Drumbeat: September 28, 2011

Report Says Vehicle Fuel Should Be the Priority, Not Electricity

Research on solar and wind power is all well and good, but a self-assessment by the Department of Energy has found that in the great scheme of energy needs, the government is not investing enough in transportation energy, an area in which those renewable power sources do not play a role.

“Reliance on oil is the greatest immediate threat to U.S. economic and national security, and also contributes to the long-term threat of climate change,’’ its analysis, released on Tuesday morning, states.

The report emphasizes the need to replace oil rather than fuels like coal and natural gas, which are supplanted by electricity-generating solar and wind power. (There is very little oil used to generate electricity in the United States.)

Gas Tax Should Be Mile Fee as Cars Evolve

The federal government reaped $31.7 billion from fuel taxes in 2009, the lowest total in five years. States collected $37.9 billion in 2008, about the same amount as the year before. More recent data isn’t in yet, but further declines are inevitable. In July, carmakers and U.S. authorities agreed to raise fuel- efficiency standards 80 percent by 2025. As better mileage becomes commonplace, motorists won’t need to buy as much gasoline or diesel.

Boosting the federal gasoline tax above its current 18 cents a gallon would be a short-term fix at best, failing to address the shrinking tax base. The only way to raise adequate revenue and charge all users fairly is to restructure the road tax so it is based on miles driven, rather than fuel burned.

How Will We Fuel the Future?

The reason Bill Gates wishes for a technology that creates energy at half the price of coal with no carbon dioxide emissions is that he wants a technology so compelling that it is adopted by poor countries as well as rich ones. Coal is plentiful worldwide, and unless the new technology is much cheaper, China and India will never adopt it. And if these two countries — which together are building four coal-fired power plants a week — don’t get off coal, nothing that happens in the West matters, since the levels of carbon dioxide they will pump into the atmosphere will be well above the danger mark. Half the price of coal and no carbon: That’s a tall order, which is why Gates is looking for a miracle. But what he means is a technological miracle of the kind that happens from time to time. The steam engine, the automobile, the computer, the Internet are all miracles. We need something on that order in energy — and fast.

‘The Quest’ questioned

The most famous peak oil forecaster was M. King Hubbert, a geologist who worked for Shell Oil and the U.S. Geological Survey, and who predicted that U.S. oil production would reach its peak around 1965 or 1970. When production did peak in 1970, and start a long decline, then, as Yergin writes in The Quest, "Hubbert appeared more than vindicated."

Why only "appeared"? Because, Yergin argues, Hubbert's forecast for U.S. oil production over the longer term was off, and the country now produces about four times as much as Hubbert had forecast for 2010.

Oil Falls, Heading for Quarterly Decline in New York on Europe Debt Crisis

Oil fell in New York, heading for the biggest quarterly decline since 2008, on speculation that fuel demand will drop as the U.S. economy slows and Europe’s debt crisis batters consumer sentiment.

Futures slipped as European equity markets and the euro gave up earlier gains. U.S. inventories of gasoline and crude oil increased last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before today’s Energy Department report. Commerce Department data today may show U.S. durable goods orders fell and a report tomorrow may confirm European consumer confidence slid to a two- year low in September.

OPEC won't interfere with falling oil prices, for now

Oil prices may be $20 off April's $127-a-barrel peak but there is no panic in Riyadh, Kuwait City or Abu Dhabi. Far from it.

Oil policy officials in the capitals of OPEC's Gulf Arab price doves Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are relaxed and won't be losing sleep if prices fall further.

Enoc wants to sell oil but not at big loss

Emirates National Oil Company remains hopeful for a change in the government's price controls on petrol that would allow it to get stations in the northern emirates running again.

Oil refineries seek huge tax refunds

PASADENA, Texas (AP) — Some of the nation's largest oil refineries are seeking huge tax refunds that could force school districts and local governments across Texas to give back tens of millions of dollars they were counting on to pay teachers and provide other services.

The refineries want the tax breaks in exchange for buying pollution-controlling equipment. But the cost to public schools would be dear, coming only months after lawmakers slashed education spending by more than $4 billion.

Chesapeake Energy Calls Active Ahead of Utica Shale Report

Chesapeake Energy Corp. shares are poised to gap sharply higher on the open this morning, as traders react to news of “strong initial production success” in the Utica shale region of Ohio and Pennsylvania. In fact, the firm plans to increase its net liquids production by 50% to roughly 150,000 barrels per day by the end of 2012, with output rising 150% to 250,000 barrels by the end of 2015.

BP May Quadruple Indonesian Gas Plant as Part of Asian Drive

BP Plc (BP/) is studying a fourfold expansion of the $5 billion Tangguh liquefied natural-gas plant in Indonesia as the region’s economic growth surges and Japan raises imports following its nuclear disaster.

BP’s Dudley Says India Must End Gas-Price Controls to Attract Investment

India needs to move toward ending controls on natural gas prices to encourage investments in offshore energy exploration, BP Plc (BP/) Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said.

“In general, deepwater requires a lot of capital, it’s a lot of risk,” Dudley told reporters in New Delhi today. “You obviously need to develop mechanisms that’ll create the rewards for all that risk. Over time, free-market systems are what any economy needs to be able to ensure efficient development.”

Fire at Shell Singapore refinery intensifies

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A fire has intensified at Royal Dutch Shell's Singapore refinery, the company's largest, a senior company executive said on Wednesday.

Shell evacuates non-essential staff from Singapore refinery

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has evacuated all non-essential staff from its 500,000 barrels-per-day Singapore refinery as a fire burns at the plant, the Singapore Civil Defence Force said in a statement on Wednesday.

Gazprom Says EU Raids Were "Unexpected"

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russian gas firm OAO Gazprom Wednesday defended its European supply contracts and said raids of offices of some of its European partners by the European Union's antitrust authority were "unexpected."

"Gazprom (...) was not informed about the existence of any claims, and thus could not offer the cooperation needed to address all possible issues," Gazprom said in a statement.

ANALYSIS - Turkey readies sanctions against Syria

ANKARA (Reuters)- Having failed to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end a bloody crackdown, Turkey is preparing a list of sanctions against its one-time friend in a policy shift that aligns Ankara more closely with the West.

MOL Reduces Syrian Crude Oil Production By 1,500 B/D

BUDAPEST -(Dow Jones)- Hungarian oil and gas firm MOL Nyrt.'s Croatian subsidiary INA-Industrije Nafte D.D. has cut output at its Syrian operation by 1,500 barrels a day, MOL said in a stock exchange filing Wednesday.

Exxon to start fracking 2nd Polish shale gas well

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil will begin fracking at a second shale gas well in Poland next week after it recently finished the process at a more advanced well, a local operations board member for the global oil major said on Wednesday.

EU antitrust inspectors raid Bulgarian gas firms

(Reuters) - The European Commission has started raids at several Bulgarian gas companies as part of a wider investigation over possible breaches of antitrust rules in gas firms in 10 EU members in central and eastern Europe.

OPEC is Hanging by a Thread

History has a knack for repeating itself.

We've seen it happen time and again. It feels like an inevitable cycle, and there's no immediate solution to this problem.

It's happening right now, as a matter of fact.

All we need to do is take one look at the OPEC. They're doomed to the same fate we've seen play out more than once before...

You see, the OPEC is following in our footsteps.

EPA hearing on gas drilling pollution in W. Pa.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A public hearing Tuesday on proposed rules to reduce air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations found at least some points of agreement between industry and environmental groups.

Report Finds Gaps in USGS Study on Offshore Drilling in Arctic Ocean

A U.S. Geological Survey report last summer on the nation's capacity to assess impacts from oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean was credible and unbiased but failed to identify which scientific gaps are most important to fill, according to a new report commissioned by a pair of conservation groups.

Tea Party conservative blocks pipeline safety bill

Washington -- Tea Party conservative Sen. Rand Paul is blocking pipeline safety legislation intended to fix some of the problems that led to the rupture of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno last year that destroyed a neighborhood and killed eight people.

U.S. Says Sunken Transocean Rig May Be Source of Oil Sheen

The U.S. Coast Guard said the wreckage of Transocean Ltd. (RIG)’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig may be the source of an oily sheen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil Spill Affected Gulf Fish’s Cell Function, Study Finds

A minnowlike fish that is a major source of food in wetland marshes along the Gulf of Mexico is showing early signs of biological damage from the BP oil spill, a peer-reviewed study published on Monday found.

Exposure to toxic chemicals from the BP disaster, which spewed 4.9 million barrels off the coast of Louisiana in 2010, has altered the gulf killifish’s cellular functions in ways that have been predictive of a lack of reproduction in other fish, according to the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tesla's business plan: Riding on fumes

FORTUNE -- This Saturday, Tesla Motors is holding a test drive to reveal the latest versions of its second zero-emission automobile, the all-electric four-door Model S to several thousand reservation holders. Tesla has made some extraordinary claims for the car, and analysts and investors will be watching the event closely to see if it can live up to them.

$25 billion green-car fund dodges bullet

A large green-car loan fund that was created in the Bush years and which began dispensing money under the Obama White House dodged a bullet late Monday.

But the spotlight turned on the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program in this dispute may keep the fund in the cross hairs for the next budget showdown.

Appalachia faces steep coal decline

Business owners like Howard, politicians and miners in the hilly coalfields of Central Appalachia blame the industry decline on tougher regulation from the Obama administration. They aren’t as ready to talk about something a change in administrations cannot fix. The region’s thick, easy-to-reach seams of coal are running out, forcing many operators to shift to cheaper and more destructive mining methods that draw heavier environmental regulation.

Coal here is getting harder and costlier to dig — and the region, which includes southern West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, is headed for a huge collapse in coal production.

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that in a little more than three years, the amount of coal mined here will be just half of what it was in 2008. That’s a significant loss of a signature Appalachian industry, and the jobs that come with it.

Solyndra Allowed by Court to Auction Solar-Panel Plant Next Month

Solyndra LLC, the bankrupt solar- panel maker, won court permission to hold an auction for a plant that was financed partly with more than $500 million in loans guaranteed by the U.S. government.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in Wilmington, Delaware, today approved an Oct. 27 auction of Solyndra’s assets, rejecting a request from lower-ranking creditors for more time to seek potential buyers.

The Solyndra curse

The collapse of Solyndra highlights just how risky this still-nascent business is. It didn't help either that Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 just two weeks after another publicly traded solar firm, Evergreen Solar, did the same.

Critic of Obama clean-energy loans lobbied Energy Department

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee, previously lobbied the Department of Energy to lend money for at least four energy projects in his home state through the same loan program. But after last month's bankruptcy of the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra — the first company to win a DOE clean-energy loan funded through Obama's $825 billion stimulus plan — Upton was among the Republican lawmakers who decried the Department of Energy loan guarantee program for "picking winners and losers."

Feds give $450 million to Texas clean energy plant

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $450 million to a clean coal project planned for arid West Texas.

The department says the money will be used to build one of the "most advanced and environmentally clean coal-based power plants." The plant will use a lower-carbon coal to produce energy.

Delaware seeks comment on fuel cell plan

DOVER, Del. (AP) — State officials are encouraging the public to support an effort to bring an alternative energy company to Delaware.

Bloom Energy wants to build a fuel-cell factory at the closed Chrysler plant in Newark, with the help of $16 million in state incentives. Delmarva Power, a unit of Pepco Holdings Inc., would be allowed to count electricity from the fuel cells toward its renewable energy requirements.

A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

A Georgia company says it has overcome a major roadblock in turning agricultural waste into vehicle fuel and other useful chemicals by experimenting with a technology that treats the waste with compressed water heated to very high temperatures.

The company, Renmatix, plans to cut the ribbon on a research and development center on Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa., near the heart of the nation’s chemical and refining industry, to complete development of the process. The goal is to accomplish something that has eluded a dozen companies in recent years despite big government inducements: to commercialize a technology for making use of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, switchgrass and the nonedible parts of crops.

Sunny outlook for emirates in drive for more solar energy

Solar panels are spread across Abu Dhabi rooftops and Dubai officials promise to announce a "big" solar plan. Cheaper solar technology is helping to drive their progress.

Start-Up in California Plans to Capture Lithium, and Market Share

A start-up company will announce on Wednesday that it is beginning commercial operations at a factory in Southern California to capture lithium from existing geothermal energy plants, a technology it says has the potential to turn the United States into a major lithium exporter.

The plant, built by Simbol Materials near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley, will also capture manganese and zinc.

Clean-energy credits tarnished

WikiLeaks reveals that most Indian claims are ineligible.

Climate Change Takes a Toll on Cultures

In some places, the shifts in ecosystems require indigenous cultures to rapidly adapt or perish as their traditional means of subsistence becomes harder to sustain.

Arctic Shelves Have Lost Half Their Size in Six Years

OTTAWA — Canada’s Arctic ice shelves, formations that date back thousands of years, have been almost halved in size over the last six years, Canadian researchers said on Tuesday.

Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, who regularly analyze satellite images from the region, also found that a major portion of the ice shelves split in half this summer and other pieces covering an area roughly one and a half times that of Manhattan have broken off since the end of July.

Slowing jet stream shows risk from warming Arctic

LONDON (Reuters) - A new, unpublished finding that the polar "jet stream" is slowing down provides compelling evidence of a link between rapidly melting Arctic sea ice and colder winters across the northern hemisphere and other extreme weather.

The possibility of far flung impacts from a rapidly warming Arctic underlines the danger of unpredictable, economically disruptive knock-on effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

From the front page of the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader newspaper: “Appalachia facing dramatic coal decline as seams run out.” “GEOLOGY TRUMPS ECONOMICS”, by Dylan Loran.

The big seams are running out. Sound familiar?

Also on the front page: “Job-based health insurance costs jump”, Average premium for family coverage rises 9 percent in year.” “......family health insurance jumped 9 percent this year, to $15,073.........”

I don't know why, but I just can't get COLLAPSE off my mind.

The coal story is up top, under the title "Appalachia faces steep coal decline."

Hi all. I'm a teacher in Saskatchewan and I was hoping that someone could point me in the right direction. I want to start off a grade 10 history unit on economic history with a primer on resource limits, peak oil/energy, waste sinks and the like, and I am looking for a powerpoint that someone has made/seen on this topic that they would be willing to share with me. I've been a regular reader of The Oil Drum and related site for years, so I fell comfortable talking about and explaining the issues, I just need pretty pictures and graphs to illustrate. Many thanks for your responses.



A good start might be Gail's presentation from Our Finite World.


Edit to correct spelling.

I have several presentations that combine history, resource limits and pretty pictures. And I think 10th graders are smart enough to combine graphics from the Energy export databrowser with their own internet research to tell some interesting stories.

Best Hopes for Encouraging Curiosity!



any slide in any of my presentations is available, too:

Preparing for a Post Peak Life

ASPO 2010 Talk

Educators often ask to show the videos in their classes, and since I always said yes, I put a note somewhere to that effect i.e. if you find the videos helpful, feel free to use them

Chris Martenson also has The Crash Course and you could ask him, too:

Also check out the Transition folks, who do a good job with their presentations:

Last, the 300 second video by the Post Carbon Institute is worthwhile, too:

Each peak oil educator explains things in a slightly different way.

Chris is giving a presentation at Transition Sebastopol on Oct 18, for those in the North Bay.
Andre- I'm living up in Sonoma now.

Hi Kinjikii,

Walter Youngquist wrote a textbook in 1997 entitled "Geodestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources Over Nations and Individuals". Among other things, it discusses the idea of 'sustainability'.

I believe he is either in the process of updating this book or has just recently completed doing so. I couln't tell what grade level it is aimed at, but it is more descriptive than analytical. (IMHO)


A big thanks to all who responded with suggestions.

I think i'm going to use some info and a few graphs of my own to get the students to compare the energy use of the average 18th century person in England to one living in the year 2000. Once we've crunched those numbers and discussed the reasons for the huge difference, I'll show the graphs of population growth in the last milennium and oil use for the last 150 years(and projected to 2050). By then the students should be starting to grasp the problem.

Depending on where the conversation goes, I will probably show chapter 17a(peak oil) from the crash course and the power point 'The context for transition' from the transition networks website. If they're having trouble believing/grasping, especially with the export math, I'll show them Gails post on Egypt and the reasons behind their recent problems re. the export land model and peak water and grain ect. (with thanks to westtexas as always for his elm.) We'll stop there for the time being, as the kids will feel hit upside the head with a 2x4 by then.

Thanks again all for the suggestions, the reason I can speak intelligenty to these issues is the great conversations that go on here every day (mostly:)


Never forget Bartlett and The Exponential Function. There are eight parts, discussion after each part, then watch again.

Understanding the exponential is a very big must to realising how broken the BAU model is. Realising that a 3% year on year growth cannot go on for ever.


How 'bout friends and family...?

They all think I'm nuts....

I made my own powerpoint but haven't yet showed them anything yet

They all think I'm nuts....

Truth is, all the world is an asylum.

Some inmates just happen to be more delusional than others.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is koo koo.

Re: Slowing jet stream shows risk from warming Arctic

The article comments on unpublished results, which are said to show that the Jet Stream is slowing over North America. While this may turn out to be true, until these results are published, it's rather bad form to bring these ideas out into the public arena. There may be other interpretations of the data besides those presented in the article and the notion that changes in the NAO index are the cause of the colder weather these past few winters is as yet unproven. As the article notes:

Two years of observations are insufficient to prove a theory, no matter how extreme the data. Some scientists believe that natural effects flipped the NAO into an extreme negative phase, in a strongly divided scientific debate.

So why toss this out now? What about an alternate explanation, such as a slowing or shutdown of the THC, a change also apparent in one data set? The public now is said to disregard Global Warming science, the result of a major campaign to spread disinformation. It doesn't help make the case that humans are causing the climate to change by releasing results before publication IMHO...

E. Swanson

Not disagreeing about peer-review but, the last couple of years have had some anecdotal evidence to support 'slowing jet stream'

Recently Mid-Latitude Cyclone Affects The Midwestern United States
and Cyclone sticks on Michigan: See why it's been soggy for days (NASA video)

Here, on the East Coast, we've been stuck in a stalled rainy/cloudy weather system for the past couple of weeks - very un-autumn like.

