Drumbeat: December 24, 2011

Shale Boom Heralds Fifth Year of Gas Declines

Booming U.S. natural gas production from shale formations and slowing demand from households, factories and power plants are poised to send prices down for an unprecedented fifth year in 2012.

Gas may tumble 8.2 percent from its 2011 average next year, as output rises 2.8 percent to a record 67.72 billion cubic feet a day, according to the Energy Department. Demand will probably climb 1.7 percent, after a 1.8 percent increase this year, the department said in its Dec. 6 Short-Term Energy Outlook.

“It’s been practically impossible to turn off the shale- gas tap,” Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Washington, said in a telephone interview Dec. 14. “Industrial demand has been rising, but it’s not enough.”

Oil Futures Cap Biggest Weekly Gain in Two Months on U.S. Economic Data

Oil in New York rose, capping its biggest weekly gain in two months, as U.S. economic reports signaled that growth in the world’s biggest crude-consuming country will accelerate.

Futures gained 6.6 percent this week, the biggest gain since Oct. 28, as durable goods rose in November by the most in four months. Initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level since April 2008 and leading indicators advanced more than forecast last month, data showed yesterday.

OPEC has "gentleman's" deal on Libyan output: Libya

CAIRO (Reuters) - Libyan Oil Minister Abdulrahman Ben Yazza said on Saturday there was a "gentleman's agreement" in OPEC to accommodate Libya as it lifts oil production back to levels before a civil war this year hit output.

"There is a gentleman's agreement to accommodate Libyan production," Ben Yazza told reporters on the sidelines of an Arab oil ministers meeting in Cairo.

Saudi Crude Output Likely To Fall In December Vs November - Source

CAIRO (Zawya Dow Jones)--Saudi Arabia, which produced 10.047 million barrels of crude oil per day in November--the highest level in three decades, is likely to produce less this month, an official from the world's largest oil exporter said Saturday.

"It is likely to be lower this month, but it could rise again in January if demand rises," the official, who declined to be named, told Zawya Dow Jones.

Libya Says Oil Output Tops One Million Barrels a Day as Industry Recovers

Libya, holder of Africa’s biggest oil reserves, is now pumping “more than a million” barrels a day as the oil industry recovers from months of armed conflict, the chairman of its state-run National Oil Corp. said.

The country will resume normal oil production by the middle of next year, Nuri Berruien told reporters in Cairo today, where he attended a meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OAPEC.

Author Daniel Yergin on U.S. Need for a 'Diversified Energy Portfolio'

Amid concern over tensions and violence in Iraq and Syria, oil prices rose to nearly $100 a barrel Friday. Jeffrey Brown discusses the ongoing hunt for untapped reserves of energy and how the demand for energy has shaped political and economic change around the globe with Daniel Yergin, author of "The Quest" and "The Prize."

Politics Stamps Out Oil Sands Pipeline, Yet It Seems Likely to Endure

A presidential vow to kill the pipeline if Congress rushes a decision will hardly be a death knell, officials say.

Iran begins 10-day naval navy drill in international waters near strategic oil route

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s navy began a 10-day drill Saturday in international waters near the strategic oil route that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The exercises, dubbed “Velayat 90,” could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels in the area.

Syria says oil output cut by third due to sanctions

CAIRO: Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Alao said on Saturday that his country's oil production had fallen by about 30 to 35 percent as a result of sanctions imposed on Syria over its nine-month crackdown on anti-government protests.

Syrian opposition blames regime for suicide bombings

(CNN) -- President Bashar al-Assad's government blamed terrorists Saturday inside and outside of Syria for dual bombings that struck the country's capital on Friday. But the opposition called the attacks the work of the regime.

The allegations by both sides come amid one of the bloodiest periods during the months-long uprising, raising questions about whether observers from the Arab League arriving in Syria can do anything to stem the growing violence.

Moscow protest draws tens of thousands

MOSCOW (AP) – Tens of thousands of demonstrators on Saturday cheered opposition leaders and jeered the Kremlin in the biggest show of outrage yet against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule.

A 'war zone' emerges during Yemen protest

(CNN) -- Security forces in Yemen's capital assaulted thousands of marchers with gunfire, water cannons, and tear gas Saturday, eyewitnesses and activists said.

"Everyone here is screaming, blood and tear gas (is) everywhere. Saleh's forces are shooting with snipers. They are blocking streets and attacking women, tearing their hijabs. It's a war zone out here, smoke is everywhere. Soldiers also have batons," protester Murad Merali told CNN.

Crowds mass in Cairo's Tahrir Square in protest of army

Cairo (CNN) -- Thousands gathered in the Egyptian capital on Friday in a mass demonstration against the country's armed forces and its heavy-handed treatment of protesters, which has since drawn international condemnation.

Protesters could be seen erecting tents in Cairo's Tahrir Square, a location widely considered the epicenter of an uprising that brought down Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

Shell Says Oil From Bonga Facility Leak ‘Continues to Thin’

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) said oil that leaked from its 200,000 barrel-a-day Bonga field in Nigeria “continues to thin.”

“Surveillance and aerial photos show the spill is breaking up into patches surrounded by clear water,” Shell said in a statement on its website. “The spill remains offshore. We continue to monitor its movement using satellite imagery and vessels in the zone.”

The Smart Grid Solution: Giving Consumer Control Of Their Energy Use

Rather than building new power generation to meet the rising demand for energy, utilities are increasingly turning to the latest smart grid technology to help reduce energy use during peak consumption times. These programs will profoundly change how all American households and businesses think about and consume energy. Once invisible to most people, electricity consumption is now poised to enter our day-to-day lives, driving deeper awareness and potential savings for all utility customers.

No fanfare for Christmas among Amish

Christmas is the biggest holiday on the Amish calendar and Michigan is home to 11,000 Amish, one of the largest populations in the country. But in keeping with the Amish way, it's a simple Christmas for simple folks -- and an about-face from the Christmas excess that abounds in so many households this time of year.

Food bill: a vote-winner and budget-buster

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Plans to expand the multi-billion dollar food subsidy programme are a likely vote-winner for the ruling Congress party as it heads into key local elections in 2012, but could worsen strained finances as a flagging economy crimps revenue.

More young people see opportunities in farming

The young entrepreneurs typically cite two reasons for going into farming: Many find the corporate world stifling and see no point in sticking it out when there's little job security; and demand for locally grown and organic foods has been strong enough that even in the downturn they feel confident they can sell their products.

Book Review: Folks, This Ain't Normal

You are almost certain to disagree with some of Joel's ideas. Folks, This Ain't Normal runs the gamut in controversial topics. He touches on politics, religion, the environment (including global warming), sustainable agriculture, big business, peak oil, taxes, protectionism, meat eating, government regulation, women's role in farming (he told me to my face he's "sexist") and likely a few more subjects that will get your blood boiling. But this is not your usual liberal-conservative political banter.

Greening business will help both the economy and the planet

The phrase "It's the economy, stupid" was first used by Bill Clinton in his 1992 election campaign. It's very apt now. It could be slightly rewritten to read "It's the stupid economy" that has saddled many countries with huge debts and unsustainable use of resources. As our financial debts have built up, so have our debts to nature – registered on nature's ledger as the loss of topsoil, forests, fresh water and biodiversity, and the instability of the global climate. We need to remember that the most important things in life – air, water, soil, energy, biodiversity – are the things that keep us alive.

Mining Companies Back Friend’s Bid for Senate

Representative Denny Rehberg of Montana has been an aggressive advocate for the coal and minerals mining industry, a big employer in Montana.

How to raise money and ecological awareness

Norway's DNV made its name in the 1800s as a ship inspector. Now it checks bonds for environmental credentials.

Floods, heat, migration: How extreme weather will transform cities

While findings vary from region to region, it forecasts an overall increase in this century of coastal and river floods, extreme weather events and a global temperature rise of between 3-5C, if emissions are left unchecked.

According to climate change experts, cities from New York in the U.S. to Dhaka in Bangladesh are likely to be heavily affected.

The EIA's Monthly Energy Review came out yesterday. Click on "Petroleum" then on the type of display you wish, PDF or XLS (Excel). I always use Excel. The Excel gives you the lower 48, Alaska, Total, NGLs, Total (Crude+NGLs), Renewables (from 2009), Refinery Process Gain, Crude Imports, Crude Exports, Net Imports, Adjustments and total Petroleum Products Supplied from January 1973 thru November 2011.

Total consumption would be the last column, "Petroleum Products Supplied". However this figure include everything, renewables, NGLs and refinery process gain. To get our consumption of Crude Oil only, one simply needs to combine Total Crude Production with Net Imports. I have done that, since Jan. 2000 thru Nov. 2011, in the chart below, in thousands of barrels per day. The last data point is Nov. 2011.

Net  Imports   Production

During most of 2005 thru early 2006 we consumed about 17,700,000 barrels per day. Today we are consuming around 14,200,000 for a drop in consumption of 3,500,000 barrels per day. However some of the decline in crude consumption was offset by renewables which have increased by about half a million barrels per day since 2006 and in November went over one million barrels per day for the first time ever.

A side note: From January of 2004 thru August of 2009 we imported well over two of every three barrels of crude we produced. But now with some increase in production and a lot less imports we are importing just over 60% of the crude oil we consume, or three out of every five barrels.

The EIA's International Energy Statistics, usually out by the 20th has not yet been published this month.

Ron P.

However this figure include everything, renewables, NGLs and refinery process gain. To get our consumption of Crude Oil only, one simply needs to combine Total Crude Production with Net Imports.


Looks like a peak to me. I often rant about the error so often made of adding things that are different and the resulting confusion and miss analysis. But I am too lazy to do the work you have done.

The chart and the numbers you show are valid. The concept is valid. That is important. A chart with numbers that combine/compare things that are different is not valid even if the numbers are correct.

Combining things that are different can only sum in an abstraction. Adding apples and oranges equals fruit. Fruit can be any of its forms and has little concrete meaning except as an idea of a group of things.

Fruit, except in its concrete forms, can not be bought or sold. It is poorly defined. Energy is like fruit in that it is an abstract name we give to its forms.

If energy or fruit is treated as concrete and used to compare/add things that are different, a logical fallacy occurs which is called reification.

You are blithering again. There is no logical fallacy. You come across as a nutjob when you get on your "comparison" rave.

Apples are crunchy, usually white inside. Oranges are juicy, and, well, orange inside. Some people prefer one or the other based on these properties. There, I've just compared two different things without any of your fancy "reification".

Using terms like "reification" and "logical fallacy" don't add one iota to your position. Neither does endlessly repeating it until no one bothers to even call you on it. I'm only doing it now just in case anyone believes you have a point.

One typically compares things _because_ they're different. That's the point of comparing things.

Sgage, I don't see the point of your rant. X's prime complaint was that they "combine" things that are different. That has been my complaint for years. One cannot combine bottle gas with crude oil and act as if they are the same thing. Yes you can compare them but you cannot combine them, they don't mix very well.

Ron P.

I was thinking of his rants against the very concept of EROEI as a useful concept of comparison, because it "compares different things". If you recall over the months (years), he's just repeated that song over and over, clearly to defend corn ethanol as a useful energy "source". Perhaps I overreacted in this context - I normally don't even read anything by x.

I have occasionally both defended and castigated X for his obstinacy and failure to understand certain concepts, respectively,, but in human affairs just about any sort of statement means little or nothing unless and until the context in which it is made is specified.

His reasoning is quite sound inside the contextual and intellectual envelope of a businessman, and iirc, he went to a business school.

We don't hold it against scientists who worked out basic chemical laws a couple of centuries ago that they were wrong about the divisibility of the atom.If X ever chooses to spend some of his moonshine money on a couple of university level courses in the physical sciences, he will quietly change his oft repeated speech.

It seems obvious enough to Darwinian and to me at least that we should take his arguments to heart today when the context involves the somewhat fuzzy definition of oil.

Depending on who you are reading or listening to, and which particular axes are either in use or being sharpened, you can be lead to believe that ethanol and refinery gains are oil, or that they are not, that ethanol and other biofuels are being effectively double counted, or not, and so forth.

This kind of thing makes lawyers and accountants salivate , given the possibilities of collecting big fees.Most of them are prepared to argue either side of the issue, depending on who is cutting the check, and how many ambiguities can be found in a search of the law books.

We are glad to see Westexas continuously repost his available net export speech again and again, because it describes both a reality and an issue that we need to understand and deal with.Even the most boneheaded pro growth forever businessman who ever happens to take a half hour and examine this argument and the statistics behind it must come away shaken unless he is not only ignorant but also appallingly stupid-for Westexas 's argument is presented in his OWN PROFESSIONAL business man's LINGO.

We need to be constantly reminded why people pay so little attention to us;it's because nearly everybody outside the scientifically literate and ecologically aware community thinks just like X!!!!!

Tolkien fans may remember the delight of the hobbits when they found things they knew to be true included in the Red Book. ;-)

It’s true that logical fallacies often involve using different definitions of something in the same argument. You are right; you can’t add apples to oranges and get a meaningful number of ‘appenges.’ But you can add different things together if you can devise a common denominator. Say, calories, for instance. You can take the number of calories in an apple, say 100, and add that to the number of calories in an orange, say 65, for instance. One apple plus one orange does not equal two appenges, but they do represent 165 calories. This gives you a meaningful way of comparing things that are, at first glance, different.

Oddly, that’s exactly what the concept of EROI, when comparing ethanol to the fossil fuel inputs to create it, does. Mr. X (Ms. X? I really hate nom-de-internets) has stumbled upon a tool for making comparisons between energy sources a matter of simple mathematics.

Thanks, X.


Yet x does not agree with the concept of EROEI when it comes to ethanol. There are apparently mitigating factors that make up for ethanol's lousy EROEI which x will one day reveal. This secret factor is what creates the apples and oranges difference.
Keep waiting is what I will do.

The "factor" is X is a self-identified "corn farmer".

"You can take the number of calories in an apple, say 100, and add that to the number of calories in an orange, say 65, for instance. One apple plus one orange does not equal two appenges, but they do represent 165 calories. This gives you a meaningful way of comparing things that are, at first glance, different."

But that comparison is only valid for calories. To say the apple is better than the orange because it has more calories tells you nothing about their relative utility in preventing scurvy.

