Drumbeat: November 5, 2011

Exclusive: IEA draft outlook sees $212 oil in 2035

(Reuters) - The jump in oil prices in the past year is adding to concern about the economy, according to a draft of the International Energy Agency's 2011 World Energy Outlook, which also raised its view of long-run prices.

The draft dated July 2011, obtained by Reuters ahead of the publication's launch next week, assumes nominal oil prices of $114 a barrel in 2015 and $212 in 2035. Last year's report assumed prices of $104 and $204 by those dates.

Oil Caps Longest Weekly Gain Streak Since ’09

Oil rose in New York to cap the longest streak of weekly gains in more than two years on speculation that an unexpected drop in the U.S. jobless rate will spur fuel demand.

Oil increased to a three-month high after the Labor Department said unemployment declined to 9 percent in October, less than the 9.1 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Earlier, prices slid as the Group of 20 nations failed to agree to boost International Monetary Fund resources to fight Europe’s debt crisis.

Norway not protected by oil money

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg warns against believeing that Norway's oil money protects the Norwegian economy against the European financial crisis.

ASPO-USA Conference Report: Thursday Afternoon Notes

Chris Martenson, author "Crash Course" - gave an abbreviated version of his standard pitch. His key insight: A money system that requires perpetual growth is unsustainable upon meeting Peak Oil which prevents growth is quite an accomplishment and the main difference between this year's conference and last year's is basically that view is now quite accepted. I wish he had brought some new insights this year.

Kjell Aleklett, Swedish Academic - I came in on the of this and he seemed to be doing an excellent regional review of oil and coal production and consumption. He has a book coming out with tonnes of data. I don't read books much, but will probably make an exception for this.

Exxon Mobil says expects Montana spill to cost $135 million

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil said it expects that its response to a July oil spill into the Yellowstone River in Montana will cost about $135 million, the company said on Friday.

Exxon subsidiary seeks to ship all its oversized refinery equipment along Montana interstates

HELENA, Mont. — An Exxon Mobil subsidiary has changed tack after months of being snarled in a legal dispute over plans to haul oversized refinery equipment along scenic two-lane highways in Montana and Idaho to Canada.

California Oil, Natural Gas Producers Cheer Firing of Top State Regulators

Representatives for California oil and natural-gas producers expressed approval for Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to fire two state regulators who they said played a role in a slowdown in permitting for new drilling projects.

Obama’s Solomonic choice

This Sunday, some of President Obama’s biggest Bay Area donors will arrive near his front door, not with money but with nasty signs. They and perhaps thousands of others will be protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,700-mile conduit to carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

Instead of pipelines, build refineries here

The continuing controversy in the U.S. surrounding TransCanada's proposed Keystone pipeline may just be the best thing that ever happened to Canada. Perhaps it will force us to finally just say no to being hewers of wood and drawers of water. While Keystone's success is important, it's time Canada comes of age and starts to transform more of its resources into value-added products at home.

Marin Katusa: Top Energy Stocks by Sector

People talk about peak oil, but there is also peak government take. How much more can the governments take? Look at Libya; it was taking more than 97% of oil proceeds. In Iraq, it's somewhere north of 92%. A company, after taking on all the exploration risk, gets about $4 for every $80 per barrel (bbl) in Iraq. That's a high government take. The risks are there.

Another thing you have to be careful of is that in some of the old deposits in Saudi Arabia, they are injecting a lot of water. The black swan in the oil sector could come in the form of technical difficulties. These deposits were found back when Elvis was at the top of the hits, so there is a risk that they could cave in, decrease production from these old fields and send oil soaring +US$200/bbl.

A perspective on peak oil

(gigaom.com) -- It was by teaching a course on energy in 2004 that I first became aware of the enormous challenges facing our society this century. In preparing for the course, I was initially convinced that I would identify a sensible and obvious path forward involving energy from solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, tides, waves, ocean currents, etc. Instead, I came out dismayed by the hardships or inadequacies on all fronts. The prospect of a global peak in oil production placed a timescale on the problem that was uncomfortably short. It took several exposures to peak oil for me to grasp the full potential of the phenomenon to transform our civilization, but eventually I was swayed by physical and quantitative arguments that I could not blithely wave off the problem—despite a somewhat unsettling fringe flavor to the story.

Rippeon running on conservative ideals

For years, U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., has championed the concept of "peak oil," that oil is a finite resource and becoming scarcer, so the United States needs to figure out a new approach to energy.

Brandon Orman Rippeon, who is challenging Bartlett in the next Republican primary, disagrees.

"There is no such thing as peak oil until we've had peak technology," said Rippeon, who wrote his master's thesis on the U.S. petroleum reserve. "There is more petroleum than ever before."

Moana Nui Speaker Says Hawaii Should Take Its Cue From New Zealand

For most people living in Hawaii, Richard Heinberg’s message will come as no surprise. In an age of increasingly scarce resources and ever-mounting pressure from a world population which, having just reached 7 billion, is forecast to hit 8 billion by 2025, monumental change is coming our way.

“We’re going to see the collapse of institutions that looked invulnerable for decades. Institutions like major banks, perhaps whole national economies [will fail]. We need something in place as that happens. We need local infrastructure ― food and transport infrastructure.”

The Benefits of a Zombie Apocalypse

Yes folks, you read that right – not every aspect of an undead plague is doom and gloom. Sure, lots of people will die and civilization as we know it will crumble (that’s something of a given) but few ponder the *positive* aspects of such an event should it occur.

Good Graph Friday: Where the renewable energy is

We hear a lot of talk about the need to reduce the nation’s dependence on costly fossil fuels, but what’s actually being done about it?

The Natural Resources Defense Council has created an interactive map showing where some major types of renewable energy facilities have either already been built in the United States, or are being planned.

LED Makers Climb as China Plans to Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs

A Chinese plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs is boosting companies that make energy- efficient replacements.

China will ban sales of incandescent bulbs that use 100 watts or more of power starting Oct. 1, 2012, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today. The ban will be expanded to cover any bulbs that use more than 60 watts in 2014 and to 15 watts in 2016.

Taming Unruly Wind Power

For decades, electric companies have swung into emergency mode when demand soars on blistering hot days, appealing to households to use less power. But with the rise of wind energy, utilities in the Pacific Northwest are sometimes dealing with the opposite: moments when there is too much electricity for the grid to soak up.

So in a novel pilot project, they have recruited consumers to draw in excess electricity when that happens, storing it in a basement water heater or a space heater outfitted by the utility. The effort is rooted in some brushes with danger.

Polysilicon Drop May Halt Output From 90% of China’s Factories, Group Says

China’s polysilicon factories, which supply the raw ingredient for solar panels, may suspend output this month because of a slump in prices, an analyst at an industry trade group said.

A123 Falls After Cutting Sales Forecast on Fewer Fisker Orders

A123, a supplier of batteries for automakers including General Motors Co. (GM) and Daimler AG, said Fisker lowered orders of packs for its Karma plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Irvine, California-based Fisker is balancing inventories from all suppliers, said David Vieau, chief executive officer of A123, without being more specific.

Quebec will meet emissions targets, environment minister Pierre Arcand says

MONTREAL - Environment Minister Pierre Arcand says Quebec is on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, even if the government does not strengthen the cap and trade program set to launch in the new year.

Russia sees need for more urgency on climate deal: EU

(Reuters) - Russia recognizes that concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need to be agreed at climate talks in South Africa next month before a globally binding climate deal can emerge by 2015, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said on Thursday.

In Changing Ecosystems, Winners and Losers

The researchers set out to pinpoint exactly how forests have been changing in recent years and how things are likely to play out for various species in the future. The greatest changes, they predict in this paper and another recent one, will continue to occur at the northern and southern extremes of forests in the Pacific Northwest. In the north, invasive beetles are likely to be the strongest driver of change; in the south, it is likely to be fire.

Liquidity may be freezing again like 2008? Could see a sharp downturn in commodity and equity markets next week if the CME is doing what they say they are doing (h/t to zerohedge). MF Global is starting to remind me of Lehman Brothers.

Ex-MF Global Clients Fear Margin Calls After Transfers

For all open bets in the commodities markets, traders need to put up cash to back the position, known as posting margin. In order to keep holding those bets if the contract falls in value, traders are required to post additional cash with their clearing firm.

But confusion still reigns over much of the market and traders are unsure whether their new clearing firms will require them to post additional margins on their trades.

Most believe the situation will be settled over the next few days. Meanwhile, no reports have surfaced that clearing firms have set deadlines for increasing margins.

WTF does the MF bankruptcy have to do with a) a general liquidity freeze up, or b) Peak Oil, or c) any of the stories on today's Drum Beat, or d) anything else we normally discuss on TOD?

E. Swanson

The MF Global bankruptcy is forcing the CME to raise margins and traders are facing a margin call. Oil will be affected and so will everything else. How much liquidity will disappear due to this margin call is open to speculation but it will be very interesting. I would guess that the known risk of a flash crash will add to this interest. Etc...

As a side note, I have read many times that way to curb speculation in the oil markets is to raise the margins. This could be interesting from that perspective also (but I think that is a very minor point in the overall consequences of the CME action).

It appears I was too far out in front on this issue. Words are still being sorted out. Also, the initial story I posted was before the CME margin notice so it wasn't that helpful but it does give some background to this weekend's news of the day.

The CME Margin Notice That Has Everyone In a Tizzy

So, it is possible that during a time of financial market stress and uncertainty the CME has decided to jack margin requirements across the board for all products? It’s possible – and their advisory notice was certainly ambiguous. At this point, they have not updated the numbers on their website where all of the margin requirements are listed. However, I think that the sane explanation here is that the CME is not raising margins across the board on all products – but rather lowering the initial margin requirements to AVOID triggering margin calls as they try to clean up the MF Global mess.

Yep, CME has reduced margins. The anti-speculation crowd should be in an uproar over this.

CME Group Clarifies Maintenance Margin Ratios - Exchange to Reduce Initial Margin Ratio to 1.00

The intention and effect of these changes are to decrease the size of any margin calls resulting from the bulk transfer of MF Global customers to new clearing members not to increase them.

This is a short term accommodation to maintain market integrity and provide temporary relief to customers whose accounts have been disrupted by this event.

We apologize for any confusion our initial advisory may have created.

Thanks for posting this blow-by-blow.

On b) c) or d), nothing, on a), nothing either, since if it was going to lead to a general liquidity freeze, it would have happened on the bankruptcy, not when accounts start to be unfrozen.

The only newsworthy point here is that there is anyone who gets their business news from FoxBusiness, but that is more media news than OilDrum news.

Since when did relevancy have any relevance to the drum beat?

Since when did relevancy have any relevance to the drum beat?

I concur. All sorts of topics of and or related in direct and sometimes very indirect ways regarding oil are posted on TOD daily.

Besides goghgoner tied it to oil by way of how it may affect trading whether margins were changed. Increase the margin and that may reduce speculation and vice versa. A perfectly suitable and interesting thread, and blow by blow to boot.


My guess it will be - "why didn't anybody tell us about this?". And after you point out how you tried it will be - "you should have tried harder".

Confabulation- (new word for me) delusion + denial =http://brainmind.com/Confabulation.html

"Various forms of confabulation, including denial of illness (e.g., paralysis, blindness), and conditions that often give rise to these disorders, such as cerebral disconnection, disinhibitory states, incomplete information reception, and"gap filling" are discussed."

Wow - sounds like a G20 meeting...

'Confabulation- ... delusion + denial

Doesn't denial always involve a bit of delusion?

Hi Dohboi,

I posted an apology for my thoughtless remarks last week-and took your little quiz too.

I hope you saw it.

Nursing school, OFM? Really? I'm delighted. That makes two of us in Nursing who are peak oil aware. I guess it's a start. LOL.




Make that three. Healthcare and education are the last two bubbles (barring Washington DC, maybe), and I am/was in both of them. I now teach about sustainability, but not in nursing yet, as the field is not ready to listen yet. Soon, if OWS is any measure of progress in our understanding of our limits.

Peak (jobs with good health insurance) = Peak (jobs in health care)

No one is immune

Thanks for pointing me there. I won't copy my response here, but will point out that you did a great job on the "quiz."

'Confabulation- ... delusion + denial

Or maybe just denial on steroids. Then I propose hyperconfabulation, which is several steps beyond confabulation!

Thank you delusional, I have not laughed so hard is so long... really. I am literally drying the tears from my cheeks as I post this.

A new CNA analysis finds if America reduces its current rate of oil consumption by 30 percent, and diversifies its fuel sources, the U.S. economy would be insulated from the impact of such disruptions...

Why not "CNA analysis finds if the average American reduces his blood volume by 30% and diversifies his liquid consumption,...

And then, up top, the drunks at IEA mumble incoherently about oil prices in ... 2035 ... based on asinine assumptions like " world GDP will rise by an average of 3.6 percent from 2009-2035".

Our world is retarded. This is not really even happening I think. No way this is real.

You are welcome...;-)
It is hard to find much if anything humorous today.
What a great sounding word, I have never heard it before, and the description is priceless.

I agree with the retardation and it's surreal-ness. I feel like I'm in some sort of 'B' movie in a theater with no meaningful exits. I like popcorn but....

" I feel like I'm in some sort of 'B' movie in a theater with no meaningful exits "


I'm reading, "Look Me In The Eye," the hilarious tale of the author's life with "assburgers" syndrome. He notes how growing up he could not understand the emotional responses of so many people - they always seemed like they were faking it (bad actors or hypocrites).

For him life was as you describe - very bad theater with B-grade actors and no meaningful exits. Our world could use more Assburgers syndrome to balance for the pathetic farce we have to participate in.

As the dad of a great Aspie kid, that's shorthand for someone with Asperger's syndrome, I just want to make it clear that IT IS NOT Assburgers, please! If that was an attempt at humor, it wasn't funny!

Nevertheless, when I read the story, at times I laughed my asp off. Great read. I empathized with many of his situations and adventures.

FM- I looked up Assburgers on urban dictionary, and Asperger Syndrome on Wiki.

I took his comment very differently, as this is people that your son is having to tolerate, a play on words. Giving credence to the difficulties of dealing with people and what passes for society and social interaction. For example; Who gives a rats ass about Justin Beeber? I surely do not. To make matters worse I get tired of talking to people who also do not but continue to talk about him anyway. Love him or hate him all this is doing is creating CO2 and wasting my time. Aggghhhh! Take those individuals with heightened sensitivity and a literal interpretation and stick them in this environment and expect what? If you think Justin Beeber is a waste of time then why are you wasting you time talking about him? This is supposed to make sense? Happens every day. How do you connect to this? Which part do you connect to? Then what about the other part?

There is a great movie - Temple Grandin - I watched it 3 times, once with her narration. To understand her side of the situation was more than a little interesting.

Having a child like yours would require and extra ordinary amount of attention and probably opens you eyes to a world view few ever experience. I suspect you act as a two way buffering agent and as best you can an interpreter. I can only imagine what it must be like trying to "interpret" and explain things that do not make sense, which isn't possible. I wish you only the best.

I tend to agree with Snarlin' we need a higher level of social interaction to get to where we need to be (evolve?) which is more visible in people with Aspergers. If I offend anyone here with anything I have written I sincerely apologize that is not my intent. "We" have a huge hurdle ahead of us, which will not be solved by the same thinking we have used before.

Most neurotypical social interaction occurs at the subconsious level, and is still mired in earlier evolutionary times.

Simply put, it is something that needs to be accounted for in coming up with solutions, and solutions to serious problems will happen despite it rather than because of it.

The worst, illustrated by your Justin Beiber case, is the "us vs them" social pattern. You can see it exhibited on this board in the forever ongoing nuclear debate, where anybody who posts in those threads is instantly pigeonholed into "pro" or "anti" nuclear groups (frequently accompanied by a series of ASCII "high-fives" by people who identify in the opposite group).

JMG has gone into considerable depth on how to deal with normal social interaction on his Archdruid Report blog over the years (dealing with it both in yourself and in others). Good reading even if you find yourself disagreeing with him in many areas.

It's shaping up to be a long hard winter for much of New England...

Our View: Maine should stop burning money for heat
Politicians should fight for low income heating assistance, but efforts to move off oil are needed.

Maine and Saudi Arabia have nothing in common, save one thing: An utter dependence on oil, with the price of it having a drastic effect on their residents and economies.

With winter coming, the prospect of filling those furnaces is becoming much more real -- and much more distressing -- for thousands of Maine families who receive heating subsidies through the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

See: http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/maine-should-stop-burning-money-for-h...

Maine told heat aid being slashed

AUGUSTA, Maine — As Andy Tasker watches his work hours and pay go down, his need for heating assistance goes up. The Auburn resident and thousands like him in Maine are facing drastic cuts in Low Income Home Energy Assistance, as the price of heating oil rises far above last year's level.

"This is a necessity to me," Tasker said Monday, just days after federal government told the Maine State Housing Authority that it should expect to receive $23 million for the program, down from $55.6 million last year — a 60 percent drop.

See: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP030bdee7062248a097110640d8c46ee4.html

Mainers Chilled by Federal Heating Assistance Cuts

Around 65,000 Mainers are expected to sign up to receive help this winter from the federally-funded Low Income Heating Assistance Program--slightly more than last year. And applications aren't the only thing that's up: According to one estimate, the average cost of heating a home in New England this coming winter will be just short of $3,000, nearly $650 more than last winter. All of which makes the White House's cuts to LIHEAP funding that much harder to bear, some Maine officials say.

See: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/347...

No easy answers/no easy solutions.


Poor worry over government heating aid cuts as winter looms

It's a worry around here too. I usually run a neighborhood weatherization project every year. People are already emailing me for free kits provided by the city. Plastic window covering, door sweeps, caulk for around windows, etc etc.


"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has allotted $1.7 billion for the program so far this year, down from $4.5 billion last year and $5 billion the year before.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides aid to millions of households across the nation. In 2009, the last year for which figures are available, 7.7 million households in all 50 states benefited from the program.

New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are the program's largest recipients."

The reality is people are going to have to turn the heat down further. It really annoys me, though, when one goes into massively overheated office buildings and stores. People shouldn't be dressing in short sleeves in winter.

Edit : one has to acclimatize to cold weather - one can't do that effectively when indoor heat is set so high in many places.

Edit 2 : people are going to have to change mindset about temperature. Most people have the idea that their home temperature should be governed by their own personal comfort. The reality is that home temperatures are going to be governed more and more by outdoor conditions, and people are going to have to do the adjusting.

Overheating of shops and other large frequented spaces (I can't really say "public" because shops are private) annoys me every winter in BC. you get dressed adequately for the frigid outdoors, and then when you walk in the shop door it's 20+ (C) in there and you're stripping off all your layers and *still* sweating. then you go outside again and get chilled because you're now damp inside your clothes. grrr. plus all the nuisance of what amounts to undressing and getting dressed again on every visit to a business or office. I don't know why they can't keep the indoor spaces at a cool but not cruel 16 to 18, with small low-wattage heating pads for sit-down workers who don't move enough to stay warm. but almost no one agrees with me, so...

My wife and I agree with you, FWIW.

Yeah, and it's the opposite craziness in the summer. Shops a/c'd down to temperatures that would never be tolerated in the winter. Absolutely stupid.

I get just the opposite down here. When comfortable with the outside heat I walk into a store etc that is air conditioned to roughly the equivalent of a fridge, with employees wrapped up against the cold. When I go back outside I get blasted by the wave of heat and have to get used to it all over again.


Hi ST,

First of all, many thanks for the work you do with respect to these weatherization projects; no question, this is where we should be focusing our efforts.

I use to be fairly comfortable at an indoor temperature of 13°C/55°F but now, due to heath complications and medications, that's no longer true -- far from it. As you can appreciate, someone in their seventies or eighties is going to have a tougher go of it than a twenty or thirty year old in good health, and with a rapidly ageing population and an economic future that is likely to be far less favourable than imagined, I fear fuel poverty will become a much larger issue in years to come.


Hi Paul

I can certainly understand reduced tolerance to cold as one ages. Really, I was thinking more about 75 degrees than 55 degrees ;)

I often visit homes where I am dressed for my indoor temperature - 62 degrees day, 55 degrees night - (not that extreme) - and end up way too hot where people have the heat on upwards of 75 degrees and more.

I'm sure most folks find my house pretty freezing. People visit here and don't take their coats off ;) I have a space heater in the living room for times like that...sigh...

It takes a few weeks to get used to the temperature change, but if I can do it (coming from South Africa) it can't be that hard. I try and put the heat on as late as possible every year.

If there is ever a power outage in winter, or if the heat is not available for any reason, (we have mostly natural gas central air furnaces here) I have a small basement apartment set up to heat by one small indoor propane heater - which should, hopefully, also keep the pipes from freezing.

Yair...I have never experienced the low temperatures such as some of you folks endure but, growing up on remote sawmills in the Victorian high country it was not unusual to wake up in the morning to a foot or more of snow.

The houses were crude unlined weather-board structures and come winter one of my jobs was to make paper mache(?)and plug up all the cracks and knot holes.

About the end of March kids (only six of us at that stage) were doubled up head to toe in bed. This took full advantage of body heat and of course the same amount of blankets were used on half the amount of beds.

Hot rocks and water bags were part of the nightly ritual and I have fond memories of a toasty prewarmed bed.

The woodstove was installed in an extension to the kitchen and across the back and on both sides were built in seats that doubled as wood and kindling boxes.

Winter life pretty much centred on that woodstove and there were always a couple of four gallon ex Kerosene can buckets full of steaming hot water for the baths that were taken in galvanised tub in front of the open fire box.

These days such an 'existance' would be seen as unsatisfactory and demeening but it never did me any harm and I quite enjoyed the winters...untill I was ten and then had to use the outside dunny.

To me the concept of having a whole house heated seems quite beyond belief.


"To me the concept of having a whole house heated seems quite beyond belief."

Your point/idea is key for long term energy scarcity. We have wood heat and a good stove, so our house is actually too warm most of the winter. But the layout of the house is key; a central heated living space and unheated bedrooms. If it drops to minus 10 or so we might flash up a small heater in the back bedroom when we get ready for work, but the idea of keeping all rooms at 18-20 is crazy and actually uncomfortable.

R 40 in the attic, good windows, insulated floor, and a water heater for mass tied into the woodstove makes for a very comfortable existence.

The place is also cool in the summer. The HVAC culture needs to get real.

Hi Paulo,

I wonder if we run the risk of long-term structural damage due to condensation forming inside exterior wall cavities. I've seen mould and mildew develop on cold exterior surfaces in rooms that have been closed off and left largely unheated and I shudder to think of what's happening on the other side of the drywall.

Six days into the calendar month and with an average hourly temperature of 3.4°C/38°F, we've used an average of 15.9 kWh per day for space heating purposes or the equivalent of 1.8 litres/0.48 gallons of fuel oil at 82% AFUE (43-year old, 230 m2/2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod with an indoor set temperature of 20°C/68°F). With suitable attention to the home's thermal envelope and an energy efficient heating system, you can still maintain a high degree of personal comfort without consuming an inordinate amount of energy.


You can't leave rooms unheated or they will start to develop mold problems.

I do volunteer work for the Alpine Club of Canada. We have started putting wood stoves into all our alpine huts. Most of them have propane for cooking and in many cases heating, but these huts started developing mold problems because the cooking facilities would raise the humidity and condensation would promote mold in the walls.

However, wood heat is a dry heat compared to propane, so the periodic burst of dry heat from the wood stoves kills the mold in the huts. In addition, while people leave propane heat on for the day, a wood fire dies until they come back, so our fuel costs are lower.

Since we have to fly propane/firewood into most of our huts by helicopter, keeping the fuel consumption down is important.


Which is why I choose not to close off rooms or let temperatures fall too low. I may pay a little more each year, but I'd rather this then risk respiratory illness or structural damage which is a concern given our cold, damp maritime climate (earlier this morning it was -4°C and the relative humidity stood at 89 per cent).

Wood heat is a "dry" heat because the conditioned air that you've just paid to heat is being sucked up the flue and replaced by cold dry air pulled in through various cracks and crevices. Some thirty years ago I read a report on the operation of wood stoves in electrically heated homes in the Pacific Northwest. If I recall correctly, the electric baseboards in the area where the stove is located (typically the living room) didn't come on when it was in use but the strips in the bedrooms and other outer reaches fired-up due to the in-flow of the make-up air. The biggest hit occurred overnight after the fire went out because conditioned air was still being pulled up the stack, but little or no heat was supplied by the stove itself.


You can always put an external combustion air supply on the wood burning stove - my fireplace has one, but that's because it's in a highly-insulated, tightly-sealed building.

The Alpine Club huts leak air like sieves anyway - most of them are poorly-sealed log cabins - so the air draw from the stove probably doesn't make much difference to the air infiltrating into them. The stove, though, is usually the only source of heat.

In my gas fired water heater the hot air runs up a pipe, in the centre, to transfer heat to the water. When the burner is off this is the main heat loss for the water transferring heat to the air and going up the chimney. It would be nice to have a drop in, thermostatically controlled vent that closes when the heat of the flame drops when the heater thermostat turns the burner off. That might work in those wood fired chimneys too.

I plan to use the heater for my solar hot water so a polystyrene plug will be put in the top. Yep, I know about the inefficiencies of those boilers but the instant type were hardly available when the system was designed and a change over now may be difficult (pressures). However I may put an instant one in for the kitchen as that will save a LOT of hot water pipe.



The efficiency of a conventional gas water heater such as you describe is relatively poor; generally the EF is 0.60 or less. A power vent unit will bump that up to 0.65 or perhaps 0.67. Not a huge improvement, but a step in the right direction. By comparison, an on-demand gas unit will get you into the low 80's and a good quality electric water heater tops out in the mid 90s. At the high end, a heat pump water heater such as the GE Geospring has an EF of 2.0 or better (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ_GMYwAkTI&feature=relmfu).

Our oil-fired boiler is equipped with an atmospheric vent damper and a three story stack and so a good amount of conditioned air is continually sucked out of our home. A few days ago when wind gusts were approaching 100 kph the damn thing was rattling about, opening and closing like mad. Had we gone with a small electric boiler as I had originally planned, we could have likely cut our home's air infiltration rate by half.


Yeh, that's why I am trying to do the solar if only the stores would stock rolls of 3/8 pipe :( It costs around 100 pesos a month just to keep the water in the tank warm without running any off. Instant heaters were rare as hens teeth and as expensive when the design was done and there is no easy way to change now. Next time will be designed in solar with instant backup.


EDIT: PS the local light bulb exchange is going like hot chocolate. Every time I am at the supermarket someone is swapping incandescents for CFLs, 5 swaps the other day. I asked the girls how many a day they were doing but they didn't know because of the shifts. The estimate we came to was 50 and up.

I've been in a number of log cabins that have been retrofitted with proper insulation (R20 walls, R40 attic). The original log cabins required you to get up to fill the wood stove with logs all night because wood is a very poor insulator, and usually the wind was whistling through the gaps in the log.

Once they have been insulated, though, the big problem is not overheating them. If you fill the stove with wood before you go to bed, you will spend the night sweating on top of your sleeping bag. You have to restrain yourself from putting wood on the fire and make sure that the logs have burned down to ashes before you go to bed. The cabin will stay warm all night just on residual heat. By morning it might be a bit chilly, but that's what down sleeping bags were invented for.

After a prolonged power outage last winter, I invested in a set of these:



Basically 550 loft goose down insulated pajamas. I was a little disappointed when I first unpacked them, but after hanging overnight they fluffed right up. Now my main problem with them is overheating. The house has to be pretty darn cold before I can wear them. But in any case I'll be ready when we have our usual power outages this winter. Even aside from that, I expect to save enough on the heating bill this winter to more than pay for them.

That is some serious long underwear...now that I think of it, I'm sure I still have an old ski suit that would work just the same.

