Drumbeat: February 6, 2012

Debate rages on when oil will peak

The discussion about the peak oil proposition is as lively as ever across the divide between proponents and opponents.

Peak oil is when the maximum rate of world oil production is reached and the rate enters terminal decline. The idea was proposed by King Hubbert in 1956. He accurately predicted that US oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970 and that world oil production would peak in 1995. However, it did not, due to the rise in oil prices and the persistent substitution of oil by other energy sources in the 1970s and 1980s, thus shifting the time when the peak would be reached.

Global oil demand forecasts could be cut this week

(Reuters) - The International Energy Agency may reduce its world oil demand forecast for 2012 this week due to a weaker outlook for the world economy, even though some evidence points to stronger consumption in the latter part of the year.

Oil below $97 as traders eye Greek debt talks

Traders are concerned that Greece's political leaders may fail to agree on new austerity measures demanded by international bailout rescuers if the country is to receive more bailout loans. On Monday, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will meet with negotiators from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund and then with the leaders of the three parties backing his coalition to discuss the austerity measures.

"The continued undercurrent of uncertainty regarding the threat of Greek insolvency may lead to profit-taking, especially since the oil price is at the top end of the trading corridor we have seen in recent weeks," said a report from Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Gas prices to spike 60 cents or more by May

After rising 19 cents a gallon in the past four weeks, regular unleaded gasoline now averages $3.48 a gallon, vs. $3.12 a year ago and $2.67 in February 2010.

Prices could spike another 60 cents or more by May. "I think it's going to be a chaotic spring, with huge price increases in some places," says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. Kloza expects average prices to peak at $4.05, although he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.

Saudi Aramco Raises March Oil-Price Differentials to Europe, Cuts to U.S.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, raised differentials used in determining its official selling prices for all grades to customers in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean for shipments in March.

The state-owned producer, known as Saudi Aramco, increased the premium for Arab Super Light (PGCRSRLT) crude to Asia by 10 cents a barrel to $4.20 above the average of Oman and Dubai grades, the Gulf benchmarks used by traders in Asia, while cutting Asian differentials for four other grades. Aramco reduced all premiums and discounts for U.S. buyers, the company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Europe gas supply up, but Italy says critical

The European Commission maintains the situation does not constitute a crisis, with countries being able to meet their needs using storage facilities and other market measures.

In Italy, where demand reached all-time highs following a sixth straight day of curtailed supply from Russia, Italian Industry Minister Corrado Passera described the situation as "critical" on Monday.

Putin urges Gazprom to meet cold demand

MOSCOW (UPI) -- Gazprom should do all it can to meet the natural gas demands of its European customers during a bitter cold wave, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says.

Putin, meeting with Gazprom officials Saturday in Moscow, urged the natural gas provider to meet the requests of foreign countries for higher amounts as Europe shivers through a freeze that has claimed more than 200 lives.

Gazprom Expects Narrowing Gap Between EU Natural-Gas Requests and Supply

Gazprom is supplying at the maximum capacity possible while requests for the fuel became more balanced over the weekend, an official at the export division of the world’s biggest gas producer said today by phone, asking not to be identified in line with corporate policy. While consumption tends to decline at the weekend, the trend will probably continue, he said.

Ukraine premier offers increased Russian gas transfer to Europe

Kiev - Ukraine is ready to send more gas to Europe if Russian energy company Gazprom is capable of providing it, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Monday.

'We have told them (Gazprom) that they should talk to us, we can put together a contract to help, if they see the need,' Azarov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

US energy plans pinned on gas

IN THE race to shore up energy certainty in the face of peak oil, vastly differing strategies are on the international table.

In his State of the Nation address last week, United States president Barack Obama pinned much of his nation's future to its vast gas reserves.

Tehran Won't Block Hormuz, Says Diplomat

PARIS -- Iran has no intention of blockading the Strait of Hormuz, the sea route through which about a fifth of the world's oil is shipped, a senior Iranian diplomat said Friday, downplaying threats by others in Tehran.

The remarks by Ali Ahani, Iran's ambassador to France, are in contrast with threats to close the Strait over the past six weeks that have come from legislators and some members of the country's Revolutionary Guard. Ahani's remarks suggest the country's highest authorities are not backing these threats, which could dampen oil prices that have recently risen on fears of supply disruptions.

Iran Sanctions Plan Targets Oil Companies, Tanker Fleet to Slash Business

A U.S. proposal to sanction Iran’s state-owned oil company and its main tanker fleet may ensnare any person or business in the world involved in purchasing or shipping Iranian oil.

The Abu Dhabi-owned company, which owns Cepsa, Spain's largest oil refiner, is seeking to calm fears among consumers that a phase-out of Iranian crude from European markets might aggravate the economic woes of Europe's Mediterranean nations.

Ipic would relieve Spain if embargo hit

International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) has reportedly promised to compensate Spain for any shortfalls in oil supply arising from the embargo on Iran.

Iran issues ultimatum to India over gas field

TEHRAN: Iran has given a one-month ultimatum to an Indian consortium over the development of a gas field whose delay by India has been attributed to western pressure, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

Iran oil exports: where do they go?

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz through which 20% of global oil supplies pass through. Which countries does Iran export to and how much of their crude oil supply does it make up?

China's Iran oil imports reduced again

China will reduce its crude oil imports from Iran for a third month, sources said today, as the two remain divided over payment and price terms, although they plan to meet again for talks as early as this week.

China is the top buyer of Iranian oil and also the fastest expanding major oil importer, putting it in a strong position to negotiate for better terms after it more than halved imports for both January and February.

Report: Iran navy rescues tanker from pirates

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's state TV reports that the country's navy has opened fire on pirates to foil an attack on an Iranian oil tanker near the Gulf of Aden.

Report: Key oil refinery in southern Kazakhstan damaged in blaze

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Media in Kazakhstan are reporting that a major oil-refining plant in the southern city of Shymkent has been damaged in a fire.

They say the scale of the damage is not yet clear, but the blaze may further deepen occasional fuel deficits in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

Aral Sea challenge to Kazakhstan

It seems that Gazprom chose the correct political moment to make forays into hydrocarbon reserves after the brutally quenched Andijan riots of 2005. In 2010, Gazprom Zarubezhneftegaz, a subsidiary of Gazprom, funneled US$200 million into prospective drilling of the Ustyurt fields in Uzbekistan, but with no significant results. Uzbek experts forecast gas reserves in Aral deposits at 470 billion cubic meters.

But Russians, after repeated failures to confirm these estimates, are becoming skeptical. The only plausible explanation for their staying in the Aral project seems to be the reluctance of Moscow to lose its dominant position in Uzbekistan's oil and gas sector.

Dead fish, health problems emerge as Chevron rig off Nigeria continues to burn after accident

LAGOS, Nigeria — The burning inferno of what used to be a Chevron Corp. natural gas rig still stains the night’s sky orange more than two weeks after the rig caught fire, and no one can say when it will end as swarms of dead fish surface.

The environmental damage is hitting a region whose poor still rely on the delta’s muddy waters for survival. A nearby clinic remains overrun with patients who are showing up with skin irritations and gastrointestinal problems.

Eni Nigeria Pipeline Struck by Delta Militants in ‘Sign of Things to Come’

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main armed group in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern region, attacked and damaged a pipeline belonging to a unit of Italy’s Eni SpA. (ENI)

The pipeline carries crude to an export terminal in the coastal town of Brass, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the oil-industry hub of Port Harcourt, said Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for the group also known as MEND. “This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger delta and a sign of things to come,” he said in an e-mailed statement after yesterday’s incident.

Russia oil tsar makes play for port stake - source

(Reuters) - Russia's top oil official has written to the prime minister asking the state to transfer its remaining stake in a major oil outlet to state oil company Rosneft, setting up a fight for the stake between powerful industry players.

Algeria sees problems with pipeline to Italy-paper

ALGIERS: Economic and technical problems are blocking the construction of a new gas pipeline that would link Algeria to Italy, Algeria's energy minister was quoted by a newspaper as saying, raising doubts the project will come on stream on schedule.

Italy, struggling to diversify its gas supplies to meet growing domestic demand, depends on imports for 90 percent of its natural gas. Algeria provides it with around 35 percent of its imported gas through an existing pipeline that passed through Tunisia.

Activist: 'We're really tired of talk' as rockets blast through Syrian city

(CNN) -- Intense blasts echoed through the ravaged Syrian city of Homs on Monday after a weekend bloodbath ended in hundreds of deaths there, local activists said.

"It is horrible. Especially today, it is horrible," said Abu Omar, a local activist who said the Syrian army was attacking without warning. "Usually they are using mortars. They are now using rockets in the sky. We can see them in the sky."

Months after his death, Libyan leader's weapons arm a rebel movement in Africa

BAMAKO, Mali — In life, he delighted in fomenting insurgencies in the African nations to the south. And in death, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is doing it all over again.

Hundreds of Tuareg rebels, heavily armed courtesy of Colonel Qaddafi’s extensive arsenal, have stormed towns in Mali’s northern desert in recent weeks, in one of the most significant regional shock waves to emanate directly from the colonel’s fall.

Top GOP lawmakers seek vote on Pa. gas-drilling bill framework this week

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A final framework is at hand on sweeping legislation to impose an impact fee and update safety regulations on Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry, top Republican state lawmakers say.

Tentative deal on Pennsylvania shale-gas fee

HARRISBURG - After months of wrangling behind closed doors, Gov. Corbett and Republicans who hold the majority in both legislative chambers have reached a tentative agreement to impose a fee on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

The so-called "local impact fee," which could be voted on as early as this week, would fluctuate depending on the price of natural gas and, starting in 2013, on the rate of inflation, according to a summary circulated to Republican senators during the weekend.

Natural gas tax ‘relief' would hurt

When is tax relief not a good idea?

Maybe when the tax is one of the few dependable sources of revenue for a state facing a budget deficit spiraling out of control. And particularly when abolishing the tax would provide only a nominal return to the taxpayers.

Rowdy public meeting on teens' mystery Tourette's

Some health officials have said that the outbreak of symptoms is conversion disorder, a psychological affliction that manifests itself in physical ways, such as Tourette-like tics.

But several parents do not agree with that diagnosis, and some at Saturday's meeting expressed anger that the soil around the natural gas wells on school grounds -- which had been drilled using the hydraulic fracturing method -- had not been tested, despite the fact that trees and greenery surrounding at least one of those wells has died.

Most radicalism linked to Internet, say UK lawmakers

LONDON — Internet service providers should do more to prevent the Web from playing a role in promoting violent extremism, British lawmakers said in a report published Monday.

The Internet has become an important factor in nurturing the extremist threat, surpassing universities and prisons as a place where dangerous ideas are developed and traded, the lawmakers said.

States seek currencies made of silver and gold

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A growing number of states are seeking shiny new currencies made of silver and gold.

Worried that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar are on the brink of collapse, lawmakers from 13 states, including Minnesota, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place.

"In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System ... the State's governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos," said North Carolina Republican Representative Glen Bradley in a currency bill he introduced last year.

New energy secretary confirms green targets

(Reuters) - Newly-appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey on Monday confirmed the country's commitment to its green energy targets and its focus on growing the offshore wind power generation capacities.

"There may have been a change at the helm, but there'll be no change in direction or ambition," he said at the Building Research Establishment's Innovation Park near Watford .

Wind energy: over 21% of all new power capacity in 2011

2011, 9,616 MW of wind energy capacity was installed in the EU, making a total of 93,957 MW - enough to supply 6.3% of the EU's electricity, according to figures published today by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

Representing 21.4% of new power capacity, wind energy installations in 2011 were very similar to the previous year's 9,648 MW. The wind industry has had an average annual growth of 15.6% over the last 17 years (1995-2011).

The Earth Times Asks: Should We Embrace Wind Power?

The EU climate change targets are crucial, but this is also about increasing the security of energy generation as well as the cheapest and most technologically developed renewable energy source. In terms of cost, onshore wind is competitive with coal and gas, and with a quarter of the UK's coal stations shutting down over the next five years, we will need to replace that generation. Many people suggest we should ignore wind in favour of nuclear, which vastly overestimates how quickly new power stations can be built. A few years ago, early estimates suggested that the next generation of nuclear power stations, like Bradley and Hinkley Point, could be online by 2018; but now it's unlikely they'll be up and running before 2025. Wind can be deployed considerably faster, helping us plug that gap with something more sustainable.

Solar Tariff’s Impact on U.S. Can’t Be Measured in Jobs, Professor Says

A report that concluded a tariff on importing Chinese solar panels into the U.S. would threaten more than 60,000 jobs is “nonsense,” a researcher said.

It’s impossible to accurately estimate the number of jobs that would be lost either directly, through closed factories, or indirectly, when people spend less on goods and services, said Russ Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Sanyo to Dismiss 140 Workers in California Solar Factory Closing

Sanyo Electric Co. will cut about 140 jobs and close an aging solar wafer factory in Carson, California, as it prepares to start up operations at a plant in Malaysia.

The plant, which makes the equivalent of 30 megawatts of silicon ingots and wafers for solar cells a year, will stop production next month and close in October, Masatsugu Uemura, a spokesman for Panasonic Energy Co., said by phone from Osaka. Sanyo is a unit of Panasonic Corp.

State Goes Its Own Way to Regulate Forest Roads

DENVER — A road into the piney woods can be fraught with consequences. That was the premise, more than a decade ago, behind a Clinton administration rule that restricted road building on millions of acres of national forests in the West. The so-called roadless rule, fought over in court from the start, was validated last year by a federal appeals panel, setting off a wave of euphoria among supporters and consternation among critics.

But there is a big wrinkle here in Colorado, which was one of only two states — Idaho was the other — that at the urging of the Bush administration developed their own rules about roads in the wild.

China Fires 7 Officials After Spill

BEIJING — Seven officials in southern China have been removed from their jobs in the wake of a toxic heavy metal spill that fouled drinking water supplies for tens of millions of people, the state news media reported Friday.

Shell hopes to drill this summer in the Arctic

It's the billion-dollar question in Alaska for 2012: Will this be the year Shell Oil begins large-scale offshore exploratory drilling in Arctic waters?

China Bans Airlines From Joining EU Carbon Levies System

(Bloomberg) -- China, home to the world’s fastest growing aviation market, banned airlines from taking part in a European Union carbon-emissions system designed to curb pollution, saying the program violates international rules.

Bill Gates backs climate scientists lobbying for large-scale geoengineering

A small group of leading climate scientists, financially supported by billionaires including Bill Gates, are lobbying governments and international bodies to back experiments into manipulating the climate on a global scale to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The scientists, who advocate geoengineering methods such as spraying millions of tonnes of reflective particles of sulphur dioxide 30 miles above earth, argue that a "plan B" for climate change will be needed if the UN and politicians cannot agree to making the necessary cuts in greenhouse gases, and say the US government and others should pay for a major programme of international research.

Iran to start early production at joint oilfield with Iraq

Iran will begin early production at the Yadavaran oilfield, which is associated with Iraq, by the end of the current calendar year (March 20), National Iranian Oil Company’s managing director Ahmad Qalebani said on Sunday.

The oilfield is estimated to hold around 12 billion barrels of in-situ crude oil, some 12.5 trillion cubic feet of associated gases, as well as nearly 1.9 billion barrels of condensates, ISNA news agency reported.

Iran and the Chinese Sinopec signed a buyback contract in 2007 on the development of the Yadavaran oilfield.


Megaprojects shows phase I reaching a peak of 85,000 bpd.


"Oil below $97 as traders eye Greek debt talks"

FYI: Last Friday I sold my La. crude for $108.54/bbl. That might make it easier for folks to understand: " After rising 19 cents a gallon in the past four weeks, regular unleaded gasoline now averages $3.48 a gallon, vs. $3.12 a year ago and $2.67 in February 2010."

The higher the better. The sooner the better. We need a TOD petition, maybe ASPO-USA can carry it to the Congressional staff the next time they do a dog and pony show, demanding gasoline be taxed to $6/gal for the good of the country.

Like so many things we "need", politically unobtainable.

Which is the BEAUTY of peak oil. Sooner or later, it will take care of it in a nice and tidy package. I wonder why no one seems to discuss beneficial side effects of peak oil, like this one?

I agree with that and have said so before - peak oil gives me hope, such as it is.

The handle I go by here should let you know where I stand on that question.

And for those who don't like R.E.M., the line before is, "It's the end of the world as we know it"

Yeah, back in 2008 when things they were a-changing, it was pretty fierce, facing those high prices for the first time. Nowadays they are talking about the same gasoline price levels for this summer, and it just isn't the same. We need more, higher, faster, sooner. Unless we demand, or politicians naturally, grow spines, it will just be up to the vulgarity of the marketplace.

I use to say that PO is the solution, not the problem.

But: Would it not be better if we took controll of the problem taxing consumption down in a predictable manner, rather than letting the uncertanity of the natural process be at the lead?

As others have pointed out, we don't really appear to have the choice. The politicians won't act, we won't force them to act by replacing them, so happening naturally it is!

They will then wring their hands, cry out platitudes, blame it on someone else, join in mass prayer, promise to make it better, yada yada yada. In other words, they will do nothing. So peak oil as a solution it is!

That would be good policy but it is political suicide in the USA so no pol will do that. At best we could hope for a small tax increase rationalized by the crumbling infrastructure, not good energy policy.

speculawyer, good point.
The USA federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993.

It should be quadrupled tomorrow.

This is one example of how silly a lot of US tax policy really is.

When Clinton made the last increase, to 18.4c/gal in 1993, gasoline prices were $1.17/gal, or an effective tax rate of 18.6% on the (tax free) price.

Today, with gasoline at $3.44, that 18.4c is an effective tax rate of 5.6%

The fed doesn't let income tax rates slide like that, or it would go broke.

It would have been far better to simply have the federal tax being a fixed % of the retail price, like say 15%. That would make the cost of gasoline today at $3.74 - not that much of a difference, but a huge difference in highway funding revenue...

Here in Canada, where the government loves taxes, we have both! in addition to any fixed taxes on fuel, there is also the 5%GST - (which applies to almost everything). And the way that works, the GST is actually levied on the price of fuel and all other taxes - taxes on taxes!

But, that is how the gov funds highways, health care etc...

And, unlike income taxes, you can't avoid paying it...

The fed doesn't let income tax rates slide like that, or it would go broke.

If we look at tax rates for the 1%, it kindof has. Not quite as dramatically, but almost. And they are going broke! [Technically Fed means Federal reserve, but we all know you menat the gov in general]

And, unlike income taxes, you can't avoid paying it...

Sure you can. Stop buying gasoline. While the inconvenience this may cause some will be substantial, Ford/NissanChevy/Honda all will have solutions ready to go soon, if they aren't already. Of course, the government will change the rules on electrical generation and distribution to collect fuel taxes there next I imagine, but still, for awhile, be a rebel!

Don't forget Mitsubishi. The Mitsubishi-i is not much of a vehicle and the range is a bit too short . . . but if you don't have much money to spend, it is the cheapest EV available at $21,625 after the tax-credit. If you can make it work for you, that Mitsubishi-i will drop your gasoline bill to zero. I hope they make a follow-on with a slightly larger battery.

Suburbia and EVs will be the solution to peak oil yet, mark my words.

EVs are merely one coping mechanism for some. They are no panacea and a good public transportation infrastructure must still be built. But EVs will allow the poorly designed suburbia to continue functioning even if oil prices rise sharply.

Sharply? With an EV, the entire point is to make it to work and just stop going to those nasty places with the prices listed for 3 grades of fuel out front. I've noticed the same effect while bicycling, who CARES how sharply the prices rise when you don't buy any? Sure, fuel inflation will drive up general living costs, but unlike direct fuel costs it certainly isn't a 1:1 relationship.

EVs will only ever be a small part of any solution, when the energy crunch does arrive, it'll affect everything, not just private transportation.

I agree - some of the "gentle orderly down-slope" scenarios outlined on here very regularly are quite optimistic (to say the least).

Even with a small (10%) deficit between supply and demand, people have pulled guns in the past. With a genuine supply crunch I think it will become very ugly, very quickly. The "modern" human being is not very adapted with doing without.

All scenarios predicting a gentle or rational slide down the slope are in fantasy-land, I expect.

The so-called Arab spring being a classic example. At the moment it appears that the secondary affect of supply constraint, economic decline is the catalyst of unrest. Greece could be the next firework to go off if the bailout talks fail and the Iran oil embargo is implamented.

The downside of the slope looks likely to be bumpy for many countries, some, like the US can easily smooth the slide but many European countries can't.

Some 7 years in now, and the ride "down" isn't even a ride "down" if, say, you had swapped out your gas guzzling SUV for a little hybrid to commute to work in. For those people, the ride "down" consists of saving these things called "dollars", and apparently buying iPhones, big screen TVs, maybe PVs and battery systems or windmills, to each their own, right?

If you still have a job to commute to.

You're whistling past the graveyard.

Some 7 years in now, and the ride "down" isn't even a ride "down"

That's just silly ... the seven years since the peak have been marked by an undulating (and not very downward) curve or slope - and oil prices have reflected that - although for all of us to call $100/bbl the new normal says something itself.

Sure - lots of people would have tightened their belts, driving smaller more efficient vehicles, driving less, heating their homes in better ways - and much more. But their reality is that there is no upside in some "recovery" future - and if you write on a Peak Oil website, then presumably you think that is the case too.

Peak oil happened years ago, and we haven't even gotten the energy crunch of the 70's out of it. You can only hold your breath waiting for it for so long....and after that...back to optimizing my lifestyle so that even with higher fuel costs, fewer and fewer dollars flow out the door. Others will do the same, either because they saw it coming (like most of us do), or they can afford to wait until it happens (when costs will be higher because of demand), or they will be caught out and suffer the consequences of their economic ignorance.

Ev's possibly, but I don't think so for suburbia.

It never existed before the oil age, so how/why do you think it will be a solution to peak oil?

Close proximity of necessary items humans want/need allowing commuting to work within the range limitations of current EVs. Certainly rural areas will get hurt worse than urban/suburban areas if peak oil gets around to showing up. Out in the country you have to drive 20 minutes just to get the kid to soccer practice. In urban/suburban settings, you kick them out the door, gear bag attached to bicycle. Or run them 3 minutes through small roads via EV. Proximity of stuff has its advantages.

Well, that is true, of course.

What I was getting at is that if you buy fuel, you can't avoid paying it - there are no loopholes or different rates for different people like with income tax, or capped amounts per person like payroll tax.

Neither does it require you to fill out any tax paperwork, or hire an agent to do that for you, nor for the IRS to hire someone to check it, and so on. It is a very efficient, and (almost) un-gameable way to gather tax revenue.

The fact that it encourages people to use less/no fuel is a very good side benefit.

I think for electricity that all e-cars should be taxed on the kWh used each year - that is not hard to track. Even the Volt's system can record that.

Here is a link to a chart of the Federal hwy taxes, for different fuels. Suprisingly methanol (M85) is on there, even though it is no longer used, and hydrogen is not, even though it is being used (in minute quantities).


That said, I think we will see methanol being used again very soon, but, hopefully, hydrogen will stay off the roads...

