Drumbeat: January 23, 2012

Obama to tout natural gas benefits in State of Union

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will encourage the country's booming natural gas output in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, while defending his administration's energy record, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Obama was expected to devote a significant portion of his speech slated for 9 p.m. EST Tuesday calling for a "new era for American energy," which will include promoting domestic natural gas production, according to documents provided to Democratic party sources.

U.S. natural gas output has grown sharply in recent years thanks to advances in drilling techniques that have unlocked massive shale reserves.

Scotland’s Independence Bill May Exceed Oil Money Claimed by Nationalists

Ever since oil was discovered in the North Sea off the British coast in December 1969, the Scottish National Party claimed it for Scotland.

Now in power and closer than ever to a referendum on whether to break from the U.K. after more than 300 years, the SNP government in Edinburgh led by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is counting on tax revenue from the oil industry as a key pillar of the economy along with financial services.

Spain banks on Saudi promise

Saudi Arabia has promised Spain that it will make up for supplies of oil its loses as a result of EU sanctions on Iran and at the same price, Spain's foreign minister said on Monday.

Crude Trades Below $100 as U.S. Inventory Outlook Counters Iran Embargo

Oil fluctuated below $100 a barrel in New York as speculation U.S. stockpiles gained last week countered concern Iran will respond to an European embargo on its crude exports by shutting the Strait of Hormuz.

Tony Hayward accused of 'lying' over Gulf spill

Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP, has been accused of giving untruthful evidence to US Congress, by plaintiffs suing for damages over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Top Woman in Oil to Head $225 Billion Plan as Petrobras Chief Executive

Maria das Gracas Foster, the first woman named to run one of the world’s top five oil companies, will take over the industry’s largest investment plan with Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4)’s $225 billion proposal to more than double its output by the end of the decade.

Analysis: No-one should be fooled into thinking that Tehran will simply take this lying down

HOW might Iran react to an EU embargo on oil? So far, it has been assumed Iran simply accepts this without retaliation.

This is extremely unlikely and it is necessary to consider what options Iran might have. Recently, there has been much speculation, encouraged by some, but not all, elements in the Iranian power structure, that its response would be to inhibit the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

A winning Strategy For Iran, and for the World

But first, since everyone has talked only about the reasons why Iran should not pursue nuclear power, let me briefly state why it is in our interest that Iran does pursue nuclear power.

The Long Climb Up Hubbert's Peak

What most annoys me about dialogue on the Internet these days is that it's so utterly lacking in a sense of direction. It's as if it's dominated by some sort of new generation that considers itself the inventors of the term "peak oil." But no matter how hard I bash my head against the wall, trying to get people to move beyond that basic concept, I rarely have much success. In particular, I've tried a thousand times to get readers to grasp the two simple facts that (1) there is no way of changing the fact that industrial society is approaching a massive imbalance between energy supply and population and (2) it's time to start seriously thinking about Emergency Planning.

How much planning has been done, for example, to deal with the massive global famine that is approaching? None.

The blue-state trap

Writing in this week’s New Yorker on why President Obama has been unable to bridge the partisan divide in Washington, Ryan Lizza points to a simple yet important factor: our tendency to live near people who always agree with us, creating a Congress without a true center. Is it possible that in building vibrant cities where we want to live, we’ve also created a frozen, extreme politics many of us abhor?

“It would be hard for any president to reverse this decades-long political trend,” writes Lizza, “which began when segregationist Democrats in the South — Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond — left the Party and became Republicans. Congress is polarized largely because Americans live in communities of like-minded people who elect more ideological representatives.”

Mercury’s Harmful Reach Has Grown, Study Suggests

The strict new federal standards limiting pollution from power plants are meant to safeguard human health. But they should have an important side benefit, according to a study being released on Tuesday: protecting a broad array of wildlife that has been harmed by mercury emissions.

How to Get Help Paying for Heating Oil

As the threat of an actual winter intensifies, advocates for the poor have been worrying about how low-income households will cope with the high cost of heating oil.

Complications of Hacking the Planet

As scientists, with some reluctance, begin to study the idea of “geoengineering” the planet to slow or halt global warming, they are finding that any such program would quite likely have a complex array of effects, not all of them to humanity’s benefit.

Japanese Struggle to Protect Their Food Supply

ONAMI, Japan — In the fall, as this valley’s rice paddies ripened into a carpet of gold, inspectors came to check for radioactive contamination.

Onami sits just 35 miles northwest of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which spewed radioactive cesium over much of this rural region last March. However, the government inspectors declared Onami’s rice safe for consumption after testing just two of its 154 rice farms.

Then, a few days later, a skeptical farmer in Onami, who wanted to be sure his rice was safe for a visiting grandson, had his crop tested, only to find it contained levels of cesium that exceeded the government’s safety limit. In the weeks that followed, more than a dozen other farmers also found unsafe levels of cesium. An ensuing panic forced the Japanese government to intervene, with promises to test more than 25,000 rice farms in eastern Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located.

Crude Oil Advances After European Union Agrees on Sanctions Against Iran

Oil rose as the European Union announced a phased-in embargo of Iranian (OPCRIRAN) crude in an effort to contain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The ban will be implemented in stages by July 1, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told reporters today in Brussels. The region bought 450,000 barrels a day of Iran’s oil in the first half of 2011, U.S. Energy Department data show. EU finance heads are meeting to craft a long-term plan to tackle the area’s debt crisis.

Price of gas up 3.5 cents in the past two weeks

The average price of gasoline in the United States rose again in the past two weeks, gaining nearly 3.5 cents to about $3.39 a gallon, due in part to higher crude oil prices, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey.

Natural Gas Picture Still Bleak

The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory release showed a slightly lower-than-expected drop in natural gas supplies, as warmer-than-normal temperatures across the country have restricted the commodity’s requirement for power burn. In fact, gas stocks – currently 20.8% above the 5-year average and 19.6% higher than the same period last year – are at their highest level for this time of the year, reflecting low demand amid robust onshore output.

Suspected U.S. missile kills 4

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) – A suspected U.S. drone fired missiles at a house and a vehicle in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said, killing four alleged militants in an attack that could signal the program is picking up steam after strained relations halted strikes late last year.

Nigerian Islamist Group Kills 165 in Bombings

At least 165 people were killed in the northern Nigerian city of Kano in bomb attacks on government buildings, the biggest by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Cedi blues: Central banks’ nightmare

It observed that while oil production and exports may be positive for Ghana’s trade account, it implies an increase in payments to foreign service-providers, and in repatriated income -- both of which put pressure on reserves.

Iran Says Negotiations Can Resolve Standoff

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said only negotiations and not sanctions can resolve the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Europe Will Ban Iran Oil Imports from July

European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban oil imports from Iran starting July 1 as part of measures to ratchet up the pressure on the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear program, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said.

Iran renews Strait of Hormuz shutdown threats after EU joins U.S. in banning oil imports

In Iran, one politician responded by renewing a threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, an oil exporting route vital to the global economy, and another said Tehran should cut off oil to the EU immediately.

That might hurt Greece, Italy and other ailing economies which depend heavily on Iranian crude and, as a result, won as part of the EU agreement a grace period until July 1 before the embargo takes full effect.

Unilateral sanctions on Iran 'do not help': Russia

(MOSCOW) - Russia said Monday it viewed the European Union's oil embargo on Iran as counterproductive and would continue to defend Tehran against further sanctions over its nuclear programme.

"Unilateral sanctions do not help matters," Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying in response to the EU decision.

Iran's rial drops 10 pct as EU bans oil imports

TEHRAN: Iran's rial currency plunged 10 percent to a new record low on Monday as the EU imposed a ban on Iranian oil imports, posing a major headache for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has said sanctions will not hurt the economy.

BACKGROUND: EU trade with Iran

Brussels - Iran provides a notable, but not decisive, quantity of oil to the European Union. Of the 896 million barrels of crude imported to the 27 EU member states in the first quarter of 2011, just 4.4 per cent came from Iran.

Over the whole of 2010, Iran supplied 5.7 per cent of the around 3.8 billion barrels (1 barrel = 159 litres) imported by the EU.

Iran Said to Seek Yen Oil Payments From India Amid Sanctions

Iran has asked India to pay for oil partly in yen as the two nations seek an agreement on how to maintain trade amid tightening global sanctions, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

At talks in Tehran last week, India proposed to pay its second-biggest oil supplier in rupees through a bank account in the South Asian nation, said the people, declining to be identified because the information is confidential. Iranian officials sought partial payment in yen because they’re concerned that they may not get sufficient value from the rupee, which isn’t fully convertible, according to the people.

Natural gas glut, low prices, prompt Chesapeake to cut exploration and production

NEW YORK — Faced with decade-low natural gas prices that have made some drilling operations unprofitable, Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it will drastically cut drilling and production of the fuel in the U.S.

Chesapeake, the nation’s second largest natural gas producer, said Monday that its planned 8 percent production cut means the U.S. as a whole would produce the same or slightly less natural gas in 2012 than it did in 2011.

Halliburton Profit Grows as U.S. Fracking Surges

Halliburton Co., the world’s largest provider of hydraulic fracturing services, said fourth-quarter profit rose as customers boosted spending on the technique for capturing oil in the U.S.

The Keystone - China connection is overblown

In an effort to diversify its export base and sell to growing markets, Canada has been looking to build a pipeline to its West Coast long before the Keystone controversy even began.

And actually laying a pipeline to the West Coast will be just as hard as building one through the United States.

GM Faces Task of Rebuilding Volt Model’s Image After NHTSA Fire Probe Ends

General Motors Co. begins the task this week of repairing the image of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in vehicle after federal regulators closed their investigation into a battery fire.

First series of Better Place cars hit roads

A four-year venture in the making, the first fleet of several dozen Better Place Renault Fluence ZE electric cars drove in a procession down Tel Aviv’s Ayalon on Sunday afternoon. About 100 Better Place employees were the beneficiaries of today’s inaugural car shipments, and members of the general public will begin receiving their vehicles during the second quarter of 2012, the company said. Throughout the year, thousands of electric cars will be reaching the country’s roads, according to Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplinsky.

A Smart Power Grid Begins With a Promise for the Future

Substation No. 505 in Oak Park, with its nondescript cluster of bulky transformers and web of power lines, seems an unlikely place for Commonwealth Edison to start the $2.6 billion smart grid it says will prepare the region’s antiquated power system for the digital age.

Egyptian commitment starts to gather force

Egypt, which has been touted as the region's front-runner in the adoption of wind power in the Middle East and North Africa, has contracted the turbine manufacturer Gamesa to equip a 200-megawatt wind farm.

GE Courts Turbine Customers for Solar Panels Before Wind ‘Crash’

General Electric Co. (GE) is trying to convince developers that have bought its wind turbines to double down on clean energy by purchasing its solar panels as well, said Vic Abate, who runs the company’s renewables unit.

Swiss-German partnership plans $2bn solar investment in Oman

A partnership between Terra Nex and Middle East Best Select is poised to invest US$2 billion in solar plants and panel manufacturing in Oman.

Geothermal test will pour water into volcano to make power

Geothermal energy developers plan to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of a dormant volcano in central Oregon this summer to demonstrate technology they hope will give a boost to a green energy sector that has yet to live up to its promise.

Coalition to sue EPA over ash pond rules delay

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A coalition of 11 environmental and public health groups from seven states has announced plans to sue the government over the delay in finalizing rules to make coal ash ponds safer.

The numbers are grim: China's property bubble is heading for a spectacular burst, and its effect on the country's economy will be widespread.

FORTUNE -- The Chinese government's announcement last week that growth for 2011 slowed only slightly to a still impressive 9.2% was greeted enthusiastically by the world's stock markets. Investors also remain buoyant on China's future. They appear to be buying the official line that the gigantic property price bubble is gradually and smoothly deflating, posing little risk to an engine that's so crucial to the future of global trade.

But the math tells a different story. The housing frenzy has driven prices so high, so fast, that a crash on the scale of the real estate collapse in Japan in the 1990s is a virtual certainty. And China's already exaggerated official growth rate could take a pounding, all the way to the zone of the unthinkable, into the low single-digits.

A world in chaos? That may be a good thing.

FORTUNE -- Too much is happening in the world. Politically, economically, and culturally momentous news is occurring on every continent seemingly every day, and it's overwhelming for the hapless citizen striving to stay on top of it all. If you want to impose order on the chaos, at least in your own mind, here's a suggestion: Just remember a, b, c, d. Four large, interrelated forces are driving the action globally, and they conveniently begin with those letters.

Joe Oliver's Desperate Hour

Oliver would no doubt like to suppress the fact the tar sands are our last major oil reserve; that the easily extracted tar sands oil has been cherry-picked and the remaining reserves are subterranean and will be even more expensive to extract.

Eastern Canada is already heavily dependent on foreign oil imports.

Canada has exhausted most of our conventional oil reserves.

Why do we still ignore threats to our survival?

Resource depletion is the other side of the global warming coin; raw materials and energy sources are being over-exploited. Has the "peak oil" point been reached? Will "peak water" be the next focus? Giddens gives a concise history of energy use. Up to the 17th Century, wood was the source of fuel in Britain. Declining stocks forced the change to coal, a move which spawned the Industrial Revolution. Now, each of us in the West employs the equivalent of 150 energy slaves working full time. In recent decades the focus has shifted to oil. The history of its exploitation is the modern history of imperialism; oil and authoritarianism are bedfellows. Nor is the current supply situation clear. Saudi Arabia, for example, may be exaggerating the extent of its reserves, while the strategic hold of the United States on the Middle East is breaking down.

Apple shows us why manufacturing will never return from China

Reports such as SACOM's from May of 2011 have shown us of the stresses, low wages, and unsafe conditions of plants such as those used for manufacturing iDevices and other electronics. Yet, on the surface, a New York Times reports seems to point to more than just cheap labor as being the reason just about everything is manufacturered overseas. They're right too; it's not just cheap labor; it's virtual slave labor.

Urban gardens: The future of food?

It's easy to make fun of, but as more and more farming moves downtown, eating local is taking on a new flavor.

Getting food on the table - the plea for a greener revolution

The converging threats of population growth, climate change, volatile markets and unsustainable use of resources are now being shouted loud by leading scientists urging governments to work together to transform the way food is produced, distributed and consumed.

They want food on the table at international forums - on the agenda, not the buffet. There is, they insist, little time to waste in ushering in a new agricultural revolution, one which echoes the bumper yields of 1960-90, but without the associated environmental costs.

Geoengineering may improve rather than threaten global food security

London: Reflecting sunlight away from the Earth to combat global warming will more likely have a positive impact on global food production rather than negative, a new study has revealed.

Food Waste Denounced by Ministers as Almost 1 Billion People Go Hungry

Food waste was denounced by farm ministers and policy makers gathered in Berlin as almost 1 billion people in developing countries go hungry.

Consumers in rich countries dispose of 220 million metric tons of food waste every year, equal to the entire food output of sub-Saharan Africa, Jose Graziano da Silva, the director general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, told 64 agriculture ministers meeting in Berlin over the weekend.

City Grazing

The 60 goats living in the rail yard near Pier 96 at the Port of San Francisco contribute to the city of San Francisco in their own way, clearing brush as fire prevention and offering a green alternative to toxic herbicides. Perched on the edge of Bayview-Hunters Point, an industrial area, these hard workers avoid the busy roads and — incredibly — return home when called.

Putting plankton before people

In fact, debates around big dams expose greens for the self-contradictory people they are: they tend to oppose dams on the basis of their damage to biodiversity, but advocate dams when asked for examples of renewable energy sources that actually work. Big dams appear on the list of both the good and the bad.

Climate skeptics gathering influence in Tory Senate seats

OTTAWA — Some of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s newly-appointed senators are emerging as global-warming skeptics in the wake of aggressive government positions to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, slam environmentalists and downplay potential damage caused by Canadian oil and gas exploration.

“I felt like it is kind of an insult to be a denier for a long time,” said Sen. Bert Brown, last month at a parliamentary committee studying energy policies. “It feels pretty good this morning.”

Climate scientists back call for sceptic thinktank to reveal backers

Leading climate scientists have given their support to a Freedom of Information request seeking to disclose who is funding the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based climate sceptic thinktank chaired by the former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson.

Home, Home … on Less Range

Significant amounts of forage — nature’s free “service” to the cattlemen — will either be dessicated (under the warmer and drier projection) as the arid conditions in southeastern California inch northward or will be replaced by less-digestible scrub and brush (under the warmer and wetter projection), the study projects.

The loss will cost California ranchers tens of millions of dollars annually if it is warmer and wetter over the next 60 years or so, and $123 million to $209 million a year if it is warmer and drier, the article suggests.

A reason America is in the pitiful condition we find ourselves today is IMO because of the ignorance of the U. S. voter concerning the following:

Knowledge of civics
American history
The American form of government
Geography of America and the World
Market economy

To prove my point take this quiz. 2008 college student survey both entry and exit.


Then read this report.


IMO the TOD family should score considerably higher than the average American.
Studying my 1964 edition of The Great Books of the Western World for 45 years (all 54 volumes) provided me with considerable insight while selecting an answer to each question.


Hey I scored 78% on that questionnaire and I am from/live in Scotland. Can I have a green card please?

I'll have one too please, I got 82% and I'm a Canadian expat who has been in Australia for 42 years.

English 66% and i made some dumb mistakes. Unsurprisingly, I don't know how your government works in detail. I suspect though that most Americans don't either.

I don't know how your government works in detail.
I suspect though that most Americans don't either.

Unless they work in a field that requires such knowledge (i.e. in government administration or in the legal field) most Americans do not have a clue as to how their government actually works.

But then again, that is the goal of Adam Smith style specialization among the different cogs of our civilization.
To each his own specialized quantum of knowledge according to need to know.

Most Americans have no clear and present "need to know" (until after the wheels come off the wagon)

My husband is originally from England, but took a citizenship test here in the US that I guarantee you most American citizens wouldn't have passed. It included similar questions. I will say, though, that as someone who studied physics, chemistry and maths in school, I doubt he would have done very well on a quiz on British history/government. I often find I know more as a former English literature major, than he does about his own country! It was my experience living in the UK, that I really noticed the differences with American government, which then actually made me more aware of how our government is set up. Much like spending time outside of the US makes American wastefulness so much more noticeable than when you just live in the midst of it.

To prove my point take this quiz. 2008 college student survey

Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better?

I got 94%, but I went through the Canadian school system, not the American one. What does that tell you about the American school system? (Particularly since many of the questions were about American history and the American form of government).

I missed the ones about the Gettysburg Address and what a Civic Good was. Other than that, I nailed it.

It says something about the Canadian school system, too - maybe we study too much American history and politics and should concentrate more on Canada?

I got all 33. A few of the economic ones were opinions disguised as fact, but remembering our semi-official national religion (one currency, under god) gave the "right" answers.

Agree on the economic questions. I had difficulty answering "decrease taxes and increase spending" but I chose it anyway. Scored 31 of 33 for a '74 hs grad. Of course it helps that father was in the Army and we spent grade school years in VA.

Public school educated in Amurika (my hometown is in Michele Bachmann's district), I only missed one question (Gettysburg Address).

One thing about the American "school system" is the failure to apply Epistemology, the myth breaker.

Anyway, congrats on your high score.

It seems IMO that the goal of ISI in their report is to apply Epistemology to the American school curriculum.


Memorization and/or learning by rote will not accomplish that goal.

However if you can not recall the bill of rights it's quite difficult to determine your rights as a citizen; as an example among many.

I am an epistAmologist, but I can't even spell it.
Given the religious and political interests in maintaining mythical thinking, attempts to teach epistelmology would likly run into severe opposition. I think we will stay dumb, because major components of our society wish us to remain so.

Trained to have a very low self-estimation?


Not to worry.

It is a historical fact that the USA is the ground zero of propaganda, which anyone with a high school or self education can help overcome.

Much of that propaganda is now used against those wanting to free the nation of addiction to oil, so knowing the facts about that is enough of a reason to share those facts.

Keep up the good work.

Los Angeles Unified School district grad and I did not finish Jr College.

93.94 %

It helps being well read.

"I am entirely self educated - I went to LAUSD"

Seems like a consistent pattern here... I got 32 out of 33 and am also a non-US citizen.

Incidentally, I quibbled with a couple of the questions where the "correct" answers were clearly based on free market theory, rather than necessarily on real-world economic evidence. (Whether or not markets are "more efficient" than governments depends a lot on what sector you are looking at, what measure you are using, and what type of government. Asking "why" they are more efficient is therefore a really naughty, leading question.) I'm not sure what these were doing in a civics quiz to be honest, except perhaps as a not-so-subtle message to readers that all educated Americans should believe in the free market system...

I think we've established that a lot of people outside the United States know a great deal about the US.

Unfortunately, the reverse is not true - most Americans know almost nothing about the rest of the world. The US educational system concentrates on US history and government at the expense of studying world history and foreign governments.

The fact that most Americans they tested scored so low on this rather simple test indicates that a lot of them know very little about history, politics, or economics of any sort.

I got 29 out of 33

I know a thing or two about Mexico and Europe....

The questions are basic ones about how the US government and economic systems work. Even if you don't agree with the answers, you should know what they are, because that is how things work in the United States. The United States economy is based the free market system, so you give the free market answers to the questions.

In another country the answers might be different. In Canada, the basic constitutional principles are not "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness", they are "Peace, Order, and Good Government". In France they are "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity".

Similarly, the economic answers are somewhat different. As a best case, you would know what the basic principles are in a variety of different countries so you could compare their systems of government and economics.

That's another area where the US educational system falls down - they only learn about their own system - and apparently, often not even that.

82%. I'm Canadian.

Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better?

Can you please grade us Americans on the curve...

77%, despite being an Englishman with little detailed knowledge of American Constitution or history....

Ditto to being English. I got 81% but at my school, they thought those taking the sciences were uneducated philistines and so gave us a course on American History!

I was dissappointed by the question on the origin of the phrase "separation of Church and State"

The earliest person in North America to advocate a separation of church and state appears to have been Roger Williams, a religious reformer who founded not only the first Baptist Church on this continent, but also the colony of Rhode Island where he hoped to find greater religious freedom than among the Puritans he left behind in Boston. Contrary to what many believe, we even owe to him the words "wall of separation," rather than to Thomas Jefferson:

When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World. ("Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered," The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, Volume 1, page 108 (1644))

Williams argues that, when the separation between church and state is breached by the church, then the church itself suffers. Instead of a garden, it becomes an uncivilized wilderness, plagued by weeds and undergrowth. It is likely that Williams is referencing a parable in Matthew: ...


Ron, with all due respect, I find in reading the link you posted that Roger Williams regarded "the wilderness of the world" as something totally different from what Thomas Jefferson meant when he used the word state. Therefore I would still as ascribe the phrase "A wall of separation between Church and State" as originating with Thomas Jefferson.

Ron P.

Ron, I understand your point about world -v- state. But I believe that the guiding principle for both Jefferson and Williams was the idea that closely associating Religion with the State/World would end in corruption and that a 'wall of separation' was desirable. They probably disagreed with the direction of that corruption, though. :D

Does it matter? The first case of church/state merging was between the church and the Roam empire, under emperor Constantin. Amilennia later, the Roamempire were gone, and the church more corrupted than ever therafter. Now we all know the Empire wascorrupted at the time so it would be easy to say that the corption came from the state to the church. But I argue it comes from within; When you give any organisation a hiarchical structure and somepower, that organisation will begin toattract what I call power-people. In the case of the church they outmanovered those whowanted the church to do what they used to do. And I mean that will happen every time. It isessensially a "chemical reaction". Mix church and state, and you get coruption.

I want the church and state separated as far as west is from east. In order to keep the church clean from politics, to protect the church from the cancer that is wordly power.

Does it matter?

Jedi, for most of the western world the answer is no. For a host of historical reasons, Americans obsess about religion like no other people on earth, with the possible exception of the Saudis. Probably why they get along so well.

In almost every other country, the separation of church and state is not even on the radar, even when the distinction is much more blurred than in the US. Almost every US politician has to mouth the words, "God bless" or "God bless America", to get any serious traction. Elsewhere, that would raise more eyebrows than votes.

For outsiders looking in, it is a very strange phenomenon to witness.

Oh, I dunno. Maybe it's more faintly on the radar, but disestablishment turns up in Britain and other EU countries every now and then.

Disestablishment would save the dilemma facing the Right Honourable Jim Hacker in the memorable,

"Yes, Prime Minister" - Season: 1 Episode: 7 - The Bishops Gambit

Sir Humphrey: "The Church is looking for a candidate to maintain the balance."

Old friend: "What balance?"

