Drumbeat: September 19, 2011

West needs to do more to head off recession says Opec chief

Western nations need to do more to bolster their economies and stem unemployment, said the head of Opec.

The spectre of a double-dip recession in the US and political deadlock over the European debt crisis is threatening oil producers, said Abdulla el Badri, the secretary general of Opec.

"It's really hampering the demand for oil," he said today in Dubai. "That stimulus package is not really working. Something must be done to introduce new manufacturing, new activities [so] it can solve unemployment."

Gulf likely to trim oil output as Libya recovers-Badri

(Reuters) - Gulf OPEC countries will likely gradually decrease their output as Libya's production recovers towards pre-war levels after raising output to compensate for the Libyan loss, the oil group's Libyan Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said on Monday.

Crude Drops to One-Week Low as OPEC Signals Oil-Demand Growth Is Slowing

Oil fell to a one-week low in New York on speculation fuel demand will falter as economic growth in the U.S. weakens and the debt crisis in Europe worsens. Brent oil’s premium to U.S. futures widened.

Crude dropped as much as 1.8 percent after European finance ministers ruled out using stimulus measures to spur the economy. OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said today that global demand for oil is rising less than expected. Reports this week may show U.S. home sales held near the lowest this year and construction fell. Government data last week showed U.S. fuel use shrank.

LNG Price Boom Seen as Japan Vies With China While Exxon’s Shipments Grow

Liquefied natural gas prices are surging to a three-year high as demand from Japan, China and India outpaces supply increases, boosting sales for producers from BG Group Plc to Exxon Mobil Corp.

Record Japanese imports to replace nuclear power after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster, plus a 27-percent jump in China’s first-half purchases, may send prices to about $20 per million British thermal units this winter, up 71 percent from 2010 and the highest since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The world’s spare production capacity shrank about 50 percent this year as consumption grew, and will continue to decline through 2014, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. says.

Hedge Funds Cut Bullish Bets on Commodity Prices Amid ‘Contraction Fear’

Funds cut their bullish bets on raw materials for the first time in five weeks on speculation that demand for food, fuel and metals will decline as the European debt crisis deepens.

In the week ended Sept. 13, speculators lowered their net- long positions in 18 commodities by 5.2 percent to 1.21 million futures and options contracts, government data compiled by Bloomberg show. That was the first drop since early August. Funds slashed bullish bets on copper by 91 percent, and became bearish on wheat for the first time in four weeks. Wagers on rallies in gold, corn and gasoline also were reduced.

Energy-rich Turkmenistan boosts natural gas export capacity, Iran most likely to benefit

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan’s state newspaper says the energy-rich Central Asian nation has started up a new natural gas compressor station, boosting its annual export capacity by 2 billion cubic meters.

The daily Neutral Turkmenistan reported Monday that the gas will be fed into the Central Asia-Center 3 pipeline, which is linked into supply routes to Russia and Iran.

Turkish navy could escort exploration ships off Cyprus

(Reuters) - Turkey called on the Greek Cypriot government on Monday to halt immediately gas exploration work off Cyprus with Texas-based Noble Energy and said the Turkish navy might escort Turkish energy exploration ships in the Mediterranean.

China invests billions in Canada oil sands

FORT McMURRAY, Alberta - As U.S. companies look toward oil riches in northern Canada, they're encountering increasing competition - as well as some much-needed cash infusions - from the Far East.

U.S. and Canadian companies have dominated Alberta's oil sands for decades. Now, though, Chinese firms are rushing to snap up Canadian oil sands resources and invest in ongoing projects - to the tune of $15 billion in the past 18 months in Alberta alone.

UN Drops Sanctions on Libyan Oil Companies, Eases Restrictions on Banks

The United Nations Security Council dropped sanctions today on two Libyan oil companies and eased restrictions on four banks in a move to boost the nation’s recovery from the war that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

NYC appeals court puts Chevron lawyer on defensive

NEW YORK (AP) — Judges on a federal appeals court put a lawyer for Chevron Inc. on the defensive Friday, expressing skepticism that a Manhattan judge can shield the company from an $18 billion judgment in Ecuador for contaminating the rainforest.

Analysis: Conoco spill heightens scrutiny of offshore China

(Reuters) - China is clamping down on offshore oil drillers after a spill by U.S. firm ConocoPhillips in Bohai Bay, requiring tighter controls in a campaign to beef up environmental protection standards ordered by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Learsy: The Oil Market Plays Casino While the Obama Administration Acts as Croupier

It is breathtaking in exposing the administration's total lack of understanding or worse, willful misreading, of the distorted formation of the price of oil and gasoline in today's markets and seemingly impervious to its cost to the economy and its destructive impact on jobs.

'The Quest': A review of Daniel Yergin's epic oil tome

As Americans build bigger and bigger mansions, design taller and taller skyscrapers, drive larger and larger SUVs, power more and more appliances, and citizens in other nations such as China develop residential and commercial needs that expand each year, can the Earth yield enough oil to fuel such growth?

Daniel Yergin is an expert on such matters, and he says the answer is yes, at least for a long, long time. At the end of 2009, "The world's proved oil reserves were 1.5 trillion barrels, slightly more than at the beginning of that year," Yergin says in The Quest. He seems certain "that the world is clearly not running out of oil. Far from it. The estimates for the world's total stock of oil keep growing."

Thousands march against nuclear power in Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) — Chanting "Sayonara nuclear power" and waving banners, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo on Monday to call on Japan's government to abandon atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The demonstration underscores how deeply a Japanese public long accustomed to nuclear power has been affected by the March 11 crisis, when a tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

Japan promises to enact new global nuclear safety plan

Vienna - Japan is striving to implement a new global action plan on nuclear safety, the country's Energy Minister Goshi Hosono told member nations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Monday in Vienna.

Weeks after quake, town near nuclear plant remains rattled

The quake Aug. 23 rocked the plant more than it was designed to handle — something that had never happened before at any of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors.

North Anna, 90 miles southwest of the White House, is emerging as a test case for the nuclear industry as it faces increased scrutiny. A presidential task force recommended stricter quake-readiness standards after a quake and tsunami caused meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March.

Siemens Stops Building Nuclear Reactors as Germany Pulls Atomic-Power Plug

Siemens AG (SIE) said it abandoned a planned return to the nuclear-power industry, following the German government in its retreat from atomic energy in the wake of the reactor catastrophe in Japan earlier this year.

Nuclear bans build case for EU energy cooperation: report

(Reuters) - Plans by Germany and other EU states to abandon nuclear power because of concerns aroused by the disaster in Japan increase the need for joint action and magnify the bloc's problems over security of energy supply, a discussion paper said.

Chinese Protesters Accuse Solar Panel Plant of Pollution

BEIJING — In a fresh indication of growing public anger over pollution, hundreds of demonstrators in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang on Sunday were camped outside a solar panel manufacturing plant that stands accused of contaminating a nearby river.

Long drive to a green future

When it comes to alternative energy, China is following the pattern established in many other sectors and is not doing things by halves.

Long known for its acute dependence on coal, which is used to generate more than 70 per cent of the country's electricity, China is investing billions in hydro, wind, solar and other forms of non-fossil fuel energy, keen to burnish its image after becoming the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2009.

No new oil sands emissions rules this year: Peter Kent

Ottawa will not bring out new rules for greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands this year, contrary to what Environment Minister Peter Kent said in May.

Mr. Kent said in an interview that the government is “in the early consultation stage” with the oil sector and “won’t have regulations immediately.” He said the process was slowed down by last spring’s election and budget negotiations.

Venezuelan Oilmen move to Columbia after Chavez


IMHO, their success has less to do with the people and more to do with a generational civil war quieting down and allowing oil exploration to happen. The former PVDSA employees moved to a frontier oil region - such frontiers are becoming more and more rare.


So who'll mine the gold?

Chavez Nationalizes Nation’s Gold Industry Amid Soaring Prices for Bullion

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the nationalization of the gold industry and gave companies 90 days to form joint ventures with the state as he seeks to boost control over the nation’s metals producers.

The government will hold at least 55 percent of any joint ventures, according to a decree in today’s Official Gazette. The decree sets a royalty rate of 10 percent to 13 percent and says that all Venezuelan gold production will be sold to the state...

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, is forming joint ventures with both state and publically traded companies to operate mines including Las Cristinas, which Chavez confiscated from Canada’s Crystallex International Corp.

“The government will have a monopoly of gold production and sales,” according to the decree. “All the gold that is produced from mining operations in national territory will be turned over to the Republic.”

Meanwhile, Hugo is on a chemo-cation in Cuba, his fourth.

Kunstler comments on magical delusional thinking and Yergin:

...The first comes from the oil industry's leading prostitute, Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), owned by the mammoth HIS consulting company. CERA is the main public relations shop for the oil industry. Its mission is to blow smoke up America's ass in order to keep investment dollars flowing into oil companies ...

So, last week Daniel Yergin came out with a blast in the Wall Street Journal affecting to debunk peak oil. His own theory is much like Irving Fisher's economic theory set out October 21, 1929 that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Three days later, the markets crashed and the Great Depression commenced. Yergin says we've hit a permanent plateau for oil production. He is pimping for a bonanza in shale oil, tar sands, and other innovative ventures in picking "fruit" that is not hanging so low anymore.

He holds Goldman Sachs in similar regard:

So, the second big buzz of the week came courtesy of Goldman Sachs, in a sloppy press release saying America would be the world's top oil producer in 2017, at 10.9 m/b/d. The effrontery of these thieving pricks! They apparently pulled the information out of chief Goldman flak Lucas Van Praag's ass. One might infer that Goldman Sachs is campaigning to raise money for the oil industry by suggesting a bonanza is underway. It's a crude ruse.

Crude, indeed...

The Energy Bulletin has links to several rebuttals. One of my comments follows:

The EIA shows that global annual crude + condensate production (C+C) has been between 73 and 74 mbpd (million barrels per day) since 2005, except for 2009, and BP shows that global annual total petroleum liquids production has been between 81 and 82 mbpd since 2005, except for 2009. In both cases, this was in marked contrast to the rapid increase in production that we saw from 2002 to 2005. Some people might call this "Peak Oil,” and we appear to have hit the plateau in 2005, not some time around mid-century.

Note that at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in global C+C production, we should have been at 86 mbpd in 2010, versus the 74 mbpd that the EIA shows for 2010. The average global production rate for 2006 to 2010 was 73.3 mbpd, versus 73.8 mbpd for 2005 (and 2005 production was impacted by Gulf Coast hurricanes in the US).

Only if we include biofuels have seen a material increase in global total liquids production.

Including biofuels with the total C+C production grossly overstates the useful quantity of energy available. First off, ethanol has less energy per barrel than oil, so the gross sum overstates the energy available. Secondly, the low EROEI of biofuels means that a significant fraction of the conventional C+C is used simply in producing and delivering the biofuels to market. Thus, there is double counting when the fuel used to produce the biofuels is included in the total with the barrels of biofuel.

Thus, Yergin's graph of Global production overstates the amount of useful energy provided to the other sectors of the world economy other than the energy production sector. The remaining quantity of net energy is likely already in decline, even as Yergin's graph shows an increase in total production...

E. Swanson

If anyone wants to write their own letters to the editor of the WSJ, here is the email link:

wsj.ltrs AT wsj.com

It's probably like trying to put out a raging forest fire by urinating on it, but we might as well try to do what we can to present the actual data.

You may be right, but we can't assume that was the peak. There is no way to separate out the reduction on the demand side caused by the global economic recession. When the economy picks up again, we'll see how much demand there really is.

On the other hand, if production has already peaked, perhaps the economy and demand can never return to it's former level. Catch 22... it's all guess work.

Post-2005, annual US oil prices have so far all exceeded the annual price of $57 that we saw in 2005, and four of the past five years have shown year over year increases in oil prices. As noted up the thread, the post-2005 plateau in crude oil and total petroleum liquids production is in marked contrast to the very rapid increase in production that we saw from 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices.

As they say, frequently the simplest explanation is the best.

And then we have the net export situation. Following is Sam Foucher's "guess work" for the top five net oil exporters in 2005. Actual data through 2006 are shown, along with Sam's projections, basically low case, middle case, high case. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 data points are circled. The BP data base shows a top five net export decline to 20.8 mbpd in 2010, versus 21.0 mbpd in 2009 (versus a peak of 23.7 mbpd in 2005).


You are still making big assumptions and ignoring economics. That's good for religion but bad science. FAIL!

Economics says that supply will equal demand, moderated by price.

Do you believe that it is saying any more than that?

All I can do is point out that we have seen rising production and net exports in response to rising oil prices from 2002 to 2005, but flat production and declining net exports in response to generally rising oil prices from 2005 to 2010, with Chindia taking a rapidly increasing share of what is net exported globally. This is similar to what we have seen in regional peaks.

Note the response of Texas and North Sea crude oil production to rising oil prices, relative to 1972 and 1999 respectively (oil prices on vertical axes, with production on horizontal axes):


It's funny how much I can agree with and despise a person at the very same time.

Kunstler just revels in his Adolescent outrage.. while I'm sure I'm no less outraged than he is over Yergin and the globs of Yummy, Useless Nougat that dribble from CERA's press releases- I am just despairing that one of our 'champion voices' is out there flinging poo like a Chimpanzee, doing nothing more to dislodge Yergins 'gray area' supporters, and instead making Our Side look just like the enflamed fools that Yergin and Co love to paint us as.

It's not all that different from the Protests at Chinese PV plants, is it? Here we have an electricity source that CAN be produced in a clean and safe way at the plant, and then performs absolutely clean out in the field, and China in its unblinking zeal goes and lets that industry turn right around and stab itself in the heart of its best argument.

Kind of reminds me of my fave slogan from Animal House..
"We can do anything we want! We're college students!"

(by the way, I'm not saying the PROTESTERS in China are the problem, but the Chinese industry which has allowed the PV process to be handled so carelessly as to undermine the product's key advantage)

Thanks for clarifying. If someone was dumping tons of toxic chemicals into a river I depended on I would be pissed off, even if it was a unicorn factory.

"I am just despairing that one of our 'champion voices' is out there flinging poo like a Chimpanzee.."

Funny, Bob. I had a summer job many years ago delivering feed to the Yerkes Primate center in Atlanta, and we had to cart bags of feed between some of the outdoor cages to the storage room. We were provided with raincoats and hats, and had to cover our carts with tarps to avoid the flying chimp poo. I could tell that delivery day was the highlight of these chimp's week. It's funny only because there was an older chimp there that the attendant called Big Bad John. He was obviously proud of his accuracy, rarely missed his target, and it seemed he saved up his "ammo" just for our weekly visit. He was a smart, unapologetic soul. Sound familiar?

Thank you for the laugh. Great story, even better because I'm familiar with Mr. Kunstler's work.

As a side note, if anyone is feeling all superior and think chimpanzees are cute, silly animals, just check out how they act in social groups (Google: chimpanzees attack). Be prepared to be shocked.

