Drumbeat: September 24, 2011

Oil Era’s Twilight Drives Depression, Debt Crisis, Rifkin Says

The world economy will face shocks and depressions, punctuated by ever-shorter and weaker recoveries, as long as it relies on outdated fossil fuels, says Jeremy Rifkin, author of “The Third Industrial Revolution.”

“There will be cycles of growth, collapse, growth, collapse, every three years or so,” he said in an interview in Berlin, where he was scheduled to speak on a panel about sustainable growth introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

We are on the cusp of a major upheaval as the world switches to renewable energies and our power-distribution networks undergo a transition similar to that experienced by communications systems with the advent of the Internet, he said.

Oil Falls Below $80 on Recession Fears

Oil sank below $80 a barrel and capped the biggest weekly drop since May as a pledge by Group of 20 nations to tackle rising risks failed to ease concern that the global economy is on the brink of another recession.

Futures fell 0.8 percent in New York as losses in silver, lead, gold and zinc took the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities to its lowest level since December. Prices trimmed an intraday decline as equities and the euro rebounded on speculation global central banks will take coordinated measures to prevent a financial crisis.

US gains six rigs

The number of rigs operating in the US edged up by six this week to total 1991, according to Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

Abundant U.S. Natural Gas Supply Slakes Asian Demand

Gas prices are expected to remain depressed in the U.S. with the EIA weekly report on gas inventories in the U.S. showing a higher than expected build-up of reserves as the increase in production outstripped demand. Players like Anadarko Petroleum have used technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling to boost the American gas supply. In contrast to low prices in the U.S., strong growth in liquefied natural gas demand from China, Japan and India is resulting in prices for liquefied gas rising despite macroeconomic concerns. Analysts expect exports from the U.S. to meet international demand over the long term. Natural gas sales are an important driver for firms such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP.

Ukraine president to seek gas price cuts from Russia's Medvedev

Moscow - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was set to travel to Moscow Saturday to seek lower gas prices in meetings with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia keeps gas export duty break for Turkey

(Reuters) - Russia will postpone for a year cancelling zero export duties for gas destined for Turkey via the Blue Stream pipeline, which would have eased the tax burden for its top gas producer Gazprom , Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.

Saleh Calls for Yemen Truce as Rallies, Violence Mark President’s Return

President Ali Abdullah Saleh called for a truce as he returned to Yemen today after more than three months abroad, amid fighting between government troops and opposition forces demanding his ouster.

Libyan forces push into Gadhafi's hometown


Foreign oil companies return to Libyan fields

Foreign oil companies are returning to Libya to revive its most important industry after half a year of civil war.

An offshore field operated by a Total joint venture was due to start pumping yesterday and could begin exporting in as little as three weeks, an executive told Dow Jones.

Judge asked to lift megaload block

MISSOULA — A Montana judge says he will rule next month whether to repeal or change his order to keep an Exxon Mobil subsidiary's oversized oil refinery rigs bound for Canada off Montana highways.

Canadian government says it supports projects like Enbridge’s proposed Asia pipeline

TORONTO — Canada’s natural resource minister said Friday the country needs Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific coast to be built so that it can diversify its energy exports to China.

Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver noted in a speech that the U.S. is basically Canada’s only energy customer. Oliver said it is a key strategic objective to diversify the customer base.

Foreign interests attack oil sands

I believe foreign countries are behind some of the noise and mischief in the United States to try to shut down Canada's oil sands and block construction of the proposed pipeline to bring 700,000 more barrels day to Texas refineries.

The new global reality, since the UN Copenhagen failure to come to any workable agreement to reduce pollution or population worldwide, is that powerful, transnational nonstate players are roaming the world, in the environmental space, replacing smaller and local activists. They are run by faceless persons, they cross borders, they have planetary mandates to attack fossil fuel or any energy development and are armed with funds, media smarts and political influence. They prey on countries where there is an open and transparent system of environmental management even though they often are not transparent themselves in terms of their backers, financing sources and agenda.

Pipeline that failed under Yellowstone flows again today

BILLINGS — A failed Exxon Mobil pipeline that spilled an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River was expected to restart operations today after federal officials approved repairs meant to prevent another accident.

Global Resource Crunch

I want to make this as simple as possible.

The world is in for a serious resource crunch.

That stark reality may be lost on you as we trudge through the other problems that have come to dominate day-to-day American life. It's also a hard concept to grasp when dealing with so much data and propaganda.

Mr. Yergin Is Too Optimistic About the Availability of Oil

Mr. Yergin expresses a conventional view that is likely to please his clients. However, careful examination of the data, some college math and an Excel spreadsheet present a different picture: Hubbert-like curves accurately describe oil production for the world to the present, and estimates of recoverable oil in place constrain future production to a period of decline, reaching half-maximum around 2050. Unconventional oil may add to this, but likely at a total rate of about half that at present.

Don’t Peak: On ill-considered peak oil debates

The term “peak oil” draws attention to the wrong issue. Try an analogy: During any given football game, there will be a point at which the football reaches its maximum height. Call it “peak ball.” Two things are obvious: first, after peak ball, the football will never again be that high; and second, the peak ball moment has almost nothing to do with the overall game. If you want to understand the football game, don’t worry about peak ball. People who frame the discussion in terms of peak ball will miss the point; the game’s real action is elsewhere.

Hess CEO: An Oil Insider Not Willing To Sugarcoat Our Peak Oil Problem

At the time of his address in 2009 oil was back down in the $70 range as a result of the financial crisis which temporarily wiped away 2 million barrels per day of oil demand. Even at this time Hess considered that the $140 per barrel reached in 2008 was not an aberration, but rather a warning.

Hess presciently suggested that once economic growth recovered that it was likely that the oil market would return to the conditions of 2008. We haven’t quite gotten there, but global oil prices haven’t been that far off for most of 2011 (remember WTI crude prices are the exception not the norm).

Breaking Oil's Monopoly on Transportation

The Council's issue statement is worth a read and stands apart from some other similarly-well-intended efforts for its clear recognition that our energy security problem with oil has nearly nothing to do with electricity, and thus won't lend itself to leverage from renewable electricity sources until large numbers of electric vehicles are on the road. That could take decades, as I've noted elsewhere. However, I wish the group had spent more time pondering the source of oil's natural monopoly in transportation energy, because I think it might have given them pause concerning methanol, one of the competing fuels they're trying to promote.

The great energy debate

Some people see shale gas as the answer to our energy needs. Others believe that renewables are the way forward. Unfortunately, there's no easy way of telling what the future might bring.

German enviro chief’s message to Ontarians: ‘Be patient’

“If we take seriously the data about peak oil, the hunger for energy in developing countries, climate change – each of these will lead us to a transformation of energy systems. There’s enough room for Ontario to be in the game, to be ahead of that transformation.”

Lehman did, however, point out some missteps Ontario has made. He was “astonished” the feed-in-tariff rate for solar was set so high. That needs to come down.

Robert Redford: Punching Back at Big Oil

When you challenge Big Oil in Houston, you can bet the industry is going to punch back. So when I wrote in the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that we should say no to the Keystone XL pipeline, I wasn't surprised when the project's chief executive weighed in with a different view.

The corporate rejoinder, written by Alex Pourbaix, president for energy and oil pipelines for the TransCanada Corp., purported to cite "errors" in my oped. Let's set the record straight, point by point.

Information Is Beautiful Awards

Welcome to our first challenge. It’s called Stock Check.

We’d like you to visualise this data on the Earth’s non-renewable resources. Stuff like tin, aluminium, gold, coal, oil – the stuff that we can’t replace. (Unless a huge, ore-bearing comet slams into the planet, of course).

We’ve done a metric tonne of research into the reserves of various earth metals and minerals. Now we’re looking for a graphic that conveys it all.

A World Without Oil

Can you imagine a world without oil? I can. Even with all the oil in which we’re swimming today – as pictured by this excellent graphic from the latest issue of Momentum from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota – I can see a world powered by renewables, generating electricity to fire up electric vehicles and to produce hydrogen for fuel cells. That’s part of the vision that Moving Planet is hoping to further embolden our imaginations with tomorrow.

Practicing the permaculture he preaches

One day, Willoughby believes, there will be no gas for your cars and your toilet will not flush. If that day comes — and Willoughby thinks it will soon — he will wake again on the floor of his dome, load wood into his generator, and his life will not have changed at all.

Fertilizer-Producing Island Cannot Grow Vegetables. It's a Lesson for Us All.

There has been a lot of talk about the difference between resilience and sustainability of late—with the notion of resilience becoming increasingly important as we realize just how fragile our cultural and economic systems may be. But in a world where peak oil looks ever more likely, and where peak fertilizer may not be far behind, could there be anything less resilient than an island economy that is reliant on phosphate mining for fertilizer; imports all of its fresh veggies by plane; and cannot grow veggies in its soil due to a root-eating pest!?

Green Hands, green heart

Clifford Dean Scholz is working on spreading green know-how, and he’s doing it handily.

Clifford started the Green Hands Reskilling Initiative earlier this year. Its motif is a Green Hand sign that you place in your window to let others know you have green skills to teach and talk about. It’s like the Blue “Helping Hand” signs from the '60s and '70s, but for grownups.

Designing Sustainable Structures From the Land Up

Some of the most interesting coverage so far is from The Dirt, the blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects. That might seem odd in some ways. What do solar panels have to do with gardens and lawns?

Republicans Attack on Handling of Stimulus Money and Green Jobs

WASHINGTON — The battle over Solyndra, the California solar equipment manufacturer that took $528 million in government loan guarantees and then declared bankruptcy, moved on to a second House committee on Thursday as Republicans broadened their attack on the Obama administration’s management of stimulus money and its pursuit of alternative energy as a way to spur employment.

Blame-China Chorus Grows as Solyndra Falls

The collapse of Solyndra LLC has renewed demands from U.S. lawmakers and union leaders that the Obama administration pursue unfair-trade complaints against China for out-sized subsidies to its clean-energy companies.

SolarCity Says Loan Guarantee Rejected

The bankruptcy of Solyndra LLC may have scuttled the conditional loan guarantee of SolarCity Corp.

SolarCity, a Foster City, California-based developer of rooftop residential solar projects, said today that the U.S. Energy Department will not complete the $275 million guarantee that was offered one day after Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.

Solyndra haunts other government-backed solar firms

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- At least three other government-backed solar firms face the same challenging market conditions that brought down Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar panel maker that could cost taxpayers over $500 million.

Energy Department OKs new loan guarantees for green projects

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington— The Department of Energy granted final approval to three new loan guarantees for green energy projects, even as it faced continued scrutiny over $528 million in government loan assurances to solar panel maker Solyndra, which went bankrupt.

Japan finds radiation in rice

TOKYO (AP) – Japan is ordering more tests on rice growing near a crippled nuclear plant after finding elevated levels of radiation, government officials said Saturday.

SSE ditches nuclear power for gas, wind and biomass

Scottish and Southern (SSE), the UK's second-biggest energy generator, has abandoned its quest to develop nuclear power in favour of producing more electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind farms and biomass plants.

Dealing a blow to government plans to ramp up nuclear generation, SSE has pulled out of a joint venture with France's GDF Suez and Spain's Iberdrola that would have involved it in atomic energy for the first time.

Bill Gates backs financial transaction tax to aid poor

(Reuters) - A report by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Group of 20 ministers on Friday proposes raising new funding for poorer countries by taxing financial transactions, tobacco, and shipping and aviation fuels, according to details of a G20 report obtained by Reuters.

The Gates Foundation was tasked by current G20 chair, France, to look at how the governments of its member countries could raise new money for aid to developing nations, including plugging an estimated $80-100 billion funding gap to help the poor adapt to climate change.

Putin touts Arctic Northeast passage

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pledged on Thursday to turn the Northeast passage into a key shipping route and modernise its Arctic infrastructure as Moscow seeks to stake out a claim over the energy-rich region.

Russia paints ‘No Trespassing’ sign in the Arctic

As global warming intensifies the race to lay claim to the Arctic and its massive oil and gas reserves, Russia vowed to increase its military presence in the region, telling NATO to stay out.

"Our northern border used to be closed because of ice and a severe climate," Interfax quoted Anton Vasilev, a special ambassador for Russia's Foreign Ministry, as saying. "But as the ice is going away we cannot leave 20,000 kilometres unwatched. We can't leave ourselves in a position where we are undefended."

Dutch Firm OVG Pledges $1B at CGI Meeting

NEW YORK CITY-Dutch real estate firm OVG Real Estate pledged $1 billion toward sustainable building practices Wednesday at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. This is the firm’s second such commitment.

Over the next five years, OVG’s fund will focus on retrofitting existing buildings in C-40 cities, Coen van Oostrom, founder and CEO of OVG Real Estate tells GlobeSt.com. It’s a need that’s brought about by the age of the existing stock of buildings in cities like London, Paris and New York.

See: http://www.globest.com/news/2005_2005/newyork/314245-1.html

On a somewhat related note, a few months ago, I had mentioned that we’re upgrading the lighting at a ferry terminal and I wanted to provide a quick update on the project. Originally, the upper walkway that connects the terminal to the parking lot was illuminated by fifty-nine single-lamp F34T12 fixtures. These fixtures were dirty and corroded and the lamps were butted up against their reflectors which resulted in a significant amount of trapped light.


Due to their deteriorated condition and less than optimal design, we proposed that they be replaced by ten Halo L5300 ceramic metal halide fixtures fitted with 39-watt Philips MasterColour Elite T4.5s and four Halo L3239E fluorescent wall washers fitted with 40-watt PL-L lamps. Light levels, post retrofit, have increased rather dramatically and the area looks more "cheerful", the cross beams are "tidier" in appearance and, most importantly, the total connected load in this area has fallen by 75 per cent.

The MasterColour Elites are a highly efficient light source and offer long service life, exceptional colour rendering and colour stability, and vastly superior lumen maintenance compared to conventional metal halide lamps; in fact, these lamps crank out more lumens at end-of-life than some of their competitors fresh out of the box. In the event of a momentary power bump, the PL-L fluorescents will come back on immediately to ensure that a minimum amount of light is available at all times, thus providing their CDM counterparts the opportunity to re-strike and return to full brightness in due course. We had initially considered LED lighting, but the cost was prohibitive and the MasterColour Elites are one and a half times more energy efficient than the LED alternative.


Previously, twenty-nine of the F34T12 fixtures were left on 24x7 for night duty and the other thirty operated sixty-five hours a week. Now, only the four PL-L heads remain on for security purposes, for an eighty per cent reduction in load during these outside-hours. These lights are also controlled by a timer to further maximize their energy savings, e.g., the lights are turned off for the four hours mid-day that the terminal is closed to the public*.

One additional benefit of the new lighting system is that the fixtures can be easily cleaned so that light loss due to dirt depreciation can be kept to a minimum. The L5300 lamp and reflector are protected by a glass lens and so a quick wipe is all that is required to keep them in good running order. Likewise, the aluminium reflectors on the L3239E heads can be wiped down with a soft cloth whenever their lamps are changed.


* The walkway is wall to wall glass and flooded with daylight and so I had originally proposed that the lights be kept off during daytime hours, however, this suggestion was overruled due to concerns over public safety (given that the terminal opens at 06h00 and closes at 18h30, this would have reduced their operating hours by 80 to 90 per cent). Frankly, I find it hard to imagine how anyone could be put at risk with 2500 lux of light streaming through the glass, but there you have it.

Nice work Paul. Looks a lot better. Maybe you should put a couple of solar panels outside to drive the daytime lights inside ;)


Thanks, NAOM. The amount of electricity saved in just this walkway is twice that consumed by our [nearly] all-electric home, and the ten-year amortized cost is 2.1-cents per kWh saved or about one-third that of coal-fired generation. It's cheap, it's easy and the supply is virtually inexhaustible.


A question about our friend, Daniel Yergin. Is anyone aware of any article in the MSM that highlights Mr. Yergin's track record of consistently being wrong about oil prices & production trends? Following is my first draft of the summary of a paper I am writing on Mr. Yergin's 2004/2005 predictions regarding oil prices, production and exports:

Summary, Three Strikes and You Are Out?

In late 2004, Daniel Yergin predicted that we would be back down to a long term price ceiling of about $38 by late 2005. A year later, in late 2005, the WTI spot price was about $58, and Mr. Yergin’s predicted price ceiling has in fact so far been the price floor. Strike One.

In 2005, Mr. Yergin predicted that there would be a “Large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years.” After rising sharply from 2002 to 2005, global total petroleum liquids production has basically been flat, similar to the production plateau that we saw in the North Sea. Strike Two.

In 2005, Mr. Yergin implied that rising demand from Chindia could be easily accommodated, without adversely affecting other importers, because of the “unprecedented buildup of oil supply.” While Chindia increased their net oil imports from 2005 to 2010, many developed countries, especially the US, were forced to take a declining share of a falling volume of Global Net Exports. Strike Three.

So, three strikes and you are out? Surely multiple media outlets have taken note of how catastrophically wrong Mr. Yergin has been? If they have, I haven’t seen any evidence of it in the Mainstream Media (MSM).

I am beginning to think that the MSM can’t afford to damage Mr. Yergin’s credibility, since he is their designated expert on why Peak Oil is some kind of hallucination. In fact, Mr. Yergin’s usefulness to the media will probably only increase as evidence for a near term peak/plateau in global production, and a peak in Global Net Exports, continues to accumulate.

I am frequently reminded of the old joke about a wife who comes in and finds her husband in bed with another woman. He vehemently denies it and asks, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” It would appear that Mr. Yergin’s designated role is to persuade us that we are not seeing what we are seeing. “There are none so blind, as those who will not see.”


Indeed, someone needs to take this guy to to task. Consistently wrong predictions and yet he gets marched out by MSM as the ultimate expert on all things oil. He's part of the propaganda machine, the problem is that Yergin's been anointed high priest in this field and most everyone swallows his BS unchallenged like a faithful flock. It's Jim Jones all over again, but on a global scale. Cup of Kool-Aid anyone?

Why not say "China and India"? I think some people may be a little turned off by the 'Chindia' lingo. (Or "China, India, and other fast-growing nations" which can later be referred to as "fast-growing nations".

One thing I noticed about Yergin's latest article is that he carefully used weasel words such that he won't be technically wrong this time even if oil production drops. Specifically, he refers to 'oil production capacity'. So Yergin's rant implies oil prices will remain reasonable because of ample 'oil production capacity'. But in reality, price may rise very high due to growing demand and struggling supply. He'll just say well, we have the 'capacity' to pump more oil . . . we just don't because people don't seem willing to pay $150/barrel for it.

Here is how I am addressing the "capacity" issue in the first draft:

Incidentally, Mr. Yergin is technically talking about “Capacity,” and he includes biofuels, which have a low net energy component, in his total liquids number. However, I think that Mr. Yergin’s intent was pretty clear; he was predicting a robust increase in global total liquids production, since he explicitly stated that “such growth over the next few years” would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

And here is the excerpt (emphasis added) that I am using from Yergin's 2005 column in the Washington Post*:

But it is oil that gets most of the attention. Prices around $60 a barrel, driven by high demand growth, are fueling the fear of imminent shortage -- that the world is going to begin running out of oil in five or 10 years. This shortage, it is argued, will be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from two giants: China and India.

Yet this fear is not borne out by the fundamentals of supply. Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day -- from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day -- a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

* http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR200507...
It's Not the End Of the Oil Age
By Daniel Yergin
Sunday, July 31, 2005

since he explicitly stated that “such growth over the next few years” would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

Careful . . . he only says that such growth *COULD* happen (and that if did, it would relieve current pressure). He is a master of using weasel words. He says something bold (which you put in bold) but then he takes it away with the very next sentence.

There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day -- from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day -- a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

Look, I'm sure we have the 'capacity' to produce over 101 million barrels of oil per day . . . if people are willing to pay $500/barrel. So what? Capacity to produce is irrelevant if consumers can't pay for it. Now for him and the oil companies that he works for, their business will be great. But for the average American consumer and the American economy? . . . expensive oil may mean lay-offs, destroyed household budgets, skipping medication in order to fill the gas tank, etc.

Yergin sure loves trotting out the strawman of "running out of oil" every time he gets the chance. Never mind the fact that no responsible peak oil person ever talks about "running out of oil" and he full well knows it. But having an honest discussion is not his goal.

"Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow"

That's about the time Jeffrey started saying he had the capacity to date Julia Roberts.

I started to tell my "Julia Roberts" story, but I have a word limit, which I have already surpassed.

My take is that he only tried to weasel out on the magnitude of the production increase, not whether there would be a production increase.

Hi speculawyer,

Thanks for bringing up the use of "Chindia". Presumably, folks have used it as a convenient, semi-technical, shorthand and I don't want to question motives. But for what it's worth, I too am a little turned off by this coinage. In all events, let's encourage those who want to write persuasively that "China and India" is better usage.


The Cornell economist Will Martin gives a great explanation of the false assumptions made by many economists. The link Oil Supply and Demand and the Next Oil Price Spike explains non-linearity of supply curve due to lack of spare capacity above 87 mbpd and inelasticity of demand curve due to high-growth developing nations.

If the number of cars per capita in China were to reach the level we have in the US, China would singlehandedly use all of the current world oil production.

Thanks brit, a good link. I read the transcript first but I think the 14 min vid is also worth watching.

I think a good critique of Yergin is well worth looking to get published, for sure. You'll need to flesh out the three strikes. Regular TOD readers know what you're saying, general public - probably not. I think the $38 = 1 Yergin is a funny and good way to get strike one across, for example.

I don't think it will be effective to state that the attention Yergin gets is part of a grand MSM conspiracy. Perhaps better to say, while Yergin is a Pulitzer prize winning historian, he is no fortune teller.

