Drumbeat: December 19, 2011

Oil boomlet sweeps U.S. as exports and production rise

Looking at your heating bills or gas prices, you may find it surprising that the United States is enjoying a mini oil boom. It's producing more crude oil and, for the first time in decades, has become a net exporter of petroleum products such as jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline.

The U.S. exported more oil-based fuels than it imported in the first nine months of this year, making it likely that 2011 will be the first time since 1949 that the nation is a net exporter of such goods, primarily diesel.

That's not all. The U.S. has reversed another decades-long trend. It began producing more crude oil in 2008 than the year before and accelerated that upswing 3% in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2010. That production has helped reduce U.S. imports of crude oil by about 10% since 2006.

Ken Deffeyes: Energy Prices

Crude oil currently priced near $100 per barrel. The 2008 peak price was $147 per barrel and the world economic house of cards collapsed. On page 40 of When Oil Peaked, I showed the US expenditures for crude oil as a percentage of the US gross domestic product. When the percentage went above 5 percent (1981 and 2008) we had serious economic problems. After the book was published, crude oil prices have increased. My estimate of the current US oil expenditure is 3.5 percent of our GDP. It's worth watching; let's hope that it doesn't go above 5 percent again.

Crude Oil Rebounds From Near Six-Week Low in New York as Equities Advance

Oil recovered from near its lowest in more than six weeks in New York as advancing equity markets eased concern that European government measures will be unable to stem the debt crisis.

Lower fuel prices expected to slow growth in Qatar

Qatar's growth will cool next year and its economy risks exposure to lower oil and gas prices caused by weaker global demand, the IMF said yesterday.

Wild heating oil prices foreseen this year

Veteran Berkshire County heating oil dealers insist there’s no way to predict where this season’s wildly swinging prices are headed.

The average dropped below $3.60 a gallon on Friday following a slowdown in demand caused by recent milder temperatures and a production boost by oil-rich Mideast nations that belong to OPEC.

Commodity index returns reconsidered

According to commodity bulls, price rises should resume once the euro zone storm passes and the underlying dynamics of the super-cycle (growing emerging market demand coupled with restricted supply) reassert themselves. But doubts are creeping in. New technology in the form of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has demolished fears about peak gas production over the last five years, and is now doing the same for once-popular theories about peak oil. Climbing production in North America has sent Henry Hub gas prices to their lowest level since September 2009, and before that 2002 . Natural gas futures are trading only a little over $3.

It is all very different from July 2008, when prices were over $13, let alone 2005, when prices climbed over $15, amid panic about future gas supplies, triggering a frenzy to build LNG import terminals.

Output from N.Sea field to remain diminished -Statoil

(Reuters) - Production at major North Sea field Gullfaks will be lower than normal again in 2012, Norway's Statoil said on Monday, repeating previous guidance and adding it had reopened some wells that had been closed due to safety concerns.

Cash-strapped Sudan open for oil bidding

Cash-strapped Sudan on Monday said it will open six exploration blocks for bidding by international oil companies, after losing 75 percent of its oil production when the south separated in July.

"Everyone is invited to invest in this country," Minister of Petroleum Awad Ahmed Aljaz told reporters, through a translator.

West treads carefully with Iranian energy

BRUSSELS, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- If the United States and its allies implement sanctions on Iran's oil sector the right way, it could trigger a trade shift from Tehran, an official said.

Washington and European leaders are speaking with officials from key oil-producing nations on how best to keep global energy supplies static amid a potential embargo on Iran's oil.

Iran excludes Polish PGNiG from its gas field

(Reuters) - Iran has excluded Poland's state-controlled gas monopoly PGNiG from developing a gas field, accusing the company of dragging its feet over the project, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Monday.

Iran has toughened its stance over foreign companies that it says are not fulfilling their promises.

Bric nations are at risk of being held hostage by energy

They seem destined to dominate the world economy. Yet as the Bric concept celebrates its 10th birthday, Brazil, Russia, China and India may each find that energy is its Achilles heel.

New rows in old Central Asia fight

hina is heading into Central Asia to quench the country's insatiable thirst for oil and gas.

Ukraine PM sees Russia gas deal in a few days

(Reuters) - Ukraine will reach a compromise deal with Russia on gas supplies in a few days, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Monday, contradicting previous statements by Moscow which expected no deal to be made this year.

3 more protesters killed in Cairo clashes

CAIRO (AP) – Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers in riot gear swept through Cairo's Tahrir Square early Monday and opened fire on protesters demanding an immediate end to military rule. The Health Ministry said at least three people were killed, bringing the death toll for four days of clashes to 14.

Kazakh president says instigators of oil town unrest will be severely punished

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has set up a commission to investigate and punish the instigators of riots in the oil town of Zhanaozen that left at least 14 people dead, his press service said.

'We're not leaving,' say U.S. officials in Afghanistan

KABUL – Top American officials in Afghanistan say the U.S. military intends to maintain a troop presence here beyond a 2014 deadline for Afghan troops to take over.

Russian Oil Drilling Rig Sinks off Sakhalin With 14 Rescued, 53 Missing

A drilling platform with 67 Russians on board sank in a storm near Sakhalin Island off Russia’s Pacific coast after completing a job for OAO Gazprom. Only 14 people have been rescued so far, authorities said.

Iran, Russia’s Tatneft Sign $1 Billion Accord to Develop Zagheh Oil Field

Russia’s OAO Tatneft (TATN) signed an accord valued at $1 billion with Iran to develop the Zagheh oil field in the Persian Gulf nation, where many energy projects face delays due to intensified sanctions by Western countries.

Analysts Weigh Exxon’s Rumored Kurdistan Oil Play

A bid by ExxonMobil for Kurdistan-focused explorer Gulf Keystone “wouldn’t be out of kilter at all,” says VSA Capital analyst Malcolm Graham-Wood, who points out the 800 pence a share offer price first referenced in an Independent on Sunday story would be at the top end of most valuations.

Subsea leak prompts Zhuhai shutdowns

China National Oil Corporation has said it has shut down production at a gas processing terminal in Zhuhai City after a leak was discovered in the terminal’s subsea pipeline.

Pooled price for natural gas will remove incentive for sourcing LNG at lowest price: Chaturvedi

New Delhi (ANI): The government has admitted that pooling the price of natural gas has a down side as there would be no incentive for the importer to source natural gas at the lowest price.

Tax Bill Can Stall Oil Pipeline, Officials Say

Payroll tax cut legislation that would force President Obama to speed up a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would likely keep the project from moving forward because it would cut short the necessary environmental review, Obama administration and State Department officials said on Saturday.

Pipeline Politics: How an Oil Sands Project Has Become Key to Environmentalism

Given that there are already more than 2.3 million miles of pipelines in the U.S.—carrying petroleum products, chemicals and natural gas—it might seem odd that so much political energy has been expended on a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline. Yet the controversial Keystone XL pipeline—which would cross the upper Midwest to carry crude from Canadian oil sands down to refiners in the U.S.—has become the single biggest environmental issue facing America. Green groups—pushed hard by activists like 350.org’s Bill McKibben—are using the proposed pipeline as a litmus test for President Obama’s often-questioned commitment to the environment. They argue that Keystone XL would pose a threat to valuable aquifers in Nebraska, but more than that, they believe that allowing the pipeline to go forward would open the path to the increased development of carbon-intensive oil sands, and keep the U.S. committed to fossil fuels, with disastrous consequences for climate change.

EPA Final Rule for Coal Plants Deemed ‘Unfortunate’ by Industry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to curb toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants drew criticism from an industry lobbyist and praise from an environmentalist even before it is released this week.

Oil tests snag ocean polluters

Ships illegally dumping oil off Canada's coasts are having a harder time getting away with the crime because of a relatively new process used by government scientists.

Chemists at Environment Canada in New Brunswick have standardized the process that connects oil collected from the ocean to the ships that dump the pollutants.

Saudi Prince purchases $300 million stake in Twitter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said Monday he and his investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company, are purchasing a $300 million stake in Twitter.

The billionaire prince said the investment was made after "several months of negotiations" and would "represent a strategic stake" in the microblogging service.

End of the road as carmaker Saab files for bankruptcy

Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy with a Swedish court on Monday, bringing to an end two years of efforts to rescue the iconic brand which has been the hallmark of Swedish cars for six decades.

The final desperate attempts to raise funds in China were obstructed by Saab's former owner General Motors over licences.

The most disliked cars of 2011

Volt shot out of the blocks early in the year with a blast of publicity that would rival Lady Gaga's. After snagging a flock of car-of-the-year awards, GM's bold technological leap seemed poised to set the world on fire. Unfortunately, its batteries did just that in certain accident conditions. The negative fallout -- combined with a month-long production halt in the middle of the year to boost output -- kept a damper on sales. After moving only about 6,200 for the first 11 months of 2011, GM admitted it would fall far short of its goal of selling 10,000 Volts in its first year.

Peak E-Cat

The interest in the "E-Cat", the supposed "cold fusion reactor" invented by Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi, is waning. You can perceive that clearly from the activity of the various sites dealing with it; while "Google Trends" confirms that the trend is indeed down. After a flare of curiosity that peaked in november 2011, people found that there was nothing to see about the E-Cat except some purported "demonstrations" that didn't really demonstrate anything. So, they lost interest.

Japan Says Nuclear Power Cost May Be 50% Higher Than Estimated

Nuclear power generation in Japan is about 50 percent more expensive than estimated after factoring in the cost of paying for an accident like the Fukushima disaster, a government panel said.

India’s Rajasthan Opens Bidding for 200 Megawatts of Solar Farms India’s Rajasthan state started accepting bids from developers to set up 200 megawatts of solar power projects in an area that has the country’s second-most solar radiant exposure.

India Panel Makers Share China Dumping Concerns, Indosolar Says

Indian solar panel makers share the concerns of U.S. manufacturers who are asking the government to investigate claims that Chinese companies are dumping equipment, H. Rahul Gupta, managing director of Indosolar Ltd. (ISLR), India’s largest solar cell maker, said today in a phone interview.

Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer

New research has found that the less Canadians know about complex issues - the economy, energy and the environment - the more they avoid becoming well informed about them. This wilful ignorance is associated with a "chain reaction" of dependence on governments to solve the problem, especially if it is urgent.

The news is terrible. Is the world really doomed?

"The apocalypse," wrote the German poet and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger in 1978, "is aphrodisiac, nightmare, a commodity like any other ... warning finger and scientific forecast ... rallying cry ... superstition ... a joke ... an incessant production of our fantasy ... one of the oldest ideas of the human species. Its periodic ebb and flow ... has accompanied utopian thought like a shadow."

It is haunting us again. A sense of doom dominates recent films such as Melancholia, in which a vast unknown planet suddenly appears from behind the sun and converges inexorably on Earth; and Take Shelter, about a taciturn American Everyman, living quietly with his family somewhere on the suburban plains, who starts dreaming extravagantly about devastating coming storms and social breakdown. There is doom television, such as the BBC1 series Survivors, a post-apocalyptic soap opera that ran from 2008 to 2010, about the struggles of ordinary Britons after a deadly flu pandemic. There is doom literature, from the exhaustingly erudite – Living in The End Times, by the Slovenian superstar philosopher Slavoj Žižek – to the more digestible – The Coffee Table Book of Doom, by Steven Appleby and Art Lester, published in time for this Christmas, and complete with cute cartoons and would-be wry discussions of the likelihood of an asteroid strike or global food shortage or "supersize hurricane". There is doominess in pop music, not just in the usual genres such as metal, but on the fashionable fringes of dubstep and techno, where the much blogged-about young record label Blackest Ever Black issues echoing, funereal instrumentals with titles such as We Must Hunt Under The Wreckage Of Many Systems.

Doom is Normal

So it seems to me that what some might call doomerism has gone mainstream, that we are being urged to accept it as normal, and to believe that some of us deserve it.

Environmentalists Get Down to Earth

Think of the public as a consumer in a grocery aisle passing a box of brownie mix, the consultant said. The brownie on the front is so delectable that she can imagine the taste and the smell. So delicious, in fact, that she pays no attention to the back of the box listing the ruinous fat and calorie content.

Environmentalists, the consultant said, were always yammering to consumers about the back of the box. And, guess what? Nobody wants to listen.

For Green Groups, a Shift in Tactics

In The Times’s Sunday Review section, I wrote about the generational leadership change that big environmental groups are undergoing and how it is affecting their strategies. Several leaders and observers I interviewed noted that in an Occupy Wall Street era, some people have little patience for the notion of courting corporations and policy makers to seek their cooperation. They want to apply direct pressure.

India terms Canada's withdrawal from Kyoto pact as contrary to its commitment on climate change

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has said that Canada's withdrawal from Kyoto protocol is a complete violation, after it became the first nation to announce its withdrawal from the pact on climate change.

Brazil’s forest policy could undermine its climate goals

In RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazil, caretaker of the world’s largest rain forest, is about to enact broad new regulations that opponents say could loosen restrictions on Amazon deforestation and increase the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

High glaciers may be safe from warming

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, Dec 15 (IPS) - Global warming will melt far less of the glaciers of Central Asia than of those in other mountain ranges, shielding the people who depend on them for water from the effects of climate change for several decades at least, scientists say.

Most Important Book of 2011: Kivalina, a Climate Change Story

Kivalina should be required reading for all power brokers in the climate change debate — in particular, President Obama and the dawdling U.S. Congress.

Climate Change May Bring Big Ecosystem Shifts, NASA Says

ScienceDaily — By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth's land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type -- such as forest, grassland or tundra -- toward another, according to a new NASA and university computer modeling study.

Re: "Tax Bill Can Stall Oil Pipeline, Officials Say" and "Pipeline Politics: How an Oil Sands Project Has Become Key to Environmentalism", up top:



The USA Today article leading the pack today made me boil over my coffee when I read. TOD readers would do well to mount a national LTE campaign, laying out the innumeracy and distortions contained in that article.

It isn't as bad as I expected it to be, although it is bad enough.The key facts are buried near the end and glossed over of course, while mostly inconsequential facts with no relevance to the big picture were highlighted with a fireworks show intensity.

But at least most of them were there.

I don't want to wander too far off topic, but it is interesting to note that this same sort of heavy emphasis on one side or another of any given issue is the very thing that drives just about all of us nuts when it comes to our opinions respecting the mainstream media.

Serious conservatives think of NPR as National (Democratic Party) Propaganda Radio, with , as I see it, very good cause;and as I listen to NPR far more often and more total hours than all other radio combined, I believe I am qualified to hold that opinion, right or wrong.

Of course those on the American left see Fox News and talk radio in the same light-with even greater justification of course.

The whole media show reminds me of things I used to read written by those who managed to flee the old USSR.

They combed the papers, such as they had, with the intensity of intelligent agents, sifting out such serious information as slipped thru the propaganda machine, and using these few minimized or glossed over facts to construct a true picture as best they could.

But nobody ever went broke overestimating the gullibility of the American public, and this article will have the intended effect of soothing the anxieties of the markets for a day or two, while the banksters carve another steak out of our collective proletarian rump.

It's not true that we don't have a "free press" in this country;if you happen to have enough money to buy a press, you can for now at least print damn near anything you want.I can't decide if this best deserves a winky, a cry baby, or a sarcasm tag-it probably needs all three about equally..

Getting people to read and think about your work, however, is a tougher nut to crack.

I am a regular listener to NPR, but I also listen to conservative talk radio shows. I think that it has become too easy in this age of polarized media outlets, to only listen or read sources that agree with your opinion. This leads to further polarization of people's opinions, and I think is the major reason that politics has become so divisive and nasty in the last two decades.

If you listen to NPR regularly, you'll probably get a good laugh from this!

NPR vs. Conservative Talk Radio

Regardless of conservatives' liberal bias accusations, NPR fires two employees for participating in Occupy Wall Street.

phree - And NPR is my primary radio news source...as well as car repair humor from Click & Clack. There may some liberal slanting from time to time but it doesn't bother me at all. I listen because they present more real/interesting facts than any other source I know. And it's not always bad to hear how "the other side" views various matters. At least then we know what our mortal enemies and destroyers of all things good and holy are thinking. LOL.

" And it's not always bad to hear how "the other side" views various matters. At least then we know what our mortal enemies and destroyers of all things good and holy are thinking. LOL."

You're cheerful sarcasm is probably more true than not about how we view each other these days.

Re: NPR, by far the best broadcast journalism available. It's a sad state of affairs when good journalism is considered liberal i.e. biased.

Especially when it's center-right, as is NPR. The bar has been shoved so far right that Richard Nixon would be a flaming leftie today. All part of the rightwing plan.

I agree. I stopped listening to NPR when the level of propaganda became so obvious. Most especially the happy talk about energy and the Yergin nonsense, as well as the typical imperial militaristic flag waving crap. Actually, I found NPR to be insidious, because so many still think of it as some kind of honest news outlet, and NPR is well aware of how to push the official line to their particular audience. It's much the same as with Obama - I prefer my imperialists to be more obvious, like Bush.

That's the brutal irony, isn't it. NPR is definitely selling a (slightly gentler, slightly greener) BAU line, but they get labeled as some left-wing thing!

Still, it's better than most reportage in the US.

It's true, now old-style politicians who openly offended people and showed off their ignorance and brash right-wing stupidity like Bush and Berslusconi are being replaced with a kind of puppet (Obama, Monti, Noda) who pretends to be a liberal, even an intellectual, but who smoothly and insidiously hides a deeper loyalty to the corporate/banking/industrial base.

I suspect they noticed how well Blair worked in that role. Charming, bright, articulate. You could hardly see the strings :-)

Here in Australia, we receive NPR's "All Things Considered" twice a day live (or near-live) - and I think it is pretty much compulsory listening. And I agree with many of the other comments here ... US politics have shifted so far to the right that your "mainstream" or centre is now seen as just about off the chart. Even NPR accepts a lot of the mainstream paradigm as reasonable (and even though it's accused of being left-wing loony).

The Forces of Darkness in the media and elsewhere have done their job since Eisenhower - there is no doubt about that. Have a good day.

All part of the rightwing plan.

You have no idea how right you are. Several plans are being executed: 1) move so far right that center seems far left, then move farther right. 2) Starve the beast of government so that it becomes impossible to fund Social Security. (this is done by fighting wars off budget, for example). 3) Use wedge issues to enflame the base (and enlarge it if possible). No lie is too egregious, no distortion too extreme for use in this tactic.

I was involved, to some degree, in Republican politics for a while. Left when it got really bad. Still think W was not a conservative (and I am), but no longer recognize those who still call themselves Republicans. Oh, for the days of Nelson Rockerfeller and Dwight D. Eisenhower (most underrated President of all time, IMO).

Today's idiots excoriated GHW Bush for passing a tax increase that was necessary (and was the basis for the prosperity of the 90's, again IMO). They would (and are) willingly destroy the nation to bring down Social Security. And to defeat Obama, who in any rational world would be recognized as the Republican Light he really is. He is not only not Progressive or Liberal, he is a bit farther right than Bill Clinton was.

Our present version of fourth estate is a joke. They are mostly shills, and mostly partisan at that. Disgusting. There may be one or two liberal rags in the US, but they are neglected, have little circulation (or listenership), and less impact on the process. Unless and until we wake up, we will find ourselves dropping into third world status, and we will deserve it.

Best hopes for Investigative Journalism.


"You have no idea how right you are."

Well, I like to think I have some idea :-) Two words: Grover Norquist.

I agree about Ike (actually, I was born during his first administration).

The rest of your comments are dead on, as far as I'm concerned, especially your characterization of Obama.

I feel very discouraged sometimes.

I was never so sure about Ike (born just before his inaguration). The Brits suckered him into the Mosadegh coup, and we've been on the Persian enemy list ever since. But, for the most part his heart was in the right place. We used to have a not too unreasonable press, but then we threw out the fairness doctrine, and the lies get more eggregious every year. Without negative consequences for lying, partisan players just become more and more outrageous every year. And, as Goebbels understood, once the plebs have heard a lie often enough they believe it.

Read friendly fascism. most of the stuff going on now is described in the book. mainly how the political systems has been gamed to change it's purpose from a means of the population controlling the politics to the political class and their handlers controlling the population.

As Stephen Colbert famously said at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (Video),

We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Another good line from the same speech...

As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

Car Talk is my favorite show on radio. I also enjoy Science Friday, Talk of the Nation, and Fresh Air. People who think of NPR as liberal, left-wing, uber-green etc. have never listened to Democracy Now.

Or the Diane Rehm Show, or On Point, or other talk shows that are usually rather heavy on "Cato Institute" type thinktank guests.

their market reports are heavily right wing to.

Rockman, you are not the icoloclast some seem to think you are.

In my view, having read your comments and engaged in the occassional exchange of views, I would say that you are a progressive with an advanced case of reality!

I listen to more than one side, and read any real presentations that would contradict my views. Then I try to glean the truth, usually by seeing where the money leads me (seldom to the side of truth) to moderate possible distortions. And I see it going both ways in most cases, so it is not as easy as you might think.