So, 1 million joules of coal energy are not always as useful as 1 million joules of natural gas (especially if I want to make ammonia), and both are less useful than 1 million joules of electricity if I need to run a laptop. And this is why we are willing to live with an EROI of 0.35 for turning coal into electricity, and 0.45 for turning natural gas to electricity. And why if push comes to shove, we will turn coal into diesel at an EROI of about 0.75.

EROI is an interesting concept to keep in the back of your mind, but in economic terms it's useless. Actual price per unit of energy is what matters. And sometimes that is surprising. A few years ago I gave up the idea of a pellet stove in the shop when I did the math and found out electric heaters were cheaper than the pellets, and the electric heater also saved floor space, and of course had instant on and off capability. EROI had nothing to do with it.

You just compared coal, natural gas, and "electricity". That makes no sense.

EROI had a lot to with it. Where you live (unlike most places) electricity (converted into heat units at the 100% efficiency of a resistive heter) is cheaper than wood pellets (at the 80% or so efficiency of a pellet stove, so comparing equivalent heat outputs). What determines those prices is, in part, the inputs needed to build and operate the systems that supply you with either. Perhaps in your area the electricity is from hydropower, and you happen to have a big river dropping a lot of altitude. Under those conditions the EROI of building a dam is high.

Oranges are juicy, and, well, orange inside.

except for blood oranges, which are red inside.

Sometime back I stuck my foot in my mouth in a big way here by beginning an essay X would love-the meaning of money-dollars , when it is denominated in one society's units and used to describe living conditions in some other society, wherein the people supposedly living on some specified tiny portion of aforesaid money seldom ever see any of it and even more rarely use it -dollars- to purchase the few things they don't grow or manufacture for themselves or acquire by barter.

I shouldn't have posted my heretic's thoughts until working them out all the way, and writing them up a well organized fashion with better presented examples to help the reader follow my line of thought.Nobody who responded caught the slightest glimpse of what I was trying to get across.

I will get back to this someday before too long.

The concept bears on a dozen or more aspects of the way we see and think and visualize reality.

Net imports decreasing ~ 666K bpd per year over the last 5-6 years.
Linear trend implies imports fall to zero in roughly 13 years.
(not a forecast)

That's the projected 2006-2011 trend. Which could be just as wrong as a projection of the 1977~1983 trend would have been.

Which could be just as wrong as a projection of the 1979~1985 trend would have been.

Could be but if it it will be entirely for different reasons. The Iranian revolution, followed by the Iran-Iraqi war and the Tanker Wars caused OPEC production to tank. When OPEC started to produce heavily again the trend started upward again. But now OPEC is already producing flat out but they are using so much themselves that their exports are dropping. I don't see any chance that US imports turning up like they did in the mid 80s.

Ron P.

Off hand, the net import declines seem similar. The Alaska Pipeline coming online to increase US production and recessions in the early 80s to decrease demand. The oil shale plays in ND and TX to increase production and the 2008+ recession to decrease demand.

I see your point about the difficulty in increasing imports. Does that imply continued poor economic conditions (assumption: high oil prices are a drag on economy)? Continued investment in domestic production (assumption: high oil prices encourage investment in production)?

I've believed that US per capita consumption was going to be forced to become more in line with the EU consumption - despite our greater dispersion and lower population density. But I don't really expect that to happen in one long draw down ... but who knows?

My take is that the US is importing as much oil as the consumer can afford. The scenario where oil prices drop and the US economy keeps zipping along is more like a science fiction story than an actual possibility. I do agree that the trend may not be accurate. The decline may either accelerate or flatten out. I used to think it would most certainly accelerate but my crystal ball broke and I am only sure that net imports won't pass peak levels again.

Does this graph suggest the American people are successfully reducing our demand for oil at a rate equal to or perhaps faster than the decline curve?

Define "successfully."

Successfully, as in:

"The patient successfully reduced his body's demand for oxygen by sacrificing his limbs."

I found this chart of U.S. VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled)...I cannot vouch for its veracity.


I would love to see an analysis of the factors behind the graph/numbers:

How much of this was due to job losses?

How much due to cutting non-business-commuting trips (trimming vacations, combining shopping/errand trips, etc)

How much was due to folks replacing their vehicles with vehicles which have higher mpg?

How much was due to jobs allowing workers to telecommute?

Most of it was allowing people not to go to work at all because they were laid off.

Ron P.

MrFlash818, good question.

Ron, I guess that you are correct that loss of jobs is likely the primary driver.

But, w/o someone collecting and presenting the data, we have but conjectures.

I don't think that's a big factor. Most travel in the US is not commuting to work. (Someone said only 20% is commuting in a previous thread?)

I would guess a lot of the reduction is related to reduced economic activity, but in a more indirect way. Fewer trips to the mall for recreational shopping, being more careful to combine trips, perhaps fewer cars.

As a teenager in a rural community I participated in a popular activity known as "cruising." A bunch of us would fill the gas tank (about twenty dollars), buy beer, and party while motoring along the dirt roads. Sometimes we would form convoys in town, circulating endlessly up and down the "main drag." There were spontaneous gatherings in town, on the river, in wheat fields, and of course on Lovers Lane (every community had one).

These days I see much less of this activity. There are no convoys "dragging Main Street."

Cruising was a big deal in 'lil ole Altoona PA until the early 80s...the city strictly enforced ant-cruising laws because the they didn't want the boisterous ruckus late into the night downtown.

In many communities, it was a way for teenagers to strut their stuff (in this case stuff being wheels), in hopes of attracting members of the opposite sex, for purposes their parents wouldn't approve of.

Yes, there have been some articles about this. Young people are the ones who suffer most from high gas prices. Also, today's teens are just not that keen on driving. Past generations couldn't wait to get a license and a car, but many kids today aren't interested. Perhaps because cruising is done online now, on Facebook and Twitter, and so much entertainment has moved online. Why leave the house, when you have your infinitely enthralling square-faced boyfriend or girlfriend at home?

Demographics might also be part of it - on the other end of the spectrum. The oldest baby boomers are 65 this year, and older people tend to drive less.

I agree that a lot of inter-related factors are likely in play.

I am very fortunate to have a well-paying job (who know for how long, and part of the price for keeping in my employer's good stead is working long hours and getting paid for 40 (Exempt Employee).

My kids are young adults going to college,still living at home...they spend a goodly portion of their time hitting the books, and also working (fortunately their work is fairly close to home).

The upshot is that our family used to take many more road trips (national and state parks, mainly).

Now we are all too busy...add to that that motels have become rather spendy, and restaurants aren't cheap either. Then add gasoline...

I negotiated 20 days per year of Personal Time Off, but don't feel I can use much of it...I am one-deep in several tasks for my government customer (I am a contractor) and can't afford to 'gap' the customer very often...also, my future employment outlook is anything but guaranteed, no matter how much the customer currently likes my work, so I look at my accumulating PTO as a small buffer to bridge me if I have to scramble for another job.

Kind of interesting how both folks w/o jobs and much money /and/ folks with jobs (who make decent money) who are terrified of losing them don't take many trips anymore, but for different reasons.

The daze of endless growth of 'Happy motoring' are likely over.

I suspect accumulating too much PTO, might have been part of me being selected for downsizing (the result of which is I no longer live in your burg). The beancounters get upset about liabilities -of which PTO is one.

My company had a 'use-or-lose' cap on PTO...don't get me started on how they expect 'exempt employees; to be their superiors' slaves...expected to work 60 hours and still get paid for 40, working business development (many time w/o a BD charge code), pop-up tasks, and almost no ability to charge on an overhead code...the company even tried to make its folks charge PTO once for moving their equipment and professional papers/computers from one facility to another at one of its locations.

All to protect their rather generous profit line...all to mollify the all-mighty share holders and board of directors...on the backs of the employees.

But, what can be done...at least I am making money...who knows for how long...

This does sound familiar. My contract ends end of April, I hope I can find something else that's decent. One gets tired of living this way. Haven't dared take vacation for years.

Its the problem in this economy, workers have no bargaining power, they will put up with a lot of abuse in order to avoid the dreaded layoff. Of course the oligarchy likes it this way, better to transfer more from workers to owners.... So austerity is pushed heavily.

Chimney sweeping has always been pretty much recession-proof. When money gets tight people want to use less oil. Then those chimneys need service. Now when a few folks feel like they have enough money they are getting new stoves or used stoves and having a sweep put them in and maybe reline the chimney. Being a sole proprietor makes it up to me to keep the business flowing and now I am finally past the peak for the Fall rush season. This has been one of the busiest seasons I have had in over 30 years in this trade and after many years various parts are wearing out, but the calls keep coming. Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all.

Do you recommend any sweeps in Albuquerque?

Burning a fire right now!

I have been 'prepping the battlefield' with my wife for ~ 2 years...she doesn't want to face the fact that since I retired from the AF the daze of job security are over...and that, although I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with the right skill sets, and have contacted an old comrade-in-arms, my money train is 6-month-to-6-mont, with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

My 'mental prepping' of my wife involves explaining this, and the idea that we will need to downsize if the rug gets pulled out. I have been advocating me/us preemptively downshifting after our second child finishes college in 2.5 years...

Use or lose is technically illegal in the U.S. You can't lose time that has accrued. They get around that legally by simply not awarding the "excess" PTO the next year. I have the same problem, it's virtually impossible to actually get away for more than a couple days at a time. I'm in the same position as every year, where I get to the end of the year with more vacation than I can store, but without the time to take it. I have a deadline Wed (which would be fine if I was able to do it alone), so I can't take the last week of the year off, but it's impossible to get anything done on Christmas day, so I'm here. I'm going to get a jump on next year by taking a week for my niece's wedding (visit the PNW) in late January (if I can make it work).

Use or lose is technically illegal in the U.S.

That's not true. Many workplaces have this rule, including state and federal governments. No "getting around it" required - if you don't use the time by the end of the fiscal year, it disappears. Sometimes, you are allowed to accrue a certain amount, and any more than that, you lose. The US military is that way.

I mis-spoke. It is a matter of state, not federal law, and particulars differ by state. However, getting around it is possible in all states. As a practical matter, use it or lose happens. Here is a link to the California DOL, explaining that it is technically illegal, but also how to circumvent that. See questions 4 and 5.


Leanan, you are correct regarding the U.S. military.

The maximum 'Leave' (what the military calls vacation time, vice 'PTO' in the contractor world) allowed to be carried over the 30 Sep-1Oct fiscal year fence is 60 days.

Uncle Sam awards all U.S. military members 30 days paid per year, regardless of rank or longevity/seniority/time-in.

In the military, one is compelled by law to take leave, even over a 'normally off' day such as a week-end or federally-observed holiday, in one is located beyond the commander-stipulated 'local area' and not performing duty.

Nice things on the military side is that if you are sick or injured and are placed on 'quarters' by the company doc, you do not burn leave. Also, if you go to lunch (something reasonable in duration,), you are 'on the clock'. Likewise if you have a medical appointment or an appointment with the JAG to work a will, other stuff like that. The AF had a policy of awarding 3 hours per defined work hours per week for physical fitness (running, weights, etc).

The uniformed military does no keep time cards...the idea if that one is 'always on duty', except when on leave, and that supervisors make and enforce work hours, subject to change, with the extremis being war.

The military was very serious about encouraging its folks to take leave (war zone duty different of course)...the philosophy from the top down that folks needed to take their 30 days per year to keep well-rounded, productive, happy, sane etc. Anyone working while on leave was going to rightfully take a ration of crap from their comrades, and most supers worth their salt would send them home. In the private world, things are different.

In the non-military world, I keep my time to the .1 hour (6 min) resolution, and one needs to honor that strictly. If you are sick or injured, or need to run an errand, or wishes to eat lunch, one takes PTO.

I have a friend who is an officer in the Navy. He has lost months of leave to "use or lose." He has a young family and would love to take some time off, but they just can't spare him.

There are always exceptions...

In the AF, I know Commanders were 'graded' on how many of their people lost leave.

It was a big hairy deal to them. I was a squadron operations officer for a 6-month stint (temp duty at the home drome whilst most folks were on a little flyspeck in the middle of a far-away ocean), and I was a supervisor many years at a lower level...we got leaned on hard to cajole our subordinates to /not/ lose leave.

However, your friend is in the Navy....and rules get bent and broken in war...and Navy crewfolks are bound to their ship's steaming /tour dates...but they are supposed to be afforded 'Liberty' when their ship is in home port (yes, they also have to conduct training etc when in home port, but...)

A couple of points/ideas for your friend (from the rules as I knew them in the AF up to June 2008):

1. When one is prevented from taking leave during war, there was a program called 'Special Leave Accrual' (SLA) which allowed one to accrue more than 60 days of leave during the war assignment time, and for a little while after, to give one time to 'flame off' the excess leave. I know B52 cred dogs who were on that little fly-speck of an island half the globe away for ~9-12 months who came home and were sent home for ~ 1 month by the Wing Commander.

2. I am pretty sure that all military members have the right to sell leave back (leave for money) /once/in their career...definitely at the end of their career, but I thought they could do this before their terminal days as well if they chose (and their CO agreed).

3. Your friend should take any opportunity to take leave when his superiors allow...even if he/she feels he/she 'always has more work to do/is behind on the paperwork'....you never know when you will be sent out for war ops and for how long that will last...do /not/ let workaholicism allow your to shoot yourself in the foot...do /not/ keep your leave balance close to 60 days!

4. If your friend truly is tagged as a 'golden BB' and/or has a run of COs who 'don't get it', he.she can always keep careful, written documentation of his/her numerous denied leave requests, and go to the Inspector General (IG). That threat will certainly get some attention to the issue. If the IG blows him/her off, the ultimate threats are: Write cone's Senator and drop a 'Congressional' on top of his command structure; and the final option is to got to CNN.

Yes, the last two can be Pyrrhic victories, but...one has to have big ones and know the rules...unwarranted Co retributions is illegal under the UCMJ. Your friend wont' make admiral, but if he/she plays hardball within the rulebook, won't get discharged either (at least not less than honorable).

In one lets oneself be treated as a Line Replaceable Unit, then one will be treated such!

And yes...I once threw down with my Vice Wing Commander and threatened (promised) to take him to the IG (not over leave...something else) and I prevailed (and made it to retirement at 20!)

and...I dropped a Congressional onto of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service when then refused to start paying me my retirement pay at the 2-month-retired point (one month gap is expected)...I got my pay within one week, and a telephone aploggy. I told them I was going to go to my Cogressman, and they still blew me off, so I dropped the bomb. Trust me, when I CO gets tagged to answer a 'Congressional', that is his/her #1 priority!

