" in an entirely different way.

The current concept of freedom in the vast majority of people's mind is to jump in your car whenever you want to and to have it go to wherever you want it to go. This includes trips to the mail box at the end of the drive way and the 7/11 a block away.

There is ugliness all around, most of which has been caused by the auto and all the "amenities" that auto needs for its housing, mobility, and feeding. People are blinded to this reality just like a person who lives on a busy street and doesn't notice the noise or the fish in water who doesn't notice the water.

And yet, some have been able to transcend the box and see the box for what it is, a box.

Pretty funny about the programming.

I read an article a little while ago that made the point "you don't stop being a driver after you've parked the car", speaking of how the speed and rhythms of driving itself puts their mark on one's character.

When I stopped driving to work, I have to say it really did make a difference. Everything became a little slower when you are set to bicycling speed, there's less stress and more patience, and the speed of life seemed to be a little more relaxed, and a little more satisfying. Having to run little errands out on the bike is a pleasure, where driving would have been a chore and a waste ("you should have told me before - you know it takes gas, and traffic is terrible!").

When I do have to drive I'm fine going the speed limit, and I don't mind at all if people pass me. I have a habit of slowing down to look at things or point things out to the kids sometimes - which is probably not the best idea, but it just seems so silly that everyone else drives as if every second must be made to "count", and any deviation from the maximum safe speed is taken as a personal offense.

On top of that, in a car you're enclosed in a steel and glass box, and generally invisible. I see my neighbor's cars around town, but I don't see them - or I'm not sure if I do. Its like going around incognito, and I've seen people who I know are decent people nevertheless drive like idiots out in public, anonymously.

In contrast, as I'm out in the open air when I'm out in public, I try to ride with care and courtesy, and everyone in town recognizes me by now whether I know them or not. The little smiles and waved greetings of a day are what binds a society together - and you don't get much of that in a car.

At best, you might have a simple button or switch on the charger for "charge now" versus "delayed charge' just like you have on dishwashers.

It takes no more power on average to charge full and run on the top of the battery than to work hard to run on the bottom half, and there is utility in having a full charge. Once you plug in, you will expect it to say "full" when you get back in the next morning, and it will be as inconvenient otherwise.

There is an advantage for utility companies to have some option over whether you get a 100% charge or stop charging when you get to your set minimum. Utility companies will pay for that option. There is already a program in Europe doing exactly this.

Some people will not need a full charge. Imagine a two car family where on car is mostly on weekdays and rarely driven over ten miles per day. It could be financially advantageous to the owner to set a fifty mile minimum (at least 50 miles 'in the tank' by 5AM. And then allow the utility company to decide to fill or not fill that extra 50 miles depending on grid supply.

How many people fill up their gas tank every day? How many let it run down to a quarter tank or less before they fill? How many people put in $20 just before the warning light comes on, or just after?

A quarter full gas tank has more real world range than 100% charged Nissan Leaf.

Thus the "range anxiety" of starting out every morning with an eighth of a tank.

Early adopters are not representative of the behavior of the general population.

Best Hopes for Realism,


It takes no more energy to keep everybody topped off versus almost empty, except the one-time fill. Somebody who drives 30 miles per day should drive it off the top of the battery, and then recharge 30 miles worth. Same energy required as if they put 30 miles worth into an empty battery.

True enough. But this common sense strategy negates the ability for EVs to absorb excess renewable energy.

A front moves through, creating more wind generation than demand at 3 AM. The theory is that instead of half charging EVs, as normally done most nights, EVs are topped up to full that night.

EVs carry around half empty (or less when arriving home) batteries waiting for the opportunity to finally fill up completely.

Under such a strategy, in would be about 4 months since Texas EVs would have filled up.

I maintain that Joe and Jane 6pak will fully charge their EV each and every chance that they get.


I maintain that Joe and Jane 6pak will fully charge their EV each and every chance that they get.

And given the characteristics of nearly every type of battery ever invented, and the enormous cost of large batteries, well they should - even leaving aside 'range anxiety'. All of the common battery types will show shortened life (even for the same number of kWH put through), some radically so, with deep discharging.

Because Americans (and Icelanders too) will want to recharge their very range limited EVs ASAP. This very human tendency will stress the grid as never before.

I don't think so. I bought a Nissan Leaf 3 months ago. I plug the car in when I get home, but it doesn't start charging then. It has a timer built into the car for charging, which I set to start about 3:00 AM. Takes 2.5 hours to charge at 240 volts to replace the electricity from my 47 mile round trip work commute. It's pretty simple to set the timer, you access it from the navigation screen--even my parents could do it. Many of the utilities offer great rates if you charge in the middle of the night. Mine doesn't, but it is just as easy for me to charge then as any other time. I pay for 100% renewable power, which is more expensive, but fueling cost is still half that of a Prius at current gas prices.

Great example.

I am very doubtful about statements about 'basic human tendencies', like the one you quoted, and would tend to expect that the Modern Human Tendency that applies in this case is that we can initiate an automated sequence that we know will 'take care of it'.. as with your timed charger. Kind of like starting the dishwasher.. you hit the button, and know it'll take care of the rest.

I don't quite get the objection to EV's.. largely because I do accept that BAU is in for a major downshift, and that owning a personal car at all will likely become too expensive for most people regardless, EV or otherwise. But there are actually good and essential uses for cars, and EV's can fill those needs, while today's 'Happy Motoring' and Traffic Jams of Single Occupants will be reshaped into something much smaller.

No matter how much some may 'want' EV's to seamlessly replace ICE's, I don't think it's physically possible, so it doesn't worry me.

Dong Energy which stands for Danish oil and gas company is one of Denmarks leading utility firms and is mainly Government owned a representative of which on giving evidence before a senate committee stated that a 2 megawatt wind turbine ( average size now )will be adequate to supply 3,000 electric cars. Dong are working with Better Place in building out its electrical car charging system at this very moment in Denmark and it will start to come on line in the next few months. Lets say that each electric car has a battery of 25 kilowatt/hrs. multiply that by 3,000 gives you 750,000 kilowatt/hrs. despatch-able load, as the car is only used for less than one tenth of its time that is still a good 675,000 kilowatt/hrs. of dispatch able load. Seems to make sense for Dong.

I have no doubt that prototype EV refueling stations, perhaps large scale, will be built in several places around the world.

And EVs do have a place in an overall Oil Free Transportation system - and Copenhagen is a world leader there.

#2 major city for bicycling - and growing fast towards #1 (watch out Amsterdam !).

Long time good commuter rail system. Metro (subway & elevated) "Y" opened a few years ago and a Metro subway circle around city center under construction.

Not bad for a city of 542,000 (Urban 1.2 million, metro area 1.9 million)

Electric rail connection to Sweden (almost 400 trains/day through the tunnel, many commuters from Malmo, Sweden) and plans for better connections to Germany.

In a few years, plans are for just 20% of urban trips in Copenhagen to be by car. A good place for EVs.


Electrical cars will run on electricity produced by sun and wind in some hypothetical science fiction future in which that is the way the US generates its electricity. That is not the way it is done at the current time.

At this point in time the US generates less than 2% of its electricity from sun and wind, versus 70% from fossil fuels. An additional 20% is generated by nuclear reactors.

But you can buy electricity from the wind and put solar on your roof.

Please, for the sake of honesty and decency, again admit that you have a financial interest in tar sands--full disclosure is the manly way to go.

Oh yes, I have an interest in oil sands companies, but I have an interest in coal burning power plants, too. I also have a bit of money in wind farms, but as I said, they are a minor part of the whole picture. I used to have money in uranium but after the reactor excursions in Japan I dumped my uranium and bought gold instead.

Since I have money on all the players in this game, I play close attention to who is winning and who is losing. The wind farms I am betting on are doing well, but that is because they are in ideal locations. Most wind and solar projects I have looked at make no economic sense whatever and are going to turn into financial debacles on the scale of the international banking meltdown of 2008-2009, given the amount of money governments are putting into them.

The recent failure of a US solar panel manufacturer after getting half a billion dollars in US government loan guarantees is just a taste of how much money governments could lose. It's just as easy to lose billions on subsidizing clean energy as it is to lose money on mortgages if you don't take a hard look at their finances. European governments are likely to lose as much money on wind energy projects as they are on bailing out Greece, given the unrealistic nature of the projects.

FBI raid on solar panel maker may herald escalation of watchdog probe

An FBI raid on Solyndra Inc., a solar-panel maker that failed after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, may signal the escalation of a probe into the Obama administration's clean-energy program.

Agents for Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman, who has called the department's clean-energy loan program lacking in "transparency and accountability," joined in the search

Rocky I think it depends on how you look at it. The Danish Government has been subsidizing Renewable energy for the last thirty years usually by feed in tariffs paid for by a surcharge on every bodies electricity bill. Result Denmark now supplies 20% of its electricity from wind has still the largest wind turbine builder in the world and 11% of its exports are in the renewable sector and it has supplied 30,000 jobs that would not have been there if they hadn't have done. I reckon they think that they have got a great bargain what with saving million in not having to import fossil fuel to to fill the energy gap that would have been there if they had not subsidized the wind turbine industry. what with getting extra income from the people working in the industry who if they hadn't have done it would have been out of work and on the dole. That's apart from the extra income and jobs from extra exports and being more self reliant and so were able to tell the sheet people where to get off when they tried to blackmail the country over the cartoon affair. I reckon they are well chuffed and feel themselves well in pocket.

what with getting extra income from the people working in the industry who if they hadn't have done it would have been out of work and on the dole.

Why do you think those people wouldn't have worked with something else? What is the next industry we should subsidize so that we can make a profit from having it steal jobs and resources from other sectors?

we can make a profit from having it steal jobs and resources from other sectors?

Absolutely ! We do not want to discourage growth in the banking derivatives industry, advertising, highway building, porn, leisure power boating or other productive sectors of the economy.

Reducing carbon emissions has, of course, zero value to the economy.


Reducing carbon emissions has, of course, zero value to the economy.

Depends on scale. 10% of Denmark's carbon emissions doesn't make a discernible difference, and if it did, it would mostly be an external (to Denmark) good.

Also, wind mostly acts as an alibi for coal. If Denmark hadn't had the 20% wind, they might have had 50%+ nuclear instead.

One of the consequence of the focus on wind power is that Denmark has the highest electricity prices in Europe, despite which most of its electricity is still generated by burning coal.

Denmark's wind power is also supported by connections to the much larger Norwegian and Swedish electrical grids. When the wind does not blow in Denmark, hydroelectric plants in Norway and nuclear and hydro plants in Sweden can make up the shortfall. Most countries contemplating wind power do not have the advantage of connections to larger electrical grids in other countries with a surplus of power capacity.

People often cite the number of jobs created by government subsidies, but my question is always, "How many jobs were destroyed by the higher taxes required to pay for those subsidies?" Governments never mention that factor. Denmark has the highest income taxes in the world.

This is a reality check.

Wrong on this one.

