Drumbeat: November 26, 2011

China, India perform dangerous new dance of encircler, counter-encircler

NEW DELHI — It was billed as a new assertiveness, when India’s usually meek Prime Minister Manmohan Singh supposedly looked his Chinese counterpart in the eye at a summit in Bali last weekend and defended his country’s “commercial” right to explore for oil and gas in the South China Sea.

But it was also a sign of rising frictions between India and China, and of what experts see as a dangerous new game between the world’s most populous nations.

Book review: The End of Growth

As the dark clouds gather over the eurozone and the UK economy shows the slightest signs of growth, the debate about the cult of economic growth and the future of the world has returned centre stage.

The fact is that a world that is bursting at 7bn, and is predicted to grow a further 2bn by 2050, what was once a secular macroeconomic theory has now become part of the discussion about survival.

New oil reserves pose threat to OPEC dominance

While the world remained focused on Tahrir Square — another revolution of its kind has been in the making — impacting, changing and altering the global energy dynamics.

The issue of global energy security seems changing nexus now, resulting in uncertain call on Saudi and OPEC oil in medium term. Large new, conventional and unconventional reserves in North America, and elsewhere, are questioning the dominant role of OPEC in meeting the global oil thirst. These new developments have also sapped the urgency to develop the Kingdom’s own reserves — further — at this stage.

‘Unstable’ gas supplies highlight potential energy crisis

AMMAN - While casting doubt over stability in Egypt, ongoing attacks on the Arab Gas Pipeline have put Jordan’s drive for alternative energy sources at the front and centre of the public debate.

By severing gas supplies earlier this month, the seventh act of sabotage this year on the Arab Gas Pipeline exposed the weakness of Jordan’s energy sector, which relies on Egyptian gas for over 80 per cent of its electricity needs.

Fuel shortage nearly cripples western Canadian trucking industry, but relief is in sight

CALGARY, Alta. -- Trucking is considered by many to be the true "engine" of the economy - the driving force, so to speak - so if there isn't enough juice to power the engine of the economy's engines, it could be a big problem for everyone.

It's a situation that came very close to shutting down a major part of western Canadian trade in November, thanks to a nearly month-long shortage of diesel fuel. If it had gone on much longer - not that it's completely over yet - many trucks could have been idled and goods undelivered.

Gas supply remains suspended in Faisalabad for third consecutive day

The gas supply to 600 industrial units and 380 CNG stations remained suspended for three consecutive days, on Saturday, as a result a large number of industrial workers most of them daily wagers became jobless for three days.

Arab League proposes sanctions against Syria, including freezing assets

(CNN) -- Arab League finance ministers recommended Saturday that economic sanctions be levied against the Syrian government for its part in a bloody, months-long crackdown on civilian demonstrators, a senior Arab League official told CNN.

State-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) called the move an "unprecedented procedure (that) contradicts the rules of the economic and trade cooperation among the Arab countries and targets the Syrian people."

Argentine natgas plant operates normally - Apache

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentine natural gas processing plant operated by U.S.-based Apache Corp (APA.N) was operating normally on Saturday after indigenous protests disrupted production this week, a company source said.

How big is Exxon's gamble in Kurdistan? (Answer: BIG)

Has ExxonMobil -- the annoyingly prissy schoolboy who always obeys the teacher -- risked weakening one of its distinguishing pillars in order to break into a single oil patch? And if so, could that shake up the global oil market along with geopolitics?

The splurge factor: The case for strong holiday sales

Richard Hastings, a consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities, predicts retail sales in the November to January time period will rise 5.75 percent this year.

Hastings has been optimistic because consumers have been spending in recent months, but he recently trimmed its holiday forecast by 50 basis points to account for two factors: store traffic has slowed and crude oil prices have been on the rise and could cut into consumer spending.

To Sell Green, First Teach Green

TURNS out the “House of the Year” is small, inexpensive to heat, and priced at a surprisingly low $220,000.

A new 1,600-square-foot split-level on Voluntown Road, it is the Builders Association of Eastern Connecticut’s answer to a market in which new construction faces stiff competition from the surplus of houses for resale. The prototype is meant to showcase assets rarely found in older homes: ultra-greenness and affordability.

Toilet paper preparedness vs. true resilience

A week after the first storm (and a few days before the second one), a well-meaning friend who lived several hours away called to check up on us. A keen follower of all developments related to climate change and fossil fuel shortages, he extended his hearty congratulations to my family. Our disaster preparedness was a sign of our resilience. We were passing a test that was a prelude to all the future calamities to come. We were survivors.

I bit my lip until it nearly bled in my effort to keep the words “screw you” from blurting out of my mouth. I politely ended the call, then slammed the telephone receiver on the desk, twice, before returning it to its cradle. Then I put my head down on my desk and wept. We didn’t pass any tests. We were damned lucky. That’s all. And too many people and places we care about were not.

John Michael Greer: Bringing It Down To Earth

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last two months or so, and at this point I want to summarize the territory thus explored and link it back into the core of this blog’s project—the search for a realistic understanding of the troubled future ahead of us, and a meaningful way to respond to it. One crucial part of that response, I’ve suggested, relates to that tangled realm where consciousness meets the unconscious drives that shape so much of our experience of the world: a realm that contemporary thought addresses, however incompletely, through the science of psychology, and that the older lore of magic approaches in a much more comprehensive and potent way.

To Rethink Sprawl, Start With Offices

IN an era of concern about climate change, residential suburbs are the focus of a new round of critiques, as low-density developments use more energy, water and other resources. But so far there’s been little discussion of that other archetype of sprawl, the suburban office.

Rethinking sprawl might begin much more effectively with these business enclaves. They cover vast areas and are occupied by a few powerful entities, corporations, which at some point will begin spending their ample reserves to upgrade, expand or replace their facilities.

Crude Oil Advances as Europe May Increase Efforts to Contain Debt Crisis

Oil rose on speculation that euro- area leaders will do more to fight the debt crisis and on concern that tension in the Middle East will disrupt supply.

Futures gained 0.6 percent, paring a second weekly loss, after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would support Italy. Four people died in Saudi Arabia this week in clashes between Shiite Muslims and security forces.

Mexico's oil output rises in Oct-Pemex data

(Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemexsaid on Friday that oil production rose to 2.553 million barrels per day in October from 2.489 bpd in September.

Mexican monthly oil output has been little changed since 2009 as Pemexhas slowed the rate of natural decline at its giant Cantarell oil field in the southern Bay of Campeche.

Nigerian crude exports set to rise in Jan

LONDON (Reuters) - Nigeria is set to load around 1.93 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in January, according to provisional loading programmes, up slightly from planned levels last month due to higher supplies of the benchmark Qua Iboe grade.

Planned exports were 1.9 million bpd in December, although traders said actual exports will likely be higher because of three late additions to the Bonny Light loading programme.

Norway gas plant online; platforms out until Monday

(Reuters) - A key Norwegian gas processing plant, shut on Friday after a brief power outage, resumed operations overnight but a major storm is expected to keep several floating oil platforms shut until Monday, energy companies said on Saturday.

Reliance, Tata Face Energy Caps in $3 Billion Efficiency Market

India has set targets for companies including Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) and Tata Steel Ltd. (TATA) on energy consumption reductions in preparation for a $3 billion-a-year market for trading efficiency credits.

Companies have been notified of their targets and audits of their energy consumption have started, said Ajay Mathur, director of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

Analysis - EU may believe it can afford to ban Iran's oil

(Reuters) - Europe is edging towards an Iranian oil embargo despite worries a ban would hit enfeebled euro zone members hardest, propel global crude prices higher and only hurt Iran by obliging it to rely on China to buy more crude at discounted prices.

As the political heat rises, Italy and France are pressing their oil companies to consider abandoning purchases from Iran, officials say.

Traders and analysts say a prerequisite for action is that the European Union gets Saudi Arabia on board to fill any gap from Tehran.

No dictation, please!

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan rejected on Friday the suggestion of US Ambassador Cameron Munter that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project was not in its interest. Talking to the media, Information Minister Firdaus Ashiq Awan said that Pakistan would not take dictation from any one on the project and would do whatever was in the interest of the country.

Pakistan: 26 soldiers killed in NATO helicopter attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters of firing on two army checkpoints in the country's northwest and killing 26 soldiers, then retaliated by closing the border crossings used by the coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Syria faces sanctions but army stands by regime

BEIRUT (AP) – The Syrian military vowed Friday to "cut every evil hand" that targets the country's security, a defiant stance by the regime as it faces the possibility of sweeping economic sanctions from the Arab League.

The military statement could signal darker days to come in an eight-month revolt against President Bashar Assad that is turning more violent by the day.

Officials: Egypt protester killed outside Cabinet

CAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian demonstrator was killed early Saturday outside the country's Cabinet building, where protesters have camped overnight to prevent the entrance of the country's newly-appointed prime minister, witnesses and a medical official said.

The death came as a wave of protests against military rule was given extra impetus by the Egyptian military's decision on Friday to appoint a prime minister who served under deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Gas Deal With Belarus Gives Control of Pipeline to Russia

The Russian government agreed on Friday to offer Belarus loans and a discounted price on natural gas worth more than $14 billion, tying Belarus, Russia’s small, authoritarian neighbor, into an even tighter union with Moscow.

The loans and discounts represent an economic lifeline to Belarus’s president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, helping his government to subsidize basic food items and imported goods to offset inflation and tamp down social unrest. In exchange, Belarus sold full control of its natural gas pipeline to Europe to Gazprom, the Russian energy giant.

Chevron keen for more Brazil oil, despite spill

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Chevron said on Friday it planned to invest $3 billion in Brazil over the next three years, despite uproar in the South American country after an oil spill this month caused by its offshore drilling.

Transocean Oil Rig in Collision With Ship Off the Coast of Newfoundland

A Transocean Ltd. (RIG) offshore drilling rig working for Husky Energy Inc. (HSE) off the coast of Newfoundland was struck by a supply ship and damaged yesterday, according to regulators.

Transocean drops upbeat tone on 2010 safety result

(Reuters) - Transocean Ltd has formally dropped the upbeat language concerning its 2010 safety performance in light of the Macondo well blow-out that destroyed one of its rigs and killed 11 people.

Millions Spent in Albany Fight to Drill for Gas

ALBANY — Energy companies have been pouring millions of dollars into television advertising, lobbying and campaign contributions as the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo enters the final phase of deciding when and where to allow a controversial form of natural gas extraction that is opposed by environmental groups.

The end of coal's '1000 year Reich'?

Economists, ever fearful for their next consultancy, have started to meekly return to analyze of what is 'peak oil' and 'peak coal' ie when will coal and oil production will start to run out. Despite the embarrassment of previous mistakes, countries and even planets run out of particular resources that can be extracted at anything like a commercially feasible prices.

What Peak Oilers Won’t Tell You About Peak Oil

M. King Hubbert is the father of Peak Oil theory. In a 1956, he paper correctly called the timing of the peak in U.S. crude oil production in the early 1970s.

Neo-Malthusians and Progressives make sure you know about Hubbert’s pessimistic outlook for conventional crude oil. They made Hubbert a household name, the only oil technologist whose name they use without adding “sellout” or “whore”.

But here’s what they never tell you about what Hubbert’s wrote…

Low Carbon Sustainable Means a Post Industrial Future

The chances of the long-term future being truly postindustrial is high: as Albert Einstein said on the subject of war, industrial civilization makes it certain the third world war will be nuclear - but the fourth world war will be fought with sticks and stones. By a lot less people.

Bike Action Plan & Energy Resilience

Cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are often heralded for being so bicycling and public transit oriented, with travel by car constituting a minority of trips, (despite still high rates of automobile ownership). It is often assumed that such cities in Europe have always had bike cultures and we can never emulate their travel mode shares.

What many don’t realize is that many world cities that we associate with bicycling today were once beginning to follow in the foot steps of American cities. Like us, they began destroying neighborhoods to make way for express highways, paving over public spaces for parking lots, and vehicle miles traveled rapidly increased. Some of the most happening outdoor cafes with adjacent cycle paths in Copenhagen today, were ugly and crowded parking lots in the 1970’s.

Feds probe new battery fires in Chevrolet Volt

WASHINGTON—The government is investigating new fires involving the lithium-ion batteries in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt to assess the fire risk in the electric car after a serious crash.

One Volt battery pack that was being closely monitored following a government crash test caught fire Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement Friday. Another recently crash-tested battery emitted smoke and sparks, the statement said.

German Power Grid at ‘Edge of Capacity’ as Country Exits Nuclear

Germany’s power grid is nearing the “edge of its capacity” as the nation switches to renewable power because of the decision to exit nuclear generation, and after slow modernization of the network, the regulator said.

China Looks Into U.S. Energy Trade Policies

HONG KONG — China’s ministry of commerce announced on Friday that it had opened an investigation into whether American subsidies and other policies in the solar, wind and hydroelectric sectors had unfairly hurt the industrial development of China’s renewable energy industries.

The announcement comes two weeks after the United States Department of Commerce said that it had accepted a request by SolarWorld Industries America and six other companies in the United States for an investigation into whether Chinese solar panel manufacturers had obtained export subsidies from the Chinese government, or had dumped solar panels in the United States for less than it cost to manufacture and distribute them.

EU Opens Dumping, Anti-Subsidy Investigation Into U.S. Bioethanol

The European Union is threatening to impose duties on imports of bioethanol from the U.S., saying American sellers may be using trade-distorting government aid to sell in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping.

Independent review of US energy loans starts on Mon

(Reuters) - Former investment banker Herb Allison will begin on Monday to review the U.S. Energy Department's $35.9 billion loan portfolio, after two companies that received loan guarantees went bankrupt, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

With wind power the EU can cut carbon emissions by 30%

According to the latest EWEA research, wind energy can cover nearly one-third of the EU’s 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 20%. That’s one technology accounting for 31% of the 20% cut, alone. The calculation, contained in a report called ‘wind energy and EU climate policy’, is based on European Commission figures which show that coal, gas and oil emitted on average 696g of CO2 per KiloWatt hour of power production in 2010.

Clean air, water rules spark different responses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Large and small companies have told Republican-led congressional committees what the party wants to hear: dire predictions of plant closings and layoffs if the Obama administration succeeds with plans to further curb air and water pollution.

But their message to financial regulators and investors conveys less gloom and certainty.

Warning over melting ice at North Pole

Sir David Attenborough has warned that there will be "open water at the North Pole in summer within the next few decades" if the current rate of global warming is allowed to continue.

In his bleakest comments yet on the fate of our warming planet, the veteran naturalist, who visited the pole for the first time last year, said that the consequences of melting sea ice would be dire for wildlife and humanity alike.

Climate change affects Africa's poorest small-scale farmers, making them poorer and hungrier

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — As she surveys her small, bare plot in Zimbabwe's capital, farmer Janet Vambe knows something serious is happening, even if she has never heard of climate change.

"Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains started," the 72-year-old said. Nowadays, "we have to gamble with the rains. If you plant early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We are at a loss of what to do."

Are renewable advocates "smoking dope'?
Durban has already been written off, but this is the place to build on the Kyoto Protocol

I have always suspected that the IEA was unduly influenced by hawks from the White House, who were keen to rubbish Peak Oil theories and talk down renewables. Comments from the IEA’s long-standing deputy executive director, Dick Jones, highlighted in Recharge last week, do not dispel that view. He said that those who advocated massive global investment in renewables to tackle rising energy demand must have been “smoking dope”.

Well no, they are not smoking dope but I do believe their expectations far exceed possible reality.

Ron P.

Renewables are still a tough sell because of the high initial costs. In the meantime, the greatest opportunities for reducing electric energy consumption still lie in cost effective energy upgrades, including lighting upgrades. Lighting upgrades in retail stores are especially attractive because of the long hours of use, which typically cover peak demand hours. And that is without even looking at good Daylighting projects.

About a week ago I mentioned the local Penney’s store, which could easily cut electricity used for lighting by 50% by simple one for one lamp and ballast replacements. With a switch to fewer lamps and more efficient fixtures, they could probably get up to 2/3s reduction in both demand and energy use.