Sir Humphrey: "Those who believe in God and those who don't"

Old friend: "Is there anyone in the Church who doesn't believe in God?"

Sir Humphrey: "Oh yes, most of the bishops?"

Satire armed with slight exaggeration regarding the bishops, but perhaps less so about the religious indifference of the British public.

Its sort of ironic. Many of the European countries have a Christian Democratic party, and many more have an official state religion. But religiosity is very low, and and we say off the radar screen.

I suspect it has to do with historical memory -or lack thereof. The Europenas remember the century or more of brutal fighting between Catholic and Protestant (mainly). The US which was (largely) initially founded by Europeans escaping religious persecution, have now completely forgotten about the dangers of joining church and state.

E of S, I've tried to come to some understanding as to how the US got "religion" but it defies simple explanations, at least any I can come up with.

The Thirty Years War certainly did make continental Europeans wary of religious extremism (in some ways foreshadowing the Enlightenment), as did the English Civil War in Britain (which mutated Christianity into later deism). Yet America was primarily settled after both those cataclysmic events and by Europeans. Could it have been the nature of English Protestant sectarianism itself? Perhaps. What about Canada or Australia or New Zealand and other places throughout the globe settled primarily by British colonists? To wit, why did Anglo-Saxon Protestantism find such deep roots in America but fall on harder soil elsewhere?

An even deeper question, for me, is whether this American religiosity is all that old. The Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment. If anything, they were deists. Further along, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were certainly men of science and viewed evolution as a matter of biology. Many presidents were church goers, yes, but it seems as though religion became more important in federal politics - not less - in the closing decades of the 20th century. Could it have been the advent of mega-churches? The exploitation of television by media savvy preachers? The politicization of the Southern Baptist convention? All of the above? None of the above? Others know better than me.

Meanwhile, what ever happened to mainstream Christianity - the type so reminiscent of the Eisenhower era - like the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians? As much as evangelicals lurched to the right, a even larger body of Christians lurched to the left, embracing gender and identity politics, the environment, and anti-corporatism. Where do they stack up in the scheme of things? When and how did they lose their voice in the political and social discourse?

I, like you, find it fascinating. Yet in seeking an explanation I'm forced to accept it as a given. It is what it is.

I've wondered about that issue myself. I have some speculations, but have never really read any professional studies.

why did Anglo-Saxon Protestantism find such deep roots in America but fall on harder soil elsewhere?

Some claim is because we started out with extremists to begin with, i.e. the earliest settlers were often religious refugees from Europe. But, I don't buy that. We've had so much emmigration since then, that the early social groupings should have been overwhelmed. And the most obvious extremist colony would have been the Puritans, yet Boston is among the most liberal of US cities.

I suspect it has more to do with the differing histories from say 1789 to present. In Europe the royalist governing structure was underpinned by religion, and I suspect the process of gradual democratization saw religion as a potential opponent, so perhaps attitudes towards religion that formed during that period were more ambivalent. Then Europe effectively self-destructed twice during the first half of the twentieth century. I suspect distrust of a lot of ism's has something to do with it. And maybe the Catholic churches rather poor record during WW2 as well.
On this side of the pond, the European settlers had a continent, which was easy to wrest away from the natives, and originally plenty of nearly untouched resources, with which to thrive. So they were able to compare there progress to the old (overpopulated) world, and arrogantly decide that they were somehow better, specially choosen by god. So I think maybe this created a sort of reinforcement between patriotism and religion.
I'm not so sure, we got religion recently. Go back and read the Batle Hymm of the Republic, which was the song of the northern side of the civil war. It very much describes the conflict as a kind of crusade. Then we had William Jennings Byrant in the early 20th C. The modern fundies have nothing on him -except that he came close to winning the presidency. I think its more a question of why religiosity declined so rapidly in much of Europe, but barely at all in the US. The curent extremism, is probably a reaction to the fear (by many hard core religious types), that the same process of secularism becoming ascendant will happen here, and they are fighting a desperate rearguard action against modernity.

what ever happened to mainstream Christianity - the type so reminiscent of the Eisenhower era - like the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians? As much as evangelicals lurched to the right, a even larger body of Christians lurched to the left

Partly, I think one thing thats happened. The less conservative denominations in my opinion, just don't hold members in thrall. I grew up in Unitarianism, where it seemed belief in god was optional. And it just didn't seem important to attend. So I suspect the more liberal denominations suffer from people drifting away. They probably also don't aggressively recruit new members.
The modern politicization seems to have begun with the anti-abortion movement, and seems to have grown from that. I think its largely a reaction against some of the social changes that many consider to me immoral or non Christian, such as out of wedlock parenthood, gays, vulgar lyrics in popular music.

One explanation is that in most European countries there is an established or at least "traditional" Church. It acts as an old-fashioned monopoly (usually with some sort of state support) so has no particular need/interest in keeping its "consumers" happy. Nevertheless the dominance of the official Church crowds out rivals, since it is the focal point for traditional marriages, deaths, and birth celebrations. Those who still have Christian leanings show up for these events, but otherwise are bored silly by the regular services, so don't bother to attend.

Whereas in US, churches are privatised and highly competitive, and hence a form of consumerism takes over.

Market forces in everything really...

So I suspect the more liberal denominations suffer from people drifting away.

This has been established down to the scientific level. Liberal churches do not atract people. "So what are your opinions?" "Whatever you like them to be!" Then why would anyone care? The conservative church, you either love it or hate it. The liberals are like "so what?" to most people.

So there is a natural selection. The liberals die out, the conservative live on. And stay on the scene.

My involvement in Liberal religion is very similar to my activities a Peak Oil Discussion Board. It's a place full of smart, hungry people who are drawn by many competing interests in life, but they are held there by a compelling idea, even if they are constantly reminded that they are in a terrible minority in their culture, and that most couldn't give a hoot about these ideas.

But 'Die Out'? I haven't seen that happening, and they drift in as fast as they drift away.. I think that's just the nature of things.

But as far as Dying Out is concerned, your comment reminded me a little of Steinbeck... (One of the Saints of Unitarian Universalists, if I may..)

Steinbeck said “I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one . . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, and in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil... and it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue is immortal.”

Timshel.. 'Thou Mayest have dominion over evil.'

Die out and die out... They don't have vitlity in the long run. But new churches pop up all the time. Replacing the old ones.

Hi (again) enemy

I have anecdotal evidence (one case) - a dear friend who subscribes to what one might call conservative Christianity (though this person does not evangelize) told me (I quote verbatim): "I'm against abortion and against gay marriage, so I vote Republican." Out of wedlock parenthood is not lumped in with these previous two issues, and vulgar lyrics - well, I guess just a non-starter.

Sometimes I'm just speechless, as a nuanced discussion requires the right conditions. And some energy I couldn't muster up at the time.

A proper discussion requires a great deal of time and energy, and good faith effort by both sides. Why do you believe that? Have you examined the assumptions that lead to that conclusion? What about the likely consequencies if society tahes you up on your suggestions? What about alternatives? What data supports/refutes your view of how human societies work?.....
At a minimum it would take a week.

Has your friend adopted at least one or two orphans with birth defects?

It seems to me that if you are truly "pro-life", you would give more of a darn for the sufferings of the anatomically more developed embryos than for those whose development was cut short long before they could be truly fully human. So I ask again, has your "pro-life" friend adopted at least two orphans with severe birth defects?

I will not engage in a abortion-debate, but have you asked those born with anatomical defects if they consider themself unlucky to not be aborted? Wrong of me to frase it as a qustion. I know you have not. Because they do not. They may consider themself unlucky to be born with the defect, but not to have been born.

You remind me of a TV debate a few years ago. The issue came up weather we should have state prostitute to tender to the sexual needs of the anatomically defect. So in the TV-studio you had those for and those agains, and one guy who wish he could move as gracefully as Stephen Hawking. The pro- and againts- people were debating the sexual needs of the anatomically defect back and forth, and then the host asked the one who actually was handicapped what he thought. He said he did not need no prostitutes. The debate raged on. Then you heard him again saying "but realy, I do not need any prostitutes". Nobody gave a darn about him.

not engage in a abortion-debate

TOD is not the place for this.
I was merely trying to point out by example that the reason given (we love life) for the anti-abortion stance is a false and hypocritical one. There is another, much truer reason why some oppose abortion, but they dare not utter it. The church needs bodies. Many bodies. To service its goals.

In other words, for some of the TPTB, over-population is considered a "good" thing.

The church needs bodies. Many bodies. To service its goals.

The Mormons worked on this one for quite a while. But really - I think in almost all cases, a prohibition on abortion (and in fact all contraception) is men trying to control and restrict the scary sexuality of women. Goes hand-in-hand with all religions being mind control, it seems to me.

Think about this then:

The military-industrial complex needs bodies. Many bodies. To service its goals.

Equally as true.

There are many special interest groups in or society who benefit from a ban against abortions.
We "love life" because, how else are we going to kill more of it and make a profit from the process?

America diverged: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Great_Awakening

Incidentally, Eisenhower was not raised in a mainline church, no matter how Midwestern bland he was.

The increasing political importance of religion in the closing decades of the 20th was mostly about Roe v. Wade.

Many presidents were church goers, yes, but it seems as though religion became more important in federal politics - not less - in the closing decades of the 20th century. Could it have been the advent of mega-churches? The exploitation of television by media savvy preachers? The politicization of the Southern Baptist convention? All of the above? None of the above? Others know better than me.

The US has had periodic waves of religious fervor through much of its history. Eg, see the Wikipedia article on "Great Awakenings" as a starting point for further research. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote pieces that were strongly critical of churches that he perceived to be trying to put a theocracy in place (he seemed to be particularly suspicious of the Christian Science people).

Fascinating stuff seen from this side of the pond.
America seems to have founded a new complete religion or two as well. Mormons have a whole mythological history and scripture (revealed truth) do they not? Not sure whether to count Jehova's Witness or the various forms of New Age supernatural belief. Europe despite some desperate lingerings of pope/anti-pope divide has not seen so much novelty it seems? Perhaps Steiner? Ain't Western civilization a funny thing!

Don't forget Scientology. Also there have been quite a few cults around that never quite made it to the big leagues.

Is Scientology included in the New Age unbrella, or is it so distinct so as to deserve its own unique category.

New age was all crystals, Wicca, happy thoughts and being one with nature...blah blah..quantum...blah.

Scientology was space aliens and heavy recruitment techniques.

I'd put them as separate on philosophical grounds.

Americans obsess about religion like no other people on earth, with the possible exception of the Saudis.

Israel, a State based on religion doesn't get a shout out?

During World War II, when you-know-who came out with their "final solution" answer, it mattered not whether one practiced the Hebraic religion or not. It was blood line that counted. You were Jewish based on blood. It is still true today. Jews are an ethnic group. (And proud of it. Need we mention Einstein and a large number of other Nobel prize winners for an ethnic group so tiny in actual numbers that it doesn't show on the histogram?) Israel is a country based on ethnic heritage just as is France, Germany and Japan.

I think the vast majority of Jews are actually pretty secular. However the Jewish fundamentalists are gaining in the demographic. I think this is another case of trying to grow via high birth rate. There were scandalous reports of attcks on young schoolgirls for not dressing as the conservatives wanted. They were acting just like you'd expect the Taliban to.

Yeah, there is civil strife in Israel between the hardcore fundamentalist orthodox Jews in Israel and rest of the Israelis since the hardcore orthodox don't work, collect a stipend, and make lots of unreasonable (IMHO) demands for conservative laws. The rest of the Israelis are not so happy to pay for the non-workers and get subjected to their conservative laws.

The Roman Empire morphed into the Holy Roman Empire, which morphed into Europe, which morphed into The West. The Church a department of Empire since Constantine, offering blessing of the enterprise, and some moderation of its administration. Now all fading and fragmenting into history.

Ron, with all due respect, I find in reading the link you posted that Roger Williams regarded "the wilderness of the world" as something totally different from what Thomas Jefferson meant when he used the word state. Therefore I would still as ascribe the phrase "A wall of separation between Church and State" as originating with Thomas Jefferson.

Ron P.

What score did you get?

32/33. I got the taxes = government spending one wrong by misremembering my terms. Oh well. I agree that some of the questions were more about the civic religion of economics, which doesn't have right answers in the same sense as, say, physics.

While it may be lamentable that American college grads don't score well, it does make sense. After all, my 97% doesn't entitle me to any more authority or influence in decision-making, does it? My vote's as good as the guy who prefers the candidate with whiter teeth. And in a nation with 100 million or so voters, what's the point? Whoever wins the Presidency in 2012 will do it no matter what I do on Election Day, and that's presuming there's a genuine difference between the major parties.

Moreover, the state doesn't listen to me beyond my vote. Why would it? It exists to empower and enrich a small class of people, and my thoughts and ideas don't flatter that group or provide it with more power or money. Why exactly would they take notice of me or care about my civics score?

Same here, 32/33. Missed the question about Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. My brain must be rusty this morning.

Not bad for a Canuck but bias wise, I do like history and am a bit of political junkie.

IMHO, civics ought to be high on everyone's list. As someone pointed out here a while back (at least I think it was on TOD?), a grasp of civics and a willingness to engage in the public life of a community is what distinguishes citizens from civilians. Every country has civilians. A healthy political economy, however, works best through a well-informed and active citizenry.

A healthy political economy, however, works best through a well-informed and active citizenry.

Indeed. That is why I have always been a fan of mandatory voting, as exists in Australia. It at least guarantees the participation of all civilians in the election process, and since they have to vote, more people take an interest in civic matters. So, to use your excellent distinction, I would say that more of them become active citizens.

A high level of education, literacy etc in Australia helps too...

I should have scored higher....

The report is not particularly interested in your score; it is more interested in educating and improving the knowledge of the average voter so they can better respond to the BS put forth by many Politicians.

78.79% Not bad for a french Canadian. I missed question related to the us constitution and specific historical event. I missed two question for which my answer was good for me, but it seems that it was not the best one.

Bien vu!

I only answered 28 out of 33 correctly — 84.85 %. Not too bad.

Same here. 28 out of 33.

But then again I was on the phone carrying on a conversation and trying to finish the test in background mode.
I disagree with the taxes=spending answer. Per person taxes is not all of government revenues. We have tariffs, licensing fees, other sources of revenue. So the "correct" answer is wrong. Revenues are not made up of per/person "taxes" times number of tax payers.

My list would be topped by physics, biology (chemistry would be nice), geology, and psychology. But most of all, regardless of the subjects, critical thinking broadly applied.

Question Everything

The ISI report does not address those subjects; as those subjects show considerable educational improvement with the current education system.

How the Finnish school system outshines U.S. education

... "The [Finnish] curricula are very much focused on critical thinking and problem solving, project-based learning, and learning to learn," she said. "There is a lot of collaboration in the classroom."

... Sahlberg identified the biggest obstacle in the U.S. system as the same policy intended to revolutionize education. "If I could change one thing in policy, I would seriously rethink the role of standardized testing," he said in an interview with the Stanford News Service. "No high-performing nation in the world has been successful using the policies that the United States is using."

Question Everything


Why not?

If you have to ask why, then you are not questioning enough!

My list would be topped by physics, biology (chemistry would be nice), geology, and psychology.

Notwithstanding the fact I got 94% on this (rather simple) test of American history and civics, the Canadian school system I went through (in Alberta) was much stronger on the sciences and mathematics.

Education in Canada is regulated at the provincial level and there is a lot of regional variation, but Alberta is toward the top of the global pyramid on science and math.

Americans who came into our school system might have done okay on history and civics, but when it came to the sciences and mathematics, they were so far behind it wasn't funny. It was a really bad experience for a lot of of them.

Mind you, we had a student from Hong Kong, and he was far ahead of us Canadians on mathematics. Fortunately, we could hold our own on science, and were way ahead on US history.

Alberta is toward the top of the global pyramid on science and math.

So how do you stack up against Finland, Singapore, and Shanghai?

Alberta is approximately the same as Finland and Singapore in sciences and maths (a little ahead in sciences, a little behind in maths), but significantly behind Shanghai (as is everybody else).

Wow! Thats pretty darned good in my opinion.

I got 32 out of 33 — 96.97 % and I didn't cheat (promise)!

I guess that disqualifies me from ever running for office. I'm far too well informed to be a U.S. politician --especially a Republican.


TOD member...

You'd get my vote....

I answered 28 out of 33 correctly — 84.85 %
I had most education in China, only had 1 year in the states, I gave up a chance for applying green card because I wish I could be proud for what I know, not being isolated because I know too much and have an A on science in public school. (I can not afford a private one) I really do not understand why some students in US public school enjoy a lower score and disgust anyone with a slightly higer one.

31/33, not bad for an aussie

Knowledge of civics
American history
The American form of government
Geography of America and the World
Market economy

It gets worse:


Makes you wonder what Professor Newt really means when he accuses people of being ignorant of American history, no?

Hey I got 28 out of 33 and I'm a Canadian too, although I admit that I just guessed on some of the questions. It appears that non-americans are doing better than americans on this test. Either that or the average TOD blogger is simply much better informed than average.

Seems like the majority of posters revealing their scores do not originally come from the U.S.

Well OK. I'm US born/educated & missed only one. I think the scores of TODers is much more a reflection of overall intelligence, reading comprehension, something I'll call 'societal seriousness' (as opposed to paying attention to the Kardashians et. al.) etc. The ignorant masses of any country are not here on TOD. We are a self-selected group.

Well, it is apparent that TODers, regardless of whether they are from the US or not, are much more aware of how the American government and economic system work than the average American.

One is reminded of the sci-fi novel, The Sheep Look Up

By the end of the book rioting and civil unrest in the United States, due to a combination of poor health, poor sanitation, lack of food, lack of services, ineffectiveness of services (medical, policing), disillusionment with government/companies, oppressive government, civil unrest, high incidence of birth defects (pollution-induced), and other factors results in a country wide state of riot and civil unrest; all services (military, government, private, infrastructure) break down.

One would hope that would not become the reality, but at this point in time, one would not be sure.

I scored 30/33 I did not go to school in the US.

While most of us have done well, isn't the question that needs asking: why did 'college educators' only score 55%? Surely they must know how to "play" multiple choice exams, if nothing else?

33/33. I went to U.S. public schools in bad neighborhoods (for 6.5 years of formal schooling from grades 4-12) and a 2nd tier state university (where I took no history or political science or economics in route to my Electrical Engineering BSEE, I took only 2 courses which were not STEM due to AP credits). I suspect that a lot of the 'wrong' answers by educators and seniors at elite schools have to do with the test being A)low-stakes but mandatory, B)politically biased, so that liberals are tempted to select wrong answers to be contrary.

29/33 Brit in Mexico not American and haven't really ever studied the USA just picked up bits in passing. If the American students do so badly I shudder to think what standards the schools have, if any.


I live in California....

I don't remember details but I do remember reading once that California ranks one of the lowest in spending per pupil....

I think there were several southern states that ranked lower........

I went to California schools from 1948 to 1979, including a late stint in graduate school. 31/33 and I can argue about the ones I missed. But then I may have guessed once or twice too. The published scores are apalling, especially the office holders. But even the higher scores of the others suggests at least some of what is wrong with the current state of American democracy.

Pre prop-13 california was number one. Now it is vying for last place with Mississippi. Like most places in America it is very gepgraphically variable. The top UC campuses (Berkeley, UCLA, SanDiego?) are still by a substantial margin the best public universities in the country. But, one wonders for how much longer.

Nice quiz, dipchip, thank you for sharing.

Things of this nature keeps one's mind tuned up and sharper than otherwise.


I am a U.S. American.

Time to hit the hay!

Hi dipchip,

This was fun, if a little embarrassing.

Thank goodness for Wikipedia. That's all I have to say. :)

Yeah. Why should we fill our heads with useless factoids when we have Google?

/just a wee bit of sarc/

I got 76%, which quite surprised me. Some of the names I saw for the first time in my life.

Don't let them brain wash you into thinking they own the "correct" answers.
Don't let them brain wash you into thinking this "test" is the be all and end all determination of how informed you are regarding American politics.

School is all about making you believe the teacher is a god rather than a mere and fallible human being.

"School is all about making you believe the teacher is a god rather than a mere and fallible human being."

Sorry if that's been your experience. I know a lot of really great teachers and know that they are not part of this game.. not saying that problem you point out doesn't exist, it does, but you do your argument a disservice to paint it in the extreme like that.

Why do you think Americans have such a conflicted view about education, with attitudes that paint the whole thing as a scam, both from the left AND from the right?

One of the problems of being a nation arisen from a Revolution against aristocratic elites (as we start bending towards another one..), is that you raise generations who refuse to have ANY of the strengths of the people they fought, including developing a strong foundation in Science, History and Literacy.. etc.

The fault in the American school system lies not with its teachers, dear Horatio, but with its administrative class.
They are the ones who dictate the test and the grade (as well as the "correct" answer to each question).

.. but that Ed System is not really the Absolute Hegemony you seem to be describing, and the way you have described it with absolutes above makes it seem like you, too, have bought into the idea of such Euclidean Rights and Wrongs. I'm just asking that you back off the black/white a bit, as I feel it is as much a part of the mentality that has put us in this bind. It's not Angels and Devils.. there's a lot to fix, and a need for flexibility and patience.

My daughter is in the Portland Public Schools, but in a newly structured, Teacher Led School, while several other schools in the district are creating expeditionary programs and similar experiments that I have seen directly encourage critical thinking and independent discovery. There is, as there must be for various practical considerations, some bowing down to the NCLB mandates and such, but these educators are not hog-tied, and are quite aware of the overarching systemic problems that they have to dance around in order to do their work.

The truth is somewhere in the midst of all the extremes..


I get the sense that you or a family member is in the teaching profession.

Don't get me wrong. I was fortunate to have more than my fair share of great teachers when working my way through the educational system, and to them I am eternally grateful. (I've also had some pretty bad teachers as well.)

However, from the step-backed and bird's eye view of the American educational system, it is mostly a mass production system with very little in the way of quality control. And what is scariest of all is that in some states, the loonies are in charge of the asylum.

Well.. I think it's a bit like Renewables.. you have to pick where you're going to live and raise your family with an eye towards any number of factors.. You can't necessarily get good solar and good math just any old place. I do recognize that there are huge problems around education.. but these administrators didn't create this situation in a vacuum. It's deeply cultural.. and yes, it's not exactly challenged by a business model that doesn't want to pay for anything intangible to the bottom line, while the companies are also quick to holler that the job candidates don't have the skills needed.

I'm hardly saying 'we don't have a problem, cuz teachers are just great!' .. but we don't even start to address the real problems by exaggerating the situation, and ignoring the many babes in the bathwater.. (I think that's the cue for the Van Halen tune, right?)

But at least you came around to 'Mostly' in your last remarks.. that's all I ask! :)

The biggest determinants of the outcome, are the students peergroup attitudes, and what happens in the home. I taught my kids to read at maybe the second or third grade level long before they encountered it in the first grade (as my parents did with me). When the school discoverd that could real it was like WTF, how did you do it? Similarly with math. If you have parents that value education, and have a decent understanding of subject matter and they know some decent techniques, the difference can be very startling. But in the US in poorer neighborhoods, these factors are all against the students success, and then you add in a crappy school on top of that.

Hi enemy

Exactly so. Although I'd reverse the order, put parents first, and greatly decrease weight on peer group, since a lot of "peer group" is also under the (at least theoretical) control and/or guidance of parents. Parents can do a lot towards creating healthy community and positive networks, and include their children in that. Unfortunately, many - most? - don't.

Its just that I'd read something, which claimed peer group was the most important variable. Of course parents of an individual family can influence peer selection. Parents as a community have a lot of influence in the available peers. But so does the general culture. Kids pick up a lot of memes and attitudes from cultural influences, movies, TV shows, music, schools, boy scouts......

Hi enemy,

I just wrote a long (and thoughtful, well-researched -if I do say so myself) reply, which I should have first written separately, because...suddenly, it is forever lost.

Let me just say: the author of the book which makes that claim about peer group: I believe her assumptions, methods and conclusions are in error. Boy, I'm sorry I lost my post.

But besides that: I think, WRT, the author and the book, there was something else going on. There was an interview with her in the LAT, where she talked about her own childhood.

IMVHO, her parents neglected her at a certain point, and she was (then) heavily influenced by her peers. Then, in her adult attempts to deal with what actually happened to her, she faced a dilemma of "how to process" - i.e., how to find a way to talk about and face her actual losses and experiences. So, my view is: she lacked "the model" and a way to do this, and coming up against the realization of how much she could have had (in a healthier, more functional, or...with parents who had "more" of what she needed)...she didn't want to blame her parents, and/or couldn't find and didn't have any other way to see it, so she constructed an elaborate hypothesis that basically says parents don't count much anyway.

