Drumbeat: November 12, 2011

A New Era of Gunboat Diplomacy

It may seem strange in an era of cyberwarfare and drone attacks, but the newest front in the rivalry between the United States and China is a tropical sea, where the drive to tap rich offshore oil and gas reserves has set off a conflict akin to the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century.

The Obama administration first waded into the treacherous waters of the South China Sea last year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared, at a tense meeting of Asian countries in Hanoi, that the United States would join Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in resisting Beijing’s efforts to dominate the sea. China, predictably, was enraged by what it viewed as American meddling.

For all its echoes of the 1800s, not to mention the cold war, the showdown in the South China Sea augurs a new type of maritime conflict — one that is playing out from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic Ocean, where fuel-hungry economic powers, newly accessible undersea energy riches and even changes in the earth’s climate are conspiring to create a 21st-century contest for the seas.

Officials report diesel supplies short in Nebraska

(AP) LINCOLN, Neb. — Gasoline and diesel shortages at fuel terminals in the Upper Midwest have forced fuel truck drivers to sit in line for hours, waiting for fuel to arrive via pipeline.

Other truck drivers have seen diesel prices rise, nearing $4 a gallon in Nebraska and passing that in the Dakotas.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Dick Salem, president of Lincoln Trucking Lightning, told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/vaLoDK). "We went through three big-time shortages in the '70s, and it was never like this."

Diesel Shortage Continues

Truckers in western Canada are having to really plan ahead to figure out where to fill up with diesel, because of the shortage.

An owner/operator in the trucking industry says Canada is in need of a new, more modern refinery.

Saudi Aramco Said to Supply Europe Full Volumes of December Oil

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, will supply full volumes in December to customers in Europe, unchanged from this month, according to two refinery officials with knowledge of the matter.

Aramco offers extra supplies to Indian refinery

SINGAPORE: Saudi Aramco has offered an extra 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to Indian refiner MRPL for 2012, sources close to the talks said, nearly doubling supply just a month before an OPEC meeting that is expected to try to keep output quotas flat.

Malaysia: Long-term supply solution needed

“We must have some concrete plans to secure our future energy supply,” says an industry observer. “This is not about TNB or Petronas but the country as a whole.''

Power shortages on the way

SHANGHAI / BEIJING - The coming winter months may see nationwide power shortages, as the soaring cost of coal hits stockpiles, industry sources said.

China's top five thermal power generators are expected to post losses of as much as 35 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in their thermal generation businesses this year, according to Chinese media reports on Thursday.

Alaska Governor: Send our gas to Asia

The governor of Alaska is saying publicly what we've known for some time -- that his state's bonanza of natural gas is best shipped to Asia. Gov. Sean Parnell is asking oil companies that control Alaska's gas equivalent of 6 billion barrels of oil -- BP, Shell ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips -- to explore the details of shipping the largesse across the Pacific. Yet the companies continue to be slow off the mark, and may still have their eye stubbornly on the hopelessly glutted Lower 48 U.S. states, according to Rebecca Penty of the Calgary Herald.

Daniel Yergin - Energy Efficiency: The New "First Fuel"

The long-awaited first flight by the Dreamliner -- Boeing's new 787 -- demonstrated not only the most advanced jet liner in the sky. It also carried aloft a powerful idea -- the critical role of energy efficiency in carrying us to a better energy future.

Mexico reopens one Gulf port after bad weather

(Reuters) - Mexico reopened one of its three major oil-exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday as bad weather eased.

Yemen Shells Protesters; 16 Killed, 50 Injured

Yemeni forces killed 16 people and injured more than 50 when they shelled the southern city of Taiz to suppress anti-government demonstrators at Friday prayers, a protest activist said.

A nine-year-old child was among the dead, Taha Sharabi, who’s also a doctor at the al-Rawdah hospital, said today in a telephone interview. The shelling also killed four women and prompted a general strike in the city today, according to Ahmed al-Wafi, another protester.

Nigeria: 'Ghost worker' baby earned $150 a month

LAGOS, Nigeria — A newborn baby in Nigeria got added to a government payroll, earning about $150 a month for the last two or three years, a discovery indicative of the widespread corruption starving the oil-rich West African nation of much needed funds, authorities said.

The baby was one of many so-called "ghost workers" found to be getting salaries without performing a job, said Garba Gajam, the attorney general of Zamfara state located in Nigeria's arid and impoverished northwest.

Iraq: Agreement Made With Kurds on Oil Contracts

Iraq, home to the world’s fourth- largest oil reserves, has reached a tentative agreement on crude exploration and revenue with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, according to an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri Kamil al-Maliki.

As Oil Declines, Can We Fill Our Lives with Creative Energy Instead?

We have a problem — and the fixes cited by technological optimists don’t offer complete solutions. Simply finding a lot more oil is not an option. Global oil discoveries peaked in the middle 1960s. If this trend could be reversed by using technological advancements, there’s little doubt it would have been by now. The globe has been pretty thoroughly explored by petroleum geologists, and new finds typically don’t compare well in size to earlier ones.

Nuclear: why Britain is right and Germany wrong

For decades Britain seemed to have cornered the market in bad energy policy, but these days it has some stiff competition from Germany. Which is ironic, really. Germany has long been widely admired for setting world-leading growth in wind and solar, while Britain trailed near the bottom of the European league. But now Germany’s decision to ditch nuclear by 2022 will set back efforts to decarbonize its electricity supply by ten crucial years, and Britain’s support for nuclear renewal looks far more sensible. Yet Britain and Europe may end up paying for the German U-turn.

Pakistan plans purchase of two nuclear plants from China: Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to purchase two atomic power plants with a combined capacity of 2,000 MW from China despite concerns expressed by the West over nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

Analyst: bills rising due to overpriced renewables

SAN FRANCISCO—Dozens of renewable energy plants being built to meet California's tough global warming laws, including a major Spanish-owned solar plant in the Mojave Desert, are so overpriced they will increase consumers' energy bills for decades, according to the independent watchdog arm of the state's s utility regulator.

How far can solar go? A less-optimistic take.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how solar power is steadily getting cheaper, but there are still plenty of questions about just how cheap it can get — and whether it can ever get cheap enough to become a major energy source in the future. The International Energy Agency, for one, projects that solar could provide more than half of the world’s energy needs by 2060, but that assumes a huge drop in costs, to around 50 cents per watt installed. So is solar on that path? Here are a few reasons to be skeptical.

Driving the one-and-only electric Rolls-Royce

The Rolls-Royce 102EX is a fully electric plug-in version of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The only one like it in the world, it was built to gauge customer response to the very idea of an electric ultra-luxury sedan.

Chinese Study Says Dam Didn’t Affect Climate Change

BEIJING — A scientific study has found that the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, has not contributed to climate change, according to a report by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Greece turns to Iranian oil as default fears deter trade

(Reuters) - Greece is relying on Iran for most of its oil as traders pull the plug on supplies and banks refuse to provide financing for fear that Athens will default on its debt.

Traders said Greece has turned to Iran as the supplier of last resort despite rising pressure from Washington and Brussels to stifle trade as part of a campaign against Tehran's nuclear program.

The near paralysis of oil dealings with Greece, which has four refineries, shows how trade in Europe could stall due to a breakdown in trust caused by the euro zone debt crisis, which is threatening to spread to further countries.

Oil price flirts with $100 per barrel

NEW YORK – The price of oil is flirting with $100 per barrel for the first time since the summer, as fears fade that Europe's debt crisis will spread and trigger another recession.

Oil rigs hit record, US count down 10

The number of rigs drilling in the US fell by 10 this week as gas rigs continued a decline and oil rigs hit a record high, according to Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

Iran calls for OPEC cuts

TEHRAN/LONDON: OPEC president Iran threw down the gauntlet to the Gulf Arab oil producers yesterday, asking them to reduce output back to pre-Libya crisis volumes, making agreement on output policy at OPEC's December meeting more difficult. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of more than a third of the world's oil, meets on Dec 14 in Vienna, six months after its last gathering collapsed in acrimony and without a deal.

Will the “economic price” limit oil production?

In a widely-circulated article in September 2011, Chris Skrebowski, who runs a peak oil consulting firm and was editor of the Petroleum Review for eleven years until 2008, argued that there are two forms of oil peak. One is, or will be, caused directly by depletion – the oil is no longer in the ground in sufficient quantities for producers to be able to maintain production. The other is the economic oil peak, which he says is the “price at which oil becomes unaffordable to consume and therefore to produce.” He says that oil becomes unaffordable when the “cost of the supply exceeds the price economies can pay without destroying growth at a given point in time.” In other words, the unaffordable limit is passed when extra cost of the oil after a price increase captures all, or more, of the increase in income that the growth process seemed likely to deliver.

Americans are increasing energy use, report shows

A report released early this week by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy shows American energy consumption went up in 2010, as opposed to 2009, when energy consumption decreased.

Sobering Outlook from the IEA

Not all the important news is centered on Greece and Italy. The International Energy Agency, or IEA, this week released its World Energy Outlook. The IEA is not some wild-eyed "peak oil/global warming" fringe group. They are about as mainstream and staid a group as you are going to find.

China refinery to help market Kuwaiti oil

GUANGZHOU, China: The Chinese-Kuwaiti oil refinery project in this Asian nation will secure rapid refining and marketing of the Gulf nation's crude oil, said Kuwait's Consul General to Guangzhou, Abdulwahab Al-Saqer yesterday.

Hubbert's third prophecy

In light of recent events such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street I thought it would be pertinent to review Hubbert's Third Prophecy about the cultural crisis he expected. He wrote about it in the article entitled "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History". In case you are not familiar with Hubbert's first two prophecies, he predicted both the US and world oil peak very accurately.

Siberian Court Rejects $16B Claims Against BP

A Russian court Friday rejected two multi-billion dollar claims against BP PLC brought by minority shareholders in the U.K. oil major's Russian joint venture TNK-BP Holding.

Petrobras Profit Slides 26% on Currency, Higher Fuel Costs

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, said third-quarter profit fell 26 percent as government price controls prevented it from capitalizing on surging crude prices and fuel costs climbed.

Syria Suspended From Arab League for State’s Violence Against Protesters

Syria’s participation in the Arab League has been suspended for failing to halt violence against demonstrators as the regional bloc invites opposition leaders for talks next week over the future of the country.

The Arab League voted to suspend Syria’s participation in meetings with effect from Nov. 16 until it withdraws tanks from its cities, releases detained protesters and starts supervised talks with the opposition, the league said in a statement handed to reporters today in Cairo.

Syria uprising: Key events

Syria is turning increasingly violent as the crackdown on protests continues and an armed opposition emerges.

Canadian Gas Exports Threaten Energy Security

Natural gas has been hyped of late as a way to reduce carbon emissions and reliance on oil and coal in business-as-usual growth scenarios. Much of this speculation rests on new technology to produce gas from previously inaccessible shale reservoirs.

Governing politicians in British Columbia have been particularly receptive to the perceived gold mine that could result from developing shale gas in northeast British Columbia and constructing the Pacific Trail Pipeline so that gas may be exported to Asia via a new terminal in Kitimat. Does this make sense considering the longer term interests of Canadians?

Gas Drillers Invade Hunters’ Pennsylvania Paradise

STATE GAME LAND 59, Pa. — For those who have ever stalked deer, turkey and bear here in “God’s Country” in north central Pennsylvania, this hunting season is like no other.

For one thing, it is louder. The soundtrack of birds chirping, thorns scraping against a hunter’s brush pants and twigs crunching underfoot is now accompanied by the dull roar of compressor stations and the chugging of big trucks up these hills.

Findings Downplay Fracking as Cause of Water Contamination

Preliminary findings from a study on the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas development suggest no direct link to reports of groundwater contamination, the project leader at The University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute said Wednesday.

Fracking Firm Admits It Caused Earthquakes

Given that the geological structures found beneath the ground are the result of dynamic processes and not of intentional design, they are not always as stable as they could possibly be. In some cases, the disturbance caused by the injection of high pressure water jets designed to fracture rock could cause them to collapse. This is apparently what happened at a fracking site near Blackpool, in England. This is not simply the pet theory of some fringe environmental group trying to pin the blame for a natural phenomenon on a company performing operations that they vigorously object to. In fact, it was the fracking company itself, Cuadrilla Resources, who announced after an investigation that, “It is highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well did trigger a number of minor seismic events.”

Traders bet Keystone alternative will end US oil glut

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Within hours of news that a proposed Canada to Texas pipeline won't be built any time soon, oil traders were already betting on alternative ways to ship a glut of crude from the U.S. Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

Obama, jobs, and the Keystone XL pipeline

There are two possible explanations for the delay — politics or incompetence in the original review. “This is all about politics and keeping a radical constituency, opposed to any and all oil and gas development, in the president’s camp in 2012,” said Jack N. Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute. Kerri-Ann Jones, the State Department official overseeing the review, denied that. “This is not a political decision,” she said. Although President Obama had conspicuously announced that he could overrule State, she said “there was no effort to influence our decision.”

Pipeline from Canada Trickles Down to Georgia

Choosing between energy independence and energy security is like choosing between cherry pie and pie-in-the-sky: Only one is real. A 1,700-mile planned oil pipeline from Canada to Texas could bring security to this nation's oil supply, but environmental activists and (more recently) "Occupy" types pushing for pie-in-the-sky independence from fossil fuel energy are doing everything they can to deny Americans energy security.

IAEA reports unusual radiation in Europe

VIENNA — Very low levels of radiation, which are higher than normal but don’t seem to pose a health hazard, are being registered in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday.

The agency said the cause was not known but was not the result of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which spread radiation across the globe in March.

Virginia: Shaken Reactors Cleared

The twin North Anna nuclear reactors, located about 10 miles from the epicenter of the Aug. 23 earthquake, are safe to restart, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Friday.

Report Gives New Details of Chaos at Stricken Plant

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 was stuck in darkness, and everyone on site feared that the reactor core was damaged. It was the day after a huge earthquake and a towering tsunami devastated the plant, and the workers for Tokyo Electric Power Company knew they were the only hope for halting an unfolding nuclear disaster.

Obama administration circulated plan to revamp Energy Department and replace Secretary Chu

WASHINGTON — Top officials at the White House circulated a plan calling for the ouster of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other top Energy Department officials as the administration braced for a political storm brewing over the failing solar energy company Solyndra.

A Gold Rush of Subsidies in the Search for Clean Energy

WASHINGTON — Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on a former cattle ranch and gypsum mine, NRG Energy is building an engineering marvel: a compound of nearly a million solar panels that will produce enough electricity to power about 100,000 homes.

The project is also a marvel in another, less obvious way: Taxpayers and ratepayers are providing subsidies worth almost as much as the entire $1.6 billion cost of the project. Similar subsidy packages have been given to 15 other solar- and wind-power electric plants since 2009.

Peak oil narratives

In contrast with this kind of description, the narrative of the Oil Crash is much more gray. It is not black as it is sometimes said. The Oil Crash is not the end of humankind; not, at least, if we don't want it to be such. The oil crash is not the narrative of an apocalypse; but it really is a narrative of humiliation. Because it consists in accepting that human beings have limits, that for once it is impossible to win.

John Michael Greer: A gathering of the tribe

That evening is Speakers’ Dinner, and a bona fide fanboy moment for me. William Catton is there, of course, and I nervously approach him, say a little about how much Overshoot meant to me, and ask if he’d like a copy of my latest peak oil book, The Wealth of Nature. He graciously accepts, and then flummoxes me completely by offering me a copy of his new book Bottleneck. We talk for around a quarter of an hour. I do my best not to act like a 14-year-old Twilight fan who meets the actor that plays the sparkly vampire, but that’s basically how I feel the whole time; few books influenced me as powerfully as Overshoot, and anyone familiar with Catton’s ideas can find them easily enough right down at the foundations of most of mine.

Who will sound the peak oil alarm?

ASPO-USA was founded to sound the alarm on peak oil. But are they suited for the role of Paul Revere?

Don’t expect to hear that the age of cheap oil might be coming to an end in President Obama’s next State of the Union speech. Don’t expect Energy Secretary Steven Chu to announce gas rationing to begin in January so America can gradually prepare for more expensive oil. And don’t expect ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute or OPEC to apologize for cooking their books all these years and admit that it turns out they really can’t extract another 100, 50 or even 20 years of cheap oil. Sorry!

A unique insight into one of the greatest problems ever to face mankind

Peak Oil Personalities is a collection of biographical essays by some of those who have played - and continue to play - a crucial role in raising awareness about the impact of Peak Oil.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, a pioneering exponent of the Peak Oil concept and a founder of ASPO, it shows how the various contributors, many with direct experience in the oil industry, came to realise the importance of the issue for themselves and for society in general.

Personnel Profile: Chris Paine

It’s always been strange to me that peak oil is such a hard idea for people to wrap their minds around.

If you go to WikiLeaks, there’s even Saudi cables about overstating oil supplies by 40 percent. The oil companies will tell you that the sweet crude is no longer so sweet. There’s a lot more carbon in it, it takes a lot more electricity to refine it that it used to. We might begin to refine gasoline out of coal sands, but it’s all going to drive the price up. We don’t have all the cheap oil we used to have. I think the car companies now are demonstrating that they’re not just short-termers.

There’s also pressure from the military saying peak oil is real. We’ll need the oil for our navy and will not be providing it for your Escalade any longer. We shouldn’t be blowing it on ground transportation. Buckminster Fuller used to say the real value of gasoline is $1 million a gallon and we’re going to deplete this amazing resource in such stupid ways.

Australia: Government attacked for closing grain network

The State Government has been labelled short-sighted for wanting to shift from rail haulage to trucks to move grain from the Wheatbelt to port.

The Government has indicated it will close the Western Australia's Tier 3 line which runs through the Wheatbelt and is used to transport grain to Perth.

The Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas says a CSIRO study shows the price of oil is expected to rise to $8 a litre by 2018, making road haulage a very expensive option.

Smart Meters and Dumb Technocrats

According to StopSmartMeters.org, the Californian electric power company PG&E has started quietly removing and replacing its wireless smart meters, just as the company reaches the final phase of its deployment of them in California. The State's largest Investor Owned Utility (with the very symbolic anagram IOU) has reversed course, supposedly because so many electricity consumers are reporting health impacts they did not have with the old trusty, cheap and low energy analog versions. So-called smart meters are heavily touted but their biggest, most-important role is to instantly enable huge rises in tariffs at "bad" times of the day, week, month or year when electricity supplies are limited and expensive. Consumers, of course, are expected to rapidly cut their electricity use at those times and with 'smart' meters cannot pretend they didnt know their tariffs were going to rise.