The USDOT releases vehicle miles of travel data on a monthly basis. The shape of the graph is roughly the same as the ones I have seen done using the federal numbers.

For a number of years the annual average increase in VMT was about two percent. The slope of the curve prior to 2007 shows that. Obviously, the sharp break correlates with the drop in employment. Work trips make up about 20 percent of all vehicle trips, and they also have the longest average length in miles per trip.

A lot has happened in the work place since 2007. Some folks don't have a job to which they can go any more. Significant numbers of older workers have in effect taken early retirement, not necessarily voluntarily. Some people fit into my description: still working full or part time, but have switched modes, in my case to public transit.

The U-3 unemployment rate that gets reported on the business channels each month doesn't tell the whole story. The real data, to me at least, is in the percentage of the adult population in the work force. That has now dropped back to 1980 levels. Also, more workers are underemployed, working less than 40 hours per week. All of these factors impact the change since 2007. Many recent high school or college graduates have not found employment and are living at home. They may or may not have their own vehicle. In fact, the percentage of high schoolers getting drivers' licenses is dropping.

More fuel-efficient vehicles, telecommuting, and other factors have been in play for more than a decade. They had helped drop the annual rate of increase from 2.5 percent or more down to the 1.9 to 2.0 percent heading up to 2007, but they were not what caused the break in the curve.

As part of my work I compare average daily vehicular traffic counts at the same location over a number of years. The most recent counts have shown declines on major roadways in recent years. We use those numbers to project future traffic counts as part of traffic impact studies for new sites. Most regulatory agencies require us to use at least a one percent annual increase. It's getting interesting telling clients and reviewers that we don't think the traffic on a major road will be increasing in volume for a number of years, if ever!

More fuel-efficient vehicles

...have no bearing on VMT.

Other than that, you make good pts. I'd like to know more about the % of VMT that is made up by commuting to work. We have thus far, 20% of trips, and longest avg. length. What are the other categories of trips? One would think that 'vacations' would be one, and have a longer average length than the commute to work, but a much lower frequency, of course. Any light to shed?

I agree that the fuel efficiency itself has no direct bearing on VMT. (That was a "senior moment," sorry; I had family interruptions while typing.) Regarding the other trip purposes, the most frequent ones tracked by transportation planners, and the survey itself, are home-based work trips (one trip end beginning or ending at home), work related business trips, shopping, other personal or family errands, school or worship/civic, social-recreational, and other.

The work-related trips total about 22 percent, with 20 percent being the commute itself. About 23 percent of all trips are shopping trips. Family and personal errands make up 24 percent. Social-recreational, school, worship, civic, and other trips all together amount to the remaining 31 percent of trips.

Looking at the percentage of total VMT, the work trips make up 28 percent of VMT, while shopping trips take up only 15 percent. Those personal and family errands use up 18 percent of the VMT, leaving socio-recreational, school, worship, civic, and other trips to comprise 39 percent of VMT. Non-business out-of-town trips would include family vacations, and these would fall into the last category. I don't have the average for vacation trips close at hand, but it is likely to be less than 2,000 miles per year. Given that the average household in 2009 drove a total of 19,850 miles (down from 21,187 miles in 2001), such trips would be about ten percent of annual travel. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Realize that freight transportation is a whole other category. While it is not as large as personal trips, it is a significant part of the vehicle trips on the roadways. A drop in business activity will result in a drop in truck traffic as well.

Dark: thanks for the info! Where do you get these data from?

I am still perplexed by the definition of the categories: "About 23 percent of all trips are shopping trips. Family and personal errands make up 24 percent. Social-recreational, school, worship, civic, and other trips all together amount to the remaining 31 percent of trips." - if shopping, social, school, worship, civic... are excluded, what in the world is left in "family and personal errands" which is still 24 percent?

I should have added the link. Here it is. http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf

The work-related trips total about 22 percent, with 20 percent being the commute itself. About 23 percent of all trips are shopping trips.

Wait. How are people going shopping more often than they are going to work?

My guess: not everyone in a household works, but everyone shops.

More shopping than earning. Says it all really doesn't it.

Thanks for the info! Seems lots of opp'ty for reducing miles through combining trips, as we hear anecdotally is happening now. Combining/eliminating trips, increasing efficiency - eventually we'll get where we're headed: zero VMT & fuel consumed :-)

Did anyone think people may just be driving less because of the higher price of fuel? It's like my wife says, "There didn't use to be any thought to driving, but now with the higher price you think about it, wait and combine things to get more done on each trip." I suppose that waters down to greater efficiency. A good thing, but it also probably reduces impulse spending due to fewer opportunities to purchase goods.


Definitely true.

As far as impulse purchases, there is always the Internet, particularly Amazon.com!

I don't know if my family is an anomaly (I think not)...but we buy a lot of stuff from Amazon.

I have largely kissed brick and mortar store good riddance...I hate the traffic, the huge treacherous parking lots, the brain-dead zombie check-out clerks who can't even correctly calculate a half-off discount on an $18 item, the lousy inventory/selection, the lack of clerk help, and on.

And we love the online product reviews.

Do these VMT graphs include USPS, UPS,, and FedeX delivery trucks? If not, perhaps the migration from brick and mortar store to Internet purchases may explain a small amount of the VMT drop.

I have largely kissed brick and mortar store good riddance...I hate the traffic, the huge treacherous parking lots, the brain-dead zombie check-out clerks...

I hear you on that - better selection, no crowds and it's already boxed. Hard to beat that - enjoy the holidays Heisenberg.

I feel the same way about going to the mall, the crowds, traffic, and parking. I think online shopping is a cause of diminishing VMT. My wife and I sold our second car and have been shopping online for years. I hope I never have to go to a mall again. I purchase everything online, if possible.

I end up getting things from China as so many USA on line stores are 'do not ship to Mexico'. Service is good and quick. Wanted to get something from the UK but the cost of mailing/shipping was about 4x the cost of the item, no-go. Oh, the company would not ship, I was trying to get someone else to do it for me.


Beware online product reviews. Many companies pay people to bend the results of these. A recent study of comments on Nokia phones identified many IP addresses from Nokia and Microsoft!

As far as check-out droids go, there are 2 that stick in my mind. The first was when the little girl in front of me bought a chocolate bar and the register showed up more change than the money given to her. The little girl looked at the change, then the till, then the cashier before shrugging her shoulders and walking on with a look on her face that said 'if you are that stupid too bad'. The second, I paid 50 pesos but the checkera was yapping with a friend and rang up 500. She gave me change from that and carried on yapping. I thought 'If you can't pay that much attention to your job, too bad' and walked on.

One thing I noted on returning too the UK after a long trip to Latin America was how bad the checkouts were. The girl never made any sort of eye contact with me, in fact went out of her way to avoid it. The goods were just pushed to the end of the counter and I was left standing there waiting for them to be put in a bag. In LatAm, eye contact was the rule and it was always easy to get a big smile. The goods were packed for you and you were made to feel welcome for doing your shopping there. I don't know about the US but UK retail could learn a thing or two.


I think people are savvy enough to be aware of the fake reviews, and to spot them.

They definitely exist, and some companies are clearly paying people to post fake reviews. Others - book authors, for example - get their friends to post positive reviews for them. But they are easily spotted. Bad English (if the reviews have been outsourced to China), the reviews all coming from the same area (if they are friends of the author), the same review posted for multiple products, or few other reviews. (Having only one review used to be a red flag, so now some fake reviewers post another review, too, but they will rarely post more than that.)

I've come to like online reviews even more than Consumer Reports. Yes, you have to be aware of fakes, or people who just have an ax to grind or an atypical bad (or good) experience, but I think most people are savvy enough to understand that. Sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor tell you things Consumer Reports never can.

I often find that outlier bad reviews reveal more about the writer than the product...

UPS was so busy in our suburban neighborhood that they dropped employees off with hand carts and walked the blocks dropping off packages. My family did 95% of our shopping online this year. My once yearly trip to the mall reminded me again why I don't go.

One datapoint: 2 days ago my wife and I bought a 2012 Prius v precisely because of the mileage factor. It is EPA rated at 40 highway and 44 in-town MPG. In 3 trips over the last 2 days, we have averaged 50 MPG. The anticipated near-future rise in the price of gas motivated the purchase. On the Internet a lot of reviewers thought the vehicle was dull, boring, not fun to drive. I expect within the next few years that MPG is going to look awfully exciting to lot of people.

50mpg is pretty typical for my 2007. I thought the Prius II had EPA combines of 50 -up from a revised 46 for the II. But there are now several sizes, maybe the biggest one has lower mpg? BTW. your vehicle isn't broke in, milage should improve. Also you can train yourself to be a bit more efficient, try to maximize time with the engine off (in the older models you could instantly see it on the display, but that has totally changed).

The Lexus CT200h has similar mileage figures as the Prius V, and uses the same drivetrain. If you can get 50 out of the V, maybe I can get 50 out of the CT? It certainly has a nicer interior than the Prius, and is more gizmoey. The Volt has quite a bit more oomph to it though.

a lot of reviewers thought the vehicle was dull, boring, not fun to drive....

In 20 years time "convenient" and "affordable" might be the adjectives used to sell transportation instead of "fun" and "exciting"...although "at least it works" and "possible" might also be predominant.

Good to see that another TODer also bought a Prius v. I bought one last month (Prius v 3) to replace an old minivan. I was able to persuade my wife that there was no point in spending a lot of money moving around a large mass of metal for only one driver. So far its working out very well.

I have been tracking my fuel consumption on Fuelly: http://www.fuelly.com/driver/2sk21/prius-v

Note that the built-in fuel economy readings are a little optimistic. The Fuelly numbers are computed from actual fill up numbers.

*snerk* you can get those numbers without paying over 20k. the real world data of many smart fortwo's reach near that and above. even at that the design of the prius is sub optimal. mechanical transfer of power between the two undersized motor's? it would of been better if the car was powered by the electric motor with a smaller gas or diesel engine running a power generator to power the electric motors or charge the battery.

I found this chart of U.S. VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled)...I cannot vouch for its veracity.

Only thing wrong with the chart is that VMT has dropped even further since it was posted.

Latest data at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/tvt.cfm
Here's the latest chart through to end of October

Edit: Here's the latest UK chart from http://www2.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/roads/traff...

Successfully, as in steps taken to reduce the amount of oil consumed. We waste so much oil when simple choices can lead to significantly reduced consumption. I, for example, relocated my office to within a few miles of my home. We use scooters to get back and forth to work and for small runs to the grocery store. A few years ago my daily commute to work was 50 miles round trip. Now, I would be hard pressed to run up 50 miles a week. Next year we are planning additional steps to reduce our home heating and cooling costs by taking steps to further turn down or up the thermostat and wear more or fewer clothes depending on the season. I for one know I can continue to make personal choices that will not impact my quality of life but that will help me save on my energy bills. From this point forward, my plan is to take steps each year to further reduce consumption.

You're a good example of "successful" in this case.

"Demand destruction" can certainly be a good thing and is not necessarily always painful.

Paradoxically , the loss of a limb imposes an additional heavy demand on the victim in that he needs a larger than ever supply of highly nutritious food at least during the recovery period.

On a more relevant note, I have been amazed at the speed with which older model cars and trucks are disappearing from the roads around here.

The only two local people I know anymore who habitually drive really fuel inefficient vehicles lots of miles are two local mail carriers, which says something about the post office's ability to waste money.My first cousin the carrier drives an eighty four Impala with a three fifty (almost six liters) engine, and the route next by his is delivered with an old Jeep Cherokee.

Even my uncle who raked it in as a paving contractor and retired at the height of the boom seldom drives his trophy truck-a fully loaded f 250 diesel in showroom condition these days.He runs his errands now in his wifes compact Toyota.

Every last local has managed to scrape up enough money to either buy a smaller, newer, more efficient truck or car , or given up driving altogether.Most of them have kept their older larger cars and trucks though, for the occasional day when they are needed.

I find it cheaper to pay seven hundred hundred fifty dollars a year to keep our old 1997 full size Buick registered than it would be to rent a large car or hire a cab once or twice a month. We drive it so little that maintenance and repairs are trivial expenses.

Not to mention the police force. Around here the local police used to be found in Impalas or Grand Marquis. Inefficient to be sure but now all you see are these huge, intimidating looking Suburbans.

There's no reason the police need anything other than a 4 cylinder turbo diesel compact.

All of this paid for by our property taxes. Ain't America grand.

When I was in public works I was responsible for fleet maintenance. One of my questions to my mechanics and the police chief was why police vehicles were so large. Back then the Impalas and Crown Vics were the normal choice because only GM and Ford offered what was called "the police package." That included a large motor with quick acceleration, rotational spotlights, separation between the front and back seats, large trunks with security locks, and a number of other speciality items. One year our commission caved into a bidder with a smaller vehicle. It did not go well. The units did not hold up to 24 hour use and the hard driving. Also, drunks didn't fit into the back seat very well. I think the officers tried to wreck them on purpose!

Now that SUVs are available, some rural and suburban law enforcement agencies use them more. I don't see many in large urban departments, but I'm not in public works anymore and don't pay as much attention. I do question the use of a compact in law enforcement, unless you want to get close and personal with the person you are taking to jail.

Our local and state police use pickups. The load bay is fitted with a large roll cage that is also good for leaning on, with assault rifle at the ready. As far as perps go, there are 3 very basic metal seats in the back, back to the cab, that they can be manacled to and strapped down. Additional perps can be piled in the back as required, 8 or 10 quite easily. If you get rounded up, make sure you are in the first 3.


Nice work on info. and graph, Ron.

Link up top:Author Daniel Yergin on U.S. Need for a 'Diversified Energy Portfolio'

Jeffrey Brown discusses the ongoing hunt for untapped reserves of energy and how the demand for energy has shaped political and economic change around the globe with Daniel Yergin...

More of the same from Yergin, and this is not our Jeffrey Brown, this guy is a PBS commentator. Both Yergin and Brown continue to equate Peak Oil with "running out of oil." To Brown's credit he does bring up the continuing rise in the difficulty of finding oil but Yergin just brushes it off. Yergin stresses that North Dakota is not the fourth largest producing state.

