Drumbeat: December 28, 2011

Iran navy chief says closing Gulf "really easy"

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Closing off the Gulf to oil tankers will be "easier than drinking a glass of water" for Iran if the Islamic state deems it necessary, state television reported on Wednesday, ratcheting up fears over the world's most important oil chokepoint.

"Closing the Strait of Hormuz for Iran's armed forces is really easy ... or as Iranians say it will be easier than drinking a glass of water," Iran's navy chief Habibollah Sayyari told Iran's English language Press TV.

Oil Trades Near Six-Week High on Iran Threat to Strait of Hormuz Shipping

Oil declined from a six-week high as concerns eased that Iran will block the Strait of Hormuz, a corridor linking the Persian Gulf with international ports.

Futures lost as much as 0.7 percent after rising yesterday for a sixth day, the longest run of advances since November 2010. Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency cited Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying the country would bar shipments through the strait if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports. Iran is attempting to “distract attention” from its nuclear program with its threat, Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said at a briefing yesterday in Washington.

Paris calls on Iran not to block Hormuz strait

The French foreign ministry called on Iran to observe international laws and refrain from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most important oil routes.

Official: Gulf states ready to offset Iran oil

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Gulf Arab nations are prepared to offset any potential loss of Iranian oil in the world market, a senior Saudi oil official said as Iranian officials stepped up their rhetoric Wednesday about shutting off a key supply route.

The remarks from the world's largest oil producer came after Iran's vice president on Tuesday warned his country was ready to close the Strait of Hormuz — a vital waterway through which a sixth of the world's oil flows — if Western nations impose sanctions on its oil shipments.

Iran oil route threats are 'rhetoric'

Britain dismissed Iranian threats to close a vital route for the oil trade today as "rhetoric" intended to distract attention from its nuclear programme.

Supply problem likely to hike summer gas prices

Gasoline prices may rise above $4 a gallon next summer as refineries along the U. S. East Coast close, reducing fuel supply, said Edward Morse, New Yorkbased head of commodities research at Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

Indonesia's Pertamina may import more fuel

(Reuters) - Indonesia's state oil and gas company Pertamina may import 12 million kiloliters of gasoline in the future, due to increasing consumption, a company official said on Wednesday.

HECO sees electric prices staying high

Electric rates on Oahu have hit record levels in four out of the past five months largely due to an unprecedented hike in the cost of petroleum-based fuel, which the utility burns for more than 75 percent of its electricity production.

HECO will air a series of television commercials starting tonight explaining the forces behind the rising fuel prices and what consumers and businesses can do to help manage the impact both in the short and long term.

"For the first time in our history, we're going to essentially alert people to the fact that these high bills are going to continue," said Robbie Alm, HECO executive vice president.

Petroplus May Halt European Refineries, French Labor Union Says

Petroplus Holdings AG may announce the halt of its five European refineries today because it can’t buy the crude it needs to maintain operations, according to a French union representative.

Petroplus management and union representatives are meeting later today at the Petit Couronne plant in northern France following yesterday’s announcement by the company that lenders have frozen credit, Laurent Patinier, a representative of the CFDT union, said by telephone.

China wins first rights to drill for Afghan oil

China's need to diversify its energy sources has led it to kick-start Afghanistan's hydrocarbon sector.

Thailand, Cambodia to re-start talks on oil and gas

(Reuters) - Thailand will send a ministerial delegation to Cambodia on Thursday to revive stalled talks on the joint development of offshore energy reserves in the Gulf of Thailand, its energy minister said on Wednesday.

Iraqi Bloc Calls for Dissolving Parliament as Sectarian Tensions Increase

The Iraqi political bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for parliament to be dissolved and new elections held as sectarian tensions increase.

“The existing political partners cannot reach solutions and there are blocs carrying out foreign agendas while others work with terror,” said Baha al-Araji, head of the al-Ahrar bloc, which has 39 seats in the 325-member parliament.

Exxon Mobil deal hikes tension in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — An oil exploration deal between U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil and Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region is fueling political tensions in a country where a post-U.S.-troop withdrawal spike in violence and political turmoil is clouding the climate for foreign investments sorely needed by Iraq.

TNK-BP group claims bullying in BP case

MOSCOW (UPI) -- Russian police pressured minority shareholders at Anglo-Russian joint venture TNK-BP into dropping legal claims against BP, an executive said.

A proposed January deal between BP and Rosneft for work in the arctic collapsed after TNK-BP said the proposal violated terms of its shareholder agreement with BP. Rosneft later landed a similar deal with U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil.

Yemen's leader causes headaches in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is weighing an unprecedented diplomatic act — whether to bar a friendly president from U.S. soil.

American officials were evaluating on Tuesday an awkward request from Yemeni strongman and longtime U.S. counterterrorism partner Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh has said he plans to come to the United States for medical treatment for injuries suffered in a June assassination attempt, and he has asked for a U.S. visa for entry to the country. Fearful of appearing to harbor an autocrat with blood on his hands, the Obama administration was trying to ensure that Saleh visits only for medical care and doesn't plan to stay, U.S. officials said.

Financial apocalypse 2012

As we've seen over the last few years, oil prices can spike for seemingly any reason at any time.

Of particular concern in 2012 is a situation involving Iran. The country, the world's third-largest oil exporter, could see its crude shipments squeezed by deepening sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States.

If the country's 2.2 million barrels day of crude are shut off completely Merrill Lynch predicts a $40 rise in oil prices.

Renewed Faith in Oil and Gas: Jim Letourneau

Shale gas was actually the first big game changer. Five years ago we were building natural gas import terminals because we thought we would run out of domestic natural gas. Today, North America has the cheapest natural gas in the world and we are building export terminals. It started in Texas, in the Barnett Shale. For every argument that says shale gas will not work, there are arguments that say it will. A lot of the technical problems that exist today will be solved in the not-too-distant future. That is one of the reasons I am not a huge believer in peak oil; yes, you can extrapolate present-day trends, but you cannot predict what human innovation will come up with to increase supply.

Hopping mad: Uganda power cuts hit grasshopper harvest

This time of year should be peak season for the insect catchers but Turyamugumya -- who uses bright lights to attract the flying insects before disorientating them with smoke and trapping them in disused oil drums -- says that business is tough.

"The problem has been power, it is on and off. Like last night, the whole night it was off," Turyamugumya, 33, says.

From bakeries to beauticians to building firms, small businesses across Uganda have been struggling to cope with worsening power cuts in recent months.

Cameron Loses Appeal to Scuttle BP February Trial Plan for Gulf Oil Spill

Cameron International Corp. lost its appeal to derail the February nonjury trial over which companies should be blamed for the 2010 BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

With Gas Drilling Next Door, County in New York Gets an Economic Lift

The workers stream across the Pennsylvania border in search of amenities that are relatively scarce at the rural drilling sites. “Places are jammed,” said Thomas J. Santulli, the Chemung County executive.

The county’s hospitality, while hardly uniform, as opponents of fracking have made themselves heard, contrasts with the natural gas industry’s reception in some other corners of New York State. A few municipalities have moved pre-emptively to ban hydrofracking, citing the potential for heavy truck traffic, noise and, above all, the risk of contamination of groundwater supplies.

Japan may put nuclear power firm under state control

Japan's government on Tuesday floated the idea of putting the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant under temporary state control, as it asked for $8.9 billion more in compensation aid.

Yukio Edano, the minister of economy, trade and industry, told Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to consider "every possibility including temporary state control" to strengthen its financial base, the Jiji and Kyodo news agencies reported.

Tepco Plunges on Possible Nationalization

Tokyo Electric Power Co. shares fell to the lowest in at least 37 years after Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said the company should consider being nationalized.

...Tepco’s shares have plunged 91 percent since the day before the March 11 quake and tsunami wrecked the utility’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, wiping out about 3.1 trillion yen ($39 billion) in market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China cuts 2012 rare earths export quota

BEIJING (AP) — China announced a cut Tuesday in its rare earths export quota as it tries to shore up sagging prices for the exotic metals used in mobile phones and other high-tech goods.

China accounts for 97 percent of rare earth output and its 2009 decision to curb exports while it builds up an industry to create products made with them alarmed foreign companies that depend on Chinese supplies.

Copper thieves darken streetlights, create road hazards

Although petty thieves have long targeted air-conditioning compressors and vacant houses, thieves sometimes use trucks and heavy equipment to steal hundreds of feet of copper wiring, he says.

"The knee-jerk reaction is thinking they're drug addicts trying to find a quick buck to make it to their next fix, or homeless people, or whatever," says Schoenfelder of the Mid-Atlantic Innovative Technology Center. "People are involved in this because it's a smart business. It's an illegal business, but it's a smart business."

Electric-car charger tax breaks ending as more EVs arrive

Just as several new plug-in electric vehicles are headed to showrooms, the government is letting expire a tax credit for installing home and commercial charging equipment.

Safest small cars you can buy for less than $20K

While record low fatality rates indicate that today’s cars are safer than ever, the latest crash test results confirm that some models still do a better job than others at protecting their occupants in a serious collision.

2012: Terra incognita

In the fall of 2010, I was having a long email discussion with some fellow peak oil analysts about our outlooks for oil supply, trying to identify when the next big oil price spike might occur. After working over several detailed models of OPEC and non-OPEC supply, I snipped irritably that oil prices would likely be affected far more by above-ground factors in the next few years than below-ground factors. Geopolitics would soon trump geology, I ventured, and we would do well to pay attention to the news overseas. One well-placed bomb, another big hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, a civil war in the Middle East, or any number of other events could blow our carefully constructed mathematical models out of the water.

But even I did not anticipate how radical the upsets of 2011 would be. No one could have predicted the earthquake and devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, or foreseen how wide-ranging its effects would be: from shutting down automobile manufacturing plants, to record grid power prices in Hawaii, to several of the world’s most advanced economies turning their backs on nuclear power. We had plenty of advanced warning that weather would become more erratic due to climate change, but a record 12 natural disasters in the U.S. costing $1 billion or more, each, was an eye-opener. And I don’t think anyone expected the Arab Spring. It was a tough year for dictators.

Limits To Growth And Beyond – Part 1 (VIDEO)

In my post ‘Darker side of growth’ in European Journalism Centre I asked a question: In a pond if lotuses grow such that every next minute they double and if this minute the pond is half full, how long will it take for the lotuses to fill the pond?

Limits To Growth And Beyond – Part II

The peak oil, climate change, ecosystem pressure and worldwide recession are dots one needs to connect to see the tip of a Malthusian ice-berg. That’s business-as-usual for you.

In 1944, in a war ravaged Europe, an Austro-Hungarian political economist, Karl Polanyi, wrote a book named The Great Transformation. In a way, this I think is the first warning and critique of the perils of a Market Society where markets are the paramount institution for the exchange of goods through price mechanisms.

Oil from tar sands one of the world’s dirtiest fuels

Peak oil has never concerned me. Not because it’s untrue. The production of conventional oil probably has peaked or soon will. It’s because other fossil fuels can be converted into oil. Even if conventional oil peaks, oil derived from other fossil fuels can flow for decades. The longer we burn petroleum, however, the more carbon emissions we generate.

Our greatest problem is not running out of oil. It’s that it won’t happen quickly enough to prevent uncontrollable climate change.

A faithful perspective

The world’s religions may differ in subtle and profound ways, but according to research by the New Jersey chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, when it comes to caring for the earth and addressing global warming, the world’s major religions are in agreement — human beings are responsible for the environment and time is running out.

The dragon looks north

Vancouver, Canada - As the Arctic sea-ice melts, the Dragon looks to the north. China has a voracious appetite for oil, natural gas and minerals - of which the Arctic has plenty. The world's newest superpower is also the world's largest shipping nation, and well positioned to take advantage of shorter routes across an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean.

There is no unclaimed land available in the Arctic, because Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States carved up the region centuries ago. But this fact doesn't discourage a resource-hungry China, which knows it can buy the access it needs.

Insurers Worry 2012 Will Top 2011 for Record Weather Disasters

From floods that crippled countries, to mega cyclones, huge blizzards, killer tornadoes to famine-inducing droughts, 2011 has been another record-breaker for bad weather.

While it is too early to predict what 2012 will be like, insurers and weather prediction agencies point to a clear trend: the world’s weather is becoming more extreme and more costly.

How to Save Venice: Make It Float

Just as withdrawing groundwater can cause subsidence, injecting water can reverse it. It’s not entirely a two-way street—much of the pore space lost during compaction can’t be recovered—but increased pore pressure can begin to unpack the sediment. Injection was used successfully in Long Beach, California in the late 1950s to halt subsidence caused by oil and gas extraction as well as groundwater usage. After the land surface dropped nearly 30 feet, injection stabilized the subsidence and a slight rebound in land surface elevation (a little over 30cm) was even seen in some spots. Early research indicated that a similar amount of uplift could be achieved in Venice, which could make a big difference for a city on the edge.

Leaders of Arctic Methane Project Clarify Climate Concerns

We would first note that we have never stated that the reason for the currently observed methane emissions were due to recent climate change. In fact, we explained in detail the mechanism of subsea permafrost destabilization as a result of inundation with seawater thousands of years ago. We have been working in this scientific field and this region for a decade. We understand its complexity more than anyone. And like most scientists in our field, we have to deal with slowly improving understanding of ongoing processes that often incorporates different points of views expressed by different groups of researchers.

Peru's Glaciers Melting, Decreasing Water Supply 20 Years Earlier Than Expected

A new study in the Journal of Glaciology shows that the glaciers in Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range are melting so quickly that the water they supply to the arid region is being threatened 20-30 years earlier than expected.

Portraits of the Southwest in the Shadow of Drought

The intense, deep blue skies of the American Southwest, skies that have drawn painters and photographers for a century or more, are a product of the region’s extremely dry air.

Yet here’s another interesting fact: Though we think of the Southwest as dry — and it is dry — its development and population took off during a period in the 20th century when it enjoyed perhaps its wettest weather in hundreds of years. The killing droughts that have lately gripped the region were unusual by recent standards but otherwise all too typical and all too likely to recur — a prospect the National Research Council has called “sobering.”

I heard a report about the Iranian threats to navigation through the Straight of Hormuz on the MSM this a.m...but all is fine, apparently, as Saudi Arabia has pledged to raise output (again) if necessary....

Though Saudi has a pipeline to Yanbu on the West Coast of Saudi it will carry only a fraction of Saudi oil. Most of Saudi's oil must still go through the Straight of Hormuz. So if the Iranians closed the straights Saudi would have to dramatically cut their production as soon as their storage tanks filled up.

Ron P.

Yes, but why let facts get in the way of the "story"?

BTW, why has the price difference between WTI and Brent become so much closer of late? Down to approximately $8 now I believe.


I can't verify it, but there has been some chatter that more WTI oil is making its way to the Gulf Coast via rail. At the spreads from earlier this year, it could profitably move by tanker truck as well, although I doubt it could move in sufficient quantity to change the indicative pricing.

If large quantities of oil are moving by rail, the spread could narrow to as little as $2/bbl but there are likely to be bottlenecks, and new pipelines could eliminate the differential altogether.

The primary reason is insufficient transport capability from mid American to the ocean. See James Hamilton's Econbrowser.com
U.S. net exports of petroleum products

Implications of the recent rise in oil prices

Costs and benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline etc.

OK, thank you for that.

I spent much of my Navy time patrolling the straights during the Iran/Iraq war. Someone was always threatening to "close the straights", knowing full well they wouldn't be closed for long. Weather or not tanker lines (and their insurance companies) would risk operating in a war zone is a different question, but the US and other western navys have been planning for this contingency for decades, something the Iranians know very well. "Shock and awe" would be an understatement.

"Go ahead. Make my day."

If I remember correctly, "shock and awe" was followed by 4 years of brutal sectarian violence and low intensity conflict where tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Iraqi's lost their lives in shootings, bombings, and kidnappings. I have no doubt that US naval forces would make short work Iranian naval forces. But, I fear that Iranian special operations forces would quickly turn their attentions onto the oil infrastructure in Oman, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc. Pipelines, storage tanks, refineries, etc. are very soft targets. What will 1, 2, 3 or more years of guerrilla warfare do for oil prices and the world economy? The thought of losing Iran's 2.5 MBD is frightening enough, let alone to think about other sources from the gulf being shut in due to sabotage and conflict.

I hope both sides have the discipline and foresight to move away from this brinksmanship and bluster. It is a dangerous game of chicken that both sides are pursuing.

What will 1, 2, 3 or more years of guerrilla warfare do for oil prices and the world economy? The thought of losing Iran's 2.5 MBD is frightening enough, let alone to think about other sources from the gulf being shut in due to sabotage and conflict.

My guess is, that it would be the final nail in the coffin for BAU! Time to get your bicycles out of the garage, folks! Buying a few pairs of new hiking boots while you still can might not be a bad idea either.

There are just too many black swans circling like buzzards for BAU to continue indefinitely, even under the best of circumstances. I'm sure that most here know that it is a matter of when, not if before we are all forced to make some profound paradigm shifts in our way of doing things.

Cheers! And a Happy and Prosperous 2012 to all, may it be peaceful as well...

My d00m bicycle is ready to go!

Can't I just use a moped or a scooter...?

Nice bike, is that a Surly pugsley? I replaced my car by a bicycle 4 years ago (http://www.flickr.com/photos/40116561@N07/4304237021/in/photostream) even if BAU were to continue I would not go back, It is really a lot of fun, I feel more connected to the real world, I appreciate the value of energy a lot more and I am getting in great shape. Enjoy your d00m bike for as long as you can :-)

A road bike needs good roads. In the long run an off-road bike will be easier to ride on the roads of the future.

That said, in the long run reliability and low maintenance will count for more. Look at bikes made 50 or 70 years ago that are still running. Heavy, steel frames. Internal hub gears and brakes. Modern tyres with kevlar strips or really thick anti-puncture pads are a great invention. Enclosed chain cases almost prevent chain wear. As few plastic components as possible. With care such a bike will last a century with only a few hours maintenance a year.

It's a 2011 Salsa Mukluk. 3.8" tires at 8 PSI! Seriously an all-terrain bicycle...

Nice. You might enjoy the following site (although if you own such a bike you probably know it already!): http://icebike.org

Indeed! Bike nerds unite! http://fattireia.blogspot.com/

I have a bike but I need to be in better shape to ride it

I'm in the same boat. So I invested in a bicycle trainer that turns my bike into a stationary one. The Kinetic ones are excellent and relatively quiet.

Check the fastenings regularly. A few years ago, a co-worker showed up with interesting facial bruises. When asked what happened, he related the story of his bicycle coming loose from the trainer, careening across the room, and flying into the wall face first.

Yes, this happened to me, too. At 30 mph I came off my rollers. However a couple of pounds of bicycle tire spinning that fast is enough to move me & my bike - 200 lbs - about a foot. So I put my foot down & put the bike back on the rollers. It did leave an impressive scorch mark on the linoleum for 6" from both tires; but no hospital bills as far as I recall.

Rollers are WAY more difficult to ride - I can't even imagine this being possible on the trainers used by most people. Get a really skinny guy on a bike with lead filled tires and I can see some concern.

Let the bike get you in shape. 35 years ago I rode 30 miles roundtrip to work. Then we moved, the bike got sold, and I didn't own another one for 25 years. The one I have now is built for my 63 yo body, not for speed. When I first got it I could ride to the end of the block and back. Now I ride about 6 miles a day in 4 segments for my work commute, and I ride about 10 miles on a bike trail with the grandson on weekends. Just take it slow and work up to your goal. It is surprising how fast it happens.

The bright side of peak oil

Had good news - bad news on bikes this week.

The local ayutamiento has stare-ted up a free downtown cycle loan scheme. The Presidente and Snr Presidente doing a photo-op on a tandem. They seem to have a few tandems but I am not sure what else, I'll take a look and find out more next time I'm downtown. They are also providing baby cars, those plastic things with long handles at the back plus kayaks.

The security droid at WallyMart stopped me while I was locking my bike to a signpost like I have been doing for well over a year, not in anyone's way. He indicated the bicycle parking space and told me I needed to put it there. There are no bicycle stands so what was I supposed to do, leave it lying on the ground for someone to pick it up and walk off with it or vertically double park? Told him I would just do my shopping at Soriana where they do have racks.


Sounds like you're really looking forward to it. I trust your Doomsday Scenario is good for you.

I agree that any attempts to close the straits would have huge implications, and have no doubts that Iran is already involved in some of the other tactics you mention. This is why I see this as posturing more than as a real threat. Any attempt by Iran to close off access to the gulf would be counter-productive to say the least.

If we were to see any actions by Iran, I suspect that, as phreephallin noted above, the most logical course of action would be asymmetric warfare, e.g., sabotage of loading facilities, explosive devices planted within tankers, or attached to their hulls, mines, etc., all actions that would be difficult to directly link to Iran.

Along with submarine attacks, this is why I think that it is a complete fantasy to think that the US can successfully and routinely use force to direct oil tankers to our shores, and away from higher bidders, e.g., China.

Incidentally, have you read the following book? Anything you could add?

TANKER WAR: America's First Conflict with Iran, 1987-88

Book Description:

In May 1987 the US frigate Stark, calmly sailing the waters of the Persian Gulf, was suddenly blown apart by an Exocet missile fired from a jet fighter of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. A fifth of the ship's crew were killed and many others horribly burned or wounded. This event jumpstarted one of the most mysterious conflicts in American history: "The Tanker War," waged against Iran for control of the Persian Gulf.This quasi-war took place at the climax of the mammoth Iran-Iraq War, during the last years of the Reagan administration. Losing on the battlefield, Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran had decided to close the Persian Gulf against shipping from Iraq's oil-rich backers, the emirate of Kuwait. The Kuwaitis appealed for help and America sent a fleet to the Gulf, raising the Stars and Stripes over Kuwait's commercial tankers.The result was a free-for-all, as the Iranians laid mines throughout the narrow passage and launched attack boats against both tankers and US warships. The sixth largest ship in the world, the tanker Bridgeton, hit an Iranian mine and flooded. The US Navy fought its largest surface battle since World War II against the Ayatollah's assault boats.Meanwhile, US Navy Seals had arrived in the Gulf, setting up shop aboard a mobile platform from which they would sally out in fast craft to combat the Iranians. As Saddam Hussein, who had instigated the conflict, looked on, Iranian gunners fired shore-based Silkworm missiles against US ships, actions which, if made known at the time, would have required the US Congress to declare war against Iran.In July 1988, nervous sailors aboard the cruiser USS Vincennes shot an Iranian airliner out of the sky, killing 300 civilians. This event came one month before the end of the war, and may have been the final straw to influence the Ayatollah to finally drink from his "poisoned chalice."In Tanker War, Lee Allen Zatarain, employing recently released Pentagon documents, firsthand interviews, and a determination to get to the truth, has revealed a conflict that few recognized at the time, but which may have presaged further battles to come.

Excerpt of a review by Tom Wetherald:

TANKER WAR is unquestionably the definitive book about the events in the Persian Gulf in 1987-88. It is also just a darn good story, told well. As a first hand participant in these events I heartily applaud Mr. Zatarain's extraordinary accomplishment in the telling of the story of the Tanker War . . .

The apex of the story is a detailed accounting of the events of April 18th 1988. On this day, the U.S. Navy fought a nine-hour long, wide open (what the Navy calls "red and free"), free-for-all engagement with the Iranian Navy, all over the Persian Gulf, in which a quarter of the Iranian Navy was sunk or disabled. One might well think that the result was a forgone conclusion given the size and abilities of the U.S. Navy, but what was little known until now is that the U.S. Navy faced catastrophe that day on at least four occasions and came out on the winning side each time. As in all military engagements, while the better trained and equipped forces often win, luck played a huge part. Victory was complete in the end but it was never certain. Disaster stalked the U.S. Navy all day that day and it makes for a gripping tale.

When future historians study this era, Mr. Zatarain's book will be the quintessential reference. There are good lessons here for current Naval leaders who were not participants or started their careers after these events. But for those who just enjoy reading history, or just like a good real-world story, TANKER WAR is a great read.

I haven't read Tanker War, though it was highly recommended by a golf buddy who was special forces on the ground there during the period (he hates Iran; hard core imperialist).

Operation Praying Mantis went down shortly after I left the Navy. A good friend of mine was aboard the Samuel B. Roberts when it struck a mine. Serendipitously, he's on his way up to look at the foreclosed farm down the road. He designs natural gas piping systems, and has become peak energy aware. Expecting him any minute; I'll see if he has anything to add.

Our experience in the Gulf was that someone was always posturing; sending their fast boats out to harass shipping and Navy ships (and not just the Iranians); a smoldering low-level conflict for decades. Perhaps it's inevitable that the area of the Straits erupts into something major as peak oil tensions (and populations) increase. These folks also have much better weapons these days, thanks to the Chinese and Russians. Methinks we were better off having Saddam around to counter the Iranians, from a strategic view anyway.

Some more on events in the area. They may have been better off when pearls and pistachios were the main exports :-/

Thanks westexas. Interesting. Now reprinted as:
AMERICA'S FIRST CLASH WITH IRAN: The Tanker War, 1987-88 ISBN-13: 978-1935149361

Apparently there is a similar book out:
Tanker war: aspect of Iraq-Iran war, 1980-88

Yes, asymmetric war is a major challenge. However, the most important issue is still Iran's attempt to destroy both Israel and the USA with nuclear weapons. e.g. see Rosenberg's The Tehran Initiative.
An EMP appears to be the greatest threat. See:
Iranian Nuke Attack on US Easy as EMP?

However, the most important issue is still Iran's attempt to destroy both Israel and the USA with nuclear weapons.


Is Iran suicidal...?

I don't think so.

Iran, probably working on an ATOMIC bomb (measured in kilotons)....

Israel, (not sure what they have)

U.S., HYDROGEN BOMBS detonated by atomic bombs (measured in megatons)

I seriously doubt Iran would ever attack the U.S. unless attacked by us first. I don't think they would attack Israel either....

Amazing talk, isn't it? As if the "they have WMDs" insistence that launched the re-invasion of Iraq never happened and never got exposed as utter fraud.

Need we mention the NPT, of which the United States and the other nuclear weapons powers are currently in flagrant violation, and which Israel will not sign?

Orwell wouldn't be able to get his stuff published these days. It would be too tame compared to what parades right in front of everybody.

Have you watched the GOP debates at all? Basically, all of them except Ron Paul seem to be eager to start a war with Iran.


As if the "they have WMDs" insistence that launched the re-invasion of Iraq never happened and never got exposed as utter fraud.

It all depends on where one goes for their "news". Various sites broke down why the claims of yellowcake were wrong within days of the presentation of the evidence.

And various places have pointed out the disconnect between the reality and what was pitched over the years.

Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal (200+ warheads) and 2nd strike capacity from submarines, so attacking Israel would be mass suicide for the Iranians.

However the nuclear threat would likely deter some of the Jewish diaspora from returning to Israel and may frighten some Israelis into leaving their country.

This would be anathema to the Christian fundamentalists who think that the second coming, as per the book of revelation, must necessarily be preceded by the return of all Jews to the holy land. So Iran's nuclear program stands in the way of the Jesus and it must be stopped at all costs.

The people who belive that also believe that God will protect Israel so if - and I say IF - they follow this logic, they should not need to worry.

But remember that the Bible fortell repeatedly that humans will cause global enviornmental destruction, yet lots of people in these circuits say that humans can not destroy the creation, and they use theological reasoning to back it up. We are looking at a crownd of people with very strong biblical opinions, where not all of them actually have read the Book very caresfully. And that is a combination I don't like much. -Hence the 'if' in the above paragraph.

The people who belive that also believe that God will protect Israel so if - and I say IF - they follow this logic, they should not need to worry.