As a result of this site and a few others i moved off grid just over a year ago - and float about on a boat. Heating is one of the easiest things to crack - as the saying goes 'there's no such thing as bad weather .. only the wrong clothes'.

The sailing fraternity use the terms base layer/mid layer/top layer/waterproof(wet) layer.
So in short order:
Thermal longjohns Top and bottom - must be breathable micro-fibre .. (or wool if you can stand it)
Mid layer - again - longjohns - and a micro-fibre sweat shirt with polo neck collar
Top layer - again - all micro-fibre - zip fronted etc - (so you can take them off or at least open them as you overheat.

Finally - a proper water/wind proof top layer and boots for working outside.
I have to stress there's a huge difference between 'real' waterproof clothing and the bulk of stuff that's available that really isn't anything more than water resistant in mild shower.

Last winter when it was around minus 20 i was also wearing a micro-fibre balaclava + gloves and a couple of pairs of wool socks ( thin base layer and thicker top layer)

The increase in heating oil costs mentioned is more than required to easily get you a proper set of all weather ocean going clothing ... albeit the cheap end of the range.

You can of course complain all you want about the inconvenience of having to dress appropriately in consideration of the weather .. but then can you in the same breath complain about energy cost?
My heating bill last winter (north of England) wasn't .. £0.00 .. as I've a diesel heater i used from time to time - but only through choice - not necessity.
Exactly when did slacks and a Tee-shirt become required casual wear in Winter ?

Like I said .. there's simply no such thing as bad weather .. only the wrong clothes .. but maybe it would be better to phrase it like this:

'There's no such thing as bad weather .. only the wrong mindset.'

Now I take the point about age being an issue as well as health and I'm reminded of a friend of mine who has a wharehouse dealing in ex Forces stuff - he sits in an unheated building in the Winter and fixes electronics .. wearing a 12volt heated aviators suit.
The only thing I've ever heard him complain about is that the battery is too heavy to cart about without a sack truck .. so that's what he uses.
He's in his late 70's.

My favorite winter dog-walking pants are made for snowboarders -- thick water-resistant woven shell lined with fleece. When it's extra chilly they get worn indoors too!

I use to be fairly comfortable at an indoor temperature of 13°C/55°F but now, due to heath complications and medications, that's no longer true -- far from it.

Me too, same reason. I have been struggling for three years to force myself below 65F during our 6 month heating season. I find I can tolerate, barely, 65. At 62F I am absolutely miserable, even with multiple layers of clothes and socks, a blanket on top, and a heating pad under my feet. If I stick my hands out to do anything, they ice up (a nasty little thing called Reynaud's) and then game over. My original goal was 60F,but no way.

Does anyone know why 62F feels just fine outdoors, but feels so cold indoors? This has always mystified me.

"Does anyone know why 62F feels just fine outdoors, but feels so cold indoors? This has always mystified me."

When you're outdoors, you're typically moving around, doing something physical. Indoors, you're often sitting, or doing something less physical.

Feeling cold is no fun. In the cold season here in NH, I wear long underwear, a down vest, and a wool hat indoors. Feet are hard to keep warm as I get older. Oh well. Old Russian proverb: No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

Reynaud's is particularly nasty stuff, so please keep on top of that, VT. For me, it's diabetes which means that my feet are always cold and the effects of my high blood pressure medication. If need be, I could dial things back to 15°C/59°F, but at that point I find it hard to concentrate and I'm far less productive. So, yes, my power bill is a little higher but, by the same token, I'm more comfortable, more productive and, most importantly, I don't have to listen to the endless whining of my partner who, God knows, has suffered more than enough.


Yes. Get older, and most of us don't same the same metabolism, circulation, or thermoregulation we used to have. I threw the heat on last night, to keep it above 61F, wife was complaining. We just ain't as tough as we used to be -although for us this is the first cold snap of the season -just a week ago it was 70f or above every day, now suddenly its not. So maybe it was partly lack of acclimitization?

There's an old saying which I think I picked up from a Sierra Club mountaineering class. When your hands and feet feel cold, put on a hat. That's because the human body tries to keep the brain warm as the temperature drops, thus the circulation to the feet, legs and hands is reduced. Under extreme conditions, most of the body's heat leaves thru one's head. Thus, to warm your hands and feet, put on a hat, even indoors...

E. Swanson

Also the infrared radiation environment is important -although that usually cuts the other way. In any case the average surface temperature around you, is a large part of what you will feel on your skin. So outside, at night you have an everage of the ground and the sky temperature. If it is clear weather, the ground is ususally quite a bit colder than the air, the sky temp can be -30F to -60F. But during the day, you add sunlight, and the ground surface is quite a bit warmer than the air -plus you can add the sunlight to your body as well.

Reynaud's - I have it too. Try Cayenne pepper in gelatin capsules. Immediate peripheral circulation improvement.

IIRC there is a therapy that involves sitting in a cold room with the hands (and the feet if affected) in a hot bowl of water. It was based on the principle of "re-training" the nervous system.

Thanks for inserting this point about the elderly again. I used to beat this bush also, but tired of it. Just notice all the sweaters on the elderly in July.

I lived with much colder temps younger, now, it's a different story. Even in the summer. I get angry at a/c to below 75 in stores/homes.

With an old farmhouse, it's a challenge. Btu's needed are high, your options for fuel limited. I've spent years insulating/rebuilding this place, but annual fuel price increases leave you treading water. A further affront is respiratory problems with the circulation problems as age advances. I haven't been able to handle a wood or pellet stove for a long time now, no matter their claims of air tight, though I had lived with them for years. Propane and electric became my only alternatives.

This fall I installed an outdoor wood boiler. That should have a payback of 3-4 yrs, depending on fuel increases, but I wonder if at that time I'll have the health to cut all the wood to feed it.

Why is there assistance for energy bills instead of funding for insulation, high-eff heating, heat-pumps, etc?

For some, both may be needed, but it makes more sense to upgrade once than pay per year.

Not all low income households own their own homes, which makes removing heating oil price shock risk even trickier in areas where much of the legacy housing stock relies on heating oil.

No question that eliminating dependence on heating oil should be a goal, but with heavy denialist wings in both the US legislature and the Maine legislature, that's easier said than done.

We know that rural residents suffer disproportionately during a high oil prices, primarily because of transport issues, but reliance on oil heating is another aspect.

I know of no-one who has examined the issue of fuel poverty (and how to correct it) more closely than Brenda Boardman in the UK.
Her excellent book on this intractable problem was reviewed last year at EB:

Ah, something I know something about -- while I was a legislative budget staffer, the energy assistance programs were part of my responsibilities. Possibly I know too much.

Overall, there is some spending for efficiency upgrades. The federal block grants from Health and Human Services allow up to 10% of the money to be spent on efficiency. DOE has its own program that is all spent on efficiency. Most states also put some of their own money into the pot, and in some cases some of that money can be spent on efficiency. Of the various efficiency measures that are allowed, weatherstripping is by far the biggest bang for the buck; unfortunately, the feds encourage buying one new high-efficiency furnace instead of weatherstripping 50 homes.

That said, the way I phrased the fundamental question when I was asked to consider whether more of the money should be spent on efficiency and less on fuel, was "Which one buys the most BTUs of benefit?" I did the usual sort of engineering economics comparison, having to make decisions about how to discount future BTUs, what the length of the study should be, etc. Long story short, I found a break-even point of about $15 per thousand cubic feet of NG (my state is heated very largely with NG): if gas was cheaper than that, you got a larger benefit from paying for fuel than from efficiency. There are lots of intangible reasons for preferring efficiency, but policy makers tend to regard those as second order.

One of the practical considerations is also that it's not an entitlement, it's a block grant, there's not nearly enough money to help all the people who technically qualify, so the states usually pick and choose: households with elderly people, with newborn infants, or with people with respiratory problems generally get the money. The set of people who receive help in the form of fuel assistance changes a lot from year to year. The set of people who receive help if I spend the money on efficiency varies much less. That is, if I buy this household a new furnace, I have effectively committed to helping them for the next several years. The policy makers would prefer to have greater flexibility: you get helped this year when your child is an infant, but not next year when the kid is a toddler.

Good points, McCain

Brenda Boardman would certainly agree with you.
So would Monbiot, who correctly pointed out the folly of UK FIT subsidies to upper-income people who can afford to install solar, while millions of poorly-insulated homes waste fossil fuel, increase GHGs and leave their cash-strapped occupants shivering.

from the review of Boardman's book:
Boardman frequently reminds the reader of the human toll of fuel poverty. She provides quotes which illustrate the ways in which the fuel poor endure the cold: by going to bed early and huddling under blankets (p. 175), the “horrific choice of heating or eating” (p. 172), and the problem of “excess winter morbidity” (p. 171). She pointedly states, “Cold homes are not just correlated with ill health; they cause it” (p. 183).

Boardman masterfully outlines the history of misdirected government initiatives and then counters with her own delineation of a more effective government policy. She argues that the primary focus should be on practical solutions such as insulating the least energy-efficient homes first. This type of capital expenditure produces lasting benefits on multiple fronts: the comfort, health and financial situation of occupants, which in turn produce other social benefits. These investments also help address the twin problems of climate change and peak oil & gas. Furthermore, these improvements are relatively permanent.

McCain, if you still know people who are working on LIHEAP, etc, please encourage them to check out Boardman's work: she's been on this for many years and is devoted to the issue... knows it & the policy options inside & out.

All of the states with which I am even passing familiar have a bunch of passionate well-informed people running well-organized lobbying campaigns.

How would this work? Efficiency spending is a one time shot...fuel subsidy is expected to continue forever and does not encourage conservation?


re: "Mainers Chilled by Federal Heating Assistance Cuts"

I beleive there are easy solutions that make sense. Reduce living space to key areas of the house when the temp really drops. Put plastic layers over the windows. Put on coats and wear slippers. Long term make plans to use another heat source and budget for it.

What would people have done 100 years ago? What have people done for thousands of years? Why should it be any different as challenges mount?

If faced with a $3,000.00 heating bill, one could buy a top of the line woodstove and chimney and 4 cords of wood for the same price. Then, next year all you have to do is get the wood. This is Maine....Maine has trees. And/or...eventually move to a smaller home.

This is insane, taxpayers are supposed to subsidize central heating costs for those unwilling to take responsibility for their own survival and comfort in a ff limited world? Obviously, this cannot continue.

Turn off the tv and split tomorrow's kindling. I know this sounds flippant and uncaring, but it should be pretty clear that times are changing from the relatively insane consumption patterns of the last 60 years. In many countries one main room is heated and the outer areas are cold in the winter. Maybe this will promote family activities like actually eating together....board games, whatever.

I just don't see how things will stay the same as far as heating and cooling goes? The Beaver Cleaver lifestyle was a myth, anyway.

By the by, Paul (to you who write such worthwhile posts about all manner of topics, especially lighting) my snarkiness is directed at the article and not your post!

Regards Paulo

Perhaps we need subsidies to help people downsize their house.

What's going to happen is the number of people living in a house is going to substantially increase, via methods ranging from the extended family living in the same house to people renting out rooms to people splitting houses into a couple (probably illegal) apartments. A lot of people, even at TOD, don't realize how much poorer most people are going to be.

Then they would pay less property tax. The government does not like that idea. In fact the pols suggest if you buy a house in the US we will give you a residence visa.

If faced with a $3,000.00 heating bill, one could buy a top of the line woodstove and chimney and 4 cords of wood for the same price. Then, next year all you have to do is get the wood... This is insane, taxpayers are supposed to subsidize central heating costs for those unwilling to take responsibility for their own survival?

Paulo, you are assuming that absolutely every person in the world is a homeowner, free to make any modification to their abode they wish. Over a third of the US population, over 100 million people, are renters, and I believe the percentage is even higher in other countries. It is not a matter of "taking responsibility". It is a matter of not being allowed to "take responsibility".

There are very, very few rentals out there with woodstoves in them. And the number of landlords who would allow a tenant to install one is nil.

Also, if you rent in an old building wich have a chimney,fully functioal,you can bet your rectum it has been plugged anyway because they don't want it to be there. And now I am talking about Sweden wich is a forest country.

In the UK many old chimneys have to be plugged because they are a fire/fume hazard. Tar build up inside can burn, too much heat can pass through to start a fire and cracks in the walls can let through combustion gasses. Reusing them can mean a lot of lining, cementing, inspections etc. Often they are too small to receive the required inside diameter liner plus thickness of insulation plus any cement sealing. Went through all of this with my old house and it ended up shutting it off was the only solution.


Actually, I did have a rental in the AZ central highlands for 7 years that was heated only with a woodstove, but I had a rather unusual landlord who had lived there himself and pulled the electric furnace out completely. The place had a propane cooking stove and electricity on the grid. We used a small electric space heater in the bathroom during the coldest days of the year, not daily, as the woodstove kept the place pretty warm as long as you kept feeding it.

But rented an old farmhouse in Wales while I studied at UWA recently, and of course, they had knocked down the chimney and covered up what was probably a beautiful historic kitchen / dining room fireplace. The oil burning system worked well but was awfully expensive, and it was cheaper to run the shower water through the portable electric heaters. I kept the house as cool as possible and insisted everyone dress for the season.

Where in AZ? I'm 3rd generation (though I live in SoCal now). Rural AZ is still AZ. Phoenix is greater LA at this point.
I rent. It's why I'm on propane. The landlord uses wood and propane, but won't let me put in a wood stove.

When he said N. Az, I was thinking Flagstaff, which is at 7000feet. The southwest has variable climate, generally the low elevations are hot/dry, and the high elevations can get pretty cold. I think the New Mexico state record low was something like -50F (or was it -60f). But, that was in a high mountain valley.

I lived in Yavapai County, AZ at the time. I'm also in S. Cali - Orange County (Carmageddon) at the moment, wah!


Well, speaking from the belly of the beast, I have to suggest that it's not quite as simple as all the well-intended 'Turn off the TV and do for yourself..' suggestions would propose. And I'm sure you realize that.. as there is still a lot of truth to the fact that we've ALL in the industrialized world gotten used to living fairly flambouantly with easy energy, in multiple ways.

Here's our Gov'ner's reaction this morning.. and a local Repr.'s response to it,


LePage joined MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick and all four members of Maine’s congressional delegation in opposing the cuts, but it’s not clear yet what Congress will do.

Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland, the lead Democrat of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, said he doesn’t think the Legislature should consider shifting Efficiency Maine funds and criticized the governor for suggesting it.

“I think he’s hostile to energy efficiency efforts for whatever reason,” Hinck said. “It doesn’t sound as good to him as a nuclear power plant or expanding natural gas. But efficiency creates savings that are cheaper than any other form of assistance. Why doesn’t he talk about that?”

...Hinck said he’s just as concerned as the governor about LIHEAP but said that program has been in jeopardy before, which makes energy efficiency efforts all the more important.

“It’s a narrow view of the governor to take money from Efficiency Maine for emergency heating when we gave much more in tax cuts to people that are quite warm,” he said.

I have suggested a few times, as do others in this debate regularly opine, that LIHEAPs regular, recent cuts to the Weatherization Programs in favor of Fuel Assistance have been shortsighted and ultimately counterproductive.. as if we really need to spell that out for anyone.

Part of it may be that fossil fuel interests have a lot of political influence. He can't admit that, but he could be getting contributions from people who have a financial stake in keeping fossil fuel demand high.

"What have people done for thousands of years?"

Oh, dear. For one thing, although people did live in places with climates like that of Maine, they numbered far, far, far fewer than they do now. After all, our origins seem to be in the tropics, rather than in any place that has winter.

If Mainers "solve" the problem on any noticeable scale by chopping down trees, the problem will become un-"solved" again soon enough by the same method. With today's comparatively enormous population, the trees would soon be largely gone, as happened long ago in much of Europe, and despite the seemingly limitless scale of the current forest.

The forests of Maine are owned by the paper and lumber companies. They are not open to the people of Maine. Maybe they can state-ize the forests.

This brings to mind the Mexican fisherman from the earlier thread.

...the businessman then asked the logger why he didn't stay out longer and chop down more trees?

I can't imagine being leagly prohibited entering other peoples forests. Or camping on the grounds, picking berrys and mushrooms, making a camp fire from dead branches. Thats like not beeing alowed to express or even have your own opinions etc.

In the US, it's often related to liability. My parents got sued when a hunter was injured on their property. They were found not liable due to the fact that their property was posted "no trespassing" at the county seat.

What did he do. Trip on a lodge?

It's called Enclosure :-)

been going on a few minutes now.

A hundred years ago, you wouldn't have people living in trailer parks dependent on oil heat. They'd be living in cabins in the woods, and they would cut enough wood to get through the winter (likely years earlier, so it would be properly dried).

People no longer have access to those woods, and it's probably a good thing, since there are probably too many people to harvest wood that way, even in Maine.

Trailers... yeah, they are almost impossible to heat. Some friends of mine lived in an average (not double-wide) trailer near the coast in BC and it was always frigid all winter, even with plastic over windows and a pretty steep Hydro bill *and* sweaters and slippers. Trailer living in a cold climate leaves you desperately dependent on electric heat unless you hack a woodstove into the thing, and then you're wasting most of the wood you burn because the box just can't hold the heat. No need for them to be like that of course, except that energy is "cheap" and building higher quality trailers with insulated walls would cut into profit margins. I've often thought that we'll be seeing trailers "strawbaled" soon, used as the shell around which the inhabitant builds a cob or straw insulation layer...

The house my partner and I just bought was built by a fairly smart guy. He put a layer of insulation under the concrete slab in the half-basement, as well as the usual insulation in walls, ceiling, etc. The slab floor is cool, but never gets down to soil temperature, and never damp. A rug or carpet is enough to ensure comfortable feet. Sure it added some time and cost to the project, but... the payback over years is dryness and warmth, and that's what housing (in this climate) is all about.

Another thing I'll note about winter heat is that you can learn to deal with being chilly a lot of the day so long as you can get seriously toasty for an hour or two, preferably right before sleepytime. One big hit of woodstove heat just before bed makes up for a day of being just a bit cooler than comfortable (or even outright cold).

Fossil fuel profligacy enabled us to be comfortable, more or less, in gimcrack, jerrybuilt, one-step-up-from-cardboard-box housing. That's over, and the retrofit I fear will not be cheap... if you take a great big long view, it's as if we shifted the effort and expenditure of the whole society from the pursuit of quality and durability in necessary or fundamental goods -- like clothing, housing, tools -- into a glut of positional/display goods like a huge military, massive entertainment complex, luxury consumer toys. What filled in the gap was fossil fuel. Cheap shoddy tool? no problemo, just toss it and buy another because they are so cheap to make... Cheap shoddy house? no problemo, just pour the KWH into heating it and who cares how much is wasted? Cheap energy filled a huge gap in quality.

I dunno how many of youse are carpenters and the like, but it's well known in the traditional end of the trade that hand tools today are junk compared to those made 100 years ago. Steel was actually better then, or manufacturing processes were better, or *something* was way better than what we are doing today. The old planes and chisels hold their edge, sharpen up beautifully, will outlast several generations of owners. The new ones spoil quickly and don't hold an edge. Our kids have iPhones and laptops and mp3 players, but they can't go out and buy a reliable hand saw that will last more than a season or two of cutting firewood. And no one knows how to sharpen a handsaw any more. This bothers me. I think I'd better put it on my list of skills to rediscover...

Some agreements and some differences.

My brother is in a "New England Rated" Trailer, including the Woodstove and the Propane Heater, and he's said it's been really pretty easy and cheap to heat. They have pretty modest square ftg and a very simple wall-outline to insulate.. so I have to say 'there are trailers and there are trailers..' He's just built a Solar Drying Woodshed, which I'm eager to see.

My packrat family still has many of the handtools from our Greats, so I do relish the benefits of layers of good handtools. Pretty fed up with the stamped tin that everything in the HDW store is made of.. the employees there agree sadly.

Trailers... yeah, they are almost impossible to heat... Trailer living in a cold climate leaves you desperately dependent on electric heat... the box just can't hold the heat... building higher quality trailers with insulated walls would cut into profit margins.

This is a sad and very common myth about trailers. My 1995 doublewide has a ridiculous amount of square footage... and is the most energy-efficient, inexpensive to heat home I have ever lived in for my entire life. My power bill is lower than it was ten years ago.

R19 in the walls, R38 in the roof as well as under the floor, the heating ductwork positively buried in all that insulation; double-pane windows, insulation cores in the doors, and up off the ground so no heat is lost through the floor from contact with the cold earth. The house is oriented long-wall to the south, with huge windows on the south and few, tiny windows to the north.

I wish everyone living in fuel poverty could have a house like mine.

"I wish everyone living in fuel poverty could have a house like mine."

Yeah, me too. Here I am, pouring our floors:


There are numerous ways to heat water. You just need somewhere to put the heat. If your feet are warm, the body follows.

R-7.5 under the 5" slab, suitable for our climate. Passive solar + radiant floors works well for us. (The shadows indicate it's ~high noon.)

encapsulating a mobile home in closed cell foam


hand tools today are junk compared to those made 100 years ago. Steel was actually better then, or manufacturing processes were better, or *something* was way better than what we are doing today.

One of the things that chemistry, PLCs, electric smelting furnaces and understanding of the chemisty/physics of metal is far BETTER "steel" today than in the past.

What has changed is with finite element analysis is engineering of tools so they will last no longer than their warranty. Thus modern tools are made with less metal. (cheaper to ship/make)

But to think humans have 'better' steel in the past is just wrong.

What has changed is with finite element analysis is engineering of tools so they will last no longer than their warranty. Thus modern tools are made with less metal.

you just agreed with him right there. they blend and smelt the steel in such a way that it only lasts as long as the warenty give or take a few months. so yes we did have better steel in the past simply because we were not able to in the past to manipulate the process of making the steel to fit the end product.

There is a difference between HAVING access to better steel and USING some of the better steel.

Humans/Corporations have access to a pinnacle of steel composition...the "old days" didn't have better steel.

One could say that the typical human has "worse" steel while those who have the knowledge to desire it and the money to buy it can have "better" steel. On average where does that leave us?

With better steel, around here in Sweden is the competition strong enough that good tools are sold alongside the cheap toys.

Where it leaves us? Having to import tools from Sweden if we want any lasting quality :-)

At more expense, I'm guessing, than if they had been made here in N Am.

The average human in N Am afaik no longer has access to new tools of lasting quality; those are imported and sold only through yuppie catalogues for wealthy hobbyists or successful niche craftspeople... but if you can find old tools at estate sales and farm auctions, lasting quality may be had for a fairly low price. Grampaw's everyday axe was as good as the "super quality special imported" version in a yuppie tool catalogue today.

I should perhaps recall that Grampaw's axe, when new, was fairly expensive in the currency of the time. Hand tools were rightly considered a treasure and a legacy.

So what we've achieved with hyperindustrialism is to make cheap shoddy tools available to the masses. Kind of like we've made cheap shoddy food available to the masses :-) The cheap shoddy tools end up as landfill and scrap metal. (Sometimes they end up hurting people, also -- tools that won't take a good edge are more dangerous than those which can be properly sharpened.) Whereas Grampaw's axe, if you can find it and take care of it, will outlast yet another generation of users. This I think makes the higher quality steel a far more efficient and justifiable use of resources...

Funny thing is, those cheap tools are imported to Sweden. I grew up lerning that US hardware was quality, but now, when I buy tools, I just discard all tools with american sounding names. Swedish hand tools, and if they are electrical German, is what come with me home.

Yeh, I found out that American drill bits don't last anything like as long as their much cheaper Mexican counterparts.


I have a made in US or at least imported from USA sofa, it is super comfortable, USA do have some nice technology. ;-)

I agree that we can make better metal these days, when we want to. I suspect whats happened with tools, is the lure (to the buyer) of really cheap competing brands. Why pay $30 for a saw, when right next to it in the display is a similar looking one selling for $6.99. The fact that the former is made out of good steel, and the later out of the cheapest metal the factory manager could find is not obvious to the average buyer.

People need to realize that we are entering an era of very high and rising oil prices. The price of heating oil is going to rise to the level where most people can no longer afford to use it. They need to switch to some other heat source (any other heat source) and super-insulate their houses ASAP. Actually 10 years ago would have been a good time to do it.

There are no easy answers. But I think one thing is certain . . . people need to get their homes off fuel oil. Switch to natural gas or propane. Liquid fuels should not be used for space heating. It is too valuable as a transport fuel.

Heating oil should not be subsidized.

I don't know if this is true across the board, but propane is often more costly than fuel oil once you adjust for their respective heat content, and I suspect most everyone with access to natural gas has switched over by now although, as I've pointed out, natural gas in not always a bargain, certainly not in these parts.


Yeah, propane can be very expensive. The cost per gallon may be less than the cost per gallon of heating oil (or, kerosene), but there's less energy per gallon in propane. The yearly production of propane is rather small, compared to oil, and will decline as the "wet gas" is depleted. Still, I use if in my house for the stove and a small wall heater...

E. Swanson

Propane qualifies as a liquid fuel that can easily be used for transportation (full disclosure, my home fuel is propane). It only costs a few hundred bucks to switch a gasoline vehicle to propane. My sister-in-law's brother has done several. Switch your fuel oil or propane fueled house to wood, natural gas, heat pump, etc.

Time to move out of the cold northern states.

Not a chance.

Thanks, anyway!

Proper construction and placement to gather what solar energy there is, why would one need to?

Re: Good Graph Friday: Where the renewable energy is, up top.

I think there has been a mistake in the title of this piece. It should read Bad Graph Friday: Where NRDC wants to see renewable energy.

Of course I was looking for a some acknowledgement that Iowa is the leader in renewable liquid fuel, corn ethanol. Not even mentioned. Nada. Doesn't exist.

Does NRDC think anyone interested in renewable energy is going to take them seriously? I sure don't.

If they don't like a particular renewable, they just refuse to acknowledge its existence. That's their right, but they have lost all credibility with this phony map.

I was talking with an environmental consultant about this a couple of weeks ago. The problem is that the EROEI of producing fuel ethanol is around 1, so there is no net energy gain in the process. It is just an expensive way of turning energy-intensive nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel into automobile fuel. Fuel ethanol production in the US is not really a renewable energy source because the input energy is from fossil fuels. Once the fossil fuels are used up, corn production plummets and the fuel ethanol dries up.

You don't say? Not to mention all the injustice of subsidizing corn and ethanol while fruits and vegetables go unsupported. You might call this an obesity subsidy. As a big fruit and vegetable consumer, I resent this and the upcoming farm bill which perpetuates this injustice.

Farm bill runs into 11th-hour opposition

Friday, November 4, 2011

In the 11th hour, a U.S. representative and a bipartisan coalition of 26 groups are trying to keep the House and Senate agriculture committees from pushing the 2012 Farm Bill through Congress, calling their process secretive and undemocratic.

The proposal is one of the nation's most significant pieces of legislation, dealing with everything from farm support programs to food stamps - the last Farm Bill has already exceeded $300 billion. The new bill is expected to be submitted to the congressional supercommittee as early as today.

Chicago Council Releases Farm Bill White Paper

The white paper makes several specific recommendations on how to transform food and farm policy, including:

•Do away with all current commodity and crop insurance programs and instead create a single federally-supported revenue assurance program for all crops and livestock.
•Consolidate conservation programs and reduce the size of the Conservation Reserve Program, with savings split between increased investments in working lands conservation and deficit reduction.
•Increase access to healthy, nutritious food for all by protecting funding for hunger and nutrition safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), while incorporating more nutritional considerations into these programs.
•Transition international food aid to a primarily cash-based system.
•Continue to fund export promotion activities and support free trade agreements.
•Support economic development in rural America through promotion of agricultural research and investing in informational and transportation infrastructure.
•Ending the ethanol tax break to reduce costs of their overall recommendations.

Chicago Council Farm Bill White Paper

Increase access to healthy, nutritious food for all by... incorporating more nutritional considerations into these programs.

