Drumbeat: December 10, 2011

David Strahan: Has the world reached economic peak oil?

Whisper it. Oil production in the US is increasing. The country where output peaked in 1970 and then shrank by 40 per cent over four decades, has turned some kind of corner. Between 2008 and 2010, production rebounded by 800,000 barrels per day to 7.5 million barrels per day, and analysts forecast more growth to come. Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2017 production in the US could reach almost 11 mb/d, just shy of its all-time high, restoring the country to its former glory as the world’s biggest producer.

One reason is a sharp increase in production of “shale oil”. In North Dakota,Texas and Oklahoma, companies are using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” – a controversial technique that has revolutionised US natural gas production – to extract a range of liquid hydrocarbons from non-porous shale that used to be thought unworkable.

Saudi Manifa Oil Project to Cost $17 Billion, Aramco Says

Saudi Arabia will spend about $17 billion developing the Manifa oil field as the national crude producer shifts focus to developing natural gas deposits and refining and petrochemical plants, the company’s head said.

Radio China International and 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar

Yesterday I received an email and a telephone call from Radio China International. They inquired if I would be willing to answer a few questions on the occasion of the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar. Every third year the world’s oil producers gather for a large congress. For the first time they have now gathered in the Middle East. The interview with Radio China International has now been completed and it is interesting to look at the questions that they wanted to discuss. It became apparent that the reason they were interested in discussing oil’s future with me was a report I wrote in 2007 commissioned by the OECD, “Peak Oil and the Evolving Strategies of Oil Importing and Exporting Countries”. In the report I asserted that that the growth in production that continued international economic growth required would not be possible in the future.

World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar - ExxonMobil: ‘Technology to beat Peak Oil’ and Total pulls itself into line

Before the World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar the newspaper Gulf Times wrote in an article that, “A highlight is the keynote speech that will be delivered by Total’s President and CEO, Christophe de Margerie on the theme: “Peak oil – ahead of us or behind us?” on December 7”. The fact that Peak Oil is the theme for one of the seven main presentations at the congress shows that Peak Oil is now an important topic of discussion in the international and national oil industries. Earlier, Total had indicated that they believed Peak Oil could occur before 2030 so it was with some suspense that we awaited the message from Total and their managing director de Margarie.

Oil and Our Energy Future

As growing demand for oil continues to have both financial and political implications across the world, energy has become one of the most significant issues of our time. In this video, CNBC’s Ron Insana speaks with Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel Yergin, one of the world’s foremost authorities on oil and energy markets, about where this vital sector is headed.

New Brunswick's Shale Exploration Stirs Opposition

The oil and gas industry's efforts to map southern New Brunswick's commercially recoverable shale gas potential is being met with significant opposition from local citizens and community groups as the provincial government seeks to impose stricter regulations on oil and gas activity.

Daniel Yergin: Development of alternative fuels need unprecedented efforts

“Compared with other countries in the region Ukraine is at an early stage of assessing its reserves of shale gas and coal bed methane,” HIS Executive Vice President and HIS CERA COB Daniel Yergin told “k:” on the country’s prospects of the production of alternative fuel, according to KyivWeekly.

“The analysis conducted by HIS CERA shows that Ukraine could have quite substantial reserves of alternative fuel. <…> The main issues that have to be addressed are the potential volumes of production of such reserves and what will be the cost,” Daniel Yergin warned. “The experience of shale gas exploration in the U.S. points to the necessity of caution. It clearly shows that believing there are substantial resources without conducting a thorough inspection of this fact would have been a grave mistake.”

Yemen seeks gasoline in January in tender

Traders who supply fuel to Yemen and shipping sources said the impoverished country faces a repeat of last summer, when three months of pipeline and refinery shutdowns caused a fuel shortage and deadly petrol station fights.

Angry tribesmen blew up the pipeline in mid-March and prevented repair work, causing severe fuel shortages. The refinery went back to production in July after Saudi Arabia donated 3 million barrels of oil to Yemen.

Tajikistan: Energy Shortage Accelerates Deforestation

“These hills used to be covered with trees in Soviet times,” says Umedjon Baburforov, gesturing to the bare slopes around his village of Yanchob, near Dushanbe. “Now there are none.”

In the mountains of Tajikistan, summer is the season for collecting wood. Come winter, when many settlements throughout the country receive less than four hours of electricity per day from the state’s power grid, a wood stove becomes the main source of heating for many families. “We have to go further and further each year to find wood. We are planting more trees but they take a long time to grow,” explains Baburforov, 76.

Pakistan Textile Exports May Be Hurt by Gas Shortage, Group Says

Pakistan’s textile shipments, which contribute 60 percent to the country’s total export earnings, may miss an industry target by 25 percent because of an energy crisis that has shut factories, a textile group said.

Natural gas stations shut down amid crisis: Public transport brought to a standstill

Karachi: Natural gas stations in the southern Sindh province, including Pakistan's largest city, were yesterday closed down for a day amid an unprecedented energy crisis.

What Russians told Putin about his oil-powered sense of entitlement

So why did the ostensibly long-suffering Russians turn on Putin and deny United Russia continuation of the two-thirds margin that it won in the Duma four years ago?

China warns of risks without deal on Sudanese oil

KHARTOUM, Sudan—China's special envoy to Africa warned of serious consequences Saturday if Sudan and South Sudan cannot resolve their disputes over oil and the demarcation of their border.

China is a major buyer of and investor in Sudanese oil, most of which is located in South Sudan, which declared independence in July. A 2005 peace treaty ended nearly five decades of war between the mostly Arab north and mostly black south.

Outrage at UK's $1bn loan deal with Brazil oil giant

A British government decision to underwrite a billion-dollar loan to one of the world's biggest oil companies came under fire from environmentalists last night. Groups including WWF and Greenpeace accused ministers of reneging on a pledge not to support investment in "dirty fossil fuel".

Nixon administration official sought secret talks with Canada on oil pipeline route, documents show

A new report about U.S. foreign policy during the 1970s energy crisis has some interesting revelations buried within it about the political strategy to get the oil pipeline built.

All Brazil's cars to use ethanol

Two thirds of all cars in Brazil are fuelled with ethanol, said the chief executive of Petrobras, José Sergio Gabrielli, speaking last week at the World's 20th Petroleum Conference, in Doha, Qatar.

Gabrielli, head of the third-biggest Brazilian oil producer, said the company is increasing its ethanol production and predicts all cars in Brazil will soon be running on ethanol, while also exploring new oil fields.

2011 Proving to Be a Bad Year for Air Quality in Texas

Scientists are still trying to understand the reasons for this year’s statewide spike in ozone, which is largely a summer phenomenon. Possibilities include wildfires, drought and the summer’s extreme heat, all of which can contribute to ozone formation.

Meanwhile, amid shale booms across the state, questions are increasing about the effects of oil and gas drilling on air pollution. Trucks carrying drilling materials emit nitrogen oxides, as does equipment like compressors. Natural gas escaping from pipelines or storage tanks emits volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Nitrogen oxides and VOCs are known as ozone “precursors” because, aided by sunlight, they can react with each other to form ozone.

Quality of Air? That’s as Murky as Western Sky

The question of how clean the air is in the American West has never been an easy one to answer, strange to say. And now scientists say it is getting harder, with implications that ripple out in surprising ways, from the kitchen faucets of Los Angeles to public health clinics in canyon-land Utah to the economics of tourism.

It is at least partly about dust, something that has been entwined with Western life for a long time, and now appears to be getting worse.

Richard Heinberg: Behind the Durban Blame Game

Why did the Durban climate talks fail? Ultimately, the culprit is the near-universal pursuit of economic growth. All the major players want growth: the US, because it’s still pulling out of a recession; China, because it knows 10 percent annual growth can’t go on forever, but is trying to avoid a hard landing; Europe, which is trying to pull out of its sovereign debt spiral. The US and China, in particular, know that fossil fuels have given them growth in the past, and are especially reluctant to give them up now.

Good news: The Lawrence Peak Oil Plan is Finished!

Of course, after the plan is adopted, the real work begins, so let's all see what we can do to help the city implement the recommended actions [PDF], and think of new ideas to take us even further. If it takes a village to raise a child, the same must be true to create sustainable communities.

Crude Oil Rises on Increasing U.S. Consumer Sentiment, European Accord

Oil climbed the most in more than a week after a report showed that confidence among U.S. consumers rose to a six-month high and as European leaders agreed to boost the region’s rescue fund and tighten budget rules.

US count down 6, gas rigs plummet

The number of rigs drilling for oil and gas in the US fell by six this week, Houston-based services outfit Baker Hughes said in its weekly rig count report.

China Nov crude imports 2nd highest on record

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's crude oil imports in November rose 8.5 percent over a year earlier to about 5.52 million barrels per day (bpd), the second highest on record on a daily basis, as refineries ramped up production to ease a domestic diesel shortage.

U.S. Experiencing the Beginning of a Long-term Energy Boom

NEW ORLEANS, La. - In 1956, M. King Hubbert established the first scientific model behind peak oil to accurately predict the height of U.S. oil production. Hubbert, a well-known geologist, theorized that oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970.

In 1971, oil production did indeed peak. And, for the last fifty years, Hubbert’s theory has held true as global oil production has been in gradual decline since that time. However, new discoveries in the Gulf and the rise of unconventional resource plays across the nation are drilling a metaphorical hole in the peak oil argument. America’s newfound resources are not only challenging peak oil, they are also building the case for U.S. energy independence.

How Investor's Are Crushing Big Oil

It was Texas' Barnett shale that kicked off this shale revolution, but for the last two years, the Eagle Ford shale has been being developed at a feverish pitch.

Thanks to these new plays, Texas has managed to do what Alaska simply can't: hold off the decline.

U.S. Energy Policy And The Battle For Asia's Booming LNG Market

The future seems to be in natural gas, not oil. Here is the ExxonMobil Outlook for Energy, a view to 2040. Not too many surprises, it's broadly in line with similar publications from the International Energy Agency (IEA). According to the Exxon report, global energy demand will be 30% higher than in 2010.

That's actually a surprisingly low figure, considering the fact that global GDP is supposed to rise much faster. Indeed, were it not for 'efficiency gains,' energy demand would rise much faster:

Fracking And Exploding U.S. Shale Play To Feed Halliburton's Profits

Halliburton will surge on its North American business, particularly fracking as the U.S. shale play continues to evolve, analysts at RBC Capital Markets argue. The large oilfield services provider won’t derive much profit from its international operations, but it will see Iraqi production stabilizing and unconventional gas plays develop across the globe, setting it up to benefit in the future.

'Iran oil embargo causes European crisis'

A member of Iran Majlis (parliament) Energy Committee says recent sanctions enforced by the European Union (EU) against Iran's oil sector will cripple Europe's economy.

Seyyed Emad Hosseini further stated that Iran's oil export to EU member states accounts for less than 18 percent of the country's total exports, Fars News Agency reported.

Yemen unity government sworn in, soldier killed

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's new unity government, formed to try and avert civil war, met for the first time on Saturday, hours after a soldier was killed in continuing violence between supporters and opponents of outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

French oil giant mulls plan to build oil pipeline to aid South Sudan

The French oil major Total is weighing a plan to build a pipeline that would offer South Sudan a way out of its impasse over oil exports.

Playing with fire: Obama's threat to China

The new emphasis on Asia and the containment of China is necessary, top officials insist, because the Asia-Pacific region now constitutes the "centre of gravity" of world economic activity. While the United States was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes, China had the leeway to expand its influence in the region.

For the first time since the end of World War II, Washington is no longer the dominant economic actor there. If the United States is to retain its title as the world's paramount power, it must, this thinking goes, restore its primacy in the region and roll back Chinese influence. In the coming decades, no foreign policy task will, it is claimed, be more important than this.

Mexican States, Alabama Cities Can’t Bring Some BP Spill Claims

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican states and Alabama cities that a federal judge deemed too far removed from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to have been physically harmed by it were barred from bringing some claims against BP Plc.

Radioactive water leaks inside Japan plant

TOKYO (AP) — Radioactive water leaked inside a nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan but did not escape into the environment, the government said Saturday, the latest problem for the country's nuclear industry amid an ongoing crisis at another plant.

Less Than Zero: the 1 Percent and the Fate of the Earth

Beyond the massive amount of carbon we have extracted from the old earth and pumped into the new one (what McKibben calls “Eaarth”) through our tailpipes and chimneys, we are now setting off the planet’s own internal “carbon bombs.” We’ve caused it but “we’re not directly releasing that methane” and “we can’t shut it off.” To make matters worse, the heat-induced softening of permafrost and the drying up of peat moss opens new northern lands to oil drilling. And as the last reservoirs of readily accessible petroleum run dry in a new era of “peak oil,” McKibben noted, we will increasingly “rely on even more use of our most abundant fossil fuel, good old coal. And the certain result of using more coal will be…more global warming, since it’s the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, producing twice the carbon dioxide of oil.”

The death of the 'Star Trek' EV

It’s an unsettling time for electric vehicles right now, because the Volt battery fires aren’t going away, and they’re threatening to scare people away from a fragile, still-embryonic clean car movement. The timing couldn’t be worse. But all the big drivers — global warming, peak oil, stringent federal and international regulation — are still in place. Don’t write off the electrification of the automobile.

Charging Stations Await Cars

WHEN Kinne Yon, a developer, and her brother Neal Sigety were planning an environmentally friendly rental tower at 1510 Lexington Avenue a few years ago, they incorporated a charging station for electric cars — even though there were few, if any, plug-in models available at the time.

Reining In the ‘Soft Costs’ of Solar

Reducing the cost of installing solar power systems for homes and small commercial properties remains near the top of the Department of Energy’s to-do list. Early this year, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, unveiled the department’s SunShot Initiative, fashioned at least in spirit on the moon shot program, in which the Kennedy administration set out to put a man on the moon.

Minn. gets new setback in fight against Asian carp

(AP) MINNEAPOLIS — Tests have found signs of Asian carp in the Mississippi River north of a key physical barrier keeping the invasive species of fish from spreading into many of the state's most popular lakes, officials said Thursday.

Poll suggests believers can be swayed on nukes, environment

WASHINGTON — Most Americans believers do not see preventing climate change or the spread of nuclear weapons as “spiritual obligations,” although they see both as important goals, according to a new poll.

Among respondents who said they believe in God or in “spiritual obligations for behavior,” the importance of these issues ranked far behind reducing global poverty and hunger.

Global warming will boost solar power in Europe but cause losses elsewhere

Amid all the discussion about how energy sources may impact on climate change, we often overlook the fact that climate change will in turn impact on energy sources. As the world warms, this will become an increasingly important issue, affecting everything from nuclear power stations needing cold water for cooling through to melting ice opening up new fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic.

Statoil expects more arctic exploration

DOHA, Qatar (UPI) -- Political obstacles to exploring for oil and gas in arctic waters will fall as technology improves, an oil executive told the World Petroleum Congress in Qatar.

A game that no one really wins

A board game dreamt up on the anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol is meant to teach lessons for sharing scarce resources from energy to food.

New deal tabled at climate talks after rebellion

(Reuters) - Developing states most at risk from global warming rebelled against a proposed deal at U.N. climate talks on Friday, forcing host South Africa to draw up new draft documents in a bid to prevent the talks collapsing.

UN conference works through a 2nd night to map out future of fight against global warming

DURBAN, South Africa — Some ministers and top climate negotiators left Durban without an agreement Saturday, with time running out and the prospect of an inconclusive end jeopardizing new momentum in the fight against global warming.

Canada blames China for being 'obstructionist' on climate treaty

With negotiations extended by an extra day and huge differences still remaining, Canada is blaming China for being “obstructionist” on a climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Help still needed after record-breaking year for disasters

(CNN) -- From the tsunami in Japan to famine in East Africa to the deadly tornado outbreaks in the United States, 2011 has been a historic year for natural disasters.

A dozen weather-related disasters in the United States alone have caused more than $1 billion in damages each, breaking the record of nine billion-dollar disasters set in 2008, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Altogether, the damage from these events exceeds $50 billion.

"In many ways, 2011 rewrote the record books. From crippling snowstorms to the second deadliest tornado year on record to epic floods, drought and heat, and the third busiest hurricane season on record, we've witnessed the extreme of nearly every weather category," said NOAA spokesman Christopher Vaccaro.

Let the invasion begin....

EU Invades US for Energy Resource – Offshore Wind

Not content with dominating the European off-shore renewable energy industry, European juggernauts of offshore wind have landed on the shores of Maine where they want to see if the US is good at making off-shore wind power too.

Norway’s Statoil, maker of the Hywind floating wind turbine in Europe (last year’s story: Oil Company Begins Wind Test of Off-Shore) is heading to the coast of Maine for a test of its Hywind floating turbine on these shores. Europe makes 99% of the offshore wind power in the world and is on track to build 141 GW more!!! over the next two decades. But Europe only has so much coastal water near population centers, suitable for off-shore wind. The USA however is… um, surrounded.

So while the US has busied itself digging up third world dictatorships for the energy to be gotten from under them, ton by laborious ton, Europe has moved on. Now it’s coming after a more permanent energy resource, in one of its former colonies.

See: http://cleantechnica.com/2011/12/09/eu-statoil-siemens-hywind-floating-m...


"The USA however is… um, surrounded."

I didn't realise that the Canadian and Mexican borders were maritime. ;(


Maine, the Saudi Arabia of wind

While Europe has over one hundred off-shore wind farms - some fixed to the seabed and some floating - the United States, perhaps surprisingly, has none at all. That's right: none, zero, nada.

This was Matt Simmons project before he died. Good for Maine.

The Great Lakes are a maritime boundary with Canada :-)


Report: US drones helping local police agencies

The Times said a North Dakota county sheriff asked federal authorities to employ a drone for surveillance in a standoff with three men on a large farm on June 23, resulting in the first known arrests of U.S. citizens involving the spy planes in domestic cases.

Since then, the Times said, two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base have flown at least two dozen surveillance flights for local police. The Times reported that the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have also used Predator drones in domestic investigations.

Congress authorized the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to buy unarmed Predators in 2005, the Times said, to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers on the country's northern and southwestern borders.


Well, they have to find some use for those Predator drones they bought to prevent smugglers and illegal aliens crossing the border near Grand Forks, ND. There are not very many people around there, and it must be awfully boring watching the prairie dogs wander back and forth all day.

Drug smuggling is not that common in the region, but cattle rustling is. I guess the border patrol decided to branch out and catch the local rustlers.

It's not likely there would be much smuggling across the border since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police keeps a close watch on things on the Canadian side. They were established in 1847 to stop American whiskey traders from smuggling liquor into Canada, and frankly I don't think the crime scene has changed much since then. Probably most of the illegal smuggling is still cheap whiskey from the US.

Probably most of the illegal smuggling is still cheap whiskey from the US.

Or cheap viagra from Canada.

Makes me want to stand up and sing O' Canada.

Maybe you better not stand.

Or people fleeing to canada for any sort of healthcare.

The case focuses on a patent that covers the concept of adjusting the dosage of a class of drugs, called thiopurines, based on the concentration of a particular chemical (called a metabolite) in the patient's blood. The patent does not cover the drugs themselves—those patents expired years ago—nor does it cover any specific machine or procedure for measuring the metabolite level. Rather, it covers the idea that particular levels of the chemical "indicate a need" to raise or lower the drug dosage.

if they approve it then your doctor can run afoul of patents just by diagnosing you..

What the border is like nowadays-
Two Canadian friends who are rail fans were on a road on the Canadian side were watching the BNSF transfer rail cars back & forth across the border when after 20 min they noticed an Apachee helicopter hovering above the wheat fields on the US side- 1/4 mile away. They waved. It stayed there for 5 min and flew off. The border service could have sent a truck from Pembina border station- less than 2 miles but they sent the chopper from Grand Forks AFB- 100 miles away. And then you wonder why security costs so much. If they really were terrorists the chopper was a sitting duck. No Canadian officers showed up, just a couple of guys standing on the side of a public road on a sunny afternoon. Freedom, yea.

Are you sure it was an Apache as that is a weapons platform and not another bird ?

No. I wasn't there. I'm only repeating what one of the two fellows said the next week. It was not a civilian type. I don't know what is based at GFAFB.

It’s an unsettling time for electric vehicles right now, because the Volt battery fires aren’t going away, and they’re threatening to scare people away from a fragile, still-embryonic clean car movement. The timing couldn’t be worse. But all the big drivers — global warming, peak oil, stringent federal and international regulation — are still in place. Don’t write off the electrification of the automobile.