Many of the "fundamentalists" believe that most of the population of Israel will be annihilated in World War 3 first. The remaining Jews then cry out for Jesus Christ to return and convert to Christianity. Christ then reappears.


Satan knows that once Jesus returns, his career is over. But he also knows there will be no Second Coming until the Jewish people ask the Messiah to return. Therefore, if Satan could ever succeed in destroying the Jews once and for all before they have a chance to plead for Jesus to return, there would be no Second Coming and his career would then be eternally safe.

...During the period of the persecutions of the Jewish people, approximately two thirds of the Jewish population of that day will be killed, but one third will be left in the closing days, weeks, or months of the Tribulation. The Campaign of Armageddon is specifically organized by Satan for the purpose of annihilating once and for all the one-third Remnant of the Jewish people still living.

Hopefully the fundamentalist fringe will remain just that, a fringe. I once met a woman who thought she was Jesus Christ (I kid you not). It takes all kinds to make a world.

Btw, the mainstream churches of the American middle tend to be quite pacifist. They don't get the press's attention - which caters to the loudest voice on the podium - or television programming time - which caters to the highest bidder.

What I find very remarkable about most of the fundamentalists (who are, by and large, mostly American) is that they leave the US out of the apocalypse story. If these are truly end times (and they seem quite convinced that it is), then how is it that the most powerful, richest, influential, military machine on the planet is left out of the biblical account? Unless of course it is mentioned (in suitably symbolic disguise) in which case America may not be the "light on the hill" but instead is the beast or the harlot or some other sinister manifestation of Satanic dominion. Who knows? One has to be careful (and I will add, humble). As the biblical account also suggests, religious zealots are often the best candidates as partners in evil rather than God's salvific plan. The religious leaders of Jesus' day weren't exactly his biggest fans.

Then again I heard rumours that Obama is the anti-Christ. Same thing was said about George Bush. The script seems to be ever changing to suit people's whims.

I have confidence that such odd-ball opinions carry little weight in the halls of the US State Department, CIA, and the Pentagon. These mandarins, no doubt, show signs of equally odd-ball opinions, but together a thinking approach to world affairs is a likely outcome. Politicians may cynically court the religious right for its purposes, but when all is said and done, their worth in the overall scheme of things may be as mere cheerleaders to otherwise unpopular public policies of war and peace.

If these are truly end times (and they seem quite convinced that it is), then how is it that the most powerful, richest, influential, military machine on the planet is left out of the biblical account?

Let me offer a sugestion. In history many empires have come and gone. The last one to go was the Soviet Union. All empires will cease at one time or another. The US will not last, nor will anyone else. I live in a part of Sweden that is wedged in between Sweden and Denmark, and my land have seen more wars than any other place on earth after the Holy Land. We have been both Swedish and Danish. Both was at their own time empires in their own might. But nothing last for ever.

The question left to answear is how fast will the US empire end? I don't know. But it is clearly on its way down now. China on the other hand is on the way up.

To return to Biblical speculation, there is a prophecy about one future day when Eufrat/Tigris dry out. When that take place, a very large army will march in from the land beyond the river. The land in question is not named. There was a limit to geographical knowledge at the time, either the author did not know, or anyway the audience did not so there was not much point in naming names. Will this army be the Peoples Army of China? I don't know. But I fail to see how the US will be a big player in say 40 years from now, to take a number from a hat. The UK needed a few decakes to lose most of their colonies. How fast will the US lose their military bases?

You are looking at something called "dispentionalistic pre-milennianism". There are also ordinary pre-milennianism, as well as post- and a-milennianism. Those isms are a few different ways to look at the escatological events portrayed in the Bible (not only Revealtions, almost every book in the Bible have something to add, the Bible is a very prophetic book).

DPM emerged in the 19:th century in a movement that also spawned Jehovas Witnesses. That should say something about it. You talk about fundamentalists. Well, I am one, and I am highly critical of DPM. It is basicly a mess, an extremely complicated way to make heads and tails out of the escatological parts of the Bible. DPM is also the idea behind the "Left Behind" books and movies.

I won't go more into the details of my critisism to the theory here given the nature of this site, but can add that dominiations older than the 19:th century in most cases are not subscribing to DPM, since the idea was not invented by then.

...dominiations older than the 19th century in most cases are not subscribing to DPM, since the idea was not invented by then.

You can thank the Reverend John Darby, not exactly the life of the party, for the (doctrinal?, heretical?) gem called dispensationalism. Besides the Jehovah Witnesses, this off-the-wall interpretation of scripture gave rise to such joyless and cranky off-shoots as the various Brethren movements. Spread to the United States through Cyrus Schofield's Schofield's Reference Bible, it was a big influence on Southern Baptists, and was promoted by the likes of Jerry Falwell.

Jedi, you call yourself a "fundamentalist", which I suspect has a different connotation in Scandinavia than in the English speaking world. I think what you mean by the word is that you follow the core or "fundamental" doctrines and values of your faith. There are many Christians (liberal, Catholic, and orthodox included) who would/could fall under a similar definition. However, in American parlance, (I'm guessing here) you would be more likely classified as an "evangelical".

"Fundamentalists", in popular jargon, are understood to be those who hold an exclusive claim to fundamental truths, narrowly defined and confessional, which presupposes biblical infallibility as well as inerrancy.

The most clinical definition of "fundamenalism" is that you subscribe to 5 base statements that 95% of all christians do. (Idon't remember the list now,but there are this thing called Google if I ever need it). Other than that, the rest is cultural. I am scandinavian and not totally in synk with what is going on in the US, and fully aware that the word is used differently fromplace to place.

What I mean with fundamentalism is that I subscribe to Luthers "sola scriptum" theorem. No more, no less. However I also subscribe to logic, and logic existed before the scripture did (before the Universe existed as well). Any interpretation of scripture must follow the principle of logic (which is why DPM is out the window for me). Also, the Bible can not contradict science, since science is aplied logic. Hence, if you prove to me that the earth MUST be 6000 years old for the Bible to work, I will cease to be a christian. As an example. I am also an evolutionist.

Guess that discqualifies me as a US type stereotypical fundamentalist.

US fundamentalists are (much like US conservatives) nothing of the kind the name ascribes to them.

We have a funny way with language over here. Orwell would be impressed in a mortified sort of way, I imagine.

The five tenets of Christian Fundamentalism are:

The inerrancy of the Bible
The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ's miracles and the Creation account in Genesis.
The Virgin Birth of Christ
The bodily resurrection and physical return of Christ
The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross

Fundamentalists believe the Bible is the literal inerrant word of God and that the earth (and universe) was created in six literal days just a few thousand years ago, along with the first man and first woman and all the animals that ever existed. Then Adam went around and named all the animals. Genesis 2:19-20

Ron P.

The way you put it, I am not a fundamentalist. I read Genesis in what I call a "symbolic historical" way. When Adam gaind the forbidden knowledge, to me that was an evolutionary step. And so on. In fact it was reading Gen 1 and then seeing how similar it was to geologic history that put me on the road to abandon Young Earth Creationism, some 15 years ago or so. Not compatible with die hard fundamentalism.

But those are the 5 tenets yes.

It should be remembered that even the medieval church did not read the Bible literally. It was seen as symbolic, especially the OT. Attempting to read it literally was considered torturing the sacred text.

One reason the church gave for being opposed to translation of the text into vernacular languages was that naive people would think that it was to be taken literally. They may have been on to something, as it turns out.

naive people would think that it was to be taken literally

Also the meanings and understanding of a given language changes with time, so the naive reader could easily misunderstand.

It's a nice excuse for maintaining (via the lesser evil of burning at the stake) a monopoly, too.

My protestant view is they wanted to hide the text from the people so they never figured the priests was lying to them. Just my 2 pence.

I believe that's called damning by association, but I'm not sure which direction it's supposed to flow. I do know neither Witnesses nor American fundamentalists would be enthused about the linkage.

You are correct. However there are a historical relation between the two. At least according to my religion-history.

But as my friend put it: "The more you study religion-history, the more complicated it gets."
In other words; once you have a theory you are happy about; don't learn more. Or it will break.

"In other words; once you have a theory you are happy about; don't learn more. Or it will break."

I have found this to be very true in my experience, JW!

We are looking at a crownd of people with very strong biblical opinions, where not all of them actually have read the Book very caresfully.

Americans get an 'F' in religion

Sometimes dumb sounds cute: Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, isn't laughing. Americans' deep ignorance of world religions — their own, their neighbors' or the combatants in Iraq, Darfur or Kashmir — is dangerous, he says.

His new book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn't, argues that everyone needs to grasp Bible basics, as well as the core beliefs, stories, symbols and heroes of other faiths.

I refuse to learn the ten commandments, because of my faith. I consider them obselete. (Not wrong, just obselete). But that is another story.

However the guy is right; religious study is an important matter. One needs to know how people think, and with atheists beeing less than 5% of world pop, religion is a major contributor to the way the world think. No matter what we like or not about that.

And to tie this back to oil; religion is important in many places where the oil either come from, or is used.

I tie it back to oil by pointing out that many people have very strong opinions about subjects like religion, energy or climate change when they are fundamentally ignorant about the facts. They are usually not shy about voicing these opinions, but are very hard to convince that what they believe is factually incorrect. In America we have the saying, "He knows just enough to be dangerous."

People who are completely ignorant about a subject are safe because they know they are ignorant. People who are quite knowledgeable about a subject are safe because of their knowledge. In between are all of the people who know enough to be dangerous ... and in America, we have an awful lot of those people!

50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married

That cracked me up!!

Having been raised by religious parents - sunday school, first communion, confirmation - I had until marrying a flower-child type girl naively assumed everyone knew the provenance of common phrases such as "prodigal son", or the less known "scapegoat", amongst other things that pop up in every day English.

Turned out all of those phrases were just blowing by unexplained, and I suspect this is true for the majority. Other phrases include, "Good Samaritan," for example, was to my wife just a phrase she'd learn to associate with a helping hand - but she knew not at all what it really referenced.

Why are we concerned that people don't know the obscure mythology of one religion or another? I mean, so what?

I'm more concerned that they don't understand entropy and energy concepts.

Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal (200+ warheads) and 2nd strike capacity from submarines, so attacking Israel would be mass suicide for the Iranians.

Which is exactly why there almost no chance Iran would ever attack anyone with nukes...

Too many paranoid people in this country.....

If the idea of MAD is broken - then Iran getting "the bomb" is an issue.

If MAD is valid policy - then who cares who has "the bomb"?

" However, the most important issue is still Iran's attempt to destroy both Israel and the USA with nuclear weapons."

Surely that's an exaggeration. Whatever nuclear capability Iran might have could severely damage Israel, but destroy the US?

Remember the RAND study on a nuke attack on Los Angeles - the effects and ramifications go way beyond the immediate event and the financial situation is even less stable than it was considered then.

When the machine is unbalanced, badly maintained and wearing out - it only takes one well placed spanner in the works to make it tear itself apart. The resilience is gone.


The study subject, a war-game, is a 10 kiloton attack on the Port of Los Angeles delivered in a shipping container.

One aspect of "The resilience is gone" is JIT, the Just-In-Time supply-chain management that is now so commonly in place. (The report also refers to "Exactly In Time".) This means that there is almost nothing in the back room... like at Walmart or the market, where what is on the shelf for immediate purchase or use is the total of what is available.

The report assumes rational, moral, and legal functioning of media, government, and major institutions. It further assumes a huge loss of value.

Me... I remember Los Angeles TV channel 9 (basically CBS) teasing ads with post-911 anthrax horror... and the same ten words offered as the story after returning from commercial...BAU. The medical abandonment of the 911 ground-zero workers. How the news's reflexive sensationalizing made everything much worse. I remember the L.A. riots of 1992: when the police hid in their stations. 15-to-1? That works for them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2YWNLO6OTo&feature=related ... And they are hell on young girl protestors, but, well, how many do you count in this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc_SgpyJWRY ... I remember insurance companies routinely turning away from paying major losses... Mayor companies offering to pay 20 billion in damages while speaking through their corporate news media... and then fading away. Officials telling the people that the radiation was safe or non-existent. I remember the government using events to revoke liberty... and then the rise of belief that the government itself did the deed... The gleeful march to new wars under flimsy pretense.

I don't think blowing-up some small number of newly impoverished consumers within a bankrupt city is going to make much impact on the bigger picture. The port's shipping traffic can be diverted at a cost to the remaining vast majority of consumers. The damages can go unpaid. The injured can bleed-out. The important people will be flown to safety. The scattered herd has a huge incentive to listen to official reports and return. There will be an orgy of consumption: hording, generators, the restorations to minimal levels of comfort. Fact is, 99% of the people have little other commercial value in today's America. This is similar to the resilience that China enjoys... part of the vast benefits our owners have accrued in this "race to the bottom".

A new war, upon some selected country, will make trillions.

Nihilism happens when you are lied to repeatedly.

At least we can console ourselves with the happy news that the U.S. is now a net exporter of oil.

Bless the young and their efforts.

The study subject, a war-game, is a 10 kiloton attack on the Port of Los Angeles delivered in a shipping container.

And what was ever the outcome of the old news about radioactive sand in a shipping container found in the Gulf some 3-4 years ago?

However, the most important issue is still Iran's attempt to destroy both Israel and the USA with nuclear weapons.

When did that happen? I must have missed it.

I guess you blinked....

Apologize for ambiguity: I meant present continuous tense:
"Iran's ongoing attempt to develop nuclear weapons to achieve Ahmadinejad's clearly expressed explicit intention and prayer to annihilate Israel (the "little Satan") and the USA (the "great Satan")

Hitler made numerous statements against Jews. He then carried those explicit threats out in horrific detail.

When such explicit threats of genocide and national destruction are made by someone who is seeking the ability to do so, it is wise to listen and take appropriate precautions! - unless you wish to prematurely turn into ashes.

Ahh I see - you were discussing the fantasy you made up. Here I thought we were talking about reality. Give it a rest - go flog this stuff on some other nutjob website.

Agreed. David - this is nuttery. Please post it somewhere else.

Biased translations. Not reality.

Special seats are set aside for Jews in the Iranian Parliament - a fact rarely mentioned by the war mongers.


The Iranian Emperor Cyrus the great liberated the Jews from their Babylonian exile. For this he was called "Messiah," the first time the term was used of a non-Jew in the Old Testament, and the first time the term took on the meaning of not only 'king' but 'savior.' Ezra and Nehemiah spent much time at the Persian court.

This is from wikipedia...which quotes a christian science monitor report, you can look up the reference.

"Khomeini didn't mix up our community with Israel and Zionism – he saw us as Iranians."
-- Haroun Yashyaei, a film producer and former chairman of the Central Jewish Community in Iran

In addition to that Jews in Iran haven't reported any religious persecution of their community, in fact there are twenty-five synagogues in Iran and their status as a religious minority is protected by the constitution, there is some amount of discrimination (again from wikipedia's references) but there is absolutely no evidence that the Persian government is trying to wipe out Jews.

The world is not so simple as you assume, it's multifaceted and for some people that's hard to digest because it does not align with the stories they have heard. As others have already written here, this site is populated by people with a technical bent of mind who look at facts and don't buy stories. Take your war-mongering somewhere else.

Yes, asymmetric war is a major challenge. However, the most important issue is still Iran's attempt to destroy both Israel and the USA with nuclear weapons. e.g. see Rosenberg's The Tehran Initiative.

"The Tehran Initiative" is a novel, a work of fiction. One should not confuse fiction with reality.

Ron P.

Unfortunately there are people in positions of power who confuse fiction with reality everyday....

I know that was true in the past...,

Reagan and Bush Jr. come to mind........

Darwinian / Ron P.
Re - "a work of fiction" - agreed. However Joel C. Rosenberg has a remarkable string of books whose plots read like the newspaper events about when they were published.

Nine months before the September 11th attacks, Rosenberg wrote a novel with a kamikaze plane attack on an American city. Five months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he wrote a novel about war with Saddam Hussein, the death of Yasser Arafat eight months before it occurred, a story with Russia, Iran, and Libya forming a military alliance against Israel occurring the date of publishing,[9] the rebuilding of the city of Babylon,[14] Iran vowing to have Israel "wiped off the face of the map forever" five months before Iranian President Ahmadinejad used similar language,[15] and the discovery of huge amounts of oil and natural gas in Israel (a major gas discovery occurred in January 2009).[16]

Rosenberg conducts very detailed research in the preparation of his novels. He describes his research and the background context in Epicenter 2. In Inside the revolution, Rosenberg explores the radical Islamic revolution, the Democratic revolution, and the Christian revolution, in the Mideast/Islamic countries. In his weaving in facts, I find Rosenberg similar to Tom Clancy.
I encourage you to address the facts around which Rosenberg crafts his novel. The challenge in the West is that so few are aware of the issues he raises.


It's worth reading the Wikipedia article on Mr. Rosenberg. It was revealing. Personally, after reading it, I think Mr. Rosenberg has an agenda.

Not to be confused with Joel Rosenberg (the sci-fi author), who is no longer with us, but had some finely nuanced perspectives on Israel and the Middle East.

Is it possible that David Hagen and Rosenberg are one and the same person? Sounds like it considering how Rosenberg is being promoted here by David Hagen.

Pardon the facts, but "America's First Conflict with Iran" came in August of 1953, with rather radical consequences, not the least being the destruction of the secular Iranian left and the encouragement of Islamism-as-resistance.

You can take it up with the author of the book, but in any case his principal point appears to be that this was the largest surface engagement by the US Navy since the Second World War.

That may well be, but what we did in '53 was the Work Order that has led to all of these subsequent contracts.

All that talk about 'whether a Muslim Nation can handle democracy?' during these last wars, all after the US and UK had directly undermined an elected leader of Iran, and installed the compliant Shah.. just because he wanted to nationalize some oil fields.. the nerve!

Your comments about the USS Stark brought back some vividly sad memories for me. My first time aboard a US warship, as a contractor, in the Persian Gulf, was several days aboard the USS Stark, in 1984. I was berthed in the engineers berthing compartment, port-side forward, where the Iraqi missile struck in 1987. I take what happens to our Naval forces in that part of the world very seriously.

I spent nearly 20 years, of my civilain career, working on Naval Surface Warfare Systems. During the first Gulf War, I visited every deployed AEGIS cruiser in the Middle East conducting performance tests.

I take the Iranian threat seriously. They have the capability to interfere with shipping traffic through the Straights of Hormuz, possibly even closing it periodically. Eventually the combined naval forces of the US and NATO will be able to re-open the Straights, but there are serious risks to our ships in the Persian Gulf. If the Iranians are Hell-Bent for suicide missions, they could launch a mass raid attack, against one of our ships, using every available aircraft, missile, patrol boat, cigarette boat and even zodiacs. This type of attack has had our Navy concerned for decades.

Anyone who thinks that we can easily defeat the Iranians without a severe cost in lives and treasure has never spent much time in the Persian Gulf.

Tanker Wars 1988-1990 : US Military Partnership with Saddam Sours with Kuwait Invasion


Even a serious threat will frighten the money markets. Insurers will kill cover for oilers the minute something real happens; and from there on in it’s anybody’s guess. But expect oil prices to rocket and any nascent economic smoke and mirrors recovery to be reversed. I just hope that the US doesn’t believe the propaganda about it's being energy sufficient, because in that case a supply cut to Chindia might appear (to political idiots, of whom there are many) like a good idea economically. Some of them might see America’s economic competitors suffering from energy shortages as a good thing.

Unfortunately..., some propagandists do believe their own propaganda....

They've programmed themselves too....

Kreml (in the good old cold war days) knew it was important not to believe their own propaganda. They lied as much as anyone else, but they (mainly the KGB) KNEW they lied. US propagandist is much more prone to buy their own lies. If you do, you become the slave of them. That is dangerous.

Yes markets raised insurance premiums >100 fold during the "tanker war". However shipping continued even though "By the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian forces had attacked 190 ships from 31 nations, killing at least 63 sailors." See:
Inside the U.S.-Iran War: Petroleum at risk

Any attempt by Iran to close off access to the gulf would be counter-productive to say the least.

As would trying to take Iran's exports off of the market. But the US and EU seem bent on trying to make it so...

U.S. Joins EU Push to Embargo Iran Oil Over Nuclear Effort

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration and European governments are seeking help from Arab and Asian allies to reduce Iran’s oil revenue in the dispute over its nuclear program, while trying to avoid causing a surge in prices that may threaten the global economic recovery.

The most wide-ranging effort to date to target Iranian income, the strategy includes a push by France and Britain for an embargo as soon as next month on imports of Iranian oil by the 27 European Union countries. EU nations, the U.S. and Asia- Pacific allies discussed possible measures in Rome yesterday and vowed to increase pressure on Iran, the world’s No. 3 crude exporter in 2010, to abandon a suspected nuclear weapons program, according to an Italian Foreign Ministry statement.

Current sanctions are biting into Iranian currency...

Iran’s rial plunges to new low against the dollar

TEHRAN: Iran’s currency, the rial, plunged to a record low against the dollar Wednesday, trading at 15,800 to the greenback on the street market, to the concern of officials.

The depreciation marked an acceleration of a long fall in the value of the rial as Western sanctions bit into Iran’s economy. The United States and Europe are expected to impose further measures in coming weeks.

The slide undercut avowed Iranian policy to keep the rial steady against the dollar.

I'm afraid that we will keep pushing them into a corner and they will see lashing out as their only option. I hope that this posturing by them is only a bluff, but I don't think that our own hand is strong enough try and find out!

Much of what comes out of Ahmadinejad's mouth is for domestic consumption. The economy in Iran is in the toilet and about to get much worse. Nothing rallies the folks like sabre-rattling.
The powers that be in Tehran are scared of the Arab Spring, and the question is whether they are neocon enough to launch a war.

Ahmadinejad compared the sanction resolutions to "a used Kleenex" near early October.

Oddly, I can't find the quote, just references to it.

I hope both sides have the discipline and foresight to move away from this brinksmanship and bluster. It is a dangerous game of chicken that both sides are pursuing.

You’re too rational…,
you make too much sense…
Allow me to show you some typical responses to an AP story on the same subject from Yahoo…..

Completely Satisfied 3 hrs ago
Iranian naval vessels make excellent artificial reefs.

Here's some solutions. Why not build that pipe line from Canada and drill our own oil? Why we continue to deal with people and countries who hate us is crazy. We should raise the price of our food we sell to a comparable level to oil. Let them eat their oil and we will eat our food.

Don 5 hrs ago
we have plenty of oil,,,but I was told back in the early 70's that the U.S.A. wants to use foriegn oil to run them dry, so we can be the Super Country.

JS • 5 mins ago
Iran is starting to get pretty cocky here lately. God help them if they try to take on the U.S. 5th fleet. I think it'd be a massacre.

It appears Joe six-pack has a ton of hubris and a short term memory….

What are the odds Obama would risk another gas price spike this close to the next election…?

Yahoo is one of the best sources of crazy ranting quotes on the web, and therefore one of my favorite places to read news articles! The Obama administration seems to be treading quite carefully in regards to Iran. Unfortunately, AIPAC/Congress critters are doing everything they can to press us into WWIII. The Senate passed the Menendez-Kirk Amendment to the 2012 Defense Authorization Act.

The Menendez-Kirk Iran Sanctions Amendment would restrict U.S. financial institutions from doing business with any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts significant financial transactions with Iran's Central Bank, a critical conduit of international financial support for the regime. Iran derives 80 percent of its hard currency from its ability to sell its crude oil, which is dependent on transactions through the Central Bank. The amendment also freezes any Iranian assets in the United States, and requires the president to start a "multilateral diplomacy initiative" to convince other countries to cease oil imports from Iran.

The act passed with a vote of 100-0! I did not think it would be possible for all Senators to agree on any piece of legislation unless it was an affirmation on the cuteness of kittens!

The House passed their own version. The vote was 410-11! In the House, I don't think you could even get this much bipartisan support even if you were affirming the cuteness of kittens!

David Cohen from the Treasury Department testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He laid out the threat that the interruptions to the flow of Iranian oil might pose to oil prices and hence, the global economy.

Anytime I hear the typical, "We have to stop Iran from getting a nuke," I ask, "Are you willing to pay $10 a gallon for gas for an extended period of time to support that goal?"

Yahoo is one of the best sources of crazy ranting quotes on the web

I would have guessed Fox would be the craziest.

I should have posted the comment on Yahoo from some yahoo who who responded to someone who was worried this could drag Russia and China into any potential conflict with Iran

he/she said, "BRING IT ON...!"

It appears some people in this country have never heard of mutual assured destruction

We may have one third the nukes we had just prior to the end of the cold war, (more or less)..., but that's still mad.......

It appears some people in this country have never heard of mutual assured destruction

Maybe they have, and they think it would be jolly to usher in the End Times. Why wait for god's choosen time, when you can bring it on during your lifetime?

The end times will come in our life time. If you are young enough. At least acording to us doomers here on TOD.

We should raise the price of our food we sell to a comparable level to oil. Let them eat their oil and we will eat our food.

Absolutely, I agree. If export oil prices from OPEC are going to chomp into our economy, then why should be play nice when it comes to the price of grain going to the ME?

Except that "we" don't set the price of either oil or food. Supply and demand, mostly. (But to some extent subsidies etc.)

We COULD set the price of grain to a very large extent if we were to make an effort to do so.It would be a lot easier to drive the price thru the roof than to drive it down very far, as the situation in respect to farmland, water, fertilizer and so forth is similar in some respects to the situation with oil- resources and spare capacity are in short supply.

The rest of the world would find it hard indeed to make up any deliberate cutoff of American supplies.

But in my estimation, there is no chance at all that the federal government of this country would even consider implementing such a policy under any immediately foreseeable circumstances.

Oil shocks & food prices

Here in Canada, we do/did have mechanisms for 'centralized' fixing of prices through our marketing boards (milk, chicken, turkey & eggs) and until recently, wheat & barley via the Wheat Board.

But fixing of prices and deliberate withholding of exports may not be necessary in any case: oil shocks are almost always accompanied by spikes in food prices. A truly major oil shock (as could/would occur if there were open hostilities in the Gulf) would surely affect every link in the food supply chain, perhaps most acutely our struggling family farmers and long-distance food imports.
Under such a scenario, we might struggle to place affordable food on our own supermarket shelves, in which case exporting to ME would be a non-issue.

Grain prices are controlled in any number of ways.

Of course, a really bad crop will drive up prices and a bumper crop will drive them down. But we dump massive amounts of excess grain on foreign markets (devastating those markets, even as we call it 'foreign aide), we subsidize ethanol and other absurd ventures, we pay farmers to keep land out of production (sometimes for very good reason), we pay farmers to grow commodity crops...there are any number of ways the price is controlled--mostly propped up.

Yet we live under the illusion that we live under a free market and we are all atomic rugged individualists.

Our delusions are truly boundless.

I agree, Dohboi

We should add Cargill and ADM to your list of controlling influences....

Adm and Cargill can't control the price of grain to any serious extent, although their market muscle enables them to earn more than they should.

There are literally hundreds of thousands to millions(depending on what you call serious) independent producers, and there are numerous ways of marketing that bypass these two corporate monsters.

The price of grain is controlled mostly by the marginal cost of the farmers who grow and sell it.

I can't easily buy a tanker load of physical crude oil, but anyday I choose to do so, I can buy as much physical grain as I can pay for and move to a place I can store it.

I can buy corn, wheat, and soybeans direct from farmers in any desired quantity.So can anybody else with the desiee and wherewithal to pay.

Nature sets a hard upper boundary on production which varies with the average weather and another because there is only so much good land and nearly all of it is under cultivation already.

The days of dumping farm commodities are pretty much gone and won't be back, barring a miracle.The Texas Railroad Commission hasn't capped Texas oil production for four decades or so now.