Why not just tax all vehicles by miles driven ..
Then you don't care what the specific fuel is ..
You pay your bill at the DMV ..

Triff ..

It should be a combination of miles driven and weight since it is the weight that causes the wear on the roads. Ton-miles would be the answer.

Actually it is weight to a nontrivial power (like what 5 or 7). So a hummer is at least twenty times as hard on the road as a subcompact. And an eighteen wheeler, well....

I've mentioned this before: A tax on tires. It sounds silly, but isn't that - literally and figuratively - where the rubber meets the road? It would even apply to bicycle tires, thus silencing critics who claim that they (cyclists) don't pay "their share". The tax would increase as does the tire size. A little Smart Car tire's tax would be way less than, say, a big Hummer tire's tax. A fat, knobby mountain bike tire's tax would also be more than the tax on a skinny racing bicycle tire. Any thoughts on this?

It is not a crazy idea, but it has some issues. You rarely change tires, so it would have to be an awfully large lump sum. And people would become quite artful at dodging the tax by taking drives to Mexico or Canada and returning with brand new tires on their car.

I don't think it would work.

Regarding EV road use taxes, EVs definitely have to pay their fair share eventually. But right now, the number of EVs is so small that the amount of money you would collect would probably not even pay for the bureaucracy to collect the tax. For now, I'd not bother collecting the tax and leave it as another incentive for people to buy EVs. In a few years, just add a $150 "road use" fee for EVs in their annual registration. Ultimately, some tax should be collected based on miles driven and the weight of the vehicle (since weight is very proportional to road damage). This could be done with odometer readings or something.

It was EVs that got me thinking about all of this. There was quite a flap last year, when some politico said that EVs should be taxed, since there would be no fuel taxes collected from them. The cars were barely out of the gate, and people wanted to make them even more expensive with a special tax! Anyway, that's when I thought about the tire issue: road use taxes levied on the tires. Bigger vehicles, bigger tires, more road wear (thus lowering the burden on EVs, as they are smaller, with smaller tires), thus taxes paid accordingly.

All this is merely thinking out loud, as, like Speculawyer pointed out, it certainly has some issues.

It's really difficult to log miles driven by every vehicle per year - almost impossibly hard. I think you can only charge on vehicle weight, and setting the rates in a realistic way against road damage, and leave it at that. Or add in different annual rates for Hybrids and EVs - but don't make it too complicated.

The federal budget is around 1 trillion dollars. About 5.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were released in 2008 by the US (figures from US EPA). So a tax of $175 per metric ton of carbon dioxide would allow the US to eliminate the income tax and would move us quickly to a lower carbon energy system.

What would this do to gas prices? One US Gallon produces about 8.17 kg of CO2, so 122.4 gallons of gasoline will produce 1000 kg (or 1 metric ton) of CO2. Thus $175/122.4 = $1.43 carbon tax per gallon of gasoline.

The tax would need to rise over time to account for reduced fuel use and all carbon fuels (oil products, natural gas, and coal) would be taxed based on their carbon dioxide emissions. It would have to be phased in over 5 years.

Start at $12/tonne and double the tax every year for 5 years while gradually phasing out a flat income tax over the same time frame.

When the tax gets to a level that gives an appropriate rate of reduction in carbon emissions it can be maintained by increases that match GDP growth and income taxes or a VAT can be phased in.

What rate of carbon dioxide reduction is appropriate?

Current climate research suggests that cumulative carbon emissions from all sources (including land use change and cement production) from 1750 to 2200 should be one trillion metric tons of carbon (3.67 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide) or less to result in a 50 % probability of maintaining global mean temperatures at less than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures. (see http://trillionthtonne.org/ )

Most feasible pathways suggest a reduction to 50 % of 1990 emissions by 2050 so this would be the appropriate level to aim for at minimum. From an equity standpoint US per capita emissions are double that of Europe and in reality we should be aiming for a reduction to 25% of 1990 emissions by 2050.

In 1990 US CO2 emissions were about 5 billion tonnes(metric tons) so we should aim for 1.25 tonnes by 2050 which would require a a reduction to 2008 levels over the 5 year phase in from 2015 to 2019 an then a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions each year from 2020 to 2050.

I realize that this would never happen in the US. I don't know how the Europeans accomplished the level of carbon taxes that exist there, it must be that a parlimentary system is necessary.


Federal budget is a lot more than $1 trillion. The budget deficit is around $1.5 trillion.
Total spending = tax revenue + deficit

Federal budget is around $4.5 trillion out of which the tax revenue is around $3 trillion and the rest is borrowed.

You are correct. My apologies. Multiply my proposed tax by 5. I was trying to match tax revenue which was around 2 trillion in 2010 (only off by a factor of two :) ). You are correct however that it would make sense to cover the budget deficit as well so I am increasing from 4.5 to 5 to make it a round number and the total budget is likely to be higher by 2015. Thanks for the correction.

So $877/ tonne CO2, start at $50/tonne in 2015 and double every year for 5 years. 50,100,200,400,800, then a 10% rise each year thereafter until we get the rate of reduction needed to reach 1.25 billion tonnes CO2 by 2050.


Why can't the US Federal Government frame a budget that matches revenue ... dozens of other countries can do it - and do it every year. Got me puzzled. Although most other nations don't have big military assets in a hundred other countries either, I guess.

Some of the deficit results from lower income during the current recession. Some is the result of wars with no tax increases. Also US politicians will agree to cut taxes and say they will cut government spending, but when it comes down to specific cuts no agreement can be reached. A particularly strange feature of the US legislature is that if 41 Senators can agree to block legislation (in a body of 100 Senators) then no action is taken. Currently conservatives control one body of the legislature (House of Representatives with 435 members) and liberals control the Senate, but conservatives have had the 41 votes needed to block legislation in the Senate since 2009 so little can be accomplished. The current 2 party system in the US has become quite polarized and there are very few moderates in the legislature.


Of course, any 'small' tax would be spent on 'improving' the ICE infrastructure, leading to higher use of oil. Some facet of Jevon's paradox, I suppose.

In the US of A, we are hypnotized by our vehicles and highways. They have become symbon of "American Freedom." Plus of course, everyone knows that the larger your car the larger your ... well, anyway, it is total insanity by any definition. We keep doing the same thing, waiting for a different result.

Best hopes for a gas tax (gax) that actually reduces useage.


I watched a movie last night, which was set in London in 1965.
It was amazing to see how fewer vehicles of all types were on the roads.
These weren't scenes where the roads had been cleared for the sake of the movie to be shot but just general location establishing views.
Truly stunning how much more "livable" it looked even that relatively short time ago.

Well, London could be going back to the light vehicle traffic of 1965 now that North Sea oil production is in steep decline and the cost of imported oil is rising.

I don't know if Londoners are mentally prepared for the transition though. Technically, it won't be that hard since they still have the "Tube" and the double-decker buses.

True, though even now, with the cost of petrol so much higher than the 'States, the quantity of SUV's (Range Rovers, Audis, Lexus, Mercedes even Porsche!) is very obvious. Completely crazy and even more out of scale than here.
The lust for oversized vehicles isn't just an American affliction.
But it is still much easier to get around there without a vehicle than any other American major city, except maybe Manhattan or Chicago, in my experience, anyway.

In Sweden I have seen an explosion in shiny new oversized cars just the last few years. It is like the crisis of 2008 never happened, and new oil fields are discovered every day, and there are no climate change. Crazy, just crazy.

The Irish Times - Friday, February 3, 2012 : Number of cars entering city at its lowest since figures began

The greatest number of trips into the city centre each morning are made by car with 60,607 between 7am and 10am on a typical day in 2011. Car commuting was at its highest level in 1997 at 73,561 and steadily decreased until 2005 when trips fell to 60,600.

Car numbers increased again up until 2009 but have been falling since with the 2011 figure 3.6 per cent lower than when the count was taken in 2010. Over the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011 the volume of cars coming into the city during the morning fell by almost 11 per cent.

While the number of car commuters has been reasonably stable, one of the biggest changes in commuting patterns has been the increase in cycling. Over the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011 the volume of cyclists entering the city during the morning peak between 7am and 10am rose by just over 35 per cent.

Cycling numbers hit a low of 3,941 in 2004, but since then numbers steadily increased, reaching a peak in 2011 of 6,870 – a more than 15 per cent increase on 2010.

The M50 motorway that surrounds Dublin was completely rebuilt during 2008-10 and is now used by an increasing number of vehicles , it used to be so bad that commuters would go through the city instead of using the M50.

Most commuters into Dublin still come in from outlying town, many travel 30km or more.

From the same source (working link):

The number of buses travelling into the centre was also down last year...

So a few more are cycling, but (unsurprisingly) there's no apparent switch from cars to buses. So is it simply recession taking business in general down? Or have they made it so inconvenient/expensive to enter the city that business owners who don't need a prestige address are relocating elsewhere?

As Ireland is one of the PIIGS, we have seen a very sharp downturn in most areas of business. So, yes, much of the traffic reductions is simply down to fewer journeys, not swiching transport modes.

On top of fuel tax rates approaching 200% London also has a congestion charge for almost all vehicles entering the centre of the city, of about $10 a day, 5 days a week. Electric, hybrid and the most fuel efficient diesel cars are exempt.

Traffic is monitored by CCTV and automatic number plate recognition. You register your vehicle in advance, or face heavy fines if you enter without paying.

The largest defaulter on these fines is the US embassy which refuses to pay on principal.

Cycling has become more popular.

[edit] I forgot to add there is also an annual tax on all cars, which is proportional to its nominal fuel consumption (actually CO2 emissions).

It starts at zero for very efficient (about 50+ US mpg) cars (like mine), to about $700 for guzzlers.

London is stuffed full of guzzlers. I even saw a Hummer last year.

We lived in Notting Hill, London, in 1964-1965 and there was plenty of parking in our road, Chepstow Place. We went back for a visit in 1973. The house where we'd lived in a flat on the middle floor had been converted into a spiffy one-family dwelling, and the street was jammed with cars -- perhaps people from the suburbs parking to take the nearby Underground.

In the US of A, we are hypnotized by our vehicles and highways. They have become symbon of "American Freedom."


I wish this was only a USian pathology, unfortunately it has spread to most of the world. I took these pictures yesterday around 10:00AM local time in Sao Paulo when the morning rush hour has already ended!




Ah, more memories, can't see any orange haze there though. Rush hour in Sao is something else.


We will burn everything, everywhere in order to keep the status quo. No carbon tax, fuel tax, "green" pressure, moral stance, etc. is going to stop us from our most basic programming - survival.

So, you can forget about Kyoto 2, Copenhagen 2 or Gore 2.0. Humanity must learn this the hard way.

The Great Lesson - Exponential growth in a finite system is impossible in perpetuity

The ride down the fossil fuel bell curve is not going to be fun but balance will be achieved. The only question is, will we have learned The Great Lesson and changed how we view our place on Earth and the resources we have access to. Will we still try to "spend" everything in one spree or learn to coordinate with those around us and decide on population numbers and resource use that allow everyone to live at peace. This remains to be seen. It may be like asking a chimpanzee to design a spaceship. Our brains may not be powerful enough for that task, no matter how superior we think we are.

Our scientists and engineers are more than up to the task. That is not where the problem lies. The problem lies in political disagreement, denialism, greed, superstition, ignorance, wishful thinking, etc.

If there were a benevolent dictator, I think a relatively smooth transition could occur. But instead we have fractured system with different nation-states and each nation-state with different political tribes. The various factions cannot even agree upon the basic facts. And many of the basic facts are not known. So we will be forced to muddle through. I think we will have a transition but it will not be smooth.

Funny how you automatically made a technology / brain power connection. In fact, I was talking about exactly your other argument, our social abilities. Can we even figure out how to work together and get critical mass agreement on the solution?

To me, the solution is very simple yet impossible to implement. Population control and resource use balance. So simple! However, can the human mind, in concert with all the other human minds not only figure this out but effectively plan and manage such a system? It appears unlikely.

I see no shame in this. A whale cannot design and build an office building, a queen ant cannot decide to perform a new social function like helping suffering human children and we humans may not be able to come together to maintain a high energy gap society without the gift of fossil fuels.

Just look at how most of the world lives, either in stifling poverty or addicted to non-renewable resources. Even if great communities arise that work well, can they be protected from all the others that do not agree with the "balanced" way of life? Human history is full of such resource wars.

It is easier to take than to create. It requires far less energy and that is one of our basic programming modes - energy conservation.

Looking from the outside, I see humans running around, putting out fires, starting fires, finding problems, trying to solve problems but so few come to, and live by the real solution - living at balance with nature in such a way that the resources can be utilized for thousands if not millions of years and that life is respected and valued. I question if the human mind can even bridge that gap.

If there were a benevolent dictator...

Aye, and if only magic unicorns existed. But there's the rub, benevolent dictators don't exist, or at least not for long - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There was this roman general who marched against Rome and made himself Dictator. Then he established a bunch of reforms to shape up the empire as to what he thought was best, and then, resigned. He spent the rest of his life at his country side estate. Sorry I don't remember his name.

Exceedingly rare though - not scalable. Usually, like politicians in general, they're messiahs, saviors, in their own eyes. So, where there is no rule of law, they hardly ever let go; they die or are killed while in office. And there's a fair chance they'll go completely off the messianic deep end and kill a lot of people while in office.

Reading Roman history is so enlightening as to one's own ignorance... all these completely unfamiliar places and names... yet, a familiar story is told with them.


"Internally, the empire faced hyperinflation caused by years of coinage devaluation... This currency had almost no value by the end of the third century and trade was carried out by barter...

The measure of wealth at this time began to have less to do with wielding urban civil authority and more to do with controlling large agricultural estates in rural regions, since this guaranteed access to the only economic resource of real value—agricultural land and the crops it produced. The common people of the Empire lost economic and political status to the land-holding nobility, and the commercial middle classes waned along with their trade-derived livelihoods."

Interesting link. Thanks.

Rather than import manufactured goods from the empire's great urban areas, they began to manufacture many goods locally, often on their own estates, thus beginning the self-sufficient "house economy" that would become commonplace in later centuries, reaching its final form in the Middle Ages' manorialism.

The beginning of going "local". Which then apparently reverts into feudalism?

Its certainly possible. More often then not, they are corrupted by power. Probably even more by their attempt to secure their power, which never feels secure, always potential enemies to eliminate.

Will we still try to "spend" everything in one spree or learn to coordinate with those around us and decide on population numbers and resource use that allow everyone to live at peace.

Well, TT, we have a past history of burning virtually all of the available fuel. Why would you think we would change? I imagine that when FFs are impossible for most, we will be burning all the trees, bushes, grasses, houses, and so forth. Until there is nothing left. Check out Easter Island for a preview. Except there are no European voyagers to find our wasted lands.

Best hopes for new islands.


Yes, I agree with you that humans will burn everything, everywhere. It is our nature.

I'm pretty sure I could make a car that ran on asphalt.

Do be very careful with Wikipedia as a source for Easter Island. At some points in time, all reference to an environmental disaster disappear. Then, they return. Presently, the environmental issue is only alluded to. A war is being fought on Wikipedia with lots of revisionist history being enforced by interested parties. "Those who control the past..."

Hi Bruce and Friends,

Could you please take a look at this?


If it looks like it's been there for a while - it has. If it appears to be the work of dedicated amateurs - *please* do contact us and lend a hand!

The original idea is the brainchild of a professor of public policy (now retired), who said that the National Academy of Sciences can do a fast-track study, with special emphasis on impacts and policy options (see above site). And essentially deliver the bad news/good news (I mean being able to cope in a "less bad" manner is good news, IMVHO) - take the onus off the politicians, who most likely will not take action, as you say.

Right now, even local communities and municipalities lack an objective, credible scientific finding upon which to base action. To me, all the "act local" folks don't realize that local politics are most often - always? - a mirror of the troubles on the larger scale.

Anyhow - this is doable, simple and can work. The NAS is set up to be objective. They have avenues for consideration of the work on relevant topics, such as that of our favorite analysts who post on this site.

What's not to love? :)

Brent is at about $115, as we are seeing the WTI/Brent spread widen again, to about $18. Life continues to be good for Mid-continent refiners, until the Canadian oil producers are able to get access to the global market.

A more accurate headline would be:

"Brent crude oil prices rise to $115, on political unrest and because of a long term decline in Global Net Exports of oil."

"After months of wrangling behind closed doors, Gov. Corbett and Republicans who hold the majority in both legislative chambers have reached a tentative agreement to impose a fee on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale."

I was truly shocked a while back to learn that PA has never had a severance or production tax on oil/NG. Texas and La have had both for decades. In fact even the counties in Texas tax oil/NG production directly. Not only do these taxes pay for the Texas Rail Road Commission to regulate the oil patch but fund other projects like plugging wells left by bankrupt operators. In fact, at one time these taxes and the royalties collected from state lands funded the entire Texas university system....my tuition in grad school at Texas A&M seldom ran more than $300 a semester. Between the two states we're talking tens of $billions over the years. Based upon the stats those taxes didn't seem to deter companies from drilling in either state.

I read that the new R gov of PA ran on "no new taxes" pledge but sometimes one must let plain common sense rule the situation.

I read that the new R gov of PA ran on "no new taxes" pledge but sometimes one must let plain common sense rule the situation.

The governor was no doubt under enormous pressure from the local governments. The local governments (city, county) are the ones that have their roads pounded to pieces, who struggle with increased crime, etc. Cities and counties are often forbidden to impose their own severance taxes, hence are dependent on the state to collect and share money. County commissioners (or their equivalent) usually have a significant amount of behind-the-scenes political influence on state reps and the governor.

While I was in graduate school at UT-Austin, the explanation I got about the oil money was that it wasn't derived from the state severance tax, but rather from the landowner royalties. Early on, Texas set aside a couple million acres (mostly in West Texas), the income from which was to fund the university system. In the 1920s, they discovered the big oil and gas fields out there.

From the last article on Gates' involvement in geoengineering schemes:

"There are clear conflicts of interest between many of the people involved in the debate," said Diana Bronson, a researcher with Montreal-based geoengineering watchdog ETC.

"What is really worrying is that the same small group working on high-risk technologies that will geoengineer the planet is also trying to engineer the discussion around international rules and regulations. We cannot put the fox in charge of the chicken coop."

"The eco-clique are lobbying for a huge injection of public funds into geoengineering research. They dominate virtually every inquiry into geoengineering. They are present in almost all of the expert deliberations. They have been the leading advisers to parliamentary and congressional inquiries and their views will, in all likelihood, dominate the deliberations of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as it grapples for the first time with the scientific and ethical tangle that is climate engineering," said Clive Hamilton, professor of Public Ethics at the Australian National University, in a Guardian blog.

The scientists involved reject this notion. "Even the perception that [a small group of people has] illegitimate influence [is] very unhealthy for a technology which has extreme power over the world. The concerns that a small group [is] dominating the debate are legitimate, but things are not as they were," said Keith. "It's changing as countries like India and China become involved. The era when my voice or that of a few was dominant is over. We need a very broad debate."

I far more concerned about the involvement of tar sands magnate Murray Edwards than I am about Gates.

"I far more concerned about the involvement of tar sands magnate Murray Edwards than I am about Gates."

Yeah, it's a bit like a sex club owner promoting a cure for AIDS.

I have concluded that some attempt at geoengineering will happen eventually, and I expect the cure to be worse than the disease. However, I see no way that it can be prevented - it does not even need to be discussed or announced.

"However, I see no way that it can be prevented - it does not even need to be discussed or announced."

Good point. If companies and countries can use the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for all sorts of other pollutants, I can't see why any of these that have the means and the will wouldn't just start doing this unilaterally.

And I agree that it is likely to cause more problems than it avoids.

I'd argue it'd already happening on at least a small scale. Countries do cloud seeding and the like - just because what is done occurs over one countries territory does not mean the effects are limited.

With Bill Gates et al, involvement we can expect a giant message appearing in the sky someday soon that will say:

"An error has occurred while trying to geoengineer the climate, please reboot the planet"... followed by a giant 'Blue screen of Death'

Ha +10

Blue screen of death.

Post of the day!

I wonder how many people would then want to move to "Macworld"...

Never! I'm waiting for the open source world! You can make the sky be any color you want if you look up the proper magic text strings on the internet and recompile the planet's core.

'Blue screen of Death'

Nice! :))

But... wouldn't it be the "Blue Sky of Death"?

Just askin'... :P

and can you imagine the viruses? What if there is a DDoS?


I don't think on can do it on the sly, only large scale efforts will have an effect, and it will be obvious someone is doing something.

Oh, it may well be obvious, but that doesn't mean we'll have input to the decisions nor much ability to do anything about it.

Thought occurs, how do you know it hasn't already?

After all, temps haven't risen as previously expected over the preceding decades - so maybe there is the inverse of a master villain out there - absorbing and fixing CO2 from the atmosphere in secret, because getting agreement would get too political and long winded?

It may well be that it's already occurring, either intentionally or as a by-product of other things (the latter almost certain). But thermodynamics tells me it isn't "absorbing and fixing CO2 from the atmosphere", and indeed that is the fundamental problem of trying to fix this problem with geo-engineering. The CO2 got there because it was released when we broke the carbon bonds in the fossil fuels, and you cannot put it back without putting (more than) the energy back. Therefore whatever is done cannot address the actual problem but must band-aid it using some other process to address one of the symptoms instead, and causing in turn other bad side effects that do not overlap.

Temperature rises sharply at Fukushima reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a spike in temperature in the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Feb. 5, forcing it to increase the volume of cooling water there as a precautionary step.

TEPCO said cooling water may not have reached part of the fuel in the reactor’s pressure vessel while it switched to different piping for injecting water and changed the volume of water.

According to TEPCO, a thermometer at the bottom of the pressure vessel measured 71.7 degrees as of 4 p.m. Feb. 5, up from 52 degrees on Feb. 1.

...TEPCO will analyze gas in the reactor within a few days to check whether a chain of nuclear fission has occurred again in the melted fuel.

Tepco is going to inject boric acid

On the press conference of 2/6/2012 PM, Tepco announced they are going to add 960 Kg of boric acid tonight in JST.

For the brief report, the amount of Xe135 is ND, (≦ 1Bq/cm3) which denies the possibility of recriticality.

However, they are going to inject 960 kg of boric acid and increase the amount of water by 3 tones.

The reason why they need to add boric acid is not explained.

Injecting Boric Acid suggests TEPCO are definitely worried about criticality.

I wonder how many wealthy people in Japan, who could live anywhere they want to, and expatriates are quietly heading for the exits.

Such has been reported on.

Sure does look like something's happening, but then it's only a matter of time until the other shoe drops there.

I've also found the reports about the recent smaller magnitude earthquakes interesting.

Japan to Measure Radiation Levels in No-Fly Zone around Fukushima Plant

Tokyo, Feb. 6 (BNA) - Japan''s government will measure radiation levels around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as a step toward revising the no-fly zone over the site. No aircraft has been allowed to fly within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant since the nuclear accident, according to Japan''s (NHK WORLD) website.
Japanese government says it will revise the no-fly zone as it confirmed in December that the nuclear reactors have now reached a state of cold shutdown.