When will enough people get angry enough to start calling the store managers to complain, and maybe even organize boycotts of these energy gluttons?

Hmmm... Guess I must be feeling grumpy again today.

To simply accept rising energy demand is also a product of intense dope smoking. Renewables can't meet BAU but should be pursued in conjunction with a demand reduction strategy.

To Rethink Sprawl, Start With Offices

And how many workers need to be "in an office" these days?

(Back at the start of 1995-1996 was a 'virtual office society' business model which was dead by 1998 and starting to vanish from servers by 2001. But today photocopiers make PDFs, 3 TB hard drives to store the paper images were sub $100 and there is more bandwidth. Add in shifting the cost to the corporation to the worker and be able to threaten workers with outsourcing what they do to India .... getting rid of the office will be pushed.)

There is another op-ed commentary in the NYT of a similar nature:

The Death of the Fringe Suburb

In that one, the author glosses over the cost of oil for transport, while the author of the other author mentions both Peak Oil and Climate Change. Perhaps that difference is the result of the latter being from UC Berkeley, while the former is from Brookings and U Michigan...

E. Swanson

About sprawl, there is also this somehow preconceived idea that skyscrapers are a good generic shape, at the city level, to increase density (in the sense, FAR, floor area ratio, that is the number of (livable or workable) square meters builded per square meters on the ground, or square feet, as it is a number without unit). And in fact, especially for housing buildings, this is not true at all ! (using same natural lighting constraints in the flats/offices to compare shapes).

Work on this was done in the sixities by Lionel March and Leslie Martin (in Cambridge), in a bit over simplified way at the time, but basic results still holding.

For details you can check the papers linked below as pdf :
First one by Lionel March (on this and other subjects)
Second one "energy and buildings paper" with a good summary in section 2 and 3

Skyscrapers are very efficient for the movement of office workers. If you put a large number of office workers in skyscrapers in one small area, they can communicate and network with each other without using a lot of energy. They can travel between floors by elevators (or stairs) to work with employees in their own company and walk between skyscrapers to network with other companies.

If you mix commercial and residential uses in the same building, it can be very efficient for people who live and work in the same building. In some buildings, the bottom half of the building is offices and the top half is apartments, which means people can commute to work by elevator.

I thought the best case for efficient downtowns was Calgary, when I worked there. The downtown core is about 1.2 square kilometres (1/2 square mile) in area, which means that you can walk from one side to the other in about 15 minutes. Despite its small size it has the second largest number of corporate head offices in Canada (over 100) after Toronto, and has about 45 million square feet of office space. Over 140,000 people work there.

Most of the oil companies in Canada have their head offices near the center of it, and most of the service companies they use are clustered around them. This means that major projects in the oil industry can be coordinated between companies by employees just walking between buildings, with nobody ever having to get in a car. For people who don't like to walk there is a light rail system that functions as a downtown people mover.

Having worked in both countries, I contrasted this with the US, in which the oil companies are scattered all over the country. Putting together a major project involving different companies required flying between cities, renting a car, and driving to some company's scenic office park in some far-flung suburb. Almost inevitably this involved staying in a hotel overnight (unless you were a top exec and could take the company jet back home the same day). The difference in energy costs between that and just walking to their office building from yours in the morning, walking back in the afternoon, and catching the (wind-powered electric) train home the same day was just mind-boggling.

Downtown Calgary

Some of the tallest buildings in western Canada, and a few of the tallest in the country, are in Calgary. It is arguably the densest downtown area of any city of its size in North America. Many of the buildings are connected via an 18 km (11 mile) long network of elevated walkways and bridges. The system, known as the "+15" is the largest of its kind in the world.

Downtown Calgary was weak in terms of residential housing, but that is changing as more and more people decide to give up commuting as a waste of time and money, and instead live in high-rise condominium apartments and walk to work.

Yes, single entrance and elevators columns group also make them "clearer and easy to grasp", but the point is to compare the shapes in a real mathematical sense about the resulting density using the same lighting constraints, and here the results, even if they can appear counter intuitive at first, aren't really in favor of skyscrapers at all (and people can get pissed about it, Lionel March mentions in his paper an architect from Singapore that got relegated to some "cheap" job for having said and pushed it for instance, when the "higher is better" is the mantra, but the truth is that whatever the shapes density is asymptotic anyway over the number of floors, typically over 10 or 12 you don't gain anything). In fact the density aspect is also very often used as a "false moral excuse" to build them, really the case. (higher is better mantra would be valid for a single tower in the middle of nothing, as a "singularity", which was the way Frank Lloyd Wright was drawing them by the way)

And office buildings and housing buildings aren't equivalent, as you can make office buildings much "thicker", with elevators, coffee machines, meeting rooms at the center, open space around. Which would require huge flats for equivalent width or diameter (considering you want windows in each flat). But yes, putting flats on top of office towers where they often are less thick also makes sense.

Note : In the sentence about Calgary there isn't any numbers, they could be surprising in not being so dense. In fact finding FAR numbers is really not that easy. I think the densest place is the Chicago ring around 6 or 7 (not sure). There is a quite extensive study done in France by a urbanism organism (various cities and neighborhoods), and for instance typical central Paris FAR is 3.5 (with most buildings up to 6 or 8 storeys), when the "la défense" FAR (skyscrapers business center just outside Paris) is 2, and the typical "housing project" of the seventies, or "cité" is around 0.7 ...

And then the latitude is also important.
Note : looking at Calgary downtown on Google maps, I would guess the FAR around 4 maybe less or much less, not easy at all to guess these stuff (and pictures taken from the ground can very easily give you a false impression of density)

Calgary limits the basic floor area ratio (FAR) of buildings to 7 for offices and 8 for residences, BUT for residential units there is a maximum floor plate size of 930 m2 (10,000 sq ft) above 36 metres (188 ft). This means that buildings containing residences are limited to a size of 30 m x 30 m (100 ft x 100 ft) in their upper floors (shape can vary).

The objective is to let more light into the buildings and the downtown core than they otherwise would get. However, the buildings do tend to be tall and narrow as a result. In commercial buildings they build taller and narrower than necessary to provide more window offices, which rent for higher rates than interior offices. There are a few buildings which are short and wide, but they rent for less money than the tall, narrow ones.

There is no height limit but they might go to 50 stories or so in a prestige building. Beyond 50 stories the elevators and utilities start to use up too much of the floor plate and it becomes uneconomic.

My intention, though, was to compare the efficiency of the sprawling suburban office campus which is typical of the US, against the much more efficient, dense downtown office core that I worked in in Calgary.

But these 7 or 8 are with respect to a given block or buildable area no ? They don't take streets area in account ?
This can change the numbers quite a bit at the city level.
But otherwise yes I agree, sprawling suburban office campuses are totally car dependent and the "global FAR"(including roads/streets) most probably way below 1.

note :most current Paris is in fact not that old, dates from the XIXth century and Haussmann that basically reconstructed/extended the whole city (most of it). And prior one was most probably denser, but with much narower streets

The FAR of 7 or 8 is a basic maximum (they can increase by adding things like public plazas and indoor parks) and applies only to the building site, not the streets. The intention is to keep density down, not increase it. They don't want companies building from sidewalk to sidewalk with solid buildings.

However, the density is more than high enough to support a light rail system. If they went for more density, they would have to build a subway system (metro) and that is much more expensive than light rail.

I was looking at it from the standpoint of the efficiency of people movement, and from that standpoint it is very, very efficient. It is also very good from the standpoint of workplace efficiency. Companies very often fail to look at the workplace from the standpoint of worker efficiency. They ignore the fact that people like to be able to look out a window from their desk, they don't like high noise levels, poor temperature controls, and bad lighting. If these factors are ignored and are substandard, their productivity will be much much lower. The salaries of the workers are typically 10x that of the rent and heating/cooling costs, so it is amazing that companies ignore the human factors.

I worked for 35 years as a systems analyst/business analyst, and as a result I automatically analyze everything around me. I used to look around me at the office environment and think, "What idiot designed this mess?" However, it was politically incorrect to say that out loud, and I wasn't in a position to have them fired in any case.

But a FAR of 7 or 8 is huge (at the city level including streets and roads), not even Hong Kong as such a FAR I think, would be interesting to know the value with streets, roads, parking etc
Note : one reason getting these values is difficult is also that sharing the same definition is not that easy, for instance do you count the corridors stairs elevators columns, outisde terraces balconies area within the "livable or workable" surface, things like that.
And overall, architecture or building design always remains some form of "compromise" between "contradictory" objectives, for instance a lot of windows per square meter vs density and thermal efficiency (Christopher Alexander has some good lines on that also in his "pattern language" books about architecture, and ref to March and Martin as well).

The FAR limit of 7 for offices just includes the specific building sites, not roads, sidewalks, or public parks. However, buildings can go as high as a FAR ratio of 20 by including public amenities such as public art, plazas, and indoor parks.

If you calculate the FAR for the 1.2 km2 area of Downtown Calgary, including streets, sidewalks, parks, plazas and other public spaces, it would be about 3. That is very high by North American standards. However, developers are continuing to build new office space and they theoretically could build out the downtown core to a FAR of 5 under existing rules, including streets, sidewalks, public spaces, etc.

Most of the remaining building space is in surface parking lots, so it would require eliminating most of the existing parking and replacing the current light rail system with an underground metro. That may seem extreme to the Americans reading this, but it probably will happen within the next 50 years.

In the post-peak-oil era, the oil companies will require a lot of space to house the knowledge workers building the non-conventional oil projects, and automobiles will cease to be a viable way to get to work. The downtown will continue to be an efficient place to work, but the suburbs will have to be rebuilt to fit a non-car-dependent model, and many people will find moving to higher-density housing in the inner city area to be a more convenient alternative. In fact, it could start looking a lot more like Paris.

The City of Calgary currently has about 1/2 the population of the City of Paris, but Metropolitan Calgary has less than 1/10 the population of Metropolitan Paris. Unlike Paris, Calgary has a policy of annexing all of its suburbs.

Yes, also think that provided there is not a full collapse, there will be dense mixed use (housing and offices) cities on one side, and then houses with gardens for partial subsistance and people working online maybe in small villages/cities on the other, the urbanism form that may disappear the most being commuting suburbia with almost no growing surface compared to roads & houses.
But that is "provided there is not", let's hope it turns that way ..

By the way about Paris there is a project about making it a "grand Paris" by annexing all "first ring" or even more "communes", and there was some kind of architecture/urbanism request for recommendation one or two years ago (launched by Sarkozy), but the thing is also highly political ..., and Paris has a history of being enclosed in walls more or less (or clear limit), current one being the "périphérique" that is the freeway ring. Paris being much smaller than Marseille for instance, and many other cities in France as an "administrative entity".

I tend to discount the value of natural lighting. My reasoning, the artificial type is getting better, and more energy efficient. LEDs are several times less energy hungry than the old incandescants, and the chances are the efficiency of LEDs will rise dramatically in the next decade or two. The human networking effect, is more impotant than saving a nearly trivial amount of lighting cost. Sure a twenty story building can't be carbon neutral, you couldn't put enough PV on it (at least if it is in a city with lots of similar structures). The real issue may be embidied energy (of construction) per square foot of human useable interior space. I bet this climbs faster than linearly with building height.

Modern office buildings tend to be built without many offices having external windows or lighting.

The now disused Bell Labs building in Holmdel NJ was built with corridors adjacent to the exterior glass walls. Only later were the offices extended to the windows in one area with executive offices.

The McCoy Building outside of Columbus, OH had most floors occupied by cube farms around central utility cores. Some of the cubes were adjacent to the exterior walls and windows, but not many. Actual offices with walls were in the centers of the building "pods".

The Pacific Bell headquarters building at Bishop Ranch (click on 1983) was a similar layout, with wide structures and artificially lit.

Most modern buildings with 2 million or so square feet that I have visited tend to have broad, branching footprints with around 6 floors or so. Only in areas constrained by street grids do the buildings tend to go a lot higher to 20-30 floors.

Yes this can be considered valid for office buildings, but would you buy a condominium (flat , appartment) without windows and natural light ?

Note : I also read somewhere that the vehicles consuming the most energy per day were elevators, not sure if this is true at all.

Well, that could be true of total energy use, but I think the key indicator is how much energy an elevator uses per passenger. Obviously, an elevator is delivering far more people to work than an automobile.

Are stairs not an alternative? I suppose if the building is tall enough it might take a lot of time, but what better way to get a workout! We don't have tall buildings here, so about 6 floors is the most I've ever had to walk up.

I worked in one office on the 4th floor (UK 5th US), the stores and workshop were in the basement. I was up and down half a dozen or a dozen times a day sorting out issues. Very good for fitness and faster than their lift.


If I recall my urban public policy class correctly, there are a number of factors that kick in at about six floors. As you go much taller than that, you get into problems with

  • Strength of materials (ie, need for steel framing),
  • Elevators not just for people but for things,
  • Water pressure for drinking water and fire suppression, and
  • Fire safety issues more generally.

"it can be very efficient for people who live and work in the same building"

But how many people are lucky enough to be able to afford to live in a downtown skyscraper condo should they so choose? And how many of those are so lucky as to have tenured jobs-for-life - what happens to that efficiency when the new job is elsewhere?

There's also the factor that high-rise urban areas are typically not "kid friendly." In most such areas today, having the three- and five-year-old play outside requires an expedition: packing the gear, navigating the building/lobby, coping with traffic, lack of clean public toilet facilities, etc. Certainly such areas could be improved; and once the kids are old enough the problems aren't as severe; but it's hard (or expensive) to cope with small children in high-rise mixed urban areas.

I lived in an apartment complex that had elementary, dance, theater, and martial arts schools in the penthouse, plus some NGO offices and a basketball court. To play the building's kids could go up... of course they often had to go up on foot because the elevators frequently were broken or over capacity. Perhaps that was why it wasn't sold as prime real estate.

In the same complex there was a swimming pool and gym in the basement and 2 parks less than a block away. One with a big playground and jogging loop, another dedicated to playing fields. After hours a karate class used the mezanine of the retail area and some budding new choreographers used the polished floor and reflective glass windows of some of the office areas as a dance studio on the weekends. The recreational spaces were always packed with people resulting in more use per maintenance dollar.

Sure, it was the big (crime ridden) city and no-one wanted to let their child out of sight but even when they were too busy to take the kids to the park people found work-arounds. Kids played in the halls, teenagers hung out on the stairwell. People exercised their dogs by throwing a tennis ball down the hallway. At Christmas time people would put decorations and lawnchairs in the halls to create visiting space. In part this was do-able because the walls were made of thick concrete and the doors were very sturdy too. Virtually no sound came in from the hall.

I can think of lots of reasons why city living might not be a cure-all but I wouldn't say that child rearing had to be an obstacle.

I agree ... unless it was a work position where the apartment above you was clearly one of the collateral benefits of the job ... I would also not like to tie my residential status totally into my work. In the same way that I find it horrifying that in the US health benefits and social security benefits are tied to your employer. Problematic indeed.

Hi Yves,

I'm not so sure I would agree. Whereas forty, fifty and even sixty watts per m2 was not uncommon all that long ago, today, new or newly renovated office buildings are generally in the range of 10-watts or less, and vacancy sensors, daylight harvesting and other management control systems are steadily chipping away at that. Likewise, stairwells that are unoccupied 98 per cent of the time but must be illuminated continuously for code compliance can be equipped with bi-level fixtures that ramp up to full brightness when activity is detected and then back down again when quiet. Even exit signs that once consumed 30-watts each are now 2 to 3-watts when fitted with LEDs. With proper design and execution, lighting loads need not be a significant factor in a building's overall energy needs.

Consider, for example, the lighting load of the Washington Post news room as depicted in the film All the President's Men (and I understand that this set was faithful to the real McCoy in virtually every respect). I'm pegging this one in the vicinity of 80-watts per m2.

Now contrast that to the NY Times building which I understand is just 4-watts/m2.

Addendum: Collaboration of the NYT Building estimate at: www.greenbiz.com/news/2009/05/28/high-efficiency-lighting-new-york-times...