49.1% of all Danish electrical generation comes from CHP - central heat and power plants.
"Waste" heat from generation is used for hot water and heating.

Add 20% from wind.

The one Danish coal fired plant is the world's second most efficient coal plant. So they burn teh minimum amount of coal for the electricity they use.

High electricity prices are good. Denmark has no budget crisis due, in part, to carbon taxes. And high prices > efficiency :-)

High prices are not measured per kWh but per person or $ GDP. High Danish efficiency reduces the cost of electricity despite high prices/kWh.

A lesson Canadians (and Americans) need to learn.

Best Hopes for the Danish example,


49.1% of all Danish electrical generation comes from CHP - central heat and power plants. "Waste" heat from generation is used for hot water and heating.

And that, in and of itself, is a problem. Those Danish CHPs burn coal, and they can't shut them down because they are supplying hot water and heat to Danish homes. So, they have to keep them running and generating heat as a "by product" of generating electricity.

That means when the wind is blowing intensely, they can't shut down the CHPs, so they export the wind power to Norway and Sweden (who don't need it) at very low and sometimes negative prices.

When the wind doesn't blow, the Norwegians and Swedes sell them back hydroelectric and nuclear power at very high prices because they don't particularly want to sell electricity to Denmark. They would rather save it for their own consumers.

It's not the way I would have designed a system, but they didn't ask my opinion before they built it.

BTW, Canadian electricity production is only 16% coal and 7% natural gas, notwithstanding which the coal-burning power plants are the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country. 60% of electricity is hydro and 15% nuclear. There is some wind power but it kind of disappears into the rounding error at 0.5% of the total.

Wind power is starting to back out the fossil fuels and will be more significant in future, but they need natural gas fired peaking units to cover periods when the wind does not blow.

Canada's budget is in even better shape than Denmark's, but without the high taxes.

Coal was 90% of the fuel for CHPs in the 1990s. The goal is zero coal burned in Denmark by 2030.

Recent data is

One in three of the decentralised DH plants and one in seven of the decentralised CHP plants use environmentally friendly fuels (straw, wood chips, wood pellets, biogas or waste). The remainder - by far the majority - use natural gas as a fuel.


Fortunately CHP and wind generation peaks in the winter, when much of the Norge and Swedish water assumes solid form and does not refill reservoirs while demand peaks.

I see an intelligent National Energy Policy in Denmark, using very limited natural resoruces - something that the USA lacks.

Best Hopes for the Danes,


Wind is now 3% of the grid supply. We are installing both wind and solar at exponential rates. Growth of solar is predicted to be 32% per year for the next decade.

In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the Model T. At that time there were almost no cars on road and essentially zero gas stations.

By the 1930s horses had disappeared from the streets of American cities.

We do things faster these days....

Wind is now 3% of the grid supply. We are installing both wind and solar at exponential rates. Growth of solar is predicted to be 32% per year for the next decade.

Using Albert Bartlett's exponential growth game for renewable electric generation, quite excellent an idea. Those who once genuflected to Bartlett when oil use was increasing exponentially (prior to plateau oil displacing peak oil as the theory of the day) aren't going to be happy, their own concepts being used to save the world, rather than destroy it.

I recently bought a Nissan Leaf (I love it), and my power is 100% renewable, 12 KW solar PV on my roof and the rest wind.

If you haven't tried living in "some hypothetical science fiction future", it's great!

I am fond of pointing out to people that American coal-burning power plants emit over 50 times as much greenhouse gases as Canadian oil sands plants, and Chinese coal-burning power plants emit even more than American ones. Those two countries account for nearly half the world's GHG emissions.

That is a pointless comparison . . . the relevant comparison is the share of emissions from the oil sands plant PLUS the emissions from the ICE car compared to the share of emissions from the coal power plant used to charge the EV.

but the protesters seem to be blissfully unaware of where their electricity comes from. If they were, they would be a lot less enthusiastic about electric cars.

No, they actually run the numbers. If you drive an EV with 100% coal-generated electricity, it is roughly break even with a gasoline powered ICE car on emissions. But the grid is like 45% coal. And it can move toward becoming cleaner.

Here is a paper that surveys many different studies where it shows the EVs are better than ICE even though much of the electricity is generated from coal:

"If the US doesn't approve the pipelines to take Canadian oil to US markets, Canada will build pipelines to sell it to Asia."

I imagine Canada is free to build any pipeline it wants - unless, of course, there is objection from Canadian citizens to have it travel over their land.

Oh, yeah...


There are two coasts and lots of possible routes. And enough money will get it done.

Three coasts, now...

That's true, the Canadian government and private investors are putting large amounts of money into Arctic ports in anticipation.

However, it probably won't get as warm as when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, so there's no point in investing in Arctic beachfront property. When T. Rex ruled the world, the Arctic Ocean was as warm as the water off California is today. Can you imagine sitting on a blanket on the beach in Tuktoyaktuk, watching the oil tankers move in and out....

Apropos to 9/11. An example of where the Empire spent it's riches. (.. and why there is none left to get us out of this predicament)

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

Author: Peter Van Buren, a State Department officer in Iraq working with Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).

Pages 46-49:

Money and Our Meth Habit

We lacked a lot of things in Iraq: flush toilets, fresh vegetables, the comfort of family members nearby, and of course adult supervision, strategic guidance, and common sense. Like Guns N' Roses' budget for meth after a new hit, the one thing we did not lack was money. There was money everywhere. A soldier recalled unloading pallets of new US hundred-dollar bills, millions of dollars flushing out of the belly of a C-130 cargo aircraft to be picked up off the runway by forklifts (operated by soldiers who would make less in their lifetimes than what was on their skids at that moment). You couldn't walk around a corner without stumbling over bales of money; the place was lousy with it. In my twenty-three years working for the State Department, we never had enough money. We were always being told to "do more with less," as if slogans were cash. Now there was literally more money than we could spend. It was weird.

We'd be watching the news from home about foreclosures, and I'd be reading e-mails from my sister about school cutbacks, while signing off on tens of thousands of dollars for stuff in Iraq. At one point we were tasked to give out microgrants, $5,000 in actual cash handed to an Iraqi to "open a business," no strings attached. If he took the money and in front of us spent it on dope and pinball, it was no matter. We wondered among ourselves whether we shouldn't be running a PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] in Detroit or New Orleans instead of Baghdad. In addition to the $63 billion Congress had handed us for Iraq's reconstruction, we also had some $91 billion of captured Iraqi funds (that were mostly misplaced by the Coalition Provisional Authority), plus another $18 billion donated by countries such as Japan and South Korea. In 2009, we had another $387 million for aid to internal refugees that paid for many reconstruction-like projects. If that was not enough, over a billion additional US dollars were spent on operating costs for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. By comparison, the reconstruction of Germany and Japan cost, in 2010 dollars, only $32 billion and $17 billion, respectively.

... In our air-conditioned isolation, it took years to realize we needed to think about things like garbage and potable water. What had happened all around Iraq since the chaos of 2003 was a process of devolution, where populated areas lost their ability to sustain the facilities that had constituted civilization since the Romans -- water, sewage, trash removal -- things that made it possible for large numbers of people to live in close proximity to one another. Shock and awe had disrupted the networked infrastructure that allowed cities to function. What had been slow degradation through neglect under Saddam became irreversible decline by force under the United States.

(By common consent no one was allowed to comment on the paradox of creating a democracy by appointing local leaders. It just wasn't done.)

related The Dead, the Dollars, the Drones: 9/11 Era by the Numbers (nice graph)

Warming seas could smother seafood

Seafood could be going off a lot of menus as the world warms. More than half of a group of fish crucial for the marine food web might die if, as predicted, global warming reduces the amount of oxygen dissolved in some critical areas of the ocean – including some of our richest fisheries.

Koslow's team studied records of 86 fish species found consistently in the samples and discovered that the abundance of 27 of them correlated strongly with the amount of oxygen 200 to 400 metres down: a 20 per cent drop in oxygen meant a 63 per cent drop in the fish.

Global climate models predict that 20 to 40 per cent of the oxygen at these depths will disappear over the next century due to warming, says Koslow – mainly because these waters get oxygen by mixing with surface waters. Warmer, lighter surface waters are less likely to mix with the colder, denser waters beneath.

Currently 8 out of 9 global fisheries are in decline or collapse. They represent 20% of global protein. This article suggests that AGW is likely to remove that protein from the global plate. Peak water is eroding the grain based protein. Umm... there is a certain inevitability about this.

Geoengineering trials get under way

... In his blog, The Reluctant Geoengineer, Watson argues that we need to investigate the effects of sulphate aerosols as a last-resort remedy should the climate start to change rapidly. Researchers contacted by New Scientist agreed with Watson that such research should continue, if only to find out whether the techniques are feasible. "I'd say there's a 50-50 chance we'll end up doing it, because it'll get too warm and people will demand the planet be cooled off," says Wallace Broecker of Columbia University in New York. But there was less enthusiasm for SPICE's approach to the problem.

we'll end up doing it, because it'll get too warm and people will demand the planet be cooled off,"

Bwhahahahahahaha, ROFLMAO!

I say let them cook!

Texas 2012 and 2013.

I wonder what President Perry will do.



Alan – Thanks for reminding about Good Hair Perry. Driving home the other day I caught the tail end of a Perry story on NPR. They were interviewing a fellow with a new book out about campaign methods. Didn’t catch his name or the book but he’s released a free teaser chapter on line somewhere. And that chapter is about GHP. According to him GHP has one of the most savvy staffs in the country and has been handling him for years. Super analytical approach…mucho stats and focus group studies. One detail I caught: no yard signs for GHP…turns folks off. They also shy away from local endorsements: often do more harm than good. Kiss up to local media via small venue speeches and avoid statewide media: friendlier local coverage.

I have no idea if this chap knows what he’s talking about. But he sounded like he did. His bottom line: don’t let the down home country boy BS fool you: he’ll cut your political throat before you even see the knife. If anybody out can link to this fellow it would be greatly appreciated.

Ron - Mucho thanks. "Rick Perry and His Eggheads": that's the title now that you remind. Once again TOD proves to be one of the best resources around.

An extra serving of Blue Bell for Ron!!!

Perry is courting the religious extremists - no democracy with that man, he wants to complete the transition to theocracy that began under George W. Bush. We thought a Perry/Blackburn ticket was likely last fall. I'm not sure how likely Bachmann is for that slot - she has a lot of time to screw up between now and the winner picking his second.

It's a small consolation, but the global bond market made agreements with a country that adhered to the rule of the law. We put in a mullah instead of a president and we'll get the same warm welcome Greece is receiving right now. Our tattered imperial wings will get promptly clipped, our far flung military will be called home to deal with problems here.

The job of the VP seems to be to make the P look good in comparison and get the religious to pray for the health of the P.

As such Bachmann or Palin would be ideal for good hair - making him look sane and measured in comparison.

For all Rockman points up that Perry has a group of 'eggheads' behind him, the insanity is strong in his statements. That can play in bible belt, but on the east and west coasts its poison. He's already said and done enough to ensure most people there will vote against him.

