Drumbeat: December 31, 2011

Iran proposes new round of nuclear talks with six world powers as sanctions hit hard

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has proposed a new round of talks about its controversial nuclear program with the six world powers, the country’s top nuclear negotiator said Saturday.

Saeed Jalili said he has formally called on the six powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — to return to the negotiating table with Iran.

The invitation comes in the wake of new sanctions recently imposed by the West over Tehran’s uranium enrichment program, which is a potential pathway to making nuclear arms.

Crude Oil Pares Third Annual Increase as Manufacturing in China Contracts

Oil fell, paring a third annual increase, as Chinese manufacturing contracted for a second month in December, spurring concern that demand from the world’s second-largest crude-consuming country may slow.

Futures dropped 0.8 percent after the report by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics also showed China’s exports fell for the first time in three months as Europe’s debt crisis reduced orders. Oil advanced 8.2 percent in 2011 as a collapse in Libyan exports cut supply, U.S. stimulus measures revived the economy and Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz.

Energy Department predicted the 2011 boom in U.S. fuel exports

Even as U.S. refiners were shutting down facilities because of lowered U.S. demand, Shore and Hackworth explained, they had already found thriving and lucrative markets overseas for their products.

Their main points: "world growth in distillate fuels" demand had "provided some attractive export opportunities for U.S. refiners"; U.S. low-sulfur diesel products were more attractive to foreign buyers than higher-sulfur fuel coming out of Russia; and they were far closer to South and Central American markets than distant European competitors.

Iran refuses to fuel certain airlines

Iran is refusing to refuel some European and Arab airlines at its main international airport in a tit-for-tat move over major oil companies denying fuel to Iranian planes abroad, the airport's chief said Saturday.

Pemex oil output slips for 7th year

MEXICO CITY (MarketWatch) -- Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, was unable to turn around a long trend of falling crude-oil production this year, but it did manage to nearly stabilize oil output and exports over the course of 2011, according to the oil monopoly's data.

Pemex's crude-oil production averaged 2.549 million barrels a day during the first 11 months of the year and 2.562 million barrels a day in the first 25 days of December, putting the company on track for a 2011 average of 2.55 million barrels a day.

Putin’s Goal of Benchmark Urals Seen in Rotterdam Terminal Tanks

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been calling for Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, to narrow the price gap between its Urals export crude and the Brent benchmark since 2005. A $1 billion terminal in Rotterdam may help achieve that goal.

Ukraine gas transit system price to fall severely in 2012 - Miller

Ukraine's gas transit system that Kiev presently estimates to cost $20 billion may become significantly cheaper, the head of Russia's gas giant,Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said on Saturday.

Drilling goes ahead despite fears

The UK government has awarded 46 exploratory drilling licences to firms, including Shell and Centrica, looking for oil and gas.

The awards were initially held back due to environmental concerns. However, the government said it is now confident exploring in the regions, including the North Sea and west of Shetland, is safe.

GOP lays out top 3 resolutions for 2012

Within the regulatory and energy areas, Isakson reiterated Republicans' support for the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf coast.

"This project would give America a reliable source of oil from our largest trading partner, and it would create tens of thousands of jobs for the American people," he said. "The Keystone pipeline is exactly the type of energy project this country needs."

Saudi diesel grant covers two months: Yemen

SANAA - Yemen’s oil minister said on Saturday a grant of diesel from Saudi Arabia would be enough to cover the country’s needs for two months.

“Yemen’s diesel consumption is 260,000 tonnes monthly, worth $280 million,” oil minister Hisham Sharaf told Reuters.

Yemen protesters demand end to southern fighting

ADEN (Reuters) - Thousands of Yemenis began a 50 km (31 mile) march on Saturday to demand an end to a conflict which has forced nearly 100,000 people to flee southern Yemen, residents said, a day after seven militants were killed in fighting there with the army.

Up to 20,000 activists set out from the port city of Aden towards Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province where the army has been battling Islamist militants suspected of having links with al Qaeda, residents said.

'Terrible' and Plenty of It: The Oil That Comes in from the Cold

CARACAS - Thanks to soaring oil prices and new technology, oil producers in the hot sands of Arabia, the torrid Niger delta or the humid plains of the Orinoco are facing new competition from rivals in the frozen North.

Keeping a lid on jungle oil wells

AN ALLIANCE of European local authorities, governments, US film stars, Japanese shops, soft drink companies and Russian foundations have stepped in to prevent the extraction of 900 million barrels of crude oil from one of the world's most biologically rich tracts of land.

According to the United Nations, the ''crowdfunding'' initiative had by this weekend raised $116 million, enough to temporarily halt the exploitation of 1870 square kilometres of ''core'' Amazonian forest, Ecuador's Yasuni National Park.

Gulf drilling thrives year after BP spill

(CBS News) ALAMINOS CANYON BLOCK 857, Gulf of Mexico - Two hundred miles off the coast of Texas, ribbons of pipe are reaching for oil and natural gas deeper below the ocean's surface than ever before.

These pipes, which run nearly two miles deep, are connected to a floating Shell platform that is so remote they named it Perdido, which means "lost" in Spanish. What attracted Shell to this location is a geologic formation found throughout the Gulf of Mexico that may contain enough oil to satisfy U.S. demand for two years.

While Perdido is isolated, it isn't alone. Across the Gulf, energy companies are probing dozens of new deepwater fields thanks to high oil prices and technological advances that finally make it possible to tap them.

Florida tourism rebounds in 2011, overseas visits up

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A flood of new visitors from Brazil and a stunning post-oil-spill rebound by Panhandle beaches were bright spots in 2011 for a Florida tourism industry that has weathered some hard times the past couple of years.

Doomsday and Your Portfolio

Some partygoers may add nervous laughter to the midnight clink of champagne glasses and celebratory horn-tooting at tomorrow's New Year's Eve celebrations. The ancient Mayans predicted a doomsday scenario in 2012, and the intense disasters that marked the past year make it tempting to wonder if maybe those folks were onto something.

Earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and tsunamis all made headline news in 2011. Now more than ever, investors must realize that such risks, which are growing in frequency, could have serious impacts on their portfolios, and adjust their thinking -- and holdings -- accordingly.

Year of revolution and crisis

LONDON — Every year brings changes, but some years really are turning points: 1492, 1789, 1914, and 1989, for example. Does 2011 belong in the august company of such Really Important Years? Probably not, but it definitely qualifies for membership in the second tier of Quite Important Years.

Bin Laden’s death named year’s top story

NEW YORK — The killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a raid by Navy SEALs on his hideout in Pakistan was the top news story of 2011, followed by Japan’s earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster, according to the Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

Placing third were the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked North Africa and the Middle East.

Here are 2011’s top 10 stories, in order:

Steve LeVine's Weekly Wrap, End of Year Editon

For years, a leading mantra in energy has been Peak Oil, a theory that the world has either already reached, or will soon, the highest daily volume of oil production that it possibly can, and will imminently experience a long drop in output, along with an ugly war for the remaining supplies. In recent months, a competing theory has begun to take hold -- that the western hemisphere is actually on the brink of oil abundance; the U.S. specifically, it is said by some of our most prominent oil experts and writers, is on the way to independence from foreign oil.

Sharon Astyk: 2012 Predictions: The More Things Change...

In 2012, the "brass ring" will come around for the peak oil issue, and there will be an opportunity, driven by events, to bring it into the mainstream and begin to shape a conversation around material limits. The big question is - will those of us able to do so grab the ring or will it pass around again? I'm not making any predictions on what will happen - just that the opportunity will exist. My hope is we'll all be ready.

A Second Chance for Christmas Trees

The gifts have long since been opened, the turkey leftovers are gone, and the eggnog has been drunk. For those who purchased real Christmas firs or pines, the tree may be looking a bit droopy or thin. How to dispose of it?

Luckily, creative and eco-friendly recycling options abound around the country. With alternatives like turning Christmas kindle into kilowatts and creating fish farms from firs, locally tailored recycling can ensure that the tree keeps on giving after its retirement.

Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals

Even as more Americans buy foods labeled organic, the products are moving away from a traditional emphasis on local growing and limited environmental strain.

Quinn signs tweaked smart-grid law

(Crain's) — Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday signed a bill that makes modestly consumer-friendly changes to the “smart grid” law benefiting Commonwealth Edison Co. that he unsuccessfully opposed.

China lights up UAE solar future

Driven by the need to find new markets for its overproducing manufacturers, Chinese solar panel producers are looking to the Gulf's nascent renewable energy sector.

Green-eyed monster to stalk energy summit

"There's been a shift in the past years, between the German and the Chinese participation, and it does reflect the shift in the market, because Chinese competition makes the German and US industry struggle a lot, and [China is] taking more and more market share," said Mr Theux.

Gingrich kills chapter on climate change in upcoming book

DES MOINES -- Newt Gingrich says he has killed a chapter on climate change in a post-election book of essays about the environment. But the intended author of the chapter, who supports the scientific consensus that humans contribute to climate change, says that's news to her.

Re: Year of revolution and crisis, up top:

2011 was the year of crazy:


Not mentioned in Fiore’s piece was crazy weather: A crazy drought in Texas. Crazy floods up north and along the Missouri River which threatened a nuclear plant..
Plus crazy tornadoes all over the place.

And then there was the crazy earthquake in Japan. Followed by a crazy tsunami and a crazy nuclear disaster that drove Japan crazy.

Meanwhile U.S. energy policy got crazy as renewable fuel subsidies were allowed to expire even as oil subsidies remained in place. Corn prices went crazy in the summer and farm land prices went crazy in the fall.

The Administration, while ending one crazy war, was instrumental in another one that reduced world oil supply. Not satisfied, it embarked on yet another with crazy threats of sanctions against Iranian oil exports. It justified the crazy action by implying that Iran was crazy to want nuclear weapons even though it is surrounded by nuclear weapons.

The craziness infected the Iranians who threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz which would greatly reduce Iran’s own oil exports as well as the world oil supply. Totally crazy.

These and other crazy stories are recapped in this week’s Market to Market report:


Trend projections indicate record levels of crazy are likely in 2012.

Not to let the Administration take all of the credit for 'crazy', your Congress had it's worst best do-nothing year in decades:


NPR cited a report this morning that this has been the most lame Congress regarding meaningful bill passage since the 1880s. Perhaps their most important accomplishment was increasing the debt ceiling. They absolutely wouldn't want to send Obama anything meaningful to sign. I predict little change in 2012, so why don't we just give them the year off (without pay, of course; let'em see what it feels like to be laid off).


"I mean, I knew it was going to be bad this year, but I didn't realize like how bad it was," says Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

Grant developed an index to measure Congress' productivity. After looking at the numbers, he says this Congress is on pace to be the least productive since the '80s — not the 1980s, but the 1880s.

Your tax dollars at work, NOT. This is exactly why I believe we'll solve none of our critical problems (not that I believe many are solvable). Politics trumps reality.

If Leanan will permit me I'll repost this link from yesterday (for those who may have missed it): 50 doomiest graphs of 2011

And some icing on the 2011 cake: 50 doomiest stories of 2011

It's not like our governments have any really important business to attend to. Got your lifeboat yet?

edit: For balance I've search for the most optimistic stories of 2011, and variations on this theme. Not much to report, though I'm sure readers would appreciate any contributions along these lines. Happy New Year!

Jonathan Swift's thoughts on politicians et al. Quote from Gulliver's Travels: how right he was (is).

But when some confessed they owed their greatness and wealth to sodomy, or incest; others, to the prostituting of their own wives and daughters; others, to the betraying of their country or their prince; some, to poisoning; more to the perverting of justice, in order to destroy the innocent, I hope I may be pardoned, if these discoveries inclined me a little to abate of that profound veneration, which I am naturally apt to pay to persons of high rank, who ought to be treated with the utmost respect due to their sublime dignity, by us their inferiors. (3.8.7)

And a far brighter man was he than any man in today's congress yet from a less enlightened day and age ...

I was watching Mr. Cameron debating in the House of Lords the other day (some annual "Questions" session) on C-Span and realized that none of the US politicians I could call to mind were nearly as adept as he and presumably any other Prime Minister at debating. Trying to imagine G.W. Bush doing so was like trying to understand something queer LOL.

Are you referring to the PM questions in the House of Commons? They occur frequently and I like watching them on youtube.

It seems the Brits are better at improvising. In America, everything is scripted. Yet, you watch enough of them, and you realize the politics are pretty much the same, if a little more benign. The Tories represent ruthless business interests, and Labour is well meaning but corrupt and feckless.

