Drumbeat: December 5, 2011

BP says Halliburton destroyed Gulf spill evidence

(Reuters) - BP Plc accused Halliburton Co of destroying evidence that the oilfield services company did inadequate cement work on the Gulf of Mexico oil well that blew out last year, and asked a federal judge to punish Halliburton.

The accusation, in a BP court filing, raises the stakes ahead of a trial, expected in late February, to assign blame and damages for the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well, which triggered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Saudi Arabia finds more gas, not for use now

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has discovered commercially viable quantities of natural gas in the Red Sea and Empty Quarter, but has no plans to immediately start production, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in a speech delivered on his behalf yesterday. The world's top oil exporter will continue to explore the country for tight gas and heavy oil for future energy needs, according to the speech read by Naimi's adviser Ibrahim Muhanna in Riyadh.

OPEC heading for deal on 30 mln bpd oil target

(Reuters) - OPEC oil producers, at odds over supply policy since June, look set at a mid-December meeting to agree a new production target that legitimises current cartel output at 30 million barrels a day.

OPEC's leading price hawk Iran, appears to have given up its campaign to have Gulf Arab nations including top producer Saudi Arabia cut back supply.

Pipeline deal could open up Alaskan oil reserve

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. agencies have reached an agreement with ConocoPhillips on a plan in Alaska that could let the company be the first to drill for crude and gas in a national oil reserve in the state, the Interior Department said on Monday.

Gazprom says Ukraine can now pay for supplies in roubles

(Reuters) - Russian energy giant Gazprom on Monday said it signed an agreement with Naftogaz under which the Ukrainian state energy company will be able to pay for supplies in Russian roubles.

EU reconsiders Iran oil sanctions

The EU is having second thoughts about slapping sanctions on imports of Iranian oil, diplomats and traders say, as awareness grows that the embargo could damage its own economy without doing much to undercut Iran's oil revenues, according to a report.

India sees no issues with Iran oil imports

DOHA: India sees no impediments to importing Iranian oil despite a new wave of sanctions imposed by the West, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said yesterday. "As long as there are no sanctions on oil as such, other problems can be managed," he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress. "There are some practical problems in making payments but we have managed to surmount those problems.

Schlumberger sheds 14 more rigs with Saxon deal

(Reuters) - Schlumberger is selling its rig management business to a Canadian company that it part owns, as the world's largest oilfield services company sharpens its focus on providing services for rigs instead of owning them.

If the Lights Go Out

Regulators are letting EPA compromise U.S. electric reliability.

OPEC members: We want clean energy

DOHA, Qatar (CNNMoney) -- Representatives from a half-dozen OPEC nations acknowledged Monday what many U.S. politicians won't -- that global warming is indeed a problem.

The representatives attending the World Petroleum Congress -- a week-long gathering of oil industry executives and government officials held every three years -- outlined steps their countries are taking to move toward cleaner, renewable energy.

"Increasing climate effects are an unquestionable reality," said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. "Developing clean and renewable resources is a goal fully supported by oil and gas exporters."

Oil Rises for Second Day on Iran Tension, European Efforts to Ease Crisis

Oil rose for a second day in New York on concern that tension in the Middle East threatens supplies and as investors bet that European leaders will take steps to tame the region’s debt crisis.

West Texas Intermediate oil gained as much as 1 percent, after posting the first weekly rise in three. Iran said crude will surge to more than $250 a barrel if nations threaten to ban its exports, according to the Shargh newspaper. European leaders meet this week as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner visits the region. Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent by 26 percent in the week ended Nov. 29.

$9 for a gallon a gas in Alaska? What's the cost in your state?

A story last week reported that residents of Nome, Alaska, could be looking at a costly winter: $9-a-gallon gasoline. The news, rightfully, has some of the 3,500 residents in the coastal town freaked out.

"It is going to kill us," said Sunny Song, owner of Mr. Cab, which ferries children to school, nurses to their patients' homes and women to hospitals to give birth.

Economy Avoiding a ‘Death Spiral’ Boosts Bullish Fund Wagers: Commodities

Hedge funds boosted wagers on higher commodity prices for the first time in three weeks as the outlook for the U.S. economy improved.

Hyundai, Samsung May Jump 80% on Demand for Oil Drilling Ships, Mirae Says

South Korean shipbuilding stocks may jump as much as 80 percent in four months as they catch up with gains in oil prices, according to Mirae Asset Securities Co., an affiliate of the nation’s second-largest money manager.

Iraq oil hub Basra wants bigger say, more autonomy

(Reuters) - Officials in Iraq's southern oil hub Basra are trying to cancel a $17 billion Shell gas deal because they want a bigger say, highlighting the pressure on central government to ease its control over the provinces.

Chinese envoy to mediate on Sudan oil dispute

Beijing - China says it will send an envoy to mediate between Sudan and South Sudan over a dispute threatening their oil exports.

Sudan said last week it had suspended oil exports from South Sudan via its ports until the two nations reached a deal on transit fees.

Qatar's emir says oil and gas producers will ensure supplies despite unrest in Arab world

DOHA, Qatar - Qatar's ruler is seeking to assure energy consumers that the unrest roiling the Arab world this year will not affect supplies of oil and natural gas.

U.S. official says Iran becoming a pariah state

SEOUL (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official on Monday said the situation over Iran's nuclear program was becoming increasingly worrying and an urgent diplomatic solution needs to be found.

Output at giant Norway gas field stopped -Shell

OSLO (Reuters) - A plant processing gas from Ormen Lange, Royal Dutch Shell's giant Ormen Lange field off Norway, was restarting operations on Monday after shutting down unexpectedly and curtailing a key gas supply to Europe.

The energy firm said the plant processing gas from the offshore field, which can supply up to 20 percent of Britain's gas needs, sustained a power dip at 0200 GMT that shut down production.

Statoil shuts Heimdal amid well fears

Statoil has been forced to shut down tail-end gas production at its mature Heimdal field in the Norwegian North Sea due to concerns over well integrity.

World Petroleum Congress in Qatar This Week Will Be Carbon Neutral

This week in Doha, the capital of Qatar, over 12,000 attendees from around the world will gather for the triennial World Petroleum Congress (WPC). In layperson’s speak, the 20th WPC is the Oscars, the World Cup and Coachella Music Festival for the global oil and gas industry. Plenaries include “Responsible and Sustainable Investment for the Future,” “Peak Oil,” and “Multi-Sectoral Cooperation and a Sustainable Energy Industry.” Speakers include officials from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and executives from CNOOC, Total, Petrobras and Chevron. Ironically, this is the first time the WPC will be hosted in the Middle East.

Budgeting for turbulent times

The forthcoming budget is at a critical time: the Nigerian economy is doing well but living dangerously. The dangers are not internal – the domestic economy is now being well-managed and has good prospects for growth. But in respect of both government revenue and the capacity to import, Nigeria has all its eggs in one basket: oil.

ConocoPhillips: Great Dividend With Solid Prospects For Growth

Now, as to future prospects, I believe in the peak oil theory, but I just don’t see it peaking just yet. As demand continues to inch higher nearly every year oil companies somehow seem to find more reserves. I remember when someone said that all the really big oil reserves have been found several years ago and yet we see new major finds coming into play pretty regularly.

Navigating the Clean and Bloody Streets of Europe

Europe, with its high energy prices and early acceptance of the science of climate change has for many years been growing industries with the technology and skills to confront peak oil and climate change. These stocks have been falling along with most other European stocks as a break-up of the Euro zone has begun to look increasingly likely.

Accell Looks Like The Best Peak Oil Investment To Buy Now

One of my "four best" peak oil stock picks was a Chinese company with a NASDAQ listing. The other three were European. The Chinese company was Advanced Battery Technologies (ABAT), which I liked because of their e-bike business and apparent cheap valuation. I did not foresee that the company would be one of many Chinese companies accused of cooking their books.

As Gas Riches Remake Plains, Lawmaker Shares in Bounty

CALUMET, Okla. — Gas money is transforming vast stretches of Oklahoma. Here, 40 miles west of the state capital, crews work through the night drilling new wells deep into the earth, and a small army of laborers rips through just-planted fields of winter wheat to install miles of gas pipeline.

Across the state in tiny Atoka, a Cadillac and a Jaguar park next to pickups outside the local store that sells cowboy boots and overalls; in nearby Coalgate, the natural gas industry has created six overnight millionaires.

The spreading wealth from gas fields has also benefited Representative Dan Boren, a Democrat who has deep family ties to the industry — and has acted as one of its best friends on Capitol Hill.

To the Battlements, Mark Ruffalo

Major environmental groups are lobbying for strict regulations on natural gas drilling in New York State, which could begin as early as next year. But activists like the actor Mark Ruffalo are seeking an all-out drilling ban, arguing that the country should move quickly toward reliance on renewable energy sources rather than reinforce dependence on a fossil fuel.

Plaintiffs’ Lawyers in a Bitter Dispute Over Fees in Gulf Oil Spill Cases

Lawyers routinely battle each other, representing the conflicting interests of plaintiffs and defendants. But lately in the vast tangle of federal litigation over last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, lawyers on the same side — for the plaintiffs — are fighting one another.

Tepco Says More Radioactive Water Leaks at Fukushima Plant

As much as 45,000 liters (11,870 gallons) of highly radioactive water leaked from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear station at the weekend and some may have reached the sea, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Greenpeace Infiltrates French Nuclear Reactor to Highlight Security Lapses

Greenpeace activists broke into a nuclear reactor southeast of Paris to highlight what the environmental group described as a lack of security at France’s atomic plants.

Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room Launches Jet-Fuel Reduction Initiative

The Carbon War Room, funded by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. founder Richard Branson, today launched a web and information site aimed at reducing the use of traditional jet fuels by as much as 50 percent.

Solar Costs Crunched at Auctions as India Veers From European Aid Model

India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, is cutting solar-power costs to a record by forcing project developers into auctions, helping avoid the spiraling renewable-energy subsidies that have hurt Europe.

Those Romantic Wood Stoves

It is not only more work to heat with wood, it also costs more, at least for us. In New Jersey, over the past five years, we spent an average of just under $1,000 a year for our natural gas heat. In our part of Maine, hardwood costs $225 a cord split and delivered, and we started with $1,350 worth of wood stacked under the porch. Granted, the winter is colder and longer in Maine. But the cabin is much better insulated and 20 percent smaller than our small house in New Jersey, yet the cost to heat it this winter is likely to be 25 percent more.

Farming on the fringe

Trevor Budge, associate professor of planning at La Trobe University, says good soil should be managed like any other resource. ''If you found a supply of building sand or gravel, you wouldn't just build over the top of it, you'd treat it as a finite resource,'' he says.

''From everything we know - whether it's climate change, peak oil, energy costs or transport costs - having productive agricultural land close to the city makes us more resilient for the future''.

Not too late for Canada to support Kyoto, May says

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called on Canada to reverse its position and support an extension of the 191-country Kyoto climate change agreement, rather than walk away from the protocol.

Hot Planet, Cold Market

The future of the Kyoto Protocol is the biggest issue facing the international delegates at Durban, and it's also the biggest question facing the global carbon market. Kyoto's commitment period for carbon reductions ends in 2012, and right now it's not clear what, if anything, will follow it. Developing countries, which are currently exempt from any mandated greenhouse-gas reductions under Kyoto, want to see rich nations take on additional cuts under the existing Kyoto framework.

Cardinal: failure to address climate change is ‘moral apartheid’

As the Durban Climate Change Conference reached its midway point, the president of the Church’s confederation of relief and development agencies compared current environmental policies to apartheid.

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, said that “just as South Africa’s apartheid era policies sought divisions along race lines, today the world’s environment and energy policies divide man from nature.”

Inuit hunter takes climate-change message to Durban conference

It took 30 hours of flying, but Inuit hunter Jordan Konek has arrived in the land of surfers and palm trees with a message for the world’s politicians: Climate change is real, and it could devastate Canada’s Arctic people.

Food security should be no idle food for thought for Russia

DURBAN, South Africa – The implications of climate change for global food security – a threat well appreciated even by those countries where food shortages have not yet become a problem – still remains a blind spot for Russia, an issue that Moscow does not believe is relevant to its foreign or domestic policy goals. Russia is certainly underestimating the risks.

Preparation for climate displacement too slow, experts say

DURBAN, South Africa (AlertNet) – Climate impacts such as worsening droughts, flooding, storm surges and sea level rise could displace tens of millions of people by mid-century, scientists predict. But national and international rules governing resettlement of forced environmental migrants, and how they will be treated under the law, remain at a worryingly early stage, migration experts said at the U.N. climate talks in Durban.

Scientists say Himalayan glaciers melting

GLACIERS in the Himalayas have shrunk by as much as a fifth in just 30 years and scientists say climate change is to blame.

The findings, published in three reports by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, show Nepal's glaciers have shrunk by 21 per cent and Bhutan's by 22 per cent over 30 years.

Builders revise plans as higher sea levels predicted

City engineers and developers are beginning to revise building plans to allow for new projections for higher sea-level rises on the B.C. coast.

In Vancouver, the company building a significant development along the Fraser River in the southeast part of the city is planning to raise its land about two-thirds of a metre. Dikes along the river in Richmond are also being planned to go higher.

Sea Levels Will Rise Much Faster Than Previously Predicted, Says New Report on Antarctic Polar Ice Melt

Climate change models are only as good as the assumptions plugged into them. Findings published in the December Science could lead those models to predict faster ice melt, and therefore rising sea levels worse than currently foreseen.

Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

How much does "speed" cost us in energy terms?


"About 42 percent of first-class mail is now delivered the following day. An additional 27 percent arrives in two days, about 31 percent in three days and less than 1 percent in four days to five days. Following the change next spring, about 51 percent of all first-class mail is expected to arrive in two days, with most of the remainder delivered in three days."

This is not the end of the world.

Not least because urgent messages are faxed, texted, or e-mailed these days.

Yes, so why not cut it to 3 days a week. If they are proposing 2-3 day delivery why not take it to the next step. I think that would be fine.

Don't mess with my Netflix! ?Sarc

But really, there are business agreements that rely on mail service.

I think most people would be fine with mail service a few times a week, or even weekly, rather than daily. A lot of people around here don't have mailboxes in front of their homes. They either have a mailbox where their road meets a major highway, or they have community mailboxes - a bunch of boxes that serve the entire block, or the whole apartment complex. And they check their mail about once a week.

Businesses that want faster service can use UPS or Fedex.

"I think most people would ... "

I think most people would do just fine with no mail service at all. But there might be aspects of civilized society, or people with disabilities that would be severely impacted. We don't know the unintended consequences of reduced mail deliveries because we have had quite adequate mail service during all of living memory, but part of peak oil, and AGW, and global financial crisis, etc. is a new awareness of the danger of unintended consequences.

It might make sense to cut back a bit on service, but I really think we ought to keep the system. For one thing, not everyone is net-savvy. For another thing, the net is not necessarily bulletproof, and it may be just as well to keep the system going, even in a diminished form, should the need arise...

For many elderly folks who are homebound, the mailbox is an important link to the world. I have a neighbor in her 90s who doesn't do computers ("cain't figure 'em out, don't believe in 'em") is nearly deaf so phones are not much help, no car, etc., but she's at the mailbox every day, usually twice, mailing letters in the morning, picking up her mail in the evening. She still mails checks for bills, still communicates by handwritten letters. Her mailbox is an important part of her independence. I'm sure she's not alone in this respect.

Her niece checks the box every day just to be sure there's something in it for her. I suppose that if the USPO closed, folks could still do that sort of thing.

I think most people would do just fine with no mail service at all.

I disagree. We still need the post office. Mainly to serve rural areas that UPS or Fedex wouldn't be interested in. (I used to live in one.)

Businesses that need daily service are likely to be in highly populated areas that have Fedex, UPS, etc. The ordinary folks would be fine with three days a week, or even once a week.

I intended to convey the idea that 'most people' is not a criterion that matters for a public service such as the postal service. For most people, most of the mail that they receive is advertising, and most of them would be happy to be relieved of the task of carting it from the mail box to the trash bin.

But for the people who actually need the service having it curtailed could be a problem, for some a serious problem, e.g. some people in rural locations receive their prescription drugs by mail. For some of these people the laws protecting the privacy of the mails (and not applicable to UPS) actually matter.

I intended to convey the idea that 'most people' is not a criterion that matters for a public service such as the postal service.

I think it matters. Not as much as for Fedex or UPS, but it matters. You can't run the post office to benefit, say, one person. There's gotta be a limit, especially with resources increasingly limited.

And once a week delivery would be fine for prescription drug delivery. You might have to plan orders/shipments more carefully, but it wouldn't be a catastrophe.

And once a week delivery would be fine for prescription drug delivery. You might have to plan orders/shipments more carefully, but it wouldn't be a catastrophe.

If you need special delivery, the USPO should charge more for it. No reason pharmaceutical companies should get a pass.

Reading the history of the Pony Express, you see that it was very expensive. Lasted until the RRs made cheap transcontinental mail possible. (about 18 months).


The Pony Express shut down in 1861, immediately following completion of the telegraph line that connected Omaha and Sacramento. The first transcontinental railroad was not completed until 1869, almost a decade later.

During the time that the Pony Express was in operation, there was 'regular' mail which went, I think, by stage coach and took much longer than pony express. During my childhood regular mail went by rail with special railway cars in which people sorted mail as the train moved across the country. The transition to all mail by air happened when the passenger rail business collapsed and the post office couldn't afford to keep the passenger trains running with its business alone. Going all airmail was a cost cutting measure, I think.

During the whole period of the advance of the frontier across the continent the post office was always part of establishing a new town. The government often spent money on improving the road to the town from a wagon trail to something adequate for a coach.

As the nation grew and technology changed standards of what service was acceptable changed. But I think it was always expected that every town had at least one post office. For many towns in the west that was the only building in town. And it also served as the saloon and stage coach
way station.

I do not believe that whole western network produced as much revenue as just the route between New York City and Philadelphia. Yet it was established and maintained by the government as an obligation to its citizens.

As to keeping something going for just one citizen: that is a very different standard than keeping something going only if most citizens use it. Somewhere in between might be found. Real research is needed. Some thought should be given to how some other service might be able to cover the needs of the dispossessed and how it can be offered at a price comparable to the service that might be discontinued.

I stand corrected ::blushes:

Thanks for that. It WAS the telegraph that made PE uneconomical to continue.


The problem is, when you lay off postal workers, they go postal.

Need to work it down gradually, but I agree most don't need daily mail service.

If mail was twice or three times (M-W-F or m-w/t-th) service, it would slow things down. We need that. that and eliminate those special rates...

I can be talked out of raising costs for books and newspapers, but it won't be easy. I know, I know, first amendment rights and all, but just 'cause we have a right to free press, that doesn't mean we have a right to free delivery. Or free newspapers. Just that newspapers have a right to say what they want...



I've been posting a number of items for sale on Craigslist, in preparation for a likely move to the big city. About two thirds of the responses so far have been from likely scammers who insist that they must have my street address so they can send payment by UPS. When I tell them that I prefer to have payment sent by US Mail, I never hear from them again.

Although the Post Office is losing money, as far as I know all the old federal mail fraud laws are still in effect, so people who knowingly send counterfeit checks or money order through the mail could end up in federal prison. I think it is worth preserving the Post Office for this reason alone.

I'm not saying we should get rid of the post office. Just that cutting back would be relatively painless, for everyone but postal workers.

Agree 200%... If you want to have quicker service, use UPS or FEDEX, for the other 99% we can get by with even service 3 days a week. If the mail guys need to work 12 hours a day, so be it.

Your connection between Craigslist and Antispam seems - frankly - ridiculous. Are you saying that the US Postal Service should be the official spam-checker between you and all the feral drop-kicks who respond to Craigslist? By mail or some other format?

I would have therefore thought that the obvious is now sadly, totally true: the US is now thoroughly socially dysfunctional overall (in terms of normal decent, honourable dealings between people) - that even relying on Craigslist is not possible. What a sad state of affairs indeed.

Your connection between Craigslist and Antispam seems - frankly - ridiculous.

You should go re-read the post.

that even relying on Craigslist is not possible

The scams have been going on for years. Alt.forsale had such scams for years, long before Craigslist.

Postal Fraud gets you a special investigation - hence UPS.

Insist that the payment is a postal money order.

Sure but wouldn't a day extra be OK? I think bankers could abuse it to their advantage but they need to be leashed to a pole and flogged anyway.

I agree completely......cut to the Bone and deliver Monday, Wednesday, Friday. That's it, and charge everything at a minimum of first class rates. Time to make the Donuts.....and start dumping the Federal employees....

Choose Wisely,
The Martian

True enough, but IMHO this raises a follow-up question: How about a Post Office that enters the IP and telecom business, with the idea being to build and run a world-class electronic communications infrastructure with universal access and lower prices than we now pay to the corporate squatters we leave it to?

This is a marvelous parody. Bravo.

Yes. Why is it that public services should be cut to cede space to the private sector to make money off of essential services? Go the other direction. The post office sells money orders and lets you mail them ... Why not issue them in real time at the destination post office? Why not take savings deposits and offer bare basic banking to cut the check cashing places out?

Well, if the private sector can do a better and/or cheaper job, then why not? Government is then better off to let them do it, and tax them.

Look at the oil industry, they are doing a great job of finding what little oil the US has left, and have become very innovative in doing so. Compare the gov run oil cos in any other country (including when the Cdn created and owned Petro-Canada) and the results are not nearly as good. The same can be said for freight rail, airlines, telcos, electricity, gas, water and sewer utilities, etc etc

The trick is to prevent private companies providing essential services from gouging, and there are ways to do that.