At least you are candid about why you do what you do, are a realist about PO, and AGW, and I believe that you tell the truth. That's better than I can say about most politicians, or corporate executives. Or union leaders, I suppose, when it comes to that.


Rockman, you are not the icoloclast some seem to think you are.

I think you meant iconoclast. But I would not consider that a compliment at all. In fact I would take it as the highest of compliments if you told me I was an iconoclast. I don't know how Rockman feels about it though.

But to be an iconoclast one need not necessarily attack religious icons, economic icons will do quite well thank you. And I think Rockman is quite adapt at that.

Ron P.

Sorry about the spelling error. Some times TOD comment frame does some spell check, but not this time. When I feel like a rant, I use Word and then can spell and grammer check.

Poor Christopher was correct, it was the Fags that got him!

I will miss Christopher Hitchens. He and I had a few discussions in the past - he thinks (thought) I am an atheist. I told him that it is just a matter of definition of "God". It always surprised me when he and Richard Dawkins responded to my emails.

Anyway, if Christopher Hitchens wanted to define me into atheism who am I to argue. I will miss his wit, and his writings. There are not many like him.


Craig, sorry but I edited out my Christopher Hitchens comment that you replied to. I felt it was introducing to much religion, or anti religion into the thread and I did not want to stir up any controversy.

But yes, iconoclast Christopher Hitches who died three days ago from esophageal cancer and pneumonia will be sorely missed. I just loved his latest book.

Daniel C. Dennett had a great article about Hitchens in yesterday's Washington Post, "On Faith" section:
A lesson from Hitch: When rudeness is called for
I have said, on this list, that there is no excuse for rudeness... ever! Well, perhaps I was wrong. ;-)

Ron P.

QUESTION: Are there any online talk shows that people can recommend in place of NPR or Oxicotone Rush Limbaugh?

I have been a HUGE fan of C-span's daily WASHINGTON JOURNAL in recent years. It's a little more like the 'ingredients' of news, and you have to Knead and Bake it yourself, but I really appreciate the range of guests, and the Call-ins that let people from anywhere and everywhere help put a broader spectrum into the world it talks about. Some crazies come through, but largely, it's in more perspective to the whole picture.. including voices regularly from OUTSIDE the US.


(Got it on right now..)

Spell check always works in Firefox.

For most of my life, if I had to communicate by the written word, I made a serious effort to follow the rules of spelling, composition, and grammar, and seldom made a mistake.

Nowadays I have freed myself of worry about such matters, and simply type as fast as my typing finger can go.If I were posting under my own name, and had a professional reputation to protect, I would do every comment in Word, wait a while , read and revise three times, and then post it.

But nobody is paying me , and I don't expect to capitalize on what I am doing here in any way.

I can cuss if I want to, so long as I am not within hearing distance of my Daddy, and say "ain't" if I please.

But if Ethel Vernon or Amy Bolt, the superb teachers taught me grammar and composition well enough that I never made a mistake in my college research papers, were to read this comment, they would rouse themselves from the beyond and torment me in my dreams.

It does make things easier to read if they are spelled correctly.

Unfortunately, spelling check doesn't keep ewe from typing the wrong word.

Ron - How do I feel about that label? I'll let you know as soon as I look it up. FWI: when trying to communicate with a geologist it's best to avoid four syllable words. There's a reason we call it a "rock"...it's easy to understand.



Were you being tongue-in-cheek?


H - Maybe he was implying I'm adept at adapting. The again, a geologist should be last person commenting on anyone's speling.

or maybe the issues and talking points they issue out are only done so to get people to ignore that they are not serving them?

"Pravda isn't Izvestia, and Izvestia isn't Pravda."


The actual saying as I recall was

"There is no pravda in the Izvestia, and there are no izvestia in the Pravda"

pravda = truth
izvestia = news

The essential sentiment is quite correct, though.

Well folks, I do believe I succeeded in starting a discussion, which always pleases me as I know that I have touched on a nerve.

Personally, my own estimate of Democratic/Republican politics is that both parties are of course owned and operated by the establishment, but the establishment itself is not monolith.Hence it is possible for NPR to be thoroughly steeped in the bau philosophy and also biased in favor of Democrats;any body who cannot hear this has an obvious tin ear.

I have yet to hear a single announcer or program head talk on NPR who doesn't find ways to subtly indicate approval of virtually all programs supported by the Democrats while at the same time sort of contemptuously curling the verbal lip in respect to Republican initiatives..

I can get three or four affiliates living here on a mountain, depending on the time of day and exactly where I am, and habitually listen to one or another anytime I'm in the car or truck, and sometimes in the house.

Typical coverage gives five or ten minutes to a speaker gushing over any Democratic party position, and then a ten second rebuttal of sorts(The republicans or conservatives....claim or say ...) delivered by the same speaker .

But nevertheless I do agree that NPR stands head and shoulders above all other radio, excepting the BBC.

This is not however because NPR is spectacularly good as I see it, although most of the programming is very good to top notch;it's because the rest of radio sucks, big time, almost all the time.There is a small amount of quality programming on commercial radio but just about everything is lowest common denominator commercial trash and endless advertisements.

And incidentally, I do understand the folks point who consider themselves centrists and NPR centrist.If you want to judge or classify yourselves by European standards, that's quite alright with me.

Personally I am an American, although i'm not too proud of that accidental fact,, and being an American, I just naturally tend to assume that the world revolves around some spot out in Kansas or Nebraska or thereabouts.;-)

But claiming that you are centrists by American standards is a rhetorical trick that will not wash with me;the implication of that position is that anybody more conservative than you are is by necessity not a middle of the roader, but rather somewhat of a right wing extremist.

By American standards, if you are a NPR regular, then you must by definition be a liberal.

Now don't any of you super sensitive kumbyya types start in on me and assualt my carefully constructed intellectual house of cards mortared up with cognitive dissonances and go accusing me of being a closet liberal, and invite me to a coming out party in my honor. ;-)

I listen to NPR because there is nothing else TO listen to, excepting a couple of old time music shows I can get on local stations.

New Orleans is fortunate to have some logical local talk hosts. The best is Garland Robinette. He tries to "talk through issues" (for 3 hours @ a time) in his "Think Tank".


An interesting bio (he was the artist for this year's Jazz Fest poster). And you can see more about his approach on the page as well.

Best Hopes for More,


Well maybe, at least regarding whats considered left/center/right, which varies by location as well as time. Must of us who consider ourselves centrists, actually were centrist or center-right a few years back, but the window has moved, and we are now against the left edge of it.

NPR, has been going downhill. The conservatives starve it of government funding, and it has to whore for corporate donations, just like all the other news outlets. So the window gets pushed rightward.

Pacifica Radio

Pacifica radio has no advertisers.

http://www.kpfa.org/ Berkley
http://www.kpfk.org/ Los Angeles
http://www.kpft.org/ Houston
http://www.wbai.org/ New York
http://www.wpfw.org/ Washington

If you want videos not commonly available on the mainstream news, such as the Oakland occupy kids throwing nothing before the police shot the veteran soldier and threw a grenade in among his gathering rescuers, add RT to your search terms.

Now THAT's liberal radio. Still not as far left as most talk radio is right, but only co-opted to the extent that reporters don't recognize their own societally inculcated bias.

Most talk radio is right of reason itself. In Los Angeles, there is a fake liberal station called KTLK run by Clear Channel. It features a giggly morning show full of nothing, three hours of Murdock's Wall Street Journal replete with Fox News commentators, hours of a sweet little accountant talking accounting, and ending with six hours of Phil Hendrie wasting electricity. The other shows often simply follow the mainstream lead stories and subjects... such as Newt or the tax break for the middle class: a distraction as the defense authorization act is passed along with the further legalization of the mortgage and stock fraud mechanisms.

Enjoy the RT videos... just don't get caught!
...Probably best accessed through TOR, nowadays?

Well, that and movement conservatives being put in charge by W.

I think if you look at the finances of NPR - it could probably survive without government money- in large part due to a huge donation and I mean huge from the widow of the Mcdonald's founder. I think the problem is with the local affiliates specially the ones in small markets who probably wouldn't survive on money from just their local communities.

NPR may come down on the Democratic side of the story a good deal more often than the Republican side, but the Democrats' center of mass hasn't been even center-left since at least 1992. They are only liberal on social issues.


I believe you have nailed it down perfectly.

Defeyes says that 5% of GDP spent on oil is the key turning point for the US.
I calculated it for the world economy, based on $100 oil, and a GDP of 60T, and get 4.8%
so I think we can answer the question: are we there yet

From an EROI perspective, what matters is the total energy-related portion of the GDP, direct and indirect. Thus, as the EROI has declined further since 2008, that percentage may be worse than it seems. Ideally, the dollars paid directly for fuel (and other forms of energy) would represent the energy spent on getting that energy, but we have in place various distortions that hide the true energy cost. E.g., ethanol subsidies, debt financing of fracking, etc.

Two articles up top, the first: Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer

New research has found that the less Canadians know about complex issues - the economy, energy and the environment - the more they avoid becoming well informed about them...

In one study, those who felt most at risk in the face of a recession were more likely to avoid literature that challenged the government's ability to manage the economy.

Staying ill-informed "is an ideal way to protect the psychologically comfortable [even if inaccurate] belief that the government is taking care of the problem," state the authors, who cited Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

The crux of this article is that it is our nature to avoid thinking about problems that could dramatically change our lives. Willful ignorance about coming problems and optimism about the future allows us to go about our daily lives cheerfully and happy. We avoid stress about the future by disbelieving anything really bad can possibly happen.

The second article: The news is terrible. Is the world really doomed? At first the article seems to be written by one of those deniers. It seems to make fun of us doomers, comparing us to Christian rapture believers, the Mayan calender doomers and such.

There is an ever louder babble of apocalypse-predicting subcultures, amplified and partly sustained by the internet: peak-oil doomers, who believe the world's energy supplies will collapse and mass famine will follow; Christians who anticipate an imminent day of rapture when believers will ascend to heaven and non-believers will perish; interpreters of the ancient Maya calendar who, contrary to mainstream scholarship, are convinced that the world will end on 21 December 2012; and traditional survivalists, stockpiling tinned goods and constructing rural "survival retreats" to sit out armageddon.

But this is a very long article and it does get better and explains why it is very unlikely we will do anything about any of the problems coming down the road. It quotes the British economic philosopher John Gray:

"We've moved from a delusional optimism to a sense of intractable difficulties: resource scarcity and enormous debts; the erosion of bourgeois life; the inability of politicians to solve big problems; the realisation that the economic problems of the 70s weren't really solved; the realisation that the window for doing something about climate change – the next five years – will be entirely occupied with trying to restart economic growth."

And that is also the reason we will not do anything to mitigate peak oil. In other words, we doomers are probably right.

Ron P.

Alas, just so, Ron.

Meanwhile it appears that trees have not just been sitting around for hundreds of millions of years.. they will just wait for the stupid humans to have their 15 minutes of fame, then carry on as before.

Trees adapt to poor levels of light

Sun and Shade leaves play different roles

Or forget photosynthesis altogether..

Burying our heads in the sand (i.e., motivated avoidance) can be adaptive, at least in the short-term; hopelessness, helplessness and fear do not often lead to creative and timely problem-solving. Barb Fredrickson has a great article on this ("What good are positive emotions?" Review of General Psychology, 1998, Vol. 2, No. 3, 300-319) where she develops her "broaden and build" model of positive affect.

However, the research design reported in the article does not provide unambiguous evidence for the claims being made. They used a cross-sectional design (i.e., using a one-time survey instrument). The best they can claim is a correlation. So, we could just as accurately rewrite their conclusions as:

New research has found that the more Canadians avoid becoming well informed about complex issues - the economy, energy and the environment - the less they know about them.

There could be any number of reasons why they avoid learning more about complex issues (e.g., attentional fatigue from just making it through the day, poor journalism that fails to instill confidence in the information presented, a really good fiction book waiting for us at the library). But a big reason might be that they get it. That is, they have enough knowledge to know that they need to respond. They just haven't responded yet (perhaps, for a number of reasons even acceptable to us on TOD). That puts the problem in a different space: how to we change behavior (when, apparently, current knowledge, or more knowledge, isn't sufficient)?

It's a little harder to convincingly rewrite the second one, but it's plausible that:

Those who were more likely to trust the government's ability to manage the economy, ended up feeling more at risk when faced with the reality of a recession (perhaps because they were less well prepared psychologically and financially for the effects).

In short, correlation does not prove causation.

But, if for a moment, we grant the researchers the possibility that their interpretations are correct, then the issue here is not that human nature has doomed us. Rather, it is what are the conditions under which humans don't stick their heads in the sand when faced with a long-term, complex issue.

Cognitive dissonance is often brought up in such situations. But usually, unfortunately, only in its negative version. That is, we assume human nature is to always flounder in collective denial. But that theory has a number of rarely recalled strategies for eliminating dissonance. One is that when faced with a cognitively painful mismatch between an attitude and our current behavior, we can change either to re-establish mental harmony. [Note: I do not subscribe to cognitive dissonance as having anything other than a tiny role in human nature. I'm only pointing out that humans have multiple strategies available to them for working with this one psychological mechanism. And, it does exist in us all and might be useful if we use it cleverly as a behavior change technique.]

Granted changing behavior is harder to do than copping a new attitude (or burying our heads in the sand, tv, or web hoping that the pain of biophysical reality goes away). But that circles back to asking what are the conditions under which humans change behavior?

And I've often wondered: Won't energy descent make behavior change inevitable? After all, a new attitude won't change biophysical reality. We'll be motivated to change due to self-interest (enlightened or not) mixed with other, deeper motives. What we can do now is add a little pre-familiarization with what's coming (e.g., procedural knowledge, "know how", "know when", our own low(er) energy life patterns as examples) then, maybe, the transition will be a bit easier.

[Sorry I made this so long. Too much attentional fatigue to make it short.]

What are the conditions under which humans change their behavior?

First, we need to split this question across two realms of possibilities:

1) The situation is so extreme that it does not matter how you think about the world, you have no choice but to do X (e.g. cannibalism) in order to survive or else you die; and

2) The situation is not so extreme; you do have some choices as to how you think about the world, and with any one of the N choices you could pick, you will probably survive, at least for the short term.


Let's ignore realm number 1 completely because in that scenario you have no choice except to cease surviving or to do X.

In realm number 2, your behavior will change only if your way of thinking changes.

So what causes you to change your way of thinking, your point of view (PoV) about how the world operates and causes you to change your behavior in light of that changed PoV?

a) Those around you all change their PoV and you are a follower who does what the crowd does
b) You are a pioneer and are capable of changing your PoV well ahead of the crowd
c) You become insane and in that case, who cares what the others think, you change your behavior anyway

I think that for most people, the answer is "a)"

Step Back,

Your “a)” reminds me of Mark Twain’s quote, “In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.

And the relatively new science of mirror neurons provides a mechanism that explains why we’re so good at picking up social cues, empathizing, and running multiple points-of-view. It’s their ability to run multiple PoVs that makes behavior change through this route so fascinating and often unpredictable.

Your “a)” and “b)” taken together sound like Alan AtKisson’s “Innovation Diffusion Game.” Particularly his “amoeba of culture” figure about ten paragraphs into http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC28/AtKisson.htm

And your “c)” might be AtKisson’s “Curmudgeon.” (Do we all see ourselves as the Spiritual Recluse, Innovator or Change Agent? Never the Mainstreamers or Unwilling Laggard.) A neat model to run in a class but it hasn’t been useful in practice. It’s very particularistic; it’s time consuming to find who’s who, and in the real world the same people assume different roles with a change in the behavior, context and/or time.

There’s a great quote by William James on attention and point-of-view: Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of a universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.

Donella Meadows wrote a lot near the end of her life about the importance of the point-of-view we choose to take. I keep coming back to the excerpt below when I experience the darkness brought on by reading too much about energy descent (sort of an antidote):

[Our points of view] are based, of course, on mental models.

The truth of the matter is that no one knows. We have said many times . . . that the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice. The choice is between different mental models, which lead logically to different scenarios.

One mental model says that this world for all practical purposes has no limits. Choosing that mental model will encourage extractive business as usual and take the human economy even further beyond the limits. The result will be collapse.

Another mental model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is not enough time, and that people cannot be moderate or responsible or compassionate. At least not in time. That model is self-fulfilling. If the world’s people choose to believe it, they will be proven right. The result will be collapse.

A third mental model says that the limits are real and close and in some cases below our current levels of throughput. But there is just enough time, with no time to waste. There is just enough energy, enough material, enough money, enough environmental resilience, and enough human virtue to bring about a planned reduction in the ecological footprint of humankind: a sustainability revolution to a much better world for the vast majority.

That third scenario might very well be wrong. But the evidence we have seen, from world data to global computer models, suggests that it could conceivably be made right. There is no way of knowing for sure, other than to try it.

Source: Meadows, Donella, Jørgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows. 2004. “Tools for the Transition to Sustainability,” in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, 265–284. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company. Reprinted in: De Young, R. & T. Princen (2012) The Localization Reader: Adapting to the Coming Downshift. (Pp. 309-324) Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


There could be any number of reasons why they avoid learning more about complex issues...
But a big reason might be that they get it.

You had my undivided attention... up until that point. I don't believe that there is a snowballs chance in hell that this is the reason they avoid complex issues that threaten their future. If they truly get it then they hunger for more knowledge about the issue, to see what may do to avoid it or to see if it is really true.

The reason is they simply don't want to hear about issues that threaten their future. If they can close their eyes and stop their ears to the news then it doesn't exist. I have a son who himself has two young sons. He cannot bear to hear anything that threaten their future and he will not listen to anything, like diminishing resources, that threaten their future.

It is the true believer's ability to "shut his eyes and stop his ears" to the facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacle nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence.
- Eric Hoffer: The True Believer.

Of course there are any number of reasons that a person refuses to learn about complex issues that he believes does not threaten his future.

But that circles back to asking what are the conditions under which humans change behavior?

Ah but this debate is not about conditions that make people change their behavior. If a person is old enough, like me, and also believes there is not a damn thing one can do to remedy the situation, like I do, then they may see no reason to change their behavior, and I don't.

But there is also another reason. I see the world as being deep, deep into overshoot. We are literally destroying the ecosystem that gives us life. We are turning the earth into a desolate desert. But we march on with our destruction driven only partially by our behavior but primarily by our numbers. Collapse is absolutely inevitable. And the longer it takes for the collapse, then the greater will be our numbers therefore the greater the misery and suffering. And also the greater the destruction of the earth.

Ron P.


There could be any number of reasons why they avoid learning more about complex issues ... But a big reason might be that they get it.

Darwinian in response:

The reason is they simply don't want to hear about issues that threaten their future. If they can close their eyes and stop their ears to the news then it doesn't exist.

My take is that it's a little bit of both. People avoid learning about complex issues for (at least) 2 reasons:
1) It's hard and many don't want to take the time/don't have the background to fully understand the issues, so it's easier to let the "experts" figure it out; and
2) More to the point you're discussing, if they do learn more about these complex issues that threaten our future, they'll be expected to do something about it (i.e., change their lifestyle). That's what they "get", that understanding the issue then requires them to take action if they want to improve the outcome for their family/friends, etc. By avoiding the issue, they can either deny that it's occuring or that the predicted outcomes will be that bad or that technology will save us, and thus can avoid the lifestyle changes (not necessarily the knowledge of potential threats).

This explanation also fits in with one of the biggest critiques of AGW proponents (like Al Gore). If he is an expert that "gets" it, why does he still have an enormous house and fly around the world? If he truly believes that AGW is occurring and still acts that way, then why shouldn't someone who doesn't understand it also be entitled to act that way?

If you believe Matt Taibbi, Climate Change legislation will be used to create the next bubble by turning carbon credits into a commodities market (the relevant page here). Al Gore would be somebody to help push this along, and the carbon credit scheme seems absolutely asinine when compared with the simplicity of a carbon tax. The complexity of a cap and trade carbon credit scheme supports Taibbi's supposition that the primary goal here is not to deal with global warming, but to make money. Gore's personal actions in terms of owning many large mansions with their associated carbon footprint demonstrates that he doesn't personally care about impact.

Look at the 70% waste in the Carbon Credit market. Note how having a government guaranteed market is good for one's bottom line - then note how many of the firms used to the captive or mandated government market are lined up to be part of the Carbon market.

Matt isn't the only one to make such an observation.

It is the true believer's [(unconscious)] ability to "shut his eyes and stop his ears" to the facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard


Funny that you should mention this feature/defect of the human nervous and cognition system.

I've been doing a little bit of thinking recently exactly about this issue.

It is undeniable that our biology blocks us from seeing outside the 400 to 700 nm wavelength range (aka ROYGBIV).
It is undeniable that our biology blocks us also from hearing outside the 1Hz to 20KHz vibration range.

But the harder thing for us to understand is that our internal thinking processes impose on us even much greater "filters" or information intake blocks that reduce our ability to see and hear what, logically we should be hearing and seeing.

The filtering process is a subconscious one rather than a conscious choice.

