Drumbeat: November 19, 2011

Increase in Kuwait's oil output timely

News reports suggesting Kuwait's oil capacity reaching a sustainable 3 million barrels per day (bpd) is timely for a country engulfed in political turmoil. The reference is to the storming of the national assembly by tens of angry Kuwaitis demanding the removal of the country's premier. The allegation is the government payment of bribes for some MPs in return for favours.

Kuwait increased oil output to 3.05m barrels a day last week

Kuwait pumped 3.05 million barrels a day of oil last week, Kuwaiti industry sources said, its highest output this year, and evidence that Gulf countries continue to strive to push world oil prices below $100 a barrel.

Gulf Arab Opec producers Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been trying to compensate for the loss of Libyan supplies and to prevent high fuel prices dragging on weak world economic growth.

Pemex to Drill 175 Shale-Gas Wells in 4 Years, Morales Says

Petroleos Mexicanos plans to drill 175 shale-gas wells in the next two to four years, said Carlos Morales, the head of exploration and production of the company, at an event in Mexico City.

Fracking and Quaking: They're Linked

Many geologists in the oil patch have warmed about the hazards of induced seismicity for decades.

In 1995, Jack Century, now a retired Amoco employee, recommended that the industry "educate the public about those fields where induced seismicity has already been accepted as scientifically proven."

USDA's Forest Service Withdraws Ohio Public Lands from O&G Lease Sale

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has withdrawn over 3,000 acres of public lands in Ohio from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Dec. 7 oil and gas lease sale.

Wayne National Forest Supervisor Anne Carey on Nov. 15 said the lands were being withdrawn so that the Forest Service could study the potential impact that shale gas exploration, particularly deep horizontal drilling, would have on these lands.

Aden: No Crude Oil Left

An official from Aden Oil refinery in south Yemen announced today to the press that management had to halt all activities given the lack of needed raw materials required for its production.

Production stopped entirely on Saturday, following an attack in Marib on the country's oil pipelines.

Sudan Faces Fuel Dilemma

Oil Companies operating in South Sudan's Unity State face shortage of fuel for operation. This was contained in a statement to the media made on 15th November instant by the governor of Unity State, Taban Deng Gai who revealed his worries that the oil producing land-locked country could be under difficulty in executing developmental programmes due to lack of fuel.

No serious OPEC quota talks seen until June

LONDON/RIYADH (MarketWatch) -- Less than a month before OPEC meets formally, the organization once again is riven over production increases implemented by Saudi Arabia and its allies outside the group's formal quota system.

Yet while the bickering will no doubt continue through the Dec. 14 meeting in Vienna, few expect a serious discussion of the organization's official quota system. Rather, some key OPEC figures are beginning to center on the June meeting as the next time OPEC will take out its sketchpad and debate whether output allocations need to change.

Iraq sees Exxon's interest in south larger than Kurd deal

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq believes Exxon Mobil has less interest in pursuing a disputed oil deal in the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region because it has much larger contract in southern Iraq, its oil minister said on Saturday.

Saudi Aramco wants to build crude oil refinery in BD

Oil-rich Saudi Arabian Oil Company -- Saudi Aramco, has shown interest in building a crude oil refinery plant in Bangladesh at a cost of around US$ 2.5 billion, a top government official said Saturday.

Alberta truckers frustrated with diesel shortage

The shortage of diesel in Alberta is taking a toll on companies that use heavy equipment.

For the past two weeks, companies such as Whitecourt Transport Inc. located northwest of Edmonton have been scrambling to find enough fuel to keep vehicles running.

Ivory Coast Calls For End to Drilling in Disputed Waters

The government of Ivory Coast has called for unauthorized drilling for crude oil to stop in waters disputed with neighboring Ghana, a ministry official said Friday.

Chevron says pressure error led to Brazil leak: report

(Reuters) - A miscalculation of the pressure in Chevron's offshore Frade project led to an oil spill off Brazil's coast last week, a local newspaper said on Saturday, citing the president of Chevron Brasil.

The leak occurred because there was a mistake in the injection of heavy mud in the reservoir to prevent the return of oil through the pipe, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper said.

Brazil official: Chevron unprepared for leak

SAO PAULO—U.S.-based Chevron Corp. was not prepared for the offshore oil leak at one of its wells, the head of environmental affairs for Brazil's federal police said Saturday

Fabio Scliar said Chevron personnel at the well told his investigators that they were "completely unprepared to handle an emergency such as this." He spoke to The Associated Press by telephone.

Technology will change our energy future unless Washington stops it

In Yergin’s words, this surge in Western Hemisphere production occurred “not as a part of some grand design or a major policy effort, but almost accidently.” Implicit in Yergin’s writings are two assumptions central to minimizing our energy vulnerability: first, that oil-and-gas exploration will increase in response to high price incentives and confidence in future demand; and second, that policymakers will allow energy companies to access the oil-and-gas resources that technological innovations have made available.

Matt Ridley: How Fossil Fuels Helped End Slavery

This excerpt from Matt Ridley’s brilliant 2010 book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves explains how non-renewable, finite energy sources paradoxically made economic growth sustainable. With inanimate objects doing the work instead of slaves, we can, as he says, all “live the life of a Sun King.”

Richard Heinberg: What we are for

Energy is arguably the most decisive factor in both ecosystems and human economies. It is the fulcrum of history, the enabler of all that we do. Yet few people have more than the sketchiest understanding of how energy makes the world go ’round.

Basic energy literacy consists of a familiarity with the laws of thermodynamics, and with the concepts of energy density and energy returned on energy invested (EROEI). It requires a familiarity with the costs and benefits of our various energy sources—including oil, coal, gas, nuclear, wind, and solar. It also implies numeracy—the ability to meaningfully compare numbers referring to quantities of energy and rates of use, so as to be able to evaluate matters of scale.

Peak oil and significant change for rural Australia

The peaking of world oil supply will have significant economic and social impacts for rural Australia. This paper looks at the peaking of world supply, the role of energy in our global industrial society and its use in agriculture. It further looks at replacement fuels and how we will be unable to sufficiently replace conventional oil in its role as a transport fuel or in our society as a key driver of our industrial economy.

It then considers Australia's awareness, planning and policy responses and argues that this represents a critical risk management failure. It concludes by looking briefly at what this may mean for rural Australia and options for response that could build an economically and ecologically sustainable future for rural society.

John Michael Greer: Aristotle's Secret

Those of my readers who have looked on from a distance as a large car wreck took place have some idea of my state of mind over the last week. Each of the three high-stakes poker games I mentioned in last week’s post—the European financial mess, the evolution (or devolution) of Occupy Wall Street, and the seismic shifts in world politics driven by the rise of China—have continued along trajectories that are pretty much guaranteed to end messily.

Peak Oil - assessing the economic impact on global oil supply

Addressing the peak oil debate has never been more essential. As the economic downturn bites, what affect will this have on production and the uptake of unconventionals. Have we reached the end of cheap oil and if so what effect will this have? This popular one-day conference will shed light on the topic through expert presentations and debate giving delegates the information needed to effectively plan their future operations.

Helium to Move from Byproduct to Primary Drilling Target

Helium is likely to move from a derived product of natural gas production in the United States to a primary drilling target in the next five years. Historically produced as a byproduct of natural gas, the US helium supply is declining, which has caused alarm throughout the industry.

U.S. Coal Exports are Surging and Wyoming Coal is Being Shipped to Asia

No issues are simple when one considers all aspects. Here in this case, as usual, the only answer seems to be becoming smaller users or consumers of electricity while increasing energy efficiency if we want to make any real progress.

The Electric Car Paradox: Can We Switch To Electric Cars ?

The simple answer is no - and the complicated answer is also no.

Jeremy Leggett urges India to claim full nuclear liability from suppliers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: "India should make the Nuclear Suppliers' Group face the full liability costs in case of an eventuality," says Jeremy Leggett, an international climate campaigner and Greenpeace UK's chief scientist and author of 'Half Gone oil, gas, hot air and the global energy crisis'.

2011 U.S. Ethanol Exports Set to More than Double Over Last Year

By my estimates, more than 7% of this year's U.S. ethanol production will be exported.

Kunstler podcasts now available in book form

TROY -- A podcast featuring suburban sprawl critic James Howard Kunstler is now available as a book.

"The KunstlerCast: Conversations With James Howard Kunstler" is essentially a transcript of some of the more interesting podcasts between Kunstler, who lives in Saratoga Springs, and Troy resident Duncan Crary, a co-host of the show who is credited as the book's author.

Carl Pope: New Horizons and Broader Visions

"Why? You've been happy with the Club for 38 years -- why move on now?"

My simple answer is that the most important insight we environmentalists need if we really want to respond to the climate crisis, the collapse of biodiversity, and the impending arrival not just of "peak oil" but of "peak stuff," is to recognize that we cannot solve these problems on our own. There are not enough environmentalists to save the environment. There are not enough workers-rights advocates to protect workers. American manufacturing companies cannot compete, on their own, with China's. America must build much bigger coalitions with much broader visions if we want to lead the 21st century.

The first project I'm undertaking could well be called "Made in America." Its premise is that the climate crisis, the implosion of the American economy, our continued dependence on coal and oil, and the erosion of the American middle class have a common remedy -- using innovation and sustainability, in combination with smart public policy, to restore the preeminence of the United States in manufacturing.

Oil Declines in New York on Speculation Pipeline Reversal Won’t End Glut

Oil in New York declined, widening its discount to Brent crude, on speculation that the reversal of the Seaway pipeline won’t be enough to eliminate a glut in the U.S. Midwest.

...“People realized that they overreacted when the Seaway pipeline news was announced,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest in Chicago. “One pipeline isn’t enough to alleviate the glut and the reversal isn’t necessarily a bullish event.”

Saudi Arabia to overtake Russia as biggest oil producer by 2015

Russia would be beaten by Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude oil producer by 2015, according to a report published by International Energy Agency (IEA). The agency suggested it is the result of the output at new Russian fields that failed to compensate rapidly declining mature deposits.

IEA mentioned in its World Energy Outlook that Russia would now concentrate on supplying natural gas to China and transforming itself into a major source of the fuel rather than gas export monopoly. Russia took over Saudi Arabia’s production of oil during the economic crisis in 2009 when OPEC’s crude output declined.

North America back in saddle as black gold superpower

The real price of oil has been a mystery for the past two years. In Europe, the benchmark Brent crude climbed while North America’s benchmark, West Texas intermediate, went in the opposite direction. The result was a mismatch between the two that bore no relation to economic reality.

China's refined oil products output remains flat in October

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China produced 20.53 million metric tons of refined oil products in October, marking the same amount as a year earlier, according to the country's top economic planner.

Meanwhile, the apparent consumption of refined oil products rose 3.4 percent year-on-year to 21.24 million metric tons during the period, according to a report posted on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Levant gas finds add to volatility

Rich in history and culture, the Levant has so far been exempt from the vast hydrocarbon wealth that defines the Middle East in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Bordering countries with huge reserves of oil and gas, the states on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean have long relied on imports to supply their fossil-fuel-based power sector.

Things are about to change. Between 2009 and last year, a string of discoveries were made in the Levant Basin: the Dalit, Tamar and the Leviathan gas reservoirs. The Leviathan reservoir is estimated to hold 16 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, making it the biggest offshore gas discovery of the past decade.

Hijackers take two boats, hostages, off Nigeria - sources

(Reuters) - Gunmen boarded two fishing vessels just off the coast of Nigeria and took two people hostage, security sources said on Saturday, the latest in a series of hijackings in the waters around Africa's largest oil business.

Takreer set to expand, export and go green

The Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company will back the country's petrochemicals industry and the development of cleaner diesel fuel.

Baker Hughes Chasing Shale Oil

Baker Hughes Inc. is looking at deals as it tries to extract bigger profits from the boom in U.S. shale-oil exploration. That may put Key Energy Services Inc. and Lufkin Industries Inc. on its wish list.

Bulgaria, Turkey to sign gas link deal, open to Caspian

(Reuters) - Bulgaria and Turkey will sign a political accord to back the construction of a pipeline aimed to link the gas systems of the two neighbours and allow Caspian natural gas flows to Europe, Bulgarian energy minister said on Saturday.

Exxon Mobil: Gas, coal to stay as region’s main energy sources

KUALA LUMPUR: Natural gas and coal will continue to be the main energy sources in South-East Asia, said Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Senior energy advisor, corporate strategic planning department, David S. Reed said Malaysia would continue to see rising demand for electricity driven by the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, mainly for air conditioning.

Turkey threatens to cut electricity as Syria is more isolated

Istanbul (CNN) -- Turkey threatened to cut off supplies of electricity to its neighbor Syria Tuesday, as the Damascus regime found itself under growing pressure from Arab, Turkish, European and North American governments for its ongoing lethal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

"We are supplying them (Syria) with electricity at the moment. If they stay on this course, we may be forced to re-examine all of these decisions," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Tuesday, according to Turkey's semi-official Anatolian Agency.

Qaddafi’s Son Seif al-Islam, Said to Be Captured in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya’s transitional government said Saturday that its fighters in the western desert had captured Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the last fugitive son and one-time heir apparent of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Putin urges Rosneft to net hockey team

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday he had encouraged Russia's biggest oil firm Rosneft to take over the country's legendary ice hockey club CSKA, in a move likely to please sports fans ahead of the election, reports said.

Shifting Energy Landscapes

Q: Are we running out of oil? Should we be more concerned about the future of world energy supplies?

Basically, the peak oil argument is that half of the world’s oil has been consumed and we are on this downward slope, and great crises are going to ensue. I think that the peak oil view played an important role actually in the price run up in 2007 and 2008, because beliefs matter in market and it was strong and very reinforcing. In our view, 20 percent of oil has been produced based on what we know today and technology has opened up new horizons. Right now, one of the hottest things in the United States is shale oil. US oil production is up 10 percent since 2008.

Bondholders doubt the 'all is well' story

Over in the energy market, oil has been the strongest of the lot. Earlier in the week, NYMEX crude was trading above $100 per barrel, however, over the past couple of trading sessions, it has fallen sharply. You may recall that during the last recession, the broad stock and commodity markets peaked in October 2007, whereas oil continued to rally until mid-2008. During this business cycle, crude oil has demonstrated the same resilience and this is largely due to the prevailing supply and demand imbalances underpinning this commodity. Peak Oil notwithstanding, if the global economy slips into another recession, the oil price will probably deflate. Thus, this rally may be a good time to exit the sector.

Brazil Officials Criticize Chevron Over Oil Spill

RIO DE JANEIRO — Chevron came under intense scrutiny in Brazil on Friday over an oil spill at an offshore field the company operates, with federal investigators here threatening fines for Chevron and potential prison terms for its officials if they are found guilty of violating environmental contamination laws.

Analysis: Energy Secretary Chu likely to survive Solyndra

(Reuters) - Energy Secretary Steven Chu is taking the heat for government decisions on Solyndra, but he is unlikely to take the fall for taxpayer losses on a $535 million loan guarantee to the failed solar company.

EU Plans Probe of U.S. Bioethanol Imports, Threatening Taxes

The European Union plans to threaten to tack tariffs onto U.S. bioethanol imports over concerns that American producers may be using trade-distorting government aid to sell in Europe below cost, an internal EU document shows.

Brazil May Cut Taxes to Ethanol Producers, Estado Reports

The measures may be taken to boost ethanol supplies and prevent price increases, the Sao Paulo-based newspaper said.

Lego, Deutsche Bank, Motorola Pledging to Obtain 25% Wind Power

Deutsche Bank AG, Lego A/S and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. are among 15 companies from 15 industries are getting at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind, or have pledged to do so.

They are the first companies certified to use the WindMade label, according to a statement today from WindMade ASBL, the Brussels-based organization that oversees the consumer brand.

Zonline Netherlands Rooftop Solar Model Emulates U.S. Leases

Zonline BV, a Dutch solar energy company, is offering rooftop power systems to consumers using a fixed-rate pricing model similar to the solar leases provided by a minority stakeholder, Sungevity Inc.

Dutch homeowners will agree to pay for 20 years a fixed rate for electricity generated by panels that the Amsterdam- based company installs for free, Chief Executive Officer Roebyem Anders said yesterday in an interview.

EFFICIENCY: The Energy Question

Energy efficiency gains paradoxically result in increases in energy use (the modern day equivalent of the Jevons paradox). In the absence of efficiency gains, energy use will grow by the same quantum as economic growth ratios (energy intensity remains constant) when energy prices are fixed. Energy efficiency gains can increase energy consumption by two means: by making energy appear effectively cheaper than other inputs; and by increasing economic growth, which boosts energy use.

After a Horrific Crash, a Stark Depiction of Injustice in China

As China sped toward its new status as the world’s second largest economy, the already yawning gap between the rich and poor grew wider. By sociologists’ calculations, income inequality here is not that far from levels that have spurred social unrest in other nations.

But some things are not easily reduced to statistics. There is an argument, buttressed by the Gansu tragedy, that what truly eats at people here is not so much the rich-poor gap as the canyon that separates the powerful from the powerless.

Great Plains water pumping imperils fish

CORVALLIS, Ore. (UPI) -- Great Plains river basins are threatened by pumping of groundwater from aquifers, risking a bleak future for native fish in many streams, U.S. researchers say.

Unlike alluvial aquifers, which can be replenished with rain and snow, these regional aquifers were created by melting glaciers during the last Ice Age, the researchers say, and when that water is gone, it's gone for good.

Amid dire warming warnings, Canada is MIA

At Durban, once again, Canada will be excluded from any serious deliberations. Canada is widely considered a climate-change miscreant. Nobody who knows the climate-change file in Canada or abroad believes the federal government’s intention to reduce emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

New York as Venice, Minus the Romance

Imagine one of those showplaces in East Hampton with inches of tide water pulsing across its marbled floors.

Low-lying coastal communities on Long Island and New York City “could find themselves repeatedly under water at high tide,” the report says. Imagine paddling through the streets of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge section.

In addition to yesterday’s story regarding the latest IPCC release on extreme weather events in the WaPo, there was a similar report in the NYT:

U.N. Panel Finds Climate Change Behind Some Extreme Weather Events

Andy Revkin also posted more information on his blog, Dot Earth

It seems that only the Executive Summary is available for public viewing. The full report won’t be out until early next year...

E. Swanson

Joe Romm had a couple of good posts on it. He says the IPCC undersells the weird weather/climate change connection because of it does things:

Blockbuster IPCC Chart Hints at Dust-Bowlification, But Report Is Mostly Silent on Warming’s Gravest Threat to Humanity


IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing Nothing

From the first post:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is coming out Friday with its umpteenth watered down report on climate science, in this case on extreme weather. The thing to remember about IPCC reports is that pretty much everyone involved has to sign off on every word, so it is inevitably a least common denominator document.

Climate Change Effect on Release of CO2 from Peat Far Greater Than Assumed

Climate change effect on release of CO2 from peat far greater than assumed Drought causes peat to release far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than has previously been realised

Architect of Reactor 3 warns of massive hydrovolcanic explosion

Architect of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 3, Uehara Haruo, the former president of Saga University had an interview on 11/17/2011.

In this interview, he admitted Tepco’s explanation does not make sense, and that the China syndrome is inevitable.

He stated that considering 8 months have passed since 311 without any improvement, it is inevitable that melted fuel went out of the container vessel and sank underground, which is called China syndrome.

He added, if fuel has reaches a underground water vein, it will cause contamination of underground water, soil contamination and sea contamination. Moreover, if the underground water vein keeps being heated for long time, a massive hydrovolcanic explosion will be caused.

Anyone know where a better translation exists? That story is a bit suspect (Architect? It was a US designed reactor.)

BTW, do we really not have images from inside the containment? Too radioactive in there even for robots? By my understanding, this reactor model has control rods that are pushed up from the bottom, so there is a bottom area below the reactor vessel . . . I wonder what things are like there? Has fuel slag burned through?

Reactors 1 and 2 were standard GE designs. Reactor 3 was a Toshiba design based on the GE model.

Meanwhile NHK reporter experienced "several thousand microsieverts per hour" on the bus tour in reactor 3/4 area. Lowest reading at edge of plant was 50 microsieverts per hour. See http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/movie/feature201111172000.html at 4 mins in.

Previous highest reported value was 1000 microsieverts per hour on the bus. I though that was a suspiciously round number but NHK goes higher with "several thousand". The bus then accelerates out of the area.