There is a definitely a role for electric transit vehicles in the future.
But these are far more likely to be Green Transit buses, shuttles, and all sorts of
rail. If the US is serious about reducing oil usage and greenhouse emissions
(which to date it is regrettably not) it would follow the example during WW II.
When the US government and Corporate establishment agreed to mobilize resources for
WWII car production dropped to 143 personal cars in just 3 years.
In just a few years from 1941 to 1946 long distance passenger rail trips quadrupled,
local transit doubled, car mileage dropped 50%.
By increasing the gas tax and other auto fees (toll increases in NYC already caused
4% drop in auto crossings in a month) and actually running existing Green transit
the US could easily cut its oil usage and greenhouse emissions by 20% in a year.
Myths to the contrary that the US is "too big and vast" to support Green transit,
in fact according to the Federal Highway Administration 79% of Americans already live
in urbanized areas. According to a 2 year intensive Brookings study last May
70% of working age Americans in 100 US Metro areas already live just 3/4ths mile
from a transit stop!
The problem as anyone who tries to use Green Transit in the US knows is actual\
service frequency and connections. The Brookings study also showed that only 30% of
working age Americans could get to a job using transit in less than 90 minutes even
during peak service times.
That can be corrected without a huge expense - run frequent local service coupled
with express service, add connecting buses and shuttles (which could be electric)
and also add safe biking and walking paths.
Electric personal cars will NOT be the answer!
They only reduce CO2 emissions with existing electricity production by 33% and
still require acres of asphalt, parking, etc.

Let's not write off the Volt just yet. GM is handling it very well. They are offering a fix and thus the agency must re-test the new system. After the crash tests, they will now have to follow the post-accident procedures that drain the battery of energy, like taking the gas out of a gas tank after an accident or test. Duh.

So, even if GM only changes a label, the problem is fixed because 1) there have been no fires to private vehicles 2) thousands of gas vehicle catch fire every year, 3) GM has the proper post-accident procedures ready.

If we stop EV development now it would be like not going to the moon because some people got hurt. Let us not forget how many people have died, and continue to die using fossil fuels to power their vehicles.

Energy is dangerous stuff and must be handled with care. Accidents will happen and the way forward is to figure out what was the cause, fix it and move forward. Staying with fossil fuels is not an option.

This Volt thing really does surprise me - someone really has an axe to grind. Given that batteries store electricity, it should be no surprise that a broken battery can cause a fire. The moral is that if you crash your Volt, don;t leave it sitting there for three weeks before you do anything!

The problem with the Volt, IMO, is that it is simply too expensive - it is not a sustainable option that 99% of the people can afford.
The real work needs to be on making this solution more affordable.

While I am a fan of transit, the fact is that governments (in the US, anyway) can't get broad support for doing it. Ev's are not dependent on gov, just on being affordable. Solve that, and they will proliferate.

"Given that batteries store electricity, it should be no surprise that a broken battery can cause a fire. "

And let's not forget all the acid burns people have gotten from the regular car batteries either.

Much ado about nothing.

The problem with the batteries is their weight and size.

And the problem with the electric car is not the electric, it's the car. Driving around in any 3000-pound vehicle, with leather seats, stereos and DVD players and whatnot, hundreds of pounds of glass, is a super-extravagant use of energy, any way you slice it, and probably an unsustainable form of personal transport.

Its still beats owning any regular ICE powered vehicle. Even with the weight penalty, you have the possibility of driving up to 50 miles on battery alone and the option of taking a long road trip if need be.

I think you are talking about different degrees of unsustainable extravagance.

Exactly, RH. The automobile is wildly unsustainable. The problem is that it's absolutely central to corporate capitalism, so the entire power structure is going to keep smothering the obvious truth.

The panic about the Volt is completely unjustified. It took weeks after a major accident for the fires to occur.

That's the problem, it took weeks after a major accident. If it caught fire immediately, that would be expected. GM was hoping to prove how innovative it is with the volt. It only takes a few cases like this to reinforce the belief that the "American" car companies can't build a decent product.

How are personal car EV's going to be more affordable when the world runs out of lithium? Moreover the cost of the personal car is a lot more than simply running
the car itself or fueling it or even the copious materials in terms of steel, glass,
rubber (synthetic or otherwise) to build it which are immense in themselves.
It is the cost of maintaining 12x the land use for the right of way for roads vs rail
let alone the further acres of asphalt for parking. Lester Brown has estimated it takes 1 football field of asphalt for every 5 cars, electric or otherwise.
Where is the asphalt going to come from as cheap oil runs out?

From the Massacussetts DOT asphalt price listing:

2000 - $194 per ton
2009 - $512
2011 - $640

Does anyone expect asphalt to get cheaper as peak oil runs out?
Moreover there all the ancillary costs of the 30,000 plus personal car deaths,
hundreds of thousands of injuries, traffic cops to deal with millions of
personal cars, traffic courts, etc etc etc

Personal cars are only affordable so long as their true costs are paid by
Federal, State and Municipal governments General Funds...

The trouble is, just about everything else also seems to be "affordable" only when even most of the cost is paid by governments. So we have city bus fares typically covering only 1/3 of the cost of of just "operation", little or none of the cost of capital, and almost always nothing at all of the cost of wear-and-tear on the streets (those buses normally run on untaxed diesel and the axle load is fairly high.) If car drivers got that sweet a deal, buses and trains would disappear. Seemingly the alternative is to lock everybody into their houses...

Car owners ARE getting such a sweet deal right now. Even beyond the direct costs of building and maintaining infrastructure (currently falling apart because of insufficient revenue) there are all kinds of indirect subsidies of automobile-centric lifestyles. In no particular order:

- The MASSIVE and entirely unpaid climate footprint of the transportation sector, full costs currently unknown and possibly unknowable (therefore conveniently valued at zero)
- Burdening of public health systems, shortened lifespans and poor health imposed through direct air emissions from vehicles as well as through an inherently dangerous mode of transportation (auto accidents are currently the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., IIRC)
- Tax credits for single-family home ownership
- Implied or actual bailouts of the auto sector as a macroeconomic insurance policy (too-big-to-fail syndrome)
- Visual and noise pollution
- Economic and social opportunity costs of appropriating land and resources for highways and roads, destruction of social fabric of communities and isolation of individuals and households from one another

IMO the above is just the tip of the iceberg, but the point is really that any comparison of different transportation options needs to come to an honest assessment of their true life cycle costs and benefits. Our political economy may render certain costs invisible or assert that uncertainties make them impossible to value, but that is just self-serving intellectual laziness, and it doesn't mean those costs just go away.


You make some valid points.

Your assertion on Auto/vehicle deaths got me curious, so I used the Google:

Cause Percent of Total

1. Diseases of the heart 28.5
2. Malignant tumors 22.8
3. Cerebrovascular diseases 6.7
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5.1
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries) 4.4 vehicle accidents #1,see link below
6. Diabetes mellitus 3.0
7. Influenza and pneumonia 2.7
8. Alzheimer's disease 2.4
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 1.7
10. Septicemia (blood poisoning) 1.4
11. Suicide 1.3
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 1.1
13. Primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease 0.8
14. Parkinson's disease (tied) 0.7
15. Homicide (tied) 0.7

Source: CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System

A graph from Wikipedia of the breakdown of different kinds of accidental deaths in the U.S.:


Affordability is the rub with all this electric drive technology... is it just early adoption pain, or is it the endgame of industrial civ that is keeping the price up?

I've been looking at a high-quality ebike retrofit kit (my knees ain't gettin' no younger and I've moved to some hilly country) and am rather disappointed to find very high price tags on every kit that is better than generic "cheap chinese short-lifetime junk".

$1500-2000 is not uncommon for a high-quality ebike retrofit. The high-tech batteries alone can run $500-$1000 for one unit, with a service lifetime of about 5 years. If your bike is worth, say, $800 and below, then the electrification costs 2 to 2.5 times as much as the bike, with recurring costs somewhat similar to buying a new bike every 5 years. Not quite "for the masses" yet. Can it ever be, with resources dwindling and costs increasing? I wonder.

Even at the $1500 - $2000 price, it's a good deal. 1/10 the price of a new car. Minimal operating cost (4 cents for my daily commute). 1000 miles/gallon in energy equivalent.

I figure that one drive to work in a gasoline car costs me $6 ($3 gas, $3 parking). The e-bike I can park in my office for free. So 250 trips (one year of work commute) pays for the $1500.

I really don't know anything about bike batteries beyond the obvious facts that they are expensive and made out of raw materials that are potentially in short supply even at very high prices.

But if the public could ever be convinced to buy things on the same basis as farmers and professional truckers and business people buy machinery-quality , serviceability, durability, economy of operation over the life cycle and so forth-we could have electric bikes that would last just about forever for less money.

The problem with good quality bicycles as such in my opinion is that the people who buy them are bike snobs, and couldn't possibly stand the embarrassment of being seen on a popular make and model, even if it happened to be a superlative bike.

This tendency allows the manufacturer and distributor to sell image and exclusivity to the exclusion of standardization and quality-and at high markups.

Those of us who are old enough will be able to remember very well the days when a young guy would be looked at as a hopeless rustic if he didn't buy his music system a piece at a time-each component to be from a different manufacturer in most cases.

Our farm tractors were built in the fifties and sixties with exactly the same level of technological sophistication as the automobiles of that time period-the Fords by a company primarily involved with cars.

They are still running just fine, and with reasonable care , they can be kept running until such a time as it finally becomes too hard to find parts for them-but parts are still available, because unlike the cars Ford built, changes were made in designs only for serious reasons.Hence the starter motor on a 56 will fit many different years.Farmers take these things into consideration before buying equipment.

People who buy cars and bikes are seduced by style and image.

But I expect the time is not far off when Honda, Suzuki, etc models will be readily available alongside their motorcycles.Unfortunately they will be marketed as much on the basis of style and status as on durability and cost of ownership for a long while even then but sooner or later they will come out with basic no frills models that will capture the market for them the way they captured the market for small pickup trucks -once somebody owned an eighties vintage Toyota or Nissan compact truck, or had a friend who owned one, they wouldn't thereafter even consider buying a Ranger or S10 for the most part.

The world is crammed up to its eyeballs with advocacy groups-but there should be one more at least.

If I had the money and organizational skills needed I would try to start one- based on exclusivity and snobbery of course, as those seem to be the hooks that really work in attracting people. But it would be a sort of reverse snobbery.The jackets and tees would trumpet a new sort of sophistication in buying among consumers-getting truly good value in terms of durability and lifetime ownership costs.

An electric bike conversion really consists of nothing more than the motor and the battery plus a very few basic control electronics.Electric motors(commercial quality) are so reliable that (unless they are consumer junk) they generally last twenty years or more in regular service without a single repair or maintainence of any sort.

I can go down to my local electric supply company or big box Lowes store and buy everything I need to wire a house -it's all standardized and all of it is marketed as as commodities-there is very little advertising involved in selling a particular brand of switch or junction box or wire or circuit breaker as every body knows everything must be up to code to sell it.

I have no problem whatsoever finding what I need to add on to or repair residential electrical systems whether the house was built in 1950 or 2011.

These are worn by many a farmer, hunter, and flight line aircraft mechanic!


functional, not chic/sexy, durable...

The solution for making EVs cheaper than normal cars has already been completed and goes public in the next few months. What is this "miracle"? It is called Better Place. Check it out. Imagine buying a car just like you buy a phone. If you get the cheap car and a 5 year plan, you get the car for free (next decade after volume production). Pure genius and don't worry about subsidies, they already secured nearly $1 billion of private investment.

Now, as to the other comments about the private car being unsustainable. I have to agree. The entire complex infrastructure will likely be the death of private transport.

However, the ride down the fossil fuel bell curve is not going to happen overnight. It will be a long, 150 year "opportunity", if you like to think positively.

There will still be rich people, companies and countries. The resource wars (maybe "conflicts" sounds nicer) will undoubtedly be coming but one thing is sure, the countries with little or no military or friendships with countries that do have the military power are not going to be getting their fossil fuels shipments. That much is certain.

So, perhaps the Better Place EV will have a (better) place where there is wealth, security and the resources needed to keep a usable infrastructure running. Just the thought of a large city running only clean and quiet EVs makes me want to see that, someday.

In a negative-sum game, often there are winners, even when so many are losing. Either we decide to throw up our hands in defeat or look for ways to be on the winner, or less loser side.

""Energy is dangerous stuff and must be handled with care. ""

I knew it !!!! My roof top Solar Panels are just waiting for the chance to jump off the roof and strangle me with their tiny wires!!! They just sit there, plotting their schemes together....I know it!

Seriously now, it's stupid people that are dangerous. The continued dumming down of everything in sight, has gone too far. Let the Darwin prize choose, and improve the population.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

A couple of notes.

1. Take a look at the back of one of those panels some time, at the dire warning that's most likely affixed near the junction box. Apparently UL and the lawyers are worried, or at least affect to be worried, about something.

2. Take a look at the mewling nearby about traffic "accidents". Apparently it's OK to dumb things down (clear everyone off the road indiscriminately instead of, say, clearing off the weak-minded drunks) when it fits the ideology.

I knew it !!!! My roof top Solar Panels are just waiting for the chance to jump off the roof and strangle me with their tiny wires!!! They just sit there, plotting their schemes together....I know it!

Seriously now, it's stupid people that are dangerous. The continued dumming down of everything in sight, has gone too far. Let the Darwin prize choose, and improve the population.

Ehehe, thanks for the good laugh! :))
But seriously, it reminds me of one bash.org quote.

The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

Well... Here in Europe we also have warning signs, especially where high voltage is involved, or on goods that are also exported to US [from China] and those signs are a must, but generally signs are not needed. Our citizens somehow intuitively know, that drying a wet cat in microwave oven is not very healthy for the poor kitty, but producers of microwave oven had to add this "NO DRYING OF PETS IN OUR OVEN" clause, because some lady from US sued them and even won the lawsuit...

So... I think the more warnings and restrictions you give, the more people start to ultimately rely on them and stop using their common sense and also pretend that if something is not forbidden, then it's allowed: "Ooooh, what will this red button doooo...?" Aaaand then winning the Darwin prize you mentioned, Martian, comes around.

The thing is, Volt is an extremely complex solution to a very complex problem. Most of the time solutions create more problems than they solve. It's known, that lithium batteries tend to explode if they are penetrated (by steel) and come in contact with water, or are overheating. Some people learned this the hard way. :((

I think we have two choices:
a) take the risk of exploding cars
b) powerdown = choose to bike or walk
or a bonus one:
c) blame it on GM or anybody else but us :P

Certain lithium battery chemistries have a tendency to explode. This Lithium metal polymer doesn't and doesn't even have a temperature control system for cooling. Check out this U-tube video


DBM battery is made by a young German Firm the boss is only 27 and they seem to have got over all the problems with Lithium not only that it is reputed too be much cheaper and more important have a 5,000 charge discharge cycle. They intend to start production next year from two factories one in Thuringia and one in Berlin. He has said that he has turned down an offer from Samsung for the technology of 600,000,000 dollars. What makes this very interesting is that they have been testing the battery in folk lift trucks for the last three years with no problems and that I think was the CEO from Daimler Benz and the top patent lawyer in German has joined the board. They are getting roughly a mile/ kilo/ battery weight which is exceptional.

""The thing is, Volt is an extremely complex solution to a very complex problem.""

Sorry, I must strongly disagree here. The Volt, is an extremely over engineered, taxpayer bailout, bridge to nowhere. The solution is quite simple, but so, so many, even on this site, think that if one throws enough technological BS at a problem, it can be solved the same way it was created.

Some of us Humans have evolved past that way of thinking.
most, never will. Power Down. Life is what one holds in their mind, not, in their Hand.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian

Sorry, I must strongly disagree here. The Volt, is an extremely over engineered, taxpayer bailout, bridge to nowhere.

Sorry, but we do agree, I just made a mistake of not putting word solution into quotation marks. O:-)
I didn't mean "solution" as "Just buy a Prius Volt and everything will be dandy again", but more like "solution" as "another expensive farce to extend and pretend, to keep kicking the can down the road a lil bit longer".

I hope with this additive info you strongly agree here. ;) And if not, then I'll take the liberty to accept your version with the... extremely over... errrm... that, what you wrote there. :)

Yair...the dumbing down extends into all disciplines and equipment. Here in Australia
it is becoming mandatory that tractor loaders MUST have a self leveling bucket...effectively rendering the attachment next to useless for any accurate finishing work.

If it is seen as necessary to protect the masses from stupidity and inattention it would have been more constructive to mandate the fitting of a Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS) and leave the simple mechanism of a standard loader untouched.


TT, are you trying to imply that car crashes won't continue to kill tens of thousands of people, if the electric car fantasy somehow comes true? The danger of car crashes lies in the car itself, not in the fuel. Colliding at high speeds while sitting in a metal box is a bad idea, not matter how you power the boxes.

I did not get the sense that TT was trying to imply what you said.


Automobile accident deaths in the U.S.are at the lowest level since 1949, according to this article:


So here is one of the benefits of Peak Oil/ Peak Cars!
I would expect auto fatalities are down because miles driven have dropped
due to the price of gas.
As driving continues to decline we can expect more lives saved from Auto
Also as people are forced to move to Green Transit involving more walking and biking
instead of driving directly door to door we can expect an improvement in obesity,
diabetes etc.
For more evidence on the relation between auto addiction and obesity and other
ill health effects you can see the studies cited in "Stop Signs- Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay"

So what are we waiting for?
Excuses that change cannot be made fly in the face of the WW II example when transit was totally turned around towards public transit when the decision was made to do so...

One thing that WILL happen when gasoline supplies start to get REALLY tight is that a low speed limit will be legislated AND enforced.

Electric cars will probably be marginally more dangerous than ice cars due to the need to reduce weight, everything else held the same, but my guess is that this minor increase in safety risks will be more than offset by lower driving speeds and better brakes and so forth.

It will be cheap and easy to install various electronic safety enhancement systems on electrics , such as collision radar, rear view cameras,etc.Electronics are the only industrial products that get cheaper every year, to the best of my knowledge.

Lower average speeds are the REAL key to automotive safety.

In a forty five mph world, everything else held equal,the per mile death/serious injury rate would ( my own wag) probably be more than halved.

rear view cameras

Oooh, so you can see what is about to hit you ;) Sorry OFM, couldn't resist, has happened to me too many times. Best one was someone in a brand new car who had my tow hitch stamped into his shiny paintwork with no damage to mine.

Despite all the crazy driving here, we don't seem to get as many accidents, at least I seem to see fewer than when I was in the UK. I think safety could be increased by decreasing safety measures. When people feel vulnerable they take more care. Here many drivers are uninsured, have no license or have bought one, drive old and worthless cars, have no money etc, you don't want a prang that will cost you and you have no recourse. Change the driver's airbag for a Claymore mine and road safety would increase no end.


Stuck my chin out for that one, didn't I?

Only a few people get run over by ice cars backing up, but electrics will need those irritating but indispensable chirping backup alarms now mandated on heavy equipment-or the camera.

The real value of such a camera is that by usung it it in conjunction with rear view mirrors, you can change lanes and so forth far more safely.

On at least one occasion I have been able to avoid being rear ended by a fast approaching car while approaching a red light by quickly steering toward the shoulder.This happened automatically by reflex-I didn't do it consciously.

I was driving a loaded pickup truck, and the only reason I noticed this car coming up was that the road was slightly curved, giving me a good look in the large mirror on my side-guys who use their trucks for serious work are apt to install these extra large mirrors which mount farther out from the cab so they can more easily back up and park when the load obscures the rear view.

The car ALMOST hit me and ran the light sideways with smoking tires and lit up brake lights-luckily no body was in the intersection.

The driver was most likely distracted by a cell phone call or lighting a cigarette or fiddling with a music system or something of that nature, but he might have been drunk.

Stuck my chin out for that one, didn't I?

The stakes here are low - better you get beat up here than where its Cheers - where everyone knows your name.

Stuck my chin out for that one, didn't I?

The stakes here are low - better you get beat up here than where its Cheers - where everyone knows your name.

Better to make your arguments here and get shot down than say in front of your MP


I share your sentiments and hopes for less driving leading to fewer auto accident fatalities and better health, but per the linked article in my original post, the decrease in auto fatalities (not just in total, but per xxxx drivers, etc is due to factors other than a hoped-for decrease in vehicle miles driven.

Traffic deaths typically decline during an economic downturn because many motorists cut back on discretionary travel. The number of deaths fell in the early 1980s and early 1990s, when the U.S. economy was struggling.

But people spent more time in their cars last year, making the estimates more noteworthy. The number of miles traveled by American drivers in 2010 grew by 20.5 billion, or 0.7 percent, compared with 2009, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The number of miles traveled increased slightly in 2009 after declines in the previous two years.

Separately, the rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled is estimated to have hit a record low of 1.09 in 2010, the lowest since 1949. The previous record was in 2009, which had a rate of 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

"It's a really good sign that fatalities are down despite the fact that (vehicle miles traveled) is up," said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Harsha said fewer people were dying because of a number of factors related to vehicle technologies, safer driving and road design

If (when) vehicle miles driven decreases in the future, it seems a reasonable hypothesis that vehicle-related deaths may also decline, all things being equal (ATBE).

Also, per OFM's related post, if typical vehicle masses and speeds also decrease, ATBE, then vehicle fatalities should decrease greatly.

However, I agree with Leannan's view he expressed previously in several posts that it is unlikely that the U.S. will go back to a 55 mph speed limit, let alone a slower national speed limit.

Given scarce police department resources, my bet is that U.S. Americans will prefer a hapless, ineffective fascination with pursuing the 'war on drugs' rather than a 'war on speeders'.

The cops employed by local counties around here have, according to some irate locals, been told to write enough speeding tickets to pay their own way or get laid off. I truly doubt if there is any OFFICIAL policy to this effect, but I wouldn't be surprised if such things have been discussed in oblique terms in informal meetings among local officials.

