Drumbeat: February 4, 2012

Gazprom 'unable to pump extra gas to Europe'

Gazprom said on Saturday it could not pump additional gas to Western Europe amid a cold snap, after EU officials said the Russian giant's deliveries had dropped in several countries.

"Gazprom at the moment cannot satisfy the additional volumes that our Western European partners are requesting," the company's deputy chairman Alexander Kruglov said at a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, according to Russian news agencies.

Putin told Gazprom at the meeting that the demands of Europe had to be respected but the firm's priority was to supply consumers in Russia, which is also enduring a spell of very cold weather.

Gazprom says unable to meet greater Europe gas demand

MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - Russian gas exporter Gazprom has brought supplies to Europe back up to normal after reducing them "for a few days," but it is unable to meet increased demand amid freezing weather, a company official told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

European countries had reported that Gazprom, which responsible for around a quarter of European Union's natural gas imports, reduced supplies to them due to a biting cold front, while they also requested more fuel for heating.

T. Boone Pickens: Rev up the tapping of our own natural gas

If you are going to transform American energy to address the national security and economic risks associated with our OPEC oil dependence, there is only one solution: move our natural gas reserves into transportation, with an emphasis on the heavy-duty truck and fleet-vehicle markets.

Oil Rises for First Time in Six Days on Decline in U.S. Unemployment Rate

Oil gained for the first time in six days, paring a weekly decline, after the U.S. jobless rate fell to the lowest level in three years.

Futures climbed 1.5 percent after the Labor Department said the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent in January, the least since February 2009. Nonfarm payrolls increased 243,000, the most since April. Oil dropped this week as inventories rose and demand weakened.

China's electricity supplies to remain tight this year

BEIJING - The China Electricity Council (CEC) said Friday that China will face tightened supplies of electric power this year, with a shortage estimated to reach up to 40 million kilowatts.

Both regional and seasonal power shortages will occur in 2012, the council warned.

Should gasoline cost $10 per gallon or more?

What should the price for gasoline be? That's a huge question with major political, economic and environmental consequences. Some complain about the high price of gasoline and look to expanding oil drilling to bring the price down. Some see the subsidies given to oil companies, and wonder why this happens when the oil companies are immensely profitable. Some see the environmental cost for refining and burning oil, and to incentivize alternatives call for even higher gasoline prices. Some see the immense oil imports and the economic cost of selling dollars to buy oil, and also call for alternatives to oil. Some see the Middle East wars as being an externalized cost to the price of gasoline, see it as about gaining control over oil supplies, and also call for alternatives to oil.

Will Peak Oil Spell the End of Capitalism?

Capitalism will end when oil runs out, according to Fleeing Vesuvius, a collection of essays first published in Ireland in 2010. The US and New Zealand editions came out in mid-2011. The basic theme of Fleeing Vesuvius, which is aimed at the growing sustainability movement, is TEOTWAWI (The End of the World as We Know It). The title refers to the volcano that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD, specifically the large number of residents who failed to save themselves, despite weeks of earthquakes, gaseous clouds and other obvious signs that an eruption was imminent. For more than a decade, a growing body of evidence suggests that the planet is on the verge of economic and ecological collapse. Yet the vast majority of us do absolutely nothing to prepare for the stark conditions ahead.

Iran will cut oil exports to some European countries: report

(Reuters) - Iran's oil minister said that the Islamic state would certainly cut its oil exports to "some" European countries, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

"Our oil exports will certainly be cut to some European countries ... We will decide about other European countries later," Fars quoted Rostam Qasemi as telling a news conference.

Iran begins naval exercises near Gulf strait

TEHRAN — Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard began naval maneuvers Saturday in the latest show of force near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the critical Gulf oil tanker route that Tehran has threatened to close in retaliation for tougher Western sanctions.

Plans for new Iranian war games in the Gulf have been in the works for weeks. But they got under way following stern warnings by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about any possible US or Israeli attacks against Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran asks OPEC states not to raise oil output

(TEHRAN) - Iran has asked OPEC members not to raise oil production to compensate for a European Union embargo against the Islamic republic, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said on Saturday.

Qasemi said the request was forwarded in a letter to Iraq, the current head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

$200 a barrel of oil – what would it mean?

If these new warnings were to become reality, oil prices could reach highs never witnessed before, with current records standing at $150 a barrel in 2008.

But what would such a price rise mean?

Sinopec, Cnooc Parent Rise in Energy Intelligence Group’s Top 100 List

China Petroleum & Petrochemical Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp. each advanced four places in the 2012 Energy Intelligence Group ranking of the top 100 oil companies as acquisitions added to production and reserves.

Rosneft Fourth-Quarter Profit Climbs to $2.99 Billion, Beating Estimates

OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, increased net income 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, beating expectations.

Brad Pitt & Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Rockin’ It! (Videos)

Brad Pitt went out of his way in a Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart this week to comment on the insanity of burning fossil fuels to power our cars.

German Ministers Discuss Solar Subsidies as April Cut Reported

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, who disagreed on solar-power subsidies, are in talks to draw up a joint policy as a local newspaper said payments may be cut as early as April.

Critics concerned about safety of 'fracking,' shipping of LNG

Liquefied natural gas may not pose the same risk as an oil spill, but it does threaten human safety and the environment - to the point the Canadian government has opposed a U.S. proposal to ship LNG on the east coast.

Latest Effect of Gulf Spill: Waves of Cash to Aid Coast

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Gulf Coast now stands to benefit as money pours in for restoration.

Artist/scientist/diplomat wanted

The world is changing quickly and there's no longer denying that big forces like global warming-induced climate change, peak oil and massive population shifts to urban environments are global considerations we can't ignore locally. Vancouver's head planner needs to be a visionary who understands these inevitable considerations and is passionate about adapting past practices to meet future realities.

Panasonic Targets Clean Power for Homes After Fukushima Disaster

Panasonic Corp. (6752) is focusing on making products to manage renewable power in the home as the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year spurs generation from wind and solar.

Trash-to-Ethanol Producer Backed by Valero Sets $125 Million IPO

Enerkem develops refineries that convert trash into gases, which are processed into ethanol. The fuel will help oil companies meet a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation to blend into their gasoline products 16 billion gallons (61 billion liters) annually of so-called cellulosic biofuel by 2022.

China alters controversial Poyang dam plan

NANCHANG - China has altered a plan to build a hydropower dam on the Poyang Lake after the plan was criticized by academicians for its potential damage to the already fragile ecology.

Donations to Sierra Club Raise Ire

The Sierra Club’s president, Michael Brune, has acknowledged in a blog post that beginning five years ago, the club accepted $26 million from people connected with Chesapeake Energy, the country’s second-largest natural gas producer. He added that the club had turned down $30 million pledged by those donors since August 2010.

Texas Drought Forces a Town to Sip From a Truck

Officials with the Texas Water Development Board and members of the state’s Drought Preparedness Council said they were concerned that what had happened in Spicewood Beach could occur elsewhere. Some wells that supply water to small communities like Spicewood Beach are linked to the state’s lakes and reservoirs, where water levels have dropped significantly in the drought. The wells extract water from the underground layers of rock, sand or gravel that are known as aquifers, which are recharged by lakes. As the lakes dry up, the aquifers are affected, some worse than others.

“If the drought continues as it is, we’re going to continue to see small communities struggle with their water supplies,” said Robert E. Mace, a deputy executive administrator for the water board.

U.K.’s Climate Plan May Risk Heating-Cost Surge in Cold Snaps

The U.K. faces an additional burden in energy costs from plans to switch to electricity in home heating from natural gas, according to National Grid Plc.

The government, chasing a target to cut carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, may push to heat almost all U.K. homes using electricity by that date, Marcus Stewart, future distribution networks manager at National Grid in Warwick, England, said in an e-mail yesterday. Currently, about 80 percent of the country’s homes are heated by gas.

Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling: America’s Inability to Respond to an Oil Spill in the Arctic

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in the early morning hours of April 20, 2010 it spawned one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. BP Plc’s Macondo well blowout lasted 89 days, spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and taking the lives of 11 men. The catastrophe showed the clear need for a massive, well-coordinated response when disaster strikes.

Al Gore: Antarctic Glaciers and the Global Water Crisis

Nearly 635 million people - one out of every 10 people in the world today - live in low-lying coastal areas that are susceptible to inundation and disruption of the water supply.

Saltwater intrusion has already affected the Shandong Province in China, and water resources on the Caribbean Islands. In the United States, the water supplies of both San Francisco and New York City could be compromised as sea levels rise and the salty oceans intrude on the drinking water.

So What’s A Teacher to Do?

Imagine you’re a middle-school science teacher, and you get to the section of the course where you’re to talk about climate change. You mention the “C” words, and two students walk out of the class.

Or you mention global warming and a hand shoots up.

“Mrs. Brown! My dad says global warming is a hoax!”

Or you come to school one morning and the principal wants to see you because a parent of one of your students has accused you of political bias because you taught what scientists agree about: that the Earth is getting warmer, and human actions have had an important role in this warming.

Science behind the big freeze: is climate change bringing the Arctic to Europe?

The bitterly cold weather sweeping Britain and the rest of Europe has been linked by scientists with the ice-free seas of the Arctic, where global warming is exerting its greatest influence.

A dramatic loss of sea ice covering the Barents and Kara Seas above northern Russia could explain why a chill Arctic wind has engulfed much of Europe and killed 221 people over the past week.

Re: Science behind the big freeze: is climate change bringing the Arctic to Europe?

This article points up a basic problem for those of us concerned with Global Warming and the resulting Climate Change. That is, the warming is seen in the global average, but the climate changes can be much different in any one location. Dht last 2 winter, the weather in the Eastern US was rather cold and snowy, but this winter, we are experiencing the opposite conditions. The prime cause of these swings in weather are likely to be found in the tropical Pacific Ocean ENSO cycle, but changes in the sea-ice cover may result in other swings. Then too, the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) has been shown to exhibit year-to-year variation, which adds to the difficulty of pinpointing an exact cause for any one year's weather variations...

E. Swanson

In Canada the Jet Stream has been far to the North this winter, in the Northwest Territories rather than in the Northern US states where it usually is this time of year. This is stopping the Arctic weather systems from getting to Southern Canada, and as a result the weather has been unusually mild this winter. The meteorologists expect this situation to continue for the rest of the winter.

Jeff Masters' blog talks about how most of the cold blasts have stayed in Alaska this year, resulting in abnormally low temperatures there, as well as unusually high snowfall.


At this link, he also talks about how to correct for natural changes in the cycle due to El Nino or La Nina, and uncover the contribution of human activity.

2011 has been established as tied for 11th warmest, on average, with 1997.

Jeff Masters' blog talks about how most of the cold blasts have stayed in Alaska this year, resulting in abnormally low temperatures there, as well as unusually high snowfall.

Yes, we have definately had a colder and snowier than usual winter in Alaska. Here in Anchorage we always get a fair bit of snow in winter, but this year has been exceptional. Likewise, we generally get a few spells of 0 to -10 F (-18 to -23 C) temperatures (and a lot colder in some low lying areas near the Chugach foothills), this winter has been a lot colder. And stayed cold for much longer. In the interior, away from the marine influence, they have had some truely serious cold.

The snow banks beside my driveway are getting almost as tall as I am. Last night in town we had an additional 6 inches (15 cm) of snow at my house, and twice that in some parts of town. Needless to say, up in the mountains they had a lot more than that.

I am about to head out the door. I'm going to indulge in some BAU, and burn a bit of gas to head to the mountains and enjoy some fresh powder.


Just have a look at the comments section in that article. People don't bother to read the global temp anomalies data for past 100 years, for them global warming means a sauna in the backyard. Anything less and they will not be convinced.

I think John Michael Greer was right in his summation of the anthropogenic climate change debate. He contends that calling the whole thing global warming was just 'dumbing it down' too much.

Carbon dioxide reflects heat back to earth and in the process leads to an increase in the amount of energy in the atmosphere. With more energy the atmosphere can do more work, when the atmosphere does work it is called weather. So we can expect things to be hotter, colder, wetter, drier, windier etc as the levels of carbon dioxide rise in the future.

Instead of Global Warming he suggested the term Global Weirding.

When someone says to me that there is a record of natural carbon dioxide levels being higher and fluctuating prior to our arrival on the planet I don't disagree that levels might rise naturally, but put this question to them.

'So just because the forest fire was started naturally by lightning, does it then make sense that we should send tanker planes up to bomb it with loads of accelerant?'

And then I stare them down.

I just use the term Climate Change.

It's tale telling that a bit of cold, which 20-30 years ago would be called 'nothing out of the ordinary'- is nowadays called extraordinary.

We quickly forget:
- Until two weeks ago, winter was abnormally warm in Western-Europe.
- Last two winters were normally cold in Western-Europe too, despite the cold spell (which didn't break any records) they featured.

I'm guessing that we've had so few real winters during the last two decades that we forgot how our winters used to be and so -5 during the day and -15 during the night is considered extraordinary.

Also, not all is cold in the Northern Hemisphere. Temperature warm records are being broken in Svalbard Spitsbergen these days, +3 degreesC in the first week of February within the pole circle... Sea ice is also anomalously low in the Barentz and Kara seas.

Regarding: Will Peak Oil Spell the End of Capitalism?, above, the article cites "Fleeing Vesuvius":

In his Introduction, “Where We Went Wrong,” the late Irish economist Richard Douthwaite points out that one barrel of oil provides the equivalent labor of a man working forty hours a week for twelve years. He goes on to stress that before the advent of cheap fossil fuels, capitalism was impossible – an economy relying on human labor and animal power is too inefficient to support it.

Again: "...one barrel of oil provides the equivalent labor of a man working forty hours a week for twelve years..., just to let it sink in. Someone posted the math here a while back, and I would love to see it again, because I think most folks these days have no concept of the utility of this finite, temporary energy endowment, no concept of how difficult it will be to compensate for its declining availability, and discount the implications of its gradual exit from their economies. This seems fundamental, IMO, and yes, capitalism in any form that we know it today, is as temporary as the resource. Peak oil means peak everything. We are way past due for a new paradigm.

The issue I have with a lot of the so called replacements for oil or equivalent applications using say batteries as storage is that much of it is simply substituting oil for some other form of fossil energy such as gas/coal. It may help to alleviate any oil shortages but it certainly isn't a path to replace fossil fuels. All it seems to be doing is moving the energy consumption from the user side to the production side when someone buys an electric car over an ICE car. It all seems to be about using less or making more oil equivalent rather than actually even making an honest attempt to reduce consumption.

That's why I highlighted the quote; we need to frame this in ways that people can relate to. Replacing the energy and utility of a barrel of oil with most anything else is like trying to substitute a slice of bread for a five course balanced meal. The results will be the same for our current global/capitalist economies: Malnourishment leading to eventual death. Reducing consumption (eliminating the fat from the capitalist diet) can only go so far. Calories translate to capacity to do work. The energy slaves must be fed or they pass out in the fields.

Slave owners may have punished their slaves in many ways, but I doubt cutting their food ration was one of them.

I guess the question will be asked, how much do people need to live with or can live without? Once the appropriate expectations are set I doubt that anyone would be significantly unhappier with a two course meal than a five course meal for instance. The only problem would be if you expected five but only got two. I spent the week last week living in a tent, with two channels on the small 20 inch CRT TV and one radio station and I didn't seem any worse for wear. I was actually better off in many ways because I spent the time actually doing something rather than laying on my butt watching the big TV with satellite at home.

I guess we could divide a lot of the energy use in our lives into two camps. The first is the stuff we actually want/need and the second is stuff we do to make up for the problems we've caused ourselves. The instant you move into an area with good climate, abundant natural beauty and food and completely not overpopulated you suddenly don't need to compensate for problems inherent in society and therefore don't miss the stuff that went along with it. I saw a guy about 60ish wheel himself around on a wheelchair, hobble across the road with a cane and get into a canoe and carry two crayfish pots out to sea one at a time. In the city you'd have called him an invalid, but different places mean different expectations and he was still productive like the rest of us.

I guess it really depends on the expectations you have and what kind of base you're working with originally as to how you'd cope with say peak oil. If you already live in a hellhole it'll probably get worse. If you live in a country or place with natural abundance on a per capita basis (important), the opposite. I don't really see the technology of EV's and microprocessors to be as significant as the level of expectations of people and the natural ability of where they live to support them leading fulfilling lives. We didn't have to invent a $10,000,000,000 to develop battery design, we already had the perfect battery in petrol. We just had the wrong expectations, like the dog barking up the tree hoping that the squirrel will come down to get eaten.

"I guess the question will be asked, how much do people need to live with or can live without? Once the appropriate expectations are set I doubt that anyone would be significantly unhappier with a two course meal than a five course meal for instance."

The folks who make their living providing that five course meal will likely be unhappier. My family has reduced its consumption dramatically, and substituted renewables for most of our energy needs, which means that the electric utility lost a customer, and the propane company is selling me much less propane. We also eat out far less than we used to, and consume less stuff, so we return much less financial energy to the system at large; good for us, good for the planet, not so good for the system and people we were helping to support through our previous levels of consumption.

I simply can't see how removing vast amounts of energy and resource inputs from a system doesn't result in lower levels of everything, including living standards, and especially populations. Hopefully we'll re-balance at a lower level rather than imploding like a star that has run out of fuel :-0

All true, Ghung

Our family has also reduced..re-balanced ?...not just because of the consumption/energy issues, but rather as our consciousness changed a few years ago due to understanding constraint issues we have deliberately tried to slow down and savour what is around us. It might also be a function of age as well. Yesterday, my wife spent the afternoon painting with acrylics, I poked at changing some fencing with a time limit of quitting at lunch, then puttering in the afternoon. I made a new welding area and planned out some blacksmithing set ups. Sounds like work, but when we see an interesting bird or hear a splash in the river we stop what we are doing and investigate. we have stopped the rush and are happier for it. I don't have a clue why we were working so hard or focused, before.

The welder wasn't new....but a 30/40 year old Miller I bought cheap from a friend who simply didn't use it anymore. The anvil was going to be hauled away for scrap and my forge set up was an old casting furnace with the just the firebricks and metal case....no guts/plumbing. I will see what I can do with a tiger torch and later....bellows and coal....bellows and wood....just because.

Last weekend I wandered some railway tracks while visiting relatives and picked up old discarded spikes. Eventual plans are to forge and weld up some art work with them, and small bridge trestles for a model railway. A year ago I would have kicked at them.

There will be some very unhappy folks with a reality of less and more time for contemplation. For us, we have welcomed it with open arms and it has given much of our time great meaning and enjoyment. The alternative...I guess would be golf and cycling trips, travelling more....but when I read on this forum about 3-5,000 dollar bicycles (mine cost less than 100 dollars, used of course...great machine) I believe such things to be more of the same old consumption patterns. I know kids with $6,000.00 bicycles and I feel like slapping their faces. It's still nuts out there.


The issue I have with a lot of the so called replacements for oil or equivalent applications using say batteries as storage is that much of it is simply substituting oil for some other form of fossil energy such as gas/coal.

But it makes perfect sense:
1) Oil is the immediate problem. We currently have plenty of natural gas, coal, we can build more nukes, etc.
2) Once you switch to EVs, you are then free to select among power generation systems based on price/popularity/politics/climate/etc. PV prices plummet . . . go solar to power your EV. Natural gas prices down? Build NG power plants. Lots of wind in your area, build wind turbines.

And the EVs being created natural will be much energy efficient no matter the energy source. Batteries are very expensive so EVs tend to be designed as light and aerodynamic as possible in order to eke out the longest range from the expensive battery. So they do reduce energy consumption.

"And the EVs being created natural will be much energy efficient no matter the energy source. Batteries are very expensive so EVs tend to be designed as light and aerodynamic as possible in order to eke out the longest range from the expensive battery. So they do reduce energy consumption."

Not to mention that the combined efficiency of an electric motor and its controller is about 80% compared to about 20% efficiency of an internal combustion engine, and when I stop at a light (using mostly regenerative braking), the motor stops, unlike the ice-powered vehicles around me. The car had a rating of 32 mpg, but probably was closer to 38 mpg in actual use. After I converted it to electric it now uses 0.215 kWh/mile from the wall socket, including all losses. DOE says 33.7 kWh/gal of gas, so 38 mpg is 1.127 kWh/mile, or 5 times the energy per mile it uses as an ev.

Thank you for contributing this important distinction. EV's just use less, a lot less. And way to go on your EV conversion!

This (and I truly believe) huge reduction in total energy means to me that it is well within our grasp use transport power that is;

slower, more appropriate, greener, cheaper, and much much closer to the source. Around here ,northwestern US, I see enormous cultural barriers.

Where sunk costs are high and cheaper solutions to ,abandon and contract exist ,IMHO
more sensible EV's ,and other ideas, like yours will be done.

(my current humble EV ride is my home made 48v Li-ion bike with a solid 50 mile range) We bike, but have a hybrid because of our own sunk costs.

E-bikes are such a win for the long run.

A production EV-car has a range of about 160 km (if you drive economy) for which it needs a 34 kWh battery.

A production EV-bike has a range of about 90 km (if you drive economy) for which it needs a 20 Wh battery.

An E-bike uses 950 times less energy to reach a destination compared to an EV!

Average triplength in Belgium is about 12 km (which takes half an hour at 25 km/h on an E-bike).

There's no need for a costly gym subscription to compensate the exersise missed while driving a car when using an E-bike.

My e-bike has a 15 mile range from a 500 Wh battery. Can we check those numbers again?

Don't know which batt you have. This LiFePO4 is rated 15Ah at 48 volts, so watt hours 720 but..

I ran Glass Mat Lead for awhile and my bikes ususally ran about 15 miles with some hill at about 15mph avg. and then the batts would die quickly.

This has a lot better stamina. The high rate (hill, standing start) discharges that would have killed the AGM do not kill the LiPo. I run a smaller controller and hub motor than I could get away with and the voltage is 58 on a full charge. That is not the surface charge but the operating range down to about 46. So the real Wh is probably well over 800. At 25 miles I'm still on half a tank.

Ok so I can't not pedal, I'm a biker :) but this guy will get me a ticket if I'm not careful.

>I ran Glass Mat Lead for awhile and my bikes ususally ran about 15 miles with some hill at about 15mph avg. and then the batts would die quickly.

That's what my battery will do and it is lithium ion. I have a 400 watt motor and a 400 watt hour battery so it will run for an hour. Supposedly the bike will do 20mph (the limit is set by state law) but in actuality it does 15mph so a range of 15 miles. I think the difference is due to rough roads.

Lead acid is actually great at high current load i. e. it has extremely low internal resistance. Your car will pull 200 amps when it starts. It's heavy as f- err anything but it can source current.

My bike is like five years old so I don't have the latest battery technology.

Anyways, I was responding to 90 km range on a 20 Wh battery. Say what?

You bet Robert,
was pretty sure they meant 20Ah, was responding more on the range.

And admittedly my LiPo is pretty fresh. We'll see how many cycles I get at this level..
Sure you are right about LA and internal resistance, just the ability to repeat cycle like a 2C (i.e. 30A) burst and then retain charge I've seen argued that lithium was surperior.

Had to agree with them on the main points ,though, relating e-bikes being a win.

After giving the matter a little thought, I think maybe your motor wasn't geared to give a lot of torque for fast hill climbing. Not that the battery poops out. If your hub motor has one fixed gear like mine and that gear is designed to go fast on the straightaways, well that's the tradeoff.

I'll add a shaggy dog story people can skip. I have a 400 watt motor and can pedal for another 100 watts. Lance Armstrong can put out 400 watts but I'm not a professional athlete. So on the straightaways I can add an additional 2mph. Resistance is mostly air resistance which is proportional to the square of my velocity. I 'm adding 1/4th as much power so 1/8th as much velocity so 18mph instead of 16mph.

But going up a hill in low gear, I can double the torque output even tho I'm putting out 1/4th the power. So I can climb hills at 8mph by pedalling instead of 4mph with the motor alone.

So have you run the same Lithium pack for 5 years? Have you seen any degradation yet? I've been curious how the LIPO ebikes are doing 'after the honeymoon'..

Love to hear that from Tom and Xburb as well.. and maybe the specific Li type and brands you are using.


"Lead acid is actually great at high current load i. e. it has extremely low internal resistance." Actually lead acid typically has a higher internal resistance than LiFePO4 cells, and much larger voltage sag and Peukert Effect as a result. The typical large format or prismatic cells used in diy conversions will put out a max burst current of about 4C, where C is rated cell capacity, so 400A for a 100Ah cell for example, but cylindrical cells will put out 10C, and A123 cells will put out 20C. The Peukert Effect for these cells is very small compared to lead acid.

An electric bike is much more efficient than an electric car for sure, but I would rather pump and get the exercise, so my bike is not electrified. I'm a wimp in cold though, so only ride if it is above 40 F. I actually enjoy going to the hardware store or grocery more on my bike than driving. Nice to be out in the open air - when it isn't too cold. One time when I was in Beijing I walked out of my hotel and there was a woman bicycling up the hill with around 20 goldfish bowls with water and fish in them on racks on the back of her bike.

It's something We saw an elderly woman in that same town pedaling a big old 3
wheeled affair. It had a smoldering cookstove on it with a full load
of charcoal and a big bag of yams. She was heading in to the factory
with hot lunch for maybe 100 workers on board
That whole thing must have weighed 300 lbs and she was moving it pretty well

China's secret weapon

E-bikes are a total win. There are a lot of people that wouldn't mind biking to work but for getting all sweaty. With an E-bike, you can eliminate the sweat factor. And even if you just bike seasonally, that can save an awfully large amount of oil.

I believe the E-bike is the most popular EV in the world . . .there are like 250 million of them in China.

These figures aren't right.

My Nissan Leaf has 160 Km (100 mile) range on 24 KWH battery.
I get 4.1 to 4.4 miles per KWH.

My e-bike gets about 9 times as much range per KWH, about 35 miles/KWH.

Note that a gallon of gasoline equals 33.3 KWH, so the e-bike gets 1000 miles/gallon equivalent, and the Leaf gets 150 miles/gallon equivalent.

Both are much more efficient than any car.

So, yes, driving an electric vehicle makes a big difference.

Thats only partially correct. If someone moves to an electric vehicle, the total well-to-wheels energy usage has gone down (though not away). Also the possibilty to obtain the energy from non fossil fuel cources is now opened up. Its a step, not the entire journey. But, no single step will be sufficient, but we have to be careful not to discourage steps in the right direction, simply because they don't go far enough.

Speculawyer is merely an EV fan, not an environmentalist or a transitionist.

EVs are indeed a step -- a step in precisely the wrong direction. As Ghung says, we are heading for radically reduced consumption, one way or another. Wasting scarce energy on the harebrained capitalist project of having everybody use personally-owned 3,000-pound machines is doomed, regardless of fuel source. Every advance for EVs is a blow against sane transportation policy, which require reconstruction of towns to favor walking, cycling, and public transit.

Not to mention, most of our (first world) transport needs are completely unnecessary.