The republicans have a problem. Nobody they have in the starting blocks seems to stand much of a chance of swinging the country. No moderate candidates that would tempt the moderate voter - the only thing that plays in their party is extremism.

Which is good for the US, since evidence of the downgrade is the possibility of one of them getting power would be enough to cause a run on the dollar and the general global community to go "oh, FFS".

No. Perry is just as crazy as Bachmann. I don't think Palin is so much as crazy but is in it for the money. She will never run for anything again.

I thought it would be impossible to elect Bush. I was very wrong (with a little help from the Supremes). I would not underestimate Perry despite his nuttiness. He will start obfuscating his positions as he sees he needs to play for the middle.

Rick Perry and His Eggheads is really only a section of Sasha Issenberg’s book The Victory Lab, which is to be released in the fall of next year, but it gives great insight into his highly effective campaigns in Texas.

from http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=46062

Funny I heard the same NPR article yesterday. Nobody who wins the Whitehouse is stupid. Most who win the Whitehouse would "cut your political throat before you even see the knife". President Carter is the exception I have in mind.

ed - Just picked up the Perry chapter from Amazon. I'll report out tomorrow.

The Latino and AA communities around here are heavily anti-Perry. How did he win the Tejas governorship?

Something like "people that haven't taken responsibility for their own lives and gotten air conditioners have only themselves to blame".

Hey, here's an opportunity to roll out my true story, that may be relavent (or not) on cooling a room. My technician at the time was intent upon cooling a room when the building AC died. The room was for a counting lab, so no windows, only a door. So, he pulled out a cryo-cooler unit we had for a water trap and plugged it in. I came up to visit him and saw the unit running in the middle of the room. I asked why. He said he was trying to cool the room but was not having too much luck. Then I explained that he was indeed pulling heat out of the trap to cool the methanol, but was just blowing it back into the room. Work was being done, energy was flowing and the best he was doing was running an expensive fan. Now if the methanol trap had been big enough to act as a jacuzzi, that would have been another matter.

OpelGM-Vauxhall in Figueruelas, Zaragoza, Spain to close 62 days in 2011 and 2012
Opel Spain exports 90% of its production, it is working at half capacity, 327,000 cars the lowest in its 23 years, the maximum was in 2007 with 486,000 made.
7,200 workers affected, plus 5,700 in auxiliary industries.
Link (in Spanish)
Link (in Spanish)

That news about the DAX German Stock exchange dropping 20% in a few days:

IBEX Spanish Stock exchange drops 23% in a year, 28% in two years
El País, Economía

There's a Flash chart at the right, just click on the lower indicators 1a = @ 1 year, 2a = 2 at 2 years

With 20% unemployment and 50% youth unemployment without welfare or 'benefits' it is a tribute to the good character of the Spanish people and the young that the cities are not burning, like London. We'll see how long it holds together.
The Conservatives will probably win the elections in November, and they kind of promise, you know, 3,5 million new jobs.
They reckon they are going to create by tax cuts 1 million new entrepreneurs, and each one is going to hire 3 or 4 people, easy, see?

It is a bitter lie, because in the parts of Spain where the Conservatives PP rule (we have a sort of Federal system) unemployment is highest, corruption rampant.

Not good. Without Oil, Gas or Coal not good at all.
On a positive note ETA has (probably) been defeated and the situation in the Basque land has never been better.

Not just Spain.
Greece will default. It's debt continues to grow & is completely unpayable.
Ditto Ireland, Portugal & Italy.
The German High Court has just this week ruled that German bailouts to other eurozone countries to be unconstitutional. There goes the lifeline.
Stringent austerity programs to protect banks are causing increasing unemployment, decreasing wages & decreasing standards of living in these countries.
Youth 24 to 35 yo especially college educated have the highest rates of unemployment usually over 20%.
This promotes the social unrest we see in Europe. (Riots in Greece, Portugal, Spain & England).
Social & economic decline in southern Europe is assured.
Britain, which is not part of the common Euro currency has identical problems of too much debt, a declining economy, high unemployment especially in the young and social unrest.
For the Euro to survive, the rich northern European countries need to manage the poorer southern European countries budgets & economies. It won't happen.
The Euro will fail.
European stock markets will continue to drop wiping out retirement funds & personal wealth.
Large banks heavily invested to over indebted, failing sovereign States, will need to be bailed out by tax payers.
European stability will continue to decline
Peak Oil & increasingly expensive energy sources will ensure Europe will never again recover its wealth & economy to previous levels.
We have passed Peak Europe & are now firmly on the decline side of the "Hubbert Curve" for European stability, economy & living conditions.
The only reason Europe is beating the USA to the bottom is that the US has the worlds defacto currency. It can keep printing ever more worthless greenbacks to prop up the banks & its economy. However eventually of course this tactic will not work. So watch what happens in Europe very closely. Because it's going to happen in the good old US of A sooner or later if not already.

Not so sure.

I think the PIGS will be jettisoned to save the rest. Although Britain has debts, they are going down rather than up, and given they are free of the Euro, they become something of a safe Europe haven for currency.

Something will be done to triage the PIGS and make sure they don't bring down the northern banks, insurance funds, etc.

Best bet is probably for the PIGS to do a land-for-debt swap and hand over some islands for debt. Its probably the biggest value cache they have and one that also makes sense for the north.

The US has survived to date because the finance houses are still running off obsolete worldviews. When reality hits it will crash bigtime - the bigger the bubble the louder the bang.

What is the incentive for these hard-pressed nations NOT to default?

Lack of access to future credit, resulting in the inability to purchase goods and fuel from out of country.

Isn't this what James Kunstler and the Greens want localization. Wouldn't they say this is the only solution to the worlds problem? Wont borrowing more money to maintain BAU just make the transition later and harder?

Regarding Greek debt.
It is not unpayable. At least not necessarily.
Greece has some oil prospects that are very real in the north aegean which are by international law greek.One of them is Babouras that holds 1 billion barrels. They are in shallow waters and fairly easy to exploit. They are not producing because Turkey still considers it a casus belli. However Turkey now is strong and cannot be thinking of greece as threat of any form.

To the south of Crete there is strong speculation of a sizeable resource of methane in deep waters.
The sea of ionio around zante and corfu has several oil prospects and neighboring Italy and Albania have produced significant amounts of hydrocarbons.

The hydrocarbon potential is untapped almost entirely and could be collateralized to pay a good amount of debt.
By the way the current government is sensible.
Disclosure.I am a cypriot so wish the whole debt resolution is merry.

I think that if the EU oil companies thought Greece had large oil and gas fields, that oil platforms would be already drilling in the area; and British, French, and German destroyers would be patrolling the area, telling Turkish ships to stay away so they won't be sunk "accidentally" in some kind of "unfortunate incident".

The fact that this is not occurring probably means that the EU oil companies don't think there is much oil to be found in Greek waters.

A review of recent hydrocarbon exploration in Greece and its potential

Hydrocarbon (HC) exploration in Greece has been under way from the 1860s...

Exploration results to date are not encouraging since only one viable field was discovered, in Prinos area, ...

First of all I am no geologist. However, having listened to some geologists with knowledge of the area, the impression I got was that the prospects are economic.
The paper you attached is from 2004. Since then Libya has made some discoveries in the area bordering Crete. Logically there must be some similar structures that fall on the other side of the border.
From my understanding of the situation Statoil is interested in exploration.

As the paper says, there is oil in countries all around Greece, but apparently very little oil has been found in Greece or Greek territorial waters. Why this is so, I don't know. Perhaps it is just bad luck.

If I was Greek, I would not count on oil discoveries to save my country. I would encourage more tourism to generate revenue, and insist on more government accountability. That is probably not the way Geeks think, though.

While I agree with you, you have a detail wrong.
The court did not rule the bailouts to be unconstitutional.


"The German High Court has just this week ruled that German bailouts to other eurozone countries to be unconstitutional."

Not exactly:

The German Federal Constitutional Court passed a judgment this week that seems to let Angela Merkel and her people off the hook: all EU bailouts to date passed the threshold of legality. For Merkel though, this is as Pyrrhic as it comes, and the same goes for the financial markets. The court, even as it condoned past actions, put very strict limits on future ones. Future bailouts will be very hard to pass, there will no longer be any last minute grand gestures, and a fiscal union for Europe was swept off the table in one fell swoop.

Then again:

...the brilliant troika debt-swap plan that was supposed to see private investors entirely voluntarily lose 21% of the value of their Greek sovereign "assets", would need a 90% subscription rate by September 9, or else (I have to admit, I was never entirely sure what the "else" would consist of). Not to worry though. Athens now announces that it has no plans to publish any results for the plan anytime soon. That is, if possible, even more brilliant than the original plan. It's too early, Athens says:
"Greece has no plans to publish details of anticipated participation in its debt-swap program this week or next, said Petros Christodoulou, head of the country’s debt management office. The response so far has been "very positive," he said in a telephone interview. "There will not be a number coming out of Athens today or next week. At this moment, more than half of the Europeans have not even responded. It is too early."
Credit-default swaps insuring Greek government bonds jumped 701 basis points to a record 3,727 basis points, according to CMA. The five-year contracts signal there’s a 94 percent probability the country won’t meet its debt commitments.

I agree, the Euro is toast. I suggest those who disagree spend some time reading the last few weeks of posts over at TAE.

Why are there only 11 electric cars in Iceland?

For the same reason you don't see them any where else . . . they have not been available at reasonable prices up until very recently. Duh.

The Leaf, Volt, and i-MiEV are not available for sale there yet. And even those 3 EVs are still very expensive if don't have a tax-credit incentive. And now that they finally are starting become available, Iceland is not in financial shape to buy them nor offer tax-incentives.

Spec – From the short time I spent in Iceland they may never go EV to any great extent even if prices come down. Don’t have the stats but they just don’t drive much. Populations are very concentrated and if I recall correctly just a handful of highways. Most long distance travel was by bus. And some of those are shut down during the winter for the season. They only ski on the largest glacier in Europe during the summer: the entire area is shut down during the winter.

I spent quite a bit of time in Iceland working on the Karahnjukar project.

Coming from Houston, I can see "but they just don’t drive much".

Coming from New Orleans, I could see a LOT of post-WW II suburban sprawl and development. Plus an affinity for oversized SUVs.

The keep the Ring Road around Iceland open year round (out for really bad weather or an erupting volcano dumping lots of ash).

They could do much more to reduce their oil dependence (more oil/capita than any nation outside OPEC) but most of the oil is burned by their fishing fleet#. Converting to methanol is being considered.

# Iceland has the best fisheries management in the world - and fought and won two wars with the Royal Navy for the right to manage their fisheries. Straight from my co-workers :-)

Best Hopes for Iceland,


Not driving much and using the bus for long trips makes them ideal EV candidates.

As I recall from a few days there petrol is super expensive. I was spending upwards of $75 per day driving an econobox and driving conservatively.