Climate change comes up in the discussion and Yergin says it is a concern and has to be managed. But he says much of his book is about technology and finding technologies that provide answers. We have been doing that for two and one half centuries and he has an optimistic frame of mind. In other words, according to Yergin, technology will fix our climate change problems.

Ron P.

My question to Yergin is: How?

How will technology hampered by:

1) climate change denial, and

2) seriously compromised by a government controlled by fossil fuel interests

find capital to de-couple us from carbon?

I simply do not see it.

I saw the "News Hour" piece with Daniel Yergin. He hedged quite a bit on the peak oil question. He said that we were not "physically running out of oil." He was careful not to argue with facts. Mr. Yergin is great at shadow boxing, ignoring data and recent peak oil discussion, winning yesterday's arguments.

I saw the interview - seems like it is more about selling Mr Yergin's book than any rational argument for or against Peak Oil.

It's definitely worth reading the opening link in this drumbeat, Bloomberg's overview of
US nat gas production. There is sometimes a bias on this site to discount the role of technology in shaping our energy future. One doesnt' have to accept the framing of shale gas as a "revolution," but the combination of improved seismic, much improved frac'ing, and horizontal drilling has dramatically changed the energy landscape. As a thought experiment: if it were possible to strip out production due to technology developed since 1990, what might US oil and gas production look like today? The short answer is that it would look pretty friggin bleak. If shale gas is providing 30% of US gas supply, then by implication US nat gas prices would likely be significantly higher in their absence, and depletion dynamics would be receiving much more attention. Depletion, of course, remains a huge concern but it is momentarily eclipsed. The OGJ had a good article in a recent issue discussing the Haynesville. Bottom line: about 500 wells are needed to be drilled next year just to keep production from that area stable. Shale gas contributions are subject to a somewhat perplexing mathematical dynamic that mirrors the abrupt production curves we see in these wells. In other words, the current "the sky's the limit" framework will eventually need to acknowledge how, going forward, new wells in those plays will increasingly be needed to offset the declines of older ones, "older" here being 3 years.

Regardless of how many holes are drilled each year to pump out the Black Death, and those that tap into the Gas Farts of the Shale Zones, it is still a bridge to nowhere and will only prolong the time a little to the day of reckoning.

It's really Mumbo Jumbo about how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I guess it keeps some folks occupied. Such a waste of Brain time in the wrong direction.
Biology needs no technology to function.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian


I'm skimming Yergin's book right now. It reads like an assemblage of 400 USA Today articles, but there are some sections that I find value in.

However, his discussion of peak oil is absolutely maddening. As you note, he defines it as "running out," then dismisses it without a chart or really any facts at all, other than to say we've run out 5 times before.

I'd be happy if Yergin happily weighed some evidence, looked at peak exports, described how concentrated oil production is, toted up gainers and decliners, and then came down on the side of cautious optimism, but his happy talk approach to this, when he's the "foremost energy historian" seems, well, like malpractice or propaganda, take your pick.

Yergin's much much lengthier discussion of climate is equally light; one wonders where's the beef?



FYI, Yergin & CERA hit "Peak Optimism" in 2005.



As you note, he defines it as "running out," then dismisses it without a chart or really any facts at all, other than to say we've run out 5 times before.

It must be added that this is an extremely effective position for him to start with. And brings into a nice context how we should carefully treat the most recent claims of same.

As you note, he defines it as "running out," then dismisses it without a chart or really any facts at all, other than to say we've run out 5 times before.

The argument that "we're never going to run out (or peak) because people in past have predicted that oil would run out (or peak) but didn't" is completely illogical. I don't understand why this line or argument is effective.

Unless you understand why a predicted event didn't occur, you cannot draw any conclusions from the false prediction. Oil production isn't going to continue increasing just because someone predicted a peak in the past but was wrong. Oil production will peak primarily because it's a finite resource. The timing of the peak is dependent on factors such as: (1) how fast existing oil fields deplete, (2) the size and geology of future oil field discoveries, (3) the price of oil that the world economy can handle, etc.

The argument that "we're never going to run out (or peak) because people in past have predicted that oil would run out (or peak) but didn't" is completely illogical. I don't understand why this line or argument is effective.

It puts the other side in the position of immediately playing against the little boy who cried wolf scenario, which is easy for any third party to understand. And means that a distinction must be drawn between the most current claim, and all the others. Which peak oil theory tends to suck at, technically speaking.

The timing of the peak is dependent on factors such as: (1) how fast existing oil fields deplete, (2) the size and geology of future oil field discoveries, (3) the price of oil that the world economy can handle, etc.

Hubbert, in 1956, did not make it so complex. He utilized trendology. Your recitation is more of a bottom up analysis, which wasn't what Hubbert did. He just added everything up, and talked about the aggregate.

There were a couple of posters on TOD who, ~last Nov/Dec, made some confident-sounding dire warnings that we would start down a noticeable slope off the oil production plateaus...one stated that he thought TSWHTF by late Spring 2011, and another said that this was very likely NLT Dec 2011.

Predictions are tough...

Of course, oil must be finite, and we must experience a signicant decline off the production plateau at some point, but when?

Last year at this time I threw in my two cents and guessed the noticeable/significant/major decline would begin ~ 2020-2025.

I freely admit that I have no real basis for this guess, just took a stab based on everthing I read to-date at that time.

The significant decline could manifest by this time next year for all I know...but I would be very surprise if it hasn't occurred by ~ 2020.

Until it happens, the cornocopians have most folks convinced by playing the 'boy who cried wolf' card.

Sure. They go with what works. But just because someone doesn't agree with a close in time frame doesn't make them cornucopian. Yergin talks about a peak in oil production, just not in the same timeframe as most of those who consider themselves "peakers". Disputes in when a certain event will happen isn't the correct criteria for distinguishing cornucopian from peaker. It just means his models are different.

In 2013 we will be halfway between Colin Campbell's 1990 peak oil call, and the 2037 EIA peak oil call. After 2013, we will be closer to what was once dismissed at a ludicrious estimate, than we will the first peak oil claim of the modern peak era. Like you said, predictions are tough, but for the EIA one to be closer to reality than the Godfather of Modern Peakerism is pretty damn funny.

It all depends on what you call "oil", but according to the IEA (not EIA) the peak in "conventional crude oil" happened back in 2006.

Since then we've had a bumpy plateau in the total "liquids". We havn't seen a definite decline yet, at least not one that cannot be explained away by the "recession" (and therefore considered temporary). But we have seen a lot of events (financial difficulties) that _may_ be the result of the peak.

If you factor in the gradual decline in EROI, it is very likely that the net amount of oil (and "liquids") available to the global society for purposes other than energy "production" has been declining since 2005 if not earlier.

If you factor in the gradual decline in EROI, it is very likely that the net amount of oil (and "liquids") available to the global society for purposes other than energy "production" has been declining since 2005 if not earlier.

Thx for bringing this up. As I often point out, including NGLs & ethanol, which have roughly 2/3rds the energy content of crude, skews the numbers more each year as their percentage of 'total liquids' increases. And that says nothing of the declining EROEI of crude itself, as we frack away and drill in ever-deeper water, in ever-smaller fields, for lesser and lesser return.

On the "boy who cried wolf".... Some years ago I was doing some consulting
on climate change communication strategies. A PR firm pointed out to our team that...

* most people aren't particularly analytical or numerate, and thus

* when faced with a controversial or complicated issue about which they lack an informed opinion they default to a "story" they are familiar with...

* often these stories can be captured in a fairy tale. with peak oil boy who cried wolf,

* with climate change, if your bias is to reject it, Chicken Little works quite well for the Grand Old Party,

For what it's worth, this same PR firm suggested Little Engine That Could as an alternate story line for climate activism.

My belief is that greens have focused too much on "emissions," or exhaust, rather than forcefully describing the new energy system that is called for.

Hi rudall.

* when faced with a controversial or complicated issue about which they lack an informed opinion they default to a "story" they are familiar with...

* often these stories can be captured in a fairy tale. with peak oil boy who cried wolf,

I think the story we should rally for is "The Three Little Pigs." A tale of the importance of preparation for future contingencies.

The first little pig bought a Suburban and a McMansion in Vegas...


Yes... except, houses made of straw (and other seemingly less-than-strong-and-solid materials) are actually one good response to our energy predicament. We are enjoying incorporating natural materials - clay/straw/sand in various combinations - as much as possible as we renovate our stick-built house (2nd pig, as I recall) into a more massive, passive solar edifice. 3rd pig was brick, and we are putting in as much adobe for thermal mass as we can.

Sorry to hijack your metaphorical point, with which I agree. Just saw an oppt'y to jump in with a plug for natural building materials.

I think the world's largest oil producer, Russia, peaked this year. Non-OPEC's third largest producer, China, also likely peaked this year. Kazakhstan likely peaked this year also. Azerbaijan almost definitely peaked last year.

We will, I believe, stay on the current plateau for no more than one more year. I predicted a couple of years ago that the decline would start at about mid 2012. I don't think I am far off.

Of course it depends just as much on politics as on geology. There is serious conflict going on right now in many oil producing nations.

Anyway the decline in 2012 will only be slight if it happens at all. But by 2015 the decline will start to get steep.

That's my two cents worth, for what it's worth.

Ron P.

Kazakhstan likely peaked this year also

With Kashagan Phase I (450,000 b/day from memory) scheduled in mid-2013 - NO WAY did Kazakhstan peak this year.


I think the big takeaway is that we (our 'leaders'...Pres/Congress/captains of industry) should be using our extremely limited time to mentally prep the masses for the imminent new reality...true prepping (starting with a much more effective campaign to reduce population growth) needed to launch off in overdrive at least 40 years ago, IMO,...but at least at this super-late hour prople's expectations could be managed...

Invariant to whether the fall off from the plateau is next year, 2015, 2020, or 2025...


The EIA figures does not show any evidence that Russia has peaked this year. It is quite clear that they reached a plateau. Difficult to guess how much time will they stay at this production level.
For China I don t know, obviously the prod has decreased since july, but from what I know that was because one of the offshore plateform had a problem and was turned off for few months. Anyway China is close to peak for sure.
I think crude oil production can still increase in the next 2 or 3 years. There are still some significant increases that could come from the US ( not for a very long time), south america, Irak, Lybia. I see a peak startin around 2015 and a sharp decline after 2020.


The EIA figures does not show any evidence that Russia has peaked this year.

The EIA is predicting that Russia peaked this year. Non-OPEC Crude Oil and Liquid Fuels Production Growth

        2009	2010	2011	2012		2010	2011	2012
Russia	9.93	10.14	10.26	10.09		0.205	0.120	-0.169

The EIA predictions are usually very optimistic. They are predicting that non-OPEC will grow by 1.156 mb/d next year. They made a very similar prediction last year but non-OPEC production last year. But JODI numbers will show non-OPEC crude+condensate down between .4 and.5 bp/d this year. The EIA figures will likely show non-OPEC C+C down about .1 to .2 bp/d this year.

The EIA is predicting China to increase all liquids production next year by .16 mb/d. I think that is extremely unlikely. They are also predicting that the North Sea production will be up next year. That is just flat not going to happen. (Aldous is not scheduled to come on line for three or four more years.) Keep in mind that these EIA predictions are all liquids. And even the EIA would conceed that most of the growth, if any, will be in NGLs.

Ron P.

If peak is max production, then reaching a final plateau is to have reached peak. Peak doesn't (necessarily) mean a precipitous drop on the other side. Peak means max, whether that max is sustained for a month or a decade or more. If it's not surpassed, it's the peak.

And when you say that 'crude oil production can still increase' for 2-3 more years, do you mean C+C, which has been on a plateau since 2004, so is already not 'still increasing', or do you mean 'total liquids', which is an obfuscation?

Ron, Clif,

OK, I just meant that Russia reaching a plateau in 2011 does not mean that the world production will start declining in 2012.
And I was talking about C+C. C+C is on a plateau since 2004, and non-OPEC C+C production is flat on the same period, around 42-43 Mb/d. This does not mean that it cannot increase (a little bit in my views) during the next few years.

I think non OPEC prod can stay flat (or even slightly increase) a few years more, with the developments in both north and south americas. For OPEC, it is much more complicated to forecast, because there may be a downward adjustment of their prod if the global economy falls into recession.
But OPEC still have the possibility to increase its production compared to 2011 (Lybia oil prod will increase in 2012 for sure, Irak production is slowly increasing, no sign of downfall in KSA, Kuwait and UAE, the big question however is Iran), which can be already seen in the lastest figures from OPEC (November prod).

In my opinion EIA and IAE are way too optimistic when they forecast long term production. I am not sure they are that wrong when they look at very short term. I don't know if anyone has already made the exercise to compare their short term forecasts (one year) with what really happened but that would be interresting.


I don't know if anyone has already made the exercise to compare their short term forecasts (one year) with what really happened but that would be interresting.

I just happened to save their predictions made in Dec. 2007. The numbers in bold are "already produced". The 2007 figures were revised upward in 2008.

                        2005	2006	2007	2008	2009
Total non-OPEC liquids 48.55	48.77	49.35	50.21	51.76
Actual production                       50.18   49.81   50.47

They were only .4 mb/d too high for 2008 but were 1.29 mb/d too high for 2009. Understand this is "All Liquids".

Ron P.

Thanks Ron.

By the way I just found this report :


It is a bit old (2009), but I think it is one of the first "government" reports forecasting a plateau in oil supply followed by a sharp decline before 2020 (they forecast 2017 I think).

cliffy - I view it the same as you. All depends on how you scale the plot. Also PO it P"O" to me also...not PC&C, not PImport etc. Not that those other metrics aren't important...just different implications. It's becoming clear to me that Peak Plateau has greater implication than PO. Despite all the cutesy Chevron adds to the contrary all the players know where we are right now. The plateau isn't so much about oil production rate but the vulnerability of the economies to above ground factors. Back in Gulf War I losing Iraq and Kuwait didn't cripple the world long term. Imagine if Iran oil disappeared tomorrow. And if we weren’t plateaued would much attention be paid to China’s increased consumption or locking up future reserves?

Look at the projection of the increased production from the new multibillion bbl Norwigian discovery. The field is a cornucopian’s wet dream. And yet it doesn’t even come close to returning Norway’s peak. Hardly replaces their decline loss. And what does it do for the rest of the world? Just one more bump on the plateau IMHO. I suspect the uptick in rate from the fracture shale plays will also look like a similar bump in the PO road when viewed in a distant rear view mirror.