I do agree that most of the govt sponsored marketing and production control programs have been detrimental to consumers and small producers.

It is clear enough to me that I am not getting through to the member ship here when I point out one example after another of the mechanism that enables such foolishness-big government.If we didn't have TOO BIG big government, there would be no such programs.

Programs of this general kind have contributed mightily to the ruin of small farmers such as yours truly while they have made millionaire welfare queens out of those well enough off already to take advantage of them.They also employ a few more thousands of useless parasitic bureaucrats who do nothing useful but feed on the blood of the productive elements of society.

I am not arguing against government as such-we could have a carbon tax for a hundredth of the cost that would work, as opposed to ANOTHER hog trough called carbon credits for the lawyers, cpa's , lobbyists, and other assorted parasites to wallow in.

As an EDUCATED and scientifically literate conservative, I understand the need and justification for sound environmental law and so forth.

I understand that we should be working feverishly to ramp up the renewables industries, and am not opposed to subsidizing these industries due to the magnitude of the problems facing us, but there is no justification at all for subsidizing production agriculture other than by supporting freely disseminated research and education.

I support building and fire codes because these have proven to be cost effective ways of protecting the general public from ignorant , reckless, or unscrupulous individuals and businessmen-this protection being a proper function of government.

Big government in effect actually issues licenses to such individuals and businesses enabling them to trample on the rest of us.For instance, the last time i checked, over half of my automobile insurance premium goes to cover court related costs rather tan to reimbursing the victims of automobile accidents.

I support publicly funded compulsory education, as this is obviously necessary to the successful long term functioning of a modern society, but there I draw the line.The teachers and their associated political allies have turned the system onto it's head-it is one of the worst performing systems in the world, but one of the best funded.

(Like the post office, it exists primarily to take care of it's primary constituents-those who collect the associated salaries.My cousin the mail carrier is paid more for less work involving little real responsibility, once his bennies are figured in, than anybody I know.You can bet that he will make his voice heard over a thousand like mine when any reduction in force or reorganization of the post office is mentioned..)

It is utterly naive to believe that it can be reformed from within.It has contributed mightily in the wrecking of many of our cities-I know dozens of people personally who have fled places such as Richmond, Roanoke, and Petersburg once their kids were old enough to attend school, including more than a few minority parents.

I know more(I should say "used to know" since I have been back in the boonies for some years now and have lost touch) minority parents who would JUMP at the chance to organize a private, FUNCTIONING school if they could obtain the money currently being spent in NONFUNCTIONAL schools to pay the bills.

It won't happen of course, because the vast majority of teachers are opposed-hardly any are interested in competing for students because that means competing for their jobs;they would actually be held accountable for results.

Of course it is also utterly naive to believe that the principle of limiting government to those functions necessarily performed by government will ever be implemented.

For those who have not read them, I strongly recommend two little books titled "The Peter Principle" and "The Peter Prescription".

But when I post thoughts such as these I have some hope that a few readers might gain a little additional insight into our predicament.

They are short, humorous, and chock full of insights into the nature of bureaucracies.

Hi, Mac

You said, "anyday I choose to do so, I can buy as much physical grain as I can pay for and move to a place I can store it."
So can I, but the critical aspect is "a place I can store it."

Most farmers have limited storage space on their farms and with the ongoing closure of local elevators and branch rail lines, they have limited storage available elsewhere.
As with milk and meat producers, when it's time to sell, they pretty much have to.

To say that ADM, etc have little control over grain prices is like saying that XL and Cargill have little control over beef prices.
If you or I don't like their price, we can hang on and gamble on getting a better price, but the only certainty in that strategy is our own additional costs.

Yes-we working farmers have to sell when the crops come in, but we don't have to plant.Production ultimately controls prices , to a far greater extent than demand, because ag prices are highly inelastic for the most part.

Farmers plant more when they are making money and less when they aren't so that the average price usually fluctuates in a band centered on overall production costs including return on investment and management, over a period of a few years, except when subsidies lead to overproduction by lowering effective costs.

A few products are kept in short supply by production controls, sugar being the primary example these days.This was the case with tobacco too up until a few years ago.I need not add that in all cases, such shenanigans are only possible-and legal-when enabled by big government.With a govt sanctioned quota system, a production cartel is not only legal-it's mandatory.

I'm not sure what the penalties are , or were, in the case of sugar and tobacco, but they were adequate to make it virtually impossible to profitably grow and sell a hundred pounds of tobacco "on the side".I have lived around small farmers in or near tobacco country all my life and never knew one to grow any tobacco for sale outside the quota system so long as it lasted.

My guess is that if you tried to grow and sell some sugar without one of those impossible to obtain allotments, you would wind up in federal court very quickly indeed.The sugar business in the US is sewn tighter than Bilbo's traveling companions when the spiders caught them.

ADM and other corporate monstrosities should be outlawed imo, but they actually make very little money in terms of profit per bushel or ton of grain.

If they didn't exist, the price of a loaf of bread here in the states might go down a fraction of a cent, or it might not.You get a lot of loaves of bread out of a bushel of wheat.

That's it, Rick. We're price takers, whether at the elevator or the sale yard. Isn't a buyer out there who cares about your cost.

And when buyers band together to drive down the amount they'll pay, their only risk is not enough to fill their contracts. Where corporate beef buyers really control the price is by also controlling the other end-butcher/packing costs. They can squeeze both ends, or take their profit from one side.

Absolutely, Doug

XL and Cargill are not only the buyers, but they are also the packers.
Not only that, they have their own extensive feedlots of 'captive cattle' which they can inject into the market any time they find the live price gets high (please see p. 14-16):

You are correct re price of wheat vs price of bread.
My father-in-law used get incensed over a box of Corn Flakes, saying that the box cost Kellogg's more than the corn.

No wonder the next generation often has little interest in farming.

Well, OFM, I taught college-level environmental economics for 30 plus years. The basic idea of markets misbehaving is well understood by all economistoi going all the way back to Adam Smith. It's something widely ignored by the radical right (note I did NOT say conservatives!). A large part of my course was devoted to showing how a pure free-market system would misbehave and, therefore, government intervention/regulation would be essential to secure a good society.

What I failed to understand for a long time was the difficulty and damaging effects of setting up a system of gov't regulation: legislators understand almost nothing and have zero experience of the industry they want to regulate; they rely on "experts" to advise them about how to best regulate -- but these experts typically come from the industry and more so from the large firms that have paid good money to campaign funds to advise (I.e. To buy) the legislators (which small producers/farmers cannot afford to do). So the one-size-fits-all laws will favor the large producers.

Of course the agency personnel who write the actual rules will be heavily lobbied by the large producers who can pay for access that small producers can't afford. The rules will not generally favor the small guys and will be watered down (look at the rules governing dairies and dairy farms, or look at how the rules are being watered down for the new consumer finance agency). Finally, of course, the regulators and inspectors in the field have immense power over firms and each of them has their own personal agenda.

I'm not really surprised that gov't regulation doesn't work well. Or should I say that I'm surprised by the instances where it does work well?

By the way, a cap-and-trade system (setting up a pseudo-market) would be the most effective way and involve the least gov't intrusion for regulating carbon emissions IF it were well-designed. But there's the rub, isn't it?

I agree-a cap and trade would be ideal IF only you or anybody else could figure out a way of keeping the parasite classes-the tax accountants, the lawyers, the bankers, and so forth from consuming the savings and maybe even actually making the situation WORSE by locking us into a regulatory strait jacket.Bad ideas once enshrined into govt budgets and possessed of a constituency of those benefiting from them are almost impossible to kill.

Thank you for distinguishing conservatism as such from the radical right and the republican part in general by extension.There are very few true conservatives in the ranks of the republicans by choice these days-those of us who remain engaged in politics are often there as a result of viewing the republicans as being the lesser of two evils, but personally I wish a pox on both parties.

We obviously need a LOT of governmental regulation.

We need a way of making it efficient just as badly.

Aspirin would be a tightly controlled drug if it were discovered today.Ditto heartburn remedies such as calcium carbonate.I can't smoke a little pot if I werre to want to, which has never in my rolling stone experience extending all the way back into the sixties made anybody any meaner than he ordinarily is, but I can legally souse myself with alcohol and then go out and shoot my own best friend or run over my own kid with a car.I have personal knowledge of both of these things happening as a result of drinking alcohol.

We suffer economic and therefore second order environmental hardships that almost certainly outweigh the savings from having slightly cleaner air and and slightly fewer serious accidents because we cannot buy European spec cars, which get much better fuel economy.

We would be far better off to use less fuel in European spec cars and spend some of the savings on any pressing public health issue.

Yeah, I think the US Navy can keep the strait open. I worry about the Iran doing a desperation spoiler move and just launching a massive air & missile strike against all the Saudi oil infrastructure that is just sitting there on Saudi Arabia's east coast. That will send oil prices into the stratosphere such that Iran will at least be able to get a high price for the lesser amount of oil they are able to sneak out of the country.


You would certainly have a more valid opinion than someone like myself, a non-vet and non-US citizen. I just wanted to add that such an event would distract a lot of scrutiny from the world-wide economic mess, create a scapegoat for deteriorating economic conditions going forward, and provide a new venue to make money for the 'wealth creators' who make arms and/or serve on company boards. Plus, the little dweebs who do not go 'into harms way', nor do their children, could bluster up and act like decisive 'men', thus saving the world as we know it.

When the ww1 reparations became too onerous, a nothing to lose dictator was unleashed. If the sanctions continue to fester, why wouldn't the Iranians bring everyone down to their level? If we were getting beat up and humiliated we might want to get in a few swings and kicks of our own. I don't think we would turn turtle and apologize.

When someone is on the end of a branch with a saw, you suggest a ladder. Shaking the tree won't help. Silly analogy, perhaps. However, there needs to be a reason beyond threat for the Iranians to back down.

I would suspect that the Straits would reopen on the destruction of Iran and the world economy. I don't think it would ever be safe to operate in going forward.


Paulo - You make a very good point IMHO. Assuming some logical/sane approach by Iran would be similar to assumptions made about the Japanese reaction to the oil embargo prior to 11 Dec 1941. Within every govt there are extreme positions competing for control. Historians say the Japanese oil embargo gave their military the leverage needed to push their "vision" through. Given what looks like a rather unstable Iranian govt who knows what faction could come to dominate.

The threat over closing the straight reminds me of an exchange between a reporter and a famous general who was recognized for running into a mine field to recover a wounded trooper. Somewhat sarcastically, the reporter commented that the mine field was thought to be rather small. Without a smile on his lips the general asked the reporter if he knew how many mines it takes to make a mine field. Without saying another word the general supplied the answer with just one finger. I'm sure Ghung understands that answer better than most...doing regular abandon ship drills keeps such thoughts close to mind. Mine fields, similar to snipers, are not so much tactical tools. They fall more into the realm of psychological warfare. Their value is in altering the actions of your opponents. But to be effective the other side has to believe in the possibility. A company can be stopped cold by a paddy with no toe-poppers as easily as by one with a thousand. All they have to do is believe the threat is there. And that's the challenge...creating the belief. A sniper can lay down one shot and then completely withdraw from the area. But as long as the other side thinks he's still out there he's just as effective as if he were. The question now is how far will Iran go to maintain belief in the threat.

"Shock and awe" would be an understatement.

An America that was not so insanely oil dependent could just shock and awe the world by letting the closure happen and shrugging it off. Iran needs cash. We need to need oil less than they need cash.

"Shock and awe" would be an understatement.

An America that was not so insanely oil dependent could just shock and awe the world by letting the closure happen and shrugging it off. Iran needs cash. We need to need oil less than they need cash.

Did I just read that on TOD...???

That is nuts. Remember, there really IS an unlimited supply of money. We can print it ad infinitum. Iran cannot print oil, though. It really is limited. So... we do need oil more than they need cash. Until the oil is all gone, at which time my prediction: the cash will be gone as well.

Shock and awe, indeed.


"That is nuts. Remember, there really IS an unlimited supply of money. We can print it ad infinitum. "

At which point Iran switches to a currency that is not thus debased. Neverhteless, they need to import lots of commodities and finished goods to live their way of life, just as we do, so they do need to find buyers for their oil.

If we needed to consume oil less than they needed to export it, it would shock and awe the world and enhance our stature and power.

You were a sailor ? I understand that Iranian Navy is no match for US but isn't it easy for someone to pepper the area with sea mines ? I heard they are very expensive and time consuming to clear.

I understand that Iranian Navy is no match for US

But are the fast sea skimming missiles a match?

1/ I don't believe that sea skimming missiles are effective against high flying aircraft
2/ I don't believe they can be fired effectively from ships operating in total immersion mode.


Ghung re shock & awe
That was "politely" asserted today. See:
Iran warns of closing strategic Hormuz oil route

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's navy chief warned Wednesday that his country can easily close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a sixth of the world's oil flows.

It was the second such warning in two days. On Tuesday, Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened to close the strait, cutting off oil exports, if the West imposes sanctions on Iran's oil shipments.

In response, the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet's spokeswoman warned that any disruption "will not be tolerated." The spokeswoman, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, said the U.S. Navy is "always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation."

When Iran previously tried to block the Strait of Hormuz, it did not succeed!

When Iran previously tried to block the Strait of Hormuz, it did not succeed!

Then by all means, we let's legislation and embargoes to force Iran's hand......

Make your day, eh? I remember that kind of overconfidence in Viet Nam.

Say, anybody here remember a few months ago... the Chinese sub that "accidentally" surfaced inside a US carrier group COMPLETELY UNDETECTED? I suppose China might sell a few of those to it's friends -- perhaps in exchange for a slightly used drone. Not so unthinkable to close the strait or sink a few big warships, is it?

Well, at least that completely invalidates the point...
@@ (rolling eyeballs)


What ways could be used to clear a Strait of Hormuz blockage?
EIA posts World Oil Transit Chokepoints

Flows through the Strait in 2009 are roughly 33 percent of all seaborne traded oil (40 percent in 2008), or 17 percent of oil traded worldwide. . . .
Alternate routes include the 745 mile long Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, across Saudi Arabia from Abqaiq to the Red Sea. The East-West Pipeline has a nameplate capacity of 4.8 million bbl/d. The Abqaiq-Yanbu natural gas liquids pipeline, which runs parallel to the Petroline to the Red Sea, has a 290,000-bbl/d capacity.
A new bypass is currently being constructed across the United Arab Emirates that is expected to be completed in 2011. The 1.5 million bbl/d Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will cross the emirate of Abu Dhabi and end at the port of Fujairah just south of the Strait. Other alternate routes could include the deactivated 1.65-million bbl/d Iraqi Pipeline across Saudi Arabia (IPSA), and the deactivated 0.5 million-bbl/d Tapline to Lebanon. Additional oil could also be pumped north via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline to the port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, but volumes have been limited by the closure of the Strategic pipeline linking north and south Iraq.

The Gulf Cooperation Council GCC prepares for blockage of Hormuz strait>

Conventionally, it takes quite some time to raise a wreck. e.g., 19 January 2011 Sunk tanker blocks Rhine navigation

The wreck of a 106m long product tanker at Sankt Goar, has blocked traffic between the ARA seaports and much of the Rhine basin

MV WALDHOF, carrying 2400t of sulphuric acid, sank last Thursday at the notorious river bend at Sankt Goar, underneath the Lorelei midway between Koblenz and Mainz. . . .
The salvor (Mammoet) and the Rhine authorities estimate it will take another week to get the equipment in place to raise and remove the wreckage. Mammoet expects the salvage to take up to four weeks, in which case it would be completed by 20 February.

What methods could be used to clear the Strait of Hormuz if a 150,000 deadweight ton tanker was sunk across one of the sea lanes?
Conventional methods would appear to be a challenge:
A supertanker is a bit bigger than mechanical claws to raise a submarine.
Lift bags have been used on smaller vessels.
Some propose forming ice in/around a sunk object.
It would not be as deep as the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Can the hole(s) be plugged and refill with oil?
Or could "explosives" be used to clear the blockage?
Build pipelines around it?

Chossudovsky: US will start WW3 by attacking Iran:


I can't watch the video right now, but the basic statement is uncomfortably plausible.

X thanks for this link. It scared the hell out of me.

But Chossudovsky says that 70% of the world's oil reserves lie in this area, (from the tip of Saudi Arabia to the Caspian Sea), and that is why the US is demonizing Muslims. I don't know whether that is true or not but 70% or the world's oil reserves does not lie in that area. That is one of the dangers of this great lie propagated by OPEC. It may not have anything to do with peak oil but it certainly has something to do with world peace.

Ron P.

Always good to check out "the guy".

"He is founder, editor, and director of the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), which is "committed to curbing the tide of globalisation and disarming the new world order"."


Never heard of him before. Seems a sane guy to me.

Hey wait, he thinks HAARP is a WMD device? Alowme to restate thatlast post: He seems like a conspiracy theorist to me. If the Wiki article is correct.

From the Wiki link above:

HAARP: Chossudovsky claims that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is actually an operational weapon of mass destruction, with the power to alter the weather, disrupt regional electrical power systems, and modify the Earth's magnetic field, as well as potentially trigger earthquakes and affect people's health.

In an op-ed in the Western Standard, Chossudovsky was listed as one of Canada's nuttiest professors "whose absurdity stands head and shoulders above their colleagues." Specifically, the op-ed criticized GlobalResearch.ca as "anti-U.S. and anti-globalization" and Chussodovsky's "wild-eyed conspiracy theories

HAARP triggers earthquakes no less. This guy is obviously a fruitcake, a conspiracy theory wing-nut, how can anyone pay any attention to anything he says.

Ron P.

RT clips always leave me wondering about the motivations of those who produce them. Here is a person stating his view of the Iran situation as fact, over quick cuts of vaguely Persian-looking people working in generic industrial settings. ?

Meh. RT puts lots of wingnuts on with exaggerated opinions. This seems to be one of them.

"What methods could be used to clear the Strait of Hormuz if a 150,000 deadweight ton tanker was sunk across one of the sea lanes?"

The Straits are about 34 miles wide at the narrowest point. The combined established sea lanes are about 10 miles wide. It would take many super tankers to inhibit access through the straits at all.

The issue is what is the shallowest portion at the choke point, and international vs internal waters?

Security flashpoints: oil, islands, sea access and military confrontation

the depth of the water is usually a comfortable 55 to 110 m

However, if Iran excludes its "internal sea" then (see p 316, p 327)

would generally be limited to 20 m depth (65 feet) . . . . . to remain in waters at least 20 m depth (about 65 ft deep) a ship would . . .would be impassable for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), and most if not all Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs) . . . Some ULCC's have depths of 22.4 meters (73.4 feet).

Do you have any current information on the minimum channel clearance below these VLCCs and ULCCs in the main channels vs if excluded from Iran's "internal sea"?

PS In 1979, The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz p 2 reports:

a minimum depth of 9 fathoms

David - Actually if they could block the SOH to the larger vessels that wouldn't prevent the oil from moving out of the PG eventually. Simply a matter of lightering from smaller tankers to the big boys outside the SOH. Granted, that would cost a little more money/time but the oil would still flow. But even then only if the threat of attack were reduced significantly.

Agree on the ability to lighter around - with strong air cover.

The outcome of WWII was determined when the Russians stopped Hitler from accessing oil to the east, and when the Allies finally were able to bomb Germany's coal to syn fuel factories. See Role of Synthetic Fuel in WWII Germany. The US is rapidly lagging behind on fuel availability in this round.

It would take only one single tanker.

Remember that Iran, as opposed to Iraq, is a country that actually can defend itself, not just armed with peasants with pitchforks.

Iran possess very many Sunburn missiles. Each of which has quite potential to take out a modern warship. Used against huge defenseless target like a tanker, success ratio is likely 100%.
IF they sink one defenseless tanker, insurance for the next tanker will skyrocket so high that no other boats will traverse there.

Sunburn can be carried on trucks and has an operational range of over 100 miles.

I would not expect any brinkmanship in this area for now.
You only grandstand when against defenseless opponents unless you are stupid.

My point is that it would take more one one tanker to physically block the straits. I also mentioned upthread that insurance, etc., is a different matter. Guess you missed it....

I doubt that sinking a single tanker, or even a series of them could block the shipping lanes through the gulf.

From your EIA link above...

At its narrowest point, the Strait is 21 miles wide, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles, separated by a two-mile buffer zone. The Strait is deep and wide enough to handle the world's largest crude oil tankers, with about two-thirds of oil shipments carried by tankers in excess of 150,000 deadweight tons.

Blocking the lanes isn't the goal per-say. Causing insurance rates to rise to the point where no one is shipping is as effective as an actual blockage.

We frequently hear about pipelines being the secure alternative to shipping oil by sea. But are they really that secure? Consider that:

* Pipelines are few in number and their routes are static and well-known

* In most cases they are either above ground or only a short distance underground

* "a camel and a few pounds of explosives" (as JHK put it) are all it takes to blow a hole in a pipeline, if one can get close to it. This has happened several times in the Sinai in recent months, leaving Israel and Jordan short on NG supply from Egypt

* an entity with access to guided missiles (such as Iran) can hit a pipeline from far away

* in case of a world war, superpowers can hit pipelines from the other side of the planet, using intercontinental ballistic (or cruise) missiles.

The terrorists of the RAF and USAAC (US Army Air Corps) did their best to shut down German (and French, Belgium, etc.) railroads.

In Occupied Europe, local resistance helped as well.

Some disruption of rail operations, but the only notable success was around D-Day.

Best Hopes for redundant rail lines,


Probably no war effort in the history of war efforts was as useless as the strategic bombing of Europe in WW2.

For background read the memoirs of Albert Speer or the actual report of the US comission assigned after the war to evaluate said bombing.

edit: clarification

Politics live within the military establishment just as surely as anywhere else.

The bombing worked very well-or not well at all-depending on who you listen to.

I have spent many a long evening reading military history, and have read dozens of books over the years dealing with various aspects of WWII.For every report or book , there is another "proving" the opposite conclusions.

The bombing worked-not as well as it could have, but it destroyed and/or tied up enormous numbers of German men and huge amounts of equipment that otherwise could have been used on the offensive.It shortened the war considerably.

A lot of modern writers who seem to think that because bombing didn't bring Germany to her knees in short order that bombing cannot win a war today.

But if a modern air force with modern munitions is turned loose without restriction to simply win a war , no holds barred, once air superiority is achieved, IF it is achieved of course, an industrial society could be bombed back into the stone age sure enough, and in fairly short order.

The reason this has not happened -so far- is that nobody has fought a no holds barred war yet with a modern air force.The orders have so far specified that essential civilian infrastructure be spared to the extent possible, for the most part.

Anybody who thinks strategic bombing didn't work in WWII once the gloves were off such take a look at the photos of fired bombed German cities.

In WWII, it took dozens of sorties and hundreds of bombs to hit a bridge sometimes.

With modern munitions, dozens of bombs could conceivably be dropped, or missiles fired, before the first one MISSED the bridge.Not likely of course, but not impossible.

One single heavy bomber loaded with conventional rather than nuclear bombs could probably take out the water plant at any major city to the extent that there would be no water in the mains for many days or weeks by simply hitting the incoming power lines.A second trip might be necessary to take out any backup power system.

But I do agree that bombing doesn't work too well if employed against water buffalo.You can't destroy essential water works with bombs when the water works consist of a path down to the river bank.

You can't destroy rice paddies with bombs either-they are too easily restored with a shovel.

It is problematic as to whether a country such as Afghanistan can be bombed into submission;I would argue that if pursued without compunction, a bombing campaign could at least destroy the ability of anyone within the country to project force outside the country.But to make them surrender and actually live up to the surrender terms- to do that you would probably have to kill them all.

This is not to say that I am in favor of bombing anybody-I'm just trying to ensure that the arguments pro and con in respect to this particular military tech are better understood.

One of the first recon photos of Hiroshima in the days after the atomic bomb showed a steam train going through absolute devastation.

The strategic bombing of Germany had an effect in a number of areas - but nothing significant with rail except responding to D-Day. There, the intense bombing and all out French sabotage did slow the rail logistic support of the German defense.


It is true that railroad track is very easily and quickly repaired except possibly if bombing destroys tunnels or bridges.The Germans were extremely good at it.

And most railroad cars and all locomotives are incredibly heavy duty machinery-a bomb must hit one dead on to destroy it;otherwise it is likely to be repaired and in use again very quickly if it suffers a near miss.

Railroads are no doubt the most robust form of high volume long distance land transport available by a couple of orders of magnitude.

I'm not familiar with the train mentioned in Hiroshima, but I'm not surprised.The bomb was an airburst at fairly high altitude and while it knocked down buildings and started fires, it did not destroy anything much in the lines of sidewalks or gravel foot paths-things built flush at ground level out of non flammable materials mostly survived reasonably intact.

Good points, especially the two-sides-to-every-argument bit.

So let me introduce yet another side.

The difficult thing to measure is the psychological impact.

On the one hand, intense bombing is claimed to have a 'shock and awe' effect on those exposed to it.

But what I have heard from interviews of those who were actually bombed in various areas is that it inspires a deep and profound loathing and contempt for the bombing nation. It strikes them as an utterly cowardly and cruel act to rain down what inevitably is indiscriminate destruction on populations from miles above. There is no trace of historic norms of military valor in it.

So, while a successful bombing campaign may well be able to take out crucial infrastructure, it is not necessarily a very useful tool in winning 'hearts and minds.'

And as you point out, it was colossally unsuccessful in Vietnam over all (though obviously very effective in individual cases--after all, we one every battle but still lost the war).

The problem is that people think in terms of binary logic, it either forces a surrender, or it was worthless. The reality is more fuzzy. IIRC, German production of war material was approximately halved by the bombing campaign. That was surprising to the allies, they expected to be able to almost halt it, the Germans showed unexpected resilence. But imagine if instead of half production, they had been unmolested, maybe they could have doubled war production. As it was, even with half only production levels, they were still a formidable adversary. If they had had twice or four times the equipment, it would have been a lot rougher proposition.

I'm currently reading Halberstam's book War in a time of peace. He reports that after Gulf War I, a commision was convened to ask the hypothetical regarding modern bombing capabilities applied to WW2. The claimed bottom line, was with 48 F117s, they could have won in six weeks! [Now whether that fictional alternate history would have played out had the capability been magically available??]

And if Germany had (ww2) Tiger tanks in the First World War they'd have smashed the allied lines and got to Paris. The same tanks used in ww3 would no doubt be worse than useless. It goes both ways, F117's may be just as useless in the future.

Whoever is successful in ww3 will change the rule set and invalidate today's military thinking. Take away the targets and most of today's weaponry is rendered useless. That doesn't mean people don't get killed, it just means deaths and destruction don't change anything.

And if Germany had (ww2) Tiger tanks in the First World War they'd have smashed the allied lines and got to Paris.

They did in second world war and almost all the way to Moscow. I can not find the statistics but if I remember it correctly the major problem for German army was that the Russians built like five or ten times as many tanks.

Indeed. As Uncle Joe said "sometimes quantity has a quality all its own".

Russians built like five or ten times as many tanks.

Its hard to find a military analyst who thinks the T-34 wasn't the best tank in the war. It was not only numbers, in the case of battle tanks it was quality as well.

The idea that all of their stuff was junk built in quantity was likely cold war propaganda. From what I understand their equipment, tactics was pretty good, as well as plentiful.

The united states did the same with the sherman tanks.

Except the Sherman tanks were crap (but better than the British tanks) and no match for the advanced German tanks which were developed for the Eastern front. The German Panther tank was the Germans attempt at copying and refining the T34. But it was still no match for the T34's which at one point were coming straight out of the factory and into battle a few streets away. The fact that the T34's could fire on the move and at a rapid rate made them formidable and seemingly lead to the defeat of the Germans during the biggest tank battle ever at Kursk. The German tanks had to be stationary when firing while the Russians advanced at full speed firing all the way until they were amongst them.