Hi Paul,
But this (the work done by March and Martin, then further refined), is purely about comparing regular(generic) patterns of buildings at a city level (regular even spaced slabs, regular even spaced towers, regular court yard buildings pattern), with same lighting constraints, and doing the comparison in a mathematical(physical) way (with varying number of floors).
So it isn't really about energy, and light is by no means the only energy aspect for buildings (far from it, in fact a very minimal aspect compared to heating/cooling).
And if you remove the natural light constraint, of course the results are different, and you can maybe remove it for office buildings, but for housing ones seems a bit difficult.
And in general I think architecture might be one of the domain were "green washing" is the most popular, typical exemple for instance the Strata tower in London :
Which is a residential tower, and which windmills are not only not working, but even if they were, would produce a minimal part of the consumed energy.

Or was reading in the paper last time of some new building built just outside Paris(for the patents office), described as "energy positive"(and with an e+ label), the building looks nice, builded with timber (from some region in France), with rain water capture for toilets, windows optimized according to sun and orientation with automatic shading, heated with heat pump, and with PV on the roof, but for sure that building isn't energy positive at all.
That's the one below :
or :

And I'm not saying the new NYT building isn't efficient (and it looks nice, well designed, functional), just that towers for housing aren't at all the "solution to increase density" as it is still quite often said or considered, that is all.

Thanks, Yves. Admittedly, I'm out of my league on this, but if you were to optimize a floor plan to maximize daylight and perhaps ventilation (be this residential or commercial), you would invariably increase the building's exterior surface in relation to its volume. As we both agree, lighting is a relatively small and hopefully ever shrinking portion of the total pie whereas heating and cooling requirements dominate. It would seem that to minimize overall energy use the general design would move us closer to a cube or we would simply build underground. Of course, other constraints/requirements/objectives come into play and so energy use is treated as just one part of the equation and rightfully so.

Our home can't be energy-neutral or net-positive in the true sense because we lack the means to produce renewable energy on-site. Nonetheless, 100 per cent of the electricity that we consume is wind-generated or low-impact hydro purchased through Bullfrog Power (http://www.bullfrogpower.com/). From my perspective, a reasonable course of action is to minimize your energy requirements to the greatest extent possible (balancing this objective in relation to these other design elements) and then to choose the most appropriate sources for these remaining needs. This could be energy that's produced on-site (e.g., PV) or, as it our case, renewable energy purchased through a third-party.


A solution to sprawl was put forward over 30 years ago by architect;/urban planner Paolo Soleri's called Archologies.

I visited his project and looked at the models. Have to admit they look cool.

Unfortunately, the window for archologies as a solution is rapidly closing.

I'm more partial to Ian McHarg's concept of land use planning. Maybe combine them both?

Wow - a blast from the past! As a bright young Urban Planning student in 1971, I remember being enthralled by Ian McHarg when he spoke at a really important urban cities conference in Sydney.

In fact - many of the themes discussed at that conference - radical though they seemed - in all sorts of ways, from population growth to peak oil to water crises to massive pollution to transport disasters to city infrastructure decay - have in fact come to fruition (sadly).

Well, when push comes to shove - and in the here and now as opposed to a hypothetical not-yet-future: how many, among those business people who do need (or "need") office space, are prepared to move into the high-crime district, and, to boot, fork over astronomical downtown rent for absurdly cramped space once the temporary subsidies run out? How many employees are itching to waste endless hours of former family time creeping to and from work at barely more than walking speed aboard overcrowded, tardy, unreliable buses, which is all the "public transportation" most will ever see? Or if not that, how many will ever conceivably be able to afford to live in the astronomical-rent district, near their downtown work, in this land of "drive until you qualify"?

What does it take to disconnect media pundits this completely from reality? Could it really be that those who write these theoretical articles and approve them for publication are all filthy rich?

how many, among those business people who do need (or "need") office space, are prepared to move into the high-crime district,

Unfortunately for suburban office workers, crime is moving into the suburbs. By contrast, downtown cores are becoming relatively safe places. Just for amusement's sake, try comparing the murder rate in downtown to New York with that in suburban Houston. It will be an educational exercise.

How many employees are itching to waste endless hours of former family time creeping to and from work at barely more than walking speed aboard overcrowded, tardy, unreliable buses, which is all the "public transportation" most will ever see?

I'd recommend taking one of these to work. Oh, you probably don't have one. Too bad about those public transportation cutbacks.

Vancouver Skytrain

Or if not that, how many will ever conceivably be able to afford to live in the astronomical-rent district, near their downtown work, in this land of "drive until you qualify"?

Actually, in Vancouver, the "astronomical-rent" capital of Canada, the residents are driving the corporate head offices out to the suburbs by outbidding them for space. They just like to live downtown. Cost is no object when you are living in lotusland.

Cost is no object when you are living in lotusland.

Well, yes, exactly, that nails it. It's always the problem with Manhattanized cityscapes, and with the transportation methodologies that go with them. Both exist on a "cost is no object" basis, and therefore there's essentially nothing for the great majority, who have limited means, to learn from them. I doubt that most US-ians or Canadians will be purchasing $1,000,000 (2011 $) condos in downtown Vancouver, or downtown anywhere else, any time soon. Really, it's just a pipe dream, fantasyland.

With respect to the train on the cable-stay bridge, if that's what it is, most people in the US will never have one irrespective of any reasonable level of government largesse, since trains like that only travel to and from selected, ultra-dense - read: ultra-unaffordable - cityscapes. Unless somebody finds a magical way to restore some semblance of economic growth (a.k.a. BAU or at least BAU-lite) to keep up with population growth, we'll be seeing less largesse of that sort rather than more, irrespective of dishonest politicians claiming the contrary.

Even in hideously expensive and massively overtaxed New York City, much of the population is consigned to bus hell every morning and evening since the subways (which are the only thing that moves) only go to certain places and even then only in certain directions. The subway lines all converge in Manhattan, but even there, "east"-"west" travelers are utterly out of luck except at a couple of spots; mostly one gets nonsense like this. It's so farcical that the New York Daily News gives out "Pokey Awards" periodically to highlight the problem.

If that's the best that wealthy, crammed-and-jammed New York City can do, then most likely everyone else is out of luck. The exception might be that, as in some smaller cities in France, somebody here or there might build a toy system for the exclusive benefit of a small minority who happen to live in just the right place and to travel in just the right direction, at considerable expense to everyone else. But even that will likely be a surface tram - in the US, obliged, just like a bus, to make a lengthy time-consuming stop at every bloody corner just because it can - and, just like a bus, coming and going when the driver happens to feel like it.

If that's the best that wealthy, crammed-and-jammed New York City can do, then most likely everyone else is out of luck.

And what happens when the 'wealth input' of world trade slows or even stops coming into NYC?

One thing that would happen is that the electricity supply (and other infrastructure) would become dodgy - something the state governor and other pols want to aggravate by closing nuke plants without having the foggiest notion of how to replace or supplant them. As soon as the electricity becomes even a little dodgy - nothing like TEOTWAWKI required - you'll start reading stories about fun things such as people in 50-story buildings facing dilemmas about getting into elevators at a substantial risk of being locked inside all day. Or even-more-fun things such as people dying aboard elevated subway (an oxymoron if ever there was one, but there it is) trains stranded under the broiling July sun and functioning quite effectively as solar cookers.

In my experience 12 hours a week load-shedding causes the following behavior.

Upper floor apartments become less sell-able as no one who is old, has children or is planning on one of those 2 things wants to hike the stairs. People who already own try to adapt their schedule.

Upper middle class apartment buildings and houses buy diesel generators. Everybody in the neighborhood hears the racket and smells the smoke.

Businesses pressure the electricity company to shed their load outside of office hours, then figure out how to work with daylight. The stores that work out an old-fashioned way of running a cash register without electricity get an advantage but have difficulties complying with regulations.

Voltage regulators become scarce and a prized commodity. Battery powered video games remain popular.

I don't know what would happen if the subway lost power frequently, I has only happened once here and that was a disaster

Well if New York continues with the irrational plan of closing all its nuclear plants, there is a real chance of people being stranded in powerless elevators.

I personally have been stranded in elevators a few times, but I just unlocked the doors and left - it often requires a bit of crawling or jumping if the elevator stops between floors. It is possible to unlock elevator doors from the inside, but the elevator companies don't like to talk about it on the advice of its lawyers. I don't like either dodgy elevators or lawyers so I just ignore them. I also have been known to walk through a lot of locked doors and hack a lot of computer systems, but you do what you have to do to get your job done.

It is also possible to unlock train doors from the inside, but getting down off an elevated line could be a problem. If I thought it was likely I would carry a rope, a climbing harness, and some carabiners in my backpack.

the irrational plan of closing all its nuclear plants

What is "irrational" about analysing the actual data of how the nuclear industry is run and determining that Man has demonstrated Man's inability to take the proper level of responsibility for the safe operation of fission plants?

I'll go with 2 examples:
TEPCO, in a court of law, claiming the radioactive waste is not theirs.
Sleeping security guards where nothing was done until a video of the sleeping was posted on the 'public' forum of YouTube.

Note how both of these examples do not discuss the theory of how a plant should be run, but the observed actual conditions.

The word 'irrational' was used - do feel free to defend the use of that word 'irrational'.

If that's the best that wealthy, crammed-and-jammed New York City can do, then most likely everyone else is out of luck

There is another model, much more human scale and attractive - New Orleans.

Average miles driven daily by residents - #2 NYC 16.0 miles, #1 New Orleans 13.7 miles

We use lower cost streetcars, and TOD. A short new streetcar line is under construction and another is in planning.

The exception might be that, as in some smaller cities in France, somebody here or there might build a toy system for the exclusive benefit of a small minority who happen to live in just the right place and to travel in just the right direction, at considerable expense to everyone else.

And my selected French town, Mulhouse - pop 110,900, first line opened 2006.
2008 daily ridership 47,500, 2009 daily ridership 60,000

The system has extended since then (Line 3 & tram-train in Dec. 2010 - 16 km tram + 22 km tram-train), and both people and businesses have better adapted to the new, oil free transportation system.

The blue lines on the map are under construction - 8 new stations will be added onto Line #1 and 3 new stations to Line #2 in 2012, and more beyond that are planned.


Best Hopes for Working with the Speed, Efficiency and Determination of French Bureaucrats,


And how many workers need to be "in an office" these days?

How many workers need to be in a deck chair when the titanic goes under?

The next article by these intellectual giants should be titled:

"To Rethink Sprawl, Start with Cannibalism."

I know that sounds drastic, but by the time these fat and happy distracted air-heads stop day-dreaming/tripping, many might find their only remaining options are which office mates to eat.

The office building is primarily a device for storing information on paper. A traditional business process might involved folders moved through 10 to 20 different desks, being reviewed, added to, approved, etc by staff using reference materials stored to hand or in file cabinets. Loan underwriting, insurance applications, order entry, etc. would be typical transactions flowing through such processes.

Now any people remaining in business processes can be using terminals anywhere, accessing information stored on the cloud. The localization of information will vanish.

There is still the need for human-human interaction and contact, but this is dynamic and situational, not static like the paper storage was.

The need for human interaction is better met by conference / work room / hoteling type spaces that can be reassigned and rearranged flexibly as employeed and business partners see fit. Such spaces need not be owned or managed by the company whose employees are using the spaces.

Offices/cubicles/desks permanently assigned to employees will be a thing of the past.

The problem with that is it doesn't take into account human nature. In theory, yes, you could save a lot of money this way. But practically speaking, people like to a place to call their own. They don't like the office equivalent of "hot racking." Even people who are seldom in the office like a space to call home.

Yeah but ... even a boring old boomer like me, in the last couple of years of his government office-bound career, realised that I was much more concerned to be expertly connected (with ipads and smartphones and laptops etc), and that the office networks (intranet and so on) were clever and well designed.

Much more important to me (even then) than 100 sq ft of office and a nice pot-plant in the corner I could call my own. Now of course, I wouldn't commute daily for zillions of dollars.

The permanent assignments are indeed a thing of the past for the peons in some corporate cultures. (The head honchos will not be giving up their offices anytime soon, and there's probably something to learn from that.) However, by no means should we conclude that the incessant daily travel is about to go away. More likely it will just become more random (i.e. to a different building on Monday than on Wednesday) - and therefore even less amenable to limited-fixed-route public transit (read: rail, be it light, heavy, or whatever) than it is now.

In some alternate, theoretical universe inhabited by, say, otherworldly planners, the commuting etc. might not be needed, but in this universe the high muckety-mucks won't be parting with interaction and especially control anytime soon. And there's always fashion and posturing to consider, since those often trump any possible rational considerations.

What Peak Oilers Won’t Tell You About Peak Oil

And what RedState won't do is look at what the 1950's pro-nuke M. King Hubbert thought about fission power after decades of demonstrated failure. And based on the comments, neither will RedState readers.


``Fifteen years ago I thought solar power was impractical because I thought nuclear power was the answer. But I spent some time on an advisory committee on waste disposal to the Atomic Energy Commission. After that, I began to be very, very skeptical because of the hazards. That's when I began to study solar power. I'm convinced we have the technology to handle it right now. We could make the transition in a matter of decades if we begin now.'' - M. King Hubbert

And, naturally, here come the labels - guaranteed to ensure the average Redstate reader makes the sign for warding off the evil eye, thereby disengaging the brain for whatever "facts" the blogger wishes to peddle :-

"Neo-Malthusians and Progressives make sure you know about Hubbert’s pessimistic outlook for conventional crude oil."

Peak Oil is just another Liberal plot...sigh...

Peak Oil – All you have to know about Peak Oil whackos is go to The Oil Drum. What a bunch of morons who follow that website. Sheesh.


maybe I should be reading more republican truths...

Making fun of TOD might be a good stealth strategy-there ARE some people who are only ignorant rather than stupid-millions of them, tens of millions of them!!!!

A few of them would probably check the site out and voila!!! Paul on the road to Damascus!!

Even one tenth of one percent of a three hundred million million crowd is a lot of potential converts.

I believe I will try it myself.

Coronal Mass Ejection about 0700 UTC today. Already causing radio problems. Possibly the reason for the "unexpected" data losses during launch of NASA Mars probe?

No forecast yet from NASA on possible earth impact. Real-time proton flux is increasing.

Click Image above for latest

More info as available at http://spaceweather.com/

RADIATION STORM: A minor radiation storm is in progress. The protons making up this storm were accelerated toward Earth by shock waves in a CME that left the sun around 0700 UT on Nov. 26th. This event could have an effect on high-latitude HF radio communication.

Does this mean we might get northern lights again?

The last time there was a CME, the northern lights were seen as far south as Georgia and Arkansas. It was cloudy in my area, though, so I didn't see a thing.

Possibly in a few days. There are also some arguing that northern lights are enhanced at the moment due to high altitude material from Fukushima. Others argue this is nonsense of course...

Looks to me like at least a glancing blow to earth from rough direction but NASA should have updated official forecast today hopefully. Really surprised that during Mars probe launch NASA tv commentary was awkward due to unexpected data problems ("Cannot confirm at this time because of unexpected data loss" was said frequently) but they never explained why they were having data problems. Despite this the launch seemed to be a success.

Last time, the northern lights were seen just a few hours after the CME. The CME happened in the afternoon, and the lights were seen that night. They were stunning.

Looks like this is just a minor storm, though. It was a severe storm that caused the October lights.

Wow, thanks for posting this...I will share it with my wife and kids...we miss the spectacular displays we saw on occasion in north-central North Dakota.

The night sky in general was spectacular...too much light pollution where we live now...although I did see a bright green meteor over/east of the Sandia mountains a few weeks ago.

The greatest chance of lower latitude light shows isn't until the CME actually hits earth on Monday. Forecast details below.


RADIATION STORM AND CME ALERT: A solar radiation storm is in progress around Earth. At the moment, the storm is classified as minor, which means it has little effect on our planet other than to disturb HF radio transmissions at high latitudes. Bigger effects, however, may be in the offing. The same blast that caused the radiation storm also hurled a CME into space at about 930 km/s (2 million mph). According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will reach Earth on Nov. 28th at 17:21 UT (+/- 7 hours). Click to view an animated forecast track:

The impact of the cloud could trigger a geomagnetic storm. Indeed, NOAA forecasters estimate a 58% chance of severe storming around the poles when the CME arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall on Monday.