Thanks for that.
I wonder if this quote found there is from anyone here on The Oil Drum (my bolding)...

CaptD says:
November 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The 3 Molten Coriums are 'turning themselves On and Off' (what some refer to as subcritical fissions) and these UNCONTROLLED interactions are creating the short lived radionuclies that are being measured AFTER TEPCO has declared the Complex “In cold shutdown”? If this process generates massive heat spikes, then perhaps it is what I’ve been calling The Fuky Effect, (the periodic spikes observed in the reactor temperatures… See Corium “Flows” Picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corium_(nuclear_reactor) I believe that what is happening in Japan is ONGOING, not a brief event like Chernobyl.

This Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster is still on going and as one of the 'Japanese Irregulars' that have been following this since 3/11 and blogging on HuffingtonPost about it, I’d like to share:

1. That not only is this multi-reactor meltdown still spewing radioactivity into the air and Pacific Ocean off the reactor complex but the current estimates are that any resolution (cleanup is too benign a word) will take DECADES!

2. TEPCO & the US Nuclear Industry are trying to say that this entire Debacle is due to the big Tsunami and NOT the Quake, because if the quake is the real initiator (and many believe the data points in that direction), then that puts all reactors at risk! Nature can destroy any reactor anytime anywhere 24/7/365, because Nature does not follow reactor design limitations! Case in point American reactors have a very low G rating (think shake rating) so they will fail if there is a big quake! The NRC knows this and you can read email about it here: It takes a while to load, but it is worth the wait! http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1117/ML11175A278.pdf

3. Please realize that they cannot just cover this complex up with concrete because the Molten Corium is just too hot (no pun intended)! This melted super radioactive 'Stew' has already melted through one or more reactor pressure vessels (most observers think 3 reactors) and is at the moment working it way through the cement containment structures (some even feel this has happened already) and is now heading through the 'landfill' below the complex toward the water table below! If that happens then the resulting radioactive steam release will be gigantic and its affects will be seen globally!

4. Ask yourselves how the USA would handle a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like the Japanese are struggling with now and then perhaps many will continue to question if Nuclear is indeed the best option for America or any other Country!

For more, consider searching Huffingtonpost for Japan Reactor or start here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/02/japan-radiation-reaches-l_n_9...
CaptD says:
November 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

1) Former Minister for Internal Affairs Haraguchi Kazuhiro has alleged that radiation monitoring station data was actually three decimal places greater than the numbers released to the public. If this is true, it constitute s a 'national crime', in Nishio’s words.

2)The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of TEPCO: The Dark Empire … who sounded the alarm about the firm in his 2007 book explains it this way: “If TEPCO and the government of Japan admit an earthquake can do direct damage to the reactor, this raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.”

3) Eyewitness testimony and TEPCO’S own data indicates that the damage [done to the plant by the quake] was significant. All of this despite the fact that shaking experience d at the plant during the quake was within it’s approved design specifications.

4) What the emails shows is a weak government , captured by a powerful industry colluding to at least misinform and very probably lie to the public and the media.
To argue that the radiation was being released deliberately and was “all part of the safety systems to control and manage a situation” is Orwellian.


This melted super radioactive 'Stew' has already melted through one or more reactor pressure vessels (most observers think 3 reactors) and is at the moment working it way through the cement containment structures (some even feel this has happened already) and is now heading through the 'landfill' below the complex toward the water table below!

I really wish we could get some solid data on whether such claims are true or not. We can't seem to get any solid answer on this and that could be because:
1) It is just too damn radioactive to get close enough with a human or robot to collect the needed information;
2) There is no physical place to get to where such a picture could be taken (no basement like in Chernobyl);
3) Denial & cover-up.

I seriously doubt the claims melting through the concrete. I don't think Corium can really do that since it is a mix of melted fuel and control rods. It has some periodic criticality but it is not a some full blown continuous reaction.

My guess from reading the tea leaves in Japan is that everything on this post is probably true. It fits with what one would expect to roll out from 4 (or 6) deteriorating nuke CVs and 5 over-filled fuel pools exposed to 2 sequential disasters in a row, followed by a sustained power outage. It certainly fits with my mental model for what would happen.


This is just another example of what happens when the level of embodied energy in a civilization deteriorates, whether it is a subtle change over 20 years due to a deteriorating economy, or a sudden change over 6 months due to a pulse at the larger scale such as as a geophysical pulse such as earthquake. In this case it was both.

The biggest question is what happens to Tokyo. Cities exist to concentrate materials and energy. That is why we like living in cities, as we benefit from this concentration in terms of culture. Cities take in energy, food, water, materials, and in Tokyo's case, even waste. The bigger the city, the larger the footprint. Tokyo is the largest metro area in the world. Tokyo takes in food, water, people, tsunami waste, and other products from the more radioactive areas. People then emit sewage and trash which gets incinerated or turned into cement which then builds up over time, since we are talking about long term isotopes due to the MOX fuel that do not go away no matter what we do (24,000 years for Pu-239 or even 713m years for U-235).

The field of modern ecology developed out of the science radioecology, where isotopes were traced through natural local environments such as coral reefs, river deltas, and rain forests. The same study was not extended into manmade systems. We are about to make that link and extend our understanding of natural systems into human systems. We will learn a lot about urban energetics and how energy and materials converge from their natural ecosystem base and then diverge from urban settings, with very little effort. Unfortunately.



"No one really knows the net yield of nuclear power because at present its use is subsidized by fossil fuels in a thousand ways that cannot be estimated until we try to run a nuclear system without them. Will nuclear power have a more concentrated value than the wood output of the solar system, or of coal, or of cheap oil from rich deposits? The new power plant seems to be more economical than the competing fossil plants as long as it is running on the accumulated storages of nuclear fuel and fuel prospecting done on fossil-fuel subsidy. Is nuclear power at this level of net power delivery possible in a culture that does not have the accompanying fossil fuels?" (Odum, 1971, p. 135)

Frackin’ the Bakken requires 33,000 wells according to this segment on Bakken drilling (starts at about 6:30 in):


“We've only just begun.” says Lynn Helms of the North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources:


I hope the project doesn't end up like Karen Carpenter.

To put the 33,000 new Bakken wells into perspective: at current costs it will take almost $200 billion for leases and drilling capex. Current rig count is around 80 - 90. Expand that to 120 rigs in the future (gonna take a lot of new rig construction to reach that) and an average of 4 wells per year per rig it will take about 70 years to drill all the wells. Not saying it won’t be done…just putting it terms more easily appreciated.

job security is a good thing. Good paying jobs at that.

A billion here, a billion there...

Will the companies drilling Bakken be able to raise all the capital they need? At some point will investors start to balk?

Drill the well with your own money and you don't need investors. If you can recover drilling costs in the first 18-24 months of production, everything after that minus OpEx is all gravy. Enough gravy, and you've just bootstrapped yourself into a sustainable drilling process.

a sustainable drilling process

Oxymoron of the oil age.

Theoretically, of course. But if the 33,000 well count for the Bakken is right, and Rockmans estimate of drilling rate is right, they will be there drilling wells longer than you and I will live, so certainly sustainable across our lifetimes.

Bruce - I'll be even more blunt: the only sustainability issue for the vast majority on the planet is their personal sustainability. Much lip service IMHO about "future generations". At 60 yo the system is very sustainable for me. For folks under 50 yo...maybe not very sustainable. The Bakken play may be sustainable well beyond BAU for most folks. Thus many might develop a false sense of security from the headlines.

Sure. That is pretty much my take on it as well. Don't know about the false sense of security thing, strikes me that anyone dumb enough to ignore history on topics like this should be subjected to exactly the consequences expected.

It's a ponzi scheme like just about everything else in our constructed, complex, hierarchical civilization. Your piece at the tippy top of the supply chain comes down along with everything else, and gets rebuilt at some much lower level with much lower-gain tools and support systems.

That's the whole point of net energy. The concept is not just about energy systems; it then extends into the embodied energy of everything else that is built by man in advanced civilizations. So if you understand net energy, you need to then extrapolate the idea to your computer, your advanced drilling systems, your networked trucking industry, the impacts on the land and the water, the support systems from urban areas that are declining, the 300 tons of chemicals per well that come from industrial production elsewhere, the refineries, and so on.

Rock and Bruce, as the net energy goes down for nonrenewable resources, it also goes down for the embodied emergy in everything else in the system. That makes the entire system less and less viable each year, and it makes barely viable systems that are supported by subsidies defunct. That is the lesson that the oilmen here on TOD have not learned yet. You've got net negative processes that are only working because they are ponzi schemes subsidized by investments and government support. Remove the investments, and you've got nothing. It's time to evolve past understanding net energy to understanding emergy, the next conceptual stage in the theoretical basis for all of this. Until you do that, you miss the connected, hierarchical dependence of our complex systems on a miasma of rapidly disappearing joy juice.


Edit to Add: I scrolled down and saw Rocky Mtn Guy's post; he gets it. It's a ponzi scheme. Rock needs to reread his posts here in this thread. He is describing a classic ponzi scheme. When ponzi schemes collapse, it is sudden, due to the nature of the scheme. What will happen once the monetary system collapses?

RMG: In reality, the amount of oil to be found is strictly limited, and in fact the vast majority of oil in the US has already been found. There have been over two million wells drilled in the US and on a well map the whole country looks like a giant pincusion. However, the promoters will never admit to that because it would wreck the economic model of the companies they are promoting.

That's the whole point of net energy.

Rockman has already noted the irrelevance of net energy in his business. So really, it has no point from an oil and gas perspective at all. Interesting academically, but not of much use beyond that.

As far as everything being a ponzi scheme, well, could be I suppose. But if it is a ponzi scheme, with another millennium to run, does it matter...today?

Rockman noting something is not the same as him proving something, and certainly not the same as him proving something other than what he was arguing. I read his posts dismissing net energy as a concern to his business, and at the time it occurred to me that he wasn't looking at the big picture. Apparently I was not the only one to notice that.

But you are not looking at his picture.

If R says that net energy is not part of his business decision making, then I think we can safely assume that it is indeed *not* part of his decision making, and almost certainly not part of any other oil co's either. Any of his projects will go net $ negative long before they go net energy negative.

The bigger picture, of society's net energy, is not Rockman's to solve. It is up to others to improve the way we use energy, or to find alternative sources. The fact that we keep demanding to have oil to use, even as the EROEI is declining is the problem, not what R decides to do or not.

He has stated before that spends more money and time, drilling deeper for less oil than he ever has before - declining EROEI and net energy, for sure, but they are both still positive, And as long as we want it, he'll try to find it.

There have been over two million wells drilled in the US and on a well map the whole country looks like a giant pincusion.

I guess a few percent more will not make to big difference. I also expect these wells to produce less oil than the average over history since they been known for quite long but have not been drilled on this scale before.

Anyone who have the knowledge to compare?

Bear – I’m not as familiar with the operators in the Bakken as in the Eagle Ford but I think the profile is very similar. The main players are the public oils. I don’t think they fit your concept of “investors”. Their capex comes from cash flow and their credit lines…not directly from investors per se. The investors are the shareholders. Their primary interest is equity growth. And that will only come if these companies can continue to replace/expand their reserve base. That’s the primary metric Wall Street uses to value their stocks.

In that sense the “investors” demand more drilling. Profit isn’t nearly as important. The wells do appear to generate a modest profit for the most part. But more importantly they provide cash flow to reinvest in more drilling. As long as oil prices stay high enough the drilling won’t stop…in fact, can’t stop. That’s exactly what happened in E Texas when NG prices collapsed back in ‘08. The same dynamic was involved in the unconventional NG then as the unconventional oil today. Prices fell too low to continue the drilling treadmill. And thus reserves weren’t replaced and thus the last shareholders were slaughtered. Nothing will stop the unconventional oil from being drilled except for a price collapse IMHO. Even if profitabilty were to sink very low the public oils cannot stop drilling. If that were to happen a great number of these public companies would disappear. There are not enough conventional prospects left in the US to support all of us. I’m about to give back $40 million of this year’s budget because I couldn’t find enough conventional prospects to drill.

When I think about it, I come to the conclusion that these public oil companies are something of a Ponzi scheme. They don't actually make a profit, they rely on drilling more and more oil wells to increase their stock value. The problem with this is that when they run out of drilling prospects, their stock value collapses and the shareholders get burned.

I say this from the standpoint of a business analyst who has worked for some of these companies and seen his stock options crash from enough to buy a new Mercedes to not enough to buy a used skateboard. The bad thing is that I could see it coming in advance because I was running the well database extracts for the annual report, and it was one of those "Oh sh*t!" moments. Some days you're the windshield and some days you're the bug and that day I was the bug.

The only way it could work is if there was an infinite amount of oil out there to find, and that is why their promoters try to spread the myth that there is an infinite amount of oil out there, or at least there is far more oil than we will ever need.

In reality, the amount of oil to be found is strictly limited, and in fact the vast majority of oil in the US has already been found. There have been over two million wells drilled in the US and on a well map the whole country looks like a giant pincusion. However, the promoters will never admit to that because it would wreck the economic model of the companies they are promoting.

Carl Pope, the Sierra Club, and regulatory capture . . . .

One good deed deserves another...

It would be fun if it was not excatly what is going on :c(

Goldman Sachs must be in the comedy business. Otherwise, how do you make sense of the following story,

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, named the smallest group of new managing directors since 2008 as the firm cuts jobs and grapples with declining revenue.

Sounds good so far. But then, in this wonderful age of austerity, you read,

Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, said this week that the firm is working to remain positioned for a rebound even as it eliminates about 1,000 jobs to contend with a drop in trading revenue. The company set aside $10 billion for employees’ salaries, bonuses and benefits in the first nine months of this year, equivalent to $292,836 per worker.

“The single most important thing we can do to enhance the value of our business is to continue to hire the best and brightest people from around the world,” Blankfein said on Nov. 15, at an investor conference in New York hosted by Bank of America Corp. “And once they get into Goldman Sachs we want to do everything we can to ensure that they have productive and stimulating careers.”

Cut jobs but hold on to bonuses for its financial wizards. Meanwhile, elsewhere, within the American political dream works, Supercommittee in U.S. Moving Further Apart on Talks,

Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican and panel member, said time is running out and blamed Democrats.

“They really have not been willing to make the common- sense spending reductions we need to make but yet are continuing at the same time to insist on $1 trillion in job killing tax increases,” Camp told reporters.

Huh? At the same time Golden Sachs announces job cuts and bonuses, the Republicans can still cry about "job killing tax increases."

Perhaps this is why US politics is a mystery to most of us outsiders.

Speaking of Goldman, here's more regulatory capture, except this time the vampire squid is working to take over the entire Eurozone. The problem for the squid is that the financial end of Europe is increasingly unlinked from the underlying real economy. Once the global monetary system collapses, GS is out of the loop unless they capture governments.


"Now that it has a former director at the head of the ECB, a former intermediary leading the Italian government, and another in charge in Greece, the bank’s antagonists are eager to highlight the extraordinary power of its network in in Frankfurt, Rome and Athens, which could prove extremely useful in these turbulent times."

Here, I can't even decide which image is best; take your pick.


@ Iaato

Capturing governments makes no difference.

They have no policies which can work. The steering wheel has come off in their hands.

Can a randomly-selected policy be calculated in terms of energy consumption/demand? I imagine so.

But then what're the entire energy-demands of the (daily operations of the) US and other major western large-scale centralized governments? In joules, petawatts, or ? ? (And how might they compare, for example, with a local, decentralized government, such as in terms of efficiency/resilience?)

And what happens when their energy-sources are drained?

They are machines of a sort.

...And they seem to want to keep running, at all costs. BAU as they say.

It is the fulcrum of history, the enabler of all that we do. Yet few people have more than the sketchiest understanding of how energy makes the world go ’round...
~ Richard Heinberg

...What if that machine ran predominantly on (large-scale) energy from the past? Might that-- this out-of-time/scale thing-- influence many policies it made? How/Which? Debt based currencies? Insurance/Mortgage/Investment/Banking/Finance/Development/Foreign-policy schemes? Overcomplexity? Nuclear waste and what to do with it? Shoot first and ask questions later? Pollution/Mining/Population-expansion and their cumulative effects over time? Risk-calculations?
The way some posts/discussions on sites like TOD are approached/framed?

Insofar as we're "eating" oil, aren't we living on large-scale borrowed time/beyond our means?

You bet, First Member. From the unwieldy PDF below, here's an example of measurement for the US Forest Service, for example. The money attached to the workings of the US government are almost meaningless when one "externalizes the internalities" of our human economic system.


" In all, the USFS annual budget allocation in 2005 was about $4.9 billion. When compared to environmental services obtained from USFS lands (em$1.5 trillion) the budget allocation is about 0.3% of the services and when compared to the values of natural capital the budget is miniscule. Total exports from Forest Service lands were estimated to be worth em$299.6 billion or more than 60 times the USFS annual budget in 2005. The value of endangered species found on USFS lands alone were estimated at nearly 6600 times the annual USFS budget, and if the values of biodiversity and genetic resources are included the annual budget appears diminishingly small in comparison."

Cut jobs but hold on to bonuses for its financial wizards.

It's time to shine a bright light on these voodoo priests and necromancers of BAU! They need to be summarily stripped of all their power! Give them all jobs cleaning public restrooms and pay them minimum wage, that is more than they deserve!
They are not plying a skill, see my comment linked below.


I find it amusing that you are so blinded by traditional party politics.
There's a lot of talk about Wall Street these days. Which party is most closely aligned to Wall St historically? It ain't the Republican party(although Wall St is slowly changing it's colors to something in-between).

Many so-called 'regulators' like Barnie Frank, Schumer and many others are deeply embedded within the Wall St elite circles.

I just find it depressing that some people, especially at a site like this which tend to crater to educated and independent individuals, still can't seem to get 1+1 together but still fall for the convenient theater of 'he said/she said' partisan propaganda.

Look at the financial transactions of lobbyists into the politicians and who these people hang out with instead of cheap rhetoric.

If anything, the Republicans are more open about their corruption and bankrupt intellectual foundation. The Democrats dog whistle the tunes of liberalism while in effect shutting the door in the face of average Americans(NAFTA, 'welfare reform', Obama's 'financial regulation' written by two of the most favoured Wall St politicians on the Hill, Dodd and Frank, and so on and so on).

I prefer to see the enemy as he is, rather than a masquerading farce.
But I guess not everyone is like me. Indeed, some people even swallow the farce headfirst.

Ron Paul.

L - You're preaching to my choir now. Along those lines I heard an interesting stat on NPR a couple of weeks ago. Didn't post it then since some would consider it a tad infamatory: Wall Street companies have earned more profit in absolute terms during the 2.5 year of the Obama administration (during which the D's had control of the entire congress and WH for 2 years) than during the 8 years of the Bush administration. I didn't bother to hunt for back up to that claim given that NPR isn't generally considered some right wing mouth piece. I'm sure there are factors involved that are independent of which party controls the WH. But the stat is still the stat.

Similar statistics are trotted out every election year by lefties: since WWII, Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans. Perhaps Ford was right; he shook up his industry by paying his workers enough so they could afford to buy the product they were making, believing it would be good for the company in the long run.

If American companies did that now they would be sending an awful lot of money to China.


Yes, globalization has changed the equation somewhat.

Heinberg discusses it in The Party's Over. For awhile, globalization was to our advantage. We got to use up other nation's resources as ours ran out, pollute their environment rather than ours, and sell things to new markets. But there's a price. Perhaps it's only fair, that income and consumption become more equally distributed globally, but it's not easy to swallow for those used to consuming more.

Neither party accepts the idea of limits - that on a finite planet, you can't have everyone living better than their parents forever.

Leiten, I'm not an American. It doesn't matter one iota if I swallow the farce headfirst. I admit to being blind. As I said, party politics in the U.S. is a great mystery to us outsiders. It makes no sense.

Is it not the Republicans who are calling for the maintenance of the tax cuts? Is this wrong? If it is, then the problem is with the media. They obviously got it all mixed up, including Fox News, Bloomberg and CNN.

In any case, trickle down economics does not work. As Bush '41 called it long ago, "voodoo economics." Goldman Sachs is not the only example of how the top of the economic heap tend to hoard the riches for themselves. It's an ass-backwards way to spread the wealth and allocate resources to the production of goods and services.