The meaning of life may well be, "To live a life of meaning", but jeebers there's a load of BS and waste along the way.

Cheers, Matt

Agree. Most transportation "needs" are transportation "wants".


"Agree. Most transportation "needs" are transportation "wants"."
You didn't require "transportation" in that statement.

So very true!

Just because they look and move like the cars that fill the highways today, doesn't mean the Electric will play the same role. I'm fairly sure that it simply cannot, as resources and costs will keep it from ever getting that far.

Your objection to them is simply far too extreme. We have all sorts of essential needs for vehicles, and having well-designed electric cars and trucks will be good tools to have available. They don't have to be an either/or against mass transit or walking/biking, even if the BAU crowd thinks they will fill the roads.

I'm certainly not a doomer. Remember, it is call "Peak oil", not "Cliff oil". The oil doesn't just stop. And we are stuck with the housing that we have already built, much of which is dependent on cars. Would it be environmentally correct to just plow down all the suburbs and start over?

And there is no reason why we cannot simultaneously use EVs while building more much-needed public transportation.

"sane transportation policy, which require reconstruction of towns to favor walking, cycling, and public transit."

That would be great. I lived in London back in the 60's having moved there from Los Angeles. The contrast was amazing: They had a real public transportation system in London. London was also quite compact by comparison.

Unfortunately, the cities and towns in the United States are already built. The U.S.A. is a huge place with lots of nothing between population centers. A megalopolis like Los Angeles, the viewpoint from which these words are written, is spread-out and goes on and on. Most city rail and trolly systems were ripped out and built over. Public transportation is designed to make you really want a car. Trains and subways to nowhere are built so as not to upset the monied interests. Even these projects are hugely expensive because the city is already in-place. The cities themselves, the suburbs, are designed to require the use of a car: all the houses are here, and all of the stores are way over there. The money is not there to rebuild and rationalize the cities and their transportation systems. To get some idea of the truth of this, look at the cost of installing the infrastructure to support alternative transportation fuels such as Compressed Natural Gas or hydrogen. In contrast, charging outlets for the EV1 were available at Costco: they were easy to add.

There is a thing called stratified stability. Technologies come to rest in certain stable states driven by knowledge and practice. From such a position, the state of the art can wheel and charge just so far along constrained directions into the next stable state or generation. In other-words, if you discover the joys of a handful of sand, you cannot next then build an integrated circuit. There are many intervening steps to arrive at first. The human hives and the things flitting through them look like this right now. Even the Chinese are making brand new, empty versions of the same thing... which is really a shame... they could have made the next new thing... something better.

A way around this aspect of stratified stability is to reset the system to a primitive state. When cities are destroyed by nature, fire, or war, they can be rebuilt better than before. The capital of knowledge and resources must remain, however.

It is a shame that "environmental", "green", and "electric car" have become hate words within the widely disseminated corporate media message. In service of what?

China's ghost cities:

Frank Fairfield - Cumberland Gap

That is not the case with my electric car. It and the house receive all their electric from solar pv on the roof of the house. Yes, fossil fuels were used to refine, process and transport the materials, and to make and transport the panels, because that is the infrastructure we have now. But bauxite can be smelted in arc furnaces run with electric from pv and hydro, and boules of silicon can be pulled from melts heated by electric from pv, and electric vehicles can transport the materials. Sure, we will likely not approach the rate of energy flow we presently have with fossil fuels to drive the economy, but eventually it will be all we have, so it behooves us to make that transition and build that infrastructure while we have fossil fuels to do it, and before their costs go through the roof and we can't afford it. We have already waited too long in that regard. Or we can piss and moan, and wring our hands that it won't do any good, we have to have fossil fuels to do anything, blah, blah, and completely let down future generations.

One question: how could hydro make all the plastics and composite material used in your car and supply chain that produce it ? Without plastics, the world will be different.

Mainly, you need NG, not oil, but you could also create cars without lots of the plastic parts we have in them today, and you can create plastics from all sorts of organic feedstocks as well.

Check out this book.. lots of interesting revelations about polymers!


And there is a point about scale. We only use a few percent of oil/NG as chemical feedstocks (not counting fuel). So we could be a century past peak oil/NG, and if the only use for oil/gas was chemical feedstocks, we would still be able to do it. There is a lot of time to work out bio-inputs.

I disagree that Peak Oil means the end of Capitalism. The Capitalist system long predates the common use of fossil fuels, nevermind the intensive use of oil. It arose during the Renaissance, and in its early stages, sailing ships and horse-drawn wagons and canal barges provided the transportation, and windmills and waterwheels provided power for the mills and factories. (Some people have argued that it arose even earlier, during the Middle Ages). By the time Adam Smith wrote his classic work on the subject in 1776, The Wealth of Nations, the Capitalist system was well developed.

The Industrial Revolution, which I would argue is a consequence rather than a cause of the rise of Capitalism, was originally wind and water powered. When those resources ran short, it turned to coal as a mainstay of its energy supply, and later hydroelectricity.

By the time oil became a major energy source (around 1900), the Industrial Revolution was essentially over, and all oil did was replace coal as the main energy source in many (not all) developed countries. It still hasn't completely replaced coal - there are still vast amounts of coal available, and coal is driving the growth of newly industrializing economies such as China and India.

I would argue that any energy source is adequate to supply the energy for industrial production, and the Capitalist system is just the most efficient way to make it work.

1 barrel of oil
= 0.2 to 0.5 tonnes of coal
= 6 thousand cubic feet of natural gas
= 1.6 megawatt-hours of electricity

Factories can run on any of those energy sources, it's just that without oil people may have trouble driving to work. They might have to walk, ride bicycles, or take rail systems instead, and if they have to they will do that.

"The Industrial Revolution, which I would argue is a consequence rather than a cause of the rise of Capitalism".. I'll agree that it is, but so are many other things. What you discuss, prior to the industrial revolution, which I'll refer to as true capitalism, or "honest capitalism", was very different from the hyper-complex, hyper-capitalist system that evolved out of it as a result of massive, concentrated energy and resource inputs. Today's "capitalist system" must support equally massive energy and resource sinks and dead-end consumption schemes, stuff, junk and entitlements, and is reliant on this bloated meme to survive.

Rockman touches on this below. These non-productive loads on the system, grossly enabled by concentrated energy resources, would have been eliminated, could not have been afforded by pre-industrial economies. As it becomes necessary to eliminate the fat from the current system, it will also become necessary to eliminate that which benefits from and relies upon this fat for its survival, be it man or machine. Again, if you can't feed the energy slaves at current levels, you can't support that which relies upon them at current levels.

Your definition of capitalism and the one the article refers to are very different things, IMO. I expect that we'll return to your concept at some point, on our way back to a more tribal, local and communal system.

I think the pre-industrial revolution was driven by the harnessing of wind (think Dutch windmills) and water (English waterwheels) for mechanical work, and peat (low countries) for thermal energy. Being able to convert chemical energy to heat, and to harness kinetic energy, leveraged the effectiveness of human labor.

The industrial revolution really took off with the steam engine, which permitted conversion between heat energy and kinetic energy (and by simple extension from the chemical energy of coal as well). This provided vast new capabilities that expanded with the advent of oil, and yet again with the addition of nuclear heat.

Capitalism seems to be uniquely suited to optimally converting resources to waste and (appropriately enough) new capital. To me the question isn't whether capitalism will still exist and work or not, but whether there will be enough resources for it much to matter.

What you discuss, prior to the industrial revolution, which I'll refer to as true capitalism, or "honest capitalism", was very different from the hyper-complex, hyper-capitalist system that evolved out of it as a result of massive, concentrated energy and resource inputs.

Rather than "honest capitalism", I would refer to the Capitalist system prior to the Industrial Revolution as Mercantilism

Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and military security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from the 16th to late-18th centuries. Mercantilism was a cause of frequent European wars in that time and motivated colonial expansion.

Mercantilist policies have included:

  • Building a network of overseas colonies
  • Forbidding colonies to trade with other nations
  • Monopolizing markets with staple ports
  • Promote accumulation of gold and silver
  • Forbidding trade to be carried in foreign ships
  • Export subsidies
  • Maximizing the use of domestic resources
  • Restricting domestic consumption with non-tariff barriers to trade

It's more an "unsophisticated" version of Capitalism rather than an "honest" one, although you will note many features of it are found in US economic policy, which probably accounts for the US tendency to get into foreign wars.

The modern version is known as Neomercantism.

Neomercantilism is a 20th century economic policy that uses the ideas and methods of Neoclassical Economics. The new mercantilism has different goals and focuses on more rapid economic growth based on advanced technology. It promotes such policies as substitution of state taxing, subsidizing, spending, and general regulatory powers for tariffs and quotas, and protection through the formation of supranational trading blocs.

What the US is promoting, most of the time, is really Corporate Capitalism although it laps into old-fashioned Mercantilism a lot of the time.

Corporate capitalism is a term used in social science and economics to describe a capitalist marketplace characterized by the dominance of hierarchical, bureaucratic corporations, which are legally required to pursue profit.

In contrast, what the Chinese are doing, with a considerable degree of success, is State Capitalism

The term State capitalism has various meanings, but is usually described as commercial (profit-seeking) economic activity undertaken by the state with management of the productive forces in a capitalist manner, even if the state is nominally socialist. State capitalism is usually characterized by the dominance or existence of a significant number of state-owned business enterprises. Examples of state capitalism include Corporatized government agencies (agencies organized along corporate and business management practices) and states that own controlling shares of publicly-listed corporations, effectively acting as a large capitalist and shareholder itself.

OTOH, Canada historically has had a mix of Corporate Capitalism and State Capitalism (which American conservatives have confused with Socialism), although it is tending more toward Neomercantilism recently.


Thanks for those definitions. It really helps to the overall discussion to have specific terms that are well defined.



This system . . . is . . . an economic order that harks back to Bismarck in the late nineteenth century and Mussolini in the twentieth: corporatism.

Another POV from some kind of award winning economist.

Good points. It seems reasonable to conclude that capitalism was at most a minor force, until non-muscle sources of energy became important. Harnessing these non-mucle sources (ignoring wood and charcoal which had been sources for ages) generally requires capital formation. It takes a significant amount of resources to build a sailing ship, a windmill or a watermill. And until the system is finished, it doesn't provide any income, but rather consumes materials and labour. Post fossil fuels, capitalism might be somewhat less dominant, but I don't see it going away. Particularly if we obtain significant amounts of energy from non-muscle sources, mostly wind, sun and hydro. These replacement power sources are all capital intensive, and the owners/creators rightfully can expect to obtain rents on their employment.

I think resource limits likely will be the end of capitalism.

Capitalism, to me, means capitalists. That is, a significant number of people who can make a living by lending money/investing, rather than by laboring/producing. Why was usury so frowned upon in the ancient world? Think Jesus and the money changers, the Islam ban on lending money for interest, Jewish laws against charging interest to fellow Jews, Cato equating usury with murder. It was because ancient economies could not easily support capitalists. They are extremely harmful to a steady-state economy.

Capitalism works in an expansionary economy. Where the pie is growing, and you can have a bigger slice without taking it from someone else. That was how the economy grew before fossil fuels - colonizing the New World and otherwise establishing access to resources that were previously unavailable.

That's not really an option any more, unless we find a way to colonize space.

There is a difference between money lending, and equity investment. The later consists of people investing their own surplus capital, perhaps building a wind turbine and extracting "rents" via selling the electricty. Islam for example didn't/doesn't prohibit equity investment. Equity investing is more stable in a downturn, as the investment capital can be lost, but unpayable debts don't occur. The problem with equity only investing, is that those who have started out without capital have a hard time getting started. Its still doable, "I want to build a wind turbine, but don't have the cash, I can try to sell shares in the (to be) turbine company", but thats harder to do than borrowing the money. So we've ended up with a mixed system.

There will still be a need for investment in means of production even in a steadystate system, and there will still be a need to accumulate capital to do so. Although the numbers that can be fully supported by their investments might be smaller. OTOH, they numbers might be larger, as a society in quasi-equilibrium only rebuilding capcity as it decays should be able to get by with less labor per unit of output, than one whose economy is growing.

Like I said...to me, the definition of capitalism means the existence of capitalists: a class of people who live off interest/return on investments.

There are other ways of accumulating capital. Saving was the traditional way. There are also family/community ways that you still see immigrants practice. They are often lottery-like affairs, where everyone puts in a few bucks, lots are drawn, and the pot goes to the winner.

Capitalism - Etymology and early usage

The term capitalist as referring to an owner of capital (rather than its meaning of someone adherent to the economic system) shows earlier recorded use than the term capitalism, dating back to the mid-seventeenth century. Capitalist is derived from Capital, which evolved from capitale, a late Latin word based on proto-Indo-European caput, meaning "head" — also the origin of chattel and cattle in the sense of movable property (only much later to refer only to livestock).

Capitale emerged in the 12th to 13th centuries in the sense of referring to funds, stock of merchandise, sum of money, or money carrying interest. By 1283 it was used in the sense of the capital assets of a trading firm. It was frequently interchanged with a number of other words — wealth, money, funds, goods, assets, property and so on.

The Hollandische Mercurius uses capitalists in 1633 and 1654 to refer to owners of capital. In French, Étienne Clavier referred to capitalistes in 1788, six years before its first recorded English usage by Arthur Young in his work Travels in France (1792).

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the term capitalism was first used by novelist William Makepeace Thackeray in 1854 in The Newcomes, where he meant "having ownership of capital". Also according to the OED, Carl Adolph Douai, a German-American socialist and abolitionist, used the term private capitalism in 1863.

RMG --interesting background material. Thanks.

So, basically, the "caput" in capitalist tells us who is in charge, who is the head, the leader, him who hath the gold.

Our assumption is that him who hath the gold got it by being "smart" and that is why, under the golden rule, he should lead.

More accurately, under the early definition, the Capitalist is the one who owns the Capital. "Caput" is the root word of "Chattel" or "Cattle", i.e. movable property. It wasn't necessarily gold. Whether the Capitalist is smart and leads or not is optional. The concept is one of private ownership of property rather than political power.

Capitalism is a concept which emerged later, during the 17th century, and is one of an economic system based on private ownership of Capital - which opposes it to Communism which is based on common ownership.

Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, stateless and revolutionary socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production.

Communism really failed because of its inefficiency in managing Capital. The Soviet Union collapsed, and China reverted to something that is more similar to Laissez Faire Capitalism.

Capitalist is derived from Capital, which evolved from capitale, a late Latin word based on proto-Indo-European caput, meaning "head" — also the origin of chattel and cattle in the sense of movable property (only much later to refer only to livestock).

Interesting. "Capitalist" and "slave" (chattel) share a common entomological origin.
Probably has some deep and meaningful significance that I can't quite grasp at the moment.

some deep and meaningful significance that I can't quite grasp at the moment

surely you jest

(and my apologies for calling you Shirley)

But then again, consider also the Biblical notion of "dominion"

namely, that man has "dominion" over the cattle and all other lower animals of the Earth,

to do with them as he pleases

--not very far adrift from the concept of "ownership"
and the self-claimed right to do with one's property whatever the property owner (capitalist) wants

"Capitalist" and "slave" (chattel) share a common entomological origin.
Probably has some deep and meaningful significance that I can't quite grasp at the moment.

It is more obscure than you might think. Only some slaves were chattel (i.e. movable property). Other slaves were serfs (i.e. fixed property).


Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century. Serfdom included the labor of serfs occupying a plot of land owned by a lord of the manor in return for protection and justice and the right to exploit certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence.

In the middle ages, it was better to be a serf than a chattel slave, since serfs were attached to the land. Their owner couldn't just sell them to someone else. He had to sell the both them and the land. This gave serfs a certain measure of security since they could use some of the land to built hovels and grow their own food, and their owner couldn't kick them off the land. OTOH, tenant farmers could be kicked off the land, and chattel slaves could be traded like, well, cattle.

Capitalism, to me, means capitalists. That is, a significant number of people who can make a living by lending money/investing, rather than by laboring/producing.

This is ridiculous. What about the capitalist who starts a business and hires people? He is risking his capital. If his business fails, he loses his capital. His employees on the other hand are free to look for a job elsewhere. Even the capitalists who lend or invest money are taking a risk with their capital. The entity that borrows from them could be another capitalist and use the borrowed money to start a business.

I agree that consumers borrowing money to buy SUVs is a bad idea; but then no one is forcing them to borrow.

What about the capitalist who starts a business and hires people? He is risking his capital. If his business fails, he loses his capital.

What about him? I didn't say capitalists take no risks or don't earn their money. Just that ancient economies couldn't support a lot of people who didn't directly produce things, and we may be heading back that way.

You implied that they don't work and simply sit back and collect dividends with this: ......a class of people who live off interest/return on investments.

Starting a business and running it is a lot of hard work and struggle with a low probability of success. Most capitalists save and accumulate capital and produce things otherwise they wouldn't have the capital. Of course there are bad apples like the investment bankers on Wall St, incompetent CEOs with golden parachutes, etc.

Just that ancient economies couldn't support a lot of people who didn't directly produce things, and we may be heading back that way.

What is your definition of "directly producing things"? If an entrepreneur hires someone, is he still directly producing?

I agree that in the future the overall economy will be smaller and hence there will be fewer successful entrepreneurs.

You implied that they don't work and simply sit back and collect dividends with this: ......a class of people who live off interest/return on investments.

I think I spelled it out pretty clearly.

What is your definition of "directly producing things"? If an entrepreneur hires someone, is he still directly producing?

Not if that's all he does.

Note, this doesn't apply just to money-lenders. It also applies to others, like doctors, teachers, scientists. It doesn't mean the work they do is not valuable, just that societies may not be able to afford them.

I agree that in the future the overall economy will be smaller and hence there will be fewer successful entrepreneurs.

It's more than that. The reason we worship at the altar of growth is that makes inequality acceptable. Even now, with all our fossil-fueled machines, our standard of living is based on a lot of poor people at the bottom of the pyramid. This is acceptable because, in theory at least, they have a chance to get rich. Or at least middle class. One day, they or their children will be in the middle or upper levels of the pyramid.

Without growth, that's gone. As Stoneleigh has said, traditionally the only people who could borrow money were people who didn't need to.

"The Great Frontier" by Walter Prescott Webb


At page 9, speaking of Europe:

"...the conditions under which these people lived in 1500. ...the society was a static one with well-defined classes. The population was pressed hard on the means of subsistence. There was not much food, and practically no means of escape for those living in a closed world. The idea of progress had not been born. Heaven alone, which could be reached only through the portals of death, offered hope to the masses..."

And then they found the new world and its resources.

I had a look ... gosh it is really stodgy writing from a by-gone era. But there again, I'm just a shallow baby boomer who demands instant quality information in very short bites (and bytes).

"What is your definition of "directly producing things"? If an entrepreneur hires someone, is he still directly producing?"

I think the true capitalist is the person who lent the entrepreneur the money for his venture. The entrepreneur is hoping to make his money on the result of the project he is directing and managing.

I think resource limits likely will be the end of capitalism.
[C]apitalists ... are extremely harmful to a steady-state economy.

This is the key question, isn't it? Until recently, (skilled) labour has been the scarce resource - natural resources have been abundant. Will capitalism survive the transition to a different resource regime? Should it?

Two aspects I'd like to point out. The political justification for the current system is that growth makes everyone better off, so don't worry about inequality. One day, you'll be rich too. If and when growth stops (and maybe reverses), that won't work to distract us from growing inequality any more. What else is there?

The "natural order ordained by God" excuse for extremes of poverty and wealth has long been discarded in the West, and is no longer believed in Arab countries either - witness the Arab Spring. So how will political elites continue to distract us from inequality? (My own view is that as long as there is some hope of moving up - even as little as of winning the lottery - we'll fight each other to climb the greasy pole, even while it's sinking into the mud. Currently the weapon of choice is education.)

Another perspective on this. Economics 000 (before 101 ;-) ) is supply and demand. If something is scarce, its price is high, otherwise it is cheap. Scarcity is relative, so if natural resources are scarce, labour is abundant. A lot of people become simply unnecessary. Should we expect political elites to care about them (us/our kids)? Before answering, calculate what percentage of your income you have donated to famine relief in East Africa. From the average Somalian's point of view, we are the political elite. How much do we care about them? To a billionaire, most people are more similar to Somalians than to themselves.

Second aspect. There is legitimate doubt that capitalism, the system of borrowing against future income to finance investment today, can work if income is expected to fall secularly or even just remain static. When population growth is 2% p.a. and incomes are also growing at 2% p.a. an investor can expect to double her income in 18 years, so investment is worthwhile. With 0% and 0%, it's not worth the inevitable risks. Even replacing existing capital assets gets harder as banks become risk-averse. Without investment, incomes decline, economics 000 bites harder, and there is even less incentive to invest, in a descending spiral.

As for colonizing space: we're not able to solve the far easier and more rewarding problems of creating net-resource-positive colonies on Antarctica or the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. It's not going to happen this century or next.

I take umbrage about phrases like borrowing from the future, usually used to describe an increase in monetary debt. We can't (lacking a time machine) physically borrow from the future. We can in some situations consume resources that were saved with the intent of their being available in the future. So for instance, if your country has a grain store large enough to bridge through several years of drought, and you decide to consume it, that could in good faith be described as borrowing from the future. So could excessive consumption on non renewable resources. But with respect to human labor, we can't command future labor to do anything for us in the present. Although we could use labor in foolishly unsustainable ways, say we decide to stop schooling at the sixth grade and put the kids to work in sweat shops. That would be borrowing future productivity in order to create shortterm goods (whatever it is those sweatshops produce).

But your points are valid. Investors expect to recieve a decent return on their investments. Without economic growth the return on investment will be smaller than we have been used to. I'd argue it won't go to zero, we still have to expend curent resources and labor to maintain or rebuild production and infrastructure. There must be a large enough rate of return on this investment, that enough of it is done to maintain the steady state. The rate of return will be greater than zero, or that investment won't happen. But because less investment is needed, there are fewer projects for wouldbe investment dollars to chase, ergo the rate of return should be lower.

Borrowing, stealing don't call it what you want. To 1980 we are right now the future. Do you think there was anything that could have been done differently then, which could have prevented this converstaion?

Could we have NOT strip mined phosphate deposites, wiped out fish species, burned down the Amazon, deposited another 50 ppm of CO2 into the atmoshere, increased the population by over two billion.............

From about 1910 when we in earnest began to realize the potential of oil and the ICE did we begib seriously taking from the future. The future is now, we are still narcissistic and psychopathic, and the future is still there to take from and so we will, until there is no more.

It's all about choices, we want what is best for ourselves now but we could (have) choosen to respect the future to live with less now, we could have stocked the silos, practiced conservation, limited our population but it's not what we are. Like seven billion grains of sand in an hourglass, with an abundant Earth we kept feeding more grains in than were falling through. In the near future our ability to find nourishment for new grains of sand and prevent the hole from becoming larger will fail us. That is now an preventable future.

Ghung - Very good point. I’m always amazed when some folks say the solution to our problems is to reduce hydrocarbon consumption. That would certainly eliminate some big problems. But what is the trade off? Granted, cutting back on ff consumption will eventually not be a voluntary choice but mandatory. But they seem so naïve re: what that society will look like. Fantasies about how the alts will allow BAU to continue are often part of the pitch. Thankfully it’s been so long since I lived a low ff lifestyle I don’t remember all of it. But I remember enough to know it wasn’t that lovely paradise some imagine. I remember spending 4 or 5 hours commuting to work via walking and buses. Not the end of the world in nice weather…but wasn’t always nice weather. And that’s just one minor example. I just recalled sitting on the stoop at midnight because it was too hot to sleep on an August night in Nawlins. No AC? How about to fan. And the hotter days I was grandma's handpowered fan...hand't thought about that in decades.

Those of us older than 50 could think of a lot more examples. Your output is limited without the aid of ff. And output detemimes income. And income obviously determines lifestyle be it a warm house in winter or a full stomach. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as I imagine it could be. But I have visions of a lot of folks forced to lifestyles they are not prepared for. I always go back to my Starbucks example: a 22 yo with skills limited to such a job choice…what happens when hundreds of thousands (millions?) of such discretionary jobs disappear as PO forces society to do away away such “necessities” as a $5 cup of coffee.

Rockman, I sometimes talk to people who fantasize about living "off the grid". I tell them that I grew up "off the grid", and frankly, it wasn't that much fun. Carrying water from the well every morning and running to the outhouse several times a day got old fast, particularly when it was 40 degrees below zero (F or C, your choice)

I also remember the first time my father came into the chicken coop and said, "Son, how would you like a nice chicken dinner tonight? Here's the ax, there's the chicken." Fortunately my sisters had to pluck and clean it. My mother constantly complained that our pillows were too thin because our father didn't kill enough chickens. Every year, our father would deworm the pigs, and then he would deworm the kids, too - the same chemicals worked for us as for the pigs.

After a while you learn the animals are all food except for the dogs and cats, and the pets have to earn their living too. The cats were in charge of mouse control, but when the dog deviated from his job of keeping the coyotes out of the farmyard and chowed down on the chickens himself, he went to 12-gauge heaven and we got a new dog.

I personally learned to shoot a gun at six (my father had been a marksmanship instructor in WWII and taught the girls to shoot at six, too). When I was eight, I bought my own semiautomatic .22 and was tasked with reducing the gopher population. I fired about 500 rounds of ammunition and killed about 300 gophers in the process. An old-timer laughed at that and said during the Depression, when money for ammo was tight, he averaged about 1.2 gophers per shot, because he never fired unless he had two lined up at once.

I don't think most urban folks could survive under such conditions, and their attempts to do so have only convinced me that I'm right. I have a bit more survival experience from living in backcountry huts which are so far off the grid that you need a helicopter to get back to the grid, but most of the time I find having lots of modern amenities makes life much more livable.

Rockman, and RMG, you are aguing from a dichotomy. Either have FF and BAU, or live offgrid in a primative cabin. Thats not really the choice we are faced with. The choice is a partial powerdown, with significant amounts on non-FF energy still avaiable. I don't even think the general cost of power will be much higher, but its price will be conditional on varying supply. Its sunny and the winds blowing, pay $.10KWhour, fire up the electric-arc furnace and make steel today! It's calm and the sun isn't out, pay $.75 per KWhour,and curtail activities that are not economic at that cost level. People will learn to modify there usage depending upon the availability. No. Some things won't be exploited as efficiently, sometimes employees won't be able to work, because the industrial plant can't afford power when its in a scarce phase. Not the end of civilized technological life, but not a seemless transition either.

