Drumbeat: November 30, 2011

Funds, refiners ponder oil Armageddon: war on Iran

REUTERS - Oil consuming nations, hedge funds and big oil refineries are quietly preparing for a Doomsday scenario: An attack on Iran that would halt oil supplies from OPEC's second-largest producer.

Most political analysts and oil traders say the probability of military action is low, but they caution the risks of such an event have risen as the West and Israel grow increasingly alarmed by signs that Tehran is building nuclear weapons.

That has Chinese refiners drawing up new contingency plans, hedge funds taking out options on $170 crude, and energy experts scrambling to determine how a disruption in Iran's oil supply -- however remote the possibility -- would impact world markets.

Oil Pares Second Monthly Gain After U.S. Crude, Distillate Stockpiles Rise

Oil fell from the highest in two weeks in New York after Standard & Poor’s cut credit ratings on some of the world’s biggest lenders, and amid signs of rising crude supplies in the U.S.

West Texas Intermediate futures slid as much as 0.9 percent, paring a second monthly gain. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday crude inventories climbed by 3.44 million barrels last week. S&P lowered the ratings of banks led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG. Prices rose yesterday after U.S. consumer confidence climbed the most in more than eight years and Iranian protesters vandalized the British Embassy’s compound in Tehran.

China Lifts Electricity Prices, Caps Coal Costs Amid Power Profit Squeeze

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, will increase retail and wholesale electricity prices for the first time since June and cap the cost of coal used by power stations.

BP aiming to send N.Sea Forties crude to Asia-trade

(Reuters) - BP is looking to send North Sea Forties crude to Asia in a rare move, traders said on Wednesday.

Qatar defies global gloom with $5 billion bond issue

(Reuters) - Qatar, the world's biggest natural gas exporter, has raised $5 billion with its first sovereign bond issue in two years, capitalising on investors' appetite for safe havens as the European debt crisis destabilises global markets.

Turkmenistan to boost gas exports to China

MONTREAL - Turkmenistan has agreed to increase future natural gas exports to China from the already planned 40 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) to 65 bcm/y, or more than half of China's total consumption of natural gas.

EU to impose new sanctions on Syria, hold off on Iran oil embargo

Brussels - The European Union is poised to slap Syria with massive sanctions targeting everything from computer software and insurance to the banking and energy sectors, while holding off on a French call for an embargo on Iranian oil, diplomats said Wednesday.

Syria Says Sanctions Are ‘Economic War’ as UN Reports Abuses

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Muallem called the Arab League’s sanctions against his country a declaration of “economic war” as a United Nations human-rights panel said Syrian forces had committed crimes against humanity.

The unprecedented measures adopted by the bloc Nov. 27, including a freeze on Syrian assets and a travel ban on senior officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s government, will have no impact on day-to-day life, though they may affect some luxury goods, Muallem told reporters yesterday in Damascus. Iraq and Lebanon, two of Syria’s largest trading partners, and Jordan probably won’t implement the sanctions, he said.

Cairn’s $600 Million Greenland Oil Campaign Ends in Failure

Cairn Energy Plc (CNE) ended this year’s $600 million drilling program off Greenland after the biggest exploration campaign attempted in the Arctic island’s waters failed to make a viable discovery.

Iran Oil Sanctions Set to Shrink the Circle of Foreign Buyers

Iran faces new hurdles to getting paid for its oil as the U.S. tightens financial sanctions to deter buyers from the world’s third-largest crude exporter.

U.K. Warns Iran After Tehran Embassy Attack

The U.K. will evacuate some of its diplomatic staff from Iran after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters yesterday, chanting “death to the U.K.” and burning its flag.

Norway closes embassy in Iran after Brits attacked

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norway has closed its embassy in Tehran due to security concerns after Britain's mission was stormed by Iranian protesters, an official said Wednesday.

Oil services company stalled by Yemen protests to resume work

SPD, the Dubai oil engineering firm, is hopeful that a prospective transfer of power in Yemen will allow it to return to fields that once yielded it a third of its revenue.

S. Sudan "surprised" by oil export halt, seeks pipeline

JUBA/BEIJING (Reuters) - South Sudan's oil minister said on Tuesday Sudan's decision to halt the South's oil exports over a transit fee row would hurt both countries' oil interests, and that the South would keep seeking an alternative pipeline.

Calls for an end to Sudanese oil dispute from China

Yesterday China, the largest recipient of Sudanese oil and active in the country through a state-owned oil company, urged both parties to keep exports flowing.

"We believe that maintaining the normal production of oil is important for both South Sudan and Sudan," Hong Lei, a foreign ministry spokesman, said in Beijing.

South sees no future in Sudan oil infrastructure: min

JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan will continue to press for a new oil pipeline because it does not see a future in Sudan's oil infrastructure, the oil minister said on Tuesday, a day after Sudan said it halted shipments of the South Sudanese government's oil at port.

Sudan has not stopped South Sudan oil exports -official

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Sudan has not stopped landlocked South Sudan's oil exports in a transit fee row and does not intend to, a Sudanese official said on Wednesday, but said Sudan had confiscated crude shipments in lieu of payments it claims South Sudan owes.

China keen to build roads, railways in Uganda

Two prominent projects have been the funding of construction of a $93 million state house villa in 2007 and a toll road connecting the capital Kampala and Entebbe, the country's international airport.

Chinese petroleum firm Cnooc, alongside France's Total are awaiting government approval of their proposed partnership with London-listed explorer Tullow Oil, in its fields in the country's nascent oil sector.

9,450 energy theft cases detected this year

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has detected 9,450 cases this year of customers tampering with electricity meters at their residence and factories.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The IEA’s Road Show

Every November following the publication of the IEA's World Energy Outlook, the leadership of the Agency travels to major capitols in an effort to explain to the world's leaders the conclusions of the new publication. Parts of this year's briefings contain not-so-subtle hints as to what sort of energy policies the world's leaders might like to follow if they want to avoid killing off all life on earth a century or so from now. Earlier this week the travelers stopped in Washington, where sandwiched between visits to various dignitaries they briefed an assemblage of some 200 journalists.

Although I had already plowed through the 600-page report and extracted some wisdom for these columns, I thought it might be interesting to hear about how the IEA's leaders, who oversaw the scope and approved the findings of the new report, saw the global energy situation.

Black gold, man: A new oil patch is on the way

Goldman issued a report on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that says the United States will be the world's largest producer of petroleum by 2017. The reason: The same techniques that have opened massive new natural gas supplies in places like the Haynesville Shale are starting to perform the same miracle for oil all over the country.

Goldman says U.S. production will rise from 8.3 million barrels a day to 10.9 barrels a day over the next five years. Russia's production is 10.6 million barrels.

Critical Issues of 2012: How Investors Can Position Themselves for the Year Ahead

Whether one agrees with theories of peak oil or not, the statistics show that the world is becoming more dependent on oil from less efficient, “unconventional,” sources. The chart below, adapted from data compiled by Dr. Tom Murphy of the University of California San Diego, shows that any alternative energy source will be less efficient than conventional oil. The consequence of this is that energy is becoming more expensive and those with access to cheap energy will have a productivity advantage. In conjunction, those nations that export energy gain greater economic and political power because they can influence the performance of larger economies that have to import oil and gas. Higher energy prices act like a tax that slows the economy by reducing productivity, and transmits wealth from the consumer to the producer. In addition, the Federal Reserve also influences prices, as devaluing the dollar increases the value of energy resources, all else equal.

Alberta's Oil Sands Heat Up

Thanks to its deposits of buried ­bitumen, Canada is one of the world's fastest-growing oil producers. New extraction technologies are opening up even more of the vast resource—prompting fresh environmental concerns.

Oil sands opponents turn focus to Enbridge project

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc's proposed C$5.5 billion ($5.3 billion) pipeline to British Columbia poses a raft of environmental risks, according to a new report that signals the project will become the next battleground over the future of Canada's oil sands.

Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 2)

American baby boomers were born into a world of cheap oil, plentiful jobs, and expansionary foreign policy and were raised by Depression-era parents that wanted to give them the amenities that they never had the chance to enjoy. This engrained an historical sense that physical growth was unlimited and that the “world was there for me”.

Today’s so-called Millennials (children of baby boomers) are growing up in a starkly different world of peak oil, global warming, shrinking jobs, and diminished material standard of living, but one with unprecedented interconnection. Material opportunities are contracting, but social opportunities are expanding. The new motto emerging is more like: “We are in the world and for each other.” A collapse of material prosperity has given way to the increasing possibility of experiential and social richness.

Fukushima operator urged to scrap all reactors

Tokyo - The governor of Fukushima on Wednesday urged the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co to decommission all 10 of the prefecture's reactors in the wake of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone deemed too hot for tourists

A Ukrainian court has banned tourists from the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown less than a year after government officials declared the region safe and opened it for tours.

Brazil Has Become Net Ethanol Importer, Bunge’s Coviello Says

Brazil has become a net importer of ethanol, particularly from the U.S., Rob Coviello, head of global sugar trading at Bunge Ltd. (BG), said today at a conference in London.

Private Dollars Revive a Solar Panel Plan for Military Housing

An ambitious project by a California company to install solar panels for more than 100,000 military housing units has been revived with private financing after it failed to receive a loan guarantee from the federal government.

Tribal Land Rules: Obama Administration's Proposed Changes Include Wind, Solar Energy Projects

Washington — Ahead of a meeting Friday between President Barack Obama and hundreds of Native American leaders, the administration unveiled new rules for tribal lands that officials say will expedite home building and energy development.

The proposed changes – the first of its kind in 50 years – would open the door to badly-needed housing development on reservations, and for wind and solar energy projects that tribes have been eager to launch.

Infographic Of The Day: The Metals That Enable Our Gadgets Are Vanishing

Jevons Paradox is probably the world's least appreciated Big Idea.

"Warning: This Car Is Inefficient"

Have you ever noticed a friend or neighbor driving a new hybrid car and felt pressure to trade in your gas guzzler? Or worried about what people might think when you drive up to the office in an SUV? If so, then you have experienced the power of reputation for encouraging good public behavior. In fact, reputation is such an effective motivator that it could help us solve the most pressing issue we face—protecting our planet.

Some fight uphill battle for a simpler holiday season

On Black Friday, jacket maker Patagonia ran ads urging people NOT to buy its clothes if they didn’t need them.

In a post on the company’s blog, the high-end outdoor clothing maker explained, “It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy.”

As Water Levels Drop, Texas Drought Reveals Secrets of the Deep

MARTINS MILL, Tex. — For more than three years, the lake on Jack Mewbourn’s ranch here held a secret at its murky bottom: A 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His grandson was the first one to notice the top of the car peeking out of the water. It wasn’t luck, or even fate. It was drought.

The water level in the seven-acre lake has dropped about five feet from a lack of rain. Stand on the grass lining the lake’s edge today, and in any other year you would be standing nearly waist-deep in water.

Partnership Preserves Livelihoods and Fish Stocks

Five years ago, the conservancy bought out area fishing boats and licenses in a fairly extreme deal — forged with the local fishing industry — to protect millions of acres of fish habitat. The unusual collaboration was enjoined to meet stricter federal regulations and the results of a successful legal challenge. But once the conservancy had access to what was essentially its own private commercial fishing fleet, the group decided to put the boats back to work and set up a collaborative model for sustainable fishing.

Will the Lights Stay On in Texas and New England?

Texas and New England may soon run short of the generating capacity they need to reliably meet peak loads, largely because old plants will be retired rather than retrofitted to meet new pollution rules, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation reported on Monday.

EPA Said to Give Power Companies Options to Delay Pollution Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency would let power plants apply for more time to comply with new pollution standards under a rule sent to the White House for review, according to people familiar with the process.

Alaska Native, conservation groups appeal 2nd air permit to Shell for Arctic offshore drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native and conservation groups are again taking aim at a federal permit needed by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell to drill for petroleum in Arctic Ocean waters off Alaska's northern shore.

Alaskan community revives legal bid for global warming damages

A native American community in remote Alaska this week revived legal efforts to hold some of the world's largest energy companies accountable for allegedly destroying their village because of global warming.

The so-called "climigration" trial would be the first of its kind, potentially creating a precedent in the US courts for further climate change-related damages cases.

A grim glimpse into Del.'s coastal future

Tom Owen looked at the state's sea-level-rise projection map of Lewes along Delaware Bay on Tuesday night and was only slightly reassured.

He was one of about 100 people who came to see the state Sea Level Advisory Committee's projections of what gradually rising coastal waters will mean for Delawareans over the next 100 years.

"The cottage on the beach is going to be there," he said. "But we're not going to be able to get to it ... and I'm not a boating person."

Wood fires fuel climate change – UN

Log burning and diesel vehicles two of the biggest culprits in developed world in generating pollution causing black carbon.

Top UN climate scientist lays out dangers of global warming, benefit of controlling pollution

DURBAN, South Africa — The U.N.’s top climate scientist cautioned climate negotiators Wednesday that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs, but containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits.

Kent rejects climate ‘guilt payment’ to poorer countries

The Kyoto Protocol is built on an outdated view of the developed and developing world and the unacceptable demand for climate reparations from poorer countries, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.

China decries Canada’s “bad example” in climate talks

Canada’s failure to deny reports that it is about to ditch the Kyoto Protocol is “setting a bad example” to other developed nations as global climate change talks enter their third day, China’s official news agency said on Wednesday.

Archbishop Tutu challenges Canada to stop protecting big oil

OTTAWA — Archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu is challenging the Canadian government's support for the oil and gas industry, while urging it to start leading the world in addressing climate change as it did in opposing the "whites-only" rule that plagued South Africa in the 1980s.

Banks seen as climate culprits at global talks: report

DURBAN (Reuters) - Major global banks are exacerbating the fight against global warming by supplying power utilities and mining firms with ample funds to build coal-fired plants, according to a report released by non-governmental groups at the climate talks in Durban.

China, Japan Clash With EU Over Aviation CO2 Curbs at Summit

European Union plans to impose curbs on carbon-dioxide emissions by international airlines as of 2012 drew fire from countries including China, Venezuela and Japan, marking a new stumbling block at the climate summit this week.

Shipping sector may accept price on CO2 emissions

The world shipping industry could accept a global levy on carbon emissions from merchant ships under a deal that would also channel proceeds to poor countries, according to an announcement at the UN climate talks on Tuesday.

There is still time to avoid being locked into a high-carbon energy system - but not much

THE WORLD is losing the battle against climate change. Last year, the greenhouse gas emissions, blamed by scientists for causing global warming, increased by more than 5 per cent, despite all the efforts being made by many countries to contain them and even against the backdrop of the worst economic recession for decades.

Qatar, Greenhouse Gas Titan, Will Host Next U.N. Climate Summit

The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar has been selected as the site of next year’s United Nations climate change meeting, edging out South Korea. The announcement came as this year’s meeting opened in Durban, South Africa, with delegates from 194 nations facing growing concerns about rising global temperatures and more frequent climate-related catastrophes.

Small island states 'may disappear if no climate deal'

DURBAN (Reuters) - Small island states may disappear under rising seas if an international agreement to tackle climate change is delayed for another decade, an official said on Monday.

The European Union is calling for a global deal to be reached by 2015 and implemented by 2020, but the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said that would be too late to reverse rising sea levels that threaten to submerge the vulnerable states.

Scientists say act or lose all Arctic ice

DURBAN, South Africa: Thirteen of the world's hottest recorded years have occurred in the past 15 years and Arctic ice layers were at their thinnest this year, scientists have warned.

This year was also the hottest to coincide with the normally cooling effect of the La Nina weather system in the Pacific, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found.

Without urgent action by all governments, they say, global temperatures could ''very rapidly'' rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which it is believed would trigger irreversible changes in the climate.

Re: Scientists say act or lose all Arctic ice

This story from The Telegraph has the usual denialist quote from conservative politician Lord Lawson:

Writing in Radio Times, Lawson says certain populations of the bears are rising and sea ice cover is increasing in Antarctica.

He adds that an ''objective'' point of view would have pointed out that Antarctic sea ice had expanded over the past 30 years.

While the Antarctic sea-ice has not exhibited the remarkable decline seen over the Arctic, the hole in the ozone is still rather large and ozone is another greenhouse gas, thus the decline in ozone offsets some of the warming due to CO2. Other indicators of climate change around the Antarctic do point to warming, especially over the Antarctic Peninsula and some glaciers. The decline in Arctic sea-ice is most pronounced at the end of summer, while around the Antarctic, almost all the sea-ice already melts by the end of Austral Summer, since the ice edge is much further from the South Pole than is the case for the Arctic...

E. Swanson

The Canadian government has been having a problem seeing any real danger to the polar bears, since the number in the Canadian Arctic has nearly doubled in the last 40 years, from 8,000 to 15,000. The native Inuit are reporting that they have never seen so many polar bears.

The key factor is that they introduced controls on hunting them. If you stop shooting them, they have a lot better survival rate.

Researchers have noted that they are a lot more flexible than people think, and if their supply of seal meat is reduced, they switch to eating duck eggs, for instance, or even you if you get too close to them.

Speaking of seals, since the environmentally sensitive Europeans started protesting the killing of the cute white Harp Seal pups on the grounds that they were "endangered", their numbers have exploded from 2 million to 9 million. If you don't kill the beggars they breed like rabbits.

The PBSG reevaluated the status of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears distributed over vast and relatively inaccessible areas of the Arctic. Despite the fact that much new information has been made available since the last meeting, knowledge of some populations is still poor. Reviewing the latest information available the PBSG concluded that 1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining. For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend


There is room for error in the data but I doubt it will imply that polar bear count is increasing.

Notice the cherry picking by Lawson, i.e. "some polar bear populations [..]" and compare it to the PBSG "1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining." and especially see them mentioning caveats in their data: "For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment"

If someone makes strong claims without providing context and caveats, simply assume it is propaganda.

I noticed you didn't provide a link. If someone makes strong claims without providing a footnote to the source, simply assume it's propaganda. /joke

Folks. The ice can't be saved. The world will get a lot dirtier and warmer. Humans will continue to breed like rabbits or seals... what ever analogy you prefer. Humans can't manage themselves. That topic doesn't need a 100th repeating.

I do see great hope in peak oil/resources. Perhaps 100 years after the peak, the population will be down and the planet will be healing. I'm sorry I won't be there to see that better world.

How long will it take for them to go into overshoot like the snow bunnies do every decade or so?

I don't know, we've never had a harp seal population explosion like this before.

However, the basic problem is that, other than human beings, the harp seal has no predators except polar bears, and the polar bear population has been reduced in the area.

Here's a concept - repopulate the Atlantic ice pack with polar bears and see what they do with the harp seal population. We may lose a few fishermen in the process due to the polar bear's tendency to eat people instead of seals, but it would be an interesting experiment.

Leave the seals alone. Feed them the fishermen. I hear we've had a population explosion of them in Japan and Norway.

Sadly, there's no reason to be optimistic about polar bear abundance trends:

Graph of the Day: Status of Polar Bear Populations, March 2010

These declines are clearly a consequence of habitat loss (sea ice). But polar bears may be finished off by industrial pollutants in the Arctic marine ecosystem:

Polar bears ill from accumulated environmental toxins

Similar declines are apparent in penguin populations on the Antarctic Peninsula, a consequence of habitat loss, pollution, and a trophic cascade through the ecosystem:

Graph of the Day: Chinstrap Penguin Breeding Pair Abundance, 1977-2009
Penguin, krill populations in freefall as Antarctic warms
Photo gallery: The trials and tribulations of Adélie penguins in a rapidly warming Antarctic

It's a very bad time to be a species that relies on sea ice for habitat.

And then you have the opinion of the people who actually live with the polar bears:

Polar bears not at risk: Nunavut

The Nunavut government does not think the polar bear should be classified as a species of special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act, says territorial Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk.

Shewchuk said there is no clear evidence to support assigning that status to the polar bear despite recommendations to the contrary by Environment Canada and a federal scientific panel.

"We live in polar bear country," Shewchuk told reporters in Iqaluit on Friday afternoon. "We understand the polar bears, and we do actually think our polar bear population is very very healthy, with the exception of a couple of populations that we are taking action on."

In fact the forecasts of polar bear declines are based on theoretical computer models which are made by people who don't really understand polar bear behavior. Polar bears are much more adaptable than they think and have been through climate change many times before.

For instance, see: Polar bears take up rock climbing to find eggs

I guess it's sort of like peak oil. With the sea ice disappearing the bears are running out of easy food and have to go after more marginal sources.

The article on polar bears eating eggs points out that there really isn't much food to be had by eating the eggs, at least by hungry polar bear standards. At the same time the bird populations are affected - they're wild birds not laying hens.

And settlers introduced competitors like rats and cats on the American continent about 300 years ago which will compete with the original wildlife for resources like birds eggs.

Yes, except that here in Alberta we killed all the rats, and in my neighborhood the coyotes and owls have down a fine job of reducing the stray cat population to zero. The only surviving cats are indoor cats.

Wiener dogs and fru-fru dogs don't do well either, except if they only go outdoors on a leash with an owner carrying a stick. Bear spray is recommended and most dog-walkers in the woods behind my house carry it.

We haven't lost a species here in the last 10,000 years. The native animals are capable of looking after themselves. Human beings just have to learn to stay out of their way.

Yes, except that here in Alberta we killed all the rats

That amazed me and I wondered why, this link has the story laid out. Anyway, it's clear this isn't really possible for all of Canada and with a warming climate the rats will have it easier.

We haven't lost a species here in the last 10,000 years. The native animals are capable of looking after themselves.

Are you sure?

Okay one species went extinct, the Banff Longnose Dace, which was a small fish that lived only in a small marsh fed by the Banff hot springs.

It didn't actually die out, it was a victim of what scientists call "introgressive hybridization", which is to say it interbred with the closely related Eastern Longnose Dace from the nearby Bow River and hybridized itself out of existence, a victim of unsafe sex with close relatives.

Of course, some scientists argue that if it hadn't been for pollution from the swimming pool at the Banff Springs it would have stuck to having sex with its own species. Other scientists argue that it wasn't a separate species at all.

Another threatened species is the Banff Springs Snail, whose range has shrunk from nine hot springs on Sulfur Mountain to only five hot springs. Scientists are desperately trying to save it, because there aren't that many snails that only live in sulfurous hot springs, I guess.

Obviously he's lived that long, and he's cataloged/tracked every species throughout Canada.

Ah, isn't that cute. Instead of eating what they are designed to eat to get big and healthy to survive all seasons (seal fat), they are now reduced to scavenging for egss. Ah, isn't humankind cute as we push animals to make such interesting adaptations. Ah, look at the cute human beings. How could anyone not love a specie that justifies everything it does. Ahh!

Polar bears, like most bears (excluding of course pandas) are opportunistic eaters. They will eat whatever they can. They are closely related to grizzly bears, and grizzly bears will eat everything from moose to mice if they can get their claws on them. However, unlike polar bears, grizzlies don't seem to have developed a taste for people, although that doesn't stop them from killing people who annoy them.

Grizzly bears are somewhat more flexible in that if they can't get meat they will eat berries, and if they can't get berries they will eat dandelions. This makes them something of a hazard on local golf courses because golf courses have a lot of dandelions. So far only one person has been killed on a local golf course by a dandelion-habituated grizzly bear, but you never know what the grizzlies might do if the both berry and dandelion crop failed.

As I am no expert on polar bears and their eating habits, I'll defer to your knowledge on this. Even so, I'm having some trouble reconciling the assumption that most polar bear populations are significantly increasing with the (limited) available data.


"The February report concedes that scientists still have limited scientific data about the polar bear population in many parts of the Arctic—lacking sufficient information to even determine whether the population is increasing or decreasing in 7 of 19 subpopulations.

“Reviewing the latest information available, the PBSG concluded that one of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, three are stable, and eight are declining,” said the group’s press release on the report.

“For the remaining seven subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend. The total number of polar bears is still thought to be between 20,000 and 25,000,” it said.

The group said it viewed anticipated changes in the Arctic environment caused by “climate change” to be the greatest threat to the future of the polar bear."

It looks like more data must be collected to draw much in the way of conclusions, but for those bear subpopulations that we do have data on, the picture is far from uniformly rosy. Or am I missing something here?

There's no reason to expect any species to survive the destruction of its habitat. The habitat for polar bears is sea ice: thick, old sea ice, not the thin, young ice that dominates the Arctic now.

Graph of the Day: Age of Arctic Sea Ice, 1983-2011

Polar bears don't get the fat that they need to survive by eating berries and eggs; they need to eat marine mammals, and they need sea ice as a hunting platform. With sea ice in drastic decline, polar bear populations have nowhere to go but down.

Polar bears have been through global warming before:


New genetic evidence shows polar bears withstood a very warm interglacial period 44,000 years ago. So can they survive current warming?

Polar bears are a remarkably recent offshoot of the brown bear family tree according to the oldest DNA studied to date from a rare fossil from Norway.

The mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from the 150,000-year-old bear fossil place it on the bear family tree very near the time when a branch of the brown bears diverged and, after a lot of rapid evolution, became the very specialized polar predator we know today.

The discovery settles some controversies about polar bear evolution, as well as raises questions about the great mammal's ability to adapt to a warming climate.

So, since the polar bear has been through this before, odds are it can survive it again. Further evidence from the Inuit people (who are the experts on polar bears, not scientists) is that they are doing extremely well.

And, if all else fails, there is my favorite solution. Just shoot some of those 9 million harp seals that infest the Atlantic ice pack and air-drop them to the polar bears. I've never known a bear to turn down free food that was dropped in front of it, not even by a terrified picnicker. We're a rich country and we can afford to do this kind of thing.

Here in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, the Fish & Wildlife people gather up all the frozen road kill from the winter and drop it in the front ranges in the spring as free lunch for the grizzly bears when they come out of their dens. It stops them from wandering out onto the prairies and getting themselves into trouble by chowing down on people's cattle.

If anybody was wondering, a grizzly bear is more or less the same thing as a brown bear.

Since the polar bear has been through this before, odds are it can survive it again.

So we may hope, but I wouldn't take comfort from your link: "The gist: Though they survived that period, polar bears today face bigger threats than ever before."

Further evidence from the Inuit people (who are the experts on polar bears, not scientists) is that they are doing extremely well.

I have to be skeptical of this claim, given the vast decrease in polar bear habitat:

In Nunavut, some Inuit have reported increases in bear sightings around human settlements in recent years, leading to a belief that populations are increasing. Scientists have responded by noting that hungry bears may be congregating around human settlements, leading to the illusion that populations are higher than they actually are.

What we're seeing here is desperation, not an increase in polar bear abundance.

It should be noted that Inuit were part of the traditional diet of polar bears (one of the very few animals that hunt man). There may be a cultural legacy from that not too distant past among the Inuit.

Polar bear conservation may not be a cultural priority - for understandable reasons.


In terms of the reaction of Indigenous Peoples to "whitefella" research studies, from my experience with Australia's Indigenous Peoples (nearly 20 years), they are often deeply concerned that such studies might lead to legislation that will inhibit their traditional hunting rights. There was a really big case in Australia (went to the High Court) about the right of local Indigenous people to hunt crocodiles (protected nation-wide - despite their obvious success as a species over 200 million years) ... the Indigenous plaintiffs won.

Here in Canada, we gave the Inuit their own territory (Nunavut) which is considerably bigger than Australia's northern territory and somewhat bigger than Alaska, although much less heavily populated than either. They get to make their own rules, so they give themselves the right to shoot polar bears and hunt whales.

When we were drilling oil wells in the Arctic and had a problem with a polar bear (they have a bad habit of eating oil workers), the crew would just hire an Inuit hunter to deal with it. One of them showed up with a rifle and two bullets. The crew asked him if he wanted more bullets, and he said, no thanks, he already had twice as many bullets as he needed.

The Inuit are superbly adapted to living in the north. I talked to an army officer who had hired a couple of Inuit guides for a winter survival exercise. The Canadian Army showed up with tons of winter survival equipment. The Inuit guides showed up wearing their sealskin coats and carrying a hand saw. It took them a couple of hours to build an igloo, and the soldiers noticed that, at 40 below, the Inuit were far more comfortable in an igloo than they were in their tents. The temperature in an occupied igloo doesn't drop below the freezing point no matter how cold it gets outside.

That's extremely magnaminous of you Canadian fellows to give the Inuit their very own territory :-).

Well, it's not quite like that. While Nunavut was created as the result of a 'land claim agreement' (settling the claims of the Inuit in the eastern Arctic of Canada), the result is a territory with a public form of government (that is, anyone living in the territory - meeting residency requirements - has a say in the operation of the government). Since the Inuit make up the large majority of the population, they do have the ability collectively to dictate how things play out, but it is open that that might change in the future, should the demographics change (which would likely take some serious AGW!).

We're a rich country and we can afford to do this kind of thing.

Rocky, I have a lot of respect for your expertise in petroleum geology. However, knowing what you do about resource depletion, I daresay you haven't really thought that comment through to it's logical conclusion... Can you seriously expect to sustain any species of large carnivorous mammal for the long term by air dropping food to them.

If anybody was wondering, a grizzly bear is more or less the same thing as a brown bear.

I think you meant to say polar bear instead of brown bear

I think he meant what he said.


Six of this, half a dozen of the other...


Arctic Bears
How Grizzlies Evolved into Polar Bears
Over the years, scientists have uncovered an evolutionary path suggesting that polar bears are a relatively new species, and actually a subspecies, of Ursus arctos, more widely known as the brown bear. Scientific evidence has found that the brown bear, a species that also includes grizzly bears, was a “precursor” to polar bears, which then went on to develop specializations for inhabiting the harsh Arctic.

(Warning--what follows are mostly random, tangential, and OT comments.)

My wife's version of the phrase is 'half of one, six dozen of the other' which fits better than she intends, sometimes.

Ursus arctos is an etymological tautology, both words coming from the same root *h2ertoko- (cf. Hittite artaka-) meaning 'bear.' The geographical designation of arctos (from the Greek word of the same form for 'bear' a cousin-word or cognate to ursus) came from the fact that the 'bear' constellations, ursa major and particularly ursa minor, are near the pole star.

Yes, rmg is a very valuable asset here around various oil field issues, but when it comes to environmental harm from tar sands or gw I'm afraid he becomes somewhat...less informative.

Ursus arctos is an etymological tautology, both words coming from the same root *h2ertoko- (cf. Hittite artaka-) meaning 'bear.'

And the European brown bear is known as "Ursus arctos arctos", which means, "Bear bear bear", but what's your point? You can yell it when one comes at you, but it's better to lie down on the ground and play dead.

The grizzly bear is "Ursus arctos horribilis", which means horrible bear bear, I guess.

I know an oil field worker who foolishly drove his truck between a mother grizzly and her cub. The mother knocked the truck box loose from the frame and he spent half a mile with the throttle flat on the floor, the wheels spinning in the mud, and the bear whacking away at his truck before he finally outran her. He had to fill out a report on it afterward because the horrible bear bear did a lot of damage to his truck.

I read about some oil company workers that were having a lot of fun flying low chasing bears in their helicopter. One day they had to make an emergency landing due to a mechanical problem and when someone came back to repair the helicopter they found that a bear had completely smashed it to pieces! You may have seen that book -- it was stories from the early days of the oil industry in Canada.

I was sitting in a train/bus station or airport many years ago, there was an Alaska magazine available and there was an article about the horrible bear bear. There was a standing joke amongst park rangers about the tendency of campersto pack a ,45 in bear county. The joke was, to paraphrase, if you want to use a .45 in this bear ountry for protection, you need to file the sight off. That way it wont hurt so much when the horrible bear bear sticks it up your nose. They mentioned the weapon of choice was slugs.

On a more humorous note, in the same issue there was a report of a woman not believing that moose nuggets laying around weren't weren't some type of nut when the park ranger told her so. To prove him wrong, she chomped down on one. Nuff said. The park ranger wondered why she didn't consider the lack of nut trees on the arctic tundra significant.

I mean to say what I said. Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos). Polar bears are a different species (Ursus maritimus).

Of course it would be possible to sustain polar bears by air dropping food to them. It's all just a matter of logistics. They wouldn't even have to drop them particularly close to the bears - bears are extremely good at sniffing out food wherever it is, and they are not finicky eaters.

I doubt that they would have to, however. I strongly suspect the bears can manage to find enough food on their own.

The key factor in bear survival is to quit hunting the bears. If people stop shooting them, the bears will have a better survival rate. OTOH, maybe people don't want as many bears as they have, so maybe they want to shoot more of them. (The Inuit would tend to fall into the latter category).

Rocky - I'm sure the folks at Churchill would chip in some food. I've been out there in the flat and almost nose to nose with a big momma...about 4'. The most amazing thing was their complete lack of fear of man. Like the man said in "Jaws": Doll eyes...dead eyes.

Keep your arms in the bus at all times. Polar bears have been known to notice them dangling out and rip them off. If they can't get the whole human, they'll take what they can get.

They're only cute and fuzzy if there's a barrier between you and them. I know someone who was chased into the post office in a northern town by a polar bear. Fortunately, the door was solid and had a lock, and the bear couldn't figure out how to open it, although he give it a really good try.

Of course it would be possible to sustain polar bears by air dropping food to them.

You're kidding right?! No, I'm sure you actually believe that but that statement is beyond absurd. Why? You might ask.
Because this kind of thinking is the epitome of cornucopian and techno utopianism!

Our current system is already undergoing the beginning stages of collapse. This planet is in deep ecological overshoot! To think, even for a moment, that we have the resources long term to keep top predators alive by such energy intensive and artificial means is beyond ridiculous.

BTW, without a healthy ecosystem to sustain bears, we aren't that far away from being in deep trouble ourselves. If you don't get that, then I have nothing further to say on this topic.

Let's just keep building pipelines to sustain the unsustainable! What could possibly go wrong?

No, I'm not kidding. The fish and wildlife people here drop road kill in the front ranges for the grizzly bears in the spring, when they're really hungry, and they drop hay bales to the elk if there's a blizzard. There's no point in relying on mother nature if the animals need food.

Wildlife these days are highly managed. All the local grizzly bears and cougars have radio collars so the F&W people can keep tabs on them, and most of the mountain sheep have ear tags with numbers on them. It's a fairly short step from that to putting a radio collar on all the polar bears up north, monitoring their progress, and dropping a dead seal out of a helicopter in front of them whenever they look like they need a meal.

It's pretty easy to keep them alive with a little monitoring and enough money.

The only reason overshoot would occur would be if there were too many of them, and that is easily controlled by issuing more hunting permits if there seem to be too many bears.

The only reason there is an elk hunting season here is because the F&W people don't like to see them starve to death in the winter. If hunters shoot the surplus elk in the fall, the remaining elk have enough food for the winter, and the hunters get to eat elk meat all winter.

The only reason there is an elk hunting season here is because the F&W people don't like to see them starve to death in the winter.

Errrr, the reason that F&W has the money to do all of the things that you describe, is because they are able to charge hunters licensing and tag fees. The idea that elk hunting only takes place to prevent the elk from starving is frankly sort of naive and bizarre.

No, you're missing the essential point that if they weren't hunted, the surplus elk would starve to death in the winter. The F&W people feel that it is more humane if they are dispatched in the fall with a nice clean shot and served up for dinner instead of some domestic cow.

Also, starving elk do an awful lot of damage to the trees. Man, can they do a lot of damage to the trees.

No, you're missing the essential point that if they weren't hunted, the surplus elk would starve to death in the winter. The F&W people feel that it is more humane if they are dispatched in the fall with a nice clean shot and served up for dinner instead of some domestic cow.

The hunting of elk is done because people like the sport and benefit by eating the meat and attaining trophies. Wildlife management agencies benefit by charging licensing and tag fees. Preventing elk from starving is incidental to the process.

Its pretty simple ecology in Northern CO - lots of people, lots of elk, and the lots of people have exterminated the predators for the elk. So people have to hunt the elk or in a few years their populations would explode and devastate the ecosystem as the previous poster noted. Of course the bark beetles are doing a good job of that already.

If you don't like hunting then get rid of the people in the mountains (close the ski areas, that would do it) and reintroduce wolves. No more hunting needed. I like elk hunting and I am in favor of this idea.

If you don't like hunting then get rid of the people in the mountains (close the ski areas, that would do it) and reintroduce wolves. No more hunting needed. I like elk hunting and I am in favor of this idea.

