Drumbeat: November 2, 2011

Russia oil output hits new high after duty cut

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Cuts in the export duty pushed Russia's oil production, the world's largest, to a post-Soviet high of 10.34 million barrels per day (bpd) in October, the Energy Ministry said on Wednesday.

This compared with a previous record high of 10.30 million bpd hit in September.

But gas output at the world's top producer, Gazprom , slumped year-on-year on the back of high gas prices.

Russia has kept ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude producer. Last month the kingdom's output declined to 9.4 million bpd from 9.5 million bpd, according to a Reuters survey.

Crude Gains on European Debt Crisis Talks as U.S. Fuel Stockpiles Decline

Oil rose in New York for the first time in four days on speculation European leaders will push Greece to accept their rescue plan, reducing the chances the region’s debt crisis will worsen and curb economic growth.

Futures rose as much as 1.1 percent, reversing a decline of 1.3 percent, as European leaders prepared to tell Greece there is no alternative to budget cuts in their bailout plan. Gasoline and distillate-fuel stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, probably fell for a fifth week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before an Energy Department report today. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recommended investors buy long-dated crude futures in New York and London.

Cost of gasoline drops one cent in the last week

WASHINGTON — U.S. gasoline prices dipped for the second straight week, falling one penny a gallon, the Energy Department said Monday.

The national price of regular unleaded gasoline dropped to $3.45 a gallon in the week ending Monday, the agency said in its weekly survey of service stations.

Growth in Asia threatens to backfire

Asian countries could become a victim of their own success as strong economic growth pushes oil prices higher.

Frontline to Sell Three Crude Oil Tankers, CEO Jensen Martin Jensen Says

Frontline Ltd., the oil tanker operator led by Norway-born billionaire John Fredriksen, said it’s looking to sell three more 1990s-built ships as the company modernizes its fleet while earnings plunge.

Oil price fails to rattle Opec

The first signs of an Opec consensus start to emerge ahead of next month's meeting.

Pendulum swings on American oil independence

The true significance of the oil rush, however, will be felt far beyond this rural state on the Canadian border. Along with similar booms that are under way or expected across North America, from Alberta to Texas, it is a development that holds profound implications for the economy of the US and its status as superpower. In prospect is energy independence – a decades-old dream of American politicians of all stripes.

“Over the past couple of years, there has been a great U-turn in US oil supply,” says Daniel Yergin of IHS Cera, the research group. “Until recently, the question was whether oil imports would flatten out. Now we are seeing a major rebalancing of supplies.”

The Oil Map of the World Is Shifting to the West

The technological breakthroughs in seismology and fracking are allowing access to reserves unknown just a few years ago, putting the lie to the now-discredited theme of “peak oil” developed by M. King Hubbert in 1956 and considered an unchangeable conclusion as to when production of oil will reach its peak and then begin its decline (with all manner of negative effects predicted following that peak). This discredited theme has often been used to push for alternative energy development efforts, especially by — but not limited to — the present administration in Washington.

A halloween chart: the ghost of gas past

In the spirit of Halloween I wanted to find a really terrifying chart; something that would expose a disturbing trend lurking within the fog of the usual dark market chatter; something that would upset gullible balance sheets and income statements for years to come; something that would scare the pants off unsuspecting oil and gas executives – or at least unwary investors.

After rummaging through my data closet, I found Figure 1. I was sure it would do the trick. But I’m also thinking it might be a treat. Trick or treat? Let’s take a cautious peek behind the numbers.

Shell lifts force majeure on Nigerian Forcados oil

Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian venture has lifted a force majeure on exports of Forcados crude following the completion of repairs to a pipeline, Shell said on Wednesday.

Shell Petroleum Development Co. had declared force majeure on Forcados loadings in October, November and December on Oct. 10 because it had to shut down some production because of a sabotage attack on the Trans Forcados Pipeline.

Royal Dutch Shell: ‘Unprecendented’ number of oil thefts target its Nigeria operation

LAGOS, Nigeria — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says its Nigerian subsidiary faces an “unprecedented” level of oil thefts targeting its operation in the oil-rich African nation.

Shell said in a statement Wednesday that it has seen 10 spills caused by theft since the end of August. The company said it had to shut its Imo River field in August, which produces about 25,000 barrels of oil a day.

Nigeria: Reps to Investigate Illegal Bunkering

The House of Representatives has resolved to conduct an investigation into the activities of illegal bunkering in the coastal region.

The investigation which will be conducted by a joint committee of Navy and Petroleum Resources, will also unravel the owners of the illegal vessels in Nigeria, the patrons of illegal crude in the international market and the role of security agents in the activity. Moving a motion on the matter during Tuesday's plenary session, chairman of the committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations, Hon Daniel Reyenieju, said that he was worried that people involved in bunkering activities were causing harm to government installations and revenue through its constant vandalism and theft of hundreds of thousands of barrels of the nation's crude oil.

Oil minister Jaipal Reddy hopes for fuel price review this month

He said revenue losses of India's oil marketing companies because of sales at subsidised rates are expected to hover at Rs 1.3 trillion ($26.38 billion) in this fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.

Iran sacks oil manager over dual citizenship

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has fired the head of an oil company because he was discovered to have dual nationality -- a sensitive issue after a top bank manager fled to Canada during a huge fraud scandal, the Vatan-e Emrouz daily reported on Wednesday.

GAIL India eyes $1 bln shale gas assets

(Reuters) - State-run gas utility GAIL India aims to invest $1 billion in one year's time in shale gas assets, particularly in the United States and Canada, its chairman and managing director said on Wednesday.

Gazprom says gas will flow to S.Korea in '17-reports

Analysts are skeptical about the prospect of Russian gas supplies to South Korea by a pipeline as it has to go through the territory of Seoul's old adversary, North Korea.

State Department Defends Contractor Chosen for Pipeline Study

The State Department defended its decision to award a sensitive environmental impact study on the Keystone XL pipeline to a company that had previous ties to TransCanada, the company seeking a permit for the 1,700-mile project, which would run from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

In a written response Monday to Congressional inquiries, the department said the perception that Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor in Houston, had a conflict of interest was based on a misunderstanding.

Reactor in Japan Restarts, a First Since the Tsunami

TOKYO — A nuclear reactor in western Japan began starting back up on Tuesday after a month’s hiatus, the first reactor in the country closed for any reason to win approval from a local government to resume operations since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tepco Detects Signs of Nuclear Fission at Fukushima, Raising Risk of Leaks

Tokyo Electric Power Co. detected signs of nuclear fission at its crippled Fukushima atomic power plant, raising the risk of increased radiation emissions. No increase in radiation was found at the site and the situation is under control, officials said.

The company, known as Tepco, began spraying boric acid on the No. 2 reactor at 2:48 a.m. Japan time to prevent accidental chain reactions, according to an e-mailed statement today. The detection of xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, was confirmed today by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s atomic regulator said.

Japan lawmaker drinks water from Fukushima plant

A Japanese lawmaker has drunk a glass of water taken from a radioactive puddle inside a reactor building at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in a bid to prove decontamination efforts are working.

Inside the Tesla Model S

When Tesla Motors begins sales of the Model S sedan next year it'll be a huge move. The "boutique" electric car maker will go from selling a relative handful of its two-seat roadsters to tens of thousands of these much bigger -- but also much less expensive -- four-door cars.

If the Model S takes off, it'll be because drivers have made a big move, too. There has simply never been another car like this one. Yes, the Model S is a plug-in electric car that uses no gasoline, but that's just the start.

Peer-to-peer car sharing gains investors, users

SAN FRANCISCO – Thousands of drivers are borrowing cars from newfound friends for an hourly fee — and companies, both big and small, want in on the trend.

Google and General Motors have followed venture-capital firms in investing in the burgeoning peer-to-peer car-sharing movement, where start-up firms such as Getaround and RelayRides — the two most popular services — are changing the way consumers rent cars.

Chris Martenson: Peak Oil Could Limit Economic Growth

The next 20 years are going to be completely unlike the last two decades. How the world works, how stocks grow, the very nature of investing and how our economy functions—all of these are due for fundamental, earth-shaking change. As investors, we have to adjust the way we look at the world.

Condo at the End of the World

A new breed of survivalist is wealthy, educated, and plans to ride out 2012 in style.

A Marine Learns an Important Truth about the Empire

America faces a crisis far more dire than any it has faced before. The peak oil-induced end of the era of economic growth and the beginning of the period of permanent economic contraction will mean a free-for-all scramble by the elites to secure for themselves as much of the country’s remaining wealth as possible.

Think New Clean Energy Costs too Much? Oil Cost $500 a Barrel at Startup

We are only hearing one side of this story, as conservatives bemoan the “cost” of investing in new sources of energy like solar and wind, as if dirty energy didn’t cost anything to start up too.

But a contemporary account of startup costs in the the 19th century oil business is revelatory.

Japan Has More Opportunity to Use Ethanol, Nansei Chief Says

Japan has more opportunity to use ethanol as the nation’s nuclear reactors are idled, according to Nansei Sekiyu K.K.

Brazil Lacks Sugar Cane to Boost Ethanol Exports, Senator Says

Brazilian sugar cane producers, which are preparing to increase ethanol exports to the U.S., don’t make enough of the renewable fuel to do so, a lawmaker said.

Residents fail to halt research into Scarborough Bluffs wind power

A device implanted in Lake Ontario to measure wind will stay put for another year, despite opposition from residents who want to end the prospect of wind turbines off the Scarborough bluffs.

European Bank Lending Squeeze Begins to Curb Solar-Panel Demand

European banks are tightening credit lines for solar power developers, reducing demand for photovoltaic panels in the world’s largest market for the technology, two of the industry’s biggest suppliers said.

Singapore to Install Floating Solar System in Trial Project

Singapore’s Economic Development Board and national water agency PUB will install a 2-megawatt floating photovoltaic pilot project at Tengeh Reservoir, the EDB said today in a statement.

Energy Department couldn’t manage stimulus money, watchdog says

The federal watchdog who first raised concerns over the federal loan program used for the now-defunct solar company Solyndra is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday--his first appearance since the story broke.

Gregory H. Friedman is slated to tell lawmakers that the Energy Department‘s efforts to quickly distribute $35.2 billion in economic stimulus funding “was more challenging than many had originally envisioned.”

U.N. Says 7 Billion Now Share the World

Feeling claustrophobic? You’re not alone. According to United Nations demographers, 6,999,999,999 other Earthlings potentially felt the same way on Monday when the world’s population topped seven billion. But if you’d rather go by the United States Census Bureau’s projections, you’ve got some breathing room. The bureau estimates that even with the world’s population increasing by 215,120 a day, it won’t reach seven billion for about four months.

Seven billion people can’t afford a failure to communicate

As the world welcomed a seven billionth person this week it prompted questions of just how many people can the planet sustain. It’s a subject that inevitably winds its way to questions of peak oil and our use other non-renewable resources.

7 Billion Reasons Malthus Was Wrong

You’d think after 200 years, folks would eventually say, “That Malthus guy? Kind of wrong.” Yet, with the (projected) birth today of the world’s 7 billionth occupant, there’s no shortage of media hand-wringing about the dim prospects of our world from here.

The sustainability challenge of seven billion

Strategies for managing resources need to be revised. We need an 'energy revolution' that is as radical and even more rapid than the industrial revolution - we need to steer away from fossil fuels and move towards renewables and energy conservation.

The End Of Global Economic Growth

The basic premise of The End of Growth is that the world economy has flat-lined. Not only is it contracting, rather than expanding as many politicians claim, but there are important reasons why it will never return to the pre-2007 growth rates that characterized the last century.

Mending Dr PEMBy’s broken ladder

Just imagine for a few moments what the symptoms of a world at the limits to growth might include. Not just any world though, but one that has an economy that is global in nature, hyper-complex, industrial in form, credit driven, consumes resources (many of which are non-renewable) at an exponentially growing rate, and its financial system is designed around perpetual economic growth.

If this global economy was reaching the limits to growth it would be reasonable to expect that there would be warning signs. Symptoms that all was not well. Some possible symptoms, in no particular order, might include: Increased volatility in financial markets, whether they be in stocks, bonds, commodities, or precious metals; debt increasing to the point where the interest payments place a significant burden on society; increasing scarcity of key natural resources; increasing cost of living pressures on families and communities; increasing conflict between capital and labour; increasing political instability both in and between nations; increasing costs of dealing with the pollution caused by economic activity; and increasing difficulty in maintaining existing infrastructure and services.

A brief survey of news headlines around the world suggests that all of these symptoms currently exist to a greater or lesser degree.

Transport expert promotes zero emissions trains

If the price on carbon works as it's supposed to, it will change the way we transport people and goods across the country.

And if it doesn't then 'peak oil' might kick in for us.

U.S. readings challenge China's smog claims

(CNN) -- Beijing residents blanketed by smog are pointing to U.S. readings on pollution levels -- and slamming official reports from the Chinese government.

Workers try to turn Asian carp into fertilizer

LASALLE, Ill. - Workers along the Illinois River are hunting for invasive fish to turn into organic fertilizer, fillets and other commercial products.

The hope is to reduce the population of Asian carp threatening the Great Lakes. Originally imported to cleanse ponds in the South, Asian carp made it into Mississippi River waterways and have traveled north. The voracious fish can starve other species by consuming their food.

Stone-Washed Blue Jeans (Minus the Washed)

SAN FRANCISCO — From the cotton field in rural India to the local rag bin, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, Levi Strauss & Company says, or enough to fill about 15 spa-size bathtubs. That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home.

The company wants to reduce that number any way it can, and not just to project environmental responsibility. It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company’s very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce.

Breaking a Long Silence on Population Control

Major American environmental groups have dodged the subject of population control for decades, wary of getting caught up in the bruising politics of reproductive health.

Yet, virtually alone, the Center for Biological Diversity is breaking the taboo by directly tying population growth to environmental problems through efforts like giving away condoms in colorful packages depicting endangered animals. The idea is to start a debate about how overpopulation crowds out species and hastens climate change — just when the world is welcoming Baby No. 7 Billion.


Odd health problems of all sorts are springing up in Japan, especially among children.


TEPCO finds sign of fresh nuclear fission at Fukushima reactor

TOKYO, Nov. 2, Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday there may be signs of fresh nuclear fission in the No. 2 reactor at its quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant and that it has begun injecting boric acid to control a possible nuclear reaction.

There has been no change in the temperature, pressure and radiation levels at the reactor, whose nuclear fuel is believed to have melted when the cooling system failed following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the utility known as TEPCO said.

Gas samples taken Tuesday from inside the reactor's containment vessel may contain radioactive xenon, a gas typically generated by nuclear fission, the company said.'


And to add to the other articles on population above:


"As world population hits 7 billion, megacities pose growing risks"

Growing populations are also driving another mega trend — urbanisation through migration. In 1800, less than 3 percent of the population lived in cities (mainly in Europe), yet by the end of 2008, this had risen to more than 50 percent (much higher still in Europe), and there were 26 megacities (cities of 10 million or more inhabitants), including Moscow, Paris and London.

Despite the economic success of megacities, governments at every level are preparing for the growing risks that these massive urban centres pose. For instance, will it be possible to continually meet the everyday needs of food, water and health, and also deal with the growing vulnerability of megacities to environmental stresses exacerbated by the effects of climate change?

There is already cause for some alarm. For instance, the 2003 heat-wave in Paris was so devastating because both the public and authorities were unprepared for dealing with such extreme weather conditions, which were exacerbated by building practices, especially the lack of air-conditioning. Moreover, the tsunami in Japan this year forced Tokyo to re-consider its approach to nuclear power and to protecting its cities.


Should we be eating fish from the Pacific? My kids like fish sticks (Pollock/Cod from Alaska)... Would it be in my best interest to find an alternate source of omega 3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA)? I'm not sure their growing bodies need a significant intake of Cs-137 or Sr-90...

We did that here.

But we are paranoids and our tin-foil reserve is getting smaller.

I take 4000 mg of fish oil each day on my doctor's advice. But I also love fish. Most of the restaurant fish I eat come from Captain D's and I never know what kind it is. I know there is mercury and other nasty stuff in a lot of fish but I just try not to think about it. I cannot get paranoid about everything I eat, but perhaps I should.

As a side note, Alaskan black cod aren't actually cod! They're really sablefish and only resemble codfish. True cod are only found in the Atlantic.

Ron P.

Didn't know that about Cod...oops!

Not sure if eating radioactive fish is any worse then when we eat walleye out of the Mississippi River :) Wish I had a spring fed pond full of bluegills.

It helps to live in a place where you can walk to the nearest lake (or is it pond?) for fishing.

I live close to a beautiful lake, unfortunately heaps of old gold mine tailings up the river have contaminated the lake with mercury and we are advised not to eat the fish. Seems you can't escape industrial pollution.

On a more serious note, there are some good simulations in regard to fallout over the pacific.

Atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides from the Fukushima-Daichii nuclear power plant

It has a nice flash movie.

Should we be eating fish from the Pacific?

Depends on who you want to believe. If the pro-nuke posters who say 'no harm from radiation' are who you want to believe, then the radiological effects are not a concern. If you choose to believe radiation-protection specialist Shunichi Yamashita, MD, PhD, sparked outrage when he told people in Fukushima, Japan: “The effects of radiation do not come to people who are happy and laughing, they come to people who are weak-spirited.” and these fish make you smile along with adding strength to your spirit - well eat up!

One could also think about the effects of overfishing/industrial fishing operations on the biosphere, the concentration of PCBs/synthetic hormone analogues in fish due to the plastic/PCB/prey interactions and make a choice based on that.

I'm not sure their growing bodies need a significant intake of Cs-137 or Sr-90.

Perhaps the pro-nukers will remind us all how intake of such is healthy.

Worry more about what else they put into those fish sticks, read the lable.


Hi daddy

Apparently there are vegetarian and even vegan sources for these:


(Lots to learn...speaking for myself.)

TEPCO: Reactor may have gone critical

TEPCO says the findings suggest that nuclear fission may have occurred recently, not just after the March 11th accident, and that a state of criticality could have occurred temporarily in some areas..

From Tepco via World Nuclear News word is out that the Xenon comes from spontaneous natural fission and we should not worry about a thing.

And here's details of TEPCO's latest fiddle to try and play this down

Xenon Detection in Reactor 2: Different Detection Limits on Different Days at Different Sampling Locations

Spontaneous fission, says TEPCO, the NISA says they cannot rule out criticality, and no one cares as no one believes either of them.

Here's another reason not to believe them, or take their words at face value: TEPCO tested at different locations and for different durations for the nuclides in the gas that was sucked out of the CV of Reactor 2.

Xenon in Reactor 2: TEPCO Now Says "Spontaneous Fission" of Curium

After confidently saying it may have been criticality in the press conference on November 2, TEPCO's Matsumoto now says it is spontaneous fission of curium in the reactor.

On the other hand, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was skeptical of criticality yesterday, now says, "We cannot rule out the possibility of localized criticality."

OK it's a "good cop, bad cop" routine, or a "covering all the bases" approach. If both "spontaneous fission" and "criticality" are mentioned in the same news, the Japanese government/TEPCO can say "See, we told you, either way."

Occasional criticality or fizzling just sub-critical? Whatever happened it was enough for TEPCO to hold a press conference in the middle of the night Japanese time and rapidly inject Boric Acid.

I was just reading an article in the NY Times this morning about car sales: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/business/auto-sales-defy-economic-woes...

A big contributing factor was a surge in sales of pickup trucks at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The auto companies also reported strong sales of traditional S.U.V.’s and crossover models.

This really surprised me - I would have thought that smaller cars might be the bulk of the sales. Perhaps consumers have become accustomed to gas over $3 per gallon? Cars last a long time - a bad choice now could have big economic repercussions in the future.

An auto is an eaiser give back than a house.

And you can live in it. And, if I was going to live in it, I would splurge for the roomier SUV.

Go with a Sprinter van. I could fit my whole family in the back of there. Our new home would be a WalMart parking lot.


Cool! You could buy chips and protest their existence without driving a mile.

Anyway, I was thinking of a volkswagen minibus. We had one when I was a trick or treater. They have a little kitchen and a pop up top for a cot bed. Watch out for snow though, I almost got smashed up there.

They just got through ripping down an old Hummer dealer near where I am - I suppose you could say that it is the end of an error.

But it is the beginning of a new one - the space will in fact become the parking lot for a new WalMart.

Good one: 'error' = 'era' :-)
And both quite apt!

I helped a friend design the interior of his Sprinter, which is his home. He has a 230W PV panel on the roof which powers his refrigerator, and his magnetic induction cooktop. His lighting is LED. It's well insulated and he can heat it with a small electric heater, also powered by the sun.

He actually has a second PV panel for the roof, but has never gotten around to mounting it as the one has proved sufficient.

His house gets 30 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel.

Do you have pictures that you wouldn't mind sharing?

I can get some. Send your email address to riban conbajos at the gmail dot com and I'll see what I can do. I've got some drawing files of different floor plans we worked out too if you're interested.

In our area of No. Cal. a couple hours north of SF, I have seen an amazing amount of new F150's. In fact Ford has discontinued or plans to discontinue the mid-size truck the Ranger because it doesn't sell enough units. So people are buying bigger. Don't ask me why.

Well, that is pretty simple. The Ranger mid-size pickup even with the small 4 cylinder engine only got 15-18 MPG. The new Ford F-150 with the V-6 ecoboost engine (that has more power than the V-8's!) gets 20-22 MPG or better. Why drive the small one when you can get better milage with a full size one?