It's interesting to me just how much sovereignty Britain has lost in the EU, despite Cameron's recent actions. Why Britain, a well guarded island nation, would let Europeans tell them what to do on well, anything, is beyond me.

I think that's what they are, yes, the PM questions. Basically, there's an obscure question asked of the PM, who then stands up along with those who're I guess directly interested in the question/answer, looks in his book thing, and answers the question with great confidence and sarcasm if warranted. The Questions session had a lot on something about joining the Euro - something I would think any sane Englishman would want to avoid.

I was mostly impressed by the alacrity of the answers - Bush, Perry, Blago wouldn't stand a chance at even a peripheral answer.

Nor would our current president, who is good at delivering a prepared speech but not too much else except doing what is exactly calculated to a nicety to please HIS OWNERS-who most unfortunately also own controlling interests in all his potential opponents, excepting the mavericks who have no real shot at getting a major party nomination, right or left.

Kind of goes right back to Robert Heinlein.. "A managed democracy is a great thing, for the managers"

I think that this could be included with the optimistic stories of the year. The only problem is they did pass legislation which should have been dumped. Le4ts hope for a lot less from Congress this year.

I happen to know a Republican insider who says he thinks it is likely to get much worse (if that is even possible). He foresees President Obama winning the 2012 election, but the Senate becoming majority Republican, and nothing getting done at all after that.

We won't be that lucky.

Here is a surefire way to cut $7.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Do nothing.

That’s right. If Congress simply fails to act between now and Jan. 1, 2013, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush expire, $1.2 trillion in additional budget cuts go through under the terms of last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, and a variety of other tax cuts also go away.


Worked wonders for the ethanol subsidy :-)

Best Hopes for More,


Trump has resigned from the Republican party - assumed he'll run as an independent. If Ron Paul doesn't get the nod and goes off on his own - there goes more "Republican" votes.

Then there is 22+ million raised by Alliance America (or is it American Alliance) that plans their own candidate.

The 3 way with Ross Perot may be the instructional past to show a path for a second term for President Obama.

RE: The 50 gloomiest graphs
I believe in global Warming but I doubt the gloomiest predictions because I don’t think they take depletion into account.

2011 saw a spike in climate disasters around the world, with a corresponding spike in global food prices. It’s no exaggeration to attribute the “Arab Spring” to widespread food insecurity caused by rapidly changing climate.

I just assumed the Arab Spring was a result of higher food prices due to LA NINA

Hunger and poverty stalked the once-affluent U.S. suburbs.

In the U.S.??? I doubt it…..

Texas's Worst 6-12 Month Droughts through July 2011

The 2011 Texas drought is brutal. Aren’t Texans the least likely to believe in Climate Change…???

I’m assuming 2012 will be more interesting than 2011…, but that’s just an educated guess….

"Hunger and poverty stalked the once-affluent U.S. suburbs.

In the U.S.??? I doubt it….."

Go visit your local food bank. You will become a believer.

Written by LesIsMore:
I believe in global Warming but I doubt the gloomiest predictions because I don’t think they take depletion into account.

As conventional crude oil declines there has been increased conversion of tar sands into synthetic crude oil which emits more fossil carbon per barrel. Ethanol, with its low ERoEI and depending on the study, emits about the same carbon as gasoline. Peak oil may cause humans to switch to lower grade fuels which emit more fossil carbon for equal amounts of fuel.

Oilsands' carbon emissions rising, CBC News, Dec. 16, 2011

Ethanol's contrasting carbon footprints , Daily Climate, Feb. 12, 2010

"Doomsday and your Portfolio" up top.

Actually, the Mayans did not predict a doomsday scenario for 2012. Dec 21st, 2012 is the end of the "Long Count" calendar.

Contemporary Mayan priests consider this a time of change, as the new Long Count cycle begins. They foresee events which will cause great change around the world, which could be beneficial, as they believe this will be a return to closeness with Mother Earth. These events could unfold over a long period of time.


Or alternatively they said anything that came into their heads when asked a daft question: safe in the knowledge they'd be long dead before any prediction would be tested.

Honestly, why are people giving the Mayans any credence at all? They don't exactly have a stellar foresight record...

They had a startlingly accurate calendar. And people are obviously suckers for end or the world stories.

I've read elsewhere that there are Mayan inscriptions and whatnot that detail things beyond the start of the new calendar - in other words - the Mayans themselves didn't think it portended any special event besides the requisite epochal party.

...And people are obviously suckers for end or the world stories.

Especially on TOD.


Well, this is the last day on my kitchen calendar so, obviously, the world will end tonight. Mind you, it was the same last year and the one before that an...


The high price of oil has blocked the West's economic escape route

This inventory dip reflects two important aspects of global oil production. Several of the world's leading oil fields are losing pressure – not least Ghawar in Saudi Arabia and Mexico's Cantarell. Two of the very biggest fields on earth, both are now producing at levels significantly below their medium-term production forecasts.

At the same time, oil-well exploration and development were hit badly by the credit crunch. Crude production is a seriously capital-intensive business with long "lead times". In recent years, a lack of available finance has hit the oil industry hard.

Ghawar and Cantarell are losing pressure? Both lost all pressure long ago. Ghawar uses water injection for pressure and Cantarell uses nitrogen injection for pressure. But it it is interesting that the author says both ae producing at levels significantly below their medium-term production forecasts. It has long been known that Cantarell is in steep decline but where did he get this information about Ghawar?

But it is interesting that the recession is affecting oil production, not just demand. That is a type of feedback I never thought about. Less capital available for oil exploration and drilling means less oil produced.

Ron P.

The way I understand it, this feedback is an integral part of "peak oil". That bell curve thing is not a geological phenomenon: without intervention by the human economy, the oil would simply stay in the ground. Combine greedy humans with a stash of fossil fuels, and you first get an exponential climb of the rate of "production".

Exponential, because the economic activity enabled by the energy thus obtained is funding the expansion of the extraction activity. When the rate of growth of something is proportional to how much of that something is already there, you get exponential growth, by mathematical definition.

But, once the finite limits kick in and the growth is first slowed and then halted, the feedback that feeds this growth is affected, determining the shape of the decline. In other words, it's always "below ground" and "above ground" in combination, and yes it is also "peak demand". It's all one system.

EROEI, it's been shaping the human race since the beginning of the industrial revolution and the rampant exploitation of fossil fuels. The forest seemed so vast it appeared to be infinite.

Now we can see there is a limit to the forest we use to erect stone heads, the big trees on flat ground are gone, they allowed the inhabitants to prosper and grow their numbers. The forest is for future generations but we need our stone heads now. The stone heads are debt, electric cars and trains, windmills and solar panels.

The stone heads placate the hordes, they maintain the business as usual facade. The Earth is an island, we should have considered that.

When the rate of growth of something is proportional to how much of that something is already there, you get exponential growth, by mathematical definition.

The operative word there being 'growth'. The lack thereof while govts borrow ever more to tread water and infrastructure degrades into obsolescence, is occuring on the plateau of oil production. Imagine the full on descent.

Ron – I know you and some others here understand how the oil patch functions. For the benefit of others: the primary source of capex for the oil patch is its own cash flow. True for both pubcos and privatecos. Always strike me funny when folks whine about ExxonMobil’s profits. Except for taxes and dividends (much of which goes to US pension funds) all those big profits made are spent developing more oil/NG production which, to a small degree, helps keep prices down. For a few years now oil prices have generated huge revenue for all companies…at least those with oil reserves.

Folks who wish for BIG Oil to make little or no profit should hope their wishes aren’t granted. No profit means no more drilling. Might make some happy but I doubt for long. Almost all of the BIG INDIES are pubcos. Same deal: no revenue…no drilling. A chat yesterday about Chesapeake borrowing big bucks and also selling assets to support their capex needs to fuel the unconventional resource plays. Given the low profitability of many of those trends the borrowing base isn’t nearly as large as it was in the good ole days. Like 2008 when some very big pubcos (CHK, Devon) could borrow heavily against all those big shale gas assets. Until NG fell from $13/mcf to less than $4/mcf. Granted it’s difficult to imagine oil taking such a drop. OTOH I suspect it wouldn’t take a very big drop to push many companies into capex trouble.

Privatecos have a somewhat different view. Those owners have a choice: spend revenue on more drilling or, if the profit isn’t there, just bank the money and wait. And then there are a very small number of companies like Rockman’s that use non-oil patch revenue to fund its drilling. Thank goodness Rockman’s owner enjoys drilling. He’s a very clever fellow and could probably make better returns in other areas. And if the feds screw with the tax laws he might just do that even though he likes having his “Coonass geologist” Rockman around. Business is business and he won’t hesitate to kick me and my cohorts to the curb if it comes to that.

Won’t make a bit of diff to the economy if Rockman et al disappear. But a combination of limited capital sources, Wall Street giving up its semi-ponzi support of oil patch pubcos and a slight weakening of oil prices could actually cause a recession in the US oil patch despite relatively good global FF prices. I couldn’t begin to quantify it but I suspect the US oil patch is much more vulnerable than many in the general public realize. I’ve seen a number of small and big busts in the oil patch first hand. But I think we’re entering a new dynamic that’s very different from the past and thus difficult to model.

My Top 10 Energy Stories of 2011

And a few predictions for 2012.

Happy New Year all. May things not be as bad as we worry they might be.

50 doomiest images of 2011

While collecting doom-laden images for 2011, Desdemona experienced a bit of déjà vu: another year of record flooding in the Philippines, and another year of record flooding in Pakistan. The Texas drought stretched on through all of 2011, causing record agricultural losses and depopulating the center of the state. Again, record-breaking wildfires swept through North America, and Russia’s forest fires exceeded even last year’s record-breaking 1 million hectares burned. Drought and food insecurity in the Horn of Africa expanded. Climate disaster in 2011 was a re-run of 2010, only worse.

NBC Nightly News: As Siberian permafrost melts, methane seeps out Video

Great piece until they got to the fix. Global warming problem solved. Just push down all the trees and let the grass grow. Then put a bunch of animals on the land to graze the grass. They tromp the snow into the ground causing the ground and air temperature to get colder.

Wow! Why didn't I think of that?

Ron P.

I figured the natural gas companies can put millions of highly reflective inflatable structures all over the tundra. Once they fill with methane they can be floated to the coast and offloaded to LNG carriers. Help cool the tundra and provide another thousand years of cheap, clean energy ;-)

Alright Ghung, let's run an ad for investors. We'll make a fortune, while claiming to be able to provide cheap abundant energy and stop global warming. We're doing it for philanthropic reasons!

Happy New Year to one and all!

Actually, an ecological change such as that MIGHT be effective.

It is a change, yes, but a natural change.

I am not dismissing it quite so quickly. Much better than most geo-engineering "fixes".

Best Hopes for Viable Solutions Mitigation Approaches,


I'm embarassed to say I say that news clip (doing research on the current propoganda, of course) and I dismissed it pretty quickly because I don't think we can scale it up enough.

It might work for a large ranch, but aren't we talking millions and millions of square miles? That's a lot of trees to push over, and a lot of animals.

I do agree it's a better idea than most geo-engingeering "fixes".

The initial park is 160 km2 and a buffer area for future expansion is 600 km2.


I was aware of the park from reading in other areas. I was not aware of the micro-climate impact (I suspect that the founders were not either).

The resources required per km2 are within the range of "doable" IMHO. A few billion $ and a notable spot on the world map could revert to semi-Pleistocene conditions.

Best Hopes for Some Useful Mitigation !


I am not dismissing it quite so quickly.

I am.

Much better than most geo-engineering "fixes".

Really, is that saying very much. One thing that wouldn't work is better than another thing that wouldn't work.

First off, most of the tundra doesn't have any trees to cut down because it is well north of tree line. But cutting down all the trees that are south the tree line is about the most stupid idea I have ever heard of. Strip the land bare and help cool the earth? Are you kidding me?

Then where are you going to get all those animals to ship in? And I rally don't think tramping the snow into the ground will cool the earth all that much. And there won't be enough animals to do enough tramping to make a difference anyway.

This is the stupidest idea to combat global warming that has ever came down the pike.

Ron P.

I would want multiple peer reviewed papers showing the multiple effects, and a fairly long history (but not TOO long given the crisis we are in), before expanding much beyond the proposed 760 km2.

The animals can breed and expand if the environment is favorable.

Best Hopes for Innovative Scientific Inquiry,


Yes I would want a few peer review papers before cutting down every tree in Northern Siberia and the Northern parts of Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia. And all of that just so the animals could trample some snow into the ground in the belief that this would cool the earth enough to reverse global warming.

At first I just thought this scheme was just silly. Now I think it is hilariously funny. Cutting down all those trees, imagine that.