"You can't destroy rice paddies with bombs either-they are too easily restored with a shovel."

Except for those pesky bits of unexploded ordinance blowing up every now and again. Oh and the chemicals and metals dispersed into the environment. But I guess that's long term destruction, it doesn't matter to military planning.

You don't block it by sinking a tanker. You simply mine the hell out of the channel. No Transport company is going to risk moving through a known active minefield especially since your insurace carrier would void the policy.

Now say US navy moves it and takes control you still have to clear the mines and reopen the channel. You can close down the channel for 2-6 weeks probably about a month.

Does this not accomplish the goal of creating chaos on th world markets even if there ends up being no real shortages.

Final kicker is you don't have to drop a single mine just say you did.

Re: mines.
Iran tried to mine the Strait. It slowed but did not stop tanker traffic. Iran was forced to stop after strong US response. See:
Inside the U.S.-Iran War: Petroleum at risk
See also my post below

Lots of new mine tech. The nasty ones are essentially torpedoes moored to the seafloor and will easilly break the keel of most ships. The Gulf is also quite shallow which creates a new battlefield with real marines.

Of course, the whole pretense--Iran's peaceful nuclear power program that has yet to see ANY diversion of fissle material that could be used to create an atomic weapon--is a similar set of lies the US and UK used as "facts" to fit around the policy, as the Downing Street Memo disclosed. The economic war against Iran has continued since 1979, but it cannot break Iran because of its location. Then there's the events few in the US or UK are aware of thanks to the Propaganda System. These events are nicely recapped in an excellent article by Pepe Escobar. And with China winning the right to expolit Afghan mineral resources, the strategic loss for the US/UK Empire is already manifest. As The UK learned 100 years ago, a maritime Empire cannot conquer the Heartland--that Geopolitical Pivot coined by MacKinder--without bankrupting itself. History does repeat itself mysteriously, just as hubris has always been folly, as Greek Drama often illustrated.

Ron Paul has it right: We must close our bases and end the folly of trying to conquer the planet before we find ourselves bankrupt and without any remaining civil/legal rights.

Re: Oil from tar sands one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, up top:

Tar Sands Oil Extraction - The Dirty Truth


Re: Hopping mad Uganda power cuts hit grasshopper harvest linked up top

Sounds like the perfect solution to this would be some relatively inexpensive solar generators with LED lights. Paradigm change is so hard!

Scientists test sick Alaska seals for radiation

SEATTLE — Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals' fur coats.

Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

A ringed seal displays significant hair loss on the Artic Ocean coast near Barrow, Alaska

I am glad they are testing this. When I first saw news about these symptoms a few weeks ago, radiation was my first thought. I sent a note to the AFWS about this - but chances are they were already suspecting this.

If radiation is the cause, this could have alarming implications for the Alaskan Seafood Industry, especially top predator species like salmon and halibut.

I've sometimes thought the Fukushima disaster to be not unlike one of the seven biblical plagues written of in Revelation - could it be, if one reinterprets from its original language with Fukushima in hindsight ... ?

More barbaric than clubbing them, imho.

Also, the article mentions that the seals lost their fear of humans.

In early November, I had a very bizarre incident when I was surfing in Santa Monica when a seal swam up to within six feet of me.

While one experienced surfer have told me that this happens sometimes, the guys in the water that day were all old hands, and they told me they have never, ever seen a seal deliberately swim directly towards a human, and get that close, as that guy got to me. They also said he "didn't look right," and I agree.

I certainly never have seen anything like it, and I've been at the same spot for five years or so, 10-20 times a year.

Could mean absolutely nothing.

I wonder if it could become a safety issue. They worry about Sea Lions on the SF piers. If one wanted to it could easily knock a human into the water and finish him off. In the water, a human versus seal fight would be one sided in favor of the seal.

I went on a scuba diving trip in Baja Cali in the mid-80s. We dove in a cove where sea lions swam all around and inbetween the divers, clowning around within a few feet of everyone until they got bored and took off.

It was a awe-inspiring and felt more than a little dangerous!


That sound really cool-- and that would have freaked me out for sure. Half the fun of scuba is getting the crap scared out of you one way or another.

But there's something vaguely familiar about that behavior, like it's something I've seen in an aquarium at feeding time. Clowning is what seals are supposed to do.

What got to me was this guy was swimming on the surface like a dog, straight towards me, looking right at me. Maybe he was just curious, or in a strange mood, but it just didn't seem RIGHT, somehow.

I didn't want to run because I didn't want to show fear, and he could have caught up to me easily. If he had come closer, I have no idea what I would have done... put the board between us, I suppose. What if he jumped on the board? Take off the leash and swim away, I guess.

I really hope the water isn't that bad yet. I don't think Heal The Bay-- or anyone else-- is testing for Cesium 137 in SoCal.

And if there is testing going on - who's gonna tell the public the bad news?

I've had a seal come up to me while windsurfing in the SF Bay. At first I was shocked . . . how did this dog get this far out in the bay? I thought I was going to have to drag him into shore. Then I realized it was a seal.

More barbaric than clubbing them, imho.

As a teenager I worked at an industrial supply store in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where we outfitted vessels of the sealing fleet. The clubs that were used were made of heavy metal (much like a crow bar except thicker and weighted) with a hook on the handle to hang/drag the carcasses.

Seal pups have soft skulls (helps when being pushed through the birth canal). One crack with the club generally did the trick. While there were no doubt inefficiencies within the killing process, I would suggest no worse than what happens inside the average slaughter house.

IMHO, the cruelty involved in the mechanized factory system of farm management that is designed to satisfy our insatiable appetites for meat and dairy outdoes anything that took place on the ice flows. What's more, the seal hunt was highly regulated and supervised. The same cannot be said for the average fall hunting season where the denizens of the forest are left to the whims and devices of yahoos with guns.

The seal hunt, alas, is no more. The prying eye of cameras and exposure to a squeamish public worked its magic. Instead the robust and ever growing seal herds are culled every spring by fishery officers who shoot them and leave the remains for the marine food chain. But that's all outside the gaze of the press and celebrities.

Btw, Rootless, I do agree with your point. Radiation poisoning (or any other type of poisoning) is far, far, far more barbaric than clubbing the seals. I'm just quibbling with the idea that clubbing was all that barbaric - relative to other human activities concerning animals. We don't treat our fellow creatures very well. This story may prove to be yet another example of that.

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

Combining the intellect of Malcolm Gladwell with the irreverent humor of Mary Roach and the paradigm-shifting analysis of Jared Diamond, a leading social scientist offers an unprecedented look inside our complex and often paradoxical relationships with animals.

I highly recommend this book. It challenges many of the strange mores, taboos and beliefs we have about animals and their treatment. This section was one of the more interesting, comparing the life of a rooster raised to be a fighting gamecock to that of a factory raised chicken. Many people get quite upset at the thought of roosters being used to fight for gambling, yet don't give a whit about the chicken that ends up on their dinner plate.

Dog Food, Or Dogs As Food? Depends Where You Are

Herzog doesn't shy away from the messier areas of that moral life. He devotes one section of the book to the underground phenomenon of cockfighting, and comes away with an uncomfortable conclusion: "A McDonald's chicken a suffers a much worse fate" than a gamecock, he tells Raz, "and I suspect you would be with me on this if I described the life of a game rooster and the life of a McDonald's chicken."

A gamecock lives for several years, often in pampered luxury, before it goes to its fate; a chicken destined for the plate lives about seven weeks, often in terrible, painful squalor.

"Now this is in no way to argue that cockfighting should be legal," Herzog says. "I don't think it should be legal. But on the other hand, it is a bit of a paradox that people get so bent out of shape about fighting roosters, and the suffering of chickens is probably the world's greatest animal welfare problem."

Thanks, phreephallin. Interesting interview and if it's anything to go by, would be a very interesting read. Guess the baby seal's big eyes foreordained their plight as a cause célèbre.

Too bad for the world's amphibians and reptiles... and the out-of-sight, out-of-mind lowly chicken is really SOL.

Good to test that, but remember a lot of chemical contaminants were swept into the ocean by the tsunami as well.

My bet is that whether of not there was radiation exposure they won't find anything conclusive from the test and they should be doing a general toxicology run.

I tend to agree with you. If it was radiological damage one wave of a Geiger counter should be enough.


A scintillation counter is a better option. For the home experimenter Zinc Sulfide (the non glow part of Radium watch dials) sputter coated on a camera lens and then watch the light spots on the camera.

Works best if the sample material is reduced to ash as I understand.

If the radiation levels are high enough to cause the sort of damage to the seals that is being reported then the area should be humming. As in 'Forget taking more measurements and get the H[redacted] out of here!' humming.


Closing Hormuz might be "easy", but what will come afterwards will not be easy on Iran.

My thinking exactly. Closing the strait would be on the todo-list for anyone who wanted to unleash the apocalypse - and I am not confident that the Iranians would not want that - but of limits for anyone else.

Why do the words "Mother of all battles!" spring to mind? Sure...go ahead....sink a tanker....watch what happens next. The only beef I've got is that after we take over next another ME country, can we PLEASE keep the oil this time?

Well..., maybe we didn't steal Iraqi oil but will did liberate it.....

The only way the U.S. gets to keep the oil is to exterminate the indigenous population and repopulate with their own people. President Obama is not ruthless enough.

Well yes. But, then the bully always thinks his victim wouldn't dare. Somehow, it might not turn out the way he expects.

And who exactly is the bully here?

I think I've seen this play before (in 3 acts no less!). I don't see this ending well for anyone.

Link up top: Financial apocalypse 2012

There are six (very short) pages to this link, each listing a possible disaster that could happen in 2012:

Collapse of the Euro zone
Geopolitical oil price spike
Pop of the China housing bubble
U.S. banks fail en masse
Government derails the recovery
Natural disaster strikes

The possibility that all could happen is practically nil but the chance that at least one of them will happen is very high. In fact one of them has already begun.

Chinese Real Estate in Early Stages of Bubble: Chanos

The popping of the Chinese real estate bubble has just begun, with the nation likely to experience the types of problems the U.S. has encountered over the past five years, hedge fund titan Jim Chanos told CNBC.

There is a 10 minute CNBC video from December 9th at this link with Jim Chanos, hedge fund manager and Chinese expert. He says only 5% of the Chinese economy is exports but 70% of the Chinese economy is construction. Chanos tries to be optimistic and says that China will survive the meltdown but I am not so sure. We have already seen rioting in China because of food prices and housing problems. A complete meltdown of 70% of the economy would very suddenly throw hundreds of millions out of work. We could see, and I believe will see, total anarchy in China in the very near future.

Ron P.

Combining China's housing debacle with drastically reduced exports to the west will likely result in financial disruptions such as monetary policy changes and cashing in western debt (for whatever it's worth). The systemic implications are pretty huge. Globalism has set a lot of traps for itself :-0

China Currency Manipulation: From "Enough Is Enough" to "Not Enough To Certify"

In November President Obama said, "enough is enough" to China's currency manipulations. Today the Treasury Department said it hasn't seen enough to call China a currency manipulator. This is happening because certain powerful interests are benefiting tremendously and using their wealth and power to keep things from changing.

... Wall Street opposes addressing the currency imbalances, and has made it clear through their front-group Club For Growth that Wall Street will oppose House members who help bring this up for a vote. And right now Wall Street has more influence in DC's ongoing influence scheme than those who want to manufacture in the US, thereby bringing jobs, factories, industries, innovation and money back to the US.

"The possibility that all could happen is practically nil "

Why ?

Seriously, the list looks like a line of dominoes - one event a catalyst for the next.

Well the last "Natural disaster strikes" is not related to any "unnatural disaster". And the second "Geopolitical oil price spike" would not happen if any of the other four hit. Anything that causes a recession, or makes the current recession worse, would likely cause oil prices to collapse. But yes, any of the other four could be like dominoes and all four happen.

Ron P.

""Natural disaster strikes" is not related to any "unnatural disaster"."

Natural disasters can trigger economic disasters which could put more pressure on all the others on the list.

Also, I agree with your last sentence.

Thin ice... no sudden mooooovements please...

Natural disasters can trigger economic disasters

Also, an unnatural disaster could leave a country unprepared to deal with a natural one, converting a run of the mill ND into a big time loss.

Jim Chanos, hedge fund manager and Chinese expert. He says only 5% of the Chinese economy is exports but 70% of the Chinese economy is construction.

China's exports: $1.6T
China's GDP: $5.9T
Exports as fraction of economy: 1.6 / 5.9 = 27%

All three data sources I checked - CIA WFB, Wikipedia from CNN, and US-China Business Council agree on these numbers. Accordingly, it seems likely that Chanos either misunderstood or was misunderstood.

In particular, note that China's non-export economy is about 70%, and its exports to the US are about 5% of its economy, so it's possible those were the numbers in question and there was some confusion about what they represented.

Chanos looks at net exports. China so far this year has imported something along the lines of 1.4T USD, making for a net of 200b, which is about 200/5900= 4ish percent or so.


The possibility that all could happen is practically nil

All happens on 12/21/12

Wow, reading through today's top links only made me think:
This Is What Peak Oil Looks Like

A super power desperately trying to cling to BAU...???

In his latest novels:
The Twelfth Imam
The Tehran Initiative.
New York Times bestsellers, Joel C. Rosenberg describes events that might lead up to Iran trying to close the Straits.
Thought provoking page turners!


Take your war-mongering elsewhere, please.


Hey, calm down, the guy was just posting links he thought we might be interested in. There is no reason to get hyper about it.

Ron P.

Learn from Sun Tzu, The Art of War

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

When Ahmadinejad explicitly declares his intention to destroy both Israel and the USA, and when he is very clearly seeking the nuclear means to do so, it is prudent and wise to take that very seriously. e.g., See:
Eradicating the 'Little Satan': The West should take Iran's threats to Israel seriously. ZE'EV MAGHEN

Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah, and the Democrats Joel C. Rosenberg

WND on Iran Satan

Today's news explicitly supports Rosenberg's description of the likely US involvement to "support" Israel while delaying any action.
U.S., Israel Discuss Triggers for Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure Dec 28, 2011 4:45 AM EST

The Obama administration is trying to assure Israel privately that it would strike Iran militarily if Tehran’s nuclear program crosses certain “red lines”—while attempting to dissuade the Israelis from acting unilaterally.

I prefer my nuclear power 149,597,870.691 kilometers away, (92955807.267 miles) not less than 100 km unprotected!

See, that kind of stuff works well on some people, but there are a bunch of folks here who are perfectly capable of thinking for themselves, and see through that kind of shallow, simple propaganda pretty easily. Not really the best audience for that kind of crap.

Yes..., I fear Iran....

I fear their ATOMIC bombs that don't yet exist....

and their missile system that can't yet deliver a payload to us.....

Just like I fear for those with semi-automatic weapons that have to contend with someone holding a squirt gun or sling shot.....

Squirt guns can be very dangerous when aimed at someone's eye.....

Ahmadinejad explicitly declares his intention to destroy both Israel and the USA, and he is very clearly seeking the nuclear means to do . . .

As I understand it, Ahmadinejad has projected that Israel will disappear because of its own internal contradictions. Iran has not attacked another country in centuries. Nuclear experts say there is no evidence that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons at present, though they are prudently seeking means to build them in future, to counter the actual nuclear arsenals of Israel and Pakistan. Not to mention those of the USA. Remember Iraq's WMDs -- a pretext for war.

Further, Ahmadinejad is President of Iran, a ceremonial office. Real power is held by Ayatollah Khamenei.

Someone on Drumbeat usually points out these facts when DC conventional wisdom pops up in these discussions.

" Iran has not attacked another country in centuries."

Argentina. 1994.

For starters.

Depends on the definition of attacked. A lot of countries fund terror groups that harrass percieved enemies. We fund the hated MEK, which harrasses Iran (and by our bylaws such funding should be totally illegal). And the Soviets certainly would have classified the Mujahedin as terrorists. They have engaged in low intensity conflict for sure. But, nothing that poses an existential threat, or even a threat to take a slice of territory.

Iran has not attacked another country in centuries.

Um, is that really a good basis for defence planning?


Please. We've been over this issue repeatedly here. And WingNut Daily is not exactly the most reliable of sources.

Mr. Hagen, did you catch the part about knowing yourself there? If you and your ilk weren't courting immense catastrophe, your citation of that passage would be falling-down funny.

Meanwhile, call us when Israel signs and complies with the NPT. Call us when the United States convenes the global disarmament conference required of it by that treaty, for that matter.

This is the reason the Iraq war didn't go very well, the reason was the chickenhawk neocons running it had no idea of what war was like and how people responded to it. They had zero understanding of “the enemy” (which was al Qaeda, not Iraqis). What explanation did GWB give for 9/11? “Because they hate our freedoms”. Huh? How does hating the freedoms that someone else has motivate someone to a murder-suicide?

OBL did 9/11 to provoke a certain reaction from GWB, to invade Iraq. It worked and the US pissed away a few trillion and all the “good will” the world had for us after 9/11. Are we better off because of the Iraq war?

The original idea of “shock and awe” at the opening of the Iraq invasion was that the Iraqis would be so “shocked and awed” that they would surrender. Did they? No, they did not. Was there any reason to think they would surrender? What level of “shock and awe” would it take for US troops to simply surrender? Are Iraqi troops that different? Did the neocon chickenhawks know the Iraqi mindset well enough to know that it is completely different than how US troops would behave?

This is the same delusional mindset that those who think they can stop Iran's nuclear program with a few bombs. How many bombs would it take for the US to abandon a nuclear program if the US people were in the same position as Iran? 1? 10? 100? 1,000? When I have asked people what the number is, they have said “there is no number”. When I ask why the Iranians are different, the only response is “but they would have to”.

The Iranians have the capability of disrupting GPS guided munitions. That is what they did to capture that drone. If all GPS guided munitions are useless, that makes precision targeting of Iranian assets more difficult.

The chickenhawk neocons also crushed anyone in the military who in any way challenged their assumptions (eg Shinseki).

"Shock and Awe" didn't work for Japan at Pearl Harbor, and there was little reason to think it would work in Iraq. And even if you think it might work, you hardly want to announce it in advance, as the neocons did. Total surprise has a much better military track record.

Those dastardly neocons,, with their pointy waxed mustaches and black hats and villianous ethics, whom I incidentally have no more respect for than you do, didn't fail to crush Iraq utterly into the dirt-they chose not to and called of the dogs.

No industrialized country can survive a thorough going over by a successful invader except for one and only one reason-the invader calls of his dogs.

I suppose you in tended to include all the democrats who voted for that war as being neocons too, forgot to give them credit for helping .

People who understand military affairs at even an elementary level understand that long term interests lead to long term fights.

Nobody with an understanding of such things expects bombing any or all Iranian nuclear facilities will solve the problem permanently.

You don't expect to go to work just this year and retire forever, do you?

I fight rats and bugs year after year on the farm.I don't expect to EVER get rid of them, but I am reasonably confident I can hold them in check well enough to make it from one year to another.

I fight rats and bugs year after year on the farm.I don't expect to EVER get rid of them, but I am reasonably confident I can hold them in check well enough to make it from one year to another.

And yet, due to the stick-2-@t-tiv-ness of Americans the North American locust is no more.

What other Nation has gotten rid of a Biblical-plague level pest - locusts?

Here in Alberta we got rid of the rats (although they were a post-biblical plague). Locusts, rats - that's two down.

...Plague species...hate 'em...let's get 'em...

So, humans next? Oh wait...

I agree with your gist, but I think some of your specifics are wrong. The Iraqis did surrender pretty quickly after Shock and Awe, and seemed to wait a while to see how the new master would work out. Then they concluded that the new master wasn't going to be altruistic and began to ramp up the resistance. Al Qaeda, wasn't the main enemy, Sunnis, who felt they were being dispossed were the main difficulty. Al Qaeda couldn't have dome much if they didn't have the sympathy of a significant chunck of the country.

In any case a quick government collapse, versus an occupation are totally different things. The later is difficult, especially if they consider you to be a nation of infidels. And the hacks in the CPA, which were more interested in corporate profits from Iraq, rather than the wellbeing of the citizens, sure didn't help matters.

Though Shiites outnumber Sunnis in Iraq, Sunis, used to rule the country before the U.S. invaded.

Then the U.S. went in and held elections. Shiites outnumber Sunis, so Shiites now have the upper hand.

The Sunis are now minorities in a country they used to rule for hundreds of years....

Sunis aren't happy about that

The Shiites are, except when they are bombed....

When Ahmadinejad explicitly declares his intention to destroy both Israel and the USA, and when he is very clearly seeking the nuclear means to do so, it is prudent and wise to take that very seriously.

No what needs to be done is check the sources of the translation.

Because other translations have a different translation.

Re: A faithful perspective

As I have pointed out before, christian climate change denialism is an exclusive US phenomena. "Those guys" are realy realy isolated in this.

From a long historical perspective -- theological history that is -- I rather think that the current excursions of "hardline rightwing Christianity" in the US will be viewed by our descendants as one of the major heretical schisms. Their dogma and praxis are diverging farther and farther from anything recognisable as mainstream Christian tradition. So I predict they will enter the historical record as schismatics.

Unless they win, of course :-)

BTW, the (semi)light-hearted novel /Julian Comstock/ imagines a post-peak US in which the hardline Dominionists have triumphed. An interesting read w/ some fine Swiftian moments and stylish prose.

You are looking at a "pop-christianity" that has emerged in the US during the latest 30 years or so. I am an insider (but from the european horizon) and can tell that more and more people are asking WTF on what is going on. I can't say the whole complex will go away any time soon, but one can hope. There are a counter movement "on the inside" that is gaining force. I hope THEY win.

What are the prospects of Iran slowing / closing the Strait of Hormuz by attacks on tankers traversing the Strait of Hormuz?

Iran attacking the Strait of Hormuz would likely strongly increase war risk insurance premiums - or cause insurers to withdraw. e.g. See:
Inside the U.S.-Iran War: Petroleum at risk

Iran had deliberately targeted neutral shipping. By the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian forces had attacked 190 ships from 31 nations, killing at least 63 sailors. . . .

In March 1987, the United States agreed to protect eleven Kuwaiti tankers. . . .
On the night of July 23, a small Iranian logistics vessel departed Farsi Island and laid a string of nine SADAF-02 mines—a variant of a North Korean contact mine packed with 243 pounds of explosives—in shallow waters directly across the path of the convoy. The next morning, the Bridgeton struck one of these mines. . . .
the chief problem for the U.S. military in the Gulf was unconventional: the swarms of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) small boats, a combination of fast Swedish-built Boghammers and “Boston Whaler”–type small boats armed with a hodgepodge of 107-millimeter rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine guns. . . .
On September 19, U.S. intelligence detected the Iranian logistical vessel Iran Ajr getting under way for another mining operation. . . .When Army pilots observed mines being pushed over the side, the helicopters opened fire with rockets and machine guns, killing at least three Iranian crewmen. The Iranians abandoned ship. The next morning, a SEAL platoon boarded and secured the Iran Ajr as U.S. patrol boats plucked the Iranians from the water. . . .
The Sahand was the first under way, heading due south to attack the UAE-owned Saleh oil field. . . .The Iranians responded by launching a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. . . .The USS Strauss fired another Harpoon at the Iranian frigate. Both missiles hit with devastating effect, destroying the Sahand’s bridge and command center. Additional U.S. aircraft arrived and rained thousand pound bombs down on the helpless ship.. . .

During the Gulf war, premiums appear to have increased >>100 fold.
Governments can step in and provide protection and/or insurance. e.g. See:
IMPACT OF THE GULF WAR : Oil Tankers Ply Gulf Despite Insurance Costs

"For Ras Tanura, premiums are above 5% (of insured value) per voyage. Iran, a noncombatant, is almost 4%. We're looking at $5 million to insure hull and contents for a single voyage," he said. In peacetime, such premiums average around $25,000 for an entire year . . .

Insuring War Risks at Lloyds

The first broker to approach Mr. Rome, the head of one of Lloyd's 400 underwriting syndicates, is seeking $8 million in insurance for a small Saudi Arabian tanker bound for the Saudi gulf port of Jubail, where the vessel plans to load a cargo of fuel oil later this week. His customer wants coverage for the two days the ship will be within the likely war zone. . . .
Rates might easily triple or quadruple, hitting the 10 to 15 percent levels to which they soared at the height of the Iran-Iraq war. . . For a ship traveling to a safe port like New York from London, the insurance rate yearly, not just for a few days, is 0.0275 percent of the value of the cargo and 0.05 percent of the value of the ship.

Since then, Iran has substantially increased its missile capabilities. See: Iran Says Its New Cruise Missile Can 'Sink Giant Warships' etc.

Premium War Risk Insurance by the US FAA.

For context on impact of piracy, see:
Ocean Piracy and its impact on insurance

David - Even winning has its price. During that little tiff between Britain and Argentina about 30 years ago:

The British ships sunk were: HMS Sheffield, HMS Ardent, HMS Antelope and RFA Sir Galahad. The Atlantic Conveyor was a container ship pressed into service and used to transport additional Harriers and armaments. Its loss seriously curtailed the British operation.

The Sheffield caught fire when a French-made Exocet missile penetrated deep into her control room. The blaze caused a poisonous smoke and most of the crew (about 300) abandoned ship. Last I heard the Iranians were loaded up with Chinese Silkworm(?) anti-ship missiles. Supposedly the Silkworms make the Exocet look like bottle rockets. So the brag that their new cruise missils can "sink giant warships" obviously shouldn't be taken lightly.

So there's the major game of chicken I see developing: if the Iranians place multiple batteries of anit-ship missils along their side of the SOH what do we do? Send a tanker or two thru the SOH as potential trip wire? Pre-meptive attack against the launch site? And if the Iranians let the first few ships thru and then hit one a week later? Maybe they launch and abort just to show their capabilities. So many potential movie of the week possibilities.

And what if Iran buys an old oil tanker (say single hull, now obsolete, available for the price of scrap steel) and sinks it in what they claim are Iranian waters - but it blocks one of the two sea lanes through the Straits of Hormuz (one lane in, the other out).

Shallow draft vessels can still clear the sunk vessel. Perhaps some empty oil tankers can make it over the sunk tanker - but no full ones.

Iran blocks any attempt at salvage.

One sea lane is still open, but 2 way traffic severely restricts the volume (unless many empty tankers can pass over the sunk tanker)

Not an openly aggressive move (Iranian property sunk in Iranian waters - the Straits are not completely blocked), but *VERY* disruptive. Persian Gulf oil exports plummet.

And another 4 such tankers are anchored nearby, in Iranian waters, with several hundred Revolutionary Guards on-board.

And just who invented chess ?

Best Hopes for Peace & Comity,


Alan, apparently you did not read Ghung's post above.

The Straits are about 34 miles wide at the narrowest point. The combined established sea lanes are about 10 miles wide. It would take many super tankers to inhibit access through the straits at all.

Ron P.

An alternative is to anchor several Iranian flag ships at right angles to the flow of traffic at a crucial turning point in Iranian waters..

They need not be bow to stern to reduce capacity. Just force tankers to slow and navigate very slowly and carefully.

The concept is not complete blockage, but harassment and reduced capacity, with Iranian flag ships in waters claimed by Iran.