The problem with gov provision of services, as this debate illustrates, is that it is very difficult to change them to meet changing needs. When decisions have to be made be it cutting postal service or closing under utilised/old schools, there are always some who will be adversely affected.

That is the conundrums governments face every day, how to, on limited/shrinking tax revenues provide reasonable levels of various services, and deciding what new ones are needed, and what old ones are not.

No one said it is easy, or easy to please everyone...

It is absolutely ridiculous (in fact insane) to compare the social services that are provided by the postal service, with those that are provided by the oil companies. I could easily run an argument as well. that the world would be a vastly better place if the world had never had private-sector oil companies, ever, but that is not my point here.

My point is that the provision by the state of communication services that are essentially a natural monopoly (such as postal delivery) have been excellent (or at least as good as they could have been) for more than a century. Anyone who argues that the private sector in any field has done a better job with natural monopolies (any field, any country, any decade), is frankly, nothing more than an ideological hothead. Enron anyone?

Anyone who argues that the private sector in any field has done a better job with natural monopolies (any field, any country, any decade), is frankly, nothing more than an ideological hothead.

I agree. Sometimes ideology blinders can get in the way of the facts.

The ancient Roman Empire ran quite efficiently with a basic laisez-faire economic system with state monopolies on resource extraction (gold, salt, tin, iron, etc.). To use a more recent example, the postal system in this part of the world was run much more efficiently a hundred or more years ago than today. In the last decades of the 19th century, the Canadian post office sorted correspondence on its mail trains and conducted twice daily home deliveries - door to door without the aid of postal codes. It was possible for someone in Halifax, NS to write someone in Windsor (50 kms away) in the morning, post the letter, and receive a reply late that afternoon. The postal service was OHMS ("on Her Majesty's Service"), the bar for service was set very high (the Queen's endorsement was seen as a benchmark for excellence), and was administered as a department of the Dominion (federal) government.

This notion that technology or private business models of administration improves customer service or fosters better practices is balderdash.

I have to disagree. Every time I visit the government run cafeteria on BC Ferries I see ample evidence of how the private sector can do the same thing better, and cheaper.

Same thing when I go to a BC Liquor store, compared to any wine shop in Alberta.

Even when there is no improvement in the level of service/product (e.g. cleaning of buildings) private operators can do it cheaper.

The privately owned water utilities in California deliver the same water to their customers typically much cheaper than their municipal counterparts.

The water and sewer utilities I managed were far better run than, for example, the municipal water utility in Walkerton, Ontario...

In Australia, telephone rates only started to come down when the government owned telecom monopoly was dismantled.

All these government run operations end up with bloated staff and administration levels, overpaid, overaged and over benefitted staff, and often poor service levels - how many gov post offices are open extended hours?

You can still get a letter delivered the same day - you just have to pay a courier a lot to do so.

Canada post could do that sort of service again, but is it necessary, and are you willing to both pay for it and use it, when you can pdf and email a document, for free, and it will be there before you have even left the building to go to the post office.

Modern postal service is underpriced (for normal mail) and the organisation is increasingly oversized for the shrinking mail volumes. Something has to give.

The private sector, where the savings are passed on to the rich!

Government entities can and do do a better job than private entities in many cases, but it is important to note that no institution is permanent and decay and inefficiency are part of the natural lifecycle.

I say that the Postal Service needs to be brought into the government fully and given a solid workover, since it is apparent that quangos provide for the worst of both public and private enterprises.

My understanding is that the only party involved in the Walkerton disaster that actually carried out its responsibilities was a private water testing lab. It was the public sector people who screwed up. Yet Walkerton is held up as an example of why we should not privitize water distribution systems.

All these government run operations end up with bloated staff and administration levels, overpaid, overaged and over benefitted staff, and often poor service levels

And who's fault is that?

The citizens get the government they deserve. If your government services suck - who have you sued today?

The message politicians get is that if they try to hold the line on public sector salaries/benefits thereby triggering a strike, the public are all up in arms over the inconvenience. It's easier to just give the unions what they want and pass on the cost through higher taxes. That's why unions are more prevalent in the public sector than in the private sector -- they are generally more effective at getting increased pay and benefits than unions in the private sector. It's ironic that workers who are poorly paid (ie. retail workers and fast food restaurant workers) are typically not unionized. Unions don't work in those sectors because of high employee turnover and the fact that companies cannot afford to pay high salaries -- companies like Walmart and Macdonalds make a lot of money only because they do a very large volume of business so their profit margin is actually relatively low.

I'm not sure what can be done about this. A lot of people support the concept of union bargaining rights, even though unionization is very effective in some sectors and not at effective in others.

Sure the unions can have bargaining rights,m but that doesn't mean the government has to agree to all their demands every time. What can be done is to not give in to outrageous union demands, particularly no layoff, and guaranteed wage increase clauses. It ends restricting their ability to downsize and/or hire young staff and you end up staff that are often overqualified, too old, too cynical, and too well paid.

During the Cdn postal strike, the gov should have used this as a time to do a restructure/downsizing of the service. They should have set up an internet site where people could sign up if they wanted to take a non union postal job at half the rate/benefits being paid to the current ones. I'l bet they would have had enough applications to fill all the current jobs 3x over, and the new people would still be getting paid more than they are at Wal Mart or Cdn Tire.

So then for the unions, they face the same choice as private industry workers do - you can take what's on offer - which is what someone else is willing to do the job for - or take a hike. I don;t think there was much public sympathy for the postal workers - everyone I know was firmly of the opinion that if you have a job at all these days, then be thankful of that, as it is more than many others have.

Ask any private industry wage earner, like a retail worker, what they thought of the posties going on strike, when the retail staff have to work longer/variable hours, nights and weekends and public holidays, deal with angry customers etc etc for less money and no job security - the answer won't be pleasant, and rightly so, IMO.

Modern postal service is underpriced (for normal mail) and the organisation is increasingly oversized for the shrinking mail volumes. Something has to give.

Paul, trust me, I'm no lover of Canada Post. And I spent a year in Esquimalt during the happy reign of Bill Vander Zalm. You're right, BC Crown Corporations are nothing to write home about.

That said, the problem is a technocratic one. Public service is no longer oriented to the public good but to private entitlement. There was a time when the Post Office was a well respected institution. What's more it was highly efficient. What made it efficient was that the people who worked for it saw the focus of their job as "public service" not pensions and benefits. OHMS meant that the leadership and mail workers were expected to go well beyond the cliché, "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Their good names and reputation depended on it and they knew it.

The Mountie always got his man. The Post Office always delivered the mail, promptly and courteously. Now it's not prompt, courteous, or even remotely convenient for most customers.

The ideological predisposition that says public service is always of a poorer quality than the private sector has merely enabled the public sector to get away with shoddy service. Moreover, if the past is any indication, it simply wasn't true. There were many utilities and public services that were well run and managed, particularly in the fist half of the twentieth century. Crown corporations were often seen as the only way to get something done and were used as vehicles of high risk ventures. The "public man" could go where 'angels feared to tread.'

That spirit has died. But to say that 'private enterprise' is better equipped to deliver the goods is to miss the point; neither is living up to the promise of excellence. And Eric Blair is right, we the public should demand more, not less, of those whose job it is to meet our needs, whether it is by private or public means.


Tom, I think you nailed it with "the spirit has died". That is the problem with a lot of gov jobs these days - the primary reason people take/keep them is not because they like the jobs - usually the don;t - it is for the job security and benefits. So we end up getting poor service from people who are unhappy in their jobs, and overpaid at the same time!

The Crown (government) corporations are indeed the worst of both worlds. Their senior management acts like corporate management, but the difference is that their company *can't* be allowed to fail. they get to have a go at empire building without the risks of going broke, corporate takeovers, competition etc.

All of this is not to say there isn;t a role for the postal service - there is - but its current operational model is fast becoming obsolete and expensive. It needs to change to become relevant to the modern world but change is being fiercely resisted, and you have mgt and staff grasping at all sorts of things (new ventures etc) to justify and keep their jobs.

In the 19th century, the post was the most essential communication service. First half of the 20th, arguably the telegraph. In the second half it was the phone system. Today it is internet that is the essential service. if I had to choose, I'd rather have government backstop a national internet system (the same as it does the national highway system) and let post go to private operators (under federal charter/contract).

These days, not having post every day is not nearly as much of a handicap for a home/business/community as not having internet. Witness the yawning over the Cdn postal strike earlier this year. But if there was an "internet strike" there would be quite a different reaction, I expect.

I'm sure the government telegraph operators fought to the bitter end too...

...but its current operational model is fast becoming obsolete and expensive.

Paul, I agree full heartily. A failure to adapt and change. An unwillingness to venture forth where 'angels fear to tread'. The Post Office could still be delivering the goods - even engaged in alternative and wireless formats - but only if it had pursued a clear mandate to provide "public service" as opposed to keeping the stakeholders/shareholders/employees happy.

Yes, government agencies have morphed into the worst of both worlds. The sad part is that risk taking and security can be mutually supporting aims for any task oriented group of people, but only if they keep vigilant about what their ultimate purpose really is. For the PO it is a timely, affordable, and reliable means of communication for the greatest number of people. A business, whether private or public, is lost once it loses sight of what it should be busy doing.

Real time money transfers of certain types set off alarm bells with homeland security, or so the banks have told me. A bank can apparently make real-time money transfers from account to account within their own bank. Bank to other bank requires a wire transfer which costs the customer $$.

I spent most wasted much of a Saturday, trying to add money to a daughter's 'money card'. This because of mis-information provided by 'money card'. I finally called Wells-Fargo and was told I could do that by Western Union. Western Union wanted $50 for that real time transfer. Western Union has an affiliation with Wells-Fargo.

State to state regulations vary also.

Paypal? Has worked well for me.


USA only :(


Personally I have been boycotting PayPal when possible due to the Wikileaks fiasco. Ironically I've been mailing out checks more and more like the old days!

I have a minor kid at school who has a Wells Fargo account and ATM card. Wells is one of few banks that will open minor accounts to teens under 16 that can be attached to your accounts. Transferring money from your accounts online is free. That way the kid can go anywhere in the world with the card, but still easy to transfer money. My daughter is now older than 16, but have kept the account set up this way and the ATM card always works, whereas sometimes money cards mess up and are harder and more expensive to fill up. I have a non-minor kid at another school with a separate account from mine, same bank, and dole out his student loan online too.

Some banks have provisions to transfer money to their customer accounts by using their online services from their site without having to do the expensive wiring transaction in person from your (different) bank. And Paypal is pretty handy but has gotten pricier.

I've foolishly stuck with WF, from when they took over NorWest Bank. Frankly WF sucks. They try to trick you into making mistakes that allow them to charge fees. I'd temperarily have a high balance, they'd suggest switching to X account type which pays .1% better interest (but the fine print says if your balance goes below $20,000 they get a fee of $50), and soon enough they get their pound of flesh. With the kids they seem to like to thrash accounts, Oh you gotta switch -I think they got on officier that gets paid every time they change an account.
But, I've stuck with them because they are big, and their finances aren't teetering on the brink (probably because they manage to rip off enough fees from their customers).

I vastly prefer credit unions, but long story involving moving around . . . I just have basic accounts so don't get much noise. I've had a better experience with WF than most banks, except for one incident involving a nasty local branch manager that was fixed for me by calling the 1-800 number.

Knock on wood . . .

Join a credit union, get access to the biggest free ATM network in the U.S. Many of them also participate in shared branching, where different credit unions thruout the country provide basic banking service to members of many other credit unions.

In France the postal service is doing quite OK... maybe because there is also a postal bank. It offer pretty good and cheap banking services, including of course mailling money.

In the past, the post office also operated a saving bank and could do so again.

By special arrangement with the Fed, they could broker loans to people at the interest rates that the big banks get from the Fed. That would be an interesting new service. It probably could provide enough income to support all the other services that are being considered for termination.

Yes, it would be interesting if the post office offered government loans at the Fed overnight funds rate of 0% - there might be a few takers!

This goes down the path of the post office being a "government office", which it sort of was in the past. Here in BC we have provincial "government agent" offices in most towns of about 5000 or more people.

As far as the post service itself goes, I am not sure I agree with the approach of them trying to find new avenues of business and revenue sources. I think these things are best left to business.

if there is declining demand for postal service, and there is, then the service should shrink accordingly. It may still be essential, but it is not in the volume, or urgency, once required.

And the non essential stuff, like junk mail, should be cut out and let the advertisers decide what to do next.

As far as the post service itself goes, I am not sure I agree with the approach of them trying to find new avenues of business and revenue sources. I think these things are best left to business.

But they are a business now, sort of. The USPS is supposed to be self-financing. They haven't gotten taxpayer dollars for twenty years, aside from subsidies for serving overseas voters and the handicapped.

They are not losing money on junk mail. It's where they get most of their revenue. Cutting junk mail will make the problem worse, not better.

Yes, they are supposed to be self financing, yet they have (under gov pressure) accepted no layoff deals with unions, as well as the normal overpaid staff, pensions etc.

If they are supposed to be a business, then they should be given the same freedoms as a business - the ability to layoff staff, have non union staff etc.

What we have now is a business that does not have the freedom to manage itself like a business - with predictable results.

It may be a bitter pill to swallow for the postal workers that their jobs are shrinking in number, and value - welcome to the rest of us!

As for junk mail, the reason why I think that should be cut is that it is not, by any means, an essential service, and the post office, IMO, should be focusing on essential service.

There's one whopping thing that people seem to be missing...the USPS is being sabotaged by Republicans who want to break the largest public union.

If you hung in through that first line here's the issue: Under the Republican congress while Bush was still in office, they mandated that the USPS fully fund it's retirement plans for the next 75 years and do it within 10 years!. They set them up for failure and expect them to fund the retirement plans of people NOT EVEN BORN YET.

So...getting out of the way of whether we can live with reduced USPS services...should we let this happen when it's intent is to rob workers of good government jobs and give the operation to private sector profit-above-all?

Thanks, Substrate.
I was aware that the Republicans had been doing something evil to USPS, but couldn't recall the specifics.

geek - The current administration with the support of the D's in Congress just pushed the USPS in the same direction. It was in the news about 5 or 6 weeks ago IIRC. In fact, I believe these latest "adjustments' are a direct result of the retirement funding requirement.

Tis entirely believable. The D's seem to be amenable to being manuveured by the R's into doing things against their own best interest.

geek - The current administration with the support of the D's in Congress just pushed the USPS in the same direction. It was in the news about 5 or 6 weeks ago IIRC. In fact, I believe these latest "adjustments' are a direct result of the retirement funding requirement.

I think the reason they want to break the union is that currently, there is a no layoff clause in the postal workers contract, so the USPS is forced to maintain these staffing levels even as the amount of work they actually do(number of items delivered) is rapidly shrinking. And the importance of those items is shrinking too - junk mail is a higher proportion of the business, and do we really need a federal government agency delivering junk mail?

Of course, the R's hate unions just on principle, and when they insist on such things as no layoff clauses, I hate them too. Same for whoever was the weak management that agreed to the clauses in the first place - they should have been laid off for agreeing to the no layoff!

Not aware of the details. But the R's have been trying to destroy unions for decades. They hope to defund any group that funds their political opposition. And they've been pretty successful at it, the fraction of the workforce thats now unionized is down by more than 50%.

I find this funny because old British books (say, Jane Austin, but I can't remember) causally mention (paraphrased) "I sent my reply with the morning post and his reply arrived in the afternoon delivery".

House to house, twice a day, by horse? Now it takes three days to go across a town that I can cycle in 10 minutes in the snow.

Could also be a comment on the time period, when the local postman could pickup mail from one mailbox on his route in the morning, see it was to another person on the same route and drop off the letter, then repeat the process on his way back in the afternoon. If I was to send a letter to a neighbor today it would have to travel a minimum of 160 miles 80 to the sorting center and back for it to get to them.

To be be fair 3 days coast to coast in the U.S. seems incredibly fast for a physical document. We have for a time made the whole world 3-10 days away whether it's halfway around the world or your nextdoor neighbor. :)

I think twice-daily deliveries didn't cease in New York City until the 1960s. It would not have been unusual to mail a letter and have it turn up elsewhere in the city or the metro area (not just on the same delivery route) the next morning. Of course, many standards of "service" have slipped quite badly. There was also an era when trains and even buses were expected to be punctual, and drivers who were recalcitrant enough could even be fired. But nowadays, anything goes.

I think people really underestimate the size of the "informal" economy. I know many people who rely on the mail to send packages - it seems really odd to me that people, especially people who understand resource constraints, have the attitude that the post office is somehow dispensible, or that nobody really needs it. One of my neighbors gets medical supplies through the mail, as one example. How much longer are UPS and Fedex going to be sustainable ?
Most small businesses I work with look for every avenue to cut costs and be competitive, just to stay alive - many no longer use UPS - they've turned to Priority Mail.

Fedex Small Package rates to rise 4.9% in 2012 :-


This after similar increases in 2010 :-


And in 2011 :-


There are no brakes on this train...

How much longer are UPS and Fedex going to be sustainable ?

Probably longer than the post office, since they able to cherry pick the most profitable routes, and also are not dependent on first class mail (vulnerable to e-mail and the like) and junk mail (vulnerable to the bad economy).

"...especially people who understand resource constraints, have the attitude that the post office is somehow dispensible, or that nobody really needs it."

I do not recommend that it be eliminated. I do not know what portion of their budget is energy, vehicles and building heat. What I'm suggesting is that next day delivery probably costs 'extra' compared to maybe a day or two later, that is all.

We are in a different energy situation and adjustments will be made, this looks to me as a "shovel ready" project. I suspect we could all adjust to 3 day a week mail, by planning ahead, that is all.

What people ought to find scary is how speed has replaced inventory in supply chains in general.

If you look at the links I posted, a common theme is to justify the continual increase in freight rates by saying it reduces the need for working capital and storage of inventory. That is a situation very vulnerable to interruptions in the supply chain e.g. a sudden gasoline shortage, since there are now very few buffers in the system.

People are becoming conditioned to speed - if it doesn't come fast, they do not want to use the service. The "instant gratification" mindset. For small business trying to compete, they are between a rock and a hard place - continually having to offer discounted prices and lower shipping rates, while costs continue to escalate.

While it may be ok to say that granny's holiday card can come a day later, small businesses waiting for checks in the mail could have cashflow seriously impacted - many walk a very thin line between a positive and negative cash balance in the checking account - and overdraft fees can be prohibitively expensive.

I don't think people understand how many small businesses still use USPS to mail invoices and checks, because to purchase software to allow for online billpay also has its costs, and cost for merchant services is often volume-based.

The problem with the post office is NOT first class mail. The problem is the junk mail that is sent for a tiny fraction of the cost of first class mail!
Magazines, newspapers and books should get a cut rate. All other letter/envelope size should be first class. There should be NO fourth class junk mail! No handling massive quantities of junk mail below cost and then blaming first class mail for the financial shortfall.
Problem solved.

Providiing for the delivery of mail is one of the specific responsibilities that the US Congress has listed for it in the US Constitution. The US Congres has abrogated their resposibility to the US Postal delivery service the same way they abrogated their responsibility to the coining of currency as listed in the US Constitution by by delegating these items to private (Federal Reserve) or semi-private (US Post Office) businesses.

Magazines, newspapers and books should get a cut rate.

I don;t see why this should be the case at all. That is picking one industry - the legacy publishing industry - to benefit at the expense of all others. This is just subsidising a different unneccesary use of paper, to the detriment of your local bookstore.

The problem for the post office is their operating structure and embedded/legacy costs.

They need to be able to re-organise (not eliminate) their service to adapt to the changing needs of it.

The thing is, it is not clear just what/how much those needs will be, and how they should be priced.

couriers have a tremendous advantage in that they only go somewhere when they actually have something to pick up and deliver. The postal service has to do all its runs, to or past all addresses, every day, regardless of whether or not there is something to deliver. That is exactly the sort of inefficiency that only exists in government services.

It is time for a change, butting getting agreement or acceptance of what the change should be will be almost impossible.

One thing is for sure - while many older people cling fondly to it, the younger generation could care less about the postal service and every day delivery etc. It is only a matter of time before they get their way.

The solution is simple: what is weight of object in the mail; how much does it cost USPO to deliver that weight. Charge that... no special classes. Mail is mail. you want special service, speedier delivery, fine - pay for it! either do FedEx or Express Mail (by weight and speed). It is not really that difficult to compute. The problem is the spam!!!! Just like the internet!

If USPO charged what it costs, i would have much less crap to throw in my recycle. If they were charged what it costs, maybe we would waste less paper/trees/energy. Really. It is not difficult.

And, it is the special interests (as usual) who benefit from the wasted part! A Pox on all their houses.


I think the problem is first class mail. E-mail has killed first class mail, and it's likely to get worse, not better. Since 2005, junk mail is where most of the post office revenue comes from; the reason they are talking about being forced to shut down this winter is because junk mail has fallen due to the recession.

Not only have personal letters and cards moved online, more and more people are paying their bills online, too. That's a huge hit for the post office, and getting huger. This is not going to change in the near future; the post office, like newspapers, has to adjust to the new reality.

This article, called The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse, points to Europe as a model for the USPS. They had massive postal reform, almost by accident. The formation of the EU resulted in the national postal systems being thrown into competition with each other, like private companies would have been. Against huge resistance, they made some big changes.