Our problems at this point are systemic. The feedback loops of corporatization and regulatory capture have become too powerful. People put in positions of supposed power become immediate pawns, so it doesn't much matter who you vote for, and I suspect that polarized party politics are just a convenient way to distract competitive behaviors into sideshows, while the real politics occur at another level as one mechanism after another gets shifted towards the power of fascism. Energy converges in complex systems into nodes. That is why inequities develop and widen. Corporatization is evidence of this. Media storms surrounding politics (or football, or religion) are just an example of the second law of thermodynamics--waste heat venting from an overly heated and increasingly broken economy that still has energy being pumped into it.

As humans, when faced with problems, we become anxious and immediately want to drill down into details of problems and focus on a piece. Party politics lends itself to that response. The problems cannot be fixed at the level of party politics. Have you noticed that our institutions are crumbling? The latest political circus is evidence that our political system is just as dysfunctional and increasingly irrelevant as the FIRE (financial/insurance/real estate) economy is. Start removing the energy and the entire edifice starts to topple.

Yes, the problems are systemic.
The press is owned by the corporations. They are not confused... they are on-message.
The politicians are owned, too. Both parties are the same party. Look at Clinton's EPA, for example.
The voting system is owned by the counters of votes.
The regulating agencies are captured by the regulated.
The medical care industry is for profit. The most expensive and 50th in quality in the world.
The prison system is it's own industry. 25% of the worlds prisoners are in America. In states with for-profit prisons, police bust kids for jaywalking and the kid does 18 years after getting riled in prison.
The once free colleges are now about the student loan, not the education.
When your computer is totally hacked by a virus, it is time to re-format the disc and reload the software.

Occupy's message is diffused by all the wrongs that need addressing. "Get the money out" covers some good part of it, though.
A single leader leaves them open to a decapitating attack, like the civil rights movement. Perhaps the diffuse leadership of a world-wide movement through social networking sites is the kids answer, not their elder's... Wonder where they learned that?

Egyptian riot police dismantle tents and arrest protesters to clear Cairos Tahrir square. 2011/11/19:

Voice of America reporting on Argonne National Labs:

Great summary, KD. Should be taped to every refrigerator.

Common ground--we're not going to take it anymore. That which cannot be named, fascism. The UC Davis chancellor's eerie walk of shame should be required viewing. One by one our institutions are crumbling. The future will be self-organized and bottom-up. The kids understand it.

Leiten, I find it amusing that you are so blinded by traditional party politics.

Ron P.

I just find it depressing that some people, especially at a site like this which tend to crater to educated and independent individuals

Quite a nice Freudian in there, at least for us on the sidelines with popcorn.

No mystery. Take from the workers and give to the rich.

ahhh... just like Robin Hood, if he worked for the sheriff that is.

This kid is my wife's cousin.


Cute little gaffer. He's right on. 'Makes no sense.' 'Steal from the poor and give to the rich.'

“The single most important thing we can do to enhance the value of our business is to continue to hire the best and brightest people from around the world,” Blankfein said ...."

They look for the best and brightest sociopaths from around the world. Blankfein is doing God's work, of course. Never forget that!

I think the rest of us are commodities, to merely be bought and sold. Every day I get up and turn on the news, only to hear the latest whining about "the markets." I'm starting to wonder: Is that all there is?


Yes. Its those sacred markets. If you don't do such and such the markets will punish you. So we've thrown away our sovereignity, and become servants of the market.

Some of my friends worked for Goldman, they are a actually very good employers who take good care of you, opportunities galore. I myself came close to getting in once, I was fresh out of college back then, had zero idea about what they do. Today my conscience won't let me do it.
If OWS wants to target the financial industry, they should try the top science/engineering colleges in the country, it's where their talent comes from. And students are by nature bleeding heart liberals so they will easily understand all this, of course a huge college loan doesn't help things but it's worth a try.

US politics is exasperating to those of us on the inside. It is difficult to find coherent discourse focused on policy and free of polemics.

Anyone else read the story about major companies going to wind power including lego, and then imagining lego using wind turbines built from normal lego's and lego technic parts? :P

From WSJ ...

The Surveillance Catalog: Where governments get their tools

Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal open a rare window into a new global market for the off-the-shelf surveillance technology that has arisen in the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The techniques described in the trove of 200-plus marketing documents include hacking tools that enable governments to break into people’s computers and cellphones, and "massive intercept" gear that can gather all Internet communications in a country.

The documents—the highlights of which are cataloged and searchable here—were obtained from attendees of a secretive surveillance conference held near Washington, D.C., last month.

Silent flood misery for 1.8M in Cambodia, Vietnam

... about 1.8 million people across Cambodia and Vietnam are currently suffering a silent misery from the worst flooding in a decade. Thailand's flood crisis has received extensive media coverage, especially as the waters inch toward central Bangkok, but less attention has been paid to its much poorer neighbors, where many rural families still waiting for water levels to drop have received little or no aid from their governments or international organizations.

New Christmas song this year: 'Grandma got run over by the contractors'


Seems like the Rs are prepared (lead by Senator McCain) to pass legislation to exempt the U.S. DoD (and I assume the rest of the Military Industrial Complex, including CIA, NSA, DHS, etc) from any of the mandatory trigger cuts which are supposed to happen (50% DoD/50% non-DoD) if the Budget SuperFriends Committee fails to reach agreement...

Hey, we need to keep those MIC budgets up there to fund our new base in Australia!

A new base in Australia - oh my! I was shocked but not too surprised when that news came out a few days ago. It does several things. In particular, the supposed threat from China provides a great excuse by the MIC to maintain the defense budget at an astronomical level. It also offers up to the American people a new boogieman with which to remain paranoid, in light of Al Qaeda fading into obscurity. Keep them fearful and the money flowing is rule number 1 for the MIC.

But it's evidently extremely easy to put fear into people, so here we go again. Now we pick a fight with China over oil in the South Seas, and to keep China from taking other country's, and to put pressure on to put the Yuan on the currency market.

I think this situation between the US & China will escalate. Where it goes is anyone's guess. However, Romney has been harping on having a trade war with China in his campaign speeches. It may be to the advantage of the MIC to have picked a new foe to fear, but is it in the best interest of the American people? Absolutely not in my opinion. The chinese leaders are skittish guys that if provoked could get real strange. Better I would think to placate them and let them have their half of the planet.

But even the American people will eventually need to recognize the insanity of borrowing from China to pay for a military to threaten China.

Trade pressure on China? Might as well put pressure on oxygen for what it's doing to our lungs. Romney is not an engineer. I sit here all day and specify stuff... and 98% of the stuff is either made in China or contains vital widgets made in China.

I'm all for we quit buying so much stuff from China, but then we would have to make it here, and that would involve rebuilding our dead manufacturing base and educating a workforce. Difficult undertakings. Then we would have to rethink the whole design for the landfill approach to building stuff, building buildings, and building transportation.

Here's a little exercise. Take out the cellphone, organizer, laptop, watch, DVD player, and any other commonly used item which contains electronics. Visualize your vehicle, central heating, any appliance more high tech than 1960's technology, CF light bulbs, printer cartridges, the printer itself... the whole lot sitting in a big pile with some vital piece in its little electronic guts sprung and not replaceable or repairable. Sobering thought.

Now, how about whole buildings like that, because the gee whiz controls depend on the same supply line that wraps around the planet several times. Without a ready and hugely diverse supply of high tech bits and pieces, most of the commercial buildings built in the last 20 years are simply uninhabitable.

Confucius say "if you owe the bank a million dollars and can't pay it back, you have a problem. If you owe the bank several hundred billion dollars and can't pay it back, the bank has a problem."

How about the insanity of China lending the US the money to pay for a military to threaten China? It cuts both ways. The US and China are in a most bizarre dance...

The whole global situation is totally insane, and it seems to me that how and when (not if) it unravels is going to be the story of this century.

They lend us the money.
Lots leaks out into deserving hands on both sides through graft and corruption.
We integrate their goods into our systems.
Lots of leakage there, too, for everyone high-up enough.
The banking system makes out coming and going, as usual in any war.
We bomb some of their ghost cities. They move more money through their system by building more ghost cities.
We have mass casualties. Welfare is reduced. They have mass casualties. They hardly notice.
Products and services are consumed.
There is no down-side.
Kiss and make-up.
Do it again.
Good deal!

China's ghost cities:

Such legislation should not and will not pass.

Maybe they need that MIC budget for toilet plungers

Carrier Bush suffers widespread toilet outages

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier has a messy problem. Since deploying in May, the Norfolk, Va.-based carrier George H.W. Bush has grappled with widespread toilet outages, at times rendering the entire ship without a single working head.

But it’s no laughing matter. Sailors tell of combing the ship for up to an hour to find a place to do their business, if they can find one at all. Others have resorted to urinating in showers or into the industrial sinks in their work stations. Some men are using bottles and emptying the contents over the giant ship’s side, while some women are holding it in for so long that they are developing health problems, according to sources on the ship.

Complicating the matter, some working heads are secured with a lock, letting only sailors who know the combination inside, the sailors said.

Cost of Nimitz Class Carrier: $4,500,000,000

Functioning Head: Priceless

Chamber pot $10.

4.5 trillion? why don't they sell a couple of them. problem 90% solved right there.

Nope...the number he spelled out is $4.5B, and that is a fairly accurate number to my understanding.

Of course this number does not include:

- The cost of R&D for the Nimitz class
- The Operations and Maintenance costs over the 50-year service life
-- The cost of the embarked aircraft
-- The cost of the aircraft fuel
-- The cost of the food
-- the cost of the ship and aircraft spare parts
-- The recruitment, training, pay, benefits (including medical and retirement etc) for the ~ 5 thousand crew and air wing members (at any one time...maybe 60,000++ over 50 years?)

- Oh, and the costs of decommissioning, which Wikipedia stated is estimated to be ~$700-900B, mainly due to the two nuke reactors.

The USS Enterprise, our first nuclear carrier, will retire and be decommissioned in 2013...I haven't seen an estimated cost for that...but know that this one-of-a-kind ship has eight nuclear reactors!

The Enterprise and the ten Nimitz-class carriers are scheduled to be replaced by ten Ford-class carriers, and Wikipedia is citing an estimated cost of ~ $9B each, again, exclusive of R&D, air wing, O&M, decommissioning, etc.

I forgot to mention that US Navy operate these carriers as part of 'carrier groups'...they are underway screened by other ships such as cruisers and destroyers, and likely in some circumstances to have a sub hanging with them as well...

ah.. heh well i was tired last night. :P yea i see that now. still why not sell a few of them..

Instead, we are borrowing money from the people we are most likely to use them against if there were a serious war. Go Figure.

Probably a black market on 5 gallon buckets. I smell an investment opportunity.

Russia took over Saudi Arabia’s production of oil during the economic crisis in 2009 when OPEC’s crude output declined.

That sentence was pulled from an article close to the top of today's articles. I didn't realise Russia had taken over Saudia Arabia's production of oil (snark).

There is a complete different meaning to the term took over vs. overtook. It should read, Russia overtook Saudia Arabia's...

May seem picky but the obvious errors in articles in this modern era makes me wonder if anyone is editing them. We shouldn't have to wonder what was meant by what was written.

I think you're being very generous ... "took over" has never ever meant "overtook", in any context that I can think of, during my 59 years. Just really really sloppy writing, by someone younger than I, I expect.

Egypt: 'Scores hurt' in Cairo clashes with police

More than 210 people have been injured in clashes with police in Cairo's Tahrir Square, state TV reports.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to prevent protesters staging a long-term sit-in following a huge demonstration on Friday against the military leadership.

You gotta give it up for the Egyptian people. They know how to protest to get change. Trouble is the first time just got rid of Mubarak but not the corrupt system. But here they are after going through a horrendous period of upheaval only to bare themselves to violent repression once again to try and finally get the real change they want.

Here in the US we mill around at a protest talking and chewing, then the police move everyone on. It has some legs but fails to pack the punch tougher people in less fortunate country's are able to muster. Guess we've gotten soft.

Of course many of them are protesting in favor of less freedom, so I can't admire that aspect at all.

It's probably a good thing that protest in the U.S. are peaceful (so far). The gun ownership rate in the U.S. is 89 guns per 100 residents.

Protesters in the following video would probably have handled the situation differently in the MENA.

Here and here

UC Davis Police Pepper-Spray Seated Students In Occupy Dispute (VIDEO) Video of a standoff between police and Occupy demonstrators at the University of California, Davis shows an officer using pepper spray on a group of seated protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

One woman was transported to a hospital to be treated for chemical burns.

When a tiny fraction of the population protests what do you expect the police to do?

Follow their own policy manual and the law

U.C. Berkeley Police Crowd Control Policy

Was that sarcasm?

I expect my police (the ones that I pay for with my taxes) to conduct themselves by the motto 'To protect and to Serve'.

If a protestor is sitting on the ground passively, and the law dictates that this person must be evicted, then the several police should lift the person off the ground, and carry them to the paddy wagon, and charge them and release them.

It seems to me that police are becoming more militarized, and more thuggish.

More and more are too quick on the trigger fingers for the tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and tasers. Seems to me that too may take pleasure in using those devices, as well as the baton.

Just wait for the active denial systems to be widely available.


Read the article and look for the 'Silent Guardian' system being marketed to law enforcement.

Then there is the LRAD:




A few other devices your tax dollars are paying for (better stay at home and farm/garden/watch TV or play video games and stay off the streets!):



Europe isn't missing this party...


Unless you live in Los Angeles, that's not their motto.

One Adam-12, One Adam-12, 2-11 in-progress...

A cursory (90-second Google search produced these three PDs with that very motto:



OK, this one has the verbs reversed, still gets credit!


Better than SF PD's Motto:

Oro en paz, fierro en guerra, archaic Spanish for Gold in peace, iron in war.

Then there is Oakland, CA:

"We will be there when you need us" (to bash your head in)

Back to the old daze (as depicted on TVland)...


Not commit felonious assault?

A gameplan to squash the OWS movement that a lobbyist firm was pimping to the American Bankers Association ...

Clark Lytle Geduldig Cranford Occupy Wall Street Lobbyist Response Proposal

This initial effort to develop the cornerstone elements of a strategic campaign is achievable within 60 days and would best provide you with a range of effective response options if the move to adopt OWS continues on its current path. The cost of the deliverables identified above is $850,000.

Can't find the word ... somehow 'traitors' doesn't quite capture the full measure of disgust & loathing I feel for this firm.

The push is on to discredit clean energy investment

... There's been an uptick in pieces like this lately and I don't think it's an accident. Solyndra was only a jumping-off point for conservatives, a way to ramp up their campaign to discredit government support for clean energy entirely. That campaign is not new -- it's been going on since Reagan -- but one-two punch of deficit hysteria and Solyndra has offered an unusually target-rich environment.

Liberals often react with bewilderment when waves of stories like this show up, puzzled that they've "lost the argument." But it's not an argument that they're losing. It's a contest of power and influence. When you see drums pounding for Solyndra, and then for other DOE loan recipients, and then for all energy subsidies, and then for the entire history of energy subsidies, it's because somebody is pounding the drums. There are people compiling damning research and pushing it out to reporters.

For bloggers and wonks, the right response to this may be wringing of hands and lamentations about the degraded state of democracy and/or media. But for the professionals involved in the promotion of clean energy and climate solutions -- the think tanks, advocacy groups, and trade associations -- the right response is to pound louder.

We hold only 2% of the world's oil reserves . . . so let's discredit the move the alternative energy.

What could possibly go wrong?

How unbelievably unpatriotic. They should be ashamed. But they probably don't realize what they are doing. They probably think all our problems would be solved if we just drill ANWR.

This ageing liberal thinks that politicians are the worst possible individuals to pick winners in a transition to new technology, energy in this case.

The only sensible policy is to raise the cost of fossil energy and let the market choose how to replace it. Of course that can't happen in the good ole USofA because we are populated with about 66-2/3% raging lunatics.

Jjhman, as an aging liberal myself I tend to agree with your first sentence. But I would not say that two thirds of the US is made up of raging lunatics. I would say, and did say, that they haven't a clue but I really would not classify them as raging lunatics. Perhaps only one third are really that bad. They call themselves "The Tea Party". ;-)

However I really can't see why the market cannot do all it can to attempt to replace fossil energy. I really don't think that is at all possible but my point is I really don't see anyone trying to stop it. Just why can't the free market try to replace fossil fuel? After all the market is trying like hell to do exactly that. The market is not making a lot of progress but it is not for the lack of trying. Perhaps it is because of a lack of risk capital, but that is not the fault of any raging lunatics.

What politicians can do, and in some cases are doing, is dole out grants for solar and wind energy enterprises or doling out subsidies for things like corn ethanol. But they are not preventing the market from doing it on its own, totally without subsidies. I don't see any raging lunatics stopping any such efforts by the free market.

Ron P.

My point was that the market cannot bring its power to bear when fossil fuels are so much cheaper than any alternative and have the advantage of incumbancy. That is that they are woven into the very fabric of our culture. Yet we, as a nation, are so much in denial about the need for higher fuel prices that I do not believe that approach is possible.

The "raging lunatics" of which I speak are the followers of people like Grover Norquist, the anti-science voter block and tea party types. Not to single out the right-wing nutties. We have to deal with the left wing politicians who think they can pander to the working class and owe their souls to the banking industry. All of these forces combine to keep us from having a sensible national energy policy.

OK maybe "raging lunatics" is a bit strong but there is an awful lot of denial of reality going on here. The result is as if the electorate en masse should be medicated.

There certainly are viscious anti-renewables trolls that regularly show up on alt energy blogs. Some of these are likely astro-turf -being paid by fossil fuel interests, and some are probably fellow travelers of the rightwing or liberatarian bent. But, there clearly in an element of intimidation going on.

Older, Suburban and Struggling, ‘Near Poor’ Startle the Census

WASHINGTON — They drive cars, but seldom new ones. They earn paychecks, but not big ones. Many own homes. Most pay taxes. Half are married, and nearly half live in the suburbs. None are poor, but many describe themselves as barely scraping by.

When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.

“These numbers are higher than we anticipated,” said Trudi J. Renwick, the Census Bureau’s chief poverty statistician. “There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.”

I am literally surrounded by such people-self sufficient in terms of paying their own way, but finding it harder and harder as each year goes by.

Most of my family is in this situation, although some of us(not me!) in the current adult generation have broken into the six figure club.I got close a few times , in terms of inflation adjusted money years ago, but I never wanted to work 12 months straight through, and seldom ever did so.

Almost anybody holding an every day sort of job these days is in big trouble, unless he is a member of a powerful union or a govt employee or a highly skilled worker in a field still in demand.

A typical unskilled job around here is going to pay anywhere from eight to twelve dollars an hour, with skilled /professional pay for lower tier professions(mechanics, nurses, medical technicians,electricians) paying 15 to 18 dollars.

The best compensated group and largest group of people in the entire county are the teachers, who earn about forty thousand on average for 215 days , with excellent benefits, after hanging around for a decade or two.

Ten dollars with both parents working and needing a car to get to work means there is no discretionary income at all, after the bills are paid;these folks are proud, and resist signing up for food stamps and school lunches as long as they can, but they have no choice after a while.

Teeth go unfilled clothes are bought at flea markets, fresh produce is a luxury in season,and out of the question out of season.Haircuts are home amateur jobs.

The remaining industries for the most part simply can't pay any better-they have been closing one after another ever since the SIMPLY WONDERFUL concepts of globalization and free trade became fashionable.

I used to be able to greet forty people by their first names at church who made their living in either the furniture or textile industries, and made enough to build their homes and driver a decent car and send their kids on to college.

Now I know maybe four or five, and they are on pins and needles hoping their jobs will last until they can get on Medicare and Social Security.

Now we have a clear example here of the untended but perfectly predictable consequences of such policies-the repigs are apparently happy because they have as much dirt cheap labor as they could ever want, and the demorats are likewise equally happy because they have a new captive voter bloc dependent on whatever safety net they can provide.

Millions of criminals are being minted on an annual basis as a result, although only a few will ever be prosecuted.The crimes run the gamut from cheating on welfare by holding cash part time jobs to working full time in the underground economy and paying no taxes at all,from scoring some pot to divide among friends to scoring enough to actually pay some bills with the proceeds.

I can think of at least a couple of respectable women who have found themselves living a life not that far removed from that of a prostitute with men they care nothing about, and who do not treat them or their children well, as they have no hope of supporting their children by other means.