The images you link to were caused by a CME on October 21st which hit earth on October 24th.


A coronal mass ejection (CME) shot off the sun late in the evening of October 21 and hit Earth on October 24 at about 2 PM ET.

This current event looks like a far bigger "hit" on earth than the one last month.

Just my luck. The forecast is "mostly cloudy" Monday night.

I think we'll clear out here tomorrow/tomorrow nite here in southwest WI. I'll be out looking (even if temps will be around 20F).

Leanan, your link above includes a great shot of the aurora from my old home town, Saskatoon. I can remember watching the northern lights on winter nights in the 1950s (with the temperature at around 20 below). The amazing thing was that, on very still nights, you could sometimes hear a faint crackling sound as the display danced in the sky. Does anyone else know of this? Any idea as to the physics behind it?

I have heard of a sound being heard sometimes. Don't know the physics.

That sort of sound is also occasionally reported with more spectacular meteor falls; I recall several of us hearing it a long time ago at summer camp during a meteor shower. But nobody seems to have a clue as to how it might be mediated, so the usual tactic, which was indeed deployed at the time, is to deny its existence. One hypothesis is that it has to do with electromagnetic fields interacting with local objects (such as leaves) but really I've never had any luck at all accounting for it, nor can I even say whether the aurora and meteor sounds are actually related.

I've never even seen the northern lights, let alone heard them. But I found this, via the Google.

So far, attempts to record sound during aurora have failed to produce any proof that such sounds exist, but it is hard to ignore the numerous reports that go back centuries.

There are generally two types of sounds reported to accompany the aurora borealis. The first is a swishing sound that changes with movements in that auroral display. The second type is a crackling sound, like static electricity makes.

The physics for actual sound don't work. The lights are too far away - as with thunder and lightning, there would be a delay - and the atmosphere too thin up where the lights are to carry sound.

But there is a possible explanation.

The most likely explanation for this type of sound is that it is created inside the observer's head: not a figment of the imagination, but rather leakage of the electrical impulses from the nerves in the eye (carrying images of the aurora to the brain) into the part of the brain the processes sound. In a very quiet environment, there are no sound signals for the brain to process, so it notices these tiny leakage signals and the result is sounds that change in time with the aurora. This explanation was actually tested by some early explorers, who found that the sound went away if their eyes were covered.

The second type of sound is more mysterious. A crackling sound, like static electricity sparking, might be explained by the strong electric and magnetic fields associated with the aurora, but so far theories and measurements have not provided a satisfactory explanation. Research continues.

You can try here


though I haven't managed to catch any yet :(


I saw a phenomenal display from the Camden hills on the Maine Coast in the summer of 1981, I believe it was, and I certainly recall that there was the sense of a continual noise accompanying it, matching the description you give. The idea that it's direct electrical impulses via the optic nerve or otherwise seems sensible to me, as it was clearly responsive to the events as they played out, not a following echo.

It filled the entire sky, and seemed to change entirely in colors and forms without my even being aware that it was going through a change. Just all of the sudden, it would be entirely different, but with little or no discernible transition.

I used to see them when delivering papers as a boy, biking around town pre-dawn. I didn't know then this was such a treat that others wanted to see so badly.. but I did enjoy them.

I hope you catch them, Leanan.

I can recall a winter night spent on a southern Utah mesa. The silence was actually deafening, as my brain apparently strained to hear something, it felt like 100 decibels.

I've seen the northern lights numerous times, but I've never heard any noise.

Most likely the noise from northern lights is caused by crosstalk between the optic system and the auditory system in your brain. People often see the northern lights in extremely quiet wilderness areas, and if your brain is not used to complete quiet it is likely to start hearing internal noise. Personally, I just hear a lot of noise from my heart, blood vessels, and stomach. Occasionally I hear someone say a single, random word. I go looking for them, but there's nobody there.

Other people hear music and other weird stuff. However, if you regularly start to hear voices speaking in coherent sentences in urban areas, you probably should see your doctor about it. If you hear it in the wilderness, it means you are becoming what the northerners call "bushed" and need to get back to civilization before you lose your mind completely.

Similarly, if you are in total darkness, e.g. in a deep cave, you are likely to start seeing a lot of lights and strange patterns. The brain really doesn't like to be without sensory input, so it starts to invent things. Try to avoid total sensory deprivation because I'm told it tends to get weird.

We need to keep this concept in mind when we contemplate placing our parents in nursing homes.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in such places, and while total sensory deprivation is not an issue, inadequate quality sensory stimulus is a literal killer.

Old people need to be in the company of healthy active people to the maximum possible extent, and in personalized and varied but stable surroundings. A nursing home is worse, in many respects, than a prison;most prisoners are able to interact frequently and at will with other inmates.They have things to look forward to, even if these things are only television and a turn or two around an exercise yard.They are able to get enough exercise to relieve some stress most of the time.

An old man in a chair in the hallway of a nursing home is likely to friends of family visiting no more than once a month,on average, and while the staff people are usually friendly and kind, staff in such places are very , very busy with pressing duties ranging from housework to changing bedpans to administering meds.

Right now I am free to post as much as I like here because I have dropped everything else in order to look after my elderly Dad.

I would rather be in jail myself than to see him in a nursing home-even a very good one.

Most of them aren't very good due to the drive for profits and income restraints ;too many residents are on govt life support for good quality psychological care delivery to be a realistic goal..

And in any case, money cannot buy friends and family.Friends and family are what we are going to miss the most when our turn comes to be warehoused.

I'm hoping to go directly from home to the compost heap.

TOD folks,

I took a quick look at the energy export databrowser, and saw that the leading page has a graph depicting World oil production.

The graph states and depicts that World oil production increased 2.2% in 2010.

Although 2011 isn't over yet, I wonder what this site's 2011 graph for World oil production will depict?

The thing I am confused on is this: I remember seeing other graphs showing that the World has been on a oil production plateau since ~ 2005. Yet the graph at the link below depicts World oil production increasing steadily, if not dramatically, including since 2005.

Is this a situation where one source is depicting 'all liquids' and another is depicting crude plus condensate? The Mazama Science graph is labeled 'World Oil Production'.

They are using BP's Total Petroleum Liquids number, and 2.2% is correct. But of course, there were some voluntary reductions in production in 2009, and 2009 was the only year since 2001 to (so far) show a year over year decline in annual oil prices (to $62 WTI), but the more relevant comparison is the production rate of change relative to 2005, which is negligible, up one-sixth of one percent per year.

Five annual "Yergin Gap" charts follow, showing the gaps between where we would have been at the 2002 to 2005 rates of increase, versus the actual data in 2010 (common vertical scale):

EIA Total Liquids (including biofuels):

BP Total Petroleum Liquids:

EIA Crude + Condensate:

Global Net Oil Exports (GNE, BP & Minor EIA data, Total Petroleum Liquids):

Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia’s net imports):

I would particularly note the difference between the first chart, total liquids, and the last chart, Available Net Exports (ANE).


Thank you very much, these charts are very informative and helped set my sight picture.

Do you have your own web site or blog, and/or do you conduct analysis on global liquid fuels supply for government and/or private industry?

I occasionally post on Sam Foucher's blog, Graphoilogy, and I've done a couple of presentations to private organizations, and I split the speaking fees with Sam. Most of our current stuff has been on the ASPO-USA website and the Energy Bulletin. Of course, if analysts were paid on the basis of accurate forecasts, IMO Sam would be the most highly paid oil analyst in the world.

I did a presentation a few years ago at Sandia Labs, and it was video-linked to several other national labs (I had to pass a security background check before I was allowed to enter the premises). I understand that a group of scientists approached higher ups within the DOE about our net export work, and the scientists were basically told to quit bothering the higher ups about Peak Oil/Peak Exports.

Great, I will navigate over to Graphoilogy and check it out.

If the political climate has/will change in DOE, and you are invited to SNL again to speak, I would be interested, as I may be able to attend (on PTO, my own time), as long as I am not previously obligated to my task(s) for meetings, deliverable, etc.

[Edit} I assumed you spoke at SNL-NM, or was it SNL-CA?

(It was NM.)

I frequently feel like Tim Allen in the movie, "The Santa Clause." He kept asking, "What happens if I fall off the roof?" And no one had an answer.

Most government officials, analysts, reporters, bloggers, etc. keep discussing plans and scenarios based on an expectation of a virtually infinite rate of increase in the volume of exported oil, when some simple math shows that the volume of oil exports available to importers other than China and India (Available Net Exports, or ANE) fell from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010, a volumetric decline of a million barrels per day per year.

In any case, I think that the huge declines in government spending that will occur at all levels in most OECD countries is going to be a huge shock to the system, as country after country is shut out of the credit markets, leaving the "lender" of last resort, central banks, as the only method left that would allow something akin to BAU in government spending. As a recent article* put it, we are looking at defaults or inflation, on a global scale.

Governments will of course attempt to raise taxes on the hated "1%," but the problem that the one-percenters have is that so much of their wealth, IMO, is somewhat illusionary since it requires abundant energy to generate the corporate profits and debt service that investors are expecting. So I expect that attempts to increase, or maintain, revenue by raising taxes will be largely futile.



I agree.

It is shame that so may analytic / decision-analysis worker bees in the government are currently working on issues which have nothing to do with the oil depletion predicament, and indeed, are working on issues which drain us of not only brainpower but money. The issues the folks I am speaking of are like sandcastles to be soon washed away by the tides of LTG reality.

In plain-speak, we are spending a lot of money on things that add no value our society.

As far as the U.S. deficit goes, the meth to balance the books is easy, the courage to implement this math seems impossible for our politicians to muster.

2011 U.S. deficit: $1100B

Repeal of the Bush(Extended by Obama) tax cuts (all of them): -$420B
Add a tax for oil at $10/bbl(x ~ 7B bbls/year used in the U.S.): -$140B
Add a tax of 0.03 percent on Wall Street financial transactions:: -$350B
Cut U.S. MIC (not just DoD) expenditures: -$200B


2011 U.S. deficit: $1100B

Repeal of half of the Bush(Extended by Obama) tax cuts: -$210B
Add a tax for oil at $5/bbl(x ~ 7B bbls/year used in the U.S.): -$70B
Add a tax of 0.0015 percent on Wall Street financial transactions:: -$175B
Cut U.S. MIC(not just DoD) expenditures: -$350B
Cut non-MIC expenditures: -$300B

These numbers can be twealed in many various ways to achieve the goal of balancing the books.

Shared sacrifices, but not the end of America...the beginning of the end of BAU, no doubt...

I would abolish the Payroll Tax and replace it with a tax on energy consumption, in order to fund Social Security, Medicare & in an attempt to close the deficit. I believe that most households in the US pay more in the Payroll Tax than the income tax, and an energy consumption tax would capture income from a good deal of the underground economy.

I agree that some sort of energy consumption tax would be appropriate.

Agree totally. Those that use more, pay more. Gives incentive to reduce consumption.

Hey! You there! Stop playing with the deckchairs and head for the lifeboats :)

Well, let's try that on for size. In round numbers about $1 trillion for payroll taxes, and about 100 quads for energy, or $1/100,000 BTU. That's around 85 cents/gallon for motor fuel, or around 8 or 9 cents/kWh for electricity if the tax were applied to power-plant fuel. So you're campaigning to get Newt Gingrich and others like him elected, as Bill Clinton did with his gasoline tax and all the memes that went with it, only moreso considering that 85 cents far exceeds what Clinton wanted to charge... ?

Another change to BAU - 179 deductions for small wind and solar.

Governments will of course attempt to raise taxes on the hated "1%,"

I don't think the 99ers hate the 1%, it's more a matter of push back from decades of sqeeze the 99ers policies in favor of the 1%. The R's have played their hand in that regard and even want to eliminate SS and have children work as janitors. If they had their way the 99ers would be endentured servants and the 1% would be bejeweled on million acre properties with 1/2 million sq. ft. mansions. If the 99ers don't push back they'll end up slaves.

At this point, I think there are obvious signs to the average person something is abnormal. Oil goes to $147/bbl in 2008, the financial industry and the economy crash. The Oil price plunges, the economy recovers. Now oil (Brent, at least) is over $100/bbl and Europe is struggling with the debt "crisis." Ever since 2008, the world has been moving from one crisis to another despite world governments pumping liquidity into the financial system.

The thing I am confused on is this: I remember seeing other graphs showing that the World has been on a oil production plateau since ~ 2005. Yet the graph at the link below depicts World oil production increasing steadily, if not dramatically, including since 2005.

Heisenberg, World oil is not really world oil, world oil also includes a lot of other stuff like ethanol, bottled gas, palm oil and even refinery process gain. Natural gas is probably 10 years from peaking or perhaps more. Crude + Condensate, the stuff that you turn into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, kerosene and such peaked in 2006, or at least according to JODI. The EIA has C+C peaking in 2010. They have C+C 2011 average production, through August, 210 thousand barrels per day below the 2010 average. Anyway we have been on a plateau for 7 years.

Below are production charts for JODI and EIA C+C in thousands of barrels per day. Jodi is through September 2011 and the EIA is through August 2011.



Ron P.


Thank you very much for clearing that up for me. I suspected the issue was the difference between C&C and all liquids. I did not note a definition of 'World Oil' on the Mazama Science Energy/oil data browser, although it did reference the BP Statistical Review...if I was cognizant of what the BP SR counted as 'oil' I would have grokked the chart wrt the other charts I have seen.

Did you produce these charts in your post, or if not, may I ask where they can be found?

Yes I produced them from the JODI data and the EIA data The EIA gives both all liquids and C+C. At the EIA site, when you click under "petroleum" then "monthly/quarterly" it will bring up all liquids. Then you must click on "Crude oil including lease condensate" then update to bring up the C+C data.

But from my post above you can just click on the charts and it will bring them up on my photobucket page. There you will find the HTML code to copy them.

Ron P.

Big Carbon's Sock Puppets Declare War on America and the Planet

... Last week found the right wing echo chamber, from Fox News to the New York Post, and the conservative blogosphere in an anti-green frenzy based on faux facts from a new book, Throw Them All Out. The author of this far-fetched screed is Peter Schweizer, Sarah Palin's foreign policy guru, currently employed by the Hoover Institution, a think tank funded largely by oil interests (e.g., Exxon, ARCO, Transamerica, and Richard Mellon Scaife's oil and banking fortune) to craft the philosophical underpinnings for unregulated pollution, unrestricted corporate profit taking, and massive corporate welfare for the carbon/nuke incumbents.

... The frenzy against government support for green energy is ironic considering the silence from those same quarters regarding the hundreds of billions of dollars in annual subsidies and externalized costs flowing from government and the American public to the carbon and nuke companies that fund the right wing think tanks and the conservative blogosphere.

The same DOE loan guarantee program that supported the solar projects gave an astonishing $8.3 billion loan guarantee -- many times the size of the solar projects -- to Southern Company to build two nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is an industry with a product so expensive it cannot compete in any version of free market capitalism.

Energy Companies Throw $3.2 Million Into Latest Pro-Fracking Push

Energy companies are the new big spenders in New York State. Their goal? To make sure people understand ‘fracking’ isn’t as bad as it sounds.

A new story in The New York Times details the industry’s push to influence politicians and regulators. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is in the last throes of trying to decide where and whether to allow hydrofracking, and so far drilling companies have dropped $3.2 million on lobbying the government alone since the beginning of 2010. And that’s not even counting hundreds of thousand of dollars in campaign contributions and broad advertising campaigns.

... A recent in-depth episode of Public Radio International’s “This American Life” tackled both huge influx of money and the local impact from fracking, profiling the community of Mt. Pleasant, Penn., where a natural gas company leased 95 percent of the township’s land for drilling. New York’s communities may soon have similar stories to tell.

Chavez repatriates Venezuela's foreign gold reserves

... Venezuela plans to bring home around 160 tonnes of gold, worth more than $11bn (£7bn).