Starting Monday and continuing for several days, helicopters flying at an altitude of about 300 meters will collect air samples around the plant to measure radiation levels.

Nice cover story

You say that as if they shouldn't be doing exactly what they claim to be.

Right. After all, it's in cold shutdown, so let's take some air samples before we sound the all-clear and send everyone back home.

Or not cold shutdown?

Temperature at No.2 reactor remains high

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says there is a need for a comprehensive study to determine whether the reactor is actually in a state of cold shutdown.

It says a brief reading of over 80 degrees on one of the thermometers does not necessarily mean there is trouble in the cooling system.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission, Haruki Madarame, says that a recurrence of nuclear criticality is unlikely.

But he criticized TEPCO and the nuclear safety agency for their handling of the matter. He says they are failing to properly explain the state of the reactors to the people.

Webcam watchers have noticed that while TEPCO talks about Reactor 2, The remains of Reactor 3 and/or 4 appear to have been steaming away in the cold air periodically the last couple of days.

Webcam watchers have noticed that while TEPCO talks about Reactor 2, The remains of Reactor 3 and/or 4 appear to have been steaming away in the cold air periodically the last couple of days.

Thankfully this is the Internet Age, and social media (youtube and such) help the average citizen disseminate/share news/information themselves.

For example: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fukushima+radiation

I believe you've taken the position that its not a problem. Therefore - no need for such an action.

The reason why they need to add boric acid is not explained.

Injecting Boric Acid suggests TEPCO are definitely worried about criticality.

Just to help clarify these above comments for any TODers who don't understand the significance of this action by TEPCO: when a nuclear reactor is running normally, the control rods are raised or lowered into the core to control the rate of the reaction, which is driven by the number of neutrons coming from the fuel rods (which are adjacent to the control rods, or to the spaces that the control rods occupy when they are inserted).

The more neutrons that interact with the fissionable fuel, the faster the rate of reaction, i.e., nuclear fission, which generates heat.

The fewer neutrons, the slower the reaction.

It's been well known for some time thatboron is a very efficient neutron absorber. If TEPCO is planning to add boric acid (i.e., a souce of boron atoms) to the core, in whatever state it is now in, it is undoubtedly because the rate of fission in the damaged core is on the rise, and as Undertow says, it's because TEPCO is worried about criticality, i.e., the instant that a nuclear chain reaction in a mass of fissile material becomes self-sustaining, even for an instant.

Xenon 135 is a very efficient neutron absorber. The presence of large amounts of Xe135 means the reactor can't go critical. For now. Xe135 is also unstable, decaying to something else. So TEPCO is worried about what happens when the xenon goes away so they are adding boric acid. Just in case.

Xe135 is currently listed by TEPCO as "ND" - Not Detected. Although TEPCO has a habit of "revising" their reports but that's what they are saying at the moment.

robert2734 - there is a counter claim to your position. Where is the idea that Xe135 is there when it is not being detected?

Bor is like the number one Ozon killer. Much worse than the clorides we all worried about in the 80ies and 90ies. Once I learnt this fact, I asked my brother about it. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry. Then he told me they have a special lab at work for work with boron. No metal is alowed. You can for example not wear jeans, since they have metal parts. Things like spoons and such are covered with a mineral coating (I don't know the english word for this), they replace everything metallic with cheramics, plastics etc. Bor eats metall.

And Ozon. If they pour this out, they are desperate.

Boric acid is a solid with moderate solubility in water. It does not escape into the atmosphere in any major quantities from the use in a nuclear power plant, or Fukushima.

Bromofluorocarbons (BFCs) are used as flame retardants (?) among other things and are volatile. These escape and follow the CFC (freon) path in the atmosphere and contribute to
ozone hole etc.

There should be no environmental effects from the use of boric acid (itself) at Fukushima, thus.

Bor is like the number one Ozon killer. Much worse than the clorides we all worried about in the 80ies and 90ies. Once I learnt this fact, I asked my brother about it. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry. Then he told me they have a special lab at work for work with boron.

What the heck is he talking about? I only have a bachelor's degree in chemistry, but I've never heard anything like that.

Boric acid, also called hydrogen borate or boracic acid or orthoboric acid or acidum boricum, having chemical formula H3BO3, is a weak acid of boron often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant, as a neutron absorber, and as a precursor of other chemical compounds. It exists in the form of colorless crystals or a white powder and dissolves in water. Sometimes written B(OH)3. When occurring as a mineral, it is called sassolite.


The free acid is found native in certain volcanic districts such as Tuscany, the Lipari Islands and Nevada, issuing mixed with steam from fissures in the ground; it is also found as a constituent of many minerals (borax, boracite, boronatrocaicite and colemanite). The presence of boric acid and its salts has been noted in seawater. It also exists in plants and especially in almost all fruits.

Nuclear power

Boric acid is used in nuclear power plants as a neutron poison to slow down the rate at which fission is occurring. Fission chain reactions are generally driven by the amount of neutrons present (as products from previous fissions). Natural boron is 20% boron-10 and about 80% boron-11. Boron-10 has a high cross-section for absorption of low energy (thermal) neutrons. By adding more boric acid to the reactor coolant which circulates through the reactor, the probability that a neutron can survive to cause fission is reduced. Therefore, changes in boric acid concentration effectively regulate the rate of fission taking place in the reactor. This method is only used in pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Boron is also dissolved into the spent fuel pools containing used uranium rods. The concentration is high enough to keep neutron multiplication at a minimum.


Based on mammalian median lethal dose (LD50) rating of 2,660 mg/kg body mass, boric acid is poisonous if taken internally or inhaled in large quantities. The Thirteenth Edition of the Merck Index indicates that the LD50 of boric acid is 5.14 g/kg for oral dosages given to rats, and that 5 to 20 g/kg has produced death in adult humans. The LD50 of salt is reported to be 3.75 g/kg in rats according to the Merck Index.

Long term exposure to boric acid may be of more concern, causing kidney damage and eventually kidney failure (see links below). Although it does not appear to be carcinogenic, studies in dogs have reported testicular atrophy after exposure to 32 mg/kg bw/day for 90 days. This level is far lower than the LD50.

Okay, maybe the scientists are worried about the effects if they are handling the stuff every day. If you're a chemist you are always worried about what stuff is doing to your testicles. But, I wouldn't worry about the Ozone Layer being in danger.


We are having trouble with this, something is getting lost in the translation. Maybe you could put it up in Swedish and we can crack it? Perhaps use the chemical symbols?


No big problem. Here it goes as I understand it.

Bromofluorocarbons are a much worse threat to ozon than is the clorine based freon (are they called freons in english?). Now it is not the molecule itself that is the threat to the ozon, but the very cloride or bromide atom itself. Once up in the atmosphere, the atom dislodge from the molecule and vreck havoc on the ozons.

But as I was informed above, the bromide acidics are in a stable form and therefore do not enter the atmosphere. So the ozon layer can live another day. I was very calmed down by that piece of information.

You are confusing Boron and Bromine.


Boron ( /ˈbɔərɒn/) is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid.

The major industrial-scale uses of boron compounds are in sodium perborate bleaches, and the borax component of fiberglass insulation. ...

Natural boron is composed of two stable isotopes, one of which (boron-10) has a number of uses as a neutron-capturing agent.

In biology, borates have low toxicity in mammals (similar to table salt), but are more toxic to arthropods and are used as insecticides. Boric acid is mildly antimicrobial, and a natural boron-containing organic antibiotic is known. Boron is essential to life.

Boric acid

Boric acid, also called hydrogen borate or boracic acid or orthoboric acid or acidum boricum, having chemical formula H3BO3 , is a weak acid of boron often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant, as a neutron absorber, and as a precursor of other chemical compounds. It exists in the form of colorless crystals or a white powder and dissolves in water.


Bromine ( /ˈbroʊmiːn/ broh-meen or /ˈbroʊmɨn/ broh-min; from Greek: βρῶμος, brómos, meaning "stench (of he-goats)")[2] is a chemical element with the symbol Br, an atomic number of 35, and an atomic mass of 79.904. It is in the halogen element group.

At high temperatures, organobromine compounds are easily converted to free bromine atoms, a process which acts to terminate free radical chemical chain reactions. This makes such compounds useful fire retardants and this is bromine's primary industrial use, consuming more than half of world production of the element. The same property allows volatile organobromine compounds, under the action of sunlight, to form free bromine atoms in the atmosphere which are highly effective in ozone depletion. ...

Bromine has no essential function in mammals, though it is preferentially used over chloride by one antiparasitic enzyme in the human immune system.

Hydrobromic acid

Hydrobromic acid is a strong acid formed by dissolving the diatomic molecule hydrogen bromide (HBr) in water. "Constant boiling" hydrobromic acid is an aqueous solution that distills at 124.3 °C and contains 47.6% HBr by weight, which is 8.89 mol/L. Hydrobromic acid has a pKa of −9, making it a stronger acid than hydrochloric acid, but not as strong as hydroiodic acid. Hydrobromic acid is one of the strongest mineral acids known.

"You are confusing Boron and Bromine."

I think I may...

In swedish, they are named "bor" and "brom". An easy mix-up if you don't take care.

Ah, thanks. I had a feeling it was bromine you were talking about but didn't have much time to check it out, had some welding to finish:)


Boron is a common ingredient in soaps. Anybody here remember the future politician who used to advertise "20 mule-team Boraxo" on television?

Link up top: Debate rages on when oil will peak

Even Opec, in its last World Oil Outlook published in 2011, forecast that conventional oil supplies would increase from 69.8 million bpd in 2010 to 74.1 million in 2035 and that the rest of the world's oil demand would be met by non-conventional oil, natural gas liquids (NGL), biofuels and, finally, by gas and coal to liquid products. At least in direction, the Opec forecast points to the validity of the peak oil theory.

OPEC predicts conventional oil, whatever that is, will rise by 4.3 mb/d in 25 years. That ain't much folks. They are saying in effect "don't look to OPEC for any grand increase in production" Well that is exactly where the EIA, the IEA and BP are looking. Here is what BP is predicting in their Energy Outlook:

	                2010	2030	Diff.	Percent Ch.
North America	        13.02	15.83	2.81	21.62%
S & C America	         7.03	 9.59	2.57	36.51%
Europe & Eurasia	17.14	15.87  -1.26	-7.36%
Middle East	        23.79	33.06	9.27	38.98%
Africa	                 9.60	 9.99	0.39	 4.06%
Asia Pacific	         8.02	 6.25  -1.77   -22.07%
Total Oil Production^ 	78.59	90.61  12.01	15.28%

They are looking for a 9.27 mb/d increase just from the Middle East, more from OPEC Africa and Venezuela. It looks like everyone expects OPEC to dramatically increase production except OPEC.

Ron P.

Good summary Ron

I also found it interesting that this article suggesting that there is merit to the "peak oil argument" was published in Gulf News but also written by the former head of Energy Studies for OPEC.

Ron - I'll jump in before westexas can:"forecast that conventional oil supplies would increase from 69.8 million bpd in 2010 to 74.1 million in 2035". Interesting phrasing: didn't say they would be exporting 74.1 mmbo/day...just implying they would be producing that much. Indonisia once exported oil and still produces a fair bit. But, between decline and ELM, they are no longer a net exporter of oil. Given some of the projections of ELM how much of that 74.1 mmbopd will be exported from those producing countries? And of that net oil who will be receiving that exported oil? Some of that oil won't be on the open market for sale: it may be going directly to its owner...such as China.

IMHO such statements are intended to take advantage expectations of many importing countries that just because XX mmbopd will be produced they'll get a share they want/need. It's also interesting to note that their prediction also implies a prolonged plateau. A plateau we've already seen cause significant volatility. When we see a consistent decline in gross oil production may not be as important as the fact that above ground factors will have huge impacts on the plateau IMHO. And isn't that's what the concern over PO is based upon: not so much a volumetric number or date but the impact on the various societies? Are not the world's economies/govt struggling to deal with peak plateau today? And even with no decline won't ELM and inground reserve acqusition make matters even worse?

And given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless they cut internal consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a rate faster than the rate of decline in production, the net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time. To modify the title of Heinlein book, "Net export math is a harsh mistress."

Do they seriously think they can keep conventional oil production, at essentially the same rate it is now, over the next 25 years? Does anyone take that seriously?

apparently exxon-mobil takes that seriously because they are saying pretty much the same, even up 2040:


Condensate trade will reshape crude, gas markets East of Suez

It is inevitable that increased gas production will underpin a parallel and, for East of Suez markets, unprecedented rise in condensate production. For a gas developer the choices are simple: With all other factors being equal, the decision is a matter of simple choice, yes or no. Clean gas gets developed before dirty; onshore gas finds, before offshore; wet gas, before dry.


There appears to be a problem with that link, a google news search will bring it up in a flash.

I was shocked to read in the article posted above, Gas prices to spike 60 cents or more by May, that the average price of unleaded regular in the US is currently $3.48 per gallon. Here in Colorado, it is generally under $3.00, and I filled up for $2.89/gallon just yesterday.

Could someone please comment on the price differential? In looking at gasbuddy.com, the six states with the lowest average price are all in the Rocky Mountain region. There is a lot of political churn going on right now around fracking here; could it be a political play?

Gasoline is usually a little less expensive here than most areas of the country, but the differential seems larger than ever.

$3.77 for regular where Todd and I gas up. Gone up 8 cents in the last 2 weeks.

Almost 20 cents higher in Eureka---

I barely made it to Laytonville to fill up after a fly fishing trip up to Big Lagoon.

There are some differences based on the pipeline distribution system. But I'd guess that mostly, it's taxes. Colorado has below average state gas taxes.

Here in the northeast, NY has gas taxes about twice those of neighboring NJ. Everyone knows to fill up in NJ before crossing the border.

Taxes account for some of the spread, but Colorado's state gas tax at 22 cents per gallon is "only" 27 cents per gallon less than New York's, while the average price difference is 75 cents per gallon. Something else is happening?

I guess a glut of oil in the Rocky Mountains could be a reason. The unusually bad economy here could be another reason.

In the 20+ years I've lived in Colorado, I do not recall the prices here ever being so much less than elsewhere.

Yeah, probably. Though there's also local taxes in NY and many other northeastern states. They vary by city/county, so usually aren't included in those tables of state gas taxes.

The northeast traditionally had higher gas prices than the midwest (except NJ). Then for a couple of years, gas was more expensive in the midwest (Ohio, Michigan, etc). It was really weird. There were even shortages. Now we seem to be returning to the more usual pattern.

That about sums it up, see also RockyMtnGuy's post below.

It's funny it wasn't that many months ago that the upper Midwest had the highest gasoline prices at the wholesale level (ignoring state and local taxes).

The main force behind the change has much to do with the improved ability of Midwest refiners to handle the various types of lower quality oil coming from Canada (as compared with WTI, Brent, Louisiana Light, etc.) within the last few months.

Contrasting with that, there is some doubt about the ability of Northeast refiners to adjust to 'summer blends' of gasoline with lower vapor pressure. NE refiners face the loss of significant high quality oil exports from Nigeria - down more than 50% year over year. The US is apparently being outside for substitute alternative supplies. For example, although Libya has resumed about 75% of it export levels those exports are mostly (but not entirely) going to Europe.

I'd guess they'll just import gasoline. I think that's why gas was so cheap in the northeast (relatively speaking). Even though they're at the end of the pipeline like the upper midwest, there were never shortages. Probably because of the gasoline imported through New York Harbor. Europe traditionally has surplus gasoline and exports it to the US, don't they?

Europe has traditionally had a surplus of gasoline, which it exported to the US, while the US has had a surplus of diesel fuel, which it exported to Europe, so there has been a two-way trade in products between the two continents.

However, European refineries are going bankrupt and shutting down, too, so I think the Northeast US is probably going to have some serious gasoline supply problems this summer. Meanwhile, Europe will probably have diesel fuel supply problems.

According to recent shipping reports, Europe has recently made increased purchases of diesel and similar products - from as far away as India, as well as the US. No doubt the recent cold and frigid weather occurring after refinery shutdowns and slowdowns didn't help.

Conversely refining and shipping problems in Europe will probably reduce gasoine exports to the US over the next month.

The Rocky Mountain region is flooded with crude oil from the Bakken and Canadian heavy oil:

This price bullitin reflects the discount against WTI.


A Wyoming operator told me a few years back that part of this flooding was because of lower Canadian demand in winter months because paving comes to a halt.

The Rocky Mountain region is flooded with crude oil from the Bakken and Canadian heavy oil:


The Rocky Mountain states are first in line on the oil export pipelines from Canada's oil sands, and Western Canadian Select (a benchmark oil) is currently trading at an astronomical $32 per barrel less than West Texas Intermediate; and $48/bbl less than North Sea Brent or OPEC oil.

The price differentials have become absolutely enormous recently. This is why the Canadian government wanted the Keystone XL pipeline built to the Gulf Coast, where half of US refining capacity is located. Oil is piling up as new oil sands production comes on line in Canada, and the pipelines to take it to market are blocked in the US.

At this point in time, gasoline consumers in the Rocky Mountain states are a major beneficiary of this landlocked oil. The Canadian government is severely P.O'd about it though, and the Canadian Prime Minister is currently in China talking about alternatives with government officials there.

And what is the EROEI on that stuff?
When the relationship between cheap natural gas and high oil prices ends (possibly), it will make those 1.8 million barrels of tar oil very questionable.
It you could get it to the gulf, where it will go on the world market (probably as diesel), someone will make more cash--
at the expense of the planet.

The EROEI on oil sands current is around 6:1. It takes about 1 Mcf of natural gas to produce 1 barrel of synthetic oil, and 1 barrel oil contains about 6 GJ of energy whereas 1 Mcf of gas contains about 1 GJ of energy.

However, at this point in time, 1 barrel of North Sea Brent oil is selling for $114 per barrel, whereas 1 Mcf of gas in Alberta is selling for about $2.10. The money ROI is over 50:1. It's a very cost-effective way of converting surplus and cheap natural gas into highly valuable oil. The key problem is to get the synthetic oil into the international market.

The EROEI on oil sands current is around 6:1.

Better than I thought. But the economics is a relationship between very cheap NG, and high oil prices.
NG is going up, as one can only produce it at a loss for so long.

I have seen a wide range of EROEI numbers for the tarsands, and 6 is the upper end. Consider the source.

EROEI is not a normal industry metric, so you have to go with some unreliable sources. In reality, the number varies considerably from project to project, and the oil companies don't really care about it. What they are looking at is the dollar costs.

...........and the oil companies don't really care about it.

Yes but they will and so will the Earth. Sending ever more CO2 up, to obtain the type of energy we require to supplement BAU is a problem of growing proportions. We will do it by burning and converting dirtier coal, growing ethanol production and maybe coal to liquids among other ventures.

Declining EROEI is the basic cause of the collapsing world FF supply. We grew human populations which could take advantage of cheap easy to obtain FF's, but now the energy slaves require an inflating pay check for doing the same amount of work.
When the wages of the energy slaves exceed the ability to profit from energy supplies such as wood and FF exploitation, the game is truly over. It's a lesson not learnt throughout human history.

With the price differential as great as it is now, it makes sense to build Gas to Liquid plants. (Of course, long-term supply of natural gas at today's prices is not guaranteed.)

Extracting bitumen in Canada and refining it is not all that different. It uses a quite a lot of natural gas to produce oil. The economic return can be good, even if the EROEI is low.

Ethanol usually is a situation of using a lot of natural gas (sometimes some coal) to make alcohol to act as a gasoline-extender. If natural gas is cheap, even if the EROEI is low, the conversion can come out well financially.

Wind and solar work the reverse way--they are trying to replace natural gas, using other fossil fuels. If they use oil to replace natural gas, it is easy to mess up the financial return, even if the EROEI seems to be high.

Thank you, RMG.

I'm not complaining about the situation, mind you. Like almost everyone in this region, we drive a LOT, something I will rectify if I ever get a chance to retire.

I had the realization yesterday that my 20 MPG vehicle that has 270,000 miles on it has burned at least 13,500 gallons of gasoline during its 15 year lifespan. Even at the unlikely $3.00/gallon, my next vehicle will burn over $40,000 in fuel if it gets similarly poor mileage and I keep it as long as I have this one. Unfortunately, when you live somewhere that gets over 4 feet of snow at a time as we did last weekend, 4 wheel drive is a necessity, and off road capability is nice to have. I have a 2WD car that gets 35mpg, but I have only put a few hundred miles on it since October. I take full responsibility for my lifestyle, but I feel more guilt around it as the years pass. As has been discussed frequently on TOD, economics sometime conspire to lock us into choices we'd rather not be making.

Just because you (and I) need 4wd doesn't mean it has to come with the 20mpg handicap.

Consider these 4wd vehicles made by Toyota, Ford, GM etc, that are available in Australia, and *not* in the US/Canada;

Ford Ranger, 3.0L turbo diesel, 4wd gets 25mpg (combined) - about 33 on hwy
Holden (GM) Colorado 3.0L turbo diesel, 4wd gets 28.5mpg combined, about 35-38 hwy.
Toyota Hilux supercab 4x4 gets 26mpg combined, 35hwy

See the pattern here? It's not as if these companies don;t *make* more fuel efficient vehicles, they just don't *sell* them here.

And these are not toy trucks either. My brother has the 4wd diesel Hilux on his farm and I can say that it is a far more capable PU than any gasoline powered F-150, and much more economical.

In fact, the more a truck is used for "work", as most PU owners claim, the more advantageous the diesel is.

Using your example if you had been able to have any of these trucks, you would have saved 3100 gal over that time.

This anti- diesel stance has cost America a lot of oil over the years, and still does today...

I agree that not selling diesels in the US is a big issue. Unfortunately, since I tend to buy 10 year old vehicles, I won't be driving an efficient diesel 4x4 any time soon. Toyota sells a diesel Prado (closest equivalent to my 4Runner) in many markets, but there are no plans to sell them in the US, as far as I know.

MPG numbers on 4x4 Toyota SUV's have gone BACKWARDS in the US since my 1997 4Runner was built. The closest equivalent Toyota builds at this point to a 1997 4Runner is the FJ Cruiser, and it gets about 18MPG in real world use. Hard for me to believe it, but a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited gets better mileage than the Toyota, despite being a brick aerodynamically.

In about 2022 I'll be looking for a 2012 Wrangler, but by then I hope to be driving about as many miles in a year as I do now in a month.

if you were in Canada you could pull the trick RMG talks about below.

It's amazing to think, that with supposedly rising CAFE standards, the mileage ratings have gone backwards in the last decade. I think that trend has stopped in the last couple of years, but still.

I should add that those trucks I linked to are also available with 2.5L diesels that get even better mileage, though they have chosen not to offer the 4wd versions with that engine. Many urban dwellers who need PU's (builders, plumbers etc) go for the 2.5L ones.

Many drivers of the large PU's insist that they NEED them, but the Australian economy has existed just fine without them (except for some niche applications) for decades.

The rules for registering commercial vehicles there are a bit different, the weight limit is lower than here - vehicles over 2.7tons (5940lbs) are classed as "light commercial" and taxed differently. Basically, you don;t own and drive one unless you "need" to - an unknown concept here....