If you see what I mean.

Well, there's a lot more I could say. The point is: as a friend of mine says "Everybody does the best they can with what they have to work with."

Kind of facile, and yet quite true (IMVHO). Parents can/often lack skills, lack vision...lack an understanding of how great their influence actually is, and what the possibilities are.

Yes, kids pick up a lot. OTOH, parents have a huge range of options in not only the what of what's around them, but in the "how" as in "how are we going to respond to this?"

For an example of parents who did something "different" - see this: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/177/american-limbo. The second entry down on "The family that flees together, trees together."

I found it quite interesting.

And let me not pass by the opportunity to share favorite links (lots of free info on these sites!) I've shared before. www.cnvc.org, www.gordontraining.com. Really valuable information.

Aniya thanks for the link, that was a great example of balanced reporting. Enlightening stuff.

A reason America is in the pitiful condition we find ourselves today is IMO because of the ignorance of the U. S. voter concerning the following:

Knowledge of civics
American history
The American form of government
Geography of America and the World
Market economy

I have to disagree - I think your pitiful condition results from (a) an appalling system of government based on graft and influence, (b) a ruthless ruling class that has been unchallenged for at least 150 years, and (c) governments spending much more than they take in - to buy votes - and see (a).

But carry on - and I scored 30 of 33 (Australian).

Actually, a lot of the problems in the US result from the poor state of their educational system. This may not be obvious from the perspective of Australia (which has a much better educational system), but if you look at the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, you will see the problem:

PISA Scores (2009)

# Country Maths Sciences Reading TOTAL
1 Shanghai, China   600 575 556 1731
2 Hong Kong 555 549 533 1637
3 Finland 541 554 536 1631
4 Singapore 562 542 526 1630
5 South Korea 546 538 539 1623
6 Japan 529 539 520 1588
7 Canada 527 529 524 1580
8 New Zealand 519 532 521 1572
9 Taiwan 543 520 495 1558
10 Netherlands 526 522 508 1556
11 Australia 514 527 515 1556
12 Switzerland 534 517 501 1552
13 Germany 513 520 497 1530
14 Belgium 515 507 506 1528
15 Poland 495 508 500 1503
16 Iceland 507 496 500 1503
17 United Kingdom 492 514 494 1500
18 Denmark 503 499 495 1497
19 Norway 494 500 503 1497
20 France 497 498 496 1491
21 United States 487 502 500 1489

The results of this seem to be reflected in this US history/civics test. The Canadians, Australians, and some Brits seem to know more about the US than most Americans.

If people don't really understand math and can't read very well, it is difficult for them to understand why their country is not doing very well. It is true that China isn't a democracy, but the Chinese do know how to make their economy work effectively.

It is true that the US is a democracy, but based on the stated scores on this test, the majority of its population don't know how their political and economic systems work, and don't understand why they are failing.

I remember reading that the US easily rises near the top if you exclude a couple of ethnic groups from the statistics.

One of the advantages that Canada has is that its educational system pulls ethnic groups up to nearly the same level that Anglo-Saxon Protestants score. That has been cited by the international educational experts as one of the successes of the Canadian system.

Canada has a much higher immigration rate than the US. Don't blame the immigrant children for failing - blame the governments for not doing more to assist them.

Sometimes I wish I lived in Vancouver....

pulls ethnic groups up to nearly the same level that Anglo-Saxon Protestants

In the US, if we could pull the Anglo-Saxon Protestants (plus Catholics) up to nearly the level as the children of Asian immigrants, we would rival Shanghai.

Yes, the ethnic Chinese immigrants do have the advantage that they consider educating their children to be their responsibility, and if their kids aren't learning, it's both their and their children's fault. They are quite serious about it, unlike a lot of other parents.

Not just Chinese. I think Japanese, Koreans, and Indians have similar attitudes. Although results can be a bit mixed. Pressure can be relentless, and frequently no excuses are tolerated. Having seen the effects of mental problems, I shudder to think what happens to the asian kid, who has a mental issue, and his parents try to beat it out of him. In my own (anglo) case extreme pressure was self generated not external. But it ended up creating a sort of brain-alergy against certain types of math. So I think a high pressure approach is more likely to lead to a nasty collapse late in the game. My kids are pretty successful, top couple of percent gradewise. We never pushed them, they picked up the importance of educational attainment almost by osmosis. Lead by example, rather than power relationship. We may have introduced them to certain subject areas, but beyond mild suggestions, they choose their own interests.

I remember reading that the US easily rises near the top if you exclude a couple of ethnic groups from the statistics.

Thank you.....

No offense taken.....

Do you think I would have scored better than 87% if I were Anglo...???


I'm an American
I scored about the same as foreigners on this thread....

I have no doubts about the very serious short-comings of much of the US education system (my Australian sister-in-law spent 15 years getting her two boys through the system, tearing her hair out most of that time).

I just don't think a large under-class (even a college grad class) that is as dumb as pig-dribble (to misquote Bill Bryson) - is the main cause (or even a primary cause) of the country's malaise.

Dysfunctional governance and a kleptocratic dominant class are much more proximate causes to my mind - and of course they go together.

I tend to disagree: No government can function with the culture of ignorance present in the US today. The lack of education envelopes all disciplines.

I wouldn't say no government can function. One like we have (or had), which requires a high degree of citizen input and expertise seems doomed. Autocratic or Monarchy systems have functioned in the past using a small expert class. But a democracy, with an ignorant people is in trouble. Its just too easy for opportunists to lead them in dangerous directions.

The casuality runs both ways, poor knowledge and thinking skills leads to your a,b,c, which reinforces the poor skills for the following generation. Its not so important to determine whether the chicken or the egg is more fundamental, breaking the chain is what matters.

29/33 I probably made about 8 50/50 guesses, so its a fair score.

Some of the distractors were hilarious. It was worth doing just to see what sort of weird things Americans believe about themselves.

"You answered 29 out of 33 correctly — 87.88 %"

Live in L.A.

Do I have any excuses for not doing better...???

You answered 29 out of 33 correctly — 87.88 %

If you have any comments or questions about the quiz, please email americancivicliteracy@isi.org.

You can consult the following table to see how citizens and elected officials scored on each question.

Incorrect Answers
Question: In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared that important parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. President Roosevelt responded by threatening to:
Your Answer: override the Supreme Court’s decisions by gaining three-quarter majorities in both houses of Congress
Correct Answer: appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
Question: What impact did the Anti-Federalists have on the United States Constitution?
Your Answer: their influence ensured that the federal government would maintain a standing army
Correct Answer: their arguments helped lead to the adoption of the Bill of Rights
Question: What was the source of the following phrase: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”?
Your Answer: U.S. Constitution
Correct Answer: Gettysburg Address
Question: If taxes equal government spending, then:
Your Answer: printing money no longer causes inflation
Correct Answer: tax per person equals government spending per person on average

Where's the PEAK OIL quiz....?

I have been googling my butt off looking but no luck; however we could commission the perfect candidate Heading Out.

IMO it's a great idea for TOD. Perhaps we could each submit a question.

75.76 %

Had there been blanks and not multiple answears I'd had no chance. OTOH there ws some words I did not know,and had tocheck an opotion without knowing what it meant.

My final comment: Having read the report first I expected the test to be quite difficult; however post test I was simply outraged with the US education system.

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %

Incorrect Answers
Question: In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared that important parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. President Roosevelt responded by threatening to:

Correct Answer: appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views

Your Answer: impeach several Supreme Court justices
My error was thinking that FDR attempted to impeach rather than replace.

My education started in 1940 in a rural one room school thru 8 grades with never more than 10 students or less than 5. My high school class included 13 students and the entire school enrollment averaged 40.

I should point out that my father received an agricultural degree from the U Nebraska class of 1916; and expected nothing less from his children.

Pretty sure that what FDR attempted was to expand the court from, I believe, 9 to 15, so he could load it with additional judges 'on his side'. No impeachment, nor replacement. Didn't fly, of course.

It didn't happen because the Court stopped blocking his initiatives: the 'switch in time that saved nine.' His court-packing threat worked without being implemented.

Surprised myself, 94%

30/33. Australian, public-school education, no higer-ed qualifications. I dispute some of the answers I got 'correct', however.

Last time I studied this stuff was 35 years ago--but I still got 94%. Guess my memory isn't as bad as I thought. :-)

The Daily Bell, a libertarian site from The Confederation of Helvetian State has an outstanding interview with Gerald Celente. This is a close encounter with reality and if you don’t know who Celente is please ignore as you are already beyond hope. It contains such gems as the Republicans are “true believers” of their own crap while the Democrats simply lie. This should incite the Yellow Dog Democrats that infest this site. I am sure nobody agrees with everything Celente says. His predictions have been quite accurate except for believing MF Global. If you have time click on the green highlighted words/ phrases. Some are subjective but are educational.


Gerald is mostly right. Just as I am sure he does not agree 100% with my views, and I do not with his, by and large this was a great interview. It certainly is not the normal propwash we read every day, is it?

Thanks for the link!


Wow. That man sure has a low opinion of conservatives.

On the contrary. He has a low opinion of liberals.

No, wait! He sees things as they really are, and forms his opinions accordingly.


Well, he says the liberals are knowingly lying out their posteriors, but the conservatives just don't know any better.

Is ignorance or dishonesty worse?

I personally think that both of the main US political factions have a more-or-less equal blend of both, and to attribute a particular set of, for want of a better term, "rationality characteristics" to each side is just continuing to play the same old game.

I think the question should be is willfull ignorance or dishonesty worse? because there is no excuse for being ignorant of the major issues of this time with all the information available with a flick of the keyboard. A lot of people are happily misinformed as long as the misinformation suits their ideology/worldview.

This all reminds me of

"We're both rotten". "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten".

I thought I was quite knowledgeable on survival, preparedness, and economic collapse from the forthcoming “events”. There is a new site that is the ultimate in doomer preparation. You slackers who read this should realize how far behind the curve you are. If you prepare for the absolute worst you will not be caught short.

Of course everyone has their own opinion of what the absolute worst entails.


The problem with survival is that the mortality for every human being is 100%. Believe me, if you "survive" then you'll end up with dementia and arthritis in a nursing home, unable to see or hear, and peeing over yourself.

Of course, there's children, but that's more what sort of culture and skills you want to pass on.

I'm somewhat of a survivalist, but feel guilty about it. What else can I do? It's an existential response to civilizational collapse.

Given the decisions he's made, you have to give the guy credit for thinking some of the problems through. OTOH, it did motivate me to spend part of this morning finally writing my little essay on why I am not a survivalist.

Hi Roysyl,

I found links on my website that led me here. I came to say thank you for posting my link and was taken aback by some of the comments. I have never considered myself a survivalist. To me these were kooks who ran around in fatigues and played weekend wargames or used paint ball or some other such thing. I didn't have that luxury. When i was 18 I was trained and went to Vietnam. Now that is a survival school. I was shot twice, but it wasn't with a paintball. I did a lot of things stupid teenagers do. All in all, I saw a lot of friends die, a lot of people die, and I saw several countries go through economic/political/military collapse.

After I left the military I became a "contractor". I did that for a few years and realized my life expectancy was short and I had two sons I wanted to see grow up.

I raised my boys to manhood only to see one killed.

No, I am not a survivalist, by God, I am a survivor. Of the 50 of us trained together there are 7 left. Agent Orange has eaten weak places in my heart and my hands don't do what I tell them to but if the Elite want to kill me when the shooting starts they had better pack a lunch.

If you won't commit to surviving you had better purchase a nice place to be buried. Driving to work is surviving. You will feel guilty but after awhile it fades. The guilt dies slowly, believe me, I have lived with it for 40 years. Who wants to have kids if they are not FREE. IF we survive to be slaves what have we accomplished? Nothing. Stick the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger. But, if you survive in the hopes that your posterity will enjoy freedom, the guilt, the pain fades away with the hope for the future.

I apologize for preaching. God bless you all in 2012. You are welcome at codgerville even if you hate what I say.

Thanks for your comments, and for sharing your skills with that website.

I think you make a good distinction with survivalist/survivor.. and I didn't see anything offensive in what you said.

"Everyone is my teacher, if I remember to learn from them.."


Hi Bob,

Very nice quote, thank you.

Codger - I too am a Viet Nam veteran with with a VA disability from agent orange. I did the math forty years ago and saw what is cumming from over population,declining natural resources including energy, environmental degradation and the coming economic collapse. I don't know when or how it will occur but it will be some what on the order of what is described in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel. There will come a time of great tribulation after which a small remnant will remain. I hope to be one of that Remnant.

After I retired from the military I bought some land fairly far off the beaten path and built an energy efficient house by myself planning to live like my neighbors, Old Order Mennonites, without electricity or other modern conveniences. My kids look at me like I am from another planet, one further from the sun. I think I am slowly getting through as my youngest daughter asked me to teach her how to use a pistol.

Unless you have been to war and seen the flatbed trucks on the tarmac loaded with coffins to be sent to Dover AFB, spent time in military hospitals and in and out of VA hospitals for 33 years survival is an abstract concept.

Regarding: A world in chaos? That may be a good thing.

...Just remember a, b, c, d. Four large, interrelated forces are driving the action globally, and they conveniently begin with those letters.

...A is for anger...
...B is for borrowing...
...C is for competitiveness...
...D is for deadlock...

No E for energy?...Imagine that, no mention at all.

The a-b-c-d framework doesn't sound optimistic, but hope is in there if you look hard enough. All those trends are about solving giant problems that have needed fixing for decades, from repression in the developing world to debt mania in the West. They could have been addressed long ago but weren't because it was too painful. Now, at last, the pain has become unavoidable. That means these mega-challenges are much closer to finally getting resolved.

I don't comment much anymore as there does not seem to be much point in it, but I must also criticize the above article as well as the one describing the Apple factory in China.

The Fortune article brought me up a bit short as well. My first response was exactly what you said above. But then I caught myself and thought about it a bit. Is it really possible that the author (being a SENIOR editor and all) is really that naive about what is going on in the world. Is it really possible that his intellect is so shallow as to believe his crap analysis has any value?

His four forces are not the driving forces creating the chaos we are experiencing but rather side effects of the causes or misdirected attempts to avoid dealing with the consequences of the fundamental problems.

People are angry because they feel helpless in the face of overwhelming evidence that we are truly in a situation where there is no way out without extreme pain. Most of us are not real fond of pain.

Excessive debt was chosen as the means to try and maintain a semblance of a growing healthy profitable capitalist world economy that no longer exists. Borrow from the future to maintain the facade.

Apple and other companies using Chinese workers are only more competitive in the sense that "slaves", properly managed, are more profitable than free men. A starving man will sell his soul for a meal for himself and his family.

Political deadlock is driven not by dithering, but rather by political opponents accurately assessing that the other side's ideological solutions have no chance of working and will indeed make things much worse. The unfortunate fact in this is that BOTH sides assessments of the other are correct. Thus they deadlock due to the natural reaction that they are honor bound to save everyone from the other sides foolishness.

There is one single issue that trumps all others in causing us reach this untenable point in time. The core problem is over population. We are in a critical stage of overshoot that is getting worse fast and we are nearing the point of a dramatic correction. Perhaps not intellectually do the mass of people understand that this correction is coming but I think that subconsciously their "street smarts" senses are coming to the conclusion that there are tigers out there in the dark. And they are becoming afraid.

Over population drives all of the secondary problems that garner most of our daily attention and comments.
Climate Change
Peak Energy
Food Supplies

Fix population and you can fix or adapt to the others sufficiently ... in time.


Great comments Wyo, though I would modify this: "Borrow from the future to maintain the facade." to "stealing" from the future. It's not like these debts can ever be repaid (or oil put back in the ground, etc.).

Re: population: I was thumbing through an old Mother Earth News (@ 2008) and in the letters section were numerous readers canceling their subscriptions over a previous article suggesting that reducing human population is key to our future. Some stated that they "had 5 kids so that various 'undesirables' wouldn't out-breed the 'good guys'". Jeez...

Re: out breeding out the undesirables. I have read several articles over the last few years that having large numbers of children has become quite popular again among wealthy people. I see that trend with a number of my better off neighbors. The articles sort of indicated that the trend was motivated along the lines of "we can afford it so we will flaunt it..". I kind of think it more along the line of thought you mention..a reaction to a perceived need to out compete another group. You see this logic in decrees from various religions as well. Out breed the enemy.

Just another straw on that camels back.


While certain religious groups and cultures have historically encouraged large families, it appears their ranks are growing. I just heard yesterday (via MSM??) that white evangelicals in the US are beginning to have larger families than in the past decades.

What scares me that the more scientific information that is being made available regarding our most critical issues (climate change, resource depletion, peak-oil, etc.) the more certain groups of public officials are joining the camp of the deniers.

Sadly, the longer humanity refuses to address the root causes, the more severe the consequences will be.

Rick Santorum introduces himself as the father of seven children. Says it all.

...that white evangelicals in the US are beginning to have larger families than in the past decades.

That observation has long been made. Liberals will not inherit the earth. Nor will feminists. Their agenda will last but a generation. Their one disadvantage: they don't breed.

It's a race between evangelicals and Mormons in the US.

Rick is a Catholic, they have always been known for large families due to the Pope's ridiculous stand on birth control. What's really hypocritical about Rick is that his wife was forced to terminate a Pregnancy to save her life but - he doesn't think other wemon should have that option.

How is it that the GOP gets away with so many contradictions? Sort of like the standing applause for Newt Gingrich's righteous indignation over being asked about his personal life. One would never know this was the same man who set out to impeach Clinton for his indiscretion with Monica Lewinsky.

Don't do as I do, do as I say.

Or how Newton cancelled appearances in South Carolina due to a lack of people showing up, yet got 40% of the vote on all electronic vote machines.


I am not even close to being a supporter of his, but I think you may have errored on his views about that issue.

I heard him say in a recent interview that one issue that he does NOT agree with the more extreme Right to Lifers is that when it comes to the life of the mother or fetus he believes that the decision has to be left up to the mother and her physician/family. You have to choose between one life or the other he said and you cannot regulate that.


That's nice to know and I hope it's true Wyo. He has signed on to the Personhood USA pledge which I don't think allows any exceptions. I don't listen to many of his speeches, I sure hope after having that kind of personal experiance he would feel that it should not be the federal government making the decisions. But don't forget about Terri Shiavo, Rick certainly wanted big govenrnemtnt involved in that.

Anyone that homophobic is almost certainly gay, that's the most surprising thing about his big family; he probably didn't enjoy doing it.

That observation has long been made. Liberals will not inherit the earth. Nor will feminists. Their agenda will last but a generation. Their one disadvantage: they don't breed.

Meh. Like small mammals hiding in the shadows of the dinosaurs, they'll reappear when a big collapse occurs and their ideas become more appreciated.

While certain religious groups and cultures have historically encouraged large families

Having a directive for large families is a common trait among successful religion/cultural viruses. It is one of the reasons why they have been so successful.

I understand where you're coming from (the absurdity and inherent bigotry in overbreeding to prevent 'undesirables' from 'taking over'), but... this argument may actually have a point. Part if the reason why I found Mike Judge's Idiocracy (2006) to be so compelling on many levels is... it really reminds me of what's going on in the U.S. today (Faux News/Clear Channel/hate radio takeover of public discourse, rejection of science in favor of magical thinking, etc.). At the very least, it's a semi-plausible outcome given current population and social trends: e.g., the least educated far outbreeding the best educated, and the sharp rise of mysticism and anti-intellectualism and decline in respect for science and reason in recent decades.

It's possible that industrial civilization might be self defeating. Some people, across disciplines, were beginning to appreciate this in the 1970s.

The problem is that everybody and everyone is supported. The result is a huge population, with great age, class and ability differences between people.

We can't relate to anybody or solve problems because we are all so much different now! It's the complete opposite of what so many think - technology does not bring us together. It drives us apart. It could not be clearer. There may be a few holdouts, but even a tight society like Japan can't prevent the huge wealth and age disparities.

This is one of Kunstler's favorite topics, and may well turn out to be true. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to deny that technology has also brought *some* of us closer together --this blog is proof of that. Unfortunately, the flood of information has led to information paralysis, as many have long observed, and people choose to segregate themselves with other like-minded people, leading to self-reinforcing and Balkanized echo chambers.

I feel like a latecomer to this idea. I salute the people who appreciated it early on.

I was going to add in my post, specialization results in a hugely complex society where it doesn't really seem like any one individual knows what they are doing. Which admittedly isn't true. In fact, now people are arguably better at the tasks that they are responsible for. Like a decathlete vs. a sprinter or weight lifter. It's all made as efficient as possible. What's lost is the bigger picture, and appreciation for it.

Nobody can extract themselves and admit that it's all self defeating.

Great rebuttal --100% agree with Wyoming. Of course, the Fortune hack who wrote the article is obviously a True Believer in Chicago freshwater economics and their ultra-orthodox "capitalism/plutocracy good, government/social programs bad" philosophy.

Fix population and you can fix or adapt to the others sufficiently ... in time.

Well we may not have to worry about that much longer... H2H H5N1 (human-to-human bird flu), courtesy the US government! The NIH actually paid for creation of this lovely. Let's see, 7 billion times a 60% fatality rate equals 2.8 billion, in a time frame of two years or so. Solves a lot of problems very fast, as long as you are one of the privileged with access to the vaccine they are undoubtedly working on.

There's plenty of oil, freshwater, farmland, rare earths, etc for 3 billion; heck they would even all fit in the few areas left habitable after climate change. An "elegant" solution as they say- cheap, fast, with scads of plausible deniability.

I'm not normally a tin-hat-black-helicopters sort of person, but it looks too convenient, too easy. And lo! the UN reported a new 'mutant strain' in China last August, just before the research was first revealed, that 'sidesteps existing vaccines'. No point in being a prepper if the future goes down this route...

Is not H5N1 a good reason to stay fit with a well stocked larder of nutritious food, antiseptics etc. Is there a way to be one of the 40%??

Is there a way to be one of the 40%??

I don't think so. Unlike ordinary flu, this one is just as deadly to the young and healthy as the old and infirm. Only absolute isolation from the time of the first report might possibly work, and who can do that?

In the swine flu of 2009, for example, from the time of the early reports from Mexico in late March or early April to the time I came down with it was 2 months. My family has no connections to Mexico. The source was either Walmart, which we cannot avoid because we can't afford to shop anywhere else; or the public school system my daughter attends, which we also cannot avoid. My county had the first fatality in the state, yet we are over 1200 miles from the Mexican border.

I don't know anyone who could put their family into lockdown for a year or more waiting for it to burn out.

I was somewhat amazed to read that they are only keeping the H2H H5N1 in Level 3 containment. Something that nasty you'd think would be mandatory Level 4.

It just scares me spitless how turning it loose turns peak oil- and every other peak- from a dilemma of today, to a dilemma of fifty years from now. It would be the biggest kick-the-can-down-the-road ever, and civilization has a strong record of engaging in delaying action whenever possible. Eek. I sound like a raving conspiracy nut, and I detest conspiracy nuts. I don't believe in organized conspiracies, I just believe in thoroughly predictable human behavior.

If you were rich and powerful, with access to the vaccine for you and yours, watching the world fall apart under the pressure of massive human overshoot, and had the chance to access the virus, what would you do?

I think the urge to find a way of massively reducing population is going to become irresistable for the rich and powerful. Whether they can pull it off or not remains to be seen. They could make the vaccine cost say $50,000. That would eliminate a lot of underachievers.

Another strategy that could help delay delay delay exposure. Oftentimes the disease causing organism evolves as the epidemic progresses. Strains that are too lethal have a harder time spreading (as the victims die before they can spread it), so if you can arrange to not be infected early on, your odds should improve.

Quorum sensing


Behind a pay wall:

Add quorum sensing so that infection lethality is delayed until the end of a protracted period of communicability.

Another improvement would be to keep the influenza's spreadability and engage a hemorrhagic fever's kill mechanism at quorum detection.

The Russians were doing great things with the rino virus and a bit of neural tissue DNA: The cold would spread and then the animal's immune system would attack its own nervous system. Postmortem, no evidence remained.

If they wanted to engineer something specifically for the job, a high-school student could do it... though probably not an American one.

Gee, that sounds like the makings of a James Bond movie. Haven't seen them all but that theme is probably in on of them...

Is there a way to be one of the 40%??
I don't think so.

One can attempt to tilt the odds however.

Various mushrooms have anti viral properties.

Books like "Sugars that heal" could also function as a guide.