I got 20-22 mpg with my 93 Ranger, V6.

'05 Ranger 4WD 4.0 OHC: 18/24. Ranger diesels have been available outside the US for years.

I know several people who drive Ranger trucks, and all of them , including the 4x4 v6 models, consistently get at least 15 mpg overall even on mountian roads.It has been my experience that the two wheel drive four cylinder Rangers get real world mileage of around 18 to 20 mpg under typical conditions including short trips and stop and go driving and 25 or so on long trips if driven at sixty to sixty five mph.

This is still not as good as my elderly Toyota, which bests the much later model Ranger that belongs to my nephew on the same 200 mile trip driven within sight of each other, filling to the cap at the same stations, by a couple of mpg.But his truck is far more spacious and comfortable than mine.We have a 91 model Ranger with the 4.0 v6 five speed (fuel injected and computerized) and a high ratio (low engine rpm) rear axle that will consistently get 26 mpg on a long trip at legal speeds, and it will climb a mountian grade on the interstate in fourth gear with a heavy load with plenty of reserve power.

If it had enough power to "wind out" and I were foolish enough to try to drive it so fast, it would do 160 mph before the tach hit the redline in fifth gear.I expect it would be extremely dangerous at any speed past about 100 mph due to the boxy shape, poor wieght distribution,truck type tires, and so forth, even on an empty wide open flat and smooth freeway.I took it up to that once back when I was still young enough to feel somewhat immortal, and it began to feel unstable , which is why I let off of it at that point.(In my younger days, just about all my friends had fast cars, and we drove them hard on many occasions, right up to the limits of what they were capable of.Most of us lived over this pasttime, but a few of us lost our driver's licesnes for a number of years.)

I would not be suprised if this truck would get very close to 30 mpg if I were to drive it at a steady forty five to fifty on a level road but I have never had the patience to try and find out if this is true. Even with gas at four bucks, this would cost a lot more more in working time than it saved in cash.

I installed one of these...
...really helps with hyper-miling. BTW, Mac, what's your hurry?

I seldom REALLY hurry anymore, but if I am out on the interstate with the truck,my time is worth more than I can save on gas by slowing down, so I drive the speed limit, conditions permitting..on rural highways I generally run from about thirty to fifty, but none of the ones I drive are very good roads and that is as fast as I judge to be safe.

Back when I was young, the howl of a v8 winding out was sweeter music than any other.

In those days, the Chevy dealer would fix your abused 396 Chevelle under warranty, so long as you didn't modify the car.

I don't know if the people who are still buying big SUV's and pickup trucks are going to think it was such a good idea if they find themselves paying $10/gallon for gasoline in the not-too-distant future. If that occurs, odds are they will not be able to afford to buy a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle to replace it.

Count how many times you see "consumer" in the article vs. , say, "people" or "Americans."

Language matters. "Consumer" is a fundamentally dehumanizing word, because it implies that human beings are mere cog in an economic machine that must keep on churning. I hate that word.

What's interesting, though, is that the Chevy Cruze was amongst the winners, and that is certainly a reasonably efficient car.

But otherwise, I suspect auto sales will be depressed for a long time. Nothing to see here really. The usual suspects buying new guzzlers, a few people trying to become efficient, and the majority sitting on the sidelines.

Language matters.

Oilman Sachs, good point. It will make me pause and think before I use the word "Consumer".

I can remember in the UK when we didn't generally call people "consumers". The BBC wouldn't use the "C word" in UK reports but would explain it was some strange US terminology for "people" when covering reports from the USA using the term.

That seems a long time ago now.

I just noticed today that gas at my neighborhood station is $2.85/gal. It has jumped from #3.36 to $2.96 then over a couple of days back to $3.32, and now back down to $2.85 currently. These price swings above have occurred over spans from 3 days to three weeks.

Any theories on the price volatility?

Story this morning in the main newspaper here in Wisconsin on mining in the northern part of the state. They have found "elevated" (there was no baseline reading before the mine opened) of zinc and copper in a stream on the property. The mine was open in the 1990's and has since closed and been reclaimed. This mine produced significant amounts of copper, silver and gold.

before(bottom) and after

If we want more wind turbines, solar panels, we are going to need copper.


This comes up, because they want to open new mines in the northern part of the state.

That bottom image looks like a festering wound argh !!

it's because we have already ate away all out high concentration deposits that we have to dig up tons of earth to sift and process it to get a few pounds of the stuff.

Specific Policy Points
Climate change and peak oil

In order to reduce greenhouse emissions and move away from reliance on dwindling oil supplies, the Green Party supports:

Investigating the role of renewable energy for public transport, other essential transport services, air and marine transport, and our main industries.
Developing fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles entering New Zealand.
Introducing a carbon charge on fossil fuels, and using the revenue to reduce income tax on the bottom band, for everyone.

Did I just see a medium sized political party mention peak oil??!?!


Do you think TOD had anything to do with this?

Most political parties can not admit to PEAK OIL, because this would lead to an obvious logical conclusion that the problem is population growth. I can see it now:

My plan is to have every family with even addresses abstain from having children.


My plan is to have all women born between 1981 and 1995 be sterilized. OK, and men.

I don't think logical conclusions actually mean anything. Climate Change mitigation has been a logical conclusion for a long long time.

Personally I think that Democracy has been a failure in the face of the challenges it hasn't met thus far. Effectively every major problem has been deferred to the next generation. Talking about population controls in a democracy would probably go down as well as mandating a kick to the balls or a cunt punt as applicable to every man and woman.

It seems every society has social taboos.

Population control and family planning seem to be a very large political taboo in the US.

To be a devil's advocate on this: Why should politics and leadership discuss it? Should the number of children be a leadership function enforced on the populace?

My opinion is that it should not be directly controlled. I would be a bit more comfortable with governmental policies of: 'tax behaviors to discourage, and give incentives for behaviors to encourage.'


We in the U.S. currently do exactly what you say...we designed features of our tax code to encourage folks to have children...almost all of my life there has been tax credits for squiddos.

Other programs besides Federal Income Tax credits:

The U.S. military pays folks a bigger housing allowance if they have 'dependents'.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children is a social welfare program keyed to taking care of the child-units.

Our society at least pays lip service to enforcing child support from divorced parents.

Kids sometimes can stay free at hotels...there was a time they flew for half-off on some airlines.

Kids still eat for free at some restaurants some of the time (getting rare).

Subsidized day care in some places (getting rarer).

Maybe tax breaks for kids and churches should end, and parents and congregations can stand on their own feet without crutches?

I like kids and most seem to like me (same with animals)...I just happen to think that an average of 2 children for each women per lifetime is reasonable and prudent. My wife and I practiced what I just preached (two squids and the vasectomy)...and my parents had me and my brother.

Most national green parties have been aware of peak oil for a long time.

Most of them do not talk loudly about it , because even green parties try to spin a positive message to the general public.

It might not be particularly wide spread, but it does feel like it is gaining traction in Germany. For example a couple of days ago (10/25/11), the Green party presented in the German federal state parliament of Saxony ( http://www.peakoil.de/ ) a study on "Peak Oil, The challenges for Saxony" by the recently founded Postfossil Institute ( http://www.postfossilinstitut.de ). I have read somewhere they want to do the same on the national level, too.


Mending Dr PEMBy’s broken ladder is a great synopsis of what I see as our current systemic condition:

In normal times the feedback between the various systems provides buffering. So when a system collapses, the feedback from other systems at different phases in the adaptive cycle both limit the depth of the collapse and assist in its reorganisation. There is a danger however. When enough systems reach the collapse phase simultaneously, this result can be a very deep collapse from which recovery is either impossible or very slow.

This is the difficult prospect that we face. Not only are there a number of chronic symptoms afflicting the global economy but many of them appear to be approaching the collapse phase simultaneously. Examples include the increasingly erratic climate, the global peaking of crude oil production, the debt crises of many countries and the increasing difficulty of our politicians and the political system to address our current ills. This has the potential to lead to a deep and comparatively rapid collapse of many of the systems that we currently rely upon.

This is the basis of my doomerist tendencies, and why I focus on "replacing broken rungs", at least locally...

The prospect of a deep collapse is magnified by society’s tendency to, as Ronald Wright author of A Short History of Progress describes it, kick out the rungs beneath us as we climb the ladder of progress.

...and why I consider efforts to reinforce rungs that are inherently broken (economic growth, fission energy, factory agriculture, suburbs, fossil fuels) to be counterproductive and futile. These systems are unsalvagable.

Hi Ghung

Suburbs, too?

The Ruins of the Unsustainable

Far-flung exurban areas have swallowed up miles of greenfield, replacing farmland and woods with pavement and lawns, and costing taxpayers a fortune in what's possibly the least efficient form of infrastructure: providing utilities and public services to a small number of people spread out over an large area. The social impacts of sprawl are arguably just as harmful. Sprawl is unhealthy for people who live in it. And as we know from the Housing & Transportation Affordability Index, people who have to drive everywhere they go are at an economic disadvantage, as well.

Now, due to increasing awareness of these issues, changing social and demographic trends, and a dramatic economic shift, the suburbs – once the American Dream – have fallen from grace. According to leading thinkers like Arthur C. Nelson and Christopher B. Leinberger, the majority of Americans no longer desire to live in auto-dependent suburban environments. Given the chance, many would trade large suburban houses for the walkability of an urban neighborhood. Middle-class North Americans are already beginning to move in large numbers back into central cities, while property values on the suburban fringe have plummeted.

....so, yeah... and I agree with Kunstler as well on this:

“The suburbs have three destinies, none of them exclusive: as materials salvage, as slums, and as ruins.”

There are many ways of describing the fiasco of suburbia, but these days I refer to it as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

I say this because American suburbia requires an infinite supply of cheap energy in order to function and we have now entered a permanent global energy crisis that will change the whole equation of daily life. Having poured a half-century of our national wealth into a living arrangement with no future — and linked our very identity with it — we have provoked a powerful psychology of previous investment that will make it difficult for us to let go, change our behavior, and make other arrangements.

Compounding the problem is the fact that we ditched our manufacturing economy for a suburban sprawl building economy (a.k.a. “the housing bubble”), meaning we came to base our economy on building even more stuff with no future.

This is a hell of a problem, since it is at once economic, socio-political, and circumstantial.

I try never to get into debates on the safety of nuclear power but I do often quote articles stating how many thousands of deaths coal powered power plants cost each year like this one.

Deadly power plants? Study fuels debate Thousands of early deaths tied to emissions

I would never argue that nuclear plants are not deadly, but the question is; which is more deadly, coal or nuclear? The question is rhetorical, I have never studied any comparison. But if anyone has, I would love to read it.

But what about China? China building more power plants

China is now building about two power stations every week, the top climate change official at the UK Foreign Office, John Ashton, has said.

He said there was no point blaming China for rising global CO2 emissions.

I had to smile at that last sentence. Anyway China is also going great guns at building nuclear power plants, though not nearly as fast as they are building coal fired power plants.

Nuclear Power in China

Mainland China has 14 nuclear power reactors in operation, more than 25 under construction, and more about to start construction soon.
Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give a five- or six-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 60 GWe by 2020, then 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050.
China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

As a side note, GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain unaware China has nukes

Cain: "They've indicated that they're trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat."

China conducted its first test of a nuclear device on October 16th... 1964.

;-)... Ron P.

Cain was unaware that he had sexually harrassed anyone as well. Methinks he's toast, politically. The GOP Circus continues...

As for coal vs. nuclear; choosing our evils is the nature of many debates these days. Tiresome it is, though I suppose that has been our lot for millenia. As you point out, we'll be the 'beneficiaries' of both coal and nuclear for as long as either of us will live.

I used to think nukes were an absolutely necessary part of the future energy picture, and I had no real no problem accepting the risk benefit model;the risks are gigantic, but so are the benefits.

But I was simply knocked flat on my backside by the shortcomings of the design of the Japanese reactors which failed so miserably due to a tsunami.

I would not have been so surprised if had I heard the old Soviet govt, or some hard up third world country, had built reactors in such an entirely unsuitable spot, and cut sio many corners, but .....

It has taken me quite some time to think this whole business over but in the end I have come to some firm, contradictory conclusions.

One, nuclear power is here to stay.Western Europe, Japan,the US, and maybe a couple of other countries will probably not build any new reactors for quite some time, but the rest of the world WILL go nuclear, and there is nothing we can do to stop it from doing so.

Two, the risks, while terrible to contemplate, are probably no worse than the known but generally ignored (outside the environmental community) risks associated with burning an ever increasing amount of coal every year for as long as the coal lasts.

Three, human nature never changes.Speaking as an armchair historian, I can say with conviction that in the long run, any large country with an overwhelming technological or other advantage will eventually set itself up as the master of an empire.

Right now, that is, or until very recently has been, the US;we are an empire without a doubt, but of a different sort than past empires, for the most part, more commercial, less militaristic- we mostly treat our "colonies" better than past empires have theirs.

If we lose our dominant position in the world, things may go pretty hard for us;the masters of the next empire may play hardball.

Four, the world is inherently a dangerous place, and risks cannot be calculated on the basis of simple trade offs such as nuclear pollution risks versus coal pollution risks.

Eventually , we will find ourselves embroiled in a REAL WAR (apologies to those who think of Iraq and Afghanistan as such, but these are tempest in a teakettle affairs-nothing to dismiss lightly, but in WWII there were more people killed in a day, or an hour, on some occasions, than die in a year in both of those countries) for resources.A country with a robust nuclear power base, such as France has now, is at far smaller short term to medium term risk from such a war;such a country might even be able to avoid such a war by being better positioned to defend itself, and in less need of desperate measures such as seizing the territory and resources of a neighbor.

And yes, I do realize that we are engaged in honest to God( low level) resource wars at this very moment in "sand country";I just object to the word war being downgraded to the point most of us have forgotten what it really means.

I can foresee possible situations arising where the existence of an up and running nuke could mean the difference between the water, sewer, and refrigerators in a major city either working-or not working.
Think about that for a minute.

I have concluded that we probably are damned if we do, and quite possibly damned for sure if we don't, go ahead with a new generation of better designed and better sited nukes.

It just does not seem at all likely to me that renewable energy can ever come on fast enough to take the place of depleting ff.

Personally I will have been be safely composted by the time we know the answers. ;-) or :-( ???

Greenish has noted here before that the real long term danger is spent fuel;I owe a lot to his commentary, and find his arguments convincing.

I totally agree with old farmer and would like to add the following: we need to keep in mind that the fatalities due to radiation release in Fukushima is ZERO. The only way to make this an actual disaster (where people are killed) is to rely on the linear-no-threshold assumption for radiation dose-response in the pathology, i.e. create mortality on paper. The fact greater incidence of pathology is not seen in populations with exposure to much higher than average natural background tells me LNT is highly suspect at best. The incredible blossoming of nature around Chernobyl after the humans moved out (see Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl) should give us another clue that the levels at which radiation becomes TRULY dangerous to life are likely MUCH higher. According to one expert, author of Radiation and Reason, Wade Allison, current radiation regulation limits are much, much smaller than what would constitute true harm. Further, the author says

The case for a complete change in attitude towards radiation safety is unrelated to the effects of climate change. But the realisation that radiation and nuclear energy are much safer than is usually supposed is of extreme importance to the current discussion of alternatives to fossil fuels and their relative costs. Since the book was published the point has been underlined by events in Japan where 25,000 died from the tsunami but nobody died from radiation (nor will they).

I bring this up because I think too many have fallen under the misconception that radiation poses a singularly unique, extreme danger and is without peer. As a result people are led to believe that the risks of ANY accident, let alone the worst-case, are so high that we should forego all the other environmental / economic benefits of emissions-free power with low material requirements BECAUSE of that risk, even if it is a once-in-a-generation event somewhere on the planet. To me, this conception of nuclear power is DEAD WRONG and it all flows from our perception of risk and danger concerning radiation. The fact we are ourselves radioactive (carbon-14, potassium-40 mainly) and that large variations in natural background cannot be associated with variations in cancers, tells me the fear of nuclear radiation is something that has been cultivated and sold over the years.

To throttle nuclear power, especially next generation with closed fuel cycles (with more than 100x's the fuel economy), because of this fear and increasing the position of fossil fuels as a result is something we as a society will deeply regret. It will be a mistake of epic planetary proportions.

I totally agree with old farmer and would like to add the following: we need to keep in mind that the fatalities due to radiation release in Fukushima is ZERO.

Given that TEPCO/Japan is still withholding much information you do not know that. According to an email released under FOIA, the NRC was informed by TEPCO that 5 workers may have been fatally exposed as early as the 15th March. Workers have also dropped dead from suddenly diagnosed leukemia and other ailments. Then there's the 150 or so workers TEPCO admits it has "lost contact" with. But you "know" there are no radiation deaths for a fact somehow.

The amount of radioactive caesium, iodine, plutonium, uranium, californium, neptunium, americium, strontium, cobalt, tritium etc etc etc released by this accident is not comparable to natural background radiation, no matter how many bananas you eat.

Prior to Fukushima, I supported nuclear power with caveats but the more I began to understand just exactly what has happened at Fukushima, the less tenable that position became (maybe I can be convinced by the thorium cycle, maybe not - but,in any case, not before nuclear designers take their head out from where the sun don't shine).

I respectfully submit that you haven't a clue how catastrophic it really is and how much worse it could still get and are still working off an old playbook. Time will, unfortunately, tell which of us is right.

Nuclear power is a horrible mistake. Have a look at Dr. Helen Caldicott's vidoes about nuclear power and Fukushima and Chernobyl on You Tube. You don't have to be the judge about what is a mistake for mankind or not. There is plutonium all over Japan now and also some on scattered parts of US mainland. (See yesterday's Drumbeat---someone posted a report by the EPA).

Mankind can live fine without lots of electricity. Humble, rough existences are nothing new. We have the stars and the mountains, rivers and oceans to look at. It is doubtful that we actually feel anything but sadness when we look at highways, parking lots, nuclear power plants, waste dumps, etc. So vaunted "progress" doesn't bring us anything except a feeling of alienation and a sense of despair. The desire to promote consumerism, further unnecessary ugliness....all on the idea that it's a "mistake for MANKIND" if we don't, that is the sort of thinking that makes people start wars.

Helen Caldicott makes statements that are not backed up with facts. Here is what George Monbiot has to say about her.

She is quite correct about her data and her explanations.

She is knowledgeable and professional.

One thing I heard her say recently was very interesting because it brought some of the problems of peak oil into the clinical sphere: some men's brains (some part, the level that is quite old, perhaps reptilian) are actually pathological! She did not expand on this statement (I saw the video via Enenews.com), but I'm guessing that there is some sort of structural inability on the part of some (not all) men to "back down" in the face of competition. There is some terrible fear of being left behind, conquered, etc. So these men take the preemptive route to make the first step in competition, no matter how risky, damaging, dangerous or unhealthy. Domination and dominion over all (in the name of "for the sake of society" "for the sake of mankind") are the goals....and we can see where it all leads to!

I am guessing that the posters in favor of nuclear power here on TOD are MOSTLY MEN. I ENCOURAGE them to examine their minds deeply for the telltale signs of the desire to dominate, exploit and conquer over everything, all the while exclaiming "Oh, it's ALL for the SAKE of mankind!"

HAve a look at the condition of the planet. Can you say it's a good thing to build more nuclear plants, foster more growth, encourage more cities, and let the population rise? Quite apart from the terrible danger of nuclear power, the power plant building process and uranium mining is destructive and CO2 intensive.

Their own out-dated brain structures would lead these men into the belief that their strategizing and dominating of nature is the best way. And it would be very hard for these men to see any other way, since the original problem is inside the mind. Indeed these types of thinking have been successful (if we can call 7 billion people onthe planet successful) until now and these "alpha" types cannot see any other way forward.

Yet I insist that societies based on domination over nature are feeble, transient and structurally unsound. I have lived in two, the hugest economies on the planet----my feeling---"ick!" Plastic, cars, cement, highways, factories----all built with the elite crying loudly "for the sake of MANKIND", "for the betterment of everybody!" The water is full of crap, the air is foul...SPARE ME!!!

Spare us your male-domination drivel. Get rid of nuclear power. Things are bad, very very bad, up in Fukushima and all the way down to Tokyo.

Recriticality is occurring and actually, what the engineers are fearing is another explosion. I guess it would be like 3 nuclear bombs, if three reactors explode.

All "For the sake of humanity"!!!!!


Good rant, Pi! Keep pushing back, so will I!

There's a great Caldicott/Monbiot debate on Democracy Now! I guess everyone can declare whoever they want as the 'winner', but at least it shows their viewpoints in the same environment.

(link includes both Video and a rush transcript)

Neither of them is perfect, neither is horrible.. god help us..

I'm sorry if I'm mischaracterizing it, but your rant seems really sexist to me.

You suggesting there are no well documented male/female psychological/emotional differences in general? Of course there are exceptions.

Right. Speaking as a man, Pi's ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!! sounds like something a wife says. It's also something the husband mutters back.

Men are from Mars. Women from Venus. Sexist? Sure. Vive la différence!

I'm definitely male (last time I checked). In this case, "ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!" really sums up my feelings right now.

Undertow, yep, you maybe male and entitled to an "ARRRGGGHHH!!" in exasperation, however, Pi's comment,

"I am guessing that the posters in favor of nuclear power here on TOD are MOSTLY MEN. I ENCOURAGE them to examine their minds deeply for the telltale signs of the desire to dominate, exploit and conquer over everything, all the while exclaiming "Oh, it's ALL for the SAKE of mankind!"

sounds like a household argument I've been engaged in from time to time. No point in disputing the facts. She's right and that's all folks.