Despite the deniers I think the discussion is well beyond PO or no PO. Now it might be better to focus on PE…peak economy. Just like PO, PE varies with location. Obviously, many counties reached PE long ago. Some are perhaps facing the realities of their PE today. And others should be anticipating their future PE. And it’s how the different societies react to PE that will have obviously huge impacts on life. Between social unrest, military adventures and political drama folks may lose sight of the base cause: an ultimate limited supply of relatively cheap energy.

Regarding Peak Economy.

A nation such as France (Peak Oil Imports 2001, down about 11% since then - and the pace of decline should increase# above -1%/year this decade) has the possibility of modest increases in it's effective economy as it's oil imports decline.

Sweden is talking of going oil free in a couple of decades.

Increased efficiency > higher Peak Economy IMO.

Best Hopes for France, Sweden and those that prepare,


# France is building 1,500 km of new tram lines this decade, at least one new line in every town of 110,000 & larger. Cost 22 billion euros.

Paris is going to almost double it's Metro (subway)n system 2013-2025. 2 million projected new riders/weekday at an average time savings of 20 minutes/rider. Most will coem from buses, but many from cars.

French towns have Urban Growth Boundaries to prevent sprawl.

From 2000-2010, bicycling's share of urban trips went from 1% to 6% and they are doing a number of investments and policy changes to increase this to 10%.

TGV was built "one line at a time" for three decades. Now they are working on three lines at once.

Every meter of French rail is supposed to be electrified by 2025 - and they are doubling the % of freight by rail as well.

Renault-Nissan is a leader in EVs, with the Leaf as the first major product on the market.

I wonder how adding/substituting all this heavy electrically operated stuff will work out for them if they go anti-nuclear because of Fukushima?

Your question assumes Fission Power is the choice.

Is that a valid assumption?

In France, nuclear power is already (largely) the choice for electricity. Therein lies the rub. And it's not like they've got, say, a huge surplus of yet-to-be exploited hydropower.

The whole point of TOD is to examine what was working in the past isn't going to work in the future.

Just because France has reactors now doesn't mean they should in the future.

And it's not like they've got, say, a huge surplus of yet-to-be exploited hydropower.

Gosh, if only there was sunshine in France.

It's all going to the grapes...

I am a french engineer in railway. But you know I have some doubts about the efficiency of our strategy regarding railways.
High speed railways have been developped to a huge cost. The debt of the french railway owner is 25 billions of euros. It is now so big that clearly high speed program will slow down in the future. I think a part of the most recent railways have shown very small economic rate of return ( including externalities such as oil and pollution savings).
Electrifying the whole network is also a mistake, even if you see it on the peak oil side. A large amount of our network carries very little traffic. Electrifying these railways does not make any sense : it costs something around 1 million euros per km of track, when on the other side you save very little oil, because you carry such a small traffic. The result is that the cost of the carbon dioxydie savings from electrifying small railways is far above 1000 euros per ton. With such a money we had bette investing in building isolation or any other measure that would be mich more efficient. Railways have very high fixed costs, and a lot of our network carries much too small traffic, and has therefore no economic sense. Buses would do the job for a much smaller costs.
The same applies to tramway. We are building tramways everywhere in France. Some of them are nonsense.
Regarding freight, the situation has been deteriorating during the last 30 years, because the priority has been given to passenger traffic. The gvt has formulated high objectives regarding the market share of rail for year 2020. That is just politics. Nobody believes it.
Regarding urban transportation, building infra is a part of the solution to accomodate with peak oil, but the first thing that must be done is high density cities. Without density, public transportation are totally unefficient.

Please contact me at alan_drake at ju no period conn (adjusted to normal address).

I tend to agree with you regarding electrifying lightly used rail lines. The counter argument by SBB is that 100% electrified saves with commonality. One type of locomotive and not two, no diesel fuel handling, etc.

I think that any line that gets 5 or fewer freight trains/day is likely not worth electrifying in the North American context (we have too few passenger trains to count). First I want to electrify a rail line that has 100 trains/day (and a typically train has 200 to 250 40' to 53' containers or the equal in other freight).

25 billion euros of debt is not so much for the strategic advantage TGV gives France.

And SCNF has a bad reputation for freight. The British blame the failure of the Chunnel on them.

I have followed the trams in the small town of Mulhouse - and they appear ot be getting excellent ridership there.

In a massive program like France's tram building, certainly a couple of tram lines will disappoint - but many more will supply attractive oil free transportation.

I am curious which ones specifically that you consider a waste of resources ?

More later.

Joyeux Noël !


Have you ridden or are you planning on riding the new (3 y.o. tomorrow) light rail while you are in Phoenix?

I have ridden it the last two years and will likely do so again this year.

"Consultants" obviously made some of the over built infrastructure designs.

Best Hopes for more Phoenix Light Rail,


You bet. Too bad they didn't go for it when Goddard was pushing it back in the mid-80's. The eastern end of the light rail line (at Sycamore) was the Red Line bus stop that I used to board when leaving for Arizona State in the AM (back in the mid-90's). When I was riding it it ran every half hour, and was packed to the gills (not just standing room only, cheek-to-jowl) during early am. There were people riding that line who spent 3 hours each way on the bus. It was about 3/4ths of a mile to the stop, but the other bus line that I crossed ran only once an hour and was arbitrarily timed (round hour end of line) so that you were 10 minutes late (or 50 minutes early) for class if you rode that line. The light rail trims its 20 mile route from 85 to 65 minutes (and at rush hour that's really from 100 to 65). I'm hopeful at some point they might raise the speed limit along the route to reduce trip time.

Its a combination of strawman, and ad-hominem. The straw man is the fool who made the previous prediction. And the ad-hominem is comparing the author to the strawman. Without a debate moderator enforcing reasonable epistemology on a debate, these sorts of attacks can be psychologically devastating. And our media has decided that imposing any sort of logical fallacy checking or fact checking ruins the entertainment value, and gives intellectual elites an unfair advantage.

Its a combination of strawman, and ad-hominem. The straw man is the fool who made the previous prediction. And the ad-hominem is comparing the author to the strawman.

It is even worse than that. It is also factual. You want peak oil? Go make a graph of global oil production through 1983, and stop it right there. At that point in time, from right there, you can scream at the top of your lungs that peak oil has arrived. No plateau, no conventional versus all liquids versus heavy versus unconventional waffling CYA language, just what Hubbert predicted, a nice peak, and a substantial decline. in 1983 you can even claim that the decline is terminal.

Presto. Peak oil, not predicted, but actual. That doesn't require a straw man or an ad-hominem behind it. Just a graph. Want to bet Yergin has more examples than just the easiest, and most recent, to work with?

Is There a Rooftop Solar Bubble?
And Is It About to Burst?

Government efforts to boost affordability and expectations of unsustainably high investment returns generated a boom market that’s destined to crash.

[Net metering] would make economic sense if the rates a utility charged its customers for electricity consumption were designed to cover the cost of electricity generation exclusively. But that’s not how it works. Instead, prevailing rates typically bundle charges to cover the costs of maintaining a reliable electric grid and other, regulator-imposed burdens, like energy efficiency investments. So solar customers get paid by the utility for supplying grid services that the utility, in fact, provides at considerable cost, and that they, in fact, consume.

What’s more, residential solar customers often rely on the electric grid more than non-generating customers. They use it as a virtual batteryto store their solar electricity that is generated mostly during the day but demanded by the household mostly at night. If they offset their electricity imports from the grid at night with solar electricity exports to the grid during the day, then they pay nothing for the grid, instead shifting the costs to non-generating households generally of lesser means.
With a revenue-neutral network-use charge, the utility proposes to assess a fee per unit of electricity transmitted across the grid either to import electricity from the grid, or export solar electricity to the grid.

More fun in the sun from California.

Mountains out of molehills. California's Total Electricity System Power breakdown. 0.3% solar, of which only a fraction falls into the category being discussed? Huge problem, HUGE!

It's like discussions regarding intermittent sources over-stressing the grids. We're nowhere near that point, and the way things are going will likely never be.

...but thanks for the heads up. One wonders what the motivation is for (who's actually behind) this non-issue.

While it may not be a real isue now if it is indeed only 0.3%, it will be much easier to craft a workable solution now than years later when it (hopefully) is 20% or more, and really is a huge issue.

There are many details like that that need addressed, but we should not let them get in the way of implementing the needed changes.

Since utilities are able to resell much of this energy at peak rates, and can use this to meet their green energy requirements, it seems they are already being compensated. It also offsets costs of capacity expansion. My main point is that we have much more pressing issues. If this setup costs the average user a few cents on their bill, I submit that this is offset by the benefits realized. The outages such as we saw in SoCal this summer likely cost them much more.

Since I'm off-grid, this sort of thing really doesn't apply to me. Perhaps grid weenies should compensate me for all the pollution and waste they create :-/

In some places it as an issue. In Hawaii, where the fuel used for electricity is expensive oil, PV is a big saver for consumers, but the power companies are able to make approval difficult. One reason is called islanding, if 15% or more of the local grid is PV (or some other noncentral power source) and there is a power failure, will the inverters get the message and shut down? It can (at will) be solved by smarter interconnection technology. But, for now it is a reason to deny approvals.

Anti-islanding technology has been incorporated into approved inverters for years, the same as in backup generators

Although I have some qualms about possible low proability islanding events due to interaction between many and varied inverters, with other DG and load, the utility industry at this time typically rubber stamps that part of the interconnection review for approved inverters, as you say.

The anti-islanding techniques used in PV inverters are actually grid-destabilizing at a macro level (pretty much exactly the opposite of what is required for large generators now) if penetration ever gets high enough. There are other concerns with high penetration which will become active first.

The anti-islanding techniques used in PV inverters are actually grid-destabilizing at a macro level (pretty much exactly the opposite of what is required for large generators now) if penetration ever gets high enough.

Can you elaborate on that? Certainly isn;t what the inverter makers claim.

No question the inverter has enabled lots of small DG technologies, and the latest, and very interesting one I have heard about is this 100kWe natural gas CHP unit, specifically set up with inverters for grid tie;


If you could change the characteristics of the GT inverters, what would you change?

30MW scale generators in the Western Interconnection are required to have Power System Stabilizers


which are a part of the control system which dampens small scale power system perturbation.

At least some of the grid-tie-inverters do exactly the opposite (perturb the system to detect system response).

I have seen a technical paper showing that this problem could theoretically become large enough to make the difference between grid collapse and grid stability during excursions. It isn't a near term concern.

My immediate concern for moderate levels of inverter based generator penetration is voltage and VAR control schema (active voltage control is not allowed by the UL/IEEE standards, as it might reduce anti-islanding sensitivity, however volt/VAR schedules can and must be required in many cases). I take some credit for accelerating the use of VAR capable inverters on PV in the U.S. thru interconnection requirement enforcement (Europe was ahead of us, and I wasn't the only one here doing the same thing, but a big wave of MW-scale generator applicants claiming they couldn't and didn't need to be able to buck VAR's in their inverters ran directly into me back before these were commercially available in the U.S., a few months later all the mfg's were offering them here) However, the mere capability is not enough. At present, all I can do is require generators to follow a VAR schedule based on generator output and time, and the logic isn't built into the inverters AFAIK. More sophisticated schemes (or perhaps centrally controlled setting adjustment) are needed.

A (farther down the road) grid problem relates to central plant inverter based generation (utility scale PV) or higher penetration of DG. Right now, the approach we take with DG (not just inverter based), is to disconnect it from the system at the first sign of trouble (as an example, we shed DG for underfrequency (potentially worsening underfrequency) before load shedding happens). For small amounts of DG, or distribution connected DG, that makes dealing with the fact that the grid isn't designed for it to be there easier. The problem arises as the penetration levels go up, and cutting all of your DG or inverter based generation loose starts to become a major contingency. You want major gen to hang in and try to pull the system thru, but at the same time, if you want the DG generation to hang in during major grid events, you end up needing the extra architecture for minor local events that you have it on hair-trigger to avoid now. The biggest cost driven would probably be dedicated fiber comm for protection. Low latency, high speed wireless communication use in protection probably can solve this, but it's not a mature or accepted technology application at present.

In your opinion, do you prefer utility scale PV to residential/commercial rooftops? I would think the larger installations can accomodate more sophiticated control schemes, possibly even including a small amount of storage to smooth out start/stop transients. Gneerally people at TOD don't like utility scale (it should be rooftops instead). I've seen plots of quarterly install rates (almost .5GW last quarter), and residential seems stalled at about 60MW/quarter, if we didn't have utility scale PV, then we would indeed be a small market... In facts hopes for nearterm demand growth to pull the undustry out of its current loss making state is dominated by the US and China.

For PV, I like MW scale on warehouse rooftops. Utility scale is bad land use policy IMO (and more so than for other gen technologies, for the land to be cheap enough it tends to have to be far from the loads, increasing grid costs). Residential scale has higher costs per W. Most of the technical problems I see can be worked out if the economics ever make high penetration cost-effective, it will just mean higher grid costs to integrate PV. Right now it's almost just "plug it in" for the first MW or two per distribution feeder of grid-tie PV installed in urban areas on rooftops. I don't see PV ever being more than a peak-shaving (20 percent or less) contribution to total electrical generation at a grid level. If the capital cost got lower than I can imagine (even with free panels it'd be too high today), I might change my mind. We already have folks building curtailment schemes (simple inverter control logic) into their 10MW scale PV to reduce output under transmission constraints. That only makes sense (today) with other people's money and free land.

This is an issue in Germany now. The problem is very local. In a partly cloudy sky the power gown up and down very fast. This makes the network very difficult to balance. Interconnection to other network does not help much.

Voltage regulation and flicker on individual distribution circuits due to this phenomenon is already becoming an issue in the U.S. where local PV penetration is not low.

What about those who export more to the grid than they import? Are those non-generating customers shifting their costs to the solar customers?


Net metering is a strong subsidy which will not scale to high penetration levels, but at low penetration levels much of the value provided is created (the customer receives value at no cost to anyone) and the rest is shifted (it doesn't actually cost the utility extra, it just spreads costs across a smaller revenue base). In California, grid penetration by NEM is capped so that the subsidy doesn't get to be too large a burden for the other ratepayers, although the cap could be raised as other such caps have been. The state installation subsidies are declining (by design). We aren't seeing any slow down in applications due to the declining cost of PV panels. While they still exist it is unlikely that the NEM subsidy will be limited.