Typical disconnected-from-reality, do goody-goody meddling.


One thousand calories of fresh broccoli: $11.24
One thousand calories Lay's potato chips: $2.92

Poor people eat junk because that's all they can afford. I haven't bought fresh veggies at a store in years- literally. I get fresh veggies if I grow them in my yard... which I'm not allowed to do. They can take their "nutritional considerations" and shove them- unless they want to quadruple people's Food Stamps!!

When people are expected to feed a family of three for less than $100 for an entire month, you bet your sweet bippie they eat chips. Or more likely, the nutritionally-equivalent ramen noodles!

AFAIK, potato chips and noodles are much more expensive per calorie than potatoes and rice. Junk isn't cheap.

There are lots of nice options that are, taken together, much healthier and cheaper than junk: Milk, brown rice and some veggies, good oils, cheap unprocessed meats and so forth.

Poor people in industrialised countries are quite often overweight. This means money is not much of a hindrance either, as 20 kg overweight by "Lay's potato chips" cost at least $2.92*8*20 = $467 + an additional cost for increased metabolism, and getting rid of it would save as much.

Someone once commented that cooking good (but cheap) food requires time and energy as well as a little bit of education. Poor people often lack these.

Personally I feel very tired and grumpy if I skip dark green vegetables for a few days. It becomes that much harder to rustle up the energy to shop, prepare, cook and clean-up.

Up until about the '80s, iirc, the poor on average ate a healthier diet than the rich--poor folk couldn't afford the meat, fat, sweets, alcohol...the things that caused the 'better off' to get what were once called 'diseases of affluence'--heart disease, diabetes, gout..

But a combination of the rich getting better educated on health and the flooding of the market with cheap corn sweeteners, happy meals, and other crap, pushed the equation around so that now the poor on average eat much less healthily than the comparatively well off.

New studies show the poor can't afford Happy Meals and other fast food outlets, they rely more on food stamps, not redeemable at MickeyD's. It's the middle class that flocks there, up to a point. As income increases, sit down eateries replace fast food outlets.

I agree about earlier times, that poor tended to eat better than than the wealthy, it's becoming bifurcated now, with the wealthy and poor eating better than the middle class, at least in the US.

We need to convert our corn into ethanol! We need to do this urgently, because we need to keep the fleets of trucks running that transport the energy-intensive fertilisers and other imports we use to force more corn production out of each eroding acre. We also need to keep those trucks running that transport the corn to the massive factory-food processing centers, and to transport the repackaged and flavoured corn mash in its brightly coloured little boxes to all the standardised retail outlets of the big agrifood chain stores. And we need to keep the cars running too, so all the suburb dwellers can drive miles and miles to go to the "discount" supermarket to buy "cheap" food in bright little boxes. And we need to do even more of all this so that we can grow more corn to make more ethanol to keep the trucks running to....

Please, can we stop now?

I do tire of reading these false claims of ethanol's energy return. Please visit the USDA's web site and download the study that shows the actual (2008) ratio is 2.29.

Whoopty doo hoo- we're saved!

Sorry, I know you work hard, and mean well, and I do not blame corn farmers for the fiasco of ethanol.

But the point of my flippant comment above is this. Even if ethanol is 2.29 as you say, rather than the 1.3 that Pimental found, the difference is all but negligible. When we're talking about an energy return on oil that was in the neighborhood of 100 to 1 a century ago, has declined to about 10 to 1 today, we're talking about the loss of an order of magnitude. Ethanol is down yet one more order of magnitude (whether it's at 1 point something or two point something.) We are in for a world of hurt, and perpetuating the status quo through subsidy and misplaced priorities to pursue energy returns of anything less than about 5-7 to 1 is folly. And even 5-7 to one is going to require one huge powerdown and reset from where we've been these past 100+ years.

Another way that I put it is that we built the interstate highway system and suburbia and skyscrapers and night baseball and all the rest of what we consider normal existence today on an EROEI approaching 100:1. For the past 25 years or so we've maintained it on an EROEI of 10-20 to 1. We are not going to hold things together on EROEI of single digits to one.

So as I say, difference between 1.3 and 2.3 to one? Whoopty doo...

I agree with clifman: There was a TOD article or mention in a previous drumbeat about society and EROEI and what the author considered the break-even EROEI needed for civilization.

If I remember correctly, it was 3:1. So even if the USDA says their calculation was 2-ish anything, that value is below the break-even, and things get bad.



I was way off. Apparently the value is more in the range of 8:1 that is needed, according to this article:


"Please visit the USDA's web site and download the study that shows the actual (2008) ratio is 2.29."


I have downloaded the study and dissected it in great detail at the link above. I did this right after the study came out. What the USDA has done is to get ever more creative with their energy accounting. Using their original method of accounting, the EROEI from that study is 1.42. Now, if one does the math, you see that even at 2/1 society would need a gross production of 170 million barrels of oil per day to net out 85. This is why society will not run on low EROEI biofuels.

I view ethanol as an energy conversion not an energy source. While natural gas prices are much lower than gasoline prices, the conversion makes economic sense (only from that viewpoint, not from a much larger viewpoint that considers finite farmland and instability from high food prices).

I never imagined that natural gas prices could stay suppressed for this long. Similar to the WTI-Brent spread but it has been going on for a couple of years longer and without any commentary.

I view ethanol as an energy conversion not an energy source.

Perhaps as a way of "fixing" photons and electricity - two things Man has no real way to "store".

And like Propane, concentrated ethanol is 'forever' - as forever as its container.

"I never imagined that natural gas prices could stay suppressed for this long. Similar to the WTI-Brent spread but it has been going on for a couple of years longer and without any commentary."

Perhaps I misunderstand - without any commentary?? As if Rockman doesn't remind us at least once a week, that the market is being flooded with shale gas produced at a loss due to the necessity of producers needing to keep reserves ahead of production, in order to maintain their stock prices...which sounded insane to me too until I pondered what I would do if I owned stock in an energy company who's reserves had peaked.

Best hopes for straw bales and down jackets,

Good point and I totally agree with Rockman's assessment of supply. But if natural gas supply continues apace, how does it reach price parity with oil? In other words, how does demand increase? I don't think I have seen a discussion about ng pipelines or ngv stations in years. We all know how WTI reaches parity with Brent and it isn't by reducing supply.

EROEI triples if you use corn stovers to fuel the processing plant. It's still low.

In theory, but nobody does it. Actually, EROEI probably goes down a bit because stover doesn't burn as efficiently, but the fossil EROEI would increase (as with sugarcane ethanol).

Yes, I've been making that point (and the ~9 EROI for sugarcane ethanol using bagasse) for years, too. I just don't like how the discussion generally seems to consider the EROI intrinsic rather than process specific. It's a great club to beat ethanol with, rather than talking about how we are greenwashing corn subsidies and HOW to do renewables (and ag policy) right.

Mr. Rapier, I have read and appreciate some of your comments concerning ethanol, but some of what you have claimed formerly has been less than correct. I liked your idea of Iowa going all ethanol, but of course that was tongue in cheek...yes?

The simple fact is the total energy required to produce a corn crop using ethanol is represented by approximately 1/4 of the corn crop from which the ethanol is produced. Roughly the equivalent portion of the soybean crop is required to produce biodiesel. The same amount of energy in the form of petroleum diesel is required to produce either crop. Every ag producer across the US cashes in one quarter of their crop every year to pay the energy bill required to produce it - and it doesn't matter the particular fuel.

WRT to ethanol, three quarters of the crop remains available for me to burn to drive down the highway. What would I burn if not ethanol? Gasoline of course - the fuel in declining supply that concerns us all on this blog. So I cannot understand the hate that is displayed so often for ethanol. Unless it's the fact that the nearly million bpd of gasoline that etOH displaces on the petroleum market, that Senator Klobuchar's office declares holds down the retail price of gasoline by $1.50/gal, represents potential additional profit denied to oil companies?

40% of the total US corn crop is now used to produce ethanol. Not much more can be diverted. So no one seriously believes that ethanol can provide all the fuel this country desires, and no serious person declares such. So please, drop the straw man attacks.

"Mr. Rapier, I have read and appreciate some of your comments concerning ethanol, but some of what you have claimed formerly has been less than correct."


"I liked your idea of Iowa going all ethanol, but of course that was tongue in cheek...yes?"

Not tongue in cheek. People assume that I am just being a smart aleck, and saying "If it's good for the country, why doesn't Iowa use more? Hence, it isn't good for the country." That's not what I am saying. The Midwest is a critically important food-producing region. As such, I would push to make them as resilient as possible with respect to fuel supplies. They produce enough ethanol (Iowa is a good example because of the relatively low population and high ethanol production) and could be much more energy independent. Instead, they still have a system like the rest of the country that is highly dependent upon fossil fuels. I would work to change that.

One person at the ASPO conference introduced me and said "This is Robert. He hates biouels." The first thing I said was "To be clear, I do not hate biofuels." And I tried to explain my position to people. I am realistic about biofuels, but I also said that they will be required for some portion of our fuel supplies.

Underground supercriticality from plutonium and other fissile material

Los Alamos National Laboratory


Several widely endorsed solutions to the long‐term disposition of weapons plutonium and other waste fissile nuclear material involve placement of batches of the material underground in subcritical concentrations. It is pointed out here that such concentrated subcritical fissile material underground might reach criticality that is autocatalytic or self‐enhancing. This criticality could come about upon dispersion into the surrounding medium by either natural or unnatural processes, or by the fissile material being carried to other sites where it can collect into different autocatalytic critical configurations. Underground, where the material is confined and there is an abundance of moderating medium around it, the results of such supercritical excursions could range from modest energy releases to the several hundred gigajoules range from a single event. Without water, 50–100 kg of fissile material is required to reach autocatalytic criticality. Amounts as small as 2 kg can reach autocatalytic criticality with water present. In varying degrees, all categories of waste containing fissile actinide appear to be susceptible to these criticality excursions, including vitrified weapons plutonium, research reactor and DOE spent fuel, commercial, and MOX spent fuel.

PDF available at http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/lib-www/la-pubs/00285689.pdf

Eliminating the possibility at Chernobyl 4 of recriticality with positive feedback (PDF)

Los Alamos National Laboratory

1. The explosion at Chernobyl4 left a mass of fuel combined with graphite, concrete,
water, and the materials dumped on the facility by helicopter. The configuration is
uncertain as is the amount of fuel which remained inside the sarcophagus. There are a few
means for access inside the sarcophagus and one of these was a room partly under the fuel
mass. Neutron and gamma ray detectors were placed there.

2. The sarcophagus roof has been leaking for some time and it i estimated that 3000 m3 of
water has mixed with the fuel. There was therefore a concern about possible recriticality.
The neutron monitors were in place to observe any increase in Keff and criticality itself if it

3. After two weeks of heavy rainfall in 1990, the neutron detector rate increased by a factor
of about 60 and stayed there for several days causing great concern to the scientific
oversight team.

4. Finally a member of this team carried in a solution of gadolinium nitrite and poured it
over the area where it appeared that the criticality might be reaching dangerous levels.
Upon pouring on this solution, the neutron rate decreased as expected.

5. In order to keep the system subcritical, one kilogram of gadolinium in solution has been
sprayed around inside the sarcophagus region every two weeks since that time. In the
meantime the roof has continued to leak.

As long as the canisters containing thermally fissile material maintain their integrity, underground criticality is not a concern. When the canisters have been breached and the fissile material rearranged, spontaneous criticality with positive feedback is possible and explosions of significant nuclear yield can occur. The main points can be summarized as follows:

1. Criticality underground is not always characterized by negative feedback; situations with positive feedback can occur if the TFM disperses or migrates from its original emplacement to a new geometry or location.

2. Both wet and dry autocatalytic conditions are possible, with TFM quantities in the few-kilogram range behaving autocatalytically in some wet scenarios.

3. The dry autocatalytic feature of buried w-Pu, HEU, naval spent fuel, and spent research reactor fuel could give rise to sequential ignitions when this nuclear material is stored in an extended array of large individual emplacements (more than 50 kg per emplacement).

4. A simple means of estimating the yield from auto- catalytic phenomena is described (Appendix B) which does not require detailed information on time history and material equation of state.

5. The maximum yields for the rock sphere containing 100 kg of TFM and for the infinite rock slab were estimated respectively at 3 and 50 tons per kg of TFM, with the yield for the slab being relatively insensitive to the equation of state for rock.

6. The role of the 1 eV resonance in 240Pu as a temporary (6,600 year half-life) barrier to commercial spent fuel spontaneous supercriticality is pointed out. The barrier largely disappears if water is present in the storage medium or after the 240Pu decays away.

(from Undertow's linked Bowman and Venneri, Los Alamos)

Thanks for the links, Undertow. That MOX fuel was a bad decision on Japan's part. So will isotopes concentrate in urban centers over time? Tokyo (all cities) serve to maximize energy and material throughputs. As humans import foodstuffs, energy, construction materials, water, and other imports into Tokyo from its supply region, and then incinerate the wastes, won't that amplify the buildup of radioactivity over time? Has Japan turned into a giant experiment in radioecology, complete with a variety of tracers carrying isotopes up the food chain and illustrating the connectivity between urban environs and their ecosystem services? If isotopes concentrate in top predators, what does that mean for Maximum Empower in the largest metropolitan area in the world, of 37+ million people?



People in Tokyo are desperate, disillusioned and sad.

If there is any chance to leave, people all the way from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo, all the way down to Yokohama will leave. So those who can leave, will leave in a slow exodus. The poor and the old will be left.

Even the government is saying that they need a new capital city to be built around Osaka because the risk of a huge earthquake in Tokyo is too high. They wouldn't move there soon, they say they will wait UNTIL there is a huge earthquake in Tokyo first, but hmmmm, sounds fishy to me. The elites are all getting nervous about the radioactive water, the hotspots everywhere, the strontium 90 everyone is finding. So of course, once the new capital city is ready, I can imagine that they will decamp in a slow progression, coupled with budget cuts and waves of layoffs. I can imagine them saying "Tokyo is too expensive! We will have the new smaller government in the countryside where we can get cheaper food! That's better for you, the people---'cause you save money on our salaries!"

Tokyo will surely, surely be a ghost city in 10-20 years and that situation will last for a hundred years or more. Completely untenable, overbuilt, massively scaled, concrete for hundreds of miles----later generations will be totally puzzled, "What WERE they THINKING????"

It's good to hear your voice, Pi. This is just a tragic, sad situation. This is the fate of all cities of size, so you're just a pioneer in the matter of dispersal. The complicity of Japanese, US governments, and global media in this matter is criminal. I hope you are doing well.

later generations will be totally puzzled, "What WERE they THINKING????"

Assuming the archives for TOD will be able to be read - they can read the pro-nukers comments about 'saving civilisation' and think about all the watts used to light up billboard advertising and ponder the value of saving that.

They can then look at the comments of posters who claim the body NEEDS radiation and click on the XKCD comic about radiation with their 3rd arm and think to themselves "that XKCD is about external radiation didn't account for bio accumulation and the resulting beta decay inside the body with things like Strontium 90 which collects in the big bone masses like the pelvic bone so that the Beta decay would happen next to reproductive organs."

Assuming the archives for TOD will be able to be read

All of the wisdom in the archives of TOD goes poof when electricity gets sketchy, unless it has been converted into print books. Save your kindle for joy reading, and buy print books when it's something you think your kids might need to read.

they can read the pro-nukers comments about 'saving civilisation' and think about all the watts used to light up billboard advertising and ponder the value of saving that.

Several of my very bright honors students have fallen for the clean nukes meme. Even after I brought in the geiger counter and explained the danger to them, they were undeterred. (The geiger counter was much chattier in the public space of the university classroom than in my shoe-free home, BTW.) They were only chastened when I explained the long term impacts to their gonads and ovaries, as their DNA gets churned and chopped like scrambled eggs.

Once you have an energy throughput mechanism in society, the system develops feedback loops to potentiate the maximum empower. In 20 years, our kids will be standing around wondering, What were they THINKING!

Several of my very bright honors students have fallen for the clean nukes meme.

That is to be expected, since it is correct.


If your concept is as affordable and sound as you think, then when will we see implementation?

What are the roadblocks which must be overcome?

Also, would you please enumerate the potential bottlenecks, sensitivity to perhaps rosy assumptions, and risks involved?

Circling back to the Los Alamos Green Independence paper you cited...if these folks have an iron-clad, fool-proof way to produce electricity and synthetic fuel for under five bucks a gallon, why aren't we doing it?

DO you think the U.S. MIC would rather us be in the ME forever so they can make profits, vice taking their budget and implementing your concepts?

And/or could there be other stumbling blocks?

In the first order discussion, my filters are set to "if it seems too good to be true, then it likely is too good to be true'.

Again, I applaud TOD for exploring the boundaries of the mind-space on energy: We have had postings on how the Skylon rocket ship (paper airplane) will facilitate our building of ma massive Space-Based Power System energy 'solution', another proposing hot-air levitated high-altitude solar thermal energy solutions, and we have here a proposal for somewhere between 15,000 and well over 100,000 nuclear fission rectors,to make electricity and pull CO2 out of the air and make synthetic liquid fuels (See the Los Alamos paper linked by jeppen). To boot, we have a cheering section for the Rossi LENR show, which would make PT Barnum proud.

Of all these, I find jeppen's concept closest to reality, but that still isn't very close.

I certainly do not have all the answers, and may be proven wrong. But I won't bet my money on that space on the table.

As I said, I don't think it will take off without big government sponsorship or big carbon taxes. FF are still too cheap for any private investors to take this on. CTL is more likely.

I won't enumerate bottlenecks and roadblocks, as I don't see the point.

I won't enumerate bottlenecks and roadblocks, as I don't see the point.

Of being told "you forgot this" or shown how a simple bottleneck is a show stopping dead end - which would make your pro position less attractive to others and perhaps even you.

Ok, I'll bite. The bottlenecks:

* Heavy engineering capacity
-> can be scaled

* Trained personnel
-> can be trained

* Uranium supplies
-> can be scaled or we could employ breeders

* Money
-> isn't that much

* Energy and material inputs for reactor
-> very little, actually

* Political and regulatory obstacles.
-> may be impossible to overcome

* Waste handling facilities.
-> waste is extremely dense, so no prob.

* space for reactors
-> needs very little space

* cooling water
-> Needs to be situated at seaboard or have cooling towers.

Ok, so what have I forgotten? I haven't looked recently at the CO2 scrubber tech, but I don't remember there would be issues there.


I review and write studies for a living.

Your 'answers' are only the most basic cartoon of an outline.

Even in the U.S. school system, such an answer to a teacher's (Middle School or above) assignment on the subject would merit an 'F' grade.

Sorry to be direct, but in order to justify such an undertaking we need much more than arm-waving.

Dear Heisenberg, you provide laundry lists with questions, requiring me to list every aspect of nuclear power and especially the negative ones. You've done this twice, and I initially declined the second battery of questions.

Then I went along anyway and provided you with a list. Yes, it was shallow, but I naively expected you to say "hey, you forgot X" or "hey, why do you think Y would be so easy, these numbers says it won't". Then we could go on from there, delving deeper into the subject, steered by your specific objections. This would be a normal, efficient, egalitarian and cooperative way of discussing things.

Alas, it seems that you expect me to handle your skepticism blindly, without you even having to pose specific objections. Very convenient for you, as it allows you to lean back in your couch and hand out 'F' for insufficient treatment of the subject. As I now understand how you want to do it, I respectfully opt out.


Your answers averaged a tad less than five word each.

-> isn't that much


Heavy engineering

-> can be scaled


...represent very little to even have a conversation about....especially about a concept that would entail a multi-decade, very expensive and profound, perhaps one could say monumental, World-wide engineering effort without compare.

This reminds me of the cat and mouse back and forth I (and others) had with the L5 society fellow who wrote the keypost about a massive space-based solar power satellite build-out.

He gave 'fast and funny' responses to questions and criticisms, then when asked more probing questions, gave more hand-waving answers and then expressed concern and perhaps a bit of frustration that everyone wasn't grokking his simple answers to massive engineering issues.

I was wondering if you were actually one of the authors of the LANL paper who was blowing a trial balloon incognito, but I have discarded that theory.

I agree to opt out and disengage from this particular line of inquiry as well, as we seem to have exposed all the details there are to be had at this juncture.

Peace be with you, and thank you for engaging in discussion.

If you know the authors of the LANL paper, perhaps you could ask them if they they would be willing to engage the TOD site managers to put up a keypost and engage in some more detailed Q&A based on their more detailed backgrounds and knowledge on their proposal.

I agree to opt out and disengage from this particular line of inquiry as well, as we seem to have exposed all the details there are to be had at this juncture.

No, we have not. We could expose lots of detail if you would engage in a polite discussion on equal terms.

Peace be with you, and thank you for engaging in discussion.

Given the rest of you message, I can't really reciprocate.

* Waste handling facilities.
-> waste is extremely dense, so no prob.

Logical fallacy - Unless you can show that somehow the density of the material makes the handling simpler.
Do go ahead and show this.

* Trained personnel
-> can be trained

And yet - security guards at fission plants are reported sleeping on the job and only came to public attention when said sleeping guards were recorded and the recordings released to the public.

If Man can't seem to get things right NOW, exactly how is Man going to get it right in this nuke-filled future?

* cooling water
-> Needs to be situated at seaboard or have cooling towers.

And exactly how are these seaboard reactors to be protected by Tsunamis?

Such waves from the sea are known to happen from time to time.

What about computer viruses like Stuxnet that infect Seimens controllers. The same kind of controllers used in cooling at Fukushima and claims of Stuxnet being spotted in Japan 1 month before the now famous failure - a failure of the cooling system, along with other failures.

Ok, so what have I forgotten?

Oh, a how about an actual list of addressing the flaws VS handwaves?

"Logical fallacy - Unless you can show that somehow the density of the material makes the handling simpler. Do go ahead and show this."

If it has the same weight but lower density, you'd need more storage space and the enclosing material would need to be expanded, and you'd need more transports.

All of the waste from Swedens 12 reactors since the 70-ies have been collected in a few pools in our interim storage at CLAB. All 5000 tons of it, taking up, I guess, some 500 cubic meters. The energy extracted corresponds to some 500 million tons of coal, which leaves 10% ash waste with a density around 1.

"If Man can't seem to get things right NOW, exactly how is Man going to get it right in this nuke-filled future?"

I don't really think we can expect to get it fully right. I'm sure we'll have an occasional meltdown every hundred years or so, but I prefer this to climate doom.

"And exactly how are these seaboard reactors to be protected by Tsunamis?"

Cooling by gravity and natural convection should be enough, and you should be able to go without refilling of coolant at least a number of days (so you have time to airlift in a firetruck that could add water).

Then of course, even if you don't strictly need them, you should protect generators from tsunamis, so you don't have to go without power anyways. Shouldn't be that hard to put them inside or put them on heights.

"What about computer viruses like Stuxnet that infect Seimens controllers."

That depends a bit on the chosen technology. For instance, for the LFTR, if that's the chosen tech, then a runaway reaction would melt a freeze plug in the bottom of the reactor vessel, and the liquid fuel would drop into tanks to a non-critical configuration. Then the low residual decay in those tanks would be cooled passively in a system that should not be vulnerable to such attacks.

But of course, there can never be guarantees against sabotage. There's a choice to be had here: climate doom, serious powerdown including billions of people that can't be kept alive, or the risks inherent in nuclear power. (Some would argue wind and solar can do the trick, but I would disagree.)

5000 tons in 500m^3 makes a density of 10. Seems very high for storage.


Yes, but waste itself is almost all uranium with a density of 19. But I'm not sure exactly how it is packaged, so I may be off somewhat here.

Is it Uranium or the oxide? If it is fuel bundles there is a lot of space between the pellets. They don't really want to keep them packed too tight together to avoid criticality issues. All in all I think you may well be off.


The two bedrock chambers at the CLAB interim storage are 120 m long, 21 m wide and 27 m high (the roof thickness is about 30 m) The volume is thus about 70 000 m3.
They have each gave 13 m deep pools with 12,5 m of water in them.
The water volume is about 2 x 14000 m3.
They can handle about 2 x 5000 tons of used fuel.

Ah, thanks for filling in the details.


Thanks. In total, 70,000 m3 for 50 years of nuclear waste. Sweden uses almost that volume of oil per day.

All of the waste from Swedens 12 reactors since the 70-ies have been collected in a few pools in our interim storage at CLAB

Interesting claim that in Sweden they take the contaminated clothing and store it in pools.

I'm sure we'll have an occasional meltdown every hundred years or so, but I prefer this to climate doom.

So far the record in under 50 years is 5 reactors. But ever the hand waver you have "occasional" rather than an actual number.

And its a charming answer to the un-technical problem of sleeping security guards - 'I prefer the occasional meltdown'. I believe most of the readers of TOD can understand sleeping security guards and addressing such a problem.

I do like your non-answer to 'protect from tsunamis' as "use gravity cooling". Because a big old wall of water coming toward a plant will go "Oh hey! That thar plant has gravity cooling so I guess, as a big wall of water, won't hit that"

There's a choice to be had here: climate doom, serious powerdown including billions of people that can't be kept alive, or the risks inherent in nuclear power.

To clarify - you are more than willing to increase the cancer risks for every human on the planet.

And to put a FINER point on the matter - 1/7th of Humanity doesn't have enough food *RIGHT NOW* - a problem that can't be addressed with the world not yet in an energy crisis and you somehow think fission plants will change man's inhumanity to man?

Pull the other finger - it fracs methane.

Interesting claim that in Sweden they take the contaminated clothing and store it in pools.

Very funny.

So far the record in under 50 years is 5 reactors. But ever the hand waver you have "occasional" rather than an actual number.

I consider new plants orders of magnitudes safer, especially when lessons learned from Fukushima have been implemented. I'm convinced you won't agree, though, and will dismiss it as hand waving. I can't do anything about that.

And its a charming answer to the un-technical problem of sleeping security guards - 'I prefer the occasional meltdown'. I believe most of the readers of TOD can understand sleeping security guards and addressing such a problem.

I thought of it as an example of stuff that occasionally won't work in reactors, that there are always weak links and functions that doesn't, well, function. And that the worst case end result was meltdowns. So I jumped along that generalization, agreed, and pointed out that it might be acceptable in relation to alternatives. After all, we do traffic and the global deaths are around 1 million/year.

I do like your non-answer to 'protect from tsunamis' as "use gravity cooling". Because a big old wall of water coming toward a plant will go "Oh hey! That thar plant has gravity cooling so I guess, as a big wall of water, won't hit that"

Strange argument. The problem of Fukushima wasn't that the wave destroyed the reactor building directly, because it didn't. The problem was that generators, electrical switchgear and external pumps were flooded and thus coolant circulation stopped. If the cooling goes on without this, then that particular tsunami problem has been handled.

To clarify - you are more than willing to increase the cancer risks for every human on the planet.

I am also willing to allow ambulances on our roads, even though they may cause traffic accidents. Evil, huh?

And to put a FINER point on the matter - 1/7th of Humanity doesn't have enough food *RIGHT NOW* - a problem that can't be addressed with the world not yet in an energy crisis and you somehow think fission plants will change man's inhumanity to man?

Conditions are improving, and nuclear helps sustain this trend, while other alternatives might reverse it in different ways. But of course, nuclear power won't make us socialist (I hope).

Very funny.

Rather than admit you are wrong on the waste stream - you claim humor.

I do like your non-answer to 'protect from tsunamis' as "use gravity cooling". Because a big old wall of water coming toward a plant will go "Oh hey! That thar plant has gravity cooling so I guess, as a big wall of water, won't hit that"

Strange argument

Rather than admit a wall of water from the sea can wipe out a fission plant, you are so narrow in focus "if a wall of water didn't take out one seaside plant, its OK to build sea side plants"?

fission plants will change man's inhumanity to man?
Conditions are improving, and nuclear helps sustain this trend,

I do hope you will be telling us that if Iran gets attacked over its fission-stuff. How such a kinetic action is an "expression of the improvement".