Very familiar, thanks G!

I have a feeling that I'm in dangerous waters comparing to Animal behavior at all, as I don't really know 'Why the caged chimp flings..', as it were. It may be a really effective piece of their behavior and not loaded down with all the Potty-training baggage that I inherited.

But for all I know, even JHK's digital mouse-droppings might have a real and positive effect as well. It's possible.. but I think I'll angle for a road less trammeled.


Kunstler is obviously middle aged or even past, and I don't find his outrage adolescent. It's a bit arrogant, yes.

To be sure, most doomers tend to be either single/childless or unaccomplished males. Which makes sense, if you think about it. The breeders are too busy providing for the brood, and the alpha males are too busy basking in the limelight.

Look to disaffected males the world over to know what's going on. They're the prophets of today's age.

His rhetoric is thoroughly adolescent, Oilman.

I know he's not in his teens anymore, which makes such outbursts that much more unfortunate. His 'tuff as nails' allusions to dirty butts, prostitutes and more butts is pretty much the same machismo-magnetism as is used by the Gravelly-Voiced NASCAR promos that he loves to spurn in his fiery sermons..

"Look to disaffected males the world over to know what's going on."
- Good God. I hope you don't really believe that.

C'mon, Bob. Maybe he's just preaching to a different choir. After all, much of the population is "thoroughly adolescent".

I know, I know. I have high expectations..

letting it go... for now.

It's his style. I find it refreshing (and humorous) after reading so much mainstream speak. Do try to get over it :-)

Sorry, but as I said above, the problem I have with it is that it's TOO mainstream.

As Dr. Strangelove put that gentle irony.. "There's no fighting in the War Room!"

To be sure, most doomers tend to be either single/childless or unaccomplished males.

I don't think that's true at all. IME, doomers here tend to be very accomplished, and married or with long-term partners. They often have children...but they're grown. This site skews old.

Thank you.

It's not all that different from the Protests at Chinese PV plants, is it? Here we have an electricity source that CAN be produced in a clean and safe way at the plant, and then performs absolutely clean out in the field, and China in its unblinking zeal goes and lets that industry turn right around and stab itself in the heart of its best argument.

The story is less a function of 'solar bad' than 'the US of A Corporations did that kinda thing and eventually got the EPA'.

dd is full of cheery news today:


300 people killed, millions affected in Pakistan floods

Persisting drought in Arkansas plagues hay farmers

Native New England cottontail rabbits disappearing

Extinction looms for last resident killer whale pod in Scottish waters

Rising seas expected to wash out key California beaches

Scientists rescuing minnows from Texas river as drought threatens their ability to reproduce

Texas drought worsens from ‘abysmal’ – Hottest three months ever recorded in the U.S.

Over 1,000 Somali refugees a day pouring into Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp


But if that is all too overwhelming, you can also read about a standing mystery that seems to have been solved:


"‘Missing’ global heat may hide in deep oceans"

The mystery of Earth's missing heat may have been solved: it could lurk deep in oceans, temporarily masking the climate-warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported on Sunday.

Climate scientists have long wondered where this so-called missing heat was going, especially over the last decade, when greenhouse emissions kept increasing but world air temperatures did not rise correspondingly.

The build-up of energy and heat in Earth's system is important to track because of its bearing on current weather and future climate.

The temperatures were still high -- the decade between 2000 and 2010 was Earth's warmest in more than a century -- but the single-year mark for warmest global temperature was stuck at 1998, until 2010 matched it.

The world temperature should have risen more than it did, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research reckoned.

They knew greenhouse gas emissions were rising during the decade and satellites showed there was a growing gap between how much sunlight was coming in and how much radiation was going out. Some heat was coming to Earth but not leaving, and yet temperatures were not going up as much as projected.

So where did the missing heat go?

Computer simulations suggest most of it was trapped in layers of oceans deeper than 1,000 feet during periods like the last decade when air temperatures failed to warm as much as they might have.

This could happen for years at a time, and it could happen periodically this century, even as the overall warming trend continues, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean," NCAR's Kevin Trenberth, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. "The heat has not disappeared and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences."

One consequence could be (is ?) an upwelling of colder, deeper water in the central Pacific, creating La Nina's - of recent drought and flood note.


I wondered about that, too. But it might be the other way around (or both ways at once?)--I would expect that La Nina's have a dramatic cooling effect on the whole planet's atmosphere. If we have more of them, it will continue to cool the air. (Oceans, being far denser than air, can hold much more heat than the atmosphere.)

I can't quite see how the warming triggered that, but it would be a welcome negative feedback, if true.

Of course, as Trenberth notes, the heat doesn't disappear. If it has taken to the deep ocean, eventually it may return, perhaps then putting GW into hyperdrive?

Of course, as Trenberth notes, the heat doesn't disappear.

Probably, the southern oscillation cycle, represents the storing and releasing of heat in the ocean. So, unless they are accompanied by changes in the radiative balance (which are not observed), the heat is inded being stored. I wouldn't call in a beneficient feedback, its really an intertemporal distribution of the extra heat, less for us today, but more for (some) tommorrow. But, it helps to feed denial, which means we are even less likely to do anything about the cause.

"But, it helps to feed denial, which means we are even less likely to do anything about the cause."

tru dat.

The mechanism might be warmer surface water evaporates more, making it saltier and heavier. Enough for it to sink in one area, creating an upwelling in another area.

Just a thought,


Good point. I posted a question about it over at RealClimate to see what the brainiacs over there have to say about it.

The sinking waters which have produced the deep waters are near the freezing point, which points toward their origin. The THC sinking happens only in a few, rather limited locations, such as the continental shelf area surrounding Antarctica, the Greenland and Labrador Seas and portions of the Arctic Ocean. There's no THC sinking in the North Pacific, as those waters are too fresh to sink below the existing deep layers, much of which originated around Antarctica.

As I have pointed out before, it's conceivable that warm salty surface water could sink, but this prospect would require considerable additional salt content, i.e., much more evaporation and removal of the surface water to different basins. Such might be the result of a cessation of the high latitude THC in the polar North Atlantic, which would then lead to saltier water in the sub-tropical gyre of the North Atlantic, an area which is already the saltiest water of the world's oceans. The deep flow out of the Mediterranean Sea sinks to mid-depth in the North Atlantic, the resulting layer or relatively warm water can be found at a considerable distance from the Straits of Gibraltar.

I hope the "brainiacs" with their PhD's and AOCGCMs come up with a good reply...

E. Swanson

No nibbles over there yet.

(Taps fingers...)

I guess you'll have to do '-)

I would expect that La Nina's have a dramatic cooling effect on the whole planet's atmosphere.

Don't forget the effects of the CO2 from the International Space Station being vented into the Troposphere.

Are you serious?

a) Those gasses is a very small vollume. Authentic russian caviar is one of the few items of food that is more expensive to buy, than to send up to the ISS. They keep down those emissions as much as possible due to economics alone.

b) They will either be blown away by solar wind into space, or sink down to lower levels by time.

This must be the smallest climate driver I have ever heard of.

I have always wondered why they did not select for smaller (mostly women), older (lower metabolism) astro/cosmonauts for the ISS. Less food to maintain them there.

Perhaps the costs up & down were constant/person, but there is no doubt that a light eater would cost less/year. Soon enough, one less resupply mission.


My puzzle is why they haven't sent a lower limb amputee up. At least find out what effect space has on such a body. If there are no issues then that would lead to a great saving in supply costs and maybe reduce the effects of long duration flight.


The report about "missing heat" is from NATURE:

Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods

The study used climate models to simulate the last decade during which the temperature data have shown little or no warming. There's no mention in the abstract of the possibility that the energy never made it to the surface of Earth for other reasons, such as increased air pollution or decreased solar energy at the Top of the Atmosphere (TOA)...

E. Swanson

A question: We've seen the poles warm faster than the lower latitudes (atmosperically). Are the deep oceans warming faster than the surface? Taking this further, are the differential temperatures between deep and shallow ocean levels being reduced, and if so how will this affect thermohaline circulation?

That's a tough question. For starters, is would appear that the Antarctic is not experiencing much warming, except over the Antarctic Peninsula. Secondly, the sinking is associated with the sea-ice cycle. When sea water freezes, there resulting sea-ice has little salt within it, as the freezing process removes most of the salt as brine. The brine below the sea-ice mixes with the other water and then sinks onto the continental shelf below, following the slope over the edge to the deep basins. This mode of sinking also occurs as well in some locations of the Arctic Ocean, but there is another mode involving direct sinking of surface water as it cools to near freezing in the Greenland and Labrador Seas. In those locations, the process is rather local, the result being what's called "convective chimneys", which are conceptually rather like inverted thunder storms in the atmosphere.

These latter events have been difficult to measure and track, since they are found only in the winter months when oceanographic work is exceptionally difficult. I hate to say it, but I don't know much more, since oceanography is not something I've been able to keep up with, given my limited access to the available literature. Here's what was written about the AMOC by Bush the Second's climate science program...

EDIT: The report linked to above by the CCSP begins with a focus on Sandström’s Experiment in section 2.1, an experiment which used a very early physical model (1908) of the vertical circulation of the oceans. I think that experiment missed many very important issues and the prominence given to it by the CCSP illustrates the Bush administration's efforts to downplay the large problem of global warming and the resulting potential for changes to the climate system.

Conceptually, the experiment is presented to prove that the THC depends on heating to force the circulation loop. The trouble with that is that the sinking which we now know happens is the result of gravitational force, which causes the densest waters to sink to the deepest layers. Thus, the THC circulation fills the ocean basins from the bottom up and there's no need for a source of thermal energy to drive upwelling. This should be obvious from the fact that the oceans below the thermocline are rather uniformly cold, as in, near freezing, which is the result of the fact that the THC "fills" the basins from the bottom up. Also, Sandström’s Experiment ignores the effects of wind stress and the dimensions of the experiment do not resemble the actual ratio of vertical to horizontal distances found in the oceans. Wind forcing over large distances drive currents, such as the Gulf Stream, and the wind driven ENSO process periodically brings deeper waters to the surface along the Equator in the Eastern Pacific during La Nina events.

E. Swanson

Results from ARGO (thousands of drifting buoys that measure temperature at various depths) suggest that transport of heat from the surface ocean to the deep ocean is near the lower limit of the range of estimates. If this holds up, it means more heat is staying in the surface, and we risk complete thermal stratification - end of the THC.

Meanwhile, as Black_Dog indicated, another study suggests that there is a lot more in the way of sulfate aerosols in the air than was thought, so less energy has been reaching the surface than assumed. When China completes installing scrubbers on its coal-fired power stations, we can expect the rate of temperature increase to go up.

And one day currents will move those warm waters up to the surface. Now, where does these currents surface? Near the engines of the curents them self; the arctic and antarcitc waters. And when that happen, ice melt will get a boost. Scary thing is, it can just start one year, sudenly and unexpected.

According to Lovelock the heat is masked by the rise in particulate matter which reflects sunlight, so a cut in emissions will only make matters worse right now.


Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This 'global dimming' is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.

Not the optimist we'd like to see

This 'global dimming' is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse.

One upside to the events of Sept 11th 2001 was the ongoing experiment in particulates in the high atmosphere via exhaust of jets was stopped.

Warmer days, colder nights with the less cloud cover.

Changing Attitudes anecdote:

Interesting 3 days just happened for me. I live on a river. Every year my wife hits the road (kids grown) for a weekend in Sept in order for my friends and I to have a weekend of poker, pool, fishing, etc etc. The diet and social habits are not recommended beyond this time frame.

A few years ago I brought up peak oil with stats provided by TOD experts. The reaction was disbelief, basically, a total wall of not being able to accept what I simply believe is inevitable. I am pretty sure my friends hummed the Twilight Zone theme song.

This year, as I am recovering from surgery, they delivered a new wood cookstove (I had ordered to augument my electric range and conventional woodstove), and pronounced it awesome. Before, they would have teased me and my prepping ways. They marvelled over the new root cellar system. They discussed peak oil over scotch as accepted fact. My math buddy brought up the idea of middle class and MC expectations of being a short-lived blip...phenomena, actually. All talked about excess population and as ourselves as part of the excess and problem. All admitted to finite resources, peak oil, and looming downside. Of course the nights were full of fun and jokes, but during the serious discussions and talks, this is the change I witnessed. I was blown away.

For me I was astounded. I couldn't believe it because of past entrenchments in BAU. This group was comprised of trades instructors, high school teachers, shipwright, retired skipper/fisherman, forester of large multi-national. All live in town/city of 30,000 plus. All expressed concern. None believed that change would be delayed much longer. No Prius in the driveway, just trucks...(one muscle car)...but they all car pooled.

This is west coast Canada where the economy is doing well and house prices are mostly stable....static and not selling too well, but stable.

So, the message is indeed starting to travel, not through the media, but through observation and common sense.

I just wanted to share this with those who have encountered 'the brick wall' with friends and family.


Very interesting. Are others having the same experience?

Not quite that level of acceptance, but less apt to be cocksure about BAU continuing. And a little more understanding of my (very different from most of my friends and family) living arrangement.

As the economy stays flat or we indeed dip into Recession 2.0, the tide will continue to turn...

In a word, not much. (Okay, two words.)

I just finished MY yearly camping trip, and my friends-- Ivy-League educated or successful entrepreneur or old money-- are still talking about independent film and other BAU crap that doesn't matter anymore.

Wonderful chaps, a lot of laughs, plenty of wisdom available on personal chimpanzee social issues, but very little awareness of what likely lies ahead when discussed directly.

However, in discussing New York openly and frankly as in decline, this was understood implicitly. The rise of neo-feudalism in some communities was also a topic which I raised and which was not dismissed outright-- wealthy landowners supporting aging farmers and similar trends being observed occasionally in rural areas outside big cities.

But I had hoped to be able to present Alan's papers to people who might actually have some influence, engage in a discussion of the future of rail, do more emergency planning for when we can't travel so much. Discouraged that the timing is not quite right yet.

Keep Trying !

Best Hopes,


Fox has a new series premiering tonight with a lot of promotion - 2 hour initial episode, so it is not just another sitcom.

Premise is that humanity has screwed the earth over terribly. So a group is escaping to 85 million years in the past# - when dinosaurs are still around (I would have picked a few million years after the last Great Extinction, but then no Jurassic Park cameos).

Doomerism with escapism in popular culture.


# To soon to know if there is an emphasis on not repeating the mistakes of the past. I personally doubt that point will be made in the actions of the characters. Surely some leader will say that bromide in the first 15 minutes.

"Fox has a new series premiering tonight.."

It's not showing up on my channel guide, Alan. Got a link? Maybe my local affiliate didn't pick it up. I'm always looking for new doomer porn ;-)

Edit: Terra Nova starts next monday. Must be it. Thanks!

OOPS ! Wrong Monday



Yes, that's it. The Wikipedia entry is here.