Many countries closed as many of their brick-and-mortar post offices as possible, moving these services into gas stations and convenience stores, which then take them over—just as the USPS is trying to do now, only far more aggressively. Today, Sweden's Posten runs only 12 percent of its post offices. The rest are in the hands of third parties. Deutsche Post is now a private company and runs just 2 percent of the post offices in Germany. In contrast, the USPS operates all of its post offices.

Some of these newly energized mail services used the savings to pursue new business lines. Deutsche Post bought DHL, a package deliverer that competes with FedEx and UPS. "More than half of our workforce is outside of Germany," says Markus Reckling, executive vice-president for corporate development at Deutsche Post. "It's pretty much the same thing for our profits."

Many used their extra cash to create digital mail products that allow customers to send and receive letters from their computers. Itella, the Finnish postal service, keeps a digital archive of its users' mail for seven years and helps them pay bills online securely. Swiss Post lets customers choose if they want their mail delivered at home in hard copy or scanned and sent to their preferred Internet-connected device. Customers can also tell Swiss Post if they would rather not receive items such as junk mail.

Sweden's Posten has an app that lets customers turn digital photos on their mobile phones into postcards. It is unveiling a service that will allow cell-phone users to send letters without stamps. Posten will text them a numerical code that they can jot down on envelopes in place of a stamp for a yet-to-be-determined charge.

Great article!

From that link;

The Kentucky letter carrier is stoic about his scrapes [with dogs]. Some things about his job are eternal. Others are changing rapidly. He carries a lot more of what he calls "standard mail." "Civilians call it junk mail," Rice says, joking. "We don't like that term. We call it job security."

The article goes into some detail about the very generous concessions granted to the postal unions and their 550,000 employees, including a no layoff provision.

This sort of thing is exactly why government should not be in the business of operating businesses.

I would agree with the conclusion of this article that it will probably take a real "crash" (defaulting on pension obligations etc) for any real reform to happen.

The purpose of the postal service is to deliver mail, not be a cushy job at taxpayer expense.

This sort of thing is exactly why government should not be in the business of operating businesses.

And yet Governments are operating businesses, most are incorporated.

E-mail has killed first class mail

And actions by firms like Paetec - they charge $8 to have a 2 or 3 page bill mailed have helped move people.

Yes, there's that. Being charged a fee to get a bill via mail is enough to encourage even people who hate computers to pay online.

And there are also the less straightforward costs of paying via mail. I'm sure you've heard the complaints about Citibank and others trying to run up customers' fees by intentionally delaying crediting their payments. Paying online lets you avoid all that. You can pay as late as 5pm the day the payment is due and avoid penalty. Also, fewer trees killed, and no worries about your mail being stolen by identity thieves. (Yes, there's still online hacking to worry about...but you are vulnerable to that even if you don't pay online.)

Now more and more people are paying via cell phone. I just don't see the momentum away from dead tree bills changing anytime soon.

I pay my Bank America credit card online. They don't take payment immediately, rather they 'schedule' the payment for the last day possible. Worked OK for months but last month they did not take the payment until 3 days after the deadline. Plenty of money in my checking account, they were just late. They charged me $20 for late payment. I tried to email them but their email was down. I tried calling but the voice was so garbled I gave up. $20 stolen from me. If it happens again I'll go to my bank and cancel their withdraw ability, cut my credit card in half and settle with their collection agency for 50 cents on the dollar at some point in the future. FU Bank America.

I suspect you just don't generate enough fees for them. Banks use computerized algorithms to identify "bad customers". Now a bad customer isn't necessarily one who does irresponsible things like overdraw their account. More likely one whose fees don't cover the costs of service. These "bad" customers, they act terribly to, in the hopes they will take their business elsewhere. Maybe you fit their badboy profile?

Clark Howard did a spot on this very issue. He says BOA will use weekends and holidays to "manufacture" a late payment. He hates this bank with a passion; says to fire them now! He recommends using small local banks or credit unions. I won't do business with any of the "big six" banks, or anyone affiliated with them. They're "what's wrong with America".

One comment from the link:

Posted by jeanneteacher at 2:11 p.m. May 26, 2011

I don't carry a balance but got ripped off by BofA anyway. I scheduled a transfer from my checking account 2 weeks before the payment due date on my credit card. It was scheduled to be transferred on the due date for the outstanding balance. it should have occured last week. Instead, I checked my account today and found the transfer had "Failed". Add fees and interest to the balance on my account. I did an immediate transfer that shows pending on my account.

I e-mailed customer no service with the copied text clearly showing the failure and asking for fees to be refunded. I was told the new payment would have to post before they could even consider it! I was never notified of the failure of the transfer!!

There are legitimate reasons for "junk mail" (or direct mail/standard mail) getting lower rates than first class mail, on a per-piece basis if I remember correctly (having done a bit of mail house work).

In order to get lower bulk rates from USPO, mailers have to put a good amount of effort into standardizing and properly coding recipient addresses down to the zip4/carrier route level. This saves the USPO money, as sorting non-standardized addresses is hugely expensive for them.

As pointed out by others, USPO actually makes a good chunk of change from this type of mail.

Hmmm, mail from the UK can take up to 2 months or more to get through to me here. Mail from China usually 1-2 weeks. Anything urgent gets couriered.


Down here mail from Canada has a 2 month delay and a 60% arrival rate. Using a courier to send a letter to the US/Peru costs about a day's wages. I think a decent postal system costs society less than relying on a smattering of private couriers, especially if you think that people who live in remote regions deserve service.

Lived on a 10-section farm near Visalia, CA for a few months (not particularly remote). Mail made it there every day. UPS and FedEx we usually had to drive into town to pickup (they always claimed specious delivery problems), in reality it took too long so they skipped us (but collected their full rate up front and cost us a trip to town).

If I remember correctly, there was a story about how the US postal service was profitable, except for governments dipping their hands into its pockets and generally screwing around with it for political ends.

For an agency that's looking to go forward, they should be looking at how they can RAISE that on-time delivery number - not lower it. Next day delivery is the bare minimum expected in the modern world for anything that's not junk.

From a logistics/energy use PoV, late delivery is unlikely to improve matters. Think of the extra mass of mail in the system that would need accommodating. It's still physically got to move from point A to point B. About the only saving is potentially on less flights and less frequent delivery runs.

Better to rethink the logistics chain to address the 'last mile' issue, which is where most of the cost comes in. Delivery to the house is less than ideal when most people leave for work in the morning before the delivery. Think smart about that and you can probably drive down costs whilst improving on-time delivery.

Next day delivery is the bare minimum expected in the modern world for anything that's not junk.

Disagree entirely.

I do not expect/need next day delivery for a postcard, Xmas card, letter to my aunt, a wedding invitation, a utlity bill etc etc.
If you really need it there next day, then you can pay for it - which usually means a 10x increase.

This uneccessary need for speed is, as the original poster commented, is part of the problem. It has resulted in large amounts of mail being airfreighted across the country, for the sake of said next day delivery. It also means there are delivery routes being run every single day regardless of mail volumes - very inefficient.

Doing one or two day per week (residential) delivery will improve logistics tremendously. Consider;
-without the urgency, much more stuff can be grounded transported.
- it might be routed along a longer, but more economical path, if time is not of the essence.
- without the urgency, mail delivery can be to the group boxes instead of door to door.
-The number of delivery staff, and vehicle miles driven, can be halved.

There are so many ways to improve things when speed is not of the essence.

Sorry, but what you talk about is "second class". Fine, if you want that service you get a (small) reduction in cost. Everyone else who pays for "first class" has a right to expect just that level of service.

While you personally might not care how long a postcard, xmas card, etc. takes to get there (which is why you'd select second class) there are plenty of others that do. If you are attempting to run a system such as the postal system and don't realise that the basis, default, level is next day, then you need to get another job.

Sorry, but 'sometime' just isn't acceptable.

I have never expected next day delivery with first class mail. I don't think many people do expect it. They say 1-3 days, but it's more usually three than one. And if you're sending something from Bangor to Honolulu, it will probably be more than three days.


Do you mean Bangor, Maine? Surprised you have heard of it unless your from the northeast part of N. America.

DC (from near Bangor)

As the old saying goes,

"It ain't at the end of the world, but you can see it from there."

Might not be as obscure as you think..

Stephen King has made Bangor rather famous.

Good point. I am not that big a fan of his work so I didn't know where he lived until I moved here.

It's not just where he lives. He sets most of his stories in Maine. Bangor is the "big city" in his stories (which are mostly set in fictional small towns that are supposed to be near Bangor).

OT, best Bangor chuckle..a few years back someone on the "no fly" list , might have been Cat Stevens, was coming to Boston from London, TSA decided the plane would not be allowed to land in the USA so it was diverted to Bangor, Maine. Got a real chuckle out of those headlines.

Don in Maine

Maybe they thought it was Bangor, Wales, UK?

Cat Stevens was actually flying under his Islamic name, Yusuf Islam. The British authorities let him on the plane in London because his name was not on the no-fly list, but the American authorities took him off and deported him back to Britain because there was a "Youssouf Islam" on the list.

British foreign minister Jack Straw said the TSA action "should never have been taken." Two years later Yusuf was admitted to the US without incident. The TSA is presumably still watching for Youssouf.

At the time, two British newspapers voiced their support for Yusuf's exclusion from the U.S., claiming that he had supported terrorism. Yusuf sued them for libel and received a substantial out-of-court financial settlement and apologies from the newspapers. You have to be very careful what you say about prominent people in Britain.

Third boxcar, midnight train
Destination...Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out suits and shoes,
I don't pay no union dues,
I smoke old stogies I have found
Short, but not too big around
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.


I believe the story was that they stopped a 'Cat Stevens', but it wasn't the Pop Singer who became an outspoken Muslim, but was in fact Catherine Stevens, wife of AK Senator Ted Stevens, a very prominent conservative.

'History may not repeat, but it does rhyme..' Mark Twain


Senator Stevens. Now, I'm going to get shot when I get home tonight. My colleagues know this. Repeatedly, we have been stopped because my wife's name is Catherine Stevens. And it comes out, in terms of the No Fly List, as "Cat Stevens." As a matter of fact, one time I personally was taken to the security advisor because I was checking in the baggage in her name--mine and hers--and they took me, too.

On average: Medford, OR to Auburn, AL runs 6-7 days for First Class mail. (1 oz letter) The same in the other direction. That's my experience throughout this last year communicating with my in-laws in Medford. Certified mail for the same path took 9 days.

It routinely takes 5-7 days to get my mail because USPS contracts the route out.

Neither end is contracted out in my case. USPS employees deliver both ends, in USPS vehicles, from the USPS Post Office. Both ends are within the city limits.

Gary, you said that next day is the "bare minimum" expected - what then, would you call the "maximum" that is expected?

I think next day is the maximum, and should be priced accordingly, as it forces the use of things like air travel etc. Look at the pricing of Fedex for air (next day) compared to ground non-priority. The difference can be 10:1, as it allows them to route it in the cheapest way possible.

Why should the post office not have the ability to do the same. For first class (next day), price it at 5x that of second class (5days) and leave it at that.

I will maintain that most people sending personal stuff do not place a high priority (enough to pay more than 2x cost) for next day delivery. In fact, same with many businesses too.

If I am attempting to run a service like the post, my goal is to get the things delivered to where they need to go, intact, in the timeframe that the customer paid for.

Now, how we price things like first and second class is the real question - I think that next day delivery can and should be priced higher than what it is. I also think the post service should make the reforms and go to 2x per week delivery - there are huge cost savings to be had. Then, the customers can decide if they really *want* to pay the premium for next day, and many - I expect most - won't.

There is a real cost for speed, and currently it is not captured in postal service pricing. It is forcing them to maintain a huge staff and infrastructure , far beyond the level of what is needed.

And these days, I think we need to be serious about what is "needed" vs what is "wanted"


If next day is minimum, I'd suggest same day is maximum - post before x hrs in the morning and it's delivered before y hrs.

Realistically most US mail that's travelling interstate needs to go via air anyway.

And as I said, most of the cost is actually in the last mile. What they need to do is revolutionise their service there - and in particular look to gain more of the parcel delivery from online merchants businesses.

There is no reason anything should, or need, be ceeded to Fedex.

Well, i guess we'll have to agree to disagree on minimums and maximums.

In my opinion, the function of the post office is to provide the essential service of mail *delivery*.

Now, the service of fast mail delivery is not essential, IMO, it is a luxury, or something of personal/business advantage, but it is not what I would call essential.

Why is it essential for something to be delivered next or same day? It was not essential in the days before air travel, and the mail service was more important then than it is now. If you want fast, pay for a courier, rather than have this massive infrastructure that is fast becoming way over capacity for an increasingly redundant service.

If the mail was three day service, then much of it could go by rail and/or truck.
AS for the last mile cost, the two greatest ways to address that are not go the last mile - i.e. the community boxes, and only go to those twice a week. Problem solved.

A real part of the problem is that the costs of operating the postal service are not nearly reflected in it's pricing, and the UK example shows that. Look at the differential of Fedex etc for next day vs five day delivery - it is substantial, and is likely a good reflection of the costs of providing those services.

I do not think that a government agency should be trying to "gain more business" - leave that to business, and let government get on with, well, governing - there is plenty of room for improvement there.

As I said at the beginning, as I understand it, the US postal system is profitable excepting silly rules being placed on it. Thus there is no need to cut the service to provide private companies with the opportunity to cherry pick tasks and reap larger profits.


Actually I DO think a government agency should be trying to make sure they deliver a good service, and that that service is in fact a key utility that needs government control. I'd like to see a level playing field enforced such that UPS, etc. have to provide the same breadth of service provision as the US postal service. To an american that may sound like a very 'european' viewpoint - I just think it's fairness not to damn an organisation because you've slanted the rules against them.

Next day delivery, five days a week, at a reasonable cost, to everyone.

Well, given that he is the head of postal union, I don;t trust his numbers too much.

BUT if he maintains that the USPS has been profitable, and will stay profitable, then fine. It should be mandated that it gets zero funding from the Fed, for anything - pensions, health care etc.

If revenues drop, then their costs have to drop too, but with union enforced no layoff and guaranteed pay rise clauses, that is kinda hard to do.

I'd like to see a level playing field enforced such that UPS, etc. have to provide the same breadth of service provision as the US postal service.

Not sure exactly what you are getting at here. do you mean that Fedex + UPS should have to do everything the USPS does - office in every town, delivery to every door every day, etc? What would be the point in that.

Next day delivery, five days a week, at a reasonable cost, to everyone.

And delivery to the door, or to neighborhood boxes?

Given what people have said upthread, many of them are not even getting close to next day service on first class mail today - so there will be an increase in cost just to get to that level.

Your plan sounds simple enough - but what is a *reasonable* cost? And what if, by going to 2x delivery a week (which also means 2-2 days delivery time) the cost is halved, or even less? Do you force everyone to pay the cost of maintaining next day/five day even if many people no longer need that?

If the cost of getting a parcel delivered next day by Fedex is $20, and getting the same thing by USPS in 2-3 days is $5, which way will you go?

The real issue is whether standard letter mail really needs to be next day delivery.

The USPS could go to 2x week for standard mail, and if they want to offer a next day "courier" , at extra cost, then they could do so, and you can choose if it is really that important. Then you do not have mailmen walking past every address, every day, whether or not there is any mail, (other than junk mail) to deliver.

Getting the post delivered is an essential service. Getting it delivered next day is a luxury- why make everyone pay for a luxury that fewer people are using each year?

It should be mandated that it gets zero funding from the Fed, for anything - pensions, health care etc.

That has been the case for about 30 years now. The only exception is federal funding they get to provide free postage for the blind, and to handle absentee ballots for US voters overseas. Quite reasonable, since those are federal mandates.

That's good, but what happens now? From that article you linked upthread, their volumes and revenues are shrinking, but their costs are not. So something has to change. The unions, of course, won't budge, and are demanding the USPS try all sorts of things purely to keep their staffing levels going.

This dinosaur isn't going extinct, but it does need to lose some weight.

I packed up a box of product for a client ... in general it would arrive the next day or the day after (it was only cross town). But she (the client) said - could you pull out some of that stuff and send it express post, so I definitely absolutely have that specific product ahead of the rest? Sure - I pulled it out and sent it ($12.00 extra), but as you would expect, it all arrived in her office the next day. I love Australia Post.

Re: Sea Levels Will Rise Much Faster Than Previously Predicted, Says New Report on Antarctic Polar Ice Melt

This story is about a report published in last Friday's SCIENCE.

M. E. Weber, P. U. Clark, W. Ricken, J. X. Mitrovica, S. W. Hostetler, G. Kuhn, "Interhemispheric Ice-Sheet Synchronicity During the Last Glacial Maximum", DOI: 10.1126/science.1209299


The timing of the last maximum extent of the Antarctic ice sheets relative to those in the Northern Hemisphere remains poorly understood. We develop a chronology for the Weddell Sea sector of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that, combined with ages from other Antarctic ice-sheet sectors, indicates that the advance to and retreat from their maximum extent was within dating uncertainties synchronous with most sectors of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. Surface climate forcing of Antarctic mass balance would probably cause an opposite response, whereby a warming climate would increase accumulation but not surface melting. Our new data support teleconnections involving sea-level forcing from Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and changes in North Atlantic deep-water formation and attendant heat flux to Antarctic grounding lines to synchronize the hemispheric ice sheets.

Without taking the time for careful reading, I think this result will prove to be very important, as the timing of the glaciers' growth and decay between hemispheres is a question which has not been completely nailed as yet. This result must be compared with that published on SCIENCE Express which claims to show less difference between recent global temperatures and those at LGM...

E. Swanson

BD -

Ran across an article that may partially explain why methane level are not rising as fast as expected - based on current venting of the East Siberian sub-sea permafrost.

Connecting Ice And Air

The loss of Arctic sea ice may change atmospheric chemistry, because reactions on the ice surface play a role in the chemistry of the air above. ... Arctic atmospheric chemistry centers on halogens. Seawater contains chloride, bromide, and small amounts of iodide. As seawater freezes, those ions and compounds other than water get excluded from the bulk ice. The result is that sea ice somewhat resembles Swiss cheese, with brine contained in pockets and channels between ice crystal grain boundaries ...

The brine also winds up on the ice surface, where its contents can react with the air above. Undetermined chemicals in the atmosphere oxidize Br– and Cl– on the ice to form Br2 and Cl2, which enter the atmosphere. Sunlight then photolyzes Br2 and Cl2 to extremely reactive Br• and Cl•. The halogen radicals cleanse the atmosphere of ground-level pollutants by reacting with ozone and a variety of organic and inorganic compounds, including SO2 and mercury.

In 2009, Arctic atmosphere researchers were able to augment their understanding by using mass spectrometry for the first time to look for chlorine as well as bromine species. Georgia Institute of Technology atmospheric chemistry professor L. Gregory Huey and colleagues found Cl2 that was “clearly being produced on snow and ice surfaces in the area around Barrow,” Huey says. The group found that, in turn, Cl• was oxidizing most of the methane in the air.

The methane plateau seems to correlate with the increase in open sea and increase in first-year ice. Not sure if correlation equals causation, though.

Interesting information, added to all the other recent information on global warming. Even China now wants to support emission cuts. Just today this article came out.

'China Signals Shift on Emissions'

DURBAN, South Africa—China gave a jolt to United Nations-led climate talks by appearing to call for binding emissions cuts, prompting some industrial powers to reconsider their positions at a conference where few had expected real progress.

"We accept a legally binding arrangement," he said.

It looks like the US is on a short list of countries that completely refutes global warming. It's going to take a lot to change those positions too. Many in the House and Senate passionately deny AGW. For many of them the whole idea is so preposterous its considered a hoax, a conspiracy by the scientific community. How does that ever get changed? How can there be binding emission cuts without the US, the 2nd largest emitter of GHG's?

Let's note that China's "acceptance" came with lots of strings attached: China wouldn't be bound to anything until after 2020, the developed countries would have to make large reductions between now and 2020, and the developed countries would have to make hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in developing countries. The size of China's reductions after 2020 are unspecified, to be "negotiated" in the future.

Strikes me as an excellent maneuver -- assuming it was accepted -- to get a lot more of the world's manufacturing relocated to China. Which, in another decade, might put them in a position to thumb their nose at the rest of the world...

Guess I should have read the details.

That is some very clever bargaining by China. Not only does it handicap developed countries ability to produce, it forces them to invest in "infrastructure" in developing countries. This will then support the growth of consumer classes in those countries, thus expanding the markets for Chinese exports.

The deal needs to have no strings attached, otherwise, there should be no deal.

The deal needs to have no strings attached, otherwise, there should be no deal.

A deal is a bunch of 'strings attached' to both parties that both parties think they can live with. A deal with no strings attached in not a deal at all.

As I recall, the Chinese position at Copenhagen was that they would do what they felt it was possible for them to do, but would not commit to anything because the future was just too uncertain. To which the West responded that the West would do nothing without a legally binding commitment from China. So the conference ended with nothing, just as the West said it wanted.

To me, it is good news that they talk about binding commitments at all, since there is no way we can force them. Can the West, the US, and/or Europe establish a enforceable embargo on China, as we are trying to do on Iran? What does 'enforceable' mean in diplomacy? Will we refuse to sell our (superior?) wind turbine technology to them? Will we refuse to buy their rare earth metals? What?

We could deal with Chinese emissions by taxing Chinese imports to account for carbon emitted in their production and transport. International trade rules may need to be rewritten to accomodate such action. I think this will be unnecessary if the US would just fall in line. Other countries could do the same to US imports, if the US refuses to take action on climate change.