When you have navigated through Singapore Anchorage, a much more restricted space, with literally hundreds of ships swinging at anchor, the idea of a few ships in this wide sea lane would not give a skipper a moments concern.
However, mines, or the threat of the small kamikaze explosive laden boats of the type that hit the USS Cole, and shore based missile batteries - now that is a credible threat, if not in the eyes of the crew, definitely to the insurers.
Confession time . I was working as 2nd mate on board one of the Kuwaiti Gas Tankers at the time they were reflagged to the US. Declined to re-join. Sitting on 50,000 m3 of LPG in a war zone did not seem to be a sensible career path. Besides, the company would not discuss danger money :-)

Slowing a supertanker to pass through a few hundred meter gap between Iranian ships as the ship is turning can certainly be done.

With experienced pilots, ships routinely use the 90 m wide channels a mile from my home.

But the # of ships/hour that can safely do this (w/o pilots) is limited. Limited below current current traffic volume I suspect.

And the weapons carried by Revolutionary Guards on-board will raise insurance rates.

All Iran is doing is a form of harassment "as the next step", not blockading, and not an overtly hostile step. Just "throwing dust in the air".


Alan - Now you're talking buddy boy! LOL. Never thought of that...a very simple plan. I'm sure that would be a violation of some international maritime law. We could call the sea cops at the UN and have the Iranians ticketed. But on a serious note the military threat would be serious. It's one thing to mount an anti-missil defense when one is flying in from 20 clicks away...another when it's only 1,000 m. IOW no defense. What would the USN do? Fire first? Try to board? I think that would take a bigger sack to give that order then anyone in DC has at the moment.

Sometimes the simplist idea are the best. Given the how slowly the big boys can turn I doubt any capt would try to squeeze between a blockade. I

....What would the USN do?....Try to board?....

Yes, the USN would board them, and remove them.

geo - So you think an Iranian flag officer would allow his ship to be boarded without firing a shot? A ship's captain who knows his entire family (women, children, elderly) might be slaughtered if he allowed it to happen? Would you be the first to run up the Jacob's ladder?

The Navy SEALS (and I believe also USMC Recon) regularly train for boarding ships. My understanding is they are extremely good at it. They certainly wouldn't F-around with a jacobs ladder. Any resistance would be dealt with appropriately.

By the way, it is highly unlikely that an "Iranian flag officer" would be aboard. In the naval services, the term "flag officer" generally means an Admiral.

They train in interdiction missions all the time a dozen or so armed with maybe some hostages. Trying to board a warship is not exactly the same thing, but you wouldn't try and board it anyway, just remove it's offensive capability i.e. sink it.

Yes, simply sinking it would be one option. Boarding hostile warships went out of style for the simple reason that with modern weapons it became too difficult to get that close. You would be blown out of the water before you ever got close enough to board. However, in this scenario (see Alan's post upthread), we are talking about warships anchored so as to create a narrow channel a hundred meters or so wide, which would slow the tankers.

So....in the wee hours some dark moonless night, one of those tankers happens to lose stearing control at just the wrong moment, and swings wide towards one of those anchored Iranian warships....and radios a warning to the Iranians. Having a tanker bearing down on you in the dark might be just a wee bit distracting to the Iranians....no? Just when all seems lost...tanker regains steering....and everyone, including the Iranians breath a huge sigh of relief. Except while all this is going on....you get my drift (so to speak)?

The point is not that this is how it would be done. The point is that SEALS or other spec ops forces could probably figure out a way to do it.

You boys miss the point: how is the situation handled without it turning into a shooting war? Nothing offered leads to anything other than just that. Of course, we would win the war...just like in Iraq and Afgh. We don't need SEALs/Marine Recon to deal with the situation in that case. We can stand off 200 miles and take out everything the Iranians have threatening the SOH. The question was how do we deal with a blockade without firing a shot?

And you seem to miss the point that it is highly unlikely "the situation" (ie. Iran attempts to close the Strait) will happen in the first place. Closing the Strait would probably lead to further collapes of Iran's own economy (more than any US led sanction), and the Chinese are unlikely to support Iran in this situation. In case you missed my post down below, I will repeat it for you:

Closing Strait of Hormuz Might Be Self-Inflicted Wound for Iran

"While closing the Strait of Hormuz, even briefly, would hurt Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Gulf oil exporters, the Saudis also ship oil via the Red Sea. All of Iran’s exports and many of its imports of gasoline, food and consumer goods are shipped through the strait."

"Iran’s main oil terminal at Kharg Island, which has a loading capacity of 5 million barrels a day and storage capacity for more than 30 million barrels, is in the Persian Gulf. So is its second-largest export terminal, at Lavan Island, with storage capacity of 5 million barrels and a loading capacity of 200,000 barrels per day."

The article also states that 11% of China's oil imports come from Iran, through the Straits.

geo - "...the point that it is highly unlikely ...". The point is that the Iranian govt will make that determination...not me, you, or the US govt. I can't predict what they'll do. But that wasn't my point. The topic was what the US could/would do if Iran decided to interfere with shipping through the SOH. History is packed with predictions that Country A wouldn't do B which could lead to armed conflict. And some rather significant body counts proving many of those predictions were wrong. Proclaiming that Iran wouldn't do something that would cripple them in the long run sounds similar to proclamations about what the former, and now very dead, leader of Iraq wouldn't do.

...one of those tankers happens to lose stearing control at just the wrong moment, and swings wide towards one of those anchored Iranian warships....and radios a warning to the Iranians.

I think captain Hazelwood is still captaining.

Joseph Hazelwood


I suspect that air power would be the primary response. A couple of Nimitz class carriers stationed out in the Gulf of Oman/Indian Ocean could wreck havoc on Iran's surface navy; use cruise missiles and drones for land based targets. No sense in risking surface ships in the constrained area of the Straits.

Of concern would be Iran's three Russian built Kilo class diesel/electric subs, very quiet but limited range submerged. The shallowness of the Straits and the level of crew training would limit their usefulness in the area I suspect. Once they fire up their diesels, they're dead sardines in a busted can. Not much good for blue-water long range use.

Add 16 Ghadir class subs, one Nahang class sub and another deep water class under construction.



Small litoral submarines designed for the Iranian coast.

Likely good mine layers as well.

Best Hopes for Cool Heads,


Small litoral submarines designed for the Iranian coast.

Likely good mine layers as well.

Alan, a couple of points. While small diesel electric subs can indeed be difficult to detect (assuming that the Iranian's claims that theirs are state of the art subs are true), they are not invincible. Operating in shallow water makes them more vulnerable to other (non acoustic) detection methods. Also, remember, mines work for both sides. Even a 25 meter, 120 ton displacement sub requires port facilities for maintenance and refueling. If the ever the poop hits the prop, it would certainly be possible to mine the approaches to all Iranian ports. Any Iranian vessels inside would be trapped. Any outside would have a finite operational period, even if they escaped detection.

The aquisition of subs, antiship missles, etc by Iran certainly complicates things, but I think closing the Strait of Hormuz for any extended period of time would not nearly be as trivial an exercise for Iran as many seem to think. I hope we don't have to find out.

Best Hopes for Cool Heads

I totally agree! I hope for cool heads on both sides of the Straits.

Ron P.
The critical issue is not the width but the depth of accessible sea channels. See below on channel depth vs tanker depth.

IIRC there's a deeper passage close in to Oman and UAE (see Musandam Peninsula), narrow but passable. Just for reference:


The problem is the depth, not the width. the deepest the Straits are is about 90ft, and that is only in a couple of places. most of it is more like 25-50 feet, which btw creates very interesting hydrological effects when combined with the high rate of evaporation more north.
VLCCs can easily have a draft of 70feet or so which doesn't leave much of a margin of error. (and this is why the 2 sealanes are so narrow (2 miles) btw.


Depth will get you every time.

Closing the Straits of Hormuz and the Effects on Oil Prices

Note damage after a collision between USS Hartford (SSN-768) a Los Angeles-Class attack submarine and USS New Orleans (LPD-18), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock in the Straits of Hormuz. The sub was using the LPD as stealth cover and got caught, so to speak, between a rock and a hard place.

Thanks for the link. I spent most of my last navy years on a similar LA Class boat, before they moved the sail planes to the bow. This incident was a major screw up:

A repair contract has been awarded to General Dynamics. Repairs were initially expected to cost $37.4 million and be completed by January 2010.[4] However, as of November 2009, repair costs had already exceeded $100 million.[5] Final repair cost was $120 million when Hartford returned to duty in February, 2011[6]

Not sure how they got the Hartford back to the states; you can't just lift a nuke powered vessel out of the water the way they did the Cole (reactor cooling and all that). My sympathies to the crew if they had to steam her home on the surface. Even moderate seas will beat the crap out of you in a surfaced LA class.

BTW: Your linked article contains one glaring error, that the Hartford is a 2800 ton vessel. LA Class boats come in at over 6000 long tons, nearly 7000 fully deployed.

The Hartford returned home to Submarine Base New London after a month-long surface transit from Bahrain. http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=72194

Another screw-up: In January 2007, the nuclear-powered submarine Newport News struck a Japanese oil tanker

USS Newport News Collision: The Ultimate Zoof ?

The Navy has apparently come up with an explanation for how the USS Newport News (SSN 750) hit the Japanese tanker M/V Mogamigawa that actually makes some sense and may spare the CO his career.

The submarine Newport News was submerged and leaving the Persian Gulf when a mammoth Japanese oil tanker passed overhead at a high speed, creating a sucking effect that made the sub rise and hit the ship, the Navy said Tuesday.

As they say on the Firefly: Serenity da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze or hanyupinyin: da xiang bao za shi de la du zi

And now we have a Soviet nuclear powered sub, the Yekaterinburg, burning up in the shipyard. They assure us there's no radiation leaks...

Given that a large percentage of the flammables aboard should be well separated from the reactor compartment by very heavy-duty bulkheads and substantial environmental isolation as well, there is a better than 50% chance that they are telling the truth on that one.

It's a battery fire, I suspect, as most flammables (diesel fuel, etc.) would have been offloaded in the shipyard....or hydraulics perhaps.

Calling it a welding mishap that caught wooden scaffolding. Contained much of the fire by partial submersion of the sub.

It was described as being on the outside and the hatches were sealed. Sounds more like the acoustic absorbing layer caught fire.


Apparently verified by later news reports that the outer rubber covering was the fuel for the fire.

It seems pretty obvious that any internal fire could have been put out easily enough by simply flooding the sub through whatever hatches might have been open allowing the flames to escape.

Of course I realize it is possible to have had an internal a fire without ambient atmospheric oxygen, depending on what might have been aboard the sub in terms of exotic chemicals such as might be used in batteries or maintenance work.

It is a sad reflection on the state of the Russian economy and the management of their military that they would not have maintained an adequate fire watch.

"The Hartford returned home to Submarine Base New London after a month-long surface transit from Bahrain"

Ouch. Or more accurately, barf.

Those round hulls really rock on the surface, and if the waves are abeam (crosswise) they slap on the sail and knock you over just a little further at erratic intervals, just to make sure there is no rhythm you could actually get used to.

(I was on a Sturgeon class, back in bad old days of the cold war.)

I agree modern missiles make the issue very different and more dangerous. That is why I am exploring the issues.

This is a game changer.

David, here are some things you might want to know about missiles:
1. Generally speaking, the stealthy missiles are physically larger and slower, however have a smaller radar cross section (RCS).
2. The SCUD missiles used by Iraq 20 years ago were very large, slow and not very manueverable.
3. Exocet missiles, such as the one that struck the USS Stark in 1987 have been upgraded to be more manueverable and faster.
4. All US and most NATO warships are outfitted with the Phalanx Close-In-Weapon-System (CIWS), which will intercept an incoming missile with either 20mm gunfire or Rolling Airframe Missiles.
5. Our ships are generally safe from incoming missiles, excepting of course for the scenario of a mass raid being launched simultaneously from multiple launching platforms.

The CIWS will rapidly exhaust its ammo supply leaving the ship defenseless. Opps!

4. All US and most NATO warships are outfitted with the Phalanx Close-In-Weapon-System (CIWS), which will intercept an incoming missile with either 20mm gunfire or Rolling Airframe Missiles.
5. Our ships are generally safe from incoming missiles, excepting of course for the scenario of a mass raid being launched simultaneously from multiple launching platforms.

Can I just point out that neither of the systems you mention really do much against the low observable sea skimming threat, not if you've enough of them (you fire more than one or two at a time). That's before you talk about the ballistic threat.

In any engagement in the gulf, the US must expect its ship losses to be in double figures.

Er... Start here:

In the Falklands, it was found to work much better when turned on.

Err, I know what it is and what it is capable of.

IIRC there was no such system fielded in the Falklands, and last I heard it's not really ever been shown to work in such an anti sea-skimming role. Indeed, in the above engagement, the Phalanx system ended up firing on chaff and hitting the USS Missouri itself ....

Yes, my mistake.
It was during 1987:

"Phalanx in Combat
On 17 March 1987, Iraqi F1 fighter-bombers armed with French-built AM39 “Exocet” missiles attacked USS STARK.
Phalanx failed because it was not turned ON."

As to multiples and skimmers, there are some words that are published:

"The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) was developed as the last line of automated weapons defense (terminal defense or point defense) against anti-ship missiles (AShMs), including high-g and maneuvering sea-skimmers."

Hey hey Rockman,

I think that the danger from cruise missiles is not being taken seriously enough. The French Exocet has been proven in the Falkland Island war against the British and in the Gulf against the US. I don't think the Chinese Silkworm missile has seen any use against western targets so it is unknown if the US navy can defend against it.

Furthermore, there is a possibility that Iran has Russian Sunburn Missiles. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. If they do have them in adequate numbers then they can likely sink US naval vessels, especially in the close ranges that the straights afford.

I don't know what will happen if this game of brinksmanship boils over but I am certain that it will be messy.

The USN does not go head to head with ship killing missiles in play. There would be an aggressor incident from Iran first then a US/NATO/Israel Air Campaign would follow. Ships would be well out of range.

War in a major strait, with oil tankers in play? Sounds like the set-up for yet another blitheringly stupid eco-vandalism episode to me. Quarrelsome, greedy little boys struggling for control of the box of matches, while setting fire to the living room...

Or if they bought a swedish mini-sub on the black market. Then, US navy is toasted. And everyone else.

16 Ghadir class subs.



Plus sixty C-802 Chinese anti-shipping missiles plus and unknown number of Iranian reverse engineered versions (Noor).



A SeaDart from HMS Gloucester took out a Silkworm missile in the gulf in 1991 - saving the USS Missouri.


Oh, and the SSN-22 is a bit old now, though still a capable, and large, fast lump.

Hey hey garyp,

Thanks, I didn't know that a Silkworm had ever been deployed against western forces, much less successfully repelled.

I'm still worries about the SS-N-22 though, it's short range, but supersonic and thus gives very little response time to line up defenses.

Take this with a grain of salt, because I am no authority on the matter, but I feel that if Iran has a decent number of these bad boys it can close the gulf until it runs out of missiles. And while these missiles are expensive, they are much cheaper than ships. Also, the rock cost on the Iran side is a good location to hide them, but Iran definitely won't be able to withstand US air power.

Where exactly that leaves us is uncertain, but I think the role of anti ship missiles is being neglected.


See also Chinese C-802 and Iranian copy Noor.


Subsonic, but still a threat.

Build 20 caves/bases for each missile, shuttle dummy missiles around like 3 card Monty, and the US can expend it's entire arsenal of precision munitions taking out each potential base.


Something I heard, some time ago, was that the problem with the Exocets was not that they were good at their job. The problem was that they were a French missile used by friendly forces so the radars treated them as our own. Most of the damage they did was early on until the radars had the true situation explained to them.


The Sheffield fire revealed the little-known fact that aluminum is fiercely flammable, in the right conditions. NOT a good choice for armor.

The silkworms put in a poor showing during the tanker war. There should have been plenty of time to tinker with the guidance systems, but we don't know if they are big but dumb, or big and well guided.

Pentagon: Iranian Disruption of Oil Route 'Will Not Be Tolerated'

U.S. military officials warned Wednesday that any attempt by Iran to disrupt oil shipments at the mouth of the Persian Gulf "will not be tolerated," as Iran threatened for the second day in a row to interfere with the critical passageway.

Well, I am not in favor of starting any conflict but I must say I agree with the Pentagon here. Of course the President will have the final say-so on what really happens. But I have no doubt that he would agree with the Military brass here. The Republicans have accused him of not being "assertive" and also of "appeasement". Not so of course and it will definitely not be so in this case.

I think almost the entire world would agree that keeping the straights open is in the best interest of the world economy and hardly anyone would object to doing exactly that.

Ron P.

It's so easy to get pulled into the narrative that was built for us. "Not in favor of starting any conflict" and agreeing that any attempt by Iran to disrupt oil shipments at the mouth of the Persian Gulf "will not be tolerated".

Just take an ongoing, complex situation and chop it off at an arbitrary beginning and ending of your own choosing, and suddenly it looks like those nasty people are threatening us with closing off our oil. Why, how dare they?! We must get behind the military and stop them! 'Cause, umm, leaving them the hell alone is unthinkable.

... the narrative that was built for us.

Dead on.

Consider: The US has pulled out of Iraq. How are all those military contractors going to prop up their quarterly earnings?

If Iran blocks the SOH then we must attack...,

I just think it would be best for us not to provoke them over an overblown threat.....

Honest question here:
Why can't we negotiate? It seems that if Iran blocks the strait they would try to prevent any power from unblocking the strait. If we withdraw and negotiate they could unblock the strait and some business could continue. Why are we so gung ho that this MUST lead to war?

Brizzadizza, we tried negotiating. We tried negotiating with Iran about their nuclear program. Those negotiations have gotten nowhere because Iran refuses to budge. They want the bomb. So we threaten with sanctions. They counter by threatening to close the straights.

Now that you are caught up on the situation, what do you suggest?

Ron P.

Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa in 2005 against the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons.

They may want nuclear tech for what ever reason..., maybe energy production..., but that does not necessarily mean they intend to build a bomb....

and even if they did..., so what.....

They would never use it unless they are suicidal

Negotiations with Iran regarding their nuclear program have been largely successful. They've shifted to technologies that aren't prone to proliferation. They've volunteered to let third parties monitor sensitive fuel chain operations and have agreed to transparency with the IAEA. You're ignoring a lot of the positive strides made through diplomatic channels if you are making the statement that negotiations have gotten no where. What's more, economic sanctions are acts of aggression (and seemingly not very effective with regard to Iranian nuclear policy), not acts of negotiation. A negotiation would seek to serve all interested parties, not the unilateral demands of the US. The sabre rattling we're hearing right now in the States is the same sabre rattling we heard prior to invading Iraq. The US demands greater and greater compliance with more and more arbitrary demands until its "negotiating" partner can't or won't meet those demands and is then invaded.

Now that you better understand that negotiations have not failed I suggest we consider what actions the USA can take to ease tensions in the area. If those actions include condemning the current administration in Israel for human rights violations, well so much the better; it'll be a strange change to be on the same side as the World Court but we'll manage. If those actions include respecting the sovereignty of Middle Eastern nations, okie dokie that also sounds good. And if those demands request that we honor our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty we signed that obligated us to convene a world panel to discuss nuclear disarmament before US demands for non-proliferation in Iran are considered, once again that's just telling us to not discuss the mote in our brothers eye whilst we got a log sticking out of our own. A little international good will can go a long way to prevent WWIII, that's all I'm saying. I'd like to say I live in a nation that can recognize that. I'd further like to say that I engage in discussion with people that aren't completely bamboozled by the martial rhythm of the war hawks in congress and can consider, at least the possibility, that the demands the international Muslim community are offering the USA are more rational than "Lalililili Die for Allah, death to Israel, give us up the bombs!!!" It seems, however, that Goerring's observation

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

is still holding strong days away from 2012.

Because of the testosterone factor in politics. Any leader who is seen compromising, his career, and by extension his parties future is toast.

The Iranians, want a nuclear program, which is not necessarily the same as a bomb program. They want control over a civilian program, i.e. secure sources of material, but we block even medical isotopes. They've concluded that it is impossible to assure us they don't want a bomb. We've given them no route to compromise, which isn't abject humilitaing submission. And that leaves them with choosing political suicide if they agree to go along. It is we, with the totally uncompromising attitude.

Guitars instead of missiles? Entertaining cross culture performance/Iran Culture Exchange with the West..

"The first event of its type since the 1979 Islamic revolution of Iran and that was why it made front-page headlines in Western newspapers and TV channels in less than an hour of the announcement. The Iranian Ministry of Culture confirmed that a performing license has been issued for Chris de Burgh to perform a joint concert with Arian." ENJOY


Where's the white stuff? Why northern tier of US is mostly snowless

Initial forecasts called for a doozy of a winter, with lots of snow. But that has not materialized up north. If New York City doesn't see snow by Saturday, it will have only its third snowless December in 140 years.

In cities that were digging out of storms at this time last year, temperatures have been almost double the average.

Examples on Monday: It was 52 degrees F. in Minnesota's Twin Cities, 27 degrees above average. In Chicago, temperatures reached 45 degrees, making it the 16th day this month that temperatures exceeded 40 degrees.

The trees in my town in Mass will be decimated if we don't get a good bug killing frost.

My back is loving it - no snow shoveling this year so far.

My new snowblower is "working" perfectly, in the sense that I havn't had to use it yet!

I do not think there was more than a little roof frost now and then this winter in San Gabriel.

Oh, and it is 74+F today, too.

Clearing one's walks and driveway using the "Armstrong Method" is good for you. On days when I shovel, I have no need to visit the gym to maintain my upperbody strength.


Things are a little dry in the northern Rockies, but the southern Rockies have a normal snowpack. Along the Front Range near Denver the foothills are above average for snow.

Still lots of winter ahead to make up the deficit. The biggest issue in the west is the filling of reservoirs. Last year was a good water year, so even if the snowpack comes in at 60-70% there should be no major impacts. Two years in a row would be a big problem though.

Two different North America snow cover plots, Dec 22, 2010 vs 2011. Positive vs negative Arctic Oscillation. Eye-catching to say the least.


Also different AO temp plots.

If New York City doesn't see snow by Saturday, it will have only its third snowless December in 140 years.

In fact, I was really surprised to see Fox News suggesting there may be a connection between this warmer winter and global warming. (snark!)

Sweden had its first entirely snow-free november in official records this year. There are snow now in the arctic mountain ranges and a bit down, have not checked out how far. I guess I will be freezing my butt off in february. As usual.

PBS did make an attempt at a discussion, last night.

"From snowstorms to floods and tornadoes, severe weather wreaked havoc across the United States this year, with 2011 marking far more extreme weather events than a typical year. Hari Sreenivasan discusses the science behind this year of extreme weather with NOAA's Kathryn Sullivan and Weather Underground's Jeff Masters."


Followed immediately after by a discussion of the impacts of the wheat disease UG99 in Kenya :-


Thanks for the UG99 link, ST

An "Under-Told Story" of the highest order....

Arctic airbase expansion considered, documents say

The Royal Canadian Air Force has looked at a major expansion at Resolute Bay, Nunavut, as it considers transforming it into a key base for Arctic operations, according to documents obtained by Postmedia.

Resolute Bay should be considered for expansion to become a main operating base because it is "the geostrategic centre to the Arctic and (Northwest) Passage" and is an "existing regional supply hub with a permanent population/sea access," according to the briefing. It would be seen as a "key Arctic regional development and sovereignty centrepiece."

The long paved runway would allow fighter aircraft to operate from the site, with the suggestion in the presentation that could include Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command) jets.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has emphasized that Canada will increase its military presence in the region, ...

also Royal Canadian Air Force mulling major Nunavut base expansion, documents show

Canadian Forces may need U.S. help supplying Arctic
"We are challenged more by operating in our own domain than in operating around the world," the country's top military commander, Gen. Walt Natynczyk said on Nov. 3. "It is harder to sustain operations in our High Arctic than it is to sustain operations in Kandahar or Kabul because in the Arctic, it's what you bring."

Payden & Rygel is running ads on CNBC, basically discussing the bullish outlook for the global economy. They note that about 25% of the total output of goods & services ever created was created in the past 10 years (presumably through the end of 2011), which led me to wonder what percentage of total cumulative global crude oil production (crude + condensate) was consumed in the past 10 years.

I believe that cumulative global production through 2005 was about 1,000 Gb (billion barrels), and the EIA shows cumulative crude oil production for 2006 to 2011 inclusive at about 161 Gb, and cumulative crude oil production for 2002 to 2011 inclusive at 264 Gb, so (264/1161) X 100 = 23%.

So, the production, in the past 10 years, of 25% of all goods and services ever produced, corresponded to about 23% of all crude oil ever consumed. I wonder what happens to the global production of goods and services if, as I suspect, the supply of global net oil exports* available to importers other than China & India (ANE) declines at 5%/year to 8%/year from 2010 to 2020 (versus a 2.8%/year decline rate from 2005 to 2010)?

Incidentally, the flip side of the observed 2.8%/year decline in ANE from 2005 to 2010 is that Chindia's combined net oil imports increased at 7.5%/year from 2005 to 2010.

*Calculated in terms of total petroleum liquids

"I wonder what happens to the global production of goods and services if, as I suspect, the supply of global net oil exports* available to importers other than China & India (ANE) declines at 5%/year to 8%/year from 2010 to 2020 (versus a 2.8%/year decline rate from 2005 to 2010)?"

Won't that depend on what fraction of the production of all goods and services take place in Chindia?

wt - So according to P&R "They note that about 25% of the total output of goods & services ever created was created in the past 10 years (presumably through the end of 2011". So they claim that in inflation adjusted $'s the last 10 years output 1/4 of the value of products/services created during two world wars (including all the reconstruction efforts afterwards), the first 100 years of the industrial revolution and the post WWII boom. And of course all the other "little" pieces of the economy during that time frame.

Man oh man...am I ready to see their facts backing that claim up.

It's that thing called "exponential growth". Assuming a constant growth rate, each doubling equals all the previous history combined. In 10 years there was less than a doubling, but significant "growth". Of course it all depends on what counts as "goods and services". The official numbers includes things such as "credit default swaps", not sure if that's "bads" or "dis-services".

To our Western minds it's hard to fathom how large the globalized economy has become, relative to, e.g., the Europe that was reconstructed in the 1950's. As countries that we never think much of, but with now huge populations, have gotten significantly wealthier, the picture is so different now. Multiple countries with more than 100 million people each: Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico, Indonesia, etc etc. Not to mention China and India.

Yeah, what vtpeaknik said... And you might want to watch this, posted here from time to time:
Albert Bartlett on Arithmetic, Population & Energy

Re: Hopping mad: Uganda power cuts hit grasshopper harvest, up top:

Taste review is about half way through video:


But some are not impressed:


Grasshopper Recipes with Real Insects

Dry Roasted Grasshoppers, Garlic Butter Fried Grasshoppers, Oaxaca Enchiladas, Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers

This is my favorite:

Grasshopper Goulash

2 handfuls of moss
6 owlets eyes
3 cups of chicken blood
2 grass snakes innards
3 cups of maggots

Fry the chopped grasshoppers with the owlets eyes and innards from the snakes. Once well cooked add the chicken blood.

Simmer for 15 mins. Serve on a bed of pan fried maggots and garnish with the finely chopped moss.

A large cup of Witches Tea goes well with this. Simply soak some elephants toe nails in the blood of 3 frogs for 3 weeks then strain and bottle!!


from The Young Writer's Club--The Witch's Cookbook

For more recipes get Kate West's "The Real Witches' Kitchen!":


Not for novice witches.

No use here, the fur heads get them first.


Fuel woes hit power sector

Deepening fuel crisis, on account of uncertainty in the availability of domestic coal, imported coal and natural gas, coupled with escalating prices, is currently the major hurdle in capacity addition in the power sector. If it is not appropriately remedied without further loss of time, the country's economic growth will be put in jeopardy and the Government vision of “Power For All by 2012” will remain a distant dream, even by the end of the 12th Plan (2012-2017).

