Drumbeat: November 14, 2011

Herman Daly: Wealth, illth, and net welfare

One reason that growth may be uneconomic is that we discover that its neglected costs are greater than we thought. Another reason is that we discover that the extra benefits of growth are less than we thought. This second reason has been emphasized in the studies of self-evaluated happiness, which show that beyond a threshold annual income of some $20-25 thousand, further growth does not increase happiness. Happiness, beyond this threshold, is overwhelmingly a function of the quality of our relationships in community by which our very identity is constituted, rather than the quantity of goods consumed. A relative increase in one’s income still yields extra individual happiness, but aggregate growth is powerless to increase everyone’s relative income. Growth in pursuit of relative income is like an arms race in which one party’s advance cancels that of the other. It is like everyone standing and craning his neck in a football stadium while having no better view than if everyone had remained comfortably seated.

Stuart Staniford: Size of the US underground economy

My sense of the likeliest evolution of society in coming decades is that global economic capitalism will persist but that it become more efficient by continuing to become more automated. Thus it will be able to serve the interests of economic and cultural elites while requiring fewer resources (particularly oil) because it will increasingly not require the services of, or serve the interests of, the masses. I've written on a number of occasions of how I think one of the earliest symptoms of the gradual approach of the "singularity" is the continued lowering of the US male employment/population ratio:

What’s Wrong with Economic Growth?

Dave Gardner is a gutsy guy. Gardner, who is 56, a former corporate filmmaker, set his career aside a few years ago to run for office in his hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, and make a documentary film called Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth that puts forth an unpopular idea–that economic growth is bad for the environment and bad for human happiness.

“I want to make it OK for people to be against growth,” Dave says, when asked why he ran for office and made the movie.

Dave and I fundamentally disagree. I think economic growth is vital, not just to lift billions of people out of poverty–global per capita income is currently about $10,700, if Wikipedia is to be believed–but because societies that are more prosperous are better able to deal with the issues of environmental and social justice that matter most to me.

Energy crisis looming for Asia-Pacific region

Asia-Pacific countries are facing critical energy challenges that threaten to undermine economic and national security in the region, according to leaders from China and Hawaii who spoke at an energy summit during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

BHP Billiton to Spend $4.5B On US Shale This Year

BHP Billiton plans to invest roughly US $4.5 billion developing the shale oil and gas assets it bought in the U.S. this financial year as it ramps up production, the head of the mining company's petroleum division said Monday.

UK Forties oil pumping reduced

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil pumping along the UK's Forties oil pipeline has been reduced in the last few days, trading sources said on Monday, lowering supply of the North Sea crude which usually sets the dated Brent oil benchmark.

The sources said the reduction in volume was due to a problem at the Buzzard oilfield operated by Nexen, one of the fields that feeds the BP Plc operated Forties crude oil pipeline.

EU tightens noose on Syria, urges UN action

European Union nations tightened the noose on Syria on Monday, slapping new sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's regime and urging UN action to protect civilians after eight months of bloodshed.

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc blacklisted a further 18 Syrians, mostly members of the military, bringing to 74 the members of Assad's inner circle hit in past months by an EU assets freeze and travel ban.

Jordan's king calls on Syrian president to step down

Jordan's King Abdullah calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, the BBC reports.

"I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down," he told BBC World News in an exclusive interview.

Libyan Oil Bristles OPEC Once More

Six months after Libya's production shutdown sparked a clash within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Tripoli's oil status is set to pour oil again at the group's next meeting on Dec 14. This time it's not because Libyan barrels are out but because they are back on the market.

Following a swift return of the country's production, a split has resurfaced within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries between members like Kuwait which believe the market still requires extra oil and those like Iran which want other members to cut their output.

Kurds push to cash in gas reserves

Kurdistan is eager for work to begin on the Nabucco pipeline, a dream gas route from Turkey to Europe. But it's not willing to wait too much longer.

Pemex says natgas line explodes in northern Mexico

Experts were determining the cause of the blast but the explosion may have been due to an attempt to tap the pipeline illegally, a Pemex spokesman said.

Coast Guard Admiral to Lead Drilling Safety Bureau

The Interior Department has named James A. Watson IV, a rear admiral in the Coast Guard who helped coordinate the response to BP’s huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to succeed Michael R. Bromwich as director of the department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Chevron drilling caused Brazil oil spill: official

(Reuters) - Drilling by U.S. oil major Chevron off Brazil's coast led to an oil spill near the company's Frade project, an official with Brazil's energy regulator ANP told Reuters on Monday.

Chevron says oil seeps have created a "sheen" with a volume of 400 to 650 barrels of oil in the vicinity of the project, which is located 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

Nuclear plant decommissioning presents array of challenges

How should Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which caused the ongoing nuclear crisis, be dismantled?

The government's Atomic Energy Commission has compiled its first report on decommissioning the plant.

Orbital solar power plants touted for energy needs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The sun's abundant energy, if harvested in space, could provide a cost-effective way to meet global power needs in as little as 30 years with seed money from governments, according to a study by an international scientific group.

Orbiting power plants capable of collecting solar energy and beaming it to Earth appear "technically feasible" within a decade or two based on technologies now in the laboratory, a study group of the Paris-headquartered International Academy of Astronautics said.

Audit faults Air Force's Alaska wind turbines

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Defense Department's attempt to go green at remote radar locations in Alaska by replacing diesel generators with wind turbines was poorly planned and delays could cost millions, according to an audit by the department's inspector general.

A test wind turbine constructed in 2008 at remote Tin City northwest of Nome was built without the benefit of a 12-month wind study. As of July it was producing "sporadic, unusable power," according to the audit, which focuses on three projects that followed.

South Africa gets $250mn loan for wind, solar power

South Africa signed a $250-million (183-million-euro) loan deal with the World Bank on Monday aimed at adding 200 Megawatts of solar and wind power to the coal-dependent country's grid.

Eugene will have no choice but to reduce reliance on oil

Eugene aims to cut fossil fuel use in half by 2030, according to the Oct. 30 Register-Guard. That may seem like an ambitious goal, but city officials believe it’s attainable. On the other hand, I wonder if it’s possible to not cut fossil fuel use in half by 2030.

Many Register-Guard readers probably didn’t notice the small article on Page B4, Oct. 28, “Oil companies face production slowdown.” The reporter, Chris Kahn of The Associated Press, couldn’t bring himself to utter the words “peak oil,” but the article was about exactly that. In spite of record profits and with crude oil prices remaining in the $95 per barrel range, the major oil companies are experiencing declining production. This is peak oil. World oil production has peaked and is now declining.

Commentary: The 2011 ASPO-USA Conference: Truth in Energy, Truth in Community

The 2011 ASPO-USA Conference, held in Washington, DC November 2-5, in the shadow of the US Capitol, attracted more than 300 participants from many walks of life. These attendees were brought together, presumably, by a belief that we are entering an era of inexorable decline in fossil fuel production and a desire to face head-on this very serious yet underreported predicament.

The 27 reasons to fear economic apocalypse

Energy costs are rising, up 15 per cent this year. On top of these we have green taxes being cooked up by energy minister Chris Huhne. Industry is already squealing. Last week the British Plastics Federation president Philip Watkins demanded an investigation into prices. BP has forecast energy demand will rise 40 per cent by 2030, the equivalent of adding two current-day Chinas. If supply can’t rise with demand, prices will continue to hit new highs.

Reaching a Comfort Level With Geoengineering

Until recently, the idea of coping with climate change by means of geoengineering was something it seemed no one wanted to talk about. Even people who saw potential merit in deliberately altering conditions on Earth or in the atmosphere to mitigate climate change feared that if people thought there was an engineering fix, it would encourage them to abandon efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

All that is changing, as a new report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “Geoengineering for Decision Makers,” reflects.

Regions must brace for weather extremes: UN climate panel

Southern Europe will be gripped by fierce heatwaves, drought in North Africa will be more common, and small island states face ruinous storm surges from rising seas, according to a report by UN climate scientists.

The assessment is the most comprehensive probe yet by the 194-nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) into the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.

Devastation at Japan Site, Seen Up Close

AT FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, Japan — The most striking feature at this crippled plant on Saturday was not the blasted-out reactor buildings, or the makeshift tsunami walls, but the chaotic mess.

The ground around the hulking reactor buildings was littered with mangled trucks, twisted metal beams and broken building frames, left mostly as they were after one of the world’s largest recorded earthquakes started a chain reaction that devastated the region and, to some extent, Japan. The damage reached the second story, a testament to the size of the tsunami that slammed into the reactor buildings, which sit 33 feet above the sea.

Crude Futures Decline as Italy Names New Leader, China Sees ‘Soft Landing

Oil dropped, erasing earlier gains, on concern that new leadership in Italy may not contain the European debt crisis and China’s demand for crude may weaken.

West Texas Intermediate fell as much as 1.3 percent after rising earlier to $99.69 a barrel, the highest level since July 26. Italy’s president offered Mario Monti, a former European Union competition commissioner, the post of prime minister yesterday. The International Monetary Fund’s Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min said yesterday the world’s second-largest economy was heading for a “soft landing” as growth slows.

Domestic Inefficiency Also Crucial Energy Issue

Russia wastes almost one-third of the energy that it uses — an amount similar to that consumed by Britain every year, the report said. Potential yearly savings of natural gas alone, about 180 billion cubic meters, are equivalent to Gazprom's entire annual export volumes.

Petrobras Profit Slides 26% on Currency, Higher Fuel Imports

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, said third-quarter profit fell 26 percent as rising domestic demand forced it to increase imports and a weaker local currency boosted costs.

Japanese Power Utilities Boost October Liquefied Natural Gas Imports 20%

Japan’s 10 regional utilities imported 20.1 percent more liquefied natural gas in October as reliance on thermal generation grows because of the lowest operating rates at nuclear plants in at least 34 years.

Power-generation companies led by Tokyo Electric Power Co. imported 3.9 million metric tons of LNG in the month, up from 3.25 million tons a year earlier, according to data released by the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan today.

Libya expects to produce 800,000 barrels of crude by end of 2011

Libya, the holder of Africa’s biggest oil reserves, will produce as much as 800,000 barrels of crude a day by the end of this year, the chairman of state-run National Oil Corp. said. Libya’s oil industry will recover more quickly than the International Energy Agency predicted after suffering disruptions this year amid fighting that engulfed the country, Nuri Berruien said Sunday in an interview in Doha, Qatar.

Canada eyes Asia after U.S. delays Keystone project

(Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday his country will make a bigger push to sell its energy products to Asia after Washington delayed a decision to approve the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline project.

"This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asia markets for our energy products," Harper told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Analysis: Canada oil export hopes at risk after pipeline delay

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The delay in a massive Canada-Texas pipeline project will inflame opposition to other export options for crude from Canada's oil sands and threaten the nation's aim of becoming a top global energy supplier.

Canada’s oil industry faces an urgent search for new markets

The lengthy delay in a U.S. decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline has created sudden soul-searching for Canada’s energy and political leaders, who have now turned their attention to opening the way for oil exports to Asia.

Without new pipe of some form, it will only be a few years before Canada’s oil gets backed up and begins selling at a deep discount, a prospect that stands to erode corporate and government revenues by billions of dollars a year.

US, China in Sudan great game

In 1898, amid the age of imperialist acquisition, Great Britain and France confronted each other at Fashoda in the Sudan. The two powers almost went to war but happily, diplomacy prevailed. Today, amid fierce global competition for commodities and regional influence, the US and China are facing each other in several parts of the world and the oil-rich Sudan may become one of the more complex and portentous sites of this contest. Recent fighting there is drawing greater attention to the region.

Shell reports new Nigerian spill

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell said it was containing a new oil spill in Nigeria's onshore delta, the latest in a string of leaks from the company's pipelines, which it has blamed on sabotage attacks and oil theft.

Exxon’s Tillerson Follows Ex-BP CEO Hayward Into Kurdish Bonanza

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson is playing catch-up with a former rival, ex-BP Plc CEO Tony Hayward, in a race to tap oil riches in Iraq’s Kurdish region that dwarf the deep-water Gulf of Mexico.

Why Peak Oil is Nonsense: A Look at Small and Mid Cap Domestic Oil Stocks

M. King Hubbert first created and used the models behind peak oil back in 1956 and he did accurately predict that USA oil production would peak some time between 1965 and 1970. However, Hubbert along with the anti-oil ideologues that followed him who have taken a more strident and doomsday approach when it comes to future oil production did not anticipate that human ingenuity along with technology would allow for the discovery and exploitation of vast new reserves of both conventional and unconventional oil or natural gas. Just consider some of the following facts or estimates:

Government Support for Electric Drive Must Continue

As deadlock continues on Capitol Hill and storm clouds darken over the Super Committee on deficit reduction, there is increasing danger that government support for vehicle electrification may get sucked into the maelstrom.

Vehicle electrification has historically been one of the few points of bi-partisan policy agreement. It is important that supporters of vehicle electrification and advanced battery technology rearticulate why vehicle electrification is so important to the country and why government support for it is essential and should find strong backing on both sides of the aisle.

Ofgem study 'undermines' case for nuclear

Plans being considered by the industry regulator could undermine the prospect of new UK nuclear power plants.

The cost of feeding the north of Scotland's renewable energy into the national power grid could fall by 80% under the proposals.

A study carried out for Ofgem suggested the change would boost the case for building wind and marine turbines in and around Scotland.

While you where sleeping: 2000-2012

November 13, 2011: countries aggressively search for increasingly thinning resources. Financial markets are collapsing. Western governments have enormous deficits. Populations are exploding. More people are alive now than have ever died in history. Emerging markets are levelling the world.

Short-term sustainability is costly and difficult; long-term sustainability is difficult to imagine. Warming oceans cause growingly chaotic and violent weather. Seas are rising, claiming valuable land and space. Planetary ecology is buckling. We have hit peak oil.

'The economic disparities are just growing'

“We are the 99 per cent” is the slogan associated with the Occupy movement. It is a reference to the difference in wealth between the top one per cent and the remaining citizens.

“I'm here for the environment, because I think environmental issues are key,” Gagnon, the program director at ReThink Green, said. “I'm also concerned about peak oil, the economy, everything. I think everything is interconnected.”

Francis Moore Lappe Offers a New EcoMind Diet for a Big Planet

Hunger is indeed proof that scarcity exists, said Lappe, but accepting this idea at face value can easily divert our eyes from the fact that our economy, this one-world economy, actually creates more waste and destruction than it does growth and things that we enjoy.

“The estimates of the waste of energy in the United States varies from 55-87 percent of all of the energy it produces. So suggesting this idea that we’ve hit the limits—if we’re wasting more than we’re using, how can we say that we’ve hit the limits?” asked Lappe.

A Graying Population Reduces Global Warming

Population factors heavily into greenhouse gas-emission projections, however, the influence of the age composition of a population is not included in calculations, like those used by the U.N.'s International Panel for Climate Change. This was part of the motivation for the research, Zagheni said.

The age of the U.S. population is changing; the past four censuses have shown steadily increasing numbers of Americans heading into the 65-and-older category. This segment of the global population is also growing.

UN chief urges leaders to finalize financing of $100 billion climate change fund

DHAKA, Bangladesh — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders on Monday to finalize the financing for a multibillion-dollar fund to fight the effects of climate change.

Delegates at a U.N.-sponsored climate-change conference that starts Nov. 28 in Durban, South Africa, are to consider ways to raise $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund created last December to help countries cope with global warming.

Does anyone know where to find public data on the physical characteristics of oil fields: location, depth, size, viscosity, porosity, ... ?

I doubt that such publicly available data exist for all, or even most giant fields. But it does exist for one field, the largest field ever discovered. The Ghawar Oil Field, Saudi Arabia

Ron P.

What area(s) are you looking for ?

In the US, State regulatory agencies such as the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission have some data you listed:


They won't have all the data you listed for every field, and finding what you want will require a lot of digging.

There are a number of 'Atlas's' of oil fields compiled by organizations such as AAPG and private publishers that may have what you want.

Gregg Croft and Associates comes to mind:


As to scope, I'm trying to get a feel for the statistical distribution of the physical parameters of oil fields. Make no mistake, I have no real idea of what I'm even looking for yet. But open to suggestions.

Available now from Greg Croft Inc for $850
For a professional office, no big deal.
For a personal project ... ouch!
But the Reservoir tables are exactly the kind of info I'm hoping to find.

RE: Why Peak Oil is Nonsense: A Look at Small and Mid Cap Domestic Oil Stocks

Here are the financials for the first company on the list --> https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:BEXP&fstype=ii.

If you sum the last four years of net income, the company (BEXP) lost 221 million dollars. It is the same with shale gas companies, they are not profitable as far as I can tell. If prices of oil and ng stabilized at elevated levels then these companies would be profitable, however, that does not appear to be a strong possibility in our current economy.

Re: Why Peak Oil is Nonsense: A Look at Small and Mid Cap Domestic Oil Stocks (uptop)

In other words, the peak oil theory, at least in our lifetimes, is starting to look like all of those doomsday predictions about the end of the world is coming.

Another day, another Cornucopian fantasy. So, we won’t see a peak/plateau for something like 50 years?

Global C+C production (EIA) versus where we would have been at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase:


Peak oil, the belief that the US is running out of domestic oil or natural gas,..