Defense insiders: Sustainable communities are key to the future

Environmental studies professor David Orr has set out to turn the aging rust belt town of Oberlin, Ohio, into a laboratory for sustainability. In the process, he has drawn interest from unlikely places: Experts from the military and in national security see the Oberlin Project as a compelling plan to focus on vulnerabilities in the nation's food, energy, and socioeconomic systems. They and others, including leaders of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington research group, see it as a model that communities across the country could follow.

Imagining the post-industrial economy

Thus we can begin to imagine the Post-industrial economy as a kind of hybrid - just as our industrial economy is a hybrid, but one with different emphases. It will not consist entirely of exchanges of eggs and vegetables, nor will it consist entirely of people whose whole economic activity exists in the realm of a single job for which they are trained and on which they are wholly dependent. Instead, it may involve a complex mix of formal economy work to meet formal economy obligations, subsistence labor to provide for things unaffordable in the new economy, domestic labor to reduce expenses and provide excess of some material for sale, barter with neighbors for a complex mix of needs as yet unmet, and perhaps forays into the areas of money work not legitimized by society as a whole in the criminal or under-the-table economy.

The Climate Movement Temporarily Stops an Oil Sands Pipeline. Now They Need to Start Something

Give Bill McKibben and the thousands of other protesters who put their safety and freedom on the line in protest after protest against the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline: they won their battle.

Bill McKibben: “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World,” by Daniel Yergin

There’s been a huge boom in gas production from shale deposits in the Northeast, for instance (though a series of newspaper stories indicates that the drilling companies may be grossly overstating the size of their reserves). If Yergin is correct, it is all the more important that he tackle the implications for global warming. But he goes lightly on this. If we took declining supplies of conventional fossil fuel as a signal to make the rapid transition to renewable energy, we might be able to slow the onset of climate change. If, instead, we take them as a signal to seek out these unconventional supplies, then we may have very little chance.

Looking like a third world country.

"Power Envy"


Don in Maine

The new status symbol?

In Greenwich, Conn., some chilly residents shivered while their neighbors’ mega-units (the whole-house kind that kick on automatically and emit a sound hardly louder than a cat’s purr) powered not just furnaces, washers and dryers, garage doors and electric gates, “but the mood lighting on their trees,” Leslie McElwreath, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty there, said wonderingly, impressed by her neighbor’s generator prowess (and his spotlighted trees).

Indeed, in a town like Greenwich, where the accouterments of the high-end houses are super-sized, generator power is now a selling point, as home theaters, heated driveways and wine grottos were in years past, said Robert Bland, the brokerage manager of the Sotheby’s office in Greenwich.

I had no idea such generators even existed.

Here is a page of such products for all's reading pleasure!

whole-house backup generators


Heisenberg, Leanan,

sometimes it is a necessity more than a luxury.
In my case I hoked a gen-set up, because my wood-boiler was twice overheating (with a closed damper!) because of power outages. You cannot shut a 200 000 Btu wood-boiler down when it is in full burn mode! If no circulation pump is going for more than 10 min that thing starts making noise like a jet engine and steam comes from every air-vent in the system! You don't want to go near it!

Never happened since and we enjoyed hot showers (hot water from the wood boiler) even though the power was gone ones for almost a week (happens when you are living in the boonies and you are the last house on the line)


Every combustion process produces a lot of available energy, which is usually, but not necessarily just thrown away. But there are lots of possibilities for highly satisfactory thermal energy converters which would take any combustion source and turn a fair fraction of it into electricity. This can be done and should be done.

In my own case, I have the good luck to be able to use a small stirling engine which runs very happily on wood, and which generates about twice my steady state average over the year power of about 300 watts. So my plan is to put the stirling together with the PV to keep the batteries always up, and also use the stirling heat reject for space heat and hot water.

So far, so good. I will report all and everything, including any disasters, in a few months when I have supplanted mere hope with experience to talk about.

Hello Wimbi,

Where did your Sterling come from?

I have never had any luck sourcing them.



My stirling came from a warehouse where all the orphaned prototypes commune with the mice and spiders. Yes, I know, this is not a reliable source for the general public.

However, if you want to spend money on a stirling, you might get one that puts out a kilowatt from natural gas from.


But I dunno if they sell to individuals.

Hello Wimbi,

Thanks for the reply.

Methinks Microgen is not for me.

I am looking for something circa a 1910 water pumper to recharge my solar batteries using junk wood from around the property. Crude and clunky by today's standards would suit me fine.

I guess its just not in the cards.



Can't open a garage door without electricity? Since when to garage door openers not have a pull cord to manually open them?

Or are people in Greenwich Conn that out of touch that they don't know how to deal with a power outage?

A matter of perspective.

I would wager if you asked them why they can't deal with a power outage they would retort that they are equipped to deal with them very well!

I see it as a peek into a future where the chasm between the haves and have-nots continues to grow. Why wouldn't the inequality extend to the point where some have access to electricity while most do not?


Your question made me wonder what proportion of the worlds population had access to electricity now.

"Based on a detailed country-by-country database updated for this Outlook, we estimate that in 2009 the number of people without access to electricity was 1.4 billion or 20% of the world’s population. Some 85% of those people live in rural areas."

And for that peek into the 'most don't have' future, maybe look here?

" In Sub-Saharan Africa only 31% of the population has access to electricity today."

And for that peek into the 'most don't have' future, maybe look here?

" In Sub-Saharan Africa only 31% of the population has access to electricity today."

Especially if we start from the premise that electricity can only be delivered by a centralized power company which must distribute it through a grid. This is just another form of slavery! It is a paradigm that needs to change!
Here is a start.


SolarAid has microsolar and macrosolar programmes operating in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, with UK based education project, Sunny Schools, now underway. In the past we have also carried out installations in Uganda and South America.

We want to bring clean and renewable energy to as many of the world's poorest people as possible. However, in order to achieve this it is first important to establish a solid foundation of best practice and to refine our processes as we grow as an organisation. We will achieve this with internal expansion, and by concentrating efforts solely on Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

Can't open a garage door without electricity? Since when to garage door openers not have a pull cord to manually open them?

Our garage door is insulated and has metal facing on both sides. Once installed I tried one day to manually open it and had to put in a herculen effort to accomplish the task. Thank goodness for E.

This sounds like the springs are not properly set. Our double door is also metal facing over installation. I had to disconnect it from the chain drive on the opener and open/close it manually during a power outage last month. I'm not a big guy, but it was an easy one-hand operation both up and down.

Ditto on that...There's a giant spring at the top of your door that was supposed to be tensioned when installed - makes the door feel like a feather. The only problem with my door is that it doesn't have any handles (go figure), so getting a hold of it at first is a little tricky.

The springs do break however - if that happens the door does seem to weigh a ton. In our case, the motor couldn't raise the door any more.

Repairs aren't that expensive - the only trick is to know how to properly tension the thing to take up the weight.

Exactly. My stupid garage door won't open or close half the time (usually the kids junk is in front of the sensors, so I get impatient and just close it by hand.

These people are a bunch of pansies. Have a plan in place if you lose power. Some food, some water, what else do you need?! I've seen every episode of "Man vs Wild" and I'm pretty sure I could survive in the suburbs.

These are multi million dollar houses adding 2% for backup power is no big deal. Something the estate manager deals with.

True that. I read through the article. Sounds like a bunch of city dweller's and their weekend getaways.

I've lost power here several times over the years, always during summer tstorms. It stinks, but its always at night and the power is usually restored quickly (i'm in the city). I still wouldn't spend the money on a generator.

Where it gets cold the danger is worse than where it gets hot. You can have gas or oil, yet if your furnace is forced-air you're stuck without electricity. A few kilowatts would make all the difference.

When it comes to power, a "little bit" makes a big difference over "none".

My 2000 watt Honda generator worked just fine for a 12 hr. outage. Heating wasn't a concern, just the 'fridge some lights and my son's TV and computer. The Honda uses an inverter so electronics won't be damaged by voltage spikes. $1,000 USD.
I also have a 5Kw generator that could be used for space heaters if needed, and my RV in the driveway has a generator, 20gl. gas tank, stove, reefer, bath, etc.


We have a gas fireplace that we can use when the juice is off - it isn't enough to completely heat the house, but it does take the edge off. The problem with the thing is that it is one of those "ventless" designs, which actually doesn't have a flue and instead spews the exhaust into the room. As such, these models have an oxygen sensor, and they cut off if they burn off too much of the oxygen. They also give some people headaches (mainly because the combustion isn't as clean as for something like a gas stove). Which one could also use, I guess, but that doesn't have the oxygen sensor.

The problem with a generator, is that you would really want to wire it up to the furnace *before* the power goes out and when the weather is mild. A lot easier than waiting until you need it. For a whole-house generator, you have to compare the cost of the thing to the cost of staying at the house of a friend or in the worst case, staying at a hotel.

We were out for a couple of days once - the neighbors were idling their car in the driveway to charge a cellphone.

"..idling their car in the driveway to charge a cellphone."

Great example of the advantage of even a very small amount of Solar.. some very useful tools can work on truly minor amounts of electricity.

"Great example of the advantage of even a very small amount of Solar" Peachy keen, but it predicates that the cell phone network stays powered. Up here cell tower backups are 100lb tanks of propane dropped in by chopper. Not a system that's going to work for extended outages.

Don in Maine

Up here cell tower backups are 100lb tanks of propane dropped in by chopper.

Umm, why aren't those cell phone towers powered by solar to begin with? Oh, that might make the concept of extended outages irrelevant, I guess we wouldn't want that, right?

Sure, I get that, Don.. I only said 'Some very useful tools. If cell system is down, I could still keep my CB base and walkies going, or the FRS Cheapo Walkies.. the Short Wave (I'm not a Ham Op, just a listener at this point-) and so on.

I also have chargers already together to have Solar charge my Makita 14.4 batteries, plus have set up more than just tools that I can run with those useful battery packs.

Just saying I don't have to fire up the car to keep any of my little batteries going ad infinitum.

Unless a car battery is on its very last legs, and fixing to leave you stranded at the worst possible moment, there is noo need whatsoever to run the engine to use it to charge a cell phone once a day for a couple of weeks or longer.

The capacity of the car battery is huge compared to a cell phone battery.

Now it is a VERY GOOD idea to load test an older car battery at least every few of months when it is approachinng the end of the warranty period or older, and at any time the temperature is expected to change a lot either up or down;a battery which is just about done for often croaks on the first day of a hot or cold spell.

Modern cars start so easily that a battery that will keep the headlights on for less than two minutes, which essentially means the battery is ready to die a sudden death any minute, will usually start the engine.

You can perform a bare bones basic load test yourself by just turning on the headlights for five minutesat an appropriate time and place, and most auto parts stores offer free battery testing.

Eye Roll..

Really, I get it.

Sure, Charging ONE Cell Battery Once doesn't do much to a car battery.. so no, you really don't have to run the car.. for the first couple of recharges, and if the charging electronics are fairly efficient (ie, not an oversized inverter and most standard Battery Charging tech) , you could also charge my Makita off the car as well.. but as Handy as it is, you are increasingly aware that this is a THIN backup plan.. and you have to lug that car around, or the battery.. so unlike the weensy little, say 2 to 10 watt Solar Panel, which will recharge your little stuff daily for decades, right?.. you are faced with a few inconveniences under that plan. Couldn't do much away from the roads.. couldn't run for a few days out of a backpack..

I'm JUST sayin'.. that having a 1/4 pound to 5 pound little waterproof slab that can reliably charge a wide range of little tools and such is a pretty versatile way to keep access to lighting, to communications, to sensors and control circuits, to motors, etc..

Not necessarily city dwellers but city workers with the Greenwich / Darien, CT area being the bedroom community. A very high percentage of those who work in the financial "industry" call that part of CT home.

In effect they are installing their fancy generators on the taxpayer's bail-out dime.

Yes, they produce a nice loud hum to alert all those that are starving, not to mention the organized mobs, to where the food and fun is.

I sure hope they have a defensive plan in place when they fire up those generators and lite up the dark night with bright lights and loud music.

Many of those that are preparing for the end of the fossil fuel era are forgetting the most important point, beyond food, water, shelter - protection

Those transition communities will be all proud and happy until the hoards come-a-knocking. So, think like a person that lives in a bad neighborhood and be prepared to guard those precious assets with deadly force. The instinct to survive is far more powerful than the desire for social harmony.

Tanking, a few years ago there was a lot of discussion on this list about protection. I was one of those stressing that the survivors should arm themselves to the teeth, in order to continue to be among the survivors. Most others on the list however would not hear of it. Most of them believed in the brotherhood of man and everyone would live in happy harmony, no marauding hoards, just people trying to get by and lending a helping hand to everyone else.

I gave up all hope and have seldom discuss the subject anymore. People believe to be true what they desire to be true, or at least the vast majority of them do.

Ron P.

Ron, I think a lot of folks who used to post frequently, especially on subjects like prepping, might have just taken a more prudent course and have just lowered their visibility. Any thinking person can take a quick look around and realize that while all this chattering and debate may be entertaining it will accomplish next to nothing. So not only do the deck chairs get moved, there is this debate over where they should go. Really. A lot more going on in the back hollows than we see on TOD and probably a
very prudent choice.

Don in Maine

I don't think that was the reaction at all. Sure, a few people have an ecotopia view of the future, but most are more pragmatic. Some think people won't be able to travel very far without cheap oil. Others think it's simply not possible to hold off a huge mass of people, no matter how many guns you have, so that's not the tactic to take. Still others don't think there will be mobs. After all, there are stark differences between the haves and have-nots in many countries, and people accept it as the natural way of things.

Me, I've always suspected that the future will not be ecotopia or Mad Max, but rather, the US becoming more and more like a third world country. Rich people in gated communities with their wind turbines and solar panels, poor people outside, living in shantytowns and slums.

Me, I've always suspected that the future will not be ecotopia or Mad Max, but rather, the US becoming more and more like a third world country. Rich people in gated communities with their wind turbines and solar panels, poor people outside, living in shantytowns and slums.

Well that might be the case if we only collapse very, very slowly with the collapse lasting 100 years or so. That way the die-off will be so slow no one will notice. Orlov has stated this is what he expects because this is what happened in Russia. Of course Russian collapse was not total, they only had a decade or two of "very hard times". But if those hard times had continued for another 70 or 80 years, then we would have seen, in Russia, the kind of society you predict above.

When things happen slowly enough, no one notices. They just accept this as the new business as usual. That is why you don't see food riots in desperately poor countries. That is the only life they have ever known and they just accept it as the lot they must live with. Only the newly disenfranchised riot and loot because of their sudden misfortune.

And that Leanan is why, if we have a sudden collapse, over a decade or less, then your scenario will not happen. People who have lived in times of plenty will not go gently into that good night of starvation and misery. They will rage and riot at first then they will take any measure necessary to keep themselves and their families alive. After all who, when looking into the eyes of their starving child, would not take desperate measures to ease that child's hunger.

Ron P.

Another factor for why the Russian collapse was not complete is that during that period they had a functioning planet around them to be supported by, one way or another.

People don't always behave badly in emergencies.

The Max Max expectation is widely held but not what seems to happen in reality -- in general.

I've always thought that catabolic collapse was our most likely fate. Even Easter Island did not collapse in a decade. Recent events have supported this view. A lot of bad things going on, many of which were catastrophic for individuals, but for society as a whole, it still looks like business as usual. Some here predicted that TEOTWAWKI would be obvious by the beginning of 2010. Instead, the Super Bowl was far bigger news than peak oil...as usual.

One thing Greer doesn't emphasize enough, IMO, is that it's not all stair steps down. There are stair steps up as well, enough so people don't notice the overall trend.

I've never been a pacifist to speak of; but any plan which involves holding off starving mobs with a shotgun strikes me as sub-optimal.

It's a bit off topic here, but I believe Greenish has coined a new word that has a very good chance of becoming a permanent part of the language.

Let's make sure he gets credit for it!

The word is "inkplot" which is a play on inkblot, meaning the well known old inkblot psychology test.

In essence , it defines a type of written communication wherein the author is able to put together a plausible (or perhaps not so plausible, depending on his abilities and the materials at hand) scenario, indicating that some happening or event is the result of a conspiracy-whereas the event or happening is simply due to the accidental convergence of circumstances, and in fact no conspiracy exists.

I found no entry for it in the first four dictionaries I checked.


Tanking, don't disturb the children. Let them dream.

Just make sure you are not in their neighborhood when you hear the Kazoo playing:

Early 21st Century Suburban American Fife and Drums Corps

Some folks are stuck in dreams, sure.. and others are similarly stuck in nightmares.

Best Luck at getting unstuck altogether..

Jo, the nightmares have always been there and always will be there - mostly for other peoples of course.

We here in the land of Fat and Happy have been immune from most of those nightmares for a very, very long time - those nightmares were other-peoples-problems.

While riding up to, and on top of, the Peak of Production the past few years, people seemed to breath a sigh of relief - all those nightmares that were predicted did not happen - so of course the will Never happen.

Everyone got used to the cracking of the ice under our feet - it did not break yet, so it will never break! The cracking sounds and the shifts in the ice became background noise - we just keep 4-wheeling further onto the thawing lake, getting ready to put in more tip-ups (there are plenty of fish dammit!).

But This Decade brings the Real Declines ... or not, says All-Liquid Vapor-Breathers (whose petri dish-worlds are tidy and carefully managed).

Now we will see how those in the land of Fat and Happy cope.

So far it does not look good. So far it looks like the Fat and Happy are going mentally AWOL (e.g. OWS tantrums). They demand things they cannot have - retirement, and universal health care, free milk and cookies, etc.

The nightmare is just barely starting. I hope the land of fat and happy has it as easy as the USSR did - but somehow I doubt that will be the case.

Pleasant dreams !

Uh huh.

Always the extremes.. if it isn't white it's black. Who's dreaming?

jokuhl, I get your point. There are gradations. There are different places with different setups. The places which are already deeply involved with agriculture (especially less oil dependent methods) might get away. But for how long? The people in the messed up places (like big cities) will move on to look for anything to eat... and they will eventually find you, whether you're in a transition town or a powerful armed mansion powered by windmills and solar panels or a cabin in the woods. So its just a matter of who lasts longer. As Ron put it clearly, if its people who are already used to deprivation, they'd be fine. But we're talking about people who throw money at McDonalds and throw away a lot of food as well.

Fundamentally, we can't do anything about the laws of physics. Remember, the net energy curve and the population collapse die-off curve. Both look very similar.

Might be "city mouse/country mouse but higher population densities have a wider range of services available, say roaming to another cell provider when you don't have service from your own as compared to one provider and no service when they are down. So black and white becomes much different when you are in a city, options are more available at least initially. I think it might engender a more "optimistic" extreme as compared to a location where only basic services are available as the norm.