"The gold is returning to where it was always meant to be: the vaults of the Central Bank of Venezuela," Mr Chavez said.

Officials said the gold had come from European countries but did not say how much was in the first shipment, citing security concerns. Most of Venezuela's foreign gold reserves are held in London.

Some critics have suggested that Mr Chavez is acting out of fears Venezuela's overseas assets could one day be frozen by sanctions, as happened to his friend and ally, the late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

The curse of natural resources [or money = corruption, more money = more corruption]...

How Guyana gold mining threatens its green future

Port Kaituma's reliance on mining is replicated across Guyana - gold accounts for nearly half of the country's total exports, which were some $218m in the first quarter of 2011.

But mining threatens what could be a greater asset for Guyana - its pristine rainforests.

Peru protests at huge Conga gold mine in Cajamarca

Thousands of people in northern Peru have protested against plans for a huge open-cast goldmine in the high Andes. People in the Cajamarca region say the proposed Conga mine will cause pollution and destroy water supplies.

The US-based mining company Newmont has promised modern reservoirs to replace threatened mountain lakes.

Sierra Leone: Timber!

Illegal logging is laying waste to Sierra Leone’s endangered forests. Despite years of laws and bans, its precious timber is still being exported abroad and unless something is done the country’s woodlands will have been destroyed within a decade. So why can the authorities not do more to stop it?

... an undercover team discovers that an illegal multi-million dollar timber trade is flourishing under the nose of the government and that associates of one of the most powerful politicians in the country are involved.

The curse of industrial parasites.

Nuclear power 'gets little public support worldwide'

There is little public appetite across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates. In countries with nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend. Most believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs.

Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants". In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind". Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.

Your posts (and Jeppen's advocacy of nuclear power) have spurred my interest...I went to the U.S. NRC site where they have a list of U.S. commercial power generation nuclear plants, including information on each plant's commissioning date, and it's license expiration date, including any renewals.

This data isn't in a spreadsheet on that site, so I have started to put it in a spreadsheet of my own.

My quick skim of the information leads me to the idea that the U.S. will be out of the nuclear fission generation business by ~ 2060, assuming a 60-year rector service life, not counting the new Watts Bar reactor being built and the two or so plants under design for construction to start 'soon'.

Looks like the window of retirement for our current fleet (using a 60-year rector life) is roughly between 2034 and 2065-ish.

Given a say 20-year design/permitting/construction cycle, just to maintain our current nuclear fission power generation capability, it seems we would need to start of wave of such activity starting no later than ~ 2015, or replace this power with other generation methods, or do without.

And if our total electricity demand increases, then the situation is worse.

One of the biggest issues I have with nuclear is the lack of a viable decommissioning plan for all these nukes along with their spent fuel stockpiles. (Not to mention where are we going to find the $Trillion or so to get the job done - oops, that's what the rate payers are for)

The sentiment I got from talking with the Asst. Sect of Energy was 'kick the can down the road'. They're assuming that technology - sometime in the future - will deal with this problem.

From my own calculation we simply will not have the resources to deal with it, then.

I've run across a presentation re: reactor fleet vs retirement/replacement somewhere and if I find it I'll post it. Meanwhile, your final analysis is spot on.


I'd like to see old reactors replaced with brand new ones, using the best technology available today. Storage issues have to be worked out. They can't be storing spent fuel rods in swimming pools with nothing more then a garden shed protecting them. I suppose if spent fuel can't be recycled, then storing it in casks might be the best bet for the time being.

I'd like to see old reactors replaced with brand new ones, using the best technology available today.

And how does your wish address things like the sleeping security guard issue?

How does your wish help North Korea get fission power for its citizens?

Does your wish allow Iran to mass implement fission power?

It doesn't... The reactors we have are getting old (some very old). They won't last forever. I have no idea how you are going to replace all those base load MW's of power if you don't build new plants at some point. Build new, shut down the old. Doubt it ever happens, but would be best case scenario.

It is interesting to note that this problem is much more severe in the Eastern Interconnect than in the Western or Texas regions. Based on 2007 (last pre-recession year) figures, nuclear accounts for about 9.5% of total power generation in the Western, about 10.1% in Texas, and 21.0% in the Eastern.

We may get to see a preview of the problem in New York. Governor Cuomo is working actively to block any license extensions for the Indian Point reactors, which expire in 2013 and 2015. These reactors provide about 25% of the power for the NYC area, largely base load. The region has been unable to get new transmission capacity built in the last decade; new local coal plants are very unlikely to be approved; base load natural gas plants will have problems with expense and fuel supplies; and local renewable are unlikely to be suitable for base load.

The region might have to turn off electric billboards, the lightfest of Times Square, and move to the smaller fluorescents.

Perhaps the new normal will be electric power like Baghdad has.

The region might have to turn off electric billboards, the lightfest of Times Square, and move to the smaller fluorescents.

Flourescents?! I'm thinking a lot more LEDs

Don't those billboards already run on banks of led's? I seem to recall a 'how it's made' epp where they showed how those things along with the sports stadium variety are made.


I should also have pointed out that the problem is not only relatively worse in the Eastern Interconnect, but is worse in absolute terms as well. The amount of nuclear power generated in the Eastern is larger than the total power generated in the Western and Texas Interconnects combined (Western and Texas Interconnects all sources about 13.8% of the US total; Eastern nuclear about 18.1% of the US total).

Doing something about nuclear means that the Eastern Interconnect will, IMO, face a severe dose of austerity: large spending on efficiency instead of other things and a good amount of simply doing without. The question I'm interested in is whether the politically-dominant Eastern Interconnect will attempt to impose the same austerity on Texas and the West.

Side note: Coal is also a substantially greater problem, on both relative and absolute scales, for the East than for the non-East.

Not sure where you are getting your numbers but per EIA for 2010, net electrical energy for load in the WECC plus ERCOT was 25.7% of total, not 13.8%.


In 2010, 85.8% of nuclear net generation in the U.S. was in the Eastern Interconnect, compared to 74.3% of total net generation. The WECC and Texas are about half as reliant on nuclear as the East. There are plants only in CA, AZ, WA, and TX (the 4 most populous states in those two interconnects).

It doesn't...

Why choose a path that some of Humanity can't have for arbitrary and capricious reasons?

I have no idea how you are going to replace all those base load MW's of power if you don't build new plants at some point.

I'll change a bit of your quote...

I have no idea how you are going to replace all those barrels of oil if you don't drill for more oil at some point. (Oh hey - a TOD theme!)

What's the plan to clean up the environment when the reactors fail? Denial? Do you approve of TEPCO's position of the radioactive material isn't theirs?

They won't last forever. I have no idea how you are going to replace all those base load MW's of power if you don't build new plants at some point.


Best hopes for there being enough wisdom and resources for a clean and safe shutdown of all the old plants... not holding my breath though!

I tend to agree with your problems with decommissioning Seraph. A few years ago I was a strong supporter of nuclear power but I have changed my mind lately. The reason is not a problem with nuclear power but a problem with what might happen to the nuclear fuel if we, or any nuclear power nation for that matter, if we have a total economic collapse.

The damn places just might be abandoned. That could prove disastrous. Nuclear fuel, even spent nuclear fuel, requires years of cooling or else you could poison the whole countryside with radiation.

Ron P.

"The reason is ... a problem with what might happen to the nuclear fuel if we, or any nuclear power nation for that matter, if we have a total economic collapse."



This is a concept that the pro nuke folk have yet to grok... systems thinking is not their forte!

Handling the post peak oil collapse is a major reason for my support of new nuclear powerplants in Sweden. Electricity is very important for keeping an industrialized society running and having lots of electricity makes it easier to replace oil and ultimately synthetisize hydrocarbon chemicals and liquid fuel for chainsaws, tractors, ambulances, garbage trucks, infrastructure maintainance, emergency powerplants, etc from biomass and hydrogen.

I aim for getting a functioning industrial society thru this bottleneck.

Buiding new powerplants also makes the decomissioning of the old ones less dependant on the value of the decomissioning funds, money on paper is worth very little after a collapse while power is worth a lot.

We have very similar goals, Magnus, in 'getting us through the bottleneck' but it seems to me that trying to keep Nuclear Power Running and Safe- after an Oil Crash and probably consequent string of economic and political crashes, (and whatever climate is going to be doing) is like trying to run an electric car with a wind turbine on its roof. Nuclear depends on a stable and supporting environment in order to function. I don't think it fits through that bottleneck..

While renewables currently depend on the same oil infrastructure to be built and maintained, but NOT also to be kept safe under ticking clock scenarios like the myriad spent-fuel pools and high-tension materials that need to be consistently supplied to the Nuclear Industry simply in order to keep it secure. When problems arise, look at the number of trucks and parts/materials that have to be brought quickly to bear to contain the situation.

I mean, what resources were brought in just to respond to the Ringhals fire this year? What did we have to have available in order to sandbag the hell out of the Nebraska plants during that flooding this summer? I don't suggest Renewables are supposed to do it all.. but in this case, just saying that Nuclear doesn't pass the risk test, IMO.


For the Ringhals fire in a vacuum cleaner were lots of personel for cleaning the sooth needed and simple materials. That kind of accident is probably the easiest one to handle during a depression, it might not even take more time to get the reactor running again.

Emergency sandbags around a nuclear powerplant is an indiation that the design were not suited for the location and that is bad. A lot worse is having badly built nuclear reactors in seismically active areas and areas with tsunami risk since large natural disasters makes emergency efforts a lot harder.

One of the worst risks is the response of not investing when the economy is getting weak. Not building waste repositoires and filling the spent fuel pools cost alost nothing. Not buidling new nuclear powerplants and running the old ones longer is cheaper. And even worse is hiding security problems to be able to run the old power plants and when the economical situation gets realy bad use rags and bailing wire.

An odd coinicidence is that the anti-nuclear people have succeeded in making reinvestments scarce and thus more expensive and blocked waste handling efforts and this will make the situation worse.

In Sweden we have the benefints of very stable bedrock, good investments in waste handling and reinvestments in the old nuclear powerplants but It would be a lot better with new ones replacing the old nuclear powerplants.

I hope a stable society with lots of electricity can attract industries to move over here.

The Ringhals fire has left the reactor offline for months, and those many workers and their simple materials are clearly a good example of a very SMALL incident. You can handwave the Nebraska plants away as being poorly sited, but a lot of things can turn a good location into a bad one.. and we can hope that peace remains in Europe through the next couple decades, and the ability to supply properly constructed pumps or transformers can persist through whatever is coming.. Swedish Bedrock or not.

I don't disparage your heralding of the very good work and engineering that has been done, but there seems to be a real shortage of the philosophy of 'Hoping for the best, but Planning for the Worst', particularly when the potential 'worsts' are getting worse by the month.

"..anti-nuclear people have succeeded in making reinvestments scarce" - good job blaming the messengers.. how many warning shots does it take?

Yes, is is a good example of a small and dumb incident blocking a large powerplant for a long time.

We must continue to build transformers, pumps, etc if we are going to continue having industries that can supply spare parts and knowledge. Building new nuclear powerplants and closing badly built, worn down or badly situated ones keeps the knowledge active and makes the closures easier.

I dont plan much for the worst outcomes of the current resource crisis, that is new kinds of fascism and fascists balancing their budgets with theft and mass murder of competing consumers. I try to encourage solutions that creates social capital and makes our governments institutions better to make it less likely that my country fall prey for such a development.

If we had had not had such a large anti nuclear opposition in Sweden I find it likely that our oldest nuclear plant Oskarshamn 1 would have been replaced with a new one ten years ago. It is down yet again now having its unique turbine set picked apart to find to root for cause for a vibration problem. A few new builds and we would have had a lot more nuclear industries available today, we once had the ability to make almost every component in a BWR.

It is seems like we in manny countries have had a strange kind of symbiosis between greens blocking new nuclear powerplants or any new powerplant, the owners of old coal powerplants and bean counters who strip mine old capital assets by avoiding reinvestments.


I would appreciate reading the presentation you mentioned.

I like DaddyLongLegs' idea of replacing the reactors in place if possible, since those sites have been permitted and have the necessary transmission lines.

Unless certain sites have unacceptable risks from earthquakes, flooding, etc. and acceptable mitigation measures were too expensive.

Also, the waste stream issue would need to have a workable solution...

Still looking for those presentations (It's here somewhere - 1.43 million files on my HD)

Meanwhile, I found a really cool energy mapping website (US only)


Incredible amount of energy data (nuclear included)

@Heisenberg: "just to maintain our current nuclear fission power generation capability, it seems we would need to start of wave of such activity starting no later than ~ 2015, or replace this power with other generation methods, or do without"

I'd say do without.

I agree that is certainly one available course of action.

Proposed initiative on nuclear plants would spur blackouts, state says

A state ballot initiative proposed for next fall would force California’s two nuclear power plants to immediately shut down, causing rolling blackouts, spikes in electricity rates and billions of dollars in economic losses each year, the state's nonpartisan analyst has found.

The report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office says the shutdown of San Onofre in northern San Diego County and Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County would disrupt one of the state’s most reliable power sources and have profound effects on government and the economy.

The two plants generate nearly 16% of the state’s electricity, the report says, calling them “integral parts of the state’s electricity grid.”

The Nuclear Waste Act of 2012 would prohibit nuclear power generation in the state until a permanent disposal site for high-level nuclear waste is approved by the federal government.

California drifts farther and farther from the real world. They are contemplating shutting down their nuclear plants while simultaneously reducing their carbon emissions by using more and more electric cars. This could be a practical solution in some other parallel universe in which the laws of thermodynamics were irrelevant and solutions to energy problems magically appeared out of nowhere.

Oh, I know. They are going to use solar panels and wind turbines. Yes that will clearly save them as long as they only drive on sunny, windy days, and as long as the state doesn't go bankrupt subsidizing it all. (Don't put your money in California state bonds).

That is one of the problems of 'government by popularity poll'.

It doesn't help if the electorate is uninformed of the 2nd and 3rd order issues of each of their decisions. But then, letting the companies regulate themselves hasn't worked out so well [in Japan] either.

Well, yes. To get a proposition on the ballot, the backer need only get a certain number of signatures. Noone is doing a system design study, then putting props before the voters to implement it. Most votes are dependent upon emotional arguments, rather than logic. Whether such a prop passes is uncertain, I bet the utilities will blitz the airwaves with the message -your bills will go up, and we'll have rolling blackout. In this case it has the benefit of being true (independent of whether running the reactors is a good idea), and voters usually respond to the question "will it personally cost me money?".

Recently the local utility (PG&E) put a proposition on the ballot attempting to block Community Choice Aggregation. It became quickly obvious that the utility was using lots of funds from out of state energy interests. They had also written the initiative so strongly that it was obviously overkill. When both became known they didn't have a chance. So the issue of whether it was a good economic choice for the communities or the state simply became a non-issue.

What seems to be missing all over the world (California to Greece at least) is both trust in government and a government that can be trusted to govern. In addition there is no faith in large institutions like public utilities. In this case the lack of faith seems to be justified. PG&E may very well have a good economic and societal justification for creating the initiative and pushing hard but their choice of tactics was so disrespectful of the voters that they not only lost but damaged their credibility for a long time to come.

According to this PDF paper (i am not sure of the date...(I hate it when authors do not put the date of publication on the front cover), California gets 14.5% of its electricity from nuclear plants, including out-of-state plants, which I take it to mean some portion of the power from Palo Verde, ~ 45 miles West of Phoenix, AZ.

IMO CA should keep San Onofre and Diablo Canyon open, but only if a current, thorough safety analysis concludes that the plants can withstand the maximum predicted tsunami and earthquake events. If the analysis indicates shortfalls, then IMO CA should either pay for the necessary upgrades or shut the plants down.

If they shut the plants down, they can look at a combo of importing the needed trons and a serious campaign to generate negawatts, along with some more solar electricity generation, and a measure of lifestyle change with Powerdown (doing less with less) to boot.