Lots of cheap electricity. Keep that puppy plugged in when parked and it's nice and cozy when you get in.

Creating city-wide infrastructure is not a novel idea to a country which runs hot water for heating buildings under its city streets. They'd install a plug at each parking spot.

It occasionally gets cold in Iceland.

Cold means battery capacity drops - and drivers tend to run their heaters, which drain the battery.

Half melted snow turns into lumpy ice and rolling resistance climbs significantly. In addition, studded tires are standard equipment in the winter - more rolling resistance even on clear roads.

In Reykjavik, they drive as much as a people in post-WW II suburbanized American city of 200,000 would.

There is a good sized niche for EVs in Iceland - but I doubt that half the cars could be replaced by EVs in practice.

Best Hopes for Island :-)


Again, plugged in cars can warm off the grid. Warm cars and warm batteries.

Batteries give off heat while discharging. No problem with batteries cooling off while driving. Heated seats and steering wheels cut way down on the need for high cabin temperatures.

If all that is not enough Volvo has included an ethanol-fueled heater in it's C-30. Heats cabin and batteries.

During my time in Reykjavik I saw nothing that looked like traffic even in a 30,000 peopled US city.

The population of Iceland is about 320,000 with about 200,000 living in the greater Reykjavik area. The second largest urban area is Akureyri with maybe 20,000 people. The rest are scattered about in numerous villages, mostly along the coast.

Iceland is heavily dependent on oil for tranportation of both people and goods. There's not a single railway in the whole country. The popularity of massive gas-guzzlers in Iceland is purely a cultural thing. Except for some 4 x 4 roads in the sparsely populated interior of the island, all roads, even the gravel ones, are easily traveled with a compact car.

Iceland has a huge surplus of electricity, mostly from hydro, and are using some of this excess for aluminium smelting. The climate is temperate despite its northern latitude.

In my opinion, EV's could be greatly expanded in Iceland. I don't understand why they're not doing it.

Because for all the complaints about the high price of crude based liquid fuels, they actually aren't.

Just checked the web and found $7.91/gallon currently in Iceland.

Chicken feed, it ain't....

A basic gasoline usage scheme for US citizens.

Commute 20 miles a day (400/month). Change vehicles as prices climb to maintain steady fuel outlay in a given month, thereby negating the actual climb in fuel prices.

Drive a 1/2 ton pickup, 400 miles/month, 15 mpg, $2/gal, $53/month in fuel.
Drive a family sedan, 22 mpg, $3/gal, $54/month in fuel.
Drive an ICE econobox, 28 mpg, $4/gal, $57/month in fuel.
Drive a larger hybrid, like a Camry, 34 mpg, $5/gal, $58/month in fuel.
Perhaps a Fusion, 40 mpg, $6/gal, $60/month in fuel.
Hop onto a nice KLR650? 50 mpg, $7/gal, $56/month in fuel.
And if I happen to like scooters? 75 mpg, $10/gal, $53/month in fuel.

The price of fuel can move by 5X and nothing much happens to my budget.

Of course, I could just skip straight to bicycling and drop fuel use by 100$, and save $50/month as well. I'm going for "First EV In The Neighborhood" Award instead though, the things are perfect for commuting, even cheaper than anything listed above, and have heaters and whatnot.

Gasoline is way too cheap. I say tax crude to $200/bbl tomorrow and let basic economic theory squeeze the inefficiencies out of the system pronto.

400 miles in a 0.35kWh/mile EV using $0.12/kWh electricity = $16.80.

If you've TOU pricing and $0.08/kWh or less power then <=$11.20.

And that's why people will switch to EVs once battery prices drop a bit and ranges stretch out a bit. That and not having to pump gas, go for oil changes, ....

Tragically, only people with a steady job will even consider switching to EVs. The most likely scenario, I see is people switching to scooters, bicycles, public transportation and/or walking. I've gone the PT/walking route, voluntarily.

We have been talking of batteries dropping in prices to somewhere reasonable and without the help of subsidies forever, but of course this hasn't happen. Keep talking and wishing for this will not make it so. A good sign that a technology is not worth much is when you see advocates of it constantly pushing for government support, and of course more research funding.

Sure . . . you need credit to buy a new car if you don't have much money. But then again, that is one of the reasons to provide government incentives . . . when rich people buy new EVs those new EVs will eventually become used EVs for other people to buy.

We have been talking of batteries dropping in prices to somewhere reasonable and without the help of subsidies forever, but of course this hasn't happen. Keep talking and wishing for this will not make it so.

Actually, it HAS happened. Li-Ions have dropped in price by half. The prices will not continue to drop at that pace, but they will continue to drop. The $32.5K (before $7500 tax-credit) Leaf would have been impossible just a few years ago. Yes, that is still expensive . . . but EVs will always be more expensive than ICE cars. But it will come down in price a little more . . . while the price of gas continues to go up.

"A good sign that a technology is not worth much is when you see advocates of it constantly pushing for government support, and of course more research funding."

.. You mean, like Public Education, like Foreign Exchanges, like Public Financing for Elections, maybe Public TV and Radio?

I know, you said 'technologies'.. but frankly, that statement didn't pass the sniff test for me. The reason to support something with our 'common' funds is to give leverage to programs that, like renewable energy, seem uneconomic in the short term, but are deemed to have positive long-term value for the society.

I don't think it's 'tragic' that people with steady work will be the candidates for owning an EV, and I also agree with you that a great many people will do the math and realize that a scooter or bike will take care of most of their needs.. (after they've made the other shift and moved into the same town where they work..)

Batteries have been improving, while even the Nimh cells in the RAV4 have been satisfactory for the many hundreds of folks who lucked into that limited run, a decade ago.. but that subsidy wasn't and won't be 'forever'.. and of course, 'REASONABLE' is a variable-, not a fixed-value.

Drive a larger hybrid, like a Camry, 34 mpg, $5/gal, $58/month in fuel.

At this point, you are in the territory where an EV makes hard economic sense. At that point, you are paying more up-front than the cost of a Nissan Leaf (after tax-credit). And the Leaf will cost much less per month in fuel costs. The Ford Fusion hybrid is even more expensive and after that, you started listing motorcycles.

See . . . EVs can make sense. No reason to avoid them like the plague. They won't give you cooties or make you gay.

Depends on whether you make longer trips fairly often, or you have two cars and can use the ICE (or hybrid) one for the longer trips.

You are absolutely correct that these fuels aren't as high priced as everybody complains they are. Yes, they're higher than in the past, but not as high as everybody complains. It seems that everybody takes inflation into account when comparing price on everything but fuels.

In 1961 my Father was making $15,000/year as a University Professor and the 4 bedroom house with 2 car garage he bought in Tucson, AZ cost $15,000. Gas then was 0.31/gallon. He bought a Mercedes-Benz 220S Sedan for $6200 (I remember seeing the invoice).

Use the CPI Inflation Calculator and you'll see that that equates to making $113,338.80/year in 2011 dollars and the house cost $113,338.80 in 2011 dollars. Gas cost $2.34/gallon in 2011 dollars. The MB with no A/C cost $46,846.70 in 2011 dollars. It was a basic Mercedes-Benz, with cloth interior, not the luxury ones sold today. For a young professor (3rd-4th year in Astronomy) at the University of AZ, that wouldn't be too out of line these days. A basic house with no A/C, just a swamp cooler and the basics wouldn't be too out of line in today's economy, remember it wasn't the monster castle that people live in today.

The fact that gas isn't even twice as much today as it was then and we are still having massive problems because of the increase just shows how delicate our whole economy based on needing cheap Fossil Fuels really is. For many years the inflation adjusted price was actually dropping, even as we complained that it was "rising". I remember all the complaining in 1974 about how high gas was during the "oil crisis" at $0.50/gallon. Well, guess what the cpi calculator says that 1961 $0.31/gallon gas would cost in 1974 dollars? $0.51/gallon!

We have not kept our dependency on FF the same but increased it. Back in 1961 Tucson had the local Shamrock Dairy right in town. I think they closed down in the late 1960's as the town expanded out past them. There were farms that have now been converted to housing developments. I don't know where food for Tucson comes from, but it's not at all local. And so on... Our system can't function without decreasing FF costs.

In my opinion, EV's could be greatly expanded in Iceland. I don't understand why they're not doing it.

My guess is because no one is making EVs in large numbers yet. GM, after an August retooling shutdown for 2012 models, is now making 125 Volts per day. Nissan cut off the waiting list for their Leaf EVs because it's going to take them a year to work through the current list of waiting buyers.

Iceland is a tiny market and attention is going to go toward markets with lots of upside potential. We're seeing efforts concentrated in only a few places around the US to install public charging stations. Those are where EVs will be mainly sold for the first year or so.

Gradually sales will be shifted to other larger population centers. Country towns and "Icelands" just don't offer the volume sales that manufacturers are going to be chasing as they attempt to create economies of scale.

There are over 10,000 EVs in Peachtree, Ga. , if you count electric golf carts as EVs. The community was built in the 50s with the idea that it would be ecologically sensitive. It has over 100 miles of golf cart paths which can get you about anywhere within the community of 30,000 plus souls. The paths can also be used for biking and walking. The carts go 20 to 25 mph which is more than adequate for the short distances required. These carts don't require a lot of electricity compared to a full sized and equipped PHEV or EV. I see this as a pretty good model for the future given sensitive and far sighted planning. The problem is our imaginations not lack of energy.

I don't disagree with you, but if anyone is betting their shirt on this happening; "given sensitive and far sighted planning" ,then they're going to basically lose it. The crap heap is going to collapse, EV's can't survive in a BAU world and post BAU there will be no mass production to produce them. Realistically it ain't going to happen.

The real question then becomes are you going to be under the crap heap wishing on a star when it collapses or outside it doing something to avoid being engulfed in it?

My children and grandchildren will be under a crap heap for certain. For good or ill, I am too old to be around to feel the full force and weight of the heap. Anyway, I thought what they have done in Peachtree is way cool and surprised I had not heard about it earlier.

I am torn between utter despair and an alcohol induced daze. How to choose.

Never too old tstreet. I was doing some work today for a 90 year old, he's not up to the heavy physical work anymore. But, he still keeps his bee hives, looks after his orchard and was showing me his immaculate vegetable garden still full of vegetables. He drives around in his old renault van, near drove me into a corn field the other day, but he gets by. He has little bits of land dotted around for his bees, beautiful plots with bucolic views of fields, forest, vineyards and petite French villages. I love working on them.

The thing is, as individuals we can still do something, for ourselves our children and grandchildren. As a whole society we can do nothing, what's coming is inevitable, but we can still do something for ourselves and have a drink or two as well.

If governments made the speed limit of 25mph mandatory, the innovation in transport would be immense. But they aren't going to do it, I wish they would, but it isn't going to happen until the average speed of people moving around is 25mph regardless of government. Don't be under the heap when it collapses, every physical thing that exists now will probably still be there afterwards. The difference will be some things will still be useful, others not.

