Drumbeat: December 17, 2011

Russia oil spills wreak devastation

USINSK, Russia—On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam.

This is the face of Russia's oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world's worst ecological oil catastrophe.

Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output.

Last U.S. troops leave Iraq

(CNN) -- In a final tactical road march, the last U.S. troops in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait on Sunday morning, ending almost nine years of a deadly and divisive war.

Oil-drilling rig with 76 aboard overturns in Russia's Far East

An offshore oil-drilling rig with 76 people on board overturned in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East, Russia Today reported Sunday.

Keystone pipe outlook no rosier after Senate vote

(Reuters) - Senate Republicans claimed victory on Saturday for a bill that may force President Barack Obama to make a speedier decision on a Canada to Texas oil pipeline, but a White House official indicated quick approval of the project is not likely.

Analysis: Brazil's oil boom could see its first bust

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's huge offshore oil wealth has been called a lottery jackpot, and each of the industry's contracts is another winning ticket. But even with a lucky stub in hand, some companies risk going broke before they can claim their prize.

Nigeria police fire shots at demonstration over toll roads; AP photographer beaten

LAGOS, Nigeria — Police shot rifles and fired tear gas at protesters who were demonstrating against toll roads on Saturday, and witnesses said at least one person was seriously wounded by gunfire.

Police officers also used batons to assault an Associated Press photographer who was covering the event. His camera equipment was taken before he was thrown into the back of a police truck.

IEC throwing iffy conditions into natural gas deal

According to contract if Tamar signs a contract to provide another company with gas for less, it would have to offer the same price to the Israeli Electric Company.

Make every effort to contain Fukushima crisis completely

It is very significant that Noda told people at home and abroad that work to deal with the nuclear crisis had entered a new stage.

The damaged reactor cores of the plant's Nos. 1 to 3 reactors are being maintained in a state of cold shutdown, meaning their temperatures are being kept at 100 C or lower, with contaminated water being treated and reused to cool the reactors in a circulating water cooling system. It is said the possibility of a large amount of radioactive substances leaking from the reactors is now low.

Top 10 peak oil books of 2011

Lots of books came out on energy, climate and the economy this year. Here are the best ones that integrate all three areas.

Welcome to our second annual list of the top ten peak oil books. Most of them are explicitly about peak oil, while others deal with energy depletion as a significant factor in the economy or the environment. A couple titles focus on responses to the myriad conundrums that Richard Heinberg has dubbed “peak everything” and that are now converging to create a perfect storm for global industrial civilization.

Pipeline caught in ‘death spiral’ of rising costs

A few years ago, the pipeline carried close to its capacity of 6 billion cubic feet of gas a day. Today’s average is more like 3.4 billion cubic feet.

But costs have not shrunk. Most of the pipeline’s costs are fixed: it’s expensive to built, operate and finance, no matter how much or how little is moving through the line.

The pipeline has always set rates by dividing its costs among its customers. When shipping volumes shrink but costs don’t, inevitably tolls go up.

Fees for using TransCanada’s mainline have soared 240 per cent since 2007, according to the generators. And as fees climb, even more customers flee the pipeline, leaving fewer to share the load.

Crude Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Drop Since September on Europe Outlook

Crude fell, capping the biggest weekly decline since September, on concern that European economic growth will slow, curbing fuel demand.

Futures dropped to the lowest level in more than six weeks after Fitch Ratings lowered France’s outlook and put nations including Spain and Italy on review for downgrade. Exports from the euro area dropped in October, led by declines in Germany and Spain, according to the European Union’s statistics office.

Refiners explore replacing Iranian oil

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian companies have begun talks with alternative suppliers to slowly replace Iranian oil, fearing their current mechanism for payments to Tehran for some 350,000 barrels a day (bpd) via Turkey could soon succumb to sanctions, industry sources said.

Plans for fresh U.S. financial sanctions on Tehran have worried its Asian customers who fear they will have no way to pay for crude imports from Iran.

Iraq oiling the wheels of Middle east commerce

WHAT happens to Iraq’s oil now US forces have left the country? Iraq hopes to increase production from the present 2.7 million barrels per day to 13.5 million by 2018.

That would easily top Saudi Arabia, the world’s top petroleum exporter, which pumps about ten million bpd. Current global demand is around 89 million bpd.

Fog Halts 92 Ships at Houston, Sabine Ship Channels in Texas

About 92 vessels are waiting to pass through the Houston and Sabine ship channels in Texas after fog hampered visibility, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and a pilots group.

The Future of Oil - 2010 to 2035

Now that we've seen West Texas Intermediate prices flirting with the $100 a barrel mark yet again and OPEC maintaining its production level at 30 million BOPD, I thought that it was time to take a look at the latest World Energy Outlook (2011) from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and see what they predict for the world's energy markets, focussing on oil, for the next 25 years.

Kazakh leader orders curfew after oil city riots

ALMATY — Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Saturday declared a 20-day state of emergency in a western oil city where at least 11 people have been killed in the deadliest outbreak of violence in the Central Asian state's recent history.

Panetta says Libya faces long, difficult transition

(Reuters) - U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told Libya's leaders on Saturday they faced a long, hard road in moving on from 42 years of one-man rule and uniting rival militias that still hold the streets in the oil-producing North African state.

East Coast pipeline dreams

Since President Barack Obama's recent politically motivated announcement to delay the construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, Canada has been highlighting and promoting other pipeline proposals to diversify its oil markets.

Enbridge Gas fined in deadly blast

Enbridge Gas and another firm have been fined more than $1.1 million for violations related to a 2003 explosion in Etobicoke that killed seven people.

Congress Approves Pipeline Safety Bill

A bill doubling the maximum fines that pipeline operators face for safety violations easily cleared the House and Senate this week along with other provisions intended to strengthen rules on oil and gas pipeline safety that critics have faulted as weak.

Transocean Asks Judge to Force BP to Indemnify Gulf Oil-Spill Damages

Transocean Ltd. (RIG)’s drilling contract with BP Plc (BP/) promised indemnification for damages from oil spilled below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and should be enforced for claims over the Deepwater Horizon accident, the rig owner told a judge.

Shell Wins Conditional Backing for Chukchi Plan

Royal Dutch Shell Plc won conditional U.S. approval for a plan to drill as many as six exploration wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea next year, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said.

Analysis - Costs, environmental risks may scupper Falklands oil

(Reuters) - Oil exploration by British companies off the Falkland Islands is irritating old wounds with Argentina, where sovereignty claims over the remote South Atlantic archipelago are as strong as ever.

Thirty years after it repelled an Argentine invasion of the Falklands, Britain is vowing to defend the territory and says it will only negotiate sovereignty or oil rights if the 3,000 islanders want talks.

But if commercially viable quantities of oil do lie near the Falklands, Britain and British firms may find the potential costs of pumping a big discovery - or worse, dealing with a spill - a high price to pay.

Fukushima’s Dismantling to Start as Cold Shutdown Announced

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the Fukushima nuclear reactors have been brought to a state of cold shutdown, a disputed milestone that will likely allow the return of some evacuees and eventual dismantling of the plant.

Toshiba Expects 63% of Energy Management Business From Overseas

Toshiba Corp., Japan’s largest maker of nuclear power plants, expects 63 percent of sales from its energy management business to come from overseas by March 2016.

Coal Industry Drive Against EPA Will Shadow Obama’s Campaign

The lung association has run about 2,000 commercials this year, at a cost of about $2.6 million; the coal industry has aired about 2,500 commercials, spending an estimated $3.8 million, according to data compiled by CMAG/Kantar Media, a New York based company that tracks political spending.

An Update on the Percent of Corn Crop Being Converted into Ethanol and Other Repercussions of the Corn Ethanol Program

Since we are near the end of the year, I decided to get out my calculator and look at the amount of corn being burned in our gas tanks, to see if it has changed much from last year.

It hasn't.

Nissan Leaf: Too subtle, too limited

Auto makers are all going green as rising fuel costs and global warming drive the change. At the forefront of these new green machines is the Nissan Leaf. It’s a zero-emission, all-electric mid-size car with no gas engine.

The Leaf flies under the radar. During my two-day test drive, I wanted a big, bold all-electric sign plastered on the exterior so other commuters could look in awe at my greener-than-green ride.

Incandescent Bulbs Spared by U.S. House in Victory for Tea Party Activists

The U.S. House spared the 100-watt incandescent light bulb from a government-enforced phaseout in a win for Tea Party activists over manufacturers who said they are already switching to more energy-efficient products.

Germany’s Renewable Output Beats Nuclear, Hard Coal in Power Mix

(Bloomberg) -- Germany produced more energy from renewable sources than from nuclear, hard-coal or gas-fired plants this year after boosting investments in projects from wind to biomass.

Renewables accounted for a fifth of the generation mix in 2011, up from 16.4 percent last year, the BDEW utility association said today in a website statement. Only lignite- fired output, with 24.6 percent, had a greater share this year.

Utilities in Power Squeeze as States Tie Mergers to Clean Energy

The surging pace of power-industry consolidation, with more than $31 billion in transactions pending in the U.S., is giving state officials such as Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley leverage to wrest more clean-energy investments from merging companies.

Solar Producers ‘Wary’ of Polysilicon Prices, Solairedirect Says

Polysilicon may be headed for a surprise recovery by 2015 that could push up the prices of solar panels, said Solairedirect SA, France’s second-biggest sun- powered generator.

Italy Approves One in Six Solar-Power Projects Seeking Permits

Italy’s renewable-energy regulator approved 507 commercial and utility-scale solar parks, or about one in every six projects seeking permits for the first half of next year, as spending limits curb market growth.

The War is Coming Home

All in all, the state is preparing to declare war against its own citizens – anyone who does not tow the party line and mindlessly chant “USA!” while serving the ruling classes will be officially declared an enemy. Why? Because the end of civilization as we know it draws nigh: as many of you are aware Peak Oil is coming and with it the end of this time of material abundance – the ruling classes realize that there’s only so much left to go around and now seek to maximize their share of the pie by simply cutting out everyone else!

Germany reaching out to young green scientists

BERLIN (AP) — Germany has given 20 young scholars from across the globe the chance to carry out research on climate change and sustainability as part of Berlin's push to get 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.

Texas approves plan assessing future water needs

Texas approved a somberly worded plan on Thursday that lays out where the state should spend $53 billion to cope with its water needs over the next half century, and warns that future droughts may mean not enough supply to keep up with growing demand.

German Minister Says Sustainable Economies Will Be ‘Winners’

Countries that make their economies more sustainable to help curb climate change will “be the economic winners” of the 21st century, German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said today.

Why Jews like climate policy

Fast forward to today and the nuclear-windsolar fantasy has been revived and at a far more fantastical scale, this time through global warming. Quite apart from their concern for the environment, Jews who want to protect Israel see in anti-global-warming policies a means to wean the West off Middle East oil, and reduce the influence of Middle East oil-producing countries on the West's foreign policy.

As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks

Edward A. G. Schuur, a University of Florida researcher who has done extensive field work in Alaska, is worried by the changes he already sees, including the discovery that carbon buried since before the dawn of civilization is now escaping.

“To me, it’s a spine-tingling feeling, if it’s really old carbon that hasn’t been in the air for a long time, and now it’s entering the air,” Dr. Schuur said. “That’s the fingerprint of a major disruption, and we aren’t going to be able to turn it off someday.”

Playing with fire: Obama's threat to China

The new policy was signalled by President Obama himself on November 17 in an address to the Australian Parliament in which he laid out an audacious - and extremely dangerous - geopolitical vision. Instead of focusing on the greater Middle East, as has been the case for the last decade, the United States will now concentrate its power in Asia and the Pacific.

"My guidance is clear," he declared in Canberra. "As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region."

While administration officials insist that this new policy is not aimed specifically at China, the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of US military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land - at whatever risk or cost.

. . . the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of US military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land - at whatever risk or cost.

Of course, this assumes that China will continue to lend us the money to maintain our military force, which we need to contain the Chinese.

I have previously wondered at what point that the Chinese may decide that the economic benefit they get from lending us money in order to buy stuff from them is no longer worth it, given our still high rate of consumption of imported oil, which increases the price they pay for oil. In addition, as noted above, one has to appreciate the irony of our potential adversary being our primary foreign creditor.

A recent news item:


"China has decided that real assets are better than broken debt fix promises and low interest rates," says Paul Markowski, president of MES Advisers and a long-time external adviser to China's monetary policymakers on global financial markets.

... one has to appreciate the irony of our potential adversary being our primary foreign creditor.

The silver lining for the US may rest in the logic, 'Bank lends you a thousand dollars and you can't pay it back, your problem. Bank lends you a trillion dollars and you can't pay it back, bank's problem.'

Although as your link suggests, the Chinese are leveraging their financial weight too. "But with a European debt crisis and the U.S. triple-A rating no longer a given, China's state investors have good reasons to push into new kinds of assets."

I think the US State Department should be a tad bit more worried that America's manufacturing base lies off-shore. 'You want those vital components for your fancy machines? - oh gosh, that latest shipment of microchips from Xiangshan is inexplicably delayed.'

westexas and others, what do you make of some the other assertions expressed in the same article?

Now, so the Obama administration has concluded, the tables are beginning to turn. As a result of China's booming economy and the emergence of a sizeable and growing middle class (many of whom have already bought their first cars), the country's oil consumption is exploding. Running at about 7.8 million barrels per day in 2008, it will, according to recent projections by the US Department of Energy, reach 13.6 million barrels in 2020, and 16.9 million in 2035.

Domestic oil production, on the other hand, is expected to grow from 4.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 5.3 million in 2035. Not surprisingly, then, Chinese imports are expected to skyrocket from 3.8 million barrels per day in 2008 to a projected 11.6 million in 2035 - at which time they will exceed those of the United States.

"Thanks to increased production in 'tough oil' areas of the United States ... future imports are expected to decline, even as energy consumption rises."

The US, meanwhile, can look forward to an improved energy situation. Thanks to increased production in "tough oil" areas of the United States, including the Arctic seas off Alaska, the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and shale formations in Montana, North Dakota and Texas, future imports are expected to decline, even as energy consumption rises.

In addition, more oil is likely to be available from the Western Hemisphere rather than the Middle East or Africa. Again, this will be thanks to the exploitation of yet more "tough oil" areas, including the Athabasca tar sands of Canada, Brazilian oil fields in the deep Atlantic and increasingly pacified energy-rich regions of previously war-torn Colombia. According to the Department of Energy, combined production in the United States, Canada and Brazil is expected to climb by 10.6 million barrels per day between 2009 and 2035 - an enormous jump, considering that most areas of the world are expecting declining output.

Is Al Jazeera being bullish on the West' energy prospects or is it merely mimicking the musings of US officials? Either way it looks like someone is putting an awful lot of faith in a rosy future of energy security that may prove illusory to say the least. If the West is counting on it to tame the Chinese behemoth, boy o boy, we really are in trouble.

According to the Department of Energy, combined production in the United States, Canada and Brazil is expected to climb by 10.6 million barrels per day between 2009 and 2035 - an enormous jump, considering that most areas of the world are expecting declining output.

Combined net exports from Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil* fell from 5.1 mbpd in 2005 to 4.0 mbpd in 2010.

Canada & Colombia were the only two countries in the Western Hemisphere on the top 33 net exporter list to show increasing net oil exports from 2005 to 2010.

*Brazil is a net importer of petroleum liquids, but the MSM seem to think otherwise, so I usually include Brazil on this list.

Thanks westexas. I kind of thought the anticipated figures for a big production jump were a tad bit on the unrealistic side.

Al-Jazeera didn't write that. It's an article by Michael Klare that was widely syndicated. (And yes, it was posted in the Drumbeat a week ago.)

Al-Jazeera routinely publishes syndicated news articles from the US. They don't necessarily reflect Al-Jazeera's views.

(And yes, it was posted in the Drumbeat a week ago.)

Sorry, whoops, I missed that. Al Jazeera's piece is old news then. Yes, Leanan, in all fairness to the network, it falls under "Opinion".

Michael Klare's cornucopian opinion is receiving wider redistribution. No wonder we have such a battle getting the story out. The rose colored glasses are rarely counterbalanced by fact checks. Misinformation is couched as information in op pieces on foreign policy which continues to get air play.

It's good to know that the oil sands, drill baby drill, shale oil, Gulf of Mexico, and Brazil's deep water will come to our rescue and allow us to prevail over the yellow peril. From those looking in from the outside, these ideas are dated (almost quaintly Victorian if they weren't so vulgar) but worse, self-defeating. If that is what is guiding players who articulate and formulate American foreign policy, then the days of America's hegemony are truly over - not by the cleverness of the enemy without but by idiocy within.

I have reasonable confidence - perhaps naive hope over experience - that the State Department is filled with bright intelligent people who have a good reading of the tealeaves before them. In other words that foreign policy is not being conducted half-cocked, but there is a game plan, grounded in reality.

Saying that Michael Klare's opinion is "cornicopuian" is not very accurate. Here are the titles of the last 4 books he's published:

Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York: Owl Books, reprint edition 2002).

Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004; paperback, Owl Books, 2005).
(with Peter Kornbluh)

Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, 2008, ISBN 9780805080643).

The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources, Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (March 13, 2012), hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN-10: 0805091262 ISBN-13: 978-0805091267

He's been warning about resource depletion for a long time!

The list of books is impressive, yes. He may have been warning about resource depletion for a long time. That raises more questions than answers. Why is he implying that energy security gives the West a competitive advantage over Asia in the game of hegemony? What's more, he seems to giving misleading information in pursuit of his argument. Is Mr. Klare singing to a different tune today? Has he bought into the party line?

Why is he implying that energy security gives the West a competitive advantage over Asia in the game of hegemony?

He's not. You may notice that he prefaced his statements about North American energy production with the statement...

Now, so the Obama administration has concluded, the tables are beginning to turn.

The conclusion wraps up Mr. Klare's opinion and show that he is not "singing a different tune" or "bought into the party line".

A new Cold War in Asia and a hemispheric energy policy that could endanger the planet: it's a fatal brew that should be reconsidered before the slide toward confrontation and environmental disaster becomes irreversible. You don't have to be a seer to know that this is not the definition of good statesmanship, but of the march of folly.

phreephallin, thanks for pointing that out. What's a bit confusing about his conclusion is that he doesn't name "resource depletion" or "competition over scarce energy" as the result of this march of folly, but the danger of "confrontation" and "environmental disaster". One can be a cornucopian and still be savvy of the dangers of international rivalry and/or green house gas emissions or pollution in general. If someone who knows little about Mr. Klare's background reads the article, one can easily miss that he is aware of the limits to energy security.

At least I did :-{

I finished reading the book "1421" by Menzies. In it the author says the Chinese sent an armada of ships world wide - literally - to drum up trade. The idea was that the Chinese would help stock up the foreign merchant ships with goods and even lend them money. The idea was that some ships would sink and the merchants would be on the hook for the remainder of the amount owed. The idea of sending the armada world wide was to get enough loans out that the Chinese would have a steady inflow of revenue. Not sure how they would collect from merchants who fleet of one or two boats if the boats sank or the merchant went into bankruptcy.

BTW the book purports that Magellan did not sail to discover Cape Horn but to **confirm** its existence. Thought provoking book with some South American DNA evidence referenced to support the research Menzies did for the book.

Peter, sounds interesting. Would you recommend the book? Does Menzies show any evidence, however slight, that the Chinese traders made it to Europe on their epic trip?

China and Europe have always known about each other. The great land distances and obstacles, however, made communications and the exchange of goods difficult and expensive. Sailing ships eased the burden.

The idea was that the Chinese would help stock up the foreign merchant ships with goods and even lend them money.

Pretty well sums up China today ;-)

There is no evidence yet that the Chinese went round the world, but it is well known that they had a huge armada and highly advanced naval technology for that age and time. Some of the wooden models still exist to date. However all of that was cut short when the emperor banned seafaring adventures. IMO just another evidence of religion/culture interfering with science and exploration in the orient. Even Jared Diamond mentions this in his book Guns Germs and Steel

China is no longer a buy of US treasuries; it is now a net seller. It is the Fed that is mostly buying treasuries by creating money out of thin air.

creating money out of thin air.

Oh, stop saying that. Here, we make our money the old fashioned way. We churn it!


It has been perfectly obvious to me for a long time that the Chinese would like nothing better than to be rid of most of their stash of Yankee electrons.The only reason they haven't simply dumped their dollar holdings is that they can't, because doing that would crash the market.

They have bought up every old scrap automobile clean up to end of the last grass lane path into the American backwoods.A big pile of scrap iron is a lot better investment than Yankee paper, and they know it..

When thshtf , the American business community is going to be laughing it's collective ass off, seeing that in effect they took our checks, which bounced like superballs, and that short of actually us physically attacking us, , they are going to have no recourse.

I just hope they are not yet militarily up to calling us out for an old West style showdown when the time comes.

I think you seem to be missing that they have bought up a weapon, already embedded in the american chest. As and when they decide they want to detonate it, by, say, the americans not paying back their debts, then they can collapse the ability of the US to play in the world market, and in particular the world oil market.