This is from 2006 or 2007. SCE owns 15.8% of Palo Verde, SCPPA (an association of most of the Socal area munis) owns 5.9%, and LADWP owns 5.7%

Well, they ARE going to use Solar Panels and Wind Turbines, like they already do.. they just don't know that it will also go hand in hand with a massive reduction of gross energy per capita.

But it sounds like you're thinking that there are some sorts of 'reasonable and realistic' energy sources they should be looking to instead? There will at least still be some daily deliveries of Solar and Wind power arriving in Callie, when many of the currently 'rational' choices are only Nostalgic Footnotes in Pop Tunes.

Nuclear and Coal are fraught with far more giddy fantasies than those renewables, and that check is coming due.

I agree.

ALL of the 19 thermal power stations (including the 2 nukes) on the CA coast which currently use once-thru-cooling are being required to close or retrofit new cooling.

One good thing with realy dumb decisions in other countries is that they provide examples to influence local opinions. If you do it realy well it could even provide stories for scaring children into doing their math homework...

Nouriel Roubini Names Variants of Possible Eurozone Collapse

... Nouriel Roubini offers the following 4 scenarios for the eurozone:

Symmetrical reflation. This is the best option for restoring growth and competitiveness of the eurozone's periphery while undertaking necessary austerity measures and structural reforms. This implies significant easing of monetary policy by the European Central Bank, which can eventually depreciate the common European currency against other major currencies. That is why both Germany and the ECB oppose the idea.

Recessionary reflation. It implies tough austerity policies. However, austerity and spending cuts lead to production cuts, at least in near-term perspective. In order to avoid the negative consequences of such structural reforms and to improve the balance of trade it is necessary to depreciate the common currency.

A default followed by a withdrawal from the eurozone. The common currency may survive if the sick peripheral eurozone economies go back to their national currencies – lira, drachma, peso etc. However, Euro will also suffer losses because the currencies of the former eurozone members will depreciate. That will be the European variant of Lehman Brothers’ collapse, which caused the 2008-2009 global crisis.

Peripheral eurozone economies. The EU leaders can try to ignore the economic problems seen in those debt-ridden peripheral eurozone economies. Theoretically, it is possible. However, this would be an extremely costly solution for other eurozone members like Germany and France.

related http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article31530.html

Ok.Mr Roubini what you say is known from quite sometime.Do you have a workable solution or do you now write just to sell your newsletter.We (at least on this forum) know it is default or inflation.Take your pick.Nothing new added to the discussion.

Dear Mr. Roubini,

I was unaware that Mexico had ever been part of the European Union,

lira, drachma, peso etc

Should we listen to a guy who doesn't even know that the "peso" has never been a European currency.

Spain used the peso until the mid-19th century.

Prepare for riots in euro collapse, Foreign Office warns

British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency, amid new fears for Italy and Spain.

As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.

Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.

The FCO have always prepared contingency plans for every possible (realistic) outcome.
Back in the 1990s there was an uprising in the Philippines and the British Embassy was in the thick of the fighting and at one stage part of the property was overrun by the rebels.

Consular staff retreated to the safe area and were receiving calls from UK citizens demanding that the Embassy assisted them as they could hear gunfire in the distance. The consular staff could hear it less than 5 metres away! The contingency plan saved the lives of staff members that day.

After the dust had settled, the local supplier of the bullet-proof glass was taking potential customers to the Embassy to show how good his glass was, the place got very badly shot up, but the glass wasn't penetrated.

Nasa launched Curiosity this morning:

The car-size Curiosity rover blasted off atop its Atlas 5 rocket at 10:02 a.m. ET Saturday, streaking into a cloudy sky above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here. The huge robot's next stop is Mars, though the 354-million-mile (570-million-kilometer) journey will take eight and a half months


The Pu-238 powered RTG in the rover (10 pounds) produces 110 watts of electricity (constantly) and 2000 watts of heat. Half life of 88 years... I want one! It requires very little shielding (alpha particles). Could u imagine a well insulated house with one of these bad boys in the basement...? No power or heat bills. Nothing could go wrong :)

Well, few houses get by with 110 watts of electricity. That is the problem with thermoelectric generators, the efficiency is pretty poor -in this case about 5%!
What could go wrong? How many of these would you need to purchase to make an N-bomb? [probably can't, because you want Pu-239, not 238], but it would make good dirty bomb material. I wonder what the international black market for pay for these babies.

24hrs a day/7 days a week ... 964 kWh's a year ... but the 2000watts of heat would probably cover your water/house heating needs (super insulation). You'd have to cut back a lot, but could still have a tv, computer, lights, etc. Might glow in the dark if you aren't careful.

It seems perfectly possible to build a bomb with Pu-238 but you would have a heat problem. As the heat problem would only be of the order of a few kilowatts per bomb (maybe as little as about 1kw for the most efficient designs?) that should be possible to deal with if Pu-238 rich plutonium was all you had. Certainly you couldn't just detonate an unmodified fat-man type bomb though as bits would melt first but I'm sure Ted Taylor and other bomb designers came up with viable designs. Btw, Ted Taylor claimed that multiple designs and tests were carried out with non-weapons grade plutonium - not just the single declassified test in the public domain.

For nuclear explosions, "All Plutonium is Good Plutonium"

Proliferation Vulnerability
Red Team Report
SAND 97-8203

4.1.2 Utility of Reactor Grade Plutonium in Nuclear Explosive Devices

The single summary statement about the utility of plutonium from the disposition program and its potential for use in nuclear explosive devices is: "All plutonium is good plutonium; some is better than other."

Under the non-proliferation treaties, plutonium that consists of more than 80% plutonium-238 is not considered a proliferation risk and holders are not required to safeguard it.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about plutonium-238 on the web. I've found numerous claims that Pu-238 is non-fissile so it is impossible to make into a bomb. Trouble is it actually is fast-neutron fissionable and capable of sustaining a chain reaction. The critical mass is fairly similar to Pu-239.

However someone seems to have arbitrarily decided that the heat output of greater than 80% Pu-238 would be too great for bomb builders. I say that's nonsense.

Los Alamos puts it like this


The critical mass of alpha-phase 238Pu metal at a density of 19.25 g/cm3 was found to be about 12 kg. It
should be noted that the heat load produced by 12 kg would be about 6.7 kw. This extremely large heat
load would preclude the assembly of a critical mass of 238Pu except under specialized conditions.

"Specialized conditions"? Like in a "specialized" bomb maybe?

Also note you need far less than the bare sphere critical mass for a bomb. Maybe 2 or 3 kg in a typical bomb. And I'm not quite sure why even the full 6.7 kw qualifies as "extremely large heat load" as my bathroom shower puts out more than that.

I see from another comment of yours in the thread that even the Russians have now stopped production of Pu-238.

I want one! It requires very little shielding (alpha particles). Could u imagine a well insulated house with one of these bad boys in the basement...? No power or heat bills.

No ongoing bills, but the price tag for Pu-238 runs about a million dollars per 50W of electric output. NASA has coupled Stirling engines to the Pu-238 heat source and gotten much better efficiencies (about 23% versus 8%); for a spacecraft there's a problem with building Stirling engines with sufficient life span, but that's not an issue in your basement. The price is only going to go up: both the US and Russia have shut down their production capacity, and the stockpiles are being depleted quickly.

I figured the isotopes would be pretty pricy. Polonium 210 in many ways is better, it is one decay away from the end of the decay chain, and that is by alpha, which doesn't penetrate very far. But enough Polonium to kill off a pesky ex-journalist (Litveneko) cost something like half a million IIRC.

there's a problem with building Stirling engines with sufficient life span, but that's not an issue in your basement.

In 2003 there was a push for sub $5000 stirlings in basements as CHP units.

I still can't go to the hardware store and buy one.

I knew there was a catch... shucks! My quest for "free" heat and electricity continues. I wonder how deep I have to dig to hit magma :)

My quest for "free" heat and electricity continues.

Try sleeping in a cardboard box. I did. To help raise funds for a local shelter. I'm the good looking guy in the picture.

Homeless demonstration puts five asleep in cardboard

Hey Tom,

Good for you for helping to raise awareness on this important matter.

$500.00 for one month's worth of heating oil and we haven't even hit the coldest time of the year? Wow, that hurts. At least I know one parish that's about to kick oil heat to the curb. ;-)


Hey Paul, not quite to the curb yet. St. George's Church has to raise a few extra dollars to get its heat pump. Sigh... However, if the fundraising works out, fingers crossed, we'll have the heating unit installed early this winter. 'Tis a work in progress.

Meanwhile, on the matter of Harvest House, the town of Windsor is seriously looking at shelter options. On any given night, a small community like this has several people either outside or bunking down on somebody's couch. The building that is currently used as the shelter was once a former nightclub - lots of excess room but unfortunately little insulation. This is only a temporary arrangement. The RCMP, local stakeholders, and Harvest House Ministries is pooling their resources to provide a permanent and customized shelter facility. It all takes effort and in the meantime, the bills have to be paid.

All for a good cause. Great fun,


I always thought you would look like Gandalf. ;-)

Waterless Fracking

I am not sure if this was discussed on this forum, but this company uses LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) to frack wells:

"The disposal situation is basically eliminated," said Zeke Zeringue, the new chief executive officer of GasFrac. "Usually, it's a lot of water in and a lot of water out."

The gelled propane turns into a gas and exits the well with the natural gas or oil stream produced, eliminating the use of millions of gallons of water pumped into a well, Zeringue said.


Anyone familiar with this technology?, seems like a good alternative to potable water fracking and the all the environmental issues associated with it, they claim the cost is 20% more when the gas is recaptured.


Without recapturing the gas, what is the greenhouse gas CO2 equivalent. A problem with fraking is that some of the methane escapes. Several reports put the carbon intensity as no better than coal.

Nawar – It did come up briefly a while back. I had heard rumors that Halliburton might try to acquire the company. As far as safety goes, all frac jobs are dangerous given the hundreds of thousands of horsepower concentrated on less than one acre.

“Still, according to his report, three firefighters were on hand, including one trained as an emergency medical technician. The firefighters had water, foam and chemicals at the ready to battle any potential blazes, a departure from a frack job using water.”

A “departure”, eh? I bet Cudd Energy wished they had those extra safety hands on location a few months ago. While doing a water frac for Chesapeake in E Texas a fire started while refueling a frac truck. Burned up all the frac trucks on the location…$32 million worth of frac trucks. And that doesn’t include maybe a $100 million in lost revenue…takes up to 18 months to replace a frac truck today.

I searched for Jadela Oil Corp, who did the Eagle Ford gas frac, in my production data base and couldn't find any production history. I’ll keep digging.

EOS - Depends on what they are doing with the NG when it's produced. If they are flaring then the amount of NG from the frac job is totally insignificant compared to the amount produced over the life of the well. The Bakken in ND is a good example. If they are capturing and selling all then NG then it's still not a problem.

Thank you for the feedback, always great to hear directly from someone operating in the field.


I think the fugitive methane comes early on in the process, before the well is hooked up to the pipeline. Obviously with more care, hte amounts could be greatly reduced. But, that costs more, and unless some regulator forces the issues the drillers are going to cut expenses -especially if the SG wells have marginal economics to begin with.

Why is fracking with plain water and sand not done? I would have thought the main thing was water pressure to force the shale cracks open and the sand to hold them open. What sort of percentage improvement do the toxic chemicals bring?

I ask because Shell want to frack here in South Africa in the Karoo. The shale area is huge, so the potential is massive, but it's an arid region and every farmer relies on ground water and is afraid of it being polluted.

If plain water could be used, it seems many of the objections would go away.

The vast majority of the materials used in hydraulic fracturing are water and sand. Water is forced into the rock at very high pressures to crack it open, and sand is added to the water to remain in the cracks and hold them open after the water is removed.

The other 1% might include things like biocides to kill any bacteria that might gum up the well, solvents to dissolve waxes, lubricants to keep everything lubricated, etc, etc. In reality, there are an awful lot of things oil companies want to inject down a well to keep it flowing, and it is convenient to inject them during a frac job.

The big problem with the recovered water is that it is contaminated with formation fluids - e.g. oil, brine, natural gas. They are the things that an oil well will produce anyway and which must be properly disposed of regardless.

What oil companies really should do is inject the produced waste fluids down a water disposal well into the original formation or an unused salt water formation. Usually where you have oil reservoirs, you also have lots of formations you can inject waste into with no chance it will ever leak out.

The LPG fracking solution (mentioned above) does not include water or water disposal issues at all, seems like a better alternative from that prospective. the company website has a presentation on the method and its advantages:



aardi - THE key in getting a productive frac is to get the sand all the way back into the frac. And that's why the chemistry is so complex...and nasty. If you pump just plain water the sand begins to fall out as soon as it enters the fracture. And this “screening out” blocks the rest of the proppant from getting pushed into the fracture. So the frac fluid is made viscous so it holds the sand in suspension. Of course, we want the sand to eventually fall out into the frac and not flow back with the frac fluid. So more nasty chemicals are pumped in to break the vis.

Frac fluids are the most complex fluids used in the oil patch and took decades of trials and errors to develop. Unfortunately Mother Earth has her rules that control the actions of particles. If the oil patch could figure out how to not to spend 100’s of millions of $’s for those chemicals they would.

But your folks should go on line and read the Texas Rail Road Commission web site. Do as we do: require disposal of frac fluids (and all other oil patch nasty fluids) into disposal wells. Inject the nasties into salt water reservoirs from which they’ll never escape. Disposal wells aren’t cheap. I know: I spend 100’s of thousands of $'s every quarter doing it. Heck, in La. I have to send rain water that collects on my drill sites to disposal wells. But that’s just the cost of doing business. And that added cost isn’t stopping operators in Texas from drilling as fast as possible.

Thanks everyone for the replies.

Oil Rigs Bring Camps of Men to the Prairie

They are called man camps — temporary housing compounds supporting the overwhelmingly male work force flooding the region in search of refuge from a stormy economy. These two, Capital Lodge and Tioga Lodge, built on opposite sides of a highway, will have up to 3,700 residents, according to current plans.

Confronted with the unusual problem of too many unfilled jobs and not enough empty beds to accommodate the new arrivals, North Dakota embraced the camps — typically made of low-slung, modular dormitory-style buildings — as the imperfect solution to keeping workers rested and oil flowing.

But now, even as the housing shortage worsens, towns like this one are denying new applications for the camps. In many places they have come to embody the danger of growing too big too fast, cluttering formerly idyllic vistas, straining utilities, overburdening emergency services and aggravating relatively novel problems like traffic jams, long lines and higher crime.

Yep. Talk to the residents of small towns in southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado about the problems. The "higher crime" phrase in the excerpt understates things. It might be okay if the prostitution, hard drugs, organized gangs and resulting violence were confined to the man camps; but it spills over into the existing communities.

Alternative title:

Oily Spots in North Dakota Attract Swarms of Industrial Parasites.

Iran threatens to target NATO missile shield in Turkey if attacked by US or Israel

Iran will target NATO’s missile defense installations in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday.

Tehran says NATO’s early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO’s missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.

related 'Iran would hit Israel's nuclear facilities if attacked'

... The report comes two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said relations were being expanded with some Arab countries, adding fuel to speculation that the countries in question were cooperating with Israel to combat Iran

At least we now know what NOT to stand next to when TSHTF.

Easy to imagine how a "limited surgical strike" could get out of hand and lead to general war. Why not assassinate the archDuke, when he vists Serbia, what could possibly go wrong?

So what's the rational for a group in power taking a path that would put them out of power?

What's the rational for Iran to attack another nation-state with an act of war?

What's the rational for Iran to attack another nation-state with an act of war?

Because evryone outside Iran thinks they want to do it anyway, they will provoke them until they crack. You've heard of self-fufilling prosphesies. Being convinced someone is your arch enemy who will do anything to get you, and thus must be dealt with as if he was pure vermin, is a good way to ensure he lives up to your expectations.

Why is economic growth so popular?