One thing I find really worrying is this increasing ability to engineer nasties, coupled with the ever lowering cost of running a bio-lab in your garage.

"Bio-hacking" anybody?

I've been thinking for the last month that it is no longer impossible to bio-hack a zombie virus. Would be an awsome cool apocalypse, and now it even CAN happen. I do not believe it will, but chances are above zero.

Hi Victorian

Interesting. And (reading your next post), I can see that your personal experience with the flu was quite troubling. It would leave anyone of us reeling, I'm sure.

Here's the thing, though.

If one is approaching "the problem" ("global problematique" - or "peak is just another word for," etc.) and one looks at deliberately triggering massive die-off as a solution, then one would also have to look at the consequences of this action. Many of which, of course, may be unintended.

Predictable consequences include the following - (and, of course, please feel free to add your own):

1) Many human bodies to be disposed of in such a way that does not contribute to further outbreaks of disease, from which one cannot protect oneself.
2) The loss of services: water, sewage, medical care, agricultural systems, etc. which functions were formerly carried out by many of the 3 B you just offed.
3) Trauma of a scale that would render what we consider normal human interaction something else altogether.
4) Etc.

It seems to me that this type of...let's see...let me call it "amoral rationality" as part of an exploration of problems and their solutions, is similar to one's we've seen WRT oh, say, the nuclear arms race, decisions regarding escalation of the Vietnam conflict, etc. To try to name just two examples.

In a way, it's a form of thinking that's certainly accessible, and probably has some value, in the sense of keeping it on the level of thinking, not doing.

However, it seems, also, that people who take the next step and actually carry out actions as a result of this kind of "strategizing" are not really thinking through a problem.

So, it's not all that logical. Or, I should say, rational.IMVHO.

Of course, some of these consequences may occur as the result of what we're facing w/out the deliberate aspect of the triggering.

So, it seems to me that, at the very least, we need to explore multiple ways of thinking through and approaching "the problem." (Time to ask for feedback - (or help?) for our efforts at www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.)

Or, maybe in this discussion, y'all assume all this already.

Probably. I'll go ahead and post...as an exercise in stating the obvious.

EU agrees Iranian oil embargo
Foreign ministers' deal in Brussels could lead to soaring fuel prices and Iran closing the strait of Hormuz


This promises to get interesting...in the Chinese proverb kind of way.

We in the EU announce that we are going to stop buying your oil, but not for six months. I'm sure you can find a new customer for the 2-300kbpd that represents in that time frame. Please don't cut off your supply to us before that date , because that would tip us into shortages and may crash our economies.... BTW you are an evil despotic regime and we hope you all burn in hell.

Come back one year!

Gotta luv the logic of the EU. Existing oil deliveries will continue until July. But they'll examine the impact on Greece in May. huh?? Did Greece have any say in this?

Been wondering about that - wouldn't cutting off the EU early be a fairly obvious move?

...wouldn't cutting off the EU early be a fairly obvious move? Yes.

And what's more curious is why Europe is setting itself up for a hit like that? If Iran is going to lose business in July, why not just announce an embargo against the West today? Why postpone the inevitable?

Who knows? China may be eagerly in the background ready to pick up the slack? (unofficially, of course)

And if Russia decides that Iran's strategic interest fits nicely into its own geopolitical revitalization, why not coordinate the move with a slow down of deliveries by Gazprom. Bringing Europe to its knees wouldn't take much effort. If Putin can score points against the US by doing so, what makes anyone think that he won't try?

Very interesting times in a Chinese sort of way.

Then again, one has to wonder what brains are working among Europe's elite lately? For such an allegedly smart set of technocrats, they've sure been screwing things up big time. For three centuries, Europe has stood at the centre of world civilization. If they keep making bunder after blunder, perhaps it's time to hand the globe back to the Persians, the Indians and the Chinese. Each of them has at least the experience of a few millennium under their belt.

John Robb believes that sanctions are a way of disconnecting Iran from the highly interconnected global system. So that when it is hit, the disruption to the global system will be minimal. Taken off line if you like, so as to not take down the main system when the module is destroyed.

Looking at it that way the European decision looks sensible. Iran is going to be attacked, that's the reason for the sanctions, they're pre-attack preparations. And Europe needs to modify its energy purchases before the attack happens. They can't do it immediately hence the heads-up and the grace period to convert for all concerned.

Does that give us a potential attack window in late summer?

I think virtually everyone outside of the US and Israel, are reacting to threats from the USA. Cooperate with us, or we will take actions against your home based enterprises! And of course we've learned a couple of things recently:
(1) The Israeli intelligence leaked a report, Iran has not yet decided if it wants a weapons program (i.e. they don't have one).
(2) The real goal is regime change.
An interesting debate on France24 (english language newcast), regarding a potential strike on Iran. Taking out their capabilities would be really messy and require ground troops etc. The military would be strongly opposed. All agreed with this statement, the one thing that makes an Iranian bomb certain to happen, is a military attack. I didn't see one dissenter to this view. I think the whole thing is being driven by the US election cycle, gotta be seen to be tougher that the other guy against evil. And decades of demonization of Iran have painted them as the great Satan in the minds of 90plus percent of the voters. So I expect the militant statements will just keep ratchetting up. Obama is doing his best under the radar, to calm things down. But, that might be insufficient.
Of course we've now called their bluff w.r.t. Hormuz threats a couple of times (moving warships through it, and pushing sanctions), and they didn't respond beyond verbal bombast, so I think the hand of those who claim the Persians won't bite back has been strengthened.

reacting to threats from the USA. Cooperate with us, or we will take actions against your home based enterprises!

And what if the rest of the world citizens decide to not accept US Dollars?

And what if the rest of the world citizens decide to not accept US Dollars?

Then the global economic system takes a steep tumble. Short term disaster, longer term??

Obviously, Europe has decided it's not racing off the cliff fast enough, and wants to shift up a gear...

Well, we wanted Europe to stop using so much oil...

Link up top: Apple shows us why manufacturing will never return from China

“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” [We would modify that statement. As a corporation, their only obligation is to increase shareholder value. That means dismissing the 99 percent, and enhancing the 1 percent. In the long run, when "peak oil" hits with full force, globalization will prove unsustainable and localization will be forced onto people --- globally.]

Italics theirs, it is the author's reply to Apple. Folks this article tells it like it is. It tells you all you need to know about Wall Street and the top 1%. And you know who the top 1%is don't you? They are the Job Creators, or at least that is what the Republicans in Congress tell us.

Ron P.

According to the CEO of the sweatshop where Apple products are made, his employees are animals and managing them gives him a headache. He even invited Taipei zoo director to lecture his managers so they could learn how animals should be managed.


Huh. How often do folks here refer to the great unwashed masses as "sheeple"? Just askin', since I'm guilty as well.

Kunstler sort of touches on the subject a bit this morning:

Dines now introduces the term "murmuration" to describe the way that rapid changes occur in the realm of human activities. The word refers to behaviors also seen in other living species, such as the way a large flock of starlings will all turn in the sky at the same instant without any apparent communication. We don't know how they do that. It seems to be some kind of collective cognitive processing beyond our understanding.

It is completely different when you have power over the people you refer as sheeple. How well do you think this CEO treats his employees if he thinks they are animals? Do you know the suicide rate at Foxconn?

I certainly don't condone this attitude, just suggest that their is some validity to the process, and that it isn't so different than the idea of media control of public opinion (per Chomsky), or Apple's latest/greatest I-Phone promotions (ala recent Apple Store riots in China). Control of public opinions (and wants, desires, expectations, etc.) certainly isn't a new concept. Is this CEO really different from religious control of the "flock". Christian leaders have referred to themselves as 'Shepherds' for millenia ("he's my Pastor"); all attempt to control the herd masses. Perhaps this CEO is stressed to the point of honesty. The concept of "changing souls one at a time" has it's limitations. The beatings always continue....

... another means of control

The Rise of the New Groupthink

SOLITUDE is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.

... Our schools have also been transformed by the New Groupthink. Today, elementary school classrooms ... Even subjects like math and creative writing are often taught as committee projects. In one fourth-grade classroom I visited in New York City, students engaged in group work were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the very same question.

Group settings can diminish expressions of intelligence, especially among women

... Research led by scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute found that small-group dynamics -- such as jury deliberations, collective bargaining sessions, and cocktail parties -- can alter the expression of IQ in some susceptible people. "You may joke about how committee meetings make you feel brain dead, but our findings suggest that they may make you act brain dead as well,"

this is why 'herd' 'sheeple' are easier to control.

Although it's a fairly complex subject, I think it goes to humans being more social than logical. Folks are more concerned with disagreement (being perceived as being wrong) than actually being wrong. Independent thinking is often a lonely and sometimes risky place to be. As we see these days (peak oil, climate change, etc.) this tendency is easy to exploit, especially when one controls mass media. Those who tell the stories cast the spells. Greer touched on this in his 'Magic' series, as did Chomsky's 'Manufacturing Consent'.

I'm seeing signs of what happens when reality challenges groupthink. When cognitive dissonance gets too uncomfortable many folks retreat to the safety of whatever group is telling them the most comforting stories (run home to momma). Others prefer to wander in the wilderness, knowing only that the 'truths' they are being told no longer make sense, not trusting any grand unifying theories...

...God bless the child...

Here-in lies the dilemma. Many of the problems we are facing require multi-disciplinary solutions, therefore a certain amount of collaboration is required. Unfortunately, many professional facilitators try to drive groups into a 100% consensus, thereby weeding out any truly creative and meaningful solutions.

I think the whole social networking thing and smart phone devices are part of that. No one is ever alone, they're in constant communication with the Borg continuum. People don't operate independently. It gives an introvert like me the willies. How the hell can you even think that way?

Because we are constantly connected, we are being bombarded with information. Too many people confuse information with knowledge.

In our current culture of being constantly bombarded with conflicting information, much of which is purposely deceptive, people tend to accept inormation that is simple to understand and comfortable to accept. I keep reading letters to the editor in my local paper about the wonders of global warming, because "it will give us longer growing seasons and isn't it wonderful that CO2 is good for the plants."

"Being actively critical of something one is dependent on is thought to be psychologically uncomfortable, and therefore avoided in favor of increased perceptions of legitimacy, trust, and desirability.
(...) once something (such as unfamiliarity) increases the extent to which people feel dependent on the government, they will place more trust in its operation, rather than seeking independence or finding faults in the government’s abilities.
(...) not only do people trust in the government more when they feel unknowledgeable about a threatening social issue, but they also appear motivated to avoid learning new information about it."

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Nov 7, 2011
On the Perpetuation of Ignorance: System Dependence, System
Justification, and the Motivated Avoidance of Sociopolitical Information
Steven Shepherd, Aaron C Kay


My suspicion is that, like so many other things, networking is at a peak, or soon to be. Cost, for one thing. It's alot more expensive to use a smartphone than a basic cell phone.

Second, all these millenials will painfully discover that their hundreds of "friends" scattered all over the place are nothing of the sort; nobody will have the money to pay for the oil to keep visiting each other.

I can't find it... but years ago I read an observation that, under the modern constant bombardment of communications requiring response: e-mails, voice messages, text messages, phone-calls, and all such else... people lost their "centers"... they just responded to these requests.

Another factor I bumped into time and again in my years as a corporate wage slave (product design in Silicon Valley) was the desire on the part of management that their underlings be easily replaceable.

Loner geniuses (not me :-)) posed a problem in that regard, but managers seemed to feel that people who worked well in groups and were easily replaced when they moved on (which everyone did in that area) could get the job done adequately.

When I retired at 54, my boss died of a heart attack within six months! There was probably no connection, but I wonder if the strain of herding all those genius cats just got too much for him.

this is why 'herd' 'sheeple' are easier to control

A Brave Newt World?

I have an interesting take on this subject. I was at a New Years party a few weeks ago and was talking to someone who manages technical projects for Cisco.

We got to talking about managing young people and he explained to me how he organizes technical teams to solve problems.

For Boomers and such, many of whom are more comfortable working solo or maybe in twos, he breaks the projects up into discrete parts and assigns them to various people. Someone is put in charge of coordinating the work and integration of the solutions to the various parts. Everyone is happy and the work gets done. If he does this with late 20 something's (I forget their proper generational name) it ends up in failure.

However, if he has a team of all 20 something's he gets them all in a conference room and explains to them the goal of the project. Tells them you have until X time to bring me a solution. They are quite happy and go off and get it done. If he does the same to the boomers it does not end well as a general rule.

For other generational groups he actually had other variations of assigning tasks that he had experimented with until he found a general solution.

He stated that he had trouble mixing boomers with 20 something's due to this big cultural difference in how the generations had been trained to work. But he felt that all the styles actually did work (in his environment) as long as you took them into account.

It was instructive.


I'm curious as to how well his performance reviews of Millenials actually reflect project contribution/responsibility and how happy the less vocal team members are about the arrangement. Also, whether he has difficulty in determining responsibility for screw-ups.

While it might be a true difference in how the ages work, I'd suggest there is an alternative hypothesis.

The older you are, the more cynical you are.

The boomers have had decades of dealing with real projects and real people. As such they know that if you create an amorphous blob of a group there is the tendency for many individuals to 'hide' in the group and coast, with the older, more experienced, individuals are supposed to pick up the slack. However, when it comes to bonuses and recognition, the group all get it equally. As such they want their responsibilities, and their control, carefully defined - such that they carry nobody and get the recognition they've earnt.

The 20 somethings have been been told how its supposed to work, but lacking the experience, they put in 12 hour days 'as part of the group', in the belief that somehow their extra work will get recognised. A few instances where they get politically outmanoeuvred and shafted and they start to lose this naive lustre.

Not unlike Sheeple sending in their tithes to a Television Evangelist ...

This aired a week or so ago on public radio, Ira Glass's program "This American Life."

Guy goes and "visits" Foxcon, HUGE factory where Apple and other products are made, all "by hand" by thousands of workers. It is really fascinating. Well worth the listen.


From the link in the news articles at the top of the page:

“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”

That is what we lost in America: the infrastructure of small technical industries that support any larger efforts. In Los Angeles, there used to be endless small machine shops and mold-makers and sensor manufacturers that supported the larger industries. All that is gone now... replaced by rehearsal halls and advertising houses.

I just laugh when some politician postures "We are going to Mars" or some other technological grandstanding. With what industrial base? Driven by what core of skilled and practiced masters of the art?

"When Apple redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, [...] A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day. “The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”"

No plant based on any version of humanity would want to match that.

Are we really so desperate for an iphone "on time" instead of a few days later that 8000 workers have to be hauled out of bed and into a grueling 12 hour shift in the middle of the night.

He is right, that is quite...breathtaking. And i am so never owning an apple product because of it.

And so, all the money the kids are spending on iPhones and IPads leaves the American worker's economy without creating better conditions for American workers. This is also why cash stimulus payments won't work for more than a moment: all the consumer cash stimulus money immediatly flows to China. There is a huge hole in the financial system that is draining away the American worker's life. There is another huge hole in the same system: opportunistic predation.

Yeah, I've become quite pessimistic about stimulus for the economy. All these stimulus dollars seem to quickly flow out of the country to pay for imported oil to drive to the stimulus project, foreign-made tools for the project, imported raw material for the stimulus project, imported components for the stimulus project, etc. . . . There is a stimulus effect but it is China, Canada, Brazil, etc. that get stimulated.

Yair...I see the lettering on the Martin Luther King monument was out sourced to China...and there are some problems with one of the Quotations that have to be rectified.

As an outsider looking in I would have thought that national pride would have resulted in American artisans producing the work but apparently even on a project such as this it all came down to cost.

Can someone reassure me and say this isn't so?


They also brought in Chinese labor to assemble the statue in America:


Actually the majority of the dollars stay in the U.S. Apple doesn't pay much for fab and assembly. I'm not saying I like the business model, just that you might want to examine your assumptions.

Peak oil will change globalization but not kill it. It won't be profitable to import Chinese steel, but it will still be profitable to import small little $500 each iPhones built with cheap foreign labor. The product-value/kilogram will help determine what still gets manufactured far away and what gets made locally.

And you need to consider where the source material is from . . . the fact that natural gas is so cheap in the USA right now will provide a boom to USA manufacturing. That helps reduce the price of some plastics, fertilizers, etc.

Some globalization things will be completely unchanged . . . there is no bunker burned in running a call center in India using VoIP.

Peak oil will change globalization but not kill it.

Peak oil is not one event that happens, then passes into history. It is an ongoing process that starts when oil production peaks, then declines... forever, or until it is all gone. Peak oil will not, or did not, do anything to globalization. Globalization will continue unchecked for many years after peak oil. It is only when the decline gets serious that you will see the effect on globalization. What happens then is really unpredictable. But it won't be nice.

Ron P.

It is only when the decline gets serious that you will see the effect on globalization. What happens then is really unpredictable. But it won't be nice.

I think it already has - and it isn't very nice. Of course, it will only get worse.


Predicting is so tricky that a negative adage about it is never far away. But here goes.

Might globalization possibly give way, earlier than you suggest, to another "ongoing process that starts when oil production peaks, then declines... forever..." Something like the process of localization?

Abundant energy and raw materials and almost costless waste sinks certainly helped nurture globalization, but it emerged from a range of ideas that seemed good (at the time, and for a time). But newer ideas might spawn a new process that crowds out the older. Like paradigm change: a paradigm rarely ends because of effort taken or evidence against it but rather by emergence of a newer paradigm that solves a larger set of questions.

This might suggest where it would be better to concentrate our efforts.



Localization requires some material and energy with which to do the localizing.

The paradigm of localization you speak about requires a way to gain some control over material and energy, in order to do the localizing.

The paradigm only "solves the larger set of questions" when "it" can do so in the material world, i..e, paradigm as a term, or even as a concept (with content) isn't enough.

So, it seems the next question is: With what resources can we (re)-localize? And how?

They're not job creators. They're job cremators, wage reducers, and race to the bottomers.

These corporations act like Godzilla megazombies. They eat people and poop profits.

These corporations act like Godzilla megazombies. They eat people and poop profits.

I can imagine how long you'd last in the South Carolina primary.

Yes, because the "poop" then gets recycled into the political system...

"They eat people and poop profits."

Very good description of an outcome of psychopathy.

Libya fighting: Four die in Gaddafi loyalists clash

Four people have died in clashes between pro-government forces and fighters loyal to former leader Muammar Gaddafi in Bani Walid in Libya.

Gaddafi fighters launched an assault and "took control of the entire city," Mbarek al-Fotmani, a former member of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), told AFP news agency.

'Pro-Kadhafi' attack kills four in Libya

"There are around 100 and 150 men armed with heavy weapons who are attacking. We have asked for the army to intervene, but the defence ministry and NTC (National Transitional Council) have let us down," he said.

"We're out of the frying pan into the fire. We've been warning about this for the past two months," he said.

Another local official, M'barek al-Fotmani, said the assailants had circled the base of former rebels who helped topple Kadhafi last year.

"The compound of thuwar is surrounded on all sides by loyalists of Kadhafi who are attacking it with all kinds of weapons," said Fotmani, a former NTC member for Bani Walid, 170 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Tripoli.

"The attackers are carrying green flags," symbol of the Kadhafi regime, he said from inside the base.

Google forced me to login and complete a captcha before I could read the second link - is it the same for everyone? It was Google's top news item in the search. Never seen that before. Guess I should stop mentioning 3 letter agencies :-)

Ok going back to the Google forced logon page I see there is an "about". I click it and get this

Someone needs to tell them that Kadhafi is dead. His sons are dead or imprisoned. That regime is gone. Start something new if you want but don't rally behind a dead guy.

RE: "The Keystone - China connection is overblown" (Money - CNN)

Add to this anti-trust violations, large infusions of capital to K street, corporate owned media harping on "job-killing" business regulations and the EPA, the cynical promise of short-term work in the midst of a global recession, fast rising oil prices, and an oil rig spilling gobs of thick goo into the Gulf of Mexico, and you have a pretty nice mid-recession cocktail of crony capitalism and collusion that suggests Canada may be learning it's lessons all too well from the banking and anti-regulation free for all in the States. Everyone thought Clinton would rubber stamp the deal, a pipeline some 2.5 times the length of Alaska's (Alyeska) pipeline, but not when some sunlight was breathed into the deal and folks in the direct path of development (and receiving very little of the benefits) took a quick look and found their voice. It's actually quite similar to the Enbridge end run in B.C., except in this version of the script Nebraskans have been cast as disadvantaged and disposable First Nations, and Bill McKibben as Leonardo DiCaprio (or some other handsome knight with golden locks flapping in the renewable wind). When will we learn that there's nothing new under the sun, especially when the sun has been concentrated in a heavy industrial sludge in fluvio-estuarine sediments (used historically to waterproof First Nations canoes), and landlocked in the boreal subarctic of a foreign country.

Not only is the China connection overblown, so is the jobs connection:

Here is the map for Keystone XL:


Here is the map for unemployment by state:


Please note that North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska have unemployment rates under 5 percent. In fact the six state area has unemployment rates of less than 6 percent. It is a relatively prosperous region of the country with a booming farm economy due in large part to renewable energy such as ethanol and wind power.

Nebraska stands out. It is a very large ethanol producer. Critics have knocked ethanol for threatening the Ogallala aquifer.

Now comes Trans Canada and Texas oil interests to threaten the Ogallala aquifer with Keystone XL. Where are the corn ethanol critics who were so vocal about the Ogallala aquifer. They appear to go into hibernation when oil threatens the Ogallala.

The oil producing areas of the country such as Texas and California, both with unemployment rates of 8-10 percent have been forceful critics of ethanol as personified by Texas governor Rick Perry. Rick Perry has gotten his just political desserts in the Iowa causes and has now had to face reality by dropping out of the Republican race.

The truth of the situation is that the upper Midwest 6 state region is in a different economic situation than the rest of the country. It did not participate in the housing boom so much and the low interest rates brought about by the housing bust and high oil prices have been a bonanza to the region.

Land prices have soared. Ethanol production has boomed until just lately. Grain prices set records last year.

In short states like Nebraska don't much care about more jobs whether they be 20,000 or 200,000. What they care about is protecting their resources and getting even with those who have constantly attacked ethanol.

It is strange that people like Rick Perry think that they can attack the product of other states and that those states will love them for it.

Blocking Keystone XL is a chance for the upper Midwest to dam up the flow of energy to its own benefit. North Dakota will survive just fine shipping oil east on Nebraskan Warren Buffett's unit trains. Nebraska will proper growing corn on water from a non threatened and non polluted Ogallala aquifer.

The rest of the country which has put the main ethanol producing part of the U.S. through public relations hell can just stew in its own recession juices.

Actions have consequences. And those who have fought renewable energy should realize that renewable energy producers can fight back and can fight dirty too.

Corn Ethanol ≠ Renewable Energy!

It depends on the scale. At small scales it is, so that's what the proponents see.

A new post Peak Oil novel, Was a Time When

A Novel That Asks, "What Happens WHEN, Not IF, Resource Depletion, Population Pressures, and Climate Change Push The World of Our Grandchildren Into a Great Collapse?"
Authored by Sam Penny

Read the details of a scenario describing a possible
Great Collapse of the 21st Century civilization:
when all of advanced technology breaks down,
when starvation and pandemics decimate the population,
when vital fuel and mineral resources disappear,
when the human race almost becomes extinct.

I just ordered the hardback edition from Amazon. Looks good and more in tune with what I expect to really happen. Totally unlike "A World Made by Hand" which was a great read but totally unrealistic, in my opinion.

Was a Time When: Kindle $3.98
Was a Time When: Hardback $14.98

Ron P.

Ron, thanks for the notice about the new book. Just wondering if you would share what you found unrealistic about WMBH? My feeling about the book was the the timing was suspect -- while the chronology was never clear, it seemed like everything went from normal to preindustrial in about ten years. But that makes for a better plot, I suppose. Beyond that, it seemed plausible to me.

A book about the post peak oil world should not contain so much mysticism. Remember the part about the Queen Bee, and all the stuff about where she resided. Then there was the guy who murdered a man, then he was killed by some mysterious force in jail with the exact same wounds he inflicted on his victim?

And there was almost no hardship or misery caused by the lack of food or resources. All the nasty stuff in the novel was caused by bad guys, just like in some cheap western novel.

I can't say I did not like it because it was a great read, I really enjoyed it, but not because of its realism. I considered everything in the book totally unrealistic.

Ron P.

Oh, yeah, that stuff. I've thought about that a lot. I don't know if JKH believes in the mysticism or just feels that in a less technological world people will return to mystical beliefs. People believe crazy stuff now, I can see how that could get worse.

