Drumbeat: February 29, 2012

Facing the Facts on Fossil Fuel (Part 1)

We are so accustomed to our dependence on petroleum that discussions of alternative energy futures take its convenience and efficiency for granted.

The End of the Petroleum Era (Part 2)

Those who argue that there will never be a final "oil crisis" fail to recognize resource limits.

Oil Set for Best Monthly Advance Since October on Recovery Signs, Iran

Oil rose, heading for its best month in New York since October, amid signs of economic recovery and concern that tension with Iran threatens global crude supplies.

West Texas Intermediate futures climbed as much as 0.8 percent after sliding yesterday the most in five weeks. Industrial output in Japan and South Korea beat estimates and U.S. consumer confidence rose to the highest level in a year. Oil has advanced 8.6 percent in February, its first monthly gain in three, as sanctions tighten against Iran, OPEC’s second- biggest producer.

OPEC oil output rises in February-Reuters survey

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil output has risen in February to the highest since October 2008 due to a further recovery in Libya's production, as well as higher supplies from Angola and Saudi Arabia, a Reuters survey found on Wednesday.

Gas prices spike 8% in February

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- February has been one heck of a month for American motorists, who have been hit with an 8% spike in the price of gas. And things are expected to get worse during the summer driving season, when gas prices could break their current record.

On Wednesday, the price of unleaded gasoline rose for the 22nd day in a row to a nationwide average of $3.73 per gallon, according to the motorist group AAA.

Why Americans Are Paying More At the Pump

Turmoil abroad and rising costs at home means consumers will have to shell out more for gas this summer

Gas prices--already the highest they've ever been in January and February--shot up nearly 30 cents over the past month to a national average of about $3.70 per gallon, sparking worries that a steep increase in fuel costs could crimp consumer spending and hobble an economy that is just starting to show signs of life.

Small firms prep for rise in gas prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Businesses that rely on fuel to get their products directly to customers are bracing for a sharp rise in gas prices.

Among those most affected are online grocers, Internet bakers and food trucks.

Some are considering options they took during the last oil price peak in 2008: jack up prices, shrink service areas and cut jobs.

Surging Global Oil Thirst Inflicts Pump Pain Back Home

There is, of course, a “fear premium” caused by the prospect of a new war, and an “inflation premium” caused by the Federal Reserve’s monetary promiscuity, but there are some more onerous factors at work, too. Bureaucracy among them.

A word of warning, if you’ve got any strains of “free market” blood coursing through your veins, be prepared for those platelets to begin boiling.

Alaska's oil windfall

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Alaska has a big vested interest in high oil and gas prices.

Oil revenue accounts for 90% of the state's tax haul. So its budget swells and oil royalties gush into a special state investment fund -- the only one of its kind in the United States.

And that can translate into windfalls for residents, who share in the oil bounty through annual dividends paid by the fund and, in boom times, direct payments from the state.

Gulf airlines see jet fuel price climb 3% in one week

Jet fuel costs being borne by Middle East airlines jumped by almost 3 per cent in just one week, and are up over 11 per cent on last year’s prices, according to the aviation industry’s fuel watchdog.

Empower says bigger bills not its fault

Empower, one of the biggest district cooling companies in Dubai, has denied raising charges for its customers after its revenue increased dramatically last year.

The utility instead blamed increased water and electricity costs, which it says it passed on to consumers, resulting in higher bills for a number of Dubai residents.

As gas prices rise, Republican candidates step up the attacks on Obama’s energy policy

ALLEN PARK, Mich -- Newt Gingrich this weekend issued a special thank you shout-out to President Obama for recently making a nationally-televised speech on America's energy policy, which Gingrich believes merely increased Americans' concerns over high gas prices.

"I want to thank the president for the timing," the former House Speaker and presidential candidate said Saturday in a speech to the California Republican Convention in Burlingame, Calif.

Gingrich kicks off focus on South in Georgia

In Dalton, Gingrich said North Dakota's oil boom proves that the USA can produce enough domestic oil for its needs. "The No. 1 thing North Dakota proves is that the idea of peak oil, that we're about to run out, is simply false," he said. "We will probably, by the end of the decade, be the largest oil-producing country in the world."

Thanks to Mr. Obama, America is running on empty

As a candidate, Barack Obama declared that now was the time to end our dependence on foreign oil. But as president, he decided that major task could wait.

And today, gas prices are skyrocketing. Americans have seen price spikes before, but this is different. It’s February—months from the summer driving season. We’ve never seen price spikes this early in the year.

Presidential Oil Lies

Dear reader, in this election year, the lies are already flying fast and hard.

And while the fibs cover many topics, the myths about energy are most material to our goals here...

No matter which side you lean toward personally, distortion of the truth from either side is detrimental to your bottom line.

Lawmakers eye options for bringing residents relief at the gas pump

Lawmakers representing southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia said they were seeking ways to reduce gasoline prices.

“Well, of course, I have supported for a long time using our own resources and being aggressive about it,” said U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., who added that he has supported offshore drilling near Virginia as early as 2005.

“I also think we need to do what I call ‘drill, dig, discover and deregulation,’” Griffith added.

A model of oil prices

In a decade of studying oil data, I’ve seen these kinds of panics and heard the same misguided interpretations over and over. So I know that if you really want to understand why oil prices are what they are, you need a much more sophisticated model which accounts for supply and demand, along with a great deal of additional complexity. Today I’ll share a conceptual model I created which, while by no means comprehensive, should give you a much better understanding of oil prices both in the past and the future.

But before I do that, I will explain some important concepts for the uninitiated.

New-look oil rush shifting global markets

Here's another structural transformation to add to all the others that you have to get your head around: it's the transformation of global energy markets as a result of shale oil and gas.

We've already got the digital revolution and the switch from consumption to savings after the GFC, not to mention the rise of China and India. Now we have the death of peak oil.

Fuelling The Rise Of The Anglosphere

In Britain, North Sea oil and gas is a resource that just refuses to quit.

UK’s energy production falls by 14 per cent

THE UK’s energy production fell by 14 per cent last year as a result of decreased gas and oil output from the continental shelf, according to the latest figures.

Natural gas – a fuel too far?

I once hitched a lift from New York to London in the private jet of an American gas billionaire. Robert Hefner III, who pioneered the drilling of deep wells in the 1960s, was planning to write a book and wanted to discuss it.

The Grand Energy Transition would argue that natural gas will solve “peak oil”, when global oil production starts to decline, and dramatically cut US emissions of greenhouse gases. Abundant and clean, gas offered a perfect bridging fuel to a future of limitless low-carbon energy based on hydrogen.

That was five years ago, with gas prices approaching near-record highs, so I was sceptical to say the least. But these days the US is awash with cheap, newly producible shale gas, and enthusiasts claim this “revolution” can be repeated around the world. So could it be that Mr Hefner, despite his obvious commercial interest, was right all along?

Trucks Run on Natural Gas in Pickens Clean Energy Drive

A Made-in-America fuel source may soon be moving tractor-trailers across the U.S.

Carriers like Ryder System Inc. (R) are buying long-haul trucks that run on natural gas, around $1.50 a gallon cheaper than diesel. As adoption grows, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (CLNE) and Westport Innovations Inc. (WPT) plan to profit from a marriage of technology and domestic energy that has the political blessing of President Barack Obama and the financial backing of T. Boone Pickens.