Thank you, and I'm just getting started, by the way!

People are all different. For example some people are more emotion than average, some people are smarter than average and various other things make us all different. Dividing people up into groups it is possible to find statistical differences between those groups, but pointing out those statistical differences is of questionable value. To me it seems to be better to treat all people as individuals. Otherwise tension and anger seem to result. There are likely evolutionary reasons for many of the statistical differences between men and woman, and there are probably things that can be learned from those differences, but woman and men should treat each other as individuals despite those statistical differences. This makes society less repressive in my opinion. Telling a bunch of people that they only hold their position because of their sex isn't productive, and it does seem sexist to me as I understand the term.

Edit: I'm not trying to offend anyone. I'm sorry if my comments on this are worded to strongly.

You had better watch it Binder, sometimes it is not popular around here to tell the truth when the truth is not what people wish to hear. Some people don't want to hear that the human species is the way it is, they want to hear that the human species is the way it ought to be.

There is even a name for this strange phenomenon, it is called "political correctness". The scientific name for this is "behaviorism". (As opposed to "sociobiology".)

Your apology may help but it might not be enough.

I like that you stress that people should be treated as individuals. I have always stressed that point myself but some people just don't understand. They had rather hear that all people are exactly equal in every aspect of nature, even men and women, and that all differences are due to the environment. There is also a term for this strange phenomenon, it is called "Tabula Rasa" or the "blank slate". That is everyone is born a blank slate and all differences are written by their environment.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

re: "Some people don't want to hear that the human species is the way it is, they want to hear that the human species is the way it ought to be."

The really amazing thing about the human species is that it has an *idea* of the way it ought to be.

Or, to be a little more precise, individuals have ideas of how they like to be treated. Groups, do, too. It all gets very sticky (and often ugly) when some want others to behave in a certain way. Complicated...hard to sort out...

How to treat others.

How to treat oneself.

How to overcome one's own conditioning that has taught one how to treat others and oneself. Examine and select.

My favorite references on this topic, since I haven't shared them for a while (well, just a few favorites): www.cnvc.org, www.gordontraining.org. and that great NYT article on the study of the benefits of meditation.

re: "They had rather hear that all people are exactly equal in every aspect of nature, even men and women, and that all differences are due to the environment."


It seems to me the idea of "equal in...aspect of nature" is perhaps the result of an initial effort to come up with a *theory* to avoid maltreatment.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Because maltreatment often comes with a set of rationalizations. So, it can be the case that the maltreated individual or group feels a need or has a belief he/she/they has to first address the set of rationalizations and come up with counter-arguments.

Do you see what I mean?

I mean: address and take away the "verbal justification" first.

And this, in fact, sometimes works.

Sometimes it takes time to understand...exactly what is rationalization and what is not, what is justification and not, etc.

I heard an interview with Steven Pinker (well, part of an interview) where he talks about an expanding circle of "others" whom people recognize as human (like oneself). Although I'm probably not doing his argument justice, since I haven't read the book, my take on what he says is that recent history has led to a phenomenon of inclusion. This strikes me as being the phenomenon of basic human rights thinking.

Let's say that nature is sexist instead! I suppose we cannot know what it is like to be a member of the gender that we are not. Even the transgendered retain the DNA of their original gender. But is it some sort of statistical FLUKE that all the US Presidents are MEN?? Is it a MERE ACCIDENT that all Japanese PRIME Ministers are MEN???Or almost all world leaders?? ALL POPES?? ALL Catholic Priests??

IS IT JUST the WAY THINGS ARE???? Or are power structures and their elite minions some expression of the structural modus operandi, the operating instructions for the system. We take them for granted at our peril.

But, I think the time for men as dominating forces is finished. Peak oil has brought about new ways of relating to the planet that can be available for men or women but are traditionally associated with women's roles (caretaker, nurturer, home-maker, negotiators).

YOu will notice that all of the tragic heroes in Shakespeare's plays are men. Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, King Lear....people who strove ambitiously and refuse to negotiate. It leads them to ruin.

And all the protagonists in his comedies are women: Rosalind, Portia, Viola, etc. They are great at negotiating, bargaining, they have no personal ambitions to be powerful.

A man can be a Portia or a Viola or a Rosalind, but then he gets criticized for being a "weakling" perhaps by his fellow men. Until now. Now finally (I mean its a decades long process) men will be able to throw off their chains. Oil and coal have literally kept us all in chains, locking us into roles that we couldn't see beyond.

I don't think my post was sexist. It is based on evolutionary differences between men's and women's brains. and I think that is what Helen Caldicott meant too.

As far as I can tell nature in neither sexist nor not sexist. Sexist is a word used to describe humans and nature isn't human. Human beings are often sexist. The Catholic religion has many sexist practices, and other groups do as well. None of this has any bearing on whether or not your post was sexist because it is possible for many people to be sexist at the same time. In other words Catholics being sexist has no bearing on whether or not other groups or people are being sexist. If we want to live in a world where everyone is equal we need we need to treat each other equally even when we are not all the same. I personally would like to live in a world where everyone in considered equal, and telling men that their view are less valid because they are men doesn't seem to fit with that desire. In an ideal world I think that everyone would be treated as an individual. I know we don't live in that type of world, but I think that we should.

No, we need to fight against people who are saying that let's have nuclear power. Most of these people are men. The governments that listen to them are mostly men. Let's be honest. This is a problem related to sex.

Take some deer populations. Two strong young stags fight over who will be dominant. They lock antlers and stagger around. The antlers become locked permanently and the stags weaken together, fall, and become prey for a wolf. Oh, well, never mind. Plenty more deer left.

But if it is competing human male power structures, they build nuclear reactors and take the rest of the planet down with them, buried in cement highways, car factories and landfills filled with plastic. Great. Who won? Who lost? Clearly these environmental crises are a problem generated by thinking patterns that are male. Next we will have flying missiles, so phallic, as the men left at the top refuse to negotiate or compromise.

But after that pattern breaks its hold on us, it will be good-bye to those stupid men in their power suits, armored cars, and military outfits!! Good-bye!! Farewell! Sayonara!!!And good riddance!


I am with you on nuke plants...I am dubious that we are smart and organized and committed enough to design, build, operate, dispose of the waste, and decommission these plants safely.

I cannot validate your seemingly absolutist concept of man vs woman thinking on the nuke issue, wars, etc.

Trust me, I have met //plenty// of women who have drunk toe Kool-aid on nuke power, nuke weapons, endless war, banishing the EPA, hating national healthcare as a societal duty/obligation, relishing their SUVs and or sports cars, hate Obama cause they say he is Keynan and socialist and ACORN whatever, and on and on, and on and on and on and then some more.

It seems that you have moved in different circles/populations than I have my last 46 years...

Though not absolute, the global patriarchy is quite real. And though male I am perfectly misandric on this score. Just consider violent crimes in the US: nine tenths of them are committed by males. One could speculate forever to what extent this is innate or cultural. But I have no interest in speculation-- either way, males are actively doing these things disproportionately. The fact that they also disproportionately occupy our institutions of power, I think, suggests a link between political power and violence in our society, and the similar way in which classical notions of masculinity and virility partake in both.

Again, you are right, there are all kinds of women who have all kinds of unfortunate opinions on all of these issues and even, to be sure, on the issue of patriarchy itself. A number of female members of my own extended family consider it holy and natural for women to be subject to men. The ancient and vaunted lies religion of course play an insidious role here. But knowing that there are women like this hardly makes me less willing and eager to see women at large challenge and destroy the aberration of patriarchal society. Sure, vulgar relativism in values would have it that choosing and loving slavery is just as valid a choice as seizing freedom and becoming who one is without deference or apology-- but I'm not such a relativist and can't help but despise all that complacency.

Anyway, good news is, I'm not sure the "revealed" religions that (in much of the world) played a large part in this have the mettle left to deal with the serious ontological questions we may be facing... from a serious industrial or ecological collapse to even an overshoot-caused die-off, with no angels descending from the skies. And if the future really is so ugly, then maybe we will learn some priceless lessons. Like Hegel pointed out-- "the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."

Well, sorry to ramble. I mean, we do agree, gender and opinions on our sources of energy aren't absolutely related. I just want to affirm that as I see it pi is onto something. I think we can say that futurecide, ecocide, violence, contemporary political power, and patriarchy are closely related and implicated in each other, though with none of them being fundamental to all the others. And that's fine, right? Otherwise it'd all be too easy.

- resid

All of the social gains that have happened in recent years happened because people fought for equality. Equality has been able to lead to those gains because equality is just, and deep down people know that. What you are talking about is not equality and it is not just. It is simply sexism. You can try to justify it with science as much as you want, but everyone who believes in inequality justifies it with science. You come across as sounding no different than they do. We are all different but we are all equal. That is what I believe. I support people fighting for equality, but I don't support people fight for the dominance of their group weather they are men or woman.

Binder, the social more of 'Equality' does not have to be tied to 'identicality' between the sexes. We are actually and clearly different in many ways,(though similar in many more) and as each individual has limitations and handicaps, so do each of the sexes. That doesn't invalidate us men, but it should remind us to recognize our shortcomings and restore balance by learning from and working with those who have strengths that can reinforce an area beset by historic blindspots and inabilities.

Very close to what PI is saying, is the government model that Jefferson and Franklin were working to adapt from the Long House People, the Six Nations in the Americas who had developed, among other things, a council of women. It was their duty to pick members of the leadership, and to allow or forbid the onset of war. Their history didn't seem to have the resentment of either Natural Systems or the Female Energies in the world that had become so disdained in the European mindsets, and so a balance of Male/Female energies and strengths was an accepted part of life.

I think the concept of conquering and defying nature, the access to ungodly amounts of power, and the imbalanced focus on specifically Masculine Energies and Preferences has been an endemic Inequality in our last couple Millenia, and has indeed created this disaster that we see before us. I'm a man, and I'm not ashamed of my being male at all.. but there's no victory in continuing to run riot with our worst aspects, and we have to see them for what they are, and what they have done.

++ wise words.

I think all of the social gains are due to the fossil fuel fiesta.

And yes, that means I am very concerned that peak oil will be the reversal of them.

I don't think you have to be too afraid of that.

The social gains for women have come as fossil fuels dry up! In the 60s and 70s there were new social movements as stay-at-home housewives seemed like a career from the past. The 1950s, the gasoline boom time, was the era of the stay-at-home wife.

Now there can't be any more resources allowing women to be dependent on a man. So women will work and they won't listen to men all the time.

Or even half of the time, or even part of the time.

Or even at all!

There never really was an era of stay-at-home housewives. It was the ideal. The reality was different, at least if you were not a white upper middle class woman.

You didn't live in Sweden...

Hi Leanan

Just a note to say...

The point you make may be in the context of "civilization" itself. Not necessarily in pre-agricultural, tribal societies. Don't know, as I haven't studied this. Just read one book that struck me posing the question.

re: "..."peak oil will be the reversal of them."

Do you see any ways to address this in a positive fashion?

Men seek money, power and status because that is what attracts women; especially beautiful women. It is a cliche to see a 75 year old rich man with a 25 year old beautiful woman. Everyone knows why she is with him and why he is with her.

if it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck.. frankly sexist comments like 'primitive' 'outdated' when referring to one's race or gender do not belong here on tod. flagging the comment.

Can you say it's a good thing to build more nuclear plants, foster more growth, encourage more cities, and let the population rise?

That is an easy problem to solve with total domination. There were a german political movement in the 1930:s and 1940:s who almost succeded in creating "lebensraum" by mass murder. Mass murder of competing consumer is a solution that would work for solving resource problems and it is also my worst nightmare since I like people and it would also destroy lots of culture.

The risk for mightmare scenarios and relay bad political solutions to resource proeblems is the main reson for my support of all kinds of solutions where something constructive is built or efficiency increased including nuclear power.

Obfuscation----and I see you are one of these men who supports nuclear power----just as I have been claiming!! The problem IS male thinking, though women can participate in that.

The area where the Fukushima Number one nuclear plant is now located used to be a place for a few fishing villages that supported a few thousand people. They produced hardly any garbage and they were perfectly happy. They would be there still to this day had it not been for fossil fuels and the male-domineering way of thinking that booted them out and replaced their lovely nurturing green habitat with the most poisonous wreckage ever devised by mankind!!

Do not claim that your precious nuclear devices have left us with any other legacy than ruin. We have 600 nuclear plants on the planet and any one of them could go haywire tomorrow. The waste they produce has nowhere to go.
The processes for building them are fiendish and polluting. So we get the Internet after one is built-----small consolation for seeing your friends get sick!!

Spare me!!!! Your precious claims "maintain culture! "for the good of society!!" ring terribly HOLLOW. These are the specious incantations used by high priests of technology to obfuscate and mislead. Pay attention to the condition of the land and the sea. As it sickens and dies, so will we!

When I see something I try to understand it and if I see a problem I try to solve it. I know that my capacity, knowledge and time is limited and I try to prioritize and thus has resource issues been constantly near the top for quite some time.

The realy good solutons are hindered by a lack a time machines, its impossible to go back and do over, its only possible to try to do better.

They way you argue irritates me since not using the tools we have and the time we got and trying to solve real problems by blaming those who try to do something makes the disasters worse. It protects the short term interests for business as usual while time and resources are wasted until people are trapped in a desperate corner of dwindling resources and possibilities.

Only now, now, finally, that the disaster has occurred will people in Japan tell the idiots---those who want more nukes---- who want more: sorry! Sorry you can't build it, you can't have it, you can't do it. No, no, no. The calls for increasing the birthrate have already vanished. Some companies threaten to go abroad where there is cheap power and some people in the government say "goodbye, then".

All of the hollow promises about how economic growth would cure everything and bring a bright tomorrow----exposed as lies. What people here in Japan wouldn't do to have their peace of mind back. What they wouldn't do to have their wonderful green paradise back. What they wouldn't do to have the ocean back, bright and clear and healthy...

People are mad at what fossil fuels and fossil fuel's insane daughter, nuclear power, has brought here. People cannot bear the worry and fear, the knowledge that radioactive cesium, iodine, plutonium is all over the place.

I already know someone quite young, a good friend of mine in her early forties, just diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She lives next door to Fukushima Prefecture. She does not know if it is the radiation or not....but surely the area up there was very polluted already, and breast cancer does not run in her family. Her peace of mind is totally gone and she has two young children who she also has to worry about. And Fukushima is possibly going recritical now but she can't leave because she has surgery scheduled. So how is your PRECIOUS NUCLEAR POWER helping HER????

Human culture can only survive if the land is clean and healthy and the water is clean and healthy. With nuclear power and its concommitent waste, that looks MOST unlikely.

Human culture rathered flowered in the absence of fossil fuels. Chaucer, Rembrandt, Beethoven, Mozart, Hiroshige, Monet, many other artists (and in Sweden, Carl Larsson....)musicians, painters, writers. The less people had, the MORE they had. The more they used the precious natural things they had wisely and well. The less garbage they produced. The cleaner the water was. And when death and sickness came, it was god's will, the cold or something nature brought, and NOT SOME HORRIBLE NUCLEAR ACCIDENT RAINING DEATH DOWN ON THEM!!!!!!

Your ideas have bothered me for quite some time and now I can tell you in Swedish, since I speak fluent Swedish by the way: Du, Magnus Redin, ar inte als rett! Du har fel!! Jag sager inte at du ar dum, men det kan handa at du tanker inte sa val, och det blir ju samma sak!!

Human culture rathered flowered in the absence of fossil fuels. Chaucer, Rembrandt, Beethoven, Mozart, Hiroshige, Monet, many other artists (and in Sweden, Carl Larsson....)musicians, painters, writers.

Yes, but back then half of the kids died before reaching adulthood, there was no dental care or pain killers, lots of people were disfigured by small pox or went blind or died, lots of kids were crippled by polio and lots of women died an agonizing death during child birth. Illiteracy and superstition was common; if a girl was seen feeding a cat she was suspected of being a witch and burnt alive, people were tortured & killed for blasphemy or contradicting the bible, people justified slavery, mentally ill people had holes drilled in their skulls to allow the demons to escape, there was no human rights or gender equality and you were completely at the mercy of the local warlord, king, priest or noble man. People starved when there was a local famine and died like flies in an epidemic.

How many ordinary people back then got to enjoy Mozart or Monet? It was only for a small, rich minority. Just like yachts are today.

Maybe you want to go back to a mythical past that never existed as you imagine it today. Most of us like progress and modernity with all its flaws. I suggest you live without the comforts and conveniences of the modern world if you dislike it so much.

Do you see the irony of complaining about modern civilization and technology on a computer connected to the internet?

So you're saying, 'shush!, don't complain about these ways that we've set ourselves up for a fall.. just enjoy the web and leave well enough alone.'

What's he's saying is that life is better now than is used to be, which is true. Anything else you wish to read into his comment is your own business.

No. What I am saying is that it is silly to rail against technology, modern civilization, etc while enjoying the benefits, comforts and safety that flows from it. At least the Unabomber lived in a cabin in the woods of Montana and caught his own food.

Suyog, she's railing against Technology like Nuclear Power and the clear but bullheaded mess its heading us into, first and foremost.

Sure, she's also looking at some of the excessive amounts of consumer technology, as we all do here on this computer forum, but just because it's ironic, doesn't mean it's hypocritical. You can ride in a car and still say.. 'we drive too much, we need to get back on our bikes honey', or just try and say 'err, you took a wrong turn, can I get out the map now?'

"At least the Unabomber...??!!" - what is this? You're telling her that she's less honorable than the Unabomber? Nice. Maybe you can help us make some more apt comparisons between the Unabomber and TEPCO's Leadership?

(Chaucer and Shakespeare were populists)

All or nothing, huh? I'm so glad I got past that...and no, there's no irony in your false arguments. This thread is a good example of why I believe we'll not solve these issues.

I never said it is all or nothing and there is no room for improvement. Of course there is. But I cannot agree with wholesale condemnation of modernity and technology while continuing to benefit from it. You think pi won't get a root canal if she needs it?

It is silly to long for a mythical past where people enjoyed Mozart and Monet while communing with pristine nature. It never existed. In the bad old days commoner women like pi did not have the opportunity to learn to read or write and express themselves. They were the property of their fathers and husbands and their lives were filled with drudgery. Breeding and raising lots of kids wore them out and aged them prematurely. Mozart and Monet was only for the rich.

It's quite clear that it---mass electricity use---is only temporary.

Can't you see that?

As hundreds here have said, the collapse is only years away.

In Japan electricity shortages loom unless they restart unpopular nukes.

Oil is too expensive to burn freely.

Finance problems can short circuit the whole system, maybe not all at once but surely enough.

Words are the only weapon I have at my disposal at the moment. That means a computer and the Internet.

I could write a book....

I agree we have a problem. But Japan is not the world. N.America is resource rich and has low population density. Scandinavia is well prepared for peak oil. I agree the world will experience a drop in standard of living. But that is not the same thing as a global collapse of industrial civilization and going back to caves.

India has 1.2 billion people and they use only 3 mbpd of oil. There is a lot of poverty in India, massive shortages of electricity, shortages of clean water, but life goes on. They also have thriving industries, thriving art and culture scene, 500 TV channels, 500 million cell phone users and it is Asia's 3rd largest economy.

If the Japanese are forced to cut their electricity use by 20%, civilization will not collapse. If the US is forced to use 50% less oil, we will not go back to living in the caves. We will adjust by riding scooters & bikes, by using public transportation, by car pooling and by driving plug in hybrid cars and electric cars. It will be painful but still better than living in the 1700s.

I share your sense of frustration and doom. I too tried to change things, working in the 1970's on the California Nuclear Safeguard Initiative. We managed to place the Initiative on the ballot in 1976, but were blown out of the water by massive spending by nuclear proponents. Along the way, I was responsible for bringing Dr. John Gofman to our campus to speak about the dangers of nuclear power at a rally for the Initiative. I moved back East, where I happened to work for Jimmy Carter as he ran for President. I'm one of the folks who tried to sell Carter on solar energy. Three years later, TMI happened and the political situation changed. Those plans for 1000 nukes in the US by the year 2000 were put on the shelf.

Of course, after Chernobyl, the whole world saw the full impact of a major accident, but that concern faded until Fukushima reminded us and another generation as well, that nuclear power can result in very serious damage to the Earth. I can only hope that this time, the world's peoples will be awakened to these dangers and move away from nukes and toward renewables.

Personally, these past 35 years of effort have left me with little wealth and no family. In the interim, we have learned of the dangers of Climate Change and that the problem of Peak Oil appears at hand. Like you, I have nothing but my computer and the Internet, to try to reach out with my ideas. For example, I live within a day's drive from DC where the ASPO Conference is ongoing, but chose not to go because of the cost. I fear that we are just preaching to the choir and the message isn't going beyond these pages. My time is passing quickly, so it will be up to the next generation to make the necessary changes. I hope you and your friends are able to survive to press onward...

E. Swanson

Congratulations to all involved for saving the US coal industry and paving the way for the massive Chinese coal industry... :-(

My impression is that people take their comfortable lives for granted and probably will be quite upset when it no longer can be sustained.

Not emptying most of the fish stocks, not changing the climate, not spreading PCB, Mercury and so on far and wide and so on would have been a realy good and growth in usefull resources to be able to live comfortably would still have been possible. But that were not how it were done and it is still very hard to get people to give up something today to invest in a long term benefit.