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I might watch this for the dinosaurs. I still have a 5-year-old's fascination for the beasties. I loved that recent news story about studying dino feathers preserved in amber. They used to say we'd never know what color dinosaurs were.

I hope you are watching the Science Channel When Dinosaurs Ruled. I record every episode and have watched most of them twice already.

But back to "Terra Nova", I know it's just fiction but I cannot get into time travel shows because the paradox keeps slapping me in the face. You move a pebble on the beach, you set up a new pattern, and you change the whole world. That is everything one does in the present changes everything that happens in the future. If we could go back and change the past then everything in the future of that past would be changed also.

If they were successful in changing the pattern of human behavior, in the past, then we would have an entirely different present, with entirely different people. We would not be here, an entirely different population would occupy the earth.

I know, I know, it's just fiction. But still...

Ron P.

Another time travel problem: all those oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon atoms in your body used to exist somewhere else before they assembled into you. If you go back in time to before your birth, those atoms would be in 2 places at one time. Might hurt.

It would make more sense to go forward in time and review the history books and see who the "key people" are in determining what the future was like, come back and cause a row between the future persons parants, nine months before they due to be born. sorted! ;)

Another way that time travel would disrupt history. No matter how careful travelers were not to change anything -- they'd delay what people were doing. Talk to someone, do something to attract notice, and some people would get home a few minutes later. When they went to bed, different sperm would be involved in intercourse. Even if no history were altered immediately, different people would be born than otherwise would have been, and the effect would spread until all history was changed. True here in spades: You can't do just one thing.

Must say, Darwinian, that I have the same sorts of problems with time travel fiction. Good fiction goes upon the suspension of disbelief, but that's exactly what's difficult in the face of logical difficulties like being the same person both before and after yourself. Plus, of course, the difficulty you mentioned: "if they were successful..."

I would have preferred a "parallel world" that we could reach where an asteroid never hit and killed the dinosaurs. Same time & place - just a different universe.


Then I recomend "Star Gate". They do parallell world stuff all the time. In one funny episode 16 SG teams from different worlds step in through the gate. Funny to see 17 Sam Carter in the same room working on a science problem (how to send everyone back to their own worlds).

If they were successful in changing the pattern of human behavior, in the past, then we would have an entirely different present, with entirely different people. We would not be here, an entirely different population would occupy the earth.

Time travel to the past is definitely fiction, but apparent causality paradoxes are not deal-breakers. The most logically parsimonious interpretation of the reality modeled by quantum mechanics resolves such problems; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation.

Worth a look. While it sounds nuts at first glance, it's what you get by removing the magical thinking of an arbitrary and ad hoc "wave function collapse".

So enjoy the show.

causality paradoxes are not deal-breakers [for time travel into the past]

There still is the paradox of destroying the quantum mechanical notion of the Uncertainty Principle.

All these time travel fictions assume that you can take your information with you (because otherwise you wouldn't be you without your memories).

However, in the past there was a physics-type of Uncertainty about where each atom, molecule, etc. would end up (and no, these are not fungible because each is the product of a specific star having gone supernova at a specific time and each is radioactively decaying).

By taking your recorded knowledge of what-will-be into the past, you violate (or destroy?) the Uncertainty Principle.

That is why the arrow of time cannot go backwards for people who "remember". The uncertainty principle is destroyed by transfer of information into a past that was filled (ripe?) with uncertainty.

footnote imagery: [ i.mage.+]

additional links here and here

I'm not asserting that time travel is plausible. However, in the many-worlds/multiverse class of interpretations the problem doesn't arise since the "past" you'd travel to is not causally connected with the "present" you departed.

It is too causally connected. When you pop into the new universe you bring with you everything that happened before in the other universe.

A paradox quickly emerges if 3 time travelers leave Universe #1 at times T1, T2 and T3
but decide to pop into Universe #2 at respective times t1, t3, t2 (not in the same order!)

on further thought,
all you need is just 2 travelers who swap order of arrival in the new Universe

No, not under the rules of Everett-class interpretations.

But I think that exhausts the time I have to spend on time travel today. I'd suggest reading the link I provided if you'd like to follow up on my points here. Best.

Silly worrywart, one merely needs to include this kit in one's time travel machine:




No wonder I was having such uncertain outcomes in my previous wormhole jumps.

I'll install it before my next leap backwards.

Perhaps that was one of the 5 books that HG Well's Time Traveler took, Title: "Do-It-Yourself Bypass of Laws of Physics"? It had a chapter on how to counter-compensate for uncertainty.

No,paradoxes are only paradoxes on the blackboard, in real life they are truly deal breakers. The paradox of Schrodinger's cat does not solve the problem it only points out that the problem is insolvable. That was Schrodinger's whole point! If you require a splitting universe to solve the problem then you have a real problem, an unsolvable problem.

If you went back in time and killed your father, when he was still a child, then you never existed to go back in time to kill your father. That is an insolvable problem. Posit Schrodinger's cat until the cows come home, it does not solve anything.

Ron P.

Schrodinger's cat inside the box, co-exists with a corresponding "uncertainty" outside the box.

Once you open the box and observe, you destroy the "uncertainty" and you then know if the cat is alive or not.

Shroedinger intended the "cat" thought-experiment to be a "reductio ad absurdum" example of why the implications of QM couldn't be true. He succeeded in showing it absurd, but not in showing that the theorized quantum behavior was untrue.

So far QM has proven to be about the most successful theory in the history of theories, never giving a wrong answer. This may say something deep about the universe, for the conformance of those results with real-world measurements is very real, as real as what Galileo saw through his telescope.

The main objections to the Everett-class interpretation - which I'll pointedly note is the only one which doesn't explicitly invoke magical thinking - are that it is unsettling and counterintuitive.

Quantum weirdness like Shrodinger's cat doesn't 'solve' anything, it's reality, and our current economy could not exist without QM reflecting reality well enough to create sophisticated electronic devices. And if some future theory supplants QM, it will nevertheless have to be consistent with all the results of QM to date.

I recommend reading the supplied link if interested. A lot of top physicists consider it the most tenable interpretation, and being a logical guy you might find you agree with them.


"I cannot get into time travel shows because the paradox keeps slapping me in the face."

That's why I like Connie Willis's take. The past can not be altered as it already happened that way in order for you to be able to get there. Any change you think you might be making is not a change because it already was that way.

If there is somewhere you might be actually able to change something, "slippage" occurs, and you can't actually get there. Historians have been beating themselves ragged trying to get close to the battle of Waterloo, and missing by random times or distances.

By the way, atoms and such are fungible. Now, then, it doesn't matter, carbon is carbon.

One real rule is that you can't be in two places at once, as in no two instances of you. If needed, Time will drop a wall (or other fatal equivalent) on your second instance to make sure that it doesn't overlap the first instance. Even if you can not possibly meet yourself, (ie, one instance in the US, one in France) Time will prevent the temporal overlap.

Good series; Firewatch, Doomsday Book; To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, All Clear.

Every time i see the ad's for it i imagine that someone in that group acidently steps on a proto-mammal and in a blink of a eye everyone disappears.

Ghung - "When scientists unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time".

Can't wait till the episode when they have the battle over forced sterilization/birth control. Go back many millions of years and start growth...imagine what global population would be today if they don't have absolute control over making babies. Of course if they don't have a large enough population to handle the potential wide spread decimation (as noted in our mitochondria record) we saw during man's early reign it will be end of mankind. Be an interesting to watch them attempt balance. And knowing Fox's tendency to go with hot babes I imagine celebacy won't be a major theme. And if population does get out of control I suppose that episode might be called "The Final Solution".

"Can't wait till the episode when they have the battle over forced sterilization/birth control."

Maybe that's why they need the dinosaurs....it's hard to run very fast when clutching a baby or two ;-/

Ron's comment is, of course, pert. The second they actually send a few folks back, the whole idea likely goes POOF!

Temporal paradox (also known as time paradox and time travel paradox) is a theoretical paradoxical situation that happens because of time travel. A time traveler goes to the past, and does something that would prevent him from time travel in the first place. If he does not go back in time, he does not do anything that would prevent his traveling to the past, so time travel would be possible for him. However, if he goes back in time and does something that would prevent the time travel, he will not go back in time. Thus each possibility seems to imply its own negation - a type of logical paradox.

Begs another question: If somehow all of the TOD archives could be beamed back in time, say 50 years, to all of the right people who would act on the information, there wouldn't be a need for TOD in the first place; No Rockman, No Darwinian, No Leanan...... No TOD... Ah, the horror!

Ghung - "If somehow all of the TOD archives could be beamed back in time, say 50 years, to all of the right people who would act on the information". While you're at it why not fantasize about that happening today. Then you can avoid that pair a ducks time travel problem.


... If somehow all of the TOD archives could be beamed back in time, say 50 years, to all of the right people who would act on the information, there wouldn't be a need for TOD in the first place ...

Actually they did sort of. Back in 1977 Jimmy Carter commissioned a report by the Council on Environmental Quality and the United States Department of State, DOD, and CIA which was released in 1980 titled 'The Global 2000 Report to the President'. It covered peak oil and resource depletion, LTG, and World3 on pg 300-400 if I recall correctly. It's likely an earlier classified version was the impetus for Carter's fireside chat and suggestion to convert from FF to nuclear. (didn't hurt that his specialty was nuclear physics)

Didn't do any good. Reagan threw out the study - and here we are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Global_2000_Report_to_the_President you can still find an old copy on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Global-2000-Report-President-Twenty-First/dp/01402...

S - As you point out, the study hasn't been thrown away. It been available to Presidents Clinton, Obama and both Bushes. As well as every R and D member of Congress.

Seems rather hopeless sometimes, eh?

I noted that a pdf of the report is on the Millennium Institute website - an institution I have worked with.


Here is a link to several versions of the report, including the entire 3 volumes of the report (>1300 pages).


I downloaded and skimmed the 'Executive Summary'-type section and skimmed the rest of the Volume I (itself a summary of Volume II).

I wonder if anyone has conducted an analysis of the projections in this report and compared them with actual figures from the time the report was published until now.

Although I concur with the general predictions of the trends such as increased population, etc. I noted a few projections which may have been/will be incorrect:

For example, if I read the one table correctly, the World was projected to have run out of economically extractable reserves of silver, mercury and zinc by 1996, 1998, and 2002...We certainly have not exhausted reserves of these elements yet.

In addition, population was projected to reach 10B by 2030 and 30B by 2100, if trends continued and were able to reach these figures. To my memory, the current UN projections are for population to reach 9-11B by 2050 and as high as 14B by 2100, although lower estimates of 9B and 5.5B were also given in alternate scenarios.

At any rate, I would think it to be useful if the UN undertook continued efforts to make such studies every 5-10 years or so.

Begs another question: If somehow all of the TOD archives could be beamed back in time, say 50 years, to all of the right people who would act on the information, there wouldn't be a need for TOD in the first place; No Rockman, No Darwinian, No Leanan...... No TOD... Ah, the horror!

50 years is long, but if you take 30 then James Hansen comes to mind. In his book Storms of my grandchildren he describes laying out climate change -pretty much as we still know it today- to president after president and their advisory committees without any action.

Anyway, the story behind the discovery of global warming is pretty old. The basic principles are as old as Darwin's theory of evolution...

If only they acted then...

It is a phrase we will hear more often.

I wonder what the OOIP (and coal & natural gas) would be in 85 million BCE ? Some oil predates that epoch, but quite a bit went into the ground back then - or afterwards.


Did the scrip writers resurrect H.G. Wells Time Machine to make the trip?

E. Swanson

So a group is escaping to 85 million years in the past# - when dinosaurs are still around...

Won't most Fox viewers dismiss this outright because they know the earth is only 6,000 years old?


Your thinking of the other Fox Fantasy Network. This is probably the one that has things like The Simpsons and Family Guy on it.


You're probably right... the one with Dancing with the Stars, Who's Your Daddy?, The Littlest Groom and Temptation Island. [Unlike Fox News, this network tries hard not to insult the intelligence of the viewer.]


Well, at least it explains where those dinosaur saddles came from.......

Premise is that humanity has screwed the earth over terribly. So a group is escaping to 85 million years in the past# - when dinosaurs are still around.

Too soon to know if there is an emphasis on not repeating the mistakes of the past.

Or they end up finding out for sure how the dinosaurs get wiped out ;p

The best time travel fiction, in my opinion, ends up with the time travelers causing the thing they are trying to stop, like in a recent episode of Dr. Who where a trip to 1938 Berlin ended up saving Hitler's life. Talk about an historic DOH! moment.

In your 'Back to the Jurassic' fiction, the time traveling humans would end up killing the dinosaurs and ensuring the rise of humans instead of, say, intelligent reptilian creatures. Wait a minute! Maybe that’s where the ghouls that haunt the likes of David Icke come from. Time traveling dino-demons!

I like it.


We have to remember that the whole 'Time-Space Continuum' series of questions is basically trying to have Superman fight Mighty Mouse. "..Superman is a Real Guy", as Vern? says in Stand By Me

That argument is the immediate detour route we end up diverted onto, instead of looking at what a Time-travel story is really about at its core. Like much of the heart of Fantasy and Mystery storytelling, time travel is not about the scientific plausibility of the premise or its 'real world ramifications', but about the psychological truth that we are digging for when we explore an impossible realm.

We are always looking into our past and trying to suss out where we are now in comparison, and where we should head. Do we set up our family the way Mom and Dad did? Did it make sense to farm in small family systems instead of the modern monocrops? Are Humans Smarter than, say, Velociraptors? You've come a long way, baby, or have you?

"If we knew then what we know now... and if that leaves me flat, maybe they did know something THEN that I ought to be reminded of NOW. I wanna go there and find out."

It's not about teleporters, it's about 'being transported'. See? It all still comes down to transportation!

Well, yes. Art mirrors life. Science fiction stories about aliens and monsters are not about aliens and monsters, they are about aliens and monsters lurking in the human psyche. 'Monsters from the ID' as we learned in the 1950's.

Still. It's fun to speculate. One of my favorite speculations about time has to do with the fact that time does not have to only go forward. According to physics (or so I'm told by physicist celebs on the Nerd Network) the equations involving time work just as well with time going backward as they do with it going forward. The math is the same. That got me thinking. Maybe time is really just like the other dimensions. Perhaps the entire universe exists in one state with all moments; past, present, and future; frozen in a single lattice: One big blob of existence in a four dimensional map. This would be kind of a ‘god’s eye’ view where all events and places exist at once. Nothing ever changes. Nothing ever evolves. Nothing comes boldly into being or slips painfully away. There is never any possibility of changing one’s mind, planning for the future, regretting the past, deciding to start again and rebuild. Everything just is.

What we feel is the perception of the passage of time, not the passage itself for the simple reason that time does not pass. There is no time. The perception of the passage of time is another word for the experience of consciousness. Human (or animal) consciousness can only perceive time as going forward because time going forward and perception are the same thing. To perceive it any other way is impossible.