The basic idea behind PV subsidy is that it will create a self-perpetuating market. While I disagree that the current format is the most cost-effective way to do this, it does seem to be working to the extent that gross prices are declining.

I know how we can save thousands of gallons of gas and speed up traffic! I think this is pretty low-hanging fruit that we should look into.

Ever sit at a light for no reason? Like maybe a pedestrian has pushed the button to light the crosswalk signal, but they are an agile young person who makes it across in less than half the time the light allows them. So you spend most of that light sitting for no reason. Idling. Polluting. Wasting time.

Idea #1: Put another button on the other side of the street that the pedestrian can push that has the effect of telling the light “Thank you for stopping the traffic for me, but I have made it safely to the other side and you can let them go now”. If everyone followed the rules, this could even work to allow very slow people to have the time they need, if the light waits every time for the second button (up to a point, naturally).

But my main impetus for this post is Idea #2, which may not work because everyone Doesn’t follow the rules.

Last time I was in Berlin I asked my host why the traffic lights cycle from green to yellow to red to yellow to green. What’s that second yellow for? Apparently, when the light turns from red to yellow, that’s your cue to depress the clutch and put the vehicle into gear. It’s expected that when the light turns green, you’re outta there, as it should be.

Ever sit at a light for no reason? Well, I do every working day. Why? The lights on my commute are programmed so that all four directions have a red light for about 3 seconds. Presumably, this is to prevent accidents from red light (or yellow light) runners.

Come on people! I think people are just ignorant from the poor quality of driver’s education in this country. If you didn’t know, a yellow light doesn’t mean “speed up, you have to get through the light before it turns red!”, a yellow light means “STOP, if you can”.

I think just looking at it this way changes everything. When you think it means “hurry”, the game is to make it though the light. When you flip it to “stop, if you think you can” it puts the challenge on the driver the other way. Come on big boy, you think you’re good enough to stop without crossing the line? And the way they’re timed, usually you can.

So, I sit there at these lights, red in all directions, and I just think it would be better if at least one direction had a green light at all times. Can’t we work that out like the Germans do?

I look at all the vehicles idling. Lots of big pickups ‘round here. I know a vehicle at idle for an extra three seconds is pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things. But when you think about ALL the vehicles that are idling at lights RIGHT NOW, it’s got to be thousands. And in a few minutes when the light cycles through there will be thousands more. All day long. So thousands times thousands times “trivial” probably adds up to something measurable.

And all we have to do is slightly change our behavior (i.e., actually follow the existing law). More green lights means more people wouldn’t have to stop at all, which is huge energy wise (I ride a bike so I know how true this is).

So, is this just the lowest hanging fruit you’ve ever seen? Seems to me like no cost and some benefit. Or is this an example of why we’re doomed, because asking an American to change their behavior (especially when it comes to driving) is a non-starter?

Yes, there are some efficiencies to be gained by such schemes, but the main question is: Why were you in a car in the first place. Really, our traffic policies should aim to make it so annoying to drive that people give up and take a train, bus, bike, car pool or walk.

Guilty as charged.

I was car-free for about 4 years, so I know I can do it. But when my mom died, I decided to keep her car.

Why? Because it's about the same cost, it's more convienient to drive on MY schedule, and driving takes half the time.

I'd never get to work ,period . and I'm in the UK which is miles better with local transport

be outta work - fine

so long as theres enough petrol for the molatov ......



1, yes I love my car - the most fantastic invention ever - gets my sick daughter to hospital

2, The ICE gets these guys a good life - you never get one of this lot on a push bike - remember that guys


" .. our traffic policies should aim to make it so annoying to drive that people give up and take a train, bus, bike, car pool or walk."

3, remember them when the STHTF ( yes I have skin in that game)

4, the rich will still be driving what ever happens

( sorry I appologize, ignore me , - too many glasses of wine and the knowledge of what will happen to those less fortunate than ourselves, of what the peak will really mean, if you see what I mean..... )

"gets my sick daughter to hospital"

Exactly why we shouldn't be using so much of that precious petrol on more stupid pursuits--when we really need it for the crucial stuff, it won't be there for us.

Best wishes on an ever-more constrained future.

At least our finest protectors of law and order are not equipped with 'overkill' kit...

Oh wait, they are!


The neocon's militarization of post 9-11 society has been a fabulously bad idea.

Note when one reads the linked article that the MIC contractors are happily arming all the police, from the finest officers to the Barney Fifes, with all kinds of (unneeded) gear which serves an an excellent vesicle to transfer taxpayer and debt money form the Feds to the contractors.

Note how easy it is for some police to pull the triggers on the tasers and pepper spray...occasionally just to be sadistic, such as that piece of work who sprayed the sitting college students.

pepper spray...occasionally just to be sadistic


The District 21 Medical Examiner ruled his death was a homicide because he had been restrained and sprayed with pepper sprayed by law enforcement officers. But to this day, nobody has ever been charged with a crime, and the Lee County State Attorney cleared the sheriff's office of any wrong doing.

This guy was apparently taking the only route he could find - a route which took him dangerously close to traffic. There was no footpath available. This, and the cops remarks, show just how completely, thoroughly, based on car ownership America has become. Driving a car is something that every independent adult is just supposed to do in most of the country. But it can't last. The cultural shock when cars become unaffordable for the majority is going to be profound.

I think this is a good idea. Idling vehicles do use a lot of gas. However, it should be noted that high-speed start/stop feature for engines is increasingly become common in recent cars. The Prius does this of course but to my surprise, I saw that even BMW is offering this feature in new models: http://www.bmw.com/com/en/insights/technology/technology_guide/articles/...

A clever way to save fuel: the Auto Start Stop function turns off the engine each time the vehicle comes to a complete halt - such as at traffic lights - and restarts it automatically. A reduction in fuel consumption is the result.
The principle is simple: if the engine is not running, it cannot consume fuel. The Auto Start Stop function turns off the engine whenever it is not needed. In a traffic jam or in stop-and-go traffic, simply putting your BMW into neutral and taking your foot from the clutch will activate the function. "Start Stop" on the Info Display signals that the engine has been turned off.
To set off again, just put your BMW back into gear: the moment you depress the clutch, the engine immediately springs back to life and you can drive on without a moment's delay.
Driving comfort and driving safety are not affected by the Auto Start Stop function. The function is not activated, for example, until the engine has reached the ideal running temperature. The same applies if the air conditioner has not yet brought the cabin to the desired temperature, if the battery is not adequately charged or if the driver moves the steering wheel.
The Auto Start Stop function is coordinated by a central control unit that monitors data from all relevant sensors, the starter motor and the alternator. If necessary for comfort or safety, the control unit will automatically restart the engine: for example, if the vehicle begins to roll, the battery charge falls too low or condensation forms on the windscreen.
Furthermore, the system also recognises the difference between a temporary stop and the end of the trip. It will not restart the engine if driver's seatbelt is undone, or if the door or bonnet is open. If desired, the Auto Start Stop function can be completely deactivated with the press of a button.
When used consistently, the Auto Start Stop function delivers significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

You make a valid point, as far as it goes...Albuquerque used to have many if its left-hand turning arrows and some of its through green lights set to ridiculously short times...apparently these were magically reset from simply inadequate short times to ridiculously short times after the red light automatic ticketing cameras were installed. Of course folks were going to run the left arrow reds when they sat for quite a while and the green arrow was on long enough to let maybe three cars in front of them turn!

Amazingly, we managed to get rid of some/most of these red light cameras, and more amazingly, the length of the green lights, especially the turn arrows, were lengthened, and fewer people run red left arrows now.
But...we have numerous intersections where folks can sit for ~ 2minutes (that is a long time) waiting for a left turn arrow, even when the cross street has had /zero/ traffic! And yes, there are sensor loops, I can see the tar outlining where they were buried in the street...but perhaps they are insensitive to just one vehicle?

Lots of seeming little things add up...under-tire inflation...jack rabbit starts and stops...

Back to the basics, i9f lots of big pickups were changed into lots of high-mpg cars, then we wold be talking about real big savings.

I have posted info here a few weeks ago detailing the many various models of high mpg cars, and their purchase prices, and demonstrated that there are currently many high mpg cars which have a lower purchase price than the average retail/price paid per vehicle today (this is a U.S.-only discussion...)...also, with 12-13M vehicles purchased per year currently, one can certainly posit that there are that many people who could afford to replace their low-mpg vehicles with high mpg vehicles, and save money on both purchase price and operating costs (not just fuels, but smaller/cheaper tires, less break wear, etc.).

I am not asking for 12-13 million /extra/ people to replace their low-mpg cars with new high-mpg cars, just asking the great majority of the 12-13M people who are buying new vehicles anyway to choose high-mpg vehicles.

Auto companies will never push that idea hard, because smaller, cheaper cars have thin profit margins, especially compared to the handsome profits made on large PUs and SUvs.

Need...a...much more substantial...gasoline tax...

We will not hold our breath.

But...we have numerous intersections where folks can sit for ~ 2minutes (that is a long time) waiting for a left turn arrow, even when the cross street has had /zero/ traffic! And yes, there are sensor loops, I can see the tar outlining where they were buried in the street...but perhaps they are insensitive to just one vehicle?

They should be sensitive to one vehicle. If there's a problem with detection, it's often with a high vehicle (like a truck). The metal is too far above the loops.

But two minutes is not a lot. Probably varies with location, but in general, 4 minutes is what they aim for. Anything longer than that, and people will start to run the lights.

The phasing of traffic lights is very complicated. They're run by little computers, and the pattern varies by time of day, and may be linked to other lights nearby. As far as I know, it runs through the cycle it's programmed to, and won't put up a green out of phase just because there are no cars coming the other way. Cars can be detected, but pedestrians and cyclists can't be. And the loop detectors are meant to detect cars stopped at the light, not ones that might be speeding toward it.

If traffic conditions permit it, they can put up a light that shows a green arrow if the left turn lane doesn't empty during the regular green, but no red arrow (that is, the drivers can turn left if there's a space in oncoming traffic). If there's a red arrow, it's because the green arrow only didn't cut it.

As far as I know, it runs through the cycle it's programmed to, and won't put up a green out of phase just because there are no cars coming the other way.

Some lights in the UK will definitely switch out of sequence if they detect traffic coming one way and nothing the other. The first sensors are set a long way in advance of the junction so when traffic is quiet at night they are normally always green by the time you reach them. Even if they detect no traffic coming one way they still switch it to green once every few minutes just in case.

I believe such sensors exist, but they aren't used in the US, except perhaps in special situations. The reason is what you would expect: the cost.

The first sensors are set a long way in advance of the junction so when traffic is quiet at night they are normally always green by the time you reach them. Even if they detect no traffic coming one way they still switch it to green once every few minutes just in case.

This is done in the US without special sensors. As I said, the processor that controls the lights changes based on time of day. So for a major arterial, there will be a "green wave" into the city during morning rush hour, and a "green wave" out of the city during evening rush hour. The rest of the day, some other pattern may be used. At night, when traffic is low, lights will be always green on the main drag, with red lights appearing only if a car is detected on a side street.

Note, this is not switching out of sequence. It's just that there's a different sequence (phasing) at night.

I get wacked by these detectors pretty regularly. The intersection of two busy roads in the conutryside -so trying to get in phase with other lights probably isn't an issue. The ight nomrmally stays green for about aminute, but if the camera detects no cars, and you are 15seconds away, it only stays green for 5 seconds, so your "I'll easily make the light, becomes, no chance in hell". Very irritating. I'm not sure these things being implemented poorly are an improvement at all?

Actually, advanced loop detectors can detect a vehicle a set distance away, say, 285 feet, and extend the green time to get the vehicle through the intersection if the maximum green has not already been exceeded.

The problem is not the technology. We already have controllers so advanced that 90 percent of the capabilities are never used. The problem, other than the cost of engineering studies and new technology, is that our street networks have uneven block lengths in most older cities, and traffic demand is not evenly distributed. (Too many drivers want to turn left between 4 and 6 p.m., but no one turns left from 7 to 9 a.m.) At the same time we are trying to accommodate cyclists in the stream of traffic and pedestrians at the crosswalk. On major roadways we also have 18-wheelers, large SUVs, motorcycles, and 8 other categories of vehicles out there, not to mention the occasional railroad crossing on the side road. And now we are trying to help public transit vehicles to "jump the queue" in advance of the green light as part of Bus Rapid Transit. It really is not as simple as it looks.

I really think faster/easier car travel hurts the urban environment.

The examples I use in New Orleans are Tulane Avenue and Magazine Street.

Tulane is a 6 lane street designed to quickly get suburban commuters off the Interstate and to work in the Medical Center and CBD. Some local humor about "No left turns on Tulane" (three rights make a left on Tulane, even though my momma told two wrongs do not make a right). Speed limit is higher than mandatory 35 mph for divided streets (40 mph ?)

Pre-Katrina, Tulane was street walkers, dive bars, etc. Some development immediately post-K, but still somewhat unattractive.

Magazine is 4+ miles of small shops (almost none are chains) and a delight to walk down. Narrow street (9' to 9.5' travel lanes I think - humorous to watch Hummers pass each other), difficult parking, hard to travel the speed limit of 25 mph (although a recent ped death of an elderly man was blamed on repaving that allowed people to get up to the dangerous speed of 25 and even 30 mph !)

Magazine is hell for drivers - and a major and unique retail strip.

Tulane is optimized for drivers and is an urban hell hole.

Best Hopes for Putting People First,


Many areas are implementing Advanced Traffic Management Systems.
This is happening along my old commute north of Atlanta. A company I worked for is designing the fiber trunk for this system. I have mixed feelings since I'm convinced traffic along these suburban routes will be self-limiting in the near future.

Thanks for the links. Yes, that would seem to be the way to go forward into our techutopia. I hope it works well, energy and complexity wise, if times get hard.

I was just trying to think of things we could do right now, at very little or no expense.

Well, re #1 I have met many crossings where it is a challenge to get to the other side before the lights change even at a 4-5 MPH walking pace. Heaven help the LOL (little old lady).

I do have to agree with the 'why's you in that car anyway' POV. forbin's point 2, force the change. I totally left the car crowd standing today, on my bicycle, in the Christmas traffic jam and I do mean standing still. Traffic treacle would be closer to the situation than traffic jam.