But he predictions have been consistently wrong, and the greater his errors, the more he seems to be described as one of the world's leading energy experts. I don't think that media types get together in a smoke filled room and agree not to blow the whistle on him. I think that on an individual basis, they just find him useful, and they don't want to see his credibility hurt.

" ...they don't want to see his credibility hurt."

They don't want to see their own credibility hurt.

Which is how I think he should be dealt with.

I hear NPR using his 'sage advice' from time to time, and I'd send in responses to them to let them know that his take is not reliable, and provably, laughably so.

The companies that call on his 'Gravitas' need to be chastened for that choice.


Yergin is a Pulitzer prize winning historian, ...
But he predictions have been consistently wrong, ...

The Pulitzer is a prize given for journalism, not history. Yergin has won the prize that every MSM journalist hopes to win some day. Winning that prize makes him an untouchable god. Editors in the MSM respect him, more importantly they know that whatever he says will be OK with the owners of the media. They can safely publish it without having to run it by the boss.

I suppose that part of Yergin's 'research' for his latest book was inviting journalists to lunch and trying various plot lines on them. Imagine a working journalist panning a book by an author of his stature who invited him to lunch.

There is more to being an influential person than merely writing a book, and Yergin has got it.

Hi geek7,

Not to be too pedantic, but Yergin won the Pulitzer for General Non-Fiction, not Journalism. Also, there is a Pulitzer awarded for history.

(edit: poor grammar)

more here

The Sad Record of Daniel Yergin and Cambridge Energy Research Associates

btw Pulitzer prize(s) is/are for book writing (and literature and musical composition),
so the writers in the MSM are bedazzled by a god-that-they-might-become.

Yergin won 1992 General Nonfiction category.

There will always be people that will believe anything they want to hear, no matter how ridiculous.

Don't like that you are poor, are less handsome than others, have less power and have done some bad deeds? No problem, the meek shall inherit the earth and all of your sins will be forgiven. Even better, there is a heaven out there where you will live in paradise, just as long as you believe the message, and the messenger.

So, as long as the messenger, Mr. Yergin, says that we can continue to do what we have been doing and that humanity will soon get back to long-term growth without changing anything, there will be many people that will believe it, no matter how that message flies in the face of reality.

We humans are amazing!

The only moral way forward is to engineer a global soft landing. Too bad we, collectively, are not wise enough to pull this off. The Great Lesson must first be learned - exponential growth in a finite system cannot go on in perpetuity.

We evolved on a planet that always had more resources, as long as we ventured out far enough to obtain them. We were tiny compared to Earth. This, obviously, is no longer the case.

That message is just too harsh to be believed...

Hi Jeffrey,

I’m also grateful you’re taking this on.

Some initial comments, in case they’re helpful.

1) “After rising sharply from 2002 to 2005, global total petroleum liquids production has basically been flat, similar to the production plateau that we saw in the North Sea. Strike Two.”

Could you possibly add a sentence about why the comparison between global total and North Sea production plateau is relevant?

Perhaps along the lines of: “The current global plateau is a summation of regional and individual field plateaus. Thus, we can expect a global decline to follow from a global plateau, once we look at the underlying data from regions - (individual fields? ) - that make up the total for the world.”

2) “I am beginning to think that the MSM can’t afford to damage Mr. Yergin’s credibility, since he is their designated expert on why Peak Oil is some kind of hallucination.”

My suggestion here is to re-write this sentence (and perhaps the next one) because (my experience indicates) the vast majority of even educated people simply don’t/won’t/can’t (denial?) understand “peak.”

I’d avoid the phrase “Peak Oil is some kind of hallucination” – even though the context is one we (TOD types) understand. Most people don’t/won’t/can’t (etc) grasp the larger context, so I think this will sail right over their heads. ("Peak as...Hallucination" might stick, though. That's what I'm worried about. )

Perhaps I’d even change the focus: shift from trying to explain why MSM doesn’t critique Yergin…to a statement about why it’s imperative to 1) understand we are facing a decline in production, regardless of how much capacity is in those…whatever regions (deep down under the sea, etc.).

And 2) Understand this means we must take immediate action to understand and lessen the predicted economic and real impacts (to infrastructure, agricultural systems, etc.) (Or, however best one might say it.)

Thanks for the comments. Bart at the EB made a number of helpful suggestions, and I have submitted the final draft. One thing that I have learned as an amateur writer is that writing is easy; what is hard is producing quality writing.

In any case, in regard to my principal question, apparently no one is aware of any MSM outlet that has highlighted Mr. Yergin's numerous failures regarding his price and production predictions.

Hi Jeffrey,

re: "Mr. Yergin's numerous failures regarding his price and production predictions."

It would be great to them in in a graphical or poster format.

There is one in one of the recent articles, I think dealing with the predictions.


Thanks for the correction. I think that there is some kind of inverse relationship here, i.e., the more erroneous that Mr. Yergin's prediction can be shown to be, the greater his value to the MSM, and the more celebrated he becomes as a leading energy expert.

I'll not be the one to accuse the MSM of being the Mainstream Clarity Media. They serve their masters well. Swimming against a foul tide, we are.

One wonders what the ELOMI (energy lost on misinformation) is. We need a model to determine the LEQ (liar's energy quotient).

I have posted my views on dealing with Yergin and the general public recently and won't repeat them tonight.

What I have done is to put my copy of his older book, with well justified and sincere praise, into the hands of a college educated, intelligent but pretty right wingish acquaintance, who will certainly read it, and enjoy it.

Then having established that I am sympathetic to his world view, my next step in turning him into a believer in peak oil will be to gently and indirectly lead him to some place where he will,privately, without losing any face, read about Yergin's and other cornucopians price prediction record-from some source he finds creditable.This will work, because he is an original thinker within his own area of expertise, which is business administration.

Sometime later, I do not doubt that he will demonstrate, in therapeutic communications jargon, " readiness to learn".

But insofar as simply TELLING HIM he is wrong goes, I might as well just go ahead and accuse him of being a fool to his face in front of his business associates and family.

The only problem I will encounter will be to find an article, in some respectable middle of the road to conservative publication, that sketches out the record of the bau experts in predicting commodites prices in general, and oil prices in particular, over the last few decades, and to get it into his hands.

We shouldn't expect anything from the major mass media except cheerleading for bau; to expect anything else is utterly niave, as the mass media are either owned and operated as subsidiarys of other even bigger businesses with an iron grip on policy. Any independent media , if any still exist, is pretty much wholly dependent on the good will and advertising of the rest of the business mainstream, and just as tightly throttled as a result.

Please don't anybody make me toss my dinner by mentioning NPR;NPR is just about as big a cheerleader for bau as any other broadcaster, when you get down to the nitty gritty, although they do do a fairly decent job with environmental and other scientific news.I know, as I listen to NPR regularly, given that there is nothing else of any interest to me on the radio except the weather forecast and the local news.At least NPR only insults your intelligence by failing to seriously report the energy and economy stories;the rest of the programming is pretty good to excellent, if a little leftish to my personal tastes.

The democrats in general have proven to my satisfaction that they love big biz just about as ardently as the republicans in recent times.A pox on both thier houses, I say, and Nate Hagens for president, Gail the Actuary for treasurer, Leanan for press secretary, Rockman for head of the EPA,and the rest of the regular guys who post lead articles and good informative commentary filling all the other top level jobs, each according to his or her area of expertise.

I often hear that NPR is "leftish". Can you give an example OFM?

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

I think that there is some kind of inverse relationship here, i.e., the more erroneous that Mr. Yergin's prediction can be shown to be, the greater his value to the MSM, and the more celebrated he becomes as a leading energy expert.

I'm of the opinion that two things are at work here. First, MSM has become over the years extremely complacent (lazy) when it comes to researching information and people, and they are suckers for those individuals representing institutions. Yergin is the face of CERA, and although it is funded by big oil, it represents in the view of MSM a credible source. So when they get contacted that the Author The Prize has a new book, and is the leader of CERA, then they invite him in and gobble up what he says without any hard questions. There's no hard questions because they failed to research the outcome of his predictions before he goes on the air.

True not just for Yergin- Allan Greenspan comes to mind as yet another person who acquired greater credibility the more wrong he was.

Re: Don’t Peak: On ill-considered peak oil debates, up top:

What a crock of nonsense. Analogy is a weak form of argument to begin with. Analogy is only valid if the things being compared are very much alike.

A football in a football game is in no way similar to Hubbert's curve even if they both reach peaks. And oil is not a football. Footballs do not deplete, nor do football games.

The author claims that Peak Oil is a distraction. I submit his whole argument is a distraction. It is worse than useless gobbledygook.

;) ...because you can PUNT in football, but not if in Peak Oil! ;)

Seems to me the powers-that-be are lining up in Business-As-Usual punt formation even as we type...

I never realized that Drumbeat was being crossposted at Environmental, Health and Safety News. One learns something new every day :-0

It'll be interesting to compare the comments..

Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions. 2011 report from
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) of the
European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC)

After a 1% decline in 2009, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by more than 5% in 2010, which is unprecedented in the last two decades, but similar to the increase in 1976 when the global economy was recovering from the first oil crisis and subsequent stock market crash. CO2 emissions went up in most of the major economies, led by China and India with increases of 10% and 9% respectively. The average annual growth rate in CO2 emissions over the last three years of the credit crunch, including a 1% increase in 2008 when the first impacts became visible, is 1.7%, almost equal to the long-term annual average of 1.9% for the preceding two decades back to 1990. However, most industrialised countries have not recovered fully from their decreases in emissions of 7 to 12% in 2009.

The industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol plus the non-ratifying USA have emitted approximately 7.5% less CO2 in 2010 than in 1990 and collectively remain on target to meet the original Kyoto Protocol objective of a 5.2% reduction. However, there are large national differences, with for instance over the period 1990 – 2010 decreases in CO2 emissions in the EU and Russia, increases in the USA and stabilisation in Japan. The efforts of the industrialised countries are increasingly hidden in the global picture where their share of CO2 emissions has dropped from about two-thirds to less than half since 1990. Continued growth in the developing nations and economic recovery in the industrialised countries are the main reasons for a record breaking 5.8% increase in 2010 in global CO2 emissions to an absolute maximum of 33.0 billion ton. Increased energy end-use efficiency, nuclear energy and the growing contribution from renewable energy cannot yet compensate for the globally increasing demand for power and transport. This illustrates the large and joint effort still required for mitigating climate change.

These preliminary estimates have been made by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) on the basis of energy consumption data for 2008 to 2010 recently published by BP. The estimates are also based on production data for cement, lime, ammonia and steel and emissions per country from 1970 to 2008 from version 4.2 of the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), a joint project of JRC and PBL.

Good catch, M.

Economist has something on GW and the Arctic melt, too:


The reason is that Arctic air is warming twice as fast as the atmosphere as a whole. Some of the causes of this are understood, but some are not. The darkness of land and water compared with the reflectiveness of snow and ice means that when the latter melt to reveal the former, the area exposed absorbs more heat from the sun and reflects less of it back into space. The result is a feedback loop that accelerates local warming. Such feedback, though, does not completely explain what is happening. Hence the search for other things that might assist the ice’s rapid disappearance.

Hence the search for other things that might assist the ice’s rapid disappearance.

Two candidates. Black carbon. Not all anthropogenic aerosols are light colored (like sulphates), some is dark, such as tiny carbon particles. The later can absorb solar energy in the atmosphere, and this effect will be greater over high albedo surfaces. Less appreciated, some of the BC is deposited on/in the snow, and makes it less reflective, so it is more prone to melting even at a fixed temperature. The second is vegetation changes. Much permafrost is covered by woody plants, dwarf trees, or even mature trees. With warmer longer summers they grow taller, and for a given depth of snowcover the albedo is lower.

And, slightly off topic but still speaking vaguely of aerosols, the ozone hole has peaked at 26 million square kilometers, within 1 million square kilometers of the record.


Different Spin on Solyndra . . . it failed because (Other) Solar PV is succeeding

Why haven't any commentators pointed out that the reason why Solyndra went bankrupt is because OTHER solar makers (PV panel makers) have been very successful. I've been watching solar prices because I've been getting ready to do another solar installation. I had been budgeting around $18K to build a system around 3KW. But I got busy with other things and dropped the project for a while. And when discussing PV systems here on theoildrum, someone pointed out that I could build a 3KW system less than $7K in parts! I was amazed how much prices had dropped in such a short time.

So this meme of "Look, solar is a failure because Solyndra went bankrupt" couldn't be any more wrong. Solyndra went bankrupt because other solar makers have been hugely successful in getting the prices down faster then them. So Solyndra's bankruptcy is evidence of solar's success, not solar's failure!. The biggest cost of solar is now the installation cost. If you are a home-owner and a DIYer, I very highly recommend looking into doing a solar PV system since the costs are very reasonable. Here is a site where you can find links to suppliers of solar systems:

Here is an example of a ridiculously cheap 3KW system (lacking racks):

For comparison, I build a 1.6KWH system several years ago and it cost me $21K in parts alone!

Those thin-film systems are ridiculously cheap. Personally, it is not a good option for me since I have limit area to work with so getting better efficiency is important. I want to be able to power my home and an EV from my limited roof space. But the silicon based systems are really cheap too. Here is a 5KW(!) system for ~$10K:
Buy an electric car and that system will provide your fuel for the next 30 years!

The market and the DoE now really need to work on figuring how to reduce installation costs. And they both have been doing it.

That's a great price on both systems, though I agree, the thin films take up a lot of space and aren't framed, it seems, making installation more problematic. The inverters are nice, though I would want to have the battery backup capability that some of the Outbacks allow. More money for charge controllers and batteries, but it would be frustrating to have all of those watts unavailable during outages.

Battery-back-up is great for rich people, doomers/survivalists, and people out in the middle of nowhere. But for your typical suburban home-owner Battery back-up systems are really a bad idea. They just add cost and complexity to the PV system. How often do you have an outage in a typical suburban area? A day a year or so? It just isn't worth the cost.

"How often do you have an outage in a typical suburban area?"

I wouldn't know. For the additional cost one could get a nice generator. I guess it all depends on one's outlook and faith in the continuity of our complex systems. Then again, life in suburbia is a distant memory for me....

It just isn't worth the cost.

Depends on your values. For your average consumer, whose primary concerns are about cost, you are probably right. But that consumer probably isn't quite ready for solar PV in most regions either, given the front end costs.

Most PV adopters are probably considering multiple factors. For me, adopting home solar is about moving from 'consumer' to 'producer.' About values involving independence, self-reliance, and freedom. Economic decisions are value-laden, even if most people don't consider the values inherent in their decisions.

Insert RASPBERRY sound here.

I think that's a pretty extreme pronouncement. Too many gray areas.

I think it's a really bad idea to put in an Inverter that doesn't have an Off-Grid Option, or to otherwise have some of your own capacity. Otherwise, you're just treating your home power with the same "Just In Time" Inventory mentality that has made so much of the retail sector unresilient.

Backup can be infinitely sizable, and it might make sense to just have a couple KiloWatt-Hours available. But I think, with the things we generally agree here are upon us, that our expectation of 'Suburban Stability' needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

It doesn't even have to mean that you have batteries that are simply sitting there unused until a blackout.. it's certainly possible to run them to a set level of discharge at night so that you are offsetting various draws beyond the sunlit hours.

Perhaps having an EV that can provide to a house inverter would be a reasonable hedge, so you have some more flexibility with the way you can make use of stored energy.

A more practical choice for many (not all) is install solar PV, an inverter with an off-grid option, but zero off grid capability i.e. batteries.

If things begin to fail around the edges, adding batteries (with associated costs, hassle and theft risk) may, or may not, be worthwhile.

Adding batteries will likely be easier to do, and cheaper, than taking the big step - installing solar PV.

Today, except for those living in Texas or "out in the boonies", electrical reliability is too good to justify batteries. If tomorrow is different, add batteries.


Best Hopes for Logical Choices,


PS: Batteries (except rare Edison) have quite limited life expectancies, unlike solar PV.

Delaying the purchase of batteries for two years adds two years to the "end-of-life" date.

Nickel-iron (Edison) batteries aren't that rare anymore.
But they are very expensive.


Alan, getting an inverter with the option may be a good compromise position if you are worried about it. But comparing a SunnyBoy 5000 (grid-tie only) to a Sunny Island 5048 (does battery charging) seems to raise the price by around $1500 to $2000. I think just getting a grid-tie inverter would be fine since you could always swap it out with a battery charging inverter later if TSHTF.

Cheapest on-line prices

SB 5000 US $2,603
SI 5048 US $3,974

Basically a 50% premium or 2:3 cost ratio.

However, 1) Inverters have limited lifespans (a decade plus typically) 2) You will not throw away a SB 5000 if you buy an SI 5048.

If one becomes concerned @ power reliability. one could buy an SI 5048 but leave the SB 5000 installed. If one enters a high risk period or a prolonged unexpected outage starts, swap out (not difficult for a home owner). This strategy assumes that an overnight outage is acceptable.

It ages the cheaper, less capable inverter more.

Just some thoughts,


Buying a spare inverter is a pretty costly action to take. If I take Alans numbers the SB%))) goes for $.52/watt. The sunshot program to aims(hopes) to get installed PV to $1/watt by 21107, assumes inverters can reach $.10/watt. Buying an inverter now, and letting it sit in storage for several years represents a significant opportunity cost.

Just to clarify - the option I am suggesting is to buy the low feature, grid-only inverter today.

Then wait till you get nervous about grid reliability (hopefully never - but at least a few years from now).

THEN buy the off-grid option inverter (plus batteries). But keep the old one in place until a more direct need arrives such as :

massive heat wave, blizzard, hurricane, public warning @ grid (like in Texas last month) OR the power goes out for several hours.

Then homeowner installs off-grid option inverter and batteries. In a pre-wired swap, not that big a deal.

Delaying the purchase of the full featured inverter (and batteries) allows for the price to drop.


Best Hopes for Back-ups when you need them,


Hi Alan ~
Unfortunately, here in the self-reliant Midwestern Plains States we are bound and determined to keep our powerlines on poles instead of burying them, thus maintaining jobs and boosting the local economy when the next ice storm comes along. Now, ain't that perversity at its best?

Postscript: At least we're burying our new fiber-optic network :)

I'll mention a "cheap" way I use PV. I hadn't heard of this approach, but then I don't frequent websites where this stuff is discussed, I just make it up as I go along.

The panels are cheap these days. Likewise, mounting them on a roof is cheap if you don't need to worry about codes and permitting but just do it yourself. What costs a lot are grid-tie inverters and wiring of same, since you typically need to get into an agreement with your power company, and they require wiring by folks who - at least here - charge 'way more than the rest of the system.

So what I've played around with is basically "use solar while the sun shines", for things like fans, water pumps, refrigerators with storage for thermal inertia, and other draws which are non-critical but add to life quality. For such uses you can get a quite cheap charge controller, and an even cheaper inverter. Then just one or two batteries to smooth the load, but basically the power is being used real-time. A low-voltage disconnect stops the power if the voltage drops below 12.1v, so the batteries last pretty well. Moreover, the batteries don't need to be all that great for short-term load smoothing when clouds go by.

Adding extra storage would take just a few minutes, if I decide to and batteries are available.

There's probably some reason this doesn't make sense, but not knowing what it is, I've being doing it. it helps that sun is fairly reliable in my area.

I also have some systems that are just straight DC, like an exhaust fan or a water pump to filter and circulate our pond hooked directly to a panel. There's a certain elegance to that sort of simplicity.


Add some decent quality deep cycle batteries and 12 V LED lighting (wiring <50 V is much easier code) for alternative lighting - day and night.

Also, computer power supplies for 12 V DC (chargers made for cars - cigarette lighter male - install female hooked up to batteries/solar PV).

No contribution to the grid - lost value but added cost for that capability.

Best Hopes for Solar Solutions,



A trick with 12v dc, house battery packs run about 12.5v, cars are always being charged when they are running and are more like 14.5v. Therefore items meant for cars are tuned for 14.5v and usually do not work well on the house system.
This is from personel experiance. To charge my computer i have to run it though the inverter and use the ac charger, as the car charger could not supply the required voltage, to the point it was dangerously low for the computer and the computer shut down.
Moral of the story, 12v is not necessary 12volts, you need to read what it was designed for.

The panels are cheap these days. Likewise, mounting them on a roof is cheap if you don't need to worry about codes and permitting but just do it yourself. What costs a lot are grid-tie inverters and wiring of same, since you typically need to get into an agreement with your power company, and they require wiring by folks who - at least here - charge 'way more than the rest of the system.

No! No, no, no! Grid-tie inverters are not expensive but more importantly, you can do it yourself. The utility will push you towards having installers do it, but you are not REQUIRED have installers do it. You are required to have it approved and inspected by the local building department . . . but you can do it yourself. I've done it.

If you don't know what you are doing then you need an installer (and that does include most people). But if you can handle a job like adding a subpanel then you can probably install your own solar system. It is not rocket science. It is basic electrician work.

Grid-tie here requires completing an agreement with the power company, which requires sign-off by one of their approved contractors. I talked to two, and the one who quoted a price wanted 8 grand to wire up a 1.2kw system that was already mounted to the roof.

My 2500W DC inverter was just over a hundred bucks.

Grid-tie here requires completing an agreement with the power company, which requires sign-off by one of their approved contractors. I talked to two, and the one who quoted a price wanted 8 grand to wire up a 1.2kw system that was already mounted to the roof.

Where do you live? Can you provide the web site to your power company? I certainly hope you are not going by what the contractor told you . . . they clearly have a conflict of interest on giving accurate information.

The USA does have a proud rugged-individualist tradition . . . and even though the utility company will push you toward contractors and make it look like contractors are the only path in their glossy brochures, there generally is an option to do it yourself. You can also run into anti-trust legal troubles mandating specific suppliers . . . especially when you are regulated monopoly like a utility.