Hell, they are already buying into oil production in the american continent. While the US will attempt to strong arm canada and mexico, probably successfully, their reach will be limited and exports will preferentially go elsewhere.

You have to assume the US will have to get by on 10Mbpd post-crunch, and will have limited import potential at the same time. All China then has to do is wait and the US will be forced to draw in its military from global roles to deal with revolution at home.

China plays the long game and knows that to keep up their growth numbers they have to both move to domestic demand, and keep the oil flowing. They have their pieces in place to achieve this.

A bit on how monetary policy works.

Let’s start with a factory in China which buys physical inputs in dollars, pays labor in Yuan and sells the widgets it makes in dollars (all dollars are of the USD variety for this example).
They sell the widgets to Walmart and receive dollars in a US bank, say Citi. Some of the dollars are used to pay for the physical inputs; some are converted into Yuan to pay labor. Whatever is left however cannot be converted because the Chinese central bank only allows the Yuan to appreciate so much and the way that is accomplished is by limiting the number of Yuan which can be bought / USD which can be sold.

So now the factory is stuck with a bunch of dollars and they have a choice: because they are a commercial entity they are not eligible for FDIC insurance so the decision they have to make is : “should we accept the credit risk of Citi or should we buy US Treasuries?” Simple choice really. So now they are buying US Treasuries and roll them every couple of month.
Next, let’s assume that for whatever reason they decided to sell all their Treasuries. The dollar balance in their Citi account goes up and now citi notices that it has excess reserves. So at the next Treasury auction Citi will take the excess reserves and buy Treasuries. They pay the Chinese zero on their checking account and get something a little more than zero. In the meanwhile the Treasury just puts the bills/notes into an account which has a couple of different digits and can keep financing whatever just war needs to be fought.

The only way China can really get rid of the dollars is to exchange them for something tangible like, say Unocal. That didn’t work out so well. What you see going on with China’s other surplus, Euros, is that China has been very actively buying small engineering, manufacturers and design companies mainly in Germany. They tend to be small and therefore don’t pop onto the “national champion” radar screen.
One way china could fix the surplus issue is by letting the Yuan float freely overnight. A number of people in US politics have been pushing for this, seemingly unaware of one of the unintended consequences: a captive buyer of US Treasuries would disappear in relatively short order….


It's hard for me to imagine anything more tangible than a never ending stream of open top box cars loaded with shredded steel scrap destined for China.;-)

And we should have no doubt , if we believe in peak oil, that the true value of that scrap steel is headed nowhere but up, right?


Check out these Robert Preston reports:

How the West Went Bust (Episode 1 - BBC)

How The West Went Bust (Episode 2 - BBC)

Doesn't paint a rosy picture of the future. It talks about how westerners have lived beyond their means for 30 years. Preston even has some words about restructuring the global economy to re-balance the borrowing/saving equilibrium. No mention - not on the radar - of resource constraints.

Nobody asks if globalization is sustainable. Particularly a global economy based on cheap abundant energy.

and even if they stop funding the united states, it's not like we can contain them. they already have one air-craft carrier. and i bet you they are building 5 or more as we speak. to put it into a understandable analogy, and i am not equating the u.s. policies with theirs.

the united states is now the german war machine in early ww2 when the united states just entered the war. we like them have more advanced and more complex weaponry which takes longer for us to make. China is now where we were at that time. their stuff is less advanced, but easier and faster to make. by the time we knock out one of their 'sherman' tanks, two can take it's place. while if they knock out one of our 'panzer's' we will be lucky to get replacement before another two 'shermans' are finished and on their way. in fact it's worse then that, very few of our tanks. m1a1 abrims are made new anymore. when damaged or broken. they get shipped back to the states at great cost, to be torn down. broken parts replaced and the rest cleaned and refinished before being reassembled and sent back out. i seriously doubt in any serious conflict where we will be loosing a lot of them that we could without months if a year of lead time be able to replace whats lost with new ones. i seriously doubt the Chinese will allow us to retrieve the destroyed m1a1's to be refurbished.

Gary, Kiaser,

I didn't miss or overlook the point about currency and banking wars-I did say they would like to get rid of MOST of the dollars they hold.

I didn't say so, but I think about the same way as you guys do in respect to long term Chinese plans.

But so long as we avoid collapse from within, we are in no danger, as I see it, of the Chinese being able to invade this hemisphere at any time within the foreseeable future.It took the whole industrialized world, in essence, excepting the Marine Corp and half the American navy, to whip Germany.

We aren't going to fight a ground war with the Chinese;there is no where we could fight it, excepting in sand country, where the oil is.We are most definitely there "with the fustest and the mostest", and we have a nuclear deterrent that gaurantees nobody will xxxx with us directly unless they are willing to play one single hand for the table stakes.

We can almost for sure hold on in sand country until most of the oil is gone, when it will no longer be worth holding on-if we have the political will to do so.

We hypocritical mealy mouthed holier than thou westerners like to pretend that wars of conquest and real war, as opposed to police actions, are a thing of the past,which is understandable.The time to get up and out of a high stakes poker game is when you are the big winner.

Any war between us and the Chinese will be fought at long range with missiles, submarines, and both land and carrier based aircraft.A few space based weapons may be used too.Tanks and rifles will have next to nothing to do with it, except at the periphery perhaps.

I would not be too surprised if old Uncle Sam, in his future dotage, might not just decide that his only real chance of whipping an upstart but ever more powerful China might not just go for a first strike at some point over the next half century or so.

I've been giving some serious consideration to building a bomb shelter-I'm not bs ing.But at my age, it is probably a waste of time and diesel fuel.

You missed my allegory and took what i said literary. I used the ww2 tank as a example of the position we are in. it doesn't matter if it's ground, sea, or air. our equipment is expensive and takes a lot longer to make then what they can make. in any conflict the united states will be at a serious disadvantage despite it's more advanced hardware. we simply won't be able to replace what they knock down in a timely manner.

The generals are always ready to fight the last war. I doubt the next war will be any different and the best and the brightest will be completely unprepared for what comes. For example; if killing people and destroying infrastructure made no difference to the outcome what use the current military? Or a war where you are under attack, but don't know who is attacking you. A war where there are no targets.

Personally I think the main threat to the nation state is from within, as it is eroded by the elite to preserve their privileges and the 80% in order to survive. The military will do what it does; kill people and destroy things to no avail and make things worse for everyone. Everyone and everything will become the enemy to someone or other and engaged accordingly using a plethora of ways and means.

There will not be much if any problem replacing hardware the next time around if we go toe to toe with a major poweer-the fighting will be over in a day, or a few weeks at most.

It's true enough that you cannot occupy a place like Vietnam of Afghanistan at a reasonable cost in men and treasure-unless you were to simply decide to wipe the locals out, which woiuld be technically easy as pie but political cyanide.

But we aren't interested in the sand country in the sense of incorporating it into a permanent part of the "American empire".

We are over there to hold that ground only so long as the oil is still plentiful.

I agree the costs are gigantic, but the cost of NOT being over there, considering the score in the geopolitical game, would be immediate collapse.

Our oil habit is slowly bleeding us to death.But given that oil is the lifeblood of our economy, we would die immediately without our daily infusion of an extra ten million or so barrels above and beyond domestic consumption.

We are in effect buying some time-when the oil is finished, we will open out borders to as many Israelis as want to immigrate, and leave sand country to its rightful owners.

My guess is that the oil will be substantially depleted within another ten to twenty years-based on what I have learned here in this forum and by reading a dozen or so books about the energy industry over the last few years.If not, it will be so expensive we will have mostly learned how to live very little of it by then, assuming we are still living.

Could you recommend some good books from what you've read?

Start with Twilight in the Desert and the Prize.

I agree the costs are gigantic, but the cost of NOT being over there, considering the score in the geopolitical game, would be immediate collapse.

Our oil habit is slowly bleeding us to death.But given that oil is the lifeblood of our economy, we would die immediately without our daily infusion of an extra ten million or so barrels above and beyond domestic consumption.

Just seeking some clarity here, OFM. This sub-thread tracks back to talk of containing China. Implication is strongly about containing their interests in the resources the US covets/relies on. By 'over there', presumably you mean the Middle East? The implication of your comment then being that the US gets its extra ten million barrels per day from there. But that, of course, is not the case.

So where does the U.S. get the 9.67 million barrels a day of oil we import? It turns out our biggest suppliers are North American neighbors.

OPEC: 4.67 MBD
The Persian Gulf: 1.67
Non-OPEC: 5

Canada: 2 MBD
Mexico: 1.2
Saudi Arabia: 1
Nigeria: 1
Venezuela: 0.82
Iraq: 0.33
Angola: 0.30
Brazil: 0.27

From here

I'm sure Darwinian or someone else can provide an even better, primary, source. But the point holds - the US imports less than 2 mbd from the Persian Gulf, and less than 5 mbd from OPEC. I don't disagree that the US would be in a world of hurt if even those Persian Gulf imports disappeared. But, basically, I'm just trying not to perpetuate the notion that the US is solely, or even primarily, reliant on the Middle East for its oil imports. Just ask RMG who's most important to US.


You are correct in your assessment of how a conflict would be fought between the U.S. and China. Add Cyber-warfare and you will be more correct.

However, I have, do, and will sleep like a baby every night wrt not worrying about going to war with China, and Russia also.


The business of the World is business, and the Multi-polar players will manipulate their proxies, and in fact, the non-U.S. major players will be happy to continue to let the U.S. be the dupe and play World Cop and attempt to impose Pax Americana. Good for their bidness.

As for large-scale conventional wars, North Korea may blow up, and that could be nasty, but no more so than for the NK folks. China will /Not/ stage a reprise of crossing the Yalu to engage the U.S.

'The West' will get NK eventually, and China will get Taiwan eventually, and neither will screw with the other in each case. My opinion, but I feel I have a good basis for estimate.

Russia, China, India, and Pakistan have each other to fret over...If I were you, I would not waste your precious time alive by building a fallout shelter...but...your choice.


In the short to medium term time frame, I agree wholeheartedly with you that war between the current major powers is not at all likely,barring some incredibly unfortunate accident.

But when Chinese and American politicians have to make the choice politicians have to make the choice sometime later on between imperialism and austerity on the grand scale, I have little doubt that American politicians will find it easier to sell a fight than austerity.

I have no intuitive grasp of long term Chinese intentions, but my guess is that they are as much at risk of a militaristic faction coming to power as any other large autocratic country, and I do know that while it is small by Yankee standards, the Chinese MIC is a healthy and lusty toddler that is growing fast.

My take on the fact that they have no extensive history of waging wars on "outsiders" is that China herself is and has been historically a large enough "country" that it is arguably true that they have been too busy fighting among themselves-the various historical factions there have been bigger than most countries in other parts of the world.

It could be therefore that they have never really felt the expansionary itch, but with power and prestige there comes an ever greater desire for ever more power and prestige .

If things continue on along the current path for a decade or two longer, they will have the wherewithal to scratch any expansionary itch that might bother them.

But in the end, I am hoping that Westexas's MADOR comes into play , and the old MAD theory continues to hold true.

If such is the case, the world will look a lot like it does in antiutopian novels such as 1984.

They have historically done agreat deal of meddling on their periphery, particularly Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. Xingiang is not ethnically Chinese, and is restive. But, I agree, if you aren't close to one of thier borders, or get so upset about what they do in their near-abroad, you should have no problem.


Anyone worrying about a Chines 'Red Dawn' or even Chinese flotillas and troops in the Western Hemisphere is misinformed and letting their imaginations run wild.

OFM, that was not directed at you...I am afraid there are other folks out there who will see a Chinese behind every tree...

I would not trade U.S. and China's places for anything. Their environmental conditions will go from bad to horrible.

It is the Ruskies who need to worry about the Chinese walking across their border and essentially annexing over time the Western lands of Russia.

MADOR? I do not know that acronym, please clarify if you have a chance.

Personally, I think that when we talk about China doing this that and the other militarily ten or even better, 20 years from now, I have to wonder where they will get the oil from? Sure, they can build a limited # of nuke navy ships, but everything else in a war machine needs oil.

I will buy the 1984 prediction...

Rockman's Mutual Assured Distribition of Resources. Makes me chuckle every time I see it. Pure genius!

It is the intellectual property of our frequent contributor Westexas, so far as I know, which is why I attribute it to him .

It stands for Mutually Assured Distribution of Resources.

I am green with envy that I didn't think of it myself!

His theory in a nutshell is that we Yanks and maybe a few European friends will control the Western hemisphere, and the Chinese will control the Eastern, and that it will not be to the advantage of either side to interfere with the other.

It has a very good chance of proving out in my opinion.It might be the best we can hope for.

mac - Actually my invention. And it's about MADOR divided between the US and China. Each country can exert considerable control militarially but more importantly, economically. And in the process throw any allies under the bus if that's what it takes in the effort to maintain BAU. For instance, one day the US might decide to "bring democracy" to Equatorial Guinea. Of course, in apprciation, the new EG govt would start shipping all their oil to the US including the 50% they ship to the EU today. And China won't interfer since they have their hooks deep into Angola just down the coast.

No EU country would go against us militrally to stop our EG ploy nor be able to go against China financially in their Angolan effort. A rather symbiotic relationship: the US economy survives and buys imports that once went to the EU and China continues to loan the US money since we are the stronger and more stable economy. In my goofy model the world evolves into two super powers: a super consumer (the US) and a super producer (China). As long as both have access to sufficient energy they coexist peacefuly. I'm sure it will cause great distress for us to watch our former allies and trading partners suffer but I'm equally sure we'll overcome our grief and carry on just fine. Of course, it's not likely the MADOR protocol isn't sustainable either in the long run.


I think Viet Nam and the Afghanistan debacle pretty much indicates that the US can't hold its' own weenie, let alone substantial time and property, overseas. There is absolutely no guarantee that US will get Iraqi oil, or anyone else will get it if the infrastructure continues to be attacked. Furthermore, a move on Iran will pretty much invite something scorched to the Northwest. The lessons are there...unless you exterminate the population and re-populate with your own, as was done in US North America, a determined foe will whittle the big stick down to shavings over time.

It is someone elses land and resources. Trade works quite well with a mutual sense of respect between parties. But to assume you have it locked up with an expensive armed force, and that it will stay locked up on the other side of the world, is hubris....pure and simple. It is also stupid and a complete disregard of history.

Of course the American fighting force is the best in the world, no one disputes that. Of course the gadgets and guns are the finest money can buy. The only problem is US doesn't have any money anymore, or much time. Hillary can stand up before the cameras and pontificate, but when you look close you just see another old wrinkled up insider acting like a big shot. No wonder Colin Powell didn't stay with politics. He probably went home and puked at the very thought of it.

Obama? Sheesh. Decision makers? Who are they? And electing a Commander in Chief from a financed puppet brigade? A comment I read the other day said, "what hope has a country that would even entertain the thought of electing a president named Newt"? Or, the raging debate among the believers of Noah and hell....is Mormonism a real religion or a cult? Could we really vote for a Mormon? If this was in a novel no one would believe it could be true. These people are crazy with nuts on top. The only hope is a collapse that destroys this debacle and forces a new way to live upon everyone.

Time to stick a fork in the whole damn mess.

Well, my rant is done. I think I feel better.



Something is out there that has TPTB frightened. Between NDAA, SOPA, FEMA, Northcom and a variety of executive orders all the "legal" and "practical" ground work has been laid for martial law. It is my belief that governments do not take these kinds of actions without cause.

There is something major in the background that we are not aware of and, certainly, not being told about. It could be Iran or a total collapse of the financial system. In any case, people should be afraid, really afraid. And, yes, they should be prepared. Mac's fallout shelter might not be that bad an idea - at the very least it could be used as a cold cellar in the mean time.


The mainstream UK Daily Mail (or Daily Scare) suggests readers should be stocking up now.

Stocking up for Doomsday: As economists predict meltdown, meet the families ready for the worst

Picture the scene: It’s the end of January 2012 and already it is clear the year to come will make that which has just passed seem something of a picnic. The last strains of Auld Lang Syne had barely faded before Greece defaulted on its debts. Over the next few weeks, Italy and Spain will follow.

Across Britain and the Continent, bank after bank goes down, a domino effect exacerbated by panicking customers desperately withdrawing their savings. Where three years ago the giants of High Street banking were seen as too big too fail, now they are too big and too many for any Government to save.

Panic ensues. Within hours, the cashpoints are empty of money and the supermarket shelves stripped bare.
Siege mentality: George and Karen Shaw have enough food to last them a year

To make matters worse the country is hit by freezing weather. As temperatures plummet and snow falls, the road network stalls to a grinding halt, while large swathes of the country are hit by electricity blackouts.

The warning by economists that Britain is just ‘nine meals from anarchy’ is brutally borne out. Unlike last summer, the rioters on the streets aren’t looking for trainers and flat-screen TVs — just food.

An absurd fantasy? Perhaps so, but in an increasingly uncertain world, such a scenario can no longer be dismissed out of hand. And strange as it may seem, it’s one that many believe is worth preparing for.

Do you want some WikiLeaks conspiracy theory with that: http://www.ethics.org.au/ethics-articles/wikileaks-has-not-gone-far-enough

"Assange cited research suggesting the existence of more than 900,000 top secret security clearances in the US, implicating one in every 300 citizens including children as evidence of the secret network. And further proof, for Assange, that the shadow state is gaining power is in the 6% funding increase for the US military complex despite overall tax revenue dropping 20% since the global financial crisis."

Thanks for the link.

You may need high level security clearance just to go in, as a contractor, to do a maintenance job even if it is just building a wall. It doesn't just make you a part of the network.


It is a mere quibble Mac but I doubt that General Bedford Forrest ever said "with the fustest and the mostest" my reading of that most interesting of persons is that he was too well self educated to have said such a thing, although his dabbling in wizardry were not so benign. Please forgive this Brit for touching on so sensitive a subject. For the rest I am in very broad agreement.

Concerning Bunkers, I see no reason why you cannot build a very cheap effective bunker. Shipping containers will become very cheap when world trade drys up. I think you mentioned a couple of months ago that you had a delightful plaything called a back hoe. How many gallons of diesel does it take to dig a hole, it doesn't have to be completely underground cover it with good quality plastic and cover it with the earth you dug out of the hole and you should have a reasonable bomb proof bunker, which would double as I think you call them in the states a root cellar.

I don't know the answer in respect to the quote.

It could be that he did say something along those lines a bit closer to the "king's English", which was later repeated by some of his unlettered troops as I rendered it.Such mangled quote's are not uncommon and once repeated a few times in newspapers and books they take on a life of their own.

I enjoy the old literature ans stories but there are no Stars and Bars on our premises, and only a very few to be seen in the back windows of young rednecks trucks.It's probably been a year since I last saw one locally.

Faulkner I believe it was who said the past is never past but still the present in the south, paraphrased, which was true in many ways until well into the twentieth century.

But there are no longer any grandfathers left to tell the stories told to them by their own daddies.When I was a kid, I heard some stories of that sort, second hand, from my own great grandparents, who got then from their own mommas and daddies. It's too bad I didn't write them down, as they are now lost.

Southern boys of my generation grew up listening wide eyed to stories told by parents and grandparents about kicking German and Japanese butt for Uncle Sam .

Forrest was noted for being a nimble campaigner and he was quite successful but like all the other good southern commanders he never really had a chance in a war of attrition.

The dialect as quoted has never had quite the right ring to me, but it WOULD be just right for a gruff old Grandpa telling exaggerated tall tales to a young grandson about his glory days spent kicking yankee butt with the general.

The Chinese are busy trying to field the former Russian Varyag (Kuznetsov-class)aircraft carrier soon, and I am pretty sure they are not currently building any of their own-design aircraft carriers, let alone five new carriers!

Their cruisers and destroyers are to show their flag and give us something to track and fuss over ...their real strength is all their diesel-electric subs (~50, their small/fast missile patrol boats, and their landing craft, all which will be under the cover of several thousand land-based air craft and many hundreds of short/medium-range ballistic missiles.

China wants to protect its 'Taiwan Option', and wants to project power and even exercise sea control between the straights of Malacca, down to North of Australia, and out to/past the 'Second Island Chain'. To be fair, who would begrudge the U.S. wanting to exercise sea control in the GOM, the Pacific out to ~ Midway/the Aleutians, and over the Atlantic.

China is a top-tier country in terms of population, industrial capacity, etc...we need to accept that they will have a measure of military power in their sphere of influence. We might as well yell at the tide to stop coming in!

I do not assess China of being desirous of putting their boots on the ground around the World...put another way, they are much more saavy than we have been the past couple of decades.

China has been around in one form or the other for thousands of years...they will end up 'reunifying' with Taiwan at some point...and we are not going to stop them...it will go down like Hong Kong and Macau...some day.

On our side of the fence, many folks I know (who are multi-decade military vets and have Koean wives to boot) think that North Korea will unify with the ROK at some point.

One piece of advice: Never get involved in a land war in Asia!

To add to that the Chinese aren't fooling around showboating in their aircraft carriers, they know all too well that the age of heavy battleships and aircraft carriers is over, it's the age of missiles now. Their lone aircraft carrier is basically an expensive instrument to shore up morale, that's all.