No it is not! Why can't these screwballs get it even half right? Peak oil is about world oil production and it has nothing to do with natural gas. Of course natural gas will peak also but likely well after crude oil peaks.

Also peak oil is about peaking not running out. And US crude oil production peaked in 1970 at 9.637 million barrels per day of crude+condensate. We are today producing over 4 million barrels per day below that figure. No one in their right mind would argue that the US has not peaked.

Ron P.

anti-oil ideologues

If any group fully appreciates the economic value of oil, it must be the peak oil crowd..

A new rebuttle to to this silly article just popped up on the web: Peak Oil for Dummies. What critics don't understand...

This is almost... almost comical.

Why Peak Oil is Nonsense: A Look at Small and Mid Cap Domestic Oil Stocks wants readers to believe, "Peak oil, the belief that the US is running out of domestic oil or natural gas, is increasingly being discredited..."

Short SNIP

If you don't understand peak oil, just go away. You sound stupid.

Ron P.

These clowns should go look at oil production in Alaska and where its at now vs at its "peak"...


Why Peak Oil is Nonsense: A Look at Small and Mid Cap Domestic Oil Stocks

What they are doing is selling stocks, and if you don't know a lot more than the average investor, you should not be putting money into these stocks.

They are trying to sell these stocks to amateurs, who will probably lose a lot of money if they follow their advice. This is not a game for amateurs.

Hey Rocky, I'm about half way through Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
He manages to debunk the idea that the experts are any better than the amateurs when it comes to predicting the value of any stock... Actually he contends that on average the experts predictions are no better than a coin toss.

FM - I was going to tease Rocky on that same point (one I'm sure he's seen firsthand more than once). I've seen experts screw themselves even when they're using insider trader moves with their own company. That Kool-Aid taste just as sweet to an "expert" as an amateur. LOL. How many $millions did the CEO of Chesapeake lose after he borrowed a pile of money to buy his own stock?

They made an experiment a bunch of yers ago. (True story). Experts selected what stock to buy, and some monkeys threw darts on stock market pages in a news paper. The indicated stocks were bought. The monkeys made more money than the experts.

Years ago I attended an options "training class" - the instructor said that even the best traders were right only 55% of the time. I guess that's still enough to make a ton of money if one is playing with big numbers.

the instructor said that even the best traders were right only 55% of the time.

Apparently that particular instructor suffered from an especially bad case of 'The Illusion of validity'.

Actually in the chapter of Kahneman's book titled 'The Illusion of validity' he cites data from assessing 28 highly touted wealth advisers over a period of eight consecutive years, for each of which he computed the correlation coefficients based on their performance and was shocked when the data showed that the average of the 28 correlations was .01, in other words zero!

The chimps tossing darts would have done equally well! Basically the skills of the best traders when rigorously examined, turn out to be non existent! Surprise, Surprise... The financial emperors have been butt naked all along and do not for a moment deserve any respect let alone the exorbitant compensation they demand for their voodoo.

This should be self evident :
Professional traders taken as a group necessarily match whatever the market does , on the average , over any extended period of time.

How could it be otherwise, when the vast majority of trades are made by professionals, among professionals, to professionals?

Somebody must buy everything sold, it's as simple as that.

Darwinian has pointed out a similar wash in the actions of buyers and sellers of futures in the oil markets on many different occasions.

This does not mean that a given trader, or firm, might not spot or luck into a long term market trend and run up a great score for a few years; but he is just as likely to miss the next big thing, on average.

This is old news, well known to mathematicians and other folks who study such things.I read about it years ago, but i can't remember where.

I was a stock and commodities broker for all of six months. But I was a trader for many years, but no longer. Anyway I was one of the first to use a computer to generate trading programs. Backtesting, that was the word. I backtested dozens of programs that generated a fortune if I had only used that system in the past. But when used in the present... the damn things never worked. They were never better than 50-50 and seldom even that good.

Technical analysis never works. Fundamental analysis is better but it doesn't make anyone a fortune either. That is because you never know today, what the fundamentals will be tomorrow. There is no way to beat the market, though there was a time when I would swear that you could. Live and learn. I lived and I learned. It just can't be done.

Sorry about that.

Ron P.

I suspect there are times when certain strategies will work. But then enough market participants discover the dynamic, which by exploiting the dynamic(irrationality) eliminates it. I did pretty decent for a couple of years, with a system that really wasn't much more than reversion to the mean (buy stocks that are hammered, sell the recovery). But then I decided the dynamic behavior I was exploiting had changed, and I quit while I was still ahead. So I don't think it is impossible. But it is quite difficult that you can only expect a handfull to do really well. And even the best system ever invented will have a limited shelf life.

It continually concerns me that people make a game of gaming the market.
It seems to me that "integrity" is a lost art!
It seems to me that individuals are more concerned about making money than our long term welfare on this small planet!
Once upon a time folk invested in good ideas that might improve our well-being.
Now folk invest in ways to make money without any regard to the long term implications of where the money goes as long as it makes money!

A couple of questions which many of you will disregard pointless.

What happens when the climate becomes so unstable that tomorrow is unknown, in other words will the crop I planted be destroyed by:
A) flood
B) drought
C) All of the above?

Climate extremes are happening more and more frequently, what will it take for all of you carbon fuel folk to realize, that there are limits to what our planet can absorb?

Do any of you think about your grandchildren?

Do any of you think about what a runaway climate will do to our little spaceship in this universe?

Do any of you think that the economy will provide the water that you need to survive?

Do any of you think that the economy will provide the air that you need to breath?

These things are provided by nature, by the ongoing symbiosis of the planetary systems that were here before we came and will be here after, we suffocate ourselves with our Hubris that we are above all that stuff!!

Wake up folk the planet will be here after we have snuffed ourselves out!

Let us use the amazing potential of fossil fuels in a clearly beneficial way that benefits humanity rather than destroys it!


Thanks, Michael! It is always a wonderful relief to find somebody has said what lazy I otherwise would feel compelled to say.

So, what we gotta do is really quite obvious- restructure economics so that it is impossible to get any profit out of doing any thing that does in fact not profit the whole planet, not just the guy who is doing the doing.

given all those geniuses who went from physics to inventing "products" for wall st, we should get the solution to this trivial little puzzle before I get up tomorrow morning. That is to say, in about 3 hours.

The problem you speak of was solved, in general terms, more than half a century ago.

The solution is called "Pigovian tax".

Darwinian, those that succeed don't beat the market, they make the market do what they want. At least long enough to make some money. Market Makers are constantly manipulating stock prices to make a market for them, pulling prices down when they want to buy and pushing them up to sell. The trouble is that the number of actors and their size has grown as has the size of the manipulations. We now have every tom, dick and harry manipulating markets including central banks and governments the result is utter chaos.

The ECB manipulated Italian bond prices to force out Berlusconi, the EFSF bought its own debt to make a false market in its bonds and the US released oil reserves to reduce oil prices for example. With so many forces playing with the markets for all kinds of obtuse reasons it becomes hard for anyone to actually beat the market as it lurches from one abnormal state to another.

I'm not quite so convinced. For one professional trading isn't quite a closed universe, i.e. there are significant numbers of trades made for other reasons. I can think of a few. John Q. Public is one. Stock purchase plans, that automatically buy (sometimes for the company stock) whenever the funds go into the fund (quarterly of whatever). Also you have institutions which are too large, such that any attempt to accumulate or sell a particular equity affects the market. If say Magellian decides to accumulate IBM, the extra purchase pressure from themselves drives up the price. Likewise on the sell side, their attempts to sell lowers the price. Also many mutual funds have to buy/sell because of purchase/redemptions which are driven by irrational backwards looking customers. So theoretically small but nimble traders should be able to profit from these inefficiences and somewhat predicatable irrationalities. Also margin calls, usually amplify rapid negative price swings, which adds yet another semi-predictable irrationality. So I actually find it surprising how poorly the average professional trader does. There are a few exceptional ones, such as Buffet, and Soros, who are too many sigma above the mean for way to long a time to be explained by simple dumb luck.

Professional traders taken as a group necessarily match whatever the market does , on the average , over any extended period of time.


The only shocking part is that these professional traders, who are supposedly well versed in the art of statistical analysis, and should therefore know better, actually believe, despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, that they have a special skill.

Sadly, the data clearly shows that they do not!

Yet somehow they are regarded as high priests and are allowed to continue to sell their magic incantations for a very high price.

At some subliminal level I think this is at the heart of the anger of the 99% behind the OWS movement. These traders are not plying a skill, they are lying to the public and themselves, they are adding nothing of value to our societies yet they continue to reap very rich rewards.

Kuwait brags that it is busting its quota by well over one million barrels per day.

Kuwait daily crude output exceeds 3 mln bpd - minister

The production of crude oil reached 3.67 million barrels per day on Saturday and 3.54 million bpd on Friday, said Al-Busairi, also Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs, in response to a question by KUNA during a reception of journalists after receiving well-wishers on Eid Al-Adha.

Of course that was only for two days that they produced that amount. No doubt their monthly average will be well below those figures. But the fact that they seem extremely proud that they pumped that much for two days is revealing.

Kuwait's OPEC quota is about 2.2 mb/d. According to the latest OPEC Oil Market Report, Kuwait produced 2,612,000 barrels per day in October. In October every OPEC member's production went down except for Kuwait, Angola and Libya.

Ron P.

I don't know if 2008 was the final peak, but here are the last three years of annual BP data for Kuwait (total petroleum liquids):

Production - Consumption = Net Exports

2008: 2.78 - 0.36 = 2.42 mbpd
2009: 2.49 - 0.40 = 2.09
2010: 2.51 - 0.41 = 2.10

Production decline rate of 5.1%/year, and net export decline rate of 6.9%/year.

For the sake of argument, if we extrapolate the Consumption to Production ratio, Kuwait would approach zero net oil exports in about 16 years.

According to this article, the production reached 3.067 and 3.054 (compare 3.67 and 3.54) million barrels:

Kuwait's oil output exceeds 3 mn bpd

"Our oil production yesterday (Saturday) hit 3.067 million barrels and the previous day we produced 3.054 million barrels," Mohammad al-Baseeri said in comments cited by the official KUNA news agency.

Baseeri said Kuwait boosted its production to compensate for a shortage in the market, adding that the world would still need additional supplies of between 1.0 million and 1.5 million bpd until the end of 2011.

That makes a lot more sense. The person who wrote the article I linked to probably just made an error. They probably figured that zeros don't count so they just left them out. ;-)

Ron P.

I wish my bank would do that. In my favor, that is.

What is the needed spread, between WTI and world oil price, in order to pay for these new pipeline projects? I've noticed a convergence of late. I mean, if Oklahoma can pay $100 what's the point, ah?

It's not the price spread between WTI and the world price that is the issue, it is the price spread between Northern Alberta and the world price that is going to pay for these pipeline projects. At the moment that is about $25/bbl - $10/bbl more than the WTI-Brent spread, and a spread of $5/bbl would probably be more than enough to pay for a pipeline.

In fact, $25/bbl is more than enough to pay for moving it from Northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast by rail. I know someone who is doing that, and he is an extremely happy guy. He just bought himself a new 45-foot yacht, as it happens.

Does the yacht have sails? Sorry, couldn't resist.

Yes it does have sails. That way he's ready for the post peak oil era.

Does it have room for all his extended family?

Just asking!


I was noticing on Gasbuddy.com that all the gulf coast states are paying 20 cents less that east coast. Is that all taxes? Or is something else at play?

Thanks! it looks like an entrepreneur could make a few dimes on that.

Gasoline around here is the cheapest I've seen in a long time. With my little coupon (4 cents off a gallon), i'm getting it for $3.27...Diesel is at $4.10 (ouch!)... Gasoline prices have been very steady it seems, even with crude jumping a lot.

A major portion of East Coast gasoline supply is actually delivered from Gulf Coast refineries (via Colonial pipeline). Pipeline tariff from Houston to New York was a bit under 5 cents per gallon last I looked, which accounts for part of the pricing difference.

A lot of the East Coast supply -- particularly in the SE -- comes from the Gulf via long pipelines (image from the Allegro Energy Group). Transport costs something.

Crude oil drops over $1 as euro zone output falls

Industrial production in the 17-country bloc fell 2.0 per cent in September from August, the EU's statistics office said, overshadowing hopes new governments in Italy and Greece would prevent their economies from collapsing and avoid financial meltdown.

2 percent is a lot for all Europe. And this will not help Greece and Italy avoid collapse, it may hasten their financial meltdown.

This is not good news. Things are looking bad all over.

Ron P.

More people are alive now than have ever died in history.


That is from the above article: While you where sleeping: 2000-2012

Sometime last century, around 1960 or 1970 I think, someone wrote: "More scientists are alive today than have ever lived." That may have been true then but I doubt it is today. Anyway someone screwed the quote up and inserted "people" where "scientists" should have been.

But in case anyone is interested in the ratio of people alive today verses all that have ever lived, then read this article: How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?

According to this article, written earlier this year, 107,602,707,791 have been born during all history. At the time this article was written 6,987,000,000 were alive that day for a ratio of 15.4 to 1.

This is according to the Population Reference Bureau. I find it rather comical that they can get those who have ever lived down to the nearest one person but can only get the current population down to the nearest one million.

Ron P

More wrongs in the article:

Changing climates cleared forests, forcing monkeys to climb down trees and become terrain explorers about 250 million years ago.

No. Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, the early mammals of the time was like rats in size, and developed after this event. What I gather, the monkeys climbed down from the trees 6 million years ago. They already walked on their feets by then. Wich means that it is true as they say "Darwin was wrong". Regarding the Savanna-theory.

many evolutionary biologists link spirituality first seen around 8000 BC, to the beginning of modern civilisation.

That is fascinating, because the San-people (80 000 years old culture) can still tell the story to the wall paintings of the same age on some cliffs in their area. Wich makes spirituality at least that old. I could run a complicated story about why spirituality is even older, at least 120 000 years old, possibly even up towards 200 000.

Since Neanderthal were burying their deaths at that time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanidar_Cave) it is a good guess that spirituality is even older.

While you where sleeping: 2000-2012

More people are alive now than have ever died in history.

Changing climates cleared forests, forcing monkeys to climb down trees and become terrain explorers about 250 million years ago.

many evolutionary biologists link spirituality first seen around 8000 BC, to the beginning of modern civilisation.

Many evolutionary biologists believe we are in an adolescent stage of evolution.

I think the author was sleeping in biology class during that time period because he knows little or nothing about his subject matter. However, he's willing to expound confidently about it anyway, and invent factiods whenever he needs them, which suggests he has a great future as a television network pundit.

Yes there are a lot of things wrong with that article. However you made several mistakes yourself.

What I gather, the monkeys climbed down from the trees 6 million years ago. They already walked on their feets by then. Wich means that it is true as they say "Darwin was wrong". Regarding the Savanna-theory.

No monkeys were never bipedal, not even today. The only bipedal primates are Homo sapiens. Chimps and Gorillas can walk on two feet but they are not truly bipedal. Most of the time the walk on all fours. Their hip structure is not built for bipedalism.

Second, Darwin never had a savannah theory, he had a bipedal theory. And from that others derived the savannah hypothesis. And it has never been proven wrong or right, it is and will likely forever remain a hypothesis.

That is fascinating, because the San-people (80 000 years old culture) can still tell the story to the wall paintings of the same age on some cliffs in their area.

Got a link for that? I googled it and the best I could find was that they descended from people who lived 20,000 years ago. San Tribe of South Africa

The descendants of those who lived more than 20000 years ago in what is now South Africa and who are believed to be the original human inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa is known as the San people.

Anyway the link I posted above counting all the people who have ever lived is really screwed up also. They put the population of the world at 2 in 50,000 BC. [Adam and Eve? ;-)] The human bottleneck is put at 73,000 years ago plus or minus 4,000 yr. It is speculated that the Toba super volcano caused this bottleneck. But the population even then was several thousand. Also there was never a first human according to Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins: Who Was the First Human?

Edit: I realize that English is your second language but for your future reference, there is no such word as "feets".

Ron P.

The San people are very old (> 20,000 years), probably one of the oldest tribes on this planet. This is demonstrated by their practice of persistence hunting which predates the invention of stone tools and spears.

Wiseindian, I have no doubt that the San people descended from people who lived well over 20,000 years ago. After all, we all did. But there is nothing in the practice of persistence hunting that proves that proves anything except that it is a very effective way of hunting. Otherwise they would have abandoned it long ago for whatever they found to be more efficient.

It is highly likely that the San people descended from people who also used persistence hunting. This proves nothing about how long the San themselves have lived as a separate tribe of people. I would not argue either way because I see no proof either way. But 20,000 years is not the point that was in dispute. That figure was 80,000 years. I doubt very seriously that the San, as a specific tribe, have existed for 80,000 years as the Jedi suggest.

Ron P.

But there is nothing in the practice of persistence hunting that proves that proves anything except that it is a very effective way of hunting.

Looks like you've never seen a tribal hunt. Ever run 7 hours in the blazing sun to catch one animal. Persistence hunting is one of the hardest forms of hunting on the planet, and it was superseded by hunting through bows and arrows for good reason. As far as I recall reading in Born to Run and it's references they are the last people on the planet to use this technique. Hell even the Jarawa tribes in my part of land who have been cut off since the last ice age ended don't engage in persistence hunting.