Rather than admit you are wrong on the waste stream - you claim humor.

You know, natural languages aren't predicate logic. There is often an implied context out of which a statement is "wrong". I was obviously talking about spent nuclear fuel, ok? I do remember having these kinds of arguments with you before, and if I had remembered this earlier, I wouldn't have interpreted your objection as an attempt at humor.

Rather than admit a wall of water from the sea can wipe out a fission plant, you are so narrow in focus "if a wall of water didn't take out one seaside plant, its OK to build sea side plants"?

Yeah, I won't "admit" that a building that can withstand airliner impact will be toppled or crushed by tsunamis, no, especially since we have examples when they didn't. You'd have to make the case before I consider it a serious argument. Anyone can have fantasies.

I do hope you will be telling us that if Iran gets attacked over its fission-stuff. How such a kinetic action is an "expression of the improvement".

Again, strange argument. I'm a bit at a loss here, since I can't really follow how you think.

That's kind of the problem isn't it? No one is willing to bet on anything. There are all kinds of ideas out there, but in this uncertain climate no one is willing to take any risks at all. I wish people would just do something. If were heading for collapse we don’t really have much to lose do we? It seems to me that in the past people were a lot more tolerant of risks. Now days everything has to be a sure bet or we can’t do it.

Edit: Well, maybe I'm over exaggerating a bit here, but whatever the solutions that are chosen there is going to have to be some element of risk involved.

Actually, I and other would be willing to 'bet' (advocate investment of our tax dollars), if folks were more willing to enumerate the cost, schedule, safety, etc risks and the potential bottlenecks, sensitivities to overly-rosy assumptions, etc. Otherwise, I judge the LANL (Los Alamos) Green Independence concept (lots and lots of nuke fission reactors providing all the electricity and liquid fuels we want as 'hand waving'.

I find the statement that 'If were heading for collapse we don’t really have much to lose do we?' a pretty cavalier attitude towards building potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of fission reactor complexes...no one is talking about requiring a 'sure bet', but you seem to be willing to 'bet the farm' (civilization) on some ~15-page paper which is awfully thin on specifics.

In the past many more people were much more ignorant of risks...

I see by your edit that you are invoking more reason...I would love to see a report of the risks of a large-scale wind and solar build-out compared to tens or hundreds of the fission reactors.

Of course choosing a COA with large scale wind and thermal.PV solar and some hydro and NG and coal (at lower levels) would entail lifestyle changes such as civilization doing less with less, as well as being more efficient with what they use, and shutting down for the evening (vice large-scale electricity usage), and rising in the morning, following the sun in its daily routine...gardening more, more people living in the Mcmansions, more walking, biking, etc...

I don not think there are enough folks who realize that our expectations must change...I would much rather slow down, simplify, do less with less, than tryst the cornocopians to build and operate tens or hundreds of thousands of fission complexes, and conduct large-scale atmospheric mining of CO2.

I kind of regretted my comment a few moments after I posted it. All risks are not created equal, and ignoring that isn't logical. The reason for my comment is that I am feeling a bit of frustration over the problems that we are facing, and I would like to feel like something is being done about them. It feels like we are all trapped in a net of doubt and conflicting ideologies.

As for nuclear, I'm not sure I really know what the risks are. There seems to be so much disagreement between people about what the true dangers are. It's frustrating for me because my mind is best at dealing with certainty.

Ignoring risk, nuclear power seems attractive to me because it seems like with nuclear power things could be kept going for a while longer without major changes to the social structure I’ve know all my life (That is if the breeder reactors people talk about can deliver what they promise). Without nuclear power it seems like major changes to how we function as a society would be needed, and I'm having difficulty imagining what such a society might look like. It is a long way outside of what I've known all my life. I’m not saying that I think that the society I live in is without flaws, or at it is even the best possible society. It is just that things like this are difficult to change, and it is difficult to even imagine because I am to some extent a product of the environment I was raised in.

Another problem is the number of people we have now. With nothing but the low tech practices of the past can this number of people be supported? I don't know for sure, but I tend to think that they can't which means some amount of modern technology would have to be held onto. If we where to go back to some version of the past I could sort of imagine what life might be like, but society with both high tech and low tech elements is difficult to imagine. Picturing a world run completely on renewable I imagine that some people will have more access to technology then other. This would be especially true during the beginning of such a society. Imagine that only five percent of the people owned electric cars, and everyone else had to make do with public transportation. This might be justified because those people do important work, but to the rest of the people who had to give up their cars this might seem unfair. People seem to place a great deal of emphasis on fairness. If some people have accesses to technology's we have all come to take for granted and others don't than it seems to me like it might create some tension.
Edit: Changed some things on this part to make it make more sense.

Also another problem has to do with growth. It seems like the idea of growth is deeply ingrained in people. Everyone seems to always be trying to make things better for themselves and their family, to seek status and to leave some kind of mark upon the world. How can these impulses be directed in a way that doesn't damage the environment?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not sure if powering down in this vast complex global economy is any easier, safer or less complicated than trying to keep things going a while longer with nuclear power. I have been thinking very hard about how a society might make change its consumption habits. I came up with a few possible ideas which I’ll post later.


Thank you for your great thought-provoking post.

I once rejected thought of our BAU lifestyle powering down, but I have come to think that this will be a positive transition, if planned for smartly.

Powering down does not equate to going back to the stone age, or even 'Little House on the Prairie' (although those times sure had a whole lot fewer people and that would make things so much easier).

I think unless we decide to guide our future rationally toward a less-complex, lower energy lifestyle, and eschew passions for World-wide military intervention and ultimate weapons as our proxies for our claim to greatness, we may very well end up in the stone age again.

Tokyo will surely, surely be a ghost city in 10-20 years and that situation will last for a hundred years or more. Completely untenable, overbuilt, massively scaled, concrete for hundreds of miles----later generations will be totally puzzled,

Maybe they will watch it stomped to the ground, in a big budget Godzilla film? No more toy houses being stepped on by a man in a rubber Godzilla suit, but real skyscrapers wired for demolition as a compter generated monster gets added in at post production time.

Bank dumping days begin

"NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Customers are dumping their banks in droves ahead of the nationwide "Move Your Money" and "Bank Transfer Day" movements this Saturday.

Given the recent spotlight on attempts -- and ultimate failures -- by some of the nation's biggest banks to tack on new debit card fees, thousands of disgruntled consumers have already either left or pledged to leave their current bank for a community bank or credit union, which are known for having fewer and/or lower bank account fees."

never understood why Americans ( and some Europeans) pay for having a bank account.

My , now partially owned by the UK government, bank is free if I stay in credit ( and long may it stay so , I'll move accounts if it doesn't )

checks , ATM withdrawls all free .

Could it be that the USA need "compertition" on this ?

Oh I am fully aware our banks would absolutly love to charge us like the Americans!!


Our banks wait like a mugger in a dark alley for us to overdraw by just a penny and then hit us with a volley of charges in short order - 'kick a man when he's down' being the tagline.
ATM machines on sink estates charge as much £2.50 per withdrawal .. !

Basically, only poor people have to pay for a bank account. If you're rich, you aren't charged all those silly fees. That is, if you can maintain a certain minimum balance.

Many of the poor here are "unbanked." They don't have enough money to maintain the required minimum balance. Who would compete for them? They don't have money. Banks compete for rich customers, not poor ones.

Right on. Also, the rich get lower interest rates for loans, and higher rates for savings instruments of all sorts. This is evident by examining the rates of banks and credit unions. Though they both follow the same model, credit union rates are generally more equitable.

Despite my negative opinion on how banks conduct their business, I realize they are not in it for charity, and it is the shortcoming of government (and apathy of citizens) that has lead to such imbalance.

A good step, but we need to go even further.

I think it's prudent to keep some amount of physical cash outside of the banking system (or in a security box). Given that rates are at zero, there is less disincentive to keep cash. Also, keep in mind that digital money is not physical money. Checking accounts are still very useful, IMO savings accounts are next to useless in the present environment, especially since there is no or little interest and limits on external transfers. Physical cash is important in the event of bank holidays or grid breakdown, which would make electronic payment with debit or credit cards problematic. I think this is unlikely, but the risk is nontrivial.

I also think some of this cash should be spent occasionally, to send the message that we are not willing to go completely electronic, that we still need and participate in a physical cash economy. Also, we can be fairly certain that although the overall environment is deflationary, cash will not hold its value over time. Taking cash and spending it on nonperishable items seems like a good idea.

Also, we need to buy some precious metals, particularly gold and silver, and keep them outside of the banking system. There are many ways to do this, and you don't necessarily have to take delivery.

And, of course, getting out of debt, and not taking on any additional debt unless absolutely necessary.

All of this, added up, makes a difference. We need to concentrate on making alot of little changes, rather than making big changes, because the big changes aren't possible in the thoroughly corrupted system we have today.

Finally, interesting discussion between James Kunstler and Max Keiser for those that follow them:

My local Credit Unions (Community America and Mazuma are the largest around here) also give better interest rates on loans and pay a decent interest on Savings accounts. Along the same thread, why is there also not a push to stop using credit cards from large banks or stop using them at all?

Signs of the times:

North Dakota crude elbowing out Alaska oil at Washington refinery

A Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes, Wash., will cut its use of Alaska North Slope crude oil while boosting shipments of cheaper Bakken crude set to arrive via rail from North Dakota.

"ANS (Alaska North Slope) is a relatively small part of our crude oil supply on the West Coast and I think one of the ways that we intend to lessen the amount of ANS we run is the project to move Bakken crude to Anacortes," said Tesoro chief executive Greg Goff in a conference call with Wall Street analysts, according to a report from Reuters.

The company is building a railroad loading system at the refinery to import more of Bakken crude late next year.

The refinery pumps out 120,000 barrels per day, according to the article. The $50 million rail project will eventually bring in 30,000 barrels of Bakken crude a day, an increase from the 2,000 barrel-a-day maximum the company now imports from the deposit.

North Dakota is now producing nearly as much oil from its Bakken formation as Alaska is producing from its (formerly) supergiant North Slope fields - the largest ever found in the US. We are getting close to the time when flow on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline falls below minimum operating levels, and both the pipeline and the North Slope oil fields have to be abandoned.

Moving oil from ND to the Washington coast by rail is a bit of a new wrinkle, but I'm sure that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is up to the task, and owner Warren Buffet can find room for the extra money in his vast bank vaults.

The Tesoro refinery is also importing about 50,000 bpd of Canadian oil, which is significantly more than the ND oil it proposes to run.

MSM spewing nonsense again

Peak Oil and ERoEI : Still Nonsense (Forbes)

From the article

Basically, what is being said is that as oil gets deeper, more difficult to pump up, perhaps with tar sands we’ve got to use more energy to purify the stuff, then at some point we hit a boundary, a system boundary. We’ll be using more energy to get the oil out than we’ll get energy from the oil we get out. Which, self-evidently, is nonsense, that’s like the internet companies losing money on every transaction and they’ll make it up in volume.

And his analogy is this

Leave aside the oil use, the fertiliser, the transport, all of that. Consider instead just water. It takes 1,000 tonnes of water to grow a tonne of wheat. That water must be fresh water. Producing fresh water requires huge amounts of energy. The Sun does this very nicely for us, evaporating it from the oceans and sending it back down as rain again.

Now, think of the energy that is required to evaporate 1,000 tonnes of water…..that’s 1 million kilos at 419 kJ per kilo. 419 million kJ.

There’s around 3,000 calories in a kg of wheat. So our tonne of wheat provides us with 3 million calories. 3 million kcal (nutritional calories that is) is 12560400 kJ. A little over 12 million kJ.

So, in producing that staff of life, those grains which keep the entire world turning, we use 35 times as much energy as an input as we get as an output.

Somebody give him a sound reply, explain to him that the Biosphere is not a company, if it were, operating at such a huge negative margin wheat would cost ten times as much not to mention the fact that it would quickly go bankrupt.

WI – “We’ll be using more energy to get the oil out than we’ll get energy from the oil we get out. Which, self-evidently, is nonsense…”.

Maybe I’ve tried to be too technical to explain why EROEI can’t get too low. One more time very simply: A well costs $X to drill. Only a small portion is the energy (typically diesel) used…around 8%. Add another 10% or so for the energy used to produce the other expendable materials. So if a well won’t produce at least $X of oil/NG plus some profit then economic analysis will kill the project long before the EROEI will. If recovering $X of energy won’t get a well drilled then obviously recovering less than 20% of that energy won’t get ‘er done. And folks shouldn't throw the embedded energy into the mix: it has already been spent and doesn’t enter the go forward equation.

Again why the oil patch has never used, and will never use, EROEI to make drilling decisions. The project’s economics will kill the deal long before EROEI will.

Perhaps he is thinking that "The Captain Kirk" will drill that oil for all of us for free using "star-trek technology"


I think people have read various reports and they get flustered when you don't respond with the same terminology. You've explained in perfectly but they keep wanting you to flip to using their terminology.

You: The temperature is 79F

Me: WTF does that mean? What is it in Centigrade?

You: Whatever 79F is in Centigrade.

Me: Don't understand fail temperature, thats what the 'F' means right?

You: ???

Me: No profit.

Rockman is doing a pretty good job of explaining, in layman's terms, some rather esoteric concepts. Oil and gas economics is not really rocket science, but it's getting there.

Anyhow, the basic idea is that if the EROEI is too low, the economics on drilling a well will not work out either, and the industry will not do it.

A simple analogy would be to imagine that you have a slave in a hot humid country and you get him to carry a bucket to a distant well and fill it up with water and bring it back to his master, because of the heat and humidity he will sweat and need to drink lots of water while carrying out this task or he will die!

The further away the well is, the less water in the bucket for the master after each trip.

How far away must the well be, before he uses the entire contents of the bucket to quench his thirst!

Get two buckets! Place one bucket partway between the well and the master. Use the other bucket to go to the well and return partway several times until the first bucket is full. Carry the full first bucket back the shorter distance to the 'master'

Work at night, so water consumption is lower.

Also, get a longer stick.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Nah! Just walk to the well with the bucket and don't bother going back until the master dies of thirst...

Subcontract the work.

This is actually how the conceptof entropy was first discovered. But with coal:

You have a source of coal, and with it you can run a train. You can use a coal powered steam train to haul coal to a depot far away from the coal mine. From there, trains can move around even further. We could imagine those train moving coal yet longer distances to establish more coal storage facilities and thus expand the network.

Question: How far can the railroad network be extended from one source of coal before it gets to expensive?

In one of the books by Terry Prattchet, the people on the other side of the dessert felt protected by the vast empty place; no one could move an army across it. So when they were invded from the dessert they were taken by surprice. The invaders had worked silently for a long time, building up water supply stations along the way for the one over. They had to take the long way home.

Has a single industry insider on this website ever mentioned the value of EROEI when determining which projects go ahead? Ever? Just once? Or, as they have said (which I have noticed) that instead it is an economic calculation based on NPV? In which case, EROEI is irrelevant, and any effort involved in discussing it, worrying about it, or thinking about it is wasted effort?

EROIE is useful where government subsidies are involved/proposed, such as corn ethanol.

In what way? If I can make a profit from creating corn ethanol, I will do it, regardless of how low EROEI might be. If I cannot make a profit, I will not do it, regardless of how high EROEI might be.

And to the extent that profitability is decoupled from EROEI, the economic system is broken.

An axiom!

I'll hazard a guess here, perhaps others can correct me. EROEI is only a theoretical concept, it's not that it has no use, just that it's not easy to calculate it if you are talking about all the energy. If you are just talking about calorific value, it very easy to calculate sure. When someone says it takes $xyz to develop this reserve of which only a fraction is the price of diesel/gasoline used for the project does that mean that EROEI is high ? No. It takes energy to move man and materials, provide them shelter, security, bringing in safety equipment, providing them a salary, buying computers etc. Even marketing, hiring a lawyer to take care of all those regulation takes some amount of energy. Can that be calculated ? No

For that reason it's much easier to calculate in terms of Dollars in and Dollars out. Maybe a better term would be EROCI (Energy returned on complexity invested) but then again you can't measure complexity can you.
Same reason why many projects turn out to be such disasters for local governments and communities, as hidden costs cannot be accounted for in the initial contract.

EROEI is a component of the NPV equation...albeit not explicitly stated, but embedded in the inputs to the calculation nonetheless.

The fact that the NPV calculations are calculated in the high0-level but very useful abstraction of units of currency does not nullify the fact of EROEI.

Entropy underlies EROEI.

All this does not equate to us driving off the FF energy cliff tomorrow, or next year, or even 10 years from now...but the arrow of irreversibility is clear and unstoppable.

EROEI is irrelevant, and any effort involved in discussing it, worrying about it, or thinking about it is wasted effort?

EROEI is relevant to life. Any critter requires a certain degree of foraging success to continue surviving. The human global economy doesn't look much like foraging behavior, because we haven't hit the limits of the fossil fuel motherload. However, the limits will be hit, and the global population of humans will stairstep down unevenly. Since the size, timing, and character of those "stairsteps" will determine the nature of human existence for many generations to come, it may bear thinking about.

Rockman and other industry professionals point out that it's about cashflow, and indeed it is from their perspective. That's how this culture currently solves the problem of what to pursue, based on our current evolved systems and an aggregate high cultural discount rate of the future.

But EROEI considerations are all around us, all the time, we've just learned to ignore them. A polar bear swimming long distances between dwindling ice floes isn't thinking about EROEI per se, he's thinking he's weak and hungry and needs to eat soon, and perhaps thinking bear-like thoughts of how much it sucks to have to swim so far to find food.

Cashflow maximization is an imperfect perceptual modality for a species, but we'll use it until we don't. It doesn't mean the real world, and the fundamental limits represented imperfectly by EROEI, aren't still out there.

I don't see the problem here; the economics will kill the well long before EROI does it, BECAUSE EROI is to high. Man hours matters to, you see.

That article is a just a crap article that is unable to make a coherent point.

The amount of completely free sunlight doesn't matter for oil. The ERORI of sunlight is infinity! And it completely has nothing to do with the declining EROEI of oil.

His premise doesn't even make sense. The declining EROEI of oil doesn't mean peak oil is inevitable, it is merely a piece of evidence that points toward it.

Peak Oil is inevitable based on the simple, fundamental truth that the Earth's volume is finite, and that the amount of oil trapped within certain formations in the Earth is also finite, and that this amount of oil (and NG and coal etc) is ///much/// <<<<< less than the total volume of the Earth.

Add to that the truism that man extracts the easiest to get to, most concentrated resources first, then chews through lower quality, 'tighter', deeper, more remotely located, and smaller-sized formations next, naturally leads to the fact of declining EROEI.

Declining EROEI is a fundamental reason why extraction costs increase over time, and these monetary costs feed into NPV.

Now, we can play games with our already fiat currencies and marshal incredible resources to do things like mine kerogen-containing Marl rock, bake it, spin it in centrifuges, or undertake in-situ freeze wall & heating concepts, but no amount of monetary inflation will break the final barrier of needing one unit of energy (expressed however you wish) input to extract the same unit of energy as output. Before that point i s reached, humans will be done extracting FFs from the Earth.

Some folks every once in a while cite that some country (Latvia? Estonia?) extracts and burns some type of 'oil shale' for heat and power, but I don't expect most intelligent people to see that as out path to energy abundance and economic prosperity.

We are well past time to plan seriously for how to order society to function acceptable (we need to define all those terms and criteria) in a declining FF World.

The amount of completely free sunlight doesn't matter for oil. The ERORI of sunlight is infinity!

I disagree. The sun pumps out 64 million watts per square meter. The earth receives some 1000 watts/square meter (for only a portion of the day, whereas the sun is always blasting out the energy 24/7).

The EROEI of this particular system just plain sucks. Closer to zero than infinity.

What are you talking about? The EI in the Sun is zero, The investment is in the apparatus for gathering the energy.

I am perhaps calculating more of a energy in versus energy out calculation then. This EROEI thing has always confused me, going all the way back to Hall and Cleveland (1981).

I covered EROEI briefly at ASPO. Here is a summary of two of my slides:

Thinking about EROEI
The concept of energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must be used cautiously
Definitions: EROEI = usable energy output/energy consumed
Net energy = energy output – energy consumed
Global EROEI is declining
The good news is, as EROEI declines, more people will be needed to create energy
The bad news is… (followed by a slide graphing EROEI by gross energy required to produce 85 million bpd to society)

Then the caveats:

A process could have a poor EROEI and be economical (but not sustainable)
There is no time component in EROEI; If one process is 2/1 and one is 10/1 – what is the turnover time? -- Should be standardized to annual basis
Biomass inputs are frequently omitted -- Sugarcane ethanol not really 8/1; that is output/fossil fuel input
Inputs and consumed energy often conflated -- This mistake is the source of EROEI of 0.8 for gasoline and 1.5 for ethanol

You seem to be verifying that EROEI isn't much of a metric in an economic system, an impression I've gotten from other industry people around here. Is your talk going to be linked to somewhere?

Bruce, that is fairly accurate. I have come to view it as far more a measure of sustainability: The worse the EROEI, the worse the sustainability.

But take corn ethanol. The EROEI even by the best measure is not good. But you are taking very cheap BTUs -- natural gas -- and converting them into something which sells for a lot more per BTU. By that metric (and ignoring the market distortions of subsidies and mandates) the EROEI doesn't even have to be above 1 in order to be economical.

The talks were all videotaped and are supposed to be available on the ASPO website "within weeks." I may post my slides before then.

And this is why I always say that if the EROEI is in the toilet, but it's still "economical" to produce whatever, it is merely evidence that the economic system is broken. Subsidies, externalities, time lags in markets, you name it. Profitable today is not sustainable tomorrow. This is the Achilles' Heel of latter day capitalism. The planning horizons are just absurdly short.

EROEI isn't much of a metric in an economic system

This EROEI thing has always confused me, going all the way back to Hall

Bruce, the economic system thing has always confused me, going all the way back to Adam Smith.

With (Eout-Ein)/(Ein), at least we are dealing with real physical things, albeit the boundaries of the system are arbitrary.

With (Money.out - Money.in)/(Money.in), we are dealing entirely with a fantasy measure.

I know that this Money thing "feels" real.
It feels real to me just as much as it does for you.
After all, when I walk into the supermarket and I want to obtain some of that real food stuff, I need to have the money stuff.
Not having the money stuff has real consequences "in" our society.
Not having ERoEI greater than 1 (>> unity) WILL have real consequences "on" our society.

From link above:

"There is no such thing as peak oil until we've had peak technology," said Rippeon, who wrote his master's thesis on the U.S. petroleum reserve.

In other words, you can deplete an oil reservoir as much as you want, but as long as technology evolves, you will always be able to increase the flow rate, even when depletion reaches 99%. How does Rippeon square this with the 75% production decline in Prudhoe Bay for example?

And the we have this:

"There is more petroleum than ever before."

Any normally developed five year old understands that the number of cookies in a jar is reduced as you extract and eat them. According to Rippeon, this fact does not apply to finite resources like petroleum.

Hope he didn't get a A on the thesis.

"...the number of cookies in a jar..."

<100-proof sarcanol> It's a trick question with the answer depending on the subtle nuances of the Clintonian meaning of the phrase "in a jar". If some of the cookies are jammed out of reach down at the bottom of the jar, then as a practical matter for said five year old, they are as good as nonexistent. If Mom then comes along and dislodges a few with "new technology" - let's say the handle of a long wooden spoon - then as a practical matter for said five year old, it is as if a fresh supply of cookies has appeared magically. </100-proof sarcanol>

Which implies in turn that as a practical matter in discussing these issues - except of course when preaching to the choir - it's not enough merely to assert that no more kinds of wooden spoon handles will ever again be invented. After several centuries of continual invention of new kinds of wooden spoon handles, such predictions will utterly lack credibility. After all, while "past performance doesn't guarantee future performance", if it weren't a darned good guide much of the time, then, for example, education, training, and skills would all become largely useless.

Alas, these considerations inevitably draw us into the realm of conversations more subtle than simply "doom is nigh because the supply is finite, Q.E.D." This is something of a problem since present-day politics seems to be anything but subtle, but such is life. Really, who said everything would be easy?

Any normally developed five year old understands that the number of cookies in a jar is reduced as you extract and eat them. According to Rippeon, this fact does not apply to finite resources like petroleum.

Agreed. But that isn't how peak oil is done, in the cookie world. It goes more like this.

A five year old adds up all the cookies he likes. Sugar cookies. He does not include all the cookies he does not like. After all, chocolate chip cookies are nothing like sugar cookies. When he has eaten half the sugar cookies known to him, he declares peak cookie! He hypothesizes that the world will end, for lack of his favorite cookie.The price of them will skyrocket, as other like minded cookie loving children demand that their parents horde them. He envisions fights breaking out among parents as they scramble for the last remaining sugar cookies! This child commissions studies showing that even though the same cookie dough is used for both types of cookies, the investment of chocolate chips into the chocolate chip cookies will make them untenable as a replacement for sugar cookies. He organizes group protests to demand sugar cookie conservation, berates political leaders to accept responsibility for this horrifying potential lack of sugar cookies, fights to convince his friends in kindergarten to conserve, learn to do without, lower their worldly expectations because obviously they cannot succeed, BAU cannot continue without these critical cookies.

And one day, spittle flying from his mouth at the effort he is putting into convincing his classmates of the severity of the situation, stunned by the blank and unconcerned stares coming back at him from his fellow kindergarteners, he realizes....they are all chewing chocolate chip cookies.

You should submit this to Forbes.

And one day, spittle flying from his mouth at the effort he is putting into convincing his classmates of the severity of the situation, stunned by the blank and unconcerned stares coming back at him from his fellow kindergarteners, he realizes....they are all chewing chocolate chip cookies.

Unfortunately both the sugar cookies and the chocolate chip cookies are equally bad for the kindergarteners teeth and overall health. Chocolate chip cookie substitutes are just another futile attempt at maintaining the status quo and BAU. Even if it can be done for a while longer, we should by now be coming to terms with the simple fact that we can't continue with the current paradigm. It's time to give up the addiction of a cookie diet and try a sugar free, fruits and vegetable based, alternative instead!

The spoiled fat little kindergarteners who can't live without their sugar fix need a good paddling and should be sent to their rooms without dinner!


Windmills everywhere, PVs mandated on every rooftop and a Volt in every garage, and lets stop worrying about who likes what cookies, lets just stop eating them already!

Unfortunately both the sugar cookies and the chocolate chip cookies are equally bad for the kindergarteners teeth and overall health.

Not so.

One needs the various chemical compounds from the coco plant.

The coco bits displace the harmful sugar and wheat, there the chocolate chip cookie is better.

One needs the various chemical compounds from the coco plant.

The coco bits displace the harmful sugar and wheat, there the chocolate chip cookie is better.

I'm hoping that was an attempt at humor.

If you are trying to compare your typical junk food, industrially produced, chocolate chip cookie to a piece of high quality chocolate, then may I suggest you check the ingredients that go into your typical chocolate chip cookie.

Here's a link:

I wouldn't want my kids eating that!

I thought that the original concept/definition of "Peak oil" had to do with:

That the _rate_ of conventional oil produced (made available for consumption) reaches a maxima, and that from the moment/plateau/time the amount produced would go into decline.

The discussions on drumbeats get into reserves (cookie jar), costs, EROEI, govt, ethics, day trading, futures, options, and on and on.

But if I am remembering correctly, the original concept is what I mentioned above.

"There is more petroleum than ever before."

What he's probably trying to say is the flow of oil is greater now than at any time before. All oils true, however crude has peaked and all the other oils combined will not save our arses when crude descends from its current plateau.