North Dakota Oil Output May Top High as Weather Allows Drilling

Oil production in North Dakota may have exceeded an all-time high last month as mild weather and lower-than-normal snowfall allowed drilling to increase. The number of wells started rose to 212 in January from 181 in December and 140 a year earlier, according to a preliminary estimate from Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

Putin says intends to free up offshore oil and gas

(Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, all but certain to return to the presidency after the March 4 election, said on Wednesday that the government should free up access to lucrative oil and gas offshore deposits, local newswires reported.

"We have made a decision that state-controlled companies may work offshore in the Northern seas... We have to work out what more should be done in this respect to increase such possibilities," he said according to Interfax.

Gazprom in Talks to Buy Greek Gas Monopoly

Russian gas giant Gazprom may buy stakes in Greece's DEPA gas monopoly and its transport branch DESFA to provide direct supplies to European consumers, Vedomosti business daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Uganda Central Bank Warns Of Risks On Oil Revenue Use

The governor of Uganda's central bank Monday warned against the swift use of oil money for capital projects, underscoring mounting tensions over oil revenue management in the East African nation.

Conflict looms in South China Sea oil rush

(Reuters) - When Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban received an urgent phone call from an oil company saying two Chinese vessels were threatening to ram their survey ship, the Philippine commander's message was clear: don't move, we will come to the rescue.

Within hours, a Philippine surveillance plane, patrol ships and light attack aircraft arrived in the disputed area of Reed Bank in the South China Sea. By then the Chinese boats had left after chasing away the survey ship, Veritas Voyager, hired by U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc.

Clinton: Japan, EU working to comply with Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday pledged to aggressively implement new U.S. sanctions on Iran but noted that some allies such as Japan face "unique situations" as they seek to reduce Iranian oil imports.

President Barack Obama on December 31 signed into law the harshest in a series of U.S. sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, targeting foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank or other blacklisted Iranian financial entities.

Japan says likely to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will likely avoid U.S. sanctions against Iran as it is continuing to reduce imports of Iranian oil, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Wednesday.

The sanctions, aimed at pressuring Tehran to prevent its nuclear program being used to make weapons, will punish financial institutions that deal with Iran's central bank, the channel for oil transactions.

India Said to Consider Asking Iran to Deliver Oil, Arrange Cargo Insurance

India may ask Iran to take responsibility for delivering crude to the South Asian nation, allowing domestic refiners to avoid arranging insurance on the shipments, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Iran 'to accept payment in gold for oil'

Iran is to accept gold instead of dollars as payment for its oil, the country's state news agency has said.

The move comes as US and European Union sanctions against Iran have made it difficult for buyers to make dollar payments to Iranian banks.

Iran seeks to sell crude in Asia as sanctions bite-traders

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Iran is trying to sell about 200,000 tonnes of crude oil from a supertanker floating off Singapore, traders said on Wednesday, a rare move that highlights how U.S. and European sanctions on Tehran's oil exports are hindering sales.

In another sign of Iran's difficulties, traders say a second supertanker that is heading towards China with about 270,000 tonnes of crude oil is carrying volumes which are above the usual term-contract supplies to the world's second largest oil consumer.

Iran offers Pakistan 80,000 bpd of oil - official

(Reuters) - Iran has offered 80,000 barrels per day of oil to Pakistan on a three-month deferred payment plan, an official in Islamabad said on Wednesday, in an attempt to soften the impact of Western sanctions and ease some of Pakistan's energy needs.

Syrian activists appeal to West to be 'adopted'

BERLIN – The website pictures show the selection up for adoption: Kobani, Al Hasaka and Barzeh. What at first glance might appear to be abandoned pets in need of good homes are actually the names of Syrian revolutionary groups asking for help from the West.

Interview: Russia "could soften" Syria stance after poll

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Moscow may soften its opposition to coordinated international action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after Russia holds its presidential election next week, a leading Lebanese politician has said.

International efforts to stop Assad's violent crackdown on protests have been deadlocked after Russia and China vetoed an Arab and Western-backed draft U.N. resolution which would have paved the way for the Syrian ruler to step aside.

Venezuela to Continue Supplying Oil to Syria as Sanctions Widen

Venezuela said it will continue to ship fuel to Syria as Europe extends sanctions on the nation for using military force to quell civilian dissent against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“We’ve sent Syria two cargoes of diesel and shipments will continue as they are needed,” Venezuela’s Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters during a signing ceremony with Chinese officials in Caracas yesterday. “We have a high degree of friendship and cooperation with Syria, a country under siege.”

Insiders: U.S. Should Hold Off on Cutting Aid to Egypt, Arming Syrian Rebels

Even though Congress is fuming over Egypt's decision to prosecute American civil-society workers in its courts, two-thirds of National Journal's National Security Insiders said the United States should not yet cut off aid to the country.

Argentina turns away two cruise ships in Falkland Islands dispute

The diplomatic row between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands escalated a notch today when two ships carrying British passengers — P&O Cruises' Adonia and Princess Cruises' Star Princess — were turned away from the Argentine port of Ushuaia.

A spokeswoman for P&O Cruises said the official reason given for Adonia being denied entry to the port was "due to the ship having been in the Falkland Islands on Saturday." Adonia is on an 87-night round South America cruise.

TransCanada to go ahead with part of controversial pipeline

To capitalize on the boom in U.S. oil production, a Canadian company announced Monday that it will split a controversial pipeline rejected by President Obama and start building the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion.

Why the Keystone pipeline would boost pump prices

The proposed pipeline would relieve a glut of crude oil backing up in the Midwest and redirect those barrels to Gulf of Mexico ports. From there they could be shipped to world markets and repriced at higher global prices.

But that likely would mean higher prices for drivers in the nation's midsection, who currently are enjoying an unusual discount stemming from a lack of pipeline capacity.

After Oil Spill, Chevron 'Saved' By Brazilian Court

A federal judge in Brazil denied an injunction to suspend the local operations of U.S. oil major Chevron. and rig operator Transocean, saying that the injunction would have punished the companies before they had a chance to defend themselves in court, The U.S.-Brazil Business Council said on their website Tuesday.

BP Investors See Spill Deal Narrowing $44 Billion Gap: Energy

BP Plc investors said progress toward a settlement with the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster signals a share-price rebound, closing the $44 billion gap with the company’s value before the worst U.S. oil spill.

BP rose to a 13-month high above 500 pence in London trading yesterday after the trial to apportion blame for the disaster was delayed by a week to allow time to reach an accord with lawyers representing businesses and residents. The stock may gain a further 15 percent, presuming the company keeps payments for the spill within $10 billion of the $37 billion it has already set aside in costs, said broker Brewin Dolphin Ltd.

The Best Way to Profit From the Monterey Shale

It has been a long time since California has seen a profit opportunity like this.

The state's Monterey Shale formation may hold as much as 500 billion barrels of oil making it more valuable than the gold rush of 1848.

W. Pa. tests: Chemicals in drilling area water

EVANS CITY, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania woman says state environmental officials refused to do follow-up tests after their lab reported her drinking water contained chemicals that could be from nearby gas drilling.

At least 10 households in the rural Woodlands community, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, have complained that recent drilling impacted their water in different ways.

Albany gas drill foes see veto-proof vote

ALBANY — Hydrofracking opponents said Friday they now have a veto-proof majority to again pass a citywide ban on gas drilling that Mayor Jerry Jennings struck down in October.

Emboldened by a judge's ruling this week in favor of a Tompkins County town that also used zoning law to bar shale gas exploration within its boundaries, Councilman Dominick Calsolaro said he will reintroduce his ordinance — criticized by some as largely symbolic — to the Common Council in March.

Ohio Fracking Foes Push Water Safety, Republicans Tout Jobs

House Republicans went to eastern Ohio touting hydraulic fracturing to add U.S. jobs and cut fuel costs. Instead, lawmakers met skeptical residents, highlighting the divide over environmental concerns about fracking.