Yeah, this is what I think will happen. The economists that get so much hate from here (with good reason) do also have good points. People will adapt and adjust based on pricing. The USA could easily slash half its energy usage by insulating more, turning in V8s for hybrids & electric cars, incandescents for LEDs, reducing unnecessary consumption (turn almost everything off when you leave your home for the day!), smaller homes, live closer to work, use public transportation, etc. People will bitch & moan . . . but they'll deal with it.

spec - I always appreciate and look forward your views. "The USA could easily slash half its energy usage... People will bitch & moan . . . but they'll deal with it." But this is where you and I view matters differently…but perhaps just by degrees. You think of averages...I think of individuals. But I’m sure you’re also concerned about the individual also. The average income in the US isn't that bad. OTOH millions live below the poverty level. When PO hits hard I'll still be able to afford a $5 cup at Starbucks. But the worker making that cup today won't be making half the salary he's making today and using half the resources he uses today. He won't have a job because folks are only stopping by the shop half as often. IOW he and half the staff have been fired. And he was doing the only job he could that was of value to society. Look around you next time you're out and make note of folks doing jobs you would still be willing to support financially when PO hits hard. What’s that percentage? During the depression of the 30's there were millions still making living wages and millions making no income. Whatever the average income might have been it didn't really matter if you had no job. That's the worst case scenario I envision: the US has reduced its ff significantly along with the number of jobs for folks with little viable skills. And, not so coincidentally, at a time when society will be less able to afford the social safety net that would required as never before...or at least since the 30's.

OTOH it may be bad but not that bad. All we can do is hope. Maybe I tend to focus on the potential downside of unemployment too much. But you have to look at my life. I came from a world where most of us were of little value to society other than carrying an M-16. And even when I was able to push myself up that profession ladder to middle class I still had the rug pulled out of me during the oil patch recession of the 80'. And was back to doing grunt work for relatively low pay. Now I don't have to worry about me or my daughter making that side down again. OTOH neither of us is serving $5 coffee at Starbucks.

That's the worst case scenario I envision: the US has reduced its ff significantly along with the number of jobs for folks with little viable skills.

But doing the first doesn't necessarily have to lead to the second - that is a societal choice.

I will put Australia as an example. It has a relatively similar economy and standard of living compared to the US (though a higher average level of education), BUT uses only 3/4 of the oil per capita.

So, to make a 1/4 reduction in oil use (a 50% decrease in imports) need not mean huge changes in lifestyle - it does mean changes in the average size and mileage (and engine and fuel type) of vehicles. I don't consider that a huge change, in fact it is a relatively minor one compared to EV's or (gasp!) no vehicles (WW2 style).

The reduction of folks with valuable skills, and places to put them to work, is happening regardless. The fact is that, increasingly society can function with less and less labour input, (be it by automation, computerisation (e.g tax processing) or outsourcing). That leaves many people just as "consumers", not "producers". But if they are not producing, they can't afford to consume for very long, unless "subsidised". This is the real problem that needs to be addressed, and I regard it as quite independent of oil use.

We have all sorts of McJobs, because over recent decades we have been happy to pay someone else to make the coffee or lunch. But if people return to doing that themselves, then those jobs dissappear from a lack of demand, not a lack of (productive) oil use. So many of those jobs are there to serve the "consumption" economy, as "production" (be it oil or food or bulldozers) doesn't really employ many people anymore.

As the middle class affluence shrinks, so do all those McJobs, but I can't see the availability of more oil ( or even cheaper oil) reversing that process.

The fact is that, increasingly society can function with less and less labour input, (be it by automation, computerisation (e.g tax processing) or outsourcing). That leaves many people just as "consumers", not "producers".

I agree totally with that - and I'm really pleased to see my nieces and nephews steering towards technical, mechanical and production-oriented trades and professions; areas that will "always" be in demand, even if there is a FF power-down during their lifetime.

So while the number of people selling $5.00 coffees may decline, the maintenance of the espresso machine (or indeed the entire electrical system of the store) will be an on-going requirement, whether they sell 500 cups a day, or 1,000.

In fact in the future, having such practical technical skills (including in electronics) might be more important, as repairing and maintaining all manner of machinery (and buildings) might be more common, rather than just throwing stuff away.

Without a manufacturing base, those basic jobs are gone. The only American engineering jobs beckoning repeatedly to my friends and students are in weapons. Everything else is some weird thing one can do or have to do without in a crunch: Advertising, the people selling $5 coffee, $5 burgers, and pizza by the slice, art, financial services, business supplies and copy services, real estate sales...

Yes, fixing things and making custom technological pieces are wonderful, valuable village skills. They do not replace the manufacturing base.

What globalization has meant is that all the good jobs went to the world's impoverished. To compete, one must now be even more impoverished then they. It also means that the only groups doing well are relatively small. The monetarily elite are doing quite well. A vanishingly small number of social-network programmers are doing very well. Oil hands in Dakota...

That is why no recovery is predicted. It will never be the same. It will be the rich assisted in their existence by small groups of specialists and their servants.

If we shut the globalization experiment down, the rich will suffer terribly.

What globalization has meant is that all the good jobs went to the world's impoverished.

No, what it means is that all the good jobs went to people who could do it faster and cheaper. The problem that US engineers have is that China and India (among other countries) are cranking out hundreds of thousands of engineers who can do the same job they do (frequently faster) at much lower wages.

From the standpoint of developing-country engineers, this is a good deal. They are making much more money than the average person in their country and can have a large, luxurious house with servants (bodyguards optional depending on country) for the amount of money they make. For engineers in the US it is less good because they would be making less than plumbers and could only afford a cheap appartment in a bad neighborhood for the same income.

I don't know...

Putting a product through development in China can be an interesting experience. It is certainly not "faster".

In China there have arisen what are called "ant tribes". These are the educated young who cannot find a job, especially in engineering. So, there are many people competing for every vacancy. The parents see an education as a ticket to a good future. They sacrifice to send the children to school. The schools and there culture do not support the kind of human engineering "product" that industry requires. So, lots of engineering goes to outsiders there, too.

Ant Tribes:

The assembly work itself is done cheaper because the people exist at a vastly lower standard of living than the Americans had in the 1970's. The lack of environmental regulation saves money, too. There is "The Asian Brown Cloud". The air in Beijing is brown/green. Rivers flow in party colors. If the walls remain down between the economies, we will have to improve our own business environment to match or better theirs in order to bring the jobs back.

We still have engineering jobs. And not all are for weapons design. I'm making a pretty decent living at it. And my ultimate customers are mostly automotive (not sustainable into the future?) and a host of other industrial concerns. They are al over the world. Many of my fellow engineers are foreign born and educated, but work in the US to service frequently foreign clients.
Now the question can be rephrased, do we have as many and as high a quality of these jobs as we could?

There are niche jobs left. One can do quite well: Electric car and other entrepreneurs, custom industrial process controllers, physics experiments, artist's with things they would like to do, museum exhibits, electronic and amplified musical instruments and effects...

It isn't what it was. In the 1970's, the Engineering Help Wanted content in the Los Angeles Times... was its own section, like Sports or Business News. These were design jobs. Now, the heading hardly exists, if at all. The supporting services are gone: machine shops, mold makers, sensor developers... The industry magazines have changed. Anybody remember the Guardian angel? Well, she would be Asian now. Since component purchasing decisions are made overseas, the models in the component and sub-component ads are Asian. Bob Pease wrote a three-part article on washing his socks. He developed well-known integrated circuits at National Semiconductor. He would write technical articles in one of the trade magazines. These articles faded as interest waned.


The reasons for the decline of America are varied and complex, and many are not so easy to talk about.

Declining marginal returns of complexity, offshoring of manufacturing base, declining investment in education, competition from the rest of the world, racial strife combined with high levels of immigration, high costs of surbuban/auto lifestyle, rise of religiosity, inability for self-examination, domination of the military-industrial complex and wasteful spending on weapons/war, etc. all play their role.

The thing about America is that its wealth was so huge, the inertia of its power so large, that it really didn't pay attention to any of this.

America is suffering from a lack of maintenance. Why? Because maintenance is for suckers. To infinity and beyond!

Oh, wait, we don't have the fuel.

Yes. Things have changed.

My experience was, that by the late 70's, suddenly, it was gone. I had to buy T.V. parts in the development of a Cathode Ray Tube project. They were no longer available for just a quick drive. I was easiest to send people to Chinatown to buy whole T.V.s! It took me by surprise.


But this is where you and I view matters differently…but perhaps just by degrees. You think of averages...I think of individuals. But I’m sure you’re also concerned about the individual also. The average income in the US isn't that bad. OTOH millions live below the poverty level. When PO hits hard I'll still be able to afford a $5 cup at Starbucks.

Yeah, you raise a good point. I live in a pretty affluent area of silicon valley. So I see a lot of wasteful living and I can see how it can easily be cut back on. But yeah, those living on the edge don't have as much they can cut back on.

Well, hopefully some of what Jeff Rubin talked about will come true . . . some exported jobs will return since the cost of shipping the product across the ocean will be greater than the wage arbitrage. So perhaps some low-skilled jobs that were lost due to globalization will return due to peak oil. That will help mitigate the problems.

And part of the reason why I'm into the concept of electric vehicles is the balance of trade issue. We shovel billions of dollars outside of the country to pay for our oil habit. If people move to EVs, they'll be filled up with 100% domestic electricity. They money they save not buying foreign oil can be spent at starbucks or at the local restaurant.

I suspect the issue may be deeper than soy lattes or other types of "wasteful living." The US has 2ish% of the global population and uses 25ish% of resources. Just going to the average and freeing up resources for people outside of the US means that the per capita consumption is going to drop by 80% or so. That is going to have consequences I can't even imagine. And yes, I saw the my first Department of Homeland Security truck today driving through the city. Just the beginning.

We shovel billions of dollars outside of the country to pay for our oil habit. If people move to EVs, they'll be filled up with 100% domestic electricity. The money they save not buying foreign oil can be spent at starbucks or at the local restaurant.

I have some bad news for you. The US not only imports large amounts of oil from Canada, but large amounts of electricity as well (primarily hydroelectricity). True, the US generates a lot of its own electricity, but primarily fossil fuels. By contrast, Canada's electricity is 60% hydro and 15% nuclear, and much of it is cheaper than US electricity.

Switching to EV's is going to require a lot more electricity. How are you going to generate it? Burn more coal? Build more nukes? Certainly, the US has a large surplus of natural gas that could be used, but how long is that going to last? (Probably not 100 years).

It is only natural that a large country with a small population should be a resource and energy exporter. The big countries with low population density, Australia, Canada, and Russia are all major exporters for that reason.
Electricity to support an EV based transport system isn't that large, and numerous no fossil fueled opportunities exist. I also think EVs because of the high cost of batteries will lead to smaller, slower, and less far. All directions we need to go in. Not having cheap brute force aailable ought to concentrate the minds of designers and consumers towards those directions.

Yes, we import some Canadian electricity but it is a relatively tiny amount of the electricity we used. And as you point out, it is good clean energy.

How are we going to generate more electricity? Mostly by just running the plants we already have at night. We have massive amount of excess electric generation capacity available at night. Enough to covert some 70 million cars with just the existing plants:
So we'll mostly just burn up that cheap natural gas that is available. We may burn a little more coal but even burning more coal as a limited percentage of the grid emits less carbon than the gas cars being replaced.

And how will we generate more electricity? The fastest power generation system last year was natural gas. The second fastest was wind. I think solar will also play a growing role considering that PV panels are dirt cheap now. Despite Fukushima, I think nuclear will eventually return.

"by just running the plants we already have at night"

That's the conclusion my power-industry friend came to. The grid is adequate to the distribution task. It is actually good for the system, he tells me.

It is very practical and cost-effective to power EVs from solar panels.

The cost of about 2 years' gasoline will buy solar panels to power an EV for the rest of your life, for an equal amount of driving per year.

Rocky,right on the dot as usual.I work as a courier and drive all over Benelux.Being a TOD guy I am observing all the time the jobs that are going to vanish when the discretionary spending cuts happen.They are just so many that it is distressing.Just thinking what all these shops/ people selling exquisite furnishing,antiques,special foods etc are going to do and with no personal skills is worrying.What can the govt do if the unemployment ramps up to say 50%?Of course there will be govt defaults and I am looking to Spain/Portugal as a study case with 25% unemployment(50% youth unemployment)bound to default this year or next.The question is what after that in Spain:Portugal?In an earlier post I had given some observations on my recent visit to India.What there next or in the developing world where problems have a different dimension?No, you are correct that when you focus on the downside of unemployment because this is a destabilizing factor for society.According to Orlov more people died in the Soviet Union because of suicide and self inflicted efforts than of hunger, and the prime reason was the loss of self esteem and dealienation they felt when they had lost their job.

The unemployment rate would only be 50% because for 200 years governments and big business have dogmatically stuck with a 40 hour per employee working week. If you mandate a 20 hour max per person [perhaps start with 30 hrs per week as a transition period], then the workaholic 1st world becomes the manyana 3rd world, employment is shared, 1/2 the social problems disappear [so does finance, big mortgages, car loans etc]. Simple and yet impossible for gov to accept.

That would be the least painful way to cut back, I think. However, it probably isn't going to happen until globalization dies.

Even without peak oil, I think we'd see an overall drop in living standards in the US. The Internet means you are now competing with people all over the world, and eventually, that will mean a more even distribution of resources. Great for those who currently don't use much, difficult for those currently consuming way more than their share.

That's the Lump of Labor Fallacy, often refuted in economics papers.

In economics, the lump of labour fallacy (or lump of jobs fallacy) is the contention that the amount of work available to labourers is fixed. It is considered a fallacy by most economists,[citation needed] who hold that the amount of work is not static. Another way to describe the fallacy is that it treats the demand for labour as an exogenous variable, when it is not. It may also be called the fallacy of labour scarcity, or the zero-sum fallacy, from its ties to the zero-sum game.

Historically, the term "lump of labour" originated to rebut the idea that reducing the number of hours employees are allowed to labour during the working day would lead to a reduction in unemployment.

If we stop relentless economic expansion, than the lump of lobor fallacy, actually unbecomes a fallacy. In the traditional sense, the society is so hungry for new production that those who lose their jobs are given work building yet more stuff. But, if we reach something approaching steady state, either by choice, or because of resource constraints, that substitution no longer operates.
Now, maybe society will invent makework jobs to absorb the unemployed. I would hope we would have the wisdom to instead expand the per capita freetime.

In the event of an economic downturn, the "lump of labor fallacy" becomes particularly fallacious. When governments reduce work hours to reduce the number of unemployed, employers reduce their workers hours, but do not hire new workers. The result is that the same number of workers are unemployed, but those who are employed are working the fewer hours. The result is that the economic downturn becomes worse rather than better.

This counterintuitive result makes reducing work hours a particularly bad strategy in a downturn.

What's Germany's secret?
"Germany's unemployment rate is low, and it declined through some of the worst portions of the recession, but it's important to point out that this is due in part to an ambitious work-sharing arrangement, in which employers are encouraged to reduce individual hours worked rather than lay off employees."

The "fallacy" isn't really a fallacy. Basically, the Wikipedia article (which is disputed) is arguing that it's a little more complicated than a straight substitution.

For example, the overhead costs (health insurance, vacation, etc.) might make it more economical for a company to pay overtime to current employees, rather than hire new ones. No doubt that is true. But it doesn't negate the basic premise that a shorter work week will spread the work around to more people. Just that it's not a strict correlation.

Let me pile on against the 'lump of labor fallacy'

It may also be called the fallacy of labour scarcity, or the zero-sum fallacy, from its ties to the zero-sum game.

They say the same thing about resources . . . but oil is now literally a zero sum game for OECD countries. The global oil production is not or barely growing. And whatever oil production growth exists is gobbled up by China & other developing counties. So we literally have a zero sum game on oil that is crushing our ability to grow. And since our labor growth is largely tied to oil usage growth, it is also sorta becoming a zero sum game. It isn't completely true (as shown by the recent drop to 8.3% unemployment), but compared to years past, the labor market is just not going to grow like it once did.

Unless there is some 'brand new thing' to come along like the internet and PCs did in the 90s and 80s. Mobile computing is the current big thing but much of its growth is coming by displacing PCs.

The thing is, each "brand new thing" is a technology that, somehow, displaces manual work. That is why they get adopted so quickly, it's great for business, and makes personal life "easier".
Economies have adapted, as jobs dissappear in the production economy, they have been created in the "service" (consumption) economy (which I deem to include banking/finance).

So what will be the next big thing?

I'll say probably cloud computing. It will actually result in the loss of local IT jobs, as it's all done in "the cloud". Similarly, the jobs of the filing clerk and the like - paper based jobs - are shrinking. There is work for database administrators, but they don;t need to be local either...

We will see some interesting, and rapid, globalisation from all this...

"Simple and yet impossible for gov to accept.

True, because their tax revenue, and therefore their power also drops. With progressive tax rates, one $60,000 per year job nets more revenue than two $30,000 per year jobs. According to my handy 1040 instructions; A $30,000 taxable income would pay $4,080, times 2 is $8,160. A single $60,000 taxable income would pay $11,131.

Therefore, we will not see the government pushing job sharing.

The benefits cost is pretty flat with income, so given that two employees would have twice the benefits of one, business will not push job sharing either.

Disclaimer, I did my taxes yesterday. 15% overall rate, 25% marginal rate. Just for income taxes; SS and medicare were not included.

Consider the 20 year old urban male. Not particularly educated, and not particular employed given the economic situation; but with an expectation that says he should expect all the money, cars, women, and 'respect' in the world. He's not poor, he's just waiting for his big break.

Now tell him he has no prospect of ever getting out of where he is, in fact it's going to get much, much worse. Nowhere to stay, no heating, no food - with all he has to look forward to is 'worse next year'.

There is a polite lie that the Arab Spring was about democracy. It wasn't. It was young males with nothing, nothing to look forward to, and nothing to lose.

Now tell his older brethren that the little they have earned is going to go away, and they are going to end up like the 20 year old, again.

How long do you think it will take before the rise up again those they think have what they think they deserve? Are they going to be thinking about insulation and electric cars - or crow bars and guns?

People will not go gentle into that good night. They will take, steal and rage, because it's not the dream they have been taught to expect, and because the journey down for those people is swift and starts from an already low ebb.

If the lesson of the naughties is that people are dumber than we thought possible, and financiers more corrupt; the lesson of 2010-2020 will be that people have shorter fuzes and less truck with 'less' than middle class sensibilities like to expect.

There is a polite lie that the Arab Spring was about democracy. It wasn't. It was young males with nothing, nothing to look forward to, and nothing to lose.

But saying "democracy" isn't a polite lie - it is propaganda.

And speaking the truth - little observable good prospects and none now might have people ask the same questions about themselves and their life.

Its really a combination. The frustrated twentysomethings, ascribe their lack of opportunity to the corrupt ruling structure. IMO many of them think that if they can just replace the corrupt ruling class, that the opportunities will then be there. I think they will be sorely disappointed, but it will take some time before they discover that. IMO Egypt is experiencing the frustrations that come from revolution not leading to a better life (in fact the economic disruption creates a (hopefully temprary) contraction as the old means of production are disrupted.

The Arab Spring was preceded by a Russian heatwave that caused food prices to skyrocket and lowered their standard of living. I believe that was the trigger. IMO, people will be fine unless you take away stuff that they are used to.

It's interesting the way american posters have picked up on the Arab Spring aspect and thought that I was talking about 'elsewhere'. I was talking about how the majority in the west, in the US, will view the idea that they will have to have 'less' each successive year.

Reading your starting sentences, I thought you were recognising the position of the US urban male; everything you say applies very well to the US situation - the corrupt ruling structure, the idea that replacing one corrupt ruling class with another and things will change, the dissatisfaction with the result.

Over the past 2-3 decades the prospects for the american underclass has got worse and worse. It's getting very close to the realisation that they have nothing, no opportunities, no chance, and never will; taking hold. Now you want them to accept even less on top of that?

I'm not sure I know where the straw that breaks the camels back in the west is, just that it exists. At a guess, I don't think its too far off where we are at the moment - the indications are that given the prompting people will reject the story they have been told about how they are supposed to react. The speed with which unrest can spread suggests tipping points are close.

Coming back to the original point, it's no good talking about electric vehicles, etc. since the 'take what you have a right to expect' meme kicks in earlier and stronger than any idea of making do with even less.

And one way or another, it remakes the world.

When thinking about the Arab spring, or the occupy movements, I think it would be helpful to read up on the history of 1848, or more precisely the period 1846-1848. This was a time which similar to today, had the lower classes in mnay countries feeling that their condition was going downhill. Many countries had protests. A few had revolutions. Mostly lasting results were not achieved. But the issues, and the discord were not unlike the current period, where the less fortunate across a large part of the world see their opportunities going south, and seek some sort of political redress.

Consider the 20 year old urban male. Not particularly educated, and not particular employed given the economic situation; but with an expectation that says he should expect all the money, cars, women, and 'respect' in the world. He's not poor, he's just waiting for his big break.

I'm not sure this is completely true. It seems to me, from way over here, that people aren't asking for a 'big break', they're asking for a fair go.
Which is probably why the Occupy movement never caught on here in Australia: Americans are protesting for what we've already got.

There is a polite lie that the Arab Spring was about democracy. It wasn't. It was young males with nothing, nothing to look forward to, and nothing to lose.

Indeed. The protests were more about unemployment, inflation, and corruption. Here is picture from an early protest in Jordan:

Of course, I think many of those countries created their own problems by following ancient mythologies that encourage them to reproduce like rabbits even when they lack the jobs to support all those people. They need to figure that one out. China's one-child policy was certainly overly-repressive . . . but it was part of a successful strategy to improve their economic situation.

False Choice.

These young, unemployed people do have something to look forward to, which is a chance to change out the Dictators and the Model of Dictatorship, and your glib painting of them as essentially ignorant brutes doesn't necessarily make them that. Yes, people get desperate and violent, but not all of them, and not always.. and looking at Syria, it's clear enough who has the most punch to pack, and has shown the unblinking will to do so.

Whether they can manage to GET a democracy will be another thing altogether, while the US, UK and Israel do what they can to end up with a government who they can 'manage' (See Haiti) as they've become accustomed to managing key global supply points and battlefields.

Many of these arab spring protestors in fact have college degrees. Many have done what they were supposed to, studied hard, went to college etc. They still can't find work. It is disrespectful to call them "not particularly educated".

done what they were supposed to, studied hard, went to college etc. They still can't find work.

That was the rap Samuel Byck was laying down. He was doing what he was s'posed to and when it didn't work out - it was another's fault.

How did that work out for him? What change happened? And most importantly, how many Sam's are out there now as the downslope happens?

Agreed, but at the same time, it's always young people that inherit the future, whatever that future may be. And that's natural and can't be changed.

I'm a 31 year old male. Not young anymore, but I've still got a life ahead of me. Let me be clear to anyone reading this: I will do anything and everything to survive as long as I possibly can.

I'd like to mention that most current raw material production is only achievable in a continous manner. For example, iron smelting. Using interruptable method will reduce production rate and disrupt supply chains.

Your explanation is too general. (But appropriate for the time we've been in, where perpetual power at a reasonable cost can pretty much be taken for granted..)

There certainly are foundry operations that are ideally operating 24/7, and it seems likely enough that if/as our economic size contracts, the volumes put out for such things, Steel, Aluminum, Glass etc.. will be smaller. Some will find their way to constant sources, like big Hydro-powered areas, Quebec, Niagara, Maine (?!) in varying degrees, while some will be forced to innovate and see where they can't develop intermittent approaches that give them more flexibility to react to energy price changes and varying orders, etc.

Adapt or die. That is the question..

Do they really need a constant power level? Or can they be ramped up down, perhaps running at some minimum power level at times of scarce electricity. Minimizing the minimum baseload demand may be important in the future.

Glass is particularly unforgiving.

If I understand it correctly, things like smelting have a time limit before you have to send the molten metal back and start again (even if it's kept hot). So yeah, there are some things that need a constant power supply. Regions that can provide this consistency (such as areas with good Hydro resources) would do well.

Cutting down your consumption doesn't have to mean chopping your own meat, that's an example of binary thinking. Jeez I have lived in a very small community and there's always a butcher shop around.

There's clearly an excess of consumption in our modern living that can be done away with without cutting back on happiness.

I agree.

Simply combining some of our (many) frivolous car trips would make a huge difference in energy consumption. Take a shorter shower -- huge difference. Start riding bike to work -- huge difference. Take one fewer plane trip every year -- huge difference.

Americans can ski down the backside of the demand/consumption slope for a long time without killing joy, and still enjoy our coffee drinks.

In fact, I think it's pretty clear that a lot of those changes will add to our quality of life.

In the end I think you wind up with something vastly different, but not necessarily better or worse.

Granted, cutting back on ff consumption will eventually not be a voluntary choice but mandatory. But they seem so naïve re: what that society will look like. Fantasies about how the alts will allow BAU to continue are often part of the pitch.

My question -- and I try to be consistent in asking it -- is not whether BAU can continue, but what level of technology can remain broadly available? Obviously transportation has to shrink and change drastically. But what about the rest of it? And will the answer vary from one region of the world to another? As many here point out often, there are really two problems -- a liquid fuels transportation problem, and an electricity problem.

The region I look at most closely (and I cheerfully admit to being parochial in my interest) is the 11 western US states that largely correspond to the Western Interconnect portion of the power grid. Using the EIA's by-state-by-source data on power generation for 2008, those states generated (hence used) far less electricity per-capita than the other two interconnect regions. They collectively generated 25% of their power from renewable sources (largely conventional hydro). They have, especially relative to the scale of their generation, a lot of good-quality undeveloped renewable resources. If they quit shipping coal east, they're sitting on enough of it to meet their own needs for at least decades if not centuries. The climate is, on average, much milder than that of the other two interconnect regions. On a large scale, the population is much more concentrated into a small number of urban/suburban centers. Large-scale agriculture tends to be concentrated, in areas where irrigation is possible. There are a variety of other mineral resources, timber, etc.

It seems to me at least feasible that such a region has the resources to support a much higher level of tech than, say, Kunstler's World Made by Hand. Integrated circuit level tech, I think.

I don't know how I missed ordering this book before but I just ordered Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse [Paperback].

Sounds like something I will really enjoy reading. From a review by Gregory:

The father of neo-liberalism and laissez-faire economics , Milton Friedman , said that " Only a crisis- real or perceived- produces real change. Our basic function is to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

I have been preaching for years that hardly anyone is ever persuaded by argument that a crisis is coming, only the event itself will convince those die-hard cornucopians that a disaster is at hand.

Ron P.

Darwinian---you are right again, I often find myself (not always) agreeing with you!

This time, I love your statement that "hardly anyone is ever persuaded by argument that a crisis is coming, only the event itself will convince those die-hard cornucopians..." My father's and mother's faces popped into my head when I read that!

Also my sister's....

I wonder why I am so different from the people in my family? Switched at birth I guess...

"Switched at birth I guess..."

...or dropped on your head shortly after ;-/

You'll find some familiar names among the authors.

Hello Ghung

It would be interesting the see the simple math behind that 40 hours for 12 years claim that that person made.



I think the TOD staff suggested closer to 11 1/3 years....and there were, of course, some assumptions required but the energy utility of a barrel of oil is undeniable.

Just get out there and watch a bulldozer or a backhoe.

Here is what I get for 40hr/week * 52 wk/yr *12 years to get 1.6MW*hr - That comes to 64W of power. Keeping a 60W light bulb lit using a generator attached to a bike I think would be pretty hard work, so maybe that's about right.