I have seen three to five speed traps in operation on average on a thirty mile stretch of interstate 77 near here on a more or less daily basis for the last six months.

Most of the cars getting stopped seem to have out of state plates but that might not prove out of state drivers are targeted.There are a heck of a lot of travelers on I77.

A slip of paper that costs the cops probably less than a dollar to buy and process(since they are already on payroll) nets the county between a hundred and two hundred bucks because most of the tickets are not contested-the fine is paid by mail.

Two tickets are roughly enough to cover a cops wages and bennies for a day, with maybe something left over for gasoline and amortizing his patrol car.

You have to love the whole quota system due to the belief of 'game theory' don't you?

Vehicle Miles Traveled is below its previous peak for about 47 months now, according to DOT.


That's a historic contraction in US motoring. Still a lot more VMT than 1949, however. Old cars were death traps. Powerful, heavy, without seat belts much less airbags, no safety glass, and a steering wheel that would chop you to bits in a wreck.

"much less airbags..."

I still don't think the idea of putting bombs in the steering wheel, and now every other place, is or ever was a good idea. It's a overly complicated, dangerous, stupid solution to a stupid problem. The stupid problem is that people aren't willing to put up with proper passive restraint systems...the seat should be one of the primary safety systems with high bolsters to minimize lateral movement, five point harness with 3" straps, and a helmet with a head and neck restraint system.

Yes, lowest since 1949 -- 32,855 people. Every year. Not counting the additional deaths caused by pollution and bodily deconditioning and oil wars.

How is 32,855 not a scandal? I thought American lives were precious. Not in some contexts, obviously.

Somehow I have to compare the government's response to 1/10th that number killed 10 years ago Sept 11. Perhaps we are lucky as using similar logic the USA would blame Volvo for having safer cars then invade Norway.

"Colliding at high speeds while sitting in a metal box is a bad idea"

Following the developments of collision prevention systems over the past decade or so I have admit we humans are very likely able to make most collisions a thing of the past. When all cars are talking to each other, sensing each other, plotting together... They have the ability to keep out of each other's way. The weakest link will be when the human takes control and decides to text a message to their friend.

I'll believe people are going to allow a computer to drive them around at highway speeds when I see it. I'll also believe that collision avoidance technology will be effective when I see it. One snafu and resulting mass pile-up, and the whole thing will be abandoned en masse. Need I even mention the degree of complexity the move would add to the already huge mountain of car crash litigation? People are generally willing to leave car makers out of routine crash lawsuits. When they have a computer driving the vehicle, that willingness will be extremely unlikely to survive.

Automatic controls systems require continuous and careful maintenance. Add in freezing weather and other weather-related effects, and I don't see it being reliable enough mechanically even when the electronics and software are sorted out. The latter part is coming very soon, I admit.

It will be sold to us the same way everything else is. Just tell parents that they need to buy one of these systems to protect their teenagers from themselves. When those teens become adults they won't want to be without it.

As for all the lives being lost on the highways, I'm not bothered. Life is always a risk. There is no engineering it away. If it wasn't automobiles then we would find some other way of risking ourselves for some other convenience/status/fun benefit. Frankly I think the current fleet of cars is extremely safe all things considered.

Final report of an AIr France AirBus plane crash in the Atlantic with all 400 dead decided that failure of automated systems in a storm lead the pilots to fly the plane into the sea because they did not have enough training to fly without the automated systems and conflicting instrument data in difficult conditions.

When all cars are talking to each other, sensing each other, plotting together... They have the ability to keep out of each other's way.

If you really believe that, you've either never experienced a software or a hardware glitch in a computer network or you live in some far far away galaxy...

Ever hear of the Blue Screen of Death?! It might give the phrase a whole new meaning.

I suggest more walking and biking to the tried and true technology that rides on steel tracks, it ain't perfect either but a whole lot more stable and less complex than individual free ranging network nodes encased in a few tons of steel traveling at 70 plus miles an hour...

I locked up my DVR last night just by changing channels at the wrong time.

I just got my Nissan Leaf yesterday. Wow that is a lot of fun. I've heard all the arguments a million times that EV's still need all these resources to build, and you have to maintain the road infrastructure, and therefore they aren't a legitimate solution they are made out to be. I don't really buy it because one way or another, there will still be cars on the road in the future; food must be transported and people will need to get to work, whatever that is, and sometimes they won't be taking transit. We aren't going to go voluntarily rip up millions of km's of roads.

But the point is, in the next few decades most of the transportation infrastructure will have to become electrified, there is no way around this because liquid fuels are dead, except for specialized applications that need them, and these could be supplied by biofuels if in low enough quantities.

So sure, EV's aren't currently the perfect solution but they are a great step, and for every EV that is sold that is one less ICE that is sold, so I just don't follow any of the EV bashing, I think it comes more from people who are jealous of others who can do something "better" for the environment while still having fun. You know, some people are humbugs; you aren't allowed to smile. And as to ashphalt coming in short supply when fossil fuels run out, well as far as I understand it EV's also drive on gravel roads...

Step one is to get transportation converted over to efficient and sustainable consumption of energy (ie, electricity). Step two, which can be happening at the same time, is to produce the electricity renewably. Don't forgo step one because we haven't solved step two yet.

As to potential lithium shortages ... blah blah blah, wake me up when it actually curtails EV production.

I just got my Nissan Leaf yesterday.

Out here in California, it is no longer unusual to see Leafs on the road.
When TSHTF and there is no gasoline available, you guys will own the roads.

(Unfortunately I am not in financial condition to dump my ICE & get a Prius or Leaf. But if you believe in PO, then sticking to the fossil fuel burn baby burn vehicles makes no sense. EV is the only rational way to go. If not now, when? And if not me, who?)

But the point is, in the next few decades most of the transportation infrastructure will have to become electrified, there is no way around this because liquid fuels are dead, except for specialized applications that need them, and these could be supplied by biofuels if in low enough quantities.

Uhuh! I guess you have access to the new and improved dilithium biofuel crystals... hey, you said yourself that liquid fuels are dead!

But the point is, in the next few decades most of the transportation infrastructure will have to become electrified, there is no way around this because liquid fuels are dead,

Two points:

1) Liquid fuels are not dead, they are just going to be available in smaller quantities. Peak oil means you are halfway through the resource base and production is going to start to decline, not that that you are at the end of it and production is going to crash to a halt.

2) You don't have to run vehicles on liquid fuels; they will run just fine on natural gas. I speak as someone who used to work for an oil company that used to run all its field vehicles on natural gas. It worked out well for the company because the oil wells all produced associated gas, and it had all the equipment to handle it. It was just a matter of converting the trucks. For the average individual it's tougher because they don't always have NG available and home NG compressors are expensive, but it can be done.

Oh, and:
3) They are probably going to generate the additional electricity for EVs by burning natural gas, so wouldn't it be more efficient to burn the NG directly in hybrid vehicles and avoid building the cumbersome and expensive power plants, grid connections, and lithium batteries to make the EV system work?

1) Yes, so we should be hastening the switch to EV's as quickly as possible.

2) I include natural gas in "liquid fuels", I guess to be correct I should call it "fluid fuels". The problem with natural gas is that once oil production declines rapidly then demand for natural gas will skyrocket and then supply will become more constrained, and price will increase. I agree that many of our cars should be run on natural gas because it's so much more efficient. We should be encouraging conversions. But that should be for existing cars IMHO.

3) The other thing with EV's, sure you can produce that electricity burning natural gas, but you can also use wind turbines, hydro, nuclear, coal, or solar panels. You can't use any of those with an ICE, except for coal conversion to liquids, so you are more constrained with an ICE. People keep telling me how cumbersome the electrical infrastructure is to charge my Leaf, but last night I just dug around for an extension cord and plugged it in and this morning I had a full charge, and it pulls about 1500 Watts I think.

My longsuffering and reluctantly peak oil aware wife was going through some old books a relative had left to her some time back. One of them is titled "Heart Throbs", copyright 1905, a collection of poems and short stories. She read this one to me, with a glint in her eye:


The sun’s heat will give out in ten million years more –
And he worried about it.
It will sure give out then, if it doesn’t before –
And he worried about it.
It will surely give out, so the scientists said
In all scientifical books he had read,
And the whole boundless universe then will be dead –
And he worried about it.

And some day the earth will fall into the sun –
And he worried about it –
Just as sure and as straight as if shot from a gun –
And he worried about it.
“When strong gravitation unbuckles her straps,
Just picture,” he said, “what a fearful collapse!
It will come in a few million ages, perhaps” –
And he worried about it.

And the earth will become much too small for the race –
And he worried about it –
When we’ll pay thirty dollars an inch for pure space –
And he worried about it.
The earth will be crowded so much, without doubt,
That there won’t be room for one’s tongue to stick out,
Nor room for one’s thoughts to wander about –
And he worried about it.

And the Gulf Stream will curve, and New England grow torrider –
And he worried about it –
Than was ever the climate of southernmost Florida –
And he worried about it.
Our ice crop will be knocked into small smithereens,
And crocodiles block up our mowing-machines,
And we’ll lose our fine crops of potatoes and beans –
And he worried about it.

And in less than ten thousand years, there’s no doubt –
And he worried about it –
Our supply of lumber and coal will give out –
And he worried about it.
Just then the ice-age will return cold and raw,
Frozen men will stand stiff with arms outstretched in awe,
As if vainly beseeching a general thaw –
And he worried about it.

His wife took in washing – half a dollar a day –
He didn’t worry about it—
His daughter sewed shirts, the rude grocer to pay—
He didn’t worry about it.
While his wife beat her tireless rub-a-dub-dub
On the washboard drum of her old wooden tub,
He sat by the stove, and he just let her rub—
He didn’t worry about it.

- Sam Walter Foss

We laughed of course. It was interesting to see the perspective of a (likely) typical doomer 100 years ago. Two things did jump out at me. First, petroleum wasn't even a big enough part of life at that time to make it onto the resources worry list. Second, the fuel-use demand on the two resources that were, coal and lumber, was about to be greatly alleviated by the widespread exploitation of oil (and natural gas). Now that we're at the twilight of the petroleum age... hmmmm....

Wow. I suppose this is the flipside of those who rail against the "sheeple" too busy with their lives to worry about peak oil.

And maybe there's something to it. Four years ago next Tuesday, frequent commenter oilman bob passed away. He died of complications of diabetes. Passed out at the wheel on his way to the ASPO conference in Houston, as I understand it. I can't help thinking that if he'd worried more about his diabetes and less about peak oil, he might be alive today. He was only 56.

" I can't help thinking that if he'd worried more about his diabetes and less about peak oil, he might be alive today."

Some major assumptions there... is it possible Bob's worries about peak oil helped him commit to taking better care of himself, and that might be why he lived as long as he did?

A brilliant friend of ours was so fiercely independent that he was determined to manage his life-long diabetes himself. His friends would sometimes refuse to see him until he'd checked in at a hospital to get back into balance. At the end, the balance was so delicate that he was alternating between hospital stays and passing out at home. The last time, he didn't make it. We wished he'd been more accepting of help, but he had long experience of managing his illness. He wasn't going to be a patient. We miss him. (His parents dumped most of his papers -- they didn't understand them.)


That is a sad story - and not at all what I was thinking.

I was thinking of more along the lines of "Zombieland Rule #1: Cardiovascular" - people getting into better shape physically, less alcohol, nicotine, other drugs or bad habits, etc, etc

(mudduck = my uncles' nickname)

Snarlin', I would e-mail you, but no info on your DrumBeat account. One of the popular boys in high school called me Mudduck; I was a nerd before the type was recognized. Since he died in his prime and can take no satisfaction, I thought the name a useful Internet moniker. My real name,"Murdoch," was unusual enough in itself -- the only Murdoch I heard of before the rise of Rupert was Bart Murdock, a villain on the Lone Ranger radio program.

Mudduck, I was about to email you but no info on your Drumbeat account ;)

Now that I think about it, for my family "Mudduck" was a label you earned as a rite of passage so-to-speak. When a young person was called "mudduck" for the first time, you could see them beam with pride (usually early teens when they joined in hunting and fishing).

Passed out at the wheel on his way to the ASPO conference in Houston, as I understand it.

oilman bob was a good fellow, he's missed. I hadn't heard just how he died. It wasn't a car crash on the way to talk about peak oil, was it? That'd be poignant.

As I understand it, he was going to that ASPO conference in Houston. But he wasn't hurt in the crash, which was very low-speed. He ended up hospitalized to stabilize his diabetes. He died unexpectedly several weeks later of pneumonia. Hospitals are dangerous places for sick people.

I stayed with him at his home in Galveston for several days before ASPO. He picked me up at the Amtrak station in Houston.

I was disappointed that he was unable to attend ASPO. Later, I talked with him when he was about to go into the hospital to have a little toe amputated.

Then I heard that he passed.

A fine gentleman trying to do the right thing.



Unless the only way to obtain necessary treatment is to be IN a hospital, the number one imperative is to stay OUT
of them.

Nursing homes are not AS bad because they have less client turnover and relatively few people in them who are apt to harbor highly contagious illnesses at any one time. The really sick clients either die or get moved to hospitals fairly quickly.

I have recently dropped all my other affairs, excepting essential chores, to look after my Dad for however long it takes for him to recover from a critical illness, which might mean in practical terms for the rest of his life.This includes withdrawing from nursing school in the middle of a paid up semester.

I am not fully qualified to care for him,but his physician assures me there is absolutely no doubt that he is FAR better off at home than in a long term care facility despite this handicap, for both physical (infections, etc) and psychological reasons.Fortunately I am able to get good specific advice readily from my out of state sister who is an advanced practice RN, and his doctor actually comes to the phone if we need to talk to him.

There are bright sides to this situation.For one, I am not really that busy, just tied to the house.This means I can surf the net and post here to my hearts content, unless I get a personal email from Leanan warning me about using up too much bandwidth. ;-)

I have always been interested in trying my hand at REAL writing-the sort that requires a day for a page or two.If things go smoothly , I have a good opportunity to find out if out my typing finger is a potential professional literary athlete.;-)

I am leaving in ten days to spend 3+ months taking care of my father in Phoenix.

Turned down a job - but have "interesting" remote things going on :-)

Best Hopes for Family,


Being homebound and caring for elderly parent(s) while coordinating ambitious larger projects in the real world is quite a challenge, but in this internet-connected time it's do-able. It can honor the sacred personal/familial benefits and obligations of being human, while breaking out of the mental boxes which normally restrict us from trying to influence the larger world. It ain't easy, but my hat's off to those who try.

Wow. I suppose this is the flipside of those who rail against the "sheeple" too busy with their lives to worry about peak oil.

The set of people who use the word sheeple has a large sub-set who look at the history of large institutions, see the lies told by them, and beleive that peak oil is yet another lie.

I can't help thinking that if he'd worried more about his diabetes and less about peak oil, he might be alive today. He was only 56.

I had two good friends in their late 50's die of heart attacks in the last two years, the last thing on their minds was peak oil, though neither of them had health insurance any more, which in all likelihood was a direct consequence of their being downsized from their jobs back in 2008, which again was probably due in some form to peak oil...

Don't worry, be happy!

"The wire that holds the cork
That keeps the anger in
Gives way
And suddenly it's day again.
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done.
Two suns in the sunset
Could be the human race is run."

"Two suns in the Sunset", Pink Floyd The Final Cut


"How Investors are crushing Peak Oil"

Its really sickening to see titles like this. A completely inaccurate title for an article which spins and manipulates the reader/investor. Are folks really this stupid? It may be magical to stem the decline of Texas or maybe some of the production in the Bakken states for a while, but implying some sort of BAU bonanza really is getting more sickening by the day. I find it very difficult to even begin a discussion on any of this with folks who think these plays are literally going to save us here in the states. I lose more hope each day,month, and year that real action towards a more sustainable lifestyle is possible.


I'd say you have plenty of reason to be glum, being an airline pilot and all.

It is not unreasonable for the MSM to notice that once peak oil showed up,


it didn't have the calamitous effect that some had hoped. So they want to portray it as investors crushing peak oil? Fine. Certainly if someone had claimed that simple economics are all that was required to stop the hoped for effects back in 2008, they would have been laughed at. So now the MSM and basic economic theory is laughing back. Turnabout is fair play.

Yes, For all this big talk about Texas (onshore) production, they should look at this graph before getting carried away;

Now, if we look at the federal offshore GOM production, a different story, BUT, the GOM is NOT Texas;


And, for some reason this never seems to get mentioned by these folks, Texas is still a net oil importer
In 2009, their consumption was 3.13 million bbl/day - more than on and offshore combined.


Alaska, at least, is one of the few states that actually produces more than it consumes.

Texas is a great model for how to have a successful energy industry, but given that it consumes 3x what it produces itself (excluding GOM), it is hardly an example of how to get to oil independence.

The EIA appears to have generally had a higher number for Texas crude oil (I believe C+C in both cases) than does the Texas RRC, but in 1981 for example it was a pretty small discrepancy, especially in percentage terms (2.6 mbpd for EIA versus 2.5 mbpd for the RRC), but for 2010, the EIA is showing Texas production at about 180,000 bpd higher than the RRC, which is a pretty good difference in percentage terms.

Curiously enough, the EIA's 2010 total petroleum liquids production number for Saudi Arabia is about 500,000 bpd higher than what BP shows (the two data sets were basically identical for 2005). And of course, Ron noted the large gap between the JODI and EIA numbers for Saudi Arabia in 2010.

In any case, the EIA is showing--just for Texas & Saudi Arabia combined--production for 2010 of about 0.7 mbpd more than what other data sources show.

RRC data base: http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/data/production/oilwellcounts.php

Are they actually measuring the same thing? For example, refineries in Texas process a lot of the oil that ends up in other states; how are the refinery gains counted? Whether or not those are counted could have a modest impact on how much oil is "produced" in Texas.

EIA is definitely C+C, and my understanding is that the RRC is also C+C, but I'm going to email the RRC and double check. Refinery gain is not an issue.

The Gulf of Mexico production curve encourages less optimism if you look at it hard. The Thunder Horse field belatedly went on production in mid-2008 and after a few problems reached full production of 250,000 bpd in 2009. What I see in the graph is a peak in 2003, a steep decline to 2008, and then a sharp uptick in 2009-2010 as Thunder Horse reached peak flow.

The problem is that from 2010 forward we may see a resumption of the 2003-2008 decline. Thunder Horse production has already declined substantially from its maximum rate, and there has been very little new drilling since the BP blowout in 2010.

If Thunder Horse had gone on production in 2005 as scheduled (the platform had some severe construction problems that had to be repaired - it nearly sank), we might have seem something closer to a classic Hubbert curve.

Do anybody now what happened in 2008 - 2009 in Offshore-Gulf of Mexico? It is a jump of roughly 600 000 bpd. New fields coming online? Changed tax rules, they start report oil produced in other places as coming from Offshore-Gulf of Meico?

Wow: If you look at the Eagle Ford shale charts in the ref, you see 8 million barrels produced in 8 months; that's less than a half-day's oil supply for the US.

If we assume that an average 1000 new wells are on line for 8 months that's 33 barrels per day per well.

That would require another 30,000 wells to ramp up to 1 million brls per day; some 5,000 new permits per year for six years. Where are the rigs and the crews?

Pie in the sky.

re: Good news: The Lawrence Peak Oil Plan is Finished!

Bad news: most of it is irrelevant to Peak Oil. It wanders off into food supply security (which one would not think would be a problem in Kansas under any circumstances), water supply (the Kansas River runs through the city), waste disposal (no shortage of space for landfills in Kansas), etc. etc. It's not New York or Los Angeles, so the problems are a lot simpler.

Peak oil is primarily going to involve high and rising liquid fuel prices. For your typical city, the response should be to de-emphasize private passenger car transportation and emphasize walking, bicycles, and public transit - particularly public transit that does not require liquid fuels.

In general this requires changing the urban environment so that non-automobile transportation alternatives are viable. This involves densifying the city, centralizing public services and shopping, narrowing the streets, widening the sidewalks, building bike routes, and adding bus routes. For an example of what this looks like, see any of a number of similar-sized European cities.

If the city was bigger, adding a tram system would be worthwhile, but as it is, electric trolley buses would work fine. They just need more buses and more bus routes, and of course to make the city more convenient for pedestrians.

It wanders off into food supply security (which one would not think would be a problem in Kansas under any circumstances), water supply (the Kansas River runs through the city)...

The real threat to the water supply and local food production is probably not Peak Oil, but climate change. The Kansas River drainage is mostly in the Great Plains, far enough south that the consensus of the climate models is that things will be hotter and drier year round. Bear in mind that prior to human engineering of the flows, these rivers were often reduced, in dry years, to a chain of water holes. Upstream tributaries of the Kansas (eg, the Republican River) are grossly overallocated in terms of usage rights. Lawsuits involving Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas over Republican River diversions occur regularly.

Depending on the details of water law in Kansas, and the hierarchy of seniority in water rights, it is not hard to envision a future where, for the most part, the Kansas River no longer reaches Manhattan.

Upstream tributaries of the Kansas (eg, the Republican River) are grossly overallocated in terms of usage rights.

Am I the only one that sees a certain justice or perhaps irony in that statement ?