I'm sure closing the ski areas would be politically and economically feasible in CO. NOT! The only thing that I can think of that has less of a chance of happening as closing ski areas, would be abolishing hunting. Even if you could reintroduce wolves to CO (and I don't know why you'd have to clear people out of the mountains to do it), there is zero chance of a wide scale bans on hunting. You'd have a better chance at banning rock climbing or mountain biking.

FWIW, I've never said I was anti-hunting. I might say it's a poor substitute trying to fill the gap left by two centuries of extirpation of predators. It's also IMHO in no danger of being reduced or eliminated any time soon!

You are right, ski areas won't be closed (I was being sacracstic, thought it was obvious), hunting won't be banned. The fiasco of trying to reintroduce wolves in SW New Mexico should be a good illustration of why they won't ever be reintroduced in CO. Instead of the random welfare rancher's cow being chomped it would be the precious sprog of ski town yuppies (that is also sacrcasm, and also true).

It being incidental that wildlife management prevents elk from starving doesn't change the fact that that is what the agencies accomplish with the fees and regulations. I am happy they are there, as corrupt and mismanaged as they might be - with out them the mtns would be an even crazier place with yahoos on atvs blasting at anything that moves with machine guns.

Peak oil will take care of the ski towns and the wildlife management bueracracy - hunting will increase temporarily until all the potential game is gone, then we'll start shooting each other :)

If you want to reintroduce wolves to Colorado, we can give you some of our local Canadian Rockies wolves. We did a pretty good job of reintroducing them to Montana and Wyoming (they thought it was some kind of natural accident).

Grey wolves have never been known to eat a human being, although they have been known to take the occasional nip out of them, so I wouldn't worry too much about it (just keep the kids indoors when there are wolves around). The elk are more dangerous than the wolves (the tourists don't realize this) and the grizzly bears are far, far more dangerous - they kill someone every so often.

There are a couple of drawbacks to reintroducing wolves to keep the elk population down: 1) the elk all move into town to get away from the wolves and you end up with hundreds of elk wandering around the streets and clogging up traffic and, 2) the cougars get into conflicts with the wolves, which they lose, so they wander into town to get at the elk. The cougars are more dangerous than the wolves because they eat a lot of dogs, they are always trying to bag someone's kid, and they did pick off a cross-country skier here a few years ago.

Rocky, reading the actual report in the PNAS instead of the article to which you link gives the impression that polar berars split from brown bears at about the end of the Eemian some 120 kyr BP, which was the last interglacial in the climate record of which I am aware. The article claims that there was an interglacial at around 44 kyr BP, while the PNAS report suggests that there might have been a population bottleneck at about the same time period, the authors speculating that the cause may have "climate related". One might also consider that the bottleneck was about the time that Amerasians migrated across the land bridge at the Bering Strait, perhaps killing lots of bears along the way. These same peoples are also thought to have wiped out the megafauna in North America, such as the mammoths and saber tooth tigers, as they spread across the continent. Careful reading thus gives a different interpretation...

E. Swanson

The original migrants to North America do seem to have wreaked havoc on the natural environment. The mammoth and mastodon went extinct, the cave bear went extinct, the sabertooth cat went extinct, the dire wolf went extinct, the giant bison went extinct, the giant beaver went extinct, the list goes on and on.

The details are not totally clear, but it seems suspicious that such a large number of species should suddenly disappear about the same time human beings appeared on this continent. Equally suspiciously, a mass extinction occurred in Australia about the time human beings appeared there.

Polar bears seem to have done okay, but then the number of people in the far north never seems to have been as high as in the southern parts of the continent.

You can not learn from the past, because the past have nothing to teach us.

1: Back in the days, global warming was natural. This ongoing round is much much worse. Polar bears have never seen this level of CO2 concentration in the history of the species. They have never seen the heat they are going to see when the lagging effect of the ocean on climate change have neen caught up. This will be warm, very warm.

2: Humans was not around last time, with their rifles, polutions and habitat destruction. This round, polar bears have nowhere to go.

Sure they will eat whatever they can (have to?). So will any hungry being. That doesn't mean they don't have a problem. This article cites the study wiseindian referenced, and goes on to say (my emphases):

...over tens of thousands of years, polar bears have evolved to spend most of their lives — and do nearly all of their hunting for their favored prey, ringed seals — on sea ice. This is especially true in spring, when the bears fatten up on seals so the female polar bears can put on sufficient calories to gestate and nurse cubs. Not only is Arctic sea ice declining overall, but it is breaking up earlier in spring; in some regions — such as western Hudson Bay — sea ice has been melting three weeks earlier than in the mid-1980s, depriving polar bears of a vital feeding opportunity.

Over the past two decades, studies in western and southern Hudson Bay show that polar bears are growing thinner, that undernourished females are having smaller litters, and that females are giving birth to lighter cubs that do not survive as well.


Robert Rockwell and graduate student Linda Gormezano, both associated with the American Museum of Natural History and City University of New York, suggested that polar bears on the west coast of Hudson Bay — which now spend as much as five months fasting on land in summer and fall — might find relief in the future by turning their attention to snow goose eggs. The study evolved out of Rockwell’s decades-long work on snow geese in Hudson Bay.

The snow goose specialists aren’t alone in suggesting that polar bears could adapt to life on land. In the current issue of The Journal of Mammalogy, Markus G. Dyck, an instructor at Nunavut College in Iqaluit, and Ermias Kebreab, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, suggest that if sufficient berries are available on land, they could possibly replace calories the bears lose from eating fewer seals at sea. Dyck and Kebreab predict that polar bears will adapt if sea ice continues to decline.

But polar bear researchers say it is highly unlikely that goose eggs and berries would ever be able to replace the trove of calories the bears now ingest from eating fatty seals. Andrew Derocher, chairman of IUCN's Polar Bear Specialist Group, has written a soon-to-be published paper with an associate demonstrating that there are simply not enough resources on land — be they goose eggs, kelp, or berries — to replace what the bears get on the ice.

“A few good feedings of goose eggs will pretty much wipe out that resource,” said Derocher, who has worked on polar bears in Svalbard, the Beaufort Sea, Hudson Bay, and Wager Bay in northern Canada. “In the long run, goose eggs can contribute nothing of energetic consequence to polar bears.”

Even the snow geese scientists concede that in 40 years, only six bears — four since 2000 — have been seen feeding on snow goose eggs. In addition, Derocher and Stirling have shown that polar bears lose about a kilogram per day when they are stuck on land. Those periods of food deprivation on land have become prolonged in recent years, but still the bears have not turned to goose eggs or berries for sustenance.

Nah, those damn hippie European saientists interferin' with our business, it's just natural selection and Inuit are saying they're doing great anyhow! Let's move forward and consume all those resources as quickly as possible. Who needs sea ice anyway, it's a goddamn nuisance for drilling rigs I'm tell'n ya!

@synchroGENized & Peak Earl,

Why do you perma-doomers hate the polar bears' adaptibility and resourcefulness? Clearly, these bears are robust, pro-growth, Libertarian cornucopians who have carefully studied Chicago School free market economics. By switching from seals to eggs, they are simply obeying the Law of Substitution and Perpetual Abundance as laid out by their mentor, the late Julian Simon.

Why do you hate their freedom to become egg-eaters? Seriously, you guys could find a cloud in any silver lining!

Your personal interpretation, illogical filter, conjured up the idea somehow of my hatred of polar bears ability to adapt. Oh wrong! My point was the willingness of people to interpret our actions on the planet as perfectly fine because the bear found an alternative source of food. Do you see the difference?

Should I have added the "/sarcasm" or "/Colbert" tag? ;-)

It seems you need to ... sigh.

That's one of the limiting factors in typing - humor isn't as easy to recognize as in person. I'll remember this and try to read between the lines next time.

You did fine. Obvious to IQ>50.

Care to source us on these facts? IMO they seem a bit skewed. The Harp Seals for example: it sounds like there are no natural controls on their population aside from humans. Seems like if this is the case then something else is far out of balance - not that it would surprise me, but it wouldn't exactly re-enforce the point.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: What are the current seal populations?

Harp Seals:

There are three harp seal populations in the north Atlantic, of which the stock off Canada and western Greenland is the largest. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is healthy and abundant with an estimated population of 9 million animals, more than four times what it was in the 1970s.

Apart from humans: killer whale, shark and polar bear. But without ice the polar bear will not be able to contribute to controlling seal populations.

Seems like relocation of the Polar Bears might be an idea.


Yes an idea but not a very practical one. Just where would you relocate a few thousand polar bears where they might find food and habitat that is not already spoken for?

Ron P.

The Republican National Convention ?


Just where would you relocate a few thousand polar bears where they might find food and habitat that is not already spoken for?


Remember the old trick question, "Why don't polar bears eat penguins?" It's because polar bears live in the Arctic and penguins live in the Antarctic.

If we relocated polar bears to Antarctica, they would have a great new food source and could just go crazy eating penguins. The only problem is that the penguins might not survive this great new idea.

It's probably better to go back to the idea of dropping dead seals out of airplanes to the polar bears.

Antarctica is much colder then the arctic.
the penguin's and then their aquatic predator's population will crash if they do survive the much colder temp.

Notwithstanding the cold temperatures in Antarctica, I'm sure that if you introduced a new top predator like the polar bear, the penguins would not do at all well. Penguins can't run very fast, and polar bears can.

This is why people should have been more careful in introducing new species to new continents. The species they introduced probably caused more extinctions that the people themselves.

The polar bears would do less well after all the penguins were gone, but I'm sure they could catch enough seals to keep a large number of them fed.


That was my thought too. Another option would be to send them to Greenland and Iceland? Maybe northern Minnesota. They can roam Lake Minnetonka.

Oh sure, you can send polar bears to northern Minnesota, but then they'd eat people in northern Minnesota. I don't thing the residents are ready for that.

It was bad enough when we sent wolves to Montana and Wyoming. The American ranchers just totally freaked out because they were sure the wolves would eat their cattle (which of course they did, but not really enough to matter).

The wolves did not eat any children. That's just a myth from Little Red Riding Hood. Just keep your kids indoors when there are wolves around and never let them walk in the woods without an armed adult, and there will be no problem.


I have stayed out of the bear discussion except foe one little comment, which I think you may have recognized as being a tad ironic but sympathetic to your position.I knew when I made the remark about seal overshoot that it is virtually inevitable
given the current circumstances .

Now I consider myself as much an environmentalist as most folks, but I also tend to think of myself as a practical big envelope thinker.

I suppose that if the Arctic land masses are developed without setting aside a considerable portion of the land as a wilderness, or under a system of management comparable to the US National Forests, then both the grizzly and the polar bear are finished in the far north.The grizzly would still be ok in the northern US in national parks and in southern Canada.

I can't see the high Arctic lands being developed anytime soon, although that might happen a century from now if runaway warming turns out to be as bad as some think it will.You can grow a humongous cabbage in Alaska because although the growing season is short frost to frost, the days are LOOOONG.

We have a considerable population of black bears right in my neighborhood TODAY, even though I never saw a bear here , or within a hundred miles of here, until ten years ago.Bears are very adaptable, and they repopulated this former range quickly once state regulated hunting and fishing became the norm. I am going to have to put electric fences around our bee hives.I hope I get to it before the bears get to the bees;several neighbors have lost their bees to bears already.

Likewise we have a flourishing population of coyotes, and while purists and biologists might want to argue the fine points of species and classes and so forth, it is perfectly obvious to a practica;l minded farmer that functionally coyotes are just another sort of (small) wolf.They invaded this area are and took it for their own about ten to fifteen yeas ago..

Speaking as a farmer-a professionally educated farmer-I can say that animals can "change their stripes" rather quickly , as a result of deliberate or natural breeding pressure..

You can breed a color out of a line of dogs or cows deliberately-or into it-in a few as a dozen generations.But as soon as you think you have gotten the colors you want, out pops a couple of puppies or calves the "wrong" old colors.

My guess is that so long as there is ANY significant amount of protected habitat capable of supporting grizzly bears adjacent to or near grizzly range polar bears will make it.They can "lose" that white coat in a heck of a hurry.I'm willing to bet that out of a thousand cubs at least one or two carry recessive genes that cause them to have dark coats;and a single cross with a grizzly will be enough to put the pigment in hybrid cubs.

If and when the ice , and the seals, come back, the nearly extinct or "extinct " polar bear will reemerge more or less the same beautiful and impressive animal.

We really could protect enough of them that developing Arctic oil will not put them in any danger of extinction;the cost of doing so would probably be no more than a minute portion of one percent of the cost of developing potential Arctic oil fields.

Of course global warming is going to play hell with many northern species, and lead to the extinction of many that are overly specialized.

I'm no wildlife biologist, but I am an avid outdoorsman and hunter, and I have read up on bears in general.There are few if any animals so capable of adapting to shifting circumstances, and bears can move into new territory quickly.. The edge of an expanding population in this are seems to move at least ten miles or more every year.

So-as I see it -you are basically correct in your arguments.

The opposition as I see it is honest and well intentioned, but entered into the discussion with minds already made up.Further more, I will add that all of us here are in the words of the cartoon theme sing about Yogi the bear, "smarter than the average bear".

We all know how to cast arguments in terms of absolutes when there are no absolutes at issue.

The womens libbers cast abortion on demand no strings whatsoever attached as an absolute matter;so do the evangelicals opposed who see any abortion as murder pure and simple.Gun freaks cast freedom of ownership and transfer as an absolute , while many on the other side cast the possession of a firearm of any sort by any body-excepting cops maybe-as being a mortal danger to society.I understand both arguments in depth, and hold to a middle ground in both cases.

All of us here know when we frame arguments in terms of absolutes that we are exaggerating and appealing to emotions more than to reason, but of course the rules of the game prevent any body involved, except a gadfly such as myself, from pointing out this obvious truth.

But the rules do allow each side to portray the other as unreasonable, ignorant, bigoted, intellectually challenged hypocrites interested in furthering their special interests at the expense of life the universe and everything!

So I suppose I am in for serious verbal shelling followed by as assault on my pillbox with a flame thrower or two-unless maybe every body has already gone to bed.

But Irish guys enjoy a fuss or a fight just for the fun of it, and the worse the odds, the greater the glory. ;-)

Frankly, Y'all, I found the entire thread unbearable.

Seriously, though, I found points of agreement in many of the items posted. Yes, if you are near the big white bears, and their numbers appear to be growing, you ain't worried about bears as an endangered species. It is you who is endangered.

Still, the need for sea ice to support the bear's style of hunting for the rich foods they need

To the seal colonies that they want to cull, did you note the topic of the comment I replied to ;)


if everything melts we're looking at a 30 foot rise in sea levels.

DURBAN (Reuters) - Small island states may disappear under rising seas if an international agreement to tackle climate change is delayed for another decade, an official said on Monday.

It won't be a net loss however as many large island states will soon be much smaller!

UK! They will also get the climate of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. We can't lose!

More misleading information. Some scientists estimate sea levels will rise 30 feet over the next 1000 years if global temperatures continue to rise, or about a 3-foot rise per century. 1000 years is a long time for people to move to higher ground.

Global sea levels have risen about 400 feet since the end of the last ice age about 15,000 years ago, and the rise is continuing to go on.

The earliest inhabitants of Britain walked there from France, and the earliest inhabitants of Ireland walked there from Britain. The earliest inhabitants of North American walked there from Asia. Sea levels were very much lower in those days.

hey RMG

true, just pointing out that if it "all" melts, it will be +30 ft - I didn't include any time-frame. We're looking at the same data though so it's worth mentioning that 3 feet would swamp most cities along the US coast - that's 100 years, not enough time to rebuild them, especially without plenty of fuel.

and correct me if I'm mistaken, but weren't those ice bridges that were used to cross NW europe and into N. America?

No, there were no ice bridges involved. It is believed that when the first humans traveled to North American, the Bering Strait area was the Bering land bridge

The Bering land bridge was a land bridge roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) wide (north to south) at its greatest extent, which joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages.

It is believed that a small human population of at most a few thousand survived the Last Glacial Maximum in Beringia, isolated from its ancestor populations in Asia for at least 5,000 years, before expanding to populate the Americas sometime after 16,500 years ago, during the Late Glacial Maximum as the American glaciers blocking the way southward melted.

I'm not terribly concerned about a 3 foot rise in sea level because my grandparent's house in the suburbs of Vancouver was 3 feet below sea level. As long as the dykes held and the pumps kept running, it wasn't a problem. It was build on reclaimed sea bed. Holland has similar issues, but on a larger scale.

Interesting, thanks, did not know that.

About the 3 foot rise, I'm more with Jedi here. It isn't only the average, it's teh surges, and the change in climate that go along with it. Dyke's and all sorts of engineering feats are possible, however put in the context of PO and resulting economic fallout, it does seem 3 feet could spell catastrophe - and that's 3 feet per 100 years, for the next 1000 years. Civilization is going to look pretty different under those conditions. And there's temperature rise which may result in large swaths of continent which are too hot to live in. Those are conditions which should concern anyone.

Southern England has been sinking into the ocean about 1 foot per century since the Romans were there. During that time it has sunk 20 feet. This is a bit of a concern because they have had to raise the street levels in London by as much as 20 feet. You can see this in older parts of London because the original ground floors are far below street level.

At the same time, northern Scotland has been rising about 2 feet per century, which has left some of their beaches high and dry. They just have to deal with it.

The street level in Rome has been raised about 40 feet since it was founded, which means that if you dig down you can find some really interesting old buildings under the foundations of the existing buildings. This has eliminated most of the problems resulting from the fact it was founded in a swampy area.

Over long periods of time, nothing stays the same, but the changes in sea level happen so slowly that people really don't notice.

Yeah RMG, these facts are interesting, and the fact that there are constant incremental changes to our planet is undeniable, but there have also been big planetary climate events that have caused massive extinctions and die-offs. We're talking hundred million year events. We could very well be causing one of those right now. Indicators don't look good. Our best science suggests so, and we'd do well to pay attention. The problem I have with the 'things change naturally' crowd, who just want us to roll with it, is that things don't always just happen naturally. Sometimes big things happen out of nowhere - big impacts or eruptions, or tremendously successful species which upset all kinds of natural systems and balances, and ignite a feedback loop of climate change, or launch nuclear Armageddon or whatnot. Those things happen too, and it's foolish to place some firm statement about how all change is natural above a pragmatic reflection on the reality of our situation.

Rocky, your comments subscribe to the theory that there were only inhabitants in North America who walked from Asia, this has been disputed by some. Unfortunately I do not have a citation in front of me regarding this.


It's looking quite likely that the first inhabitants paddled over.

It appears that human beings first showed up in Alaska in the middle of the last age, which kind of implies they walked over the land bridge from Asia. There was no water to paddle over.

The assumption had been that they moved south after the ice age ended and the glaciers retreated, but more recent finds indicate they showed up in South American before the end of the ice age. The implication from that is that they must have worked their way around the edge of the ice sheets, most likely by paddling boats down the coast.

It looks like there might have been a first group of humans who came down the coast from Alaska by boat while there were still glaciers, and a second group which walked down the middle of the continent after the glaciers retreated.

They are still working on the details, and the research is limited by the fact that sea levels have risen 400 feet since the last ice age. The coastal routes the earliest humans might have taken are now under 400 feet of water, which makes it unlikely they will find artifacts.

RMG: Some does yes. And some say it will raise 1 meter per 2 decades by the end of this century. And if those methane leaks pick up speed (they are already going on) it is very possible it reach that forecast.

Remember that forcasts has only been upgraded over and over for the last 20 years, as we learn more. What was a nightmare worst case scenario 10 years ago, is now what we wish will happen, over the much worse items on the menue.

"He [Lawson] adds that an ''objective'' point of view would have pointed out that Antarctic sea ice had expanded over the past 30 years."
Lawson accusing others of cherry picking data does it himself. Not only is Antarctic sea ice growth barely rising out of the noise, it is also more then compensated by Arctic sea ice decline. Yes, global sea ice is declining significantly. He also conveniently forgets to mention why Antarctic sea ice is expanding in winter: cooling of the stratosphere because of human made ozone depletion and increased rainfall due to global warming which reduces surface salinity which in turn favors ice growth.

A few facts: 1. Sea Ice is declining. It even declined when the "extent" of sea ice briefly rose b/c it was thinning. Thinning is detected by NASA, using gravitational measurements. 2. Melting sea ice will not increase sea level by much - the ice is already in the water, so the only real increase would be volumetric increase from rising sea temperature, just as the overall sea levels will rise as worldwide sea temps increase. 3. If all of the ice melts (as postulated in the first post of this thread) the rise would be more than 200 meters (600 + feet)!. That puts most of the smaller buildings in NYC under water, with only those of 55 plus stories sticking up like urban islands of concrete and steel. The lower floors will make good habitat for various critters of the deep.

Best hopes for webbed feet.


This is the first timeI ever heard "200 meters". The conventionl wisdom is 80 meters. 80 meters is enough to wipe out Denmark and turn the UK into an archipalogo, and destroy every costalcity in the world, so still very bad. Where did you hear 200 meters?

80 meters is just for Greenland and W. Anarctic. Add in rest of AA, and you got some serious problems.!


Care to give a reference for that? As far as I know, melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet can raise the sea level by 7 m, whereas entire Antarctic Ice Sheet is worth 61 m of sea level, including the contribution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is worth about 5–6 m.

UK to expel all Iranian diplomats over embassy attack

The UK is to expel all Iranian diplomats following the storming of its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced.

He said he had ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London.

Tuesday's attack by hundreds of protesters followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

The sanctions led to Iran's parliament reducing diplomatic ties with the UK.

Mr Hague said he was demanding the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London, with all its staff to leave the UK within 48 hours.

If ever there was a country that is justified in acquiring nuclear weapons, it is Iran. All the hysteria about them getting them in the U.S. and elsewhere is a double standard.

The double standard re Iran's nuclear weapons program is appalling. If the U.S. were in Iran's situation it would have developed nuclear weapons long ago. That is what happened during WWII when a secret development program ended WWII with bombs dropped on Japan.

Now Iran sits surrounded by nuclear weapons and is condemned for developing their own. It is well known that Israel has nuclear weapons. So does Russia to the north. And just across one country to the east is nuclear armed Pakistan, the home of Osama bin Laden.

But does the U.S. worry about Pakistan's nuclear weapons being used in Afghanistan against Americans? No.

Iran is also facing the U.S. Navy with its nuclear weapons just offshore. In the past Iran faced Saddam's attacks from Iraq in which many Iranians died.

Now Iran sits on large oil reserves that make it the envy of its neighbors and which are coveted by oil importers.

What do they think would happen if Iran did use nuclear weapons to attack Israel?

First of all, all shipping of oil out of the gulf would cease, since a nuclear bomb dropped on Israel would only be the first of several if not many delivered to Iran in retaliation. The radiation cloud would likely drift eastward eventually reaching Afghanistan. It is not just Iran's oil which would be lost, but all oil coming out of the region affected by the fallout.

Iran would lose its main source of income and the world would be plunged into depression due to very high oil prices. This is a scenario similar to the balance of terror arguments used during the cold war.

It was the balance of terror that for 50 years more or less kept nuclear powers from using them after WWII. The U.S. has been meddling in the Middle East since the fall of the Soviet Union. It needed another excuse for expansion of its military spending and found it in oil.

Iran's nuclear arms program is merely a reaction to the threats surrounding it. Self defense is a well established justification for other countries, why not Iran?

If we can live with a nuclear armed North Korea, whose bluster is far worse than Iran's, I suspect we can live with an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

It we don't want Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, we should remove the threats that surround it. That means withdrawing the American Navy defending Mideast oil shipping lanes. It means getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan next door.

If Pakistan and North Korea can have nuclear weapons, so can Iran.

If Iran is so foolish as to use them, it will suffer the most.

Another solution for Irans security needs is to stop using hate as foreign policy.

Irans leaders could choose a way into a future withouth isolation and get economical and cultural development. They have a knack for technology, give it breathing room!

Ditto Israel. Requirement one for sane foreign policies in the region is for all parties to stop acting like two wrongs make a right. I suppose working together to address common challenges is out of the question...

I pride mysel fon not basing my view on the conflict Israel vs the rest of the word on news reporting, but actually having gone to the library, borrowed books, and studyed them. Once a guy asked me what the fight between the israelis and the palestinians was all about anyway. So I begun telling the story. I was just about to explain the run up to the 6-day war when he interupted me and said "So basicly, they are fighting over nothing?" (meaning the conflict was totally needless). I culd only say "Ehh, yes, sort of".

Spray some fairy dust that makes all hate go away over the area, and the war is over before the sun settle.

I look at an even deeper time frame. According to Finkelstein (and yes, he is a bit controversial), the earliest evidence in the archeological record of any group that might be considered to be Hebrew comes from a change in dietary practice in some of the hill tribes of Judah around 1200 BC. They had been eating pork at about the same rate as other tribes in the area, but after a new group arrived on the Gaza strip (probably from the Aegean) for whom pork made up a particularly large part of the diet (the group that was to become known as Palestinians), the hill tribes started eating much less of that form of meat, presumably to distinguish themselves from the unwelcome new comers.

So disdain for Palestinians seems to be at the very origin and core of Jewish identity going thousands of years back.

This is not likely to be a conflict that will be resolved easily.

Back in 1850, the area that is today Israelhad a population of some 10 000. This include the full set of jews, arabs and beduins. Estimate some 95% of the gene pool having arived as migrants from about the 1890ies and onwards. This aplies both to israelis and palestinians; they all migrated there lately.

The root of the conflict is as you say so old, there are hints of it already in the old testament. But I fear a part of the conflict lies in that to many people moved in to fast. They never had the time to get adjusted to their new neighbours and neighbourhood. Also remember that the area is possibly the second most overpopulted strip of land on the planet.

Another solution for Irans security needs is to stop using hate as foreign policy.

And who's the moral leader in using rational, fact based policy for governance they could look to? The United States?

So another kid is throwing dirt around? I guess it makesit alright then?

There is an enormous amount of demonization of Iran in the west, driven largely by Israel and religious fanatics here in America. If they obtain nuclear weapons it would stabilize the geopolitical situation in the region assuming all other factors remain constant. This foolish talk about regime change, at least one propelled by external forces, would end.

The bigger picture, that one that world leaders don't want to admit, but which TOD lingers over daily makes it a far different proposition. Peak oil will make markets squirrelly - an untrustworthy rollercoaster thwarting investment. The region tends to be arid and produces less grain than other parts of the world, making it a net wheat importer. Price spikes in that commodity tied to Russian fires and Paki floods in 2010 had much to do with this year's Arab spring. When the whole area is in an uproar a regional power like Iran will be disturbed, too, even if their own food supplies are secure.

I saw an excellent post a few days ago - I believe it was cryptographer Martin Hellman talking with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. His interpretation of Iran's long term plan was enlightening. He thinks they don't have any global domination view, but that they are expansionist, with an eye on creating a pan-Shiite caliphate. This would involve a tighter relationship with much of Iraq's population and with the Shiite majority in Bahrain. There's the rub - an outpost on the far side of the Persian Gulf, right next to Saudi Arabia, and they would undoubtedly ejected the United States Fifth Fleet from its home port there.

The demonization is also an effort to keep the relevant imperialist history covered up. The US and UK overthrew Mossadegh and installed the Shah, and used their admittedly sprawling "embassies" as bases for doing that. Now, we arm Israel to the teeth and refuse to even ask it why it won't sign the NNPT, all while imposing sanctions for activities Iran has the right to pursue under that treaty.

One factor now, hopefully, is that, if the US and Israel dare start this exceedingly dangerous and stupid war, OWS is likely to expand and get down to more direct business...

I was watching V for Vendetta yesterday, which is clearly the role model that a lot of the OWS movement is following in the naive attempt that if enough people sit in the street all day, their corrupt governments will implode. I then switched channels to a documentary of the wikileaks events, showing apache flight footage of unarmed journalists being shot up in a busy peaceful Iraqi street, and then a civilian van (which turn out to be full of children) was also shot up when it stopped to cart a severely injured journo off to hospital.

It made me want to plant the bombs (in the Vendetta film) myself. The US military guy who leaked the footage has been in solitary for years, and will probably never see the open air again.

I think you need to go the less violent path...something like "Operation Black Eye" where everyone lawfully blocks a security camera view for one entire day. Black Eye on Big Brother. I'm not advocating this idea...just expressing an idea.

I also think that Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are two examples among many who are showing us that what is moving out there along with and beneath OWS is not simply 'people who think they will change things by sitting in the street' ..

'...then they laugh at you'

The US should have the final say on who is allowed to have nukes - because of it's obvious moral superiority.
Now please remind me, which is the only country in human history to actually drop 2 nukes on civilians? The name seems to escape me.....


Those bombs most likely saved millions of lives. They did kill a few hundred thosands of people, but they also killed a war.

So the end justifies the means - in this case instantly wiping out thousands of civilians from existence?

Sounds more like American power trying to justify itself. I commend both Germany and Japan for becoming nations dedicated to peace. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the victors of WW2.

Not that I think humans are capable of living in peace - after all if world war cannot bring it about, nothing will.

Besides, you don't address the main point which is the hypocrisy behind America, the only nation ever to actually use a nuclear bomb, telling others that they can never have one. Again, it goes to a deep rooted belief that America is a force for good in the world, and thereby has the right to absolute control and domination over every little human that creepeth on this planet.

In the context of the savage resistance the Japanese had put up in places like Okinawa and Iwo Jima, allied planners had estimated that an invasion of Japan would result in 1,000,000 allied casualties. That's why the bombing of Japan, up to and including the two atomic bombs was a much more favoured course of action. BTW, the incendiary bombing of Japanese cities killed far more people than the two atomic bombs.

There are conflicting opinions on whether those bombings were needed to end the war short of the planned invasion. Since we can't go back in time and rerun the experiment without the bombs, we will never really know.
Apparently the Japanese had made a peace feeler, but they choose to use the Russians as an intermediary. Stalin had his own geopolitical ambitions in the region and obviously wanted the war to last long enough for the Russian army to seize control of a lot of territory, so they were not forwarded to Washington. They may well have been ready to throw in the towel as it was.

Also we have the counter argument, not only would an invasion have been expensive in terms of allied lives (and probably catastrophic for the Japanese), but Stalin would have got possesion of the northern part of Japan. So there were real reasons to try to end it in a hurry. It is also claimed the Japanese were preparing to kill all the POWs, to free up more troops for the final battle(s), and only an unexpectedly rapid end of the war stopped that from happening.

History reports that, after Hiroshima, the War Cabinet was debating to surrender or "The Glorious Death of the 100 million" when news of Nagasaki arrived. After Nagasaki, the vote was 3-3 tie and the Emperor broke the tie in favor of surrender.

What would the vote have been without Nagasaki ? And without Hiroshima ?

My father was in basic training at Paris Island while this was happening. He got to accept the surrender of the Japanese Army in China (millions of civilians slaughtered there) instead of dying on a Japanese beach.


What would the vote have been without Nagasaki ? And without Hiroshima ?

What would the vote have been if we had conceded to allow the emperor to remain as a figurehead, which was the biggest single concern of the Japanese PTB? And, ultimately thats what McArthur decided to do, after first accepting an unconditional surender. Our insistence on "unconditional surrender" may well have prolonged the war.

Unconditional surrender, the policy decided on by Churchill and Roosevelt at Casablanca was perhaps the crucial decision that has guaranteed us this long peace. It is now over 65 years and counting. This is the longest period in Human history that Great Powers have not been at each others throats. It might have caused more causalities in the long run, because the Axis powers knowing that they could not get a conditional surrender, would fight more desperately to try and save there own skins. It is only by recognizing complete and utter defeat that you understand that you have been beaten and start to revalue all your myths and values. At the end of 1945 even the most stupid German or Japanese would have realised that they were well and truly beaten. Unconditional surrender and its corollary total defeat was a reality enema for these countries. If we had taken the conditional surrender route as the Allies did in 1918, the leaders of these countries would still have been in place and the lie that we had no lost the war would have been propagated and all the stupid excuses would have reared there ugly heads again, we were stabbed in the back,the searching for scapegoats and worst of all the desire for revenge.Most likely in the late 70s of the last century we would have been at each others throats again.It might have prolonged the war but certainly prolonged the peace. When that underrated American President Truman received the news at the Potsdam conference that the Atomic bomb tests in New Mexico had been a success he also received a message through the American Embassy in Switzerland that the Japanese were willing to surrender and wanting to know the conditions. Personally I think he made the right decision, but then the buck always did stopped at his desk. Not bad for a Haberdasher

Similarly My Dad was in the Philippines. Maybe I'm biased in favor of the bombs, as I likely wouldn't be here if an invasion had happened.

Yes. The end justify the means. In this case. You have to settle this matter from case to case.

It is my belief that the death of a few hundred thousand saved the lives of a million at least. If this is correct, then the numbers alone make the case very clear.

Also remember that it was the Japanese who started the war. The Allied forces (in this case mostly americans) had to figure out a way to stop the war that saved most lives possibly among their own ranks. The US leaders had no mandte to worry about japanese lives, their only duty was to save american, australian, canadian etc lives. Reducing the japanese death toll is, since they started the war, a secondary objective. This paragraph is a secondary issue, the first paragraph is the main thing.

Hi jedi (and Alan?)

re: An alternate view.


But in his new book, “ Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan,” Tsuyoshi Hasegawa claims the bombs had little effect on a Japanese leadership squabbling over how to end the war with their honor, their monarchy, and their privileged positions intact. It was only when the Soviets, jockeying with the United States for post-war influence in Asia, declared war and invaded Japanese-held Manchuria that Japan’s leaders capitulated to prevent falling under Soviet dominance.
“The Soviet factor has been treated as a side show by traditional history,” said Hasegawa, who is fluent in Japanese, English, and Russian. He studied documents and conducted interviews in Japan, the United States, and Russia in researching this book. “I bring it to center stage. I think the Soviet presence was crucial.”

Some legitimacy to this POV. 1960s Japanese were horrified at the prospect of a North Japan and South Japan like the Koreas.

The #1 Priority for the 3rd atomic bomb was Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, the northern island. Bombing Sapporo was a clear signal that a Soviet invasion was coming. Earliest date was August 19th.

However, half the War Cabinet wanted to have another battle and inflect massive American causalities - and then negotiate for more favorable terms (no occupation, limited disarmament, keep Korea, no Allied prosecution of war criminals, etc.)

Many more Japanese (and Americans) would have died in that next battle.


Revisions crap, it was decided at Yalta that Russia would join the war with the Britain and America against the Japanese 3 months after the cease of hostilities in Europe, this was before the successful testing of the Atomic bomb, after successful test America didn't really need them, not that I think it would have made much difference as the Russian refused to renew there non- aggression treaty with Japan, they would have attacked Japan anyway what ever America or Britain said or did, as they couldn't have stopped it anyway, there was a lot of spoils and political clout to be had in Manchuria. They didn't get the first prize of having a say in the running of Japan even we Brits were frozen out but they were well pleased with what they got.

Is it possible to render an oil field unusable by using a dirty nuke of some kind ? Just asking. That may be the ultimate form of scorched earth policy.

Just dropping an ordinary nuke would wipe out all oil infrastructure for several kilometres around the epicentre.
How long would take it to rebuild from scratch.

There is no rational reason to attack Iran to try and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Any hardened installations more than ~20 meters underground are completely invulnerable to any conventional attack. To reliably destroy facilities 20 meters underground you need high yield ground burst nuclear weapons. Such weapons produce gigantic amounts of near fallout because the fission products mix with the debris and fall out nearby. In an air burst the fission products are carried high into the atmosphere by the fireball.

To reliably destroy Iran's nuclear facilities 20 meters underground with high yield ground burst nuclear weapons would produce lethal levels of fallout (lethal exposure in a couple of days to unprotected individuals) over areas of Iran where millions of civilians live.

The prevailing weather patterns would carry the fallout north, and into Russia.

Hardened facilities that are more than 200 meters underground are invulnerable to even high yield ground burst nuclear weapons. The only thing such attacks would do is dump lots of fallout on civilians and kill millions of civilians.

The only military option that would possibly work would be to invade and occupy Iran in perpetuity.

There might be a military attack on Iran. If so, I suspect that speculators in the oil markets would be driving it. Oil speculators who have bought oil futures/options would be the only ones who would benefit.