Pretty Zen, eh?


Actually, it IS pretty Zen. Japanese Zen Master Eihei Dogen (d. 1253 CE) says something not totally unlike what you suggest in your final paragraph, JonL, in the "Uji" ("Being-time") section of his SHOBOGENZO (A Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma). Translations of this short piece are readily available in English, e.g., in Philip Kapleau's THE THREE PILLARS OF ZEN.

In Terry Prattchets "Discworld" series, the unlucky wizard Rincewind is sent around in time. He gets back to before life on he Disc, where he drops his sandwich in the ocean. This sets of the evolution of life. Later he come to a city who was famously burnt in a war 1000 years ago. They manage to nagatiate a peace without sacking the city, and then he accidentally drops a lamp and burns down the whole town anyway.

It is logic; if you go back in time, only those choises that don't change the output is allowed to you.
When Fry from Futurama goes back in time, and kill his grandfather with an atomic bomb, he then "comforts" his grandmother, and thus become his own grandfather. Wich leads to that he get a brain missconfiguration (he don't have the "Delta Waves") and is thus imune to thy psycic atack of the space brains, and manages to save the Universe from their plan to destroy it.

Rory: Fiddling with his own time line can destroy the universe.
Amy: But the Doctor has done that already.
Rory: In fairness, the universe was destroyed.


heh but your forgetting that in dr who the dino's did spawn intelligence in the form of homo-reptilious :P

I checked out the trailers. They are, of course, going with a mountain of weaponry. I doubt that means not repeating past mistakes, just exporting them backward in time. They can kill off the dinosaurs without waiting for the asteroid. I'm giving it a pass.

85 million years ago?

65 million years ago - the K-T extinction event. That created 1000+ degree air temps (according to some theories)

So even if humans could ride dinos - hard to make it past the 65 million year old bottleneck.

I'm giving it a pass.

I too get to give it a pass. The TV I bought years ago to interface to a Matrox capture card was made non-functional by government fiat so I have no choice.

dohboi - Sadly not in Texas. Just the opposite if you noticed we raised night time speed limits and bumped day light limits up to 75 mph on many highways. And still a lot of PU trucks driving well above the limit. And $bilions being spent on expanding the highway systems farther into the distant burgs. Excluding the oil patch that has understood PO for a long time, the rest of the population is a far from reality as they have ever been. But perhaps that's because the economy here hasn't been hit as hard and they haven't had a dose of pain/reality like Paulo's friends may have. Or at least their recognition of potential pain.

Human nature I suppose: life is fairly comfortable here and we produce a lot of oil/NG in the state (although much gets shipped out). As has been said before: we have two modes - complacency and panic. Today in Texas our complacency borders on brain dead IMHO.

Is there any mumbling in Houston, or Texas, that the recent heat and continued drought is "unnatural" and perhaps the climate is changing ?

Do you think a close repeat in 2012 and 2013 would change attitudes ?


Alan - Texans know all too well it gets hot here during the summer. It's all natural. That's why God invented AC's and gave us all the oil/NG to run them. Call us back when we have a real problem.

As I've pointed out before trying to tell Texans differently is like trying to teach pigs to roller skate: frustrate you and p*sses them off.

So observing that Dallas has an average of six 100+ degree days/year and 70 days (so far) this year and that Texas rainfall so far this year is a quarter less rain than the driest year 1895 - 2010 has made no impression ?

And something close to 2011 in 2012 & 2013 will have little impact ?

Even with widespread blackouts next summer ?

Not Much Hope for Texans,


Alan - Nope...no big impression. Most Texans don't farm so they don't care as long as their lawns don't die. had enough water in Houston to prevent that. I never had on blackout during the entire summer and I'm not anyone else in Houston did. The worse the water restrictions got in Houston was you couldn't soak your lawn into a mud puddle but twice a week.

You're in Nawlins: does 102 degress with 95% humidity feel much different that 98 degrees and 95% humidity? And if you sitting inside with the AC runing at 74 degrees it doesn't matter much does it. Nope...telling folks in this part of the world that it's going to get hot doesn't garner much attention.

You're in Nawlins: does 102 degress with 95% humidity feel much different that 98 degrees and 95% humidity?

Actually yes. I enjoyed our 92 and 93 F high days this summer - with afternoon thunderstorms many days. But I walk around quite a bit, and ride the un-air conditioned St. Charles streetcar line (Canal & Riverfront are a/c).

Best Hopes for New Orleans,



Agree - here in Austin (actually in the hills west of town) we had 70 days of no rain. And clode to 60 days over 100 degrees, with one day at 111. But lawns are still green. And the countryside is green. I don't think outsiders appreciate that most of the foliage around here has been going through periodic droughts for decades and can deal with it. I even managed to have some record cucumber production in the raised garden, along with squash and eggplant. The tomatoes gave up though.

But the farmers are hurting - and the poor people in Bastrop with the terrible fires. I just drove through there Sunday and it was awful. That was made worse by Bastrop having the only pine forest in these parts. Dry pine trees go fast and furious in a big fire.

Last night for the first time we had a brief hard rain. The family walked outside and just stood in it to remember what it was like. Nice. My family in Deer Park also got a hard rain yesterday. You probably got some in your place?

TE - Yep...good hard rain in Baytown when I left for work at 5 AM. Not nearly long enough. Really tough on the farmers. Haven't heard too much about the ranchers. I wasn't trying to minimize our temp problems here but it's Texas and it was the summer. Hot as hell isn't much different than a little hotter than hell. I understood AGW more than 40 years ago so it wasn't a matter of denial. But I think folks try too hard to sell AGW sometimes. To be honest I'm beginning to find it a bit tedious. In my case they're preaching to the choir. And much of the of the world doesn't care. Even many who understand AGW won't change their ways because they are satisfied with the world as it is and don't care what it will be like for future generations. In fact, as the worst effects of PO arrive I fully expect the world to burn more coal in an effort to maintain BAU.

I'm all for folks fighting the good fight. But have no expectation they'll win.

I, on the other hand, have experienced a much different Texas than either Rock or TE. Everyone I know talks about the drought and the possibility of it being the new norm. And I live 45 minutes from Austin. "The new San Angelo" is what I hear. I serve on the board of a groundwater conservation district and water is a big issue. The Bastrop fires (made all the more intense due to the drought) were devastating. Lake Travis is unrecognizable. The LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) is going to petition the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) for permission to reduce the water sent downstream - which will likely affect rice farmers in the coastal area (there was an article in Saturday's Austin Statesman).

According to weather.com, Central Texas will require either 24-28 inches in 6 months or 15-24 inches in a month. Take your pick. Our annual average is 32.

I've been buying water all summer for my 10thousand gal. rain collection tank. I don't fill it up cuz I'm keeping hoping for rain. It takes 7-8 inches to fill the tanks.

Lots of trees dying. It started looking like fall in August. But yes, there are those who still water their lawns. Trouble is, the way urban has been built out, there is a certain about required to "maintain" it as such.


Here in Florida on the Gulf Coast, even though we haven't had it near as bad as Texas, I think there's been some recognition that the climate was unusually different this summer. We are just now getting to daytime highs below 90 F, the first time since April that has happened. We had many more days over 100 F than normal - in a usual summer, it would happen once or twice or not at all - not a dozen and a half times. And the lack of rain! - the lakes are down - the little creek through the forest in my favorite park that always had water is now dry. Over the last twelve months, we've had just over 30 inches of rain - half the usual amount. Everyone I talk to seems to recognize it, even if they're resistant to the idea that mankind's actions are the cause.

If this is the future, the landscape will look more like the edge of the dry part of Texas than lush Florida in the decades ahead. And what will Texas look like? Nevada? What will Nevada look like? Will anyone be living there to know what it looks like?

Based on Alan's warning of possible, or more accurately probable, rolling blackouts next summer in Texas, if we don't get some heavy rains on a sustained basis, I think that it may not be a bad idea to start looking into a slab mounted gas fired backup generator. I found an item where ERCOT was warning about precisely the same thing (a possible lack of sufficient cooling water for steam turbine power plants).

Power plant troubles go beyond heat and drought

A prolonged drought, looming environmental rules and shortcomings in the incentives for building new power plants could cause even more problems with Texas' electric grid in the next year.

A number of Texas power plants may need to cut back operations or shut down if the drought continues into the fall, as water levels in many plant cooling reservoirs continue to drop, said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

At least one plant already has had to cut back during the record-breaking year for temperatures and power demand. "The bottom line is there's not much we can do absent rain," Saathoff said in an interview. "Cooling reservoirs just aren't being replenished."

I got the following from a Dallas EE I know (through TOD).

As you have noted, elevated temperatures make the entire generation and transmission of transmission of electricity more inefficient and more problematic. As temps rise, all active elements (SCRs, thyristors, IGBTs, etc.) must be derated. We were really struggling the week of 110 (43.3C) degrees. Another week of those temps would have been a disaster. Luckily, we cooled down to 105. The extra 5 degrees makes an immense difference!

Air conditioners at our work were pulling an additional 5 amps of current per circuit making it difficult to prevent circuit breakers from tripping. An extended time of 110+ (43.3+C) weather would be extremely problematic at the component level. I just hope that isn't what is in store for us.

We have a difference of opinion on the risk of smoke and soot from wildfires on HV AC transmission lines. I think it is a greater risk than he does - shorting insulators is my primary concern.

And TOD thoughts ?

Best Hopes for several GW of solar PV, new coastal wind turbines and more GW of conservation by next summer.



Check out picture #15 ... "Insulators on a power line are washed from a helicopter in Galveston, Texas on April 28, 2011. As the prolonged drought causes dust buildup on the lines, electricity distributors are using helicopters to clean equipment to prevent outages. (Ken Childress/CenterPoint Energy via Bloomberg)"

Scary pictures. Looks like a war zone, or something from Ethiopia 1984, or what was lefter after the alien invasion.

And TOD thoughts ?

A 1kW peak PV array, grid-tied, would easily keep a home's 5000btu window A/C running(, and the fridge, too) to reduce the peak utility load on the grid.

Get enough folks to add grid-tied PV, and it might start to offset quite a few percent of peak load ;D

wt - Already have mine but with no NG...had to go gasoline. And a 110 AC will keep enough of the house cool enough to be bearable. Plenty of propane to cook with outside. A week or two would be easy doable. And I could work at a nearby well site if need be. As you know we generate our own e- out there.

But a lot of folks will suffer and a few die. Texas in the summer w/o AC can be hell at best and lethal at worst.

I suppose that the US is going to more closely resemble many Third World countries as time goes on, especially in regard to electrical infrastructure, where those with the means acquire their own backup generating capacity. A family member is married to a foreign diplomat, and when they were stationed in Africa, they finally moved to a compound where all of the homes had backup generators, in order to cope with the frequent blackouts (after she got tired of having to haul a baby up several flights of stairs, when the power went out).

That's a good example of the expense and complexity (and fossil fuels) required to maintain a modern lifestyle in less than modern conditions.

In a decline scenario, you can see how these people garner an increasing share of the available and useful resources (e.g. liquid fuels) for themselves, while the remainder make do with less. And if the money spent by all these people on insulating themselves from power blackouts was spent on grid/generation improvements, there might not be a problem in the first place.

When I used to manage a small ski resort water utility, I had homeowners starting to put in RO filter systems and the like, because they "didn't trust" the piped water, even though it was from an alpine stream, and about as good as you can get. The money they spent, per house, was 2x what it would have cost to put in the most advanced treatment system available. Having a good centralised system becomes an asset for the community, and ups property values and quality of life. Having a system that people don;t trust, where everyone then puts in their own backup, has the reverse effect.

For backup power, I would think I would go for a grid connect solar system, with some battery storage. That way, the system is producing energy and making some money to pay for itself all the time, with the battery being the only component that is exclusively backup. There are versions of the grid connect inverters now that can also function as an "island/off grid" inverter, and will automatically switch when the grid goes down, and back again when it comes on.

Generators are pretty cheap these days, but the cost of a pad mounted unit and the electrical connection, automatic transfer switch etc would probably not be less than a 2kW solar system, and the generators sits there and depreciates, while the solar system will produce revenue for 20+ years.

I was looking at a backup generator as well, and came to the same conclusion. If the generator just sits there it probably won't run when I need it.

After inventorying what I really need to keep running for a 3 day outage, I found I could do it with an inverter hooked up to the truck's alternator. If I decide I need more than that, then it will be solar panels and a bigger trolling motor battery, which has other uses in normal times.

3 days is the maximum likely disaster here. Anything bigger than that and the water system will be down and we'll have to bug out anyway. Or either Mt Rainier or Granite Peak have blown and we are already evacuated or dead by the three day point.

I had a two day outage here in BC last winter, and managed by idling my truck to charge a battery/inverter pack that I have. It is a 50Ah battery with an integrated 1200W inverter, that can run my fridge. I keep it charged all the time, but after it ran out, I hooked it up to the truck, and idled the engine to charge it (and another battery I have for my travel trailer) , and then brought them both inside, hooked up in parallel, and ran the fridge again - then found my long ext cord so could just keep them next to the truck and run the 120v power in. Light was supplied by candles, space heat by the fireplace and hot water was still warm on the morning of the 2nd day for a shower

I could do a more elegant setup, but this did the job, and could have for another day if need be. As long as you don't open the fridge much things stay good.

The solar system would not work too well here - too cloudy and most outages are in winter, but in Tx it would be ideal - highest productivity in the time of year when you are most likely to need it, and a good ROI too.

As the article mentions, the EPA's new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) will go into effect January 1. ERCOT's analysis of the rule stated plainly that if it had been in effect in 2011, they would have had several days of rolling blackouts. They estimate that upwards of 6 GW of coal-fired generating capacity (about 5% of nameplate capacity) will have to be taken off line for parts of the year in order to meet the requirements, unless generators replace large amounts of Texas lignite with low-sulfur coal from Wyoming. That seems somewhat unlikely; I know that a few years back the utility in San Antonio was importing coal from South America because they couldn't get reliable rail deliveries from Wyoming.

Last year Germany installed 7.4 GW of solar PV.

Apply Austin Energy conservation programs to rest of Texas, and cut another 4 GW off demand by July 2012.

Install another 1 GW of wind in coastal Texas.

Problem solved.


All excellent suggestions. OTOH, the Texas PUC, most of the utilities, and all the generators burning cheap Texas lignite seem to be taking the position of "How dare the federal EPA tell us what to do."

>may not be a bad idea to start looking into a slab mounted gas fired backup generator.

Not such a good idea. Both gasoline and natural gas require electricity to pump them. Remember the recent winter cold spell when lots of Texas power plants froze and there were blackouts ... and the rules required utilities to cut off electricity to the natural gas producers, whose gas fed the generators.

Better: PV solar, grid tie with battery backup. Works continuously and sustainably even if everything else goes down.