The video was probably shot for BBC on request since no one uses this practice anymore(notice the Nike shoes and steel machete on the san hunter), just that this has been passed down through generations as part of their culture. I think this indicates though not conclusively but to a large extent that the San predate bows and arrows which puts them in the > 20k range.

Yes there was no bi-pedal monkeys. But those of our fore fathers who climed down from the trees (more advanced than monkeys?) were, according to what I've read, bi-pedal already. The paleontologist on the tv-docomentary I first heard about this from was very clear about it. "A 150 year old theory was shown to be wrong. It does not happen every day".

For references no, I don't have those. I consume hughe amounts of information every day,remember the info, but forget where I first saw it. I am a generalist, not a specialist, and for that I could never become a scientist. Keeping track of references is for experts.

But those of our fore fathers who climed down from the trees (more advanced than monkeys?) were, according to what I've read, bi-pedal already. The paleontologist on the tv-docomentary I first heard about this from was very clear about it. "A 150 year old theory was shown to be wrong. It does not happen every day".

Jedi, that is sheer nonsense. They were already bipedal when they climbed down from the trees? What 150 year old theory? No one knows how bipedalism evolved so no theory can possibly be shown to be wrong. Any Darwin never had a savanna theory. You should not insinuate that Darwin has been proven wrong and use something you saw on TV as proof. That is not proof by any stretch of the imagination. Scientist can make conclusions from the evidence but their conclusions, concerning an adaptation that evolved millions of years ago, cannot be proved. It is just what the evidence supports and that is the best they can do.

Knuckle-Walking Anthropologists once thought that the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans engaged in knuckle-walking, and humans evolved upright walking from knuckle-walking: a view thought supported by reanalysis of overlooked features on hominid fossils.

Since then, scientists discovered Ardipithecus ramidus, a human-like hominid descended from the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans. Ar. ramidus engaged in upright walking, but not knuckle-walking. This leads scientists to conclude that chimpanzees evolved knuckle-walking after they split from humans 6 million years ago, and humans evolved upright walking without knuckle-walking.

Somehow that doesn't seem quite right to me but exactly how any particular adaptation evolved can only be speculation. We only know that it exist and that it did evolve.

Ron P.

knuckle-walking. Hmm, just tired enough to try it.

Forgive me for sugesting thisw, but would it not be quite easy to tell if they walked on their legs or not by just looking at the bones?

And don't think I am making anything up, this is circulating. You are the first I met that say this is not so. If I cared a bit more I could google some up for you.

It is easy to tell whether our ancestors walked upright by looking at their bones, and it is clear that our earliest ancestors were upright walkers. We are descended from apes with no more brain capacity than chimpanzees, but who walked upright like modern humans. In fact, there are fossilized footprints that show very clearly they walked like modern men.

Their arm bones show that they were much stronger and could climb trees much better than modern men, but their leg bones show that they were much more efficient walkers than chimpanzees or gorillas. They were primarily ground apes, but with the ability to escape into the trees if they had to evade predators.

The obviously conclusion is that they didn't come down out of the trees because they had to, it was because they wanted to. There were still lots of trees around.

You're right Jedi,

The shape of the end of the ankle bone is a dead give away. If it's square, then the foot flexibility only allows for bipedal walking. Trapezoid shaped allows for the greater flexibility required for climbing.

A recent BBC series went into a lot of detail on this.

No. Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, the early mammals of the time was like rats in size, and developed after this event.

Not entirely. There were some other mammals prior to the K-T dieoff, such as the Repenomamus, which was about 1m long and weighed 10-12kg.

I constructed the sentence wrong. I meant to say that the early mammals existed already when the last dinos died out. And after this, they developed to what they are today.

"107,602,707,791 have been born during all history."

Good to know they were able to get the number to that many significant figures...

Paul - I think they missed my uncle Henry. Probably because he lived off the grid most of his life. So it's really 107,602,707,792.

In the past I've looked into this and found various estimates, the credible ones seem to cluster around 100 billion as an order of magnitude, versus 7 billion or so today.

To me, the interesting thing about this is the perspective it allows on the probabilities of total human lives to be lived on earth.

If man had NOT had access to fossil fuels, and dominated the planet without them - even with a low degree of wisdom - there would not have been carbon stores to throw the planet into a destructive heat balance with highly elevated CO2.

If the population had stabilized at around 500 million or a billion or thereabouts, there is no a priori reason to assume that populations of about that size could not have existed for a million years. In other words, humans had everything set up to live trillions of human lifetimes before dying out or evolving away from being recognizably human.

Those trillions are the invisible casualties of our pyromaniac, dopamine-seeking ways. They are ceasing to exist in their multitudes as the future precludes them. These would have been real human lives, and possibly high-quality ones, with culture, literature, and discoveries beyond us.

The loss of other large species now extant is also tragic; they're collateral damage. But burning fossil fuels will seemingly drastically alter the spacetime footprint of the human species, and the human species has such a dysfunctional relationship with the future that it doesn't care. Sapiens? I think not.

We should leave it in the ground. Seriously. The number of people affected by the privation this would cause are insignificant next to the lives being precluded, and include the descendents - or lack of them - of all humans now alive.

Just a comment about Energy and our Future....

+100 billion

Nice comment Greenish.

What if we all had orgasms by opening and reading scientific journals? Too bad the intellect was largely left out of the reward system and learning is largely by compulsion (may be why it doesn't stick for the most part). Learning can be made more palatable by linking it with coffee made to one's liking, but it would be more difficult to link reading edifying works to partying, watching television, drugs, sex, sports, being born again and other dopamine stimulants. Also too bad the human Superego could not include other animals and the natural environment under its moral umbrella. If the Id isn't supposed to slash and burn other humans (and it still does) then I guess it had to be turned loose on the natural environment to satisfy its unquenchable desire for pleasure and a social competition that has no natural end point.

In the world of propaganda, maybe each tank of gasoline burned could be linked to twenty future human abortions, ten cuddly dog deaths and the untimely demise of a handful of harp seals. What an inner anxiety that might create, although I'm sure most people would rationalize their demise as being unavoidable or a worthwhile trade for current consumption.

What if we all had orgasms by opening and reading scientific journals?

I thought everybody did! >;^)

Actually a big part of scientific progress is a consequence of people getting pleasure from solving the mysteries of nature.

I suspect he is technically correct, since he used the deceptive phrase "in history". Since written history doesn't go back that far the billiions who lived and died before the historical record don't count!

No, he is not even close even if you only count those who lived since the advent of written history. Well over 50 billion people have been born since the year 1 AD. Only 7 billion of those are alive today. Written history goes back well before 1 AD. How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?

Ron P.

Well over 50 billion people have been born since the year 1 AD.

That sounds a bit too high. Say 40lifetimes in 2000years (I was thinking more like 3000-6000 for history) leads to an average pop of 1.25billion to arrive at your figure. That sound high to me.
Most likely the numbers are dominated by prehistory (100,000 BP to say 5000 BP). But the number has got to be very uncertain -probably plus of minus at least a factor of two.

Nevertheless, it is certainly true that the statement that more than half the people ever born haven't died, is grossly wrong.

40 lifetimes in 2000 years is far too optimistic - it implies 50 years per generation. Few ordinary people lived that long in ancient times.

The average life expectancy in ancient Rome was about 20 years for women and 30 years for men. The average age at marriage was 17-18 years for women and 25 years for men. Half their children died in infancy. It's hard to imagine from our modern perspective, but life really was nasty, brutish and short for most people.

I would say there were more like 80-100 generations in 2000 years. Assuming 300 million people in the ancient world, that would give about 24-30 billion people.

The link above assumes an extremely high birth rate (80/1000) combined with a very high death rate which is how they get their 50 billion. I doubt the birth rate was that high.

Sorry to jump in here, but don't confuse life expectancy with average life span.

In ancient times, average life expectancy from birth would indeed be very low, due to the very high infant mortality rate. Once the child reaches 5 or even better 12, then the average life span jumps to figures far more comparable to modern times.

And from a personal note, the graveyards near my home have many graves dated from the early 19th century where the person died in their 80's.

Wikipedia has a good page on it.

There are two issues here: one is assuming that people who die in infancy don't count, and the second is confusing life expectancy with the length of a generation.

First, if half the children died in infancy, and there were 50 billion people born in that time period, 25 billion of them would have died before they became adults. However, they still count in the total of "people who were ever born".

Second, if women were getting married at an average of 17-18 (in Rome, some of them got married at 12, very few as late as 29), they would have started having children in their teens. This makes for very short generations, 20-25 years.

In ancient times, it is likely that women spent most of their adult lives either pregnant or nursing. They would get married shortly after puberty and start having children in their teens. They would have children until they either died or reached menopause. In most cases they would have died before they reached menopause - in many cases they would die during childbirth. Half the children would die before they reached adulthood.

Since half their children die, they have to have twice as many children to keep the population constant. To replace the parents, they have to have 2 children survive to adulthood, which means 4 live births. It would probably be more than that since one of the reasons for the very short lifespan of women compared to men was that they died in childbirth, so the surviving women would have to have more children to make up for that.

It's true that some people lived a long time - I traced my family tree, and in my case none of my direct paternal ancestors dating back to 1776 died before they were 90. The longest lived ancestor I traced was a woman who made herself locally famous by living for 106 years, from the middle 1500s to the middle 1600s.

However, you have to realize that they were the exception - they were the survivors. The average person died very young. They may had the genes to survive to an old age, but they didn't have the medical care we do now. As a result, there were an awful lot who never reached adulthood and a lot of the rest - probably most - died without having children. Even if you survived the contagious diseases, it just wasn't easy to make enough money to provide enough food to raise a family in the past.

I can't argue with any of that Rocky.

I just thought I'd point out that people easily confuse "an average lifespan of 25 years" with "on average died at 25". So if 50% die at birth, then a child surviving past birth would die on average at 50.

I believe that 64 was the average age of death for a child reaching 21 in Medieval Britain.

Our average lifespan has been increased far more by reducing infant mortality than by increased care for the elderly.

Nice to know you got some healthy genes though!

I can not qoute sources on this, but I saw 2 graphs made from stone age deaths. They calculated how old they were when they died and put it all into an excell sheet. Used on 2 locations.

Both had a high percentage living till they reached 30, then they begun dying off. At site 1, the oldest died at 60, while the oldest at site 2 lived till 80. Infant deaths did not feature on the graphs. I do not know what kind of stone age hey were from. IT was made in Denmark.

It's been a long time since I've read the numbers, but life expectancy was considerably higher in the Paleolithic than in the Neolithic. The domestication of animals brought many diseases to human populations that put a crimp in life expectancy for a very long time, until, presumably, those with the least immunity to them were selected out of the gene pool.

Also, war and human sacrifices were very common in the earliest agricultural societies. Steven Pinker argues that the portion of human mortality due to violence was far higher back then than it has been ever since then. Perhaps there was another sorting out process in the earliest agricultural societies, in which some types of humans were removed from the gene pool, but where the exercise of violence, rather than infectious disease, was the selection pressure.

This wikipedia entry has an interesting chart of estimated human life expectancies through the ages and in different places. According to this chart, life expectancies as long as those in the Upper Paleolithic were not seen again until the medieval period, some 10,000 years later. However, this chart is sparse, and a fuller picture would require much more information.

By the way, the medieval period actually saw many technological advances over the ancient world, for instance the triennial planting system, heavy plowing in northern Europe, the crank for motion transfer, better harnesses for horses so that horses could pull plows, stirrups, and coal burning for fuel.


Archeologists found a 14:th century grve yard in Sweden (I think it was Sweden). Back in those days men and women were buried at different locations, and they found the male section. I don't remember the numbers now, but somewhere high, around 30% or so, had unheald blund damage to their cranium, in other words they were beten to death. I guess every adult male was an alcoholic and bar brawls were epedemic. Such a horrible place.

Life span don't matter in this calculations. Few of us will breed a new offspring with our last dying breath.

Instead, assume an average parent age by birth of 20 years. That is 5 generations per century, and 100 since emperor Augustus.

For 50 billions we are looking at 500 millions per generation, wich I have hard time to stomach. 200 millions, including all that was alive, by "Year 0". We passed 1 billion 1804. From 200 to 1000 millions, when do we have to cross 500 million for this to balance out? I gather it happened quite late. But I am no paleo-demografist, so what do I know?

Lots of population rise and fall in pre-industrial times.

Just at a WAG, I'd say it's likely that human population hit the 100M-200M range by 6000BC at the latest, based on the wide spread of humanity by that point and that what history we have looks very similar from that point until the Age of Sail. The numbers of people in any given location may have been low or high, but at that point people inhabited every major region of the planet and had been doing so for centuries to millenia already.

Say we lowball it at 100M from 6000BC on to 1AD. That gives 300 generations, or 30 Billion people just from 6000 BC-1AD.

That sounds a bit too high. Say 40lifetimes in 2000years (I was thinking more like 3000-6000 for history) leads to an average pop of 1.25billion to arrive at your figure. That sound high to me.

enemy, I think your approach is not entirely correct. :-S

We can't think in lifetimes here. 40 lifetimes in 2000 years means 50 years of average life expectancy, yes? But using lifetimes we would have to assume that a person is born, lives for 50 years and at the exact moment of his death another one is born. Of course it would be very easy to calculate total number of people if it worked like that, but sadly births and deaths are parts of a continuous process and the sum of them is the number of people living at any given moment. Like 7 billion today. It doesn't matter what age groups there are, or what's the average life expectancy, it's the number of births that count. Let's say 160,000 people die daily, but at the same time at least 160,000 are born, because population still grows... :P

So, I would suggest a lil bit different approach.
I think what matters is the average childbearing age.
Now finally some boring numbers! :D

I will cover only years 1-1900 A.D. using the "Population" numbers from How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth? article, which I think we can agree are at least approximately correct. I'll calculate the average number of people for those 1900 years like this:

( 300,000,000 + 450,000,000 + 500,000,000 + 795,000,000 + 1,265,000,000 + 1,656,000,000 ) / 6 = 827,666,666

Of course, it would be much better to have numbers for every single year and come up with some better value, but what the heck, statistics is just accurate sum of inaccurate numbers after all. :P

Let's say the average is closer to 750 million, to err on lower side, because till 1650 the average would be around 416 million and volume picked up just in the two last centuries.

As I mentioned, we should consider average childbearing age rather than lifetimes and although this is subject to hefty WAG, there were times and places when young girls at even age 13-14 had their first child, in some places this age was higher, of course, so I will assume the average of 16 years. Only women can have a baby (bear a child), so let's say half of those 750 million were women = 375 million.

Each woman had 1 child as 16 years old and that would mean 375 million children in 16 years (let's call it "renewal cycle" from now on), but to keep the steady (or slightly growing) population also around 375 million deaths would have to occur. Keep in mind, this is all on average and approximation, cuz in reality some had none and some had two kids or more.

With all this said as assumption/prerequisite:

in 1900 years there are 118.75 "renewal cycles" (each 16 years long)
in each "renewal cycle" 375 million people came to this planet
118.75 * 375 million = 44.531 billion total,

which is quite close to number Ron gave - 50 billion.

In other words: I agree with Ron. :oP

Disclaimer: This calculation serves only as demonstration of approach I would consider for counting "all people that ever lived" and numbers are just figurative, although they might be somehow close to reality...

Climate policies can help resolve energy security and air pollution challenges

The practice of integrating sustainable energy policies within a holistic framework offers marked advantages over traditional approaches, which, because they are typically more fragmented, often ignore important policy synergies.

Leader of IIASA’s Energy Program, Keywan Riahi adds that alignment of policies can be complicated due to time disparities.

“One of the difficulties for policy makers is that these issues are often viewed on very different time scales: climate change for example, is seen as a mid- to long-term issue (2030-2050 and beyond), while energy security and air pollution are viewed with near-term urgency (for the next two decades). Thus, the policies discussed for each objective fail to complement each other; or worse, they may compete for attention. When this happens, for instance, through single-minded policies for security or air pollution, the potential for synergies and co-benefits is largely lost,”

Clothing, food and electricity impact most on water footprint

... The indirect, or embodied, water usage of an entire household over 50 years - which includes the construction and maintenance of the house, all belongings, food, clothing and other consumable items, financial services, cars and holidays – is equivalent to filling 54 Olympic swimming pools. This represents 94% of a household’s water footprint.

In contrast, the direct water used by households – for drinking, washing, showering, watering, cooking and cleaning – is equivalent to only 4 Olympic swimming pools, or 6% of the household’s water demand over 50 years.

also http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09613218.2011.584212

Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal.

... In the end, say economists who have studied this question, the overall impact [of regulations] on employment is minimal.

“If you’re a coal miner in West Virginia, it’s not a great comfort that a bunch of guys in Texas are employed doing natural gas,” said Roger Noll, an economics professor at Stanford and co-director of the university’s program on regulatory policy. “Some people identify with the beneficiaries, others identify with those who bear the cost, and no amount of argument is ever going to change their minds.”

... In 2010, 0.3 percent of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of “government regulations/intervention.” By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand.

Since the economic crash started in 2007/2008, I always have to ask "What regulations did George Bush pass that killed the economy?"

There is always some crazy excuse being made up. The 'uncertainty' one is the funniest. When have things ever been 'certain'? Why it this time supposedly much more 'uncertain' than other times?

The simple answer is that the economy lacks demand. People's wages have stagnated for so long that they can no longer prop up the economy with spending since they don't have any money.