They were the first to develop supersonic anti-ship missiles(Dong Feng 21) and they have dozens of them, if a conventional war ever breaks out(highly unlikely) all those aircraft carrier groups will become artificial reefs for the fish.

The Chinese have one at sea, are likely building two more conventional, and possibly two more nuclear.



Thanks for the link.

We shall see how these wishes hold up under reality.

I agree with WiseIndian...more and more, carriers are targets.

Heck, that was true back in the 80's when the U.S. had fantasy disco plans to steam carrier groups right up off of Murmansk to do battle in the lions den.

I have heard tell of many a pic of U.S. carriers through a periscope of U.S. subs during out own exercises...close range, undetected.

Add the threat of supersonic sea-skimming missiles from aircraft (Japan, Vietnam, etc).

China will have plenty of internal problems to occupy it and check it from any plans for World military domination.

2/3 of the globe as seen from Beijing is water. It's surprising they don't already have a substantial navy.

I think I know what all that US scrap metal is going to be used for.

The world centred on Beijing

And the aircraft do not have to be manned - just controlled by man. Drones are cheap VS human flown craft.

I think people are reading too much into this.

The U.S. and Australia have been on the same side in six wars in less that 100 years. There are far worse uses of a few thousand U.S. military men and women than to have them training in the deserts of Northern Australia.

Not to mention that they've worn out their welcome just about everywhere else; no place left to go ;-/

Azerbaijan crude oil production dropping fast.

November’s oil production in Azerbaijan declined by 6.6%

Compared with October, this November’s oil production in Azerbaijan decreased by 6.6%. This year crude oil production by all producers in Azerbaijan still totals 314.855 million barrels against 379.2 million in 2010, 375.807 million barrels in 2009 and 332.07 million barrels in 2008.

The State Statistics Committee (SSC) informs that as of 1 December 2011 the country produced 42.205 million tons of oil that is by 10.2% less than in 2010

Here is a chart of Azerbaijan oil production according to Jodi, in thousands of barrels per day. The Last Jodi data point is September 2011. This report gives monthly production from January 2011 thru November 2011.


Ron P.

Azerbaijan was one of only 11 of the (2005) top 33 net oil exporters* to show increasing net oil exports from 2005 to 2010. Two of the other countries showing increases from 2005 to 2010: Iraq's net exports were flat to down in 2009 & 2010, relative to 2008, and Russia's net exports have been flat since 2007.

*100,000 bpd or more of net exports in 2005, total petroleum liquids, BP + Minor EIA data

If you look at the chart above the decline is far greater from September to October than from October to November. But if you use their data without adjusting for the one fewer days in November then the decline is 6.6 percent.

The country produced 3.25 million tons of oil in November versus 3.48 million tons in October, 3.7 million tons in September...

But actually the "barrels per day" decline was only 3.6 percent October to November. The decline from September, in barrels per day, was far greater, 9.9 percent. Actually in the above chart I had the "This Report" January and March numbers slightly wrong because I used 30 days instead of 31. But that did not change the chart very much. Here are the correct numbers in thousands of barrels per day according to the official Azerbaijan web site.

Jan-11	961
Feb-11	1,004
Mar-11	965
Apr-11	925
May-11	957
Jun-11	944
Jul-11	895
Aug-11	942
Sep-11	900
Oct-11	819
Nov-11	791

They are down 213 barrels per day or 22.2 percent just since February. Remember this is Baku, which has been producing since early in the century. Hitler captured Baku during the war for their oil. They dramatically increased their production with water and steam injection starting in 2005. But now it looks like they have hit a production wall.

Wikipedia Megaprojects doesn't have much coming down the pike for Azerbaijan either, 100 kb/d in 2013 and 200 kb/d in 2015.

Ron P.

OK I guess February will be a great month ;)

Unless decline is temporary the investment in Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline seems really bad.

The first oil that was pumped from the Baku end of the pipeline on 10 May 2005 reached Ceyhan on 28 May 2006.

A year and 18 days for oil to traverse the pipeline?

the operation of pipeline requires 1,000 long-term employees across a 40 year period.

At that rate they won't be able to pay the hired help, especially when the oil from Baku starts to dwindle. But you can bet there won't be enough oil to keep them employed for 40 years. I expect some of them are already looking for other jobs. ;-)

Ron P.

I'm sure you are being sarcastic, but jut to keep everybody straight, the oil travels at about 4.5 MPH. Or about 10 days start to finish.

Must have had some problems with initial fill.

I was, and knew that they would get their initial problems fixed. But the 40 expected lifespan of the pipeline is a joke. Not that it could not last that long but those old giant fields, now pumping with the aid of water injection, will be depleted long before that.

Ron P.

Must have had some problems with initial fill.

I vaguely remember a story about the pipeline thru Ukraine, the Russians claimed they sent gas thru the pipeline but Germany did not receive ;)

Kudos for the great info, as usual.

Just acouple of historical bits. Hitler never got to Baku, he stopped at Stalingrad on the way and lost the war instead.

And, of course, you meant "early in the 20th century".


Jjhman, thanks for the info. I was misinformed. I saw a documentary with some of Hitler's men presenting him with a cake with a derrick on top and the letters BAKU on it. I guess they were a little premature. ;-)

And yes, for the century I meant the previous century. I just haven't gotten used to the idea that we are now in another century.

Ron P.

I know what you mean.
It's taking me longer than the Baku pipeline.
What with depletion and that.

I read somewhere that Hitler is supposed to have said "without Baku we lose the war"

Every time things started to go bad he'd say something like that. Then forget it a month later when the next crisis hit. He lost the war in 1941 when he didn't get the knockout blow against the Russians in time. Or possibly even sooner, when he attacked them in the first place. Crazy things he said afterwards notwithstanding.

I saw those images to. But still, the Germans never got there. I guess they were, as said, premature. They thought the way was open...

Occupy the Food System

"The disparity between the top 1 percent and everyone else has been laid bare -- there's no more denying that those at the top get their share at the expense of the 99 percent. Lobbyists, loopholes, tax breaks... how can ordinary folks expect a fair shake?

No one knows this better than family farmers, whose struggle to make a living on the land has gotten far more difficult since corporations came to dominate our farm and food system."

I can't help but wonder what the food transition will look like, once fossil fuel inputs start failing. If there is a rationing system which develops, will agribusiness be at the top of the list ?

I am certainly no conspiracy theorist, but when I read the link titled "The War is Coming Home", above, I get the feeling TPTB are getting prepared for something.

Sadly, this is simply institutional behavior. Once we decided to create a Homeland Security system, its inexorable growth was in the cards. A trillion dollar industry must grow.

Finance, agriculture, pharmaceuticals all exhibit the same growth behavior. Let's face it, if we ever cured cancer, half the hospitals in the country would go broke. National security is no different. It's going to expand into everything. It's past the point of constraint.

Spring, re. "I can't help but wonder what the food transition will look like,... I get the feeling TPTB are getting prepared for something.


The Windup Girl,by Paolo Bacigalupi

Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson (AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand) combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories.

...in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency?

What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution?

In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of The Calorie Man; (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and Yellow Card Man (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.

This is one of the finest "post peak oil" sci-fi yarns that I have read. I highly recommend it!

Another vote here for Windup Girl (and PB's excellent YA novel, Ship Breaker). A gripping read -- almost like William Gibson had got over his love affair with computers and VR and taken a course in global ag economics and intelprop law.

Way scary, tres noir, impossible to put down.

Sounds like one to add to the reading list. Thanks !

I ran across this book review on Salon, and the first book 'Soft Apocolypse' is cited as being similar in nature to 'The Windup Girl'.



It largely takes place in U.S. Georgia post 2023...perhaps Gail and other Ga-area denizens would appreciate the setting.

I bought 'The Windup Girl' for our family Kindle....will start to read it...

Rather than the 1% vs. the 99%, it is more accurate to say the top 10% vs. the bottom 90%.

Edward Wolff on US wealth and income distribution.

The next 9% below the top 1% of US households by wealth and income receive approximately the same amount of total US income and own the same amount of financial wealth as the top 1%. The top 1-10% receive nearly half of all income and own 85% of US financial wealth. The household income for the top 10% is around $140,000-$150,000 and above.

To a large extent, the second 9%, or the professional middle class (PMC), benefit disproportionately in comparison to the bottom 90% in that they receive income and gains to financial wealth from the increasingly financialized economy of the US since the '80s.

Specifically, the PMC disproportionately receive wage/salary, fee, bonus, dividends, interest, and capital gains income from the finance, real estate, and insurance (FIRE) sectors, as well as the increasingly financialized "health care" and ancillary sectors. Insurance firms effectively monetize future labor product of the bottom 90% by way of charging deductible insurance premia (a kind of tax on labor product the business collects for insurance companies) to businesses in order to support an industry that has grown at twice the rate of private GDP (GDP less all gov't spending, including personal transfers) and is now 17% of GDP and effectively 27% of private GDP. It takes 27 cents of every dollar of private US output to support public and private "health care" spending.

Similarly, the "educational" sector is indirectly supported by the increasing financialization of the US economy in that the top 10% generally possess the necessary resources to afford post-secondary tuition and fees, fund endowments, and contribute to alumni outreach to keep the system going. As those in the second and third deciles of the wealth and income distribution attend post-secondary education in larger numbers, they encounter increasingly unaffordable "education" costs and thus must borrow from future after-tax labor product to earn a credential. This further exacerbates the high costs and reinforces the increasingly financialized nature of the US economy.

Effectively, the bottom 90% owe the top 10%, which in turn means that financial wealth is further concentrated by the second- and third-order Pareto distribution such that the top 0.4-0.8% possess or control by way of minority ownership and of collateralized tranches half to two-thirds of US financial wealth.

The existence of the financialized division of labor and associated income and wealth distribution is reinforced by the second 9% and their self-identification with the values of the top 0.4-1%. The PMC do not generally self-identify with the struggles of the bottom 90%.

Thus, it is unlikely that a movement by the bottom 90% will succeed in "reforming" the grossly inequitable income and wealth distribution in the US until the second 9% (1) are challenged directly by the bottom 90% to abandon their self-identification with the top 0.4-1%; and/or (2) a growing share of the second 9% suffer a durable threat to their socioeconomic well-being to the extent that they voluntarily turn against the top 0.4-1%.

Rather than the 1% vs. the 99%, it is more accurate to say the top 10% vs. the bottom 90%.

I would argue that it is more accurate to say the top 0.1% vs the bottom 99.9%. Earning a household income of $150,000 doesn't make you rich. If both husband and wife went to college and have full time jobs, it is not a big deal to earn $150,000. It is not even adequate anymore if you have a couple of kids and you want to pay for their college and you want to save for retirement.

The top 10% or even the top 1% (excluding the top 0.1%) don't earn significant amount of capital gains or dividends. The top 0.1% does. This is the class that includes hedge fund managers, investment bankers, upper management and CEOs, etc. They are the ones who have benefited from the financialisation of economy.

I think its a bit broader than you think. $150,000 per year is probably 6-7% ile from the top. Most families at that income range have $1M or more of financial net worth. I think to crack the top 1%, icome level takes at least $300,000 per year, and probably at least 3-4M of net worth. In any case, the amount of financial assets of the t-10% is substantial, even if 2/3rds of that group don't have enought to give up working for a living.

Wealth is more, not less concentrated than income. The idea that the typical person making $150K has $1M squirreled away is squirrely (maybe at retirement age). In 2007, the top 1% had 43% of financial wealth (net worth minus home equity), the top 5% had 72%, and the top 10% had 83%. It took about 1.2M in assets to be at the bottom of the top 1%. The average wealth of the 90-99th percentiles was 1/10th of the top 1%. The 80-90th percentiles had 10% of the financial wealth or an average of 1/4th of the 90-99th percentiles. The other 80% shared 7% of the financial wealth.

As of 2000, a study indicated 91.9% of the population had inherited or would inherit nothing of monetary value. 98.4% stood to inherit less than $100K. 99.4% would receive their entire inheritance. Only 0.6% would have their inheritance reduced by estate taxes.

A family whose been making $150K for more than a decade... Probably saving $20K per year in the 401k (with some employer match), and have home equity, and other sorts of savings. And the 1 percentile cutoff is at least twice the $150K level. Obviously as income rises the fraction of income that can be saved goes up as well, so double the income, and you much more than double the money available to play with investments.
Halve, the income, and there's nothing left after meeting living expenses, and you have the siutation of the lowest 85%.

Probably bought a bigger house during the housing bubble and is upside down. Probably bought 3 or 4 new $40K cars in that timeframe. Probably has one or two kids in college or private school with no financial aid. Probably has a lawn service and a pool service and a housecleaning service. Most of their savings is in their 401(k). Shall we review how the stock market has done over the past 12 years?

I have to confess to having been at that magical $150K level. But, I don't act like a typical USAer. My house was paid off -so even if it is $100K less than what I paid, it still counts as an asset. And I never piad as much as $30K for a car -and typically keep um for 10years.
Three kids in college with no financial aid, but by living cheap plus money I socked away for education years ago, I'm getting the tuition paid for without taking out loans -or selling off assets (but dividends and interest that should be re-invested are now used as cash supplement).

But, I had the impression, that the typical person at my income level has greater net assets -but maybe that was before the bubble burst, and those who bought investment property on credit were flying high....

Actually, no. Our house is paid off, steel roof with a lifetime warranty and solar panels on the roof. Never bought a car that cost over 24K, bike commute part of the time. No kids. No lawn service. I mow what little lawn is left, outside of the gardens, with a non motorized reel mower. No pool, no housecleaning service. True the stock market hasn't performed spectacularly well since about 2007 but we haven't exactly lost our shirts either. Our net worth has continued to increase in the past 3-4 years. The real reason for my reply is to point out that people rarely fit into our neatly constructed little boxes. There are many shades of gray between black and white.

But, simply because we are TODers you can bet subzero and I are atypical. I've never had lawn service, or a swimming pool, and I use a $79 push mower. But we are probably the exceptions that prove the rule. Unlike sub, my net worth is at maybe 3/4s of pre-crash levels, and I don't expect that there is any real prospect to ever get back to those levels. I figure I'll be working another ten years, just to be sure that if things get tough the kids will have something they can fall back on. I'll hit sixty next month, so thats hardly an early retirement. (But at least working in software probably makes it doable).

Yes. We aren't typical here. I've never paid more than $6K for a car or ever bought a new one or one with more than 4 cylinders (I've got 270K miles on this one) and I am also in the ~150K income range (started here at 1/3rd of that 13 years ago). I also pay $425/mo rent in SoCal (free standing guest house with groundskeeping and all utilities except propane included) and had no college loans (tuition waiver, state school, worked thru school).

Only 0.6% would have their inheritance reduced by estate taxes.

Yes, and it's these few that GWB got voters to bend over for with his "Death Tax" rhetoric. How blind the masses have become to their own interests...

If both husband and wife went to college and have full time jobs, it is not a big deal to earn $150,000.

In this case, there is a pretty good chance that one or the other of them has recently had a job loss or reduction in pay. In some cases, both have.

More and more these relics of the middle class are finding themselves joining in the 'race to the bottom.' Since both are educated, usually one will continue to work as the other sits it out looking for employment. It won't be until both are out of work or both have been reduced in scale, etc., they will reconsider their position. Consider though, that the will still be in the "Upper 10% in any case. It is just that the disproportionate nature of the income and wealth distribution will be even greater. I think it has to do with the monopolistic nature of our economic society. Eventually the top 1% will be divided into the haves and have nots, with the bottom 90% of the top 1% having earnings similar to what we would call middle class today. Eventually, of course, there will only be the top 1, having 99.99% of the wealth and 99.999% of the income, at which time it would have absolutely no value whatever.

The Fed is working on this today.


I think its unlikely the concentration process will go that far.

Here's some data in re. income distribution in US. Two links are for the same data. The NYT link has a graph. The other has the numbers for you to play with.

the numbers

the graph

My impression after finding lots of opinionating about income distribtion, is that there is a very small group at the upper tip end of the upper 0.1% who are doing very well. Thinking that everyone in the top 10%, or the top 1% is vastly better off than the people just below them is mistaken. Almost everybody in US is in danger of being wiped out financially if the don't toe the line, stand up and salute, or whatever. But that's just me opinionating. I can't personally vouch for the data. taxpolicycenter seems to be a legit organization, but they may be being conned by the really rich somehow.

When using the linked tables note that each percentile contains equal numbers of people NOT equal numbers of tax units or households.

I believe it contains equal numbers of tax returns. So, number of people is different in different columns, and of course each column is normalize to total to 100%. But there is a lot of obfuscation in all the economic data that I have ever seen, and I may be mistaken.

That's how one would think you'd go about presenting the data...but it's not how they did it. Read the footnotes.

Nice thread.
Keep reminding us out here of the "non-negotiable" American way of life. (I value the stats. I don't live in China but I keep an eye on you).
Question is: how many percentiles would you need to remove to get down to WT's projected 10mbpd - got to draw a line in the sand somewhere? ;)
You could keep the 90%? Should be negotiable ;)

Senate passes short-term payroll cut extension with Keystone XL Pipeline provision.


A decision on Keystone is required within 60 days.

A decision on Keystone is required within 60 days.

Which could in turn blow up in the Repubs' faces, according to the agency responsible for conducting the review, since 60 days wouldn't allow the time required to study alternate routes (remember the original route was already deemed unacceptable because of Nebraska residents' and politicians' objections to impacts on major water sources):


Maybe the R's figure that a decision to block the pipeline is a done deal, but if it comes out before the election, then they can use it as a campaign issue. The fact that the administration wanted very much to waffle until after the election is at least suggestive in this respect.

If the bill passes, the decision will be: "denied due to inadequate study, please re-apply."

But. They will twist that into Obama scuppered it! And the press, and Joe6Pack will buy it.

Yeah, then they can say they tried to make it happen and the enviroweenies blocked it giving them a reason to trash the EPA.


From The War is Coming Home link, above:

...the state continues to call itself and its own interests (i.e. “national security”) “good” and all opposing interests (i.e. “terrorism”) “evil.” If you stand against the will of the state (which is “good” by default) you are “evil” and the state must make war against you because of it.

So, what can be done about this? Is there some way to stop the state from exercising this power? Maybe through proposing legislative reforms? Or by “voting the bums out” next election cycle?

Thus speaks the voice of naivete once again…

To anyone who seriously considered the above suggestions I say “get real – none of this will happen.” Why? There’s a myriad of reasons involving campaign fraud, special interest lobbying, erosion of “rights” once thought “guaranteed” by the Constitution (which is, and always was, just a scrap of paper) and so forth: people can write books (and have done so) about all the lies, corrupt dealings and lives sacrificed for the benefit of the state under false pretenses over the last century alone! But what it all really comes down to is this – power, quite simply, can’t be reformed because it does not *want* to be reformed. Period.

Power can’t be reformed in any meaningful way – only broken. The ruling classes won’t simply surrender their thrones, they must be pushed off those thrones: and then, to prevent another force from ever wielding that kind of power, the thrones must be burned – the only meaningful reform of power is reform carried out with matches and a can of gasoline...

Gosh, Leanan, not sure what to say. While our analysis of history and our multiple predicaments has led many here to the same conclusion, and there is certainly precedent in our our American history for this sort of stance, I'm not sure that TOD is ready for this revolutionary thing. Perhaps I misjudged...

Then again, while I may not be a willing participant in the insurrection, I've certainly been warned; inevitable, it seems. Again, nothing new here:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, ...

Other related stories:

Detainment Camps Going Live:
FEMA Seeking Subcontractors to Provide “Temporary Camp Services” In All 50 States

December 13, 2011 "SHTF Plan" -- For the better part of two decades FEMA detention camps were believed to be a figment of tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists. As more information over the years has been made available through alternative news researchers like Alex Jones in his full length documentary Police State 4 and former governor Jesse Venutra's FEMA camp exposé, it is becoming increasingly clear that the government has been taking steps for quite some time to ensure a rapid and effective response in the event of a national disaster or U.S. military deployment on American soil.

Report: US drones helping local police agencies

Predator drones are being used in domestic law enforcement cases, raising concerns that the aircraft are being deployed beyond the missions that Congress originally authorized them for, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

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.

...operated by US Air Force personnel over US soil? Lends validity to this:

Posse Comitatus Act Suspended By Congress

The Posse Comitatus Act, passed on June 16, 1878 prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services from exercising state law enforcement powers that maintain "law and order" on non-federal property.

H.R. 5122, the John Warner Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, signed by the president on October 17, 2006, gives the president the power to employ the armed forces to restore public order in any state of the United States.

It is still another power given to the president in the name of the war on terrorism. In a worst case scenario, it would allow the president to use the military to suppress any kind of unrest.

...and we've been worried about peak oil, while the people slept...

We just had a new hospital open in Chicago - one where the parking garage can be transformed in to an emergency intake, in the event of a large influx of patients...