Your ill friend has gotten shelter, clothes, communications, food and lots of toys from our technological culture, perhaps it also poisoned her although breast cancer is not a new disease that emerged after industrialization. The cures are new and I hope she will recover, I wish everybody a good life even if it would be easier to make in a sustainabe way if we were one billion humans instead of seven.

Culture is a lot richer today, but those who were first in a field is of course of a larger historical interest and both new and old culture can reach almost everybody today, especially music with MP3:s instead of concerts for a few hundred people and expensive printed notes.

Jag har skrivit en bok om mina idéer för hur man kan hitta lösningar eller i alla fall sätt att lindra de värsta problemen oavsett om de går att lösa. Den heter "När resurser sinar" och någon månad orkar jag kanske översätta den till engelska. Poängen är att vi behöver göra många olika saker inklusive det som kan vara svart eller obekvämt för att minska risken för desperata och destruktiva lösningar där människor börjar slåss om resurser eller försöker utplåna konkurrerande konsumenter. Kärnkraft är ingen lätt lösning men den kan försörja hundratals miljoner människor. (I have written a book about my ideas on how to find solutions or at least ways to handle the predicaments. Its title s "When resources run dry" and I will perhaps some month translate it into english. The theme is that we must do manny different things including hard and uncomfortable things to avoid desperate and destructive solutions where people start fighting about resources or or tries to eradicate competing consumers. Nuclear power is not an easy solution but it can mean life or death for several hundred million people. )

"Fishing towns on the Sea.."

So the US, Technical Marvelland has had one melt down, and then Russia (but they're Russian, of course), and now Japan added a few more.. I wonder how many of the die-hard supporters would give in at long last if the Reactors in Stockholm took a hit by a meteor or something, and they suddenly discovered that they had a mess on their lovely coastline that they just couldn't clean up. And another one goes and another one goes, another one takes the bus!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/nuclear-reactor-in-southern-s... Oops! They caught that one..

Oops! They caught that one..

Yeah, and let's not forget the near misses such as the one just down the road from me, Turkey Point back in 1992 when it took a direct hit from Hurricane Andrew... Or the the recent flooding in the Midwest and the reactors in Nebraska.

It's only a matter of time before the next one hits the fan. Until then we can all continue to sleep soundly knowing that nukes are perfectly safe... until they aren't!

Pi, maybe it's a man thing, but more likely the result of scientific hubris. Intelligent, but devoid of wisdom, they enact their fantasies of creating a synthetic world to replace the natural one. The ensuing disasters are the result of their ideological zeal for progress and its resultant habit destruction. We're gradually being destroyed by our own intelligence and inability to see the obvious dangers we present to ourselves.

But is it a coincidence that men have been involved in so much of the decision making? I say it is not. I say it is a structural problem, an over emphasis on male-type thinking, aggressive, dominating, competitive, basically (sorry to say it) suicidal in some way. Perhaps the temporary but long-standing conditions of ever more available energy have fostered the feedback loops that reward the risk takers, the colonial empire builders and their modern equivalents, the capitalists and so forth.

The scientists just dance to the tunes played by these powerful people, and the powerful people use the ideas of the scientists to increase their hold on power.

My otherwise brilliant and delightful Swedish Grandfather and another Swedish uncle have been in this exact situation, as engineers, they invested their brilliance in creating cleverer and cleverer war machines.. essentially creating sophisticated ways for us to throw rocks at one another. The Blind Beating the Blind.

This is the same grandfather who painted wonderful watercolors of his beloved Maine, Swedish and Japanese coasts, and tied these lovely worlds together for me and my siblings. History sure does rhyme..

Pi, if you haven't already, you should look into the substantial body of work generally filed under the heading 'eco-feminism.' You will find many kindred souls in that field.

If what you say is true, perhaps the presumably more enlightened women need to provide the appropriate negative feedback to what you describe as male dominant behavior. Maybe the women are sending the wrong signals pertaining to mate selection.

I've often wondered if evolution could be the answer to the problem of war and violence that seems to be so prevalent in our species. If women in general would select less violent mates, perhaps we could in time come to resemble our more passive Bonobo cousins.

I think that it might start to happen that women will select less violent mates. For example, today in the NYT there was an article about a young man, 23, who graduated from Boston University, could not find a job, and returned home to Ohio where he acquired some sheep which he rents out as ecologically friendly "lawnmowers"----that is his new business. He lists his occupation as "shepherd"---how delightful, actually! Of course, the article didn't talk about his marriage prospects (it wasn't about that), but surely he has a small business so he has some possibility.
A woman might not have selected a shepherd for a mate ten or twenty years ago because a banker would be so much more wealthy and attractive. But now, maybe she will. The new low-tech, agricultually-based economy will be more and more important. Noone will get super-rich, but it may keep away starvation and foster a more peaceful, serene and content type of man and society in general. Then these new generation of more ecologically aware people will tell the pro-nukes to go away and take their poisonous devilish waste products with them.

Dear Pi

You're on the ground there, have we lost Tokyo? It would seem that there could easily be a long slow process of abandonment of the city as people move away because their kid is sick or a few neighbors come down with cancer. I mean, who wants to take a chance even though maybe that job offer in the south pays less? For instance, I know alot of young people who are very desperate to leave the Ukraine.

Have we lost Tokyo??

Mmmmm....Ask me again in 20 years.

Probably even without Fukushima it would have been "lost" because it is too big and noxious, food would become unavailable and the economy there would dry up utterly (this was already happening). But the process would have been slow and reluctant.

But Fukushima was peak oil on steroids----entropy in the fast lane. Ruination in a year that otherwise would take 30 years.

There is a rumor (read Fukushima Diary or Enenews.com) that leukemia cases up there are undergoing increases. Some people are leaking the info. out of hospitals. So if these rumors turn out to be true and people see their friends and family getting sick, then, yes, they are going to leave.

People were willing to gve the government's "it's OK, it won't hurt you!" story a chance. But if they see things that don't square with that then they will leave.

So time will tell.

You mean the Lysistrata Gambit? wonderful theory, but...

...unlikely to succeed so long as food insecurity and general precarity are normal. A woman -- especially if she has or wants a kid -- is often strongly motivated by hunger and bodily risk to seek the protection of a relatively capable/powerful man. She is then unlikely to be in a position to deny him his "rights" under the traditional protection-racket contract of patriarchal marriage. Mate selection is often a survival issue, at the rougher edges of the world.

And I think pi's analysis is spot-on. There's a whiff of bravado and "playing chicken" to my cynical old ears in the brash confidence of most of the nuke boosters I've ever interacted with face2face -- all of whom, perhaps merely coincidentally, have been men. To them, backing off on nuclear power was "backing down," being cowardly, and people who opposed nuketech were "a bunch of old women" etc. Little boys like to play with fire, this we know -- but these are some pretty big fires. I made some reference to the pervasive gendering of ecological/economic discourse a few drumbeats back, wrt "hard reality" (i.e. BAU) being contrasted implicitly with "soft" i.e. feminine, unmanly environmental concerns. Enviros = sissies, gender panic attack, end of discussion :-)

Science itself, as a cultural institution w/in the West, carries a strong patriarchal meme-load. The Icarus image, the Prometheus image are dear to its heart; Hypatia and Minerva, not so much. That canonical founder of the anglophone literature, F Bacon, referred to Nature always as female and spoke of "hounding her in her wanderings" -- a hunting metaphor -- and becoming able to "lead or drive her" (taming or breaking to harness?). In late C19 the image of research was of a woman "unveiling herself" to the male/scientific gaze. And so on. Science as a cultural institution was developed w/in a markedly patriarchal culture, by a caste of relatively privileged men; for example, women were not permitted to present papers or even attend proceedings at the Royal Academy in Beatrix Potter's time -- the fascinating little book Liaisons of Life tells the story of Potter's mycological researches and her role in the great controversy over symbiosis, in which the RA was solidly on the wrong side of history. The RA, and by extension Science itself, was a kind of mystery cult for male initiates only; their lodge was kapu for mere females. Earlier in history iirc there was only one school of science in all of Europe in the 1100s where women were permitted to study, in the polyglot, multicultural wonder that was Salerno; in England at that time, women who did field research into the medicinal qualities of herbs and/or offered practical medical help to their community were quite often prosecuted and executed, sometimes horribly, as "witches". And so on.

But I ramble, as usual.

Funny, all of the anti-nuke people I have run across (whether male or female) have come across the same to me.

I have little patience for anyone who would rather be acclaimed as right than identify what the facts of a matter really are. That is why I rarely post in these threads anymore.

Funny, all of the nuke people I have run across (whether male or female) have come across the same to me.

I have little patience for anyone who would rather be acclaimed as right than identify what the facts of a matter really are.

It sounds silly with or without the "anti"


Your post was ambiguous in meaning, yet I take it you support nuclear power.
So any kind of restraint you show by no longer expressing support for a failed and filthy technology is MOST WELCOME by such as I. Therefore I thank you.

And this is why I stop reading drumbeats for months at a time.

Your opposition to the cleanest, safest, power generating technology that is currently in service is misguided at best, dangerous at worst.

I just can't tolerate the effect that arguing with you and the others like you has on myself, since I know you'll continue to spout your unscientific, unsupported garbage no matter what I do.


I used to believe more or less as you do. Then I started following up both the pro and anti arguments. Turns out that the pro-nuke crowd seems to repeat more nonsense, more often than the anti-nuke crowd. Most of the pro-nuclear are not aware they are spouting nonsense and just quote statements from supposed authority figures as I did myself once. All to often these fall apart when you dig into them.

For example I've frequently heard (and once believed) it quoted that some Manhattan project workers (the "26 white males") were exposed to internal doses of plutonium considered lethal today yet studies show little or no effect.

Only that turns out to be wrong. None of the workers followed up received a known likely lethal dose and almost all were estimated to have internalised well below 1 millionth of a gramme. Even Caldicott only puts the chances of cancer as beginning at about 1 millionth of a gramme.

Unfortunate Beagle dogs were exposed to higher levels than the workers with predictably fatal effects.

I have nuclear power training. This can reasonably be expected to bias me toward nuclear power even though I no longer work in the field.

I spent weeks of my own time more recently looking at claims of damage by anti-nuclear advocates and found that most of the claims were only supported by press reports or studies that made claims that exceed any plausible figures by orders of magnitude (yes, I did go over Yablokov's work, it fails on simple population statistics without needing to go into mechanisms).

I find the reports of what has been going on in Fukushima interesting and enlightening, but then the leaps from the clear facts to some hypothesised result that is to terrible to tolerate just isn't supported.

There is real, substantial research that has been done into the health effects of radiation exposure. That research shows that the risk from low-level radiation exposures reaches a point where it can no longer be detected.

From my position a risk that cannot be detected after decades of studies involving tens of thousands of individuals is not one that is worth worrying about, especially when the alternatives that people actually use have risks that are trivially detected and undisputed.

The anti-nuclear position seems founded on suspicion that the official numbers are being manipulated to decieve us.

I'll take my numbers and my risk assessments from the people that I as a taxpayer am paying to do them.

Here's the ANL official Plutonium risk datasheet: http://www.evs.anl.gov/pub/doc/Plutonium.pdf

Parent page: http://www.evs.anl.gov/pub/

I spent weeks of my own time more recently looking at claims of damage by anti-nuclear advocates and found that most of the claims were only supported by press reports or studies that made claims that exceed any plausible figures by orders of magnitude (yes, I did go over Yablokov's work, it fails on simple population statistics without needing to go into mechanisms).

Could you give me a few concrete examples? I've read some criticism that made me think I was reading a different document to that which was being "debunked". Then again I am sure there are valid criticisms as well but not enough that I have seen to ignore the entire thing by any means. But then I cannot honestly claim to have gone over it with a fine comb.

Here's some interesting quotes for you.


Professor Keith Baverstock, who led the World Health Organisation's radiation protection programme for more than 10 years, believes new research is vital.

He said: "There's the next generation to think of. There's some evidence that a kind of mutation has been passed down to future generations and we don't know what the health consequences of this are, so we have to study that."

Soviet Radiation Doctor: We were wrong — A huge new group has appeared… The children of parents who have been irradiated

Dr. Boris Gusev, Semipalatinsk Institute of Radiation Medicine:

“Over the last 15 years we have thoroughly analyzed all the material in these archives.”
“We have made our conclusions and published our research, and at the same time we have continued our planned research of the population.”
Now a huge new group has appeared of 250,000-270,000 people.”
“These are the children of parents who have been irradiated.”
“We thought that everything would go smoothly, that chromosonal damage and genetic effects would be confined to the generation of people who were irradiated and they could not be inherited by future generations.”
“But it turned out that this was wrong

I'll take my numbers and my risk assessments from the people that I as a taxpayer am paying to do them.

So you didn't watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2JFxnAkTW4 where Jack Valentin (of the ICRP) admits (immediately after retiring I think) the official models are unusable and probably underestimate by an order of magnitude or perhaps more when it comes to internal exposure.

Oh an by the way

Nuclear workers' children have increased cancer risk

Working at the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria may have been harmful after all. Children of men who had been exposed to radiation while working at the plant have twice the normal risk of leukaemia and lymphoma, according to a major new study sponsored by the nuclear industry.

...Throughout the whole of Cumbria, they found that the incidence of leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was twice as high among the Sellafield children. The incidence was 15 times as great in Seascale, a small village next to the nuclear plant. Crucially, they also discovered that the risk to children rose in line with the radiation dose received by their fathers.

...There is growing evidence from human and animal studies that radiation damage can be passed from one generation to the next. But Dickinson and Parker point out that the risks are small: only 13 children of Sellafield workers contracted leukaemia over the 41 years. And because workers now receive much lower doses than in the past, there are unlikely to be implications for the current workforce.

Hmm, unfortunately many Japanese are being exposed at levels well above that of most typical current radiation workers worldwide. And who knows what the real exposure of the Fukushima plant workers themselves is. Especially with the Yakuza "losing" people for TEPCO.

Well, that took less time than I had hoped.

The Sellafield study is the only one there that has real bearing.

Lots of people get breast cancer that haven't been exposed to radiation, it isn't even listed on the American Cancer Society's explanation of breast cancer risks. There may be a connection there, but there probably isn't.

The good Russian doctor is talking about people exposed to rather significant acute doses, far above anything in Japan today, and probably exceeding exposures from Chernobyl in the '80's.

The Sellafield study sounds like it shows a relevant connection, and a real risk. I'd need more information (how many families involved, what sorts of exposures) to determine if I consider it an unreasonable risk.

r4ndom , there's been considerable effort to understand the effects of radiation on people. A series of reports have been issued over the years with the title "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation". HERE's version number 7 from the NRC, published in 2006. Needless to say, the question is quite complicated, as one can see from reading the report. Are you familiar with any of the BEIR reports and if not, what do you think about this one?

BTW, Your link to ANL did not load.

E. Swanson

I ran into a reference to the latest BEIR report a couple of days ago, haven't had time to give it proper treatment yet. I hope there's new information in it.

Which one? I got the Plutonium PDF link from Google, and jumped up to the other. Both loaded from Firefox before I linked them.

The gist of the Pu link is that while there is a lot of Pu in the environment in absolute terms, the dilution of it is still hundreds of times lower than the detectable risk threshold.

This, of course, does not address potential concentrated releases like Fukushima, but does give a threshold above which detectable risk is expected.

They have similar documents (worded in similarly "reassuring" language, I'm sure) for most other radioisotopes.

Hi r4ndom,

I'm curious...sincere Qs:

1) What's your take on the disposal of radioactive waste, including a reactor that must be shut down at the end of its useful life?

2) What's your take on the or a risk analysis of costs of adverse events? I haven't looked at this. I mean...if the risk of an averse event is low, but the event is catastrophic...that's all in risk analysis theory, yes? How does it pan out to your way of thinking WRT nuke power?

and lastly,

3) Did you find any anti-nuke claims that met your criteria for scientific accuracy and reasonableness?

1. Disposal of wastes can be a problem, but the industry and regulatory structure are making it more of a problem than it needs to be for safety, and as a result real safety risks are being created (long term use of storage ponds, for instance). Additionally, I think that disposing of radioisotopes that could be used to generate power is wasteful.

2. The cost of adverse events is largely driven by the difficulty of reducing the resulting risks to a societally acceptable level. Nuclear events can be expensive to clean up, but a quick look at cleanup costs that have been incurred from other industrial release events shows that they aren't all that dramatic.

3. Yes, at the edges of anti-nuclear advocacy there are people who are looking at the real risks. The problem is that the real risks aren't all that dramatic, and certainly aren't charismatic enough to drive a movement.

Yes, nuclear power has risks, as part of my training I had drilled into me the nature and extent of the risks that were known at the time. The main one is cancer risk for chronic exposure, but that requires quite extensive releases and then hanging out in areas contaminated beyond currently accepted limits for extended periods.

As for acute exposure: you don't want a large acute dose, but the damage is such that the Army allows soldiers to recieve a much larger dose than would be considered for civilians or nuclear plant workers.

The current dose limits for nuclear plant workers are based on staying below minimum detectable risk threshold, and for ordinary civilians the limits are based on a fraction of the professional exposure limits.

But those limits are only applied to radiation from nuclear reactors, which is why the "standard banana exposure" and other ways of trying to connect radiation levels from nuclear power with non-nuclear power exposures are being pushed so hard by nuclear advocates.


Undertow, not ignoring yours, just more there than I'll probably be able to digest before the middle of next week.

Thank you for all the wonderful historical information!

Please don't stop rambling!

Agrarian, your post reminded me of something I read thirty years ago or so that opined that Amory Lovins had made a fatal strategic error by calling his vision of energy security "the soft path", or something to that effect.

Tesla motors may have a better grasp on the human psyche. The electric door-stop cars of the Seventies probably did more to kill the electric car than any executive decision by GM ever did. We'll see if the Fisker Karma and the Tesla model S can unwind that damage.

Vive le testostérone!

Hmmn. That doesn't really work. How about:

Testosteron über alles!

Ahh. Better.

She is quite correct about her data and her explanations.

She is knowledgeable and professional.

I can't square that with the stuff I've just read on the George Monbiot website.

1 saying she mentions things in her book without references
2 the response of respected doctors e.g. Professor Gerry Thomas, Chair in Molecular Pathology, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College, London, to the things she claims.
3 citations which turn out to refute instead of back up what she claims
4 citing a book which seems to be very scientifically unreliable

These are not trivial issues.

Let's pick your Gerry Thomas example. Caldicott says in one point "doubles the risk" Thomas says "40% more". When I simplify it to that does it sound like that totally discredits Caldicott even if Thomas turned out to be right? They are both very large increases in an admittedly small risk.

Then Gerry Thomas switches to completely mislead with

we live in a radioactive world, we are superbly adapted to it.

We are not talking about natural radioactivity, we are talking about man-made radioisotopes with vastly differing properties and effects that human evolution/adaption has never had to deal with. There's plenty of mainstream evidence now that genetic damage builds up down the generations in animals and humans at non lethal levels of many man-made isotopes. Gerry Thomas ignores this and mutters about natural radiation.

I could go on point for point through the list. It is just a character attack on Calidcott disguised with seemingly authoritative quotes which are anything but.

I mean "superbly adapted" to plutonium? Professor Thomas is an idiot or a liar.

And if we look back to the 17th March, Thomas said:

"There is no significant release of radiation yet, it's really only the workers that are at risk. We are not looking at an accident anything like Chernobyl. The Japanese have done everything by the book by removing people from the vicinity."

-Everything about that statement was already wrong when she said it.

But as she also tells us

now I am very pro-nuclear as I realise that we have an unwarranted fear of radiation – probably due to all the rubbish about a nuclear winter we were fed during the cold war.”

So it seems she now thinks that even a nuclear war isn't a bad thing really. She is certifiable.

Spitting Image Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Episode

Is Gerry Thomas whistling 'Back in the USSR'?

Hi Undertow,

Firstly I'd like to point out that I'm no expert on radiation so have patience if I miss your points.
I had 4 objections. You're responding to the second, and only partially as Gerry Thomas was just one of the respected doctors taking issue with Helen and you're only looking at a portion of her comments.

Caldicott says in one point "doubles the risk" Thomas says "40% more". When I simplify it to that does it sound like that totally discredits Caldicott even if Thomas turned out to be right?

No. Such a mistake wouldn't totally discredit Caldicott, though that's not the same as dismissing it.

It is just a character attack on Calidcott disguised with seemingly authoritative quotes which are anything but.

They are authoritative, as this person is an authority on this subject. She doesn't cite sources and neither do you. Given her position and publication record (unlike comments on radiation I'm quite able to evaluate a publication record and it's impressive) and your lack of that (AFAIK), I have to side with her when you're both making unreferenced remarks.

We are not talking about natural radioactivity, we are talking about man-made radioisotopes with vastly differing properties and effects that human evolution/adaption has never had to deal with.

Vastly different? Essentially isn't it all alpha, beta or gamma radiation? Obviously different half lives and that, but natural radiation should make a good comparison if we control for dose. This seems to be Gerry's point, so it's not irrelevant or dishonest to talk about it.

Your comment

There's plenty of mainstream evidence now that genetic damage builds up down the generations in animals and humans at non lethal levels of many man-made isotopes

doesn't necessarily address the issue here, which is about whether
or not nuclear waste will induce epidemics of cancer. Provided the exposure to the waste doesn't occur to a significant extent, you can both be right.

I mean "superbly adapted" to plutonium?

Thomas gives this reason for saying that we are superbly adapted to radiation.