"If governments made the speed limit of 25mph mandatory, the innovation in transport would be immense. But they aren't going to do it, I wish they would, but it isn't going to happen until the average speed of people moving around is 25mph regardless of government."

Last I heard, that was the plan for your fair city of Paris:


See this article to see how folks can customize their low-speed rides:


30 kph < 19 mph

A good bicycling speed !

Best Hopes for French Bureaucrats >;-)


Yup! The entire world could be changed practically over night by the stroke of a pen. A Mandatory 25mph speed limit would alter everything, cut useless long distance journeys and relocalise the economy. The far reaching effect of such a simple move would alter everything, but it will never happen by choice.

But once the straight jacket of BAU is loosened by Depression 2, people will by necessity begin to innovate and adapt, mainly outside the control of the authorities. The grey economy will become the real economy. Transport innovation will explode (probably literally in some cases).

I believe most peoples future will be in urban ghettoes not dissimilar to what's already happening in the World, but Westernised versions rather than the third world type:

Street Markets and Shantytowns Forge the World's Urban Future

Mandatory 20mph speed limits are rapidly spreading through parts of UK towns and cities. They are universally ignored.

People are used to driving at up to 30 mph in urban areas. There are so many signs and notices on our roads that the low key 20 mph signs are either not seen, or mentally interpreted as 30 mph signs. I'm sure the majority of drivers are even unaware that the lower speed limits exist in many areas.

Of course, a percentage of drivers simply drive as fast as they think they can get away with, regardless of the legal speed limits.

Ralph - Mandatory 75 mph speed limits are rapidly spreading through parts of Texas. They are ignored by many. And, don't forget, many have at least one weapon in the vehicle.

So don't mess with Texas...and don't get in our way. LOL


This is one reason I brought up the idea of Pretty Damn Good (PDG) in Charles Eisenstein guest post. People do not get that Ecotopia isn't going to happen. Instead, we need to do those things we can recognizing that our actions aren't perfect and not sustainable in perpetuity (PDG). I suggested aiming for a 150 year time horizon but, maybe, it should be 50 or 200 years. This buys time and provides a cushion as society transitions to something else whatever that is.

And, this is how I live my life. I recognize that I can't prepare for everything but my actions can buy time so I can make intelligent decisions.


PDG sounds good to me. Everything we'll probably need already exists, but randomly scattered around the economy. I see the future as gathering these random elements together to create something new, but at the same time something old. If that makes sense. What exists will still be here and people will adapt and innovate,but I feel that people dependant on the existing BAU system will have little choice but be corralled into urban ghettoes or some modern equivalent by necessity.

Saving BAU a waste of time, attempting to maintain BAU by alternate means a waste of time, using what we have to innovate and adapt to a new way of living absolutely essential. But realistically only possible by small groups of people operating mainly outside the existing system.

I'd suggest a shorter 20-40 year horizon. A horizon that is mainly "Get off of fossil fuels".

Anything that gets us off fossil fuels and does not leave a huge problem for those who follow us should be labeled PDG. Or at least GEN (Good Enough for Now).

Getting off fossil fuels means we avoid a peak fossil crash and (hopefully) don't kick off the methane beast.


perhaps the folks have more money to burn in The Villages, Florida, another community geared for its senior citizen residents to travel easily hither and yon in golf carts.


At first glance it seems like a success story:

The diminutive vehicles are the primary mode of transportation for daily life here. Residents can drive them just about everywhere they need to go. They whiz along 87 miles of trails, from the Walmart to the town squares, from the hospital to the archery range. When they have to cross the six-lane US 27/US 441 highway, no sweat—they take the specially built golf cart overpass. "We don't like to call them our golf carts," a retiree named Warren Cromer tells me. "They're our second car."

But then one sees that their problem is not a lack of imagination but a surfeit of money to burn on 'tricking out' their carts and tweaking them to go upwards to 40 MPH.

Second cars with massive upgrades. Villagers have tricked out their carts to look like 1930s roadsters, fire trucks, and stretch limos. The hottest ride in town is currently a canary-yellow imitation of a Hummer H3 with alligator interior, undercarriage lighting, and a 1,400-watt stereo. The most obsessed drivers have spent upwards of $20,000 pimping their rides: Villagers trade up for bigger tires, swap computer codes to overclock their batteries, and hack their motors to bypass built-in speed caps. Standard carts typically top out at around 20 miles per hour, but a little tweaking can boost that to as much as 40.

The article mentions that some folks who have moved to the Villages couldn't other wise drive due to things such as DUIs, low vision, MS, etc...

However, all in all, perhaps this areas may be a model for Alan's Transit-Oriented-Development idea?

But the lesson of the Villages isn't just about the vehicles we're driving—it's about where we're driving them. The future of transportation should be focused on the quick jaunts that make up most of our day-to-day driving.

The Villages is projected to have a population of 100,000 by 2014.

The Wired magazine article runs ~ 11 'screens' (and I run high resolution with small print), so my excerpts are but a small sample...if you have the time, I recommend the article as an interesting read, as it describes a current and growing 'transit-oriented development' featuring golf carts and larger Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). Perhaps these types of developments could be linked together with electric trains/light rail, and further-apart destinations with heavy electric passenger rail. Perhaps then the golf carts and NEVs would be the first and only car, not the 'second car'.

Perhaps a lesson here is that folks will drive lower-speed vehicles if their neighborhoods are designed for it (no SUV v. NEV please!) ans if the folks have the ability to customize their low-speed rides to show off to their neighbors.

I would reign in the speed demon cheaters and strictly enforce the 25 mph rule though...otherwise the vehicles will evolve to 60 mph heavy machines due to one-upsmanship...defeating the idea of economy and increasing fatalities and injuries...

I basically agree.

I have seen "tricked out" riding mowers. And some serious modifications to bicycles.

It is hard to reign in the human desire to customize and gain status - and not worth the effort if it does not negatively impact anyone else directly (40 mph speeds). Paint then day-glo orange and green (ouch - my eyes) and make them look like fire trucks :-)

Personally, I would like to see balloon bumpers on NEVs just in case they do hit somebody.

Best Hopes for NEVs :-)



Perhaps in Florida they could be art deco colors...yellow, purple, and green might fit Louisiana ...Mardi Gras, King Cakes, LSU, etc...

On a different subject...I read (Wikipedia?) that light rail in the U.S. costs, on average, based on historical data to-date, ~ $35M per mile. I was also reading about the Silver Line D.C. Metro extension being ~ $8B for ~ 23 miles, which seems in that ball park.

I was looking at a map of Albuquerque daydreaming about how to lay out light rail/tram/streetcar lines...I figured about 10 lines E-W @ 15 miles long each, and the same number of N-S lines for the same distance each (I like to round up in project planning)...so, about $10.5B to outfit ABQ, maybe $12B including rolling stock?

So...one could extrapolate outfitting the 200 largest cites in the U.S. (assuming the same amount of track as ABQ) for ~$2.5T...say, over ten years of a crash program.... roughly equating to a cost of $250B/year for 10 years...or ~190B/year for 15 years of build-out.

Very rough back-of-the -envelope numbers...but for ~1/4 of our annual national security/military industrial complex budget, the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S. could get excellent tram/light rail transit systems. I wonder how many people that would serve, and how much cars/gasoline/oil that would replace?

Combine that with the glorified golf carts/NEVs/Transit-Oriented-Development, ,some Prii-type vehicles (perhaps avilable to many via car-hire services)for suburb/exurb trips, more walking and bicycling/electric scootering, CG/Hybrid buses for some trips, and inter-metro area connection by decent (~80 mph, on-time, comfortable) rail (not gold-plated high-speed)...one could envision maintaining a measure of mobility in the post-peak U.S.

It is a nice dream anyway...

Missed your post earlier.

The French are building 1,500 km of trams (light rail) for 22 billion euros. In every town of 110,000 and larger. Standardized engineering, standardized vehicles.

From 1897 to 1916, the USA built subways in all of the major cities, quite a few electric interurbans and streetcars in over 500 citles, towns and villages !

With 3% to 4% of today's GDP, @ 100 million people (half rural farmers & ranchers) and no advanced technology.

Scan this list to see what we CAN do !


More Later,


Quick math, this works out to be ~ 30B U.S. dollars for (rounding up) ~ 1,000 miles...which is ~ $30M per mile, agreeing roughly with the Wikipedia estimate for average Light rail costs in the U.S. today.

I agree that standardizing the equipment across the U.S. should present economies of scale and a robust supply of spare parts and so forth.

It sure would be nice to have some trams in Albuquerque...

Nothing about the idea violates the laws of physics, or requires stupendous effort such as excavating a Panama canal etc...just some determination and a commitment of money.

I am sure folks will see this and bark about the cost and the public funding...but I wonder what the cost of the the 6+ lane I-40 and I-25 going through ABQ was (and is to maintain), including the huge 'Big-I' exchange between them in the city?

edit: I read your links...no doubt that we have the ability to do this again...but do we have the will? The4 glorious sun shines down unfettered on Albuquerque some 310 days per years (in fact, we have a company named 310 Solar)...and lots of undeveloped desert land outside the city (and will stay undeveloped due to lack of surplus water thank reason) on which beaucoup solar PV panels could be emplaced to power those trams.

In fact, I bet the whole City could be run during ~5-6 hours per day mostly on PV if we put it on most of the rooftops and on the surrounding desert land.

Also, for all you bicyclists, I took my Cannondale road/off-road hybrid out for a 10-mile spin today to investigate commuting routes to the Air Force Base...nice to get a ride in the fresh air, but not very promising for my daily commute...didn't even make it half the 10-mile driving distance to the base from my house, dues to all the zig-zagging one has to do to follow side streets which do not flow continuously North and South...can't take the major surface streets due to no bike lanes and way too dangerous traffic...the arroyos (drainage canals) run E-W in the city, and if my commute was E-W that would be helpful, but alas, not help for the N-S commute. Need about three N-S bike paths in ABQ equally spaced from the river to the foothills, chiseled through the urban landscape, with over and under-passes across the E-W car roads...ahh the fantasy...some dedicated bike trails w/o crossing traffic, with some public bathrooms and water fountains every so often...that would change the equation for biking tremendously...

$8B for 23 miles is $350 million per mile. Is one of those numbers wrong?

I have a friend who built a bicycle that would do 45mph. It was a "little" beyond ratings, as the hubs glowed orange at night after a hard run, and eventually brush retainers or something melted. It's hard not to push the limits, it seems.

Still, it's all progress toward lifestyles, infrastructure, and housing that makes a little more sense.

Why can't people walk?

I could do that. I figure that I could get to the store in a couple of days. I could to 20 miles a day with my bum knee.

Take me at least one extra day coming back, what with having a 3,600' mountain to climb while pushing a wheelbarrow full of groceries. ;o)

Clearly we need to improve the conditions for walking and biking, and we need to improve public transportation. Those are all ways to cut fuel usage. But they don't solve all of people's needs and desires for transportation.