Even with just the 30% Federal tax credit, PV solar is a safe bond that pays 4% tax free. Can't find that on Wall Street these days.

Alan - Not really. Other than the fires life was pretty much as usual. And most in Houston blame the folks who lost their homes for building in the middle of highly flamable woods. As I mentined before the national media paid more attention to our weather than most of the local.

I think people here in East Texas are little bewildered by the incredibly hot summer we had. As far as peak oil, I rarely hear it discussed but people have cut back on discretionary driving. I know at my daughters school there is more car pooling; some children are driven as far as 30 miles to school. Texas is a very large place coupled with poor planning and the PTB's encouragement of sprawl.The main vehicles are still large pickups and SUVs. This is one reason I moved to town.
I tend to be nonconfrontational about peak oil, I prefer to ride around town on my newly converted electric bike and laugh at the comments like "look he's not pedalling!" Maybe I can sow a few seeds of change by example.

I was asked to give my standard hellfire and damnation speech about global warming-- what individuals could do-- if anything, at a local farmer's fair. I did, but was very surprised that for the first time, I was preaching to the choir. My fellow panelist, a local builder, said the same things I said, with much persuasive detail and local color.

Hey! I can quit all that preaching and just go have fun with all my new solar projects- one of which is an electric beetle retrofit running off PV-- which, it turned out, another guy at the panel had already done all by himself with no publicity- and got a lot of praise for it.

Wow! Hope??

You going up to Common Ground Fair this weekend, Wimbi?

Don't know if that's your thing or not.. but if you're up there Sunday Morning, you might see me with a Video Camera. Working on a Documentary about Growers, Restauranters and Dairy Farmers.. Give me a hello if you see me!


(Spent my daughter's piano lesson sketching out a new wheel-layout for my Velo-Bike-EV this afternoon, and this morning, passing that neighbor's Motorized Kiddy Car, I was wondering about powering some Micro EV by using the motors from 4 of those, one for each wheel. I think I'm getting a little desperate!)


This is becoming a more common solution as it allows all of the gears to be used (mid drives do not). The major drawback is that you can't just cruise without pedaling unless you pull your feet out of the way of the spinning pedals - which may be a non-starter for some people. I'm working on adapting a currie drive to my EZ1 right now (20" rear wheel - Currie came with a cheapo 26"). It seemed like it was going to be the easiest, but having to re-lace the wheel was a pain in the arse and I have to come up with a custom mount solution for the pack, controller and I've extended the throttle cable by 3 feet (she's a long beast). With as much time and dinero as I've put into it thus far (and as cheap-**** as their special double-threaded hub is) I wish I'd gone with a stokemonkey-style from the beginning, but without good options for super gear reduced motors, it leaves only the heavy hub motors like the Stokemonkey uses to get down to the ~300 rpm you need to be in the neighborhood for matching the pedal cadence of 60-80 rpm.

See.. I'm getting stupid again.

My immediate thought is.. 'Geared DC Motors'? Why not try one of those kid-cart motors for this? (and I mean as a power boost, not as a full E-bike solution. They're light, powerful, cheap and abundant..

(But Also, NOISY and made of plastic.. but that's where us home-engineers get to push the boundaries a bit.. make some history!)

I haven't yet been able to work pv into our short to medium term plans, as there are too many other things I still haven't done which pay back faster and require less up front capital.

But I have finished my solar hot water system, and another, smaller project, recently-an outdoor wood fired kitchen range/ food dryer/ grille that works very well and enables us to can our own stuff outside thereby saving heating up the house and burning up a lot of kilowatt hours.We have fire wood out the ying yang, and gathering it is good exercise.

I am thinking about buying a wood fired steam engine capable of producing at least five horsepower or so .

Now I realize such engines are fuel hogs, but we have wood out the ying yang, and I can make use of most of the waste heat a good deal of the time, as I would run it mostly when I could use the waste heat to heat the house or shop or to top off the hot water reservoir.

If this works out, I will have the five mechanical horses driving a generator big enough to run all of our critical homestead infrastructure- the deep well pump, food freezers and so forth. I might well live to see a time when whatever gasoline and diesel I can obtain, if any, are needed for the farm machinery.

If anybody here has any personal experience with such steam engines, I would like to get in touch with them.

As far as a self contained backup generator goes-if others here want to buy one- they should make sure it is well protected from extremes of temperature and especially from moisture, and that they buy a very popular model built by one of the largest and most stable manufacturers.

The odds are actually pretty high that such a generator will be run only a few hours per year , over the next few years, and that insofar as actual wear goes, it will be as good as new ten or fifteen or even twenty years down the road.

Such machines are far more likely to fail due to age related deterioration of electrical insulation, hardened and brittle oil and grease seals, and moisture related corrosion,etc, than from the failure of worn out components. A good dry shed is very good and cost effective insurance.

And when you do eventually need parts and service-well, keep this in mind-I own a Honda that is less than twenty years old, and still good for thousands of hours, but there are already a heck of a lot of "no longer available " entries in the local dealers parts computer.

And Honda is one of the best brands, insofar as parts availability is concerned.


I have not had personal experience with steam engines, but I have looked at them in some detail as an option for small scale (5-100kW) wood to electricity.

The short answer is that you can do it, but it is a lot of work and expense, and fuel, for the power you get. There are people today doing steam powered boats, because they love steam.

Some steam engine links for you;
Mike Browns 20hp steam engine - probably the best steam engine on the market, it is certainly very heavy duty, and capable of actually producing more power still;

These people make a very nice "tandem compound steeple" 14hp engine - being a compound - dual expansion - engine it is more economical on steam, and would pay the extra expense back over a year or two;


Another 10hp compound engine from Australia;

And, probably the most beautiful ones of all, the Tiny Power 10hp compound;


All of these engines run at 150 psi - above that rules and certifications needed suddenly get very involved.
They also run at 500 rpm or so, and would need a belt drive to the generator.

A good, if slightly dated, article about doing home scale steam power;

The biggest challenge with steam will be getting an efficient biomass boiler!

A much more efficient, safer and cheaper way to go is to use a wood gasifier to run an ICE - either a spark engine type or a diesel (with the diesel as pilot ignition).
There are two companies on the west coast that make and sell gasifiers for small engines - 5-20kW, though they are both working on larger models.

But you can buy a complete unit - gasifier-engine-generator - that has been designed, tested and refined, such that these things are now pretty much plug and play. And you can still capture the waste heat from the exhaust and cooling system;

$17k for a 10kW unit, and $26k for a 20kW unit, either of which comes on a 4'x4' frame;


Another option is these guys, who make a very nice looking unit, and use the same Kubota industrial NG engine

They are also the first website I have seen that says they accept gold or silver for payment!

The disadvantage of the gasifiers is the the wood must be in "chunks" - not chips to work properly, which requires a specialised machine, like these - watch the video to see how quickly they chomp a log!


But, since you have a tractor already, and wood coming out the ying yang, this would probably be useful anyway!

By the way, the gasifier guys get about 0.8kWh per kg of wood (air dry) - limited info I can find for small steam engines suggests at least double the wood consumption. I would only go steam if you have an actual use/need for the steam, and/or really love steam engines, in which case you will be in heaven!

Hope this helps,

Paul in BC.

I am very impressed by the gasifier engine above , but way too big for me. I use about 300 watts steady state, and have just got some of those 75cent/watt PV laminates, and am thinking of best way to put it all together- with aim of all off grid, not because I have to but as a demonstration to the locals of what's possible.

Here in the murky hills the experience is that you divide peak watts rating by 8 to get steady state yearly average from PV. So my 1400 watt peak goes to about half what I am presently using. Of course I can cut my use, but still would like a nice chemical energy storage backup, That means wood . But something that can run for weeks, steady. Ha! at last, a real match for my favorite stirling engine.

I just happen to have a 1kW wood fired prototype that never got past the demo stage of commercialization. So that thing, which is happy to run at low power, goes in my workshop to keep the batteries up when the normal gloom descends on the PV. And of course keeps the shop and the batteries cozy.

BtW, this kind of stirling is a sealed very long life design that has no vibration and no noise- ie, domesticated and not excessively annoying to the spouse.

So that's one of the games I am playing at the moment.

Hi Wimbi,

The gasifier's don;t have to be that big, Victory Gasifier has the Hotwatt for running 2-4kW Honda generators;

It would also provide clean hot gas for your Stirling engine too...

Paul. You seem to have a bottomless well of references I like! Hotwatt is interesting as a comparison with what I am doing more or less with junk. Fortunately, stirlings don't much care about the tar, ash, etc, in the gas as long as it's hot. So my wood gas stove made of maybe $50 worth of scrap works fine. I run it with excess air so no-smoke output gas at 1200C.

It is basically two stove pipes sitting on their ends. The first one has the wood chunks gravity fed, the air goes crosswise thru the bottom third, and the gas goes up the ceramic lined second pipe to the heater head and then on out to whatever you want hot, like water. There is a little blower for the primary air.

Brush off the heater head once in a while.

Nother nice thing about stirling. people who come to look at it always say "when ya gonna start it", as it sits there putting out its watts.

So when can I buy one?--when the guys making all the other stuff finally notice that it is better than what they make--that is,maybe never.

Thanks Paul,

I have bookmarked these sites.

I have set aside an older Ford f150 4x4 with the "granny Gear" transmission and 300 cubic inch carbureted six cylinder engine for an eventual conversion to wood gasification.

I suppose I could convert a smaller gasoline engine/ generation combo to wood gasification far more easily.There are many advantages to building a stationary unit, or one mounted on slids or wheels , especially in terms of having the luxury of more working room or space, and not having to avoid blocking the view thru the windshield, or taking up the entire cargo space , or the unit getting to be too heavy, etc.

This project will have to wait until I have a lot more free time, but I have found enough literature on the subject to make a go of the project.

The toughest thing is going in totally green in terms of experience in building such a machine.It would be extremely helpful to actually see a couple of home built units in operation and talk to the guys who built them, but I can't locate anybody who has one within a thousand miles.

I've never yet built anything complicated from a rough plan that would hasn't proven to be been faster , easier, and cheaper to build the second or third time around while working just as well or better than the original prototype.

It's hard to believe that out of the many tens or hundreds of thousands of wood gasifiers built during WWII in Europe, virtually all of them were scrapped-where the hell were the historians, and what were they thinking, while every last one was recycled or left to rust away?

It's really too bad that none were built, sofar as I know, and issued as part of the regular equipment issue by the militaries; had this happened, it's a cinch that hundreds of them would be in collecters hands and running in parades on the Fourth.

This is kind of interesting.

Might help watching the Belcastro family build their version of the wood burning truck.

"Apocalypse PA"
History Channel.

Available as a DVD.

I have seen two WW II wood gasifiers built by Mercedes for sale on eBay. One was noted to be no longer workable due to rusting out.


Actually, some of the information from WW2 has been preserved, and even some of your own taxpayers money was spent by FEMA to develop a "manual" for building them in an emergency;


and more info on people's efforts here;

Cool video of the Imbert gasifier from Sweden in WW2 here - makes it look like just the thing for a Sunday drive;


But, OFM, I would not try to build the Fema gasifier, or develop one from the old plans, as the people at Victory and GEK have already been through that. Both camps have spent the last 3-4 years on this, they have built the fema, the imbert and so on. So they have already doen the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation buiilds.

BUT if you want to build one yourself, then GEK will give you the plans for free - CAD drawings and all!


Then you are building gasifier that has now been built over a hundred times already, and has experienced builders available at the end of an email, not a 40yr old book.

But, if you don't want to start from scratch, they have several levels of kits available - that is why it is called the Gasifier Experimenters Kit.

The basic (they call it level III) kit has had all the parts CNC cut and drilled, and then you do the welding and assembly - takes about five days according to them, and for $1800 I think that is a great bargain


Or, if you don;t want to weld, you can buy the level IV kit, which is welded, and you assemble - $3k and two days.

There are some addons you can buy, like the exhaust heat exchanger/auger to pre dry the fuel and so on.

If you like welding things, that $1800 kit will save you a lot of trial and error.

I would also suggest that your old style F-150 engine would be a good candidate for gasification - for a stationary system. Take it out of the truck and hook to a generator and run at 1800rpm, and it will produce about 27kW (assuming a 5L engine), and run quite nicely.

A great source of information on gasifiers is the archives from Doug Williams at Fluidyne Gasification, who has been doing it for 30yrs. He is a Kiwi but don;t hold that against him.

In there are the engine tables that give all the fuel and power levels you can expect from diesel and spark engines. He suggests about 5.6kWe per L of capacity at 1800 rpm for spark engines.
I have read every entry in his archives - there is lots of good info there.

At the end of all that, for a DIY unit, I would go the GEK kits, and for a buy ready to run I would probably go with the Victory. But I would not start from scratch trying to build one from old drums etc - If you actually want to produce power, instead of tinker, then build on the work that has already been done. Every account I have read of people who have built from scratch involves hundreds of hours trying to solve the "tar problem", but these guys already have.

Of course, if you get to do this before I or Wimbi do, then we expect to see a full account of your project!

Best of luck,


The efficiency of a steam engine is greatly increased if a closed cycle using a condenser is employed. I once thought about building a steam powered car, thinking of using biomass as the fuel. I spent some time in a machine shop playing with some ideas back in 1973, including an attempt to build a small size burner for liquid fuel to deliver heat to a flash boiler. It then became evident that the result would not be very fuel efficient, even with a closed Rankine cycle. I would imagine that the small steam engines described in links above do not use a closed cycle, which would result in low efficiencies...

E. Swanson

It's amazing to think that the steam powered car is still capturing our attention, even though it is a 240 year old invention!

[Nicholas Cugnot's steam carriage, 1771 - top speed 3mph]

Those steam engines I linked to can be run with or without a condenser, but I can assure you that every one of them that has been put into a boat has a condenser. Certainly for a stationary, continuos use, there is no reason not to.

The real problems with these small steam engines is that you can;t operate them with much superheat - about 200C is as hot as you can go, and if you are doing superheat, then you need oil separators, or the oil will get baked onto the sides of the superheater. If you are using saturated steam, the oil can go through the condenser and the boiler just fine. For small systems, like the boats, not having the oil separator eliminates a major complexity.

I think steam engines still have their place - they are probably the most reliable/long life type of engine ever built, and can run on any fuel. They are just not very compact or lightweight.

A modern approach, that uses supercritical steam and no oil, is here, but they do not have a product on the market yet;

And it's time for the infrequent reminder that left wingers are just as capable of coming up with ideological excuses for ignoring peak oil:

The Exile and Daily Kos, step right up and prove me right. At least the Kos kids are able to discuss it rationally in the comments though.

I think we have long established that almost everyone--left, right, center, fringe...--does not grok PO. So not surprising that many on the left don't get it. At least they see that GS and oil companies are up to no good rather than totally innocent, nice little capitalists just trying to make and honest buck.

I think we have long established that almost everyone--left, right, center, fringe...--does not grok PO.