This from the "Weddings" section of the Washington Post:

Police say western Pa. couple cut $7,000 worth of copper wire from poles to pay for wedding

The couple faces a preliminary hearing Oct. 24 on theft and other charges for allegedly cutting down the wire on Aug. 9, four days before their wedding. Police say Russell told them he had lost his job at an auto parts store and needed the money.

They've got to stop allowing regular citizens to recycle copper wire, because its providing employment to the desperate in the form of infrastructure dismantlement.

Require certification and set guidelines.

Good suggestion - Think I might recommend that to the legislature next term. Might save the state from cannabilizing itself. At least slow it down.

We need to show ID to trade precious metal; why not base metals?

What were your thoughts on certs. and guidelines?

.. or just reclassify Copper as a Precious Metal.

The WWII Hording laws are still on the books.

Memory says 200 lbs of copper - more than that is a horde.

i wonder when they will start ration stamps again or will they just 'let the free market' decide who gets what?

In Washington state you do not need ID to trade precious metal (Au, Ag).

To buy, just show up with cash.

To sell, just show up with metal.

For just about any transaction under $10K, there is nothing more involved.

Same here. The only time ID is required for precious metals is for selling jewelery or very large amounts. As for selling scrap copper, aluminum, etc., it's very hard to trace back to the source or prove it was stolen. Not much point in IDing folks.

But also in Washington, you DO need ID if you sell over $25.00 in scrap aluminum or copper. Aluminum cans are exempt.

Too much irrigation pipe was going missing. And long wire runs from the power lines to the pumps in the middle of the 1/4 sections were missing as well.

I recycled some Aluminum here in Wisconsin just a few weeks ago. I had to give them my drivers license.

In North Carolina and Virginia it is necessary for sellers to show good id and sign a form crrtifying ownership of copper, or any other large quantity of metal scrap , particularly catalytic converters, in order to sell them.The buyers record vehicle liscense plate numbers too.The buyers are thus regulated, minimizing the burden on the sellers.

About the only exception is empty aluminum cans.

This should be more than adequate regulation to ensure the easy capture of habitual thieves-larger sales are also only paid for by check, creating another paper trail.

There are not many thefts of such materials here now.

We don't need to go around creating another layer of regulatory bueracracy unless it is absolutely necessary, as we are having a very hard time paying for the ones we have already.If the law of eternal growth-grow or die-applies anywhere, it applies to such govt agencies.They WILL find ways and means to justify their existence.

A lot of rather poor folks around here make a good portion of thier living here salvaging scrap that has been discarded as trash along side public roads and on private property, and it is simply remarkable how much cleaner the countryside is since scrap prices have gone up.

If it becomes necessary to buy liscenses, fill out a lot of paper work, buy insurance, and pay income taxes, most of them, maybe nearly all of them, will simply quit, as these people are not only unwilling but unable due to lack of education to comply.

The trash would stay on the side of the road.

Their mostly rather meager earnings from collecting aren't enough to justify the expense and time of compliance.If they get a tax notice that they owe five hundred bucks because the sold a couple of thousand dollars of scrap laboriously gathered over a years time, they simply aren't going to be able to pay it.

I personally know an elderly retired man very well who , unable to do any productive work for wages,picks up cans for three or four hours every week, this getting his walking exercise , and a few dollars to supplement his meager social security check.He would be without that extra five hundred a year , and far less motivated to walk and stay healthy, if he has to start fooling around with records and a liscense-paying somebody to take care of that for him would be out of the question.

The usual course of action for a younger person caught in such a bind is to switch over to genuine crime-small time drug dealing, welfare fraud,burglary and other property crimes.Such people learn pretty fast to avoid pawn shops and sell thier ill gotten gains by word of mouth in the community, just as they sell a little pot.

We NEED a little bit of gray market economy, it enables poor people to live somewhat more dignified and honest lives.If the (pardon me !)govt is everybody's mommy sort get thier way, the local girl who cuts her friends hair , the old lady who sells her nieghbor her extra eggs, the retired mechanic who puts new brakes on his nieghbors cars, the kid who cuts your gras, will all be prosecuted.

They are all already breaking numerous laws.

I probably break a dozen laws a month myself, and don't even know it most of the time.I don't worry much about it because the law of omerta is alive and well here.Whoever pays me ten bucks for something out of my personal treasure stash-illegal dump to the busybody-knows that if asked, it was a gift, and that if that treasure stash disappears, the next time he needs a length of angle iron, it will be seventy five dollars and a trip to town to get it.

And my treasure dump, which consists mostly of "othermans trash " is at least semilegal enough that local offocials are not willing to challenge me in respect to its EXISTENCE, since it is a legally justiafiable part of our farm operation.

Enough is enough.

I could buy a fifty mpg plus auto, readily available in Europe from an American manufacturer, if it weren't for the busy body types who want to control every last detail of peoples lives.

I wonder how many of them ever stop to ponder how many people are riding scooters and motorcycles-and getting killed or seriously crippled up, permanently, at great public expense, because they cannot buy a truly economical car-such a car being unavailable because it cannot meet the regulations.

It seems perfectly obvious to me that even the flimsiest car I have ever seen or heard of ( I go to auto shows , and read car magazines) is considerably safer than any motorcycle.

Incidentally, I own and ride a motorcycle, but no longer venture out onto heavily traveled roads on it.If I want to break my neck, I see doing so as my own daxxed business.

Good points oldfarmermac, I think if we make recycling more difficult, we will have less much less recycling and we will be hurting the poor. Where's the ACLU on an issue like this?

I work in the metals recycling business in Florida it is Florida Law That I check ID, get The car Tag and get fingerprints of every person that comes in to sell me any metal and I have to keep a record of all transactions for five years. Most other states already have similar requirements...

What the F more do you want?!

So why is theft of air-conditioning units and wire still such a problem here in Florida?

Maybe the problem is that Florida is too close to Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi...

E. Swanson

Are you serious? Why is there any theft of anything anywhere?!

My point above was that we already do what the law requires. We are a legitimate business not an arm of law enforcement or a social welfare office. BTW a couple weeks ago they broke into our yard and got away with about 10K of copper, brass and stainless.

Compared to what the average bankster gets away with its just chump change.

I fully expect much more petty crime as we get further into social and economic collapse, until we have a full reset of our economic paradigm I don't see things getting better anytime soon.

FMagyer- I agree with you. Media is always misdirecting everything. No mention that the copper is on its way to China to build infrastructure (high speed rail/etc) to create a post peak transportation system. The big story about the solar panel company and government loans, while we spend that amount in less then a day in Iraq, all so the oil companies/drilling companies can suck that country dry before anyone notices. Never hear much talk on the trillions worth of oil sitting under that sand, protected by US taxpayer paid soldiers.

I am against crime like most - but they, the POLITICIANS, approved NAFTA, GATT, WTO and let the South American illegals flow in and spread like a cancer - the jobs and factories were shipped to China - yet people still bred - what do you want them to do? There is nothing left for them but to strip the infrastructure. It is called SURVIVAL.

EDIT: add video that describes crime and how it is dealt with in Johannesburg,S.A.

The situation is desperate in Johannesburg, S.A. the video is from 2011. Open your eyes to reality - that which is coming soon.


Because the Police, the DA and the scrap dealers have no incentive to bust anyone.

Going after a scrap case is work. What makes anyone think that the police and the DA are somehow wanting to take on extra work? Especially work from a mere citizen who's had metals go missing?

Because the Police, the DA and the scrap dealers have no incentive budget to bust anyone.

"Wow! They shoulda had insurance...."

Down with freedom.

They've got to stop allowing regular citizens to recycle copper wire, because its providing employment to the desperate in the form of infrastructure dismantlement.

I think it would be much more effective to provide legit employment to the desperate. Treat the root of the problem, if you make it more difficult to fence stolen copper, thieves will steal something else. Disallowing the sale of copper by regular citizens is only deflecting the problem.

Require certification and set guidelines.

“The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”
― Oscar Wilde

Police say Russell told them he had lost his job at an auto parts store and needed the money.

Don't talk to the(ir) police.

From the head of UniCredit global securities Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy. Google translation.


"the euro is "practically dead" and Europe faces a financial earthquake from a Greek
default"... "The euro is beyond rescue"... "The only remaining question is how
many days the hopeless rearguard action of European governments and the European
Central Bank can keep up Greece's spirits."...."A Greek default will trigger an
immediate "magnitude 10" earthquake across Europe."..."Holders of Greek
government bonds will have to write off their entire investment, the southern
European nation will stop paying salaries and pensions and automated teller
machines in the country will empty "within minutes."

Euro Is Beyond Rescue in Debt Crisis, Szalay-Berzeviczy Says


No sane government is going to allow such a total collapse to happen, they may decide the Euro is a dodo but the banks will be expected to operate while "Plan B" is rolled out.

I suspect that "Plan B" will be to overstamp Euros in each of the member states with a National stamp "Punt Éireannach" for Ireland for example and replacing currency as fast as possible.

Then after a short pause float all on the market, no matter what, it can't end well.

Surely if you are in Greece your obvious move is to get all your assets into physical euros now. Not only does that protect you if/when the greek banks collapse; you also can wait till the new non-euro greek currency is announced, at a much devalued rate, and exchange euro for nudrachma to effectively bypass the implied theft of your savings.

"No sane government"

You should have ended your post there.

If I had a penny for all the times people have told us, "They (gobernment) will never do that" followed by hearing gobermint say, "Nobody saw this coming !!!!" ???

"No sane government" indeed.

" Faster, Harder !!!" said the hairballs while the airheads(e.g. Bill Gates) begged for "miracles."

(" Faster, Harder !!!" chuckles Mother Nature, "That's what she said." belly-laugh, and back to sharpening here teeth and claws)

I don't agree with this total economic collapse theory either. There was a talk in Financial Sense sometime back (don't recall the author) the essence being that Central Banks are not out of bullets, they have plenty of bullets left, just the ones we wouldn't like to see like capital controls, tariffs, price controls and nationalization of banks.

I don't think we will be seeing scenes from Mad Max anytime soon.

I don't think we will be seeing scenes from Mad Max anytime soon.

See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8434#comment-839814

Today on CNBC there is a story about "What if the Whole World Goes Into a Recession At Once?"

The countries, now all linked, developed synchonicity and all the economic and financial phenomena, well-connected to peak oil (in an esoteric way that escapes notice through declining EROI), oscillate now together in one gigantic thrummm.

It has only one fate, only one destiny: this oscillation, as it quiets and dies, spells the freezing up of the oil-based global economy. Will it be "Mad Max"? Will anyone quite hungry, and living near acres of hard asphalt and miles of cement buildings be able to summon up the physical energy to do anything but limp across abandoned parking lots and faint for want of food on the edge of the sidewalk? That is what I am planning to do! So choose the clothes carefully you want to wear for this sad occasion. I don't see Mad Max, but rather weak hungry people eyeing cement buildings and wondering what previous generations were thinking. Cement and asphalt would be barriers preventing photosynthesis, the best process, free and simple, which brings us directly and cheaply the energy of the sun.

The countries, now all linked, developed synchonicity and all the economic and financial phenomena, well-connected to peak oil (in an esoteric way that escapes notice through declining EROI), oscillate now together in one gigantic thrummm

Agreed. Our world has become one single organism. The financial system has killed whatever little redundancy was left.

Surely some professor of economics must have already written a scholarly paper on:

Just-in-time Collapse:

The elegance and beauty of the free market globalized economy is demonstrated by its capacity to enter into a sudden, globally synchronized and just-in-time massive collapse mode at that stage in its growth cycle where creative pruning and culling of excess population is deemed necessary for sake of efficiency and continued expansion of the job creating class albeit at the expense of the wealth sucking and nonproductive zombie class, who after all, were never human to begin with and should never have been entitled to entitlements in the first place. Only the job creating class deserves the deservihoods that they justly deserve and have earned all on their own as self-made Ayn Rand style Galtmeisters.

/sarcasm (in case you thought any of this was for real)

"I don't think we will be seeing scenes from Mad Max anytime soon."

From your lips to god's anus (I heard He's got his ears covered and is saying, "nah-nah-nah-nah" over and over again).

I've never seen Mad Max so I will have to use some other B-grade movies for a strawman.

Then you are in for a treat. Youre gonna see Mel Gibson grow up!

Mel Gibson grew up?

I heard Mel Gibson threw up, and then went on to just sort of f$&%*3# in general ; )

Paolo Bacigalupi.

The Tamarisk Hunter – A story of drought along the Colorado River. Originally published in High Country News, an environmental journal covering the western United States.

The Fluted Girl – What would you do to be famous? What would you do to stay that way? This story was collected in Science Fiction: The Best of 2003, The Year’s Best Science Fiction 21st Annual Collection, and The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 17th Annual Collection. It was also a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist

The People of Sand and Slag – What if every problem really has a technological solution? This story was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and was collected in Science Fiction: The Best of 2004, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction 22nd Annual Collection.

Essentially what he is saying is that give us a lot of tax payer money immediately or I won't get my bonus.

I love links in Hungarian >;^)

A counterpoint to Sen. Rand Paul's blocking of pipeline safety legislation.

NTSB PG&E San Bruno Pipeline Explosion Accident Report September 2011

... The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation found that the rupture of Line 132 was caused by a fracture that originated in the partially welded longitudinal seam of one of six short pipe sections, which are known in the industry as “pups.” The fabrication of five of the pups in 1956 would not have met generally accepted industry quality control and welding standards then in effect, indicating that those standards were either overlooked or ignored. The weld defect in the failed pup would have been visible when it was installed.

... the emergency response by the city of San Bruno was prompt and appropriate. However, PG&E took 95 minutes to stop the flow of gas and to isolate the rupture site—a response time that was excessively long and contributed to the extent and severity of property damage and increased the life-threatening risks to the residents and emergency responders.

Several deficiencies revealed by the National Transportation Safety Board investigation ... were factors in the 2008 explosion of a PG&E gas pipeline in Rancho Cordova, California [and] ... were also factors in the 1981 PG&E gas pipeline leak in San Francisco. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that PG&E’s multiple, recurring deficiencies are evidence of a systemic problem.

Why doesn't he just say 'Long live small government [and corporations] - now shaddup and bury your dead'.

S - Bad welds are a notorious and well known potential problems with all pipelines. But the line was in service for over 55 years before the welds failed? Sounds more like the p/l had just reached it's reasonable life span. And that may be the bigger story TPTB don't want to talk about: the beginning a multiple failures of our aging infrastructure. Better to blaim it on a welder doing a bad job half a century ago then admit the truth: much of our infrastrucure is reaching the end of its practical life and will take $trillions that we don't have to replace it.

Yes, that is the real story, and it is not confined to one particular area of infrastructure. It's pretty much endemic to all types. The power grid is the one I know the most about, and every time I read about how the Smart Grid (tm) is going to allow us to get more out of our existing grid, I just think about how old the stuff is.

We could never afford to build the major infrastructure pieces that support our society now, and we cannot even afford to maintain it, and it's just so darn old.

We could never afford to build the major infrastructure pieces that support our society now, and we cannot even afford to maintain it, and it's just so darn old.

You sound like Joseph Tainter...

The purpose of a smart grid seems to me to be to keep down peak demand so that society can get along with the grid we have indefinitely. The parts are way too old. Quite a bit of it needs replacing. Adding all of the "Smart" controls adds another layer of complexity to what we have--sounds a lot like what Tainter is talking about. Responsibility for the grid is divided among too many entities. Companies are mostly interested in keeping costs down, not keeping the grid up.

Quite true. Even at the local level - power companies used to come out and trim trees to help prevent lines from being knocked down. But when they cut their budgets, they cut back tree trimming, which means more frequent outages.

Really the power company doesn't see most of the costs of an outage. If the power is out for long enough, a restaurant will have to discard the food in the freezers, but the power company doesn't see that cost. The only cost to the power company is that they sell a few less kWh.

Well that can be easily managed do as they do in Holland make them give a refund if the outage is over a certain no of hours that will quickly get there attention.

The smart grid is not actually a thing, it seems to mean something different to everyone that uses the term. A lot of people working on it think they are smoothing out the peaks and valleys so as to improve reliability. However, if you did that any sharp manager would quickly spot the unused extra capacity, and recognizing it as waste would want to sell it so as to make free money. Totally missing of course that the unused capacity was not actually doing nothing, it was keeping the system from experiencing catastrophic failure at the first problem. You cannot run any complex system at maximum capacity all the time.

In general I think the smart grid idea is to avoid a larger cost of actually increasing capacity by building new generation and distribution by investing a smaller sum in control systems for the grid we have. I think people woefully underestimate the cost of that control system, and overestimate what it will accomplish. Sumpin' for nuttin' again.

You cannot run any complex system at maximum capacity all the time.

You'd think that any so called sharp manager would understand something as simple as that, no?

No. Most managers of that type I've known believe strongly in something for nothing, and that they're the only ones bright enough to see the way to get there. If you point out any possible flaws in their plans you're labeled as negative and lectured on your attitude.

FMagyar, your comment leads me to think you either are a manager or are very happy with management that you have worked for or never have worked.

For me, a week rarely passes without a memorable managerial comment. Let me think of my last one. Oh, now I remember a discussion about a worse case scenario. Manager and I were discussing alternate ways of accomplishing a goal. In such discussions, I'll normally point out best case, likely case, worse case scenarios. Manager was set on a way with an obviously more impactful worse case scenario. My eyes rolled when manager stated, "What is likelihood of that worse case scenario happening?"

Personally the 'smart grid' might just end up being people purchasing and owning
1. home generation system (any combination of PV, wind turbine, fuel powered generator, batteries, etc.), and
2. a 'smart grid-tie' converter that has failover circuitry.

In the event the grid failed, the converter would disconnect itself from the grid, and continue to provide house-generated power while the grid is down.

At least, it might be a 'smart' thing for homeowners and small businesses to do, if they can afford it ;)

Nice call, Rockman. I'm with you.
And fifty years ago craftsmen didn't need government "standards" because there was still in existence a culture of craftsmanship and "doing it right" that didn't depend upon a government babysitter watching over everything.