So while we might poke fun at the "true believer" for his/her apparent inability to see/hear what others of us perceive as the truth, we are all susceptible to our own subconscious filtering mechanisms.

additional links about subconscious brain functions here and here and here

Step back, I agree that much of what we refuse to see or hear is really controlled by our subconscious, but not all. The Hoffer quote in my post was in reply to this Martin Luther quote:

So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel, that were I to see all the Angels of Heaven coming down to me to tell me something different, not only would I not be tempted to doubt a single syllable, but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard.
- Martin Luther: Table Talk, Number 1687.

Luther was saying that we should deliberately shut our eyes and stop ears to anything that differed from the dogma that we believed. In other words don't listen to a damn word of it. If I try to talk to any member of my family about the consequences of peak oil, they don't want to hear a damn word of it, deliberately.

That being said, I hear right wing propaganda many times every day. I live in the deep south, how could I possibly prevent it. Politics is all guns, gays and God down here. I have simply tune it out because I have heard it all many times before. Subconsciously? Perhaps.

Ron P.

I live in the Deep South ... Politics [here] is all [G cubed:] Guns, Gays and God

Ron, I feel for you.

I live in the much more liberal Silicon Valley area.

But even here, one needs to watch what one says about the possibility of a technology collapse as opposed the Techno-Rapture (a.k.a. Techno-Singularity) that the Techno-Gods have promised unto us in their Book of Silicon Revelations. ;-)

Any mention of a Techno-reversal is met with the eyes glazed wide shut phenomenon= "but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard"

Come over to Europe. You might like it here.

Ron/Darwinian Re: "deliberately shut our eyes and stop ears to anything that differed from the dogma that we believed."
I think you misinterpret Luther. You quoted Luther to say:
"So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel"
Luther is referring directly to Paul's exhortation in Galatians 1:8-9

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!"

Luther is not referring to "the dogma that we believed" but to "the gospel" as originally revealed. - in contrast to a number of subsequent "revelations" from angels that directly contradicted that original direct revelation.


You had my undivided attention... up until that point.

This is what I like about TOD: not only better thinking and much less arrogance and rudeness than the average website, but careful readers too. I thank everyone for that. And I apologize: I added that part last, developed it poorly, and need to explain myself better. Here’s a go.

Our brains are among the few that can “run ahead of real time.” As Jerome Bruner said, Humans go beyond the information given.” We’re not simple stimulus-response machines but complex information processing systems that put cognition in the middle of it all. (Complex in having both 10^14 connections and overlapping inherited structures and inclinations. That's probably what makes us non-rational and really frustrating to work with.)

I think you’re right that when we see that our newly learned declarative knowledge is going to require that we change behavior, we back away, seek no confirmation. But why?

First take the lack of interest in gaining more information or confirming what’s been just learned. This tendency to not seek confirmation derives from the powerful look-ahead capability of the human brain and the evolutionary benefit from seeking breadth over depth of knowledge. Scientists and technical experts (i.e., many of us) thrive on confirmation and depth of knowledge, but normal people don’t often need it. It proved adaptive for humans to have a bias toward exploring widely not understanding deeply.

Second, it turns out that knowing that we need to change doesn’t mean we know how to change. It is interesting to note how, by ignoring the role competence plays in behavior change, efforts to change the public's behavior may only create feelings of helplessness. Consider how, after spending months exploring a conservation behavior (e.g., backyard composting), community planners will agree among themselves that there is nothing very complicated about the activity; people simply have to make time to do it. Such a declaration might begin to carry some weight in those instances when the planners actually experimented with the behavior. Unfortunately, it is just like experts to forget their initial confusion, the early days of fumbling, and their lack of initial guidance on how to proceed. The way cell assemblies form in the brain makes it very hard for the expert to recall what something “looked like” when they were a novice.

The study of human behavior suggests that such circumstances should not be underrated (Kaplan and Kaplan, 1982). When a novice is not sure how to proceed, they are easily overwhelmed. A simple action becomes a major challenge. This situation may go well beyond a simple lack of information, such as exactly how much space to allocate to a compost bin or what materials it can accept. It involves not even knowing what the right questions to ask are. In such a situation one is essentially incompetent, and knows it.

This is not a state of affairs that humans find satisfying. In fact, they find it rather upsetting. People are disturbed by the thought of finding themselves caught helpless. When faced with such a situation people will avoid attempting a behavior regardless of genuine concern, positive attitude or strong external inducement. In fact, people will avoid mentally dwelling in that space at all. This surely looks, for all intents and purposes, as if we’ve put our heads in the sand. Because, in fact, we have. And yet, it is wrong to describe such people as unmotivated. They are strongly motivated by a desire to be behaviorally competent. Hence the term “motivated avoidance.”

Unfortunately, for responding to energy descent or climate disruption, the most reasonable action for people to take might be to avoid doing anything, at least until such time as they can develop a tentative, perhaps initially conceptual, familiarity with the behavior (i.e., pre-familiarization, an apprenticeship, class at the community college). Even more troublesome is the possibility of reinforcing in people the mistaken belief that there is nothing they as individuals can do to make a difference.

It is easy to imagine what the situation described above might read like in an expert's feasibility study. The report from the field, documenting the apparent unwillingness of the public to adopt what the experts view as an appallingly simple behavior, in spite of the government's best efforts to educate the public about what they must do, might lead to that government deciding to “do” the activity for the idiot public.

So, as I see it, the experts (that would be us) have done good by getting the early story out there. The public is informed enough to back away from the change we’re calling for. This is a reasonable, expected and adaptive response for someone being asked to quickly make deep, fundamental, life-altering behavior changes at which they are wholly incompetent. To experts (that’s us again) these are urgent, essential and often straightforward changes. To the non-experts, we’re asking them to quickly leave the world as they know it without a vision, map or rally song.

The good news is that, having heard and understood our initial offering (understood because otherwise it couldn’t be motivated avoidance that we’re seeing) , they might now be awaiting our expert help with what should be their next step (i.e., not abstract drivel like “use less energy” but concrete, graduated steps for the intelligent novice). What we have to start doing is worrying less about how they aren’t getting it (or even wanting to get it) at the same level that we are, and start worrying more about disseminating the procedural “how to” knowledge, and right fast if we expect to capitalize on our initial success at catching their attention. Hopkin’s new book The Transition Companion (2011) with its “pattern language” structure (he calls them “ingredients”) is a nice example of what we need much more of.

I have a son who himself has two young sons. He cannot bear to hear anything that threaten their future and he will not listen to anything, like diminishing resources, that threaten their future.

My immediate family is more accepting. The kids and their spouses are into reskilling, gardening, being a one-car family. I count myself mighty lucky that they’re trying things out. That's not to say they listen to everthing I say. And my buying each couple a copy of When Technology Fails is still the source of jokes (e.g., got enough nails for the apocalypse dad?)

The extended family hasn’t been up to listening. I wouldn’t call it “motivated avoidance,” just plain zero initial interest in all things environmental. Maybe they’ve warmed up a little bit lately from watching my kids start their lives. I think it was the stories that worked here; my kids tell stories of the fun they’re having experimenting (behavioral entrepreneurs?). Seems some of the extended family seems to feel they’re missing out on something. I think this follows Cialdini’s norm-based behavior change model where the key is making the desired behavior seem somehow scarce, or the intrinsic rewards hard-to-get or available only to the initiated. Cialdini suggest this builds on our innate sensitivity to constraints (e.g., for a limited time only, for skilled experts only).

This got me searching for research on how to communicate about such things. Cialdini’s classic on persuasion is good, but the better book I’ve uncovered, so far, is Mike Hulme (2009) Why we disagree about climate change: Understanding controversy, inaction and opportunity. Cambridge.

A colleague and I were talking about this post today and got to wondering who our audience really is. Maybe it’s not always the people our age (~60) or in their 40s and 50s. They’re still living out the wonder years of the efflorescence of oil. Maybe my audience is closer in age to the grandkids.

My wife and I teach gardening to kids at her pre-school (~140 kids) who just soak it up. And grandkids seem to like getting dirty (that lets us teach them gardening) and making stuff (woodworking, canning, dehydrating) and mucking about in the woods (foraging) and camping (wood craft). They love stories (not Kunstler’s Monday morning doom-posts, but Little House on the Praire works). Grand parenting can be such a subversive art form.

This reminds me of a section is Stewart’s Earth Abides where, after struggling to teach the community’s kids the 3Rs to little avail Ish realizes he needs to also teach them practical skills. He silently, but in their presence, makes a bow and arrow which the kids take to immediately. And later in the book this becomes an essential tool/skill. Hope we’re not headed back there, but who knows.

Ah but this debate is not about conditions that make people change their behavior.

I disagree. The third article discusses why it is unlikely we will take action on the problems we face. And the first article is about how staying poorly informed may be a way to put off having to take action ourselves (instead we ascribe that role to others, the government in this instance). These are all about behavior. They focus on the antecedents or consequences of behavior change. And while they are suggesting that people will not change behavior, I think that’s the wrong way to frame the issue. Hence my “what are the conditions under which… .”

This is a topic that fascinates me. I recently had a piece published that outlines some infrequently used behavior change techniques. In the first paragraph folks might see some commonly mentioned models of human nature ripped right from TOD or Energy Bulletin posts. It’s at: http://www.future-science.com/doi/pdfplus/10.4155/cmt.11.59


But, if for a moment, we grant the researchers the possibility that their interpretations are correct, then the issue here is not that human nature has doomed us. Rather, it is what are the conditions under which humans don't stick their heads in the sand when faced with a long-term, complex issue.

I think the "long-term, complex" thing is a red herring.

To me, this looks like a variant of Nate's "failing dam" example. People who live closest to a dam worry less about it failing than those farther away.

I would guess we are hard-wired this way, because there really is little point in worrying about things we have little control over. Natural selection has favored those who ignore things they can't do anything about.

Natural selection has favored those who ignore things they can't do anything about.

Exactly! In most of ancient history people lived with the possibility that an invading army could sweep down and kill everyone in the village or city. (Read the Old Testament for at least a hundred examples of this.) The people could not keep that on their minds or they would have went crazy. They had to live their lives as if the chance of an invading army was extremely unlikely. Only then could they function normally.

And it is human nature, our evolutionary success, that has gotten us into this damn mess.

Ron P.

And it is human nature, our evolutionary success, that has gotten us into this damn mess.

But the point is that human nature is not monolithic (the point I make in the article). Evolution did not produce just hard-wired responses or clever denial mechanisms. It also produced fluid cognition and a range of clever information processing techniques.

Take Nate's below-the-dam, or the risk-of-invading-army examples. The outcome needed is clear: to not dwell on the reality so we can function. Socio-biology explains our functioning by invoking, often an unconscious, ignoring of the facts. This works. Although note the absence of a neural mechanism to explain the process.

But there are other cognitive mechanisms, each naturally selected for, that produce the very same outcome. One conscious, volitional mechanism is our capacity to direct attention (More at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~rdeyoung/directedattention.html). It works through active inhibition of "distracting" mental activity (e.g., inhibiting a cascade of cell assembly firings initiated by recognition or recall of the dam, the army, the horrific outcome if...) thus allowing for behavioral effectiveness. This works too. It’s very flexible. But it fatigues. And so, the people who “can’t take it anymore” and need to move away from the dam may benefit from some time away to restore directed attention. This time away is needed even without dams and armies to burden us: weekends away from the burden of work and co-workers, vacations away from the tasks and neighbors at home, getting away from civilization so that we can be civil when we return (the bible also mentions, repeatedly, the importance of a Sabbath).

Directed attention's automatic counterpart is involuntary attention (drop a large book behind a coworker to see its unconscious effect). Both forms of attention evolved. But why have two attention mechanisms? Why was the hard wiring of involuntary attention not sufficient (it uses deeply coded pattern recognition heuristics)? Flexibility, of course. Involuntary attention works well for discrete, highly salient, fascinating, acute stimuli. Directed attention for the mundane, low-level, non-fascinating, although nonetheless important, stimuli (e.g., threat of future invasion, uncertain or low-probability but high consequence failures). The key is that both forms of attention work by inhibiting activity in the brain (a vast number of the neuronal connections in the brain are inhibitory). That is, human cognition and behavior is fluid and effective to the degree that we can dynamically inhibit distracting or competing activity.

Reductionism does not help us understand human nature any better today than when the behaviorists tried it. So I’d rework it as: It’s the pluralism of human nature, an evolutionary outcome, that will help get us out of the damn mess.


You don't even need to avoid getting crazy. Just take this example.

Some guy say that climate is changing and there is gonna be a long term drought. Now some of the local farmers say "crap!' and sell of their farm. The rest decides to stay and see what happen. Then it starts to get warmer. Some of the remaining farmers remember the climate profecy and say 'the guy was right', sell of their farms, and leaves. The drought gets worse and worse.

In the end of this process there will be only 1 farm out of 100 left. Who is gonna live in it? Die hard denialists, they are the ones who will not give up. And their offspring willinherit the gene pool.

I think the "long-term, complex" thing is a red herring.

But don't we have to remain functional in both instances? Both for the tangible, perceivable and "simple" nearby dam and the longer-term more complex issues the researchers used in their study (i.e., economy, energy and the environment).

People who live closest to a dam worry less about it failing...

Maybe. But as my reply to Ron (above) argues, this worrying less can also be the outcome of dynamic cognitive inhibition. The difference is subtle but means that our being able to function in the presence of the dam is possible not only from a hard-wired, unconscious mental response.

Dynamic cognitive processes are useful to work with. We can alter them through information, instruction, training, etc. And hopeful since it gives us the situation where, while the energy descent is inevitable, the nature of our response to it need not be.


I think it's hopeful in another way. You asked "What are the conditions under which humans don't stick their heads in the sand?"

The answer is, when they're living farther away from the dam. That is, when it is possible to do something about the problem. Or at least, they think it's possible that what they do can make a difference.

Yes, of course.

I was thinking of it in terms of interventions. As in changing behaviors with regard to climate disruption and energy descent. In these cases, we can't move everyone farther away from the dam in order to support their trying to do something.

Sometimes humans do take useful action under the most unnerving of situations. Kenneth Boulding said, "if it exists, then it is possible." So, "what are the conditions under which people take action when they are close to the dam?"

One answer is "when they think they can make a difference." We can help alot here since this deals with vision, competence, etc.

But is that the only answer? Sometimes meaningfulness and purpose can also cause us to try to change things in the face of incredible odds.


I would guess we are hard-wired this way

Modern neuroscience indicates that we are not hard-wired but rather neuro-plastically wired (our wiring is constantly changing --even into old age)

we are not hard-wired but rather neuro-plastically wired

Mainly. Although there are hard-wired responses too. Such as the looming response, startle reflex, and the tendency to immediately react to some of the involuntary attention stimuli. James lists these latter as, strange things, moving things, wild animals, bright things, pretty things, metallic things, words, blows, blood, etc. etc. etc.

The potential evolutionary significance of such objects and events argues for why hard-wiring makes sense and for why involuntary attention does not fatigue; it is adaptive that such things rivet our attention even when encountered repeatedly in quick succession. And we likely wouldn't benefit from their being able to be un-wired.

But, of course, being made to attend to something doesn't necessarily say how we'll respond. Here's where neuro-plasticity comes in. First responders can be trained to run toward the disaster, while the rest of us are running away or frozen in place. We're all attending the same, but responding differently.


Back in 2009, the Australian Government put out this peak oil report, called Transport energy futures: long-term oil supply trends and projections.

They are now ignoring it, or actually covering it up. Matt Mushalik wrote a post about the situation, called Australian Energy White (Wash) Paper 2011: peak oil denial not yet peaked.

That was a pretty thorough post! Mushalik didn't leave anything out.


"Looking at your heating bills or gas prices, you may find it surprising that the United States is enjoying a mini oil boom." They don't offer anything that isn't factually correct. But they seem to confuse the chicken and egg aspect of the situation. It's the current high oil prices (with the resultant high costs of products) that has created the "mini oil boom". There seems to be an assumption that the uptick in drilling/production should be reducing prices. Let those high oil prices disappear and so will the boom.

Either that or it's those dang speculators running prices up again. I thought the govt fixed that problem.

"The cure for high oil prices... is high oil prices"

That cure no longer works!

How do we finish this sentence now?

"The cure for high oil prices is..."

... using (much) less.

Of course, most Americans don't prefer that solution, but they're going to be forced to do it at some point.

Which is why I say to free market true believers: "Yes, the market will fix this problem, but you won't like the solution the market comes up with."

The free market at work,, or not:

For oil and gas explorers, turning reserves into production isn't a cheap business. Thanks to the European banking crisis, it's about to get even more expensive.

French banks such as BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale have long dominated the market for loans to oil companies secured against reserves. But these banks are now raising prices and cutting credit. For exploration and production companies, finding funds could soon get as hard as finding oil.

That very statement stuck me as one of the most ominous I have read since becoming interested in the problems of economic growth. If you couple the concept of reduced financing with the obvious increase in the marginal cost of producing the "next" barrel of oil, this could be the real coming-together of the financial crisis and peak oil.

"The cure for high oil prices is..."

Ride a bike or take a hike, Peak Oil aware Tshirt designed by Fernando Magyar

Of course based on RDY's well thought out comment and linked paper upthread that isn't likely to be a very quick cure >;^)
It seems to me that most of us are in for a very long convalescence and some us just aren't going to make it.

The problem is that modern North American suburbs are neither walkable nor cycleable - in fact, in recent decades developers have been building communities that can be navigated only by car.

These suburbs will not be sustainable in the post-peak-oil era and many of them will have to be abandoned. This process is already underway as part of the mortgage meltdown that the US has experienced recently.

Fortunately I've been able to influence the development process anywhere I have lived, so those communities should be okay. The problem is that I can't be everywhere, and other people don't seem to be able to see the future. In fact they seem to deliberately ignore obvious problems developing.

Thanks for that link AWS.

After reading that analysis I can only conclude that the business model for shale gas is fatally flawed. So much for the "shale gale".

This is an absolutely fantastic article! A must read for anyone trying to understand natural gas production and pricing.

My only quibble is where he talks about futures prices (presumably 'front month').

What most people fail to realize is that the futures prices for settlement beyond 30 days in the future are more highly correlated with the past price of gas than they are with the future price of gas -- Futures prices are primarily a lagging indicator of what the price has been.

In order to use futures prices to get a glimpse of the optimism or pessimism of the market, as the above article suggests, you have to look at the slope of the 'futures chain'. If it slopes up (contango) then the market is optimistic that prices will increase; if it slopes down (backwardation) then the market is pessimistic and believes that prices will drop.

You can follow this evolution of market sentiment at the Market Futures databrowser. Here is an example from July that shows just how wrong the futures market can be:

From this chart we can see that the futures chain starting on July 24 showed gently rising prices with the usual seasonal cycle. We can also see that on July 24, 2011, previous bets on the December, 2011 settlement price had hovered in a tight band between $4.75 and $5.00.

How wrong they were!

Looking at today's chart shows the same gently rising futures chain we saw on July 24. What is the likelihood of that?

I have no idea where natural prices will go over the long term. There are so many competing factors: well completions, first year decline rates, environmental legislation, pipeline politics, LNG export, huge arbitrage with Asia, weather, the economy, etc. There is so much we don't have a handle on.

But there is clearly a lot of money to be lost when the market gets even short term pricing so wrong.


Re: Output from N.Sea field to remain diminished -Statoil, up top:

Gullfaks by day:


Gullfaks by night:


What if Chinese oil consumption does not keep growing at the current rate? If China crashes, oil demand will surely be affected. Krugman wrote about this possibility today in his regular column and then I read this article by Patrick Chovanec that adds to this case: http://chovanec.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/foreign-affairs-chinas-real-est...

Sudden, steep price reductions are upending real estate markets across China. According to the property agency Homelink, new home prices in Beijing dropped 35 percent in November alone. And the free fall may continue for some time.

35% in a month is, if correct, realy very much. This is gonna hurt somewhere.

Great article Bear, thanks for the link. The China real estate crash is beginning to hit MSM.

China's housing bubble is losing air

Reporting from Beijing—
Falling home values. Debt-strapped borrowers. Real estate woes dogging the economy. It's old news in the United States, but now the air has started to leak from another great housing bubble — in China.

Home prices nationwide declined in November for the third straight month, according to an index of values in 100 major cities compiled by the China Index Academy, an independent real estate firm. Average prices in the Shanghai area are down about 40% from their peak in mid-2009, to about $176,000 for a 1,000-square-foot home.

China's Real Estate Bubble May Have Just Popped Bold theirs

The biggest unanswered question is whether existing investors -- the people holding all those sold but empty "ghost" condos and villas -- will join in the sell-off, which could turn the market's retreat into a rout.

And from Forbes:

China Housing Bubble Deflating; More Declines Seen In '12

Ron P.

Tuesday morning Edit. Another news bulletin on the Chinese Real Estate bubble.

China's Real Estate Bubble Has Burst. The View From Qingdao.