But, I think that argument is just wrong, they should compare to using horses at least - human power hasn't been the primary source for 1000's of years, we have been using beasts of burden since the dawn of civilization. And yes, maybe that is a requirement for capitalism, but certainly not oil. The world was pretty capitalistic in the 1800's, well before the age of oil.

I think that 64W was taking the entire energy content of the oil. That would be appropriate if the human was used for heat generation, but not for mechanical work. So your 64watts becomes more like 20watts. And generally the humans power output is more closely controlled so more valuable. Think of a watchmaker earning more than a guy running a jackhammer. Or a bicyclist -or a pedicab "driver" versus a taxicab. Clearly the gross system efficiency with which we use oil is pretty darn low in most instances. It was simply too cheap to worry about optimizing.

A 'fit' cyclist can keep 200 watts of electrical up for 8 hours.

The upper body wattage output is supposed to 90 or so watts.

these sorts of claims are often put out there, but they are simply not true.

A barrel of oil is defined (by the US internal Revenue Service!) as 5.8 million btu, or 6.1GJ, or 1.7MWh.

Let's look at that last unit, as it already has "hours" in it.

40hrs a week for 12 years is 24,960hrs, so the claim is that a barrel replaces 25,000man-hours. 1.7MWh divided by 24,960 is an average energy rate (power) of 68W.

BUT when using oil in an engine you don;t get all the power out of as mechanical work, you get 25-35%. And if you are using fuel to match just one worker - you need a very small engine, so the efficiency is at the very low end of this range - lets call it 25%, so our actual output is now 17W.

How much work is 17W, and how does it compare to a person?
Well, the average sustainable power output from a worker is 100W, [a href="http://www.emagazine.com/archive/5402">source]or about 6x, so we can scale back the 12 years to 2.

Then lets consider some other factors - the fossil powered machines are not always particularly efficient in applying their energy to the task.
A cyclist, on his 100W, can easily maintain 20mph on flat ground. Is there any gasoline powered scooter that can do that speed on a 100W (1/8hp) engine?

Here is a list of scooters rated by fuel economy, the best gets 60km for one litre of fuel.

That one litre contains 33MJ of energy, and if we are going 30km/h (20mph), then it takes two hours, and the energy consumption is 33MJ in two hours, or an average energy consumption of 4600W . So the scooter is using 46x the energy of the cyclist to move its rider the same distance, in the same time. Using this metric, the barrel of oil (1.7MWh) would power the scooter for all of 370 hrs.

This is two orders of magnitude less than the 25,000 hrs claimed.

If we were to run numbers about fuel used for a chainsaw compared to a manual saw, we would probably come up with a similar result. Same again for a backhoe compared to hand digging. The the 40kW backhoe (uses 160kW of fuel) is supposedly equivalent to 1600 men with shovels - who will you bet on to get more metres of pipe laid in a day?

The problem with the intitial calculation is that it is far removed from the actual ways that we use oil - there are may (avoidable and otherwise) inefficiencies in the process. The fuel powered vehicle must carry the engine and fuel in addition to the occupant, and this means a stronger frame, more weight, more aero drag etc - it is far from the idealised process.

A barrel of oil is still an amazingly versatile energy source, but the actual useful work we can get out of it is not 25,000 man hours, it is closer to 250, probably 1000 at best...

[edit -typos]

Add in the energy a human consumes during the other 16 hours/day and recalculate. I know, still a lot of variables... You could also add the energy required to maintain the human: shelter, clothing, heating the shelter, child rearing, training, downtime due to illness... You can't just park a human on the back forty and walk away.

Yes, there are many way to approach this interesting problem. Can we agree that simply the *heat* value of oil compared to the *mechanical work* output of a person is not the right way?

I am approaching it from the point of view of a person deciding if they will do the work themselves, or employ an oil powered machine to do the work for them. I think this is a good basis to start, as people make these decisions many times, every day, and this reflects the ways we actually use oil today - e..g powering vehicles.

You approach is different, but valid, in that if I am on an island, and am busy full time already, do I get an oil powered machine to do extra work, or get an extra person, and then feed and house them etc. Look at any mining camp and you get your answer on that one!

At a societal level, your approach is only applicable if deciding to use an oil machine means a person will be *eliminated* from existence, and (mostly) that is not the reality.

However, at a corporate level, your approach does hold true, but the cost of feeding and housing that now unemployed worker then fall on the rest of society - a perfect example of externalising costs.

For my calculation the most surprising result is not how much more energy is contained in the oil, but actually how little of it ends up doing useful work! The scooter example suggests that it is only 1/46th of the energy contained results in work equal to the human powered version. That is spectacularly inefficient!

The same example for the single occupant SUV 20mph (getting say 25mpg) comes out to be it uses 276 times the energy of the cyclist to go the same speed, or just 0.3% efficiency!

If we did not use our oil endowment so wastefully, we would have enough for a *very* long time...

Yes, you have some very good points but the main point of the author is likely true - it's just not possible to run civilization solely on human power. There are some things like smelting iron that just can't be done even with a whole army of people on bikes running generators. And, who would want to? But that doesn't mean that civilization is impossible without oil either - there is solar, wind, hydro, and yes even horse power which can be used instead.

Assuming 42 gallons of gas in that barrel of oil that's about 1000 miles at 25mpg. I'm guessing a horse could carry a person about 100 miles per day, maybe 50 with a carriage, so that's 10 to 20 days of work for the horse.

but the main point of the author is likely true - it's just not possible to run civilization solely on human power.

This is unquestionably true. We have used external energy since the Iron Age, and more and more ever since.

But I do think, that if he expects to be taken seriously, then he should take his own calculations seriously too, otherwise he is engaging in his own sensationalism.

Assuming 42 gallons of gas in that barrel of oil that's about 1000 miles at 25mpg. I'm guessing a horse could carry a person about 100 miles per day, maybe 50 with a carriage, so that's 10 to 20 days of work for the horse.

That is an elegant simplification of the problem. The horse can eat at the end of each day too...
But then, the car also needs a constructed road - if it is on a dirt horse path, it won't be getting anything close to 25mpg, or 60mph...

The real problem is that oil allows us to be lazy, comfortable and fast, all at the same time. It is hard to get anyone to voluntarily work harder (for no extra pay), or accept discomfort, or drive slower....

But there are many cases where we can give up wasteful uses of oil, be it from backyard lawnmowers to oversized SUV's, for little or no trade off in work, comfort or speed...

Very good points.

1 horsepower = 745.699872 watts So for 1.7MW*Hr that's 2,282 hours but if you take into account the conversion issues you mention it's maybe only 100 hours or less.

You have way under-estimated the power requirement for riding a bike through the air at 20 mph (which is a lot faster than most people realize) on flat ground with no headwind. It is closing in on 200 watts, not 100. And then you have to keep in mind that not many people can maintain 200 watts for more than, say, an hour or two.

Robert - you may well be right - I don't have detailed numbers on bike speed/power.

So let's rewind the calculation to 14.14mph - at which seed the wind resistance is then halved (square of speed) to get our 100W level.

The fuel numbers for the scooter will decrease - the 40miles takes 3 hours, so the energy flow goes from 4600 to 3000W. There may be some marginal decrease in the fuel per mile - as we are saving 100W in wind resistance, so that is a 500W fuel saving, to 2500W.

At 2.5kW, on a barrel of oil 1700kWhrs, the scooter can then run for 680 hrs instead of 370, to get the same distance as our 100W cyclist.

Now, lets compare to the original statement that the barrel of oil can replace 25,000 man hrs - the discrepancy is no longer 24,630 hrs, but 24,320 hrs.

Does that make the original statement any less inaccurate?

Did any of you guys check my link above to the TOD Europe post on this topic? This may be the source of the numbers in the essay quoted in the article.

From 2008: What is a Human Being Worth (in Terms of Energy)? ...just for fun.

Not really.

But maybe we should compare to the non-mechanically-aided human (who can't go 14 - 20 mph for very long at all), who consumes about three times the energy as the bicyclist in order to move at walking pace.

It's an interesting problem. The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation ever developed. It uses a human engine, but is very much a product of the fossil fuel industrial age.

Another point which I think you missed -- if not I apologize, lots going on here...

The human engine is roughly as inefficient as the internal combustion gas-powered engine, putting to use only 30% or so of input kilocalories.

This is always an interesting debate - man v machine - as there are so many ways of looking at it.

But let's return to the original statement;

one barrel of oil provides the equivalent labor of a man working forty hours a week for twelve years...,

This is pretty clear - oil can provide equivalent labor - which I take to mean mechanical work (force x dist) to a man.

So, firstly, we have to convert the heat value of oil to the mechanical work output - this is actually the exergy, or as I like to call it "available work" - hence my 25% calculation.

Then we compare that to what a man can actually do. The statement is not saying anything about his fuel source, and it doesn't really matter, as the statement is phrased.

We are going to take a what a man does, and replace it with an oil powered machine. To get 25,000hrs of work, the oil is consumed at 68W, and the available work is just 17W, and any man can easily exceed that. Add in a human powered machine, be it a bike or a shovel, an he can do more still. Add in his intelligence as to where to direct the shovel, or the bike, for the most result for the least effort, and he can do more still.

My real beef here is taking the heat value of a fuel to equate to the mechanical work of a person - the writers of the article should know better
than that.

There are about 1.3 million kilocalories in a barrel of earl. So roughly 325,000 kilocalories 'exergy' as you say.

A hard day's work requires about 2000 kilocalories total, to power the work and the living being who works.

By that measure, a barrel of oil provides the equivalent labor of one person working hard for about 160 days (1280 hours @ 8 hours per day).

Of course, the discussion is absurd on many levels. Oil doesn't "provide work" at all. All it does is explode.

I don't think the calorie approach is the right way either, but still, 1280 hrs is still an order of magnitude less than 25,000.

Of course, the discussion is absurd on many levels. Oil doesn't "provide work" at all. All it does is explode.
That's kinda true, same as all food does is get digested, if not by us then by mould etc.

The discussion is not really that absurd - lots of human labor has been replaced by oil - of that there is no question.
But the replacement ratio is up for debate, and it certainly ain't 1:25,000.

I still think the best way is to look at a (manual labor) job that has actually been replaced by machines, and compare the fuel used for the actual work done. some things, like a combine harvester, will replace a lot -possibly hundreds - of man hours for each gallon of fuel used.
Other things, like an engine powered log splitter are not that much faster. One person and a log splitter can split three times as much wood in a day as I can - but they have have used two gallons of fuel to do so. At one 22nd of a barrel, and 25,000 man hours, those two gallons should provide the equivalent of 1036 man hours. But it doesn't, it actually provides the equivalent of 16 man hours. (8hrs of one man+ machine+fuel=24 hrs of one man +axe, so the fuel has replaced 16hrs). That would be 352 hrs for a barrel in this real world example -just like the scooter, two orders of magnitude below what is indicated by just using the heat energy.

So I would venture that the real world replacement rate is between 100 and 5000hrs, application dependent, and average most likely around 1000. Which would mean 4% of the heat energy ends up as manual labor displaced - still a very low number.

Paul -- Although you don't agree with using calories, It's interesting that we arrive at roughly the same answer using our different methods.

I was thinking -- would it be physically possible to power a jetliner and send it across the ocean using human power? Would it be possible to power up some sort of fuel cell via pedal power that could move the plane (and passengers) into the air and across the Atlantic? How many pedalers pedaling for how long would it take to store that much energy? And how big would that battery have to be? Bigger than the plane itself?

A good human axe-swinger can do almost as well as the gasoline-powered machine. But can human power blast a jet liner into the air at all?

I guess what I'm getting at is the "real world replacement rate" may be more like 100 - infinity hours.

A hard day's work requires about 2000 kilocalories total

Incorrect. 2000 Calories is required for daily resting-state metabolism (in a temperate climate) and a little moving around. Heavy manual labour for eight hours requires another 2000 Calories. (Source: Vaclav Smil, Energy in Nature and Society.) Consider the origin of the sentence "he eats like a trencherman." Trenchermen dug the canals of England. They did not do it on 2000 Calories per day.

Of course, the discussion is absurd on many levels. Oil doesn't "provide work" at all. All it does is explode.

The explosions are used to move things, which is work. It's not absurd in the slightest to say oil provides work.

The fact that you make such a comment shows how utterly dependent we have become on external energy sources to do mechanical work for us, and how blind we have become to the effort expended at our command.

"The explosions are used to move things, which is work."

I'm trying to have a semi-philosophical moment and you rain on my parade.

You can have all the oil you want, if you can't produce a working motor to explode it in (as well as the system of levers, gears and chains to impart movement), no work. That's what I meant. Oil isn't the only thing people are taking for granted around here.

2000 Calories is required for daily resting-state metabolism (in a temperate climate) and a little moving around. Heavy manual labour for eight hours requires another 2000 Calories.

As someone who has worked hard manual labor all my life (including ditch-digging), I respectfully call BS on 4000 calories required per day. I have the Smil book. He says that a vigorous lifestyle requires about 50% more energy per day than a sedentary lifestyle, not twice as much. (He uses MJ instead of calories.)

Of course it depends a great deal on the specific activity and the specific size of the individual, as well as metabolism. But 4000 per day is quite a bit for a normal sized person doing typical manual labor. They will gain weight.

Tour de France riders on the other hand, climbing 10 - 20,000 feet per day at race speed, getting up the next day and doing it again, and again and again... consume biblical amounts of kilocalories during the race, much more than 4,000/day, and lose weight anyway.

Food in Antarctica

Two things were found out very early on in Antarctic exploration - that extreme cold makes people feel very hungry and hard work such as that involved in travelling by dog sledge, or especially by manhauling uses a great deal of energy. This energy had to be replaced by eating enough, unfortunately the early explorers didn't eat enough and suffered as a consequence.

We now know:

  • Manhauling sledges uses per day - 6500 calories (27.3 MJ)
  • Travelling by dog sledge uses per day - 5000 calories (21.0 MJ)
  • Travelling by skidoo uses per day - 3350 calories (14.07 MJ)
  • Working mainly inside station buildings in Antarctica uses per day - 2750 calories (11.55 MJ)

Calories per day calculator
How many calories your body needs per day

I remember as a child reading in the Guinness book of world records that the highest sustained average calorie consumption was by bargees (working as canal towpower) and was 6-8000 calories per day when working. I was an odd child.

Tour de France riders average about 6000-ish per day during the race with spikes into the 8000 range. It's pretty much impossible to eat enough to make up for that.

If you have to manhaul sledges in Antarctica for very long, you will start getting hungrier and hungrier, and after a few weeks you actually will be eating 6,500 calories per day. Your body adapts to the increased calorie demand.

I've been on week-long backcountry ski lodge trips, where you do ski ascents of mountains every day, and toward the end of the week you get hungrier and hungrier. It's unbelievable the amount of food you can eat, or how hungry you get if you don't eat enough. You have to plan for about 5,000 calories per day.

I had a boss once who had once been on a surveying crew in the mountains where they walked an average of 50 miles per day. After a few months of this, four of them went into a restaurant that offered a 32-ounce steak on a "if you can eat it, you can have it free" basis. All four of them ordered the 32-ounce steak, ate it, and then ordered desert. Shortly after that the restaurant dropped the free steak special.

Fun fact:

A human puts out 150 watts of heat just goofing around. Ten of them make a very nice 1500 Watt room heater.


True. But, if you redesigned the bike. Put an aerodynamic fareing on a recumbenet, I bet you could get it down to the 100watt range. Use a tandem or triple bike, which has less air resistance per capita. Go slower, 14mph is half the energy cost per unit distance, maybe 35% the power requirement. Heck an aerodynamically designed velomobile, with photvoltaic electric assist, could probably easily exceed 20mph without pedalling.

Sure, but could it turn or go up steep hills. Not very well. That's the problem with recumbents in general. The traditional bike design allows for turning on a dime and for standing on the pedals; without either of these the bike becomes severely limited in real-world applications (as opposed to velodromes, salt flats and wide-open highways). But the upright bike could benefit hugely from a fairing, too. This hasn't happened yet, primarily due to style I think.

A fairing on an upright bike would become a *real* problem in a crosswind...

We are OT about human v machine power here, but the bike v velomobile argument is an interesting one, good article about that here;
The velomobile:high tech bike or low tech car?

The velomobile (3 wheel) seems an ideal candidate for the electric assist (to overcome the hill problem) and it is then a real candidate as an (almost) all weather commuting vehicle.

I do think there is a reason why the velomobile industry is based in the flat realm of The Netherlands though...

The world speed record for a faired recumbent is over 80mph (at a relatively high altitude).

A mate of mine, reasonably fit 50 yo, can sustain 40mph for an hour in a velomobile. (faired recumbent tricycle).

The main problem with velomobiles is ventilation/condensation when they are enclosed against the weather. Cross wind can be tricky. You can buy them with electric assist, at a price.

And of course any sort of significant curb or pothole, or sharp turn, will cause major problems for the "velomobile" and driver.

These things are awesome for speed records but not awesome for moving through city traffic.

Just get a regular bike. Not much to improve upon there.

A fairing on an upright bike would become a *real* problem in a crosswind...

Very possible. I was thinking of a mini-fairing like those that used to come on 60s "cafe racers."

In a recent interview with the great Graeme Obree he claimed that a mountain bike with a small fairing would be more efficient than the fanciest road racing bike. He is probably correct. Air resistance is a huge factor in bicycling. Obree has that subject pretty much wired.

Still, you want to preserve the brilliant handling characteristics of the traditional upright bicycle, despite the air resistance penalty. There is a long list of reasons why this is so, which would become painfully obvious the moment you tried to ride your fully faired recumbent in a populated area.

$100 a barrel oil or $2.50 gasoline would make the value of brute human physical labor something like .10 to .40 an hour.

Seems we don't know what we've got til it's gone. Humans ;-)

Small nit. My cycling experience with resistance trainers and this calculator say the values they used for output were a bit light.


Fun to play with anyway. With 150 lb. rider it yields right at 150 watts @ 20 mph with no headwind, flat ground ,the best gear and aerobars. 250 or 300 watts to push an upright commuter that hard depending. IMHO this calc is pretty close.

Setting up a scooter to run like a triathlon bike would get the km. per l. up considerably and be more like that 150 watt rider comparison.

A cyclist, on his 100W, can easily maintain 20mph on flat ground.

I had a 400 watt hub motor and it never got to 20 on flat land. 35 on a slight downhill and me peddling.

But never flat land.

Is there any gasoline powered scooter that can do that speed on a 100W (1/8hp) engine?

Plenty of electrics.

The whole concept of ergamines (energy slaves) is kind of difficult to pin down; even the Wikipedia article on it notes that.

However, it was Buckminster Fuller who invented the term "energy slave," and his work was very practical. He actually put army conscripts to work, measured it, and compared it to what could be done by machines. For example, how many men would it take to move as much dirt as a bulldozer?

Human legs can do more work than human arms, but as noted elsewhere in this thread, work that can be done by human legs is usually better done by horses, so it was things like digging ditches he measured.

The more extreme of the estimates of the number of ergamines we all have include transportation, which probably isn't reasonable. Even before the internal combustion engine, people used horses, not litter-carriers.

First let's define Capitalism properly. The definition is too convoluted right now, if it means free trade, it has existed for thousands of years, if it means factories, machines, large scale concentration of manufacturing equipments and intensive capital then it's fairly new and requires lots of FF.

That's probably going to be a little like defining 'morality', 'work', or 'existence'. Good luck agreeing how to do it 'properly.' Have a nice time in philosophy class.

It actually deals with ownership of the means of production, where user valve is less that exchange value, and a profit is extracted through labor.
It arose in the Italian City States in the 15th Century.
It needs to grow, or die, which makes it quite precarious in a energy restricted world.
It has less to do with markets, and more to do with a strong State to enforce its rules, and has never existed without a strong central State.

Thanks. That's one of the several concise definitions. I've also come across instances in history where the same thing was practiced in small scale in other places but wasn't called such.

Some say it also involves setting up of a stock exchange and trade in the intangibles like the supposed value of a business.

We are way past due for a new paradigm.

We have had the use of fossil fuel to produce a vast store of knowledge, if that is lost then the age of cheap energy will really have been a waste. A new and beneficial paradigm might eventually be fostered maybe with a little aid from a time capsule containing that knowledge.

As far as any immediate new paradigm I do not think I wish to go there! :-(

We are way past due for a new paradigm.

I'm exploring this paradigm at the moment...


I'm exploring this paradigm at the moment...

Very interesting but be careful you don't end up as just another slackjawed western tourist holding some bannanas.

Fred is formerly from Brazil, and from the pics, it sure seems to beat South Florida.

Thinking about going home, Fred? Yeah, I know, home is where you park your kayak.

Thinking about going home, Fred?

I almost wish I didn't have to! I'll be home in Florida soon enough.

Don't worry, I ain't no tourist I'm in my home state of Sao Paulo and these places are off the beaten path near Ubatauba... This place is a somewhat different paradigm from what most Westerners will ever see. BTW the reason I'm down here is because my mother lives in Sao Paulo and it is her 80th birthday and I haven't been to Brazil in a few years.


What part/area of Brazil?

About halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo on the Rio Santos Highway near Ubatuba...

Brings back memories.


Looks really fine!

Ooooo! Brad Pitt has an opinion on oil consumption. Maybe all the researchers who published all those reports for the past couple of decades were onto something.

We've had these discussions before. Bottom line: Far, far more folks listen to Brad Pitt than listen to "all the researchers who published all those reports"... Sad, but true.

Yeah.. irony of ironies.. what started as;

"Waaah, why won't anyone listen to us!?"

turns into,

"Waaah!, Those superstars who are spreading our message over mainstream channels are such hypocrites!"

(Sorry, Bryantheresa, but I think it has to be said..)

It kind of takes me back to the 'implants' tee shirt.

"Wow, these implants are perfect! Now if I can just get the creeps to stop leering at me and making rude comments!"

I have no problem with Brad Pitt saying it; I just wonder why his opinion has any more pull than, say all the Nobel laureates saying it last year.

"Mr President, have you seen this Limits to Growth book? It's pretty scary, we have to do something".
"No, Advisor, I think we have to wait a few decades for an actor to tell us."

"Mr. President, do you see what's happening to your Great Society? It's pretty scary, we have to do something".
"No, Advisor, I think we have to wait a couple of decades for an actor to tell us, 'It's morning in America'. Then we'll be truly screwed!"

"I just wonder why his opinion has any more pull than, say all the Nobel laureates saying it last year. "

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?

If a tree falls in the forest and there are 5 people there watching it fall and they stick there fingers in their ears, does it make a sound? Of course not: sound is the response of air pressure on the ear drum which is transmitted to the brain. But their eyes recorded the same event and they do know the dang tree fell...all the while truthfully testifying they didn't hear a thing.

Wow! That could be a eally powerful statemnt about the current situation. But I not sure what it really means. LOL.

I'm of the opinion that the tree falling in the forest *does* make a sound. If it generates sound waves, it makes a sound. Whether there is a receiver to pick up the sound waves or not is irrelevant.

After all, the sun still shines (produces light waves) if we all have our eyes closed, doesn't it ?

After all, the sun still shines (produces light waves) if we all have our eyes closed, doesn't it ?

There are some quantum mechanical issues with that statement. It's only a probability that the sun is shinning until it's observed.

If the observer goes blind from too much "observing" of the sun, is it still there?

You are forgetting the paired photon experiments:

The photon may change position upon being observed, but there is still a photon, observed or not.

We send radio communications into space to see if anyone is out there. Are they still radio communications if no-one answers ?

What if only primitives use single-frequency electromagnetics whereas spread-spectrum scalar waves in the local fine structure constant are far more common among the established civilizations?

When I sit down and watch a recorded football game - the game presumably is long over but I'm only assuming that it is because I've avoided knowing the outcome - is there an infinitesimal chance that my observation of the football game transcends time/space and affects the outcome? How about if I already know the outcome, but watch the game anyway?

Angels ... pinhead.


The tree may make pressure waves and create vibrations but is that sound if it has not been heard?


Different strokes for different folks. Some people like to hear it from their favorite celebrities.

Or only read People and watch TMZ, so will ONLY hear it from the celeb.

Because WE are not a mainstream audience, Bryan. We have already been convinced by the sources you'd prefer.. but much of the culture (by definition, I guess) IS, and they simply won't be ready for an idea until it's made 'normal', by the advocacy of what they consider a Normal star. Take your pick who that would be for various demographics.

Naturally, O'riled and those dudes will simply say it's more 'Liberal Hollywood' blather, but for 'Center-left-mainstream' or whatever, this puts it farther into view and in terms that they will gradually take in. (or not..)

Besides, 'experts' are a bit alien to a lot of people, who will want a 'second opinion' from someone a little less aloof-seeming than academics and specialists.. etc.

My take, anyhow..


I agree with jokuhl. Unfortunately few have the patience, and the chops to learn from quality peer reviewed publications. I have a bokk, with the somewhat embarassing title "Don't be such a scientist!". The author Randy Olson, was a scientist who became an actor. There is a huge difference between winning a scientific debate, and a popular debate. In the former faulty logic, or bad data will lead to defeat. In the later, likability and humour can more than cover up for bad logic and faulty data. Unless we can re-educate the public to evaluate issues like an analytic expert, we are stuck with the epistemologcally inferior popular methods.

Like my brother's relationship line,
"You never said you couldn't communicate!"

I'm reading a booklet on programming and making Arduino Microprocessor Circuits, and the author has made very clear efforts to NOT talk like an engineer, since all sorts of NON-EE's are working with these things now.

"I have no problem with Brad Pitt saying it; I just wonder why his opinion has any more pull than, say all the Nobel laureates saying it last year."

We've replaced the deities with stars. Note that both can occupy the heavens.

Brad Pit is a god. The laureates are boffins.

Brad Pitt established a record of putting his money where his mouth is with his efforts to help the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Re: U.K.’s Climate Plan May Risk Heating-Cost Surge in Cold Snaps

If anyone wants to read a more detailed analysis of the heating of homes in the UK, then this report covers a lot of the issues involved and in much more detail.

Options for heating homes in a low-carbon economy.



Nice Reference, thanks for posting.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the link to this document; much appreciated.

This report references the results of a recent Energy Saving Trust assessment of seventy-five ground and air source heat pumps. The first thing worth noting is that the performance of the ground source systems in question was only marginally better than that of their air source counterparts, i.e., an average seasonal COP of 2.3 versus 2.2. Thus, if a home fitted with a GSHP were to consume 3,000 kWh per annum, say, this same home equipped with an air source unit might require an additional 130 to 140 kWh per year to do its job. Hence, my long standing assertion that with few exceptions the added cost and complications of installing and maintaining a GSHP hardly seem worthwhile.

As I understand it, and this report sees to bear this out, the relatively poor performance of these systems can be attributed to either improper installation or the home owner's poor understanding of how to operate their system. Whilst these results are obviously disappointing, it shows us where we need to focus more attention and reaffirms that there's nothing inherently wrong with the technology... just the execution.