Well, to be fair to me, work is the ONLY place I drive to. I do all my grocery shopping, banking, post office, movies, restaurant and other trips on foot.

Why do I drive to work? Because I live in freaking America and have to use what's available.

For me, everything but grocery shopping happens on the way home from work. Work lets out at 4, so there is time for an errand or two on the way home. I could do the grocery shopping that way too, but I like my Saturday morning grocery runs. Besides, I'd likely buy more junk food if I hit the store while hungry on the way home.

In the more modern more urban locations around here (Bay area), walk lights now have digital countdown timer displays (20seconds, 19seconds ...). And when the end of the cycle is approaching they make a birdlike chirping sound.

Put another button on the other side of the street that the pedestrian can push that has the effect of telling the light “Thank you for stopping the traffic for me, but I have made it safely to the other side and you can let them go now”.

Relatively few intersections have "all reds" for pedestrians. Precisely for the reason you state: traffic engineers like to move cars through the intersection as fast as possible, and so don't provide protection for pedestrians unless it's necessary. Most of the time, pedestrians move with traffic. If there's history of them being hit, they may get a small head start - to give them a chance to get out into the middle of the road where drivers can see them before their light turns green.

The lights on my commute are programmed so that all four directions have a red light for about 3 seconds. Presumably, this is to prevent accidents from red light (or yellow light) runners.

Yes. This is a federal guideline, I believe. Some local traffic lights do not follow that standard (probably date from before that became the rule), but most do have a brief period of all red.

And all we have to do is slightly change our behavior (i.e., actually follow the existing law).

It's a little more complicated than that. People are now used to having a grace period; if you suddenly take that away, the result will be carnage. Heck, it was carnage anyway - that's why we have the delay. Perhaps they could be re-trained using the red light cameras, which might annoy people don't kill anyone or delay other travelers (usually, anyway).

But this is something that has been given a lot of thought and isn't done trivially. Traffic engineers are well aware that this slows the number of cars that can get through the intersection, but it's a case of the cost of the occasional accident being far greater than cost of delaying people a few seconds.

If you want to talk about changing behavior and doing what they do in other countries - how about you turn off your engine at when you're stopped at lights, like they do in Japan?

Many years ago I had to use a Ministry document that specified how the portable traffic lights for roadworks were supposed to work as we were developing a new controller. One of the guys read the document from cover to cover then hurled it to the table - 'Each paragraph contradicts the previous six' was his summary. My personal favourite was that 'yellow should be on for 2 seconds or 3 seconds but not both'.


My personal favourite was that 'yellow should be on for 2 seconds or 3 seconds but not both'.


Um... I'm very sorry... :(( I couldn't resist to ROFLMAO, even while I feel for you and I know it's a serious matter. :-S Cuz... you had to be there, endure all that... um... idiocy and remain sane at the same time. I've read some of these Catch XXII (or "Damned if you do, damned if you don't") thingies myself, so I know how does it feel. :-/

But hey! Maybe they were good at math and by "but not both" they did mean 5 seconds! :D

< / oookay, end of making fun of Ministry officials :P >

Very, very few people know how to write clearly.

My first guess is that the person who wrote about "two or three" but "not both" meant to convey the idea or opinion that EITHER two seconds OR three seconds could be a satisfactory standard, but "not both" in the sense that one or the other should be used exclusively.

This would help prevent people used to "three second yellows" from running the light when they come to a two second yellow.

Alternatively, the idea could be that two seconds might be a good choice on streets with (for example) speed limits of thirty five or less, and three seconds for streets with higher limits .

People expect things like yellow lights to be predictable.They would be ok with two and three second yellows consistently deployed, but tend to have more accidents if they were to be mixed together indiscriminately.

I have enjoyed making an idiot out of several former supervisors by doing EXACTLY what they insisted I do when we had a difference of opinion.Of course none of that sort can properly give clear concise directions.

Having studied MCE-0111 from cover to cover I can assure you that the only thing they had a clear insight to was that they needed to produce a long and complicated document that defied understanding and that should include as many contradictions as possible.


I recall a post on DB not too long ago where it was claimed that most pedestrian 'push-to-walk' buttons do nothing.

This is not true. However, a lot of pedestrians don't use them right. They push all the buttons because they're not sure which one goes to which street, or just because they're bored. Or they push the button but don't wait for the ped signal - they just dart across the street as soon as there's an opening in traffic. Which means traffic may be stopped when there's no pedestrian in sight.

Just a silly question: What did they mean by "do nothing"?

Cuz... we have some intersections with these "push-to-walk" buttons and sometimes it seems they -really- do nothing, as in: "I pushed the #$)!& button, but nothing happened!". But it's just the first impression and I think it's all about expectations. I mean, if one thinks that pushing the button will suddenly stop the whole traffic to a screeching halt so that one might cross, then for sure button does nothing! Because all it does is trigger a routine of traffic light system that will give some lil time for some more cars to pass, and then change the lights for them from green (through yellow) to red, giving you the chance to cross.

The delay between pushing the button and getting the "WALK" sign depends on current state of lights, system configuration (built-in delays) and other delays engineers of the system deemed necessary, but you eventually get your free pass. :D

Actually, we have some pedestrian-unfriendly intersections here, where there is never green for pedestrian unless you push the button. There buttons definitely do something.

But hey! This is Europe, so I'm still very eager to read your answer. :)

A lot of them (push to walk) in the parts of the U.S. that I am familiar with are broken.

It's too late in America, we didn't adopt roundabouts at the necessary scale when most of our road infrastructure was being built. We'll have to make do with stop and go and the maddening traffic lights.

Good point! But I'm happy to say that my town has removed some 4-way stop signs and replaced them with roundabouts. They work great, when used properly, which unfortunately isn't all the time, but it's getting better.

A lot of signals are being replaced with roundabouts now. It's not difficult to do.

Many traffic lights in Anchorage are being replaced by roundabouts. People grumbled about them initially, but now most people like them.

Many people don't realize it, but if your car's nose is across the crosswalk when the light turns red, you're in the intersection legally and you can take as long as you'd like to move on. Yellow doesn't mean accelerate, however - that's usually against the law.

In Washington State, it's legal to turn left at a red light onto a one-way street from a two-way street, yet 98% of all people aren't aware they're allowed to - so they'll sit the whole damn time waiting for the light to turn green and when it does, they sit yet longer waiting for oncoming traffic to pass them by. Drives me nuts, especially when considering you know they'd take the right turn on red just as quickly as you'd like them to - I treat those left turns with only a bit more hesitation than I do when turning right since there's the need to consider the possibility the light's changed to green while you were checking crossing traffic and the oncoming traffic then gets the right of way.

It's been documented that red light camera companies had in their contracts provisions requiring shortening the length of a yellow light - I'm sure these requirements have been removed due to increased scrutiny but there you have it - the police per usual preying on the citizens for their inflated paychecks and egos - insurance companies are also involved in this policymaking - more tickets issued equals more revenue from dinged customers.

There were/are other perks, like new patrol cars, etc., for having chosen one company over another.

It was also demonstrated that red light intersections had increased numbers of rear-ending accidents - people terrified of possibly not making the yellow light squealing to a stop were the culprits

It was also demonstrated that red light intersections had increased numbers of rear-ending accidents - people terrified of possibly not making the yellow light squealing to a stop were the culprits

I saw a claim that red light cameras increase accident rates for this reason. Although who is to blame? The guy who is cautious to not push it, or the guys who goes for it from way too far back. I think most of the blame lies with the later, who are way too common around here. I think they must have gotten rid of the too short yellow times around here. But it still can be awckward, if your attention drifts from the light at the crucial momenet you are faced with the decision panic stop or blast on through. And some people are better at estimating time to intersection than others. I am told that humans evaluate the camera footage for timing and speed etc. before any tickets are mailed. The one time I ooops through one (and saw the camera flash) I didn't get a ticket, so I must have fit the profile of "responsible but momentarily distracted"*.

* It probably helps to be Caucasian. Certain minorities are considered to be automatically guilty of many crimes. I finally got this one day in St. Paul Minnesota, I reached a 4 way stop at the same time as a black guy. He had an old clunker, and I had a new car, so I naturally deferred to him. The look of absolute amazement on his face spoke volumes. It must have been the first time a white guy had ever deferred to him. After that, I think I finally understood the crime of "driving while being black".

I think most of the blame lies with the later

I thought it was always the behind guy's fault for not being able to stop in time, i.e. following too close.

if your attention drifts from the light at the crucial momenet you are faced with the decision panic stop or blast on through

This happens to me too. That's where the brain kicks in and realizes, OK, stop if I can, but I'm pretty fast, and I'm pretty close already...

If you don't think you can safely stop, and this applies to wet or icy conditions too, then you have to just go through and hope for the best. Hopefully your "crucial moment" was only a second or two and you should be fine.

The older I get, and the more I drive, the less I like to take my eyes off the road even for a fraction of a second. Lord help the texters and other distracted drivers. They know not how dangerous they are.

This happens to me too. That's where the brain kicks in and realizes...

And the problem is you gotta make the go-nogo decision in about 1 second, otherwise you are pretty much committed (i.e. squeeling panic stop or go through), so you can't think and evaluate much.

And the problem is you gotta make the go-nogo decision in about 1 second

Umm, no snark intended, but it's callied driving. I take personal responsibility for me, my vehichle, and any passengers. When you're driving fast, yeah, things happen pretty quick. You have to know your own and the vehicle's limits.

My goal is always to get there safely. No matter what.

Sometimes it's dicy. Some 25 years ago I was traveling on a 2-lane rural highway where everybody was going 60 mph or so. In the middle of no-where there was an intersection with a light. It turned yellow as I approached, and it looked like I can and should stop. As I was rapidly deccelerating, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a LARGE BUMPER. Luckily I had the presence of mind to pull off the road into the shoulder. The 18-wheeler behind me went through the red light, then stopped. When I got a green and stopped by the truck, I could smell his brakes.

I suppose you can say I should look in the mirror before hitting the brakes - I learnt to do that, that day. And, I totally refuse to let anybody tailgate me for a significant length of time. I slow down, and have sometimes come to a complete stop, to force them to pass me (or pull back).

I can recall twice where i was in situations where an accident appeared unavoidable, I muttered "no way", and just did the best possible job of braking to minimize damages. In both cases, it was just enough to avoid an impact.
In one, I was passing a slow guy with a trailer. Turned out he was going slow because he was about to make a left turn, and his tillights didn't work. The second time I was doing about 30mph on an ice covered road, and some fool turned in front of me....

In the UK the general principle is that if you cannot stop in the distance that you can see to be clear then you are driving too fast. You rear end someone, it is your problem.


In Virginia you are indeed PRESUMED to be at fault and almost certainly will be charged with reckless driving if you hit somebody in the rear, especially if the state police respond rather than local cops, who are a little more lenient-sometimes.

A good lawyer, at a cost of a thousand bucks or so for arguing your case,which will likely take about ten minutes when it is EVENTUALLY called, if there are no injuries,can get the charge dismissed or reduced if he can convince the judge you were absolutely free of fault- but this is a very high bar to jump over when you hit somebody in the rear.

Va law directs you to drive in such a way that you can ALWAYS STOP before you hit a vehicle that is lawfully traveling or stopped in front of you, period.

The first thing you are taught on a "check out ride" by old pro truckers is to never follow a car closely when pulling away from a red light.If you do, a driver in front of you interested in a lawsuit can jam on his brakes(claiming he was cut off or something to that effect) and even though you are only up to ten mph or so, you won't be able to stop a loaded truck before you hit him.

Airbrakes simply don't take hold fast enough; you need an extra second or so for the brakes to BEGIN to work.

We used to have a local policeman who liked to hassle drivers at night. He had a reputation, within the force, of putting in calls that he was following a suspicious driver but could never quite fully read the number plate. He would do things like drive on the person's bumper and try and push them through the speed limit (no police lights on). He tried it on me, when I was on my motorcycle, and got treated to a textbook display of how to drive as taught by the police motoring school.

One night an acquaintance was followed by this policeman. He was driving a fairly old and beat up car. He turned to his passenger and asked if he had his seat belt done up - yes (pre compulsory seat belt days). He then slammed on his brakes and the police car ran straight into the back of him. Of course the policeman runs up to him and demands to know why he stopped, 'Didn't you see that dog running across the road? Of course not you were too close.' - running over a dog has to be reported so you try not to run them down, not reporting can be a heavy fine. The policeman had an automatic suspension from driving, have accident - get suspended - no option. Acquaintance gets replacement car from the police. Don't know how far it went but there were no more reports of that policeman following people again.


Really rotten cops are pretty scarce around here.I have encountered only one in many years.He was shaking down drivers on the interstate 3 am, almost no traffic.-tried it on me.Accused me of speeding in a car not capable of it.

I stood my ground, being clean and no paper out on me, and told him I would have my car impounded myself and summons a cop to try to drive it over the limit-seventy.Due to a mechanical problem it would only do about sixty.

I read in the Roanoke paper shortly after wards that the Virginia State Police caught him in a sting.He was definitely fired and prosecuted but I don't know the final disposition of the case.

In Canada (BC anyway) we have this useful thing: some distance prior to the signalled intersection there is an overhead bar with amber lights mounted facing traffic. When the lights start blinking, it means that you ain't gonna make it through that intersection coming up, and it's time to slow down.

After driving in the lower 48 for many years I found it strange at first, but quickly and gratefully adapted to this gentle warning system. Way better than split-second decisions when the light suddenly turns amber in your face.

The hardest thing in adapting to Mexican driving, having come from the UK, was the position of the lights. In the UK the lights are before the junction and in Mexico they are the other side of the junction. My being used to stopping at the light made for some interesting situations :) In fact I prefer the Mexican system as you can easily see the lights instead of craning your neck to see the lights above you.


In this part of Mexico, green means go, flashing green means accelerate, yellow means accelerate harder. No-one has figured out what the red means.


In the last few years, an "all red" cycle (much longer than 3 seconds) was added to several lights on Canal Street (one of two major downtown streets). The concept is to make it easier for pedestrians - at the expense of cars and trucks.