... if depletion is the real problem, it should be obvious that growth can only make it worse. After all, if we grow we consume more resources and that will accelerate depletion. So, why are our leaders so fixated on growth? Can't they understand that it is a colossal mistake? Are they stupid or what?

aardi - There are 1.6 million US citizens entering the job market every year. Haven't seen a net number though (less deaths and retirements). But I'm sure the new workes as well as the 14 million or so currently unemployed may have an answer for you. So I suppose the real question is whether they are fixated on population growth or growth in jobs. I might offer that the "Logan's Run" solution, had it been implimented 40 years ago, might have prevented this situation we're in. OTOH I would be here to offer that suggestio. LOL


"1.6 million US citizens" - the current version of "US citizen" is not sustainable.

Mother Nature says this is non-negotiable.

I feel very sorry for the industrially handicapped - i.e. those require a functioning industrial world to live.

But I feel much more sympathy for those who got in the way of the industrial monkey.

aardy - Exactly...we are in a trap of our own design. Even in a world of constantly available energy/commodities population growth would lower per capita share. But we're far from that world: diminishing resources butts heads with no only increasing populations but also increasing demand per capita. I was reminded of that just last week with a classic racist line from one of my favorite nostalgic movies: “Full Metal Jacket”. The line: “Inside every gook is an American trying to get out”. But not so much an American but someone wanting a better life for themselves and family. IOW a world of poor striving to become middle class. Even without depleting resources this would have developed challenging times.

Jobs are no problem. Policies are. If we didn't have a housing system bent on enriching banksters and landlords, and if we had a halfway decent system of socialized medicine, most people could get by on the pay of much less than full time jobs, freeing up more jobs for the currently unemployed.

Lack of jobs is a created problem.

Lack of jobs is a created problem.

Couldn't agree more. I can recall reaching working age. I had other things I wanted to pursue besides a career, but the only choices on offer were full time career, or starve. The system just wasn't designed to give people half a job (unless its flipping burgers).

In a finite world, the growth of any one business / nation / empire etc. can only come at the expense of another. People instinctively understood this for millenia until the early to mid 20th century.

Then we encountered the seemingly infinite manna of cheap fossil fuels, which tricked us into believing that growth can be a universal phenomenon - that the whole world can become richer, more prosperous, and more powerful, and that there were no limits to this.

To this day, there are still people who believe that Americans would be better off if 1 billion Chinese and Indian peasants become middle class!

Peak oil and our ongoing debt deflation is putting a rapid end to this fantasy. Now genuine competition is back into human affairs - as in, survive or die, as opposed to survive or get on the government dole (whether you are an individual or corporation). Welfare queens of all stripes are going extinct. Which will be good in some ways, bad in others. It will be good because the human population will finally begin to level off, and may decline. It will be bad because if we aren't careful, it means war.

"Welfare queens of all stripes are going extinct."

Does Wendy Gramm qualify as a welfare queen?

"It will be bad because if we aren't careful, it means war."

Oilmansachs, I think it will be bad when after the wars the world's minefield of nuclear reactors start self-detonating.

Corporate 'welfare queens' are mostly doing quite nicely, thank you.

Economic growth is the basis for sound lending. How much growth there is determines business plans for future investment. Right now it's a waiting game for growth to occur to signal investment and looser lending requirements. Without growth a whole new way of doing business must be devised. But what that might be is a very big question.

For now the denial game of ignoring peak oil and the limits to growth it causes will continue until the dense masses have it hammered into their brains via enough suffering in the form of debt defaults and business shutterings. At a certain threshold of pain they'll get it.


Department of Defense agencies that have provided funding, confirmed results, or positively-reviewed cold fusion research include:

Naval Research Laboratory
Defense Threat Reduction Agency DTRA
Defense Intelligence Agency DIA
Defense Advanced Research Agency DARPA
Army Research Lab ARL

Follow the link for the summary of their publicly-acknowledged findings.

Thanks for the info...I saved the link and plan to read the linked papers.

I would caution that the fact that U.S. FFRDCs and other agencies (DARPA, DTRA, etc) spend money researching the state of play for a certain technology area, this does not necessarily indicate that the technology area is viable or valid.

This book I bought years ago has been on continuous loan to folks I work with in the government:


It tells the story of how a modern-day PT Barnum convinced DARPA (and some other agencies IIRC) to pee money down a rat hole to investigate Induced Gamma Emission (IGE) using the Hafnium 142m isomer.

But, to be fair, DARPA and other organizations are funded to fund certain high-risk research thrusts...in the case of IGE, the criticism is that they kept the hook in their mouth longer than they should have, given the (lack of) positive evidence.

For a while even Popular Science and other mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon...until it became obvious that there was no there there.

Then there are small-scale (compared to LLNL's NIF and the Internationale ITER etc) 'hot fusion' research thrusts, such as Polywell.


I am all for funding a wide variety of research, as long funding does not turn into an unjustified cash cow scam.

Speaking of fruitless research - An report from U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center ...

(U) Zero-Point Energy: Can We Get Something From Nothing

mumbles ... Now if only I can find that classified 'StarGate' report - it's here somewhere

Is it fruitless because the math that backs the idea of zero point is wrong, the interpretation of the math is wrong, or the ability to capture such a volume of energy is not worthwhile or possible.

Most of us who "get it" in terms of energy and ecology and so forth seem to have a blind spot when it comes to recognizing that we naked apes are just another kind of animal, and that nation states are no more and no less than the evolutionary children of the small tribal bands which were our largest social groups no more than perhaps ten thousand or so years ago.

Eventually we became successful enough that we began to compete with each other to as great or greater an extent than we compete with other species.

The art of war was born.

India and China may resort to violence to settle the ownership of offshore oil resources within the next decade.

I have seen references recently to Canada beefing up her navy,and to such a peaceful little country as Finland exploring the purchase of state of the art military aircraft in quantity.

We will be lucky to have another couple of decades of RELATIVE peace such as we are enjoying now.

It is ironic that the bloated American military machine may be the only reason the rest of the world is not going at it tooth and claw already, or AGAIN- but little kids don't fight nearly so much when they have an overbearing bossy big brother that is apt to slap them silly if they get out of line.

( I am not arguing that we don't use our military to push other less powerful countries around .We do of course.This does not invaladite my point.)

I don't think we have had the ability to slap anyone silly for quite some time.

Not if 'slap them silly' is a euphemism for 'victory', which is a most elusive goal...

...first we have to define what 'victory' is...

But my real point is: Conquest is (relatively) easy for us, control is )obviously) not.

Even if we could have mustered the ability to 'slap Vietnam silly', we would have been bogged down in a decade(s)-long endless occupation there...Iraq...Afghanistan...if we were to invade Pakistan and/or Iran...or Nigeria, or wherever...we would conduct our 'shock and awe', then become bogged down in guerrilla warfare insurgency.

The ideal of a Nazi/Imperial Japan-type total and unconditional surrender was likely last seen in WWII.

Not to worry...in a couple of decades, when oil is significantly depleted, although adjacent or nearby countries will still be able to wage war, the ability of the U.S. or any nation to project its military power halfway around the World will be severely constrained.

From my vantage point, we (not just the U.S., but over significant military powers) have built a great edifice of military capabilities, but our ability to sustain that level of hardware, software, personnel, and all the various logistics interconnection is significantly eroding beneath our feet. ...And China will not be an exception to this...they just are showing up late in a Party which is going to peter out relatively soon (2-3 deacdes).

20-30 years .... no wonder too few care

when oil is significantly depleted, although adjacent or nearby countries will still be able to wage war, the ability of the U.S. or any nation to project its military power halfway around the World will be severely constrained.

Cheer for the day when fighting wars is no longer a simple option. It's interesting the conundrum the US will find itself as the paranoid desire to control other parts of the world will have to fade into memory for lack of resources, such as oil and money. Contrasting that budgetary reality is Mitt Romney who wants to increase the Defense budget to 1T and says we will once again exert our force around the world.

You mentioned a timeframe of a couple of decades, however things could unravel much faster imho (years not decades). The next step down is going to be the breakup of the EU, a sure sign of higher priced oil causing a move in the direction away from globalization. Next week should prove interesting as several EU members attempt to sell more bonds.

Contrasting that budgetary reality is Mitt Romney who wants to increase the Defense budget to 1T and says we will once again exert our force around the world.

Someone should send him a copy of this poster as a reality check... http://deathandtaxesposter.com/

Current receipts: 2.609 Trillion
Total expenditures: 3.699 Trillion
Current DOD spending: 0.881 Trillion
Total Deficit: 1.101 Trillion

Print, Baby, Print!

Oh and BTW... Because the supercommittee failed, $1.2 trillion in additional automatic cuts will hit defense and domestic spending equally beginning in January 2013.

Yeah, Mitt Romney continues to live in La La Land!

I think that Peak Oil/Peak Exports acted both as a trigger and as an accelerant for the financial crisis, and as more and more countries are priced out of the conventional debt markets, i.e., unable to borrow money at affordable rates in order to finance their deficit spending, they are faced with some combination of the following three choices: cutting spending to match their revenue; trying to raise taxes; relying on central bank funding, via newly created money.

Meanwhile, the operating premise worldwide seems to be that constrained oil supplies, and resulting high oil prices, are a temporary phenomenon, and it's only a matter of time before abundant and cheap oil supplies return. So various governments are going deeper into debt, trying to maintain some semblance of BAU, while some simple math shows that the volume of exported oil available to importers other than China & India fell at the rate of about one mbpd per year from 2005 to 2010.

I think Mr. Jeff Rubin said as much in a column of his a year or two ago. His observation was that when oil doubled from $35/bbl to $70/bbl, it caused the inflation rate to increase significantly. This forced the Fed to increase interest rates which naturally hurt the housing market. With the housing market weakened, oil's spike to $147/bbl put the final nail in the housing coffin, and the rest is history.

It will be interesting (and sad) to see how long people remain in denial about Peak Oil despite its growing signs.

Cheer for the day when fighting wars is no longer a simple option. It's interesting the conundrum the US will find itself as the paranoid desire to control other parts of the world will have to fade into memory for lack of resources, such as oil and money.

The fighter jets of the US military are $44,000 an hour to run.

Drones are cheaper. And can keep the 99% in line.

i think "slap them silly" is "shock and awe". we don't need to be able to control a country to turn it upside down. the power structures in control in a country might make it through to the other side of a shock and awe campaign, but the likelihood that they won't could still be a deterrent.

I suggest grokking the ideas of asymmetric warfare and blow-back (read: terrorism, to include WMD attacks).

asymmetric warfare and blow-back

You talk as if blowback is an unavoidable bug. For the MIC blowback is an important feature. Because of blowback -or even just the prospect of it, we have to spend even more on the military post shock-and-awe than before = win-win.

being that that follows a shock and awe campaign, how is it relevant to the incentive of a nation to avoid said shock and awe campaign?

I am trying to understand your question.

Are you implying that it is the interests of the nation on the receiving end of a U.S. shock-n-awe campaign to receive it, so as to justify their subsequent terrorism attacks on the U.S.?

Or are you saying something else?

I will state my theory plainly: The more the U.S. engages in air strikes against foreign countries, the greater the likelihood we sow the seeds of future terrorism on our soil and against our citizens and embassies abroad.There are many people in the U.S. who cannot let go of the idea that the U.S. has the right and duty to do whatever it pleases, wherever it pleases, at any time it see fit.

This is often sold as 'the best defense is a good offense' and that is lapped up eagerly by many folks. Then when blow-back occurs, many folks cry for redoubling our 'forward defense' 'fight'em over there not over here' mindset.

Great podcast by Robert Rapier on replacing fossil oil with biomass.
Robert Rapier: The Scientific Challenges To Replacing Oil with Renewables

Chris Martenson: So welcome to another ChrisMartinson.com podcast. I am, of course, your host, Chris Martenson and today we are speaking with Robert Rapier the chief technology officer and executive vice president for Merica International, a Hawaii based renewable energy company. Merica’s core focus is on the localized use of biomass to energy for the benefit of local populations.

I had no idea that Robert was in this business. I always thought he was a refinery engineer. Well I guess he still is but I had no idea he had branched out into this business.

Robert is far more of a pessimist on biofuels than I expected, especially for a vice president of a renewable energy company.

Robert Rapier: Yeah, the devil is always in the details. We see this biofuel processes and we project our hopes and dreams and we don’t know enough of the details. And once the details start to come out – well, by then somebody else has come out with something else. I mean do we remember the hydrogen economy and how exciting that was and I mean it is gone and we didn’t even have a funeral for it. These companies, they come, they are flash in the pan, they come out and they are making all of these claims and most people don’t have a technical background to see what is wrong or to ask the right questions.

Every pie in the sky "biofuel-will-save-the-world" advocate should listen to this podcast. It is fantastic.

Ron P.

The devil isn't in the details, but in the promotion of false hope when theoritical enveloppes can be written, it's the woman who is in the details, as usual.

Robert left the oil business several years ago. He's now in the biomass business.

Well from that podcast he seems to know the business from top to bottom. However I have never heard of someone in the biomass business being so pessimistic about the impact biomass will have on the global energy problem. One would think he would be hyping it as the greatest thing since crude oil was first discovered. But that is not the case.

I really should not say he is that pessimistic, but realistic. He sees biomass as a problem to be solved, that has not yet solved. To his credit he never tells us that biofuel will never save the world. He is quick to point out all the "great breakthroughs" of the past turned out to be all hat and no cattle, or no solution at all. Jatropha was at one time supposed to produce the biofuel that would save the world.

Jatropha is a perfect example. Jatropha came on the scene, Jatropha is a plant that grows in oil feed and it has been used in Africa as a living hedge because animals won’t eat it, the leaves are toxic. It sprung onto the scene a few years ago and it was going to be able to be grown in marginal soil all over the world and all these great yields. And it was going to be the crop that solved all the problems. Well, the truth was it doesn’t thrive, it was advertised as it thrives on drought soils. Well it doesn’t thrive at all in drought soils. It will tolerate drought. I mean not drought soils, drought conditions. It will tolerate drought but loses all its leaves. And then the yields that have been projected run the high side of the yields with fertilized and heavily watered crops they took that and they extrapolated it all over the marginal soils of the world. And then suddenly you start to look at the details and you see this as the real story comes out you see why this isn’t the answer that it was put out there to be.

India has invested five billion dollars into Jatropha. There was a story last year that said they are going to lose that investment because it just didn’t produce like they thought it was going to produce and that is all too often the case once you get into the details you find out there are things here that we just didn’t anticipate.

Anyway, a really great podcast and anyone with even the slightest interest in biofuels should listen to this podcast.

Ron P.

He wrote about it here at TOD when he was making the jump. He does think most biofuels won't work, but he thinks his company has something that will. That is, the EROEI will work - not that it will provide enough fuel to continue BAU worldwide.

I think that the difference between Robert and the biofuel promoters is that Robert has taken a hard, scientific look at the underlying facts behind the processes, and he knows what is likely to go wrong. The promoters are optimistic because they are ignorant of the facts.

One thing I appreciated was the quote, "Do we remember the hydrogen economy and how exciting that was and I mean it is gone and we didn’t even have a funeral for it."

Well, I do remember the hydrogen economy, and promoters saying, "Hydrogen is the most common material in the universe!" That's in the rest of the universe. Here on earth, almost of the hydrogen remaining is tied up in chemical compounds, mostly water, and water is at the bottom of the energy well. There's no way to get hydrogen out of water without putting energy in. It's basic conservation of energy, the law that trips up many of these proposals.

Also, and this is something most people don't know, the oil industry both produces and consumes hydrogen. They will sell it to you if the price is right (i.e. very high) but they would much rather buy it from you because they are chronically short of hydrogen feedstock for their refineries and chemical plants.

Note the article above: Fuel shortage nearly cripples western Canadian trucking industry, but relief is in sight

Western Canada produces a huge surplus of oil which is mostly exported to the US, but the problem behind the shortage of diesel fuel is a shortage of hydrogen. One of the hydrogen suppliers couldn't deliver hydrogen, so the refineries could't produce enough diesel fuel to meet demand.

If anybody cares to poke through all my past commentary, they will find that I said in effect the same thing repeatedly a year or two ago about jatropha and a couple of other so called biomass miracle plants.

Only a person totally ignorant of the basic biology of agriculture could actually believe such foolishness.