Western Pennsylvania wells had casing failures in complaint area

PITTSBURGH -- At least two gas wells near a community that's complained of sudden drinking water pollution developed casing problems during the drilling process, but neither Rex Energy Corp. nor state environmental regulators disclosed those problems during recent discussions about the contamination.

Study: Japan feared 'devil's chain reaction' at nuke plant

Japan's prime minister ordered workers to remain at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant last March as fears mounted of a "devil's chain reaction" that would force tens of millions of people to flee Tokyo, a new investigative report shows.

Nuclear-Free Summer Looms Over Japan’s West in Risk to Recovery From Quake

Japan’s economic rebound from the deepest contraction among advanced nations after Greece and Portugal may be stunted this year as power shortages threaten its western region.

Why Uranium Miners Will Continue To Outperform Over The Long Term

Understandably, the economic upturn in 2012, and fears of inflation due to skyrocketing oil prices above $110 a barrel is a factor in this atomic revival. Nevertheless, the world is becoming increasingly aware of the deficiencies of coal, solar and natural gas to offer competitive advantages in the growing quest for inexpensive and safe source of electricity. The uranium miners are outperforming the general equity market so far in 2012.

Obama's Algae Biofuel Proposal Could Be His 'Lunar Base' Moment

COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama's suggestion that the solution to America's energy woes can be found in algae might well be his "lunar base" moment. Like Newt Gingrich's lunar base, algae derived biofuel is something well founded in science that is a target for ridicule.

When Oil Rides High The Snakeoil Flows

Showing the Obama administration's close linkage with Silicon Valley's class of high profile geek billionaires, and Obama's eagerness to throw more US public money their way "to reinvent energy and save the planet", ARPA has again marshaledBill Gates, Vinod Khosla and other administration-friendly billionaires and power brokers, like Bill Clinton. This year, Gates and Clinton will be there in person to advise on how to throw public money at energy vanity tech and keep geeks happy.

$5 Gas Paves The Way For Natural Gas And Electric Vehicles

I believe it is time to seriously consider new means of transportation. And so, the main question: what displaces gasoline?

I believe there are two solutions: natural gas and electric vehicles.

My Great Hope for the Future

In this post, I offer a rosy vision for what I think we could accomplish in the near term to maximize our chances of coming out shiny and happy on the tail end of the fossil fuel saga. I’m no visionary, and this exercise represents a stretch for a physicist. But at least I can sketch a low-risk, physically viable route to the future. I can—in part—vouch for its physical viability based on my own dramatic reductions in energy footprint. I cannot vouch for the realism of the overall scheme. It’s a dream and a hope—a fool’s hope, really—and very, very far from a prediction or a blueprint. I’ve closed all the exits to get your attention. Now we’ll start looking at ways to nose out of our box in a safe and satisfying way.

Study: New children's books lack reference to nature, animals

Children have been enjoying stories set in forests and jungles since Little Red Riding Hood, but natural environments are disappearing from kids' picture books today as more are set inside homes and other built environments, a study shows.

Some employers want return of vo-ed training

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hit on a hot-button issue over the weekend when he called President Barack Obama "a snob" for his views on higher education. "He wants everybody in America to go to college," Santorum said.

The Tea Party may have loved the jab, but Santorum's comment touched on a real issue facing businesses that is rarely discussed in education policy debates: a lack of well-trained high-school graduates ready for the workforce.

Wyoming lawmaker introduces doomsday bill

According to the Star-Tribune, House Bill 85 would create a state-run “government continuity task force,” to prepare Wyoming for potential disruptions in food and energy to a complete breakdown of the federal government.

Miller is also asking for the task force to look into creating its own state currency in the event the dollar loses value entirely.

Gross ads disgust consumers into action

Again and again, the study found, advertisements that try to simply "scare" consumers into actions — such as buying protective sunscreens or avoiding dangerous drugs — are far less effective than ads that also "disgust" consumers into taking the action. The best way to elicit disgust: Display totally gross images.

Cities cry out for growing-pain relief

MELBOURNE'S growth areas won't be sustainable in the near future unless more government funding is allocated for public transport and roads, a forum was told last week.

What Happens When The Costs Of A Globalized Economy Grow Out Of Control?

You might be into eating local, but if the costs of oil balloon, you won’t have much choice about it. Cheap fuel is what powers global trade, but a future without cheap food might force a "relocalization" of our economy.

Beware of Sustainable Development

The reason central planning doesn’t work is that we cannot know what the needs of future generations will be. The concept of sustainable development is actually one of arrogance. How is your crystal ball working?

For instance, a sustainable development planner in the 1890s would seek to control whale oil for heating, rock salt for food preservation, and draft horses for transportation and agriculture. Fifty years ago, who would have considered the role rare earth minerals play in our current electronic age? Under the illogic of sustainable development, no generation has the right to use or draw-down the natural resource base given that a future generation has a claim on those resources, and the generation after that has a claim and so on, i.e., no resource rights exist for any generation.

Sowing the seeds of urban agriculture

EDMONTON - City gardens, so shaggy, green and hopeful in the face of all that asphalt and concrete, are inspiring on all sorts of levels. But until I read Jennifer Cockrall-King’s new book, Food and the City, I hadn’t imagined that urban gardens could change the world.

Introducing the Zero Mile Diet

You’ve probably heard about the hundred mile diet, a social movement which advocates eating food grown within 100 miles which minimizes the ecological footprint by reducing reliance on imported food because of the financial and environmental cost of transportation.

But what about The Zero Mile Diet?

The concept is the title of a best-selling book by Carolyn Herriot, an organic gardening guru from Vancouver Island. Her book is a month-by-month guide that steers readers down the garden path to the world of edible plants.

Reality Check: How much of an environmental bad guy are the Alberta oilsands?

If some of the headlines were to be believed, a recent report from one of Canada's more prominent climate scientists seemed to suggest that maybe the Alberta oilsands won't be such a big environmental bad guy after all.

Coal is really the black devil when it comes to pumping greenhouse gases into the air.

Trouble was, that's not exactly what the research published in the journal Nature Climate Change said.

Belief in global warming soars as mercury rises

A poll suggests personal observations are the basis for much of the opinion on climate change.

Arctic sea ice decline may be driving snowy winters seen in recent years

A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology provides further evidence of a relationship between melting ice in the Arctic regions and widespread cold outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere. The study's findings could be used to improve seasonal forecasting of snow and temperature anomalies across northern continents.

Since the level of Arctic sea ice set a new record low in 2007, significantly above-normal winter snow cover has been seen in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China. During the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record.

Counting the Family Carbon

Several studies have examined urban and rural per-capita carbon emissions, and we are not that unusual. Urbanites tend to have smaller carbon footprints than people in rural areas. The major difference is transportation.

Canada's carbon lesson: Just put a price on it

Five years ago, the province of British Columbia launched a quest to slash its carbon emissions. Here's what it has learned.

"We will probably, by the end of the decade, be the largest oil-producing country in the world."

Newt Gingrich - 2/28/2012

I suppose that ME oil production could drop off that much. And, from recent posts it looks like Russia's production might lead the way.

Of course, if you break the Arab League into its components, we are already #3 in the world with 8.8MB/d production, and so if Russia drops by about 1.4MB/d and KSA by 1MB/d, all we need do is add .1MB/d to make it to the top. Big deal!

The Arab League, though, produces more than 24MB/d, and considered as a unit is not likely to drop sufficiently to propel the US into #1 in production.