Ron P.

My perspective is not "animals trampling snow into the ground" but the micro-climates of boreal forests vs. boreal grasslands. Animals grazing are required to maintain the grasslands.

As a general rule-of-thumb, more than half the bio-mass in boreal forests is in the soil.

Would thick grass capture as much carbon as small boreal trees ?

The answer is not obvious.

It is obvious that methane releases from Siberia could be massive and disastrous.


Generally there is more carbon in the soil than above ground. In the arctic and subarctic this is much more extreme; the organic stuff that falls onto the ground gets incorporated into the permafrost, which builds up a thick layer of frozen dead vegetation over thousands of years. That is the carbon store we worry about losing, it is similar in magnitude to all the coal on the planet. And if it thaws, how fast will it oxidize? Non arctic peat bogs work similarly, as long as they stay wet, the organic matter builds up. Peat bogs usually reach an equilibrium, as the height can't buildup forever without leading to drainage.

P.S. estimates of CO2 emissions from former permafrost should it defrost are 15-50% of current human emissions. So the thawing is a big deal, but probably not an instant transition to a different planet.

P.S. estimates of CO2 emissions from former permafrost should it defrost are 15-50% of current human emissions.

Is that 15-50% of current human emissions to date, or of current annual emissions? Or? Big difference...

It was an estimates of rate


two things in the video struck me as odd: He was talking of the GROUND to be kept cold, but in the video he was on ICE covering water (and not soil) with his spear and opened pockets of methane there.

Two questions come to mind:
First: How does he propose to keep the methane from bubbling up from the water (probably bogs in the area - how deep is the water, how far out from solid ground, etc)
Second: Those little pockets are dwarfed in comparison to the reported releases in the open seas around Siberia and probably elsewhere (as discussed just a few days ago - sqkm of releases!)

Any suggestions about those ones from him?



I can't say for sure, but my guess is that established grasslands growing vigorously sixty to ninety very long mostly sunny days would produce several times more fixed carbon that scrubby perennial woody plants.A dense grass cover is to my certain knowledge a far better insulator than a water logged layer of forest floor duff only poorly shaded by shrubs , and would therefore most likely do a better job of inhibiting permafrost thawing during the short summer.I can say this for sure due to experience with buried water lines freezing-they freeze a lot quicker in the woods, at the same depth, than they do in hayfields, everything else equal.

Now as to how the how the grazing and trampling and so forth might work out, I haven't a clue, but it is fairly obvious that the only sane way to maintain such a forced grassland environment on a huge scale would be by grazing it.

If such a scheme were to work, it could be that most of the expense could be recovered from the sale of meat and maybe high dollar hunting permits.I have no idea how much a permit for a yak would go for, but grizzlies could probably survive in such an environment, if not polar bears could.

A polar bear permit would probably fetch ten grand at least, maybe double or triple that.Supposing Siberian tigers could survive and were introduced- lots of wealthy playboys would pay a hundred grand for a permit so as to be able to impress their girl friends with the rug.

I am fairly sure that such an semi wild ecosystem could be maintained only by means of managing the populations of the grazing animals within fairly narrow ranges, which would mean harvesting some, bringing some in, and so forth.Young domestic cattle of a breed suited to cold weather could be hauled up by train and simply turned loose to fatten up over the three or four months of good growth of the grass (if not enough wild animals are present) and butchered in the autumn if necessary.

If this sort of thing comes to pass, it will be because there is money to be made doing it-which is unlikely but maybe not impossible depending on the rate and extent of warming..The public will never fund such an undertaking.

Permafrost can be deep, hundreds or even a thousand meters.


Permafrost tends to be real boggy because water can't pass through it, rain and snow melt has to flow off the surface. That surface water may freeze, and a continuous layer of surface ice may divert off gassing methane to specific spots where it can be collected and burned, but the bulk of the methane is trapped in the still frozen permafrost (or is present as organic matter that bacteria will convert to methane when the permafrost thaws).

There is still permafrost under the ocean, left over from when sea level was a lot lower. Permafrost can't form below sea level because the surface in contact with the ocean can't get below the freezing point of sea water. All of the permafrost in land below sea level is unstable and will eventually melt (and release what ever methane hydrate and CO2 is trapped there).

I think the more important aspect of retaining permafrost is low insulation of the surface during the winter so heat can be radiated into space. The temperature gradient in the frozen ground is the only thing that keeps the permafrost at the bottom frozen. Geothermal heat has to be conducted up through the permafrost to keep it frozen. The active zone has to refreeze and get to that low temperature before that can happen.

Permafrost can be deep, hundreds or even a thousand meters.

Under the oilfields of the N Slope of Alaska permafrost thickness varies, but is typically on the order of 365 meters (1200 ft) thick. It extends in a thinning wedge offshore.

According to NOAA: "Average temperature during the year is the most important factor for permafrost existence. Permafrost temperatures at 1 m below ground in central Alaska have been warming since the 1960s and were reaching near to the melting point in the mid-1990s. There has been a retreat to colder temperatures (less than -1°C) in the last few years." See also a generalized map of permafrost distrubution. As the map shows, there are sporadic areas of permafrost even in southern Alaska. A contractor who does excavation work once told me that he rarely but occaisionally finds permafrost in the Anchorage area.

As an aside, permafrost makes life interesting for oil exploration geophysicists working in the north. Permafrost is higher velocity than normal near surface materials. Having high velocities at the surface, underlain by lower velocity rocks, then gradually increasing velocity with depth tends to cause difficulties with seismic imaging. Particularly troublesome are the occasional "thaw bulbs", often under lakes or rivers, where permafrost is thin or absent. The gradually thinning wedge of permafrost offshore also causes problems tying onshore seismic to offshore data. Great strides have been made in recent decades solving these problems, and modern data is vastly better than in the past. However, permafrost can still can be troublesome for seismic interpretation in the arctic.

I'm not so sure about undersea permafrost being necessarily unstable. The sea water could be below 0C, and if the permafrost layers contain little salt, they could stay forzen at a temperature at which the sea water is liquid.

We are agreed about the insulation thing, lets consider permafrost as a sort of thermal reservoir. An arctic climate might be simplistically modeled as having two seasons. Winter is -30C, but surface insulation of snow means not much heat is lost to the environment. During summer its perhaps +5C, but the insulation has melted away, so the lessor heat of summer is more easily conducted downwards. What matters to the future of the permafrost is the balance, does it gain more heat during summer, than it loses during winter? Decreasing the winter insulation by for example compressing the snow cover, would significantly change that balance.

If a particular path of land has a lot of buried carbon, which is only stable because it is frozen in ice, then preserving that ice is essential to keeping the CO2 (and possibly methane) out of the atmosphere. Not all frozen grounds are like this, but those that have accumulated frozen peat are.

I can't say for sure, but my guess is that established grasslands growing vigorously sixty to ninety very long mostly sunny days would produce several times more fixed carbon that scrubby perennial woody plants

But there needs to be some way to "fix" that Carbon as grass breaks down faster than wood.

Biochar might be a way to fix the Carbon for a longer term than either wood or grass.

I propose that cattle eat the grass, which will not result of course in the carbon being locked away long term.

But the carbon in the grass would be coming from the atmosphere, mostly, rather than the underlying permafrost.Grass doesn't absorb a lot of organics from the soil, hardly any at all.Of course the associated micro biota do -so what the net result might be?????????

But if the grass is grazed off very short late in the season, the ground would radiate heat away during the long Arctic nights very well.A dense growth of grass insulates the ground underneath it rather well, perhaps inhibiting heat gain in the summer more effectively than would shrubby trees.

Snow can fall on thick grass and lay there for many days without the ground underneath being frozen, whereas it melts in open woodlands adjacent, this probably due to dead leaves wet leaves being a better conductor of heat from the underlying soil.

How all these things would play out is anybody's guess.

I'm going to should shut up now because I am entirely out of my depth here, having no experience , not even textbook experience, in such a system of agriculture.

You will never see all the trees in Scandinavia beeing cut down. Our economy depends on export of steel and timber based products. Even if it worked, it wont happen. We wont let it.

I haven't been thre, but I bet most of Scandivaia is too warm to support permafrost. The only areas that might qualify would be either far north or high elevation. [I'm not proposing we go ahead with his plan, just noting, that as I see the the idea is the preservation of permafrost, to maintain the existing carbon stored within in]

Sweden has a low percentage of the worlds permafrost. (Very low). Few if any trees grow there. Very popular area for hikers. The productiveforest is below that area. And the permafrost we have is melting, as everywhere else.

Forest covered permafrost does cover a lot of ground. Ever been to Fairbanks? Beautiful forested country, with an average annual temp of something like 27F, and most ground is permaneently frozen -except for the top two or three feet. So a lot of permafrost is overlaid by trees. generally a few hundred miles north you get stuff like dwarf willows. The trees at high lattitude (was it 55degrees north or whatever) do warm the earth, the effect of lower albedo (dark forest versus snow covered lighter ground, more than makes up for the CO2 contained within them). So deforesting these areas would actually decrease global temps. {This isn't recommended, but it is what current climate science says.} One of the positive feedbacks enhancing AGW, is the fact that these arctic "forests" are growing taller -especially in areas with only short dwarf trees (like 2-3feet tall), these are no longer completely covered by snow (because they have grown taller), which means more solar heating. So its really just another medium-slow feedback loop, warmer temps lead to more arctic and subarctic trees, leads to more warming...

Ground covered by deep snow is well insulated, so much less winter cold is conducted into the ground. Compacting the snow, would aide in cooling the ground (the extra heat removed ends up in the atmosphere), so compacting snow doesn't cool the atmosphere it probably warms it a bit, but the local effect would be to dep freeze the ground.

So the real issue with this plan, is feasability, and environmental damage. Thats where it becomes ludicrous (if preservation of large areas of permafrost is the goal, rather than just some small local area).

I think you and all others that think land with no trees means more snow on the ground are wrong. I have been to Canada in the winter and I doubt that grass covered earth would have more snow overall. Areas without trees tend to have wind blow snow to low lying places. So some places might have earth exposed to sun while others have deeper snow.

And another factor in this plan that makes it unworkable. If more snow would cover grass lands what are these grazing animals going to eat during the 8 months of "winter"?

From one who grew up in Minnesota and has spent wintertime in North Dakota and and Canada this plan looks like one produced by abusers of medical marijuana.

Its not the snow depth, its the reflectivity of the ground plus vegetation. You could have ten feet of snow on the ground, and twenty foot pine trees, and the overall reflectivity is low. A centimeter of snow on bare ground is more reflective. Plus given a large tract of land, where does the snow blow to?

The two issues of global import, are the fate of the carbon currently locked up in permafrost, and the albedo of the arctic regions. More vegetation means less albedo, because whatever snow there is is mostly underneath the vegetation.

No one has done any scientific study to support this, correct? This is only a hypothesis of what might happen if arctic forests are replaced with grasslands.

During 3 months of the year arctic/subarctic receives very little solar radiation, so your contrast of vegetation type has little or no bearing for coldest months. During times when solar influx is greater like fall and spring, the shrubs and trees tend to shade the snow covered ground and keep snow from melting, thus keeping ground colder. Open areas like grass fields tend to have snow blown away to low places or simply melted away, while tree and scrub covered areas tend to keep snow longer.

Have you ever been to Alberta in the winter time? I have been there and the above is what I observed.

Any Canadians want to weigh in on this? Rockymountainguy?

re snow cover and the north:

I thought it (this concept) was too absolutely stupid to weigh in on. Plus, not all northern areas have much at all in the way of 'carbon under ground'. Try rock under scrub bush. What people fail to realize is that this climate is the kind where you go out unprotected and without a support system, you die. Even in the summer, you go out and you can go crazy eaten by black flies and mosquitos. There are solutions, but man doesn't make them. Grazing animals, are these people as stupid as they seem? Things might warm up a tad, but there still won't be any light. You know that old thing about the tilt of the earth and all that? It won't grow vast grasslands, fossil records of palm trees, notwithstanding.

The so-called northern residents now live in a system supported by mid-east oil and southern food, the same as everyone else. Sure, a few might have wood heat, but food is grown south and shipped in by air or winter road...everywhere. Animals are hunted using ICE powered snow machines or boats. Some coastal communities have summer barge services. The light plants thunder on, endlessly, and a few locals are well paid to occasionally check the oil in the diesels. Usually, a high paid tech lives on-site to do do routine maint.