I think there was a lot of misery in the book, though. Was it enough? Maybe not.

"- while the chronology was never clear, it seemed like everything went from normal to preindustrial in about ten years."

Actually I found the point the characters never mentioned their past in detail realistic. They all know it, it was very unpleasant, they don't wish to belabor it, and the ones who do drink themselves to death.

The general chronology is there in bits and pieces. LA gets a terrorist nuke, Homeland security goes nuts, trade collapses, economy follows, war in the middle east either for oil or a punitive invasion, then a second nuke in DC, Federal and state governments collapse, infrastructure collapses. Then back to back plagues kill so many, concentrating on the kids, that most survivors lose their will to try to to put something back together.

As to the mysticism, once the religions of technology and consumerism are gone, something would appear to replace them. The reformation got its big push from the Plague efficiently killing the priests, which proved the Church was not so powerful as they had claimed. The reverse could happen too, and arguably did when Rome fell.

The author occasionally posts here as "PrudentRVer."

Way to go, Sam.

Congrats! (If you happen to be snooping the scene here...)

If he wrote a book about energy-efficient RVing, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

There are many great books on all aspects of RVing, many writen by "fulltimers"; folks who live full time in their motorhomes and trailers. I was a fulltimer for over 6 years and set my unit up for "boondocking", the RV equivalent of off grid. While all of the hookups for campground/RV Park living were standard equipment, I added a couple of PV panels and extra batteries and upgraded my insulation. I could go weeks without hookups, needing only water and a weekly black/graywater tank dump, available at many rest stops, or campgrounds for a modest fee. I towed a small 4x4 but did most of my exploring by bike once at my destination. Insurance was very reasonable and their service is excellent, including roadside assistance , towing and repair allowance, meaning you're never stranded.

RVing is a well established community with clubs and traveling groups of all sorts willing to help each other out, getting group discounts, etc. A common saying is that RVs get lousy mileage compared to a car, but great mileage for a home. I prefer motorhomes as they're more robust and you don't need a tow vehicle. Cozy, efficient living and if you grow tired of the neighbors or view, just say your goodbyes and hit the road. If you plan your trips carefully fuel isn't a big issue; the costs are more than offset by other factors. I had a beautiful spot next to a lake north of Seattle for a year; $225 month, free laundry use, electric and propane were about $50, 2 free fishing boats for seasonal tenants, quiet with no ruckus allowed. Some weekends I would unhook and head 50-60 miles to the mountains. Still miss it sometimes.

RV Magazine

Motorhome Magazine:

Winnebago Industries has the diesel-powered, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis pretty well figured out when it comes to developing successful motorhome floorplans for its compact frame. And just when you thought there was little else it could do in the way of new layouts for this lightweight, fuel-efficient platform, the company has come up with yet another take on the whole thing with its new 2012 View 24M, which offers a full-wall, streetside slideout....

You really begin to appreciate the Sprinter’s powertrain when pulling in to take on fuel (which doesn’t seem all that often), as attested to by our mileage results of 16.9 mpg freeway and 14.2 mpg overall. In this day of $4 gallons of diesel — at best — this motorhome’s miserly, fuel-sipping habits can be considered a significant benefit.

I've seen one of these; really nice but a bit pricey. Perfect for one person or a well adjusted couple.

Good Sam's Club

Thanks for the links.

Sam has posted some really interesting stuff about how he's made his RV more energy-efficient. He's also pointed out that moving a couple of times a year, following the weather, can be more efficient than burning fossil fuels to keep your big house cool in summer and warm in winter.

Me, I like the idea of owning my own home without being tied down to one place. It's looking more and more like peak oil will look like a long, dreary recession with temporary recoveries. Being able to easily pick up and go where the jobs are might be a better strategy than stocking up on firearms, investing in solar panels, or buying an organic farm.

Does Sam have a blog? You've mentioned doing this a few times, Leanan. Maybe you should go for it. Rent a unit and do a test drive. The learning curve isn't too bad, and past that it's easy to get hooked. I still have it in my blood.

A fulltimer unit really needs to be larger than the 24M I linked to above but there's a fuel efficiency penalty with size, of course, and larger units can be a challenge to drive, especially in windy conditions. Many folks will just park in a small town Walmart and enjoy the town while they wait out the weather. Most fulltimers sacrifice fuel 'economy' for livability because they don't move alot. Slideouts give them more space but are less efficient to heat and cool. There are some great buys these days on barely used repos. Newer units are far more formaldehyde/VOC free, unlike the infamous FEMA trailers.

Your idea about following the weather is common; "snowbirds". I knew folks who had done this for years, having seasonal jobs at their destinations. I followed the "agriculture circuit" for a while in my VW camper, driving forklifts in packing houses before I joined the service. Good money, great people. If I was single now I would likely be in N. Dakota accumulating cash, let my daughter take over the homeplace.

Now days, with wireless internet, satellite dishes and cell phones, many folks can work from anywhere. There are services in places like TX and FL where RVers establish "residency" to avoid state income taxes and receive their snail mail which gets forwarded. Most require that you actually stay at their RV park for a couple of weeks each year, but in return you get a physical address for taxes, tags, etc. Some just use a relative's address.

As for efficiency upgrades, besides the PV system, I added insulation, foamed air leaks, added a roof mount solar fan and upgraded my coach wiring system. Most of the good manufacturers offer models for northern/winter climates with extra insulation, tank heaters, etc. These folks give great after-sale service as well, even on used models. Reputation is very important.

edit... Find Sam here: http://www.the79scenario.com/bio.html

http://www.prudentrver.com/ LEDs and other stuff for sale.

Sam's personal blog: http://prudentrver.typepad.com/twopennytravels/

Hi Sam!

Sam's site is here. He's got several blogs and articles, though I get the feeling he hasn't had time to keep them updated.

I've considered renting an RV for week or two, but I hardly know where to start. Some say fulltimers need bigger RVs, some say smaller is easier. There's a blog out there written by a guy who lives in his RV off the grid, and he recommends getting a relatively small one. He likes to park on the street without being hassled by the cops, and that means an RV that fits in normal parking spaces. His was built in 1996. He says newer versions of that model are now too large.

A lot of women seem to prefer the motorhome style, where you can park it and go to bed without getting out of it. They feel more secure that way. A lot of others, especially men, prefer the trailer type, figuring you need a car anyway.

I occasionally watch that show where families are matched up with the perfect RV (it's probably more of a commercial for RVs than anything else), and the sheer number of options is mind-blowing.

Then there's that guy who's building his own. He says even the best commercially made RV isn't made to stand up to full-time use (especially the interior), so he decided to make his own.

My last link above has Sam's January entry. They're in Yuma, and had some "repair work" (medical) done in Dec.:

On the health front, I underwent heart ablation that so far is successful. It knocked my heart back into sinus rhythm like it was supposed to, and I feel better than before. Alice has one good eye from her cataract surgery of four weeks ago, and she is schedule for the next eye on Jan 9. When you reach our age, repair jobs become the standard.

As for size, too small usually means taking a bath while sitting on the toilet, and sleeping in a fold-out bed. My 27' Coachman MH has a separate/private toilet room w/sink and a separate 2'x2' shower. It also has the bedroom in back with a queen size bed (Serta Perfect Sleeper) and two small hanging closets. I removed the other bed above the driver area to save weight and open things up a bit. It also has a separate range (4 burner stove/oven) with microwave above on one side, kitchen sink and counter space on the other side. Forward of that is a 4 person dinette that drops down to a bed or couch. Lounge chair across from that. Plenty of storage, very livable, and I wouldn't want to go much smaller. It's small enough for end-to-end parking in two spots.

Too many features means more weight. Look for basic models and do your own upgrades as needed. Some of the deluxe models have their GVW maxed out before you put your stuff in; not good. "Basement models" are taller with storage under the coach; nice for tools, lounge chairs, etc., but again, watch the weight. More room to accumulate stuff. This applies to travel trailers as well.

A lot of women seem to prefer the motorhome style, where you can park it and go to bed without getting out of it.

This was a primary concern for me as well, since I often traveled off the beaten path. You can pull into a truckstop or rest area and just hop in back for a meal, potty break or nap without ever leaving the RV. You can also just drive away if you feel threatened. In some states, if the motorhome is your full time residence, it's not only a vehicle, but it's covered by other laws such as search and seizure, privacy, etc. Most law enforcement folks think twice before towing your home. Not so with a towing vehicle. My experience is that cops generally view responsible RVers as "the good guys", usually courteous and helpful. RVers have a code about helping each other out as well.

As for "needing a car anyway", many motorhome folks tow a small car, rack a scooter on the back, or tow motorcycles. Towing a Smart or Fiat 500 won't reduce fuel mileage much for a medium size unit. A lot of folks just walk or ride their bikes. Golf carts are popular but not street legal.


Class A: Custom body on a custom chasis with a modified (GM/Ford/Dodge, etc.) drive train. They are a bit roomier, but many shops won't work on them.

Class B: Conversion van, sometimes modified chassis.

Class C: Standard heavy GM/Ford/Dodge truck chassis/cab/drivetrain with a coach body added; the ones with a bed over the cab. Generally the most affordable and repair parts are mostly the same as the name brand chassis. Mine is a Ford E-350 Super Duty with the standard 7.6 liter V-8 and transmission, often used for U-Haul and delivery trucks; parts/repair widely available. Coachman added air suspension for comfort and adjustability. Class Cs can ride a bit rough because they are essentially trucks, but a bit more forgiving in cross winds than class As.

Bus coaches, sometimes referred to as "diesel pushers" are big, very nice, and quite expensive, but rock stars love 'em. A neighbor has his 'reduced' to $550k if anyone's interested :-)

I began "car camping" with a stove,lantern and ice chest. An old canvas umbrella tent that weighed way too much was our shelter.
Then I got a mini truck with a camper shell and still used a (better) tent unless there was rain or snow. Then I got a new midsize truck and small camper with a stove icebox, sink, 20 gallon water tank etc. That was a favorite set-up because it's light weight and compact size allowed me to goto remote areas and stay for a week or two.
Now I have a trailer and I prefer that over a motorhome. My friend has his RV leveled, on blocks and jacks with the awning out and the carpet, chairs, table, BBQ, set up and I can still lock the hubs and take my truck on a day trip adventure.
See Slab City, an abandoned military base in Imperial County, California where the traditional "Snowbirds" have been replaced with a "Grapes of Wrath" like community of people surviving with few resources.



I was slummin' at the slabs in '96 for a few days and folks were already trashing the place. The State wants to shut it down. These folks object: http://www.slabcity.org/

They even have a Slab City singles group :-0

We get a lot of snowbird RVers down here. There are 2 RV parks and the Walmart carpark ends up with a collection. That doesn't include those that pull up on a quiet street or have a winter home here that use the RV for the journey.


One of the clubs used to do a trip from South Texas. They would load a bunch of RVs on flat rail cars and take the train all through Mexico, living in their RVs on the train. Sounded like fun at the time, though considering conditions in parts of the country now, not so sure. I don't know if they still do that.... Wait, here it is:

Looks like a great way to save fuel! The second RV looks like mine.

By coincidence, I passed a poster for the Chihuahua railway yesterday. Some very spectacular countryside and don't look down on some of the bridges. Most of the rail problems seem to be in the south with the gangs looking for Central Americans trying to get to the USA. A train load of RVs may seem attractive but security could well be provided and paid for.


Hi Leanan,

re: "...where the jobs are..."


Sustainable is unsustainable. I just gotta share this.


Also read the mouse-over.

If you put "sustainable" into Google Ngram and plot from 1960-2008, it's pretty clear that we reached peak sustainable around 2003 and I'd guess that sustainable output is dropping at ~5% per year. I'll let you calculate the URR of sustainable.

If you put in "sustainable,indifference" together you can see indifference rising at the same rate sustainability falls. We just need to keep finding sources of indifference to offset the fall in sustainability.

Interfering with our sources of indifference will be considered and act of war.

Japanese Government Denied Existence of Document on Fukushima Worst-Case Scenario

... The document was dated March 25, 2011, two weeks after the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the country’s worst nuclear crisis. It was premised on a scenario in which all plant workers had to be evacuated due to a rise in radiation levels after a hydrogen explosion damaged a containment vessel encasing the plan’s No. 1 reactor.

The document said that should such a case occur, residents within a radius of 170 kilometers or more of the plant would be forced to move out, while those within a radius of 250 km of the plant, including Tokyo, would be allowed to leave if they wish.

“It contained such shocking content that we decided to treat it as if it never existed,” a senior government official said.

also http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120122p2g00m0dm066000c.html

I feel sorry for Japan. The U.S. went over there after WWII and turned them into us.

" 'It contained such shocking content that we decided to treat it as if it never existed,' a senior government official said." Following that, he did not fall upon his sword.

From the top of the page:

The Japanese government has been caught hiding the food contamination problems:

"...growing segment of the public and even many experts coming to believe that officials have understated or even covered up the true extent of the public health risk in order to limit both the economic damage and the size of potential compensation payments."

The people have to do the work themselves:

"One result has been a burst of civic activism... newly formed groups of consumers and even farmers are beginning their own radiation-monitoring efforts."

The U.S. went over there after WWII and turned them into us.

Japan was on its own path - a path where a few people were in charge and wanted to stay that way. Then a US Gunboat showed up and Mr. Perry set them on a different path.

WWII was hardly a starting point.

First series of Better Place cars hit roads

I believe BP has the right idea with battery switching, eliminating the 4-12 hour charge and enabling 2-3 minutes 'refills'. Either a switch or some kind of future electrolyte swap is the only way to mass adoption for pure battery EVs, as fast charge w/ 10-20MW charging stations on every corner was never going to happen, and they said so. However, while I see them serving fleets like taxis nicely, their business model for the individual driver is broken:

1. BP requires you to charge or switch *only* from their network connected charger or switch station. That makes their network nearly impossible to scale. One can not drive a BP car from Denmark (soon to have BP network they say) deep into Germany (where there are no plans for a BP network) to visit Grandma Schmit and expect to use her power for a charge to get you home again. BP's CEO Agassi often compares his business model to cell phone roll outs, but that's an example of how his networks fail: in the early days of cell one could still drive out of network and use the land line at Grandma's with the phone police hauling you away.

2. Quick disconnect switching is easy only with out a vehicle integrated battery thermal management system getting in the way, such as the Volt has. Leave out battery thermal management, as in the Nissan Leaf and Renault's Fluence, and range will get cut in half in those Denmark winters, or battery long term life will get cut in half in those Israeli summers.

(Promo) Video of a BP battery switch:

We've discussed the idea of swappable, standardized EV batteries several times over the years. Many advantages over proprietary, model specific integrated batteries. Maybe this is a start..

Yeah . . . I'm a fan of the swappable battery approach for handling regional drives between cities. However, I'm not a fan of being a captive customer to a single company that sells you the car, sells you miles, swaps the batteries, etc.

But for 95% of people's driving, charging up at night and having 100 miles of range is just fine. If you need to drive further, get a PHEV like the volt or have a gas/hybrid for the long drives.


"Due to that heavy footprint, which includes lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions some 5% to 30% greater than traditional crude oil, NRDC's Casey-Lefkowitz is working to ensure neither pipeline gets built."

As pondered before: I appreciate the position of those who oppose any effort to increase the consumption of FF. But again: am I missing something? Whether Keystone or Gateway gets built, won't the oil sand production continue/expand? AFAIK almost all the oil sands production is currently being shipped to/refined in/consumed in the US today. And oil sand extraction is expanding with the anticipation of exporting to the US whether either p/l is built. The Keystone line is designed to replace existing p/l interconnects. The big change is the addition of throughput from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast refineries. All the oil sands production is currently being transported thru northern tier of US states in p/l's that have been in service for many years/decades...just like the one that broke and polluted the Yellowstone River. Or by rail or truck...both historically more likely to have a spill.

Again, AFAIK, building Keystone only accomplished two things: stops shipping oil thru old p/l's and increases supplies to Gulf Coast refineries. It would seem the benefits would be increased revenue for the Canadian govt and oil sand operators (by not getting locked into WTI prices), reducing the risk of spills by shipping thru a new p/l and decreased product costs for US consumers. OTOH not building Keystone doesn't reduce the amount of oil sands production shipped to the US, doesn't decrease GHG output and doesn't decrease the potential for spills from a p/l (especially old p/l's that began deteriorating the day they were buried). As I've said before: no Gulf Coast operator wants to see that Canadian oil show up down here. All it will do is lower our oil sales price. It wouldn't shock me if a group of US oil companies were secretly funding the anti-pipeline groups...nothing personal...just business.

What am I missing in the debate?

Sigh. The debate isn't very much about getting a result. It's about theater, about preening with empty moral superiority. After all, people - most notably the obstructionists themselves - are apt to drive (and ship stuff) hither and yon on the slightest provocation, until and unless they can't. Competition alone would ensure that, or so we are told vociferously by TOD commenters who, say, rationalize on behalf of the lavish 1%-of-the-1% lifestyles of various self-appointed "environmental" preachers on the grounds that only such can purchase them the attention they so obviously deserve - which they obviously deserve because, well, silly, they obviously deserve it.

But even more, it's about the odd, ancient urge to boss strangers around (nowadays always solely for their own good, so we are told.) When the futzers finally trigger a physical shortage, their fondest dream will follow - yet another vast expansion of government power: high-and-mighty officials dictating who may travel where or buy what at any moment, their petty idiot-minions micromanaging every tiny detail of life at enormous expense in form-filling and queuing (all solely, of course, as a matter of "equity" and "fairness".)

Such tactics should really be labeled "don't try this at home", but the labels would go unseen amidst the lust for power. Broadly, liberals (in the American sense) expand state power whenever they can, often exploiting envy, the inchoate urge to beat down any nail that dares to stick up. Conservatives, according to their wont, then conserve every newfound bit of power to the hilt, often to wield it against the very same liberals (check almost any news summary these days.) This circular firing line would be a stupendous LOL, if only it weren't so hazardous to everyone else.

Ultimately, it is symbolic.

I've heard it said that spending money on the conservation of electric power, insulation and the like, makes more power available on the grid than does spending the same amount of money on new generating facilities. Does an analogous situation obtain with oil? Should the societal direction be to burn what remains at a rate limited only by price? In the pursuit of short-term gain?

It would be better to wean this millennium's civilization. I'm sure you've seen the "Fool Me Eight Times" video. Every effort is blocked. Mileage goals are routinely overturned. Only absurd versions of public transportation are approved.

The finance industry has repeatedly demonstrated the futility of trying to protect people from any large and well-organized group. "Resistance is futile." But, when the thief is in your house, aren't you going to raise your gun? Or, are you going to offer them a bag bigger than the puny pillow-case they've brought?

How much more time do the tars sands buy us?

If the pipeline were not built, the western Canadian native peoples respected, and the other means closed down, that oil would wait in reserve. The technology to exploit it tends to improve over time. Wait till later.

Ever try to pry the candy-bar out of a four year old's hand?

Well, when you're trying to get things done with mass movements of humans, you need really simple, even simplistic goals or your movement falls apart. Movements like to declare victories. Such strategies - if they can be called that - can seldom be very nuanced. "What do we want? THIS SIMPLE MEME! When do we want it? NOW!"

The McKibbens of the world - and I appreciate them and their dilemma - are trying to build a movement, but at the point the movement actually succeeds in keeping some carbon in the ground, there will be severe pushback and the movement will likely dissolve into 500 smaller groups who self-sort by tactics and goals, and mostly dislike and distrust each other.

I think they're right about the problem - the earth needs us to stop burning buried carbon - but that it will be difficult to focus a movement to get much useful done. I hope I'm wrong.

Almost any tactic or deprivation would be justifiable at this point if it actually resulted in keeping carbon in the ground over the long term in the real world. I see a lot of tap-dancing, but I don't see that.

Just one old eco-radical's take on it...

"What do we want? THIS SIMPLE MEME! When do we want it? NOW!"

That is so being my QOTD.

Flashback: In January 1977, fuel shortage, cold temperatures stop high school sports

... Late on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 26, 1977, with natural gas cutbacks to factories and industrial plants across Pennsylvania resulting in massive layoffs, Gov. Milton Shapp ordered the state's 4,279 school buildings closed for at least the next three school days, and all extra-curricular events to be canceled in an effort to stretch the gas supplies.

A shortage of natural gas compounded the crisis. Price controls, in effect since the 1950s, had discouraged the search for new natural gas fields, and supplies dwindled. Newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter set the White House and federal office thermostats at 65, and Shapp went him three degrees better, ordering thermostats in state buildings — including the Governor's Mansion — to be set at 62.

On Jan. 25, UGI informed 46 Lehigh Valley commercial and industrial customers their gas allotment would be slashed 75 percent. A few days later the company reduced allocations to 12 companies, including Mack Trucks and Bethlehem Steel, to "maintenance levels" through the end of February.

Similar actions nationwide led to the layoff of 1.5 million workers.

In Pennsylvania, the average temperature for January 1977 was 13.4 degrees F ... this year it's around 40 F

Which brings up an important point: might global warming mitigate peak oil, by reducing demand for heating energy? Too early to say, the signals are all over the place.

More to the point, I've long debated in my mind whether I want to be in a cold or warm place for peak oil. You can make an argument either way.

It's too bad so many of the seemingly good bugout places in America lie in more northern regions. The Sun Belt has been obliterated by sprawl. Which is a shame, because it's easier to live the leisurely, non hustling life in warmer weather.

Lacking electricity, it's easier to store food in a cold clime.

I've thought about this. The weather is going to be all mixed-up. Coldest, wettest winter here last year... Warmest, driest this year. So, predictability is gone. Mobile? Follow the temperate?

"...it's easier to live the leisurely, non hustling life in warmer weather."

Maybe, as long as you have powerful air conditioning, or you can emulate the snowbirds and spend the long, stifling, debilitating summers someplace less awful. It's amazing how tiny the old parts of sunbelt cities often tend to be, and the extent to which those cities exploded only after air conditioning became practical. Maybe there was a reason.

Which brings up an important point: might global warming mitigate peak oil

Because people drive less in warm weather?

"Because people drive less in warm weather?"

No, but what they drive changes. In my case;

Howling blizzard: F-150 4X4, 16 MPG, but in howling blizzard mode about 13.
Morning temp below 45 F, but not a howling blizzard, Aveo, 32 MPG.
Morning temp above 45 F, Honda VT-750, 51 MPG.

So yes, if global or any warming ever occurs here, I'll drive more miles on the bike and less on the other vehicles, reducing the CO2 emission rate. Your situation may well vary.

Short answear is "no".

Right now we live in balance with the climate. Houses in Sweden are built with much insulation, those in warmer countris with better ventiltion and cooling instead. Transport is adapted to the climate all over and so on. But when climate changes climat zones will move around. Yes there will be savings. Swedish houses will have lower heating cost in the winter. Cargo shipsgan take the short cut over the notrhwest and north east passage. But everyone will live in another climate zone than they were adapted for. And that means their system will be sub-optimal. And optimation is the way to enery savings so I say a clear "no" toyour question, eve if there are those who will gain.


2012-01-23 15:01 Geomagnetic Storm Expected Tuesday, Jan 23

As the strongest Solar Radiation Storm (S3) since May, 2005 continues, the associated Earthward-directed Coronal Mass Ejection is expected to arrive about 1400 UT (9am EST) Jan 24. SWPC has issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch with G2 level storming likely and G3 level storming possible, with the storm continuing into Wednesday, Jan 25. All of this activity is related to a moderate (R2) Radio Blackout x-ray flare that erupted Sunday night (11pm EST). Updates will be posted here as we learn more

If it reaches G3 then those who missed last night's show (G1) might have a chance tomorrow.

Planes expected to reroute following massive solar eruption

An immense blast of plasma spewed late Sunday night from the sun led to the strongest radiation storm bombarding our planet since 2005, and a rare warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency -- and even a plan to redirect certain high-flying airplanes.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center -- the nation’s official source of warnings about space weather and its impact on Earth -- issued a watch for a geomagnetic storm expected to hit our planet Tuesday morning after a satellite witnessed an ultraviolet flash from the massive solar eruption, according to Spaceweather.com.

There is no risk to people on Earth, Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center told FoxNews.com.

But as a rare precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed, Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, said today at a Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La., according to Space.com.

OK, as the CME approaches this is a really bad time for the new "improved" NOAA/USAF/NASA real-time k-index prediction system for 1-4 hours ahead to go down. Graphic output is blank. Text output says "code 3/4" which is data bad or missing and has been all day today. The model runs every 15 mins so that's one hell of a lot of model runs failed in a row now. The 24 hour model run output from last night shows a K-index of 6 expected soon. Cloudy in Scotland so unlikely I'll see much tonight anyway.