Again . . . most people SHOULD use a contractor since most people can't even seem to change a flat tire or change their own oil these days. But if you are handy DIYer, you can do it.

With grid tie there is a safety issue too. When the mains are down your personal system has to detect that, and disconnect itself from the grid. Otherwise you risk frying some poor lineman with your system. Liability will be absolute and infinite, and since you didn't have it done by a licensed electrician, the homeowner's policy will likely not cover it.

The inverters handle all of that (assuming properly installed). And that is where the building inspectors come in.

Edit: BTW, I love how I am bashed for both asserting rugged-individualism (install a PV system yourself!) and not being rugged individualist enough (You need a battery-back-up because 'the man' can maintain the grid!). :-)

Grid-tie inverters are not expensive but more importantly, you can do it yourself

I recommend looking at copies of Home Power magazine at your local library, bookstore, or getting a subscription. They have many documented articles of grid-tie PV home systems.

Full disclosure: I used to have a subscription to Home Power magazine ( http://homepower.com ), and kept them as reference for future projects.

I wonder: Is it possible to get island generation to work with more common hardware? Has anyone tried this?

I.e. hook up a sinewave DC/AC inverter to a battery(-pack) to trick the simple on-grid inverter into thinking that the grid is in proper order? The on-grid inverters push PV power on the AC lines which is then used to charge the battery using a regular battery charger and supply other devices. If this is working then perhaps other generators could be added as well (wood->steam->generator of wind etc).


battery -> DC/AC -> normal house wiring <- PV inverter <- PV panels
  ^--battery charger --|

I worry that in a situation where there is not much load on the 'house wiring' the on-grid inverter will attempt to push the PV power on the grid and thus increase voltage until safety levels are reached and shuts down...

BTW. the battery, DC/AC inverter and battery charger could be salvaged from a secondhand large(-ish) UPS like an APC 2500 VA class UPS.

LOL. I knew I'd get these responses on here. :-) I tried to preempt them with this:

Battery-back-up is great for rich people, doomers/survivalists, and people out in the middle of nowhere.

That's you guys. Yes there will be storm damage and SNAFUs, but the grid in the USA is very reliable. The statistics bear it out. Certainly many of you think it won't continue like that . . . but you need to be rational and admit that your views are those of a tiny minority. I think you are wrong and we can agree to disagree.

But even if you guys are right, you can always swap out your inverter later for one with battery back-up abilities and add batteries.

Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you go around telling everyone they need an inverter with charging abilities and a battery array then you will be making PV systems much more expensive and thus LOWER their adoption rate.

independence, self-reliance, and freedom


I respectfully disagree that those are equivalent.

But don't worry, I don't go around telling anyone what to do.
Except, occasionally, telling them to plant apple trees.

There was also the 'out in the middle of nowhere' clause that might capture that. :-)

No man is an island. The only reason we have such better standards of living than our predecessors is from things like the specialization of labor and mass manufacturing. "independence, self-reliance, and freedom" are good to a point . . . but should everyone grow their own food? Raise their own lambs/cotton, spin them into fabric, and sew their own clothing?

Being grid-tied is better than isolated solar, IMHO. The systems are cheaper/simpler. And you can sell expensive peak energy to the utility and buy back cheap excess capacity electricity at night. The grid effectively acts as your 'battery'.

And I think having your own fruit trees is great. I've got a pear tree and a lemon tree. :-)

... the specialization of labor and mass manufacturing ...

The mark of civilization. I can hardly deny it; yet the older I get, the less I trust it. Not just the sustainability piece of it, but the nature of the men who live within it, the nature of civilization itself. My progressive view of history is overtaken by a cyclic view. Which is not to say we should run from it, or yearn for its demise. But rather to recognize that homo sapiens is not fully adapted to it, not fully realized in it.

So, on the other hand, we have Heinlein (who spent much of his life working as at the rather specialized skill of authoring): A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

No computers without specialization. No specialization without giving up a piece of our humanity. A quandary.

"you can always swap out your inverter later for one with battery back-up abilities and add batteries."

Well, that is part of the assumption that leaves me looking towards the other path. I don't think that once things turn south, if they do (I'm a 'provisional' doomer, mind you), you might not have that option, as both personal cashflow and in-stock inverters could be quickly evaporating.

Either way, the PV is really the key element. There is simple DC power in them.. finding a charger or some way to use that power isn't rocket surgery..

I live between Two Hospitals, should be dead-on power.. and we have been having increasing glitches..

Don't be nervous, don't be flustered, don't be scared.. Be Prepared! (Tom Lehrer)

All of the above is very interesting, since I spent the day playing around with the jigsaw puzzle of PV, beetle battery car, stirling generator (wood), and of course, the grid. And the fact that the PV is across the road from my house and car park, and workshop, since that's where the sun shines.

At the moment, the puzzle fits together fairly well like this- The PV is dedicated to the battery beetle only, which I park outside the guest house with the solar roof. The stirling sits in my workshop. When the sun don't shine, which is fairly often, then I move the beetle to the workshop, and charge it there with the stirling, which is of course also heating the workshop. I inherited a very fancy inverter when I liberated the stirling from the morgue , so, if I want, I can use the stirling- beetle battery pack to run the whole house, with the grid totally not connected. The wiring is such as to make it impossible to have both grid and inverter connected to the house or to each other. I will never sell any juice to the grid.

I can of course, use the grid to charge the car, but that would render my PR pitch a bit hollow, the pitch being the reason for the whole show.

My commute is very short, so the battery pack in the car is plenty full almost always.

Count me very unimpressed with my local grid.

15 miles from the U.S. Capitol, we have averaged two overnight power outages a year over the past decade.


About a third of the houses on our street have permanently installed national gas generators. Most of the rest, us included, have portables.


I'm really not against having the Grid-tied part, and even leaning on that almost exclusively.. but I am really serious that having some of your own power stored can be critically helpful. We need interdependence, but we also need definite degrees of Independence as well.. and I don't think that makes me some kind of Isolationist.

As I have things set up right now, I have a little bit of PV up just running standalone systems, so that my office has had solar lighting and a bit of incidental battery charging for the last several months. It's actually tiny, about 1/8 kwh of juice, but I know I can accomplish a number of functions there with a source that's replenished independently. It's really a matter of 'Diversifying your Portfolio' as much as any other term I can think of.

All the allusions to Doomers and Preppers I have to say I find pretty narrowly stereotypical, since they are quickly associated with 'cranks and extremists', which I don't really think fits what this is for.

"Tiny PV" is the road my family is taking right now. We have a little (laptop size) solar panel that someone gave us that we've mounted on the roof, and we wired an LED bulb (in the kitchen) to it.

After we figured out how well that worked, we added a battery (in a little housing under an eave near the solar panel) so the light would work at night, and then we purchased an inverter, so we could charge cellphones and ipods. None of what we purchased was outrageously expensive. I think we've sunk $60 into the project.

In the six weeks that our "system" has been operational, we've had two 3+ hour power outages, and we live just a little NW of Atlanta. Having a functional light in the kitchen when the neighborhood goes dark has been very nice, especially since power outages always seem to happen in the evening.

I know there are little LED "stick-on" lights that run on rechargable batteries that would have been cheaper, but with the inverter we have the option, in a longer outage, to charge other items (for ourselves and our neighbors). Note: I may be rationalizing the expense here.

Overall, it's been a lot of fun to work out how to put this together, and we are planning to set up a similar tiny system at the other end of the house.

I noticed that one of our local buses had LED strip lights in it, stuck to the roof. They were long strips with LEDs in groups of three as someone described the other day. It seems these these must be available from automotive spares places especially those that supply buses. Just a heads up if anyone is looking for them


Count me very unimpressed with my local grid.

15 miles from the U.S. Capitol, we have averaged two overnight power outages a year over the past decade.

If you are without power for 48 hours per year, that works out to %99.9945 up time. You and most of your neighbors have either permanently installed natural gas generators or portables? Sounds like first world problems to me! You should get out of that ghetto and move somewhere nicer :-)

You ended up with two too many nines, its 99.45%, which really isn't too good.

edit: bad math on my part!

No electricity for 24 hrs.
My short term experience on Sept.08,2011.
I started my Honda 2000i around 1600 hrs. and ran cords to the 'Fridge and a light in the kitchen, a light in the bird's room and to my son's room and computer. Power restored at 0300.
My RV has a generator, 20gl. gas tank and 100gl. water tank. My lifeboat.

An aquaintence at work wanted to know if a 1500watt Honda gasoline generator could power his refrigerator (he was worried about the draw of the startup transient, not average power). What is your experience? How much overkill is needed.

no problemo.

It is what I use when the power is out many times a year. I can run a toaster...coffee maker....whatever. Mine has 2 20 A circuits. I mainly have it so the well pump works....1/2 horsepower. I use it for my shop as needed...stuff drawing up to 15 A.

For say the pump, what is the ratio of pump amps to what the generator is rated at? What happens if the demand from the pump exceeds the rated out of the generator? I presume the voltage drops. But does that cause any harm to anything on the circuit -including the generator?

It's hard to say for sure what will happen when you try to run an electric motor that has a heavy starting amp draw with a generator not quite up to the job.

Most of the time, the generator engine pulls full throttle and there is some voltage drop, and the electric motor starts, but more slowly than usual-if the mismatch between motor and generator is minor.In the case that the motor is simply too large, and the generator too small, a circuit breaker usually trips.

But sometimes the motor may burn out-I have seen that happen at least twice personally.I have not seen a generator fail due to overloading it , as the breakers have always tripped.

If you may have to run a well pump in a deep well, it is probably wise to get AT LEAST a five thousand watt generator-around here even that is marginal, and you will likely find upon investigating that you have a 240 volt pump-many generators are 120 volts only.Its sad but true that manufacturers often get a little optimistic in rating thier products output.I have seen a rather old American made generator rated at three thousand watts easily start and run a load that a five thousand watt imported model sold at a local big box / chain type store can't get started.

If you are "homesteading" or "forting up" I strongly reccomend that thought be given to buying a welding machine that will double as your backup power supply.It will pay for itself easily if you will put a few hours in learning how to do some basic welding.

The best thing would be to borrow a generator and try it ahead of time if in doubt and money is a serious consideration-otherwise you will be glad you have that five thousand watt minimum-it will enable you to do a lot more things silmantaneously, such as charge your power tool batteries and a worklight while running your "skilsaw" while doing a project out of reach of an outlet.

Replace your gasoline stock every six months-put the old gas in the car.Run the generator at least fifteen minutes every three or four months, so you know it will run when you need it-this keeps its innards nice and dry and well lubricated-oil gradually runs away from internal surfaces and bearings.

If you have a 12 volt battery charger capable of at least six amps continious output, you can use it to power an old sealed beam automobile headlight salvaged or new as a worklight-cheap or free, very durable, focused ,and nice and bright.Most older headlights pull around 4 amps.Just duct tape it into a small sturdy cardboard box and run two short pigtails out from the sealed beam for the charger leads. Go used and get the female terminal plug off the old car while you are at it, and you have your pigtail for free too.

This can be much safer than an ordinary 120 volt light, as the business end of this rig is low voltage- a serious consideration under certain circumstances, such as working on muddy ground while repairing a ruptured water line.I have mine rigged up using an old hundred foot extension cord on the twelve volt side, and with a fifty food cord plugged into the generator, I can move the light to any spot within 150 feet of the generator.I can work up to another fifty feet beyond that depending on the job.

Great Suggestions, RE: the headlights! (and the other points)

I love being reminded of the solutions that are lying around us in dusty boxes in garages everywhere.

The Honda has a circuit breaker, circuit protector(?) and a overload alarm.

1500 watts should be fine as they are usually rated at continuous watts/amps but allow for brief overages.
The Honda i2000 is rated 2000 watts and 16.7 amps and ran the lights and 'fridge easily. It uses an inverter so you can power electronic devices without damage by voltage spikes. Also has what Honda calls eco throttle that is a governor that matches output(engine speed) with demand. The Honda would go purrrrrPURRRpurrrr when the compressor started.
8 hrs. run /gallon gasoline. Quiet, light, around $1000.
Two of them can be linked, see:

There are several failure points in the grid system right now. At ASPO last year we heard how the US Dept. of Energy is learning how to replace giant transformers with several small ones because the railroad spurs are no longer there to replace the existing ones with transformers of the same size. I don't know much about the project but I imagine they will figure something out.

But the financial failure points for utilities is another matter. Just like the car companies, with sufficient economic contraction many, many utilities with need to be bailed out if we want the electrons to keep flowing:

Total debt by all utilities is above 1/2 trillion:

Since 2005, total debt in the utility and diversified power sector has increased by 27 percent to $522 billion, but the amount of debt maturities for the sector through 2013 is relatively flat year-over-year. This contrasts with the U.S. corporate sector in general where maturities gradually increase in each of the next few years.
Utilities, seen as “relatively safe havens,” should not encounter much resistance from banks when renewing revolving credit facilities, S&P said. But many lenders have tightened certain lending standards, including shortening the term of new facilities and increasing interest rates and fees.

If they don't get the bailouts in a timely manner, extended economic contraction will turn off the lights even if there is no technical reason for them to turn off.

I agree. For many the thought of being independent from a grid maintained by a big bad corp is a big positive. But, one should do the math, and then decide whether that good warm feeling is worth it to them. A compromise, might be to have limited battery backup, so in a long outage, you could still run a few LED lights, and an efficient fridge. But, if your goal is 24/7 power, with little need to conserve, then your system is going to end up being pretty pricey.

Splitting the system appeals to me. The power here can get very ratty during the rainy season, glitches and brown outs, maybe cuts of 5 or 10 minutes. Not just the rains either but it is worst then. Having enough battery to smooth this out is appealing combined with capacity to run light, refrigeration and computer the rest of the time too. Air con, on he other hand, could just blast out during the day and dry/cool the place enough for the evening.


Look at the insinuations in your post, Enemy.

Really, is this the Cliche' academy around here today?

"Big Bad Corporation.."
"Good Warm Feeling.."
"Goal is 24/7 power with little reason to conserve.."

Please, I'll turn on Fox if I want to hear that sneery stuff..

The point I'm suggesting is not simply about 'stick it to the man' or something, or to get my 'Warm, Organic Fuzzies on with my Free Trade Coffee brewed by RA, the Sun God'.. it's about understanding where we are running on dependencies that have little or no backup, and with the changes that seem to be coming our way, we would be wise to think about heading off the interruptions that come from decaying infrastructure.

Sure, America's grid has been.. 'OK', or even 'Really Good.. for many' .. but we've also still been in a time when we have not had serious fuel problems. That Flushness fills in a LOT of gaps, and when (not if) it starts to get spotty, just how many out-of-state electricians are going to be able to drive their trucks in after a good storm to fight the good fight? Are any of you in a part of the country that is immune from a freak weather occurence at this point? Pray tell.. How many truckloads of sandbags would you expect could get delivered to a Nuclear Facility that originally thought they had built high enough above the flood-stage? How much will utilities be forced to reprioritize their maintenance and replacement and safety checking schedules when they are forced to downsize their fleet and quarterly mileage totals?

As you did say, the amount of storage that you set up is completely variable, and it can be modified after the fact. What I objected to was Speculawyer's blanket statements that backup was a poor choice (Unless you're a 'doomer', then it's ok) .. I think I was pretty clear that backup options can be sized very broadly.. but I keep hearing the options being one extreme or the other. Moderate thinking CAN be aroused from its Shallow Grave if enough of us work hard to help resurrect it, you know.

Go downstairs, turn off your breakers, and unplug your batteries. It is good to remember what it's like to do without, right?, and we should all practise that, and remember how one lives without it at all.. but it's also good to have a second choice.. and might be way more than just good at some point.

It's really simple to future proof. , Just layout & wire your High Voltage Strings in 2 segments. Instead of a 500V string - Make it easy for access 2 future 250V strings. 250/300 Volt to 48V charge controllers will be common soon. You don't have to even pull the copper, just up size the conduit and pull in an extra pull string.

>How often do you have an outage in a typical suburban area?

Google "NASA solar storm toilet", click the top link, and notice that the areas of "probable power system collapse" are about 1/3 of the country, including the northeast. And it would take years to fix.

Now, this has about a 2% chance per year of happening. Not too likely in any given year, but it isn't irrational to have off-grid capability.

This is a National Academy of Science study.

Battery-back-up is great for rich people, doomers/survivalists, and people out in the middle of nowhere. But for your typical suburban home-owner Battery back-up systems are really a bad idea.

Where do you live?

I used to live on the Peninsula South of San Francisco (Northern silicon valley - Mountain View, Palo Alto, Atherton)
Guaranteed once or two with the advent of winter storms each winter we'd have power outages lasting for as long as a day. And the occasional earthquake that could take out power for many days.

What's bad about having clean backup power?
"just buy a generator" - fine, now go buy fuel from the service stations powered by the grid (that's out) - Hah!

n.b. most gas stoves these days require electricity for the igniter and its safety --> no juice, no fire. Same, same for pilot-less hotwater heaters, furnaces, etc.

That is pretty much exactly where I live. And as someone pointed out above, that puts us at around 99.5% up-time on electricity.

My rugged-individualism is that I can handle being w/o power for 24 to 48 hours a year. :-)

Just a few comments regarding grid tied only systems vs. off grid capable (grid-interactive) systems:

Most grid-interactive and off grid inverters (at least the ones I would buy) have the ability to charge the batteries from the grid or a generator with built in transfer switches. Grid tie inverters do one thing: send PV (or other RE sources) to the grid.

PV arrays designed strictly for grid tie are usually wired for higher voltages than off grid or grid interactive arrays which are usually lower voltages, closer to the battery bank voltage. Grid tied inverters have the PV controller built in. Few off grid inverters do, requiring separate PV controllers.

e.g. : The SMA4000US has a "PV voltage startup" of 285 volts DC, MPPT tracking range of 250V - 480V for a 240 VAC setup.

The Outback GVFX3648 3600 Watt, 48 Volt Grid Interactive Inverter requires a 48VDC nominal input (40 - 66VDC). The PV array voltage is determined by the charge controller(s). Max array voltage for the Outback Flexmax 80 MPPT controller is 150VDC.

Notes: Adding an off grid battery based inverter to a grid tied system isn't as simple as just hooking to the array (in parallel to the grid tied inverter). The voltages from the array are too high.

Adding additional PV strings to a grid tied system requires enough panels (of near/same ratings as existing panels) to match the existing array voltage. Lower string voltages in off grid systems allow fewer panels to be added at a time.

Most off grid/ grid interactive inverters are 120 VAC. 240VAC requires two stacked inverters (although I like the redundancy this provides).

Grid interactive inverters can charge the batteries from the grid, generator or the PV array(s). I know folks who charge their batteries during off peak periods and sell back to the grid during peak, taking advantage of time of use and FITs, etc: Buy low, sell high, even during cloudy spells. Some inverters can be programed to do this automatically. This can more than offset the somewhat lower efficiency of a battery based system, and can curb the additional costs a bit.

Conclusion: Comparing grid tied systems to off grid capable systems may be a case of apples and oranges (or pears maybe). Off grid/interactive is more versatile, albeit at a cost in dollars and efficiency. You can also tell the PowerCo to take their rate increase and shove it.

After the 2008 crash, my wife and I both lost our full time jobs and would have certainly been struggling to pay a power bill (three rate increases since). Being off grid capable , paying these things forward, meant alot in terms of energy security, one less bill to pay, stress, etc. There's far more to being more energy independant than $$$. I frees one to change their world view in certain ways. Just some thoughts.

Note: We recieved no tax credits or incentives for our systems, no contracts with a utility, provided no easements or rights-of-way, etc. It's just something we did, choices we made. YMMV...

Re: Oil Era’s Twilight Drives Depression, Debt Crisis, Rifkin Says, up top:

Jeremy Rifkin's YouTube Page:


Brightfarms wants local highly efficient agriculture.
Brightfarms Hydroponic Urban Greenhouse (VIDEO)

The article, A DIFFERENT APPROACH explains business model and company rep Benjamin Linsley states:

10 food retailers have signed “letters of intent” with BrightFarms, including two that would have a rooftop greenhouse built on one store next year

I think rooftop hydroponics and soil-less farming has a lot going for it.The video linked is of a restaurant owner who grows his own produce up on the rooftop.Neat stuff!


And the Bright Farms approach using Supermarket roofs for growing produce seems like "DUH Why didnt we do this long ago" There is also the outfit that wants to (already has done several) use every available rooftop in cities for growing produce for the local populations.Good stuff!



I would be curious to know more regarding practical aspects and cost of hydroponic gardening. Manytimes, it involves much more high-tech than the typical garden and potting structures would be very specialized. I've been reading information at the site Vertigro. For $130, one can purchase the Vertigro 8 Pot Kit http://vertigro.com/products/vgk-8mgp.php . These pots are for outdoors rather than indoors. I wonder how they are impacted by high winds. Most locales will experience high winds at least once a year.

I noticed the nutrients are not made from fossil fuels. They are organic and made from seaweed extract and humic acid.

I've built several types of hydroponic systems: Flood and fill (easy) and one for greens out of vinyl gutter down spouts (worked very well). The nutrient solutions are expensive, especially the organic stuff, and the test equipment (ph, specific gravity, etc) is costly as well. I've gone back to containers with soil because I can use my own dirt and compost with drip irrigation. The peppers I grew in containers on my roof this year were superb (still producing) as were the herbs. It was too hot this year for tomatoes and cucurbits on the roof, though I still had some success.

I'm very interested in aquaponics, but building the fish tanks is a big step.

"but building the fish tanks is a big step."

Can you elaborate please? I've seen fish-tanks built from e.g. giant mortar shells or IBC containers with the top cut off. Add a few PVC tube scraps to provide the fish shelter and off you go...

Perhaps I should have said "contructing tanks that will function properly in a well designed production aquaponics system on a very limited budget is a big step". Something like this.