Since the economic crash started in 2007/2008, I always have to ask "What regulations did George Bush pass that killed the economy?"

There are more ways to kill economies than regulation, but regulation is definitely one way.

The simple answer is that the economy lacks demand.

That's a part of it, but it's also the case that the economy is recalculating what to do, and that recalculation is made sluggish by regulation. If you have weak demand and low utilization of resources (unemployment is one example) then to get a positive spiral going fast you need to be able to put excess capacity to use easily. Regulation, minimum wages, unemployment benefits and so on does the opposite. The regulation may be worth the downsides, but it is important that we acknowledge them.

I can answer that question. Two changes by the George Bush Administration have killed the world economy. They are:

1) Repeal of the Uptick Rule (July 2007)

2) Modification of Mark to Market Accounting (November 2007)

Repeal of the Uptick Rule has had a direct effect on the stock market. Repeal of this rule has largely allowed high frequency trading programs to buy or sell stocks regardless of market direction. Perhaps in a laboratory this might be a good plan, but not in real world markets. I could go on and on and many here will certainly debate my conclusions. My point is that bad news is met with relentless selling of shares without any "traffic lights" to slow down the crash. If you notice the market typically recovers some of its losses at the end of the trading day as the "shorts" seek to cover and buy back shares being sold due to margin calls. This is NOT a transaction by transaction problem, but rather a trend in the markets. I predicted in a paper written back in 2008 that the overall trend of the market would be lower over time and today we find the market trading at one of the cheapest multiples ever.

Mark to Market Accounting is problematic any way you look at it. However, FASB 157 made the losses so extraordinary that it had to be modified again at the March 2009 low. It's impossible to Mark to Market long term assets on a daily basis and insure a functioning economy. Any such mark is transient at best and not supportive of 20 or 30 year mortgage loans. The whipsaw of this policy is destroying jobs and economic development because no one can ever predict again the value of a real asset. Quick example, every business I have ever started required cash from my bank accounts and loans secured by my home. The proceeds were always pumped into my new business and repaid from my customers. That model is broken and perhaps never to return again. The reason is simple, if you have no idea what your home will be worth in one year you can't possibly borrow against it even if you are absolutely certain you can make all the payments. FASB 157 is forcing banks to "mark down" loans that are 100% current.

Bottom line, we are not investing in new companies from fear that HFT will pound share prices into the ground. We are also not developing new businesses because the only real asset most start-up owners have is their home and the value is now a moving target. Your entire business model hinges on what your home will be worth on the day the maturing loans needs to be rolled over. If its up, you're good. If its down, the bank will demand payment of the loan.

What's truly sad, at the time of these rule changes we needed to be positioning our country for the world of peak oil and all the problems that will surely cause. Instead, we unhinged the markets and the volatility has destroyed market confidence and driven cash to the sidelines. Cash is great! But it doesn't create a single job.

Instead, we unhinged the markets and the volatility has destroyed market confidence and driven cash to the sidelines.


Most of modern economics is mumbo jumbo. I like to focus on the big picture:
1) The human population is in a bubble.
2) The net energy from oil and other fossil fuels is declining.
3) The financial system of the world is based upon nothing other than the promises of politicians and central bankers.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we're in trouble.

I think you've got it there.

Big question is how long the system can last?

Most of modern economics is mumbo jumbo. I like to focus on the big picture:
1) The human population is in a bubble.
2) The net energy from oil and other fossil fuels is declining.
3) The financial system of the world is based upon nothing other than the promises of politicians and central bankers.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we're in trouble.

Great post!

Seraph -

I was thinking about this the other day and doing a slow burn over the complete bias in presenting data (done with a wave of the hands toward contrary data) when I hear analysts describing how much regulation kills jobs.

I think they are full of BS and don't factor into their equations the jobs that these regulations CREATE - but, because these particular jobs aren't constructs of the "financial industry" they can't possibly be real, valid jobs. Well I work with a large number of other geologists, civil engineers, environmental scientists, permitting specialists etc. etc. who probably feel that their $50 - 100K per year jobs are valid and do contribute to the "economy" - true trickle down as opposed to the "job creators" who we are always breathlessly being assured about. That if we could just get rid of those regulations / taxes the country would be drowning in jobs (minimum wage + no benefits of course - but hey we didn't say anything about the QUALITY of the jobs all that de-regulation results in - we're just talking NUMBERS here, baby !).

I personally don't think they give a damn about job creation and this is merely a talking point spoon fed for parroting by the public in effort to spread the "let corporate do whatever the hell they want" agenda far and wide.

As someone pointed out on here years ago after hearing one too many instances of bashing of environmentalists / enviro groups - if you listen to the propoganda coming from the BAU crowd you would think that environmental groups have won every major (and most minor) fight they've been involved in, while in reality nothing could be further from the truth. There has been virtually NO major issue that the "tree hugger" can point to as a clear victory on the level of say the Clean Air or Clean Water Act in decades. This is exactly how the "regulation kills jobs" argument goes too... we've been on a complete whirlwind of de-regulation which has contributed to various severe problems and we are now trying to be sold on the argument that the best way to deal with these problems is, of course, more de-regulation... Right.

In my analysis this is a non-existant problem that the right has trumped up as a means for deepening the chasm between the two "sides"

Yep, lots of jobs like these women had: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/

precisely those kinds of jobs, r4ndom...

With a vastly larger pool of potential workers the workforce becomes vastly more expendable.

Cat - To go along with your point: I deal with fed, state and county regulators all the time. And have for 36 years as I've drilled wells across the Gulf Coast. Most of the regs make sense. A few are just outright dumb. And the regulators can, at times, be a pain in the butt and waste some of my time. But not once in hundreds of cases have the regs prevented me from drilling any well I wanted.

I have the same problem when the right babbles on about how the feds are keeping us from drilling. At the moment there are a few areas where we can't drill. How much is really there is uncertain. But that still leaves probably 90%+ of continental US acreage available to drill. Any company that wants to try to develop those western "oil" shales (which actually contain no oil) doesn't need one acre of the unavailable fed leases: there are 10's of thousands of privately owned leases that can be had just by writing a check to the mineral owner. And no one is currently doing it.

I may work in the oil patch and am rather conservative but BS is still BS.

Re: Devastation at Japan Site:
I grew up in Pensacola with building the Westinghouse PWR's and I know these reactor vessels were built as flawlessly as humanly possible. Just can't comprehend not grabbing this spent fuel dragon by the tail. The level of risk and "THE WILL" not deal with this issue is mind-blowing. From my Facebook Posts this am:

Indeed "the chaotic mess." - A fraction of the spent waste at this complex WAS properly managed and removed from the fuel pools and stored in casks. These casks rode the Quake and Tsunami just fine and pose little risk to the life, property and the food chain, As I understand it, these casks at Fukushima were waiting shipment to Yucca Flats Nevada, but Harry Reid killed the site. For Christ sake, get the hazard into safe storage casks and away from population centers, In many cases, just a few inches of water is the only neutron shield for these pools. If the sewer backs up in you house, do you clean it up? If the Utilities don't get started soon, Governments may be too broke to deal with it. There are tons of fuel rods from decades of operation in the 102 US commercial locations in pools designed for temporary cool down intermediate storage. Everyone agrees "it's a good idea" to manage this situation that can wreck the very fabric of life by hammering the DNA of all life on spaceship earth. Why these toxins equal to the radionuclide of THOUSANDS of nuclear bombs are not being responsibility managed is simply beyond criminal. Explain that one to your Children's Children's Children mutants. Perhaps the only way is to sell Utility stocks from any retirement plans and clearly get the msg to utility stockholders. Anyone have a better idea? The real stockholders in this unfolding disaster is all life forms on planet Earth.

Even the casks will not last long enough, but it's a lot better than pools of water. If that fuel is not removed, then eventually it will escape at every site where it is located. A look at the map of locations of stored fuel shows that the most populated and productive land will be destroyed.

Both are necessary. When removed from the reactor, there's still a lot of heat-producing fission going on -- just not enough to be used "efficiently" in the reactor. So the fuel goes into the cooling pool. If the circulating pumps and heat exchangers for these pools fail, the water can boil off and expose the fuel to air where assorted bad things may happen. At least partial boil-off is believed to have happened in one or more of the cooling pools at Fukushima. Generally, it takes 10-20 years for the spent fuel to drop to a level of activity that makes it safe to put them in dry casks.

When removed from the reactor, there's still a lot of heat-producing fission going on

Not fission, really, but further decay of fission products.

Errr... If I am not badly mistaken daughter products decay by fission also. At least alpha decay is fission.

Ron P.

At least the way I intended to use the word -- meaning division of an atom into daughter products of approximately equal size -- jeppen is right and I was wrong. I blame lack of caffeine for the brain cramp.

Just curious but are you saying that alpha decay is not fission? Are you saying that the alpha product does not become helium and the expelling nucleus does not becomes another element entirely? I think it does. And that is fission by any definition. From Wikipedia:

fis·sion noun
1. the act of cleaving or splitting into parts.
2. Also called nuclear fission. Physics. the splitting of the nucleus of an atom into nuclei of lighter atoms, accompanied by the release of energy.

Ron P.

Techically Alha decay is not considered to be fission. Also fission is special because it can be triggered by the absorption of a neutron, and it typically produces more neutrons as the fission products start out with too many of them. And that creates the possibility for a chain reaction. But its mainly just a matter of competing definitions.

Nope, it's not, and that's a definitional issue; like it or not, the definitions you give are too simplistic to describe how the terminology is actually used in the trade. On decay-branching charts, "fission" is used in a technical sense, and in that sense it denotes the production of two "halves" with a mass ratio typically around 60-40. The probability of getting an alpha (or a proton) as one of those "halves" is too small to contemplate.

Yes, a proton is a hydrogen nucleus, and an alpha is a helium nucleus, but proton and alpha emission can occur in types of nuclei that are never observed to "fission", so those decay modes are normally treated separately.

I don't think nuclei ever emit single protons. Alpha decay is emission of a helium nucleus. Beta decay is emission of an electron. Gamma decay is emission of a photon. Fission is splitting into big chunks, yes with some neutrons too.

Isn't there beta capture, too, where a free electron gets absorbed by the nucleus? I guess this is like the emission of an anti-electron.

Anyway, this doesn't impact any argument at hand, but maybe getting the facts straight is worth the while.

Casks sounds a heck of a lot better then a swimming pool with a garden shed over the top of it.

As I understand it, these casks at Fukushima were waiting shipment to Yucca Flats Nevada, but Harry Reid killed the site.

The above statement is such a mess of falsehoods, non-sequiturs, and confusion it is hard to know where to start.

1) There were not and are not any plans to store other nation's waste at Yucca Flats. Japan has its' own system for waste disposal that has nothing at all to do with Yucca Flats. Why would the US accept long-lived toxic waste from Japan for disposal, when we cannot even handle our own wastes? I just have to wonder where such an off-beat idea came from except from some right-wing website determined to demonize Democrats for all the world's wrongs.

"Japan currently has 54 operating nuclear reactors. Japan’s policy is to reprocess its spent nuclear fuel both domestically and abroad at France’s La Hague facility. High-level waste is vitrified and stored underground for 30 to 50 years for cooling. Japan ultimately plans to dispose of the high-level waste in a geologic repository. A Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) was established in 2000 to oversee this process.

Accepting that the possibility of earthquakes cannot be ruled out at any potential site in Japan, officials are developing repository designs that combine massive engineered barrier systems to complement the surrounding geological environment. In 2004 two sites will be selected for detailed characterization studies. Japan’s tentative target for the commissioning of a repository is sometime in the 2030’s and no later than 2045."

2: Harry Reid is not a dictator who can kill government programs at will. Any decision about Yucca Flats was made by the Obama administration and the regulatory agencies. Public opposition to Yucca Flats is very widespread in Nevada, plus there are plenty of technical issues about Yucca Flats geology,so there is no way that Reid alone can be blamed for a national decision.
"Republican lawmakers on Thursday pressed the Obama administration on its decision to stop work on a permanent nuclear waste storage site inside Yucca Mountain, Nevada, launching a formal probe and grilling the nuclear regulator on Capitol Hill.
The House Energy and Commerce committee sent detailed lists of questions to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko probing decisions to stop work on the controversial dump site.
Japan's nuclear disaster, caused in part by problems with storage pools for spent fuel, has renewed debate over the site, fiercely opposed by Nevada residents and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.:
"The project is widely opposed in Nevada and is a hotly debated national topic. A two-thirds majority of Nevadans feel it is unfair for their state to have to store nuclear waste when there are no nuclear power plants in Nevada.[25] Many Nevadans' opposition stemmed from the so-called "Screw Nevada Bill," the 1987 legislation halting study of Hanford and Texas as potential sites for the waste before conclusions could be met.[25] However, the local county in which the proposed facility is located, Nye County, supports the development of the repository. Nye County is larger than nine of the states in the USA in area."...
"The volcanic tuff at Yucca Mountain is appreciably fractured and movement of water through an aquifer below the waste repository is primarily through fractures.[47] While the fractures are usually confined to individual layers of tuff, the faults extend from the planned storage area all the way to the water table 600 to 1,500 ft (180 to 460 m) below the surface.[48] Future water transport from the surface to waste containers is likely to be dominated by fractures. There is evidence that surface water has been transported down through the 700 ft (210 m) of overburden to the exploratory tunnel at Yucca Mountain in less than 50 years.[49][50]
Some site opponents assert that, after the predicted containment failure of the waste containers, these cracks may provide a route for movement of radioactive waste that dissolves in the water flowing downward from the desert surface.[51] Officials state that the waste containers will be stored in such a way as to minimize or even nearly eliminate this possibility.
The area around Yucca Mountain received much more rain in the geologic past and the water table was consequently much higher than it is today, though well below the level of the repository.
Nevada ranks fourth in the nation for current seismic activity[52] Earthquake databases (the Council of the National Seismic System Composite Catalogue and the Southern Great Basin Seismic Network) provide current and historical earthquake information. Analysis of the available data in 1996 indicates that, since 1976, there have been 621 seismic events of magnitude greater than 2.5 within a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Yucca Mountain. Reported underground nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site have been excluded from this count.[52]
DOE has stated that seismic and tectonic effects on the natural systems at Yucca Mountain will not significantly affect repository performance. Yucca Mountain lies in a region of ongoing tectonic deformation, but the deformation rates are too slow to significantly affect the mountain during the 10,000-year regulatory compliance period. Rises in the water table caused by seismic activity would be, at most, a few tens of meters and would not reach the repository. The fractured and faulted volcanic tuff that Yucca Mountain comprises reflects the occurrence of many earthquake-faulting and strong ground motion events during the last several million years, and the hydrological characteristics of the rock would not be changed significantly by seismic events that may occur in the next 10,000 years. The engineered barrier system components will reportedly provide substantial protection of the waste form from seepage water, even under severe seismic loading.[53]
In September 2007, it was discovered that the Bow Ridge fault line ran underneath the facility, hundreds of feet east of where it was originally thought to be located, beneath a storage pad where spent radioactive fuel canisters would be cooled before being sealed in a maze of tunnels. The discovery required several structures to be moved several hundred feet further to the east, and drew criticism from Robert R. Loux, then head of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, who argues that Yucca administrators should have known about the fault line's location years prior, and called the movement of the structures “just-in-time engineering.”[54][55] In June 2008, a major nuclear equipment supplier, Holtec International, criticized the Department of Energy's safety plan for handling containers of radioactive waste before they are buried at the proposed Yucca Mountain dump. The concern is that, in an earthquake, the unanchored casks of nuclear waste material awaiting burial at Yucca Mountain could be sent into a "chaotic melee of bouncing and rolling juggernauts".[56]"

Thanks for enlightenment on the "normal" Fukushima spent fuel storage path. Is it the case that Fukushima pools also had decades of spent fuel that could have been responsibility dealt with post partial cool down? Would be informative to see a map of global Inventory of rods in Que that are ready for off site cask storage or re-processing. I suppose we (the US) end up storing the waste from the Russian weapons also in our back yards with the mox fuels. I remember a decade or so back reading that the mass of waste from commercial power plants is less than 5% of the scope of the problem since 95% is from weapons programs. The weapons problem is not as spread out all over the map however. So when do we wake up and deal with moving the hazard to safekeeping? I fear that answer may be obvious, after a major release.

This eve I had a tour of the GE wind turbine facility located in the old Westinghouse PWR fab and assembly building. Back to the Future minus reactor cores. 1st time I have been in the complex since 1977. GE is doubling production rate from 5 to 10 turbines a day for 2012. The 1.6 MW low wind turbines are "low" voltage (7000 amps @690 volts 3PH). So the US wind industry has room for cost reduction. Never seen so much copper diesel locomotive (DLO) cable in my life on one piece of gear. The Generators are Permanent Magnet type. No pictures allowed so no posts.

I grew up in Pensacola with building the Westinghouse PWR's and I know these reactor vessels were built as flawlessly as humanly possible.

1) How do you know what you claim? You were there, saw the actual building of the vessels?

2) "as flawlessly as humanly possible" - Fukushima had an award given to an engineer who worked around a building flaw. How about San Onofre and the installation of earthquake shocks backwords?
Then you have things like sleeping security guards.

Face it - #2 is where fission falls down. Humans are flawed and so are their creations.