Guys where is the evidence in any of this that it's part of some broad conspiracy to plan for interning a lot of people? Where is the evidence that these different developments are not simply intended for what they are nominally described as? Why shouldn't FEMA develop disaster response plans? Did you see the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this year? Or how about the bungled response to Katrina? Did you see when a minor tropical storm knocked much of the northeast into the dark for a week this year, or when a freak Halloween snowstorm repeated that feat two months later?

You are going with something other than the simplest explanation of disparate developments, and to turn it into some kind of grander scheme, what you require is EVIDENCE. I see none.

I do see a gradual creep in law enforcement towards weakening our civil liberties. What I do not see is a grand scheme to start throwing people in camps and turning our military against ourselves. "Giving the president the authority to used the armed forces to restore public order in the case of a disaster or emergency" is exactly what we do in other countries when they are hit by natural disasters... we send aircraft carriers and soldiers on relief efforts.

Rex 84: short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a secretive "scenario and drill" developed by the United States federal government to suspend the United States Constitution, declare martial law, place military commanders in charge of state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens who are deemed to be "national security threats", in the event that the President declares a "State of Domestic National Emergency".

COINTELPRO: (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal,[1] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO took place between 1956 and 1971; however, the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception.[2] The FBI's stated motivation at the time was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."[3]

(National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-20 ...created and signed by United States President George W. Bush on May 4, 2007, is a Presidential Directive which claims power to execute procedures for continuity of the federal government in the event of a "catastrophic emergency". Such an emergency is construed as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

In light of Peak Oil (infrastructure/energy threat), climate change (environmental threat), ongoing financial meltdown in the west (economy), OWS, etc., etc., do you suppose that the Govt. just stopped doing these things? Just askin'... not that we're facing any "disruption severely affecting the U.S. population."

I'll bet my best Poodle that they're paying attention to TOD as well. They're watching YOU, wideblacksky. I feel safer already ;-)

Update: Interesting that all of the links to KBR activities with FEMA, from the Detainment Camps Going Live link in my post above have been rendered inactive. Time for my tin foil hat!

It's not a conspiracy that the links don't work. The idiot who wrote that page either malformed them or is purposely trying to bounce them off Cox email servers. That you would read anything into that beyond the incompetence of the page designer doesn't help the credibility of your argument.

Yes, Oliver North was involved in all kinds of shady stuff, and I'm sure that there are similarly Constitutionally-challenged scumbags working in Washington these days. What I'm not convinced of is that they are actually calling the shots. I am not convinced that the people actually calling the shots believe that they are doing anything but planning for actual contingencies that we might face, e.g. natural catastrophes.

GWB never recovered from the fiasco that was his response to Katrina. The government saw that and doesn't want a repeat. Having lived through two week long + power outages in CT this year and seeing how the citizens responded to the lack of electricity, if I were in a position of civil authority I would also be really worried about similar events. After 9/11 there was a huge movement towards disaster planning and recovery, and we are still seeing the seeds of that movement come to fruition thanks to the glacial pace of our federal bureaucracy.

I am not convinced that the people running the show at the federal level have malevolent plans for us. I think they are imperfect, weak, and often stupid, but I am not convinced that they are plotting to kill the Constitution and lock us up in internment camps. I don't see any compelling evidence that points to such a conclusion. Were I the type to work myself up over something, I could find a way to select particular evidence, fit it together, and then, if I squinted a little, see things the way you're seeing them. But I do not think it is the simplest explanation, not by a long shot.

"It's not a conspiracy that the links don't work. The idiot who wrote that page either malformed them or is purposely trying to bounce them off Cox email servers."

At the home page it is stated that the site has been hacked, which is supported by some of the comments. Further, I never said it was a conspiracy, something I generally don't believe in, though it's provable that there is a culture of control at the top, a blurring of separations between government, the corporate and financial sectors and the MIC, each protecting it's own interests, many of them shared. The broken links were in reference to KBR. I suggest you study the link.

I'm sure that everything these people do (have done) is in the interest of the greater good; true patriots, one and all. This may include stifling dissent, labeling those who would oppose their methods as unpatriotic, outliers and enemies of the state, and eventually terrorists. Again, all for the greater good, for your 'safety'. I suppose you think it's OK to detain US terrorist suspects without trial (US citizens). But that's how it works. The guarantees and rights which we all took for granted are removed, tweaked, modified and rendered moot, one at a time, like bricks from a foundation. I certainly don't feel safer, and question those who would defend such corruption.

"I suppose you think it's OK to detain US terrorist suspects without trial (US citizens). "

That's a strawman. Do me the favor and don't bother with any more. There's a difference between legislators passing something like this out of stupidity and passing it as part of a conspiratorial plan that involves internment camps. That is the point I believe I made clearly in my previous post. I am quite unhappy with the performance of our government, but unlike you I do not put it down to some vast conspiracy to strip us of our rights and start throwing people in camps. I put it down to the best intentions of your average stupid human beings combined with diminishing returns on complexity in full swing. The fat middle of the bell curve of human intelligence peaks right around "idiot" as far as I'm concerned, and we're expecting this crowd of federal imbeciles to deal with the combined weight of 200+ years of legal mechanisms. It's a tremendous mess.

"That's a strawman. Do me the favor and don't bother with any more. There's a difference between legislators passing something like this out of stupidity and passing it as part of a conspiratorial plan that involves internment camps."

Really? Whether I run you over with my car because I wasn't paying attention, or because I wanted you dead, you're still road kill.

"...unlike you I do not put it down to some vast conspiracy to strip us of our rights..."

...and where did I say there was a "vast conspiracy to strip us of our rights." I've always used care to state my belief that it is the result of a culture of leadership which finds it convenient (and very profitable) to erode and circumvent laws, rights and due process; nothing new and unique to the US. This is the very process that the "Founding Fathers" anticipated, warned about, and tried to prevent. My concern is that the so-called "war on terror" is now a defacto permanent state of war in the minds of "We the People", permitting further militarization of domestic law enforcement, both national and local, and that we are becoming the police state that we pretend to oppose elsewhere. You've conveniently ignored the very real evidence of this presented here.

I don't believe that the sub-prime mortgage debacle was the result of a "vast conspiracy", yet it occurred (and is ongoing). It was the result of the same sort of erosion of the regulations, laws and oversights designed to prevent it, allowing a culture of greed to exploit loopholes and an unaware population.

It matters not if some ruling elite is part of some "vast conspiracy", or that it is a simple case of officials and powerful corporate interests doing these things just because they can. What matters is that it IS occurring and progressing....to what end? The idea that this is the result of a hyper-complex system reaching its limits may be valid, but a poor excuse for handwaving. Like peak oil and climate change, the reality of it doesn't change because we're not sure of who's to blame. We've become our own worst enemy in many ways.

Blacksky - stop and think about the word "conspiracy" - why and how are you using it?

If the intelligence agencies have information but with-hold it from congress (or share it only with certain members of congress) - is that a conspiracy?

Were you awake the past 15 years as the laws governing the financial system were gutted? Have you noticed how now the greatest frauds in history are now considered "technically legal" (though it probably violated the spirit of the law)?

There are people in our government making plans that are in the best interest of the Federal Government and the Corporations it represents. I don't care what you call it, I don't care if it "incompetence" by the stooges in congress. There are people who know exactly what they are doing and why.

Phil Gramm, Hank Paulson, Jon corizon... all incompetent and it was all just an accident...

good luck to you

I am not convinced that the people running the show at the federal level have malevolent plans for us.

The plan sure looks like benefit the Corporations.

If that sucks for you, the Human, well its just business.

I think they are imperfect, weak, and often stupid, but I am not convinced that they are plotting to kill the Constitution and lock us up in internment camps.

The idea of the Founding Fathers is the leadership *IS* imperfect, weak, stupid and whatever other Human flaws you can imagine.

The check on the Government was to be the legal system - the courts. Wickburn VS Crop Insurance is an example - its your job to check the Government person is giving you the straight dope.

Do not forget the attempts to manage resource consumption with things like Agenda 21 and smart meters

Katrina demonstrated exactly how unsuitable our governance model was to respond to a major disaster- and there could be disasters that are several orders of magnitude larger.

What is disquieting is that we don't have open discussions about this - I am sure that there are responsible people who believe that our political discourse is not grown up enough to have that kind of dialogue and therefore prefer to slide in some of these powers.

I agree with you that the intent might have been noble but in the absence of the up front discussion it is more likely that these powers will be used poorly in the future.

"...and we've been worried about peak oil, while the people slept..."

Many here seem to be very "professional" and self-editing, so as not to disturb certain sensibilities. And that is fine.

Normalcy bias on the surface...

Yeah, better to stick with the "discussions about energy and our future".

And yet, what anybody is going to decide is 'just out of sight below that surface' can be a VERY broad range of things, including Hopes and Suspicions.. including ones that can become self-fulfilling prophesies.

..beyond the euphemistic meaning, there are actually good reasons to have 'sensibilities'. It's not always just 'middle-class manners', despite what you seem to be implying. Maybe that wasn't what you meant..?

I meant "sensibilities" in a broad sense - and not necessarily as an insult, but that works too I guess ;).

"below the surface," of normalcy, where everyone behaves just like they did yesterday.

Our government has been/is "deeply concerned.

Sometimes we might be staring at trees, and not noticing the forest growing around us.

edit - a question from 2007 but still not answered: Who Will Rule Us After the Next 9/11?

Interestingly enough the main subject of that article (Anwar Al Awlaki) has been killed in the time since it was written, so perhaps AG Holder is sleeping a little easier at night.

You may rest assured that nothing disturbs the sleep or daydreams of Attorney General Eric Placeholder.

Run guns to Mexican drug cartels, commingle client funds to your Euro trading accounts, commit epic scale perjury on foreclosure documents, swindle billions on CDS that you can't back; you have nothing to fear from him.


"In 2008, these changes in the Insurrection Act of 1807 were repealed in their entirety, reverting to the previous wording of the Insurrection Act[10] that in its original form was written to limit Presidential power as much as possible in the event of insurrection, rebellion, or lawlessness."

Just for the sake of completeness.

China increased its claim on Venezuela's oil production this week with an additional $4 billion in loans, bringing to $30 billion the total owed by South America’s top oil-producing country, which is secured by future Venezuelan oil production.

To repay the debt, Venezuela now sends about 410,000 barrels of crude a day to China, or half the average 806,000 barrels per day that Venezuela sent to U.S. refineries in September, the last month for which Department of Energy figures are available. The country's average production is 2.3 million to 2.4 million barrels per day.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said on numerous occasions that he wants to diminish and even eliminate oil sales to the U.S. altogether, and replace that market with China.


No love for the US anymore?

From that link;

Apart from the loans, China has signed deals totaling $40 billion to invest in energy projects through 2016, including an oil production and refining project called Junin in the oil-rich Orinoco Belt in eastern Venezuela. The project is near projects that ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips abandoned in 2007 rather than cede majority control as demanded by Chavez. The two companies are still waiting for full remuneration for their investments.

No love for the US,. or the US oil companies either - I expect they will be waiting some time for their "remuneration"

So we have China investing heavily in Canada and Venezuela, two of the three oil exporters closest to the US. All China needs to do now is partner with Pemex to start doing stuff in Mexico.

While the US is obsessed with military adventures in the Middle East, China is quietly picking up the oil sources that are right under the US nose.

It will be very hard to get them out of Venezuela

It will be even harder for them to get the oil out of Venezuela when the gloves come off.

I'm kinda glad I'm getting old in at least one respect-I can safely indulge my macho tough guy Yankee fantasies from my arm chair, without having to worry about getting drafted.

But I'm kinda worried about not having a bomb shelter-and if I had one, I would be worried about the environment being so hot I couldn't leave it anyway.

I would not be so smug. if the conflict escalates you might very well be drafted.

At his age, caring for an older relative, and engaged in agriculture? The government will be out of business before they get around to drafting that demographic. We enlisted the equivalent of 75M of today's population in WWII without enlisting his demographic.

Analysis: A World Apart

In San Francisco, a massive meeting discussed climate science while in Durban, another huge gathering debated climate politics. Two roads, on opposite sides of the Earth, diverge – and send progress along at very different speeds.

But for all this work, these herculean efforts remain antipodal. Scientific findings barely grasped by the politicians are old news at AGU. And negotiating blocks that halt diplomats remain unfathomable to the scientists.

... "We are now on a very different planet than anyone has ever seen before," Foley said. "All of our predictions are going to be wrong. We are going to be very, very surprised."

Notes from the road...

I recently (11/4 to 11/20) took a cross-country road trip and thought I’d share a few things. Hope it’s not too OT, but it’s Saturday and there’s no campfire to sidle up to so:

I live in far north western California and every two or three years I go to visit my Dad in Columbia, Missouri. I hate flying because I usually don’t make it back in one day and have to spend the night in an airport, I don’t like the whole cattle-car aspect, I don’t like the energy footprint, and I really don’t feel comfortable spewing pollution up that high in the atmosphere.

So this year I wanted to take the train. But when I looked into it, there was still a cattle-car aspect, but more importantly, compared to driving, it wasn’t much cheaper, it wasn’t any faster, and it was really inconvenient (departing and arriving in the middle of the night, both directions). So, I decided to drive.

Driving also had the advantages that I could take whatever I want like my deer rifle, guitar, and tons of clothes/boots (for hunting with my Dad), I could pick my own pace, set my own schedule, eat my own food, and most of all I could visit some friends in the area besides those in Missouri.

I ended up going down through Barstow (14 hours just to get out of California!), out to the southeast corner of Kansas, down to Visksburg, MS, up to Nashville, then over to Columbia and back home. 15 days.

First, I was glad to see that cruising-in-the-fast-lane is mostly a California thing. Texas has signs that say “Left lane is for passing only”. CA needs a few thousand of those. Things flow much better that way. Please help.

When I left, gas here was (and had been for months) about $4.20, so I enjoyed lower than normal prices while I was gone. I don’t normally care what the price is, because I don’t drive very much. But I am habituated to just looking at the last two numbers of the price because gas hasn’t been below $4/gal here for years, so I was shocked to drive by a place in AZ or NM advertising $4.39 and thought “Wow, these guys have it even worse than me!” Took me about ten miles to realize it was $3.39, which was a common price on my trip. Lowest I paid was $2.99 in Danville, MO. and I don’t expect to pay that little again unless things get pretty bad. Gas was down to $4.04 when I got back.

So, I spent a lot of time on I40. It was cool to see all the trains. I don’t have those anymore where I live, so it was a treat for me and I was surprised there were so many. I also saw about two full wind turbines worth of tower sections and giant blades going down the road, so that was cool.

I noticed a lot fewer double-trailer big rigs than I remember (I used to drive across the country a lot when I went to college in Pennsylvania...in the 80’s). Seems like they were all doubles back then. Anybody know what’s up with that? I saw a handful, so I know they’re still legal, at least on I40.

I don’t like to drive at night, but it was too late in the season to avoid it. Man, there are a lot of lights out there at night that don’t seem to be doing/lighting anything. Of course, there’s the extreme case of some cement box with no windows out in the middle of nowhere in the desert with a half dozen lights. But there are thousands of lights at intersections, on ramps, off ramps, and tight corners with very little traffic. I mean, cars have headlights and taillights, right? I admit some intersections, etc need lights, but I think we could cut down to 10 or 20 percent of them and have little effect on safety. Or some kind of much dimmer LED lights. I’m sure the night critters would like it, and we’d see more stars!

And light pollution makes me think of the noise pollution. I don’t live near an interstate highway and I’m not used to the sound of big rigs. I live on a busy street in a small town, but when things inevitably quiet down after 0200, I can hear the surf on the beach 4 miles away. Big rigs have a distinctive whine. Of course it’s really loud and noticable when you’re in a hotel room 200 feet from the highway, but I found that everywhere I went, even my Dad’s place “out in the woods”, I could hear the big rigs rolling, day and night. Amazing. I guess that’s why I like to travel. So I don’t take the place I live for granted. Out in the mountains here it’s so quiet I swear I can hear the Earth hum. What is that?

I also saw some really grim main streets in the little towns in the NE Oklahoma, SE Kansas area. The towns are about 20 miles apart, so there’s a lot of them! I estimate about 70% occupancy of the downtown strips. Really run down and sad looking. You could clearly see that it had once been a pretty nice place, and not too poor at all. But it was also clear that those days were a long time ago. Very sad. “Kunstlervilles”?

We had dinner in Joplin, Missouri, and I got a tour of the swath of devastation from the tornado last summer. Really impressive. Just wiped clean. No trees, no houses, nothing above ground level. Very humbling, and I’m grateful I don’t live in tornado country (yet).

Actually, there has been some rebuilding. My hosts told me only about 50% of homeowners had insurance, so there’s three types of properties you see: 1) damaged houses surrounded by rubble like no one has been there since the day after, 2) cleaned up properties that are often just a naked cement slab surrounded by lawn (i.e., no trees or other plants), and 3) fresh new houses only a few months old. I’ll withhold my opinion about the size and style of the new homes.

Finally, I can confirm that there are many, many road construction projects going on, even in November. I guess this is all ARRA money, and I’m sure it’s paying for lots of jobs and boosting the economy, but I know enough about the costs of road work to see hundreds of millions, if not more, dollars at work. Seems a shame to use it on roads. If we would have spent that money on our rail system, maybe I could have taken the train!

Yair...thanks WaterWeasel. Never been to the US and I find posts like yours very interesting.

Anyone have any theories as to the reduction in double trailer rigs?



Such rigs to the best of my knowledge are more common than ever-they are far cheaper to operate than single rigs if the loads are made up of lots of smaller consignments going to a couple of different towns located along a truck route.

The driver can in effect drop half a load and pick up half a load without waiting in line for dock space.

At any rate they are very common on the Interstates in Va and NC.

At any rate they are very common on the Interstates in Va and NC

I see plenty of them here in Florida as well. As a matter of fact I suspect there are more of them now than in the past.
It would be interesting to see some actual data on this.

""and 3) fresh new houses only a few months old.""

Makes perfect sense to me. Why not build stick Houses, above ground in Tornado Alley? Typical U.S. mindset.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

Yeah, I'm a little worried about my buddy in SE Kansas, about 20 miles from Joplin because he has no basement. There was a tornado watch for some counties the night I arrived, but I didn't know what county I was in. I asked my buddy, "Should we be worried? Should we hang out in the basement?" No, apparently what ever happens is God's will.

I won't be visiting there in the spring or summer.

Nice trip report!

I've done a little traveling back in the day (Colorado, Wyoming), but nothing "long haul" lately. I personally hate driving now, when I was young I loved it.

Did the roads seem busy? What about traffic? Lot of out of state plates as you moved from one area to the next? What kinds of speeds did you average?

I drove I-80 across Nebraska one time and buzzing along at 80mph, I got passed constantly.

I swear up here in Wisconsin, I see more Florida plates then I do plates from Iowa (which is 25 minutes from here) in the summer. Lot of Floridians must come "home" for the summer, escape the madness of big city life.


Yeah, I still like driving. Especially the car I have now. I get in and go and don't stop except for gas. "Long haul" style, I guess you'd say.

The roads did seem more crowded than I remember, especially out in the desert. A lot more trucks. But traffic going through the big cities seemed to flow pretty well, despite all the construction. I managed not to go through one during rush hour.

And as for out of state plates, maybe it's just psychological, but it seems like all the license plates change when you cross the state line. Weird how they do that.

Speed? I'm a law-abiding type and I went the speed limit most of the trip, and yes, got passed by most cars. I don't allow myself to get run over when traffic is heavy, so I would kind of get sucked through cities at 5, 10, even 15 miles above the limit before slowing down again on the other side.

By the time I got back, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that everyone considers the speed limit to be 5 over what it says on the sign. Certainly, in California they do.


Very nice report from the road.

Nice to hear something from a common citizen, as opposed to an article/story published by a major media outfit.

Gasoline in Albuquerque has been holding steady at ~ $2.84-2.88 for several weeks now.

ABQ underwent road re-paving/widening/median beatification and occasional widening to add a few bike lanes during the last two years. Lots of road and parking lot repaving on Kirtland AFB as well (shares a runway with the ABQ SunPort [our airport])

Sunport and VA hospital and the Albuquerque Academy (private secular education academy) all installed substantial PV arrays the past couple of years.

~ 2 years ago ABQ started tapping the San Juan Chama water diversion project (taking water from a tunnel under the Rockies North of here.

ABQ has a substantial amount of vacant CRE, housing prices have fallen, but on both accounts we seem significantly better off than many other places.

ABQ benefits mightily from the Military Industrial Complex: Sandia Nat. Labs, Los Alamos National Labs (many of those folks are in ABQ as much as they are up at LANL!), many many other cats and dogs at Kirtland AFB. The MIC and the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) probably are the majority report of why NM gets back two ducks from the Federalis for every buck we send up in Fed taxes.

I ///Hate/// driving I-40...///many/// more semis than I-25 (both intersect down town). I hate driving I-25 as well, but I-40 is worse...I stick to surface streets.

What will the future hold for ABQ?

I dunno.

I really hope that it doesn't grow to become the size of Phoenix...

"I really hope that it doesn't grow to become the size of Phoenix..."