This has to do with the ability or inability to see what is, and extrapolate what is coming down the line. If certain people cannot understand the dynamics that have led to triple digit priced oil, then they can also not see what is coming. Don't worry we'll leave plenty of deck chairs out for them to listen to the last few songs of the band.

What he's probably trying to say is the flow of oil is greater now than at any time before.

Yes, maybe that's what he was trying to say but this is exactly what you would expect when you reach peak oil (Peak Oil = Maximum Production).

You cannot argue that peak oil will not happen, or will happen far in the future, just because today's extraction rate is at a historical high.

Frugal – Your post got me thinking about that old line: “Wouldn’t you know it…I found it in the last place I looked”. Of course I did…why would I look in another place once I found it? Of course we should expect oil to be at max historical rates before it peaks: oil gets scarce and the price goes up…the price go up and we look in those previous places too expensive places to look…and we find more oil that we produces as fast as possible.

Just look at the US peak. As I recall our production increased to historical high right before the big decline began. Of course, above ground factors, such as a severe recession, might alter this relationship.

And why exactly did we decline? We looked in every spot we could afford. We're finding oil now because the price is right. We've increased production but are we back above our historical high? No.

And why exactly did we decline? We looked in every spot we could afford.

As simple as this concept would appear, most people have a huge problem understanding it. I guess because we've seen continually increasing world oil production for the last 150 years, this becomes a fundamental law. How can production ever decrease when it has always been going up?

I remember arguing the same principles (to no avail) during the height of the dot.com and US housing bubbles. Right now I'm arguing the same thing with respect to the current Canadian and Australian housing bubbles -- also to no avail. I haven't completely given up, but I don't expect friends and aquaintances to agree with me on concepts that to me seem obvious.

Frugal - And there's a simple reason you probably understand all to well: how many $millions will you make pitching your expectations? And how many $millions will the folks arguing against you make?

The race isn't always to the swift nor the battle to the strong..but that's how the smart money bets. Sorry buddyy...I ain't bettin' on you. LOL.

how many $millions will you make pitching your expectations?

You're right on that count. I haven't made a penny pitching any of my predictions.

The one I'm most proud of though was my 1983 prediction that the Berlin Wall/Iron Curtain would come down. I remember arguing with someone (ultra-conservative) until I was blue in the face that this was just a matter of time.

Strangely, I'm always caught off guard when one of my predictions eventually does come true (this can't be happening). I have to admit that my timing is usually off by several years. In case of the Berlin Wall, it happened sooner than I expected, while the dot.com bubble popped three years after I told people in 1997 that it should happen any time now.

So if I make a prediction about when peak oil will happen, I'll probably be off by several years.

So much financial and economic bullsh*t is created by adding complexity to the topic until people lose track of the basics. I find the most effective arguments about FF depletion are usually the simplest ones.

"If you keep eating cookies then the cookie jar eventually runs out. People publish lots of highly-respected data saying this won't happen. But it's still going to happen anyway."

I'm sure this is a (sick) joke - but just to clarify ... that 2 Trillion dollars of unaccounted 'lost' expenditure anounced by the Pentagon the day before 9/11 might well have something to do with it.
You can't call following current affairs a 'prediction' ... we in the West worked bloody hard to bring about the fall of the Berlin wall.
It was the french monitoring child mortality in the eastern block who first recognised the policy had worked.

Now don't we feel proud.

Frugal - "I'm always caught off guard when one of my predictions eventually does come true". You sound like a lot of exploration geologists I know.

Of course, that doesn't include westexas.

For the average schmoe, I think the main barrier to understanding is not being aware of the big picture. My friends are pretty smart and have a pretty good handle their own personal finances. And most of them have a general understanding of the finances of the company they work for.

But they couldn't tell you within an order of magnitude what our state budget is. As far as national finances, maybe one guy out of my whole crowd could tell you anything about things like GDP or national debt. And even he isn't real clear on where all that money comes from and where it goes. So when they hear about our $13 trillion national debt or $100/barrel oil it doesn't mean much because they have no frame around that picture.

With that as a background, it's not too surprising that most folks just scratch their heads and shrug. If they think about national finances at all, they mostly just regard it as a force of nature.

Yup -- just like the truism that empires collapse just as they reach their peak of power and complexity :-)

RA - Good point. I'm not much of a historian so I wonder if any TODster has examples of slow declines as opposed to catastrophic collapses.

Actually...Greer makes the argument that all collapses were actually slow, not catastrophic. It only looks sudden from the viewpoint of history.

Even Easter Island, probably the fastest collapse, seemed to take place over several generations - 50 years or more.

Thanks Leanan. I should have asked for some time concept of fast vs. slow collapse. Some events were incredibly fast: the rise and fall of Nazi Germany is a good example. OTOH England isn't some 3rd world heap today but they were once THE super power that ruled the seas...long ago. Even PO for the US could be viewed as a rather slow process that started about 40 years ago. Add another 20 or 30 years for the worst to kick in and you easily have you Easter Island time frame. I don't recall many folks worrying about PO in 1986 when prices dropped to $10/bbl. But 1986 was no less one of the stepping stones on our PO path. Perhaps it's like that sad old joke about the difference between a recession and a depression: who lost their job. How fast will our decline be? Depends on if you're one of the first victems or one of the last. Or maybe one of the few who avoids the worst of the worst.

We also have my personal favorite; the Minoan culture, who experienced a pirate attack, followed by a vulcano wich was assosiated with an earth quake, tsunami and pyroplastic flow. Those guys went down FAST.

Those guys went down FAST.

Actually, they didn't. They are exhibit A in Tainter's book, and Greer's work as well. The Minoans were not done in by earthquakes or tsunamis. There were some dating errors in the past that made it seem so, but further research showed that their society actually survived for some time after the eruption that supposedly did them in.

This is one of Tainter's main ideas: that environmental disasters don't destroy civilizations unless they were already in decline for other reasons.

One very well known is the Roman Empire. Took a milennia to go down.

You cannot argue that peak oil will not happen, or will happen far in the future, just because today's extraction rate is at a historical high.

True, but for some (not myself) that is the illusion they want to hold on to.

"There is no such thing as peak oil until

It irks me to no end when people deny the existence of peak oil. There is only 1 fact that you have to believe in order to know that peak oil is real: Oil is finite. Once you have established that oil is finite, peak oil is a logical inevitability. It is just then a discussion about timing. (Which is an extremely difficult argument.)

The only people that should ever say that 'peak oil is a myth' or such are the flat-Earth abiotic oil nuts.

This is what comes to my mind when reading these comments: "What if someone or a group announces the achievement of sustainable fusion power, so much so that we can reverse mine CO2 from the atmosphere to make hydrocarbon fuel (with water). This then begins a planet-wide CO2 recycling effort if the stuff is then burned again as transport fuel, and helps to stall or perhaps even reverse (if kept from going back into the atmosphere) the effects of greenhouse gases on global warming and climate change. It would also allow the complete synthesis of the petrochemicals with a little nitrogen and other elements thrown in. Is modern human civilization saved?"

Yes. And the good news is that it can be done using fission power.


Which of the numerous potential 'Generation IV' (or more advanced?) fission technologies do you advocate (perhaps you advocate more than one fission architecture?).

Also, if you have the time and inclination, would you describe your preferred approach for dealing with the issue of spent fuel disposal, security against human malice, and safety features mitigating against natural disasters and potential poor workmanship, excessively long preventive maintenance intervals, etc?

I am also curious to know your estimate of how many of these plants are required (U.S., World), how long it will take to build these out, how long the plants will last, how they are to be disposed of, what dependencies on FFs and other resources are required, and how much this might cost?

Please do not take my queries as criticisms...they are honest questions.

For this purpose (fuel synthesis) you'd need efficient electrolysis, so a high temperature nuclear breeder reactor would be preferable. For other purposes, the LFTR looks good on paper, but I don't know if it is optimal here.

describe your preferred approach for dealing with the issue of spent fuel disposal

Reprocessing and transmutation. All heavy isotopes should be burned. Perhaps there is some fission product that has a long life and isn't suitable for transmutation (Zr-93 comes to mind), then long-term geological storage is ok.

security against human malice

Fortunately, radioactive material is somewhat self-protecting and very easy to trace. Nuclear plant security should be like flight security. Also, of course, the plants themselves should be hard to sabotage and easy to rescue.

and safety features mitigating against natural disasters and potential poor workmanship

Well, there is a lot already regarding redundant safety systems, and there are some lessons to learn the Fukushima disaster, for instance when it comes to generator robustness and placement. Other than that, passive safety is always preferred. Cooling that relies on gravity and convection is nice.

excessively long preventive maintenance intervals, etc

Well, that is one design parameter.

I am also curious to know your estimate of how many of these plants are required (U.S., World)

Currently, a human in sane developed countries draws about 5 KW primary power. If you run small 500 MW(th) LFTR reactors, you'd need one reactor per 100,000 people to cover that. If you run behemoth 5 GW(th) reactors, you need one per 1 million people. So, for 10 billion humans, I'd recommend 10K-100K reactors, up from today's 430 or so. Some energy will be lost in fuel synthesis and CO2-scrubbing, so we might want to add 50%, so let's say 15K-150K.

how long it will take to build these out

Let's disregard economies of scale and say a reactor costs $9/W(e) or $3/W(th). Since a developed-country human needs 5 KW(th), he needs to invest $3*5000 = $15,000 to be supplied with nuclear energy. Since he commands a GDP per capita of $30,000, a war-time mobilization of 10% of GDP would make this happen in $15,000/($30,000*10%) = 5 years. Then you need to add a ramping phase, of course, since there'll be lots of bottlenecks.

It would be far more reasonable to build this in the pace needed for replacement later. Let's say we have a plant life of 50 years. Then we'd need to build 2% per year and be fully supplied in 50 years and then just keep on at the same pace to replace the oldest stuff. Then we'd need an investment of $15,000*2% = $300 per capita and year. That would yield the US $300*300e6 = $90 billion per year or some 15-20 reactors per year. This corresponds to 0.6% of US GDP.

Again, we could add 50% for some additional energy for fuel synthesis losses and CO2-scrubbing.

how long the plants will last

See above.

how they are to be disposed of

Most parts should be washed and recycled. Some parts whose materials have been heavily irradiated and become radioactive themselves should be put in landfills until they have "cooled off" sufficiently for recycling.

what dependencies on FFs and other resources are required, and how much this might cost?

The FF dependency is the same as for the economy as a whole. In the less agressive plan, you'd replace 2% fossils per year, so after 25 years, the FF dependency would be halved.


Have you written a treatise expanding on your ideas posted here in more detail?

The devils are in the details...I think your cost estimate of $90B/year to build 15-20 reactors is pretty optimistic.


No, I have not.

I think $90B/year for 15-20 reactors is very reasonable, conservative even, but I don't think that it matters much either way. The US can take a higher cost, and in the rest of the world it will be cheaper than in the US.

For instance, the Chinese claims $2/W for current projects and aims for $1/W. They'll soon be exporting reactors, and I guess they'll be happy to build it for you with Chinese labour on site too, and then run it with Chinese personnel. A South Korean consortium sold 4 APR-1400 to UAE for $20 billion.

Link or peer review please ?

I'm talking about the Los Alamos Green Freedom concept.

I read this Los Alamos paper and it is very thin on details.

The authors posit that a 'Gen III' nuclear fission plant could provide heat and electricity for a plant to extract CO2 from the air and produce 18,400 bbl/day of synthetic gasoline and 5,000 tonnes of methanol/day.

I am too lazy right now to do the math, but anyone reading can calculate how many of these Gen III fission power plants/synthetic gasoline and methanol plants would need to be built to satisfy current World liquid fuel consumption.

The authors estimate that one of these plants would cost $5B USD...and that 50% of this capital cost would be for the fission reactor. How many fission reactors can be built today for $2.5B USD?

The authors go on to estimate that the synthetic gasoline from their plant would have to sell for ~$4.60/gallon in order to cover costs and make a half-buck or buck profit per gallon, and that the methanol would have to cost $1.65/gallon at the plants' shipping dock.

They then go on to say that with some fairly straightforward optimizations from their base case design, the price of the synthetic gasoline would be ~ $3.40/gallon, and the methanol price at the plant gate would be ~$1.65/gallon. BTW, the authors state that they can easily modify their baseline plant to produce Diesel, jet fuel, etc.

If all this was so straightforward and easy as the authors seem to think, why hasn't the market run away with this idea and freed humanity from the tyranny of drilling and digging for liquid fossil ancient sunshine?

By the by, has anyone done the calculation on how much fuel production per year can be supported by the Carbon in the atmosphere? Even with the extracted CO2 being burned in ICE engines and going back into the air as CO2, any impacts on atmospheric chemistry, plant growth, Earth's atmospheric heat balance?

Once we know how many plants are required for World-wide liquid fuel needs, then we can also calculate how many other resources are required for the necessary catalysts etc...and see if there are any rate-limiting resources.

Color me skeptical.

The US would need about 500 for gasoline. That would be 2.5 trillion dollars. A lot cheaper than the Iraq war. And it pays for itself over time, unlike the Iraq war.

Hmmm...~4 years worth of the U.S. DoD budget (not counting the NNSA, CIA, NSA, DHS, other stuff in the MIC.

build rate...if we could build one a month...that is 12 per year...40-some years...

I remain skeptical of the estimated build costs, environmental safety, security, spent fuel concept of operations, operating costs, etc.

Again, if this route is so do-able, then why hasn't it been pursued?

too many unknown details...

Because if the government paid for them they would be owned by the people and the owning class would not make any money off the deal.

More likely the government would pay private contractors who would build and operate them and pay the government back with sweetheart terms, and make a tidy profit in the deal.

And likely there are a dozen things that would make this enterprise much more expensive than folks are predicting on this list.

500 reactors.

And when the next big asteroid hits the Earth - does humanity need the additional burden of 100 of those reactors releasing the toxins into the already mangled biosphere?

(Ignoring Man's willingness to attack Man and the use of these reactors as a way to mass-kill the enemy.)

Why on earth would you use electricity to generate gasoline ? that's like touching your ears with your feet. Anyways I read somewhere that with current technology, uranium would run out in ten years if all our energy came from fission. That is assuming that we can run everything on electricity in the first place.

You hear a lot of things about the U supply. Current reactors use maybe 1% of the fissile material, the rest is discarded as N-waste. So their is pressure for reproccessing. Also there is a lot of U in the crust and iddsoved in the ocean, based upon EROEI arguments much of this would be available, the current price is much much lower than the theoretical value of the energy content.

About the electricity into gasoline thing. That could mean two things:
(1) Refineries consume significant amounts of natural gas and electricity as well as oil.
(2) It is possible to combine CO2 and water and energy to make hydrocarbons. The navy would like to do it to supply jet fuel for aircraft carriers, which would allow them to (mostly) cut the fuel supply logitics cord. These ships are N-powered, so they figure they got the electricty. I know a guy pushing a concept, as using stranded renewables (when wind, or hydro, or sun produce more power than the grid can take), then the marginal cost is free (or even negative), and converting that energy into something storable makes sense. Of course such free "stranded" power is only going to be available part time (otherwise noone would have built it), so the capital equipment for doing electricity to liguid fuel will go sitting for long periods waiting for the next episode of free juice to be available. I imagine that messes with the economics.

If the "solution" is fission power for Humanity - what about places such as Iran, North Korea? Do they get the same consideration as the rest of Humanity?

Fission power is one of the solutions and no, everybody should not have access to all tools including ones that can be used to blow up neighbours.

I think it's great that Iran aquires nuclear power. However, I would rather they not did reprocessing, enrichment and warheads. OTOH, it seems rogue nations do nuclear weapons quite independently from civilian nuclear power. They use small military reactors, typically with the power of a wind turbine or two, to produce plutonium. Or, in the case of Iran, does enrichment without a running reactor.

Btw, Iran's mullah rule won't last for very long.

The math is pretty easy. A thousand of these puppies would match current US consumption. So write out a check for $5T. Not out of reach, but it would require a very committed population -they'd have to give up $5T of something else to build them. That assumes there isn't some scalability issues either!

Give up something? Just print the 5 trillion. We are already printing 1.5 trillion per year what's another 5 trillion.

I read this Los Alamos paper and it is very thin on details.

Sure, but there are references in it.

If all this was so straightforward and easy as the authors seem to think, why hasn't the market run away with this idea and freed humanity from the tyranny of drilling and digging for liquid fossil ancient sunshine?

It seems gasoline prices does not meet targets yet, and with the capital intensity of this project, there are considerable risks involved. Also, you should expect some R&D costs to make this fly, and other first-of-a-kind costs regarding licensing and stuff. I don't expect private firms touching this with a ten-foot pole, actually. Coal-to-liquids and oil sands are much more likely as market solutions to high oil prices. For Green Freedom to take off, a government needs to put in resources and guarantees, or put high carbon taxes in place. I don't see it happening, at least not in the US.

It would have been proper for the authors to describe their assumptions and limitation more thoroughly, and enumerate these R&D investment costs.

As it stands, the paper is pretty 'blue-sky' in nature.

Forgive me, I have written contract proposals with government agencies, and was looking for a lot more meat on them there bones.

Wow, have you really written contract proposals with government agencies? Then I guess you are fully qualified to dismiss anything written that isn't up to such standards, regardless of the pieces' respective purposes and target audiences. Or, again, you could read the references...

I will read them when the authors write a more thorough paper.

They have, or at least one of them has. Look among the references!

You say the thing exists, but can't be bothered to link to it.

Do you have a reason for such behavior?

Ask Heisenberg about his behaviour first, and then we can talk.

I get a kick out of them stealing the "green" teams slogan. :P

Yes, such good news in Fukushima.

Is modern human civilization saved?"

No, but the inevitable other limits will be postponed.

Unless zero population growth is obtained, and realistically, unless population is reduced from $7B+ to at least half that (probably one-quarter) and stabilized there, humanity will run into other limits.

See: Fecundity Unlimited, short non-fiction article by Issac Asimov.

Also see: Trantor, Imperial home-world of humanity from the Foundation series of novels by Asimov.

I'm guessing phosphate rock will be the next limit, unless energy shocks undo our civilization first. My old geochemistry professor once remarked to our undergraduate class that "with enough energy (he was thinking fusion at the time, but was a big geothermal advocate) we could mine granite rock for its accessory apatite (igneous calcium phosphate mineral). I couldn't help but wonder at that time (circa 1970) what kind of a world that would be to live in, yet we're almost there.

Thanks for the article tip.


Unfortunately, 'Fecundity Unlimited' is very hard to find on the Internet...Asimov's estate is doing a good job protecting his works.

I read it in a paperback book of Asimov's short articles.

In sum he made some rather generous assumptions, and calculated that even at a rather low rate of population increase, if unconstrained by realities of technology etc, every Carbon atom in the Universe would be converted to human flesh by ~ C.E. 11,000. Even if one assumed that every atom and every element could be converted to human flesh, and you hand-waved away any need for food, oxygen to breathe, shelter, warmth, etc, the year that every atom of every kind being incorporated into human flesh wouldn't be much further...CE 30,000 maybe?

It was Asimov's way of demonstrating that anything above Zero population growth is ultimately unsustainable, in a remarkably short time in the future...remember that the Universe (our Universe, anyway, if there is indeed a Multi-verse) is ~ 13.6? Billion years old.

Naturally, 9-20,00 years to fill our Universe means that a continued fraction of a percent population growth rate would utterly overwhelm the Earth in a much shorter time...if we had a 'Mr. Fusion', maybe we could get by for another couple of hundred years...likely wouldn't be many other species left though...Earth may resemble Asimov's Trantor, basically a Earth-sized 'Death Star' encased in metal structure ~ a mile high, all food and air manufactured, the original biosphere eradicated.

Of course there is the issue of waste heat being ejected into the Earth's atmosphere...another constraint.

For those who say 'Space colonization is the answer', even given light-speed travel and a sub-1% population growth rate and a bunch of other magic, humanity fills the Universe in ~9,000 years...a blink of the eye of thee Universe.

Of course, unlimited growth isn't possible with real constraints...three outcomes are possible:

1. Population booms and busts cyclically until the species goes extinct.

2. Humanity rather quickly expands itself into extinction...balloons until it drives off a cliff.

3. Humanity achieve zero population growth...not saying that humanity would not go extinct eventually anyway...but perhaps the folks who live until that time would be more in balance with their environment and more fulfilled, happy, etc.

Fooled once again by the exponential function.

On the assumption of every atom of carbon being incorporated into human flesh at 11,000CE, population might be doubling somewhere around twice or maybe three times a century. If the cosmic abundance of carbon is on the order of 0.5% by mass as in the Milky Way, then one would need about 8 additional doublings to transmute and incorporate all the normal matter as opposed to just the carbon, that is, it would happen at around 11,500 to 11,800 CE rather than at 30,000 CE. Even if the 0.5% guess is off by a factor of 10, it doesn't change the result all that much. Such is the power and nature of the exponential function.

The politically incorrect corollary, by the way, is that unless population growth stops fairly soon, nothing else matters.

The politically incorrect corollary, by the way, is that unless population growth stops fairly soon, nothing else matters.

A meta-corollary (if I may) is that if nothing else (but us) is allowed to matter, then population growth will stop fairly soon also...

I have lost track of the book with Asimov's article. Perhaps he stipulated that all atoms in the Universe could be magically transmuted any way we want and came up with ~ 11,000 CE in that fashion.

His point was...11,000 or 30,000 CE...same diff, in that either of these numbers are trivial times in relation to the age of the Earth or the Universe. His point was to demonstrate the speed of population growth and resource use governed by the exponential function.

I will cite his article to anyone who continues to bring up the 'oh, we will just colonize space' idea as their magical escape from humanity's predicaments.

The politically incorrect corollary, by the way, is that unless population growth stops fairly soon, nothing else matters.

It is time to wake up to the fact that population growth stopped being exponential some 50 years ago. Since 1970, i.e. for the last 40 years it has been linear (about the same number added each year). The nominal growth peaked in 1989 and has since fallen (i.e. is sub-linear).

It is time to wake up to the fact that population growth stopped being exponential some 50 years ago. Since 1970, i.e. for the last 40 years it has been linear (about the same number added each year).

What practical difference does it make if population growth is no longer exponential? Obviously all exponential growth must end at some point on a finite planet. Human population is no exception. However we are still experiencing a net gain of about 80 million new mouths to feed every year. What makes you think that this isn't still a very serious problem? Do you believe this is sustainable?

The reality is that we are in deep ecological overshoot and we are at or near multiple tipping points. Population growth is one of the major underlying causes of this situation.

What practical difference does it make if population growth is no longer exponential?

That we grow by 80 million per year instead of 140 million. That we don't have to talk about exponential population growth as if it existed.

However we are still experiencing a net gain of about 80 million new mouths to feed every year. What makes you think that this isn't still a very serious problem? Do you believe this is sustainable?

80 million and set to shrink, which makes it sustainable, yes. We can handle 10 billion.

We can handle 10 billion.

For as long as we have phosfor for the fertilizers. Wich we dig out of open cast mines today. Does NOT seem like a long term solution to me.

AFAIK, we can find lots more and have thousands of years before we need worry. Also, in spite of global population increasing rapidly, phosphorus use has been quite still since the 70-ies, so we seem to be using it more efficiently.

We can handle 10 billion.

No, we absolutely can not!


The facts about the coming catastrophe are so obvious. Our planet's natural resources can reasonably support about 5 billion people but we have 7 billion today - 2 billion too many. We're consuming commodities and natural resources at a rate of 1.5 Earths, according to estimates by the Global Footprint Network of scientists and economists. Around 2050 we'll be 10 billion, according to the UN demographers. That's two times the 5 billion the Earth can reasonably support. Those 10 billion people will demand lifestyle improvements. That increases their consumption of scarce resources by 300% per person. Bottom line: 10 billion people will be consuming the equivalent of six Earths.

You'll see.

And that is based on the assumption of cheap energy and stable climate.

he is cherry picking data. if you look at a larger picture then 58 years then we are still growing exponentially.

Eh? The exponential trend has been decisively broken. 50 years and swiftly falling total fertility is quite enough to say this.

I gather from the famous, latest UN report projecting 15 billion by 2100 that the previous projections of leveling off at 10 billion may well have been little more than wishful thinking, indulged in solely because the issue, as we see to some extent in this thread, is so strongly taboo.

This seems not be the base case:

"The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in its World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision (published in May 2011) foresees a global population of 9.3 billion people at 2050, an increase over earlier estimates, and more than 10 billion by the end of this century—and that scenario assumes lower fertility rates over time. With only a small variation in fertility, particularly in the more populous countries, the total could be higher: 10.6 billion people could be living on Earth by 2050 and more than 15 billion in 2100, the Population Division estimates."

You seem to be missing some crucial points, jeppen.

If population even stabilizes, then our entire credit based financial system will fall apart. There will be massive defaults, political dislocations and currency collapses. Our financial system needs infinite growth in human population in order to function.

Moreover, the evidence is there that the ecosystem is degrading. Again, even if population stabilizes, it's likely that the degradation will continue until population finally starts to decline, and then it will take awhile to recover.

And population decline is not a benign thing! Every town, state, country, organization wants a growing population to feed its own self-image. New York City will never come out with an announcement that it's proud to be down to 1 million people. What happens every time the Census comes out? Everybody celebrates having more people, having more electoral votes, etc. "Growth."

Population decline means increased deaths, and this is never benign, even if it's an elderly person who passes away quietly. Think about the massive numbers of humans that need to die just to achieve stabilization.

So we basically screwed up, and there's no way out but pain. There's no such thing as a sustainable, never ending utopia where humans are in perfect equilibrium with the environment, happy and wealthy. Even if we were capable of that, it would take millions of years of evolution.

I don't think the financial system requires population growth, only economic growth.

I think you're right. Markets are either ruled by fear or by greed. Markets would include the whole economy, the flows of matter and energy through our bodies from the cosmos. So we go over to the "fear" side after being basically ruled by the "greed" side for 500 years or more. I see that happening. I see people in fear now. Greed is over. Fear is here, pulling back, shrinking, holding back.

If population even stabilizes, then our entire credit based financial system will fall apart. There will be massive defaults, political dislocations and currency collapses.

I think it's the opposite, actually. GDP per capita typically increase when more of the capitas are of working age.

Moreover, the evidence is there that the ecosystem is degrading.

Definitely, but I think we have often shown an ability to turn around when specific problems start to become really pressing. We may or may not regarding AGW, though.

Population decline means increased deaths, and this is never benign, even if it's an elderly person who passes away quietly. Think about the massive numbers of humans that need to die just to achieve stabilization.

If the number of births stabilize, which it has, then eventually the death numbers should stabilize at the same level. I don't see this as a big problem.

There's no such thing as a sustainable, never ending utopia where humans are in perfect equilibrium with the environment, happy and wealthy.

I agree. We'll always strive for enhancements, and we'll always be partly unsustainable. In some minor areas, we have depleted/destroyed certain resources. We'll do so again. But in the most crucial areas, we'll go sustainable (for long enough periods) to not completely destroy ourselves. I hope.

Why do you guys waste your time interacting with jeppen?

Why do you guys waste your time interacting with jeppen?

Because Jeppen's offering a different perspective and thereby challenging assumptions and fine tuning the discussion. Opposition to one's understanding of the way things are helps one to grow. If there is absolutely no merit to what he's saying you wouldn't engage.

Btw, I not agreeing with his POV. Seven billion people seems to me like a awful strain on the earth's carrying capacity. Collapse, however, has not yet happened and until it does, argument over its inevitability remains theoretical.

Should incorrect or flawed reasoning be allowed to stand unchallenged?

No, phosphorus is abundant.

So is water. Fresh, usable water, on the other hand ...

Simple negation does not advance the discussion.

Well, the phosphorus reserve base lasts for 300 years, but I'd bet it will still last us 300 years in the year 2311. It's a matter of how much you are willing to look for more.