I've actually been scrounging the various stuff to do this. I have several hundred feet of 2" PVC, many fittings, a couple of pumps, two 1600 gal tanks (more suitable for storing backup water), 24 old patio door panels for the green house, fans, etc.. I figure I'm about halfway there ;-) If someone would donate about 1000 square feet of 30 mil pond liner; framing for the green house, tables and tanks; another 2KW of PV; a few hundred feet of black plastic pipe (for solar heaters) and a propane heater (for backup); and a few hours excavator time, I could get started on this project. I have a list...

I should probably have known that you have it worked out already. :p

Good luck in gathering the remaining parts, don't hesitate to keep us up to date!

Yeah, all fine and dandy if all that "happy talk" had been undertaken a few decades ago.
I really find it hard to believe that there will be the orderly consensus required to power-down sufficiently and transition into renewables. Or the funds. Or the cheap energy that has been available in the past to pull us through such huge social and economic changes as will be required.

It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end [...] Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long continuance a those occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in things indifferent.
— Musings upon the Big/Little end heresy, Gulliver's Travels

Nice that Rifkin's article was posted on a major news source like Bloomberg.

I have a 1980 book by Jeremy Rifkin titled Entropy A New World View, with an afterword by Dr. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. I was a huge Georgescu-Roegen fan during the 70's

The cover states that entropy is the supreme law of nature and governs everything we do - tells us why our existing world view is crumbling and what will replace it

Dept. of Energy: Proposed petroleum storage in Miss. salt dome is 'effectively terminated'

RICHTON, Miss. — The U.S. Department of Energy says the proposal to use south Mississippi salt domes to store petroleum is "effectively terminated" because no federal money is designated or proposed for the project.

Previously, the government proposed using the dome to store 160 million barrels of oil as part of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The storage space would've been hollowed out of the dome by using 50 million gallons of water taken daily from the Pascagoula River for five years.

The storage space would've been hollowed out of the dome by using 50 million gallons of water taken daily from the Pascagoula River for five years.

No mention of where the resulting 50 million+ GPD of brine would go. I guess it just "goes away" :-/

Flammable gas detected in Fukushima pipe

TOKYO — Flammable gas has been detected inside a pipe linked to a nuclear reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima atomic power plant, its operator said Saturday.

still generating hydrogen

Re: Judge asked to lift megaload block
And: Canadian government says it supports projects like Enbridge’s proposed Asia pipeline
And: Foreign interests attack oil sands

Of course, the question that Canadian authorities are putting to US authorities is, "Do you really want our oil, or would you prefer that we sell it to China?"

The State Department seems to be on the "Yes, we really want it!" bandwagon, but in the more touchy feely let's hold hands and sing "Kumbayah" and things will be better parts of American society, there is more doubt.

But that is the question, and with all the foot dragging in the US, it looks like the oil will go to China. Americans can feel free to walk or ride their bicycles to work or take the widely available and convenient electric rail public transit.

Once the current mess is sorted out, future oversize loads of equipment for the oil sands will not be unloaded at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, nor will they be shipped over Montana highways to Alberta. They will be shipped through the Panama Canal, up the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes to the Port of Thunder Bay, and then be moved over the highways of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to the oil sands. It's the long way around but it doesn't require any US approval.

And then the oil will go via pipeline from the oil sands to the Northern BC port of Kitimat and loaded on Ultra Large Crude Carriers bound for China. There will of course be protesters, but if they may find themselves given the "nail that sticks up gets hammered down" treatment by Canadian governments.

There is an awful lot of money at stake in these oil sands projects, and a rather large portion of it will flow into Canadian government budgets. The Canadian governments involved don't care really whether the oil goes to the US or China as long as the billions of dollars in tax revenue flows into their coffers.

American consumers may care, but they may not understand that they are being given the choice between driving to work or walking. It will be a nasty shock for most of them when it comes.

"It will be a nasty shock for most of them when it comes."

...which may not be such a bad thing. Better to get used to it now while we still have a shot at alternatives. Besides, if things get really bad, Ft. McMurray is alot closer than Baghdad :-/

Maybe oil traders and others might want to reconsider the spread between WTI and Brent to lessen the probability of starting the pipeline and its long term effect on the US economy. If the pipeline gets funding, the die is cast. Anyway, food for thought.

As Undertow has pointed out, the WTI crack spread indicates that Mid-continent refiners are paying WTI prices for crude, but charging global prices for refined product. Probably only about 7% of global crude oil production is indexed to the WTI price. The median closing global spot crude oil price was about $107.

The current vision for the Enbridge Northern Gateway is a 200K bpd capacity. So the US -v- China exports is not a one-or-the-other scenario. Not yet.

Regarding the shipping route, I wonder if blimps could handle the Canadian West Coast to Canadian interior portion of the route? Or maybe, Canadian Arctic Coast to Canadian interior?

The current vision for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is a 525,000 bpd bitumen pipeline running to the BC coast and a 200,000 bpd condensate pipeline running the other direction. The purpose of the condensate is to be used as diluent for the bitumen pipelines.

However, there is a competing proposal by Kinder Morgan to expand the capacity of its Trans-Mountain Pipeline to Vancouver to 700,000 bpd. It is going to carry 280,000 bpd of oil from Alberta to Vancouver next month, but has nominations for 52% more oil than it can handle. There is only about 60,000 bpd worth of refining capacity in the Vancouver area.

There's a real possibility that both pipelines will be built, which would give over 1.2 million bpd of oil capacity to BC's West Coast.

Blimps are a highly unlikely way to move that much oil. It would be more balloons filling the sky than you ever imagined.

Appreciate the correction on the pipeline numbers.

Blimp suggestion is not about oil, but rather floated in regards to the speculation of non-US transport routes for oil field equipment.

The Western Canadian highways are a pretty good substitute for US highways for the transport of oil field equipment. Although they may not look as fancy as the US Interstate system, being mostly non-grade separated, and non-divided, they are designed for much heavier loads.

A key point is the grade-separated interchanges. In the US, since the Interstate system is fully grade-separated, the loads have to fit under the overpasses. In Canada, in the absence of overpasses, they just have to take down the power lines temporarily and drive on through. Also, many Western Canadian roads are designed for 62,500 kg (138,000 pound) trucks, whereas the US federal maximum weight limit for trucks on the Interstates is 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) without an overweight permit. Unlike the German Autobahns on which they are based, the US Interstates are not designed to transport heavy army tanks to the battle field.

Exxon foolishly thought that since the Army Corps of Engineers had managed to turn Lewiston, Idaho, into a major river port capable of accepting huge cargoes, that getting the equipment the short distance from there to Alberta wouldn't be such a big hassle. Apparently they were wrong.

In Western Canada, seeing convoys of multiple 96-wheel trailers carrying three-story high loads down the highways is more or less routine, and people are used to them, but in Idaho and Montana it seems to be a huge conceptual leap. In retrospect, driving them half way across Canada from the lake-head port at Thunder Bay, Ontario would have been easier.

" but in Idaho and Montana it seems to be a huge conceptual leap"

Try driving US 12 from Lewiston to Missoula. Then you will understand. The problem is that section of road, which would never be allowed to be built under current environmental laws.

It's not like Winnipeg to Saskatoon to Edmonton, which I have also driven.

The US does tend to build roads in places where Canada just wouldn't bother, but the fact is they did build the road and it could handle the loads that Exxon wants to move. What people are really saying is, yes we did screw up our own environment but having done so, we are going to prevent the evil Canadians from screwing up theirs.

And, the US Army Corps of Engineers did manage to turn Lewiston, Idaho into a major port. You might question whether it was a good idea to screw up the whole Columbia River in the process, but what is done is done.

It is true that Winnipeg to Saskatoon to Edmonton does involve a large amount of dead flatness with not a lot of trees. It is not a natural environment with much scenic variation. It's perfect for moving huge loads of equipment without arousing much controversy.

American consumers may care, but they may not understand that they are being given the choice between driving to work or walking. It will be a nasty shock for most of them when it comes.

Umm, doesn't that assume that 'American consumers' will continue to have the kind of work that even needs driving or walking to?! Not to mention the other implicit assumption in that statement which is that 'Consumption of the discretionary sort as we know it today, will even continue.

I think the nastiest shock, to the vast majority of people, will come when they finally really grasp the meaning of BAU IS DEAD!

So to even discuss the choice between driving or walking to work at that point will be a completely moot and meaningless one!




No, I think that the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the vast majority) will continue to work, although getting there might become more of a struggle than they had anticipated. I think if you expect the whole economy to collapse you need to up your meds a bit because you're getting too negative and anxious. Many people I know find Effexor works well to get them through these kind of economic downturns.

Rocky, I always appreciate your opinion but I think you are way off base here.

I think if you expect the whole economy to collapse you need to up your meds a bit because you're getting too negative and anxious.

Yes, that is exactly what I expect, and not just the American economy but the World economy. And I think you are just way to optimistic. There are many reasons so many people are optimistic about the fate of the economy and not knowing you personally I will not speculate on why you are so optimistic.

But we have thrashed this same straw for years. If you do not understand, at this late a date, that our economy depends on growth and that the end of growth means the beginning of collapse, then my going over them again is pointless.

But please don't belittle our opinion, (there are many of us), by suggesting that we up our meds. We have made our argument, over and over again. So if you have a different opinion on why our economy will not collapse when what is fueling the economy does collapse, then state your reasons.

Ron P.

But when one understands the process that has been responsible for population growth, it becomes clear that an end to growth is the beginning of collapse. Human population has grown exponentially by exhausting limited resources,...
Energy and Human Evolution by David Price

I couldn't agree more, Ron. It is unfortunate that so many people reject collapse out of hand much less see that it has been underway for a number of years.

Like you, I am not going to reiterate every thing I have posted in the past on the subject. Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to be blindsided. Interestingly, I happen to be re-reading Atlas Shrugged and while I disagree with the economics, the collapse portrayed could be similar to what happens globally.


The economy will not collapse because people are more resilient than some people appear to think. They will find ways around problems. The current problems are mostly self inflicted, caused by bad planning, mostly by politicians who don't want to face reality.

I don't accept the view that an economy has to grow to avoid collapse. People just have to get used to living in a static or shrinking economy. Some countries had shrinking economies for centuries, up until the last half of the 20th, but are now growing rapidly - India and China being examples.. It's a lot less fun living in a shrinking economy than a growing economy, but people will get by, albeit with difficulty.

I tend toward the optimistic end of the spectrum partly because I am living in Canada, which is not having nearly the problems that the US and Europe have. Canada's biggest economic problems are the US and Europe. Also, I'm living in the resource richest and most affluent part of the country.

The economy will not collapse because people are more resilient than some people appear to think. They will find ways around problems.

You can't say such a thing. Histricly, economies collapse all the time. I can't say that people wont find a way around it this time, norcan I say that they will. But if you mean they will this specific time, you have to give specific reasons they will this round, and not just stand in a corner and sing "We shall over come".

Economies don't collapse "all the time". Certainly, the Roman Empire collapsed under the weight of the barbarian invasions (although some historians would argue otherwise), but most just fade into obscurity. China and India are cases in point. They didn't crash after their historic peaks, they just faded.

Thanks Rocky,

For the record I don't take any meds now nor do I plan on taking any in the near future. I'm neither anxious nor especially negative. I'm a realist and I made that comment based on how I see the big picture coming into focus after having connected many many dots over a long period of time. We are currently in the beginning stages of collapse for the global economy.

If you can't see that or if you happen to be in denial of reality then there isn't much I can say to you to change your opinion. In the first five minutes after the Titanic hit the iceberg very few people knew it would sink in the last five minutes before it sank everybody knew... Its just a matter of time before even you know for sure that BAU IS DEAD!



Well, as I said, I'm not a believer in the collapse scenario. That being said, it's looking like a downturn is likely, which is why I am into gold stocks and cash (Canadian) dollars these days. It's not going to be a real disaster, but it's not going to be real good, either.

No, it's not too much information. On the contrary, it is too little.

The opinion expressed below is not professional, only a personal one based on less than two years of clinical practice and my own personal experience. SNRIs and SSRIs often do not work for headaches, and may not, in fact, work very well for anything.


My hunch is that physicians are prescribing these drugs for headaches because they do not want to write triplicate prescriptions for narcotics. I also feel SNRIs and SSRIs are extremely dangerous. There is substantial evidence that they cause epigenetic changes in neurotramsmitters, pervasive side-effects that can-- in many, though not all individuals-- endure long after patients have stopped taking the medication. Some studies have shown that adolescents who take fluoxetine manifest structural changes... I think it's in the amygdala, might be the hippocampus, I would have to check my references that are on another drive.

Finally, as KalminkuDenku once noted in some side-chatter we had several months ago, the chemical structure of these compounds strongly suggests that they are blunt instruments. There just isn't that much going on... they kind of look like benzene rings.

My opinion is that this entire class of drugs will wind up being a far bigger black-eye for the pharmaceutical industry than benzodiazepenes. And I just haven't met many clients who felt they were very helpful.

It also seems bizarre to treat situational depression with drugs. Situational depression based on thoughtful analysis of the environment can be adaptive; it can motivate people to take action.

This is thoroughly off-topic. Just let me point out that physicians can control migraine headaches with anti-depressants rather than pain-killers, and they sometimes do because most pain-killers are addictive and lead to rebound headaches, whereas most anti-depressants are not and don't.

Despite what you think, most of the modern SNRIs and SSRIs are safer than aspirin. That is not to say that I think aspirin is completely safe, it's just that I think safety is a relative term.

I wouldn't bet the farm on the Kitimat oil terminal going ahead. There is a strong majority of disfavour towards the project in BC - something the Albertans haven't got a grasp of yet. Although, some in the AB government have started to understand British Columbians don't want the pipeline and resultant inevitable oil spill - same as the Americans with Keystone.

Or, should Enbridge be successful and get the pipeline and terminal built, they will get one (1) spill and BC will shut it down because of the pristine wilderness. So who still wants to invest in this enterprise?

Aside from the Kinder Morgan pipeline (which goes right through my figurative back yard here in Kamloops), there is a competing alternative. It is economically feasible to ship up to 3 million barrels per day from the Alberta Northwest to Valdez, Alaska via special built unit trains. The newly built train system will be electric. Furthermore, train tracks can be used for more than just transporting liquids.

Pipelines can be used to transport people if you are a James Bond fan, but I imagine the customer demand and capacity would be pretty low.

We are in agreement, the oil will go somewhere and we don't care if it's the U.S., China, Japan, S. Korea, or India. All those Asian countries tend to have better cuisine anyway - today is Dim Sum day... New Orleans excepted.

Should an oil sands technology in the final stages of development for commercialization (per SEC rules) come into full production and market licensing in the relatively near future, the Alberta oil sands number will increase to over 500 billion barrels.

There will be a new KSA in town - Kinda Smart Albertans.


Normally I would agree with your points except that I believe time will change the outlook on this project. A deal could be made to accept the line provided a decent royalty is paid as well as a trust fund stablished for environmental problems much like the mining industry now has to put up.

BC is broke. The HST boondagle (you know that revenue neutral tax that when taken away leaves the Govt. millions short every year?), and having to pay back the fed advance....plus the shaky economy in general might well lead to a greater acceptance of pipeline projects. I think it should go through Vancouver, though, and Roberts Bank. That way, all the funds generated throughout BC that flow to urban Van and Victoria will also bring along a little risk and pollution for the starbucks crowd to appreciate. Let's run that sucker right out to Pt Grey.

I'll tell you, if I lived in Kitimat, or Smithers, or Hartley Bay I would applaud anyone who blew it up before it was full of oil. Why should any rural area continue to put up with this crap and not reap any benefits? It's not like there will be any jobs for BC in this. Better yet, establish some Canadian refineries and save energy by shipping the finished product.



You have some good points there. Put the pipeline right down Robson Street and a terminal in Stanley Park and see how much support it gets.

Kinder Morgan wants to expand oil capacity to 700,000 barrels per day which is shipped out of Burrard Inlet. So where is the Wildnerness Committee and Sierra Club in all this? Crickets...

The terminal is the Westbridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. They are currently running about 100 tankers a year in and out of it. After the expansion, the number is probably going to run into the high hundreds. The pipeline is there, somewhere, but it is underground and you will need a map to find it.

Driving down the pipeline route from Alberta, as far as I can see, Kinder Morgan seems to have painted out their name on everything, and all you see is a big gray building with no apparent purpose. They seem to like to fly under the radar.

They will be dredging the channels to accommodate the bigger Suezmax tankers. The key bottleneck is the Second Narrows railway bridge. Look for dredges operating under the bridge. If you happen to be there when a supertanker goes under it, you will note it barely fits.

The vast majority of people in Vancouver are completely oblivious to all of this, of course, as they are to many things. The Wilderness Committee is off wandering around in the Wilderness somewhere.

Here's a map of the Kinder Morgan Westbridge Marine Terminal

Kinder Morgan is planning for a major increase in the quantities of crude oil shipped through its Trans-Mountain pipeline and Westridge. Already, oil tanker traffic has tripled between 2005 and 2010, and is planned to triple again by 2016. Pipeline expansion will increase crude oil deliveries from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels per day, 1/3 of which is used by BC and Washington refineries while 2/3 (450,000 bpd) would be exported. KM would add a second berth to the terminal and would dredge the channel through the Second Narrows railway bridge, allowing for larger tankers (called "Suezmax") to reach the terminal.

There is an awful lot of political pressure building up behind the Pacific pipelines, e.g. Canadian government says it supports projects like Enbridge’s proposed Asia pipeline

Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver noted in a speech that the U.S. is basically Canada’s only energy customer. Oliver said it is a key strategic objective to diversify the customer base.

Oliver said his Conservative government respects the regulatory review of the project but noted it is a key goal to export oil beyond the U.S. market which takes 97 percent of Canada’s oil exports.

“We support increased access to key Asian markets to secure the benefits of our resources now and for the long term,” he said.

In other words, it is highly likely that objectors will be flattened in the rush to get the thing built. A lot of people have missed the significant facts that the BC government doesn't have any jurisdiction over it, and it doesn't cross any Indian reservations.

It is economically feasible to ship up to 3 million barrels per day from the Alberta Northwest to Valdez, Alaska via special built unit trains.

One important point missed there is that the Alaska pipeline really should have been built from Northern Alaska to Northeastern Alberta rather than going to Valdez. If they had done that, they could have kept it running a lot longer by piggybacking Canadian oil from the Northwest Territories on it. Nobody in their right mind is going to build a railroad line the other direction.

That's the point, it doesn't go through any Indian reservations because there have been very few Treaties in BC - no reservations. A minor detail the Fed's in Ottawa never got around to.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the First Nations have equal say in what goes on and they are vehemently against it. Some say it is a matter of writing a bigger check. Enbridge put the first offer on the table and dag-nab-it, them Indian fellas did the math - 84 cents a day per person. Insulting beyond description.

The thing with negotiating with FN's here in BC is you only get one chance to build trust and relationships. Start off disingenuous or in bad faith and there will not be subsequent rounds of discussion.

What is missing is those on AB have never been to the area in question. Take a trip, look around and tell me if it should still be put at risk? And I'm not even an enviro-weenie!

AB oil can get to the west coast for export (as described), just not at the jeopardy of pristine BC coastal areas. Feds be damned. It is ironic, when the Feds interfere with a National Energy Policy Alberta is apocalyptic, and when they want to export oil across extra provincial boundaries putting someone else at risk, they count on federal intervention.

It's not the federal government that failed to sign treaties with the Indians in BC, it was the BC government. The current disputes in BC are between the BC government and the Indians. The federal government is only peripherally involved.

In areas where the federal government did have full jurisdiction, i.e. the Prairie Provinces, Queen Victoria made sure that they got their fair share of the land. The Indians are very appreciative of that every time they cash their royalty cheques. Every time there is some kind of dispute, the Prairie Indians pull out their treaties and point to Queen Victoria's name on the bottom line, and that's the end of that discussion. She was The Queen and her word was The Law.

Before we get too eloquent about the natural beauty of the BC coast and the rights of the Native Peoples, let's keep in mind that Kitimat is a company town, built in the 1950's by the Aluminum Company of Canada, to support its massive aluminum refinery there, and the Port of Kitimat is one of the few privately-owned ports in Canada. The Native People are right in there developing massive industrial projects of their own.

Kitimat, British Columbia

The municipal town of Kitimat came into existence in the 1950s after the Provincial Government of British Columbia invited Alcan to develop hydroelectric facilities to support one of the most power-intensive of all industries: the aluminum smelting industry. The company built a dam, 16 km (10 mi) tunnel, powerhouse, 82 km (51 mi) transmission line, a deep sea terminal and smelter. The company also designed, laid out and assisted with the initial construction of the city.


Aluminum producer Rio Tinto Alcan is the main employer in the municipality. Local government, School District, small manufacturing and service/retail are secondary contributors. Secondary core activities include engineering, import of petrochemical products (Methanol and Condensate), and metal fabrication. Approximately $5 Billion in manufacturing investment is anticipated in the 2010-2015 period with a further $5 plus Billion in the investigative stage over the next decade. Anticipated investment includes an approximately $2 Billion modernization to the Rio Tinto Alcan facilities and $3 Billion in the Kitimat LNG export development on Haisla Industrial Land at Bish Creek.

Speaking of legal jurisdictions, a drilling company is suing a NY town which recently passed a zoning bylaw to prevent drilling:

The American 'allergy' to global warming: Why?

"The desire to disbelieve deepens as the scale of the threat grows," concludes economist-ethicist Clive Hamilton.

"Climate denial has been incorporated in the broader movement of right-wing populism," he said, a movement that has "a visceral loathing of environmentalism."


This is something I've seen before and I'm sure it has been discussed in various books on the pop-psych of mass movements; but the gist is that the sense of "belonging" to a movement (or religion for that matter) requires adherence to a Credo with a list of points. People who disagree on those points are Not-Us (heretics, unbelievers, enemies); belief in the list of points qualifies someone to become One of Us.