Of course, if you break the Arab League into its components, we are already #3 in the world with 8.8MB/d production,

I don't know what you are counting there Zaphod, but it is probably Crude Oil, NGPL, and Other Liquids. I think that is misleading because the US produces more natural gas liquids, or bottled gas as I call it, than anyone else in the world. That is really great but it is not oil. I, and most of us on this list, like to look at Crude + Condensate. That is real oil and the stuff that can be refined into diesel, gasoline and other petroleum products. Of course we are still #3 on that list but not nearly as close.

World's top six C+C producers in thousands of barrels per day, average for first 11 months of 2011.

Russia	9,764
Saudi	9,422
USA	5,653
Iran	4,080
China	4,064
Mexico	2,875

Ron P.


Doing this on the fly lately... working 6-7 days/wk and 11+ hrs/day!


Craig, for starters you misread your chart on Wiki. It has the US producing 7.8 mb/d, not 8.8. It is Saudi, on that list, that produced 8.8 mb/d. However one of my main complaints with "All Liquids" is that it counts "refinery process gain". From your link:

Note that oil production refers to the sum of barrels of crude oil extracted each day from drilling operations compounded with the equivalent production of natural gas liquids and refinery gains from domestic or imported petroleum production.

Notice it says the refinery process gain is counted on imported oil as well as domestic oil. The US, in 2011, produced 1.079 million barrels per day of process gain, with 60% of that on imported oil. Total Energy

Note: This EIA site gives the total amount of process gain but not where it came from. But we imported 60% of all the crude oil we consumed in 2011 so 60% of process gain came from imported oil.

But let's not digress from the purpose of your original post. It was to point out that Newt Gringrich states that we will likely be the world's largest producer of oil by the end of the decade. That means we will either increase production by 4 million barrels per day or Saudi and Russia will both drop low enough for us to catch them. They both may drop but we will never increase by anywhere close to that amount.

Ron P.

Process gain is an accounting adjustment for the fact that products are lower density than the crude oil they came from. There is an increase in volume that the US government thinks it has to account for, so they show this as US production. It is as if the refineries were producing oil.

In reality, if they accounted for oil by mass rather than volume, there would be no process gain. The European refineries account for oil in tonnes rather than barrels, so they do not have any process gain. Mass in equals mass out.

Canada accounts for oil in cubic metres, but ignores process gain because it doesn't reflect any physical reality. It just accept the fact that a refinery will have a larger volume output than input, but that doesn't mean anything.

Surely all of this nonsense could be avoided if the accounting was done in terms of energy?

There is already an industry standard unit, the Barrel of Oil Equivalent, that is specifically used to avoid these conversion issues, why not use this when talking refinery inputs and outputs?

Then the energy inputs - Crude, NG and electricity, can be directly compared to the energy outputs -saleable refined products (gas, liquid, solid), and, of course, lost energy as heat.

This would show that the refinery process is, of course, net energy negative, as the 2nd law of thermodynamics will tell us...

Refinery "gain" is a physical illusion of the energy reality...

That's right, Paul. And, it drives me half crazy! Pretending that they are actually creating more oil during the refining process, and then using that gain to show how great things really are.

I don't know which is worse, that or pretending that splitting water into h2 and 0, and claiming that you have created some new energy source when you put it back together.


Surely all of this nonsense could be avoided if the accounting was done in terms of energy?

No, because you'd have people who'd spend time debating the validity of the accounting entries.

eMergy values depend on what the human intelligence factor for X process is. And here on TOD you can go back into the past discussions about the energy value of corn ethanol.

But doesn't some of the mass come from natural gas inputs? Does the processing gain or lose any other molecules, say Oxygen or Hydrogen, which might come from or turn into water? I suspect any real honest accounting method might be messy, -especially if you have to account for different types of input streams.

Well, they do add hydrogen and other gases in the refining process, but they can be accounted for by mass, too. Mass of Crude Oil + Mass of Hydrogen = Mass of Refined Products.

No matter what you do, the Law of Conservation of Mass prevails. OTOH, do it by volume and the volume of hydrogen completely screws up the accounting.

I'm not that happy with mass either, as the chemical energy content per unit mass is going to differ depending upon the composition. So the energy content metric is probably best.

I don't like the energy unit myself. It is not easy to imagine. I can imagine a cubic kilometer of oil. I can not imagine even a Mega Joule.

Bottom line is there are no perfect way to do it. My vote is for cubic meter or metric tonnes. Preferably the latter.

The way to visualize it is that in US units 1000 cubic feet of gas contain about 1 GJ of energy, and 1 barrel of oil contains about 6 GJ of energy. In metric units, 1000 cubic metres of gas contains about 35 GJ of energy, and one cubic metre of oil contains about 38 GJ of energy.

A tonne of crude oil has about 45 GJ of energy in it.

But that's just an average. The energy content of oil and gas varies widely depending on the density and chemical composition of the oil and gas, and companies don't usually know the exact chemical composition of the oil in their tanks (although they can test it and find out).

They generally do know the chemical composition of their natural gas and usually convert volume to energy units when they sell it to the consumer, because what they are selling is heating value.

I'm not really up on refinery methods, so someone who is feel free to correct me, and I don't know whether or not Euro refineries claim process gain.

However, if "other" chemicals are added during the process, and become incorporated into the product, it seems that the volume or mass of the "others" would add to the volume or mass of petroleum and be counted as process gain(?)

Equally, if volume and not mass is all that is involved, creating a product that expands volume would account for it without any 'other' materials being added. Like saying that the process of freezing water gives rise to water process gain?

So, there are two ways in which process gain could be accounted. Simple process change with no additional mass, or additional materials.


Well, yes, freezing water would result in process gain because water expands when you freeze it. OTOH, if you account for it by mass, the mass stays the same.

When we blended heavy oil with condensate to get it to flow through pipelines, the combined volume would be less than the sum of the oil and condensate volumes. We had to apply a shrinkage factor that depended on the ratio of the two to get the volumes to balance.

Similarly, if we had two gas pipelines with different component mixes that flowed into one, and we put meters on all three, the volumes on the three meters would never balance. Something weird would happen to the gases when they mixed and the output volume would never be the sum of the two input volumes. However if we used mass meters they would balance.

The accountants had a real problem accepting this kind of thing. They thought someone must have made an error somewhere.

Sort of like volume of sugar added to water = volume of water (until the limit of dissolution is reached) I suppose. Instead of volumes adding, one compound's molecules intersperse with the other, creating a compacted and heavier, but not necessarily larger volume of material.

I would think that as studied as aromatic hydrocarbons are, they would have that down to, well, a science?

I would think that combined mass would always stay the same, while volume could change.


Simple really, the Accountants learned BUSINESS calculus (basically spreadsheet calculations and double entry book keeping with flair.) The Petroleum Engineers learned CALCULUS. I use one to bend the rules on my taxes, I use the other to describe reality from a certain perspective.

...the volumes on the three meters would never balance.

I'm with the accountants:

pv = znRT, until repealed. (Unless you are talking about gasoline and not natural gas).

That's the Ideal Gas Law. We were dealing with gases that did not follow the ideal gas law. For some of the gas compositions we had to deal with, the deviations from the Ideal Gas Law were huge.

And then there was the phase change issue - The plant inputs were a mixture of gases and liquids, and some of the gases would change into liquids and some of the liquids would change into gases, depending on the pressure and temperature.

That's the Ideal Gas Law.

No. That is the real gas law. The ideal gas law is pv = nRT.

Your meters must not have been corrected for the 'z' factor.

I'm still with the accountants - there was something missing.