We have always had a gun culture around here, and you could always get yourself shot by messing with somebody's woman, or calling him or his momma foul names, but we did not have any serious problems with thieves and armed robbers until a few years ago.

Now you can get yourself shot by being the clerk at a gas station.

The crooks know which ones to hit, too-the ones run by chain stores that forbid the employees
from having guns on the premises.

You reap what you sow-the KJB has it all wrong in physics, but it is dead on in terms of practical politics and practical psychology.

Personally I have had experience in depending on the police to protect me and mine.It wasn't up to what I would describe as a satisfactory standard.

They can have my weapons when they pry them out of my cold dead hands.

I will not live in fear- but the local thieves live in fear of me, and a good many of my neighbors, whom they know better than to cross, unless they are very careful indeed not to get caught.

Anybody with coon hounds or possum dogs is welcome in our fields and woods any time of night so long as they are sober and don't throw out trash and so forth.Those with a reputation for living without visible support, and not showing any lights or speaking loudly enough to be heard some distance away are fired on, once I make sure they are not teenagers making whoopee.

In that case, I advise them with a grin in respect to more suitable nearby parking spots.

Once it was a local preacher's daughter, and on a couple of other occasions the children both male and female of friends and relatives. I have never given away their identities, although I have taken the liberty of a knowing wink at them all sometime or another whenever nobody is around who would notice or wonder why,always getting an embarrassed but grateful little smile in return.

The sheriff of Goochland County, a very good , very competent ( now dead from old age black man ) who understood human nature once gave me and my future wife the same break-he rescued us, when I got my car stuck in a place we should not have been, both of us smelling like a cathouse after some serious exercise repeated several times, giving us a ride to her parents house in his patrol car, telling me to walk her to the door, and kiss her goodnight.Then he gave me a ride back to my car.

So far as I was ever able to find out, he never told a soul;he certainly didn't tell her parents or any of her family.He most likely guessed that she was still a little short of her eighteenth birthday as he knew she was graduating from high school in a few weeks.

A few dozen birdshot dings in a thief's vehicle has so far been enough to make sure the vehicle is never seen in the immediate neighborhood again.

Unfortunately, we live in increasingly interesting times.

Beautifully written but horrible to read, simultaneously, OFM. We in Australia simply do not know how well off and how lucky we are. Well - we do I suppose - that's why we're so bloody complacent.

Silly Americans! You aren't "rich" you are debt slaves with the sunk costs of oversized bodies, oversized houses, oversized cars, oversized commutes, and corporate jobs that can't possibly pay for it all.

A well deserved comeuppance.

Couldn't have said it better.

When we look at the political paralysis affecting most legislative bodies in OECD countries that are running deficits, e.g., Greece & the US, it seems likely that OECD governments that are reliant on borrowing for some portion of government expenditures will curtail their borrowing only when they can no longer afford to borrow money. IMO, the best summary of our collective predicament:

In the world, at the limits to growth
by David Korowicz

. . . across the political spectrum, people are claiming solutions for a predicament that cannot be solved . . . The only choice is default or inflation on a global scale.

Here in Europe time is running out. Print and be damned or default. Not a pretty choice but they're going to have to decide very soon or rather Germany has to. Both choices probably lead to the same destination eventually, but give us a different route to traverse through hell in the meantime.

This route seems particularly unpleasant:

Either the ECB Prints and Germany Walks… or the EU Sees a Domino Debt Collapse Followed by Systemic Failure

So there are now only two REAL outcomes:

1) The ECB prints (and Germany walks) resulting in the Euro losing at the minimum 30-40% of its value

2) Massive defaults and debt restructuring accompanied by systemic failure in Europe...

...So if you have not already taken steps to prepare for systemic failure, you NEED to do so NOW. We're literally at most a few months, and very likely just a few weeks from Europe's banks imploding.

When this happens the entire system could go down. I’m talking about bank holidays, sovereign debt defaults, retirement accounts and pension funds wiped out, even food shortages in some areas.

Regardless whether it prints or the dominoes fall Goldman Sachs is gambling on its connections.

What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe

Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. The political decisions taken in the coming weeks will determine if the eurozone can and will pay its debts – and Goldman's interests are intricately tied up with the answer to that question.

Who needs the messiness of government and business when you can have one player at the table?

This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close. Every business wants to advance its interests with the regulators that can stymie them and the politicians who can give them a tax break, but this is no mere lobbying effort. Goldman is there to provide advice for governments and to provide financing, to send its people into public service and to dangle lucrative jobs in front of people coming out of government. The Project is to create such a deep exchange of people and ideas and money that it is impossible to tell the difference between the public interest and the Goldman Sachs interest.

However its a strategy with high, high risks.

Jon Corzine, a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, returned to Wall Street last year after almost a decade in politics and took control of a historic firm called MF Global. He placed a $6bn bet with the firm's money that Italian government bonds will not default.

When the bet was revealed last month, clients and trading partners decided it was too risky to do business with MF Global and the firm collapsed within days. It was one of the ten biggest bankruptcies in US history.

The grave danger is that, if Italy stops paying its debts, creditor banks could be made insolvent. Goldman Sachs, which has written over $2trn of insurance, including an undisclosed amount on eurozone countries' debt, would not escape unharmed, especially if some of the $2trn of insurance it has purchased on that insurance turns out to be with a bank that has gone under. No bank – and especially not the Vampire Squid – can easily untangle its tentacles from the tentacles of its peers. This is the rationale for the bailouts and the austerity, the reason we are getting more Goldman, not less. The alternative is a second financial crisis, a second economic collapse.

Shared illusions, perhaps? Who would dare test it?

I think that a compromise will be attempted.

The ECB will be given the potential ability to print more money (with some German held strings attached). The effect will be to try and convince the markets that all is fine now.

This is the ultimate game of chicken between the markets and the European governments. Who ever blinks first loses. The only trouble is that the markets don't care, and can sit back and wait. I can well imagine this sorry state of affairs limping along for another 6 to 12 months.

I think it's almost certain that an economic collapse is coming, but the final straw is uncertain. My own belief is that some outside influence, not connected to the Eurozone, will nudge the confidence house of cards just that little bit too much.

OFM doesn't live in that neighborhood.

Very, very true. I work with a number of people who make solid as far as statistics go. Making $60,000 per year is not uncommon in my office. Here's the problem:

* There is no health insurance.
* There is no retirement plan.
* There is no salary. When work is abundant, you can clear $1300. Other weeks, 0.
* There is no chance for advancement.
* There is no chance for a pay raise.
* There is no way to prove yourself invaluable.
* There are few other jobs in the industry that pay as well.
* There is a $150,000 hurdle to get into this fabulous industry, almost all of it non-dischargeably debt-financed.
* There are no government programs to help someone making $60k a year, despite all of this.

Factor the health insurance, the retirement plan, the income insecurity, the massive debt repayments, the loss of hope for another job or career advancement or even a way to prove yourself valuable, and $60,000 turns into a hell of a lot less pretty fast. Most of us are a month from the bread line.

Even if there is no die-off, work till you drop is the new America.

But yet people are so ideologically brainwashed that they idolise their masters, worship their chains, defend their incarceration and confuse slavery with freedom. They believe they're living in "the best of all possible worlds" like some Panglossian caricature whilst living a Kafkaesque nightmare.

Sadly as the System buckles under the onslaught of multifaceted crises and retrenches, restricting money, energy and resources to those inner functions vital for its survival, millions of people will find themselves dumped into reality and left to fend for themselves. The privileges of the shrinking System will be increasingly reserved for the elite and essential minions only.

The whole process can be seen here in Europe as "Voltaire's bastards" struggle to finalise their ideologically driven dream of a totalitarian technocratic state.

YES on the first two paragraphs. I'll reserve comment on European totalitarian ideology.

This is nothing like what I see in daily life. I see six-figure salaries galore, everybody drives a BMW, Mercedes, or Escalade, half-million dollar homes are the norm...I don't know what country you are living in. Ah yes, I forgot...I live in the DC area. Working for the fed gov sure is nice "work" if you can get it.

We peasants are quite well informed as to how well our "servants" in DC and surroundings live.

Someday we may show up with torches and pitchforks.

I don't know, it doesn't seem like anybody really cares all that much. I was born in Detroit and lived in the Detroit area for 24 years before moving to the DC area. Occasionally I go back home to visit my parents and the difference is night and day. Michigan is depressed and down in the dumps, meanwhile back on the beltway in DC I swear every third car costs at least $40k. Housing values have dropped slightly but not much. It's basically like living in the golden city while the rest of the country lives in the slums.

Maybe most people don't actually realize how ridiculous it is or else we'd really see pitchforks showing up. I don't personally work for the goverment but most of my neighbors do. You'd think they were all royalty the way they talk and act. I must admit to being envious of the number of holidays and vacation days they get. Also many of the government contractors are very well off.

Maybe that's how it all ends, the rich and powerful all working for the government while the rest of the country become poor servants. Like in the olden days of kings.

No it ends like this:

In her book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with his children watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.

Now there's a cheery little story!


Should be an interesting year, next year.

Israel: time running out to stop a nuclear Iran

(Reuters) - Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable in its goal of producing a nuclear weapon, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with CNN released on Saturday.

In an advance transcript of an interview to air on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" program on Sunday, Barak said Israel was focused on the prospect of a nuclear Iran and what "should and could be done about it on time."

Seems to imply 9 months as the outer timetable for action

Israel: time running out to stop a nuclear Iran

I just don't get it.

In my humble opinion: Let Iran have their nuclear program.

I can only guess such paths only further help the global one percent, as I lack the understanding of any other 'profit' for such courses of action.

Will attacking Iran help mitigate Peak Oil?

...Or does it just take eyes away from the recession, unemployment, and economic collapse (who notices the homeless at their feet at the park when looking up at the pretty pretty fireworks)?

(I am ignorant on this one, and welcome any enlightenment.)

Iran has made no secret of a national desire to nuke Israel right back to the stone age.

We didn't listen to the ravings of Hitler when he made no secret of his intentions-I know, I have read his works myself, in translation of course.

It would be good of course if there were no atom bombs at all.

It is very easy for me to imagine the Iranians using one first without provocation, but I can't imagine the Israelis doing so unless pressed to the very edge of national annihilation.

Oh come on OFM, I think you are making stuff up. Iran is not Hitler's Germany. The Israelis will know the week before of any Iranian plan to launch a nuke, and vaporize Tehran - Israel is the nuclear power in the Mideast. And the Iranians know that full well.

It would be good of course if there were no atom bombs at all.

I agree. I don't think either Iran or Israel is going to launch nukes unprovoked. Israel clearly fears this, but in the long run, I think they're going to have to get over it.

Whether we like it or not, it's looking like the future is nuclear. It's going to be difficult to tell countries they can't have nukes because we're afraid they'll make bombs. The "we'll provide the fuel" thing isn't like to go over well. Would we accept that? No way.

Iran openly sponsors terrorists who can and do attack Israel daily. While I don't support much of what Israel does, they certainly have every right to believe a nuclear-armed Iran could be an immediate threat.

Oh come on. Israel has a nuke sub. If Iran nuked Israel, Iran would suffer the same fate.

Mutual Assured Destruction
This is never mentioned in the corporate media. It would take all the fun out of fear-mongering.
Here in Los Angeles, the prediction was that if all seventy warheads targeted on this place did actually hit, the rocks in the hills would ignite: A rain that would "make the rubble dance".


Iran has made no secret of a national desire to nuke Israel right back to the stone age.


JP is correct - the actual quote got lost in translation

However, people have given some thought to taking out Iran

Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities CSIS-2009

Abdullah Toucan, a senior Associate of the Burke Chair, has prepared an additional report which provides an independent assessment of Israel’s options for striking at Iran’s facilities, based in part on prior work on Iran’s nuclear facilities. This report provides a detailed analysis of Israeli capabilities, possible flight paths, sorties requirements, battle damage capabilities relative to target hardening, and the other details of possible Israeli strikes.

The analysis examines the problems that Israel might encounter in penetrating the air defenses of given states in the region and the comparative air defense coverage of key states along possible flight paths. Detailed maps and charts analyze the coverage of given systems, sortie options, and the other military details that shape possible Israeli and Iranian options.

Finally the analysis provides a comparative analysis of Israel’s possible nuclear weapons holdings relative to Iran’s capabilities to produce nuclear weapons, and of possible missile as well as air attacks.

Report/Presentation: http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/090316_israelistrikeiran.pdf

There is also a back story on the UK/Isreal angle to this at Craig Murray's (Former British Ambassador, Human Rights Activist) site...

Matthew Gould* and the Plot to Attack Iran

*Matthew Gould is British Ambassador to Israel,

Iran may use oil as political tool-energy minister

Iran has warned it will respond to any attack by hitting Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf and analysts say Tehran could hit Western interests by closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes.

"We don't consider crude oil as a political tool, however if necessary, we'll use it as a tool any way we need to," Rostam Qasemi said in response to a question in an interview translated into English by the Qatar-based news channel.

the Israelis doing so unless pressed to the very edge of national annihilation.

Not true.

During the Yom Kipper War, in order to get US rapid air resupply in USAF transports, the Israelis physically loaded up nukes on F-4s and threatened to nuke Damascus & Cairo.

Israel was at risk of losing some of the territories it conquered in the 6 Day War, but *FAR* from being at risk of losing any significant Israeli territory (a small strip on the east bank of the Sea of Galilee that they held since 1949 was at risk if Syria overran the Golan Heights).

Israel was *FAR* from at risk of "national annihilation", but they were willing to kill millions of people because they did not to risk possibly losing their gains in the 6 Day War.


Sorry guys, I was very busy when I posted the reply involving Israel and Iran, and should have deleted and rewritten it, but got distracted by dinner on the stove and unexpected company.

Iran as a nation has not promised to nuke Israel.

But numerous highly influential people in Iran have expressed a wish to do so, and to the best of my knowledge, the Iranian people are NOT insisting that they be sent to sensitivity training classes.

The Middle East is not an upper middle class American suburb or university town where politically correct behavior is the norm.

Hitler's Germany was just Germany when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.

When Hitler came to power Germany as a nation had no desire to go to war, but she went to war anyway once he got in to power.

His generals-the ones of them who weren't butt kissers - mostly advised against it, telling him and anybody else who would listen that the odds were not good.

I have known fanatics of several stripes,although I have never traveled extensively, and I read history voraciously.

There are plenty of nut cases in Iran who could easily with a little luck (good or bad depending on the pov) wind up with the power to launch a nuke at Israel.

Nut cases are not necessarily going to be rational when it comes to MAD.

Of course Israel might not act rationally , but imo, the odds are a LOT BETTER that the Israelis will act rationally.

Israel as I see it WAS at the brink during the war and I have no doubt that if France or England or the US were in a similarly perilous position, that close to being overrun, any of the three would use nukes first rather than see the enemy come pouring across the borders in overwhelming force, any previously stated policies on first use be damned.

Israel is a small country with no room to fall back, and poorly situated for defense.

I'm afraid that there is little hope of her ever being able to get along with her neighbors-there are simply too many people in the surrounding countries with axes of their own to grind who are not interested in peace-people who derive power , status, and income from being warmongers.

The world is a Darwinian place.I had breakfast this morning with my attorney,who is a legal jack of all trades but mostly practices bankruptcy and real estate law.

He is not happy about so many of his friends being in a bind economically these days, but he sure is making all the bankruptcy hay he can while the making is good-he is booked up for six months, but since we are old friends he squeezed in a couple of extra hours work by cutting his planned day off on the river a little short.

Multiply his situation by millions of other people situated to profit handsomely from other people's miseries, whatever or whoever they might be, and it will be obvious why peace in sand country is so elusive.

The odds of this whole mess ending well are close to zero.

When you go to sea in a ship, you can never defeat the sea, you can only fight it to a draw one voyage at a time.Sooner or later every ship will sink, if it is kept at sea long enough; this is a mathematical certainty.

Israel is a small ship in a rocky,perpetually stormy sea.

Her only real hope of survival is to shelter under her own nuclear umbrella, or to count on the US to defend her-which is no longer a sure thing, given current political and economic trends.

The much (mis)quoted thing was by Ahmadinejad, something to the effect that Israel (meaning its current government) will be destroyed. He did not mean the country with all its inhabitants. He also implied, that it wouldn't be by his hand, but by Allah. But, there are a lot of people who didn't, and don't want to take notice of the distinctions, it is popular in the US to portray Iranians as insane maniacs bent on destruction. Interestingly, the Ayatollah, has a fatwa gainst N weapons, so they would be going against their scared beliefs to actually acquire one. Of course there are no guarantees in life, or in international politics. But the stance of treating anyone who might become a dangerous enemy, as if they are already one, leads to instability and war. Just the outcome those who make the argument claim to be trying to avoid. All this demonization and pressure is likely to push the country into actually trying to acquire weapons capability, since its enemies apear implacable (from their perspective).

Remember, we went to war gainst Iraq, because of non exitant WMD. We had convinced ourselves, that it was impossible to verify 100% that he wasn't hiding something, so we set up a dynamic where we would fail to verify. Seems like a similar dynamic is playing out with Iran. But, we'd rather repeat history than learn from it.

I think Iraq gave a lot of incentive to countries like Iran. The takeaway for the rest of the world is that if you have nukes, you won't be invaded.

With North Korea as the obvious counter point.

Well, and also so notably, Israel's message of 'Do as I say, not as I do.'

You can't have MAD without the M, after all. As I've been saying, it's foolish to call an incentive a deterrent.

Israel as I see it WAS at the brink during the war

I disagree.

The Egyptian Army was just on the other side of the Suez Canal and was expanding down a bit down the Red Sea coast of the Sinai - opposite the only route of advance into Israel proper, the Mediterranean coastal plain. And even if they were trying to advance into Israel, the Egyptian Army simply did have the logistics to do so.

The Syrian Army, if they has succeeded in taking back the Golan Heights, would have run directly into the Sea of Galilee on the south and a "panhandle" of Israel on the north - far from any strategic area of "national survival". And the Syrians were stopped on the second day and were ejected from the Golan Heights after just four days in any case.

Israel threatened to use nuclear weapons when they were already winning the war in the Golan Heights.

To quote Golda Meir:

It would take four days to shift a division to the Sinai. If the war ended during this period, the war would end with a territorial loss for Israel in the Sinai and no gain in the north—an unmitigated defeat.


Look I've long maintained that American involvement in the Middle East will ultimately do us in. It's just too complicated.

You've got tiny Israel trying to defend itself, 300 million increasingly pissed off Arabs, and a whole lot of oil that is getting harder and harder to extract.

Somebody, please, convince me this is going to turn out well.

I don't think it's going to end well, but I'm more worried about Pakistan-India than Israel-Iran.

Don't forget that the US-KSA relationship is also a lot based on KSA vs Iran or Sunni vs Shia and US KSA protection deal, not to mention that the presence predates the Israel aspect with the inbetween WW and a bit after "seven sisters"(western oil majors) sharing the oil in the region.(and the Mossadegh Shah Khomeiny story), and then Ormuz strait. And the 10 years long Iraq/Iran war (longest in XXth century I think) Lebanon civil war etc, the region potential conflicts are by far not limited to Israel against Persians and Arabs

It's going to be interesting, and not in a good way. The US might find Israel more trouble than it's worth, as oil becomes scarcer. OTOH, if we somehow succeed in turning away from oil, we might find the whole Middle East not worth messing with (kind of like Africa now). I get the feeling our interests in the region are changing, and it's freaking out some people.

The UK really left a bit of a mess when they dismantled their empire. Pakistan-India, Israel and the Palestinians, Afghanistan. Not casting blame - just pointing out that even pulling out of a region can be problematic.

And now a bunch of countries in the Middle East want nuclear power plants. So they can export more oil instead of burning it, or just because their power consumption is outgrowing capacity. Everyone's freaked out over Iran, but Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others are all pursuing nuclear power, too. And there's really no way to prevent a country with a nuclear power plant from using it to make weapons.

i would love it if we just withdrew all support. saying 'you made this mess, you clean it up."

I think Israel has made the strategic mistake of building a peace that relied upon dictators in neighboring countries kow-towing to the west. Now that West-friendly Mubarak is gone, it remains to be seen how friendly Egypt remains to Israel. It remains quite friendly now because the military still runs Egypt and the Egyptian military is still quite dependent upon US aid.