"few second cancers result in the population treated with radiotherapy (and/or chemotherapy, which in many respects has a similar biological effect – induction of DNA damage) – even in a population that may have been enriched for those with germline defects that predisposes to cancer. This suggests to me that as a species we have superbly honed defences for this type of insult."

That seems logical to me. You might be putting words in her mouth when you say superbly adapted to plutonium.

Professor Thomas is an idiot or a liar.

Her publication record would seem to preclude the former.

Everything about that statement was already wrong when she said it.

I have no idea if it was, but that's not her area of expertise and it's quite conceivable she was misinformed, but I don't she what that has to do with our discussion about Helen Caldicott.

So it seems she now thinks that even a nuclear war isn't a bad thing really.

Yes, a strange quote there. But I guess it could be read in a number of ways, and given that this person doesn't seem certifiable, what with holding the Chair in Molecular Pathology in the Imperial College and all, I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt.

"few second cancers result in the population treated with radiotherapy (and/or chemotherapy, which in many respects has a similar biological effect – induction of DNA damage) – even in a population that may have been enriched for those with germline defects that predisposes to cancer. This suggests to me that as a species we have superbly honed defences for this type of insult."

As I understand it, and I'm certainly no expert, the response to this is roughly: That's a simple matter of timing. Cancer treatment radiation is aimed at cancerous tissue in uncontrolled growth. This is the point when the cells are most vulnerable to radiation damage. The treatment is normally discontinued before the danger point is reached for normal tissue to actually initiate a cancer.

It's the out of control cell clock in the cancerous tissue that is the key. They are in the especially vulnerable to radiation, divide and grow mode most of the time unlike healthy cells. If you kept up the same exposure on the healthy cells for say ten times the period what do you think might happen?

Look I'm no expert on this but honestly for every point made by Monbiot's responders there exists, to me anyway, at the very least plausible evidence in the other direction.

I just really don't have the time or inclination to debate point by point when you could at least read some of the opposing research first yourself. It's all there with Google.

Anyway here's some testimony from a top Japanese expert See if you think he sounds as relaxed as Thomas.

Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. On July 27, he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in the Diet.

With English subtitles at http://dotsub.com/view/970ac7d2-c282-4d67-a7c6-e8fb978ba12f

Incredibly angry, he accuses the Japanese government/TEPCO of total incompetence and a cover-up of the true scale and release of radiation and the damage internal exposure from the fall-out will do - especially to children.

NB the sound is out of synch but the translation is accurate - you can find edited versions elsewhere or check the transcript.

And I suspect George Monbiot has been fed crap and given a list of "approved" scientists for tame quotes by certain parties.

I hope he's a little more up to speed on the real facts now and, if he has any sense, realises he over-exposed himself. Black pun intended.

Although Caldicott is sometimes prone to hyperbole her points seem to have far more validity than the tame replies.

By the way all three reactors had already melted down and blown containment at the time Monbiot wrote that article but he chose to believe the lying Japanese government/TEPCO and his "sources" at the time who wouldn't admit it for a few more months.

They are still not admitting to the fuel pool releases (along with a lot of other stuff they remain quiet about). Well unless their "lube oil" was more radioactive than the fuel rods.

New TEPCO Photographs Substantiate Significant Damage to Fukushima Unit 3

I still believe that it was a prompt, moderated, nuclear criticality. Only time will tell. But it is a theory that accounts for the explosion on that side of the building. It accounts for the energy release on that side of the building and the fact that there is no roof there any more. It also accounts for the fact that fuel fragments were found near the building and were bulldozed under. And fuel fragments were found as far as a mile and a half away.

NRC FOIA request email

From: Jackson, Donald
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2011 8:40 PM
To: Dean, Bill; Lew, David; Wilson, Peter; Roberts, Darrell; Collins, Daniel; Lorson, Raymond; Baker, Pamela; Walker, Tracy; Clifford, James; Miller, Chris; Weerakkody, Sunil
Cc: Screnci, Diane; Sheehan, Neil; Trapp, James; McNamara, Nancy; Tifft, Doug; Hansell, Samuel; Hinson, Felicia; McKinley, Raymond; Rogge, John; Jackson, Donald; Cook, William
Subject: March 20, 2011- 2000- CA Briefing On Japan Reactor Accidents

The following is a synopsis of the briefing with changes or noteworthy items underlined:

...The band of elevated dose rates up to 18 mi from plant to the northwest seems to coincide with the only time wind was blowing in that direction being when the “lube oil fire” occurred on Unit 4 when we thought a H2 detonation and SFP fire occurred.

Fukushima Station Discharged More Radiation Than Estimated

Reactor 4

The levels of cesium 137 emissions “suddenly dropped” after Tepco started spraying water on the spent fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor, they said. Reactor 4 was idle before the quake and the fuel assemblies in the core had been placed in the spent fuel pool of the unit.

“This indicates that emissions were not only coming from the damaged reactor cores, but also from the spent fuel pool of unit 4,” the report said.

And here we are 8 months later and we're fizzling in and out of criticality. This could all still get a lot worse and it's already surpassed Chernobyl, by highly reputable third party analysis, in terms of total air and water emissions. And that's only counting the few individual isotopes they've done the calculations for. Nobody mention plutonium or uranium.

The costly fallout of tatemae and Japan's culture of deceit

There is an axiom in Japanese: uso mo hōben — "lying is also a means to an end." It sums up the general attitude in Japan of tolerance of — even justification for — not telling the truth.

...This is not sustainable. Post-Fukushima Japan must realize that public acceptance of lying got us into this radioactive mess in the first place.

For radiation has no media cycle. It lingers and poisons the land and food chain. Statistics may be obfuscated or suppressed as usual. But radiation's half-life is longer than the typical attention span or sustainable degree of public outrage.

As the public — possibly worldwide — sickens over time, the truth will leak out.

Worth repeating. Source is http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101ad.html

"As the public — possibly worldwide — sickens over time, the truth will leak out."

Can anyone explain why the concrete in the reactor buildings doesn't cling to the reo bar. In "normal" collapsed concrete buildings, (earth quake damage/ bombed building) you see lumps of concrete hanging onto the treads of reo bar, but in all of these radiation effected buildings the reo bar is clean of any cement.

Could the radiation effect the cement?
Was the type of explosion that occurred of a certain frequency that pulverized the concrete?
type of concreted used?

I would be interested in hearing any ideas as I have not seen any mention of this fact anywhere but these reactor buildings with pure clean reo bar hanging freely look unusual to me.

It must be extreme heat....even though rebar is designed to accomodate that...within limits. I assume the heat expanded the rebar within structure, thus negating the adhesion properties of concrete and then fractured apart....somewhat like spalling, but rapidly. It seems feasible but I am just a carpenter not a materials person or engineer.


Thanks for the reply and ideas, there has certainly been something differant in these explosions than in the "normal" bombings we see.

It still surprises me that nobody else that i have seen has commented on this type of degredation.

It sometimes amazes me how many professors suddenly counter the scientific mainstream view as soon as they go emeritus, when they're finally free to follow their ideology or pet beliefs and no longer bound by adhering to scientific standards. Examples that come to mind in de AGW discussion alone are: Ian Plimer, Fred Singer, Freeman Dyson, Don Easterbrook and Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever and Frederick Seitz, many of whom wrote books, essay's and op-ed's that 'prove' that the mainstream science is wrong or raise doubts. These books often are riddled with obvious errors and display strong ideological influences. There are many more such examples in other scientific fields.

There is usually a reason why a scientist publishes a book instead of the normal method of scientific discussion: peer review, their arguments are usually flawed and won't pass peer-review or are already discredited by existing peer-review. The only reason why these books are published is to influence public and politicians i.o.w. FUD, they are very rarely published to genuinely further our understanding of the subject.

This doesn't mean Allison is wrong, it only means one needs to keep in mind that it's a book written to influence the reader. It is not peer-reviewed and it rallies against current scientific understanding. Suggesting to take important decisions based on such a weak non-scientific foundation is truly a mistake of epic planetary proportions.

Although he doesn't shout it loudly so as not to confuse the issue, even Chris Busby believes that the external safe dose limits are probably too low and could go up. It's the internal dose limits where the arguments rage.

At Chernobyl contamination level the wolves referred to earlier by Steve001 only have a natural span of typically less than 10 years. Very few humans would have died from similar internal exposure by the age of 10 either - what would happen to the wolves if they lived in that environment for 50 years or more? And what happens as the genetic "errors" build up down the generations?

Yes, that touches on another issue I have with the "Fukushima is no problem because noone died of radiation" meme. There are no (really?) direct deaths because plant workers were (probably) reasonably protected against acute radiation overdose. The Fukushima prefecture civilians however will eat locally produced - possibly contaminated - food and are exposed internally to small amounts for long periods. The possible effects of the fallout to the general public will only be known in 50+ years and even then only by means of statistical tests. It is impossible to connect a single cancer case to the nuclear accident, equally as it is impossible to connect a single cancer case to smoking sigarettes, yet we can statistically prove that smoking enhances the chances of attracting cancer.

So it's easy at this time, only less then a year after the accident, to say: "See how safe nuclear power is? No deaths at all!!", but it's a totally flawed argument. Even in the future propagandists will be able to spread FUD by pointing to contradictionary or incomplete (industry but also NGO funded) research, just as is done now with the Chernobyl aftermath. The claim is always: "We cannot be sure, probably there is no connection", exactly as was done during by the tobacco companies campaigns to prevent regulation.

The PR business by now has really perfected the already very successful anti-regulation tobacco FUD campaigns from 20 years ago. It is even possible we will be seeing the same (often free-market ideological 'institutes') lobby firms involved.

In the absense of mortality and morbidity, what risk is left?

There have been health impacts from Fukushima, but nobody has yet shown that they are particularly dramatic, or that they exceed the health impacts from the simultaneous industrial chemical releases from other sources.

Exactly, thank you for making my point.

No one has had the time to develop cancer from Fukushima, so it's easy to claim that Fukushima was not bad.
And if some did (or do in the future) then you cannot attribute it directly because we cannot determine the source of cancer, so it's easy to claim that Fukushima was not bad.

So we're left with statistics, a battlefield that will play out over the coming decades. A perfect playing field for the well trained, well funded PR business and willing echochamber.

I'm missing your point completely then.

Cancer is a morbidity. It does take time to develop, but there has already been plenty of research indicating how much cancer people will get from radiation exposures above a certain level.

Below that level, despite serious attempts at doing so, no additional cancer rate was detected.

So what's your point, and are you missing mine?

OFM, I really appreciate your comments. One of the reasons why I sometimes get frustrated with naive assumptions about the nature of human beings and history.

The peaceful prosperity that has encompassed much of the world (and yes, much, and not all) has come about b/c of the PAX AMERICANA and its enforcement of the Bretton Woods system. With the collapse of the Soviet Union that peace has been heightened since now there is only one king of the hill to enforce the rules. This peace has lasted long enough for people to start to think in terms that it is normative rather than the aberration it really is. And yes, you're right - Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya - would have been classified in another era as military incursions not war. There have been very few interstate wars (civil wars are a decidedly different thing) within this generation. I'm not sure if we've not become so pampered as to be ill prepared to make the sacrifices if we live long enough to see the real thing again.

Also, one of the reasons why I'm not favourable to a more isolationist or diminished U.S.A. Like it or not, we live in the anarchy of the Westphalian system of independent nation states. Not all are equal. No room here for Rodney King sentimentality, "why can't we all get along". The strong will enforce the rules on the weak. Order depends on it. Remove America from the equation, the consequences will be swift and sure, and it will not be pretty.

The U.S.A. has been thankfully a relatively benign superpower on the world stage - something else not fully understood or appreciated either, inside or outside the United States. Nor are empires an anomaly. In fact they are a bit of a necessary evil. Some kind of imperial oversight - whether it is called that or not - will take place. If it's not Uncle Sam then who? The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia was China's proxy intervention in the Vietnam Conflict. Not too put too fine a point on it, a world dominated by China will look very different from one dominated by America. There is your sobering thought for today.


China is not going to take over the World...the Red Dragon World-dominance 'threat' is a joke. China is going to circle the drain with the U.S. and everyone else, succumbing to the Limits to Growth, resetting one way or the other to a lower energy-intensive equilibrium.

I am not quite sure you and OFM 'get' the magnitude of liquid stored fossil sunshine it takes to run our World-wide military machine. I do...I have requisitioned fuel and burned every drop for world-wide annual flying operations, and have had insights into the 'big picture' budget for such things.

Sorry, we will not keep the game afoot with sail-powered navy ships, electric tanks and HUMMERs, and bio-fuel-powered aircraft. Neither will anyone else.

The era of Team America, World Police, will draw to a close and a different reality will emerge.

You or I or no one else has any ability to stop this, just as no one has the ability to conjure up magic abiotic endless oil from the Earth.

It is inevitable, Neo.

Hi Heisenberg,

It does seem any supposed advantage is quite temporary.

re: "You or I or no one else has any ability to stop this,"

Just as a point of logic, is it not the case that "you" *and* "I" *and* everyone else - working in concert - actually could stop it?

And, in fact, it would not take all 7 B, would it?

Just a particular sub-group.

Admittedly, the sub-group members may not be interested, seeing as how it would require extraordinary courage and change. However...

What about the "oil depletion protocol"? and a set of goals that everyone shares...?

Hi Aniya, Hiesenberg,

I always read both your comments with great respect and interest, and value your pov.

Incidentally, I do agree that industrial civilization as we know is is doomed by overpopulation, pollution, and resourse depletion if not by ordinary bad luck, such as a nuclear WWIII.

But I am not so sure that the crash is going to be as abrupt and as some 0f us seem to believe, and it may be a lot farther off than we think , although personally I expect young people alive today to see it.

It is true that China may not take over the world.But most current trends indicate that there is a strong possibility that this will happen,and human nature never really changes.

It is a mistake to transpose our current cultural values when predicting what they might do, as theirs is a far different culture, and we could argue endlessly about our own values, so far as that goes.

But we know all too well how humans behave,in general terms, do we not?

Personally I try to follow the adage used by military planners which goes something to the effect of "Plan based on what the enemy is capable of doing,not what you think he will do".

Most of us seem to forget this basic principle when we consider matters of war, empire, and geopolitics.

It is commonly accepted that a country such as the US cannot win a brush fire war in a place such as Africa, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia for instance.

But let us suppose for instance that Joe Stalin, or Adolf Hitler, or Idi Amin,or Pol Pot, were in power, and in possession of our current military capabilities.

These guys would just put the herbicide industry on a war footing, spray the local food supply out of existence, blockade the area, and in a year there wouldn't be anybody left alive to blow up an oil field in Iraq.

Or maybe they would just drop a few small neutron bombs, which would work a lot faster and deptive the locals of time to thoroughly sabotage the existing infrastructure.A little residual radiation wouldn't stop them from sending in oil workers and any troops needed to mop up.

Anybody who thinks we are not eventually going to face off against SOMEBODY for the alpha dog's spot is in my humble opinion simply not facing up to reality.

And for what it is worth, I believe it will be the Chinese.They have demonstrated the political will necessary to deal with and survive crisises to a far greater extent that anyone else in recent times.

The fact that they are in a perilious spot in terms of resources makes them more dangerous, rather than less.

It remains to be seen whether they will be able to build a fully modernized military and run roughshod over their nieghbors, if they choose to do so.My own guess is first,that they will succeed in building the military;and second, that they will probably get what they want without having to use it very much. The threat alone will probably suffice.

If collapse threatens in the meantime, we can expect whatever countries that have the ability to project military power to do so, to the extent that they are able.

I can foresee for instance the US Navy blockading a west coast Canadian port to prevent the movement of oil from Canada to China when tshtf;of course a hot fight might follow such a provocative move.But by then we would have most likely already gone to war anyway, and most likely the Canadians would have suspended shipments on their own, except to allies.

It's hard to see them siding with the Chinese, if indeed the Chinese turn out to be the enemy, when or if tshtf.

The only tankers moving would be in convoys with escorts.Nobody would put to sea in an era when a single obsolete aircraft armed with an obsolete missile can easily sink an unescorted ship.

It would probably be impossible for commercial ships to operate in the confined waters of the Middle East until after the fighting is over;there are too many spots to hit them from the land with mobile missiles.More than likely even the Navy would hesitate to get in close for fear of losing too many ships.

China seems to me to never really have used its power, most of the time it has exhausted itself with internal squabbling. The only time as I can see when China projected power was the period from 1305-1331? when the Chinese sent a large Chinese fleet into the Indian Ocean on five occasion. As soon as trouble at home started the fleet was recalled and left to rot. The Chinese armed forces have hardly ever been used outside of china, The last time I think was in 1979 when they invaded North Vietnam and received a very bloody nose, but they soon scampered back behind there boarders.

Tibet in 1950?

The fact that they are in a perilious spot in terms of resources makes them more dangerous, rather than less.

I wonder what role culture might play in moderating the types of behavior we might expect from resource depleted nations (see YM's post above). Since we are well aware that resource richness (relative) has not prevented other (western?) empires from projecting power during times of plenty.


Likewise, I value your pov as well, good health and happiness to you!

I suffer no illusions about human behavior becoming magically harmonious...but...as FF decline our ability (any humans' ability) to conduct large-scale, World-wide, intensive military ops will become rather constrained.

I find your conjecture plausible that significant FF depletion rates may be a decade or so, maybe more, in the future...or it may start sooner.

Unfortunately humanity seems unwilling to transition towards a future with declining FF. There may well be spasms of large-scale global violence to secure resources, but it will burn itself out and be constrained by diminishing FF.

We shall see...

Hi OFM, Heisenberg, and TODers,

re: "Unfortunately humanity seems unwilling to transition towards a future with declining FF."

Here's my point. It's just a point of logic. Nevertheless, it relates.

1) Does "humanity" know?

2) And then make an informed choice otherwise?

It seems to me this is not the case.

re: "future with declining FF"

...is going to happen anyway...yes?

I guess this leads to the real question:

3) Is there anything you two/three, and others think you/we/someones can do to effect the outcome? Or, to influence events towards a more positive outcome?

That is: effect it in any way? Possible goals (choose one or more): A less suffering in "transition", B) low-energy re-localized industrial civilization. or....etc.

"Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace" Attributed to Calgacus, A.D. 83 or 84.

Plus ça change, eh?

I would not have been so surprised if had I heard the old Soviet govt, or some hard up third world country, had built reactors in such an entirely unsuitable spot, and cut sio many corners, but .....

I think the US had a strong say in where their American designed and built reactors were sited at the time.

There are still 23 similar operational BWR reactors in the US which were identified many years ago as having catastrophic failure modes including ones seen at Fukushima. Some of these failings have been "patched" - other relatively easy terrorist initiated failures have been identified in public documents and nothing much has been done. Sticking fuel pools 100 feet in the air was beyond stupid just for starters and the Japanese can't be blamed for that decision.

"but the rest of the world WILL go nuclear, and there is nothing we can do to stop it from doing so."

I don't agree with this OFM, because of the recent debt nightmare starting to unfold. I see it as a tough go to achieve financing in countries in debt to their eyeballs.

I have been amazed at this limping along for the last few years, and with the Greece referendum believe it wouldn't take much to speed up the decay....just mho.

Neither do I agree with OFM on this.In India where the nuclear plants are designated to be started the opposition is incredible.People lying naked on the ground with temps at 40°C to prevent bulldozers,children 10-14 years fasting as a sign of protest,villagers fighting bullets with stones.OFM you have no idea what Fukushima has imbedded into the minds of the most illiterate of the illiterates in the world.You can get away with this in China but not in a democracy.

Several interesting points here.

But I was simply knocked flat on my backside by the shortcomings of the design of the Japanese reactors which failed so miserably due to a tsunami.

In some ways, this is a legitimate response -- there were very serious shortcomings. In other ways, it's completely expected. The first commercial reactors went into service in the 1950s, and the Fukushima reactors are all essentially 1960s designs, reflecting less than 15 years of actual experience. I could properly say, today, that I am shocked by the shortcomings of the automobiles designed in the 1960s (dirty, unsafe, inefficient, prone to breaking down). And that was after 50 years of commercial experience. I think it's one of Engineer-Poet's rules: if you're going to commit to nuclear, you have to really commit to it, with a long-term plan to keep rolling the reactor fleet over to improved designs. We are, I think, making a mistake in extending the operating licenses of existing reactors. OTOH, for the eastern part of the US, which gets almost 20% of its electricity from nukes, there doesn't seem to be a lot of alternatives if they want to keep the lights on.

Greenish has noted here before that the real long term danger is spent fuel;I owe a lot to his commentary, and find his arguments convincing.

If you build the right sort of next-generation fission reactors, and commit to sane recycling of the spent fuel, today's spent fuel is an asset, not a debit. Separated, the actinides in "spent" fuel are still fuel, and the fission products are much easier to deal with in terms of safe storage (a few centuries or even decades, not the current 10,000 or 100,000 years). Not that there aren't dangers in recycling, but I think it's a better strategy than a once-through fuel cycle.

It just does not seem at all likely to me that renewable energy can ever come on fast enough to take the place of depleting ff.

Globally, no. Regionally, perhaps, for select regions. Consider the region defined by the Western Interconnect in North America. Roughly 25% of its electricity is already from renewables; it has quite large unexploited renewable resources relative to its population; that population is relatively concentrated (surprising to many, that region of the US has a smaller fraction of rural population than the US as a whole); the renewable resources are located in relatively close proximity to its population centers.

If we lose our dominant position in the world, things may go pretty hard for us;the masters of the next empire may play hardball.