Wiseindian, I don't think there is. You would have to use a high yield ground burst, and that is only going to make a crater maybe 50 meters deep. It would fracture strata below that, but that might even improve recovery. The fallout is all from fission products, and they are going to be blown up in the fireball and end up as fallout some distance away. Essentially none of the fallout will end up in the underground oil. Maybe if the oil is shallow enough it would accumulate in the bottom of the pool and start burning, but only the oil that could flow by gravity.

I was not talking about destroying the reserves, that's kind of impossible IMO. More like render the area unsuitable for any animal life, and since we still need human beings to run an oil operation, it renders the whole thing useless for years.

I imagine you could contaminate the surface above the oil field badly enough that you couldn't get crews to work on the rigs. Even if it isn't a total nogo zone, maybe you could change the economics enough that production under whatever access constraints needed would be too costly.
Of course, it would rightly be clasified as both a war crime, and a crime against humanity, so hopefully it is unthinkable.

That would be extremely hard to do. If the oil is a mile underground, drilling from a few miles away isn't a big problem. You could bring in shielding to protect the crews while they work. 20 feet of water is all they use to shield spent fuel in the spent fuel cooling pools. It would cost more to drill, but once the well is producing, the oil would pay for it.

An alternative is just crash the Iranian electrical grid - more or less permanently. Certainly an act of war, and Iranian economy and society would crash in terrible ways. But better than the alternatives suggested.

Woof Alan! I would keep mum on that sort of idea, the American continent I think is just an accident waiting to happen and these electronic walls do have ears. Actually I would think any terrorist worth his high nitrogen fertilizer would have thought of that,eh?

Without any outside "help", Texas is going to have difficulties keeping the a/c running this summer.


What no "Sun + sand + water = bricks" in Texas?
Coolest place I stayed in Mexico was in an ancient adobe motel, this right after suffering, tragically indeed, in a modern NA style one with AC.

It is not just the material but the construction as well. Shade for the walls, shade for the roof, towers and cupolas to draw air through.Around here they tax the outline of the house on the ground plus upper floors so you end up paying for shady overhangs hence many builders don't build them any more, they should be encouraging them instead.


I got my doubts. The Hydro Meteorlogic Prediction centers 5day forcasts the last couple of months almost always show good rains in Texas. Assuming these storms actually materialized, they must be recovering from the drought.

It actually is quite easy once you have the infrastructure to launch a war. Drop a bomb whos main component is strip sof aluminium foilage over the main grid nodes. Then you get a curent spike through the network, taking out more or less everything. Repeat once a week, and they will have to strt importing batteries.

They use spools of carbon fibre.


Even better!

One could also just accept 'whatever' another Nation does as their sovereign right.

And if they are building nuclear bombs, hey MAD is a valid position - right?

John Robb over at Global Guerillas believes Israel has basically declared war on Iran and is off the leash. The US nor anybody else can rein them in, they've gone rogue and are operating without restraint:

Israel's hawks are VERY close to manufacturing a full scale war with Iran. On Monday the 28th of November, it used special operations forces (referred to below as the "Hand of God") to blow up a portion of an Iranian Nuclear facility near Isfahan (confirmed by satellite imagery). This follows on the heels of another explosion at Tehran facility that killed an Iranian general.

WAR with IRAN? It's closer than you think....

Given the events happening at the moment, including the Fed's liquidity boost today, something is certainly going on. It's possible that war is expected and soon.

So a low intensity war of covert operatives? Nothing could go wrong!

We've had an imminent Iran/Israel war for the last five years, and that's just the time I've been watching the situation. Every time the U.S. rotates an Expeditionary Strike Group into the Persian Gulf certain foolish Israeli outlets declare that was is imminent. The new group assumes the duties of the one about to rotate home, the old group leaves, and that never makes the news.

What Robb is reporting IS an escalation, and a serious one, if the reporting is correct. I don't know the news outlet cited there, and there has not been much talk about this on Terralist, which is to nuclear related foreign policy what TOD is to energy. So this is enough to sit up and take notice, but it needs confirming.

There is no way the U.S. or Israel could win a war against Iran. The Iranians are a proud, tough, advanced, and intelligent people, they are backed by Russia and China, and the Arab world might very well unite with them, in a variation of Sam Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" thesis.

Look this was always the endgame. The U.S. is "all in" when it comes to Israel and oil from the Middle East, which basically means the U.S. has a losing hand.

Sorry Americans, you sleep in the bed you made.

I must disagree.

We haven't been kicking butt in recent times except for the first few weeks of hostilities, when the gloves were off;then things have invariably gone our way with ridiculously low losses.

What we CAN'T do is OCCUPY a place like Iran or Iraq while operating within the confines of what passes for acceptable behavior in terms of how the local people are treated and win them over to our way of thinking and make friends out of them.

It is questionable whether we can even get an Iraqi govt installed which will be able to maintain control once we leave -IF we leave.

But if it were simply a question of wiping them out?

It wouldn't take a Hitler or a Stalin or a Pol Pot or any other conqueror/dictator bad guy six weeks to clear the country of everybody but a few diehard snipers if any of those guys had a fully modern full sized military capability such as we have now.

But we don't burn the crops and the barns and confiscate the livestock the way Sherman did on his march through the South anymore, or firebomb cities the way we did in Germany.

That sort of behavior won't pass muster anymore in an age with tv cameras everywhere and a press free enough to broadcast the film.

But I have it on good authority from people I know personally-guys with experience on the ground and in helicopters and jets-that if ordered to do so, it would be a matter of a single nights work for one aircraft carrier to wipe out any modern city near the sea with conventional weapons by deliberately targeting the water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure.

Of course the repercussions of doing such a thing would be incalculable.

But at this time, nobody could do anything to stop us from acting in such a fashion excepting maybe Russia and China-and niether of those countries has a large force on the ground in the area, or the capability to put one there within a meaningful time frame.

And as some semiliterate untrained southern rebel general said when asked why he was so successful(early on) at kicking Yankee butts, paraphrased: "git thar fustest with the mostest".

They would have to resort to nukes to stop us.

Very few people realize just how much the technology or war has changed and believe for instance that since it took dozens of air sorties to take out a bridge in WWII that bombing can't win a war.

But a modern bomber with a modern fighter escort , if opposed only by obsolete defensive technology , can take out a bridge with JUST ONE bomb.Considering that it might be hauling a half dozen or more....

But we are like Brer Rabbit and Tarbaby-the more Brer Rabbit messed with Tar Baby, the tighter he got entangled.

Right now we are holding a losing hand without a doubt but we can't just get up and walk away from the table.The oil would stop flowing our way immediately-perhaps forever.Our economy would collapse faster than a sand castle in a hurricane.

We can't live without it-in day to day practical terms-and yet it is costing us more than we can afford to pay in lives and treasure.Furthermore, it will be getting pretty scarce even in Saudia Arabia within a couple more generations at most, and we will FORCED to live without it anyway.

Our only real hope is that someway or another we can miraculously keep old man bau hobbling along until such a time as the renewables industries are ready to start shouldering a meaningful load and compensate for declining supplies.Otherwise it's going to get very interesting indeed.

The odds of very interesting times are very high.

The odd thing, is that there has always been a great deal of afinity between the Iranian people, and US culture, and ideals. I think thats one reason why the Iranians were so upset with us when we betrayed our ideals, knocking off Mosedegh at the request of the British. Now I think this was mostly a case of a brand new naive (Eisenhower) administration being an easy mark for the British. They had asked the previous administration, and been rounded turned down. The second time around they said Mosedegh was a commie, and we said, OK, how can we get rid of him.

There is no way the U.S. or Israel could win a war against Iran. The Iranians are a proud, tough, advanced, and intelligent people

I am in 100% agreement there. An attempt to occupy the place would be as difficult as it would be foolish.

The U.S. is "all in" when it comes to Israel and oil from the Middle East, which basically means the U.S. has a losing hand.

It seems so. I've never understood it (or at least the continuation of it decade after decade). Early on there was a certain affinity, modern people who looked a lot like us trying to make their way in a land of "towelheads". Plus, quilt over not having paid attention to the holocast until it was too late. But, nothing seems capable of dislodging this relationship. It seems we are getting more rather than less "all in". And that has meant a lack of the need for the Israelis to face up to their very difficult situation.

It doesn't have to be an "all out" war. If your goal is to destroy their nuclear program, it would be ridiculously easy. You disable their air defenses, then fly small forces to the site. At night in isolated nuclear facilities, the few guards would be no match. Without their own air support, help would take hours to arrive (or days if the roads were cratered too).

It doesn't matter how deep a site is. Men on the ground can blast it, or just seal in the openings.

Last year someone unknown removed an entire nuclear reactor under construction in Syria. The Syrians didn't even realize it happened until the next day. With all the electronic jamming, their airspace was violated without their knowledge. The reactor was airlifted to Israel. It is unknown which of us did that.

If your goal is to destroy their nuclear program, it would be ridiculously easy

The soup to nuts of a Nuclear program is commercial electrical power via boiling water all the way to "the bomb". There is no realistic way to take away the nuts without spilling the soup, is there?

If MAD is valid policy - who cares if Iran has a bomb or 2?

They are a signatory to the 'oh hey, its cool for you to have nuke power' treaty - so the 'nukes-for-electricity' program is 'valid', correct?

If a few Nation-states are not allowed to have Nuclear power for their populations while others are, does that not produce inter-national friction in a world where Man looks for a reason to attack a fellow Man?

Sure you could eleiminate some crucial parts of a program. But longer term, you've just made them really really determined to have one -and really pissed. And we don't even know if they are going for a bomb. Perhaps they just want enough material and expertease built up so it wouldn't take too long after they make a decision to go ahead. So we would just be providing huge incentive for them (and probably others) to develop the weapons.

We didn't take out Stalin's or Mao's programs before they got a bomb (sure we probably didn't know enough about the programs to do it). But, in any case both Stalin, and Mao's crazytalk was a lot more threatening than Ahmadinejad's. And we are still here more than half a century later.....

There is no way the U.S. or Israel could win a war against Iran.

You are correct, but we don't declare (or wage) "war". At least we haven't done so in a great long while. What we can do, and what has folks concerned becuase it's rather stupid, is launch a military operation other than war. It will have a cool name too, although I doubt we'll do it. What we can do with relative ease really, is achieve a strategic objective however low that bar is set -- see Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea. Although I doubt we'll try it.

Iraq and Vietnam are the best example of modern "war."
The objectives start of noble, even if fuzzy, and change on a whim or as needed.
Keep at it until folks get tired of it. Or something more interesting pops up.
Declare victory, priase the troops, roll out.

I suspect we'll visit Hugo before we take on the Persians. :-)

UK to expel all Iranian diplomats over embassy attack

He [Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague] said all UK diplomatic staff in Tehran had been evacuated and the embassy closed.

Perfect timing. The Brits are out.

And the "future viewing" over at half-passed human claim in 4 months (Feb 2012) there will be WWIII.

We've had various people who've made correct statements about X event happening in Y timeframe call an 'exchange of kinetic devices' over the years with October in each year being called.

Is this time going to be the correct call? No idea. But if it does happen - go reread your copy of Propaganda while watching Enemy Mine and ask "Is what I'm being told the truth".

Defkalion release product specification of commercial LENR device


COP 26

They certainly seem confident but the security around the actual reactor would imply protecting the inner workings is very import to them (GPS, Mobile comms, chemical lockdown on breach).

Not so sure about the 'Pleasure' sensor shown on the diagram on page 4.

From their press release today:

Today, and through our company website, Praxen - Defkalion Green Technologies Global has disclosed its current work on Nickel and Hydrogen exothermic reaction using Chemically Assisted Low Energy Nuclear Reactions.

Sounds like cold fusion to me.

Ron P.

It's basically the Rossi E-Cat we've discussed here several times. I think Rossi and Defkalion have fallen out though.

A 'falling out' is ambiguous and misleading. Both Rossi and Defkalion had discussed their relationship publicly. I've read both and would say each is driven more by the market payoff - each for themselves.

Defkalion claims to put product in the market in less than 15 days and had a presentation today .

Defkalion claims to put product in the market in less than 15 days

Well then sometime in Dec - as long as you have the money you could test that this thing does what it says it will do and Humans can get onto replicating it, improving it, etc.

Or finding out a fool and their money is soon parted.

Either way - I look forward to them actually delivering the product so it can be found valid or debunked.

All that hype reminds me of the electric heating product called "Eden Pure", which is being marketed around here. I just received a mailing offering one of these fantastic infrared heaters, which failed to mention anything about the energy used. Converting kilowatts to thermal energy, aka, hot air, is 100% efficient and a cheap $40 electric heater will provide the same BTU's of heat per kilowatt hour as the much more expensive box with the infrared elements inside. If these Defkalion units actually produce more thermal energy than supplied, it would represent a clear break thru in physics, so it will be interesting to see how these claims play out. Anybody selling CDS on their bonds yet? Have they filed for an IPO based on the expectation of massive profits (for the stock sellers, not the buyers)???

E. Swanson

Those stupid heaters have been a pet peeve of mine for years! Just shows that it's true, there's a sucker born every minute...

Heaters with blowers cause indoor allergens to stay in the air reducing indoor air quality. The infrared heater mentioned above does not have a blower so there is benefit for some allergy suffers. I think there are better ways to reduce indoor allergens but there can be some rational for purchasing an infrared heater.

Well, maybe no fan, I'm not really sure. $400-$500 for a little 1500 watt 5000 btu heater is more than a little excessive! I stand by my "suckers" statement.



Used properly, it could be that the transfer of the heat to the human user (who just to feel warm) could be much better. Shouldn't too hard to arrange either, something like a toaster with the casing removed would do the trick. Why heat the room, when some IR rays warm the contents, including people? Of course I bet in real use, the sucker is left on when people leave the room, so it reverts to being just another resistance heater.

We get a lot of dust here and use fans to keep cool. I put a strip of acrylic fibre on the inlet side which takes out a lot of that dust.


In small rooms we sometimes use oil filled heaters, which seem much better than those air type. It produces a heat that lasts a long time, and doesn't seem to move the cost per month much on utilities.

....and doesn't seem to move the cost per month much on utilities.

Perk Earl, electric resistance heating, whether heating air or oil, uses the same amount of electricity to heat a space. I am amazed when I see the ads for the "special" heaters.

True. A BTU is a BTU is a BTU.

I'm not saying it uses less energy, btu's are btu's. What I was trying to say was oil filled heaters in my opinion from experience using them, are a more efficient way of heating a room than those open toaster oven type. The oil gets hot and remains warm for a long time, vs. the toaster oven which goes cool very quickly when turned off. Try an oil filled one sometime, you'll see what I mean. 15-20 minutes on is plenty to warm a room for hours.

I have several types, including the oil filled ones, which do work quite well. They are not any more efficient, however, they just have more thermal mass. It does not matter what type of device you use, if it draws say, 1500W it will have the same effect in terms of heating a room. There is no "more efficient" way to waste 1500W of power. It could be a toaster, a stereo, a TV, a pump, whatever, if it draws the same amount of power it will have the same effect in terms of heating the room.

There are differences in how you perceive the heat however. A purely radiant heater focused directly on you will result in you perceiving more heat, so often you can get by with a lower power output and still be comfortable.

Your wrong. The difference is obvious from experiencing both.

Well, thank you for that bit of analysis!

Actually, I have oil-filled radiators too - I like them a lot. I also have a blower type which makes fake flames for the days when cabin fever overtakes me, since I don't have a wood-burning fireplace. I do have two chimneys on my house, one dormant, which I have been considering for a mixed-fuel stove.The other chimney vents the furnace. Code does not allow more than one heating appliance per chimney.

Since we are, apparently, in for a brutal winter, I need all the cheering up I can get ;)

Sounds like cold fusion to me.

And this means?

I like "Security: Self Destructing Method"

I suppose if you buy one and it doesn't work that will be because you fiddled with it (whatever you do don't stick anything important in the "pleasure sensor") ;-)

I'd suspect that "pleasure" is a typo and "pressure" is what's meant. However, why does it need a "self destruct" security system? They really don't want you to see what's inside!

Don't spoil it. I want my pleasure sensors!

Maybe an intentional typo though if someone is having a laugh.

It's where you connect the Orgasmatron.

Hmmmm, the gamma rays will be stopped by 3mm of plastic.


There are many companies around the world working on LENR (aka cold fusion). It is a real physical effect. It works by known laws of physics. The question is can it be scaled up, can it be made stable, how long does a given charge of fuel last. See for example Lattice Energy LLC of Chicago.

My guess is that it can be scaled up, it can be made stable, and the fuel can be made to last long enough to be a good source of energy. As to how long it will take to do the engineering....may take 10 years. May take 1 year.

It is a real physical effect. It works by known laws of physics.

Not true. Other than hand-waiving, there is no physical basis for cold fusion. There is no experimental evidence* that it works either (after 22 years of trying).


Some folks might be interested in IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol's comments at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting yesterday discussing the 2011 World Energy Outlook and decisions by Germany and others to move away from nuclear power

"Therefore, I think it is, of course, the governments have to listen to the voices of their people, their citizens, but also -- as Germany did. But also, it is important for the governments to think in the structural needs and interests of their countries."

Ah, I see, so there is a difference between what a country needs and what the people of that country think it needs. In other words, we support democracy, except when people disagree with what the IEA has decided is in the "structural needs and interests" of energy security. Silly voters don't know what's good for 'em. A thousand more Fukushimas for everyone!

Let's say, rather, that the people sometimes have impossible expectations.

I live in a state where it is easy to get constitutional amendments on the ballot. Over the last 20 years, voters have installed constitutional amendments that require that taxes be cut and spending in certain areas increased. When the inevitable happened -- spending in non-protected areas fell -- the response was not that the legislature had been given an unsolvable problem, but that the legislature was clearly incompetent.

I encountered the same attitude towards energy recently. Over drinks, I was encouraging a small group to lay out exactly what their "demands" were with respect to electricity. Plentiful reliable power at lower rates but don't use coal, nuclear, or big dams. When I suggested that this combination was very likely an impossibly constrained engineering problem, the response was that engineers were lazy and/or incompetent.

That's true, a lot of people don't really understand the fundamentals of the issue, and that does make it difficult to have a meaningful conversation and democratic input on a path forward. At the same time, it is equally unhelpful in having such a conversation if unaccountable technocratic agencies such as IEA effectively assert that the public's desire for cleaner energy without the long-term risks associated with fossil fuels and nuclear should be ignored because energy security concerns come first.

Perhaps it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. I still think, though, that if we are stuck between the Scylla of renewables that may fail to keep the lights on and Charybdis of fossil/nuclear energy that creates major externalized costs, the public ought to have a voice in choosing which they see as the greater risk. At what point do democratic principles end and the need to be "realistic" begin? I don't feel like our leaders have any better sense than the public about these issues anyway; for example, Senator John Thune of South Dakota just today asserted that the United States is a net exporter of energy. I kid you not. So at some point maybe we just ought to stop putting faith in institutions, democratic or otherwise, to effectively address problems they don't understand.

Also maybe worth remembering, if you go with Scylla, you'll probably lose some sailors, it's true, but with Charybdis you're guaranteed to lose every sailor, plus the ship itself...

Do the humans that will be dealing with the consequences seven generations from now get a vote? How will they feel about their great-great-great-great-great-grandparents?

No they don't get a vote, because they won't exist.
At least not on current trends:


Rees would count as a "cornucopian" by TOD standards, but he still predicts only 50% chance of surviving the century.

the response was that engineers were lazy and/or incompetent.

Just haul some of these lazy engineers off to be shot. That ought to concentrate the minds of the rest to do whats asked of them.

Oh, please; democracy schmemocracy. Joe Voter can't even figure out getting his noon bus underway when the big hand and the little hand are both on the twelve - and yet, somehow, in his role as a "democratic" voter he's going to create an energy system which meets his strident, contradictory demands?? Unlimited reliable electricity for the giant house, unlimited reliable gasoline for the SUV and the boat, and so on ad infinitum, conjured up from fairy dust with no "polluting" power plants, no inviting of thunderbolts from Zeus by pretending to be gods by building scary nukes, no "unsightly" wind turbines or solar panels, no hydro dams to inconvenience a few inconsequential fish, no mines, no oil wells, no nothing?? And lest we forget, this magic electricity, gasoline, and so on must cost virtually nothing, since Joe's true earning capacity is nigh unto zero - only a tiny minority have any use for his tardy, shoddy services with that bus, even when (as usual) the taxpayer picks up nearly all of the tab.

OK, but compared to what? A benevolent dictator? I am suggesting there is no way we will arrive at a satisfactory resolution to our myriad energy dilemmas if only a narrow set of interests is represented in the decision-making process, namely those vested in the status quo (what public officials mean when they use language of "energy security" -- continuation of BAU).

So again: If governments are supposed to ignore democratic will in favor of "structural needs," who makes the decision which is which, and on what basis? It sounds to me an awful lot like a rigged game to protect BAU interests. It also sounds like game over.

Compared to what? Well, what we really get in this world is anacyclosis, although IMO the description at the link is vastly overintellectualized. The mob hasn't really got the intellectual goods for true self-rule (or "deep democracy"), and it's hard to find a continual supply of dictators or kings (queens) good enough (in the moral sense) to rule over them benevolently. So there's no stable answer and one gets an oscillation, or is it a vacillation, back and forth, each time the mob or the dictator wrecks things. And, no use kidding ourselves, if the mob ever really gets ahold of this energy stuff, they'll be needing a dictator in a giant hurry to sort things out, because they can't possibly ever have what they want, which seems to be a universe on a silver platter in exchange for nothing, even under the most optimistic credible BAU scenario.

Well, this is getting into a whole separate discussion about whether what we have is really democracy or not. I would argue we don't have very democratic governance right now, that most important decisions about the global economy are made by the big players with little to no democratic input, and that even to the degree democratic will is expressed through national governments, the sovereign nation-state is no longer the principal decision-making entity in the global political economy. But I take that as a distinct question from whether democratic systems are actually able to make decisions effectively. In general, there doesn't seem to be much evidence for autocracy resulting in better outcomes, at least not for the vast majority of people. I'm not sure why energy would be different in this regard from any other issue. Empirically, dictators take care of themselves and theirs, and that's about it.

I think you're also overstating the case for total public disregard for and ignorance of limits when it comes to energy and consumption. I think most people are more aware of these things than you are giving credit for. Not to say that most people are really energy-literate or even close to it, but I think if people had a real say, you could at least start having that conversation, people would feel more accountable for educating themselves and for the decisions they end up making. I don't find "democracy can't sustain BAU" to be a very compelling argument in favor of letting some dictator run roughshod over people's wishes. Remember too that democracy itself is something that only exists as an ideal -- there is no decision system able to perfectly reflect the wishes of people in the sense that we use the word "democracy," only better and worse systems. Dictatorship is easily the worst possible option from the standpoint of Pareto optimality.

Part of the benefit of democratic participation is actors within democratic institutions become more informed through that participation. Today Joe Voter knows next to nothing about energy technology, but he intimately knows the results of energy policy on his life. His first contributions to the process will be naive and ill-informed, but like every other intelligent agent, as his knowledge increases on the subject, his demands and the solutions he offers will rapidly become more in line with reality.

Part of the strength and resiliency of democratic systems is their ability to integrate and activate the imaginative capacity of their participants. Today, Joe Voter is a renter in his governing (and economic) system. He has no meaningful access to the governing process and in large measure has governance forced upon him. Any solutions being discussed come from a tiny pool of oligarchs all with essentially the same intellectual background. In this system, it doesn't pay for Joe Voter to be familiar with what is going on behind the scenes because he is incapable of contributing in the current system. If you take Joe Voter and place him in a participative system with other engaged actors he will in a very short time be contributing in kind.

OWS evidences precisely this methodology. We are seeing hundreds of thousands of people constructively discuss societal changes who until 9 weeks ago were largely unaware of the system within which they operated. Talk to an Occupier about Peak Oil and you'll find a willing conversational partner. Talk to him about corporate personhood and the Citizens United ruling and you'll realize you're talking to a fresh constitutional scholar. What's amazing is that he wasn't a scholar 10 weeks ago, he has been engaged in information acquisition and that has changed both his outlook and expectations of the system.

Democracy is not just an aesthetically pleasing method of governing. We do not promote democracy purely for its contribution to our moral precept of the value of freedom. That's a cultural construct. If we operated within a fascist state (I think we do) we would make the same types of argument for the solidarity enhancing qualities of fascist systems. Rather, democracy is a systemically superior method of resource allocation. Its resilience lies in an enormous solution space and the ability to rapidly incorporate new ideas and methodologies.

This is all so unnecessary. We don't need to argue over the "right" form of gov. Nor over whether Joe voter has the smarts to participate.

All we have to do is make democracy and capitalism honest. By that I mean remove the subsidies and rules that favor certain energy technologies, and pushes others aside. Market pricing would give Joe voter all the information he needs to make good decisions. Since our form of capitalism is so bastardized by cronyism, pricing is too distorted to work.

All we have to do is make democracy and capitalism honest.

Great! You have a solution to Man lying to his fellow Man - this I gotta hear.

By that I mean remove the subsidies and rules that favor certain energy technologies, and pushes others aside.

So Man can still lie to other Men and the market is "buyer beware"?

Hey, Upton Sinclair is on the phone and wants to talk to you about buying some meat.

Folks, the money printing has started in earnest. Thanks to the central banks, cash is trash and bonds are certificates of confiscation.

Dow up 400 points.

Yes. So is oil, gold, et al. This is what I have been saying for years: Either invest in hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets or perish in the fire of high inflation. If real inflation gets to 18%, the value of your money will be cut in half every 4 years. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as Weimar, with people pushing wheelbarrows full of cash. 18% sustained inflation is good enough to impoverish the bulk of the population in a decade. This is how resource consumption will be brought in line with resource production.

I suspect things will go bang long before that.

I suspect things will go bang long before that.

There may be some significant progress in that direction.

Scientists in the Netherlands have produced a variant of avian influenza which has the potential to produce the die-off needed to bring human population down to the earth's carrying capacity within a few years.

great! where can i get mine?

Good luck converting your paper assets into physical assets. Also keep in mind that if the global economy goes kaput, your gold will be worthless, except maybe as roofing material. Gotta use something to keep the rain out, I guess.

If the global economy goes kaput, other than the stored food in your house everything is worthless. But what if the global economy does not go kaput, but we simply transition to an environment of high inflation, high unemployment and slow growth? In that type of environment I would rather hold on to hard assets as opposed to paper currency which can be printed at will.

If unemployment is high and growth is slow, high inflation is unlikely because demand will be too low to push up prices. Unemployment and low growth put deflationary, not inflationary pressure on the economy. Inflation could still be driven by depletion of resources under such a scenario, but recessionary pressure would likely take the edge off any kind of "hyperinflation" that might be envisioned.

In any event, I'm quite skeptical that anyone would really be helped very much by stockpiling physical assets anyway because it won't really insulate from the broader economic pressures towards contraction, especially under a collapse or near-collapse scenario. For one thing, a large stockpile of physical assets is an easy target for theft. You're still going to have trouble converting paper gold into real gold or other such transactions under such a scenario because presumably there would be a run on gold or whatever anyway, and paper gold would be just as worthless as any other paper. I think it takes something approaching a total collapse to make stockpiling really worthwhile, and under a near-total or total collapse, everyone is going to be equally screwed anyway. Which is why I still seem to be one of the few folks around here who think we ought to spend less effort thinking about how to prepare as individuals for an inevitable collapse and more effort figuring out how to make the correct decisions collectively to avert a collapse, and then making those decisions. Too many unforeseeable cascade effects are possible that would foreclose the effective use of those physical assets.

Who knows, I could be wrong about that. But if I am, it's not likely to matter much in the end.

...we ought to spend less effort thinking about how to prepare as individuals for an inevitable collapse and more effort figuring out how to make the correct decisions collectively to avert a collapse, and then making those decisions.

WastedEnergy, I agree, I prefer to work to avoid a collapse.

I refuse to be a sap. I'm going to go down fighting, not singing kumbaya.

It's survivalism and gold for me.

Unfortunately, given the existential threats facing the biosphere of the planet, you may find that survivalism and gold offer no meaningful guarantee of success post-BAU. I'll offer three of the more pernicious outcomes from threats facing humanity right now, and you let me know how well survivalism as an individual will work:

1. Nuclear Annihilation through All Out ThermoNuclear Warfare: For whatever reason, the powers that be are not forced to give up the reins. Resource extraction is ramped up and society does not reduce it's consumptive tendencies. Resource scarcities threaten supply chains. National entities stake claim to various resource rich areas of the world. Increased domestic pressure forces nuclear states to compete in limited arenas. Less well positioned players resort to nuclear blackmail for access to resources. As resource supply chains break down existent government falter and fail. Replacement governments institute nuclear aggression in the hopes of repositioning themselves on the resource totem pole. Enough nuclear ordinance to sterilize the planet is released. Cockroaches, crickets and rats do ok.

2. Ecological Failure through Massive Infrastructure Neglect: National entities collapse with a whimper. Corporations starved of energy and capital resources die-off. Humanity is left isolated to smaller organizational units, first states, then municipalities, finally tribal organizations become the majority social unit on the planet. Infrastructure begins to degrade, roads break supply chain to heavily infrastructure dependent nuclear power plants. In less than a generation, the knowledge and industrial capacity to decommission nuclear reactors is no more. Successive reactor failures eject plumes of radioisotopes and poison groundwater resources. Whole aquifers are rendered unusable. The life quality on the planet is immediately degraded. Cancer is the most common form of death. Children are born misshapen and sickly. The surviving flora and fauna show remarkable resiliency. Cockroaches, crickets and rats do great.

3. Mass Migrations, Starvation, and Plague Owing to Runaway Climate Change: The worst predictions of the IPCC are surpassed. Rampant positive feedback loops release methane hydrates from permafrost and arctic oceans. Deglaciation proceeds at a nearly unimaginable rate. Sea levels rise 2m before 2035, displacing billions of coastal dwelling inhabitants, and inundating arable land with brackish water. The impromptu climate refugee camps are densely crowded, lack basic sanitation facilities, and are devastatingly poor. Within the first major flu season, an influenza strain appears with a 90% mortality rate. Whole camps are depopulated. Control measures are ineffective as stampedes of panicked plague-bearers overcome guards in camp after camp. The deadly outbreak is communicated throughout the countryside. Population centers are ravaged, killed off in short order. Hampered by extensive domestic emergencies, governments are unable to respond in a coordinated manner. The wealthy and the poor alike are felled. The survivors awaken to a world shrouded in deathly silence. The psychic toll of experiencing the deaths of most of the people they knew has an oddly calming influence on the remaining population. Cockroaches do ok. Whoever is left picks up the pieces and tries to cobble together a life amongst the ruins.

The third situation is pretty amenable to individual survivalism, provided you're remote enough and aren't relying on a stable climate situation to provide water for irrigation and drinking. Now I don't in any measure assume that these are the definite paths we will go down as a species, but I think they're plausible. And what's more, there are many more scenarios wherein a declining global industrial economy takes the whole planet down with it. So how are you going to fight against that? It seems the only meaningful fight left is in collective action. Its in taking the skills and knowledge of survival techniques and distributing them amongst the kumbaya singing saps. A survivalist is a high per capita producer (he can be, provided he isn't just relying on guns and MREs to "survive") If you can convince enough people too be equally productive you've managed to avert most of the problems that are leading to our demise.

I have no problem with collective or social responses to collapse. My point is that I don't believe that anything can actually change collapse, thereby, I refuse to work towards that end.

So yes, the more that individuals, small groups and localities can do for themselves, the better. But I don't presume that it will change the course of geopolitical events, in fact it very well might hasten them, sort of like the paradox of thrift.

If more people walk, ride bicycles, and take transit, for example, this could decimate the auto industry and lead to massive job losses. Of course, there would be gains in other areas, but not nearly enough to offset the losses in the more complex areas of the economy.

The rise of the auto industry led to the collapse of the global horse population and the industries supporting it. I'm sure there will be plenty of jobs in building out the needed infrastructure to avoid peak-oil collapse to offset the effect of a dying auto industry on net, and we aren't even looking at a total collapse of that sector -- I'm sure there will be a role for those auto companies willing to retool to build streetcars, electric vehicles, transit equipment or otherwise satisfy the need for heavy industrial manufacturing, which is not going to disappear overnight, especially if we take meaningful action towards a major infrastructure buildout. Too bad the current political climate is one of paralysis...well, you know how to change that, right?

Anyway, of course it's impossible to win the fight, since everyone who learns the truth about the coming energy crash decides it's time to retrench and stock up on gold and firearms since collapse is inevitable. Surrender guarantees defeat, no question about it. On the other hand, if everyone who learned the truth instead decided to tell 10 people to tell 10 people...well, we might stand some shot of making it out alive.

"We have nothing to fear but our our own fear to act." - What FDR might say if he were alive today

There are more horses in the UK today than there were in pre-industrial times.

They are pets.

Horse population reached its peak towards the end of the steam age, when they were replaced for road haulage by the internal combustion engine. It was only on the back of industrial agriculture (crop rotation, steam engine powered ploughing etc. ) that it was possible to grow enough food to feed so many animals.

Horse population is now falling, as we going into post-industrial depression.

Gold and 'survivalism' won't protect one from radiation from nuclear things, being downrange of .50 cal full metal jackets, and the biosphere being destroyed.

You don't think that's maybe a false equivalence between policymaking, i.e. effectively pricing externalities, investing in electrified transportation and renewable energy, and "singing kumbaya?" I think the Kumbaya view is that anything beyond the barest, most miserable form of survival (if that) is achievable through hoarding and retrenchment. But we're all entitled to our own opinions, I guess...

"If unemployment is high and growth is slow, high inflation is unlikely because demand will be too low to push up prices."

Ever heard of the 70s, and did you sleep through the last 3 years?

At risk of responding to a troll, I'll point out that in fact, the last three years saw collapsing demand put downward pressure on prices. Did you sleep through 2008-2009? Anyway, I said hyperinflation was unlikely, not impossible.

My premise is that the deflationists are underestimating the accelerant effect that constrained Global Net Exports of oil and constrained Available Net Exports are having on the system, pushing various countries faster along the path to the point where they are cut off from global credit markets, leaving central banks as the "lender" of last resort. I compared it to an aerial tanker dropping napalm on a fire, instead of fire retardant.

I have repeatedly ever since I first visited here insisted that when things get really bad, the last practical stop gap measure that can be taken is for govts all and sundry to print money once they can't borrow it or collect it in taxes.

Those who believe in the deflationary monster have a good point, up to a point-but no govt is going to allow deflation to destroy it when it has the power to destroy inflation by printing money as fast as necessary, and forcing creditors and businesses to accept it.

Of course this strategy can only be expected to put off the day of reckoning, although there is a slim chance that such deliberate inflation can be controlled to such an extent that both outright price collapse and runaway price increases are avoided for some time.

Under more "normal" conditions, it might be possible for the economy to eventually recover to a fair state of health under a deliberately controlled inflation scenario.

But in the present case, it is far more likely that the economy is going down for the long haul.

I have been putting every possible spare dollar into hard durable stuff and expect to continue to do so.So far i could have done better only by investing in gold.

But if things really go to hxxx in a hand basket,I believe the purchasing power I have stashed in ammo, fertilizer, nuts and bolts, roofing shingles,rope, spare tractor parts, etc, will be preserved as well or better.

You can't eat gold, but you can, if absolutely necessary, eat just about anything that can move on it's own, from the neighbors pit bull to a skunk.

And a sackful of gold coins will not save your last sack of beans from a robber-but a shotgun will, if you are able and willing to use it.

It might even turn out to be useful in robbing robbers themselves.

Pretty sound advice anyone here can get behind, inflationist and deflationist alike. Invest in the tools & skills you need to become more self sufficient and less dependent on government institutions, private industry and the grid. Develop a broad variety of useful skills and invest in systems that pertain to basic needs (farming, carpentry, off-the-grid energy, producing furniture, textiles, etc.).

I agree on the skills part (especially skills that are useful now, not just in the imagined future). Not necessarily the tools.