They need to build a lasting peace . . . being provocative has worked for them in the past but it might not work so well in future.

The peace was the result of a war. The Sinai Peninsula for peace. Israel needed the peace better than the peninsula, so it was a win/win for all. Also Egypt did not lose prestige, since they after all could tell they got a chunkof land for the peace, making them the victorer, as they see it.

I don't think Israel made a strategic choise to build peace with dictators,they took the peace they could get.

The situation is deterioating right now. I suspect that after WWIII, historians will put the current events into context of the leadup to the war.

I'm not so sure how the relying on dictatot sorts has worked for them. Even in the absense of popular overthrow, there always was the temptation (of the dictator) to play to anti-Israeli sentiment. We've clearly seen that with Saddam, and Ahmadinejad, and to a lessor extent with Assad. Of course even now Eqypt has become a very unreliable supplier og natural gas to Israel. And a post revolutionary Syria (which may or may not come to pass), might not be easy for them to live with either.

I can feel for the position they've found (put) themselves in. But, why should we let it have such a controlling influence on what we do? But, in the current atmosphere, to even raise that question earns me my traitorous handle!

Syria has never been friendly towards Israel. They may be the worst jew-haters in the area. Most people do not now that Israel have a "Golan Hills for peace" offer towards Syria for 20 years or something. Syria do not take it, recognicing the state of Israel and opening up an embasy in Jerusalem is not their cup of tea.

Israels traditinal go-along buddies have been Jordania, Egypt and Turkey. Turkey is out of the picture for the last year or so, Egypt may very well go. Israel is runing short of allies.

I couldn't imagine why Israel might be alienating its allies... (sarcasm)

It is an expensive ally...Israel supposedly gets about 3 billion dollars in direct foreign assistance for example in 2011 it received about 8.2 million dollars in US Aid every day.

As a state it has a history of ignoring treaties and annexing territory, invading its neighbors and setting up settlements outside of its borders. A lot of Israel's international power comes from it's willingness to act as a bulwark territory in the region that can't help regional co-operation.

It has been implicated in the assassinations of foreign leaders and the supply of arms to all sorts of nasty groups in Latin America.

It has been known to influence elected officials of other countries (In August 2011 81 members of the US congress enjoyed a paid vacation to Israel)

In war situations it tends to go overboard, and kills lots of civilians. For example at the beginning of 2009 something like 13 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, while Israel's offensive killed 1,300 Palestinians including about 400 of which were children. Thats a 100 to 1 death tally

It has threatened nuclear attack on the capitals of neighboring countries.

Lots of countries do anti-ethical things in the name of self interest, but Israel stands out as an expensive, unreliable ally.

I like they way you pick your cherrys. In the 2009 war, the palsetinians used ambulances and child hospitals as war platforms, they regularly performed attacksduring the daily 3-hour cease fire, etc. The death toll among the civilians was enginered by Hamas and their friends. They simply calculate that if they attack fromplaces with lots of civilians, either Israel has to not fire back, and Hamas win, or the israelis fire back and kill lots of civilians,and Hamas win again.

You forget how much the arabs hate the jews for beeing jews. As a home exercise; check out who Yassir Arrafats uncle was, and what his relation to Adolf Hitler was like. It may broaden your view.

I will not reply to your reply. I have gotten enogh mails from Leanan on what we can and can not discuss here.

They simply calculate that if they attack fromplaces with lots of civilians, either Israel has to not fire back, and Hamas win, or the israelis fire back and kill lots of civilians,and Hamas win again.

But of course. That's how asymmetric warfare works. How else can they fight, when they are hopelessly outgunned (in large part due to the US)?

Ironically, Hamas was supported by both Israel and the US in its early days. It was thought that Hamas would undermine the PLO.

I guess, as with Afghanistan's mujahideen, we can file this under "be careful what you wish for."

How else can they fight ... ?

Who says they have to fight (and kill)?

Other than them saying it of course.
It sounds like fighting and killing "the others" is a non-negotiable life-style choice for "them".

Then again, I have no doubt there is an irrational rationalization for the whole thing.

It's not like they didn't try negotiation. It got them nowhere, so it's not a surprise they moved on to other tactics.

What causes this kind of violence is occupation. It's not just Arabs and Israelis, and it's not just Muslims and Jews. It's what happens with an occupation...anywhere. I've no doubt Americans would do the same, if Martians arrived and decided to give the U.S. back to Native Americans and impose it by force.


I guess we each have our biased version of history.

I take yours to be saying that Jews are not human beings who were relentlessly persecuted in all Muslim and Nazi nations, but instead they are non-humans (who are more like "Martians landed in USA') and thus they do not deserve to have a homeland of their own where they can feel safe.

I further take your version of history to be saying that Palestinians are not a group of trouble makers who have already been kicked out by their "brethren" from Jordan and Lebanon, but instead they are sweet, peace-seekers who have always negotiated in earnest with those evil big nosed Martians and now, gee whiz, "It got them nowhere, so it's not a surprise they moved on to other tactics."

Guess what? The so-called peace lovers have been using those "other tactics" from day 1.
Arafat had his chance to say yes.
Abbas still has his chance for saying yes.

We will just have to agree to disagree about ME politics and move on to dealing with PO; which is a force of Nature that doesn't care about history, ethnicity, religion or whether one is from Mars or some other place above ground or else-placed.

It's a waste of energy and time to argue about who deserves to have his deck chair placed on the East side of the Jerusalem deck when the whole Titanic is going under. Don't you think?

Hello TOD,

I'm a long time lurker / first time poster. The wealth of information provided by the users of this site is imply incredible and my hat's off to the frequent contributors. I have a question for the community.

I am wondering if anyone is aware of any data sources regarding the oil content as a percentage of other inputs in petrochemicals and other basic raw materials. What I am ultimately trying to get at is how oil prices propagate through supply chains, starting with the basic raw materials. I believe I have a good idea of the transport piece of the puzzle, but have no clue how much physical oil (or derivatives thereof) is in a pound of plastic, for example, or a nylon sleeping bag, etc. I am hoping to come up with some rough figures such as an X% increase in crude oil price leads to an X% increase in the price of product/commodity Y. Naturally this requires knowing the percentage of other inputs (such as labor and capital), so this can quickly get pretty complicated. So far, I am at a total loss for locating any data or articles in this area.

Any help is much appreciated.


mvs – Try this out: http://www.oiltycoon.com/htp/refining.html

Lots of other sources on the web. Also, keep in mind that a good bit of the products you mentioned don’t come from oil but NG or a combination of both.

Sometimes businesses will have a media report of price increases due to increasing costs. You have to read the financial sites and watch for price increases. Sometimes they give detailed numbers but most other times you can get only a vague idea of the affect like the article below. I have never tried to document the price relationships on an end-user product basis (like a nylon sleeping bag) and I haven't seen anybody else trying to do that either. Plastics come in many forms so you would have to get specific on which plastic before determining the amount oil used for production.

Coca-Cola to raise prices 3%-4% on July 31

The higher prices are attempts to soften the blow from the higher cost of aluminum for cans, plastic for bottles and oil used to ship drinks, but could hurt sales volume if price-conscious consumers buy fewer drinks.

Its sugar water. I'm sure humans will survive. I don't get the love affair with soda. The only time I ever drink Coke is with Capt Morgan, other then that I never consume soft drinks. I don't drink juice or milk either. Water seems to work just fine for my family.

My primary dietary rule is:

"Never eat or drink anything that humans haven't been consuming for at least 1,000 years."

Thank god beer is way safe.

Wine too, thankfully.

NAFTA and Canadian Energy Exports

Can someone point me to a web page or quickly explain Canada's obligations under NAFTA regarding supplying the US with oil.

There is something about a 5 year export level that must be maintained by Canada for each maximum level of output.

Does this only apply raw energy exports? Is synthetic crude oil from the oil sands covered under the same agreement?

Thanks in advance.

It's not just oil, also water:

NAFTA Energy provisions:
NAFTA signed away significant control of our energy resources to the market and big oil companies. Obligations under NAFTA prevent us from ever cutting back the proportion of energy we produce and sell to the U.S., even to meet Canadians’ needs or conserve energy resources. NAFTA limits the ability of the Canadian government to impose import or export restrictions, or to intervene in energy trade except in extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, the Canadian government cannot treat foreign owners less favorably than it does domestic investors and cannot implement a two-price system for domestic use and for exports. NAFTA has contributed to a disconnection of production of energy to consumption of energy in our country, Canada produces about 40 per cent more oil than it consumes, but relies heavily on imported oil from offshore. Canada exports close to 70 per cent of the oil and 60 per cent of the natural gas we produce each year to the U.S. This is at the expense of ensuring Canadian’s energy security for basic energy needs and results in energy production greenhouse gas emissions being largely divorced from potential conservation and efficiency focused measures in Canadian energy use.


Probably the price we had to pay to retain supply management for our dairy, egg and poultry producers.

That makes it twice as bad - "supply management" of those industries has been a disaster. It has concentrated power in the hands of a few large companies, keeps the prices to consumers way high, and prevents the entry of new producers to the markets.

The end result is that the Cdn dairy/egg/poultry industries are weak, coddled and produce bulk amounts of low quality product, cannot grow their production volumes and have virtually no exports or international recognition.

The Cdn wine industry, for comparison, in the pre- free trade/NAFTA days used to to produce large amounts of low quality wine (think Baby Duck) , low exports and no international recognition. Since the protections were dropped, the Cdn wine industry has got its act together, started producing world class wines, has a thriving, growing industry with many large and small players, and anyone can start up, and take their chances.

It has been the same pattern in New Zealand since they ended their industry protection - they got their act together, improved quality and exports soared.

We would be better off if the US had insisted that supply management be dismantled, and that, fortunately is now on the table as the price of joining the http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/11/14/apec-trade-talks-could-bring-end-of-supply-management-in-canada/Trans Pacific Partnership.

Best hopes for ending this Soviet era/style cartel system.

At the risk of reviving old arguments, I must disagree re. supply management.
I trust the judgement of my late father-in-law, who was a dairyman prior to the advent of Ontario Milk Marketing Board and afterward. His on (my brother-in-law) runs the same farm today, milking about 35 cows.
They were/are honest, hard-working people, but they are by no means rich, so any notion of dairy farmers getting rich at the expense of consumers is certainly not what I perceive first-hand (their farm is just down the road from ours).

As for producing a "low quality product" their milk is tested every time the truck pulls in, with serious implications if their milk is in any way unfit. They are careful, conscientious producers.
Given what Canadian consumers pay for everything from steak to junk food, I don't think that $5 for a 4-litre bag of nutritious milk is in any way exorbitant.

As for being unable to grow production or increase exports, that is what supply management is all about: we can't have it both ways (ie. protectionism in terms of milk imports, but unrestricted production & exports).
I see nothing "Soviet" about the Cdn supply management system: given the chronic financial woes in other ag sectors (pork, beef, fruit), and the unhappy conditions which led to the need for marketing boards, the present system (which ensures that producers will receive a fair return on their labour & investment) may not be perfect, but it does provide both farmers and consumers with a stable, predictable compromise which is (on balance) to the benefit of all.

I do agree with your arguments. re. Cdn wine, which I happily support weekly.

Hi Rick,

I actually think this is truly a debate worth having (on the Cdn scale - not just you and me).

To be clear on a few things...

I am not suggesting that small family farmers were/are getting rich under this system, or that they don;t work hard. I grew up on a farm myself (Australia) and did a stint on a commercial dairy farm there.

What I am suggesting is that under the current system, the large dairy companies (mostly Quebec based, of course) are the primary beneficiaries of this system. They work in a supply regulated system - a bit like utilities - but, unlike utilities their selling prices and profits are NOT regulated.

For the producers, the quota system is like a union closed shop. If I want to start up a dairy/chicken/egg farm, I have to buy "quota" off some other producer, because some bureaucrat has decided that the ,market is "adequately supplied".

By limiting the entry of new players this severely limits competition for the big companies

Why do we need this system? We do not need it for beef, pork, wheat, rye, flax, even hemp(!), fruit, vegetables, beer, wine, lumber, paper, oil and gas, etc etc. Neither do we need it for restaurants, gas stations, day care, dog grooming or any other business you can think of. It creates a massive barrier for anyone wanting to enter the business, where in addition to the costs of setting up, they have to buy the right to produce off someone else.

AS for product, I should clarify I am not talking about the milk itself - it is as good as anywhere. It is in milk products, especially cheese, where the production is of relatively low quality cheeses. Canadian "gourmet" and "specialty" cheeses are supermarket cheeses in Aust, NZ, UK etc,

The artificially high prices of milk and cheese are like a regressive tax, that hits lower income people hardest. I am not saying the dairy farmers are making out like bandits here - I suspect your brother in law is not getting the majority of that price.

The Soviet reference is because you have the government setting the production levels - not the suppliers and consumers. i guess these days a more apt reference is China, but still. What happens if Canadians want to drink more milk and eat more cheese?

here in BC, the egg industry has been very active in playing whack-a-mole on small organic egg producers. There have been several shut down for having too many chickens and producing too many eggs. Max is 100 laying chickens before you must buy quota. The BC egg board has deemed that the "organic egg market is adequately supplied at this time" That sure sounds like Soviet style management to me, and certainly acts to protect the big producers/processors at the expense of small and new ones.

The biggest frustration is that it limits local production of these foods. Someone who wants to start up in northern BC - has to buy quota from someone in the lower mainland - they have to pay for the right to produce locally! If a town/region has no local production, and wants to change that, why should they have to pay for the right to not have imported food?

I can even stomach some level of tariff/import protection, but the quota system is positively archaic. Once it goes, I will be amongst the first to start up a small dairy/cheese and egg operation. But I resent some board controlled by government and big players telling me that the market is "adequately supplied" - that is up to the people to decide.

I will return to the wine industry as the model of choice - unrestricted in terms of imports/exports, anyone, anywhere, can start up and grow grapes and/or make wine, and sell their product wherever they like. They seem to be getting fair prices - if they weren't there wouldn't be new vineyards and wineries sprouting like mushrooms around here. Unlike dairy/chicken/egg, the wine industry has grown and now employs far more people than two decades ago, and contributes far more to the Cdn economy - the same can;t be said of the dairy/egg/poultry industries - they are in their supply managed rut and are basically legacy industries - time to throw off the chains and let them grow.

Who on the Canadian side agreed to this terrible deal?

Let's make one thing absolutely clear:

The Americans negotiated the pants off Canadians. No one is blaming the Americans for anything. Canadians did it to themselves.

That is why bulk water exports/diversions cannot be done. No link, but I believe are illegal.

It's a common myth that NAFTA requires Canada to export a certain percentage of its energy to the US in the event of a supply shortfall. This is not true. The following paper from the Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Government of Canada explains it:

Canadian Oil Exports to the United States under NAFTA

Contrary to some claims, NAFTA does not commit Canada to exporting a certain share of its energy supply to the United States regardless of Canadian needs. Canadian producers sell without restriction on the open market.

The only significant limitation NAFTA places on Canada is that it prevents the Canadian government from implementing policies that interfere with the normal functioning of energy markets in North America. Provided they have the demand and can pay the price, Canadian consumers could conceivably buy 100% of all energy produced in Canada without violating NAFTA.

The only people this really affects is some obsessive federalists who want the federal government to have total control over resources. The fact is that, under the Canadian constitution, it is the provincial governments who have control over natural resources, and they can allocate energy and water resources as they see fit.

An example is the Alberta Gas Conservation Act, which empowers the Alberta government to require export permits for natural gas. If the gas is not surplus to Alberta's needs, Alberta will curtail exports. This is not a hypothetical possibility - under it Alberta is already cutting off exports to the US since its gas production is declining.

The same applies to water. An export permit is required to export water, and since Southern Alberta is short of water, Alberta does not issue export permits.

The same applies to the other provinces. They each determine their own rules, but in general they will not allow exports of natural resources which are not surplus to their own needs.

Rocky - Been waiting for you to jump in and destroy that urban rumor. I'll go one step further and point out how Canadian producers are using NAFTA to abuse US producers. The rules allow Canada to dump that cheap tar sand oil in the US and drive down the prices US companies receive. We've pointed out for months the relatively low prices for WTI. Which is why Gulf Coast operators don't support the Keystone pipeline. Our oils are getting higher prices because that cheap Canadian oil can't make it down here. The Canadians are not getting screwed...some US producers are. The US govt has often banned dumping or at least put import tarrifs in place. The fair thing to do would be for the US govt to add an import fee to Canadian oil. But NAFTA won' allow it.

The rules allow Canada to dump that cheap tar sand oil in the US and drive down the prices US companies receive.

You realize that characterizing Canadian tar sand oil this way basically negates the entire argument of "we only have expensive oil from here on out because of that nasty expensive tar sand oil", right? You are basically saying that economies of scale, and the massive amounts of resource they have available to convert to reserves, are now price undercutting "expensive" American oil from conventional production techniques. What do you think will happen to American oil producers near the GOM when Orinoco extra-heavy begins large scale development? Then we have competition between oil produced from the two largest oil producing accumulations on the planet, and what will become of prices in America then? Drill baby drill gets replaced with campaign slogans like, "A monster truck in every garage!".

Always nice to have visitors from Fantasy Island.

Regarding the surge in Canadian production, BP puts the 2005 to 2010 increase in net oil exports from Canada at 250,000 bpd (total petroleum liquids). In order to fully offset the 5 mbpd 2005 to 2010 decline in Available Net Exports (ANE), we would have needed the incremental increase in net exports from 20 exporting regions like Canada.

Note that of the 12 net exporters that showed increasing net oil exports from 2005 to 2010 (21 of the top 33 net oil exporters showed declining net exports), only 2 were located in the Western Hemisphere, Canada & Colombia. However, combined net exports from Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil* fell from 5.1 mbpd in 2005 to 4.0 mbpd in 2010.

*I included Brazil because although the BP data set shows that their net imports of petroleum liquids are increasing, the media seem to generally believe that Brazil is a net petroleum exporter.

I'll go one step further and point out how Canadian producers are using NAFTA to abuse US producers. The rules allow Canada to dump that cheap tar sand oil in the US and drive down the prices US companies receive. We've pointed out for months the relatively low prices for WTI.

This really is quite interesting, because a real case could be made that Canada is "dumping" large quantities of oil onto US markets at less than the real market price (Brent)

This is *exactly* the argument that has been used to restrict softwood lumber imports from Can to US for decades, and that dispute resulted in an import duty on this "cheap" Cdn lumber.

Strange how the US gov doesn't treat oil in the same way and put on an import duty to prevent this awful "dumping"

Paul - Glad you recognized the sarcasm in my post. In the end it’s all about perspective, eh? And just remember my perspective is the correct one. LOL

Perspective indeed.

I have always found it interesting to look at the parallels, and hypocrisy, of the softwood lumber imports/agreement compared to the oil business.

The US lumber producers lobby created the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports to lobby for trade barriers to "subsidised" Cdn lumber;

Canadian provincial governments maintain timber-sale programs designed to sustain artificially high employment and production levels in their lumber industry. The provinces have been providing an estimated $3 to $3.5 billion U.S. dollars in annual subsidies to the Canadian lumber industry by under-pricing government timber (a Canadian taxpayer resource worth billions of dollars that virtually is being given away to a single industry), and have maintained policies which effectively prevent Canadian lumber companies from adjusting their production levels based on actual demand.

The subsidies programs are possible because the Canadian provinces own the vast bulk of merchantable timber in Canada. Managing these forests allows the provinces to set prices for public timber far below market value, thus lowering production costs for Canadian lumber companies. The government-set price of Canadian timber is only a fraction of the market-determined price of identical timber in U.S. border regions.

Does that sound at all similar to the oil biz? Large amounts of government owned oil, "sold" off to the oil co's at "low" prices This is *especially* true in the case of oilsands, which has lower royalty rates than conventional oil, and the development of the technology was subsidised by the Alberta government. Yet for some reason the US gov does not see the export of this "subsidised" oil to the US as being unfair at all.

I have nothing against your industry at all, it is the whingeing and coddling of the US lumber industry that has always amazed me, and the Cdn government's continual accession to the US on this particular issue...

It all depends upon relative political power. Also Candian oil being brought in a below (global) market artes really isn't such a threat to domestic production/profits, as we import more than half our needs. There is a price discount associated with oil trapped in the Cushing (WTI) zone, but the overall impact of that isn't too bad -and much of that is offset by the profit making opportunity for midwest refineries to but feedstock at a discount.