Okay, I missed the "z" in the formula (one of the drawbacks of speed-reading). However it takes about a page of calculations to determine the "z", and there is a lot of debate about which formulas to use. No, our meters did not compensate for the "z" factor because we would have needed on-line chromatographs and a small computer to do it since the composition kept changing.

Let me qualify my previous statement: The financial accountants had a real problem accepting this kind of thing. The production accountants had a real problem because only a few of them understood how to do the calculation.

I did particularly well as a consultant because I have a degree in chemistry, a degree in computer science, and an advanced certificate in production accounting, so I could program a computer to do the calculation. This really contributed a lot to my retirement fund.

But, suffice it to say that this is not a normal calculation and it would completely baffle most of the bureaucrats in the US Energy Information Administration. Hence, "refinery gain" is as good as it gets for them.

Tom, in a complex mixture with multiple gas and liquids and a varying temp, you're not going to calculate a useful z. You're going to need to look at what really happens and go with that. If something changes down the road, you then figure out why.

...you're not going to calculate a useful z. You're going to need to look at what really happens and go with that.

Thanks for the insight. That's real good 'ole boy of ya. LOL !

Why bother to meter the gas without a composition ? temperature recorder ?

Schrodinger's is unsolvable except for the simplest systems. Same with Einstein's field equations. Same with gas law, you make approximations then you check the real data.
Isn't the context clear here? In the end, isn't z just a fudge factor to make the ideal gas law match real life (dressed up with a little math)?
Of course you measure temp & composition, we're talking nRT right? And composition since different gases deviate from ideal in different ways. But in the end z is just a tool to predict what is really happening, a tool that originally, if I remember correctly, was derived from careful measurement of other physical systems,then you need to look at your physical system. Which was my point.
Sometimes it seems to me that academic types like to bang each other over the head with their edgy-cation. Then they need a good 'ole boy like me to bring them down to earth, so they don't get hurt.

The math only gets you so far. Then it becomes an art.

Here is another thing people do not realize:

If ice float in water and melt, what happen to the surface? Answear: it rices slightly. How? If the water is sea water (with a salt content), and the ice is free from salt (shelf ice deatached from Antarctica, for example) the density will decrese slightly when salt and fresh water mixes. This process contributes about the width of a hair every year to sea level rice, and if all land based ice melts, will add 3 cm to the overall result.

I won't do any math for this whimsical speculation but what if the USA "annexed" Canada (or at least the places where the oil sands are--aren't they near the border?)---you know, "US interests at stake", or for "defending" that new oil pipeline.

Then maybe Newt would be right? Taken together, Canada plus USA would be number 1.

And what if there was some sort of political trouble in Russia, leading to a drastic decline in oil production?

And if the same thing occured in Saudi?

USA, always fascinated by being number 1

Maybe not so whimsical, the USA either waits for the dollar to depreciate sufficiently that CTL and GTL becomes economical or we find someone with large oil reserves to form a currency union. The idea of Americans paying $6/gal while across the border the Canadians are paying $3/gal might be difficult for a lot of Americans.

Not sure that Yankees would take up arms and storm their northern brothers & sisters with gas at $6.00/gallon (come on ... your're a wealthy country, and lots of the civilised world have been paying more than that for generations). But if it reached - say $16.00 a gallon - then that might get some of the Minutemen a little excited.

I think the RCMP should do a recruiting drive - especially for Fort McMurray.

It's a little more sophisticated than that. All that is needed is a currency union. That can be accomplished without popular consent.

A currency union? I think under the current financial regime in the US, most Canadians would run away from that idea, screaming - particularly the Canadian government and central bank officials.

What makes you think that Canada is not in bed with the G-7? In order to increase oil production significantly, Canada will need to recycle excess foreign exchange. Otherwise, the Canadian dollar will appreciate until either your oil is too expensive to buy or you are not receiving anything for it. Along the way your economy will be hollowed out as imports are cheaper than domestic goods so unless everyone is employed in the oil sector you end up with high unemployment. One way around this is to establish a sovereign wealth fund like Norway and the gulf states and reinvest the money in foreign bonds although this hasn't turned out to well for them so maybe not the path that Canada wants to go. Another risk is an overheated economy which leads either to a boom and subsequent bust or capital controls to limit foreign investment.

The whole point is that now that the oil sands are cost effective to produce the developed world is expecting Canada to step up production to cover for the declining production elsewhere. As with any country with a large resource base and a small population, this leads to a number of currency issues. The best option for Canada would be to only produce enough oil to insure prosperity without leading to large foreign exchange surpluses. Unfortunately, this isn't how resources are developed in the western world and wouldn't be tolerated by other developed countries. So, hopefully Canada will handle this issue better than other countries have in the past but it still leaves some form of currency union or US Dollar peg as a way to increase oil production without some of the negative consequences.

Yes, so true, the union of the US and Canada would probably not be violent, but more like another "logical" step that all the leaders agree is best for the "markets". So if the tar sands face a situation where production starts to decline because the returns aren't good enough anymore (this could happen if there's a deflationary collapse, especially across the border) then the companies running them (in bed with the government) will want a way to boost the purchasing power of those across the border, or face starvation themselves.

Everyone will share the resources and each gets a smaller share of the pie, or the pie will sit there unproduced and basically out of reach. That is intolerable. When resources like oil sit there being unproduced that means the real collapse has started. Then it's all over. That is when many TODers can take out their video cameras and (if electricity is still intermittently functioning) post a video to YouTube saying, "I told you so!"

I say it like it's funny or something, but I hope I also sound a bit sad. No one wants to see the party coming to an end.

What makes you think that Canada is not in bed with the G-7?

In bed with the G-7? Canada is ONE of the G-7. Number 7 in the G-7, as a matter of fact.

In order to increase oil production significantly, Canada will need to recycle excess foreign exchange.

I do my bit to recycle the foreign exchange. Every so often I go down to the US and spend some money on gasoline, camping fees, and food - even some clothing on occasion. Other people go to Florida. We buy lots of lettuce from California, too. We do our best to recycle the dollars.

The whole point is that now that the oil sands are cost effective to produce the developed world is expecting Canada to step up production to cover for the declining production elsewhere.

They are not that aware of the issues with Peak Oil. The EU, for instance, has a proposal to tax oil sands oil at a higher rate than other oil because it's "dirty" oil.

Fine. If they don't want our oil we'll sell it to China. Then we'll take the money and spend it in the US, because that's where the Chinese got it in the first place. Just keep those dollars recirculating.

That's why some of us have a few guns extra hidden away. Not to fight against joining with our brothers, but to avoid your stupid leaders. Seriously, annex my country and the bombings will continue. Maybe we could ask the Chinese for help if some of the oil is for them. :-)

The oil will go where ever the money tells it to go. National flags are meaningless.

Newt Gringrich states that we will likely be the world's largest producer of oil by the end of the decade.

And George Bush claimed that with his non-intervention policy in the Middle East that goodwill would cause Saudi Arabia to open its oil spigots and lower prices.

Why should Newt's statement THIS time be treated as truth from the start? With a history of statements VS outcome - why should he be trusted?

According to the link, Panama produces 2 barrels a day. What is this about?

Bilge oil from the ships going through the canal?

Don't laugh, we had sand disposal facilities that produced significant amounts of oil. As we dumped oily sand into them, oil would rise to the top and we'd skim it off.

The government told us to treat it as an oil well for production accounting purposes. Since we had no idea where exactly the oil came from, the government decided they were the owners, and charged us royalties on it.