Hey, that's what happens when you develop a culture of greed, getting by with the least work possible, cutting corners, something-for-nothing, the-only-measure-of-anything-is-money, ad nauseam, and let it run for half a century.

So, how does anyone propose to regain a culture of craftsmanship?

Have every work judged by a QC team. Reward those with a spotless record. Thats for motives. It is much about pride. A proud welder never leave a weld before he would be ready to stamphis insignia into it. Then thhere are those who are just in it for the money. They are often bad apples. I have seen them alot. And worked with them too.

I have an axe at home. Made by what I judge as the best axe maker in Europe. None of that quality is made in the US, not on axes. Hand crafted. There are the initials "MM" stamped into the axe head. I got a booklet with photographs of all their blacksmiths. I know what the guy looks like. I can tell you, I wouldn't let anything out of my hand I didn't deem quality stright through, if I had to stand up for my work like that.

So, how does anyone propose to regain a culture of craftsmanship?

By contracting work out to individuals and small firms and holding them accountable. "Dedication to craft" is alive and well in the entrepreneurial, small business world in Seattle. And I've seen plenty of evidence that it is alive in larger corporations as well, like McKinstry.

When it comes to public infrastructure, I think one of the keys is for governments to write contracts with firms that "design, build, operate and maintain" over long periods of time. At a minimum, extended warranties should be required for any work done. (It has always amazed me that cars come with much longer warranties than new condominiums.)

Best Hopes for Craftsmanship!


Jonathan - Yep...not difficult or expensive. We give a safety award to every drill crew that works for us if they don't have a lost time accident while on our well. Not required but my policy. Usually around 3 to 4 days pay. The drilling contractor I have on a current well has 5 rigs. Each year the rig with the best safety record gets to participate in a drawing for a brand new $30,000 pick up. All the hands on that one rig have the names put in a hard hat and the winner gets the truck. You want to get a red neck's attention: show him a picture of big shiny pick up. LOL. I've seen one chew out another for being unsafe.

Hi, Rockman--My name is Mike, and I've been a member of this site for over a year now, basically dating back to early on in the Deepwater Horizon disaster (a career-changing event for me). I very quickly came to respect your opinions, and since you're a career oil man, I have a few questions for you (I'm in the doctorate stage of becoming an ocean engineer). Since your e-mail address isn't in your profile, would you please e-mail me (mjwsutherland@gmail.com)? The topics I'm interested in are outside the scope of this thread and I don't want to waste space here (to preserve the signal-to-noise ratio, of course!).

And fifty years ago craftsmen didn't need government "standards" because there was still in existence a culture of craftsmanship and "doing it right" that didn't depend upon a government babysitter watching over everything.

Was this pipeline weld (that's been working fine for 50+ years) done by "a craftsman"?

... Better to blaim it on a welder doing a bad job half a century ago then admit the truth: much of our infrastrucure is reaching the end of its practical life and will take $trillions that we don't have to replace it.

That's the truth of it.

Couple that with the retirement of 'institutional knowledge' and you end up with a ticking time bomb.

Very reasonable point, ROCK.

I would suggest anyway that our attention needs to be on why Rand Paul and the ideology he's trying to promote is getting such a pass from the country, as we do need to keep the Quality Control standards from slipping as our bridges return to dust..

It has nothing to do with quality control standards. It has to do with a nation that does not have the energy surplus needed even to maintain the infrastructure we built when we did. To focus on the details of the weld quality of one pipe or another is to be lost in the minutia.

Rand is simply self promoting like other politicians, his actions are largely irrelevant. There are always those taking advantage of situations, but they are not what's driving things from a big-picture view.

The weld may be minutia, but the focus of the report was not just about infrastructure; it was about a industral culture of overlooking or ignoring existing regulations - something Rand wan't to dismantle.

Rand's casual discarding of safety regulations uses the logic that two wrongs make a right.

The fact that society doesn't have the capital to maintain this infrastructure simply reiterates the fact that we will not be able to maintain civilization's current level of complexity as time moves forward.

it was about a industral culture of overlooking or ignoring existing regulations - something Rand wan't to dismantle.
Rand's casual discarding of safety regulations uses the logic that two wrongs make a right.

How about looking at the problem with these lenses - Why add new regulations if the old ones are not being followed?

What will be gained with a new layer of rules?

My April, 2011 essay:

Will We Be Able to Maintain & Replace Our Energy & Transportation Infrastructure in a Post-Peak Oil World?

If we apply “Triage Rules” to infrastructure, we need to focus dwindling resources on areas that can be rehabilitated.

Of course, at least for the time being, the probability of a serious discussion, let alone implementation, of an infrastructure triage plan is somewhere between negligible and none.

In my town we are replacing sidewalks on a 70 year basis even though the life expectancy was only 50 years. Tried to make the point that we had three choices (a) live with sidewalks that will be in a perpetual state of disrepair (b) increase taxes to pay for them to be replaced within their life expectancy (c) shrink the foot print of sidewalks e.g. why do we need them on both sides of a dead end street. Needless to say people thought that the tooth fairy would allow us to have more sidewalks in better condition without increasing taxes.

When I was in Calgary, they ripped up the streets in my neighborhood and replaced the water and sewer lines, and then they lifted the sidewalks and replaced the natural gas lines under them. They also tore down most of the nearby bridges to the foundations and rebuilt them. They had to rebuild bridges at least every 50 years.

You have to do this kind of thing every so often because nothing lasts forever.

The sidewalks, though, were doing rather well despite being 70-odd years old. One of the city workers pointed to one dated "1935" and said, "It's amazing how long they last, this one is still in good shape". They just replaced a few cracked slabs.

I think they should not only have sidewalks on both sides of the street, they should make them wider so people can stroll side-by-side down them - e.g. 5 feet wide.

However, I wish they'd make most streets narrower. They have to be repaved every 15-20 years, which is expensive, and if they are too wide, people drive too fast. If you have a 24-foot wide street with two lanes of parking and only one bi-directional driving lane, it really slows the cars down, which makes the kids and pedestrians safer, and it costs a lot less to maintain.

Most radical concept I've seen - a WW2 era neighborhood with no streets in front of the houses, just sidewalks and cross streets. I think this was some kind of planning accident, but it was very popular with the residents.

When I moved to Venezuela (and when people visit from afar) a big adjustment was getting in the habit of always being aware of my footing. From what I understand there is no municipal budget allocation for sidewalk maintenance. The sidewalks are not continuous here, and tree roots and home/business "improvements" have broken up much of what there was. After a while you learn to step around puddles and over lumps of all sizes. It's really not that big a deal as long as you are aware (and are not too elderly)

The thing is, even when there is no sidewalk, lots of people walk. The cost of car ownership and maintenance is just too high for many people, and you can get by without 'cause the cities are dense and a high percentage of the population uses the bus. As long as there is some space to get by on and sort of hard surface keeping down the mud/dust walking without a sidewalk really isn't a big deal. I would put forward that storm drains and roads of some sort for garbage pick up and large item delivery are much more important.

After a while you learn to step around puddles and over lumps of all sizes. It's really not that big a deal as long as you are aware (and are not too elderly)

That might work in a warm climate area, but in cold country with the need for snow removal to permit any passage of pedestrian traffic it is necessary to have a smooth surface to remove the snow from.

Do you live in a city with a Metro ? Does it have much impact ?

New Orleans sidewalks are similar BTW, they are the responsibility of the homeowners.


When I lived in Caracas the metro was hugely important. When there was traffic (6AM to 8PM) I could get pretty much anywhere I needed to go 2 times faster and 40 times cheaper than by taxi, and I felt safe when in the metro. I seem to remember that it provides 1.5 million one-way trips per day. Certainly the two times that it was not functioning (a brake failure leading to a crash and a city-wide blackout) the streams of people who walked home from downtown really impressed me.

The metro cable (like a closed-in ski lift) was a really great idea but I don't think it worked out so well. They installed it in a small barrio with no where near the population level or size of the larger barrios, and they only put stops along the ridge-line of the hill even though most of the houses are on the hill side. Now people are scared to use it because they are convinced that the people living in the barrio shoot at the cars. (I think thatś mostly prejudice, but I might be an optimist)

Where I live now, Valencia, the metro is a farce and a cash drain. It has been in construction for decades and only has a handful of stops, I suspect there might be an equal number of riders and employees. The city's main avenue zig zags like a snake around semi-abandoned metro construction sites (its been so long that there are trees growing).

I think that the main difference (other than density and population) is that Valencia is a corporate town while Caracas is the seat of government. With Firestone avenue, Michelin street, and Chamber of Commerce station I don't get the feeling that anyone is really looking out for the public interest, people are more important as consumers than voters. There is much more interest in wider roads, high tech stop-lights etc. In Caracas there seems to be much more attention paid to the transport needs of the average citizen.

There are now nine cable cars in operation or planned for Caracas. Most have a single hill-top stop.


Elsewhere in South America, I see cable cars feeding Metros. Do you think that they are generally practical ?

Lima finally finished their Metro 22 years after starting - but they are well along Phase 1 of Line 2 already. They appear serious about building 5 lines as fast as they can afford them.

Likewise, Hugo Chavez appear serious about building Metros. I see several more (4 ?) stations due to open this year in Valencia and many more in planning.

Could it expand into something useful ?

Or is the culture with 12 cents/gallon gasoline such that even superb public transportation will not catch on for anyone that can afford a car ?

Best Hopes for More, and Well Used, Metros,


PS: Given the massive subsidies for motor fuel consumption in Venezuela, massive subsidies for Metros (running largely off hydroelectric power) make economic sense.

And political sense, as completions appear to be timed with Presidential elections.

I think the metro cable idea is great. When you are in Caracas you see these steep hillsides crowded with cheek to jowl houses - in some places the people climb stairs to get around. Having cable cars that feed into the metro will help people get to work without being sweaty, help little old ladies grocery shop etc. In a lot of cases we're not talking about substituting public transport for private vehicles, we're talking about bringing in affordable basic services. Hopefully it will help make the barrios close to the city decent livable neighborhoods so that people won't feel the need to move to the outlying suburbs as soon as they have the money.

BUT the planning and execution of the projects will be a big influence on how well it will work. The one in San Augustin, nearby where I lived passed over most houses on the hillside and landed on the ridge top where there is road access and fewer people. Lots of people still go up and down the access stairs on foot.

AS for the 4 new stations in Valencia? As I mentioned in the previous post there are trees growing up in the construction site. The local news says that when they resume construction the budget will be 10x what they had previously thought. I will believe in the Valencia metro when I see construction workers on-site.

I suspect that the unavailability of cars and car parts, their high price, the mind boggling potholes, the gridlocked traffic, and the comparative scarcity of parking tends to counter cheap gasoline prices. (Plus long lines at the few gas pumps open on any given day and corrupt traffic police)

One example: When my coworkers went to Puerto Rico they said that felt alienated because all the locals drove, and there was no decent bus service.

Another example: on Sunday I will be going to a meeting in a city 1 hr away. I will be sharing a taxi, taking the inter city bus, then sharing another taxi to get there. My colleague has a car, but prefers to pay the extra costs to avoid driving it.

When I was in Calgary, they ripped up the streets in my neighborhood and replaced the water and sewer lines, and then they lifted the sidewalks and replaced the natural gas lines under them. They also tore down most of the nearby bridges to the foundations and rebuilt them. They had to rebuild bridges at least every 50 years.

You have to do this kind of thing every so often because nothing lasts forever.

Well, there are bridges that were built during the Roman Empire days that are still in use and in good condition today. The real problem is that we don't design and build things to last a LONG time. And with all the modern technology and computer design aids, we should be able to design and build things today that will last even better then those built thousands of years ago?

Well, the main problemis we don't wanna go that road. Build a bridge using stones,caresfully placd one by one by skilled builders, and the bridge lasts for milennia. But it will take TIME to do that, and the bridge wont be big enough for 25.25 meter sized trucks to meet in for lanes.

The Roman bridges and roads are quite remarkable. They seemed to have built them on the assumption that the Roman Empire would last forever.

However, I have been told that one of the reasons the Roman bridges last so long was that the Romans invented concrete, but didn't realize how strong it was. They built concrete bridges using the same designs as for brick bridges, and ended up with massively over-built structures.

By comparison, typical highways and bridges in the US seem to be designed for a life of well under 100 years. It's really the heavy trucks that break them down, which is not a problem that the Romans had.

By comparison, typical highways and bridges in the US seem to be designed for a life of well under 100 years. It's really the heavy trucks that break them down, which is not a problem that the Romans had.

From up top:

Gas Tax Should Be Mile Fee as Cars Evolve

Boosting the federal gasoline tax above its current 18 cents a gallon would be a short-term fix at best, failing to address the shrinking tax base. The only way to raise adequate revenue and charge all users fairly is to restructure the road tax so it is based on miles driven, rather than fuel burned.

The only way to charge all users fairly is to tax not miles but the product of axle load to the fourth power, number of axles, and miles.

Almost all damage to roads is done by vehicles with large axle loads, and such vehicles -- mainly heavy trucks -- have never paid their fair share for using public roads. They have always been heavily subsidized by drivers of light vehicles which not only do 0.01% as much damage per axle but have fewer axles. They also use up less of the road, and so contribute less to congestion.

Almost all damage to roads is done by vehicles with large axle loads, and such vehicles -- mainly heavy trucks -- have never paid their fair share for using public roads. They have always been heavily subsidized by drivers of light vehicles which not only do 0.01% as much damage per axle but have fewer axles.

Yup. And that subsidization in turn allowed giant box stores selling really cheap goods to pop up all over the landscape. Access to really cheap goods at places like Walmart has been allowing many people to hang on, just. If you make a step change to correct that now, what happens?

The only way to charge all users fairly is to tax not miles but the product of axle load to the fourth power, number of axles, and miles.

Well, they already have just such a system in New Zealand. Diesel is not taxed as a fuel, but diesel vehicles must pay Road User Charges, which are based on vehicle weight rating, axle/tyre configuration, and miles driven.

It encourages heavy trucks to have more axles (e.g. tri-axle trailers instead of twin), and it decouples the road tax from fuel consumption.

For a normal car, e.g.a diesel PU, it works out to about US$58/1000 miles, and for a heavy truck, about ten times that. Given that heavy trucks us about five times the fuel/mile of cars, you can see their tax burden has doubled.

All the details are here, just get your State to do a search and replace to put their name in there instead of NZ, and you are done!


The US does this as well, just not on a federal level. States often tax trucks extra by weight, and some charge mileage taxes. There are different methods of enforcement, but I believe the most common is a GPS device that tracks the vehicle.

Well, there was Hannibal with his elephants that the Romans had to deal with, but yes, I get your point :-).

If a weld breaks after 55 years of continuous service, I'd say the welder is not to blame. There should have been a QC team following the welder in his tracks. We all make bad welds occationally. Can be something so small as undetectable to the welder in the process. Just a tiny bit of fluss, or copper, in the melt pool, and bam, you got a bad weld. The welder can not detect such an error, not all of them. If there was no QC, the welder is not to be blamed. If there was and they slipped, the same. I agree with ROCK; this was an old weld, not a bad one. Welding is as such a destructive process. There are more of these seams in the pipe (pun intended).

Some time ago I heard that a weld is just a casting made in the worst possible circumstances.

That certainly applies to any welding I ever did.

Not far from the truth. When you weld you have the melt zone where the original steel mix with added steel from the welding machine. On a pipe it is typically a coated welding electrode, technically called a "stick" by us in the field :c) But outside that melted zone, you have the HAZ, Heat Affected Zone. In the entire HAZ, the original steel may still be in place, but is affected and degraded. No matter how well performed the weld, there is always matter degradation and the weld do destroy the steel.

Plastic pipe. It's not just "old" pipelines that can cause problems.
A friend owned a house with plastic water pipes which were found to be prone to failure. Thousands in repair bills.
Natural gas pipe too....

"The type of plastic pipe that caused a natural gas explosion and fire in a Cupertino condominium last month has long been considered a potential threat to the public, but federal pipeline regulators have allowed companies to keep it in the ground and secretly gather limited information about its failings, a Chronicle investigation shows."

Story here:

The more recently built Keystone pipeline was reportedly built with defective steel. It has already undergone numerous repairs and shutdowns. Government regulation is a joke but that doesn't matter anymore.

Does the Keystone Pipeline Contain Defective Steel?

As the report describes, during a pipeline building boom in 2007-2009, a number of pipe manufacturers produced pipe that was too weak and failed to meet federal safety standards.

reportedly built with defective steel.

And exactly how is that a welders fault?

If the steel was tested and shipped in violation of the contract - how are NEW laws gonna somehow do better than existing contract law?


The contract certainly specified "pipe to meet ASTM A-XXX" whatever the exact standard was. The vendor is required to provide a certification that it does meet that standard. If the vendors says yes it does, but it doesn't then you have fraud.

Fraud is covered just fine under existing law; no need for more laws.

Re: Report Says Vehicle Fuel Should Be the Priority, Not Electricity

Nice stealth admission of peak oil in a government report. And nice solution too . . . you cut off the blurb before the important sentence:

And in the quest to replace oil, work on electric vehicles should be prioritized over alternative fuels, the study said.

Electric transport, both electric mass transit and electric vehicles, can do a lot to reduce our reliance on a very expensive and 2/3s imported input to our economy. If we can reduce the amount we spend on expensive imported oil and replace it with cheaper domestic electricity, that will help our economy.

The report does not mention electric mass transit, only EVs. EVs are an old technology that failed long ago. So the idea is to try them again to replace our oil powered automobiles, which rely on roads, bridges and pipeline infrastructure that is old and failing and which we cannot afford to maintain. But EVs will then add much more burden on our electric grid which is also old and failing - an infrastructure that at least our present vehicles do not tax.