Here you are using the verb 'deal':
"We could deal with Chinese emissions by ... "

Before you were using the noun 'deal':
"The deal needs to have ... " and
"... there should be no deal."

My understanding of language is that these are two different words whose different word meanings lead to very different sentence meanings.

An informal way of characterizing your new suggestion is "tit for tat", which is not negotiating per se and is widely deplored by professional diplomats. It is a way of dealing with a problem, but is it a way that will do us credit as a great nation? Perhaps not, IMHO.

Why should we care about our reputation? It is sooooo much easier to get your way on all sorts of things is you are widely believed to be reasonable and good than if you are widely viewed as a bully, IMHO.

It wouldn't much matter if we could hire diplomats who could walk on water, raise the dead, multiply loaves and fishes, and stuff like that, but people who can do stuff like that tend to insist on us obeying them rather than the other way around.

The deal needs to have no strings attached, otherwise, there should be no deal.

Exactly - Look at the 70% baggage of failure so far on Carbon control.
The strings attached are the vampire squid banks and all the other glad handlers with their outstretched hands will need to be addressed otherwise the goal of Carbon reduction will degenerate into yet another forced transfer of money from the poor to the rich.

Our new data support teleconnections involving sea-level forcing from Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and changes in North Atlantic deep-water formation and attendant heat flux to Antarctic grounding lines to synchronize the hemispheric ice sheets.

Can someone translate this into understandable language ... these scientists really must start to understand that Plain English is an asset, not an attack on their skills. Sheesh.

It says that ice sheet in both hemisphere are melting synchronously. The mechanism is probably a modification of the deep Altalantic current that bring heat to Antarctic.

I read it to mean that it suggests that they've found a link between cold water flowing from the ice sheets in the Arctic to the freezing/thawing in the Antarctic. There's a link between the systems at either end of the planet.

The trouble with scientists being very good at what they do is that to be very good requires them to be very precise. It isn't anything personal, or even trying to be clever. The ability to "deconstruct" maybe several years worth of painstaking research into chunks that are understandable by a layman is a skill that most people don't have, let alone scientists.

In general "teleconnections" refers to impacts on largescale circulation -popularly called jet streams. These have a wavelike structure as you go around the world, push the jetstrean south here, it pops northword over there, and southward over there... So if you have a persistent feature, say a warm pool of ocean water that tends to push the jetstream at that longitude away from the equator, the ripple effect (north/south meanders) effects that stream all the way around the world.

Nome Alaska is a mile long by a half mile wide. They need a shuttle to get to the airport, to get the old people and pregnant ladies to the hospital, and to get to the outlying camps. But the kids and workers can all walk. If anything this will help this grossly unhealthy population quite a bit. And yes it's cold, but not Fairbanks cold.

"the kids and workers can all walk"

The workers maybe but not the kids. It wouldn't be "safe" or acceptable by current standards - conceivably, Social Services might even separate said kids from their "negligent" parents.

On another hand, though, here we have MSNBC trumping up an idiosyncratic local situation that lacks wider implications. After all, how much of an added hardship could even $9 really be - how many weeks would it take to use up a gallon or two in such a tiny place? It seems as though the per-mile cost of a car must already be astronomical anyhow, but for another reason altogether: rust and deterioration never sleep even when there's essentially nowhere to drive.

But on yet another hand still - and MSNBC doesn't say - is electricity also an issue? Are they generating it (or not) with diesel from that same barge?

Those Romantic Wood Stoves

As usual with such stories, they look at the use of an old stove built before modern efficiency/emissions standards - a.k.a a "smoke dragon" and make sweeping generalities about the deficiencies of wood heating. And it appears he is using poor burn practices to boot (not building small hot fires when less heat is needed, dumping ashes right from the firebox onto the grass??)

If the columnist made use of a modern US EPA certified unit with good dry wood and proper burn techniques 90% of his issues would be gone. He would also need far less wood.

Well, he's kind of unclear on the whole concept of wood heat, and his stove does need upgrading to a modern, efficient one.

The idea of paying $225 for a cord of wood is a big city concept. He needs to cut it himself from his own woodlot. The biggest cost is fuel for the chainsaw, and you get lots of good exercise in the process of splitting it.

My brother has some recreational property near Priest River, Idaho, which is a lumber mill town. He went looking to buy a cord of wood from the local stores. He couldn't find any wood to buy. The locals just looked at him like he was out of his mind and said, "Everybody here cuts their own wood." Of course, it was free for them because they just cut down standing deadwood that the lumber companies didn't want.

I tried that hand splitting routine for a while. Then a couple of years ago, I cut up a blown down 24 inch oak, which was still green. Using a splitting maul, I hit it as hard as I could and the maul just bounced back from the wood. I couldn't even get a wedge started in it. I then tried really, really hard, swinging the maul with all my skinny body could deliver. I threw my back out. I now own a hydraulic log splitter...

E. Swanson

How about this tree?


It says it took twenty cutters seven days to remove this 26-foot diameter section of a 2000 year old tree.

It seems to have ended up as firewood during WW2.

I'm glad I've got a gas fire.


Well, when you're splitting, there's wood and then there's wood.

The one-foot diameter lodgepole pine trees I cut down to build the house (plus some that just arbitrarily died on their own) were easy enough to split after a little seasoning. One whack with an ax and the round is in two, two more whacks and it's in quarters, four more whacks and you've got eight nice fireplace size pieces.

However, now I'm down to some two-foot diameter rounds of really good quality white spruce tree (I hated to cut down that tree, but it was in the middle of where the living room was supposed to be).

I whacked away at one of the rounds with ax for half an hour, and got nowhere - and this thing has been sitting in the shed for 20 years. I think I'll take them to a friend who has an hydraulic splitter.


You are right on that one. Splitting wood is tough work, especially if your an old dog like us.

I love my log splitter man ;-) I rebuilt mine last year with a bigger engine and pump (electric start!). It'll cruise through the mightiest, hardest oak burl in no time.

Thats why I switched from the maul to a Fiskars Super Splitter. Splits with a fraction of the effort and much less wear on your shoulders.

Im surprised oak was so tough - I find it actually splits very easy green. On big rounds I just whack the corners off first before hitting the middle. Applewood OTOH , what a stringy mess...

I have that axe, and it does a good job, though I prefer my Swedish made racing axe - it does a really good job.

However, for the least effort for manual splitting, this device is the way to go. I know one guy who bought this - because it makes wood splitting easy enough that his wife can do it!

It is also much safer to use, especially for splitting kindling.


Siberian elm up here, splits much like american elm, in other words, tears apart more than actually splits.

Elm, good for seats on chairs. The fibres help stop the seats from splitting.


I'm guessing you tried that on a warm day. Wood splits better when it's frozen. Frozen green oak practically shatters.

and his stove does need upgrading to a modern, efficient one.

Not to mention a safer one.

When I moved into my previous house, which had a big, old cast iron stove, the insurance company refused to insure the place for fire until that stove was removed. Not only do these old ones often cause chimney fires, they can also leak combustion gases (carbon monoxide) into the living space.

Put in a modern EPA certified stove and many of his complaints will dissappear.

The real problem is not that he is in the woods, it is that he has gone from newish stuff (house and gas furnace) to old stuff - old cabin and old fireplace. I'm sure if he went back to driving a 1950's car with manual choke etc he (and I) would complain about that too.

Part of living in the woods is doing stuff yourself, if he doesn't like that then he should go back into the city.

To me that stove looks like scrap metal. You can buy stoves pretty cheap these days and they are very efficient. No reason whatsoever to have that fire hazard in a house with children.

6 cords? Either that stove is pumping the heat right out the roof or that house has no insulation whatsoever.

I've seen new stoves that are 80+% efficient.

If I'm not mistaken it's a Riteway, which was heavy gauge steel, well built but old school and not very efficient. My folks had one; lots of heat requiring lots of wood. The stove I'm using today replaced it (Hearthstone).

The idea of paying $225 for a cord of wood is a big city concept.

The problem with buying wood by volume is that you have no idea how much heat you are buying. Even though all woods supply about an average of 7000 BTU per POUND, the varying densities of the different species means that they each have different total heat values by volume.
The only way you can get a really good idea of how much heat value you are buying when buying wood is to buy by weight. Then multiply the weight in pounds by 7000 to get the total heat value that you have bought. Then multiply that by the relative efficiency (%= 0.XX) of your wood burning appliance (average is about 50% for modern wood burning appliance over a years heating cycle) to find out how many BTU you are going to supply your building.

I have to disagree.

To get an idea of how much heat you are buying, you should know, or specify, the species you are getting. If you can't tell the difference between the local species, and you are using wood, then you should educate yourself. Just like different grades of gasoline, different species have different energy per volume, and volume is more feasible for the consumer to measure than weight.

A good list of wood heat, by species, is at

And there is a very good calculator, to let you compare to all other fuels, at:

Buying wood by weight is dependent on the moisture content - 7000 btu/lb is for oven dry wood - but when do you buy that?

If buying by weight, the vendor can sell you less-seasoned wood for a higher price per piece
And measuring moisture contents can be quite variable from piece to piece.

For this reason, in Canada anyway, it is illegal to sell firewood by weight. The only legal units are cords, cubic feet and cubic metres (and fractions thereof)


It is helpful though to have an idea of the heat value per pound. Doug Fir, for example, has more BTUs per pound than Hickory, a factoid that surprises a lot of people. Doug Fir also burn the cleanest of any wood I've ever burned, and I've been heating with wood for 40 odd years.

Having gone from being an NC resident to an Oregonian I've had experience with both the eastern and western woods that are available. The white oak that is available here in Oregon is just about the toughest to split (excepting mayber Black Gum, which IMO is unsplittable) I've ever seen. It gets easier when it dries, but it's still tough. Some Eastern varieties of oak are much easier to split.

Buying cord wood in areas like where I live in Western OR is pretty easy because wood is readily available and competition among wood sellers keeps the price pretty low. I'd like to get a splitter, but as long as I'm burning easy to split stuff like Fir or Maple, a splitter just isn't worth the trouble. I can go faster with a maul, and my spouse, at 98 lbs soaking wet, is a better hand at splitting wood than most men I know.


I had a pellet stove for a few years. The best pellets were always Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir from Oregon. I tried probably 10 different types over the years. The hardwood pellets always produced so much ash that you had to clean the pot daily. The Fir would burn so hot and clean.

As Paul says moisture content is very important. With green wet wood you will use most of that 7000 btu boiling out the water. Not to mention that you are paying for water that you don't want in the first place.

I tried selling firewood a few years back by the pound, and was promptly informed that wasn't the way to do it.

In the US, federal and state laws apply to the sale of firewood. Most only allow firewood to be sold as a full or fraction of a cord: 128 cubic feet, and expressly prohibit any other description ("short cord", "face cord", pickup load, etc.). Exceptions generally apply only to retail sales in small quantities like the bundles sold at convenience stores. A cord is tightly stacked, 4 feet high, 4 feet deep, 8 feet long, generally two rows of split wood 22-24 inches long. It's a good idea to stack the delivery yourself, as many wood sellers are adept at "stretching a cord". In reality it's buyer beware, but the law is on your side.

We have a row of willow along the edge of the property which is cut back every year. This is quite thin, young, soft wood, but I wonder if it would fit your type of setup:
Accumulating woodburner for IR heating, connected to a large hot water tank and short hot bursts of fire?

I'm looking into an accumulating woodburner but I don't like to cut down the large trees for heating and are attracted to the more sustainable yearly willow clippings...

Look at chipping the willow and using a gassifyer like the GEK.


The other option - something like the Vermont green wood stove


I've always been impressed with Steve Redmond's stove, though have never gotten around to building one myself. I am dissapointed he stopped on it when he hit one small problem.

Basically, he has a top lit updraft stove, just burning wood chips instead of wood chunks or stick wood, but they do work well, and, when set up properly, are very clean burning.


The fact that he successfully burned green wood chips cleanly and at high efficiency is no small achievement, and one well worth following up on, IMO.

I've never known these laws enforced. And there are plenty of ways to get around them.

The most often way I see wood being sold is simply a truck on the side of road or in a parking lot. The bed has any amount of wood, whole or split. There's simply a price listed on a piece of cardboard. No mention of intended use, or volume.

Jon Kutz upthread makes the most salient point, often neglected. All species of wood at the same moisture content give the same btu's by weight. It's a function of wood density, different species of trees have different densities, and thus have higher heating values on a volumetric basis. I can burn the same weights of cottonwood and red fir or larch and get the same heat out. Just takes more of the former, alot more when it's riddled by carpenter ants.

The real fly in the ointment is burning butt, or base, sections. They may have more heat due to accumulated resins or oils, but then, that's not wood.

Well, if you are selling wood like that, it is OK as long as you say what fraction of a cord you are selling. Anything else and you are breaking the law, so hope someone from the weights and measures dept doesn't drive past you.

A neighbour of mine got soaked on an undersized "cord" - got about 2/3 of one. I was very tempted to call the gov on that, as there are many people around here selling undersized cords, and most frequently to the numerous elderly women that live around here. A good shake up to restore honesty would not hurt at all.

All species of wood are *not* the same btu/lb. most hardwoods are lowest, softwoods higher and oily/resinous woods like cedar, eucalyptus, melaleuca etc are higher still.

That said, the differences in wood density/specific gravity are much greater than energy density, but then, the differences in moisture content can be much greater still.

I do like the thought of burning those damned ants though!

Caveat emptor, Paul.

These trucks are often parked alongside the highway, edging the park in town. Cops are by all the time. Sellers make no mention of the volume or amount of wood, or "fraction of a cord.". "If you pay me the stated price, I'll take this stuff I got in the truck to your house."

Cellulose is cellulose. Once moisture and oil content is accounted for, the only thing left is volume, whether on a cellular scale or stacked in the shed. And MOST firewoods have essentially the same oil content. Typically you don't want to use straight western red cedar for firewood, it's oil content is such that it burns too fast. But I guess that is what Gung is after. It's great kindling though.

I burned a mess of those ants already this fall. Wood was cut late, after they had gone dormant. But payback will probably come when the ones that somehow rolled out take up shop in the shed timbers. Also burnt a yellow jacket (wasp) hive or two. That was payback for the stings of summer and early fall cutting.

During summer, while stored in my barn, I had wood with many yellow jackets slumbering on it. From time to time I was rewarded with a sting as I added it to my furnace. Maybe because they were semi awake, the stings were not really painful... itched a bit for a day was about all.

I had to clean out chimney annually, however.

Like all who have heated with wood, you get double from firewood at least. Once while splitting it, and once while burning it. In deep winter, we tobaggoned the wood from barn to basement entry. Then we warmed up by transferring a cord or two to the basement storage. Learned quickly how to tell which pieces to use at night that would bank up and last.

Today I have gas furnaces; but am in the South, so not that much need for heating other than a few times a year. Dallas does get cold, but we still have a wood fireplace with nice heatalator jacket that does a good job most of the time.

Best wishes for insect free wood.


Being in termite country, I built my woodshed out of pressure treated and concrete, away from the house. I have to admit to feeling a bit guilty when I split a big log and find an entire colony of ants "safe" inside. I guess that's how some folks will feel, WTSHTF :-/

A sawyer a bit ago taught me a great yellow jacket trick. A little bit of saw gas flung on them, or dribbled on the nest, kills quicker than any of the fancy in a can sprays. And it's right with you when cutting. That said, I had a big bunch of hides drying over the firewood of last year, about six feet high in the shed. The yellow jackets tunneled and nested all thru it, come time to fill the shed, I couldn't get close without a squadron divebombing my head. Ouch. I flung my hand up instinctively to bat the sting, and whacked the roof timbers. Another ouch, and I'm stumbling around on dropped firewood. Must have been quite funny to an observer, this gray haired dude trying to maim himself. But back to the point-neither the fancy spray cans or saw gas had an effect---they couldn't get through the tunnels and folds of the hides. Had to wait for a morning below freezing, and tear apart the mess.

Living on 250 acres and buying wood?

He did notice different woods burn differently. Give him some time and he will become a firewood aficionado (snob) like the rest of us....kindling (cedar), small extra dry fast burning starting wood, junk wood for the part day fire, big slower burning chunks for cool days(Alder), big hardwood (Maple) for holding overnight in cold weather. Doug fir for the aroma on holidays and get together's....good grief..:)

The trouble with log splitters is the ram speed. It's worth the extra cash to get a 2 speed unit. Otherwise you end up spending most of your time sitting there watching the ram crawl through empty air.

Most folks around here prefer easy splitting pine or fir, cut at between 6 and 12 inches. The larger rounds split with an easy swipe of the axe while the smaller ones don't need splitting. People mostly cut from their own property or a friend's place. Anything that's too tough to split is available free to the young bucks who want some exercise.
; )

This series has been revealing; what happens when folks decide to go off grid and realize that there's a learning curve involved. Rather than do the hard work of adapting, they point out the "flaws" in the concept. The comments are predictable.

My brother has an insert with a fan that is useless without his grid electricity and it balks at being fired really hot. While my free-standing soapstone unit is 35 years old, it is far more efficient, especially with the modifications I've made. His strategy is a constant, lower level burn, requiring frequent cleaning of the chimney. My strategy is a fast, hot burn for a few hours each evening, (virtually smokeless exhaust), which heats the thermal mass in the home and 400+ gallons of water by about 30 degrees, enough for all of our DHW and the radiant floor system. Our stove pipe stays clean, and while I clean and inspect the system annually, it's almost pointless.

I use far less wood than my brother, even though he has a heat pump that runs frequently on colder days. Fortunately, we both have an abundant supply of wood on our properties and have been harvesting this fuel supply our entire lives. We rarely cut live trees as nature provides us with plenty of pre-seasoned standing deadwood/deadfall each year. Quality cordwood is available for less than the folks in the article pay; plenty of competition for folks' business here.

Ive followed some earlier posts in this blog series. I knew this guy was in for trouble when he was talking about cutting wood for the winter in later summer. He should be cutting wood for next winter... or even better the winter after. If only that one simple concept would get across to 90% of people burning wood, 90% of the bad reputation of wood would go away.

This year I'm burning a mix of oak and apple cut and split in fall 09 and spring 10. Wow does that burn nice :) Even burned on occasion in our old open fireplace for "ambiance" you typically would not be able to tell we were burning from outside. Thats how clean really dry wood burns.

We're blessed with a lot of hardwood; oaks, hickory and locust (we call it yellow coal). Even the standing deadwood that's been dead for a season or more needs to dry for several months after splitting for best burn; green hardwood needs a full year (2 seasons is better). We've had many old dogwoods die over the last decade; amazingly hard/dense, burns well. It's considered bad luck in these parts to cut a dogwood until it's completely dead.

The land my family owns had what we think was either a downburst or even a weak tornado go through it 2 years ago. There is more wood down then a family could burn in a life time. Most of it being oak. I really need to get up there this winter and clear some of it out. Lot of widow makers. Make sure my life insurance policy is valid.

From the pov of a human conserving wood, cutting only deadwood is an optimized strategy.

But depending on the size of the woodlot, and the owners goals in respect to providing great wildlife habitat, it is well to consider cutting some live trees and leaving the older dead ones for the enormous benefits they provide as sources of food and shelter for many various species from click beetles to song birds to wild ducks and raccoons.I have even seen a bald eagle nest high up in a dead tree.

We used to cut only dead trees to the maximum extent possible to provide our own firewood.

Now I go into the woods a year or so ahead of time and select the trees to be harvested the following year, and girdle them- a process with which some of us undoubtedly familiar.For those of us who aren't, it consists of stripping the bark off the tree at a convenient height all the way around for a foot or more measured vertically.This usually kills the tree within a year or so.

When you are ready to harvest it, the wood will already be well on the way to properly dried, and you will find that it is of considerably better quality as a source of fuel.Deadwood is almost always partly decayed as the result of invasion by fungus in at least some portions of the tree, and such wood possesses little heating value.Furthermore it is messier, as the bark crumbles worse, and it is more likely to shelter various insects that you would just as soon not bring into your house.

This strategy also allows the landowner to create openings which are useful for various purposes from eventually building a house or barn to planting very useful trees such as hickory or walnut or persimmon which might be in short supply on the property.It also frees up sunlight, water, and space for better shaped trees when you take out one that is forked or excessively crooked or stunted for any reason, such as overcrowding or excessive shade.

This strategy will gradually increase the quantity and diversity of wildlife on the property, and also significantly increase the yield and unit price of the timber should it ever be necessary to harvest it.

It takes only a few minutes to girdle a tree, which is time well spent in regard to the better quality of firewood not to mention the other benefits.

I have a friend who has created a simply beautiful winding footpath path through his woods by following this strategy.He has left big stumps along the way chainsawed into seats,planted perennial flowers in open spots, hung a couple of bird feeders along the path, and put in a picnic table and garbage can .Walking this mile long path path is a delightful experience magically wrapped up and hidden in a ten acre wooded lot as it doubles back across itself a couple of times, but you hardly notice the intersections the first few times through.

The path itself is mostly only about four feet wide as he has been able to veer off it and cut through more open spots with his small farm tractor, which he uses to haul out the wood.We have made wider paths on our property which allow us to stay on them with the small tractor or fourwheeler, but too narrow for an ordinary vehicle such as a Jeep;our place, except for the open land, is mostly rough and hilly and leaving the path is not a good idea..

Great point about leaving deadwood for God's little creatures, Mac. Most of our forest is too steep to access for firewood, though the trend here lately is for folks to hire a crew to clean the forest floor of deadfall and undergrowth for aesthetic reasons. I suppose that's why the peckerwoods, deer, coons, etc. prefer my place. If it ain't within a chain's length of a road, I leave it be.