I have been engaged in a friendly debate with a number of economists about the date when the Chinese real estate market "bubble" will finally burst. The opinions of the economists vary. Some believe the bubble will never burst. Some project that the bubble will burst "sometime" in the future. The future date is usually something vague like 2013. The argument being that the Chinese government will not allow the bubble to burst until after its 2012 power transition.

Now we are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. When the word of this collapse hits the world markets, what will be the effect?

Chinese crush had been on MSM (at least in China) for the past several years, but on the mean time, housing price still sky rocketed, way beyond my purchasing power. that is sad

If Chinese oil consumption does stop growing at the current rate then many of the models we've discussed here begin to fall apart, leaving the USA with lower prices for gasoline and heating oil. Your question suggests a concern with falling Chinese demand. I would suggest that would be a very good thing for those of us in the net import countries.

Am I missing your point? We use to worry about China taking all the oil. Now we are worried that they will not take all the oil?

Yes you are totally missing the point. A China crash would affect most of the world's economies in a very negative way. From BrownBear's link above:

The impact of a housing downturn would have a significant impact globally. International suppliers who have been fueling China’s construction boom — iron-ore miners in Australia and Brazil, copper miners in Chile, lumber mills in Canada and Russia, and multinational equipment makers such as Caterpillar and Komatsu – could be hard hit. Heavy losses on real estate and related lending could damage investment and consumer confidence, undermining the rising tide of Chinese demand that has been a much-needed growth engine for everything from Boeing airplanes to Volkswagen and GM automobiles to KFC and McDonald’s fast food.

Also: China is the Real Threat to the Worlds Economy

There is growing evidence of dangerous stalling economic growth in China, the world’s largest manufacturing country, according to George Leong, editor for Profit Confidential.

Any impact on the Chinese economy could send shockwaves around the world, says Leong. The Chinese economy, which had been charging ahead on all cylinders, is showing some growth pains that could hamper the country’s rate of growth.

Of course this could lead to very cheap oil prices. That would be a natural effect of a worldwide recession.

Ron P.

See this http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/kyle-bass/2011/12/16/kyle-bas...

There is a very important point made in the interview, If one were to take the net worth of all the Chinese Bank loans and take into account the fact that an RE crash would make 20% of those loans NPA's(historical trend). The value of those NPA's would exceed the entire dollar reserve holding of China, something that the world thinks makes China the last savior of all.

Scary statistics.

Chinese gov can just print more money or let local gov go bust like they did it before. it is not related to foreign reserve.

Chinese gov can just print more money or let local gov go bust like they did it before. it is not related to foreign reserve.

Sure it's easy, shouldn't affect their economy in any way. I should get my own printer as well /sarc

I am not saying it do not have some negative effect, I just want to say it can be done. And it was done before

"Of course this could lead to very cheap oil prices. That would be a natural effect of a worldwide recession.

Only until reduced investment and production meet the new global MOL. Prices rise again relative to ability to pay, cycle starts again, which is where we are now. Bumpy steps down....until production falls to the point when oil products are only available to the most essential services/applications, or the very wealthy.

As we've seen here, finance/credit and physical limits are in a race to the bottom.

You are right, I did not articulate my position properly. As oil consumers, this is surely good news. However if oil prices fall, this will have a devastating impact on oil projects that are counting on high prices like shale, deep water and oil sands. After all, China has been a bottomless pit when it comes to oil demand.

One more thought after I had some time to think about it: we can not be sure that an economic slowdown will cause oil consumption to drop in China. Especially if the Chinese government were to make credit for buying motor vehicles cheaper (to compensate for the real-estate bust), then oil consumption might actually go up. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

the world also lose 50% steel producion, 60% PC production, about 40% shipbuilding (another 40% from ROK will prob doomed by DPRK force in chain reaction), 86% of harbor machinary. net importer might not have enough time and resource to build alternative producion base to replace China.

Very good point, and as long as the means of production and raw materials are in China they can produce whatever they need.

It's amazing how many things are possible if you don't need to make a cash profit to satisfy the shareholders.

The raw material is not in China but somewhere else. If China is cut off from global market due to ecnomical crush or political instability. The raw material exporting countries would find themselve lost customers and experience price shock. The importers will face a hard time to replace the the production capacity (they just can not build enought factories and tools in such quantitiy and in such affordable price). It will put everyone in hell.

Re. "Oil boomlet sweeps U.S. as exports and production rise" (at the top).

I feel like I was mentally mugged after reading this article. Like I was tag-teamed by two or three expert pick-pockets (Edward Morse, Danny Yergin...).

I wonder what the article would have looked like had someone competent wrote it - or if they had competent editors.

Maybe we should forward Why energy journalism is so bad to every author of every energy-related article featured in Drumbeat.

What gets me - is if we are trying to reduce our consumption of foreign oil, then why are we getting rid of any by exporting it? This is madness.

Wouldn't it make more sense to keep and use all of this oil domestically, rather than exporting it to the highest bidder?

Sure, the Pacific NW got some of Alaska's oil. But a bunch of it was exported to Japan.

This is just another way in which the USA keeps shooting itself in the foot.


You have to read it very carefully - but it does not say we are exporting oil - it says we are exporting some of the refined products of oil. A very different story.

Casey - In addition to the misinterpretation others pointed out, we have exported oil to Japan at times...and oil from federal leases which is normally illegal to do. But an exception was made. We didn't actually sell the oil to Japan. It was a "paper swap". Japan bought oil from another country (from which it was cheaper to ship to the US than Japan.) And then US refiners swapped our oil for that oil . Essentially saved on shipping costs for both of us. Of course when oil gets tight and Japan can't buy oil to swap with us the deal won't work and we won't ship any oil to them.

Why are we getting rid of any by exporting it?

Simple answer:

It's a free market and the US not the highest bidder.

Also there can be an imbalance in the various refined categories:
Lets say our refineries produce 100units of gasoline, and 100 units of diesel, and our country consumes 100 and 90 units respectively. We would have ten units of diesel to export. Europe has more diesel vehicles than we, so it makes sense for them to import some diesel, because if they refined enough they would have excess gasoline.

Then your country can be both importing the same thing in one geographical region and importing in another. Lets say Seattle exports gasoline to Vancouver, and Maine imports the same from New Brunswich. Both areas are optimizing transport. Shipping gas from Seattle to Maine would be much more costly.

We get the oil from Alaska's North Slope and the tar sands goo from Alberta here in the PNW, that would be Fourth Corner to residents. We crack the oil, keep most of the mogas and export most of the diesel. Business has been booming so much that the price of gas actually went down to $3.39/gal locally, despite the Canadians crossing the border to fill up and driving the price up. The refineries added another shift. Diesel is still high, because between Japan's earthquake rebuilding and China's manufacturing, we are outbid.

We get the oil from Alaska's North Slope and the tar sands goo from Alberta

We also get Bakken crude by rail:

Anacortes’ Tesoro refinery to get more crude oil from North Dakota

About two out of every three barrels of crude oil that are processed in US refineries are imported. Only one out of three comes from domestic production.


"About two out of every three barrels of crude oil that are processed in US refineries are imported. Only one out of three comes from domestic production."

That is what I conclude from looking at the numbers. But the USA Today article uses this quote:

"the U.S. is importing a smaller share — 49% in 2010, down from 60% in 2005 — of the oil it uses, adding: "We're moving toward energy independence."...

That's about the third time I have seen that 49% imports number. Where are they getting that number - are they just making it up?

That 49% is just made up. As late as 2008 we were only producing 1 out of every three barrels we used. But since the recession has cut consumption dramatically, and some increase from the Bakken, we are now producing about 1 out of every 2.5 barrels we use. But that is crude only imports and crude only production. The average (crude oil) for the last 10 weeks we imported 8,766,000 barrels per day and produced 5,868,000 barrels per day. That is according to the EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report

U.S. production has increased approximately 300,000 bp/d in the last one year.

Ron P.

From the EIA's Energy in Brief page on Foreign Oil Dependence:

The United States consumed 19.1 million barrels per day (MMbd) of petroleum products during 2010, making us the world's largest petroleum consumer. The United States was third in crude oil production at 5.5 MMbd. But crude oil alone does not constitute all U.S. petroleum supplies. Significant gains occur, because crude oil expands in the refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels. These additional supplies totaled 4.2 MMbd in 2010.

The confusion comes primarily from defining production in terms of barrels of crude while defining consumption in terms of barrels of petroleum products.

In the BP Statistical Review, where consumption - production shows the US importing 60%, oil production and consumption are defined slightly differently:

Oil production data includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids - the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately). It excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as biomass and coal derivatives.

Oil consumption data includes inland demand plus international aviation, marine bunkers and oil products consumed in the refining process. Consumption of fuel ethanol and biodiesel is also included.

This means that those who calculate net exports by subtracting consumption from production need to be very careful or include a caveat as these numbers can be misleading if a country generates significant amounts of liquid fuels from biomass.

(Note that the Energy Export databrowser makes no corrections to the BP dataset and isn't really comparing apples to apples. As non-traditional liquid fuels work their way into the product stream I will need to adjust this.)

If the EIA said that net imports of "liquid fuels" were at 49% I think that would be a reasonable statement but it is too easy for folks to read "oil" or "petroleum" and draw their own misguided conclusion about what it refers to. To their credit, the EIA page listed above does have a footnote after using the word "petroleum" that advises one to look up the definitions of "petroleum", "oil", "Petroleum products" and "crude oil" in their glossary. Unfortunately, reporters are not that diligent, leading to a lot of confusion about the issue.


Of course, biofuels aren't a material factor in the (net) oil exporting countries, and in any case, as you know they have a very low net energy component.

And not to forget your often cited rise in ave annual crude oil prices. $55 for their year of reference, 2005, and $26 for a few short years earlier, 2002. That's alot of signal to produce.

It comes from the Energy Information Administration:


As you can see from the EIA article, we actually import more than two barrels of oil for each we produce. However, it is willfully obfuscated by crediting the domestic supply column with biofuels, natural gas liquids, and most egregiously, refinery gain (thus crediting ALL the refinery gain to domestic oil - I guess imported oil doesn't crack).

That being said, imports have dropped in proportional and absolute terms due to the recession. As Westexas is fond of pointing out, the US is on it's way to being free of imported oil, the hard way.

Check out this Petroleum flow diagram:


There are no trends/dynamics and no correlations to price/economic activity, but
it's better than the USA today "fact" summary.

Another awful consequence of the USA today article is that the distortions get amplified by the re-reporting process. By way of example, here is the "Bottom Line" from MSNBC


> The contentious debate in Congress over the Keystone XL pipeline
> obscures one significant detail many Americans don't realize:
> In the first three quarters of 2011, we exported more oil than we imported.

So now the USA is energy independent????

And then there are the comments! The vast majority of the MSNBC comments are without a shred of scepticism. The posters take the "BOTTOM LINE" drivel as undisputed givens and take it from there.

Out of 200+ comments there were only 5-6 posters that picked up the discrepancy, but that's was not enough to dislodge the false premises. Most people are more interested in grinding their favourite axes than at getting at the facts.

That's a very useful flow diagram, thanks. But it raises a question. It's for 2010, and shows refined product imports as 1.21 mbd, and RP exports as 2.17 mbd. So the US was a net exporter last year. So why the current hype over the US having just recently become a net exporter again, for as misinformed as said hype is, the misconstrued reality that underlies it was true last year as well?

Because refined products are a manufacturing output rather than the base input.
Saying that the US is doing fine for oil because of the refined product numbers is rather like saying that Japan is doing OK for copper because they export more TV's than they import.

I wonder about the accuracy of the weekly US crude oil production numbers, since so many state regulatory agencies take a while to update their monthly reports. It may be a good idea to focus on US monthly data, which showed 5.6 mbpd of production (C+C) in September (and an average of about 5.6 mbpd for 2011, through September):


And here is the annual chart:

It looks like US refinery runs were about 15.2 mbpd in September. So, domestic crude oil production accounted for about 37% of the crude oil inputs into US refineries in September. Imports (and possible inventory changes) accounted for the balance of the input.

The SAAB bankruptcy was sad, but totally expected. They have not made a profit for the last 10 years or more, and the daily news on swedish chanells have always had something to say about the latest turn. This have been a mess from begining to end, and the outcome was expected. I don't know anyone who did not expect this car maker to go down.

Sweden had 2 car brands, and everyone in Sweden was either a SAAB guy or a Volvo guy. Pretty much like the way you stick to a hockey team. My parents had a Volvo Amazon, and my mom have never owned a non-Volvo. This is gonna have not only industrial and economical consequences, but also cultural.

So what happens with the rump Saab (factories, brands, dealerships, engineers)? Are they absorbed (at firesale prices) by Volvo, converted to some other product -say manufacturing train cars, or scrapped?

That would be foolish as there is a massive over capacity of auto manufacturing even without SAAB. The question really can be extended to all of the industrial world - what happens to the detritus of the industrial world once there isn't enough cheap fuel (or other resources) to keep it running? Greer has suggested that the raw materials eventually get scrapped in an age of salvage.

"The question really can be extended to all of the industrial world - what happens to the detritus of the industrial world once there isn't enough cheap fuel (or other resources) to keep it running? "

At this point the answer to this question is clear. We will create more and more debt to keep the failed industries alive, so the pain of their final dissolution does not fall on the politicians currently in office.

It doesn't fall on any politicians ever, at least not in the US, because they do not run for office to do anything other than prepare for careers as high paid lobbyists.

GM still own licences and don't want their hard earned knowhow to fall in the wrong hands. Especially not chinese hands. I guess they will just sell out machines and inventories for what they are worth. Replacement parts will be manufactured for a good amount of years, since there are a market for them as long as there are cars around.

I had a black, first-generation, aka "ugly duckling" 900 Turbo SPG. I loved and papered that car like you wouldn't believe, but it didn't return the favour (I spent more keeping that car on the road than forty years' worth of Chrysler products combined). Even so, I still miss the big brute.


On a very similar note:

St. Paul Ford plant's closing ends an era for the city

There is a great photo of Model T's literally rolling off the assembly line. This plant got a start with run of river hydro power and has been in operation since 1925.

I think electric scooters should be the next production item.

I like the position of these three article in today's drumbeat:

Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer

The news is terrible. Is the world really doomed

Doom is Normal

It's jumbled outline for society's ongoing voyage through the Stages of Grief.

This is for Nordic Mist.On August 4 we had a gentleman's bet and you wagered that WTI will touch $60 and Brent $80 by the year end.The price was to remain so for a week minimum.Well we are only 10 days away do you concede you were incorrect in your forecast or do you want to wait until the fat lady sings? By the way I want to thank Ron and Rockman for explaining the price mechanisms in the oil market.The win is dedicated to them.

Do you really think nordic mist will pay up?

NY Times, December 31, 2011 Headline:

"China Economy Crashes - Oil Plummets to $60"

So nordic mist could be off the hook! ;-)

That headline has to make it to print by the 24th or he'll still lose. Kind of a Pyrrhic Christmas Gift that.

No kidding.

Kind of a Pyrrhic Christmas Gift that.

+1 that made me snort water out of my nose!

Stop burning my oil! My grandma needs to drive to her mailbox...

Saudi Arabia’s crude oil consumption jumped 13.7 percent in October from the previous month, reaching the highest level since at least 2002, government data show.

The world’s largest exporter of crude used an average of 2.02 million barrels a day of oil in October compared with 1.78 million barrels in September, according to figures the Saudi government submitted to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. Domestic crude use on an annual basis rose 10 percent from 1.84 million barrels a day in the previous year, data posted yesterday on the initiative’s website show.

October crude consumption in the Gulf kingdom was the highest since at least January 2002, when Saudi Arabia began submitting oil statistics to the data initiative. The initiative, supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum, shows figures supplied directly by governments.


Must be mainly population growth causing increased internal consumption?

Re: Wild heating oil prices foreseen this year

The money quote:

For Denny Whitcomb of Lenox, oil is "too darn expensive." He’s heating a "big old Victorian with no insulation" and is paying more than $5,000 per season.

**knock, knock** Helloooo....


Thankfully, the incandescent bulb ban has been put off, so he can use those 100W bulbs to reduce his heating oil usage. /sarc.

Blow in cellulose, wrap the house with a couple inches of polyiso...Probably cost less then half a winter of heating and payback would be forever. Add in some caulk and a can or 3 of expanding foam...

Another option is moving to Florida or Texas.

If the power goes out, Florida becomes unliveable. Texas is already there.

I disagree. Before the whiteman came, we had the Seminoles. And a huge fraction of humanity lives in a climate more propical than Florida. Think about it. South Asia, Africa, much of south and cetral America. Lots of people living in climates that are much hotter and more humid or both. Then consider that Baghdad's summers are harsher than Phoenix's, and the power is out most of the day. No. Our species can adapt. It may be uncomfortable, and some people of marginal health may die, but that level of heat doesn't destroy the viability of the species.

I was born in Thornton Texas in 1933. We got electric service in 1948. My Mother canned vegetables on a wood cook stove when the outside shade temp was 105 - 110 deg. F. I have baled and bucked hay when it was 105 in the shade but no shade available.

Mom was born in Phoenix in 1946. We got our first A/C while I was growing up in the 80's. There is no A/C when working outside, and although we shifted work hours during the summer I did plenty of hard labor in the mid-day heat (outside or crawling in attics) growing up (drank ~5 gallons of water a day doing it).

It's not that hard, people will have to lose all those pounds though, depression era waist-sizes only.

Wrapping his house with exterior insulation would run into several tens of thousands of dollars.There is an huge amount of tedious skilled carpentry work involved, and the materials aren't cheap.

He would be better off to just burn it for the insurance and build a new house. sarc !

The insulation isn't expensive, its if you start adding sheathing, siding and having someone else do it for you. That is why it would be better for this clown to burn his house to the ground and leave for warmer climate. I worked at a nursing home for years and heard so many "snowbird" stories. A lot of these folks actually would own second homes or condos in Florida, AZ, TX and just move north and south (obviously they retired at young age).

There will be an exodus out of the cold areas. I can't see Minneapolis maintaining its population without CHEAP natural gas. Maybe some sort of migrant population that moves north and south with the seasons by foot or bicyle :)?

My family lives mostly right at the foot of or on the lower slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There were a couple of relatives who did migrate yearly back in the thirties-about a mile and a couple of thousand feet in elevation every spring and fall.Conditions up on the crest of the ridges are usually very pleasant at night even in the hottest weather, and down below things are far more comfortable in the winter;it's noticeably warmer and far less windy.

So you don't get cold air pooling in the lower elevations. When I lived in New Mexico, I was at the foot of a mountain in a valley. I could leave my house at 15 degrees F for the ski area two thousand feet higher up, and find out it was 40F up there. [Of course that area was notoriously windy]. In any case in clear calm weather, the fact that cold air sinks can have a startling effect.

I see a similar effect here in California. I live close to sealevel, but commute over a thousand foot hill. Morning temps on the hill are often 5-10F warmer.

We do get cold air pooling here of course, but it seems to be more of a cool weather to cold weather phenomenon.When you are in "creek bottom " or the bottom of a ravine running down off a steep mountainside, it is VERY noticeable-except in the middle of the summer, when it would make sleeping without air conditioning MUCH more pleasant.The temperature falls off some, but the air is noticeably more humid (this area is generally emerald green in summer) and the effect is not enough to sleep comfortably.

Sometimes in winter when I drive for a few miles in a low spot as on a road that follows a stream, and then crest a hill my windshield will frost up on the outside due to the chilled glass encountering warm moist air up on the hill.

The wind does have a lot to do with it-there is almost always a fair breeze, if not a serious wind, along the ridge tops at night, but such breezes are few and far between in the middle of the summer at the lower elevations.

Not many of us chose to build in such spots-the winter cold was worse than the summer heat, considering that the heat was bearable but the cold was not, and firewood had cut , hauled, and split.The low spots are also far more prone to killing frosts-a major problem when your family is highly dependent on extensive gardening for the table, and table gardens are preferentially located within a very short distance of the house whenever possible.

We learned to site our houses to take best advantage of the warm air reliably found on slopes that are advantageously situated in respect to the surrounding area.

The low places where the cold air pools settle at night are used for pasture and field crops such as corn.

Corn can be replanted, or planted late in the spring.There is not a single orchard in the entire neighborhood located in a creek bottom-the risk of killing frost is too high.

Of course none of this matters to those building new homes these days;anybody who can afford a new house can afford central heat and air, gardening is a hobby at best rather than a mainstay, and consequently nobody really cares so long as the building lot is attractive.The only real difference is that lots with a view cost a lot more.

There will be an exodus out of the cold areas. I can't see Minneapolis maintaining its population without CHEAP natural gas.

PassiveHaus standards say this is wrong.

I doubt if you could remodel most older houses to PassiveHaus standards for any less than it would cost to simply build a new house.

Old folks like it warm in any case, and you can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the winter in the deep South even if you need a cane.

The Yanks are not yet through with us poor suffering Rebs- the invasion has barely gotten started with no relief in sight unless it gets so hot they stay put.