The river was named after the Republican band of the Pawnees. Why that particular designation was originally chosen seems to have been lost in history, but it was used in treaties that predate the founding of the GOP by at least 20 years.

Almost all US rivers from the Great Plains west are over-allocated; persons at the bottom of the rights hierarchy get to divert water only during unusually wet years. If you want a serious headache, try to make sense out of western water law (until recently, using a water barrel or other storage device to capture rain water that fell on my suburban property was illegal). OTOH, the big things were largely sorted out 80-90 years ago. I find it amusing that the East is now starting to see water fights, eg, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama fighting over the Chattahoochee.

Interesting @ the Pawnee.

None-the-less, I do not expect any water rights struggles over the limited flow in my local river.

Best Hopes for Major Rivers,


Hmmm --- while you might not have struggles about shortages you do have struggles about controlling overages, no?

No worries about the Mississippi River flooding New Orleans.

The old, good engineers of the US Army Corps of Engineers (1930s) built two pressure relief valves upriver - the Old River Structure (into the Atchafalaya Basin) and Bonne Carre Spillway (into Lake Pontchartrain). After some earlier floods, weaknesses were discovered in the Old River structure and are now corrected.

And the riverside levees appear to not have the deficiencies of the lake side and Industrial Canal levees.

Best Hopes for Old Man River,


What happens legally when the up river levees get burst intentionally to protect New Orleans from floods? I rather expect that will become an increasing dispute;-)

That was done downriver in the 1928 floods (downriver breaking of levees are at least as effective as upriver in reducing flood crest). And it created decades of resentment.

The two controlled "pressure relief valves" are into assigned areas. No one lives in and there is nothing but recreation and sand mining/excavation in the Bonne Carre floodplain. The sand is renewed when the Bonne Carre is opened - on average every ten years.

Some agriculture in extreme Old River floodplain. Residents get a letter every year reminding them that their land has a flood easement (bought in 1930s). Some farms have not flooded since the structure was built in the 1930s and some flooded for the first time last year.


Kansas City - Lawrence - Topeka Commuter Train

Seven days/week to appeal to students and football/basketball fans (Have football specials). Use existing Amtrak stations with perhaps an extra station in the western suburbs of KC Kansas with a large Park & Ride. Good bus connections will be needed at the stations before and after each train.

A shuttle between the airport and the Kansas City Missouri Union Station would increase both ridership and utility.

IMHO, well worth doing. Both university towns and state capitals generate more traffic than the raw population numbers would suggest.

I am unsure of the local geography and whether eastward (into Missouri, say Independence MO ?) or westward expansion of service would be worth doing.

Best Hopes,


Significant sections of BNSF track on that line allow 90 mph top speed for passenger trains. I do not know if that is true from Topeka to Kansas City.

Michael Lewis advises the Upper 1% on dealing with the current situation:

But in the end we believe that any action we take to prevent them from growing better organized, and more aware of our financial status, will only delay the inevitable: the day when they turn, with far greater effect, on us.

Hence our committee’s conclusion: We must be able to quit American society altogether, and they must know it. For too long we have simply accepted the idea that we and they are all in something together, subject to the same laws and rituals and cares and concerns. This state of social relations between rich and poor isn’t merely unnatural and unsustainable, but, in its way, shameful. (Who among us could hold his head high in the presence of Louis XIV or those Russian czars or, for that matter, Croesus?)



It is kind of funny isn't it. At least they have a sense of humor.

re: U.S. Experiencing the Beginning of a Long-term Energy Boom

This is another recent example of irrational exuberance in the US media based on a minor uptick in oil supply and a recent surplus of natural gas.

There is a lot of misinformation in this article similar to that which has been broadcast indiscriminately by the mainstream media. Let be add a few caveats to it:

the amount of oil that is technically recoverable in the U.S. is more than 1.4 trillion barrels, with the largest deposits located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale deposits throughout the country.

Now, the key thing there is that Alaska estimates are based on almost no drilling data, and that recent drilling results in Alaska have not been stellar. The bit about "shale deposits" conflates the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shales, which are relatively conventional but relatively small oil deposits with the vast "oil shales" of the Western US. The latter are not shales, do not contain oil, and there are no pilot plants in operation or planned, never mind there being any kind of commercial production in the foreseeable future.

The report estimates that when combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, total recoverable oil in North America exceeds nearly 1.7 trillion barrels.

The two things about that statement is that 1) Mexican production has been declining lately, and with large increases in Mexican consumption, Mexico may become an oil importer in a few years, and 2) The Canadian oil sands do contain 1.7 trillion barrels of oil-in-place, but it's not US oil, it's Canadian oil which will be sold to the highest bidder. The Chinese have bought up a lot of the oil sands reserves in recent years.

This article falls into the "Give us more money and we'll find you more oil" theme popular with US oil promoters. Odds are they wouldn't find enough oil to make much difference no matter how much money you gave them.

IMHO, Canada would be much better off exporting zero oil and natural gas saving it for future Canadian use.

Who owns the oil, etc? Is it private or provincial or federal? How much would it cost the federal government to buy all private holder out?

Why is there no country in the world that cares about the future?

The provincial governments own most of the oil and gas in their jurisdictions. The portion they don't own, they level freehold mineral taxes on. The federal government owns all the oil outside of provincial jurisdiction, and collects nearly as much money from corporate income tax and goods and services tax (GST) in the provinces as the provincial governments do from royalties and freehold mineral taxes.

And all of this is paying for your free medical care (if you're Canadian). Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. We'll sell all the expensive oil to the US and use the cheap hydroelectric energy ourselves.

Of course if you are in Ontario and your provincial government has used up almost all of its oil, and has run out of hydroelectric potential, and wants the federal government to bail them out of their mess - well, I guess life sucks because the federal government isn't interested in doing that.


Regarding "U.S. Experiencing the Beginning of a Long-term Energy Boom"

I could not agree more. It is a totally fatuous article by an industry shill. However it is interesting that in the comments that followed the article the 5 or so comments all attacked the article for its inaccuracies. It is the first time I have seen so many (100%) of the commentators recognize that we have an oil supply issue facing us. Maybe the recognition is starting to grow.


There have been so many of these articles recently that I’m beginning to think that they are being written by a “think tank” financed by the Koch brothers, and then submitted as prepackaged articles to news organizations that are too cheap to pay their own employees to write real news articles.


Regarding your concern about the recent articles that appeared to be written by a think tank - in fact one of these "breakthrough reports" issued on December 6th was a report by the Institute for Energy Research claiming that we have vast available oil here in the US that is only being held up by government regulations.

The Institute for Energy Research is just such a think tank and yes it is funded by Kock Industries, with one of the board of directors being a Koch guy. This Institute clearly states in its mission that its purpose is to attack government regulations in energy. If you look at the bios of the Board and is small staff of investigators there are no geologists or petroleum engineers - only economists espousing free markets.

Their breakthrough report conflates reserves and resources and basically states that both represent economically recoverable oil. They even include the oil shales of the Green River basin as oil.

I have already seen two journalists (??) that have picked up on that report to write glowing reports about energy independence.

EDIT - sorry this should have been addressed to Breadman - apologies.

Thanks for that update. It's nice to know that my paranoia is based at least partly on reality.

A Black Swan that would make Peak Oil irrelavent ...

World vigilant after Dutch lab mutates killer virus

World health ministers said Friday they were being vigilant after a Dutch laboratory developed a mutant version of the deadly bird flu virus that is for the first time contagious among humans.

A research team led by Ron Fouchier at Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Centre said in September it had created a mutant version of the H5N1 bird flu virus that could for the first time be spread among mammals.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu is fatal in 60 percent of human cases but only 350 people have so far died from the disease largely because it cannot, yet, be transmitted between humans

I think the Dutch scientists should leave developing the deadly viruses to the Russian and American biological weapons labs. Of course they can develop a deadly virus if they really want to, but they should focus on stopping disease rather than creating it.

Otherwise we may see an article: Dutch Scientist Develops Zombie Virus, Accidentally Infects Self - Last seen lurching down street biting pedestrians

I suppose they are arguing that DNA research should be banned, but I don't think that would have any effect on the Russian and American biological weapons labs which do it on a regular basis. We can only hope they don't drop a test tube.

The more routine DNA research is no more dangerous than mucking around with toxic chemicals, which of course chemists do on a daily basis (speaking as someone who used to muck around with them himself).

Research biological labs do not instill confidence with regards to corraling the little buggers. To wit ...

2007 United Kingdom foot-and-mouth outbreak

On the 4 August the virus was identified as the FMDV BFS 1860 O1 1967 (Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus, British Field Strain 1860, serotype O, subtype 1, isolated in 1967; also referred to as strain BFS 1860/UK/67[11] ), a virus isolated in the 1967 outbreak and until the 2007 outbreak, not in circulation in animals. It was the same strain as used at the nearby Pirbright laboratory site, which houses separate units of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and Merial Animal Health Ltd (Merial) at Pirbright, 2½ miles (4 km) away

On 7 August the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued a report - "Initial report on potential breaches to biosecurity at the Pirbright site, 2007"[21] which contained the following comments –

"Subject to the ongoing work detailed above, the indications are that there is a strong probability that the FMDV strain involved in the farm outbreak originated from the IAH or the Merial sites."

We will not have the luxury of putting down a few critters to save the 'herd' if this flu gets out this time. See movie: Contagion

P.S. - Didn't know you were a chemist also. When I'm not on TOD I've passed the time as R&D Analytical Chemist, and Clinical, Forensic, & Environmental Toxicologist. I've been managing labs lately. It's a total crap-shoot what this field will be like in 10 years. The current crop of graduates do not breed confidence.

The virus was washed down a sink. The sink lead to a pipe to a septio tank. The pipe was cracked.

The site knew the pipe was cracked.

The greatest danger is that they have shown that it is possible to mutate the virus. Don't have much knowledge of the process but I am assuming that it is a lot easier for a terrorist to do than build a nuclear bomb from scratch. I am also guessing the equipment for doing so is more readily available and has a great deal more innocuous civilian applications. Knowing makes it a lot simpler to reverse engineer.

Viruses mutate all the time and in far more exotic waya than scientists can duplicate. There will be another deadly global flu pandemic. It will not be the result of human meddling.

This H5N1 variant was mutated by repeatedly passing it through ferrets sequentially allowing it to adapt itself to mammals naturally. They didn't tinker with it directly. In time H5N1 will likely do it on its own. Also pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) isn't too far away from known sequences with more lethal genes (similar to Spanish flu) and occasionally is found with frequently fatal deep lung infection changes.

The various flu viruses regularly go through a round of animals including poultry, pigs, and humans, and every so often a nasty variant emerges from this natural biological weapons lab. This normally occurs in Asia, where poultry, pigs and humans live in much closer proximity than in North America and regularly infect each other with the flu.

Sure you can simulate this in the lab with ferrets, but its not much of an enhancement over what mother nature already does.

Many scientists believe that prior to the time humans invented agriculture they had far fewer contagious diseases than now. Most of our most dangerous diseases seem to have had animal origins, and when humans started living in close proximity to animals, the number of dangerous contagious diseases skyrocketed.

"Some scientists" is putting the case mildly.I was not aware that anyone trained in biological or agricultural sciences disputes the bloodline of our stable of contagious diseases.It was accepted doctrine at my school as far back as the sixties when I was an undergrad if I remember when I first heard it.

How does a virus pass through a ferret sequentially?

imagine ferret a,b,c, and d. they infect a. they then expose a to b and b becomes infected. they isolate a from b and then use b to infect c. then so on and so forth. this simulates the living conditions of say chickens in factory farms. where a is in contact with b but not c directly. only indirectly via b. because of this the virus is a different one when it infects d as compared to the one that infected a. if the chain was longer say a through z then they could continue by using z which has a much different virus to the one which infected a to reinfect a and have the virus learn though evolution how to deal with the new immune response.

the scary thing is, this is just a scientist's recreation of whats going on now 'daily' in factory farms.

From a personal "off the record" conservation with a pretty sharp PHD who teaches biochem at the local community college:risk of epidemic outbreak of newly mutated viral disease capable of gravely disrupting commercial agriculture or public health perhaps ten to fifteen percent per decade.

He is primarily concerned with this happening because of all the commercial traffic in exotic species, extensive travel to and from tropical areas related to tourism, viral pests being inadvertently transported along with food and fiber, etc.

Ir respect to a deliberate release of a viral disease of crops, domestic animals, or humans,he says in effect that if somebody wants to do that, they can , if they have a few million bucks and good security so as not to get raided before finishing the job.

It necessarily follows that any two bit tinpot dictator could probably succeed in creating and releasing an epidemic strain.

I have often wondered if people with a powerful hatred of other people are deliberately spreading existing agricultural pests and diseases.

It would be cheap and easy to do of course.

If I hated infidels with a passion and lived in a country where let us say wheat cannot be grown due to lack of water-let us say Saudi Arabia - I might conceal some spores or eggs on my person or in my baggage and personally go to see the Great Satan's works.

The possibility that some of my own people might starve due to little or none of Satan's wheat greatly reduced crop being available for import would not stop me.

The sort of people who pull 911 type operations WANT to start wars.

This can only happen if the information network and ability of humans to communicate breaks down. Which certainly is possible as peak oil disrupts transportation, but I doubt it's anywhere on the horizon.

Knowledge, infection control, and the rapid deployment of containment practices are much better than in the past. Even if it's something as simple as people walking around with masks all the time, as happens during these virus scares in Asia.

It's one of the reasons why the developed world was pretty successful at containing HIV. Now, once political and financial turmoil really begin to heat up, anything's possible. You can argue, though, that we will have very authoritarian government structures arise, which if anything would be able to contain outbreaks even better.

Regardless, I think we're at least 20 to 30 years away from even having to worry about that.

This left me thinking after I read it earlier. There are many rather unstable nations with technological ability and a deep hatred and strong food prejudices. For example in some places the pig is held to be a dirty animal. What would happen if they decided it is [deity]'s will to exterminate this animal? What if that leapfrogged to another species? What is worrying is that this is something that could be done.


Reminds me of the line from the movie Contagion

Govt guy : Is there a way, someone could weaponize the Bird flu, is that what we are looking at ?
Scientist : Someone doesn't have to weaponize the Bird flu. The birds are doing that.

There will be another deadly global flu pandemic. It will not be the result of human meddling.

Really? How will you prove this claim?

I think he's just saying that them's the odds. Like, "The sun will come up tomorrow. It will not be the result of human meddling."

I think depends alot upon two things. How likely is nature to find the same solution? And if thats the case, can getting the nasty in the lab give us enough lead time to develop the means to deal with it when it does? If the answers are yes, and the lab is sufficiently secure, then creating the baddie, so we can figure out how to defeat it would be a wise precaution.

When super conductors were first invented, their creation craved a well equiped lab, and highly trained specialists. Then they workedon it and simplyfied the process so that school kids nowdo it every day in schools around the world.

What if the same goes with DNA modifications? When changing DNA get that simple, it is a matter of time before someone makes an actuall zombie virus "just for fun" and then a vial get lost. Maybe this is inevitable?

What if?

DNA "printers" are $25,000 these days.

Access to such a printer would be part of undergrad and post-grad work in college.

How does one prevent the 'bad' college student from access to the research tools?

a Dutch laboratory developed a mutant version of the deadly bird flu virus that is for the first time contagious among humans.

and this project was considered clever and worth funding by whom? and why?

[reattaches jaw, au Marley's Ghost]

They did this to learn how the virus might mutate naturally

The mechanism they used - serial infections of varmints - is as old as Louis Pasteur.

Judging from the response this study is getting, it looks like this study was worth 100X the funding - it seems to acted as a very good wake-up call.

Heisenberg, Pd is rare and expensive and has never been demonstrated to produce large amounts of energy. So I do not expect much from it. It may serve NASA well for probes that need 100-200 watts and cost is no object. Likewise navy buoys to listen for subs again where cost is no object.

Nickel is relatively cheap. World production is a little over a billion billion Kg per year. People have claimed 5KW for one year with 2Kg of nickel. So to get to the US rate of about 3TW we would need 0.6 billion Kg of nickel a year. About half the world production just of the US.

Yes I think the H+Ni is scalable in the sense one can make a large generator 1MW even 1GW. But it is not clear that there is enough nickel. Now the abundance is 80ppm in the crust. I do not know enough about mining to calculate the energy needed to get a Kg of nickel from rock at 80ppm.

On the other hand it is not clear that the 2Kg are completely depleted at the end it may just be convenient to throw it away and use fresh. And of course, we still need solid proof that it works at all.

The price is such that it would make sense to use all the nickel to make energy. Or at least drive the price of nickel up to $200 per Kg from $18 per Kg.

Thanks for asking about scalability. I had not thought about it.


Thank you for your reply.

It is interesting research.

I think that our future energy provision will come from a variety of sources, as it does now...I think it unlikely there will be a single silver bullet technology.

I also think that total energy use will decline as time goes on.

Yesterday, someone mentioned how those born in the late 70's do not have the historical mindset to understand the Energy Crisis of the 70's. Search no further ...

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974

This volume documents U.S. responses to the dramatic changes that took place in the global oil production system from 1969 until 1974.

During this period long-established relationships among oil producing nations, oil consuming nations, and international oil companies underwent a tumultuous realignment. As traditional contractual arrangements between producing nations and international oil corporations broke down, political and economic influence shifted from consuming nations to producing states.

The diplomatic effects of this shift in the global monetary balance of power were wide-ranging and include the oil embargo imposed by Arab oil-exporting countries during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

This volume documents U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the embargo, relations with oil producing states such as Saudi Arabia, U.S. relations with allies in the Atlantic Alliance and elsewhere, the administration’s attempt to reformulate the U.S. oil import program in 1969, negotiations between international oil companies and oil producing states, efforts to create bureaucratic structures to deal with energy issues, and attempts to prepare U.S. consumers to adjust to the long-term consequences of a tighter oil market and higher priced oil.

http://static.history.state.gov/frus/frus1969-76v36/pdf/frus1969-76v36.pdf (5.6mb pdf)

I was born in the late 70ies.

Book Review: DEBT: The First 5,000 Years

... The [anthropological] discipline has always taken pride in undermining the assumptions of classical economics. In 1925 the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss published his classic essay “The Gift,” which argued that contrary to the textbook account of primitive man merrily trading beaver pelts for wampum, no society was ever based on barter.

The dominant practice for thousands of years was instead voluntary gift-giving, which created a binding sense of obligation between potentially hostile groups. To give a gift was not an act based on calculation, but on the refusal to calculate.

In the societies Mauss studied most closely — the Maori of New Zealand, the Haida of the Pacific Northwest — people rejected the principles of economic self-interest in favor of arrangements where everyone was perpetually indebted to someone else.

Picking up where Mauss left off, Graeber argues that once-prevalent relationships based on an incalculable sense of duty deteriorated as buying and selling became the basis of society and as money, previously a marker of favors owed, became valuable in its own right.

Always wondered what a anarchist would think when confronted with the few remaining tribes of hunter gatherer's. i wonder how he solves the problem of such a economy being too big to handle for the people. they had no writing back then and tribes could number up to 100. that's a lot of information to keep track of.

"that's a lot of information to keep track of."

And some tribes had people who kept multi-generational information in their heads (alex haley's "roots"). Just incredible.

Ear to mouth traditions are more common than you think. Plenty of corporate FUBAR events and post doc papers have been writtenabout such oral traditions and their effects.

Trying to remember who it was -- Hornborg? -- who described the function of gifting and indebtedness/gratitude in a S American highlands culture. In a potlatch-like tradition, "men of substance" were required to give lavish wedding parties for their daughters (I may have this a bit garbled, but stay with me a mo). These parties were at times sufficiently extravagant as to pauperise the host. To afford such a magnificent party, the host often borrowed from friends. These friends were then wined and dined lavishly at said party, as well as being repaid slowly over years. Given that everyone's families were growing up and intermarrying in complicated intersecting schedules, the debts and repayments between all the male elders formed a baffling, inextricable web of obligation, gratitude, debt and interdependence. One elder said frankly to the visiting anthropologist that this preserved peace in the community, because everyone was depending on everyone else for loans and repayments (future, present, and past) and so no one could afford to deeply offend or injure anyone else!

Without getting all dewy-eyed about the past, I think there's something to that. Rural communities often hang together because people *need* each other. A web of obligation and gratitude exists just as surely as the web of grudge, gossip, and resentment that are more often highlighted in stereotypes (and dramatic literature) about small communities.

Rootless, Re. Gifting, etd. An excerpt from an email discussion with a Native American co-worker/friend:

I was on the phone with my grandmother last night and we were talking about my concerns with our society.

I remember when I was growing up that she was constantly reminding me that wealth was displayed by how much you gave away not by how much you have. Last night she told me that now our tribal leaders typically have and parade the most nicest of things, like big trucks, cattle, nice homes, etc.

She said that in the time of her mother, the tribal leaders were the ones who gave the most away.

We still have 'give-aways' at our ceremonies and at our pow-wows. We don't like to be out done with generosity. I gave a distant cousin one of my colts and the next year he gave me two calves and a crap load of blankets. I still feel obligated to get him something...maybe I'll build him a wind turbine when the time comes.