If there is any talk of overshoot, it is in the northern native/white communities. There is a great cry now going on about Canada's disregard of housing in northern native villages, but the bottom line is that we are at a crux of overshoot needing support from general society. Too many kids being born, and no work. No work. No work. Can't say that enough. No work, and nothing to do. Lets make babies. Guess what?, we now need a new house. I don't work, so the Govt must provide one, and if it doesn't pretty soon I'll call the CBC and get a news spot for pressure.

I can remember flying into villages with loads of food and people, and seeing kids trying to throw rocks at the plane on short final....bored, nothing else to do. My buddy caught kids up on the wings dipping their socks into the fuel tanks in order to sniff gas....bored, nothing to do. This was while ago. Nowadays, everyone has sat. tv the same as everyone else. Oh yeah, if there are roads the young adolescents will drive endlessly around and around, visiting and joking....maybe two blocks. 10...20 dollar gas?

WTSHTF, and it may be slo-mo, the northern towns will have to be evacuated as they are too expensive to support. Unless, there are key money making resources to be had, or a sovereignty choke point village location....on a sea lane. The northern population will have to decline and so will the human presence. Too expensive to maintain communities that can't carry themselves, just like everywhere else throughout history.


Nicely put.

You have captured things very well: the situation is an awful mess, getting worse, and very few people seem to have effective ideas on how to turn things around.

Meanwhile, the vulnerability of small northern communities to an oil supply shock is extreme: during a serious supply pinch, they would probably be the "last ones served" because the proportion of fuel required to deliver fuel (vs population size) would be unsupportable.
The younger generations are in many cases quite divorced from traditional skills which might otherwise see them through during an emergency (so are many southern city kids, as mentioned below).
Their food & fuel are already extremely expensive: eventually we are bound to have a major oil price spike, and it's hard to imagine how difficult things could then become up north, especially if it should occur in winter.

Climate scientists do run what ifs, change the vegetation type here, run the models, see what changes.

Most likely the season with the biggest sensitivity to vegetation cover is late spring/early summer, when there is both sun, and some snow left. Put that snow under trees, and little sunlight can be reflected back to space. Plus at least in alpine environments, snow under trees tends to get covered with pine needles, so it doesn't contribute much to albedo.

Also thermal conduction is a pretty well understoof phenomena. Compress the snow cover during the coldest parts of winter would cool the ground, and you could use this locally to preserve permafrost is a slightly warmed climate. I suppose if you made heroic efforts, like insulating the ground during summer, and uncovering it during winter you could freeze ground much further south (but storing carbon into permafrost is a slow process, the existing stores have been building for many thousands of years.

At my lower latitude trampled snow melts faster than undisturbed snow. The vertical side of a footprint reflects sunlight onto the horizontal portion increasing the power for melting.

No offense, but it would harsh my buzz extremely if someone were to cut down yet more of the northern forests. My family lives in the Seattle area, and I really like the impressive temperate rainforests of that area. There is still old growth on the Olympic peninsula.

I think the thing these people are getting high off of is a belief in human omnipotence, or the myths of science and technology as solving all issues.

This is the stupidest idea to combat global warming that has ever came down the pike.

Is this a challenge to list stupider ideas to "combat global warming"?

I'm fond of the stupidity that somehow spending money with the Goldman Sachs would "solve" the issue.

But now lets have others list dumber ideas.

If we were to be really serious about cooling the planet with grand ideas, then surely knocking over all the tropical rainforests would be a better concept. We could then spray-paint the desolation with white paint to reflect a far greater amount of heat than doing anything in the tundra.

Perhaps we could start giant oil slicks in equatorial waters, with an added white dye that was oil soluble, to really kick this current warming.

Where is that sarc button when you need it.

It would probably work (by which I mean keep the permafrost frozen). The problem is that it requires a massive intervention in a part of the world (northern Russia/Alaska/Canada) [sorry Norway your portion is too small to matter] that has very few people and even less infrastructure. These places are largely mosquito infested bogs during the summer, the only real season where work can be done is winter. We are talking a couple of million square miles here. Thats a lot of tree cutting. The cost of such an enterprise would be comparable to the cost of avoiding the emissions that are pushing the destabilization in the first place. I don't doubt you could use such methods to stabilize a testplot. But millions of square miles!

The cost of such an enterprise would be comparable to the cost of avoiding the emissions that are pushing the destabilization in the first place.

Notice how "solutions" and "mitigations" are about self indulgent efforts at maintaining BAU. Nothing is offered for leaving fossil fuels in the ground, it's just build our way out of it. We got here by engineering and building, is it rational to assume we can engineer and build a way out.....as I said just more stone heads.

Well there is the issue that if we ran into some strong feedback, which would cause climate runaway, even if we stopped emissions. Then we would be desperate enough to turn to geo-engineering to reverse the runaway. Geoengineering before emissions elimination really is nuts, it would just provide an excuse for BAU. But, someday when we finally quite digging the hole deeper, we may have to entertain such things.

I don't think arctic forest removal would be enough to stop AGW. But as outlined here, it might be a way to contain the feedback loop whereby melting permafrost releases CO2 and methane....

IMO geoengineering should have started twenty years ago, the time for pollution and population mitigation with a semblance of BAU passed sixty years ago. Now we must completely cease using fossil fuels AND geoengineer. Not going to happen of course.

I just detest those with vested interests who have had the floor for years telling the story of how we can fix it all if we "just buy a Prius". We've had years of efficiencies, building dams, windmills, solar panels and electric cars and still CO2 emissions along with people, continue on an upward trajectory.

And then we accelerate the decomposition of all those trees, creating more CO2....

When will the madness stop?

This plan is total, utter insanity, as are all the geo-"engineering" (gag me) scams. The hubris of even thinking about it is mind-boggling. The simplicity of the analysis is absurd. This is engineering, not ecological, thinking.

We would rather continue BAU and then come up with heroic, futile "engineering" "solutions" than simply alter our behavior.

Happy New Year, TODsters!


Solutions. Sure, but we are ignoring them--- BAU.

Solar is the solution. It’s abundant, accessible, distributable and forever.
(The above statement is an opinion stated as a fact. And a fact. )

Now, given that we have a solution, how do we pay for it?

We take all the money, effort, brains, brawn, energy and all that we RIGHT NOW use for nonsense or worse, and put those assets (costs) to the job of doing the switch to solar.

So many examples- All big fat pickups covered with chrome and cat fur. Most car and airline trips, most heating systems, almost all weapons, business frauds, and ---------. They are hugely expensive of energy, materials, effort- everything. They exist, they are useless, and you and I know it, so does anybody with eyes and anything between their ears.

And I include here all the Mega$ now going into and being planned to go into drilling holes in the ice to find more and more of the lube that keeps slick the slippery slope to hell.

Yep, Happy New Year.

to find more and more of the lube that keeps slick the slippery slope to hell.

Now, that's the most apt description of oil drilling I've heard yet!

"Solar is the solution. It’s abundant, accessible, distributable and forever."

Wimbi, that is so simple, it's downright audacious! And I agree with it completely. (Tho' I'm going to keep an eye on spreading the investment into geothermal, wind and wave/tide etc.. )

Of course, this would be for getting the energy we NEED, not the energy we THINK we need..

"There is no greatness without Audacity." Oscar Wilde

..of course, I suppose I need to put a further disclaimer on this, which is to say that I don't have any inclination to expect a monolithic answer to our energy problem, and it still must be approached on numerous fronts.. but that said, the number of ways we could be using solar energy today to offset the energy for space heating, water heating, cooking, cleaning, drying, etc.. a great many electrical uses, including transportation (where individual transport would shift to much lighter and smaller vehicles, quite easily charged by a modest amount of household solar.. and the vast number of rooftops that could be put to a second and third purpose by using such tools.. to me it's completely obvious that we must be pursuing this goal.

By the way, I went down to Becky's Diner for my New Years day Breakfast, down on Commercial Street in Portland, a fairly normal working-class place, and they now have Some Eight H20 Panels on Their rooftop, which just went in last week.. and I sat down at a booth and the Cover Article in the Forecaster was about Becky's Solar Installation. It's inescapable! We've also got a laundromat a couple streets away from me that uses Evacuated Tube Collectors to help with their heating loads..


Right, and thanks for the comment and encouraging note. I too am a little jacked a bit up out of my doom by my own such observations of local initiatives every now and then.

On solar, I keep thrumming this threnody but usually get a great distant nothing for a response. In the virtual light of all that nothingness, I shall try to be helpful by myself contributing a couple of the responses I know must be lurking in the murk:

" Ah, come on, wimbi, you and we all know it ain't gonna happen. Who would give up their rumblewagen for a wimpy EV?-- By the way, is that what your monicker means, whimpy? Huh?"

"Now look here, dammit. we all know what you say is true and we oughta go for solar in the biggest way, but it's lots more fun yakking endlessly about just when tshtf and how much gets slung where. More fun and a lot less work to boot."

" You have said exactly that exactly 23.5 times already, You are now exactly over your allotted account, so shuddup."

Ok, so be it. Now back to the real fun with the biomass stirling engine. The biomass is just fine. the stirling has sprung an idiopathosis and is in the ICU with a grim prognosis on its big toe. Ah, well, I have thought up a better idea anyhow.

Keep working on that stirling, W, but don't stop talking up solar, it's a totally reasonable and vital course of action for us to have on our TO DO lists, but there are MANY voices endlessly harping about how it's a waste of time and money, and these ones don't care if they're over their quota, they'll keep whinnying with their 'Why Bother?' routine as long as there is air in their lungs.

Consider the possibility that when you get no response to one of these, it's largely because half of us are already with you (nodding silently), and the others haven't got ANYTHING to counter your practical experience with.

Even if it's billions of years old, it's a fresh, new Sun that greets us every morning, and we're glad to have it shine on us. I think that's why 'Renewable' is the right word, even if Physics purists like to bicker about definitions.

Your posts don't feel at all old or redundant to me.. keep it up!

they'll keep whinnying with their 'Why Bother?' routine as long as there is air in their lungs.

And, I have to wonder, for some of them at least, the checks from the Koch brothers keep coming.

Hang in there Wimbi,

There is some hope, and it is foolish to simply give up.

Ten more years of bau will make renewables cheaper than fossil fuels.

Then if we can keep old man bau hobbling along for another ten years we can enjoy a renewables boom equal to the real estate boom that got us into so much financial hot water.

We built a double insulated sunroom onto our house, properly shaded, with the right overhangs, and we need hardly any auxiliary heat at all now on sunny winter days.

I built a solar domestic hot water heater this past summer, which supplies nearly all of our hot water needs, and which by next winter will be plumbed to the wood stove so that it supplies 100 percent during the winter when we need a fire just about every night and every cloudy day.

When I am able to get out to the shop again(tied up with an invalid 24/7 right now) I intend to build a solar cooker that will burn a roast black in five minutes, and get going again om my wood gasifier truck..

OFM and all you other good cheerleaders. I am a serious case of skitzo- on the one side, the cold rational one, I see we are totally doomed and that's it for homosap- so go take a nap. On the other side, I wake up excited about my latest brainchild and rush out to the shop to try it out. OK, so it doesn't work. No problem, I'll have another great idea after I go take a nap.

My own personal solar nexus works just fine. Allthosethings you say, plus the wood stove water heater tends to overheat the water so I put some fins on the pipe from the stove going up the stairs and over and down to the bathroom. Shazamm! The stairway is warm, which I never bothered to do before. Somewhat unintended consequence on the plus side for once.

News Flash- After a heroic effort by the ICU staff, lasting many seconds, we discovered that morbidly languid stirling merely had a pinhole leak in an O ring. Trivial surgery brought it roaring back to life, Or I should say, humming back. I am now mighty near ready to strike a match to the solution to domestic energy for once and for all--after I go take a nap.

PS On burning the roast. One of the best demo's in my saturday science seminar was the weeny roast. I had a big TV antenna covered with aluminized mylar, and would carefully place the sacrificial sausage at the focal point, swing the thing to the sun and POW, shards of exploded, redolent weeny all over the delighted kids. They never forgot it.

Where do you buy aluminized mylar?

You can often find metalized Mylar at an art supplies stores. Use an ohmmeter or continuity tester to make sure you have the metalized side facing the sun. You can scrape the metalization off with a knife and demonstrate its presence that way, as well. There is a dramatic difference between having the metal side reflecting directly and having the plastic side intervening before that reflection.

But would the plastic side have a long term benefit due to protection from corrosion?


The difference is so striking that protection has no meaning. I cut the Mylar into a spiral by attaching an Exacto-knife to a string and winding the string around something about 1" in diameter. As you unwind while cutting, the knife will make spiral sheet about 3" wide. This was held down into an 3' X-band radar dish using Scotch-77 Spraymount. It would put a black glass rimmed hole through a red clay flower pot in about a minute in the desert sun. Holes in Coke cans would ignite with an audible "pop" when the can was held in the focus. Lots of fun! USE A #10 WELDING FILTER, or two of them stacked, to view the action.