I am not collecting tools or other supplies. Why? Because you can't take it with you. No, I don't mean the afterlife. I mean if you have to relocate - to take care of a family member, to get a new job, or because your home has been destroyed by fire, flood, or tornado. I'm more convinced of that than ever after what Irene did to the northeast. If that happens to you, or if you have to move suddenly, you're much better off in cash than canned goods.

I say diversify your portfolio..

A few stashes, a few caches, and a bit of cash.

Yes-We keep some cash.

And there is a practical limit to how much stuff you can hoard or store.

We also have a very small stash of precious metals, well hidden.

The stash strategy works well for folks like us because we have very deep roots and expect to be here for the duration.I can't see any reason to think that any other part of the country, or the world, for that matter, offers any better long term prospects for stability and safety, excepting for one thing;we get our juice from coal fired plants.

Otoh, we have clean secure water supplies, being at the head of a watershed, and the climate is just right-adequate rain,long growing season,lots of microclimates that allow us to produce a huge variety of fruits and veggies and any kind of grain , just enough cold weather to prevent most problems with transmissible diseases such as malaria.We have decent soil most places and excellent soil in some spots, we have plenty of timber and native stone, and we have a reasonably well diversified local economy.

We even have a river or two that if push comes to shove might be dammed and used to produce a modest regional supply of electricity, and a potential wind resource.

But perhaps the thing that will help us the most is that most of us around here are locals from way back with strong community ties, and a strong work ethic. Life has never been easy here, compared to most places in the US.

People here will hang together better than they will in most other places.The macho Scots Irish southern hillbilly culture is alive and well, and considered in the context of a possible collapse, this gives me a great sense of comfort.

The sort of violence that plagues a lot of cities these days simply will not be tolerated.Just about ANY of my neighbors, being mostly serious evangelicals, will give somebody in real need "the shirt off their back". But on the other hand, about half of them are into Old Testament sort of morality in a serious way, and ready to resort to violence at the drop of a hat if somebody threatens them or their families or their property.

Such people tend to hold the ownership of the family farm or homeplace sacred.

My great uncle "Eesh" built a very nice house next door( about a thousand feet away ) to ours on his homeplace, which went to his eldest son at his death.

Now this cousin of mine is not "hard up" but neither is he well off.

That house has been sitting vacant for ten years now;he won't sell it, and he won't rent it, although he has let a couple of old friends stay in it for short periods of time when they had problems.

This is a typical attitude in respect to home and property here.

"We ain't moving for nobody."

I know I will be here for the duration, so I can justify hoarding durables that I am sure to need at some point.

A ton of fertilizer or a keg of nails or a spare well pump or a roll of welded wire fencing are not really very good targets for thieves.

Such things are hard to move and hard to fence.

But all these things will without a doubt be needed, and all of them are energy intensive-meaning the prices of these items are rising, and likely to continue rising fast enough that I am probably better off owning them than a treasury bond or a stock.

The only real drawback to such a materials oriented savings system is a lack of liquidity.

The stash strategy works well for folks like us because we have very deep roots and expect to be here for the duration.

That, IMO, is the key. As JMG has pointed out, preparing for peak oil is usually just an excuse to do what you wanted to do anyway. I would guess people like you and Todd would be living where you are, as you are, even if you knew for certain that BAU would continue for another thousand years. Similarly, people like Stuart, who find rural life dull and farming tedious, would remain in San Francisco, peak oil or no peak oil.

The only point where I really disagree with you is climate. I think the climate is changing, and there's a possibility that "just right" now might be too hot or too wet or too dry in the not too distant future. Some of the places flooded by Irene had not seen floods in a hundred years or more.

Scientists actually are worried about malaria spreading north with the changing climate. But then, malaria used to be a problem in the US, even when the climate was cooler than it is now. It was endemic across the US southeast. The TVA played a big role in eradicating it. They removed mosquito breeding grounds. DDT was also a factor. Millions of rural homes were sprayed, inside and out.

On the bright side, they are also predicting that malaria-prone areas now might not be in the future, as they grow too hot for malaria mosquitoes. :-/

While I think inflationists are overestimating the power of the central banks. They're facing a Cat. 5 hurricane with an electric fan. Even a really big electric fan isn't going to fix this mess.

But the deflationists' point is that inflation/hyperinflation can't occur until countries are cut off from foreign credit markets. Greece is already there (in the sense that they can't afford to borrow in the open market), with Italy getting very close, and with many other countries, including the US, not too far behind them.

Given political paralysis in so many countries that are running deficits, I suspect that most of them won't curtail their borrowing until they are unable to borrow money at affordable rates, which puts the countries at precisely the point at which the deflationists are predicting Central Bank inflation/hyperinflation.

But the deflationists' point is that inflation/hyperinflation can't occur until countries are cut off from foreign credit markets.

I don't think that's true at all.

I'd say many believe the opposite.

I think that inflation/hyperinflation cannot happen until the money being held in the banks is lent - in other words, not just access to foreign credit but to any credit is needed to activitate the "multiplier" in currency implicit in the fractional banking system.

Now, we hear (just did on NPR) that "the World's banks' have decided to prop up the stock markets. Not economies, but stock markets, so - - - good news for the Dow, NASDQ, and S&P 500, not so much for the working stiff.

Isn't the natural consequence of such actions inflation in just the stock markets? My prediction: Big stock market bubble, followed by a real hard crash in about 15 months. Commodities, including oil, will get caught up in the bubble... maybe we see $170 oil in a year? Maybe $200/bbl??? I have no confidence in predicting these results, but the stock market bubble is already under weigh.


I do think the "velocity" of money is important, not just the amount.

the Fed and others are not so sure that the concept of velocity even really exists except as an accounting entity.


and here is a good, readable summary:


Let's just say I think the fed has a rather blinkered view.

You are asserting that the prevailing opinion in the deflationist camp is that inflation/hyperinflation can occur (via out of control Central Bank monetization*) while countries can borrow money from foreign creditors, but once countries are cut off from foreign credit markets, inflation/hyperinflation can't occur?

*Of course, it's a question of degree. Some would argue that monetization is already out of control. But the question is, what happens when countries, like Greece and now Italy, can't afford to borrow money in the open market?

I don't know about the "prevailing" opinion. There's a great deal of diversity.

But Krugman is still worried about a liquidity trap, global markets and all.

And if global markets collapse, we'll have a lot of other problems on our hands, but we'll no longer have to worry about consumption in China driving up prices in Peoria.

Let's suppose I owe you a hundred grand on a second mortgage and Uncle Sam decides that everybody in the Us will get a gauranteed minimum income of ten thousand dollars simply by printing EVERYBODY a welfare check.If I still have a job, maybe my check will only be for five thousand on a sliding "make work pay " plan.

You will find , one, that any judge will insist that my welfare money is good for face value every month against that debt, and two, that you better spend the payments as fast as you possibly can, because prices of all real goods that must be replaced on a regular basis will be going up steadily, and fast.

Of course any money invested in fixed interest bonds, etc, or left in savings accounts, or stored under mattresses, will melt away.

And any money invested in corporate stocks or paper may melt away just as fast,or faster, depending on what line line of business the company is in.

We must not forget that the federal reserve and the people who run it, are not, in the end, in control of monetary and/or fiscal policy.

Congress will take over when tshtf, and all the old rules and assumptions will go out the window.

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

Human nature in the aggregate never changes.

Any year now.....

Let's suppose I owe you a hundred grand on a second mortgage and Uncle Sam decides that everybody in the Us will get a gauranteed minimum income of ten thousand dollars simply by printing EVERYBODY a welfare check.

Even if they did that...it wouldn't make up for the money that has vanished in the downturn. That is, many people have lost more than $10,000 via losing their jobs or the drop in value in their homes, stocks, etc.

As Japan found out, you can print money, and you can force people to accept it as repayment for debt, but you can't make them spend it or borrow it.


Isn't the problem in R/E that folks see the home value drop, but the mortgage doesn't. Someone who has spent ten years paying down $200,000 mortgage to $150,000 sees his house value drop to $125,000. Net result: She is now under water on her mortgage, her pay has dropped and she no longer is paid enough to make her house payment... ?

I still doubt that the debt work out has come close to ending, and as wages drop home values must drop as well. Bad news for borrowers.

In the case of inflation or hyperinflation, R/e values rise, and smart homeowners pay off their mortgages with cheap money. Bad news for investors.

For those on fixed income, where most have followed the usually good advice to keep most of their asssets in income property, the value of their bonds (interest bearing loans) drops. Unless they have enough to keep most in equities that rise with inflation (but pay disappointingly low dividends), their situation worsens constantly during the times of inflation, becoming dramatically worse during hyperinflation.

Back when there were national currencies in the EC, we saw Lire, Francs, etc., devalued and reissued from time to time. Sort of a reset, and resulting in a virtual jubilee every so often. Good for the grasshoppers, not for the ants.

And, overall, the lack of a way to return to BAU vis-a-vis constant growth spells bad news for all.


Even if they did that...it wouldn't make up for the money that has vanished in the downturn.

So what? As long as consumption of natural resources and velocity of money stays fairly high the price of essential commodities will continue to increase. The only thing that can change it is:
1. If there is a sudden drop in population
2. If there is a significant increase in the production of commodities (that would negate the peak resource argument)

Look how quickly after the shock of 2008-2009, the commodity prices have bounced back. The net worth of most people is significantly lower today but the average annual price of oil is higher than 2008. The OECD countries are in a depression but the price of oil is above $100/barrel.

Or 3) If consumption drops as the economy slows.

If you were suddenly given $10,000, what would you do with it? You would buy gold, I gather. OFM would run out to spend it before it inflated to nothing. Some people would have no choice but to spend it, for food, shelter, and clothing.

But a lot of people would use it to pay off debt. Others would sock it away. For a rainy day, for their children's education, for their retirement. That's what happened in Japan.

Yeah-The Japanese are fooling themselves very badly indeed.

Holding any sort of paper money, or property other than the kind that will be useful in a declining economy is equivalent to loaning your old age money out to a prodigal son with a taste for wine, women, song, and cocaine.

Just WHO do they expect to take all those PIECES OF PAPER AND ELECTRONS at anywhere near face value in a world where the production of ESSENTIAL goods is more constrained year after year by resource shortages?

WHAT is an office complex /shopping center/ residential tower going to be worth to ANYBODY when the non essential businesses conducted in such places vanishes along with declining discretionary incomes?

What is a house or apartment in Japan going to be worth when one, Japanese industrial/commercial prowess is negated by the inevitable growth of other exporting countries with comparable work forces and technologies but lower wages?When two, the Japanese population is fixing to start declining? When three, there are no export markets of any consequence to ship to due to protectionism and/or nobody left able to PAY for imports, excepting maybe the folks in sand n'oil country and maybe the Canadians?

More paper simply isn't going to be acceptable; the Japanese are going to have to be paid in oil, grain, meat, fruit, vegetables, metal ores, coal, and any number of other concrete rather than abstract items.

The Japanese are setting themselves up big time to be wiped out - oh the irony of it- by the one/two their own highly praiseworthy habits of frugality and saving for a rainy day combined with an unfounded faith in a stable future environment underpinned by steady growth-which is the only environment in which abstractions such as "savings" based on paper and electrons can truly be expected to retain any value.

Now I do hoard stuff-but I also invest.I have for instance built a solar domestic hot water system almost from scratch which will substantially lower my utility bills for the duration-I have reasonable hopes that it will earn the equivalent of twenty five percent annually tax free from here on out.

We own a woodlot that will provide us with all the firewood we can use,in perpetuity, and enough to sell or trade to pay the property tax on that woodlot.

I expect the price of kerosene-which we use to run two very efficient computerized small furnaces- to double again within the next few years.We have already cut our usage from five hundred gallons or more annually to about fifty to a hundred gallons annually, and we can cut it further-to zero if necessary.

In practical terms, the value of firewood will increase just as fast as the price of energy overall, so I cannot think of a better investment.

We aren't going far out of our way to be self sufficient-we have hens running around but we buy nearly all our eggs as our time is more valuable than eggs-for now at least.

We grow a couple of bushel of potatoes, etc, to please my elderly dad, but for now I just by most of the potatoes we use from a neighbor as that is a far better use of my time.

But if it becomes necessary-we can and will produce almost everything we need, excepting things that simply won't grow here, such as coffee and sugar, and a few essential manufactured goods..

We did it for a century, and continued to do it until recently, when we gray haired and stiff youngsters were finally able to convince the old folks to quit it, or they got too decrepit to continue doing it, or died.

We will go back to it anyway as soon as we are finished for good working away from home, as doing it is a very pleasant way to live, if you have the knowledge and resources. We will look at gardening more as a paying hobby than as a necessity.

In short, we own and operate the production facilities that will produce the things we will need to live-food energy, shelter, and clean water-as we see this as a better investment in terms of effective long term profits and security than stocks and bonds.

We could care less what this little farm would sell for because it simply isn't for sale at any price- at least not until a generation of grandchildren who might not want to live on it come into possession of it.

Our back yard is as pleasant as most resorts, and more private, but our front yard nowadays unfortunately looks out on mountains spoiled in recent times by vacation houses sprouting like mushrooms.

We won't borrow money against it, and the ownership is arranged in such a way that any potential creditor would find it worth very little indeed in a court of law.

I am convinced that I am better of with what I have here than I would be with a quarter million dollar paper portfolio, even though my share would not sell for anywhere near that much.

...and two, that you better spend the payments as fast as you possibly can, because prices of all real goods that must be replaced on a regular basis will be going up steadily, and fast.

Note that the economic theory that predicts this has some assumptions, at least two of which are not currently satisfied. First, you have to be close to full employment; and second, you have to be close to full capacity on the other means of production. As the Japanese have found over the last 20 years, if unemployment is high and there's idle productive capacity, it's damned hard to get any sort of inflation going.

I don't think full employment OR full utilization of capacity are necessary conditions for inflation to floursish, although there may be a strong correlation between the two.

Our industry-growing apples-has been shrinking for some time now, and we have ourselves cut down half a very good orchard in its prime for lack of customers willing to pay enough for us to maintain it; and we are VERY LOW COST producers. we own the land outright, taxes here are low, our machinery was paid for years ago, and we do everything ourselves, except part of the harvest.

But we are getting twice as much, in terms of nominal money, for our apples as we got a few years ago.In essence, our costs, excepting our own time invested, are the costs of our inputs-pesticides, fuel, fertilizer, containers, shipping have doubled in this same time frame. The doubling of our break even sales price is no accident.

Now in the early stages of a crash, it would probably be the case that a large business would be able to cut its selling prices by cutting labor costs and deferring maintainence, etc, for some time.

But at some point, the question of whether to continue becomes one of maximizing operating revenues or cash flow(I may be using the wrong terminology here) or at least minimizing losses.

If you own for instance an apartment building or a restaurant, you can obviously run either a profit or a loss; but what is not so obvious is that sometimes it is better to run at a loss than to simply shut down. You might lose a thousand dollars a month by staying open, and two thousand by closing.So you stay open as long as possible.

At some point, the value of the buildings themselves approach zero due to poor business conditions;but it can still be profitable , in a practical sense, to remain open for business if the buildings can generate some spendable income.

Our orchards still generate some spendable income even though they are essentially worthless from a businessman's point of view;we are not making any return on our invested capital.We are earning a pittance on our labor and management.You might as well take what ever you can get as to get nothing.

When the prices of fertilizer, fuel, pesticides, taxes, containers, etc, double again, we will again get twice as much for our apples-because the industry will shrink until revenues from rising prices are at least equal to variable and fixed input costs such as property taxes.

I assure you that we orchardists are not operating at capacity nor are we fully employed.Nevertheless the prices we are getting are rising noticeably from year to year.

Thanks for the insights, OFM.

Are there any orchardists that you know of that have managed to cut this gordian knot? Perhaps they have figured out a lower-cost scheme for pest management or a way to increase fertility in a lower-cost way?

How large a portion does labor cost eat up? Are you close enough to a major population center to have a 'pick your own' operation?

(I'm sure you've pondered all these and many more--so I'm not presuming to offer advise as much to pick your brain about how folks are strategizing these early stages of collapse.)

hi Dohboi,

There aren't really any good opportunities to cut cost that you can keep to yourself on a farm, as everything you do is right out in the open, and most of what you do is required to be reported to the state.

The various state ag extension services are a muddle of bureaucrats, but they are are quite effective at keeping anyone interested in what happens on commercial farms well informed.

Pick your own is a legal minefield that is almost impossible to cross safely when you grow tree fruits, but somehow a couple of neighbors have made it work.As best I can tell, their property is leased to family members with no hard assets in such a way that a person who wishes to sue is in the position of someone who sues a restaurant operated in a rented building;the landlord is generally not at risk in such a situation.So if you sue the guy who actually runs the pick your own and win, you still won't collect much if anything.I's tricky, but it has worked so far, for a few people. Others have lost their assets to lawsuits both legit and otherwise..

(People have a hard time breaking their backs and legs picking blueberries or green beans, but it's easy to fall out of a tree or off a ladder, and in one case somebody sued a local guy claiming he broke his leg falling when it was already broken when his family showed up with him not even getting out of the car.)

At any rate, a successful pick your own needs to be pretty big to attract and hold customers , with fringe activities such as picnicking, horse back riding, and so forth. We are too small to do that;we don't have the manpower or the assets in terms of enough production, or varied enough production, to attract people week after week.

Labor for us is insignificant as we do everything ourselves, excepting part of the harvest-that has to be accomplished within a fairly short time frame and requires extra hands.

A managed apple orchard -one supervised by a foreman or owner but actually cared for by hired help cannot turn a profit here anymore except by farming the subsidy system which includes access to low cost loans and highly subsidized crop insurance. We are too small for the first and too honest for the second, but fraud in the crop insurance system is an open secret and a mostly unreported scandal nationwide.

I suppose two good highly capable men could working long hours during the harvest season, with extra help, and normal hours the rest of the year, locally, could grow twenty thousand bushels of apples without any problems on a long term basis. We used to grow about that many under less than ideal circumstances. They could also slip in a few weeks during the winter and occasional days during the spring and summer on outside jobs.With a lot of capital they could grow far more by using newer bigger equipment, hiring farm buildings built, and having better land suited to the bigger equipment.

That twenty thousand bushels will ordinarily sell for two to three hundred thousand dollars wholesale in recent years.

Such men have initiative and a LOT of skills, and can earn passable livings even here in Appalachia in factories, mines, sawmills, and on construction jobs-let us say thirty thousand dollars annually with bennies with relevant experience.

All of them of my acquaintance have turned their orchards into cow pastures or hay fields and work off the farm nowadays.Hay requires long hours in season, but only a few days here and there and you can usually get it done in the evening, at night, and on weekends by using up a few comp days or vacation days and just calling in sick as a last resort.Cows require daily care, bur once a farm is well organized, you can easily look after a hundred or more in two or three hours a day , plus Saturdays.

So I can't really say how labor costs stack up compared to other costs. We are still growing apples and peaches on a very small scale because my dear old Daddy has done so for over seventy years , and isn't about to stop NOW.We quit planting more than a handful of new trees annually many years ago.

My best rough guess is that two guys as outlined above might average earning twenty percent of their gross on average.That is not so terribly bad until you consider there are no benefits, and no pension.It IS a highly satisfying way to earn a living.None finer imo.

I will be pruning tomorrow in a beautiful place with a vacation quality view, getting a fine workout on a ladder and climbing around through the trees in (hopefully) unseasonably warm sunshine.No boss,except my Dad , who pushes me around just as enthusiastically now as he did fifty years ago. He won't do more than a half hour's worth of ground level work on a typical day, but at his age that's enough.I will put in six hours or so, and get three honest hours out.. No time clock, no crabby coworkers, the truck radio preset to NPR and a local bluegrass station depending on the time of day..Back to the house for lunch unless we decide to have deli sandwiches at a local store where our friends and neighbors often gather for lunch-town and a real restaurant are a little too far to go..

The first day it is cold enough to butcher I plan on fitting in a little big game hunting the easy way while pruning, and put a nice fat deer in the freezer that has eaten at our expense all summer-that rascal and his buddies stood on their hind legs and picked half our already short crop of apples hanging within five feet of the ground this year.They also compelled me to spend a two weeks and a considerable amount of cash erecting wire cages around every small fruit tree on the farm.For some reason, whitetails simply love young fruit trees above and beyond any other winter browse , and feed on them so heavily them so that half or more of them will die if not caged.

Deer are pretty dumb and will continue to return to eat dropped fruit until it is all gone, even if you kill one every week until either the deer or the fruit are finished up.Even our semi wild chickens have better sense than that.If I take one off of the roost at night, they roost elsewhere the next night, and baiting them to a convenient spot to pop one with a 22 only works once for any given spot;they won't go there again for at least a couple of weeks, and then only as cautiously as a swimmer expecting a shark attack.

I would rather starve than work in a cubicle.

There is an inherent danger in trying to take the enormous mess Wall Street has made and recast it into single family economics. Yes, the person with a $150,000 mortgage is in trouble when the home will only sell for $125,000 and she loses her job, but let me provide some perspective.

Let's say I make a good basic wage here in D.C. - $63,000 per year. If my debts are $600,000 and my prospects are declining, does it make sense for me to borrow an additional $107,000 in a six month period?

This is a thumbnail of the derivatives market today - global GDP $63T, unregulated derivatives were $600T, and in the most recent six month window, as investment(gambling) houses scrambled, that number went up $107T.

We have some choices in front of us. A jubilee and prosecution of those behind the mother of all counterfeiting rings, or we limp along trying to collect by force until it all implodes. Pretending Wall Street's fraud has any bearing on our future ensures that future will be an ugly one.

This will be combined with governments running massive deficits. Currently the federal government is running a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit per year. I expect this to double within a few years as health care costs continue to explode, Social Security costs explode (retirement of baby boomer generation), bailing out banks, massive unemployment problems, resource wars...

Who said anything about fixing this mess? The goal of the central banks is to prevent the financial system from collapsing. They will create as much money as it takes to do it. Even if the banks don't lend this money, peak oil, peak NG, peak food, etc coupled with population growth & money printing guarantees inflation. Eventually the government may mail half of the population food stamps, rent stamps, gas heat stamps, etc to prevent them from rioting. That will ensure that the consumption of some natural resources will stay fairly high even in a depression because the government will pay for most of it. So you may get deflation in things you don't need and are typically bought with borrowed money (SUVs, McMansions, etc) but inflation in things you need for which you typically pay cash (food and energy).

Eventually, a used SUV in good condition will cost a lot less than the annual gasoline to use it. Or a used McMansion in good condition will cost as much the cost of annual property taxes + heating & cooling.

I think you got it, although they'll mail debit cards. Heat stamps are so 1987.

Debt cards allows the banks to take 3% off the top - thus that is how it'll be done as the politicians gotta pay off their contributors amiright?

So what happens to countries that have their own currency, strong (or stronger than the rest) banks, reasonable policy and have strong governments able to make decisions and act?

I.e. what effect will this inflation and financial turmoil have on Canada? Will it be infected by the same inflation?

Do speculate, as this curious mind wants to know, but realizes that at best, we all just have guesses, not answers I can bank on.


I guess Canada's currency will get stronger and Canadian government will try to debase it in order to be able to export. Eventually the pain caused by inflation will exceed the benefit of exports. At that point, they will allow their currency to rise. I think Canada will be in relatively good shape and Canadians will suffer a lot less because they have both food and energy to export.

Laughable. Canada is just a northern province of the Empire and is allowed to carry on the pretense of being a semi-autonomous nation because it's easier to manage that way. The idea that Canada has any real independence or is somehow immune to the crap that is going down everywhere is silly. When the much larger, heavily armed center of the Empire is right on your southern border, you'll do what your told - not that this will be necessary, as the Canadian leadership is all on board anyway. Keep whistling past the graveyard.

It's very kind of the U.S. to allow us to exist up here in the Great White North. And here I thought we got along so well because of shared interests and values. How foolish of me?

Twilight, where I do agree, Canadians are not immune to what's happening elsewhere. But the game has changed in the past decade. The empire, a bit like the old gray mare, she ain't what she use to be. There was a time in living memory when if America sneezed, Canada caught a cold. This is no longer automatic. Much of the hardship of the past three years in the US has not spilled over to its northern neighbour, in part b/c our financial house is in better shape and in part b/c Asian markets remained robust.

Would Canada fall out of step with the US? My guess, on many questions, no. Not b/c our imperial overlords say so, but b/c we have too much in common not to do so. By the way, we do like our autonomy - semi or otherwise. A celebration is planned next year in Canada to commemorate the War of 1812. Whatever one's opinion of its causes and victories, that skirmish resulted in two political entities not one occupying North America. After two centuries of living apart, we do view the world differently, even when we get along.

Actually, there are presently three political entities (nominally) occupying NA, but I expect there will be more in the years to come. As should have been obvious, I was overstating the case a bit. My point was really that none of no parts of the western industrial empire, nor really any of the industrial world, can count itself as immune from the effects of resource, and chiefly energy depletion. In the short term I expect the US Empire to try to consolidate power, and it won't be the shared interests of the US and Canadian population that drives cooperation, but rather the shared interests of the leadership classes. Longer term I expect a breakup of existing political entities, as is already happening in Mexico (and soon will spread into the US south west), and a reforming of new, smaller ones where people have common interests and it makes sense.

I expect a breakup of existing political entities, as is already happening in Mexico

Reminds me that we haven't heard from Jeff Vail here in a long time. Does anyone know is he still a TOD contributing ed. or whatever, or has he moved on? Used to appreciate his nation-state analysis.

One particular location comes to mind, the crossing into Grosse Point from Detroit along Jefferson Blvd. That day, I was riding a motorcycle East, past the Tiger stadium, past Little Mexico, into what might have been the poorest portion of Detroit before entering Grosse Point. There, a no-man's strip but a few yards wide exists between a mega-million-dollar mansion and its manicured lawn (just as Lake Claire (or whatever) waterfront becomes Jefferson's southern side) and a litter-strewn homeless camp. I had to stop and realize what had just happened.

This might be like crossing into Canada in the near future if things keep going the way they are.

Who said anything about fixing this mess? The goal of the central banks is to prevent the financial system from collapsing.

That is what I meant by "fixing this mess."

By any token I am amazed by the fiscal feats of the past few years. QE's without any apparent downfall. Massive borrowing, yet the stock market today is pushing over 400 on the Dow. These people are masters of monetary control. Things get a little or a lot skewed and they simply bolster the banks in some unseen manner. Like magicians they conjure up positive influences out of thin air. Out of triple digit oil prices, commerce still moves and Black Friday set a record for sales.

If the ship is going down, it isn't apparent yet. At least not by today's developments.

Remember what Colonel Troutman said to Sheriff Teasle in Rambo? "The kid is resilient, isn't he?" Sounds like humankind in the face of declining net energy. Amazingly resilient! I'm astounded and perplexed all at once.

For the past several years I've been amazed at the various calls by bloggers (and posters) that "This is it! The ship's going to sink!". Yet time again they are stymied by some kick-the-can hoopla that the government/banks pull out of their you-know-what. It seems like all the doom-sayers scream that this or that isn't fair and they or them are violating some black letter law or another blah blah blah...Denninger is always harping on about how the Federal Reserve is violating laws and congress is implicit in the lawlessness and what not.

I think everybody is forgetting that this is easily the equivalent to a full-scale world war, only the enemy is debt and not an axis of evil. Let's face it, if everybody just gave up in 2008 and said "Aww hell, we tried hard, but golly we just have to abide by the rules", the result would have been complete chaos and I reckon the US would be a very different place than now. In a full-scale world war, where the US was fighting a evenly matched (or even superior!) enemy, would you really expect us to abide by all the rules or be fair? - no black ops or secret technology, spies, or espionage? Hell no.

That's what's going on now, the government and banks are going to pull every trick or lie or cheat that they're able to, because the alternative is their very own destruction. They were caught off-guard in 2008 but that won't happen again. 2008 was like Pearl Harbor where debt made a surprise-attack, not the Japanese. And now it's a full-scale war.

Ultimately what bloggers and posters need to be thinking about WRT anticipating the breaking point (when TPTB are no longer able to keep the plates in the air), is to ponder at what point the Federal Reserve can no longer mathematically conduct operations, whether that's monetizing debt or funding the government. Because until that happens, the Central Banks will keep pulling rabbits out of their hats like today. Maybe it's not until every single interest or discount rate worldwide is 0% and outright printing becomes blatently obvious, I don't know. Even then I'd expect the government to just lie and secretly write down debt indefinitely.

Smarter people than I need to start thinking outside the box about this sort of scenario. Not picking on you personally, but it's starting to get all too predictable where we read that a blogger is suprised yet-again that they're able to kick the can further down the road. Remember the alternative is destruction of the nations and governments, so absolutely every possible lie or cheat will be tried at some point. At least until "debt" drops a couple of nuclear bombs on us and we surrender.

That's what's going on now, the government and banks are going to pull every trick or lie or cheat that they're able to, because the alternative is their very own destruction. They were caught off-guard in 2008 but that won't happen again. 2008 was like Pearl Harbor where debt made a surprise-attack, not the Japanese. And now it's a full-scale war.

Great post ty454 - I agree. Hadn't really thought of it as a war before but the stakes are just as real, so it makes a very good analogy, and of course under those circumstances the govt & banks will do anything and everything they can to kick the can down the road. Afterall, what good are rules if they deem our demise? Might as well conjure up some new rules, like QE's etc.

I'd even take it a step further and hazard to guess that many of the top executives and braintrust at the major financial institutions have top secret security clearances (or their financial-world equivalent) which allows them to participate in government plans outside of the knowledge of the rest the staff. Having held secret clearances and worked on top secret programs myself in a former life - where you were basically forbid to ask questions as to the nature of your work but had a general idea as to its nature, I can see where such a program would be a benefit to the large banks. They'd basically be free to partake in any sort of balance shell games without having to report the true nature of the operations to the public. I know if I was head of the fed reserve or the treasury I'd make sure a program like that existed.

As far as I'm concerned the big financial institutions are the equivalent to the defense primes - Northrop, Lockheed, GD, Boeing, etc. The government wouldn't allow those companies to go bankrupt during a war and I'm guessing they need the financial institutions just as bad to fight this war. They will protect them.

Very interesting inside view. I can imagine those people must spend many hours brainstorming different tactics and then trying to predict their outcome.

I'd even take it a step further and hazard to guess that many of the top executives and braintrust at the major financial institutions have top secret security clearances (or their financial-world equivalent) which allows them to participate in government plans outside of the knowledge of the rest the staff.

You don't have to guess. This does happen in forms of Boards of directors, school alumni meetings, groups like CFR, Bohemian Grove, or hiring lobbyists like Newt Gingrich or investing in the President's Son's latest oilfield.

See InfraGard.
"...a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector."

They were caught off-guard in 2008 but that won't happen again.

maybe some, but I dunno, it seemed well orchestrated. a bubble bursting is as good as an atm transaction if you're rich and clever.

what you're saying about this elaborate "dance of debt" is interesting. it's philosophical to say this, but I look at this mysterious multinational entity "debt" as a kind of faceless, meaningless being, called into existence out of nothing by the collective howl of the human beast - a creature too capable for its skin, outgrowing its place, reaching its fingers into every part of the soul and the earth in a desperate attempt to stay and go both at once. If it stays then it can't even really be called debt anymore, but will require a name of its own, like a hurricane: I propose Frank or Louise.

I truely believe that TPTB were generally caught flat-footed in 2008. Sure some people knew what was going to go down and profited off it, but in general I don't think there was any conspiracy behind it. I'm sure there was plenty of insider trading by those in the know but that's always going to be the case. But now there's a much more coordinated response, and basically any amount of money can be conjured up and electronically sent anywhere in the world in seconds. With the united support of all central banks, I don't see how the same scenario can unfold.

It'll have to be something vastly different and unexpected. It seems to me it has to be something physical, that can't be printed into being. I don't know what - maybe it'll be declining net exports of oil! That seems too obvious a problem to me - for governments to be caught off guard and all, but it could be my 6 years of reading TOD whereby the general populace doesn't even know what net exports means!

In time when humans have finally reached a steady-state with the environment with little population change and a recycle-based economy, it could be that they look back at our period of great growth and the economic system that accompanied it and acknowledge that it was indeed the optimal monetary system for our situation. Perhaps a debt-based system is the best way to cope with a surplus of resources and now we're experiencing a natural progression to whatever system it's going to evolve into. I agree with your anology, debt is this sort of ominous shapeless being that's out there lurking and which we really haven't gained control over. Now we have to slay the dragon. At least we know it's a menace now, 10 years ago I barely even knew how a mortgage worked.

From your post up the thread:

That's what's going on now, the government and banks are going to pull every trick or lie or cheat that they're able to, because the alternative is their very own destruction.

I suspect that this is one of the primary reasons that we will probably never get most government officials, members of the MSM, etc. to actually acknowledge the reality of Peak Oil/Peak Exports. I think that we are seeing cognitive dissonance on a global scale. Government officials generally refuse to acknowledge resource limits. It's as if, once the Titanic hit the iceberg, the officers resumed the voyage, and ignored reports of flooding.

For the global economy, and especially for oil importing OECD countries, the iceberg was Peak Net Oil Exports in 2005. At the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in Chindia's combined net oil imports as a percentage of Global Net Exports (GNE), the Chindia region would consume 100% of GNE in only 19 years.

In time when humans have finally reached a steady-state with the environment with little population change and a recycle-based economy

How hopeful you are, and I hope you are right.

For the past several years I've been amazed at the various calls by bloggers (and posters) that "This is it! The ship's going to sink!". Yet time again they are stymied by some kick-the-can hoopla that the government/banks pull out of their you-know-what. It seems like all the doom-sayers scream that this or that isn't fair and they or them are violating some black letter law or another blah blah blah.

In the short term always bet on an optimist and in the long term always bet on the pessimist. An optimist is right until he is wrong and a pessimist is wrong until he is right.

The main issue is that the current economic system is built around money which may never be paid back. If you built your country on borrowed money and can't pay then who loses more, the borrower or the lender? International finance relies on the assumption that business as usual will continue as usual. Net borrowers are at a disadvantage in small economic crises but at an advantage with large ones. At this point I would rather be a net borrower than a net lender, the former can always increase its wealth by stiffing the latter.

In the short term always bet on an optimist and in the long term always bet on the pessimist. An optimist is right until he is wrong and a pessimist is wrong until he is right.

You summed it up well. This debt cannot be paid back without destroying the value of money itself i.e. unless we stumble upon some magical source of energy and a new planet to conquer. There's no point in being an optimist, timing is important but no longer relevant at this point, being prepared is more relevant to the current context.

I like Orlov's analogy If you think there's a one percent chance of a collapse, you should invest one percent of your money and time in preparing for it. At this point of time, those chances are certainly greater than one percent.

If you think there's a one percent chance of a collapse, you should invest one percent of your money and time in preparing for it. At this point of time, those chances are certainly greater than one percent.

What is that? A 1% per year chance of collapse? What does collapse actually mean in a practical sense anyway? I prefer to think of each year of BAU increasing the chance of disintegration of global systems, I.E. Somalia no longer connected to Canada via trade. It is one thing to talk about total systematic collapse and another to talk about peripheral provincial collapse. In the Roman Empire for instance they first lost the peripheral provinces long before the heart of the system fell over. The entropy of some parts of the global system may provide enough free energy for the rest to stagger onwards and maintain their level of complexity.

I think there are numerous potential causes of collapse which have different consequences for different parts of the system.

1. Food crisis.

2. Energy crisis.

3. Disease crisis.

4. Resource (commodity) crisis.

5. Nuclear crisis.

Each would play out in different ways.

That was a maxim, not a theory.

"Aww hell, we tried hard, but golly we just have to abide by the rules",

That's what happens when you have rule of law.

the result would have been complete chaos

Really? So because of the actions back then, there will not be any chaos in the future over not following the law back then?

When abiding by the rules is a catalyst to your destruction then you ignore the rules. Unless you're a movie star in a feature film.

And WRT your second point, obviously there will be chaos down the road. And guess what, we'll break the rules then and hope we can pull off the same stunt. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. But the actions in 2008 bought us at least three years, that much is clear to me.

When abiding by the rules is a catalyst to your destruction then you ignore the rules.

Than what is point of having rules or laws?

What is the point of following rules that sow the seeds of your own demise?