For the radical right, environmentalism is on the Not-Us list. So to be a fully paid-up card-carrying member of the Tea Party or its affiliates, you have to loathe environmentalists. It doesn't really matter what the factual content of a conservationist or environmentalist argument is: they are the Bad Guys and your party loyalty is demonstrated by hating them (along with those good ol' standbys, Commies and Queers), not listening to them, ridiculing them, and opposing anything and everything they suggest (it must be wrong because of who's saying it, or "because hippies!" as someone neatly summed it up).

This kind of team-building is a mark of sectarian politics generally and I bet many of us can remember instances of sectarian Left loyalty-tests, scapegoating, purification drives, etc. -- the shunning of persons who failed the ideological purity test or who associated too closely with "impure" persons. The mania for enforcing purity and shunning Taint is deep in our human psyche somewhere, whether it be racial purity, ethnic purity, dogmatic purity, gender purity or any other version of "don't let the peas mix with the mashed potatoes, eee-yew!"

Anyway, there are paleocons with literalist Biblical tendencies who are independent enough thinkers to insist that environmentalism is perfectly consonant with their faith and with other ostensible right-wing values like responsibility, care for one's children, independence, etc. But they seem to be a small minority at present, and I'm guessing they are largely shunned and ridiculed by their fellow conservatives due to their horrid "green-loving" heretical tendencies.

It wouldn't be the first time that ideological loyalty trumped common sense (or even survival)...

F'rexample on the other side of the fence: I know of a few good lefty/pwog people who won't pay attention to a damned thing Joel Salatin has to say (and he's a very clever and resourceful person) because of his paleocon, Bible-thumping tendencies.

My own attitude is more like... if he wants to thump his Bible, whatever, he's unlikely to convince me to join his church -- but he knows more about rotational grazing and low-impact polyculture than 99 percent of N American farmers, so I'm sure going to listen when he talks about farming! Similarly, Ivan Illich was an ordained Catholic priest, but I don't feel I'm going to be infected by Catholicism if I read, enjoy, and heartily endorse his thoughts in Energy and Equity or Tools for Conviviality.

Joel fails the ideological purity test for progressives, bigtime. But imho only a damfool would therefore ignore everything he has to teach us about small and midscale polyculture. This is the mistake the rad right makes when it sticks its fingers in its ears and ignores anything the "enviros" are saying. I think what we (I speak for the well-meaning pwog types here, not to mention the genuine red rads) need is more "crunchy cons" to get the praxis message through the ideology filter and into the "other" camp.

AA has this slogan which, despite being a cliche, is true and useful: it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting. It's praxis that matters now. I don't care *why* someone decides to ride their bike more and drive less, or eat more locally, or turn down the thermostat, or sign a petition; I don't care whether it's because they hate A-rabs, or dream of rugged survivalism, or care deeply for the suffering S Hemisphere -- it would be nice if their motives were all simon-pure (by *my* own standards, needless to say, [wink]), but the important thing is that they do something to back off from the collision course with the brick wall.

"If you're not with us, you're against us."

This is a correct buman observtion. As another example; a friend ofmine joined an organisation to fight animal cruelty. She left, very dissapointed, becuase she was bullied in the group, for not beeing a vegitarian.

Regarding enviornmentalism beeing shunned upon by christian right wing, I can give an inside report that there are a growing counter movement of people who are very tiered with this version of populistic christianity. Not rarely they are the sons and doughters of the same church preachers we all love and adore here at TOD. Beeing situated on the right side of the Atlantic I can't follow this movement close up, but am hopefull forthe best..

I have a question about EROEI. Martin Saar of ASPO Sweden has repeatedly claimed in ASPO Sweden's articles that an EROEI of 5 would be some sort of limit that we in practice cannot go below. I questioned that limit and got only vague appeal to authority in response.

I don't read enough of TOD to know for sure, but the EROEI idea seems quite central and any theories of what EROEI ratios are workable should be very interesting. Could anyone give Martin some support here? Are there any theories on EROEI limits around 5, and, in that case, what are those theories based on?

To me it seems that if the energy providing system that performs the energy multiplication is cheap enough (in terms of labour), even a very small surplus would suffice to sustain our civilisation and provide it with energy. Granted, a low EROEI would deplete any non-renewable source quicker, but that's another problem.

I think it'll be really hard to prove any hard base-number for EROEI.. but I'm highly skeptical that 'even a marginal positive' would be sustaining, as you suggest. Perhaps I'm simply putting more weight on the problems of the mentioned Resource Depletions as an intrinsic part of the problem, and not a separate issue at all.

In very broad terms, I might compare it to income, in the sense that the amount you can earn has to be a good bit higher than what it costs you to have that job, and what it costs you to live. This comparison could quickly devolve into a heated discussion of which expenses have to be included where, but essentially, we know that if we're starting to spend $50 a day to drive to a job where we're earning $115 a day, we're already cutting very heavily into our earnings, and the cash needed to buy new clothes, much less the Christmas Ham are going to be very scarce indeed.

Thanks for your reply.

Think renewables such as wind and solar that bootstraps themselves. (Btw, CCS coal is thought to need some 40% more fuel to provide the energy for carbon dioxide compression and transport. If that extra energy is accounted for, EROEI is less than five. Does that matter much? Not until coal depletion really sets in!)

I understand the comparison with income, but would like to point out that you can only work so many hours of the day, but a cheap energy multiplying system may have no practical limits in scale. That's at the heart of my argument - that a system that multiplies energy need not be high-eroei since you can scale it. The system, however, needs to be low in labour intensity (i.e. cheap). Thus a comparison with a fixed labour intensity activity (wage labour) is not that meaningful.

Sorry, I saw the other posts first, and hadn't considered this point in my last response..

I'm not sure I can envision the kind of machine you would be alluding to. A "Cheap Energy Multiplying System". I think such a hypothetical problem needs a little more detail to be meaningful itself..

If it is like a wind-turbine, let's say, but it is 'Low eroei' (2:1 ?), which means that you will have to be replacing it as soon as it has produced about twice the power that was needed in making it.. it seems pretty clear to me that such a Turbine wouldn't even be built. (And of course, it doesn't meet the Low Labor point at all, and in fact, the frequency of replacement would be a key aspect of both the required labor AND hence, the Low EROEI balance of such a technology..)

The comparison to work seems apt enough. The fact that humans can't work around the clock is irrelevant, even though many are forced to try. Ultimately, it is merely a question of how much it costs you to have a job (Travel, Childcare, etc), and how much you earn. If it doesn't pay for ITSELF, plus all your other expenses, (IE, a considerable NET) then it won't fly.

If an energy source has a known eroei, then it certainly has a fixed labour intensity. As with the "I lose a little on every sale, but I make it up in volume.." joke, if the profit is simply too small per unit, then no matter how much you scale it up, how will it not still be a fail?

I don't think it's hypothetical at all. The production, deployment and recycling of wind turbines is such a system. It may not yet be very bootstrapping and automated, but that could very well change.

Or, let's look at oil sands. Say we bootstrap it so that oil from the operation is used to heat steam to extract more oil, and that the steam to oil ratio (EROEI) is 5. What would be the problem here? The volume of harvesting would simply have to be expanded 25% to get the same surplus to society.

And of course, it doesn't meet the Low Labor point at all, and in fact, the frequency of replacement would be a key aspect of both the required labor AND hence, the Low EROEI balance of such a technology.

Yes it would, but, again, if wind turbine production is quite automated and cheap to begin with, a low EROEI is bearable.

The comparison to work seems apt enough.

Again, my key argument here is precisely that low EROEI doesn't translate to a high portion of overall work devoted to energy, since the energy harvesting system may be cheap in terms of labor. I.e EROEI isn't work. Thus a comparison to work seems ... a bit blind to the point I'm making.

if the profit is simply too small per unit, then no matter how much you scale it up, how will it not still be a fail?

Why would it be a fail if the resources needed for scaling doesn't tax the surroundings very much?

"if the resources needed for scaling doesn't tax the surroundings very much?"

You're creating conditions that make your proposition possible, and I'm saying "What Low EROEI energy systems in the real world lean in any considerable amount towards these two factors.. Low Labor and Minimal Impact?"

Oil Sands is fairly heavy on labor, and the impact is already considerable.. It doesn't seem to apply to your basic setup at all.

Wind Turbines, in contrast, are already of a very decent EROEI its been shown, whether one is counting labor or automation inputs or anything else.. and so I'm still asking you to bring in some variation on them that would satisfy your 'Low EROEI' question in order to even start to think about how the Net Energy boundaries could be workable in the way you are suggesting.

Depends on where you count EROEI. I think I mentioned that CCS would require 40% extra fuel for CO2 compression and transport, and if you count that, EROEI would be very low, but labour and other requirements would still be low. But you may be right that sustainable high-EROEI alternatives such as wind, solar and breeder nuclear may make all this a bit academic.

If your doing one job a day that makes you 115 but costs 50 you'd have a hard time getting by, but what if the job was really easy and you could do it more then once. Would you have a hard time getting by if you did the job twice a day? What if you did the job 50 times a day?

As manufacturing becomes more automated the effort that people have to put into making things becomes less. Picture having a completely automated manufacturing plant operated by robots. The plant produces solar panels that have an EROEI of 4(I know that's not the actual EROEI of most solar panels). You put the plant in the desert were it takes in material from the area, makes solar panels and sets them up around the desert using nothing but energy from the sun until eventually the whole desert is covered in solar panels. Even though these solar panels have a EROEI of 4 you would still have a huge amount energy available to you because three fourths of a huge number is still a lot. Maybe enough to keep a civilization running.

The correct extension of Bob's (jokuhl's) argument is to ask, if there were two people in your family each spending $50 to earn $115, would you have a hard time getting by? What if there were 50 people in your family all doing this? The answer is less clear.

You are quite right that declining EROEI will push us in the direction of increasing automation. Stuart Staniford argued just that in "The Fallacy of Reversibility" back in early 2008.

The EROEI argument implicitly assumes that there are limits to efficiency of use of other resources, and that we are within reach of them.

Also, in common usage people don't distinguish between the return on investment in tapping renewable flows and the return on investment for extracting fossil fuels.

It should be clear that if about a barrel of oil's worth of energy is being used to extract a barrel of oil which will then be used to produce energy, then it would be simpler to use the original stock of energy for the intended final consumption.

With renewable flows the situation is less clear. In theory, up to the limits of insolation, it should be possible to expand energy production with any net-positive EROEI.

The argument here retreats into auxiliary assumptions. For example, it might be asserted that the robotic solar cell factory uses materials that it cannot find in the desert, such as neodymium for the magnets in the servomotors, or the toxic chemicals used to etch the solar cells.

Likewise, it is argued that the processes used to manufacture essential components of either the cells or the factory itself may be so complex that it is statistically impossible to run them in a completely automated way: a good part of the labour resources of modern civilization is required in order to troubleshoot and repair. And labour resources used for this are not available for other work.

Now, I happen to think there is a lot of truth in these auxiliary arguments.

A completely automated, PV powered factory producing PV powered factories and completely automated PV powered electrical systems -- refining the silicon and aluminium, synthesising all the chemicals needed to produce semiconductors, building the lasers and etching masks -- directly from whatever source rock is in the desert -- strikes me as being beyond our reach for many decades, possibly centuries, to come. It's harder than it looks.

So why bother to raise the suggestion? You just risk being labelled a technological cornucopian fantasist - a believer in the Technology Fairy. EDIT: If you stick to technologies that have made it out of the lab, you'll be talking about something that is at least technologically achievable.

For the next few decades labour will continue to be required in roughly the same proportions as it is required now in the PV industry. We are fortunate that PV has an EROEI of over 20, so that of every 20 at least 19 units of energy (and more than 19 units of labour) can be deployed elsewhere.

You make a good point. The factory I depicted is not realistic. The argument that I was trying to make is that required labor hours and scalability are important factors in determining what EROEI is acceptable, and that we can't just assume that an EROEI greater than five is necessary. In order to make that point I depicted a system that is highly unrealistic, but not necessary physically impossible. I thought that even though the system I depicted will likely never actually exist the fact that it is physically possible proves my point. Now that I think about it some more I realize that depicting a system that is not possible with technology that can realistically be expected to be developed probably doesn’t really say anything meaningful. For that I’m sorry, but the concept that EROEI needing to be greater than five still seems completely arbitrary to me.

In reality EROEI is just one of many economic indicators which could be used to evaluate whether a development is viable or not. Companies will almost never use it because they are primarily concerned with money. The bottom line is the bottom line, so they will look at cash return on investment (ROI) and net present value (NPV), among other things.

Certainly, if the EROEI is less than 1, there is a problem. A case in point is the US fuel ethanol program, which has an EROEI of around 1. The US is not really gaining anything from it because it is simply turning diesel fuel and natural gas into automobile fuel at a 1:1 ratio.

OTOH, the EROEI of oil sands or deepwater offshore oil is in the range of 4-6, which means you wouldn't bother with them if you had conventional onshore oil available at an EROEI of 20 or so. The problem is that you can't meet demand with only conventional onshore oil.

You could put an arbitrary cutoff at an EROEI of 3 to determine whether projects are viable or not, but the key point is that the cutoff point is arbitrary.

At this point in time, it looks like oil sands and deep water offshore with an EROEI of 4-6 is viable, and in fact a big money-maker assuming all the other economic numbers work out. OTOH, fuel ethanol with an EROEI is an obvious no-win proposition with and EROEI of 1 (using US corn - Brazilian sugar cane is much better), and would never be viable without government subsidies and mandates.

And I think the key point there is that the US government ran out of money to subsidize things some time ago. It wouldn't be viable without foreign loans to the US government.

One insight is that all energy isn't equal, and that EREOIs are chained. If you can use nuclear power to create steam to get at oil sands, it may be the case that the EROEI from steam to oil production doesn't matter much. It may be good enough to be able to convert non-liquids to liquids at a 1:1 ratio (or even less), if the non-liquid energy is abundant.

One way that energy isn't equal, is that we're getting a lot of our expensive sources with the ongoing beneficence of the remaining cheap sources.

All of them hang, of course, on oil and diesel to very great degrees today, and so their own EROEI is being subsidized by that of what is still almost cheap oil.

Your Fission plants will be showing the pains of this blind and irreversible dependence at an alarming rate, I fear.

The trend as I see it is that diesel/gasoline is very expensive and that the economy is therefore becoming more and more coal/gas/wind based. Ultimately, I think we'll be getting expensive sources such as oil from cheaper sources such as coal.

I believe that EROEI is a useful consideration, but it is not the only important consideration. Other important considerations include things like Invested materials, Invested labor and the form of the energy that is received versus the form of the energy given up. I think these other consideration affect what EROEI is acceptable. Perhaps there should be other measurements to describe these considerations. One such consideration could be something like Energy Return on Labor Investment or EROLI. EROLI might be defined as the number of kWhs generated for every 1,000 hours of labor invested or something similar. Such a consideration could be useful because, as various people have pointed out, labor is a limited resource, and a society can only afford to direct so much of it towards acquiring energy. Calculating EROLI for various non fossil fuel energy sources such as solar, wind and nuclear can help us figure out how much energy might be available to if we dedicated a certain percentage of the population to developing such sources.

In regards to government subsidizes the governments inability to comprehend that limitless growth might not be possible, in my opinion, is leading to a various bad policies. I think that the first thing that needs to happen if society is going to survive is for people, especially people in the government, to admit there is a problem. If people can't come to terms with the fact that resources are not infinite government polices will probably continue to make things worse instead of better.

Edit: I changed some things I didn't like.

The correct extension of Bob's (jokuhl's) argument is to ask, if there were two people in your family each spending $50 to earn $115, would you have a hard time getting by? What if there were 50 people in your family all doing this? The answer is less clear.

No, I think Binder was correct in questioning Jokuhl's argument the way he did. Your extension (and Jokuhl's argument) misses the point - that low EROEI doesn't necessarily mean a lot of labour. Your extension would be valid if the extra people could be considered slaves whose only purpose is providing the head of family with a good life, as that's the only purpose of energy harvesting systems.

So why bother to raise the suggestion? You just risk being labelled a technological cornucopian fantasist - a believer in the Technology Fairy.

Why would Binder worry about TOD heresy?

We are fortunate that PV has an EROEI of over 20, so that of every 20 at least 19 units of energy (and more than 19 units of labour) can be deployed elsewhere.

With an EROEI of 5 (5:1 = 20:4), your figures would end up 16 instead of 19. Would that be so much of a difference? I think not.

Well, first off, my comparison was not to imply anything about the amount of labor required in EROEI itself.. it was a different 'Return' scenario altogether.

The point was that when you earn money, you have many costs to apply those funds to, personal, household, family, taxes, community, charity.. and then you have the costs invested in simply continuing to make the money. Dropping EROEI is fairly similar it seems to a situation where you start investing more and more back into the process of merely doing your job, leaving a smaller portion available for 'all the other costs of life' ..

You can say 5:1 doesn't look much worse (to you) than 20:1 .. but it is still FOUR times worse. 400% more costly than it was.. and it was more like 100:1 for Oil just a bunch of decades ago. That's a big shift for a massive global economy to swallow.

Of course, your initial question posed the much more enhanced problem of "even a very small surplus would suffice to sustain our civilisation and provide it with energy." .. with the proviso that it was cheap on labor. I would imagine that labor or some (any) other cost would be what made this source so narrowly in the energy positive category in the first place, and either way, the failure of it to yield much net energy would indeed be what kept it from being a bounty that could do much to help keep a modern technological society viable. You were implying yields far worse than 5:1, it seemed.

That was why I proposed the idea of people who are starting to realize that a ridiculous portion of their wages is going into their commute, or into the childcare that they have to pay for in order to go to work, such that the thin profit becomes merely an exhausting treadmill that does little to raise the family out of perpetual debt, and one mishap, one unplanned vehicle repair ends up negating the whole exercise.

Does that not compare to the way that we need to 'spend' our acquired energy in all sorts of directions in society, and so if our energy source costs us say half as much as it ends up producing (2:1 EROEI), that we will be far less able to pay for all the needs that we have been accustomed to covering for?

You can say 5:1 doesn't look much worse (to you) than 20:1 .. but it is still FOUR times worse.

No, it is only 19% worse.

If EROEI is 10000:1 and you go down to 100:1, would that be a HUNDRED times worse? I think that having 99% of the harvested energy usable as surplus is almost as good as having 99.99% of the energy available as surplus. Actually, I probably wouldn't even notice or care about the missing 0.99%.

20:1 means you have to harvest 20 energy units to get 19 surplus. To get 19 surplus units with 5:1 EROEI you'd have to harvest 23.75 energy units. (Do the math!)

And, 23.75/20 = 1.1875, or some 19% extra effort!

and it was more like 100:1 for Oil just a bunch of decades ago.

That's because you calculate at the wellhead. If you included oil refining, EROEI would likely be no better than 5:1 throughout history.

I would imagine that labor or some (any) other cost would be what made this source so narrowly in the energy positive category in the first place

Why? Look at old style gaseous diffusion enrichment of uranium, for example. The narrow EROEI of reactor grade uranium was very much due to electricity use in the enrichment, not due to labor. And that meant the costs were low. Another example may be the steam needed to harvest oil from oil sands - that may also just add a bit to the size of operations, but here the 19% vs 400% above applies - operations doesn't need to be expanded that much.

Why would Binder worry about TOD heresy?

Credibility. Binder has some good things to say, points that are worth consideration. But talk of technological fantasies will cause most readers here to write off anything else that Binder might say.

With an EROEI of 5 (5:1 = 20:4), your figures would end up 16 instead of 19. Would that be so much of a difference? I think not.

Agreed. The problem appears to become serious with more than half of economic activity devoted to energy collection.

But there might be good arguments on the other side - not based directly on EROEI, but on auxiliary assumptions. (There is a great deal of hand-waving and even more free-falling assertion on both sides.)

More sophisticated arguments (as with climate change) are about rates of change, not levels. But again, the big problems show up at low EROEIs. Society would easily cope with a change in EROEI from 100 to 20 over a decade - it might even cause an economic boom. But a fall from 3 to 2 over a decade might well cause serious disruption.

So the declining trend is cause for concern, just as is the trend in global mean temperature. Fortunately, the trend should level off, because, we are told, PV has an EROEI of over 20. (Economists like to talk of a 'backstop technology' that will be used for ever more when the costs of alternatives rise high enough. PV is our backstop technology . . . from what I have read.)

Yet more sophisticated arguments are about stochasticity. With a low EROEI, a period where it suddenly falls by 10% might be very harmful also.

The core idea is that as a system exploits more and more of the resources available to it, up to the limit of return on investment however measured, it becomes vulnerable to shocks in the availability of those resources. The theory of scale-free networks says that occasionally, quite small shocks can have very big effects.

(Buzz Holling's "Panarchy" concept of system life-cycles underlies this. The wikipedia page on panarchy doesn't present Holling's idea at all well; try The Upside of Down for a non-technical introduction.)

Credibility. Binder has some good things to say, points that are worth consideration. But talk of technological fantasies will cause most readers here to write off anything else that Binder might say.

Thank you for saying I have some good things to say. Also thank you for correcting my mistake. I shouldn't have used technology which doesn't have a reasonable chance of existing in the foreseeable future in my argument. In the future I'll avoid talking about technologies that don't already exist or that I don't think have a strong possibility of existing in the near future. Although I am far from perfect and I can't guarantee that none of the things I say will be flawed.

Edit: I changed some things because it came out sounding stupid.

"It should be clear that if about a barrel of oil's worth of energy is being used to extract a barrel of oil which will then be used to produce energy, then it would be simpler to use the original stock of energy for the intended final consumption."