There are so many in my area now that a young guy just getting started has no hope of buying any property any more, beyond a house and lot.

I live in Minneapolis. Old houses here get refit or they do get torn down and rebuilt eventually. We also have long standing adaptations to deal with the impossibility of heating some of these old houses completely.

One thing a lot of people who live in older houses up here do is close off lightly used portions of their house in the winter. They may have a 1500sf 2-story, but during the winter they are only heating 1000sf of it (or less) to comfortable temperatures.

Iraq issues arrest warrant for vice-president

Iraq's Shia-led government has issued an arrest warrant for Tareq al-Hashimi, the country's vice-president and highest ranking Sunni official, on "terrorism" charges.

The move, a day after the last US combat troops left Iraq and ended the nearly nine-year war, signalled a sharp new escalation in sectarian tensions that drove Iraq to the brink of civil war just a few years ago.

Another civil war will not improve Iraq's oil output.

Now they will start killing each other again! Maybe the middle-eastern countries are better off when they are ruled by a strongman? What if Libya, Tunisia and Egypt also slide into chaos?

I keep thinking to myself that Egypt is 80 million people in a land with no oil, no water, no cropland, no minerals, nothing except that thin green line known as the Nile river valley. And that the great Aswan dam is robbing even that of the inundation and topsoil that kept a population 1/100th or so of today's alive for thousands of years.

I can't see any positive future for Egypt. Libya, at least, has oil. I don't know much about Tunisia but they have much less population than Egypt.

Egypt has oil production although it does not meet all their domestic needs. IIRC they import about 20% or so, and only became a net oil importer two or three years ago. Egypt is a member of OPEC but is one of the smallest producers.

Libya relies almost entirely for water on artesian fossil water. We got pictures and maps during the recent war.

Egypt can still be maintained to some degree, but are long term running out of resources. And that relatively fast. Long term they stand no chance. As you pointed out. When things goout of controll like that people everywhere in the world tend to vote forpopulist partys. In the muslim world that spells "Islamist". And Egypt is neighbouring Israel, prefered hate object of islamists all over the world. This is something to keep an eye on.

Many people, like many on here, seem to view the world through the lense of the nation-state; their Plato's Cave prison. They're happy with the shadows on the wall.

This is not the totality or epitome of what is possible for social organization... The nation-state did not exist for most of humans' history.

Where the nation-states collapse and/or people realize that they actually have the natural right to move freely about their planet, then they will.

To greener pastures.

Costs of Iraq War:

Spent & Approved War-Spending - About $1 trillion of US taxpayers' funds spent or approved for spending through 2011.

Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

Lost and Reported Stolen - $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 by Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen who called it "the largest theft of funds in national history." (Source - CBS News) Last known holder of the $6.6 billion lost: the U.S. government.

...though it hasn't been a total loss for everyone...

Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings

Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion

Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items - $20 billion

Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem "questionable or supportable" - $3.2 billion

...especially those LTFAO,
all the way to the bank.


Pakistan is also rapidly approaching a military coup. IMO their will be a new government in less than 3 months.

I don't know if this is because the VP is really involved in terrorism (there was a Greenzone bombing which had to have been an inside job), or just a naked powergrab by Maliki. But in either case, it doesn't bode well for future peace and tranquility.

Could Iraq descend into a civil war again?

... Iraqiyya, the largely Sunni bloc of Iyad Allawi, has withdrawn its legislators from parliament, armored personnel carriers manned by loyalists of Prime Minister Maliki have been stationed outside the homes of some of his political opponents, and the government has leveled serious terrorism charges against one of the most prominent Sunni politicians in the country – Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlak, a fellow Sunni, has also been targeted to be ousted from his post by Maliki's allies in Parliament.

Hybrid Bus a ‘Masterpiece of British Engineering’

... Transport for London claims the hybrid double-decker Volvo bus “will be the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind when it enters passenger service.” The engineering test vehicle emits 640 grams of CO2 per kilometer — less than half of that of current diesel buses (1295 g/km). In testing, fuel economy was also better than twice that of a standard diesel bus, clocking in at 11.6 mpg

Hasn't it broken down already?


According to the Evening Standard, the bus ran out of juice on the M1 motorway. A spokesman for the transit agency said a battery warning light prompted the driver to pull to the shoulder and recharge.

The transit agency said the bus’ battery was designed to recharge during stop-and-go city traffic, not during a long highway haul.

“When the bus undertakes long, non-stopping motorway journeys, such as its journey to Bedfordshire this morning, it can lose charge and the driver is briefed to pull to the side of the road to allow the battery to recharge,” Mike Weston, London Buses Operations director, told the Standard. “After the battery had re-charged the driver was unable to re-start the engine. It was later established that the bus had run out of diesel. Once the bus was refuelled it carried on its journey. We will be speaking with the operator to ensure that this does not happen again.”

My wife bought a Prius in 2006. Poor planning on my part left me in a situation where I ran out of gas and had to call my brother to bring me some on the side of the freeway. He and several of our friends still harass me about running out of gas in my "electric" car.

Anyone but me notice that "hybrid double-decker Volvo bus" fits perfectly into the Flanders & Swann song?

The original phrase was "97 horsepower omnibus".

"Along the Queen's great highways,
I drive my merry load,
at 20 miles per hour
down the middle of the road..."

(sigh -- seems like a lost age, when humour was genuinely silly and not quite so noir)

Volvo is British engineering?

The Sun never sets on the Multinational Corporate Marketplace.

Nice one! They updated the article to clarify that the hybrid drive train was built by Volvo. The bus itself was built by a british company.

From GAO: Progress and Challenges in Spending Weatherization Funds

As of September 2011, the 58 state-level grant recipients were awarded approximately $4.75 billion from DOE to implement the Weatherization Assistance Program under the Recovery Act and reported spending about $3.46 billion (about 73 percent).

DOE expects to meet or exceed its production target of 607,000 homes and spend most of the act’s funds because some recipients have been able to exceed their production targets because of a lower average cost of weatherizing homes and lower training and technical assistance expenses than anticipated.

... an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study project that energy savings will likely exceed the program’s costs, so that every $1 spent on the weatherization program for 2009 through 2011 would result in almost $2 in energy savings over the useful life of the investment

... the Recovery Act funded approximately 14,090 FTEs for the quarter ending September 30, 2011

GOP led Congress wishes to terminate the program March 31, 2012.

Drone-Ethics Briefing: What a Leading Robot Expert Told the CIA

The usual reason why we'd want robots in the service of national security and intelligence is that they can do jobs known as the 3 "D"s: Dull ... Dirty ... Dangerous.

But there's a new, fourth "D" that's worth considering, and that's the ability to act with dispassion. ... robots can solve the dilemma of using physicians in interrogations and torture. These activities conflict with their duty to care and the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Robots can monitor vital signs of interrogated suspects, as well as a human doctor can. They could also administer injections and even inflict pain in a more controlled way, free from malice and prejudices ...

Another "D" - Deception ... More broadly, the public could be worried about whether we should be creating machines that intentionally deceive, manipulate, or coerce people.

I'd add yet another D: Denial. "It wasn't intentional, it was the result of an unfortunate programming bug!"

Sooner or later they'll get smart enough and turn on their masters OR they'll mate one with a human creating a "Robocop".

I think that was also the plot line to "Battlestar Galactica" and one of the vignettes in "Animatrix: The Second Renaissance"

Yep. "Skynet" from the sci-fi Terminator franchise comes to mind.

Do doctors still swear the Hippocratic oath?

Also Mind reading machines on their way: IBM

Century-old technology colossus IBM depicted a near future in which machines read minds and recognize who they are dealing with.

Hedge fund share restrictions favor managers over investors

... the researchers conservatively estimated that managers in the hedge fund industry could have effectively sheltered approximately $2.4 billion dollars from reduced returns that Sadka and Ozik say are directly linked to the withdrawal of investor dollars from a hedge fund.

Mystery predators may have contributed to fiscal collapse in 2007: research

... at a critical point in the financial crisis, the stock of Citigroup was attacked by traders by selling borrowed stock (short-selling) which may have caused others to sell in panic. The subsequent price drop enabled the attackers to buy the stock back at a much lower price.

This kind of illegal market manipulation is called a bear raid and the new study supports earlier suspicions that the raids played a role in the market crash.

On November 1, 2007, the number of borrowed Citigroup shares jumped by 100 million shares, a value of almost $6 billion. Six days later, a similar number of shares was returned on a single day.

Sharks caught feeding on their own. Where it the SEC?

Betting that a worthless bank is worthless is neither illegal nor manipulation.

There's a not so fine line between fair trading and manipulation. As a small time individual with a trading account, I could legally trade on such a hunch. If I had insider information, or had and used the means to change the market psychology to my benefit, then I would be a manipulator.

As a small time individual I would be a manipulator.

There. Fixed that for ya.

Congressmen and the 1% are immune from charges.

One-third of young U.S. adults have been arrested: study

Close to one in three teens and young adults get arrested by age 23, suggests a new study that finds more of them are being booked now than in the 1960s.

The researchers said it seems that the criminal justice system has taken to arresting both the young and old more than it did in the past, when fines and citations might have been given to some people who are now arrested.

He pointed out that young people who have an arrest on their record might have more trouble getting jobs in the future. It's one thing if that's because they were involved in a violent crime, he continued, but another if their offence was non-violent, like drinking underage or smoking marijuana.

"Arrest does have major social implications for people as they transition from adolescence to adulthood," Wright said

One way to keep people 'down'.

Naturally the distribution of those arrested will not be even across ethnic or social groups, which means the situation is much more extreme for some. And naturally it has nothing to do with our economic situation, nor the "prison industry" that has emerged in recent years.

Makework for the PIC (Prison Industrial Complex). Those are pretty shocking numbers......

And another ...

In California, a Plan to Charge Inmates for Their Stay

A one-night stay in this city’s finest hotel costs $190, complete with sumptuous sheets and a gourmet restaurant. Soon, a twin metal bunk at the county jail, with meals served on plastic trays, will run $142.42.

... last month, the County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a plan to charge inmates for their stay, reimbursing the county for food, clothing and health care.

Prisoners with no assets will not have to pay, but the county has the ability to garnish wages and place liens on homes under the ordinance, which goes into effect this week.

To see the humor in this ... http://www.rall.com/rallblog/comics/2011-12-19.jpg

Brilliant.. it's like the Debtor's Prison meets the Company Store.

"As soon as we've wrung you dry, and scoot you out, you can come back for free.. we'll keep your job waitin' for ya!"

New PV cells

"For one thing," said Zhu, "that 66 percent efficiency can only be achieved when highly focused sunlight is used, not just the raw sunlight that typically hits a solar panel. This creates problems when considering engineering a new material or device."

To circumvent that problem, Zhu and his team have found an alternative. They discovered that a photon produces a dark quantum "shadow state" from which two electrons can then be efficiently captured to generate more energy in the semiconductor pentacene.

Pakistan rations gas supplies as shortfall surges 33% on year to 1.6 Bcf/day

The Pakistan government has reached agreement with major gas consumers for a rationing plan as the country's gas shortfall surges to 1.6 Bcf/day this winter, 33% higher than during the same period last year, a Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas official said Monday.

Fertilizer plants Pak Arab Fertilizer, Agritech Fertilizer, Dawood Hercules and Engro Corporation will shut for 15 days, while the industrial sector in the country's Punjab province will be closed three days a week and in Sindh, one a week, the official said.

Compressed natural gas refueling pumps will be closed for three days a week in Punjab and almost two days a week in Sindh.

In role reversal, US on track to be an oil exporter Bold mine

The contentious debate in Congress over the Keystone XL pipeline obscures one significant detail many Americans don't realize: In the first three quarters of 2011, we exported more oil than we imported. This means it's highly likely that this year will be the first time in more than six decades that the United States will be a net exporter of petroleum products, according to a report in USA Today Monday.

The USA Today story was misleading and it is misleading almost everyone that reads it.

Analysts and scientists who study oil production say the trend is accelerating. An energy expert cited by USA Today predicts that the United States' own production could rise to 2.9 billion barrels annually by the end of the decade.

Not very likely since production is declining everywhere except for the Bakken and other shale deposits. But even if it does that comes to just under 8 million barrels per day. Even with that we would still be importing more than half the oil we consume. Unless of course our consumption drops dramatically, which is a possibility.

Ron P.

The contradiction is right there in your first quote;
The first untruth sets up the reader;

" In the first three quarters of 2011, we exported more oil than we imported"

Then the truth
" it's highly likely that this year will be the first time in more than six decades that the United States will be a net exporter of petroleum products "

And by mixng truth with the lie, it makes the lie stronger, and almost impossible for the uneducated observer to discern the subtle difference here.

They media could do themselves, and their readers/viewers a favour, if they stuck to the terms "crude oil" and "petroluem products"

Then they have to define just what "oil exports" means, as the US exports little, if any, crude oil.

In fact, the oil industry/API or EIA, or some official body, should step in here to quell this confusion. Quoting all these industry "experts" like Yergin, etc, who all have their own agenda to push is not helping.

This would be a good time for the Energy Secretary to have a news conference, and clarify this matter.

There was another story the other day with almost identical wording. Copied? Press release? Hymn sheet?


re: Pipeline Politics: How an Oil Sands Project Has Become Key to Environmentalism

The Keystone pipeline is not going to be limited to carrying oil sands production, it will also carry Canadian conventional production, North Dakota production, and some Texas production.

The problem with Canadian production is 1) Canada is the United States #1 supplier of imported oil, and 2) Canada has almost run out of conventional oil. If the US blocks imports of Canadian oil sands production, it will rather quickly see imports from Canada run down to zero as Canadian conventional production runs out. Then it will be almost completely dependent on OPEC for its imports (Mexican conventional production is also in steep decline).

The problem with production in the US, from North Dakota and Texas, is that almost all the new oil is produced using hydraulic fracturing, which is also on the environmentalists no-no list.

The most practical alternative was to not abandon the United States streetcar lines, interurban rail systems, and long distance passenger trains in favor of cars and freeways. If the environmentalists want the US to keep functioning in the absence of non-conventional oil production, it should campaign to bring them back and electrify them all, but I don't see any sign of that happening.

Mostly they seem to be relying on magic to keep everything running.

Amen, RMG! The day Bill McKibben gets arrested for public transportation will be the day he gets serious for a change. Until then, he's just striking poses.

Actually I sent email to Bill McKibben about Middlebury College in Vermont where he teaches not having any directions except driving.
I pointed out the Middlebury College is on an existing train line
actively running some freight.
To my surprise he did answer and said they are lobbying hard to
get this Rail line back up running passenger service.
Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont is an avowed Peak Oil proponent
and also a Rail proponent.

Vermont under Gov Shumlin has just released a new Energy Plan:


Whether it is enough remains to be seen.
I have not time to review it yet.
But I have been reading the book "Transport Revolutions" by Anthony Perl and Richard Gilbert.
One of their most important points is that the major reason even Europe has NOT reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions and energy reductions is AUTO transportation!

They also point out critical research which seems to indicate that
the biggest factor in energy/ oil usage and GHG emissions is owning an auto or not.
Once you own a car it is just too tempting at current gas prices
to drive it even short distances.


Let me second Transport Revolutions by Perl and Gilbert. It really is a must read for anyone interested in how we transition from oil in the sector that is most dependent on oil. Their breakdown of the energy usage by mode, even allowing for high speed rail and other major investments, is sobering. It is highly technical, but still worth the time.

Twenty Dollars a Gallon by Christopher Steiner is another good choice; he is a civil engineering graduate who handles technical issues in a readable format that may be a better choice for those new to peak oil and technology issues.

Studying the tables in the Perl and Gilbert work brings home the real challenge to maintaining any thing approaching BAU. Even though they assume a 50-fold increase in passenger rail ridership by 2030 the amount of travel "presumed" to still be made by internal combustion engines is huge. The real issue is not in the intercity travel but in the daily commute and travel within urban areas. That is the area where we have to make major progress in converting to public mass transportation and in changing our land use patterns.

Anthony Perl and I have a good relationship. He sees me as more of the "detail man".

Best Hopes for Electrified Rail,


Some data posted here on TOD several years ago showed that 80% of transportation in the USA is NOT commuting to work. I keep wondering if that was correct, but that's what it said. The 80% included shopping, socializing, medical appointments, religious services, etc etc - and even another "personal reasons" on top of all that. Presumbly a lot of that is "discretionary" and will decline (is already).

The National Travel Household Survey (NHTS) is the typical standard over the years for trip purpose data. Back in 1969 about 32 percent of all vehicles trips were journey to work trips; by 2009 that number had dropped to 22 percent, even while the average trip length to work had increased by 30 percent. Of course, until recently we had experienced an increase in the percent of adults in the work force (due mainly to more women in the work force.) Other factors were an increase in single-person households (due to divorce or delays in marriage), suburban sprawl and more employment in the fringe of the urban area, longer commute times, more vehicles per household, telecommuting, etc.

A really odd thing occurred between 1990 and 2001; the proportion of work trips that began or ended at home dropped in half. Some possible reasons were 1) daycare, 2) more parents driving kids to school or picking them up from school, and 3) more combinations of trip purposes, such as stopping by the store or the pizza joint on the way home.

Back in 1969 the typical household had 12,423 vehicle miles of travel each year. Forty years later that total was 19,850 vehicle miles, and even that was down from 21,187 in 2001.

The data posted on TOD was probably about right for the time in which it was posted. The percentages vary depending on whether vehicle trips or person trips are being described. Even if the total vehicular mileage drops by a third we will still only be back to where we were when the US hit its own peak oil point.

One wonders why McKibben refrains from making such efforts the core of his work. One assumes he understands the reality. So, it must be simple opportunism. It's easy (and pointless) to demonize fossil fuels. It's hard and genuinely radical to challenge power and convention on the demand side.

Simple Opportunism?

It's easy to take potshots at McKibben from safe shelter, while he's out there stating a real problem, willing to be in your crosshairs. We can each of us decide who's pronouncements are in fact pointless, yours or his.

He's been very frank about his travel carbon footprint and the irony of it.. he says he's done what he can to set up offsets for what he does, whether that includes driving in VT or not, I don't know.. but to get the word out, which he has clearly made 'The Core of his Work'.. you've got to get around, and some parts of the system don't get reinvented and rebuilt overnight.

To get what word out? The word he's getting out now is that blocking the Keystone project will somehow stop the Canadian bitumen from being mined and burned. That's super-naive, at best. Behind that message lies the equally erroneous implication that our main task as progressive survivalists is finding substitutes for existing energy supplies.

As for the real issue of changing the demand for energy, I'm not just talking about how McKibben himself travels or the niceties of gestures in VT. Those are trivialities. I'm saying that genuine struggle for a livable future would involve going to the White House and getting arrested on behalf of nation-wide public transportation, railroad restoration, urban reconstruction, and other forms of radical conservation.

FWIW, I'm not taking potshots at McKibben. I'm taking cannon blasts. I'm saying he's wasting his followers' time. Keystone XL is a non-issue. The only thing that's going to slow down fossil fuels is seriously reduced demand.

FWIW, I'm not taking potshots at McKibben. I'm taking cannon blasts

Actually, I would say what you are doing is making the perfect the enemy of the good. Keystone is also not a non-issue because it represents an attempt to maintain BAU and low oil prices and thereby further delay exactly the type of transition to non-automobile transportation you would advocate. No way will most Americans get behind investment in transit and passenger rail unless the price of oil goes up or supply appears to be vulnerable, or both. Either the pipeline is "successful" (as measured on its proponents' own terms of providing a stable, inexpensive supply of liquid fuels), in which case it merely delays the inevitable, or it is unsuccessful and therefore constitutes a needless environmental risk. In both cases, not worthwhile and worth opposing. Although I would agree this issue is more about the symbolism than the direct effects of building the pipeline or not.

Time and energy spent railing against McKibben would be more effectively targeted at the Koch brothers and others who wilfully obstruct progress towards your stated goals. This is just nitpicking. You should be glad he's getting people to talk about the important stuff at all for once instead of Jersey Shore. Of course I'm all ears if you have suggestions for other strategies that might be successful at getting people to look more at the bigger picture, but as Bob pointed out above, whistling Dixie is definitely not the answer, and McKibben is at least doing more good than harm IMHO. Also where you say he should be getting arrested on behalf of public transit instead of against an oil pipeline, I think it is really the same thing. What better reason to advocate for transit than to avoid the environmental impacts of consuming (depleting, ever lower grades of more expensive) oil?

Hear Hear.

We knew that Peak Oil was going to visit a world "hurt" on us.

This is the way it hurts: fewer oil-based jobs, much more expensive energy.

In other words, no more Keystones.

Keystone XL is a non-issue. The only thing that's going to slow down fossil fuels is seriously reduced demand.
~ Michael Dawson

Pick your battles. It is an issue insofar as it's perceived as one of many battles. You have yours, yes? I presume you are fighting it, or preparing to?

It is a war. An "oligarchic" war against our ecosystems and right to life. "Wake up!", as some say.

If there is a Deep Green Resistance, (etc.), underground faction, they'll just blow the XL pipeline up if it gets built. Some might hope.