Again. Trade policy/decisions are never about fairness, -except in official boilerplate. They are always about raw political power.

Canada gives away its emergy. As do many other countries.


An economy is vital when it has abundant goods and resources and uses them to reinforce productivity. Energy, minerals, and information are the real wealth. It takes energy to concentrate the minerals needed by an economy. It takes energy to maintain and process information. When resources are abundant and cheap, there can be abundant wealth and a high standard of living. If resources and basic products are imported cheaply, abundant wealth is imported.

Although the market value of products and services is important to individuals and business budgets, it is largely irrelevant as a measure of wealth. A tank of gasoline drives a car the same distance regardless of what people are willing to pay for it. A day of summer sunlight generates so much corn growth regardless of whether a human thinks it's free or not. A nugget of copper concentrated by geological work will make so much electric wire regardless of its price.

When resources are abundant, wealth is great, standard of living is high, and money buys more. But when resources are abundant, market values and prices are small. Prices are not a measure of resource contribution to wealth. When resources are scarce, prices are high not only because shortages affect demand, but because more human services are required to mine, transport, or concentrate scarce resources. By the time the resources have been collected and used, the net contributions of the resource have been diminished by the extra effort to process the resources.

Figure 1 shows theeconomic interface between a typical environmental process that generates the resources and the human economy. Money circulates through the people involved in processing the resources, but no money goes to the works of the environment. The money paid is not a measure of the wealth that comes from nature's work on the left. In other words, prices are not only not a measure of the contribution of resources and commodities to an economy, they are inverse, being lowest when contributions are greatest. Another kind of measure is required for evaluating contributions to public wealth.

Value of environmental areas and products should be determined with EMERGY measures and then related to currency and international dollars on a national basis rather than using market values which mainly cover human services, often a small part of environmental products from nature.

Density of development and amount of area developed should be that which maximizes regional EMERGY and thus direct and indirect contributions to the whole economy. Maximizing market value and profit of the environmental industry may detract from the general economy, especially if there is no feedback from that industry to reinforce the input processes of the environmental systems.

Intensity of development as measured with investment ratio should not be greater thanthe typical intensity for the region as measured with EMERGY investment ratio.

Contribution of an environmental area before and after development should be compared with EMERGY evaluation and these compared with the potential developmentthathasthe national EMERGY/$ ratio.

Sales of products should be made to the local economy. If international sales are made, arrangements should be made to obtain equal EMERGY value in exchange for the environmental products or services. This may require that sales agreements include other compensations such as information, service, and military protection.


I never thought I'd see the day when a US oil man started talking about "cheap tar sand oil". It goes to show you how much the marginal cost of finding and producing a barrel of conventional oil has risen in the US.

But, yes it is true that the cost of producing oil sands is far less than the selling price. I think the cost of producing a barrel of syncrude is about $45/bbl these days and the current average selling price is about $105/bbl, so they're making about a $60 profit.

But the definition of dumping (pricing policy) is:

...any kind of predatory pricing, especially in the context of international trade. It occurs when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price either below the price charged in its home market, or in quantities that cannot be explained through normal market competition.

Now, the reality is that Canadian oil is priced at market price in both Canada and the US. Canadian prices follow US prices very closely with an offset for oil quality and transportation costs. Canadians pay significantly higher prices for fuel than Americans do, mostly due to higher taxes.

Canadian producers would like to get a higher price for their oil, but they can't physically get the oil to a seaport and put it on a tanker to a market where it could command the higher Brent prices. Due to the lack of pipelines, they are stuck with WTI prices, and that market is flooded with cheap oil - not just Canadian oil but North Dakota oil.

Putting a tariff on the Canadian oil would just boost the price to refineries that are using it. The producers would just add the tariff to the selling price. In addition, a tariff would tick off the Canadian government, which would expedite the building of pipelines to take it to the West Coast for shipment to China.

The US government had a bad experience with oil tariffs during the 1970s when the Nixon administration put an import tariff on Canadian oil to "protect" US oil. Unfortunately, it was put on just before OPEC quadrupled the price of oil, and as it turned out US oil producers could not increase production to meet demand.

All that happened, in the absence of a US supply to replace it, is that Canadian exporters added the tariff to the price of their oil, and it flowed straight to the price the consumers paid at the gas pumps. It has been described as "one of the most mindless decisions the Nixon administration ever made," and there was a lot of competition for bad decision making in that administration.

The bottom line is that a tariff on imports of Canadian oil would result in an increase in US prices and no increase in US oil production. I'm sure US oil producers would like it, but it would be very unpopular with consumers.

The producers would just add the tariff to the selling price. In addition, a tariff would tick off the Canadian government, which would expedite the building of pipelines to take it to the West Coast for shipment to China.

I think they are going to do their utmost to find export routes to the coasts. But, it is unclear if they can overcome opposition. A tarrif would be great for the US (retailiation notwithstanding), since it would be like a tax on refineries -i.e. a backdoor gasoline tax. But, I find that is highly unlikely.

Rocky - "I never thought I'd see the day when a US oil man started talking about "cheap tar sand oil". I put that in there specifically for you. An early Christmas present...you're welcome. LOL

Selling tar sand oil at US prices??? I don't think so. Setting some US prices perhaps. Tell me: if Canada stopped the flow of oil to the US tomorrow what would happen to WTI prices? As far as not hurting US producers very much: just for OK operators and assuming Cnd imports have knocked the pricing down $15/bbl that's a loss of $1 billion in revenue per year. Yeah...not a lot of money...if it's not yours. LOL. No skin of my nose: I'm still selling most of my oil for $110+/bbl.

It cuts both ways. Canadians selling oil to Cushing take a haircut, as do domestic oil companies that can't transport their oil to a better paying market. But, their loss, is largely a gain for the refiners, who are largely domestic oil companies. So they lose on the one hand, and gain on the other. If it were a pefect zerosum game, the domestics (as a group) would come out ahead, since some of the loses are being born by the Canadians.

Tell me: if Canada stopped the flow of oil to the US tomorrow what would happen to WTI prices?

If Canada stopped its exports of oil tomorrow, I thing the price of WTI would skyrocket. There would be a reversal of the Brent/WTI differential and in the short term WTI would be something like $100 higher than Brent - which I'm sure would be exciting from your perspective.

Canada currently exports about 2.6 million barrels per day of oil to the US, which is about twice as much oil as Texas produces. US domestic production could not be increased that much in the short term, or even in the long term, and imports could not be increased by that much in the short term, until more import pipelines were built.

If Canadian exports of oil suddenly ended the US would have to resort to rationing because some regions would be short 50% of their fuel supply. There would be a huge regional imbalance.

At this point in time, Canadian oil accounts roughly half the oil the Midwestern (PADD 2) refineries process. Imports from from Canada are about 1.6 million barrels per day of the 3.2 million barrels per day refined in the region.

Canadian oil also accounts for about half the oil refined in the Rocky Mountain states (PADD 4), but the volumes are much smaller - only 0.25 million bpd of a total 0.5 million bpd.

The pipeline capacity does not exist to move that much oil to the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states from other oil exporting countries, and the coastal refineries, which could increase imports, do not have enough spare capacity to make up the difference.

I hadn't run the numbers before and hadn't realized what a big proportion of the oil supply to refineries in some US States comes from Canada. I don't think many Americans realize how dependent on Canadian oil they have become. Mind you, it's a lot more secure than the supply from the Arab countries or Venezuela is.

You overlooked Gulf Coast refineries barging more product up the Mississippi. Plus some tank cars going by rail.

But it would throw logistics into turmoil.

Best Hopes for *NICE* Canadians :-))) {please}


The same applies to water. An export permit is required to export water, and since Southern Alberta is short of water, Alberta does not issue export permits.

I have always been a bit puzzled by the hysterical opposition to water exports to the US.
We are busy exporting a non renewable resource - oil and gas- while one that gets renewed every year - water - is not exported and treated as if it is non-renewable.

A really good scheme to bring water from the Athabasca to southern Alberta would be great for agriculture there, and excess could be sold to either the US or (most likely) Saskatchewan.

Just like oil, northern Alberta has plenty of water, and the south has little - that hasn't stopped oil exports, so why not water too?

As for the plans to take water to Ca by ship, as unrealistic as they are, they can always do that from the coastal rivers in Alaska to get around the Cdn issue. but it will be cheaper to desal seawater in Ca long before it is worth bringing water by ship. For reference, raw water (like irrigation water) in southern Ca trades at about $1000 per acre-foot, which is 326,000 gal. That works out to about $0.135/barrel, and with a large crude carrier (for comparison) holding about 2m barrels, it could hold all of $270k worth of water. I don;t know what these ships cost to operate but that doesn't seem like a lot for what would be a ten day round trip, with no possibility of a backload.

Thanks for pointing out the common misconceptions about NAFTA's terms. Probably worth adding that if Canada finds the terms odious, they can withdraw completely after giving six months notice.

No one has a clue! #OccupyYourNeighborhood

the dirty little secret that has been swept under the rug in all the excitement of the Occupy protests -- namely, that the main call of the Occupy movement, creating financial equality, does absolutely nothing to address the most important issues facing our society at this perilous moment, that is, the threats posed by climate change, biosphere collapse, fresh water scarcity, overpopulation, peak oil, and the numerous other related crises.

The Occupiers don't have a clue, the President doesn't have a clue, the Presidential Candidates don't have a clue, Washington doesn't have a clue, the top one percent doesn't have a clue, no one has a clue.

We're doomed.

Ron P.

Interesting point of view, but I wonder if at some level he just wants them to go away?

I would argue that Occupy's visibility would evaporate overnight if it were scaled down to the community level. And,to some degree the US has had a groundswell of sustainability and localisation for a good long while with little or no effect on the powers that be.

That's about it Ron, our world is turning toxic around us and we don't have a clue. Everything we put our trust in and thought was correct and right is turning out to be wrong and threatening our very existence. Due to normalcy bias, we're rooted to the spot neither believing in what is about to happen to us nor prepared for it.

I have a clue, I know very well what is going on. But I do not know what to do. Even if we got the entire worldpopulation on the train tomorrow morning, I still don't see this as solvable any longer. Climate change has gone to far already, and we are in the grip of a declining oil civilization. I share the basic analysis of the Dark Green terrorist movement, although I do not endorse the terrorism part.

So I ask this question; once we recognize the problem, what do we do about it?

Hi jedi

For the sake of brevity, could you please check out the end of this post here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8585/852011.

It seems this idea cannot hurt and may help a whole lot.

There's a lot we can do. An approach from several directions. We know what works, pop. (women's right and educ.); sustainable ag; looking at infrastructure and how to meet basic needs, with less - (or no?) - energy. (gulp.) Is it possible to have an electricity (thus, renewable) basis for industry and making use of any part of what is currently functioning as the built environment? These are questions the scientific community (in the form of the National Academy of Sciences) can address, post-haste.

Human rights - and how to promote them, the rule of law; less use of military might. There's a lot we know; still, the resources are poured into military hardware, etc.

I am leaning towards that even if all humans left the planet in a big giant space ship, we would still have caused runnaway climate change based on the emissions already made. The oceans provdes a 30-year lag effect to climate change, and we already see how methane is leaking from tundras. Etc, etc. We should have made those changes about 20 or 30 years ago at the latest.

Well the OWS people basically don't get it. You see, what they are supposed to do is sit at home with Pepsi and Cheetos and Prozac and 500 cable channels and movies on demand and video games and be happy with that. They are supposed to accept their corporate jobs, which provide just enough to pay for this. And if they can't get a job, they are supposed to be happy with section 8 and food stamps to help them out.

The fix is in, folks. It's not inspiring, but it is what it is, and to a large extent it works. Either this, or we die in some resource war somewhere.

OWS to me is the 99% trying to get the 1% to share their wealth...

Money=energy=stuff... More stuff. They want more stuff. Everyone wants more stuff. 99% of the people want the 1% to give them more stuff. Reminds me of the Grinch (its the holiday season):

"That's what it's all about right? That's what it's always been about! Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts! Do you know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me...in your garbage. Do you see what I'm saying here? IN YOUR GARBAGE! I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump! And the avarice...[points to mayor] The avarice never ends! "I want golf clubs!" "I want diamonds!" "I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored, and send it away to make glue!" Look, I don't wanna make waves here, but this WHOLE Christmas season is STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! ..."

We're running out of energy and its only going to get worse. These folks better figure out how to live with less.

Well, I think everyone needs to figure that out, but in the meantime, any public policy that could be helping the 99% be able to enact a healthy, egalitarian approach towards various facets of this challenge are either outshouted by FOX and FIENDS, or are called Undemocratic and Socialist (IE Healthcare and Employee Bargaining Deals) by the Rich and the Corporate Media.

It's really not the Neckties and the Golfclubs.. those are real and they are terrible symptoms of a system addicted to overconsumption.. but people who are screaming 'Jane, get me off this crazy thing!' shouldn't just be slammed because they have treadmills, and can't complain..

You might go back to the original Grinch to remember that (commie pinko) ideal that was put before us initially, before Ron Howard and Co. took the more desperate route to try to make the point..

"That's a Sound, said the Grinch, that I simply MUST hear,
and He paused, and the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
and he did hear a sound coming over the Snow, it started in low, then it started to Grow..
But this sound wasn't sad, why this sound sounded Merry! It couldn't be so, but it was merry, Very!

All the Who's down in Whoville, the tall and the small, were SINGING, without any presents at all!
He didn't stop Christmas from coming, it Came! Somehow or other, it came just the same!

He stood with his Grinch-feet Ice-cold in the snow, "Christmas has come, how could it be so?"
"It came without boxes, it came without bags, It came without packages, tinsel or tags!"

And he puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore, then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before,
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "DOESN'T come from a store. Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, means a Little Bit More!"

And What happened then, well in Who-ville they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew THREE Sizes that day!

(That was no cut and paste, Entirely from memory.. hope it's mostly right! ) It's worth remembering what's worth remembering!


Thank you for this. It warmed my cold, grinchy heart immensely. And this . . .

people who are screaming 'Jane, get me off this crazy thing!' shouldn't just be slammed because they have treadmills

. . . is so true. I know a lot of nursing friends right now working in hospitals who can't get off the treadmill, can't slow down, and are leading quiet lives of desperation as things get worse and worse. More hierarchy, more bureaucracy, more authoritarian control, more conflict, more rules, more computerization. Less patient time, less caring, less breaks, less autonomy. We are now at the point of sitting with our backs to the patient while we tap a keyboard to fill in a checklist or swipe a barcode to hand out a pill. We are dancing to the drumming of the military-industrial complex, and we'll dance until the flywheel snaps. Nurses and patients are cogs in the factory assembly line. The hospital bureaucracy is the floor manager. Doctors are customers, and the insurance industry and big Pharma are the owners. Each action that we take as cogs in the corporate system sends money shooting up the pyramid to come spitting out the top, and the owners take the money and buy meaningless luxury goods in a frantic race for status. Each year brings new feedback loops that add more technology, more power, more rules, more useless hierarchy, more medication, more insurance administration, and less patient care. If you can't get off the assembly line at this point, you probably need medication. And you're probably getting meds, if the Pharma sales numbers are to be believed.

What happens when the ponzi scheme blows up, the money stops, and the status shifts? There will be a LOT of people standing around scratching their heads wondering "Who moved my cheese?"

Below, from my dissertation, what happens to the spinning flywheel over time.

Regarding JM Greer's article above:

"Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this trap. The most obvious, and most basic, is to go out of your way to spend more time contemplating what you value than what you oppose. It’s not necessary to have a comprehensive plan for a better world already in mind, since the levels of your brain and nervous system that respond to contemplation with imitation don’t need abstract plans, and can’t really use them. What they need are good clear images that express the values you want to cultivate."

The last sentence is, I believe, key to maintaining some foundation of mental well-being as the events of the world and environment take its toll on all of us. Perhaps one must limit the time one dwells on PO and debt folly....stupid politics, included. It is also important to have a vision that is unwavering, and each daily task is spent walking/working in the shadow of that vision; for it often seems to be a mountain and we are somewhere in shadow.

I know many of you do this. Sometimes the vision is terrible, and folks spend many hours explaining to others the facts and quotas inherent in that vision hoping to prepare others for a probable future. (Thanks Ron). Others are like Dragnet, "just the facts, ma'am", and explain to outsiders the intricacies of the oil biz or science and research. The list is an endless recount of posts.

However, it is vital for family and loved ones to appreciate your raison..... and know that each day expresses 'cultivated values'. This unwavering conviction sensed by others is a great source of strength and displays leadership going forward.

Best of luck. Now for the bread to rise, the starter to change, and guy wires installed on the new chimney before the 50 kt winds hit this afternoon. (I guess, like Todd, I value chores, work, and being prepared). Sometimes it's fun being a scout.


Thank you for this, Paulo. We need new visions, new religions, new value systems, and new principles. The values on this board run the gamut, but the value I see most on display is IBGYBG--I'll be gone, you'll be gone. And then there's DNCN--doing nothing costs nothing. And then there's IGM--I got mine. Whatever happened to the 10 commandments? I guess they went out the window along with the heat from burning the fossil fuels.

On this Sunday morning, here are several of my favorite examples just waiting for the right impetus; ten new commandments, three new ethics, and 12 principles.

1. Thou shall not waste potential energy.
2. Thou shall know what is right by its part in survival of thy system.
3. Thou shall do unto others as best benefits the energy flows of thy system.
4. Thou shall revel in thy systems work rejoicing in happiness that only finds thee in this good service.
5. Thou shall treasure the other life of thy natural system as thine own, for only together shall thee all survive.
6. Thou shall judge value by the energies spent, the energies stored, and the energy flow which is possible, turning not to the incomplete measure of money.
7. Thou shall not unnecessarily cultivate high power, for error, destruction, noise, and excess vigilence are its evil wastes.
3. Thou shall not take from man or nature without returning service of equal value, for only then are thee one.
9. Thou shall treasure thy heritage of information, and in the uniqueness of thy good works and complex roles will thy system reap that which is new and immortal in thee.
10. Thou must find in thy religion, stability over growth, organization over competition, diversity over uniformity, system over self, and survival process over individual peace.

Howard T. Odum: „Environment, Power, and Society“, 1971, 244.

Central to permaculture are the three ethics: care for the earth, care for people and fair share. They form the foundation for permaculture design and are also found in most traditional societies.

Ethics are culturally evolved mechanisms that regulate self-interest, giving us a better understanding of good and bad outcomes. The greater the power of humans, the more critical ethics become for long-term cultural and biological survival.

Permaculture ethics are distilled from research into community ethics, learning from cultures that have existed in relative balance with their environment for much longer than more recent civilisations. This does not mean that we should ignore the great teachings of modern times, but in the transition to a sustainable future, we need to consider values and concepts outside the current social norm.

Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.

Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.

Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.

Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.

Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.

Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.

Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
(from Holmgren)


We can choose to be the change we wish to see in the world. I am online this morning hiding from the cold and dark that Anchorage is dishing out. But I will go work on the innards of our new attached greenhouse, and go for a ski later on. Being a scout is fun--people are starting to notice

Newt's idea to attack unemployment: Expand the labor pool by eliminating child labor laws...


I wonder where Newt would place the bounds on his idea: He mentioned 9-10-year olds working...why not 8 or 7-year olds? I bet 5-6 year-olds might be able to do something to earn a few pennies and earn their full citizenship as well!

He mentions cleaning schools...what other jobs might children be enticed/compelled to undertake? Maybe working in shirt factories with the exit doors chained shut?

I'll bet dollars to donuts he will advocate paying sub-minimum wage as well...maybe payment will be in comics books and candy?

Maybe if the kiddos get behind on their production quotas they can be motivated with the baton, or if they sit down on the job, pepper-sprayed?

As for working in schools (and other places of work)...I wonder how many of the 'Master Janitors' he mentions (to oversee the flies doing the scrub work) will end up in 'Sundusky Heaven'?

Just what we need, Newt...with upwards to 10% unemployment (U3) and a considerably higher U6 rate, with all these adults out of work...add children to the labor pool to work for dirt!

Maybe we can form the 'Young Republican Youth Worker Brigades'...'Servitude is Freedom!'

If folks want to have their squids work in the home or on the family farm, go right ahead...but turning kids loose to be in the loving arms of the corporate sweatshops?