Other than nuclear weapons, or confining us to North America, I have trouble envisioning what "hardball" would be. There are worse places to be confined to than North America (sans Mexico); arguably, it's one of the better places, in terms of resource-to-population sorts of ratios.

Sorry, Mac, I agree with Stoneleigh's assesment: Nuclear decommissioning and waste sequestering will require sound, active management and technical expertise far longer than any (human) civilization has endured. Several comments above make the ridiculous assumption that our civilization is somehow exceptional and will continue indefinitly. Your strong sense of history should tell you that this is perhaps the most selfish and short-sighted Faustian bargain humans have ever made. Pro-nuke stances, even reluctant ones, are, IMO, the most extreme example of discounting the future.

We hear arguments about thorium this or fast that reactors, but see little progress, and considering that virtually all reactors currently being built or planned are standard fission, foul-waste producing monsters, and also considering that industrial societies are in decline, no technucopian arguments will ever convince me that the nuclear energy option is either wise or moral.

Time to pay the energy piper and power down. Time to stop playing with fire.

An additional 12,000 metric tonnes of high level waste each year...

You keep banging on the powerdown drum, and it's a good idea, but it just isn't going to happen until there is simply no other possible choice.

Therefore, the responsible course of action for those who know is to do what we can to make both our own and our neighbors' impulses less destructive.

Nuclear power done right is less destructive than coal. Even done wrong it appears to be less destructive than coal. That doesn't make nuclear an ideal choice, but it does make it a *better* choice.


Up here in Minnesota there is a debate right now about giving a rich sports team lots of money to build a new stadium, but they came up with a catch this time.

The team owners are pushing to build it on the most notorious brownfield site in the area, an abandoned ammunition plant that has been sitting idle for decades.

This is the first time there has been serious talk of cleaning the site up in at least 15 years and is likely to be the only way that cleanup will happen for at least another 15. The ground there is polluted with heavy metals and all manner of organic and inorganic toxins, solvents and explosives residue.

So, what is the moral choice here?

I imagine that the taxpayers would have to fund the cleanup. I guess it comes down to a question of where the money comes from then - if there are cuts from other needed things, I would be disinclined to go along with it. If they find some other source of revenue (a tax on tickets?), then I would be all for it.

This type of extortion by major league sports teams has irritated me for many years now.

I have to agree with you on this one, in the city close to where I live a Hockey team is trying to get the citizens of of the city to fund a new downtown arena and the owners of the team are basically blackmailing the city.

It is only when the citizens of the western world finally realize that major sports is a corporate racket. That it is designed to make money for the corporation. Then there will become a real competition amongst players who will finally see themselves as people and not just pawns.

Given the situation facing humanity regarding our stable future, the insanity of arguing over sports facilities and who pays is going to seem really shortsighted down the road. IMHO


America's Stoned Bobble-heads.. you might say.

Hockey is special, come on now.

"It is only when the citizens of the western world finally realize that major sports is a corporate racket."

LOL. Not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. Really, what else would they do for amusement???

And this is why the Green Bay Packers are the only sports team worthy of respect.

Hi Ghung,

I must admit you have a very powerful argument-but I don't see any way of enforcing it.

And I am not at all sure that nuclear wastes cannot be safely stored for geological time periods.

I have posed this question before;Suppose we were to pump the stuff, down into a deep exhausted oil field where the geology is known to be stable, putting a modest amount in any given well?It might be a good idea to mix it with something along the lines of glass, which is not very soluble.

As I understand it, oilfields are millions of years old, and mostly capped by thousands of feet of impermeable stone.

At any rate, we are faced with a nigh insoluble energy problem, given the nature of the human beast.

I am not actually saying I'm in favor of nuclear power now, as I once was;I am saying that short term survival , as a practical matter, trumps long term survival.It could be that the short to medium term case for nukes is as compelling as the long term case against them.

As I noted above, I expect to be safely dead before this issue is settled.

History is often made by the willingness of a particular leader or country to bet everything on one roll of the dice.Up until Hiroshima, it did not seem possible that one roll of the dice could take out the whole of us, but now...

A little story here may be relevant. Once upon a time, my sister, looking out her window, was horrified to see her nice neighbor chasing his wife and kid around her yard taking swipes at them with a butcher knife. Sister shrieked, the other neighbors, being all texans, immediately rushed out with their uzzis and terminated the guy with extreme prejudice.

Moral - people can and do go nuts. In this case, a fast brain tumor. And when they go nuts, they can do truly awful totally unpredictable and devastating things, like blow up that storage tank full of your favorite bad.

As a R&D engineer, I play around with bad stuff all the time, and have got myself hurt a few times, but overall, I don't feel much threatened. If on the other hand, If I lost all my marbles all at once, instead of just a few every friday like I do now, I might cause some serious grief to a lot of good people real fast.

So that's my problem with nuclear. Technically, ok, some bad, lots of good. The bad can be taken care of. But then there's the bad guy (s). They cannot be taken care of, at least not all the time. Not good.
Those same bad guys would have a pretty ludicrous time trying to do much bad with a field of windmills, PV, home insulation and all that stuff, but with nuclear, we are getting serious.

Me, I would rather power down, In fact I have, fairly far, and I an HAPPIER than my good friends, who have not. I certainly am not any kind of saint, genius or philosopher. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

or at a social scale... the most likely way I see high level nuclear waste resurfacing is when it gets dug up by some lunatic terrorist fringe who just want it to create mayhem.

At a physical/chemical level, the freaky thing about radioactive material is its instability. You can put the stuff in any container you like, but it will be emitting various high energy particles and transforming its own chemical make-up. All this tends to fracture and corrode any container.

If you have toxic chemicals, there is usually some half-way reasonable way to neutralize the stuff chemically. Theoretically one can imagine some wild process of isotopic separation, neutron bombardment, etc. to transform the radioactive nuclei into less nasty forms, but the cost of this would be utterly prohibitive for any sort of power-generation scheme. Maybe for medical diagnostics and similar applications, the amount of nuclear material is small enough and the value high enough to make the technology worth the management headache.

Theoretically one can imagine some wild process of isotopic separation, neutron bombardment, etc. to transform the radioactive nuclei into less nasty forms, but the cost of this would be utterly prohibitive for any sort of power-generation scheme.

Not theoretically, and not prohibitive. One reactor design, which was tested back in the late sixties, can run on Thorium, and can accept 10-20% SNF, (Spent Nuclear Fuel), from conventional nuclear reactors. This reactor type, LFTR, (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor), has none of the failure modes that caused problems in Japan, Three Mile Island, or Chernobyl. http://www.energyfromthorium.com

For those inclined to think of plutonium as evil, it is like the One Ring. Dropping it in the river, or burying under a mountain doesn't really solve the problem. It must be destroyed in the fire from whence it came. The fission products output by LFTR need be stored for only 300 years before their radiation level is down to that of the ore originally mined. Virtually all of the Plutonium, and Uranium in the SNF is destroyed.

It would be easier for me if I were a real engineer rather than backyard amatuer, but I have managed to do a considerable bit of powering down, and like you, I am well satisfied with the results.I have several more projects in mind, to be taken care of as time permits.

I don't really know if terrorists are a real threat visavis nuclear power of not;it seems to me, having worked in a number of nuclear plants up and down the east coast, that it would take a very well organized and equipped military operation to seriously endanger a nuclear plant of the sort we built here in the states.

But the possibility cannot be dismissed that such an attack might take place, and such an attack might be easily organized in a country suffering from severe civil disturbances or too impoverished to maintain an adequate security force at the plant.

A cruise missle tipped with a small nuke would create a VERY nasty mess, no doubt, if it were to hit a containment or spent fuel storage site.

If anyone with RELEVANT expertise happens to see this, I am interested in knowing if a conventional bomb is apt to breech a typical containment building of the sort used in the US.

that it would take a very well organized and equipped military operation to seriously endanger a nuclear plant of the sort we built here in the states.

US official studies have suggested that one man with the right portable (conventional not nuclear) missile could do it to certain plants. In testimony several years ago someone said something like (and I am being deliberately vague because I feel a little uncomfortable posting direct links): "We might as well paint a target at a certain spot on the building."

Additionally trial dummy attempts (by appropriate authorities) have been run testing certain attacks on US nuclear facilities which resulted in the fake terrorists apparently successfully infiltrating a facility with a crude 1 kiloton bomb which they can build extremely easily and fuel once inside the facility. Again info can be found with some googling.

Bottom line is very, very, very simple methods can be used to build a crude, very dirty, nuclear bomb without using "weapons grade" material.

And don't forget that many vulnerable US fuel pools are outside of any real containment just as they were at Fukushima.

All the above information is in the public domain.

And don't forget that many vulnerable US fuel pools are outside of any real containment just as they were at Fukushima.

Undertow, what happened at Fukushima makes one realize the risks resulting from the similar storage of spent fuel in the US.

Good point. Clearly all that has to happen is the power supply be interrupted and the backup generators not work. This could happen by any number of accidental or intentional means.

Concern (at least) is completely in order here.

If it is in the public domain, can you please cite it?

The claim you have made here is just completely absurd. Constructing an ad-hoc nuclear bomb from the materials found in a light water reactor facility? I know that nuclear bomb designs seem simple on Wikipedia but come on.

He's saying (I believe) that by forcing a Nuclear Power Plant, or its spent fuel pools into a recriticality or meltdown IS creating what amounts to a dirty bomb.

There is that possibility but there are others. I'll give one link to Wikipedia.

Plutonium(IV) oxide

PuO2 is used in MOX fuels for nuclear reactors.

...Physicist Peter Zimmerman, following up a suggestion by Ted Taylor, demonstrated that a low-yield (1-kiloton) nuclear bomb could be made relatively easily from plutonium oxide.[3]

This requires the ability to machine the fuel. It can't be done by terrorists breaking into a nuclear power plant.

I find it reasonable that skilled and fairly well funded terrorists with could puncture a spent fuel pool.

Making a crude abour 1 kiloton nuclear bomb has nothing to do with current civilian nuclear power since that would require highly enriched uranium.
But that is only my impression from open sources.

Did you check out my Peter Zimmerman reference above?

Also, out of curiosity, what do you think happened in Spent Fuel Pool 3?

Yes, I watched it.

I dont know what happened and it will take a while before the fuel is pulled from the pool and analyzed, I will follow the news about it.

I am interested in knowing if a conventional bomb is apt to breech a typical containment building of the sort used in the US.

We have the two attacks on the Iraqi reactor (can't remember its names). First the Iranians tried, with conventional bombs, which essentially bounced off the containment structure. About a year later the Israelis took it out with bunkre busters. The later are not conventional weapons, but are designed to burrow deeply into ground or cobcrete before exploding. In extreme cases a very technologically capable attacker could use a series of bunker busters, each exploiting the crater/hole left by the previous one to get in deeper.

I know a guy who helped design some of these babies....

I am going to predict that Fukushima will go the way of Chernobyl.

It will be surrounded by 'do not enter' signs.

That seems to be the most realistic future radioactive 'disposal' for future nuclear power plants: 'do not enter' signs.

GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain unaware China has nukes

Not a problem. If Cain becomes Prez he can prompt the Israeli air force to take care of China's nuclear program.;-)

Cain has shown he is as big if not bigger an idiot regarding World affairs than Sarah Palin.


His candidacy is officially a joke.

At least to me...unfortunately the majority of U.S. Americans probably didn't know enough to question his blatantly ignorant remark.

I would advise him to stick to pizza, but I didn't care for his pies either.

So who's expecting an Obama - Romney race then? Anybody looking at other potential Can-do Dates?

The next First Lady?


OMG!!!!! Newt 2012...

This looks like one of those horror movie dolls that kills people. Is this a real picture?

Great photo. I always thought Newt was an over educated idiot. Maybe she managed to hypnotize him one night when they were doing something (unmentionable in polite society) with the lights on. Did he become a Catholic to try to buy back his soul from a she-devil with a confession (or, maybe several)? Or, maybe Ol' Newt is planning an exorcism after the inauguration...

E. Swanson

Ghung, I have met Callista at a campaign event this past summer. To me, she seems like a nice and sincere lady.

Best hopes for the spouse of whoever becomes the next president.

"...she seems like a nice and sincere lady."

I'm sure she must be. She landed the Speaker of the House while he was still married. At least she managed to make an 'honest man' out of him ;-/

With all due respect, since I know nothing about her, she caught the guy by being "dishonest", but can now appear to be "nice and sincere". Of course, we know that in some countries, adultery is a crime punishable by death. If the Newt gets to be Prez, he better not go to Saudi Arabia...

E. Swanson


It's usually or only the female that gets the punishment, though, right?

H - Exactly. As I joked before it's becoming increasingly depressing to be a conservative. Chatting with a coworker yesterday it looks like the best vote would be for Romney, who most I knew consider to be Obama-light. At Least I give President Obama credit for laying out there as he feels. Romney's promises don't carry much credibility with me. But, hey, at least he looks presidential. And that's all that really matters. LOL.

The problem is the current internal conservative dynamic, is that you gotta appear to have only a good-old-boy level of expertise. Display any more, and you are one of the conniving class of elites. Of course it can be carried too far, as apparently Perry, and Backman are sinking.

At least Romney seems to have the mental chops. Its just that if you have political ambition you gotta play to the crowd, and that means spooting the belief of the day.

Greer, on conservatism vs. the neocons:

When the neoconservative movement burst on the American scene in the last years of the 20th century, some thinkers in the older and more, well, conservative ends of the American right noted with a good deal of disquiet that the "neocons" had very little in common with conservatism in any historically meaningful sense of that word. In the Anglo-American world, conservatism had its genesis in the writings of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who argued for an organic concept of society, and saw social and political structures as phenomena evolving over time in response to the needs and possibilities of the real world. Burke objected, not to social change—he was a passionate supporter of the American Revolution, for instance—but to the notion, popular among revolutionary ideologues of his time (and of course since then as well), that it was possible to construct a perfect society according to somebody’s abstract plan....
...in the 1920s, a radically different sense of what conservatism ought to be took shape on the fringes of the right wing in America and elsewhere, and moved slowly inward over the decades that followed. The rise to power of the neoconservatives in 2000 marked the completion of this trajectory.

A great read goes on: "Neoconservatism, in other words, was not conservatism at all; it was to Communism precisely what Satanism is to Christianity..."

I suggest reading last week's post as a primer to this one.

Thank you Ghung, for pointing this out!

I have often felt it necessary to point out that I am not a republican, and that the current generation of republicans are not conservatives in the true sense of the word.

As I see things, good strong conservation and environmental protection laws are at the core entirely consistent with real conservative values as such laws protect the public from the sins of individuals and corporations;of course in order to understand this position, one must understand enough of the physical sciences to see why this is true.Unfortunately, real conservatives are not plentiful, and not too many of them of them understand thses things; and furthermore, a good many of the ones that do have switched political allegiances as a matter of practical politics.

Although I consider myself a conservative, I will be holding my nose and voting for whoever seems to be the lesser of two evils next election, as I have for the last decade or so.

"Ours is the only civilization in history which has enshrined mediocrity as its national ideal." From the book, The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy.

Desperate times call for a rigorous respect for the facts. This is not in evidence in our political discourse.

Interesting, but is this really true? I don't find much that's "mediocre" about American life, rather it seems to me like one big absurd frenzy bordering on anarchy.

If anything mediocrity is what we need. But nobody is comfortable being mediocre. Mediocre people trying desperately not to be mediocre is how I would describe it.

I shouldn't be surprised anymore of the depth of ignorance of Republican Presidential Candidates (or of most any politician for that matter), but I did have an 'OMG' reaction to that one: that was a pretty basic fact, and very relevant for someone whose finger may be on 'the button.'

You are obviously opening a can of worms with the 'relative safety' question. I would like to say that it is the wrong question, since no one I know who is against nuclear power is in favor of coal. Saying one is bad does not make the other good.

But just to frame the considerations that would have to be taken into account to begin to seriously address the question--you would need to look at increasingly vast time frames and at many indirect effects. With coal, you have everything from mining accidents, to ash heaps collapsing, to respiratory problems from dirtier coal plants, to the many long range implications of climate change.

Nuclear proponents will of course trumpet their claim that no one has ever died from anything in their industry. If someone want to buy that load of crap, I guess they are hearing what they want to hear. But every stage of the process is dangerous to the workers and those in the vicinity--mining, transporting, processing, operation of plants, 'accidents', short term waste storage, waste transport, disposing of the entire plant, long term storage...

People usually just focus on the last of these, but they all have seen documented, undocumented (it's a very secretive industry), and potential hazards. Mostly, though, the problem with getting clear figures on casualties is that most people get sick and die in a wide variety of ways from a variety of kinds of exposure, most of which are hard to trace back to the source of exposure.

And of course most of the deaths will be in the future: as things inevitably fall apart and societal chaos leaves nukes in the hands of the less and less competent (or outright malevolent), and as the increasingly climate chaos sets in, and just because of the accidents of history, eventually every single nuclear plant and storage site will become the Fukushima or worse, poisoning vast swaths of land for long periods of time.

So it's hard to calibrate exactly, but both are toxic solutions to what is ultimately a non-problem.

Humanity does not need massive and ever increasing quantities of energy to exist, only consumerist industrial (and now almost completely capitalist) society needs this.

What humanity needs more than anything is reduced expectations--vastly reduced use of almost everything, but especially of the most high consuming items and services: Flying, driving, meat eating, consuming tons of crap...

The top 20% which consumes about 80% of energy and resources, can vastly reduce its use of all these with little affect on happiness and health (in fact, a likely increase in both). And yes, we all have to have fewer (or no) children.

You and I know that the whole tenor of modern industrial, commercial society is in the opposite direction, and the feedback dynamics of GW and mass extinction are already to the point that we have likely already sealed our collective doom.

What humanity needs more than anything is reduced expectations--vastly reduced use of almost everything, but especially of the most high consuming items and services: Flying, driving, meat eating, consuming tons of crap...

Good luck with that. The 'developed' world is hopelessly addicted to consumption and the expectation of more consumption, and nothing short of being *forced* to downsize will change this mindset. Watch a politician propose taking away an American's cheap beer, NASCAR and cheez doodles, and look out for the pitchforks and torches! A former VP summed it up succinctly: "the American way of life is non-negotiable." The third world, by-and-large, desperately wants to become first-worlders, and who can really blame them? Does anyone really like being poor and living without electricity, adequate housing, potable water, enough food to eat, etc.?

The top 20% which consumes about 80% of energy and resources, can vastly reduce its use of all these with little affect on happiness and health (in fact, a likely increase in both). And yes, we all have to have fewer (or no) children.

I don't know about the bottom 99% "vastly" reducing consumption with little affect on happiness and health, but I'll buy "significantly". Even if the first world were to magically reduce our per capita consumption to parity with the rest of the world, the growth in world population combined with the effort by poor nations to attain a first world lifestyle would erase that offset in a matter of years.

Conversely, if the nations of the world were to suddenly become serious about population reduction and cut current world population to a billion or less, we could all live quite sustainably even at American rates of consumption. Imagine a world without constant proxy wars over resources, competition over scarcity, where everyone has a comfortable social safety net and all basic needs provided for. It's easy if you try.

By 'vastly' I only mean what the domestic UK underwent in WWII--95% reduction in petrol use, very little meat and dairy, walking or biking to most locations...Their health improved greatly and most who lived through it remember fondly the sense of shared sacrifice (even if it wasn't much fun having bombs hurled at you).

I share your pessimism that the well off will voluntarily move in this direction en mass. I'm just pointing out that it is doable and frankly the only way, since there is no moral way to bring the world population to one billion any time soon. (By the way, I'm not sure 1b would be low enough--iirc, Americans on average use about 7 'earths' so with a seventh of the current planet population using that quantity, they would still use up an earth, leaving little for the rest of the living creatures on the planet. www.myfootprint.org .)

And even today, the UK is slim. We went there last month and I don't remember seeing a single obese person...except my sister, who was travelling with us.

UK has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe, and rising rapidly.


Ron, The article link regarding new coal power plants being built in China is from June 2007. I wonder if they are still building new plants today at the same rate?

The media Eurozone babble is becoming pure propaganda. It is clear that there are business writers who blanket difficulties to those nasty people with the vote. Thanks to the BBC, we are told that,

European stock markets have fallen back from early Wednesday gains, as concerns persist about Greece's decision to hold a referendum on last week's eurozone bailout deal.

Then we are told,

Japanese electronics giant Sony has warned that it will make its fourth annual loss in a row.


Carmakers Toyota and Honda continue to struggle in the US as they report weaker-than-expected sales for October.


Shares in Lloyds Banking Group have fallen 5% after the company said that chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio is to take medical leave.

All of which is bad news for the markets and none of which has anything to do with the people of Greece deciding on their future.

So much for the old adage that the free press and fair elections go hand in hand with free markets. Facts no longer support that myth.

The media Eurozone babble is becoming pure propaganda.

I've noticed a pattern in the media of building up the idea the EU will be fine, followed by increases in theirs and our stock markets, followed by doom and gloom articles regarding euro debt problems, leading to big market drops, and so on... By historical standards these fluctuations are huge.

Ok, now step back and wonder how much money could be made on the markets if you're the one that knows the timing of such articles. What came first the chicken or the egg? Is the media in step with Euro zone debt problems or playing them like a fiddle?

People rationalize situations they're stuck with, but rebel when they think there's an out

Psychological studies have found two contradictory results about how people respond to rules. Some research has found that, when there are new restrictions, you rationalize them; your brain comes up with a way to believe the restriction is a good idea. But other research has found that people react negatively against new restrictions, wanting the restricted thing more than ever.