Pro-tip: EVERYONE gets to die.

There is a reason the myth of the Revenant, the zombie or vampire exists - to warn the living about things that should be dead but are not.

Good to know that you think the rule of law is crap and not to be followed if such is "for your on convenience". That kind of thinking is what brings you pepper spray used on black friday VS other shoppers so you'll excuse my doubting the validity of your position.

We (man) made the money system, we wrote the rules, they're our laws. If I'm Ben Bernanke and a consequence of me following the rules is a complete shutdown of our economy then damn straight I'll break the rules. And you can pretend to be sanctimonious over the internet but I bet you'd you'd be right in line to lament his decision if he chose not to on grounds of moral authority.

following the rules is a complete shutdown of our economy

That is what you THINK would have happened.

But you do not know.

And you are wrong, if High School Econ books are right that economies are natural and happen whenever you have a group of humans. Trading would have occurred between parties somehow - thus no "Complete Shutdown". Local Governments would have created local money - just like in the Great Depression.

No where have you shown that the decision to violate law has resulted in the removal of an economic shutdown in the future.

I bet you'd you'd be right in line to lament his decision if he chose not to on grounds of moral authority.

Moral authority has nothing to do with it - there are laws on the books, and if America is a Nation under the Rule of Law, the laws need to be followed.

If groups with power get to ignore the law when its convenient for them and still enforce law on those without power, now you enter the moral world of the schoolyard bully taking the lunch money from whomever they want.

Bottom line: world crude oil production is still on a plateau.

If the ship is going down, it isn't apparent yet. At least not by today's developments.

Exactly. This is where many an inflationist and deflationist has gone wrong: the timing. We are not taking wheelbarrows of cash to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread as some inflationists predicted. Nor have the global credit lines dried up, leaving store shelves empty overnight, as some deflationists feared.

I've come to the conclusion that among the possible futures I must prepare for is BAU continuing, more or less. The end may be inevitable, but it may not be in a timeframe I will ever see.

"I've come to the conclusion that among the possible futures I must prepare for is BAU continuing, more or less. The end may be inevitable, but it may not be in a timeframe I will ever see."

Well said. And the dominant one even of readers of this board, I believe. LATOC is gone, few back words with those complete lifestyle changes.

I'm with you more and more on this Leanan. When I discovered TOD and LATOC back in 2005, I was sure the world was going to end, especially in 2008 as oil prices kept rising. Obviously that hasn't happened - my household income is quadruple what it was, my wife and I both have good jobs, neighbors around us have good jobs, my house has lost value but not a huge amount, gas is still pretty cheap and an inconsequential cost in daily life, food is still cheap all things considered as well. American consumers are out in force at Tyson's Corner this year, swiping plastic like never before. Internet sales are setting records, huge trucks and SUVs crowd the roads all around me, I even still see spinner rims. Nobody seems stressed about their retirement accounts anymore either.

I made a number of decisions to sacrifice quality of life in order to prepare for oil armageddon but none of that has come to pass. A trivial one - I needed a new motorcycle a couple years back (I commute 95% of the time on motorcycle in the DC area). I could have gotten what I *really* wanted, either a BMW R1200GS or a Ducati 1198, but I sacrificed and went with the utilitarian choice: Suzuki DL650. 60k miles later nothing has changed but gas is marginally more expensive. I've wasted 5 years of my life on that bike waiting for oil production to decline, one of us to lose our jobs, salaries to decline, or hell even mad max to occur (I have a 1969 Honda CT90 as well!). I should have just gotten what I really wanted. Yeah it's a bit of a superficial sob story but it makes my point...still waiting for the disastrous effects of peak oil...nothing yet.

I'm sure being in the DC area has something to do with it, but I'm just not seeing the end of the world around me, not even close. Maybe if there was another major recession like in 2008 where we were losing 700k jobs a month then people would start to freak out, that could be what it'd take.

I'm sure being in the DC [bubble] area has something to do with it... Yah think?

I was not on TOD but I see a lot of problems in economy, increase in pollution and prices, degradation of environment and quality of life and increase in geo-political risks since 2005. If I just take myself my salary has tripled and my family is a lot better. I think doomers are expecting too much too soon.
Actually it's going quite in line with the predictions in "Limits to Growth" give or take a few years or one decade.
As a refresher, here's the original graph, see if something strikes as self-evident.


Don't forget the scale of this phenomenon and the very large and non-linear error-bars.

A beautiful best case scenario can let us grow happily until 2020 with growing energy and proving peak oilers "wrong" for 10 more years. New discoveries, new technologies, efficiency gains, etc ... can add many many years.

So it's important to zoom out sometimes. Debt dynamics are also "slow". It takes time for it to propagate through society.

So, sure ... buy your motorcycle! But is it the right thing to do?
You could also spend that money teaching the right values to your kids to prepare them for the future?
I have a little Suzuki 250cc by the way ;)

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 25, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending November 25, 231 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.6 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging about 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day last week, up by 742 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.6 million barrels per day, 285 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 619 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 150 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 334.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 5.5 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 7.7 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged just under 19.0 million barrels per day, down by 0.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 2.9 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged about 4.0 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 1.4 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 6.5 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Last week demand is estimated to have been down 1 million barrels per day below the 4 week average (17.95 vs 18.97 million bpd). Most of the fall being in "distillates" which was down 20% on the previous week's demand.

Thanksgiving Blip?

12-month moving average of all-roads vehicle miles driven is down since it's peak in 2007. (scroll down to figure 1)

Yes, I know that. Doesn't explain why US product supplied dropped 1 million barrels per day last week compared to the average over the last 4 weeks this year (including the reported week with the big drop). Gasoline supplied last week was actually up on both the previous week and the 4 week average. So VMT has nothing to do with the total drop reported for last week.

Cairns costs appear to be closer to 1 billion dollars - without finding oil:

Cairn finds no oil in Greenland
City patience runs dry as Cairn's drilling comes up empty and oil prospector looks to share $1bn cost of sinking wells in Arctic.


Speaking as someone who worked for a company that spent quite a few billions of dollars drilling for oil in the Canadian Arctic waters and came up dry, I'm not totally surprised that Cairn found nothing off Greenland. The Arctic waters are not, in my experience, a really good place to find oil.

I don't know why the U.S. Geological Survey estimated there were 50 billion barrels of oil off Greenland. Total ignorance is my best guess. I suppose they were equating it to the Gulf of Mexico, and it is completely unlike the Gulf of Mexico.

Maybe it was a clever feint, to throw Russia on a Goose Chase?

Sounds like Cairn just needs a little PMA. Perhaps their CEO could hang with Newt, Michelle Bachmann & Sarah Palin for a while --the Brits are so dour compared to us can-do Uhmerikans, dontcha know.

One really has to pitty them.

Don't want to get flamed by Darwinian for it, but:

Infographic Of The Day: The Metals That Enable Our Gadgets Are Vanishing

this is why space is for mining, and it won't be long until we're out there in a serious way (assuming we survive the oilpocalypse). all the big heavy elements are just floating around up there for the taking. As a matter of fact, all the heavy elements we currently mine from earth's surface are found in the remains of asteroid impacts.

First TehChromic, constructive criticism is not flaming. I don't flame.

And what planet are we going to mine? An asteroid perhaps. Also, the precious metals starts out as ore, tons and tons of ore. And you going to set up your smelter to separate the metals from the ore on what planet, or what asteroid? I can see it now, giant earth moving machines, or Mars moving machines, ;-) loading huge amounts of ore onto trucks and hauling them across the Martian landscape to the giant smelter, built on earth of course and parachuted down to the Martian surface.

Of course everything would be powered by batteries, recharged by solar power. I imagine the batteries that ran the furnace would have to be recharged quite often. It would take a lot of heat to smelt the metals out of the ore.

Or are you going to just ship the tons and tons of ore back to earth is some super giant ore carrying space craft? If so you are going to have bit of trouble entering the earth's atmosphere... and landing. Not to mention the trouble of getting the giant ship loaded with about a thousand tons of ore off the Martian surface.

Space is for mining, or at least it is in science fiction novels.

Ron P.

Clearly you just put plasma engines on a big asteroid and point it toward earth. Once it gets here gravity can do the rest. When the dust settles out of the atmosphere in a decade or so you can mine the new crater for heavy metals. Easy, see?

Yes, this was sarcasm.

Sarcasm? You could have fooled me. That sounds as reasonable as any other space mining scheme I have heard of. ;-)

Ron P.

Or are you going to just ship the tons and tons of ore back to earth is some super giant ore carrying space craft? If so you are going to have bit of trouble entering the earth's atmosphere... and landing. Not to mention the trouble of getting the giant ship loaded with about a thousand tons of ore off the Martian surface.

Ok, I'll bite. How about using this --one space elevator for Earth, one for Mars, one for the Moon, asteroids, etc.? And there's even a bit of good news for the techno-optimists:

Extraterrestrial elevators

A space elevator could also be constructed on other planets, asteroids and moons.

A Martian tether could be much shorter than one on Earth. Mars' surface gravity is 38% of Earth's, while it rotates around its axis in about the same time as Earth.[46] Because of this, Martian areostationary orbit is much closer to the surface, and hence the elevator would be much shorter. Current materials are already sufficiently strong to construct such an elevator.[47] However, building a Martian elevator would be complicated by the Martian moon Phobos, which is in a low orbit and intersects the Equator regularly (twice every orbital period of 11 h 6 min).[original research?]

A lunar space elevator can possibly be built with currently available technology about 50,000 kilometers (31,000 mi) long extending through the Earth-Moon L1 point from an anchor point near the center of the visible part of Earth's moon.[48] However, the lack of an atmosphere allows for other, perhaps better, alternatives to rockets, such as mass driver systems.

On the far side of the moon, a lunar space elevator would need to be very long (more than twice the length of an Earth elevator) but due to the low gravity of the Moon, can be made of existing engineering materials.[48]

A space elevator, with the cable made from carbon nanotubes, yeah, that's the ticket.

As Alice said "Things getting weirder and weirder!"

Ron P.


It's funny that what you are no doubt hearing as the height of irony sounds to me like plausible applied science - a difference of perspective i guess. Isn't this carbon fiber the sort of stuff that's in materials labs right now? It's made of carbon, how hard or expensive can it be to make?

Tech, I think you might be confusing carbon fibre with carbon nano-tubes, graphene or even buckyballs.

Carbon fibre is a akin to glass fibre, but cured in an autoclave. Short strings of carbon woven together.

A buckyball being a collection of carbon atoms in a ball shape molecule (potentially to contain something very small), nano-tubes are essentially an elongated buckyball. Graphene is similar but in a sheet rather than a string.

The longest carbon nano-tube made so far can be measured in centimetres and has a price tag per Kg that makes Plutonium look cheap.

Yes, carbon nano-tubes are the only known material capable of building a tether that long that doesn't snap under it's own weight. But the small issue of being able to produce one is slightly less likely than a nuclear fusion power plant available in your basement in the next 10 years.

Thanks for the factual content. This issue of "ten years" keeps coming up and I'm not sure why that limit is set. I realize that PO is going to cause the end of civilization, but if it doesn't, it seems there will be a real premium placed on technology that overcomes resource limits through feats of engineering. If technology survives at all, IMO ideas like the space elevator, which would allow for cheap escape from the gravity well, will get a real try. Currently they seem to be sidelined by the BAU, burn everything now mentality.

I guess I'm not sure why ideas that seem completely outside of BAU, and that would themselves change BAU if they were taken seriously, seem to get the BAU treatment. It's almost like people are so frustrated with BAU, and so invested in seeing it fail, that any idea that isn't directly associated with the failure of BAU is suspect. The irony is that that position is pure BAU.

though i have to admit that the following trials of the people who built it are held responsible for the massive deaths of people after the cable sheers from atmospheric drag and falls would be entertaining. well less like trial's and more like angry mob of relatives lynching them.

kind of like watching 40,000 people per year die in auto accidents? - and i think that's just US numbers

critical difference.
it would happen at once and in sight of anyone within hundreds of miles of the attempt. compared to scattered across thousands of square miles.
then again we all have to remember the idea is critically flawed, even in stationary geo synchronous orbit it would be torn apart by the forces of the entire thickness of the atmosphere pushing against it. also the electrical charge this would produce would make riding up it rather, well very difficult at it's very best. physics is a bitch ain't it?


it would happen at once and in sight of anyone within hundreds of miles of the attempt. compared to scattered across thousands of square miles.

too true, if it happens all at once, it's bad. if it happens bit by bit, it's all good! lol

About the critically flawed part - how would the entire thickness of the atmosphere tear apart a thick thread of carbon fiber? what are you saying about electricity - would only an electrical conductor work? are you saying that it is impossible due to the laws of physics to build a space elevator, even with a good, cheap, working fiber? Maybe some engineers who would disagree.

That Wiki article glosses over several big problems with the Space Elevator. The cable (actually, a ribbon) is likely to be too massive to deploy in one shot, thus a series of climbers must be sent up, each adding another layer to the existing ribbon. The process of adding each layer must be flawless, with each layer bonded to the previous layers using some sort of adhesive which cures very fast. At a climber speed of 30 miles per hour, achieving that bond in 1 second would require keeping the ribbon within a controlled environment of 44 feet in length and with the stress levels in both sections maintained at identical levels. The bonding process must continue all the way to the balance mass, perhaps 3 times the distance to GEO.

Powering the climbers would be a big challenge, for example, at a lifting speed of 100 miles an hour, each ton of mass would require a drive power of 533 HP or 398 kilowatts at the surface (decreasing with altitude) and that ton must include the mass of the drive motor and the transmission, the power supply and any cooling system required. There wouldn't be much mass left for payload. Of course, the lift speed could be reduced, but that would increase the time of travel to reach GEO at 22,236 mi (35,786 km) above the surface. If the climbers are to descend back to the surface, some sort of braking mechanism must be included to limit the descent speed, and that would require a cooling system as well, which would also subtract from the net payload available at the start. Again, slower is better, but a 10 mph ascent/descent would require about 3 months each way and the cable can only carry a certain maximum load, thus only one climber at that mass could move at any time. It would be exceedingly difficult for climbers to pass on the ribbon. One dead climber and the whole system would be stuck in shutdown, with the likely result being decoupling said dead climber, which would then enter some orbit which might intercept the Earth and crash...

E. Swanson

yep, an incredible feat of engineering. Still, I imagine explaining the microprocessor from a few years prior to its first incarnation would sound similarly implausible - hell I still can't believe the things work. Just like, if you were to show peat miners from 100 years ago our current technological state, I'm sure it would blow em away.

Darwinian has a point when he says that not all sci-fi makes it to the drawing board, and IMO I'm not sure if the space elevator will, although I don't think it's impossible. The point I'm making is that, when we talk about resources and energy, and when we talk about human ingenuity and our capacity to build and expand, you inevitably reach space. It's inevitable. Provided we don't wipe our own species of the surface of the planet before we can develop such capacity, then for sure we'll be digging around out there, converting all that matter and energy into stuff we can use. I'm just sayin'.

Thank you. Sometimes the doom here gets a little too thick even for me.

Why is that? Don't you insist on thinking rationally about some crazy scheme which has little chance of success? Engineering is about invention and using the knowledge of science to accomplish that task. Ignoring the science is not a good way to design a system, especially one intended to operate outside the atmosphere...

E. Swanson

I'm not sure I follow. How is it that teams of scientists from NASA and MIT who are involved in current design efforts are "ignoring the science"? And for the record, I'm not convinced it will definitely work, just that it's worth further study and some R&D.

From what I've found on the Net about the Space Elevator, I doubt that the people working on the concept are first rate scientists. I am aware of the climber contests which have been conducted, but they don't get to the basics which I find so impossible to overcome. Those contests are great fun for students and get them interested in careers in the aerospace industry, but, that's not the same as a "current design effort". Care to give a reference to back up your claim that there are folks at NASA and MIT who are actually designing a Space Elevator?

E. Swanson

From what I've found on the Net about the Space Elevator, I doubt that the people working on the concept are first rate scientists.

And there's the problem. It's BAU, and no-one is willing to defy the current paradigm of 'plenty to burn'. No one wants to think in terms of high technology as a way to use less energy, move more slowly, or act more pragmatically. It's all burn burn burn, we'll clean up tomorrow.

The point stands though: there are ways to access space that are energy efficient. They require complex engineering, and complicated materials and science, but that's the point - the age of fossil fuel combustion is going to give way to more elegant and efficient technologies as hard limits are reached. That is, if technology continues to exist at all.

tehChromic wrote:

The point stands though: there are ways to access space that are energy efficient.

Sounds great, but from one who has worked for more than 5 years in the satellite building business, I ask that you tell us where those "ways to access space" are presently operational, especially the ones which include humans or which include returning mined materials to the surface. So far, you've just been blowing smoke...

E. Swanson

Black Dog,
I don't think i'm blowing smoke since I haven't said anything that is false. I didn't say we have operational space mining. All I said is that A. it isn't impossible, and that we could get to, and around space more efficiently than we do now, and B. if we preserve our high tech culture intact beyond PO, it is likely that it will be in part because we have begun to use space as a resource for energy and materials. I keep having my position distorted and flamed, so I get the feeling that there is no practical stance that can be taken with respect to space exploitation with folks - then I discover that you have spent 5 years in the satellite building business yourself! I gotta laugh. Do you really think there's no future in developing space tech?

You are missing a step along the way - to have these space machines you need to have computer tech advance to the point where it can do the mining.

(Solving the replacement part problem is another)

Both of these things can be addressed in biosphere - so if space mining is important to you you can get to work on solving the problems here and now.

true, although i think computer tech is close, and in fact we do use quite a bit of it for mining in extreme conditions here on earth.

solving the replacement part problem is basically solving either the cheap launch problem, or of advancing the automated machinery to the point where replacements can be produced in situo. 3d fabrication and automation are really leaping ahead nowadays - if any of it sounds like sci-fi, it really isn't.

Space mining is not that important to me, although I do think it is interesting, but thanks for the suggestion.

Thresholds and hiatus.

That's what we'll increasingly be up against, and they seem to be topics largely invisible to the reductionist mindset, though they shouldn't be since they're all around us.

I've often thought a keypost here should look at the general concept of thresholds, along with such basics as EROEI, receding horizons, resource distribution, etc. And "hiatus" is a good one as well. We seem to think of things in steady-state terms, with "thresholds" arm-waved away.

What is the upfront investment in time, energy, and complexity necessary to do "x" thing? And are the initial and intermediate steps which must be traversed resilient against competitive demands, shifting goals, short-term crisis etc?

Those basic considerations immediately rule out many pie-in-the sky plans which look sustainable on paper. One would have to start from the current world, resources, governments etc as they now exist and chart a course to divert the time and energy in entirely different directions, while fending off all opposition; analogous to a new sort of creature surviving in a forest from moment to moment.

Not only are the time, money, energy and complexity thresholds of things like space elevators and solar space armadas unrealistic, we're basically only keeping our current BAU going by coasting on infrastructure built on the upslope of annually increasing oil and resources. Our bridges, roads, pipes, electric infrastructure, etc aren't built for the long term.

If the ITER tokamak works perfectly and on schedule, it will still be too late to build tokamak fusion reactors in more than a few places. The odds of a manned mission to mars are about like those of a pet angora rabbit turned loose to fend for itself in the desert.

Most techy "solutions" ignore thresholds of time, energy, and complexity and don't consider "tolerance to hiatus". So there are a lot of 'em.

just sayin'....

Not only are the time, money, energy and complexity thresholds of things like space elevators and solar space armadas unrealistic, we're basically only keeping our current BAU going by coasting on infrastructure built on the upslope of annually increasing oil and resources. Our bridges, roads, pipes, electric infrastructure, etc aren't built for the long term.

Good grief, it's not like NASA's current budget is driving civilization to an early grave. Its entire budget for this year was, let's see, roughly $19 billion? The amount of money the Pentagon wastes on cancelled projects alone would dwarf it. I won't even get into bank bailouts or how many $Billions Americans burn through each year on outright waste that produces *nothing* of value (gambling, drug abuse, discarded food, wasted energy, still useable clothing/electronics/toys/autos discarded due to planned obsolecense, changing fashion trends, etc.). At least some of NASA's space programs succeed and produce actual benefits in the form of new technologies and scientific knowledge.

If the ITER tokamak works perfectly and on schedule, it will still be too late to build tokamak fusion reactors in more than a few places. The odds of a manned mission to mars are about like those of a pet angora rabbit turned loose to fend for itself in the desert.

Wow, I wish we all had your gift of prescience. Then there would be no need to perform costly and time consuming R&D and experimentation, or to choose among different options competing for resources. We'd all know exactly what solutions will or won't work and exactly how to make them happen!

In all seriousness, how can you be *sure* that fusion (or MSRs) will never be practical? Unlikely in the very short run, I can agree, yes, but... never? As far as the Mars mission goes, I agree it is not *politically* likely today. However, we have had the technology to do it since the Apollo missions ended nearly 40 years ago, and the tech has only gotten better since then. Expensive? Very. The best use of a $Trillion or so U.S. dollars? Perhaps not so much. But beyond our reach --no.

Heavens, I'm a big booster of space programs. I've worked with astronauts who like my projects, some of which were significantly funded by a legendary scifi writer; have been on boards giving grants to encourage space tech and exploration. There's a piece of skylab on my desk recovered in Australia, and I was there for its liftoff. I spent a number of years boosting O'Neill colonies after college. Still, I try not to confuse my wishes with reality.

If I were dictator of the world, there would be some interesting projects tried before someone shot me. However, I'd say I'm not the pony to bet on in that regard.

How can I be sure fusion will never be practical? I never claimed such a thing. I tried to develop a larger demo and more ambitious funding with Dr. Bussard before his death (for the polywell approach) even though I doubt it will work, because I'm not sure it won't work. He preferred military grants so he didn't pursue it. I would have spent a substantial bit of my remaining lifetime on that project.

Anyone who understands peak oil and peak stuff, and a bit about the real basis of the human economy, can work out that ITER won't be developed in time to be deployed; it isn't scheduled to produce plasma until 2019; even if it then takes only 10 years to figure out how to convert it into a break-even power source - which I think nobody involved believes - that'll put us in the teeth of a global depression before we even start building the first one, a world in which ready availability to globalized supply chains is unlikely to exist, and enormous unproven supercooled structures will be as hard to fund as mars missions.

It's useful to think of the future as existing in a probabilistic way. Anything not precluded by physics or thermodynamics is arguably possible. However, when you then look at all the things filtering those probabilities, you wind up with many being effectively impossible. No prescience necessary, just a notion of the systems involved and the nature of aggregate probability in terms of a specific sequence of unlikely events being realized. Think of the plot of the old Disney "incredible journey" type movie, in which an aardvark, a penguin, and a lizard make friends and escape from a pet store and cross an ocean and a continent looking for the little boy who originally owned them. The unlikelihood is what makes the journey so incredible. I once hoped to pitch Disney on "the flatly unbelievable journey" but they have less sense of humor than you might think.

Anyhow, the probabilities can be tweaked, but there are limits.


I agree completely with this POV. It's not very likely at all that our civilization will expand in scope to include such activities as space mining in our threshold, due entirely to the hiatus in question.

However, it's also highly unlikely that humanity won't attempt the impossible in the face of the impossible. What is currently a impenetrable hiatus, suddenly becomes passable given the right external circumstances, or right set of individuals. We won't all make it through, that's for sure.

But I think the possibility of us making it through without carrying our technological sophistication along with us is less likely than making it through without it. In other words, if we make it through PO at all, it won't be bereft of tech.

If human history is a guide, technology is carried over and improved, even as resources and cultures change, and wars other and catastrophes play out. Therefore, a sci-fi future in which the mass of surviving humanity is subsistence farming, while an elite few are growing organs and planning space missions isn't altogether unlikely. In fact, it's one likely outcome of increased technological sophistication coinciding with resource depletion.

It's one outcome that could bridge your hiatus and meet my threshold - collapsed infrastructure, short term breakdown, with increasingly virulent, advanced tech protecting and advancing the interests of a privileged few. It's what happened in the feudal age in Europe after the Roman empire fell, and it seems like a quite likely outcome of the incremental collapse of our overextended empire as well.

It's speculation again, so I hope no-one will flame me. I am coming to realize that this site takes a hard handed approach to idle speculation. Kind of ironic. Like anyone here can do anything about PO except maybe ROCKMAN, lol.

As I noted in my comment above this, I'd be all for trying projects which seemed feasibly robust at all stages. Most folks who talk about asteroid mining, space elevators, solar space-power armadas and such stuff ignore the threshold effects and the fragility of a particular chain of events in the evolutionary process.

This site tends to apply the systems-approach filters; if I visited a space-armada site I'd go with the flow for the fun of it, but I see this as sort of a nittygritty "what can actually work" site. Which is why things like the aggregate probability of a given sequence of events becomes relevant.

I think that even if some part of the world keeps high tech for awhile, that it will be doing well to keep GPS satellites working and some weather satellites up. The last human to reach earth orbit is likely already in school. That bums me out, personally, but it is what it is. We'll still be finding out new stuff for many decades of course from unmanned missions, some quite cool.

I've idly speculated that a mythological space program could have a lot of utility in terms of keeping people happy in the future; so kids in the future may grow up believing there are colonies on mars and the moons of jupiter; I think sci-fi will merge with religion & mythology. However, footprints on the moon will probably be our high-water mark in the real universe.

appreciate the perspective, and naturally mine is slightly different, that's teh nature of perspectives. I had some trouble a little earlier in the thread with people scoffing and poking fun at my opinion without really understanding my point - I don't have any trouble with honest doubts and facts and opinions like you've put out - but my comment wasn't some naive gambit, it was all kinds of qualified, with the foremost being, that I think it's very unlikely that we can even survive the near term long enough to get to the point that I was trying to describe.

i agree with a lot of what you say, however my perspective is a little different. It's that I don't think humans let go of technology easily once they've got it. I don't think we'll let go of electricity, for example, if we do survive post PO. The nature of energy will change, and we'll adapt. This is exactly what the foolish species has done, over and over again, as we've wiped out resources in our never ending quest for complete dominion of our world.

So while I agree with a lot of what you say and find it intriguing, I take a long view and say: given that we might not survive the near term, we may very well find ourselves with a technology that is both more sophisticated and more complex than what we have now, if we do. The reason being that sustainable, renewable energy sources - solar and geothermal for example, require more complicated infrastructure to develop. Assuming we do transition away from fossil fuels, I think it is likely that we develop our ability to use the raw EM radiation of the sun - after all, given a little more complexity in accessing and developing it, it's a much richer resource than oil.

Once you've got that far, it isn't a step too far to talk about space - i know it's a bit of a leap, but bear with me: given that in order to maintain a technological civilization post PO, we have to assume we're going to be using a technology that is both more efficient and more sophisticated - requiring better engineering to do more with less. Apply that concept to space, and you can imagine that we might pursue some of the less energy expensive, but more complex systems that are already being studied - electromagnetic rail launchers, space elevators, solar sails, gravity slingshots, and etc.

History has examples of civilization falling into disrepair, even as technology improves. In fact, that's probably a fairly consistent story in human past - a technological break through, followed by a resulting period of prosperity, then a fall, as the new tech enables resources to be over-exploited. While the primary civilization disappears or changes, it's the tech that usually survives the collapse, to become something new and often times more powerful than before.

So anyway, this is roughly my reasoning when talking about space and resources in terms of PO. It isn't that I was proposing a nitty gritty solution, although I do think that there could be a role for space inside a discussion of the nitty gritty solution - I don't rule it out like some do. I suppose that clashes to some extend with the status quo around here, but I'm not sure that's so bad. I mean, when I ask people what they think can be done about PO, mostly it's nuthin', save your own skin, change your life, etc. Well, if they want to skin me alive for suggesting their might be some purpose for technology in the near term, and that we might even be able to look at a long term future in terms of tech, well that's fine too. But the question of "what can actually work" ought not to rule out ideas at prima facie for risk of missing a more subtle set of thoughts beneath. This is precisely BAU that no-one likes in the bit wide open - ignore or attack anything that makes us think outside of our comfortable zone.

This is an old drumbeat now, but I'll tag on a final comment. Because I appreciate where you're coming from, I really do, in all senses of "appreciate". Heavens, out of college I was pushing for L5 colony ships or moves in that direction, because it wasn't clear which way human society was gonna go. It was a huge longshot then if it was even possible, but I'd grown up making rockets, met von Braun and other notables, cut my teeth on sci-fi, saw us get from first manned launch to man on the moon in a decade, and was a proud science and space nerd. Still am at heart.

Nor was I all talk. In the following 3+ decades I kept trying to do long-shot stuff, often high-tech, and spent a lot of time getting things done in the real world. That required additional perspectives and strategies. When I ran across this group of commenters more or less by accident in 2005 or so, it was the best fit I'd seen: I don't comment elsewhere, nor do I do much internettery at all. My focus is how to design and move high-stakes programs forward in a complex world; how to steer the outcomes of complex system interactions. Usually I fail, sometimes I succeed; this week I have insomnia so I'm here since I'm good for little else. But my backstory is a bit like a James Bond character, for good or ill.

My point is that in reading some of your other comments, the position you're putting forward - if I may try to summarize - is that yeah, the odds are against getting complex and unlikely things done, but if we don't we're hosed. Therefore, you think the attitudes of many posters here are stuck in a bit of a rut.

I can't speak for all of them, but for me, subjecting proposals to really brutal testing is one way of coming up with a real-world approach. Time is short, as I think you'd agree. If a plan can be shown to be unworkable, it's a blessing: on to the next plan until you find one with a reasonable chance of succeeding in the real world. If you personally decide to strive in such a direction, I think you'll find the real-time peer review here to be quite valuable. it can be good to hang out and listen a bit, and you may find that there's unexpected depth among the commenters here; and that many share your hopes.

If you post on this site that you wish something were so, you're likely to get little disagreement. If you post saying you know a way to make it happen, you'll get feedback which won't always be what you hoped to hear.


much appreciated. i was genuine, and I do appreciate the feedback. It's not so much that I was saying: let's all go to space, as if such and such happens, space is a possibility - pure speculation. i never said I knew how, just that space was a conceivable future.

My interest is media/perception, and of course mitigating the effect of our foolish human trajectory - like many here. So believe me, my ears are pricked up, and I appreciate the depth of people on this site. Much appreciated.

From what I've found on the Net about the Space Elevator, I doubt that the people working on the concept are first rate scientists.
And there's the problem. It's BAU, and no-one is willing to defy the current paradigm of 'plenty to burn'.

Or it could be that actual knowledgeable people in the topic looked at the actual work and energy needed and decided it was not going to work.

See TOD discussion on battery powered 100+HP tractors and the recuring space based PV panels.


There's a reason for being a pessimist. The problem is not the technology itself, but it's use. I am sure if human beings were rational, we'd keep our population to below 2 billion. We could have then enjoyed limitless energy, maybe we could have then harvested enough energy to break the restraints that Earth puts on us, go to outer space, build the Dyson sphere and eventually harvest more energy than what we can only imagine in our dreams today. But as it stands today technology is just allowing us to keep pace with the population and demand. All these fantastic ideas even if tangible will only extend BAU and complicate matters further down the line.


As you say, there's a reason for being a pessimist: to make a real assessment of our current situation. But now that you've identified the problem, where is the pessimist solution?

So we've made a lot of mistakes, and we're probably doomed. I'm not arguing with that view. But is the solution to just repeat: we're doomed, we're doomed, over and over again? In what ways might we not be doomed, is the exercise I'm putting to you.

You say proposing new tech to solve our problems only extends BAU - so what do you propose, extinction? Yes, that will stop BAU, but then there's not much point in showing up at this site to talk about it - why not just kill yourself now?

Or, maybe we should we go back to the medieval age, ride horses, and build castles of rock? I'm OK with that too, why not? Sounds like fun, and it's certainly sustainable, until we get smacked with a space rock or a supervolcano goes off.

But we're obviously playing a bigger game than that. As far as energy and technology, we've only tapped the surface of what's possible - needless to point out how much raw EM energy is pumped out by the massive fission reactor out our solar system's core - all teh fossils we use are just leftover drippings of that monster. We are reaching limits of our current BAU, but the big mistake in my view would be to stop thinking big and stop pushing our imaginations - to scoff, or land in the pessimist camp and say "oh well, it was fun, time to die now". Why do that? It's a high stakes game, why fold when there's still a chance of pulling out the ace?

For certain the pessimist view is valuable in order to assess the reality of our situation. But the big mistake we can make IMO is to end our thought process there. It's too late for that mentality. We know too much and have extended ourselves too far to retract now. There's no way to put everything back in the box. It's either we adapt and change, and go bigger and better, or else give up. It's easy to look at the world as it is, decry BAU, and give up. I'm simply proposing that that is a cowardly stand.

So I disagree that 'fantastic ideas' are proposed in order to extend BAU. Everything I've proposed would be a substantial break from BAU: a massive effort towards sustainable tech in energy and production is, to me, the best possible solution. I'm aware that we are going to use 'all of the above', including coal and tar sands and etc, and that it's going to be a dirty, hungry century. But what comes after that? How do we survive.

We're playing a big, big game. We either push the limits of our imagination to come up with a new world, or we die in a big nasty mess. I don't think anything should be off the table, however fantastical. And nothing I've suggested in this thread is impossible - just challenging. Hell, a lot of it is or could be under development. It's pessimism and BAU that gets in the way.

But is the solution to just repeat: we're doomed, we're doomed, over and over again? In what ways might we not be doomed, is the exercise I'm putting to you.

No, the solution is to ask people to change their habits or get them to change it by force, it will have a more dramatic effect rather than investing in tech. I am with James Lovelock here, we need an efficient dictatorship if we gotta bring things under control soon.

Edit: No one's saying humanity will end, technological breakthroughs will continue albeit at a slower pace, maybe a better civilization will emerge out of this mess, one which will know how to circumvent the limitations of human brain.

"Powering the climbers would be a big challenge [...]"

How about ground based lasers?

Ground based lasers could provide intense beams of photons, which might be able to target the climber as it ascends 22k miles overhead, but I doubt they could hold the focus over those long distances. My basic problem is with the mass ratio of the on board climber power system which would convert those photons to the mechanical power needed to lift the entire mass, as I outlined in my previous post. The climber contests were able to demonstrate that a climber with no payload can climb a short distance, but that's not the same as saying a climber can lift a payload over a much greater distance within a reasonable time period...

E. Swanson

Also those climbers have been really slow. How long (assuming a landpath existed) do you think it would take a man to walk around the earth? And the ones I've seen on the telly are a lot slower than walking speed.

Focussed microwave beams then? There are reports that claim space based solar PV can send it's back to earth by microwave beams. Surely these can carry enough power to move a payload...

I don't get the science fiction novels criticism. Most of our modern technology appeared in science fiction before it was commonplace. Submarines and rockets and tv - why scoff? I don't think space exploration and mining is as unrealistic as you make it sound.

And what planet are we going to mine? An asteroid perhaps.

Probably asteroids - they are much richer in precious metals, therefore require much less ore. Here:

At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1] In fact, all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium and tungsten that we now mine from the Earth's crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that hit the Earth after the crust cooled.[2][3][4] This is because, while asteroids and the Earth congealed from the same starting materials, Earth's massive gravity pulled all such siderophilic (iron loving) elements into the planet's core during its molten youth more than four billion years ago[5]. Initially, this left the crust utterly depleted of such valuable elements[6]. Asteroid impacts re-infused the depleted crust with metals.
A comparatively small M-type asteroid with a mean diameter of 1 km could contain more than two billion metric tons of iron-nickel ore,[7] or two to three times the annual production for 2004.[8] The asteroid 16 Psyche is believed to contain 1.7×1019 kg of nickel-iron, which could supply the 2004 world production requirement for several million years. A small portion of the extracted material would also contain precious metals.

Point is, space is a richer 'surface' for mining than the planet earth.

And if it's heat you needed for smelting, there's plenty of that in space - no need to turn it to electricity first, just focus some EM radiation into a smelting chamber - the sun burns 24/7 :)

Sure there would have to be supply chains and new infrastructure involved between various depots and refinement and processing plants, and no doubt none of it would be powered by fossil fuels. However, nothing said about space mining and exploration is any less possible than our current surface drilling/mining technology based civilization. It's just more complex, and larger in scope.