It won't, no water. Phoenix metro gets all the water from the SRP (~1MAF) plus most of the AZ water from the CAP(~1.5MAF of AZ's 2.8MAF of Colorado River water) and has a lot of room to grow since most of the use is still ag. ABQ gets 48,200 acre feet per year from San Juan-Chama's 110,000 acre feet per year. That isn't enough for the current population. Prior to that, as I'm sure you know as a local, ABQ was entirely on well water. Even Vegas has more water than ABQ. Phoenix' water supply is 15-50 times as big as ABQ depending on how you count.


You are correct.

The switchover from all well water to partially augmented happened recently.

There is a city well about 1/4 mile from my house.

Then there is the jet fuel spill under Kirtland AFB (perhaps as large as 8 million gallons, no one seems to know for sure, since the leak from underground piping existed for years)which is slowly spreading towards city wells...


That isn't the only hazardous material plume underground in/around Albuquerque:


The fuel came from underground pipes at a Kirtland loading facility built in the 1950s. Air Force officials first noticed something amiss in 1999, and they think it had been leaking for decades.

It was not until 2007 that the Air Force investigations revealed the fuel had reached the water table and was moving off of the Air Force base, beneath the neighborhoods of southeast Albuquerque, toward the city's water wells.

Groundwater contamination seems to be inevitable in urban areas, and the Albuquerque metro area has its share:

• Four water wells were shut down in an area on the east edge of Downtown Albuquerque after the discovery in the late 1980s of hazardous waste from a defunct dry cleaners.

• Nearly 10,000 tons of contaminated dirt have already been dug out of an old Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad tie plant, and a water treatment plant is currently under construction.

• Twenty private water wells and two municipal wells were closed after contamination escaped from the old General Electric plant in Bernalillo County's South Valley.

In all, the Environment Department is tracking 27 groundwater contamination sites in the county under various stages of monitoring and cleanup.

The MIC gets to slow-roll environmental issues at its will.

Good thing the Presidential challengers want to disband the EPA.

As for growth, the only direction ABQ can expand is West, to the (dry) Rio Puerco...we are bordered by Native American pueblos on the North and South (And Kirtland AFB to the South) and by the Sandia Mountains on the East.

I am very glad that our lack of water and the changed economy precluded then mayor of Rio Rancho's absurd vision:

...That was the prevailing philosophy in the heady days mid-decade when the housing market and construction were booming and Rio Rancho’s then-Mayor Jim Owen was predicting the youthful city would one day be the Dallas to Albuquerque’s Fort Worth.

When one flies into the Sunport from the North and over the West Mesa one can see all the streets bulldozed out of the desrt crust in Rio Rancho, but never filled with houses/businesses.etc. Mayor Owen had no conception of the water issues...

If I wanted all those people I would have moved to Phoenix...ABQ is big enough already!

What is in the cards for ABQ and water? Well, we didn't get much rain this year...

Then there is the jet fuel spill under Kirtland AFB (perhaps as large as 8 million gallons

Wow! I'd think it ought to be profitable to drill-drill-drill there. You could be famous for the first working oil well in a volcanic rift zone.

So how's the snow cover doing Heis. It seems all the storms are forming around LA, then moving out your way this year. I suspect the mountains should be getting a bumper year. Unlike Northern California, which is now starting to get worried, the few storms head south offshore, and bring at best light rains, before joining the souther California to ElPaso to Ohio valley storm track. Here we only have afew months of rainy season, and if the jet stream decides to be ungenerous for a month or two, you can end up very short of water.



Ski Santa Fe is 90%, 40-inch base...better further North.

Albuquerque, per usual, has the 'Albuquerque Weather Shield' firmly in place.

No kidding, a goodly portion of NM may be covered in green on the NEXRAD, and you will fairly consistently see a clear patch corresponding to the ABQ valley. The snows seem to peter out North of Belen, and pick up again at Bernallio, and even Rio Rancho typically gets more precip than ABQ!

Must be a heat island effect...

More snow coming Monday...looks like North and East of here mainly.

I walked the dog in shorts and a light jacket late this afternoon.

The problem for ABQ is that all wind directions (except for south which is effectively flat) ABQ is downhill, so is effectively in a rain shadow. But if the Sandias/Monzano's are getting good snows, does it matter whats happening in town? The wettest direction there is from the east, with a potential straight shot at GOM moisture. But for ABQ thats a several thousand foot drop, i.e any snow is left on the crest or east of it. I can recall I40 being closed for days because of three feet of drifting snow at Moriarity (30miles east), and essentially nothing in the city.

Good thing the Presidential challengers want to disband the EPA.

And the 'solution' to this in the "now" is to start pushing for a Constitutional Amendment for clean air/water et la. Such was gaining traction and what took the wind out of the sails was the creation of the EPA.

Interesting report. Yes, always better to trust your own eyes and ears and intuition than anything told to you by the media or politicians, because language can be manipulated so easily.

Although I sympathize with the idea that rural areas are going to do better than cities, in practice it doesn't always turn out that way. Why do people go to cities? For jobs and services. This was true before peak oil, and it is true now. People who don't think cities can survive with low energy have obviously never heard of Lagos or Mumbai or Jakarta, or even Copenhagen. Also, in cities there is at least the possibility of different transport options such as buses, rail, cycling, walking etc. to get around, For rural folk, it's basically either the car or horses.

Even if more and more people are needed in agriculture, most of these ghost towns across America are never going to recover, at least not in our lifetime. Middle tier cities with basic services may do alright.

As energy descent continues the lights are going to go out at night. In many ways this will be a good thing. It's not the end of the world if Wal-Mart isn't open 24 hours. Think of this way: the grocery store is not going to go away, it's just going to contract, it's going to be open limited hours, and what you get isn't going to be as good, and it's going to be more expensive, and you are going to have to wait in long lines, and you will only be able to go once a week or month. We aren't going to go from abundance, which we have now, to camping out in the wilderness overnight. It will be a process.

Also, for all, great commentary on Jesse's Cafe today on the MF Global shenanigans.


Even if more and more people are needed in agriculture, most of these ghost towns across America are never going to recover

Well, you may be right but it seems like a contradiction. If the population per square mile goes up due to the need for more Ag workers, wouldn't these small towns be natural "seed" areas? Like a condensation nuclei?

I mean, for the most part you don't even have to build anything, the downtown buildings are still there.

I think that the structure of the post-peak food distribution system is one of the biggest unknowns we face. In the face of continuous recession/depression, huge numbers of people in the cities will have no job, hence no access to resources, including food.

Will energy be reserved for corporate agribiz so that food can be produced as we do now and then shipped to cities to be distributed in soup lines?

Will people migrate out of the cities so they can find a parcel of abandoned land and grow their own? They won't be able to buy any land or tools because they will be flat broke.

I think the former course is more likely, at least initially, but when cities become vast warehouses of people on the dole, living conditions are likely to deteriorate to the point where lots of people attempt to flee. What they will do and how they will manage to re-establish themselves is hard to imagine.

Again, are people in third world countries all fleeing cities? Hardly, it's the opposite. And no, they're not on the dole, there is no dole!

With an important point being that they will continue to outbid us for oil because the marginal uses in the industrialized world will disappear. Believe me, this is a hard fact to accept.

Basically, we will become a "second world" nation, and then proceed from there. The rich countries have no idea how badly they screwed themselves by not focusing on labor protection and domestic energy production. Unless of course they want to nuke all of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, India, and China. In which case, good luck populating those regions and getting the resources you need from them.

Either way, you're screwed! You are either poor and miserable at home, or poor and miserable abroad, as Americans in the Middle Eastern deserts are finding out.

People in cities in developing countries are indeed on the dole. Huge subsidies keep staple food prices well below world market prices. Failure to maintain those subsidies has repeatedly sparked food riots and was part of the impetus for the Arab Spring. In the US, distribution of USDA "surplus" cheese and other foods have long been distributed to the poor. Programs like that are a harbinger of things to come.

I totally agree with your point about being outbid for oil. I have seen first hand how much very poor people are willing to pay for energy that is to be used for very valuable uses, such as electric lights and irrigation pumps. In the US, we use huge amounts just getting to work. Our existing transportation setup is a gigantic albatross around our necks.

Without cheap energy, everyone will become more and more "poor and miserable" as you say. It will be very interesting to see how things evolve.

You'd probably not be too far out if you took the Israeli/Palestinian model as an analogy for the future. The Israelis representing the elite, corporatists, operatives and technicians of the state apparatus, plus remnants of the middle class. The Palestinians representing the majority of people who have found themselves outside the system in semi-autonomous enclaves.

Having the money, energy and powers of the state at its disposal the corporatist controlled zones will continue on the current technological path into the future. Whereas the enclaves having little access to money, energy or the benefits of the state will have to fall back on its own resources and innovation, taking a different path into the future. Trade between enclaves and the corporatists will probably be the defining relationship between them.

Agricultural produce will come from industrial agriculture, urban agriculture, organic and any other system that can be used. Complexity will increase to ameliorate the surge in entropy.

That's kinda the way I look at things developing.

So when will the disadvantaged 90% start fireing homemade rockets into gated communities?

Anybody's guess.
I wonder more in our much bigger economies if we have entered already the new age of 'oligarchs', more like the exUSSR.
Private security, competitive assasination, hideways, big armed yachts, you know the sort of thing.
Professionals/experts can only be afforded if there is a complex industrial base. But big boys fighting over a shrinking base could be happening now at the financial level?

WW,Kansas as I've read is 3rd in the nation in miles of paved roads behind Cali and Tx but look at the population of Kansas to support those roads and it's going to get bumpy.Many of those blacktop roads were built with 5 dollar oil and serve half dozen families on a regular basis.And from a national level starting in 2011 10K boomers a day turn 65 and will for the next 18 yrs.

Interesting report. I did a similar trip in October. I drove from Connecticut to Oregon to visit my daughter. I camped in Pennsylvania and Virginia so I could visit some civil war sites, seeing as this year is the 150th anniversary of its start. A week into the trip found me at Titusville visiting Colonel Drake’s oil well. It’s quite impressive for its smallness and a little eerie, considering what it symbolizes. Contrary to what I’ve heard here, it is not still producing oil. It only produced for less than two years, and was then deepened in an attempt to find another seam of oil. They failed to find any more. Today it has been filled in with concrete to its 1859 depth and is recirculating one barrel of Pennsylvania crude for demonstration purposes. No actual oil is being produced.

Camping in October was also an interesting experience. The KOA’s are mostly deserted. Some of them are still open but self-serve. I saw plenty of double and even triple trailers on I-70 and I-80. I mean a LOT. I was amazed at how much stuff was being transported and how low was the car to truck ratio. And, yes. West coast drivers use the passing lane for cruise control. Connecticut drivers are OK on the highway but speed on back roads, which means we basically drive the same speed everywhere.

I wrote a comical essay about my experiences with a GPS unit, for those of you interested in comicals.


Actually, one of the highlights of my trip was going to the Civil War National Park in Vicksburg, MS. I also got to experience a few miles of the Natchez Trace National Parkway nearby. I almost drove the Natchez Trace up to Nashville. It would have been a really relaxing day, but I went the fastest way. Next time.

It didn't hurt that it was 63F, blue skies, with a 10-15 knot breeze when I was there, which is just like home. They tell me it's not always like that in Vicksburg.

And as for the double and triple trailers, I stand by what I saw, but apparently it's an anomaly for some reason.

WaterWeasel, we took the opposite trip this summer, from the mid-South to the Grand Canyon and then Las Vegas (concert, no gambling!). We drove to St Louis to catch Amtrak. Took a state-sponsored train over to Kansas City where we connected with the Southwest Chief. We had a roomette and enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the dining car while going across eastern Colorado and over the Raton Pass into New Mexico. At ABQ we had an extended stop, and we bought some items from Native Americans on the platform. (lots of rugs, jewelry, etc.) Once we were back underway, the conductor announced that the dining car was not operating, and the crew at ABQ could not get it repaired in time. Instead, we would pick up 300 orders of KFC at Gallop, NM. Sure enough, we made a quick, scheduled stop, and in 15 minutes we had our meal! We had to wonder about the crew at the KFC getting that order...

That evening we got off at Williams, AZ, which does not actually have a station. The local Grand Canyon Hotel picked up the passengers and took us into town. The next day we rode the Grand Canyon Railway (a tourist operation) up to the south rim. The cars were hand-me-downs from the Northern Pacific, with domes and all. Going back there was a "train robbery" for the kids. All in all it was a good day. That night we got back on the Southwest Chief, with the hotel shuttle taking us to the siding. Two BNSF freights passed each other right at our siding, and the ground shook. We got back on for a couple of hours then got off at Kingman, AZ. The Amtrak shuttle, a van, took us to Las Vegas in the middle of the night. We had so many passengers they had to wake up a second driver.

Coming back we took the shuttle to Kingman, caught the Chief eastbound, had two nights onboard, and got back almost exactly on time. There were only minor delays the entire trip. The Amtrak crew was excellent, and we got to meet some very nice folks in the dining car. (Two couples are placed together at a table.).

My wife avoids flying for medical reasons, and we are just too old to make that long of a car trip. Without Amtrak we would likely have stayed home and missed a really good vacation.

My wife and I have taken 2 Amtrak trips this year, and we brought our bicycles. I can't recommend this highly enough. After our first trip, which involved boxing our bikes, we bought Brompton folding bikes and the large travel bags. The (packed) bag in one hand, and the (folded) Brompton in the other are carry-on luggage. Upon arriving and disembarking, the bike unfolds in seconds, and the bag clicks onto the bike. We are looking forward to more of these trips!


Well, that sounds delightful. As I said, I really wanted to take the train, it just wasn't practical.

From my house I would have to take an Amtrack bus to the train, to a bus, to a train, to finally catch the Southwest Chief in LA. And again, the whole middle of the night thing. Riding a bus down the Central Valley at night is not my idea of a vacation.

Link up top: The Future of Oil - 2010 to 2035

To compensate for production declines over the next 25 years, 47 million BOPD of gross production additions are needed; to put this into context, this is twice the volume of oil currently produced by all Middle East OPEC nations! This will require an investment of $10 trillion over the next 25 years. As a firm believer in Peak Oil, I would suggest that this reserve and production replacement scenario is highly improbable. With my background as a geoscientist in the oil industry, I find this graph from BP's Statistical Review of World Energy most compelling:

For a better view of the chart he shows: Statistical Review of World Energy 2011 then click on "Download the printed review", then "Oil". But the point I would like to make is the chart shows the dramatic increase in Middle East Reserves to Production ratio in the mid 80s and then that dramatic increase in South American (Venezuela) reserves.

This data means nothing! It is bogus. Reserves to production ratio of OPEC nations is just made up and even pessimists like this author buys into them. And he is concerned that world P/E ratio has been flat since the mid 80s. If he only knew.

Ron P.

Eyeballing the BP reserves to production ratio graph leads me to believe that Middle East reserves are about one third of the official figures. Either that, or they're exceedingly incompetent at extracting oil.

Well if you go here: OPEC Share of World Oil Reserves then take OPEC's "claimed" reserves and divide that by their annual production, you get a figure of 109. Then if you take their figure for non-OPEC reserves and divide that by non-OPEC production you get a figure of 18.5. Now if you believe that then I have some beach front property in Arizona that I would like to sell you.

How on earth can BP, the IEA, the EIA and the vast majority of MSM accept these numbers as valid?

Ron P.

Ron, I agree with you.

109/18.5 = 5.9 --> so if you assume that depletion rates are roughly the same in OPEC and non-OPEC countries, this would indicate that OPEC's actual reserves are only one sixth of their claimed reserves. If you assume that depletion rates are double in non-OPEC countries, this would indicate that OPEC's actual reserves are one third of their claimed reserves.

This is mind-boggling evidence that the reserve numbers coming out of OPEC are pure BS. And yet, you don't hear a peep about this inconsistency from the IEA. How can they miss something so obvious?

Frugal - And isn't that the most frustrating aspect: they appear to be offering misleading "facts" that, in reality, have no bearing on PO. We've hit on that point the last few days: PO is all about flow rates. Granted, some folks seem to think a higher reserve number, even if true, will automatically equate to higher production rates. I know it's difficult to resist slapping down such offerings: if they aren't being honest about their reserve numbers how can we trust the production rate projections they toss out? Just consider the amount of space on TOD such discussions/debate take up. Partly because we have such clever folks here who can shift through the data and point out the inconsistencies. With rates all one (like westexas) can do is point out the disconnect between prices and rates. But a cornucopian can still argue that the lower rates are more a matter of choice than limit.

This is the main reason I haven't tried to debate the particulars of URR for the hot Eagle Ford Shale play. Geology and reservoir engineering require such a wide range of estimates and assumptions it's difficult to argue to strongly for/against any position. But production/decline rates: that's a whole nuther story. Most operators are not going to produce any well at any rate other than MER...maximum efficient rate. And when one does it's almost always above MER. Though it's still a little early (not many new EFS wells more than 3 years old), after 1 January, I'll offer a full analysis of the current status. That's one aspect of the pressure depletion drive of this type of reservoir: Folks can argue theoretical URR all they want. But such decline curves are as close to an indisputable fact as we have in the oil patch. But you need the raw data. Fortunately in Texas, unlike the ME, we have the data available.


Does producing at higher than MER affect the total production of a well in a negative way by damaging the underlying geology and hence the future productivity of a well?

S - Exactly. That's the "efficiency" part. You can either produce a well at its highest possible rate or produce the max URR. But not both. The classic screw up is flowing an oil well in a water dive reservoir too fast. This can produce "coning": the pressure draw down is so high that it will draw up the underlying water in the reservoir up though the oil column instead of the normal slow rise. This will greatly reduce the oil cut: instead of a 200 bbl/day well making 100% oil you can get a 500 bbl/day well making 10% oil and 90% water. It's almost impossible to alter the flow character once you do this. Even worse if the reservoir is unconsolidated sand: can suck the sand into the well bore and completely kill the flow.

But I've seen it done may times. Usually a bad combination of stupidity and a company desparite for increased cash flow. OTOH I've made a good bit of money recognizing the mistake and going after the oil another operator left behind. Still can't reach max URR but still make a nice profit.

This is the main reason I haven't tried to debate the particulars of URR for the hot Eagle Ford Shale play.

But we should be able to argue URR when we're talking about half the world's oil. With a century worth of data covering all the major reservoirs in the whole world, some kind of pattern regarding the depletion rate of an average field should have become apparent. Then if you divide the world's oil endownment in two roughly equal parts, OPEC and non-OPEC, there should be a good explanation why OPEC fields deplete at only one sixth of the rate of non-OPEC fields.

I'm willing to stick my neck out and state that in reality OPEC fields deplete at roughly the same rate as non-OPEC field, and the reason that this isn't happening officially is because claimed OPEC URR is significantly inflated. I cannot see another reasonable explanation.

Taking this argument one step further, if current non-OPEC reserves are 274 billion barrels and OPEC reserves are about the same, we get total world reserves of 550 billion barrels. Assuming these are P90 reserves and P50 reserves are roughly double that, we get total P50 of 1.1 trillion barrels, a reasonable estimate of remaining URR. Then since we'we extracted 1.2 trillion barrels, we should be right in the middle of the extraction curve and hence are experiencing peak oil as we spreak.

Picking up on what Rockman said - one possible reason for lower depletion rates in OPEC countries might be that they are all nationally owned and so have a different set of economic motivations- i.e. they might be prepared to produce at below the MER because they are not seeking to boost the stock price. I don't know if in fact national oil companies are better stewards or not.

crazy - true but NOC's do have their own cash flow requiremens. Besidess needing a certain amount of capex to expand production they also maintain their population with that income. I recall rumors in the 90s that the KSA was in risk of failing to make debt payments and thus openned the valves wide.

MER...maximum efficient rate.

MER is not defined by physical properties alone, economics also play.

Saudi Aramco is a good example, their stated objective is to maximize recovery.


Saudi Aramco has done an excellent job of managing their reserves.

Deep water is at the other end of the spectrum.

MER is not defined by physical properties alone, economics also play.

Saudi Aramco is a good example, their stated objective is to maximize recovery.

But we're talking about a factor of six here. Do you really believe that Saudi Aramco is throttling back production to one sixth of their MER and could actually produce 60 million barrels a day of oil if they wanted to??

Half of Saudi Aramco's stated reserves are proven undeveloped. Well spacing is also at play.

No, i don't believe Saudi Aramco's production could be ramped up to 60 million bpd. I suppose it is physically possible.

Many want to assume the Saudi's are stupid, that seems to me to be the concept Simmons was promoting.

Half of Saudi Aramco's stated reserves are proven undeveloped.

Really? And where did you get that information, noticing you did not post a link.

No, i don't believe Saudi Aramco's production could be ramped up to 60 million bpd. I suppose it is physically possible.

Those two sentences contradict each other The first says it is not possible and the second says it is possible. Which is it? Can their production be ramped up to over 6 times what it is today? What about over 5 times of 50 million barrels per day? How hard would that be for them? Please give us a figure as to what Saudi could produce if they desired to do so.

Many want to assume the Saudi's are stupid, that seems to me to be the concept Simmons was promoting.