And the article trots out the nonsense about how EVs and batteries are improving. The reason EVs failed in the marketplace has nothing to do with batteries and is inherent to the concept. It is simple: T

The equation for electrical energy is V * I * T. There are limits as to how much you can increase V or I before you run into conversion losses, increased materials costs, and safety issues. The total amount of energy required is large. Therefore you are stuck with a large value for T, which is of course Time. And that's if you have a perfect ideal battery - real battery limitations will only make the situation worse. With fossil fuels any issues with time are moot because the energy was stored in the material long ago. EVs cannot replace liquid fueled automobiles in anything like the way we depend on them now, which is obvious to anyone who looks at it seriously with a basic science background.

Electric trains do not have such issues because they do not need to transport a material with energy stored in it.

EV's didn't 'fail', they were pushed. Pushed under by cheap gas. They work, and can be made so basic that they will work for extreme numbers of miles. (Not per charge, of course.. but we do ALL know that already, right?)

The simplicity of them has been getting noticed again gradually, as the Polyethylene Fleece is being removed from our eyes.

We may not continue to have the Interstate Highway system as we know it today, but there will still be roads, and there will be powered 'carts' of some sort that we'll move on top of them. I think trains will regain a new hayday, and I'm excited to see it, but we'll still have plenty of places for other wheels. Making it 'either/or' is a false choice.

"EVs cannot replace liquid fueled automobiles in anything like the way we depend on them now.."

Agreed. But that doesn't mean they won't be needed.. battery limitations are there, but are not so extreme that electric vehicles are useless. FAR from it.

Pushing your argument on a 'Can't Continue BAU' theme is essentially disingenuous at this site. Who here that promotes EV's is really making that claim? Sorry. It's a Straw Man.

No, it is you who are building a straw man, as I never said that there would not be EVs in some capacity, nor was that the point of the article I was discussing.

And in the quest to replace oil, work on electric vehicles should be prioritized over alternative fuels, the study said

They want to REPLACE oil with EVs, that's what the article is about.

Building up an electric rail system would be a great idea, and we probably could do it too. Maybe we will. But that is NOT what the article was about, nor is it happening in any significant way. So if if's and and's were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers.

Gasoline and diesel powered transportation is not optional in our present society, it's what we've spent most of the last century building. It is required for the functioning of our society and there is no replacement being seriously contemplated let alone built. Therefore a replacement transportation system and energy source is REQUIRED to be more-or-less a one-for-one replacement, as there is no alternative.

You can believe that the EV was killed by a conspiracy, but the reality is physics. My point, which you ignored, is that if every fuel fill up on every vehicle required a significant time delay then it doesn't work the way we need it to, and it won't either. Electric rail would work, but we are not building yet, and it was not mentioned in the article.

They said 'Prioritize'.. it's not really the same thing as 'Replace the Fleet'.

This One-for-one replacement is absolutely NOT the only option. There are a pile of other pieces to the transportation puzzle, including having more passengers/vehicle, driving less, rooting out redundant freight traffic (ie, sourcing your products, parts, processes- back and forth across the world), walking to work, Elect. Rail, etc.. the whole question is one of applying numerous changes across many facets of this problem.

Conspiracy? I said "Cheap Gas" pushed EV's out of favor .. that would be an unfortunate bit of timing for early EV's.. though I do think there were some pretty cheap shots that came into the game as well.. but I was pointing to the energy advantage of Gasoline's quick fix. Sorry if 'Push' carried the suggestion of a premeditated act, but it was 'pushed out', a temporary fail given the irresistable charms of a faster, but much dirtier fuel..

Charging does require time.. and what do most of our vehicles do most of the time? They sit parked. I think you overstate that as a deal-killer. But again, you are insisting on 'every fill-up of every vehicle' .. it's easy to force a 'fail' when you keep presuming such extremes.. I didn't hear that kinds of Hyperbole from that article, and even if I did, I'm willing to take the parts of such an argument that do work, and try to weed out or leave the rest aside.

My points were twofold:

1. EVs depend on more aging infrastructure than the existing liquid fuels vehicles.

2. The entire way people use personal automobiles now will not work when EVERY "refuel" of EVERY EV extracts a significant time penalty. This time penalty is a simple truth, but you've ignored it and tried to say that I'm implying an assumption that EVs would be replacing every vehicle. If the EVs do not penetrate far enough into the gasoline and diesel vehicle population that the time penalty is a problem, then they also won't make an important impact. Which is it - do they matter or don't they?

It may well be that a Tesla roadster or a Leaf or a golf cart (about the only EV choices now) will work well for you. So what - it's not about what will work for a few, it's about what will replace the fundamental essential transportation system in aggregate for the society as a whole. Will EV's work in that role? I do not think so, not just for the two reasons above, but also because the vehicles themselves are a major infrastructure we cannot afford to replace - to a great enough extent that they would matter. And also because they don't exist and there won't be time to develop and deploy them, especially while the economy tanks.

Last, consider that EVs failed at a time when the gasoline infrastructure was not complete, when people and the society as a whole were not so dependent on the automobile, and when there were plenty of mass transport systems in place. They didn't do the things people WANTED to do with cars and trucks, and now those things have become what people NEED to do with cars and trucks because there are no longer other options. Of course, people will not need to go to jobs that don't exist, so maybe it's all OK after all.

I'm sorry I interrupted the happy talk and hand waving festival with bad news, I know it's un-American not to be optimistic.

1. EVs depend on more aging infrastructure than the existing liquid fuels vehicles.

If you want to go doomer scenarios, I'd say the PV->inverter array->EV infrastructure
is much more reliable than the
tar sands->tar sand processing->pipeline to refinery->refinery->storage->shipping by truck->underground tank->electricity powered pump->ICE car


Your reliance on what happened in 1910 as being similar to 2011 is a bit comical. You need to look at the situation as it is exists today and will be in the future. Right now gas cars are better/cheaper. But if peak oil hits hard, EVs will provide a tolerable alternative. Granted, many people would rather have a V8 and 50cent/gallon gas . . . but if the choice is $10/gallon gas or an EV that costs pennies per mile drive, the EV will be quite popular.

You need to look at the situation as it is exists today and will be in the future.

Yes, I agree, which was kind of central to what I've been saying. The "PV->inverter array->EV infrastructure" does not exist and is not being built, nor does the entire EV fantasy you're dreaming will be a workable solution.

Also, one must look at the situation as it is exists today and will be in the future in regard to the economy - who will pay for all this stuff, again in a big enough way to matter?

I am not an advocate for the ICE automobile at all, but I'm tired of people running around pretending the EV is going to keep the car culture rolling, simply on the assumption that because they want it to it will work.

When you come back in with another concluding line like "Pretending the EV is going to Keep the car culture rolling", I know you're not really interested in having a useful discussion.

I've said over and over (We've both been here for years now.. right?) that things are going to have to change radically on most fronts.. that we're not going to continue 'Happy Motoring' as we've known it, that there are no BBs. But I've also said that we are still going to have roads, and we'll still need help pushing loads around on them on wheeled devices. Electric Vehicles are solid tools that work, and they will be a significant part of this mix. (Oh, after Golf Carts, you forgot to add Scooters, Ebikes and E-motorbikes.. they count, too)

Ok.. done spinning my wheels on this one..

This discussion began as commentary on an NYT propaganda piece that proposed we are not investing enough in transportation, then stated

And in the quest to replace oil, work on electric vehicles should be prioritized over alternative fuels, the study said.

First of all, you cannot "replace oil" - pretending we can remain substantially the same only with different energy sources and slightly different cars is absurd. It's becoming clearer to more people that the alternative fuels thing is not going to work, so now, rather than focusing on things that could at least be very useful (i.e. electric light rail and many other more modest things) during our transition phase to lower energy use, they hold out the old EV. The intent of this article is clearly to promote the idea that the car culture will continue, that nothing serious is happening and everything will be OK.

EVs will not be able to replace the ICE powered automobile, which is what was being promoted in the article, and my initial comment was to point out some reasons why. You may regard them as a silver BB, but the attempt to implement them and build the infrastructure to support them will be a catastrophic waste of precious resources and they will not achieve what they are being promoted for.

EV's may not achieve what 'some' are promoting them for, but they can achieve a good amount, nonetheless. It doesn't matter that they won't be able to fill up our highways again, they are actually powerful tools for moving things, for maintaining some working vehicles in any community that chooses to keep some roads or streets going, that can be powered in multiple, local and non-CO2 emitting ways. Railways and Bikes won't be filling all our needs.

The article really says nothing about the extent it proposes any of these directions, or its assumptions about how far EV's are supposed to go in saturating the Auto Regime.. Yes, it's the Times and the DOE. We KNOW that they are not out there with a "The End is Near" sandwich board on the streetcorner. But that doesn't mean that we can't springboard a useful tool out of their misapprehensions. I think they are right in saying that EV's are better than building more ICE vehicles.. I just have somewhat different endpoints in mind than they do.. big surprise that.

"And in the quest to replace oil, work on electric vehicles should be prioritized over alternative fuels, the study said."

They quote the DOE study, which encourages an emphasis on EV's.. that's all they really say. (And basically contradict their title in doing so, but that's what you get trying to consolidate a multi-tiered report into a quick Blog-article) And since we both seem to agree that liquid fuels are particularly doomed, I would agree with them. But I don't see anyone actually saying "we can remain substantially the same" ... that's the inherent assumption you place on this piece. If they're heading in some of the right directions, but for the wrong reasons, I'm not going to try to stop them and turn them around.

As Ever, it's not EITHER/OR between E-rail and EV's.. there are jobs for both, and the assumptions have to be understood.


Today, the social priority today is 100% EVs and 0% E-rail.

A simple example. IEEE (the society of electrical engineers) ran an article about the "Electrification of Transportation". 100% EVs (not even eBikes) and 0% eRail of any type.

Again and again.


I recognize that it's pretty close to that for many.. but I'm not going to replace one extreme position for another.

'Somewhere in between lies the truth..'


PS, I videotaped our Mayoral candidate the other day, to improve his online campaign for Streetcars in Portland (ME), and he has a map he's painted, he's a fine-arts painter by trade, of the State of Maine with details of the Interurban train systems that used to run throughout the state. I don't know how good his odds are, but it's not 0%. He also just got endorsed by the League for Young Voters.

I'm pro-EV for a reason having little to do with feasibility of EV. The reason is the advancement of technology. The advancements will not be 100% thrown away if EV follows the path of the Edsel. For example, I've read a little about the electronics/software used to maximize the life of the battery in the Nissan leaf. New products such as an EV lead to new technologies that will find usefulness elsewhere. I question if it is possible to know the best path forward to solve the problem with a limited supply of petroleum. I support all endeavors to forge a path with realization ancillary technologies developed will help other endeavors.

Look to the Volt for techniques on maximizing the life of the battery. GM is being quite conservative and cautious on how they use the Volt battery. They don't fill it completely up and they don't let it drain down very low. Many say they could get several more all-electric miles if they modified their code but they concerned with making sure the battery lasts the life of the car. They also have a fancy thermal management system for their battery.

I suspect the Leaf is much more likely to start experiencing battery problems between the two but I don't know if that is because the Volt is over-engineered or the Leaf is under-engineered.

A minor point.

An solar PV array, set at the right band of DC voltages, could charge an EV battery directly.

No inverter to AC and then back to DC (built into plug-in EV) required. More efficient and cheaper.

Perhaps an option for Nissan to offer, your "Leaf Panels" ?

Best Hopes for Elegant Simplicity,


That definitely would be more efficient. But I don't know if it would be worth the hassle.

And I don't if it would be cheaper. What would those panels being doing when not charging the Leaf? . . . nothing? Better to have them connected to a grid-tie system and have someone use the power they generate.

I think EVs should eventually all have solar panel if just for the trickle opportunity charging. But right now, EVs are extremely expensive as is that anything that adds more cost should be avoided.

Maybe using the batteries on the LEAF or VOLT for battery backup of a grid tied solar voltaic system would be useful in changing the economics. If you could consider EV + Solar as compliments then how does the typical cost change if you use both together? I heard the Leaf has the battery capacity to power the average Australian home for a day, so even in the winter on a cloudy day you could probably keep the lights on for days on end without too much trouble.

And don't forget the high efficiency that MPPT technology provides. You would probably still be ahead of the game by grid tieing the panels. And a high efficiency switching charger.

DC to DC converters are not all that cheap, and not that much more efficient. Furthermore the batteries need a particular charge profile for best life. Direct PV is not going to be efficient at all if you are trying to maintain that voltage/current profile. The big thing in PV right now is a power-maximizing inverter for each panel because a panel has it's own voltage/current curve for peak efficiency. I'd wager a substantial confectionary that the charging profile of an EV battery looks nothing like the power profile of a PV array.

Another question that pops into my head is how many household type arrays are rated for 250V DC? The Prius battery is about 210 V, so I'm assuming that is the sort of voltages you need.

What might be interesting would be to use 400 Hz power like aircraft do, or did at least. It saved weight in motors and such, but that was in the old days before modern power electronics. I don't know if they still do it that way. for all know 400 Hz power went the way of the CRT.

20kHz-200kHz seems to be the sweet spot for conversion these days. Match the response of cheap ferrites and power semiconductors. I suspect aircraft still have a lot of legacy 400Hz though, shocks from that hurt like h*ll.


Re: the "conspiracy" and what happened to early EVs: you guys might find Internal Combustion by Edwin Black quite interesting.

People move around too much anyway. Whatever happened to just staying and working closer to home? I've gotten to where I'd rather stay around the crib, only go out when really necessary. A small EV with a 60-80 mile range would work fine for our family.

In anticipation of the Long Emergency, we're making our final move next week, back closer to family and to a town that's much more walkable/bikeable.

As part of this move, we bought a Miles electric vehicle on eBay for $5000 a few months ago (normal price: $19000). The university we bought it from was using it as a campus police vehicle, but once the student population found out that its maximum speed is 38mph, too many students would just out-run the police during pursuits, haha! Thus, it only had 200 miles on it at the time of purchase.


It has a 50 mile range - absolutely perfect for getting around town. That's all we needed.

Very Cool. Good luck with it.

I just saw a Scooter on Freecycle this afternoon, Looking for an E-scooter donor Vehicle.. but I don't think I got it.

I'm lobbying my wife that we get back down to one car once the Subaru kicks it, and then have an electric Scooter and maybe an Ebike or Velo as our extra wheels for Town stuff.

Hello Jokuhl,

If you are living in Portland (Munjoy Hill?) maybe one of the car sharing outfits would be useful for you. U-Car-Share keeps two vehicles on Elm Street by the Public Library, and another down by the ferry terminal.

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll keep my eye out for them. (I'm on the West End...)

How did your presentation go last weekend?


Hello Bob,

If you are in the West End of Portland, the nearest U-Car-Share vehicle would be the Honda Civic hybrid that lives at 645 Congress Street.

My Demotorization show last Saturday went well. There were far fewer people than I had hoped, but I did the show three times for a total audience of about 12 people and it seemed to be well received.

I’ll be doing the show again on Oct. 27 for the transportation committee of the Sustain Mid-Maine group in Waterville, and I may get to do it on Oct. 21 for the fifth Pecha Kucha night in Waterville.

Lots of news recently about deteriorating highway infrastructure in the Montreal area (bridges, tunnels, elevated highways, etc.) including two of the big highway bridges that cross the St. Lawrence River, along with plans for electrifying three existing commuter rail lines. All in the French language newspaper La Presse. http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/regional/montreal/

There are also plans to replace several of the busiest city bus routes with new electric trolley-bus systems that will operate as bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. These will use dedicated traffic lanes, signal priority at intersections, and “pay before boarding” at the busier stops. The bus operator has apparently already stopped buying hybrid busses.

The Quebec provincial government apparently wants to make better use of its’ relatively cheap and plentiful electricity at home, rather than rely on selling it to the northeast USA.

Edit: Construction has apparently already started on the first trolleybus route, on St. Pie IX Boulevard.

The report does not mention electric mass transit, only EVs.

The report does mention expanded public transport. But that is a job for the Dept of Transportation, not the DoE.

Oil consumption by road vehicles can also be reduced through changes in miles driven, population densification,
urban planning, traffic management, expanded public transit, or telecommuting. There are also logistical
efficiencies to be reaped in heavy-duty vehicles. These strategies fall outside of DOE’s purview, and are not
addressed in the QTR, but clearly have technology components.

I mentioned electric public transport in my posting because I think it is important.

EVs are an old technology that failed long ago.

EVs did lose to gas-powered vehicles long ago and for good reasons. Gas was cheap and its high energy density allowed for long ranges. But things are changing. Battery technology has improved significantly in the last 20 years. It is still no where close to gasoline but it is good enough to build very useful EVs. And gasoline at $100/barrel is not as useful as gasoline that cost $20/barrel. EVs are close to competing effectively with gasoline cars and the cross-over point is not far away.

So the idea is to try them again to replace our oil powered automobiles, which rely on roads, bridges and pipeline infrastructure that is old and failing and which we cannot afford to maintain. But EVs will then add much more burden on our electric grid which is also old and failing - an infrastructure that at least our present vehicles do not tax.

Ah. Well if you are that much of a doomer then nothing can really be said to you. But I think we can do better than that.

EVs cannot replace liquid fueled automobiles in anything like the way we depend on them now, which is obvious to anyone who looks at it seriously with a basic science background.

You give no reasoning behind this assertion other than a loose allegation that "it won't work" which is contradicted by actual EVs on the road . . . so should I trust the anonymous Internet messageboard guy or the guy with the Nobel prize in physics. I think I'll go with Dr. Chu. And my own research. And the EVs I see driving around here every day now.

" 'EVs cannot replace liquid fueled automobiles in anything like the way we depend on them now, which is obvious to anyone who looks at it seriously with a basic science background.'

You give no reasoning behind this assertion other than a loose allegation that "it won't work" which is contradicted by actual EVs on the road . . . so should I trust the anonymous Internet messageboard guy or the guy with the Nobel prize in physics. I think I'll go with Dr. Chu. And my own research. And the EVs I see driving around here every day now."

I think people may be talking past each other, here.