I bought my mylar on line for very little. Forgot the address. Just punch in the name and you get it. Something close to 98% reflectivity.
The spiral idea is great, much better than my tedious pie slice method.
eye filters are a must, should have mentioned that.
These things will give VERY HIGH temps. One use is cooking wood to wood gas. Stick the wood in a closed cylinder with a tube coming out one end, sun blast the cylinder, and you get your wood gas out the tube right now, leaving behind a hunk of carbon. No oxygen needed.

Of course you could make it continuous instead of batch process.

Endless opportunity, cheap!, Fun!, makes you feel good!

Interesting, thanks.


Yair...Bit of a kerfuffle over here in Australia...a couple of solar systems have caught on fire. There are reports of folks smelling "burning plastic" type smells and then smoke and flames from panels.

I have seen some photos and it looks quite disturbing...fortunately the systems were on steel roofs so the houses didn't burn.

I have a 3.2 Kw grid tie system and believe if this gets pushed by the media the implications are considerable...particularly insurance.

Is anyone aware of similar problems?


I haven't heard of that happening, but with DC at high Amps, plus High Roof Temps, I'm sure it's quite possible.

Did the reports say it was caused by heat or by electrical faults? I see a lot of PV getting mounted flush to Rooftops, and wonder about the spacing left to vent them from beneath.. there have been attempts to watercool them from behind as well, and use that as a preheating stage in the Domestic Hot Water.. but don't know how well that's gone..

There were a few hits on a search, however. It won't do Solar's reputation much good, as it gets held to that 'Supposed Angelic' standard by those who won't be satisfied.. alas..

Solar equipment burns atop tire warehouse

.. another was referring to the West Oz fires, and this one might be classed as a 'fire hazard'??? ( but I thought it was interesting enough to include..

http://ledyard.patch.com/articles/top-stories-of-2011-fa769fa3 , in Ledyard, CT

Solar Panels

Solar Panels were already in the news thanks to former Mayor Allyn’s efforts to have them installed on municipal buildings across the town. For more than three yeas Shewville Road farmer Bob Burns has been powering much of his farm with electricity from two solar panels on his property. But when the town threatened to issue a zoning citation because one of the panels was 10 feet too close to the road, the sparks really started to fly.

Yair...jokuhl. Thanks for insightful comments. I have some photo's but not a lot of detail.I'm not much into computers and lack the patience and time to figure out how to post pictures.

You are spot on with your general observations. It was 5 Kw system of 190 watt Astroenergy panels mounted (I think) in three rows of nine panels. The centre row burned out. There were reports of plastic burning and some sounds of arcing.

The array was mounted to a corrugated flat steel roof and as far as I can see the only air gap would have been provided by the possibly two inch mounting channels.

I dont know where the dwelling was located but the surrounding countryside indicates that forty to forty five degrees could be possible at times.


I would be more interested in the quality of the electrical work. Such an array would put out maybe 20amps. Poor electrical work could result in arcing. Hopefully the panels aren't defective. It seems certain the enemies of solar will seize on this incident.

According to a couple articles from Oz, one BEFORE these fires, while the Headline described faulty panels themselves, the article outlined a pattern of installation errors that were going unchecked, with so few (3!) inspectors for the nation, and with electricians new to DC and Renewables work, picking up too quickly on the boom.


There have been some installations of panels that use plastic instead of glass. Some of these have caught fire. It could also be that they were installed by an electrician who did not have the knowledge to handle high power DC and exterior wiring.


Heh, heh, I'd better pop outside and see how my rice is cooking in the sun.


I still support the reclamation of deserts in Iceland as either grasslands or forests.

The Vikings released about 6 billion tonnes of carbon by cutting down the forests of Iceland, making much of that island a desert. And most of the exposed rock & sand is grey - low albedo.

Hubris ?

Perhaps, but still worth doing.

Best Hopes,


Alan, my friend,

That is surely not hubris - it is restoration, and is worth pursuing on its own terms.

Sgage, my friend.

Perhaps the clearest example of the dichotomy between my perspective and that of most people was a photo taken of Hiroshima a month after the Atomic bomb as the American occupation started.

Japan was facing complete social and economic collapse. Famine was imminent.

The center of Hiroshima had been reduced to 2 feet of rubble. 120,000 citizens had died from the blast and aftermath and another 20,000 were going to die in the coming months.

Rarely has there been a moment and place in the history of humanity quite as bad.

The photo was of an operating streetcar amidst the rubble. Lives of total despair and suffering would have been just a bit worse without that bit of transportation.

Inconsequential in the greater scheme of things - yet it was one piece of infrastructure that worked.

It later served a vital function in the long recovery.

I see a terrible time in front of us. Many can, with great validity, focus on what is coming - and despair at the great mass of people indifferent to their fate.

I have made a decision to focus on what can be done "To make a VERY bad situation just a little bit better".

A small mitigation within a disaster of epic - nay overwhelming - proportions.

I will, at best, make a bit of difference. And I find that worth struggling for.

Think of a streetcar operating amidst the rubble of Hiroshima. It made a bit of a difference - no more than that.

Best Hopes for Those That Try,


At one time what is now desert in many places used to be "lush".

Perhaps they all can be "reclaimed"?

Yes, the boreal forest can be reclaimed by cutting down all the trees. Errr... wait...

Ron P.

The option is to restore the Pleistocene Prairie eco-system - as much as extinctions make possible.

Restore a sample and compare - with a changing climate - that ecosystem with the modern boreal forest.

As noted, I learned @ Pleistocene Park while reading in other areas. My interest was in boreal environments, an interest of mine,

I am the only non-Icelandic member of their "Tree Growing Club".

For those with an interest, I would recommend "Forestry in a Treeless Land" by my friend


Best Hopes,


I wondered, have the Icelanders tried Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)? They are cultivated for Christmas Trees around here and provide considerable income to the local tree farmers. At this latitude, they are found naturally at higher elevations, above 4,500 feet. They have also been grown in Scotland, according to Wikipedia, thus they might do well in Iceland also. I think seeds are collected from local native stands to start seedlings for the local industry as the Christmas trees aren't allowed to grow long enough to produce seeds...

E. Swanson

I doubt that they could grow Fraser Fir in Iceland - it's a southern species. They might have more success with Balsam Fir, a closely related species that has more cold tolerance and grows well in Canada. However, I think even it would be marginal.

As far as I know, the only fir that they have had a lot of success with in Iceland is the Rocky Mountain Subalpine Fir. However, it's not popular as a commercial timber species.

Forestry in a treeless land

The major species used in forestry are, in addition to the native Betula pubescens, Larix sukaczewii, Picea sitchensis, Pinus contorta and Populus trichocarpa. They have all reached at least 20 m in height and show mean annual increments ranging from 5 to 15 m3/ha/yr. ...

However, 100 years of forestry have not resulted in much extension of forest area. The native birch woodlands have expanded through natural regeneration within fenced areas but there has been little or no expansion in areas not specifically protected from grazing. Thus, natural expansion of birchwoods has been very limited and will continue to be so as long as the tradition of uncontrolled sheep grazing continues.

  • Betula pubescens - European white birch
  • Larix sukaczewii - Russian larch
  • Picea sitchensis - Sitka spruce
  • Pinus contorta - Lodgepole pine
  • Populus trichocarpa - Black cottonwood

The provence of a particular tree species is often quite important.

The ran out of seed for a willow (forgot which one) that they wanted from one side of Kodiak island (used for land reclamation). Experience has shown that willows from that side are better than the other side of the island - and any willow (of that species) from Kodiak is better than mainland Alaska.

When I sourced sugar pine seeds it was from 10,000' and above from the San Bernardino Mts. Based on experience, that would likely be the best source.

After multiple trials with Douglas Fir, they found an area in central British Columbia that was "almost good enough". They sourced multiple seeds from 13 locations and planted over 600 trees in each of the four Icelandic climate zones (East, North, West, South).

They are going to cull these and plant open pollinated seeds from the survivors (interchanging some between the 4 zones). Cull this second generation and plant seeds from these in a third location in that same zone.

They hope by the time that they have culled the 3rd generation, they will have created a "good enough" Douglas Fir strain for commercial planting in a warmer Iceland.

Best Hopes for Icelandic Forestry,


The Douglas fir is certainly a very impressive timber tree (the floor joists in my house are Douglas fir because it is such a strong wood), but it might have marginal hardiness for growing in Iceland.

There are various subspecies of Douglas fir, and the coastal Douglas fir is the most impressive one. It grows to 200 feet high and 8 feet across (some examples exceeded 300 feet high and 12 feet across). The Rocky Mountain Douglas fir isn't as big, but it is hardier. The BC interior Douglas fir is more adapted to a hotter, dryer climate. That doesn't sound very encouraging for Iceland.

It doesn't grow as well on this side of the Canadian Rockies as some of the other trees I listed above (I have some of them growing in my yard). The main constraint is cold temperatures - the Douglas fir can't really handle the cold we have. Central British Columbia is considerably warmer.

Iceland is in the Gulf Stream. Reykjavik is between + 10 C and -10 C 90% of the time. Bitter cold is a bit of an issue on the North coast and the Highlands# but not elsewhere.

The four climatic zones (the Highlands are the 5th) have very different species planted. For example, Siberian larch is the #1 tree planted in East Iceland but is unsuitable and not planted in West Iceland.

Lodgepole pine is not suitable for East Iceland (from memory) but is ideal for some barren mid-altitude areas in the West. Only it and the native Icelandic birch can be planted around the volcano Hekla, for example.

# the only tree that will grow in much of the Icelandic Highlands are the Bristlecone Pines species. The isolated population of Pinus aristata from Arizona seems to do best in the Highlands of Iceland.

Iceland has sampled Douglas Fir for well over a half century and found what sources work best. They had a cluster of 13 sites (as described to me) that seemed best adapted - but not quite well enough adapted for widespread planting.

Skogur (Icelandic Forest Service) saw the potential and decided to invest in this long term adaptation breeding experiment for Douglas Fir.

One interesting insight.

Stupid trees do best in Iceland.

Icelandic weather is highly variable. Any tree that has cleverly gained an evolutionary advantage by skillfully "gaming" the local weather will likely fail in Iceland. Broad generalists will likely do better.

Not one Southern Hemisphere tree is even marginally adaptable to Icelandic weather.

Tajikistan is an area we are sampling heavily now.

Best Hopes,


I'm surprised they don't try to grow more White Spruce (Picea glauca). It and Lodgepole Pine are the two most important lumber species in Alberta. I've got a lot of them growing naturally in my back yard, and they seem to thrive in the rather severe climate we have here. They have an amazing range:

Picea gauca

Picea glauca (white spruce) is a species of spruce native to boreal forests in the north of North America, from central Alaska east to Newfoundland, and south to northern Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; there is also an isolated population in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming

White spruce is the northernmost tree species in North America, reaching just north of 69°N latitude in the Mackenzie River delta. It grows between sea level and an elevation of 1,520 metres (4,990 ft). Its northern distribution roughly correlates to the location of the tree line, which includes an isothermic value of 10°C (50°F) for mean temperature in July

The Icelanders seem to prefer Sitka Spruce, which can grow to be a much larger tree, but doesn't have as wide a range as White Spruce.

Yes, white spruce seems very tolerant of a variety of conditions, I have six very fine white spruce in my yard in Anchorage. South Central Alaska weather is definately "highly variable". According to wikipedia: "Anchorage has a subarctic climate (the Köppen climate classification is Dfc) but with strong maritime influences that moderate temperatures. Average daytime summer temperatures range from approximately 55 to 78 °F (13 to 26 °C); average daytime winter temperatures are about 5 to 30 °F (-15 to -1.1 °C)....with an average winter snowfall of 70.6 inches (179 cm)." Record high was 86 °F (30.0 °C), and record low was −38 °F (−38.9 °C). We get a warm thaw at least two or three times most winters (which never melts all the snow, but just f**ks up the skiing and makes things icy when it turns cold again).

We even get periodic dustings of volcanic ash. White spruce should feel right at home in Iceland.

I emailed Throstur about white spruce - but it may be a few days until I get a reply.

I remember it being mentioned as one of the viable trees, but it is not one of the more popular trees.

Coastal Alaska has been the most heavily sourced area for trees for Iceland. Gathering expeditions started in the early 1950s (from memory) and continued until the 1990s. The consensus is that they have sampled Alaska as much as they can, and other areas are of greater interest today.