One can also use the wood as hugelkultur http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/ or if you are a believer - make charcoal and bury the Charcoal to make terra perta

and proper burn techniques

My observation is that 95% of humans are incapable of using proper burn techniques, i.e. hot fire with plenty of oxygen. Mostly they just chuck wood into the stove, and damp down the air inlet so it burns slowly. I really doubt stove design can make up for this problem.

I rearranged my secondary air inlet; piped it higher in the firebox to just below the upper baffle/heat exchanger, and added a few more holes to increase airflow to the upper part of the firebox. Once the stove gets hot, I close the lower air inlets almost completely (actually, a bi-metal thermostat does this automatically). It is now more of a wood gasifier with the secondary burn creating most of the heat. Huge difference.

BTW: This isn't something I recommend most folks do. Many newer EPA stoves are already configured this way. I studied this company's changes in their newer models and modified this stove accordingly; made adjustments over several seasons. I also help my insurance guy maintain his system, so he makes sure I'm covered ;-)

I did a similar thing to my fireplace insert. The the primary air inlet is at the bottom front, and secondary air comes in from vent tubes across the top, and a "cold air wash" down the glass door.
I used some of the ash "clinkers" (burning fir seems to produce this caked ash) to all but block up that primary air inlet.
I need to hold the door a jar for a bit longer when starting (I use the top-down method for starting) , but once it is going it gets to a smoke free burning state much faster - and stays there.

When the fire is just right, it also produces wonderful blue flames from the wood that have many visitors thinking it is a gas fire!

For any thing that has a glass door, you know you are burning it right if you clean the door before you start and it stays clean. This modification kept the glass cleaner than ever.

Gasify is the way to go. I am just finishing my downdraft gasifier- stirling engine- shop heater and will report the results asap.

PS. On splitting wood. Heavy ax is good, heavy son-in-law is better, Division of labor- He does the heavy log work, which allows me to get my head warm enough to do the heavy thinking on what to do about the Iranians, the Euro, the Chinese, global warming and excesses of verbiage-about-nothing on TOD.

PPS- Thanks, Ghung, Paul Nash and all you people who add so much solid info on important stuff- the kind you can lift, throw, burn and/or get yourself killed by.

Hi Wimbi,

I am looking forward to seeing photos/progress reports of your gasifier/Stirling set up.

I have noticed now that gasifying wood boilers are becoming very widespread - I hope they can displace the old style sooner rather than later.

I came across another outfit making downdraft gasifiers for engine fuelling- with the emphasis on building cheaply, rather than industrial looking stainless steel. Would be good for irregular use, but if I was burning every day, I'd probably go stainless;


I also notice that GEK are working away on a DoE funded project to do a gasifier to run a 100kW engine.


I think is is much better use of DoE money than Solyndra, etc

Things are moving forward...

About gasifying and wood there was many cars in Sweden and Finland that went on gasifyed wood durin WWII. It's legal to conwert your car to run on wood in Sweden as far as I now. It is's not that common but here is a short documentary about such a car in use. It has english subtitles.



yes, you Scandinavians are pretty good at the wood gas thing.
That fellow was featured on a BBC show called "Planet Mechanics", helping to do a wood gas conversion.

the nicest looking wood gas car I have yet seen (a picture of) is this, though it has not been optimised for aerodynamics!

{ http://www.ekomobiili.fi/Tekstit/woodgas_as_fuel.htm }

here's a fun WW2 video on cars driving on woodgas in Sweden;


Gasoline: The new big U.S. export

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The United States is awash in gasoline. So much so, in fact, that the country is exporting a record amount of it.

The country exported 430,000 more barrels of gasoline a day than it imported in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That is about twice the amount at the start of the year, and experts and industry insiders say the trend is here to stay.

...yet prices remain "high". It seems that other economies are able to squeeze more utility from less petrol than the mighty US; another sign of our bloated, consumptive inefficiency. It's interesting when the markets we swear by begin to slap us down. So much for the "$2.00 per gallon gas" being promised by some GOP candidates.

So "we" exported more gasoline than "we" imported? What's wrong with that statement? John

Don't we import gasoline from Europe or did that end years ago?

So let me get this straight; The average U.S. refiner is paying more that WTI (something closer to world average or Brent), and they are currently running a surplus of refined products (like gasoline), and therefor, as long as the world average oil price is somewhere in the range of $110, then we will be paying around $3.30 for gasoline, otherwise it's going on a boat. The system seems to be staring to find a new equilibrium. As U.S. consumers, you either buy it, or you don't (and somebody else will).

eastie - Not $3.30. Closer to $2.60 in Houston right now...retail price less $0.46/gal tax. And that equates to $109/bbl. Makes you wonder how many refineries are unloading gasoline at close to breakeven prices...or a little under. At some point cash flow becomes more important than profit. I wonder too who they are selling to. I also wonder, after shipping costs, how much margin they're making in those foreign sales?

I wonder too who they are selling to.

From the article:

But now the country's massive refining infrastructure is producing more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel than the United States needs, freeing it up to be exported to places like Brazil, Mexico and Chile where demand is still strong.

We're paying over $3.30 still ($3.34 is the lowest I've seen here recently).

We did it boys! Wahoo!

Oil is sitting over $102 this morning.

Don't cry, but this is a very touching story:

"I travel a lot with my kids and my kids' friends. I can put all my friends and family in here and haul them around but with reasonable fuel efficiency. I needed something big, something solid, something reliable," said Andrea Maggioni, a physician from Miami who recently bought a 2011 Honda Pilot. "I needed a car where I could envision myself and a bunch of kids driving around."

You go girl!

"Our lifestyle is about the soccer family and the football family and camping and doing lots of activities, things that involve carrying lots of stuff around," said Joseph Phillippi, of Auto Trends Consulting. "You can't do that well in a [compact] Cruze or a Focus.

With all that time off from having no job, you'll be able camp all the time...permanently....Yippee!

Ah diddums. 6 kids to transport so you need full sized SUV. Get an oil burner.


(bluemotion model) gets 64mpg (Imperial)

I had a similar car, but it was bigger (and thirstier) than I needed, so I sold it.

sorry, they refuse to sell that here in the states, otherwise i would of gotten one instead of my current car or looking to get one now.

Of course they don't sell it in the US, it's far too efficient for Americans (and they don't sell it in Canada because they assume Canadians are as delusional as Americans).

The diesel engine S Blue Motion Tech model has an urban miles per gallon cycle of 51.4; extra urban: 68.9 and combined: 61.4. This makes the S Blue Motion Tech model one of the most eco 7 seat car available.

Caveat - these are miles per Imperial gallon. In miles per US gallon they would be 42.8 mpg city, 57.4 highway, 51.1 combined. That's still pretty good for a 7 passenger vehicle.

that's still better then what i have now and what i am aiming to get too! even though the blue motion car still has more space then i will ever use.

Interesting. Just a few days ago, I read this article that described how small cars were increasing in popularity:


Compact and subcompact cars are booming in popularity and could become the best-selling vehicle category by year's end, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

I wonder if the WSJ article is simply illustrating their biases?

Why do you hate 'Murika and our Freedom Fries?

BB, That's just mis-reporting there at cars.com. If you look back at the story from the Detroit Free Press, which this blogger ineptly repackages, it merely says compacts will soon outsell mid-sized cars.

Light duty trucks/SUVs remain significantly more than half of all light duty vehicles sold, and three of the top five models are pickups/SUVs.

Data here: http://wardsauto.com/keydata/USSalesSummary/

The real story is that very little is changing in the US auto fleet.

That's what I'm seeing locally. The 4-door pickups are appearing everywhere, and car 2 is a compact. Full size SUV's are dropping off. The 4-door pickup can pull the whatever, haul stuff in back and 5 or 6 people, and the new mid-size and crossover SUVs can't.

The "whatever" tends to be either a largish boat or a camper, or 4-wheelers, snow machines, etc.

Difficult to say. On the one hand, there's alot of fiat money floating around, and those that get the money can spend it how they want, including gas. It's all about who gets thrown under (or, in this case, onto) the bus, isn't it?

On the other hand, most of the people buying new trucks and SUVs are not upper class. They are probably middle class people going into debt and still thinking they can afford a certain lifestyle. Good luck.

At the very least, this should hopefully convince people here that Americans, much less people around the world, are not going to start riding bicycles so that everybody can benefit.

It's a war of all against all, get yourself the goodies while they're still there.

When I was a kid, I used to go surfing with my friends. We would regularly go the five of us, with surfboards, beach bags and assorted stuff, a distance of about 50-60km, in a Renault 4. http://irmaododecio.blogspot.com/2011/04/renault-4-ever.html.

We didn't complain. Of course, I can understand a mother would. But our lifestyle was about surfing and doing lots of activities, that involved the outdoors and carrying plenty of stuff around. I don't remember us being noticeably more unhappy than these mothers presumably are.

Canada just pulled out of the Kyoto accord and 'won't sign a 2nd Kyoto protocol'.

Score one for the Dinosaurs running my country!


There is no incentive for anyone to be part of the Kyoto accord if it does not include BOTH the U.S. and China. I honestly believe that every country on earth except China and the U.S. could reduce CO2 emissions to ZERO and we still could not achive the goals set by the Kyoto accord.

If you look at it purely from an economic perspective, you are right, but today we are in a situation where strong, imaginative, leadership is really necessary.


China's lack of commitment can not be used as an excuse like it is now though.

By the looks of it Canada will benefit the most from AGW. All that new land under farming. Who would refuse such a deal.

That land doesn't have good soils built up under it. It is also very seasonal, i.e. winter/summer differences are high. Areas with permafrost that melts are going to be a real mess. In general the lattitudes which people think would benefit from warming will experience sevre negative effects.

Strange web search string

I work in science education and I have a little web page about peak oil. It gets a few hits every day. I was just looking at its web stats and found the following web searches:

Oct 24 - Centerville VA - "why is the government are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction"
Nov 15 - Cleveland OH - "explain why you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction"
Nov 16 - Orlando FL - "Explain why you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction."
Nov 17 - Syracuse UT - "why is the governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction"
Nov 18 - Woodbridge VA - "why do you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline"
Nov 20 - Raleigh NC - "explain why you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction."
Nov 20 - Atlanta GA - "Explain why you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction."
Nov 25 - Conyers GA - "why you think governments are allowing oil fields to decline and suggest alternatives to the government’s action or inaction."

This looks to me like an essay assignment from a middle school or high school class. If the hits came from one classroom I wouldn't be surprised, but they are definitely coming from all over. I bet TOD gets a lot of these hits. If anyone would like to verify this I'd appreciate it.

This phenomenon raises all kinds of questions for me, and a few red flags. For starters, it seems to be an attempt to frame the discourse by putting the government in charge of oil depletion.

Secondly, how exactly would the government not allow oil fields to decline? The question seems to imply that the presence of oil is due to political will rather than any physical or geological process. While conservation seems like a good place to start, we know that this society doesn't want that item on the table.

But my main question is - what's up? Why almost exactly the same wording, except for errors in grammar and spelling, all over the US? Who is feeding this crazy question to kids?

I can think of three possibilities. Is this a high school debate topic? Or is there a widely used classroom curriculum about energy that comes with "current events" questions? Or is something else going on?

Rather than high-school - maybe look higher up the tree - try Tea-Party [the location demographic matches]

Well, I just googled "tea party"+"allowing oil fields to decline" and got nothin'. Same with "allowing oil fields to decline"+tea. Any suggestions of individuals?

Also, I would wonder who in the tea party would expect essay answers to their questions.

I don't know about the other states, but in so far as Ga. is concerned, GOP Congressman Rob Woodall has been pushing this theory that government over-regulation is responsible for the decline.

He did a floor speech on this on Friday 12-2-2011 but so far it is not showing up on You Tube

Here is an earlier pitch by the Congressman

BTW, what is your web site link?

BTW, here is another "get government out of the way" speech last month by Woodall
Oil decline is just one example he sometimes uses

Lets get 'government out of the way' after we have a good working Court system along with the ability to go after the PEOPLE in the corporations.

Imagine the difference if instead of living in the ritzy part of IL, the guy in charge of Bohpol was able to be sued? How about if the people who benefited from his income stream - like his childern, were also able to be attached by a writ from the Court.


The courts ARE the government.

A quick refresher course on the 3 branches of US government: 1) Executive, 2) Legislative, 3) Judiciary (a.k.a. the courts)

Except that now, it seems that the Supreme Court has become a lobbying organization for the BBB or maybe it's the Heritage Foundation...

And in any case, I don't agree with Eric that somehow 'we deserve this' .. there's surely some greed and sloth at all points around this vicious circle.. but in many ways, we are being pushed off the cliff.. kept misinformed, voting is being manipulated, contorted by a business model that molds soft and compliant consumers.. it has been a conscious and decided plan to fulfill the goal of 'Getting Rich', not of creating a rich society.

Not that I'm expecting many here to disagree.. but I do dislike the 'it's just our own damn fault' stuff.. the responsibility is not only shared, but it's not on an even balance, at that.

Most people watch TV, which has a notable programming bias to supporting what folks around here call BAU.

If you are getting force fed a particular set of ideas upwards of 20 hours a week a fair chunk of that will stick.

Funny thing is, most of the really successful people I know don't watch much TV...

Funny thing is, most of the really successful people I know don't watch much TV...

No, instead they spend their recreational hours finding out more about their world, being curious, and doing things like reading and contributing to worthwhile blogs like TOD ;-)

Well, it spins off in a few directions from there, to be sure.

I know MANY of my friends now do not watch TV any more, including many professional crewpeople in the TV/MOVIE industry. Most people can see that it's crap and it's just deviously manipulative.. but still, 'success' has to be looked at carefully, too. Part of the point is that some 'Intelligent' people are successful because they are all too happy to play the game that in one way or another is maintaining success as it directly undercuts others.. being part of a Market system that thrives on Blind Addictions (Like TV, Sugar, Ciggies, Alcohol ..yada yada..)

Like the bumper sticker said, "It's not necessarily a sign of success to be well-adjusted within a sick society."

Ask the Occupiers.. it's legitimate enough to say that some of the success is very much a part of the sickness.

I don't agree with Eric that somehow 'we deserve this'

This is typical predator talk: "She had it coming" or "He was asking for it" or "They deserve what they got".

The victim is the one who is at fault for the actions of the perpetrator.

It makes perfect sense ... if you are part of the predator class.

You can find my page at Andy's Peak Oil Information. I only update it every 6 months or so. I'll take suggestions for useful links.

I expect efforts to frame discourse in the media, but based on the search strings this seems to be in a different arena.

You might consider including the Energy Export databrowser. This web-based tool allows people to poke around and generate charts from the BP Statistical Review. Data are presented the data with an emphasis on net exports.

It's an easy tool to use for fact checking headlines.

I used to b e a teacher and can make a good guess.

Somebody somewhere has posted a free sample lesson, and a few students or teachers are clicking on it, and posting the same question as part of "canned" course work.

Even the sample comment or question has likely been copied verbatim.This sort of thing is so common it hardly even draws a comment anymore..

The teacher who worked in the classroom next to mine the last time I taught gave an A to any student who consistently showed on time, stayed busy, and made some effort to follow directions-no matter how poorly the work was executed.

He was a very good teacher and following the valid time honored strategy of "taking them (from) where you find them as far as you can."

It is a sad commentary on our schools and society that these basic good work habits were barely detectable among his fifteen year and older students at the beginning of the year.

If you have the money, you can buy an entire canned curriculum in any subject area, complete with tests and homework assignments.

This one smells of a not very bright future educators own homework-a sample teaching plan- finding its way onto the net.

There are also sites specializing in providing canned homework too.

When I first posted my question, I really was nonplussed about this strange framing of PO I had been seeing. I have to admit that my first thought was that this question was deliberately placed. I didn't consider that it could naturally arise from a conservative worldview with little manipulative intent, or it could even be the result of a poorly informed person posting a half-baked lesson plan. As usual, there are more possibilities than I had imagined. Thanks to oldfarmermac, ghung, and jaybyrd for your ideas.

I also think it's interesting (but normal) that we all bring our own perspectives to this question. Everyone has a different take. I'm glad we have TOD so we can argue with each other about what makes sense - it offers the possibility that those of us who are stuck with an idea can get out of our own heads long enough to consider other ideas.

Some people claim that we don't so much arrive rationally at our ways of thinking, rather we are captured by ideas and we then live them out in our heads and to some extent in our lives. I think this can explain many of the ideological contests we see.

Your questions may be coming from a home schooling product- a christian/right, centralized curriculum not known for encouraging critical thinking skills.
just a guess.

this can explain many of the ideological contests we see

Sed Guy,

I'm currently reading an eBook that tries to make that point:
Everybody comes to the party with a limited way of thinking

"Everybody" includes "us" as well as "them". So a little humility as to the correctness of our way of thinking and the incorrectness of theirs is in order.

(the book is "Critical Thinking: Tools for ..." by Richard W. Paul)

Just to advise, google no longer used +tea to enforce keywords. Now you have to put the keyword in quotes.

Someone asked this question at Yahoo Answers six months ago. Perhaps some online curriculum picked it up recently. The implications are typical; no suggestions of hard limits. Wouldn't want to frighten the kiddies now :-/

Perhaps when they are done with that, the feds can get busy revising the law of gravity so we won't need a replacement for the shuttle.

It appears to come from the Institute for Energy Research of Houston:

And Wikipedia says...
"According to the liberal watchdog group, Media Matters,[2] since 1996, $110,000 of IER's funding has come from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a trust set up by private energy company Koch Industries. IER also received over $300,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, [3], but has not given to IER since 2007.[4]
The Institute's CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay."

Thanks Jay. But how do you know?

Also, how does this question get into classrooms? Or, perhaps it is in a homeschool curriculum as Ghung might be thinking. I don't see any school districts listed as ISPs, only commercial ISPs. If it's in a homeschool curriculum, I'll stop pushing this question.

SE guy: It could also be coming from curricula used by private (neo)conservative/religious schools like this. My ex-wife had my kids in this school in the late '80s. I attended a meeting where (IIRC) "alternative parallel teaching resources" were being considered in order to avoid the "overwhelming liberal bias" of public school systems. "We teach your kids to ask the 'right' questions." I know there is an industry devoted to providing alternatives to mainstream educational goals while balancing the requirements for these schools to obtain accreditation. They provide text books and study guides more in tune with the world views of the parents sending their kids to these schools. Perhaps one of these study guides (or one of the periodicals that accompany them) is the source of this question.

Just some thoughts. Interesting mystery you've brought up.

My son goes to public school. They tell me he doesn't listen and makes "bad choices". I told them he acts just like his dad.

I don't know about public schooling anymore. I read an article last week in JSOnline about how they are thinking about getting rid of cursive hand writing. Why? You lose that and what's next? Math? Maybe they can extend nap time and shorten the school day. They cut wood shop and I pull my kids out and they can sit home and run boards through the planer.

The public schools may be rather dysfunctional in certain ways, but at least they're not deliberately obfuscating PO. Or so I thought. Actually, that's what I was hoping to find out.

Some of the public schools are remarkably bad, it depends upon the school district. It's been that way for a loooong time. Back when I was in fifth grade in 1961, the TV came into the classroom so we could all watch the first U.S. space launch with Alan Shepard. Okay, fair enough, but then it remained in the classroom for the remainder of the year (school closed in June back then). We had our choice of watching, "The Groucho Marx Show" or "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show".

I won't comment on the quality of public school but with respect to cursive writing, it is becoming an archaic form of writing. With computers being used more and more for writing I would imagine the use of cursive writing is declining. I hardly ever encounter cursive writing in the work place except from older people (~40s and up). By the time today's children reach the work place I would guess cursive writing would be mostly forgotten. That's my opinion, so I would ask the question, why keep it if we are writing with computers?

" ...why keep it if we are writing with computers?"

Some here would say: "Because most folks won't have working computers in 20 years". Teach these skills (like non-industrial agriculture) because our childrens' children will need them. I've even taught some kids how to use a slide rule, something I had to learn just prior to the calculator age. It may seem like a waste of time now ....

Slid rules, brilliant I have had mine now for over half a century and what's more, I have never had to change the battery once.

Or anything that depends little on layers of (national/global) infrastructure.

When I was living in the US, many people wondered about my "wonderful" cursive writing while I'm in fact a rather poor hand writer (just ask my former teachers). It is just that in France, and many other European countries, cursive writing is teach in kinder-garden and is the main form of writing. My 6 years old daughter is writing in cursive... well mostly. Right now type more than I hand write, peak oil might well mean peak computer and going back to hand-writing. Never know... Furthermore it certainly improves eye to hand coordination which is very useful for many other purposes.

I find that I cannot comprehend this argument about cursive handwriting. I was always taught from the time I started school as we say in England joined up writing we had exercise books with four lines drawn across the page so you knew where too start and end when drawing the different letters. We were always marked on neatness. I always thought this was normal.

Here it is exactly the opposite. There is a discussion about dropping the print writing, since there is indication that moving from print to cursive delay the learning.

Cursive, print, whatever. It's all a distraction from teaching kids stuff that will benefit them in real life. The whole US education system teaches a 100yo curriculum because anything the slightest bit more relevant raises public controversy.

If the DOE ran the military, our current soldiers would be spending 12 years getting trained on flintlock rifles & fighting on horseback. And whenever the public complained that their soldiers weren't battle-ready, the military would say they aren't being given enough money and time to get the training done.

Science Ed guy:
Sobering, isn't it? This is modern America, people. It's a fascist police state run for the benefit of powerful people and corporations.