Also, I remember when I was a kid, we lived in a pretty tight community on our reservation in Montana. It was common for me to walk into any of the homes in our area, dig in the refrigerator and get something to eat. Now, when I am visiting at my grandma's home and my friends come to me and immediately go to her fridge, the younger kids in the room kind of get uneasy.

My grandma says that's because our culture is being eroded.

I remember reading something about the role of gossip in early, smaller societies (posted by someone here not long ago??). Gossip apparently helped reduce angry confrontations, and reinforced the groups 'unwritten' codes of conduct. Nowadays it is our entertainment - what Jerry Springer-sideshow celebrity did what to whom...

In the UK there's a 3 part tv series called the "Black Mirror" which I believe is also being shown in the US. Last night's programme was called "15 Million Merits" and pulled together many themes that are familiar. Set in a high-tech future where merits are units of energy earned by the population generating electricity on training bikes (can you imagine a bleaker future). Obviously entertainment features large in this techno-dystopia (bread & circuses) and how human nature is co-opted and corrupted to serve the systems needs and relieve the drudgery of the workers.

Interestingly, in this dreadful techno future, advertising is opt-out and you must pay a penalty to do so, otherwise you're forced to watch. Apple are probably already working on it for their iZombies.

That sounds like a fantastic show.

" advertising is opt-out and you must pay a penalty to do so, otherwise you're forced to watch. Apple are probably already working on it for their iZombies."

That is not funny. Not at all... too close to the truth.

The Latin origin of the English word "damn" probably originally meant "to host a lavish feast" with the semantic development coming from just this kind of over-expenditure.

Jeffrey Sachs: "That's not a free market, that's a game"

... "The banks have said, leave us deregulated, we know how to run things, don't put government in to meddle. Then with that freedom of maneuver they took huge gambles, and even made illegal actions, and then broke the world system. As soon as that happened then they rushed out to say 'bail us out, bail us out, if you don't bail us out, we're too big to fail, you have to save us'. As soon as that happened, they said 'oh, don't regulate us, we know what to do'. And they almost went back to their old story, and the public is standing there, amazed, because we just bailed you out how can you be paying yourself billions of dollars of bonuses again? And the bankers say, 'well we deserve it, what's your problem'? And the problem that the Occupy Wall Street and other protesters have is: you don't deserve it, you nearly broke the system, you gamed the economy, you're paying mega fines, yet you're still in the White House you're going to the state dinners, you're paying yourself huge bonuses, what kind of system is this?

When I talk about this in the United States, I'm often attacked, 'oh, you don't believe in the free market economy', I say, how much free market can there be? You say deregulate, the moment the banks get in trouble, you say bail them out, the moment you bail them out, you say go back to deregulation. That's not a free market, that's a game, and we have to get out of the game. We have to get back to grown-up behaviour."

Yup. The Democratic and Republican tools talking about "our free-market system" are blowing smoke up our asses. We have no such thing and never have. In fact, we have the worst possible system short of outright communism: government-backed and -funded private cartels free to profit without limit and to make mistake without consequences. Two systems seem to be the fairest:

1. A real honest-to-God free market. You are lightly regulated and free to choose business models as you please. But when you screw up, you go out of business. And if you committed any fraud along the way, we take all your family's money and give it to the people who were screwed over, you get three hots and a cot in jail for the rest of your life, and your kids get Section 8 housing and public schools.

2. A real honest-to-God regulatory system. You are regulated as though you are a public utility. Your business models are heavily constrained, and risky assets are banned. When you screw up, the public backstops your business and bails you out, but in return, you pay high taxes and enjoy little more than the "cost plus" profit model of a government contractor.

I personally prefer #1, but either of these would be considerably better and fairer than we have now. Of course, the discipline to do either requires a government that isn't run by and for the rich. Unfortunately, the Athenians told us 2500 years ago that elections produce a government of the rich, and no one paid any attention. Bummer.

I think a a regulatory system is doomed to fail. The Progressive movement in 1910 saw how all their regulatory systems were soon hijacked. I think the only system that works is outright prohibition and significant deregulation. e.g. in the financial sector banks should be prohibited from all sorts of trading activities and everything they do should be on balance sheet. However, the Bank holding company should be allowed to have subsidiaries that can do pretty much what the want providing that they are not allowed to have any transactions with the bank. The moment you create an ability for them to have some interaction (i.e. regulation) the regulators will be captured and allow pretty much anything. This is exactly what happened with MF Global. A simple rule and outright prohibition against the broker dealer having any investment relation with the customer segregated funds would have avoided the problems.

I think a a regulatory system is doomed to fail. The Progressive movement in 1910 saw how all their regulatory systems were soon hijacked.

Unfortunately, a free market is just as easy to hijack, since you need to ensure that judges don't get bought off, that attorneys general actually enforce laws against fraud and deceptive business practices, and that legislators don't aspire to retire to lobbying firms or send their idiot sons to do-nothing six-figure jobs at the banks. I don't think that's much easier than running a smart, tough, fair, and open regulatory regime. If you can buy a regulatory agency, you can buy a Senator.

Yep. Glass-Steagall -- separating commercial and investment banking -- worked well from the time it was implemented until the time it was repealed. Certain kinds of antitrust settlements worked well -- eg, AT&T under its 1934 agreement with the federal government built the best telephone network in the world, but was banned from being in any other business. Both examples of simple prohibition where there's no room for interpretation.

The US National debt crossed the $15 trillion plus $100 billion threshold today. The National debt is over 100% of the debt to GDP ratio according to the USDEBTCLOCK.org. The ratio of government spending to GDPis 46.53% today.
It is hard to think of the US economy as free market as without government spending most businesses would be much smaller and depression would last forever. Most executive salaries are grossly excessive relative to the government spending level and stocks and earnings would be much lower. It is a mixed economy as any in the world today. A mixed economy is ok, but its rules are different than free market. But Wall Street is controlling Washington and people don't understand that we have socialized a ton of private debt so bankers can claim profits and keep kept politicians in office to keep the rules from changing.

Elsewhere it is claimed that banks take up over 8 units of exchange for every 1 they produce.

Rich bankers can today be exposed as a ­huge drain on society... ­costing the rest of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce.
A study by think-tank the New Economics Foundation found the average banker destroys ­£42million a year in value while creating just £5million.
Meanwhile hospital cleaners on £6.26 an hour are worth £10 for every £1 they cost because they prevent superbugs, saving the economy a fortune.

That is why I favor election by random lot.

That, too, has its problems. My thought is that a Parliament should be about 70% elected and 30% by lot. Of course, you can buy lotsmen just as easily as the elected. There's just no substitute for openness and public spirit, no matter what sort of system you want to run.

Seems like you might be able to make lotsmen relatively insulated from money. For starters, they didn't need money/contributions to get the position, or to keep it, it will term limit out. So you only have to monitor, to insure that he/she isn't taking bribes, during or after his/her term. Not perfect, but a lot easier to make fair then what we got now.

Corruption is endemic to hierarchical systems. The only way to get rid of it is to get rid of the hierarchy. Everything else is a waste of time.

Any criticism of anything that takes place in the United States is immediately attacked. If you do so, you are not only labeled a socialist, but also as being negative, cynical, and pessimistic. You are called a loser, of not having the get up and go spirit, of hating wealth, of being jealous of those with money, power, and fame.

America is a religion, there's no doubt about it. A powerful and, up to now, very effective one, but a religion nonetheless.

I salute Jeffrey Sachs for beginning to realize this.

Yes. Theres a lot to it. Although its not quite as strong as that, i.e. I think it the nationalism as religion thing is somewhat assailable.

US dam removed to check salmon decline

A dam on the river Elwha in the US state of Washington is being taken down after it caused an ecological imbalance in the region.

Following its construction there was a severe decline in the fish population, a major resource for the local economy, with the number of salmon dropping from 400,000 to just 3,000.

One down... how many to go?

But still, good news for a change.

Aljazeera Interview regarding FAO report on Global Food Security [discussed Dec 7]

The Cost of Rising Food Prices

We now add one million people to the globe every five days. Farmers have to provide food and fiber for that growing population.

Sahel facing major food crisis in 2012, warns EU aid commissioner

Seven million people are already facing shortages in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, with major shortfalls in food production in many areas. The figures point to a massive problem of food availability next year, according to the European commission.

For anyone maddened by holiday gift-giving, here is some light-hearted relief.


Thanks to NRDC, Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams, a cure for "CGS" (Crap Gift Syndrome) has been found.

Todd posted this interesting link the other day from a guy who went through the Balkan wars of the 90's (SHTF School). And after reading most of his posts I think it would be of interest to others as well.

Some interesting observations he makes are:

1. get out of the city into rural areas;
2. gold, silver and cash are worthless in that kind of situation;
3. basic things have the most value (topped by food and water)
4. neighbours, gangs and other city dwellers are the real enemy;
5. you need to be part of a community, tribe or gang to survive:
6. you need to live like a rat, unseen, silent, nocturnal, intelligent and versatile;
7. you need skills;
8. you don't take risks;
9. the worst kind of people end up being in charge.

He puts these things into context and why they're important, not just as received wisdom. The thing I took away from reading his site is that his situation may have been extreme, but it is only a matter of scale. Tone down the violence and you still get the same dynamics coming into play albeit in a more civilised manner.

6. you need to live like a rat, unseen, silent, nocturnal, intelligent and versatile;

So ... we need to each buy two pair of night goggles?

That would describe a number of residents of this urban neighborhood...

If I remember correctly, "Selco" (SHTF school) said he does not recommend night vision goggles. He sited the hassle of getting batteries and the cost. He felt the money would be better spend on other things.

I thought Selco was a good counter balance to "FerFal of Argentina.

I loved FerFal's book but Argentina was not as far down the cliff, so to speak, as the Balkans (one-step down vs Seneca Cliff), and both bloggers were "city mice", so the contrast between "bad" (argentinian financial collapse)and "worse" (Balkan social/cultural collapse) stood out. There opinions on what to do to prepare are somewhat different too (FerFal played a lot of video games, drove to work, etc... Selco, not so much...)

If I recall correctly, Ferfal felt you should live no farther than 15 miles (minutes ???) from a major hospital... whereas Selco said good luck finding a functional hospital and said he would head for the hills (rural).

I seem to remember someone suggesting mountains - they said the risk of infections (Selco had two of his family/crew die of dysentery) declined greatly the higher in the mountains you were (maybe from comments section at SHTF school ???).

One similarity between Orlov and Selco that struck me - both talked of friends and relatives who are so haunted they are they will not discuss what they went through (extreme post-traumatic stress).

The water from a spring well up on a forested mountainside is almost always safe to drink, at least in my part of the world.

Getting enough clean water to maintain decent sanitary standards in a major urban area after a collapse would imo be nearly impossible unless there one has fuel to boil it or disinfectants in quantity to treat it.

Not so in New York City. At least for the first 6 floors. Planned upgrades will increase pressure by several floors.

Purely gravity feed of clean water from controlled watersheds.

No fracing allowed, for very good reasons !


one has fuel to boil it or disinfectants in quantity to treat it.

To address biological issues in the water, one can use the following lower energy materials:
1) Sand for a sand filter
2) Carbon from pyrolysis
3) UV light

The salt water aquarium keepers have plenty of low cost material and methods one might wish to get 'up to speed on'.

Bio sand-filter
Or google if your bandwith can't handle youtubes.

Steps 4,5, and 6 are an interesting juxtaposition of seemingly conflicting ideas.

I guess cities, of any size do not have any communities, tribes, or gangs,which one needs to be a member of...wait, or are gangs the danger...oh, the /other/ gangs!

Seems like one cannot wait till TSHTF to take step #1, since then /You/ will be the new untrusted neighbor/possible other tribe or gang member to the long-time locals wherever you try to flee to...

Of course not everyone, or even most folks in the city (cities), can all implement #1...

Which is the biggest violation of rule #8...implementing rule#1 or staying where one knows the community and the landscape?

A problem with these simple rule lists is that interpreting them for validity depends on situational factors for each person.

Heisenberg, it isn't a simple rule list, just observations. Context applies. The one thing he tries to get across is that there are no simple rules, everything is grey, everything is a risk, so you don't add to them if at all possible.

Now I don't believe we're going to see such extremes as he writes about, but the dynamics still apply contextually adjusted. He observes how trading can be dangerous, because it imparts information about you and your assets that can put you at risk. Now apply that to today where your transactions and everything else you do is captured electronically and pooled by shadowy organisations to give them an individual profile of you. This is already a problem as information is continually hacked and made available to criminals and used for identity theft and other nefarious uses. And in tomorrows world? Where government, crime and the law become indistinguishable as they all take away from you what is rightfully yours.

The Argentina guy recommended small towns over cities or the country. Things were bad in the city, but worse in the country, especially in the areas where bad weather had resulted in poor crops. You might be mugged of the food you just bought in the city, but in the country, people were tortured for days before dying.

Unlike in the Balkan wars, gold held value in Argentina. But you got the same amount no matter what size piece it was. He therefore recommended that you buy used wedding rings rather than coins or bars. It was also safer to appear to be a poor person regretfully selling your wedding ring.

As for how technology might make things different now...I've been thinking about that. There was a book recently reviewed at EB, about society collapsing overnight due to the banking crisis. All credit and debit cards stop working, and chaos ensues.

It occurs to me that electronic banking might be stabilizing rather than de-stabilizing, though. A lot of the hardship in Argentina was because the banks didn't allow money to be withdrawn. They were afraid it would be taken out of the country. So they limited the amount you could withdraw, and it wasn't enough to live on. But now...if they wanted to, they could allow you to use money electronically, and still keep it in the country, if that was their wish. They could also let people transfer and spend money electronically, without worrying about running out of cash, as in the classic bank run. Like that Monty Python building, it would depend on people believing in it to keep functioning, but that's true of the financial system in general. Green paper, gold coins, plastic cards - they only have value because we all believe they do.

"Now I don't believe we're going to see such extremes as he writes about..."

That is exactly what Anne Frank's mother said - and then later she pounded on her husband's chest screaming, "Why didn't you get us out of here when we still had the chance !!!"

"Where government, crime and the law become indistinguishable as they all take away from you what is rightfully yours."

Burgundy, honestly, I think that is exactly what has happened over the past decade. It looks like the europeans are going to become a giant hostage state - no popular votes allowed because the referendums would be voted out immediately.

The windows of opportunity can close very quickly and possibly never reopen... or not. Maybe it will always be sunny in philly ;)

Report: US drones helping local police agencies

The Times said a North Dakota county sheriff asked federal authorities to employ a drone for surveillance in a standoff with three men on a large farm on June 23, resulting in the first known arrests of U.S. citizens involving the spy planes in domestic cases.

Since then, the Times said, two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base have flown at least two dozen surveillance flights for local police. The Times reported that the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have also used Predator drones in domestic investigations.

The U.S. military drones that are so small they even look like insects

Along these lines, but sort of mix with "World Made By Hand":

Outstanding Fiction for young adults (and old adults):

The Hunger Games

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Also see sample stories from Paolo Bacigalupi.

"The Fluted Girl" reads like the same world in Hunger Games.

"People of Sand and Slag" reads like the world Darwinian suggests we are heading toward in a post down-thread - but with technologically "enhanced" peoples.. (maybe the descendants of the "Singularity" people ???? ;).

This guy seems to be verifying my own survival strategy-I believe a thousand dollars worth of buckshot or fertilizer will have far far more utility and barter value in a shtf situation than a thousand dollars worth of gold and Iam planning accordingly.

As far as I can see, anybody who hopes to live through such an experience will have to pursue a similar strategy.It might not be necessary to be personally armed and ready to shoot first and ask questions later, if ever, but it will at a bare minimum be necessary to be a member of an armed and organized community.

At any rate, such items hoarded and safely and securely stored-hidden- now are appreciating in price steadily at a rate considerably higher than the inflation rate.

1, 6, 7, and 8 are what imho gave him the ability to survive.

1: this imho helped him avoid most of the gangs and violence as the old system tries and fails to assert order over said gangs etc with increasing brutality. cities would also be quickly depleted of food and water.

6: this one was the key to his survival i think. rats are veracious omnivores. they will eat just about anything that is remotely edible. you will need to do the same. eat said rats, insects, other vermin, stray cats or dogs etc. trying not to be seen or noticed is a given unless you want to be seen or noticed.

7 & 8: i think this is what will get most people, and if it wasn't for my medical condition it would most likely of gotten me too. you will need a skill set that the vast majority of people do not have. i am not talking just simple hunting skills like dressing and cooking what you catch. i also mean how to catch said meals in the non-civilized way. ie, without a big fire-arm while wearing camouflage gear and using fake pheromones to lure your prey in. i mean self made bow's and arrows, or traps or knowing how to ambush your prey as those bullets are more valuable as either trade or against other humans. and if the situation looks at all risky, well your just going to be hungry that night.

Burgundy, Leannan, Snarlin Ardvark, True Kaiser, Old Farmer Mac, Thank you all you your insights and discussion.

Your approaches to discuss, engage, advocate, debate are much more effective than the 'I told you that posting this was useless, now I will take my ball and go home' approach.

Heisenberg, sometimes we all get exhausted with these discussions - naturally I guess, we are thinking about things most people simply refuse to consider - and just give up and take a rest.

Then someone else picks up the ball and carries a few yards further... becomes exhausted... and the next one picks it up... the ball stays in play, no one can take it home.

Sanrlin Ardvark,

I grok that.

I am only 46 and I get frustrated from time to time with folks.

The persistent drip drip of the 'to blazes with folks living in the city' attitude is fine for folks seemingly secure in their remote rural homesteads, but not a useful angle for the majority of folks who live in cities.

I imagine it may only get worse the older I get...must...resist...the 'get off my lawn' syndrome!


one, i live in the city as well, the sheer mass of people at this scale makes you more vulnerable then safe. fewer people will come to your aid or even care because at the scale of the population the majority of people just become other objects in the landscape to be seen and then ignored. it's harder for say 10% of a small town of less then 1k to be culled by (insert government faction or warlord here) then 10% of a town of 10k or 100k.

two, you do realize the best way to not get killed in the short few day if not a single 24 hour period of chaos at the collapse of order is to get out. it doesn't matter if it's a collapse due too the collapse of the country or a pandemic event. it is the best strategy and thus why a lot of people choose it.


I think your preferred approach will certainly be valid for some people in some cases, but I think that its is not valid to state this as an 'across-the-board' rule.

For example, fleeing people usually will take well-defined lines of communications (roads, etc) and usually will pass through natural choke points (or engineered choke points), which could serve as kill boxes.

In addition, depending on the direction of the advancing threat (fallout, flood, mobs, stormtroopers,etc.) many fleeing folks may end up passing through and/or trying to go to ground in unfamiliar locations, where they do not know the local terrain, people, etc.

Night/inclement weather, highwaymen, etc. could add considerable risk.

The decision to stay or go is rather situational (both to the threat scenario, and to the individual).

This is a basic teaching in military survival school (stay/go decisions are situational), and I think it applies to catastrophe/collapse/civil unrest scenarios as well.

Best hopes for not experiencing a catastrophe, but if you do, may your plan be successful!

H - As unpleasant the thoughts those are all valid considerations. At 60 yo probably not a situation I'll have to worry about. But there's always the basic rule to fall back on: when TSHTF you stay with your unit. Of course, you need a unit to begin with. But that can come somewhat naturally if you set yourself up properly. My 12 yo daughter may face such an unthinkable future. But she lives in the country with my ex and is surrounded by her "unit" (friends and family). She and my ex didn't end up there by accident...I set them up out there. Not only the potential to be self sufficient but very capable of protecting itself from outsiders.

Still a very, very unpleasant thought but it does give me some comfort.


Thank you for posting your comments. In that post I said I didn't post much any more because it was "a waste of time". I think I was wrong when you, SA and a few others took the time to look at an obscure link and comment on it.

Thank you.


Thank you again Todd.

Todd, just because people don't always respond to your posts doesn't mean that they aren't reading them and paying attention. Your posts here and your update emails are very valuable from my perspective.

Thanks, August

Todd - Late to the chat but I read most links and in particular what you post. But unless I have somethng of value to add I'll seldom respond. TOD puts out a lot of info and I suspect others try to avoid adding on as I do. For instance folks seemed to be constantly praising me for my wisdom but seldom did I offer thanks. Just didn't want to waste the space. In fact I've privately emailed many and asked that they stop. Looks as though my effort has been successful for the most part.

i want to thank you for pointing me to that movie. Despite the sad tone of it i have to say it is extremely well made, better then threads and the one that was filmed near here in Lawrence ks and kansas city.

Say, I may have missed this in the past week's drumbeats.... but this morning in the (pathetically small) honolulu star-advertiser newspaper there's a full-page article called "going green"... about the RIMPAC naval exercises using "green" biodiesel to demonstrate its viability to run our warships.

It's behind a paywall online, this is a reference to it but not as entertaining:

Heralding the brave new world in which the USA controls the seas using pond scum and chicken squeezin's. Because modern military ships probably don't need much, right? Good thing the Axis powers didn't think of this, eh?

our tax dollars at work...