It's a matter of how much you are willing to look for more.

Are you channeling Dr. Julian Simon now?!

We must educate people to see the need to examine carefully the allegations of the technological optimists who assure us that science and technology will always be able to solve all of our problems of population growth, food, energy, and resources.

Chief amongst these optimists was the late Dr Julian Simon, formerly professor of economics and business administration at the University of Illinois, and later at the University of Maryland. With regard to copper, Simon has written that we will never run out of copper because “copper can be made from other metals.” The letters to the editor jumped all over him, told him about chemistry. He just brushed it off: “Don’t worry,” he said, “if it’s ever important, we can make copper out of other metals.”

Now, Simon had a book that was published by the Princeton University Press. In that book, he’s writing about oil from many sources, including biomass, and he says, “Clearly there is no meaningful limit to this source except for the sun’s energy.” He goes on to note, “But even if our sun was not so vast as it is, there may well be other suns elsewhere.” Well, Simon’s right; there are other suns elsewhere, but the question is, would you base public policy on the belief that if we need another sun, we will figure out how to go get it and haul it back into our solar system? (audience laughter)

Now, you cannot laugh: for decades before his death, this man was a trusted policy advisor at the very highest levels in Washington DC.
Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

Jeppen, you really should watch Dr Bartlett's talk or at least read the transcript. Perhaps it will help you see the profound logical flaws in your thinking. You really need to take off your blinders.

Mag, haven't you figured it out by now.

Jeppen IS Julian S.

With apologies to Dr. Bartlett, I'm ROFLing!

Whatever viewpoint you have, you can always find nutty people who share it for a nice old guilt-by-association trick. This Julian is nothing more than that.

Bartlett doesn't mention phosphorus. Peak X certainly happens for all finite X, but regarding phosphorus, we don't seem to be anywhere near. (Or we might have peaked, but not for geological reasons.)

Peak X certainly happens for all finite X, but regarding phosphorus, we don't seem to be anywhere near.

On what do you base your assertion? Can you provide a link or cite peer reviewed papers that back up what you say?


But we may not have to wait until the end of the century to have a real good model for a completely destabilizing loss of a strategic and irreplaceable resource.

Is it water? Breathable air? Nitrogen? Hydrogen? Insincerity in Washington? No, no, no, no and most definitely no.

It’s phosphorus. Environmentalists and the scientific community have been warning for the past two years that global phosphorus stocks are being depleted dangerously fast.

Philip H. Abelson wrote a few years back in Science: “The current major use of phosphate is in fertilizers. Growing crops remove it and other nutrients from the soil… Most of the world’s farms do not have or do not receive adequate amounts of phosphate. Feeding the world’s increasing population will accelerate the rate of depletion of phosphate reserves.”

No, plants do not "remove" nutrients from the soil... people do that, by removing and diverting all that biomass to distance locales, by burning so much of it, by refusing to return our own bodily excreta which would nourish the soil, etc.

Plants, left to themselves with their companion animals and fungi and so on, *build* soil. They are the only thing that does.

[pounds head gently on desk]

[pounds head gently on desk]

It's Ok, RootlessAgrarian, I actually know that in a healthy and complex ecosystem the plants, left to themselves with their companion animals and fungi and so on, *build* soil.

However in our typical monocultured agro industrial fields this is obviously NOT the case.

Here, watch this to soothe your pounding head...


Best hopes for humanure!



Yes, of course, in addition to the usgs survey, we have this, for instance:


Alas, Phosphorus in the forms usable by plants is not abundant.You are, as usual, whistling past the graveyard.

I'll start from the front.

"What if someone or a group announces the achievement of sustainable fusion power..."

OK, what if? Fusion isn't useful by itself. We'd use it to boil water to make steam and then electricity. A fusion reactor is the equivalent of the furnace and associated equipment in a coal-fired power station, maybe 20-25% of the total cost. It might be less expensive, but is more likely to be more expensive than the furnace equivalent. With an untried technology investors would assume a short working life and demand a risk premium, which both drive up the capital cost.

Fusion reactors would be heavily regulated and monitored due to public concern, and insurers would be working in the dark. So quite likely the operating costs would be comparable to coal, even allowing for not having to buy coal or properly dispose of ash and sulphur dioxide.

So ... what happens ...?

Not much, it seems to me.

Just an aside on this: "We'd use it to boil water to make steam".

Is anybody else struck by how retro fusion power seems? How nineteenth-century?

Fusion seems like Jules Verne's future, not ours.

I can only think of hydro and PV as the only non-phase-change system humans use to make utility electricity.

It seems for all the technocorpians advocating fission and fusion, their systems all just boil a liquid (water usually), push high pressure steam through a turbine, and generate electricity.

We. Boil. Water.
- I think the fact is kind of funny and old fashioned, in a way.

For me, the only futuristic-seeming electricity generation in use is PV, since it doesn't involve phase changing (pretentious wording for boiling) a liquid.

Wind, sir? Fuel cell (ok, not really utility scale yet)? Tidal (just a type of hydro). Wave power (never going to scale)?

Wind, sir? Fuel cell (ok, not really utility scale yet)? Tidal (just a type of hydro). Wave power (never going to scale)?

Wind, I agree. "My bad" for not listing it.

...I was not trying to be exhaustive in listing all possibilities in my previous post, but just "off the top of my head" that was non-PV, so thought of steam-to-turbine stuff, and Hydro ;)

"what happens ...?"

Massively less pollution. No reliance on Saudi Arabia. No $500,000,000,000 shipped out of the US per year for fuel. Use fusion heat for home heating without turbine. Use fusion heat to make hydrogen to make synthetic liquid fuels without turbine.

Oil is finite....'peak oil is a myth' or such are the flat-Earth abiotic oil nuts.

Even for the abiotic oilers - they live on a finite planet and there is only so much mass.

As long as the Earth is finite in mass, so is the rock oil that is part of the overall mass.

I think he left unstated the proposition that lower quality sources will always be there to be tapped, -if only we develop the tools to do it with. So with your cookie jar anology, the kids learn to ride bicycles to the corner store -and raid mommies secret cash stash to pay for more cookies!

Of course what matters a lot is the distribution of oil by dificulty of extraction. Also how fast we can move up the difficulty scale (or we we get stuck at some point). If there is twice as much $80 oil as $60, and twices as much $100 as $80, then the oil age still has a ways to run. But if say there is half as much oil in the $80-$100 range, as the $60-$80 range, then the next twenty dollar range is half again -well then we are in for some serious hurt.

yup, mighty interesting discussion and comments. Just came in from chewing a few joints of sugar cane and forgot that "campfire" was no longer a thing I could read on Sat evening. Had to move off the farm last year. Old age, fixed income, health issues, etc. My children and estranged wife ain't figured it out yet.

Noticed that old 3/4 moon coming up on the horizion and thought about you folks. Read everything you write everyday. Wish I had some good news. But, I am afraid Jay Hansen has it right. Better enjoy what's left of your time. Just wish an old man could shed his ba..s rather than his teeth, cause it sure would make chewing cane a little easier.


Keep on chomping, old timer!

The end of the fossil fuel era will be one of the best things that has happened to Hawaii since being taken over by the white man.

Before being kicked off of the best land, the native population was about 300,000 and they were very happy, at large.

Now, the native population is forced to the center of the slums and many are addicted to meth and their spirit is broken. It is so sad a situation that I left after living there for a month (I went with the intention of working on renewable energy projects).

Once the oil stops being affordable and the planes of happy tourists no longer visit, the "invaders" will jump ship and go back to the mainland. The population will drop back to more sustainable levels and healthy, balanced communities will result. paradise at last, returned.

Tanking, my guess is most of those happy Hawaiians worked about every day from before sunup to after sundown, toiling to make that subsistence agriculture and aquaculture work. There were some lucky Alii, the Royal Hawaiian 1%, that got to lay about, but the 99% commoners had to work hard. To get back to 300,000, about 1 million will have to leave. I hope those choosing to remain are in training now on the old ways of survival.

If the US military leaves the islands, it could get interesting to see if anyone else "adopts" the place and how the natives get treated by the new "owners". I know most Pacific islanders were treated pretty badly by the Japanese colonialist invaders during WWII, and were happy and thankful to the US for liberating them.

Some of your observations about the natives are unfortunately correct, but for the part-Hawaiians that remain here, it might be a case of "out of pan, into fire".

Actually a consistent complaint of the Anglo invaders about indigenes generally, all over N Am and also in the S Pacific, was that they were "lazy," that they "didn't like to work," that their whole culture was indolent, that they spent *far* too much time hanging about singing and dancing, playing games, pursuing various aesthetic activities such as tattooing and other personal ornamentation, and taking naps. Some of the correspondence of the "Indian agents" in the field in Pac NW is very revealing on this topic. One bureaucrat in country writes to his superiors complaing that "Nature is far too generous with these people" (or wtte) and that they can *too easily* get a good living from the land, which makes them "unwilling to put in an honest day's work in our cannery" (again wtte -- his letter is excerpted on display at the 'Namgis museum (U'Mista CC) in Alert Bay, which is where I read it and would have busted out laughing if it all weren't so damn tragic.

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor."

The businessman scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?" To which the businessman replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, señor?" The businessman laughed and said, "That's the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions." "Millions, señor? Then what?" The businessman said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "Isn't that what I'm doing right now?"

-Author Unknown

Heisenberg, this sounds remarkably like a B. Traven story. In his story it was a basket maker with the businessman trying to get him to vastly expand his business. Among other things we might learn from this is the difference between a business and an avocation.

That's great.

I've heard both Maine and Native German versions of that tale over the last 30 years. Just as true every time! It's a good reversal of the 'Ant and the Grasshopper', which the Muppets also did a great reworking on, I recall.

ah! Here she is! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJAYsKjJtM4

In a nutshell this story exemplifies the corporate disconnect from life as it could be... The 1% are clueless!

For as long as the 99% are doing their work for them, they don't need to know!
When the money stops flowing up, then they'll sit up and take notice.
Unfortunately, it would likely take an "Arab Spring" type event in Europe or some other western country.

H - I’ll add a side story to that tale. What about the other 30 villagers without jobs? If the fisherman expanded his efforts he could improve the lives of many.

As I’ve explained before my company is privately owned. My owner doesn’t need a penny from any of the 40 or so companies he started. He can have the lifestyle of the superrich just from a small fraction of the income he could earn if all his monies were in CD’s. And so could his great-great grandchildren. Instead, at age 72, he actively runs operations that employ thousands of folks making good salaries, produces products, such as oil/NG this country needs, pays 100’s of millions in taxes and contributes 10’s of millions to charities.

It’s fortunate for a great many folks (including Rockman) he didn’t decide to finish his life sitting on the beach watching the waves wash ashore. So folks need to remember where their paychecks come from. Anyone here gets a pay check from a poor man?

Since fisherman is subsistence fishing, there remains plenty of opportunity for the other villagers to do the same rather than work for said fisherman.

The trouble is that if ALL the fishermen go and buy new, bigger boats, work harder, and catch more fish, they will wipe out the fish stocks and all be unemployed. This is essentially what happened to the Newfoundland Cod fishery, which once was the biggest industry in Newfoundland, but is now permanently shut down.

It’s fortunate for a great many folks (including Rockman) he didn’t decide to finish his life sitting on the beach watching the waves wash ashore. So folks need to remember where their paychecks come from.

What if none of us needed paychecks? Yeah, yeah, I know, impossible to imagine...

Are you familiar with the bumper sticker that says:


There's more than a grain of truth in there!


I read this tale the other day, liked it, then thought a bit and realized that its is idyllic if one takes it too literally...Not all or even most of $7B people get to live in a sleepy little fishing village in a warm climate next to a sea stocked with wonderful fish. I suppose if the fella in this tale gets sick, or one of his family gets sick, he can trade some fish for some healing herbs and knowledge. He likely lives (again in a warm idyllic climate) in a small hut made of local materials, no bank mortgage to pay. hey all poop and pee outside the village in the woods,or use outhouses or perhaps indoor loos with a simple septic system, because there is a low enough population density that this is OK.

Back in the real World the population density is way too high, the human waste is fouling the waterways, they ain't making anymore land and the banksters have you in thrall for your house, etc.

I do so like this tale, because it reminds me of the sayings :No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they worked more hours every week: and "the graveyards are full of indispensable people". I have two bossed who are working ~ 80 hours per week because our company is too damn cheap and greedy to hire more folks...it would lessen the profit margin and stock price a tad..these folks are becoming physically ill...I have refused to work more than ~55 hours per week...work =/ life...I refuse to play the money mens' game....I do great work in the time I work, and I refuse to be hollowed out and thrown in the trash, just another line-replaceable unit in their machine. Unfortunately someday it may mean I am on the streets...with a rep of 'not being a team player'. Screw them.

SO...I see your point, Rock, and I see FM's point...it depends on your paradigms. In ~3 years when my two kids are through college and out on their own maybe I will convince my wife that we should get off the rat race treadmill.

As for working the long hours one of the UK banks, quite a few years ago, had a training course for their managers to improve efficiency. Work was 9-5, M-F and NO more, compulsory lunch breaks NO working lunches, NO work to be taken home etc. They got more work done and were better for it.

I met someone on a tropical beach. This was a very isolated beach so only those who knew the secret went there. It was the idyllic tropical beach. This guy organised the locals from the village to look after the tourists. Made sure you had a beach shelter, cold drinks, fish cooked for you on a small fire next to you. He could speak 4 or 5 languages that he had learnt from tourists. Always happy to scrounge a bit of outside food from the visitors but always happy with a good conversation and keeping the beach running smoothly. How did he end up doing that? He used to be a beggar on the streets of the big city, got fed up and moved to the coast. He saw how disorganised the locals were so got them organised. Earned a little money and a lot of lifestyle.


spoken like someone who is addicted to money and can't understand that happiness can come from other things. pay checks do not come from rich people, they come from the pockets of people who buy things from the company they chose to work for. rich people are like those hoarders you see on tv, only replace random junk with money. they are just as emotionally sick as the people who horde newspapers, dolls or even trash. and just like how even throwing away one piece of a hoarders horde makes a emotional wound similar to loosing a pet or family member in some cases, the same can be said for many of the rich in that loosing a single dollar, yen, euro, etc causes the same thing. to the point they start to try to skew the system so they can loose less.

Thoreau said "people tend to surround themselves with things" and admonished us to "simplify, simplify, simplify". He was a great Buddhist, for not being one.


"What about the other 30 villagers without jobs? If the fisherman expanded his efforts he could improve the lives of many."

About your hypothesis that the fisherman's expansion "could improve the lives of many" - under what circumstances might this be true, and under what circumstances would this be absolutely and even horrifically false?

Also, after a few generations of "the fishing village as a business," when everyone in the village depends on the fishing business and no longer knows how to live without it - and in fact have mortgaged their children's futures to maintain the "business" - what happens when the fishery collapses due to over-harvesting or the business can't compete for customers, or... ?

How much better off really? For how long? At what cost to ALL (7 generations, etc).

"Lazy Natives" are more sustainable than the A-D-D Industrials (where discontent is a product fed to the consumers 24/7/365).

Give a starving man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime. But come back 100 years later, and his grandkids have depleted the fishery, and you end up with a large desperate population.

Think of all the ruins, pyramids, broken pottery, bones of previous civilizations on the planet.

It may be that we are to be a species forever self-destined in cycles of explosive growth and collapse.

This current cycle being dominated by FF, previous ones by food, disease, whatever.

History would seem to point to it, but like Peak Oil itself, not a concept most can relate to or find peace with.

Then think in the wider cycle. We became like this throuhg evolution. Evolution will take us out of it to. Weather it is by extinction or adaption. I hope for the later.

unless of course wen end up creating conditions for nature to select against the large calorie hungry brains we have. like say the homo erectus which became the Flores hobbit..

That is scary. Say that the only place where humans can survive will become the northern end of Greenland - to hot everywhere else - we may not be ableto maintain a population above inreeding levels...

I believe the last significant step in human evolution (wich happened some 80 to 120 milennias ago) was caused by us; we created our own evolutionary pressure and became what we are. I also believe the next round will be self generated to. I just HOPE the change will be in a direction wich alows us to think in was tolive with and not against nature.

My father is self-employed (electrical, etc.) and has been since his 20's, my mother works part-time for him. My oldest brother is self-employed in a rural area and is an any-racket-going type(he has a flooring store, sells installation, and cabinets/countertops/tilework, minor remodeling, sells insurance, buys and sells motorsports equipment, has a vending machine route (started to create an income for a daughter), owned a restaurant when he lived in the PNW, etc) and has been self-employed since his 20's. My other older brother is currently an owner-operator truck driver (a recent change). I work for a rate-regulated utility. My next oldest sister lives in Taiwan on a work visa teaching English to children whose parents are poorer than she is but pay for English lessons. My next oldest sister is a part-time municipal librarian (a recent change) and a volunteer and tutor. The youngest sister is currently not employed (she's a civil engineer), but is moving to Peru with her husband after he finishes his contract with the start-up biodiesel equipment development and sales racket he and his brother started in college and sold off 2 years ago for a tidy sum. The older sister hasn't worked in years, her husband is a software consultant whose employment status varies by project.

I guess my point is, that many people make a living without the man giving them a job, and many people feel a need to do other things with their time than chase a buck. Pretty much none of the other male members of my extended family work for someone else, and pretty much all the female members do something more with their time than chase the biggest paycheck they can find. If the product is needed, somebody will supply it, and there is no great shortage of motivated folks to do it, such that we must lick the hand of those from whose table our crumbs drop. No rich man ever gave me a paycheck worth more than I made him by my ingenuity and labor.

Your family certainly sound industrious.

I wish I were more diversified in my skills as your oldest brother seems to be...folks such as he will do better in the future than folks such as me.

Basic skills are dying. My family in general is overspecialized if we have any kind of serious collapse event. We could do subsistence ag and hunting and fuelwood if we had to and we were all in the same place (there are some far-flung members who'd be pretty useful) and didn't have excess competition (I probably couldn't make it on my own). If our personal libraries survive, we can figure the rest out.

ben - "I guess my point is, that many people make a living without the man giving them a job...". As you describe the situation everyone in your family is working for some company and getting a paycheck from that company. In the case of your mom, dad and brother they are getting paid by the companies they own. None of your family may be chasing "bigger paychecks" but they are chasing paychecks...aren't they? I'll assume they are satisfied with their current income. But whatever that income might be they've set out of a course to earn that amount.

This is not a knock against your family. Just pointing out they are doing the same thing the vast majority is doing: doing work to earn the lifestyle they desire. Each gets to make that choice. I'm sure they are good citizens and pay their taxes. They may share some of what they have with charities and the less fortunate. But from your post it appears not one of you are doing anything to help the unemployed find a job. Maybe your brother is writing some paychecks with his business efforts...maybe not. I'm truly glad your family is content where they are financially in the world today. There are around 20+ million other Americans who aren't. Maybe your dad could expand his operations and hire some of the un/under employed elections out there...like my stepson.

BTW: apparently you have gotten paychecks from a rich man. And by your admission weren't paid more than your efforts were worth. Sounds the way it should work. Of course, had he sat on the beach and just watched the waves instead of running the company you wouldn't have gotten those paychecks, would you? I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with my point. It sounds like your entire family is knee deep in the free enterprise system. It doesn't appear any of your family is getting paychecks from a poor man.


Sorry to be late back to the party...out all day Sunday and through the night on a troubled well.

Everyone got to make up their story so I get to tell mine. The fisherman expands his operation, employees all the unemployed folks in the village. He becomes major of the village and, thanks to his knowledge of the fishing business, institute policies that prevent over fishing. With the taxes collected from his successful fishing business he brings medical care and quality education to the village. This also includes birth control education and policies to prevent expansion of the population beyond sustainable levels.

See...it's easy. First you start with a successful business that not only employees the population but provides taxes to establish a viable and knowledgeable govt. Of course, if the govt doesn't mandate policies that allow for a sustainable and prosperous future for the villagers you have a problem. And since the govt is elected by the villagers then they get what they elect. But the problem wasn't started by the fisherman. He just gave the villagers opportunities to improve their lives. If they screw it up with bad choices it's on them...not the fisherman.

So my story is just as plausible as anyone else's. Unless, of course, we talking about the US where the population continues to elect govts that do what the electorate wants instead of doing the right thing.

BTW: in case it was too subtle, the role of fisherman was played by Jimmy Carter.

He becomes major of the village and, thanks to his knowledge of the fishing business, institute policies that prevent over fishing.

Ostrom found examples of successful commons, but she had to look hard within small indigenous communities who were small enough and traditional enough to know how to not overrun their resources. Once we urbanize, rules and complexity are required, and sustainability requires either some benevolent control from the top (feudalism? Marxism?), which only lasts as long as the wise ruler, or a value system heavily weighted to sustainability? In order to make things work in a new paradigm we're going to need a new set of values, which probably means a new religion. And a new version of medical ethics, rather than one that extends massive resources that can't be spared in a contracting economy to futile efforts for elders in their last months of life.

First you start with a successful business that not only employees the population but provides taxes to establish a viable and knowledgeable government. . . . But the problem wasn't started by the fisherman. He just gave the villagers opportunities to improve their lives. If they screw it up with bad choices it's on them...not the fisherman.

Self-organization and bottom-up development is a good way to start, Rock, I agree. But if the goal of our entire system remains competition and wealth acquisition, then we end up in the same problematic overshoot every time, no matter what system we develop. All systems have to switch as they mature from a competitive, successional, exclusionary model to a more cooperative, long-term, don't-overrun-your-resources set of goals and ways of operating. In a more normal system, sigmoid growth levels off, and becomes a more mature, pulsing steady-state system that is geared to lived within its means. The dog-eat-dog competitors in this society are already being shunned, and a new set of values is developing, in places like OWS and transition towns.

The problem is, the massive size and structure of the empire's bureaucracy at this point of overshoot is not something we can contract or chip away at. We are not in sigmoid growth; we are way too far into exponential growth. There are too many ingrained feedback loops that are difficult to remove. This is why tipping points occur. The old falls apart, there is a reset moment, and a new bottom up self-organization begins based on new goals and system dynamics more suited to a world with contracting energy supply. There's no longer room for every fisherman to get rich if he so desires. There are too many people and not enough energy to run things as they are. That meme is done, and those who still espouse it will become anachronisms. Your request for the old capitalist system to continue strikes a hollow tone to me already.

In 1911, Frederick Soddy said, "The laws that express the relation between matter and energy [thermodynamic laws], govern the rise and fall of political systems, the freedom or bondage of societies, the movements of commerce and industries, the origin of wealth and poverty, and the general physical welfare of a people."

Capitalism develops in systems with surplus energy, allowing rapid growth. Capitalism is the feedback loops that develop to maximize power in a setting with surplus energy. A political system that evolves in a setting of inadequate energy for BAU in descent will be something else, with much less freedom and less equality.

I - All well and good. But that wasn't my story. A community is suffering unemployment and poverty. An individual, utilizing his own resources, creates jobs and provides a vehicle for the people to improve their lives considerably. Anyone one can pervert the go forward tale as much as they like. What I find interesting is the negativity on TOD regarding this aspect of life. I doubt there are many homeless spending their idle time on TOD. I suspect most folks here are enjoying their lives via just the type of commerce I've described. Folks seem to relish peeing on the system. But I don't imagine there are many TODsters who don't depend on that very same system.

It really was just a simple tale making a simple point: Businesses need workers and workers need businesses. How well/fairly the process is conducted is another matter. And I'm still waiting to hear from anyone who's getting a paycheck from a poor man.

Everyone gets their paycheck from a poor man. A rich man never hired anybody unless he had a place to sell the product, else he didn't stay rich. The 99% provides the market, and thus the paycheck, for the bulk of production, whether it's done under a corporate umbrella with thousands of employees, or by my dad's sole proprietorship. The number of jobs out there is primarily a function of demand, not largesse from the upper crust. Some businesses need to be good sized, there's economy of scale in steelmaking, etc. A network of small companies can do most work as or more efficiently, though, and contracting typically has rewards not found in doing the same work for someone else.

I couldn't stop, I guess I have something to say that I can't articulate well:

My father's business has grown and contracted over time (he's down to himself and Mom at the moment, he's had a max payroll of 15 or so in the past). He's got two machine shop moves going at the present time, and will probably expand a bit for the next few months. There are probably at least 20 electrical contractors working now who got their experience to get their contractor's license while working directly for and with my father. Others have developed along other lines. My brothers' first job, and mine (I got my BSEE at 19 and my P.E. at 22), and my sisters--the youngest of whom got her BSCE on her 20th birthday.) were all for Dad. His model doesn't keep them stunted as 'labor.'

When he has a big project that lasts a couple years (last long big one was 4-5 years on construction of a 10,000 cow dairy* and he had between 3 and 10 employees during the course) he finds some bright unemployed young people (almost always thru his personal network, I can only remember him running an ad a couple times in the past 30 years) and puts them to work as helpers in progressively responsible roles, some of them make it all the way to contractor. When he has work that's too big for him short-term (a spike in resources needed) and skilled labor isn't needed, he hires folks he knows for temp casual labor (usually teenage sons of single mothers, friends who are unemployed but looking for permanent work in another field, or folks who aren't looking for permanent work (retirees, students, etc). When the spike requires skilled labor, he calls ex-employees (now contractors) and finds out who is short of work, and they sub for him (and bring their own helpers). If everybody has work, the help runs both directions. When he gets a project that isn't the kind of work he likes to do, he refers it to one of them. When they get a project that's too big or too complicated for one of them to swing, they refer it to him, and he runs with it. Before they get their license (and only if they are ready) he typically lets them contract small jobs under his license, handles purchasing for them (he often gets price levels better than the $10B corp I work for), and provides technical support and business advice.

When he designs a job, if a stamp is needed, he calls an engineer buddy with a P.E. license, and the buddy stamps it for a nominal fee, given that the review is a slam dunk (engineers frequently call my dad for design advice). If he has work to do in a different trade, he brings in one of his small contractor buddies who does that type of thing (surveying, rigging, roofing, carpentry, drywall, painting, concrete, pipefitting, plumbing, welding, sawcutting, HVAC, sheetmetal work, backhoe work, crane work, well drilling, structural engineering, motor re-wind, nut and bolt supply, etc.) If he has job-shop work to do, he calls 2-5 of his machine shop customers for quotes. He does most of his own troubleshooting, consulting, engineering/design work, CAD work, purchasing, estimating, project management, PLC programming (since I left anyway) and SCADA HMI work. He subs (T&E) most of the small pipe and wire work, or trench and duct bank work, or primary elbow makeup, these days, unless business is totally dead. He typically runs the big conduit bending**, or long cable pulling crews, he lays out panel building jobs, and lets employees drill, tap, and terminate. About 4-8 times a year for the past 15-20 years he organizes a weekend 'barn-raising' to build a church with all volunteer labor, I know many folks whose first introduction to the skilled trades was via these events.

My brother's small retail flooring,etc store usually has a half-dozen or so installers using him as primary source of installation jobs. Depending on what else he is doing, 1 or 2 of them may be employees. The vending machine route (built from machines he purchased broken, then restored and found placements for) is a job for somebody (it's not my niece anymore, since she got married and moved away). The restaurant obviously employed people (and would still if he hadn't made the mistake of going into business with his accountant, who was pocketing the IRS quarterlies and keeping two sets of books, it took my brother a few years to make good).

My sister's money comes from people making a few grand per year in Taiwan. Her previous work (pre-recession) as an immigration paralegal brought significant numbers of people from 3rd world countries into the U.S. labor market, reducing barriers to GDP growth by increasing labor mobility. Her current work teaching English to Taiwanese serves the same purpose in reducing friction in labor and trade markets. This is not entirely a coincidence. She is now fluent in Mandarin, and both of my parents have been learning it for the past 5 years.