Some other resistance (again) just blew up a pipeline going to Israel, complete with a message in Arabic drawn in the sand, We won't allow gas to be exported to Israel.

I'm saying that genuine struggle for a livable future would involve going to the White House and getting arrested on behalf of nation-wide public transportation, railroad restoration, urban reconstruction, and other forms of radical conservation.
~ M. Dawson

Well it's another form of battle I suppose, although I question its effectiveness... much of the infrastructure you mention seems to imply yet more centralization, tax-theft, wage-slavery and excuse for oligarchy.
As if job-creation is the be-all and end-all of existence. Well, sure-- for the oligarchy perhaps.

Apparently someone-- maybe Richard Heinberg or James Howard Kunstler-- mentioned something to the effect that cities or skyscrapers might be "mined" in the relatively-near future for their resources...
One could probably make a very nice passive solar house/system with those sweet sheets of corporate glass... They might have to sneek by or fight off some private security guards, but what the hell. ;)

...Why, I even hear that metals like copper are being "mysteriously-appropriated" these days.

Note to Ghung: Yes, I also did the Google Street View thing with Kunstler's new moves... I suspect he wanted us to. :)

...most social activists look constantly to the state for solutions to social problems. This point bears labouring, because the orientation of most social action groups tends to reinforce state power. This applies to most antiwar action too. Many of the goals and methods of peace movements have been oriented around action by the state, such as appealing to state elites and advocating neutralism and unilateralism. Indeed, peace movements spend a lot of effort debating which demand to make on the state: nuclear freeze, unilateral or multilateral disarmament, nuclear-free zones, or removal of military bases. By appealing to the state, activists indirectly strengthen the roots of many social problems, the problem of war in particular...

Many people's thinking is permeated by state perspectives. One manifestation of this is the unstated identification of states or governments with the people in a country which is embodied in the words 'we' or 'us.' 'We must negotiate sound disarmament treaties.' 'We must renounce first use of nuclear weapons.' Those who make such statements implicitly identify with the state or government in question. It is important to avoid this identification, and to carefully distinguish states from people..."
~ Brian Martin, 'Uprooting War'

I ran across this and thought it worthy of posting:


Poster child of failure....

Harbinger of things to come?

How many of Japan's lights would be dark if it suffered a major earthquake right off off Tokyo, to include a major tsunami, creating another nuclear disaster?

It is my understanding that civilian power nuclear reactors are not very 'throttelable'...I wonder if the smaller, yet very powerful, naval nuclear reactors are much more 'throttelable?

It would be nice to save on some fuel (NG, coal, Uranium, etc) by having fewer lights lit at night, particularly outside...

It would be nice to save on some fuel (NG, coal, Uranium, etc) by having fewer lights lit at night, particularly outside...

Yes, the US definitely has some room for improvement on that score..


But when you have electric utilities that make their profits by people using more electricity, not less, well, the result is inevitable...

I find that large, fairly solid wedge of light in Canada starting from across from MN to across from the WA/MT border and pointing towards AK fascinating. There seem to be more lights there than in much of the Dakotas and Montana.

I wonder what forms the distinct 'X' of light North of the NW tip of the 'Canada Light Wedge'?

It is rather interesting. The wedge of light defines the "fertile crescent" of the Canadian prairies, a.k.a. the "parkland belt", which contains the most fertile soil in Canada. It's mostly class 1 and 2 farmland and is far more productive land than is found in Montana and the western Dakotas, to the south of it.

The "X" appears to be in the "Peace River block" of northeastern BC and northwestern Alberta, an outlier of the Canadian prairies which is the most northerly major farming region of Canada. It's huge, and has approximately as much farmland as all of Ontario. I didn't think it was that heavily populated, but maybe all the farmers had their lights on that night.


Thank for very much for sharing your knowledge, I dig the Interwebs, and TOD...keeps the mind occupied and exercised!

I didn't realize there are that many folks in that area of Canada...

I spent about 30 minutes scrolling around a magnified view of the entire World-at-night pic...fun to pick out stuff like Johnston Island, Diego Garcia, the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Gila Wilderness (SW NM), and so much more...

You have to realize that the states to the south are Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming, which are the 44th, 46th, 48th, and 50th most populous states, respectively. They each have less than 1 million people. By contrast, Alberta has 3.8 million people, which is more than all four states combined.

The contrast when you drive from Montana into Alberta is quite striking. After driving through miles and miles of sagebrush and poor grassland with the odd cattle herd here and there, you hit the Alberta border, and *bang* there are farms and farmers everywhere. And that's just the start of it. As you drive north the population density grows and then *bang* you hit the City of Calgary, which has more people than any of the states of Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, or Wyoming.

You're basically driving through fertile farmland (with occasional stretches of forest) all the way from the US border to the start of the Alaska Highway, which is about 750 miles (1200 km) to the northwest. The numerous dots are mostly little prairie towns, which are nicely spaced for farmers to drive to with their loads of grain.

Must not be any Idahoans here on TOD, else they'd point out that there is no WA/MT border... :-)

Good call, I am all Idaho challenged!

It must be a nice place to live...I seldom here stories from there in the news...

I wonder what machinations got Idaho its 'chimney'?

It's certainly a nice place to vacation. I don't know about living there since the economy of northern Idaho is relatively stagnant and it gets an awful lot of snow in winter.

The Idaho Panhandle is the portion of Idaho Territory that remained in Idaho when Montana Territory was separated from Idaho Territory.

The portion that Montana got was part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. The portion that remained in Idaho got was part of the Oregon Treaty with Britain.

Idaho Territory had previously been carved out of Washington Territory, with a completely arbitrary boundary between the two, so when Montana Territory was carved out of Idaho Territory with its western boundary at the Bitteroot Range, the slice that remained in Idaho was rather narrow.

Geographically speaking, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but I guess they didn't know what else to do with it. It was what was left over after all the other states had been created.

I hear it's a great place to grow spaghetti.

"But when you have electric utilities that make their profits by people using more electricity, "

They also need to level their load, or at least the non-natural gas plants do. The lights are on while the rest of the load is down. Charging big batteries would be better, but that is not quite economic yet. Close though.

On a related note, the local utility really wants to see electric cars get popular. They often end up selling power at a loss during spring nights as they have to dump the water one way or another. And they can't put it all down the spillway as it over-aerates the water. Although last spring they didn't have a choice.

On a related note, the local utility really wants to see electric cars get popular. They often end up selling power at a loss during spring nights as they have to dump the water one way or another. And they can't put it all down the spillway as it over-aerates the water.

Indeed . . . electric utilities are salivating at the prospect of a lot of EVs since it will enable them to sell vasts amounts of excess power they have available overnight. They need to act on this desire by providing some incentive things like free home charger installations or special night-time EV tariff rates that will encourage people to charge up only at night. They could then tell people, "If you buy an EV, you'll be able to fill up at an effective rate of 40 cents per gallon" (or whatever the $/mile equivalent is).

Wonder how many EVs you could charge if you even turned off half of those lights? Millions?

Ah, damn-- for all to see! I just knew I had left something on when I took that trip... Look... see? Right there... my patio light.

"It is my understanding that civilian power nuclear reactors are not very 'throttelable'...I wonder if the smaller, yet very powerful, naval nuclear reactors are much more 'throttelable?"

Navy reactors are extremely throttleable, to use your term. And they can change their power level very quickly (No I can't tell you how quick.) I see no reason civilian power plants would not be throttleable. Last spring the reactor at Hanford ran for a prolonged time at about half it's official power rating due to a local glut of electricity.

How fast a civilian plant can change power is a good question. Some of them have to pump boron in or out of the coolant to control power levels, and that would not be a quick process. The control rods can shut the reactor down instantly, but that is a rather coarse control. I don't know enough about the fine points of boron control to say how long it takes to change power, or whether load following is practical.

If you look at the "six factor formula" two of the terms are neutron leakage out of the core. The civilian plants are so big not enough neutrons leak out of the core to provide an adequately negative temperature coefficient. This is purely a function of geometry, as in surface to volume ratio. So they add boron to the coolant so you can have internal "leakage" of neutrons without excessive numbers of control rods which would have to be in ever more complex geometries of their own as core size increased.


Anyone who operated a naval plant with one of those could (but probably won't, sorry) tell you all about "control rod programming". Suffice it to say it was very important.


Thanks for the great explanation, and the link...I enjoyed reading the brief blurbs on the listed USN reactors, past and present.

I especially am impressed by the design goal service life w/o refueling of ~ 40 years for the SSBN-X reactor.

I also found the one reactor's design to use natural circulation noteworthy.

It seems that the USN will remain a repository of core knowledge for nuclear reactor ops in case the U.S. ever builds a substantial number of new civilian nuke power plants (I realize at a certain level of detail the differences between the NRs and the civilian types)...

I always thought that putting the reactor operators in a barrel underwater with the reactor plant was a terrific motivational factor for the operators to do their best work.

...or whether load following is practical.

The power output from boiling-water reactors can be adjusted relatively easily. Pressurized-water reactors as done in the US are not easy to adjust, but France uses a somewhat different approach and many of their PWRs are operated in load-following mode. This contributes to the utilization figure for French reactors being lower than most countries with nukes.

France uses a somewhat different approach and many of their PWRs are operated in load-following mode. This contributes to the utilization figure for French reactors being lower than most countries with nukes.

Your last sentence highlights the economic case against load following nukes; capacity utilization needs to be high to amortize the capital cost of the plant. The levelized cost of power will be roughly inversely proportional to the load factor.

Joe Fromm over at Climate Progress finally got around to discussing the Arctic as a new source of atmospheric carbon, both from permafrost and from the sea. The sea section is toward the end, and seems to suggest that increases there are all from methanogenic bacteria on the surface of the sea.


Still nobody is touching the recent 2011 Independent story. Fromm notes it, but with no comment other than a summation by another covering his work till 2010.

It almost seems too scary to touch. If confirmed, it may indicate we've lost control, that pleas for constraint are pointless. There's not a sunny side like PO, where we can still ramp alt energy on the downslope.

It's too easy for me to envision the response of many in the future, that burning the earth up was natural variation anyway, inevitable, lets make the most of the ride.

And keep in mind that things are looking awfully grim, even without considering these new sources of ghgs--hear this latest from climatecodered:



Super Iron Battery

"BYD E6 can run up to 300 kilometers (200 miles) on one charge
"The super-iron battery will not cause any harm to the environment
"filled to 80 percent within 15 minutes.




The Lithium Iron Battery is one embodiment:


Edison's battery was nickle-iron.

"Thomas Edison had spent $3.5 million between 1903 and 1910 (equivalent to $71 million today) perfecting his nickel iron battery. He claimed it was half the weight of lead acid and had twice the energy density. Electric cars equipped with it were demonstrably superior to the competition, which were powered by what we today know as Exide batteries, then controlled by a group of cartels, which sought to monopolize all forms of automotive transportation from bicycles to automobiles, gasoline and electric."

Nickle-iron batteries are good for solar.

Lead-acid deep-cycle battery FAQs:

A friend of mine just got a job at a high-performance electric vehicle enterprise. They use iron batteries in their work. I had only been a little familiar with the Edison battery.

K D,

That article on BYD is from May last year! It includes this great line;

BYD will start selling the E6 in the United States in 2010 for around 40,000 U.S. dollars.

So how did that work out?

They have never let any third party confirm their claims of 300km range, etc.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof - and they haven't given any.

Yeah, BYD has kinda fallen on their face. You can build EVs with long range but they much too expensive to be practical. The Japanese have shown that practical EVs are possible with the $34.5K Leaf and the $29,625 Mitsubishi-i. Both of those prices are before the $7500 tax-credit that is available in the USA.

A 7500 dollar tax credit does not however equate with a 7500 dollar savings. It only reduces taxable income by that amount, so it might reduce it by 1200 or some such amount.

The opposite actually. A U.S. tax 'credit' is a dollar for dollar credit against the tax bill (so $7500 for the EV credit). A U.S. tax 'deduction' OTOH is a deduction from taxable income, and reduces the tax bill by the amount of tax which would have been owed on the deducted income which would be $1125 for those in the 15% tax bracket, if the credit were a deduction (but deductions are usually only applicable if one itemizes, which lets out the majority of folks in the 15% bracket).

+1 for reality.

A 7500 dollar tax credit does not however equate with a 7500 dollar savings. It only reduces taxable income by that amount, so it might reduce it by 1200 or some such amount.

Wrong. It is viewed as $7500 credit toward your taxes. So as long as you have a tax obligation greater than $7500, it is worth $7500 to you.

(You can say it is not worth a full $7500 since you have to pay the money when you buy your car and then only get to take the credit when you do you taxes the next year so you lost some time-value of money. But it is still worth close to $7500. )

Wrong backatcha. My niece bought a Prius and her tax bill was less than the credit. She got a tax refund for the full amount of the difference. If the tax liability is less than the CREDIT (not DEDUCTION), you get paid the difference. Note: Some credits are non-refundable. The credit cannot exceed the tax liability, but many RE credits are refundable. Some non-refundable credits can be applied over 2 tax years (difference carried over).

Some RE credits are capped as a percentage of the expenditure and have a max credit. (i.e. 35% of RE costs up to $1500). If you've witheld more than you owe, you get the credit added to your refund. I expect to see these programs eliminated soon as austerity takes hold.

I think you are misunderstanding what I meant about "tax obligation of $7500". She had a larger tax obligation . . . she just already paid for most of her tax obligation due to withdrawals from her paycheck. Her total tax bill isn't the check she writes on April 15th . . . it is that check plus all the money withdrawn from her paycheck. (The only way she could get a tax "refund" is she already paid taxes.)

After her other deductions and withholdings she still owed about $1800. After the credit (2008 Prius = $3150) was applied she received a refund of about $1300 (my wife does her returns). At the time the credit was deemed "refundable". This may have changed. The 2009 Prius wasn't eligible for a credit, IIRC.

Actually, you could be right about 2011 (Leaf, Volt), as the new code/software isn't finalized (my wife is a support rep for a major professional tax software firm - she has to know all of this stuff because many of her CPA clients don't).

"You can build EVs with long range but they much too expensive to be practical. "

I think that statement has become too much of a mantra.

'Long Range' is, of course relative to our overlong expectations, but I would say that the (100-120 mi/chg) RAV4 EV that I frequently point to has put up some practical evidence against this familiar claim, and surely newer models could be tweaked in any number of design features to get even better.

As with many coming changes, this one was not 'cheap' to buy, but seems to make up for that well in many operating costs.


"Silver 2002. Purchased new. Lots of reflective informational stickers on the back. Powered from our roof-top 4.5kW solar PV system. We regularly see 150 miles of range."

My point is that we can build 300 mile range EVs . . . but they'll cost you over $100K. It is more practical to build ~100 mile range EVs and then use a gas/hybrid car when you need to drive a long distance.

I'm a fan of EVs but I'm pragmatic and skeptical . . . I would not trust claims from an enthusiastic evangelist (A self proclaimed "EV nut"!) that an old RAV4 gets anywhere near 150 miles. 60 miles is probably more likely for a 10 year old NiMH RAV4. I think such claims are detrimental to the progression of EVs since they will get debunked and leave EVs looking worse than they really are. Honesty is the best policy.

There are enough people on that site that are detailing the tests they've done, getting this sort of range that I'm not inclined to accuse them of lying about it.

Sure, people make all sorts of things up, but these folks are putting their Names and Hometowns on these claims.. doesn't seem likely to me that they are making it up. I'm actually wondering why you arrive at the numbers you do, '60 miles' being more likely.. do you have something to base that on? Calling them 'Evangelists and probably Liars' would demand some sort of backing as well, no?

I might be an 'evangelist' for the Oil Drum, but I don't think that makes it likely that I would start to lie about having found something that I think is really good, and that (with my name attached and my kids in the pix) I'm really excited about and hope I can share publically with others, as I do.

Here's some more sketchy, anecdotal testimony..
"Have not had it in for service in 2 years / 30K miles. Seems to be doing fine. internal battery resistance obviously climbing over time. My 75 mile round trip commute still works, with 20% remaining when I get home!"

Sure, they could be making that up.. we've all got to rely on our own BS detectors, but mine doesn't go off with these sorts of comments, and I'm no fan of people pushing the agendas I agree with if I think they're abusing it, so I don't buy that this is my own 'confirmation bias' .. I really don't.

300 mile range EVs . . . but they'll cost you over $100K.

I think thats a bit of an exaggeration (but the gist of your argument is entirely correct). You could triple the Leaf battery to obtain nominal 300mile range, and the cost would be more like $50K to $60K. Still serious sticker shock, but far from $100K.

I suspect EV evangelists, probably hypermile. And their range experience while honestly reported, wouldn't be typical of what energy-naive members of the public would get.

My friend's first comments were about the higher energy density of the batteries he is to be working with. I'm not even sure yet of the exact chemistry. I don't think these batteries are in any way proprietary.

Solar cell could be cheaper than fossil fuel

By harvesting waste heat, researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have for the first time built a solar cell with an external quantum efficiency over 100 percent.

A cell's external quantum efficiency is the number of electrons flowing per second in its external circuit, divided by the number of photons per second entering it, and is different at different wavelengths.

The best result for the NREL solar cell was 114 percent. it means, says the team, that solar energy has a competitive future, making it possibly cheaper than energy from fossil or nuclear fuels.

The team used a process called Multiple Exciton Generation (MEG), whereby a single absorbed photon of appropriately high energy can produce more than one electron-hole pair per absorbed photon.


In case you're bored the video shows the type of ops the Rockman supervises when he's out on a well. But more important: the link provides a lot of very easily understood explanations of many oil patch operations. Be handy to save for future tech questions.

Mucho thanks x.

Thanks to x for posting and to ROCK for encouraging a look.

I learned more about well logging in 5 minutes than I thought I would ever know. The Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources has several other videos that are equally informative for outsiders.

Now you're encouraging me. As you may have noticed, lately I'm into vlogging.

It turns out that You Tube has a wealth of energy related stuff.
Seldom do I see any of it on TOD. Google owns You Tube, but if you don't go to You Tube and do a search some good stuff gets missed.

It seems to me that visual posts and comments are the next step in the evolution of the internet. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words still holds. So moving pictures must be worth a million words IMO.

It seems to me that TV and radio are zombies which should be put out of their misery. I don't listen to either because the content is so poor.

I like finding my own content and making up a story if I can.

Lately, I've been reviewing dozens of energy related videos and saving those that might fit in.

The big fight going on right now is over the XL pipeline. Here is a long video which shows how people, fish and other animals subsidize Alberta tar sands production:


Now MSNBC has picked up the great news. It's really true that if you don't want to see something, you won't. Not even when it hits you upside the head with a 2x4.


"In role reversal, US on track to be an oil exporter"

It's just a nerf 2 x 4.

With high hopes for a raging bull market, a key factor will be the rise in US manufacturing and a reduction of oil imports to only 2 mbd. Fasten seat belts!


.. far too reminiscent of the 'It's under control, Stay at your desks' message that helped prick up the ears of my friend in Tower 2 and got her and her fine instincts right to the stairwell.

Time to back away from these old, retreaded arguments with a gentle smile, and quietly work our way over towards the exit..

"Your logic was impeccable Captain. We are in Grave Danger.." Mr. Spock

Cue the music, start the narrative: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." in blue, followed by the Star Wars logo over a field of stars.

In the current local galaxy that most of us are forced to live in, the mainstream media are dreaming in Technicolor. Keep your light saber handy in case you are forced to fend off alien people trying to steal your gasoline. If they get it because they are willing to pay the oil companies more money for it, well, I guess you're screwed.

When I suggested 'heading for the exit', it should have been clear that I was advocating doing what's necessary so we don't NEED that gas (or nearly as much of it, anyhow), nor hopefully, at that rate, the Lightsaber.

Don't let the Snazzy Soundtrack and Cheezy FX lead you to think Star Trek or Star Wars were about anything other than us, here and now.

ART is the lie that enables us to see the truth. ~Picasso

Live Long and Prosper! ~ Roddenberry

The exit is closed. You have to stay with the ship as she goes down. Either that or find enough fuel to power your your life boat.

Yeah, infuriating isn't it. Is this a case of false information being propagated due to ignorance, laziness,and mimicry, or a conscious effort to discredit peak oilers and create the illusion of energy independence. Considering how other statistics are manipulated (unemployment, GDP/CPI, inflation), I tend to think the latter. Of course, that would indicate an ongoing conspiracy :-/ Another attempt to stimulate consumption and investment ...

From the article:

In the first three quarters of 2011, we exported more oil than we imported.

To all, lurkers, visitors to this site, etc.: This is not true! Not even close! It is an easily proven false statement!

Warning: Propagating this lie will qualify you for ASOOLI (the American Society of Obfuscators, Liars, and Ignoramuses).

Interesting how this seems to coincide with our withdrawal from Iraq. We don't need their stinkin' oil anyway...

"Yeah, infuriating isn't it. Is this a case of false information being propagated ..."