We're not going to abandon our homes in the 'burbs and rural areas if at all possible. Too much individual capital worth tied up in them and too many people who just don't want to live in cities.

Best solution, IMO, is to push hard on electricity based alternatives for personal travel. We know how to make that electricity without fossil fuels, we're already doing it.

We can make our EVs more reusable/recyclable/sustainable as we go along. The major inputs to the following rounds of EVs can be recycled materials, electricity and labor.

It's not a choice between walking/biking and EVs (or a better solution if one arises), it's a matter of best mix of alternatives.

We're not going to abandon our homes in the 'burbs and rural areas if at all possible.

Farmer's "come to town" every other Saturday if the weather is decent.

The rest of exurban dwellers leave. As do the more remote (recently built) suburbs.

That is possible. We are going to have an enormous struggle to save the more efficient parts of our built environment.


You and I certainly do not see the same future ahead.

Right now one can buy an 100 mile range EV (full price, no subsidy) and pay less over the lifetime of the car than a $20,000 30MPG ICEV would cost.

You can stick three thousand dollars of solar panels on your roof and create all the electricity you need to charge your EV for the next 40+ years.

The "100 mile range" is illusory.

Simple age reduces battery capacity.

Run the heat or a/c and it drops significantly. Increase rolling resistance (rain or much worse, snow/lumpy ice) and it drops even more.

4 wheel drive EV ? Anyplace that requires 4WD will dramatically increase (by x100+ ?) rolling resistance -> reduced range.

4WD adds weight which reduces range.

Solar PV charging ? What about a few overcast, bad days in the winter ?

Best Hopes for Realism,


Perhaps an EV upside is that cars will be less overdimensioned. EVs are generally small to increase range and reduce battery size.

Bob. Thanks for the upbeat. I like to read TOD for amusement-- the one on the BIG balloon with the light pipe was great- but sometimes it gets way too depressing and I have to go out and play with solar stuff. My commute is so short- 10 miles total in and out_ that it seems obvious I have gotta have an electric car/bike charged with my brand new 50cent/watt pv panels. The bike would be fine except for the 200 meter real steep hill and the two severe concussions thereunto appertaining.

So I am working on a great little old VW beetle EV mod which will have just enough battery to get in and out maybe 1.5 times.

Wat a surprise! When I put up the firstPV panel to measure its true performance, it got REAL HOT in the bright sun. And me with a solar water heater standing right by it? Obviously, what we have here is CHP, ready to go.

Good luck with the conversion. Shooting for a 20 mile range should be more than doable.

I know a few people driving conversions around town and they are totally happy.

Me, I've got to wait for something more like 150 miles and 4wd. Perhaps the new Rav4EV will work for me.

Stress test for Scotland, Norway and North Sea oil platforms coming right up:

This is a very powerful storm and will do a lot of damage.

Goldman Sees US As Top Oil Producer In 2017 - Report

LONDON -The U.S. will soon become the world's top oil producer, The Sunday Times reported Goldman Sachs as forecasting.

U.S. oil production should reach 10.9 million barrels a day by 2017, a third higher than 8.3 million barrels currently, the newspaper reported the investment bank as saying.

Of course the US does not produce 8.3 million barrels per day. Over one million of those barrels is "refinery process gain", most of it on oil form other countries. Anyway, the US will not reach 10.9 million barrels per day even if you count all those "other liquids" that the US produces from natural gas and refinery process gain. That is an increase of over 2.5 million barrels per day. Fat chance of that happening.

Process gain for MAY 2011 in thousands of barrels per day, sorted by highest producers. There were many other smaller produces but I left them out.
Note: Almost half ot all the refinery process gain produced in the world is produced in the USA yet we consume only about 25 percent of the oil. I really don't understand how that is possible. EIA Refinery Process Gain

USA	1,083
China	  197
Japan	  114
Canada	   75
Germany	   66
UK	   55
Brazil	   54
France	   52
India	   45
Italy	   44
World	2,244

Ron P.

The US does have the most complex refining infrastructure, so you would expect that refinery gain would be disproportionately high.

But I don't think that could account for the whole thing.

Interesting question.

Most other countries don't bother to account for "refinery gain" because it is just an accounting fiddle to adjust for the decrease in density of refined products from that that of the crude oil feedstock.

In European and other countries which account for oil and products by mass (tonnes) rather than volume (barrels), it is a nonexistent factor. Mass in equals mass out at their refineries. US energy authorities have to manipulate their data to calculate a number for refinery gain, and they tend to do it incorrectly.

Even countries which account for oil by cubic metres usually ignore refinery gain because it is basically meaningless. They haven't gained anything.

BP shows total petroleum liquids production of 7.5 mbpd for the US in 2010.

There are some good stories about resurgent Mid-continent production from old and new plays, but it needs to be kept in perspective. So far, rising Mid-continent production has served to keep total US C+C production at between 5.4 and 5.6 mbpd since the fourth quarter of 2009 (EIA).

Looking at annual production, production fell in 2005, and for three years thereafter, partly because of the hurricanes, but 2010 annual crude oil production was slightly in excess of the 2004 level, by about 50,000 bpd. I wonder how much money was spent to result in a net increase of 50,000 bpd in 2010, versus 2004?

Almost half ot all the refinery process gain produced in the world is produced in the USA yet we consume only about 25 percent of the oil

Much of the refinery gain comes for hydrogen - derived from methane (natural gas) in the USA.

Cheap NG here leads to adding hydrogen atoms from NG to oil molecules = refinery gain.

Some other refineries have cheap and plentiful NG, but others do not.


Yes but Canada has even more cheap and plentiful NG than the US, and its refineries are similarly sophisticated, but its refinery gain as reported by the EIA is disproportionally low. The Canadian authorities don't report it so I can't check the data.

I think the real issue is that most other countries do not bother to account for refinery gain, since it is really just an accounting fiddle, so the EIA is cooking up its own numbers and getting them wrong.

U.S. oil production should reach 10.9 million barrels a day by 2017,

So they think we will pass our previous peak production level from the 1970's? I find this highly unlikely . . . even if you were to open ANWR and the OCS.

It really depends on what you mean by "oil". According to the EIA, US "Total Oil Supply" surpassed 10 million barrels per day in May. Of course that's adding traditional "crude+condensate" to Natural gas liquids + biofuels + refinery gain.

In 2009 The US "total oil supply" averaged 9.14mb/day. If the May figure of 10.03 was maintained for a year then the US would be producing more "oil" than any other country produced in 2009 data as shown at http://www.eia.gov/countries/

Thanks for the info. That explains the difference in numbers I'm reading. I drilled further into link to find 2009 "Total Oil Production" (new oil as you call it in another comment) is 9.14mb/day and "Crude Oil Production" is 5.36mb/day. The ratio is 58.6%. Assuming same ratio, Goldman's above number of 10.9 is approximately 6.39mb/day of crude oil. Per EIA, new oil includes lease condensate, natural gas plant liquids, other liquids and refinery gain.

US annual C+C production through 2010 (EIA):

The 1970 peak was 9.6 mbpd, and in 2010 we produced 5.5 mbpd. Note that the US is dependent on imports for two out of every three barrels of crude oil that we currently process in US refineries.

As noted up the thread, for the first time since the hurricanes hit in 2005, US annual C+C production in 2010 exceeded the 2004 annual rate (by about 50,000 bpd).

Don't you know that's "old oil" not the new "modern oil" the EIA has today. The US now produces more than 10 million barrels per day of this "new oil". Get with the program :-)

Yes it includes imaginary numbers, gases at room temperature/pressure and what you used to call "lunch", but who cares!

It's certainly entertaining to read some of these stories, especially regarding exports. My favorite story was the 2009 Bloomberg item and Brazil*, a net petroleum importer, taking "market share" away from OPEC.

*Brazil's net imports of total petroleum liquids increased in 2010, over 2009.

And there have been several recent stories about US exports of petroleum products, implying that the US is now a net oil exporter.

And then we have Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake's CEO, recently declaring that the US can meet all its energy needs--apparently in perpetuity--solely from domestic sources.

Hey, there is another one out today:
Sunday newspaper round-up: Death of 'peak oil', UK stimulus, Derby

“The world cannot be running out of oil, because Aidan Heavey keeps finding more of it.

Aidan Heavey is CEO of Tullow Oil.

Ron P.

And the article also says "The last time America was the biggest crude producer was 1973, " implying that the projected 10.9 million barrels/day they are talking about is "crude". Whether the author is intentionally misleading the reader or is just ignorant is not clear.

“The world cannot be running out of oil, because Aidan Heavey keeps finding more of it.

A thought occurred to me along similar lines.

Here in the UK, people keep finding Roman coins so clearly they are not "running out" either. So all the British government has to do is mount a "dig, baby, dig" campaign and the UK can solve its debt crisis in no time with an endless supply of Roman money. Brilliant - now where's my shovel?


Sorry, your shovel's not ready.

Some technicality..

I guess all those stockpiled coins didn't help the folks who buried them much. Makes me wonder about todays "Gold Bugs".Can't eat the coins !!

Don in Maine

I find it not that entertaining...by conflating liquids other than C+C TPTB can chaff and confuse the Joe Six-Pack rank and file for many more years, making the inevitable adjustment process down the road all the harder...but I guess it depends on whether one theorizes that there will be a big cliff (one big crash), or a series of numerous smaller step-downs...perhaps TPTB are attempting a gradual 'glide path' down from majority reliance on C+C to a paradigm of slowly increasing other liquids use, solar, wind, combined with a gradual introduction of the idea of doing less with less.

A barber shop discussion:

Joe: I heard that the US will soon be the world's largest oil producer.

Jim: Yeah, I read that we are now exporting more oil than we are importing.

Joe: And I read where Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of Cheseapeake, said that we could meet all of US energy needs from domestic resources, as soon we oil & gas companies can drill where they want to.

Jim: Michele Bachmann said that if she were president, we would be back to $2 gasoline.

Joe: Yeah, maybe a Perry/Bachmann ticket would be way to go.

Jim: With Aubrey McClendon in charge of energy policies.

Joe: I think I'll go ahead and buy a new SUV, before SUV prices go back up.

Jim: Me too.

A Peak Oiler, with a pocket protector, speaks up.

Peak Oiler: Global crude oil production has been flat to declining for several years, and US crude oil production is only now reaching pre-hurricane levels. The US is dependent on imports for two out of every three barrels of oil that we process in US refineries, while global net oil exports are declining, with developing countries like China taking an increasing share of what is net exported.

Joe & Jim: You're crazy.

No, it is

Joe & Jim: Shut up you tree-hugging socialist!

But seriously, the public debate is really being poisoned with a lot of blatant misinformation. No matter what your political views are, you need to start your thinking from hard facts. If not, you are just building castles in the sky. Reality doesn't care if you got the most votes or not. Reality is not up for a vote.

wt - And of course what will drive you crazy is that Joe's and Jim's votes cancell out you vote. What's that old joke about the crazies running the nut house?