On taxes: All of us believe in paying ALL our taxes. An anecdote may illustrate how we were raised. About 15 years ago, when my sister was working her way thru school as a waitress, she took a job at a restaurant which had previously been audited for underreporting of server tips. The corporate policy had been changed to require reporting of 8% of sales to avoid a follow-up audit. Under-reporting was so rampant that the company had no process in place to report greater than 8% of sales (this was a chain, and a corporate store, not a hole-in-the-wall). Her first pay period, my sister was told by store management and one level of corporate that she could not report more than 8% tips, as they had no process, and when she insisted that her scruples required her to report her exact tips, were told that as they had no process they weren't sure they could keep her on. She (a minor female facing adult men) didn't blink, the next level of corporate did, and for the next several years she had a conversation once per week with someone in corporate payroll where she reported her actual tips over the phone so they could take the proper withholding.

On economic pain: The brother driving a truck had major employment problems over the past 4 years, that's why he's driving a truck for himself, because nobody was giving him a job. My two youngest sisters both were laid off the same week in January of 2009 from their 24-32hr/wk jobs at separate firms in engineering and construction (while rooming together, AZ unemployment insurance capped out at a couple hundred bucks a week). One of them had substantial savings thru living frugally on a nice part-time entry-level engineering salary (yes, I know how unusual that job is, and I'm sure it was a factor in her layoff), the other found lesser, temporary, and intermittent employment until recently, when she got the librarian job (she applied/interviewed as a page, and they were so impressed they hired her as a librarian--jobs usually go to folks with degrees in library science) after finishing a degree (she went back after a 5 year hiatus), demonstrating Spanish fluency and a more than passing familiarity with popular literature, showing a resume with 10+ years volunteer work in several fields, and successful academic tutoring of the disadvantaged/illiterate/ESL from pre-school thru adult. The sister in Taiwan returned there after her return to the U.S. in late 2008 from her student visa to Taiwan co-incided with no job for over a year while ineligible for UI due to the previous stint as a student in Taiwan (after being employed gainfully from age 14-26 prior to that stint). She took two roommates here to cover her mortgage, and eventually returned to Taiwan (after renting her place) where she knew she could make $20+ dollars an hour and live on $500/mo with healthcare. My aunt was laid off in late 2008 from a mortgage brokerage after being continuously employed from high school until age 62. She has yet to find a job, and will have to try to eke out her future retirement with what income she can generate thru self-employment.

*The dairy has 2 miles of 12kV distribution, 9 distribution transformers, 3-500HP wells, 1 with a VFD, a 2MW backup diesel generator for the whole place, a shop for all of the equipment and fabrication work on the place, two 80 cow rotary milk barns and all associated electrical, air compressors, chillers and cooling tower, pumps, cleanup and controls work, cow cooling fans and misters centrally controlled with SCADA for the freestall barns, flush manure management and fertigation also centrally controlled with SCADA, distributed whey feeding in water troughs in each corral with adjustable ration via VFD metering pump blending and with PLC controlled tank management and truck unloading, calf kitchen and calf/heifer raising pens, employee and owner housing, an airstrip and hangar, efficient lighting thruout, PLC controlled evap cooling in the shop, etc. Dad also did purchasing for many non-electrical parts of the dairy construction.

**I remember his one man shop getting a referral (no personal relationships involved) by the third largest municipality in the state to the then 5th largest to do a stainless rigid bending job multiple large contractors had failed at. I remember a multi-billion dollar heavy civil contracting corporation not using us to do the PVC pipelaying for a 1.5 mile conduit run across a river (dewatered during construction) because their internal price using laborers penciled out lower, and crawling back to us and paying a premium to get a pull rope into the runs and clean them out after their lack of quality control led to conduit full of water/rocks. He's done work for most of the supply houses he buys from, these are the guys that know every electrical contractor (big or small) in Phoenix. I remember a civil contractor agreeing to front a $2M project he couldn't bond, based on a cut and his name on the contract (we missed that job by 0.5%). I remember him redesigning an IHS hospital job (pre-bid) to reduce the government's spend by 50% and deliver a higher value project; are any corporate contractors doing that when there's no cost-reduction-sharing? We've done cotton gins, irrigation and municipal well pumps, dairies, booster stations, lift stations, WWTP, machine shops, stamping shops, sawshops, sawmills, fish hatcheries, gold mines, ball mills, casinos, trailer parks, marinas, backup generators for hospitals and others, copper mine maintenance, motor control, long cable and fiber pulling, high voltage, hydro dam crane rebuilds, irrigation canal and siphon pipeline automation and power, automated paint delivery system design and construction for pipeline coating systems, automated mailing service line maintenance, conveyor control and maintenance, general commercial electrical, VFD and motor starting sales and service, motion control, cathodic protection, pf capacitor sizing and installation, lighting design and installation, lighting retrofits, energy efficiency retrofits, hydraulic power supply design, construction and installation, pneumatic controls design and troubleshooting, stormwater sampling stations, photovoltaics (120KW 3-phase grid connected with 3-phase inverter, microinverters, grid connected with battery backup and backup generator, isolated systems). If my dad has a niche, I'd say it's doing things that aren't cookie-cutter, or are design-build, or where multiple subcontract disciplines have significant overlap and he can take the coordination out of the picture by doing all of them for a prime contractor.

Next year, a more ambitious, greedy, capitalist fisherman in the same village borrows money from the bank to buy a bigger, faster boat equipped with the latest sonar technology. He works really hard and catches as many fish as he can. He borrows more money to buy more boats and pretty soon has a fleet of modern fishing boats. The fish population is soon depleted and our laid back fisherman goes out of business :-(

The greedy, capitalist fisherman is then out of business, too. Except that the capitalist is in debt to the the World Bank for his fleet of modern fishing boats, and the CIA sends someone to liquidate him. The laid back fisherman shrugs his shoulders, beaches his boat, hugs his wife, and plants a garden with the help of his village.

But the capitalist fisherman is not bankrupt; his corporation is. His personal funds are securely invested in farm land and agribusiness. The jobless, landless, formerly laid back fisherman is now a laborer working on his farm because his tiny garden is too small to support his family.

By the way, the CIA does not liquidate failed capitalists. Failed capitalists get bailed out :-) It is much more likely for the CIA to liquidate our laid back fisherman ("he is a communist!") if he opposes the capitalist fisherman.

Regardless of how you wish for the story to end, I am sure you will agree that in real world my ending occurs a lot more frequently than yours. The world doesn't have enough land for everyone to live off of it.

LOL. What was I thinking, Suyog? I have been reading too many fairytales, I guess.

Eventually the feudal society rises up and takes out the capitalist fleet owner-cum-feudal lord. A period of relative anarchy, dieoff, and dark ages results, while the land lies fallow and regains life.

"Actually a consistent complaint of the Anglo invaders about indigenes generally, all over N Am and also in the S Pacific, was that they were "lazy," that they "didn't like to work," that their whole culture was indolent, that they spent *far* too much time hanging about singing and dancing, playing games, pursuing various aesthetic activities such as tattooing and other personal ornamentation, and taking naps."

Except for the tatooing part, that sounds like a set of lifestyle goals to me! But seriously, those places you cite all had abundant fisheries and the land hunting was also good, even for bow & arrow/spear technology, except maybe for the larger moose and the bears. From my own experience, hunting and fishing are best were human population densities are low. Most of these places are too far gone to allow a hunter-gatherer "loafer lifestyle" today, but could return if human population thins after passage through the coming bottleneck, and we don't kill off all the wildlife and ruin their habitat beforehand.

The reason for this is that Hawaii did not have a way to store wealth. Their staples were taro and sweet potatoes. They had no grain, and thus no way to bank wealth (other than in the goodwill of others).

If it were possible to store food for later, I'm sure the culture would have changed to make this desirable. Starvation was a frequent problem in Hawaii.

It is questionable the Hawaiian Islands had a population of 300,000.
I lived in Maui for 10 years, and lived upcountry and rural.
The current culture would have a serious problem without 4X4's and Costco.

Soemhow I don't think that transition will go too easily. I'm not from there, but I read a little (probably much much less than you -so I risk being corrected),and I seem to recall hearing about periodic wars, where the winning army would virtually eliminate the losers. Basically population control. Malthus will have his logic prevail by one means or another.

You are correct. IIRC, the great uniter, King Kamehameha, was able to quickly conquer all his rival kings after being supplied with guns, a technological edge given to him by early white visitors, with all the usual intents and desires. Kamehameha is revered today as if he was the Hawaiian version of Washington or Bolivar. I'm sure the loser kings of Oahu and Kauai and their followers would have had a different view. So we have the masses of shallow-thinkers ready to rationalize their actions and goals and write the history of their exploits for posterity. Malthus' logic will prevail, and the correct number of humans, if nonzero, will populate this place in future with the funny looking cement towers with all the broken glass in them down among the breakers on the beach.

And there was hardly a tree big enough to build the oceangoing canoes that got them there.
This was a stone age culture, who had trashed a huge portion of their environment, and what little land fauna was becoming extinct.

Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future
A.P.J Abdul Kalam
Srijan Pal Singh
'Economic growth will need massive energy. Will we allow an accident in Japan, in a 40-year-old reactor at Fukushima, arising out of extreme natural stresses, to derail our dreams to be an economically developed nation?'

Energy and economy

Energy is the most fundamental requirement of every society or nation as it progresses through the ladder of development. Of course, once it reaches a relative degree of development, the energy demand becomes more stable. There is a distinct and categorical correlation between the energy consumption and income of a nation — each reinforcing the other. Look around you: every step into progress comes with an addition of demand for energy — cars, ships and aircraft to move, hospitals to give quality healthcare, education, as it follows the model of e-connectivity, production of more and better goods, irrigation for better farming. In fact, every element of our lives is increasingly going to become energy-intensive — that is a necessary prerequisite for development. This is clearly reflected in the average energy consumption per person across nations — for instance, an average American consumes more than 15 times the energy consumed by an average Indian (see Figure 1)iv

Today, India finds itself going through a phase of rapid ascent in economic empowerment. Industries are evolving at a significantly higher rate since liberalisation. Our focus for this decade will be on the development of key infrastructure and the uplifting of the 600,000 villages where 750 million people live, as vibrant engines of the economy. In 2008, we crossed the trillion-dollar mark, and it took more than six decades for us to reach that milestone. However, it is predicted that the Indian economy will double again, to reach the $2-trillion mark by 2016, and then again redouble, to reach the $4 trillion milestone by 2025v. All this economic growth will need massive energy. It is predicted that the total electricity demand will grow from the current 150,000 MW to at least over 950,000 MW by the year 2030vi — which will still be less than one-fourth of the current U.S. per capita energy need. In fact, by 2050, in all likelihood the demand could go even higher, and the per capita energy demand would be equal to the current French or Russian figure of about 6000 W per capita.
Nuclear fuel of the future: Thorium

Let us introduce a lesser-known member among radioactive materials — Thorium. It is perhaps the best solution possible in the future and would be technologically and commercially the best option in another two decades. Thorium, the 90th element in the Periodic Table, is slightly lighter than Uranium. Thorium is far more abundant, by about four timesxxvi, than the traditional nuclear fuel, Uranium, and occurs in a far purer form, too. It is believed that the amount of energy contained in the Thorium reserves on earth is more than the combined total energy that is left in petroleum, coal, other fossil fuels and Uranium, all put together. And information revealed in an IAEA Report (2005) on Thorium fuels indicates that India might have the largest reserves of Thorium in the world, with over 650,000 tonnes. (Note: The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is the world's centre of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up in 1957 as the world's ‘Atoms for Peace' organisation within the U.N. family.) This is more than one-fourth of the total deposits of Thorium; in comparison, we have barely 1 per cent of the world's Uranium deposits, which is currently being put to effective use, our having opted for the closed fuel cycle technology. Thorium has many other advantages. It is estimated that Thorium may be able to generate (through Uranium-233 that could be produced from it) eight times the amount of energy per unit mass compared to (natural) Uraniumxxvii. In the much debated issue of waste generation also, Thorium has a relative advantage. It produces waste that is relatively less toxic due to the absence of minor actinides (that are associated with Uranium).
But now, being the largest owner of Thorium, and also being amongst the nations which will see the highest surge in power demand with its growth, the opportunity is for India to pursue its existing nuclear programme with a special focus on research and development on the Thorium route as the long term sustainable option, which we are already undertaking. For this purpose, it is imperative to continue to implement the current Indian plan of making use of the uranium and plutonium-based fuel cycle technologies as well as irradiate larger amounts of Thorium in fast reactors to breed Uranium-233 fuel as it graduates to the Thorium-based plants. It is noteworthy that the Indian plan for an advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR) is an important step to launch early commencement of Thorium utilisation in India, while considerable further efforts to use Thorium in both thermal and fast reactors would be essential to harness sustainable energy from Thorium-generated Uranium-233.

Glad someone understands. Go India!

I respect Kalam but he also said that India will be a superpower by 2012 then by 2020, I hear the latest prediction is for 2032. Just keeps shifting.

Apparently they understand nothing and must repeat all the mistakes made by other industrialized societies before they themselves are brought to their knees when they finally hit resource limits. 'Economic Growth' is a fools errand!

Go India, Brazil, Russia and China! You are all headed over the cliff and will be dumped in the dustbin of history like everyone else.

And how many commercially operating Thorium Reactors do we have producing at the moment?

I believe the number of currently running, commercial utility electricity producing nuclear reactors using Thorium fuel is: zero.

But "Hey! Coming soon!" is every few days when I search news.google.com using the word thorium.

Yep, zero.

India to 6KW per person by 2050! Above article.

That should probably be interpreted as 6 KW thermal energy per capita.

The US energy consumption is given as 10381.2 watts/capita in List of Countries by Energy Consumption per Capita.

However, electrical generation is much less. The US electricity consumption is 1,460 watts/capita, and the thermal energy required to generate it is probably around 4500 watts. List of Countries by Electricity Consumption per Capita.

If an economy is based on electrical power (except for using fossil fuel for process heat in chemical plants, smelters, etc.) a thermal power of 6000 watts would give electrical consumption for transportation, HVAC, industiral uses, etc., of around 2000 watts per capita, not much larger than current US consumption for more limited uses.

Why is the fact that a bunch of rich bankers lost their money called a crisis? It is not a crisis for me or the other 6.99 billion workers in the world. I do understand that the idea of having to get a job is a crisis for the 0.001 billion stupid rich folks that made bad investments and lost their money.

"Why is the fact that a bunch of rich bankers lost their money called a crisis?

They lost "our" money ed.

Congress decriminalized fraud, and our Treasury Secretaries, Greenspan and especially the NY Fed said markets could police themselves.

So the ratings agencies, SEC, FDIC etc refused to police the markets, and the bankers and other associated financial riffraff gambled away our collective life savings.

None of the old financial rules apply anymore. Now a 50% haircut on a bond is now no longer a default and CDS are not triggered. When MF Global blows up, we decrease margin (increase risk taking)...

Next the stupids will be arguing over the definition of "is" or something.

The industrial world is insolvent.

Why is the fact that a bunch of rich bankers lost their money called a crisis?

Because the 'rich' control the press - same as it ever was:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

And because the 99% are still part of that bank system and want their retirements:

In the summer of 2000, I asked a group of 100 people at a conference of spiritually committed people who would push a red button if it would immediately stop all narcotics trafficking in their neighborhood, city, state and country. Out of 100 people, 99 said they would not push such red button. When surveyed, they said they did not want their mutual funds to go down if the U.S. financial system suddenly stopped attracting an estimated $500 billion-$1 trillion a year in global money laundering.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

Mr. and Mrs. H are watching 'V For Vendetta' presently.

Kind of apropos, given the Arab Spring, OWS/OA, the worrisome potential of police states, and the World's present and growing predicaments.

Note to all: I do not advocate violence. I just like entertaining flicks that make one think.

Follow the path of reason, listening, grass-roots organization and effective communication and advocacy.

Peace out

The owning class will not part with many of their money because we reason with them. I also do not advocate any unlawful activity. I believe change will come in 30 years when China is four times the economic size of the US. It will be peaceful. More like China buys the US.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...

from where I sit China on its current trajectory *is* the US, just with a different accent... "burn baby burn!"

That's pretty good, but the classic campaign ad of all time still remains the Democrat's H-Bomb TV clip with LBJ doing the voiceover. Creepy, but effective.

Wow, what a heavy handed propaganda piece... very stylistic and almost self-satirising, but the underlying message goes right back to the schoolyard: if you don't smarten up and do as we say, all the other kids -- worse, a bunch of fresh-faced Asian kids -- will laugh at you! I wonder if this was produced from stock footage (other than the main actor reading the script)... also wonder if the chinese sound track is really saying what the subtitles say (always a frustration when you don't speak the audio-track language!).

don't forget the music in the piece. it's the kind used to instill dread and fear.


That youtube was excellent!

I disagree with the 'China taking over the World' prediction.

We heard all the same schtuff 30 years ago with the 'Japan is taking over the World' hype.

before 30 years from now there won't be enough liquid ancient sunshine for anyone to take over the World.

I dunno... Alexander did a pretty good, if not long-lasting job, and the Romans made a creditable attempt, without fossil fuel. A lot can be done with the wheel, slaves, and horses. Maybe not the Whole Enchilada, but the eventual scale of the thing doesn't matter much to you if you're a peasant and your valley is one of the ones the expanding Empire takes over :-) *your* world gets conquered, and that's ugly and tragic enough.

I've been reading Paolo Bacigalupi's mordant, deep-noir novel The Windup Girl. A grim tale indeed, and all about the "Second Expansion" after the "Great Contraction" after Peak FF...


//U.S.-centric POV// I do not envision the Greeks, Italians, or for that matter, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, etc. invading the U.S. across the pods w/o robust FF. Second thought: Not even with robust FFs as we have had until now.

Maybe I will look into that book you mentioned...


Story on 'What China Wants as a 'Superpower':


First, perhaps we should define 'superpower'

Nor does Beijing show much sign at the moment of seeking to push any particular model of governance or political mind-set, which is music to the ears of men like Mr. Mende, the Congolese communications minister. "We don't believe in that trend of Western powers mixing with internal affairs of countries," he says. "We don't like people giving us orders. China is more about respecting the self-determination of their partner."

That hands-off approach also steers the country clear of alliances that might enmesh Beijing in the costly defense of other people's interests. Even those Pakistani officials who would like to play Beijing off against Washington recall that not once has Beijing stepped in to help Pakistan in any of its wars with India, all of which Pakistan lost.

"China wants to make the deals but not to shoulder responsibilities," says Zhu, the Peking University international relations scholar. "We are far from ready, psychologically, to make ourselves a dependable power."

The government's recent white paper acknowledged as much: "For China, the most populous developing country, to run itself well is the most important fulfillment of its international responsibility."

Wow, China uses other levers of 'National Power' besides military force.

They are about doing the business deal.

Huh, go figure.

What about Taiwan?

What about it indeed...China takes the long view...they will incorporate Taiwan eventually.

Militarily run roughshod over the World? No...not in their mindset, and depleting FFs will render the possibility moot, Alexander, Genghis, Napoleon, etc. notwithstanding.

Peaceful relations with all. Entangling alliances with none. Hey they stole our line.

Remember Genghis Khan made it all the way to Warsaw without fossil fuels.

Good thing neither Genghis nor Warsaw are over her in North America, a several-thousand-mile trip over either ocean!

An no, I don't see the folks from South Am wanting to march North either.

If Mexico implodes we will need to guard the southern border well, but I think we can handle that w/o carrier battlegroups and stealth bombers.


60 percent of folks in Mexico have an immediate family member in the U.S. That border is an anachronism. If BAU keeps on we'll have NorAM (de facto, anyway), if we have a collapse, people will keep traipsing across that border as they have (in both directions) for generations.

Seeing the number of Americans that are moving here I fully expect to see all the Mexicans living in the USA and all the Americans living in Mexico ;)


My ex-boss built a house and retired down there, originally on an FM3 (planning to establish citizenship), after selling two houses in SoCal in 2007. Looked like a pretty sweet deal to me.

If you have any thoughts of staying down here go straight for the FM2, you need 5 years to get citizenship. If you go FM3 -> FM2 you are just wasting years. You have to fill in the forms on-line, for either, before taking them into the office, it's all pretty straightforward and you don't need to pay a bundle for someone to do it all for you. I'll have a house for sale next year if anyone is interested :)


He had a way to get faster citizenship thru descent.

Always handy. I have to go the long way round but I wish I'd known what I know now when I started. I'd have completed by now if I had and been avoiding certain other complexities that I am now faced with.


That is my take on things too. I see so many abandoned, vacant buildings here in Japan. Who will "take them over"???Who will want them, use them, maintain them, refurbish them, get any profit from them, or occupy them? Some are quite old and falling down. Some are newer and cement, not yet ruins. Block after block of vacant buildings. Who needs them? There is nothing to be gained from them in any way! So no need to take over the land!

Noone will be rich enough to deal with these except after a long period of time. During this time, the economic strength (based on the Sun this time) will pass from cities and towns and into the countryside, where it is still green and based on agriculture. There buildings will be maintained, of course much fewer. Slowly the populations there will stabilize and eventually they will need land. Looking around, they will see the vacant buildings, old wrecks of shops and houses and they will slowly carry off the building materials and make a field.

Energy travels in waves through the land. When oil and coal first impacted economies, the effects rippled out from cities as cities (the focus of the energy businesses) grew and spread, populations and buildings increased. No that wave has crested and is finished, to everyone's dismay!

The next wave is a much less powerful one, but it does not deplete. The next wave comes from the Sun and it spreads the other way, from the land and inward. It will gradually turn everything green. Where there is lots of cement, so heavy and difficult to move, the process could take upwards of 200 years! Lots of waste products need to be removed and this could take a long time.

But the Sun will keep on shining and that will bring certain energy to places that can use photosynthesis.

Energy travels in waves through the land. When oil and coal first impacted economies, the effects rippled out from cities as cities (the focus of the energy businesses) grew and spread, populations and buildings increased. No that wave has crested and is finished, to everyone's dismay! The next wave is a much less powerful one, but it does not deplete. The next wave comes from the Sun and it spreads the other way, from the land and inward. It will gradually turn everything green. Where there is lots of cement, so heavy and difficult to move, the process could take upwards of 200 years! Lots of waste products need to be removed and this could take a long time.

This is beautiful and wise.

Meanwhile, on the north slope of Alaska, Halliburton plans to frack oil, and use the acquired gas to power operations at Prudhoe. That bright idea will last about as long as our market economy, but it is amazing to me how terrifyingly rapacious the pairing of man's technology and the goal of wealth for a select few can be. The net negative conversions of energy at the end of empire serve only to increase the wealth gradient and trash the environment just a little more before we're done; one more example of overshoot.

Just like Heisenberg's MBA in the fisherman's tale, and Rockman's company, and Merill's nukes, we're going to drill it and burn it and explode it until we've trashed the ecosystem services and the food chain, until there's not much left to fall back on when we have to rely on solar alone again. Thanks, guys.

This is beautiful and wise.

Yes, and it is close to what I hope for. Multiple waves that propagate where there they can be built due to natural an cultural limitations, hydro power, nuclear power, wind and sea current power and solar power.

But don't fool yourself about nuclear power.

A country has to be very rich and have lots of oil for trucks, cars, bulldozers, etc. to build and maintain nuclear plants safely. Fukushima #1 had been scheduled to be shut down (I think this year or next year) but due to hard times, it had been decided to keep it open. Scrapping the nuclear plants safely takes a lot of money and oil. Mining and processing uranium takes a lot of money and oil. ALl the workers need to have cars that use oil.

Nuclear power isn't belonging in the same category as solar energy, and we can't say it is non-depleting. It is a kind of secondary manifestation of the tremendous energy density in oil, just because oil is used so intensively to build, maintain and fuel (through mining) nuclear power plants.

Nice try, though!!

I recommend you have a look at an article in today's NYT about Greece. Auto sales have stopped and people that own cars cannot afford to run them. DO you understand why that is? The Greeks are losing the economic fight to keep a supply of oil flowing to their country. Other countries are out-bidding the Greeks. Greece has always been a sparse and economically rather bare place (though very beautiful). Soon the Greeks will be in no position to build, run or operate nuclear power plants. Because there won't be enough energy to keep that kind of massively scaled project going.

Don't cry, though. A lot of the ways that people use electric power is simply a huge waste of time and brings no benefit---it even prevents them from being active.

I would just give up on nuclear power if I were you. The way you keep bringing it up even seems as if you were half trying to convince yourself, as if you didn't really believe it's so great either, but wished it were so.

So, why don't we build new reactors with greater safety measures and decommission the old ones?

Cost certainly does enter into it, but I'd argue that it is politically easier by a very large margin to keep a rustbucket, 40+ year old nuclear plant in service until it fails catastrophically than it is to build a brand new plant that incorporates all the safety lessons we have learned since 1960 and decommision the old one.

Certainly cleanup costs don't enter into the business cases I have seen for building new facilities to replace old ones.

It is not so much the age that concerns me but how early in the development cycle of nuclear power these were built in. They should have been superseded as 'prototypes' years ago. Also, the total lack of proper review and updating. The susceptibility of the pumps at Fukushima is a good example. Simple things such as hydrogen venting/inerting the internal atmosphere to avoid explosions, lack of dry risers to pump in water could so easily be retrofitted. Why are we running these museum pieces?


Todays nuclear power obviously dont use much oil since its electricity cost otherwise would have skyrocketed with the oil price, nobody gives away fossil fuel for free.

Why would all the workers need cars that use oil? Manny of the factories making parts for the Swedish nuclear powerplants in the 1970:s had bicycling workers since towns were and most still are dense, people can relocate, collective traffic is increasing and electrical cars are ok for many commutes. Manny of the workers who built the plants lived next to them in temporary or permanent housing during the building and some of those houses are still there and are used during revisions, I find it perfectly ok to house the welders, managers, etc within a few stone throws of the plant fence.

Mines can be electrified, heavy transports can be done with electrified railways, most of the industrial energy input is electricity and the liquid fuel needed for transportation and emergency diesels can use biofuels refined to storable diesel in slightly modified oil refineries and this is already being done by the local refiner Preem.

Nuclear power do indeed need liquid fuels and can be seen as a multiplier of a trickle of oil or fuel synthetisized from coal or biofuels into lots of electricity. Lots of electricity makes it possible to power transportation, mines, factories, recycling facilities, heat pumps etc and make hydrogen for nitrous fertilizer for making more biofuel.

And of course, those who has lots of hydro power, nuclear power or other electricity source with high capacity and reasonable running cost can probably outbid those who do not have it and get the oil, biofuels, food etc that is available on the world market...

I have very high hopes for nuclear power but regarding its as flawless is a dangerous mindset, nuclear power must be handled in the way shown in the exellent film "Into eternity" that describes the Finlandian and Swedish efforts for handling high level nuclear waste.

Another Remember, Remember the 5th of November

A year before 9/11/2001 happened in the USA, a ‘terrifying incident’ of a different sort happened in Europe that changed how political leaders across the world would forever understand the essential role oil resources played in the ‘developed nations.’

It started with a few angry French fishermen who found it harder and harder to make a living with the price of gas increasing, and blamed government taxation. They were so angry, they protested by blocking the English Channel, an entrance to a port, that prevented oil tankers from delivering fuel supplies...

Occupy Oakland...

Follow the path of reason, listening, grass-roots organization and effective communication and advocacy.

Peace out

I'm conflicted as to whether OWS should be peaceful or disorderly conducted. Here's why: Who has the time Ghandi and his followers had in this day and age to assemble millions of people regularly to finally get change? Then look at how fast Egypt got change from disorderly conduct in Tarfir Square. They changed that country very quickly.

Also, did Bush/Cheney listen or abide by the protestors against the Iraq War? No.

Are the OWS protests changing any policies? No.

Let's say some kid is bullying you and you keep turning the other cheek. Does he stop? No.