However, Climate Change may require re-thinking their strategy. The greatest fear in Iceland is the Gulf Stream slowing down or taking a "short-cut" to the south of Iceland.


Here in the Canadian Rockies we get more extreme temperatures and more snow than Anchorage. The record high for Banff Park is 34.4°C (93.9°F), and the record low is -51.2°C (-60.2°F). However, both White Spruce and Lodgepole Pine can stand those temperatures.

Annual snowfall is 244 cm (96.1 in), which is a third more than Anchorage, but we get periodic Chinooks (warm, dry winds) in winter which can clear a lot of the snow off the valley bottoms. These are actually quite hard on the evergreens, which get dehydrated because they are transpiring water in the warm air, but their roots are still frozen so they can't replace it.

Sitka Spruce can't survive in the climate here. If Sitka Spruce can survive in Iceland and grows twice as fast as White Spruce, I can understand why they would prefer to grow it.

Dear Alan

White spruce is planted to a limited extent in Iceland and we have some good
stands of it. However, it likes the same types of sites as Sitka spruce but
grows less than half as fast. It tolerates autumn frosts better than Sitka
spruce, but Sitka spruce tolerates spring frosts better and here in Iceland
its six of one and half a dozen of the other. So we plant mostly Sitka
spruce for the growth rate. Neither one of them tolerates summer frosts, so
on frost-prone sites we plant lodgepole pine.

I looked at a few websites on the history of Iceland and the best seemed to
be Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iceland

Regarding permafrost: We don't have permafrost In Iceland with the exception
of some small wetland areas at over 600 m elevation. There isn't permafrost
in most of the boreal forest zone either. I know from my experience with
digging holes and planting trees that ground frost develops earlier and
dissipates later in my mown lawn than in wooded areas. So I can well believe
that prairie or savanna landscapes (where little snow accumulates and
therefore little insulation) would be more conducive to preserving
permafrost than forests.

All the best

Dr. Þröstur Eysteinsson

Sviðsstjóri þjóðskóganna/Division Chief, National Forests

Skógrækt ríkisins/Iceland Forest Service

Miðvangi 2-4

700 Egilsstaðir

Simi [deleted]

One species Þröstur would like to see more commonly planted is the Swiss Pine (pinus cembra) or it's close relative, the Siberian Pine. Only 50,000 are planted each year.

They bear edible nuts, but only about 50 years after planting. Another far distant benefit of forestry.



hasn't one clever guy ones said:

"A major source of problems are solutions"?



It was Eric Sevareid who said:

"The chief source of problems is solutions." Which is sometimes known as Sevareid's law.

Ron P.

At one time, all the land masses used to be one giant continent. Perhaps we can push them all back together again?

Hi Alan,

Can you point me towards a good source online history of Iceland?Thanks!!!

Most of the early history is in their Sagas.

My favorite is Egill's Saga. First killed at age 7 (memory). Later killed the son of the King of Denmark, Eric Bloodaxe, and wrote a song about having killed both the King & Queen with a single blow.

Decades later the King captured him and was about to execute him when he wrote such a stirring song of praise that he was pardoned.

At the bottom of this is a list of all Icelandic Sagas.


Independent People is the most important modern novel.

If you want a more conventional history, I can ask some Icelanders.

An interesting people :-)


Yes, it is total, utter insanity, and mind boggling. And stunning. But looking around us, should we really be so surprised, stunned, boggled? Perhaps being boggled is also what's stunning.

We really are in trouble.

Happy New Years while they last.

"We really are in trouble."

I nominate this as the utterance of the year on TOD.



NBC Nightly News: As Siberian permafrost melts, methane seeps out Video

Sweet..., problem solved

I'm getting into this conversation real late, but this is the most inane proposal yet. Probably shouldn't say this w/o watching the video, but it'd take forever to load on my system.....

Just what are they intending to do the "grazing" with? Lets back up to just this. The only two large "grazers" of the Arctic are caribou and musk oxen, both more browsers, all the other large grazers find the environs a little forbidding. Caribou esp are feeding on lichens, the flora of the beast is not adapted, ie fine tuned, to grass. It was quite perplexing not long ago, how do they survive when all the cover is snow covered?--lichen feeding, on trees, shrubs, wind swept areas. Musk ox are relying more on the shrubs, willow.

The natural ground cover is predominately moss, lichen, ferns and some shrubs/willow/alder. Mainly primitive plants. What are we going to do, ship hay all winter for our introduced cattle, hope they find the little grass in the short summer? And should we finely locate those species of brome and fescue, heck, lets throw in a little timothy too, adapted, or gene-spliced to the Arctic, are we going to re-sod the place to boot? It's so foolish it could only be tv entertainment.

Just what are they intending to do the "grazing" with?

Thats a pretty serious problem. The natural grazers are stuff like caribo, reindeer, and muskox. And I don't think they occur at high enough densities. That is because the food source is so seasonal. Hard to imagine the economics of grazing could be made viable.

If grass were to grow well there, ordinary cattle could be hauled in in the spring -on roads or railroads that would have to be built of course - run free range and hauled out again for slaughter in the fall fall.This could be quite profitable, in simple terms of the value of the meat versus the transportation costs.

I suspect building roads (other than seasonal ice roads), is quite pricy. Too much of the area is bog. Remember the horror stories of building the Alaska highway. And that was further south in milder climes. I just can't see his vision being realized.

In the clip the Siberian herder who came up with the idea brought in "semi-wild horses, Canadian bison and reindeer".

But perhaps I stressed the wrong thing in my original post. The very important thing was that methane was just bubbling up from everywhere. Poke a hole anywhere and methane came flaring out. They held a torch over the holes they punched and the escaping gas shot flames into the air.

No, there is no fix, in my opinion, for this problem. The trigger point has very likely been reached. And all we can talk about is cutting down trees and bringing in animals to graze and trample snow.

Ron P.

Animals already present in the park:

Carnivores: Eurasian Lynx, Grey Wolf, Arctic Fox, Eurasian Brown Bear, Wolverine, Red Fox,

Herbivores: Reindeer, Elk, European Bison, Moose, Yakutian horse, Muskox

Animals considered or suggested for reintroduction:

Carnivores: Amur Leopard, Siberian Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Spotted Hyena (?)

Herbivores: Yak, Snow Sheep, Saiga antelope, Bactrian Camel, Siberian Roe Deer, Woolly Mammoth, Rhinoceros.

Several of the above will require genetic engineering and surrogate mothers to recreate extinct species.


The Yakuza and the Nuclear Mafia: Nationalization Looms for TEPCO

A Japanese Senator with the Liberal Democratic Party stated on background, "TEPCO's involvement with anti-social forces and their inability to filter them out of the work-place is a national security issue. It is one reason that increasingly in the Diet we are talking de facto nationalization of the company. Nuclear energy shouldn't be in the hands of the yakuza. They're gamblers and an intelligent person doesn't want them to have atomic dice to play with."

FOR ALL: Educating the public?

Heard an interesting chat on BBC yesterday. Two Scot professors discussed the problem with the difficulty of the public understanding all the technical issues we face today…such as PO. Nothing earth shattering but a simple spin: many of our technologies have allowed the public to function adequately without really understanding how it’s done. Lots of examples when you think about it. Consider how little most kids understand the logic behind writing DOS code compared to a simple mouse click. No need for them to understand conditional statements…Microsoft has that covered. So much technology that, while making life easier, folks don’t understand how it’s accomplished. Don’t need to understand refinery yields…just pull up to the pump and fill up…no need to understand how the gasoline got there.

How many 20 yo’s can pop a car hood and understand what they see? Thanks to all the electronics we can’t do much with new vehicles other than drive them to the shop and hook them up to the computer. Not really a bad thing but just one more skill set lost. Just like cooking: instead of turning low cost food products into inexpensive and healthy meals lots of folks just pop expensive processed foods into the microwave. Or if that’s too much work just hit the drive thru at McD’s. And thanks to low cost overseas sweat shops how many under 30 can sew an outfit together? Again, having growing up in patched hand-me-downs, that’s not necessarily bad thing either. But only as long as it lasts.

And how many folks butchered their dinner last night…let alone shot it last month. Again, not really required to appreciate the food chain. But collectively, the point the profs made did ring true: so much of the daily life of many folks comes so automatically they don’t have to think too deeply about the process and what supports the “machine”. Dial 911 and help comes running. Power goes out…call the company and the lights will be on soon. File the right paper work at the govt office and some needed help will show up in the mail soon. Gasoline prices get too expensive…just let the feds tax the heck out of ExxonMobil and prices will come down quick enough. Then they can take that good job 25 miles across town. Too much CO2 going into the atmosphere…just call a meeting at the UN.

A lot of BAU aspects should be changed…and should have been decades ago. But a lot of BAU will be changed that many are not expecting because they can’t see all the connections. Resilience is difficult to quantify but it just doesn’t seem like we’re very close to where we use to be not that many decades ago.

I say this all the time and people look at me as if I were a Martian: things are way too complex to be maintained by any individual, even an intelligent, capable individual.
My Grandfather could provide food for himself and family (as could my Grandmother) by growing it; trapping it or hunting it.
He was a farmer and he could repair and maintain all of his agricultural equipment, sometimes he would need the help of the local blacksmith. At minimum, he at least understood how every machine he relied upon worked. We have surrendered self reliance into a thousand "specialist skills". We are the weaker for that and when cheap energy finally goes away we will mourn our loss of self reliance greatly.
I have only come to respect what skills older generations had in adulthood; I wish I had learned to appreciate it more in my youth.

Difficult to say how much of our lifestyle is due to complexity and better technology, or how much of it has already been affected by the lack of growth in net energy. It's very hard to disentangle this web.

For example, one could look at increasing debt, the infotainment complex, mass imprisonment, etc. as creative responses we have already taken to the lack of new energy relative to growing population. Oil consumption per capita peaked quite awhile ago.

These millenials ensconced in their devices and smartphones...how much more energy would they be using if they could fix hot rods and race them all day long? Much, much more.
Same goes for viewing things on TV and the internet, as opposed to actually doing them or going there.

At the end of the day, the only definitive thing we can say is that we are going to be poorer and more local in orientation. What we will actually be adept at doing is anybody's guess.

I'm no techno-optimist, but technology is definitely transformative. It's only because of the internet that I understand peak oil and finance. Before, I would have believed the Hollywood stories that mankind was going to Mars, and handed over my money to an advisor at Vanguard who would put in an S&P 500 fund and tell me it would grow at 7%, ever year, forever until the end of time.

Now I see through all this nonsense and I work on survivalism and hoarding gold. And I have the internet to thank for it.

The increasing concentration of wealth might likewise be a response to decreasing per capita resource availability. If the notional wealth of the wealthy, which mostly rests in financial accounts as digital entities representative of economic value that is simply reinvested over and over again in electronic games, were instead spread among the majority of the population, they'd use it to buy real goods and services that would, altogether, result in far greater demand for energy and materials. The wealthy buy fancy versions of the same items that other people have, which require somewhat more energy to produce, but what the wealthy consume in quality would have much higher resource costs due to quantity of purchases if such consumption were instead spread among people of average means. The wealth concentration that's been ongoing for several decades might to a large extent be an effect of declining per capita resource availability.

Wealth concentration is also an effect of empire, globalization, and financialization, which are themselves to a large extent responses to the resource crunch of the 70s. The neoliberal economic thought/market worship that started to become popular in the 70s, the politicized Christianity that attracted followers among the increasingly disenfranchised working class, and the massive increase in public and private debt since the 1980s can also be interpreted as responses to creeping resource limitations.

I say this all the time and people look at me as if I were a Martian...
~ Martian in Mars(?)

Or as if you were a Martin. Maybe you are. ;)

The 'iron law of oligarchy' states that

...all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organizations. The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to 'social viscosity' in a large-scale organization. According to the 'iron law', democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible.

A low-energy policy allows for a wide choice of life-styles and cultures. If, on the other hand, a society opts for high energy consumption,

...its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labeled capitalist or socialist... Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.

We have surrendered self reliance into a thousand "specialist skills".
We are the weaker for that.

We must take it as a matter of scientific certainty that,
Just as the Earth's crust is of finite volume and thus has only so much recoverable oil,
The human brain is of finite size and of finite processing bandwidth, and thus can only do so much.

It is specialization and cooperation that makes us
so much stronger and smarter than we could possibly be on our individual bases.

However, specialization is a double edged sword.
It giveth with one of its blade edges.
And it cutteth away with the other.