Otisfield oil spill caused by thief cutting copper tubing, officials say

The copper tubing was estimated by school Superintendent Rick Colpitts to be worth only about $30, but the damage being caused by the cleanup of more than 100 gallons of spilled oil is expected to cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Next time - take the oil. [worth 10X v. copper]

Powerful Pipes, Weak Oversight

Like many other lines crisscrossing the state's Marcellus Shale regions, this pipe was big - a high-pressure steel line, 20 inches in diameter, large enough to help move a buried ocean of natural gas out of this corner of the state. It was also plenty big enough to set off a sizable explosion if something went wrong.

There was trouble on the job. Far too many of the welds that tied the pipe sections together were failing inspection and had to be done over.

A veteran welder, now an organizer for a national pipeline union, happened upon the line and tried to blow the whistle on what he considered substandard work.

But there was no one to call.

Pennsylvania's regulators don't handle those pipelines, and acknowledge they don't even know where they are. And when he reported what he saw to a federal oversight agency, an inspector told him there was nothing he could do, either.

Because the line was in a rural area, no safety rules applied.

European contagion may hit airlines hard

"The biggest risk facing airline profitability over the next year is the economic turmoil that would result from a failure of governments to resolve the euro-zone sovereign-debt crisis," said Tony Tyler, Iata's director general and chief executive.

This would push airlines to losses of $8.3bn, the biggest hit since the 2008 global financial crisis, with losses by European carriers accounting for more than half of that total, he said. "There's no doubt even in the best-case scenario we're going to see a tougher 2012."

Historically the airline industry has seen a profit turn into loss whenever global GDP growth falls below 2 per cent. This is driving the downgrade in the 2012 outlook."

"...the Eagle Ford — that's the one getting the love right now.”

from: How Investor's Are Crushing Big Oil

Was waiting to see Rockman's comment on this. Contacts in oil & gas support; say that EF is not doing much right now (or really Texas in general)... most of support activity is in workovers and 'roto-rooter' business with old existing wells. How would that be explained? Maybe competition from Bakkan oil? Just wondering. Does anyone have some insight from the producers view.


Zap – Sorry for the delay...been dealing with a sick well most of the day. Here are some quick numbers from the TRRC:

Sept 2011: 462 Eagle Ford wells produced 2.644 million bo. Average per well: 184 bopd. Texas Sept oil production: 30.3 million bo.

Thus EFS production represented about 9% of the state’s total. But don't infer too much from these numbers. The short history of many of these wells combined with the rapid decline rates make understanding the dynamics difficult. I’ve previous promised to offer a full statistical analysis of the EFS after 1 January. Even then there’s only enough significant production history to just give a flavor…really need another 2 -3 years of production history to paint an accurate picture.

Met Office Hadley Centre: New Climate Change Assessment Report

•The production of staple food crops may decline in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, and the USA. In some cases, crop yield increases may be expected for example in Germany and Japan. Food security is highlighted as a growing risk before 2040 in Bangladesh and India;

The Water White Paper and Case for Change

... Water resource availability in the future is uncertain. We have not analysed all possible futures but have considered a range of possible outcomes for each river basin district and catchment.

Report: http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/GEHO1111BVEP-E-E.pdf

also Ministers act to stave off water shortage problems

Environment Minister Richard Benyon revealed the talks as the Government issued a stark warning of future water shortages, lasting environmental damage and rivers running dry unless more is done to conserve supplies.

A study by the Environment Agency warns that short droughts of up to 18 months are likely to become more frequent over the coming years and problems will be faced across the country, not only in the south where shortages have been most severe in recent years.

I was amazed to see NBC news do a piece on the 12 billion plus weather disasters this year. They even let a climatologist say to expect more of the same because of AGW, and they didn't even allow some blowhard to say ah balony. Just maybe there is hope for us....

Just maybe there is hope for us....

We were crowding in some sofas at the youth group in church this friday and talking about stuff, came into movies and then drifted towards climate change. Molly, 16 yo, said "we can't stop this, unless we give up all emissions right now, and thats not gonna happen, so why even try?" (Christian CC denialism is a specific US phenomena).

When I was 16, a big comunist block at the east, just around our national corner, had just dissolved and the world was a free place. Everything was just going to be better from now on. It was great beeing a teen-ager in the 90'ies. The kids of today, what hope do they have?

Jedi - I think Selco (shtfschool) was 17 (19???) when the Balkans collapsed.

I have great hope for my kids 17, 15, 13 ("great" is a relative term... humility counts - see "A different kind of luxury: Japanese lessons on simple living and inner abundance, by Andy couturier)

A number of times I have posted comments here warning people that if they are using oil for heat they should get off it ASAP, and that natural gas, where available, is the cheapest alternative these days. Here is an article discussing it.

Oil vs. natural gas for home heating

Natural gas has been a more affordable heat source than oil for Americans in recent years. The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the average American homeowner will pay only about $732 to heat their home with gas this winter season (October 1 through March 31) versus a whopping $2,535 for oil heat. While the price of natural gas has remained relatively stable in the last few years, oil prices have been high and rising

While oil prices are likely to remain high and volatile in the foreseeable future, most energy analysts agree that pricing for natural gas, much of which is still derived domestically, is not expected to rise or fluctuate substantially in the U.S. any time soon.

Only about eight percent of U.S. homes are on oil heat today. Most are in the Northeastern U.S. and were built back in the day when oil was the cheapest way to keep toasty through the long winters. Many utilities have since put gas lines into neighborhoods that didn’t have them in the past, opening the door for homeowners to switch out old inefficient oil furnaces for more efficient gas units.

What if "they" build the pipelines and liquification plants to export some of the North American NG to Asia (and other places)? The current situation of $4 NG in NA and $12 LNG in Asia is not sustainable. Add to that the possible collapse of the shale gas pyramid scheme, and $8 NG seems most likely in a few years, no? That would greatly reduce the gap between the prices of NG and heating oil.

That said, I wonder about the future of propane, which is what I burn for heat, except when I bother to handle firewood. Here in Vermont, a season's worth of heating solely using propane is $3000 or $4000 or more, depending on the house of course. More than $3/gallon now, and that's only about 90,000 BTU as compared with 140,000 in a gallon of oil.

Any knowledgable people here care to comment on where the propane is coming from, what are the competing uses for it, and how both production and consumption are affected by trends in the types of oil and gas produced, location of refineries, etc? E.g., much of the propane is from natural gas liquids, would that be lost to the American market if more of the NG is exported? Does the increasing use of NGL's as a gasoline component a similar threat?

Natural gas liquefaction plants cost billions of dollars and take a long time to build, so I don't think LNG exports will have a significant effect on US natural gas pricing for a decade or more.

Propane is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. They fractionate it off the natural gas stream and don't normally include it in LNG, at least in North America. It usually sells for more money than natural gas, so it is worthwhile for companies to market it separately.

In general, propane is more closely linked to the price of crude oil than the price of natural gas, so I would expect it to rise in price as heating oil went up. Natural gas prices, on the other hand, have become completely disconnected from the oil market in recent years.

In my opinion gas should be conserved for domestic use not exported. The Brits must regret using up their North Sea gas reserves so quickly and now Trinidad, Canada and surprisingly even Saudi Arabia is talking about conserving gas. The article on US LNG says gas will provide 30% of the world's electricity by 2040 since it generates a whopping 60% less CO2 than coal. If that electricity came from nuclear with 98% less CO2 that would free up a lot of gas for NGVs.

Second question is what happens when gas either runs out or or creates too much CO2 in an overheated planet? If 2011 thinking carries forward to 2040 the answer seems to be keep burning everything available. The Bible has a line about not serving two masters. Gas cannot replace both coal for electricity and oil for transport.

The Brits must regret using up their North Sea gas reserves so quickly

I remember working for Haliburton on the BP40's off Aberdeen in 1979-80. All four rigs out there had tall towers with gas burning. I would estimate the flames themselves were 50 feet high by 10 feet wide at their most expansive point, and remember they were burning 24/7, month in month out, year after year. I asked about it and was told there was no pipeline. But couldn't they have offloaded it on to vessels that liquified it and transported it to holding tanks onshore?

If you tilted your hardhat back to face up, the heat was so intense it heated up your face within a few seconds and you were forced to tilt your hardhat back down. The sound was so loud people just a few feet apart had to yell at each other to be heard. At night the light from the fires was so intense it illuminated the rough seas surrounding the rigs. What a waste!

There was an oil and gas field near here, the Turner Valley field, in which companies flared off 90% of the gas cap during the 20s and 30s - an amount of gas that would probably be worth $20 billion today. They also damaged the reservoir drive in the process and permanently stranded a lot of the oil as well.

You could see the flames and smell the poison gas (H2S) from Calgary, 50 miles away, and the ducks in the area stopped going south for the winter.

In the 40s, the Alberta government tried to impose gas conservation legislation on the companies, but the companies, aided by the federal government, had it declared unconstitutional. Eventually, after numerous tries, the Alberta government managed to pass conservation legislation, but federal/provincial relations in the energy area have been marked by nasty disagreements ever since.

The situation nowadays is that companies are not allowed to flare gas without an awfully good reason. Consumers are also watching the companies closely - we used to have to put shields on the pilot lights on the flare stacks at gas plants because if people saw a pilot light, they would complain to the government that we were wasting gas.

RMG, with some "luck", the first of the export facilities will come online about 2016. I agree one facility won't change the fundamentals overnight, but I could certainly see 3-4 each exporting 1bcf/day making some strides toward leveling the water. Much can change between now and then so I'm not holding my breath...

BTW I know many in the upper echelons of these facilities who think it's insane to be exporting LNG while we're importing all this oil, but because there's no national energy policy, there's nothing to stop it.

I often marvel at how quickly the personal computer market is evolving (my first personal computer being a DEC Rainbow, circa 1983). Unimaginable advancements in computing power and energy efficiency.

Ten years ago, my desktop PC and monitor consumed about 175-watts. Today, if I'm surfing the web on my laptop I'm using 21-watts, or 47-watts if it's docked with my external monitor. And if I'm on the run and need a quick-fix of TOD I can log on with my tablet that draws just 3-watts.

It boggles the mind.


As Mark Twain (II) said:

There are lies, damn lies, statistics and ...

the user-centric view of the world.

Where is the energy count for the whole internet which now forms part of your marvelous 3Watt device?

(And don't forget emergy)

That made me think of this that I saw earlier


Don't forget that the power required to drive the internet is falling as well and some of the big companies are actively trying to drive down their power use.


and your forgetting that as more of the 'lower power' devices come out more people get on the internet. more people get multiple devices that rely on the internet(computers, phones, tablets, tv's, media boxes etc). also remember his post 'implies' that the higher power devices go away when in reality they will still be around and running, even by the same person too or as a hand me down.

Well, my laptop suffered at the paws of the fur-heads so I have to use my main machine. It is designed for the heavy use that I need to do from time to time but is over speced for viewing TOD. While just on line I would prefer to be on the laptop, use less power and be able to move around. That doesn't mean that they will be both in use together. Likewise someone may need to use a pickup occasionally and some weekends but why use it to run to the shops? Would it be better to have a compact or EV for 90% of the driving while the PU sits in the garage? Ok, I know there are better solutions but this can be a step down choice.


Consider buying a MacMini for your laptop. $599 +$79 for an external CD drive. The CPU takes 10 watts in normal operation.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Or watch the online Apple store for brief offerings of full-warranty free-shipping refurbs of last year's model mac mini which include internal DVD writer, at about $450. It's what we've gone to exclusively for home and organization use. Of course, running them off solar power is an easy option, too....

The CPU takes 10 watts in normal operation.

Many CPUs take that amount of wattage or even less in normal operation, even the ones that can pull 90 watts when all the cores are active.

Neat little machines but I'd still go for the laptop as I can just pick it up and move around, not just within the house either.


Get one of those Intel Combo motherboards 425KT or 525MW. Will cost you less than 100$. Add memory, hard drive and power unit and the whole thing will cost you less than 200$. Unlike a laptop you can keep running it for days without getting worried. I have one which runs linux and doubles up as a media server. Perfect for browsing and playing music.

CPU consumes 4W. The whole system consumes less than 50W at peak output and around 20W in normal conditions.

wiseindian and Ghung, thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately we do not get a huge choice of computer parts around here so I am a little tied on that sort of experimentation. The laptop was particularly useful during the rainy season as I could move to a cooler area and cut down on air conditioning, fans and lights as well.


My laptop crapped out recently due to the failure of one tiny chip (the sensor that tells it it's closed). Tired of throwing out laptops that were virtually not repairable, I built a tiny box around a Mini-itx board, basically a laptop mainboard for a box PC, very efficient and quite fast. I used the hard drive from the laptop and swapped the memory. The rest of the laptop will be scrapped. New mainboard like this, in a case like this.

It's using 34 watts (including 19" LED monitor), running Ubuntu Linux/W7 duelboot. (DVD, etc., all external = no power unless needed). It's a fast little computer, using only slightly more energy than the laptop it replaced, and I can repair/upgrade it without scrapping the whole thing. Graphics, integrated with the main processor, are amazing. I also have a power supply that runs directly from DC (6-34 volts) I'll install soon, running directly off of the PV batteries.

I recently was shocked to learn that the latest craze in "energy efficiency" is WIFI-connected programmable thermostats. 'nuff said.

Hmmm, might save more than it uses.


Never heard of such a thing . . . but now I want one.

Battery life can't be that great though.

Thermostats have a 48 volt AC power source to drive their control circuits. That is to say, when there is a call for heating or cooling, they switch on a line to an appropriate relay or controller to command the HVAC system. The battery only keeps the clock and memory alive. With the 48 volts available, the battery could be recharged, as is done with the CMOS battery of a PC...

E. Swanson

Minor point - most residential HVAC control systems are actually 24 volt AC.

Thanks Ghung, The CMOS battery had my wondering as well. I found that it is called a CMOS battery because it is keeping CMOS circuits alive. It's usually a Lithium CR2032 non-rechargeable battery.

Old school thermostats have no power . . . just a mercury switch. If the heater is not on, I don't think there is any power available. But perhaps you could steal some power from the system when heater is to keep a batter charged?

Some older units use micro-volt thermostats, power provided by a thermocouple at the pilot. Others such as baseboard heaters use line voltage thermostats, usually a coiled bi-metal strip.

the user-centric view of the world.

Everything I do in life, my very existence on this earth, consumes vast quantities of energy. Much of this, regrettably, is beyond my control, but I try to make good choices whenever possible. So, for example, my laptop is now in its sixth year of service and was third years old when I purchased it. And I'll happily use it for another six should it continue to soldier on. I ended up buying a tablet because I'm having problems reading the text on my Blackberry and require access to my e-mails when working out in the field; it's a way of coping with my failing eyesight.

I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to make this world a better place for all and to undo some of the harm that we cause, and to this end seven days a week I'm helping to remove between 10,000 and 20,000 kWh of electrical load -- the equivalent taking one to two homes off-grid per day. Granted, small potatoes compared to the efforts of others forum members, but it's my contribution.



Your humility is noteworthy!

Keep on with your non-trivial contributions, and don't lose any sleep over your Tablets, etc...the folks pulling the sting on embedded energy forget that there is as much or more embedded energy in their tower/desktop PCs, and those use Internet/'cloud' resources just as well!

Also, if it is not too m uch trouble, can you recommend a CFL or LED light bulb which has decent CRI and light output similar to a 60W incandescent bulb, which is suitable for use in a ceiling fan, and with dimmer switches?

I am trying to make my wife happy...she wants me to replace the four non-dimmable LEDs I put in the ceiling fan light kit after we moved in...with dimmable bulbs...I do not want to revert to incandescent bulbs!

The L-Prize winner, 10 watts, 900 lumens, will be out this spring. Has three yellow looking bands when off

I think it meets your criteria.

Best Hopes,



Thank you.

My criteria: Keep my wife happy, and try to reduce my lighting electric load.

For all interested parties, I think this is that very bulb Alan referred to:


The article claims a 25,000 hour life equaling 2.85 years...I laughed...we have this living room ceiling fan light lit on no more than 8 hours per day (likely less), but we have a lot of natural light (we would have it on less if we were not a bunch of night owls).

my math shows that at 8 hours per day this bulb would last ~ 8.5 years.

We shall see what the offering price is...

Wikipedia article about the L Prize competition.

Don't forget that you can get this one right now for $25:

Philips Ambient LED 12-Watt (60W) LED A19 Light Bulb

It's the 800 Lumen 12w one.

augjohnson, nice, thanks!

Or the 240 lumen, 5 watt version (good for when you need just a little light)


And interesting issue - go LED now or wait for better (they do last a *LONG* time !).

I am opting to wait, using CFLs even where not appropriate (frequent off/on cycles). LED night lights though.

The L-Prize lights will be my first regular LEDs when they hit the market.

Best Hopes for even better LEDs,


I've started putting in FEIT led replacement bulbs available at costco locally for $9.95.

Specs claimed: 450 lumens, 7.5 watts, dimmable. Quite nice-appearing light, I hope they're still in stock when I go back.

http://www.feit.com/feit_led_hiperformance.html it's the model A19/DM/LED

Just to clarify, H, your link references Philips' current generation A19 replacement. The specs on the L-Prize version are considerably better.

For more information, click on the lab testing link at: http://www.lightingprize.org/overview_60watt.stm

I hope to get a pre-release copy in the next couple weeks. Expect to pay a goodly premium over the 12.5-watt version (the word "Youza !" comes to mind).

BTW, the good folks at a certain organization rather foolishly installed twenty EnduraLED A19s in their main boardroom. Well over half of the light is lost inside the fixture housing and the lamps run so hot that they're now welded to the socket and can't be removed (I still can't believe they did this).

A true testament to the performance of this lamp in that none of them have failed as yet.


Thanks, H; much appreciated.

I'm afraid I don't have great news. I can't recommend any LED lamp for this type of application. Dimming is always hit and miss; most Philips lamps, for example, are compatible with reverse-phase or trailing-edge dimmers, but not forward-phase. If you have a standard rotary dimmer you'll likely be fine, but some of the more fancy electronic dimmers can be problematic. That aside, fan lights are often fitted with small glass shades that don't provide much in the way of heat dissipation and no LED lamp is going to be happy nor long for this world as a result. I have a Philips 12.5-watt EnduraLED A19 (60-watt equivalent) in the table lamp beside me, and even though the shade has a wide neck the lamp is too hot to comfortably handle after 30-minutes of use.

Short of replacing the fixture or using an alternate light source for general illumination (e.g., a table or floor lamp), I'd go with a Philips Halogená ES (http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/halogena_energy_saver/hou...). The 40-watt version provides the same amount of light as a standard 60-watt incandescent and has a rated service life of 3,000 hours. It's compatible with any dimming system, light quality is indistinguishable from that of a regular household incandescent and heat build-up won't be a problem. The only downside (beyond the lost savings potential, increased A/C load and shorter service life) is that it's only available in pearl coat (soft white), and if the lamp is partly exposed a clear or decorative bulb is generally preferred.



Thank you for your advice.

My CFLs have been in this fixture for 2.5 years and they are going strong.

My wife does not like them because they are not the instant-on variety (more common on the shelves now), and she thinks they are too bright (I thought the first set of CFLs I bought for this application were too dim)...now she wants to go back to incandescent bulbs with a dimmer, hence my quest...

I also am on the hunt for MR-16 warm white floods...we have two fixtures, each with three halogens which hang on lines which can be adjusted up/down since the hanging lines loop over pulleys with nickle-colored plumb=bob-shaped counterweights.

I bought one FEIT Electric MR-16 (sharp pin base, not the one with the knobs)at Lowes on sale for 8 bucks...but that was a close-out.

Now I am searching the Interwebs for a similar bulb (MR-16, two-pin pointy base, AC, does NOT have to be dimmable) for something like 12 bucks or less (not 30,40 bucks or more!)

You may find that the CFLs have a bit of a leg up in that much of the heat is being generated within and radiated by the glass tubing whereas with the LEDs it's concentrated in a comparatively small area closer to the base of the lamp where it will accumulate. And once junction temperatures routinely exceed 75°C, light output falls off more rapidly and service life will be compromised. As a simple test, pop a 12.5-watt EnduraLED lamp into one of the sockets, leave the lights on for a couple of hours, then remove one of the CFLs and the Endura with your bare hands. I think you'll see a noticeable difference in how hot they feel (a word of caution: you may burn your hand and/or drop the lamp followed by a string of curse words that you may not wish to share with others).

I use Philips' 7 and 10-watt LED MR16s in our retrofit work. Very nice light quality but if you have sensitive hearing the internal cooling fan can be somewhat annoying (I can't use them in my home for this reason).


Forgive what may be a silly question... but...

If the lamp is giving off that much heat isn't it by definition inefficient? i.e. lots of heat produced while producing light?

And aren't LEDs supposed to be "efficient"? Certainly I have seen how little power they draw in flashlight applications (the battery lifetime is impressive as compared to the old pea bulbs!). But I have been surprised by the amount of heat produced by even small 12v LED fixtures.

The long lifetime is attractive to be sure, but why so much heat?


Commercially available LED lamps are four to five times more efficient than incandescents, but their luminous efficacy is generally no better than that of a CFL and in some cases much less; for example, a Philips 2.5-watt BA9 frosted candle LED supplies just 30 lumens (12.5 lumens per watt). I suspect it will be a while yet before LED performance catches up to the hype.