Make the lie big enough, and repeat it often enough... the echo chamber we call the media at its finest.

I especially like the in-depth research by the "MSNBC Staff":

MSNBC Reference - "a report in USA Today Monday... An energy expert cited by USA Today..."

No wonder no one at MSNBC wanted to take credit for this garbage.

An 'energy expert' with a familiar name.


Considering how other statistics are manipulated (unemployment, GDP/CPI, inflation), ...

Economy: Data on existing home sales for November will be released on Wednesday morning. The National Association of Realtors said last week that it would revise down some of its sales numbers going back to 2007, because of flawed data analysis.

... oh yeah, housing data....."flawed data analysis"??

This is insane. This is also, very carefully, what the commoners are to be told.
Fracking is praised for producing this imaginary result.
This is MSNBC's echo of the USA Today story.

Peak nation-state.

I've been beating this drum for a long time, but this is a Canadian government position statement direct from the Prime Minister's lips - the PM's Christmas interview - so I'll give the drum another thump.

Harper warns Americans he will ship oil elsewhere

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has warned American officials that his government is "serious" about selling Canadian oil to Asian markets, after a U.S. political fight put the Keystone XL pipeline project on hold.

When asked how serious Ottawa is about selling oil to China, and run the risk of compromising Canada's relationship with the United States, Harper replied: "I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent, selling our energy products off to China."

But the prime minster also said that on a recent trip to the U.S., he was told by a number of senior officials that the Keystone XL pipeline will be approved, thereby opening a new route for Canadian oil to be sent to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"I ran into several senior Americans, who all said, ‘Don't worry, we'll get Keystone done. You can sell all of your oil to us.' I said, ‘Yeah we'd love to but the problem is now we're on a different track.'"

The pipeline has been delayed as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks more environmental assessments before deciding whether to give the project the green light. He has put off making a decision until after next year's elections.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you're lucky, maybe Obama will leave a lump of coal in your stocking to keep you warm when the OPEC oil runs out.

But it was a very good year to be a Mid-Continent refiner.

Yeah, they did make a ton of money refining stranded oil they bought in the Mid-Continent at low cost due to the lack of a pipeline to the Gulf Coast, and selling refined diesel fuel and gasoline at high prices in the European and Asian markets.

It didn't do the consumers much good, though, because the diesel and gasoline just flowed right past them on the way to export.

The bizarre thing is that the oil-producing states/provinces who produce the cheap oil have been suffering a shortage of diesel because the oil companies have been exporting so much of it to other countries.

The pressure for the XL pipeline is from Canadian oil producers, pipeline companies and Gulf oil refiners. The Canadian oil companies want to capture the world market price of crude. The pipeline companies want the transport revenue. The refiners want to capture the gain on refined petroleum products exported to the world market with its generally higher prices.

The problem is none bear the full cost of production. The profits are again being privatized while some of the costs are socialized to Canadian locals in Alberta and Americans near the pipeline.

If tar sands development continues as projected, those socialized costs are likely to increase in proportion to the profits of Alberta oil companies, pipeline companies and American refiners.

It should not come as a surprise that those bearing the socialized costs directly might fight the XL pipeline which is the missing link enabling the plan.

If Canada did find an alternative route for Alberta production, the oil would still show up on the world market and be available for Gulf oil refiners.

The revenue/profit loss would be to the pipeline company. The American Midwest would still enjoy the oil surplus it has from current pipelines.

Stopping XL will slow down tar sands development until another outlet to world markets is created. A lot of people think that is a good thing:


Isn't this a bit of a false flag being put up by the Canadian PM, namely that the intent of the XL is to help US consumers by allowing more oil to be sent to the US? The point of XL is for oil to reach the Gulf Coast and from there either sell the oil or refined petroleum products on the world market. So whatever the route, the goal is to get the tar sands oil a larger market and make Canada more money, just a question of if it will be the Atlantic or Pacific.

My opinion is stopping the XL is good for the US for multiple reasons. Keeps impetus for expansion of tar sands down in the short term, keeps prices low for mid-continent, pushes pipeline development to the West and within Canada (where we'll see if Canadian opposition can resist it), and even if it does reach the Pacific, then California has a replacement for declining supplies from Alaska. Obviously, then China will get some as well, but it might ease potential sources of conflict elsewhere (e.g., Middle East). No down side for the US other than fewer temporary jobs, which would only be a drop in the bucket anyway.

The Canadian PM is looking at it from the Canadian perspective, which is to say that lack of access to markets is costing Canadian companies and Canadian governments a lot of money is his primary concern.

Helping US consumers is very much a secondary consideration for the Canadian government. If they can't get a pipeline built across the United States, they can get one built to the west coast of Canada, and in that case most of the oil will go to Asia.

Most likely any opposition to a pipeline across Canada will receive the "nail that sticks up gets hammered down" treatment. There are a lot of precedents for that from the days when the transcontinental railways were built.

The downside for the US is that it may not get any more cheap oil. California is particularly at risk since supplies from Alaska will come to an end in roughly a decade, and the type of high quality oil that they appear to intend to restrict their consumption to will be a very rare and highly expensive commodity in the not-too-distant future. This will be reflected in the cost of their gasoline.

The Canadian PM is looking at it from the Canadian perspective, which is to say that lack of access to markets is costing Canadian companies and Canadian governments a lot of money is his primary concern.

Exactly my point, the XL benefits Canada more than the US (if it benefits the US at all).

Most likely any opposition to a pipeline across Canada will receive the "nail that sticks up gets hammered down" treatment. There are a lot of precedents for that from the days when the transcontinental railways were built.

Well, this general sentiment is what a lot of the unrest around the world is about: 1% vs. 99% and all that. I'd rather see this battle played out in Canada, though. The US already has enough on the culture war front and we don't need another log on the fire.

The downside for the US is that it may not get any more cheap oil.

My main point is that the status quo gets (parts of) the US the cheapest oil on the planet (other than NOC produced oil). Completeion of the XL does not make the oil any cheaper, since it allows the oil to reach and be sold in the world market, which is the same as if a Pacific pipeline is built. So tell me again why the US should support this?

Given that we are engaged in the "poker game" known as reality,and that we must play the cards in our hand, we should build the pipeline for some VERY OBVIOUS reasons.

First of all, there is no such critter as "the end of history". It is not obvious to the kumbaya faction, but this old world is still an armed camp and only an idiot or a person unacquainted with geopolitical reality could ever bring himself to believe that war between major powers is a thing of the past.

(Pardon me but I feel very strongly about the future security of all my little nieces and nephews and cousins, although I won't be here too much longer personally.)

The whole course of history suggests that we will be in hot resource wars soon enough, given the dire forecasts of the scientific community in respect to climate change, ff, water, and other mineral depletion, overpopulation, etc.

I assume since you are a member of this forum you are familiar with these things.

Oil will not always be sold in a free market-such oil as the Chines are able to buy up will go directly to China when the free market vanishes.Oil exporting countries will have established tight economic and even military ties(Have you ever wondered why the House of Saud is still in power?Do you suppose it just might have SOMETHING to do with American military muscle and geopolitical strategy?)with their customers.

Any country that has a modern navy , or just about any navy or air force at all, for that matter, could shut down the blue water shipment of oil in a heartbeat if chooses to do so.It would take only a handful of submarines to put every oil tanker afloat either on the bottom or lead the owners to tie up port for the duration.

Good political sense demands that we recognize these things.

All the arguments to the contrary are basically frivolous when viewed in the harsh glare of reality.

One, the oil is going to be burnt, regardless of whether the pipeline is built.

Two, the most ecologically sound environmental policies extant are practiced here in the US and in Western Europe.Our frivolous waste of gasoline is a black mark against us of course, but rising prices and rationing will take care of that soon enough;and without that gasoline, our economy would collapse more or less immediately.It will take quite some time to wean ourselves of the driving habit, considering our built infrastructure.

Three, a new pipeline can reasonably be expected to be properly built and safely operated;the technology is mature, and the work conditions are not extreme, as in very deep water or in the Arctic.

Four, we should maintain the closest possible ties with our northern neighbor.

Five, building the pipeline will indicate to the world that we are at least a tiny bit rational about assuring our oil supplies;the present method of doing so consists of maintaining the most powerful and expensive military force ever deployed in history halfway around the world at incredible cost in blood, treasure, and goodwill.

Six-but it occurs to me that I am wasting my time, as you and most others here obviously discount such arguments as being erroneous or irrelevant.

I will however post this comment anyway, as there might be a few people who will see it who have not yet made up their minds on this issue.

We don't have the option of calling for a redeal in the poker game of reality; our ONLY option is play the cards in our hand.

Agonizing over past mistakes such as our mismanagement of energy issues is useful in terms of preventing more mistakes in the future, but otherwise such soul searching is basically a waste of time; furthermore, it can potentially distract us to such an extent that our very (Yankee) existence is threatened.

I will get in a quick little partisan jab, or friendly warning depending on one's pov,before I hit save.If Obama wants to get reelected, he better give some serious consideration to the common man's opinion of this matter.The number of VOTERS who want it built will likely outnumber the ones who don't by a VERY substantial margin once the opposition rolls out the attack ads in respect to the pipeline.Only a few preliminary ranging shots have been fired thus far.

I presume you have heard of Reagen Democrats. ;-)

For Canada it is about the price they can get tar-sands oil, as well as how rapidly they can ramp up production. The calculus regarding US consumers would be different.

Oil industry lobbyists punked by enviro activist (AUDIO)



Just got an interesting inventation to attend a presentation in Houston on Arctic development presented by this fellow: "Jonas Gahr Støre is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Norway. He has been a leading advocate for responsible development of Arctic resources and increased international cooperation. Minister Gahr Støre was instrumental in securing the 2010 maritime border agreement between Russia and Norway. This historic treaty defined their Arctic boundaries and ended the 40 year-long dispute that had affected commercial fishing and energy interests."

Think I'll stick with S. La.: gets cold enough there in the winter for me.

Anyone have any idea how big the Russian jackup that sank last Sunday was? Say compared to other Gulf platforms?

Exploration and drilling of the Arctic seems the big push. I just saw a bunch of specs for reinforced concrete on a platform in a powerpoint that were designed to withstand sea ice. Interesting, they pumped seawater to freeze and create a huge ice barrier on 3 sides.

Exploration and drilling of the Arctic seems the big push. I just saw a bunch of specs for reinforced concrete on a platform in a powerpoint that were designed to withstand sea ice. Interesting, they pumped seawater to freeze and create a huge ice barrier on 3 sides.

That technique has been in use for at least 25 years, if not longer. Somewhere in my files I have a photo I took from the open door of a helicopter of the ice berm that was built around the CIDS ("Concrete Island Drilling Structure") back in the winter of 1985, in the Alaskan Beaufort.

CIDS is essentially a large concrete caisson structure with a drill rig and associated living quarters on top. It was floated into location during the open water season, then the caisson was flooded till it rested on the bottom. CIDS could be used up to about 50 ft water depth. Once in place, water was sprayed on the upstream side (relative to ice drift). Given enough water sprayed (at sub zero temps), it eventually built a high, solid berm of ice resting on the sea floor. CIDS was designed to be heavy and strong enough to resist the ice flow by its mass. The ice berm was essentially extra insurance. Last I heard, CIDS was in use over in Sakalin.

The other thing I remember about that trip was spending a couple of extra unplanned days on the CIDS. When it dropped below about -40 F they stopped all routine helicopter ops, since it was very hard on the equipment (they would still fly in emergencies however). After a couple of days it warmed up to -35 F or so and they started flying personnel again. The pilot was nice enough to let us slide open the door on the Huey to snap a couple of quick pics as we flew over the rig. The photos were "quick" for obvious reasons. One of these days I will dig out those pictures and post them on TOD.

A link to the new home of CIDS.

That description sure matches the photo in the presentation. Didn't realize that the surrounding mountain of ice berm reached the sea floor. The concrete design had an outward shell shape to resist inward pressure of ice, a row of shells facing outward, rather than a flat wall. The design called for #4 bar so tightly spaced that a "canary couldn't fly through." Almost a misnomer to call it a concrete structure.

The linked article seems to indicate it didn't have anything to do with sea ice, but rather it happened during a storm while they were towing it to a new location. Very sad about the crew.

EDIT: Ooops....I mean this link

It's too early to tell what happened. Either a major failure on the crew's part, or they were doomed by the management several thousand miles away.

Thanks for the rigzone link.

More coming to light.

"Relatives of the crew have insisted they were forced to move the platform against their better judgment. The Kolskaya's captain, Alexander Kozlov, opposed the decision but his objections were ignored, according to his wife, Lyudmila. She was quoted by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying he had called home last week and said he feared the rig would topple in a storm."

"The platform — 70 meters (226 feet) long and 80 meters (262 feet) wide — was built in Finland in 1985. It was used recently by the Russian energy giant Gazprom."


From the wayback machine

CIA Directorate of Intelligence [Secret] The Chernobyl' Accident: Social and Political Implications (pdf)

Soviet citizens-in contrast to their counterparts in the West-have not mounted a successful campaign against the development of nuclear power, but antinuclear sentiment is growing in the aftermath of the Chernobyl' accident. Some members of the elite with policy influence have much less confidence in the safety of the Soviet nuclear system. Even ordinary citizens apparently worry that the regime's determination to rely more heavily on nuclear power will increase pressure on the nuclear sector to place growth above safety. They are reluctant to trust official assurances that safety alterations have been made and that existing safety rules will be enforced.

... Regime claims that radiation fallout from Chernobyl' will not add significantly to the normal incidence of cancer have not silenced rumors and anxiety about health issues. These concerns are probably greatest among the 135,000 evacuees and more than 20,000 recovery workers mainly military reservists-nearly all of whom are non-Russian. We have evidence of considerable fear of contaminated food and water that is likely to continue.

… The medical costs of monitoring and treating as many as 500,000 people-an official Soviet figure-for radiation effects will burden the health care system. A team of Soviet physicians visiting the United States in October 1987 told an audience of American physicians that the medical cost of treating the Chernobyl' victims and screening the population has reached $16 billion dollars.

... The widely held belief that many Baltic conscripts were sent to Chernobyl' against their will is bolstered by persistent-though contradictory-rumors of soldiers being shot by the Soviets for refusing to do decontamination work.

Pg 26 Incidents [Accidents] in Soviet Nuclear Power Plants

... Western analysts agree that the RBMK reactors nearly half of the Soviet nuclear power capacity have fundamental deficiencies that no reasonable modification can eliminate and pose a continued safety hazard, remaining vulnerable to severe accidents

From CIA Directorate of Intelligence [Top Secret] Implications of the Chernobyl Disaster (pdf)

If we target appropriately, we ought to get some insight into the effectiveness of the Soviet civil defense organization in the nearest thing to its "design task" short of nuclear war itself.

Occupy the NRC

... Touting “good jobs” and “clean safe energy” the con artists posing as regulators from the NRC bury reports, cover-up evidence, and spread outright lies about an industry of profiteers that puts production ahead of health, safety and the environment time and time again.

In his report entitled “Regulatory Meltdown” released on the 9th of December, (http://markey.house.gov/docs/regulatory_meltdown_12.09.11.pdf) Representative Edward Markey of Masachusetts details a conspiracy within the NRC to weaken US nuclear safety in the wake of Fukushima.

Congressmen Dennis Kucinich has been leading the charge on the grave situation at Davis Besse as can be seen here, while our other elected officials have been silent. Together with Dennis we of Occupy Toledo have been outraged that the NRC would continue to put industry profits ahead of the health and safety of all of us and the entire Great Lakes Ecosystem after being called out on this practice time and time again.

Congressman Kucinich's office has prepared a comparison of FirstEnergy statements with known facts, and calls on readers to decide for themselves how bad the situation is

There was scoffing when last posted, so here's more on the same topic.

An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.

Suburban Survival - post social/cultural collapse

I get this question often so I answer it here.

“I would like to be part of a community or family larger than 2 or 3, but my extended family is worthless. My husband’s family is 1000 miles away, and don’t get the advantages of family either. My hope is to stick to our suburban home with a few good neighbors on our block. Is that a fantasy?”

Hello and welcome, fantasy is way too strong word, lot of the things can be turned from fantasy to the real things very easy.

I think it is the worst scenario, to be in the suburban when sh!t hit the fan. Worse than even city, and for sure worse than rural...

There are too many ways for a "collapse" or a "decline" to occur to support generalities. There are cultural factors and all sorts of things that will influence specific conditions in specific areas. Selco, who writes the SHTF School blog has lots of interesting and valid points to make, but his experience relates to a particularly bad location in a particularly vicious war. One shouldn't necessarily assume that Peak Oil will produce a total war type scenario; certainly not in all locations in space and time.
Farfel, who experienced and writes about the financial collapse in Argentina, for example, is emphatic that the cities are absolutely the very worst place to be.

The best approach it seems to me is to try to create the most flexible response package in terms of one's housing, employment, deployment of financial assets and especially psychological expectations, etc. Be as prepared as you can be for the worst, while hoping for the best. And don't assume that everyday will be a gunfight. I happen to be a "gun guy". I know guns and what I can do with them and you can take it from me that if the future means that everyday is another gunfight, then there is NO future.

"There are too many ways for a "collapse" or a "decline" to occur to support generalities."


I put the "cultural/social collapse" in the title to try to clarify that the link dealt with the Seneca Cliff-type of collapse.

We briefly discussed the differences between Selco and Ferfal the other day on TOD: Balkan rapid "seneca cliff" collapse to the bottom (social/cultural collapse), vs Argentine one-step down financial collapse.

I'm using Orlov's outline: The Five Stages Of Collapse which he recently updated and amended:

...(after) almost four lost years of both government and finance betting on a future that cannot exist, doubling down every time they lose again, have dashed those hopes...

The effect, I think, will be to compress financial and political collapse into a single chaotic episode.

Commercial collapse will not be far behind, because global commerce is dependent on global finance, and once international credit locks up the tankers and the container ships won't sail.

Shortly thereafter it will be lights out...

I know guns and what I can do with them and you can take it from me that if the future means that everyday is another gunfight, then there is NO future.

Hey, you do win every second round, don't you?

./ sarc

OBTW. If you want to know what the government is paying for fuel, see here: http://www.desc.dla.mil/DCM/DCMPage.asp?LinkID=DESCCutomerService

JASON on Severe Space Weather and the Electric Grid

The U.S. electric power grid is vulnerable to damage from severe electromagnetic solar storms and remedial measures should be taken to reduce that vulnerability, a new study (large pdf) from the JASON scientific advisory panel concluded.

On the other hand, the JASONs said, catastrophic worst-case scenarios advanced by some are not plausible, and they should not serve as a basis for policy making.

Public disclosure of the new JASON study was blocked by the Department of Homeland Security, which sponsored the analysis.

... the panel declined to endorse a worst-case scenario proposed in 2010 by J. Kappenman (large pdf), who envisioned “the possibility of catastrophic damage to the U.S. electric grid, leaving millions without power for months to years

That study answered many questions that I had.

I am no longer worried about another Carrington event taking out the grid for more than a few hours. Ice core research showed that to be a rare event anyhow.

From the "study" pdf.

I am no longer worried about another Carrington event taking out the grid for more than a few hours.

And designers decided to not worry about an Earthquake and Tsunami hitting a nuke plant.

Not because such things don't happen, but because they felt it would not happen in their lifetime.

I've been informed that Carringtons may occour once in a 500 year span. That graph below does not contradict that. Sure the chance/risk it happen in my life time is low, but not zero.

I view this much as I viewed the Y2K problem. General public needlessly worried about something, while unseen, the engineers/technicians are solving the problem.

For those who haven't read the study, blocking capacitors, digital relays replacing analog relays and other equipment is being installed. Not only to protect the million $ transformers from destruction but also reduce the outage time to minutes.

Most of what the study recommends to be done is beyond the control of the power companies, like more satellites to increase the warning time from 10 minutes to 5 hours. And changes to laws to facilitate testing between companies of equipment that has been installed.

Process: Turning Russian Missiles Into U.S. Nuke Fuel (w/Video)

The end of the Cold War created a problem: what to do with the USSR’s nuke stockpile. The solution: a 1993 agreement to convert 500 metric tons of Soviet weapons-grade uranium into fuel for American nuclear plants. Russia got paid, the US got power, and scientists who might otherwise have gone rogue got jobs. Former warheads now fuel about 10 percent of the electricity the US consumes. When the program finishes in 2013, the equivalent of 20,000 Soviet missiles will have been repurposed to light the same US homes they were built to annihilate. Here’s how it’s being done. ...

Journals mull publishing killer flu virus details

The journals Science and Nature said Tuesday they were mulling whether to publish details of a man-made mutant killer flu virus that has sparked concerns of mass deaths if it were released.

A US government's science advisory committee urged that key details be withheld so that people seeking to do harm to the public would not be able to replicate the virus which could cause millions of deaths

related Hong Kong raises bird flu alert level, bans imports

This is a doozey of a moral pickle. After reading the article, I can't agree with the NIH's request. It seems the greatest good would be if the information for what markers to look for was distributed widely. If that were the case, access to the requisite knowledge to prevent an outbreak would be as widely disseminated as access to the knowledge required to create a virulent strain of H5N1. That situation would tend to neutralize the ability of a "bio-terrorist" to do significant damage with the virus.