Everyone agrees "it's a good idea" to manage this situation that can wreck the very fabric of life by hammering the DNA of all life on spaceship earth.

Not everyone - there is at least one poster on TOD who argued radiation is good for you.

And waste management is not needed if you are not creating the waste to begin with.

Yep, "as flawlessly as humanly possible" .. referring to the Reactor vessels, You get it. As a kid witness many being built and inspected, and knew the builders, it was a very capable process. We now know how complex and fragile the rest of the system can be to operate. Certainly don't have confidence in them. There a web site that documents reactor operation close calls. Complex systems may be our downfall. PV is as close to magic as it gets. Nuclear fusion at a safe distance. Instead of Space based sillyness, Why not a HV DC ring around the equator and at 10,20,30,40 degrees latitude.

In Sweden a reactor has been on stand still since this spring. It was revealed a few days ago the reason; someone forgot a vacuum cleaner insde a pressure chamber, and when they tested the chamber it begun burning. The soot took 7 months to clean out. Total cost: 1.8 billion Swedish Kronor (or 180million Euros).

CLIMATE CHANGE: How rivers will behave

PRETORIA, 14 November 2011 (IRIN) - Soaring temperatures and erratic rains brought on by a changing climate may radically alter water flows in the world’s major river basins, including the Limpopo in southern Africa, forcing people to give up farming in some areas, says a new study.

... Mulligan drew parallels with the uncertainty of the current financial crisis, pointing out that unprepared institutions and experts were responding in crisis mode. He said their findings on the impact of climate change on river basins indicate that the world faces an uncertain future regarding water, and the impact was unpredictable.

“So you cannot even draw up an adaptation strategy, as we are not certain about what we need to adapt to… the goal post will keep changing,” he said. A framework is needed to plan a strategy for the better management of water, and make countries and people more resilient.

Here are some of the key findings concerning the impact on food security, with suggested steps to become more adaptable: ...

paper http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/News_Room/Archives/CPWF/2011/09/index.aspx

and http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ims85SK0u0u-fHLgaZnNg...

Fight ahead: Keep giving tax credits for wind power?

Wind producers are irked that the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency, can cut off wind generation when there's a surge in river flows, resulting in too much hydropower. The agency took that step several times earlier this year.

Against this backdrop, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, wants to extend tax credits for more wind power through 2016. Unless Congress acts, the subsidies will expire at the end of 2012.

But with Congress facing a big test in cutting the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion in coming weeks, Reichert's plan is causing division in his own party. Opponents say it's time for the federal government to stop subsidizing all energy projects and let the marketplace decide which ones succeed.

Succinct post. If it is true that GDP growth is constrained by high oil prices then the global economy is toast. Germany, Japan, and the USA will all default at some point. It will be interesting to see if anybody cares by then.

Greece, Italy, and Financial Stability

One critical parameter is the GDP growth rate. If the GDP growth rate is bigger than the interest rate (e.g., nominal GDP growing faster than 5% in the previous example), then the debt you owe, although growing, would still shrink as a percentage of GDP. A sovereign government might well continue to find lenders in such a situation, even if it’s just rolling over a growing amount of debt. But if GDP growth is below the interest cost, then debt that’s continually rolled over would grow to become an arbitrarily large multiple of GDP.

Maybe offtopic, but this is an interesting video from Steve Keen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75kFhBAI8Bo&feature=feedu

Great interview with the chief engineer of the Prius product line for Toyota:


Unlike the denialists, they start by taking peak oil as a given and are structuring their policies around it:

To control this gap, we must go multi track. We must improve gasoline and diesel engines. We must increase the number of hybrid models. We must produce the plug-in hybrid. We must develop city commuter electric vehicles. We already started small production of fuel cell vehicles. We must do all these improvements at the same time.

I wish Toyota would get a pure EV out ASAP. The plug-in Prius was a let down . . . basically all they did was do what hobbyists were doing with their Prius cars 8 years earlier and jacked up the price to $32K! What a huge rip-off! The slightly larger battery and added charger do not cost that much.

It's funny the interview appears on "the truth about cars." You know why? Because the use of private automobiles for the vast majority of daily commutes was, is, and always will be utterly insane, like using a chainsaw to butter your toast but on a far larger per-transaction scale and times a billion-plus units and climbing.

Toyota merely hopes to milk more money out of its existing investments and expertise. It bears the same relationship to a decent, sustainable human future as World War III.

The yardstick for judging seriousness about sustainable transportation is talking about peak energy and the basic (stupendously bonkers) physics of the car in the driveway. Changing the fuel source, even if possible, doesn't stand a chance of changing those basic realities.

"... is like using a chainsaw to butter your toast."

Now that is a simile worth reusing!


stupendously bonkers... utterly insane, like using a chainsaw to butter your toast...

couldn't agree more

The Strange Case of the Weighty Lunchbox

I recently used a large moving van to do something that only a large moving van can do, i.e. move several tons of household goods over 100 miles in one day. that imho is nearly a justifiable use of fossil energy, though I am vulnerable to valid questions like "why are you moving at all" and "why do you own so much stuff".

to use a 2 or 3 tonne car to move one person to the post office to post a letter is... well... facepalm...

I just saw the strangest thing at Canadian Tire today:


Gas Powered Drink Blender
Product #199-1768-6
See more Enthusiast and Novelty Gifts or compare
Reg. $399.99

Now that's more like it.

Well, it may be like buttering toast with a chainsaw, but as I've pointed out before, it's also biomimetic. Consider how massive some seashells are compared to the small tender bit inside. Even in nature, sometimes the toast gets buttered with a chainsaw because otherwise it gets eaten out of existence.

So as long as both government fiat and social mores command everyone to spend $100 on $1 worth of "safety", it's not going to change. We've accumulated many decades of scaremongering in service of a variety of political agendas (mainly left-wing and unrelated to risk), and it has worked brilliantly. So brilliantly that, for example, hardly anybody is even going to consider allowing the kids to walk or bike to school, never mind urge them to do so. (Lest, maybe, in some locales, they get an unfriendly visit from Social "Services" concerning "child endangerment".)

And following through on that - once again, let's not forget that Driving costs money, but biking costs time (and busing costs even more time.) And when you get down to brass tacks, the one and only resource that's truly both irreplaceable and non-substitutable is time. Against that, the mass ratio between an automobile and a human body, no matter how large, becomes a number utterly devoid of any conceivable significance, and driving those commutes becomes not the least bit insane.

And when you get down to brass tacks, the one and only resource that's truly both irreplaceable and non-substitutable is time. Against that, the mass ratio between an automobile and a human body, no matter how large, becomes a number utterly devoid of any conceivable significance, and driving those commutes becomes not the least bit insane.

Using your metric of time those commutes become even more insane. Especially when so many are simply playacting in a non-productive services job as part of a make believe economy. Luckily oil allows the charade to continue as it does all the real work to keep everyone alive while they pretend to be gainfully employed. Most people are wasting their time and their life without even realising it. Time only seems to have value inside the game, for most humans they just want to spend their time being happy regardless of what they're actually spending it on.

For many of us, time spent on a bike or in a bus is rewarding in many other ways well beyond simply getting from A to B.

I bike to work. Last assignment I first took the train and then biked from station to the plant. (Untill they stole my bike). The best thing in my opinion with working within biking distance is the bike leave the station the moment my butt hits the saddle. No waiting for the bus to arrive. I save lots of time on that.

I think you are missing a couple points.
1) You can reduce the car mass ration by getting a smaller lighter & more efficient car. So much of commuting is done is massive beasts of metal to carry a single person. These beasts can be replaced by small lightweight efficient commuter vehicles.
2) In dense city environments, biking is often far faster than driving and getting stuck in traffic.

And yeah, I know a couple people that bike to work all the time and take their kids to school in a bike trailer. Various people have harped on how dangerous it is for those kids. Yeah, it is only dangerous because people like you don't know how to safely drive your bulky SUV properly.

With vehicles, we entered an arms race where everyone kept getting bigger and bigger cars to be 'safer' . . . but the real safety issue was caused by those larger and larger vehicles. We need to de-escalate the arms race and scale down to smaller cars.

Back atcha, spec. I think you are ignoring the main point, which is that the smallest imaginable average car mass (let's say 1,500 pounds, if battery miracles, universal abandonment of bigger cars, and lower speed limits and improved road building all happened) is still wildly insane and unsustainable. Bicycles weigh 30 pounds. Shoes are 1 pound. Rail is 8 times more energy efficient that automobility, and requires far less mass to be moved per trip.

We will either rebuild our towns around other modes of travel, or we will collapse into Mad Max carmageddon. The "electric" car is a diversion from our real challenge, which includes radically reducing the mass- and energy-intensity of daily travel. It might (and I certainly don't grant the point) have some role in a huge transition, but that's only if we refuse to accept EVs as answers, rather than band-aids, and maybe eventually as a way of running ambulances and other truly necessary delivery trips in a decent future. But the EV phenomenon very well might also end up tricking us into a fatal complacency.

Which one do you see happening at present?

Well said. You cannot tweak the personal automobile concept a little and make it viable.

I think it's a false choice.

I think the increasing viability of bike-scaled transportation, from Standard and Ebikes to Scooters, Trikes and Velos will show a path for the EV which will undoubtedly still be 'Personal, Powered Transportation' (With Pedal Electric options also in this mix), but will also be lightweight, user-fixable in many regards, and somewhat reasonably priced. Even the sneers about 'Golf-carts' will have to fade or grow stale, as Golf carts start looking like 'Midsize Vehicles' next to the Lightweights that will outrun them both in Speed and Affordability.

Maybe you will choose to disregard this view, and only base your argument on the EV's that are being held out for the markets today, which are inevitably going to look and feel almost exactly like our Regular Cars. I don't take that as the final definition of an EV by any means, nor do I think any of the EV's will repopulate the streets to the degree that cars and light trucks do today. I think more Bike Routes, PED routes and Transit will be reemerging, and the economics will help direct this balancing act of which kinds of users will still find Electric Motors and Batteries to be a viable solution.

Some days I really like the way you think.

Of course, in addition to changes in the way we think about vehicles, cities will find themselves restructured as people move to portions of the city where they simply need less transport.

Food delivery services are likely to increase in popularity again as well, as people realize they can put an order in on a website or by phone and it will be delivered to their door by a truck that is sharing their grocery trip with a dozen or more other families.

You know, like the milk man. And that system worked even without phones and internet, you just left the next days order with yesterdays recycling.

You are essentially just adopting a different definition of EV. Certainly E-bikes are vehicles that are electric, but this is not the electrified version of the car culture that almost everyone I know assumes will be coming. The assumption that we will all drive EVs that are pretty much like what we're used to once the gods of technology improve the battery a bit more prevents people from contemplating the kinds of changes they'll really have to embrace. A short haul, low speed, solar charged electric utility vehicle could be quite useful for getting produce to town a few times a week, just as the old nag and farm wagon once did. But it requires a much higher level of industrial complexity to make and maintain. Such things are so far outside of the expectations of the vast majority that it's about impossible to even discuss. To them, EVs are cars just like they've always known, and entirely essential for their very existence.

That's the whole point, Twilight.

There IS no definition of 'EV'. It can be a VERY wide range of things, as I think I described pretty well.

Who cares what the neighbors Assume? Since we don't care what they currently assume 'PO means..', be that the Sierra Club, the PTA or the Heritage Foundation, why would we let them own the definition for what EV means either? We all know that the mainstream is looking for more mainstream.. 'The same, but different'.. and we know what the blindspots generally are going to be in those assumptions.. so why work within those assumptions at all?

As far as 'Much Higher level of industrial complexity', it may be orders of mangitute (intentional typo) beyond Ox Carts, but I'm pretty far from the point of giving up on our ability to make electric motors and controls.. and that utility vehicle you mention would be, in fact a great number of utility vehicles of varying size and uses, from Taxibikes and 'Station Wagons', to Milk Trucks and Repair Vehicles.. just as the 'old nag and the wagon' were far more than just one spry fellow in one town, it was a completely integral system that moved anything from bricks to cheesewheels for centuries. I don't think it's at all fantastical to see the Electric Motor picking up a great deal of that work, particularly since you can feed that million-mile nag a little bit every time you go down a hill.

I am in Shenzhen China. I think that the future of EVs is here. There are thousands of electric bikes, electric trikes and electric taxi's (a heavy duty electric bike, the passenger rides over the rear wheel.)

How these could be translated to the US is challenging. The population density is quite high here so distances are shorter. Vehicle traffic is used to dodging pedestrians, hand carts and bicycles so collisions are far less common than you would imagine. Most importantly most of the people driving these vehicles have never owned a car, and have little hope of ever doing so. They are making a step up, not a step backward.

All functional machines are biomimetic. So what?

The question at hand is the quality and sustainability of progressive, science-aided human civilization. If you don't recognize that that project has energy-supply prerequisites, and therefore raises questions of energy use rates, one wonders what you are doing reading TOD.

As for the preciousness of time, I see that as precisely the main reason to pull our heads out of our rears about cars-first transportation. I have a son. I presume he may have children one day. I see that other people love their children and grandchildren. I feel called to care about other people's welfare, not least because it impacts my own. Making a sustainable form of modern society is the challenge we are all up against now.

As to what forces push radical transportation energy waste on us, that would be the shareholding classes, not the masses or generic "government." Perpetuating cars-first transportation is a prerequisite for sustaining corporate capitalism.


Biking saves time in the end because you end up healthier person (both physically and mentally). I run every day just for the stress relief.

like using a chainsaw to butter your toast

I burst out laughing - thanks.

"like using a chainsaw to butter your toast".

It is ironic that you chose that expression - it was often used by Amory Lovins in referring to using nuclear energy to make electricity. Amory Lovins, of course, is one of the biggest proponents of private automobiles.

He also was fond of saying "nuclear energy is a future technology whose time has passed".

The guy who consulted with Toyota on peak oil, Peter Wells, did an ASPO conference presentation in 2008. You can find a podcast of it on the net using 'david herron peter wells mp3' as a search. I highly recommend it.

China: Google Earth spots unidentified structures
Vast, unidentified, structures spotted by satellites in barren Gobi desert.

In two images, available on Google Earth, reflective rectangles up to a mile long can be seen, a tangle of bright white intersecting lines that are clearly visible from space.

Other pictures show enormous concentric circles radiating on the ground, with three jets parked at their centre.

Another image shows an array of metallic squares littered with what appears to be the debris of exploded vehicles while another shows an intricate grid that is some 18 miles long.


A couple of those look like weapons tests but the grids seem to be image artefacts. The terrain is rugged while the perfect grids seem to be floating above it and one has a river system through it.


I got exactingly the same reflection. Some are real object. The big white square is real and the polka dot structure. Looks like vicarious calibration spot for satellite. Other are very likely to be fake. They don't follow the topography and they are just to sharp to make sens.

If you look at the big square with 16 squares in it you can make out a crater that, with the surrounding damage, looks like a bomb or missile test.


That is bizarre, looks like a cat has been playing with a giant roll of toilet paper. Historical imagery shows under construction 2005, and slowly decaying since.

Paste 40.452107,93.742118 into Google Earth search.

These structures remind me of the movies "The Cube".

yikes I remember the original flick -- incredibly claustrophobic and depressing...

What’s on Your Bill?

The utility bill is the most common way for utilities to provide information about energy use to their customers, but it is often overlooked both as a way to give customers better control over their energy use and to support utilities’ goals for more actively engaging customers, especially as a part of a smart grid strategy. Even as smart meters and smart phone apps proliferate, the paper bill has the potential to become a cost-effective feedback device with a broad reach.

What we didn’t find on any bills was either comparisons of energy use with a peer group, or alternatives to the traditional kWh or therm metrics. Like historical comparisons of a household’s energy use with itself, comparisons with other similar households have produced energy savings of about 2% on average. At present, no utility that we looked at has yet rolled this type of analysis onto its bill, although third-party software companies provide peer comparisons on energy reports as an adjunct to the regular bill.

... even if the effect of improved bills on energy use is small in percentage terms, the bill already goes to every customer, so scaling up small individual savings could be significant. And many of the changes that could improve the bill are likely very cheap.

Report: The State of the Utility Bill

Protecting Houston from the next big hurricane

Bedient said the study determined that storm-surge flooding could threaten thousands of lives in heavily populated West Galveston Bay communities like Clear Lake and Dickinson. The study also found that refineries and other industry along the Houston Ship Channel was vulnerable to storm surge greater than 15 feet

Report: Learning the Lessons of Hurricane Ike: Preparing for the Next Big One

S - Yep...one good blow and the country could lose a good bit of product overnight. That purple area is essentially refinery row through the Pasedena area. I live just to the north across the highway from the largest refinery in the western hemisphere. Beside infrastructure damage, the refineries would lose most of their operators for some extended period: no big surprise as most live in the same proximaty. Between dislocation and home damage many won't be punching the clock for a while.

2012 The National Council for Science and the Environment Conference: Environment and Security Jan. 18-20,2012 Washington,D.C.: Draft Agenda

FEMA: As the effects of natural and man-made disasters become more rapid, far-reaching, and wide-spread, government at all levels must grapple with the limitations of its capabilities.

The simple reality is that in extreme events and meta-disasters, the needs of survivors will outweigh the resources and capabilities that government can bring to bear. Moreover, as interdependencies and cascade effects from disasters manifest more and more quickly, the current capacity and decision-making processes of government are becoming rate-limiting factors that govern society’s response to those disasters.