And you can be forgiven for your confusion because there's a lot of BS out there spread by folks who should know better. A rep for a major lighting manufacturer recently tried to sell me on a 20-watt LED wall pack that he claimed could replace a 100-watt metal halide. It produces a little over 1,400 lumens whereas a 100-watt MasterColour CMH ED17 cranks out 9,500 lumens. Not even close.


Incandescents get rid of most of their waste heat in the form of infared radiation. LED's don't.

Also, incandescents can run a lot hotter without damage! In Paul's example elsewhere where he mentioned the LED lamps that got so hot in the ceiling can fixtures that they were "welded" in, that's because the wire to the base of the LED lamp is soldered, whereas in an incandescent it's really welded. The solder melted and has now soldered the lamp to the fixture. Solder melts at a much lower temperature than a real welded connection.

It may be possible to remove the lamp once it's up to temperature, but maybe not due to the improved thermal conductivity of the now soldered connection. Enough heat may be pulled away from the connection that it may never again get hot enough to melt the solder.

heisenberg - "the folks pulling the sting on embedded energy forget that there is as much or more embedded energy in their tower/desktop PCs"

I think you're incorrect on that, any proof for that claim please?


Desktop/tower PCs come in a great variety of sizes and complexity levels...everything from bargain basement boxes to powerful gaming or video production rigs.

My point is that some folks love to throw rocks and blow steam and deconstruct any 'good news'...surely you are not arguing that desktops/laptops do not have embedded energy and precious and/or toxic materials in them, are you?

One can buy desktop/tower PC rigs with 1.1 KW power supplies nowadaze.

Also, desktop/tower PCs are often paired with larger LCD screens that are typically found on laptops or tablets. More embedded energy/materials.

Paul was making the observation about going from rigs with 175 watt power supplies to laptops, then tablets which use a small fraction of that.

The assertions that tablets have more embedded energy than tower/desktops seemed to be an off-target attempt to deflate the obvious lower power draw from smaller portable devices.

I will build on Paul's reply...all of us are significant bundles of embedded energy...and almost all of our things and efforts rely on materials/machines/things with significant embedded energy.

The concepts of EROEI and embedded energy are valid and important, but sometimes fsome folks lose their perspective on things...

BTW, I will reflect your question and ask for proof-support that smaller devices such as laptops and tablets have more embedded energy than desktops/tower PCs.



Best Hopes for Us All !


Hey, Paul,

A worthy point and well-made. My problem with the tablets is that I think back-lit screens contribute to the eye-strain that makes our vision crap out earlier than (I suspect, but can't prove) it might otherwise.

My low-energy consumption strategy is that I surf TOD on my $79 Kindle. This only works because I post pretty rarely, maybe once every second or third Drumbeat, though I suppose if I were more verbose I could have gotten the Touch version.

But that black-and-grey screen? Really easy on the eyes. My opthamologist agrees, and just bought one himself.

Basically, TOD is now pretty much my primary news source. Who cares if the interface is slow? If I'm on a quick lunch break from the clinic, I start loading TOD on the Kindle as I order my food, and it's up by the time I sit down. I can absorb the hell of a lot more well-sourced data in 45 minutes than I could with any daily newspaper (even if the layout is kinda... odd). And I don't get a headache.

Step Back,

The energy for the internet is say X, let Y be the total energy used by devices connected to the internet. Is it not better for Y to be reduced by 7x or 50x. Note that the servers which run the internet are becoming more energy efficient as well and it saves energy when people shop online and telecommute and use e-mail rather than snail mail. Do you think the internet's costs outweigh its benefits? I don't. Though I would agree that if things fall apart it may cease to exist. I think BAU will clearly not continue. We need to think about what might be worth saving, the internet seems pretty useful, much more so than autos, very large homes in the suburbs, and a lot of the consumer crap that exists. Now your point may be that the internet exists to promote and sell that consumer crap, which is true to some extent. It does more than that as a way for people to communicate and share ideas, that part is important. As are the ways in which it makes us more energy efficient.


My windoze7 Notebook uses 1/3 the watts a P4 did, but its doing things needlessly all the time. Seems like only a tiny fraction of CPU cycles are doing something useful. Just what is it doing with the hard drive light flashing 24/7 and fan blasting? A P4 with XP would at least retire when there was nothing to do. I have purchased my last M$ machine.

Thanks for the laugh! Are you sure your computer isn't being used to push porn around the web or send spam? Someone might be using all that processing power you don't know how to use. At least it's not a wasted resource. lol.

I hope you are not going to to Linux. If you can't figure out Windows, Linux will seem like quantum physics to you.

I wonder if it would be more efficient on Linux? Microsoft squashed many notebooks to stop the advance of Linux, if they hadn't we might be seeing more efficient machines today.


depends on the setup. ubuntu would be as wasteful as 7 yet you might need to invest a decent amount of time into a leaner but less 'user friendly' distros.

Something is definitely wrong with your computer, some spambot or virus or such. Windows 7 is generally very well-behaved.

are you sure? many venders STILL sell windows machines with much less ram then the system needs to run smoothly with all the defaults loaded on. his system might just be thrashing the hard drive due to using the page file.

many venders STILL sell windows machines with much less ram then the system needs to run smoothly with all the defaults loaded on

Machines yes, notebooks not so much. They come with at least 2 gigs of memory, but more often with 3 or 4. Netbooks usually with 1 GB, true, but Longtimber mentioned notebook, so we can assume it has at least 2 GBs, which should be enough for Win7 to run without using the page file (with no running apps).

But actually, I solved one slowdown mystery today! :P
Warning: boring story ahead!

My sis called me that her nice, new NB slowed down to a crawl and she can't do a thing! She even has to wait few seconds for letters to appear in a word processor. Me being one with whom she bought the bloody thing and also among other things a tech-support guy, she demanded (in a good way) that I do something with it. :P

I'm using Teamviewer for remote support and I experienced the slowdown firsthand. It was unbearable. NB totally frozen for 5-10 seconds, then 2-3 seconds as if nothing happened and then again long freeze. And this is with i3 CPU and 4 GBs of memory. So I asked her whether she installed some application(s) or anything and she replied: "Oh yeah, I had to download and install new version of Adobe flash player". Uh-oh.

The thing is, Adobe flash player automatically installs McAfee Security Scan Plus (or whatever) WITHOUT USER'S PERMISSION and... well, to cut the story short, I kicked the thing out of the system as fast as it allowed me (getting 2 seconds for action between long freezes), rebooted the system and everything was A-OK again.
/end of boring story

So, Longtimber, if you read this, please make sure you don't have this McAfee Security Scan Plus installed in your system. And if you do, uninstalling it will hopefully shed some unneeded load. :P

Thanks for the Tips, Machine is pretty clean with 4 GB, Registry locked down with Teatimer.
Nothing but CAD and as few as possible apps. I've Notice W7 is busy doing nothing productive on many other PC's. Lots of Instability with Adobe products, after so many reboots they still can't seem to get it right. I have a different "Play" computer, a Mac Book Pro with XP running on VMWare. Windows seems to runs better in Virtual Land.

Paul, and your low power tablet has how much embodied energy and rare elements from around the world? ;-)

Sorry, don't have a clue. Can you help me out?


Commuter gridlock on the bicycle paths - a problem that most North American cities don't have. I feel kind of proud that I was one of the early promoters of these pathways and that they have become so popular:

Path popularity creating planning problem

Today 700 kilometres of paved paths snake through city neighbourhoods, and are a heavily used source of pride for many Calgarians — “the most extensive urban pathway” network in North America, boasts the city’s website.

The pathway network, however, isn’t the quaint park amenity it once was. Today the pathways are bustling with pedestrians, cyclists, stroller-pushing parents, in-line skaters and skateboarders, and, in some places, have become de facto transportation corridors for commuters.

These competing uses have led to conflict and frustration, and are forcing Calgarians to rethink the way the paths are built and used.

...many pathways were built with recreation in mind, but have evolved into transportation routes. That’s where problems arise between pleasure-strolling pedestrians and cyclists in a hurry to get to work.

“All of these conflicts are inevitable if the usage becomes so enormous that it is something that was not factored into its original design...

Reminds me of the official bike paths in Minneapolis about twenty years ago. They had (and claimed to enforce) a ten mile per hour speed limit. Pretty hard to go that slow. Made them utterly useless for anyone trying to do anything serious twowheel wise.

Calgary has a speed limit of 20 km/h (12 mph) on its bicycle paths, which it is true is rather slow for commuting. The issue is the mix of bicyclists and pedestrians on the same paths, since mixing traffic moving at different speeds is hazardous.

Yeah, pedestrians have no road sense. I always need to watch out for them.


Speaking of no road sense, I remember one time in pre-speed limit days I came whizzing around a corner on a bicycle path in Calgary and met half a dozen riders on horseback. I hit the brakes and stopped in time, but I scared the wits out of the horses - they reared back and nearly threw their riders.

However, it's way better than running into a grizzly bear on a bike path, which is the more common problem where I live now.

A lot of cyclists have no road sense, either. I was recently hit by one. I was going well below the speed limit, and she came flying out from between parked cars and rode right into the side of my car. Didn't stop, didn't look, didn't even slow down. I don't know what she was thinking.

I've also seen cyclists committing many of the same sins car drivers do. Many of them are biking while talking on their cell phones, which makes them, like drivers, oblivious to their surroundings. I saw one guy biking down Main St. with a cell phone in one hand and a can of beer in the other. He was weaving all over the road, not surprisingly.

I read a comment on a biking site that pointed out that it's all the same people - many of us drive cars, ride bikes, and walk, and people who are clueless in cars are equally clueless on bikes and on foot. Would be nice if we could rely on common sense, but we can't.

You should see the people on mopeds around here. No requirement for registration or insurance (which is ok but..), *supposed* to be limited to 25 mph, but most people de-restrict them so they can go about 45 mph. Stop signs? Not even a hint of slowing down - they blow right through them. Ditto for stoplights, never saw where the law didn't apply to them but they must know something I don't. Those strange double yellow lines on the road? What are those for?! Obviously they must be for drifting over. They like to put their tire against your car at stoplights as well. I've seen bicyclists do stupid things - but the moped riders, holy smoke...they take the prize.

re. "David Strahan: Has the world reached economic peak oil?"

Geologic peak - no economic peak - no - geopolitical peak- no...

Who cares.

Geologic peak - no economic peak - no - geopolitical peak- no...

Peak oil, no peak demand - peak distractions.

I'm of the opinion we are at peak distractions. At one time NFL games were televised and most of what was shown was the entire field. You could watch the huddle, the defense talking it over and then both defense and offense moving to the line of scrimmage. Then came concern by the networks that not enough people were watching, so they employed every conceivable way they could think of to distract the viewer between snaps. Stats, close ups of players and coaches, footage from earlier in the game or a different game, people in the stands, then a super close up of the QB's face, then the big view for the play which lasts a few seconds and back to distractions.

By reducing the actual time viewing the entire field via distractions had the effect of increasing the number of people watching NFL to a record level.

This lesson was not lost on society as a whole. Corporations like Exxon use distractions to cause confusion about global warming. The right wing uses distractions to refuse to answer why trickle down doesn't work. Candidates use distractions to draw voters attention away from issues affecting their candidacy. The govt. distracts the people from their feeling of falling behind with false economic and employment data.

The net effect of all these distractions, is nothing is really getting done. The rich are still getting a bigger piece of the pie while the 99ers get less. Less actual football is being observed, more people are confused about global warming, peak oil has been replaced by ads claiming hundreds of years worth of energy discoveries. People are distracted by innumerable forms of electronic entertainment.

It's as if society has been immersed in so much information, entertainment and incoming conflicting perspectives, that the distractions constitute a noise above which no one can yell louder to be heard for whatever real concern may need to be conveyed, and all the opinions cancel each other out. Which means we will all go to that edge of the cliff without realizing we are quickly approaching it.

The silence after the sudden or long descent for a world use to the blaring, whirring buzz of distractions will be deafening. People will have to hold hands in gigantic therapy groups, crying, trying in vain to get over the loss of their blackberries and ipads. "What are we to do?!"

Then a voice from outside the group will say, "Stop trying to distract one another. It's time till the soil."

Amen Earl.

And no kidding about the NFL games mastering the art of managing attention spans... which makes me wonder - how much "free-will" does a "consumer" have ???

how much "free-will" does a "consumer" have ???

Good question. Have you noticed during the games those annoying subliminal flashing ads shooting at the screen? They started that just this season at the beginning of and at the conclusion of each and every replay. They flash it at the viewer so fast you cannot independently decide if you want to view it or not - its already jammed into the subconscious somewhere. CNN, CNBC, all news stations use those now. I find it very invasive to force people to have something jammed into their minds. But to show us just how easily controllable people are, there is no protest or negative response by the populace. They just soak them up without a whimper.

A few years ago my wife and I were in a store looking for a product - I can't remember which one and there were of course many brand choices. Then I said without realizing what I was saying, "Well Johnson & Johnson is a name we can trust." We looked at each other and cracked up. That ad stuff gets in to the ol noggin, just like campaign ad money equates with number of votes received.

"That ad stuff gets in to the ol noggin,"

That's why I don't watch TV. It just gets in, and I don't want it.

Bobby McFerrin, that lovable musician, once said (wtte) that what you put into your head via your eyes and ears is just as important as what you put into your stomach via your mouth.

Word :-)

I do notice those things too.

I can't stand visiting people who leave the television on in the background, or who talk only during commercials - or more accurately, talk only during commercials that have not captured their attention ( to watch an adult's face go blank mid-sentence when a commercial steals their mind is literally sickening).

My 90yo grandmother has learned to turn off the television if she expects me to visit more than 10 minutes.

As someone who suffers from video hypnosis, imagine the horror of realising that *you* are the person who just went blank in the middle of a sentence.

TV is evil.



"Whisper it. Oil production in the US is increasing."

How about I whisper, "It's the same thing they said about Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico." Call me when they reach the peak level we hit in 1970. I won't hold my breath.

What I am sure is that we will try to burn everything, everywhere and eventually only animals and plants that are seen to directly support humans will be left. In a few hundred years we will have a population level less than 1 billion people and most of the "wild" animals will be pigs, cows, chickens, horses, draft animals, popular fish species, etc.

So, go right ahead and frack till you're blue in the face. The sooner we humans learn that we have to live in balance with nature, the better.

Whisper it: "BS production in the US is increasing."

Why are Americans in such a complete numbness state regarding their totally ridiculous volume based gas tax level ? Or regarding the plain lies that any candidate can spew about possible American future domestic oil production levels ?

By the way, are you also aware that Exxon is now moving onto Iraki kurdish oil (with proper help from blackwater/Xe for "security" aspects one can assume) ? :

Oh I realize that TOD has a pristine "technical facts" oriented "editorial line", but still ...

Did you know that the US went through its peak in 1970 ? Or are you still hoping it isn't the case ?

Did you know that the US went through its peak in 1970 ? Or are you still hoping it isn't the case ?

The Americans here at TOD all know it. That's why we're here. But most of the rest of the US doesn't understand the issue at all. Right wing nuts blame environmentalists blocking drilling. Left wing nuts think it's all a Big Oil Conspiracy. Most others just don't care that much.

I suspect the idea of a "peak" is something many Americans don't understand. I read somewhere that many Americans can't understand the extremely simple graphs that USA Today puts on their front page "Snapshots." We're talking very simple pie charts, bar graphs, and the like.

I've been wondering: it seems that the many illiteracy campaigns here in the U.S. were largely successful, and illiteracy is fairly uncommon here. I wonder if it's time to direct some of that energy towards innumeracy, which seems to be becoming quite common.

Yes maybe true for some but still, for knowing and having known quite a few it's clear that plenty of them can understand perfectly well, and the more I consider the thing, the more I think the missing point or message is much more US peak in 1970 than wondering whether global peak is past or future. It's already 41 years ago and the news hasn't been given yet ! (and the cover up around it isn't a myth at all).

Why are Americans in such a complete numbness state regarding their totally ridiculous volume based gas tax level ? Or regarding the plain lies that any candidate can spew about possible American future domestic oil production levels ?

Because people believe what the want to believe. If they want to believe something and a candidate says the same thing then it is validated as truth. No need for any hard real evidence. If you need further evidence just find a crackpot internet site that tells you about abiotic oil or how the Bakken shale will make the USA oil independent. Heck, the Chesapeake CEO said it too. Anyone that doubts it is just dirty lieberal!

And I know I post it all the time, but I can't help but laugh at this book of lies from the current GOP front-runner:

See . . . just drill more and prices will drop. It is that simple. BTW, I have a bridge that I'd like to sell you . . .

Edit: OMG . . . that bottom-right corner says "Includes a 'Drill Here Drill Now' bumper sticker!" I just noticed that.

If you are truly a right minded right-winger, you would buy the Mitt Miester's eBook instead

It's free and it gives the same sound chamber advice about energy as does the Newt's Nonsense Noise Newsstand pamphlet.
So why pay more?
It's simple econutmics.

Drill here
Drill now
Burn Fossil Fuels Baby, Burn.

If it's free, you should collect hundreds of the books and burn them in your fireplace to heat your house. It's a lot better than paying current high prices for fuel oil, never mind the prices you may have to pay in future.

spec - Interesting that although I live in a city with more petroleum geologists than the rest of the world combined I've never seen that bumper sticker on any vehicle here. In fact, not only don't I know anyone in the oil patch that read his book I doubt many even know it exists. And the few I know who have heard of it just shake their heads and smile.

But what do we geologists in Texas know: we just have a collective experience of over 100,000 years.

The Guardian uses the A word.

Climate deal: A guarantee our children will be worse off than us

Cleaning up the energy system that underpins the global economy is inevitable, sooner or later. If not, true economic armageddon awaits, driven by peak oil, climate chaos and civil unrest.

Hmmm. Still assuming that "the global economy" is the sine qua non and we just have to "clean it up".

Not really admitting that without the filthy fuels, there wouldn't be the "global economy" and all the rest. That the entire model has to change, not just a neat little substitution of Energy Source B (which would be what, one wonders).

Oh dear oh dear.

Re: Tajikistan: Energy Shortage Accelerates Deforestation


A few captions from your link:

Before the collapse I used to work for the road maintenance station. Because of the collapse the station does not have any money… Now this is it, there are no jobs… After the collapse the fuel ran out.

The main problem that we are trying to deal with now is the preservation of teresken (the scrub wood they are collecting for firewood) and the restoration of teresken grasslands. Teresken is very important, as a fodder crop. Secondly, because it preserves the degradation of the pastures. If we destroy the teresken this will lead to desertification. Desertification happens when the soil is eroded by wind and water. According to our research there are already 1200 hectares of devastated land in the Eastern Pamirs.

They are digging up the desert scrub wood by the roots because most of the wood is in the roots. But if they get enough electricity to cook with they will stop. Else the collapse will only get worse.

This is the situation most of the world will find itself in in a few years. We will cut down every tree and shrub for firewood. We will likely leave the world a desert.

Have a good day. Ron P.

The U.S. Forest Service handed out an unprecedented number of firewood harvest permits during the energy crises of the 1970s, many of them for free. I asked one of my buddies who used to work for the Forest Service if they were thinking about how another energy crisis might impact forest management plans due to a massive increase in firewood demand in a relatively short period of time. According to him, the local forest hadn't considered this possibility (I can't speak for others). Given peak oil, the larger population, the increase in the number of exurbs, and that firewood demand increased during a past energy shock, I was dismayed that the local forest wasn't, at the very least, making informal contingency plans about this.

On that note, I read an article in the paper last month about how sales at the local wood stove seller are brisk these days.

It seems to me that burning wood for fuel and heat will cause a huge air quality problem if done on a large scale.

Yair...Hello JDOFMEMI. Do you post over at HEF? Just ask'in.


Thats me. I post under the same name wherever my web travels take me. No need to hide under different names. I see you seem to make some of the same rounds I do.

Yair...but you always seem to be more diplomatic than I am...LOL


Yes, obviously, if done on a large scale, especially in areas that commonly have inversions in the winter. But in the right locales with the right equipment, not a problem and one more piece of the energy puzzle. No one, but no one, advocates that everyone in town burn wood. But where I live, the alternatives are oil or wood. I have a woodlot, and not much money. Hey, works for me.

I agree. This how I do it with small scale equipment:


No one, but no one, advocates that everyone in town burn wood.

Sgage, what people advocate hasn't a damn thing to do with anything. No one but no one advocated that Haiti strip their country of trees. It just worked out that way. No one but no one is advocating Africa be leveled for firewood.

When people start to use wood for cooking and heat because oil is unaffordable then all the advocators in the world will not hold the destruction in check.

When the world had less than one billion population then everyone could heat and cook with wood without destroying the world. But with seven billion people that is impossible. With two billion people it was impossible. A population of seven billion people was made possible only with the aid of fossil fuel.

The population rose as the consumption of fossil fuel increased. And the population will decrease as fossil fuel consumption decreases.

Ron P.

Yes, I know all that. I am an ecologist - a forest ecologist, in fact. And yet I still heat with wood. For a start, New Hampshire is not Haiti.

If I lived in a town that had natgas available, I'd probably go that route for heating. However, I live on 15 acres of hardwood forest that I own, in the middle of thousands and thousands of acres of forest, and burn 3-4 cords a year. That is a small percentage of the annual volume of growth on 15 acres around here, probably less than 10%.