... The fuel factors have affected more than 40,000 MW operating and upcoming capacity. Under these circumstances, the possibility of achieving the 12th Plan target of 100,000 MW appears bleak. The Ministry of Power is understood to have already revised the target to 75,538 MW.

Coal will continue to be the dominant fuel for the power sector. Natural gas has only supported about 18,000 MW of power generation. Drop in gas availability in the KG D-6 block from 60 MMSCMD to 45 MMSCMD has created a crisis for operating the existing gas-based power stations and those under construction.

Diversion of gas supply from non-core sectors to the priority sectors of fertilisers and power will only help gas-based power plants to operate at around 50-60 per cent PLF.

Would have been convenient if you had noted that this is about generation in India.


The power situation in India is worsening. I learned from a relative that in Guntur, a large town in Andhra Pradesh, six hour daily power outages have become the norm. These relatives are wealthy (doctors) and can afford to keep a diesel generator running but even thats getting to be very expensive.

Fuel shortage deepens

KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Shortage of petroleum products deepened in the market on Wednesday after Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), citing fund crisis and low import, distributed fuel to the petrol pumps operated by the army, police, armed police force and Sajha cooperatives only.

NOC distributed only 152 KL of diesel and 80 KL of petrol in the Kathmandu valley. The volume supplied was far less than the normal daily demand for both products. According to NOC, normal daily demand of diesel is around 450 KL and of petrol 400 KL.

Price controls cause shortages. What a surprise.

Funny unit, KiloLiter. Also known as a cubic meter, or about 6 "barrels".

Yair...in what way funny mate? Realy simple. A cube one hundred mm by one hundred mm has a volume of one litre. Life becomes much simpler with metrics...even for a thick old bloke like me.


No one loves the metric system more than I do. But "KiloLitre" is still a bit of an odd device to me. We have, as stated above, the Cubic Meter for that purpose.

But then again, you do hear about HektoLiters sometimes. But KL was the first time for me.

Well, the kilolitre makes about as much sense as the litre does to begin with. After all, a litre is just a cubic decimeter.

And why does Firefox insist that "litre" is the correct spelling for US English when it's consistently spelled "liter" over here?

Well I use Firefox in the US and it flags litre as the bad word but says liter is the correct. I expect Firefox knows you are in the UK, and loads the British version of Firefox. And in that case Firefox incorrectly thinks it is spelled litre in the UK.

Ron P.

IIRC, when one loads Firefox (or linux) you are asked if you want US english or UK english. Windows asks for your time zone and assumes the rest.

Well now I am confused. Wikipedia says it is Litre

The litre (or liter — see spelling differences) is a metric system unit of volume equal to 1 cubic decimetre (dm3), to 1,000 cubic centimetres (cm3), and to 1/1,000 cubic metre. The unit has two SI unit symbols: the Latin letter L in lower and upper case (l and L). If the lower case L is used, it is sometimes rendered as a cursive ℓ to help distinguish it from the capital "I", although this usage has no official approval by any international bureau.

Ron P.

The spelling in International English is "litre", whereas the spelling in American English is "liter". The US insists on having a different spelling of metric units than the rest of the English-speaking world.

This derives from the spelling of "metre" versus "meter". The rest of the English-speaking world decided to make a distinction between "metre" the metric unit, and "meter" the measurement device. In the US, the spelling is the same, because Samuel Webster didn't like the "re" endings that were common in words borrowed from French. Thus in the UK, Canada and Australia people go to the theatre, and in the US they go to the theater.

The same thing applies to the metric ton, which is spelled "tonne" in the UK, Canada, and Australia. This is to distinguish it from the long ton and the short ton. The US tends to use the short ton (but not consistently) while the UK, Australia and Canada used the long ton (but not consistently). When all the other countries converted to metric, they decided to use the spelling "tonne" because then there was no doubt about what unit they were using. The US still hasn't converted to metric so Americans use "metric ton" because then they know they don't know what size it is.

The benefit for Canada of metric conversion was that Canada was on the British Imperial system, while the US was on the American Imperial system, and NONE of the liquid units of measure were the same in the two systems. Americans were blissfully unaware of the differences, but it was a screaming nightmare for Canadian oil companies.

I know whereof I speak because I was a senior systems analyst on the metric conversion project for a major American oil company many years ago when Canada converted to metric. Unbeknownst to most people, Canada now measures oil in cubic metres [sic], and automatic custody transfer meters [sic] on the border convert it to barrels for the benefit of American buyers.

The US, as in many areas, insists on having different standards from the rest of the world, which are different from every other country's standards. The Greeks had a word for this.


Hubris ( /ˈhjuːbrɪs/), also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

Just one of many lessons we learned from the French and English :)

A tangentially related story:

Back in the mid to late '90s one of the premier roller-coaster outfits on the West Coast (Magic Mountain) built a ride they called "Superman." The ride used a linear induction motor to create extreme acceleration of a carload of riders for a few seconds, then the track curved upward so that the ride was basically straight up, until gravity slowed the car to a halt in (what felt like) mid-air, then the car returned in (almost) freefall, back down the track until braking cut in.

When they first started testing the fully constructed ride the LIM wasn't working right, and so they weren't getting the acceleration they needed, and so the ride wasn't going to the top. Very bad. They did some studying and realized that this must be because my company was giving them "bad power." (This is a very common refrain for process customers.)

Anyway, the utility engineer happened to be a pretty sharp cookie, and went thru the code on the drive control for the LIM. Turns out there was a metric to standard distance conversion for the pole spacing on the motor that had been forgotten or done incorrectly and so the timing of the power pulses was off.

Weeks worth of trouble on a multi-million dollar project, because the length of one guys arm is different than the next.

Why is it a "funny unit"? It's a rational and logical measurement in the metric system, and normal for those of us who benefit from using it - and rather less funny than acre-feet, bushels, or square chains - or indeed "barrels".

A kilolitre is a measure of liquid capacity, while a cubic metre is a unit of volume, so while they might occupy the same space, they are not really equivalents.

A "kilolitre" is a funny metric unit because it is defined as 1000 litres, and a "litre" is defined as a secondary metric unit equal to a cubic decimetre. A kilolitre is thus a kilo-cubic decimetre, or to simplify it, a cubic metre.

The SI authorities recommend that people avoid the use of multiples of secondary units like the litre, and use the primary units instead. The primary unit is the cubic metre.

The litre is a secondary unit which used because it is a convenient size (intermediate between the British Imperial and American quarts, although most Americans don't know there is another different-size quart from theirs).

A "kilolitre" is not a terribly convenient unit to use because a kilolitre of water weighs a tonne, more or less exactly, and is hard to carry around.

Yair...It's interesting how systems evolve.

For instance here in Australia domestic water usage is in kilolitres...(the decimeter is not in general use) and all other fluids such as fuel, milk, orange juice and so on are sold by the litre...smaller quantities by the mil. That is to say 500 mil= half a litre.

For all practical purposes a one hundred millimeter cube has a volume of one litre which if filled with water weighs one kilogram...or 2.2 pounds...what could be simpler?

When it comes to length measurements we have a redundant unit called the "centimeter" which is used by the media and dressmakers...all the trades use the millimeter and meter only...that is to say an 8x4 sheet of ply becomes twenty four hundred by twelve hundred...a piece of 4x2(100x50)wil be said to be (say) five thousand seven hundred and fifty long, less commonly "five point seven five".


I'm not sure about those conversions, maybe Oz does resize but we get the, cough, metric sizes but they are actually in feet. I got caught by a 6m length being 20 feet which is closer to 6.1m, couldn't work out why my measurements were off. Also a sheet of ply is 8x4 which is 2.438x1.219, mind you, allows for kerf when using the metric size ;)


Well, in Canada, the standard 8-foot 2x4 stud is actually 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches by 92 5/8 inches long. That's 39 mm x 89 mm x 2353 mm in metric.

You could call it a 39x89, but most people call it a 2x4 because that seems inaccurate enough.

It pays to measure what you've got to be sure, though. In old houses they used to use 2x4's that were actually 2x4, and the new ones won't match them.

And you save all this ridiculous imperial contortion by simply calling it as it is - 50mm x 100mm by 2400mm - which is the building industry standard, world-wide (including in Canada). Why do all you North Americans cling so desperately to the old ways ... what is the point of it all?

if you are smart enough-educated enough-to be proficient in basic fractions, it is actually far far easier to ACTUALLY USE rules and tapes marked in inches rather than meters and millimeters.

Speaking both as a practicing tradesman and a former teacher, I can assure the audience that anybody incapable of easily mastering fractions lacks the intellectual capacity to become a skilled worker in any case, and should consider becoming a janitor or bureaucrat.

A millimeter is to too big a measure for close eyeball work, and a tenth is too small-you can't see it without a magnifying glass.A half a millimeter puts you right back to using fractions.

A sixteenth of an inch is just about perfect as a basic small unit-you cam easily see it, and if you are moderately skillful, you can "work to it" with hand tools.

Note that the next division smaller is a thirty second-still within eyeball range in good light with good eyes.

Halves and quarters and eighths on the rule are MUCH EASIER seen that centimeter marks which are less easily separated visually, all but the half centimeter being the same length..

I am proficient in both, but find the old system far more practical in actually WORKING with the tool in hand.

The decimal inch was and is a perfectly satisfactory standard for engineering and machine shop work.

The metric system is far superior in terms of being able to make faster calculations of course, with fewer errors.

But the real reason we cling to the old is that we are used to it, and nearly all our built infrastructure was built using it.

Using metric measures to repair and refurbish old stuff is a 24 carat pain in the butt-you invariably need to compute to a tenth of a millimeter to get a good fit for instance in hanging a door in an old house.The computation is easy but the actual measure is impossible with a tape.The old style tape with sixteenths and thirty seconds works far better.

Everybody who does plumbing, etc, knows what the conventions are; but if a plumber has to fit a metric pipe to a standard pipe, nothing works out in even measure.Special adapters are needed, and the metric measurements do not fall on whole units.

But we should go ahead and bite the bullet and go metric anyway, since we are the odd man out , so as to improve our business prospects over the long run.It's better to get the inevitable over with.

I tend to use both depending on which suits the job in had better. I was making a test funnel reflector and inches was a better fit to the size of cardboard I had available and easier to multiply/divide, my CooKit was measured in inches for the same reason. My other reflect was done in centimetres, again, that was a better fit to the job. The measurement I use generally is metric though I have to use imperial when dealing with standard building materials. I guess a general rule of thumb may be that if you deal with 1/2s 1/4s 2x 4x them imperial is good but if you deal with 1/5ths 1/10ths or x5 x10 them metric has an advantage.


Yeah? You should try designing a computer program to accept input in feet, inches, and halves, quarters, and eighths of an inch. I had to do that to allow American oil field operators to enter tank gauges in feet, inches, and fractions. It was a lot harder to program than you might think. Computers don't handle fractions well. When was the last time you saw a computer input screen that accepted fractions?

I suggested that they make them enter tank gauges in inches to one decimal place just to keep things simple for the input routine. They said, "Oh no, we can't do that! It would be too difficult to retrain the operators." I suggested they hire smarter operators, but that went over badly.

In Canada, when we converted to metric, we just had them enter tank gauges in centimetres to one decimal place. If they couldn't cope, we just hired smarter operators. Really, if they can't read a centimetre gauge tape to the nearest millimetre, they shouldn't be working for an oil company.

I think that computers were the real reason behind the UK switching from pounds shillings and pence to the new decimal coinage.


A millimeter is to too big a measure for close eyeball work, and a tenth is too small

When I survey with a rod and level, I like to use a rod marked in hundreds of a foot. A millimeter is too small and a centimeter is too big. I usually convert everything to metric in the end, but I let the spreadsheet do all the heavy lifting.

We still use inches forpipeing in Sweden. It is the one system where it still survives. That, and screen sizes. We simply have to much pipe in inches in this country. New houses are often builtin metric, but when you work with old houses, you stick to what they used. Most cases,it is inches.

A custumer came in and bought a length of stainless pipe. I eyed it to be 2050 mm, and it was 2030. But when another custumer wanted a 2 inch pipe I went blank. I had to go to another guy for some help with figuring out what it was in milimeters.

I am sure you're an excellent carpenter ofm - and much else besides - but I have to disagree about the workability of the metric system. I am a designer and printer - small-scale stuff, such as wine labels. Working in mm is perfect for that industry - and I suggest it is not that different to many other pursuits. A mm is about a 25th of an inch - a really good fine size - better than 16th of an inch, and not as eye-straining as a 32nd. And I have a ruler where the mm marks scale up from 1 to 5, then down again to 9 - works well.

And while you have no doubt built and renovated many more houses and other buildings than I have, I don't believe there is any measurement in a house that demands or warrants an accuracy down to a tenth of a mm. I understand people used to the old imperial system are comfortable with it - how could it be otherwise - but those of us now immersed in the metric system, and having been brought up on imperial, can only be evangelical about metric's superiority, in just about every way.

What metric lacks (in my opinion) are words - we need shorthand terms for small distances (ie, less than one metre), that serve the same purpose as "inch" and "foot". Using the numeric terms often connotes an accuracy that is is not implied or warranted: "He missed the putt by 15cm." is a little over-tidy. But lack of terms is not a killer.

It's not a 50mm x 100mm by 2400mm, it's a 39mm x 89mm x 2353mm. The difference is important if you are working on a house. If you asked for a hundred 50mm x 100mm by 2400mm's, the lumber mill might mill them for you, and then you would have a compatibility problem. (One of my sisters did that one time, not being aware of the consequences, and it was a problem when we had to fit them into the house.)

The reason Canada continues to use Imperial terms is that it is selling large amounts of lumber to the US. American lumber producers think Canadian lumber mills are unfairly subsidized, but in fact Canada just has a lot more trees and a lot fewer people than the US, so the supply/demand economics are different.

The Canadian oil industry uses metric units almost exclusively, but then automatically converts everything to US units for the benefit of American buyers and investors. Computers are wonderful for that. Again, Canada has a lot more oil and a lot fewer consumers than the US.

The rule is that "The customer is always right". If US customers want to buy lumber by the inch and foot, then Canadian lumber companies will sell them lumber by the inch and foot. Canadian customers are fewer so they get the same lumber.

If Canada was further from the US, as Australia is, then it might be different.

The only problem I have had with conversions has been in international travelling, when the Americans keep asking, "How high is that in feet?" when the guide tells them how high a mountain is in metres. The guide, of course, has no idea because he has never used feet. The Canadians, Australians, and Brits on the tour could tell them, but frankly, it's too tough to do the conversion in your head all the time, so we politely say we don't know.

I often find DIY instructions on the internet. And very often, they are made by a US person. The instruction "Use a 36 square feet nylon sheet" is just marginally easier than "mubble your froowlongs with borgorgurgs" to cope with.

I know how much ONE fot, ONE mile and ONE pound is. But when you begin to multiply them with complicated numbers such as 3 I lose it.

Well, if I put up my ceiling metalwork for a plasterboard ceiling to the metric system, as you describe, I will be in deep do-do when I come to fix the panels which will be imperial sized. While I do like and use the metric system, one has to allow for things like that or you can come a cropper. That was the point of my note and emphasised by RMG below.


Hey RMG and others,

In Canada....

The stud you referenced is called a pre-cut and designed for plates nailed on to accomodate 4X8 drywall. An '8 footer 2X4 is not a stud, but an 8 foot 2X4. The 1 5/8" X 3 5/8" is its' actual size after being planned down from 'full size' (2X4 rough cut). It is referred to as dimension lumber. It is still 8 feet long, usually 8' 1/4".

Carpenters in Canada work in both imperial and metric, although older guys like myself usually avoid metric. It is common practice to still provide all materials in standard, with metric equiv. to satisfy the metric police. If you go to a yard and ask for materials in metric sizes, you would be looked at as retarded and the yard might not even know what you are talking about. One function of the carpenter is to translate office dweller blueprints into reality, order thr right sized materials, get things built, babysit the inspectors and engineers through the inspections, and get it all signed off for the customer.

Large projects are usually metric, residential are imperial.

Clear as mud? At least we buy nails in actual sizes and not 'penny' sizes like our southern friends.


A "kilolitre" is a funny metric unit because it is defined as 1000 litres, and a "litre" is defined as a secondary metric unit equal to a cubic decimetre. A kilolitre is thus a kilo-cubic decimetre, or to simplify it, a cubic metre.

The SI authorities recommend that people avoid the use of multiples of secondary units like the litre, and use the primary units instead. The primary unit is the cubic metre.

I'm sorry - but all of this is just horseradish, at best.

There is absolutely no way that those of us who use the metric system consider some measures "primary" and others "secondary" - the litre is a nice unit, and the kilolitre is a nice unit also, when you're talking about bigger amounts. Also you are still making the same error of confusing (or conflating) volumetric units - cubic metres etc (volume) - with liquid measure (capacity).

We are all very happy with litres, kilolitres, megalitres, and gigalitres, to measure large water (or other liquid) quantities - thanks all the same. There is nothing in the imperial system that comes close to being as useful. Let's all go for barrels and acre-feet, shall we? Meh.

And BTW, in Australia (as elsewhere in the metric world I expect), there is no such thing as the "SI authorities" - usage of any system depends on ... usage, not authority from above. The English language is a prime example of that - there is absolutely no arbiter of correctness other than usage (thank goodness).

Metrication in Australia from Wikipedia.

Between 1970 and 1988, imperial units were withdrawn from general legal use and replaced with SI metric units, facilitated through legislation and government agencies. SI units are now the sole legal units of measurement in Australia. Australia's largely successful transition to the metric system contrasts with the ongoing opposition to metrication in the United States, the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent Canada.

Non-SI units mentioned in the SI from Wikipedia.

This is a list of units that are not defined as part of the International System of Units (SI), but are otherwise mentioned in the SI, because either the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) accepts their use as being multiples or submultiples of SI-units, they have important contemporary application worldwide, or are otherwise commonly encountered worldwide.

  • minute
  • hour
  • day
  • degree
  • hectare
  • litre
  • tonne ... etc.

Litre from Wikipedia.

The word litre is derived from an older French unit, the litron, whose name came from Greek via Latin. The original French metric system used the litre as a base unit, and it has been used in several subsequent versions of the metric system and is accepted for use with the SI, although not an official SI unit — the SI unit of volume is the cubic metre (m3).

So, what some Australians are doing is doing is taking an old French metric unit, no longer considered part of the international standard, and using it for purposes for which it was not intended. This is a little bit flaky under Australian law, and Australian engineers should tighten up their usage in future.

By the way, there is no difference between liquid and other volume measurements in SI. This is one of its advantages.

So, what some Australians are doing is doing is taking an old French metric unit, no longer considered part of the international standard, and using it for purposes for which it was not intended. This is a little bit flaky under Australian law, and Australian engineers should tighten up their usage in future.

By the way, there is no difference between liquid and other volume measurements in SI. This is one of its advantages.

This all looks pretty-much like someone who can research Wikipedia articles, but has not lived immersed in the metric system real world.

As I said up-thread: (1) the use of the metric system in the real world (including rocket science, I expect) is not governed by the formal dry definitions of bureaucrats, so terms like litre (and all its multiples), hectare to replace the absurd acre, and tonne as a useful measure of large weight, are given full value and validity, and (2) in the real world there are practical and common-sense distinctions made between liquid capacity and volume, primarily in terms of how things are measured and described - with only a few grey areas - such as for semi-liquid foodstuffs like relish or thick sauce, which might be legitimately labelled as 250ml, or 320g.

The Washington Post flagged an opinion piece I did for them on gas price myths as one of their most popular of the year:

The most-read opinions of 2011

So people definitely are interested in this aspect of energy, even if they do still believe it's all just oil companies pulling all the strings.



On the one hand it came in a No 10 BUT that puts it right at the top where it is seen first - FTW.


Nice OpEd, Robert, in quite an influential paper.

I think the PO message, at least the easy fruit part, is hitting home with most folks. They now think the oil companies have higher, cheaper ladders to pick the fruit than what they say...

MacKay River oilsands project approved

Clock starts on Petro-China’s right to buy out partner

Alberta Environment and Water has issued final regulatory approval for the MacKay River oilsands project, starting a 31-day clock on a potential deal by 60 per cent partner Petro-China to take full ownership.

In a news release, Sveinung Svarte, president and chief executive of Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Sands Corp., praised the regulatory process that resulted in approval of the 150,000-barrel-per-day thermal oilsands project.

“To obtain approval in just over 24 months is an achievement and Athabasca is very pleased with the regulatory process,” he said.

“The company filed the application on Dec. 10, 2009 and MacKay Opco received the final approval on Dec. 23, 2011. To achieve this major milestone, MacKay Opco’s regulatory and stakeholder affairs team effectively dealt with all stakeholders to resolve their concerns and get this commercial oilsands project endorsed by the regulators and the Alberta government.”

Athabasca Oil Sands is the operator of the project.

It sold a 60 per cent stake in its MacKay and Dover projects to Petro-China, the New York Stock Exchange-traded arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., for $1.9 billion in 2009.

Final regulatory approval on each project triggers a 31-day “put/call” option under which Athabasca can choose to sell or PetroChina can choose to buy the 40 per cent it doesn’t own.

If triggered, Petro-China would pay $680 million to take over the rest of MacKay and $1.32 billion to buy the rest of the 250,000-bpd Dover project, approval of which could come as soon as late 2012.

Bottom line: More and more oil sands plants are being approved in Canada, and the Chinese are buying a bigger and bigger stake in them.

Rocky - And to use your post to again explain why the resource plays (and those pubcos) are so hot: it's not the small profit margin from the production cash flow...it's the stock price run up. The Petrohawk shareholders walked away with $12 billion without having to spend a penny drilling another Eagle Ford Shale well. In the case of the oil sands the Chinese don't even have to worry about the profit margin of their acquisition. IMHO for the Chinese it's all about access first and then profit. Even when all costs are accounted for and they just break even, they can still control where the oil goes. And they don't even need to ship it from Canada to China to do so. They can just do a paper swap with another buyer (like the US) for some oil from another exporter. The basic golden rule: he that owns the (black) gold makes the rules. And if the Chinese ever get that pipeline to the west coast they'll have an even bigger stick to enforce that golden rule.

Federal judge lifts BP Exploration probation

US District Judge Ralph Beistline lifted BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.’s probation and dismissed federal prosecutors’ arguments that a 2009 oil spill by BP violated its probation following a conviction of negligent discharge of oil for a 200,000-gal spill on the Alaskan North Slope during 2006.

Ford has started making an electric Focus

Production of the all-new 2012 Ford Focus Electric hatchback has begun at the automaker’s Michigan Assembly Plant, and the first of the vehicles soon will be on their way to dealers in the initial launch areas of New York and California.

While New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco will get the cars first, the rest of the country will get them starting in 2013.

The other markets that will have the battery-operated vehicle next year are Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

Ford says the base price will be $39,995, which is the same as the entry price for the 2012 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car. But it’s about $5,000 more than the base price of the Nissan Leaf, which is the Focus Electric’s only direct competitor.

See: http://www.telegram.com/article/20111227/NEWS/112279868/1002/business

As a Chryco guy I'm not normally inclined to say nice things about Ford, but I hope this new vehicle is a great success.


Has anybody here any knowledge of anybody capable of doing it being seriously interested in building an electric "people's car"?

Build a small, inexpensive electric automobile to be mass produced. To what end? What problem does it solve? It would seem the goal would have to be to replace a significant percentage of the gasoline automobile fleet, or why bother? Can the indebted US "consumer" come up with the means to pay for enough of them? Can we afford to upgrade our power grid to provide energy for them? How much more would it cost to provide charging facilities for them so they can actually replace a lot of the ICE automobiles (because if they can't, then people will be even less able to justify paying for them)? Does it get us off the hook in any way concerning our crumbling road and highway system infrastructure that we cannot afford to maintain now?

It would be another "un-bankable project" to put it in Greer's terms. Or we could build local rail. Hey, I know - let's spend it on a war instead.


Zenn cost about $12,000, but they stopped production about a year ago.

From the article:

The Focus Electric’s appearance — inside and out — is almost identical to that of the gasoline-only versions of the redesigned 2012 Focus that went on sale earlier this year.

What's the point of buying an electric car if nobody knows you're driving an electric car? People want to be seen to be greener-than-thou. Marketing fail.

Well, no doubt a good number of folks consider this to be important but speaking only for myself I could care less. I can tell you that if Chrysler were to introduce an all-electric Town & Country or Dodge Caravan, e-badged or not, I'd trade in our HEMI-powered Magnum or 300 forthwith.


So the price of the Electric Focus will be roughly double the price of the gasoline powered version. Good luck with that! Up here in Maine we are already seeing a small decline in the total number of registered vehicles.

Hi Breadman,

I'm guessing that the amount shown does not reflect the various federal and state rebates/incentives and/or sales tax exemptions that would be applicable.

See: http://www.pluginamerica.org/incentives


Probably not. But even if the full $7000 benefit is still available, the cost to the buyer is still in the range of $33,000, which puts it at roughly 65% higher than the regular Focus. Still unlikely to be a big seller if median incomes continue shrinking.

True, it may not be a big seller but it could help pave the way for other electric vehicles to follow. Ford is undoubtedly investing a considerable amount of money to bring this vehicle to market and I hope it's a commercial and technical success. Time will tell.


Is there any way for the Iranians to quit the Non-pre and thus be allowed, as the US, Russia, China, France, GB, Israel, India, Pakistan, Pakistan!!, North Vietnam, are, to have a Nuke?
And any I may have missed

And any I may have missed

Japan? I'll stop guessing here...

PS I presume you meant North Korea not North Vietnam :-)

Hey hey Old Ari,

Yes, the non proliferation treaty does have an exit mechanism. The problem is that the treaty gives everyone the right to nuclear civilian technology. Experience with nuclear energy technology gives a country a path to nuclear weapon technology. The US and Israel are unwilling to let Iran have the potential to build a bomb regardless of what treaties are signed.

The thing is we don't trust Iran and therefore they can't be allowed to have the skills and materials required to build nuclear weapons. Of course, nations build nuclear weapons to protect themselves from powerful nations that they don't trust.

Israel, India, and Pakistan never signed the treaty and North Vietnam signed, backed out, built nukes, traded them away and then changed it's name. Everyone else had them before the treaty was passed (I think the USSR gave China 2 nukes but not the ability to make them)

For those who have not always followed my posts, here is a summary:

Crude Oil peak Summery 2011

and latest incremental crude oil graphs

Incremental crude oil production Aug 2011


A worthwhile contribution :-)


Interesting. Thanks.

So if it wasn't for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan ramping up production, we'd be in a shrinking world supply situation.


Looks like Angola has peaked. I remember Angola from one of Matt Simmons "yet to grow" lists.

Interesting. Peak oil in 2010. I suppose by the time Libya comes back online in 2012 we'll get yet another.

According to JODI Crude + Condensate peaked in 2006. Below is the JODI chart from January 2002 thru October 2011, in thousands of barrels per day, with some EIA numbers inserted for countries that did not report their production to JODI.


Ron P.

I find this graph effective over a price per barrel over the same period

Saudi comments, "Gap" Charts & GNE/ANE projections:


I turned on the TV moments ago to watch the local (Atlanta) weather report. The main anchor was doing a quick report about Iran threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz: "but (I had to back it up three times to make sure) Saudi Arabia says it will make up any oil shortfall if Iran makes good on it's threat to close the important sea route".

"A nation of ignoramuses" just doesn't quite describe how I feel :-0

I'm sure they're confused that KSA claims it can make up the shortfall if sanctions are imposed (almost as silly), but DAYUM....