Put differently, government cannot presume that it can solve disaster management challenges on its own, and the manner in which government engages with other segments of society will determine the effectiveness of the nation’s response as a whole.

... Food-Water-Energy Nexus: Globally, water demand is expected to exceed supply by over 40 percent by 2030.

· With more than 70 percent of the world’s fresh water being used for agriculture, how can food production be doubled to feed an increasing population?

· How can a projected increase of 40 percent in U.S. energy demand be met, given energy is the largest industrial user of water?

· What approaches are needed to bring in the nexus-thinking into policy making, allocation of financial resources and generating political leadership to ensure future water security?

This second reason has been emphasized in the studies of self-evaluated happiness, which show that beyond a threshold annual income of some $20-25 thousand, further growth does not increase happiness. Happiness, beyond this threshold, is overwhelmingly a function of the quality of our relationships in community by which our very identity is constituted, rather than the quantity of goods consumed.

It's a pity that this myth of happiness threshold lives on. The early research this myth is based on has been shown to be faulty, and current and more thorough research proves the happiness keeps increasing with GDP per capita. However, the meme fits so well into many socialists'/environmentalists' agendas that it's doubtful that the echo will ever die.

Also, it is not necessarily about "goods consumed". A higher per-capita GDP means better health care and so on.

It's a pity that this myth of happiness threshold lives on. The early research this myth is based on has been shown to be faulty, and current and more thorough research proves the happiness keeps increasing with GDP per capita.

Effective debunking requires citations.

Attempted debunking without any citations tends to come off as ineffectual agitprop.

Since there are great and powerful interests who profit mightily from aggressive promotion of the sparkly myth that more is always better, growth is good, happiness can be purchased on credit, etc, arguments supporting the infinite hamster theory are immediately suspect and require solid substantiating footnotes. Hence, please provide some.

My own personal life includes both a period of extremely high remuneration and considerable consumer activity /and/ a period of living on about 1/4 of my former salary with much reduced consumer activity. My experience solidly substantiates the thresh-hold theory. I am actually happier in my present existence -- quite adequate in creature comforts, but receiving way less money-income and buying way less shiny stuff. This is merely anecdotal, I realise, but it is at least a citation of sorts :-)

We use to live in Marin County, CA, which is the wealthiest county in the US, and I rarely saw people happy or laughing.

We moved to a less affluent county and absolutely love it! It's farther out in the country. People are friendly, even strangers feel comfortable starting up a conversation. When we go back down to Marin to visit friends and family we know to keep to ourselves.

I know people in Marin that have vehicles they can't really afford, but they are status symbols they feel they must have to match those in their neighborhood. Must be seen in a Toyota Land Cruiser and wear Patagonia pull overs. Don't forget to throw a few cramp-ons in the back for looks even though you no longer rock climb. Open the glove box - there's pics from our trip to Borneo.

Why do they live a lie for the sake of 'feeling' like they belong to an overstressed group of supposed overachievers. How is lack of happiness overachieving? People lose all sense of just being themselves.

I'm a Marin refugee myself.
It is geographically beautiful, but out of touch with reality.
People are generally to comfortable to gain any insight, or to do any action.
Isolated from real world experience.
I was in Tiburon today, and mingling with the 1% is always somewhat amusing.
I still have many good friends in Marin.

Well, if they have debt, they should not be considered wealthy. Wealthy people don't have personal debt.

Wealthy people don't have personal debt.

That's not really true. Many wealthy people have large amounts of debt. It's just that their assets vastly exceed their liabilities.

Debt is just a tool you can use to achieve what you want. If you can pay it off any time you want, it's not really a problem. I tried to explain that to the bank one time when I floated a mortgage across my credit cards while I renegotiated a new mortgage, but they just didn't understand the concept. They probably just foolishly assumed I would use my credit cards to buy something other than a house.

The trouble with banks is that they want to make money for the bank. I want to make money for myself, so we were always operating at cross purposes. They got particularly upset when they discovered that I had no income, even though my company was doing extremely well because it paid its employee (me) nothing at all.

So, I was paying no income tax, but the bank was upset because I had tons of personal debt and had no income, even though my company was making a killing on the stock market. They just didn't understand. Fortunately, neither did the tax people.

I concur with both peak and yourself. Life during my high earning years was a much less happy time than now, and I'm lucky to earn 25% of my former income. Life in the Matrix sucked. And I never had much in the way of debt other than a relatively small mortgage.

Although chasing the carrot of illusionary wealth leads to unhappiness the real key is better explained by Charles Dickens character "Micawber":

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

It's certainly a puzzle why in a time of great natural wealth (eg. with oil) when life could be so much easier, we create this massive game of Monopoly that keeps everyone in a constant state of stress and unhappiness whilst destroying everything of real importance.

It's a pity that this myth of happiness threshold lives on. The early research this myth is based on has been shown to be faulty,

You got links to prove what you claim is the case?

I should make a library of references as I spend way too much time digging up proof for stuff I know. Let's start with this graph, that I've shown on TOD before. If you guys are not satisfied, I can try to get more evidence for you:

Note that the x axis is exponential. This means that happiness goes as the logarithm of the incomes. This has been predicted in the economic, theory and tested in laboratory. On a linear scale the "threshold is very obvious" and you would agree that, in rich countries, income and happiness are poorly correlated. Also, most of the difference within a contry is caused by societal positioning. People are happier not only because their needs are better fulfilled, but because when you are rich people think your are a better person.

Again, there is obviously no threshold. 10% growth means equally much or little for a rich country as for a poor country. The now-disproven threshold meme comes from incomplete research that used the same type of log-scale. If you transform to linear, you'll see that it would be absolutely arbitrary to put a threshold at $20,000 or at any other point.

Since countries are fairly evenly spread on the X axis, and since growth is exponential (or at least expressed in percent), it seems that the "natural" way to measure and compare income is logarithmic. Also, philosophically speaking, how do you know happiness isn't affected exponentially but expressed linearly by humans? Humans hear that way, for instance, i.e. somewhere along the way we take the logarithm of the input when we interpret loudness.

Your claim about societal positioning as the primary cause of within-country happiness differences requires academic support.

Well, there is a huge body of scientific literature that support my position; from psychology, to economy and physiology. Human brain works in relative unit, not in absolute. The key issue here is it become exponentially more expansive to produce an incremental gain in happiness. At some point, it is much easier to act on the secondary factor of happiness than putting more effort in the economic input.

Well, there is a huge body of scientific literature that support my position; from psychology, to economy and physiology. Human brain works in relative unit, not in absolute.

Then, according to you, between-country happiness differences should be explained by between-country GDP-envy?

The key issue here is it become exponentially more expansive to produce an incremental gain in happiness.

Yes, in a way. But there still is no threshold.

At some point, it is much easier to act on the secondary factor of happiness than putting more effort in the economic input.

Then there's a threshold in our abilities to grow, and not in happiness/GDP-correlation.

I must agree with Yvan; redraw your graph linear on all axis and see for your self. At a certain point, to be happyer you must get so much more richer.

In a way. OTOH, look at a linear-linear graph that shows the curve magnified at $20,000 +- 10%, and compare with a lin-lin graph that shows the curve at $30,000 +- 10%. They will look exactly the same, including steepness of the slope! There simply is no threshold, and any 10% extra will yield the same amount of extra happiness. This was not the conclusion of the early, faulty research that found a threshold at $20,000.

A graph of happiness from the Wharton school of business. A Self-fulfilling PHD?

Sorry.. not very convincing.

How does their 'Self-reported Satisfaction Surveying' work, do they say? It's all in the question.. all except what you might have forgotten to ask. I mean, did a couple Wharton Students come up to people in Sudan and ask them if they'd be happier if they were richer?

Sorry, I won't stoop to defend the research at this level of argument. Look at the research in depth or find a fresh survey of current happiness research and then we'll talk.

The foolishness is thinking there is going to be ANY kind of direct correlation or anti-correlation between 'Degree of Wealth' and 'Degree of Happiness' ...

Thekey is "GDP per capita". That is not the same as that people are richer. For example,more GDP means more and better hospitals,and that can make a lot of peoplea lot happyer, without getting richer.

Ron Paul: "It Is Estimated That US Banks Have Over A Trillion Dollars Tied Up At-Risk With German And French Banks"

The US has a relatively small exposure to overwhelmed Greek banks, but much larger economies in Europe are set to follow and that will have serious implications for US banks. Greece is technically small enough to bail out. Italy is not. Germany is not. France is not. It is estimated that US banks have over a trillion dollars tied up in at-risk German and French banks. Because the urge to paper over the debt with more credit is so strong, the collapse of the Euro is imminent.

France draws fire after "alarm bells" warning

French banks are among the biggest holders of Italy's 1.8 trillion euro public debt pile.

Fears are growing in the United States that Europe's debt crisis is mushrooming into a wider systemic problem.

President Barack Obama's top economic adviser said the European debt crisis was the leading risk to the U.S. recovery.

I wanted to build a parabolic dish Solar cooker. There are lots of designs on the web, anyone has any simple ones that they have tried and are known to work effectively ?

If you want smaller quantities cooked then take a look at the Cookit. Not exactly a parabola but works well.


Check out my Photobucket album....nothing "simple", but building a decent parabolic dish rarely is....


They all do work effectively :-)

Some interesting ideas there, I might combine some of them with what I want to do. Are you using fibreglass layups?


Yes, the round dishes are polyester-glass layups. I hate the stuff, and it's getting very expensive (epoxy is ridiculous now!), but it does do compound curvature nicely. The all-wood dish is OK, too.

My latest and preferred approach is the "Vesta" shown in the photo album, invented by the folks at solarfire.org in Rajkot, India .

Yep, the "Vesta" was one I found very interesting. How do you connect the 9 sub mirrors together?


There's a photo of it in the album -- strips of marine plywood glued over the seams with polyurethane construction adhesive. The underlying mold sets the angles for the desired focal length -- four different molds for the sixteen heliostats.

Ah, thanks, I saw that and understood the jig but couldn't quite figure out what you were doing there with the joining.


That dish is one hell of a neat construction job. Not easy to assemble pieces in a parabola. Kudos

One thing to keep in mind is that you don't need that much precision in the parabola, as you are heating an area maybe a foot or more around, depending on what you're making the Oven part from.

Instead of worrying about the manufacture and support of a proper curve, you might try what I am attempting, taking a collection of cast-off Mirrors or whatever reflectors you find available to you, and mount them onto a Flat Panel or frame (1 to 2 sq meters..?) so that each reflector can be aimed individually, and then secured well, and the standing supports for the whole board allow it to rotate to keep up with the sun. With Mine, one or two such collections will then be aimed at a Tempered Glass window (Shelf from Old Fridge) at the back wall of a Well-Insulated Metal Box Made from either an old Convection Oven, or Bolting together Retired Cookie Sheets, and adding a few inches of Safe Insulation out side of all the other walls, and the Oven Door, to keep the heat in there.. It might even make sense to make the back wall from Spare Ceramic or Firebrick, in order to have some thermal storage within the oven to keep the temps more consistent..

Of course, some of the simplest Solar Ovens are probably more than adequate, gluing Aluminum Foil onto Large Pieces of Cardboard from Appliance Cartons, and standing a 3/4 wraparound wall above your Glass-covered Cooking Box, Usually more cardboard surrounded by Glass Insulation, I believe..

Good Luck!~

Old satellite dishes make great frames for parabolic reflectors - most of the work has been done, including the multi-axis mount. Simply attach the reflective surface of choice to the dish. The original feed horn (LNB) is the focal point. I'm working on a six foot dish, using 12 x 12 mirrors, hoping to add a duel axis tracker at some point ($$). I'm in the parts salvage/collection phase. Planning to heat water.

I'm also salvaging smaller (dish network-style) dishes to assemble a solar cooker from. Another medium/long term project.

The main problem I see with satellite dishes is that the focus ends up high in the air, and moving around as well -- inconvenient for cooking.

When the pivot for the elevation adjustment passes right through the cookpot, it's more pleasant to work with. Large satellite dishes with long focal lengths don't easily allow for that.

Hi, provo.

The dish in your first picture (60") seems to be virtually the same as the 72" dish I'm using in terms of curvature and focal length. Also, the focus on the original feed horn is tighter than would be required for cooking, allowing one to move the "pot" closer to the dish. I'm planing on using smaller mirrors which can be individually adjusted for focus - using the dish structure to get me in the ballpark (much like the 'Vesta', in your album). I haven't decided how to attach the mirrors yet,, glue and silicone are on my list. Also, the dishes made of tubing and wire mesh can be refocused by decreasing the outer diameter. Simply unbolt the outer ring sections and saw a couple of inches off of each one. The mesh can be adjusted to the new curvature.

I know,, my passion for salvage and reuse is showing. We live in a rural area and there are dozens of these old dishes, free for the asking. I've built all of my PV trackers using the mounts/frames from them.

On a related note, I was considering getting one of these big old dishes and making a hillside 'coffee gazebo nook' with the dish as the back wall, with the focus and target set up so I can get decent cellphone reception up in the woods there.

I know.. 'watch where you put your head..'.. I wouldn't go ahead on that one without a decent Field-strength meter in hand, and a bit more sound info.. maybe I'd just put the focus well overhead and have an antenna extension get up into the hotspot.

As with your small dishes, this is 'down the list' a ways..

Here's an old idea that makes a very good focus- probably far better than needed for cooking-.

Get a sheet of aluminized mylar and stretch it over the end of a short tube, By short I mean, for example, one meter in diameter and 10 cm long. Do the same on the other end, using anything non-porous, like sheet plastic. You have to seal the perimeter with caulk or something air tight.

then pull a small underpressure inside the enclosure. Both of the sheets bend down and the mylar sheet curves so as to get a very tight focus sunspot that will burn up your beans in no time.

These things are easy to do, and I tried to sell them, coupled to a stirling, in India about 30 years ago. No luck, but they did like the concentrator idea for burning bodies.

This also loses vacuum fairly fast, but not so fast as to prevent the bean -or body-burning.

Hey Wimbi - lets see if this will get promoted to the top of a drumbeat.

This goal of this project is to build a low cost Stirling engine that can generate electricity (around 1KW of power output). We have completed a prototype engine for proof of concept and to test out materials and linkages. Now we want to scale the project so that engine can be used for real work. This engine will have around 1KW of power. What does that mean ? Well the average US household uses about 8,900KWH of electricity per year - that comes down to 24 KWH per day and so our goal is to have a minimum engine output of 1KW so that it can produce close to the average home use of electrical power per day (24 hours of 1 KW output give you 24KWH). We have a cost target of less then $100, in cost, for this engine, with the majority of parts made from commonly found commodity components. At the completion of the project we'll provide open source plans for construction of the engine along with kits that allow purchase of the components or completed engine.

This would be an amazing technical achievement. Today Stirling cost thousand of dollar at lower power.

There was a firm claiming they'd have a 1 HP Nitrogen charged 2000 hour to rebuild 4000 hr total life stirling for $89 in 20 foot cargo shipping container load for delivery at the end of 2001. Omnichron or some such name.

They claimed 'due to the Sept 11th attack the partners cancelled the project'.

I don't really care how in-efficient the engine is - if it can use waste heat or even sunlight - I'm all for it.

(as for the heilostat - http://www.redrok.com is a good resource for ideas)

Stirling power is very roughly displacement (cc) x frequency (Hz) x pressure (atm) divided by 100. All assuming the heater head is 300 stainless running about 600 C.

Which means that 1kW at 20 Hz and 1 atm needs about 5000 cc swept volume. Big! Big means heavy, heavy means expensive.

So you can pressurize it, or make it run faster, or heat it up more or--- . Or go to the web and search ST-5 stirling engine.

All assuming the heater head is 300 stainless running about 600 C.

The one picture on kickstart looks like an 8 inch standard, rustable iron steam pipe. (the caption says 10 and 12 inch)

Or go to the web and search ST-5 stirling engine.

One can find pictures of 'em and how the design was sold off to some firm.

But you can't seem to cut a check for $X and get one.

The only vendor I can cut a check to and get an engine (plus other stuff) is WhisperGen for a 'production' unit.

If this unit works from cookie cutter parts that they are willing to share, that's better than the ST-5. Or even your personal stirling past.

Thanks All. I will try some of the cardboard + aluminum foil designs suggested.


Or you could buy a 35" or even 48" parabolic mirror from http://greenpowerscience.com.
They do Fresnel lenses too which is how I came across their site on ebay (I have no link with them). They currently have a second-hand 3ft x 2ft lens for $43.

I have an A4-size lens (approx 1 sq ft) which will melt lead but which I've done nothing (so far) useful with. The snag is that you can't stack them like mirrors.


One caution on the cardboard/foil designs is that they warp like crazy if they get humid. An unexpected fog (no-one here remembers ever getting a fog here) finished off my first cookit. The boxes that refrigerators, washing machines and ovens come in are a good size.


Fuel tax 'pricing drivers off roads’

The AA said that earlier AA/Populus surveys of AA members showed that less well-off drivers had suffered more since the price of fuel peaked at 137.43p a litre for petrol, with diesel at 143.04p. Petrol has since remained within 3p of that record.

A May 2011 survey of 11,548 members showed that those cutting back on car use, other spending or both rose dramatically with lower income.