In the city, if one store is out of milk you just pedal to the next, different if that store is 25 miles away. Your definition of "extremes" is highly situational. I would hazard a guess that larger population bases, with more services and options readily available normally breeds a false sense of abundance which in reality can disappear quite rapidly and personally I expect to live to see it.

Don in Maine

The CEO of Connecticut Light & Power had an interesting comment a few days ago (discussing the slow pace of getting the grid back up). He said that he too had no power, not because the neighborhood had no power, which was the case, but because his generator had failed. I thought it interesting that the CEO of the local utility has a back-up generator.

As Alan Drake has pointed out, if Texas doesn't get some serious rain, back-up generators are going to be selling very well in Texas, because of insufficient water in cooling ponds for power plants.

In the US, cost of generator is not a big deal for someone who already owns a home. A few years ago we added a natural gas powered automatic backup generator that covers the whole house except AC and a couple of rooms. It cost just $5000 with installation. I heard the price is lower now.

Not sure why a generator would be a status symbol; costs a lot less than a car.

We have a small portable generator (a Yamaha EF2400iS) with an integrated inverter that provides "clean" utility-grade power. We wired our home with a couple of dedicated circuits that supply backup power to certain critical loads. So, for example, when we lose power I can unplug our boiler from its mains supply and plug it into the orange coloured outlet next to it. Ditto the refrigerators, PBX, our laptops and a couple of LED-equipped table lamps. Total cost: under $2,000.00.


It depends how much backup power you need - in my case I use a deep discharge marine battery and a sine wave inverter into which I can plug the gas central heating and low wattage lights - don't open any fridge doors and you should be ok for a few hours at least. Total cost £300.

True, but we were without service for almost a week after Hurricane Juan and would have lost all of our frozen food after day two or three (our neighbours further down the street were without power for two weeks). Our oil-fired burner, two circulation pumps (one feeds the DHW cylinder and the other the space heating zones) and Tekmar control system draw about 350-watts, and when it's -25°C and the winds are gusting to 70 and 80 kph keeping the heat on is priority one. We typically lose power two to three times a year for four or more hours at a stretch and so a backup source of electricity is helpful, particularly at times of severe weather.


we were without service for almost a week after Hurricane Juan and would have lost all of our frozen food after day two or three

Would a DIY project like this have been able to help keep the fridge running for extended periods and kept the food from spoiling?

How to Build a Solar Generator on Wheels (Video)

Steven of Tiny House Listings has the perfect solution—a small-scale solar generator on wheels. Consisting of two 80 watt solar panels, a marine deep cycle battery, and an inverter, the system is—he says—enough to power a small microwave, TV, laptop, or even some power tools.


It's possible, but our lot is heavily shaded and so it would be difficult to get more than a few hours of direct sun. We only run the generator when absolutely necessary and at that we try to minimize its runtime to conserve fuel. Our primary concern is heat and hot water during the winter months (ThinkPads and Blackberrys are nice but not necessities, and we're well stocked with flash lights, candles and spare batteries); an ice storm that knocks out power for one or more weeks can prove disastrous, and having gone through that experience once, I swore never again. I'm hyper-paranoid about this, which explains why our home has four independently operated heating systems that span three fuel types (two heat pumps, in-floor electric radiant heat, an oil-fired boiler and four propane fireplaces).


Paul, why when the power is out and temperature is well below freezing dont you put the frozen food in cardboard boxes and put them outside or in a cold garage?

My unheated back porch works fine for those times in winter when the electricity is off long enough to worry about frozen or refrigerated food.

It is summer black outs that are times for cooking up everything that wont keep. Or the luxury of a back-up power.

Hi beatnikess,

When Hurricane Juan hit the days that followed were unusually mild... our daily highs were in the range of 20 to 25°C if I recall correctly. During the winter months, I can fill two-litre pop bottles with water, let them freeze overnight on the back steps, then pop them into the refrigerator if need be (foods would still thaw, but they'd remain well below room temperature).

Again, our primary concern is that we don't lose heat during the dead of winter. If it looks like service won't be restored within two to three hours, we'll switch things over to our oil-fired boiler, but that requires a reliable source of back-up power (about 350 watts in our case); without a generator, that's a pretty tall order.


Hello Paul,

Have you tried using a salt water mixture in those soda bottles. With the right amount of salt, you should be able to depress the freeze/thaw temperature by several degrees C.

No, I haven't, but that's a good suggestion; thanks. I use to take advantage of this "free" coolth years ago, or so I thought, but eventually decided that it wasn't worth the effort after taking into consideration the added space heating costs, i.e., placing cold objects such as this in your refrigerator will ultimately transfer this coolth into the living space.


I've mentioned it before but worth repeating as people are on the subject. Best place to start for your mixture is here


For my freezer buffer I use 150g/L of common salt in water, gives a buffer at around -9C or -10C.


I would agree, that avoiding frozen pipes is the big deal. That can be a lot more costly than having some food spoil.

Apart from the energy lost going in and out of the porch? Might be a good idea for the bulk freezer. The freezing days of the winter meant defrost and clean the freezer for my parents, as the food could be put in the porch, not enough contiguous days to make it usable for storage though.


It’s amazing to me that water heating systems don’t come equipped with heat driven water pumps.

An easy one to make is a parallel little boiler, with an inlet check valve and a spring loaded exit nozzle, so that when the temperature builds up pressure, the exit valve pops open and hot water/steam squirts out to drive the jet water circulating pump.

This thing works intermittently with small spasms of rattling noises as the steam hits the cooler pumped water.

The one I made pumps plenty of water to keep the heating system happy. It can work in series with a conventional electric pump.

Gadgetmeister Wimbi, you certainly come up with some interesting gadgets. Do you have a central resource page for these?


My software son tells me I really ought to spend the time to put all this stuff in an available space, instead of just scattered around all over the living room. Sigh! Does he have time? No. Does anyone know of a beautiful young radcliffe english major who could volunteer to do it? No. What's the world coming to?

I'm stuck. How sad. Now, what did I get up for to do?

When I lived in Caroline County , Va some years ago, we lost our electricity for over a week due to a bad ice storm, as we were in one of the very last nieghborhoods to get the juice back on.

I know somebody in Bedford ,Va who lost service three times for two days or longer in three months due to a series of storms a few years back.

Suprisingly enough, now that I am back home in the mountians, power outages that last more than a few hours are very rare.

The ones in central Va have mostly to do with pine trees and freezing rain, which simply don't mix well with overhead lines in my experience.If you live in an area with that one two combination, expect problems!

We have two GOOD generators-a faithful old 3000 watt Kawasaki that we use for repairs and maintainence,which is more than adequate to keep our two large refrigerators and three feeezers properly chilled, if we are diligent about moving it from any two of the five to the next pair every four to six hours.

Anyone who is intending to buy a small backup generator will buy a major Japanese make if he has good sense-trust me on this, I work on this sort of equipment quite often.

The problem with the Kawasaki is that it will not drive the deep well pump, it lacks the necessary muscle to get it started.

Anybody who can afford a big generator and is interested in self sufficiency should buy a commercial quality gasoline fueled welder;there are several good makes, but I will never personally buy anything other than a Miller, unless it happens to be a second hand bargain.Expect to spend at least four grand, but this gets you a machine with the guts to last many thousands of hours with no more than simple routine maintainence.

And if you care to put in the practice time, you can learn to repair everything but broken hearts and the crack of dawn with it. ;)

OFM, you are right about getting a good generator, you do get what you pay for.

I recently picked up an old Onan 6.5KW which was literally ripped out of an old motorhome for $400. I mounted it on a nursery cart and put a 21 gallon gas tank on top.

On it's last use, it ran continually for 45 hours on 20 gallons. My welder (8KW) uses twice that amount of gas.

We have a 1kWh UPS, which we'll use for the fridge, laptops, cell phones & LED lamps.

We'll recharge it from the car, and not open the fridge much.

Our windows are quadruple glazed, so we don't need heat down to freezing.

Quadruple glazed. I was thinking I was crazy with triple galzed low+argon windows. Where do you get does? Note, that I have some doubt about the EROI of those things.

We started with double glazed thermopanes, and added laminated glass (2 layers of glass, one layer of plastic).

We used 3/18" on movable glass, and 1/2" on fixed windows.

It worked very well: reduced both sound and heat transmission. Worth every penny.

"Looking like a third world country."

Except this involves a pile of industrially-dependent/crippled rich people with their hands stuck in the jar, refusing to release the banana (at least they can run off to cape cod... provided they can get gas for their hummer...).

I wonder if rich, industrialized peoples turn to cannibalism faster than real people.

Here's an interesting quote from the article: “A fridge is about 700 watts,” Mr. Kelsey said.

Depends on your refrigerator I suppose. I checked mine a few weeks ago and it draws about 220 watts when running, and only runs about 10% of the time.

Hi Breadman,

Almost all household refrigerators sold today are auto-defrost and the defrosting elements that cycle on three or four times daily generally draw 600 to 700-watts (e.g., http://www.amazon.com/WR51X10055-Refrigerator-Defrost-Heater-Assembly/dp...).


The only thing you can do that makes sense is to use a Kill-A-Watt to measure the usage over the period of several days or even weeks so you can get a true sense of overall consumption.

All-in-all, the newer fridges supposedly use a lot less than fridges that are 10 years old. If you believe the stickers on the inside, you can get something that draws < 500kWh/yr.

We had company over the weekend, and they told us about how they got a deal on a Sub-Zero - one of those things that seem to be popular in trophy kitchens. I just don't get the appeal of the things, but I don't get the appeal of granite countertops either.

I think those stickers are rated for an average American climate and the controls set at normal. The normal position does not keep temperatures down to those recommended for storing food though. With controls set to give the correct temperatures and a tropical climate my Kill-A-Watt reckons on about 1.2-1.5 kW/day. I'm probably going to take a second look at putting more insulation on it.


I used my Kill-a-watt meter on the old refrigerator for about a week, and it used about half as much energy as the yellow label said it would!!!

Based on my limited knowledge of refrigerators, the big improvement in efficiency was in the early 1980s, in response to the US federal standards passed during the Carter Administration, and apparently there has not been much improvement since then.

I looked at so called Energy Star refrigerators a few years ago, and according to the yellow stickers, they use just as much electricity as the 28 year old one sitting in my kitchen. I've checked the energy use of my old refrigerator several times over the past three years, and unless my Kill-a-watt meter is giving me bad results, a new refrigerator would not be any better then the old one.

Appliance salesmen will apparently say anything to make a sale, but I have more confidence in my Kill-a-watt meter than I do in the typical appliance salesman.

Some seem to have insulation that is a little thicker and maybe a slightly higher insulation factor (I was having a good look around when I needed a replacement) but I am wondering if part of the 'cough' improvement is from the 'normal' setting on the thermostats being high. Mine was certainly nowhere near the recommended temperatures for food storage. I've been looking for a freezer but the only brand available is Frigidaire. There used to be 2 or 3 brands but there seems to be only the one now. When I press the inside lid panel it goes almost to the top of the lid. I tried getting into one without success but I had a glimpse of some fibre insulation in another. I can't imagine that doing anything other than becoming a pure block of ice in our humid climate.


I used my Kill-a-watt meter on the old refrigerator for about a week, and it used about half as much energy as the yellow label said it would!!!

That's probably because of the inaccuracy of the Kill-A-Watt. I have checked mine in tandem with a real electric meter and found so much error I don't trust it at all anymore.

I've used my Kill-A-Watt meter on several other small appliances and the numbers look OK compared to the stated heating capacities of the appliances. I've used it on small space heaters, slow cookers, a vegetable steamer, hair dryers, Fluorescent lights, HID lights, etc., and the results are always within 5% of the stated capacity, and are sometimes a little above and sometimes a little below.

Besides that, I'm not looking for absolute accuracy. In most cases all I need is a good comparison, such as before and after a change.

BTW, now that many electric utilities are installing the so called smart meters, their old utility meters should be available (somewhere) for a song. I've been looking for something that will meter typical electric water heater and restaurant appliances, so this could be my chance to pick up some utility grade meters for low prices. If I remember right, the utility grade meters are supposed to be plus or minus 0.5% accurate, n'est-ce pas?

This listing is for used Westinghouse Watthour Meters that we purchased from a local municipality that converted all thier meters to radio meters.

At $20 each & free shipping, this looks like what you are looking for. Too bad $35-$55 for the mounting boxes. I just mounted one of mine on 2 pieces of plywood (back & bottom). There are holes in the tabs which makes lugs & screws easy enough.


Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking of. Thanks for the tip. Many small businesses could use these for sub-metering of major appliances in a building, such as restaurants, etc.

And sometimes it is possible to get the meter boxes off old buildings before they are demolished.

The cheapest price I could find a few years ago was about $300 each for a model that used odometer type readout.

Most small businesses will still need to pay an electrician to install these meters, but many of the independent electricians around here are hungry for work and have dropped their labor rates.

Hello Paul,

My refrigerator was advertised as a "frost free" refrigerator. I don't know if that is the same as auto defrost, but it only uses about half as much electricity as the yellow sticker (from 1983) said it would. I've been puzzled by that for years, but it is obviously not something to complain about.

Ditto here. Our two refrigerators use one-third to one-half less energy than their EnerGuide ratings (476 kWh/year). I'm guessing that's because our kitchen is quite a bit cooler than what is specified in the testing procedures (as you would expect, they don't have to work nearly as hard at 15°C as they do at 25°C or 32°C). We're also pretty good about minimizing door openings and letting hot foods cool down before putting them into the fridge.


As with you two, (and reminded by Paul's nudge a week ago,) I just took a week's readings from my Kill-a-watt of our Maytag 19cuft Fridge over Freezer, and it comes out at 1.15kwh/day over the last 6 days at about 62 deg F ambient temp in the pantry. 7.5kwh in 6.5 days..

Counting at some .16/kwh, that makes this fridge cost us about $68/yr. (though the summertime daily avg is going to be higher.. later into the winter, it might also be getting lower, too)

I think the math in the Richard Douthwaite's article is wrong. Shouldn't it read that 1 barrel of oil = 450 weeks of human work? Mmmm, that's almost 9 years. So human energy will not be the replacement for oil

My first reaction is that beasts of burden will be very valuable as oil continues it's climb. I've known for a while that a man's worth was once measured by the number of animals he had. This calculation really drives that home for me.

My second reaction relates to building and monument construction before the "oil age". Explains why stone buildings were so primitive. It also makes me think twice about the pyramids. Oil would reduce them from "wonders" to just "big". And, even with animals, the number of slaves required had to be massive. No wonder it took years to build monuments and that kings who built monuments were recognized as powerful.

I did a search with the Find button on "Richard", then "Douthwaite" and got zip. Folks when you are referring to a link up top could you please give us the title of the article so we can readily access the article?

I found the article as I was making my way from top to bottom reading each article. It was Will the “economic price” limit oil production? by Richard Douthwaite. But yes you are right, the numbers he gave are wrong.

The use of oil makes these supply activities very much more productive. A litre of petrol contains the energy equivalent of 8.9 kwh. A normally-fit man can deliver about 75 watts an hour, giving him a total energy output of 3 kwh in the course of a 40-hour week. In other words, a litre of petrol has the same production potential as three weeks’ hard manual work. This makes oil extraordinarily valuable and its use will not be given up easily, particularly as, since a barrel of oil contains 150 litres. $100 seems far too little to pay for the equivalent of 450 hours of human work.

If one liter equals three weeks of work then 150 liters would equal 450 weeks of work, not 450 hours.

Ron P.

Usually I say that a day of VERY hard work worth 0,1 liter or 1 kWh. This means the 1 barel of oil is equal to 5 years of VERY hard work.

Not to take away from the important aspect that we need/should greatly appreciate the labor multiplying effects of liquid fuels, I would propose that human labor is not quite so pathetic in comparison.

Getting work done thru direct manual effort is or at least seems self evident to be more energy efficient. Take splitting wood. Compare by hand using a maul vs using a gas powered hydraulic splitter. Or transporting yourself from place to place, riding a bicycle vs driving a car. Using liquid fuels allows us to do it faster, with less manual effort, in more comfortable ways but at a lost of energy efficiency.

But not all energy is equivalent.

Average humans can sustain 0.1Kw of useful work. This is indeed puny compared to an ICE, but even the best ICE is only about 30% efficient because of the Carnot cycle and laws of thermodynamics.

The amount of useful work which can be extracted from oil is only 1/4 or 1/3 of the raw chemical energy. The rest is converted directly to heat.

Still a hell of a lot of work.

Agreed: Providing URLs for comments on articles not listed in a drumbeat is helpful.

If you feel like you really do want to try to search the 'net...

Just do a google search using this, double quotes and all:

"Richard Douthwaite"

Using double quotes means you are requesting a search on a phrase. I use it all the time in news.google.com, to search on

"peak oil"


Actually, he was talking about an article that was listed in the Drumbeat.

Mentioning the title for those is probably a good idea, too.

My wife and I went to the cinema yesterday and watched 'In Time'.

I'll give it 2.5 stars out of 5.

Interesting Limits to Growth/resource distribution themes, but fell short somehow with me...

Be that as it may, folks here may find it interesting...

The premise is reminiscent to Logan's Run, in a way...but I won't give it away...

'Time is money', 'killing time', 'from time', 'time flies', 'wasting time', 'too much time on my hands'...

Leanan's reference to Greenwich (above) reminded me of the movie...

The folks I was with really liked that movie, however, I thought it was overtly themed so I give the same mark as you. Like Avatar, I think it is too black and white. To have any relation to the real world, you need to paint in many shades of gray. I thought Margin Call painted those colors nicely and may give some folks whining against criminals on Wall Street something to think about. Really, how can you criminalize somebody when money is created from nothing? It's just a game, folks.

"It's just a game, folks."

It is many things, but it is NOT a game, not down here among serfs.

Hyperinflation (from Wikipedia) "a cumulative inflation rate over three years approaching 100% (26% per annum compounded for three years in a row)", to Cagan's (1956) "inflation exceeding 50% a month."

Did the monthly Walmart trip.

Package of generic Sudafed:

Last month: $3.39
This month: $7.54

A single-item one-month inflation of 122%

I actually thought the girl had accidentally scanned it twice...

That may be distorted. There are issues with pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient, being used in making illegal drugs. The whole supply chain has been tightened up.


"Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."

The poor don't give a rat's ass WHY the price went up. When people are already seriously struggling, The WHY doesn't matter, all that matters is that it did.

I think it is a bit of a stretch projecting hyperinflation from a single item that may be distorted by other factors than the general economy. Otherwise I concur with that statement.