Simmons was not promoting anything of the sort. He was promoting the concept that the Saudis are not exactly forthcoming with the truth about their reserves or production capacity. He never once even hinted that they were stupid. And neither has anyone else on this list that I know of.

Ron P.

..noticing you did not post a link.

You have to read the link, posted above responding to Frugal.

Which is it?

Here replace the text:could be with 'could be given infastructure and logistic constraints'.

Please give us a figure as to what Saudi could produce if they desired to do so.

No, I don't have a figure please direct your question to Saudi Aramco at:


Saudi Aramco will probably think you are koo koo...... koo koo !

Simmons seemed to think Saudi Aramco was stupid enough to drive Ghawar off a cliff.

Half of Saudi Aramco's stated reserves are proven undeveloped.

Does this mean that Saudi Arabia has another Abqaiq, Shaybah, and Ghawar sitting somewhere in the desert just waiting for the thumbs up from King Abdullah? "Now you can start drilling".

Why then has Saudi Aramco decided to spend billions trying to squeeze more oil out of tough-to-extract fields such as Khurais and Manifa? Do you really believe they've decided to take the high-hanging fruit first, then when that's depleted, go for the easy stuff?

Frugal – Not a criticism of folks who debate KSA (or anyone else’s) reserve claims…their energy as they wish to spend. But as I made the point earlier: I have no more trouble accepting 300 billion bbls as 30 billion bbls. I couldn’t care less. What does concern me is how much will the exporters be able to deliver to us consumers in the future. Assume the exporters have 1 trillion bbl of proven reserves on 1 January 2020. How much could they supply on that date: enough to meet global demand…meet 70% of demand…meet 150% of demand.

Proven reserve values have zero implication for production rates. I can point to two real fields in Texas with REAL proven reserves. Field A has 23 million bbls and Field B has 7 million bbl. So which is aiding our energy demand the most? Field A has 28 wells producing on average 1.5 bopd…41 bopd total. Field B has 5 wells producing a total of 850 bopd. Field A has 3X as much proven reserves but Field B produces 20X as much rate.

As far as the statement that the KSA could produce 60 million bopd in the future. Of course that’s possible: all they have to do is drill a lot of wells into existing fields and spend $billions more increasing the infrastructure. Of course, it wouldn’t be economical to over drill these fields but they could do it…if they went insane. The point being: any statement that county A can increase its production to X million bopd but doesn’t offer specific details on how it will be done and show the economic justification then the statement is worthless IMHO.

But there is some value in offering valid indications that any producer is misrepresenting their proven reserves. If you can’t trust that number how can you trust what they say about current/future production rate?

Proven reserve values have zero implication for production rates. I can point to two real fields in Texas with REAL proven reserves. Field A has 23 million bbls and Field B has 7 million bbl. So which is aiding our energy demand the most? Field A has 28 wells producing on average 1.5 bopd…41 bopd total. Field B has 5 wells producing a total of 850 bopd. Field A has 3X as much proven reserves but Field B produces 20X as much rate.

But we're not talking about individual fields, we're talking about all the combined OPEC reservoirs versus all the combined non-OPEC reservoirs. When you have such large sample sizes, there's gotta be some kind of systematic relationship between real (P50)reserves and average production. You will have fields with large flow rates as well as small flow rates in both OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing areas, but why would the flow rates be six times lower in OPEC countries? Is the geology that much worse in OPEC countries? In the case of Saudi Arabia, how does inferior (six time worse) geology square with the excellent properties of the Arab D zone?

Frugal - "When you have such large sample sizes, there's gotta be some kind of systematic relationship between real (P50)reserves and average production." Might be difficult to believe but no. I can make the same analogy with entire trends. Take two extremes: DW GOM and Venezuela. I don't know the ratio but I would bet the URR/rate of the real Vz reserves greatly exceeds that of the DW fields. To your point about averaging out: average Vz and DW GOM and what do you get: a meaningless number IMHO that doesn't come close to representing either.

Of course I don't view the KSA numbers as serious either. It's very easy to reject them as unrealistic IMHO. But having said that could I come up with a realistic number for a global profile? Yes...if I had all the detailed geologic and production data at hand. Me and a dozen engineers/geologists could knock it out in a few months. But the data, especially for the ME, isn't available. But it is available to a fair degree for the US. Do we believe anyone's numbers for US URR? Again, I'll accept any US URR number anyone wants to toss out because I don't care what it is. The production rate vs. URR may be a good reality check. But since I don't care if anyone's URR are correct then it doesn't matter if it's real or not.

My point was that arguing over URR doesn't address the issue. The issue is simply the future max production rate we can expect, year by year, for the next 30 or 40 so years. No an easy task there, of course. Especially since it can be masked by low demand periods. So I don't care if the KSA proven reserve number (or any global estimate) has a disconnect to production rates. It's easy to debate URR because it's a simple number: X billion bbl. And since there is no data set available to anyone to analyze the debate can go on endlessly. Now let's see someone put a max potential global oil production rate curve, year by year, for the next 40 years.

Not so easy to shoot from the hip, eh? Even with all the data for the US it's not simple task: how much more will the fractured oil shales develop? And what will their decline rate look like in the long term? And you can't begin to predict their continued development without a valid price model...anyone have a clearly defendable projection for the price of oil in 2018? 2025? The shale gas players thought NG prices would support their efforts for many years...they were very wrong. And have we tapped half the DW GOM oil reserves? Or 90% of them? Or 20% of them? Since none of the exploration companies out there are sharing their data base I have no idea. One day Brazil will be producing a lot of its DW oil. We can debate their URR all day long but if we don't have a valid model for Bz economic growth then how do we know they'll be exporting any of this production? And let's say we come up with even a poor model for global max oil rates how does that factor into oil availability to the US? Consider China acquiring rights around the globe and the ELM effect: if we can prove with no doubt the world will be producing at a max rate of XX million bopd in 2020 will the US still be importing as much as we do today? More? Less? Less than the economy requires to sustain itself?

I would really like to see anyone's model for this reality. But given all the grand assumptions one would have to make I'm not sure any effort could stand much scrutiny.

Does this mean that Saudi Arabia has another Abqaiq, Shaybah, and Ghawar sitting somewhere in the desert just waiting for the thumbs up from King Abdullah?

Probably not.

Saudi Aramco also stated that they have 320 proven reservoirs, a fraction of which are on production. It would seem that the lowest hanging fruit is from mega sized projects. The higher hanging fruit being from relatively smaller fields/reservoirs.

Saudi Aramco will need to be more nimble in the future. For now mega sized projects are carrying the damn near 10 million bpd ball.

Wasn't Kuwait caught with their pants down a few years ago. Their numbers realy was inflated just as much as a theoretical guess woule assume. And if they inflated their numbers, why would not everyone else? And people don't pick up this olds?

(Olds == news that are old).

Re: As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks, up top:


Found via RealClimate:


Methane is stored as hydrates in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and surrounding permafrost. 1,672 Gt (Gt = 1 billion tons) of methane is stored under terrestrial permafrost alone, twice the current atmospheric content of carbon. Ongoing observations and analysis forecast a similar amount is held in sub-sea stores. As undersea permafrost thaws it releases the stores of 'free' gas (or methane hydrates) hidden beneath it. A sudden 50 Gt release is deemed increasingly "highly possible".

This represents less than 2.5% of the potential 2,200 Gt estimated to be capable of release in the ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf) area. Yet it would increase the burden of methane in the atmosphere by 11 or 12 times. This would cause global warming to speed up by a factor of 4 or 5 times, and the local warming by a much greater factor, resulting in further methane release - a methane feedback. Thus it would almost certainly lead to runaway global warming, with abrupt and catastrophic climate change.

For all those on this forum who routinely sneer at so-called "doomers": You are about to get an object lesson, courtesy of the school of complex systems, in the power of positive feedbacks to rapidly produce extremely negative consequences.

Have a nice day.


I think the women are in Alaska.

A description of a local positive feedback, of how the bubbles rising from the thawing methane clathrates could cause circulation of warm surface waters back down to the melting ices, concerns me.

Arabian cyclones intensified by S. Asian pollution: study

PARIS — Airborne pollution from South Asia is helping to brew monster storms in the Arabian Sea that have claimed thousands of lives and cost billions of dollars, scientists said on Wednesday.

In a paper published in the British journal Nature, researchers pointed the finger at a haze known as the Asian brown cloud, which hangs over parts of the northern Indian Ocean, India and Pakistan.

In June 2007, cyclone Gonu, a category five storm, killed 49 people in Oman and Iran, causing more than four billion dollars in damage. It was the first documented storm ever to enter the Gulf of Oman. And in June 2010, 26 people were killed in Pakistan and Oman by a category-four cyclone, Phet, inflicting losses of nearly two billion dollars.

"This study is a striking example of how human reactions, on a large enough scale -- in this case, massive regional air pollution caused by inefficient fuel combustion -- can result in unintended consequences," said Anjuli Bamzai of the US National Science Foundation.

"These consequences include highly destructive summer cyclones that were rare or non-existent in this monsoon region 30 or so years ago."

Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051678

This is trending to be more common. The LNG facilities in Qatar are only 200 miles from Oman. A Cat 4-5 can do as much damage to Ras Tanura as an Iranian scud. Geopolitics isn't the only player in this neighborhood.

Nissan Leaf: Too subtle, too limited

Also from the Globe and Mail:Nissan’s Leaf can power a house

Nissan wants to make its all-electric car, the Leaf, a secondary power source for homes.

People in Japan are getting fed up with power outages and promoting an electric car as a source of backup power in blackouts.

Indian Point: The Next Fukushima?

... The essential characteristic of this technology is that the reactor’s uranium fuel — about 100 tons in a typical plant — melts quickly without cooling water. The containment structures surrounding the reactors — even the formidable-looking domes at Indian Point — were not designed to hold melted fuel because safety regulators 40 years ago considered a meltdown impossible.

They were wrong, and we now know that radioactive material in the melted fuel can escape to contaminate a very large area for decades or more.

Martenson Podcast: Jack Keller: Understanding Peak Water

Similar to oil and other key natural resources that are mined and consumed, water is subject to the same exponential trends. Both surface supply and underground fossil stores of clean water are depleting at alarming rates, and the energy and economic costs of extraction are swiftly increasing.

Texas water plan set for approval but complicated by population growth, reservoir dispute


"In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises,” board chairman Edward G. Vaughan wrote in the introduction.

What exactly do they think happens when they do not "meet the needs" of the people, businesses and agriculture???



Re: Jews support climate policy because of Israel (link up top)

I hope I'm not the only one who finds this article to be based upon patently offensive premises? We could start with the assumption of Jews = Zionists and go from there. I'm not sure whether to blame the Israeli hard right and its promotion of human rights abuses and militarism, or the right wing in this hemisphere for being so eager to seize upon this supposed connection to advance its own agenda (in this case the dismantling of climate policy). In any case, let me take this opportunity to point out that not all of us support Israel's fascist government, and I'm rather taken aback at the undercurrent here. IMHO the AIPAC folks are doing all they can to promote the cause of anti-Semitism in the region and around the world by claiming to speak for all Jews, and doing so in a way that makes us sound like unthinking, unfeeling fools.

The author of that piece is clearly a Jew who doesn't support climate policy. I realize that article is a bit "out there" (as the "War is coming home" one is on the other direction). I include a few such articles (not too many), just because I think it's worth keeping an eye on what people are thinking, on both ends of the political spectrum.

Amen to that, Leanan.

Good sense dictates that you keep a close eye on your friends, and both eyes on potential adversaries.

To be clear, I don't mind your including the article in the Drumbeat, Leanan, just the (author's) premise of speaking on behalf of entire ethnic/religious groups.

I don't mean to be offensive to anyone but I personally cannot believe in the existence of a group of 'Jews' or any other subgrouping. I kind of stop at the human/non human distinction and I don't care to go any further.

Are you joking? Denying the existence of groups and subgroups of people is absurd. I fully understand your desire to be politically correct but there is such a thing as carrying political correctness to absurdity. Baptist are a religious group and Southern Baptist are a subgroup of them. And they would not take kindly to you trying to lump them in with the Methodist. And heaven help you if you tried to include them in the same group as the Catholics.

Let us not get ridiculous. People like to be put in groups and they are very proud of their particular group.

Ron P.

What has political correctness got to do with anything? People make far too much of mundane sub-groupings. You can understand specific things about people without even acknowledging any specific grouping. Eats pork? Yes/No. Drinks? Yes/No. Why should I have to care if someone calls themselves an X or a Y? As far as im concerned affiliations are about as important as which sports team you support.

Your point made perfect sense, Sq.

It seemed clear enough you were saying 'we can't define two people the same just because they are in the same group' ..

As the Walrus said, "I don't believe in Beatles.." .. but to get it one needs to listen to the person, not just pick apart their words.

People make far too much of mundane sub-groupings.

I don't understand why you think that. Sub groupings are not usually mundane at all. But even if they are to go from that to: "I kind of stop at the human/non human distinction and I don't care to go any further" is ridiculous. You cannot stop putting people in groups just because some people make too much of some sub-groups.

You miss the mark Squilliam, the problem is not the grouping of people. Your brush is way too broad.

The author of the post writes like he/she is also a Jew. "not all of us support Israel's fascist government," and he/she makes this very important point: "I'm not sure whether to blame the Israeli hard right and its promotion of human rights abuses and militarism,.." In other words there are sub-groups of Israels, (the hard right), and they may be to blame for this misunderstanding.

If one cannot separate out the ones, the sub-group, of those who are to blame then one must blame them all. That would be the evil in not being able to put people into sub-groups.

Ron P.

Ron - When it comes to humanity a broad brush is all that is needed. If you start placing too much importance on various sub-groupings then you lose sight of the bigger picture. It is a lot easier and a lot more comfortable to say THEY are evil and WE are not. It is a lot easier to not acknowledge that the bad people you see in another group are also identical to the bad people of your own group. Just as a company can fail if they lose sight of the possibility that they can make a bad decision a country can also commit very bad atrocities if people lose sight of their own ability to be evil.

Unless you have specific information about a specific person then all you have to work with is the baseline human average and whatever data you have about them. Then you move your little imaginary pointer away from the mean by how much information you have. Given the fact that we don't have much information about even specific 'terrorists' you cannot simply say that they are cruel and heartless mean jerks because you don't have enough information. The major problem with the mean is that most people have a great capacity to do harm or commit evil acts so it doesn't take much movement from the mean (if any is required at all) to take average Joe or Joline and turn him/her into a 'bad person'. Just because we don't acknowledge certain behaviours by certain 'friendly people' as being bad or evil doesn't make them any less so.

Humans fail to learn from history because human nature hasn't changed much if at all in a historical context.

Squilliam, subgroups form because, as a group, they are different. That is exactly why they organize into sub-groups. Al-Qaeda is a subgroup of the Sunni which is a subgroup of Islam. And they are terrorist dedicated to doing harm to the U.S. and other Western Nations. And to say that we should not separate Al-Qaeda from most Muslims is.... words fail me. I just don't see how you, or anyone else for that matter, say we should not separate some people into subgroups. To say that Al-Qaeda should be lumped into one group called Islam and judge them all alike is absurd.

But some people are doing exactly that and I find it despicable! And that is exactly why I vehemently disagree with you that we should not divide people into subgroups.

Of course part of your reasons, as you state above, is that grouping people into any kind of group obscures our own guilt, or obscures the guilt of others in our own group. Perhaps it does that in some ways but that is no excuse for not pointing out the problems with Al-Qaeda, or Hamas, or the Mafia, or the Nazis, or even the extreme right or the extreme left in our own country. If it does then that is political correctness gone to seed.

Actually Squilliam I find your original post just a little sanctimonious, claiming that you never divide people into groups, implying that this is just not the proper thing to do.

Ron P.

I think you need to experience a http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/sam_richards_a_radical_experiment_in_em...

What I have said is absolutely politically incorrect. What I have said is that guilt is shared much more evenly than is officially acknowledged, it is as simple as that. Is there any significant difference between a soldier in the U.S. army and a soldier in the Wehrmacht? If one of these 'terrorists' grew up in the United States would you instead be praising him and putting him forwards for a congressional medal of honour under different circumstances?

Many of the same people you chat with and read posts here on TOD if raised in a different environment as smart, practical and morally sound people may have become the same terrorists you profess to loathe. Many of the terrorists you loathe if raised in a different environment may have fitted in just fine here on TOD and made excellent contributions and you may have even told them how much you respect them.

We should not separate Al-Qaeda from Muslims and we should not separate Al-Qaeda from the U.S. military and the military from Christianity nor should we separate the financial backers of Al-Qaeda from the congressmen and women. We also should not assume that one country has people who are better than another countries people. We should not assume that one religion has more moral practitioners than another religion. People are people, almost all capable of performing great acts of good, evil and indifference.

Give me a little information about a person then all I can do is take the baseline and modify it slightly from the mean based on how little information I actually have. Give me a little information about a lot of people and the same applies. Give me a lot of information about how a person is evil then I can comfortably say that person is evil, but that level of information is never available about the individual motivations within a larger group of people.

I never claimed to never divide people into groups. Dividing people into groups is too convenient a mental shortcut to dispense with entirely, after all system 2 is quite lazy.

What is more sanctimonious, claiming moral equivalence with the enemy or saying that you're morally superior to said enemy?

Making a show of being morally superior to other people.
hypocritical - pious


great video. and yet, taking a step back from it. you should realize that after you feel their pain(if you feel it) the only way to lesson their pain, is to increase yours. western civilization and civilization in general as it is understood only exists now because of the presence of other area's of the globe where they can exploit both resources and people. in fact it has always exploited someone else for it's gain, at first nature and then also each other. there is no equality in nature nor in civilization, the only way for the world to be treated equally is if we find some off planet place to exploit. and then he will make some ted talk presentation about some poor persecuted martian miner etc.

Before it was third world nations it was our own populace. slaves of another ethnic background along with the poor trapped in company owned towns payed money only valid in said town. it was also the work population in general with lack of rules and regulations where not only adults but kids faced lethal threats to life and limb while working every day for small wages while a small few made out like bandits in the county. But then things were forced to progress, appalled at kids dying child labor was abolished. through force of numbers and will wages were improved along with working conditions. slavery was prematurely abolished. worker protections and rights were established abolishing company towns and company stores. but as this progress happened in our own country the need for exploitation was moved from our own shores to other countries. ad first this was done through trade wars, then actual wars.

People here in the states long to return to what they view as the hay-day of the post ww2 boom, completely forgetting that that this was only possible because through the act of war we further pushed the exploitation father afield. our 'manufacturing prowess' was only due to the fact we were the only one of two sources left. Europe had no base anymore, Germany destroyed Britain's during the blitz and a lot of the ussr's. the united states and Britain with borrowed weapons destroyed the rest of Europe's. we also not only destroyed but leveled japan's industry too. This just left the united states, and the ussr as the only sources left. it was and still is the same with agriculture, we funded and ran various totalitarianism coups in island nations as well as ones in south and central america for banana's as one example. nafta and other 'free trade' agreements are modern day extensions of this.

basically this leaves two options. Option one to keep things going here we must step up our exploitation of other area's, more aggressive policy's abroad. making other nations and people supply the resources and work that we won't or can't do here. or option two we willingly take a step or two back allowing our own people to be exploited so that some of us can continue on as we were through austerity and removal of a previous generations hard won gains(anti child labor laws, worker protection and good wages, etc). there is no middle ground, no way to have everyone sing haply and equally. civilization never worked that way.

This is very wild "history". Lots either wrong or major bits left out.

our 'manufacturing prowess' was only due to the fact we were the only one of two sources left. Europe had no base anymore, Germany destroyed Britain's during the blitz and a lot of the ussr's. the united states and Britain with borrowed weapons destroyed the rest of Europe's. we also not only destroyed but leveled japan's industry too.

great video. and yet, taking a step back from it. you should realize that after you feel their pain(if you feel it) the only way to lesson their pain, is to increase yours. western civilization and civilization in general as it is understood only exists now because of the presence of other area's of the globe where they can exploit both resources and people. in fact it has always exploited someone else for it's gain, at first nature and then also each other. there is no equality in nature nor in civilization, the only way for the world to be treated equally is if we find some off planet place to exploit. and then he will make some ted talk presentation about some poor persecuted martian miner etc.

It isn't a binary relationship, I.E. you can't say it's one or the other. A lot of the exploited places in the past have now become the exploiters, previously it was Japan and now oil exporters and places like China are quickly reigning in American economic expansionism. Even in Iraq the government is creaming it with very tight servicing contracts when I am sure the oil companies expected something a little more lucrative. As resources become scarcer the power shifts to those whom have the resources as we have seen in the past 10 years especially.

Anyway the point of the video wasn't about exploitation it was about empathy. It was talking about understanding why something like an insurgency or terrorism exists through the eyes of people in the Middle East and how that can be applied to other parts of peoples lives. It is too easy to dismiss the actions of others as the work of evil especially when you do not understand or acknowledge personally your own role in motivating those actions and your own perpetuation of evil.