Basically, you don't own and drive one unless you "need" to - an unknown concept here....

I wouldn't paint too rosy a picture about Australian vehicular choices. Living in inner Melbourne (without any rough roads within 50 miles at least), I can stand at my front gate in the morning and watch many commuters - and soccer mums driving their unfit brats to school - and an awful lot of them are driving shiny 4WDs - BMW, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc - and many are diesel.

The big difference - as you point out - is that they are smaller and lighter than most SUV/PU models consumed in America. Fuel has always been dearer here, of course (about $1.45 per litre currently). Plus Australia has long had a fondness for the "ute" (Ford or GM-Holden mostly), and it is also the vehicle of choice for many tradespeople and farmers.

But it is constantly challenged by the Hilux - although the Hilux has become bigger and chunkier than I like - my single-cab Hilux Grinner (1994) was a neat little vehicle in its day.

yes, the Hilux, and all the other real trucks, have all become much bigger. Time for a new, smaller model, say with a VW sized 1.9L turbo diesel...

Where my brother is (central west NSW) all serious farmers have the 4wd hilux or equivalent, they are just too useful to do without. He uses it for towing a light spray rig, pasture harrows, even a hay rake - jobs beyond the quad, but that don't need a tractor

The Falcon/Commodore utes seem to be favoured by a lot of people who live in the country towns, and retired farmers who don't want a "car".

We have an old Nissan 720 diesel(late '70's I think) on the farm 4cyl, 2L non turbo diesel. 500,000+ km on it...

I noticed something interesting over the Christmas break (here in Australia, we have school holidays from mid-December to late January). Without the daily 830AM/245PM school rush, the roads were free-running and clear. In fact, if that were the typical vehicle load, the roads are now well overbuilt. It is only the school rush that clogs the suburban roads, rather than the people driving to work.
Even the railway station carparks weren't full (probably due to people going on Annual Holidays).

Let's see, my 2010 2WD diesel car cost me about $18,000 new, and will probably do 150,000 miles in the nest 15 years, using about 3000 gallons (US) at (currently) $8.50 a gallon. So that will be about $28,000 total fuel bill. However, about $18,000 of that will be tacks (the cks key is broken on my keyboard).

Only available in Europe.

the cks key is broken on my keyboard

You can overcome this using the ASCII code for "x" and "X" - find their code, and you can type "Alt123" or whatever, and you will have an "x" or "X". Or invest in a new keyboard perhaps.

Just wondering - do you still need block heaters with diesels on cold days? If you do, are suitable electrical outlets ubiquitous enough that you can, say, count on parking all day at work or at a site, and still getting away in the evening?

Everything here needs block heaters on cold days - diesels just need bigger block heaters. Some people never shut diesels off in winter because it's easier than trying to start them.

Actually, the new light diesels are much better than the old ones, and diesels will frequently start on cold days, maybe with a lot of cranking.

Yes, parking lot outlets are ubiquitous. However, some people I know with big diesel pickups carry a portable generator in the back just in case there's no outlet nearby. If the diesel won't start, they plug the truck into the generator, fire it up, and go for coffee for an hour or two until the engine is warm.

Actually, the new light diesels are much better than the old ones, and diesels will frequently start on cold days,

This is very true, and not much understood by those who have never owned/driven one.

The light diesels in mid size PU, and all cars, are quite different to the heavy duty ones like in the F-350 and larger.
They are often of lower compression, use indirect injection (a pre-combustion chamber in the cylinder head) which gives easier starting and cleaner burning at a slight cost in energy efficiency). The computer controlled glow plug system helps too.

The only real problem is when it is cold enough to gel the fuel, and with winter grade diesel, that is pretty cold.

Here's you tube video of a Jetta cold start at 17F (not really that cold) , but car is not plugged in and it is a surprisingly quick and quiet start - a world away from my neighbours F-350!


I don't even think you can buy a block heater for the TDI. My wife drove ours up in northern BC for a winter and never had any problems, and that's down to -35C.

Actually, they come standard (on Canadian models anyway) - that doesn't mean you will need to use it very often.


Ah nice. That was not the case for our '04.

People around here are importing used little Japanese 4x4's with 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engines. They have to be at least 13 years old to bring them in under the import regulations, but I think they do get at least 35 mpg. This appears to be the way to go if you need a 4x4 in the post-peak-oil era.

It's too bad the North American manufacturers don't build anything like them.

The guy who puts the mail in the post office boxes has one, and for putting mail in boxes in the Canadian Rockies, the Japanese right hand drive works perfectly. One of my nephews owns a NAPA parts dealership, and his little right hand drive Japanese 4x4 works great for deliveries, too. He gets out on the sidewalk side rather than the street side, which is much safer. He even likes shifting with his left hand better than his right hand.

Oddly enough, decades ago, rural posties in Australia used imported left hand drive vehicles for the same reason.
I'm sure city cyclists would love it if all cars here were RH drive - much less chance of being coat- hangered by the opening door of a parked car.

There are a lot of the diesel vans appearing around here, though I haven't seen any of the diesel PU trucks yet - other than the mini-trucks, which are springing up like mushrooms. Every owner of those 660cc /50mpg things just loves them!

I had some plywood delivered the other day. The company uses a little beast like that. Takes an 8x4 comfortably. Much more efficient than a big 3 ton truck.



you're in Mexico right? I would love to email you a bunch of questions about what you think of the area. I'm in Venezuela right now but we are thinking of relocating.

If you don't mind me contacting you please send me a line my email is genevieve[dot]higgs[at]gmail[dot]com


Yep, I'll drop you an email later but as a general comment I would say do not make any plans until after the election here.



Its the elections (and aftermath) here that may the straw that breaks this camel's back :)

So you are in Canada?

The import regulations in the US have been drastically tightened in the past few years, and the odds of getting one of those into the US legally is zero.

Ironically, you can build your own Frankenstein vehicle in Colorado or Utah and get it licensed easily, but because of federal regs it is virtually impossible to import anything. You can drive a homebuilt tube frame sand rail down the road here, and in Utah you can even license ATV's and UTV's. If you want to import a nice, new, safe diesel Prado, no way.

Actually, you can import these things, you just can't road -register them...

So, people do all sorts of things to make the most of them as off road vehicles...



In fact, you don't even have to wait the 13yrs, you can get them brand new.

They are far more useful as a "utility vehicle" than any Utility Vehicle (e.g. Gators, Kubota RTV's etc), and much better value.

There is some company that imports engines from Isuzu PU trucks and will put it into your truck. Not much change out of $6k for the job, as I recall, so hardly worth it...

Unlike the US, import regulations on these little 660cc /50mpg trucks and vans must have been relaxed in recent years, because I didn't previously see them in Canada, and now they're all over the place.

They wouldn't be particularly good on the freeway, but that's not the way they are used. They can carry half a ton of cargo and have four wheel drive, so landscapers and people who do deliveries love them. They can go all places in all weather, never get stuck in the snow, and are cheap to operate.

The rules in the US seem to promote great big gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUV's, but I think the Canadian government is drifting away from promoting that concept. The ability to import used Japanese mini-trucks and vans is a good place to start.

"The rules in the US seem to promote great big gas-guzzling pickup trucks"

International CXT

The American way to move a 4X8 sheet of plywood... is that bed 8' deep?


The deepest snow I ever drove through (a tad shy of 4feet, but not by much), there was a Suburu that also made it. They do better than 20mpg.
Don't know about the hybrid Ford-Escape, supposedly good gas milage, (its how it goes in nontrivial snow I don't know about).

Yes, if you don't actually need a PU, then the Subaru's are about the best go-anywhere cars you can get. I had two different Subaru 4wd wagons over a decade before (reluctantly) having to get a PU. Retired the first one at 550,000km , and sold the 2nd at 300,000km (I used to do 40-50k a year).
Those vehicles were outstanding in cold weather and/or snow.
They are also pretty handy on soft ground too. I remember seeing a Subaru 4wd wagon on beach in Australia drive right past a Toyota Landcruiser that was just digging into the sand...

Subaru has an *awesome* flat-four turbo diesel engine now, which, of course, isn;t being offered in North America.


A horizontally opposed 4 is really a marketing gimmick in a front wheel drive car. The balance issues are pretty much irrelevant, it doesn't package very well and it has a lot more parts and assembly complexity.

Been there, done that with the Subaru. They are fine in snow up to the bumper, on flat ground, but throw in a significant grade and they don't cut it. A heavier vehicle with a bigger tire footprint (diameter and width AND aspect), plus a locking differential in the center and the rear are the ticket. Ground clearance, ground clearance, ground clearance, and not just in one high spot. Think about ground clearance as being an "area under the curve" issue. My 4Runner has 11 inches of clearance and no extraneous suspension parts hanging down to drag. It also has a mechanically locking rear differential and a standard 4WD transfer case, which means I can absolutely force three wheels to turn. Add to that a low range in the transfer case (older Subarus had this; new ones in the US do not.) You also need tires with deep tread that wraps all the way up the sidewall, not commonly found in car sizes. Finally, ultimately, when the snow really gets deep and heavy, you need enough wheel well clearance for chains, real ones, not the cable type. If the vehicle has electronic traction control, it must have a switch to disable it. Traction control will immobilize you in deep snow.

This is my 24th year in Colorado snow country. Trust me, I'd drive something in winter that got 30mpg if there was something available here that could hack it here in *all* conditions. There isn't. I've owned AWD cars/SUVs by Subaru, Mazda(3 different ones), Mitsubishi, Ford and Jeep (2). I've had regular 4x4 on Chevy(2) and Toyota(2). I'll take a 3rd generation (1996-2001)4Runner with good tires, a manual transmission, a standard 4x4 transfer case, and a locking rear differential over anything. My road has a 20% grade in one spot, and 4 foot snows are common. The biggest we've dealt with was six feet. My road ain't for sissies, and I've had service trucks refuse to even come into my driveway when it is dry, let alone snow covered. A Subie is good after I've plowed with my chained up pickup, but the 4Runner is the trailbreaker.

I hear you. That Subbie I mentioned had made it up a 2000foot hill (maybe 7%), and the very wet snow was at least 3feet deep. I had a Z71 Chevy, with oversized tires, and locking differential. I suppose he must have floated on the snow, or he definately would have been high centered. I imagine I would have too, if I had made any mistakes, like losing momentum. There is no way the replacement for that truck (a Tundra) would have made it. I experimented with it in only half as bad conditions: I had to shovel the snow down to the ground three times to get back onto the plowed pavement.

Top Gear drove this to the pole or somewhere up there! I never finished watching the whole episode. The truck was pretty amazing.

I know they are not great offroad, but would a suburu outback work? They are fine in Maine, but we don't usually get 4 feet of snow at a time. My prius works fine with snow tires though the ground clearance is not great, snow covered roads and ice almost never stop me. I admit that an unplowed road with more than 8 inches of heavy snow would stop a prius quickly.

These days, the Republican candidates in the US primaries want us to believe that the Keystone XL pipeline is a great idea and that it will provide more oil at a lower cost for the US. What they haven't focused on is the possibility that the pipeline will likely result in less oil for the US Midwest, which would then result in higher local gasoline prices. One can guess why that's not being mentioned so far...

E. Swanson

And if Obama had been FOR Keystone, the Rebublicans would be screaming what a horrible idea it is.

JHK has it right: the GOP is a clown-car demolition derby.

Judging by the debate I have heard and participated in here in Colorado, you would NEVER convince most Keystone supporters that it would be bad for local fuel prices. The moment you floated the concept, you would be called a left wing enviro-commie America-hating punk, and you would be ignored. Science and economics are not the strong suits of most people here.

I can't even get people to grasp that we are importing oil from elsewhere, refining it, and then exporting the finished product. Seems like a simple enough concept, but based on recent news articles that they have somehow twisted in their minds, they think we are an oil exporting country now. The idea that taking Canadian oil, sending it to the Gulf for refining, and then to Mexico for consumption will raise the price of gasoline here can't possibly register. As long as someone says it is good for an oil company, it is good for everyone.

Speaking of which, I heard this on the radio today.

Frack you, we want fossil fuels

“We are a dynamic society of constant innovation. There is no peak oil. There is no peak gas,” Newt said. “Those are terms used by the left to justify telling the rest of us we have to have austerity so they can control our lives on behalf of a theory.

“We are a dynamic society of constant innovation. There is no peak oil. There is no peak gas,” Newt said. “Those are terms used by the left to justify telling the rest of us we have to have austerity so they can control our lives on behalf of a theory."

Exactly Newt. All those evil lefty peak oil commies like T.Boone "Mao" Pickens, Roscoe "Marx" Bartlett, Matthew "Stalin" Simmons, James "Engels" Schlesinger, etc.

91octane unleaded averaging near US$4/gallon in San Gabriel.

From Barrons ...

Google: Negative Interest Rates—a Minus for Growth?

or Negative Interest Rates—a Minus for Growth?

Return of capital has trumped return on capital—even more than when Will Rogers originally made that observation during the Great Depression of the 1930s. So much so, in fact, that investors may get the chance to pay Uncle Sam to hold their money. That was the message of the cover story of this week's Barron's print edition ("Just Don't Lose It!"). But now this sentiment has gone a step further.

Specifically, the U.S. Treasury may issue securities at negative interest rates.

... As in the sub-atomic world, interest rates of zero or below can have unexpected effects. Bill Gross, Pimco's co-chief investment officer and Barron's Roundtable member, observes in his February missive that interest rates pinned at or near zero can have unexpected effects. In particular, he observes, "Money can become less liquid and frozen by 'price' in addition to the classic liquidity trap explained by 'risk.'"

The theory behind pushing down short-term rates is that it will force investors and lenders to look for other, riskier opportunities to earn a return. The liquidity trap refers to the "pushing on a string" syndrome, where borrowers are unwilling to borrow, even for virtually nothing, and the money just sits there. But Gross perceives a new aspect to this state first observed in the Great Depression. In the absence of loan demand, banks always had been able to take the cheap money from the Fed and buy short-term Treasuries. No longer.

... Given that risk-reward tradeoff, no wonder investors would rather sit on cash instead of extending credit, Gross concludes. Or even accepting the loss of a few basis points to have the safety or liquidity of T-bills. Cash also has "optionality," according to Mohammed El-Erian, Pimco's co-CIO, which means it offers upside when investment opportunities come along, with no downside.

But even as the Fed's vow to maintain low rates all the way until late 2014 puts a floor under the Treasury market, "zero-bound money may kill as opposed to create credit," Gross concludes. "Developed economies where these low yields reside may suffer accordingly. It may as well induce inflationary distortions that give a rise to commodities and gold as store of value alternatives when there is little value left in paper."

Why invest money in real-world businesses when you can get a guaranteed rate of return keeping it spinning in finance?

OK, I'm guilty of Super Bowl fascination, as much for the football as for the insights into the mindset of the marketing monsters. I certainly wasn't disappointed this year; plenty of grossly transparent, grossly expensive marketing porn, including vampires and doomer porn themes.

Kunstler gives his annual review:

...this year's collection made us look more psychopathic than ever - starting with the advertisement for the Chevy Silverado: Fade in on a devastated nameless American city, the buildings smashed, the streets littered with debris, a gray ash coating over everything, and no living creatures in evidence.... A newspaper headline proclaims "2012 Mayan Apocalypse...." How reassuring! Wait! Something stirs behind a heap of rubble... it cracks open... and out drives a plucky American male lumpen "worker" dude behind the wheel of a gleaming giant pickup truck. He is soon joined by other men and their trucks, all of them blithely unfazed by the end-of-the-world.

View this commercial here, via HuffPo, along with similar commentary.

While it wasn't lost on me that the commercial was lampooning American men, their trucks, and doomer porn, something Kunstler et al either missed or chose to ignore, I didn't miss the irony (or genius) of advertising gas guzzling pickups using doomer porn during a gladiator circus in an arena known as Lucas Oil Stadium to "an audience of diabetic fat men in clownish loungewear slouched on sofas in foreclosed houses enjoying stupendous portions of cheesy and lard-laden foodstuffs between cigarettes and beers."

... and the Twinkies were a great touch ;-)

It struck me that if we all followed the advise of the ads, we would go out and buy lots of cars, drive them around by getting cranked up on coke and pepsi and while doodling around on various gadgets.

Sounds pretty much like our happy motoring society to me.

Kunstler is far better at explaining energy and the built environment than American society and politics.

First of all, that ad was in no way "lampooning American men." On the contrary, it was flattering them, plain and simple.

Second, isn't the main problem behind the amazingly unchanging Superbowl ad line-up the overclass, rather than the great couch potato masses? It's the one percenters who own the meaningful tranches of corporate shares and who therefore sponsor the ads. It's also the one percenters whose fortunes require the continuation of cars-first transportation, come whatever may. Yet Kunstler not only bags exclusively on Joe Sixpack in such moments, but also equates Joe Sixpack with the entire U.S. population. It's sloppy and crucially misleading analysis, despite the snappy zingers involved.

Meanwhile, we don't know what people who do if they were ever allowed to seriously debate and choose major options. Such debate has not yet been permitted.

That ad seems to be an ironic joke which successfully creates "buzz" and, in the bargain, irritates crusty, self-righteous, know-it-all "green" fogies no end. But be that as it may, and regardless of the fun-to-scapegoat one percent: nobody forced Joe or Jane Sixpack to watch the Super Bowl. Nobody forced them to watch the ads. Nobody is forcing them to buy the particular vehicles in the ads. Nobody is even forcing them to buy a monster vehicle rather than a more modest one. Nobody is forcing them to buy suburban real estate in effectively cars-only districts. Nobody is forcing them to stuff themselves to bursting with food, or "food". In this limited sense, the zingers are right on target.

After all, the ads are not - yet, anyway - connected to mind-control chips implanted in anyone's brain. So why must one assume that the world's Joes and Janes function as obligatory mindless robot-marionettes controlled at every step by a notional one-percent who deserve to be scapegoated? That they are bereft of any will of their own and thus bear no responsibility whatever for their choices? Or that therefore they must be frog-marched into conformity with "choices" made for them by the right class of one-percenters - apparently a self-selected string-pulling one-percent piously pronouncing themselves "green"?

In the real world, it seems conceivable that some (for example students or single yuppies) might be OK with living in cramped, absurdly expensive, noisy apartments such as are available to them in places like San Francisco. Many of them may not need or want vehicles. Others might find such environs unpleasant or even repugnant (especially after the first baby arrives, and can't ever be calmed down for long amidst the incessant racket.) They may seek a measure of peace and quiet, which tend to be found only in places where they likely will want vehicles. Who knows, some (woe be unto them) might even get a vehicle depicted in one of the ads, despite Big Brother knowing better. And - horror of horrors - the "debating and choosing", especially with a sleepless child (or adult) chiming in, may take very little time.

In short, one uniform Orwellian size does not fit all. There is no single "we" save, perhaps, in the fevered imaginations of totalitarians. There's a fair bit of diversity, which most will notice without needing to be magically hypnotized by a scapegoat one-percent. In this sense, the zingers are at least somewhat off-target, in that many may well not wish to live in Kunstler's apparent vision of paradise. So, when all is said and done, it might be just as well to set aside notions of ruling the world, enjoy the various jokes and zingers, and move on.

True. Nobody is forcing people to watch the Super Bowl or purchase pick-up trucks. But somebody is certainly enticing people to do both those things. And that same somebody is also very adamantly opposed to opening up an adult, collective discussion about why such activities might be outdated or worse.

Especially since the substantial income of the enticers depends on those behaviors. A great deal of thought goes into the enticing.

...it was flattering them, plain and simple."

They were eating Twinkies. We must have a different concept of flattery :-0

The Twinkies bit was a joke, not part of the core message of the ad. And, yes, pickup owners would eat a Twinkie quite gladly, as a way of sticking to the liberal you-know-whats. The core message of the ad is that pick-up guys are always there, always coming through, able to deal with anything. This ad was done with a fair dose of attempted humor, a familiar brand-loyalty tactic. But none of it was meant to lampoon.

I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt ;-/ If you are correct than it was even sicker than Kunstler suggested. Jeez... wrecked spaceships, urban volcano... jeez.

Yes, it was a joke. They were eating Twinkies because there's nothing else to eat. It's that old joke about Twinkies being an artificial food so full of preservatives they last forever. It has nothing to do with liberal or conservative or flattering or unflattering. It was just supposed to be funny.

'lampooning American men..'

Remember 'Born in the USA' and 'We will Rock you..', 'We are the Champignons'* (and there's a good Jackson Browne one, too, what was it..?)

..big hits with those Lampooned Lumpen Workers. Nuance and Irony often pose no more of an obstacle than lumps of post-apocalyptic road detritus.

*(intentional typo.. there's something catchy about 'We are the Mushrooms of the World!' .. are Fun Guys smarter than Fungi's ? Bunch of saprophytes!)

Jackson Browne - perhaps "Running on Empty?"

Running into the sun, but I'm running behind.

No, I don't think so.

One of those songs that 'SEEMS' really patriotic, but in fact was the opposite.

A Sacred Cash-cow Tipper..

maybe it was Fogelberg..

"Born in the USA" perhaps. They don't call Springsteen "The Boss" for no reason.

nvm, you got that one.

I'd rather have some Blue Oyster Cult anyway. Lots of good stuff in their off-hit tracks, even.

Climate risk of toxic shock

The effects of climate change could expose Australians to greater risks from toxic contamination, a leading scientist has warned.

Increased flooding could release contaminants previously regarded as secure into groundwater, rivers, oceans, the food supply and atmosphere, the director of the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, Professor Ravi Naidu said today.

Most of our urban landfills contain highly toxic substances from past decades – and were designed for the climatic conditions at the time. These have now changed, with the risk of bigger and more frequent floods, droughts, heat and acidity releasing substances we thought were gone for good,” he says.

“The floods in Queensland and northern NSW illustrate how things are changing – and how we can no longer count on toxic disposal systems designed half a century or more ago to work as well in future under changed climate conditions,” he says.

see also Thousands evacuated from Queensland flooding

Apologies if this was already posted:


"Record floods create inland sea"



"China's largest freshwater lake dries up"

The inland sea isn't surprising. It happens every time a major rain depression drops a lot of water out there. The reason is simple: once you get west of the Great Dividing Range, the land is as flat as a pancake. The rivers which run through it are typically only a metre or two deep and, due to the flat terrain, they are serpentine and slow-moving, so heavy rain makes them quickly break their banks and the water spills over into the vast floodplains.

Having said that, we seem to be having more of these flood events than we used to.

The 3 G dam is one of the most stupid things done by the chinse commies, post Mao. This thing was PREDICTED, but they didn't wanna listen. China was such a beutiful nation, but they won't cease until they have wasted it all.

When the water level is too low there are no fish, so there is no food for the migrating birds that usually break their journey at Poyang. The government has decided to drop fish and shellfish into the lake from helicopters.


Do we no longer care about the collective good?

... According to the authors, solidarity refers to citizens' willingness to share risks -it's what binds social groups together: the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, the employed and the unemployed.