In my opinion, we are part of the uncontrollable global economy. Politicians could increase Wall Street regulation but that doesn't fix finite resources and could impede capital flows, seizing the economy while I am trying to get an orchard started. I would like to be harvesting my nuts before that happens. Politicians could decrease regulation, causing the price of Sudafed to fall dramatically, for example, but that would create a high economic cost keeping all of those methheads in prison. You would pay for it in taxes instead, if you are working.

Finite resources and the supply of those resources are imbalanced when one looks at commodity price charts over the last five to ten years. There is just not enough to go around. Wall Street is a convenient boogeyman, as is the current political administration, PPT, CFR, TPTB, greens, or right-wingers -- whatever your flavor of victimization. In reality, all of those people are cogs in an ever-changing machine, too. That machine will either seize up or slowly breakdown, either way, I doubt if it will ever be replaced by anything better. I don't think our species is that intelligent.

well, you can always just not buy it (unless somebody put a gun against your head).
I had a conversation with this afternoon in which we talked about how much of what we consider "needs" really are "wants".


It might be interesting to know what fraction of Sudafed is sold by Walmart and if they have a competitor product.

I think the first half, "the problem", was good. But the second half, "the solution", was certainly lacking.

goghgoner and Syndroma,

I was disappointed that more wasn't made of the rationale to constrain population to live sustainably...that string wasn't pulled...it was basically a wealth distribution theme. No mention of the state of the World ecosystem, no background on how the World got to ist present point in the movie...

The premise of course required a large suspension of logic...the while genetic engineering angle...my wife commented that it was implausible that there did not exist populations of unmodified humans, and/or a black market where one could hack the system.

The movie didn't have a big 'reveal'...their attempt at a 'reveal' line (stated about three times during the movie, no less) was so obvious as to evoke a 'Duhhh!' from us.

I also found it implausible that Justin Timberlake was such a skilled driver when he came from a ghetto life where I doubt he ever drove a car!

Were the timekeeper's cars Dodge Chargers?

Is it possible to have sustainability without ghettos?

you can not. because a sustainable society needs a rigid structure in place to keep people in line, and the most stable ones have mostly had one thing in common. a stratification of the populace with distinct classes where people are born into, live, and then die in with very little mobility up but a lot of ways down.

People accepted inheritance then. The rich understood how to breed less [or unoffically - out of wedlock]. There was lots of sideways movement at various eras eg West and East. Nowadays the moonbeam chasers are all hiding in trucks to arrive in our rapidly descending societies.

they bred less because there were very very few of them. compared to the rich today it would be like looking at a extended family as most were relatives of each other. as for sideway's movement, that did not exist in the societies is am talking about. i am talking about the middle ages where the majority of people were legally tied to the land. if they left their land(inherited or not) they were pretty much at the mercy of the law and which ever baron they were tied too. imagrents were higher on the social order to begin with anyway. either that or they were missionary's, both though were in a higher social order then the majority of the population.

In the realmonarchist societies, the numbers of genes the king and his close advosors could spread was truly large. Y chromosomes, are largely conserved across generations, i.e. they are transmitted father to son, with no mixing. I read an estimate that well over 1% of oriental men had Ghengis Khan's Y chromosome. So abvious the heaqd honcho had hudreds of consubines, and the son's of the consubines had enough social status to also spread their genes widely. Seems like some pretty massive darwinnian selection!

I tend to avoid Hollywood these days if I can. Too much liberal propaganda. In the past it was subtle, now it's in your face.

How does one avoid "Hollywood"? By not watching movies? Anyway I find the conservative propaganda just as "in your face" as any liberal propaganda. Have you seen the the catastrophic movie "The Book of Eli"? Right wing garbage if it ever existed.

Ron P.

you want right wing propaganda thrown in your face through hollywood, watch 300. 'the book of eli' was a entire movie around the false argument from christian fundamentalists that without the word of god(as in the bible) people will go around raping, murdering and other things on a whim.

What is wrong with me? I just watched it and enjoyed it as a post-apocalyptic lonely-hero movie. Never sat down and thought about any "messages". Just a movie, and I liked it. Thats all, at least to me.

Well Jedi, I guess you have a problem. Think about it, what was the message of that movie? Answer: To save the inspired word of God, Saint James version, for all generations to come. The hero committed it to memory and then expired after he had dictated it to those who would deliver it to all future generations.

But of course true believers would never see this as propaganda but what might really happen should the world ever collapse into chaos as depicted in this movie. After all, God would never allow his word to be destroyed.

Ron P.

Edit: It just occurred to me that this was the theme of the movie "Fahrenheit 451". Except there they committed great books to memory in order to save them. There was no mention of works of religion in that flick. I guess they did not consider them worth the effort. ;-)

it also played into the fallacy that morality can't exist without religion.

I think this may be a case where the reader/viewer is more important than the text/movie.

The moral society at Alcatraz exists without the KJV or any new Testament although they apparently have a Torah and Koran. The evil warlord running the town along the way, which is a social step up from total brigandage, which is a social step up from cannibalism of guests, talks about the use of the book/religion to control people for evil aims, and the prevalence of such use in the past.

I'm sorry. I said "Saint James version" when I should have said "King James version" of the Bible. My mistake, sorry. But our hero, Denzel Washington, or Eli in the movie, memorized it from cover to cover. Obviously he could only have done that with the help of God. Which proves, beyond any shadow of doubt that this, the King James version of the Holy Bible, is his inspired word.

Yes, yes, we are so fortunate to have such beautiful inspiring films delivered to us, with God's help, in this age of inequity. No propaganda here folks, just a great inspiring film.

Yeah Right!

I am sorry folks, I apologize for my cynicism, but some things really piss me off. And this is one of them.

Ron P.

Again, this seems like you bring something to the text. The script was written by Gary Whitta of PC Gamer fame, also responsible for "Death Jr" comics. I also don't think the Hughes brothers are much noted for their Christian-oriented films.

No, I don't thinkit is impossible to memorize the Bible word for word. It just take time and skills. He obviously had time.

But anyway; if this was the Will of God,he would not have preserved a trnslation of the hebrew/greek originals, but the originals them selves. Even the most fanatic KJV enthusists will admit if you force them that no translation is inspiered by God, only the originals is.

I do however get a little anoyed by the US-centric view of the movie. So, a war of religion starts and they destroy all bibles to make sure it does not happen again. Was this a world war? No single Bible left? On the PLANET? Do you know how difficult it would be to find and destroy every copy of the Bible in the entire world? You just can't do that. But what does the world outside the Us matter? US-centric so it stinks.

From the above, Greece turns to Iranian oil as default fears deter trade.

(Reuters) - Greece is relying on Iran for most of its oil as traders pull the plug on supplies and banks refuse to provide financing for fear that Athens will default on its debt.

Traders said Greece has turned to Iran as the supplier of last resort despite rising pressure from Washington and Brussels to stifle trade as part of a campaign against Tehran's nuclear program.

Do policy makers seriously think that as fossil fuel supplies tighten, economic sanctions are going to work any longer against an energy exporter? Vital self interest takes over. A sure tell sign that black gold has gone platinum.

I thought that article was interesting -- lots of interesting stuff today, thanks Leanan.

If Greece no longer has liquidity then the economic recession there should get much worse. I would think 100% haircut on Greek debt is in the cards.

If Greece goes for the 100% haircut, you can kiss the French economy good-bye. Of the major European (supposedly) healthy economies, France has the most jitters and least maneuvering room.

Eurozone debt jitters creeping into French bonds

But as global markets tumbled Wednesday, investors rushed to buy German bonds as a haven, while dumping French debt.

The yield on German 10-year bonds fell to 1.72% from 1.80% on Tuesday. The German yield is nearing the recent low of 1.67% reached on Sept. 22.

The French 10-year yield, by contrast, has jumped from 2.52% on Sept. 22. At 3.20%, it's still far below the 7.25% yield on Italian 10-year debt. But it's the trend that's worrisome.

The European woes are far from over. Give the markets a day or two of euphoria over the technocratic takeover of Greece and Italy. Whose next? Exit papers for Sarkozy? Don't believe me, ask Gordon Brown.

'France will be the next to crumble', warns Gordon Brown

The European woes are just beginning,the E.U. from the start was morally and ethically bankrupt apart from being financially bankrupt the financial returns have not been signed off for the last 16 years, I dare say if it had been an ordinary firm the IRS would have bankrupted them and sold them off to pay there taxes. Hopefully something similar will happen too this disgusting organisation. This has just popped it head up over the radar and explains what I mean.

(ANSAmed) — Brussels, November 11 — “It is necessary that the Italian Parliament approve and give immediate enactment to the crucial measures”. These words from the President of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, came during a speech given in Florence today. In the meantime, a new EU regulation affecting rating agencies places a ban on the issuing of ratings for countries facing financial crises, especially those that “are negotiating an international financial assistance programme” with the objective of “stabilising their economy”.

The new measures would empower ESMA, the European market watchdog, to ban the publication of “sovereign ratings in existing situations of risk for the orderly functioning of the financial markets or for the financial stability of the whole or part of the EU’s financial system”. In plain words, those affecting countries in crisis which “could cause negative knock-on effects” for other countries. The power to limit the issuing of ratings may only be exercised in “exceptional circumstances,” that are to be spelled out by a delegated commission.

What this means is that while in olden days they would have shot the messenger for bringing bad news, being more civilised now we just gag them.

Wanting to do this tells me that they know that the Euro is toast.

I completely agree my Yorkshire friend!

The EU is nothing but a corrupt cesspit. It is not only demonstrably undemocratic but anti-democratic. The technocrats, bureaucrats and elites actively dislike the democratic process. Americans might fret that democracy has died in Washington - what with all the lobbyists etc - but take a moment to familiarise yourselves with the demonic, evil EU.

The best option for the UK is complete withdrawal from the EU monster. If supra-national policies need to be implemented - such as with regard to climate change etc - then by all means negotiate and sign old fashioned treaties. There is absolutely no need for the mammoth self-serving monstrosity of the EU.

I can not wait until the whole darn thing comes crashing down. Unfortunately, given European history it is likely to happen against a backdrop of violence. Still, if war must be fought to secure national freedom from the beast, so be it.

UKIP has been proved right by recent events. I am all for Europe (I was born in UK, have visited just about every EU country for business or pleasure, and currently live in Germany). I like all our European friends and neighbours, they all bring something to the table. I certainly respect and value the peace in the EU zone for my lifetime.

What I am not for is the complete antidemocratic nature of the EU: Prevent referendums at all costs (UK), if the EU proposal loses them redo the referendum until the populace give in (Ireland). Replace elected governments with EU affiliated stooges without an election (Italy, Greece). Fail to account for the taxpayers monies spent (every year since I can remember the EU accounts have been unable to be signed off by auditors). Buy off the corruptible political class in each country with lucrative sinecures after they have been booted out by their own electorates (Peter Mandelson : sums up EU political quality recruitment to the man on the UK street).

Impoverish every EU nation just because the ideology demands the Euro currency experiment must work, despite it being ludicrously obvious that tightly linking divergent economies without the escape valve of floating exchange rates can only eventually result in disaster, one way or another.

It is unacceptable to use the resulting disaster to further the interests of the Eurocrats vs the rest of us.

The EU project is rotten to the core. Better it had stayed a common market, and then we would still all be friends. The European project had a huge store of goodwill capital that it has eroded through corruption, waste, fraud, incompetence, social engineering and outright malevolence towards democracy. It lacks legitimacy. It no longer deserves support. The EU has to be replaced or removed to prevent this supranational vampire causing more damage to the good people of all Europe.

Those types of graphs are misleading.
A lot of the promisses (aside from the debt they issued) came into existence because the legislature created a law/rule of kinds. If with the stroke of a pen one can create, say , social security one can also un-create it with a stroke of that same pen. Those types of obligations are of such a nature than they can be resinded in a hurry. Would it be painful? yes, of course. But as our newly minted PhD says "we have a longage of expectations".



Overhead question:

What is the strategy behind all the CSX ads over the past year (or longer) trumpeting the environmental advantages of shipping more goods by rail?

I agree with the premise, but...who is the target audience for these ads?

The hoi polloi are not going to pick up their phones and call their Congress folks to advocate for policies to use rail cargo more are they?

I also doubt the masses will visit their local Wal-Mo manager and ask to know how many goods are shipped to the store by rail...and goods are not labeled with some sticker indicating what modes of shipping were used...

If these ads are meant to influence law-makers, isn't a mass-market TV ad buy inefficient?

Just wondering...

Maybe this will help...


"Challenge: Increase awareness and improve opinions of transportation giant CSX.

Solution: Show that CSX is a responsible way to ship the products we love and need.

CSX is one of the biggest transportation companies in the U.S., but few people know exactly what they do or how important they are to our day-to-day lives. Not to mention, a lot of what people think they know about rail freight is wrong. Trains are actually a safe and environmentally responsible way to transport goods. They keep traffic off our highways and can move a ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel. As it turns out, once we made people aware of these facts, opinions of CSX improved dramatically."

CSX doesn't just do rail - it does all kinds of transportation.


"CSX Corporation is an international transportation company offering a variety of rail, container-shipping, intermodal, trucking and contract logistics services."

They must be viewed as unpopular, necessitating an attitude-adjustment on the part of the general public.

EDIT : googling "CSX Complaints" turns up a number of "bad neighbor" type issues as well as harassment and intimidation.


What percent of food is shipped by rail? Maybe we can get people to eat more frozen goods that could then be shipped by rail, since I would assume most (all?) fresh produce is shipped by truck.

"Frozen foods" is incompatible with an energy scarce future. "Sun dried", most certainly THE way! It doesn't taste too bad when compared to hunger.

Hunger is the best sauce!

Freezing of vegetables has been a great advance in food storage due to the fact that it preserves more nutrients, mainly the water-soluble vitamins - B-group and C.

Any process which relies on heat has an adverse impact on vitamin content.

I certainly agree that, as an industrial process, it may eventually drop out of the energy budget, but if I had a choice, I'd happily trade my car miles for the energy required to freeze vegetables.


There was an interesting study done in Sweden a couple of years ago. They did it from the point of view of carbon emissions, but it applies for energy efficiency as well. It found frozen foods were actually among the most efficient things to eat, because they could be transported via ship. Fresh food must be flown in.

The logistics might be different in the US, but the study also found that for a single person, going out to eat in a restaurant was more efficient than driving to the store, shopping, and cooking for one. It suggested that instead of worrying about food miles or farmed vs. wild caught, we should make more of an effort to eat in larger groups. If not at a restaurant, then with friends and family at home.

I think it's more shopping and cooking in large quantity.

....or just use www.peapod.com


A relatively uninteresting tidbit about folks in PA having their deer hunting disturbed by the noise of all that shale gas drilling. Again, do like we have done in Texas for decades: when you sign the mineral lease with the oil company just include a clause that prohibits drilling during hunting seasons. Operators will p*ss and moan about it but they'll still sign the lease.

It really ain't that difficult to make it work. And good grief...start charging state and county production taxes and stop complaining about regulatory costs. While PA has never gotten one penny both Texas and La. have collected $trillions. It didn't stop companies from drilling more wells down here then the rest of the country combined. Again, it ain't that difficult to figure out.


This is sort of OT but I was just looking through a catalog from a company that sells timber falling equipment and there I saw, ROCKMAN Reusable Earplugs. Yes siree! The real thing and only $30 for a box of 50 plugs! I don't know if they're ones you would use when people disagree with you or those who read your stuff and don't want to hear the truth.


Todd - Mucho thanks. Use those disposable foam plugs all the time on the well site. Found the web site...will order some for the novelty of it.

Pennsylvania had it "figured out" before new technologies allowed much drilling at all in Texas. The problem there is that most regulations are related to the operation of coal mines, and the oil and gas regulations are run out of the state EPA office, as something resembling a side note. It is a political issue more than anything else.

Thanks to wisconsincur over at malthusia for this (and apologies if it has already been posted):



"Nuke agency reports unusual radiation in Europe

Very low levels of radiation, which are higher than normal but don't seem to pose a health hazard, are being registered in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday.

The agency said the cause was not known but was not the result of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which spread radiation across the globe in March.

The "very low levels of iodine-131 have been measured in the atmosphere," the agency said in a statement. It said such radioisotope will lose much of its radiation in about eight days.

However, an official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said the release appeared to be continuing."

Any ideas of what the source of this could be? Is there a major accident somewhere that is not being reported?

Best comment from the comments section of the story at your link:

Maybe it's all those decaying Euros.

But seriously, one of the commenters alluded to a reactor fire in Russia, but he did not provide any links...

This site's European Network map isn't showing any readings....technical difficulties?


I couldn't figure out what value this site might have to depicting World radiation measurements...


I would hazard a guess that the capability exists to use multiple radiation detectors, input from meteorological stations, and appropriate software to track plumes...


NATS Inc. wins contract for radiation plume tracking system

Nov 3, 2007

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., 3 Nov. 2007. NATS Incorporated (North American Technical Services Inc.) of Middletown, Conn., was awarded a second contract from the government of Kuwait for an Advanced Early Warning System. The second phase of the contract involves development of an advanced software modeling system coupled with radiation sensors and meteorological sensors in the area to track and model radioactive plume.

If this company is advertising such capability, then other companies and government agencies surely have as good or better capabilities?

Another cursory search produced this information:


Surely Europe has such capabilities...it is hard to imagine that they cannot at least have a general direct from which the material drifted...

I have been wondering, just throwing it out there, could it of been from the use of a tactical low yield nuclear weapon used in the middle east?

The source is probably Fukushima. 10 days ago Tepco reported possible recriticality of the core (I think #2) and there was xenon detected. It takes 10 days for the wind to circle the globe, so the iodine went east over the US and the Atlantic and now it's hitting Europe.

The core has likely escaped into the ground and is heading for bedrock, where it could gather enough energy flux from the hard rock to reach a level of criticality where a mega-ton nuke bomb--like thing will go off, leaving a huge crater in the ground.

Steve from Virginia has an excellent blog post "The Non-battle for Fukushima" on his blog Economic Undertow this week, where he details just how dangerous this is. The dangerous fallout would extend over the whole of Japan and depending where the wind is blowing, of course, parts of the world as well.

Many governments are probably trying hard not to rock the boat and comment on the radioactive iodine because once the whole of Japan becomes a huge radioactive fallout zone if this bomb scenario unfolds (will this entail the evacuation of 100 million people??), then people in other countries will start to wonder about their own nukes.

Pi-sama, there are reports suggesting a fire at a Russian installation. Re your points:-

possible recriticality of the core (I think #2) and there was xenon detected

Radio-Xenon is produced by other parts of the decay chain too. There will be fission going on all the time. There is fission going on in the Uranium that is in rocks such as Granite that release Radon which can accumulate in basements. I would expect a release of Radio-Xenon without the need for criticality and the quantities reported are small so this is a more likely route.