Greg, depends on costs. I think nat gas is about a quarter the price of oil on a BTU basis. Hence it might be worth it to use say 3 times the energy of oil (using nat gas) to extract a barrel of oil for an EROEI of 1/3.

Edit: for a profit of 33%

This discussion leads me back to some thoughts I was having the other day about the cost-effectiveness of firewood. I was running some back-of-envelope calculations around the cost of home heating using fuel oil, mains gas, and an 80% efficient woodstove: I concluded that the per-BTU cost of the wood is low by comparison (not to mention the CO2 advantage.) Clearly the numbers depend on local conditions, but does anyone have some reliable go-to source for a solid analysis of such questions?

You might start with Nate's post here.

When thinking about the minimum practical EROEI for an energy source, I try to think whatthis means, in the limit.

Then it occurred to me that an EROEI of 5 means that 20% of all economic activity is spent finding energy to power the other 80% of all economic activity.

To a good approximation that means to me that 20% of all working hours are spent gaining that energy. That leaves 80% of all working hours doing everything else - including raising children, caring for the sick and the old, growing food, finding shelter and water, and maintaining the built infrastructure to do all of these.

How many hours does an average worker put in over their lifetime? How many hours are spent on average, bringing up kids, educating and training them, supporting the sick and the old, averaged over all memembers of society.

I bet 80% of all working hours are needed just to support human social overheads, food and built infrastructure.

Once EROEI falls below 5*, then no matter how efficiently structured society is, the old and the sick will be left to die.

*or a number similar to that

Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI or ERoEI); or energy return on investment (EROI), is the ratio of the amount of usable energy acquired from a particular energy resource to the amount of energy expended to obtain that energy resource(from Wikipedia). It doesn't say anything about economic activity or hours of human labor.

Then it occurred to me that an EROEI of 5 means that 20% of all economic activity

No, absolutely not.

To a good approximation that means to me that 20% of all working hours are spent gaining that energy.

Again, no. Lowering the EROEI of energy harvesting to 5 would at most increase the cost by 25% (you need at most 25% more fuel, so you need to scale energy harvesting by 25%). If we need 10% of all working hours to harvest energy today, then EROEI 5 would mean working hours for energy would stand at 12.5%. An EROEI of 2 would mean 20%.

I bet 80% of all working hours are needed just to support human social overheads, food and built infrastructure.

Isn't 1% of the population in agriculture? And fewer and fewer is in industry. I would say that we could handle a lot of overhead since we've rationalised core functions to such a degree.

Yes, and wealthiest one percent take nearly 24% of the nation's income (Stiglitz, Vanity Fair 2011). 'We' could handle some rationalizing some of the 'overheads', while we think about it?
Trouble with core function rationalizing is that the rest of the system (99%) has also gained labor productivity by using machines, including cars, enabling flexible location, 'time-saving' at home and work, and labor and logistics arrangements that have all been gained by using petroleum (and some coal-fired electricity)?

Do they take 24% of consumption too, employing 24% of the labour for their own luxury use? Otherwise, if it's working money, perhaps it does not matter that much?

The last sentence I don't understand. Why would that be "trouble"? Efficiency is good.

"Do they take 24% of consumption too, employing 24% of the labour for their own luxury use?"

No, which is part of the problem. I remember reading that in late Victorian times that 1/5 of the workforce was "in service". Cooks, maids, gardeners, stable hands, drivers, valets, etc. How true that number was I don't know, but there certainly are fewer of them. and the ones that are around are mostly illegals. So even when the rich want a servant, they want them cheap.

I don't understand the "part of the problem" part. It all seems good, to me. It would be improductive if the rich really employed 24% of the workforce for their own consumption. Since they don't, they don't take that much purchasing power away from the middle class. Also, to use cheap labour is good - the low-wage workers obviously needs increased demand the most.

I found your explanation of falling net energy still providing a large surplus, ( e.g. falling from 99% to 90%) valuable, but ...

Regarding the economic rationale for 'the wealthy'. I am not sure what "working money" is doing these days. Driving "economic progress" perhaps ... or perhaps not ... now and in the future?

If the 90+% of the population not involved in "core functions" like farming and food provision, begin to lose efficiency (the population can't maintain a high work rate because the system is contracting, and/or simply they can not buy enough stuff), what then? What if for instance the 'super-efficient' Walmart food distribution system, which needs very high through-put and constant adjustment, can no longer 'justify' the reputed ratio of 10 calories energy input for every food-calory delivered? Because the necessary just-in-time transport, and packaging, refrigeration, storage, all cost more, with no further balancing gain in efficiency or profit margin? Again, the immense complexity of the wider American agricultural and food industry needs an overall economic rationale for it to function. Primary production of calories and protein by crops is only a small part of total US agricultural value in dollars. Currently these systems, and the consumers, all 'spend' surplus energy from fossil fuel production to make the amazing American economy work?

America does not appear to have a system designed to be resilient in the face of falling efficiencies and productivity. What happens to all those gains of the last 60 years, from a highly flexible workforce dispersed 'efficiently' in suburbs, with women able to enter the paid workforce; have they not relied on cheap gas, cheap food and cheap credit?

I do not pretend to know whether the points I raise are the most valid - but an ongoing contraction in the net value of "energy" inputs for such a highly geared complex economy looks like permanent recession to me, with parts of the economic system, including perhaps the wealthy, beginning to lose their rationale.

>>>To me it seems that if the energy providing system that performs the energy multiplication is cheap enough (in terms of labour), even a very small surplus would suffice to sustain our civilisation and provide it with energy<<<

I think you raise an interesting question.

The whole positive EROEI debate seems to imply that industrial civilization needs a perpetual motion machine -- returning more energy than consumed -- at its base.

This, of course, is impossible for any extended period of time so industrial civilization must ultimately fail.

Absolutely, we need to harvest energy, as we cannot create it, and can only sustain civilization for as long as there is energy to be harvested. So, when the sun goes out and our stocks of fuel has depleted, we die. Granted, we may be able to extend our lease on life by switching suns a number of times.

Exactly, the harvesting of stored stocks can only last so long.

After that, according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, we can not have any kind of positive EROEI as that would neccesitate "pertetual motion."

The sun will last for another four billion years. How about we worry about it in three billion years.

Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI or ERoEI); or energy return on investment (EROI), is the ratio of the amount of usable energy acquired from a particular energy resource to the amount of energy expended to obtain that energy resource (from Wikipedia). The EROEI concept doesn't say anything about energy being created or destroyed. It only talks about energy that is useful to humans, and has nothing to do with perpetual motion machines. We can have a positive EROEI. We just can't have a positive EROEI forever.

I think we've gotten off base with this EROEI debate here. We shouldn't compare one time through systems with continious long term producers Looking at the real world:
One time throughs-

Traditional oil well- very high( 100-1) EROEI ratio but a limited resource.

Future Deep water floating rigs in the Artic may be less than 10-1

Ethanol- low (2-1 or maybe 1-1?)EROEI ratio (Tractor's diesel, fertilizer, Transportation to processing, processing plant construction, processing) If it was much higher I would expect our local hutterite colonies to be producing and running on ethanol- they're not.

Long terms-
Hydro electric 10-1 over 50 years. The plants last longer.

Solar- negative EROEI in short run. In the long run we haven't tested current technology for 50 years but it should rise to provide a source of energy approaching hydro.

You can't compare the two types of energy. anything less than 5-1 in the first is probably a bad idea. Just like the man said. As long as the latter two examples produce a positive long term EROEI they are probably a good idea because our grandchildren will still be benifiting from our investment. BAU or not.

I agree with you. If we have a finite resource that will last 30 years at a EROEI of 1000 to 1, it will last 20 years at a EROEI of 2 to 1. If the energy used is underground FF that are burned to free the other 66% of the underground FF then little human labor is involved.

Even at 1 to 1 EROEI the resource above would last 15 years.

Of course PV has a EROEI of 0.15 You put in 1000watts of sunlight and get 150watts of electric out. Far under 1. Not accounting for the embodied energy in the production of the PV which only makes the EROEI lower.

Ed, that's efficiency. Not the same thing.

EROEI is about lifetime production. The question is, how much energy does a PV cell that produces energy at 150 watts peak - say 30 watts average - produce over its lifetime?

If it has a lifetime of 20 years, that 30 watts is about 19 gigajoules - 5260 kilowatt hours (electricity units).

The question is, did it take more than 5260 kWh to create the cell and its glass cover and support structure and its inverter, and to install it, and to maintain it for 20 years? That's what EROEI analysis is about.

Plus, mining and transport of rare earth minerals from distant lands (Congo),the huge electrical input needed for aluminum, transport, and other externalized items and transport.
Who knows if they will ever break even?

Rare earth minerals for what?


Silicon PV does not use rare earths. Silicon, boron, phosphorus. A nice short list. You can add the solder if you want, but more than one works, so resource constraints are not a problem there. We can always go back to lead and put a "Do not eat the solar cells" label on the panel.

As to EROEI, it's up to 25. At least. It may be 30. Ask in 25 years.


This does not include the mount, so if you have a fancy stainless steel tracking array your EROEI may be lower, or maybe not. You wouldn't have used that mount unless you expected it to pay for itself, or if you need to show up the Jones, which is a different issue.

If you want to whine about transport energy, use a clipper ship to transport them from Singapore (where these are make) to the nearest port, then use an ox cart the rest of the way. PV panels are not perishable.

Solar is here, and costs are still coming down. The issues are module production capacity and storage/transmission of the resulting power.

It is probably a guesstimate as to when our current civilization would melt-down based on our current technology. We can certainly get by on much less energy . . . mankind did for most of its history. And we can certainly maintain our current lifestyle on much less energy too . . . but that will take a lot of new technology & investment.

Ok, but is this guesstimate built on some kind of solid foundation? Any peer reviewed papers? Is it just a tradition in the PO-community that nobody knows who originated, and why?

Our educated guess is that the minimum EROImm for an oil-based fuel that will deliver a given service (i.e. miles driven, house heated) to the consumer will be something more than 3:1 when all of the additional energy required to deliver and use that fuel are properly accounted for.


If an EROEI of 5 is the equivalent of say 2000 calories for a human and is reduced by 20% to an EROEI of 4 or 1600 calories. Will that human be able to achieve as much as before and maintain their current way of life? The argument that if they can do things more efficiently their way of living will be unaltered doesn't really hold water. To become more efficient they have to alter the way they do things which of course changes the way they live. And of course change would require an increased use of calories, eating into the 1600 calories available to maintain their current way of living resulting in some kind of failure or collapse.

So I don't believe a lower EROEI can sustain our current civilisation. We can live on a lower EROEI but the way we do so would mean a completely different way of living and therefore a completely different type of civilisation, one which would be unrecognisable to us today. Attempting to cling to the way we currently live and do things seems to be an exercise in futility.

Like food we need a certain amount to survive and as it becomes more scarce we keep that minimum requirement for our own use. I believe it will be the same with energy we will ring-fence it for our own use, meaning withdrawing energy from all frivolous uses and things of no immediate benefit to us personally. Civilisation will have the energy sucked out of it as people refocus the energy available to them to purposes that allow them to live, especially into local production.

The calories example for a human disregards the idea that energy production can be scaled in responsed to lower EROEI.

To become more efficient they have to alter the way they do things which of course changes the way they live. And of course change would require an increased use of calories,

I don't understand. Are you saying that increased efficiency can only be achieved by expending more energy? That seems like some form of contradiction. Btw, if a person needs to go lower on calories, he could just become more skinny, so that he doesn't have to expend energy to carry around bulk, and also he could shed muscle and lead a less physically active life. Also put on more clothes so that he doesn't freeze. Longer term, less calories may mean humans less tall.

So I don't believe a lower EROEI can sustain our current civilisation. We can live on a lower EROEI but the way we do so would mean a completely different way of living and therefore a completely different type of civilisation, one which would be unrecognisable to us today.

Why? It seems we have been able to sustain on falling EROEI for many decades now.

as people refocus the energy available to them to purposes that allow them to live, especially into local production.

I've seen evidence that local production is generally a waste of energy compared to shipping the products from places where the production naturally has a low energy need.

I don't understand. Are you saying that increased efficiency can only be achieved by expending more energy?

Yes. For example to make a more efficient engine you have to alter the existing one, possible even having to fabricate a completely different engine and that takes energy. You have to expend energy to create new efficient systems. The alternative is to discard activities and conserve the energy that would have been expended on them (ie. collapse).

Why? It seems we have been able to sustain on falling EROEI for many decades now.

Apart from the fact that things are falling apart all around us, products are of increasingly inferior quality, people are working harder than ever and we're fast approaching systemic collapse? EROEI is still high enough to maintain an inferior level of support for our global system. Once EROEI falls below a certain level, say 5 as suggested, then there is insufficient surplus energy to maintain the current system.

I've seen evidence that local production is generally a waste of energy compared to shipping the products from places where the production naturally has a low energy need.

Comparative advantage, locality to resources, favourable climate, available workforce, natural transport hubs will all give certain locations an advantage. But to produce product 'A' in one location or another takes the same amount of energy, it's the locality that gives the advantage. A location with a higher EROEI would have an advantage over a location with a lower EROEI. Trade won't vanish, but where appropriate, local energy will be refocused on local production.

If I was producing electricity locally, say via wood gasification, and produced a surplus. Given the collapsing economy would I sell it back to the grid for increasingly worthless fiat money or would I put it into the local economy (say running a saw mill or a canning centre). I would go for local because it would be a more beneficial return on my investment.

You have to expend energy to create new efficient systems.

Yeah, well, gaining efficiency is about being more efficient, life cycle wise. Thus less energy is expended, overall.

The alternative is to discard activities and conserve the energy that would have been expended on them (ie. collapse).

It isn't "collapse" to alter consumption patterns a bit to adjust to changed resource availabilities.

Apart from the fact that things are falling apart all around us, products are of increasingly inferior quality, people are working harder than ever and we're fast approaching systemic collapse?

I actually see nothing of the sort.

I would go for local because it would be a more beneficial return on my investment.

You assume, then, that money would have lost its role. Else, I guess you'd find a better price for your energy if you search a larger market.

My thoughts on minimum EROEI.

One point. British coal production peaked in 1913 when 13% of the coal mined was used to mine coal (statistic from memory). And more coal was used to transport coal to users in inefficient steam locomotives. Close to 20% of the coal was burned to deliver it to end users.

After WW I, less coal with better EROEI was mined.

Looking forward, I think the limit of ERoEI depends upon the "Balance of System".

Imagine a hyper-efficient society# with some energy from hydroelectric, installed solar PV, pumped storage and the marginal supply of energy with an EROEI of 2.5.

#Hyper-Efficient Society - Housing and commercial buildings are designed to the PassivHaus standard. Net energy zero (solar PV on roof) but some times they consume energy (winter and every night) and some times generate energy (daytime, especially in spring and summer).

Urban Transport is walking, bicycling, trams/subways and EV delivery trucks and bio-gas garbage trucks. Very few personal EVs.

Around the "Big City", connected by commuter rail are towns of 3,000 to 12,000 (maximum to keep walkable and bikeable). A factory or two plus some commuters to the Big City, and a railhead for local farms that also feed the town.

Inter-city transport is electrified rail passenger and freight at "reasonable speeds". ("Reasonable speeds" minimize aerodynamic losses).

Most trains move during the day time, with low priority freight (such as grain) run on sunny days (solar PV).

Minimal, motion activated street lighting.

Water is brought in mainly by gravity (like New York City) and water is pumped up in water tanks "when the sun shines".

Durable, repairable goods. High % recycling - processing scrap "when the sun shines" again.

Nearby farms provide most of the non-grain food - bio-diesel and ethanol (solar distilled) fuel for farm equipment and EV or hybrid trucks to get tomatoes, milk, etc. to railhead (see "milk run" trains from history).

Grain is brought in by electric trains run largely off solar PV (run when sun shines).

IMHO, such a society would run short of energy in late fall and most of the winter and need supplemental energy to reduced solar PV and lower hydroelectric generation when water assumes the solid state for a while.

Given the very high overall efficiency and the very high ERoRI of hydroelectric and high ERoEi of solar PV (say 60% of original power after 50 years, 35% after a century), such a society can afford to get, say, 10% or 15% of it's total energy from a low ERoEI 2.5 source.

I suspect that they could get over half from ERoEI 2.5 and still self renew.

I could have added wind to the above, but, with pumped storage, the low ERoEI source would have been trivial (<5%).

Best Hopes for an Efficient "Balance of System",




As always an interesting blend of insights and views about EROEI. Took a few tangents but still interesting. So now I’ll clutter the discussion with a fact that I offered before: EROEI estimates have never been used to make decision to drill for oil/NG. And IMHO it’s very unlikely it ever will be. But that’s not to say there isn’t a link of some degree between EROEI and drilling economics. But that link varies over time in addition to the monumental task of estimating the entire amount of energy used to drill/produce a well.

For simplicity allow me to make up a couple of definitions. Contemporaneous EROEI (CEROEI)and Embedded EROEI (EEROEI). The CEROEI of drilling any well is easy to estimate: essentially the diesel used to power the electric generators that run the drill rig. There’s a bit for land transport fuels but that's very small compared to rig fuel. Offshore, especially DW, it’s a good bit more. But even then it’s a small percentage. In general the fuel costs to drill most wells is about 4% to 8% of the total well costs. Thus the CEROEI of even modestly successful wells is relatively good. I might use 300,000 gallons of diesel to drill a deep well. Thus about 7,000 bbls. Even taking into account the energy used to refine the oil back into fuel it’s easy to show a very high CEROEI.

But obviously CEROEI isn’t the whole story. EEROEI is where the bulk of energy is used to get from a drilling prospect in some geologist’s mind to oil/NG flowing out of the ground. Let’s jump to the biggest component: a DW drilling rig. With current construction costs running $600 million to $1 billion obvious a lot of energy is utilized. And not just to do the construction. Consider the steel: dug out of the ground and transported perhaps thousands of miles to be processed. And then huge amounts of energy to smelt it and form the components. And then ship it perhaps thousands of miles to the ship yard. Someone with a lot of spare time might generate that energy consumption. But that ain’t me. LOL. But let’s say it turns out to be X BTU’s. What now? The rig isn’t going to drill just one well. Now amortize that energy over the life of the rig. I can make a rough guess: 25 years by 3 wells per year. So now we have a meatball number for that portion of EEROEI. One more complication: let's say drilling slumps and it only drills 25 wells instead of 75. But it doesn't matter that the amortized EROEI is 3 ties as high. It's a "sunk cost".

But many more components of EEROEI: the offshore boats and helicopters, the materials actually used the drill the well (steel casing, mud and other chemical) and the tens of millions of $’s of rental equipment on the rig.

So let’s assume we’ve generated the combined CEROEI and EEROEI (TEROEI – Total EROEI) for drilling Well Alpha. Here’s the first problem: Alpha might produce a TEROEI of 100…or -10. Depends on how much grease it finds. So let’s bump it up to a trend. Companies A and B are both drilling DW GOM prospects. Company A is very good at it…B isn’t. So A has a TEROEI of 7 and B is 1.5. So what do you do with that knowledge? In theory the DW GOM could be developed with a TEROEI of 7…or maybe a little better. But when you average in the less successful efforts it comes in lower. And then what: no operator drills a well with expectations of a dry hole let alone a low TEROEI. So even with a crystal ball telling you that at the end of the day the DW GOM will generate a very low TEROEI it will get drilled because each company has higher expectations.

Decisions to drill for oil/NG are based on economic analysis…not TEROEI. The vast majority of folks doing that analysis couldn’t tell you what EROEI even stands for. And here's one reason why: that DW drilling rig that cost X billion BTU’s to build (and amortized to drill one well for a percentage of X) will cost the operator $350,000/day to drill that well…or $700,000/day. All depends on market conditions at the time. That’s a difference of $42 million for a 120 day well. And typically when day rates are in a slump so are the other services/materials. So the cost to drill the same prospect with the same potential TEROEI (even though we don’t know what that is) might be $70 million. Which factor would you think affects the decision to drill: a $70 million cost increase or a TEROEI that hasn’t been estimated?

Now I’ll make it even more complicated. Not every prospect is drilled for the same economic gain. Specific example: an Eagle Ford Shale prospect. As with the DW GOM well no one in the oil patch is going to calculate the TEROEI for that well. And even if they did remember that would only be the POTENTIAL TEROEI. Once drilled it might be twice the estimate…or have a negative value if it’s not successful. So same prospect A with the same economic potential (and same TEROEI even though we didn’t calculate it) is evaluated by Chesapeake and Rockman’s company. Chesapeake drills and I don’t. Simple reason: though it might be profitable the rate of return is less than I can make drilling deep conventional NG prospects in S La. So why does Chesapeake drill a well with a lower ROR (and obviously lower TEROEI) then me? They are a public company and if they want Wall Street to bless them with a high stock prices they need to show reserve increases y-o-y even if those reserves don’t prove to be very profitable. Rockman drills wells for only one reason: to make an obscene profit. Being privately owned we don’t have a stock to stroke.

So even in the oil patch where no one cares about TEROEI there’s a wide range between the TEROEI of developed reserves. Now one more complication: national oil companies. What dominates their drilling decision process? Some, like Petrobras are public companies but with a major portion of the stock controlled by their home country. OTOH a couple of years ago when the Brazilian govt started getting a handle on how much potential oil they had in their DW trend they canceled future lease sales of all their open leases. No company, including Petrobras, was allowed to acquire anymore drilling rights. No explanation from the Bz as to why so we’re free to speculate. And what of the KSA? What dominates their decision process: profit or internal politics? That's a messy convoluted discussion I won’t attempt.