Best Hopes for more Pedestrian Friendly Features,


Alan, you are probably aware, but I will mention for others that the Federal Highway Administration now requires that new or newly coordinated signals include sufficient phase length for a pedestrian to cross the street, even if no pedestrian is present. That means a minor street approach has to be given at least 16 seconds (5 seconds of the graphic WALK display and the 11 second countdown). For a wide major street the time, based on 3.5 feet per second walking speed, would be longer. The walking distance has to be measured from curb to curb (or refuge island), not edge line to edge line. As you mention, all-red cycle usage and lengths are increasing, both for pedestrians and for fear of the right-angle collision. As a result the vehicular delays at intersections are increasing.

Several posters have commented on the all-red cycle and pedestrians. While the extra two or three seconds may be helpful to a pedestrian, that is not the reason for all-red. Instead, it is an attempt to "clear" the intersection from the last amber phase. A persistent problem for traffic engineers is the driver who enters the intersection at the point the amber changes to red. The amber length is calculated based on well-established empirical equations, but the incidents of red-light running have increased. The extra one, two, or two and a half seconds is an attempt to avoid a serious accident.

Well, there are places that have much longer all-red lights that are specifically for pedestrian crossing--all the walk signs go on, and people can cross the intersection in any direction.

I've seen it in Boston, but I think there are other places that do this, too.

The problem is that as the red phase gets longer the hourly capacity in vehicles per hour of the intersection goes down. If the number of cars coming is greater than the number that can get through the light, then the Que length just grows, and you end up with gridlock.

The problem is that as the red phase gets longer the hourly capacity in vehicles per hour of the intersection goes down ...

And this is a "problem" ?

At least two New Orleans intersections have "all reds" long enough to cross two streets (both intersecting streets) if you move reasonably quickly.

Best Hopes for Slower Streets with less capacity for cars - and more capacity for pedestrians, bicyclists and streetcars,


I places it can be an issue. I have to work in Livermore Califonia. The city approves almost no new housing, so prices there are unaffordable. They seem to run a war against commuters as well, as commuter routes into the city, are despised, and they throw up stop signs and streetlights in a deliberate attempt to make commuters wait in miles long lines. But, the whole structure of the economy is such that people gotta have jobs, and homes, and there is no choice other than the car commute.

Busy intersections (that also have high pedestrian traffic) here in Australian cities sometimes have red in both directions for adequate time, allowing pedestrians to cross in any direction - including diagonally, which I have not seen in big cities overseas. This seems fairly efficient, especially in eliminating conflict between cars turning left or right legally, and pedestrians that also have a legal WALK sign to use, but are slow in doing so. Downside is that the wait time through the whole cycle can be pretty long.

Australia has also made extensive use of roundabouts, and they are far superior to both traffic lights, and 4-Way stop signs, in my view. Our roundabouts give priority to vehicles that are ON the roundabout - all vehicles arriving have to yield to anything on the right, and wait for a safe space before entering. We noticed in France however that traffic arriving has priority, and that all traffic on the roundabout has to yield to anything coming in from the right. Seemed to work okay as well, but looked rather chaotic.

Another upside of roundabouts (especially in suburban streets) is to make the roads unusable by long or heavy vehicles. A downside of roundabouts is that they are often not very pedestrian friendly.

How far does this reach? Does it apply to every intersection everywhere, or only to some? (Where would they get the authority to regulate every minor local intersection?)

Will it become counterproductive - will it just induce more localities to use the Pennsylvania "solution", which is simply to ban pedestrians altogether from many or even most signaled intersections outside of the downtown core, so that is is literally impossible to walk legally from one superblock to another in the suburbs? Is this practice still allowed?

I don't think I've suffered much from this problem; but when I was a cyclist in an urban area, I frequently found myself waaaaaaiting for red lights where the sensor would not pick up a bike. The options: get off and push the ped button (kind of a trick move when you're in the left turn lane at the time), or do something illegal. Late at night I mostly just did something illegal. Other times of the day I had to wait until a *car* came along to trip the sensor for me. Talk about annoying...

I now live in a very non-urban area where there are no lights (street or traffic) and very few intersections. I like it better here.


'Irreversible does not mean unstoppable: “Why show me this, if I am past all hope?”'

The World can rest a little easier this Holiday season...North Korea has assigned a title to Kim Jong Un: 'Supreme Leader'...


Wasn't his Dad the 'great leader', and his Dad the 'Dear Leader', or something like that?

I think the apparatchiks also have to develop and communicate a birth mythology for the new leader...IIRC, Dad was born on a sacred mountain and his birth was accompanied by a double rainbow etc.

My bad, Dad had many titles glorifying his greatness!



I think I most like:

Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love


Eternal Bosom of Hot Love

/golf clap/

On the NPR coverage of this they noted the ubiquitous public display of extreme grief and wailing. It was further noted that after GrandDad's death, those who did not display such public acts of mourning with sufficient intensity were punished in various ways.


A ruling issued today by Manhattan Judge George Daniels insists that Iran is “responsible for 9/11,” and that families of those slain during the 2001 terrorist attack can sue the Iranian government for compensatory and punitive damages.

Do we have provisions to fire/impeach de-bar judges who are obviously insane?

As a matter of fact - Judges can be tossed outta office.

http://www.skolnicksreport.com/ the now dead man's site. He had a corrupt judge screw him out of his home. Took years but he got the Judge bounced from the bench into jail as I remember the tale.

It used to be citizens could go to the Grand Jury directly. A 1940's NY State incident where Judges landed in jail resulted in a policy change (not change in law) that restricted citizen direct access to the Grand Jury.

I served two years on our county Grand Jury including one as the foreman. This was in the late 80's in California. At that time (and I assume now) individuals could submit issues to the GJ. However, it was up to the GJ whether the issue was pursued. Since every GJ has it's own "personality" which to a large degree reflects the concerns of the foreman, one GJ might take on an issue whereas another might not.

Also, in California, GJs are mandated to review certain governmental agencies such as law enforcement.

I was an activist foreman and we looked at a wider variety of issues than many GJs before or after us.


Damn fine to hear such a tail.

Assuming the judicial system is as corrupt and fuffed up as any other: that would be a negative.

A ruling issued today by Manhattan Judge George Daniels insists that Iran is “responsible for 9/11,” and that families of those slain during the 2001 terrorist attack can sue the Iranian government for compensatory and punitive damages.

Doesn't it make sense that a Persian Shiite country would help a terrorist organization operated by Sunnis...?

Maybe this judge doesn't know Shiites and Sunnis hate each other....

Maybe this judge doesn't know Shiites and Sunnis hate each other....

99% of Americans don't know the difference, all towelheads look the same (even Siks, who are a totally different religion). Blaming the wrong one won't be noticed or punished by the vast majority of voters. I think in the old west, that was true of Indians, one tribe attacks, and completely different tribes got slaughtered in retaliation. I think there probably is some sort of law regarding foreigners, "any two foreigners who share at least one distinguishing feature, are the same, and are wholly responsible for each others alleged crimes".

Its pretty crazy, if you know something of the actual world. Most of the victims of Sunni extremists -including of Al-Qaeda, are in fact Shia. But, we are obivious to that fact, because to us, their similarities are greater than their differences.

Some time back, there was a successful lawsuit blaming Iraq ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-05-07-911-judge-awards_x.htm ). This recent turn of events would be amusing if it weren't so tragically stupid.


The thing about the legal system is that all decisions in it are made by human beings.

And as some of us have started to figure out, humans do not always do the rational thing (to put it in an irrationally optimistic way).

Ergo; sooner or later, the legal system will produce irrational decisions.

That's Murphy's law: whatever can go wrong eventually will if given enough of a chance.


Conditions at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are far worse than its operator or the government has admitted, according to freelance journalist Tomohiko Suzuki, who spent more than a month working undercover at the power station.

"Absolutely no progress is being made" towards the final resolution of the crisis, Suzuki told reporters at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan news conference on Dec. 15. Suzuki, 55, worked for a Toshiba Corp. subsidiary as a general laborer there from July 13 to Aug. 22, documenting sloppy repair work, companies including plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) playing fast and loose with their workers' radiation doses, and a marked concern for appearances over the safety of employees or the public.

From the NYT:
Harsh Political Reality Slows Climate Studies Despite Extreme Year

Back in 1980, I attended a AAAS annual meeting and went to a session on global warming. During the question period, I asked the presenters whether the recent spate of extreme weather (remember the extreme cold weather of the late 1970's??) might be related to AGW. I was rather forcefully reprimanded by the director of NCAR for suggesting such, as it was not "scientific" to make that claim. Now, there's much more evidence that climate is changing and the projections include more extremes events...

E. Swanson

"Harsh Political Reality Slows Climate Studies Despite Extreme Year"

And so we fly ever more blindly into the ever more chaotic maelstrom.

What kind of Christmas can we wish for each other?

Meanwhile, here in Chicago, we are experiencing unusually mild weather. We had a few flurries of snow a week or so back, but it didn't last. I don't mean to speak in haste, but there was 56 inches forecast for this winter - I hope it doesn't all drop at once, like last year.

Even my bees are flying today. 44 degrees F.

Even my bees are flying today. 44 degrees F.

Other than evacuation flights - what pollen are they expecting to find?

Scouts are out surveying the neighborhood - I guess they are reporting back empty-legged.

With this kind of high activity in winter, I have to feed them, so they don't run out of stores prematurely. Honey or granular sugar, depending on what they will take, and how I can get it in to them.

Could this be part of what is behind the beehive collapse syndrome we've been hearing about the last couple years--prompted by unseasonable warmth, bees are going out to look for honey when there are no flowers, so they use up their stores and finally die of starvation?

Carry coals to Newcastle Allentown?

In Pennsylvania near the mines, coal is hard to get
Increased foreign exports and the renewed popularity of the low-cost alternative to fuel oil have strained supplies so homeowners struggle to find anthracite for their stoves and furnaces.

When Peter Kupec was a boy, his mother cooked on a coal stove in the kitchen, which heated the whole house.

Now 80, Kupec still uses coal to heat his Lansford home in Pennsylvania's anthracite region, which is estimated to have billions of tons of coal deposits to fuel industry and warm living rooms for centuries.

So he was surprised when he called a dealer a few weeks ago to buy two tons of coal.

"They said 'My God, I don't know when we can deliver it,'" Kupec said. "It might be six to eight weeks. There's no coal."

See: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-coal-shortage-20111...

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas (and no lumps of coal in any stockings).


America begins to sell its precious anthracite, vital for manufacturing steel, to the highest foreign bidder.

What is going on to keep the price of the coal low during a shortage?

Article on 'degrowth' and steady-sate economies:


Growth will end...it is inevitable.

Growth will end...it is inevitable.

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Mario Savio, Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964[6]

Growth will end...it is inevitable

OECD countries have reached the Keynesian endpoint, defined as the point where debt can no longer be cured with more debt.

Since Total Credit Market Debt/GDP topped out in 2010 at 380% of GDP vs. 260% of GDP during the Great Depression, all I can say is "fasten your seatbelts".

While some may see growing income disparity as a political issue and global warming as an environmental problem, Daly sees them both in economic terms.
"What does the economy do when it runs into limits?"

Good article posting Heisenberg.

At least Daly gets the significance of limits, which is indirect inference of peak oil. Even if the other economists joining the chorus do not directly understand the effect of limits to growth, at least they are touching on a subject that needs to be discussed at all levels. It's almost as if growth itself is a mantra, as if without it all is lost, when in reality there is no logical reason why we cannot live within our limits.

The trouble is those limits will continue to contract while the population to demand more resources increases. Going to turn into a tough slog ahead, and what can be done to placate people on the long descent is anyone's guess. But this article is a good sign many are getting it - growth will end.


I agree...I am amazed at the amount of retail space today as compared to my youth (born in '65).

Granted we have a larger population, but even so, there has been an explosion in shopping/food square footage.

I bought a Kindle copy of 'The Windup Girl', but I won't start it now...don't want to sour my current family time! If it is anything like '2045, A Story of Our Future', I will be saddened.

Hope you and everyone else here are enjoying their holiday time, celebrated for whatever reasons.

May peace, love, and happiness be in all your lives, now, and down the road.


ere is an article about vanishing retail stores from MoJo:


The comment section has more info than the words in the article...

I will add that malls have been replaced by non-mall retail space, WalMart has had a big impact, and the Internet shopping phenomenon.

From your link Heisenberg, I thought the comment by the truck driver about the empty warehouses was interesting, and this one:

The sad fact is that the old economy is dying, and we don't have something viable to replace it with. E-commerce won't employ the same numbers as retail, and there's no sign of what kinds of jobs will arise to replace those that are going obsolete. Maybe none will. So what to do with the masses of unemployed?

He sees there's a problem with the economy, but doesn't fully realise the underlying basis of high priced oil digging into profits, reducing GDP, lack of willingness to loan in the face of no growth.

So many people out there living their lives, struggling many of them, yet not a clue as to the underlying basis for the long descent. It would be great if we could cut into every TV on every single channel like it was a national emergency and with that annoying buzzing sound they use, have wording on the screen streaming by: "The economy is stagnant because of the higher price of oil. World oil production peaked in 2005. Get your debtload to a minimum. Grow vegetables, fruit & nut trees. Get solar - get off the grid. Happy Holidays"

"Oh, so that's what's going on!" they would say. "OMG!"

Aside from all this extremely interesting peak oil stuff H, all the best to you and your family this holiday season and in the new, much heralded 2012.


Your 'Peak Oil Emergency Broadcast System' message is an intriguing idea!

Kind of like trying to break the folks out of the BAU messaging TV matrix...also reminds me a bit of the famous Apple Macintosh '1984' commercial.


Although I think the only thing make will actually grab people's attention is a significant, un-reversed spike in gasoline prices.

Best to you and your family and everyone else as well...

Here's to 2012, the year all stumbling on...

Make War..No More.

PUD a leader in NW energy efficiency

Despite years of less than stellar economic news, there is at least one bright spot in the Northwest: In 2010 Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana made significant investments in electric energy efficiency that saved a record-breaking 254 average megawatts, an amount of power equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 171,000 Northwest homes.

Utilities and others invested $360 million in the Northwest economy in 2010 to achieve the savings, and that one-year investment is expected to reduce ratepayer bills by $1.4 billion over the 14-year average life of the efficiency measures. The investment will pay for itself in less than three years.

There are not many investments in the public or private sector with that kind of rate of return. Investments in energy efficiency create jobs and significantly lower the cost of meeting current and future energy needs.

See: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20111224/OPINION03/712249993/1005


A Christmas Message From America's Rich


May Christmas for you have the foundation of family.