It takes 10 days for the wind to circle the globe, so the iodine went east over the US and the Atlantic and now it's hitting Europe.

Given atmospheric dilution the quantity released would have to be huge and the local site would have had to be evacuated.

The core has likely escaped into the ground and is heading for bedrock

If the core melts it will combine with other materials and fuse into Corium and cool down. This can clearly be seen at Chernobyl.

gather enough energy flux from the hard rock to reach a level of criticality where a mega-ton nuke bomb--like thing will go off, leaving a huge crater in the ground

Not going to happen. You need to bring a supercritical amount of fissile material together very fast to get a bang otherwise it simply burns itself away as it comes together.

Many governments are probably trying hard not to rock the boat and comment on the radioactive iodine

Yep, they probably know where in Europe it is coming from and don't want to rock the boat.

if this bomb scenario unfolds

It won't, see above.

I wish people would stop spreading such rumours that are affecting people like yourself. I can understand why you are concerned about the situation but you really don't need people running around with these wild ideas. It is making it impossible to see what is really going on. Many times I have wanted to dive into some of the threads but there are too many crazy views around.


Well, we shall see.

Steve from Virginia might be right.

It is thousands of tons of fuel. It might go critical and blow up as he says is a possibility. Of course I hope it won't.


It takes very special conditions to blow up. The energy released will disrupt the process long before. There have been several incidents when critical masses have been attained accidentally and they have not resulted in explosions for that reason. There have even been natural nuclear reactors formed with large amounts of fissile fuel and these have not exploded either. Very large nuclear explosions cannot be made by fission alone due to the disruption, other mechanisms are required. To learn more about how to create a bang the following site is a must


There are a number of good articles in Wikipedia but many draw from the above. In particular look for the section of Fat Man and note just how much of it is explosive.

Here is the chain for Xenon 133


and for Xenon 135


This one for Iodine 131


That seems to be a good site to look up information on isotopes when people start talking about it.


I understand your concerns pi, and my sympathy goes to all of you living in the shadow of this carnage.

But NAOM is right, there's zero chance of this thing going bang. Just remember how much time and effort was spent on the Manhattan project. Creating fission is (relatively) easy, getting a controlled runaway reaction required to produce a "bang" is a major technical feat.

More likely is a steam explosion when this super hot dollop of material hits water. Still a very big bang, but not a detonation.

The worst case though is not an explosion, but a fire. When the reaction gets hot enough, the radioactive smoke produced travels far further than the effects of a detonation. Think more of Chernobyl and less of Hiroshima.

Unfortunately there are explosive possibilities.

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.

Nuclear Nightmare: America's worst fears come true

Interviews with many weapons designers familiar with the Zimmerman situation have led us to conclude that a principal implication of the Zimmerman/Frank paper is that if a terrorist gained access to plutonium oxide, he or she could detonate that material in a relatively simple way, getting a low but significant range in the 1 kiloton range. This radically simple method of detonation is known as single or one point initiation.

Peter Zimmerman

Peter D. Zimmerman is an American nuclear physicist, arms control expert, and former Chief Scientist of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Science and Security at King's College London. He retired from the college in August 2008 and was named Professor Emeritus on 1 September of the same year.

Criticality and explosions are very different. There is nothing new in this, it has been going on for a very long time in nature


As I have said above, you need very special circumstances to cause an explosion. Please stop spreading FUD.


Either you've not read the links and understood the implications or you have a problem with unfortunate facts.

If you are referring to the Los Alamos article on underground supercriticality it uses for its basis a very special circumstance. A circumstance involving a large quantity of pure Plutonium and closely confined. This is not the situation under discussion. If, and I do mean if, there has been a melt down into the ground you are talking about a very impure mixture of low grade, chiefly Uranium, oxides not pure Plutonium, a mixture of those oxides with materials from the core such as Zirconium and Cadmium, mixed further with the steel from the vessel and concrete from the structure, add in a blend from the ground it has to pass through and in any case that is creating a non-confined hole in the ground.

I would favour a much more level headed look at this entire situation without invoking extreme theories that are far from reality. Panicking is only going to make matters worse, hasty decisions taken now to calm a population worried by scurrilous rumours may yield worse problems a few years down the line. People like Pi-sama have enough issues after this that they do not need more wild theories that bare little resemblance to the situation. There is no 'bang' to worry about and, for most of Japan, pollutants from things such as motor exhaust and smoking are far higher risks than radiation.


I'm not offering a view on how likely it is or otherwise as I don't have anywhere near enough info to do so. I'm just pointing out that the possibilities are there depending on what's happened to the core material. At Chernobyl plutonium is thought to have coalesced during the meltdown and the Soviets were seriously worried about a massive underground blast in the multi-megaton range according to senior officials at the time. I'd like to hope that's wrong. Hans Blix when asked about it gave a somewhat cryptic answer. In any case gadolinium nitrite is regularly poured over certain spots at Chernobyl to "keep the system sub-critical"

Here's something even more curious

Ever wondered why Mars is red? One scientists thinks he knows (and it could happen on Earth, too)

Mars has not always been red.

At least that is the theory proposed by a scientist who has discovered a reason as to how the red planet got its rosy colour.

According to Dr John Brandednberg, about 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a shockwave that turned the planet into dry sand.

He told Fox News: 'The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium - and this pattern radiates from a hot spot on Mars.

'A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet.

'Maps of gamma rays on Mars show a big red spot that seems like a radiating debris pattern ... on the opposite side of the planet there is another red spot.'

Dr Brandenburg, who is a senior propulsion scientist at Orbital Technologies Corp, said the natural explosion - the equivalent of one million one-megaton hydrogen bombs - occurred in the northern Mare Acidalium region of Mars where there is a heavy concentration of radioactivity.

This explosion also filled the Martian atmosphere with radio-isotopes, which are seen in recent gamma ray spectrometry data taken by NASA, he said.

The radioactivity also explains why the planet looks red.

Thanks for the Martian info. I'm appalled the nuclear industry obviously conspired to make us believe the redness is due to iron oxides.

I knew someone would comment on that point. If you actually read the paper at http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/pdf/1097.pdf he never says anything specifically about a "red color" but does mention a worldwide deposit from the explosion.

Anyway go debunk the paper not the media reports.

The author has a PhD in Theoretical Plasma Physics at the UC Davis extension campus at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore California. The Title of his Thesis was “A Theoretical Model of a Reversed Field Ion Layer Made of Monoenergetic Ions.” It dealt with the magnetic confinement of plasmas for controlled nuclear fusion.

And the rest of his CV is highly impressive. He knows his nuclear physics.

You cited a media report that in the headline and in the text talked about the color. If you don't want me to debunk that since the original paper is sound, then perhaps you should have cited that paper instead of the nonsense you did cite?

Oh man, and there I was thinking it was the pixie dust :)


Give Bill McKibben and the thousands of other protesters who put their safety and freedom on the line in protest after protest against the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline: they won their battle.

Exerpt from a TOD article above. I think it was a matter of several factors coming together that temporarliy thwarted continuation of the pipeline. Obama is a master of splitting the fine line on controversial matters. In this case he put off the final decision about the pipeline until after the election. This was to placate the left but also to make sure they vote for him because obviously an R would insist on the pipeline. Also, by leaving open the continuation of the pipeline, it placates the right wing by suggesting between the lines that it will eventually happen. The timing of the protests could not have been better as this election process heats up, and Obama was forced to make a split the political razor thin edge decision on yet another hot topic.

PE - We can only speculate. During the last year the administration approved a Clean Air permit for a new coal-fixed power plant in Texas and appears to be slow playing the pipeline. Lots of press about the pipeline makes it a PR problem. Except for my post has any Todster seen a report about the Texas plant? Seen reports about the EPA getting on Texas about air pollution and CO2 otput but nothing about approving a plant down here that will burn millions of pounds of Illinois coal.

Again, all we can do is speculate.

Rock, could the case be that the EPA wants existing, old, rather dirty coal plants in TX and elsewhere to be upgraded to reduce emissions, and/or be closed whilst new more efficient, much-less polluting coal plants are brought on-line to replace the older highly-polluting plants?

I do not see the EPA 'getting on' and the new plant approval as contradictory, but as two portions of an overall plan or push to continue to generate electricity using coal, but to do so with less emissions.

I see no conflict.

Of course the price will be more costs for the utilities, which will do a combination of either reduced profits and more likely rate increases to compensate for the higher costs.

I see little relevance to the coal coming from Illinois...sounds like kind of a thin thread to attempt to ensnare the President with, don't you think?

If Texas doesn't want the new plant, they can choose not to build it, or look for coal from within Texas or somewhere else...

H - "Thin"??? First, none of the existing plants are being replaced by the new plant...thin? It's an additional source of GHG...thin? So I take it your good with that. Except for the lignite plants the rest of the coal currently burned in Texas is either imported or comes from Montana...thin? So you assume the existing plants managers are stupid and have been paying too much for coal instead of getting it cheaper from Illinois...thin?.

So you're defending the administration for allowing additional GHG to be produced in Texas. A new source of GHG to be built just 10 miles from the S Texas Nuclear Plant (the largest single source in Texas) that was scheduled for a 50% expansion when the Clean Air permit was issued.

Just MHO to your defense of the administration’s willingness to contribute to climate change appears a little "thin". Actually don't take offense. I'm teasing you as much as offering a different perspective. If the president let political considerations influence the plant decision he didn't do anything all major politicians (R's & D's) do all the time. Yes...mine was a partisan shot. This partisan is a US citizen…the other side of that partisan fence are all corrupt politicians…regardless of their party. My position might also be better understood knowing my 12 yo daughter lives 40 miles from the new plant.

BTW: I know it would take specualtion on your part but do you think the plant would have gotten approval if the coal were coming from Montana? Hmmm...how many electorial votes does Montana have?


If the coal power plant is somehow bad for Texas, or your fellow Texans don't want it for any reason, cannot the state of Texas refuse the power plant?

I'm afraid I do not understand...is the Federal government forcing this power plant upon Texas? I am not sure how or why the Feds have any power to tell a utility where it must get its coal from, so I do not understand that piece either.

Is the coal from Illinois cleaner than the lignite from Texas? What about Powder River basin coal? I am not familiar with which coal-producing regions having which types of coal...I do recall that North Dakota has a lot of lignite.

It is you who conflated the idea of the EPA 'going after' the dirty coal plants in TX (and elsewhere in your o) with new pollution mandates with the idea of this new coal plant in your post, leading me to infer that one was related to the other.

Next, to follow the bouncing ball, I take it that a Federal agency denied the expansion of a Texas nuke plant nearby the proposed new coal plant? What was the justification?

Or did the utility choose, once the clean air permit was issued, to build the coal plant because it was less expensive than the nuke plant?

I appreciate your concern for your daughter, but I have a difficult time squaring that with your previous statements seeming to vilify the EPA for pressing for existing coal plants to implement additional pollution controls, and for your pointing out that refineries in TX and LA are emitting pollution so that the rest of us (and you all) can drive...if the pollution drifts across TX borders to the East that is OK, but if it affects local Texas it is less OK?

I am truly confused here. If the new plant will endanger your daughter's health, do you support shutting down all coal plants, including Four Corners, all the pants in AZ, etc, which emit mercury, etc. blowing East towards TX?

Holy smoke, The President has all kinds of faults, but he is held between the devil and the deep blue sea on all kinds of issues: In this case, if he denied the coal plant permit, he would be vilified, and when he approves it, he is vilified. Same thing about nukes...since he didn't go after the nuke industry with a vengeance, and made some noises about approving some new nuke plants after he was elected, he was vilified by many...if he would have advocated cracking down and closing some nuke plants, he would have been vilified by many more.

Where does (oops, I can't remember..) GHG stand on this issue? After all, he keeps getting re-elected, so whatever he does must always be correct I guess...

Rock, what is your energy plan if you were King?

H - I didn't vilify anyone. Except for every self serving politician who’ll do whatever it takes to get reelected. And, of course, every voter who elects self-serving politicians who follow policies dictated by those voters. So no, I didn’t vilify nobody. LOL.

Nope...Texas will go with any expansion of any commerce...power plants or whatever. Heck...we just increased the limits on many of our major highways to 75 mph. The state didn't shut down the nuke expansion...investors (including one of the Japanese nuke owners) pulled out after that little problem in Japan.

If I had been king 30 years ago I might have been able to make some relevantly slow changes. Today it would require rather draconian measures. So unpleasant for the general public it would probably require unwavering support from the military. But even with such an approach it wouldn’t eliminate the worst of the pain. We’ve often talked the subject on TOD endlessly and we still end up in the same place: no solutions…just better and worse responses.


So, let us summarize:

You love your daughter (just as my wife and I love our two children),,,and you don't want her health harmed...so you support the expansion of the nuke plant vice any new coal-fired plant, since nuke plants do not /normally/ produce emissions which are harmful to breathe, such as Mercury/Cadmium compounds from coal plants.

But what about an abnormal incident, which would cause a radiation release?

In that case, you might prefer a coal-fired plant?

If so, one would logically deduce that you would prefer a coal-fired plant that burns the cleanest coal and has the most modern, effective flue-gas-scrubbing kit, to provide the lowest achievable emissions.

All of the above is predicated on the assumption that you want to avoid rolling blackouts, so you and your family can have adequate access to electricity.

So, the only logical conclusion is that you support the new coal-fired plant, burning cleaner Illinois coal, with the best emissions control...you and Obama are in violent agreement...LOL!

Of course you have an 'out'...you can have your cake (adequate electricity supply) and eat it too (minimal emissions drifting from Texas soil downstream to your daughter and you) by advocating your fellow citizens (U.S., not Texan) to build those new plants (nuke/coal/whatever)East (downwind) from Texas, so they take the emissions risk and ship you'all the power! But then you would be at the mercy of the 'off' switch from those damn Yankees (or non-Texan Southerners)...LOL!

Of course, all this assumes that Texans have Zero interest in implementing a push to use less electricity through doing less with less, using more efficient appliances/machinery/lighting (can't have those evil Yankee non-CFL bulbs. its a matter of /Freedom/! LOL!

But what about an abnormal incident, which would cause a radiation release?

In that case, you might prefer a coal-fired plant?

Depends on whether you're interested in averages or in worst-case scenarios. If you go with averages, the nuclear plant is orders of magnitude better.

...is the Federal government forcing this power plant upon Texas? I am not sure how or why the Feds have any power to tell a utility where it must get its coal from, so I do not understand that piece either.

I take it the plant will deliver electricity to interstate commerce. In fact any plant connected to the grid would deliver electricity to interstate commerce. The regulation of interstate commerce resides with the Federal Government in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.

Actually, Texas is unique in that it has its own electrical grid. I believe it's interconnected with Mexico, but not with the rest of the US.

The Feds' interest is in emissions. The air in Texas is interconnected with the rest of the US.

One of the things the Tres Amigos interconnect is supposed to do is connect Western US, Texas, and East US. This is a large interconnection project located in the SE plains on New Mexico.

Leanan - Exactly. Which is why I was very curious about the economics of building the new plant. We might have had a few small supply problems during the hottest part of the summer but nothing serious. But the coal-fired plant was approved at the same time the 50% nuke expansion had been approved. I don't have the numbers but it seems as though we were shooting for over capacity. And remember besides our nukes we have a lot of NG (and more as the plays plow forward) that most of our generators can switch to. My suspicious nature makes me wonder if there isn't a lot more to the story than simple free market commerce.

And yes…we gladly share our pollution with the rest of the country. Much of the refinery pollution is generated on our eastern border and quickly drifts away most of the year. But at least the folks in the SE US also get some of the refinery products.

There's that old problem of exponential growth. With a growing population, the Sun Belt in the early 1970's was experiencing a growth in electric consumption of 7% a year. Recent demand growth for the Southern Company was around the same rate. Projecting this growth rate forward, after 10 years, the demand would double. That means that during the preceding 10 years, the amount of power production and the distribution grid would need to double. That means twice the number of power plants, all of which require many year for construction.

I understand that Texas is one of the few states which has enjoyed both continued economic growth and a continual immigration from the rest of the US (and other nations :-) as well). Simply providing the demand for the new people would require more electric production, especially as the climate almost requires air condition to survive in summer...

E. Swanson

ERCOT (the Texas grid) has dangerously low levels of reserve generation capacity and risk grid collapse without rolling blackouts in the event of foreseeable contingencies. This is why they are building new plants as fast as they can.

Thanks for that updates. We haven't had problems in Houston but that doesn't mean they aren't right down the road.

Most coal is purchased under long-term contracts. The type of coal which can be purchased is dependent on the plant. Old plants without emissions controls must burn low-sulfur coal. That mostly means they can't burn Illinois coal. New plants can burn hi-sulfur coal because of the capital investment in emissions controls required by law.

In 2009, Texas used 96,299,000 tons of coal, more than any other state. 35% of that coal was mined in Texas. 64% of it was imported from Wyoming (read low-sulfur Powder River sub-bituminous) via railroad. 0.6% of it was imported from other states (primarily Colorado).

What small amount (14,000 tons) of coal traveled from Illinois to Texas in 2009 did so primarily by river.
The majority of the cost of coal from western and interior sources in the U.S. is transportation cost. If a new coal plant is able (because of emissions controls) to burn coal that can be moved more cheaply from Illinois than from Wyoming, it will do so.

Re: Americans are increasing energy use, report shows

A month or so ago I mentioned that I was handed a list of seven hundred buildings that need to be upgraded between now and March 31st, in addition to our other work. We're knocking them off one by one and the savings are considerable.

For example, one of the buildings currently undergoing retrofit is a research facility. It consists of a main administration building, a production plant and a separate mechanical plant. The production and mechanical plants were originally illuminated by 400-watt HIDs (455-watts with ballast). Light levels in the mechanical plant shown below averaged about 28 FC.

We've since replaced these fixtures with 6-lamp T8 high bay fluorescents. At 222-watts, fixture load has been cut in half and light levels have effectively doubled. In fact, we've been asked to remove a couple fixtures because the staff are complaining that the space is "too bright".

When completed, we will have cut their lighting load by 71.2 kW and their energy requirements by just over 178,000 kWh/year.

A couple hundred metres away, we audited another facility (not part of this list) and I expect that we can shave 150,000 to 200,000 kWh/year from their lighting load, plus reduce their DHW costs by over $10,000.00 a year by simply de-rating the tanks.

Hi [redacted],

Thank you for your assistance in auditing the Eric Spicer building earlier today; your help is greatly appreciated.