I closely monitor the operation of our two ductless heat pumps and our seasonal COP for the period spanning October 1st through to today stands at 2.65, i.e., an estimated 5,512 kWh of heat supplied versus the 2,082 kWh of electricity consumed. The average hourly temperature during this time is 1.4°C. Yesterday, for example, our average temperature was -10°C (a high of -7°C and a low of -12°C) so as you would expect this number has been slowly drifting downward, but as we move into March and April it should ultimately end up the season closer to 2.8 or 2.9 (and a Fujitsu 12RLS which is a more energy efficient model would theoretically get us to about 3.5).

I suspect that the air-to-water systems commonly used in the UK take a bit of a hit because the supply temperature has to be boosted higher to work properly with the home's radiator system whereas the heat supplied by an air-to-air system can be served several degrees lower without adversely impacting occupant comfort, i.e., 50 to 60°C for a wet system, say, versus perhaps 40 to 45°C for air.

Lastly, the heat rate of a modern combined cycle gas turbine is now in the range of 5,700 BTU per kWh and if we allow 7 per cent for T&D losses we're looking at perhaps a little over 6,100 BTU, net. If you were to burn these same 6,100 BTU in a condensing gas boiler with an AFUE of 92 per cent, delivered heat would be approximately 5,600 BTU. So, in effect, so long as our heat pump's seasonal COP remains above 1.65 we're all to the good, and in practically terms we should hit well above that number.


How are you estimating heating BTUs delivered? It would seem to me to be nontrivial. I'm not sure how accurate an empirical fit (consumption versus outside temp) would be. It probably depends quite a bit on other things, clear versus cloudy (clear being worse due to radiational cooling of walls and roofs), windy versus calm.....

Hi EoS,

It's a fair question and I should make clear that these are my "best estimates" based on what will be ten years of consumption data, our first three seasons heating exclusively with oil.

As a starting point, in years one, two and three, we used a total of 2,082, 1,964 and 1,973 litres of fuel oil for space heating and DHW purposes. Our boiler has a rated AFUE of 82 per cent and so we theoretically net 8.77 kWh(e) of heat from each litre consumed (for simplicity sake, I like to use kWh as my standard unit of measure). Based on the amount of oil consumed over the off-season, I estimate our DHW portion to be an average of 1.8 litres per day or approximately 660 litres a year.

I log our hourly temperatures in a spreadsheet and the monthly averages for the first nine seasons are summarized below:

I estimate our home's average heat loss to be 0.175 kW per °C whenever temperatures fall below 13°C; above 13°C, passive solar and other internal heat gains are generally sufficient to keep us at a comfortable temperature. Again, I want to emphasize that this is a seasonal average and so wind and variations in solar insolation will skew things at any one point in time, but if we accept this number and our 13°C demand point, our home's space heating demands (in kWh) are as follows:

Now, if I divide these seasonal totals by 8.77, i.e., the number of kWh of delivered heat per litre, our space heating demand in these first three seasons comes to 1,407, 1,315 and 1,312 litres respectively. The balance of 675, 649 and 661 litres is what's left over for the production of DHW, and that seems to more or less jive with what I would expect based on our off-season average of 1.8 litres per day.

Using manufacturer supplied data, I know the rated heat output of our two units over their entire operating range and with the power monitors I also know their power consumption at these temperature points. All of this gets plugged into this same spreadsheet on a daily basis. Using our oil consumption during these initial years, I know roughly what our home's heat loss should be and I know precisely how much electricity each unit consumes, and over the course of the heating season the final numbers seem to balance out.

With our original Friedrich, a non-inverter model, it was pretty easy to calculate its performance because it's power consumption was more or less flat over a broad range of temperatures (it did fall off gradually as it got progressively colder) and I could calculate its heat output at various temperature points based on the manufacturer's tables and adjust the numbers to reflect defrost overhead. With the Sanyos it's not as straight forward because their power draw is so variable, but the seasonal COP based on my calculations falls squarely in line with their rated HSPF.

So, basically, the only truly accurate number that I can provide is the number of kWh used, which at this moment stands at 2,082. Estimated heat output is my "best guess" based on our historical space heating requirements over these past nine seasons.

I hope this makes sense as I've explained it, but if I can expand or clarify on any of this, please don't hesitate to ask.


Pretty good answer. Averaging over a lot of data should minimize the effects of wind,sun... Of course the the insulative quality of your dwelling is changing?

I'd can't say there's been a whole lot of improvement in this regard because we tackled most of what had to be done prior to the start of the first heating season. There have been various tweaks and refinements along the way, but I also nudged the thermostat higher after I started on my high blood medication back in '05/'06 (before this, I was quite comfortable at 15°C whereas now I find 20 to 21°C more to my liking). I guess if anything, with this new, higher set point I'm underestimating our home's heat loss.

In any event, I peg today's space heating demand at 95.6 kWh and our combined energy input comes in at 48.2 kWh, so with an ambient air temperature of -9.8°C our estimated COP over these past twenty-four hours is 1.98.

BTW, even at 13.336-cents per kWh and a rather anaemic COP of 1.98, my heating costs are the equivalent of fuel oil priced at 59-cents a litre; that's about half of what I would expect to pay Scotia Fuels if I were to top up my tank at today's prices.


I did take data to try to estimate my AC needs. Things were messier, as AC isn't the only variable use of electricity. And the amount of insolation, which varies with the season is a bit of an unknown. Then I didn't wait to get a whole years data before I started adding attic foil, and insulation. Also the growth of trees, and vines which provide some shade for the house. So I still have the AC demand only poorly understood.

How well does your computed COP versus temp, compare to the manufacturers data sheets?

Manufacturers such as York provide input and output ratings for their commercial units, but these are conventional, single-speed systems and I suspect this sort of data cannot be accurately determined for inverter-drive units because they continuously adjust compressor speed in response to changes in load. The Sanyo service manual supplies us with rated heat output only, so I'm afraid I can't make a direct comparison.

Again, this wasn't a problem with our old Friedrich because being a single speed model I could match the heat output tables to my own power readings at various temperature points and plot this data on a curve. Our replacement Sanyo has a HSPF of 9.3 versus the old guy at 7.2 so, on average, I can expect 30 per cent more heat from each kWh consumed. The best I can do for now is to reuse the original Friedrich numbers and to adjust by a factor of 1.3.

One other thing... a HSPF of 9.3 translates to be a seasonal COP of 2.73. Our heating season generally drags on to the end of May -- hugging the coast as we do, we experience long, glorious if somewhat coolish falls, accompanied by equally long, cold, and for the most part miserable springs. Just about the ideal scenario with respect to heat pump performance. When you take into account our our extended heating season at the shoulders, I've found our seasonal COP to be about 5 per cent higher than what the manufacturer's HSPF ratings might suggest.


I wonder if spring sucks everywhere? Everywhere I've lived at least. In the north woods it was mud season. In the high mountains, decaying snowpack can make travel difficult. In New Mexico it was wind season, as the restarting of atmospheric convection drags the jetstream momentum down to the surface. Here in California, there seem to be lots of clouds, and just enough surprise rainsqualls to get you wet, but not enough to do any good.

When I lived in Toronto it seemed that we went from winter to summer; there was hardly any spring to speak of. Not so in Atlantic Canada where it's not uncommon to still have the heat on come June.

I just checked Environment Canada's "climate normals" to see if I was simply imagining this, but the data backs this up.

Average Monthly Temperature

                 March   April    May      June
    Halifax     -1.4°C   4.0°C    9.8°C   15.0°C
    Toronto     -0.4°C   6.3°C   12.9°C   17.8°C

Heating Degree Days °C

                 March   April    May      June
    Halifax       604     421     256       102
    Toronto       572     353     172        49
                   32      68      84        53

Thus, there appear to be roughly 237 additional heating degree days tacked on to the latter part of our heating season (427 degrees F).


The UK has a well distributed natural gas system so a great deal of existing heating is by gas, one way or another. A move from gas to electricity, even via heat pumps, would throw an awful lot of extra load on the grid that it may well have problems dealing with.


100 years ago a lot of people lived in the UK with very much less heating and very much less well insulated houses. In the future we will have a lot less heating but better insulation. We will learn to live with being cold again.

We have grown soft.

(he says, sitting snug in front of his wood burning stove..)

True but they also died because of that.


Options for heating homes in a low-carbon economy.

Reading the document, it appears to me that the British are very much behind the state of the art in the business of building energy-efficient homes. The options they discuss have already been very thoroughly evaluated in other countries - the British just need to read the available literature.

In Canada, we are quite good at building energy efficient houses because we know it gets very, very cold here in winter. We know how to deal with it and how to build a house that is very cozy no matter how cold it gets. British houses are not very comfortable in winter (or even in summer).

However, the policy objectives are:

• Almost complete decarbonisation of the electricity supply network by 2030
• A quarter of domestic heating should be provided by heat pumps fed from renewable energy
• Energy security – keeping the lights on.
• Minimising cost (to consumers and the Treasury).
• Import avoidance.
• Alleviating fuel poverty.
• Healthier indoor environments.
• Minimising pollution and environmental degradation.
• Continuing to work in a market environment.
• Draft EU Energy Efficiency Plan 2011.

This should be qualified to say, No more than five to be attempted by any candidate. Many of these objectives are mutually incompatible. Any solution designed to meet all of them at once is just not going to work.

A better approach is to prioritize the objectives, assign them a point value, and then pick the solutions with the highest point score. This may not work, either, but at least it has a better chance of not being a total failure.

If this document shows their quality of decision making, then I think there might be even less chance for the British to work their way out of their energy mess than I thought.

I have been providing analysis to my customer for years on what many would consider to be arcane technical and policy issues.

My single biggest stone which I must continually roll up the hill, only to have it roll back down again, is my quest to get these decision-makers to understand that they cannot have everything they want...that they /must/ prioritize their wants, and that they almost always are better off going with the 60-70% solution rather than try to 'hit the grand slam' and end up failing miserably.

Now this is in a specialized, closed field where everyone should be an expert...the wild west of public energy policy is an orders of magnitude worse set of cats to herd for decision analysis...I have serious doubts that most individual countries, let alone the entire set of countries in the World, can craft and execute a logical energy policy.

Rather than picking some, and giving up on the others, you can assign some numerical metric of goodness to each one. Then give every one of them a weighting factor. You then maximize the overall goodness metric. This avoids an all-of-number three, none of number-four solution. I.e. meeting 10% of one goal, at the expense of 1% of another might be a good tradeoff, but simply zeroing out the bottom five woulkd disallow such a tradeoff.

your concepts are fundamental to performing credible decision analysis...but the devil is in the details.

Not to write a treatise, but...

[DISCLAIMER: my word following are a great simplification of the but one Decision Analysis 'method']

First...what is the question?

Ask this at least five times....do we3 want to drill to the root cause(s), or keep the analysis top-level?

What are the assumptions and constraints, including the most important ones...the political ones. Let me go for the kill here: I tell all the new young analysts who pass through that they better darn well know what the study sponsor(s) have in mind as their 'per-conceived' 'answer(s)'...and they better be prepared with a game-plan on how to conduct as honest of an analysis as possible and still keep their jobs...

Back to the mechanics...the group needs to decide upon the attributes (things that are measured) in order to reach the goal(s)...they also need to write down exactly what these attributes 'mean', and determine their metrics (the common/agreed-upon method/units of measurement).

Many times the process of assigning 'values' (worth to the decision-maker(s)) to the metrics of the attributes is used, in order to compare and mathematically manipulate the 'score's for different attributes...a way of comparing apples to kilowatt-hours to person-hrs etc... agreeing upon the proper return-to-scale 'value functions for each attribute is usually contentious...

and then we need to assign weights to each attribute 'value'...and this assignment of weights can be like having teeth pulled...

Then the group can compose Course of Action (COAs) in which different assumptions are made resulting in the raw attribute scores, hence their 1-10 values, and weighted values, being combined into composite COA scores, which can be compared...

This theory all sounds wonderful, until you realize through experience that decision makers, when presented with various 'value' and 'weighting' 'knobs', and when presented with COAs which score differently than they expect/want, then proceed to delete, add, and change attributes, change values, and money with weights until they get the per-conceived COA of their choice scoring highest...or else they just accept the study director's results, and pigeonhole the results, and proceed to do whatever they want!

Note: I am continually fascinated about how high-ranking important, smart folks can be fooled (by themselves) into believing anything put in front of them with PowerPoint involving charts and graphs with numbers...especially when the numbers are the attempt to 'quantify' things that are largely inherently subjective, and dress them up with the robes of mathematical transformations...the smarter folks demand a VV&A of the process or model used, but then most of them don't have the time to read the VV&A report...and even better, a lot of times the folks V&V ing the process are the ones who conducted the analysis...completely academically incestuous!

If you get the sense that I have facilitated some of these rodeos, find the work fascinating, and also am now a realist about these things, you would be correct!

Reminds me of a post by Brad DeLong, who was a Whitehouse economics consultant for Clinton. The technical consultants would be fighting internal wars for technically correct/better policies, against political consultants, pressure groups, and often the president. The attitude entering the building in the morning seemed to be "Today is a good day to be fired!".

RMG, I agree that the state of energy efficiency in UK houses is pretty poor. I guess because the housing stock is relatively old (where I live about 40-45% of the houses were built pre-1914), because the winters are mild in comparison with Canada, because we have had a lot of cheap fossil fuel in coal and gas, and because we have gone for the cheap option of reducing capital cost of the building and transferring the cost to a recurrent one and that is now coming to bite us.

To be fair to the Royal Academy of Engineering, who produced this report and to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, who have produced similar type of reports, both have tried over the years to produce a reality check for the policy makers. Regrettably, this has been, and continues to be, unwelcome to many.

I don't know the situation in Canada, but over here the economists are seen and heard everywhere in the media regardless of their track record for predictions!


Mikel, I think the UK has gotten by with rather energy-inefficient housing because it has a relatively mild, temperate climate. If the house was energy-inefficient, the only downside was that they were very uncomfortable if the weather was cold (or hot). I think that describes a lot of British housing.

Here in Canada, when the weather gets cold, it gets very, very cold (e.g. -40°C or F), so it becomes more of a survival issue rather than one of comfort. Historically, people just put in central heating systems with huge furnaces, but they have discovered that it is cheaper and more comfortable to put huge amounts of insulation into the house and seal it against all weather leaks. The result is that they can put in a much smaller furnace (they still need central heating), which results in lower energy consumption, low fuel costs, and improved winter comfort.

The economists have had more or less nothing to do with it. It's all about personal choices.

It helps that most of the housing is relatively new because Canada is a relatively young country. Another advantage is that most Canadians have few preconceptions about how houses should be built, so builders have carte blanche to try out new ideas whenever they want. If it works well, they sell more houses.

Another advantage is that most Canadians have few preconceptions about how houses should be built, so builders have carte blanche to try out new ideas whenever they want.

That would be a huge advantage over Britain, which is saddled with an abundance of historical old rubbish that, despite being utterly dysfunctional, attracts nostalgic, draconian "planning restrictions" designed to preserve the quaint appearance of bygone times no matter the cost. It's not unlike the rampant NIMBYism in the USA, but it's far worse.

BTW one irony is that an old house with newer additions that have proven dysfunctional or even disfiguring often cannot legally be restored to its original appearance by removing them. Instead, it must remain forever embalmed precisely as it was when the restrictions went into effect, down to the last ugly 1950s tile, unless one has quasi-infinite time and money to deal with the "planning" board. As always, rampant, unfettered bureaucracy cultivates a pigheadedness that knows no bounds.

Generally speaking, there aren't many restrictions on renovating houses in Canada, particularly as far as superinsulating them goes. It's quite normal to rip the walls apart and put more insulation in, sometimes almost completely rebuilding them.

The Planning Board is unlikely to object if the final effort is better looking than the original. We give them all kinds of bylaw and zoning variances if they came up with something that is really nice looking and practical compared to the original. Sometimes the final result looks nothing whatsoever like the original.

I'm speaking as someone who has been on the local Planning Board and granted a lot of variances in my day.

This may be old news for many people, regarding pesticides called neonicotinoids and bees, but I thought this was interesting:

Bee Very Afraid

While much has been made over the "mystery" surrounding honeybee "Colony Collapse Disorder" (or CCD), the problem began shortly after neurotoxic pesticides took over the global insecticide market. These relatively new pesticides are called neonicotinoids. Two prominent examples, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, are used as seed treatments in hundreds of crops.

Virtually all of today's genetically engineered Bt corn is treated with neonicotinoids. A Purdue University study found multiple sources of pesticide exposure for honeybees living near agricultural fields, including high levels of Clothianidin in the soil of unplanted fields near those planted with Bt corn and on dandelions growing in those fields. The chemicals were also found in dead bees near hive entrances and in pollen stored in the hives.

Bee colonies began disappearing in the U.S. shortly after EPA allowed these new, toxic insecticides to be used. Even the EPA itself admits that "pesticide poisoning" is a likely cause of the collapse of bee colonies.

Bee colonies began disappearing in the U.S. shortly after EPA allowed these new, toxic insecticides to be used.

Wonder how the Monsanto lobby will respond to this?

"They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way!" - Sean Connery, in The Untouchables

The little buggers were always out to get us?


The Monsanto response has been to acquire a company called "Beelogics".

"Beeologics LLC is an international firm dedicated to restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination. While its primary goal is to control the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) infection crises, Beeologics' mission is to become the guardian of bee health worldwide. Through continuous research, scientific innovation, and a focus on applicable solutions, Beeologics is developing a line of RNAi-based products to specifically address the long-term well being of the bees."


In other words, they are looking for more chemical solutions, because they can make more money selling chemicals than stopping using them.

They would dearly love to present the problem as an infection that can be treated with drugs, rather than a result of pesticide use.

And in a top secret lab in the basement, they are deploying USAF drone logic to develop itsy-bitsy little robot bees to pollinate ONLY THEIR patented plants when the bees ARE gone. (Always be ready to turn a disaster into an opportunity to increase market share and profits.)

It is illogical that they can poison the bees and save them at the same time, isn't it?

They'll increase their Propaganda budget.

These days for every $1 of research (a 50/50 split with conventional and GMO) they spend about $1 trying to tell you how wonderful their products are and how the other products suck.

Around this area, the growing of Christmas trees is popular. The growers must use pesticides to control the insects which tend to attack the trees, as with any monoculture. HERE's a LOOK at the pesticides used by the growers. Toxicology data for one of the most popular pesticides (as of 2006), Di-Syston 15 G tells us that:

Ecological Effects:

* Effects on birds: Disulfoton is moderately toxic to birds. The 5-day acute dietary LC50 for disulfoton is 692 ppm in mallard ducks, and 544 ppm in quail [13].
* Effects on aquatic organisms: Disulfoton-containing products are highly toxic to cold and warm fish, crab, and shrimp [8]. The LC50 values for the compound are 0.038 mg/L in bluegill sunfish, 0.25 mg/L in guppies, 1.85 mg/L in rainbow trout, and 6.5 mg/L in goldfish [13]. The bioconcentration factor of 460 indicates that there is a low to moderate potential for this compound to concentrate in living organisms [60].
* Effects on other organisms: Use of disulfoton on certain crops may pose a risk to some aquatic and terrestrial endangered species [60]. Disulfoton is toxic to bees...(emphasis added)

It's hardly surprising that the local bee populations have not done well of late...

E. Swanson

As far as I understood the effects of these products is well known which are derived from nicoteen They have been baned already in Europe but that the European manufacturers still export to the US. I need to double check.

Director of U.S. Geological Survey to speak on fossil fuel resources

Dr. Marcia McNutt to deliver Tudor Commemorative Lecture on "U.S. Energy Outlook: Whatever Happened to 'Peak Oil,'":

Not long ago, the public heard much concern that the nation and the globe had reached or was about to reach the point of peak oil production and would be on a downward trajectory due to declining resources. Despite growing demand for energy, however, fossil fuel resources have never been higher. But given difficulties in developing the resources, the USGS also supports wind and solar energy development to help reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuel.

Despite growing demand for energy, however, fossil fuel resources have never been higher.

US reserves of crude oil peaked around 40 years ago, and the US currently has only about half as much oil reserves as it had back then. Meanwhile, consumption has become considerably greater.

However, the USGS has always been relentlessly overoptimistic about the US oil supply situation, and it appears that the new Director is not going to change anything. There's no point in worrying because the Titanic is unsinkable.

Do you have a reference to the USGS saying anything about oil supply?

I can't believe you are serious in asking that question, but just in case;

U.S. Geological Survey 2002 Petroleum Resource Assessment of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA)

From the second paragraph;

In keeping with the USGS responsibility for assessing the petroleum potential of all onshore areas and State water areas of the United States, the total area considered in this assessment was extended offshore to the boundary between State and Federal jurisdiction...

For a recent arrival here (on TOD) who seems to be a real champion for the oil industry, I have a hard time believing you did not know this already.

Perhaps you can look again, and point out the part where the USGS calculates anything related to supply, rather than resource quantification? Thank you in advance.

That is the EIA, not the USGS. The EIA does supply forecasts like every year. But they certainly aren't the USGS.

They use the USGS estimates, though.

The USGS has said a lot about oil supply. Perhaps most famously, they disagreed with Hubbert's prediction of peak oil USA. And were proved wrong.

Interestingly, the USGS has not published an update on their 2000 report. Usually they issue a new report every four years or so.

There were some researchers within the USGS who thought estimates were way optimistic, and published their own paper arguing peak oil was imminent. Supposedly, the official reports were very much politically driven.

Yes and one such USGS publication can be found here: Are We Running Out of Oil?

Ron P.

An interesting USGS publication for sure. Check out the dramatic first figure. And then check out the source, referenced in the bottom right hand corner. Is it fair to consider it a USGS supply estimate when it comes from someone else?

Bruce, no one said it was the official supply estimate of the USGS. It is the work of Lester Magoon who works for the USGS.

You can order the poster here: Are We Running Out of Oil?

Ron P.

It isn't the official supply estimate of the USGS, that I understand. In part, because I don't think such a thing even exists. Which is why I asked the question in the first place. These urban myths of peak oil can be a bitch to verify or refute. And Les Magoon retired from the USGS some time ago, he now hangs out at Stanford.


These urban myths of peak oil can be a bitch to verify or refute.

According to JODI the peak occurred in 2006 and according to the EIA the plateau began in 2005. Also net oil exports peaked in 2005. Terminal decline in net oil exports began in 2006.

100$ oil has brought out every drilling rig available. Old fields are being drilled again and again and every ounce of oil is being sucked off the top of those old fields. New fields are coming on line at a rate of one barrel for every four barrels produced.

Now that is some kind of urban myth.

Ron P.

According to JODI the peak occurred in 2006 and according to the EIA the plateau began in 2005. Also net oil exports peaked in 2005. Terminal decline in net oil exports began in 2006.

Peak oil happened years ago, I'm with you. But I am interested in the lead up, the history, how it crept up on humanity, built to a screaming crescendo and crashed upon modern society like....well....describing the consequences is more difficult than the rest of it. Deffeyes seems to have been the best prognosticator on the topic, but I am loath to keep mentioning it.

As far as drilling, sure, Rockman is doing pretty good. So are others in industry, and as he mentions, the jobs it brings to America, developing our own resources, is a better than good thing. And peak oil just gets deeper in the past, and Volt/Leaf/Focus/Mitsubishi sales will continue to increase, and a new rental America will pay attention to where they live with respect to work, and for all those good things, we still have SUV ads on during the Super Bowl. Post apocalypse no less. The things are like cockroaches!

Why should the USGS put out and "official supply estimate" to the public?

Good question. So far, no one has shown they do any such thing. So the answer might be that they shouldn't, and don't.

Even in the business world there is significant pressure to maximize potential estimates. Forget about predicting future reserve discoveries. Just consider proven developed reserves. They should be further broken down to those with significant production histories and the more recently discovered crop but I'll pass on that for now. Example: an oil field with 2 dozen wells drilled through it and some decent seismic control. Good high quality log data providing critical parameters. Calculate using porosity, oil saturation, reservoir thickness over a know area. There is no one number that's correct. This is where the estimating begins. I draw a reservoir thickness map based on what is seen in those 12 wells. But what about the areas between the wells? Depending on the density of the control and the thickness variations I can draw two maps equally defendable with perhaps as much as a 10-20% variation. And then go through the same exercise mapping porosity distribution...with the same leeway as the isopach (thickness) map. Now layer on to those maps variations in water/oil saturation...with the same defendable variations. I've seen the same field mapped differently (but equally defendable) to the order of 30% or more. So 50 million bo inplace or 65 million bo inplace? I could consider either number valid. Or not. I've seen this exercise done with a tad too much optimism. Too much to the point of being indefensible IMHO...an opinion I would often sell on a consulting basis.

But all the above just dealt with inplace reserves...not what will ultimately be recovered. And that requires going into a technical world dealing with parameters much more difficult to quantify. IOW a much wider range of estimation. I've worked reservoirs with 10% recovery and 70% recovery. Our example: 50 million bo/65 million bo inplace. So URR: 50 mmbo = 5 mmbo or 35 mmbo; 6.5 mmbo or 42 mmbo. So now using generic possibilities: URR is 5 to 42 mmbo. Of course, we can do much better than the generic but how much better? Reservoir drive mechanism has a huge impact on URR: pressure depletion typically recovers less than water drive. But I've seen water drive reservoirs recover less than a third of what appeared to be reasonable URR. Reservoir engineers can do their calculations but in the end Mother Earth has the final say.

Now the USGS estimates. I don't know what data base they have access to and how much they draw upon it. But I do know they have no more access to data than I have for US production. And rarely, if ever, does that database provide me the detailed info to do a reliable URR estimate. If I'm lucky I have access to a company's proprietary data the USGS doesn't have access to. And even then it can take many man-months to come up with an answer. An answer subject to all the qualifications I outlined above. That process covers existing fields with all the data in place. Now consider making those estimates of URR from fields yet discovered.

That rambling covers fields with little or no production histories. Most existing fields do have such documented history. The details aren’t as specific as one would like but there’s something out there. Production histories are obviously essential for determining the validity of preproduction URR . A reservoir engineer can be 100% certain that a pressure depletion NG reservoir will recover 100 bcf. But when I lay a straight edge of the pressure decline curve and see an URR of 40 bcf the argument is over. I don’t fault the Survey, or anyone else, for making incorrect estimates. Even when you have every bit of data at hand and all the time needed to analyze it the task is neither simple nor always accurate. But I do have a problem when such data is defended as being accurate and fully dependable when it comes to future planning. Just a dilution is often offered as a solution to pollution, projecting averages over large areas (like the US or globally) you can hope all the inaccuracies balance out. Hope is often not a good plannimg strategy IMHO

A wonderful explanation Rock. But I'm not sure what exactly you meant to convey. Have you talked to the USGS people who do these estimates and have formed the opinion that they overestimate because of a specific methodological issue? Did they tell you they have been ordered to do overestimates? Have you ever been to a conference and listened to the people who do these things, and disagree with what they said based on some particular incorrect thing or another? Do you even know if the USGS is using recovery factors at all, or do they do something completely different altogether, like discovery process modeling?