You are mainly talking about technology complexity. I think the global issues, like PO and AGW are actually pretty simple. PO is finite resource running into practical extraction limits. AGW is the accumulation of gases that have an affect on the climate system. You can have a lay understanding of these issues without understanding the details. But the technologies you mentioned are large comglomerations of complexities, which no single person can fully grasp.

But, thats always been the case. Humans have been dealing with humans, for millenia, without having even a basic understanding of biology of psychology. They just deal with a simple mental model that is relevant to their interaction with the system. So the computer responds to mouse moves according to some simplified animist model, not to the details of GUI design. The problem with PO and AGW, is it is the whole system respose that is relevant, and people are used to dealing with things on a micro scale. What their decision to consume a marginal barrel does to the global oil economy isn't part of that local model. They largely just see, how much it cost them, and what did it do for them. Global economies (or global climate), those are things that can only be grasped with mathematical models, which are only imperfectly understood by a small priesthood. And we have well funded groups making aspertions about them, it is easy to grasp at misinformation.

+ 1 I just took two 22 year old Canadian lads across the South China Sea. Lovely personalities, but they couldn't fathom anything that was not push button simple. Email, Ipod, stereo, autopilot,and radios were easy. Never understood; clockwise, nautical twilight, igniting the stove, comprehending radar, keeping fingers away from moving machinery, or reading an analog watch.

I watched as they engaged in self destructive activities ashore and managed to fall out of my large inflatable dinghy. Their inability to adapt to any change was astonishing. No bread at the market ? Stand and stare at empty shelf. Ride a motorcycle on the left side of the road ? Screeching tires and horns with plenty of road rash.

These lads were fully functional in society, being skiing champion and oilfield hand. It was an eye opening experience for me. Even their self survival senses were lacking.

I agree with the Rock, we're headed for a hard place.

Wishing all of you a healthy, prosperous and happy new year.

Must have been an interesting trip.

Personally, I'm at a loss to guess where the balance falls on 'overall survival capability', or whatever we might choose to call it.. since I see many 'Consumers' our there, 'Audience Members', as you all describe, all their problems solved by shopping and automatic systems set up for our convenience.. But I also know and see many new 'Doers' as well, quite capable of facing new problems and taking them on.

If the proportion of these two groups is anything like the mismatch in our Present v. Ideal Population Levels, then maybe the problem is self-correcting.. (not that the correction period would be uniformly 'nice' ..)

It's out of my hands.. I'll teach the girl what I can, and some of her contemporaries as well, and we'll see!

Happy New Year, Drummers!

Rocks in my socks.

Increasing development and increasing efficiency both lead to increasing complexity. If you consider an analogue watch vs a digital watch, in form the digital watch is considerably less complex in terms of design but if you consider the complexity of the battery, lcd and screen each is much more complicated than the analogue watch. As complexity rises it often moves the complexity towards specialists who can deal with it such as your specialist dealer repair shop often exchange for increased simplicity for the end user given the vastly improved reliability, pollution levels and fuel efficiency of the modern motor vehicle.

The danger from peak energy isn't that we would have to deal with less, the danger is the loss of complexity which means we lose efficiency through simplicity. If fossil energy allows for globalized trade and efficiency with complexity then a lack of energy would lead to simplicity and inefficiency. I don't know if it makes sense to you but imagine if your boss told you that they had to let a 'motorman' go because of rising costs and that you'd have to moonlight as a mechanic as well as do geological stuff. It'd be simpler but it wouldn't be the most efficient way to operate and you probably wouldn't like spending half your time elbow deep in grease either.

If society moved away from outsourcing complexity and everyone had to learn as much as possible then it would indicate one thing, that the systems in place are failing. It is a pretty rare individual who can operate DOS, hunt with a rifle for his meat and fix his own car as well as sew his own clothes. People simply cannot be good at so many things at the same time. As much as it sounds ideal, the balkanization of society into much smaller units means that the jack of all trades is the master of all he knows whereas by our standards he is the master of none.

As much as it sounds ideal, the balkanization of society into much smaller units means that the jack of all trades is the master of all he knows whereas by our standards he is the master of none.

To a great extent this is what drives city out of the boondocks. They have neither the skill-sets nor the money to hire the "expert". They usually give up after a few years.


I think what will happen is folks that live rural and cannot maintain do move away, and that others won't replace them. I am reminded of the old 'Easy Rider" scene where Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda arrive at some desert commune (Taos NM kind of place?) and watch the guys trying to sow grain in the sand and rock. How many of those communties remain? There are remnants, but they made realistic lives out of local options.

If people want to live in the boonies they better like to work. In short, hobbies must line up with chores. Good thing we love to cut wood and garden, because we sure do a lot of it. :)


from New Mexico Off the Beaten Path, 9th: A Guide to Unique Places
By Richard K. Harris

Most New Mexico hippie communes field within the first few years as their participant's utopian quest for a new social order collided with the harsh realities of subsistence farming and the prejudices of the conservative local population. But some lived on and their influence can still be found today... Counterculture architecture such as geodesic domes and straw bale houses dot the wide-open spaces wherever there are no building codes. Experimental methods for growing crops in the high desert, orginally developed by the communes, are now widely used on New Mexico's organic farms.

The Hog Farm, the commune near Black Mesa where Easy Rider was filmed, eventually lost its lease and migrated to several California locations, including Mendocino, where founder Wavy Gravy, now in his seventies, runs a school for clowns.

Best known as the publisher of Baba Ram Dass's cult classic Be Here Now, the Lama Foundation near San Cristobal thrived through three generations before a 1996 forest fire destroyed the entire community - except for the central library, which was left miraculously untouched.

Near Arroy Hondo, New Buffalo, the largest of the old communes lived on for many years as an inexpensive, nostalgia-steeped bed and breakfast inn. In 1996 it closed down to provide temporary shelter for refugees from Lama after the forest fire; it has never reopened to the public.

And as for Easy Rider, co-star and screenwriter Dennis Hopper bought culture maven Mabel Dodge Luhan's mansion in Taos and lived there for almost 30 years. Co-star Jack Nicholson bought land for a commune in northern New Mexico but never lived there, and the commune's occupants were run out of town by armed locals after six months.

When I first saw the high desert of the American West, my first reaction was, "Why did they ever bother taking this away from the Indians?" However, I grew up on a farm so on my first look at the soil I knew it was unfarmable.

It is completely unsuitable for industrial agriculture. Of course, you can make it bloom with large amounts of water and fertilizer, which you have to bring in from great distances away - an expensive and ultimately counterproductive effort. It is interesting to see the landscape and talk with the locals, though. Many of them are quite fascinating and quite far off the mainstream thoughtlines, but well adapted to their local environment.

The head guide on on of our trips was particularly interesting because he had been an old uranium miner, had an Iraqi son-in-law, and lived in a cave. He also liked to run the trails with his horse following him rather than ride it he thought the heat was too hard on the horse. He was prone to saying things like, "Don`t worry if you start to sink, it`s only quicksand", and "Don`t worry about that sound, it`s just a rattlesnake". All this made perfect sense when he explained it to you. He had to be tough to live like this, and he was.

He on the other hand was happy to have Canadians along. As he said, "I don`t think Americans could have found the campsite for the trail guide after she got lost in the thunderstorm, or rescued all the equipment from the flash flood like that."

The "new" Hog Farm is about 10 miles south of us (Laytonville, CA). Their main activity is a summer camp, Camp Winarainbow, for under privileged city kids. They also lease their land for two concerts a summer that draw several thousand people. A few organizations use their facilities for weekend/week long meetings.

I haven't seen WG in town for years and don't know if he is still doing the clown trip.

Hi Paulo,

The thing is city and suburban people don't realize how many skills (and tools) they have outsourced. And, further, because the skills were outsourced they have no idea about the degree of knowledge necessary to at least be able diagnose the problem much less fix it.

It also goes beyond knowledge; tools. It's one thing to acquire tools over a long period of time to spread out the cost and another to buy them all at once. And, this assumes the person is knowledgeable enough to even know what tools to buy.

You mentioned firewood. I look at the stuff I have; chainsaws, bow saws, handsaws, axes, hatchets, mauls, wedges, hydraulic splitter, chainsaw files and on and on; thousands of dollars of just firewood stuff.

And, none of this even mentions garden tools, first aid supplies, food preservation equipment, equipment maintenance tools like socket sets and wrenches, tools for household use and so forth. These all obviously involve additional skills to use them.

People considering living in the boonies need to realize it is not suburbia on large lots. It's a different reality...and it takes years to acquire the knowledge and tools.


S - "It is a pretty rare individual who can operate DOS, hunt with a rifle for his meat and fix his own car as well as sew his own clothes." Dang. Might sound like brag but I can do all that and more. Build with adobe, cure leather and skins, dig a water well by hand, cook excellent meals with cheap food (as long as I have my spices), start a fire without matches. The list goes on. But I grew up in the inner city and am far from being a Grizzly Adams. I don't consider myself that well prepared for a harsh future. I gather you have a poor view of the general capabilities of the public. Maybe because I don't have a great deal of intimate contact with many under 50 yo perhaps my expectations are overly optimistic. I like to think that small groups could collectively pull it together. Granted I'm not talking about a Mad Max future...just tough times.

R - To be honest there has been a serious degradation of the skills of the average person. You'd be surprised how little people of my generation actually know how to do, I'm 26. The thing is you work in a greying industry with likely a bunch of clued up if not formally educated blokes whereas a lot of the younger generations even if they are educated aren't exactly educated in a way which would turn them into what you'd call useful mammals! There are a lot of people out there who wouldn't know how to soft boil an egg if you asked them to, they'd have to Google it!

The problem with small groups is that once things break or can't be replaced in the case of shortages then they simply stop working. You can easily survive in a small group but thriving is another thing entirely. In my most humble opinion once technology is lost it is extremely difficult to get back if the level of development which supported that technology is also lost, look at what the Romans had compared to what came after.

The numbers at this point don't point to a pretty picture and you can look at a lot of different numbers which tell the same story. History also tells us another story about what happens when a society is suffering from limited resources, it becomes warlike. It isn't surprising that cultures like Scots, Maori, Vikings and Native Americans were extremely warlike when they were also extremely impoverished.

The real story isn't that America is going to suffer degradation and civil war and hunger and starvation, the same applies to places like Europe and China etc. Someone else is going to suffer those things so that people like us don't have to, it's as simple as that. We are the 1% as far as the rest of the world is concerned in places like Africa/India. In my opinion what we're seeing at the moment is a repeat of the prelude to WW1. We're seeing the beginnings of colonialism and the rise of nationalism/fascism. History repeats itself because the same conditions which arise to cause events to happen the way they do also repeat themselves. What was the status quo pre 1914? Mutually assured distribution of resources amongst various powers to the detriment of others, there are good reasons why Africa as a 'developing' area.

S - Perhaps the best approach is for small groups to gather and then, if it turns Mad Max, we old farts can just eat the under 30's. LOL.

Sadly I think the lack of understading by the general population will lead to their supporting those military/economic "solutions" which you envision. IOW the stronger societies will do whatever is necessary to make sure we get "our energy" that "those other people" think they have a right to. IOW the MADOR solution: Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources. Distribution amongst those who can control the flow...by whatever means available. And basicly with the US and China making that call IMHO.

The problem with small groups is that once things break or can't be replaced in the case of shortages then they simply stop working. You can easily survive in a small group but thriving is another thing entirely. In my most humble opinion once technology is lost it is extremely difficult to get back if the level of development which supported that technology is also lost, look at what the Romans had compared to what came after.

There is an entire "subculture" on the Internet dedicated to claims that things like the green glass in the Libyan desert is due to a nuke war long before the Egyptian pyramids. Or how there is a Pyramid in Bosnia.

Your position is held by others today.

I guess the green glass is on the other side of a nuclear explosion. In any case all I said was that the dark ages following the fall of the Roman Empire wasn't as technically advanced.


My friends can't understand directions without GPS. I tell them to go South-South-East for five miles and they stare at me. Even with a clear blue sky.

Most of the people have no clue about how to read maps even if they stare at google maps five hours a day. The software does it for them.

When I begun my solo hikes in my 20ies I had a map I did not know how to read, and no compass; I relied on the watch and sun method, and hoped there would be sun. I learnt to navigate. Failure was no option.

It is a pretty rare individual who can operate DOS, ...

Knowing DOS will not help you. I'd suggest replacing this thought on DOS with Linux. Complimentary to any operating system would be knowing how to swap out parts on a PC to keep it running.

My thoughts on people and more self-sufficiency in context of 'collapse' scenarios:

Mild (slow?) collapse
I can demonstrate that I am a Linux guy, PC builder, a driveway mechanic, some home plumbing, electrical, hadyman-ish stuff, etc. Perhaps I help barter some of my skillsets with people in my immediate area if mild collapse (Cuba-ish?) reaches a state where my skills could be useful.