None of us matter. The truth doesn't matter. Science doesn't matter. Decency doesn't matter.

Now are you understanding why I'm a doomer?

Oilman, take some responsibility. These blasts of 'guess what?' are just lazy rants.

You are not describing 'all of America' ... do you just watch TV all day? Please..

I come to this site to get away from cheap drama like this.

I actually don't watch any TV at all.

Alright, fine, I'll keep my thoughts to myself, believe what you want to believe. My point is that none of this stuff surprises me. As far as responsibility, I only take responsibility for myself, family, and close friends. I have zero faith or confidence left in America and believe its collapse may very well happen in my lifetime.

You think you only have responsibility for those few who you know, but that's just as blind and narrow as those Climate denialists who don't think that the environment that is crumbling around us has any bearing on them, or that their personal actions are immune from reproach and have no repercussions.

Your words matter, and they affect others. (In this case, they visibly affect the tone of TOD, one of the only, fairly mature conversations on energy and society on the web) Sorry if this makes me a nag.. but I can't see a problem asking someone to measure their words and take some adult responsibility for their people. These are YOUR people, too Oilman. Maybe you can't 'save' them, and neither can I, but are you really satisfied going down like an angry, whimpering teen in the process?

Of course you are totally free to say your peace here.. thing is, so am I, and if I think you're tossing Poo, I'm going to say so, and say that I think you can do better. I think this conversation deserves more thoughtful and conscious words offered to it, as thanks for a site where we actually DO get to speak to a range of people and get real information. There are also a lot of people around the US who are fighting hard to make things right, make them better, people who create an Oil Drum, people who are trying to work the problems with some kind of courage, and they do it for you, even though they don't know you. What's in your tank?

(There Webbie.. there's some scold for you)

Unusual winter weather may be connected to rapid Arctic climate change, report warns

... the report notes that warmer air leads to higher atmospheric pressure surfaces over the Arctic Ocean, and this can weaken the high-altitude winds that circle the North Pole from west to east, known as the “polar vortex.”

A weaker polar vortex can provide greater opportunities for Arctic air to flow southward, into areas like the U.S. and parts of Europe, while the Arctic experiences warmer-than-average conditions. The polar vortex also influences the phase of the Arctic Oscillation, which has a major influence on winter weather in the Washington [DC] area...

Or as I put it in a recent story for Climate Central: “More and more, what happens in the Arctic isn’t staying in the Arctic.”

From SciAm

Three-Quarters of Climate Change Is Man-Made

An independent study quantifies the human and natural contributions, with solar radiation contributing only minimally

Natural climate variability is extremely unlikely to have contributed more than about one-quarter of the temperature rise observed in the past 60 years, reports a pair of Swiss climate modelers in a paper published online December 4. Most of the observed warming—at least 74 percent—is almost certainly due to human activity, they write in Nature Geoscience.

Re: "Oil Rises for Second Day on Iran Tension, European Efforts to Ease Crisis" and "U.S. official says Iran becoming a pariah state" up top:

What is going on and why now? I can't help a feeling of deja vu that we are being set up as we were in Iraq.

Obama has demonstrated politics trumps principle time and time again. He is a master at it. So pay attention to what he does and not what he says.

It is becoming more and more clear that Obama wants an Iran crisis or even war just before next year's election. He is taking a page out of George W. Bush's 2004 game plan. Also, he probably has let the results of intervention in Libya go to his head.

Obligingly, the oil market is going along helped by threats of $250 oil from Iran if oil exports are cut off. Iran is the second largest oil exporter in the world so these threats have to be taken seriously.

Obama must know that $250 oil would indeed happen in the event of war. So why is he doing this? I can only conclude he wants higher oil prices. But how would that help him?

Firstly, as W proved, an international crises drowns out whatever the opposition is saying. And it is pretty certain that Republicans with a few exceptions would support him. People tend to rally round the leader when threatened. So a threat must be created and that is what Obama is doing.

Secondly, higher oil prices would hide the effects of Peak Oil as most would blame Iran rather the nonexistent energy policy of the administration.

Thirdly, subsidies for ethanol are scheduled to expire and the Midwest which helped elect him in 2008 may suffer declining corn and ethanol prices if oil becomes less expensive. That can not be allowed to happen since he may not carry certain Midwest states in that case.

So an oil scare is just what Doctor Obama ordered and nurse Market is giving it to the patient.

But the patient may not survive the treatment.


Well, there's little chance of the Obama administration doing anything to raise gas prices, thereby damaging the economy, in an election year - the political imperative is to keep energy prices in check. Anyone who thinks that there is going to be an embargo or sanctions on Iran's diverse portfolio of customers when there simply isn't any surplus oil around to cover is fooling themselves.

Given that, in addition to vastly reduced Libyan exports, there are a number of other oil supply pressure points currently in play, it is hardly surprising that markets are tight, prices are high, and winter is coming. The real question is whether the IEA will coordinate another release from stocks over the winter period, just as they did during the summer, to keep prices in check.

Personally, I think it might be an attempt to justify present-level Pentagon spending for the years following 2012. If we stay out of Iraq and close down the Afghan goose chase shortly thereafter as promised, that would put the present military spending level in extreme jeopardy. Of course, losing that spending would also be a severe blow to the entire capitalist economy. Ergo, these games must be played, from the perspective of the 1% and their hired political entrepreneurs (aka both major parties).

I think this is a combination of a few events. As the global economic crises continue to get worse, little by little, the government needs another focus to justify itself (and continue the flow of money to itself). Especially the military wants to make sure that the military staff and contractors and suppliers won't be left penniless. I guess that paying these companies and their wealthy CEOS and executives is one of the first priorities of the US government. Basically the government needs these people to make sure that a basic structure is maintained (although certainly I am not one of the people who supports this kind of polluting and industrial-based structure). The cars of these people must be able to run, these people must be able to buy food, these people must get "theirs" first. Their families must have shelter and they need access to medical care. So they need to ensure that a flow of money is maintained to these people. A crisis in Iran is just perfect for that. If oil prices spike, then maybe ordinary people will have to do with less, but not our friends in the Military Inductrial Complex!! If there is an oil embargo or some sort of export reduction, ordinary people will be asked to sacrifice, but not our friends in the MIC! Oh no, they are too important!

WIthout a crisis in Iran, as the economic crisis becomes worse and worse and a trickle of tax revenue becomes a few measly drops, as things run down and come to a standstill, then these IMPORTANT people in the MIC are threatened with HAVING TO makedo with LESS. That is NOT what they are interested in doing!

Obama probably understands how central these people are. Without their support, probably he understands that the grand-scale government he runs will face a much worse internal crisis and total paralysis. He will become a pariah, seen as an isolated idiot, another "Occupy Wall Street" protester, one who happens to "Occupy the White House". In fact, the media and business people will say he is crazy and get the "Occupier" out of the White House. Why are there shortages? Why are companies shutting down? Because Obabma wouldn't agree to a robust defense of American interests!

So it's hopeless, don't expect too much. The campaign against Iran provides political cover, terribly urgently needed now. Although I personally don't like it.

If the market collapes and the US dollar is 'not any good for trade' - the question of "why" will be asked.

If a big war happens or a mass human die off from a pandemic - that "why" will be considered far more attractive than "Oh hey - turns out the government has management issues" or "oh hey - the money system was operating on cooked books for years".

The myth of renewable energy

"As the US Energy Department explains it to kids: "Renewable energy comes from things that won't run out -- wind, water, sunlight, plants, and more. These are things we can reuse over and over again. … Non-renewable energy comes from things that will run out one day -- oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium." .........

Unfortunately, "renewable energy" is a meaningless term with no established standards. Like an emperor parading around without clothes, it gets a free pass, because nobody dares to confront an inconvenient truth: None of our current energy technologies are truly renewable, at least not in the way they are currently being deployed. We haven't discovered any form of energy that is completely clean and recyclable, and the notion that such an energy source can ever be found is a mirage."


daily-weekly-yearly PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Well, on the strictest definition, even the sun is not renewable. It will eventually run out, as far as anyone knows. But so what?

Renewable is a problematic term. For example I'll go the other way and say oil IS renewable, every day X number of new barrels are formed in the earth.

Seems the term renewble is more of a complex mix of percieved depletion rate, environmental pollution caused, energy efficeincy and storability. With different weights being given to each of these properties depending on what type of Political, Educational, Social and Economic group one belongs.

Anyone remeber a few years ago when large groups were pushing the "New Hydrogen economy" and how a new era of low pollution energy was just around the corner. Until someone finally remembered that the "Hydro" in Hydrocarbon stands for hydrogen and we've been on an albiet ineffiecinet Hydrogen economy for going on 200 years.

Bad - As you say: complex. And to make it more so one might include the economy of such a renewable. Product X might be physically renewable but if it costs considerably more to produce than the currently available commodity it would be substituted for then it may not matter. Similar to the term "technically recoverable oil": oil that could be produced is profitablity wasn't required. So who is going to produce that oil or that renewable?

Indeed I like to do the back of an envelope estimate of how 'renewable' oil is, and what an equitable allocation would be for each of us 7 billion humans.

It works out (using reasonable ballpark figures) at one small cup of crude oil per person per lifetime

Okay, 250,000 million barrels cumulative production, approx 500,000mb total supply, formed 300 million years ago, so...

...about four barrels per day is being created.

Yeah, that's bugger all, really.

The real issue is sustainability in the long-run (providing some definite interval). To be renewable you have to start with an inexhaustible supply of energy at a sufficient potential that when converted to a usable form (e.g. electricity) it can power the kind of work processes our civilization requires to remain at some level of consumption (even if much lower than now in the US). Sustainability requires that enough excess energy is produced to reinvest in the conversion and delivery systems (in simple terms a solar panel has to supply consumption AND its own maintenance and replacement energy costs). As things stand no one has yet produced a believable model of how that will transpire with the available alternative energy technologies.

Yes photosynthesis is sustainable as long as there are green algae and plants. But it can only produce so much human food per unit time putting an upper limit on the population. If humans convert too much primary production to their own consumption (food and biofuels) then the rest of the biosphere will die off and many of the eco-services we now depend on will be diminished. Photosynthesis conversion to usable calories (or oil-based fuel) is less than 1% efficient. Sustainable, but not a solution to any energy problems we face.


"Photosynthesis conversion to usable calories (or oil-based fuel) is less than 1% efficient. Sustainable, but not a solution to any energy problems we face."

exactly ... there is no solution other than going to daily Photosynthesis , which we will eventually.

Hundreds of flights cancelled due to Beijing smog

Local authorities cancelled hundreds of flights and shut highways as thick smog descended on the Chinese capital on Sunday and Monday, reducing visibility at one of the world's busiest airports. Pollution in Beijing in the last couple of days reached what the US Embassy monitoring station described as "Hazardous" levels.

"China has more than doubled its coal consumption in the last 10 years, so we are getting more soot in the air, as well as secondary pollutants like sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide which also help cause the haze."

Beijing's nearly five million vehicles also emit a lot of the particulates that make up the capital's air pollution, she added.

Also, the Gobi desert is aproaching. The chinese are trying to stop it by planting trees, the "green wall" project. My friend, who lived in China (including Bejing) for a while said he was "skeptic" about its success. I also read that most of those trees die anyway.

My guess is in ten years, there will be talk about moving out.

they should have planted the trees in something like this, and then most of them would have survived, or at least gotten a really good start

This device collects water from dew, protect the seedlings from cold/drying winds, moderates day/night temperature swings, shades the soil from hot sun etc etc. and is re-useable.

A great animation explaining it is here ("how it works");

They have achieved some impressive results in deserts, mine tailings/spoil and so on.

Bejing may have to move sooner than that. They're running out of water. Currently they are tapping reservoirs 200 miles away.

I don't know about that

Los Angeles has been tapping water from places over 500 miles away for decades, and LA isn't going anywhere.

Except downhill....

Beijing’s Water Crisis

Beijing, China’s capital city, and one of its fastest-growing municipalities, is running out of water. Although more than 200 rivers and streams can still be found on official maps of Beijing, the sad reality is that little or no water flows there anymore. Beijing’s springs, famous for their sweet-tasting water, have disappeared. Dozens of reservoirs built since the 1950s have dried up. Finding a clean source of water anywhere in the city has become impossible.

Indeed, the Chinese capital's water crisis is so critical that the city is facing economic collapse, a leading development policy group has said. Part of its population may need to be resettled in coming decades. Experts predict Beijing could run out of water in five to 10 years, according to the report by Canada-based Probe, called Beijing's Water Crisis: 1949-2008 Olympics.

related Beijing's water crisis and economic collapse

Per capita water availability: declined from 1,000 cubic metres in 1949 to less than 230 cubic metres in 2007
Total water use: 3.25 billion cubic metres (2007)
Source: groundwater 70-80%; surface water 20-30%
Estimated supply deficit: 400 million cubic metres

Beijing is an expanding city in an expanding desert. When the groundwater is gone - it's GONE. That means 70% of the population will need to find a water 'substitute'

We could replace "Beijing" in that article with "LA" and it still reads fairly accurately. People have been warning about water-caused economic collapse in LA for decades

Beijing will do what LA did - adapt by managing (sort of) its water use, and then suck more water out of wherever else they can find it, even if that means drying up nearby lakes, streams and farmers.

They will also go to more water recycling (which LA has been doing, sort of, for three decades)

If they are not careful, they will end up with hopelessly polluted aquifers, but controlling pollution has never been high on the Chinese gov agenda.

But maintaing the growth and pre-eminance of their capital is - they will do whatever is necessary - regardless of the environmental consequences - to keep their city going.

Which brings us back to LA...

LA currently uses twice as much water as Beijing with 6,000,000 less people. Replacing 70% of beijing's water source is about as practical as the US replacing 60% of imported oil we use.

Sometimes the over-population thingy just gets in the way.

Yep, LA sure has a lot of wasteful water use that could easily be eliminated.

in the case of Beijing, I suspect there is not all that much waste to trim, and as their middle class grows, per capita water use will likely start to increase.

This is just another case of a limited resource being shared amongst an over sized population - but that's china in a nutshell.
If they do it the way they do everything else, the poor people/peasants will fare worst.

It would seem they are betting heavily on the north flowing diversion from the Yangtze river - just like LA bet on the Colorado. When you are the the capital the economic engine, you can commandeer others resources. The channel, like the three gorges dam will be an expensive symbol of Chinese engineering, but they have a history of doing that sort of thing.

Sometimes the over-population thingy just gets in the way.

Wait, are you one of those "club of Rome" Malthusian Die-Off Doomers I've heard about?? From what I've gleaned from my frequent visits to Fox News and NewsMax, people who talk about "overpopulation" just want to institute One World Government, ban Christianity, institute Nazi style eugenics, indoctrinate all our children with Godless Socialism, and round up all Conservatives into FEMA camps, where we'll all be sterilized then exterminated!

Why do you hate my Freedom Fries, Commie Doomer? Like my hero, Dick Cheney said, our way of life is "non-negotiable"! You can pry my SUV from my cold dead hands, along with my remote, Cheez Doodles and assorted high calibur weaponry!

We're #1, WE'RE #1, U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A !!!!

The LA basin can support about about 100,000 people with its traditional water supply (the last 200 years as a reference point).
It currently has over 8 million.

Is that 100,000 at current per capita consumption?

The numbers I had were from the 1970s.
I haven't done the current math.

But the problem is obvious, even with some noise in the numbers.

The issue of taking water from far away meets the issue of the people using that water already. China is densly populated. What if there are no unused sources to take?

The Chinese government has always had "innovative" ways to redistribute resources from the people to other people, or government.

They will do the same here.

Siemens makes US acquisition in smart grid sector

German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it has agreed to buy eMeter, a US-based data management specialist, in a bid to enhance its position in the field of so-called smart grids.

All meters will be Stuxnet ready

Actually, I'm more scared of big brother (the matrix) setting my temperature for me(http://www.nest.com/).

I wrote this for DailyKos 2 weeks ago.

CONTROL: another paranoid rambling I've heard is "OMG, this means the guvmint can turn off your AC remotely." My answer is this: "Big Brother, if you need to turn off my AC, please do it." I am a healthy man in my 30's. The couple next door, a very nice couple, are in their 80's. If there is a heatwave and the power grid is overloaded, I would rather see my power company turn off my AC remotely, than see a rolling blackout that takes out my whole neighborhood. If that happens, one of my neighbors will die in the heat. Please. Just press the button and turn off my air conditioner. I'll be fine. One of the biggest problems we have in this country is a lot of people who think they are "rugged individualists" but are in fact incredibly pampered consumers, and who think their actions do not affect others. If you are connected to the power grid, everything you do affects everything else, so start acting like it.

The only problem with that model is 5 seconds after its in place all power company development activities get cancelled, since they now have a much cheaper and easier way to achieve 'power management' that having sufficient capacity on tap.

Any approach which cuts power has to be matched to a cost to the power company. Something like "here's a switch to turn off my AC, but it will cost you $5 an hour to press it".

Oh, and power company employees need to be first to have their power cut, with no payoff.

The only problem with that model is 5 seconds after its in place all power company development activities get cancelled, since they now have a much cheaper and easier way to achieve 'power management' that having sufficient capacity on tap.

The biggest expense with infrastructure is providing for peak load. This is the reason why the power lines are sized the way they are and the justification for the existence of peaker plants. A considerable portion of the average power bill is in paying for peak capacity and for assurance of supply, if they can deal with these two issues with the same technology then it'll deliver more reliable power cheaper to the end user. I doubt they'd turn off peoples A/C units, however they'd probably turn them down a few degrees if they could.

Its not really turning off, just delaying the use for a little while, to cope with a shortfall. Obviously the customer should be given some kind of financial incentive. I have a stupid radio controlled thingy connected to my AC (smart AC), and was paid $25 to let them install it. A break with summertime bills would probably net more users.

This is really just the libertarian lunatic fringe. The power company is not the government (a few places excepted), but its own private/public company. The more load management we get, the more wind/solar that can be configued in. So accepting some degree of demand management is simply being responsible, both to your fellow citizens, and the environment.

The power company is not the government (a few places excepted), but its own private/public company.

And private companies never, ever capture user data and then resell it. Carrier IQ is just for quality assurance - right?

And most of the time, what the utility does with your smart AC is just make sure it's not synchronized with your neighbors'.

Any approach which cuts power has to be matched to a cost to the power company. Something like "here's a switch to turn off my AC, but it will cost you $5 an hour to press it".

There has been an alternative version of this available to electricity customers in Australia for years.

It is called "residential controlled load", and is a separate meter for loads, like AC, heat pumps and hot water, that the customer agrees to have limits on the time of day they operate - the utility does this by remote control (I don't know exactly how it works)

The payoff is a much lower electricity rate, so the customer is winning, even if the utility does not have to exercise it's option of load shedding.

Residential Controlled Load 1: Supply will be made available where another primary metering point is present at the same metering point as the secondary load and the load is remotely controlled. Applicable to loads such as water heating, swimming pool operation, heat pumps etc. Loads must be permanently connected. Supply will be made available for 5 to 9 hours overnight on weekdays and extra hours on weekends except where the load is controlled by a time clock. Note: This tariff is not available for the top boost element of a two element water heater for new connections.

Residential Controlled Load 2: Supply will be made available where another primary metering point is present at the same metering point as the secondary load and the load is remotely controlled. Applicable to loads such as water heating, swimming pool operation, heat pumps etc. Loads must be permanently connected. Supply will be made available for 10 to 18 hours per day on weekdays and extra hours on weekends except where the load is controlled by a time clock.

The hours made available, are of, course the off peak hours. At my brothers farm, things like the pump for the well, the domestic water heater (bottom element), and one of the two heat pumps/AC units are on the controlled load rate.

The savings are significant:
28.8 c/kWh

Residential - Controlled Load 1
11.0 c/kWh

Residential - Controlled Load 2
16.55 c/kWh

That is a significant incentive for the customer to put these things onto the controlled load tariff!
It is better for the utility than just off peak rates, as the utility actually has the switch, and can actually turn off the loads if need bem rather than just hoping customers will do so.

If you are the sort of customer that doesn't like this concept, then you don't have to take it, and can just have the peak/off peak rates of 31 and 15.5c/kWh respectively.

Details here:

Study finds climate changes faster than species can adapt

The ranges of species will have to change dramatically as a result of climate change between now and 2100 because the climate will change more than 100 times faster than the rate at which species can adapt, according to a newly published study by Indiana University researchers.

"We find that, over the next 90 years, at best these species' ranges will change more than 100 times faster than they have during the past 320,000 years," said Michelle Lawing, lead author of the paper and a doctoral candidate in geological sciences and biology at IU Bloomington. "This rate of change is unlike anything these species have experienced, probably since their formation."

Old recipe making a come back

Humans ate sourdough bread in ancient times and it's remained a traditional part of the diets in some countries and regions. Now Baltic scientists have reinvented this centuries-old technique for the needs of the food industry during a three-year long EUREKA project.

The Lithuanian scientist first began thinking about bread when a foreign company arrived in her country to teach local bakers how to bake bread types such as the popular baguette. "It was excellent but the next day you could play baseball with it," she jokes. "My idea was to develop bread with what I now call the big 5: longer shelf life, better flavour, better texture, with more dietary fibre and fewer additives."

Seraph, she's right about the shelf life. Sourdough bread is often quite edible days later. The center stays soft even when the crust gets hard.