Kristin Laurin of the University of Waterloo thought the difference might be absoluteness -- how much the restriction is set in stone. "If it's a restriction that I can't really do anything about, then there's really no point in hitting my head against the wall and trying to fight against it," she says. "I'm better off if I just give up. But if there's a chance I can beat it, then it makes sense for my brain to make me want the restricted thing even more, to motivate me to fight" Laurin wrote the new paper with Aaron Kay and Gavan Fitzsimons of Duke University.

That's been a phenomenon that has been long observed. One of the reasons why revolutions tend to break out once restrictions are easing not the other way around. Louis XVI of France was a reform minded monarch and certainly more conscientious and willing to institute change than his crusty absolutist predecessors, Louis XIV and Louis XV. Nicholas II did not fit the autocratic stature or mold of his father, Alexander III. The North administration under George III went to great lengths to accommodate the demands of the 13 colonies, who incidentally paid marginal taxation levels compared to those in the mother country.

Another observation I've made: the stricter a teacher, the more likely children will remember them fondly as adults. Rules are made to be broken but only if you can get away with it.

Re Teaching;

An older friend reminded me that the strictness needs to be in the willingness to tell learners 'That's not good enough. You can do it better, and you must.'

Sometimes people confuse strictness with cruelty or 'teaching through frustration and anger', and I think that is a distinction that's critical to understand.

As with Peak Oil, there is a very strong disinclination in this culture to tell people things they don't want to hear, and all parties then often do what they can to avoid that discomfort.

Greenhouse gases to overpower ozone hole

The ozone hole has significantly transformed the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which sets the latitude of the Southern Hemisphere jet stream and storm track, and has a profound influence on the oceans.

The ozone-induced changes in the SAM have been linked to cooler than average temperatures over East Antarctica and higher than normal summer temperatures over Patagonia and the northern Antarctic Peninsula.

As the influence of the ozone hole on the SAM decreases and greenhouse gases increase, dramatic shifts in climate are expected across Antarctica and many regions of the mid-latitude the Southern Hemisphere.

Increased use of bikes for commuting offers economic, health benefits

Cutting out short auto trips and replacing them with mass transit and active transport would yield major health benefits, according to a study just published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The biggest health benefit was due to replacing half of the short trips with bicycle trips during the warmest six months of the year, saving about $3.8 billion per year from avoided mortality and reduced health care costs for conditions like obesity and heart disease.

Moving five-mile round trips from cars to bikes is a win-win situation that is often ignored in discussions of transportation alternatives, says Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "We talk about the cost of changing energy systems, the cost of alternative fuels, but we seldom talk about this kind of benefit."

Agree with this. I'm just west of Madison and this year i've biked from roughly March until November with no big issues. By Mid November its time to close it up for me most years. March can be iffy, but usually by late in the month I can get out. Rain is always an issue up here in spring, summer, fall (its raining today). I'm no fan of the hot weather (June and July were really bad this year). In the past I've biked to work (20 minutes) and I'm basically taking a shower in the bathroom (completely covered in sweat). I have to change all my clothes, including socks/undies. To me that is the biggest issue with commuting. If work places had showers, life would be easier. I sweat like a pig.

How energy analysis can create more bang for the energy research buck

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working on a wide variety of clean energy technologies—from biofuels to batteries to solar energy—but now these disparate efforts are being tied together with an in-depth and innovative analytical approach that will show which technologies are the most beneficial to pursue. The analysis will also give feedback to scientists before a technology hits the marketplace, allowing them to adjust and refine the technology so as to maximize its economic and environmental impact.

The team’s analysis will yield an array of useful information for scientists, funding agencies and policymakers, such as whether a technology will reduce energy or water use, whether it will do so cost-effectively, and how the cost-effectiveness varies according to factors such as different climates and geographies, cost of energy and the mix of fuels that supply energy. Furthermore, the team will look at whether the technology will produce additional jobs and revenue, what kinds of barriers it faces to enter the marketplace and the magnitude of the environmental benefits—including reductions in energy and resource use and human health impacts.

S - Sounds like an excellent plan. But makes me wonder how they made decisions on all those billions they've already handed out.

Actually its a really bad idea (I've been involved in this type of area before). Frankly good people to investigate the various areas are more a constriction than money, or at least should be. Getting them truly engaged is the trick.

It's kind of like going along to Michaelangelo, riffling through his sketches, and then discarding many as 'unlikely to provide a good painting'. If you aren't somewhere near his level of skill, you're not likely to get it anywhere near right. That goes double if you use some metric to 'analyse' the work.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 28, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending October 28, 33 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 85.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 9.0 million barrels per day last week, down by 419 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 142 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 781 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 122 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 339.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 3.6 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 1.9 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 4.0 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 4.2 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 6.6 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.0 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

The small gain in commercial inventories is pretty closely equal to the decline in 'products supplied' by refineries, week over week. Products supplied is a close, but not exact indicator of demand from the final consumer, utility, or company.

According to MasterCard, gasoline demand slipped last week, and in general, gasoline demand has been slowly falling in recent weeks - despite generally lower retail prices than a few months ago and even though there are some small signs of a marginal increase in economic activity.

US gasoline demand falls despite price dip-MasterCard

Tue Nov 1, 2011 2:00pm EDT

Nov 1 (Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline demand fell last
week even as average pump prices dipped slightly, MasterCard
said in its weekly SpendingPulse report on Tuesday.

Demand dropped 2.7 percent in the week to Oct. 28 compared
with the same week in 2010, the report showed. Gasoline demand
declined 0.4 percent versus the week to Oct. 21, it said.


Meanwhile the MSM is finally catching on to the fact that US oil inventories are, in general, have been in a persistent decline since late May. The reason given is exactly the same as I have discussed many times here before: falling crude imports and rising product exports - and the low price of WTI vs. Brent.

NOVEMBER 3, 2011

Oil Inventories Slip, Slide Away

Supplies Tighten at Key U.S. Hub After Glut for Most of Year, Putting Premium on Near-Term Contracts

The tide is turning in oil markets.

A glut of crude, particularly at an important U.S. hub, that had oil companies and traders fixated for much of this year is giving way to worries about a decline in supplies. The article below correctly notes that the decline in total US commercial inventories is due to falling crude imports and rising product exports.

At Cushing, Okla., the storage hub that is key to determining U.S. oil prices, inventories are down 14% since the beginning of the year despite a slight rise last week, according to the latest data released Wednesday by the Department of Energy. While total U.S. crude stockpiles are slightly higher since the start of 2011, they are down 9.2%, to about 339.5 million barrels, from a May peak.

The reversal has caused a jump in U.S. crude prices and revived talk of a return to the triple digits. Driving the fall in inventories is a global fuel appetite that is sated partly by U.S. refineries processing crude and then exporting products like diesel and gasoline to countries like China.


See also my earlier post:

Why US Oil Inventories Will Keep Falling, After the SPR Oil of Summer is Gone

Great new 9 minute video. David Korten: Capitalism, Democracy, and Food (Video)

Korten explains that our existing industrial agriculture system receives essential public subsidies (and tax support) that offset the real costs of energy, and food production. Without these supports, the global food system would no longer be economically viable. Who are the true beneficiaries of a food system that separates the eater from the source of their food? The large agribusiness corporations. Korten argues that both "peak oil" and climate change makes it imperative that we transition to a more localized food economy to insure continued access to adequate food supplies.

Ron P.

Nice warm fuzzy video of a nice warm fuzzy guy talking nice warm fuzzy talk, but it's not going to happen on any scale that matters.

The problem with food in America is over supply and that is why Americans are so huge. True, corporations market junk food to maximize profits, but most people willingly buy it and avoid eating the good stuff because the of the preparation work involved and the craving for sugars and starches.

As for agriculture being subsidized, so is nearly every other business you can think of including the grocery store: think food stamps.

Subsidies are as American as apple pie. Those hardy early Americans would have hardly moved west without the prospect of free land which of course was stolen from the natives.

Even today the wealthiest and richest corporations in the world, American oil companies, are subsidized as pointed in another Huffington piece.


Only subsidies to the less powerful ever get serious attention. The weak get their subsidies cut or eliminated while the powerful such and oil companies and banks get to keep theirs. And that's the way it is.

Well, the problem may be over supply, but not of all types of foods. There is not an over supply of veggies and fruit, for example, because these don't get the subsidies.

Our farm bill needs a major overhaul, but our current batch of nitwit legislators (and the armies of lobbyists behind them) are not up to the task, apparently.

But why dismiss Korten. Don't we need lots of voices screaming about how insane our system is?

In the UK consumption of everything, stuff and energy, has been steadily falling since 2001, and sometimes before.
Paper, fertilizer, cars even food calories -in spite of the obesity epidemic.

Why is our consumption falling?
The data, taken from ONS and graphics in

Peak stuff: the data

It is raw quantities, not weighted by population increase.
Energy figures are total energy, Callahan's Energy Export Databrowser site has them well separated by kinds in the UK.


Not unrelated perhaps, in Spain sales of cars have dropped in October 2011 to the level of October 1984, although the population is several millions greater.
Unemployment in Spain 5 Million, Pop. ~46 million, 21% unemployment, ~50% among the young people.

In the Databrowser the consumption of Oil in the Eurozone also shows remarkable decreases.

Financial crisis forces Berlusconi to delay release of latest love song CD
Rolling economic storm clouds scupper the publishing date of the Italian prime minister's "True Love" album

With an imbecile like this as a "leader" I'm surprised Italy has made it this far. Why don't the Italians tar & feather this jackass?


I've said for years he is the Clown of Europe. The scandals of coruption and incompetence are to many to count, only to be chalenged by his ever growing list of emberasing things to say and do. By no means the worst of leaders of Italy (at least one of the Roman emperors must have been worse) but surely the worst of Europe.

Apparently the only people who actually matter - the Italian voters - aren't as up-in-arms as outsiders, inasmuch as the guy has remained in office a long time. Presumably they have no reason in the world to give a stuff about what "Merkozy" think, just as American voters had no reason in the world to give a stuff about how the European elite felt about G.W. Bush. In both cases the matter flunks the "so what?" test.

More on-topic, and according to the article itself, the ill-advised behavior of outsiders has exacerbated the situation and "...prompted even some of the Italian prime minister's fiercest enemies to close ranks behind him." Avoidance of that sort of counterproductive psychology also ought to be considered when choosing how to try to persuade people about, oh, to pick something out of the air, energy issues.

I think Greek leaders might be even worse.

"Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds"

I read the thirst 3 pages of the article. It was 8 pages long and I just can not read that much from a computer screen.

The main error of your statment above is, I think, the use of the word "leaders". Reading that article I get the feeling the greek people behaves like pupils in a school where the teacher have given up to enforce any policys at all. The kids can do what they want. They show up in class if they want, do their homeworks if they want, listen to teachers if they want, and so on, but every single kid gets out with top grades in the end.

The greek "leaders" do not lead at all, they just alow the people to do just what the heck they want, and give them everything they ask for. That is not leadership.

It is time for the greek to grow up, to face consequences. Time to pay the bill.

Sounds like Americans.

Here are a couple of USA Today articles on the US dollar bill.

Editorial: Ditch the dollar bill and live with change

Paper dollars wear out in about three years and then are typically shredded and put in landfills. Coins cost more to make, but they last 30 years or more, and they're recyclable when they become too worn to circulate.

Opposing view: Save the dollar bill

An October 2011 independent, nationwide and scientific poll found that 76% of Americans oppose doing away with the dollar bill, and 77% view the dollar coin as unwanted.

And another link: Dollar Coin Alliance

Americans favor a switch to dollar coins by a 2:1 margin when informed of the cost savings.

Just like striving to improve fuel efficiency, I feel we could improve the efficiency of our dollars and cents. "Little changes" can indeed make a difference. If the public wants to solve our financial problems in this country, we must start now, even with "baby steps" and keep making the changes, both large and small. I think a more comprehensive plan than just focusing on the dollar however may be desirable.

I'd suggest the following:

  • Eliminate the one cent (penny) and round transactions to the nearest 5 cents, or at the seller's option round down.

  • Mint the dollar coin to replace the dollar bill. The cash register dish freed from the pennies provides room for the dollar coin.

  • Coinciding with the conversion from a paper $1 to a coin $1, reintroduce the $2 paper currency. The cash register slot freed from the $1 bill gets used for the $2 bill.
      Does anyone else have suggestions to improve the efficiency of the US money?

    Best hopes for greater efficiency.

  • This plan is basically what Australia did 20 years ago, though it still doesn;t go far enough.

    Australia ditched the $1note back int he early 80's
    Ii ditched the $2note in 1988 - the lowest bill now being the $5
    And it got rid of the 1 and2c coins in the early 90's, with the seller deciding whether to round up or down.

    At first, some people got in tizz about the the rounding up, but everyone got over it after a few months, and no one lamented the dissappearance of the copper 1 and2c coins.

    Australia also developed the world's first polymer banknotes, which have a lifetime of 10-20x that of paper notes, and are far harder to forge.

    America takes forever to make these sorts of positive changes (think the metric system) as some people hate to admit that "others were right"

    Best hopes for sensible cash systems!

    Paul Nash, thanks for your comments and perspectives on what is being done in Australia. Hopefully we can make some progress here in the US.

    Paul - You and most have no idea how insane our currency policy has evolved. Almost no one in this country knows we have a warehouse the size of a soccer field filled to the ceiling with Presidential $1 coins. Been minting them for years and continue to do so because "it's the law" as passed by Congress. Of course, everyone knows what a flop the Sacajawea $1 coin was, eh? Guess what: the law requires that for every two of the Presidential $1 coins minted they have to mint one Sacajawea. And it gets shipped to the same warehouse with no plans to have it put into circulation. The senator, now retired, who pushed to have that law passed today thinks it might not have been a good idea.

    Ya think?

    That would be because they kept printing $1 bills. People are creatures of habit.

    Canada replaced its $1 bill with a $1 gold-colored coin (called the "loonie" because of the common loon pictured on the back) in 1987, and its $2 bill with a $2 bimetallic coin (the "toonie") in 1996. A senate committee has recomended dropping the 1 cent coin completely, and there is talk of replacing the $5 bill with a coin as well.

    Canada will start switching to Australian-style polymer banknotes this year. The transition will be complete by 2013.

    People don't like the dollar coin because you can't easily tell it from the quarter. The fifty-cent piece should have been the new dollar -- or something like the UK fifty-pence piece (with its distinctive shape).

    (I'd like to go back to having Lady Liberty on our coins, rather than dead politicians. The old Liberty half-dollar was one of the most beautiful coins ever.)

    Since they went to the different profile with the Sacajawea dollars it is really no trouble telling the difference, especially as the coins age a bit and the dollars get that nice dark bronze patina so they really stand out.

    Putting a female Indian guide on the front of the US dollar coin was not helpful to getting the coin accepted. In Canada, all coins have the current reigning monarch on the front because they are being issued under her authority. This is a tradition that goes back to the invention of coins.

    The Sacajawea dollars are the same diameter as Canadian loonies and actually weigh more, but the coins turn brown as they age, so old ones appear rather unconvincing as coinage.

    If the Canadian mint was designing US dollar coins, they probably would put George Washington on the front, some suitably iconic symbol on the back, and make sure they stayed nice and shiny regardless of how much they were used. It's all about making it look like real money

    Smaller Canadian coins, while they are about the same diameter as American coins, are thinner and lighter than US ones (the 50 cent piece is not much more than half the weight of the US one, and the Canadian quarter weighs less than the US nickel). The dollar coin is very distinctive, but to a certain extent it was a matter of making the lesser coins lighter and cheaper than making the dollar coin heavy and expensive-looking.

    American coins apparently were designed for the convenience of the vending machine companies rather than for the convenience of people. In Canada the vending machine companies were just told to redesign their machines to handle the new money.

    I think the Sacajawea dollars are gorgeous and like using them, though they really confuse store clerks who've never seen them before. There's really no mistaking them for anything else. But then, I studied in the UK for a year and became used to using pound coins. I like the feeling of cash having weight!

    As far as I'm concerned, the US could easily do without pennies, nickels, dimes and possibly quarters - and restore the half-dollar, which you don't often see these days, either

    As far as I'm concerned, the US could easily do without pennies, nickels, dimes and possibly quarters - and restore the half-dollar, which you don't often see these days, either

    K. I can't imagine phasing out any of the larger denomination coins considering the problem of just phasing out the penny.
    Approximately 60% of the coinage production by the US Mint is pennies, so if that can be eliminated we would be in much better shape.

    From the following, there are approximately 650 pennies in circulation for every American. For a weight of 1.5 kg (or 3.5 pounds) per person and 625,000 total tons. Loaded at 10 tons per armoured car, placed bumper-to-bumper, would stretch for over 200 miles.

    Visual of space 200,000,000,000 (200 Billion) pennies in circulation would require.

    Good points.


    American coins apparently were designed for the convenience of the vending machine companies rather than for the convenience of people. In Canada the vending machine companies were just told to redesign their machines to handle the new money.

    Why doesn't this surprise me? I am sure whatever measures the US takes will be primarily driven by business rather than people (consumers - yuk!).

    Somehow I rather doubt that very many "people" really give a stuff about the issue, one way or the other. The dollar bills do fold nicely and don't make noise. The dollar coins do wear on pockets (and the half dollars were worse as well as being entirely superfluous), and are too similar to quarters; while many people care so little about pennies that one often sees "take a penny, leave a penny" cups. (One suspects that the penny thing is mostly about people not wanting the in-your-face confirmation of inflation that abandoning the dang things would constitute.)

    But on any reasonable analysis, it's all just.not.a.big.deal, fuhgeddaboudit. It's absolutely, utterly lost in the noise compared to other silliness and waste. (And not worth spending, well, even a single penny to retool vending machines or retool anything else.)

    (One suspects that the penny thing is mostly about people not wanting the in-your-face confirmation of inflation that abandoning the dang things would constitute.)

    PaulS, thanks for your perspective.
    We are all dealing with the effects of inflation everyday, so I don't think confirming it effects by revamping our coinage would be an issue.

    The Swedish currency is 1 krona = 100 öre. When I was a kid we had öre-coins valued 5, 10, 25, 50. Also notes of 5 and 10 kronor. We now have ridd us of all öre coins, so the öre only exists digitally. The 5 and 10 kronor is now coined. And we installed a new 20 kronor note. The 50 kronor note was gone and re-introduced.

    A fun thing is we made 2 kronor coins many years ago. They are no longer remade, but still legal tender. I have seen one of them in my life. The numismatics take them all.

    For reference, the dollar stands in about 6.50 kronor last I checked.

    "Not an issue" in the sense I think you probably mean it - yes, of course. The penny cups tell us so without question. But keeping the things on the motivation of hiding from reality seems kinda consistent with plenty of other political behavior (and even with some forms of "political correctness".) It's a toddler's peek-a-boo way of hiding, as opposed to the real thing, but that wouldn't necessarily stop some politicians or their constituents.

    A plus for the loonie and the toonie is when you are frantically looking for lunch or coffee money and have no bills, the charge that's lying around (often behind couch cushions) adds up to real money and you're saved! This is surprisingly useful and to my mind makes up for the increased wear and tear on pockets of the heavier coins.

    Like the Canadian 1 and 2 dollar coins, the UK has 1 and 2 pound coins, the euro has 1 and 2 euro coins - all using the bimetallic, larger coin for the 2 unit variety. The smallest note in the UK is the 'fiver' and even that is not that common as very few cash machines dispense them and that is how most new notes are brought into circulation.

    The smallest note in the UK is the 'fiver' and even that is not that common as very few cash machines dispense them and that is how most new notes are brought into circulation.

    oilfield-trash, thanks, I had not thought of the cash machine issue. The one I use only dispences in $20 increments. So no $5s or $10s.

    The smallest note in the UK is the 'fiver'

    Not quite true, the Royal Bank of Scotland still issues £1 notes from time to time.

    Rarely seen south of the border. Not all retail places accept them, as they need special handling. Not sure of their legal status...

    I'm sure quite a few younger English would not know what a £1 note was, and would not accept it at all.

    I still hanker after the 10 bob note.

    Indeed, and rarely seen in Scotland either.
    It is not unusual for English retailers to refuse Scottish notes, When they refuse mine they generally end up wishing they hadn't ;-)

    The legal status of banknotes throughout the countries of the UK is curious and rather interesting. Like many things in the UK, most outsiders would probably just think we're a bit odd.


    I'm too young to remember the 10 bob note, but I can remember the threepenny bit :-)

    Yair...'an we even have the really really hi-tech forward thinking idea of making the different denominations different colours and even different sizes would 'ya believe.

    (Sorry for the sarc. but I guess you get my drift)


    KH - Read my post above: we already have many millions of $1 coins sitting in a warehouse today. And apprently with no immediate plans to put them into circulation.


    Why aren't they put into circulation?

    You can find them if you know where to look. The easiest place is a vending machine at the post office - put in a 20$, and buy one book of stamps, and you get change in 1$ coins.

    Recently my wife was buying a train ticket up in Philly, and all she had was a 20$ bill. She put it in, and she got dollar coins as change.

    General experience in other countries suggests that the key step is to remove the corresponding paper bill from circulation, forcing people to use the coins. Some of the consumer resistance has been that the dollar coin is too close in size/weight to the quarter, leading to confusion (eg, neither the clerk nor I noticed that I gave him a dollar coin instead of a quarter). A large majority of vending machines handle the current dollar coin; changing the size/weight at this point in time would require that vending machines all be modified to handle the new format.