I have owned an electric vehicle for over four years now, and I would agree with the essentials of what Twilight is saying--EV's just don't do all of the things that ICEV's do. In spite of having bought one, I don't see EV's as the great shining hope for the future. They can certainly help some people is some places do some things that would otherwise be very difficult. Lot's of what people in most urban settings use cars for could easily be done with an EV, and what isn't practical, people could rent an ICEV or hybrid to do. Of course, most urbanites could also do a lot of their travel by foot, bike, public transport, or carpooling, and this is the main direction we need to be heading.

But as Ghung (I think it was) said, we mostly try to go to to many places that are too far away and should figure out how to live the way nearly all of humanity through the past mostly learned to live mostly very local, yet mostly fulfilling, lives.

I think people may be talking past each other, here.

I have owned an electric vehicle for over four years now, and I would agree with the essentials of what Twilight is saying--EV's just don't do all of the things that ICEV's do. In spite of having bought one, I don't see EV's as the great shining hope for the future. They can certainly help some people is some places do some things that would otherwise be very difficult.

I agree and point taken. I fully agree that EVs are no panacea. There will be no Boeing 747 EVs. Long haul trucks will not be battery powered.

However, I do think that the vast majority of average commuters could get back & forth to work/school/store just fine with an EV and that would reduce an incredibly large amount of oil usage. Switching those light-duty vehicles to electric frees up a lot of oil for the heavy applications where it is needed more. And as my first post mentioned, electrified public transport is also very important.

" I do think that the vast majority of average commuters could get back & forth to work/school/store just fine with an EV and that would reduce an incredibly large amount of oil usage."

Leaf 2 would probably do it for me. The current Leaf would work if things are reasonable, but having to drive to and from work with the lights on and the wipers through slush and snow will push it too close to the edge. If they had a charger at work, that would also do it. Even a 120 V plug. 8 hours at 120 V would be enough, when combined with the left over charge from the morning to get me home even in the worst case conditions.

They did pretty well for the first try. Just need the extended range option with another battery in place of the back seats, which I do not need. And that would save 9 gallons of gas a week.

I'd still have the pickup for heavy hauling, really bad weather, and long trips. But that is about 3000 miles a year. Even if I doubled that to make up for the electric's short range I'd still be way ahead. 15,000 miles a year is just back and forth slogging to work.

And as much as the term has become one of complete disparagement for EV's, I think a lot of people could use (and share and carpool) with "Golf Carts", or vehicles of that basic size for local needs. Also as Delivery Carts, etc..

Leaf 1 is working fine for me. In 3 months I have put 3,000 miles on the Leaf. Only problem is I have to take the old ICE vehicle out once a month to keep the engine in good shape. I can replace about 80% of my total miles with EV miles. Does that mean I NEVER need an ICE vehicle? No, but an 80% decrease in gasoline usage is not bad.

Is "HourCar" or a similar service available in your neighborhood?

HourCar wouldn't be that useful to me, as the main reason I need my ICE vehicle is for a few long trips a year to the Sierra for backpacking or XC skiing. Sometimes I need to drive on dirt roads where I wouldn't want to take a vehicle I didn't own. Trips are usually 7-8 days and 500-600 miles round trip. Probably cheaper/easier to keep my old ICE vehicle, as the extra insurance isn't that much.

Or one can look at Skinner and the human/rat maze.


However, an interesting difference revealed itself when Skinner took away the cheese and the five dollar bill the next day, and allowed the same rats and humans to run through the maze. At the end of that second day, only seventy percent of the rats were still running through the maze, but all of the humans kept running. After three days, only thirty percent of the rats were still interested in the maze, but nearly all the humans were still going at it. After a week, none of the rats would go through the maze. However, the majority of the humans kept showing up.

After a month, there were still a number of human participants showing up to run the maze, with no five dollar bill having been there since the first day. According to the story, after Skinner stopped the experiment and dismantled the human maze that had been set up in the basement of his laboratory, some participants broke into the building in an attempt to get to the maze.

I don’t mean to draw any sweeping conclusions about All of Human Psychology or Existence from this description of one set of experiments. But the behavior of the humans was pretty striking. I think the Skinner experiments show us how easily our brains get attached to things, how quickly our brains make associations, and how our actions can be governed by associations made in the distant past, even if those associations don’t accurately reflect the present reality

Who's the best leader: the saint or the scrooge?

...The researchers define dominance as an imposed "alpha status," whereas prestige is freely-conferred admiration from others. Al Capone, for example, can be viewed as a high-dominance individual, whereas Mother Theresa exudes high prestige.

The study argues that people with high prestige are perceived as desirable leaders in noncompetitive contexts, but that they are viewed as submissive in comparison to individuals who strive to maximize their personal gains. In times of competition, individuals who are less altruistic are seen as dominant and more appealing as leaders.

Looks like no Mother Theresa in the future

Killing crop-eating pests: Compounds work by disrupting bugs' winter sleep

Scientists have designed agents that interfere with the protective dormancy period of the corn earworm, a species that infests more than 100 types of plants and costs American farmers an estimated $2 billion a year in losses and control costs.

The compounds, composed of synthetic molecules that mimic the structure of a hormone in these insects, have three different effects on diapause, a hibernation-like state of arrested development that allows many types of bugs to survive through the winter. The agents can force the insects out of diapause prematurely, prevent the bugs from ever entering diapause, or block the termination of diapause.

Any of these cases could be described as "ecological suicide," said David Denlinger, professor of entomology and evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University and senior author of the study.

Denlinger envisions the use of these compounds in some other form for insect control on a massive scale – perhaps by incorporating them into transgenic plants.

This would NEVER get out of control /sarc (see BT genes jumps plant species)

Lots of ways to commit suicide.
Seems we'll leave no stone unturned in our efforts to guarantee success.

Sharks in Australia's Great Barrier Reef in decline

... "Shark declines are quite rapid," Connolly said. "Our consensus estimates are around six percent per year decline for whitetip reef sharks and nine percent for grey reef sharks."

Given the range of uncertainty around the estimates, the decline could potentially be even greater, he added.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 23, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 15.2 million barrels per day during the week ending September 23, 130 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’saverage. Refineries operated at 87.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.3 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.7 million barrels per day last week, up by about 1.4 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.8 million barrels per day, 277 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 541 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 150 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 341.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are just above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories remained unchanged while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total petroleum inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged about 19.0 million barrels per day, down by 1.8 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, down by 2.4 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 1.0 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.3 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Interesting numbers out of Cushing:

Apr 24 2009 = 29,763 Barrels
Sep 25 2009 = 26,530

Apr 30 2010 = 36,244
Sep 24 2010 = 34,345

Apr 29 2011 = 40,490
Sep 23 2011 = 30,920 (post SPR release)

Al Gore: clear proof that climate change causes extreme weather

... The former US vice-president and climate campaigner ... argued that America has suffered a "breakdown in democratic governance", because members of Congress are obsessed with appeasing special interests in return for campaign funding, rather than confronting climate change.

The former vice president and climate campaigner said that US democracy had been undermined. "In the language of computer culture, our democracy has been hacked," he said.

In a near hour-long speech to the Scottish low-carbon investment conference, Gore said the evidence from the floods in Pakistan, China, South Korea and Columbia was so compelling that the case for urgent action by world leaders to combat carbon emissions was now overwhelming, Gore said.

related Pakistan: Another Victim of Climate Change

... Over the past month, the country's southern region has received the highest monsoon rains ever recorded, local metrological experts confirm.

In August, the southern parts of the country received 270 percent above-normal monsoon rains. And in September, the monsoons rains were 1,170 percent above normal, says Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Adviser Climate Affairs.

also Secretary of Agriculture: “Hard to Explain” How Anyone Could Not Tell the Climate is Changing

That long list at the top is sure something worth keeping.

Am currently reading Lovelock's The Revenge of Gaia, fascinating stuff. He posits how global warming will be accelerated by an economic slowdown through aerosol whiplash.

Some don't deny the climate is changing, but insist that it is not caused by human activity. They see any attempt to do anything about it as a liberal conspiracy to usurp power.

My view is that the climate is changing and that it is caused by human activity. However I do not believe anything can be done about it.

This is mostly because climate knows no borders. Weather systems go where they will and are beyond the control of governments or any other authority. If one country tries to improve its situation climate wise, it will in many cases put itself at an economic disadvantage in relationship to another country.

The United States and China are the classic examples. If we put restrictions on carbon emissions that many think are behind climate change, industry that can moves to China to avoid those restrictions and gets cheaper labor as a bonus.

Since weather systems move from west to east, the increased carbon emissions in China offset the reduced carbon emission in the United States. The net effect is probably about zero. All that has happened is that carbon emissions have moved from one country to another temporarily.

The constant circulation of the atmosphere guarantees the high carbon emissions of China will reach the United States anyway making our efforts to reduce them futile.

While the United States may be able to survive with severe restrictions on emissions, the Chinese can not. Their economy is export based and there is a lot of very cheap labor looking for employment. Unemployment and a reduced standard of living is not acceptable when the living standard is already low.

So international agreements to reduce carbon emissions are impossible to achieve because of different economic interests and living standards.

Recognizing climate change really does not solve much. True it is better to recognize the earth is not flat but that doesn't mean it takes less energy to get from one point to another. Nor does it mean that if everyone agrees the earth is round that the problem of distance goes away.

It seems to me recognizing climate change main advantage is in preparing for the inevitable. It helps to know the earth is round when we go someplace as we are reassured we will not fall off the edge. And knowing death is inevitable helps us evaluate our situation and make decisions.

But climate change like death can not be stopped once started. Once born we will die. All we can do is prepare as best we can for the inevitable.

Each region's preparations will be different and some will not prepare at all but just accept what comes. Like with problem of death, it hard to say which is better: fighting it or accepting it.

It seems to me climate change just has to be accepted in the end. Fighting it is futile.

My view is that the climate is changing and that it is caused by human activity. However I do not believe anything can be done about it.

x, you're not alone. That's been basically my view for a while. It's also one of the reasons I don't enter into the great "green" debate on one side or the other. Stopping climate change is a bit like redesigning human behaviour - may be possible but it is damn hard to do and in the end, you may not get the desired result you wanted in the beginning.

And even if we are at a plateau or near the peak oil mark, human beings will continue to burn fossil fuels well into the future. At 7 billion people and counting it's difficult to see how the carbon footprint is going to come down much.

Conversely, if it's not human generated with green house gases, well, it all works out the same. We're cooked.

If we adapt, we survive. If we can't, we die.

"climate is changing and that it is caused by human activity. However I do not believe anything can be done about it."

I think I understand what you guys intend by this statement, but let's be perfectly clear about the reality:

We are all "doing something about it" all the time--we are making it worse and feeding the flames--

We are filling and driving our fossil fueled cars
We are flying around in ff spewing planes
We are using ff generated electricity
We are eating food grown and ship with ff

These are either completely unnecessary, or things that we could all scale way back on without really materially damaging our quality of life--and in many cases, greatly improving our health and lives.

On a larger scale, as a society we are furiously exploring, drilling, mining, extracting, refining, shipping...and nearly always finally burning the various fossil fuels as fast we possibly can.

So saying 'we can't do anything about it' may be true in a sense, but it is a bit like the guy at the bar that proclaims that he can't do anything about his drinking problem, even as he orders his eighth bump and a beer.

So is it appropriate to say that the real question is not what we burn or how much we burn but what we burn it on? Maybe the future will be defined by what can and cannot be done with natural gas since that is the only fossil fuel with any appreciable gains in overall energy yield as far as I can tell from reading dozens of TOD articles and thousands of comments.

I don't think that analogy works. The reason is that most people in the world are not alcoholics. So the alcoholic is an isolated person with a specific problem, impacting mostly himself and perhaps a few others in his circle.

Everybody around the world is burning fossil fuels. Even if you just turn on one light in your dim room, or use a motorcycle to go half a mile, you are burning fossil fuels.

If you eat, you are burning fossil fuels.

AGW is baked in, no two ways about it. Most intelligent people recognize this, which is one of the reasons why nothing gets done and why the deniers rule the day.

Whether it comes to peak oil, financial collapse, or AGW, the smart ones aren't trying to take helm of the Titanic, they are going for the lifeboats.

I am knocking on the door to the bridge ;-)

Best Hopes for making a bad situation a little bit better,


The best analogy to the current energy situation is possibly that of a star like our sun.

"Later on, when all the hydrogen gets consumed into helium, there will be no more energy that will push outward and prevent the Sun from collapsing. As a result, it will collapse. The collapse will put tremendous pressure on the helium core and cause the helium nuclei there to fuse into heavier elements just like before.

Once again the fusion will push the outer regions outward. This time, the outward push will allow the Sun to expand much larger than it was earlier in its lifetime. At this point in the life cycle of the Sun, it will then become a Red Giant. While the outer regions continue to expand, the helium nuclei in the core will continue to fuse into carbon."


I think we're at the point of our energy life-cycle where the cheap energy (hydrogen) is close to peaking and we're close to a nova like event where the energy use will increase but there will be grave consequences to the environment and the human way of life everywhere. The transition to unconventional oil and other unconventional sources (or uses) of fossil fuels is in my mind just an indication that we're close to that nova as we have already consumed most of the easy energy we have available.

In my mind the only question is not about whether we can save everyone but how many are going to be saved and how many aren't and this is directly related to how humanity spends the last easy fossil fuels we have remaining to us. Here's another analogy, peak energy is the congenital heart disease of the human world and climate change is the pneumonia complicating efforts by the doctors whom have already written the patient off to save the life of said patient.

Disclaimer: I live in New Zealand, probably one of the best places to be if even the medium 'bad' projections come to pass. When I turn on a light I could say that most of the electricity comes from non fossil fuel sources.

Written by Oilman Sachs:
Whether it comes to peak oil, financial collapse, or AGW, the smart ones aren't trying to take helm of the Titanic, they are going for the lifeboats.

For AWG there may be no lifeboats to escape from a sinking Earth. What lifeboat saves a human from hydrogen sulfide bubbling out of the oceans, or the death of oxygen producing phytoplankton and plants? A glass dome works for a few until something critical malfunctions.

No lifeboat is really needed for those... I expect most people can comfortably outpace any increase in sea level even if they resort to 'wriggling on their backs like a worm'. As for phytoplankton I really do believe that the 1,000-10,000 generations of plankton will arrive before ocean acidity threatens to eliminate them ought to have a decent chance of adaptation. Finally do you have references for an uber bubble of H2S which is unlikely to be reabsorbed in the >2KM average depth of the ocean above the ocean floor yet alone accounting for it's existence?

Anyway I wanted to share these two links, these aren't really safe for ears nor being overheard by anyone else, Barbie girl.

Barbie girl as a song just screams 'peak oil' and 'cognitive dissonance' to me now. I think its appropriate! :-)


Ugly girl is the parody/reality of the whole situation in my mind.


Good luck if you dare to listen!

Peter Ward discusses earlier examples of H2S releases in "Under a Green Sky." Not likely to happen right away, but it can't be ruled out.

Plankton, even though they do reproduce very quickly, have been unable to genetically adapt fast enough to avoid a 40%+ loss, and that is with the relatively small and gradual change in sea surface temperature we have seen so far. GW is set to accelerate, potentially very quickly.

Just because you may be ignorant of a possibility does not mean that it can't kill you. Quite the opposite.

"Ward: Not really -- those past episodes were from very rare flood basalts. There may not be another of these, as the Earth is cooling as it ages.

But we've had these mass extinctions [from hydrogen sulfide] when carbon dioxide has hit 1,000 ppm. We have not hit that [level] for 100 million years. But we are currently at 380 ppm -- and climbing rapidly at 2 ppm a year and accelerating -- and this is the highest CO2 I think in the last 40 million years. The only time [these extinctions] ever happened in the past is when these big flood basalts happened. But now we're making it happen far faster than the flood basalts ever did. This is a unique event in the history of the planet."


This guy? I can see how one might be concerned about H2S but it isn't a real clear and present danger for humanity quite yet. It can't be ruled out as a possible end game scenario, however the length of time required for this event to happen in my opinion requires us to shelve it in favour of more pressing concerns.

I don't disbelieve that AGW and the concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses are going to accelerate. With falling EROEI and increasing inputs required to maintain homeostasis over the whole spectrum of production and use it's the natural conclusion to make given the evidence I have on hand from various sources here and in other climate related sites. However given that phytoplankton seem to excel in areas with more acidic nutrient rich upwellings from the depth take place, I cannot conclude that they are simply suffering from an ocean which is too acidic for them.

dohboi - We see things the same but phrase it differently. I think there are many things that COULD be done. But that doesn't matter. I COULD lose that extra 30 pounds lug around. But until I actually do what's needed it won't happen. As I mention below I suspect in 30 years or so we'll like back at this time as the good ole days when we weren't dumping as much GHG into the atmosphere. I don't expect us to put as much capital into alts, etc to make up for the gains from increased caol utilization. You and I both now how easily the human mind can rationalize destructive/unfair actions if it's a matter of personal/economic survival.

The problem with just accepting climate change is that we don't just level off at some level of CO2 and temp increase, but keep increasing. 600ppm, 800ppm, 1000ppm, 2000ppm, how long before we can't live here any more? We MUST do something. If we don't, the inevitable is that soon the planet will become uninhabitable. Remember, once the dew point rises above body temperature, we can't live there without A/C.

But I agree, we won't do anything.

Yes I've thought about this. But the problem is that we don't know what rate, how slowly we should burn fossil fuels to stabilize or get down. Even if we knew, the solution is not politically or economically possible, as it forces a Depression like scenario on the globe.

Game theory rules it out as well. If all countries but country X decided to take action, country X would almost certainly, in the short term, become the most powerful country on the planet. It's citizens would be fed, it's economy would boom, it's factories would buzz with production of autos and planes and weapons.

Or replace "country" with individual, or corporation, or region, etc.

Which is of course what makes universal action on peak oil so difficult as well.

By your argument here, the nations of Earth could never have banned ozone-depleting halo-carbons, but in fact we did so in spite of game theory.

A global treaty, with severe penalties for non-compliance, worked fine for CFCs. Given the political will, such a global treaty for green house gas could remove any advantage from excessive carbon emission in a similar manner. Goods from a non-compliant country could either be simply banned from import, or punished with severe tariffs.