Bruce - A simple message: estimating existing reserves is difficult. Nothing new for you, westexas, Rocky, Ron, et al. But a lot of TODsters don't appreciate some of the basics. It was to give them some send of the process. Technnical debates amongst some of us is fun but not very helpful to many here IMHO. In fact sometimes might confuse them more.

A far as political/corporate pressure to make optimistic estimates that certainly may exist. But after dealing with geologists/reservoir engineers for over 36 years I've seen a natural tendency to chose optimistic assumptions. And no just for self promotion. Human nature: we tend to think we've done our jobs well. I got over those emotions maybe 20 years ago or so. I've made a lot of URR calculations that averaged between correct and too high (not once do I recall ever being significantly low) And having to take a big bite from that sh*t sandwich in front of my peers by being way too high a few times I've developed at least a bit of modesty. Even today with my hard-ass pessimist's glassses on I doubt I'll underestimate very many URR's by much.

They use the USGS estimates, though.

They do. ASPO has used them as well. But the USGS doesn't have anything to do with how well, or how poorly, people convert their information into estimates of supply. Your reference also seems to misrepresent the published research on the relative position of their estimates versus others. I wonder why?

Interestingly, the USGS has not published an update on their 2000 report. Usually they issue a new report every four years or so.

I believe their newest results are coming out this April. On a Tuesday. I wonder how many representatives of the PO community will be there to ask questions?

There were some researchers within the USGS who thought estimates were way optimistic, and published their own paper arguing peak oil was imminent. Supposedly, the official reports were very much politically driven.

Any reference for this? The claims of "politically driven" seemed to be quite the urban myth, and have been around at least as long as there have been peak oil websites to perpetuate it. The most recent peak oil report in Energy seems to think quite highly of their work, quite all out of phase with your statement.

Well, I guess it depends on your definition of "supply", whether you are using it as a noun or a verb

From the Oxford Dictionary

as a verb;

verb (supplies, supplying, supplied)

1 make (something needed or wanted) available to someone; provide
the farm supplies apples to cider makers

or as noun;

noun (plural supplies)
1 a stock or amount of something supplied or available for use:
a farm with good water supply

I particularly like this example they give, which seems particularly relevant to the US views on oil;

(supplies) the provisions and equipment necessary for an army or for people engaged in a particular project or expedition.

So clearly supply can mean either resources or the act of providing said resources, and RMG's context was referring to the resources themselves.
It would seem that the USGS, to minimise confusion, generally sticks to the term "resources", but they still use "supplies' every now and then too, like in this paper;

The U.S. Geological Survey’s 1998 assessment of the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge significantly revised previous estimates of the area’s petroleum supply potential....

The volatility of oil prices and their economic effects are a pointed reminder of U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies. Decision-makers periodically require re- assessment of undeveloped and undiscovered domestic petroleum resources that could be added to supplies.

So there you go, they even used it as a verb and a noun in the same sentence!
But the phrase of "resources" being "added" to "supplies" certainly implies a "calculation" of "supply", I would say.

Now, I'm sure you didn't come here to quibble over dictionary definitions of widely used (and interchangeable) terms. RMG's real point - which you have declined to address - was about the track record of their resource/supply estimates.

"supply potential" isn't supply either. It is "supply potential". Convert that "potential" into a supply prediction would be nice, but they didn't do that. And I am not aware of them ever doing it, which is why I asked the question in the first place.

Here is an example of "supply", depending on whether or not you wish to confuse the quantification of resource with actual supply.


When can this "supply" (otherwise known as technically recoverable resource) be turned into actual "supply"? Certainly there is no mention in that "supply" assessment of what volume can be provided to be combusted at the burner tip at some house in Anchorage, nor any mention of what that will cost, or will it even happen, all parts of what most people actually refer to as "supply".

Interesting that you want to argue the semantics rather than the point however. Could it be that you can't find the USGS building any supply models either, and are therefore trying a simple distraction from the topic rather than concede that whoever made the original claim really had no basis for their comment?

The difference between "supply" and "resource quantification" is that the latter is bureaucratese for the former. When you quantify resources, you are making a statement about available supply.

The USGS, being populated by bureaucrats, would use the latter phrase. Everybody understands what the former means, and they prefer to obfuscate what they are talking about.

My problem, since I don't really care whether they use "supply" or "resource quantification", is that they have been so consistently wrong in their estimates. I worked in the oil industry starting in the early 1970s, and their estimates have been persistently on the high side throughout my career.

Honest geologists would admit that their estimates were SWAGs (Scientific Wild-Ass Guesses), and they would be low as often as they were high.

When you quantify resources, you are making a statement about available supply.

Not in my book you aren't. Until you incorporate demand, cost, infrastructure, geopolitical considerations and assumptions, you have no supply. You might have potential supply, but a key component of peak oil is production rates (supply), not "gee I wonder what the crustal abundance of methane might be".

I worked in the oil industry starting in the early 1970s, and their estimates have been persistently on the high side throughout my career.

I asked this question elsewhere, do you have a reference that we might compare their estimates though time with that of others?

The USGS tends to use the phrase "technically recoverable" oil, which is misleading, because the estimates ignore economics. When you apply economic limitations to oil resources, they tend to become much smaller because much oil that is "technically recoverable" is not "economically recoverable".

I don't know of any competing sources of information, at least that are publicly available, since it is the responsibility of the USGS to estimate oil reserves for the US government. Private companies have their own estimates, but they normally keep them private.

Historically, the USGS usually has had to downgrade its estimates when more information became available. A case in point was NPR-A, which was downgraded to about a tenth of the originally estimated reserves after drilling started. I can remember their estimates of US resources going back 30 years, and the usual trend was to reduce them after the prospects were drilled.

In Canada, which I am more familiar with, the government authorities use much different methods to estimate reserves. They do in fact incorporate demand, cost, infrastructure, and geopolitical considerations and assumptions in their resource estimates, because cost is important in these estimates.

Quite commonly in Canada, oil companies recover much more oil than the government estimates. The government agencies tend to estimate on the low side rather than the high side. From a government planning standpoint, this is a much safer approach.

My experience with the Canadian NEB and Calgary GSC is that they are top notch. And I don't believe the USGS does reserves, for the same reason it doesn't do supply. You have enumerated those reasons pretty well I think. Without economics, there is no supply. There is also no "reserves" either. Perhaps I should say, "I have never seen the USGS estimate reserves" just in case someone has an example I have never bumped into.

Until you incorporate demand, cost, infrastructure, geopolitical considerations and assumptions, you have no supply.

I don;t know about that. Someone like Rockman can ignore all those things and just drill a reservoir and produce oil and you have "supply".

What you are talking about sounds like the "supply" side of the world oil market.

Which is fine.

But we are talking about the USGS view of "supply", or "resources"- which seems to be how much oil they think is in the ground, how much is technically recoverable, and, how much they think can be economically recovered.

They don;t seem to generally get into rates, as that is up to the producers.

And they wisely stay out of demand, geopolitics etc. Other branches of government seem to enjoy that much more.

Someone like Rockman can ignore all those things and just drill a reservoir and produce oil and you have "supply".

Has Rockman ever said he has been allowed to ignore economics while drilling a well? If so, I must have missed it. And it must have been one stinking rich donor, to throw 7 figures at him and say "Hey! Have some fun, drill a hole in the ground, who cares if it will make anything!"

And what I am talking about is the difference between an estimate of undiscovered (which means by definition you can't even count the things) which are "technically recoverable" ( you know, like the globally abundant tcfs we have available in methane hydrate resources).

I am primarily interested in the basis for these claims which are so common, but the references for which are so rare.

We'll have to let Rockman answer that one, but he has said before that oil is often produced that never recovers the cost of drilling for it, so that would be - technically - "uneconomic", but it is still being produced...

As for the over optimistic USGS reserve estimate, I presume you are talking about things like this;

USGS report reduces estimate of oil in petroleum reserve - Area rich in gas but holds only about a tenth of previous oil estimates.

Recent drilling results indicate that the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska contains roughly a tenth of the oil that federal scientists had previously estimated, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday.

Instead, the federal agency said, natural gas is the dominant energy resource in the 23 million-acre reserve across northern Alaska, and in nearby state waters. The findings are based on more than 30 wells drilled and other exploration in the NPRA over the past decade.

According to the agency's analysis, the NPRA contains 896 million barrels of undiscovered oil, in contrast to its 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

Of course, we are talking about "undiscovered" reserves here - what happened when oil co's tried to discover them?

Oil companies were euphoric over the 1994 discovery of the massive Alpine oil field just outside the reserve's northeastern boundary. Conoco Phillips, which owns Alpine, and other firms spent hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase leases inside the reserve.

But some of that initial euphoria didn't last. Within six months of publishing the 2002 assessment, data began trickling in from wells that didn't match the government and the industry players' assumptions, Houseknecht said.

So, A USGS estimate, then exploration based on said estimate shows it was out by an order of magnitude - I'd say that qualifies as being overoptimistic, if not the very definition of it.

Nope, that isn't the sort of overestimate I was thinking about at all. I thought the original poster was maintaining that the USGS was optimistic In relation to everyone else. What you referenced was a reassessment based on new information, as the article says. Also, they have had to massively increase assessments as well, because they were too low. The Barnett and Marcellus shales are examples, as is the Bakken. New technology changes what is "technically recoverable" because the technology has changed. In the case of Alaska, it appears that new drilling results showing more gas instead of oil after the companies started drilling up the area. I would offer that it is a good thing, to change estimates (in either direction) based on new knowledge. Certainly peak oil has morphed over the years, and I would offer that this is a good thing as well, and for the same reasons.

Despite growing demand for energy, however, fossil fuel resources have never been higher.

Now please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that sentence by definition wrong. As far as I understand, resources = useful stuff out there buried in the ground. Reserves = useful stuff buried in the ground that we know about and is economically extractable. Since we have burned fossil fuels, there are now less resources by definition than before we burned any.

Perhaps resources = useful stuff buried in the ground that we know about. And since we know about more stuff (even though most of it is not economically viable), there are more resources now than ever. Of course it is a completely misleading statement since resources that are not economically viable are useless. We know Jupiter has vast amounts of Methane but that really doesn't help us, does it?

I have just learned that someone in the audience will be recording Dr. McNutt's lecture on behalf of ASPO-USA.

Scrappin’ for profit in Rochester, NY. Guys in pickup trucks making the rounds collecting and selling various forms of scrap metal. Most of them legitimate, and not happy with the 2% or so who are thieves.

…Babcock and others in the business say they expect the competition to grow even more intense until the economy rebounds in a significant way. "The recession has a lot to do with it," he said. "The guys that are scrapping are doing good, the prices are high. There's not a lot of jobs out there. I do roofs, but since the economy has tanked, people don't have $10,000 laying around to get their roof done, they're hanging on to their money."...

…"The major change in the industry is that tin pile," he said, pointing to the mountain of refrigerators, water heaters and stoves. "We used to have to pay to get rid of tin, now they pay us for it."...

My own thought is that with some effort a lot of these appliances could be repaired instead of torn down for scrap. But this does illustrate a sort of ‘tale of two cities'; one tier of the economy consisting of those who have jobs and curb large things when they break, and a lower tier of now-unemployed who live off of the cast-offs.

Could this be the beginning of John Michael Greer’s “Age of Salvage Societies”? I assume a lot of this material is going to China to feed their industrial behemoth.

Much better for the environment to scrap an old refrigerator and buy a new efficient one. The progress in efficiency has been very large. This is one technology where people aren't letting go of the old units fast enough.

Maybe there is some sort of equilibrium at work between the "scrap it for efficiency" and (soviet-like) "repair and re-use" economy. What might upset the equilibrium to favor one over the other?

The women in my area have spring fever (I can poke my 4-fingers into the ground all the way to my fist in January?!? - tick and flea season etc will be hell this yar) and have started on-line rummage sales. Incredibly efficient already - they coordinate littl "mass pickups" instead of trolling around the county in their cars 9 hours-a-day thursday-sunday.

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round-and-round...

Hey, I just got through replacing the transmission on my garden tractor yesterday. Besides mowing, it is used for hauling dirt and gravel and spraying the orchard (I permanently mounted a 12 gallon sprayer on it). The transmission cost almost as much as a new, cheap tractor...but this old guy (24 years old to be exact) has features I love that the new ones don't have.


So What’s A Teacher to Do?

Ah, the fun of living in a borderline religious fundamentalist nation-state.

What's even more telling was a suggestion borne in the commentaries to the article. If you want to teach your children science, don't send them to a public school, send them to a Catholic school.

Special Weapons (and general Military) policy...meet budget realities (underlain, IMO, by increasingly expensive-to-extract-and-use energy):


In my opinion, the 'So long cheap energy' general contraction began decades ago...the 'Masters of the Universe' and their allies have managed to mask it somewhat so far, but those cloaking devices are fading...

On a different note, has anyone published an analysis of the immediate, mid-term, and longer-term effects on humanity, and specifically the U.S., from a Yellowstone super-volcanic eruption?

Probably not what you were looking for, but a lot of fun nontheless.



Thanks for the recommendation...have you read the book?

The 2 1/2 star rating spooks me a tad...I loved the first review in the queue (small excerpt follows):

There it is - in what should be the end of civilization as we know it; the apocalypse takes back seat in the story to the characters personal lives. Getting married, having kids, deciding what to eat at the restraints in downtown LA. There is no real food shortage, little disruption of life in the largest cities. And no reason to buy this overpriced book.

If you have already purchased this book and cannot return it, hire a blind person to tear out the pages and set them on fire.

I have read it. I'm a big fan of the author. This is not his best work, but was entertaining. Note that his pacing is slow for some tastes, and he does tend to do fairly extensive characterization as well as writing from a high number of different POV's. My cost-benefit on buying hardcover sf is different than most--I'm an easy sell as I figure the thousands of such books I read for free growing up, the state of the publishing market, and my current income oblige me to subsidize decent work. Note that the book is the first in a series, which will be forthcoming over a period of years, and covers only a short period before/after the eruption, in which time collapse has not proceeded as far as the commenter would have liked to see. You do have massive concentration camps set up on the edges of the collapse, and mass death in the multi-state area of the eruption and immediate surroundings, including discussion of Marie's disease, but perhaps the death porn was a little light for some tastes. You do have near-BAU on the coasts (shortages of some stuff) in this immediate aftermath. Towards the end of the book, one of the main characters is stranded in a Maine town which is running out of fuel oil and contemplating having to start cutting down trees to survive. I expect the next book will probably be more to the commenter's taste. This book ends with a number of fully developed main characters distributed thruout the country.


thank you for your review...I may indeed at some point buy the book (I would prefer a Kindle edition if possible...I have so many books in the house already...)

I have always had a certain fascination for apocalypse, post-apocalypse, 'doomer porn' if you will...

For those that have the inclination, here is a ten-minute DoD-endorsed doomer blast from the past (1979) video:



Versions of all that kit in the vid are still on duty...

Before my time, but I remember watching the 1987 "Amerika" at age 8 with my folks on our renter's TV (we hadn't ever had a TV at that point in my life so it was kind of a big deal).

"Our renter" rented our primary residence for a year or so while we were living on a construction project five hours from home. The rental agreement included some periods of shared residence with his furniture. I worked for him (he did flooring) a little bit when I was 8-10, he was Bronx Italian, which was a novelty for me growing up in AZ.

I like Turtledoves work, most especially the Worldwar series and Timeline-191. Wasn't too keen on the (not particularly graphic, but gave me disturbed sleep nonetheless) rapey bits in In the Balance and Days of Infamy.

He's a prolific writer, which can lead to some stories being a bit 'samey'.

I'm not aware of any (never looked), but I'd be surprised if some don't exist. I think the error bars on damages would be very large due to a number of factors.

(1) How big an eruption (measured in cubic kilometers of ash)? This might vary by an order of magnitude or more.

(2) What is the sulfur content? This will determine the magnitude of the 5-10year global cold snap, and global food supply shortfall.

(3) How rapidly does it happen. We've never observed one, and don't know the timescale (hours, days, weeks?).

(4) Which way is the wind blowing when it happens? If we are lucky most of the ash will miss highly populated areas.

(5) Knockon effects from economic damages.
I suspect if you ran a bunch of plausible scenarios over the range of possibilities, that the bottom line would differ by a huge factor from scenario to scenario.

Good points...you may have been conducted some analysis work in 'the Complex' earlier in your life?

The sad thing is, if the USG did pay a study group to conduct such analysis, the vast majority of us will never see it...kind of a shame, I think.

Never did any analysis for them. I did show them how they could use our computers to great effect (I worked for a computer corp), and visited a couple of supersecret sites. I probably only spent about two months behind the security screen though.

Here is one for Heisenberg, our resident MIC expert;

Clean energy doesn't always bring security for military

This article basically says that places like Nellis AFB, that have huge PV installations, can't use them to power themselves in the event of a grid failure, because of the interconnection rules from the grid utilities.

This would seem to negate a significant operational advantage of having on-site, grid independent power generation.

While this may be the official line, I find it hard to believe the Nellis and any other similar place don't have a plan on how to keep these things producing in event of grid failure - regardless of what the power co's "rules" are....


Thanks for posting what seems to be a very interesting article (so far I have just skimmed it...off to walk the dog!).

I tried to navigate to the first installment of this two-part article, but it is behind the paywall.

What you have found hard to believe (that they don't have a plan for...), I find easier to believe, having been there and done that (GI JOE/Flyboy for 20 years).

Don't get me wrong, the military is great at planning many different specific things, but, it has some blind spots as well....simple economics really...no organization with finite resources (and is 100% of them) can do everything it might need or want spectacularly well.

As good as military planning often is, I could dredge up a litany of 'YGBSM' stories of things they didn't plan for well, or at all.

I can first step back and ask the 'so what' for this situations, specifically, how is their situation any worse than it was before they installed the large PV array? I could ask the same about the base I was at for 9 years on and off up North, which gets most of its electricity from two large wind turbines, when conditions allow.

The 'when conditions allow' also applies to the PV array at Nellis...it obviously doesn't work at night or when it is cloudy.

Back to my point, before the PV/wind power, EIEIO, our bases had to be prepared for loss of commercial power anyway.

One can look out to the fielded forces to see the answer: They would use generators...usually fixed diesel generators, with some portable diesel generators, and even some portable turbine generators I believe. At least some bases have significant POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants) tank farms I do think there are contingency plans to attempt to replenish the liquid fuel gold supplies in an extended 'grid-out' situation. Recall that some of our bases had and have a very direct 'special warfare' mission set assigned to them, and this special mission demands backup, shielded power sources and circuits for the most critical enduring functions.

Let me toss this one out there...many of you may remember me posting last winter that when Albuquerque's NG supply was on the verge of collapsing (some folks North of us took the hit for ~ 2 weeks w/o NG), the local military/DOE base complex had its NG shut off for ~ 8-12 hours, including overnight...I was sent home early along with most others....the new base housing suffered much water damage from the water pipes (routed above the ceilings) burst. The office and industrial buildings did fine (they probably had enough latent heat from the god-awful overheating they normally have). The government chose to cut the base complex off rather than the city of Albuquerque...we were next if the cold snap would have gotten any colder and/or longer).

As we go forward, I would imagine the MIC will look more closely at how to keep its infrastructure running if the grid becomes significantly less reliable. I recall there was some interest in equipping bases with the postulated 'modular small nuke power plants/modules' that some had been touting.

I would love to see whatever plans may exist for the 'Continuity of the U.S.' in the event of certain potential events, such as acute events like a Yellowstone super-eruption or asteroid strike, and also for more 'slo-mo' chronic conditions such as a slowly deteriorating electrical grid, etc. If there are such plans, rest assured they would be most close-hold.


Thanks for your comments, always much appreciated.

Back to my point, before the PV/wind power, EIEIO, our bases had to be prepared for loss of commercial power anyway.

One can look out to the fielded forces to see the answer: They would use generators...usually fixed diesel generators, with some portable diesel generators, and even some portable turbine generators I believe. At least some bases have significant POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants) tank farms I do think there are contingency plans to attempt to replenish the liquid fuel gold supplies in an extended 'grid-out' situation.

Clearly they had to be prepared for this regardless. But if you can then use the on/near site PV/wind, then you will quite likely need less (or even none) diesel to get through the outage. This becomes more important the longer the outage is - when you get to having to bring in more fuel.

It just seems to me, that for want of some special equipment to allow islanding of the base, that a potentially very useful feature is going begging. If the base is affected by a widespread grid outage (e.g hurricane, earthquake then i;m sure the military logistics people will have lots on their plate - having the bases being able to remain autonomous for longer/indefinitely would surely make things a lot easier.

You ABQ example is a good illustration - if this had been electricity, and the base had to accept a rolling blackout, but had significant PV/wind generating capacity which could have prevented the freeze ups etc, it sure would make a lot of sense to use it instead of idle it.

After all, if you can set up an off the shelf grid tie inverter that allows your home PV panels to function as backup in the event of grid failure, then surely the military can do the same thing on a larger scale (at great expense, of course..)

It can't be that hard to come up with a mutually agreeable protocol with the utils on how to do this.

Be interested to see what Benamery21 (utility elec eng) has to say on this.


I completely agree that the DoD (and DOE also) bases not having the capability to 'island' is a rather penny-wise, pound foolish situation.

As you point out, having an autonomous PV/Wind/Etc. supply capability could greatly help continuity of operations in many circumstances.

And...as far as the base in/near ABQ is concerned, it has /plenty/ of fallow/unused land which could be blanketed with PV arrays. Also...mucho roof space to-boot! Room for numerous flow-battery installations or other energy-storage facilities as well...

It is all about the finite budget and competing priorities...

How mission critical, on a momemt by moment basis is Kirtland? I thought it was mainly engineering of weapons systems. Much of its functionality can probably suffer from the ocassional outage without endangering the countries military capability. So it makes sense to use the renewables as a cost cutting measure, and not as a relaibility resource. Thats what I do with my grid connected home system. The inverter will shut off in the event of grid failure. If I added a grid cutoff, and frequency controller, it could probably function during a blackout. But, there would need to be some protection agaisnt overdrawing the system. What happens if your PV can deliver a kilowatt at time X, but your instantaneous demand is 5KW? Does some equipment, inverter or in your house suffer from damage. So your controller needs some degree of sophistication. Is UPS really that valuable to you.

Even at work where we do have a UPS. We have dual electrical circuitry. Noncritical loads, like most lighting is not on the UPS circuit. I have Orange power outlets (UPS), and vanilla power outlets. Only the computer is connected to the UPS.

If Nellis owns their own distribution grid, there is no way the utility can prevent them from running PV when the utility grid is down. What the utility can do is require additional protective features for when they ARE connected to utility, which would NOT be required if the plan was to be off when the grid was down. This sounds like a lack of technical knowledge on the part of the people involved (which given my personal interaction with all of the services and many of the DG installers as well as the stories related by colleagues who were ex-Navy and ex-Air Force power folks is not a surprise).

For bases where the utility does own the onbase grid, I have at least one Marine base in my area where the entire base is backed up by diesel and has been for more than 10 years (even though it energizes MY wires during outages). I know of other bases with significant onsite backup generation. I know of other bases where onsite generation is VERY limited (hospitals and some command buildings, NOT EVEN INCLUDING WATER SUPPLY). I had a conference call this past Monday about an Army base which proposed using teaser generation to keep a proposed large PV system working during outages to re-energize MY wires, primarily to access DOD funding sources for the PV which emphasize energy security. Note that this is largely nonesense, IMO. This base needs to invest in a couple million dollars worth of diesel generators (probably about 2% of the cost of what they plan to do) to backup the whole shebang during the rare outages which are of any length, given that their current plan won't run the base when it's nighttime.

So I actually read the article; I should have done that before commenting. I find that it is decidedly better than the usual coverage on this topic. I have direct knowledge of two of the bases in the article. I have to be careful what I say, but it's a matter of public record that the feds' only role in the geothermal power at China Lake is the resource lease. The privately owned generation's output is under contract, and it is many miles from any of the base load, and it would cost dramatically less to back up that base with diesel than to run a powerline from the generation to the base load. That generation interconnects at 220kV, BTW. There is a company under contract to construct substantial PV at that base in the short-term, as there are at many bases. I have provided input to the DOD-mandated energy security reviews at multiple bases for all services over the past 13 years working for the utility. They tend to be of lower sophistication than typical for a decent-sized commercial warehouse, let alone an industrial process.

I got ya...

The DOD has never been an entity to itself...it relies in many cases on close cooperation, in some cases similar to a public-private partnership, to have the capabilities it needs.

IMO, AT&T, for quite a while, was kind of a pseudo-branch of the USG.

There are many Federally-Funded Research and Development Complexes (FFRDCs)...the DoD and DOE contractors are essential partners...the USG, particularly the MIC, is much more intertwined with 'private enterprise' and the so-called 'free market' than most folks realize.

I just got my current issue of 'The Economist'...its lead article is about FaceBook...the fake page for Zuckerman has text stating '800 Million+ Friends'...and below that is an eye icon with the caption 'Big Brother'...we can take that to the bank!

Follow this link to see what can be done with self-submitted information and why finding someone who is trustworthy matters.
(and to see if this version stays up)

This sounds like a lack of technical knowledge on the part of the people involved

Say it ain't so...

I know of other bases where onsite generation is VERY limited (hospitals and some command buildings, NOT EVEN INCLUDING WATER SUPPLY

Wow - you have wonder who set those priorities. Things go bad very quickly, ESPECIALLY for a hospital, without any water...

Normal water and sewage facilities have backup generators that allow them to run at least at half capacity, with fuel storage for a minimum of 24 hrs my ones at the ski resort we were set up for three days)

Anyway, the situation for the bases does indeed sound like a lot of posturing and system gaming - nothing new there.

But it seems to me that if gov money is going to be spent on putting PV stuff out there, bases are not a bad place to do it, and to get maximum benefit you might as well set it up so it can supplement the diesels in an outage.

btw, here is, in my opinion, an excellent way to achieve this sort of result, with a natural gas fired 100kWe CHP unit, that supplies grid connected power + heat, AND will function as an automatic "black start" backup generator.


This unit also allows PV, wind or any other DC source to use its inverter to feed to the grid, and offset fuel use in grid or backup mode.

Which is what I was getting at in the first place.

I am looking at these units for a "distributed" CHP porject at a ski resort - they solve all the problems of running insulated water pipes for distributing heat from a central CHP plant.

Most of the water supply at the base I was thinking about isn't potable even when the power is ON. They have released press releases about 100's of MW's of future PV export, in a transmission constrained area, however.

Most of the backup diesel gen-sets in the New Orleans area which weren't damaged by Katrina suffered mechanical failure within 72 hours. Maintenance and Operation protocols for emergency gensets are often lacking.

Maintenance and Operation protocols for emergency gensets are often lacking.