There is a difference between understanding and action.

What happens to the human psyche when one understands and choose to believe in PO and then not act on that belief?

Actually, non-action is precisely what we need a lot of:

non-eating the 2000 mile meal
non-buying tons of useless crap from Walmart

If almost everyone, upon hearing about PO just vowed not to do these things and a few others, or to keep them to a mininum, we'd be a long ways towards where we need to be.

Left wingers, centremen, defensemen, goalies, they're all just hockey players after all.

Renewable Energy Group, headquartered in Ames, Iowa, buys biodiesel plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota to add to its collection.

Renewable Energy Group® is the nation’s largest biodiesel producer with a nationwide distribution and logistics system. Utilizing an integrated value chain model, Renewable Energy Group is focused on converting natural fats, oils and greases into advanced biofuels. With more than 210 million gallons of owned/operated annual production capacity at biorefineries across the country, REG® is a proven biodiesel partner in the distillate marketplace. For more than a decade, REG has been a reliable supplier of biodiesel which meets or exceeds ASTM quality specifications. REG-9000® branded biodiesel is distributed in nearly every state in the U.S. and is available beyond.


REC's angle to profitability is its ability to switch between feed stocks to make biodiesel. It has a YouTube Channel:


From one of the videos, we learn animal fat is the main alternative to soybean oil as feed stock:


But where does animal fat come from?

Mainly from dead animals. There is a large supply around here to due to the many hog factories. Each one produces dead hogs as well as live hogs. They are collected and sent to an animal rendering works where they are turned into things such as leather, tankage used for poultry feed and animal fat used to make biodiesel among other things.

This one in California processes mostly dead cattle. In the Midwest
they process mostly dead pigs from hog factories. Death loss in hog factories is significant because the animals are under stress and many succumb. Death loss is calculated as a cost like any other in pork production.



Update on an article on GW driven species extinction posted by Seraph the other day:


I asked about it over at RealClimate and got this response from one of the scientists there:

Don't put too much stock in it. The stated intraspecific loss of heterozygosity is based on one aquatic insect study in Europe if I remember right from a brief look at the article. That blog piece you point to is a mishmash of figures pulled from various places with some suspect explanations thrown in. The loss of species diversity is real, but it is mostly due, so far, to direct habitat loss, especially forest clearing, not to climate change. Climate change will have an effect for sure, but how big it will be in 300 years is really anyone's guess. Or even 50 or 100 years for that matter. Prediction of biodiversity dynamics, and consequences thereof, is a highly, highly uncertain business--Jim]

Great article on "Donal's Blog" this morning. Oil Springs Eternal

Writing The Prize (1991) , and winning a Pulitzer for it, brought Daniel Yergin automatic creds in the energy industry. Through Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) , he has consistently maintained a cornucopian viewpoint about the future availability and price of oil, to the point that the energy depletion community has defined a Yergin unit as the $38 per barrel that in 2005, Yergin predicted would be the steady price of oil. Oil reached two Yergins in 2006, spiked to 3.6 Yergins in 2008, and currently Brent crude is trading at 3 Yergins.

The article contains quotes from Richard Heinberg and Jeffery Brown.

Ron P.

So al-Badri (Gulf likely to trim oil output as Libya recovers-Badri)

is saying it will take 15 months to restore just the central Libyan oil fields to full production, but this will not increase total OPEC supply because the other nations will cut production to balance the Libyan increase, after they increased production when Libyan oil went off-line six months ago.

Except that we know that they didn't significantly increase production in the last six months.

So OPEC is either happy with oil prices at $110+ , with the OECD being driven back into recession, or they are past production peak and looking for any excuse to slow production a those over-pumped fields, or refill their storage tanks.

Or maybe they will continue to pump flat out, and just hope that the media will continue to believe whatever they say, because the media is too scared to check the facts in case they don't like what they find.

According to the JODI database today it looks like Saudi made a major increase in the June-July period. I didn't check overall OPEC output but id does look like KSA responded to the Libyan crisis with increased output.

Well KSA claimed to increase output but tanker tracking data from "Oil Movements" showed that neither they or the rest of OPEC actually increased exports.

OPEC says demand growth is slowing and I would agree, demand has been slowing for 6 years due to higher and higher prices. The price always rises to kill enough demand in order that it equals supply.

OECD nations have a combined population of approximately 1.234 billion people, 2011 estimate, and they consume the lion's share of all oil produced. That is just under 46 million barrels per day average, all liquids, for the first four months of 2011. Dividing that into gallons that comes to approximately 1.56 gallons per day per person, down from 1.77 gallons per day per person in 2005. That is a drop of 13.46 percent or an average of 2.24 percent per year.

OECD per capita oil consumption, (all liquids), in gallons per day 2000 to 2011.

OECD Per Capita Consumption

Ron P.

That nicely matches the westexas data of a 2005 peak in exports. Has the Chindia consumption increase matched that decline?

Following are the Chindia Net Imports/GNE for 2005 & 2010 (mbpd, GNE = Global Net Exports*):

2005: 5.1/45.5 (11.2%)

2010: 7.5/42.6 (17.6%)

At the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in this ratio, Chindia would approach 100% of GNE in about 20 years.

Chindia's total petroleum liquids consumption rose from 9.5 mbpd in 2005 to 12.4 mbpd in 2010, a 5.3%/year rate of increase. Note that their combined net oil imports rose at 7.7%/year, from 2005 to 2010. Incidentally, Chindia's recent rate of increase in net oil imports is far below what the US showed during our rapid post-war expansion period, when we showed almost a 12%/year rate of increase in net oil imports from 1949 to 1977.

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, primarily BP data, total petroleum liquids

Oil Exports for Rest of World

2005: 45.5 - 5.1 = 40.4

2010: 42.6 - 7.5 = 35.1 (86.9%)


My estimate for 2011 (all in million b/day)

2011: 7.9/41.8 (18.9% of total) for Chinese and Indian share of World Oil Imports/Exports

And for the Rest of the Oil Importing World

2011: 41.8 - 7.9 = 33.9 (83.9% of 2005 Net World Oil Imports/Exports)


Oil demand in KSA fell by 384,000 b/d in July from June according to JODI. Oil production fell by 207,000 b/d.


But July production was still 9% higher than in April.

Pity they never actually export any of these mythical production increases.

If the Saudis wanted to simply match their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd (total petroleum liquids), they would probably have to show about a two mbpd increase in annual total liquids production in 2011, versus 2010.

In any case, the annual data show that Saudi net oil exports have shown year over year declines for four of the past five years--falling from 9.1 mbpd in 2005 to 7.2 mbpd in 2010 (BP).

Western nations need to do more to bolster their economies and stem unemployment, said the head of Opec.

"It's really hampering the demand for oil," he said today in Dubai. "That stimulus package is not really working. Something must be done to introduce new manufacturing, new activities [so] it can solve unemployment."

Wow. Just wow. I'd like him to walk around in Detroit and say that. I think he would end up pretty beat-up. The locals would say "pump more oil and lower the price of oil". Of course the OPEC chief has a point, that is certainly not a very delicate way of putting it.

Sorry OPEC chief . . . we can't work magic. At $100/barrel, demand is destroyed. What we really need to do reduce demand more and replace it with a locally sourced solution like natural gas and electricity.

What we really need to do reduce demand more and replace it with a locally sourced solution like natural gas and electricity.

Exactly. The best stimulus would be to stop sending money to OPEC.

Besides, who is Saudi Arabia to point the finger at anyone else about unemployment....

Besides, who is Saudi Arabia to point the finger at anyone else about unemployment....

geez, you're not wrong. From http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/07/19/all_play_no_work

"As horrible as the roughly 40 percent unemployment figures are for Arab young people overall, they're worse for any ambitious college-educated Saudi women, analysts say: 30 percent of Saudi women of all ages looking for jobs can't find any, and 78 percent of the fruitlessly job-seeking women have university degrees."

I was watching a doco on TV last week where this guy travels around the Tropic of Cancer, and he was in Saudi. He seemed to spend most of his time there having a go at off-street drag-racing. He said the boredom factor of the "dissaffected" youth is so bad the Saudi government has set up such ventures to give them an outlet.

We need to have all our people employed to pay for their unemployed people.

Look, I'm trying my best to bolster demand -I just bought a new Jag XK8 OK... Next time i'll buy a Hummer...

Seriously though, the head of Opec is so far removed from the concepts of Peak Oil its unbelievable really.


If the customers of OPEC think "Oh, hey - oil will end" they might be able to come up with an alternative to rock oil.

Then they'd have to sell the product to chemical firms or make chemicals from them.

Western nations need to do more to bolster their economies and stem unemployment, said the head of Opec.

In other words, we need to run around like chickens with our heads cut off attempting any number of possible fiscal gynmastics to make sure all those ME oil baron shieks can remain living the the lap of luxury.

If they're worried about future profits due to our economic downturn via higher oil prices, I only have one thing to say;

Ahh, that's a shame!

Solar Decathlon 2011: University of Calgary, TRTL

The University of Calgary is representing Canada in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, and they are bringing TRTL, whose acronym stands for “Technological Residence, Traditional Living.” TRTL takes a holistic approach to sustainable living, and draws on inspiration and input from the Treaty 7 Native communities in Southern Alberta. Unlike a lot of the other, boxier entries we’ve seen, TRTL has a rounded shape, inspired by the traditional tipi. Its east-facing door and south-facing windows reflect the age-old idea of the sun as the source of energy and life. Inside, the two-bedroom home is flexible in terms of layout to meet the needs of the inhabitants.

TRTL was created in response to the sub-standard housing often faced by Canada’s Native population, which totals at over 1.1 million people. By engaging in dialogue and creative partnership with Native communities, Canada’s Decathlon team hopes to bridge the gaps between Native and non-Native populations and create a positive change throughout the country. They also seek to blend sustainable technology with traditional values.

See: http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/09/solar-decathlon-2011-university-of-...

Wish'n U of C the best in this solar challenge.


What happens if the population forecasts are wrong?
The assumption that global population will peak around 9-10bn may be overly optimistic — and if it is, population will continue to rise, placing enormous strains on the environment


”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled ...”

Jonathan Swift

Sweeney TOD?

Very good!

Re: Weeks after quake, town near nuclear plant remains rattled from DB above

New from Congressional Research Services

Financing Recovery After a Catastrophic Earthquake or Nuclear Power Incident

In the aftermath of the recent East Coast earthquake (and shut down of the North Anna nuclear power plants) and Japan’s technological and natural disaster, U.S. policy-makers are asking if it could happen here and, if so, how associated costs would be financed.

• What are the appropriate roles of the private and public sectors in mitigating the possible consequences of a future earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear accident, and in providing the necessary funds for recovery?
• Is there a need for new institutional structures and (enforcement) mechanisms, as well as regulations and standards, for dealing with extreme events in an uncertain and increasingly interdependent world?
What is the capacity of national financial markets to absorb the cost and economic burden of a devastating mega-earthquake or nuclear incident?
• What are the costs and benefits of government intervention in the catastrophe insurance market?
Do benefits outweigh costs to taxpayers for providing a financial backstop for the insurance industry?

The map from the NRC on pg 10 is an interesting if you live in Geogia, Northern Maine, New York, near the Madrid fault, or anywhere on the west coast.

also Climate Change: Conceptual Approaches and Policy Tools

An Economics-Centric Approach to Policy ... Hedging or Insurance Policies, Incrementalism,“Muddling Through,” and Adaptive Strategies

The Ponzi scheme is becoming visible for all to see ...

Wall Street Regulator Says Complaints About Market Manipulation and “Suspicious Trading” Significantly Increased This Year

... FINRA has received complaints this year about banks’ audit systems, canceled orders, and brokers misrepresenting whether orders were on behalf of customers, DeMaio said.

“These are areas that for a long time we were not receiving complaints in, and all of a sudden this past year it’s really spiked up,” DeMaio, senior vice president in FINRA’s market regulation unit, told a FIA options industry conference.

“We’ve been getting a lot of complaints about … manipulation — the possibility that somebody is manipulating equity to advantage their option position,” he said.

“We’re seeing a large number of order misrepresentations, we’re seeing problems with our audit trail,” DeMaio said, adding some brokerages have identified orders as customer orders when in fact they originated from the firm itself.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Reactions to the shift in German energy policy:


Carbon nanotubes - the new Asbestos

Why carbon nanotubes spell trouble for cells

Not the first I have heard of this, and definitely a worry.

I first read bout this here;

and what they said there seems to be borne out by this research - the nanotubes might as well be asbestos fibres.

Nanotubes have been promised to help in almost every process imaginable, though to date they have only had very limited success.

I can just imagine what happens the first time a truck carrying a cargo of the stuff has a crash and a fire....

Some 1940's work determined that small Carbon configurations were able to go from the nasal passages into the brains of apes.

Now elsewhere there is a TOD poster pushing "make Carbon composite highway infrastructure" - more technofix without understanding the other effects.

The low hanging fruit for small Carbon toxicity

I saw a story about this on the BBC this morning.

Light from a water bottle could brighten millions of poor homes (w/ video)

In order to make the water bottles "light up," holes are cut in the metal roofs of homes and a bottle is placed and sealed into each hole so that its lower half emerges from the ceiling. The clear water disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric light bulb, according to the MyShelter Foundation. The bleach prevents mold growth so that the bulbs can last for up to five years.

Although the solar bottle bulb only works during the day, it can meet the needs of many of the people in Manila, Philippines, and other cities, where the homes are so close together that very little sunlight can enter through the windows. As a result, the homes are dark even during the day.

I wonder if they have tried putting the plastic bottles in the roof sideways, to see if that might increase the light from each bottle.

And some bright white paint in that bathroom would help a lot.

NY Times has an article called, Tax Plan to Turn Old Buildings ‘Green’ Finds Favor

Richard Branson's NGO, Carbon War Room, spurned the approach of using a consortium to upgrade commercial property with energy saving retrofits. James Marston, with the Environmental Defense Fund, claims:

If you do this correctly, you would be able to shut down a third of the coal plants in the country.

Short term loans will pay for upgrade. At completion, loans will be bundled into long term bonds marketed by Barclays. Bonds are repaid from tax surcharges on property over 5-20 years with surcharge set less than energy savings to property owner.

in the "Oh Joy" Department;

Global energy use to jump 53% by 2035. 80% still fossil fuel.


This is from the optimists at EIA.

A few charts from the "Reference Case".

"Basket Case" would be more accurate. World CO2 levels would be well over 450 ppm by 2035 under this scenario.

Global energy use to jump 53% by 2035. 80% still fossil fuel.

Boy, it sure is good we got on to that shale oil and gas. :) Ha!

Skimming quickly, it appears that the "standard" methodology is still in use. Chapter 1 is a forecast of economic growth and the energy that would be required to fulfill that growth; the remainder is an exercise that would charitably be described as "finding" that much energy, and perhaps more realistically as "making sh*t up".