"Solidarity still exists in the Netherlands but people value a different kind of solidarity, one that requires a greater degree of reciprocity - that is, people don't just have a right to government help, they are obliged to do something in return," Dr Yerkes said.

Dutch citizens support social programs and policies, but in a different way. Individual responsibility and participation are emphasized rather than passive income support," Dr Yerkes said.

Herein lies a lesson for other countries.

If this is the book I think it is, I highly recommend it. I read excerpts translated from a 2011 Amsterdam University Press book of the same title and authors.

Two of the big questions in the social sciences is understanding the dynamics of collective action and discovering the conditions under which people are motivated to support the collective good. And then to use that understanding to promote such action.

In my school, with a broad range of natural, social and design faculty, it's the collective action notion that distinguishes what social science is about (at least, for the non-social scientists).

The van der Veen, Yerkes and Achterberg book looks at cohesive action from a national-level perspective. But it can also emerge at smaller levels and may more easily thrive there.

Collective action for the collective good isn’t that rare in human behavior. It might be at a low point these days in the US. And it is an easy target for anyone who is only ever pessimistic about human nature. But we’ve had long-standing mutual aid societies, and producer and consumer co-ops. The Amish communities (pop ~250,000) and Mennonite communities (pop ~1,500,000) have honed solidarity to a fine art. Add in CSAs, ecovillages, ag incubators, and transition towns, and we might be seeing something re-sprout. Gene Logsdon has written about it now and again, most humorously in his Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food.

Beats three guys in Chevy trucks hauling Twinkies.

There seems to be a confusion here between science and engineering.

Two of the big questions in the social sciences is understanding the dynamics of collective action and discovering the conditions under which people are motivated to support the collective good.

That part is the actual science.

And then to use that understanding to promote such action.

That part is the engineering, more precisely "social engineering". And it's by no means a foregone conclusion that the engineering will happen in that direction. For instance, suppose you're a billionaire (or a politician funded by billionaires) and want to *block* collective action; then you could also use the findings of social science to work out how best to *demotivate* support for the collective good. Recent US politics starts to make a lot of sense in this light...

It's all a bit depressing for a social scientist to be honest. The better they get at understanding how societies tick, in the hope of making then work better, the more weapons they give to an enemy who wants to pull society apart.

And its the clever guy with lots of money that can pay for the engineering.

Certainly money can buy interventions that change some behavior all of the time, or all behavior some of the time.

But do you think such interventions would work that well on the Amish, Mennonites, or other intentional communities? Or the eco-villagers, transition town folks, etc?

I imagine that we can each name a group or community that would not be easily manipulated.

In fact, many of us may, rightly, think that we are members of just such a group. But are we really special or members of an elite? Or are we just like everyone else: sometimes easy to manipulate, other times out-of-reach of even the best funded intervention?

As they say, you can fool most of the people most of the time. Thats enough.

I think Lincoln said, You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Lincoln didn't know about movies and television. Now days, you don't need to fool everybody, only enough to get elected...

E. Swanson

It's not necessary to change the behavior of everybody - only a critical subset - say 5-20%. The rest of the herd will dutifully follow.

It's all about leverage.

So (following that model of social change and using the lower end of the range), we need only get 5% to adopt a low-energy, localized lifestyle in a conspicuous manner. Point out the embedded benefits of such a lifestyle, thus making it self-sustaining, and we're all set. That doesn't sound that hard to do.

Note: I'm not being completely sarcastic. I fully subscribe to the power of physical and social settings to influence human behavior change (it's part of what I research). And, just as important, to the role of intrinsic satisfactions in making such change durable (or easier to re-start after a lapse).

I’m just constantly astounded at the many postings here and elsewhere that agree with this model of social change but are then so pessimistic about our chances. That is, if your perspective on human nature has people classified as a “herd” whose behavioral skills are limited to murmuration, then at least be logically consistent with that view. Propose leveraging that inclination to help people respond well to the coming energy descent. But instead most comments are in the camp of, since humans are “sheeple” it’s game over, thanks for playing.

I don’t mean to make the process of behavior change sound easy, because it isn’t. Consider trying to use this one model of social change: finding the 5-20% who are most influential borders on being impossibly hard because it’s not the same people for every behavior, or for every setting, or for every individual, or for all time. Suddenly it sounds hard to do.

This is why I don’t agree that most humans are primarily herd-like in their behavior. Not because it doesn't fit my own opinion but because that reductionism has absolutely no basis in empirical behavioral science. Although it does make a good meme - more so since there is ample evidence that humans are highly sensitive to social cues and norms. They just happen to care about other things as well.

Mass media, television and radio, change everything. The people know what they are allowed to know. They take up the opinions they hear, in identical form, from a multiplicity of sources. The past is reformed to fit the needs of the new messages. The new "news" is given without any presentation of the underlying actual history... into a state of total amnesia. It is amazingly powerful.

The amount of just pure hate radiating out of comments on, for example, Youtube for music, song!, not to mention documentaries, or science... is profound. The hatred is seeded by the media. The media supplies the themes and the terms.

This level of control makes the group seem monolithic. Plainly, it is not... but the marginalized voices have little power.

"I'm proud to belong to a country, America, that is a net exporter of oil and energy to the rest of the world." The newspapers, the magazines, radio talk-show hosts and news, and the television channels all tell them this. Many sites on the internet parroted the theme as well, even the president's. It must be true. There is no reason to act. The ones calling for change are corrupted by unseen forces with unknown agendas. They are diseased in the common mind... and the words of fresh, hot hatred flow from these obvious facts.

The masses won't acknowledge any changed reality until reality forces change in routine. The signs must be unmistakeable and pervasive. Global warming would be accepted as real when eggs fry on sidewalks everywhere all the time. Otherwise, it has to compete with the biggest unreality engine ever constructed.

Well, if, say, one subset of 5-20% exhibits the radically changed behavior you desire, while another subset of 5-20% exhibits radically unchanged behavior, then we have a certain symmetry that may even resemble the real world slightly. Where, then, does the fulcrum for the "leverage" lie - what breaks the symmetry and which subset does the herd follow ...?

The people of the Philippines seem to be victims of one disaster after another--Typhoon Sending killed 1250 in the south; now this:


Now it's a 6.9 quake that has already killed over 40 people.

Goldman Sachs, Glencore Compensate For New Metal Warehouse Rules To Make Millions

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Banks and trading houses have found a way to beat the ravages of economic downturn, storing millions of tonnes of metal with a business model that outsmarts new rules put in place following widespread concern about their practices.
LME data shows that as of Feb. 2, Detroit warehouses - 80 percent Goldman-owned - held 1.36 million tonnes of aluminium. At a new rent of 45 cents per tonne per day, the warehouses could generate $612,000 a day in rental revenue alone.
Premiums for western duty-paid aluminium on the spot market in Rotterdam are at around $165-190 a tonne , almost triple the $40-60 premium for Grade A copper - a metal which unlike aluminium, is in chronic short supply and which should, all things being equal, be drawing in a much higher premium.

All things are not equal, however, not in the aluminium market. Global consumption might be less than production, but global demand from banks and trading houses more than makes up the difference.

So the giant vampire squid has found yet another way to extract more rents from the rest of us without providing anything of value in return (or worse, subtracting value by creating an artificial shortage). Cue the Free Market fundamentalists who believe that even *less* regulation is called for.

Anyone read the latest post by Mish Shedlock on a draw down on distillate demand in USA?Quite astonishing.Just wondering how Charles Mackay missed this(or is it me)?

I believe Charles has commented on this quite a bit in recent months. I posted a comment a while back wondering where in the heck this was actually happening, because around my area (DC/MD/VA) there seems to be more cars then ever, and BAU is in full effect again. There also appears to be an ever-widening gulf between what the administration and MSM are telling us vs. what the fuel usage stats seem to indicate. I don't know what to believe anymore, maybe we're just becoming more fuel efficient and the drop isn't as severe as it appears on paper. Or maybe by summer we'll have $4.50/gal gas and a repeat of late 2008...I don't pretend to have any idea what to expect going forward.

Heating oil use is dropping fast in Maine. More people using pellet stoves, heating fewer rooms, insulating basements, etc.

Peak Water: The Rise and Fall of Cheap, Clean H2O

Three of the world's greatest rivers, the Colorado in the U.S., the Nile in Egypt and the Yellow River in China, have been so depleted by cities, farms, factories and dams along their banks that they often no longer reach the sea. Growth in the desert city of Las Vegas, which depends on Colorado River water contained by the Hoover Dam, has been stunted not only by a spectacular real estate crash, but by a 46 percent drop in the amount of water in Lake Mead, behind the dam. Simply put, there's no more water to be taken.

It's not that the world is running out of water, says Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, an environmental research organization in San Francisco. It’s that there's not enough water where it's needed, and it can't be easily transported. Globally, the amount of renewable water available for each inhabitant has dropped from over 10,000 cubic meters in 1990 to 7,770 in 2010. It could trickle to 4,870 by 2050, as the world's population grows.

Gleick coined the term "peak water" and in 2010, with colleague Meena Palaniappan, laid out the case that much of the world -- the U.S. especially -- may have already passed its greatest possible rate of consumption. Citizens, government and business must realize that the taps are about to slow. ...

also China water project to 'begin operating in 2013'

It's not that the world is running out of water, says Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, an environmental research organization in San Francisco. It’s that there's not enough water where it's needed, and it can't be easily transported.

Actually both explanations are wrong. The problem is that we have 7+ billion people on a planet that can sustainably support perhaps 1 billion in reasonable comfort, even less if all those people wish to enjoy a North American standard of living. Solve that problem and you solve (or greatly alleviate) a myriad of other problems, ranging from mass extinctions, peak resource depletion, air/water pollution, global poverty, war, etc.

Peak Oil Scare Fades as Shale, Deepwater Wells Gush Crude

"the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 2 trillion barrels of untouched crude is still locked in the ground, enough to last more than 70 years at current rates of consumption...

"Betting against human ingenuity has been a mistake," says Lacalle, who today helps oversee $1.3 billion as a portfolio manager at Ecofin Ltd. in London. "The resource base is absolutely enormous, so much so that we will not run out of oil in my lifetime, your lifetime, our children's lifetimes or our grandchildren's lifetimes."

There is nothing that even our grandchildren should worry about. Oil is gushing from every possible source. With all this oil gushing up one could make a fortune selling Brent contracts at $115 a barrel. With all these oil wells gushing crude then oil should be down to less than $50 a barrel in a month or so.

Ron P.

With all these oil wells gushing crude then oil should be down to less than $50 a barrel in a month or so.

Remember the guest article by Chris Cook, in which he predicts oil price in the 45-55 dollar a barrel range sometime during the first half of 2012? Maybe all that gushing oil will bring home that prediction for CC. Looks like the dream of endless BAU lives on...

I think the operative phrase might be "locked in the ground". As in tarsands, kerogen shales, and the like. It's not coming cheap or easy.

The other operative phrase is "at current rates of consumption".

I'm not going to worry about being swept away in a tsunami of oil...

Also . . . it is funny that he refers to an old CERA report from 2006 that says oil production would be up 50% to 130mbpd in 2030.

That projection is long since obsolete. Even the CERA cornucopians have be forced to scale back their over-optimism in view of the reality unfolding.

CERA was WRONG in that over-optimism by their own admission. But this guy is pimping that old obsolete projection. What pathetic "journalism".

You gotta love they try to debunk Peak oil with all liquids data.

Even their conventional oil line - at around 80 - seems high - isn't global C+C around 75mbd?

CERA was WRONG in that over-optimism by their own admission. But this guy is pimping that old obsolete projection. What pathetic "journalism".

Because, of course, that is exactly what his paymasters tell him to do. If he did otherwise, he's be out of a job in a Wall Street nanosecond.

What is truly remarkable is the smackdown that the author got in the comments section....

Wow, that 100th monkey might be within reach...

Hell, even at Zerohedge the Peakists are gaining the upperhand...

"the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 2 trillion barrels of untouched crude is still locked in the ground, enough to last more than 70 years at current rates of consumption...
...The resource base is absolutely enormous, so much so that we will not run out of oil in my lifetime, your lifetime, our children's lifetimes or our grandchildren's lifetimes."

Sorry but when did a mere 70 years become a long time? That's actually quite shorter than the average life expectancy in most developed countries.

And that's only at current consumption!?!

It's a long time today to a company CEO or a politician! Way beyond what they need to collect their pension!

Political leaders play key role in how worried Americans are by climate change

... The politics overwhelms the science."

The study found that the state of the economy was the second biggest factor affecting perceptions of climate threat. The incidence of extreme weather events had no effect on American's view of the climate change threat. New research published in scientific journals had no impact on public views, but major reports on climate change and articles in popular science magazines did have a small but noticeable impact. The work of advocacy groups also had some effect. The quantity of media coverage also affected perceived threat levels, but that coverage was mostly a function of what political leaders and advocates were saying.

"The most important factor remained the polarized positions taken by Democrats and Republicans in Washington," Jenkins said.

If majorities accepted it there are some things we could do to improve the situation, but even then it would be very difficult, and of course it's vastly unlikely anyway. Therefore it does not matter what people's perceptions of climate change are, and it falls to the other thing they don't believe in - peak oil - to "do something" about it. So give thanks to peak oil, it's our only hope.

New research published in scientific journals had no impact on public views

Say it isn't so! Information developed on the taxpayer, expressed in impenetrable turgid prose, or encoded as complexly as humanly possible in equations in order to impress "peer reviewers", and concealed behind mountainous paywalls despite the taxpayer having paid through the nose for it, had no impact. In other news, hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe.

Australian intelligence agencies prepare for political upheaval

Alarmed by the “Arab Spring”—the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that last year ushered in a new period of class struggle internationally—Australia’s six civilian and military intelligence agencies are preparing for unpredictable political upheavals, abroad and at home.

An official review of the “Australian Intelligence Community”, released last month, warned the Gillard government that the events of 2011 had revealed how difficult it was for intelligence agencies to anticipate the collapse of seemingly stable social and political orders. “With such fragility, it will be unknowable what exactly will tip the system over the edge, as we saw very clearly with events such as the Arab Spring,” the report stated.

Also reported was a qualitative transformation, involving a more aggressive and broad-ranging role. According to the report, this involved the intelligence agencies supporting “substantial security and military operations at home and abroad,” equipped with “new laws and expanded powers, a rapid growth in human and financial resources and a new national security infrastructure.”

... It claimed that “bipartisan support” in parliament had ensured there was no “substantial criticism” of the controversial anti-terrorism laws.

The document pointed to the underlying purpose of this vast expansion of powers and resources. While largely conducted in the name of combating terrorism, the build-up has been increasingly focussed on dealing with signs of social and political discontent at home, as well as mounting geo-strategic tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

Report: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/publications/iric/index.cfm

When it comes to future states of affairs, a very helpful approach can be built on the analysis of Nassim Taleb – author of ‘The Black Swan’ – who is particularly noted for his analysis of what can and cannot be known and predicted. In a recent article with Mark Blyth in Foreign Affairs, Mr Taleb addressed the question of what intelligence can know.

Nassim Taleb’s analysis is founded on the following fundamental distinction:

‘Humans simultaneously inhabit two systems: the linear and the complex. The linear domain is characterised by its predictability and the low degree of interaction among its components, which allows the use of mathematical methods that make forecasts reliable. In complex systems, there is an absence of visible causal links between the elements, masking a high degree of interdependence and extremely low predictability’

… Mr Taleb’s analysis is very helpful because it highlights that the extent to which the future is knowable is dependent on how open a society is.

Where a society is open – in other words, where there is a high level of civil and political freedoms including freedom of speech and association and the rule of law – it is possible to observe and map how the social, political and economic system works and, therefore, to form some conclusions about the likely directions of that society. [Think about Facebook and Google’s recent foray into privacy issues]

In closed societies – repressive states such as totalitarian dictatorships, theocracies and autocratic monarchies – the system is hidden. For example, the size and even the existence of opposition groups may be very veiled.

These highly constrained states appear stable when, in fact, they may be extremely fragile and volatile. In the words of Taleb and Blyth:

‘Complex systems that have artificially suppressed volatility tend to become extremely fragile, while at the same time exhibiting no visible risks’. With such fragility, it will be unknowable what exactly will tip the system over the edge, as we saw very clearly with events that triggered the Arab Spring.

The so-called 'complex systems that have artificially suppressed volatility', eg. Superbowl Sunday in the USA, are acting as a bit of a distraction from what has been a somewhat volatile day in world capitals.

US closes embassy in Syria

"This is a doomed regime as well as a murdering regime," [William Hague] said. "There is no way it can recover its credibility internationally."

For their part, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, spoke with one voice on Syria after holding talks in Paris on Monday.

"Germany and France will not let the Syrian people down on the Syrian issue," Sarkozy said, announcing plans for a Libya-style international contact group on Syria.

The Europeans are contemplating Libya Redux. Huh? Syria is a much more unstable situation and Russia and China have already warned the West to bugger off.

Meanwhile Merkel and Sarkozy are speaking with one voice on another front, this time closer to home:

Debt crisis and Greek debt talks: live

19.30 Meanwhile, Greece is still assessing €1.3bn of spending cuts for 2012 to satisfy the troika's bail-out demands.

The cuts are part of total spending reductions of €3.3bn requested by the EU and IMF, state-run Athens News Agency (ANA) reported.

The government has so far decided to cut health spending by €1.1bn, defence spending by €400m and local government subsidies by €440m, ANA said.

This on top of the announcement by the Papademos government to cut a further 15,000 Greek civil servant jobs.

Greece is no longer governed by Athens or by the Greek people. Silly people, expecting a say. It's governed by a troika. Any talk of popular consent was shot down last November when George Papandreou had the audacity to suggest a referendum.

Of course there is the good old USA.

Obama tightens US sanctions on Iran

On Sunday, Mr Obama said the US and Israel were "in lockstep" in their policy towards Iran.

Concerns have grown in Israel and the West that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, although Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

The new US sanctions include blocks on the Central Bank of Iran, imposed "in light of the deceptive practices" the bank to conceal transactions already banned by previous sanctions.

The curbs were also prompted by Iran's "deficient" efforts to combat money-laundering, the executive order said.

Intelligence services would be foolhardy not to prepare for political upheaval. Portents of it are everywhere.

An official review of the “Australian Intelligence Community”, released last month, warned the Gillard government that the events of 2011 had revealed how difficult it was for intelligence agencies to anticipate the collapse of seemingly stable social and political orders. “With such fragility, it will be unknowable what exactly will tip the system over the edge, as we saw very clearly with events such as the Arab Spring,” the report stated.

Setting aside the oxymoronic potential of the term "Australian Intelligence Community" - this Canberra bureau-blather just sounds like code for how to control all the over-heated and excitable Muslim types that constitute a small but quite significant part of Australia's immigrant make-up. Anglo Australians fear the worst of course.

Not helped by the fact that we do US bidding in places like Iraq and Afghanistan (since it worked so well in Vietnam).

I would prefer the "AIC" to be hammering out security policies in relation to peak oil, peak water, peak soil, peak food, and peak suburbs (I wish), personally.

This is a development of minor significance in the global context, but unlike oil production from North Dakota's Bakken Formation, (which is also of minor significance in the global context but has been overhyped beyond belief), this has been largely overlooked (even by me).

Rising light oil production in Alberta – a microcosmic event

We are happy to report that the fundamental principles of economics are working well in the Canadian oil and gas industry, and the results are remarkable. We are witnessing an event that will change the way we think about oil, with many weighty consequences for corporate leaders, investors, policy makers, and purveyors of competitive energy sources.

After 20 years of steady decline, light and medium oil production is now conclusively trending upward in Alberta. I reported the nascent beginnings of this reversal almost a year ago. Back then, the rising numbers were a debatable conjecture; now they’re a convincing shift that exceeds expectations.

Take a look at Figure 1, a chart that could heighten the blood pressure of a few peak oil theorists.

The grey, dashed trend line shows how Alberta’s light and medium oil production was declining by an almost perfectly linear rate of 16,000 B/d every year up until late 2009. Although my data in Figure 1 starts in 2002, I can show that this predictable line extends back to the early-1990s, and more generally as far back as the peak of production in the 1970s.

The peak oil theorists can remain calm, this is just new production from the Cardium Formation, Alberta's equivalent of the Bakken Formation, and similar plays. It is a nice development brought on by higher oil prices, horizontal drilling, and hydraulic fracturing - just like the Bakken.

Although it may be exciting if you have shares in a junior oil company drilling in Alberta (which I don't), it is a minor development in the global context. It's like the Bakken, but is nothing like the Oil Sands, which are going to become a major factor in global oil supply over the next few decades.

That is not to say that the oil sands will provide enough new oil to keep your huge SUV on the road in California, or heat your house in Maine. It may keep your diesel VW or Prius hybrid affordable for short trips on weekends, though. OTOH, the extra increment of light oil from Alberta may ease the transition to the post-peak-oil era for the few people (mostly Canadians) who have access to it.

There were seven net oil exporters in the Americas and the Caribbean with net exports of 100,000 bpd or more in 2005: Venezuela, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago. Their combined net oil exports were 6.0 mbpd in 2005 and 4.8 mbpd in 2010 (BP).

Rising net oil exports from Canada certainly helped, but they only served to slow the overall net export decline from these seven countries.

After following a link in a previous DB about benchtop ovens, I remember reading here on ToD a few years ago about a brand of kettle made in the UK for high-intensity use, such as in resturants. Cost a fortune, but was of solid construction, fully user-replaceable parts etc. Can anyone remember what the brand might be?

Ta. Possably Burco, but I don't recognise the designs. I've bookmarked the site just in case. Cheers.

Was wondering the current locations of the US Carrier fleet earlier today (with Iran being the hot button issue of the day), and managed to track down a semi-current image, thought I would share it.


So the only carriers in troubled waters (off Iran) appear to be the USS Abraham Lincoln (in the Persian Gulf itself) and the USS Carl Vinson (in the Arabian Sea).

Good sign. Normal for peacetime patrol.

I wonder how many submarines are there...

On the T.V. and radio, all we hear is who is waggling fingers at who at any moment.

Here is another audio program, Background Briefing, with some more considered information:
...the last 1/3 of the program.

An earlier interview with the same person who is familiar with Iran:

These are very interesting.

I also hear that the freezing of Iranian central bank assets is also more posturing: a symbolic gesture, since the overall assets in American control were frozen already, the argument goes, and it is doubtful that any further assets have been offered into such exposure in the meantime.

The interviews with Flynt Leverett, former Middle East adviser to the National Security Council, are quite revealing.

Benjamin Netanyahu comes across as a loose canon. There is evidence the Obama administration is trying to distance itself from committing itself too far if the Israelis commit the first strike. Netanyahu would clearly prefer a Republican in the White House and may provoke something in order to leverage influence on the American election cycle.

Bill Clinton after his first meeting with Netanyahu asked, "who does this guy think he is?" Reminds me of Sarkozy's diplomatic gaffe when he stood too close to an open mike and called Netanyahu a liar. Apparently the Israeli prime minister is about as popular as a skunk at a garden party.

Meanwhile it sounds like both the US and Israeli intelligence are not on side for an attack on Iran. If the spooks aren't ready to say go, why go?