I have witnessed numerous of these conversations...usually I refrain from playing the part of the PO/nerd straight man.

You can add:

Joe: The leftist Greenie-socialists say we are running out of cheap and easy oil...but that loser Jimmy Carter said the same thing in the late 70's with his BS 'malaise' speech...

Jim: Yea, and look what happened when we kicked that loser out and elected a real American hero who had faith in America and the free market..

Joe: No doubt...President Reagan put things right, put aside those 'can't do' tree-huggers, and set our oil companies free to find //millions!// of barrels of oil...

Jim: Yea, it was good times until eight years of Slick Willie destroyed all the progress we made...

Joe: Yep, good thing that after 9-11 President Bush took the bull by the horns and made darn sure those rag-heads keep sending our oil to us...

And the band plays on...

There is next to zero chance of knocking these folks off of top dead center wrt these views...

"Word is, when Rick gets to Washington, we'll charge all those antichristian libral socialites with treezun and send'em to gitmo. He's got mah vote! Amway politics baby!" [high fives all around]


Happy Daze are hear again!

Iszat a shining city on the hill I see in the distance in the morning again sunlight of 'Merika?

"Izdat a shining city on the hill I see?"


Itz just mah Mae West replica plastic pistol in the pocket

But all the same, I am happy to see yah

Re: Laos to Start Building Mekong Dam This Year, Testing Neighbors, up top:


Interesting NOVA documentary called Secrets Beneath the Ice

Scientists study rock cores from below the West Antarctic ice sheets to evaluate tipping points, and speed of change from warmer to colder conditions, and vice versa. Results may indicate higher-than-expected sea-level rise, due to involvement in East Antarctic melting, and an expected return to Pliocene climatic conditions by the end of the century.

From the Pliocene link above;

"investigators have found evidence that minor increases in CO2 (up to 380 ppm) did occur in the Pliocene. This causes us to wonder whether it is possible that an, climate feedback, as of yet unknown, associated with small increases in CO2, could lead to the larger changes seen in the ocean circulation? Certainly the evidence for higher levels of CO2 and stronger thermohaline circulation challenges recent results from coupled ocean-atmosphere models, which suggest that thermohaline circulation weakens as global temperature rises."

The "challenges recent results from coupled ocean-atmosphere models" is academic-speak for "the models failed" which in turn a more polite way of saying "reality kicked the **** out of our pretty mathematics, and we don't know why."

My dissertation was on non-linear modeling. I actually have considerable sympathy for them. My proposed models also failed, which makes for tricky thesis defense.

There are a couple of articles this week on sea-level rise and abrupt climate change. Seems it's the norm rather than the exception. We've been lucky. The last 5000 years have like sailing on a glass sea.

As the Shrunken Head said in Harry Potter: Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It's going be a bumpy ride!

800,000 years of abrupt climate variability

New Coral Dating Method Hints at Possible Future Sea-Level Changes

The Lindberg essay is an excellent example of people thinking that understanding Peak Oil means understanding everything. Mr. Lindberg obviously has zero knowledge of Keynes or Keynesian economics. The point is wealth redistribution. The jobs involved, as Keynes pointed out, are irrelevant, and do not directly require increased use of natural substances.

Arctic resources may be a treasure trove, but Nunavut will be easy or cheap to extract...


Alan, your idea of railroads through Canada to the Northern Ocean may become reality (as long as they can figure out how to build a stable roadbed on melted former-permafrost...

Hire Russian engineers.

They will have to solve that problem first.


The Chinese have already solved the problem of building railroads on permafrost in Tibet.

The basic principle is to avoid melting the permafrost. This can be achieved by putting a thick (1 metre, 3.3 feet) layer of crushed rock between the track and the subsoil. It's not rocket science, it's just basic railroading.

The hard part will be when the permafrost isn't permanent anymore.

Just finished reading the “Rick Perry and his Eggheads” chapter from Issenberg's book. That chapter available from Amazon for $0.99. Interesting though a good bit of verbiage explaining the approach of his campaign team. Essentially a battle between the old “political pros” (who make a living providing their time tested methods) and the academics who ran actual and measured experiments testing those “proven” approaches.

From "Unsettling Insights from Perry’s Eggheads":

“…but Issenberg’s remarks on how the Perry team used research findings to make decisions about campaign travel were especially striking.”

The key aspect of the analysis is maximizing campaign budgets. The recurrent theme is don’t spend money on strategies that deliver a minimal number voters. Focus on what has been proven statistically. During previous elections Perry allowed his eggheads to take some serious risks to prove their theories. They actually spent monies on approaches they felt would be inefficient/detrimental to prove their ideas. The tradition consultants strongly opposed their ideas because it took money out of their pockets. Interesting that these old pros were referred to as “vendors” because that’s exactly what they were: they made money by implementing their various approaches: TV ads, robocalls, newspaper advertizing, mailers, etc. If the eggheads proved mailers were in efficient some vendor just lost a great deal of personal income.

One interesting aspect: the eggheads were given publishing rights to their analysis once the election had passed. Apparent their peers in the political-science theater generally gave them very high praise for their research.

If they follow the same protocol in Perry’s bid for the nomination we should expect much less MSM advertizing. Lots of face-to-face local events and a world class use of social net working through cyber space. Apparent they used this approach with great proven results in the slaughter of Kaye Bailey in the gov race. Recruited supporters who set up their own mini net works of 12 (and got paid $20 a head for each) whose member then set up their mini net works of 12, etc, etc. For the $’s spent doing this they estimated they got the biggest bang for the buck than any other method.

Again, if they follow previous used formats, Perry will be swinging all around the country doing 4 greet and meets a day. Not unlike he did the weekend he stole the thunder from Bachmann's straw poll victory...riht out of the eggheads play book BTW. And he will focus only in those states in play. As I warned earlier if the MSM’s mocking of the religious right locks up those states for Perry he’ll get to ignore them and focus his time/money elsewhere. And lots of LOCAL interviews and avoiding the big MSM like a plague. Interesting that the author wonders how well this approach will working nationally. He even makes the point that what works well for Perry might not serve another candidate too well.

Time will tell how this works in a national primary. One thing for sure: whoever runs against President Obama better have deep pockets. And if it’s Perry and his team knows how to stretch his campaign funds effectively he might have a shot at the White House. And having gasoline over $5/gallon and unemployment over 9% won’t hurt either.

It is too bad they don't spend any effort on figuring out what policies would best help the state/country. I guess that is just not very important.

US federal government policy is very consistent over time and over administrations. The system will continue the existing policies with little change regardless of who is elected to the Whitehouse. At some level this is good we do not want policy bouncing all over the place year by year. Of course it is only good if you feel the existing policies are reasonable.

spec - Their job, as campaign consultants, is to get Perry elected. Not develop policies. No different than President Obama's campaign consultants. In fact three of Perry's top guys are Yankee liberals.

Folks want policies they support then they need to vote for that politician that sees it the same. Unfortunately if the majority of voters want policies you don’t support you lose. And I suspect you know as I do it often has nothing to do wih right or wrong. And then there’s the additional problem when your politician supports some of your policies but is on the opposite side of the fence on others. Out of idle curiosity: do have one national political leader whose policies support all your major positions? If so, lucky you.

we should expect much less MSM advertizing

All the folks who watch TV should love that.

I was watching a program that comes on Sunday mornings called Energy Now. None of us here would get any great insights from it - the program seems to be mainly interesting in talking about how we can maintain BAU through various schemes (still talking about biofuels made from corn, for example). To me it is only interesting in that I can see what messages the public at large is receiving.

Note that the great potential for conflict of interest:

Initial funding for energyNOW!, LLC is provided by the American Clean Skies Foundation (ACSF), a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington D.C. Funding for ACSF is provided, in part, by Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Additional underwriting for energyNOW! will be announced in connection with the national roll out of energyNOW! in 2011.

Towards the end of a recent episode, there was a simulation done in DC involving many "leaders" of various kinds - they started with a hypothetical terrorist attack on Abqaiq, and then worked through what would happen in the world. They had John Hofmeister (frmr President & CEO of Shell oil) playing the role of the secretary of Energy, and at the end they interviewed him.

We should be ringing the alarm bells and the sirens, to drive the political leadership, to make some decisions, to get on with the future. Because we are more vulnerable than most people know.

Q: You said during the simulation that the companies should open up US oil production, saying that we have the largest reserves in the world. Is that practical?

A: It's absolutely practical. This country used to produce 10 million barrels a day. We are down below 7. And it is only because of public policy that prohibits the domestic production of natural resources, that we have gone into decline.

You can watch the program here. The Hofmeister interview starts at about 23:50.


I imagine that if the Republicans win the White House, that this guy would be a candidate for the real Secretary of Energy.

Hot off the presses:


'Germany May be Ready to Surrender Over Greece'

After almost two years of fighting to contain the region’s debt crisis and providing the biggest share of three European bailouts, Chancellor Angela Merkel is laying the ground for what markets say is almost a sure thing: a Greek default.

If that did happen, would the EU still be in tact except Greece would be out, or is the implication a breakup of the entire EU? Would default on Greece cause a domino effect with other EU states defaulting? Should be interesting week on wallstreet.

Greece once was as the US is now. Soon, the US will be as Greece is now.

Wrong. The Greek problem relates to a flawed Euro. The Euro is a currency without a country to back it up. Greece has no fiscal policy because it uses the Euro. So the only thing it can do is impose austerity to pay off debt. This does not work. Austerity by governments leads to more debt problems not less as the economy contracts and tax revenue falls.

The U.S. is not Greece. U.S. debt is rising in price and interest rates are falling to record lows while Greek debt is falling in price and interest rates on it are rising.

The bond market says the U.S. is not Greece.

And so does the dollar. On Friday the dollar broke out to new trading highs and appears to be ready to run as Euro holders flee to the safety of the dollar.


Dream on.

Frankly what X is saying is correct.
The US can inflate (money print) herself into oblivion if she so chooses - and pay her debt from one day to the other in a blaze - obviously with consequences....
Greece can't!

I agree that we are looking at default or inflation on a global scale:

In the world, at the limits to growth
by David Korowicz

. . . across the political spectrum, people are claiming solutions for a predicament that cannot be solved . . .

What everybody wants and needs is a sudden and explosive increase in the production of real goods and services (GDP) to make their continual debt requirements serviceable. But that, even were it remotely possible, would require a big increase in oil flows through the global economy, just as global oil production has peaked and begins its decline. It cannot happen. This means that the global financial system is essentially insolvent now.

The only choice is default or inflation on a global scale.

X and I are talking short term differences, which are huge in US' favor due to controlling her own fiscals/currency- as compared to Greece
You and Korowicz are talking longer term (?) scenarios- and of course I agree with you both. The modern free-market capitalism included the Fiat-money system will follow crude oil all the way in ... and finally be put to sleep next to the Dodo.
The banking system will be reset - starting now - and simplified back to the good ol' days style. IMHO

That is because we are dependent upon, and interwoven with, the globalised economy. And the globalised economy cannot stand the convergence in real time of constraints in its primary enabling energy resource-oil; its primary human constraint-food, and loss of trust in the credit that makes economic life possible. This convergence marks the end of economic growth, and initiates powerful destabilising shocks and stresses to the globalised economy.