Also, a poll of nearly 16,000 in July this year ''exposed the knife-edge that lower-income drivers endure budgeting on a set amount on fuel''.

Of the 28% who say they spend a set amount on fuel, the impact of pump prices which were 16p-18p a litre higher than a year before showed it was the poorer motorists who were being hit the most.

In a letter to Mr Osborne, AA president Edmund King said: ''The private car is, for most people, a necessity not a luxury. It is their means to a job, healthcare, doing the shopping, visiting relatives and friends, and also for improving the quality of their lives.

AA president Edmund King said: ''The private car is, for most people, a necessity not a luxury. It is their means to a job, healthcare, doing the shopping, visiting relatives and friends, and also for improving the quality of their lives.

I think people in the UK need to readjust their priorities. A private car is likely to go back to being a luxury rather than a necessity for most people. In a few years, only the wealthy will be able to afford to drive. The common person will have to take the tube or the double-decker bus.

I realize it's cruel, but North Sea oil production has peaked and is in steep decline. The UK can no longer afford to consume oil at the rate it currently does. The days of champagne and caviar are over, and the country has to get back to beer and fish and chips.

The UK is in a good position in that it has all the rail infrastructure it really needs, but it is old and it needs a lot of modernization. I'm looking at this from the perspective of the colonies and comparing it to the Vancouver Skytrain, for instance.

RMG, in the end it will come down to either a lot of people being able to move around slowly or a few moving quickly. Rail transport is already prohibitively expensive in the UK once you get outside London. It is already getting to the point where only the wealthy can afford fast transport, the rest as you say have to take the slower means. A trend which I believe will continue until the majority simply stay put.

Will the 99% be happy being priced out of mobility to the benefit of the 1%? Probably not, travelling by any means is likely to become dangerous.

That reminds of a time when I travelled by bus in Manchester. As we went through a certain poor area, the bus was pelted with stones and pieces of wood, luckily the windows were toughened glass. No one paid any attention, even the driver who had a radio didn't even report it. I guess it was a common occurrence.

I recall when visiting my parents back in the '80s that I paid more for my first class train ticket from London to Chester than my flight from Toronto to Heathrow, and the only reason I opted for first class was that it guaranteed me a non-smoking carriage. In a word, British Rail sucks.


But sucking is better than not existing.

Well, the cars were filthy, there was no food or beverage service and one look at the facilities convinced you that you could hold it until you arrived. It was disgusting.


Doesn't sound like the Hogwart's Express

It can also be cheaper to buy a return ticket than a one way ticket! Sounds crazy but true. 80's were bad for trains, especially the early part. Later 90's much better.



No doubt service has improved tremendously since then. I can't recall the exact amount as this was almost thirty years ago, but I'm almost certain it was in excess of £300 and for that I expect a lot better.


Yike! That's bad, never bothered with first class until my very last contract, was the only way to get a chance at sitting down for the hour each way before and after a very gruelling day on my feet.


I didn't do any kind of serious analysis of it while I was consulting there, but the railway system in Britain struck me as extremely inefficient and wasteful. There appear to be a lot of opportunities to improve it, but it might require a lot of money and a certain amount of ruthlessness to make it work efficiently.

However, "efficiency" seemed to be something of an alien concept to most Brits. I kept pointing out more efficient ways that other countries did things, but that just seemed to upset them. They always had to do things the British way whether it made any sense or not. In particular, doing things the same way the French did seemed to be completely against the rules.

Rail Transport in Britain is certainly expensive by international standards.

For some years, Britain has been said to have the highest rail fares in the world. For example, the (discounted) annual season ticket from London to Brighton (standard 2nd class) as of January 2010 costs £3,280 for 54 miles (87 km), while an annual DB (German) 100 BahnCard, which allows one year's travel on the entire German rail network, costs almost exactly the same (3800 Euros).

The Germans, of course, are well known for their efficiency.

I would be interested to hear a couple of the more efficient ways of doing things you suggested.

They always had to do things the British way whether it made any sense or not.

Isn't this the US aproach to the metric system?


I'm sorry to report that I think you're painting an overly rosy view of our future. Cars will become a luxury, but the public transport system is crumbling. The rail infrastructure needs a complete overhaul and it would still be incapable of coping with the needs of the masses.

The cost of trains and even buses are rising fast, to the point that they are becoming prohibitive. Our economy isn't set up for large parts of the population to not be able to move around at will.

As an example, I have to go to Sheffield soon. It'll be £42 return on the train as my cheapest off-peak fare and will take around 2.5 hours. I could probably drive it for £15 in fuel and take about 1.5 hours.

Public transport is always a loss. Or mostly. In Sweden, the only on-ground traffic that makes a profit is the Stockholm/Göteborg/Malmö triangle and Stockholm/Uppsala, all rail roads. EVERYTHING else is a loss. Tax payers money is put into this to make it go round. When Eak Oil economy sets in, guess what will happen to subsedies?

That's the major catch here too - public transport is "supposed" to be run by private companies for a profit, with some subsidies to help it along. I can't see how this will pan out well in the future.

When fuel becomes unavailable by either scarcity or price, our alternatives of rail/bus will be too expensive also.

I bet some form of re-nationalisation of bus and rail will be proposed at some point.

I disagree. They are more likely to be re-nationalised due to windfall profits, since they are more fuel-efficient per passenger mile, and since people will be forced out of private transport into public transport.

If fuel is scarce or too high priced, will there be any jobs to go to? Will these people even need to use any transport?

I think it's likely that we'll return to the model of the past, where people tended to live very near their workplaces. "Living above the store," as Reagan put it.

It was also common for large employers to provide housing. The mill houses in the northeast, the plantation houses in Hawaii, and even now, the farms that provide housing to temporary workers like fruit pickers.

And the cheap dorm accommodations provided by employers in ritzy resort towns so that their mostly young workers can afford to live there while serving the upscale tourist trade...

Energy bills cause fall in living standards

Growth in essential spending reached its highest level this year, rising 3.7pc for the month of October, according to Lloyds TSB's Spending Power Report. The rise outpaced income growth, which slowed to 3.3pc and left real incomes 1.6pc lower than last year.

Spending on gas and electricity grew by 7.4pc last month despite it being one of the mildest Octobers on record. "The likelihood is that this figure will continue to rise in the coming months as the weather gets colder," Lloyds TSB said.

Official inflation figures today are expected to offer little respite, with the headline measure of consumer price growth forecast to decline from 5.2pc to just 5.1pc.

As a result, more households are looking to save than at any time in the past year, Lloyds' research found.

Testimony by workers on the site of stricken Fukushima I NPS

In units 1-3, crews decided to vent radioactive steam by opening a containment vessel valve. Ordinarily, such venting can be done by manipulation from inside the main control room. But because the plant had lost all power, workers had to go to the site and operate the valve by hand. The reactor was at high temperatures because of the exposure of the fuel rods. The incredible heat was underscored by one worker, who said that, when he set a foot on the torus (scaffolding) inside the reactor building, the soles of his shoes instantly melted.

The building interior had very high levels of radiation as well as temperature. TEPCO said it took account of the risk of radioactive exposure and made related provisions, such as having the on-site work performed by older workers.

Some land in Japan too radioactive to farm: study

Farmland in parts of Japan is no longer safe because of high levels of radiation in the soil, scientists have warned, as the country struggles to recover from the Fukushima atomic disaster.

"Fukushima prefecture as a whole is highly contaminated," especially to the northwest of the nuclear power plant, the researchers said.

"The east Fukushima prefecture exceeded this limit and some neighbouring prefectures such as Miyagi, Tochigi and Ibaraki are partially close to the limit under our upper-bound estimate," the study said.

related Mountains limited spread of fallout from Fukushima

The mountains sheltered northwestern and western parts of Japan as radioactive cesium-137 emerged from the power plant and blew downwind, the scientists said.

The researchers, from Japan, Norway and the United States, said the levels they estimated would severely restrict food production in eastern Fukushima Prefecture and hinder agriculture in neighboring provinces.

Seems like a real problem for a country. The blue area and worse cover a quite big area of Japan. Tjernobyl might have been worse but Soviet was so much bigger than Japan. It is the third time a device from US or from a US company contaminate the country.

Radioactive iodine: Now France detects traces in atmosphere

France's nuclear watchdog on Tuesday said it had detected traces of radioactive iodine in the air last week after similarly low contamination was reported by the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Austria.

Given the 8 day 1/2 life and the length of time from Fukushima's startpoint ... where is it comingfrom?

I saw a rumour that the Russians had a fire somewhere. Might make sense given the spread of these reports.


Since the yellow and worse are what exceeds the safety limit, and that area covers extremely little of Japan, it seems like a small problem in the grand scheme of things.

The yellow [and worse] areas represent an area half the size of the state of Connecticut. If something like that happened here it would definitely NOT be a small problem in the grand scheme of things.

The evacuation plan for Indian Point [our nearest nuke] involves relocating 17 million people.

Since the yellow and worse are what exceeds the safety limit,

Didn't you post in the past the radiation is not a problem?

So why are you concerned about what the safety limit is given past claims of there being no need for such?

No, I didn't. I think you confuse me with someone else.

Blue is about 1/10th of the limit, the higher limit areas seem to be very much closer to Fukashima.


No matter what changes in the debt crisis picture or other destabilizing peak oil issues and devlopments there is one steady constant thing I see on TOD that certainly helps me to keep my bearings: I am referring to the metaphor of the Titanic. It appears again and again with comforting regularity. OK, the Titanic sank and people drowned and froze, I know it was a horrible accident.....yet somehow the steadiness of this metaphor lets me feel that no matter how bad things get, they can be no worse than drowning in a freezing ocean of ice after a good dinner....

So, today on CNBC what did I see??? A headline that made me sit up!!! "Angela Merkel is 'the Captain of the Titanic'"!!! One of those clever strategic economic analysts has latched onto the best thing in doom metaphors since the "stone heads" and the other perennial favorite, the dinosaurs' extinction.

Now I think I'm waiting for the "stone heads" analogy to make it onto the pages of CNBC. I bet I won't have to wait long!! "The Euro: another stone head???" Hmmmmm....

I'm sorry, but the image of Angela Merkel clad in a ship's captain's outfit and bravely overseeing the last hours of a sinking ocean liner....made me rather laugh. Should peak oil have its lighthearted moments?

Shiffs Kapitan Merkel:
"Economists and Bankers first, please! People, remain calm, no pushing, there are only so many diving boards available.."

Hang in there, Pi!

I'm reminded of the time when our daughter was about two, and fell in the lake.. my wife saw her face down, 15 feet along the beach from her (some 400milliseconds into the event) and grabbed her out. When I asked Loreley later what it was like, being 'under water', she just said one word.. "Bubbles" .. refreshingly light, as I saw visions of Leonardo DiCaprio sinking away, and frozen babies bob, bob, bobbing along.

It's a good day to die..

A New Intelligence Org on Climate Change is Needed, DSB Says

The U.S. intelligence community needs an organization that can assess the impacts of climate change on U.S. national security interests in an open and collaborative manner, according to a new report from the Defense Science Board (DSB).

The Director of National Intelligence should establish a new intelligence group “to concentrate on the effects of climate change on political and economic developments and their implications for U.S. national security,” said the DSB report on “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security” (large pdf).

The Central Intelligence Agency already has a Center on Climate Change and National Security. ... the DSB report said, the secretive approach favored by CIA is actually counterproductive.

“The most effective way to tackle understanding [climate change] may be to treat it, for the most part, as an open question, transparent to all engaged in its study,” the DSB report said. “Compartmentalizing climate change impact research can only hinder progress.”

Ex-skeptic tells US Congress climate change is real

A prominent climate change skeptic told Congress on Monday he no longer doubts that global warming is real and caused by humans, and joined other scientists in urging action to stop it.

... "The attacks on climate science have been a colossal distraction from the debate we should be having Congress on what actions should be taken to reduce pollution, create jobs, reclaim our lead in the clean energy race."

... Democrat Henry Waxman, said the Republican-controlled Congress had voted 21 times to block actions that would have addressed climate change.

"History will look back on this science denial with profound regret," Waxman said.

S - It may be one thing for the Waxman's of the world to say the accept AGW. That's not the real issue IMHO. As evidence amounts I can easily envision former deniers flipping sides but explain that there's little they can do to change the future without doing significant economic harm to the economy. In fact, I can see many of them using PO and AGW as their whipping boys to explain failed past policies. Basically: "Oh woe is me and what we're doing to the planet. But we must get folks back to work and keep the economy growing. So yes, we must burn even more coal. But we'll do it "cleaner" than ever."

Very few politician will get re-elected by promising to end AGW IMHO. As was said by my cousin James Carville (another fine product of S. La. beside the Rockman) said long ago: "It's the economy, stupid". And all the more so if unemployment climbs into the double digits.

"Very few politician will get re-elected by promising to end AGW IMHO."

Why Rockman, it seems like you're saying democracy is incapable of dealing with this issue? Or any other issue that hints at tinkering with BAU and asks for some sacrifice from the hoi polloi?

Turkey cancels oil search plans in Syria

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced that Turkey had shelved plans for Turkey's petroleum company, TPAO, to jointly explore oil with Syria's state oil company in six wells within Syria. Yildiz also threatened that Turkey could review supplies of electricity to the troubled country if tensions continue.

"Right now, we are providing electricity (to Syria)," Yildiz said. "If (Syria) continues on this course, then we might have to reconsider these decisions."

Anadarko oil wells in Colorado yield big results

Spurred by depressed natural gas price, North American energy companies are spending more to develop more profitable shale basins that contain crude oil and natural gas with a high liquids content.

Based on drilling results, Anadarko estimates its properties in the Niobrara and Codell formations in the Wattenberg Field have resource potential of 500 million to 1.5 billion barrels oil equivalent, the Houston company said in a news release.

Anadarko is producing from 11 Wattenberg wells, with each one having high initial production and high liquids output, it said. The estimates ultimate recovery for each well is 300,000 to 600,000 barrels oil equivalent.

IAA says 'Yes We Can' to power plants in orbit

Scientists from around the world have completed a study that says harvesting the sun's energy in space can turn out to be a cost effective way of delivering the world’s needs for power in as little as 30 years. As important, the report says that orbiting power plants capable of collecting energy from the sun and beaming it to earth are technically feasible within a decade or so based on technologies now in the laboratory.

Report: Enabling New Green Systems & Energy (pg 35)

They're giving 'rocket scientist' a bad name

This report is so tepid that it is useless. There is nothing new in it. Statements like in 20 years we will have the technology. Well, get back to us in say 20 years.

On the other hand, it looks like SpaceX will provide 200$/Kg to orbit in less than 10 years.

There's also a report with much more detail on Space Based Solar Power from the IAA. HERE's the LINK (warning, 249 page PDF). The authors mention Hubbert and Peak Oil, as well as climate change, as reasons for development of SBSP. The report is part of a larger study of overall space policy...

E. Swanson

Sensible use of biomass: A chemical industry based on renew

In an essay presented in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Esben Taarning and co-workers from the catalyst company Haldor Topsoe and the Lindoe Offshore Renewables Center (Denmark) describe how a sensible transition from petrochemicals to a chemical industry based on biomass might look.

Beyond Petrochemicals: The Renewable Chemicals Industry

New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries

A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries -- rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods -- that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.

"We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery's charge life by 10 times," said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper. "Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today."

Keeping Up With the Kandidates

That was Jon Stewart's response to Rick Perry's brain freeze. He said it twice, maniacally. "Are you not entertained?" Stewart's right about what's happening. America is on track for the most amusing apocalypse ever. Things may be going to hell, but the campaign narrative unfolding in real time couldn't be any more fun. It's all entertainment, just grist for the media mill, and apparently there's no bummer bad enough to shock us back to our senses.

Last week, for example, the International Energy Agency warned that the world is just a handful of years away from irreversible climate change. But with the Republican presidential field and GOP congressional leadership calling climate change a hoax, and with the energy industry pouring billions into lobbying and ad campaigns, the only thing standing between us and our planet's catastrophic endgame is the delusion that it's all just an episode of America's Got Tsuris.

We have finally arrived at the point that political campaigns are actually bad for America. The more we watch, the less we know. The more they spend, the less we notice. If you were to set out to design the process most likely to trivialize the toughest problems we face and least likely to build coalitions to solve them, you'd end up with pretty much what we have now. What's on our country's plate is really scary stuff, but we're behaving as though this were Survivor, not survival.

Is Global Warming an Election Issue After All?

Bill Mckibben on The Colbert Report speaking about the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

Colbert: We've solved the global warming crisis...So how did we do it? Alternative energy, carbon sequestering? No. The best answer is always the simplest. We stopped caring.


Colbert: You're from Vermont. Did you ride you bicycle down here? Do you have an oxcart? Or do you have a vehicle powered by hypocrisy?

Forget fusion, let's power things by way of hypocrisy. If such was the case our energy problems would be over. If we could somehow harness hypocrisy and greed, wow, we'd be off to the races!

This brought to mind a vision of men in suits on treadmills chasing $100 bills being held up just out of reach (by other men in suits...)

We don't have any actual dollars - we could just rig up a screen that shows a number that increases the farther they run. Infinite growth!

Whatever happened to the Improbability Drive?

It's being used to power action against climate change. :-)

It isn't the future - Dilithium crystals are.