This is a new model just switched to "live" last month. It has failed its first real test (or has been switched off for public use). I can't find any comments from NOAA/NASA/USAF on why it is down.

Here's the blank predictions (at time of posting from http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/wingkp/

Completely blank for predicted ahead and has been all day. Wonder when they'll fix it?

Bizarrely nobody on conspiracy forums such as GLP or ATS has commented on this when it should be sending then nuts!

Here it comes as observed by ACE. Just updated to 5

Space Weather Message Code: WARK05
Serial Number: 741
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 24 1444 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 expected
Valid From: 2012 Jan 24 1445 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Jan 25 0100 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor

Space Weather Message Code: WARK04
Serial Number: 1856
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 24 1439 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 4 expected
Valid From: 2012 Jan 24 1440 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Jan 25 0100 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset

Space Weather Message Code: WARSUD
Serial Number: 102
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 24 1437 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse expected
Valid From: 2012 Jan 24 1440 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Jan 24 1515 UTC
IP Shock Passage Observed: 2012 Jan 24 1431 UTC

300nT impulse (large) just recorded at Kiruna Sweden - coincidentally or not many of my tv channels in Scotland froze for a few seconds to a minute (including BBC1 and BBC2) at the time. That's about 5 times the impulse observed at Boulder Colorado.

The main body of the CME still hasn't hit yet. Edit: actually it might have. The solar wind data although it is being output is said to be faulty due to the S3 proton storm. Which makes it useless if that is correct. What good is a wind meter if it breaks when it gets slightly windy?

Edit: And finally on GLP someone posts that the data is broken so the excellent Japanese real time simulation they have all been watching is displaying garbage output as well.

Proton storm almost at S4 levels recorded by ACE.


S 4 Severe

Biological: unavoidable radiation hazard to astronauts on EVA; passengers and crew in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes may be exposed to radiation risk.***

Satellite operations: may experience memory device problems and noise on imaging systems; star-tracker problems may cause orientation problems, and solar panel efficiency can be degraded.

Other systems: blackout of HF radio communications through the polar regions and increased navigation errors over several days are likely.

Now largest solar storm since October 2003 and still ongoing. Causing problems for ACE satellite.


NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Correction and New Data.
Earlier, it was stated that the current Solar Radiation Storm was the largest since May 2005, when the 10 MeV protons exceeded over 3000 PFU. This was not correct.
At the time of the earlier post, this current Storm was the biggest since January 2005, when the 10 MeV flux was 5040 pfu. After the arrival of the CME earlier today, the 10 MeV flux again increased and we were at around 6300 pfu. This is now the largest Solar Radiation Storm since October 2003. (The Halloween Storms)

Attached is a plot of the Protons and it shows the secondary increase of 10 MeV protons as the CME arrived.

For more information about Space Weather, please visit us at www.spaceweather.gov

And we continue towards solar cycle maximum.

And we continue towards solar cycle maximum.

Maybe because the minimum was so deep and prolonged? Could it have been building up magnetic energy deep below the surface?

There have been prolonged minimums and wild spikes in solar activities before, even within the approximate 11 year cycle.


One of history's little odd quirks: the Maunder Minimum (when solar activity was least observed, 1645-1715) corresponded roughly with the long reign of Louis XIV of France, 1638-1715. What makes it really odd is that Louis was styled, the "Sun King".

Apparently even the heavens didn't want to steal from his luster.

Another feature of solar minimums - it does have an effect on global temperatures.

The Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle — and coldest part — of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. A causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters has recently been made using data from the from NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment which shows that solar UV output is more variable over the course of the solar cycle than scientists had previously thought, and a UK scientific team published in the Nature Geoscience journal a link that ties this variability to terrestrial climate impacts in the form of warmer winters in some places and colder winters in others. The winter of 1708–9 was extremely cold.

Hence tree rings have proven to be a fairly accurate marker for those years when the sun has been at its lows and peaks.

And now I just can't wait to hear this used to brush aside Climate change. Look it's cold again. What was all that fuss about??!?

What makes it really odd is that Louis was styled, the "Sun King".

Looks like the Sun King, calmed the sun.
There is a small statistical effect by the sunspot cycle, the planet is about .1C warmer at max. Its still a bit of a mystery why, TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) varies by too little to account for it. But there is more UV during the active period, and it probably affects upper atmospheric chemistry. Its not clear if activity changes on century time scales -as opposed to at 11year time scale would even have the same sign. I'd think that the MM causing the LIA is not well established (i.e. other mechanisms could have done it instead).

I believe the simplest explanation is that they are not posting unreliable data...


From 2012 01 23 0630 to 2012 01 24 1430 they are displaying code 3 for the data, which is listed as: 3 = data are bad: solar wind speed input errors; model output likely unreliable

Yes but exactly when the model output is needed is when it shouldn't break. It is astonishing there is no info on the problem or when it is expected to be resolved. If it goes down in conditions like this then what will it do when a really bad CME approaches? Solar wind speed indicators are fine as far as I can see. Edit: Solarham says the wind data is broken due to the S3 proton storm. Hmmm...

This is like a weather model breaking down for predictions when just a Cat 1/2 approaches. At the moment all we have is the equivalent to talking by radio to someone on a ship 30 miles offshore (ACE spacecraft) and asking what the weather is like.

Here's the announcement about the recent changes. The wing model itself has been operational since early last year.


Customer announcement about upcoming changes to geomagnetic products and services

UPDATE: To ensure a smooth transition for all of our customers, the change in geomagnetic products originally scheduled for November 16th has been postponed until December 12th.
On December 12, 2011 the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) will be making numerous changes to its geomagnetic product suite. SWPC’s nowcast and forecast products, alerts, watches, and warnings will transition to be based on an estimate or prediction of the Planetary indices Kp and Ap. Currently all of these products are based off of the K-index computed from the Boulder magnetometer and the A-index from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

A new, near-real time estimated Kp index is now possible thanks to the cooperative efforts between SWPC and data providers from around the world. Current contributors include the U.S. Geological Survey, the British Geological Survey, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and the Korea Communications commission. Near real-time magnetometer data is processed and used to estimate the Kp index on a minute-by-minute basis using the technique published by Takahashi et al., 2001 (JGR 106, A10, pp 21017). The new, near-real time, NOAA estimated Kp index will be the basis of geomagnetic alerts and warnings issued by SWPC, beginning on December 12. This change will bring the alerts and warnings into conformity with the NOAA space weather scales.

Has this system been in existence long enough to have experienced this level of activity? This is probably the systems first real stress test. It shouldn't be unexpected if some deficiences are exposed.

This doesn't seem to be a software issue. It seems to be a spacecraft hardware issue which is harder to fix if so...

The alternate data source from SOHO is often unavailable due to an antenna problem but it has provided some data.

Compare with the ACE sensor now marked "bad data". SOHO saw almost 800km/sec but ACE readings saw nothing.

Hope it is fixable.

A K-index 6 expected warning is currently in effect. And a still current S3 radiation storm of course.

Edit: The conspiracy sites now have threads that the data is being censored of course, Still no official comment from anyone on what is wrong or even an admission that something is wrong other than a series of "Bad Data" in text files.

I track the weather satellites here especially during the hurricane season as the forecasts are just too far from reality. There are all sorts of drop outs and distortions that go on all the time. Broken satellite data seems par for the course.


Unfortunately this is not just drop out from ACE. it is bad data. Values are being returned but they are wrong thus crashing a whole suite of NOAA/NASA/USAF/etc. products based on it.

Found this explanation by NOAA on their Facebook page.


The attached plot is from the ACE spacecraft. The bottom 3 line plots are from the SWEPAM instrument and are currently blinded (due to Protons) so are of no use to us at the moment.

ACE spacecraft just reported a solar wind speed jump to 600 km/sec from a known faulty less than 300. Hopefully that means the sensors are now correct again or else the real speed just jumped to probably over 1200 km/sec and k-index is about to shoot up.

This doesn't seem to be a software issue.

I would think the software could have easily been stress tested, just inject synthetic data into it. The the hardware up in space, not so much.

I think the software "knew" the data was bad long before most humans did as the model marked input data as suspect long before the spacecraft data feed did. What there didn't seem to be a plan for is what to do if that data was bad - other than just to blank the public output.

I'll be looking out for more detailed explanations of what went wrong and how that can be worked around in future.

I'm puzzled. How can we still be at S3 "Strong" proton storm (for 2 days now) if almost all of the CME has now passed according to CME arrival prediction? Where's it coming from?

Rights Group Claims Iraq Returning to Days of Saddam Hussein

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nearly nine years ago, the country under Saddam Hussein was considered a police state where free speech was rare, anti-government protests were virtually non-existent and imprisoned political prisoners faced torture and death.

Now, Human Rights Watch claims that Iraq is sliding back that way again. In fact, the New York-based human rights group says that the Obama administration, in its haste to extricate itself from the long war, "left behind a budding police state."

Rising Strife Threatens Tenuous Iraqi Stability

... “All these years, the United States stayed here trying to polish the political process so they would have an excuse to leave Iraq victorious,” said William Warda, an analyst in Baghdad. “But the fact is, they left a very shaky political structure, one that has a very weak foundation. It is like a building standing on a match. What has happened since the withdrawal has proved this even more.”

Iraq’s Gharraf Oil Field Will Start Production by September

... Gharraf will initially produce about 35,000 barrels a day by the end of the third quarter of this year and will gradually increase capacity to 230,000 barrels a day by 2017, Mahdi said in an e-mailed statement from Baghdad today. The companies recently drilled four wells in Gharraf and will drill another 13 in the next six months, he said.

From the IEA World Energy Outlook press release

Reliance grows on a small number of producers: the increase in output from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is over 90% of the required growth in world oil output to 2035. If, between 2011 and 2015, investment in the MENA region runs one-third lower than the $100 billion per year required, consumers could face a near-term rise in the oil price to $150/barrel.

emphasis is mine!

And a little bit of North African instability to keep us on our toes...

Gaddafi loyalists take back Bani Walid

I don't think the MENA will provide a stable investment climate?


"Stabilish Democra-Something"

Mark Fiore's animation website:

T Boone Pickens suggests holding Congress and the Pres' feet to the fire over past promises to make us independent from foreign oil.

In 2011, the U.S. imported 4.1 billion barrels of petroleum accounting for 60% of the U.S. supply. The total cost of those imports was $453.6 billion. That represents an increase in cost of 34.6% over 2010 and a whopping increase of 71.8% over 2009.


He thinks that shows a lack of resolve.

Whatever you think of the Pickens Plan (NG and wind, mostly NG, to replace oil and coal, and TBP to profit a bunch from natural gas at least), I think he is right about the lack of resolve part.

SOTU is tomorrow; wonder if we will hear anything close to reality from any of the participants.


Well . . . he is playing with the numbers a little. A small but growing slice of that imported crude oil is refined and then re-exported as refined product. Our dependence on foreign crude for domestic consumption has dropped a little bit in the recent years mainly due to reduced consumption and the shale oil growth.

But that said, I fully agree that Congress needs to address this important issue.

Statoil buys in to Cairn’s Greenland stake

Cairn Energy, the FTSE 100 oil explorer, has sold down part of its exploration interests in Greenland’s Arctic waters to Statoil of Norway following its own failure to make a commercial oil strike during a $1.2bn drilling campaign off the island, which it opted to pursue without risk-sharing partners.

The deal could be one of several struck by Cairn in the coming months as it seeks to mitigate the risks involved in its attempts to establish Greenland as a major oil resource.

Lukoil to Invest $1.3 Billion in Arctic Venture With Bashneft

OAO Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, expects to invest about $1.3 billion from 2012 to 2022 in its Arctic venture with OAO Bashneft.

Lukoil, which in December bought a 25 percent stake in the project to develop the Trebs and Titov oil fields in northern Russia from Bashneft, expects the deposits to produce 228 million barrels of crude over the next decade, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Leonid Fedun said today on a conference call.

Huge pool of Arctic fresh water could cool Europe

UK scientists have detected a huge dome of freshwater that is developing in the western Arctic Ocean. The bulge is some 8,000 cubic km in size and has risen by about 15cm since 2002.

... Of interest to future observations is what might happen if the anticyclonic winds, which have been whipping up the bulge, change behaviour.

"If the spin-up starts to spin down, the freshwater could be released. It could go to the rest of the Arctic Ocean or even leave the Arctic Ocean."

If the freshwater were to enter the North Atlantic in large volumes, the concern would be that it might disturb the currents that have such a great influence on European weather patterns. [THC collapse]

... One consequence of less sea-ice in the region is the possibility that winds could now initiate greater mixing of the different layers in the Arctic Ocean.

Scientists are aware that there is a lot of warm water at depth.

At present, this deep water's energy is unable to influence the sea-ice because of a buffer of colder, less dense water lying between it and the floes above. But if this warm water were made to well up because of wind-driven changes at the surface, it could further accelerate the loss of seasonal ice cover.

also Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected

... not good either way

Isn't it fun this game of russian roulette we are playing with the chemistry of the atmosphere as it influences weather? So much fun wondering if methane releases could vastly increase suddenly, or if the THC could be shut down by a the huge pool of freshwater referenced in your article. What are the tipping points? We don't know but we sure as heck are going to find out. And how interesting will that be when it shifts into another gear, one we haven't experienced in modern times. Should be quite an interesting ride.

Don't forget that mixing oil into water effects how the hot water is going to mix with the cold water.

The Gulf Stream was slowing down and stopped after BP released oil and COREXIT into the water.

Source for this?

Sounds like uninformed speculation to me. The volumes when compared to the volume of the ocean are really small. Global effects are just not plausible.

And how do you propose this be tested so it is shown to be more than what you claim?

The volume of fresh water released into the ocean from ice melt is small, yet it is strongly believed to have brought cooling for Europe in the past.

The ice melt is thousands of cubic kilometers per year. Total annual oil consumption is something like 3. And the BP blowout was hundreds of times smaller than that. You would expect it to be a rounding error.

You would expect it to be a rounding error.

One would expect the effects of jet planes in the air to have no effect on the weather - yet the world-wide grounding of planes in Sept of 2001 sure did seem to have an effect.

Dispersal of the oil via COREXIT into the water sure looks like it shut down the already slowing gulf stream. Boffins in 2005 claimed the 'stream was due to stop come 2025, all the oil mixed with the water did was accelerate the issue.

The Gulf Stream is still going.

You need to source claims like this.

The Gulf Stream is still going.
You need to source claims like this.

Considering your demonstrated lack of veracity in past conversations you now demonstrate a hypocritical position by not doing what you want others to do. You can't be bothered to show your documentation supporting your position.

As one can see, the flow has dropped off to a non-existent rate VS the past.

Your own source shows the Gulfstream going just as strong today as in 2003. You can't even tell when the date cycles back to the start if you aren't watching the numbers.

Yet you accuse *me* of lying in the same breath as you prove that you were wrong.

Anyone with eyes to see will note the drop off.

And can note a stop at the end of the cycle.

There is a slight reduction in flow rate at a couple of points, and the northern arc of the flow is chaotic with a couple of points where the flow is considerably more dispersed, but you said that the Gulf Stream stopped.

Given that the flow along the southern US coastline is steady and strong through the entire dataset, I think that the veracity of your statement is questionable *at best*.

Yet another way CO2 can damage ocean life?
Carbon Dioxide Is 'Driving Fish Crazy'

The bottom line being, higher CO2 levels undermine the brains of juevenile fish, making them more likely to be eaten, and less likely to catch their own meals. I guess it won't be long until it is jellyfish all the way down.

The US Natural Gas Shakeout Begins

The problem is explained in Natural Gas Picture Still Bleak:

A supply glut pressured natural gas futures for most of 2011, as production ... remained robust, thereby overwhelming demand. ... natural gas prices have dropped approximately 50% from 2011 peak ...

... mild winter weather ... has curbed natural gas demand for heating, indicating a grossly oversupplied market that continues to pressure commodity prices in the backdrop of sustained strong production.

and the fallout is seen in Natural gas glut, low prices, prompt Chesapeake to cut exploration and production

Faced with decade-low natural gas prices that have made some drilling operations unprofitable, Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it will drastically cut drilling and production of the fuel in the U.S.

Assuming that many of these newly producing wells contributing to the glut were spudded 24 months ago (ROCKMAN, please correct my timing), here's the futures chain from January 23, 2010 that shows how companies could have hedged back then:

On January 23, 2010, natural gas for delivery in February of 2012 could have been hedged at ~ $7/mmbtu and would have generated a tidy profit if production costs ended up in the $4-6/mmbtu range.

Things look a little different currently:

Last Friday's contract for delivery of natural gas next month went for under $2.50/mmbtu. Ouch!

Today, if companies hedge 100% of their production two years out, they will get less than $4/mmbtu in February 2014 which, as I understand it, is generally below the cost of production. Chesapeake's action belies this fact. They cannot profitably hedge and are apparently unwilling to gamble on an increase in prices.

You can blame it on a warm winter or on surprisingly robust production from shale plays but the fact is that production has outpaced consumption and we are about to move from shale gas boom to shale gas bust until production and consumption get back in sync at prices above, say, $6/mmbtu.

This will force natural gas producers to scale back on drilling and will force me to move the legend on the natural gas chart so that we don't cover up prices in the $2-$4 range -- prices we didn't think we would be seeing.


(Charts from the Market Futures databrowser)

I believe the unexpected aspect was the impact of high oil prices -- it makes oily gas wells with a high liquid content into money-makers even during the gas glut. Expensive oil helping to create cheap gas. It's an unusual energy arbitrage point.

It is a good time to be an in situ tar sands oil producer since that is largely an arbitrage between natural gas and oil.

Chesapeake reportedly hedged very little of their 2012 gas production. Big mistake.

Jonathan - Had lunch today with a marketing/hedging hand and his view mimics yours. In fact the situation makes any efforts to buy NG properties more difficult for us because many projects were financed through mezzanine investors that typically require much if not all the company's production hedged to insure the profits of the money lenders. So the net position is even worse than it appears: the investor companies get their money first; what's left, if anything, goes to the operator. It's not uncommon for these "bankers" to net 25% or more of a project. If we buy their production the hedge comes with it...and that can easily be a deal killer.

Haven't forgot my promise: have the Eagle Ford production to everyone in a day or two.

Wow. Some gas turbine heavy Electric utilities must be seeing some windfall profits. I suspect they are not going to share that wealth by lowering my electric bill.

Except that some of them were hedging counterparties. The regulated ones will have to pass thru actual savings(lagged in time), they pretty much all operate with fuel/purchased power cost balancing accounts. For merchants, the black spread is going to be low (or even negative a few places), which will be bad for the profits of IPP coal plants that haven't already sold their output forward.

Japanese Struggle to Protect Their Food Supply

It is a terrible situation with all that cesium spewed out all over. But the Japanese managed to make a really bad situation worse by allowing a lot of radioactive materials to be incinerated such that many of the radioactive elements were allowed to go airborne and contaminate more areas.

I don't think Japan has yet come to terms with the amount of contamination that has occurred. Direct radiation levels are low but there is a lot of radioactive material that is going to get inside of people through inhalation or ingestion and cause cancers in the long term. I sure hope no such accident happens near me.

"Japan has yet to come to terms with the amount of contamination that has occurred."

That just about sums it up. They are not willing to admit it so they try to deny it for as long as possible. It's not "cleanable", you just have to wait until it goes through its decay chain. Until then, you have a new national park, protected to the maximum against human disturbance. Admit it fast and get to work dealing with the displaced. Eastern Fukushima is off limits, and some other areas can no longer produce food (probably most of Fukushima prefecture).

Democracies may have lots of advantages over less free governments, but at least the USSR figured out the implications of their disaster quickly, and dealt with it.

I suspect the problem isn't democracy versus autocracy. I suspect it lies somewhere within Japanese or possibly Asian values. It looks like admitting something terrible is to avoided at all costs. Every culture has aspects which given the right circumstances can be harmful. I think we are seeing theirs on display.

Chernobyl was their second, so they had the "advantage" of experience.

Direct radiation levels are low

And not improving.

[Tepco] on Monday reported an increase in radioactive materials leaking from damaged nuclear reactors [...]
The total amount of radioactive cesium that leaked from the containment vessels of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors reached 70 million becquerels per hour, up 12 million becquerels from the December level [...]

Meanwhile Fission supporters call Fukushima a point source problem.

Yep, it is a point source problem.

You can assert otherwise, but unless you demonstrate that you even understand what a point source is and show how it isn't I'll continue to believe that you are just blowing propaganada.

A point source problem all over the globe and that makes 20+ square miles a no-go zone.

You aren't helping yourself here. Take a step back, check out "point-source" on Wikipedia or someplace similar, and review your math.

I can wait.

Gen Y's embrace of hybrids may be auto market's tipping point

Generation Y's strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the generation that leads the automotive market away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, according to an annual survey by Deloitte and Michigan State University.

The price of your soul: How the brain decides whether to 'sell out'

"Our experiment found that the realm of the sacred – whether it's a strong religious belief, a national identity or a code of ethics – is a distinct cognitive process,"

... "Most public policy is based on offering people incentives and disincentives," Berns says. "Our findings indicate that it's unreasonable to think that a policy based on costs-and-benefits analysis will influence people's behavior when it comes to their sacred personal values, because they are processed in an entirely different brain system than incentives."

... explains why [psychopathic] CEO's or Politicians have so little difficulty 'selling out'.

"As culture changes, it affects our brains, and as our brains change, that affects our culture. You can't separate the two," Berns says.

I wonder which part of the brain processes refined crude oil and which is mired in the oil sands muck?

Interesting article. Thanks.

Unprecedented, man-made trends in ocean's acidity

"In some regions, the man-made rate of change in ocean acidity since the Industrial Revolution is hundred times greater than the natural rate of change between the Last Glacial Maximum and pre-industrial times," emphasizes Friedrich. "When Earth started to warm 17,000 years ago, terminating the last glacial period, atmospheric CO2 levels rose from 190 parts per million (ppm) to 280 ppm over 6,000 years. Marine ecosystems had ample time to adjust. Now, for a similar rise in CO2 concentration to the present level of 392 ppm, the adjustment time is reduced to only 100 – 200 years."

"Our results suggest that severe reductions are likely to occur in coral reef diversity, structural complexity and resilience by the middle of this century," ...

Is not the pH daily variation (night and day) much greater than the long term variation?

I don't think it was PH that was thought to be the driver. Also the fish nervous system takes long enough to develope to average out multiple day/night cycles.

The primary issue with ocean acidity is the fear that it rises to a point that prevents calcification by the mollusks, etc, i.e. materials that require a base pH to form (coral, shells) are dissolved away in the event of a more acidic one. If the daily variation is greater than the long term trend, and I don't know that it is, then there is little chance of harm.

This is another independent mechanism by which it can mess up the biological community.

Extraordinary claims that this or that action will destroy the world require extraordinary proof, especially actions that previously for decades have been a common occurrence, like walking your doggy. The assertion that something might be 'mess[ed] up' doesn't meet the standard, and won't have me rushing out to vote for a ban on doggy walking.

Past is prologue ...

Ancient lessons for a modern challenge

What caused the collapse of the Cambodian city of Angkor, the largest preindustrial city in the world, 600 years ago?

... They found that at the time Angkor collapsed, sediment deposition rates dropped significantly, water levels fell dramatically. This led to changes in the ecology of the reservoir and, says Mary Beth, is likely to be a cause of the region’s collapse, although not the only one.

She says that the political and social unrest between the lower and ruling classes created a perfect storm which meant that the city was not equipped to tackle the environmental challenges of the drought. “It was too much for them to handle all at once,” she says, adding that deforestation may have contributed to the area’s environmental problems.

Future archeologist may arrive at the same conclusions about Phoenix, Las Vegas and other SW cities.

Lease option increases rooftop solar's appeal, study says

The new third-party-lease business model lets homeowners save money the very first month, rather than breaking even a decade later after an initial investment of $10,000 or $20,000.

Analysts with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the solar lease models are surging in southern California. And they’re being adopted in less affluent neighborhoods that had few customer-owned systems.

The NREL study, “The Transformation of Southern California’s Residential Photovoltaics Market through Third-Party Ownership,” is in the current edition of the journal Energy Policy.


'Oil prices rise as Iran renews threats to close strategic waterway; natural gas rises'

The price of oil stayed around $100 a barrel in recent weeks on concerns about tanker traffic through the Persian Gulf.