For example, Chinese coal production, measured in BTUs, is forecast to increase by a bit over 50%; by weight, that requires them to go from the current 3 Gt to something over 4.5 Gt. If the production includes increasing amounts of lignite, the weight increase will be larger.

China's remaining coal reserves are estimated to be about 125 Gt. Assuming a linear ramp from today's 3.0 Gt to a 2035 figure of 4.5 Gt, China will have extracted about 75% of the reserves by 2035. If they're going after the easy stuff first, it seems very unlikely that they can continue to produce at anywhere near that level; depletion is an issue for coal as well as oil.

Chapter 1 is a forecast of economic growth

I misread that as 'Chapter 11' and it seemed to make a lot of sense. ;-)

Will Tokyo Be Evacuated Due to Fukushima Radiation?
Tokyo Radiation Exceeds Chernobyl In Some Places … Japanese Government and Experts Discuss Evacuation

Yesterday, Al Jazeera pointed out:

Experts estimate the radiation leaked from Fukushima nuclear plant will exceed that of Chernobyl.

The need to evacuate parts of the sprawling capital of 35 million may have once seemed an incredible prospect but some experts say the possibility can no longer be ignored.

Yet the bbc just released a new horizon show claiming the event was safer then chernobyl because people were given iodine pills faster.

That was one incredibly biased programme. It seemed to conclude that the total death toll from Chernobyl was about 45. And that much larger numbers were a "myth".

It presented the theory that low doses of radiation may be completely harmless but didn't mention anything about internal versus external exposure and certainly didn't mention Professor Christopher Busby's and others opposing views. There was no mention of the Russian study Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment at all. Nor was anyone at all interviewed with a view opposed to that presented (that nuclear power is perfectly safe and even when they do go wrong the health impacts are minimal).

It was a blatant advert for nuclear power disguised as an unbiased investigation.

yea it had that entire feel especially when it started to talk about thorium reactors.
i did get one or two bits of information from it. it does show some interesting scenes from inside the fukashima exclusion zone, i am surprised how much the vegetation has grown in the short amount of time between the making of it and the actual event. it also showed how Tokyo and other nearby city's have to cope. seeing over half the city's lights off is striking.

Nouriel Roubini: How To Prevent a Depression

The latest economic data suggest that recession is returning to most advanced economies, with financial markets now reaching levels of stress unseen since the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008. The risks of an economic and financial crisis even worse than the previous one—now involving not just the private sector, but also near-insolvent governments—are significant. So, what can be done to minimize the fallout of another economic contraction and prevent a deeper depression and financial meltdown?

But it's not all bad...

Crime in decline, but why? Low inflation among theories

Rosenfeld says he's found a tie between inflation and crime. "Crime rates tend to rise during inflationary periods and fall, or experience a slower increase, when the inflation rate drops," he says, and "inflation ran at historically low levels during the recent economic downturn — prices actually decreased in 2009 for the first time in over 50 years."

Roubini is beginning to sound more like Ilargi who speaks lately of "emergency meetings and more desperate measures", and it's becoming clear that cliches apply more than ever. More "robbing Peter to pay Paul", and "eating next year's seed corn" certainly come to mind. Unlike 2008, Peter is already leveraged to the max, and we're already deep into next year's seed corn.

While we're seeing more extreme ideas, "steps needed to avoid another recession", (and only an observation here) it seems remarkable that more of these guru's are using the 'depression' word, something we rarely saw from the mainstream two years ago, and it seems that they have little faith that even their own ideas will actually work.


...countries able to provide short-term stimulus should do so and postpone their own austerity efforts. These countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the core of the Eurozone, and Japan.

US, UK, Japan?! As Roubini mentions, "near-insolvent governments". And as far as Germany goes, I'm sure the German people are thinking of yet another cliche: "Just say no..."

Yet to see an admission from a mainstream economist about high energy and commodity prices becoming a noose around the world economy. Roubini's no exception, they are all the same whether it's the Austrian school or the Keynesian school, they all believe that there' nothing fundamentally wrong with the world economy, their medicines are different but both of them think that the disease is curable in it's present form with the right set of economic policies whether it's austerity or monetization.

I guess that's no surprise given the kind of teaching they have, by the time you get a PhD many of them forget to think independently. They are still stuck with economic theories which have been valid for past 200 years. I wonder how many of them study economics of last 2000 years.

"Failure is not an option"; their jobs depend on that. They generally sidestep the mention of the massive exposure (hundreds of trillions of dollars) that western banks have in the CDS and derivatives markets, especially in Europe,, which is why failure isn't an option to be considered. This illusion, this house of cards, must be maintained at any cost, as the alternative is unthinkable. To be fair, what Economist or Politician would want to be seen as stoking the fear furnace that is already smoldering. Perception trumps reality (for now).

Well, and when it comes down to it, the electricians on the Titanic were probably not wrong to stand by their posts and keep the lights on, right? There are roles in a complex society that are simply not about preparing for something different.. and those who are up on Lookout, whether official or self-appointed, would well be helpless were they asked to face the Breaker Panel or the Boiler System.

joker - I'll stretch the Titanic analogy a bit more. W've all seen the submarine war movies. Have you ever noticed when they seal the water proof hatches they aren't all the same. Some are one-way locking (called "deadman hatches"...they can only be opened from one side ("safeside"). One thing to ask a hand to stand his station no matter what. Another to expect him to not open a hatch if he's about to drown. I would expect all the economists have some expectation of an escape plan (being on the safeside) should all their ideas be proven BS. But if we could put them on the deadman side of their theories I wonder if we might hear a different song and dance. IOW no downside to telling the truth and certain professional death should their current proclamations be proven wrong. Or more simply put have them put their professional skin in the game.

I try to do this all the time in my deals in the oil patch. Always interesting to see how folks back away from their optimistic opinions of their prospects when you ask them to risk their potential income. For those that don't know most prospect generators who sell deals to companies like mine make at least a little profit (as well as recover all their initial investment) even if it's a dry hole. Why shouldn't they promise the world in order to sell their ideas. It shouldn't be a surprise that I'm blacklisted by promoters who sell cr*p.

Krugman has mentioned high oil prices as holding the economy back a few times, but he hasn't made a huge issue out of it.

Roubini's ideas basically boil down to:

1. Default.
2. Then do what we just did to get here in the first place.

There's no mention of rocketing prices in oil and coal, no mention of crushing the values of the world's major currencies, no mention of reforms to prevent repeating the 1995-2008 Bubble Era. At least he's talking default, which is more than I can say for most economists.

New IMF projections show weak growth through 2012 in the developed world, continued strong growth in the developing world led by China and India.

Given that a third of the world's people live in Chindia alone, and that a marginal dollar goes a lot farther when you are that far down the income ladder, the overall picture here is one of marked improvement in global living standards as a whole, and a general convergence between rich and poor countries. It's interesting that these are the initial outcomes we're seeing at the dawn of the age of peak oil.

Economy enters 'dangerous phase'

The global economy has entered a "dangerous new phase" of sharply lower growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The organisation warned that continuing political and economic woes in the US and eurozone could force them back into recession. The IMF says the prognosis for economies in the developed world is "weak and bumpy expansion".

I would say the real'dangerous phase' of the economy is when it is growing and crowding out every other life form on the planet that doesn't immediately serve it (and many that do).

Crime tends to be low when you live in a police state. One of my friends grew up in communist Romania and immigrated to the U.S. in high school. He hates the communists and as a result is quite conservative. But one thing he admits was that crime was nonexistent; you could walk the streets without any fear at all hours of the night.

Of course I think there's alot going on. The Freakanomics authors have it right, alot of aggressive young males just aren't here anymore because they were aborted. And the remainder are locked up, in the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world. For the rest, there's the soft, Brave New World sort of totalitarianism: tv and video games and internet and psychotropic medications to keep you pacified.

When push comes to shove, though, crime will rise if people don't have an income. They won't be stealing iphones or breaking into homes, they'll be after anything to fill their stomachs.

Witness the recent "flash mob" phenomenon. These ones are after any food and clothing they can get their hands on.

Security for grocers might be a decent job of the future.

Governments should just hand over enough money to every citizen in the world to buy enough gasoline for the rest of his or her life. It's that simple! "Here is ten million dollars for you, a gazillion yen for you, a billion billion euros for you. Now don't bother us anymore! We have stimulus fatigue! WE're tired and we're going home to sleep!"

Problem solved!!

Cramer, on CNBC was talking about the "glut" of crude oil, and he mentioned surging production from Brazil. Of course, Brazil showed an increase in their net total petroleum liquids imports in 2010, versus 2009. I guess Cramer read the Bloomberg column about Brazil "Taking market share away from OPEC."

In any case, here is the EIA chart for annual Brent crude oil prices:

The average 2011 Brent price to date (through August) was $112, and the current price is about $110, versus a prior annual peak of $97 in 2008.

Nobody's supposed to know that oil is more expensive in 2011 than in 2008 :-)

Here's a similar chart for average annual US retail gasoline from the EIA. I've added the 2011 point (large red dot) based on the EIA's data through August.

In 2008 gasoline averaged $3.30. First 8 months 2011 average is $3.62. The average price over week ended 19th September was $3.66 according to the EIA.

Tow/wt – Great charts as usual. Always frustrating to see some folks toss out short term trends to make their arguments. But unless they are completely ignorant of the FACTUAL history I think these folks should be branded for what they are: Liars. It’s not a question of different interpretations of the data or different forward models. Throughout the 90’s we had oil/gasoline prices much lower than today. Even now prices remain relatively high compared to that decade and this despite going through one of the worst recessions of all times (and the associated demand destruction). Forget Q-o-Q or even y-o-y variations. They must be forced to answer the question: what has changed from the 90’s to the 21st century? If they don’t want to have that discussion then they should be ignored IMHO.

If PO isn't the explanation then the cornucopians need to explain what changed. Did the world decide they could pay more for energy and communicated that to the exporters? Did the exporters discover the importers were flush with cash they would willingly hand over for the same volume of oil they had been using? I would be willing to listen to any of their explanations. What isn't acceptable is their claiming nothing has changed.

If PO isn't the explanation then the cornucopians need to explain what changed. Did the world decide they could pay more for energy and communicated that to the exporters? Did the exporters discover the importers were flush with cash they would willingly hand over for the same volume of oil they had been using?

Yes, some believe that. One theory that someone tried to use on me was that OPEC tried to keep oil at less than $35/barrel for a long time to keep things running smoothly. But when they lost control in 2007, they learned that economies could handle $100/barrel. So now OPEC manipulates supply to keep things around the $100/barrel level.

I don't agree with that simplistic view but that is one some people put forth. (I don't think OPEC is that organized or that powerful . . . they are almost all pumping flat out except a couple Gulf states. And many members cheat on their quotas all the time if they can.)

The results of a spreadsheet using weekly avg price and demand/day per EIA.
Gasoline complete history xls

I sent this out in an e-mail to friends and relatives a couple weeks ago.
2011 price is avg for first 40 weeks for the full year.
Seems Americans will be pushing 500 billion dollars in 2011

Year Dollars in 1000's









Anyone that wants to know why our economy is struggling just needs to look at those numbers. Certainly there is more to the story than that, but that is a big part of the story.

Some 2/3s of that money is whisked out of the country. It is like a gigantic anti-stimulus program. The politicians will bitch, moan, and argue over Obama's current ~$450Billion jobs program. Meanwhile, $300Billion flies out of the country in oil payments with hardly anyone talking about it.

A percentage of that money is in refinery operation, distribution and state and fed taxes.

Also Brazil production has not been surging this past year. Brazilian oil production has been relatively flat since April 2010.

Brazilian Crude+Condensate Jan 2002 thru May 2011 in thousands of barrels per day per the EIA. JODI shows a similar profile for Brazil. And since September of 2009, two years now, Brazil C+C production is up 80 kb/d. Some surge.


Ron P.

Who cares about Brazil oil? Brazil is planning to become a developed world,and to do that, they need oil. Their own. They have no plan to export a single barrel. If you don't live in Brazil, you don't get to see any of their oil. Put no hope in brazilian oil reseves. The cavallery won't come to save you.

Oh, they will need to export oil. They are being lent a lot of money to develop those deepwater finds and they'll have to export to pay back the loans.

But a lot of loans are from the the Chinese and the oil will go to the Chinese, so net result for the American consumer may be the same as what you set forth.

Brazil can export other things. They are the #2 agricultural exporter. Embrear aircraft, iron ore, lumber and more.

China has been investing many tens of billions in Brazil (close to $40 billion in one recent year from memory).

In a few years, I would expect modest Brazilian oil product exports (keep the diesel, export the gasoline). However, I would be surprised to see much more than 1 million b/day of net exports at peak.

Best Hopes for Brazil,


Unless the people who claim there will be some kind of 'American Monetary Union' - thus tying North and South America all together just like Europe and the Euro are correct.

Agreed - if they aren;t contributing to "net exports" then it just doesn't matter. And like China and India, they are increasing their oil use as they modernise - even their ethanol program has not been able to stop the increase in oil consumption. American dreams of sharing their oil are just that - a dream.

PS - correct spelling is "cavalry"

This may come as a surprise, but Brazil wants the US cavalry to save them. Brazil has increased its imports of oil, gasoline, and diesel from the US this year.

Exports of US gasoline going to Brazil may increase considerably after October 1, when Brazil cuts back use of its own ethanol due to a smaller sugar harvest.

Guess Which Top 10 Trading Partner Runs A Deficit With The US

Crude oil. Who says President Obama just wants Brazilian oil? They want our oil, too. Crude export volume declined to 238,936 metric tons from 302,124 metric tons in the same period last year, but Brazilians paid 49% more for it at a total of $229 million for the U.S. based oil industry.


DJ Brazil Seen Importing 1 Bln Liters Of Ethanol In 2011 - Unica President
09-20-11 1210ET


Fukushima: Reflections six months on

In a special Fukushima issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published today by SAGE, experts examine the current and future impact of Fukushima, what might have been done to lessen the scale of the accident, and the steps we need to take both in Japan and worldwide to prevent another nuclear tragedy. This content will be free to access for a limited period.

Special Fukushima Issue (full access): http://bos.sagepub.com/content/current

Japan just can't catch a break:

Typhoon Roke on Track for Leaking Nuke Plant

Typhoon Roke brought evacuation orders and fears of floods to Nagoya city in central Japan today as it approached the main island of Honshu on a course toward the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

More than 1 million people in Nagoya have been advised to evacuate because of Roke and almost 80,000 have been ordered to leave due to flood risk, said Katsuya Kobayashi in the city’s disaster prevention center.

Flooding expected in the hills above Sendai/Fukushima.

Well, let's see how that plastic shower curtain for Reactor 1 holds up to the big incoming shower. ;-)

(You have to laugh or else you'll cry. :-/)

TEPCO says up to 500 tons of groundwater flowing into Fukushima nuclear plant


Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Tuesday that between 200 and 500 tons of groundwater a day are flowing through wall cracks into the reactor buildings of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A TEPCO official told TBS that water inflow had increased after heavy rain.