Sadly, yes.

I was required by the Ministry of Environment (which had authority over water and sewer utilities) to keep records showing that we started and ran the backup generators at the two treatment plants, and the lift station, for at least one hour, every month. On their once or two yearly visits, they brought their file and would not the hour meter readings - hard to falsify that.

The procedure was to hit the start button on the genset but I changed that to throw the main breaker for the facility and see what happens. First time we did that in really cold weather (-25C) one of the automatic transfer switches failed to close - was frozen up!

Non trivial stuff those backup gensets. If the power failed at the lift station, and the genset didn't work, there was about 1 1/2 hrs before it would fill, and then flood into the beautiful alpine stream that was just 20 feet away, right next to the main entrance to the ski resort! So we made sure they all worked, all the time...

The Tecogen units are a bit different. Their purpose is to actually run most of/all the time, and actually be a money maker, rather than a money loser. This fact alone will ensure that they get looked after. The electricity sales (at BC Hydro buyback of 10c/kWh) actually cover the cost of the NG and then you get the heat (700,00btu/hr) for free - a pretty good deal.
Plus the hotel then has a backup gen which it didn;t have before - very handy at ski resorts...

No doubt you'll shake your head at this....

See: http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/how-the-sewage-plant-broke/Content?oid=12...

They're one of my clients, so it's a damn good thing none of you can see how I roll my eyes.


Reminds me of something that happened to pump motors during construction in a (supposedly) dry well part of a major lift station in Phoenix back in the 80's (my Dad was the electrical sub). All I can say is OUCH.

yes, I am indeed shaking my head at that...

Actually, this sounds a bit Fukishima-ish

Firstly, I am amazed that the "emergency backup" generators were not set up to start automatically - they are then only as reliable as someone coming to start them! Who signed off on that decision?

Then, the issues of the three wired to A and one wired to B. Surely one look at the elec plans will reveal whether that was the design, or the way they were connected. I suspect the way they were connected, but then, it wasn't inspected properly either.

The sluice gate - the one thing that could be gravity operated - wasn't

The junction box below the overflow - ensuring that if (even one of) the backup generators failed, you couldn't even bring in a portable and hook it up (I have had to do this), because the pumps will be toast by then.

But most of all, was the emergency system not *thoroughly* tested during the plant commissioning, by doing my trick and just throwing the main breaker to see what happens?

I can see why HRM is keeping all this stuff quiet, but when it's a gov facility (of a non military type) this has to be allowed to come out.

As for the authors comments that "the facility should not be operated by private employees, who will be low paid, but by well paid unionised government employees" I am speechless.

It was the same type of unionised government employees that ran a BC Ferry onto rocks, sinking it and killing two people, and then their union backed their stance of not testifying, ensuring that the truth of the situation never comes out. Sounds like the same thing was happening in Halifax...

Have the official details ever been released?

There's a bit more background at: http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/36737-report-finally-released-generat... and you can read the investigator's report at: http://www.halifax.ca/HWWTF/documents/CH2MHillReport_R.pdf

It took eighteen months and $11 million to undo the damage and I understand that all but $500,000 was recovered through insurance (the City paid $150,000 for the forensic audit and there were legal fees as well, and I don't know if these additional costs are included in this second figure).

All I can say is that I hope other municipalities can learn from our mistakes.


As usual, a disaster like this requires a multitutde of things to go wrong. Among (many) other causes, somebody programming the PLC decided to make runhours the controlling factor in which fixed speed pump ran, even during power outages. Pump 4 (which I assume was on the lightly loaded generator) had only 404hrs. Prior to Pump 5 starting, the generators were loaded at 37% and 93% respectively.

Two backup incidents I have witnessed. Site A, process equipment leaks. Fluid finds path through floor... directly into the panel that connects the main power, batteries and genset into a UPS system. One bang later and we are running around disconnecting computers from their supply and putting 13 amp plugs on them to plug them into the traditional mains supplies. Site B, there is a grid failure. Backups kick in but the switch that does the transfer has never been upgraded to handle the ever increasing computer load. Switch resigns in a spectacular fashion. Site B also ran into trouble when they found the backup generators had not been upgraded to handle the increased computer load. They also had a spectacular outage when a JCB cut through one of the geographically separate grid feeds, might have been the same time they found out about the generators, long time ago to remember. I thought a bomb had gone off and when I looked out of the window a worker was picking himself up in the trench that was being dug, visibly shaking. The JCB had a bite out of its bucket several inches across and the fuse on the power line connection had just disappeared. It turned out to be an underground feed that went to an overhead fuse panel that went overhead into the main plant substation (I am sure that it could be described better by those in the business). There was a large loop left buried in the ground that no-one knew about. The plant was out for the rest of the day. Prize quote was a VERY obnoxious secretary who announced 'As I CANNOT use my computer I may as well do some photocopying', marched off to the copier room, nose in air, (with everyone watching). 3... 2... 1... slank off down the corridor without a murmur.


This stuff is not infrequently messed up. I have seen some doozies at hospitals, TV towers, and FAA sites. The first 20MW server farm design I saw, about 11 years ago, I spent a few days trying to explain to the designers that their quadruple redundancies in the power supply had the disadvantage of complexity and increased failure exposure, but retained common-mode failures. I don't have any failure analysis creds beyond common sense. It was a bit like talking to a wall, and since it was none of my business I gave up...

It's amazing how much of the world's contingency planning is done on the basis of 'well that problem has never happened, so the probability must be small' when actually the eventual probability approaches 1, given the design.

Under the heading of 'backup gensets would be nice.' The biggest ski resort (and entire town) in my area was out for ~24hrs on the Christmas weekend (boy that smarts) a few years back (no backup). The really sad part was that the cause (grid outage) was 100% human error. Even more frustrating is that there is local geothermal generation 3X bigger than the ski resort.

Yes, outages at ski resorts are lots of "fun"

We typically had them after the (rare) BIG snow events, and a tree would take out the only 25kV line that fed the place. Of course, with all that snow that means great skiing. The lifts have their own backup engines, but the buildings are in the dark - can't sell the guest a lift ticket or even a cup of coffee!

We would also get some outages of our own making - a flash in the can on the old pad mount switches, a transformer failing, a snow cat pushing a lift transformer off its base(!), and, of course, a large PU, going too fast on the way home from the pub, running off the icy road and taking out a pole.

Lots of ways to turn the lights out, much harder to keep them on...

When I was stationed at Norfolk one of my buddies was a Chief Electrician's Mate on the Nimitz and we had one of those 'continuity' discussions over a few beers. He said that it would be possible to power all essential Naval Station and NAS base functions with one Nimitz class carrier via its shore power connections "for an indefinite period" in the event of a hurricane, etc., and that there was some sort of plan to that effect. He said that the limiting factors would be getting the carrier back to its mooring after the storm (debris and obstructions), and overheating the water in the harbor, both solvable problems. I'm not sure of the validity of such a plan, but it certainly seems doable.

The Nimitz combined reactor capacity is 194 MW, though most of that is dedicated to propulsion. I don't recall it's electrical generating capacity, though it's substantial. The best part is that highly trained personnel are on watch 24/7, something that would be too costly for land bases needing backup/emergency power.

Great points...I always wondered about this potential capability.

It seems withing the bounds of possibility to construct a small number of special-purpose large sea vessels quipped with oil or nuke-'fired' power plants to have on hand to steam to coastal areas devastated by a natural or man-made disaster. One could imaging companion vessels with desalination plants, hospital ships, foodstuffs, emergency shelters, blankets...etc.

It is all about utility...budget priorities...

The challenge of having a suitable anchorage is one thing, but I think that the challenge of broken electrical distribution infrastructure ashore would be the long pole wrt quickly distributing trons...

"...withing the bounds of possibility to construct a small number of special-purpose large sea vessels quipped with oil or nuke-'fired' power plants to have on hand to steam to coastal areas devastated by a natural or man-made disaster. One could imaging companion vessels with desalination plants, hospital ships, foodstuffs, emergency shelters, blankets...etc."

You just described a Nimitz class, without the planes and weapons of course, and recall that the USNS Comfort responded to Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.. She's actually a converted oil tanker. Imagine that :-0

The Russians used some of their ship-board nukes to keep Kalingrad hot in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR.

On the robustness of the U.S. in general...most gas stations have no way to sell fuel without electricity, most WWTP's have only 24 hrs of storage capacity before they start dumping raw sewage, the New York subway is grid-power only, most traffic signals are grid-power only, large parts of the country need electricity to provide safe (OR ANY) tapwater supply for more than a few hours.

The US Navy has done this also, and long before the nuclear navy. The conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) generated power for the city of Tacoma, WA for a period of 30 days in January 1930.


Roger that...in fact, with the current DoD/USN plan to replace the Nimitz class, one-for-one, with the Gerald R. Ford Class (basically an improved Nimitz, the U.S. could choose to spend the money to retain each 'excess' Nimitz and keep them in some sort of reserve status, stocked with emergency supplies, perhaps with some of the spaces re-purposed as hospital facilities, etc....held in reserve for disaster relief....the jest could largely be replaced with rotor-craft to deliver supplies, evacuate folks, recon the areas, etc.

Of course this idea would be expensive...the ships would need to be maintained, and the reactor SLEPs are /very/expensive...and then there is the issue of needing to maintain crews to sail them...so they couldn't be swinging at anchor in stasis, they would have to do some training steaming...

Unfortunately, they would also come in handy if the future PTB decide to 'bring Democracy and freedom' to the fine oppressed people of Venezuela, allowing them to unleash the free market to develop and export the Orinoco resources to their good friends and benefactor to the North...

Roger that...in fact, with the current DoD/USN plan to replace the Nimitz class, one-for-one, with the Gerald R. Ford Class

Well, I've heard of the govt. bailing out the auto industry, but this is carrying it a step further: a 'Ford' aircraft carrier! >:>

IIRC, they will about $5B a pop, exclusive of the air wing, then we will have the up to 50 year's-worth of O&M costs...


Bingo. Getting several hundred MW's off of a ship and into the grid is non-trivial on an emergency basis. Even at POLA/POLB, where the port uses power on that OOM, it would take me several days, and that's if all of the PTB greenlighted us doing what needed to be done immediately (yeah, right). Of course, that level of power is fairly trivial in the context of SoCal.

No, I was thinking of something (I vaguely recall) about supplying power to Kalingrad via ship, that happened a number of years ago in the early days after the fall (probably before most online newspapers, since I had trouble finding it with google). It definitely happened, but may not have been a nuke, although I thought it was. This ship is interesting, however, although I think it's too small (70MWe). At that size range I'd use gas or diesel. In looking around I also ran across Russian plans to build a big land-based nuke in Kalingrad and export power to Europe. On the subject of barged power plants, I also remember reading about a major power plant and pulp mill which were planned to be built in the West and floated into Amazonia, settled on pilings and dewatered. I'm not sure if it ever happened. Some New England tycoon was behind it.

I also remember reading about a major power plant and pulp mill which were planned to be built in the West and floated into Amazonia, settled on pilings and dewatered. I'm not sure if it ever happened. Some New England tycoon was behind it.

That was the Jari Project.

The Jari project was a brainchild of US entrepreneur and billionaire Daniel K. Ludwig. In the 1950s he noticed that demand for paper was rising. Since the forests of the temperate zone were already in use, the supply of the wood pulp for paper was fixed. Ludwig foresaw a future increase in the price of paper due to the increase of mass media. Since most of the natural forest timber was not suitable for paper production, Ludwig planned a site where the natural forest would be replaced by a tree farm.

So, he bulldozed the rain forest and planted Gmelina arborea, a fast-growing tropical tree.

Ludwig had also commissioned two large ship-shaped platforms that were built in Japan and floated to the Jari Project. One barge module contained the pulping sector of the pulp mill. This module housed the digesting the brown stock the bleach plant and the pulp machine. The second module housed the recovery boiler, the evaporators and the recaust.

The project didn't turn out well. His trees didn't grow well under Amazon conditions, although he did find some species that grew better. He tried planting rice, but he had to use huge amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to get it to grow well.

Problems also begun to increase due to so-called Amazon Factor - the combined effects of soil, insects, humidity and tropical disease. Workers contracted malaria. Insects devoured the harvest and supplies.

After investing about $1 billion, he eventually gave up and turned the project over to Brazilian businessmen for no cash, although they assumed the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt he had incurred.

Thanks! With that info I did a little poking around. Wikipedia is out of date. It's (Jaricel) been a going concern since 2000 under Grupo Orsa. The debt from the original acquisition was retired in 2009.


The pulp mill Ludwig built is running and exporting pulp today... he died in 1992 at age 95. An eighth-grade dropout, he was #1 on the Forbes 400 list in 1982. His biography is "The invisible billionaire."

He also left behind the "Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research" and a number of other business legacies including the welded hull and the supertanker.

P.S. I think I must have read about this as a child in a dated 1980 National Geographic.

Yes, I did some reading about it, too. The group that bought it, in addition to having local knowledge, also downsized it to about a tenth of its original size which made it much more manageable, and the project is now somewhat profitable.

I believe that a hydroelectric power plant is also being constructed on the river, which will cut their electricity costs in half. The original idea of a floating power plant was obsoleted by the oil price rises of the 1970s and has only gotten worse. Hydro is much cheaper.

573 deaths 'related to nuclear crisis'

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A total of 573 deaths have been certified as "disaster-related" by 13 municipalities affected by the crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

This number could rise because certification for 29 people remains pending while further checks are conducted.

The 13 municipalities are three cities--Minami-Soma, Tamura and Iwaki--eight towns and villages in Futaba County--Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono, Katsurao and Kawauchi--and Kawamata and Iitate, all in Fukushima Prefecture.

These municipalities are in the no-entry, emergency evacuation preparation or expanded evacuation zones around the nuclear plant, which suffered meltdowns soon after the March 11 disaster.

A disaster-related death certificate is issued when a death is not directly caused by a tragedy, but by fatigue or the aggravation of a chronic disease due to the disaster. If a municipality certifies the cause of death is directly associated to a disaster, a condolence grant is paid to the victim's family. If the person was a breadwinner, 5 million yen is paid.

Five million yen, is a pretty cheap price for a life!

Bird numbers plummet around stricken Fukushima plant

Researchers working around Japan's disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.

In the first major study of the impact of the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.

The study, published next week in the journal Environmental Pollution, suggests that its findings demonstrate "an immediate negative consequence of radiation for birds during the main breeding season [of] March [to] July".

No human corpses, no problem I believe is the mantra of the fission supporter.

Who cares about a drop in the live bird numbers?

Re: Gazprom articles up top

Well they are not blaming Ukraine this time for reduced flow. I also note that the daily gas production figures have gone missing from the official page at http://www.cdu.ru/en/ . Oil and coal are there but not natural gas.

Putin told Gazprom at the meeting that the demands of Europe had to be respected but the firm's priority was to supply consumers in Russia, which is also enduring a spell of very cold weather.

As I have occasionally opined, when it comes to energy, food and other critical resources, some consumers are more equal than others.

Luckily so far the UK has had a relatively mild winter although it has turned a bit colder lately. The extreme cold over much of Europe is battling Atlantic air over London about now giving some snow but nothing compared to last year. Haven't seen any snow to speak of in east Scotland yet though.

Nice snowy pic on Abbey Road Webcam at http://www.abbeyroad.com/Crossing

The weather was fairly mild over most of Europe until recently as well so storage shouldn't be reasonable.

Ha! Some friends of ours called us from that location last fall so they could wave and moon us in near real time ;-) Looks like they're building a snowman tonight.

So they are! It's 11:30pm there as well,

As I was watching, a car almost collided with a young couple crossing the street. There are idiot drivers everywhere, but I do suspect the Brits are somewhat spoiled when it comes to winter driving conditions. It kinda shows.

Doing a pretty good job with that snowman, though. Looks like ideal snow for playing.

"I was distracted by the snowman officer" :-)

Sure is pretty in London tonight. Enjoy.

IMHO, winter is a very magical season. Highlights come in fleeting moments.

Apparently even a mild winter's snow is too much for the ever-panicky British nanny state. From Fark.com: "Great Britain could get up to 4" of snow this weekend. EVERYBODY KEEP A STIFF UPPER LIP." Or, from the Guardian article they link:

Drivers and pedestrians have been warned there could be significant snow and ice over much of central and eastern Britain over the weekend, with some snow falls leaving up to 10cm (4in) on the ground over Saturday night...

North Dartmoor recorded a temperature of minus 2.6C at midday , while High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire recorded a temperature of minus 0.7C afternoon...

"Check the weather and traffic reports before heading out and pack plenty of warm clothing, food, water, de-icer, ice scraper and a fully-charged mobile. Take it easy and, if conditions deteriorate, try sticking to main routes and maintain a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front."

OK, everybody panic out of their bleeding minds. It will surely be the wrong kind of snow, since even though it has never snowed before in Old Blighty, every kind they have ever not gotten has been the wrong kind. The end of their world is nigh. (And in other news, never before has there been a cold snap in Eastern Europe. Such things existed only in the fevered imaginations of guys like Napoleon and Hitler. Sheesh. Must be a very slow news week indeed.)

All depends upon what the people are used to. I was amazed my first winter in Wisconsin, as a little old lady easily got out of a snowy parking spot I would have had great difficulty with. Then when I lived in Albuquerque's east mountains, I learned to panic at the first hint of snow, if you didn't get up Tijeras canyon before they closed the road (I40!) -you weren't gonna get home period! Its even worse here in Califonia. The slightest amount of snow on the road, and it is illegal to drive without chains (or 4WD plus snow tires)! I don't think anyone in Wisconsin owned chains, they just knew how to drive on the stuff.

"All depends upon what the people are used to."

Exactly - Britain gets 10cm snowfalls pretty much every year. But nanny-state bureaucrats never seem to learn anything at all from experience. Or even if they do, they don't retain it for more than about one season.

When the crisis with the Ukraine pipe was rolling on that winter, the only question I had was what excuse the russians would use next cold winter.

It turned out to be as simple as "we need to supply our own custumers first". I didn't see that one comming.

Israel's never-ending Holocaust

The Holocaust is the sole prism through which our leadership, followed by society at large, examines every situation. This prism distorts reality and leads inexorably to a forgone conclusion - to the point that former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau announced at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony three years ago that Moses was the first Holocaust survivor. In other words, all our lives are simply one long Shoah.

and later...

So it is that we don't have any rivals, adversaries or even enemies. Only Hitlers. This is how the Holocaust is taught in school, this how it is that Israeli students are taken to visit death camps - and how it came to be that, as Haaretz reported on Friday, just 2 percent of Israeli youth feel committed to democratic principles after studying the Holocaust and 2.5 percent identify with the suffering of other persecuted nations, but 12 percent feel committed to "significant" service in the Israel Defense Forces.

I'll say again, war with Iran will probably be generated by the domestic politics of Israel and the United States more so than any reality on the ground.

Unfortunately for Iran, Ahmadinejad has an uncanny ability, through his street politics and bombastic remarks, to push all the right buttons to trigger Israel's deep rooted paranoia.

I fully agree. I wonder how that compares with our -everyone against us is a terrorist mentality. And of course all "terrorists" are Al Qaeda. [If they are terrorizing our enemies, they aren't terrorists, but freedom fighters]

The jews have reason to be paranoid. The Vernichtung was not an isolated event. You could do yourself a favour and check out the historical links between the arabs and the nazis. From whom do you think Hitler got his idea?

Of course there's reasons.. but this has been an uninterrupted string of purported security actions on Israel's part that have only worsened their security.. with a little help from their friends, no less.

Abba Eben's old tagline still applies in both directions, 'They have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.'

From whom do you think Hitler got his idea?


The "final solution" of the North American Indian problem was the model for the subsequent Jewish holocaust and South African apartheid....The North American Indian holocaust was studied by South Africa for their apartheid program and by Hitler for his genocide of the Jews during World War II. Hitler commented that he admired the great job Americans had done in taking care of the Indian problem. The policies used to kill us off was so successful that people today generally assume that our population was low. Hitler told a past US President when he remarked about their maltreatment of the Jewish people, he
mind your own business. You're the worst.


Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?

(How many years after the story of the last century's first Holocaust – Winston Churchill used this very word was there a 'large' Turkish apology?

In regards to the article up top, 'Iran will cut off oil exports to some European countries', I will repeat what I said one week ago - they already have.

Based upon a review of shipping arrangements for VLCCs (very large oil tankers), Iran hasn't made any new oil sales to Europe this week. It is possible that smaller oil deals were done, or oil was sent to another country, and then re-sent from that other country to Europe - so at least it would not appear that Iran is making any direct deals with Europe.

Also someone from the Washington Post also agrees that Iran is not making any significant oil sales to Europe:

Krauthammer: Leak indicates Israeli attack on Iran ‘certain’
Published: 1:09 PM 02/04/2012 | Updated: 5:05 PM 02/04/2012
By Jeff Poor - The Daily Caller

Last week in his Washington Post column, David Ignatius wrote that Israel was preparing to attack Iran to prevent it from being able to build a nuclear bomb.

According to his Post opinion page colleague Charles Krauthammer, based on the source behind Ignatius’ claim it is likely an attack will occur.

On this weekend’s broadcast of “Inside Washington,” Krauthammer explained his thought process.

“The Iranian oil is already being cut off,” “The Europeans are not importing it … The Saudis have pledged [because the Saudis are determined to see the Iranian nuclear program wiped out -- they are very upset about this] a replacement for any Iranian oil. So if it’s just Iranian oil, it will have no effect.’


Note that increased problems with Iran (for KSA, Israel, and the U.S.) are partially a result of removing Iraq as a counterbalance in the region. More than a few commentators warned of this in 2002-2003.

The loss of counterbalance - that's essentially what this is all about. Forget the nuclear program. That's a fringe factor in the overall scheme of things. The big factor is that Iran's power and influence in the region has been growing. Saudi Arabia is skittish about a significant Shiite presence, particularly one that can challenge it's Sunni hegemony. Bahrain and its own Eastern Province are predominately Shiite. The rise of discontent across the region last year has made Riyadh particularly sensitive. Saudi Arabia wants to make sure it can still maintain control at home and on its neighbours.

Meanwhile, Israel is reeling from Egypt's turmoil and the possibility of civil war in Syria. Iran's backing of Hamas and Hezbollah has been a thorn in Israel's side for a while. With the whole region in flux, however, Israel is grasping at whatever means to exert its own muscle in the region.

The collapse of a viable Iraq has upset the chess board, a chessboard that was already resting on a precarious footing. What is sometimes overlooked is that the whole map of the Middle East is a 1920s fabrication, imposed by the victors of World War 1, France and Britain on the defeated Ottoman Empire. The borders were drawn for geopolitical convenience, bearing virtually no respect for tribal or natural boundaries. That's a key reason why the region has not been stable ever since, which has played well to the West's manipulations, and much to the frustration of the inhabitants.

Add to the mix that Britain (and then later the US) meddled in the affairs of Persia/Iran resulting in coups in 1925, 1941, and 1953, Tehran has every reason to be skeptical of Anglo-American intentions. Besides, they are a proud people with 4000 years of history behind them. Their civilization is far older and more robust than the upstarts from the West. Ideally, Iran sees itself at the head of a future Shiite Caliphate. Given that the chessboard is in flux and that, with patience, opportunities can arise, it is not an entirely unrealistic proposition. Iranians know that. So, too, do the Saudis and the Israelis.

Everyone is scrambling for position. In some ways, it is Saudi Arabia and Israel who are hell bent to be the bullies. Saudi Arabia's armed forces are many more times the size of Iran - thanks to Uncle Sam. Israel is the predominate power in the region - thanks to Uncle Sam and its 200 nuclear warheads or so. They like being top dogs. They don't like shifting sands. They don't like challenges to their rule. Hence their gun sites on Iran.

And Iran's support of Hamas and Hezbollah limits Israels freedom of action in Gaza and Lebanon. They would sure love that constraint eliminated. I suspect based upon geography, and population, that Iran is the natural hegemon of the Gulf. And that would be anathema for the current US.

Iran or Turkey. Turkey and Egypt have both been pretty low-key for the past 30 years, but more worrisome the past couple (on a different scale than Iran). Not sure Kurdistan stays autonomous if Iraq collapses completely.

Lots of good stuff in there, but you failed to include the imposition of "Israel" on the Palestinians ... and the 60 years of mayhem that has ensued. And Israel was created primarily so the Western victors did not have to take all those post-WWII European Jews into their own countries - give them a bit of Arab desert, and we can solve the Jewish Problem. As if.

Iran's backing of Hamas and Hezbollah has been a thorn in Israel's side for a while.

"Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades.
(Legend has it the creation had Mosad funding, kind of like how the Czars in Russia were paying Lenin a stipend or the US of A paid Bin Laden.)

Israel Created Two of Its Own Worst Enemies--Hamas and Hezbollah
(This creation "myth" has less direct involvement then Hamas)

Would the 'thorn' exist if there were it not for certain actions by the party who's side is being thorned?

Drought May Cause Shutdown of Texas Rice Production

“This is going to be a huge, huge deal,” Rose said during a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans. “What’s going to happen is that there will be no water for rice irrigation in the Lower Colorado River Basin this year.”

Just a note that the central Texas Lower Colorado River mentioned is an entirely different and hydrologically distinct river/basin than the Lower Colorado of AZ, CA, and NV. They are on opposite sides of the Continental Divide. Some of us grew up thinking of Texas as 'back East.'

The rice farmers will suffer from being to low in the food chain of water on the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Above them for instance are the numerous power plants that require cooling water. The decision, right or wrong, is that electric power comes first.

A reminder of what happens when scarcity sets in. If a real oil scarcity develops there will not be uniform sharing. Some groups will be completely cut off to ensure that more "important" groups get theirs.

The Lower Colorado Basin water supply to AZ, CA, and NV is as follows: 64% mainstem reservoir storage (over three year's supply without any inflow), 72% of normal current Upper Basin Snowpack. Forecasted water year is 79% of normal inflow to Powell or just below breakeven for reservoir levels. Salt/Verde basin status (Phoenix's gravity flow water supply) at 66% reservoir storage (1.5 years water with no inflow), 99% of normal Basin snowpack. Deliveries from SRP and CAP will be 100%.


The CA snowpack is only at 37% of normal for this date and the State Water Project projects only 60% deliveries, so high only because of good reservior levels due to last water year's snow. LADWP Eastern Sierra snowpack is about 20% of normal. SoCal is going to be hurting this year absent some big snowstorms up north.

The CA snowpack is only at 37% of normal for this date and the State Water Project projects only 60% deliveries, so high only because of good reservoir levels due to last water year's snow. LADWP Eastern Sierra snowpack is about 20% of normal. SoCal is going to be hurting this year absent some big snowstorms up north.

I wonder at what triggering levels will the DWPs for SCAL start mandating water conservation. I seem to remember in the past it happened to me (70s or 80s?), but cannot remember at what points of available supply that water conservation goes from voluntary to mandated.