Any agriculture major who has passed his freshman and sophomore classes with a gentleman's "c" knows better than to believe such hype;my maternal grandfather ( who was illiterate-never had the opportunity to go to school a day in his life) would have gotten a huge horse laugh out of such foolishness.

Even though he had no formal education, he had plenty of practical farming experience and an excellent mind.

Had he lived to hear of the idea of raising huge quantities of switch grass(essentially, just another kind of hay) year after year on marginal land without fertilizer, pest control, weed control, fire control, a big investment in buildings, machinery, fertilizer fuel, trucks, etc, etc, etc, his response would have been "Switch grass my Axx! You been smoking that wacky backer agin 'n if you don't lay off of it, you er gonna go plum crazy one er of these days."

This is ag, and I'm OFM, and you can take both the science and the vernacular lingo to the bank. ;-)

Incidentally, I have enormous respect for RR, HIS intellect, and his honesty..I wish he would post more often here.

The people who push such schemes are either uninformed nincompoops or intellectually and morally bankrupt scumbags from the get go interested only in taking whatever they can get out of such scams for themselves.

Lets not forget that the oil business is a biomass business.

Photons are being converted and stored.

One system has the conversions happening within the lifespan of a Man. As Man and machines have to be involved along the way - this has a *WAY* different "valuation" than when man "finds" the converted product via a process that used a far greater mass of raw material and takes timespans that exceed the time Man has been on the planet.

Professor Chris Busby to take legal action against Professor Gerry Thomas and others.

Dr Chris Busby turns on his attackers (Video)

Iran responds with 150,000 missiles if Israel attacks, Defense Minister

Nov 27 – Iranian Defense Minister Brigade General Ahmad Vahidi says that Israel will be attacked by 150,000 missiles if the country launches any military action against the Islamic Republic, State TV website reported Sunday.

Jame-Jam-online says the minister was speaking at the gathering of 50,000 voluntary forces in the Southern Iranian port of Bushehr at Persian Gulf.

Iranian students form human chain around Bushehr nuclear plant

TEHRAN - Over 500 Iranian students from universities in Bushehr and Khuzestan provinces formed a human chain around the Bushehr nuclear power plant to condemn International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano’s recent move.

Amano released a report on November 8 in which he said that Iran appears to have worked on designing an atomic bomb.

Unfortunately, there's no mercy in Iran for protesters.

IRan has already sent 150 000 rockets into Israel. Hamas launches them quite regulary into southern Israel. The city of Sderot is rather well penetrated: all bus stops are built in concrete to sustain a direct hit, and some 70+% of all children have post traumatics after near rocket hits. I wonder; if you threaten to do something you already do, what is new?

Hamas launches them quite regulary into southern Israel.


Thanks to the Mossad, Israel's "Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks", the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat's Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)".

A sad story about Richard Rainwater, who may be the most influential person in the US that many people have never heard of. You may remember an article in Fortune called "The Rainwater Prophecy." Note that Mr. Rainwater's wife had some interesting comments about the Fortune article, despite the fact that Rainwater, as usual, was extremely prescient.

The Rainwater Prophecy (December, 2005)

"This is a nonrecurring event," he says. "The 100-year flood in Houston real estate was one, the ability to buy oil and gas really cheap was another, and now there's the opportunity to do something based on a shortage of natural resources. Can you make money? Well, yeah. One way is to just stay long domestic oil. But there may be something more important than making money. This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind. I don't want the world to wake up one day and say, 'How come some doofus billionaire in Texas made all this money by being aware of this, and why didn't someone tell us?'"

. . . Rainwater sides with the imminent peak crowd, and can rattle off facts to back up his argument. "In 1988 there were 15 million barrels a day of shut-in production"--meaning surplus that could be tapped--"and the world was using about 55 million barrels of oil. Today the world is using over 80 million, and there's no shut-in production left. We've used it up, through the combination of depletion and growth." In other words, the spigot can't be opened any wider*.

*Total Petroleum Liquids "Gap" chart:

The fight of Richard Rainwater's life (November, 2011)
(Progressive supranuclear palsy)

The nightmare of PSP

Even after retreating from dealmaking, Rainwater wasn't through making Texas-size wagers. In December 2005 a Fortune story, "The Rainwater Prophecy," reported that the billionaire, anticipating a catastrophic oil shortage, had gone long on energy stocks and oil futures, to the tune of several hundred million dollars.

To those who knew Rainwater, this play was somehow ... different. In Fortune, Rainwater vented his concern about "the survivability of mankind." He worried openly about sounding like a nut, but he had Moore install an emergency generator and 500-gallon tanks for diesel fuel and water on her South Carolina farm, just in case. As it happens, like most of Rainwater's bets, this one paid off. Energy prices climbed, and Rainwater, deciding that a crisis wasn't imminent, unloaded his holdings for a handsome profit. But looking back, Moore wonders whether this fixation wasn't an early sign of her husband's disease, given that obsessiveness, loss of inhibition, and mood swings are among the psychological effects of PSP. (Rainwater wouldn't be diagnosed until three years later.)

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a riddle wrapped inside a nightmare. The disease is rare, striking about six people in 100,000, usually in their fifties or sixties. Frequently misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease, it wasn't even identified in medical literature until 1963. Its cause remains unknown, and its effects are devastating.

Wow, that's sad. I guess that old saw about health being worth more than any amount of wealth is correct.

Not good news for the peak oil movement, either. He ended up changing his mind about peak oil, and now people think his concern about it was an early sign of his dementia.

The 'peak oil position' is counter to multi-trillions of 'value'.

The unfolding derivative bruhaha shows the willingness of State power to support that multi-trillions of 'value'. Peak Oil will be denied up until the end, just like how Ron Paul saying "spending is out of control" will be denied up until the end because the alternative is seen as "bad".

6th earthquake in 4 days recorded in Oklahoma

The U.S. Geological Survey says a 3.2 magnitude quake struck just before 6 a.m. Sunday about 27 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The Logan County Sheriff's Office says no damage was reported

Sunday's earthquake is the sixth in the area since Thursday, when a 3.7 magnitude quake was recorded near Prague. Three more were recorded Friday.

Tar Sands Oil Producers Eye California


Irish 'ghost estates' belie upbeat statistics (w/Video)

Real-life examples such as abandoned property developments contradict figures suggesting a stable economy.

It has been a year since Ireland called for international support to bail out its banks.

Since then, statistics appear to show the economy has stabilised, but the economic situation for people on the ground is very different.

There are more than 2,000 abandoned developments, known as ghost estates, as the country's housing boom was found to be built on sand.

Japan's youth turn to rural areas seeking a slower life

"There are more people that want to be farmers now, and the numbers are increasing," says Naoko Maruyama, a local government official who uses a website to attract potential recruits.

"More people from the city want a rural life. Here in Nagano prefecture we want to help them. But at the same time it takes a lot to become a farmer.

Lessons are available in the practicalities of agriculture, and help finding available land. Mentoring has also been successful.

Shell and Iraq in new energy deal

Iraq has agreed a final $17bn (£11bn) deal over 25 years with Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi to capture flared gas at southern oilfields.

Gas will be gathered from three major oil fields in Basra province that is currently wasted due to a lack of infrastructure. More than 700 million cubic feet per day of gas is burned off at present.

Eviction notices haunt the dead in Spain

At a cemetery in Zaragoza, Spain, the threat of eviction has followed the dead to their final resting place.

After two years of recession and unemployment above 20 per cent, the families of the deceased are being confronted with eviction notices on the tombstones of their loved ones.

The families are told to pay for the burial leases, renewed every five years, or have the remains of the deceased moved to common ground. A fate that has befallen over 400 people in recent months.

Ohio shale drilling spurs job hopes in Rust Belt

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A rare sight in hard-luck Youngstown, a new industrial plant, has generated hope that a surge in oil and natural gas drilling across a multistate region might jump-start a revival in Rust Belt manufacturing.

The $650 million V&M Star mill, located along a desolate stretch that once was a showcase for American industry, is to open by year's end and produce seamless steel pipes for tapping shale formations.

It will mean 350 new jobs in Youngstown, a northeast Ohio city that is struggling with 11 percent unemployment.

... One of the biggest manufacturing projects on the shale developing horizon is the plan for a multibillion-dollar Shell Oil Co. petrochemical refinery. Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are competing for the plant, which would convert natural gas liquids to other chemicals that go into everything from plastics to tires to antifreeze.

... and when the wells run dry it's back to the Rust Belt

And then in a hundred years when the well casings fail, they are cement and metal, future generations will have more toxic gifts from human progress.

My latest copy of Aviation Week and Space Technology had a piece about new commercial jet airliner delivery estimates (2012-2020) which raised my eyebrows...I left the mag at the gym but I went to the Airbus site to get their estimates (2012 through 2030) for the World demand for airliners (jet, not counting turboprops).


Single Aisle: 19,165
Small Twin-Aisle: 4,518
Intermediate Twin-Aisle: 1,907
Very Large Aircraft: 1,331

Total estimated demand: 26,921

We shall see...

U.S. Republicans will try to spare defense programs by reconfiguring the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that are to be triggered starting in 2013 by the collapse of a congressional deficit-cutting committee, a leading Republican senator said Sunday.

"I think there's a broad consensus that too much of the cuts are weighted on our defense's capabilities and would really, really cut in deeply into our ability to defend this nation," said Senator Pat Toomey, a member of the "super committee" that failed last week to reach a deal to reduce the huge U.S. debt.

"And so, I think it's important that we change the configuration," Toomey said on ABC's "This Week."


I wonder what ratio would be acceptable? ...100% cuts on non-MIC budgets, and 0% cuts for the MIC?

Kind of like the position of 0% revenue (tax) increases and 100% cuts?

How about shared sacrifice?

"I wonder what ratio would be acceptable? ...100% cuts on non-MIC budgets, and 0% cuts for the MIC?"

No, 50% increase in MIC and 100% cut in non-MIC. Haven't you heard, the MIC is grossly underfunded. The Republicans aren't satisfied with the USA spending almost 50% of the world's military spending, they want it to be at least 75%. A 1% decrease would make us 100% less safe!

I'm quickly arriving at the conclusion that humans aren't any smarter than yeast. Maybe not as smart.

Obama has already said he would veto any attempt to make any changes to the automatic spending cuts. We will see if he keeps his word.

Ron P.

I hope he keeps his word on this.

Of course, if he does resist his instinct to cave in, the Rs will blame him for not being serious about reducing the deficit, and indeed will blame his veto for every manner of ill that befalls the U.S.

Naturally he will be awarded the never-gets-old accusation of being 'soft on defense', along with the rest of the D party.

That, along with the 'D's are the party of increasing taxes and big government' (In this deceptive Universe the MIC and DOJ/DHS internal intimidation, control, and spying activities are exempt from being considered part of 'big Government', no matter how Orwellian their activities become.

Maybe that is the way it needs to be...let President Romney deal with it.

Well, OK, I don't see the hard-core base R's voting for a Mormon...and it is hard to imagine a 'President Gingrich', or 'President Perry', or 'President Cain'.

If the R's actually believed in their fake mantra of small government, they would elect Ron Paul and enough like-minded folks in Congress to let his agenda happen.

But they could not stomach either a decline in MIC funding, nor the repealing of domestic spying laws such as the 'Patriot Act'.

I don't see the hard-core base R's voting for a Mormon...and it is hard to imagine a 'President Gingrich'

The scuttlebut this morning was that they decided to decide on a single anti-Romney. And Newt was choosen for the role. The idea is that if momentum from Iowa carries the process......

We will see if he keeps his word.

I said exactly the same thing to my wife yesterday. You never know what he's going to decide until we see the political winds blow his way and he searches for the razor thin edge of spineless appeasement.

Well I think he has the courage of his convictions and I do believe he will keep his word. He has kept his word on everything except Gitmo, and there is a very good reason he has not closed that. No state in the nation is willing to take the prisoners held there.

I think he has more spine than Bush Jr. ever had.

Ron P.

Image of the Day: How TIME magazine keeps Americans ignorant

Occasionally, the commercial mass media tip their hand and give us a glimpse of the Man Behind the Curtain. In this case, TIME magazine has posted the covers of its December 5th edition for different world markets, all on the same web page for easy comparison. The rest of the world gets to read about the new Egyptian uprising against the military dictatorship, but Americans are fed a puff piece on anxiety.

related It is any wonder Americans are so ignorant?

Who needs Soma when you have a MSM spoon-feeding bowls of crap like that?

Mexico: Drought Hits Water Supply for 2.5 Million

Forget lawn watering or car washing: A drought has dried up even drinking water supplies for an estimated 2.5 million people in more than 1,500 small communities in northern Mexico.

Social Development Secretary Heriberto Felix Guerra says water has to be trucked in, treated on the spot and stored in tanks for many of those towns.

The secretary notes that the trucked-in water is for drinking and doesn't help problems with crops and cattle. He estimates farmers have lost 2.2 million acres (900,000 hectares) of crops to dry conditions this year

related Mexican farmers suffer worst drought in 70 years

It's a Washington Times columnist, but the guy asks a good question, does Obama really want a second term? I am continually reminded of Tom Brokaw's observation about the 2008 election, that the winner should have demanded an immediate recount.

CURL: Does Obama really want to win?

Laptop froze on that article, but will say if Obama doesn't want to win, he should have the guts to bow out now. LBJ did.

The eurozone really has only days to avoid collapse

Last week, the crisis reached a new qualitative stage. With the spectacular flop of the German bond auction and the alarming rise in short-term rates in Spain and Italy, the government bond market across the eurozone has ceased to function.

The banking sector, too, is broken. Important parts of the eurozone economy are cut off from credit. The eurozone is now subject to a run by global investors, and a quiet bank run among its citizens . . .

Italy’s disastrous bond auction on Friday tells us time is running out. The eurozone has 10 days at most.

I posted an article on Drumbeat Friday which reported on Germany, the top EU member, had failed to get a sale of 35% of their bunds (bonds) sold that day. When the top of the pyramid has trouble, what do you think may happen this coming week as numerous EU countries attempt to sell more of their bonds?

Situation seems to be pincering down to a game in which investors simply demand what they want, a buyer's market if you will, and EU countries grin and bear it until the demands exceed any fantasy of repayment, or even getting their CinnaBons sold, whichever comes first. Afterall, all their really offering at this point is some french pastry. Eat it, buy the worthless bond, then watch a run on the banks, then hurl the Cinnabon.

They (ECB) will start to print money and gold senses it.

Alas what matters for people is how the crisis will play out not what it actually is, by now everyone knows the problem. FT is just stating the obvious. My money is on money printing to kick in, people who are forecasting deflation will be left in the dust, people like Ilargi and others.

How can we expect people at the top whose net worth will be affected by a deflation to act any differently. It's a basic survival instinct.

Saboteurs blow up Egypt gas pipeline to Israel

CAIRO - Saboteurs blew up Egypt's gas pipeline to Jordan and Israel on Monday, witnesses and security sources said, a few hours before the country holds its first free election since president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February

The explosion was set off west of El-Arish in Sinai, witnesses said. There was a second consecutive blast, about 100 metres away, sources said.

The blast marked the ninth time this year that terrorists have bombed the pipeline. The previous attack on the pipeline occurred Friday, when assailants bombed a portion of the pipeline some 60 kilometers from El-Arish. Egyptian officials said that the damage to the pipeline in the Friday blast was small compared to other such explosions this year because that portion of the pipeline has been empty since the last explosion earlier in November

Hi everybody.

The waiting periods for gold are really long here in Portugal (I managed to get 1 tinygold bar last year), and I was thinking of converting some of my euros into another currency while using the rest to buy "helpful" long-term supplies and goods. I was thinking of maybe converting to the swiss franc.

I know fiat currencies are pretty much doomed in the long run, but anybody have some insights into whether this would be a good move? Would you recommend another currency (for example the Canadian dollar)?


EDIT: Ignore my post, it's basically a repeat of an earlier post. Sorry.

A small % could go into a nimble international bond fund, like GIM (NYSE Symbol). Good interest while they anticipate what to stay away from.

So far, they have lost little and done well.

Their current asset allocation


Best Hopes,