Look at the following link and check oil prices for the last year. The current price is not unusual, it's right in the middle of what prices have been for over a year. The straits closing threat by Iran has only shifted the numbers a few dollars, and is not the primary reason for the price to be near a hundred dollars. That reason is supply & demand, that is unless the Chris Cook effect takes place and prices plunge to 45-55 a barrel (I'm not holding my breath on that prediction).


I keep seeing these articles headlined about the rising price of oil! WTI has been between 90 & 110 for a long time now. The WTI price will be at say 96-99 for weeks, then once it goes above 100, MSM articles on the topic go viral. Almost like when the temperature in Summer goes from 99F to 101F, there's suddenly a big concern for rising temperatures. Why are people so easily led to think something has risen a huge amount, simply by virtue of it having gone from 2 digits to 3? Oh, that's right, they're innumerate.

Bjorn Lomborg's climate sceptic thinktank to close

Copenhagen Consensus Centre, directed by the high profile opponent of tackling global warming, is to close in July after the Danish government cut its funding

Governments Spend $1.4 Billion Per Day to Destabilize Climate

We distort reality when we omit the health and environmental costs associated with burning fossil fuels from their prices. When governments actually subsidize their use, they take the distortion even further. Worldwide, direct fossil fuel subsidies added up to roughly $500 billion in 2010. Of this, supports on the production side totaled some $100 billion. Supports for consumption exceeded $400 billion, with $193 billion for oil, $91 billion for natural gas, $3 billion for coal, and $122 billion spent subsidizing the use of fossil fuel-generated electricity. All together, governments are shelling out nearly $1.4 billion per day to further destabilize the earth’s climate.

Peak Helium?
From Jalopnik:
When Formula One’s leaders met in Geneva on November 3rd to vote on the proposed name changes for three teams, they also decided on a minor rule change for 2012: a ban on using helium to drive the wheel guns during pitstops.


Newt's Victory: Was it a "Surge" of popularity or faulty voting machines?

... Anyway, I thought this might be of interest to those of you (like me) who feel that there's more here than meets the eye. Here's an excerpt from a post at Bev Harris's Black Box Voting:

"In South Carolina, 100% of election results will be redirected through a private Barcelona, Spain-owned company, Scytl/SOE Software, before being reported to the public.

In Broward County FL, the results reported by Scytl-owned SOE Software in 2008 showed an entire candidate, who was winning, disappear into vapor in the middle of the count, and in Hillsborough County FL and Dallas County TX, votes that had been reported began to disappear." ("100% OF SOUTH CAROLINA VOTES GO THROUGH SCYTL", Bev Harris, http://blackboxvoting.org/ )

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

... The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back. It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending. Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

Say hello to the new 'Dear Leader'

The late Christopher Hitchens, who may have best been described as somewhat of a professional skeptic, went to Ohio after the 2004 election to investigate allegations of voter fraud. He was skeptical going in, but came out convinced that the election had been stolen. Link to discussion:


Newt’s Plan to Overthrow Iran: Bombs, Hackers, Popes and Oil

... Gingrich hardly thinks a military strike is the only way to bring down the Islamic Republic. There’s an inescapable economic component to it: “We ought to have a massive, all-sources energy program in the United States designed to … literally replace the Iranian oil.” Yes, the U.S. already produces more than four times the amount of oil Iran exports; but there’s still more to be drilled, Gingrich contends.

I remember the time after the 2004 election as being a particularly bad one for me. It was obvious Ohio was rigged. It was very hard to accept the country going in that direction, it seemed like the crazies were taking over the nation. Then the liberal masses fought back in 2006 and 2008. Did they overwhelm attempts to rig the system?

In any event, it's hard to trust these machines.

The SC primary was an open primary, which means that anyone can pick up a Republican ballot and vote. It's highly likely that lots of Independents and Democrats voted in the election and may have voted for Newt over "the rich Yankee from up north". Remember the so-called "Yellow Dog Democrats" who voted for the Democratic Party because of the Civil War, which was caused by the Republican President, Abraham Lincoln? Most of them are now Republicans. Florida will be a straight party registration contest, which may favor Romney over Gingrich. Of course, the conspiracy theories might be right, such as the Diebold company in Ohio during the 2004, but, how would we know for sure?

E. Swanson

Here's a link to a website that shows the latest polls for Florida in the GOP prez primary.


Forget the average, ck. out the latest two polls that show Gingrich leading by 9% and 8%, both taken on 1/22.

Republican's seem to be going for the guy that represents their anger rather than the guy that might have the best chance to win the general election. If so, then it might be another Bob Dole type loss for the GOP.

If you're implying what I think you might be implying - that "the guy that might have the best change to win the general election" is Romney - then you must have been asleep all last year.

Newt is a terrible candidate. Romney is unelectable. I cannot state this strongly enough. He's a buyout artist, a child of privledge, who makes literally tens of millions a year doing nothing at this point. On top of that, he pays 13.9% in taxes. His "not very much" in speaking fees - $374,000 - puts him in the top 1%. Yes, he works hard, yes, he is a clean cut dude who doesn't have nasty sex scandals, but he's the very essence of wealth, privledge, and the worst aspects of the financial/business world. He absolutely cannot win against Obama. Even Ron Paul has a better chance (because he would splinter the democrats), IMHO, and most people have been convinced that he's crazy.

Not-rich people simply don't like or trust Romney:

Romney's financial background is so bad that no amount of media massaging or corporate money is going to make it look good. If OWS did anything, it made Romney unelectable. I am constantly baffled that anyone thinks he could win. The only way to put him in office is a coup, perhaps through a stolen election, but short of that, there is no way.

I don't know that it's made him unelectable.. just highly distasteful.. but look at their choices, and the motley 'hopefuls' that have been tipped off of the conveyor belt so far.

There is a class war out in the foyer, but in the hush of the final voting booths, I think there is also a tendency to go for the clean cut, rich and powerful.. the ones who are up for the kind of Front-Office Streetfighting that they'll have to do in DC.

It's not surprising that we're seeing Newt, Mitt and Santorum up there now. (Starting to sound like a wierd 50's TV Puppet Show, isn't it?)

Gingrich the Newt, Romney the Rat (aka: Willard), Rick the......well..

Nah, they're just Champaign Conservatives.

...hmmm, I can think of a way...
suppose he pulls a rabbit out of his hat and taps Gen Petraeus for veep. A stunning coup that completely cleanses the stain of the current intra-party bickering we are witnessing.
Republicans would close ranks and rally to the authoritarian figure. Could Mitt tolerate being upstaged by his #2? I bet he could.
Not only would it boost Mitt, heal fissures, rally the base, it would be seen as a defection and hurt Obama.
Don't know why this never gets considered, the R's were considering running him for prez back in 2010. He has never declared as anything but an 'independent' as far as I know...indeed it is speculated the main reason he was selected for CIA was prophylactic political calculations.

I think Romney is going to expose why GOP policies as not very attractive the voters. 13.9% tax rate on a wealthy millionaire who can just sit on his butt? How is that providing an incentive for him to work? If he works, his tax rate will go up. So our system now incentivizes our "best & brightest" to sit on their butts. Maybe run for president as a hobby.

BTW, the government is in an economic crisis . . . when we have a military crisis the poor sign up and give their lives in battle. But with this financial/economic crisis, can we ask Mitt to pay 3% more? Oh heavens no! I want to see the government get its financial house in order and that will certainly involve cutting various entitlement programs. But the fact that raising taxes is completely off the table for the GOP seems quite unfair. Especially when you look at Mitt paying at a lower tax rate than Joe Six-pack.

Look, it's a comedy, so it should damn well be funny. Romney is boring. I'm thinking Gingrich and Santorum in either combination. Two blithering idiots, one who thinks he's a genius and the other who doesn't care. It's not like it actually matters who's selected, they're all cunning enough to carry water for the powerful and their banks and corporations, and the empire will continue on without missing a beat. But it was a lot more fun criticizing Bush than Obama - too many people still think Obama is serious, while no one was under any illusions about that with Bush.

Did you see Romney's tax info? He has accounts in Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and had one in Switzerland until the Swiss started reporting it last year.......
Why would Romney need these foreign bank accounts?????

My daffodils are under a foot of snow, thank you;

I picked five (green) tomatoes yesterday.

US Supreme court overturns California meat safety law

The US Supreme Court Monday overturned a California law that set strict standards for slaughtering and selling the meat of sick and injured animals.

The California law forbids a slaughterhouse to "buy, sell, or receive a nonambulatory animal," butcher it or sell its meat, or hold it without immediately euthanizing it.

The California State Legislature passed the law in response to a documentary released in January 2008. It showed obviously sick animals just before being slaughtered and cruel treatment of them by slaughterhouse workers at two plants in Chino, California.

The film showed the animals being dragged with chains, rammed with a forklift or having pressurized water squirted up their nostrils to get them to move

It's not personal ... It's just business

It's not personal ... It's just business

... for them who claim they "love life" (/sarcasm)

I was wondering what grounds the USSC had for overturning the law. The article says the states can't regulate meatpacking because the FDA has that authority. Gotta love the Feds - "We aren't doing our job, and we won't let you do our job either."

I hope there's a special place in hell for the psychopathic "workers" at these farm factories.
You really do have to wonder what kind of families are formed by these "people". Nice to know they're out in public too.

Well . . . to some degree they may be like soldiers traumatized in war until they lose parts of their humanity. In order to do such unpleasant work you must build up an attitude that there is no suffering in these animals. How else could you handle a job of endless slaughter?

Reading recommendation: Animals Make Us Human.

We had a similar expose here in Oz last year, dealing with Cattle we'd sold to Indonesian factories, being tortured before being killed. The resulting public outcry nearly killed the Live Export industry, until the ALP did it's now-expected spineless cave-in to vested interests, aided and abetted by the LNP (who are joined at the hip to those interests) and News LTD.

Many times I despair of and despise my own species.

Much nicer to look at....


For many of Earth’s creatures, time is running out. Half of the world’s plant and animal species will soon be threatened with extinction. The goal of the Biodiversity Project is simple: to show what’s at stake, and to get people to care, while there’s still time to save them. More than 1,800 species have been photographed to date, with more to come.

Enjoy it while it's still here.


NOT ONE WORD of this reported in the states.
1: Beef is big business here. 2: Many jobs are outsourced to Indonesia. 3: The media is not for the public good.

For those wondering, the expose was from 4 Corners, one of the few (but still not perfect) investigative journalism programs still running in Australia (the ABC is to Australia what the BBC is to the UK). 4 Corners is now headed by Kerry 'The Red Terror' O'Brien, formerly of The 730 Report, famed for his 'clamp down and don't let go' style of questioning.

The hype over the Volt catching fire was so overblown. Now that the feds have cleared the car, we should focus, instead, on the fact that over 100K gasoline powered automobiles burst into flame each year resulting in thousands of injuries and numerous deaths. The real firetrap is the vehicle carrying a 32 gallon canister of gasoline...

US oil production to surge on shale output-EIA


Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace

The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.

... beyond training activities, the military also envisions a role for UAS in unspecified “domestic operations” in civilian airspace, according to a 2007 Memorandum of Agreement between the DoD and the FAA, which regulates domestic air traffic.

The 2007 Memorandum, which is appended to the new Army directive, was said to “allow, in accordance with applicable law, increased access for DoD UAS into the elements of the NAS [National Airspace System] outside of DoD-managed Restricted Areas or Warning Areas.” The 2007 agreement was intended to “ensure DoD UAS assets have NAS access for domestic operations, including the War on Terror (WOT)…

Just like Pakistan ... nothing to see here folks

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and the earthquake that forced the North Anna, VA, nuclear power plant’s temporary shutdown have focused attention on the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing commercial nuclear power plants.

Some Members of Congress have questioned whether U.S nuclear plants are more vulnerable to seismic threats than previously assessed, particularly given the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) ongoing reassessment of seismic risks at certain plant sites.

... In late March 2011, NRC announced that it had identified 27 nuclear reactors operating in the Central and Eastern United States [CEUS] that would receive priority earthquake safety reviews.

Big Tokyo earthquake likely 'within the next few years'

The chance of a big earthquake hitting the Japanese capital in the next few years is much greater than official predictions suggest, researchers say.

The team, from the University of Tokyo, said there was a 75% probability that a magnitude seven quake would strike the region in the next four years.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo's earthquake research institute based their figures on data from the growing number of tremors in the capital since the 11 March 2011 quake.

They say that compared with normal years, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of quakes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since the March disaster.

Plans for sea energy device Searaser

A Devon inventor's electricity from seawater generator could be sited at 200 points around the UK coastline.

Energy firm Ecotricity wants to develop a commercial Searaser for testing off Falmouth in Cornwall and put hundreds around the coast in five years

It believes that 200 sites could generate enough energy to power about 230,000 homes.

Ran across what appears to be TheOilDrum Drumbeat of Cold Fusion News


... apologies if it's been posted already :-)

Thanks, Ghung.

That is an excellent piece. I am still mulling it over.

My take is if this "cold fusion" phenomena exists, its probably at the "quantum" level where physics is still poorly understood. I am poorly equipped to explain anything, but at least I am well equipped to measure it.

The article details several illusions that would make it appear that excess heat has been generated. I am still leaning toward an illusion involving latent and sensible heats of water and steam. What little I can glean from the videos lead me to this conclusion. If I could personally get there and measure things ( including running the water from and into garbage cans on a scale so I know how much water got heated to boiling, and how much I boiled. But nay, they wanna do it the expensive way.

My guess is they are doing the Terawatt thing to get names to drop. Big names impress big spenders more than good science. Incidentally, anyone notice Terawatt privatized their new work after we discussed here on The Oil Drum?

You'd be surprised at how well quantum mechanics in solid state devices is understood these days. Cutting edge chip designers need to account for quantum effects, which means they need to understand them pretty darn well.

Imagine the disruption unexpected fusion reactions could have on chips where the features are only a few atoms wide.

Nice, demolishes it in so many ways.


Interesting link, Seraph.

This whole thing has me like a little kid at a magic show. Although everything in me tells me this is a dog-and-pony show for the benefit of investors, there is a spark of hope he is onto something.

I made a lengthy post here in which I analyze a YouTube video.


As you probably know, Australian businessman Dick Smith sent a skeptical engineer ( Bryce )to review Rossi's work. Here is his observations.


They are similar to my observations of the videos that got on YouTube. I was really annoyed at that black hose which was flushing the evidence of what was ( or more likely, wasn't ) happening neatly down the drain.

I am quite envious of engineer Bryce. Its been my experience that businessmen have excellent people skills, I have met very few that knew what enthalpy was. Not many engineers know thermodynamics either. How many would know how to read a book of steam tables? I have quite a few books of tables of thermodynamic properties of various substances. I use them for heat transfer calculations.

I watch all this going on but I feel so powerless to do anything. Its a special kind of hell to watch something like this go on, know exactly how to evaluate it, but not be "in the loop". Kinda like knowing the answer to a TV game show question and wanting to tell the contestant. But the stakes are so much higher.

Give up the hope.

In the description of the experiment I read Rossi was openly beaming power into the apparatus without revealing the power draw of the beam, as well as providing incomplete thermodynamic accounting, and that one read like a friendly observer.

A really working LENR apparatus is trivial to demonstrate, and the fact that nobody claiming a "working" LENR model is willing or able to produce an obviously clean demonstration paints them all with the perpetual motion machine brush.

Defkalion did a press release today saying they will be doing third party testing in the next two months.

Anybody can issue a press release.

Scotty might be able to violate the laws of physics, but he's a fictional character. Us mere mortals don't get the luxury of making up convenient physics no matter how much we wish to.

You need to set yourself up with some kind of fake sheikh identity. If they think you are a mug with money to invest in them, they might let you get close enough to see what's going on.

Here is a better site for LENR articles.


U.S.: Nation will be more energy independent by 2035

The nation will be more energy independent in the future as it boosts its production of oil, natural gas and renewable power such as solar and wind, the U.S. government predicted Monday.

Domestic crude oil production is expected to jump more than 20% in the coming decade, from 5.5 million barrels per day in 2010 to 6.7 million barrels per day in 2020 -- a level not seen since 1994, according to an annual forecast released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Much of that growth comes from tight oil, which is fractured from shale rock formations in the Bakken area of North Dakota.
Some key findings:

- Domestic crude oil production is expected to grow by more than 20 percent over the coming decade:

- With modest economic growth, increased efficiency, growing domestic production, and continued adoption of nonpetroleum liquids, net petroleum imports make up a smaller share of total liquids consumption:

- U.S. production of natural gas is expected to exceed consumption early in the next decade: The United States is projected to become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2016, a net pipeline exporter in 2025, and an overall net exporter of natural gas in 2021.

- Use of renewable fuels and natural gas for electric power generation rises:

- Total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remain below their 2005 level through 2035:

... and they have been SO-O 'spot on' over the years!

Total CO2 down means they think the US will have a greatly reduced ability to import.

What does the logistic depletion curves look like for gas wells of this size?


The U.S. Energy Department cut its estimate for natural gas reserves in the Marcellus shale formation by 66 percent, citing improved data on drilling and production.

About 141 trillion cubic feet of gas can be recovered from the Marcellus shale using current technology, down from the previous estimate of 410 trillion, the department said today in its Annual Energy Outlook. About 482 trillion cubic feet can be produced from shale basins across the U.S., down 42 percent from 827 trillion in last year’s outlook.

Toyota finds way to avoid using rare earth: report

Toyota Motor Corp has developed a way to make hybrid and electric vehicles without the use of expensive rare earth metals, in which China has a near-monopoly, Japan's Kyodo News reported.

Toyota, the world's top producer of fuel-saving hybrid cars such as the Prius, could bring the technology to market in two years if the price of rare earths does not come down, Kyodo said, citing a source familiar with the matter

Did they just now discover the induction motor that AC Propulsion has been using for two decades now?

Everthing Old is New Again

Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When ev'ry thing old is new again

Toyota has been working on new ferrite materials to use as magnets equal to the rare earth ones.


There are alternatives. I'd bet, the new magnets make for bulkier less efficient engines than could be made with the rare earths. But, having a design which doesn't require them is an important hedging strategy.

Carbon can be made magnetic. The technology is in its infancy.

Or you can go to high efficiency (brushed) DC motors that don't need any magnets, like the Agni Motor

This motor, with a peak output of 30kW and weighing only 11kg, is about of the best power to weight ratio out there.

Brushed DC is not sexy, but they can be simple and very effective - that's why this motor has powered many winning e-bikes.

Brushed DC. AKA your basic golf cart motor.

Which also powers several of the worlds fastest street-legal electric cars (see White Zombie).

I have a Kostov 9" on order. :)

The site has little information. It is called an improvement of the Lynch motor... which does have magnets. I looks like a pancake-type motor. There are core-less versions of pancake motors: 0-3000 RPM in a few milliseconds! I used to play with them out of old tape drives.
Much better views inside:

8 brushes.
About 80 poles.
Nice piece.

Thanks for the interesting stuff!

I note the excitement over LiFePO4 cells...

Here's a powerpoint file from batteryspace.com


Google will give you a HTML version


One of their bullet points is that the elements to build these batteries are commonly available.

25 Things You Need to Know About the Future

FUTURE-GAZING is a risky business. Cautious predictions may often come true, but a futurist stating the obvious lacks punch. On the flip side, bold forecasts may generate more buzz, but they are likely to go the same way as the predictions of flying cars and the household robots we are still waiting for.

Fortunately, in 25 Things You Need to Know About the Future, Christopher Barnatt treads a fine line between these two extremes with skill and balance. All the known quantities are here: from the realities of peak oil, to the burgeoning fields of synthetic biology and ubiquitous computing. ...

Part I: The End of the Age of Plenty

1. Peak Oil
2. Climate Change
3. Peak Water
4. Food Shortages
5. Resource Depletion

Texas Instrument to close plants in Houston, Japan

Texas Instruments plans to close computer-chip factories in Houston and Japan in a cost-cutting move that will lay off about 1,000 workers.

The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.

What? I thought the world was cooling down since 1998? Oh my, I must have been missinformed.


ACrikey.com.au readers will be aware that Andrew Bolt (Australia's premiere expert in The Stolen Generation, Climate Change, Libel Laws, Freedom of The Press, Ocean Currents, ALP internal dissent, why minority government doesn't work, Genetics, Atmospheric Physics, Isotopes, Tree Rings, The Little Ice Age, Live Exports, international relations, employment economics, and agricultural policy, amongst other things) apparently thinks that the globe has been cooling since 1998/2001/2003/last Tuesday.

NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record


South Pole hits record high temperature on Christmas Day

The temperature officially hit 9.9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12.3 degrees Celsius) about 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 25, according to South Pole Station External U.S. government site senior meteorologist Phillip Marzette. That shattered the old record of 7.5F (minus 13.6C) set on Dec. 27, 1978


On Putting Plankton Before People, above:

This is why I hate global warming as the defining issue of "environmentalism". Guess what? Nearly every bad thing said about dams is true. Especially for large dams. They are an environmental disaster, especially for fish like salmon and eels that migrate between oceans and rivers. Not to mention that they trap silt, which leads to eroded shorelines as beaches don't get rebuilt. Also, lowered fertility in downstream farmland. Yes, they provide a lot of power, but there is a nasty trade-off. Run of the river hydro is one possible alternative, but even it is destructive.

Salmon runs in many places used to so rich that descriptions say it seemed as though you could walk across the river on the backs of the salmon. Those types of runs have been fished and dammed out of existence in most places. The author of this piece doesn't seen to realize that we are living in a severly degraded environment - just as most people don't know. I was reading a Japanese comic recently, and in it some kids go on a school trip and release salmon into a river, and it says, "these salmon are endangered due to global warming". NOPE. They are endangered because we dammed nearly every single river.

The thing that greens realize that this author does not is that if we constantly put "people" first, we will eventually kill ourselves, because we depend on the living planet to support us. We need to find a way to live on the planet without destroying everything, or otherwise we will die, sooner or later. Ultimately, this is what we need to realize. Human activity may be inevitably destructive, but we aren't even having the conversation about how to live more lightly on the earth in a serious way. Instead we focus on global warming, while ignoring our back yards (and streets and beaches and everything else). This fuels the nuclear fantasy (clean! except for when it blows up and contaminates everything for miles!) as well.

Let's just not kill ourselves. It may take some doing, but shouldn't we try? We may have to dam some rivers, but do we have to dam every single one? Do we really have to kill ourselves slowly to live?

HI adamx,

re: "It may take some doing, but shouldn't we try?"

I'm in favor.

Buffett’s Railroad Among Winners From Keystone Denial

Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.

With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.
Shipping oil using tank cars on rail costs about $3 more a barrel than pipeline transport, using prices in North Dakota, a differential “unlikely” to slow the development of oil sands crude if no pipeline is build, the State Department said.
Burlington Northern carries about 25 percent of the oil from the Bakken, said Krista York-Wooley, the railroad spokeswoman. The company can carry higher volumes from North Dakota or Alberta
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP)’s shipments from North Dakota climbed to more than 13,000 carloads last year from about 500 in 2009, Ed Greenberg, a spokesman, said in an e-mail. The Calgary- based company has a similar plan in western Canada.

I hope the RR companies can keep up with the maintenance on those tank cars. When I was working on RR safety issues, we found that they tend to fall off the rails if not adequately maintained...

E. Swanson

Oh boy, that will have the conspiracy theorists going wild.

I maintain that Obama is just using pipeline as a bargaining chip. It is a foregone conclusion that he will approve it, it is just a matter of getting something for it. Just a little pay-back for those on other side of the aisle that endlessly threaten to shut down the government.

it is just a matter of getting something for it

Regrettably you might be correct.

If past is prologue, Obama is nothing more than a Manchurian progressive.

Do you think Obama will mention our "addiction to foreign oils" in his State of the Disunion Speech tonight?

Not sure if he will 'specifically' mention our addiction to oils, but do find it fascinating that everything important seems to 'generally' get leaked before it is officially spoken. The White House has already described what Obama will be talking about, 'the need for a progressive society', and Boehner has already come out against it (standing on no such need, because it gets in the way of a two tier class system - lords and slaves) without hearing the details. Just for once I'd love to hear something like a state of the union address without any hint of what would be in it. Surprise us for a change.

Wall Street does not like surprises.

(And BTW, who do you suppose Obama answers to? Who brung him to the party room and therefore has a dance card with the man?)

post script: Outline for Obama's STOTUS has been released and recognition of energy crisis does not appear to be on it. Instead the main topic will be building a sustainable USA economy.

An America Built to Last

post post script correction:

Energy Production

Obama also will devote a section of his speech to U.S. energy production. In a video to supporters over the weekend, he said economic growth can be “fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources.”