Im sure Sweden produces oil somewhere. I know we did once. In the 50ies and 60ies we mined some rock out of the ground in Närke, heated it up and an oily substance leaked out. When North Sea oil got on the market, we got better oil to a lower price and those mines were closed. You can always make some oil out of something somewhere.

According to the EIA's International Energy Statistics" Sweden produced, in November 2011, 4,833 barrels of "all liquids" but zero barrels of Crude + Condensate. I have no idea what those almost five thousand barrels were, perhaps whale blubber. ;-) But you are correct, they are making some oil out of something, I just wish I knew what.

Ron P.

Sweden has some oil shale deposits similar to those in the US, so perhaps they were producing some oil from them.

Sweden also has a large petrochemical industry, and that may be producing some products that could loosely be described as "oil" in the EIA's expansive definition of "oil". However, they don't produce the oil and/or gas that that the petrochemical plants input.

We don't produce those shales any more. As I wrote, it ended in the late 60ies. Those 4000+ barrels is almost guaranteed some bio-fuel. I'd guess ethanol. Or possibly an oil seeds to fuel program. In fact, it would surprice me if we didn't do at least some of that.

BioJet is a 100% biological jet fuel for the aviation market. This product has been developed as part of the project funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). BioJet is a renewable fully synthetic fuel similar to JP-8. It can be blended in any proportion with Jet A-1 and JP-8 and used for operating any standard engine of the world operating fleet without modification to the engine itself. The BioJet product and its underlying technology have been selected coertification under the FMV program “Biofuel for Aircraft”.

They are also working with Sir Dick's Virgin Atlantic bio-fuels initiative.

I neglected to say that those 4,833 barrels of all liquids were barrels per day. Sorry for that omission. That puts it in a slightly different light.

Ron P.

I missed your misstake. From reading TOD posts and comments 5 days a week for almost 2 years, I have been accustomed to assume a "per day" after all production figures.

You can always make some oil out of something somewhere.

At one point killing animals on the ocean and bringing back the oil was popular.

The conversion of photons into plant oils may be the low-tech oil rich future.

Oil doesn't have to come from rocks - its just that rock oil has been "cheap".

Yes, there will always be some oil available. It is just a question of how much will it cost.

Is there a source for info on current cost of oil production from various sources?

here are some guesses:
old oil fields $20 per barrel? total future production 100 billion barrels?
new oil fields $60 per barrel? total future production 300 billion barrels?
tar sand $70 per barrel, assuming nat gas at x at site? 2000 billion barrels if the nat gas does not run out?
oil from algae $200 per barrel? max per year production world wide 4 billion if there is enough food feed stock?
oil from corn $150 per barrel? max per year production world wide 0.5 billion barrels?

World's top six C+C producers in thousands of barrels per day, average for first 11 months of 2011.

Russia 9,764
Saudi 9,422
USA 5,653
Iran 4,080
China 4,064
Mexico 2,875

If one doesn't know Rockman's explanation why USA oil production is still so high, one could believe that Russia and Saudi in about 40 years could produce about the same amount of oil than USA does now. Theoretically speaking, because I think oil consumption collapsed long before 2052.

I got a little suspicious so I checked, and found Canadian C+C production exceeded Mexican C+C production in 2011, so Canada is now the #6 C+C producer in the world, not Mexico.

In fact, I plotted Canadian and Mexican production going back 12 years, and the results were quite interesting.

Mexican C+C production peaked (an "undulating plateau") at over 3.5 million bpd in 2003-2005 and then fell quite steeply and was less than 2.6 Mbpd by the end of 2011. So, it is declining on a classic Hubbert curve.

OTOH, Canadian production first exceeded 2 Mbpd in late 2000, and then rose more or less steadily (an undulating rise) to the end of 2011, when it exceeded 3 Mbpd. The rise is getting steeper as new oil sands projects come on line, so it might exceed China and Iran to become the #4 producer by 2020, and maybe the US to become the #3 C+C producer by 2030 or so. That of course depends on what the US does, but I'm not holding out hopes for big US increases, unlike many of the MSM types.

Peak Oil Sands is going to be quite a few decades in the future - Long after I'm dead, at least.

Hey, all I can do is report the data. And according to JODI, Mexico is #6. But you are correct, according to the EIA, through the first 11 months of 2011, Canada is #6. The data below is in thousand barrels per day of crude + condensate, 2011 production.

        Canada    Mexico
JODI    2,110     2,560
EIA     2,875     2,596  (First 11 months of 2011)

I am at a loss to understand how JODI and the EIA are so close on Mexico but are 765,000 barrels per day apart on Canada. But remember the EIA uses their own estimations from their own sources. JODI uses what the countries themselves say they produce.

Ron P.

The EIA numbers for Canada are much closer to the Canadian National Energy Board numbers, which one would think would be the most accurate and current.

I'm at a loss to know where JODI got its numbers, too. They look about 10 years out of date.


I took another look at the NEB numbers, and it appears the data that is missing from the JODI data is non-upgraded bitumen and condensate. The production for the first 11 months of 2011 included 757 kbpd of crude bitumen and 134 kbpd of condensate.

The EIA numbers are a little light, too, because the NEB reported 2,968 kbpd of total crude+condensate. Crude includes both crude oil and crude bitumen.

2,110 (JODI) + 757 (bitumen) + 134 (condensate) = 3,001 (total)

That's only 33 kbpd higher than the NEB total, so it appears the JODI number is missing both crude bitumen and condensate. That sounds like the sort of error an untrained bureaucrat unfamiliar with the Canadian oil industry might make.

That is kind of a huge discrepancy because most of this bitumen is mixed with the condensate to make a blended heavy oil, and most of the blend is exported to the US, where it is refined into gasoline and other products by refineries which have been upgraded to handle this kind of feedstock.

Bitumen is not synthetic crude oil. If it is exported to the U.S. where it is upgraded to synthetic crude oil, then maybe JODI counts it as crude oil produced in the U.S.

Jodi doesn't count at all, they just report what is reported to them. They send out a questionnaire asking how much crude, how much condensate, how much NGLs and so on. Then they just copy the data and publish it.

Ron P.

The bitumen is not upgraded to synthetic oil in the US. An oil sands upgrader is just the front end of a heavy oil refinery. With upgrades to their front-ends, refineries can process it directly into gasoline and other products. The existing refineries in the US prefer to upgrade their front-ends rather than pay someone else to upgrade the bitumen to synthetic for them.

This strategy is working quite well for them these days, since the bitumen/diluent blend they can buy from Canada is trading for $24/bbl less than syncrude, syncrude is trading for $6/bbl less than WTI, and WTI is trading for $17/bbl less than Brent.

That means Rocky Mountain and Midwest refineries are paying $47/bbl less for feedstock than Northeast refineries - if you are wondering why half the Northeast refineries have closed recently or are closing soon, while the Midwest refineries are running flat-out and making money, and the Rocky Mountain states have the cheapest gas in the US.

I don't really know how JODI counts for it, I just know the JODI numbers are whacked.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the Fox News lie ahead of "Presidential Lies."

Nice one, Leanan!


Anyone know the reason it was shut down? Was it in danger of collapsing or melting down?

The world’s oldest operating nuclear power station, Oldbury near Bristol, has today shutdown its last remaining reactor and has stopped generating electricity after 44 years of service.

Since it opened in 1967, Oldbury’s twin reactors have produced 137.5 TWh of electricity, enough energy to power one million homes for over 20 years.

Another 88 years and we can finish cleaning the place up.

The main reactor building will not be pulled down until about 2100 when the radioactive levels in the building become safe.