The whole thing is conjecture, but so are a lot of subjects on this site. The question is: is it likely, worthwhile conjecture, or is it unlikely, and useless to even talk about such possibilities. Well, if everything collapses and we drop the bomb and the planet dies, none of it is worth talking about. But if we do somehow survive our current stupid predicament with our tech and civ intact, then space exploration and exploitation is highly likely to happen - in fact it's inevitable.

More importantly, the promise of space exploration may very well be a part and parcel of an effort to transition into a new age of industrial production and energy technology - perhaps as an alternative to war, for example. So IMO I don't think talking about energy and resources from off-planet deserve scorn or derision. Obviously it shouldn't be more important than talking about the oil patch, or the finances of Europe, which are more present realities, but it shouldn't be treated as pure foolishness either, Mr Darwinian.


I don't get the science fiction novels criticism. Most of our modern technology appeared in science fiction before it was commonplace.

TehChromic, exactly what does that imply? It seems that you are saying that what is, or was science fiction will obviously one day become reality. Not by a long shot. Will Scotty ever be able to beam up Captain Kirk? Will we soon be traveling to other solar systems via warp speed, getting there in a matter of hours? It's science fiction Chromic, and nothing more. The vast, vast majority of the fiction in science fiction novels will never become reality.

At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.

A small asteroid only about 1 mile in diameter no less. Now we just have to get that little booger back to earth.

Chromic, you need to come down to earth. Peak oil and other resource depletion is happening right now. It will have devastating effects in this decade. What you are proposing will not happen in this century. Anyway talking about what could happen if only we put trillions of dollars into space exploration in order to find a few rare earth elements we need for technology is just silly, a total waste of time. It is the stuff of science fiction. We are dealing with reality here, not silly science fiction.

More importantly, the promise of space exploration may very well be a part and parcel of an effort to transition into a new age of industrial production and energy technology -

No it will not! Unmanned space exploration has gained us a hundredfold more information about the universe than manned exploration ever has. The future of space exploration will be with unmanned spacecraft. It will be the search for information about the universe, not the search for minerals to be mined. Manned space exploration is in its death throws. It is too expensive for the meager returns it has given us.

And believing that we will be huge smelters on other planets is pure foolishenss Mr. tehChromic or whatever your name is.

Ron P.


Well, this proves my theory that if you and I go back and forth enough we end up agreeing:

Unmanned space exploration has gained us a hundredfold more information about the universe than manned exploration ever has.

Right, if you go back through what I've said, you'll see that I never said we'd have to put people out there to make space mining possible.

Anyway talking about what could happen if only we put trillions of dollars into space exploration in order to find a few rare earth elements we need for technology is just silly, a total waste of time.

Now here we definitely disagree. There's more watts passing through a square meter of space in near earth orbit each day than is contained in a barrel or oil (ok roughly speaking). How is that not interesting to the topic of energy resources? Oh sure, it requires an incredible amount of infrastructure (and rare metals) to tap that supply, but damn it, that's what we're talking about, ain't it? What is the subject here if it isn't resources and energy?!?

It's all well and good to moan about the coming collapse, but if it's off limits to talk about any alternatives, however narrow their window of potentiality, well then, it's all off so good night sir! blow out the candle, talking at all is a waste of time!

Right, if you go back through what I've said, you'll see that I never said we'd have to put people out there to make space mining possible.

You mean you propose to do it all with robotics? Now you are wading really deep into science fiction. It is one thing to program a Mars Rover to stop when it encounters a huge bolder, or a chasm too big to cross. But doing all the intricate things required to build a smelter and mining operation on a distant planet? Then you must load the finished product on a craft that must leave that planet and...??? Really now?

It's all well and good to moan about the coming collapse, but if it's off limits to talk about any alternatives, however narrow their window of potentiality, well then, it's all off so good night sir! blow out the candle, talking at all is a waste of time!

Oh come on, get real! Talking about robots mining other planets as an alternative to oil? There are a lot of things governments can do to try to mitigate the coming decline of fossil energy but the robotic mining of space is not one of them. We are talking about what must happen this decade, not the next century.

Ron P.

Darwin, robotics is happening across industry with automated systems replacing people all over. Computers are doubling in power every 18mos, with no end in sight. Even most mining is controlled or assisted by automated systems, especially in remote or hostile locations like deep water - why wouldn't it be the same in space?

The heavy elements we use in solar panels and advanced electronics are abundant in space. So is the solar energy itself. What's missing is incentive to exploit these resources - in other words, shortage down here on the terra firma, which is what we're about here on TOD. Personally I don't see why we can't discuss developing our presence in space as a way to mitigate the impending resource crisis. As a matter of fact, this is already being done I think. See SpaceX, and what's going on with private space cos and new tech and etc. Should we do more and fund it? IMO, yes! In yours no. That's a reasonable debate. Just not sure why I get flames of derision from you for saying my part.

Also, why are we limited to talking about the next 10 years here at TOD? and this:

Then you must load the finished product on a craft that must leave that planet and...??? Really now?

Now you know I said asteroid would be more likely. Anyway, good chatting, I'm done on this one.


C'mon now. If it hasn't already been done then it's impossible, right? ;-)

You are correct sir!

Darwin, robotics is happening across industry with automated systems replacing people all over. Computers are doubling in power every 18mos, with no end in sight.

Yes robotics are replacing people on assembly lines everywhere. They do repetitive jobs such as spot welding. Computers can even play chess. But a computer cannot do a single thing that it has not been programmed to do. You need people to handle unexpected problems, especially problems that have never been encountered before. In a mining operation you will have hundreds of such problems every day.

And no, computer power is no longer doubling every 18 months. It takes a bit longer than that now. And the end of Moore's law is in sight, or at least Gordon Moore says it is. Moore's Law is dead, says Gordon Moore Anyway Moore's law is all about making computers faster and more powerful. That has happened but computers are no closer to solving problems never encountered before, or problems man never imagined the computer would encounter than it was when Moore penned his law.

Anyway, good chatting, I'm done on this one.

Yeah, I always enjoy chatting with people who believe there is no limit to what we can really do if only we put our mind to it. I once took a Napoleon Hill motivation course. Their motto was: "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Those words really inspired me then. It took me many years before I figured out they were totally Bull$hit. Sure some people can imagine their goal and with great effort achieve it. But for every one that makes it there are a hundred who do not. For every Donald Trump or Warren Buffet there are at least a hundred poor blokes who dreamed big and gave it their all and failed.

But nice chatting with you also. Bye now.

Ron P.

I like your attitude.

Agreed that conventional limits of silicon fab are coming up - but there are new horizons for fab opening up, not to mention new paradigms - in mircro-tech, unlike in fossils, unconventional really can open whole new worlds.

Anyway, let me lay my argument out for you, then you go off in a huff if you feel like it:

Ask anyone here including our hardest fossil heads, and they'll tell you - the immediate future is using all resources we have - oil, coal, etc., because that's the only way to avoid real catastrophe, if that is actually possible. But then, next most important thing is renewable energy - wind, geo, solar - there's no denying that, in the long run, energy either comes from renewable sources, or not at all. So we use all our conventional energy, and we start building our renewable energy infrastructure. And so the hardest rock men we've got will also tell us that the best thing we could do right now is go manhattan project, WW2 type, all out motivational speaker style, because that's our best, probably only bet, for avoiding social/economic catastrophe AND ecological catastrophe. Any regular here with a good head would agree with that.

OK, so what's the result of a massive push for renewable energy infrastructure? Peak metals and heavy elements. Limits on these resources will approach more rapidly, since we're running out of those just like Oil. Well, we can't get more fossil fuels, but we can get more energy from renewables, provided we get more of those other things. Where can we get them you ask? Only two places: space, and deep in the earth's crust. Those are our two options - if you've got another, put it on the table, I'm all ears - isn't that reality?

OK so we either go deep in the earth's crust, or out into space. Those are the only two places where we can get the metals, elements and whatnot we need for such a complex infrastructure required by solar and geo thermal and etc. Space is the only real option between these two, because digging deep into the crust is just as nasty on the biosphere as what we've got, plus it's gotta be as great, if not more of a technical feat to get heavy elements out from down there, than from upstairs.

Now, that's a real reality. It might sound like Sci-fi to you, but now here's a theory: the future always does look a bit improbable to the past. So, although it isn't a doomsday reality, it is probably the only reality that is feasible, that is not a doomsday scenario.

If we want to survive in a technically advanced civilization, we're going to have to go to space. That's reality from any pragmatic, practical, and well-meaning point of view. Other points of view might be more accurate: we're all going to die in a horrible collapse, for example! But if that is the only assumption we are allowed to make here, then what's the point of visiting an online forum to discuss reality at all? Why not just go raping and pillaging in the streets while there's time to enjoy it?

Assuming you come here for a reasoned, practical debate, then it's sensible to let reasonable practical realities into the debate, even if they challenge the status quo as we know it. Anyway, enjoy the debate.

Solar thermal doesn't require exotic metals to provide needed energy. Low temperature solar water and space heating are already less expensive than electricity in many parts of the US and it's rather simple to store low temperature thermal energy for periods without sunlight. In addition, polysilicone PV doesn't require lots of exotic metals either, AIUI. Your post also appears to ignore the history of space flight, which is, it takes a considerable amount of energy and expense to exit the "gravity well" within which we live. Your call for "practical debate" is great, maybe you should start being practical...

E. Swanson


You are right, 'low' tech can do a lot. Also, there's some hope that exotic metals can be replaced by new forms of simpler compounds and elements. However, what about regular metals - tin, aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, silver and etc? What about high tech, computers, superconductors, and etc, where rare earth elements are used extensively? It is exactly these areas of new technology and renewable energy where progress will be most needed and limits will be felt first. However these resources are plentiful in asteroids.

Also, the history of space flight is rockets. There are more efficient ways to escape the gravity well, and to get around in space, for example rail launchers, solar EMR propulsion, plasma thrusters, and gravity slingshots. Space mining accomplished with automated machinery launched in high speed electric rails, and powered by solar energy is very well be feasible, if full of engineering challenges.

It may not be immediately practical to talk about space mining as a way to mitigate peak oil, but I don't think that was the original intention. The original point was that peak minerals and elements might spur exploitation of resources in space. I don't see how that's an impractical topic.

The idea of mining asteroids seems to me very impractical, and talking about it being "very well feasible" is happy-talk.

What kind of investment are you talking about? Where is the money and energy going to come from? What would the price of the minerals in question have to be to make it profitable?

I think the very notion is a denial of the notion of living within limits, and just another brand of wishful thinking. And an unhelpful distraction from dealing realistically with the problems we face.


well, I guess it would be "happy-talk" if i didn't consistently say that we're not likely to get there given the current reality of PO and BAU.

But I guess it's OK to talk about big ideas and visions, if the alternative is going extinct. Why not, what's to lose?

The kind of investment I'm talking about is the same kind that we talk about when we talk about a massive investment away from BAU, fossils, and inefficient, unsustainable lifestyles. In other words, a challenge of engineering and technology, as well a feat of finance and ingenuity. However, a lot of very serious companies and people are talking about just this kind of investment in space, just as they are talking about it in renewable energy. I'm not saying this makes it likely to happen, given our circumstances, but it isn't by any means pure happy-talk as some commentators would like to make it out.

Investment in solar energy, and improved efficiency and therefore technical complexity and capacity would both spur and form the groundwork for any investment in space mining. Just as there was little demand for oil before we learned to burn it, building the infrastructure required for renewable energy would create abundant demand for metals and rare earths and various minerals that are already quite expensive and limited in supply. Here's a bit about the potential yield from asteroid mining - hype, yes, but keep in mind, that's hype and investment go hand in hand:

Part of the issue is that mining in space would require planning and engineering on a longer timescale than we're used to. However, when talking about a regular space mining supply chain, I'm assuming a big shift in our current production paradigm - away from the burn it all now mentality, and towards a more slow and efficient process that uses in situo energy sources or propulsion methods - like solar or thermal or even gravity - instead of piping fossil fuels into everything. In the short run that's a more complex system, requiring more engineering and planning. In the long run it's terribly more efficient. This is just about the definition of a sustainable energy system. And it isn't going to be a top down imposition of rules and regulations, but rather a natural and organic result of hard limits on the increasingly complex, technical culture we live in.

So, that said, here's a vision of a cheap way to get payloads, including all the components of automated mining systems to space. It's not invisible pink unicorns, it's merely an engineering challenge.

Now I know some folks just don't think automated mining is possible in space, but keep in mind, much of our mining is currently automated. Automation is to space exploration as boats are to seafaring.

I do appreciate your point that "the very notion is a denial of the notion of living within limits, and just another brand of wishful thinking". Believe me, I doubt we will survive our current foolish predicament. However, I would like to hear a rational and pragmatic solution put forward by someone who thinks that "dealing realistically with the problems we face" doesn't include dealing with limits to materials and energy. I'm bothered that the attitude of many is to flame ideas that seem outside of BAU, at the same time as they clearly consider BAU to be entirely unsustainable.

So let me ask you, how do you define "living within our limits" given that with 7billion and counting, we're already living well, well beyond our limits? What's your solution? Or do you generally just think it's all over and we should go back to living in caves or go extinct? (If you do, that's fine, I agree it's damn likely). Please refocus me from my wishful distraction and explain how we are going to practically solve the problem of material and energy limits.

Rather a massive post to respond to, but...

"But I guess it's OK to talk about big ideas and visions, if the alternative is going extinct."

IF. Fortunately, it isn't, and the survival of the human race doesn't depend on extracting REE from asteroids and transporting them to Earth. That's just a flat-out false framing of the situation.

"In other words, a challenge of engineering and technology, as well a feat of finance and ingenuity."

As well as a challenge to the laws of thermodynamics, economics, and common sense.

"Part of the issue is that mining in space would require planning and engineering on a longer timescale than we're used to."

Than we're used to? Than we're capable of. Who's "we", anyway? And think of the realities of corporate governance and electoral cycles.

"So, that said, here's a vision of a cheap way to get payloads, including all the components of automated mining systems to space. It's not invisible pink unicorns, it's merely an engineering challenge."

Your link didn't work for me, but if it was space elevators, it's pretty much the invisible pink unicorns, for reasons already presented in this thread and many more.

"However, I would like to hear a rational and pragmatic solution put forward by someone who thinks that "dealing realistically with the problems we face" doesn't include dealing with limits to materials and energy."

I would, too. Another false framing. Dealing realistically with limits to materials and energy is what we're all talking about! Space mining sure isn't one of the pragmatic solutions.

"I'm bothered that the attitude of many is to flame ideas that seem outside of BAU, at the same time as they clearly consider BAU to be entirely unsustainable."

You don't seem to understand that your ideas are exactly in the thrust of BAU - more and more grandiose projects to maintain a certain lifestyle, rather than facing up to the fact that we can't do 7 billions on this planet sustainably.

"What's your solution?"

I don't have a "solution", which doesn't make your proposals any more reasonable. The whole point is that there is no "solution". There may or may not be many adaptations, but they won't be "solutions" to the "problem" of maintaining BAU for 7 billion humans on Earth, if that's how you see the "problem".

Practically speaking, I imagine that in time we will find ways to hugely increase energy-use efficiency, we will develop a range of alternative sources of energy, appropriate to locale, we will localize a lot of things, we will find other ways to get our strokes besides owning the latest gadget so we can notify our "friends" of our trivial doings 24/7, and so on. And one way or the other, population will be reduced. Hopefully by simply reducing birth rates. That is a wan hope, though.

I feel like it's deja vu all over again. We went through this whole thing in the 1970's with G.K. O'Neill's "Space Colonies". It was over-hyped fantasy then, and it's fantasy now.

Not a bad response. Here's what sticks out to me:

First, I don't know why you and others distort my position - I don't recall saying anything about "Space Colonies". I feel like there's a subtle point here that's being missed. It's like if you tried to describe deep water drilling to me and I said "Nonsense, no one will ever live under the ocean, laughable fantasies". Also I didn't say that the survival of the human race depended on Asteroid mining, i consistently said the opposite, just as you and others consistently refused to understand the more subtle point I was making.

The whole point is that there is no "solution".

To me this sums up the POV of a certain element of the PO crew. It's pure frustration, and it's understandable. I don't think 7 billion people are sustainable either, with or without expanding our energy and material sources, for the same reason as you. However, it is possible that I am wrong, so I'm willing to consider that. There may not be a solution, but why bother discussing our near or long term future, if not exactly to discuss potential solutions, given that we both agree the current state is going to break down?

FYI my link was to rail launchers that NASA is looking at - basically electric launchers that push payload into space - something like a rail gun. Breaks no laws of physics mind you, but does put things in space cheaply.

Practically speaking, I imagine that in time we will find ways to hugely increase energy-use efficiency, we will develop a range of alternative sources of energy, appropriate to locale, we will localize a lot of things, we will find other ways to get our strokes besides owning the latest gadget so we can notify our "friends" of our trivial doings 24/7, and so on. And one way or the other, population will be reduced. Hopefully by simply reducing birth rates. That is a wan hope, though.

Good by me, I can appreciate this reality based vision of the future. If you look back over my posts, I think you'll see I agree with this POV almost entirely. The only exception I've made, is to point out that developing a range of alternative sources of energy, appropriate to locale, might include space based solar arrays, and even mining ops. I said "might", but I think in the long term, it "will" be done. The reason I think so, is that I don't think technology is going to go back into its hole, and that if anything can mitigate the inevitable result of overextended human population, it will be emerging technology, which leads me to:

we will find other ways to get our strokes besides owning the latest gadget so we can notify our "friends" of our trivial doings 24/7, and so on.

I appreciate the bitter tone here - our use of technology to communicate is somewhat absurd on the surface. But below the surface I think there are large paradigmatic shifts going on in culture, and that these are largely revolving around exactly these technologies that are so easily derided as superficial. For example, telecommuting could massively offset energy costs of commuting as gas prices inevitably rise. Gaming is being traced to a drop in crime rates. Organizing and political consensus, including Arab Spring, OWS, are allowing new political coalitions to form. Education: the method of controlling fertility rates without draconian legislation is education. Do you want to stop population growth on a dime? Education is your ticket, and technology is opening education and awareness in a massive, unprecedented way.

So I appreciate that you aren't really sure how the next 50 to 100 years will play out, or what will be involved. It seems likely to me and most people around here, that shortages and wars are likely. However it is worth exploring some other concepts as well, however purely speculative they may be. I guess I stand up for my point of view here, against all comers, because even if what I'm saying reflects a break from BAU, I believe that we can imagine possibilities for the end of BAU that are optimistic, as well as those that are pessimistic.

Dealing realistically with limits to materials and energy is what we're all talking about! Space mining sure isn't one of the pragmatic solutions.

Says you. But why not? We're running low on materials and energy. In space there are plenty of both. And yet, there's just no way we can possible access them without access to more materials and energy - we're trapped in a catch 22 eh?

You don't seem to understand that your ideas are exactly in the thrust of BAU - more and more grandiose projects to maintain a certain lifestyle, rather than facing up to the fact that we can't do 7 billions on this planet sustainably.

Well, you refuse to understand that it can be both: we can have grandiose projects and plans, and we can't sustain 7 billion on this planet. Understand me: I'm not trying to maintain "a certain lifestyle" - that was never my point. As a matter of fact I bike everywhere I go and grow veggies in my front yard and keep a goat. I'm pointing out that a sustainable lifestyle and high technology may very well be extraordinarily compatible. So pardon me if I've broken your nice model of civilization's collapse - i'm hoping for the best of both worlds is all :) cheers!

"First, I don't know why you and others distort my position - I don't recall saying anything about "Space Colonies"."

I didn't say that it was your position, I only mentioned it in passing at the end of my post that it reminded me of a similar pipe dream 35 years ago. Not fair to say I was distorting your position.

"Also I didn't say that the survival of the human race depended on Asteroid mining,"

Actually, you pretty much did: 'But I guess it's OK to talk about big ideas and visions, if the alternative is going extinct.' Your words in defending your boosterism for space mining.

"There may not be a solution, but why bother discussing our near or long term future, if not exactly to discuss potential solutions, given that we both agree the current state is going to break down? "

If you think about what I said, I wasn't advocating giving up and living in caves or whatever ridiculous trope the cornucopians trot out. I said there won't be a grandiose techno-solution, but that there were many other avenues of adaptation.

Wasting time, attention, and extremely limited resources on space mining is not helpful.

"Breaks no laws of physics mind you, but does put things in space cheaply."

When? Not breaking the laws of physics does not equate to will ever work in the real world.

"I appreciate the bitter tone here "

That wasn't bitter - that was disgusted.

"Says you. But why not? We're running low on materials and energy. In space there are plenty of both. And yet, there's just no way we can possible access them without access to more materials and energy - we're trapped in a catch 22 eh?"

Bingo! When it takes more energy and resources to go into space and get that energy and resources, it's no go. So yes, says I, and most everyone who has at least a minimal grasp of thermodynamics.

"So pardon me if I've broken your nice model of civilization's collapse "

I almost said something unprintable here. The notion that people who think your technocornucopian fantasy is just that don't think that way to protect some model of collapse. And your conflation of rejection of space mining with a rejection of technology is disingenuous in the extreme.

For a start, I don't have a nice model of collapse, and your condescending nonsense is absurd. And if I did, which I don't, you certainly haven't made any case for breaking it.

Bingo! When it takes more energy and resources to go into space and get that energy and resources, it's no go. So yes, says I, and most everyone who has at least a minimal grasp of thermodynamics.

Oh no, not more energy and resources. The limit isn't thermodynamics, it's investment and imagination.

Anyway, i like "technocornucopian fantasy". I mean, that's what we're currently living in. I agree with you that it isn't going to last, but I think it is likely that if we do manage to pull through, that we'll end up with a much larger technocornucopian fantasy in the works - there's nothing technically impossible about it, and technology is hard to put back in its box! And I'm not even advocating it, I just think it's a likely outcome, provided we survive our current predicament, which is unlikely.

Anyway, it's been a hoot, not sure how it's devolved into almost printing unprintable words, yikes! heh, that's OK, enjoyed it, cheers.

Yeah, a real hoot. You twist, you turn, you disavow what you said in earlier posts, you accuse others of misrepresenting what you clearly said while misrepresenting what they said. You seem like a troll, in which case, shame on both of us.


no shame needed. I've posted sincerely. Nothing wrong with strong feelings. I objected mainly to people saying that technologies like rail launchers and solar sails are impossible, or that space based mining or energy collection violates the laws of physics. I agree with the consensus that it isn't likely that we'll develop in space due to logistical/PO/economic constraints, but the thing I've consistently said is that it isn't necessary to categorically rule out discussions of high technology, or advancing it in applied settings like space, just because it isn't likely. I've objected to ridiculing discussion of the advancement of technology as a means to mitigate PO and etc.

If you think i've misrepresented you, or if I've upset you, pardon me.

The scarcer metals are all substitutable. The reason they are put into todays designs is that they are cheap enough that it optimizes current efficiency and cost performance. Once those elements become pricier, we will shift to slightly less optimized designs.

Hmm, maybe, depends on what you are talking about. Can we replace copper, tin, lead? What about in electronics, high tech stuff like super conductors. What about new materials technology that is increasingly complex. I dunno, could be you are right.

"And so the hardest rock men we've got will also tell us that the best thing we could do right now is go manhattan project, WW2 type, all out motivational speaker style, because that's our best, probably only bet, for avoiding social/economic catastrophe AND ecological catastrophe. Any regular here with a good head would agree with that."

Perhaps not. I'm pretty much in agreement with Greer on this one:

He insisted that just as the United States was able to crush the Axis powers in the Second World War, a mobilization on a similar scale guided by the same optimism and can-do attitude could overwhelm any conceivable petroleum shortage and crash the price of oil. It’s a common metaphor—how many times have people in the peak oil scene, for example, called for a new Manhattan Project?—but in the present context it’s hopelessly misleading.

We're pretty much stuck with doing the hard work of changing our minds regarding our roll in this reality drama (comedy? tragedy?), rethinking our sense of entitlement, our hubris, our goals, needs, wants. It's not about what we do; it's about who we are.

We're pretty much stuck with doing the hard work of changing our minds regarding our roll in this reality drama (comedy? tragedy?), rethinking our sense of entitlement, our hubris, our goals, needs, wants. It's not about what we do; it's about who we are.

So your alternative to a WW2 mobilization towards sustainable energy and production is a personal soul searching? Hmm, well, considering that a WW2 mobilization would include a redefinition of our lifestyle, as well as an all out push for transforming our energy infrastructure towards renewable sources, I don't see your point.

The Greer article is good, i've read it, but here's the issue i have with everyone who's scoffed at what I've said in this post: I never said that we have a good chance of surviving, or that some great technological solution is going to rescue us from the folly of the last 100. What I said was that, given that there is any chance at all that our civilization can survive the next hundred years with our technology intact, it will be in our best interest to exploit space for resources and energy.

Greer says this about our grandiose plans to stave of big changes to BAU:

None of them will have worked, because none of them will deal with the driving force behind that spiral of crisis—the hard fact that we’ve exhausted most of the easily extracted, highly concentrated energy sources on this planet, and are going to have to downscale our expectations and our collective sense of entitlement to fit within the narrower and more burdensome limits that dependence on renewable energy sources will impose on us

I agree with Greer. But remember, his point is that our plans to stave off changes to BAU will fail. What I've suggested in this thread is not to preserve BAU, but to change it radically. I've simply pointed out the fact that, while our "easily extracted, highly concentrated energy sources on this planet" are limited, in outer space these same resources are virtually unlimited.

I agree that we "are going to have to downscale our expectations and our collective sense of entitlement to fit within the narrower and more burdensome limits that dependence on renewable energy sources will impose on us", and I agree that even such austere self imposition is not likely to save us. HOWEVER, should we be able to succeed in imposing discipline on ourselves, it is possible that a new technological renaissance might take us into space, where the materials, and the energy resources are, in comparison to timescales and scope down here on earth, quite limitless.

I'm not sure why that is such a difficult point to convey to this audience. I'll leave one last point, and it's to the idea that "we’ve exhausted most of the easily extracted, highly concentrated energy sources on this planet" -- Greer is right, but only in the sense of BAU. It's an old point that more energy in the form of sunlight falls on the planet in 20 days, than the amount of all fossils every used or buried. That's a highly concentrated energy source. But Greer's point holds, because that energy isn't easy to extract. It requires a high-tech infrastructure, and a concerted effort of science and industry to develop it. We drag our feet because it would require a shift in BAU. But I don't think Greer or anyone else really thinking on this topic would argue against dong that. Rather Greer was pointing out that any plans we make that resist changing BAU will fail, he was not recommending we don't take dramatic action to change our energy sources.

HOWEVER, should we be able to succeed in imposing discipline on ourselves, it is possible that a new technological renaissance might take us into space, where the materials, and the energy resources are, in comparison to timescales and scope down here on earth, quite limitless.

I'm not sure why that is such a difficult point to convey to this audience.

It's not that people don't understand what you're saying, rather that people disagree with it. You can restate nonsense all you like, but it will still be nonsense. The idea that there are more materials and energy resources in space to support us than there are here on earth is absurd on the face of it. The costs of getting to resources in space far outweigh the benefits of getting them, and energy in space is far more diffuse than it is on Earth.

We are not going to the stars, we make it here or we don't make it. In the end we will perish with our planet, but far more likely we won't last that long. We are all temporary, both as individuals and as a species, which is why it makes more sense to focus on living lives of quality, within our limits, rather than trying to deny limits like a child.

Also, I believe you've rather completely misrepresented Greer's ideas.


OK fine, if it's nonsense to you then it's nonsense. I don't see why. We've gone to space, we still go to space, and as long as the technology improves we'll get better at going to space. Why such pure bitterness at the idea of a new frontier of exploration and resources? I'm not quite sure I understand why it's 'nonsense'. Is it nonsense to suggest that we might go to the bottom of the ocean, or to the moon, or Mars? Nothing I've suggested is impossible, or even necessarily impractical, yet you say "nonsense" and "We are not going to the stars" - who said anything about going to the stars?!? I said asteroid mining might be feasible, some day, and so might exploiting space for energy resources. I said "might be possible and worthwhile", given the right conditions. Jeziz, there's a space station orbiting our planet right now, and probes on the way to Mars and Pluto and the moon of Jupiter. Why "nonsense"?

Also, if you think I'm misrepresenting something you ought to say how or why. Otherwise it just sounds like you're sniping.

I think the 'Impractical' should be pretty clear to anyone, which is why this extended discussion has become, IMO offensively out of place here, and people's irritation with it entirely understandable..

What we have put out in space is amazing and inspiring to me, but it's fantastically limited in terms of mass, while what you've suggested would require great numbers of people, robotic tools and their supporting supplies and environmental needs to have anything of this sort happen.

That Space Station has taken a decade of heavy investment from multiple countries, and supports a handful of people. The Mars probes, even the new one, are a few tons of payload.. we would need hundreds of tons just of O2 and Water, not to mention just hundreds of other things.. be they to support People or Machines. The theoretical feasibility is just miles away from any practical or economic feasibility.

"this extended discussion has become, IMO offensively out of place here"

pardon me, I didn't know it was offensive - this is a discussion board isn't it? I thought it was warming up.

and just one last thing - if Darwinian and others had technical or practical points to make, they made them. Had they had good facts and made good arguments, the discussion would have revolved around those. If my point was indeed so deeply silly, they could have said, well, it might not be possible, and here are some reasons, and that would have ended it.

But instead they had to flame the topic by calling it unicorns and flying pigs, and acting like the possibility of mining in space was some deep, masturbatory fantasy, when it is clearly under serious preliminary consideration by gov't and private industry alike. That's a bit insulting, if you're looking for offense, so I stood up for my point of view, even as I continued to acknowledge that it wasn't altogether likely to happen, and that it wouldn't do anything for PO near term (or long term for that matter). Read over the posts if you don't believe me.

This has been a long detour built on a premise that is too unlikely to really bother to entertain.. that, to me is 'a bit' offensive since it distracts people from exploring directions with which we can be addressing a very real and growing catastrophe in front of us.

For reasons I've already mentioned in other comments on this thread, this has so little chance of being viable, that it's IMO a waste of bandwidth and of intelligent people's attention. Hence my namecalling, like 'Silly' and 'Offensive'

I rant cause I love..


"I rant cause I love.."

yea, me too. But I think i've maintained a decent position against a lot of name calling and derision. I probably would have put less effort into defending my POV, had people been more interested in talking about practical realities instead of booing and hissing and calling names. I agree with people when they say it's entirely impractical. Then again, so is surviving PO unlikely, and it's still worth talking about. I don't agree that mining space is an impossible fantasy that violates physics or laws of thermodynamics, as has been accused. In an impractical world, where survival is a fantasy, unlikely ideas sometimes make sense. In that context I think I've stood up to the flames for the right reasons. And, it's been entertaining, that's the main thing :)

The reason people have little patience with your posts is that this is ground that we have all trodden before, quite often. Indeed, I would go so far as to say few people who post here have not considered the things you are saying - at length. I realize this can be difficult for newbies who have not participated in the previous discussions, but that's how it is on all Internet forums.

As for why most here roll their eyes at talk of space mining...try reading this. It's ten years old, but still pretty accurate.


Fine, if you've trodden this ground before, I appreciate some facts and a link or two, or someone saying so in a direct and relevant manner. Instead my original point received a general scoffing and apoplexy that seems pretty familiar: the sound of folks who don't want anyone to challenge their fixed idea. Well fine, I don't have to put my ideas out there, if it upsets folks. I wouldn't want to upset anyone when discussing "about energy and our future" - then again, that may be par for the course.

I guess my position in this too-long thread here, is that I think there's is a bit of stagnant thinking that can occur around topics such as PO. If you read through the posts and the interaction, a lot of the impatience in response to my comments wasn't really based on people providing good information or trying to catch me up if I have a poor understanding, it was just outrage at the possibility that someone could be talking about space resources, in the context of PO. I had people claiming that space mining defied the laws of physics, and that automated mining would be impossible in space. It's one thing to say that things aren't likely to happen due to PO and limited resources and logistics - if you read through, I consistently said this was the case anyway, but it's another to simply say "it's not possible, we already discussed it and it can't be done, so go away". That attitude seems a little "head in the sand" to me - not because space mining is possible given the circumstances, but because the attitude reflects a narrow view.

I think the article you sent me is a good example of what I'm talking about. It's a good article with a lot of interesting facts, but the premise in my opinion is terribly flawed - and it's intentionally flawed as well, IMO. However, although I'd like to tell you why I think the premise is flawed, I can't. The reason I can't is because if I tell you why I think it's flawed, I'll be challenging the pessimistic assessment that you and others here are well invested in. IMO, there's a whole media industry built around this kind of pessimism and the people who become invested in it. It's not really good for their minds or for our culture, but it exists to sustain itself. And that's the problem: I should keep my mouth shut about an obviously flawed pillar of your thought to avoid offending you. To me that sounds exactly like the BAU that everyone here dislikes so well.

I come here for the good information and hopefully some good discussion. I enjoy a debate. I have no problem getting deep into a thread on some topic or other - I thought that was the point of the forum. If I challenge assumptions then I think I'm doing this site a service in maintaining a basis for broad and open minded discussion. I have strong opinions, and I share them. If that's not valuable to TOD, then I suppose they'll just ban me at some point.


tehChromic, if it is possible to mine asteroids and other planets, then it should be a lot easier to mine ice from Greenland and Antarctica, right? So why is it not being done to turn deserts green and alleviate water shortages that prevail in much of the world? If it is prohibitively expensive to mine ice from Greenland and Antarctica, imagine how costly it will be to mine minerals other planets and asteroids.


So why is it not being done to turn deserts green and alleviate water shortages that prevail in much of the world?

Now that's a good question. I think it has to do in some part with the kind of energy economy we have stumbled into, and in part from the fact that we've emerged into our age of industrial accomplishment from a world of plenty - at least for the status quo of the conquering party. We're not supposed to consider limits or depletion, as these are equated with a loss of status, and poverty. It's a problem of human nature I'd say. But could we engage in massive projects of this nature? - I don't see why it couldn't be done. It's been done in the past - the Yucatan for example, was 'teraformed' by the Aztecs to support their civilization.

To compare mining fresh water from Greenland with mining space for metals is I think comparing apples and oranges a bit. But they're similar in that they both aren't very likely to happen under our current BAU. Should they happen? If you ask me I say yes, we should 'teraform' earth to make it more habitable, and we should adventure into space, and move a good bit of our industrial production out of the biosphere.

I guess the paradox is that, while me saying that these things should happen causes all kinds of apoplectics and suffering here on TOD, the truth is that we are either going to attempt some kind of massive global engineering project at some point, or we're going to fold our cards and call it quits. Folks around here are the first to acknowledge that we're massively overextended, both with regards to our own tech and PO, and with regards to the biosphere. So we're supposed to realize that we are in a terrible predicament, and we're to either attempt to do something about it, or we're just to accept it.

In other words, there's a sort of middle of the road pragmatism on TOD that says that we have to "learn to live within our means" and "accept limits" at the same time as there's a realist perspective that says "there's nothing we can do to avoid collapse" and "we're doomed". So given that we're doomed, you'd think there'd be some interest in ideas of massive works projects that might simultaneously mitigate some of the worst problems of PO, as well as climate change. Just as you say, "turn deserts green and alleviate water shortages". But nope, that kind of suggestion conflicts with the first directive: "live within your means", and is therefore seen as all too optimistic for folks. It's ironic is all I'm saying.

"HOWEVER, should we be able to succeed in imposing discipline on ourselves, it is possible that a new technological renaissance might take us into space, where the materials, and the energy resources are, in comparison to timescales and scope down here on earth, quite limitless."

I fail to see the point of having "quite limitless" resources when we haven't developed, matured, as a species/culture to manage what we have. We can debate surviving our technological infancy to move beyond our little planet and all that, or we can focus on getting through the resource bottleneck that is upon us now, without destroying ourselves and what's left of our biosphere. If we can do that, we may find that our need, our greed to exploit ever more resources was merely child's play, pointless,, and that we have better things to do with our highly developed minds than dream of more "stuff".


Appreciate it. I agree with you. This here:

We can debate surviving our technological infancy to move beyond our little planet and all that, or we can focus on getting through the resource bottleneck that is upon us now, without destroying ourselves and what's left of our biosphere.