I showed that one to my wife (Jewish-American Princess extraordinaire). Can't repeat her response, but the dogs left the room. Sounded sort of like shill. Maybe it was yiddish ;-)

She was especially baffled by the last paragraph...

To make the West energy independent, the West needs only to develop its own fossil fuels. They are both bountiful and affordable, so much so that imports from hostile Middle East countries could be quickly eliminated. Jews in the West who care about Israel, and who want the foreign policies of their own governments to be formed free of fear of retribution from Middle East oil states, can best help their cause by working to remove senseless restrictions on homegrown energy development.

"What in the [heck] does that have to do with Jews and climate change?!"

Perhaps they are thinking of developing some sort of Biofuels out of the everpresent KoolAid?

Not much-directly.

But the politics are simple enough.If the author or speaker is pro Israel, the reasoning is that the American / Israeli security and economic alliance is threatened because we are necessarily indebted in more ways than one to their mortal enemies so long as we are dependent on said enemies for our black stinky industrial life blood.

The speaker does correctly recognize that the Jewish population in America wields political and economic power way out of proportion to its actual numbers, and that is is in the strategic interest of Israel that we free ourselves from purchasing oil from their enemies-which simultaneously strengthens the enemies as it weakens us Yankees.

Climate change is merely a convenient spot for the author to inject her(his?) argument into a discussion among people already talking about fossil fuels and the Mid East and thereby hopefully score some pro Israeli points.

Hence the message is that any right thinking Jew would get with the Tea Party and Newt and support drill baby drill!

It seems we have more than just a few values and opinions in common .I was once blessed with a beautiful and talented Jewish American princess of my own.

I wouldn't mind at all having her back even though she IS sort of dumpy and gray these days.;-)

Shale gas isn't economical at these prices so if that doesn't change quickly, this has to be the beginning. The ng rig count has been drifting lower for many months so supply should not be significantly increasing anymore. I really wonder if the big players aren't playing the same con as this company was.

Tracinda filed the lawsuit earlier this month in a Nevada court against Edward Mike Davis, claiming that he misrepresented the quality and character of Delta’s oil reserves and its financial condition.

Also looks like the ng companies are winning some regulatory battles. Time is ticking on them.

Enviros beat the coal lobby – shock

Bob Brackett, a gas industry analyst with Bernstein Research, points out that some of the companies have been spending two to five times their internally generated cash flow, and their financing terms are getting much less favourable. Shale developers such as Chesapeake are raising money with what are, in effect, high-yield loans secured by new properties, with investors getting fat royalty payments from production on top of their interest payments.

gog -"with investors getting fat royalty payments from production on top of their interest payments." Perhaps more than royalty but also a significant working interest in the wells. There's been a source of capex in the oil patch for decades: mezzanine bankers. Really more like investors than bankers. Typical deal: they "loan" the capex and charge interest. But there's a limit on interest rates so there's a kicker: the MB earns a working interest in the production. I've seen MB's end up with 20 -25% of a project. And often with provisions for the MB to be paid back with most if not all of the initial cash flow. The typical sneaky part: the operator owns all the well when it's completed so it gets to book all the reserves. But eventually has to assign some of those reserves back to the MB. But the hope is that the next wells drilled add enough reserves to replace depletion AND reassigned reserves to the MB. Think what that means to a public company: they get the capex to keep drilling and thus adding to their reserve base. But the bulk of the net revenue could be going to the MB for the first year or two. Then you factor in the high decline rate and by the time the operator backs into the cash flow much of a well's URR will have been produced.

It's easy to see how the share holders can come out hanging onto the short end of the stick in such situations. Unlike musical chairs, you don't want to be the last one remaining in the game.

Years ago, the "Ford has a better idea" tagline was used to promote such stellar products as the Pinto and Maverick. In this same spirit but hopefully to better effect, Nova Scotia Power has converted its oldest coal-fired power plant into a spanking new LEED Platinum head office. The building is flooded with daylight and heated and cooled by sea water.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/43238-nsp-staff-buzzed-view-power-...

I use to work in the office building across the street from this old relic and would watch the smoke belch from its stacks. That crystallized everything for me.

No more coal-fired power plants !



The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

What do you guys think would this do to oil prices?

With all due respect, please not that that story is dated 30 November, so it's more than 2 weeks old. There's lots of conjecture in that story and the recent price for Brent has shown little change. Perhaps Mr. Market has spoken and answered your question. Of course, if the Iranians have made more recent statements which confirm the conjecture in the report, maybe the price of oil will rise...

E. Swanson

I saw several stations in Huntsville, Alabama with gasoline for 299.9 a gallon today so it hasn't done much to increase the price. And Brent dropped just over five bucks this week soooo...

Ron P.

I will be visiting Huntsville for a week of training during the last week in February 27 - March 1. I've been all over much of the U.S., but never that far into the southeast.
Can you recommend any good restaurants (preferably BBQ related)or other places and things to do?
I'm looking forward to the visit as it comes during one of the colder parts of the winter up here in northern Minnesota.


Botanist, I am strictly a fast food man myself but I like Lawler's Barbecue, three locations in Huntsville. Occasionally we drive out to Greenbrier Bar-B-Que near Madison, Al. That is just right off the interstate. That is probably the best barbecue place around.

About the only real attraction we have here is the Space and Rocket Center. (Wiki writeup) It is really interesting if you are into the space program.

It is still pretty cold here the last of February but a lot warmer than in Minnesota. I just moved back here from Pensacola Fl. and I can tell the difference this time of year. I was born and raised here. I may be moving back to Pensacola in a year or so, and I am looking forward to it.

Ron P.

My thoughts on the story:

1. Gas prices here in California have been slowly going down over the past month or so.
2. I remember in the 1970s, before the Islamic revolution, that Iran was developing nuclear power and we were helping them. I see a kind of continuity in their pursuing nuclear electric generation.
3. We shold be very wary of the war drums. There seems to be a portion of mankind that sees a military solution to every problem
4. Nuclear generation of electricity requires enrichment. If I recall correctly conventional nuclear plants require something like six percent enrichment. That is a huge task, even for a single power plant.
5. Given the war drums by the usual suspects, the irrational hatred of the Iranian government, the growing Iranian population I think its possible they only want to generate electricity.
6. If the US really, really hated me, like they seem to hate Iran, I would want a nuclear bomb too. After all the US has something like 10,000 of them and seems to be cowed by the single, inept, nuclear demonstration by North Korea.

edit: spelling

I would add a couple of mini points.
The nuclear thing, for Iran is primarily an issue of national pride. They also want some nuclear materials for stuff like medicine and industrial research, i.e. access to various special isotopes. They don't trust the international community to supply this, and that has been jsutified, as we've cut off the supply of such peaceful N materials. I heard yesterday the Russians arrested an Iranian trying to board a plane with N-material -it was stuff for nuclear medicine. But, you can bet it will be spun into trying to smuggle weapons material....

The problem, is we've created a political/media environment, where beating war drums is the politically expedient thing to do. The plebs eat it up, and the would be politician who resists it gets cobbered. So the wanna be's try to outdo each other.

But but... we've got the latest happy bomb for Iran all picked-out and delivered to stock!... 11 of them in November 2011: The GBU-57A/B... Bigger than the old GBU-43/B from 2003.

This Aviation Explorer report ties the weapon's development to addressing a perceived need to destroy claimed Iranian bunkers:
as does this CNN piece:


Look no further than Pakistan- this is a country that was complicit in selling nuclear technology to N Korea and Libya, where Osama Bin Laden was hiding and the source of most terrorism in the world today. Yet far from being isolated receives regulars visits from US officials all because it has a nuclear weapon.

The idea that Iran would use a nuclear weapon on anybody can only come from the minds of a country has actually used a nuclear weapon. The idea that they would hand over these weapons to a terrorist are even more ridiculous- almost in the category of Jon Corzine voluntarily surrendering his wealth to make the customers of MF Global because it was the "right thing". I have said this before- some countries know what we are incapable of learning- today's terrorist friend is tomorrow's terrorist enemy.

Russian drilling rig sinks off Sakhalin, 51 missing
Jackup rig being towed came into a storm and started leaking. Capsized before crew could abandon rig.

Congressman Rohrabacher’s speech on climate issues (from Watts Up With That)

In my lifetime there’s been no greater example of this threat, which Ike warned us about, than the insidious coalition of research science and political largess, a coalition that has conducted an unrelenting crusade to convince the American People that their health and safety, and yes the very survival of our planet, is at risk due to man-made global warming. The purpose of this greatest of all propaganda campaigns is to enlist public support for, if not just acquiescence to, dramatic mandated change of our society, and to our way of life.

This campaign has such momentum and power that it is now a tangible threat to our freedom, and to our prosperity as a people. Ironically, as the crusade against Man-made Global Warming grows in power, more evidence surfaces every day that the scientific theory, on which the alarmists base their crusade, is totally bogus. The general public and decision makers for decades have been inundated with phony science, altered numbers, and outright fraud. This is the ultimate power grab in the name of saving the world. And like all fanatics, disagreement is not allowed.

Hopefully Congressman Rorhabacher's expertise on climate change is superior to his expertise on the Afghanistan circa 1996...

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher: An Expert on South and Central Asia

The potential rise to power of the Taliban does not alarm Rohrabacher, because the Taliban could provide stability in an area where chaos was creating a real threat to the U.S. Rohrabacher says that under the previous situation Afghanistan was becoming a major source of drugs and a haven for terrorists “an anarchistic state of narco-terrorism.” In contrast, the Taliban leaders have already shown that they intend to establish a disciplined, moral society.

Rohrabacher calls the sensational media reporting of the “harsh” imposition of strict Islamic behavior, with the underlying implication that this somehow threatens the West, “nonsense.” He says the Taliban are devout traditionalists, not terrorists or revolutionaries, and, in contrast to the Iranians, they do not seem intent on exporting their beliefs. Rohrabacher would have preferred to see a negotiated compromise among the various factions (but with no role for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar) rather than a bloody confrontation. But in the absence of such a compromise, he believes a Taliban takeover would be a positive development.

EDIT: Sorry, but I couldn't resist adding this little gem from the same article....

Rohrabacher dismissed speculation from some quarters that a Taliban takeover would lead to increased Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, upsetting both India and Iran and leading to further instability in the area if either of those countries feel that Pakistan has gained significant control over Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan has learned, as did the British a century and a half ago, that no outside force can “control” the Afghans. He believes that India and Iran, as well as the new nations of former Soviet Central Asia, would soon enough learn that they have nothing to fear from a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

It's on HuffPo this morning. EDIT : acknowledgement - Reuters.


"No oil spill was likely, but the disaster will deal a blow to efforts by Russia, the world's largest energy producer, to step up offshore oil and gas exploration to offset a long-term production decline at its onshore production"

EDIT 2 : I'm watching the youtube video link you posted - the voice-over just said "holding a massive billion barrels of crude and half a trillion cu. m. of natural gas"

Massive ???

Well, it seems massive. 1 billion barrels of oil I think is considered a giant oil field . But yes it does not really move the needle a lot since it is less than two weeks of daily global production.

RT Moscow reports 67 on board. Only 14 rescued. The rest now feared dead. Rig sank too quickly for crew to reach lifeboats. According to RT, rig was being towed in unsafe weather conditions.

How high is a typical Rig ? And how much time does it take to evacuate it completely ?

wi - Here are the specs on that class rig. Don't be confused: the picture shows one being transported on a lift ship.


Normally it can take around 10 minutes for hands to reach abandon ship stations. Then less than 5 minutes to board escape capsules. In rough seas it could take a good bit longer. The biggest problem is the hesitance to button up and launch without all hands on board. Each station has "checkout cards" you pull when you arrive. Launch officer will want to wait for all hands accounted for...sometimes too long. Tough call for the launch officer: don't make it off in an escape capsule and the odds of surviving are small. The curse of command: life and death decisions.

But I don't know what type of escape system they have on this rig. US Coast Guard rquiremens are very good. Russian: I have no idea.

The story linked above "Analysis: Brazil's oil boom could see its first bust" is significant. The deep water oil bubble is bursting. When I first heard about the deep water oil finds, I was skeptical about these fields being commercially viable in the near future. It seems that my concerns were absolutely justified.

My take on Brazil deepwater is it will come in at a cost of production per barrel that is close to if not exceeding what the world economy can afford to pay.

People's reaction will be aghast that on the one hand all these barrels of oil are there and some is being extracted, but fail to realise its all about what's economical, as ultimately EROEI has the final say.

What energy shortage?

Look, I’ve heard this for years. The so-called Peak Oil crowd thinks the world is running out of petroleum. And that the advancement of underdeveloped countries is going to hasten the day when there isn’t enough oil to go around.

That’s nonsense!

What will happen is this: If there is an oil shortage, then developed countries will suddenly find a new incentive to develop alternative energy sources. Electric cars and hybrids will become common. Hydrogen autos will start to come into their own.

Hydrogen cars will save the day!

Ron P.

Hydrogen cars will save the day!

BMW 7-series hydrogen-powered car spotted on roads in Germany in 2006!

Closely following a sighting of a Hydrogen-powered 7 series during testing, BMW officially announced the Hydrogen 7 today. The car is touted as the first hydrogen-drive luxury performance automobile for everyday use. The BMW Hydrogen 7 will be built in a limited series, and sold to select customers in the U.S. and overseas in 2007. The engine in the Hydrogen 7, a derivative of the 7 series 12 cylinder engine, is capable of running on gasoline or hydrogen, and produces 260 hp. The car will accelerate from 0 to 62.1 mpg in 9.5 seconds. The ability to run on both gasoline and hydrogen gives the Hydrogen 7 a range of more than 400 miles. The high tech hydrogen storage tank has a capacity of approximately 17.6 lb of liquid hydrogen, giving the Hydrogen 7 a cruising range in hydrogen mode upwards of 125 miles. The gasoline mode accounts for an additional 300 miles of cruising range. The driver is the one who decides which fuel to use, with a smooth transition between both operating modes, since the engine power and torque remain identical regardless of the fuel used.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 luxury automobile is set to hit the streets as a lease in April 2007.

Wiki's take As of November, 2006 there were only five filling stations in the entire world that supported BMW’s filling technology,...

And I found several links similar to these two, all dated 2006 or early 2007, as was your link Max. Where is the BMW Hydrogen 7 today? How many hydrogen filling stations are there today? What does the future of hydrogen powered cars look like today. I know what the future looked like 5 years ago. Is that future here today? Or has it been abandoned as being totally impractical?

Ron P.

Iranian parliament starts preparing impeachment of President Ahmadinejad:


"The Iranian Parliament has started preparations for the impeachment of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The reason may come from disagreements between the president and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei..." - c/o source

The strained relations between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have been visible for a while, leaving the president quite isolated and vulnerable. His days in office, I suspect, are numbered even without impeachment.

Iran is a very complex country complicated by the fact that it is an 'Islamic Republic'. Power is much more diffuse than most outsiders think, since the religious leadership trumps the civil head of state. Yet in many ways, the mullahs govern over a very open and somewhat amoral public. Birth rates plummeted in the last twenty years, the fastest decline by any country ever, while women, even professional women, routinely sell themselves out to prostitution. See Sex, drugs and Islam. Another odd bit of trivia, want the government to pay for your sex change? Go to Iran. Iran is second only to Thailand in number of transsexual surgeries performed each year.

Iran's foreign policy is straightforward: asserting its role as the Shi'ite powerhouse of the Middle East. Domestically, it's as all over the map as any secular liberal democracy. I think in some ways we overemphasize Ahmadinejad's bombastic rhetoric. He's the face out front, but he doesn't hold much clout - never did - in overall apparatus of governance. Now that's he's ticked off the Supreme Leader he'll be out looking for another job soon. He was useful in the days when he could court the Iranian equivalent of the "joe sixpack" vote. He lost those poker cards quite a while ago. The regime is eager to cut the albatross from around its neck.

Perhaps worth noting that as of posting, no other news agencies are carrying the story linked by x. The story is credited to Lenta.Ru but does not appear on their website anywhere I can see using Google Translate.

Edit: I think it is an old story from 6 months ago.

Interesting... very interesting...

6 months ago? Clearly not a credible source then.

Iranian politics is volatile for the reasons mentioned above. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei don't like each other. Such a breaking story would be within the realm of the possible.

It's possible something is happening again now but the timing would seem to be very strange with all the sabre rattling directed at Iran right now. Who knows though.

The story at the original link is not a "breaking news" story as it was last cached by Google on the 14th December so is at least several days old and perhaps it has been there for months as well. The article is undated.

Undertow, yes, and disinformation is another possibility. But the story does appear to be a loose stray.

Mind you, there would be plenty of culprits around for a bit of mischief making: Israel, the US, and even from inside Iran itself.

Facebook finally commits to clean energy

After much pressure from Greenpeace and 700,000 online activists, Facebook has finally conceded to begin shifting away from using coal to power its data centres and promote renewable energy use.

Greenpeace and Facebook have announced that they will collaborate on the promotion of renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and develop programmes that will enable Facebook users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions.

The news comes two years after Greenpeace launched its global Unfriend Coal Campaign, enlisting 700,000 online activists to call on Facebook to power its datacentres with clean energy instead of coal, with the campaign setting the Guinness World Record for most Facebook comments in one day. As a result of the announcement, Greenpeace has ended its campaign against the social network.

See: http://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/energias/renovables/index/pag/pan...

In 2000, 51.7 per cent of America's electricity was generated through the burning of coal; coal's share has since fallen to 44.8 per cent, so there's been some progress. Here's hoping the move away from coal continues to accelerate going forward.


Well, that seemed to take a lot of arm twisting, but better late than never, I guess...

Have a couple of technical questions for you today Paul.

I have a client that operates a commercial greenhouse here - about 60,000 sq.ft - and heated by - electricity - a 630kW boiler!

he used to heat with used engine oil (from BC Ferries) for 15c/L - but those days are long gone!

No nat gas available here either.

We are looking at doing a wood chip boiler to take the heating "baseload" - can get wood chips delivered for about $80/dry ton - works out to about 1.8c/kWh that goes into the GH.

I thought about a heat pump water too, like the Thermea unit - but with a HW delivery temp of 80C, and no source of waste heat currently available, the COP from air to 80C would not be that great (but better than pure resistance, of course).

If we do the woodchip boiler, I guess it would be possible to do a heat pump on the boiler exhaust - would need some good SS coils though!

One of the things he has to do is to vent and heat at the same time to remove excess humidity - seems like a no brainer for a commercial/industrial dehumidifier. Have you had any experience with such?

Also, he is considering a lighting system - to take part of the GH to year round production (of tomatoes) in our cloudy winters on the "sunshine" coast... For this, I presume that good ol T8 Fluorescents, with the plant spectrum tubes, would be the best way to go?

I was thinking with LED's it would be possible to tune the light production to the specific wavelengths that the specific plants use, but likely still far more expensive than fluoro...



Hi Paul,

A wood chip boiler sounds like your best option by far. I also agree that a commercial/industrial dehumidifier is the way to go. Not sure how much humidity you need to remove, but would something like this work: http://www.thermastor.com/HI-E-DRY-Vehere/ ?

With regards to lighting, a twin-tandem T8 industrial is probably your least costly route at approximately $6.00 per linear foot. Four Philips F32T8/ADV850 lamps driven by a high efficiency 0.88 BF NEMA premium ballast provides about 10,240 mean lumens at approximately 112-watts (91 lumens/watt). Lamp life is 30,000 hours at 12 hours per start. FWIW, the greenhouses around here all seem to use either 4100K T8 or T12 linear fluorescent. Whether grow lamps offer much of an advantage compared to a standard 850 given their higher cost, I can't say. I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable on this end of things.


Thanks Paul,

That dehumidifier looks good. At 5.4 6pints/kWh, the COP is just under two - would have thought it would be higher than that - there probably more to it.

He has to vent when the humidity gets to 90% - at that point, the plants are starting to wilt and you are more likely to get fungus/mould problems.
So the normal procedure is open the roof vents and turn on the heat to drive the moisture out - very expensive!

So a few well placed dehumidifiers would be great value, IMO.

I know the grow lamps are very popular with the people doing "grow ops" - but price is not much of a concern for them!
I'll look into the light colour further - the grow tubes are certainly more expensive - but after you have bought the fixtures and installed them, it may not be that much in the scheme of things.

Reports I have read suggest the real value of lighting is an earlier, more reliable start to the growing season, and a longer one at the other end.
I would think, once it is in, that year round growing might be worthwhile, though this guy and his family sure appreciate the winter break!

The boiler i am looking at is the 1mm btu version of these:

I actually tracked down the GH owner in Vernon, who is very happy with his - helps that he lives 800m from a sawmill!


There are good Euro ones too, but they are about 3-4x the price!

Hi. Paul. I'm surprised nobody suggested biomass composting :


In simplistic terms, it is Agrilab's goal to develop an economical, environmentally friendly heating system, which will promote and sustain plant growth within a greenhouse (or any other structure) by generating, extracting, and distributing the renewable heat energy produced by microbial decomposition of organic biomass within a contained and controlled environment. The heat energy is to be generated in the biological decomposition process, and then transferred and distributed by the use of heat pipes to the interior of the greenhouse structure. The overall objective is to assist greenhouse operations in reducing dependency on natural gas as a primary energy source and to harvest the economic efficiencies of nature's own renewable resources. This same technology could, of course, be transferable to many other heating applications within the rural and agri-business communities, such as farm workshops, livestock facilities, military bases, facilities in the pulp and paper industry, etc.