In a Gallup poll released today, Americans chose dilithium crystals as the “most likely” fuel to run future cars and power plants, with 84% of Americans choosing the crystals over other options including nuclear, hydrogen, corn ethanol, shale gas, and photovoltaic solar panels.

"We have finally arrived at the point that political campaigns are actually bad for America."

Reminds me of Dmitry Orlov's old slide show:

Slide 21 -
Pay no attention to national politicians - it only encourages them.

They are a colossal distraction.

Stay focused.

What's on our country's plate is really scary stuff, but we're behaving as though this were Survivor, not survival.

It is really scary stuff. Herman Cain doesn't even know what happened in Libya. Gingrich is selling himself as a prez candidate via a book tour, but is now at the top of the polls. Romney has flip-flopped himself into the record books with more flip-flops than any other politican in history. Perry fumbles more than a butter handed running back. Michelle Bachmann in single digits in polls declares water-boarding is the answer. Ron Paul wants every single person in America to live a cloistered life.

One of these individuals will face off against Obama, who solves every situation by splitting the razor thin edge of compromise between the right and left, regardless what he really thinks is correct.

You either pick Daffy Duck or Mr. Razor thin edge, while global warming and peak oil march on relentlessly to crescendos of one form or another.

Efforts to restore oil production in Libya are progressing faster than anticipated

Looking ahead to 2012, the IEA has also revised its forecasts for Libya, which were last made back in June. Production capacity is now assumed to average:

•800 kb/d in the first quarter;
•930 kb/ d in the second quarter;
•1.07 mb/ d in the third quarter; and
•1.17 mb/ d in the fourth quarter.

Libya’s production in 2010, before the conflict started, was around 1.6 mb/d and exports were around 1.3 mb/d. These levels are not expected to return until 2013.

Coal Financing in Europe: The Banker's Dilemma

The European Union faces great challenges in balancing the demand for a secure and stable supply of electricity with commitments to deep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The future of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) is at the centre of these conflicts over energy security and climate change.

This report is the result of dialogue with leading private European banking institutions to map the landscape of their current policies on investment in coal-fired power plants (CFPPs). Drawing on this research and discussions from a workshop held at Chatham House in September 2011, this paper highlights key policy questions for banks and other financial institutions.

re. Stewart's article above: "Stuart Staniford: Size of the US underground economy"

The picture he paints sounds like "Dystopia for You and yours, the Singularity for Me and mine."

I am not implying he wants it that way, just that it appears that is how he sees it playing out. And it sounds reasonable. Some parts of the population will not make it through the bottle neck, so make plans for those that will - and make sure "yours" are among them.

A subconscious/implicit conspiracy, rather than an explicit conspiracy?

I don't think Stuart is expecting a dieoff, but he is expecting increasing inequality, and likely increased government control of our lives. I believe he used to think that a homestead in the country was the way to prepare for peak oil, but changed his mind and decided that being highly educated is the better strategy. His choice to specialize in computer security is not unrelated to his peak oil concerns. He's said that knowing a lot about farming is probably not going to be a good thing in the future.

Politics is driving fish stocks to collapse

Stocks of fish like cod and herring are likely to collapse within 40 years if European fisheries ministers continue to ignore scientific recommendations on how much fish should be caught each year, warn researchers.

"This decision-making process has led to the paradox of ministers protecting their national interests, while at the same time trying to allocate quotas among member states for mutual benefit and to achieve conservation goals," says O'Leary. "Ministers end up arguing about fishermen, not fish."

Two things...

What is the thought around here about OWS being shut down last night?

And, does anyone have an opinion about the organizing powers moving the ASPO conference to a location that would promote being noticed? Why DC? This would be another small fish in a big pond of meetings...as would a New York venue.

How about an oil centre like Houston?


Except that it's getting (supposed to get) cold out, I think the Oakland and NYC evictions are some of the best PR that OWS could ask for. Getting Shot at is a good shot in the arm, in this case.

I don't know what I think of the effectiveness of the protests overall.. but it seems to be an instinctive event, more a Natural Response to what's going on than a Contrived Statement. 'Nature Acts..' even with us Denatured, Argumentative humans.

IMHO, evicting protestors is an ineffective strategy at best. How do you prevent them from re-occuppying a site a hours, days or even weeks later? How do you prevent them from occupying a different site? Attempting to remove the protestors by force only makes municipal governments look like mini-tyrants. If sanitation is an issue, give them some porta-potties. If homeless crime and drug use is a problem, use undercover cops to arrest the offenders. Trying to remove them en masse from a given location is apt to turn into a giant game of whack-a-mole. Worse yet, actions by over zealous law enforcement officers are also apt to simply make the movement even stronger.

No less than three military veterans have been hospitalized in Oakland since the crackdown has begun. The police dodged a serious public relations nightmare after assaulting a former Army Ranger and then denying him medical care. If he had died, OWS would have had a true martyr to rally behind. I predict that if they continue to pursue this aggressive policy against protestors, it will only be a matter of time before a protestor is killed by the police.

Occupy Oakland: second Iraq war veteran injured after police clashes

Sabeghi, who left the army in 2007 and now part-owns a small bar-restaurant in El Cerrito, about 10 miles north of Oakland, said he was handcuffed and placed in a police van for three hours before being taken to jail. By the time he got there he was in "unbelievable pain".

He said: "My stomach was really hurting, and it got worse to the point where I couldn't stand up.

"I was on my hands and knees and crawled over the cell door to call for help."

A nurse was called and recommended Sabehgi take a suppository, but he said he "didn't want to take it".

He was allowed to "crawl" to another cell to use the toilet, but said it was clogged.

"I was vomiting and had diarrhoea(sic)," Sabehgi said. "I just lay there in pain for hours."

Sabehgi's bail was posted in the mid-afternoon, but he said he was unable to leave his cell because of the pain. The cell door was closed, and he remained on the floor until 6pm, when an ambulance was called.

He was taken to Highland hospital – the same hospital where Olsen was originally taken after being hit in the head by a projectile apparently fired by police.

Sabehgi was due to undergo surgery on Friday afternoon to repair his spleen, which would involve using a clot or patch to prevent internal bleeding.

ABC 7 news report on incident

This is BAU for the cops, usually nobody cares.

DoJ Military and Civil Law Enforcement Nonlethal Weapons and Equipment Review

Currently used DoD and U.S. Coast Guard nonlethal weapons and equipment are described in sections II and III.

Section IV includes representative descriptions of less-lethal devices used by the Chicago Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, Seattle SWAT team, and U.S. Marshals Service.

The product descriptions include photographs and information about manufacturers, costs, the services or law enforcement agencies that use each product, and each item’s operational capability or use.

also DoJ-DHS Law Enforcement Guidelines for First Amendment-Protected Events

IMF says Chinese banks face risks, urges quick action

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that China's financial system "faces a steady build up in vulnerabilities".

In a review, publicly released on Tuesday, the IMF said that banks were robust enough to withstand isolated shocks. But not, it said, combined exposure to credit, property and currency risks.

"While the existing structure fosters high savings and high levels of liquidity, it also creates the risk of capital misallocation and formation of bubbles, especially in real estate," said Mr Fiechter.

All around the real estate bush, the markets chased the bubbles. The markets thought twas all in fun. Pop, goes the bubbles.

A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle— That's the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel.

[Interchange weasels and marketeers you got the drift. IIRC, almost all the world's thread is now made in China.]

Another bubble in the making

Nebraska irrigated farmland value up 40 percent

Almost half of those surveyed in Nebraska expected farmland values would continue to climb.

Farmland prices never higher

For good-quality farmland, Shaffer said, bidding is intense.

“The average goes right out the window,” he said. “There’s enough people looking for land, they have cash. There’s an attitude, ‘If it’s next to me, I’m going to own it.’ ”

The recent sale of 60 acres in Linn County is the perfect example, Shaffer said. Five bidders fought over land with a corn suitability rating — a scale of 1 to 100 that determines the quality of land — of 62.

A farmer paid $7,000 per acre.

“When you see a below-average farm bring an above-average price, I would say it’s a good time to sell,” Shaffer said.

I wonder who's [really] buying.

Cuban oil project fuels US anxieties

A massive $750m (£473m) Chinese-built oil rig, the Scarabeo 9, is due to arrive in Cuba before the end of the year, to begin drilling a series of exploratory wells.

A whole range of international oil companies from Spain, Norway, Russia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Angola, Venezuela, and China - but not the US - are lining up to hire the rig and search for what are believed to be substantial oil deposits.

The Spanish company Repsol will be the first to drill, with an exploratory well in extremely deep water just 50 miles (80km) off the coast of Florida.

Cuba currently produces about 53,000 barrels of oil a day but still needs to import about 100,000 barrels, mainly from Venezuela. Estimates on just how much offshore oil Cuba is sitting on vary. A US Geological Survey estimate suggests 4.6bn barrels, the Cubans say 20bn.

Australian PM backs uranium sales to India

Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, says she favours overturning a ban on sales of uranium to India as a means of strengthening relations with one of the world's fastest growing economies.

"I believe the time has come for the Labour party to change this position. Selling uranium to India will be good for the Australian economy and good for jobs," Gillard told reporters on Tuesday.

Gillard's uranium backlash

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard's push to sell uranium to India has triggered a fight with her party's Left, attracted disquiet from Pakistan and infuriated Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who was not consulted about the change.

Tensions between Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd are likely to escalate after the snub, which was made worse by Mr Rudd being in India when she made the move.

Labor Left convener Stephen Jones, who was in Japan during the Fukushima crisis, said Japan had amply demonstrated the nuclear industry's risks. ''There's no such thing as a fail-safe nuclear reactor,'' he said.

Erratic, extreme day-to-day weather puts climate change in new light

The first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions has found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet.

The impact of these fluctuations on natural and manmade systems could be as substantial as the fallout predicted from rises in the Earth's average temperature, Medvigy said. Inconsistent sunshine could impair the effectiveness of solar-energy production and — with fluctuating rainfall also included — harm agriculture, he said. Wetter, hotter conditions also breed disease and parasites such as mosquitoes, particularly in tropical areas, he said.

This is what makes such nonsense of statements such as this one: THE RISKS NOW faced by humanity are increasingly ones of our own making—and ones over which we have only partial, tentative, and temporary control. Various kinds of liberation—from hard agricultural labor and high infant mortality rates to tuberculosis and oppressive traditional values—bring all kinds of new problems, from global warming and obesity to alienation and depression. These new problems will largely be better than the old ones, in the way that obesity is a better problem than hunger, and living in a hotter world is a better problem than living in one without electricity. But they are serious problems nonetheless. (Schellenberger and Nordhaus playing the technosalvific, if not so cornucopian, card in Orion Magazine)

Given that a destabilised climate may impair our ability to grow food -- food, that stuff that we absolutely cannot live without -- I cannot understand how this can be compared to the inconvenience of living without electricity -- something we lived without for millennia...

Marines test new energy-efficient weapon in the war on trash

In partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii, are testing a high-tech trash disposal system that can reduce a standard 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of harmless ash.

The energy-efficient and clean-burning properties of Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) make it attractive to expeditionary units. It has a low carbon footprint, and emissions are not visible, which is a tactical plus. Waste heat can also be used for practical purposes, such as heating living quarters or water.

"What we are doing for FOBs can be applied to schools, hospitals or an office building," Murakami said. "We are talking about disposing our waste in a different manner, rather than just sending it to the landfill."

Students: Harbingers of the Exburb Apocalypse

...realtors have found a solution to address both the shortage of on-campus housing at the local state university and the abundance of luxurious McMansions sitting vacant and in foreclosure. You guessed it: The college kids are moving into the oversized homes...

Probably not exactly what was had in mind when Kunstler suggested they would end up the dumping ground for the poor with no other alternative, but similar if you happen to be a family have a house of students turn up next door.

It does make me wonder though.

If the fall from a driving culture to a non-driving culture is going to be as swift as it looks - maybe there is a model for those who don't have to move close to their work to build something new in the rejected exburbs. Buy up cheap exburb cul-de-sacs and focus on turning them into self-sufficient enclaves. Build quality maybe poor, but there is scope to do some interesting things in comfort. Think how artists and entrepreneurs moved into derelict warehouses in the city in earlier decades.

Analysis: SEC targets low-level bankers, spares top execs

The U.S. government is not taking advantage of an enforcement tool that could potentially hold top Wall Street figures accountable for their role in the recent financial crisis, despite its prior success.

Broker-dealers, investment advisers, and others regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission are required to supervise their representatives. If a trader engages in misconduct, the SEC can sue the management with "failure to supervise."

Such sanctions could be more difficult today, when companies often demand implicit agreement from the SEC to leave senior management alone in exchange for settling.

[so] in some of the biggest cases the SEC has brought in recent months -- against units of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup -- the agency has sued only low-level bankers.

Chevron Brazil says it will seal errant oil well

RIO DE JANEIRO — US energy giant Chevron said Tuesday it would seal and abandon an errant oil well which for the past week has seeped oil into waters off Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state.

The well, which is leaking crude at the rate of some 400 barrels per day, is located about 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) underwater.

The company said on Monday that the mishap at its Frade project some 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Rio De Janeiro has created a widening oil slick, prompting the cessation of drilling activities.

It added that 17 vessels were working on a rotational basis to deploy containment booms and undertake skimming and washing techniques aimed at controlling a sheen that has slickened the ocean surface.

Brazil, Chevron to investigate spill near Frade



Upper Midwest Diesel Supply Shortage Continues

Today the wholesale price of USLD (diesel) in the upper Midwest was about 20 cents/gallon higher than the current month futures price. Midwest distillate markets have been strong in reaction to high demand from northern tier states shale oil development, regional refinery maintenance, the end of the autumn crop harvest season and pipeline line fill requirements.


Posted: Nov 14, 2011

Diesel Fuel Shortage Plagues Upper Midwest
Recent supply shortages are being described as the worst since the 1970s.

LINCOLN, Neb. – A diesel fuel shortage in the upper Midwest is “the worst shortage” folks in the fuel industry can remember, reports the JournalStar.com.

The diesel fuel shortage particularly is bad in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area, where one of the two terminals south of Lincoln has not had supply for at least a month, Garner told the news source, noting that on Wednesday last week, neither terminal had diesel.

“We have recently encountered extremely high demand for diesel fuel at our terminals in the northern tier of our system, which is related to the seasonal agricultural harvest, increased regional production of oil and natural gas, and product outages at other petroleum distribution facilities in the region not owned and operated by Magellan," Bruce Heine, a spokesman for Magellan Midstream Partners, told the news source.

Low distillate supplies are confirmed by tonight's API report:

Oil Supplies Unexpectedly Climb in API Report - Crude Futures Steady Above $99 in After-Hours

Posted 11/15/2011 4:52 PM by MidnightTrader.com

Crude oil supplies unexpectedly climbed by 1.3 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 11, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday, according to news reports.

Gasoline inventories dropped by 2.9 million barrels and distillate inventories declined by 2.6 million barrels, the trade group said.



Thanks for your comments. I've noticed this trend of late that even when oil supplies increase on the weekly inventory reports, total products (crude, gas and distillates) seem to show a net decline. Looking at total products seems a better well to "smooth out the noise" of weekly counts. That said, would we typically be accumulating inventory of products this time of year or are the declines quite normal?

Usually there is some accumulation of oil products at this time of year, especially for heating oil in advance of winter. Also due to a fall in seasonal demand, gasoline stocks usually improve.

As far as diesel goes - Due to both an increase in internal demand, ironically driven by the development of oil and gas shale, and a significant increase in external export demand, diesel supplies are falling rapidly by historical standards.

It's doubtful that the US can make it through the winter without some policy change. The most likely change: releasing more oil from the SPR to aid refiners. Less likely: the US will resort to some sort of supply or price controls, or export controls.

Tonite I noticed (here in SW WI) that diesel was up to $4.16...highest I ever remember it being.


Blaine McLeod, chair of the Saskatchewan Milk Marketing Board, said milk delivery truck drivers are carrying several different fuel company cards and driving from station to station to find enough diesel fill up.

“There was a milk delivery truck in northeast Saskatchewan and diesel had to be hauled (five hours) from Regina out to him. There was no diesel in the area,” he said.

McLeod, who also operates a dairy farm near Caronport, admitted the shortage of diesel caught him by surprise. “I phoned for normal delivery of diesel for my farm and was told I would have to wait a week. I drained diesel out of my grain truck and other equipment to get by. I have never done that in years past. It is just extra work that you don’t need,” McLeod said.

... Meanwhile, an increase in the theft of diesel is being reported by police.

RCMP in Cut Knife are investigating multiple thefts of diesel in the RM of Manitou Lake. From Nov. 7 to 10, more than over 1,000 litres of diesel were taken from oil drilling rigs and other equipment. The suspects drove into the lot and proceeded to steal diesel from the tanks of the oil rigs, RCMP reported Monday.

My Favorite Solar/Martian EV is still rolling along, now at crater Endeavour..

"We have a very senior rover in good health for having already worked 30 times longer than planned," said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "However, at any time, we could lose a critical component on an essential rover system, and the mission would be over. Or, we might still be using this rover's capabilities beneficially for years. There are miles of exciting geology to explore at Endeavour crater."

Opportunity and Spirit started rolling across Mars in April, 2004. The new Rover going up will have a Plutonium fuel-supply, expected to give it 2 Earth years, and that's it..