Mandatory conservation has been in effect at LADWP...they are on Phase II. http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp012434.pdf

When they first implemented the odd-even watering day meme they started blowing up old water mains due to the variable stresses.

Some of us grew up thinking of Texas as 'back East.'

Indeed - we recently drove for a month from San Francisco to the John Day Fossil Fields to Spokane to Glacier NP to Las Vegas - for almost all that time we were in the catchment of the Columbia River system, and we were fascinated by the effects of the huge Missoula Floods at the end of the last Ice Age.

America is a great country to drive through if you are cognisant of all the catchments and dividing lines. Only at the very end of our trip did we enter the Colorado River system - which has all its own problems of course. I still like Lake Powell though - but I understand how contentious it has always been.

In other news: they. grow. rice. in. Texas??!

Only 5.2% (less than 300 square miles) of U.S. acreage (5.5% of production) in 2010. It's pretty much all along the Gulf in counties with about 4 feet of rain and high humidity. Most U.S. rice is grown in Arkansas (48% of production) along the Mississippi. The U.S. as a whole produces just 1.6% of world production.

Someone once told me that cotton was raised in Texas, and that it needs a lot of water, and is somehow harder on the soil than other crops.

In case you aren't kidding (sounded a bit wry), Cotton is worse than corn for both water and nitrogen. The peanut entered cultivation in the South as a nitrogen-fixing rotation crop for cotton. In AZ, typically alfalfa is used. U.S. acreage in cotton has varied from about 8million to 46 million annually. Due to ethanol and water it's been quite low lately (2008 and 2009 were near historic lows). High cotton prices have brought it back a bit in 2010 and 2011. Texas usually has about 7% of U.S. total crop acreage, but had about 52% of planted cotton acreage in 2011. 32% of Texas acreage was in cotton that year.


Fortunately we've gotten back to our typical cold front/rain pattern that was absent for most of the fall. Some areas of SE Texas got 6"+ of rain yesterday. We've had several good rains the last 2 months. Still have a long way to go to return reservoir levels to historic averages but it's a start.

Lots of cotton in this area. Rice: some in Texas but a lot more in La. And they've been dry also. A greater concern for me is the crawfish population...the boiling season is almost upon us. Speaking of rice growing in odd places: almost 40 years ago while doing geologic field work in the San Joaquin Basin near Bakersfied I saw a bright green rice field in the middle of an area that was probably just an inch or two alway from being an official desert.

Bakersfield is indeed on the verge of being a desert - 7" annual rainfall - but there is LOTS of irrigation around there. Very deep and good soil, just add water and *don't* stir.

Also there is lots of rice grown in northern California by these guys;


Theirs, and some brand of rice called "Texana" are the most common on my store shelves here in BC.

Just for interest, people have successfully grown rice in Vermont, which led to this USDA guide;
Rice Growing Manual for the Northeast USA

Similarly, people try to grow rice and cotton in our large river basins in Australia (the world's driest inhabited continent). Fortunately most of them fail over the long term ... but not before drawing huge amounts of unsustainable water from fragile and erratic river systems for irrigation.

Hubris knows no bounds, it seems.

Yes. Dry land rice. My understanding is wet land rice helps suppress a class of pests that dry land needs pesticides for. One doesn't need a bog for Cranberries - you just have to pick 'em by hand VS float 'em to the top of the water. And coffee lovers claim the dry processed beans taste better than the way almost all beans are processed - floated in water.

Why grow rice at all in DRY PLACES? What am I missing?

Well, the dry places also tend to be sunny and warm - ideal conditions for growing stuff, if you just add water...

Texas generally gets the majority of its rain in summer, which is the right time if you are growing dryland (unirrigated) rice - or other summer crops, like cotton, sunflowers, sorghum, etc.

The farmers were encourage to get set up to grow cotton years ago. As the cotton market has waned, they have turned to other stuff, including rice. There are probably other and better crops to grow, but regardless, they are going to try to grow something...

Ah ha, I've got it! I kept wondering how the GOP were going to manipulate whatever they could to win the upcoming prez election, and then it finally dawned on me - collusion with the oil companies to raise fuel prices to over 4 dollars a gallon nationally and over 5 in california. Whenever there's a prez election the price of fuel goes up in an effort by oil company execs to get the populace to vote for GOP candidates, who favor oil subsidies and expanded drilling sites.

Here's an article examining what would happen to the economy if oil price rises to 200 a barrel.


“It could derail a speedy recovery from the economic crisis, especially in the US – which is perhaps the most vulnerable of the major economies to oil price shocks,” said Dr Carole Nakhle, Associate Lecturer at Surrey Energy Economics Centre.

Although oil price might not jump as high as $200 a barrel this year, gas pump prices could be artificially elevated by colluding oil companies intent on getting the GOP candidate into the oval office. It wouldn't take much, and then it opens up a pandora's box for Obama who stopped oil drilling in the gulf for a period of time and nixed (for now) the oil pipeline from Canada.

Higher prices at the pump would translate into a slower US economy and could make the difference in the upcoming election. I'm suggesting this is exactly what will happen. Pump prices will be elevated until the polls favor the GOP candidate right up to the election in November. Then once Romney is elected, they will reward the voters (like pavlovs dogs) with lower pump prices so they reinforce the behavioral response that they voted correctly.

It could derail a speedy recovery from the economic crisis

After nearly 4 years, I have to wonder when the experts will realize that a "speedy recovery" is perhaps not in the cards.

The Imminent Collapse

The effects of a contraction of the oil supply largely hinge on how fast the oil crash hits. Scenario one has the oil prices ramp up over a decade or more. The economy grinds to a halt and begins to go into reverse, companies collapse one by one as their operating costs become unmanageable. Our imports drop off, and we have to rely more on domestic food production. Electricity becomes a scarce resource and we face prohibitively high prices or rationing. The rest of the world becomes more unstable as countries see food and goods shortages and the social unrest that brings. Hawkish nations will re-double efforts to take control of the remaining supplies. Although devastating, one might hope that people and governments would quickly wake up to the problem and we would have the resources to transition to a more sustainable energy infrastructure. But equally without a crisis to wake everyone up we may just leave the problem too late to do anything about it.

Of course only a very few will wake up before the crisis actually arrives. That's just how the world works. Only events convince people to take any kind of action, never arguments. But I think I have said that before.

There are always two arguments, one telling folks what the truth is and the other telling them what they want to hear. And that is that everything is fine and our technology will save us and don' listen to those chicken littles. After all, this is the fifth time we have run out of oil.

There are always "experts" on both sides and people will always listen to the "expert" that tells them what they wish to believe. Daniel is one of the experts that the deniers love the most.

Ron P.

Scenario two is rather more terrifying. If consumption and production continue to go at their maximum rate, not only will the eventual peak hit sooner, but the drop-off in production will be quicker and the resulting crash harder. The human race will hit the wall at full steam, and will simply never be able to recover. We could see a spike in oil prices similar to them nearly doubling in the year before the 2008 crash, except this time they’d just keep rising.

...except that oil prices will only spike relative to what economies can afford, be that $20 or $2000, but I agree that folks will continue to consume at their maximum rate until they can't. Then what? Farther down:

Most of the tools for suppressing dissent are in place already, the various terrorism acts of the last decade have eroded our civil liberties enough to cause some serious damage in case of impending social collapse. In peacetime the justice system has free reign to apply the spirit of the law, under duress the system will apply the letter of the law. If a gun left on a mantlepiece is sure to go off by the end of act 3, we’ve left the keys to the nukes on the mantlepiece and we’re at act 3, scene 5.

This is when the fun really starts.... when it sinks in that the keys to the kingdom were stolen while folks partied on.

There is a price limit of oil in wich oil is so expensive as it costus "all our money". Some economist back in 2008 calculated that to 560 USD. Above that price rnge, we will simply do without. Hence, prices will never go up so high. Demand will fall.

In short, free market economics will make sure that the oil produced will be sold. How many dollars it cost is not the matter. It is only a proxy for the process that will make you not buy any.

But after oil export reaches 0 barrels/day, I expect a global management of the matter to be in place.

But after oil export reaches 0 barrels/day, I expect a global management of the matter to be in place.

I don't. There has never been anything close to a global government, or global management of anything since Alexander the Great. As the world economy declines because of declining oil production there will be far less global management, not more. There will likely be resource wars, at least among third world nations. Conflict and anarchy will increase dramatically as the world slowly, or perhaps swiftly, collapses.

Ron P.

There has never been anything close to a global government, or global management of anything since Alexander the Great.

And I'll take the counter position. The global flows of money act as a global government as more and more of Governments are captured by the monied interests.

Then you have global government goals of Agenda 21 along with the desire to create uniform standards for food and animals in the form of The Codex Alimentarius Commission as 2 examples. Very large if not international "smart grids" are usually pitched by TOD regulars - such is part of the pitch for Agenda 21.

And the global "booga booga the scary man is gonna get ya" machine is now overreacting to slang. A 'pep' talk to work colleagues encouraging them to ”blow away” the competition at a trade show has the gent get accused of being a terrorist. Its like they are all running from the same playbook globally. Or perhaps the 'Ohhh! Scarey man' was always equally distributed and only with the Internet do we get to see the low points of everyone else - I'm willing to concede this one.

Which is more realistic - no global government or the governance of money is an established global government? If the monied interests reflect a global government is the pushback on ACTA support Ron's POV? How much of Agenda 21 or Codex Alimentarius has to be implemented does it become 'global government?

I am not sure there will e a global government, but some sort of global management. When oil export hit 0 B/D there are roughly 200 nations who will get no oil at all. This will mean the end to the global economy, as well as starvtion for billions. WWIII is unavoidable. The only cure will be to make sure the oil is shared. For example KSA can't produce anything they need (for example food), so if they want to import, they need to export. I expect global agreements to be made so that every area get some oil, be it not much. The hope beeing that this will avoid the mess.

Why do I belive this? What I have learnt over the year is that politicians like to concentrate power. They only need an excuse to do it. The ongoing economic crisis is already making politicians come together to discuss further reform and centralization. Unless they sudenly have a personality change, they WILL try. And we will let them.

However there is no chance of any kind this will last long. They will fail to solve the problems they set out to, and lose the resources needed to keep the thing together, so I expect it to be a short lived experiment.

Stuper-Bowl on today...#46...

Barring an asteroid, Yellowstone Super-Volcano, or Ruskie sneak attack, I will predict that we will see the 50th hoo-haa edition in 2016 with attendant pomp and circumstance.

100th edition in 2066?

60th game in 2026?

Heh...I have been spring-cleaning and painting (not the artistic kind). In February...

Fruit trees getting pruned also.

Good show!

I am not interested in the S.B.

If it was a little warmer, I would take care of some trim painting on the house...but, I will make do with inside Spring cleaning and taking a long walk with my dog...

H, hope you keep the good weather turned on down there for the next couple of weeks. My partner is heading to ABQ for some women's retreat, and is looking for a good break from the rain and snow here!

Wish I could go too, sure sounds beautiful down there from your descriptions.

She only has a spare day before and after, any suggestion on some memorable things to see or do, or even a local food experience that is not to be missed?
I suggested the train trip to S.Fe, but I'm sure there is much better than that that could be done.




Next 10 days, ABQ highs forecast in the low 50s, overnight lows mid-high 20s, F.


I am taking a shot in the dark, as folks' preferences vary...

- Sandia Peak Tramway


- Sandia Ski Area


I think the RT Tram ticket is ~ 17 bucks, ~ 2 miles ride, 900 foot highest elevation above the ground, ~ 12-13 minute ride each way. Restaurant up top, called 'High Finance' for cause...indorr seating with Windows view ABQ and beyond, outdoor wood deck as well. Hiking path, ~ 1.5 miles fairly flat hike North, either thru woods or along cliff, to a gift house/souvenir shop at the end of the road going up the back (East) slope of the Sanidias (next to the radio tower farm). Can get food there at a grill..I recommend a bowl of the red chili stew.

She could also drive through the I-40 pass and turn left at the Cedar Crest exit and drive up the mountain to the gift house...several trail-heads to stop and have picnic lunch, light hike, etc.

If looking for a more strenuous experience, hike the La Luz Trail from the bottom (trail head North of the Tramway entrance, and one ends up close to the top of the Tram...depending on the person's condition, can take 2-4 hours (although people do run the trail, but that is well beyond my fantasies)...trail can be steep during stretches, and some places footing is other than sooth...recommend hiking boots, appropriate water supply, and sunscreen. Eight miles one way, 3000 foot elevation gain...I gain do it, resembling a lumbering Sasquatch. Once up top one can take a short hie to the Tram top/Antares, or a bit longer to the gift house and back. Of course the La Luz/driving (if splitting up)/Tram experiences can be combined (Tram up/Hike down, vice versa).



There is the Albuquerque Bio-Park, consisting of a zoo, an aquarium, and a botanical garden. Take Central West...


Out that-a-way is also ABQ's 'Old Town'...shops and restaurants..

The Rail Runner to Santa Fe may be an enjoyable trip:


The main square has restaurants and shops, and there is an Artist's Road with art museums.


I found the Georgia O'Keeffe museum interesting:

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Back to the great outdoors...

I always enjoy a hike to the top of the mesa at Tent Rocks, I-25 North, ~ 2/3s the way to Santa Fe, then West a bit...culminating in a ~ 5-mile dirt road (easily passable by any vehicle):

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument


~ an hour to get there, same back, ~ 2 hours RT hike...can be combined with a car visit to Santa Fe.

If she wants to drop some coin for a great massage experience, hard to beat 10,000 waves just N of Santa Fe...:


Eating in ABQ?

Lots of places...

I just went to this one, very nice service, great food, but spendy (wife and I spent $81 ducks on dinner...not going to do that often!):

Jennifer James 101


Looking for good 'New Mexican' Food?

Los Cuates


Hope this helps a bit!


Thanks H,

Have forwarded on to senior management...

Sounds like lots to do.
I am a sucker for tramways/gondolas, always a fun thing, and a different way to "see" any city
Was amazed to find that there is one in dowtown Portland!



I hope that 'CINCHouse' (Commander-in Chief, Household) has an enjoyable time.


Stuper-Bowl, is a good name for it. Even an avid NFL fan such as myself has gotten to the point of being zombied out by all the commercialization.

Q: How many people does it take at a Stuper-bowl to flip a coin?
A: 17
Q: How many minutes of actual football played?
A: 60
Q: How many minutes of ads and other distractions during the game?
A: 180!
Q: How many billions of net profit made by the NFL?
A: Not anywhere near enough for NFL owners.
As Gordon Gecko says, "Greed clarifies and cuts through." Or as NFL owners say, "Greed clarifies we should cut to ads more often."

Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling: America’s Inability to Respond to an Oil Spill in the Arctic

One other big factor is that the biodegradation rate of oil in the Artic is far slower than in the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil spilled in the Arctic will stay there for a long time.

A little Update on things down here in the Caribbean, Jamaica to be exact. We had general elections on December 29 and now have a new government, if you can call the party that was in charge for 18 years prior to the previous administrations 4 year term, new. So, we also have a "new" energy minister who is Peak Oil aware, if he looked at some info I had delivered to him 3 1/2 years ago, that is. Maybe, since "it hasn't happened yet", he has gone back to never, never land but, he is on the ball and promising a 50% reduction in electricity prices, currently about 40c per kWh in four years time. This of course is music to the ears of the "gotta get back to growth" crowd.

He hasn't said anything particularly new or interesting about renewable energy but he has appointed three new members to the board of the local electric utility and given them a mandate to push the government’s agenda for achieving liberalization in the electricity sector. One of these people is a college classmate of mine with whom I had an interesting meeting last year and who is Peak Oil aware. I made sure to send him links to several Oil Drum articles and The Hirsch Report. It remains to be seen whether the utility will back away from it's policy of instituting net billing where renewable electricity producers will be paid less than 20c/kWh for ALL the electricity they produce and be charged 40c/kWh for ALL the electricity they consume. This means that customers will have to install a production meter and still have to pay more than 20c/kWh for the electricity that their renewable system generates and that they use themselves. If they use more than they produce they will be charged 40c/kWh for the extra while if they use less than they produce they will be paid less less than 20c/kWh for the difference. A brain dead arrangement if you askme but, I don't call the shots.
The previous administration was put under considerable pressure by one of our daily newspapers that happens to owned by the same family that owns the Sandals chain of hotels and a couple of car dealerships covering the Honda, Volkswagen, Audi, Land/Range Rover and Jaguar brands. As a result, last year import duties on new cars were slashed and age restrictions on used (Japanese Domestic models) were relaxed by about a year, much to delight of all the new and used car dealerships. They claim it was necessary to revive the struggling market for automobiles, after all, we've got to get back to BAU.

Last year there was a big push by the them minister of transport to get the government owned commuter rail service running again. A major roadway that connects the capital city to population centers on the route to the north of the island, was closed to allow major pipe laying works to proceed so, the train provide a much shorter commute for people living in the area served. The road was re-opened and I have heard nothing about the train service since. Instead we get Ian Fleming International Airport expanding to accommodate larger aircraft.

In the mean time the electricity cost debate rages on in one of the local daily newspapers as can be seen from the following articles over the last three days:

Eyes on coal

"The Government talks about the use of LNG as a fuel source for Jamaica and that has been promised to Jamaica since the '90s. There is no positive indication that we are further to having LNG as an economic fuel than we were then. Until you can do something about fuel, I do not see any action that can be taken that would produce that kind of reduction to the cost to the consumer that Minister Paulwell (claims)," stated Hay during the forum. "Even with a new fuel source, I think that percentage reduction would be difficult if not impossible; even with LNG. But with coal, I believe it is a more economic fuel for Jamaica."

EDITORS' Forum: Energy crisis

With Jamaicans almost uniform in their belief that the cost of energy is retarding growth in all sectors of society, The Gleaner yesterday assembled a team of experts who had contributed to the latest edition of the Mona School of Business, MSB Business Review, for an Editors' Forum to further explore the energy issues raised in the publication.

Paulwell's pipe dream?

An ambitious forecast by Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining who calculated that the energy cost to consumers could dip significantly in four years, has failed to generate support of senior technocrats who sat in a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week.

Former head of the Office of Utilities Regulation, Winston Hay, was among the group of technocrats who described as unrealistic the scenario painted by Paulwell that this would serve to lift the Jamaican economy out of the doldrums.

"I don't see how it would be possible to reduce the cost to the consumer to the extent to which Minister Paulwell has suggested," he asserted.

JPS can lighten burden

A study by the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) offers evidence of the performance gap between Jamaica Public Service (JPS) power generation and other domestic power producers; ranks the JPS distribution operations among the least efficient in the region for total distribution losses, non-technical losses and reliability; and places JPS in the group with the highest electricity prices.

At issue is whether modifications to the current operations of JPS and changes to the orientation of regulation could deliver significant short-term benefits by way of lower electricity prices.

I think I understand how Casandra felt.

Alan from the islands

How does Jamaica generate most of its electricity? Diesel? If it is diesel, just keeping the price where it is may be a chore. If they can move to more solar & wind and keep the price steady, that would be a huge victory. Any new hydro possible?


Yep, all petroleum (96% in 2009).


Even better, they are producing alumina from locally mined bauxite. At least the alumina to aluminum step is happening off island.

I'm trying to remember if you have an alt-energy setup yourself?

That raw deal on the electric rates seems like a strong incentive to keep your PV to yourself, and just run separate power to use as much of the solar as possible, and offset all the pricey watts as possible from the utility.

Is that done? Is it allowed, or do PV setups have to be registered and grid-tied or something?


I'm experimenting with 110V 50Hz grid tied inverters which are very hard to find. I was foolishly anticipating that the powers that be would institute net meetering instead of this non-incentive that is net billing. Until that happens I plan to do exactly what you suggest, move as much of the heavy loads as possible to a solar charged battery system using just enough battery capacity to run through the night after a good day of sun. If I can set it up to use the grid as a back-up supply during overcast periods I should be in the money.

This net billing policy is brand new so there is no electrical code yet AFAIK but, I doubt they are going to be able to prohibit what I plan to do.

As far as my dad's farm house out in rural Jamaica, I am waiting for the delivery of my Outback inverter charger to set up an off grid system with grid back up for him. Spent some time last week replacing some rusted out galvanized steel rain guttering with PVC for the rainwater harvesting set up.

I'm also trying to ramp up production on the six acres so that one day, I'll be able to pay the one farm hand I've got working, out of proceeds of sales rather than out of pocket. My four specimens of African Oil palm seem to be doing OK but my single 4 year old Jatropha plant has only ever born one fruit. Everything except the weeds seems to grow so slowly and theft of produce is a problem. Don't know how the community resilience thing is going to work out if our neighbors steal produce of our property.

Alan from the islands

If you are off grid or use a switch over would 50Hz matter? I use a lot of my old 50Hz UK gear on the 60Hz supply here just fine. I do appreciate that grid tied is another issue.


This article asserts that solar PV-generated electricity (small-scale/local/individual installations) is now cheaper than diesel-generated electricity in India, due to dramatic PV panel price declines over the past year.


In India, electricity from solar is now cheaper than that from diesel generators. The news - which will boost India's "Solar Mission" to install 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022 - could have implications for other developing nations too.


Now the generators could be on their way out. In India, electricity from solar supplied to the grid has fallen to just 8.78 rupees per kilowatt-hour compared with 17 rupees for diesel.

Looking at the article, it states that the point at which PV-generated electricity becomes cheaper than diesel-generated electricity is at the 7-year point of owning/operating the PV, due to the higher initial cost for the PV vice Diesel generator kit. The article asserts a 25-year PV panel (service) life (No, this 'life' is not defined in the article...is it when the panel output drops below 80% of its rated output?).

The article states that solar PV-generated electricity is still twice as expensive as coal-generated electricity, but the author is hopeful that the gap can be narrowed in the future.

Here is a similar article about how solar PV and LED lighting, etc. is establishing market share in areas of Africa and other places in the World:


More solar PV developments in the works...


Clark stakes B.C.’s energy future on liquefied natural gas

As the contentious Northern Gateway project – a key part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s goal to take Canadian resources to Asian markets – remains under review, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is trumpeting a plan to do the same thing.

Her plan, however, involves liquefied natural gas, not oil, and so far has not faced the opposition that surrounds Northern Gateway, a twin-pipeline project that would ship oil from Alberta to Kitimat and condensate back to Alberta along the same route.

Ms. Clark’s plan calls for the world’s first LNG export facility that would run on “clean” energy and is designed to put B.C. on the forefront of global efforts to meet anticipated demand for LNG – natural gas that’s been cooled to a liquid form.

“It is an opportunity to establish an entirely new industry in British Columbia,” Ms. Clark said Friday at a news conference. “This isn’t something that happens every day and it’s not something that even happens every decade.”

Energy companies are rushing to build export facilities on the West Coast because natural gas prices are higher in Asia than in North America, where new natural gas finds have pushed prices down. In announcing a jobs plan in September, Ms. Clark said she hoped to have one such terminal online by 2015 and three by 2020.

Well, the LNG co's are certainly showing Enbridge how its done...

I'm really not sure why the LNG plants can't just burn some of the (very cheap) NG to make their LNG. A constant load like that would be a perfect match for a CCGT.

I do agree that they shouldn't be sucking up the cheap hydro from the BCH legacy facilities. And BC would need three site C's to handle all this increased load. These LNG guys should either generate their own, or they buy their own - on the PNW market, and pay the transmission costs.

Either way, I'm sure the LNG margins are still pretty good.

Yes, they certainly have had an easier time of it than Enbridge. It helps that they haven't publicized it much, and the environmental activists are not really aware of what they are doing (or would even understand it if they were aware). It hasn't really come up on the activists radar, whereas the oil sands have become something of a rallying point for them.

Kinder-Morgan is also doing a fairly good job of flying under the radar on its TransMountain Pipeline Expansion project:

Kinder Morgan edging past Enbridge in pipe race

Kinder Morgan Inc., which this year will become the largest U.S. pipeline company after its US$20.7-billion purchase of El Paso Corp., aims to extend its lead over competitors in transporting oil across Canada for export to higher-paying markets in Asia.

Kinder is pressing forward with plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline, the only conduit connecting Canada’s oil sands region to the Pacific Coast, to take advantage of regulatory setbacks that stalled competing projects at TransCanada Corp. and Enbridge Inc., both of Calgary.

Kinder, whose Houston-based pipeline partnership, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, has jumped 13% since the end of October, is seeking commitments from Canadian oil drillers so it can double the line’s capacity to 600,000 barrels a day.

I'm not sure why the LNG plants don't generate their own power from natural gas, either. The fuel costs would certainly be low. I could speculate that BC needs somewhere to get rid of their surplus hydro in high-rainfall years, but it does leave open the problem of low-rainfall years.

The LNG guys should make money on it given the high prices in Asia. The producers wouldn't be making much, though. I guess if they are the same people, it all averages out.

Yep, while all the anti-s in Vancouver have their eyes way north, KM is doing it right under their nose!
Still, it does get some attention;


As for the LNG plants, well BCH doesn't have an excess that often. Last spring/summer for sure. BUt for the rest of the time, BCH would love to have more (cheap) kWh's being generated in-province. They have a large export capacity, which isn;t being fully realised, even at peak hours.

Mind you, I think what is needed is actually more export capacity to Alberta - that is a much better market than to the south, as when BCH has lots of water, so too does the BPA.

A new trunk link through Crowsnest Pass, and then provide capacity for the wind farms around Pincher Ck, and up to Calgary. Another northern crossing wouldn't hurt either, I expect that to happen with Site C.

Even if the NG producer is the LNG exporter, I still think generating their own would pay for itself. Otherwise, they are going to be paying the market clearing rates for power, and during the day, that is high enough for NG peak plants to come on, so they might as well have their own CCGT and do it cheaper. At night, i'm not sure if they would be better to shut down or not. I suspect BCH would like them to keep running, as it is all more water behind a dam somewhere, than can be exported at peak times.

BCH could really make a lot of money for BC, if it didn't have the inconvenience of being required to sell electricity in-province!

I was bicycling back and forth over the AB/BC border at Elk Pass on the Continental Divide last summer. I was on an Alpine Club work party - we took over the Elk Lakes ranger cabin, and are managing it as an Alpine Club hut. The BC Parks rangers were a bit miffed since now they have to live in a little one-room shack with bunk beds while we rent their former lavish two-story digs out to a dozen climbers and guides at a time. BC Government cutbacks are heck, sheer heck for the formerly pampered government employees.

The electricity companies were beefing up the inter-provincial tie line over the pass at the same time, so we had to share the parking lot on the Alberta side with them. They used great big 4x4 and 6x6 trucks instead of bicycles, though, and tracked vehicles to get equipment over the pass. Interestingly, the cabin doesn't have electricity even though there is a huge high-voltage interprovincial tie line running past it. It's kind of a "between the grids" rather than "off the grid" situation.

In theory BC could use these tie lines to provide hydro power to Alberta, but the way things are going, Alberta is equally likely to provide thermal and wind power to BC. It's a question of who has the biggest shortage at any given time, I think.

Neither province has a surplus of electricity these days.