There is a whole movement of people quietly taking their wheat back. Dr. Steve Jones came to talk to us (farmers and gardeners in the PNW) about it. Here's my report on his presentation:
http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blogs/celts-garden-slow-bread (just search on Celt's Garden - Slow Bread if the link doesn't work.)

There is some real alchemy in bread making. Differences of 1-2% in protein content make the difference between dry cardboard and crunchy/chewy bread. Those recipes look good, Thanks.

Seconded, thanks for that link.

I have been toying with the idea of doing sourdough, I might just try that method.

Interesting also the comments there about local grain farming - something I am a big fan of.

I bought an enameled cast iron dutch oven just so I could make bread like this.

My sweetie calls this 'guy bread' cause even a guy can make good bread:)

That's really interesting, Leanan.

We've been pre-soaking flour and grains in much of our cooking for a few years now, and this method seems very amenable to mix with what we've do as a way to pre-ferment grains for nutritive reasons. I'd be eager to hear how it's been working for you. 2006 article. Have you done this for a while now?


(But the story gave me a chill.. I rememeber when the Sullivan Street bakery was actually on Sullivan St. .. rebranded, I guess)

This is an interesting thread.

I recently spent a week with my brother in the Australian bush (over a mile from his nearest neighbor and four wheel drive recommended to get to his house). He bakes all his own bread, and it certainly beats the average supermarket product.

But rather than returning to ancient methods like these, he makes it in a bread machine using a prepared dry mix -- just add yeast and water -- he buys in 10kg bags from the supermarket in town. Unless it's a prolonged cloudy period and his batteries are running low. Then he kneads it by hand and bakes it in his wood-fired oven. Although, if he's feeling lazy he'll run the generator for an hour or so to charge the batteries.

With some running of the generator, his electricity bills are far less than they would be if he had a grid connection. The biggest cost is periodic replacement of the lead-acid batteries.

EU thinks twice about Iran oil ban

Reuters) - The European Union is becoming skeptical about slapping sanctions on imports of Iranian oil, diplomats and traders say, as awareness grows that the embargo could damage its own economy without doing much to undercut to Iran's oil revenues.

"Maybe the aim of sanctions is to help Italy, Spain and Greece to collapse and make the EU a smaller club," one trader joked.

The remark reflects the growing unease that EU sanctions would hit hardest some of the continent's weakest economies, because Iranian oil provides the highest share of their needs, not to mention the rest of the bloc.

also Analysis: "Cold War" with Iran heats up across Mideast

Speculation Israel might attack Iran's nuclear program has been rife in the Israeli media and oil markets in recent weeks, with concerns that Tehran might retaliate with devastating attacks on Gulf oil shipments.

But that debate, experts say, misses large parts of the bigger picture. An increasingly isolated Iran alarms not just Israel and the West but its Gulf neighbors, especially longtime foe Saudi Arabia, and they are already fighting back - and the confrontation goes well beyond simply tightening sanctions.

from "ConocoPhillips: Great Dividend With Solid Prospects For Growth":

nearly every year oil companies somehow seem to find more reserves.

ISTM that they are doing more reevaluating of existing fields than find new ones. Does anyone have a real data clip about the differential between amount of oil found vs amount used in the past say 5 years?

One other matter today: with Iran making noises about $250 oil if the West boycotts, and Israel making fighting gestures towards them, we may see the plateau extended a bit... Every cloud has that silver lining, eh?


Today TheAutomaticEarth.com, Stoneleigh's site, is making its 1000th post. She has posted a review and revision of the general theme of the site, that we are at the end of a decades long credit expansion and that as a consequence we are in a serious financial crisis.

I highly recommend her site. About two or three weeks ago, she posted on the Drumbeat with a link to her site. I started reading it that day and it has become as regular a site for me as TOD. It changes content about every other day with a general theme essay for the day and follows that essay with articles from a wide variety of publications, generally about finance, particularly about the European crisis. The articles can be moderately technical in the discussions of finance. I think she has done a very good job of aggregating articles along the topic and they appear to me to be all over the possible political and economic spectrum. I would recommend that you read back through the last couple of weeks of posts. This weekend's post was particularly good. The post highlighted unrest in Europe, particularly in the UK, Greece, and Portugal. When I searched Google for "strikes in Europe", I got almost no recent news stories. I had to narrow my search to Portugal, then Greece. Eventually I found some coverage. Many of the posts are like that, stories and events that are ignored or buried by the MSM. I would say that it takes a lot of time to read all of the articles, but the most relevant are closer to the top. She does a good job on the site and I think the material is up to the same intellectual level as TOD and most of the frequenters of TOD will find resonance in her content. Somebody a couple of years past posted a comment on the drum beat that TOD has been kind of a "second education" for them. I think Stoneliegh's site is in a similar vein. I wouldn't come in and spam a page, but Stoneleigh has "made her bones" with the TOD community.


Congrats, Ilargi and Nicole, on your 1000th!

Good Find DataGuy

What you will find is that a lot of TOD regulars are also Automatic Earth regulars. You may already know but Stoneleigh (a.k.a. Nicole Foss) was previously editor of The Oil Drum Canada and is a frequent presenter at ASPO meetings.

We are at the end of a decades long credit expansion and that as a consequence we are in a serious financial crisis.

That's old news. Market gurus like Elliott Wave Theorist Robert Prechter have been talking about the inevitable Deflationary Depression for years.

The hard part is how to protect yourself financially. For starters, what is a safe way to hold cash? Certainly not by leaving it in a bank account or under your mattress. Which leaves what?

How about converting it into stuff you can use, or will need ATOC.

If you are into Costco, they offer up some long-lasting (guaranteed 5 years) foods. Of course, you have to figure how much you use a month, and make regular purchases to maintain a 5 year stock. Still, it is low cost, hi caloried and inexpensive.

Tools are always good... especially farming implements.

Think about what will be useful... you might leave a post.

Best hopes for a sustainable future.


Max, you cannot protect yourself financially.

Unless the following applies to you, you cannot, and will not, be allowed to protect yourself.

He played a leading role in writing and pushing through Congress the 1999 repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banks from Wall Street.

He also inserted a key provision into the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act that exempted over-the-counter derivatives like credit-default swaps from regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

...As of 2009, he is employed by UBS AG as a Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank division.

UBS.com states that a Vice Chairman of a UBS division is "...appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients."[32]

He joined UBS in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate...

Both he, and the president that signed on to his Bills Designed to Decriminalization Fraud, are still alive and at-large...

Aviation could switch to low-carbon fuel 'sooner than thought':

The world's 7,000 airlines could switch to low-carbon jet fuels much faster than other transport because aeroplanes have very few "filling stations", says Richard Branson.




My objection to using bio fuels in jets is that they will be used by the military in wars for oil security. In effect bio fuels will be subsidizing oil. To my mind this leads nowhere but an out of control spiral crash.


If we are going fight wars for oil security we should not drain the bio fuel sector to do it. If we do, we only become more oil dependant since bio fuels are relatively small. Let's just use up the last drop of oil fighting for oil and then stop.


the irony.

I wonder if is those Al Quaeda fellows know what french fries smell like?
(yeah, yeah....I know kerosene isn't an alkyl ester of a fatty acid)

Donald Trump

In his explosive new book, Time to Get Tough, Trump expands and explains: "Call me old school, but I believe in the old warrior’s credo that ‘to the victor go the spoils.’ In other words, we don’t fight a war, hand over the keys to people who hate us, and leave. We win a war, take the oil to repay the financial costs we’ve incurred, and in so doing treat Iraq and everyone else fairly."


And here is Ron Pauls take on 'The Donald' who was named as moderator in one of the GOP primary debates

... Paul rejected the debate invitation by deeming Trump beneath the presidency, while Trump released a statement saying Paul is "clown-like" and “willing to lie” and “either very jealous of Mr. Trump, stupid, or a combination of both.” The debate is scheduled for Dec. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The GOP would have been better having Howard Stern moderate the debate.

[for those outside the US who may be unfamiliar with Howard Stern, imagine the rudest, crudest person you know - then multiply by ten]

I was reading the wiki or something on the Trumpster. To me it sounds like he inherited a fortune from his daddy and ended up in bankruptcy. Why he is moderating anything is beyond me. This whole political process has turned in a reality TV show.

Bread & Circus

Howard Stern could be called rude and crude I guess in the context that many who follow societies rules call rude and crude. If you listen to his conversations with his guests he is articulate, often thoughtful, quick thinking and much more reasonable than "the Donald", so I do agree he would be better than trump by far as moderator, I also think he outclasses all of the candidates(except r.p.). He is crass, but it is nice to listen to someone who mostly seems to speak their mind, so sick of politicians who have to rehearse their phony moral image with a coach. ugggh We are in trouble.

S&P to Put Entire Euro Zone on Watch for Downgrade

The 17 nations of the euro zone will be placed on "credit watch negative" by Standard & Poor's Rating Services, according to people familiar with the matter.

The ratings firm is expected to make an announcement after the market closes in New York at 4 p.m. S&P is expected to cite the difficulties of the euro region in containing its debt crisis.

The decision to put the countries on negative credit watch—which signals a downgrade within 90 days has 50-50 odds—would hit six countries with the rating firm's highest, triple-A rating: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg

There is no way Germany will countenance a credit downgrade because of the PIIGS problem. If plan A can't work, they will use plan B and cut them lose.

At the same time, expect investigations into criminal liability for mislabelling CDOs to be reopened. Frankly the ratings agencies were liable and were allowed to get away with fraud; that's a powerful bat that's ready to 'persuade' the agencies with.

Global winds could explain record rains, tornadoes

Two talks at a scientific conference this week will propose a common root for an enormous deluge in western Tennessee in May 2010, and a historic outbreak of tornadoes centered on Alabama in April 2011.

Both events seem to be linked to a relatively rare coupling between the polar and the subtropical jet streams, says Jonathan Martin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences

... "There is reason to believe that in a warmer climate, this kind of overlapping of the jet streams that can lead to high-impact weather may be more frequent," Martin says

Marine predators in trouble: researchers

In half of the North Atlantic and North Pacific waters under national jurisdiction, fishing has led to a 90-per-cent decrease in top predators since the 1950s, and the impacts are now headed south of the Equator, according to a new study published online today in the journal Marine Ecological Progress Series. The study is available at http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v442/p169-185

"After running out of predator fish in the north Atlantic and Pacific, rather than implementing strict management and enforcement, the fishing industry pointed its bows south," says co-author Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at UBC. "The southern hemisphere predators are now on the same trajectory as the ones in the northern hemisphere. What happens next when we have nowhere left to turn?"

What happens next when we have nowhere left to turn?


The use of fossil fuels can be seen as a slow, large-scale global explosion over time, producing perhaps similar effects responsible for previous mass extinctions, to say nothing of our own population growth and its own sets of compound/knock-on effects.

Think about that preceding sentence for awhile.

I just posted something of the Permian-Triassic extinction too...

It is the only known mass extinction of insects.

Wow, kick-ass... But it may pale by comparison.

Let's see how well we do for our event, and how future species with the capacities to study it do in figuring out how it happened.
They may find our skeletons, but will they make the connections between us and the event?
Our suggested cranial capacities might lead them to conclude that we couldn't possibly have been responsible for our own extinction event. Hell no! Any scientist even remotely suggesting the possibility of such a hypothesis would be promptly fired!

So what happened?

Well, fortunately, all of us here at TOD will be long gone when/if it happens, so let all those externalities and discussions of electric cars roll!

Oceanic anoxic events

...occur when the Earth's oceans become completely depleted of oxygen (O2) below the surface levels... the geological record shows that they happened many times in the past. Anoxic events may have caused mass extinctions. These mass extinctions were so characteristic, they include some that geobiologists use as time markers in biostratigraphic dating. It is believed oceanic anoxic events are strongly linked to lapses in key oceanic current circulations, to climate warming and greenhouse gases.

There are people who suppress their issues, where they sort of look fine, despite some indications to the contrary to some who peer closely enough... and then they suddenly "blow up"... maybe like that Norway guy...

I wonder if Mother Earth is like that, or if she's already bitching and moaning and we're simply ignoring her. At our peril.

"There are people who suppress their issues, where they sort of look fine, despite some indications to the contrary to some who peer closely enough... and then they suddenly "blow up"...
I wonder if Mother Earth is like that..."

That's pretty much Peter Ward's conclusion--he calls it Medea Earth as opposed to Gaia. He has also written compellingly about anoxic events in "Under a Green Sky."

Ancient dry spells offer clues about the future of drought

As parts of Central America and the U.S. Southwest endure some of the worst droughts to hit those areas in decades, scientists have unearthed new evidence about ancient dry spells that suggest the future could bring even more serious water shortages.

Olivier Rech, co-founder of Energy Funds Advisors and former IEA analyst who co-wrote 2008/9 World Energy Outlook says on Bloomberg:

$300 per barrel by 2025, with great volatility in the markets and spare capacity gone within 3 to 4 years.



Navy’s Big Biofuel Bet: 450,000 Gallons at 8 Times the Price of Oil

The Navy just signed deals to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuels — arguably the biggest purchase of its kind in U.S. government history. The purchase is a significant step for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ plans to transform the service into an energy-efficient fleet. But at nearly $1,100 per barrel — eight times the price of traditional fuel — the new fuels won’t come cheap.

Two companies will split the Navy order. Dynamic Fuels, half-owned by agribusiness giant Tyson Foods, converts fats and waste greases into biofuels. Solazyme uses algae as a means of fermenting everything from plant matter to municipal waste into fuel. Both are considered leaders in the next-gen biofuel industry — Dynamic is one of the first companies in the field to have a commercial-scale refinery up-and-running. Solazyme has already delivered 150,000 gallons of its fuels to the Navy

Planning for the future! Population increasingly obese, and the numbers are well beyond carrying capacity in many folks' opinions. There should be a glut of fat and grease on the market when TSHtF. They'll have to compete with Tyler Durden though...

Things like this illustrate two things that are really wrong with modern government;

1. That they are willing to pay such an egregious price as this, to make the MIC look "green"
2. That they have "signed deals" for it. If they are prepared to pay this price for green diesel (not biodiesel) and bio jet-fuel, then post the price, and the specs, and buy it from whomever delivers it first, up to the limit.

There are lots of small innovators out there, and for $1100/bbl, they could do this to. I see no reason why this had to be restricted to two companies.

I should also point out that using waste food fat/grease is only a limited scalability solution - there is only so much of that available - and it's not that much in the scheme of things.

If you can process brown grease the numbers go up quite a bit, but as you say it is still limited.

My brother-in-law (founder, and now employee, of a biodiesel company) would have liked to bid this at that price.

My family has done a significant number of electrical and controls projects under federal(USBR, BIA, IHS, USFS, Park Service, etc.), state, county, and municipal contracts (WWTP, lift stations, pump stations, stormwater sampling, canal and pipeline, dam and crane retrofits, fish hatchery work, backup generators, UPS maintenance, etc.). The federal procurement process is a disaster. The DOD was broken first and W broke most of the rest. New laws/regulations as part of the Obama stimulus (theoretically designed to speed the process and get shovels in the ground quicker) have also contributed.

I'm sure that lots of people would have loved to supply at this price.

That is why I say don't sign deals, just put it out there that they will take the first 450,000 bbl's at this price, with payment only upon delivery and acceptance (of QC parameters)

Not that this is *not* biodiesel, but other fuel oils that match the specs for jet engines and the like.

I see no reason for them not to use biodiesel in suitable applications, but that is not what this tender was about.

Agreed, that the process for so many of these things is so onerous that it cuts out so many of the small players, that you almost think it was designed to do so.!

Bro-in-law is an experimental chemist by career (with a BS in physics, HIS partner-brother is a MechE) ... he would have loved the opportunity to fund his next development process (tuning the chemistry to hit the specs and then building the equipment to automate production) via a sole source contract.

Hard to believe that one couldn't buy biodeisel from Willy Nelson, put a new label on the jug and make a tidy profict.

Two stones laid in the military's 'emergency fuel' infrastructure.

National Security - no price too steep

I wonder how many barrels of traditional oil went into each one of those biofuel barrels (EROEI)?

I just read or heard something that says the military is paying $400 a gallon for fuel in Afghanistan. Well worth it to bring freedom and democracy to that area of the world /sarc.

The Age of Thirst in the American West, Coming to a Theater Near You: The Greatest Water Crisis in the History of Civilization

... Recently, Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, suggested that, by century’s end, the planet’s temperature could rise by a staggering 6º Celsius (almost 11º Fahrenheit). International climate-change negotiators had been trying to keep that rise to a “mere” 2º C. “Everybody, even the schoolchildren, knows this is a catastrophe for all of us,” was the way Birol summed the situation up. If only it were so, but here in the U.S., none of the above news was even considered front-page worthy.

... And here’s the bad news in a nutshell: if you live in the Southwest or just about anywhere in the American West, you or your children and grandchildren could soon enough be facing the Age of Thirst, which may also prove to be the greatest water crisis in the history of civilization. No kidding.

Reading TOD, the articles and Drumbeat headlines and comments below them, I sometimes think of humans (")happily(") communicating-- discussing, measuring, graphing, etc.-- the minutiae of their own quagmires... as though they aren't exactly quagmires-- at least not as approached via their minutiaes-- as if everything's as it is supposed to be-- which it is by virtue that it is-- and at the same time, as though they are quagmires-- at least that they're often referencing...

(Eyes spontaneously shift momentarily to the two little 'CLF12.NYM' graphs in the upper-right margins... 'Wed Thu Fri Mon Tue'... '104 102 100 98 96'...)

I recently wrote a comment over at Al Jazeera, to the effect of comparing humans crossing their glorified-prison nation-state borders to birds, as they try to fly south for the winter, being questioned about it, and having their luggage, laptops and anuses checked/patted-down/x-rayed/etc. by 'official birds'. Of course birds don't do that AFAIK. But naturally, it's yet something else for humans to (")happily(") communicate. Like here, now.

At this point,

...I would ask, 'What would a chimp do?'... Even pretend I am one...

(...as much as some humans might be deriding us chimps despite our ostensibly-superior track records for living in harmony with our own fundamental needs for survival)

...maybe with an allowance for some forms of 'technology' enabling humans to survive and be comfortable... as opposed to, say, manufactured needs for leaf-blowers, a new car every year, or nuclear power plants.

See the differences?

What works and does not work with Mother Nature? What do animals do and not do? (Permaculture seems to approach this, and is no 'ism'.).
Is it that hard for humans? Are they that disabled?

I think, humans, as a species, need to be able to put on the breaks and/or back up just before hitting some apparent systemic paradoxes that their minds manifest in, and/or thrust upon, the outer world, such as in the forms of technology and status/power/control and so forth.

Humans seem to be dancing on a knife's edge of the paradoxes of their capacities for running with their capacities for systems-- language, technology, games, information, social-organization, etc.-- with insufficient brakes, with insufficient ways to back up, with insufficient means to manage their mental/intellectual unbottled genie...

Victims of their own magic; failures to their own successes; prisoners of their freedoms.

In a hierarchical and/or centralized, fundamentally un/anti/-democratic/corporatocratic nation-state, such that they all appear to be to varying degrees, humans are, in effect, prisoners in their Plato's cave.

Paradoxical prisoners of their own minds's capacities to free some things for themselves only to have them ultimately imprison them, by in part ignoring the rules (via in part the rationalization of externalization) of Mother Nature's Game, The Only Game In Town.

That's why, for examples, they and the rest of us, have the peak oil/climate-change/species extinctions/etc. messes we're all in.

They need a way to see, avoid and/or back up from the slippery slopes of their making-- and fast, real fast.

...For one, before we chimps realize that humans are less evolved.

For Darwinian:


...was a therapsid mammal-like "reptile" of the family Dviniidae found in Sokolki on the Northern Dvina River near Kotlas in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. Its fossil remains date from the Late Permian...
The species was small omnivore containing an extremely large temporal opening typical of advanced therapsids, with a thin bone separating the eye and muscle attachment. It is very close in the evolutionary line to mammals...

The Permian

...is a geologic period and system which extends from 299.0 ± 0.8 to 251.0 ± 0.4 Mya (Million years ago)... The Permian... is characterized among land vertebrates by the diversification of the early amniotes into the ancestral groups of the mammals... The world at the time was very hot and dry, and was dominated by a single supercontinent known as Pangaea. The extensive rainforests of the Carboniferous had disappeared, leaving behind vast swathes of desert. The Permian period... ended with the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, in which nearly 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out.

...And now we have the Anthropocene... and perhaps, via peak fossil fuel-- much of it perhaps, and ironically, from the Permian period-- the inevitable dissolution of centralized nation states into one decentralized/translocal country and peoples. (Or, if not, what then?)

Dreaming of Pangaea


Thanks for the visuals T.O.P. A local geologist told me that part of Nova Scotia was once attached to the same highland range that is in Scotland today (New Scotland and Scotland were linked) and part was a piece of Africa that drifted away. Now seeing a graphic of the Pangaea, I can put the pieces together.

Your parallels between the end of the Permian and the possible results of the Anthropocene are quite sobering. Nothing new under the sun. Puts a spin on an old expression, 'same sh#t, different geological period".

You're welcome, thanks...
Where are you located, incidentally? Coincidentally, I have a Scottish background and live in (just moved to) Nova Scotia. There are a lot of loose rocks and boulders strewn about around here-- apparently from the last ice age.
I've been thinking that maybe I could have one in the living room facing south as a passive solar heat sink for the house I'm planning to have built.
Apparently, the Earth recycles its surface every 200 million years or so by plate tectonics, so after we depart for good, perhaps some of our nuclear waste will help along mutations and hasten a similar Cambrian explosion... Mother nature knows what she's doing and we're just one means to her ends.
As one of her ends, it might be a challenge for future earth-alien scientists to piece together all the mysteries of the post Anthropocene explosion and all the curious pockets of what were once landfills, and nuclear waste sites, etc..