There are a few other things that don't add up. Why is Washington and Brussels playing along with the war hawks in Tel Aviv? Why don't they oppose a prime minister who may be hell bent and determined to set off more sparks and chaos in the tinderbox called the Middle East? Instead, Obama talks about the close relationship between Israel and the United States. And perhaps even more bizarre, Europe is willing to impose sanctions on oil imports, sanctions that can bite it as hard as Iran. Why don't they call Netanyahu's bluff? Why are they afraid? Netanyahu may not have the political wherewithal at home to survive an international repudiation of his foreign policy objectives.

Which gets back to a telling question asked in the first interview: "who is the superpower in all this?"

On the US side, all Netanyahu has to do is get AIPAC to start screaming that Obama isn't a friend of Israel, and hates Jews etc. That always frightens US politicians into line. I suspect Brussels is undet pressure from Washington. Obama can say something like, if you don't play ball, then I'll be replaced by Newt, then you'll be in real trouble. Kind of a version of good cop bad cop. Only in this case it might actually have some truth behind it.

Ah yes, AIPAC. The lobby group that yells loudest.

If ever there was more apt an example of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Thanks for checking it out. These are the only real-sounding words I've heard. I have no idea what the truth is... only that we are not being told it.

Kalimanku, one of your links referenced Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett's webpage, Race for Iran.

Looks like a worthwhile reference.

Yes, indeed. Thank you.

Last I heard, there were 11 carriers in the US fleet. If 3 were positioned in or near the Persian Gulf, I would think that to be rather normal, given the importance of the area...

E. Swanson

New "Franking" Technology is a Game Changer

According to a new report by industry insiders, huge, untapped reserves of oil and natural gas are ready to be released as soon as new "frank'ing" technology can be deployed. Unlike previous technologies such as horizontal drilling or multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, this new technology is much easier for laymen to understand and has the potential unleash a tidal wave of new jobs in both the energy and financial sectors.

Named after Benjamin Franklin, the president on a $100 note, "frank'ing" involves setting the price per barrel of oil at multiples of $100/bbl. Current expriments underway with single stage "frank'ing" have worked incredibly well at improving output from North Dakota's Bakken formation, according to Harold Hamm, president of the energy company Continental Resources.

Industry leaders are hoping to test the results of multi-stage frank'ing in coming years and anticipate record profits in spite of the high cost frank'ing will impose on US consumers. Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co., reported recently to a senate panel that "Oil is a global commodity.", allaying fears about the sustainability of multi-stage franking.

"Debate rages on when oil will peak"

I submit a simple answer: oil will "peak" when the propaganda subsides to a dull din.

Folks may then notice that we are on the downside of the bell curve that began when we first rang the bell by stepping into this slippery slide zone.

Yes. We noticed. Unfortunately, the consequences of peak oil haven't been enough for everyone else to notice.


CNBC has a program tonite at 9 about the Bakken Boom or Bust.

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

IMO the corporate controlled MSM is really upping the ante on both PO and AGW in recent months. They are now playing the oldest trick in the book...the game of numbers. Get more people to sign petitions. What's that now, 16. The lack of runaway warming has already been answered as being due to rising particulate matter in the atmosphere. I didn't see a mention of that theory though.

The lack of runaway warming has already been answered as being due to rising particulate matter in the atmosphere.

I agree. Also known as 'dimming'. Here's an article by NOVA:


'Understanding Global Dimming'

Like enormous clouds of volcanic ash, some forms of air pollution can significantly reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth's surface and lower temperatures. Climate researcher James Hansen estimates that "global dimming" is cooling our planet by more than a degree Celsius (1.8°F) and fears that as we curb these types of air pollution, global warming may escalate to a point of no return. Here, trace the historic events that lead to our understanding of global dimming.

Here's an article attributing much of the cooling during the 2000's to China's increasing burning of coal:


'China Coal Consumption Linked To Global Cooling'

WASHINGTON -- Scientists have come up with a possible explanation for why the rise in Earth's temperature paused for a bit during the 2000s, one of the hottest decades on record.

The answer seems counterintuitive. It's all that sulfur pollution in the air from China's massive coal-burning, according to a new study.

Also, although dimming may have kept temerature rise in check, it has not slowed the ice volume loss in the arctic.


'The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral Continues'

Arctic sea ice volume by month in cubic kilometers (with simple quadratic trend lines projecting to zero volume

Take a gander at that graph. It's undeniable that ice volume will hit zero at some point.

But imagine if for whatever reason that may cause societal collapse, such as high oil prices, or currency hyper-inflation, or for some other reason, the increased temperatures that would ensue in a world in which we are not spewing billions of tons of particulates.

We could be trying to survive a double whammy of economic collapse and runaway GW.

In every projection I've done, Global Warming really is the stunning blow. If one's genes survive everything else amid huge changes, then they further have to survive even bigger changes.

There is circumstantial evidence for the phenomenon of global dimming. Though not related to particulate matter, it pertains to airplane contrails.


NARRATOR: For 15 years Travis had been researching an apparently obscure topic, whether the vapour trails left by aircraft were having a significant effect on the climate. In the aftermath of 9/11 the entire US fleet was grounded, and Travis finally had a chance to find out.

DR DAVID TRAVIS: It was certainly, you know, one of the tiny positives that may have come out of this, an opportunity to do research that hopefully will never happen again.

NARRATOR: Travis suspected the grounding might make a small but detectable change to the climate. But what he observed was both immediate and dramatic.

DR DAVID TRAVIS: We found that the change in temperature range during those three days was just over one degrees C. And you have to realise that from a layman's perspective that doesn't sound like much, but from a climate perspective that is huge.

I hope they find another way to repeat the experiment and confirm the behavior

That was pretty fascinating. Check out the Asian Brown Cloud.

Global Warming and Atmospheric Brown Clouds

Dimming mentioned at about 33 minutes in. My understanding is that they cause ground cooling and atmospheric heating.

Global and Regional Climate Change: Underlying Science and Emerging Riddles

"brown clouds from burning biomass, Ramanathan has learned, act as a global warming mask, reducing sunlight on the ground. "On the one hand, it has protected us, but also prevented us from seeing the full blast of the greenhouse effect," he says. "One of the dumbest things we can do is to reduce sunlight," because it reduces ocean evaporation, which cuts down on rainfall, and shifts weather systems everywhere, shrinking harvests and glaciers.

We are left with "Faustian bargains," says Ramanathan. If we cut airborne pollutants such as sulfur, the mask will drop, temperatures rise rapidly, and climate tipping elements come into play. Curing one ill causes another. Any plan for "dismantling the experiment we have done with blankets, mirrors and dust must be done as carefully as dismantling a nuclear device.""

Thanks for the links.

Any plan for "dismantling the experiment we have done with blankets, mirrors and dust must be done as carefully as dismantling a nuclear device."

James Lovelock has the same idea

My grandfather used to be a commercial rapsberry grower in his younger days. He is now 93 yo. He took great delight in telling the story of how the fire fighters came to his rapsberry land once. It was cold that night, and he feared the frost would take out that years harvest before pollination begun. So he placed a steel barrel in the field and filled it with sticks and stuff, then put fire to it. Because he knew that would keep the field warmer. Old trick. I doubt he knew the physics of dust particles and radiation, but he did understand that the smoke acted as a blanket, thet kept the ground heat in, so that his rapsberry buds did not freeze.

Then off course someone drove by in a car, called the fire department, who came out and extinguished the fire. I guess that was some city folk.

Ha. That reminds of growing up surrounded by orange groves in Southern California. On the rare frosty nights the growers would put out "smudge pots". They were nasty oil burners that made clouds of black smoke. I remember seeing dozens, maybe hundreds, of them "smudging away" in the morning, going to school on the bus. A black pall hung over the trees.

The article is not even correct: "The lack of warming for more than a decade" or for 22 years, I presume they might mean less than 0.1 to 0.3 deg. C per decade (IPCC.ch or so).
A look at temperature records (NASA - GISS):


last ten years: 0.13 deg. C warming
last 22 years: 0.15 deg C warming per 10 years.

Both values are already within range from climate models for low emission scenarios (Ps we are emitting more than that right now...).

So the article is not even correct in the facts it uses to attack the messenger. What a joke.

What Trenberth probably might have meant is that 2003 to 2008 was pretty flat in temperature - and it is not possible to predict that. And that this has given arguments
to the sceptics. If you are not trained in model thinking, it is hard to the fallacy in that argument. And that might have delayed protective actions. Which is what we see.
Which is... a travesty? In ten years there is an equal risk that we get more-than-average warming. Then there will be some pretty loud
voices in the other direction. But the oscillations are not slower than that, such is nature.

What lack of warming? The 80ies, 90ies and 00ies has all been warmer decades than the one before. Of the 10 warmest years on record, only one, 1998, is from the previous century. And 1998 is the biggest record year ever. Yes, we have had warmer years than 1998 after that year, but 1998 broke the global mean temp record more than any of the 20-or-so record breaking events during the century. What was a never before heard of heat in 1998 is now statisticly normal. So I ask again: What lack of warming?

There was a recent announcement about excess heat being found in ocean currents, they are trying to Googlebomb it away.

There are several comments on Real Climate regarding this WSJ article. The article is rather poor science, IMHO...

E. Swanson

New Insights into how to Correct False Knowledge

The abundance of false information available on the Internet, in movies and on TV has created a big challenge for educators.

Recent research in cognitive science has shown it is possible to correct false knowledge with feedback -- a phenomenon known as the hypercorrection effect. When students answer a test question wrong, the more confident they are in their original answer, the more likely they are to remember the right answer if corrected.

The study showed that false knowledge held with high confidence is more likely to be corrected in the short-term, but also more likely to come back in the long-term if the correction is forgotten.

also Americans' knowledge of polar regions up, but not their concern

... The researchers found that the public's knowledge about the north and south polar regions showed modest gains between 2006 and 2010. The average "polar knowledge score" improved from 53 to 59 percent.

Unlike polar knowledge, concern about climate change in the polar regions showed no up or down trend, and there were no changes in support for reserving the Antarctic for science. However, the researchers found there has been an increase in political disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on climate-related questions.

Why the energy industry is so invested in climate change denial

If we could see the world with a particularly illuminating set of spectacles, one of its most prominent features at the moment would be a giant carbon bubble, whose bursting someday will make the housing bubble of 2007 look like a lark.

Most of the media pays remarkably little attention to what's happening. Coverage of global warming has dipped 40% over the last two years. When, say, there's a rare outbreak of January tornadoes, TV anchors politely discuss "extreme weather," but climate change is the disaster that dare not speak its name.

The open question is why the fossil fuel industry persists in denial in the face of an endless body of fact showing climate change is the greatest danger we've ever faced.

Why doesn't it fold, the way the tobacco industry eventually did? Why doesn't it invest its riches in things like solar panels and so profit handsomely from the next generation of energy?

The answer is more interesting than you might think.

Part of it's simple enough: the giant energy companies are making so much money right now that they can't stop gorging themselves. ExxonMobil, year after year, pulls in more money than any company in history. Chevron's not far behind. Everyone in the business is swimming in money.

Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won't be burned if we ever take global warming seriously.

also How the 'wind farms increase climate change' myth was born

Such is the viral nature of information flow on the internet, we can sometimes see myths and memes developing before our very eyes. Just such an example has occurred over recent days with the rather irresistible news that wind farms can "increase climate change".

S - "Why doesn't it fold, the way the tobacco industry eventually did?"

It's rare to see such a blatantly incorrect statement on TOD and not have a pack of our resident attack dogs go after them. So the honor is mine I suppose.

The US is the SAUDI ARABIA OF TOBACCO! From http://topforeignstocks.com/2010/11/14/a-review-of-the-global-tobacco-in...

"Drawing on their experiences in the United States, these companies are having great success abroad. The United States is now home to two of the world's three largest multinational cigarette companies and is the world's largest exporter of cigarettes. Overseas, these companies use advertising and marketing techniques that have long been banned or restricted in the United States."

"While cigarette sales fell by 4.5 percent in North America between 1990 and 1995, they increased by 5.6 percent in Eastern Europe and 8 percent in the Asia-Pacific region. By the turn of the century, per capita consumption in developing countries will be greater than that of developed countries, says the World Health Organization (WHO). "There is no time to lose," says Barbara Zolty of the WHO. "Multinational [cigarette companies] are flooding [developing countries] with ads that say smoking is exciting, glamorous and Western. The situation is only going to get worse as more women and children start smoking."

"... are flooding [developing countries] with ads that say smoking is exciting, glamorous and Western." Sounds similar to what US auto makers have been doing for a while. Kinda like those warm fuzzy ads from Chevron telling everyone to not worry...be happy.

Don't worry about the oil price - the Saudi's will look after us;

Saudi Arabia Will Not Let Oil Go Above $100: Prince

An "element of fear" is playing into the price of oil despite higher supply and decreasing demand, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud told CNBC Monday.

Bin Talal, the billionaire member of the Saudi Arabian royal family who runs the Kingdom Holding Co., said the fear comes from "what may happen with Iran and the possibility of closing the Hormuz Strait."

But Saudi Arabia has already said it will not let the price of oil, which closed Monday around $97 a barrel, go above $100, bin Talal said.

"We can use our leverage, our excess capacity to be sure to pump more [oil] if needed so it will not impact the consumer countries while they’re getting out of their recessions slowly but surely," the prince said.

Hmm, he must have been talking about the WTI oil price, which is kinda funny, because that market is already flooded with excess capacity and I don;t think anything Saudi does will make any difference.

I wonder if he is prepared to bet his Crown on the WTI futures market to back this up?

The Saudi's probably watch our news which only reports WTI, and figured we think oil is just under a hundred, so why spoil the illusion? This is a case of MSM playing in to the idea of fooling people to keep the veil over our eyes regarding the real price (because most in the country are subject to Brent price) which comes back to bite us in the form of a lie by the Saudi's. Brilliant on their part.

You are probably right. But still, this would be a good time for another entity - a competing oil-exporting country - to call their bluff by reducing exports into the WTI market.
That country, would, of course, be Canada.

Just start sending the oilsands oil to the east coast, the west coast (by railcar if need be), or even leave some in the ground, just to reduce the supply going into the midwest, and see what happens.

This won't happen as Canada doesn't have a national oil company to play those games. But it sure would be interesting if that happened...

of course, some silliness by/against Iran will achieve the same result too...

In early 2004, the Saudis pledged to support the $22 to $28 price band, and they actually showed a very large increase in net oil exports from 2002 to 2005, but the post-2005 net export situation has been far different.

Incidentally, I suspect that WTI is probably the only crude oil price index below $100. Minas crude is at about $128.

wt - Along those lines I sold my last load of Texas coastal oil last Friday for $108.54/bbl. Someone asked why the CO gasoline was selling for around $2.90/gal (in Houston cheap gasoline in $3.37/gal). Again, simple supply and demand: Canadian crude priced as WTI in the mid west markets. And, again, why no Gulf Coast oil producer wants to see that Canadian crude reach our refineries. The majority of oil companies DO NOT want to see Keystone built. I think a lot folks are still having difficulty understanding that position...if they are aware of it at all.

We will have to agree to disagree regarding "Majority of oil companies." Everyone in Texas west of Port Arthur (at least those producers who can't economically get oil to Port Arthur), and the whole Mid-continent area north of Corpus Christi, all the way to Canada, is stuck with some percentage of WTI.

I'm still waiting for my oil purchaser to return my phone call in regard to my inquiry about barging oil to Port Arthur from West Central Texas.

wt - Actually you need to haul a litle further: Lake Charles. That's where mine is sold. Maybe you can cut a deal with AMTRAK. They don't seem to mind losing money.

But Saudi Arabia has already said it will not let the price of oil, which closed Monday around $97 a barrel, go above $100, bin Talal said.

The OPEC Basket Price closed yesterday at $113.41 and has not been below $100 since February 21 of 2011. Bin Talal knows that the WTI price has nothing to do with the OPEC basket price or the average world price for that matter. WTI is the Midwestern USA price, nothing more. Why would he say such a silly thing?

By the way the current Brent-WTI spread is at this moment, 7:00 AM Central Time, at $21.61. Brent just hit $117.54.

Ron P.

And Western Canadian Select was trading at about $69 at close yesterday, so the WCS-WTI spread is about $27, and the WCS-Brent spread is over $48. This is just crazy.

I wonder if anyone know what is going on in the Maldivides? There are riots against the president Mohamed Nasheed, instead supporting the vice precident Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik. The precident announced his resign yesterday in a speech on TV, citing he do not want to "rule with an iron fist" as the reason. The police is split up in two halfs, supporting each one side. The anti-president side have taken over the gouvernmental tv-station.

So, what is happening there?

My source is http://svt.se/2.22584/1.2701627/maldivernas_president_avgar?lid=puff_270... you can use some web translater to read it.

I wonder what makes fuzz about on sea level change? Hmmm...

Keep wondering I have been wondering as well. I don't expect that there will be a simple explanation Due too local conditions but a more global one.The explosion of revolutionary fervour in Islamic countries resembles very much the 1848 liberal revolution in Europe many of which were put down in the same bloody way. Like this so called Islamic spring they exploded in a short time over a large area. I don't remember what happened in Sweden during the 1848 waves of Revolution but my guess is that very little, Denmark gained its new constitution by a group of citizens petitioning the King, I presume in Sweden it was somewhat similar. The peripheries of Europe generally missed out, the same seems to be happening in the Islamic world. Unfortunately I don't expect that results will be similar after 1848 absolutism was out and Liberalism was in. I fear that Islamic teaching are too ossified to adapt and are still too strong to be broken so I expect that they will degenerate back into the same old system of totalitarianism with a different name.The Arab spring misses out summer and Autumn and dives straight back into winter. The Iranian revolution of 1979 is a classical example.

I don't expect that results will be similar after 1848 absolutism was out and Liberalism was in. I fear that Islamic teaching are too ossified to adapt and are still too strong to be broken so I expect that they will degenerate back into the same old system of totalitarianism with a different name.

Your example, yorkshire, could very well prove to be spot on actually. Yes 1848 gave rise to the promise of a new liberal future for Europe, but was eventually met by an equal and opposite reaction: the Second Empire (Napoleon III) in France, Bismarck in Prussia, and ultramontane dogmatics out of the Vatican.


an interesting footnote which you might find amusing is that at the beginning of the disturbances Napoleon III was living in exile in England, he is also buried in England by the way, along with his wife and son the Prince Imperial who died fighting in the British Army during the Zulu wars.
Apart from that there was a grand Chartist petition organised culminating in a meeting on what is now the Oval Cricket grounds.The British Government fearing trouble organised a squad of special constables. Napoleon most likely for a bit of pocket money joined and by all intents and purposes patrolled the streets London.

You might find this Photo interesting as it is supposed to be the first photo of a Political demonstration. Interesting thought to think that Napoleon might be wandering in this crowd




Thanks YM. Learn something new every day;-)

I agree . . . some of these countries may throw off the yoke of oppression of a dictator . . . and put on a yoke of oppression of religious dogma. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. But hopefully they'll manage to keep the systems fully democratic so they can change their minds later. Iran's system is only partially democratic . . . they get to vote but all the candidates need to be approved by the Mullahs and the Supreme Leader is still a cleric than can over-ruled the elected government.

There are some articles in English, like this one. And this one. Some background at Wikipedia.

Near as I can tell, the Maldives was ruled for decades by a dictator. Now they are a new democracy, and as we've seen in many other countries, democracy is not as easy as it looks, especially when people aren't used to it.

From Forbes: Fulsome Fossil Fuels And The 'Peak Oil' Myth

So, with “Peak Oil” exposed as yet another Chicken-Little fallacy, those of us who rejected the idea of CO2-caused planetary meltdown and instead embraced reduced dependence on foreign oil as a reason for widespread vehicle electrification are seemingly left with a solution, but no credible problem.

electric drive for vehicles is inherently more efficient than internal combustion, and the gap can only grow with the next generation of batteries storing five to 10 times as much energy as today’s lithium ion batteries.

But let’s shed ourselves of the notion that “we’re running out; gotta do something quick,” or, worse, “we only have a short window in which to act before we face climatic Armageddon.”

So we need not worry, we don't have to do anything quick because batteries that store 10 times as much energy as today's lithium Ion batteries are on their way and will save us from any kind of Armageddon.

Go back to sleep.

Fulsome is not a word I am familiar with, had to look it up.
fulsome adjective, 3. excessively or insincerely lavish 5. abundant or copious.

Ron P.

Fulsome is not a word I am familiar with, had to look it up.
fulsome adjective, 3. excessively or insincerely lavish 5. abundant or copious

Then we did learn something usefull from the article...

So we need not worry, we don't have to do anything quick because batteries that store 10 times as much energy as today's lithium Ion batteries are on their way and will save us from any kind of Armageddon.

Attentive readers know that you don't take hybrid/electric cars and trucks seriously, but they will expand considerably. However, they will not prevent the economic storm from strenghtening anytime soon.

You are simply wrong. I take electric cars very seriously and hope the electric car industry is very successful. I do not think that electric 18 wheeler trucks will be at all successful however but that is another matter altogether. And the article did not even mention hybrids.

The article basically said "technology will save us". I don't believe that for one minute. You probably knew that already but don't, from that, simply assume that I don't like electric cars. I do like them very much and hope to see more and more of them on the road.

Ron P.

I take electric cars very seriously

in combination with

The article basically said "technology will save us". I don't believe that for one minute.

was what I referred to. 'Not taking them seriously' is different from 'not liking them'.

Okay, let me try again. I take electric cars very seriously and I also like them. I think we will see a lot more electric cars in the future but I do not believe they will come up with a battery with 10 times the capacity of the current lithium ion batteries. I could be wrong of course but I seriously doubt it.

Han, please understand that believing that the world is deep, deep into overshoot does not mean that one is not for things, like the electric car, that will help stop the pollution and global warming. I am one of their biggest cheerleaders.

I would love to see climate change stopped now. I would love to see every car on the road electric. Won't happen of course but I would love to see it. And if it did happen it would not do anything to help the overshoot problem. And that is what will cause the collapse. Peak oil will only make it come a few years sooner... perhaps.

The idea that technology will solve the overshoot problem and save the world is just a little absurd to put it mildly.

Ron P.

The next time I buy a new car, it will probably be an electric. Trouble is, I haven't bought a new car since 1970 when I had a good paying job, the next one might be a long way off...

E. Swanson

I take electric cars very seriously and I also like them. I think we will see a lot more electric cars in the future but I do not believe they will come up with a battery with 10 times the capacity of the current lithium ion batteries.

In a discussion with Nick some time ago you didn't take them seriously as a solution for peakoil problems. Only that was my point, Ron. I have to agree with that, because most people still have no clue about what is going on the last 5 years.

I would love to see every car on the road electric. Won't happen of course but I would love to see it. And if it did happen it would not do anything to help the overshoot problem. And that is what will cause the collapse. Peak oil will only make it come a few years sooner... perhaps.

I think that peak oil plays a big role in speeding up the collapse. Otherwise, why bother to track oilproduction data so closely ? If peak oil causes collapse this decade, it will be more than a few years sooner.