My position has been that it's too late to get ourselves through the resource bottleneck - a bottleneck implies there's an opening on the other side. This is a dead end.

I agree with people on this site who say that it's going to be nasty and dirty - we're going to dig up everything and burn it - 7 billion people will tear this place to pieces trying to stay alive.

So my whole misunderstood response is that, given that all is lost, there's some slim chance that technology offers a way out. Specifically a massive transformation of our energy and production towards a sustainable, renewable system would be desirable, in order to mitigate impending doom. I don't think anyone really disagrees that this would be our best bet, and the sooner the better, although, many don't think it will happen, or don't think it will really help. For these folks presumably there are no alternative except to curl up with a shotgun under a big blanket and wait for the zombies. Well that's fine, but I think it's worth having a discussion along the small percentage chance that we survive: the massive effort to change BAU.

So my point about space exploration is that, as part of a general massive effort towards changing our technology, and our means of exploiting our mineral and energy resources, space might, maybe, play an important role. For this I am flamed.

I appreciate the idea that we can 'mature as a species' to learn to live within our means on our little rock, it's just that we've gone a bit too far for that. I think it's amusing that for suggesting that one potential outlet for growth as we hit hard limits might be space, I am ridiculed, yet the general alternative solution is niceties and platitudes about overcoming greed and living in our means. I thought it was obvious that we're way past that now.

Computers are doubling in power every 18mos, with no end in sight.

Got proof for this? (Instead of being what's called a Concern Troll - we'll see if you actually answer with specificity rather than generality)

Because real size and power limits are being hit on chip making.


OK, looks like i'm off by a few mos, the source says every two years, with a predicted slow down to every three years by 2013 - still, that's exponential growth. Intel's break out of CMOS is interesting. And then there are new players:


But anyway the point is kind of mute - processing power isn't a limit on automated mining in space really, anymore than it's a bottleneck on deep water mining, which takes place under conditions that human beings can't survive. There are other, more serious problems, not least of which is PO. Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm being called names. This all started from a fairly innocent post about peak metals and minerals, for which I was flamed mightily for daring to suggest there might be resources available in outer space. A grave sin no doubt.


So your proof is not actual data, but an observation that is called a "law"?

What's next - citing Murphy's Law as proof?

But anyway the point is kind of mute

Why is the point quiet? Normally a point becomes moot.

bottleneck on deep water mining, which takes place under conditions that human beings can't survive.

Deep Water mining? Like the Gossamer Explorer?

There are other, more serious problems,

And I've pointed out 2 of them. When will you address them?

Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm being called names. This all started from a fairly innocent post about peak metals and minerals, for which I was flamed mightily

The people of TOD are treating your position with the normal care and consideration. No one is 'name calling' or 'flaming' as those kinds of posts get deleted.

A grave sin no doubt.

The grave sin at TOD is when someone points out the energy or resources or even an obvious constraint is pointed out ignoring the constraint or handwaving "humans are smart, they'll figure it out".

Now - have you been listening to what posters are saying to you tehChromic?


LOL, have you never heard of moore's law? it's why your computer runs so quickly. nice dodge tho, so you're saying computer power doesn't increase exponentially in a reasonably short period of time. heh, OK.

pardon tho, I misspoke, i meant moot, not mute - you got me. also, i meant drilling, not mining, in deep water. Pardon me, i really messed up. Still, these are technicalities no? You haven't said much to the actual point.

The grave sin at TOD is when someone points out the energy or resources or even an obvious constraint is pointed out ignoring the constraint or handwaving "humans are smart, they'll figure it out".

OK, since we're nitpicking, what kind of sentence structure is this? LOL. None of these things did I do. I acknowledge all the constraints on using resources from space, as well as the unlikelihood that it will happen - but I don't see that the same courtesy was extended to me - people said I was reading too much sci-fi because I said it was possible, that i was violating the laws of physics because I pointed out it was being planned and done, and eventually called me a troll simply because I stuck up for my POV - wasn't that you, like one post ago?

Well, I gave you moore's law, and the proof is in the computer in front of you if you want it to look at it. Why not acknowledge?

LOL, have you never heard of moore's law? it's why your computer runs so quickly

And here's an example of where elsewhere someone pointed out how Mr. Moore has said "Moore's Law is dead", you were challenged on why you believed what you do and rather than saying "moore's law, but it turns out the guy who understands microprocessor development I was trusting as a valid source says my original understanding was wrong" you are going with "LOL".

Well, I gave you moore's law, and the proof is in the computer in front of you if you want it to look at it. Why not acknowledge?

Because I understand what is involved in chip making and computer science. Pipelining and RISC only gets one so far - your claim was "for the future" and the reality is the limits of what Humans can do with the chip geometries isn't going to be able to be "doubled every 18 months" with the key part of your claim no end in sight. I also understand that the radiation of space will mess up the thin geometries used in todays chips FAR worse than other, slower, more power hungry, thicker geometries. There are shortened lifespans with the new thinner geometries run at higher heat due to dopant migration.

Given your reaction to education to remove your ignorance is to ignore the education and respond with "LOL" and "I'm being picked on" - you might be happier elsewhere on the Internet.

well, there's nothing wrong with bring your superior knowledge to the debate. I maintain that computers today are up to the task of automated mining, and that improvements in them for the foreseeable future will improve their capability. But you'd rather argue over whether I got the details right. OK, fine. You can win that argument.

Still, I'm not unhappy with the debate. I appreciate the invitation to go elsewhere. Wouldn't want to interrupt the serious work that is going on here by raising topics that cause debate. Anyway, I don't even know what your argument is with respect to the original point, except that mine upsets you and you're telling me to 'just go away'. Why are you talking to me if you don't like what I have to say? cheers man, no worries.

I maintain that computers today are up to the task of automated mining, and that improvements in them for the foreseeable future will improve their capability.

But you bring no data to back up the "up to the task of automated mining TODAY" and your future projection, based on Moore's Law, ignores the statements by Mr. Moore that his observations about the doubling of computing power is no longer valid due to simple things like physics.

There wasn't really a debate going on - you made statements not supported by actual reality, were informed of such, and then stated you were being named called/picked on.

Do feel free to come back with data showing that the newer, thinner chip geometries are less radiation sensitive than the older, slower thicker geometries. Do feel free to come back with lifetime wear stats on mining machinery.

Because, ya see, on TOD this space mining topic was done before. Radiation was a major deal breaker. But the wear rates on the eq REALLY ended the topic. (and that time the pro-miners didn't address the wear rates with a statement of 'then we'll use lasers to mine the ore' because even they understood how absurd that would be)

Because, ya see, on TOD this space mining topic was done before.

I see Eric, since it was done before, then I had no call to comment on it again, even in passing. Because once something is done on TOD, then it's done everywhere. And if TOD says it can't be done, well then it can't.

I'd be glad to discuss electronics in space with you, although I'm not an expert. What do you say about satellites, or the current space station - are you telling me computers and automated systems aren't in use up there already? Are you saying that you don't think it is possible to develop technology that will work in space? I say this generally because it really was a general point to begin with - I do think computing technology is still in its infancy, and that Moore's law might go on for a long times still - if you don't think so, you ought to read Fineman's "there plenty of room at the bottom" lecture. Or have a look at some of the reporting about stuff going on in labs now. You're free to dispute it, but a lot of experts in the field of computer tech have something else to say.

About wear rates and radiation - these are engineering challenges to be sure. But wear rates are an issue here on earth as well - it's a question of logistics and supply and fabrication. It would require a more complex system to provide replacements, seeing as the best way to supply them would be on site. Assuming a pretty advanced tech already, and that the materials and energy are already there, it's possible to imagine fabrication taking place i space as well, which would eliminate the costs of escaping earth's gravity well. Anyway, this is all speculation.

But you're in the position of saying "it can't be done", and even if it is never done, I'm not sure that your position holds - people said air flight couldn't be done as well - you may well say it's difficult, but saying "it can't" is just not good sense. Where's your "proof" that mining space for metals can't be done - a conversation on TOD?

I don't think I'm being picked on but I do think that there was a lot of scoffing and ridiculing for no good reason. As you say TODers were just treating the subject appropriately. Well, if that means ridiculing and scoffing at anyone who isn't privy to their particularly advanced knowledge of everything. I suppose had someone said "oh yea Chromic, we discussed that on TOD before and it's logistically really difficult to imagine it every happening, especially as PO is going to wreck the economy ..." and gave some good supporting facts (as you have done in your last post here) then would have been more than willing to consider that they knew more than I did - a good reasoned response can really go a long way towards converting a naive, wide-eyed skeptic like myself. But when people act outraged, throw fits, and call me a troll, or say i'm having unicorn fantasies or go back to yer sci-fi books, well, that's a weak position to take. It shows a lack of depth and an unwillingness to allow contemplation outside of a rigid, and narrow POV, and a lack of patience for anyone who isn't "inside" the special world of people who all think they know what's what. Against that attitude, I don't mind arguing to the last, because it is undoubtedly hiding a weak philosophical and intellectual position. And also generally it's a bit rude when I posted in sincerity. But that's OK, I'm really not that bothered. I enjoy the debate.


Don't forget, the HOG runs off the brownian motion from a cup of tea, exponentially advanced by the inherent improbability of "x".

If you run the computations on the back of a napkin, on a red checked table cloth, you can do the Cassell run in less that 12 parsecs!


The vast, vast majority of the fiction in science fiction novels will never become reality.... We are dealing with reality here, not silly science fiction.

Look, I'll be the first to cry "bull****" one pie-in-the-sky cornucopian hogwash, but saying something cannot be done just because we haven't yet found a way to do it is a tad... dare I say defeatist? All new technologies started out as ideas in someone's head. Yes, you're correct that 99% of sci-fi tech ideas have not come true, but where would we be now without the other 1%? The space elevator is plausible enough that NASA, Japan and Google are conducting serious R&D on it. It may all come to nothing, yes, but it may also turn out to be a real game changer. Worth at least pursuing a bit more, IMO --along with promoting already established sustainable energy, conservation, and population reduction.

I've noticed that there seems to be tendency to be a tad *too* negative and doomerish at TOD about a great many things. This tends to stifle debate about even the more plausible future technologies --Molten Salt reactors with passive safety features that can "burn" long-lived waste from older reactors, nuclear fusion, etc. Just because something does not fit into a "World Made By Hand" vision of the future does not automatically mean that it's impossible, something it would be wise to bear in mind here. I like and read Kunstler, Orlov and Catton too, but they are not my only sources of information --or inspiration.

Harm, if our economy survives then the space elevator has a slim chance of becoming a reality... in perhaps three or four decades from now. But proposing the mining of other planets and asteroids to supply us with rare metals, to mitigate the decline of our economy due to declining oil and other resources is.... words fail me.

Let's face reality here. When do you suppose declining resources will start to have a devastating effect on the economy? Now when do you think the space elevator might become a reality? Now how long after that will it be before we launch space ships via the space elevator? Then how long after that do you think it will be before we have robots mining for rare elements on Mars?

But if you really believe that the mining of space will solve, or at least help mitigate our peak oil problems then please just say so. I would really like a yes or no, or even a maybe here Harm. Do you really believe that?

Ron P.

A: No, I do not believe a space elevator would be able mitigate our immediate peak oil problems. However, it just *might* be able to mitigate peak rare earth minerals --if and only IF it turns out to be viable technology. Either way, I agree that would still be a very long way down the road.

As a species, we have some very real pressing problems that deserve the bulk of our resources and talent to address on a collective and global scale(assuming that's even possible politically or culturally). However, we should still not deny ourselves the right to think big or pursue long-shot ideas with potentially enormous payoffs in the meantime. Here are some questions for YOU:

How many established, proven technologies today started out as "crazy" ideas?
How much energy, money and resources are outright wasted by Western nations each year (not including R&D that does not pan out)?
What do we spend annually just on (completely nonessential) sports, gambling and entertainment?
Is it worth it for humanity to devote some % of its resources to long-shot X-prize-y R&D?

How many established, proven technologies today started out as "crazy" ideas?

Probably most of them. However the "crazy" ideas that proved to be truly crazy likely outnumbers them several hundred to one. So I ask you, how many "crazy" ideas turned out to be nothing more than a crazy idea? If you ask me then I would say the vast majority of them.

How much energy, money and resources are outright wasted by Western nations each year (not including R&D that does not pan out)?

I have no idea but whether an idea does not pan out or not does not necessarily depend on whether or not it is feasible. Many things can go wrong and spoil a truly great idea.

What do we spend annually just on (completely nonessential) sports, gambling and entertainment?

What on earth does this have to do with anything? What possible connection does this have to do with mining Mars for rare elements? I think you are wandering way too far off the subject here.

Is it worth it for humanity to devote some % of its resources to long-shot X-prize-y R&D?

Oh, now I understand where you are coming from. But you are way off base here. Sports, gambling and entertainment are what private citizens do with their money. Space exploration is what governments do with taxpayer's money. Do you propose that they tell people to cut out sports, gambling and entertainment and donate that money to the government for space exploration? Seriously Harm, is that what you are proposing?

Anyway I am all for space exploration but for the sake of science and knowledge, not for the production rare metals for cell phones or whatever. None of this space talk will ever have the slightest effect as far as mitigating the coming economic collapse due to energy depletion. It makes for great barroom talk but that's all it is. That is all it will ever be.

I remember many years ago when, even then, I was concerned about the population problem. Some of my friends told me that moving people to other planets, and even to planets orbiting other stars, would be the answer to our population problems. I laughed at the idea. They replied that I was just narrow minded. But I feel the same way about mining outer space because we use up all the rare elements here on earth. And I you may think I am narrow minded. I am almost sure that tehChromic does. But I think the idea is as preposterous as moving people to outer space to help solve the population problem.

Ron P.

Do you propose that they tell people to cut out sports, gambling and entertainment and donate that money to the government for space exploration?

No, I'm just pointing out that there's a colossal amount of waste and fluff built into our current system (obviously no surprise to anyone here) and that we could do a great deal by simply repurposing even a tiny bit of this river of discretionary cash. Coming up with $billions or even $trillions in borrowed funds to bailout banks or give rich people yet more tax cuts does not seem to pose any problem for Congress. Surely they could scrounge up a few $billion to develop new technologies for a space elevator that could revolutionize space travel.

Agreed, though I think there are more modest things we can do quickly which can save even more money and resources further down the road.

Saw a great presentation at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at UVA by Sander Weinreb, who discussed the idea of combining budgets-- and perhaps missions-- for NRAO and NASA. IMHO, radio astronomy is a good example of a very sensible place to invest limited resources. You get a better idea of what's out there before you send anything up, and if and when you do send something up, you get better telemetry to make sure it comes back.

Do you propose that they tell people to cut out sports, gambling and entertainment and donate that money to the government for space exploration?

I doubt that's exactly what was suggested, but it would be such an accounting and regulatory nightmare to identify "that money" accurately that it's not on. However, I'd consider a more modest proposal, that governments cease to subsidize those activities - for example not another penny in public cash or bonding capacity for any stadium anywhere, ever. Let people pay for their own moronic entertainment. Not that Joe Voter would ever stand for it, of course, since he apparently lacks the brains to find anything to do on a Sunday afternoon but fork over money to multimillionaire ballplayers in the upper 0.1% of the otherwise despised 1%.

The "space elevator" is the least of the problems.

Having ways of addressing wear on mining gear (how does one fix worn out gear on robots in space?) and having the computer intelligence to make decisions and convert ore into refined metals will be problems needing to be solved 1st.

No point in getting into space if there is no stuff to get there.

I keep waiting for John Michael Greer to step in with a comment on the type of dillusionary thinking going on here.


Brother Greer understands that wear-resistance and material science has already been applied to mining gear along with replaceable wear parts - the teeth on the backhoe as an example. Regular TOD readers will remember that on real-life-in-production mining gear the abrasion surfaces in some cases need to be replaced daily due to wear the last time space mining came up.

Brother Greer also groks that computer "AI" exist, vision systems exist and the biggest - the flow of events/processes that need to happen to get from point A to point B.

Lets snap our fingers and make a ribbon in space for an elevator. The powering of it to get to space to mine is a problem. Heat differentials are an issue.

But the issues of increasing part wear is marketable today. And who knows what kind of benefits and curses better AI would bring to Man. If 'lets mine space!' dude wants to be of help he can pick material science or even things like vision systems or AI as both of those can help without a space elevator being needed.

Besides - PM Greer doesn't need to step in - TOD is doing well in pointing out what needs to be addressed - the poster of the space mining is choosing not to listen.

Bro. Eric, er, if you mean PM in the Masonic sense, not so; haven't had the free time and resources at any point in my Masonic career to fill the eastern chair.

Tis a shame - you'd be a fine overseer of the work and give them proper instruction.

Craig, thank you for the vote of confidence. Still, I try not to get into it with cornucopians -- it inevitably turns into people talking past one another, because the cornucopian mentality in all its forms ("limitless resources just waiting for us in outer space" being one of those forms) doesn't share any common ground with the mentality that shapes TOD and, for that matter, The Archdruid Report. That's one of the reasons I've characterized the contemporary belief in progress as a religion, one that's as thoroughly grounded in faith as any other: trying to get a cornucopian to grasp the concept that all resources are necessarily limited, much less that what we like to call "resources" are as often as not already playing a role we can't well do without (the way fossil fuel "resources" left in the ground are keeping the world's climate from overheating) is like trying to convince a medieval peasant that God and his angels and saints aren't there any more.

*smile* Considering what is said here about brain modelling of nematodes
http://www.jefftk.com/news/2011-11-02.html the straight line technocopian path of "make a human brain then train that" isn't going to happen soon.

Cornucopians? Religion? Good lord, now I'm getting Straw Manned into the role of Julian Simon crossed with Ray Kurzweil! Just for suggesting (*gasp*) such technology might have even the slightest chance of becoming possible --assuming our society survives long enough to develop it (admittedly questionable). I realize this is a forum devoted to Peak Oil and its ramifications, but even so there are times when the perma-doom mindset here gets pretty narrow and dogmatic. Dare I say... not unlike a religion?

I suspect that most of us here have a firm conviction that "mining in space" is not possible due to a number of physical, financial, resource, and other constraints. This is NOT "perma-doom", or narrow, or dogmatic. It's not a religion. Saying that it is is just a feeble cop-out - name-calling.

This viewpoint does not advocate nor even expect that we will be "living in caves" or whatever other hysterical picture technocornucopians like to portray of what will happen if we don't pour ourselves heart and soul into zooming off into space.

It is merely a realistic assessment of what is doable with the resources we have available, and a wish to not throw resources of money and attention down a rathole.

HARM, the reason most commenters on this thread have been unsupportive of the arguments you and tehChromic are making is that we've heard them before and watched the numbers get crunched, and they don't add up. In the real world, where fantasy technologies such as space elevators have to be paid for in real resources, labor, time, and money that are all subject to hard limits and facing many other demands, throwing the immense resources required for such a project into what is, after all, a daydream based on technological vaporware is no more prudent than it is politically possible.

Mind you, if you personally are doing something to bring about a space elevator, I withdraw my objections -- but by "doing something" I mean raising funds, pursuing a degree in some relevant field of engineering, or the like, not just talking enthusiastically on the internet about somebody else doing something at some point in the future. As I see it, that latter's simply a tranquilizer -- a way to avoid having to deal with the very difficult predicament into which blind faith in progress has backed the industrial world.

this here reasonable comment I can get behind - I agree, collapse of civilization is likely, and our ability to maintain a complex, industrial civilization which could produce space mining technology is likely to go with it. That said, if there is going to be a massive shift away from fossil fuels in the next 50 years, and if we do avoid out and out collapse, it seems that space exploration and exploitation is a reasonable future. That was my only point, and I'm not sure when a 10 year limit or the idea that I suggested we could stave of PO by mining space came into it. I never had anything to say about mitigating our real and present peak oil problems, except to say that, in theory at least, there's plenty of resources and energy in space, which we could use to our advantage were we to have the foresight to start earnestly now and the luck to last through.

Also, I do believe to some degree in the power of a vision to move culture. People become corrupt and intractable because they lose motivation. They only see things as they are - tv's, car's, plastic crap from China. The world gets mundane, and so do their aspirations. Therefore they give up, become stagnant, and stop trying. However, if they see something brave and exciting and challenging that appeals to their emotions and aesthetics, then they can change their ways quite quickly. It is in this context that I bring up space as an adventure and exploit in the face of impending doom.

thank you,

Thank you. Even reasonable adults are allowed to dream big on occasion. In fact, it's pretty much essential for progress of any kind to occur --social, technological or otherwise.

Yes I agree with you HARM everybody should be allowed to build castles in the air, the essential point is how do you put foundations under them? what is feasible does not mean that it is going to happen. We live in a constrained world our imagination doesn't and our utopian fantasies both Religious and Scientific need too be put on a leash. The religious fantasies of Muslims in the middle east fuelled by payments for our oil addiction will most likely be the end of us. The same goes for Space, the reality enema is that it costs $10,000 to put one kilo of payload into space. The world economy is circling the drain in a few years the world will most likely be bankrupt. No money, no space travel, its as simple as that.

Actually, the whole point of the space elavator was to try to solve the $10K/kilo problem. But I concede much of the technology hasn't been developed and it has only a remote possibility of coming true today.

As to the larger issue of looking towards the future, there's a pretty wide spectrum between utopian 'castles in the air' and conducting serious R&D on not-yet-extant technologies that require a long time horizon, but may have potentially huge benefits to humanity. I'm not convinced that the elevator is viable even in the long term, but's it's still worth spending a little time and R&D on. And even if it's never built, the effort may produce some unexpected benefits and technologies that we can't even imagine right now --like so many other "failed" space programs in the past. Ditto for fusion reactors and MSRs.

I totally get that "progress" does not always = more complex technology, and that there are physical limits to nearly everything on a finite planet. Even so, if the best we can hope to look forward to is a rapid massive die-off, catastrophically falling standard of living, endless wars over diminishing natural resources, and a neo-fuedal existence for the unlucky survivors, then what's the point? Why not just kill ourselves now.

Me, I'd rather we keep trying many different alternatives --including population reduction, renewable energy and conservation. Some ideas will work, some won't, but hopefully enough will that we don't end up in a world resembling The Road.

The issue is one of scale. The energy required to move asteriods (or minerals extracted from them) so that they can be of use to humans on earth is tremendous, despite all the available energy from the sun. To convert that energy, we'd still need to launch everything from earth and construct it all in space with the existing resources on earth now. We can just barely keep 1 space station up and running full time - imagine trying to scale that up 100-fold (or more).

I agree with your point, but a line from Animal House has been echoing as I listened to this discussion..

"Was it, OVER when the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?!.."


"Forget it, he's Rolling.."

It's been just a teeny bit amusing.. but dispiriting all the same..

well what do you expect? So Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Did you think it was someone else? Either way, there's nothing you can do about it, it happened in the past. But had you lived back then it didn't much matter who it was, so long as the army got moving.

The point of that scene is that Blutowski (John Belushi) is so revved up on his cockamamie idea, that bothering over little details like who actually might have made it out to the middle of the Pacific on Dec 6, is not worth 'wordsmithing' .. it's more important to just stay out of the way of the train.

I think this whole conversation has been deeply silly. Sorry. We haven't even been able run the occasional manned Moon mission since the early seventies.. does that suggest something to you? How in the world would all this to pay for itself?


sure, like, I was just in the middle of telling everyone on TOD how we have to go to space to save ourselves from PO right?

I dunno, I've made a single point, and had a lot of people dispute it. That's OK, alot of people were interested enough to talk about it. So if it's such a deeply silly idea, how come people continue to be interested in it, and how come private a public money still goes into developing space tech?

In the 70's resource limits weren't a big topic, and we had a much smaller global consumption and production cycle, and much fewer people than today. The moon mission was a demonstration of technological might, not a practical mission to exploit resources. that's why it wasn't repeated. But resource limits will cause demand to go up, raising price. High price means bigger risk and bigger profit. Since the resources of energy and materials exist in space, why wouldn't we go there? Who pays for the extreme mining ops we engage in now? Anyway, point taken, some topics are too cheery for the doom and gloom crowd. It's silly to talk about what the future beyond PO might look like, better to lie down and play dead while moaning about lost opportunities eh? I got it, it was the Japanese, not the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor - my deeply silly mistake, since it makes all the difference. No need for WW2 now eh? lol

Agree with you. The point I was trying to make was originally speculative, as in, what would an energy infrastructure look like it if was based on renewable sources, and if it relied on high technology and engineering to make efficient use of existing resources. I was pointing out that, were our ducks in a row down on earth with respect to sustainable energy, space is a vast resource of solar and material resources.

I wasn't suggesting that we launch a space mining program to mitigate PO. I was saying that any massive investment in renewable energy would eventually lead us to space, since renewable energy is basically built on mined materials, and solar energy. If we survive PO at our present level of sophisticated civilization, I think it is likely we will exploit space for material and energy - we're talking 100/200 years out.

It's not illogical, but of course it is in the context of our impending oil crisis, and that's the heavy wind I'm bumping into here, with people accusing me of telling fairy tales, and keeping flying ponies and three headed unicorns and such. It's OK, it's all good. It does seem though that it's difficult to convey a more complicated point when the mob is revved up and looking to lynch. But that's OK, I signed up for it and enjoy the debate.

Or are you going to just ship the tons and tons of ore back to earth is some super giant ore carrying space craft?

Well in Alien, the Nostromo was an interstellar oiltanker, hauling the blackgold halfway across the galaxy!

As I remember that did not work out so great for Nostromo or it's crew... The oil tanker picked up some...impurities...along the way :)

And it wasn't looking good at all for Earth if Sigourney hadn't kicked some serious a$$.

So let's not bring any mystery "stuff" back to Earth - Hollywood has given us a preview of how that might work out too.

Still two of my favorite movies though - Alien & Aliens...

Ah, that's the solution to resource scarcity. The UN shoots a couple of Boeing Galactic TractorsTM towards a few 1 or 2 mile wide asteroids which move it into earths orbit so it's automatically scooped up while we swoosh around the sun. The country that happens to lie underneath it's impact area gains the right to exploit it's treasures. If it happens to plunge in international waters then the coastal countries around it have the rights to mine the seabed.

Sounds like a real plan. How about it?

Edit: Crap! Twilight already stole my idea...

Year 2099

China wishes to apologise to the people of Taiwan for the destruction of Taipei by a stray, farmed asteroid. That its impact point was the Legislative Yuan while the President was making a speech was pure coincidence.


*in reality in the year 2099 a fragment state of china uses junker boat's cobbled together from the remains of no longer operable small fishing vessels. converts them to oar and sail power and takes them to the new smaller island taiwan. so they can kill the population there to prevent any more fights between ships over the jellyfish and plankton harvest. they use their few remaining operable fire arms along with bows, arrows, and bladed weapons assembled from the remains of cars and other vehicles to accomplish this.

Heh, yes ofcourse, the landing bit is slightly worrysome. But hey, never mind, just think about all the riches that comes from an asteroide!

It's not like we haven't done these kinds of trade-off calculations before. Think e.g. climate vs tar sands aka the rich greenies vs trillions discussion.

This oughta make the beat:

Company Backs out of $45 Million Deal to Buy Troubled Wyoming Gas Field

A deal to sell a controversial central Wyoming natural gas field has fallen apart amidst allegations that drilling there has caused water pollution.

Earthquakes: Water as a lubricant

... Geophysicists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences have succeeded in imaging this interface to great depths and to establish a connection between processes at depth and events at surface. "When examining the image of the electrical conductivity, it becomes clear that rock water from depths of the upper mantle, i.e. between 20 to 40 km, can penetrate the shallow areas of the creeping section of the fault, while these fluids are detained in other areas beneath an impermeable layer", says Dr. Oliver Ritter of the GFZ. "A sliding of the plates is supported, where fluids can rise."

These observations support the idea that fluids play an important role in the onset of earthquakes.

Warming’s ‘Vicious Cycle:’ Permafrost Thaws, Vents Lots of Greenhouse Gases, Speeds Up Warming

The permafrost scientists predict that over the next three decades a total of about 45 billion metric tons of carbon from methane and carbon dioxide will seep into the atmosphere when permafrost thaws during summers. That’s about the same amount of heat-trapping gas the world spews during five years of burning coal, gas and other fossil fuels

And the picture is even more alarming for the end of the century. The scientists calculate that about 300 billion metric tons of carbon will belch from the thawing Earth from now until 2100.

Adding in that gas means that warming would happen “20 to 30 percent faster than from fossil fuel emissions alone,” said Edward Schuur of the University of Florida. “You are significantly speeding things up by releasing this carbon.”

The survey provides an important warning that global climate warming is likely to be worse than expected,” ...

related Permafrost Loss Worse Climate Peril than Thought

and Permafrost Thaw May Emit More Than Deforestation, Study Says


This is the one thing I believe everyone is overlooking. The release of methane from the permafrost and from methane hydrates in the permafrost and shallow ocean silt could could be the trigger that triggers runaway global warming.

Ron P.

I don't think it's so much a case of it being ignored - I think it's more a case of it being one of the many unintended and 'odd' side effects of manmade warming.
I guess the plan has always been - stop the manmade warming and 'fingers crossed' Siberia won't melt.

Stopping manmade warming is tough ..... refreezing Siberia is ..... well ... you've seen how big it is !!!

The speed of catastrophic change is so great once you include Siberia Methane that my guess is they just leave it out because it makes everything look too hopeless.

No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra<\blockquote>


I think many people don't even want to think about this. It's a real denial producing image: what happens when we pass the permafrost and shallow Arctic seabed Methane hydrates tipping points.

Earths history has seen times in which a warmed-up ocean became starved of oxygen (it's easier to remove the oxygen from a warm ocean then a cold one). This coincided with the rise of the cyanobacteria (the same that are found near the bottom of some stratified seas) which release massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide. Life giving oceans turning into a pink toxic soup. A mass extinction always followed.

Will our overfishing and pollution that disturbs the biochemical balance of the oceans together with the carbon released from shallow methane hydrates and permafrost be enough to trigger this change? Do we want to find out?

Beyond the methane-burp feedback waits another dragon that is spoken even less about; the forests burning up, including the Amazone. There is carbon worth of 1 degree Celsius stored up in those woodlands. And beyond that waits one other dragon; the ocean will give up its dead. No sorry, that was from Revelations. The oceans will give up its stored CO2. As you said, warm water is bad at holding back its stored gasses. Burp. More CO2.

Amazonian die-off to happen beyond the methane-burp? Maybe not...

I only skimmed the article,but I did not see anything caliming the danger was flagged off. I would be glad if it was off coure,but this article did not calm me much.

Also, there are other forests to.

Earths history has seen times in which a warmed-up ocean became starved of oxygen (it's easier to remove the oxygen from a warm ocean then a cold one). This coincided with the rise of the cyanobacteria (the same that are found near the bottom of some stratified seas) which release massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide. Life giving oceans turning into a pink toxic soup. A mass extinction always followed.

A small correction: cyanobacteria are not the microbes responsible for producing H2S--I don't think there are any known sulfate-reducers among them. SRBs are mostly Delta-proteobacteria, with a few others, including 3 genera of archaea, scattered in.

There's a nice phylogenetic tree on page 447 of this Nature review.

Petroleum-eating mushrooms

The principle is based on a well-known process in the sector called phytoremediation that consists in using plant matter for decontamination. "However, in contaminated soils, it isn't the plant doing most of the work," says Lang. "It's the microorganisms i.e. the mushrooms and bacteria accompanying the root. There are thousands of species of microorganisms and our job is to find the best plant-mushroom-bacteria combinations."

Thanks to the collaboration of an oil company from the Montreal area, the researchers had access to a microbiological paradise: an area where practically nothing can grow and where no one ventures without protective gear worthy of a space traveler. This is where Hijri collected microorganisms specialized in the ingestion of fossil fuels. "If we leave nature to itself, even the most contaminated sites will find some sort of balance thanks to the colonization by bacteria and mushrooms. But by isolating the most efficient species in this biological battle, we can gain a lot of time."


Are they safe to eat and hallucinogenic?
- If yes, can we dream/pretend we all are all back living in the 1950's where FF seemed a-plenty?

P. cyanescens and P. azurescens can absorb phosphorus from their surroundings. Phosphorus is found in psilocybin. It is thought these species could be used to mycoremidiate areas polluted by phosphorus containing chemicals i.e. pesticides and herbicides. These species are among the most potent. Paul Stamets has a great book dealing with this called "Mycelium Running"

Was thinking about Congress and ran across this article ... it explains alot

Researches find poop-throwing by Chimps is a Sign of Intelligence

Why energy journalism is so bad

1. Be skeptical. You will have to make up for the missing skepticism and curiosity of the journalists you’re reading. If the article is all sunshine and roses, and includes no caveats or alternative views, it will be more useful to you as fishwrap than information.

The above piece may be helpful to those starting out in their reading of energy issues.

"China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War":

This year Iran could become China's second largest supplier of crude oil (in the subtitles).


x - And to put a sharper edge on it: and if China stations a number of its warships in an Iranian port or put a significant number of boots on the ground around critical installations. A trip wire by any other name. And we would expect any POTUS to launch an attack that would intentionally kill Chinese citizens?

Again why I see the MADOR protocol eventally developing between China and the US: Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources. The world will be divided between the haves and the have nots. And the haves will be those with the military capabilty (read nuclear) to discourage any country from interferring with their acquisition of resources.

The US bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade with precision munitions. "Mistake" never adequately explained.


Sure it was explained - just not in "public" or in an 'official' manner.

The 'heard on wack-job podcast of conspiracy theories' had:
1) The Chinese and the families of the dead Chinese were offered a pile of cash to 'settle'.
2) The reason for the attack - it seems the Chinese were giving military intelligence to the forces that were opposing the US of A's efforts.

And we would expect any POTUS to launch an attack that would intentionally kill Chinese citizens?

POTUS is not going to be the instigator, in my opinion. I would instead ask: Would we expect Israel to launch an Iranian attack that would intentionally kill Chinese citizens?

flash/Allan - Forgot about that "accidental" hit. As far as Israel starting the shooting war I knew some high ups in the Israel military years ago. Based on those limited exposures I'm surprised it hasn't happened already. It was very black and white to those guys.

Maybe slightly off topic, yet still relating to the Chinese military. Today heard a report the chinese have been secretly digging 3,000 miles of very big tunnels. The response seemed to be a concern for just how many nukes they have, since quite a few could be hidden in these tunnels. However, I think the concern should be are the chinese building these tunnels to shelter their populace when a nuke war occurs. Or maybe a more macalb question might be, when do the chinese plan to bomb? They could conceivably sacrifice above ground structures to then have the upper hand after everything is leveled, by shipping their populace to vacated countries after the dust settles. An odd way of taking world control, yet very effective. It also takes care of the problem of population increases. Suddenly there are many places their people can establish a new arm of the Republic of China.

This scenario may seem outlandish, that is until one considers the limits to growth. If the world pop drops from 7 to 2 billion in a flash, and 1/2 that is their people, Eureka, they own the planet and all its resources. Oil, coal and NG will last that much longer. CO2 emissions will drop considerably. More time and resources to make the transition to renewables. It actually makes sense.

If it is not too much trouble, please post a link to this story.

"Mr. President...We...cannot...have...a..mineshaft....gap!"

Here you go Heisenberg. Got to go somewhere but will be back in a couple of hours.

China Has 3,000-Mile Nuclear Tunnel?


Bureau Recommends: China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons


US varsity students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons



Thanks for the links...I have, since I read your original post, read about six other links to this story.

One interesting point: All these thinks are quoting the same source story...I do not see any independent confirmation of these allegations and speculations.

Second: I have heard /nothing/ about this before now. I find that rather telling.

Third: The Union of Concerned Scientists at allthingsnuclear.org and Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk.com do not place credence into these allegations.