With regards to the two 36.0 kW electric water heaters that serve this facility, I would recommend that they be de-rated to 6.0 kW each by disconnecting all three top elements and two of the three bottom elements. The one remaining element should be more than capable of meeting all of your domestic hot water needs.

The 60.0 kW reduction in demand would reduce your demand charges by $6,504.48 a year (60.0 kW x $9.034 per kW, per month x 12 months/year). It would also shift 12,000 kWh of energy each month to NSP's lower cost second tier, for an additional savings of $4,063.68 a year (60.0 kW x 200 kWh/month, per kW x ($0.09646 - $0.06824 per kWh) x 12 months/year). Taken together, this represents an annual savings of $10,568.16, achievable with no discernible loss in performance. [As far as I can tell, the bulk of your domestic hot water demand can be attributed to hand washing, so the volume of hot water required is presumably quite low. Even at 6.0 kW per tank, the combined heating capacity of these two tanks is equal to that of four conventional electric water heaters. Combined, you have approximately 1,000 litres of storage capacity available to you and this should be more than sufficient to carry you through any periods of unusually high demand.]

Our electricians can easily disconnect the feed to individual heating elements by simply removing the jumper wire between two terminals. It would take about five minutes to complete this task and we can perform this work free of charge. If, for whatever reason, you want to reverse this change (in full or in part), one or more of the jumpers can be re-connected to the terminal block.

BTW, the savings on your power bill would be roughly equivalent to that of upgrading one thousand 2-lamp T12 fixtures to T8, assuming that these fixtures operate an average of 42 hours per week and that your blended demand and energy cost is 13-cents per kWh.


There's lot of potential to save energy; we just have to tap into it.


Good show!

Can we interest you in being the U.S. Secretary of Energy?

Or would you be interested in opening branch offices of your private business across the U.S.?

Obviously we are a potentially lucrative market...


H - And there was almost an opening for that position. NPR reported that Wikileaks supposedy uncovered emails indicating that Dr. Chu came within a hair of being fired over Solyndra.


Upon further reflection I think Paul and his company would be much more effective and efficient leading this efficiency retrofit quest as a private company!


Thanks, H, for your kind words. In a past life I was a policy advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Electricity Section, and although I greatly enjoyed my time there I'd rather be out in the field getting my hands dirty.

Often times even simple adjustments can make the world of difference. For example, the HID fixtures in the space below are never turned off because they take five minutes to reach full brightness upon start-up (admittedly, it sounds silly but there you have it). Replacing these fixtures with instant-on high bay fluorescents will allow these lights to be turned off at night and back on the following morning, reducing their run-time from 168 hours a week to something closer to 50. Thus, the new hardware will cut this load by half and the ability to switch the lights on and off will cut their energy usage by 70 per cent again.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/HID247.jpg

Here's another example of where the lights are left on 24/7 because there's no switch by the door to allow the night watchman to reach the other side.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/T12247.jpg

Also, a good chunk of the lighting is positioned over racking or enclosed offices that were added after the fact.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/T12Racking.jpg

We'll remove any fixtures where they're not required and add a night duty circuit to provide a minimum amount of light that will allow security personnel to make their rounds. The energy savings at this complex once our work is complete will likely exceed 500,000 kWh/year.


I think you must be a happy man to have such a useful and rewarding job.

Keep up the great work!


Thanks, H; quite honestly, I couldn't be happier, although you would be hard pressed to complete with this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nppdDUbv0gU

Life's short, laugh a lot.


It might sound silly, but what comes to my mind is a 1/2 hour program on Planet Green cable channel.

We now have the government saying that the leak will continue till August. Or maybe even until the entire well has emptied itself.

What exactly is the situation? A pipe has been drilled into the well, and now is gushing out oil into the ocean bed.

BP claims Solution: Dig a shaft, say about a mile deep next to the pipe (shouldn't take more than a few days to do). Detonate a very powerful bomb, maybe even a nuclear bomb. The oil will no longer have a clear path to the surface and the leak will stop.

Oh! We have a troll spouting year+ old nonsense.

I wonder if his first name is "Bart".

There's lot of potential to save energy; we just have to tap into it.

LOL! was that an intended pun?

Now all you have to do is convince the employees not to run the hot water tap continuously while they wash their hands... the added benefit would be that they would be conserving water as well... Perhaps they already have sensors installed like the ones in public restrooms.

Yes, there are plenty of ways to conserve energy and resources.



Thanks, Fred; I should have properly proofread my comments before posting, but you do raise a good point. We had put a 24 kW electric water heater at a small elementary school on a timer so that it wouldn't come on during peak times, certain in our knowledge that 500 litres of storage capacity would be more than sufficient to get them through the day. Well, by 10h00 the staff were complaining that there was no hot water. It turns out that the teachers are in the habit of rinsing their coffee mugs under a steady stream of hot water and exhausted the entire tank in two and a half hours. The next day we had to yank the timer out and over $7,000.00 in demand and energy savings went down the drain (literally).

There are days when you'd like to bonk a few folks on the side of the head.

Side diversion: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3575633/The-country-the...


I used to skipper boats on sailing trips off the West Coast of Canada for schools, and it was a real learning experience for the kids. First rule: Don't turn the tap on and run water over the dishes because we have a 40 gallon tank of fresh water, and once it's gone, it's gone. Second rule: Don't put anything down the head (toilet) except human waste and toilet paper, and be restrained about the toilet paper, otherwise for the rest of the trip you'll be using a bucket of salt water and throwing it over the side. Third rule: don't leave all the lights on because you'll kill the house battery and do without lights until I start up the diesel engine tomorrow morning.

This was a real challenge for some of the kids. A lot of the girls would bring a hair dryer and say, "Where do I plug it in?". Well, when we dock at a marina, which we will do every three days or so, you can plug it into shore power. And you can also take a shower, unless the marina is short of water.

Most of them had never had to live under these kind of conditions, which is why the trips were so popular. It was completely different from anything they had done before.

Perhaps taking at least one long trip on a small sailboat should be a required part of the education of all first world kids...

It's actually rather difficult to explain to people the the habit of running hot water over coffee cups and dishes wastes an awful lot of hot water. Many of them think they are being "green" when they do this rather than putting them straight into the dish washer without rinsing.

I have to explain, "Look, this is an expensive dishwasher and it is very energy efficient. Just put your dishes into it without rinsing, and when it is completely full, put in the soap and hit the start button. If you wash the dishes one at a time by running hot water over them, or even rinse them before putting them in the dishwasher, you are wasting water and energy."

Hello Paul,

Speaking of Americans using more energy, or at least not reducing energy use, I walked by a Penney's store today and noticed that it uses up to 200 incandescent track lights! I went inside to take a closer look and noticed that they are still using T12 linear fluorescents!! And in this area they are probably paying between $0.12 and $0.15 per kWh. I guess some folks are just slow learners.

That's disappointing to hear, Breadman. This is the billing summary sent to me by one of our clients after we replaced their 60-watt halogen-IR track lamps with Philips 17-watt EnduraLED PAR38s:

It's one of their smaller retail outlets, but as you can see it cut their electricity usage by 45 per cent (a combination of a reduced lighting load plus related a/c savings).



Hi! in BC here, and retrofitting a large woodshop. Overhead lighting currently incandescent (o my).

Need some serious high-bay type lighting -- is there any LED fixture that would serve (Edison base would be preferred), or are high-output fluorescents the only option? Prolly want 250w equiv or better. 120V AC.

A word from the wise would be very much appreciated at this juncture!

Hi Rootless,

Your best option would be to go with a good quality two or four lamp T8 fluorescent strip or industrial, fitted with 32-watt 850-series T8 lamps and, preferably, a NEMA Premium electronic ballast (the four lamp version is called a "twin-tandem", which denotes two 4 ft. lamps butted end-to-end with two more in an 8 ft. configuration). A Philips 32-watt Advantage 850 T8 lamp supplies 3,000 nominal lumens and driven by a "normal" output ballast (0.88 BF) the 2-lamp version nets you about 5,300 lumens and the 4-lamp version double that. By comparison, a 300-watt 120-volt/750-hour PS25 incandescent supplies roughly 6,300 lumens.

There are rebates on high efficiency T8 lamps and ballasts here in Nova Scotia that are applied at the point of purchase and so our pricing is distorted for this reason, but a good quality 2-lamp Lithonia with a NEMA Premium ballast is about $25.00 and the 4-lamp version is perhaps $45.00. The industrial version (i.e., with reflectors) which may very well be a better choice would be about $10.00 to $15.00 more.

Good luck !


Much obliged Paul. Thanks very much for the info. I will look at the larger hardware outfits -- assuming Home Despot and Home Hardware Building Centre and so on may have these fixtures?

Find your local pro shop, they may well have better prices, tubes are 3x the price in my local HD.


You're most welcome, Rootless; glad to help. The lighting fixtures carried by the big box retailers are typically the low-end lines and, as you would expect, price rather than quality takes precedence. I'd contact some of the lighting distributors/wholesalers in your area (check the Yellow Pages under "Lighting Fixtures") and see what they stock. Most have a cash and carry counter and will sell to the public. You'll be a lot happier if you pay a few extra dollars for a good quality product.


This kind of stupidity is why laws like EPACT 1992 have been so important in controlling the pace of energy consumption growth in the U.S.

You're in or close to Portland, right? I've started mapping out the Tracked Halogens at various stores in the area.

It's truly an unmet need around here...


Hello Bob,

I'm still living up near Waterville, but I get down to Portland two or three times each month. Next trip is probably next Sunday, Nov. 20 for a class.

The usual problem with these stores is that the retail stores are tenants in someone else's building, so they may be paying the electric bill but someone else owns the building and the light fixtures.

Typically the tenants won't pay to upgrade the landlord's lights unless they have many years left on their lease, and the landlords won't pay anything to upgrade lights unless the tenant signs a long extension on the lease.

But maybe if we were to start making noises about boycotting stores with wasteful lighting........

Manganese Oxide / Carbon / Sodium battery:

Video: Batteries made of salt, water last 10X longer

Aquion Energy

Daily Kos: The-edible-battery-thats-too-good-for-electric-cars

Jay Whitacre

Very interesting, these seem to offer a big step forward. I hope it does not fizzle but there seems to be a good team behind it.


Not without a hint.


I'm shocked. Totally shocked. Next thing you know we'll hear the right complain about oil wars being subsidies for oil and the government using war to pick winners and losers.

Naw, it'll never happen.

Meanwhile corn ethanol haters have a new solution: corn butanol.


Butanol and ethanol are both alcohols and can be made from the same feedstocks, but they have different properties when used as fuel. Ethanol is cheaper to produce and higher octane than butanol, but ethanol is difficult to ship through pipelines and in some blends can damage conventional service station pumps as well as boat engines and power equipment. Cars get less mileage on ethanol blends because ethanol has about two-thirds the energy content of gasoline. Butanol has 82 percent of the energy content of gasoline.

So corn butanol has 82% the energy of gasoline but will not get less mileage? Plus it costs more and has lower octane. Doesn't sound like a solution to corn ethanol to me.

But since it uses corn, I can live with it.

Greece Turns to Iranian oil...

Should have seen it coming. Hindsight is annoying.


I hate to sound like a smartaxx, but depending on the pov, this is not a bad stop gap.

First, the Greeks get some oil for a while longer on credit;not bad for them since they are broke.
Second the Iranians get screwed out of whatever they deliver on credit, as it looks likely that the Greeks are going to default before too long.

So we have effectively kicked the Greek can down the road while allowing the Iranians to make fools of themselves-unless they want to get paid by vacationing in Greece.The Greeks surely aren't capable of paying in olive oil or wine !

Uncle Sam will be happy because the Iranians will have less to spend on their bomb project.

Of course the Iranians are probably happy to risk the money just for the opportunity to thumb their noses at the US.

Re Hubbert's Third prophecy

This article mentions total debt (government, household, financial business, business) to GDP ratio for the US reaching 475%. However, wikipedia's mention of the debt to GDP ratio here:


Mentions only the government debt to GDP ratio, which reached 100% in the 3rd qtr of 2011.

so my question is: it seems that we only hear about the latter in the MSM; is that because it is really a more useful indicator of the situation, or is the TOTAL debt simply not mentioned because of how amazingly high it is?

or is the TOTAL debt simply not mentioned because of how amazingly high it is?

Bingo! I've noticed the same phenomenon. Talk is always surrounding the deficit, and how to get those pesky trillion a year plus deficits lower.

If the budget was balanced and the total debt paid down 100 billion a year, it would take 146 years to pay it off. I had to double check the math because that seemed like way too many years, but it's right. 10 years for each trillion owed (at a paydown of 100 billion a year) x 14.6 = 146 years.

Won't take 146 years to pay down.

Possibility 1: Incremental growth (and the exponential factor) will eventually raise sufficient revenues to turn deficits into surpluses.

Mounting energy constraints and stagnant productivity means this is increasingly improbable.

Possibility 2: Inflate the money supply. Print (or electronically generate) enough greenbacks to fill in the sinkhole.

Seriously risks the status of the American dollar as reserve currency worldwide. Should outside countries decide to cease stockpiling US$ as a means of facilitating trade, there would be a corresponding severe decline in the consumer purchasing power of American households across the board.

Possibility 3: Default.
What that looks like- especially with regards to a fiat benchmark currency in relationship to a global marketplace - is anybody's guess. Unprecedented.

Possibility 4: Perpetual bondage.
Whereby the sins of the father are visited upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation.

Possibility 5: Raise taxes.
At least to equivalencies found in other OECD countries. Match revenues to expenditures. Most people's mortgages, even when subject to conservative lending practices, can be leveraged to exceed yearly income by several factors. A dedicated stream of money allotted over the long term is able to handle it quite nicely.

US policy makers are hoping for 1, counting on 2, and will resort to 3 when all other options are exhausted. They'll have to settle for #4 if the first three fail, which of course is back to your 146 year scenario.

Then there is the sensible solution, 5. Politically, an anathema, yes, but doable with political will.

Other possibilities include: going back to the gold standard (with a ratio of 1600 to one, that would nominate the debt in quantities of billions) - or - the Chinese taking over the whole shebang and replacing dollars with savings backed yuans - or - a cosmic shift, the dawning of the age of Aquarius, with its "golden living dreams of visions, mystic crystal revelation, and the mind's true liberation." Who needs money with "harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding?" Raising taxes is much, much easier.

Trucks vs rail for grain shipment.

The bigger question is how prairie or broadacre farming is to be done at all on the PO downslope. Before you have any crop to harvest you need oil to drive tractor drawn plows and seeders and gas to make nitrogen fertilisers such as urea. Then you need combine harvesters and trucks (or rail) to get the grain to the big silos that presumably operate on coal or gas fired electricity. Then to the flour millers, grocery producers, delivery trucks, supermarkets and finally we happy consumers as we drive home in our cars laden with bread, cookies, breakfast cereal and so on.

Don't tell me we'll replace synthetic fertiliser with compost. We're talking millions of hectares of flat surface not a backyard vegie patch. Nor horse drawn plows, hand harvesting by scythe and stacking the crop in sheaves before threshing to remove the grain. Then off to the wind powered flour mill where sacks of stone ground flour are taken by horse buggy to the corner store. I don't have a solution for a world of 7 bn people but I suggest it would help not to burn so much natural gas in power stations. Give priority to food production both as fertiliser input and powering farm machinery.

You are right. Agriculture will determine who lives and who dies, and it is not possible to feed 7 billion on preindustrial technology.

There are some concepts out there. Ammonia can be made from surplus wind electricity:

It can be used as fertilizer and to power engines (there are better references but I am in China and a lot is inaccessible.)

These schemes are not at all well developed and can at best be described as perhaps hopeful.

This is an interesting article: A Battle for Oil Production Is Brewing

Almost across the board, major oil companies are producing less oil now than they were a year ago. It’s not due to a lack of exploration and development – these companies have all devoted billions of dollars to finding new oil deposits. The problem is that for the most part it will still take years – and many more dollars – before those investments start producing.

In the meantime, big oil’s output will keep declining unless majors start using some of their record profits to buy up producing assets from smaller companies. Oil wells produce less each year; Exxon’s oil fields, for example, are declining by 5 to 7% each year, which means the company needs to add 200,000 to 300,000 barrels of production a day just to break even.

Wow! And to think, there are still some folks who think peak oil is nonsense. But the main thing to take away from this is that existing fields are declining by 5 to 7% per year. Okay, call it 6%. That's a lot. This means that about 6% is the average worldwide, even for national oil companies. So this means that about 4.3 million barrels per day of new oil must be found each year just to stay even. That is not likely to happen.

Please note that I am using crude oil here, not all liquids. If all liquids is your thing, then about 5.3 million barrels per day of new "liquids" must be found each year just to stay even. And even that is not likely to happen.

Ron P.

What do you think the overall decline (in millions of barrels per day) is going to be starting 2012?

Well the EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook says non-OPEC "liquids" will be up by 1.1 mb/d next year. But then they say that non-OPEC "liquids" will be up by .42 mb/d this year when I expect that non-OPEC C+C will be down by about .2 mb/d. So how much of the gain they expect next year will be bottled gas and how much will be crude oil? Anyway I think their estimate is way too high.

But to answer your question, I expect non-OPEC crude oil to be down next year but only slightly, really close to even. I am not predicting what OPEC will do but I really expect their 2012 production to be down slightly.

EIA Short Term Energy Outlook prediction for non-OPEC liquids in millions of barrels per day.

                       2010     2011    2012
Total non-OPEC liquids 51.77	52.19	53.29

Ron P.

re: Steepness of PO downslope

As has been pointed out before, the amount of oil available for purchase by oil-importing countries is the difference between world oil production (declining curve) and internal consumption by oil-exporting countries (rising curve), i.e., net exportable oil.

The resulting PO downslope looks more like the trajectory of water going over Niagara Falls than the gentle decline implied by a fixed annual decline rate.

True. Human psychology is another factor. Expect a lot of hoarding, nationalization, off-market contracts and gunboat diplomacy in coming years. Worse thing is that this will prevent better exploration and steepen the curve.

But the main thing to take away from this is that existing fields are declining by 5 to 7% per year. Okay, call it 6%. That's a lot. This means that about 6% is the average worldwide, even for national oil companies. So this means that about 4.3 million barrels per day of new oil must be found each year just to stay even. That is not likely to happen.

And yet a little calculation reveals that it has been happening for a long time now. Take the 6% decline and run it backwards on global oil production for 1-5-10 years. What you rapidly discover is that this type of decline has already erased tens of millions of barrels a day of production, and yet production hasn't declined, no new exporting countries have joined OPEC during that time period, surplus capacity has never been large enough to account for it, and certainly no 1-2-3 new Saudi Arabias have been discovered. Which means that using group decline calculations don't work particularly well when doing these types of calculations.