If I was to buy a second car, it would probably be electric. However, I do not need a second car, and I frequently need to drive more than 80 miles a day. I own an $18,000 car which is not hybrid but betters 50mpg (US) about 65-70 mpg (UK). If I could buy a small (by US standards)
plug in serial hybrid with an electric range of 40 miles and a cost of less than $20,000 that would be my next purchase. The Volt is far too big, heavy and expensive.

I believe a Chinese company (BYD ?) sells a diesel serial hybrid which more or less matches this spec in China, but I hear it is a crude machine and not selling well. Once a few Japanese engineers get their hands on the patents, there is a chance of it being properly engineered coming to market worldwide.

Such a vehicle will not make much difference to PO at a global level, but would sustain my personal BAU for a few more years.

The Volt is expensive. But it is certainly not big. And isn't that heavy.

>I do not think that electric 18 wheeler trucks will be at all successful

They easily could be. All that is needed is to string electric wires over the interstates and run the trucks off those, as buses are run in many cities today. The truck needs only enough batteries for local travel off the interstate.

All of these people and their peak oil "myths" remind me of Baghdad Bob: There is no oil problem here; those high prices are simply an illusion.

One of the points I make in my book is that if oil had risen at the rate of inflation from 2000 to 2010, the price would have been about $33 a barrel. That should signal to everyone that something is going on. Oil prices are certainly not telling us that the world is swimming in excess oil supplies.

What the high prices are telling us is ...
1) Obama is restricting drilling leading to artificially low supplies
2) Oil companies are manipulating the price
3) Saudi Arabia is manipulating the price
4) Speculators are manipulating the price
Pick as many as needed to satisfy yourself that there is no fundamental problem.

Wow. Bob Lutz is really a massive fountain of delusional misinformation.

Climate change is real, Peak oil is not a myth, and the next generation of batteries are NOT going to be storing 5 to 10 times more energy for the same price, size, weight (and that is coming from a fan of EVs!). I even had to edit that last part because his claim didn't even make any logical sense . . . "with the next generation of batteries storing five to 10 times as much energy as today’s lithium ion batteries." . . . uh you can do that just by making the battery 5 to 10 times bigger, Bob.

What a total clown. Now I fully understand why GM went bankrupt . . . there is no way the company could make rational decisions with so much misinformation. Anyone that listens to Bob Lutz does so at their own peril.

Wow. Bob Lutz is really a massive fountain of delusional misinformation.


Mr.PLutz is right out of the Jurassic and is very homesick.

A number of years ago he was shilling for the Volt on Charlie Rose, but showed his cards a number of times, implying that the "greenies" forced GM to make the car. IIRC, he also made a reference about how the car would attract women, but not the kind you would want to take out.

Truly amazing, and he showed no sign of embarrassment, he was just being good ol' car guy Bob, pining for a 427 with an 800 CFM carburetor.

For a car his company was making! It wouldhave made perfect business sense to trash a Ford product, but he was trashing his own.
So now there are greenies like me who would love to have a plugin car, who are so turned off by Mr L, that I'll never buy any GM car. Then he gets mad when the rightwing talkshows make a big deal out the the batteryfire, trashing the Volt's market. So he has no friends left I would think.

Not just a car his company makes, a car that he was personally instrumental in pushing through the GM bureaucracy. He formerly worked at a battery company (Exide) and so he probably got a bit over-optimistic about what batteries can achieve. The Volt is really "his baby" and that is why he is so upset to see the right-wing attack it. But it is pretty funny to see him whine about them 'getting the Volt wrong' while he fully agrees with their climate-change denial and peak-oil denialism.

I think the Volt is a nice start. But it did not live up to the (over-optimistic) hype. They were trying to target a $30K price tag, provide 40 miles of EV range, and have near 50 MPG when driven on gasoline-only. The final vehicle cost $40K (ouch, a bit too expensive), provides ~35 miles of EV range (that's fine), and has ~36 MPG when driven on gasoline-only (a disappointment). If they can improve on it by lowering the cost, it will ultimately be a major power-train platform.

But any time I hear Bob Lutz talk about it, I just cringe. The guy is really an out-of-touch neanderthal. I think the combination of being old and extremely wealthy has disconnected him from reality. He doesn't accept new information and he really doesn't know what it is like for the average Joe.

My car cost $18,000, (including 20% sales tax) returns 50mpg, seats 5 (at a pinch) and has good cargo space. It is not even a hybrid. It will happily sit at the legal speed limit all day long, and can run as far as 700 miles on one tank (45 litres) of fuel, if driven at no more than 60 mph.

Why would I spend $40,000 on a Volt?

What car do you drive? I'm fairly certain that it is not available in the USA.

The Volt gets a $7500 tax-credit so its effective price is only $32,500. Still expensive but within a stone's throw of the average price of around $30K paid for new cars today.

And with the Volt, most owners are able to do their daily commute without burning up a single drop of gasoline. If you live in Europe and you commute by car, that would save you a few thousand dollars a year.

But the Volt is just a good start . . . they really need to get the price down if they want it to be really successful. The pure EV model may end up being more successful since it is probably hard to have two parallel drivetrains in a car.

'Doomsday Preppers' highlights extreme survival techniques

For some people, the end of the world as we know it is upon us, and there is no better time than now to start preparing.

Such is the concept of National Geographic Channel's new reality show Doomsday Preppers, which profiles Americans who have taken extreme measures to plan for a forthcoming apocalypse — whether natural disaster, nuclear war or economic crisis. The show premieres tonight with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 10 ET/PT.

The channel commissioned an online survey of 1,007 adults in the USA, and found that 61% of Americans believe the country will experience a major catastrophic event within the next 20 years, but only 15% feel they are fully prepared for it.

Despite the tone of the show (or at least the tone of the ads), I've heard that the CEO of NatGeo takes prepping seriously.

One thing which has always bothered me is the assumptions many of the survivalists make about their ability to 'bug out'. For instance if they have their shelter in a back woods area and they intend to get there under a TEOTWAWKI scenario there are several major problems.

1. Traveling along alternative routes such as railways is a sure fire way of looking suspicious to any locals in the areas you pass through. I suspect that if I knew the world was going to hell and I spotted someone traveling well armed like that I would be tempted to shoot first and ask questions later. A significant quantity of dogs in any area simply makes traveling unnoticed especially hard.

2. Assuming that their getaway will not have been pilfered by locals. If your neighbour is some absentee landowner who barely visits, you can easily raid the place first long before he or she gets there. You're better off actually living in an area than assuming that all will be well when you arrive. Once you do arrive you'll still be an outsider and if people are suspicious already they won't be happy to see you.

3. Many of the chosen spots to retreat to aren't exactly the most pleasant places to be without access to the comforts of modern civilization. If a lot of people don't live in an area there are usually some very good reasons for that. What you need is a temperate climate with abundant resources relative to population density. The goal isn't avoiding places which lack people, the goal is to find a place with a high per capita level of natural resources.

The bigger issue I see with this kind of "prepping" is the temporary nature of them - a cabin in the woods might be a fine hideout for several weeks, and even several months. Essentially until one's stores run out.

The question is what then ?

I've always viewed Peak Oil as rather different from things like earthquakes, where one can get out of the way until things return to "normal" - except, of course, in places like Haiti, where they haven't.

Peak Oil is a continuum - it can't be dodged by running away to a shelter and living off stores, until, somehow, things return to normal. It will be a lived experience - in other words, everyone has to pull together to create the new "normal" - whatever that turns out to look like.

I'm not naive enough to think this will come about without rampaging, riots and burning. People may well want to run away from that.

Essentially, though, things like producing food are a year-round project and can't be accomplished by people on the run.

Edit : I think we'd save a lot of resources in the long run by bypassing the "running" and going straight to the "problem-solving".

Maybe a good rule of the thumb is if you need supplies which last longer than about two weeks then you're probably facing problems which are too big to prepare for. One thing which is pretty certain is you need access to the ability to create potable water. Most people have enough food lying around even if it isn't stuff that they'd normally eat directly such as flour but water after a natural disaster such as flooding or an earthquake is another thing entirely.

Anyway I don't think of peak oil as the sole issue of importance. There are any number of real vulnerabilities in the human systems we've created and unfortunately peak oil is just one of many symptoms. One thing which I do find interesting is where to draw the line between entitlement and endowment. Do countries with low population densities and/or high resources per capita have an entitlement to consume resources at a much higher per capita level than countries which do not? On the flipside do countries which have the opposite have a right to ask countries which aren't overpopulated for a share of their excess resources?

"Maybe a good rule of the thumb is if you need supplies which last longer than about two weeks then you're probably facing problems which are too big to prepare for. "

In other words, how much doom do you expect? Having a cabin uphill to run to to get away from a hurricane is one thing. Trying to ride out a supervolcano eruption is another. Earthquakes come with the problem of no warning. There is no one size fits all solution.

Some in Survival forums formally break this into two distinct categories:
1) SHTF - example; Hurricane Katrina, a devastating, but localized and temporary disruption. This will "get fixed" as help enters the disrupted area from outside.
2) TEOTWAWKI - example; WWI, permanent, drastic change requiring a new paradigm for coping with a new reality.

The term "prepper", is meant to imply that the person is wacky. I mean, we should all trust and "Believe" in the government's ability to cover any and all problems that might arise, right? You don't question homeowner's insurance, even though it is "extremely" unlikely that your house will burn to the ground. By the way, my house, in Houston, did burn to the ground in 2004. Maybe it is just running on emotion to spend time preparing for such things, but if the act of doing something, anything, helps you control your feelings, then what can it hurt? By the way, some of that stuff comes in handy on a regular trip (think, flashlight in the car door).

Pocket flashlight and multi-tool always on hand.

Not just for when something exceptional goes wrong, but because they make lots of ordinary situations easier to deal with.

The term "prepper", is meant to imply that the person is wacky.

I don't think it is, actually. I think it's meant to avoid the stigma of the previous term: survivalist.

It probably can't avoid becoming a pejorative though - obviously if you're preparing for something you're not buying the happy talk and are therefore someone to be marginalized.

Yes. Then they'll invent a new term. The so-called "euphemism treadmill."

This is muchly a case of diminishing return. Let us take the case of going skiing for the afternoon in the mountains. Taking with you a compass, a blow whistle, a knife, matches, dry socks, a chocolate bar and a PET with water, possibly some cordage and map, will do a lot to increase your ability to avoid getting into a survivial situation, and survive it if you should. It is also easy to carry around. But from there on, every extra item you carry with you is less likely to be used or needed, and add ever more weight to your pack. There is a case where it just wont be worth it.

I have made two big steps to prepare; I payed off allmy debts and moved down from where I used to live and did not know anyone, down to here where I know a lot of people. I value those two preparations a thousand times higher than a basement full with food.

I was watching videos of folks fleeing their homes in Hom, Syria last night and noticed that they all were empty handed (except those carrying children). One would think that, under the circumstances (they knew that their town was being shelled, and that folks in nearby towns had needed to flee suddenly), they would have had some sort of small bugout pack handy with a few supplies.

While I expect to be one of the last folks who'll need to flee his home, I still keep a small pack with a few emergency items: a small first-aid kit; swiss army knife; a small LED flashlight; a couple of bottles of water and granola bars; some aspirin, antacid and antihistamine; a compact raincoat and space blanket; bic lighter; hat and gloves; hip flask; an old small GPS; some cash. It also carrys my little "Stalking Wolf survival pack" as detailed in Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival .

While this may seem like a lot, it's all only a few pounds and the little pack still has room for a light change of clothes, sweatshirt, my sidearm, cell phone, small radio (Grundig G3 All band), more. (More cash and ID should be kept on your person in case you are separated from your bugout pack.) This pack stays handy and gets tossed into the car/truck if I/we go on any trip more than a day or few miles.

My wife has her purse ;-)

Probably their 'bug-out bag' wouldn't make it past the first checkpoint.

It certainly wouldn't if they don't have one.

Ordered the book. Knowledge weighs zero, and will slip through checkpoints.

'My wife has her purse ;-)'

Commonly known as a bag of holding :)


Where would they 'bug out' to? They are almost certainly an ethnic or social minority in a city surrounded by tanks and snipers, in an area which has kicked out the official 'rule of law', and where government snipers will shoot anything that moves. The city is surrounded by desert scrub crawling with government troops. Also, they almost certainly could not afford or have any access to most of the technology on your list.

If they do make it out of the city alive ( by being fast on their feet and with access to a car and a route through the blockade) they will drive to a non-blockaded town where they almost certainly have relatives who will put them up.

Where would they bug out to? I don't know, but they were certainly bugging out, and empty-handed. And I don't expect these folks to have or need all of the stuff on my list. I was just making a note that they were fleeing with nothing. Seemed a bit odd under the circumstances, as if they were discounting the future. Understandable I guess.

They are running for their lives from sniper fire. They have only come into the open because they have run out of food and water. There isn't any more extreme case of discounting the future.

It might be safer to seem to be fleeing with nothing, and have a few important things slipped into pockets

I guess they are just desperate.

Yes. Maybe they just aren't that oriented toward possessions. I remember reading about a culture where women typically owned just one pot and one knife. It made housekeeping very simple.

I was thinking more along the lines of a couple of bottles of water, maybe a bit of food, a jacket, perhaps. Even the ones carrying small children seemed to have no baby supplies. When we had babies, we always had the emergency baby bag ready to go, if nothing else, in case of fire, etc. Of course, we weren't being shot at :-0

Maybe they don't need baby supplies.

Dunno about Syria, but in many countries, babies don't wear diapers. They are breast-fed, so don't need bottles. What else do you need?

Probably much better at surviving off the land, I mean surviving not living. Death in the next 5 minutes a higher concern than death in the next 5 days - something might turn up.


Americans... No... Modern comfortable peoples?... Have no idea what war is.

I would put up the quite famous image of the little girl running away from the napalm attack in Vietnam... and be truly bewildered and amazed if the conversation devolved into "where's her kit?".

TOD Community Mod/Leanan: optional sentence:
Artillery is really fun. When the rounds explode, the pressure wave ruptures the abdomen. The entrails are left lying strewn as a plume extending away from the fallen in a direction away from the blast. I can't even guide you to those images in this online world... that has been so sanitized in support of this mass delusion about what a range of realities the human world offers.

Yes, they are fleeing for their lives.

'if the conversation devolved into "where's her kit?"'

ISTR there was concern about the photo because of that. Shows the poverty of focus on such matters.


My wife has her purse ;-)

Fortunately, purses contain Hammerspace. Warning: TVTropes will ruin your life.

Of course it's the Mormons who are the original preppers; they have been stockpiling supplies and planning for the collapse of civilization since their founding. It's an integral part of their core beliefs.

I seem to recall that the Mormons are supposed to have a two-year supply of food and enough land to grow their own food on, in case civilization comes to a sudden end, hence the prevalence of half-acre lots in Mormon towns.

I can vouch for the big lots, since I have stayed in some pretty nice places in Utah when on vacation there. I can't speak to whether they keep a two year supply of canned goods on hand, because I haven't checked. (I Don't like to snoop.)

The only problem is that they wouldn't have enough liquor to get you through a serious crisis, and the lack of coffee would be a problem, too.

Not sure half an acre would be enough, though I guess it depends on family size.

There was that "Mystery at Webb Hill" web site (that is now defunct, alas). They found a skeleton in a cave, and were trying to find out who it belonged to. It was in Utah. The local historians said that people in town lived on 1-acre lots and grew most of their own food. That was considered unusually cramped, but they wanted to foster a sense of community, so went with tiny lots.

The skeleton was of a 14 year old boy - apparently a migrant worker from back east, who got sick and died without anyone realizing it. It was apparently quite common, a hundred years ago. Farmers had trouble supporting all their children, so would boot out the older ones to make room for the younger ones. It was not unusual for boys that young to head west on their own, hoping to make their fortunes.

I just read an interesting piece by a PhD theologian who states Mormonism is a suburban religion, the only major religion to go from rural areas to the suburbs, bypassing the city. Their churches are on the outskirts of town, in the suburbs, and the major cathedrals are outside the city, usually at an interstate exchange. Cited were DC, Boston, Seattle.

I doubt that most present day Mormons grow their own food in the suburbs, and also that many keep a full 2 yr supply anymore.

Apparently the Mormon requirement for a two year supply of food has been reduced to one year, apparently on the assumption that they are going to be growing their own food by then.

If somebody told me I needed a one-year emergency supply of food, I would buy 365 boxes of Kraft Dinner and 365 cans of pork and beans, plus the giant economy size of vitamin pills. I mean, why make this more complicated than you need to?

When I am flying into a remote backcountry lodge, I usually take a box of Kraft Dinner in my pack because I hate Kraft Dinner and I know I won't eat it except in an emergency. You never know when you might get weathered in for a day or two when the helicopter can't fly. If it's longer than that you could start making traps for the local wildlife.

The lodges, though, usually keep couple of weeks worth of emergency food hidden away somewhere, so you can just call them up on the VHF radio and ask them where it is.

You can get food from a Mormon cannery: http://www.providentliving.org/

Here's an explanation of the Mormon policy regarding food storage.

72hr Kits: A 72hr Kit is usually a backpack or other easy to carry bag that has enough supplies it it for one person for 72hrs. This might include food, water, personal hygiene products, first aid supplies, and anything else that might come in handy. The purpose of the 72hr kit is to provide “essentials” in the case of an emergency that might drive you from your home.

...basically a three day bug-out bag.

Year Supply: The “year’s supply” of food that the Mormon church is famous for is a councel that is given to all members of the Mormon faith, and really, to everyone. There isn’t a person out there that would not benefit from having such a backup supply on-hand. The food storage that most people reference when talking about mormon food storage is the Years supply.

...though it may not be a good idea to advertise your preparations:

Federal agents raid Mormon food storage facility, demand list of customers storing emergency food

NaturalNews) This story has been updated with new developments that include news channel 5 confirming door-to-door questioning of Tennessee citizens about their stored food, as well as the cannery in question here now reversing their original account and saying it never happened. Read those developments at:

http://www.naturalnews.com/034381_Tennessee_cannery_stored_food.html :

Citizens in Tennessee are being asked by government workers to divulge details about their preparedness plans in a door-to-door "assessment" program reported by Janet Kim from local news channel 5 (http://www.newschannel5.com/story/15948523/door-to-door-assessment-for-di...). During this assessment, government workers ask residents 22 questions about their preparedness status. NaturalNews has confirmed through reliable sources that these include questions about emergency food supplies.

Fortunately, this effort is being done by a Tennessee group of state employees who are widely recognized throughout the preparedness community as being "good guys" who are truly just trying to help people get prepared. They are not interested in confiscation or anything of the kind, according to our sources. It's a local community preparedness support effort.

This rather strange story goes on to suggest that the folks at the cannery changed their story because of a "sneak-and-peak' gag order written into the Patriot act, or that Church Elders told them to clam up.

In my childhood I watched a TV program from the US. A man of pre-european background was educating his son how to grow corn. "It will be good to know when the white mans world comes to an end" the old man said. I guess his son is now 40-something. If he payed some heed to his fathers advice, he should be in a better possition right now.

I remember thinking that "the end" would never come. Or at least not in my time.

And here is yours truly.... :-)

Mexican farmers suffer worst drought in 70 years

"(Reuters) - Mexico is being battered its worst drought in seven decades, which has devastated farm life and is expected to continue into next year.

The lack of rainfall has affected almost 70 percent of the country and northern states like Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas have suffered the most acute water shortage."

Edit : more on this topic :-

Mexican aid lags for starving Tarahumara Indians

Sorry is this is already posted,but this is the headline story on Bloomberg:

Americans Gaining Energy Independence

The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.

Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.

So, it starts then. Unemployment is fixed, now oil is fixed. All we need to do is believe, and vote.

EDIT: And, I would guess that this summer, if the gasoline price goes up over $4 again, we will achieve even more energy independence. Or as the Saudis like to put it, "fully supplied".

Heck, with that much lipstick the ol' pig is lookin' pretty fine!

"Energy Independence" has got to be one of the worst terms ever made into a poltical slogan. First and foremost, every living being is absolutely dependent on energy. In fact, the only time we become "Energy Independent" is when we DIE and are freed from our energy dependence.

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- Russia's leading natural gas supplier Gazprom has admitted it's having trouble keeping up with European demand, but denies that it has broken any export contracts. According to Dow Jones Newswires, Gazprom's deputy chief executive officer, Alexander Medvedev, said during an interview on Russian TV Monday that Gazprom's supplies to Europe were down 15% last week, but added the company is still working in accordance with the contracts. Medvedev attributed the supply crunch to abnormally frigid temperatures in the region, which pushed up European demand over 20% last week. Dow Jones added that decreased gas flow has been reported in Romania, Germany and Italy, but that levels appear to be back to normal in other European nations.

What is Europe's plan when Russia can no longer keep them supplied with gas?


Intermediate gas storage facilities is gonna become a busting business the next 10 years.
If you pay a little extra you get stable flow.

Complexity is eating at us. Soon (say within ten years) there will be stories of villages without gas for 2 days
and frozen pipes. One problem leading to another.

An article about a bridge over the Delaware River (along the border of NY and PA):

Pond Eddy’s super span

This little village with about a dozen permanent residents have no other vehicular access to the outside world than across this span.

The problem is the bridge, put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, has been deemed unsafe without drastically lowering the weight limit. Despite temporary repairs to raise the limit somewhat, the Pond Eddy people are cut off from service by heavy fire trucks or other necessary big vehicles.

There are a lot of such bridges and communities in that part of the Delaware River. The bridges are typically one lane only, and the traffic is so low this isn't a problem.

This particular bridge has deteriorated to the point that normal snowfall can exceed the weight limit. Some want to build a big, modern bridge, for the future when high speed rail connects this rural area with NYC. (This probably won't be in the lifetime of anyone now on this earth, peak oil or no.) Others want to pay the 12 people who live there to move to someplace more accessible.

Be interesting to see how these things work out. Will people give up on their homes if there's no vehicular access, and move somewhere else? Or stay put, even if means no cars?

This looks an awful lot like a bog-standard problem with big, bloated, metastasizing government and its infinite supply of one-size-fits-all bureaucratic red tape. Apparently one must either build a huge monster, or else nothing at all.

The article states that the concrete replacement bridge will be around $12 million, or about a million per resident. Looking at Google there appears to be a forest service road (or right-of-way) of some kind going down river to Port Jervis and I-84, but it's a long way.

Since Pond Eddy is on the edge of a large wildlife/game lands area, the bridge would have recreational uses as well. I expect that this will be the residents' ace in the hole. Beautiful area, BTW.

Two of our school buses had to detour 12 miles around a lake, through Georgia, for most of a school year a few years back until the Feds temporarily recertified a bridge by making it one lane and reducing the weight limit (which is frequently ignored). This small bridge has been scheduled for replacement four times since '85, but it always gets cut out of the budget at some point. The last time they were there, the engineers didn't look happy. I doubt it'll ever get replaced, 'cause this is what peak oil looks like. Maybe the state will just deed that land to Georgia. I expect we'll see a lot of this sort of thing in the future.