Problems caused by game theory can usually be fixed by changing the rules of the game.

CO2 is the inevitable result of burning fossil fuels. There is no way out. It is not the same as choosing to use another degreaser and refrigerant chemical. You can choose not to smoke, but you cannot choose not to breathe. For an industrial society, using energy is as essential as breathing is for us.

But we could easily get by with half or 1/3rd the energy (just use it more efficiently) and have at least half of that fraction from non-carbon sources.

Add a little sequestration, and CO2 and other GHG emissions could be a fifth of today with *NO* decline in quality of life.

Best Hopes for Seeing, and then Doing, the Possible,


We can and will use a lot less energy, and there are many effective, voluntary way to do that - and a lot of involuntary ones as well. Just because I don't buy into BAU-lite fantasies like EVs does not mean I do not believe in doing anything - rather I believe in making steps on a personal level to reduce energy and resource consumption. I know you are trying to make larger changes at a societal level in regards to electric rail, and I truly hope you succeed. I'm simply working on a lower impact, better odds path.

The point I was making is that there is a real difference between CO2 and other pollutants that we have succeeded in controlling. That's because carbon is a material that is in this case tied to energy, and energy is not the same as matter. It obeys different rules. So the fact that you can regulate some materials does not imply that you can get agreement on regulating energy (and therefore carbon). I don't think anyone ever fought wars over access to CFCs for instance. Regulating materials tied to energy use is a different ballgame. This does not mean we will not and should not use less FF energy, it's just a logical fallacy to equate regulating other industrial pollutants with regulating matter tied to fossil fuel use.

I don't buy the carbon sequestration idea, as it smacks of trying to thwart entropy. The carbon is released by releasing the energy, and you need to add energy back in to bind it back up again. If you use less energy to bind it more weakly it will be less stable. If you try to hide it I suspect it will find a way back.

"Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?" -Yoda

You listen to the little Muppet! There are many tools and processes which in combination can VASTLY improve our 'burnt-energy' use. But as you said about "the happy talk and hand waving festival", maybe these are things you don't care to muddy up your 'No-Can-Do Parade' with..

Please find one instance where I said nothing can be done. I am trying every day to do something, and I hope that I can do more. That does not mean I buy into your happy talk and handwaving, everything is a silver BB approach. Some things do not work, some things are bad ideas. If one does not understand the issues involved with a particular project then failure is a quite likely result, and one can do real damage with good intentions. But when I point out some of those issues with some technology that makes you feel good you're all over my case as if I've personally insulted you.

In one of my roles in life I am an engineer. I design things that work, and not by ignoring problems but by recognizing them and dealing with them. You would do well to remember that Scotty was a character in a bad TV show, and that Can-Do attitude is a tired old Hollywood saw. People do not succeed by ignoring all obstacles and reality, they just make a mess of things. People succeed by understanding what they are doing and the issues they face, and then acting appropriately.

Yoda was a character in a modern retelling of the fall of the Roman republic. In the real world, Rome collapsed. You go ahead and listen to the muppet - I'll be paying more attention to the lessons to be learned from history, and trying to understand the real issues going on, even if they don't make you feel good.

Twilight, I design and build working tools every day, and then I work with those tools.

Sorry if my movie quotes leave you with the impression that I think Star Trek was real.. I'm not under such delusions.

When you point out issues that you've decided are problems with proposed technologies, and you don't get buy-in from people who take you to task for putting your examples into unlikely extreme scenarios, then you have to flash your engineer's card as an appeal to your presumed authority.

You might as well be quoting movies.

"Problems caused by game theory can usually be fixed by changing the rules of the game."

Now, if the rules of the game are tilted in favour of the rule makers and the rule makers want that uneven playing field (or alternatively are afraid that any change in the rules will give their opponents an advantage), why would they change the rules?

CFC's aren't with the realms of such rules which favour rulers. Ever heard of a war over CFC's?

Oil on the other hand (and energy in general) is subject to such interests by the rule makers and changes in the rules governing energy will be treated rather differently and not so easily changed at all.

I suppose it also helped that there were ozone hole deniers, which seems to be demonstrative of the nature of the rule makers.

Finally, putting aside the rule makers, let's just focus on the idea of billions of people wanting to get out of poverty. That requires energy. If we could scale up alternative energy sources, quickly enough without oil to lift billions out of squalor, a new generation may have a chance. If this cannot be done without oil in any significant way, it will be even harder to change the rules. Time shall tell on this one.

Or replace "country" with individual, or corporation, or region, etc.

Oh, you mean Skynet!


x - I've always felt you were wise and now you've confirmed it by agreeing with me. I've mentioned before I understood the potential for such climate change possibilities over 40 years ago. Having studied climate change on the geologic time scale what we're potentially going thru now is a tiny blip so it's not at all difficult for me to imagine. But whether natural, manmade or a combination, it matters not IMHO. If natural we can't stop it. If man made we WON'T stop it for purely economic reasons. In fact, it's easy for me to imagine mankind making it worse as coal becomes an even more dominate energy source than it is now as other FF's play out.

I think where a lot of the contention comes from is the inherent animosity between folks of the far left and far right. Both sides are always looking for a weapon to attack the other with. Some of the biggest advocates of AGW also appear to be sworn enemies of all commercial activities. At the other extreme are folks who see very attempt by the liberal side as an attack against everything they believe in. As suspect many of the deniers do accept AGW to some degree but don't want to give the other side any satisfaction by admitting it. Likewise I don't always feel honest sincerity from every AGW advocate. I do think most of us fall in the middle of these two extremes but we aren't the ones filling up the broadband.

To understand climate and what humanity is doing to it, one must also understand the long term changes on geological time scales. To be sure, the long term record shows large swings in global climate over many millions of years. The Earth appears to be locked into a natural progression of ice ages on scales of hundreds of thousands of years, but it also appears that this is a relatively recent turn. The apparent cause is the rise of the Isthmus of Panama, which closed the linkage between the tropical Atlantic and Pacific Oceans some 3.3 million years ago. This suggests that all earlier climate conditions aren't relevant to the state of our present climate and implicates the THC process as a major contributor to the most recent period.

But, people don't live on geological time scales. A few hundred years is a long stretch of time in human history and the fact that we are experiencing a relatively ice free period which began about 10,000 years ago is completely beyond the time of human civilization. What we are doing over a very short time will last hundreds of years and there is a lag time due to the oceans which means we aren't yet seeing the full impact of what was done 25 or 30 years ago. If the scientists are even half right, it may not be possible for any civilizations to exist within a few more decades of excessive emissions. That the science has been buried in political horse manure just insures that humanity will experience whatever turns out to be the results of our ignorant use of the atmosphere for a common dumping ground for our waste products...

E. Swanson

A basic fact that isn't often mentioned is this: Human beings cook their food. Every person needs access to fire daily in order to nourish themself. Rising populations have resulted in deforestation. The medieval Black Death gave trees a new lease on life in Europe. Industrial and transportation uses of fuel are major and important, but under it all is the simple need to cook dinner -- seven or eight billion of them.

There is an underlying assumption that reducing carbon emissions is somehow "bad" in other dimensions.

This is not so for a good majority of our carbon consumption post-Peak Oil.

What is 'bad" about a well insulated home, with efficient appliances and heat pump that maximizes comfort (especially during an extended blackout) and minimizes utility bills ?

What is "bad" about shipping freight and taking trips up to say, 300 miles, by electrified freight ?

What is "bad" about running garbage trucks off "sewer gas" captured from the sewage precessing plant ?

What is "bad" about closing strip coal mines ? And very dangerous underground mines as well ?

What is "bad" about knowing your neighbors, walking to a neighborhood grocery store and taking a streetcar or train to work ?

What is "bad" about not getting diabetes and heart disease before your retire (see above) ?

Best Hopes for choosing the good options !


My view is that the climate is changing and that it is caused by human activity. However I do not believe anything can be done about it.

Yes, it's happening, there is nothing we can do to stop it altogether, but we certainly can still influence how severe it will be.

And how bad could it be? Joe Romm over at Climate Progress has just published an excellent summary of recent studies of high-emissions cases. We are truly playing with fire, and if we don't get our collective act together soon the consequences are going to be catastrophic.


The possibility that unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases would not do unimaginable harm to humanity has become vanishingly small. That’s because we remain near the worst-case emissions pathways, there is little prospect of national or global action any times soon (thank you, deniers), many impacts are coming faster than the models projected, and the overwhelming majority of the scientific literature in the past 5 years has been more dire than the 2007 IPCC report, which itself was more than enough motivation for the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and countries to call for urgent action to reduce emissions.


We can’t let this happen. It is indeed humanity’s self-destruction. We must pay any price or bear any burden to stop it.

In time the planet will heal itself, and the remaining humans will pick up the pieces and move on in what we would consider to be an apocalyptic future. We humans are creative enough to survive in a variety of conditions, as eskimos and desert nomads prove.

If anything, the current human population is a massive bubble, and a correction is long overdue.

If Mr. "tell everybody else to bear any burden" Romm wants, he can be an example to us all and give up electricity and go live as a subsistence farmer.

If not, he needs to go away and let the rest of us live our lives the way we want, with autonomy and dignity.

We humans are creative enough to survive in a variety of conditions

... or not;

as many dead and never thereafter found explorers prove.

or the 140+ Fukishima plant workers TEPCO can't find.

Were they hit by a tsunami or what? (I rather joke then cry, it were a major disaster and the tsunami is already being forgotten, people will soon think that a nuclear accident devastated the japanese coastline. )

Right enough, though but for those 6 Reactors, that Tsunami Stricken land would all be getting rebuilt now.

The quake and tsunami were Natural Disasters, but now we have a manmade system that can amplify the force of the disaster, as if earthquakes and Climate Change weather uncertainties weren't bad enough on their own.

If Mr. "tell everybody else to bear any burden" Romm wants, he can be an example to us all and give up electricity and go live as a subsistence farmer.

If not, he needs to go away and let the rest of us live our lives the way we want, with autonomy and dignity.

Dam You !

And all those like you.

For you will reap but a small part of what you sow - that you will leave for the children of today and those after them.


PS: There is no guarantee of humanity surviving what we have wrought. Changes in atmospheric chemistry, particularly H2S, but others plus a devastated environment, and our very slow rate of reproduction, put our future as a species in doubt.

You just demonstrated why nothing will be done. "I wont do anything about the problem - even though I know it willkill everybody in the end - if othrs don't start first."

The attitude of "I don't give a damn how bad what I'm doing is, if somebody else won't change first, I won't change either. Nobody's going to tell me what to do." is not only why nothing will be done, it's exactly why we are in the situation we are now. If your attitude hadn't been the dominant one 30-40-50 years ago, today and the future would be a whole lot different. This attitude has condemned our children, in fact all all our descendants, to a living hell.

It's going to be orders of magnitude worse living in a collapsing society with hellish weather and temperatures, starvation, disease and all the other things, than if we'd never managed to damage the environment needed for us to live in the first place.

If Mr. "tell everybody else to bear any burden" Romm wants, he can be an example to us all and give up electricity and go live as a subsistence farmer.
If not, he needs to go away and let the rest of us live our lives the way we want, with autonomy and dignity.

Of course the obvious point is that climate change will not let most people "live our lives the way we want, with autonomy and dignity"! The people dying and losing their homes in Pakistan's floods today would certainly not say they can "live our lives the way we want, with autonomy and dignity". The millions who will die from floods and extreme weather due to climate change will not live at all, let alone "with autonomy and dignity".

Plus the "subsistence farmer" idea is a pure straw man, because there are so many other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I have lived in a passive solar house for the last 20+ years, using mainly foot, transit, and bike transport, and with the PVs on the roof our house is an electricity exporter (less than net zero consumption). As Alan says, our life is not some nightmare of sacrifice and misery, rather very enjoyable and fulfilling, but our greenhouse gas emissions are a tiny fraction of US average, probably lower than some "subsistence farmers" too. We harvest a lot of food from our garden and trees, so I guess we are "subsistence farmers" in some sense. Rather than investing in SUVs, big screen TVs, and purchased energy we invested in sustainability, and it was not that difficult.

Our city, Boulder, is sponsoring "Energy Smart" which subsidizes and organizes energy efficiency upgrades and many other houses in our neighborhood are using Energy Smart and/or adding PVs. So the idea that "nothing can be done" and "nothing will be done" has been empirically proved false.

Whether the efforts of individuals, municipalities, states, nations, and NGOs will be adequate is a "whole nother" question, but Germany, Denmark, Portugal, etc. have proved that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is practical and economically feasible. Many of the actions that reduce climate impacts improve quality of life at the same time (is a drafty, uninsulated house really more comfortable?, is sitting in a traffic jam really more pleasant than relaxing on a fast train or walking down a shady sidewalk? is dying of inactivity-induced heart disease and obesity any sane person's idea of a good life?, is eating fast-food lard really more enjoyable than fresh, local food?,etc.), so the Eeyore refrain of "Nothing can be done" will mess up both individual lives and the community too.

Those who believe themselves powerless create a dangerous and unhealthy self-fulfilling prophecy (and not just relative to climate change).

For those who are simply ignorant and deluded about how science works, and who trust the blandishments of those who tell them to do the easy thing, ignorance about AGW is understandable.

To understand that AGW is creating an apocalyptic future for the planet and smugly decide it's OK, is a new class of crime for a self-aware being on this planet. Worse than murder, worse than cannibalism, worse than child rape, worse than war profiteering; worse even than gleeful participation in a genocide. Eisenhower forced the nearby townspeople to walk through the nazi death camps, to "own" what they had gone along with. It's a shame that today's willful collaborators will mostly escape that damnation.

My apologies for not speaking in pleasant euphemisms this morning.

Deciding that nothing can be done - even if it turns out to be true, which we can't know at this point - is a self-indulgence we haven't earned.

Of course there are a lot of good people feeling stressed over the problem who don't know exactly what to do, just as there are people living amid genocides who seek to ameliorate it but don't know how. The stress they feel is the stress we should feel. Feeling dignity at participation in ecocide is sociopathic.

To understand that AGW is creating an apocalyptic future for the planet and smugly decide it's OK,

I think smugly deciding it's okay is all we have left.
We know and have have known for over sixty years, prior to the last population doubling, that draconian measures were required worldwide, to avoid reaching this point in time.
That was then, now the measures we need to undertake are unspeakable, beyond comprehension and human ability.

The whole of the USA could be closed down tomorrow and it would not make a difference. There would still be 6.5 billion people to continue the party. CO2 would continue to rise and developing nations continue to develop. I'm not saying it's absolutely too late to do anything, it's just that it's too hard.

I think smugly deciding it's okay is all we have left.

I don't feel that just because something has been a crime for the last 60 years and we didn't stop doing it now makes it "all we have left". This just perpetuates that attitude that "unless everyone else changes first, I won't even begin to change." I can't bring myself to give up and debase myself that way, even though I am pretty much certain that's what 99.99% of the people in the world will do.

Making the changes for myself makes me feel better about myself and helps me prepare to deal with the changing times we face. Who knows, this may give me the knowledge to help someone else do something positive in the future. Do something to educate others, there are some that will be ready to listen as times get worse.

To understand that AGW is creating an apocalyptic future for the planet and smugly decide it's OK, is a new class of crime for a self-aware being on this planet.

Given the banker class gets a 1:1 ratio of the money flow to actual Carbon reduction - the "crime class" ain't new.

Stephen Colbert discusses global warming: ‘Global Warming is Real, Folks’ (VIDEO)

It was so hot that Rick Perry executed prisoners by putting them on the dashboard of a black 1985 Buick Skylark

Texas Drought Could Last Until 2020, Says Texas A&M Expert

The current drought that has been called the state’s worst one-year drought on record could be just the start of dry spell that could last until 2020, the Texas state climatologist said today.

... John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist and a Texas A&M professor of atmospheric sciences, said the current drought could last substantially longer that what we have planned for. “This is looking more and more like a multi-year drought,” explains the Texas A&M professor

“Sooner or later there will be a drought that’s worse (than the drought of record),” Nielsen-Gammon said. “The planning needs to be able to cover the bases not just for the worst that we’ve seen but also have a plan going forward in case conditions become worse than that.”

and Ask an Aggie: Climate Change is Real

Deep in the heart of Texas, the scientific consensus is alive and kicking -- no matter what the local politicians say

Responding to the Trillion-Dollar Call to Retrofit Buildings

The serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson brought to life an international need and business opportunity centered on thermally upgrading existing buildings, the world’s biggest users of energy.


One game-changer leveraging Sir Richard’s vision is a LEED-rated composite which is many times stronger than concrete but is 80% lighter in weight. Positherm (PT) has ballistic properties, is water-, insect-, hailstone- and hurricane-resistant, but has thermal properties akin in part to NASA Space Shuttle tiles.


A 5/16 inch (5mm) thick section of PT will support the weight of a pickup truck.

See: http://cleantechnica.com/2011/09/28/responding-to-a-trillion-dollar-call...

In terms of our own retrofit work, I have good news and bad news...

The good news is that I've just been handed a list of seven hundred facilities that have been pre-approved for lighting retrofits and it doesn't matter if these buildings consume 500 or 500 million kWh/year, they all need to be upgraded by March 31st, 2012 (this in addition to our other work).

First up: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/101RP.jpg

The bad news? I've just been handed a list of seven hundred facilities...


Hey Paul;
I was just at a Boutiqueish Natural Foods Grocery yesterday, and counted up their Tracklights (Look like 50w Halogens, some Sealed Spots also in the mix.) and 2x4' fluoro banks on the Ceiling.. 115 Track Heads and 40 Fluoros..

I am thinking of submitting them a proposal for a bit of improvement, it's not even a very big store.. seems like a lot of Watts for that space, (Maybe 30'x80' ?).. I didn't see under the diffusers, but I suspect they are standard T-12s.

..But I've had a spate of video work come through, so the incentive for starting a new trade is a little off for the moment.. and I think I might need to get my Electr. License as well, so I don't have to hire out all the labor.