But in any case, I wasn't responding to a posting about deforestation - the issue was air pollution.

Air quality problems are the least of the worries from using wood for fuel. All Haiti has been clear cut because the people cut the forest down for fuel. Deforestation in Haiti

Deforestation in Haiti is a severe environmental problem. In 1923, over 60% of Haiti's land was forested; by 2006, less than 2% was.

And soon Africa will look just like Haiti except there the tragedy will be multiplied because all Africa's forest dwelling wildlife will become extinct. Deforestation Threatens South With Famine

The trees are falling in Pool, and there are plenty of people to hear the sound. In a painful irony, the end of armed conflict in 2003, has signaled the wholesale devastation of forests in this southern region of the Republic of Congo.

The Congo is the main habitat of chimps and gorillas. They will all soon be gone.

Ron P.

And the biggest problem is that once a forest has been cut down you can't replace it, you can plant trees sure but it's inevitably a monoculture or at max a group of 4-5 species. The variety has been destroyed and only time can replace it, and guess what happens when a parasite strikes, the whole forest dies.

People complain that Rainforests are not productive, that their economic output is too low. Well guess what, nature doesn't work like your greenhorn MBA. Economic efficiency doesn't equal long term survival, sometimes you have to sacrifice efficiency to improve survival rates.

Curiously, one of the very few documents at FEMA re. fuel emergencies is a detailed document (90 pgs) on how to modify your vehicle to run on firewood.
It might have some application on farms, but is clearly an impossibility for most people.
FEMA/DHS and USDA really do need to get moving on some realistic planning for liquid fuel emergencies, as do authorities in Canada.
Wood gas generators won't cut it.


Hey, that's all we need. We won't just use wood for heating and cooking, now let's power our cars and tractors with wood. That way we can strip the whole continent of trees in only half the time. Then what will we do?

Ron P.

Oh, they'll think of something. They always do, right? Right? :-)

In my neck of the woods (Vermont at the time) in the 70's, the State Forests were making it very easy for people to cut their own. You'd get a permit (free) and a map where your block was, the blocks were clearly marked "on the ground", and the trees they wanted down were all marked. Good enough roads to get a full sized pickup right into the middle of the block. That's how my family did it for several years.

" We will cut down every tree and shrub for firewood. "

That is a reoccurring theme - that, and the disappearance of animals large and small (refugee food - "dormouse soup" anyone???).

Hope some soldiers come home with some stolen field guns and plenty of ammo so we can set one up on a hilltop and protect the local woodlands for a couple of miles around.;-)

More seriously by great luck we live in a heavily forested areas a considerable distance from any large city-too far to tote wood by hand for sure.

And I doubt if things get that bad that anyone will want to risk taking a horse and wagon to town-odds of having it stolen at gunpoint would be too high.

After a year or two, things would probably settle down somewhat and hauling wood to town might make good sense, if there is anything there to trade for it.

It occurs to me that existing paved roads will last a very long time once cars and trucks are few and far between-and when the pavement fails, the gravel road bed will still be there. Horses will literally be worth a good looking virgin bride at least, but building excellent wagons out of the detritus of the motor age will be easy as pie for anyone with the necessary basic tools.

Hacksaw blades will be an uncommonly hard to find barter item after a hard crash.Likewise "high speed" drill bits-which don't have to be turned at high speeds.

It occurs to me that existing paved roads will last a very long time once cars and trucks are few and far between...

I doubt that seriously. The asphalt can be pried up and burned for heat and cooking.

Ron P.

You certainly caught me asleep on that one,Ron!

But the road bed will still be there and most pavement has a good deep layer of crushed stone under it.

I doubt it. I've heard there is a 95% mineral content. Would be less work picking wood.

What...no cheery mention of Solar cookers. I am astonished

If somebody will post the actual formula for the parabolic curve, or even better the ordered pair (x, y axis) coordinates needed , I intend to build an insulated , covered solar cooker with the focus inside the collector bowl.It will be mounted on a post with dual action tracking.

I have spent a whole day looking for the formula on various websites.

I would like for it to be roughly a meter across and however deep it needs to be to put the focal spot a little above the half way point measured from the bottom center to the plane of the opening.

Once upon a time I might have been able to figure the math out myself, but it's been over forty years since I needed to do anything more complicated than a basic algebra or trig problem.

Thanks in advance!

I knocked down my experimental insulated wood stove-designed to cook with a minimum amount of wood, the only bare metal surface being the cook top.It worked very well, saving a lot of fuel, and it was very pleasant to cook on it in hot weather in the backyard.
Removing the insulation converts such a stove to a combination space heater and cooking stove.

If things go ok I will build another intended for permanent use sometime this winter.I will be glad to share details and results with anyone here via email.

y = a*x*x
and at x=1/(2*a) the height of the parabola will be the same as the height of the focus, so that will locate the focus at y=1/(4*a).
Hope this helps.
Choose A to scale the size of the system.

I have spent a whole day looking for the formula on various websites.

Then you have opted not to remember when I've posted Dwayne Johnson's http://www.redrok.com and the DIY solar site http://www.builditsolar.com/

The math is established for The Scheffler-Reflector http://www.solare-bruecke.org/ if you want a 'permanent' solution.

Try here for a simple way


I've been cooking a whole load of stuff on my Cookit, does things like rice and baked potatoes really well. I've been toying with some drawings for a Schefler design and one thing I have noted with it is that, at least for my latitude, there is a big variation in the light intercepted summer/winter. In the original down reflecting design the summer has about 70% of the collection of winter while the modified, upward reflecting design it is reversed. Rather than using a full parabola I am thinking about using an array of square mirrors like the ones someone posted here


Plenty of second hand mirror at the local Bazaar and I figure 4 sets of 9 20cm square should give me a good kW of heat. That would also spread the heat over a reasonable cooking area, it doesn't need to be focused to a point. For a heat catcher in an oven I am considering using extruded bricks that have a lot of small square holes running through them. Perfect for catching light, especially if painted black, and for storing up heat. With the light coming up from underneath a layer of terracotta tiles on top would make a good oven bed The only thing I am stuck on is a mirror to reflect the down beam up to a cooking station, it will be intercepting a lot of heat over a small area.


There is a method I was shown to very simply draw a Parabola of any desired size and focus. I do hope somebody will catch this if it's in error (and around here, I shouldn't have to worry..)

It requires just a straightedge and a right/angle.

Set the straightedge at the base of your paper or board, and define a Focus point above it at the desired Height. If on wood, it's useful to drop a nail into the focus point.

Laying one Right Angle 'Leg' (outside edge) against the Focus/Nail, and with the Corner Resting down on the Straight edge, progressively slide the corner away from Perpendicularity below the Nail, and as the other Rt Angle Leg lifts, trace the line defined by that edge at any number of intervals along the progression, and you will start to see the curve form from the intersections of this set of lines. The 'Actual' curve is at the tangent, not the intersection of these scribes, but I don't believe most Regular Breads or Cakes will know the difference.

If this doesn't draw a proper parabola, it's possible it gets one well on their way to pursuing a wild goose, in any case, which you can then cook in your regular oven!


That site just gave me a blank grey square when I looked at it yesterday, try the link I have posted above.


Works for me this morning. Put your cursor in the picture and it animates.

It is calling a Java Applet that does not like my setup and probably a few others. I put the other link up in case others had the same issue. There are a few other versions around if you google for drawing a parabola with pencil and string but be warned, some of the results are browser hangers. Here is another link


I'm sure OFM has plenty to work with now and will have no difficulties ;)


I have always wondered about that "solar cookers will save us" thing. They are nifty, no doubt about it. If you live in a full-sunlight climate most of the year (equatorial or near) and you like to eat starches that need long cooking (like rice), you can save a lot of fuel by using a solar cooker. But what if you live in a cold dark climate? When you really, really want a hot stew for dinner you probably don't have enough sunlight to cook one :-)

I'm not knocking 'em, they are great devices w/in their context. I love sunlight concentrators, whether biotic or optical. But as a magic bullet? not so much.

And another thing that has always piqued my irritable interest... why is it that wealthy Anglos are always cheerfully sending solar cookers overseas for Those People (mostly browner and less affluent, to say the least) to use, rather than switching to using them ourselves? Hmmm.

More reflector area. If you can get 4 hrs good sun then you are in. It may not do all the cooking for you but it can take a chunk out of it. I admit that living in the tropics I can cook around 350 days a year and more than I can eat but I still need other methods. One of my goals is to improve efficiency so that I can plug some of those gaps. I can't bake bread but I want an oven that can so I will make one. Early morning coffee may still be an issue though.


Re: China warns of risks without deal on Sudanese oil


Re: New Brunswick's Shale Exploration Stirs Opposition


Thanks for that, X
Mr. Tillman is worth listening to (12 mins).

Re: Saudi Manifa Oil Project to Cost $17 Billion, Aramco Says, up top.


This is for an old oil field (discovered 1950s from memory), in very shallow water (2+ m) in the midst of the world's largest oil production complex (no infrastructure or personnel issues) and no great rush to develop.

Kashagan Phase I is for $39 billion, for less than 400,000 b/day.

Non-depleting urban rail oil savings are competitive in $/barrel with Kashagan.

Best Hopes for Better Investments,


Kashagan Phase I is for $39 billion, for less than 400,000 b/day.

A former employer of mine was a partner in Kashagan. Never worked it myself, but one of the guys who worked on it told me that they realized (only after they started development) that it was a horribly complex carbonate reservoir, much more difficult to produce than originally expected. I believe several companies figured out the situation sooner, and bailed out early, a smart move if true.

I was also told that besides complex geology, there was a much worse (than usual) problem with local corruption, ranging from the highest levels of the local government down to petty theivery by the workers. The western oil company hands started referring to it as the "Cash-Is-Gone" project.

Brazil: 50 tons of corn stolen from moving train

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Police in Brazil's southeastern Sao Paulo state are investigating the theft of 50 metric tons (55 U.S. tons) of corn from a moving train.
A police report says the thieves greased the train tracks, making the wheels of the 54-wagon locomotive skid and slow down before they used a tow truck with a hook to remove the corn-filled containers.

Might we see more of this food stealing in the future?

Another oil tanker bankruptcy and all other oil tanker operators are sinking, too. Looks like the problem isn't contained to oil tanker operators with container shippers also sinking. Overall, $0.5 trillion USD in loans that may be defaulted on.

Saga of shipowners’ downward spiral

For the moment, Elliott Etheredge, head of Marine Transportation Investment Banking at New York-based Dahlman Rose & Co, says that “pretty much everybody” is in violation of some covenant in their loan agreement, either setting minimum ship values or maximum debt levels.

“We have debtors that are effectively in violation across the board, with asset values that are significantly lower,” he says. “So you have a tremendous amount of debt out there that’s coming due or needs refinancing. You have just a tremendous credit crunch.”

Can't figure out how to link to FT without being redirected. You can indirectly get through Yahoo Finance >LINK

Here's the link via Goggle that bypasses the paywall.

Saga of shipowners’ downward spiral

It doesn't bypass the firewall. A link doesn't do it. You actually have to go in via Google - search for the title in Google, click on it, and you'll get in. The link on its own doesn't work. They can tell you are coming from a site other than Google, and block you.

Right, and they could block you from Google if they desired to do so. I really don't know why they don't. Most paywall sights block even Google access.

Ron P.

They don't because it costs them in the search ranking system. Being able to charge for every pageview isn't much benefit if no one knows your page exists.

So a lot of paywalled sites do not block people coming in through Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Egypt's economic woes mount

... As holidaymakers head elsewhere, foreign reserves in Egypt have fallen from $36 billion at the beginning of the year to $20 billion.

By February, they are projected to fall to $15 billion, a level at which it will become difficult to pay for imports such as wheat, analysts say.

Egypt is the world's biggest wheat importer, buying about 10 million tonnes a year on international markets

... He said the energy sector was deeply indebted as a result of embezzlement and said the government needed to tackle its yawning budget deficit.

Urban areas grow faster than urban population

In the next 20 years, more than 590,000 square miles of land – more than twice the size of Texas, or roughly the size of Mongolia – will be taken over by cities. It's a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that could pose threats on several levels, according to a researcher from Texas A&M University, US.

Jimi Hendrix is not to my taste, but I'll link to the article anyway.

Study Says: EV Drivers Coddled, Flex Fuel Cars Discriminated Against

Bloomies says that the approximately 16,500 highway-worthy electric vehicles in the U.S. have a choice of 4,448 public charging stations, not counting the ones at home or at work. Bloomberg bases this on U.S. Energy Department data.

Doing the math, Bloomberg comes to the conclusion that this is one station per 3.7 electric cars. The 7.6 million alcoholic cars, the ones that can run on E85, get a raw deal. They have only 2,468 places to fill up if they want to fulfill their ethanol cravings. If they don’t find a station that serves booze, they have to go on the wagon and drink traditional gasoline.


Energy balance points to man-made climate change

The model predicts a global temperature increase of 0.51 °C since the 1950s, similar to the observed estimate of 0.55 °C. Greenhouse gases provide the largest contribution to this warming, responsible for a temperature increase of 0.85 °C, with approximately half of this greenhouse warming offset by the negative forcing of aerosols. On the other hand, the contribution of solar and volcanic forcing was close to zero.

Answer to the question re: aerosol cooling. Aerosols approx. = 0.4°C cooling.

The Wall Street-climate change connection

Think “climate change” and the companies that come to mind are oil giants like Exxon Mobil or BP – not JP Morgan or Bank of America.

But a new study by Urgewald, a German environmental organization, establishes a strong link between large multinational banks and the coal industry, one of the biggest contributors to climate change.

The study (.pdf), “Bankrolling Climate Change,” identifies the top 20 “climate killer” banks by the amount of financial support they give the coal industry. Number one is JP Morgan Chase, followed by Citi and Bank of America. That’s despite lofty rhetoric from these companies about their work to address climate change.

Together, the top twenty banks in our ranking provided over 171 billion Euros ($230 Billion) to the coal industry since 2005.

What they say ...

JPMorgan Chase: “Helping the world transition to a low-carbon economy
Citi: “Most innovative bank in climate change
Bank of America: “The most formidable challenge we face is global climate change
Morgan Stanley: “(…)make your life greener and help tackle climate change.”
Barclays: “Managing the climate change risks of our operations and those of our clients
Deutsche Bank: “Climate change is the dominant environmental issue of our time and one where we can make a significant contribution.”
Royal Bank of Scotland: “As a financial services group our direct impact on the environment in terms of climate change (…) is limited
BNP Paribas: “A strong commitment to combating climate change
Credit Suisse: “Credit Suisse cares for climate
UBS: “Addressing climate change on a global scale will require an unprecedented mobilization of private sector investments
Goldman Sachs: “Goldman Sachs is very concerned by the threat to our natural environment, to humans and to the economy presented by climate change

What they do ...

What they are doing is lining up to a Government protected/mandated market for their own profit.

70% of the spending on Carbon projects is not actually spent on the Carbon control. And for every unit of money spent on the acutal Carbon reduction - a unit goes to the banker class you listed.

Oh my, corporations lie to increase their profits.

The fall out between the US and Pakistan seems to be intensifying.

US vacates airbase in Pakistan

However, the closure of the base and the blocking of convoys, which is now into its third week, show the extent to which relations between the two allies had hit their lowest ebb since the US launched the war in Afghanistan ten years ago, coming at the end of a year during which Osama bin Laden was killed having been living in a Pakistan army garrison town.

Nearly half of all cargo bound for Nato-led forces runs through Pakistan. Roughly 140,000 foreign troops, including about 97,000 Americans, rely on supplies from outside Afghanistan for the decade-long war effort.

Edit: And this.

Nato training mission in Iraq on verge of collapse

Nato's training mission in Iraq was on the point of collapse on Sunday after the alliance failed to win assurances from Baghdad that its forces would be immune from prosecution.

NATO complains "if we can not kill and rape at will we will just go home na na". May be for the best.

Britian goes it alone on Europe.

Things get decidedly frosty between the US and putin's Russia.

US and Pakistan now.

US "losing patience" with Europe.

My my, how globalisation and foreign relation is going into reverse gear.

Good progress at Durban though I suppose. Theve all agreed to do nothing for another 8 years (no binding cuts until 2020) - hey that's progress!!


Nuclear giant Areva to post 'significant' loss'

French state-owned nuclear giant Areva is to announce significant losses when it unveils its new corporate strategy this week, Industry Minister Eric Besson said on Sunday.

Areva CEO Luc Oursel is to meet with investors on Monday to present the new strategy, which follows decisions by some governments to drop nuclear power after Japan's Fukushima disaster and which is expected to involve major job losses.

Besson said the losses could be pegged in particular to depreciation of assets, including the UraMin uranium mines in Namibia that Areva purchased in 2007.

He said he expected Areva to set up a "special committee" to investigate the deal that saw UraMin "bought at a very high (cost) level".

He also confirmed that Areva's third generation EPR nuclear reactors being built in Finland and in Flamanville in northern France would "cost much more to build than was expected".

Radioactive water leaked at second Japan plant

A Japanese nuclear plant leaked 1.8 tonnes of radioactive water from its cooling system, the government said, heightening safety worries as an atomic crisis continues at another plant.

The utility was not legally required to report the water leak, but the mayor of the small Genkai town hosting the plant voiced concerns.

Top China official urges more 'forceful' web controls

... With more than half a billion Chinese now online, authorities in Beijing are concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion in a country that maintains tight controls on its traditional media outlets.

And as the nation's economy loses steam amid financial woes in Europe and the United States, China's leaders are increasingly fearful of social unrest.

Large-scale strikes have hit China in recent weeks, as workers resentful about low salaries or layoffs face off with employers juggling high costs and slowing exports -- news that quickly spreads round the country via the web.

Keep the people in the dark

No "unrest" in the US which has web access so why should there be "unrest" in China?

Someone has likely mentioned this before, but the amount of uprisings in China has risen quite dramatically during the last decade. IIRC, at present the official statistics put the number of uprisings per year at just under 100.000 incidents. The uprisings are very quickly dealt with and the Party's all-encompassing propaganda apparatus play a vital role in containing these "mass incidents".

Incidentally, this trend coincides with the development of China's export-driven economy. Remember that China really began to morph into the factory of the world around the year 2000 or so. Since that time, uprisings per year have risen lock-step with the overall economic indicators of the country.

As I recollect from a few random articles, the uprisings are mainly of two kinds: popular outrage at gross pollution of air, soil and water (angry farmers, angry citizens, etc protesting because their water is poisoned, kids getting sick, cow died, whatever), and worker demonstrations against sweatshop and wage-slave conditions at the factories. The uprisings seem to be (or are represented by the central govt as) disconnected from one another, no coordination, no tendency to coalesce into a General Strike or other really powerful demonstration nationwide. Possbly coordination would be dangerous.

As to the recent concern about media/internet control: Maybe the Party is worried about the #Occupy phenom in N America?

From link up top:

Between 2008 and 2010, production rebounded by 800,000 barrels per day to 7.5 million barrels per day, and analysts forecast more growth to come. Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2017 production in the US could reach almost 11 mb/d

The 7.5 million barrels per day number appears to have the 7 and 5 reversed. Today's oil production is around 5.7 million barrels per day unless you include a bunch of non-oil liquids. And also there's no hope in hell that US oil production will reach 11 mb/d in five years like Goldman thinks, even if another Ghawar is found on US soil.

Daniel Yergin was on Fareed Zakaria's GPS program:


Podcast here:

Short segment. He basically just praised shale gas fracking.

Dan is expected on Sesame Street tomorrow.

He will help the Count count to infinity.

Can you say IN-FIN-ee-TEA?
Good. Let's all say it together.

thank you for that stepback... made my day

'OECD warns of economic uphill struggle next year'


For the foreseeable future it will be a "great challenge" for a wide range of OECD countries to raise large volumes in the private markets, with so-called rollover risk a big problem for the stability of many governments and economies, the article said.

The OECD says, according to the FT, that the gross borrowing needs of OECD governments are expected to reach $10.4 trillion in 2011 and will increase to $10.5 trillion next year - a $1 trillion increase on 2007 and almost twice as much as in 2005.

See that in the first paragraph- rollover risk? And with all these problems with high bond rates for the PIIGS, and in spite of austerity measures, look at the amounts in the 2nd paragraph that need to be borrowed. Shouldn't it be less, not more? Aren't they tightening their belts?

Look at the end of the 2nd paragraph - twice as much (borrowing needs) as 2005. Lower GDP is reducing govt. revenue, and the only solution the OECD govts can come up with is to borrow twice as much. And even at twice as much there isn't enough for all commitments, leaving most infrastructure fixes and replacement on hold, rusting for yet another year.

Without a significant reduction in the price of oil, this situation will only get worse. Rollover? Hmm, I wonder which govt. will do that first.

They still belive in eternal growth. The trick in a ressession has always been to borrow now and repay later. Why would this time be different?

You don't have to believe in eternal growth to believe that short-term government borrowing is the way out of the recession for the EU and U.S.
Borrow now and invest it in physical capital which increases resource efficiency, produces renewable power, or serves other long term goals. Use unemployed labor to: Weatherise houses, install solar water heaters, replace inefficient appliances and furnaces, eliminate oil heat, harvest fuelwood, sort solid waste for recyclables, plant trees, etc.