Strong (faster?) collapse
But even with my skillsets, I suspect I am still not going to survive in a 'attempting BAU' situation if a stronger collapse happens. Not unless I move and relocate to an area with a better chance at food and water self-sufficiency. I suspect the Los Angeles area where I live will rapidly shrink in population if food and water can no longer be cheaply transported to the region.

I'd suggest replacing this thought on DOS with Linux.

TOD runs on FreeBSD.

Why suggest GNU/Linux when FreeBSD is the better product?

TOD runs on FreeBSD.

It is the basic Mac kernel.

Mac Kernel is a Hybrid Kernel (Mach 5) which uses a large amount of code from FreeBSD, but calling it FreeBSD is oversimplification.

See here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_BSD_operating_systems

Funny, the DOS / mouse reference - I was probably the first software producer to merge a mouse pointer onto a DOS text screen and release it as a developer's tool (via shareware). This neat trick was done by reading a block of four characters (2x2) to discover what characters were being displayed at the desired coordinates of a standard 80x25 screen, copying the characters found into a RAM buffer, overlaying a mouse pointer bitmap, and then replacing the 2x2 block with the merged character/mouse pointer. Thus, as one moved the mouse, it would look as if a pointer was moving across a standard 80x25 text screen (it didn't look very nice at 80x50) - and because it ran in the background on the 1Ch interrupt tick, the standard DOS screen continued to work but the idea was that one would write a program and take advantage of being able to look-up the pixel location of the tip of the pointer.

This tool helped user in the new "windowing" environment under DOS that one would find with Norton Utilities, for example.

Today, I write embedded systems firmware code to be used by the DoD - I have intrusion detection systems in place and operating in the Middle East guarding US munitions. Imagine the pains of a firmware fix or upgrade - these munitions bunkers often with vault doors (like a bank's) have to be opened, the system disarmed, central dispatch, etc., coordinated, and armed guards stationed while the change is made. Worse yet is the condition where a system should be disarmed but isn't and some Colonel or other VIP is thrown to the ground with a gun to his head - after the disarray is straightened out the phone begins to ring ... the hot seat is prepped ... I live in fear ...

Why suggest GNU/Linux when FreeBSD is the better product?

Flame war! Bring popcorn! Bring Leanan!

I am a Linux-guy since 1999. Before that, DOS was my default OS, with a brief visit to Windows NT. The latest version of MS Windows I ever owned was 3.1.

Knowing DOS will not help you.

I still think knowing Linux would be more helpful (or as a secondary choice another open source *nix), but if someone wants to know a DOS, then at least learn an open source one:

FreeDOS 1.1 Released

The history of FreeDOS stems back to the summer of 1994 when Microsoft announced that MS-DOS as a separate product would no longer be supported.


FreeDOS isn't an 'old' OS; it's actually quite usable. FreeDOS supports FAT32, UDMA for hard drives and DVD drives, and it even has antivirus and BitTorrent clients.

http://www.freedos.org/ (FreeDOS is distributed under the GNU GPL.)

I think you bring up a great point about the necessity for the public to learn about the production and supply chains that bring us our daily use products. I have training in engineering although I have been working in the computer field for the past 30 years. One of the things I really enjoy is watching the program "How its Made" on the Science. I would urge everyone to check out this program on their web site: http://science.discovery.com/tv/how-its-made/#fbid=8RcjiQ9XdLM

One of the things that struck me was the number of steps involved in the manufacturing process even for seemingly simple day-to-day things, especially food products. The other thing that strikes me is the pervasive use of automation and robots in many processes.

"especially food products......?". More like edible (sort of) food-like substances! I have a couple of manufactured sugar wafers that have been sitting on my shelf for 9 months now with no detectable change! Real food would have long since been decomposing.

One of the things that struck me was the number of steps involved in the manufacturing process even for seemingly simple day-to-day things, especially food products.

Just checked my fridge and couldn't find a single "food product" or any food item involving a "manufacturing process".

Can't remember the last time I consumed a "manufactured food product". I blame TV for brainwashing people into thinking that things like breakfast cereal are anything other than junk food.

I blame TV for brainwashing people

The triumph of advances in the neuro-sciences.

... couldn't find a single "food product" or any food item involving a "manufacturing process"

Milk from industrial farm using antibiotic fed cows milked by automated milking equipment? ... Check

Water treated by industrial water purification and pumped by industrial pumps? ... Check

Fruit and vegetables grown with fertilizers manufactured with Haber process? ... Check

Totally organic and didn't use even one thing 'manufactured' by industrial society? ... Highly unlikely

Definition of pedantic

(1) ostentatious in one's learning

(2) overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.

i think step back makes a good point.

Thank you.

I was trying to make the inconvenient pedantic point that if we look hard enough, we find that even the most basic of food stuffs rely on a fuel-based and machine-based industrial society. Consider the flimsy metal net that keeps the rabbits out of your backyard vegetable patch. Where did the metal come from? Where did the hand shovel used to dig up the soil come from? We are so deep into and dependent on industrial manufacturing that there is no backing out of it.

I'm not saying that localization is a bad idea.

I'm just saying that isolationism and total DIY-ism is not a viable option.

I'm just saying that isolationism and total DIY-ism is not a viable option.

My understanding is, for 'farming' it never really was. I understand that 'subsistence' living normally needs a local craft economy, and it is commonly necessary to generate some surplus to 'pay' for some essential inputs - including even at times 'back-up' food. Many studies also implicate intensive, stable, not least psychologically stable, co-operation within families for longer term viability and at the village level, means for negotiating both social co-operation and social tension. Not easy stuff even when there are few external pressures; needing as one study puts it: "The skill with which older men act as mediators even in minor verbal disputes, the willingness to drink to together and negotiate problems, the performance of family and communal religious ceremonial and a very real ability to laugh off trouble ..."

Footnote: interesting the part played by coal/smithying on the cattle ranges of the USA (e.g. coal hauled by mule-trains from the railhead). Late 19thC 'homesteading' required similar services, for example in Oregon, but in the latter case dry-land Oregon proved 'no-go' for homesteaders even with services, and the homesteaders were gone, including townships, by the end of the 2nd decade of 20thC.

Lactating dairy cows are not typically fed antibiotic-laced feeds in the U.S. They may be briefly treated with antibiotics, but usually hospital milk is dumped or fed to calves.


Note that there ARE certain antibiotics which may be given to milk cows which do not require a "Milk Withdrawal" period.

Just checked my fridge and couldn't find a single "food product" or any food item involving a "manufacturing process".

You get all your food products packaged in banana leaves? (common in Central America, but not often found in countries where most people have refrigerators).

I think you're naive about the whole food product industry. For more information, read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen

The author kills and prepares his own food to get a feel for what life would be without the packaged food industry. I grew up on a farm so it was not that big an eye opener for me, but people who have grown up in the hothouse environment of modern urban civilization, it can be a nasty shock.

I remember the day (I was probably about five) when my father came out of the house, grinned at me, and said, "Wouldn't you like a nice chicken dinner tonight?" Then he handed me an ax, pointed at a chicken, and said, "Here's the ax, there's the chicken".

I never liked chickens anyway (one had knocked me down and pecked me in the head when I was very young), so I had no qualms about chopping its head off. Then I got to watch it run around in circles with its head chopped off, which is what chickens do. I was still bitter about being pecked and felt good about the whole process. The chicken was tasty, too.

Then, after the main course, my mother probably did what she usually did (she was not a big believer in doing unnecessary work). She said, "Okay kids, you've had your meat, your vegetables are out in the garden!" And we'd run out, grab whatever veggies were ripe, knock the dirt off them if necessary, and gobble them down. My father used to put about two acres into garden, and whatever we didn't eat, the pigs got. The pigs ate well.

Not the procedure in your average urban environment.

'I think you're naive..'

Boy, it's a debunker's paradise out there!

How do you know that he's naive? He clearly says that 'breakfast cereal product' and foods of that sort are part of the FAKE FOOD MOVEMENT.. so what if it's wrapped in plastic, or sitting in a fridge. I'm sure he's not an idiot, and knows that there are countless tech-saturated layers to this issue.. but beyond that, I don't pretend to know where he's at on the spectrum.. just that he does seem plenty aware that there is a lot of bogus food and bogus information out there.

Just a FYI for those that have access to Netflix streaming: The "How It's Made" entire series is available. My oldest child will watch it with me now and then.

Too much specializing.........

I have dedicated the first day of the new year to seeking fitting entertainment, and for T.O.D. I found the best thing about humans:

Info on Southwestern Rail Conference in Dallas, Texas on January 26 & 27:



THE cost of domestic heating oil has surged 24 per cent in a year, prompting calls for Government help for the one million households dependent on it to stay warm this winter.

Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the price increased by 23.8 per cent in real terms between the third quarter of 2010 and the same quarter of 2011.


There are 1.1 million homes in Britain heated by oil. These houses are likely to be made with solid walls, which leak more heat and are harder to insulate and make energy efficient. Among consumers with oil heating, 29 per cent in England, 43 per cent in Scotland and 47 per cent in Wales are fuel poor against 13 per cent of gas users in England, 24 per cent in Scotland and 21 per cent in Wales.

Fuel poverty is when a household has to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on heating.

See: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/292882/One-million-are-hit-by-huge-r...

As at December 31st, our space heating costs total $133.47 (43-year old, 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod).


I find it astounding that there are 1.1 million homes heated by oil in Britain. North Sea oil production peaked 12 years ago, and they are now getting to the steep part of the production decline curve. It can only get worse from here. Doesn't anybody ever look at the production forecasts?

Natural gas is, of course, more economic and if was North America I would suggest switching to it because of the surplus of shale gas, but North Sea gas production is also declining.

I would say at this point in time that ground-source heat pumps and superinsulation might be their best choices. Having been in Britain (and having a few motley relatives there), I realize this may be too big of a conceptual leap for most Brits, but they should give it a try.

Electricity supply is, of course a concern due to the lack of forward planning by the British government. Their plans are typically unrealistic so I will ignore them (the island is just not big enough to support all those wind turbines).

Given the small size and limited resources of Britain, I would suggest nuclear power is probably the only energy source that would be practical. If they don't want to build their own nuclear plants, they could run some cables across the Channel and buy nuclear power from the French. It would be more expensive than building their own nukes, but given enough money even the French would be willing to keep the Brits from freezing in the dark.

I'll probably pop over and see how things are going later this year. Being typically Canadian I'll be very polite and avoid saying, "I told you so". I'll bring a folding bicycle so I don't have to rely on the trains or the petrol supply. If I can persuade Canadian Medicare to fund the new hip I need before then, I might even walk across the country - I'm told the pub-to-pub treks are excellent.

Press TV Iran is reporting as "Breaking News" that Bagram base in Afghanistan has been hit by multiple missile strikes. Pakistan sources reporting similar, No further details or confirmation from any major news agency.

Edit: Link now. Attack claimed by Taliban according to Press TV

Taliban strike US Bagram Air Base

The Taliban militants say they have struck the US Bagram Air Base in the north of the Afghan capital Kabul with nine missiles in an attack, which left many casualties.

[I briefly had a link to an old story instead of the current alleged event - sorry for any confusion]

Curious, The Press TV story is not (as of posting) showing up in Google "News" searches. Earlier and later Press TV stories are there and Google has it indexed (you can search for it and find it with a general web search) but not under the "News" category so won't show up in Google News alerts.

Technical glitch or Google fiddling with their news feeds? Wonder if it will appear as "News" later.

January 1, 2012

Programme summary of Iranian Mashhad radio in Dari 1330 gmt 1 Jan 12

Report on a rocket attack on the US base in Bagram. Parwan Provincial Police Chief Sher Ahmad Maladani said at least one rocket hit the base to disturb New Year celebrations of US forces in the mentioned base. He did not give any details about the possible casualties of the rocket attack.

Source: BBC Monitoring S. Asia

January 1, 2012

Taleban report firing missiles at Bagram airbase in Afghan north

Text of report "Missiles fired on Bagram airbase" by Afghan Taleban Voice of Jihad website on 1 January

[Taleban spokesman] Zabihollah Mojahed: According to a report, the mojahedin of the Islamic Emirate have fired missiles on Bagram airbase in Parwan Province.

Taleban report firing missiles at Bagram airbase in Afghan north

The report from the area says two missiles were fired on the airbase at 2200 [local time] which were said to have hit their intended targets.

Precise information regarding losses inflicted on the enemy has not been received.

Source: Voice of Jihad website, in Pashto 1 Jan 12