Fourth: The timing of these Internet 'news' seeds smells rotten:

Read the full court press by the Congressional nuke hawks regarding the relevant U.S. DoD and DOE budgets:


Nuclear weapons triad: Sessions (R-AL) amendment No. 1183 to require the maintenance of all three legs of the nuclear weapons triad, those on land, at sea and in the air. Hoeven (R-ND) , Tester (D-MT), Blunt (R-MO, Enzi (R-WY) and Vitter (R-LA) have a similar amendment No. 1279 supporting the triad and endorsing all three legs of the triad.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs): Barrasso (R-WY), Enzi (R-WY), Conrad (D-ND), Baucus (D-MT) and Tester (D-MT) amendment No. 1307 requiring the U.S. to maintain all 450 ICBM’s in the force with the New START limit of 800 strategic launchers, including 420 on alert or operationally deployed status, with any reductions to be taken equally from the three ICBM bases.

Nuclear weapons complex funding: Corker (R-TN) amendment No. 1380 permitting the Defense Department to transfer funds to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activities up to the level authorized if the appropriations level is less than the authorized level. Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) has a similar amendment No. 1386 permitting the Secretary of State to transfer funding to the Department of Energy. Corker and Kyl combined to introduce amendment No. 1401 to permit the Secretary of Defense to transfer the funds.

Support of nuclear weapons triad: Kyl (R-AZ)-Lugar (R-IN) sense of Congress amendment No. 1444 endorsing maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons triad of delivery systems, maintaining robust nuclear weapons laboratories and providing full funding for these programs.

I am sleeping like a baby tonight.

Y'all are free to wring your hands over as many phantom menaces as the Internet will feed you...


Y'all are free to wring your hands over as many phantom menaces as the Internet will feed you...

Sorry to send you on what may end up being a wild goose chase. I'm not so quick to discount the possibility though. Maybe not 3,000 miles of underground tunnels, but there is a thing called The Great Wall of China. They were paranoid enough to build that.

Once the bomb was invented, it would actually make sense if feasible to have an underground tunnel system for people to scamper to in the event of a nuke attack. It would also provide greater political strength if some muke powered country tried to put the screws to them. Bomb us and we'll survive, but you won't, makes for a really good deterrant.

In fact, I plan to lose sleep over it tonight just to rebel against your willingness to sleep like a baby. Now if that didn't make you laugh, then maybe you do need some sleep - someone's getting cranky! Ha!

OK, you made me laugh!

Honestly, the Chinese and the Russians are concerned (militarily) with each other much more than either one or both are concerned with the U.S.

The 'Red Dragon' isn't going to bomb the U.S. tonight, next month, five years from now, or fifty years from now.

China's' plan has been to 'Occupy WalMart'.

Again why I see the MADOR protocol eventally developing between China and the US: Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources. The world will be divided between the haves and the have nots. And the haves will be those with the military capabilty (read nuclear) to discourage any country from interferring with their acquisition of resources.

Assuming that the US still has enough weight to muster such a treaty. I can imagine the Chinese thinking that they are gaining global resource dominance anyway and therefore don't have to share with the US. Why would China agree with a treaty when the US didn't want such treaties when they were still undisputed?

Ironically, the Chinese gained their powers upon the debt of the US and other industrialized countries, it's because of yours and mine consumptions that the US is now being outcompeted.

"No miracles in science: The story of the energy catalyzer"

Despite these contrasting claims, there remains the fact that, if the device were really to produce a significant amount of energy from a low temperature nuclear reaction, we would be facing an energy revolution; all the troubles with Peak Oil will be over and even we will have at hand a magnificent economic stimulus.

There is only one problem: the E-Cat cannot be what it is claimed to be. Apart from contradicting all known physics developed up to now, the promoters have never been able to demonstrate that nuclear reactions take place inside the device, and not even that it can produce useful energy.

But of course, many believe that cold fusion is something not yet understood by science.

IMO, the end of the article is the most telling.

By the early 90's Rossi had promised the US Army to provide them with thermoelectric devices with an output power of between 800 and 1,000 watts. The prototypes he sent for testing to New Hampshire University had only one tenth of the promised output power. Before Rossi could manufacture more devices, his factory in Atlanta was destroyed by an unexplained fire. Rossi then moved to Italy, but the devices he made in Italy just had an output power of a ridiculous 1 watt.

People think the e-cat must be real, because why would he pull a hoax like this? What's the motivation?

Maybe he's just a pathological attention-seeker. He's apparently pulled hoaxes like this before, and even gone to jail for it.

What I don't understand is how he can keep fooling universities, governments, etc., given his history.

"What I don't understand is how he can keep fooling universities, governments, etc., given his history."

I don't get it either. The only explanation I can think of is we have become so desperate as to leave no stone unturned.

The same desperation seems to be at work in the financial system - and in the political system (how else to explain "The (re-)Rise of Newt Gingrich" ???).

(OT - I quit NPR. The other day they had a discussion of the Republican candidates and focused on 'Front-runner Newt Gingrich'... they too completely ignored Ron Paul... NPR has become just another distracting voice in the MSM)

Personally I'll wait for

LENR "Cold Fusion" nano-magnetism phenomenon details to be revealed December 7th

Brian Ahern received his PhD in material science from MIT, holds 26 patents and was a senior scientist for 17 years in research and development at USAF Rome Lab at Hanscom Air Force Base. Ahern was the U.S. Air Force’s expert on nano-materials. Ahern has discovered the LENR phenomenon is occurring on the nanoscale and involves a formerly misunderstood and rarely explored attribute of nano-magnetism.

compared to the ramblings of a marine physicist. With 6 known organisations now punting this 'scam' to offer commercial products there clearly is something going on.

You didn't provide a link. Here's one:

LENR "Cold Fusion" nano-magnetism phenomenon details to be revealed...

E. Swanson

Excellent - only 6 days until Eternal Christmas!

Plus the grand unification of physics.

My favorite part:

"However, this discovery creates a clear path towards creation of a sustainable future driven by freedom, justice, creativity, and innovation."

yippeeeeeee..... !!!!

No need for Obama to target US citizens - we'll have a sustainable future based on freedom and justice...

jesus H cartoon, what planet is this again?


Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he's from the future

Brazil imports US ethanol.

This is an example of the principle proposed by Gail the Actuary that 'the bad drives out the good'. I've seen it when cables that are supposed to export clean hydro power end up importing dirty coal power. If they ever send Sahara desert solar power to Europe I think we'll see yet another example when the desert folk end up toasting their marshmallows using power generated by lignite burned in Germany. Somehow despite lofty aspirations cheap and nasty wins every time. In the case of ethanol why make a major effort when someone else will help out with a subsidy?

Actually, this is a variant of Gresham's Law: "Bad money drives out good".

Saudi Arabia Finally Gives Up

Saudi Arabia has long said that it has loads of untapped reserves and would, within a few years, be on track to increase oil production from 10 million barrels per day to as much as 15 million barrels of oil per day. But Saudi production has stayed stubbornly at 10 million barrels. Last week, the CEO of Saudi Aramco said that global production from tar sands and shale oil now looked so promising that there was no need for more oil from the Kingdom...

Saudi Arabia has been making excuses for years for their inability to produce more than 10 million barrels of oil per day. This is the latest, and seemingly, the most definitive. They're publicly stating — for the first time, I think — that they aren't going to keep up the pretense anymore. Their exploration and drilling program is over, and 10 million barrels is as good as it's ever going to get.

Ron P.

So "we" at TOD were right all along -- Saudi Arabia has peaked!

Didn't I just recently read that the Saudis promised to increase production to offset what is taken off the global market via an embargo of Iranian oil? Which statement is then the lie?

Which statement is then the lie?

Why do we have to pick just one?

My fatigued "midnight brain" didn't consider the possibility that both could be lies, but that's certainly a possibility. I'm in the "They've Already Peaked" (TAP) camp and should have noted the possibility you raised.

Their exploration and drilling program is over

No, they will continue to explore and drill to hold the plateau as long as possible.

My fear is that by extending the plateau the rate of decline at the end will be steepened.


Nothing to worry about there, NOAM. You can be certain. The rate at the end will be steepened (has been steepened?) Enjoy!


A few months ago India took a potash "holiday" and stopped importing for a few months. It didn't work to decrease prices so they ended up buying the stuff at market prices. The lack of imports did cause some reports of fertilizer shortages so I am wondering why they would try it again. Devaluing the currency sure isn't helping matters either.

Fertilizer firms to slash potash imports by 35%

Following Russia-based Uralkali refusal to reduce the Muriate of Potash (MOP) prices, Indian fertilizer companies on Wednesday decided to slash the imports by 35 per cent to reduce their payouts.

Rupee being devalued to boost export

“Recently India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have adjusted their currencies downward against the US dollar which makes their exportable products cheaper in the region,” said Atif Ahmed, a currency dealer in the inter-bank market.

Here we go:

It's official... !

......the Office for Budget Responsibility, the independent watchdog that oversees Treasury spending plans and which published its own outlook for the economy alongside Osborne's statement.

It blamed a repeat oil price shock for most of the cuts in real incomes suffered by UK households. High energy prices were the largest single element fuelling an inflationary spiral that left many families worse off.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said there was an "unprecedented crisis" in living standards. "You can't build a sustainable economic recovery on the back of people getting poorer," he said.


However the TUC (Trades Union Council) still seems to be behind the curve:

"Rather than further hammering consumer confidence with public sector pay caps and cuts in working tax credits, the government needs to put greater emphasis on wage-led growth, starting with a fairer tax system where everyone – including the super-rich – pays their share."

The EIA and IEA forecasts have become more and more realistic the past few years. EIA still has a long way to go, though. I think it takes a few years government officials and economists to process this new information. I don't know what the heck they are going to do with this knowledge but I think we can look at how effective GHG reduction policymaking has been and assume that peak oil policy will be equally as effective.

On a tangent, the quote below is a bit misguided. By dropping some folks off the boat, the boat stays afloat a little longer. I know many of you expect this to continue but I am still betting the boat just sinks one day. I think maybe this happens when a critical resource is no longer available due to revolution. Oil maybe, rubber maybe, phosphorus maybe, etc...

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said there was an "unprecedented crisis" in living standards. "You can't build a sustainable economic recovery on the back of people getting poorer," he said.

The powder keg that is Syria

Also, a successful Sunni rebellion would increase Turkey's regional influence, at the expense of its main rival, Iran, the region's Shia power, which has backed al-Assad's regime to the hilt.

Iran and its ally, Hezbollah, on the other hand, would be loath to see a regime change empowering rival Sunnis. While Israel, for its part, would surely be quietly encouraging those factions fighting to break Syria's alliances with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

Iraq has a Shia-dominated government at the moment that would likely continue to support Syria's Alawite forces (and likely al-Assad if he survives).

However, there are large Sunnis communities in western Iraq and there are fears that fighters from both Shia and Sunni militias in Iraq would cross into Syria to join the proxy armies there.

Both Sunni Jordan, as well as Saudi Arabia, for their own reasons, would likely want to see a change in Damascus, while even poor Lebanon, ever the loser, would find several of its own core factions inevitably drawn into a conflict that would likely flood across its border.

These are dizzying scenarios — and yet only the short list of probable effects.

The whole region is in a state of fluctuation. A game of chess played for high stakes. I suspect that once the dust settles (in a generation or two?) the map of the middle east will have little resemblance to the one drawn up by the victors of the First World War.

Lawrence of Arabia has become a true hero, in one of the greatest tragedies.

Japan nuclear meltdown 'maybe worse than thought'

Molten nuclear fuel at Japan's Fukushima plant might have eaten two thirds of the way through a concrete containment base, its operator said, citing a new simulation of the extent of the March disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said their latest calculations showed the fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the tsunami-hit plant could have melted entirely, dropping through its inner casing and eroding a concrete base.

In the worst-case scenario, the molten fuel could have reached as far as 65 centimetres (2 feet) through the concrete, leaving it only 37 centimetres short of the outer steel casing, the report, released Wednesday, said.

"Almost no fuel remains at its original position," TEPCO said in the report.

related Study Shows Worse Picture of Meltdown in Japan

Every TEPCO "new" update always has more of the fuel thought to have melted further through the structure. In 6 months time at this rate they will have it a long way down into the ground - where many think it really is anyway.

Strange yellow light that looks like a fire just appeared on JNN live webcam apparently in vicinity of reactors 3/4. Hope it's just a lighting effect.

Live cam http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=24eGVuK4G4M

Nothing can be seen on TEPCO live cam ( http://mfile.akamai.com/127380/live/reflector:51361.asx?bkup=52045&prop=a ) but if light source is at far side base of reactor 3 or closer to common spent fuel pond it would be out of view of TEPCO cam.

Discussion at http://enenews.com/happening-now-possible-fire-near-reactor-on-tbsjnn-fu...

Note though there are commentators at enenews who I have seen mistake the sun for "neutron beams" so comments there always have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Still the yellow light source only just appeared a couple of hours ago so would be nice to know what it is.

As John Kenneth Galbraith said of the Great Depression, "The worst continued to get worse."

How does that tie in with the cooling water being below boiling point?


Well the reactor water temperature could be below 100C but the base of the corium could be thousands of degrees if it is buried in concrete/rock at considerable distance from the temperature sensor.

TEPCO have been careful to say they think they can keep the temperature down for any fuel that is still in the reactor.

You seem to overlook that it would be sitting in a hole full of water.


Not much circulating water getting down to the bottom if there's a crust building up on top as it sinks down. Could well be steaming down there. There's a TEPCO video from a couple of months ago showing steam coming up a pipe with several sieverts per hour (where they didn't know the source supposedly nor why steam should be coming up there) and then there's the continual hydrogen buildup problems they are having to deal with.

To be honest I don't know any more than anyone else does about what's going on there but TEPCO's press-releases have been gloomier lately. Then there's the reactor 3 designer, Uehara Haruo, and others in Japan who say the cores are underground. Here's another voice.

Kyoto U. Prof: I always argued that containment is broken — Said melted fuel may already be 40 feet underground

[Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute] estimates nuclear fuel rods may be now 12m [39+ feet] deep under ground at reactor 1-3. [...]

Melted rods can not be taken out for 1~2 years. One piece of the fuel rods is estimated to sink into the ground at a rate of 17m per year. Therefore, 2 years from now, they may be 34m underground.

Even The New York Times is quoting Professor Hiroaki Koide now.

Study Shows Worse Picture of Meltdown in Japan

“This is still an overly optimistic simulation,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor of physics at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, who has been a vocal critic of Tepco’s lack of disclosure of details of the disaster. Tepco would very much like to say that the outermost containment is not completely compromised and that the meltdown stopped before the outer steel barrier, he said, “but even by their own simulation, it’s very borderline.”

“I have always argued that the containment is broken, and that there is the danger of a wider radiation leak,” Mr. Koide said. “In reality, it’s impossible to look inside the reactor, and most measurement instruments have been knocked out. So nobody really knows how bad it is.”

EDIT: NHK World lead story live just a moment ago was that TEPCO has just stepped up injecting nitrogen to prevent a hydrogen explosion. No link on their website yet.

It's morning in Japan now and comparing the latest video with your vid capture, it appears that the "smoke" might be the blurred image of the crane in the foreground...

E. Swanson

I watched as it got light. For a time you could still see the yellow/orange spot but much dimmer. It will be interesting to see if it reappears tonight but hopefully just a new light. I never saw what I considered to be smoke - just a flickering out of focus yellow/orange light which had never been there previously.

Curiously I have never seen that camera out of focus before. Focus was corrected later.

NHK has story about latest nitrogen injection up now

TEPCO injects nitrogen into pressure vessels

TEPCO started pumping nitrogen into the pressure vessels of the No.1, 2, 3 reactors on Thursday to lessen the concentration of hydrogen.

The density of hydrogen accumulating in the containment and pressure vessels is thought to be below 4 percent, the level where an explosion could occur.

TEPCO says the nitrogen injection will push out hydrogen and reduce its concentration.

I would like for someone to explain to me in simple terms how the fuel can sink thru solid substrate-presumably there is more concrete, or at least bedrock, or at the very least hard organic free mineral soil below the reactor foundation.

Now as I understand it, the fuel melted-ok-the rods are no longer whole, they are combined in a viscous mass somewhat like a bunch of melted candles.

I can see how this mass could melt steel or burn thru concrete, to a fairly limited extent but I know a thing or three about hot metals.

It seems extremely improbable that the temperature could be high enough to actually burn thru bedrock for the simple reason that the fuel would be a thin boiling liquid, giving off metallic vapors that would condense soon after cooling-which would happen when the vapors rise far enough to quit "participating" in the chain reaction.The vapor would probably condense to metallic particles-most of it anyway-within a few feet of the point it encountered cold air..Whatever does boil off would be constantly reducing the quantity of fuel remaining to support a chain reaction.

But this would not be the biggest issue.A boiling, low viscosity liquid in contact with anything that will melt such as soil or stone would be expected to mix with it, and thereby become seriously diluted in fairly short order.

Some of the fuel would be left behind as it sinks, mixed with the melted stone or siol at the freeze line
Some of it would find its ways into cracks and crevices -there would undoubtedly be considerable presssure generated if the top of the hole collapse inward due to vapor pressures of hot melted fuel and stone or soil.

Any portion that finds a way into such a crack or crevice qwould again reduce the amount left to sustain a chain reaction.

I can't see how the fuel, could be expected to sink very far before it would be diluted enough to start reducing the amount of heat concentrated into a small are that would be adequate to melt stone or soil.

I believe the downward travel would stop within a fairly short distance, and a puddle of boiling hot fuel mixed with stone and soil would release the heat generated upward rather than down and sideways.This puddle could grow to a considerable size laterally. but i just can't see it becoming very deep-unless melted stone and soil act in very strange and nonintuitive ways.

I must say that I have never been able to melt any concrete-it simply explodes like a grenade if you heat it quickly in my experience by for example using an oxyacetylene torch too close to it.

Dirt does not seem to melt even if it is in immediate contact with an electric welding arc, which is hot enough to vaporize any sort of metal, and so bright it will blind you very very quickly if you are foolish enough to look at it without proper shielding.Such dirt as I have inadvertently heated while welding "down and dirty" has popped and skittered but none ever flowed.

If a liquid mass of fuel strikes water, it stands to reason it would blow out UPWARD. Steam and fuel and dirt or stone fragments mixed in would look like a miniature volcanic eruption..Again this would reduce the amount of fuel remaining in a compact enough ,mass to sustain a chain reaction.

I'm not trivializing the seriousness of a breached reactor core;I just don't think the fuel is going to sink very far at all..It seems much more logical to think liquid fuel will vaporize and/or spread laterally, or burn chemically if oxygen is present.

What I cannot grasp is any logic or reasoning behind the idea that the fuel mass would hang together rather than mix with its surroundings.If it doesn't hang together, then it must soon be diluted and thereby separated enough to break up any chain reactions.

Of course I am neither a physicist , nor an engineer, nor a geologist.

I'm just a simple farmer looking for logical explanation of this so called China syndrome.

As far as I see it ( I am only a chemistry graduate) the corum is a very hot very viscous sludge of semi-melted very radioactive metals and oxides, with an average density similar to that of gold , about 3-4 times denser than the average 'solid rock'. I do not know the geology of the area in Japan, but most 'solid rock' does not have a single, well defined melting point, but becomes a viscous semi-liquid - think larva from a volcano.

Heat transfer away from the corum is poor, to the temperature rises to the point where the rock below becomes a viscous fluid. For a typical sedimentary rock this may be at a temperature of the order of 1000C. Then gravity does the rest. It sinks like a stone in treacle, or a knife into butter on a hot day.

I'm sure a geologist could be more precise.

On Wall Street, Some Insiders Express Quiet Outrage

The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders.

The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and widening income inequality.

When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out...

How do you manage to mitigate peak oil, climate change - anything - with a dysfunctional financial system?

It is good to know some insiders are sickened by the corruption of the system. Sadly, they are the minority, and the whistle blowers are "exiled."

New Analysis of Government Data Shows that Military Spending is a Weak Job Engine Compared to Other Investments

... The Pentagon suggested that military cuts in the range of $1 trillion over the next decade would add one percentage point to the U.S. unemployment rate. But whether or not this particular forecast is accurate, the most important question is not the absolute number of jobs that are created by spending a given amount.

It is rather whether spending that money on the military creates a greater or lesser number of jobs relative to spending the same amount on alternative public purposes, such as education, health care or a clean-energy economy, or having consumers spend that amount of money any way they choose.

Pollin and Garrett-Peltier show, in comparison to alternative uses of funds, spending on the military is a poor source of job creation. They find that $1 billion spent on the military will generate about 11,200 jobs. By contrast, spending those funds on alternative purposes would create 15,100 jobs for household consumption, 16,800 jobs for clean energy, 17,200 jobs for healthcare, and 26,700 jobs for education.

Pollin and Garrett-Peltier show, in comparison to alternative uses of funds, spending on the military is a poor source of job creation. They find that $1 billion spent on the military will generate about 11,200 jobs. By contrast, spending those funds on alternative purposes would create 15,100 jobs for household consumption, 16,800 jobs for clean energy, 17,200 jobs for healthcare, and 26,700 jobs for education.

So the most effective way of spending that money is on education, if the number of jobs created is the measure of effectiveness.

Would it be cynical to point out that the study was conducted at an educational establishment whose existence depends on spending for education, by researchers whose income depends on spending for education?

Given that the concept of a "job" is rapidly becoming irrelevant, wouldn't it make more sense not to spend the money at all? Especially as the money to spend doesn't really exist.

Actually, the reason that education gives the most bang for the buck is because workers in that field [in aggregate] are paid the least.

If they looked at 2nd order job generation, then 'clean energy' would probably have won.

I would never be one to defend a level of military spending that goes beyond that needed to maintain defense of a nation's borders.

Still, one has to look at the total picture. Part of the reason why the U.S. spends so much is because so many other countries spend so little. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Post WW2, the U.S. took on the role of the global policeman and has hung on to that role to this very day. Things settled down a bit at the end of the Cold War, but our need for oil, a terrorist attack here or there, and the tendency of large complex systems to become larger and more complex ensured that we would continue in this role.

So it's not just a question of numbers, of a quantitative difference in job creation. One must look at the qualitative, the cultural, the existential questions as well. If the U.S. were to give up its Empire, it would be a huge, fundamental shift. It would mean we would have to become more isolationist, that we would have to be comfortable with some conflicts happening out there without our involvement, it would mean that we would have to give up on the idea of forever expanding global power.

And from what I've seen, nothing is going to make that happen short of political collapse. In fact, it's the true third rail of American politics today. Both ends of the political spectrum are in complete, total agreement: the U.S. must continue be the global policeman, we must continue heavy involvement in the Middle East. And they believe that if we don't, then catastrophe for both ourselves and the world would result. Do I think this assessment is correct? No, in fact I think it's quite the opposite. Still, it's incredibly entrenched.

An academic study from a university sure isn't going to change anything.

It really is hard to understand the obsession with military spending when the US is so deeply in debt. Britain ceased to be a world power due to the massive expenditures of both world wars. They realized they had no choice other than to dramatically reduce the size of their military at the end of the second world war and reduce the size of their empire. Luckily the US was available to step into the role they were leaving. Perhaps the problem today is that there isn't a Western nation ready to take over the superpower position. The country best positioned to do that is China.

Texas drought visible in new national groundwater maps

The record-breaking drought in Texas that has fueled wildfires, decimated crops and forced cattle sales has also reduced levels of groundwater in much of the state to the lowest levels seen in more than 60 years, according to new national maps produced by NASA and distributed by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Looks like Georgia will be having some issues too.

I wonder how our current trajectory will shift boundaries of the Great American Desert.

And at what rate?

(sorry for lack of better references... not enough time at present to pursue this train of thought - so many trains, so little time)

I live in Tallahassee, which is one of the dark spots in north Florida, and let me tell you, I have not ever seen the ponds and lakes as low as they are now, not in the 16 years I've been living here. Forest creeks that I have hiked by for years have dried up for the first time.

If/as this continues one of the more immeadiate problems will be power plant cooling systems.

That will get the attention of the urban population who don't always pay attention to the day-to-day changes of their natural world.

Surely you've not been lacking for rain over there, though.

I'm guessing your area is overpaved and so rainwater drains back to the Gulf too quickly.

Hard Times Generation: Families Living in Cars

"Guess what? It's getting worse."

Those were words that CBS News producer Nicole Young didn't expect to hear about poverty in central Florida. After all, last year Nicole worked with Scott Pelley on a "60 Minutes" piece about families in that region who had lost their jobs, lost their homes, and moved into highway motels.

How much worse could it get?

and A reporter's story: Finding homeless families

That was really hard to watch.

Pipeline will take Arctic oil to Russia

Vladimir Putin has approved plans for a $3.6bn (£2.3bn) pipeline to new Arctic oil fields that could produce a sizeable share of Russia’s output by the end of the decade, reports The Moscow Times.

The state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft will complete the Zapolyarye-Purpe link by 2017, according to a government decree.

Lukoil, TNK-BP and Gazprom Neft will use the pipeline, with a capacity of 45 million tons a year, to carry oil from fields in Yamal that they plan to develop.

The 300-mile pipeline will be linked to Russia’s pipeline network, allowing exports to Europe and Asia.

I hope for their sake they have proven oil reserves in those fields, and are not presuming their existence. An empty 300 mile pipeline would be an awful big matso ball.

Earl - Not a 100% but I'm pretty sure the p/l is for proven onshore fields that happen to be above the Arctic circle

[Alaskan] Lt. Gov. Calls for US Icebreakers

At least 18 vessels made trans-Arctic voyages last year, Treadwell said, and the United States is not prepared if there's a wreck.

"We feel we're pretty naked right now with the increased shipping in the Bering Strait," he said. "Because a lot of them are carrying fuel, crude oil, oil products, and none of them have contingency plans that tie in with the state of Alaska or the federal government."

The Coast Guard currently has one functioning icebreaker — the Healy, a medium-duty vessel.

related DHS - Testimony of Admiral Robert Papp Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard on Coast Guard Operations in the Arctic

The Coast Guard’s most immediate operational requirement is infrastructure. Energy exploration is underway on the North Slope of Alaska, but the existing infrastructure is extremely limited. We need a seasonal facility to base our crews, hangar our aircraft and protect our vessels in order to mount a response.

We also need to take stock of our current assets that are capable of year-round Arctic operations. Currently, there are few national assets capable of doing so.

Fierce winds blast Southern California; thousands without power

After winds up to 100 mph tore through Southern California, residents awoke Thursday to downed power lines, trees and buildings, and at least two cities declared states of emergency as schools closed and officials urged residents to stay home.

also Wind cuts power to 300,000 California homes and businesses

Baker Institute research indicates China's demand for oil will equal US demand by 2040

Despite aggressive demand-management policies announced in recent years, China's oil use could easily reach levels comparable to today's U.S. levels by 2040, according to a new energy study by the Baker Institute.

The study, "The Rise of China and Its Energy Implications," finds that China's recent efforts at centralizing energy policy do not appear to be significantly more successful than the makeshift patchwork of energy initiatives devised by the United States. In fact, the study said, the U.S. system of open and competitive private sector investment is stimulating more innovation in the American energy sector than in the Chinese energy industry, especially in the area of unconventional oil and gas.

"Given the scale of vehicle stock growth in China, it is going to be extremely difficult to move the needle of the country's rising transport fuel outlook," ...

also Background Research: The Rise of China and Its Energy Implications

> Executive Summary
> Quantitative Analysis of Scenarios for Chinese Domestic Unconventional Natural Gas Resources and Their Role in Global LNG Markets
> China’s Oil Sector: Trends and Uncertainties
> U.S.-China Relations and Energy Cooperation
> Vehicle Stocks in China: Consequences for Oil Demand
> Carbon Management in China: The Effects of Decentralization and Privatization
> Is Chinese Foreign Policy Targeting Sub-Saharan Africa?
> Chinese Growth Prospects in the Short to Medium Term
> China's Investment in Latin American Energy Resources: Comparative Asian Perspectives

Industrialization weakens important carbon sink

Australian scientists have reconstructed the past six thousand years in estuary sedimentation records to look for changes in plant and algae abundance. Their findings, published in Global Change Biology, show an increase in microalgae relative to seagrass in the past 60 years. This shift could diminish the ability of estuaries, which are natural global carbon sinks, to mitigate climate change.

According to Dr. Peter Macreadie, University of Technology, Sydney Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow, "We have effectively gone back in time and monitored carbon capture and storage by coastal ecosystems, finding a 100-fold weakening in the ability of coastal ecosystems to sequester carbon since the time of European settlement. This severely hampered the ability of nature to reset the planet's thermostat."

A method embraced by Yergin, WSJ, and other puppeteers...

Want to Defeat a Proposed Public Policy? Just Label Supporters as “Extreme

New research shows how support for a generally liked policy can be significantly lowered, simply by associating it with a group seen as “radical” or “extreme.”

In one experiment, researchers found that people expressed higher levels of support for a gender equality policy when the supporters were not specified than when the exact same policy was attributed to “radical feminist” supporters.

“The beauty of using this ‘extremism’ tactic is that you don’t have to attack a popular value that you know most people support,” Nelson said.

Goebels already proved just how easy it is to convince the populace of whatever is intended. It's almost redundant at this point. In a sense, most people are no more capable of independent thought than a herd of sheep under the control of a knowledgable propagandist.

Other names in the convincing game is Edward Louis Bernays (Considered respected and re-branded Propaganda as Public Relations) and Goebels teacher Willi Münzenberg.

Ah, very interesting. Every student has their teacher. Goebels though became a victim of his own hype, by offing his blonde kids, his wife and himself as the allies closed in. He bought the crazy things Hitler told him the Russians would do if they got captured. Not that the Russians were very nice to the german women, but the kids got a free pass.

Study debunks 6 myths about electricity in the South

Clean energy can help meet growing electricity demand and minimize pollution in the Southern United States, but progress to adopt renewable energy strategies has been hindered by a number of myths, according to a new study by Duke and Georgia Tech researchers.

Using an energy-economic modeling tool, researchers analyzed the following six myths, identified through their earlier research on energy in the South:

• Energy efficiency and renewable energy by themselves cannot meet the South's growing electricity demand;
• The South does not have sufficient renewable energy resources to meet a Federal Renewable Energy Standard;
• Renewable energy cannot be promoted without escalating electricity rates;
• Energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are not compatible;
• Cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are sufficient to retire existing coal plants and reduce air pollution;
• Power resource decisions have little impact on water resources.

Federal report: Arctic much worse since 2006

Federal officials say the Arctic region has changed dramatically in the past five years - for the worse.

It's melting at a near record pace, and it's darkening and absorbing too much of the sun's heat.

A new Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives the polar region close to failing grades. It faults both global warming and recent localized weather shifts.

A NASA satellite found that 430 billion metric tons of ice melted in Greenland from 2010 to 2011, and the melting is accelerating.

What's even more troubling to scientists is that there's been a record darkening of the normally white Arctic land and sea. White snow and ice reflects solar energy, but a melting darker Arctic in the summer absorbs that heat.

Arctic settles into new phase – warmer, greener, and less ice

Among the 2011 highlights are:

•Atmosphere: In 2011, the average annual near-surface air temperatures over much of the Arctic Ocean were approximately 2.5° F (1.5° C) greater than the 1981-2010 baseline period.

•Sea ice: Minimum Arctic sea ice area in September 2011 was the second lowest recorded by satellite since 1979.

•Ocean: Arctic Ocean temperature and salinity may be stabilizing after a period of warming and freshening. Acidification of sea water (“ocean acidification”) as a result of carbon dioxide absorption has also been documented in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

•Land: Arctic tundra vegetation continues to increase and is associated with higher air temperatures over most of the Arctic land mass.

Report: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/ArcticReportCard_full_report.pdf

Half of greenhouse gases 'emitted by five nations'

More than half of all carbon pollution released into the atmosphere comes from five countries, according to a national ranking of greenhouse gas emissions released Thursday.

China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan top the ranking, with Brazil, Germany, Canada, Mexico and Iran just behind.

Three of the top six nations are energy-hungry emerging giants developing their economies at breakneck speed.

Since the debt ceiling fiasco of July; the past four months (Aug 1st thru Nov 30th) the federal debt has increased by $768,129,274,681.10 per the US Treasury


Still, I don't see "Peak Debt" in the near term.


Former Mossad chief: Israeli attack on Iran must be stopped to avert catastrophe

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned Thursday against an Israeli attack on Iran, saying such a move would likely lead to a regional war involving Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria.

"I'm concerned about possible mistakes and I prefer to speak out before there is a catastrophe," Dagan said in an interview on the Israeli television program “Uvda."

This caught my attention.

The first article points to the UK having the worst European record when it comes to deaths as a result of the cold in Winter ( worse than parts of Russia which consistently hit -40C ).
It dates from 2002 the year the UK began to import Oil and gas again:


The second article is from today's Guardian pointing to the same problems citing pressures of economic contraction, fiscal conservatism and private post peak energy companies and pricing:


It's not as as simple as things look at first. Although we most certainly need to improve standards in the UK. Portugal was found to have the highest rates of excess winter deaths in this study.

Excess winter mortality in Europe: a cross country analysis identifying key risk factors

Results: Portugal suffers from the highest rates of excess winter mortality (28%, CI=25% to 31%) followed jointly by Spain (21%, CI=19% to 23%), and Ireland (21%, CI=18% to 24%). Cross country variations in mean winter environmental temperature (regression coefficient (β)=0.27), mean winter relative humidity (β=0.54), parity adjusted per capita national income (β=1.08), per capita health expenditure (β=−1.19), rates of income poverty (β=−0.47), inequality (β=0.97), deprivation (β=0.11), and fuel poverty (β=0.44), and several indicators of residential thermal standards are found to be significantly related to variations in relative excess winter mortality at the 5% level. The strong, positive relation with environmental temperature and strong negative relation with thermal efficiency indicate that housing standards in southern and western Europe play strong parts in such seasonality.

Conclusions: High seasonal mortality in southern and western Europe could be reduced through improved protection from the cold indoors, increased public spending on health care, and improved socioeconomic circumstances resulting in more equitable income distribution.

The European Debt Crisis in Eight Graphs

The European debt crisis can easily feel like an unwieldy, unmanageable mess of complex jargon and financial terms. Here’s Wonkblog’s explanation of what’s happening across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of eight key graphs: ...

Covers alot of facets of this mess. Enjoy.

Bank says economic climate 'extraordinarily serious'

Banks should brace themselves to withstand the "extraordinarily serious and threatening" economic situation, the Bank of England governor has said.

Bank governor Sir Mervyn King said the Bank itself was making "contingency plans" in case of a eurozone break-up.

... On Wednesday, six central banks, including the Bank of England, took action to encourage lending between banks in order to keep the global economy moving.

But Sir Mervyn said that, "ultimately, governments will have to confront the underlying causes".

Pentagon Preps Afghans for Trillion-Dollar Treasure Hunt

The Pentagon wants the world to know: When the American military stops spending billions per week in Afghanistan and eventually goes home, the Afghan economy is gonna be totally fine. After all, they’re sitting on trillions in mineral deposits, just waiting to be mined.

Too bad many of the mines are in regions too dangerous or geographically treacherous for companies to set up camp. And it’ll take at least a decade before the mines yield tangible goods, and the profits that accompany them.

... investors are already popping up, with India yesterday garnering a contract to mine part of Afghanistan’s iron-ore deposits, and China already working with a $3 billion contract to mine copper (though according to documents revealed by WikiLeaks, Afghan bureaucracy is giving Chinese officials some second thoughts).

Right now, international contributions make up a whopping 97% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

U.S. Senate Backs Sanctions Intended to Cripple Iran Oil Exports


The measure, if enacted into law, would make it more difficult for Iran to get paid for oil sold to foreign buyers.

The Obama administration opposes the amendment on the grounds that, by threatening oil supplies for key Asian and European partners, the move may fracture the international coalition behind coordinated sanctions on Iran and send the price of oil soaring.

“There’s absolutely a risk that, in fact, the price of oil would go up, which would mean that Iran would, in fact, have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less,” Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Depending on how well this works to reduce Iranian oil exports, this should get very interesting very fast! How much higher will oil price go? Will the other OPEC members have the spare capacity to make up the difference? What will Iran's response be?

In any case, give Obama some credit for understanding the implications of less oil exported and its effect on oil prices.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Kirk had widespread bipartisan support for their amendment that would target foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran, barring them from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. It would apply to foreign central banks only for transactions that involve the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.

The sanctions on petroleum would only apply if the president determines there is a sufficient alternative supply and if the country with jurisdiction over the financial institution has not significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian oil.