Hi Ghung,

Actually, I did think about that ( though I hadn't seen that link).

I thought about doing a Jean Pain style system, but there are a couple of issues with doing biomass.

Firstly, you need half as much biomass again, as not all of it is composted.
Secondly, you need a lot of area, (and a new building for the Agrilab system)
The Agrilabs system also uses very expensive looking heat pipes (or Isobars, as they call them).

The best way to heat with compost is to put the pile either in the greenhouse, or right next door, and vent the exhaust gas (co2 rich) into the greenhouse. The Agrilab system goes to a lot of expense to just pipe in the heat. The system shown has a capacity of 500,000 btu/DAY - this place needs 1 to 2.5 million btu/hr, so you can see we are talking about a very large composting system!

If it was my greenhouse, I'd be experimenting with composting, but it's not, and the owner is looking for a simple solution, and the biomass boiler is that, and at about $100k for 1m btu.installed with the chip handling stuff, is good value

I may be able to try some other tricks there in the future, like composting, or using waste heat from biochar production, but the first priority is to get the electricity use down.

I do note that Agritech goes on about what they propose to do, but from their news section, it seems they haven't done anything since 2006. It looks to me like they have made an overly complex (=expensive) system - Jean Pain did it cheaper;

I am going to reclaim the ash from the thing - lots of potassium there!

How about a heat exchanger? The humid, warm air is pulled out through the heat exchanger and transfers its heat to the fresh air coming in. I don't know if there are commercial units, in your area, that will handle the flow required but they were available for house ventilation in the UK. I can't see them being very complicated or expensive, in fact I expect that they could be easily built using PVC roofing panels.


We could do that, and may yet do so. This will bring the incoming air up to the exit air temperature, but the real heat is in the moisture vapor - condense that and you get back much more heat.

An ideal system would have the air being dehumidified, and exit air going through HRV's.

In this case, it will be quite simple to put in free standing dehumidifiers, but installing HRV's will be a bit more complicated - there is no ducting of any sort, just the roof vents and the access doors. So putting them in is much more complicated that just plugging in some dehumidifiers.

Still, it IS inherently a smart thing to do.

It might be one for a Build it Solar type of cheap HEX, as the commercial ones will just be too expensive.

I'm always up for a MacGyver type solution, where there are no safety implications...

You might need ducting to make the de-humidifiers sufficiently efficient anyway, the warm, moist air will be hanging around near the top. Ground level is likely to be cooler and less humid. May well depend on the shape of the greenhouse, if in is long and rectangular or more square. Try a few hygrometers and thermometers at different heights before you dive in, know your enemy. If your incoming air is pretty cold then a heat exchanger will probably condense most of the humidity, hope it doesn't freeze (I don't have to worry about that here) :) Maybe use one of HiH's heat pumps to suck more heat out of the exiting air, discharge it REAL cold? If you go for MacGyver ping me for what I am thinking of to deal with high airflow.


I also agree that a commercial/industrial dehumidifier is the way to go.

http://www.sunnyjohn.com/indexpages/shcs.htm as a way to deal with humidity and temp.

Thanks for the link - that would be a great approach for a new greenhouse - i have seen a house in Australia that used an "earth tunnel" similar to that for cheap a/c!

In this case, as a retrofit, it would be quite a challenge - there are lots of pipes and concrete pathways on the floor, and the soil is completely covered by plastic. the plants are grown in plastic bags filled with sawdust - basically a hydroponic system - very unnatural!

it might be doable when next he has to replace the plastic, about every five years...

Sylvania shows double the PAR for a GRO tube compared to an 850. The literature also seems to indicate a plateau value for plant absorbtion, which, if enough supplemental lighting is installed, could make multi-level lighting useful. Of course, only light that actually hits the plant can be absorbed, so photometrics are important. I wonder if there's a glass coating which would trap gro-light inside the greenhouse without reflecting incident exterior light?

How about a woodchip boiler with a flue gas condenser? No heat pump and you can burn moist woodchips with good efficiency.

The real Mc Coy would be a wood fired boiler with enough capacity to heat a big hot water reservoir, say a few thousand liters, in a hurry.

That way it would also have enough capacity to operate a small steam engine which could drive a generator, and you could run your house on it for a couple of hours every day during the winter while topping off the heat sink.

You could also use it to top of any storage batteries you might have-this would greatly increase the utility of a pv system under cold cloudy short day winter conditions.

Of course you wouldn't get much use of of such a boiler /generator during warm weather, but lots of asset classes are economic to own with only intermittent use.Most heavy agricultural machinery sits idle for months at a time.

In a real pinch, you could always fire up such a boiler long enough to keep a food freezer properly chilled and drive a well pump long enough to put a couple of days worth of water in containers.

There are be times when grid juice and gasoline for a conventional backup generator are both unavailable, especially out in the boonies.

Modern gasoline does not store well, but wood kept dry is good for decades.

If properly designed, such a boiler might possibly run efficiently at a low enough output to drive the generator just hard enough to run a heat pump motor more or less constantly thru a long winter night.Then it would be useful for many more hours during a typical winter season.

Of course any excess juice should be routed into the local grid for credit.

I know it is not considered altogether kosher in green circles to do so, but most people I know out in the boonies burn a lot of household waste in their stoves, such as food wrappers and old newspapers and even left over food if there is no dog to feed it to.This stuff is otherwise land filled at considerable expense.

It's better imo to burn it, considering the big envelope.


In this case, a steam engine system wouldn;t produce any value.

His electric boiler is 630kW - that is a large steam engine - though these are actually available - at a price;

This is way beyond any home system, and you would need an ASME certified engineer to operate it etc etc.

I will add that for his emergency backup, he still has the oil fired boilers, and a certain amount of oil stored, plus some additional propane - he avoids using either unless absolutley necessary.

I originally came to this greenhouse looking to do a wood gasifier - engine - electricity project - the idea being the GH is a great use for the waste heat. And it is, but there's an "economic" problem...

Since the primary heat is electric, using wood (or any fuel) to produce electricity is pointless unless you produce enough waste heat that all your elec production is exported. And with fluctuating seasonal heating loads (by a factor of 5 to 1), there would be times when you aren't producing enough heat and others where you don;t need the heat at all.

So, if the system is small, you don;t become a net elec exporter, and you night just as well use the fuel for heat directly. If the system is large, such that it supplies most/all of the heat, then for 1/3 of the year, the waste heat has little value.

And for a large system, to provide 600kW of waste heat, we are talking about producing 300kWe - and with the normal de-rating for wood gas of 40%, that would be a 500kW genset!

It would also eat about 10 tons of woodchips per day!

Now, there is actually a trial being done in California of a wood gasifier and the waste heat for a greenhouse. It is a lot of work/equipment to produce 41kWe but once set up they could go bigger.
Check out the Californian project here;

BTW, for a great example of a home sized steam engine system, set up for battery charging, check this one out - your father would probably love this old style set setup!


@ Magnus

You could do a condenser like that, and it is something I am looking into. The water system operates at 80C, so this is right at the effective limit for atmospheric condensing. Keep in mind, the boiler already gets 85% of the heat, so this is an additional expense chasing another 10%. However, I still think it could be worth it, maybe a separate water system, operating at 50C, and heating a separate part of the GH, or maybe just an air to air heat exchanger, but either will be quite an additional expense. Likely we'll look at that after the fact.

As for moist chips, for the gasification boiler to work well, it actually likes some moisture, but not too much - 15-25% is ideal. If the chips were greener, then the exhaust heat could and would be directed to pre-drying them.
If stored under cover, the chips actually dry out fairly well. If out in the open, then our 4ft annual rainfall keeps them pretty wet!

Is the return temperature 80 C? That is a warm system from my p.o.w.

A condenser can be a realy good idea if moist fuel is cheaper then dried fuel. They are also becomming popular in Sweden for minor capacity increases for small scale district heating plants, all new plants have them.

I only know about very large scale gasification boilers. A reasonably expensive wood gas system that powers a genset should sell realy well in Sweden. The killer might be making it run with high availability and small staff.

No, 80C is the output temperature.
The return varies with the load time of year etc, but is still normally over 60.
You would obviously run this return water into the exhaust condenser first, but I'm still not sure it would be worth it - at this small scale.

It is a whole different ball game at larger (>1MW) scales. An updraft gasifier can handle the wet fuels, and then the condenser can get the heat back. But it costs almost the same to engineer such system whether it is 3MW or 1, but for 0.5 (or less) it is just too expensive. There is actually a company here in BC making updraft gasifiers for industry, but they are 2MW plus models and millions of $.

In this case, the simplicity and cost effectiveness of an off the shelf boiler is hard to beat. Especially given that this is a mom and pop operation, and the nearest technical support for industrial equipment is a 2hr trip away. So, given all this, I think the way forward is to keep it simple, even if it means giving up some efficiency.

For the genset systems you are talking about, I agree, an off the shelf system that has the wood gasifier and a matched genset would be ideal. Given that Sweden had gasifiers down to a fine (and mass produced) art in WW2, it is too bad that it is not resurrecting this technology today, it is being left to the tinkerers..


One start up company near San Francisco has taken this approach - they produce a "power pallet" that has the gasifier and a 10 or 20kW genset all on a standard industrial pallet, set up and ready to run. $26k for the 20kW unit


They are working on a 100kW unit - that would open up a lot of possibilities for using wood waste from small sawmills, landfills, forestry operations etc.

f they build it, I will buy it..

How much additional complexity/cost would it add to stick sawdust pelletizing on the front end of this thing (looks like it won't handle sawdust directly)? My Dad has some cabinet and woodworking shop customers that generate lots of sawdust (lots is relative of course), and I think they pay to have it hauled off.

Actually, it is not that difficult to pelletise sawdust - there are lots of off the shelf small pellet mills available, from as little as 100lbs/hr and upwards.

if you did that, you would be better off to just sell the pellets - if they wholesale for $4/40lb bag, that is $220 per ton - worth more than the lumber it came from!

Also worth more than the electricity you could produce from it. One kg of bone dry wood will give approx one kWh, so if you buyback rate is 10c, a ton is worth $100 of electricity - though you will also have about 2500kWh of recoverable heat.

They have tried using pellet ins the gasifier but it doesn't work well at all. As the pellet pyrolises, it expands and falls apart, and impedes the downward air flow. You really want block pieces of wood so the gases flow around the glowing char to crack the tars - I think even sawdust pressed into briquettes suffers the same problem as they fall apart.

For an updraft gasifier, going to a boiler or gas turbine, the tars in the gas are not a problem, but for an ICE, you need to run the gas over glowing char to crack all the tars, otherwise the inside of the engine will start to resemble a smokers lungs - and with similar implications for lifespan!

For your Dad, he would be better to burn the sawdust in a boiler for heat - the type I am considering - will burn sawdust, as will some types of stoves.
Now, the mill ends and offcuts would be perfect gasifier fuel! The 20kW unit would need about 25kg an hour to keep it going, and the hopper holds about five hours worth. Could load up in the morning, reload in the afternoon, and the unit will shut down automatically when it runs out of fuel. IF they can use the waste heat from the engine to displace nat gas or electric heat, this might be close to being worthwhile.

Life of the engine is about 20,000hrs - so it costs about 6.5c/kWh in equipment.

Thanks, very interesting subthread.

Unfortunately, he's based in Phoenix so heat is not generally a hot commodity (plus he's an electrical and controls guy although he's done some hydraulic, air, HVAC, and solar thermal stuff as it coincided with his scope on a project basis). The kind of light industrial woodshops (he's probably connected to 20 of them) we're talking about are there for the labor and regulatory climate, not the wood source, which is already sawn when it gets to Phoenix. Dimensioned hardwoods, cabinets, sash and door, etc. He's their guy because of his troubleshooting savvy on their machine tools and motor controls. He has done work in the past for a couple of sawmill customers in the northern part of the state, but honestly, I'm not even sure they are still open. With incentives, plus retail power rates, I think you could get to 15 cents a kwh in Phoenix for biomass electricity offsetting on-site consumption. It does sound like they should be pelletizing (not sure if they are now selling it to somebody offsite who does that), but they were definitely paying to get it offsite 15 years ago.

"so heat is not generally a hot commodity"



I was also going to suggest a drying kiln, but that is of no use to him either.

15c/kWh is a pretty good buyback rate. if you ran the thing for 12hrs/day, five days a week, you would have $9k of electricity. would take you three years to pay off the equip, but should last for 7 years. If they are paying waste disposal still then it may be worthwhile.
It is not really set up for 24hr operation, though they are working on it. If you did that, then your return would be $26k - a one year payback!
It would also use 1270 lbs of wood waste - per day - to achieve that.

Small scale electricity production is really hard to do - profitably.
While I have lots of biomass around here (coastal BC) my focus is on small hydro as it is the easiest to operate - though being allowed to build it is another story.

Still, with small scale (<100kW) you have efficiency issues. HYdro systems at <20kW get 60% water to wire efficiency. For the engines, the larger ones ( 300kW+) get more efficient, and especially in the MW range - you would get 50% more kWh per kg of wood - but I don;t consider that "small".

Here is an interesting cogen engine, 100kW unit, that uses inverters to interconnect with the grid, allowing it to feed in, automatic standby, etc.


This may enable some distributed generation and CHP where it couldn't be done previously - I'm sure some places in SF/northern Ca could make good use of the waste heat.

It is as close to an "off the shelf" unit as I have seen, and would make an excellent candidate for a woodgas engine (and is being trialled for such by Cal Forests) though it would de-rate to about 60kW.

I think for this greenhouse that these options re too far out there - the wood boiler + dehumid is a good combination. The owner didn't think lighting was worth while - and he would have to use less heat, as his service is at capacity when the boiler is on full. Taking off a good part of the load gives him some new options.

Still, electricity for a greenhouse just seems wrong!

The problem with pellets is that they are heavy, relative to their value. if you have to truck them any distance, the profit margin of the pellets gets eroded very quickly. And you have to bag them, and then stack the skids, and wrap them, and you can't double stack the skids for transport.

But they can be easily made, and stored - if they could find some local buyer it would be a good option.

Examples of small mills are here - most of them made in you-know-where;
They do need to be constantly fed the sawdust, but I'm sure your father could come up with a creative solution for that!

better units, made in Indiana;

And a fully automated unit from Europe - unattended operation - for a price;

You can see from the prices of those two euro units the economies of scale. At small scale (100lbs/hr) you can;t afford automation unless you can macgyver it. if you are paying for automation, then it costs almost the same to automate 100lbs/hr as it does for 1000. But 1000lbs/hr is a serious operation!

know out in the boonies burn a lot of household waste in their stoves, such as food wrappers and old newspapers and even left over food if there is no dog to feed it to.This stuff is otherwise land filled at considerable expense.

One can compost the newspapers and food as an example.
Vermipost, Lasana Gardening, even bokoshi.

I have used newspapers and cardboard as sheet mulch for "no-dig" or lasagna garden.

Grows stuff well, but I have never ben able to grow lasagna!

It is truly amazing how much useful stuff gets thrown out!

Consider a gassifyer - then use the waste heat for the greenhouse.

Check out the conversion factors for different light sources from lux to photosynthetically active radiation in the link from Sylvania.

However, I gather that different plants have different wavelength needs at different times, so this all gets rather complicated. Dad did some research a few years back in supplemental light for dairy cows to improve yields by lengthening daylight. Biology is amazingly complicated.

different plants have different wavelength needs at different times

That's why there is interest in LED lighting for indoor gardening. Some googling on that should give some results.


Thanks everyone for the links and comments - I didn't expect such a good little subthread!

Some googling shows that the LED's can make plants grow a bit better than conventional lighting (HID, HPS) but at about 4x the cost, and 1/3 the electricity consumption.

Given the electricity rates here - about 3c/kWh -and with "wasted" heat from the lights offsetting electric heat anyway, the payback for LED's just won;t be there - but it will be for the GRO tubes.

Here's link to some work done in Manitoba where they tested the LED lights and also an earth tunnel system similar to that suggested upthread by Eric Blair.

Their goal is to grow plants in unheated greenhouses in Winnipeg's - 30C winters! they have been able to get passively heated greenhouses to stay at zero!


These sorts of gov funded projects are much more useful than things like Solyndra, IMO!!

Pretty good use of government funds. OTOH I would say that Solyndra was bad given the information available but I would not expect 100% success rate at chucking funds, some will fail. That was not one to back.

Why not a good sub-thread? How to deal with peak oil in particular circumstances is important. How to reduce dependence on fossil fuels? Can processes be made more efficient? You throw in a good example, let's chew on it.

I wonder if coloured fluorescents could be used instead of LEDs? Could solar PV be used to extend the day to 16hrs, even partially, use the grid as a battery with FITs? Interesting that the Winnipeg guys are using Chinese design :)


Exxon mulls $10.9 billion approach for Gulf Keystone: report


That would be a 5X last Friday's closing price.

Kazakh Zhanaozen oil unrest spreads to regional capital:



Just got through reading a fascinating book on DARPA- Department of mad Scientists.

According to the author DARPA has a goal of developing a solar cell with a 50% efficiency level. They recognize that at the moment it is too expensive for civilian use and it will be used primarily by the military for whom weight is more important than cost - but they think that in time there will be a civilian version with a 35% efficiency that will result in the cost of solar energy being on par with hydro.

Anybody have any insight into this program?

Just some googling around

DoD Energy Security Task Force OUSD(AT&L), October 2008

Very high efficiency solar cells. DARPA demonstrated breakthrough conversion efficiency with a set of solar cells – over 42 percent – and is currently using this set in a proof-of-concept solar power module with an objective of 40 percent efficiency, which would be almost double that of current solar power modules. The end-of-program goal is to achieve 50 percent efficiency affordably at the module level. The DARPA module is using a novel lateral cell design that will be optimized in spectrally split band gaps (high, medium-high and low). If successful, this could be a game changer, making solar energy cost effective.


Barnett, et al, 2006

Barnett, et al, 2007


But it looks like the military isn't holding its breath since it is exploring portables with as little as 7-10% efficiency ...
Darpa Push: Solar Cells Tough Enough to Handle a War, June 2010

Can you say Solyndra? 15-20% module efficiency is just fine-Thank you. In fact sometimes it better to have a less efficiency - larger shading area on a southern roof. What we need is less permitting hassles, Reasonable Feed In Tariffs , and more affordable (sub $1.00 watt) product.. which we may be seeing soon. Of course an energy tax structure like the MLP's granted to gas pipelines would be nice, The gov should not pick winners. At $1.00/watt, Distributed Solar PV is a viable part of the energy equation. Less than $1.00 it's a slam dunk in many markets since you can bank on the 25-30 year warranties,

Don't use Solyndra as a overzealous response to say we don't need any more research. Stepping beyond the known is always a gamble at some level, and that doesn't make it intrinsically wrong.

I agree that solar is already good, and I support it.. but that's no reason to stop studying and experimenting and learning more.

High eff Space cells are nice, but research is badly needed for production, standardize and deploy. No one
would have guessed 3 years ago that Crystal Si would be so much more cost effective than thin films. Some DOE funds are going to boots on the ground deployment, like www.solarabcs.com. The majority don't know that PV is so much cheaper than Oil fired electricity if store requirements are modest.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dead, state TV reports

(CNN) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is dead, North Korean state TV said Monday.

Kim, 69, died at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, state TV said.

A broadcaster reported that Kim died due to "overwork" after "dedicating his life to the people."

Kim died of "great mental and physical strain" while in a train during a "field guidance tour," North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency reported.

More specifically, the agency noted that Kim suffered a heart attack and couldn't be saved despite the use of "every possible first-aid measure."...

...South Korea's military issues an emergency alert, local media reports.

More uncertainty, interesting times....

More uncertainty, interesting times....

What happens next? Is the next dictator going to be different or more of the same?

Word is, worse ...

He is the only one of three sons Kim Jong Il thought was worthy of the position. What does that tell you? It's probably an instance of the more things change the more they stay the same.

This spoiled rotten kid is probably not going to show the sort of tenacity and toughness necessary to remain in control too long.He is probably as mean as a snake but that is not enough to keep him in power.Dictators have to be focused.

Grand father founds the family business, the son builds on it, the grandson fritters it away.

We live in interesting times.

If he makes it, we can expect more of the same.If one of his lackeys puts a clip of bullets in him, all bets are off;it's too hard to guess at the policies that an upstart might pursue.

But even in a place where information is as tightly controlled as it is in NK, the middle ranks and up of the military and other government personnel are probably well aware that janitors in SK live better than anybody excepting the elite lives in the North.

If the dam ever breaks, the end could come very fast.I strongly suspect that most of the people of NK have been pushed about as far as it is possible to push people, and that if they ever once get it into their heads that rebellion has even the slightest chance of success, they will charge machine guns armed with clubs.