This thing started operating in 1968, which means it was designed in about 1960. We didn't know much about building reactors then, so the amount of high level contamination in the reactor will be much higher than more recent designs. This is just part of the phased shutdown of the UK nuclear industry, do to reactors reaching end of life. Almost all UK commercial reactors will shut down this decade, and we have not yet formally decided to build any replacements.

I sincerely hope we never do.

There is plenty of active planning of potential replacement nuclear power plants - almost all of them slated for development on existing nuclear sites. The timing is still a long way off but I assume that if the FF prices stay high, then the political obstacles will be smaller.

UK diesel has exceeded £1.50 litre in some places here in the UK. Which by my 'back of the fag packet' calculation (wiki it for translation) equates to over 9 dollars per (US) gallon. Ouch. I am glad I take the train these days.


I spoke to someone from the UK nuclear industry, MANY moons ago, after they had given a presentation on a new nuclear plant. They told me that the site had been specifically chosen with enough space to build more reactors in the future. They took future need into account but, looking back, failed to take into account climate change and rising sea levels.


Its license was close to expiry, and this was the optimum economic time to shut it down. No point in spending more in maintenance to keep running than you are going to make in sales.

The world’s oldest operating nuclear power station, Oldbury near Bristol, has today shutdown its last remaining reactor and has stopped generating electricity after 44 years of service.

Since it opened in 1967, Oldbury’s twin reactors have produced 137.5 TWh of electricity, enough energy to power one million homes for over 20 years.

I have not dug through the article but this unit of measure needs work. I think it means during operation it supplied power to 450,000 homes (or, presumably it's industrial equivalent).

That does not seem like a whole lot compared to the ~150 years the reactor is really hazardous; then lets add the how many tonnes of radioactive waste x number of years of maintenance required.

Electricity is very nice, agreed. I'm not sure it's worth selling the future for (except for me, whoo hoo!).

Of course, when it is replaced by a Thorium reactor or an e-cat I'll be highly supportive.

Anyone have any idea how much waste was produced by this reactor during its lifetime?

Did a little digging:

About 27 tonnes of used fuel is taken each year from the core of a l000 MWe nuclear reactor. This fuel can be regarded entirely as waste (as, for 40% of the world's output, in USA and Canada), or it can be reprocessed (as in Europe and Japan). Whichever option is chosen, the used fuel is first stored for several years under water in cooling ponds at the reactor site. The concrete ponds and the water covering the fuel assemblies provide radiation protection, while removing the heat generated during radioactive decay.

So 44 years X 27 tons= 1188 tons or roughly 70 semi trailer loads...

But I think they reprocess in Britain so probably a lot less.

The average electrical output of the two reactors combined was significantly less than half that. The reactors had a design corrosion problem which caused them to be derated to less than 2/3rds output shortly after commissioning. They were small reactors (by the standard of later days) to start with. See Wikipedia.

My calculator doesn't go up to 137.5 T. What would be the value of 137.5 TWH of electricity at todays rates?

Just $13.75 thousand million (U.S.) at 10 cents a kwh.

That's $13.75 billion on this side of the pond. I had the exact same thought when I saw the figure for Twh. At today's prices it would cost about $2 billion to build and 29 million for fuel. The price that's hard to quantify is storing all that spent fuel for thousands of years.

And doing such lifetime cost reporting the pro nuke people just can't be bothered to do.

Instead are fascinated with 'this many homes powered for their lifetime all for 1 lbs of fuel' quotes.

10 cents / kWh is the retail price. If the average wholesale price received by the nuclear power plant was 3 cents / kWh, then:

137.5 TWh * $.03 /kWh = $4.1 billion

The plant's in the UK, not the U.S. Take a gander at their average wholesale power price and re-check your assumptions.

Anyone have some back of the envelope math on how much in resources electricity or otherwise will need to be input over the next 88 years, and how that might reduce that 137.5 TWh gross figure to a net total after?

No good estimate for decommissioning costs, but if old coal plants led to between 160 to 270 excess deaths per TWh, as some claim, and nuclear is anywhere near the .04 deaths per TWh, then roughly 30000 people, and their children and grandchildren, are/were still alive because of the power generated by the nuclear plant (if coal generation was the alternative).


At $10M/human life, a standard figure for first world government policy studies, that is a minimum of 300 Billion dollars(U.S.) in lives saved. Makes $14B look a little puny.

Caveats for NPV, newer coal plant technologies, more diverse fuel mix and the like. Boils down to estimating actual direct and indirect human health effects of what were and are the available energy alternatives. Assuming they are anywhere near right, this is the order of magnitude of mortality and economic impacts we are talking about. More impressive than what I was expecting.

Coal is very nasty, but I have a lot of trouble with the comparison of coal and nuclear. Not least of which, you could just not use the power (conservation) or use solar and wind and beat both from every perspective. Claiming nuclear saves lives is covering up that it is harm reduction at best. The deaths associated with Chernobyl are still very, very hotly contested, with estimates ranging over many orders of magnitude, and of course the whole area was evacuated, unlike areas around coal plants.

As for the numbers themselves, I suspect that coal is worse, and the deaths probably resemble those from smoking - they mostly can be measured as a reduction in life expectancy. Of course, both coal and smoking are basically similar in that they are introducing poisons through the respiratory system. With nuclear, you have many fewer deaths as long as things go well, but if things go badly there is the potential for many more deaths. Of course, pro-nuclear people will deny this, but if nuclear is so safe why is there still a huge exclusion zone around Chernobyl, and why is there one around the Fukushima plants? I wouldn't eat produce from those areas... More nuclear will inevitably result in more disasters, some at least as bad as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

The difference is also a matter of time, as coal is very, very nasty but you can always just stop burning it and things will go back to normal in a short time. Nuclear inevitably creates waste that is dangerous for many, many lifetimes, and if that is spread by a disaster then you can contaminate an area for a very long time.

In any case, both are really stupid ideas in the long run - finite and extremely dirty. But BAU is what we have and it's what we're going to try to keep going to the end.

The exclusion zones are there because it is a choice to keep people out of those areas. For the people who have to decide whether to establish and maintain an exclusion zone the risks are more than the basic physical risks, there are significant political risks to allowing people to be exposed to any level of radiation.

The difference is also a matter of time, as coal is very, very nasty but you can always just stop burning it and things will go back to normal in a short time. Nuclear inevitably creates waste that is dangerous for many, many lifetimes, and if that is spread by a disaster then you can contaminate an area for a very long time.

That only addresses the particulate air pollution component of coal hazards.

Heavy metals, CO2, and other pollution components have exceedingly long lifecycles in the environment. There are still areas around major cities where the lead pollution in the soil from when we were adding lead to gasoline is high enough that parents are warned about letting their children play outside. There are areas in the fallout zones of coal plants and in the ash dump areas that have large amounts of persistent pollution as well.

Radiological hazards, as you point out, do decay naturally in addition to the natural dispersion that breaks up other heavy metal contamination.

The difference is that coal provides us with massive pollution in the course of *normal operation*, where nuclear only does so in the case of rather extreme accidents.