For historical perspective, it should be noted that when Jimmy Carter told us we war running out of oil in 1977, he used this same type of logic. Obviously either A) we ran out and no one noticed or B) it didn't work for him either.

And yet a little calculation reveals that it has been happening for a long time now...

Which means that using group decline calculations don't work particularly well when doing these types of calculations.

Bruce, I had to laugh when I read your post. I thought, "Is this guy kidding?" But of course you are not, you are dead serious. So please have a look at this gif: The Growing Gap It has been reproduced here about a hundred times but apparently you didn't see it. Or perhaps you did see it but just didn't understand it.

Of course existing fields have been declining for decades. But it was not until the mid 80 that we started using more oil every year than we were discovering. But even then we still had a huge backlog of reserves to draw on. Your statement that these calculations don't work would only be true if we kept finding more, or at least as much oil as we were using as we did in the past. But we are not and that is the point.

Ron P.

The growing gap graph has nothing to do with aggregate decline. The growing gap graph also doesn't have much to do with the rate at which rate produced barrels are being replaced by reserve barrels either. I believe Yergin cites one number while those fascinated with discovery graphs cite the other. It would be honest to recognize both, but that is probably too much to ask of anyone but a scientist.

2nd paragraph under "Discoveries and Additions"


Your huge backlog of reserves argument is correct. So much so that the trillions (plural) of flowing crude oil yet available means we certainly haven't used half, and the issue is much more one of development than it is of discovery. I specifically exclude "building" crude oil out of things like coal or natural gas because at this point in time (considering the amounts already in the known endowment column) it isn't necessary.

Oh, you quote from "The Quest" by Daniel Yergin. Had I known he was your hero, and the source of your information, I would have answered differently, not really bothering to explain as I did.

Not that Yergin doesn't deserve to be debated because he does. His ideas have been discussed, and I believe debunked, many times on the net. It is just that I am not in the mood to do it myself.

Ron P.

Oh, you quote from "The Quest" by Daniel Yergin. Had I known he was your hero, and the source of your information, I would have answered differently, not really bothering to explain as I did.

Quoting information from a source does not equate with that quote being a hero, ask anyone ever required to write a term paper on the Third Reich and who properly footnotes. Yergin's point is different than those who chase the growing gap chart you provided.

This is perhaps important, because Yergin bases his conclusions on the IHS database, versus something like the BP World information. There is a chance that his better information makes him difficult to refute, certainly when Laherrere (someone I would expect to have, and use, the IHS database) responded to Yergin's WSJ article he pulled this same type of topic change at exactly this point (I call it the dodge/duck/dip/dive/dodge defense). It would be nice if someone would refute that particular point and settle this thing already.

It helps to carefully read what Yergin, et al have been saying, since their projections have gotten progressively less optimistic (they hit Peak Optimism in 2005):


Given Mr. Yergin’s current prediction for less than a one percent per year increase in Total Liquids production, which is roughly consistent with what we have seen from 2005 to 2010, it appears that Mr. Yergin--probably without realizing it--is effectively predicting a continued decline in Global Net Exports.

It helps to carefully read what Yergin, et al have been saying, since their projections have gotten progressively less optimistic (they hit Peak Optimism in 2005):

That is a good article. Do you have a link to one which accurately dissects peak oil projections? Certainly Simmons didn't lose his bet because his peak-centric based predictions were any better.

In addition to Ron comment about the growing gap; it is also worth noting that the replacement of 4 million barrels in declining production is happening at higher & higher annual average price, this has been the case for the last 6 years; at some point the replacement cost of the depleting barrels will get too expensive to the point of chocking economic growth, some would argue we already at this point; accordingly it is short sighted to look at replacement only, in an economic construct you need to account for production costs & market clearing prices; perhaps at $500 oil we can produce much more then we do today, but what is the point if the economy will be in shambles!?.


Well yes that's the whole point right. Steve from Virginia is one of the best commentators on this.

There are alot of things going on that nobody wants to quite admit to, at least not openly. Credit is being destroyed around the world, and in response base money is being printed. This base money bids up the price of crude, which destroys even more credit.

We can't get out from under this. Why? Because the world economy runs on crude. And we can't get off crude, because we can't replace the transportation energy.

Which basically means we either go down by conservation or go down by credit destruction. We're going down, either way.

I'm wondering if someone can help answer a question for me. I've been reading about nuclear power lately trying to gain a better understanding of the topic. I was reading about Uranium on Wikipedia where it said that the concentration of uranium in soil ranges from 0.7 to 11 parts per million. This made me think about another Wikipedia entry I read which said that the Energy per kilogram of Uranium 238 is 20 terajoules. Both of these facts taken together seem to indicate that the energy density of soil ranges from 14 to 220 mega joules per kilogram. Is this correct or am I misunderstanding something?

That is correct. Also, Thorium is 3-4 times more abundant, and as energy dense as Uranium.

No it's not correct. Fissile U-235 has about 83 terajoules/kg. Someone editing Wikipedia has made a mistake when they listed U-238 as having about 20 tj/kg. That figure could apply to an enriched uranium mix but not a natural sample. Only 0.72% of natural uranium is U-235.

Oh and when did natural thorium become fissile?

Anyway E=mc2 says 90 terajoules per gramme of anything. We're saved!

Again, it is correct and no mistake. But you do need breeder reactors, of course.

Anyway E=mc2 says 90 terajoules per gramme of anything. We're saved!

We don't have any realistic means of getting that energy out of arbitrary mass. However, there has been many running breeder reactors, so we can get the 20 TJ/kg out of U-238. It's just a bit cheaper to do the ordinary once-through light-water reactors right now, with the abundant uranium and the LWR head-start in deployment.

And these breeder reactors are started up with what?

Fissiles from scrapped nuclear weapons and recycled plutonium from used nuclear reactor fuel.

I'm interested in learning more about breeder reactors. Do you know of any good sites where I can learn about them?

How about this site: 58.57814°N 3.75233°W

If you mean websites you have heard of Wikipedia and Google?

Sorry to be flippant but the answer is obvious.

I've already read the Wikipedia article, and I have of course used Google to look for stuff. Still it doesn't hurt to see if he, or anyone else who read the question for that matter, knows any websites that are particularly good.

Well if you checked out my coordinates that might lead you to http://www.dounreay.com/ where you can watch a "lovely" 6 minute film on the UK's abandoned breeders at http://www.dounreay.com/news-room/dounreay-tv

edit: Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/DounreayTV - lots of interesting stuff.

The UK government recently abandoned a long term pledge to clean up the particles of high level waste strewn along the shoreline at Dounreay, due to an explosion in a mixed reactor waste/ chemical dump at the site some decades ago.

The explosion was unrelated to the breeder reactor itself, but it revealed shockingly (to outsiders) inept or cavalier attitudes to safety at the plant, in the period when it was being developed. Nobody knew what was in the dump that exploded.

In the end we cannot safely decommission nuclear power in a powered down world.

Try energyfromthorium.com for thorium breeding to U233.

The point was U-238 and Th-232 can be consumed by fission technology -some of it has to be pretty involved, i.e. we breed U-238 into Pu-239, and Thorium 232, into U-233. The breeder ratio on the later is pretty low (I think just above 1), so it would be tough to bootstrap a Thorium economy.

Yes and my point was exactly that we first have to turn u-238 and thorium-232 into plutonium-239 and uranium-233 before they become fissile.

Breeder reactors aren't a free lunch. I'm not suggesting you think that though.

True, breeder reactors needs lots of qualified labour to build and run. Fortunately are some large countries investing a lot in education.

I'm not saying it is advisable -either from a safety perspective or from an economic perspective, but given a strong enough motive it could be accomplished technically.

Anything that increases the amount of plutonium in the world has potentially incalculable costs. That combined with the nuclear power industry's habit of exploding every so often, doesn't fill me with confidence. Perhaps thorium? Seems inherently less dangerous on paper but haven't made my mind up.

I'm not inherently anti-nuclear but Fukushima just confirms my view that the risks are far too high the way we do things today. If nuclear power can really be done "safely" then I'm all for it. The question is can it?

What if the alternative to nuclear power is an energy crunch leaving 6.5 out of 7 billion dead, or a climate tipping point triggering an anoxic event with even worse results?

Is nuclear power still too risky? Should we do the die-off thing instead?

..as if the choice is simply 'Nuclear Power OR your dreadful alternatives'

Since we are already heading into real likelihoods of transp. fuel interruptions anywhere and everywhere around the globe, as well as extremes in climate events and regional hydrology, and finally economic instability, we've already got three clear and serious vulnerabilities for Fission Power that show just how inappropriate a choice Nuclear is as a choice for new generation today.

It's not the Hero on a White horse coming in to save us in the rough days.. Nuclear is not good during rough times.. what are the odds one of the Nuclear Power carrying countries gets into a hot war in the next 30 yrs? Even if a plant doesn't take a hit, are the cooling systems going to be kept running if the grid is out and the Families withdraw.. or a dam blows up downstream and the river disappears? It really wouldn't take much to trip things up very badly.

It's not the Hero on a White horse coming in to save us in the rough days..

No, but it's the Hero on a White horse coming in to save us in the bright days ahead.

I understand, if you believe doomsday will come anyway, you think we should give up, dismantle the nuclear plants and do the die-off thing as soon as possible. This would make doom as mild as possible and leave the few remaining people a better chance of creating a new beginning, right?

But wouldn't that an awful burden to bear, if you had the power to decide? You'd essentially take the decision to give up and take responsibility for the billions dead, based on your theory of doom. I'd rather take a chance that we're headed for a Star Trek future, and put about equal value on all doom scenarios, i.e. not care whether the 0-10% humans surviving has a non-radioactive environment or not.

I'd rather take a chance that we're headed for a Star Trek future, and put about equal value on all doom scenarios, i.e. not care whether the 0-10% humans surviving has a non-radioactive environment or not.

That's the Star Trek future where we have Nuclear World War 3 and things don't even start to turn around until the Vulcans show up in 2063?


SPOCK: If memory serves, there was a dubious flirtation with nuclear fission reactors resulting in toxic side effects. By the beginning of the fusion era, these reactors had been replaced, but at this time, we may be able to find some.
KIRK: I thought you said they were toxic.

You DON'T make your contingency plans for Sunny days where your books are in the black.

I don't 'believe' we're guaranteed doom and strife.. I am certainly not advocating 'doing nothing and waiting for dieoff', as you should know by the many (NON-Nuclear) directions I advocate for here on a daily basis.. but that doesn't mean I dismiss the likelihood that we'll see more Grid Interruptions, Oversized Financial Challenges, Extreme Weather events, various signs of the limits we have been pushing hard against for a few decades now, and to look at how well a High Tension, High Investment, Tempermental Technology like Nuclear would fare "IF Climate Change is real and starts kicking us harder.." for instance.

You create a false 'decision' about opting for Dieoff.. and then put it against the hopes of a Star Trek future. Fantasy upon fantasy..

I don't 'believe' we're guaranteed doom and strife.. I am certainly not advocating 'doing nothing and waiting for dieoff', as you should know by the many (NON-Nuclear) directions I advocate for here on a daily basis.

What is your take on alternatives, then? We can't really powerdown, realistically. So either intermittent renewable energy sources will replace fossils or there will be climate doom. Or?

I think renewables won't cut it, and that we need nuclear. I'd like to be wrong, though, but it really doesn't seem so.

Yes and my point was exactly that we first have to turn u-238 and thorium-232 into plutonium-239 and uranium-233 before they become fissile.

Sure, but the tech to do this is proven.

Breeder reactors aren't a free lunch.

Nothing is. But breeder tech is cheap enough to provide one route to business as usual. We may not take it - we may choose another path - to doom, to BAU or something else entirely, but the breeder route is definitely there. IMHO, it is likely the dominating energy source in the year 2100.

Zero Thorium commercial reactors currently.

This is the sort of thing that cities should be doing to deal with the Peak Oil era:

Majority of Metro Vancouver mayors set to boost gas tax to pay for more transit

METRO VANCOUVER - Seven Metro Vancouver mayors, including those in Surrey and Vancouver, will vote in favour of a TransLink plan Friday that calls for a two-cents-a-litre boost in the gas tax to pay for the Evergreen Line and other regional transit projects.

Calling it an “unprecedented show of strength,” the mayors, who represent 70 per cent of Metro’s 2.5-million population, say it’s critical to start building a regional transit system to ease congestion and offer transportation options for the movement of goods and people.

Now, under any reasonable circumstances, Alberta can keep Vancouver supplied with as much oil and products as it needs, delivered down the TransMountain pipeline from the oil sands. However, it is economically more efficient to sell the oil to the US (and China) and let Vancouver use BC's vast resources of hydroelectricity. Vancouver residents can ride cheap electric buses (which they have) and electric trains (which they have) - or use bicycles as many of them do - and Americans (and Chinese) can pay top dollar for the expensive oil they need to keep their cars and trucks mobile.

These are intelligent mayors - envision a US President with that level of intellect.
PS. I'm scared with the President wannabes in the ongoing prez-race.

There are plans in the Montreal area to turn several of the busiest bus routes into BRT systems using electric trolley-buses, and running on electricity from Hydro Quebec. One route along Boulevard Pie X is already under construction. And in a related story, they recently stopped buying hybrid transit buses, in favor of the electric trolley-buses.

It would seem that we are entering a period of "Revolving Door" politics in OECD countries, as voters turn against the party in power, in effect hoping--without realizing it--that someone can figure out a way to maintain an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base (and bring back cheap oil), while Global Net Exports and Available Net Exports of oil will probably show an accelerating rate of decline.

As voters periodically change the makeup of the officers on the bridge of the Titanic, perhaps we should be focused on encouraging vocational and agricultural training in high schools and community colleges. An article from the NYT:

Young Farmers Find Huge Obstacles to Getting Started

“Everyone wants young farmers to succeed — we all know that,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, who oversaw the survey. “But no one was addressing this big elephant in the room, which was capital and land access.” Ms. Shute’s husband, Benjamin, runs Hearty Roots Community Farm in the Hudson Valley, which delivers seasonal produce to 500 families. Ms. Shute said she hoped that the survey results, released on Wednesday, would demonstrate to the United States Department of Agriculture and to Congress that young farmers, although passionate, have needs that must be addressed.
The obstacles are formidable.

At Quincy Farm in upstate New York, Luke Deikis and Cara Fraver say they are living their dream, harvesting cabbage, sweet potatoes and carrots on a 49-acre property on the Hudson River. Still, even after three years of farming, Ms. Fraver, 30, waits tables, and Mr. Deikis, 31, moonlights as an engineer in the film industry, occasionally driving three and a half hours to Manhattan to pay the bills.

""Still, even after three years of farming, Ms. Fraver, 30, waits tables, and Mr. Deikis, 31, moonlights as an engineer in the film industry, occasionally driving three and a half hours to Manhattan to pay the bills."

No change in my lifetime. I grew up on a 120 acre, 45 cow family dairy farm. Dad got tired of all the work for so little pay as well as the complete lack of time off, and sold it. Milk prices have not gone up since then, so he'd have ended up working off the farm to try to keep it going anyway. So why bother? Just keep the town job, and enjoy only working 40 hours a week and relax a little on the weekend.

No, milk prices were at a record high this year.

Cropp sees lower but still good milk prices in 2012

July and August brought record high base milk prices, over $21 per hundredweight.

Two ways to go from 45 cows: bigger or out of business.

Yet another way: Permaculture

Permaculture is just another word for wage slavery in town if you apply it to the real day to day week to week situation of earning a living farming.There is a lot to be said for it as a lifestyle choice and as a fertile area of research , however.

Let's face it folks-farming for a living is a lot like being a musician.Too many people are willing to do it,really want to do it, actually, and there is not enough business to go around.

The name of the game is either volume and industrial style low costs, or direct to customer marketing, bypassing all middlemen.There are only a few people situated to succeed in this direct marketing;the obstacles in terms of location, land costs, and regulatory overload are huge.

I used to know lots of musicians during my long hair partying days-every last one of them had to work a regular job in order to eat, excepting a few celebrities I met while working as a driver on a movie set.

The currently high milk prices are not high enough to cover the costs of producing milk-the dairy industry will continue to consolidate until eventually the producers have pricing power due to either a cartel like marketing system, or enough concentrated political influence to work out something similar to the deal enjoyed by sugar producers.The sugar farmers have both aspects covered nicely, unless I am out of date.

Industrialized agriculture/factory farming seems to fit well with corporate feudalism, and that's where you'll find your wage-slavery (etc.).

Did you read my previous reply to you, by the way? It is relevant in this context as well.
Here it is again:

What I was referring to is how agriculture is and was done in certain contexts, and vis-a-vis permaculture and perhaps old native land management in mind.
In effect, or IOW, as it is understood; the seeds (of questionable farming practices) were sown... (i.e., tilling the soil; monoculture; razing forests, unnecessarily-hard work and drudgery for rapidly-diminishing returns, soil erosion/runoff/degradation, and then on to fossil-fuel inputs [green revolution, pesticides] and genetically modified crops, etc..).

The Eden that Europeans described when they reached North America was not a wilderness, but a well-managed resource, a complex combination of nature and culture, ecology and economy, a system so subtle and effective that it eluded the settlers who saw only natural wealth free for the taking. The result of this land grab in North America is that only 2% of the land is now wild, its major rivers are polluted, its lakes have caught fire, and its forests are dying from the top down. The tragedy of this commons was that it never really was a commons after colonization, but was surrendered to plunder, privatization, and exploitation in the name of Manifest Destiny and progress."
~ http://www.intelligentagent.com

...if we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. And people must see these forests and wilderness as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the universities, then we would lose nothing, but if we lose the forest, we lose everything.
~ Bill Mollison

A Farm For The Future
A Food Forest Garden

...unless I am out of date. ~ oldfarmermac

Future of Food

I started noting the pattern down in the 2006 midterms; it's getting rather predictable now. Harder to tell with the presidency as there is only one spot, but Obama will have his work cut out for him...

I'm guessing based on the difficulties in getting started farming is not going to get too many takers until the service economy really starts contracting dramatically. Then, there'll be less choice and more demand for manual labor if fossil fuel-subsidized monocultures start going by the wayside and ideas on permaculture or at least more sustainable agriculture become more accepted. Perhaps in 5 years?

I agree with the premise, but I would hardly call it predictable. Both the Republicans and Democrats seem intent on self destruction. Which means that voters are choosing between the lesser of two evils, and you can't really say how that's going to work out election by election.

A couple more cycles of this, and people will start to understand this ship isn't reaching port. 2016 to 2020 should be interesting.