C'mon Republicans, is this suite of losers the best you got?

Probably their best candidate, John Huntsman, is the most ignored.

Their most out-of-the box candidate (for both Rs and D's), Ron Paul, is also ignored...hard to say much when you get 89 seconds to talk in a debate! Heck, Paul might also relax child labor laws, but he would whack the government expenditures, including MIC expenditures, which is exactly why he is marginalized...

... what other jobs might children be enticed/compelled to undertake?

Oskar Schindler: Their fingers polish the inside of shell metal casings. How else am I to polish the inside of a 45 millimeter shell casing? You tell me. You tell me! ...

"C'mon Republicans, is this suite of losers the best you got?"

I wonder if it does not matter?
I wonder if the fix is in, the election rigged, the results already known...
And this is just a sick, sadistic circus?
The plan may be to let the current president continue his role
as the fall-guy.

The fix is surely in, just maybe not the one the overlords have in mind.

I think the one we talk about here overrides those shiny illusions with the unadulterated voting power of physics..

"You know what makes that rocket ship of yours go up?" ('Sure, Funding, Bucks, Roger that... but ultimately, fuel.')

"C'mon Republicans, is this suite of losers the best you got?"

IMO this cycle's crop is the weirdest I've ever seen from either moiety of the duality, even aside from this latest brainstorm. After all we've now seen two remarkable cases of catatonia. I'm baffled as to how one gets to be governor of Texas or CEO of a major outfit without learning to manage stage fright; after all one must cope with it merely, say, to complain at a public hearing, run for small-town mayor, or even sing in a church choir. Surely someone among all those high-priced "consultants" and "handlers" must have a "solution" on hand.

Of course in the case of Texas, we're almost dealing with a foreign country, LOL, so maybe Rockman, as TOD ambassador, can speculate at least with respect to Rick Perry's ascent.

Little steps...

Powering toward the future

Wednesday workers from Georgia Power visited the Rigas Road home of Norman Race and his wife Susan Beger to connect their electric meter to a newly installed array of photovoltaic (PV) modules, or solar panels.

According to Race, in just a few minutes the technicians wirelessly calibrated their home electric meter from a laptop so it will log the amount of solar energy being harnessed by the solar panels. Race and Beger are excited about being able to supplement their electrical needs with solar energy from the sunlight their own backyard, and they say Georgia Power is enthusiastic as well because these are the first grid-connected panels in Sumter County.


"The price of energy is only going up. For decades we in America have enjoyed inexpensive energy, not taking into account the high cost to the environment and health," Race said.

Race and Beger say that solar's popularity is on the rise and it has less problems than energy sources such as coal and nuclear. However, they realize solar will continue to be a supplemental energy source for a while.

See: http://americustimesrecorder.com/local/x229372013/Powering-toward-the-fu...

Bigger steps...

Solar Capital? It Could Be Vineland, NJ

Vineland, N.J., solar-power capital? It appears to be true. The city and developer Constellation Energy have announced the completion of a combined 6.5-megawatt (MW) solar generation project. The project includes two ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) plants – a 4-MW system in West Vineland and a 2.5-MW system in North Vineland. Together, the systems consist of nearly 27,900 PV panels, and are expected to generate approximately 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

And get this: That brings the city’s total solar generating capacity to an impressive 24 MW, including the 4-MW Vineland Solar One (pictured below). According to Joseph Isabella, director of Vineland Public Utilities, the city’s Vineland Municipal Electric Utility (VMEU) – the only municipal utility in New Jersey – boasts an average of 428 watts of solar energy for each of its 25,000 customers. That’s over 10 times more solar per customer than in Silicon Valley, according to the News of Cumberland County

See: http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/11/solar-capital-it-could-be-vineland-nj/

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.



Thanks for this...This should go on bill boards on I-25 and I-40 around Albuquerque...we have 310 days of unfettered sunshine every year (or so I hear)...we have a solar company named '310 solar'...it is pretty embarrassing to hear that a city in NJ is claiming the mantle of U.S. 'solar capital'...we have a DOE PV outdoor 'lab' right here on Kirtland AFB...

I wonder how much power we could produce if we put PV arrays over as little as 25% of our parking lots....gee, let us start with all the long-term parking lots around the aptly-named Albuquerque 'SunPort'...then the parking lots on Kirtland AFB...then the lots at the three huge malls (including the one that is all-but closed, but used extensively for movie shoots on the inside...

Please keep us informed as you are able with your busy schedule...

Some of these are a bit pathetic. certainly the Georgia power story, the first in an entire country? How behind the times. I suspect Albuquerque isn't much better, despite its great insolation. Of course Hatch NM is powering up its CPV plant (5MW IRC), which for a short while will be the largest CPV plant in the world. I think Alamosa has a 20MW plant going up, which should soon eclipse Hatch.

I suspect it mainly has to do with incentives. New Jersey has a very generous (I would say ridiculous) renewable energy credit, which makes investing in PV too good to pass up despite the lousy insolation. Where I live (far east Bay area), rooftop PV is a marginal investment unless you are a powerhog, but at least they are going up. Today makes 2years plus 2days for mine. I suspect under PNM, it doesn't pay enough to make it a good investment -unless personal satisfaction is factored in. Most of the installations I see around here, I think are more about saving money than saving the planet, so if that is what drives installation it shouldn't be surprising that some areas are so far behind the curve.

Hi EoS,

Just to clarify this point, the article states that these are "the first grid-connected panels in Sumter County", not the entire country.


Time to start a friendly rivalry, H. Admittedly, ten GWh is a speck of sand on an endless beach in the great scheme of things, but it's enough energy to power 53,000 of the 160,000 LED street lights that will be installed in this province over the next five years.

On Friday I stopped in at two of our job sites.... the first is a small, family-owned paint store where we're replacing thirty 4-lamp T12 troffers with new 3-lamp T8 lay-ins for a 3.0 kW reduction in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_0705.jpg

The other is a vehicle maintenance facility where three hundred 400-watt metal halides are being replaced by 6-lamp T8 high bays, for a 70.0 kW drop in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_0690.jpg

When we complete work at this second site we will have bagged over half a million kWh a year in energy savings.


Very cool!

You and your work mates are certainly a beacon of hope, lighting the way for us Yankees in case we someday get serious about creating negawatts!

Sorry about the lighting puns...couldn't resist...


- If LEDs ever became the same price per lumen (correct measurement?) as T8s, would that merit replacing T8 lighting with LEDs?

- Are there any lighting technologies being worked which are significantly more efficient and perhaps longer-lasting than LEDs

- Are LEDs and PV panels sort of mirror image applications of the photo electric effect (one converts electricity to photons and the other vice versa)? If so, does the theoretical efficiency of one process shed any light (sorry) on the theoretical efficiency of the other? What are these theoretical efficiencies (LED, PV)?

- Is that you on the ladder in the paint store pic?


Hi H,

There's a steady stream of LED fixtures entering the market but their cost is prohibitive. A standard 3-lamp prismatic troffer fitted with 28-watt high performance T8s and a 0.88 BF NEMA Premium ballast supplies about 6,600 lumens net after subtracting luminaire losses -- at about $40.00 a pop. I'm guessing that an LED fixture of comparable output such as a CREE CR24 (www.creeledlighting.com/Products/Architectural-Troffers/CR24.aspx) will set you back at least five to ten times that. Note too that when your T8 lamps fail (and the Philips lamps that we use have a nominal service life of 40,000 hours) you simply swap them out for a fresh set at a buck or two each. This CREE fixture is reportedly good for 50,000+ hours, provided plenum temperatures stay within their prescribed limits, but what do you do then? Do you call an electrician to install a new one and chuck out the old? If so, that's a pretty pricey proposition. The one big plus for LED fixtures is that they're dimmable and thus suitable for use with occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting controls. If you desire similar capability from your T8 fluorescents, you'll have to fork over another $80.00 to $100.00 per fixture for a dimmable electronic ballast. No doubt the gap will narrow over time, but there's still a long way to go yet.

In terms of new technology, the bulk of the R+D spending is on LEDs so that's a pretty clear indicator of where the lighting industry is heading. That's not to say that linear fluorescent and metal halide lighting is "dead-end"; rather, that they're both technologically mature and well-established in the marketplace and that any future gains in performance are likely to be modest.

I believe that the theoretical limit in white LED luminous efficacy is in the vicinity of 260 lumens per watt, although to maintain an acceptable CRI the final number is likely to come in lower. I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable about PVs and I couldn't really say whether advancements in one would have a direct bearing on the other (I suspect not). Hopefully another forum member can help us out on this.

Actually, that's one of our electricians on the ladder; they feel it wise to keep me away from power tools and electricity.

For the truly brave: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Moi.jpg

Damn, those GE lamps leave a nasty taste in one's mouth.

BTW, last week we were talking about whole home backup generators. I see that the home for sale just down from us has one (www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11256729&PidKey=1764479048).


Paul, thank you for the great info...that house sure looks nice, but I better win the lottery first!


Interestingly, if you shine a light into an LED, it makes electricity.
Ten LEDs in series can generate enough voltage to turn on most MOSFET transistor switches directly from light.
I never fully did the experiment to see if red LEDs are sensitive to red light, green to green, blue to blue...

Plasma devices are one possibility:
This is a tiny bulb with radio-frequency excitation and, so, no electrodes.

Here is a roundup of plasma lighting devices:


Thank for the great info.

The last link is a nice survey of some current and potential lighting choices.

SO, If LEDs can make electricity when exposed to light, can PV cells emit light when electricity is run through them? :)

Actually, they can and do.

There are two mechanisms. Put current through in the 'forward' direction (as a diode) and you get infrared, same as with an LED but longer wavelength since it's silicon. Put a couple of, say, 10cm- or 15cm-square Si cells face to face, put a couple of amps (current-limited) through one, and you'll get a little current out of the other. But the transfer efficiency is usually remarkably poor, so it may only be microamps, and since the shunt resistance is usually low you'll need an ultra-low-drop ammeter to measure the current.

The other mechanism is zener light. Take, say, a 10cm- or 15cm-square polycrystalline cell - especially one of the older ones that shows obvious, glittering blue crystal grains - and put a couple of amps (current-limited) through it in the 'reverse' direction (as a diode.) It will likely drop around seven volts (which is what often happens with a Si junction that nobody's actually trying to control for zener voltage), and, in the dark, it will look like a dim constellation since there will be white zener light emitted here and there from point sources at grain boundaries, i.e. at the spots where zener breakdown is actually occurring. The efficiency will likely be absolutely awful, in the parts per billion range, which is just as well since part of the light will be ultraviolet ranging down to about 200nm, and it would be a serious eye hazard at decent efficiency.


Once again, thanks for the very informative post!

Are you a EE or a physicist?

By education, physicist with EE minor.

SO, If LEDs can make electricity when exposed to light, can PV cells emit light when electricity is run through them? :)

Yes, though with silicon the light is infrared, since the bandgap is 1.1 electron volts.

This electro-luminescence is used to inspect cells (or modules) by some, particularly in research.
It can be done steady state, or pulsed. A current is run through a cell/module, which is imaged by an infrared camera.


image of a cell linked from the above page:

Your next question is: "So, if electricity is running through PV cells when they're making electricity, do they also (re)emit (infrared) light?"
Yes, this is called "radiative recombination", and any of those photons that escape the cell are lost energy. Fortunately, this issue is not a large one for crystalline silicon cells (due to their indirect band gap/low absorbancy), and good texture/anti-reflective coatings also help with photon recycling.


You read my mind re: my next question,,,,

Thank you for your clear explanation, and the fine pic.

You and several others on this list should be teachers (maybe some of you are?)...

A picture is worth a thousand words - thanks.


Are LEDs and PV panels sort of mirror image applications of the photo electric effect (one converts electricity to photons and the other vice versa)?

Just a nit-pick here H...

Solar panels use the photovoltaic effect, which is actually different to the photoelectric effect. Both result in electrons being given off when light (of high enough energy level) impinges on them, but the mechanisms are different.

From Wikipedia on the PV effect;

Though the photovoltaic effect is directly related to the photoelectric effect, they are different processes. In the photoelectric effect, electrons are ejected from a material's surface upon exposure to radiation. The photovoltaic effect differs in that electrons are transferred between different bands (i.e., from the valence to conduction bands) within the material, resulting in the buildup of voltage between two electrodes.[1]

You can make a PE cell, and you need to have the metal in a vacuum, and an electrode to catch the ejected electrons. This can and has been done, but it is clearly not as simple as thin slices of silicon.

The LED is indeed a "photoelectric effect in reverse", as electrons are pushed across a gap, and give up energy as light. You can reverse this process, shining concentrated light and you will get a current, but it is not very efficient.

There have been attempts to develop commercial photoelectric cells, but, clearly none have made it to market yet.
IF they could be made reliable, efficient etc, they would be an interesting alternative for concentrating solar plants, with the potential to eliminate the heat transfer fluids. But if anyone is working on they aren't saying much.


Thanks for taking the time to shine some light on that for me!

Makes me want to go to a nice research campus and experiment with these types of things...

Some opportunities for some bright, ambitious, hard-working younger folks to work on...

"commercial photoelectric cells"

Well, out of curiosity I tried this with a 1P39 phototube and the efficiency with incandescent light was on the order of 0.0002%. The quantum efficiency of the cathode, being probably three or four orders of magnitude better than that, is apparently not the limitation. So I suspect they'll have a great deal of research to do with respect to capturing the electrons efficiently, if such a thing is even possible when using such an assembly as a voltage source.

After all the space charge will always tend to push the electrons back to where they came from. Traditionally a high voltage was applied to overcome that effect, which is fine when using the device as a light detector, but renders it worse than useless as an energy converter.

they'll have a great deal of research to do


This company started down this path over a decade ago, and they are still not close to commercial production.


now that I know you are a physicist and EE type, I'd be interested in your take on their "improved" electric motors;


multi-phase motors, with windings connecting inverter terminals to each other, not to ground.

Different connections are like different "gear" ratios.

17 phase motors, next logical advancement.

Don't be to quick to condemn the concept. Strictly speaking, it is a 17 pole motor, not 17 phase.

There are many motors that use lots of poles to good effect. This motor has become the standard for washing machines worldwide, and uses 36poles (used to be 42) - it has become a favourite for experimenters to re-wire as a wind or hydro generator, and can be done to maximise low or high rpm performance.

More info here;

At least these are real attempts at innovation, not things like "financial innovation", so lets see what they come up with.

OK, I haven't studied it in detail, and what they're doing is somewhat obscured by invented nomenclatural gobbledygook - which seems to be an occupational disease of startups, both those that eventually produce something real, and those that sell perpetual-motion machines to chumps. However, if they can find a sweet spot between optimizing torque curves and optimizing the cost and complexity of the electronic controls, they might well have something useful for some markets. I.e. on its face it looks like something someone should have thought of some time ago - and they almost certainly did, but maybe the controls turned out too expensive - at the time - for the benefit delivered. (Brings to mind the absurd conceptual patent on intermittent windshield wipers, a good and blindingly obvious concept from the very day windshield wipers were invented, but impractical to implement until much later.)

The still-declining cost of electronics works in their favor. The extra eddy-current loss incurred by raising AC frequencies, or extra fabrication cost of workarounds, i.e. thinner laminations, more highly processed steels or more exotic materials, etc., may go against them under some circumstances.

A bigger wild card for the economics may be what happens to the price of rare-earth metals, since one well-known partial alternative to complexifying the controls is to strengthen the magnetic fields. As my chemistry professors repeatedly observed, rare earths are not rare. (This can't be emphasized strongly enough to the running-out-of-everything-by-tomorrow-morning types.) The issue with rare earths is that chemically they all act virtually alike, which makes the separation plants a serious expense and bottleneck. (There's also a political problem in that laws and regulations create a tremendous bias in favor of old (iron) mines and against new (rare-earth) ones, but I suppose that after enough people freeze to death some winter, or cook to death some summer, the political bottleneck might be blown open if it is seen as having aggravated the problem.)

There is also work going on to reduce the dependence on rare earths by improvements in ferrites. There seems to be good progress in this.



Thanks for your thoughts. I was actually in contact with this company a few years ago, about one of their motors as a generator for a small hydro project. They said it would be a few % points more efficient than normal, and run cooler if in a hot environment (it wasn't) but they said the real advantage of their system was in the fluctuating load situation - ideal for traction motors and wind turbines.

Their tech presentation - of you didn;t look at it, seems pretty good, but then I'm a civil engineer, not an elec, so the stuff on harmonics etc is over my head. Though, given that I am now moving into the renewable electricity field, I should get up to speed on it.


The high torque at low rpms is exactly what ev's and the like need, though my understanding is that DC motors already do that, but at lower overall efficiency than AC

The LED is indeed a "photoelectric effect in reverse" ...

This should be "photoVOLTAIC effect in reverse",
since the charge carriers (electrons and holes) are traveling in a solid material,
the "gap" being the bandgap, not a physical gap.


Hmmm, the wiki page on LEDs is wrong-ish w.r.t. silicon and germanium.
(It's correct for the basic LED physics of carriers annihilating in radiative recombination).
Silicon and germanium do indeed emit (infrared) light, just very very poorly
(since they are indirect bandgap materials -> low generation rates, with high indices of refraction -> low escape rates).

Is there a consensus, based on our knowledge of how photovoltaics work, on the theoretical maximum efficiency of such devices?

IIRC, the best 'lab' efficiency obtained to-date has been ~ 41%?

Well, this gets slightly complicated, because different notions of "theoretical" come into play. For example the effective temperature of sunlight might approximate its color temperature, say 5500K. That implies very roughly 95% conversion to electricity here on Earth at say 290K. (The flip side being that the efficiency of an LED might in principle exceed 100% by a hair.)

However, this simplistic view isn't useful in the real world as currently known. A simple junction device - e.g. a typical simple PV cell of any material - has just one terminal voltage, which is somewhat related to the material bandgap (1.24V for silicon). The voltage potentially produced by light in such a junction is inversely proportional to the wavelength (divide 1380V-nm by the wavelength in nm to get the voltage.) Light which is too long-wave to energize electrons to the terminal voltage goes unused and usually passes through. Light which is shorter-wave than that produces only the terminal voltage, with the extra energy going unused. So if the bandgap is very small, nearly all the light might be used, but the terminal voltage is low. If the bandgap is very large, the voltage is high but the current is low. Somewhere in between there is a sweet spot, and silicon is easy to fabricate and not too terribly awful.

The high lab efficiencies have mainly been obtained by stacking junctions, high bandgap on the outside. Since the different junctions will produce different amounts of currents, one needs converters to get everything matched up and obtain optimum output. Another approach is to arrange the material in such a way that a photons of at least twice the bandgap energy, will produce two (or more if energetic enough) electrons instead of just one. This often tends to involve quantum dots or other nanostructures, and producing such things of sufficient quality by the square kilometer is still problematical. The expense of complicated materials can be mitigated by concentrating the light, but then one is of course into mirrors, motors, and other such complexity, which imposes costs of its own, especially in places where there might be high wind, ice and snow, etc., and which doesn't work as well in hazy sunlight.

I suspect that good-quality but practical PV will remain in the 18-25% ballpark for quite some time yet.


Thank you for your explanation.

Also, to NAOM below, thank you for your recommendation to read the article!

The site sunnv ripped the picture above has an awful lot of good information on it. Take some time to read it up.


Incidentally, I'm part way through converting about half of our domestic lighting to LED. I found some cheap Toshiba 3000K LEDs at Polar-Ray. But alas, it was a closeout sale on the particular bulb (I was getting the 7watt bulbs for $9.99), but now they've been sold out, and I haven't seen any other deals remotely comparable. So the general conclusion that LEDs are for the most part too pricy for anything other than specialty uses still seems to be true.

I read recently that Toshiba had discontinued its production of incandescent lamps back in March 2010 after 120 years of cranking them out at as many as 900 per second ! I also understand that they are the first lamp manufacturer to do this.

Meanwhile, its arch-rival, Panasonic, has introduced an LED lamp that mimics the appearance of a conventional household incandescent almost down to a "T". However, at just 210 lumens (48 lumens/watt), light output is roughly comparable to that of a 25-watt soft-white incandescent.

See: www.jetsongreen.com/2011/11/led-bulb-with-filament-bulb-appearance.html


I hope that makers will produce the cooler white bulbs as well as the incandescent equivalent. The warm ones just look muddy to me especially 2700k.