The NIH solution inserts a middle-man into the process and as a consequence creates a situation where less researchers will be looking for solutions, slowing the "time to live" of potential mitigatory research and perhaps limiting the positive benefits of that research as a consequence of viral mutation or what have you.

I just can't see any real benefit to restricting access to the research. The knee-jerk first reaction in me thinks its entirely justified in order to prevent the "bad-guys" from creating viral weapons. But if the knowledge to protect populations from those viral weapons is all over the place, what real harm can a bad-guy do?

That's my thought process. Anyone disagree?

In this case, I think, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies - especially with any kind of flu vaccine. I don't think I would have much confidence in "neutralizing" this kind of bio-weapon. My guess is the CDC would vote for "STFU."

I don't think I would want the exact sequence of the genes made public.

It is bad enough knowing the simplicity of the method to produce this strain.

I don't think it is preventative in this case. What is being detailed is security by obscurity and any network admin worth his salt will tell you that's not secure at all. If its already known that a researcher can make a virulent strain of H5N1 through fairly simple/standard methods what is to keep a criminal organization from endeavoring to create its own virus right now? And if that organization finds that it was successful in its attempt, what research will be available to create a vaccine, or offer effective counter-measures, if we hide the important parts of the research now?

Additionally, from the reports I've heard so far it sounds like all they did was focus the natural process a bit.

There is no way to prevent their experiment recurring in the wild (literally).

Research states that prejudice comes from a basic human need and way of thinking

... People who are prejudiced feel a much stronger need to make quick and firm judgments and decisions in order to reduce ambiguity. “Of course, everyone has to make decisions, but some people really hate uncertainty and therefore quickly rely on the most obvious information, often the first information they come across, to reduce it” Roets says.

That’s also why they favor authorities and social norms which make it easier to make decisions. Then, once they’ve made up their mind, they stick to it. “If you provide information that contradicts their decision, they just ignore it.”

You can't cure stupid. ... Ignorance can be cured with knowledge ... stupidity is being given the knowledge, and denying it .

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that one of the often reported benefits of meditation is "becoming more comfortable with uncertainty".

Glacial tap is open but the water will run dry

“Where scientists once believed that they had 10 to 20 years to adapt to reduced runoff, that time is now up,” said Baraer. “For almost all the [Peruvian] watersheds we have studied, we have good evidence that we have passed peak water.

This means that the millions of people in the region who depend on the water for electricity, agriculture and drinking water could soon face serious problems because of reduced water supplies.

Bad news for Peru

In Hot Water: Ice Age Findings Forecast Problems

The first comprehensive study of changes in the oxygenation of oceans at the end of the last Ice Age (between about 10 to 20,000 years ago) has implications for the future of our oceans under global warming.

The study, which was co-authored by Eric Galbraith, of McGill's Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, looked at marine sediment and found that that the dissolved oxygen concentrations in large parts of the oceans changed dramatically during the relatively slow natural climate changes at the end of the last Ice Age.

This was at a time when the temperature of surface water around the globe increased by approximately 2 °C over a period of 10,000 years. A similar rise in temperature will result from human emissions of heat-trapping gases within the next 100 years, if emissions are not curbed, giving cause for concern.

Well see, I wouldn't worry none about that CO2 stuff, cause ya see we needs to be burning whatever weez can get our grubby fingers on as fast as possible to power tons and tons of stuff to go no where super fast with the music kinda loud like. Pass me one of those pork rinds boy!

"cause for concern"???

the author seems to be a graduate of some exclusive, secretive, ivy-covered, probably British University of Understatement...

cause for curling into a fetal ball of dread, seems more like it from where I sit (or cower).

Air pollution levels from Deepwater Horizon spill similar to large urban area

... About eight percent, or about one of every 13 barrels of the Deepwater Horizon-spilled oil that reached the ocean surface, eventually made its way into airborne organic particles small enough to be inhaled into human lungs, and some of those particles likely reached the Gulf coast when the winds were blowing toward the shore, according to the study.

China orders nationwide emission cuts by 2015

China on Tuesday ordered local governments to reduce emissions of "major pollutants" by as much as 10 percent by 2015, amid growing public anxiety over the country's bad air.

... China also vowed to "significantly" improve safety measures for nuclear energy production and speed up the elimination of "old automobiles and motorcycles" registered before 2005.

Power projects facing significant fuel risks: Fitch Ratings

Rising Cost of Generation: With the sector heading for a sizable coal shortage and the proposed coal rationing in India, many generators will be compelled to source costlier imported coal. Fitch Ratings estimates this would increase the cost of generation to at least INR4.41/kilowatt/hour - assuming use of 100% imported coal - from the current average of around INR2.29/kWh. Due to the increasing cost of imported coal, which has doubled to about USD120/tonne currently (over FY09 prices), the variable cost of power generation has surged.

With mounting accumulated losses and increasing debt levels, the counterparty credit profiles of several utilities has significantly weakened, particularly given reluctance to raise tariffs to reflect the enhanced cost of power generation. Although India faces chronic power shortages, the weak financial position of the utilities places a limitation on their ability to purchase expensive power, thus magnifying off-take risk for projects.

Full report: http://www.moneycontrol.com/mccode/news/article/article_pdf.php?autono=6...

Map pinpoints Sahel's climate 'hotspots'

... Half of the 17 West African nations mapped experienced a temperature increase of 0.5–1 degree Celsius between 1970 and 2006, while 15 per cent of the region — in far eastern Chad and northern Mali and Mauritania — saw a rise of more than one degree Celsius

In addition to rising temperatures, the study also found that at the incidence of extreme conditions, such as droughts, rainfall and the frequency of flooding, have all increased, leading to more competition for limited resources.

UNEP's executive director, Achim Steiner, said: "This analysis underlines how competition between communities for scarce resources, especially land, water and forests, is already a reality in West Africa".

Full Report: http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_Sahel_EN.pdf

How Kim Jong Il Starved North Korea

... Farmers were expected to overcome mother nature and grow enough crops to feed the entire population. To do it, they relied on heaps of chemical fertilizer. But that crutch was yanked away in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The demise of the USSR threw North Korea's entire economy into chaos, and agriculture was among its most important casualties. Without imports of cheap fuel (self-sufficiency had its limits), the country's industrial base fractured, and production of fertilizer dwindled. Farm yields plummeted, and the government started a campaign urging citizens to consume less. Its cheery slogan: "Let's eat only two meals a day."

This lesson will be taught again when PO starts to bite

"... the country's industrial base fractured, and production of fertilizer dwindled..."

It sounds like that lesson is being taught again in Pakistan (your link above).

Interesting that Cuba followed a very different path when the USSR collapsed and cut off the fossil fertiliser pipeline. They went through a hungry time, but no one starved and their ag system was radically reformed -- away from vast monocrop plantations and towards more sustainable practise, smaller plots, crop diversity, and more local control...

Many hazards from natural gas gathering lines remain, despite new pipeline safety law

... As noted in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, gathering lines in a defined rural area* are completely unregulated; there are no rules for pipe thickness or strength, welding, burial depth, or inspections. Gathering lines in other areas are subject to regulations, but they are much weaker than those for transmission lines. This may be because, historically, gathering lines were smaller and thought to be less risky. But many gathering lines today are as big as, or bigger than, many transmission lines and may operate at the same extremely high pressures. New gathering lines can be more than 24 inches in diameter and operate at pressures upwards of 1400 pounds per square inch.

This is bad news when it comes to the safety of gathering lines. Compounding the problem, it gives companies an incentive to classify pipelines as gathering lines even when they travel long distances at high pressure. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has allowed this to happen by failing to create strong regulations. Instead, the agency refers companies to a manual on classification produced by an industry group. Not surprisingly, the industry manual allows pipeline operators to interpret the rules such that many of their lines remain unregulated.

An in-depth follow-on to the Kazakhstan massacre ...

The Massacre Everyone Ignored: Up To 70 Striking Oil Workers Killed In Kazakhstan By US-Supported Dictator

... The oil majors’ fondness for Kazakhstan’s highly profitable oil may also explain photographs like this, showing Kazakh “SpetzNaz” or special forces troops sent in to crush protests–wearing helmets and brandishing shields that read, in English, “Police” [majority language is Russian]

Kazakhstan is represented by the lobbying firm founded by Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, which today goes by the name “BGR Gabara.”

Sticking a Thumb to the Wind: America, Land of the Fearful, is No Place to Hitch-Hike

Yesterday, I hitch-hiked to the gym.

If I tell that to any of my friends, they look at me like I’m crazy.

Yet if I had said the same thing 40 years ago, it would have been like saying, “I just drove over to the store” or “I just had lunch.” No one would have batted an eye.

A reality check on how car-pooling might work going forward.

In college, late 40's, after finals, hundreds of us would go out on the highway out of town and stand in line. Drivers would pick us all up. I never waited more than maybe 20 minutes before getting a ride- usually truck drivers, but once a preacher who tried to save me from my sins--smoking!- hell, I never smoked. That was the worst threat to life, limb or wallet that I ever had in years of hitching. OK, lots of really boring recitals of personal troubles and such like, but I usually could get away with sleeping thru it. And of course some of them were really interesting. And I saw some astonishingly skilled gear shifting,- almost essential in getting those two gear-box trucks up and down the hills.

Virginia uranium mining isn't getting the rubber stamp some had hoped for:


Even supporters started backing away from the idea. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who wants to make Virginia “the Energy Capital of the East Coast,” seemed to mumble that uranium mining should be done safely. Virginia Energy Resources, which owns 29 percent of the mining project, put the happiest face it could on the report, stating that we now have a “roadmap” to employ the “best practices” in safety in practice in the United States and Canada. Mining opponents hailed the report as vindication of their fears.

The next step is going to be interesting. How Virginia’s business elite handles the report and the moratorium will be the determining factor in whether the ban is ended and the mining goes through.

The sad truth is that many of these people see only one side of the energy equation and are loath to consider environmental issues or even get a deeper understanding of energy itself. Instead, legitimate concerns are painted as overregulation madness by the likes of Barack Obama and his band of socialists.

Note: The author of the above piece accuses his opponents of being "loath to...even get a deeper understanding of energy itself," yet he proceeds to repeat the perplexing assertion that the U.S. is a "net exporter of energy" (among other myths). Just felt the need to point that out.

API Weekly Report: Oil Imports drop significantly after ship channel closures

Fog and a collision in the Houston Ship Channel about a week ago lead to a large backlog in unloading oil tankers in the very important Houston refining region. Total US imports dropped about 1 million bpd, per the API weekly report.

The drop in imports also apparently resulted in lower refinery utilization, which dropped nationwide from about 85% to about 83%. Refiners then failed to keep up with improved product demand. Earlier this month, product demand was slackening – possibly due to warmer than average temperatures and lackluster retail sales. But last week, Christmas sales related activity may have improved, and colder weather hit many parts of the US.

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

By Jim Polson and Aaron Clark - Dec 15, 2011 1:15 PM ET


US crude stocks fall 4.574 million barrels, outpace market expectations: API

New York (Platts)--20Dec2011/615 pm EST/2315 GMT

US crude stocks fell 4.574 million barrels to 330.027 million barrels for the week ending December 16, outpacing analyst expectations as imports declined, data released by the American Petroleum Institute showed Tuesday.

Analysts were anticipating a 2.25 million-barrel draw.

The bulk of the crude stock decline was seen in the US Gulf Coast region, where inventories fell 3.992 million barrels, followed by the West Coast, where stocks slid 1.806 million barrels.

The declines offset a 1.675 million-barrel build in the Midwest.


Theft of Iraqi oil in plain daylight:



Worth watching the whole video. It gets more and more absurd as it progresses.

This is wrong on so many levels...Who are the poor saps that drew the short straw to angle grind and bang/pry an opening into an active oil pipeline? How long does it take for those pumps to fill up all of those tanker trucks? How much oil is successfully stolen vs. simply soaking into the ground/flowing away? Why didn't they use the front loader to build a berm around the pipe to form a large pool? Why the hell would you video this and then upload it to youtube?!?!?!? Was this ever covered by any media outlets?

Statement of Claim filed in Federal Court against Bank of Canada et al.

The Plaintiffs state that the meetings of the BIS and Financial Stability Board (FSB) (successor of FSF), their minutes, their discussions and deliberations are secret and not available nor accountable to Parliament, the executive, nor the Canadian public notwithstanding that the Bank of Canada policies directly emanate from these meetings. These organizations are essentially private, foreign entities controlling Canada’s banking system and socio-economic policies.

The Plaintiffs state that the defendants (officials) are unwittingly and /or wittingly, in varying degrees, knowledge and intent engaged in a conspiracy, along with the BIS, FSB, IMF to render impotent the Bank of Canada Act as well as Canadian sovereignty over financial, monetary, and socio-economic policy, and bypass the sovereign rule of Canada through its Parliament by means of banking and financial systems.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, is a Goldman Sachs alumni. Heaven forbid should anyone suggest any lack of impartiality on the part of Mr. Carney, but it does look like court actions are pending to examine the cozy relationship between private finance and the central bank.

A lot of people are paying close attention to the vampire squid these days. Seems Occupy Wall Street folks are branching into respectable careers like the law.

Offhand I would say this lawsuit is likely go get shot down in flames in court, with the people bringing the lawsuit having to pay all the court costs, including those of the government.

The lawsuit says,

1. The Plaintiffs claim:
(a) declarations that:
i) The Minister of Finance, and Government of Canada is required to request, and that the Bank of Canada is statutorily required, when necessary, to make interest-free loans, on the terms set out under s.18 (i) and (j) of the Bank of Canada Act, RSC, 1985, c. B-2 (the “Act”) for the purposes of “human capital” expenditures and/or municipal/provincial/federal “human capital” and/or infrastructure expenditures;

Except that S.18 does not mention "human capital", "infrastructure expenditures", or even "municipal governments". Section 18 says the Bank of Canada may make loans to the federal and provincial governments, but it does not it say the BoC must make loans to them. If it refused to make loans to the federal or provincial governments, the Minister of Finance could probably override that, but in general he wouldn't do that because it could be viewed as interference in central bank operations, which goes over badly in financial markets.

And then there's

No liability if in good faith
30.1 No action lies against Her Majesty, the Minister, any officer, employee or director of the Bank or any person acting under the direction of the Governor for anything done or omitted to be done in good faith in the administration or discharge of any powers or duties that under this Act are intended or authorized to be executed or performed.

Bottom line: If you try to sue the Bank of Canada for not doing something it or the federal government doesn't think it is wise to do, you are probably SOL.

Bottom line: If you try to sue the Bank of Canada for not doing something it or the federal government doesn't think it is wise to do, you are probably SOL.

Bottom Line: They haven't lost confidence in their institutions to affect change. It may be a formidable challenge, but these protesters will give it a try.

Kudos to them, even if at first glance, they don't appear to have a snowball's chance.

Where I see a hopeful note in this, for good or ill, people have not given up. For any viable political system to work, consent must be given and dissent must be heard and respected. North of the US Canada border, there are elements of opposition who will pursue the legal option. What's more, lawyers and courts and justices in this country surprise us from time to time by their activist persuasion. The judiciary still sees its role, positively, as a guardian of the rule of law and a limit on arbitrary power. From time to time, much to the chagrin of the political masters, they exercise it.

Power generating industry newsletter:

"W Energies' 162 MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Wisconsin was placed into commercial service Dec. 20."

Found something interesting

Are we stuck in a design Rut ?

Since 1992, as the technological miracles and wonders have propagated and the political economy has transformed, the world has become radically and profoundly new. (And then there’s the miraculous drop in violent crime in the United States, by half.) Here is what’s odd: during these same 20 years, the appearance of the world (computers, TVs, telephones, and music players aside) has changed hardly at all, less than it did during any 20-year period for at least a century. The past is a foreign country, but the recent past—the 00s, the 90s, even a lot of the 80s—looks almost identical to the present. This is the First Great Paradox of Contemporary Cultural History.


Think about it. Picture it. Rewind any other 20-year chunk of 20th-century time. There’s no chance you would mistake a photograph or movie of Americans or an American city from 1972—giant sideburns, collars, and bell-bottoms, leisure suits and cigarettes, AMC Javelins and Matadors and Gremlins alongside Dodge Demons, Swingers, Plymouth Dusters, and Scamps—with images from 1992. Time-travel back another 20 years, before rock ’n’ roll and the Pill and Vietnam, when both sexes wore hats and cars were big and bulbous with late-moderne fenders and fins—again, unmistakably different, 1952 from 1972. You can keep doing it and see that the characteristic surfaces and sounds of each historical moment are absolutely distinct from those of 20 years earlier or later: the clothes, the hair, the cars, the advertising—all of it

I am not old enough to have personal experience of this but I guess a vast majority of TOD'ers do, given that this site is populated with old geezers :-)

I usually look at Pop music as the part of this question that baffles me.

Rust fell asleep.. Rock and Roll jumped into endless replay mode, and you'll hear the same lineup (basically) that we could get on the radio in 1977.. Stones, Who, Zepp, Beatles, Hendrix, Cars every now and then..

It's just strange to me, since that music had so much nerve when it came out.. but it's like Zombie Rock now. The messages have faded out from underneath them.

I think we just got too comfortable, frankly.. and haven't been able to bear the thought of changing it, even when we started hearing how much damage it has been causing. Massively Self-medicated with Nostalgia.

Now imagine the pleasant and calming sound of an Alarm Clock. It's coming..

FM radio is useless. Internet radio such as Pandora or Slacker play customizable channels according to your inputs. SiriusXM has many different channels including the classic rock "standards".

List of currently relevant bands in no particular order:

Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Tobacco, Lightning Bolt, John Maus, Hella, Bassnectar, Black Lips, King Khan and his Shrines, White Stripes, Weekend, No Age, Health, The Black Keys, Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings, Fleet Foxes, Gang Gang Dance, Kurt Vile, M83, and many more (last.fm)

Arcade Fire's Suburbs album is seemingly about peak oil.

, given that this site is populated with old geezers :-)

Glad I lived during the meaty curve of the oil age, mid 50's to now with lots of vim and vigor left vs. being young now and having to face the long descent. I wish you all the best with that roller coaster.

Its just the US. 2011 in the UK doesn't look like 1991 did.

Actually its probably just the author's tastes haven't changed much and he's tuning out the way the rest of society has changed.

That is interesting. Perhaps it is just the aging Baby Boomers' atherosclerosis. Though what old people like usually isn't a factor in things like fashion, music, and movies.

The car thing has been coming for awhile. It used to be that you could look at a car and tell what year it was made. Car companies made a big deal about unveiling new models that were visibly different from the previous year's. Now, models go years without much change. It's hard to look at a Corolla and tell whether it's a 2003 or 2004. A reflection of tougher economic times, maybe, for both buyers and manufacturers.

I also wonder if the superstar effect is to blame. What's the big change from 1992 to 2012? The Internet, and the way it's permeated ordinary people's lives. Many predicted that the net and digital media would let fresh, original talents find their market by bypassing the traditional gatekeepers (record companies, publishing companies, etc.). Some people have benefited this way, but overall, the effect has been the opposite. The net allows the "superstars" to be more dominant than ever.

Cars will necessarily look more and more alike as the constraints on the designers grow tighter and tighter, and the price competition for sales grows more intense.

Fuel economy dictates a sleek aerodynamic unibody type construction that is relatively spacious inside and relatively light.That means all cars from here on out will have the same basic teardrop based shape.

Competition creates a need for lower costs and one of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to minimize model year changes and to use as many interchangeable parts as possible.

This strategy has been carried to such an extreme that some vehicles sold under different brand names are virtually identical except for the exterior and interior trim.

Hence even professional mechanics must identify cars by reading the attached data plates these days rather than by just looking at them.

But we would still benefit immensely as a society if consumer motor vehicles were much better standardized, as are commercial vehicles and most machinery.

For decades now most of the mass market cars sold under different nameplates are literally *the same car*. There may be minor differences in upholstery or available options, but that's it. It's actually a symptom of corporate consolidation, they get their cost savings by having one team of designers for many brands.

The Koreas, North and South, at night

Good place for astronomical observatories (visual spectrum)?

These guys need to get with the program and emulate the greatest country on Earth!

Forget the idea of load following nuke plants...full power, Rudolph!

Here's how we roll in the land of milk and honey!

Enjoy the show while it lasts!


You mean this effect?


Translation "Ouch my eyes" and "He get worse every year" in the last panel.
Strip inspiered by a vendor in my home town.

I love the nicely-clipped CLG12.NYM percussion at the 104 frequency with the lovely crescendo as it again approaches 100. Gives me goosebumps.

former IEA head oil analyst/modeller says peakoil is now, slow decline starts in 2015-2020

http://petrole.blog.lemonde.fr/2011/12/20/le-petrole-declinera-peu-apres... (interview in French)