    A large majority of vending machines handle the current dollar coin; changing the size/weight at this point in time would require that vending machines all be modified to handle the new format.

    mcain6925, than you for your comments. I agree that at this point we should stick with the size of the current $1 coin. We should just start using it more.

    Rockman, until we stop printing the dollar bill, most people will continue using it. Based on comments from Canadians and Australians most don't mind the switch to a dollar coin. I was not aware of the "Native American $1 Coin Act" requiring the minting of the Sacagawea design, thanks for mentioning it.

    With my proposal, eliminating the penny helps keep the total number of coins in your pocket about the same.

    The US is borrowing about $4 billion per day (over $10 per person per day), yet we citizens are trying to save money by using the penny. On average, we aren't saving anything and instead are wasting our time. The US mint spends about 2 cents to mint each cent (penny), a further waste.

    Best hopes for dreams of a more-efficient money system.

    Based on comments from Canadians and Australians most don't mind the switch to a dollar coin.

    But do note that loonie and toonie are *very* distinctive -- from one another and from other coins!

    A dollar coin that is too close to a quarter in shape, size, colour would be a real nuisance (and offer great opportunities for short-changing customers, scamming baristas, etc)

    How many remember taking the slugs out of electrical boxes and using them in vending machines? 40 years ago? I have often thought of turning and parting off a few modern day slugs the size of a toonie, but instictively know the detection ability of modern electronics far out way my machining skills.

    I worked one site where the only place I could get a drink was a vending machine. It stopped taking my coins, at random, so I was getting very thirsty. I found out, much later, that the Royal Mint had switched from copper to copper plated steel and the vending machine was assuming that they were washers.


    Eliminate the one cent

    Man, that will upset the 9.99 guys :)

    Down here in Mexico they have got rid of the 5 centavos. 20 and 50 peso notes are plastic, I don't know wha is happening about the 100 peso. Switching the 1 Dollar to coin would require a long period for the note to be still legal as many poor people outside of the USA hang onto them.


    Switching the 1 Dollar to coin would require a long period for the note to be still legal as many poor people outside of the USA hang onto them.

    notanoilman, I would think they could remain legal tender. If you stop printing dollar bills in about three years there would be very few dollar bills left in circulation. Collectors could be free to keep them if they wish too.

    You can still price stuff to .99, it's just that when all the purchases are added for the total amount, you have to round.

    Gasoline has been priced to a decimal(or fraction) of a cent forever, even though you can't pay a fraction of a cent., and no one is bent out of shape about that.

    As for the old notes, and penny coins, they remain legal forever, it is just that they stop issuing them. It takes a surprisingly short time (months) for them to effectively dissappear, and the remaining ones are kep by collectors, grandmothers etc.

    It's just not that big of a deal, but is sure saves a lot of money on printing notes and minting coins.

    of course, if the currencies had stayed linked to gold, there wouldn't have been this inflation in the first place, and the pennies would still be worth enough to keep around.

    ...if the currencies had stayed linked to gold, there wouldn't have been this inflation in the first place, and the pennies would still be worth enough to keep around.

    Paul, you have that right. Nowadays, a lot of folks won't even bend over to pick a penny up off the sidewalk.

    I throw pennies away when I fish in my pockets for coins for a vending machine.This makes the day for the janitors who do floors.

    It is a near total waste of time to pick up a nickel, let alone a penny.Most of us wouldn't last long enough to pick up enough nickels scattered more than a couple of feet apart to earn the minimum wage for the first hour, let alone all day..

    I pick up pennies. They're good luck. At least I think it's good luck to find a penny. The copper ones (pre-1982) are worth approx. .023 cents right now: http://www.coinflation.com/
    Nickels are worth a little bit more than a nickel, too.
    I sort the 1982 pennies by weight. The heavy ones are the copper ones (the copper to zinc change-over was 1982. Most 1982 pennies are copper).

    I save all my copper pennies. Right now it's still illegal to scrap U.S. tender, but someday that law may have to be changed if we get desperate enough for copper (not a ridiculous idea).

    FYI, pre-1982 pennies were bronze, not copper.

    If you drop one of the newer zinc pennies on a hard surface, it makes a simple "thwack" sound. Drop a bronze penny and it has a nice little ringing sound to it.

    That's not correct.

    Pre-1982 pennies were 95% copper and 5% zinc which is BRASS.
    Bronze is an alloy of copper and TIN.

    Post 1982 pennies are mostly zinc with, IIRC only 2.5% copper.

    Yes the post 1982 pennies are copper-clad zinc, 97.5% zinc 2.5% copper overall, core is 99.2% zinc 0.8% copper. 100% copper cladding.

    Penny (United States coin)

    Actually, a little research shows that they were in fact bronze until 1962, then brass until 1982 when we got the cheesy copper-plated zinc. I had thought they were bronze right up until 1982 - I was misinformed.

    Me too. "See a penny pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck" was what my grandparents would say. I still pick up pennies - not so much these days for the luck, more so to prove to myself that I am not that decrepit (or rich) to stoop so to do!

    Alot if not most transactions are electronic now anyway. It's much easier than carrying bills or coins.
    I do think it's prudent to keep a stash of cash to prepare for the unlikely event of bank holidays or grid breakdown. Compared to electronic money, which is infinite, there's actually not much physical money out there.

    In Sweden we have about 8000 Kronor in physical money per person in circulation. There is about 6-7 Kronor in an american Dollar.

    Does anyone else have suggestions to improve the efficiency of the US money?

    Drop all concept of sub-dollar currency amounts. No more pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc.

    The Japanese just have the Yen, we could just have the dollar (and it is not like there is much to buy anymore for under a buck....)

    The yen is only worth about a penny and a half. If they still have a one yen coin they need to get rid of it.

    It's no surprise that the dollar coin has flopped repeatedly. Nobody I know likes to carry around a bunch of change. When I get home with change in my pocket,into the change jar it goes where maybe once a year it gets 'cashed in' at the bank with their automatic sorter. Additionally, vending machines almost universally have paper dollar readers that are now very reliable.

    Why not make the paper dollar out of more durable material. Surely there's some plastic type fabric that would last 10x longer than paper.

    The only way the dollar coin will work is if the govt. mandates it and ceases production of paper dollars.

    The plastic bank notes that Australia uses, and that Canada will also be using soon, are considerably more durable than paper money, which is a major reason for using them. They have to replace them much less often. Australians can go swimming with their money in their pockets if they want to, and the bills will survive accidentally being put through the laundry.

    The main reason for the plastic notes is that they are harder to counterfeit. Among other thins, they put transparent windows in the bills that are hard for counterfeiters to duplicate.

    The only way the dollar coin will work is if the govt. mandates it and ceases production of paper dollars.

    ET, I'm with you on this comment.

    inflation - can't see anyone mentioning it , the issue of having metal money is that the Banks don't like it - to heavy to haul around in trucks and costs too much ( well maybe - see inflation - if you had little no inflation it would not matter so much )

    revaluation would smell like Zimbabwe wouldn't it ? and inflation is there for all to see

    just remember the Lira ! devalue ? wasn't there the issue that my million X income went to a 100 thou or even 10 thou ( or is that kilo ;-) ) mind games again bigger figure means I'm more wealthy....

    in the the end the UK will have the 5 pound coin and you'll have the 5 dollar one , or ten or twenty

    then no coins at all because you'll have plastic card with the Universal Credit of the World Bank held electronically on it and, devalued this time really in a nano second, by inflationary money "printing"

    the micro chipped ID pass card I had for SUN Micro systems( now Oracle) held the money, cashless canteen and Food/sweet machines - worked really well - transfer from your Bank to the card - so easy to over spend though....

    Banks won't need Tellers then , don't need many now, and they can then shut all the branches , go offshore, and not pay a single cent/penny/credit in taxes !!

    Just my 2000 dollars worth ( cents? thats so last Tuesday! )


    Just my 2000 dollars worth ( cents? thats so last Tuesday! )

    forbin, thanks for your comments and humor. You are right, I guess it all comes down to dealing with effects of inflation. I don't see inflation stopping so we should address the cash issues.

    Good new resume from the folk at Sprott on Peakoil:

    (apologies if previously posted)


    How the rice market went crazy three years ago. It's got it all... export restrictions, panic buying, people going hungry. Not too hard to imagine similar responses for different commodities.

    Interesting how it wasn't just big importers that had trouble:

    "In Ho Chi Minh City, for heaven's sake, the center of the second-largest rice exporting surplus in the world, supermarkets and rice markets got cleaned out in two days."

    One question I have is whether a buyers' cartel could ever happen for products like oil. Importers of the world unite. I can really only see this as possible if the scarcity of a product in the market is artificial (created by a sellers' cartel, for example), and not based on actual physical constraints.

    p - It would difficult for a buyers cartel to do so since there's relatively little storage available compared to the daily volumes of production. We just saw movements a while back with floating storage. But once it's filled there no place to horde anymore oil. Of course, producers could shut wells in and have the same affect. But there is one way for oil buyers to do so to some degree. Just as China has been doing for over a decade: buying into the oil reserves while they're still in the ground. Either by direct ownership of these not yet produced bbls and also by having an exclusive option to buy a fixed amount of a producers output.

    A few years ago China cut a deal with Venezuela: China would build a number of tankers along with refineries in China esspecially designed to handle their heavy crude. In return China was guaranteed and certain volume of the crude that escalated in time. I think I recall the ultimate max volume was 450,000 bopd. China also gave Brazil a multi $billion loan in the last year or so. I didn't see any details but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't include some right of first refusal on any oil Bz sells on the world market. It might even require Bz to sell a certain percentage of any new production to China.

    China may sell any of this oil on the open market to the best price which might be a US refiner. But when the day comes that China wants all of that production it can effectively disappear from the market place over night. I also just recalled reports that China plans to build its own strategic petroleum reserve. That could develop something of a buyers cartel (of one) if they suddenly opened up a significant volume of new storage.

    World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates


    World food production must rise by 70 per cent as population rises by two billion over the next 40 years.


    Somebody's post yesterday mentioned a looming peanut butter shortage. As if coffee wasn't enough, now I have to watch the P butter swings and trends? I told my wife to go out and buy 4 jars this week as it is her turn to shop. I guess that's how it starts. Maybe I'll fill up the gas tank too....just in case :)

    Paulo - you do know that we have hit Peak Coffee - right?

    Jeez, Paul. As an admitted coffee addict, I have to express(o) my extreme irritation with this silliness you've brewed up.

    Honestly, I can't tell if you're partly serious with it, or if it's all, as Bogey said to Bergman.. 'A hill of beans..'

    Signed, Percolated in Portland.

    (Sorry, early morning post.. came out all wrong. It was hilarious, and you still had more zingers lined up for the comments. Well Done!)

    Funny, Perc. I stopped at the Allmart to get a fuel filter for my genny; decided I better pick up some peanut butter while I was there. Shelves were picked clean except for two tiny jars of the gross extra-creamy stuff. Got coffee instead.

    Hi Bob,

    Glad you liked that one -I think it is one of my better pieces of satirical writing.

    quite scary the (many) parallels between coffee and oil, particularly with an international cartel that controls the trade, though they have done a much better job of flying under the radar than OPEC.

    Still, it is an interesting thought exercise to consider the possible implications on the US/Europe of a coffee embargo - some people would prefer an oil embargo!

    Somebody's post yesterday mentioned a looming peanut butter shortage. I told my wife to go out and buy 4 jars this week as it is her turn to shop.

    Paulo, good idea. Per the following video the price of peanuts went from $450 per ton in 2010 to $1200 per ton now -- over a 150% increase.

    USA Today video on peanut prices.

    John Williams of www.shadowstats.com, who argues that the US government is misrepresenting the true Gross Domestic Product (GDP), just like they misrepresent the true unemployment rate -- which is really 16-18%. According to Williams, after government figures are adjusted for inflation and methodological reporting changes, 2010 GDP actually decreased by 1%.

    Why does that not surprise me? Govt. numbers indicate the most recent quarter had an +2.5% GDP. I wonder what's the actual number.

    I can't believe anyone still trusts any of the official data about the USA's economic health. It's sheer govt propaganda at this point.

    The CPI and unemployment figures seem to be pegged at arbitrary levels which they won't surpass no matter what is really happening. Lord only knows what they're doing with the GDP, which is already so much more difficult to measure in the first place.

    It's sheer govt propaganda


    It's the truth.

    Says so right on top of the report: "Pravda"

    (/end sarcasm)

    On a more serious note:

    New face of American poverty

    Diane is now the primary bread winner, earning $22,000 per year. They've gone from middle class to below the poverty line. A local school teacher, she's getting a daily education in humility.

    ... 'I'm grateful for the leftover cereal, cereal that I sneak out of work in an oversized purse. And I'm grateful for my superiors who see, but pretend they don't see,"

    Here's story that broke my heart.
    Sort of, there but for the grace of God goes my family too.
    We're one gossamer thread away from that alternate reality.

    It's certainly unfortunate, and I'm at work so I only read the story and didn't watch the video so maybe I missed something....why 8 kids? We personally don't have any children though I can't even imagine trying to take care of 8 kids even at $85k/yr. Do people just assume they can afford to have any number of kids they want and not consider what could happen if one or both income streams were drastically reduced?

    In this case even with 1-2 kids they'd still be sinking, but at least there'd be a little more to go around.

    RC discusses the GW consequences of Tar Sands/ Keystone XL here:


    Occupy Oakland protestors shut city's port

    The protest cause widespread disruption in the Northern California city that was catapulted to the forefront of national anti-Wall Street protests after a former Marine was badly wounded during a march and rally last week.

    Interesting how the OWS has moved into system disruption. I made this comment the other day about the protests:

    Comment Link

    The "plausible promise" of an open source revolt unites disparate groups to work towards a common goal, even if they're antagonistic towards each other normally. The US authorities should be used to it by now as they've been up against it in their overseas wars. The thing is the open source revolt is mercurial and innovates faster than the system it is attacking.

    The cost of the revolt is probably very low to those involved, but costs the authorities considerably. 1$ spent on the revolt creates losses to the authorities many fold. A kind of revolutionary ROI (Return On Investment) that measures how much the revolution is bleeding the system. Once the Authorities resort to violence a new avenue for the revolt will open with system disruption and the ROI will go exponential...

    Looks like things are beginning to pan out more or less as expected. This YouTube clip is also interesting showing private militias + OWS demonstrating together in Phoenix (ie. disparate groups working together towards a common goal). Just what you'd expect to see in an OpenSource revolt.

    BTW anyone interested about OpenSource revolts and how they work should check out John Robb's Global Guerrillas.

    Burgundy -

    The question that brings up for me is whether the ROI - the increased costs - ever really make it to those that the protests are supposedly ultimately directed at. I'm truly asking that as a question because I really don't know. I'd love to think that it does and had the ability to smash the stranglehold TPTB have on things.

    Unfortunately a part of me thinks this ends up in the long run just being something that comes back and bites the protesters. After all - from a money standpoint the 1% aren't the ones funding the riot gear, SWAT teams, and tear gas - it's the very people who are doing the protesting. So maybe that's the point - they want the police etc. to use up so much in the way of resources that they become a further drain on budgets etc. - so as to become unsustainable. I get the feeling that's when the 1% then starts to kick in their share - to keep guarding the gated communities and their favorite spots (restaurants etc.) around town - or worse yet this all becomes privatized and the vacuum left by the municipal agencies going broke is filled by Blackwater goon squads.

    Closing the port causes corporations to loose revenue. TPTB make money when the corporations make money. It has very little to do with the local police costs. The violence, that draws in the police, is a required step to cause the port to be closed (for safety of the workers).

    EDIT: I think I will be more vigorous in my garden thin next spring. I think this thing could built up until next years elections. Next summer could see disruptions to my local food store.

    Got it eastex thanks - yeah I guess I was thinking of too narrow a definition for "authorities"...

    Not just the police or other municipal agencies but "authorities" as in TPTB collectively.

    Makes sense now that a good portion of gov't and the corporate world are indistinguishable from each other.

    Somewhat OT...

    Last night my grange approved a proposal I had made to establish The Grange Center for Self-Sufficiency and Resiliency. It's purpose will be for community outreach and will consist of monthly meetings on a variety of topics such as preparedness and food preservation and a series of one day, afternoon programs such as how to make self-watering containers or how to build low cost solar collectors for hot water.

    One thing I stressed was that I did not want it to be based upon some kind of principle(s) such as Permaculture or Transition but rather to be open to "interesting stuff" that people would find useful regardless of the source. My experience is that people really get hung up on doing things an "approved" way and miss all the other good "unapproved" ways to do things.

    I and a group of other grange members will fine tune the contents over the next month or so and actually begin the programs in spring when the weather moderates.


    the chico grange is working towards a transition town



    I live in Laytonville in Mendocino County. There was an effort several years ago to establish "Sustainable Laytonville". It foundered and left a bad taste in many people's view.

    Unlike Chico, our "town" is spread out over 400-600 square miles, depending upon how you measure it, with a population of, perhaps, 4,000 people. There are hundreds of off grid people (who mostly rely on generators). With the exception of growing dope, the area has no industry after the last lumber mill closed a few years ago.

    What I see as important is to provide people with new skill-sets and an opportunity to discuss the future with others. The lack of an organization, hierarchy and "principles" is what will make this program work in my area. People will not have to accept a package of beliefs in order to participate.

    Good luck with your program.


    I feel "the Grange" is the vehicle to bring about local change.



    Interesting Todd. I too am wanting to work with my (soon to be) small community on resilience and local mutual support issues. Have got a copy of the Transition Handbook for winter reading (should be a great sleep-inducer) but I do have some misgivings about the programme precisely because it is a programme with accreditation and -- this is probably cheap snark but it's just a gut feeling I have on a shallow glimpse -- almost a three-ring-binder franchise model.

    Surely the spirit of resilience is flexibility, bricolage, improvisation? The Transition approach seems to bring a rather industrial monocrop approach, ironically, to a post-industrial predicament. But I should not venture further comment until I've read and understood the Handbook. Anyone here on the inside of a Transition initiative who can speak to how it really works in practise?

    Boy, I don't remember if you're in the US or not, but this theme is reminding me of an American Trait that seems to continue on from our Revolutionary and also certain Evangelical roots, which has us simultaneously 'take up the call' for a theme we believe in, but also keep it from getting Too Strong, to the point of just tearing it back apart again.

    I have served on committees with a lot of progressive 'Antidisestablishmentarians', who zealously work to establish a program but also have instinctive behaviors which cause them to undermine what they've established as well, once it starts looking 'too establishment' to them.

    Either we need Checks and Balances for our self-correcting behaviors, or else we will have to create an ideology of creedlessness.. which of these??


    Hi Bob,

    My personal feeling is that the creed/belief/guru paradigms are highly detrimental to just basically getting people involved with doing something because they are made to believe that they have to buy in totally or be outcasts.

    I'll use agriculture as an example: I was the first certified organic farmer in our area in the early 1980's and was highly involved with the certifying organization as the chair of the certification committee and doing farm inspections. I eventually quit because I couldn't make enough money without lots more capital expenditures. So, what did I do on my own after I quit? I used the best methods whether organic or not to fit my needs. I don't do cover crops or compost but use continual mulch. I don't use fish emulsion because it costs too much so I use soluble chemical fertilizer and fertigate (injecting a fertilizer solution into the irrigation water). But, I don't use pesticides, etc. This would never pass "organic" muster however it works for me.

    I think this is the way most people work in real life; they are pragmatic. They eventually rebel when they are dumped on for not following the belief system to a "T" and finally quit. This is one reason why I wanted my grange program to be open and flexible.


    Don't get me wrong, I like the way you described your plan.

    There are really good ideas in 'Transition Towns', or in 'Organic Farming', but as you say, it's important not to get drawn into the whole program in blind faith. It's essential to keep a critical eye on each piece of it.

    (EDITED.. sorry the previous version was so scattered..)

    I pulled out the last hundred years monsoon rainfall data from governments website and did some charts on excel. This graph shows the 10 year moving average rainfall anomaly in percentage for the monsoon months Jun-Sept from 1910 onwards.

    There is a clear decrease in rainfall from 1970 onwards and a significant decrease 2000 onwards. The base year for calculating the anomaly is roughly 1970.

    India has the challenge of doubling it's food output by 2030 to feed it's growing population and more importantly a burgeoning middle class. Clearly the weather is not helping. If you ever needed an evidence of "drying out", this is it. Though it will take one more decade till the trend-line gives a better indication.

    The info is sourced from http://www.imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/Monsoon_frame.htm

    Hi wiseindian,

    Thank you.

    this is striking - and sad.

    World emissions of carbon dioxide soar higher than experts’ worst case scenario for climate


    where is anthony watts ?

    I love reports like this one for the glass half empty vs. half full perspectives. It's half empty because emissions set a new record by increasing in 2010 a whopping 6% (over 2009 totals). However, the glass if half full because emissions of developed countries are dropping. Feel better now?

    This is kind of like population birth rates are dropping (half full), but we add another billion every 12-14 years because a bigger population doesn't need to have as many births to increase the total another billion (half empty).

    Conventional oil extraction has peaked (half empty), but non-conventional is still rising (half full).

    Ah hem, excuse me, but aren't we fooling ourselves with all this half full-half empty routine? Isn't it really just a desperate attempt to make ourselves feel better about things that cannot possibly turn out good?

    My Cessna slammed into the ground so fast and hard it broke my back (half empty), but the good news is my insurance covered the loss (half full).

    Does everyone 'feel' better now?

    dark night, big graveyard, loud whistling...