Lots more rain on the way...

Webcams at http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/f1-np/camera/index-j.html
and http://news.tbs.co.jp/newsi_sp/youtube_live/

It's almost as if nature is trying to flush this wound as humans, heroically, futilly try to contain the spread, knowing that the damage will remain for generations. It must be a huge burden for the Japanese psyche, the damage that is theirs, to the dust that has borne them for millenia.

Best hopes for lessons learned, and a Japanese model for sustainability. If they can't do it, we're all lost

Best hopes for lessons learned, and a Japanese model for sustainability. If they can't do it, we're all lost

Ghung, is this your version of a sick joke? If it is, I like it. No one could possibly say "We are F**king doomed" in a nicer way. ;-)

Ron P.

I'm serious, Ron. Think on it.


The Japanese have one big thing going for them -- a decreasing in population. No natural resources to speak of though.

They have a lot of forests. They used to have an ocean full of yummy fish on their front step, but they swept much of it clean of life and now have irradiated much of the rest.

I do wonder if much of north central Honshu will have to be abandoned essentially forever. And there is no guarantee that more quakes, tsunamis, corruption and other factors will not converge to cause more nukes to go critical there.

Yes. They still have something like 75% to 80% of their land forested (because of a long history of conservation).

They also have a lot of water. Jared Diamond used Japan as one of his examples of a success - a society that did not collapse for thousands of years. One reason was the choices they made as a society, but they were also lucky, in having a lot more rainfall every year than most people can count on.

That is how they were able to live on a solar budget, harvesting only the brush and twigs that had grown in the past year for fuel. It would be much harder without that generous rainfall.

The Japanese import 70 percent of their grain and virtually all their fuel. If/when globalization collapses Japan is doomed.

Ron P.

TEPCO webcam at the plant abruptly went offline about 60 minutes ago at 8:30pm Japan time (as the typhoon approached the site and with exceptionally heavy rain above 80mm per hour off-scale at plant according to radar) and has remained offline since. Long distance JNN webcam is still up but you can't see a thing on it but can hear the sound of the storm.

EDIT: Just came back up after two hours. Wonder if they lost off-site power for a time?

Significant radiation spikes just reported in the Fukushima area as well. Hopefully just due to rain.

Edit 2: Quake hits Ibaraki-ken Hokubu not too far from site. Preliminary 5.3. Shouldn't usually be a problem but under the circumstances... Webcam went offline again at the time but is back up now.

New Fields May Propel Americas to Top of Oil Companies’ Lists

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has begun building its first nuclear submarine to protect its vast, new offshore oil discoveries. Colombia’s oil production is climbing so fast that it is closing in on Algeria’s and could hit Libya’s prewar levels in a few years. ExxonMobil is striking new deals in Argentina, which recently heralded its biggest oil discovery since the 1980s.

Up and down the Americas, it is a similar story: a Chinese-built rig is preparing to drill in Cuban waters; a Canadian official has suggested that unemployed Americans could move north to help fill tens of thousands of new jobs in Canada’s expanding oil sands; and one of the hemisphere’s hottest new oil pursuits is actually in the United States, at a shale formation in North Dakota’s prairie that is producing 400,000 barrels of oil a day and is part of a broader shift that could ease American dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

For the first time in decades, the emerging prize of global energy may be the Americas, where Western oil companies are refocusing their gaze in a rush to explore clusters of coveted oil fields.

A "Net Export Math" analysis follows:

Brazil remains a net importer of petroleum liquids, and their net imports increased from 2009 to 2010 (and increased from 0.36 mbpd in 2005 to 0.47 mbpd in 2010).

Colombia's net exports were up from 2005 to 2010, but Argentina's were down. Their combined net exports increased from 0.64 mbpd in 2005 to 0.69 mbpd in 2010 (BP).

Colombia was one of the 12 of the top 33 net oil exporters that showed higher net exports in 2010, versus 2005. And Argentina was one of the 21 of the top 33 that showed lower net exports in 2010, versus 2005.

Combined net oil exports from Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, fell from 0.28mbpd (280,000 bpd) in 2005 to 0.22 mbpd (220,000 bpd) in 2010. At the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in their combined ratio of consumption to production, they would collectively approach zero net oil exports in about 10 years.

Combined net exports from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela fell from 4.85 mbpd in 2005 to 3.73 mbpd in 2010. At the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in their combined ratio of consumption to production, they would collectively approach zero net oil exports in about 20 years.

a Canadian official has suggested that unemployed Americans could move north to help fill tens of thousands of new jobs in Canada’s expanding oil sands;

I find this quite worrisome. If we try to solve economic problems by doubling-down on oil then we are postponing the eventual reckoning which will be even bigger when it occurs.

We need to adjust to reduced oil production because it will eventually happen. And not in a far far distant future.

Unfortunately, those people need jobs right now.

But we always 'need jobs right now'... it's a bit like the calculus of 'Do I pay off all the bills that are on the kitchen table, or do I still put some of my few available dollars into other, long-term projects/needs?'

If we always spend our whole check on the monthly stuff (equiv to 'the job I need today'), and forsake the long-term plan.. then, you know.. the important directions you could have been building in get left undone.. The trick is balance, and putting some of your reserves into survival, and some into the 'Roadmap' .. as it were.

It's a matter of breaking out of pure Short-term thinking..

Badri says OPEC to add 21 million b/d new oil capacity

Badri also declined to comment on whether he was comfortable with current oil prices and whether $75/barrel was still regarded as a fair oil price for producers and consumer.

He observed that the average cost worldwide for producing crude had risen by about 230% since 2009.

Analysis: Extreme steps needed to meet climate target

New research, to be published in the journal Climatic Change in November, suggests humankind may have to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere on a vast scale if emissions keep rising after 2020. The series of articles provide scenarios which will form the basis of the next report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 and 2014.

Researchers say that allowing emissions to continue to rise after 2020 would involve passing 2 degrees as early as mid-century.

The view that extreme steps are needed is therefore becoming more accepted.

"If we really are going to avoid more than 2 degrees of warming, we're either looking at geo-engineering in the sense of sun shields in space, or negative emissions type of geo-engineering in the second half of this century," said Oxford University climate scientist Myles Allen.

"That's increasingly where the thinking is."

From BBC

Could world social unrest hit America's streets?

... in interviews with the BBC, analysts, writers and historians feared the US was ripe for some sort of social upheaval, but said a lack of social organisation and a sense of despair had prevented social movements from coalescing.

"It's amazing to me that Americans are so slow to rise collectively... not only against unemployment but against the quite identifiable forces that are responsible for it," said sociologist Prof Todd Gitlin of the Columbia University journalism school.

Television is the opiate of the masses.

"It's amazing to me that Americans are so slow to rise collectively...

Incredibly amazing! They are so good at taking it. I think the govt. could walk into people's houses, slap them around, take whatever they want and not a whisper would ever be uttered. Completely willing to accept whatever happens.

The Repubs in 2012 will get the wandering, deaf, dumb, blind Sheeple to vote in sufficient numbers to get back the Presidency and the Senate, running on a campaign of eliminating SS, medicare and other entitlements programs like foodstamps to provide greater tax cut gifts to the super wealthy. They will actually vote for that because they somehow love to be abused and pushed past the limit of what they can handle financially.

Somehow suffering in this country has become synonymous with patriotism. Someone should write a PHD disertation on how that was accomplished.

Hundred million dollar Wallstreet bonuses are music to their Derwienerscnitzel hot dog for dinner mentality. It's uncanny!!

A hundred million dollars is more than most people can imagine, it's hard to get upset about something that you can't even imagine.

What planet do these academics live on?

I said the Wall Street protest would amount to nothing, and I was right. Why? Because to organize means to admit that you are a loser, that you are dependent, that you need help from somebody. And those are the things that Americans fear most.

Stubbornness Increases the More People Tell You You’re Wrong

A group of psychologists working at HP’s Social Computing Research Group has found that humans are more likely to change their minds when fewer, rather than more, people disagree with them.

The results showed that a small amount of social pressure to reverse an opinion was far more effective in getting people to change their minds than if the pressure was much greater. When an overwhelming number of people were shown as having made a different choice, people tended to stick with their original selections.

Changing minds through social media: HP study shows it happens, but not how you might think:

WHO: Polio strain spreads to China from Pakistan

related Two Stories of Disease: Smallpox and Polio

... Failing states, those that lose control of part or all of their territory and can no longer ensure their people’s security, can pose a threat to international health.

... As in Nigeria, instability presents a significant obstacle to the eradication of polio in Pakistan. In early 2007, when eradication appeared to be in sight for the country, violent opposition to vaccinations arose in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. In 2009, the Taliban refused to let health officials administer polio vaccinations in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, further delaying the campaign. Then, the devastating floods in 2010 displaced millions, hindering vaccination initiatives and allowing the disease to spread

S - Sounds like they blew out in a NG reservoir and will do a top down kill with heavy cement. No details but sounds like another BOP failure. Either didn't close or drill pipe jammed it.

Post Oil Discussion

Thought I should point out, discussion on Charlie Stross's (the SF author) blog has developed into a discussion of peak oil, mitigation, and the shape of a post-peak world.

Given that the readership is generally more technology cornucopian than that here, it provides a nice counterpoint to drumbeat posts.

John Judis article Doom! gives a well thought out world-wide comparison of current politics with the politics of the 1930's.

The United States and Europe embraced this “beggar thy neighbor” strategy at the beginning of the Great Depression, and today’s Republicans, as well as Cameron’s Tories and Merkel’s Christian Democrats, do so, too. Japan’s Noda also endorses a version of this strategy.

an interesting comparison between the history of the Great Depression and the more recent Great Recession. Trouble is, what ever economic path is selected, this time, things really are different. During the Great Depression, there were still vast quantities of fossil fuels available to the industrial economies. This time around, the cheap oil has been burned and the CO2 dumped into the air and coal is also approaching global production limits. There's no going back to the Great Depression recovery situation, even though there is presently glut of natural gas to power things in the US. Building massive public works of the usual sort won't solve the energy problems and Mister Market doesn't appear willing to rise to the challenge, even with world oil prices above $100 a barrel.

A return of declining GDP would cut production and lead to even less economic activity, which might reduce energy use and thus energy prices, but that also would kill any market based shift to renewable energy sources, just like happened during the middle 1980's. If we are indeed at peak oil, the decline in demand might not result in reduced prices, which could slowly strangle any efforts toward recovery. A death spiral of downward energy production and GDP can't be ruled out. Comparisons are fun, but the outlook suggests that this time, it's going to be really different...

E. Swanson

It's amazing to me that so few of these commentators put the high, and rising, cost of energy into the equation. Of those that do, it's usually a peripheral concern.
Even Robert Reich, whose writings and analysis I admire, never fully makes the link.
It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle with the biggest piece missing but no one seems to notice.

It's amazing to me that so few of these commentators put the high, and rising, cost of energy into the equation. Of those that do, it's usually a peripheral concern.

I think they call it Cognitive Dissonance, because they are fully aware of it, but do not want to look directly at something that scary.

I've noticed this talking to people that have a pretty good head on their shoulders but aren't necessarily peak oil savvy. When I suggest the possibility of our economy sputtering due to the high cost of oil, they always do the same thing. They acknowledge it by nodding yes or uttering some sound, but then look away and get silent for a moment, then change the subject.

This may be a lizard brain response to only feel comfortable talking about the parts that can be controlled to see if there is some way to continue BAU. So we see all these conversations on TV about what it will take to get things going again, but like you say, very little if any acknowledgement regarding the high price of energy, oil.

I think, Robert Reich, Tom Friedman and others believe that innovation, human imagination and ingenuity are at the heart of this techno-triumphalism that we all have been engaging in for the past few hundred years. Energy is just something that materialize conveniently to help us realize our true potential.

Human imagination and ingenuity [will guarantee the next big leap forward by] techno-triumphalism

Undoubtedly their brains are wired that way.

Leave the implementation details to the techno-nerds. We're too high up in the food chain to sweat the non-economic little things.

"Building massive public works of the usual sort won't solve the energy problems"

True, but there is lots of vital work that needs to be done--insulating and sealing buildings, installing PV and other such systems, some public transportation systems, restoring farm land, breaking up asphalt and concrete wastelands to grow vegetables, clearing out invasives that are strangling landscapes or wiping our ecosystems...

With enough man- (and woman- '-) power, most of these can be done without massive amount of ff or other inputs, and most will end up saving lots of ff in the fairly short term.

Much work could be done, but building monuments to our folly should not be one of them.

That people are still planning on building things like sports stadiums and expanding roads is really beyond my comprehension and really speaks to how far most are from understanding the nature of our situation.

My point was similar to that made in other posts in that the BAU approach of building those massive projects, such as roads, bridges and tall buildings, isn't going to help solve the basic problem. I agree that much can be done on the local level by individuals. But, using human power to break concrete and asphalt roads or remove buildings is a very slow, painful process. Similarly, farming on any scale above a large garden requires more horsepower than most humans are willing to provide.

People in this US society have become so dependent on our technologies, starting with the horse drawn plow, that going back to a lower level won't be easy in a literal sense and many would be left to starve if such a transition were to happen quickly. Cutting trees by hand is serious work and few are physically capable of such effort in this modern society. Even with a chainsaw, cutting wood requires considerable effort, which is a problem I have had to struggle with in my corner of the world. This year, I burned up an old chainsaw and had to buy another, just so I could finish cutting up 2 trees which were dropped by a pro. Without the log splitter, I would likely not be able to split the oak into firewood by hand, given my bad back. And that process must be repeated every year to keep the wood stove fed...

E. Swanson

We must appease the Gods by building more stone heads! If we build better imitation runways, the Cargo planes will come back!

In Japan, there are entire airports waiting, empty.

In China there entire cities, waiting, nearly empty.


Excellent analogy!

Undoubtedly that is precisely what is spinning around in the heads of the high priests of our national religion
(ELG-BC =Ever-Lasting Growth-Based Capitalism).

They have no clear idea of what's going on. But surely the building of more stone monuments to the almighty vehicle will appease the gods.

Image= man worshiping the car

More cargo car worship images here and here

Yes, I had also noticed Judis offered sparse discussion of energy resource impact. Discussion of such would have detracted from Judis' goal of explaining his thoughts regarding political impact toward problem resolution. However, regarding public works, Judis did mention something quite different. He stated, "the need to transform the nation’s energy and transportation networks". As can be seen from comments here on TOD, this transformation won't be simple even if one assumes it is feasible. I see more value with discussion of pros, cons, tradeoffs and feasibility of this transformation in TOD than I would if it appeared in MSM.

I also question the status quo cost of a barrel of oil because the lifecycle cost of the hydrocarbons in that barrel are not included. This hidden cost is very difficult to quantify and is not subject to laws of supply and demand.