Looking at Google there appears to be a forest service road (or right-of-way) of some kind going down river to Port Jervis and I-84, but it's a long way.

I would guess that's either a railroad or a towpath. They used to have mules pull barges along the river.

Might be needing those for the reason they were built. ;-)

In Sweden we have some 6000 inhabited islands. No sorry, that was just the islands in the Stockholm archipalego. In the country total, there are even more. Thousands upon thousands of those islands have no bridges at all. And they go along nicely. They use boats. What is the problem?

Seems I am spreading false rumors.

Sweden have oficillay 221800 islands. 123 459 of these are in rivers and lakes, the rest in the sea. 1085 of all islands have permanent residents. 598 have no bridge. Only 133 of the inhabited islands had more than 10 inhabitants. More than 90% of all islands have a surface below 10000 m2.

Data from 2008. Source: http://www.scb.se/Pages/PressArchive____259759.aspx?PressReleaseID=275645

The figure of 6000 inhabited islands must be from non-permanently populated islands, since it is very common with summer houses in this country. Sweden also have among the highest boats per capita number in the world.

How does one go faster than the speed of one's own voice? Without a jet or rocket? Ask skydiver Felix Baumgartner.

Not 'the man of steel' but a man with nerves of steel. He is planning to plummet to earth from the lofty height of 36 kms, a mind-numbing 120,000 feet.

An Austrian adventurer planning the highest skydive in history has announced that he will make the record attempt later this year.

Felix Baumgartner will jump from a balloon 36.5km (120,000ft) up, where a leak in his pressurised suit could lead to a rapid loss of consciousness.

He will fall so fast that he becomes the first person to go faster than the speed of sound unaided by a machine.

Many have sought to achieve the feat down the decades but all have failed.

Admittedly not much to do with oil, but energy of a different ilk - an interesting bit of science and adventure rolled into one.

Well, there's 7B more where that came from.

Quite an interesting article from Gulf News! It appears that the obvious has become so OBVIOUS that even died-to-the-wolf oil patch cornucopians can't avoid it any longer. Oil is on a downward path; unfortunately they have yet to appreciate how short and rocky that path is going to be!

Peak oil is when the maximum rate of world oil production is reached and the rate enters terminal decline. The idea was proposed by King Hubbert in 1956. He accurately predicted that US oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970 and that world oil production would peak in 1995. However, it did not, due to the rise in oil prices and the persistent substitution of oil by other energy sources in the 1970s and 1980s, thus shifting the time when the peak would be reached.

M. King Hubbert's insight was close to a stroke of genius! His recognition that US oil production could be closely approximated by a Logistic distribution produces impressions of a seer. He accomplished this with an incomplete 1955 data-set of US production, no high speed easily accessible computing power, and before Quantile Statistics was even invented (Parzen 1979)! His achievement was truly amazing. The extrapolation of his curve to world production is certainly understandable. Unfortunately, it was wrong!

The Identification Plot of world oil production, for the Logistic function [z, ln(p/q)] gives long tails on both ends of the distribution. Hubbert's 12 year miss was not because of a "rise in oil prices and the persistent substitution of oil by other energy sources in the 1970s and 1980s". It was simply that he guessed at a distribution that (at that time) there was insufficient data, and tools for him to accurately determine! World oil production is best modeled by a Power distribution [ln(x), ln(p)] - and it's right on schedule!

The IEA suggests that current production capacity will fall from 80 million bpd now to 15 million by 2035

Oil production requires tremendous inputs and outputs, to and from, the integrated global economy. No sovereign has the capacity today to produce oil without the technology and markets provided by others. With the decade of the 2020's generating slowly declining production and rapidly accelerating prices, culminating in an early 2028-2030 collapse in production - the very existence of that necessary economy by 2035 has to be questioned. The IEA's prediction should be taken as being on the optimistic side.

Of course, no one denies the abundant reserves of non-conventional oil, where estimates in Canada have ranged from 1-1.7 trillion barrels, and around one trillion barrels in the United States — with more to come from Venezuela and other countries.

Of course there is a large reserve of something that resembles oil. Unfortunately the oil industry has become so immersed in geology that it has often ignored the fact that the other branches of science might present constraints to their ambitions. A cursory look at world oil reserves tells us that the presences of oil is a"necessary but not sufficient condition" for its extraction. It must have a "fitness for use criteria" satisfied; it has to provide a service to the end consumer to be marketable. Not all oil can accomplish that objective. It must be able to contribute a definite percentage of its potential energy to the general economy to be serviceable.

What remains of serviceable reserve is approximately 420 billion barrels. Some of that will remain in the ground; extracting the last 5% will be orders of magnitude more expensive than was the first 5.

The Hill's Group

What remains of serviceable reserve is approximately 420 billion barrels.

Well my estimate would be that we about 600 to 700 billion barrels of current reserves, or about half of the EIA, IEA and BP estimates. But I would just love to know how you came up with that 420 billion barrel figure.

Ron P.

It must be able to contribute a definite percentage of its potential energy to the general economy to be serviceable.

If they are trimming off the oil below 5-8 to 1 EROI then 420 billion remaining is very possible. The shape of the decline curve will depend on how much other energy sources are able to subsidize oil (cheap chinese coal for drill and casing pipe etc). It will be interesting to read the report.

What remains of serviceable reserve is approximately 420 billion barrels.

A lot more pessimistic than ASPO. With almost 30 billion barrels gone every year, big problems are just around the corner then.

I try to understand Hubbers 2000-prediction in another way.

Hubberts belived that Peak Oil (he died before the coining of the term) was to be no problem, because technology would save us. In due time some other tech would step in and take over. First he belived in nuclear, but changed his mind and went solar. I can confirm this because I have seen an interview with him from before he died.

Now, assuming there are a tech to take over, we would get a nice, bell shaped curve. Nobody would go after the expensive hard to get poor quality oils, we just switch to alternatives, and use the easy oil for as long as we got it.

But no replacement tech came, and we are stuck with oil. So oil workers have to work extra to squeeze those extra drops of oil out of the ground, extending the plateu as long as possible. 'cus ther ain't no other way to go.

Hubberts was wrong. But he was wrong because he was to optimistic.

He was trying to make an extremely difficult prediction with incomplete information and a simplistic methodoloy. We really didn't know how much oil there was around the world. And his methodology was very crude, it required reliance on the central limit theorem to balance out a lot of factors that change things. And Unconventional oil really wasn't even considered back then. So it is not surprising that his number was wrong. It was amazing that he got the USA peak as well as he did. But the big picture is still true.

But I would just love to know how you came up with that 420 billion barrel figure.

Ron P.

We'll be putting up a site with the basic theory and its application in a few weeks.

Thanks for asking

Who will be putting up a site with that basic theory, The Hill's Group? I googled that and got a mortgage company. I am not trying to be difficult, I am really anxious to see this site when you put it up. I want to know what to look for.

Ron P.

Oil is of the most vital importance to modern society. One would be fair in saying that we have an oil based civilization. In spite of its very essential function there is only incomplete information concerning how much of it there is, how long it's going to last, or what it is going to cost.

The Hill's Group is a confederation of engineers and technicians (some of us retired) who have come together to determine answers for these most pressing questions. We have no affiliation with the oil industry or any government agency. We do this on our own time and out of our own pockets. We have no interest in the results of our study accept that it produces an evaluation that is as accurate as possible. An evaluation that is necessary for the benefit of all concerned - and all concerned encompasses most of humanity.

We are aware that we are going to have to tread very lightly. This information has the potential to affect $trillions.

U.S. to lease waters off Mid-Atlantic for wind farms

Lighting Maryland homes with power from giant turbines off Ocean City moved closer to reality Thursday, as federal officials announced they are ready to lease vast areas along the Mid-Atlantic coast for wind farms.

It's still likely to be at least five years before construction begins, industry officials and supporters said, assuming the projects costing billions of dollars clear all the regulatory, political and economic hurdles still confronting them.

California hits wind energy milestone: About 5 percent of power from wind

California now gets about 5 percent of its electricity from wind power, according to data released Tuesday by the California Wind Energy Association.

The majority of California's electricity - 42 percent - comes from natural gas, followed by nuclear power and hydropower. According to 2010 figures from the California Energy Commission, wind made up 4.7 percent of the state's electricity mix and solar was 0.3 percent. California has set an ambitious goal of getting 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020

Unnoticed elsewhere, Japan has suddenly found itself in the middle of an influenza epidemic which so far seems to be restricted within its borders.

Flu hits 'alarm level' for 1st time this winter

Influenza reached the "alarm level" for the first time this season after an estimated 1.73 million flu cases were reported last week, an increase of more than 50 percent from the previous week, the health ministry said Friday.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, about 5,000 medical institutions throughout the country reported an average of 35.95 flu cases in the week starting Jan. 23, exceeding the alarm level of 30, ministry officials said.

...The Type A Hong Kong flu virus accounted for about 90 percent of these cases. As this virus has not seriously hit the country for the past four seasons, most new infections have been among children who have not built up their immunity to it.

NPB / Virulent influenza strain hits Japanese baseball

An influenza epidemic is spreading through Japanese professional baseball just as players are entering spring training.

The Yokohama DeNA BayStars have been worst affected, with five players and staff succumbing to the flu, including manager Kiyoshi Nakahata, slugger Alex Ramirez and DeNA team president Jun Ikeda. Nakahata returned to training on Feb. 7.

“We’re in a state of a minor panic,” said DeNA pitching coach Yui Tomori.

Google Flu Trends which is a near realŧime (1 day delayed) estimate of flu activity suggests there has been another large increase since the figures reported for last week. Google flu trends is usually at least a week ahead of official figures which are based on the previous week's reports.

The outbreak is an H3N2 (Hong Kong) flu variant and numbers infected suggest it might be a partial vaccine escape mutation but most recent testing results have not been released yet. It is unusual for an outbreak of such magnitude to be localised to one country (at least for any length of time). H3N2 is widely circulating in the USA and Europe but not beyond relatively low seasonal normal levels.

Google Flu Trends Japan

Note: the slight change in slope at the end does not mean the rise is necessarily slowing. It is just a confusing way Google plot partial week data. Downloading the data shows the calculated daily rate of increase is about the same as it was last week.

Energy mythbusting: The truth about those energy-saving tips

Some common recommendations for cutting energy use don't save as much as we're led to believe, said Michael Blasnik, a building-science consultant from the Boston area. Blasnik analyzes and evaluates energy efficiency claims, and he's found that some widely cited savings don't hold up to scrutiny.

"A lot of things have really not been evaluated. ... It's remarkable how little research has been done on what really saves energy," Blasnik said.

-Replacing windows. ... won't pay for themselves in energy savings

-Weather-sealing windows and doors. ... caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows saved $7 to $28 a year.

-Tuning up a furnace yearly ... The annual energy saving from tuning up a gas furnace is minimal - anywhere from nothing at all to $42,

Window replacement unless needed is not normally very efficient energeticaly. However, choosing energy efficient windows from start has an incredible EROI.

Well, it leaves me wondering if he has simply done the equivalent of 'patching selected holes in the bottom of the boat', which is what any of these measures really amounts to on their own.

My work at my 3-unit, over the last several years, has progressively brought the oil down by roughly 80-100 gallons/year, overall from 1500 to less than 1000 over those 6-7 0dd years..

I have done caulking, attic, window replacement, chimney drafts, this that and the other. The oil numbers 'might' just be from warmer and warmer winters, but my Heating Degree Days comparisons don't show that so much.

.. it's hard to buy all this 'hard-nosed debunking' after a while.. sheesh!

Navy to begin tests on electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.

Navy planners are targeting a 50- to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.

"Last time I saw one of those, they were mounted on a battle ship".

These are basically two thick copper rods, with a conducting projectile between them. You short a capacitor bank onto the setup. Where the current flows from the base to the projectile and back down the other conductor. You have a strong magnetic field behind the projectile, none in front of the projectile. There is a huge amount of arcing, and both the projectile and the bars ablate some material off. These used to be one shot than take it apart and rebuild guns. I heard they can now get maybe 100 shots before having to do a major rebuild.

Note the projectile suffers from both high acceleration and high currents, so the plan is for the projectile to be just a dumb slug of metal, i.e no terminal guidance. Now any irregularities will lead to dispersion of where it hits. I can't imagine the aim would be good enough, unless you want to hit the broad side of a nearby barn!

Depleted uranium; it's cheaper than tungsten carbide :-/

Fukushima sees big drop in number of elementary students

Even amid the low birthrate and declining school enrollment nationwide, Fukushima Prefecture stood out in the drop in the number of elementary students last year, apparently triggered by the evacuation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The number of elementary students in Fukushima Prefecture, as of May 1 last year, was down 9,240 or 7.9 percent year on year, according to the final results of a basic school survey that were released Feb. 6 by the education ministry.

Most of the decrease is thought to be due to children who moved out of the prefecture for fear of radiation after the nuclear plant crisis following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

"Parents of younger kids probably had stronger desire to avoid the effects of radiation," an education ministry official said.

No surprise there. Definitely an illustration of attitudes towards radiation threats, as well as the explicit and continued evacuation of much of the area.

Peanut Shortage Will Require Demand Rationing, Oil World Says

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- World production of peanuts is forecast to slip 0.7 percent in 2011-12 after drought reduced the crop in the U.S. and Senegal, causing a shortfall that will require global demand rationing this season, Oil World said.

The harvest of peanuts, or groundnuts, is forecast to decline to 24.8 million metric tons from 25 million tons, on top of “relatively low” carryover stocks, the Hamburg-based oilseed researcher said today in a report.

... “World demand will need to be rationed this season after growing steadily in recent years.”

Four flights delayed by fuel shortage

A total of four flights were delayed on Monday morning at [Milwaukee] Mitchell International Airport because of a shortage of aviation fuel.

The problem stemmed in part from an incident late last month in which an estimated 9,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a Shell Oil Co. pipeline at the airport.

9,000 gallons shouldn't be much for an airport though. A 747 can hold over 60,000.

So you want an American lifestyle? Be careful what you ask for.

China: Fast food nation. Too fast economy?

Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500) said Tuesday morning that its profits topped estimates, helped by a 10% jump in volume in China. Emerging markets are a key focus for Coke as the beverage market matures in the U.S.

Likewise, KFC owner Yum! Brands (YUM, Fortune 500) posted tastier than expected earnings after the bell Monday, and that was due largely to its amazing growth in China.

Same-store sales for Yum's KFC and Pizza Hut franchises in China surged 21% in the fourth quarter. Same-store sales, which measure sales at stores open at least a year, are a key metric for restaurants and retailers.

More soda pop, fried chicken and pizza? Yum! That's one way to slow population growth.

...and on a related note: China faces 'diabetes epidemic', research suggests

Rapid economic growth has affected public health, through urbanisation, changed diets and more sedentary lifestyles, researchers said.

Rigorous new tests suggested that more than 92 million Chinese adults had diabetes and that nearly 150 million more were showing early symptoms, researchers said.

This represents a major public health problem for the authorities in Beijing as diabetes is a major factor in illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, correspondents say.

"In the last 10 years, with the country's economy expanding quickly and people's standard of living improving, people's lifestyles have changed," said Yang Wenying, one of the report's 20 authors, who is head of endocrinology at Beijing's China-Japan Friendship Hospital.

Breakfast in America China...

And now we can sell them our best Diabetes medications. :-)

To really do the job how about sending them some tasty recipes?

From Paula Deen..... the Unabomber of cooking!

More soda pop, fried chicken and pizza? Yum! That's one way to slow population growth.

Only immeasurably slightly. The life-shortening effects of the associated diseases show up mainly in middle age and beyond - well past the usual age-range for reproduction. And, really, modern medicine seems to enable most people to outlive both their bodies and their minds anyhow, even if they are obese, diabetic, etc.

So maybe, in some sense, it is becoming more of an aesthetic issue, and less an issue of enormous loss of, as the Brits call them, Quality Adjusted Life Years. And maybe, in the end, that's partly why it just doesn't seem to be worrisome enough to most people to motivate any action (aside from pill-taking) that would be strong enough to deliver a long-term result.

Or, as Kingsley Amis has been said to have put it: “There is no pleasure I could be induced to forgo by the prospect of two extra years in a nursing home.”

For those interested in honeybee research, a new paper has been posted to PloS One. It relates to the common practice of feeding of sugar or sugar syrup to honeybees instead of honey, and how this impacts bee resistance to toxins.

Ecologically Appropriate Xenobiotics Induce Cytochrome P450s in Apis mellifera

Since bees are subject to so many external threats, anyone involved in beekeeping should understand the impacts of feeding processed sugars instead of honey. Of course, anyone interested in how phytochemicals in honey could positively impact human health might find this worth reading also.

FYI: If you've ever wondered about spent nuclear fuel canisters, I came across this the other day: Holtec International.. "How it's made".

"Nuclear waste, it sits in a holding pattern..."

I guess that's one way of putting it :-0

Are these what I have heard referred to as Dry cask storage units?

Yes. After being removed from the reactor core, the fuel assemblies are placed in "wet" storage, pools of water, until they are "cool" enough to be transfered to these containers. This can take a decade or more depending on the type of fuel and level of depletion. After transfer to the containers,, who knows? There isn't a plan that I know of since Yucca Mountain was canceled, but the contents will be lethal to virtually all life for tens of thousands of years.

Around 12,000 tons per year, globally, are being added to this wicked legacy. Since these canisters will likely last longer than any of us, rest easy; it won't be our problem, though we'll surely be remembered as the most incredibly ignorant, selfish and short sighted generations in history, if we're remembered at all :-/

And they are located in areas of higher population density, most of which are that way because they were the best places to support life. Eventually they will become areas toxic to life if that fuel is not moved, cask or not.

I've read suggestions that the waste should be scattered across the last remaining rainforests. The radioactivity wouldn't be as harmful to the flora and fauna as bulldozers and chainsaws. But this wouldn't work anyhow, the desperate poor would probably still go into those areas.

Backlog sees Canadian crude price tumble

Crude oil from Canada is being offered for half of international prices as increasing output from the world’s sixth biggest producer threatens to overwhelm regional pipelines and refineries.

Western Canada Select, blended from heavy tar sands crudes, this week sold for $62.42 a barrel, according to data from Platts, the energy information service. Brent crude, the global benchmark, on Tuesday topped $117 for the first time since August.

This also represents the deepest discount to US crude in more than four years, reflecting Canadian producers’ few options for delivering their oil and problems at refineries in the region. It comes weeks after Barack Obama, US president, blocked plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry more than 1m barrels a day from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

Oil production in western Canada grew by 7 per cent last year, according to the National Energy Board.

The Big Bounce and Canadian Crude Hit a Wall

After three weeks in which US retail gasoline sales improved about 6% higher from the low point around New Year's, gasoline demand lost about half that gain last week – falling about 2.8%. It’s not clear what caused that downturn, but it is normally a seasonally slow week for the retail industry and some parts of the country experienced a jump in gasoline station prices.

Meanwhile reports (see directly above) reports of a ‘backlog’ of Canadian oil has caused the spread between various grades of tar sands crude and the futures benchmark - WTI - to fall to nearly record levels. Discounts to WTI were as high as $38 on one key grade within the last day.

Improved refinery operations, the Canadian oil backlog and some fog related shipping problems along the Gulf of Mexico coast, which slowed imports, acted to reduce US oil inventories – if the reported 4.5 million barrel drop reported by the API this evening is generally accurate. Conversely, the API reported a gain of about 4.4 million barrels in gasoline inventories may reflect a more typical seasonal desire to build up gasoline inventories in advance of the ‘summer driving season’.

The largest cross-country pipeline by volume, the Colonial Pipeline, was still operating at or near maximum capacity for gasoline and diesel shipments since shortly as it has been since shortly after New Year’s. Reports continue to indicate that Northeast refiners and fuel distributors continue to develop new and inventive new ways (logistics) to increase supplies in the Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-NYC-Boston metropolis.

Assuming that this week’s downturn in retail demand is temporary, consumer demand may be running into a brick wall of constrained supply before long.

Refinery Closures Would Disrupt Supply Chain, Marketers Say

Crude glut in U.S. suppresses Canadian oil prices

U.S. Gasoline Demand Declined 2.8% Last Week, MasterCard Says

Oil Gains a Second Day on Demand Outlook as API Says U.S. Stockpiles Drop

With Canadian oil production rising relentlessly as new oil sands plants come on-line, and the Keystone XL pipeline to get it to the Gulf of Mexico stalled by political inaction in the US, Canadian oil producing provinces are getting desperate. The Alberta government is now to the point where it is willing to bribe the BC government to get a pipeline to the West Coast.

Alberta seeks way to pay for B.C. support of pipeline

The Alberta government is looking to clear a path for the oil sands through British Columbia by upping the economic benefits for its western neighbour – including the option of paying to modernize and expand West Coast ports.

Premier Alison Redford’s government stressed Tuesday there were no formal discussions, much less a formal proposal, but some in the Alberta government acknowledge that British Columbians need to see a tangible benefit if they are to bear the risks of an oil pipeline and associated West Coast tanker traffic headed to Asia.

However, there is friction within Ms. Redford’s government about how far it should go to address B.C.’s concerns, and political worries about any move that could be perceived as handing over a share of Alberta’s energy royalties.

Under one proposal being discussed, Alberta could team up with Ottawa to support a broader western industrial corridor project. Money devoted to that project could go to building up West Coast port infrastructure, or to support northern British Columbia communities along the way. Such an industrial corridor would do more than transport energy – it would also be used for moving other products, such as potash.

The Canadian government is not exactly a disinterested party in this, either, because it is probably making more in corporate income tax and value-added tax than the Alberta government is making in royalties. Everyone is thinking of ways to sweeten the pot for BC to get it onside with respect to a pipeline. Meanwhile, the Canadian Prime Minister is in China cozying up to smoothing out relations with government officials there.

An update on Robert and Wilma Hartford, the Maine couple who were struggling to stay warm:

After NYT article on hard heating times in Maine, the donations come pouring in

PERU, Maine — Hometown Energy owner Ike Libby said Monday night that Americans have sent his company more than $100,000 since it was mentioned Saturday in a front-page article in the The New York Times on Mainers struggling to heat their homes this winter.

He said he was too busy answering the phone at his business at 90 Weld St. in Dixfield to tally the amount of donations given to pay for heating fuel deliveries to the needy, especially the elderly.


On Sunday, representatives from Upright Frameworks in Wilton, Energy Circle Pro in Freeport and Complete Home Evaluation Services of Brunswick visited the Hartfords’ house to assess its energy efficiency.

Josh Wojcik, who runs Upright Frameworks, said he knew the core of the heating problem was heating efficiency so he and project manager Kevin Casey offered their services to fix the Hartfords’ house.

See: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/07/news/lewiston-auburn/dixfield-fuel...

It's heartening to see so many people offering their assistance. A toast to the good folks of Maine and to everyone else who opened their hearts and wallets, and as Tiny Tim might say, "God bless you one and all".


Thanks for the Update, Paul.

I'm glad the weatherizers stepped in. It's amazing how much bickering followed that article. People are so riled.. I just want to go insulate some more.. but I'll sleep now, instead...