Last March, he called for new incentives to boost production of oil, natural gas and biofuels, tougher fuel- efficiency standards for vehicles and greater reliance on cleaner sources of energy, including nuclear power.

source is here

If the regulatory issue is the pipeline crossing at the border, why don't they build the pipeline from the gulf to the border, and then simply have a short rail loop to bring oil across the border?

If oil prices skyrocket, this decision will be heavy weight for Obama to carry. If oil prices drop, he may skate through election season.

It is rare for a politician to take such a strong stance on an unpredictable issue. Either Obama doesn't "get it" about oil prices, or he's really more polarized than he has appeared to date, or he's already made a deal -- only with somebody else.

This pushes oil to China. Maybe that's with whom the deal has been cut?

What strong stance? They issued a 'please re-apply' denial.

The pipeline represents a truly massive taking of private property by the federal government through eminent domain. That requires a over-riding public interest, which has not been made crystal clear, yet.
Conservatives are supposed to be protectors of private property rights, but I guess principles go out the window when multi-national oil companies tell them to "jump."
If I were President Obama negotiating Keystone, I would demand American workers, American-made equipment and pipe, a per-barrel fee paid to the U.S. Treasury and the option to tap the line to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
But then I also think every drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico working an American lease should be built in an American shipyard.

jay - I may have the facts wrong since most have come second hand but there won't be "a massive taking of private property". Many of the surface owners have agreed to sell their right of way. Of course, those that don't will be forced to by ED rules. I'm sure I wouldn't be pleased to have a p/l built across my property that I had other plans for. OTOH, every utility (water, electricity, NG) I get right now is passing through some's land where the ROW was acquired by ED. Likewise, there are many hundreds of thousands of miles of ROW acroos this country with many acquired by ED. As I've said I wouldn't like being subject to that rule but OTOH how would society fucntion without it.

The use of Eminent Domain to acquire land to build a pipelines seems to be unique to the US.

In Canada, companies try to buy an easement on the property, which gives them the right to enter and build a pipeline across it. The owner retains surface rights and can plant seasonal crops, build sidewalks or roads on top of the pipeline, and do minor landscaping, but cannot put a building on top. The company has the right to enter the property at any time to maintain the pipeline.

If the company cannot negotiate an easement with the owner, then it goes to the government and gets a right of entry (ROE) order which allows it to enter the property and build the pipeline across it regardless of the owner's objections. This normally involves some compensation to the owner, and in general the same rules apply as for an easement.

In many cases, it comes as a surprise to someone who buys a large farm that there are numerous easements registered against the property. Farm land looks all the same whether or not there's a pipe under it. Only the warning signs where they cross under the roads give them away.

Rocky - I've had many p/l's built across areas of the Gulf Coast and not once used ED to acquire the right. I've always had a policy of keeping it friendly with the landowners: they're out there with your expensive equipment 24/7...when you're not watching. Sh*t happens...ya know. LOL. Always negotiated a cash settlement with the landowner. The vast majority of ED battles I've seen were between landowners and the govt. Perhaps memory fades but I don't recall one land owner who wasn't pleased to have a p/l build across their land: free money, the cattle keep grazing and the cotton keeps growing. And we cleared a sendero. And the operator pays to keep it mowed. Some folks refer to a sendero as a deer shooting gallery BTW.

Well, the free money aspect of it does appeal to farmers and ranchers. You pay them for the land, you build your pipeline, and then you give the land back to them and they continue to grow crops or graze cattle on it as before. It takes a certain obstinacy on the part of the landowner to turn down the deal.

So while in the US the government can use "Eminent Domain" to force a pipeline across your property against your wishes, instead in Canada the government can use a "Right Of Entry" to force a pipeline across your property against your wishes?


Eminent domain

Eminent domain (United States), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption / compulsory acquisition (Australia), or expropriation (South Africa and Canada) is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development.

It's called "expropriation" in Canada, but it isn't normally used for building a pipeline because the company doesn't need to own the land, it just needs to run a pipeline under it. The owner can continue to use the surface as he always has.

A Right of Entry (ROE) order is a lot less infringing on landowner's rights than Eminent Domain because it just gives the company the right to enter on a property without committing trespass and build their pipeline. Once the pipeline is finished, the landowner still owns the land, so his rights have only been temporarily infringed upon, and he gets paid for the infringement.

Land ownership in Canada is never absolute, however. People only own certain rights to land, never the whole ball of wax. They have to look at the title documents and read the law books to find out what they actually own.

Well the state can use its power of eminent domain to just buy an easement. They don't always have to buy everything outright although they can do so if they wish.

companies try to buy an easement on the property,

That can create some bad incentives. If you can arrange to be the single holdout, you could demand a very very high price!

Holding out only works up to a point. If the company thinks the landowner's demand are unreasonable, it will go to the government and get a Right of Entry order instead. The government will look at how much land in the area sells for, and base their decision on that.

In general, both the company and the landowner know how much land is worth in the area, so that's the starting point for negotiations. The landowner can often negotiate a lot of freebies from the company as long as they don't involve actual cash payments or put the company out too much.

What most annoys me about dialogue on the Internet these days is that it's so utterly lacking in a sense of direction.

So the Internet exists to have a 'sense of direction' in 'dialogue'. My, my. What an "interesting world" the author must live in where all the verbal conversations around 'em all have a 'sense of direction'.

How much planning has been done, for example, to deal with the massive global famine that is approaching? None.


Huh. So all these people planting gardens, the Transition movement, discussions about Peak Phosphorous is "none"?

Perhaps if the original author would stop making stawmen out of ears of corn there would be enough food.

Vehicle miles driven drops again!


This is the ninth straight month with a year-over-year decline in miles driven, although this is the smallest decline for 2011.

Interesting...nothing can grow forever...

Exporter Japan eyes first trade deficit in 3 decades

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan probably produced its first trade deficit last year in more than three decades as energy imports surged to cover for the loss of nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster, a major blow to an economy built on its exports prowess.

'Peak timber' concerns in tropics

Yet, they added: "For nearly a decade, the nation had been warned that the volume of timber annually harvested from native forests was too high and, if unchecked, that timber stocks would be seriously depleted by 2012...

The team - made up by Dr Phil Shearman and Jane Bryan from the Australian National University, and Prof William Laurance from James Cook University, Australia - said the trajectory of the country's timber production (a rapid increase in production, followed by a peak and then a decline) was akin to the 'Hubbert curve', which has been observed in the exploitation of non-renewable resources, such as oil.

Many nations depend on timber for a huge chunk of their national income, just as oil is for others. And when we reach peak timber, if we have not already, the harvesting, as a percentage of what is left, will increase and will increase dramatically as we slide down the backside of peak timber.

Just like peak oil, peak timber is an product of overshoot. We have peak oil, peak timber, peak water, peak topsoil, peak ocean fish and peak just about everything. But look on the dark side, we have not yet reached peak desertification.

Ron P.

On PBS Newshour last night :-

In Philippines, Some See Birth Control as Path to Food Security

"In the Philippines, a growing population of people has led to a sharp decline in fish, a vital part of the diet. To address the problem, one organization is making birth control more readily accessible to those wishing to keep their families small."

Needless to say, certain interests are against the idea of birth control, preferring that somehow the food supply should be increased.

You are too kind, s-t.

I think it needs to be said -- The Roman Catholic Church is refusing to stop telling those people, threatening them, that family planning will get them excommunicated and send them to HELL!

a growing population of people

Good they point it out. Someone might have believed it was a growing population of honey badgers. Now I don't need to wonder.

Needless to say, certain interests are against the idea of birth control, preferring that somehow the food supply should be increased.

Now why was my first thought Soylent Baby Greens.

My Partner sends a CARE package to a family in The Phillipines about three time a year, mostly clothes and education equipment for the kids (pads of paper, pencils etc). But you just try to send Birth Control. Even money sent in from overseas is strictly watched, and we have to do it through a third party.

But look on the dark side, we have not yet reached peak desertification.

Glad you brought that up, for a little perspective:

The Role of Wood in World History

How many people realize that centuries ago the Middle East was covered with vast cedar forests? Before, that is, they were cut down, never to come back. You would think that would serve as a warning, but apparently not.

Given what we know about complex systems and feedback delays, I think it is safe to say that long before our proverbial "last tree" is cut down an invisible threshold will have been crossed that will reduce the resilience of our forests beyond a critical level. Have we already crossed the point of no return?

Throw in the widespread threats of industrial pollution (such as the Mercury’s Harmful Reach link up top) and climate change and one wonders:

How many dead forests does it take before you end up with a dead planet?


Middle East was covered with vast cedar forests?

Who was that historical character who built his ships out of the Cedars of Lebanon? I remember seeing a photograph, some Lebanese monastery. On the inside of the fence trees, on the outside none. I suspect they'd grow back if we eliminated grazing pressure.

Actually, trees attract rainfall to some degree. No trees, no (less) rain. So, it's not just grazing.

I know in Israel they are desperately trying to reforest the area. Huge expanses of trees planted in perfect lines along the contour. One big problem is they have to water the seedlings for the first year or two, sometimes by hand. They seem pretty determined and I believe they are having some sucess.

You have to give this to the israelis; they do know land reconditioning.

The Bible is full of references to the Cedars of Libanon. The tree is on their flag for a reason. The temple of Salomon was built with those trees. Lots of temples were builtin the area at the time. Each king had one. Took a lot of trees down. Forests did't come back. Turned out they were selling off their inventory.

Prior to the industrial use of coal, running short of timber was an important cause of collapse.

Just so that you know where the Canadian government stands on oil sands issues, if you didn't already:

Ottawa must back oilsands: Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver

Canada's government has a responsibility to make sure people can take advantage of the economic benefits Alberta's massive oil deposits can generate, the country's energy minister said Monday as he once again decried "radicals" bent on stopping Enbridge Inc's Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

As about 50 protesters demonstrated noisily outside, Joe Oliver, minister of natural resources, said in Vancouver that "environmental and other radical groups" are indiscriminately opposing any and all large industrial projects and are using Canada's regulatory system as their main battleground.

"They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects," Oliver said. Such delays will send investment capital fleeing and sully Canada's reputation, he warned.

A major factor in their support is that the Canadian government stands to make billions of dollars in taxes on these projects. Follow the money if you want to understand who supports what.

I got this newsletter from American Energy Alliance, a thinktank/lobbying group.

Case in point: Offshore lease sales have plummeted more than $9.4 billion since the Obama administration took over. This means that Americans collected 258 times less revenue from offshore lease sales than they did during the last year of the Bush administration.

2008: $9,480,806,620
2009: $1,181,075,491
2010: $979,569,294
2011: $36,751,111

Does anyone know why lease sale revenue has plummeted in the last three years.

The link to the full text.


Can't help because I know very little about offshore leases.

However - I would take everything published by The American Energy Alliance with a large dose of salt. They tend to select their data very carefully to meet their agenda - they are a libertarian think tank with a mission to attack as many government regulations as possible. They are the public side of the Energy Research Institute. They have stated that they want to "empower citizens with facts so that people who believe in freedom can reclaim the moral high ground in the national public policy debates in the energy and environmental arena." Some of their major funding is from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation,which is mainly made up of Koch Industry executives.

They claim that they do energy research with a team of scholars. Sounds good but none of their scholars are energy people - they are all political science and economics majors associated with lobbying. Their founder (Thomas Pyle) was a former lobbyist for Koch Industries.

Nothing wrong about any of this of course - lobbying is legal. But I read one of their presentations a year or so ago which claimed that all (not some) of the hydrocarbons (actually kerogen) in the Green River formation is economically recoverable oil being denied us by the Federal Government. That is so preposterous on so many levels that I spent a little time reading up on them and learned some of this.

For what it is worth..........

Look at the amount of money spent on leases in the Haynesville Shale area and you'll probably see a similar downturn not for all the same reasons. The "incident" in the GOM, Global banking problems and the Obama administration didn't help.

My instinct tells me that a bunch of geologists came to a realization that there aren't many profitable prospects left.

Not my cup of tea, but great that it has worked out well for them.

Canada series – Survivalist refugees from the city

Paul and Anne Cobham are the second in our series about Canadians living off the grid. They run Willow Retreat and Survival School from a secluded off-grid property in Cape Breton. They moved there in order to escape from the suburban grind and live a simpler, less stressful life. This is not quite what they ended up with!

“But that’s part of the journey,” said Paul, a survival instructor. Anne is a Reiki Master - a teacher and meditation instructor. They are on the Cabot Trail in the small village of Middle River, Nova Scotia, nestled against a wooded hillside in the Cape Breton Highlands.

The money quote:

“Of course it is not all perfect: we’ve had to make major upgrades to the systems since we bought the place, and it’s been a steep learning curve and at times incredibly frustrating. One of the things we’ve learned is that it’s essential to have back-up systems, and preferably not just one, but two back-ups. There is no utility company to call when things go wrong (which they inevitably do), and no repairman is going to call. When you’re off-grid, it’s down to you, and you’d better have a plan for when things go pear-shaped, especially in the winter!

“Being able to do plumbing, electrical wiring, welding, carpentry, mechanics, to name but a few skills are essential, anyone who has no practical skills should take some night classes before they even consider going off-grid, unless of course you have a huge bank account.

See: http://www.off-grid.net/2012/01/24/canada-series-survivalist-refugees-fr...

To learn more about this couple and their experiences living off-grid, see: http://willowretreat.livejournal.com/


It's interesting to think about all the 'failed' attempts of the 70's. My parents moved out of the Boston area up to Maine, along with a couple other families. (All Teaching families, Step Back, to answer an earlier question) There was talk about doing the collective farm, but plans changed and that part didn't happen.

Still all the families did different parts of it, farms, homesteading, skills learning, reconnecting with the natural world, etc.. Most kept teaching as well. And here we are, the next generation, having built houses, various skills and perspectives. I'm not the same as the 'farm-raised' guys who post here. I'm part city, part country now.. don't have a strong reason to despise either one, and I'm comfortable in both.

But these back to the landers, who sort of soaked into the new towns and faded away, the communes that went bust, the survivalists and their kids, and now their grandkids.. the things they tried and started to learn didn't just disappear.. they were part of a process, and one which feeds me and many others with possibilites and with practical skills every day.


( http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1346&dat=19740210&id=Ou8vAAAAIBAJ&... This guy published a very popular little booklet on Home Windpwer back in the day, and now his son lives in my neighborhood, a green builder.. and the grandkids go to school with my kids.. and all of them will be affected by what Henry Senior did up in Holden, and what Frank and Carol Fiske did in Stoneham, back in the 'failed' seventies..)

You really have to admire those that went off grid in the 70's - a big rejection of what had been good progress for a few decades. And going off grid was harder then than now - solar panels were expensive, inverters almost non existent, equipment/appliances were not nearly as energy efficient etc.

I have one of my fathers books on small scale wind power form the '70s - makes for great reading, and the principles remain the same, but many things are much easier and cheaper now.

Best hopes for those that go independent.

Thanks for the link to this article, Bob; a great read. My two brothers and I jointly own 500 hectares of land in St. Ann's, Cape Breton and I spent all of my summers there as a kid. There were a dozen or so draft dodgers who bought a property not far up the road from us. A few eventually returned to the States but the rest stayed, worked the land and raised their kids. What I find interesting and particularly telling is that some forty years later the locals still refer to them as "the Hippies". Even though these folks have lived in the community for four decades, they're still considered outsiders, or as we like to say, "from afar".


One of the things we’ve learned is that it’s essential to have back-up systems, and preferably not just one, but two back-ups.

I'll second that. Overlapping backup systems, and redundant systems sounds like overkill until things go wrong, something many of our hyper-complex modern systems often lack. Our backups have backups, and I keep parts for stuff. Most of our systems are so simple there's not much that can go wrong. Others are modular/redundant like solar. We even have extra dogs ;-)

Several years ago when a snow and ice storm wrecked the grid and closed the roads for days, weeks for some, I was astounded by the number of folks who had no plan B, even after being warned. No backup power, heat, food or any way to prepare it. Most are on wells and couldn't even flush toilets. I took the couple down the road some stuff; water, a little food, some booze, and they said the food in the fridge was spoiling. It didn't occur to them to put the food out on the porch in the snow. I helped them push their fridge outside on the deck. They had a gas (propane) stove and didn't know they could light it with a match. Their gas logs required AC power for the thermostat (?!) so I loaned them a small inverter and ran a wire from their car.

Most of the local oldtimers barely batted an eye; wood heat and kerosene lanterns.

BTW: I prefer "Independents" to "Survivalists".

It didn't occur to them to put the food out on the porch in the snow. I helped them push their fridge outside on the deck. They had a gas (propane) stove and didn't know they could light it with a match.


SOP for my father was to annually defrost the freezer about this time of year. He piled the stuff up in the porch while he thoroughly defrosted and cleaned the freezer. The porch was sometimes used for extras but the UK winters were not predictable enough for use as a rplacement freezer for any time.


I prefer "Independents" as well; "Survivalists" steers us in another direction where we best not go.

I'm extremely paranoid about losing heat during the winter months, but for various reasons I didn't want to go with wood or wood pellet. Consequently, our home has four independently operated heating systems, i.e., two ductless heat pumps, in-floor electric radiant heat, an oil-fired boiler and four propane fireplaces. If we have grid power, we use the heat pumps and, if need be, electric resistance. In the event of an extended power cut, we'll run the boiler off the back-up generator (actually, we have two generators -- a Yamaha EF2400is and an older 2,700-watt Honda). If the boiler or generators fail (or, more likely, we run out of fuel), we revert to propane.

I make a point of keeping a minimum of 600 litres of fuel oil on hand at all times, we never let our propane tank drop below 50 per cent and I keep two 20-litre containers of stabilized petrol in the garage which we rotate out about every six months. With that, and whatever else we can syphon from our two vehicles, I figure we have enough fuel to run the generator two or three hours per day for several weeks at a time.

Of course, our first line of defence is a well-insulated and air sealed home that requires relatively little heat, and so this is where we concentrated our efforts initially.


The man tells it like it is....

Environment in microcosm and macrocosm

We can worry about the shape the planet is in or do something. Silver Donald Cameron preached the latter last week while in town as part of Efficiency Nova Scotia speaking tour.

Cameron and program manager Donald Dodge took a microscopic look at saving energy, just as Richard Zurawski and Leo Elshof reviewed the macroscopic climate the week before.

The well-known author and broadcaster began by saying Nova Scotians were successful at diverting 50 per cent of their waste from landfills, so surely we can achieve better energy savings.


Silver Donald Cameron isn't afraid to talk about our dirty ecological footprint or mention the word catastrophic. The Tantramar marshes, he speculated, might disappear some day making Nova Scotia an island.

He referred to Ottawa being governed by a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil industry.

See: http://www.novanewsnow.com/Opinion/Columns/2012-01-23/article-2871968/WE...


Can Solar Power Help Shipping go Green?

... He likens the sail to a "giant windmill blade" that would be covered in solar panels and fold down into the vessel when it is docking and transferring cargo.

By harnessing the wind, the company estimates that the giant sail could shave 20% to 40%, or around A$3m (£2m; $3.1m), off a ship's annual fuel bill when travelling at 16 knots (18mph), with the solar panels contributing an extra 3% to 6% saving.

Wasn't windsails supposed to achieve the same (or better) savings with kites? I bet the capital cost is much much lower. I doubt PV as sails are very cost effective. More conventionally mounted PV would do better. If the sails were transparent, they wouldn't shade deck mounted PV.

Ironic that they're being used on a tanker. :)

If it was containerized freight the sails would get in the way of the cranes. Liquid cargo doesn't need cranes (except for connecting hoses).

Chemical exposure may compromise vaccine response

Children exposed to chemicals called PFCs — used in some non-stick cookware, stain-resistant coatings, fast-food packaging and microwave popcorn bags — have a reduced response to vaccines, raising the possibility that the compounds could prevent children from being adequately protected against disease, a new study shows.

Children with the highest prenatal PFC exposure had the lowest response to vaccinations, as measured by the antibodies their bodies produced after receiving their shots, the study says. Doubling a child's PFC exposure cut his or her immune response in half.

also http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-pfcs-chemicals-environment-linked-...

Philips develops efficient solar powered LED street lighting

Solar Gen2 offers a highly energy-efficient LED solution which is superior to any conventional lighting and allows for a lamp post spacing of up to 50 meters, much wider than with other solutions, while at the same time complying with stringent EU road lighting standards (ME3). By charging street lighting during the day, Solar Gen2 can supplement the capacity of the conventional electricity grid.

From Marine Corps Intelligence Activity Joint Operational Environment Briefing

- Worst violators of freedom of expression on the Internet [our friend] Saudi Arabia

Watch out,

Big Brother can see through your clothes on the street and detect where you are inside your house...






All this kit will be used against foreign combatants in foreign lands, never against U.S. Americans in the U.S. without a warrant or in some cases without probable cause.

All this kit will be used ..

You forgot the /snark tag on that last senetence.

Want to understand the economy? Don't read the press

Financial crimes and woes are severely underreported in the media, and in many cases, completely overlooked. ... is the reporting we are getting on financial issues better than ever? Is it more trustworthy, and better informed? Unfortunately ... No

Here are three reasons:

1. An over-reliance on official sources skilled at spinning data to bolster politically motivated "consumer confidence", and create impressions, not backed by fact.

2. A tendency to quote and rely on experts and luminaries with questionable track records and personal or ideological agendas.

3. A tendency to look at "progress" through the eyes of people in power or in powerful economic institutions with the assumption that if they do well, wealth/prosperity will trickle down into the lives of ordinary people.

Imperial Oil's role in museum's energy exhibit questioned

"We're concerned that a public museum, a federal government museum, is actually taking funds from the oil industry to repeat what the oil industry wants repeated about the oil industry. And we thought that was inappropriate," he said.

After seeing Swan's letters, he said what was most worrisome was the tone of a letter, in which Swan makes what he says is a subtle but clear threat to withhold funding.

In a letter dated May 20, 2011, Swan wrote: "I find the language not balanced overall. I have tried to point out the most significant issues I have seen, but the overall tone is of concern to me.

"As you know the funding of this project is not where we want it to be, so focusing on the quality and tone of this exhibit is key to ensuring others sponsors are found."

General FYI....

Google user data to be merged across all sites under contentious plan
New privacy policy means Google could log browsing habits on YouTube or Google+ to sell targeted ads in Gmail or search


And I just had the strange experience of Google forcing me to login to my Gmail account just to read a Google hosted news item on Monday. I can now read the same news item without being signed in but yesterday I couldn't. Gmail isn't my primary email but I do have an account.

Google is getting rather Borg-like these days. It's getting kinda creepy.

People still see ads on the internet?

I have to say this was one of the more weird, left-field, irreverent (and entertaining) Drumbeats for some time. What can we put it down to? Full Moon, major solar flares, irrational exuberance, or maybe the excitement over the State of the Union address?

Or perhaps we could shut down TOD altogether (or at least morph it to something else) - the POTUS said today that there's enough natural gas for 100 years. Well done!

Oh, there is certainly plenty of natural gas for 100 years but did he say anything about how much would be available at any time over that 100 years?


Oh, plenty of natural gas enamating from politicians, that would be......

.....sour gas.


Whatever the reason I'm completely confused :-)

NOAA spaceweather real-time 1-4 hour ahead is still down even though ACE appears to be returning believable data again. Boulder Colorado says planetary K-index is currently 2.9 but USAF says it is currently 5.3. Warnings for both 4 and 5 remain in effect at the same time. The CME has "passed" yet we still have an S2 solar storm and over 600km/sec solar wind. Would be really nice to see 4 hour ahead just to make sure the model isn't predicting some massive disturbance when the wind finally drops back down.

At least the Japanese real-time simulation is back up and showing continued impact.


Even though an S2 level storm is still being recorded there is no active warning for any radiation storm level as it expired at 01:00 UTC today and wasn't renewed despite the event continuing. It is all a bit of a mess.

Edit: Some discussion of ACE problems at http://mysolaralerts.blogspot.com/

Seems some instruments automatically went into safe mode and closed shutters as storm levels would have destroyed the sensors. If that is the case though why was actual data returned that wasn't even marked as "suspect" for almost a day afterwards? One iris apparently closed to 25% a whole day before the CME arrived.

Advanced Composition Explorer ( ACE ) was only built to withstand the effects from ‘average solar flare’, not a ‘significant solar flare’. NASA knows ACE 13-year old sensors will ‘cease to function before a significant solar flare even passes ACE in space’. NASA Advanced Composition Explorer ( ACE ) sensing detectors are now 13-years old, not as sensitive as newer technology detectors today, plus ACE has exceeded its NASA calculated life expectance.

Oh dear.