In March of this year, Saudi Arabia attempted to send much more oil through its east-west internal pipeline exiting in the western port of Yanbu. This in reaction to a reduction of Libya's exports in February, and also, a kind of a test due to some provocation by Iran at that time.

It did not work out too well and it was thought using that pipeline was generally inefficient and slow, and quantities that could be moved insufficient.

Also remember that the Saudis failed to honor their pledge then to increase exports (to the extent Libya's fell), although they did increase output some for internal usage and storage.

In sum, I am not very impressed by their statement about their internal pipeline and 'additional' oil supplies today.

Any comment about the report from API that crude inventories up 9.6 million barrels, while Platts that says inventories down 2.3?

Three points:

1. The API and EIA reports have diverged more in the last two weeks than probably at any other time in 2011.

2. Oil companies and distributors sometimes adjust their year end inventories for tax considerations.

3. Last week's report included a drop of about 5 million barrels due to fog halting imports (see further below).

Therefore it may be best not to think this represents any trend.

The same was claimed of Libya. Whether it happened or not, the loss of Libyan oil didn't mean much. While ignorant they may be, (of volumes involved between the two countries if nothing else) the little boy who cries wolf routine rides again.


'Oil Prices Predicted to Stay Above $100 a Barrel Through Next Year'

With Iran threatening to cut off about a fifth of the world’s oil supply by closing the Strait of Hormuz and unrest in Iraq endangering the ability to increase production there, financial analysts say prices for two important oil benchmarks will average from $100 a barrel to $120 a barrel in 2012.

100 to 120 sounds about right, as long as those Straits stay open.

Closing Strait of Hormuz Might Be Self-Inflicted Wound for Iran

"While closing the Strait of Hormuz, even briefly, would hurt Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Gulf oil exporters, the Saudis also ship oil via the Red Sea. All of Iran’s exports and many of its imports of gasoline, food and consumer goods are shipped through the strait." (My emphasis.)

"Iran’s main oil terminal at Kharg Island, which has a loading capacity of 5 million barrels a day and storage capacity for more than 30 million barrels, is in the Persian Gulf. So is its second-largest export terminal, at Lavan Island, with storage capacity of 5 million barrels and a loading capacity of 200,000 barrels per day."

The article also states that 11% of China's oil imports come from Iran, through the Straits.

For those of you that remember when Carter was prez and there was the failed attempt to rescue the American hostages due in part to sand getting sucked into the intake of the helicopters, many speculated the Defense dept. knew this was a distinct possibility, but went ahead anyway to discredit Carter to reduce his chances of winning a 2nd term.

I'm now wondering if a similar type of scenario could unfold in this situation with Iran, by our military leaders escalating tensions until some level of incursion temporarily or longer blocks the straits of Hormuz, the price of oil spikes wildly, the SPR has to be tapped, but the US economy still takes a hit, the blame gets stamped onto Obama and because of it he fails to get a 2nd term.

Sometimes a good conspiracy theory is even better than a good rant. However, it is food for thought.

I could imagine that happening to Obama.

It would be much cleaner than arranging for the prez to take a ride through Dallas in a convertible.

Portraits of the Southwest in the Shadow of Drought

I am no stranger to the US Southwest, having cruised through about four times, but I have to agree that Phoenix (very closely followed by Las Vegas) - seems to even the most casual shallow observer (like me) to be the least sustainable city in the US - possibly the whole world.

And even a casual observer cannot help but notice the increasing desperation bundled up in "water politics" in the whole region - especially in relation to the Colorado River. It is sobering indeed to walk across Hoover Dam, and see how far down Lake Mead is. Where will all this end? Will it be badly?

The major SW cities are indeed fool's paradise, but region wide the I think the worst will hit the Southeast. Atlanta and it's environs got a taste a few years back, with serious questions raised about even having enough water to cool nuclear power plants. Climate change here projects to wretch a forested area to grass. Couple the large population with both industry and agriculture dependent on relatively high rainfall, and it becomes striking.

Atlanta's situation is unique within the southeast: a mega population with a very limited water source. By contrast, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Louisville, Memphis, and Jacksonville, among others, are on major rivers. Certainly, some of the smaller urban areas with minor water sources will have problems, but Atlanta is in a league of its own within the New South.

They are major rivers in terms of discharge, but with small watersheds. Esp compared to western, non-coastal rivers. They will not be supporting that discharge in the future.

Yes, it will end badly.

Mead has/is rising again. The Colorado River system may have been designed for an average inflow higher than it should have been, but most of the alarmism relates to short term fluctuation.

Incidentally, most people don't know the reason Phoenix is where it is. It was founded atop a 1000 y.o. irrigation scheme. The Valley of the Sun has ~1maf/yr of gravity fed water supply from the Salt River, before the CAP is even mentioned.

it will take a while to get back to average though



Mead was artificially low (39%) a year ago (Nov 27th 2010 was the lowest since 1937 when the dam was filling initially) because of how they now operate the system under the IGS, the water level went up 32 feet this past water year. The Colorado system as a whole bottomed at 50% storage at the end of 2004 and is back to 65% as of the end of the water year Sept 30th. Powell was at 73% and during 2012 they will set flows to work towards equalizing storage in Powell and Mead so even if the year is dry, Mead will rise.

I admire your watery optimism.

If the gulf gets closed than a new revenue stream for Shale oil will open.. and who makes Shale oil ?

As for Iran been able to shut the gulf 'easy', it would also be 'easy' to make Tehran a molten fireball via the fleet and a few mini 'focused' nukes. Although the downside to that is that Israel needs more land, so to contaminate it's future empire isn't a wise move.

Whether we realize it or not Peak Oil has entered the hearts and minds of marketers and producers.

Is The Nat Gas Bridge Finally Being Built ?

The combination of peak oil and gas fracing has radically altered the oil and gas markets. Traditionally, one could judge valuations of the oil or gas price by just multiplying gas by 6. But the last 5 years has seen the end of this age:

And below the above paragraph is a chart comparing oil and gas prices showing the great divergence beginning in 2006.

2011: Arab Spring, fracking and hacking

It could be easy to read the insistence of energy companies across North America as they attempt to access untapped natural gas stores as just motivated by profit. But we have to wonder if the fracking boom isn't being pushed partially by concern over peak oil.

Ron P.

And there is the commercial on t.v. from Shell: "let's power the world with natural gas."

For those who may have missed it, Kunstler hosts Greer on his latest Kunstlercast.

I enjoyed Greer's analogy of a stepped decline: Christopher Robin dragging Pooh Bear down the stairs by one leg; Bump, Bump, Bump...

Good interview by Kunstler. Thanks Gung, my first time listening to Greer. He comes across as articulate and intelligent, a good spokesman for the cause. Also, he gives a plug for the value of service and volunteer organizations, a resource many people overlook.

It occurs to me that JHK and JMG both have great "radio voices", hard to ignore.

This is a good one. Chavez says:

“We will reach (exports of) around 10 million barrels (per day) in the next decade,” he said Tuesday at an event in Caracas marking the delivery of new homes to capital residents displaced by floods.

“When oil runs out in the world, the only country that is going to have oil is called Venezuela,” Chavez said Tuesday. “Imagine the pressure there will be on Venezuela in the future.”


All eyes on German renewable energy efforts

In June, the nation passed the 20 percent mark for drawing electric power from a mix of wind, solar and other renewables. That compares with about 9 percent in the United States or Japan — both of which rely heavily on hydroelectric power, an energy source that has long been used.

Expanding renewables depends on the right mix of resources, as well as government subsidies and investment incentive — and a willingness by taxpayers to shoulder their share of the burden. Germans currently pay a 3.5 euro cent per kilowatt-hour tax, roughly euro157 ($205) per year for a typical family of four, to support research and investment in and subsidize the production and consumption of energy from renewable sources.


EU warns wasting environmental resources could spark new recession
Janez Potočnik, European Union commissoner for green affairs, says unless habits change scarcity could see prices spike


Saudi to set bourse opening rules by January 15: source

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is pressing ahead with a long-awaited plan to open up its stock market to foreigners and is now hoping to formalize its rules by January 15, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters....

There will also be rules about the size of the institutions allowed to invest. According to the proposals, the minimum assets under management will be $5 billion.


Energy giant hid behind shells in "land grab"

... he puts it this way: "It was all a fake, all a scam."

Northern has voided hundreds of land deals, and was indeed a facade - a shell company created so that one of America's largest energy companies could conceal its role in the leasing spree, a Reuters investigation has found. Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation's second-largest gas driller, was behind the entire operation.

Chesapeake's effort to hide its involvement isn't illegal. To the contrary, the company's maneuvering exemplifies how U.S. corporations routinely can conceal financial and corporate transactions through the use of shell companies.

Chesapeake's own website advises land owners that their "main consideration" before leasing should be "to discover who will ultimately be producing your minerals." But Chesapeake's strategy made that extremely difficult for the Michigan land owners.

Others, including Chesapeake, defend the need to use shell companies and front companies - contractors with local ties who do business on behalf of a larger corporation. John Lowe, a professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University, calls it "business as usual."

also http://business-journal.com/reuters-investigates-chesapeakes-shells-p206...

Here is the key point, IMO:

But Chesapeake's Michigan land rush quickly ended. In court this month, lawyers for land owners alleged that lease agreements were voided after Chesapeake learned a well it drilled in the state had come up dry.

Bonuses promised to land owners went unpaid, according to court documents submitted by lawyers for the land owners. Northern Michigan Exploration, the Chesapeake-affiliated shell company, rejected more than 97 percent of the leases its Michigan agents had signed with farmers and other land owners, the documents allege.

I suspect that Chesapeake may have decided that they would have problems finding someone to buy a big chunk of their lease block at a hugely promoted price.


CHK using brokers to take leases in their name is SOP in the oil patch. Not so much to hide themselves from the land owners but from other companies. If someone caught wind of CHK taking leases in the area they could jump in taking leases with no expectation of drilling themselves but selling the leases to CHK at a mark up.

Whether CHK or its broker violated any lease agreements depends upon the details of the leases the land owners signed. In many cases the land owners are actually signing an option to buy the leases at a set price. Sometimes the land owner is paid for the option upfront...sometimes not. It's all negotiable. Just like buying a car. As an option the company is free to exercise or not. This is typically done for one of two reasons. First, to tie up as many leases as possible as cheaply as possible in case new drilling proves up the potential. Or it's done to ensure the company acquires enough acreage to drill a well. If the company only leases a portion of the land needed they might not be able to drill and thus the leases they did pay for become worthless.

Again, any hard feeling may be due to land owners unaccustomed to leasing their mineral rights. I always tell land owners the same thing: talk to a lawyer/consultant before you sign anything. Early on I gave that same advice to some PA folks that popped in on TOD. We have lots of knowledgeable land owners in Texas and La. Contact them and they'll typically refer you to their lawyer to discuss your proposal. We saw the same problem with regulators who were unprepared to deal with the drilling boom

I would agree with Rockman that acquiring leases through brokers and shell companies is business as usual in the oil patch. The objective is to conceal what you are doing from your competitors rather then the people you are taking leases from. This is, after all, an industry in which your competitors hire people to tap your phones and go through your wastebaskets to see what information they can find about your latest hot play.

It's possible that what these people signed was an option to lease rather than a true lease, in which case it could be terminated, but if the people signing it thought it was a lease, then the courts are apt to rule it was a lease.

However, if Chesapeake thinks it can duck out of the leases because it operated through shell companies and brokers - that doesn't really work. These companies were operating as agents for Chesapeake, and therefore Chesapeake is responsible for what they do. The lawyers can chase up the chain of authority to the top and bring the people in charge of the parent company to court. I don't know how the laws work in Michigan, but in Canada, that is what would happen. Actually, in Canada the company's corporate partners and banks would step in and take control of their operations away from them before the lawsuits got too far.

Shell's Bonga oil spill might be worse than reported

Although Shell initially announced that the December 20 spill in the Bonga field in the Niger Delta had lost “less than 40,000 barrels,” or 1.7 million gallons, satellite imaging nonprofit SkyTruth suggests that the spill could have lost up to 2.4 million gallons. If SkyTruth’s data is correct, the discrepancy is likely due to the inconsistent thickness of the oil slick.

The Majority of U.S. Foreign Aid is Now Military Aid

The $17 billion Pentagon aid budget for the 2012 fiscal year is the second in a row to exceed the State Department’s by $10 billion, a disparity that has begun to provoke debate among foreign policy experts in Washington. Seven years ago, circumstances were reversed, with the State Department spending triple the amount the Pentagon spent on such aid.

Some foreign aid experts have complained that, as a result of the shifting responsibilities, U.S. aid priorities have shifted from trying to establish good governance to supporting stronger foreign military partners.

So much for the moral 'high ground'

DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Reference Book 2011

PURPOSE: The purpose of the Non-Lethal Weapons [NLW] Reference Book is to provide a single source document that contains key information about NLW descriptions, effects, characteristics, concepts of employment, and associated operational parameters and considerations to enhance NLW education and training.

also Raytheon Non-Lethal Acoustic Pressure Riot Shield Patent

... The operator may specify a desired effect on its human target that is maintained as range-to-target changes or a desired effect at a specified perimeter range. The shields may be networked to facilitate coordinated action among multiple pressure shields as a force multiplier or to provide a more sophisticated pressure barrier.

The ZIRP Song, by the Main Street Project.

Catchy tune with a poignant economic message.

Bugs may be Resistant to Genetically Modified Corn

Scientists always expected rootworms to develop some resistance to the toxin produced by that gene. But the worrisome signs of possible resistance have emerged sooner than many expected.

Some scientists fear it could already be too late to prevent the rise of resistance, in large part because of the way some farmers have been planting the crop.

... If rootworms do become resistant to Bt corn, it "could become the most economically damaging example of insect resistance to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.," said Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. "It's a pest of great economic significance - a billion-dollar pest."

This could put a dent in corn ethanol in a few years.

End of Corn Ethanol?

I listed these two articles in the morning reads, but I am so delighted over this that I had to make sure you did not miss this: Congress has apparently failed to extend the corn ethanol subsidy, a terrible energy idea that has subsidized the burning of food/corn for 30-years.

It is unclear whether this has simply lapsed, and has not been renewed yet or if the wasteful, engine damaging, negative-net-energy Corn Ethanol nightmare is finally over...

The spread between natural gas and oil is so high that this isn't going to stop corn ethanol.

The durability of that spread depends entirely on the decline rate of the shale gas plays and the weather. It could flip with little to no warning.

Yep, although if the gas to oil spread declines, that probably means the coal to gas spread will grow, which will cause coal powerplants to run more, and gas powerplants to run less, partially offsetting the declining production.

Of course, even if domestic gas supply is not reduced, and domestic gas demand for transport (rail and heavy trucks) is not increased, Canadian sources may be diverted to oil sands production (putting pressure on both sides of the gas-oil spread) or to Asian export (have you seen LNG prices in the Pacific?)

Rootworms, UG99, mutant killer bees. The list grows longer.

Ok, the killer bees was from a movie, but with crops beeing tightened the way they are, agri real estate used to near 100% and pop growing 80 millions a year, we can't afford two new agri pests. Seems the only slack we can tighten in now is the inefficient use of food we have. Including food for fuel. Time to reform maybe?

Maybe a good time to (re)read /The War on Bugs/. Good overview of the largely-futile attempt to outgun evolution...

But look on the bright side. We managed to drive the Rocky Mountain Locust, which used to devastate crops on a vast scale in the Western US, into extinction. We don't know how we did that, but it's gone now, and you can't argue with success.

One agricultural pest down, 99 million others to go.

France approves soda tax

France's top constitutional body on Wednesday approved a new tax on sugary drinks that aims to fight obesity while giving a boost to state coffers.


In the EU we subsidy farmers to grow MOAR SUGARZ. And in the other end, we want to put taxes on sugary and other fattening foods to combat obesity. Does not anyone see wich end the error lies in?

What about removing the subsedies of sugar farmers? I think that would solve a whole lot. Yes, the residents of Paris prefer their streets not to be blocked by piles of cow dung, but I do think that is a price worth paying.

US eyes first BP criminal charges over Gulf spill: WSJ

US prosecutors are readying criminal charges against British oil giant BP employees over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident that led to the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, The Wall Street Journal reported online.

Citing sources close to the matter, the Journal said the prosecutors are focusing on US-based BP engineers and at least one supervisor who they say may have provided false information to regulators on the risks of deep water drilling in the Gulf.

Errors were made ... others will be blamed.

Same old story:

Search for the guilty.
Punishment the innocent.
Awards and bonuses for non-participants.

Awards and bonuses for non-participants.

Hey. I'm a non-participant. I'm still awaiting my awards and bonuses!

Me too!

Permaculture related ...

Hedgerows can be managed better for wildlife

Simple changes to hedgerow management could significantly improve winter habitats and food supplies for wildlife, according to new research by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The study, published in Biological Conservation, compared the effects of different management regimes on hawthorn hedges over five years. It found that cutting every three years rather than annually produced 2.1 times more flowers and 3.4 times the mass of berries.

Cutting every two years also increased flowers and berry provision, but the increase in berry weight depended on the hedges being cut in late winter rather than autumn.

By this calculation, Saudi Aramco's production capacity is at least 12.7 million bpd. For 2004, 2005 and 2006, production was essentially at capacity.

Assumed decline of 2 % of production. Capacity additions are from:


July 2011
Oilfield Year of Crude grade Capacity
completion (million b/d)
Haradh 2006 Arab light 0.9
Khurais 2009 Arab light 1.2
Khursaniyah 2010 Arab light 0.5
Nuayyim 2009 Arab super light 0.1
Qatif 2004 Arab light, Arab medium 0.8
Shaybah 2009 Arab extra light 0.75

Production is based on BP data. Calculated capacity is previous year's capacity* + previous year's additions(if any) - decline.

*initial capacity was set at 10.6 million bpd, for 2004 assuming production was equal to capacity.

Of course, I think that what really matters it the volume of petroleum liquids delivered into the export market. Following is an excerpt from some prior comments:


I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports will be between 1.0 and 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd (total petroleum liquids, BP).

Using the lower estimate of 2011 net exports, 7.5 mbpd, Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 16 years, around 2027. Using the higher estimate of 2011 net exports, 8.1 mbpd, Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports in about 19 years, around 2030 (in both cases extrapolating the 2005 to estimated 2011 rate of increase in the ratio (C/P) of Saudi consumption to production of total petroleum liquids). At the 2005 to 2010 rate of change in the C/P ratio, Saudi Arabia would have approached zero net oil exports by the end of 2024. So, the slope of the projected Saudi net export decline has changed slightly.

A rough rule of thumb* suggests that the Saudis would have shipped half of their post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) by the end of 2012, based on the 2010 estimate, and they will have shipped half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of 2014, based on the most optimistic 2011 estimate.

Following is a plot of annual Saudi net oil exports (horizontal axis) versus annual WTI crude oil prices (vertical axis). Note that at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in net exports, in 2010 Saudi net exports would have been at about 13 mbpd, versus actual 2010 net exports of 7.2 mbpd (BP).

If we look at Brent prices, the annual price approximately doubled from 2002 to 2005, from $25 to $55. In response, Saudi net oil exports increased by 25%, as the Saudis (in early 2004) pledged to support the $22 to $28 OPEC price band.

Annual Brent prices doubled again from 2005 to 2011, from $55 to about $111. In response, I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports were down by about 17% from their 2005 level.

And a similar chart for Texas & North Sea crude oil production versus oil prices:


More Views on Climate Risk and Arctic Methane

Gary Houser, an environmental writer and producer of a documentary that’s being made about Arctic methane, sent a rebuttal of my initial post in this string, “Methane Time Bomb in Arctic Seas – Apocalypse Not.” Here’s an introductory riff and link to his full piece:

As co-producer of an upcoming in-depth documentary on the methane issue, I am stunned at how Revkin has dismissed the concerns of those trying to alert the world to the danger of a methane runaway feedback. It is one of the scenarios most feared by climate scientists. Once triggered, an abrupt downward spiral could ensue which humanity might be helpless to stop. When the factors which could unleash a runaway are beginning to line up, it is a time for humanity to take a pause from its many distractions and look.

Did you see this from Jim Garrison over at Huffpost?


the Russian scientist Dr. Igor Semiletov reported that methane plumes over 1000 meters across were erupting in the Arctic Ocean and that he had mapped over 100 eruptions of lesser size in a 10,000 square mile area. He speculated that there were perhaps thousands more methane eruptions over a much larger expanse. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane rich area comprised of over 2 million square miles of seafloor under the Arctic Ocean. Most of the seafloor is quite shallow and flat, about 50 meters in depth, which means that the methane shoots right up directly into the atmosphere before it can be absorbed by the ocean. Methane is one of the green houses gases and is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.

The import of methane spewing into the atmosphere is as bad for our climate as the 2012 NDAA is corrosive for our freedom. Indeed, the fact of their simultaneity indicates our governing elites are escalating the preparations for marshal law just as our climate is creating the turbulence they could use to justify it. Massive releases of methane into the atmosphere mean that climate turbulence is going to radically escalate and do so increasingly destructively, causing major breakdowns in our economic and social order.

It is important to note that as recently as the 2007 IPCC report, methane was not even mentioned because it was barely noted in the literature. That's a measure of how little we actually knew about what was really happening, even among those who were most concerned. By 2008, scientists were reporting methane releases across Siberia and the Arctic but only as bubbles and small bursts coming to the surface through the melting permafrost. Three years later, it is gushing out as plumes a third of a mile across, releasing millions of tons into the atmosphere every day.

We all need to internalize that even as our elites are completing the construction of national security states, the climate situation on planet Earth is rapidly spinning out of control. Over the next 24 - 36 months, the gushers of methane are going to radically increase and pretty soon our whole atmosphere is going to be saturated with methane.

OK, the last bit about 'saturated with methane' is a bit over the top--methane is now measured in parts per billion, with a b-; the main risk is that it will become more appropriate to measure it in parts per million. This is of course a huge increase, but not what most people would call 'saturated.'

But we should all be concerned and alarmed at even the possibility that this is going on.

Actually this may be the trigger we have been talking about for so long. More methane release will cause the earth to warm a little more causing more methane release causing more methane release causing...

I am afraid to think about what this could lead to.

Ron P.

Um, it is all coincidence... right? ;D

New Record High Temperature At South Pole

"The South Pole experienced its highest-ever recorded temperature of -12.3C (+9.9F) on December 25, 2011, according to preliminary reporting from the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at the University of Wisconsin."


The South Pole experienced its highest-ever recorded temperature of -12.3C (+9.9F) on December 25, 2011

Yeah, but that's still much lower than freezing, 32F. What's of greater concern in regards to Antarctica is the temperature of the water under and lapping up against the ice shelves.

My three main worry items are:

Arctic methane relases.
Collapse of the Arctic floating ice.
Collapse of the Amazon rain forest.

They are all moving on at some state of progress each. When all 3 have gone off, it is game over. Lets count the surviviors and hand over the game to mother Evolution to reset the board. Still time to stop it, but very little, and even less will to do it.

JW (and Ron)
We are not there yet ... or, then again, we might be.
This from some of the researchers in to Siberian methane

Observations are at the core of our work now. It is no surprise to us that others monitoring global methane have not found a signal from the Siberian Arctic or increase in global emissions. [This refers to the work of Ed Dlugokencky and others; see his comments in my Dot Earth post.] The number of stations monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations worldwide is very few. In the Arctic there are only three such stations — Barrow, Alert, Zeppelin — and all are far away from the Siberian Arctic.


PS Methane breaks down rapidly in the atmosphere - reactive molecule as you notice when you burn it. Does not break down nearly as fast though when sequestered during the long darkness over the arctic. Reaches higher concentrations up there and kind of keeps it warmer during the winter, as I understand it. I would do some more measurements myself.


I'm concerned about this but I believe we have abit longer than 24 to 36 months. 10 -15 years - maybe?

Lacking the raw data on the size and output of these plumes; I've hypothesized that their size and output would follow a Power's Law distribution - [very similar to the size distribution of oil reservoirs]

The large [km+] vent would be one end of the scale - the tens of meters vent - the other. This constrains the output to maybe 5-10x the output of the larger vent. As to solving for the output of the larger vent - my SWAG is some unit multiple [3-8] of the methane output of the Deepwater spill. To grasp how much methane was coming out of Deepwater, focus on the footprint of the flame before the rig sank - it covers nearly 9,000 sq. meters [Length: 112 m (367 ft) Beam: 78 m (256 ft)] - and that was from a single outlet source.

One of the near-term problems of that much methane is it's impact on the Arctic ozone hole, which is currently increasing.

Good point. If there is a major methane release going on, it will take a few months at least to spread globally. Then it will just be starting to move toward having its full effects in the first years. It is only after 20 years or more that the full effects develop.

That's because the way GHG's act in keeping heat near the earth is kind of like how a damn acts--When you first put up a damn, the reservoir behind it doesn't immediately fill up with water. In the same way, not all the heat that can be blocked is blocked the first year that a certain quantity of GHG is in the atmosphere. There are also so called 'fast' feedbacks that still need some time to work themselves out, since 'fast' does not mean 'instantaneous.' I've heard that it may be the GHG concentration of as far back as 40 years ago that we are now feeling the effects of.

So it is not likely to be a Hollywood finish with everything coming apart in a day or a year. But we do seem to have set ourselves on a quite tragic trajectory.

A one off methane release's effects would peak pretty early, since methane oxidizes to CO2 and water with about a twelve year timeconstant. The decline of the methane spike would bite long before the planets thermal inertia was overcome. Now a CO2 release would have a much longer tail (in fact thousands of years), but even here, maybe half would be absorbed within the first year or two.

You do know that methane oxidizes into CO2, right?

And the ability of land and water to absorb CO2 is fast diminishing.

But of course it would be best if whatever is going on in the Arctic ends up being self-limiting, somehow.

But even it the cause of this recent increase ends up being some kind of one-time event, like an earthquake, if it releases sufficient quantities of methane, it could end up helping to trigger the feedback that is feared.

Again, if we were busily decreasing our ghg emissions and moving toward increasing the earths ability to sequester CO2 through forest and grassland planting (see below), such a temporary or even a continuous release would not be as worrying, as our reductions may be able to outpace the new emissions.

But instead we are massively increasing the rate at which we emit CO2, so this coming on top of that forcing could really spell disaster, especially if it is as large as it sounds, and if it is the beginning of a feedback that will bring about ever larger releases from this source.

I love this part:

...trying to alert the world to the danger of a methane runaway feedback. It is one of the scenarios most feared by climate scientists. Once triggered, an abrupt downward spiral could ensue which humanity might be helpless to stop.

"...might be helpless to stop".... Suggestions welcome....anyone?

[dead freakin silence, stares all around]

Intentional nuclear winter?

[dead freakin silence, stares all around]

Hopefully without the N part. Or the burning down scores of big cities part. Presumably, you mean a large intentional release of SO2. Other solar management schemes that aren't nearly as ugly, but probably not as cost effective:
(1) Stimulating sea fog, via salt particles and other aerosols.
(2) Microbubbles injected into seawater, to increase its albedo.
(3) Land albedo management, white roofs, reflective pavement, etc. Planting ground cover vegetation choosen for its higher albedo.

Somewhat longer term you can go for CO2 absorption:
(1) Lots and lots of biochar.
(2) Stimulating the chemical weathering of silicate rocks.
(3) Management of ecosystems and soil to increase soil carbon stores (overlap with (1)).

Get desperate enough, and any objections to these would melt away. Funding of course is a different matter.

Again, be for we rush out and 'do' something that may or may not have the consequences we intend (there's been recent work out that biochar and white roofs may not be all that effective), we should stop doing things that are making the problem worse:

stop burning fossil fuels
stop deforesting--what is the current rate? One Florida-sized forest per year?
stop raising most livestock (major methane source)
stop emitting other powerful greenhouse gasses such as certain refrigerants, N20...
stop agricultural and other land use practices that generate GHGs
stop population from increasing by 70 million per year

We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot before we can start to gently heal the poor appendage.