Hi Bob,

Best wishes for every success if you decide to pursue this line of work; with your strong technical knowledge and related experience lighting film and stage, you certainly bring much to the table.

You'll definitely want to take advantage of any rebates and incentives available through Efficiency Maine (http://www.efficiencymaine.com/); anything that helps reduce the client's out-of-pocket expense is going to help move things along.


You Awesome!

Thanks, Jon. To celebrate and in the spirit of further reducing our dependency upon fossil fuels I went out and bought myself this: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_0574.jpg It's going to replace the older of our two systems, which will be passed on to someone else (free for the taking).


Need some help? I wouldn't mind living in Nova Scotia for a couple of years.

Thanks, Breadman. Crazy times ahead, for sure, the next six months in particular.


Is Positherm (PT) or anything Like a product that I can Purchase or spec?

Hi LT,

Not as yet. According to the article, the product launch takes place at the World Future Energy Summit in January, 2012 and it will be sold internationally by authorized (franchised) agents.


Kind of interesting there is little focus on the insulation properties, or indeed the price.

Structural is nice, but not really the exam question.

Bloomberg top story: Most U.S. Stocks Drop Amid Europe Concern

Didn't stocks go up yesterday because of European optimism?

Am I loosing my mind? Don't answer that!

Every time stocks move up or down, Bloomberg always has a reason which they tell us with absolute authority. But I have no doubt that the reason and the actuality are like space-time and a broken clock.

Nassim Taleb, author of "The Black Swan" explains in his book that he used to be a Wall Street insider and all these stories are made-up "false narratives".

The human mind craves a cause-and-effect story. So Wall Street makes 'em up and feeds them to us. In fact, they have no clue as to why "The Market" went up or down on any given day. They just pretend they do.

Anyone see that new Brad Pit movie yet, "MoneyBall"?
In it he has one classic line, "You really don't know, do you?" --spoken to a MLB guru who claims to have that inner sense of what is going on and what the future will surely bring.

I have long maintained that the trading headline for the business section is generated by a computer filling in the formula

Stocks <up/down/unchanged> on <random recent event>

More realistically, the sovereign debt situation in Europe is changing from day-to-day. Over the weekend, it looked like there was the framework for a deal to handle the Greek problem; by the end of our business day yesterday, that looked to be unraveling as other small countries (afraid of the precedent, I think) demanded that the French and German banks take a bigger loss on the debt.

Most realistically, the large majority of stock trades are now generated by computers running assorted timing algorithms (ie, buy on condition X, sell on condition Y), often constrained by external factors (eg, at the end of this particular day the $100B mutual fund or the giant investment bank needs $1B in cash). There was a stretch of 10-12 years in the 1990s and 2000s when you could show a repeatable pattern that looked very much like funds collectively making changes at the middle and end of the month in order to satisfy those external factors. For several years, I made consistent returns by trading on that pattern.

I've also heard of algorithms (perhaps never past the drawing board, perhaps only by mavericks and not used by the big firms) that automate parsing the news to determine political/social/reporting trends. In other words, if people are reporting/blogging about the EU recovery or the Greece rescue, the automated trading would move into European stocks. If the reporting/blogging is about euro failure or Greek default, they move out.

So not all automated trading may be deaf to the written buzz about markets.

Four Big Unanswered Blackout Questions
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp. have begun a joint inquiry. So has the Western Electric Coordinating Council, the regional group that manages the western power grid.

From The Voice of San Diego.

A slightly related question...

I've been playing with some of the EIA's electricity statistics, and have found the following situation. Looking at just the 48 continental states, the 11 that make up the Western Interconnect (including all of Montana, which is actually split) have about 23% of the population, but generate only 9% of the electricity. Assuming consumption and generation are roughly equal, this has the western states using only about one-third as much electricity per capita as the eastern ones (including Texas as an "eastern" state).

I'm trying to think of reasons to look at that would explain why this is the case. The immediate things that come to mind are:

  • Overall, the western climate is considerably milder, particularly with the concentration of population along the Pacific Coast. Much less need for air conditioning, dehumidification, etc.
  • Less heavy industry. Big industrial consumers are primary metals, petroleum refining, chemicals, glass and clay processing, etc. These may be disproportionately done in eastern states.
  • Population growth has been more recent in the western states, so infrastructure is newer and more efficient. This argument could relate to both the grid and to consumers.
  • Overall, the western population is less rural than the east. For example, using the Census Bureau definitions, California and New Jersey are tied as the least "rural" states in the country. There would seem to be some inherent inefficiencies in providing electricity in rural areas.

I'd appreciate any random thoughts people might have.

Most of the population in those 10.5 states is in California.

California has had a sustained, long term and effective energy conservation program that has "decoupled" their electrical demand from the rest of the USA (the only comparable IMHO is Austin Energy's conservation programs).

Add shutting down all aluminum smelting in the NW, little other heavy industry, a mild climate for the Pacific coast and so forth.

Best Hopes for more Energy Efficiency,


"Add shutting down all aluminum smelting in the NW, little other heavy industry,"

It's worth noting with that thought the unemployment rates for the Pacific Coast states are all above the national average.

What industry is still here is less energy intensive, as in semiconductors, software, and aircraft.

Mad Max Fans Hit the Desert for Apocalyptic Weekend

... People just really want to go out there and live it. You know, eat the dog food and everything.”

“You come out here to a gathering that celebrates the end of civilization as we know it, and yet you come away from it having worked with people that you’d share a trench with; some of the coolest people in the world,” said Adam Chilson, the lead set designer for the event. “It makes you think that maybe there is still some hope for humanity.”

related WasteLand WeekEnd and RoadWarUSA

... b-but the Lord Humongous promised us safe passage through the wasteland! He promised us safe passage! He gave his word!

Meanwhile, Our Mechanical Overlords are coming up to speed

Boston Dynamics' Bigger BigDog Robot Is Alive

And the situation on our southern border is going 'swimingly'

Mexican Cartel Snuffs Social Media Star as Violence Nears ‘Civil War’ Proportions

... The report, released Monday by the Texas Department of Agriculture and authored by retired Major General Robert Scales and retired General Barry McCaffrey, describes a conflict in which drug cartels have forced the “capitulation” of Mexican border cities, killed more than 40,000 people and have fueled “an internal war in Mexico that has stripped that country of its internal security to the extent that a virtual state of siege now exists adjacent to our own southwestern states.”

Report: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

... During the past two years the state of Texas has become increasingly threatened by the spread of Mexican cartel organized crime. The threat reflects a change in the strategic intent of the cartels to move their operations into the United States. In effect, the cartels seek to create a “sanitary zone” inside the Texas border -- one county deep -- that will provide sanctuary from Mexican law enforcement and, at the same time, enable the cartels to transform Texas’ border counties into narcotics transshipment points for continued transport and distribution into the continental United States.

Well, at least this war will be cheaper... as it's so close to home!

Yep, the war on drugs...definitely going well.

You can fight on the front - and be home by dinner. The new 'Commuter War'.

From my perspective of the right side of the Atlantic, there is one thing I don't realy get; Why don't you not just seal off the border? Barb wire fence all the way, military patrolls regulary, remote operated sensors and cameras with night vision, standing shoot to kill orders. Must be way cheaper than giving in to the cartells. What do I miss?

Consider the logistical difficulties of Norway taking similar measures to keep out those thieving, drug dealing violent Swedish berserkers that want to steal Norwegian jobs !


"What do I miss?"

a) The sheer magnitude of the border, and the nature of the country that it traverses.

b) The sheer magnitude of the $$$ involved in the trade, and the corruption that it engenders among "law enforcement" on both sides of the border.

I'm sure there are many more items that could be listed here - those two spring to mind.

Specifically, the US Mexico border region is very sparsely populated. Which means the local economy is dominated by the Border Patrol and cannot support it without help from DC. Unlike the sealed European borders of the 20th Century, where the regions were densely populated enough that the economies on each side were able to devote the spare manpower to keeping the borders sealed hermetically.

We could build a huge fence all along the border. The scrap metal dealers on the Mexican side would love it.

As the discussion upthread mentioned, I don't think you need ID to recycle metal in Mexico, so the 3000 miles of barbed wire would rapidly get recycled to some use and location with a higher financial return on investment.
And "shoot-to-kill" for border-crossers would likely not meet legal definitions of justifiable homicide either in US or international law, so the quick result would be billions of dollars in damages awarded to the surviving families of "shot and killed" border crossers.
The fact that the US is (still) civilized enough not to gun down desperate people trying to provide for themselves and their families is a small comfort.

The "shoot-to-kill" order might annoy the 17% of Americans who are Hispanic.

Given, that the armed forces are also 18% Hispanic [and have guns], an order like that, regardless of legal or moral standards, would never be followed.

Statistic has it you ony need to stop 10%, and the black economy of border crossings does not work any more. Most of the other 90% wont come. If you lose every 10:th shipment, your profit margin grows to narrow, plus people wont wanna take the risk for what you pay them. I just refuse to believe you can't take out 10% of the lot. Banish one of the wars and send the money down to the border, would cover the budget.

This comment ignores the supply/demand curve. If border interdiction successfully stops 10% of contraband, then unmet demand will drive the price of contraband up much more than 10%, which provides additional incentives to smugglers.

The obvious examples are Singapore and Malaysia which have freely applied death penalties for drug trafficking, but people still smuggle drugs (and get executed sometimes) because the restriction on supply has driven black-market prices high enough that somebody is willing to risk death to make the big money.

In the US we would need a full-on police state to stop the drug trade, which would make the Berlin Wall look tame, because we have a trillion dollar customer base that drives demand. The biggest impact of increased enforcement on the US-Mexico land border has been to move traffic to airplanes, submarines, boats, and the US-Canada border (plus the usual tricks of building tunnels under the wall).




The irony is that the banks are backing the cartels. We're funding both sides of this battle.

U.S. Banks Picking Mexican Drug Cartels’ Side In The U.S.’s War On Drugs

Sounds like Gold-in-sacks betting against their clients after selling them derivatives. It's just business...

E. Swanson

We need to stop pretending these are drug gangs having a turf battle. Drugs are just a financing scheme, it's really about power. Try calling them warlords and realizing that this will be moving into the fringes of the empire as it disintegrates. As they become powerful they attract the same kinds of people that are attracted to more traditional power structures. Take a look at the future.

Drugs are just a financing scheme, it's really about power. Try calling them warlords



To be honest, the simpler solution would be to legalize drugs, at least cannabis which is supposedly 2/3 of the cartels' revenue. Long stretches of the border ARE fenced, as a matter of fact, and it is much, much safer on the US side, but even if little of the crime spills over, having your southern neighbor and major trade partner enter a near-civil war because you don't like people lighting up joints if fairly stupid.

Sorry, legalising drugs will do nothing, see Twilight's post, above, and my reply. Check out the casino in Monterey and the teachers in Acapulco. It is about personal power. These people will not give up their solarised SUVs and gold plated Kalashnikovs just because drugs are no longer in play. It is beyond that.


The mob didn't totally disappear after Prohibition ended in the US, but it sure did shrink, and firefights with automatic weapons in the streets disappeared. No money, no power.

I fail to see how the cartels are different. They have weapons, they have followers, but all of those would disappear if they had no money.

I agree, and put in evidence the fact that many other countries in Latin America that do not have drug trillions turbo-charging organized crime also do not have cartels on the scale of Mexico and Colombia. Eliminating the cartels once the drug trillions have metastasized the tumor is a more difficult task.

But Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, etc., have very similar history, culture, and economy compared to Mexico and Colombia but cartels have not appeared in those countries. What other factor besides the drug trade with the US could explain this difference?

But Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, etc., have very similar history, culture, and economy compared to Mexico and Colombia but cartels have not appeared in those countries. What other factor besides the drug trade with the US could explain this difference?

Where there is drug trade - there are cartels

Panama - Noriega was tried on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering.

Costa Rica - Costa Rica’s Drug War – New Hub For Drug Traffickers

Ecuador - The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global standard setting body for anti-money laundering. Equador is on the money-laudering warning list due to drug trafficing.

Peru - The illegal drug trade in Peru includes the growing of coca and the shipment of cocaine to the United States (ever hear of Peruvian marching powder)

Growing coca is not illegal in Peru and Ecuador, so it is not part of the "illegal drug trade" but a centuries old part of Andean culture, consumed as chewed leaf. I spend part of each year in Costa Rica, and the impact of drug cartels on Costa Rica is a tiny fraction of the violence and corruption that Mexico is enduring. Noriega is long gone from Panama, rule of law and the legit economy are strong in Panama today.

My point was not that there is no drug trade in those countries, but that currently there are no cartels seriously challenging the power of the state (unlike Mexico).

The difference is that US drug prohibition combined with a massive drug consumer market has turbo-charged Mexican organized crime, just as US alcohol prohibition turbo-charged the US mobs. In Colorado, where I live, medical marijuana has become defacto marijuana legalization and lots of economic power has moved from the black/gray market to be above ground, taxed and financed, with no noticeable societal impacts. Portugal had the same experience after legalizing drugs. Meanwhile in California the illegal pot-growers funded anti-legalization ads to preserve their economic niche.

Tommy, I'd like to talk to you about Costa Rica. I'm toying with the idea of moving there. If agreeable, please post your email on your profile. Many thanks!

There seem to be quite a few peak oilers choosing Costa Rica. A lot of Americans in general, actually. A few years back, an expert on Latin America here recommended Costa Rica as a place for Americans who wanted to bug out. Much more open to outsiders and less corrupt than Mexico. Here is a thread started by someone who moved his family to Costa Rica in preparation for peak oil. I believe there are a couple of others who did the same at PO.com, but I didn't find them in a brief search.

I appreciate your help!! thank you, Leanan

The Mobs during Prohibition were similar, in that it was not just about alcohol. In that time there were major social stresses - society was collapsing due to the great depression and the unequal distribution of the fruits of industrial society. The end of prohibition corresponded with the Roosevelt's attempts to share some of the wealth and ease the pain of the great depression. With WWII and the subsequent establishment of a world-wide global empire, the fruits of the age of oil and the establishment of a large middle class heavily invested in the preservation of the society, the prohibition era mobs lost not only their funding but any popular support.

Now the situation is different - Mexico is collapsing in part because they cannot support the industrial society they tried to make as they run out of oil, and we're collapsing because we cannot get the oil we need. A match made in hell. There won't be a general rise in prosperity to turn it around this time. You can try to cut off the specific source of funds that is supporting them, but such groups were going to form anyway. They'll persist, or similar ones will re-form from other bases of power.

all of those would disappear

All - no. A whole lot, sure.

Meanwhile - other things may become less then legal


"no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;

"no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;"

And in a kind of exclamation point, he added this to his list of no-nos: "no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice..."

Just wait until the raw milk kingpins show up.

There are a lot of rich folks making a lot of money off of this trade. Americans elites have been drug running since selling opium to China in the 1800s.

The cost would be small compared to Iraq or Afghanistan. It would be stimulus oh but the wrong kind because the money would go to working Americans. Mexicans vote democrat. Illegals work for less than minimum in republican factories.

Apparently the Canadian border looks feasible.

U.S. mulls ‘selective fencing’ along Canada-U.S. border

“CBP would use fencing and other barriers to manage movement (e.g., trenching across roads) in trouble spots where passage of cross-border violators is difficult to control; the resulting delay for cross-border violators would increase the rate of interdiction.”

Many making comments prefer this to be 100% coverage.

I think that such a fence will be more useful to keep Americans in than Canadians out.


If the US built a fence along the Canada/US border, it would help stop armed criminals from getting into Canada, but I fail to see what it would do for the United States.

The murder rate in the US is about 3 times as high as in Canada.

I would guess they are not worried about garden-variety armed criminals. They're worried about 9/11 style terrorists. The concern is not Canadians, but people Canada lets in that the US wouldn't (or thinks they wouldn't).

I'm also guessing nothing actually gets done on this. The US has all kinds of plans, some of them quite nutty, that will never actually be acted upon.

Except that will be to stop people in the u.s.a. from fleeing north rather then Canadians going south.

My favourite among the comments, "Plant a cedar hedge, less maintenance than a fence."

I remember well the 1988 free trade debate in Canada when the primary concern, among some Canadian politicians anyway, was a disappearing border. During the election campaign the Liberals featured a television ad that showed a map of North America and a hand busily erasing the 49th parallel. Little did we know twenty-three years on, a thick marker would turn out to be the writing implement of choice.

Once upon a time, Illuminati hunters and conspiracy theorists fretted about the Amero. With Gringos on patrol, no worry, the greenback, loonie and peso are here to stay.

The EIA has just published its Monthly Energy Review with the production, import and export data through August for the USA. On line 3.1 click on either PDF or XLS for the type of report you desire.

You will notice that they give imports, exports then net imports. This is Crude+Condensate and not all liquids. Net imports have been falling for about 5.5 years. But production has been increasing slightly. Anyway I decided to add the two and see what the crude oil supply to the US is really doing. Anyway here is a chart of the results.

Net  Imports   Production

The monthly data is quite erratic that but a 12 month average gives a clear trend. The slight bump up starting about January 2010 is the "2010 recovery". We have started the second leg down now as the 12 month average shows. Folks who think we are in a recovery should look at the data.

Ron P.

The production of ethanol displacing crude oil accounts for some of the decline.

Only a small amount.

This year, there will be about 13bn gal of ethanol produced, equivalent to about 8.6bn gal of gasoline. This works out to about 560,000 barrels/day of oil.

So it is a factor in the decline, but clearly not the largest one.

I don't know what the equivalent ethanol production was in 2006 but that would need to be subtracted from this years production numbers to get the true percent that ethanol production contributed to the decline since 2006. I would guess it was about 200,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent. If so then the amount ethanol contributed to the decline would be about 360,000 bp/d.

The actual amount of ethanol production can be found here: EIA Monthly Energy Review Click on "Renewable Energy". However the ethanol figures are combined with biodiesel so there is no way of telling how much of which one. Also the numbers are in trillions of BTU per month and per year. So you will need to do a little math to get the actual barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Ron P.

The historical ethanol production can be found at the Renewable Fuels Association website.