Hi to Paul (HereinHalifax) if he catches this. I made it (NS South). Yay!

The infrastructure of suburbia can be described as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.
~ JH Kunstler, via TOD quote

JHK also just moved to a small "World-Made-By-Hand" kind of town-- Greenwich (village) apparently-- and has, with host, Duncan Crary, a most recent podcast of his whereabouts on Kunstlercast.

Despite the centralized nation states' best efforts (hardly worth mentioning), I see a mass exodus out of larger cities and into smaller towns, with some elements of quaintness and old world charm at a scale humans can live with.

Hey Tribe, welcome to the neighbourhood. I'm located just outside of Windsor, in a village called Three Mile Plains (so named because it lies three miles from Windsor) at the gateway to the Annapolis Valley. You mention NS South; are you on the south shore? If so, we're not very far from each other.


Hey neighbor, thanks for the welcome. I'll be in Liverpool for maybe a year or two and then on to Shelburne, more or less permanently, if all goes well. I might see if it would like to be turned into an official Transition Town and if I can volunteer at the Dory shop and in the process, learn something of wooden boatbuilding.

The South Shore has its own beauty and set of virtues. I lived for a time in New Germany, just north of Bridgewater. Mainly forestry in that area. As you've no doubt discovered, Lunenburg County is known as the Christmas tree capital of the world.

Boatbuilding. That's a trade that may come in handy again in a world of energy scarcity. It's also a dying art form so I, for one, appreciate your efforts as an apprentice. If you want to graduate to shipwright there a few of them still in the area, particularly around the town of Lunenburg. A few of the masters are alive, but their numbers are few.

Shelburne is a nice town. Keep up with the woodworking trade you'll do you well wherever you settle. You really have taken the good old Kunstler to heart. Welcome aboard.

"I walked today where Kunstler walked..."

Listening to this KunstlerCast and using Google I was able to follow JHK's trek through his new digs. At one point he says he doesn't want to say the name of a restaurant because he "doesn't want to be tracked down". Gosh, Jim, you should have said that from the getgo :-/ I used to make maps so I'm fairly adept at this stuff. Anyway, it looks like you've landed in a beautiful spot. Congrats on finding your new nest, and while I think I've found the actual spot, your secret (such as it is) is safe with me. Save a spot for me at your fishin' hole ;-)

[Thinking about it, Google's some spooky sh@t.]

Hey there, Tribe, a belated warm welcome to our fair province or, more appropriately, ceud mìle fàilte. Best wishes for every success as you establish your roots here on the east coast; I hope they grow deep and strong and nourish the soul well.


Carrier IQ and Orwell’s “Big Brother”

What began as marginal, page 8 reports in the European press several days ago now appears to be developing into the latest scandal concerning massive spying on citizens, most predominately but not limited to the US.

According to reports coming in, a company called Carrier IQ, headquartered in Mountain View, California, has developed and deployed spyware that is currently loaded and operating on millions of cell phones around the world. Almost 150 million phones are affected, from Blackberrys to Google-Androids to, allegedly, iPhones as well.

It appears that this is mainly, or solely, a US issue.

"We performed an analysis on our dataset of 5572 Android smartphones that volunteers from all over the world helped us create. From those 5572 devices, only 21 were found to be running the software, all of them in the US and Puerto Rico. The affected carriers we observed were AT&T, Boost Mobile and Sprint,"


That's probably because such data gathering would step way across the line of data protection and privacy in Europe - thanks to the various laws. Already EU agencies are asking questions of carriers, and are ready with the big stick if they find wrongdoing.

Note, apple admits they used to have this embedded in their OS, but got rid of it recently. Given the usual behaviour of apple, this probably means they have implemented an even deeper level spying on phones and user actions, probably linked to the iCloud service. Expect round 2 of this story in a week or two.

There are two sides to the story
1. Carriers do this data gathering all the time, and no it's not for the big brother. When you are roaming around with your cell, it makes sense for the company to log what what places you've been to, this way they can optimize network performance and save money and power. All of this is automated using neural network algorithms. There's another reason why this is done nowadays, targeted Ads

2. Govt's been spying on it's people for decades, GSM has a pretty weak encryption, meaning the interception can be done in real time. You get these big(getting smaller) network analyzers these days which act as the middleman between you and tower, the cell tower won't even know that someone's eavesdropping on the com(costs about 750k to million dollars a piece). People getting paranoid for no reason. Those who want to spy do so with all the impunity. You want to protect your conversation, use PGP with a 256 bit AES encryption.

Both of my cabins are heated with wood burning cookstoves. Formerly I cut wood on 25 acres of mixed black and white spruce, hauling it back to the cabin with a Kubota tractor. The branches went into the burn barrel. Finally I decided this happy chore took up time better used for other projects and ordered a 10 cord truck load of green birch logs for $1700. They arrived in June. The processing had ripped bark off so the logs had lost some moisture. I cut and stacked 2-1/2 cords. When I started burning birch in October the wood was dry enough to burn easily. In summer I cook on an electric hotplate or an RV propane stove, but none of these practices are as pleasant as sitting next to a wood burning stove when the temperature on my porch is below zero and watching my oatmeal cook.


Glad to hear you enjoy your wood heating, but I don't think you enjoyed a great deal on your purchase of logs.
For whole logs, instead of cut and split and seasoned, and for 10 cords worth, I would expect to pay no more than a third the cord price of firewood.

In fact, a cord of wood is about two cubic metres of solid wood, and this values your birch at $85/cu.m - that is the price for good quality sawlogs around here (BC) not rejects for firewood.

Even though gathering the wood still has a time component, $170 per cords for logs sounds like a lot to me - that is what you pay for a cord of cut, split and seasoned wood around here.

Saudi Arabia Pumping 10 Million Barrels a Day, Al-Naimi Says


I believe that Charles Mackay has previously noted there does not seem to have been any apparent material increase in Saudi oil exports since most Libyan oil exports stopped earlier in the year.

That does seem strange given that, by Al-Naimi's assertion, they have lifted production by >500,000bpd from september and october. Surely internal demand has not spiked by that much in a month and according to his own words it is incremental oil for their customers. It does appear to be in direct conflict with what Charles says.

Of course, in early 2004 Al-Naimi pledged to produce enough oil to bring oil prices back down to the designated $22 to $28 OPEC price band, and in fact Saudi net oil exports increased at 7.3%/year from 2002 to 2005, from 7.3 to 9.1 mbpd.

At this rate of increase, their annual net exports would have been at over 13 mbpd in 2010, but the observed 2005 to 2010 rate of decline in annual Saudi net oil exports was 4.7%/year, falling from 9.1 mbpd to 7.2 mbpd, below their 2002 rate of 7.3 mbpd (BP, total petroleum liquids).

As I have periodically noted, at the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in Saudi Arabia's ratio of consumption to production, they would approach zero net oil exports in about 14 years.

Saudi Arabia has shown year over year declines in net exports for four of the past five years, as annual US oil prices have shown year over year increases for four of the past five years. Annual Saudi net oil exports versus annual US oil prices (vertical scale):

It will be interesting to see what BP shows for Saudi net oil exports for 2011.

I think we need to nationalize all energy companies since businesses cannot effectively run themselves (tongue-in-cheek).

Fredriksen steps in to rescue Frontline

The deal will effectively split Frontline, which Mr Fredriksen has built up since the aftermath of the tanker market crisis of the mid-1980s, into a risky new company – to be called Frontline 2012 – and the existing company, which will become more conservative.

Frontline would remain cautious and focus its resources on its present activities until there was a clearer sign of recovery in the stricken tanker market, the company said in a statement to the Oslo stock exchange.

“Frontline 2012's ambition is to grow and become the consolidator in the tanker market when timing is right,” the statement added.

This was something I missed a couple of weeks ago and I don't think it was in the DB either.

Billionaire Oil Tanker Owner Files for Bankruptcy

General Maritime Corp., which operates the second-largest fleet of oil tankers in the United States, recently filed for bankruptcy after it saw record financial losses in the wake of sinking oil demand and a surplus of freight ships.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that General Maritime filed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in federal court in Manhattan. The company lists assets of $1.71 billion, but it also has a staggering sum of debt, which rounds out to about $1.41 billion.

Bracing for record potash demand

Pat: I know for a fact they are because we’re talking to various groups from China and India and our impression is that they’re very keen on acquiring assets. I expect they’re more than keen. They have a mandate from their governments to acquire assets, and in particular, potash assets.

Rick: That’s both the Indians and Chinese?

Pat: Absolutely. You know in India they’ve had all kinds of food riots. The Indian government is very aware they have to feed their people, remember that in India potash buyers get hugely subsidized. The budget for fertilizers in India is bigger than their military budget.

The Arctic Oscillation, Going to Extremes

Wondering why it’s been so warm the last couple of weeks? Check out the behavior of the Arctic Oscillation. It’s been highly positive, meaning cold air has been bottled up at high latitudes.

Compare that to 2009 and 2010, when it was highly negative, and Arctic air plunged into the eastern U.S. setting the stage for 2009’s Snowpocalypse and the big December 26 snowstorm that crushed the east coast.

related from NSIDC Winter in the Arctic: Ice and storms

Ice extent for November 2011 was the third lowest in the satellite record for the month, behind 2006 and 2010. Low sea ice extent this summer may be contributing to warmer November temperatures and lower November ice extents in some areas.

... The positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation also tends to be associated with unusually warm conditions over Scandinavia. According to Sweden's meteorological office, the country's average temperature for the month of November so far was 7 degrees Celsius (12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Typically by November, much of Scandinavia is already covered with snow, but maps from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab show that snow cover levels were anomalously low over Scandinavia and northwestern Europe during November. Below-normal snow conditions were also evident over most of the continental United States, except for the northern Rockies.

Link up top: Budgeting for turbulent times

Until recently, energy economists were debating ‘peak oil’ – the idea that available world oil supplies were in terminal decline. Peak oil is now forgotten: new technologies – shale gas, fracking, tar sands and tight oil - have opened up vast new deposits. North America will soon be self-sufficient and will remain so through the century. Across Africa oil and gas are being discovered by the month. This is before we allow for the more exotic technologies: solar power, bio-fuels, and exploration at the poles and beneath the oceans.

Big oil should really be worried because oil is just busting out all over. Look for the bottom to drop out of prices before long because of the developing glut. And North America will soon be self-sufficient in oil for the remainder of this century because of shale gas, fracking, tar sands and tight oil. That means we will soon be exporting oil to Mexico.

TOD should close down because of this glut in the oil patch. Just how wrong could we have been? (Hanging my head in shame.) :-(

Ron P.

Big Oil sees energy bonanza ahead

DOHA, Qatar�(CNNMoney) -- Just three years after fears of an energy supply shortage, executives of the world's leading oil companies now foresee a bonanza of oil and natural gas on the horizon.

In 2008, concern that a rapidly developing world was eating through all its energy supplies helped push prices to record levels, with oil hitting $147 a barrel and natural gas topping $15 per million cubic feet.

Now, those concerns have abated, reflected in $100 oil and $3-$4 natural gas. That's partly due to the global recession, but largely thanks to new technology that's unlocked vast new supplies of oil and, especially, natural gas....

"The world holds centuries of natural gas supply, enough for generations," said James Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500), at the World Petroleum Congress on Tuesday. "We don't need any new miracles, the miracles have already occurred."

Relax, Ron. Revel in this age of miracles ;-)

Ghung - What I find most interesting is his assesment that "$100 oil" has abated the world's concern that oil was getting in short supply. Thank goodness we have so much oil that they are damn near giving it away...at $100/bbl

It's how they establish the new normal, ROCK. Remind folks that oil hit $140 a few years back. One wonders if that spike wasn't intentional, kind of like beating the crap out of your kids occasionally so the daily whippings don't seem so bad.

SSDD: Equate natural gas with crude; "new" technology has saved the world; $100 oil is affordable; Polly want a cracker?

The whippings will continue until consumer confidence returns!


Today's severe drought, tomorrow's normal

While the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s grips Oklahoma and Texas, scientists are warning that what we consider severe drought conditions in North America today may be normal for the continent by the mid-21st century, due to a warming planet.

PDSI less than -2 indicates “moderate drought”. PDSI less than -3 indicates “severe drought.

What happens when North Dakota's oil boom goes bust?



Once again I'm forced to sound like a Halliburton defender. The lawsuit by BP alleging H. destroyed evidence is a tad misleading. It takes a bit of digging to understand what this "evidence" is. It has nothing to do with the actual cement used on the well or any of the tests conducted on the rig prior to the blow out. All those samples were lost in the explosion. What they are referring to is testing done long after the accident:

"The BP documents state that two Halliburton employees testified under oath about destroying notes and samples related to analyzing the stability of a similar cement mixture that was used in the failed oil well. "


BP could have the samples of that cement mixture tested by any number of independent labs. Think about it: if you want to sue a company for a bad product are you going to have that same company test the product? Doesn't sound logical.

When cement is pumped into a well samples are retained for two reasons: to see how well the cement sets up and, if it doesn't set up properly, the contents can be analyzed. These are the actual sample lost in the explosion. But even then such analysis isn't very meaningful. Most important, the cement has to set up in an environment very different than the surface sample: hundreds of degrees in temperature and many thousands of psi. Additionally how the cement is pumped and how diluted it might become in the process are very critical to the outcome.

Cement failure in a well is very common. It's one of the most difficult down hole process to accomplish in the oil patch IMHO. We always pressure test the cement job after it has set. And we always do it for a good reason: cement failure is expected in many cases. So common we assume it will happen often enough that we keep the equipment needed to repair a bad cement job on the rig 24/7. You've seen comments about running a CBL...cement bond log. The CBL shows where there are voids in the cement job. It doesn't tell you if the cement is solid enough to hold any pressures it might encounter.

The biggest confusion has to do with the pressure testing of the cement. Two basic tests. First either increase pressure... a LOT (leak off test: pressure up until it fails) and an FIT (Formation Integrity Test: pressure up to a predetermined limit). Second, reduce the pressure on the cement by reducing the hydrostatic pressure) to determine if the formation pressure will cause it to fail. Lots of confusing/conflicting statements from the folks on the rig who were responsible for these tests. I can't draw a conclusion based upon the reports I've seen. But one thing will always be true: the operator of the well is solely responsible for this test. Always has been...always will be.

As the link points out: "Every contributing cause where Halliburton is named, the operational responsibility lies solely with BP". Halliburton, or any other cementing contractor, supplies the material, the equipment and the personnel to pump the cement. But how the cement is formulated, how its mixed, pumped and tested are the responsibility of the operator. I tell the cement company what type of cement I want, how much is pumped, how its pumped and how long it sets before I test it. And my personnel conduct the test as per my instructions. It's my responsibility to accept the test as valid or not. As they say: the buck stops here. My responsibility. My decision. My fault if it goes bad.

This is why Halliburton and every other cementing company charges full price for a failed cement job...and full price for its repair. They just supply the materials and pumping equipment. It's the operator's cement job...not the cementing company.

Halliburton has aggravated the hell out of me many times over the years. As recently as 5 months ago. You have no idea what a bad taste it leaves in my mouth to write this post. But the facts are the facts. The worse cement job in the histroy of the oil patch would have not led to the blow out had BP not reduced the hydrostaic pressure on the well by displacing the mud with salt water. Having a mud weight producing a pressure greater than the reservoir is the primary tool to prevent a blow out either while driling or completing a well. In 36 years and hundreds of wells not once did I intentionally allow the mud weight to be insufficient to control formation pressure. Obviously BP had their reasons for doing so. In my book there is never a good reason to do so.

Their reason is probably very simple:

Under Sarbanes-Oxley, any act that could in any way be deemed a destruction of evidence, can land you 20 years in prison.

Nice amount of leverage with which to get HAL to take part of the civil liability, methinks.

Once they hit the courtroom, the lawyers take over. They are talking about 'spoliation' of evidence, usually destruction of emails, records, photos, documents, etc., that are known by the other side to exist. It usually happens when one side figures the other does NOT know, and tries to get away with something. When they get caught, the lawyers blame their client (and sometimes it is the client who did the deed). Check out Qualcomm Inc. v. Broadcom Corp., 2008 WL 66932 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 7, 2008) where Qualcomm was sanctioned more than $8 Million!!! Later Qualcomm and their attorneys (Day, Casebeer, et al.) got into a pissing contest over who did what. The lawyers say they won, but the firm no longer exists!


Santa’s Land owners calling it quits at month’s end

PUTNEY, Vt. — Santa’s Land will close its doors for good later this month after 54 years in business.

Timothy and Leslie Wells purchased the year-round, Christmas-themed park seven years ago, making improvements and increasing the park’s attendance, the couple said.

But when gas prices topped $4 per gallon four years ago, out-of-state business declined and never recovered, the couple said.

It's OK, kids. Santa has a summer home in North Carolina :-)


I'm sorry, but Santa lives in Finland - not far from Rovaniemi. I know this for a fact, because I've been there and seen it with my own eyes. Indeed, I have Santa's Village stamped in my passport, so it must be true.

North Dakota foresees massive increases in rail capacity and pipelines to deal with Bakken Oil

Rail projects that are under way will more than double that capacity to 706,000 b/d by late 2012



Is that increase even physically possible under any set of assumptions?

600 barrels per tank car, 100 tank cars per train = 60,000 barrels per train per day. Moving 706,000 barrels per day would require 12 trains per day.

They can move 24 trains per day in both directions on one existing single-track line with centralized traffic control, which would give them 1.44 mbpd of capacity.

If they need to move more, they can double, triple, or quadruple-track the line, and railroads in the central and western US have lots of space in their existing rights-of-way to do so. Some of the railroad lines moving coal in the western states have already been triple-tracked.

I think oil production in North Dakota will peak long before they run out of rail capacity to move the oil.

Radiation traces found in Japanese baby formula

Traces of radiation spilled from Japan's hobbled nuclear plant were detected in baby formula Tuesday in the latest case of contaminated food in the nation.

Kyodo News said airborne radioactive cesium contaminated milk as it was being dried at a plant in Saitama prefecture in March, citing the company. The company was not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.

Meiji has about 40 percent of domestic baby formula sales, but the amount of recalled formula wasn't disclosed. The product is exported to Vietnam under a different name, Kyodo reported

A Rare Survey of the One Percent

Among the survey findings:

**Members of the one percent are far more likely to initiate contact with a federal official than is the general public. About half of the survey’s 104 respondents reported initiating contact with a member of Congress, White House official or federal regulatory agency official at least once in the last six months. In contrast, a 2008 public opinion survey by American National Election Studies found that only 25 percent of the general public had contacted any elected official in the past 12 months.

**Members of the one percent tend to emphasize relying on free markets or private philanthropy to produce good outcomes. More than other citizens, they tend to think in terms of “getting government out of the way” to solve public problems.

**More members of the one percent point to the federal budget deficit as the country’s most pressing problem than to any other problem facing the nation.

**Members of the one percent are more active in politics than less affluent Americans.

Members of the one percent are far more likely to initiate contact with a federal official than is the general public. About half of the survey’s 104 respondents reported initiating contact with a member of Congress, White House official or federal regulatory agency official at least once in the last six months.

Since they're often one and the same....get elected to the one percent.

Members of the one percent tend to emphasize relying on free markets...

Let Them Eat π

Markets are the collective expression of individual greed. They are the overview of a no-holds-barred fight of individual interests, scrambling to make money. They position themselves, posture, exaggerate and lie all the time. They exist based on the economic theory that they are “self-correcting” and yet they have shown themselves repeatedly not only to be unable to correct their flaws but also to cause or exacerbate systemic errors.

We increasingly humanise them in the language that we use – “markets are jittery”; “markets have reacted with anger”; “markets seem to have confidence”. Meanwhile we dehumanise and objectify real people who are, right now, suffering untold misery.

Great post, Ghung. In particular I like this line: Since they're often one and the same....get elected to the one percent.

One 1% hand feeds the other 1% hands, as big money instills their representatives in a positive feedback loop.

I found it fascinating that the recent election in Russia is considered by many there to be a farce, a fraud. But the US, the supposed bastian of democracy had Bush jr. in 2000 instituted as Prez by the 9th member of the Supreme Court on a court that is slanted to the right. In 2004 there were allegations of computer vote fraud in Ohio and New Mexico. So how different is Russia from the US? If both countries have established a manner in which their top 1% people are always on top, then there isn't much seperating them.

Venezuela's Chavez says the country are to produce 3.5M BPD in 2012


The logical outcome of the wastedenergy platform of burning the 'remains of human activity' (waste to energy)

Or perhaps "Soylant Watts are People!"


In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity.

A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.

And under Propaganda (err Public Relations)

The fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes. Among them was a 100-page teacher’s guide, which waxed lyrical about the “beneficial uses of radiation,”

Yes, the benefit of letting it out of reactors.

Corpses to kilowatts... Ai yi yi -- suddenly flashing on the final reel of "The Idaho Transfer"... [shudder]

Warming to lead to global sea-level rise

Speaking at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting here, federal and academic scientists said they reviewed ice core measures spanning more than 500,000 years of Ice Ages and subsequent warming periods to warn that ice sheets in the past had quickly melted once temperatures reached tipping points.

"It's like the ice on your windshield suddenly starting to melt all at once," says Eelco Rohling of the United Kingdom's University of Southampton. "The ice takes a little kicking and then it melts."