Great article wt. Particularly like the above convergence summarization.

What everybody wants and needs is a sudden and explosive increase in the production of real goods and services

One thing I believe will happen as D2 (Depression 2) deepens is a change in the demand for goods and services. Most of the current demand for trivia will vanish, as will the malinvestment made to produce it, which will crash the GDP. But hidden by that plummeting GDP will be an increase in demand for non-trivial goods and services.

People are going to have to become individually more productive, which means doing more for themselves, replacing goods and services previously obtained from the wider economy. Most people have little in the way of tools, facilities and equipment for being physically productive (ie. making or transforming materials). For example, if everyone suddenly needed to start growing vegetables, demand for gardening tools would increase. Demand for quality would also increase as the poor quality tools currently available fall apart when used for real work.

There will also be a likely demand for existing things to be repaired and hacked to increase their usefulness. Garages, sheds, spare rooms, driveways and gardens will become production facilities and service centres. So there will be an explosive increase in the production of goods and services, but it won't be used to service debt, it will be circulating in the grey economy, outside the reach of the existing system. The Government will likely try to crush the grey economy and in the process further alienate the people and increase the scope and size of the black economy instead.

"Garages, sheds, spare rooms, driveways and gardens will become production facilities and service centres. So there will be an explosive increase in the production of goods and services, but it won't be used to service debt, it will be circulating in the grey economy, outside the reach of the existing system."

Could not agree more. A good description of the approaching economy. It is the worst nightmare of a central government because it means the complete removal of things to tax and the eventual demise of large government.

One trouble with that sort of thinking is that most such things are difficult-to-impossible to hide from an ever-growing army of "inspectors" backed up by an ever-metastasizing array of "regulations". And there'll always be at least one nosey neighbor to file a complaint...

I agree that we are looking at default or inflation on a global scale:

The problem for Greece is that they don't have the inflation option any more. The USA does.

Maybe the USA (in the guise of Paul Krugman?) only thinks it does. Let's see, debauch the dollar, oil and other imports rocket skyward; economy tanks. Then try price controls à la Richard Nixon; severe shortages (since so much more supply comes from outside US jurisdiction than in 1974) ensue, causing economic thrombosis.

At the very least, you'd have no little trouble finding the precise sweet spot where the benefits might outweigh the costs. Throw in a few typically crooked politicians selling free lunches, and that wouldn't be just a bit of trouble, it would be a flat-out impossibility. You'd be guaranteed to overshoot any sweet spot by light years.

Greece is the first domino. US (or maybe Switzerland) will be the last domino. They are already restricting gold purchase by individuals in Europe. How long before it happens in the US? Time is running out: http://www.shtfplan.com/precious-metals/banks-governments-move-to-restri...

The Greek problem relates to a flawed Euro. The Euro is a currency without a country to back it up. Greece has no fiscal policy because it uses the Euro. So the only thing it can do is impose austerity to pay off debt. This does not work. Austerity by governments leads to more debt problems not less

Greece has defaulted before, without the Euro. I see a similarity in the problems of Greece and the US, and that is that their political frameworks are not conducive to reforming the tax frameworks. Greece and the US alike would need to broaden their taxation bases and do away with any number of tax breaks to be able to balance their budgets. Greece has the additional problems of too low retirement ages and too much corruption and black markets, though.

Too much emphasis is put on the Euro and the ability of governments to inflate their way out of debt. It simply isn't that easy. If they start to inflate, their rents will go sky high and that will increase the deficit of the government budget and also push home-owners from their houses when their mortgages' short-term rents soar. And if a government defaults, it will need to balance the budget anyway since nobody would like to lend them money to finance a deficit. There simply is no easy way out, with or without the Euro.

So, the key issue is having the political strength to make tough decisions regarding taxes, but also entitlements. Greece could, in theory, balance more or less today, introduce a surplus even, and it would hurt temporarily but would be great for the future. They won't, though, and that's the problem.

EU is not thretened by this. But the EMU is. EMU is the economic cooperation of the EUmember states. It comes in three levels. Sweden is participating in EMU 1 and 2, but not 3. Level 3 is the common currency.

When, not if, Greece send in the notice, EMU have problems. Either Greece is kicked out, or the whole system takes the blow. Bet your money on what path you think they will take.

EU is about lots more things. I do not need - theoretically - a passport when moving around within the 27 states, I can move and settle in any nation of my choise without asking for permission, and a bunch of other things. We even have a parlament.

Many people fear the EU will develop into USE. It may happen so.

Americans fear oil thirst will lead to greater tragedy.


Arctic sea ice is melting at its fastest pace in almost 40 years
The Northwest Passage was, again, free of ice this summer and the polar region could be unfrozen in just 30 years

I don't know what total volume of ice 100 square miles of surface area represents but it sure sounds like it melted PDQ.


Arctic sea ice is melting at its fastest pace in almost 40 years
The Northwest Passage was, again, free of ice this summer and the polar region could be unfrozen in just 30 years.

Actually, if some unknown factor which blocks summer melting does not appear in the next couple years we could see a complete Arctic meltout by 2015.

Take a look at this graph. The dotted lines are remaining volume at the end of each month for years 1979 through August of this year.


The curved lines are 'best fit' lines, follow them along and look where they hit bottom/zero. The black line is the September line. Like other months this year that line will be recalculated and will most likely hit between 2014 and 2015. The dashed lines were the best fit before this year's data was added.

I've asked around and no one has come up with a reason why the trend will not continue. Of course there could be weird weather that changed the date a year or two, but if things go as they have been....

That graph in particular really drives the point home of Arctic ice decline. What albido effects will kick in as some of those lines hit bottom? At what point in that downward trajectory will the ice cap over seabed methane disinterate? It's already releasing more methane yoy.

Yep that graph is worrisome and then there's the other time bomb down South waiting to go off. The Amazon Rain Forest, unfortunately it doesn't get as much coverage as the proposed calthrate gun or sea level rise hypothesis (Even on TOD it doesn't get as much coverage) even though it's the single largest stretch of Eco-system for the entire world. There have been two 100-year droughts in a span of five years already with more to come and that's on top of all the illegal logging going on.


My guess is once the methane gun goesoff in the Arctic, the Amazon will burn. The methane gun is waiting or its own triggering point to be reached, the ice free Arctic ocean. We are watching the first domino wobble alarmingly as we speak.

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I've asked around and no one has come up with a reason why the trend will not continue. Of course there could be weird weather that changed the date a year or two, but if things go as they have been....

The climate is dynamical so we also don't know if there is a reason for that trend to continue. My guess is that the 2030 ice-free date based on extent will prove correct. If that is true, we could have a stable volume for a decade or so.

Is the US really going to do away with corn ethanol subsidies? Hard to believe they would do the right thing for once.I just read this article but cant seem to find much else collaborating the dropping of the corn subsidies.What do you guys know?

U.S. Biofuel Industry Prepares for Life Without Subsidies.


By law, the ethanol subsidy expires at the end of this year. The subsidy consists of a 45-cents per gallon tax credit to refiners for blending ethanol with gasoline and a 54-cents per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. I think there are other minor subsidies that aren't normally discussed that also end such as a tax credit to small ethanol refiners.

The ethanol blending law is separate from the subsidy law and does not expire. Gasoline refiners must continue to blend ethanol with gasoline. 2011 requires 12.6 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and this increases to 13.2 billion gallons in 2012. The 2012 increase adds another issue because that much 10% gasoline can't be sold. Discussions are underway regarding requirements for a 15% blend.

Congress will need to pass legislation for the subsidy to continue next year. The current Congress appears unlikely to pass this legislation.

I've seen it several places.

My guess is that both the price of food and fuel is high enough to support elevated corn prices and the subsidy was traded away in some of the financial dealings that went on behind closed doors.

Le Figaro: 1 killed in explosion at nuclear plant in southern France

French nuclear safety body says an explosion has rocked nuclear plant in southern France, the Associated Press reports.

Update at 8:03 a.m. ET: Le Figaro quotes a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Commission as saying that "right now" there has been no radioactive leak to the outside.

Update at 7:57 a.m. ET: The BBC quotes Le Figaro newspaper as saying one person was killed and three injured in the explosion following a fire in a storage site for radioactive waste.

The BBC also quotes media as saying there is a risk of a radioactive leak from the accident, which occurred in France's Gard region.

The site is so sensitive that it has been pixelated on Google http://maps.google.com/maps?q=cea+marcoule&hl=en&ll=44.143999,4.706483&s...


Marcoule (French: Site nucléaire de Marcoule) is located in the Chusclan and Codolet French communes, near Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard department, which is in the touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region.

Since 1956, Marcoule is a gigantic site exploited by the atomic energy organization Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA) and Areva NC. The first industrial and military plutonium experiments took place in Marcoule. Diversification of the site was started in the 1970s with the creation of the Phénix prototype fast breeder reactor, and is nowadays an important site for decommissioning nuclear facilities activities.

Since 1995, the MELOX factory produces MOX from a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides. MOX is used to recycle plutonium from nuclear fuel; this plutonium comes from the COGEMA La Hague site.

The ATelier Alpha et Laboratoires pour ANalyses, Transuraniens et Etudes de retraitement (ATALANTE) is a CEA laboratory investigating the issues of nuclear reprocessing of nuclear fuel and of radioactive waste.
[edit] Reactors

The site housed a number of the first generation French UNGG reactors, of which have all been shut down. Since then, it has also operated a pressurized water reactor that was used for the purpose of producing Tritium. Cooling for all of the plants has come from the Rhône river.

EDIT: France 24 (tv) just repeated that "there is a risk of a radiation leak"

"which is in the touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region."

Which is in the formerly touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region.

Unconfirmed reports on twitter say that the explosion occurred at a furnace for low level waste, not the high level reprocessing facility. Let's hope that's true and the situation is contained.

I truly do hope so.

Tweets point finger at this site (Google translate) http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://fr.wikipedi... in the Marcoule complex

The nuclear waste treated Centraco are very low, low and intermediate (TFA, FMA), they come from the nuclear industry (mainly from EDF and from Areva ), research centers ( Atomic Energy Commission ) , and small producers such as hospitals.

However some tweets say otherwise. Hopefully will become clearer soon.

Because the working reactor is military, the BBC and presumably other news sites say there are no working nuclear reactors on site.

Nuclear reactors only exist for peaceful purposes, unless they are in Iran.

Hope this is not a serious leak, because we will have no way of telling, until independent monitors start blogging on the web.

"Nuclear reactors only exist for peaceful purposes, unless they are in Iran."

That's a good one! :-)

I thought the reactors represented the Devil and the spent fuel rods represented all 9 planes of Hell at Fukushima.