Get my drift. I don't advocate violence but without some disobedience there is no change. Disobedience causes conflict, but what is that conflict composed of - fear. People fear conflict and that which they fear has power. Power to force change. See, change isn't going to happen easily, but rather from something powerful enough to effect change.

Food for thought.

I hear your drift...

But...the U.S. is not Egypt...I think that wide-spread violence will get our real-life version of the Reclamation and High Chancellor Sutler, with plenty of 'Fingermen'.

Honestly, OWS could achieve much more much quicker by pooling their money and running a robust campaign to convince people of the wisdom of closing their accounts with the major banks and putting their money into local credit unions.

Also run grass-roots, net-enable campaigns for folks to adopt meatless Mondays, eschew fast food joints, start gardening, walk and bike more, etc.

How about a robust campaign to buy only U.S.-manufactured products?

Voting with one's wallet/pocketbook would be rather effective.

Voting with one's wallet/pocketbook would be rather effective

True. I have also been telling the same thing to people, but the usual counter-argument is that this will affect the economy, people will lose jobs. It's our desire to keep the system running which gives the people at the top the power to manipulate us. When you stop participating in the system you are free. You don't have to take take up guns or occupy anything, it may eventually come to that but to make a serious dent all you gotta do is to save enough for important stuff like food and remove all discretionary spending. How many HDTV's, cars and clothes do you need after all.

But the way media portrays things, gardening, bartering not buying fancy stuff etc are considered acts of lunacy.

My podner and I were musing the other evening about the contradiction of being thrift store and auction sale bottom feeders, trying to outfit our semi-homestead with as little shiny-new stuff and as much used stuff as we can justify.

We are delighted that one can "do so well" (save so much money and salve a bit of conscience) buying the castoff goods of the consumer culture for pennies on the dollar -- perfectly good clothing or furniture being sold super-cheap because it is no longer in style, or shows the slightest sign of wear. We feel a real thrill of achievement when we manage to meet our modest needs by scrounging and buying used.

And then we remember that the only reason for this thrift-store largesse -- this enormous ever-changing junkpile that we pick over in our role as creative, discerning scavengers -- is that the engines of industrial capitalism are unstoppable, chewing up resources 24x7, churning out More Stuff. They are producing and overproducing so insanely, so obscenely, that the more affluent have to be programmed and persuaded to buy more than they can possibly use and to discard it frequently. It's common knowledge that the Sally Anns and other thrift stores in wealthy n'hoods have the really cool stuff, because rich people throw away their high-quality goods on a regular basis. What happens though, when those rich people's wealth and lifestyle fizzles out with peak FF? What happens to the poor people, who can afford thrift store clothes today?

If the crazy engine stops spinning then the cascade of used durable goods will shut down. We won't have such tasty bones and scraps from the upper tables any more. What we realised with a qualm of anxiety is that our "survival skills" are still not producer skills. We are at present just consumers at one remove, opportunistic jackals scavenging at the feast of lions. I still think it's a better role than being primary consumers: we use stuff that might otherwise become landfill. At times we save some high-quality craftsmanship from destruction. But we're still clients of the robber baronage, just one level of indirection away from the trophy-home-dwellers. It's a big step from scrounging and scavenging to real bricolage, repurposing, refurbishing; and an even bigger step to actually producing stuff ourselves, for our own and others' benefit.

Anyway, just a thought for the day. The popular culture considers us "weird". And yet what we are doing is so tame compared to what needs to be done. Two years ago I was pleased to find a used bread machine for my podner. Today, as the refurbed machine starts to show signs of breakdown, I think that we should really be making slow-rise peasant bread by hand. It's really not that much more time or trouble. It would mean one less unmaintainable, unrepairable machine. I'm realising that "Used" isn't good enough any more. It's better than "New" but it's still, on average, Too Much...

I think you're doing as much for the 99% as the Occupy Movement folks, not to discount them at all.

The great thing about Thrift purchasing and Freecycle, yardsales,etc.. is that you ARE looking for items with actual quality, and looking for useful things without paying into the retail truck fleets. It may feel like 'betraying the economy', but I don't think so.

You aren't betraying the economy. Your money goes back into it, and if you're paying for local goods, your money is doing a lot more good than if you're feeding the streams of throwaway stuff at primary market prices. That machine won't reform unless and until it is starved out.

I took a heap of great quality, office-type clothing from my former consulting life to an "up-scale" resale shop some time back, and they refused to take any of it, because it was "out of style".

Turns out, they only want last year's or better designer labels. Apparently, even the resale clothing market has to keep up. Sheesh...

I ended up selling most of it online.

Rootless, you're filling an important new niche in a new successional model, that of recycling agent. There's lots of room for recyclers in a society in overshoot that has previously not recycled. Rockman's a pioneer species (see above); you're shade tolerant.

The forests, being an ecological system are subject to the species succession process. There are "opportunistic" or "pioneer" species that produce great quantity of seeds that are disseminated by the wind, and therefore can colonize big empty extensions, and they are capable to germinate and grow under direct sun exposition. Once they have produced a closed canopy, the lack of direct sun radiation at soil makes it difficult for their own seedlings to develop. It is then the opportunity for shade "tolerant" species to get established under the protection of pioneer. When these pioneers will die, the shade tolerants will replace them. The shade tolerant species are capable of growing under the canopy, and therefore, in the absence of catastrophes, will stay. For this reason it is said than the stand has reached its climax. When an important catastrophe will arrive, the opportunity for the pioneers will be open again, provided they are not absent at a reasonable range.

An example of pioneer species, in forests of northeastern North America are Betula papyrifera (White birch) and Prunus serotina (Black cherry), that are particularly well-adapted to exploit large gaps in forest canopies, but are intolerant of shade and are eventually replaced by other (shade-tolerant) species in the absence of disturbances that create such gaps.

Things in nature are usually neither white nor black, and there are intermediates. It is therefore normal that between the two extremes light/shade there is a gradation, and there are species that may act as pioneer or tolerant, depending on circumstances. It is of paramount importance to know the tolerance of species in order to practice an effective silviculture.


A mature society will pulse, with increased specialization, differentiation and diversity, complexity, with more energy being put into maintenance, replacement, and recycling. Mutualistic symbiosis will increase (reciprocity). There will be no net growth, or growth only to replace structures of value. A new premium on efficiency will develop, with a diversity of parallel units (redundancy-Mobus). A higher standard of living will develop in areas with a stable energy base (relocalization) and mixed utilization/interaction of renewable and non-renewable resources (higher and lower gain energy). Structures will be more permanent, and increased regulation will limit competition. Storage of information will increase. The system will be less productive, but more efficient. Cooperative specialization will become important to group survival.

But we've got to go through the steps of decay and invasion before we can reach this steady state nirvana. It will be a long road, because there are too many of us, and we live too high on the hog.

Iaato, as a permaculturist-in-the-making I am deeply attracted to your use of the successional model, and it does seem to resonate strongly with history of human cultures. For example, the imperial strain in human history is like kudzu or Scotch Broom -- imported into a defenceless ecosystem it multiplies like mad and takes over, displacing more stable plant communities. Humans introduced into "open" biomes do indeed act successional. Like fireweeds. Botany may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme?

Agree also that as BAU stumbles and sputters, the "informal economy" which is what I have been interacting with a lot in the last few weeks -- yard sales, small used-stuff stores, craigslist, kijiji, thrift/charity stores -- is going to expand further and further until it represents almost all of the functioning economy. I like the informal economy a whole lot better. My money stays within my local area. All good, but I still feel that need to go a step further and learn to transform primary goods into secondary goods my own self, not just trade and barter the irreproducible artifacts of a fallen civilisation...

Reduce, re-use, recycle... yes indeed. But also the fourth and perhaps most important R -- re-skill.

Peak Oil was first explained to me 50 years ago, as a story of succession, Rootless. It's a very understandable way to begin understanding about natural cycles. Greer has a nice explanation of the process of succession, linked below, and how it relates to PO. Someone who was ecoliterate probably sat him down and told him the same story. Succession is the process of systemic evolution over time from an energetic perspective. Our human system can be understood as an extension of the ecological food chain. It is the understanding of the hierarchy and how it builds over time through energy processing to create complexity that dictates how many levels we can have, and succession describes what happens when the energy slows down. The concept of succession got swiped by the population ecologists and mucked up, but the systems piece of succession still works and is directly applicable to our human problems (the second link). The theory got trashed because fossil fuels allowed globalization, which suggested that man was not subject to the laws of nature. But as fossil fuels wane and we rediscover our limits, the idea may regain traction (the third link). I guess the current crop of population ecologists is blinded ideologically by the same denial of limits to growth as everyone else?


I like the informal economy much better, too. I helped a friend find skis at a ski swap on Saturday. My pullets are from Craigs list. We share our skills widely with our friends. I donate time to the University in areas of my choosing that forward the sustainable meme, and withhold participation from those that don't. A sustainable group of folks interested in activism gathered at my house last night, eating fish we caught and potatoes and carrots that we grew. I've removed my money from the system at large and corporations, wherever possible. I am living how I choose and not how CogInTheWheel Corporation wants me to live. Relocation, redundancy, and reciprocity, the 3 Rs. It's time to get off the company bus and go our separate way. I go at my own pace and follow my passions. The pace is much more organic and natural, and I am much happier than I would be if I were trying to punch some time clock and fit into an exploding health care bubble.

Mr. and Mrs. H are watching 'V For Vendetta' presently.

I happened to see that just last night (just a coincidence that it fell on November 5th). I thought it could've driven home some nice points if it had focused on the philosophical and intellectual underpinnings instead of the comic book-style action. Oh well.

Seeing those Guy Fawkes masks everywhere these days does make me smile, though.

We have the DVD (my son, actually).

We watched the 'Making of V for Vendetta'.

The producer, director, etc. made it clear that they crafted a first version of the script which didn't make the cut, because it was judged as 'too dense'. They said that to do the graphic novel justice they would need the movies to be several hours long.

I have not read the graphic novel, but I think I will...I talked to folks who have, and they said that Evey was much more weak and pathetic in the novel, and that V was portrayed as fairly sadistic and closer to being insane than in the movie.

The 'making of; said the novel was made based on the Thacher 1980s UK and set in the 1990s, but the movie was set somewhat further in the future...I thought that it seemed to speak to the situation in the U.S. and was using the UK as a way to make the idea palatable to U.S. Americans.

This is usually how movies are...I read 2001, A Space Odyssey and watched the movie...the book almost inevitably has considerable;y more depth than the movie.

Close to being insane? I would say V definately were insane, an insane genius that embodied a plan for toppling a fascist regime.

A lot of the intrusive technology in the novel is now in massive use and it can easily be read as a society reacting to peak oil and economical mayhem.
The film updates the main treath to be about terrorists and a government protecting its people and of course itself.

I highly recommend both the graphic novel and the film.

Remember that future fascist wont call themselves fascists and they wont regard themselves as evil.

Re: "IEA draft outlook sees $212 oil in 2035"

You'd have thought they would have learnt the lesson and phrased it as "sees oil prices as at least $212 in 2035". That way when it's $212 by 2014, nobody laughs at them.

Mind, I do wish they would stop creating these silly 'scenarios' and instead concentrated on creating publicly available models, simulating how they expected prices/supply/etc would change. Much more useful, and much more amenable to correction.

That way when it's $212 by 2014, nobody laughs at them.

They are funded, meaning they do not have to do much to make a great wage. However, funding occurs with obvious expectations to provide positive scenarios. In this case they do so by setting a date so far off in most people's minds that it has a glass half full feel to it. Not only will oil still be traded in that year, but in the big picture of everything gradually going up in price, it sounds about right.

Here I'll try it. I project that in the year 2035 a loaf of bread will cost 8.50 - see it doesn't seem that bad.

Here I'll try it. I project that in the year 2035 a loaf of bread will cost 8.50 - see it doesn't seem that bad.

Until you add that this will be the equivalent of a full day's wages...

I'll give a personal example:

When I bought my 1st new car, back in 1993, 91octane unleaded was about US$1/gallon, and my Salary was X.

Today, my salary is 3X what it was back then.

- but -

91octane unleaded is currently about US$4/gallon where I fuel up.

- meaning -

Salary change: 3X
Fuel price change: 4X

- so -

Using that over simplistic, but I hope poignant personal example, am I improved (gee! I tripled my income), or reduced (my fuel expenses went up 4X, and other expenses have risen, but trying to just use my motor fuel as the example).

My feeling: reduced, but thanks to inflation, at 1st the thought always is: I make 3X what I used to.. how cool is that!


Implementing Instructions - Sustainable Locations for Federal Facilities - September 15, 2011

On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.” The E.O. states that “It is the policy of the United States that Federal agencies shall…design, construct, maintain, and operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations, and strengthen the vitality and livability of the communities in which Federal facilities are located.”

The Executive Order directs agencies to “advance regional and local integrated planning by...participating in regional transportation planning and recognizing existing community transportation infrastructure; ...ensuring that planning for new Federal facilities or new leases includes consideration of sites that are pedestrian friendly, reduce parking demand for single occupancy vehicles,promote walkable and bikeable sites, near existing employment centers, and accessible to public transit, and emphasizes existing central cities and (rural) town centers (Section 2(f)).”

Many Top U.S. Corporations Pay Little or No Taxes

A comprehensive study released on Thursday found that 280 of the biggest publicly traded American companies faced federal income tax bills equal to 18.5 percent of their profits during the last three years — little more than half the official corporate rate of 35 percent and lower than their competitors in many industrialized countries.

... The study said that the shelters and loopholes in the current tax system rewarded companies that aggressively avoided taxes at the expense of those that did not.

- Seventy-eight of the 280 companies paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2010.

- Thirty corporations paid less than nothing in aggregate federal
income taxes over the entire 2008-10 period.

2008-10 Effective Tax Rates & Total Tax Subsidies, by Industry

Industry & Company   - Oil,Gas & Pipelines  Utilities,Gas and Elec.
Effective Tax Rate   - 15.7%                3.7%
Total Tax Subsidies  - $ 24,182,000,000     $ 31,217,000,000
% of total Subsidies - 10.9%                14.0%

Report: http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

Darpa’s Plan to Trap the Next WikiLeaker: Decoy Documents

Darpa-funded researchers are building a program for “generating and distributing believable misinformation.” The ultimate goal is to plant auto-generated, bogus documents in classified networks and program them to track down intruders’ movements, a military research abstract reveals.

We want to flood adversaries with information that’s bogus, but looks real, ... “This will confound and misdirect them.” (You can make your own fake doc on the research lab’s website, too.)

If only they would spend this much effort to provide citizens with transparent REAL information

info at http://sneakers.cs.columbia.edu/ids/FOG/


and from the 'Big Brother', and 'Aiding & Abetting the Enemy' Dept. ...

CIA Analysts Comb Social Media For Trouble Spots

The group's effort gives the White House a daily snapshot of the world built from tweets, newspaper articles and Facebook updates.

... The agency's Open Source Center sometimes looks at 5 million tweets a day. The analysts are also checking out TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that people can access and contribute to openly.

Medium Voltage Vigilant Sensing System (VSSMV)

The user can monitor an area of interest indefinitely without having to run cables or replace batteries. The VSSMV can be made to look like standard power line equipment or a simple splice ...

Syria Crackdown Gets Italy Firm’s Aid With U.S.-Europe Spy Gear

'Third World' power outages plague US homes, firms

... In an annual report, Eaton, a multinational power management company, said power outages affected 17.5 million people in all 50 states last year when there were 3,419 separate power outages, up from 2,840 the year before.

The average blackout lasted four hours, but together all the outages added up to 156 days. California had the most incidents by far (508) followed by New York (176) and Texas (145).

Seoul roads to be repaved for radioactivity

Two sections of road in the South Korean capital Seoul are to be repaved after they were found to be radioactive, officials said Saturday.

Checks by the local authority found radiation levels 10 times higher than normal in two segments of the roadway, he said, but the amounts involved posed limited health risks.

Oklahoma Gets 10 Earthquakes in 24 Hours [21 in last 36 hrs]

Oklahoma residents are recovering Sunday after a series of earthquakes and aftershocks shook the state and were felt as far away as Wisconsin — an unusual experience for many more used to scanning the skies for natural disasters.

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake shook areas from Texas to Missouri early Saturday, and was followed by a magnitude 5.6 quake just before 11 p.m. The latter was the state’s strongest on record, according to reporting by the Associated Press. Since Saturday night, the area has been struck by no less than 10 smaller quakes, or aftershocks.

Oklahoma typically has about 50 earthquakes a year, and 57 tornadoes, but a burst of quakes east of Oklahoma City has contributed to a sharp increase. Researchers said 1,047 quakes shook Oklahoma last year, prompting them to install seismographs in the area. The reason for the increase isn't known, and Turner said there was no immediate explanation for the weekend spurt in seismic activity.

also http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57319367/5.6-quake-strikes-okla-10-a...

supposedly people felt here in a southern suburb city of kansas city when it happened about 11pm last night. i did not, neither did my mother.

Study warns of dust-storm dangers

An increasingly dry climate in the U.S. Southwest has led to accelerated migration of active sand dunes and reactivation of previously inactive dunes. In the Native lands of the Colorado Plateau, sand dunes and sand sheets cover one-third of the area. Migration of these dunes can threaten housing and roads...

Initial data from this study indicate that sand-dune migration rates are currently about 115 feet per year (35 m/yr

also http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3085/fs2011-3085.pdf

Air conditioning in the United States consumes close to 320 TWh of electricity each year, an amount roughly equal to that generated by the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia, combined. This might help trim that back a bit:

Salt-driven air conditioner looks to slash energy

BOSTON--Startup 7AC Technologies hopes saltwater and high-tech plastic will lead to a more efficient air conditioner.


By using a liquid dessicant to remove humidity from air, 7AC Technologies claims it can cut cooling costs by 50 percent to 75 percent and heating costs by about 50 percent. The company has a prototype in its lab and plans to beta test its efficient air conditioner with customers next spring, he said. Eventually, it intends to make a residential system, too, Vandermeulen said.

Traditional air conditioners run using a condenser, much like a refrigerator or heat pump, to remove moisture from the air to cool it. But there are a handful of companies, including Advantix Systems and ClimateWell, building air conditioners using dessicant materials in an effort to lower energy use.

See: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-57319061-54/salt-driven-air-conditione...


Then there is solar absorption cooling that uses no electric (OK maybe a little to run a pump and blower).


Most of US unemployed no longer receive benefits

... The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most unemployed Americans no longer are receiving jobless benefits.

Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent. Nearly one-third of America's 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

I think this explains the drop in gasoline demand this year over last year. The unemployed are slowly being pushed out of consuming oil. Consumer spending is up this year over the last -- being driven by the middle and upper classes.

New cars are getting better mileage too, though. Sure, SUVs and Trucks are being sold in large numbers, but they are getting marginally better mileage than a decade ago. And those of us who drive tiny cars make a dent in consumption as well.

The graph compares 2010 to 2011. I don't think efficiency gains explain it at all.

that's particularly depressing. i have been unemployed since may, applied to 118 positions since then. i have only had about 6 interviews counting initial phone ones.

i have been unemployed since may

I got laid off from a job for drilling rig machinery manufacturer in March 2009. Ten and half month later I managed to find work for an electronic manufacturer. I subsequently quit when I got recruited for better paying job. Now the company I'm working for is in financial trouble ....

Don't give up!

Arctic sea ice remains near historic minimum despite freeze-up

... Despite the creation of 44,360 square miles of new ice each day — adding floes nearly equal to the size of Ohio every 24 hours — the polar sea north of Alaska ended the month with the second smallest extent ever observed during the age of satellites, about 87,300 square miles larger than the all-time minimum record set in October 2007.

“Large areas of open water were still present in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas at the end of the month,” the NSIDC reported here. “The open water contributed to unusually warm conditions along the coast of Siberia and in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.”

and Methane and the Fierce Urgency of Now

... Skeptics will likely still claim for a while that global warming is not caused by us. They are wrong, but might soon be right: that is, if we let the arctic continue melting, and the methane stored in the Eastern Siberian shelf come out, the problem won't have much to do with us any longer, as even just a few percent of it would swamp all attempts to control warming, shifting the planet rapidly to a new state.

also http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

and Congress and White House differ over icebreakers

Huge iceberg forms in Antarctica

Scientists are monitoring the birth of a monster iceberg in West Antarctica.

A rift has formed in the shelf of floating ice in front of the Pine Island Glacier (PIG).

The surface crack in the PIG runs for almost 30km (20 miles), is 60m (200ft) deep and is growing every day.

US space agency (Nasa) researchers expect the eventual iceberg to cover about 880 sq km - an area the size of Berlin. It should break away towards the end of the year or early in 2012.

This is bad. Pine Island is one of those large chunks of frozen water that has a bad prognosis for melt. What will get it is sea water contacts. If this shelf ice goes, the water linewillmove so much close to Pine Island. And The push-back the shelf do to the glacier itself slow down glacier movement. This will advance the progress of the melt. A few Dm higher global sea levels is in the pot for this game. Bad news.

Not sure how bad this is, because an earlier report stated these shelves break off and refreeze on a regular basis. Even one of the scientists in dohboi's video link said these events occur on a regular basis.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a climate change denier (in fact quite the opposite), but there probably is some regular ice shelf discharge that takes place.

If it does break all the way off and start floating away, it will be a very large iceberg and a pretty big deal. Smaller chunks of course do break off all the time, but this sounds like it is unusually large.

In the video they describe it as a normal event, but this is unusually large, and they were lucky to be there when it happened. This was worse than a "snow fll every winter" event.

Israel’s Peres warns attack on Iran ‘closer’

Israeli President Shimon Peres warned Sunday that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely, days before a report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog on Iran’s nuclear program.

“The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option,” Peres told the Israel Hayom daily.
“We must stay calm and resist pressure so that we can consider every alternative,” he added.

also http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=142078049

Any thoughts on what the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) will do?

How much oil does China get from Iran?

The RealClimate article is pretty good.

"Here’s all you ever really need to know about CO2 emissions and climate:

•The peak warming is linearly proportional to the cumulative carbon emitted
•It doesn’t matter much how rapidly the carbon is emitted
•The warming you get when you stop emitting carbon is what you are stuck with for the next thousand years
•The climate recovers only slightly over the next ten thousand years
•At the mid-range of IPCC climate sensitivity, a trillion tonnes cumulative carbon gives you about 2C global mean warming above the pre-industrial temperature."

Trying to prevent Keystone XL really is a line in the (tar) sands, paraphrasing the author.

There are a few other things you need to know about CO2 emissions and climate:

Three countries account for most of the world's emissions of CO2 - The US, China, and India. The US signed the Kyoto Protocol, but Congress refused to ratify it. China and India ratified it but have no obligation to control CO2 emissions under it.

There was a record increase in CO2 emissions last year, and two countries accounted for most of it - the US and China. Most of their emissions are from coal burning power plants and industries.

Coal burning power plants in the US emit 50 times as much CO2 as oil sands plants in Canada.

The Keystone protests in the US appear to be an attempt by Americans to blame some other country for the problems the US has created for itself.

I would add one more thing to that. Emissions in the U.S. and the EU have both declined in the U.S. in the past 10 years, but have skyrocketed in Asia Pacific. Even if Western emissions went to zero, it would only take us back to 1994 levels of emissions and they would be increasing rapidly.

So my point is: I think this problem is largely out of our control. How do you rein in emissions from countries whose per capita emissions are a fraction of ours?

Biggest spike ever in global warming gases

WASHINGTON: Harmful carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels made their biggest ever annual jump in 2010, according to the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) latest world data released this week

China led the way with a spike of 212 million metric tonnes of carbon in 2010 over 2009, compared to 59 million metric tonnes more from the United States and 48 million metric tonnes more from India in the same period.

Large jumps in carbon emissions from burning coal and gas were visible in China, the United States and India, the world’s top three polluters, according to the data which was posted online this week by the Oak Ridge Lab. Significant spikes were also seen in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan

As an aside, emissions in the UK also went up by about 6%.

The fact that emissions are skyrocketing in China and India is, in large part, due to outsourcing, and avoidance of regulation by large corporations.

It is within our control to stop buying cheap imported goods, and start backing off globalization.

It would seem to me that it would be more beneficial (to Canadians) for Canada to build an interconnected east-west pipeline system across Canada, connecting Alberta to Pacific and Atlantic ports. It would boost the local economy and enable Alberta to ship oil to higher priced markets, and/or to Canada's East Coast, in the event of supply disruptions elsewhere (Eastern Canada is of course a big oil importer).

Since US Mid-continent refiners are in effect encouraging Canada to go away, on the order of about $15 billion per year, it would seem that a national pipeline pipeline system could be paid out with a year or less of higher cash flow.

It would boost the local economy and enable Alberta to ship oil to higher priced markets, and/or to Canada's East Coast, in the event of supply disruptions elsewhere (Eastern Canada is of course a big oil importer).

I agree 100%. The only glitch is that Canadian politics revolve around regional issues more so than ideology. It's a peculiarity that makes decision making in this country as messy and frustrating as anywhere else. As a result, what's in our best interest doesn't always translate into the reality on the ground.

If someone were offering me a $15 billion per year incentive to go away, I would probably go away. In fact, I would probably go away for only a billion dollars or so.

In any case, one would think that it would begin to dawn on consumers in Western and Eastern Canada that having access of a secure supply of domestic crude oil would probably be a good idea.

It has dawned on people in Canada that we would be better served by a secure supply of domestic crude. And American policy makers would be wise not to push the envelop too far on this question: our current prime minister is quite an astute and pragmatic strategist. Harper, much attuned to political instincts, will put the national interest first. He knows voters would be happy to see a strengthening of domestic sovereignty.

The pipelines to Eastern Canada which used to bring in imported oil are in the process of being reversed to bring in oil from Western Canada. Enbridge is applying to reverse its line from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. The intention is to supply Western oil to Montreal where Suncor has an oil refinery. Suncor also has an oil sands plant in Alberta. Connect the dots.

Environmentalists are protesting, of course, because they protest everything that isn't BAU. Presumably they'd prefer Easterners rely on much more environmentally sensitive Libyan oil.

Also, some of the environmentalist foot-dragging on oil projects has concealed interests:

Cash flow from U.S. to 'green' initiatives often hides private interests

Financial contributions sometimes thinly veiled attempts to help American industries gain unfair advantages over Canadian counterparts

Canadians need to be aware that the long arm of American interests is behind many of the so-called grassroots protests taking place in Western Canada.

That is, U.S.-based charitable foundations, which clearly have their own priorities, are contributing major dollars to Canadian environmental groups.

Not that I'm paranoid or anything, but I did do some network and telephone security work in the oil industry, where the competition routinely taps your telephones and watches your drilling rigs from the woods with binoculars. The industrial spies had their own professional association and held conferences where they traded secrets. How did we know? We hired them, too.

Drilling for oil in Greenland? Sounds serious. Even Hillary showed up for the party... Sounds like a disaster in the making:

The concerns of local fishermen aren’t different either, nor those of environmental activists. More than 20 vessels were drilling for oil off Greenland last summer, even physically moving ice bergs and trying to keep them away from the oil rigs. It was enough to raise alarm from Professor Rick Steiner, formerly of the University of Alaska, who’s been researching Arctic oil operations for 30 years.

Physically moving ice bergs??? What? I think we can honestly say that the easy oil done with. Onto destroying the rest of the planet.


You can move small icebergs with tugboats and icebreakers, and we used to do it, but there's not much hope for stopping one of the big ones. All the drillship can do is disconnect from the drillstring, pull up its anchors, and run for safety. Hopefully it can find the drillstring and reconnect again after the berg passes.

I don't hold out much hope for them finding much oil off Greenland. Companies I worked for did seismic in the area and decided not to bother with it. However, now that all the likely prospects in the Arctic have been drilled, companies are left with the unlikely ones.