To summarize I’m not saying EROEI isn’t an important parameter. Just that it isn’t being used to make decisions regarding the development of oil/NG. So even though it has some academic interest it has no practical use. But my rambling also highlights the problem of calculating EROEI for all energy producing sectors. What’s the TEROEI of solar panel X or wind turbine Y? One has to run down the entire energy chain to come up with that number just as with the DW drill rig. That solar panel production facility cost X BTU’s to build as well as $Y. And just like drilling a well there are going to be dry holes. Consider the common topic of the day: Solyndra. Obvious the TEROEI of their panels is negative since they’ll never produce very many. Obviously that doesn’t mean solar has a negative TEROEI. But is it also fair to include it in the overall EROEI of solar? And typical of all new technologies the development phase would have a negative EROEI. Prototypes rarely ever make a profit but without them there’s little advancement.

But have at it: ignore us, praise us, damn us to hell. It don’t matter. The oil patch will never take EROEI into consideration when it comes to extracting oil/NG. Not saying we’re correct to do so…just that we ain’t going to change. Heck…being a male dominated industry what would you expect? I’m sure ever wife who tried to explain to her husband that he’s driving the wrong direction understands that. LOL.

The beauty of economy is that the essential information, for each part of a production chain, is captured by that parts costs and revenues. Thus the chain needs not be centrally planned, and no-one needs to delve deeply into how the entire chain comes together.

So, if EROEI is 1 and the energy used is the same stuff as the energy out, then the economics won't work either. If the economics work out, however, we know EROEI is good. The oil patch is smart to go with economics, because that is the simplest and most objective way to guide their work. EROEI theories are all well and good, but as we've seen here, may not be very relevant in all cases, is not very easy to understand and quite hard to apply in a way that captures everything.

The beauty of economy is that the essential information, for each part of a production chain, is captured by that parts costs and revenues.

LOL! Only in the 101 textbooks.

Externalities, market power, asymmetric information, commons problems, discount rate choices, etc., etc. -- not captured in the price.

But you are right that an index that synthesizes a multitude of factors is better than one that focuses on just one aspect.

Externalities isn't essential to the production chain. Regarding the other points, I'll admit the need to plan future costs necessitates a bigger scope, information-wise, but it still boils down to prices, whether current or future.

yes the oil industry is not interested in eroei because the profit they want to make is not directly related to eroei. but i would think that indirectly, on the average, diminishing eroei will make it harder to make profit in the long run.

jukka - "diminishing eroei will make it harder to make profit in the long run". So true. Think about the example of the Eagle Ford Shale play. IMHO if it weren't for the resource plays at least half the US oil companies would disappear overnight. My company, as well as all other privately owned companies, are very fortunate the resource plays exist. If the $billions spent in these trends were redirected towards plays with better EROEI there wouldn't be enough opportunities for us. Even with that I'll not spend $50 million of my budget this year for lack of acceptable profit/EROEI projects. And that's despite high oil prices.

That was one of the points I hoped would come across: a lot of wells are being drilled despite having relativey low EROEI. Some folks expect oil/NG production will decline propotionally to decreasing EROEI. Current booms going on in the resource plays disproves that expectation IMHO.

How far can this imbalance reach? I once drilled 4 horizontal wells for a public company that actually had not only negative EROEI but also decreased the net value of the company's reserves. We did not add $1 of additional reserves...just accelerated production that would have been recovered by the existing vertical wells. But we increased companywide production rate 400%. And how did Wall Street respond? Company stock went from about $1/share to over $5. And they floated $100 million bond for the company. And then just a few years later they went bankrupt and never paid a penny of the $100 million principal back.

Yep...all Street always knows what it's doing, right? Did I mention that the houses that placed the bond took $16 million of it as commission? Yep..."they" really do know what they're doing. Just like they know what they're doing stroking the stocks of the resource players. The public might be easily fooled. But it really isn't rocket science to the oil patch or Wall Street. We know whats going on now and what will likely happen in the future. "They" won't ever tell anyone. But I have no reason not to. Part of my constant goal to not be a hypocrit. Not always perfect but I try.

diminishing eroei will make it harder to make profit in the long run.

EROEI is useful primarily as a back of the envelope sanity check. If the types of energy used for inputs differ substantially from those produced as outputs, then it is a less useful concept. Specialized (boutique) fuels can be viable at EROEI considerably less than one. But such fuels by definition can only power a tiny fraction of the economy. Eventually, I expect that oil will become a boutique fuel/feedstock.

I guess it is ok to quote you? Do you got a reference for the British 13% figures?

It was here on TOD years ago.

Perhaps Google can help. Check back tomorrow.


Mark Thoma commenting on the American way of recent decades:

It's distribution, not production that has failed us over the last 30 or 40 years. We produce far more than we ever have, and we will continue to increase our ability to squeeze more and more out of the resources we have. We have the ability to produce enough stuff. But the distribution of the things we produce has been tilted toward the top. Instead of wages rising with productivity as our textbooks say they should, wages have stagnated and the rewards have gone elsewhere. Thus, while the pessimism of the past was about production not being able to keep up with population -- many classical economists looked forward to a long-run outcome of a dismal, stationary state with most people struggling at subsistence wages -- the pessimism of the present is driven largely by a failure of distribution. The haves get more and more, and the have nots get less and less even though overall output is rising. And to make it worse, those in power have successfuly promoted the idea that intervening to ensure that workers get to keep the share of output they've earned will harm our long-run growth prospects.

Pessimism about breaking through the wealth and power structures that stand in the way of change is understandable, as is the desire of the winners in our increasingly two-tiered society to keep the focus on growth rather than distribution. However, this outcome is not pre-ordained, it is not etched in stone, it's something we can fix without sacrificing our long-run growth prospects. But only if we refuse to buy into the narrative that the "it can't be changed so suck it up and deal with it" crowd is peddling.


Even if the prognostications from the doomiegloomies that declining supplies of hydrocarbons will result in permanent economic decline, a conclusion that I believe betrays a poor understanding of the nature of economic growth, the problem of distribution remains.

As usual these days I have mixed feelings about this.

There are 7 billion people on this planet. Who here wants to honestly share with everyone? Are you willing to subject yourself, and your children, to poverty, so that a random person living thousands of miles away in a different country can have a decent life?

Even if you take only America, you are still talking about a country with 300 million people that is dedicated to adding even more. Could it do better with a more equal distribution of income? Of course. But then we'd still end up in the same place in the end. Everybody's standard of living would go down as energy descent rears its head.

It's too late. Redistribution can't work because it makes everybody equally miserable.

What we should have done is to have gotten off oil and limited population growth 30 if not 40 years ago.

Silly humans!

I guess the more equal distribution of income and wealth explains why life is so miserable in Scandinavia, Germany, France, Canada, Japan...

And yes I do want to share, for my own sense of self worth and for my own good.

Let that equal distribution of wealth dwindle away equally and see how miserable they become in germany, france, etc.

Even if the prognostications from the dopiest economist that declining supplies of hydrocarbons will result in permanent economic growth by substitution, a conclusion that I believe betrays a poor understanding of nature, the problem of collapse remains.

Horray for those Nordic countries. But, note, they are not sharing (outside of smallish foreign aid budgets), with the billions in the less developed parts of the world, that would reduce them to poverty. However, it is shown that measures of well being, including stuff like life expectancy etc. are improved by a more equitable society.

The problem in hte Anglo world, is we have a very well funded longterm effort to promote thinking/ideology that supports giving the winners more and the losers less. So we are moving in the opposite direction -and it seems to be accelerating.

But, the seprate question, what if net resources per capita start declining -as seems almost certain? Then we could end up with a combination of productive and distributional issues.

Redistribution can't work because it makes everybody equally miserable.

Especially it can't work because it punishes being productive and rewards being unproductive.

What we should have done is to have gotten off oil and limited population growth 30 if not 40 years ago.

What if we hadn't had communism? Imagine China being like Taiwan and the Eastern Bloc being like Western Europe. Imagine no divided Korea, no Vietnam war and no other proxy wars. Imagine less military spending. What would this have done to world total fertility rates? (Most would have fallen faster, much faster.)

There is, of course, the age old debate about the effect of social welfare (redistribution) on productivity. I think the debate is misguided and pointless because the problem is that we have too much production. Further, more and more people in the U.S. don't have the option of being productive because their jobs have been automated or moved overseas. We have become a society with an increasing shift of income from the lower and middle classes to the upper classes. Does it then follow that this has enabled us to become more productive? If so, those left out of this increasing concentration of wealth are hardly comforted by the increasing productivity. Increasing productivity should result in increases in wealth to the worker. That is not happening.

Especially it can't work because it punishes being productive and rewards being unproductive.

The problem is we humans tend to let our thinking fall into the false dicotomy mode. Total redistribution of output, so those who produce nothing enjoy the fruits of those who work hard has a severe problem with incentives. So, the reaction is to go 100% the other way. But, I've always believed out first thought should be towards moderation. What level of redistribution is optimal? That reducing the problem from partisan thinking patterns, we are trying to adjust a parameter (say how progressive our tax and welfare systems should be), rather than whether we should have no redistribution, or total redistribution.


Total redistribution of output, so those who produce nothing enjoy the fruits of those who work hard has a severe problem with incentives. So, the reaction is to go 100% the other way.

I don't think people generally think that shallowly. Either they feel they have good reasons to believe redistribution to be counterproductive always or close enough to be a good rule of thumb, or they feel that redistribution is a form of theft, which is more of a moral principle than a practical issue.

Also, the context here was redistribution across nation's borders. AFAIK, foreign aid is known to produce no results or negative results. Moderate within-country redistribution has a somewhat stronger case.

I don't think people generally think that shallowly.

Individualy, if they aren't subject to partisan political forces. But with partisan politics, you have a party which believes in X. Then X becomes part of the identity, and in order to fit in, and be considered pure enough to belong (or run for office), you gotta prove you don't have anu notX in you. Then the parties run propganda, which is designed to demonize anything notX. So you end up with a situation where one or both extremes are represented, and those with more nuanced views gotta shutup or be shouted down.

I did assume (but didn't explicitly say so), that distribution across national borders was minimal. Aid is subject to the us versus them effect f politics, and usually limits voluntary cross border flows.

I don't think it is possible to arrange a world where wealth is distributed equally between us all. There will always be poor and rich. But I would like very much if my life styl was not on the cost of other peoples lives. If I buy a shirt in a clothe store, I would like it if it costed a little more, and the worker in Bangladesh who made it got the money, and could afford a decent life. And so on. But not even that can be come by.

Growth should end because we are destroying the resource and ecological basis of the planet including its animals, air, earth, and water. Both those who want more equality and those who don't agree that growth must continue. However, both sides use the argument that growth is necessary not just for the rich but those in the middle and those at the bottom. We have seen,however, that despite continued growth, very little has trickled down to the middle and, especially, the lower classes. Growth should stop and will stop at some point reqardless of what what is done. When it stops, and it we may be rapidly reaching that point, the growth promise will no longer be available to fend off the demands of the lower classes. When people realize that the promise of growth is a chimera, they will also realize that the only way the lot of the lower classes will be improved is through redistribution away from the wealthy.

Redistribution should occur through changes in taxation and other means in order to make the end of growth palatable. If it could be convincingly argued that redistribution harms growth, that would be a positive not a negative feature of redistribution.

However, I don't think the right wing even genuinely believes in their argument that growth is necessary for the betterment of all. It is just a convenient smoke screen to their current effort to make our society even less equitable. It is all about getting as much for yourself as possible. In the current political environment, they don't even want growth because that would make it more likely that Obama is reelected.

The left, on the other hand, still acts as if perpetual growth is desirable and possible. So, either way, both sides of the political spectrum end up destroying the planet. The left will do more to try to mitigate the problem, thinking we can have it all, but we still end up with a planetary disaster, a planet that is largely unfit for human life, animal life, or plant life.

I don't know what you are referring to when you say the gloomies don't understand the nature of economic growth. I think they understand it quite well and realize that the economy is reliant on natural capital, the resource base. Substitution can only take us so far.

Speculators Get a Break in New Rule

... “Despite a clear directive from Congress to rein in excessive speculation, regulators still are listening too much to Wall Street and not acting quickly enough to protect American consumers,” Sen. Nelson, FL(D) said last week.

... At the center of the debate are rules that would place a cap on how many financial contracts traders can accumulate for any given commodity. The idea is to prevent a small group from dominating an entire market

The C.F.T.C. has proposed a limit of 25 percent of the deliverable supply of the underlying commodity. Mr. Nelson last week proposed a bill that would put that position limit at 5 percent of the deliverable supply. He says the C.F.T.C.’s limit is so high that it would encourage speculation and make markets more volatile.

Commodity index funds are big business. Such funds have attracted as much as $350 billion from investors in recent years. ... In the oil markets, speculative trading accounts for about half of all trading. He says his plan would reduce that figure to about 20 percent. He cited research showing that speculators may add $21 to $27 — or about 25 percent at current prices — to the price of a barrel of oil.

The speculators giveth, and the speculators taketh away...

There’s a interesting interview with Naomi Oreskes (author of Merchants of Doubt)available on YouTube:


Notes from Oreskes "Merchants of Doubt" interview

Thanks Seraph. Interesting AND illuminating. I had missed that one.

What is it with Naomis? Are they incapable of quietly accepting the status quo? Klein, Wolf, Oreskes...

A power shift in Asia
... Notice what is happening, though. The administration is not acting unreasonably. It is not altogether selling out to Beijing. Rather, it is adjusting its sails as the gusts of Chinese power, both economic and military, strengthen. Thus the decision to help Taiwan — but not too much — illustrates how decline itself is an overrated concept.

Decline is rarely sudden: Rather, it transpires quietly over decades, even as officialdom denies its existence and any contribution to it. ...

Decline is also relative. So to talk of American decline without knowing the destiny of a power like China is rash. What if China were to have a political and economic upheaval with adverse repercussions for its defense budget? Then history would turn out a lot more complicated than a simple Chinese rise and an American fall. ...


Pax Americana is over
... The transition from Rule Britannia to Pax Americana in the Middle East was completed during the 1956 Suez Crisis, when the United States threatened to withhold financing that Britain desperately needed unless its forces withdrew from the Suez Canal. And the United States attained what amounted to the dominant position in the Middle East in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War and the ensuing victory in the first Gulf War, in 1991.

Like Great Britain in 1947, the United States is finding it more and more difficult to maintain its military and diplomatic status in the Middle East. Its defense expenditures constitute close to a third of its overall budget, at a time when the burden of its fiscal debt is becoming unsustainable. ...


Re. the first article - it is sort of funny how so many assume china is going to take over from america some "global leadership" type of role.

Both are crumbling together, along with the rest of Humpty Dumpty, the Global Village Idiot.

80+ arrests on day 8 of Occupy Wall Street protest.
Live Stream - Liberty Park, NY

Hi, Sure you mean best, but that link caused our computer to have to do a hard shut down to get rid of it. Wouldn't close and couldn't get it to close with control ault delete, so did a hard shut down.

However, it is encouraging to see people protesting Wallstreet. Obviously with the money DC politicans get from Wallstreet, they would never think of doing anything to regulate such unscrupulous activity, but the people can always make themselves heard. Would love to join in if we lived closer.

Thanks for the heads up regarding the link. It's running fine in my Windows 7 IE9 browser. I hope the link isn't compromised in some way.

Seems fine with both Windows XP and Windows 7 with Windows Ex 8 - is likely meant to be opened by the newest versions of WE - ?? Sometimes it depends on what's running in the background.


Livestream is a fairly mainstream internet broadcasting site using Flash for video. If your computer crashes on that page then it is likely you have a problem - not the link. How much memory do you have on the PC? Also are you sure your video driver is up to date?

For the record it works fine for me with Linux/Firefox 7 Beta/Flash Beta on a seven year old 1.4GHz laptop with 768M RAM. It also works fine on Windows XP and 7 machines that I've tried using various combinations of browsers.

It worked fine, it just wouldn't close out. Otherwise our computer works great, has plenty of memory left and is virus protected.

Sounds like you may have just run into some fairly "random" Windows hang that happened at the same time. If the problem is repeatable then that's a different story. I put "random" in quotes because most seemingly random Windows crashes are driver and/or hardware related in my experience.

As an example, a friend complained to me that the Flash based BBC iplayer always crashed his computer not long ago. Turned out that iplayer was about the only application they used that maxed out the cpu for any length of time. All the vents and fans were clogged up and the system was seriously overheating. Flash is the most inefficient, buggy video player on the planet in my opinion, but it needs "help" to actually crash your system.

Btw, a search finds nobody else reporting any problems with the page http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution nor are there any recent posts about current livestream crashes on any other streams.

I'd suspect there's a software bug causing problem that only rears its ugly head in rare circumstances. The actual software bug could be tough to locate. It could be in hardware driver, Flash plugin, browser or event switching issues with something else. Or possibly well-hidden adware running on your computer. Comments from Undertow and moderator make me feel more comfortable behavior isn't due to malware from Livestream website. It's probably not worth worrying about too much.

I can add to Undertow's experiences. I've worked problems with browser randomly locking up and won't close. Also, the CPU usage throttles to above 60% and stays there. A fix to the problem is to install newer version of McAfee DLP (Data Loss Prevention). One person I spoke with upgraded McAfee and it created a new problem. Now, computer fails to export excel spreadsheets attached to email to a network drive. The filesize truncates to 0. The attachment exports fine to C: drive and can be copied fine from C: drive to network drive. Exports of other filetypes to network drive also work fine. Go figure...

I've enjoyed watching the stream. Earlier, Livestream interviewed Chris Hedges, author of book, "The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress". The protest is supposed to start at 2pm so there won't be much action till then. A rep from Code Pink was speaking earlier.

The interview of Chris Hedges has been posted on youtube. Each part is 9-11 minutes long.
Occupy Wall Street Interview with Chris Hedges Part 1
Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

My youngest son is 3 years old and his favorite book is "Out of the Blue" which were these huge pictures of whales and dolphins and he will sit on the floor of his room and flip thru these pages. And I look at him and when I see him do that it breaks my heart. Because I know that if there is not a radical change in human behavior all of those great sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime.

EDIT: Added part 5,6

It did the same thing to me Earl so don't feel bad

From the Canada Free Press: Peak Oil” Scam is Based Upon Ideological, Fact-Blind Liberalism King Hubbert's Theory is to Petroleum What Leeches Are to Medicine

While it cannot come as a surprise after so many liberal hoaxes, it’s still shocking to find we’ve been duped again—this time by the “Peak Oil” myth. Peak Oil is the theory the world is on the verge of a catastrophic decline in global petroleum reserves that will result in major energy crises causing chaos across the world. This notion has now been proved demonstrably false—yet, how was it accepted in the first place?

It's all a leftist scam, another liberal hoax from the same folks that brought us climate change and the theory of evolution. Good God, I've been snookered again.

Ron P.

Oh, my... Author Kelly O'Connell gives TOD a little free publicity. His link "Bakken formation" goes to one of Gail's articles regarding a Piccolo post.

Kelly also believes in the Oil Shale misconception:

Studies over the years by industry and government alike estimate that there may be between 800 billion and more than one trillion barrels of oil locked up in the Colorado rocks—nearly 3 times known reserves in Saudi Arabia.

The Rocky Mountains are just a speed bump between the coasts anyway -- let's level'em and get that oil!


I've offered some countering info at Canada Free Press, only to be told that I have a pea brain and should be beaten to death.
Meanwhile, their mantra is "in the end truth will out.”
All we can do is offer it....

And the comments say that oil is abiotic and self-renewing, that the world should not be run by "educated" people and that atheists are not American.

Sample comment.

An atheist cannot be an “American” as he denies the very essence and substance of what Americanism is. How can an atheist swear an oath, without perjuring himself, to uphold any State Constitution, which all begin by recognizing God as the source of our liberty, as he denies the very essence and substance of what that Constitution says?

Christians swear; atheists affirm.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Tow – “How can an atheist swear an oath, without perjuring himself, to uphold any State Constitution…”. Interesting point of view. I recall knowing a number of atheists about 40 years who swore an oath and got their butts shipped off to a foreign land and put in harm’s way. I’m sure there are more than a handful serving in the Iraq and Aft who are atheists. OTOH there’s a long list of God fearing/believing politicians who have been proven to have betrayed the oath “sworn to God”.

I don’t require anyone to share my views on anything. A right wing nut or a tree hugging liberal. But I do demand honesty and, more importantly, a complete lack of hypocrisy.

a complete lack of hypocrisy

Purity in any virtue is difficult for us flawed human beings.

Total lack of hypocrisy is, IMHO, even more difficult than several other virtues.

Life is complex, and completely avoiding hypocrisy is difficult - very difficult.

Best Hopes for a little slack,


Alan, that's been my conclusion, too.

The only people who really aren't hypocrites are the pure of heart (and I've only met a handful of these in my entire lifetime, myself not included among the righteous) and those who have no moral standards (and thereby can't contradict them).

Another observation is that the gems (the pure of heart) usually got that way by going through the pressure cooker of life and having the crud and chips knocked off. They gain their wisdom by making plenty mistakes and faux pas. It has been long noted that the best of saints usually start out as the worst of sinners.

Besides, who gets to decide who is a hypocrite? Ultimately it boils down to the person doing the assessment. Such evaluations tend to be highly subjective and likewise arbitrary.

Z - I'll disagree with you tad. It's very easy to see hypocracy: a person says one thing and does the opposite. I doubt either you or Alan have a problem seeing it. And it doesn't matter whether you agree with their true position or not, does it? I see it all the time especially in the oil patch. A hand will tell a very racist joke when no blacks are around and then be friendy in their presence. Even worse at the corporate level at times: make the proper politically correct statement about the environment in public and then not give a cr*p about it with their actions.

Who decides someone is a hypocrit: everyone every day IMHO. You never see a hypocrit in your daily travels? I do. You don't have close friends who are hypocrital on certain issuea? I do. Have you ever met someone who was being hypocritical that you didn't think they knew were? I don't recall any. I keep my personal thoughts to myself. Amazing how honest folks can be with their true feelings when they think you're as big a butthole. I do it all the time on drill rigs. I do it with new hands and test their true feelings about safety, the environment and race. They fail they never know why they don't get invited back. Fail real bad and I run them off on the spot.