Here's the last decade, in millions of gal/yr

2000 - 1,630
2001 - 1,770
2002 - 2,130
2003 - 2,800
2004 - 3,400
2005 - 3,904
2006 - 4,855
2007 - 6,500
2008 - 9,000
2009 - 10,600
2010 - 13,230

one million gal/yr of ethanol is equivalent to 42 barrel/day, so the 2006 production was equal to about 203,000 bpd - so your guess is bang on.

So, at 360kbd, ethanol is 11% of the decline!

And that assumes infinite EROEI of ethanol. In reality, I have to think that a fair amount of real oil was consumed in the process of producing that ethanol.

Ethanol is used as a transport fuel. It is being substituted for gasoline not crude oil. Gasoline consumption hasn't been a big part of the reduced consumption of crude oil.

What happens when you add the SPR draw from this summer.

Haven't thought of that but 30 million barrels over several months would not make a lot of difference in the big picture. But that is gone now. I will keep tracking this and see where it leads.

Ron P.

Years later, a demand for an apology

... “Peak oil” theory also has flaws. It does not account for market efficiencies in oil use, or in fluctuations in economies. Predicting “peak oil” is as reliable a science as a five-day weather forecast for the Jersey Shore — 50 years from now.

So, no, I will not apologize for “Suburbs doomed!” They aren’t doomed. They will thrive, probably as long as people enjoy peaceful surroundings, leafy neighborhoods and the cooling power of lawns.

As for oil, it isn’t going away. There’s plenty of it. It will last for our lifetimes, our children’s and grandchildren’s and beyond.

"Stupid is as stupid does" - F.G.

From the article:

Two years later, Mexico announced it had discovered an oil field off its coast containing — ready for this? — 10 billion barrels of crude.

Interesting tactic--using Mexico, whose total petroleum liquids production fell by 23% from 2004 to 2010, with a 48% decline in net oil exports over the same time frame--as an argument against Peak Oil.

The US alone burns close to 20 million barrels a day? x365...that 10 billion wouldn't last us too long. Buys us some time if anything.

From the article:

Fossils are the fuel of the future.

Dinosaurs used to be the planetary overlords of the future.

Tom Friedman (as usual) wrote the wrong book: That Used to be Us
He should have written a book about dinosaurs called "That Will be Us"
(Subtitle: We are the fossils of the future, here is why)

image: As you can see, America has never been more liquid

As for oil, it isn’t going away. There’s plenty of it. It will last for our lifetimes, our children’s and grandchildren’s and beyond.

There's no way this ship can go down. It's unsinkable. It will always float and always take people across the Atlantic!

Well, if our children have their own children right away (say at age 12) and then we all die, then that glorious prediction becomes true. It lasted for our shortened "lifetimes" and even beyond. Yeeha Yeeha (--Strangelove)

here is another example of how predictions strangely come true: Yeeha version #2

God I hate lawns. In the aggregate, is there a more environmentally wasteful and aesthetically inane use of space than lawns?

Yes,,,,the name you're searching for here....is Golf Course.


Yair...don't know that I agree. If your time is precious there is nothing as easy to maintain as mown grass...I don't know if it qualifies as lawn.

Each to his own.

One of our concerns here is bushfire and a few litres of petrol every fortnight in the ZRT keeps us pretty safe.


New offshore turbine design to create and store energy

SeaTwirl, according to the company website, is a “new principle to store and harvest offshore wind energy. SeaTwirl uses the ocean sea water as a bearing and can therefore use cheaper and heavier materials and function as a large low speed flywheel.” This new design will allow wind power generating plants to be built without the need for a gearbox, transmission line or roller-bearings.


That's got some really interesting ideas in it.. I don't know that I'd forsake bearings altogether, considering the continual drag that the supporting column would have against the seawater, but I do like the out-of-box aspect of that feature, just the same.

Before I'd sign the check I'd like to see how this does in 30 ft chop vs the 2 ft virtual swells in the video

I think this design displays a rather typical misunderstanding of the problem of capturing energy from the wind.

The problem is that the design is not going to allow high speed rotation of the turbine, thus the vertical blades aren't going to operate efficiently, as one would expect from a Darrieus Rotor type wind energy device. As a result, the machine can be expected to operate as a drag turbine. Capturing the energy from the wind requires that the flow be slowed for the momentum exchange to occur and this tends to be a function of the cross section of the turbine. If the rotor blades are turning fast, the entire swept area can be considered the source area, but if the blades rotate slowly, then the impacted area is much smaller. I suspect that the rotational speed of this design would be too slow to capture much energy from the swept area.

The second problem is that the overall height of the turbine isn't likely to be large enough to place the blades high into the boundary layer, thus the wind speeds available are not going to be as great as might be possible. If the wind mill is high enough to reach the good winds, the horizontal force times the lever arm above the flotation structure will be quite large and thus the wind mill will tend to lean rather severely during high wind conditions. It would seem likely that the lower ring/torus might even dip into the water, with rather negative consequences. This last problem can't happen with horizontal axis machines, since the minimum height of the blade path above the water is going to be close to the tower and thus the blades can't dip below the surface if the tower is high enough to begin with.

Thirdly, the claim that there are no bearings ignores the bearings at the bottom of the mill, where the generator is connected to the anchoring cables. A large torque will be transmitted thru this bearing when generating power, which will tend to twist the anchor cables unless there is a rather wide platform of some sort to give an appropriate lever arm to provide a counter torque large enough to oppose that from the generator. The 3rd prototype, a small scale unit, looks as if it has a fixed anchor with wide arms which sit on the bottom with no cables.

In sum, this looks like a bad idea to me...

E. Swanson


Would this then be a more effective wind turbine form factor for offshore wind? It seems to make the overall costs of servicing the equipment more bearable even if the initial costs are larger and there may be some savings from the cost of power transmission given it can likely be aggregated to one single power cable.

To expand on the second point in my comment, consider the stability of the system. A marine engineer is well aware that the basic condition for stability is that the center of mass of the vessel must be below the point of action of the buoyant force on the vessel. This is especially important for a sailing vessel, since the wind on the sails produces a large force which tends to capsize the ship. For example, a sailing vessel will have a heavy keel to offset the torque produced by the wind acting on the sails and as the vessel leans toward the leeward side, the result pushes that side of the vessel below the water line and moves the point of action of the buoyant force toward the leeward direction, which further offsets the wind torque about the center of mass.

With this concept, the buoyant force is provided by the cylinder below the surface and the necessary mass lies much deeper at the bottom of the lower boom. There not going to be a significant shift in the center of buoyancy as the wind mill tips in the leeward direction. Worse, the horizontal component of the wind force must be countered by the horizontal component of force from the anchor cables. It should be obvious that the horizontal force from the cable will tend to add to the torque produced by the winds above the surface, increasing the tendency to capsize the wind mill. As a result, the size of the buoyant cylinder must be increased or the mass of the ballast at the bottom of the contraption must be increased or both. Given that the wind force increases with the square of the wind speed, designing for the worst expected wind speed would imply a rather large underwater structure.

Worse yet, there appears to be no way to stop the mill in high wind conditions, thus in a high wind situation, the mill would be rotating at maximum speed just as conditions might reach the point at which it tends to tip into the water. The mill must be solidly anchored to the bottom to maintain tension on the anchor cables, thus the effects of tides would change the elevation of the lower structure above the water on a regular basis. Add in a high storm surge with an event of tropical storm intensity and it would be easy to imagine the result would be destruction of the mill as the fast rotating lower structure and the bottom of the blades are suddenly moving thru water, not air...

E. Swanson

Then there is this idea: http://www.wwea.org/

Cairn Energy drills another dry hole in Greenland

(Reuters) - British oil explorer Cairn Energy PLC said it drilled a dry hole off the coast of Greenland, its sixth unsuccessful well in the country, denting hopes that a new multibillion barrel basin is waiting to be found in the Arctic region.

Delta-1 is the third dry hole Cairn has drilled this year, following its three unsuccessful attempts to find oil off the coast of Greenland in 2010, illustrating the difficulties in finding oil in the vast, little explored region where Cairn holds extensive acreage.

Cairn is spending around $600 million drilling in Greenland this year

Cairn Energy drills another dry hole in Greenland

That's great! I sincerely hope drilling in the Arctic will be a bust for oil and gas.

+1. One less bad news if they fail up there.

Cairn sold a very profitable operation in India to finance this ball game.How silly can you get?

So how does drilling 6 dry holes affect the USGS oil reserve estimate of 90 Gb in the Arctic? You would think that Cairn would drill their exploration wells right in the middle of the assumed reservoir. So does drilling a dry hole mean that the assumed reservoir: (1) is smaller than expected, (2) is somewhere else, or (3) doesn't exists. Maybe Rockman can fill us in.

Rockman is used to drilling in the much more favorable environment of the Gulf of Mexico. I worked for a company that ran a drilling fleet of 26 ships in the Canadian (and American) Arctic for some decades. We and our competitors spent billions and billions of mostly Canadian taxpayer dollars, drilled about 176 wells up there during the 1970's and 1980's, and of those, 175 were dry holes (i.e. uneconomic at the prices back them).

There was one good well, in fact a 1-well oil field, and we took the oil out annually from it by icebreaking tanker for years, but the field is now exhausted, and the well has been plugged and abandoned.

The fact is, we ran out of prospects before we ran out of money. We drilled everything the geologists said was likely to have oil, and while there was lots of natural gas, there wasn't much oil - and there's lots of natural gas in more convenient locations.

Another fact is that the Canadian Arctic is a much more favorable location for oil prospects than offshore Greenland. We shot seismic off Greenland (I remember processing about 6000 mag tapes of data myself) and on the basis of that, decided to give Greenland a pass. There weren't any structures that could reasonably expected to have much oil in them.

I don't really know what Cairn is doing up there, but I don't think it's working out very well for them.

Danish island of Samse achieves energy self sufficiency. A Danish dairy farmer tells how:


Here is Google Maps Street View of Samse, Denmark. Click on yellow man icon and move around to visit Samse. It is a leader in renewable energy.


Danish island of Samse achieves energy self sufficiency. A Danish dairy farmer tells how

This is typical. You have a video about someone living on a small island and talking about how energy-efficient he is, and the first thing you see in the video is him driving a large diesel tractor. Most likely the small island he lives on doesn't produce oil or refine it into diesel fuel, nor does it produce iron or manufacture it into large tractors.

Where I live, if someone talks about renewable energy, I can take them on a short walk through the woods, and point to a modest windowless building by a canal that just sits there and hums to itself. "See that? That's a 100 megawatt hydroelectric power plant. That's where I get my electricity from."

If they talk about how I won't be able to heat my house if things go bad, I can point my my nice decorative fireplace and all the trees in the back yard. Alternatively I can drive them down the highway a few minutes to a very large building with a very tall stack beside it and say, "See that, that's a natural gas processing plant".

And if they ask me how I will continue driving if there is no oil, I can drive them down the road a few more minutes to a field full of horse-head oil pumps.

People who live on small, resourceless islands will be the first victims when TSHTF. It's the people who live in areas with vast energy resources of all types that will get by.

Still trying to decipher this paragraph from the NYT article on Arctic ice shelf loss:

In addition to reducing the only environment the supports some kinds of microbial life, the breaking apart of the ice shelves may hinder plans to exploit the warming Arctic as a shipping route and an offshore oil drilling basin.

Aside from the terrible English, what the hell are they even talking about? Nowhere else does this story mention microbes at all, nor is there any one "only environment" that supports them (indeed, we find them in almost every terrestrial environment we've ever searched).

Whither journalistic standards?

Withered journalistic standards.

Canadian Arctic nearly loses entire ice shelf

Bindschadler said the loss is an indication of another threshold being passed, as well as the likely acceleration of buttressed glaciers able to flow faster into the ocean, which accelerates their contribution to global sea level.


Valero behind XL pipeline push:

...the Keystone XL pipeline would "probably not have gotten off the drawing board" if it hadn't been for Valero. The company has the biggest commitment to the pipeline, guaranteeing a TransCanada purchase of at least 100,000 barrels a day, 20 per cent of Keystone XL's capacity, until 2030.

Valero's CEO and chairman, Bill Klesse, doesn't keep his firm's business plan a secret. The big overseas market is diesel because Europeans, Latin Americans and others like the more fuel-efficient diesel engine. Valero's Port Arthur refinery can process cheap heavy crude from Canadian tar sands into high-value, ultra-low-sulfur diesel. Better still, since the refinery operates as a "foreign trade zone", it won't pay tax and custom duties on exports.

...Money talks, of course. Obama received $884,000 from the oil and gas industry during the 2008 campaign, more than any other lawmaker except John McCain. Valero throws the money around. Across 2008, 2010 and thus far in the 2012 campaign, it ranks in the top six contributors from the oil and gas industry - favouring Republicans by 80 per cent or more.


Valero would like to keep its big Port Arthur, Texas refinery running in the face of declining production from Mexico and Venezuela. The alternative is to tear it down and sell it to China for scrap value.

And Canada would like to sell more oil to the US, but if the Americans don't want it, the Chinese do. They need new oil more than they need scrap steel. It is not going to be very many years before China will be consuming more oil than the US, and Canada will be producing more oil than the US.

I see it as the end of the American Empire. There is declining American oil consumption as a result of falling economic activity, contrasted with growing Chinese consumption as the result of economic growth. Canada will sell oil from its vast oil sands to the highest bidder, which is starting to look like it will be China.

Kind of ironic that a pipeline cutting right through the US (to the Gulf), will help China to continue to grow right past the US.

This is an old article with an interesting take on the last oil bubble. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-mach...

Sorry, but this trader's banking confession was no prank
The Yes Men have been blamed for Alessio Rastani's comments on the financial crisis. But sometimes truth outdoes satire

No Yes Man!

Alessio Rastani comes clean on CNN

If you sit and wait for the governments to sort things out be prepared to wait a long time. Governments, even if they do sort things out, how long is it going to take? Economists, some economists in America say that it will be eight years before the economy goes to pre-recession periods. If that's true, let's say it's four years, are you going to wait four years? I'm not. So my advice is, look folks, act now. Do something about it. Don't just wait for these governments to sort things out. They're not going to sort things out. Are you going to wait for them? No. The big boys control what's going on here.

I thought it was interesting the way the CNN moderator right off the bat at the beginning of the interview tried to pin on Rastani the idea he had said controversial things on BBC to sell books. He didn't ask, he just presumed, then let Rastani answer for himself. Why not just let the guy have his say then ask him if he's saying these things to sell books?

Anyway, it's better than what Faux News would have done to him.

Rastani is apparently a regular at TAE.

Climate change compounds global security threat, British admiral says


As a Royal Navy admiral, Morisetti also says he sees soaring energy costs affecting the ability of governments and their military forces to be able to adequately respond to security threats.

He described how one of his former commands, the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, required an imperial gallon (1.2 U.S. gallons) of fuel to move just 12 inches. If fuel prices spike, he said, it would not be financially cost-effective to operate.

"We just couldn't do it."

Wow! That puts things in perspective. 6336 U.S. gallons per mile.

I guess that explains the U.S. use of nuclear power for their carriers!

I think the good Admiral made a mistake there...

Here are the stats for that class of carrier

Invincible Class

Anti-Submarine Fleet Carriers (CVSG)

As built:
Displacement: 16,000 tons standard ; 19,500 tons full load (20,000 tons Ark Royal)
Dimensions: 632 pp, 677.75 oa x 104.5 x 29 feet
Propulsion: 4 Rolls-Royce Olympus TMB3 Gas Turbines, 2 shafts, 94,000 shp (112,000 shp temporary maximum)
Speed: 28 knots
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 18 knots ; 3,000 tons fuel oil

So, 3000 tons of oil is about 860,000 US gal of oil. At the max range of 5000 nautical miles (5600 statute miles) this works out to 153 gallons per mile.
So, for 1.2 US gallons, the ship moves about 40 feet, or, for 12 inches it uses 0.025 gallons.

The admiral is out by a factor of forty, and at any oil price, operating a ship that inefficient would be uneconomical!

I'm guessing he never worked in the fleet supply department or he would have known, intuitively, how wrong that number is

Thanks, it did seem a bit much. However, never having driven one......

I actually got to 'drive' the Nimitz for about five minutes as part of my surface warfare qualls. I even got to make a 5 degree course change; fingertip control of 100,000 tons. I was tempted to cut a few doughnuts around the Atlantic, but the helmsman relieved me.....dang it. Carriers were considered shore duty for us bubbleheads ;-)

Sept 29 "The Wichita Eagle" newspaper has a front page article "Gas below $3 predicted" a big picture which I find amusing as a girl smiles as she's pumping gas in the lower left corner the other nozzle has an out of service cover sign aka no gas.For two month I've been noticing the out of service covers on one or two pumps at almost every station.

I have noticed covers over pumps around here, too. My guess is that demand destruction means that less pumps are needed. Probably start seeing a smattering of gas stations shut down if the economy doesn't bounce back and imports pick up.

OTOH, Pemex are building several new stations near me. (after I got rid of the car too, rats!)


Has anyone ever considered that AI might be the antichrist?? No offense if you're reading.

I tried to click on a Google news link, but it didn't work. What caught my eye were the words, The Quest questioned. Dannny boy (3 yergins for a barrel please, and don't pay any attention to my past painfully wrong oil price predictions which just happened to all be way too low) is the Author of 'The Quest'.

So I did a Google search using the words: 'The Quest questioned', and here are those extensive search results.


Articles by EV World, Grist, Energy Bulletin, failinggracefully.com, and many more. Yergin might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the major MSM outlets like CNBC, but the more inedependent sources know the truth and are trying to let the people know about his lack of credibility.

Utilities Give Away Power

The 15 mile-per-hour winds that buffeted northern Germany on July 24 caused the nation’s 21,600 windmills to generate so much power that utilities such as EON AG and RWE AG (RWE) had to pay consumers to take it off the grid.

Rather than an anomaly, the event marked the 31st hour this year when power companies lost money on their electricity in the intraday market because of a torrent of supply from wind and solar parks. The phenomenon was unheard of five years ago.

NEED MOAR Storage!