Petri dish to dinner plate, in-vitro meat coming soon

Her analysis, published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal earlier this year, found that growing our favorite meats in-vitro would use 35 to 60 percent less energy, emit 80 to 95 percent less greenhouse gas and use around 98 percent less land than conventionally produced animal meat.

"We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now," Tuomisto, who led the research at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, said in a telephone interview.

But she said cultured meat "could be part of the solution to feeding the world's growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water."

The fallout from the Obama adminstration's decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline continues to get worse.

Flaherty talks tough with U.S. in wake of Keystone pipeline delay

In a move that reflects a widening rift with Canada’s largest trading partner, a senior Harper government minister is warning that Washington’s decision to postpone a review of the Keystone XL pipeline could doom the project and speed up Ottawa’s efforts to ship oil to Asia instead.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered this message from the sidelines of the APEC summit in Honolulu as U.S. foot-dragging over the $7-billion Canadian pipeline’s fate becomes the latest in a string of trade irritants between Canada and the United States.

“The decision to delay it that long is actually quite a crucial decision. I’m not sure this project would survive that kind of delay,” Mr. Flaherty told Bloomberg News.

“It may mean that we may have to move quickly to ensure that we can export our oil to Asia through British Columbia.”

It’s been an awkward few months for Canada-U.S. relations.

First, in September, the Obama administration excluded Canadian firms from bidding on $100-billion (U.S.) worth of U.S. infrastructure contracts in the name of supporting homegrown jobs. In October, the United States announced it would slap a $5.50 tax on Canadians entering by airplane or ship as a way to help reduce Washington’s $1-trillion-plus deficit.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department compounded Canadian frustrations by announcing it won’t approve or reject the proposed pipeline until after the November, 2012, presidential election – a delay of about 12 to 15 months.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu was rather nice to Prime Minster Harper.

Canada, China committed to co-operation

HONOLULU — Prime Minister Stephen Harper scored a key bilateral meeting with China on Saturday and some mild praise from Chinese President Hu Jintao for Canada's commitment to sewing stronger ties between the two countries.

In a day of four bilateral talks with leaders on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Honolulu, president Hu was undoubtedly the biggest for Harper, both diplomatically and economically.

China is Canada's second-largest trading partner, next only to the United States, and a key customer for Canadian natural resources and agricultural products.

"This is a very important relation to us. We've had, continue to have, a series of productive bilateral ministerial visits between our two countries and we have growing trade, investment and of course even greater economic potential," Harper responded.

When he came to office, Harper was rather hostile toward the Chinese, but I think his mood has changed. On the other side, I think the Chinese know an opportunity when they see one.

“It may mean that we may have to move quickly to ensure that we can export our oil to Asia through British Columbia.”

On the other hand:

The reality is that anything short of a go-ahead in December for Keystone XL would plunge the oil sands sector into disarray until new solutions move forward. The worst-case scenario? Stranded oil sands — for years.

Excerpt fron Vancouver Sun:

Gilchrist said there's no plausible time line for completion of Northern Gateway because the project faces such strong opposition in B.C. - notably because of oil spill threats to salmon and other fish from hundreds of pipeline stream crossings.

So far more than 4,000 people have signed up to address a National Energy Board hearing on Gateway that commences in January - about seven times as many as any previous NEB hearing, Gilchrist said.

"When you look at the first nations opposition to Northern Gateway you have over 70 first nations. There are a lot of unsettled land claims. You're looking at some of the strongest first nations in Canada, the Haida, the Haisla, the Wet'suwet'en. These aren't people that are going to stand down.

"If it ever gets through a review process you are going to be caught up in the Supreme Court for years."


You're looking at some of the strongest first nations in Canada, the Haida, the Haisla, the Wet'suwet'en. These aren't people that are going to stand down.

And they're not alone.

We're living at a dangerous moment because... 'empire', is in its last gasp, and empire, when it's in its last gasp will do anything to sustain itself... The US does not want to see the indigenous view of water, or natural gas, or oil, or resources in the ground to prevail... I was in a meeting of U'wa people who are fighting oil development in Colombia... and [the way] they talk about oil... [is] completely alien to the western development and corporate development model-- it just can't be understood even. So as a result, corporations, and US and prevailing western powers, don't think anything negative at all about going in and overpowering that if they can get away with it.
~ Jerry Mander, 'Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible'

If it ever gets through a review process you are going to be caught up in the Supreme Court for years.

"Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government."
~ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

The first Proudhom quote that I can recall on TOD.
Not traditionally a place one finds anarchist thought.
However, that may change.

Hughes on need for Canadian energy strategy:

What is routinely absent from discussions about Gateway, Keystone XL, Kitimat LNG, etc is the central, unifying issue of the need for a long-term national energy strategy for Canada.

David Hughes' excellent article (cited above) focuses on some worrisome details about Canada's future NG supply and warns, "Even if no LNG is exported, Canada will become a net importer of gas in 2034 according to these forecasts."

Such a shocking prediction, especially given the credibility of its source, ought to be front-page news in Canada. It isn't, and it won't be in the news at all unless Canadian citizens press the matter.

For over three decades Hughes (a geoscientist and a meticulous researcher) was a public servant with the Geological Survey of Canada who put the public interest first. He is surely one of Canada's most credible authorities on shale gas: Hughes was Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee. His view of the gas supply situation must therefore be viewed as the warning of a highly credible expert. Given the importance of our nation’s primary source of winter heating, his concerning prognosis warrants serious examination at the highest levels of government. Hughes' data & predictions also merit some sustained, sensible analysis from our media.

However, the central point of Dave's article was not to give Canadians the heads-up on their future gas supply. (The National Energy Board itself did that in their Nov. 2007 gas report, and nobody paid any attention to that warning, either.)
I believe that Dave's central point was this (if I may): "The long Canadian tradition of liquidating irreplaceable non-renewable resources as fast as possible [needs to stop].... It is long past time to... develop a coherent strategy for managing the inevitable supply declines going forward... the exclusion of longer term planning is a recipe for disaster."

In other words, Canada needs a comprehensive review of its energy security, both domestically and within the context of global energy supply. We then need a long-range strategy which would put the present and future needs of Canadians first, not last (as Hughes argues is presently the case).

Both the review and the responding strategy are long overdue. If Canadians continue to neglect the issue of fossil fuel depletion, we will soon awaken to the unpleasant reality which has been self-inflicted upon the British. They liquidated their oil & gas over a few brief decades and now find themselves back where they were in 1960: increasingly dependent on imports of oil & natural gas, apparently forever.
The British people surely regret those heady days of liquidation and would no doubt have taken a more prudent long-term approach had they known how suddenly North Sea production would peak and how ferocious the subsequent decline rates would be.

The British experience confirms the validity of Dave Hughes’ warning, which needs to be front-page news if Canadians are to avoid making the same irrevocable error.

This is possibly off topic, but it does relate to an ongoing discussion about the nature of our species and its effect on life on Earth.


This is how bad it's gotten in respect of species conservation:

But now biologists are shifting their priorities away from simple species richness towards what is known as the phyletic diversity, or deep genetic divides among organisms. Rather than trying to protect every single species on Earth, they try to save representatives of as many distinct and diverse evolutionary lines as possible.

The tack of conservationists makes rational sense given their goals, but that it has come to this is one hell of an indictment on our species.

We humans are a plague consuming all that lies before us.

Keystone species; Keystone Pipeline...

We humans are a plague consuming all that lies before us.

I think I've said this before, but, the irony or paradox of our initial success via our technology/systems may be what prove to be our downfall.

If I am reading this correctly through a fog of fatigue, this translates to something like: "We'd be happy if, say, one or two fish-with-backbones survive, because we see the possibility of a world ocean full of only jellyfish and algae. We're no longer worrying about *which* backboned fish, because losing all of them is now on the table. We'd like to see something survive from which species diversity could, over a few more tens of millennia, redevelop."

This kind of triage -- it's desperation time. Words fail me.

OPEC to cut back output as Libya recovers (per Libya)

In the last five months, I have presented a considerable amount of evidence from oil shippers (that is operators of large and very large tankers) that OPEC as a group (excluding Libya) has not – repeat not – increased its overall exports at all. Please note that I am discussing exports, and not output – a distinction that most major media reports appear to ignore.

Even though Libya’s output is recovering:

DOHA — Libya has boosted its oil crude production to 600,000 barrels per day and is expected to add another 200,000 bpd before the end of the year, National Oil Corporation chief Nuri Berouin said on Sunday.

"Our production has reached 600,000 bpd of which 140,000 bpd go to (local) refineries," said Berouin, adding that the remaining 460,000 bpd are exported.

Tripoli expects to raise its oil output to 800,000 bpd before the end of 2011 and reach pre-crisis levels of 1.7 billion bpd by the end of next year, Berouin told reporters on the sidelines of a gas forum meeting in Doha.


OPEC may want to decrease its exports:

NOVEMBER 13, 2011, 7:50 A.M. ET
Libya Oil Head: In Talks With OPEC Over Members Slashing Output

DOHA (Zawya Dow Jones)--OPEC members that raised oil output earlier this year to compensate for the loss of Libyan crude will cut back their production as the North African state keeps pumping more, the head of the country's National Oil Co. said Sunday.

"OPEC members who increased their output following the crisis to compensate for the Libyan oil were mistaken," NOC Chairman Nuri Berruien told Zawya Dow Jones. "They produce different type of crude and they will have to cut back as we've already started production again."

"The more we produce, the more they will have to cut," he said, adding that there are signs that OPEC's quota is likely to remain unchanged until next year.


For more detailed facts and figures about the state of Libya’s oil, see:

Libyan Oil Output Can Reach 800,000 Barrels by End of 2011, Berruien Says
By Robert Tuttle and Nayla Razzouk - Nov 13, 2011 6:53 AM ET


Tripoli expects to raise its oil output to 800,000 bpd before the end of 2011 and reach pre-crisis levels of 1.7 billion bpd by the end of next year.

Since the world only uses approx. 32 billion barrels a year, if little Libya is producing 1.7 billion barrels per day all of our TOD concerns for peak oil have been averted. Step back, Libya will serve the world as much oil as it can burn. Go have a great Sunday and forget about concerns over oil. Halleluya! :<)

An experiment in opening up the Guardian's news coverage

Help shape the Guardian's news coverage by talking to editors and reporters about upcoming stories as we work on them


related Newspaper turns readers into newshounds

An article in today's Sunday paper reports that the people of Maine have reduced heating oil use by 45% from 2004 to 2009, according to U.S EIA.


I'm not sure what they mean by 2009, since a heating season covers parts of two calendar years, Oct. 2009 to April 2010 for example, but the reduction is impressive and appears to be continuing.

For example, this past Thursday, I had a new Tekmar Model 256 boiler controller installed on the heating boiler at a local church building. The new control functions will include outdoor air reset (adjusts boiler water temperature according to outside weather conditions) and auto differential (adjusts oil burner start and stop temperatures to use a wider spread in moderate weather).

Installed cost was only about $210, and I expect it to save at least 10% (120 gallons) of heating oil over the coming heating season.

Charts such as the one below showing the interlinked food index and oil price have been posted several times now:

but I've missed whether someone has explained the reason for the time lag between when food indexes increase and oil price increases. I was working on the assumption that oil price would be carried through the agricultural system with some lag, not the other way around. Is it because anticipations in fuel price increase drive food index up? Can anyone help me out?

Food price spikes are weather related. The food system is vulnerable because of biofuels and the fact that yields have started to flatten out.

It's easy to see from that chart how difficult it will be to feed 7 billion people once oil price jacks up on the descent from peak, or even while it continues to endlessly plateau, with greater demand placed on a given supply.

Hi Breadman,

With an indirect water heater your savings could come in a little higher. Our old boiler use to fire-up every twenty to thirty minutes, run for five, then repeat this cycle just to keep its internal reservoir at its set temperature -- it would do this perhaps sixty or more times a day. The constant short-cycling wasted a lot of fuel, especially during the spring, summer and fall when it was only needed for DHW (it also fouled-up the combustion chamber). We replaced it with a new Slant/Fin boiler and fitted it with a SuperStor Ultra indirect water heater and a Tekmar 260 control system. During the off-season the new boiler kicked-on once or twice a day depending upon our hot water usage and ran for approximately twenty-minutes from a cold start, and it did so only if the SuperStor called for heat. That dropped our fuel oil consumption down to about 1-litre a day (0.26 gallons). Likewise, during the heating season the boiler remained idle until one of the zones called for heat, thus ensuring that it ran only if there was just cause.

In June '08, we added a 70-litre, 115-volt/1.38 kW electric water heater to pre-heat the water fed to the SuperStor. That cut our fuel oil usage even further and a year or so later we decided to leave the boiler turned off and just use electricity. The only downside to the way this works now is that we end up using more hot water than we would otherwise so to offset the standby loses of this second tank, e.g., I wash all of our laundry in hot water. Even so, it's more economical to do this than to reintroduce oil back into the mix (so far this month our electric water heater has used 41.0 kWh which works out to be an average of 3.2 kWh per day, or a little less than 40-cents/day at current rates...in other words, I'm not going to lose any sleep).


Hello Paul,

This church uses a separate electric water heater for the kitchen, so the heating boiler is cold for about five months over the summer. Under those conditions, I think that 10% fuel savings is a reasonable goal.

You're right, the additional savings I speak of are tied to the supply of DHW, which doesn't apply here.


Have you checked the output water temperature? Many boilers are set too hot 60C-70C is a good range.



One of the nice things about a Tekmar control system is that the boiler temperature is automatically adjusted up or down based on the outdoor temperature as well as how long it takes to satisfy the thermostat. Thus, when the weather is mild and the demand for heat is low, the supply temperature is pulled back and when it's bone chill'n cold, it's bumped back up. This reduces fuel consumption and it also increases personal comfort.


That's what the new boiler controller with "outside air reset" is all about. It will automatically adjust the boiler water temperature according to outside weather conditions. Here in Maine most folks still measure by degrees F, so boiler output temp. will vary from about 140 F during moderate weather up to about 180 F for a cold day in mid-January.

Just have to share this. Hope it's not a repeat. I don't keep up as often as I used to.
Edit: I know this is mostly off topic but the heads are mentioned so often around here...

Easter Island Heads Have Bodies

Easter Island Statue Project

Stuff like that is amazing! I thought the headline was a play on words or something. Wow, the bodies are buried. I wonder what the significance was to them for doing that.

Seems the future is catching up with Texas - you know, the state where Rick Perry has added so many jobs, the oil state. Anyone else experiencing similar politics in other states? I was pleasantly surprised with the acknowledgement of peak oil. Maybe he reads TOD?? Item 6 is definitely BAU and will be one of the hardest, and probably last, ways of doing business to change.

CAMPO = Central Area Metropolitan Planning Organization covering the central Texas counties of Williamson, Travis, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell. http://www.campotexas.org/ From the website:

The purpose of CAMPO is to coordinate regional transportation planning with counties, cities, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other transportation providers in the region and to approve the use of federal transportation funds within the region.

(This is from an email forwarded to me by a friend. Don't know the author.)


Living in a fool's paradise

Here some ways that CAMPO's transportation planning philosophy seems unrealistic.

1. CAMPO's and TxDOT's transportation planning models cannot accept the shrinkage of Texas travel demand being documented by the FHWA. The numbers show that total Texas road travel is now shrinking 1-2% per year, but the CAMPO planners are unable to face this trend because TxDOT, and its think tank TTI, are really running the show, and they don't want the Texas MPO planners to face this new reality.

2. CAMPO is oblivious to peak oil, and its implications. The documented reality is that cheap conventional oil peaked globally in 2005. Now we are struggling to keep the game going using much more expensive non-conventional oil like BP was trying to produce in the Gulf, and Canadian tar sands. The reality is that US oil is back up to $99 a barrel today while Brent, which is the real world price, is at $114. Gasoline is a little cheaper than last summer for the moment, but that can't last. The rising price of oil has a depressing effect not only on road demand, but also raises the prices of all goods and commodities.

3. There are really economic forecasts embedded in CAMPO's planning. A decrease in travel implies a decrease in motor fuel taxes on both the state and federal level. Annual state motor fuels tax receipts fell by 2 percent in fiscal 2009. That was due largely to the recession, which caused people to drive less. The lower half or third of the population is struggling just to drive, but CAMPO's travel demand models are blind to this important trend.

4. The Texas Legislature's approach of issuing new state level debt to try to cover TxDOT's shortfalls is clearly unsustainable as a TxDOT bailout mechanism. It got an amendment passed and a few billion dollars, but Texas can't keep delaying an inevitable funding shortfall this way. Texas is projected to need to invest $315 billion by 2030 to keep its roadways in good shape. That's more than $14 billion per year — larger than TxDOT's entire budget of $8 billion in fiscal 2010. The same pattern of denial holds for other areas in the state because TxDOT runs the show from the top down. Perry just appointed Phil Wilson, his lobbyist friend, to head TxDOT, which still appears devoted to the concept that public private partnerships and toll roads are a viable solution.

5. The first thing to break down on the state level will be TxDOT's ability to maintain rural roads. In other parts of the USA, they are starting to be forced to replace paved roads with gravel roads. This will probably happen in Texas too, because there is little alternative. "Our financial resources are declining in proportion to our needs," said Deirdre Delisi, the chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, in testimony before the Legislature earlier this year. "As this trend worsens, it severely impacts our ability to maintain the highway system in rural areas." http://www.texastribune.org/texas-transportation/transportation/texas-mu...

6. CAMPO operates on a philosophy of starting with where the private developer interests predict where growth is going to occur decades from now and then works backwards to assume which taxpayer funded roads, or toll roads, or transit will be needed to make these public taxpayer subsidies for private development possible. There is no cost-effectiveness evaluation or reality check guiding such planning. Lone Star Rail has no idea where it is going to get the nearly $2 billion for its San Antonio to Georgetown commuter rail line so they are obliged to assume that Union Pacific might contribute half, and the other half might be contributed by private developers along the rail corridor. This is optimistic, but is it realistic?

7. Congress is under pressure to cut spending, and has been unable to pass a new federal transportation bill. Given the huge and growing infrastructure situation, and other competing needs, a real reversal of the widening transportation funding gap appears unlikely. Current stop-gap legislation keeping federal transportation dollars flowing to states expires March 31.

8. It now looks like a chain reaction of debt collapse in Europe is inevitable. The root problem there is that to keep the Euro banks solvent, private debt has been transformed into to public debt denominated in Euros, which is now leading to a domino effect of cascading sovereign debt defaults. Since global finance and trade are now so international in nature, this is likely to blow back and depress the US economy further.

WTI-Brent spread is closing fast(right now at $15). MSM can no longer fool people by quoting low prices.