Once we have stopped, the obvious place to start healing is allowing and encouraging forests to regrow, especially in equatorial regions. In the north, once we stop feeding most of our grain to our cows and our cars, and once we stop propagating ever more mouths to feed, we should be able to start turning more and more of the cropland back to grassland. (In northern latitudes, grasses are more effective at reducing gw, since trees decrease albedo in winter.)

But since we show no twinkling of a tendency to stop making the situation worse, we will be looking for more and more wild and reckless schemes that we hope will save us from the consequences of our continuing actions.

I thought it was pretty obvious I was kidding about inducing nuclear winter. Sorry if the nuclear part and the ? weren't a big enough hint. I guess it was only funny to me because of the mental image I had of the war room, with some general wanting to nuke the problem. As an added bonus it would reduce planetary biological carrying load dramatically!

Incidentally in my part of the world white roofs would go a long way toward reducing GHG emissions from A/C, irrespective of the geoengineering benefits or lack thereof.

I think the reason not everyone realised it was a jest, is that no matter what the problem du jour is -- be it the deepwater horizon spill or Iran getting uppity -- there's always some damfool "expert" who thinks that a nuclear explosion would most likely fix it. I'm sure there are at least one or two trying to figure out how a nuclear explosion or several could somehow act as a climate-change bandaid.

It's OK ben, I got it. Your nuclear suggestion was in the same realm of absurdity as the suggestion that we can reverse global warming once feedback loops ensue. Perhaps only slightly less absurd is the idea that we can adapt to higher average temperatures and periods of extreme weather/deadly heat. Yet, adapt we must or perish, it seems...

Time to go back to the caves? Store 'coolth' in the winter? Earth bermed structures with green (living) roofs? Shade large structures with lots of PV? Become a nocturnal species? Convert all of our fossil fuel pipelines to PV and wind pumped water redistribution? Passively cooled cities??

In best presidential voice:

My fellow Americans, I am here tonight to offer you a bold new vision of the future. Tomorrow, upon my direction and with the approval of Congress, we will implement a multifaceted plan to combat climate change. First, we will stop burning all fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this means that you will have no electricity except for that which is produced by renewables. I know,that many of you are thinking, "Well what about my nuclear power plant?" but without fuel to run the mining equipment, and electricity to complete the refining process, the uranium fuel will be unavailable. It's also unfortunate that you will no longer be able to drive, fly, take a bus, train or cruise on a ship, but that won't matter because, you won't have a job to go to, there won't be anything for you to purchase at the store, and your money will not be worth anything anyways!

The second part of our plan will be to stop deforestation. That means that even if you are freezing, or would like to cook some food, you'll have to do it with wood that's already been harvested because we no longer will allow anyone to cut down trees for any reason. Since your neighbor's house is soon to be empty, feel free to use the studs and plywood from their home for heat, light, and cooking fuel. Books, magazines, and your old tax returns will also make great material for producing heat. Please refrain from burning plastics or other non-carbon neutral materials.

The third facet of our innovative plan will eliminate a major source of the powerful GHG, methane. By outlawing the production of most livestock, we will greatly reduce the amount of methane entering the atmosphere, as well as reduce the suffering of hundreds of millions of animals each year.

Next we will reduce the use of refrigerants that have a detrimental effect on the climate. Adjusting to this part will be easy since you will no longer have electricity for your air conditioners or refrigerators nor fuel to run your automobiles. We do ask, that before tearing apart the devices that contain these refrigerants in order to use the parts to make stills or primitive weapons, make sure that you have the refrigerants drained and captured by qualified technician.

The fifth part of our plan will eliminate agriculture and other land use practices that produce GHG's. I know that it seems like ending agriculture would have a negative effect on the health and welfare of our population, but it dovetails nicely with the sixth facet of our program which is reducing the number of people who are born each year.

Now of course, I'm sure you are wondering what good it will do for only Americans to undertake these steps. What about the other 6.6 billion people in the world? Well I'm happy to announce that in an unprecedented event of global cooperation, all the other leaders of the world have agreed to band together and implement this simple and elegant solution to Anthropogenic Climate Change.

Recall that all of these are conveniences that humans lived without for the first few millions years of our existence.

Again, what we have never lived without is a climate that did not exceed our bodies' abilities to cool themselves.

We do not have to do it all at once, but we have to walk away from fossil fuels, and the longer we wait, the more rapidly we will have to do it.

Brits reduced their domestic use of petrol by 95% in just a few years during WWII. Our current threat is more existential (threatening of our very existence) than that one was.

My wording may have been confusing on Ag. I did not say to stop all ag, just the practices that create large quantities of GHG's.

But yes, your witty parody helps show why we are not likely to do anything near what is necessary to avert ultimate calamity. Sacrifice for a greater good is no longer in our cultural vocabulary.

Like any other addict, it is clear what we have to do; we just cannot muster the willpower to do it.

Get desperate enough, and any objections to these would melt away. Funding of course is a different matter.

Trying to geoengineer our way out of GHG's on Earth seems like pure folly. The only reasonably feasible geoengineering idea I've heard so far is a sun shield at the LaGrange, the gravitational midpoint between the Sun & the Earth. From there the Earth looks relatively small and shielding a tiny part of 1% of the sunlight headed for Earth will counter balance energy build up from added GHG's. However, it would be a mistake to take that approach to continue to spew CO2, methane, etc., without a plan B to get off of FF, because then you still acidifiy the oceans.

"More and more, fighting over less and less"... Did I leave anything out, other than the historical evolution of the Femur as weapon of choice (and now being made of fissile/fusible material and can be "thrown" a really long way...).

US sells $30bn in F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia

In a statement on Thursday, the White House said the Saudi arms sale was a "key component to regional stability".

As well as the F-15s, the larger $60bn package includes Apache attack helicopters, Black Hawk helicopters, and a range missiles, bombs and delivery systems.

Analysts see the deal as part of Washington's Gulf strategy of trying to contain Iran.

Saudi Arabia to donate fuel to troubled Yemen

DUBAI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will donate fuel to Yemen, throwing a second lifeline in six months to its impoverished southern neighbour to prevent a shortage there from escalating into chaos, industry sources said on Thursday.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will buy oil products from the market but will ask the supplier to discharge the cargo in Yemen instead of in Saudi ports, industry sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The amount Yemen will receive from Saudi in January will be around 500,000 tonnes.

500,000 tonnes/month = 3.145 million barrels of oil (100,000 bbl/day)

I'm not sure if this donation here is the same that was agreed to three weeks ago, or not.

The interesting thing here is that previously KSA sent its own oil. This time it is buying oil for Yemen. That seems to be a bit unusual.

Saudi to donate oil to end Yemen's fuel crisis
Updated: 2011-12-13 09:22

"King Abdullah has decided to donate enough amount of crude oil to Yemen to help end its fuel shortage crisis," Saba cited an official statement as saying.


This weeks Archdruid report is particularly relevant to some long-standing disagreements here.


Hubris is the denial of the possibility of failure or inaccuracy. It corrupts any of the moral virtues, turning them into their own opposites.

Gas find worth ‘tens of billions’, minister says

CYPRUS HAS approximately €100 billion worth of natural gas that will satisfy its electricity production needs for 210 years, said Commerce Minister Praxoulla Antoniadou yesterday.

Antoniadou was speaking only hours after President Demetris Christofias officially announced that Noble Energy had discovered between 5 trillion and 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas in the Block 12 Aphrodite field.

If you don't have guns to protect it, you don't shout that you own gold. Expect Turkey to lay claim on that the gas any minute.

This is just only the begining since there are several similar prospects in the sea to the south of Cyprus. However the only chance of this being a blessing to the republic of Cyprus is if its existence is appreciated by the western powers. Being a cypriot I know that the support of the west is nothing warranted even when we are on the right side of the story.

What about the joint gas venture with Israel? That may give Cyprus some external support. But I wonder to what extent the recent souring of Israel-Turkey relations, often blamed on the Gaza flotilla etc, are really due to the dispute over the rights to gas in that area?

Oil Refiners Face Alpine Descent

Refiners buy crude oil on a global market but often sell refined products, such as gasoline, locally. Say crude spikes because of a war in Libya but European demand for fuels drops because of economic woes, resulting in thin refining margins. This has been the unpleasant reality of European refining this year: Margins collapsed in the second quarter and have stayed low.

Such imbalances are compounded by structural overcapacity. Apart from the costs and political hazards of firing employees, cleaning up the site after closing a refinery is expensive. So rather than shut a plant down altogether, there's a strong incentive to keep even unprofitable refineries ticking over in the hope of an eventual upturn. Hence, while the European Union's oil consumption fell 3% over the past 15 years, its refining capacity went up—and there was too much to begin with anyway

Investment in new refining capacity jumped prior to the financial crisis, spurred on by record energy prices. It is now hitting the market. Spare refining capacity next year is expected to be 6.8 million barrels a day, according to JBC Energy, a consultancy. That's the highest in the past decade apart from the crisis year of 2009, and more than the entire demand of Central and South America.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 23, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending December 23, 19 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging about 4.9 million barrels per day.
U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 9.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 1.4 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 8.6 million barrels per day, 8 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 525 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 166 thousand barrels per day last week.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 327.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels last week.
Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 7.8 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.8 million barrels per day, down by 5.6 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 4.0 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 3.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.2 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Gulf Region oil imports recover from prior fog-bound week

Oil imports in the Gulf of Mexico region accounted for very close to 100% of the large rebound in US oil imports. In the prior reporting week, heavy and persistent fog in the area of the Houston and Sabine Ship Channels, plus a shipping collision near Houston, greatly delayed off-loading oil imports in the Gulf region. By country of origin - oil imports increased significantly from Mexico, Iraq, and Brazil.

However while oil product imports into the Gulf region drop significantly in the prior reporting week, they did not recover in the most recent week. It is not yet clear if this is related to some year-end inventory maneuver to reduce inventories, due to various federal and state ad valorem taxes related to the increase in the 2011 market value of oil.

Due to these kinds of uncertainties, this week's and next week's oil inventory report from the EIA should be 'taken with a grain of salt', that is they may not be entirely indicative of current trends. For example, 'products supplied' by refiners in today's report were particularly weak, and it is not clear if that resulted from reduced Christmas hours at refiners and distributors - or if it represents falling demand for gasoline and diesel. US temperatures were generally above normal last week, and that appears to account for the drop in distillate (like diesel) demand - but not for other oil products.

In general, foreign demand for US oil products remains strong, with Brazil in particular increasing its imports of gasoline, diesel, and ethanol from the US at a fairy rapid pace in recent weeks. Elsewhere, China still has intermittent diesel shortages, which may indirectly increase foreign demand for US diesel. Also while Russia has recovered from low supplies of diesel a few months ago, their Government has essentially issued orders this week to cut back diesel exports at the first sign a shortage may be re-developing.

Going forward into 2012, despite an improvement in oil exports from Libya, total oil exports to the US may well continue their fall we saw throughout 2011. The year of 2012 for the US may become a year of living dangerously with the prospect of falling oil imports exceeding the drop - if any - in US demand.

China, Asia-Pacific OECD oil demand provide upside surprises
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 | 11:00

Diesel shortages are still occurring intermittently despite record runs and changes to fuel prices, with many filling stations in Southern China posting "no diesel" signs ahead of high seasonal demand. While the strength in overall demand may fall short of matching the record demand levels of December (9.6 mb/d), especially as the acute shortages in diesel alleviate somewhat, to grow on last year’s levels in November remains quite a remarkable feat.


12/29/11 Reuters News 17:11:16
December 29, 2011

Iraq oil exports to Turkey halted to refill storage-sources

BAGHDAD, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Iraq's oil exports to Turkey through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline were halted on Thursday due to low volumes in storage in Iraq, two North Oil Company sources said.

"Crude flow from Kirkuk's fields was stopped today at around 7 a.m. in order to fill the main storage depots and to carry out routine maintenance work to the pipelines and crude pumping stations," a NOC engineer told Reuters, adding that exports were restarted around 4 p.m.

Another source, a senior NOC official, confirmed the reason for the halt but said exports were still shut down late on Thursday.


New York Gasoline Gains as Petroplus May Shut French Refinery
By Paul Burkhardt - Dec 28, 2011 4:06 PM ET

The 161,800-barrel-a-day Petit Couronne refinery may be forced to stop operations on Jan. 2 along with other plants in Europe, Laurent Patinier, a CFDT union representative, said today by phone. Lower gasoline production could restrict fuel imports to the U.S. East Coast.



I thought there had to be some reason as to why we didn't see a larger build in the EIA report today. Perhaps they are indeed moving the numbers around a little to square up year-end accounting and tax issues.

Your statement that exports to the USA will perhaps fall during 2012 seems contrary to the EIA data which, for example, show imports for the 4-week average in 2010 of 8.574 vs 2011 of 8.582. I would've thought the variance would be much higher this year after off loading most all the floating storage in the last couple years.

Where are you seeing a drop off in exports to the USA?

Year to date crude imports for 2011 vs. 2010 are 8,863,000 bpd vs. 9,125,000. That does not seem very significant until you also consider the rapid increase in oil product exports, and fall in oil product imports. That swing is about 700,000 bpd for the year.

So net imports of oil and oil products (imports less exports) fell to 8,784,000 bpd year to date, as compared to 9,748,000 bpd. The oil and oil product categories, when added together, produce a large drop of about 1,000,000 bpd in net imports in 2010.

Right now, shipping and production trends for early 2012 indicate that the net import figure will fall further - granted that may be in part due to falling oil product imports and rising oil product exports.

A supply deficit in 2011 was significantly reduced by the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Unless domestic demand drops further, the US will come up 'short' of oil again in 2012.

I knew you would have the answer Charles!! As always, I love your comments regarding the inventory numbers.

Cycle like the Danes to cut carbon emissions, says study

Europe could cut its transport greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% if every population cycled as regularly as the Danes, according to a pioneering study which tracks the environmental impact of cycling down to the extra calories consumed by riders.

If the EU cycling rate was the same as it is in Denmark, where the average person cycles almost 600 miles (965km) each year, then the bloc would attain anything from 12% to 26% of its targeted transport emissions reduction, depending on what forms of transport the cycling replaced, according to the report by the Brussels-based European Cycling Federation (ECF).

The ECF is urging politicians to focus less on technologically complex solutions to emissions, such as electric cars, and instead think about the potential for increased cycling, especially given that around a third of motorised journeys within the EU are 1.25 miles or less.

My father will enjoy this -- he's American (with pretty strong Danish roots) and rode his bike about 10 miles each way to work at Garrett Turbine in (unsustainable) Phoenix in the 70's before starting his own company. I'd have guessed the Dutch cycling mileage was higher, especially if I wanted to irk him!

Back in the thirties, my great uncle Scheafer WALKED about twenty two to twenty four miles round trip to work in a furniture factory.

I guess he could have afforded a bicycle but the route included a lot of footpaths, and the road was nothing but either cobbles or ruts and mud depending on the weather.More hills than not.

We don't have men like that in this country anymore.

But I expect there are plenty of them in places like India and China and Afghanistan.

Yep, and probably thought nothing of going a mile or two out of his way to see a neighbor.

My Bestefar (born in 1915) was a letter carrier after he got out of the service (he was in the Pacific in WWII, even though he only had one eye from the time he was 8, that got him made a radio operator instead of a rifleman). He walked a 17 mile rural carrier route in WV after he sorted his mail at the Post office, every day until he retired. They did cache a couple of the sorted bags along the way for him so he didn't have to carry all of it all day. When he was in his late 70's (in the early 90's) and was dying of skin cancer, the VA doctors kept 'trying one more thing' because they told him he had the heart and lungs of a 35 y.o.

Denmark ( & Holland) are flat countries, so therefore easy to say but difficult to implement in most other countries that have hills.

That's what gears are for. You get to come back down after you go up. Dad grew up (on a bike) in West Virginia, where they say that if you ironed it out it'd be bigger than Texas.

Many/most cities are mostly flat, including most of Phoenix. Exceptions are, Bay area, Albuquerque, Pittsburg(? steep but are they long enough to be problematic).

Cycle like a Dane, walk like an Egyptian?.....

A Christmas energy roundup

... Nature does seem to remind us who is boss occasionally, with the tsunami in Japan being the most obvious recent example.

That has it seems also happened in the past in the UK. What seems to have been tsunami evidently hit the English and Welsh coast of the Severn estuary in 1607, with the flood recorded with a metal peg set into the wall of a church (built on a low rise) at adult chest height, and showing surrounding ground had a flood height of 4 metres. It caused 2000 deaths of people of the villages and much loss of livestock.

I do hope the designers of the new nuclear plants proposed for sea-level sites on the estuary at Hinkley and Olbury remember that.

Renewables had their share of crazyness and problems this year too, with, for example, the 1/6th scale prototype of Norway’s Sway floating wind turbine sinking in heavy seas in November.

More on the 1607 Bristol Channel Flood. This has relevance for future planning of nuclear power facilities in the Bristol Channel, which is currently the location of the Hinkley, Oldbury, and (now decommissioned) Berkeley nuclear power stations. Flooding is known to have extended along more than 400 km of the northern and southern coasts of the Bristol Channel and up the Severn Estuary as far as Gloucester

Once upon a time, at a big-league R&D shop for which I used to work but which at this moment shall remain nameless, a new manager type came on board in the engineering department. He was a card-carrying member of a new project management theory (developed in I know not what school) called "success-oriented engineering." Basically it consisted of trimming all your margins, budgets, and backup plans to near zero by assuming that everything you did would succeed. This was supposed to save time and money.

In practise, it seemed (to us old cynics who had been through a few changes of "management paradigm" in our time) to mean that whatever screwups we inevitably experienced were euphemistically relabelled (since we had no budget to deal with them), goals were "descoped," tolerances slackened, etc, so that whatever version of the project was finally delivered was defined as "success". QED!

I begin to wonder if maybe SOE got its start in the nuke industry? Just assume that everything you do will be successful and nothing can go wrong... [whistle, whistle, hands in pockets, look casual]...

Yes, the best engineering in the world can be easily defeated by an MBA in the accounting department.
Somewhere in Fukushima's past an engineer probably designed a tsunami wall based on the historical record (plus a margin of error) but accountants who are ignorant to black swans decided to save some yen.
(Of course the reactor designers who put the back-up generators in the basement where they could flood and the spent fuel ponds on the roof where they could drain weren't exactly the best engineers in the world.)

A very, very, very large American retailer building a distribution center (warehouse) with 12kV primary service in my area a decade or so back, was advised repeatedly (in writing) that they could not use wye-wye 12/480V transformers on my distribution system (delta-wye only). When construction was complete, I checked and they had used wye-wye. I refused to energize. After trying to run me over politically and failing, they had to spend about $100k to fix the error. Their engineer told me (on the QT) he had spec'd it as instructed, but the project manager and purchasing agent bought wye-wye anyway to save $10K.

Well, I don't think "success oriented engineering" is exactly new. The American automobile companies had a similar concept they called "value engineering". Basically, they would go through the repair records for their cars, and if they found a part that never broke, they would replace it with a cheaper one that did break, but only after the warranty expired.

However, the Japanese came along and completely screwed up the system for them. Among other things, they discovered that they could build an engine that would last twice as long, but didn't cost any more money to build. So, they built them to last as long as possible and sold them to Americans for the same price, or more commonly, less.

It didn't take long for Americans to catch on to the fact that an American car would disintegrate the day after it came off warranty (or frequently before), but a Japanese car would keep humming along until you got bored with it and sold it to your neighbor. Naturally, the people who bought Japanese cars were happy, and bought new Japanese cars, and the people who bought American cars were unhappy, and bought new Japanese cars, too.

Another interesting thing that Ford discovered when it owned Mazda was that people liked Mazda transmissions much more than Ford transmissions, which bothered them because they were the same transmissions with identical specs. So, they took apart some transmissions, and discovered that, while all the transmission parts were within spec, the Mazda transmissions had all the parts exactly at the CENTER of the tolerance specs, wheres the Ford transmission parts were more or less somewhere within tolerances. This was because the Japanese workers were focused on doing their jobs perfectly, whereas the American workers were focused on doing their jobs well enough to not get fired.

The result was that, when people test drove them, the Mazda transmission shifted like a quality piece of workmanship in a BMW, whereas the Ford transmission shifted like a piece of junk in an old truck. So, since the price was the same, after the test drive people bought the Mazda instead of the Ford.

This is the problem with ideas like "success oriented engineering" when applied to real world situations where people get to make choices.

Frigid Blast to Start 2012 from Plains to East

Sorry, but I must rant a bit. This Accuweather report is typical of weather reporting these days. It casts a dip in temps well within the normal ups and downs as 'dangerous'. More glaringly, to me, it utterly ignores that while, yes, it will feel colder for a week, that's because the past month or more has been consistently well above normal. No climate change, here, folks. Get out your parkas in places like Minneapolis and prepare for an arctic blast. I'm sure the good folks of the northern plains are shaking in their boots in fearful anticipation of this, as well as the people in the northeast. Here are some excerpts, for each of which I provide some context. All avg. temps from wunderground.com

Highs will fail to climb out of the teens and 20s across portions of the northern Plains

Avg. high Jan 1 in Minneapolis is 24. So, failing to climb out of teens/20's for portions of northern plains seems pretty much normal.

Highs will be in the teens and 20s across the interior [Northeast]

Average high Jan 1 Concord NH is 32. So, Okay, this is 10-15 degrees below normal. But what word would they then use for 20-30 degrees below normal?

Big Northeastern cities along the I-95 corridor will have highs in the 20s and 30s.

NYC Jan 1 avg high is 39. So we're talking maybe a few degrees below normal?

Colder air will penetrate the Southeast as well with highs falling and lows dropping below freezing for cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.

Avg low, Jan 1 in Raleigh is 30, so below freezing here is normal. Avg. low in Charlotte is 33, so below freezing is a coupla degrees below the avg.


"This Accuweather report is typical of weather reporting these days. "

It's typical _Accuweather_ reporting. They tend towards the hysterical. A storm doesn't come along with rain and wind. Oh no, it always "slams", or "batters", or "pounds" or whatever. Every remote possibility is exaggerated and sensationalized. When they are wrong about the certain imminent death and destruction to come you don't hear about it. But when they get something vaguely right, e.g., it snowed, it's "as predicted here 2 days ago".

Just use NOAA weather. Great forecasts, no hysteria. Or even Wunderground - they play it fairly straight. Accuweather is the Fox News of weather reporting.

Consider the source. Accuweather is the 'Foxs News' of weather reporting ...

Accuweather’s Joe Bastardi, denier of basic climate science, resigns after 32 years

Mike Smith, CEO of Weather Data, An AccuWeather Company follows in his footsteps.

...his book chronicles the remarkable advances that have occurred in meteorology over the past 50 years -- not through dry statistics but through very personal stories.

Can't let none of those 'dry statistics' interfere with a mind that's made up.

That's funny that we independently came up with "Fox News of weather reporting". Great minds think alike. ;-)

This is true ;-)

Thanks, esses, for the replies. Yes, I know that non-hysterical (and non-anti-AGW biased) forecasts are available elsewhere, as you say. But my point is that this is a piece of what the masses hear everyday. It's one more piece of the corporate-controlled MSM loudspeaker telling them that all is well, the climate is stable, we couldn't possibly affect it, the US is now a net exporter of 'oil', and on and on. As I said, it was a rant. I know that nothing I or we (whoever we are) do is going to change it. Americans (generalizing here, yes, as I am one of them who shall not) will go beating their chests into war with Iran (or anyone they're told is 'evil'), off the energy descent cliff, and into the abyss of abrupt climate change. It will always be someone else's fault, and we will never have been able to see that coming.

Sorry my first rant wasn't a tad more clear. I feel better now, thanks. (Well, not really...)

While we consider worse case scenarios, Treasury plans for euro failure:

The [British] Government is considering plans to restrict the flow of money in and out of Britain to protect the economy in the event of a full-blown euro break-up...

The Treasury is working on contingency plans for the disintegration of the single currency that include capital controls.

The preparations are being made only for a worst-case scenario and would run alongside similar limited capital controls across Europe, imposed to reduce the economic fall-out of a break-up and to ease the transition to new currencies...

...Capital controls form just one part of a broader response to a euro break-up, however. Borders are expected to be closed and the Foreign Office is preparing to evacuate thousands of British expatriates and holidaymakers from stricken countries.

The Ministry of Defence has been consulted about organising a mass evacuation if Britons are trapped in countries which close their borders, prevent bank withdrawals and ground flights...

Ilargi: Every government, in Europe and in the US, is busy working on contagion plans, just like this one, over the holidays. Bank holidays are considered, capital controls, travel restrictions.

In order to keep the basics of their economies going in case of financial disaster, governments will need to make sure they have the means to cover basic necessities. In a world where most of the energy and food is imported, that is a herculean task.

Who's going to issue the letters of credit that make imports possible? And what will they be covered with? Will Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and the US still accept euros when the defection of Greece and/or others makes the future of the Eurozone and the entire EU highly uncertain? No, they will probably want guarantees in US dollars.

As we speak, the euro is getting hammered, as is sterling, as is gold. Or are they? Or is it perhaps that the USD is rocking, in anticipation of near-future demand?

Got dollars?

In other words:

  • If you have money in a PIIGS country, get it out now. Most sensible money has probably already gone.
  • US dollar, etc. will see capital inflows unless it also imposes capital controls. Most of what's said for the UK follows for the US, and every other global currency. If you are in euros, you'll be stuck in euros.
  • How will trade to/from europe continue if the euro is quarantined off?
  • They are not sure the banks will be able to cope with the fallout, and may well just put a clampdown on withdraws to let the dust settle.
  • The upheaval foreseen as a possible scenario is practically a political scale event. The world will be reshaped by the actions taken on plans made now.
  • They expect it before March.

I live in one of the PIIGS (Ireland), I have a personal bet on a 20% chance of a partial breakup of the Euro over the Xmas/new year period. I still think it's possible that it could happen over the next couple of days.

One of the signs is a lack of newly printed Euros with Irish serial numbers, pure speculation of course, but the ATMs I have used recently issued German printed Euros instead.

Only two days to wait to see if I'm barking or not!

I wouldn't take that bet - there's still too much "hope" left in the Euro. Once the new treaty does the rounds and everyone start backing off from it, then there's little left to hang the eternal hope on, and down it all goes.

I'd give it all a few months before things starts to unravel. I'll also give 2 to 1 odds that there won't be 17 members of the Euro Zone by this time next year.

Just wondering how one makes a bet 'on a 20% chance of' something. What, exactly, is your bet?

7 of the Nastiest Scams, Rip-Offs and Tricks From Wall Street Crooks

... We have been hearing for years now about the scams, frauds, rackets, schemes, tricks and various other ways that people on Wall Street made gazillions while crashing the economy. The one thing we haven’t heard anything about is anyone at the top being held criminally accountable … for anything!

Given these recent developments, the end of a bad year seems like a good time to take a look back at just a few examples of what was, and in too many cases, still is going on. So here is a little holiday-season nudge to all the attorneys general who may be hesitant to take them on -- if not with jail time, then at least The banksters still have faced no accountability.

Air traffic alert after Alaska volcano spews ash cloud

remote volcano in Alaska's Aleutian islands erupted early on Thursday, spouting an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the sky and prompting an air-traffic alert, scientists said.

Ash from the 5,676-foot volcano is considered potentially dangerous to aircraft because Cleveland's peak lies directly below commercial flight routes between Asia and North America.