I suspect a lot of h[i]pocrits often don't realize it. Nor do observors who share their motivations for the hiposcisy. A case in point is US blocking Palistinian UN membership this week. On the one hand we support the cause of Arab freedom and autonomy, for instance with respect to the arab spring. But when it conflicts with out support for Israel -or our desire to maintain basis -as with being silent about gulf states oppression of their Shia citizens. We don't actually see our hipocracy. But the rest of the world which doesn't chare our policy (or cognitive) constraints see's it immediately. When confronted we get defensive, and blame the messenger for "hating America".

Rockman, I see your point. Perhaps I'm more inclined to classify many of these people as obnoxious blowhards or ignoramuses rather than hypocrites. There is a few in every crowd. Easy to chalk it up to little-big-man-syndrome or look at me ain't I special or fellows that are too proud to know that they are fools.

I suspect the culture of rough hands and oil patch executives may be a bit more red-necked and boorish than elsewhere. I tend to ignore loud mouthed and uncouth individuals. But then again, I generally don't have to work with them on a day by day basis.

Remember, too, young hirelings may be also trying to impress the boss particularly if they expect he is just another butthole among many. Many people will say things they think others want to hear. How else do you think the politically correct scrutineers have such an easy time policing their verbal etiquette, particularly among professionals?

There is danger when the words and actions of others is so closely scrutinized that every misstep is under the gun. I pity our politicians who have to undergo the brutal regiment of having every turn of phrase ever spoken thrown around for hostile cross-examination. And then we wonder aloud why political discourse is so utterly devoid of genuine content these days.

I see a bigger danger with prurient self-righteousness that purports to monitor for the public good but acts as a vehicle for gossip and consumer pop-culture titillation. We live in a society that professes liberal values for ourselves and sexual freedoms while at the same time demanding more conservative standards among our betters. What is it about our obsession with sexual peccadilloes among the powerful when such concerns have so little to do with the exercise of the public trust? How is it that Bill Clinton is remembered well for his affairs with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky and hardly ever about his transactions with Whitewater even those shady deals hurt far more people than grinding thighs between consenting adults?

Put any of us under the microscope and most of us will come up looking pretty dodgy. All of us have said things that perhaps we shouldn't... even here on TOD. Most of us have done things we've regretted. Most of us have secrets that we'd rather not have disclosed. Search for hypocrisy and you will see it all over the place. I'm not saying it doesn't exist. Au contraire, what I am saying is that is very common and closer to home than we sometimes care to think. We humans are adept creatures at masking our shortcomings. People are tissues of contradiction - a jumble of virtue and vice - and cognitive dissonance is endemic. If you're looking for consistency in human thought or behaviour you are going to be sorely disappointed. Finding people who are not hypocrites is the rarity.

The moniker "hypocrite" gets tossed around a lot but I just don't see it as particularly helpful or meaningful. May I suggest that it may be far better to draw attention directly to the offending offense. If someone uses racial slurs in one setting and not another, call them on the mat for being what they are, racist. If a company is not fulfilling environmental commitments already publicly announced, hold them accountable to those commitments.

I suspect Rockman this is what you are doing - holding others accountable. As far as the crime of saying one thing and doing the opposite, I'd say, cut some slack. Unless people are either pure of heart or completely amoral, they will likely be guilty as charged.

Z - Yep...perhaps I came on too strong on the subject. Being hypocritical is not a fatal flaw IMHO. We are all hypocrites at some point. Maybe to just not embarrass a friend who takes a foolish stance on the subject and we let a remark slide by without rebuttal. But when it's blatant and, more importantly, done to mislead it bothers me greatly. Doesn't matter if it's Michael Moore or some talking head from BP. And that doesn't mean disagreeing with someone but knowing they are utilizing arguments to support their position when you know they don't believe it themselves. I'm not the least bit bothered by folks who take a position opposite of mine. But I do tend to get nasty when I know they don't believe the BS they're throwing out to support their case. Especially when they know that I know how they really feel. A good example would be those occasional smirks from the Bush Baby.

And too nit-picky on my part :-)

Fully agree. There is a clear lack of integrity among the purveyors of truth these days whether from the left or the right. Spin is everywhere and it is designed to stifle not enhance serious discussion. One of the frustrations we hear on TOD all the time. There are those who think they must be proven right, that winning the argument is the only goal, and manipulation is the means. Facts fit the conclusion already drawn - a priori.

George Orwell coined a word to somewhat describe it: "double-speak". Stephen Colbert has added another term "truthiness".

Machiavellian subterfuge, I'm afraid, is alive and well.

Z - I'm probably a little more sensitive to it then some. For 36 years I've listened to geologists pitch their prospects. By necessity they have to spin a positive tale. Why would you risk your money on a risky venture otherwise. But after all these years I can tell honest optimism from dishonest spin. And oddly it's not so much from what they say but what they don't say about a project. And that's what tends to rub me the wrong way: when folks make an effort to avoid complete disclosure. They don't have to run all their dirty laundry out to be seen but there should be an honest balance.

a complete lack of hypocrisy

Oh crap, I am tosted.

"For no one in their right-mind would believe science is a fit replacement for religion. "

Well, that is right. Science is not a replacement for religion, if you think about it for even a short moment. But that was probably not what he was thinking.

BTW; movie recomendation: Paul. The woman "Ruth" is worth watching the movie alone. And I want her t-shirt. But I don't think this guy would like that movie.

I am a physicist. I like science. But science has nothing to say about meaning. That is the realm of religion, philosophy, ethics. Of course one is not a replacement for the other. They are disjoint.

One of the news links in the Drum Beat linked to an article in Redstate, a conservative blog.

It was a not unreasonable 'free market cures all' type of article supporting Yergin's recent WSJ article. (Uh yeah, higher prices will get more oil . . . the problem is that our economy can't really handle higher prices.)

But you get into the comments and they spin off in crazy land with lots of people believing in abiotic oil. People believe what they want to believe and label everything else as 'liberal propaganda'.

Of course, Greg Palast, apparently a liberal, is a fierce critic of Peak Oil, claiming it's a big scam by major oil companies. I suppose that one thing that most people can agree on is that Peak Oilers are crazy.

Yeah, as a fan of EVs, I can tell you there are a lot of anti-oil company conspiracy theories. As a patent attorney, the ones of "they bought up the carburetor that gets 100MPG" annoys me the most since you just can't do that. That would violate anti-trust laws.

Has it ever been attempted to create oil in an experimental environment from organic matter?
Something akin to making synthetic diamonds.
Or is time "in the oven", as it were, too large a component of oil's formation?

Oh, it is easy to synthetically create oil. It just takes a lot of energy. Thus, it is difficult to do it economically.

Right, I figured it would take a lot of energy input. Just thought that if organic matter is a necessary starting ingredient it shoots the abiotic oil idea in the foot. Or is abiotic oil just based on total fantasy with no rational explanation as to it's origin?

Has it ever been attempted to create oil in an experimental environment from organic matter?

Yes, back when I worked for Amoco Petroleum, some of the boys in the lab tried it. It worked quite well. It took about a week to produce some decent quality oil, much quicker than mother nature.

Thanks, that's interesting to know.

What a relief!

It's all a leftist scam, another liberal hoax from the same folks that brought us climate change and the theory of evolution. Good God, I've been snookered again.

Hmmm, well, that certainly would have been news to Matthew Simmons.

Somebody better tell Roscoe Bartlett.

whacky weather comment this Sunday morn.

I have lived on mid Vancouver Island most of my 50+ years. 20 of those years were spent flying float planes up and down the coast.

Our big storms are usually called south easters, with occasional very nasty westerlies from fast moving cold fronts switching rapidly to HP areas...(Stanley Park in Vancouver being blown away by one such event).

Anyway, this July was the month of rain. Summer started in Aug and lasted about 5 weeks. I have seen 35 kt se in late August, but not too often. Sept. is usually very dry and occasionally this dryness will extend all through October. Not this year.

The river I live on is so high I can't even get to my dock and have resigned to seeing it 'taken out' by a tree. I usually pull it out after Oct 15th. We have had torrential rains. I expected to see Anderson Cooper in my driveway on the 22nd. Today we have another heavy rain warning...wind warnings...and can expect 40 - 50 kt winds off and on through Monday.

This is happening 6 weeks early after no summer. In early Sept. we had mornings of 6 deg C....woodstoves going most summer mornings. Unbelieveable. I think Bella Coola is cut off from flooding. We just don't get this crap in Sept...but now I guess we do?

I know this pales compared to what happened on the east coast this summer, but you folks actually get hurricanes and tropical storms in late summer/fall. We don't, or didn't.

If there was a snow melt with this rain (which usually happens in November), our valley would be gone.

I'll second the cool weather in the Pacific NW comment. East of the Cascades we had two weeks of summer about a month apart. The second one was last week. It made it to 90 last weekend. Although still clear and sunny until today, it has cooled down to normal again.

This obviously happened before though. Most of the record highs in this area were set in the 1920's. Despite determined efforts, few if any were broken.

Rain fall on this side of the mountains is above normal, but not remarkably so. We had a 51 day period without rain, but that is pretty normal. It is a desert after all. Last weekend on the weather report it was 88 F and 16% humidity. In Coeur d'Alene on the lake shore it was 86 F and 18 % humidity.

Local weather events, such as you describe, do not in prove (or disprove, if you will) much about climate change. There's a considerable range of variation in weather patterns on a short time scale, so your experience this summer may be just another manifestation of such variation. One must understand that what the scientists call "climate" is the statistics of weather, such as average temperature over a specific time period or the variation about that long term average, and that those statistical variables aren't what we experience in our daily lives. That's why it's so difficult to describe to the public the impacts of mankind's changes on the atmosphere may be causing to the overall climate of the Earth.

The best variable to watch is global average temperature, which appears to be slowly rising. The results of such a change of the global variable when experienced at the local level may actually turn out to be counter intuitive, since some locations may experience cooling, while other locations may warm much more than that seen on the global level. All this is compounded by interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans and changes in previously experienced patterns of ocean currents will result in weather effects back to the atmosphere above. The ENSO process plays directly into the variation in the Pacific and thus is said to be the cause of most of the year-to-year variation in weather. This summer, there has a pool of cooler than average in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, but warmer than normal temperatures over the northwestern Pacific. For enlightenment, HERE is a LINK to NOAA data on ocean surface temperature anomalies for this year. It would appear that the area of warmer surface may be increasing, perhaps resulting in a reversal of the unusual weather which you recently experienced...

E. Swanson

Indeed the summer has been remarkably cool (I have commented on it on this board before), and I concur with your "Summer" timeline--it has been quite similar here in Vancouver, BC. The wasps had been remarkably suppressed this year, until they came out in force during our brief five-weeks of summer-like, yet still somewhat cool weather. Our warmest temperature so far this annum has been 27.4ºC (81ºF) on 21 Aug 2011.

What caught my attention these past few days is the generally warm and somewhat muggy nights with relatively high dew points. The high temp for 22 Sep occurred near midnight, with a reading near 20ºC! Seems like Autumns in lowland Cascadia have been having a tendency for periods of muggy conditions since at least the mid-20-oughts.

I am not convinced today's extratropical cyclone will generate the winds being forecast, though some areas—the more wind-prone ones—may get some decent speeds. The storm did not seem to get fully organized before reaching central Vancouver Island, and surface pressure gradients south of the low centre do not appear to be that usually strong. Maybe the system expected for tomorrow, which is forecast to have a tropical tap from the remains of Typhoon Roke, will be a better contender for strong winds.

I am also not convinced that this September has been that unusual (so far), with regards to storms.

Keep in mind that the Pacific Decadal Oscillaton (PDO) does appear to have gone through a phase shift of some sort, more toward cooler conditions, and this change has happened over roughly the past decade (well, since about 1998-99). From the great transition of 1976-77 to about the turn of the century, the PDO has been in a marked warm phase, especially strong in the 1980s, and this long period may have shaped many a local's expectations about what weather in this region is about. Warm, dry Septembers may be more prevalent during PDO warm-phase conditions compared to the PDO cold-phase. The next two decades may bring much more active—storm-wise—Septembers (Autumns in general) than before.

Note also that we are in ENSO neutral conditions. This phase-state is somewhat notorious in the region as major windstorms appear to have a higher probability of occurring during ENSO neutral (sometimes called La Nada). This combined with a PDO index in the negative suggests an even higher probability of significant storminess this autumn.

During September 1962, the weather quickly turned remarkably winter-like. The most destructive windstorm of the century followed on 12-13 Oct 1962 (the infamous Columbus Day Storm). I am not saying that a major windstorm will happen again this year (the probability of such is perhaps a bit higher), but showing that early Autumn has been quite active in the past during some years.

Storm events with winds of 48 km/h or higher (26-kt+) that occurred in September at Vancouver International include: 19 Sep 1953, 01 Sep 1956, 20 Sep 1956, three events in Sep 1961, 25 Sep 1964, 21 Sep 1967, 26 Sep 1968 (40 kt), 23 Sep 1970 and 26 Sep 1974 (40 kt) to list the majority. After the 1976-77 transition, September storms with strong winds occurred more rarely, and these few were right at the above 48 km/h cutoff: 10 Sep 1986, 13 Sep 1992 and 07 Sep 1998. On 25 Sep 1999, a 39-kt wind event occurred. After this, stronger Sep events resumed their irregular appearance with 19 Sep 2002 and 08 Sep 2005 (40 kt), this during what appears to be a gradual PDO phase-shift back to cool.


GW and Eric...

Thanks for your insightful points and stats. My post was anecdoatal at best, and meant only to be that. However, due to the fact that my well being and family income depended on weather conditions for most of my working life, the accuracy of forecasts and weather itself has become an obsession over the years.

Vancouver stats do not tell the coastal weather story being in rain shadow and south of the north shore mountains. As you know, it is a big reason why people choose to live in Richmond, s. Surrey, and Whiterock. It sure isn't the commute or earthquake survivability. :-(

Localized weather phenom is full of nuance and variations, nevertheless, historical trends as recanted by long term residents are as valid and truth revealing as recorded stats at YVR. Certainly, long term recorded trends indicate general climatic conditions, but wild swings and local variations may never make it into official records! Thus, the weather story is different for all....sometimes amplified depending on latitude, topography, etc as you well know. (I am assuming you have advanced education in Geography or Met as I read your comment + ref. Freda). For example, I live close to Johnstone Strait. Normally, for the last 80 years at least, the westerlies make venturing out in the afternoon in a small boat, stupid. In fact, most of the time we try and be back in from fishing by 10:00 am. This year, we had hardly any days that we could not fish. We fished only to the tide. This summer, the humidity was high and the wind was light. Now, our winter crops grown in the greenhouse are standing still...no growth, whatsoever. We may indeed be entering a cold phase, or be in one. If I can skate on the river in the next few years (like my friends did in the late 60's and early 70's), then I will believe it. One more anecdote. Normally, the woods are closed for logging in August. The first sign of real heat and dryness the companies just shut down in order to reduce the continual ramp-up costs, wasted flights, food etc. This year, I believe logging in my area was shut down for 3 days. I've been told one recorded fire in our District....,put out by the loggers who started it.

This is a very different year. Hell, just before I hit save I looked out my window at the river. Chocolate milk high and an old fir is going to tear out my dock. This river does not do this in September.....ever. This is a November scene.


Hi Paul,

Anecdotal evidence, especially from long-term residents, is important and I value reading posts such as yours. Much can be learned from those who pay attention to the weather (such as farmers and aviators) and have been living at a given location for many decades. It is often good, however, to put these anecdotal reports in a more rigorous climatological context.

There is indeed much local variation due to terrain in the Southwest BC region. And Vancouver International has a somewhat unique wind climatology relative to other nearby stations. However, strong winds at the airport are almost always generated by synoptic-scale storms that affect the greater region. Local wind effects can be controlled-for via the use of proxy data. A useful proxy is sea-level pressure, the measurement of which does not have the same local-effect issues as wind. Using SLP for a number of stations in the region, maximum pressure gradients and therefore wind potential can be calculated. Performing this exercise on the long-term record still yields significant storm events in September for the region of SW BC. September 1961, for example, had two very strong events, one on the 1st and another on the 28th. An event on 25 Sep 1999 also generated a rather strong gradient. Note that these three storms also showed up in the Vancouver International wind record that I posted yesterday.

Your comments about the river are quite interesting. This is a precipitation response, something I have not analyzed more closely via the climatological record. I might dig into this more at some point.

I also agree that some weather responses are not easily picked up in the climatological record. For instance, short-duration rainfall: precipitation measure in temporal increments shorter than regular hourly observations. This info is not as readily available as the hourly and longer records, and is absent in many long-term records. I have a suspicion, and this is anecdotal, that short-period rainfall intensities (say instantaneous rate, or 1-min totals) in the Cascadia region have been gradually going up in recent decades. I say this because I used to live in California, where extreme short-period rains are the norm, and increasingly the rain response for a given storm up here is reminding me of what I experienced down south. If it is true, some of this may be due to the PDO shift, but I am not convinced that all of it can be explained by known long-term climate cycles. AGW comes to mind. Again, this is a purely anecdotal observation.


Please, you are welcome to collect some of our local, record heat and take it up there and send us some cool in return. I've been keeping a nervous eye on Hurricane Hillary recently, SoCal had better too.


I could be wrong but I would say this is huge news...

Saudi king gives women right to vote

But will he give them driver's licenses to get to the polling booths?

No one can give another a right they can only stop the other from exercising their right. Rights are God given or natural law. Saudi women always had the right to vote. It was just the king who was using violent force to prevent women from exercising their right. The king has decided to be less of a tyrant, that is not enough. The king needs to step down and turn government to ideally a constitutional direct democracy inshallah, second best a constitutional republic. Being a little less evil does not make one just.

Sorry have to bite on this.
so if this 'god' deems you should live as a right and no one can take that right away from you does that mean you can not die? :P

EU given six weeks to protect itself against 'inevitable Greek default'
IMF tells eurozone EFSF may need to be boosted five-fold to £1.7tn to convince markets that default could be contained

Apparently, E.U. governments are going to spend the next six weeks building :...a financial firewall...". It makes it sound as if they actually do something real!


World central bankers are meeting in Washington this weekend.

Global leaders call for euro debt action

There is no credible plan. The house of cards is falling and all they can do is propose to repeal the law of gravity.

Bank lobby rejects reopening of Greek rescue deal


There is no credible plan. The house of cards is falling and all they can do is propose to repeal the law of gravity.

My impression is the EU is resolved to a Greek default, due mostly to the fact Greece has no chance of repaying loans due in part to the Greek govt's inability or unwillingness to tighten their fiscal belt.

What is interesting now is what is probably going on behind closed doors is 'How to contain and politically spin a Greek default' from spreading to other PII(G)S. Greece's economy pales in comparison to Italy's, so they are probably convinced it can be contained.

We have come to this precipice of Greek default via these world events:

1. Oil production hits plateau in 05
2. Oil Price spikes to 147 in 08
3. Markets crash - Great Recession
4. Trillions borrowed for Bank bailouts & Stimulus
5. Growth in US & EU almost nil in 2011, unemployment remains high - danger of double dip
6. Politically & fiscally bailouts no longer seen as answer
7. Price of Brent in triple digits in spite of slow OECD economies
8. Greece debt defaults

#8 has not occurred yet, however many see it as inevitable. The question is, can it be contained to just Greece? Will it provide justification for other PIIS defaults?

And a greater question is, are we on the leading edge of worldwide bank and govt. defaults? Has this situation of propping up govt's with stimulus and loans simply put off the inevitable?

Greece doesn't have a very big economy, so if it starts to go down, the other EU members can just ante up more money and bail them out. Germany and France might not be happy about that, but they can afford to do it.

The real problem occurs if a bigger country such as Italy can't pay its debts. Italy is a G-8 economy, one of the biggest in the world. If it went down, it could take the whole EU with it.

I don't know how deep the pockets are, if they can afford or not tp buy up Greece. But I do know the amount of political capital is shorter. Geting the voters on the train will be hard. The germans are tiered of bailing out Greece. I have big problems seeing this go through politically.

Which entity in the EU has the authority to print money. Can it print euros to pay off the creditor of the PIIGS. Then stop lending the PIIGS money. This only leaves the issue of social disruption in the PIIGS, but they are free to migrate anywhere in the EU they want to. Oh, now I think I begin to see what the rich northern states fear. Hordes of young and old people from the PIIGS setting up tent cities in Germany, France, and England. Like the "Grapes of Wrath".

It is my understanding that even the ECB is not allowed by its charter to print money at will. To pay off the creditors with printed money is probably not only outside its charter but beyond anything that the solvent countries can accept.

sk - That's my understanding also. One option under consideration was offering "EU bonds" backed by the collective although it sounds as though that would have similar road blocks as printing euros. Something about giving up certain sovereign rights. Was difficult to follow the details.

Event the pigs aren't safe.

Pig Thefts on the Rise due to rising pork prices

The down economy has fueled theft of all sorts: shoplifting, bank robberies – and even pig heists.

According to the Wall Street Journal, around 1,000 pigs have been stolen from Iowa and Minnesota farms in recent months. Thieves work under the cover of night, supposedly loading hogs into trailers and driving off. They are driving miles down dirt roads and bypassing deadbolts on doors to snatch the plump piglets. In August, 594 pigs were stolen from a single Minnesota farm – a heist that surely took more than one return trip. "Whoever did it is certainly livestock-savvy," detective Kent Bauman said.

I found this damn funny

And it's not easy to track down stolen pigs. “They all look alike,” Mitchell County, Iowa sheriff

Looks like there is money to be made in farm security.

Farming for you and your company can help you.

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