As you probably know, almost everywhere you go in Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and Asia 5000K dominates, but I'm guessing that this one will be 2700K only given the context.

The Philips 12.5-watt EnduraLED A19 produces a beautiful rich incandescent-like light but I would never consider it for exposed or decorative applications given its unconventional design (nor this: http://www.gizmag.com/ledo-bulled-led-bulbs/20542/picture/148048/). However, this Toshiba lamp would do the job nicely.


I don't find the ones around 4000K too bad but 2700K really warps colours for me. Those LEDO bulbs are something else. I think we will certainly see some interesting results as competition between the big guys gets going. My big hope though is that they try and get away from the old format and produce new ideas such as flat but wide angle emitters/fittings combinations, roughly along the lines of the circular fluorescent tube style but with more variety. With such a different technology available there is a huge opening for design.


Wow - so the new fixtures use 170W instead of 400W - 28W T8 bulbs?

They must love the $$$ savings from that - 70 kW 10 hours a day, 20 days a week is 14 MWh / month - proabably at least $1,400 / month or so in savings.

Even 3kW of your small retrofit - they're running those lights 10 hours a day 6 days a week that's 720 kWh / month or probably $72 / month. Not to mention T8s generally produce better light.

With big warehouses I always wonder why they don't opt for commercial grade SolaTube along with smart lighting fixtures that adjust auxiliary lights based on available sunlight...

Hi drees,

These 6-lamp high bays are fitted with 32-watt 850 series T8s driven by two 1.15 BF electronic ballasts, and so total fixture draw is 222-watts or a little less than half that of the probe-start metal halides they replace (455-watts with CWA ballasts). These lights operate 24-hours a day for about six months of the year and an average of ten hours a day over the remainder. I'm told that there are three thousand employees that work at this facility which consists of five main buildings and a number of out buildings (the picture you see is one of the work bays at Building "A").

I took a look at our lighting proposal for the paint store. The original lighting load as estimated at 10.3 kW and the new system drops this down to 3.4 kW, for a two-thirds reduction (we also replaced their 50-watt PAR30 halogen track heads with Philips 12-watt EnduraLED LEDs). Their estimated lighting usage was pegged at 38,844 kWh/year and, post retrofit, this falls to 12,757 kWh. At the 80 per cent incentive level, the simple payback is just 3-months.


Huge-scale Saharan solar energy project could provide Spain with electricity by 2015

The grandest renewable energy project of the modern age, Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), is scheduled to get underway in Morocco next year and, if its deadlines are met, is meant to start supplying Spain with solar-powered electricity between 2015 and 2016.
The project, spearheaded by German companies E.ON, Siemens and Deutsche Bank - with participation from the Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica and Italian and French firms - will eventually consist of a sea of solar panels in the Sahara stretching from Morocco to Egypt.

The choice of Morocco for the inaugural phase of the project - made, according to Desertec, because it is stable, has already begun its own renewables program and is linked to Europe via two submarine cables - was not received well in Algeria, which has the largest expanse of desert in North Africa and was the first point of contact when Desertec began making inquiries in the region. That Morocco was selected "illustrates the chaotic management on this matter by the Algerian authorities," according to the website Tout Sur l'Algérie,

In six hours, the Sahara receives as much solar energy as is consumed in a year by the entire planet.

Après avoir pris Renault, le Maroc s’empare de Desertec
L'Algérie victime de l'indécision de ses gouvernants

Après avoir réussi à attirer Renault dans l’industrie automobile, le Maroc s’empare de Desertec et prend de l’avance sur l’Algérie dans les énergies renouvelables. La première centrale solaire pilote de Desertec sera en effet implantée au Maroc.

"After their success in getting Renault, Morocco surpasses Algeria in renewable energies".

The wording in the call out box below troubles me:

In six hours, the Sahara receives as much solar energy as is consumed in a year by the entire planet. By 2050, it is estimated DII could supply 15 percent of Europe's entire energy needs.

In the shorter term, from 2015 part of this energy will be sold on the Moroccan market and part in Spain, which currently relies heavily on Algerian gas exports.

If the entire Sahara receives in 6 hours (let's call that the useful time period per day for solar energy production) as the entire //planet// consumes in //one year//...then why, by 2050, is this project estimated to only provide 15% of Europe's energy needs?

Is the issue that Europe's energy needs are estimated to increase greatly by 2050?

And/or...will MENA's electricity needs greatly increase by 2050 as well? What about the rest of Africa South of the Sahara?

I would ask the folks who built this estimate to answer this question: From what sources will the other 85% of Europe's energy needs in 2050 come from?

Coal? NG? Nuclear fission? LENR? ...wind?

How will Europe pay for this large undertaking?

I think it is mainly, that they only plan to tap a tiny fraction of that available energy. I'd bet it partly has to do with supply intermittency, as well as the fact that it is electrical power, that would be used, i.e. it doesn't cover most heating or transport needs. Also diversification of energy resources, so that for instance the threat of cutting off this source (blow up the powerline) wouldn't be totally catastrophic.

Whether the long distance tranmission of electricty from MENA to Europe ever takes place, I think is a bit doubtful. Clearly insolation (and weather interruption of insolation) is better in MENA than Europe. Also it is largely decoupled from European cloudy spells, so it would provide partial (statistical) balancing of the intermittency of local sources. But, it still is fairly high risk, and I don't think it scales down in size i.e. you can't build a 10MW pilot project with which to demonstrate the value of the entire concept (that longdistance transmission makes the resource affordable), without spending many of billions, and waiting several years before recieving the first KWhr.

Putting even 15% of your energy supply in Africa seems to be more than somewhat risky given the history of colonization and warfare and the resulting lack of stability in the region.

If the entire Sahara receives in 6 hours (let's call that the useful time period per day for solar energy production) as the entire //planet// consumes in //one year//...then why, by 2050, is this project estimated to only provide 15% of Europe's energy needs?

I'm sure only parts of the Sahara are suitable for PV deployment. Think about how much of that desert is large shifting sand dunes. Probably the only areas suitable are on hard pack soil near through roads. Even then workers will need to clear the panels of sand on a regular basis.

The dunes can be leveled and stabilized.

Not only that, but shading them with the mirrors/PV cells will actually create conditions favourable for plant regeneration.

may take some time, but if designed for it, would be possible to get some stuff growing under these, and given the areas they are talking about, it would amount to some useful production, even if it is just feeding goats, or something.

Scale is still an issue. Pick a very modest subset of the Sahara -- say 200x200 miles, 40,000 square miles, about half the size of Kansas. If you haven't, spend part of a summer driving the western half of Kansas to get some idea of just how big that area is. Then imagine covering that area with glass, along with the steel/aluminum/whatever framing on which to mount it, the concrete footings to attach the frames to, the cabling to tie the panels together. How long for a million workers to do the construction (each is responsible for an area equal to approximately 20 football fields)? Where do they live? How do you feed them? How do you deliver the construction materials?

Having finished that 40,000 square miles, you've covered about 1.1% of the Sahara.

Another good point!

Send un/underemployed and pensioners from Europe down south to live in Saharan Man Camps?

Use robots?

Lots of things to be sorted...not impossible though...could be the modern pyramids/Great Wall-scale achievement...

The dunes can be leveled and stabilized.

How are you going to stabilize soft shifting sand that's hundreds of feet deep?

The depth provides noproblem. You just need to stabilize the top 30 cm. If you do, the rest will just staunder the presure from the sand above it.

The problem is area. Sahara is large. Dunes will eventually break through your peremiters, if you do not maintain them.

Perk Earl,

Good point.

To pull this thread a bit more, if the Sahara area received as much energy in one day as the World uses in one year, then first to satisfy Europe's daily demand, take the land area of the Sahara and divide it by 365 (days in one year). Then figure what fraction of World electricity (or was that quote based on total energy?) Europe uses in any given time period...one-fifth?

So...roughly, would Europe's electricity demand be satisfied by ~ 1/15,000 of the land area of the Sahara?

But then there are the details...was the original citation talking about Europe's electricity needs, or total energy needs?

Today, or extrapolated to some higher demand in the future (2050)?

What are the transmission losses?

How much electricity will the ME and Africa demand from this bucket?

Daytime demand, or does this idea include storage mechanisms (requiring far more generation to account for cycling losses)for 24-hour electricity demand?

How much of this huge array will be down at any given time for preventative and restorative maintenance?

How will the transmission mains be protected?

Details, details...but at least we are not contemplating the pesky, and sometimes very messy, details of fission fuels cycles...

How much electricity will the ME and Africa demand from this bucket?

Yes Heisenberg, I'm sure that point will come up sooner or later as well as all the other details.

Interesting though that humans are in the process of tapping the wide open expanses of deserts to produce energy. Either that can be seen as a good thing - moving on to renewables, or as a bad thing from the standpoint of reflecting a desperation for more energy.

We are at a point of needing to tap into new energy sources while also reaching peak oil. Either its a transitional period or a reflection of that peak, with the descent to follow. Glass half full or half empty.

Per Earl,

Did I detect a whiff of exasperation in your first sentence?

Let me be clear.

I /want/ this to work.

I judge solar PV and CSP to be less environmentally damaging and less risky than both cola and fission-fired electricity generation.

We need to ask the pesky questions, as part of a logical, thorough planning process, to ensure that our expectations are realistic.

I estimate that even if this Sahara solar play is a fantastic success, humanity will nevertheless need to 'power down' to a significant extent, and change our 'grow, baby, grow' lifestyles and mindsets. So I see an opportunity to transition to a greater and greater augmentation/replacement of FF, as well as a scaling back of our energy use.

Half a glass versus a glass with a little backwash in it.

Remember that 'desert' is a climate not a land type. Vast areas are rocky or have light sand covering. Take a look around the area in Googleearth or Googlemaps. There are plenty of areas of rock that can be built on with little difficulty.


In six hours, the Sahara receives as much solar energy as is consumed in a year by the entire planet. By 2050, it is estimated DII could supply 15 percent of Europe's entire energy needs.

And Jupiter has more natural gas than the entire mass of Earth. Typical of a PR campaign. let me know when it actually starts producing energy economically.

Well, not that I'm impressed by the Over-Caffeinated Extrapolations that keep coming from TOD after of statements like this.. it's not a proposal intended to cover the Sahara in Solar Panels, it simply helps illustrate where there is an almost entirely untapped potential, but unlike Jupiter, it is not an unreachable location and an unsolved technology.

That this critical gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel keeps getting blown up, while volumes of Solar are bouncing off every mile from Cairo to Jerusalem is part of a far more typical Campaign, and one which could largely be obviated by a continued investment into the range of proven Solar technologies..


it's not a proposal intended to cover the Sahara in Solar Panels, it simply helps illustrate where there is an almost entirely untapped potential

I am not questioning the potential of Solar, it has a lot of potential but right now not much as a grid, still too expensive and will probably remain so in the foreseeable future. What happens is that in the quest for optimism people are misled to believe that BAU can continue. A layman reading this would come to think that all the world's energy can be derived from Sahara so there's no need to cut down on consumption and make local adjustments.

On a side note I think the greatest unintended benefit of solar would be freedom, energy dependence is a form of enslavement, if solar indeed achieves cost parity with coal or NG as some futurists claim, it would rip the cord that ties the community to the state to a great extent

The trouble I see in the big picture is that any cables running from the Sahara to Europe will probably be regularly blown up for much the same reasons as that pipeline. Only the effect will be much more devastating because it will be essentially instantaneous.

Egypt resumes gas deliveries to Israel after 7th attack

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- The delivery of natural gas to Israel from Egypt has resumed nine days after the gas pipeline between the two countries was blown up for the seventh time.

Gas began to flow through the pipeline again on Sunday. Gas had only been delivered for about two weeks prior to the seventh attack, which had prevented the delivery of gas to Israel for several months.

Egypt supplies Israel with more than 40 percent of its natural gas needs to produce electricity; electricity prices have risen by more than 10 percent in Israel since the attacks began.

related Egypt resumes supply of natural gas to Israel

Think it will remain intact till Dec.?

"restored after being blown up for the seventh time"

What was that definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, and hoping for a different result...

Conn. rethinks costly fuel cells

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — After spending millions of dollars to run a state complex with fuel cells, partly to boast of their size and also to tout a homegrown industry, Connecticut officials concede privately that the cost is too high and they're looking to get out of a complicated, long-term contract.

The state spends $1.4 million every year for the fuel cells at its 10-year-old juvenile center, an amount that Connecticut's energy commissioner, Daniel Esty, called excessive in an email Sept. 6 to the governor's budget chief.

"The fuel cells installed were oversized for the facility to be able to 'brag' about it being the largest fuel cell installation in the world" at that time, he wrote in the email that was obtained by The Associated Press in a Freedom of Information request.

The fuel cells were installed in 2001 at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown, which was a debacle from the start. The contract to build it was corrupted in a scandal that took down a top adviser to then-Gov. John G. Rowland (R), who himself resigned after a corruption probe.

Connecticut is home to two of the largest makers of fuel cells, UTC Power in Windsor and Fuel Cell Energy Inc. in Danbury.

Even the highly touted Bloom Boxes, I think are more scam than real. Without generous subsidies I doubt they would make sense. I suspect these babies are pricier and less reliable. Do they really do something (convert fuel to electricity) that a central powewr station couldn't do with at least comparable efficiency. Sure distributed generation has some benefits, but fuel cells, and the hydrogen economy both look like technofantasies.

The Bloom boxes are real enough, just over hyped, and, unfortunately, so expensive ($8k/kW) that they are not economical when CCGT is about $1k/kW and use the same fuel.

They are both about the same efficiency, 50-60%.

The one advantage for the Bloom Box (and other solid oxide fuel cells) is that they can get this efficiency at a scale of 100's of kW, where for CCGT you are looking at tens of MW. In this regard, the SOFC are a potential enabler of distributed generation and CHP.
They can be used for things like landfill gas, sewage digester gas, woodgas and so on, which are usually sources that are too small scale for CCGT. Presently, most of these biogas projects use ICE's, but you need high quality gas cleaning to get decent life out of the engines - the SOFC's sidestep this problem. The ICE's also get 30-40% efficiency in the 100's of kW range (into the 40-49% if you are 1-10MW) so the SOFC has a real efficiency advantage.

If the price came down to under $3k/kW, then they would be competitive.

Another company making and installing real world fuel cell systems (up to 3MW) is here;

Unlike Bloom, these guys actually put out their real technical specs, though the prices are still likely to be equally high.

I had thought fuel cells had problems with poisoning that still required gas pre-treatment for landfill or digester or sour oilfield gas? Incidentally, I understand if you don't have much air emissions regs, you can get away with running untreated sour gas thru IC engine if you keep it running or switch to clean gas supply prior to shutdown.

The amount of gas cleaning depends on the contaminants, and the fuel cell type itself, of course. Any H2 cells need very clean gas, but the SOFC ones not so much.
One contaminant that is found in landfill gas is siloxane (siliconised alkanes) and when that gets burnt you get silicon dioxide deposits (=sand!) which is not good for heat exchanger surfaces and even worse for ICE cylinders - I doubt it would be good for SOFC's either.

Don't know anything about the sour gas part, but that makes sense - along the same lines as how (unmodified) diesels will run on almost any kind of oil, even lubricating oil or straight veggie oil, as long as they start on diesel and stop on diesel. One type of WW2 German tank was set up so that, if they ran out of fuel and had no other choice, they could run it on its own engine oil. Apparently it was good for about 15minutes and then the engine would seize, but if that was the difference between surviving and not, then it's well worth it.

Iceland Government Probes why Chinese Tycoon wants Big Chunk of Its Land

“Nature there is very beautiful,” said the 55-year-old former Chinese government official — batting back allegations that the deal could give China a strategic foothold into the Arctic Circle, where melting ice caps may one day open more shipping lanes and potentially save a fortune in transporting goods.

But the 1 billion Icelandic kronur ($8.8 million) deal has been put on ice for now by the Interior Ministry, which has written to Huang asking him why he wants to buy so much land — 300 square kilometers (120 square miles) in all, or 0.3 percent of the country’s territory.

Huang’s background in the Chinese communist establishment has fueled some of the speculation that the land deal may be about more than just tourism and a love of nature.

Looks like somebody is shopping for a lifeboat

Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

(AP) BLUFFTON, Texas — Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas' largest lakes.

Gas company whistle-blower details spills, errors

DIMOCK TWP. - On a bright fall day in 2008, Scott Ely arrived at the natural gas well a few hundred feet from his home to find work strangely stilled.

His fellow employees of Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.'s drilling subsidiary were watching the only thing moving: a huge plume of gas "like Niagara Falls going upwards" buffeting the drilling rig from below, he remembered.

The gas in the air was sickening.

"They told me they hit a methane pocket," he said. "We're waiting for Cabot to tell us what to do, whether we should try to punch through it or plug it."

They punched through it - a pocket of shallow gas about 1,500 feet down that pumped out the equivalent of 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day, according to a report later commissioned by Cabot.

When drilling was finished, muddy puddles on the pad bubbled with the gas seeping through the gravel.

"Right next to the wellhead it looked like 1,000 Alka-Seltzers going off," he said.

S - This wasn't a "spill" as they call it...it was a blow out. Obviously not as dramatic as Macondo but a blow out none the less. Shallow gas appears to be common problem in this area. It could have been much worse had the NG ignited. I mentioned a couple of times about a very similar incident many years ago at Mobil Oil. Except in that case the NG ignited and 7 hands burned to death. All it would have taken is a spark. I've had to hustle away from a rig more than once in such an incident. But there could be much more to the story. Two types of blow outs: surface blow out and underground blow out. Underground b/o are also called "cross flows":. They may shut the well in and prevent NG from reaching the surface but doesn't mean they stopped the b/o. It could be flowing from 1,500' back up into a shallower zone...like a potable aquifer. I've seen that happen a number of times. Eventually they pump down heavy mud and kill the flow.

The problem for the locals proving Cabot has fouled their drinking water is that if there is that much NG at 1,500' then there's probably a lot of history of NG occurring naturally in water wells in the area. That was a problem some folks had in PA: 100 years ago folks could occasionally light their water well of fire. I first saw that phenomenon over 30 years ago just an hour west of Houston.

But it does sound like Cabot has a documented history of not dealing with shallow "drilling hazards" very well. There is a seismic technique I've often used to ID such hazards but I don't know if it would work in that area. But trust me: the drill crews will do the best they can to avoid such incidents. Not so much to protect the environment but to avoid becoming the next crispy critters. But unfortunately cr*p still happens.

Municipal water pump destroyed by remote cyber attack:
They cycled the pump on and off rapidly untill it failed.
What if the pump had been in a nuclear power plant reactor cooling system?

Having been the manager of a water and sewer utility, I have to ask the obvious question of why they felt the need to have this "online" in the first place?

Water pumps are such critical infrastructure items that they should not only be protected from hacking, but should not be dependent on a third party service provider such as the internet. A properly designed water system should be able to operate, to at least 50% of capacity, in the event of complete failure of electrical power supply, telecommunications AND internet. The best way to make it operate in the event of internet failure is to not have it on there in the first place, which conveniently eliminates the hacking possibility.

The amount of SCADA stuff that gets put into otherwise simple systems is off the chart. Then, when there is a problem, or an operating change to be made, the system must be "reprogrammed" by the SCADA experts, which are almost always from out of town, and possibly out of country.

it is a perfect example of adding great complexity to a system for minimal improvement in performance/efficiency, and with some definite downsides.

I did hear of one system failing because it relied on some Windows based software, and Windows, is, of course, far less reliable than any pumps and float switches, so why even go there?

"...why even go there?"

To look "cool" and "state of the art", which may please, among others, managers of a certain stripe, public officials, or Congresscritters. (I.e. much the same sort of folks who simply must have an expensive municipal sports stadium, or a computer for every kindergartner, in order to "look good" to their "peers" when they go to "conferences".)

unfortunately, you are spot on. Bragging rights if conferences is big one - it has to be better than whatever was the one just built somewhere else.

It is also the wet dream for most municipal managers to have a utility system that doesn;t actually need any operators - someone can just monitor it from their office.

Totally in keeping with their model of reducing the staff that actually do things/deliver services, while maintaining the untouchability of the administration.

You are both missing an important point - 'That has their name on it in big letters.'.


13 dead in Tahrir Square.

You gotta give it to the Egyptians, they know how to protest.