Nuclear power directly substitutes for coal. Coal CO2 will be in the air and oceans a very, very long time. I don't think the coal death rate includes consequences of future climate change.
At the moment, nuclear power is the most doable low carbon substitute for massive coal generation. Check out the massive amount of steel, land, concrete and grid infrastructure wind requires for a very low capacity factor.
Nuclear waste volume is absolutely miniscule compared with coal ash/CO2, it is difficult for the general public to understand the magnitude of the difference.
Serious scientists eg Lovelock, Hansen, Hawkens, believe climate change at least has the potential to lead ultimately to the total extinction of humanity.
Relative risk is at issue, as is the quality of information (or should I say misinformation) that is fed to the public.
Why do people ignore the green field decommissioning of Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station, on time and under budget, paid for with funds set aside during the plant's lifetime? Maybe its because it does not fit their preconceived position re nuclear power?
Why aren't people worried when they live near hydro power? The biggest hydro disaster (1975 Banqiao Dam in China) killed about 200,000 people. About 5,000,000 buildings destroyed.
Why do people ignore the fact that spent fuel (extremely dangerous at first) is not that dangerous after a few years, and is stored safely in dry casks, and in a few hundred years is of little risk? Why do they overlook greater non-nuclear risks to beat the anti - nuclear drum? There is an element of irrationality that will be our downfall.

Truth matters.

Nuclear power directly substitutes for coal.

Agreed but what has nuclear done to offset the burning FF's? If we had had a damn brain in our heads we would have used the opportunity to reduce FF use and clean up our act.

Exactly the same as "renewables" such as wind, solar, tidal etc, we took the opportunity to grow our populations and devastate the ecology of the planet beyond redemption. Why did we not sixty years ago, before we more than doubled the amount of people on the Earth begin to stabilize and reduce human impacts on the ecology? Now we are furiously burning at peak, exploring the Arctic, fracking the crap out of everything, deepwater drilling, converting crops to fuel, we are trying to burn it all. Nuclear energy might make you feel good but it's all BS.

It's obvious. We were and still are, absolutely committed to BAU and growth. So don't expect anything to change now, no matter how much nuclear or renewable energy sources are added. As I've often remarked, unless we sequester or actively fence off FF's of an equivalent amount of carbon, which we would have burned after we began using nuclear or renewables, then the whole exercise is one simple self indulgence for the entire present day humankind.

Yair ...Seagatherer, TRUTH MATTERS.

Would be so kind as to direct this uneducated old Aussie bushman to site where I can verify the amount of spent nuclear fuel that is "safely stored in dry casks"?

It could be and it should be but a minimal bit of research seems to indicate that very little is...that's the truth that matters.


Written by Seagatherer:
Nuclear waste volume is absolutely miniscule compared with coal ash/CO2, it is difficult for the general public to understand the magnitude of the difference.

Yet nuclear waste is many orders of magnitude more toxic than coal. Three nuclear power reactors melted down and between 1 and 4 spent fuel rod ponds burned in Japan last year causing me, 8,000 km away, to stop collecting water by rainwater catchment last Spring due to radioactive fallout. I still have not restored my water level. Radioactive fallout and drought in 2011 are taking their toll.

...decommissioning of Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station, on time and under budget, paid for with funds set aside during the plant's lifetime?

Decommissioning is not the end of the story. Dry cask storage is temporary. The corporation expects the cost of disposal to be externalized onto tax payers. Because they are running out of money to manage the toxic waste, they are suing the government. The nuclear industry is only profitable when the cost of research, investment, accidents and disposal is externalized onto government and victims. Maine Yankee: Spent Fuel Storage / Removal

... is an interim facility for the safe, secure storage of spent nuclear fuel. This will remain the case until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) fulfills its obligation to dispose of this material or another viable solution for removing the spent fuel from the site emerges.

Written by Seagatherer:
Why aren't people worried when they live near hydro power?

Are you suggesting that no one who lives down river has ever worried about a dam bursting?

Why do people ignore the fact that spent fuel (extremely dangerous at first) is not that dangerous after a few years, and is stored safely in dry casks, and in a few hundred years is of little risk?

Why do you present false statements in the form of a question? Spent nuclear fuel will remain radioactive and dangerous longer than the residence time of fossil carbon in the atmosphere. Radioactive Waste: Production, Storage, Disposal, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, May 2002:

However, many of the radioactive elements in spent fuel have long half-lives. For example, plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years, and plutonium-240 has a half-life of 6,800 years. Because it contains these long half-lived radioactive elements, spent fuel must be isolated and controlled for thousands of years.

Written by Seagatherer:
There is an element of irrationality that will be our downfall.

Sure, one aspect is the inability of some people to conduct rational risk assessments.

"Nuclear waste volume is absolutely miniscule compared with coal ash/CO2"

Once again, Coal allows nuclear to appear clean by comparison.

You've seen the numbers for how overloaded many of the Spent Fuel Pools are now. The overheating windows are getting preciously short on them these days.. not much time to bring in a fix.

As for Maine Yankee, my friends around the Midcoast worked really diligently to get that place shuttered.. and it was a good thing they DID have their accounts in order.

You ready to look at the books for VT Yankee? They're a bit behind on payments, I hear.

Nuclear's ALL a bad idea, and getting worse by the year.

First of all, Tom Murphy's My Great Hope for the Future would have been a great stand-alone post, or an especially good Campfire. His discussion is a composite of the positive actions and societal changes 'we' need to see happen to lessen the impacts of previously unchecked growth. Tom uses 'we' a lot in his post, so I'll point out one glaring caveat: There is no 'we', at least in a constructive, progressive sense. 'We' pretty much applies well to "we are all screwed if 'we' don't take actions such as he suggests", but I just don't see how it applies to "we will all adopt a new culture based on sustainability, cooperation and mitigating the predicaments we face". It's the primary wall I've run into when considering how things will play out. I'm not sure how 'we' will get around this.

I watched a new PBS "American Experience" last night about the Amish, and despite all of the good and bad (that is present in any culture), the basis of everything they do is in "WE". It's all about the individual deferring to the community's good. Failure to do so results in shunning. We, society at scale, simply aren't capable of that, IMO. Just some thoughts....

It might be a standalone post. I don't know if you've noticed, but we've run several of Tom's articles as key posts here.

That's one reason I didn't make it the first post. There's a good chance it will end up on the front page anyway.

I too think it would be a great stand alone post. Does that mean we should save commenting on it until it gets its own post?

I am doubtful that it will be a stand alone post, for the simple reason that The Oil Drum is no longer running Campfire-type posts.

I think, though, that there is another issue as well. Tom Murphy understands physics, but he doesn't understand the world financial system, or system dynamics, or the world's ecological system and man's role in it. I think he makes the same mistake that is typical of people who understand only one part of the story--he understates the severity of the problem. He writes an appealing story--it is just not clear that it is true. It fits in well with what most people who are involved with sustainability believe, though.

For a different perspective, listen to this short video by Craig Dilworth, author of Too Smart for Our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Mankind. If that link doesn't work, try

Someone posted a link to it in the comments to my post, Human Population Overshoot--What Went Wrong?, which relates to Dilworth's book.

Dilworth (from your video link):

"Humankind has a very short future, I think. We're on the verge of extinction."

...Interesting fellow :-0

Your comment regarding Tom's lack of systemic understanding may be a bit harsh, in that very few folks I know of have a firm grasp of how our extremely complex systems interact or how these interactions will 'progress' in the future. Some; Greer, Heinburg, others,, Dilworth perhaps, are making some pretty well thought out and informed guesses. My varied background as a systems generalist gives me a sense of which hypotheses may have merit, though I'm much better at spotting what won't work, and in that respect, I may have to agree with your evaluation of Tom's ideas. Sometimes we over-analyze things and miss the big picture.

As I've said before, our extreme level of overshoot in virtually every category is all that matters. Any proposals, ideas, projections, bargaining, etc. that don't account for this, and how all aspects of overshoot are inextricably linked, pale, and are only discussing how to treat the symptoms. Any discussion not involving how to get a critical majority of 7 billion humans on the same page and making all of the right changes now is purely academic. That said, we're so far beyond being able to fix any of this it boggles the mind. Best to focus on how we, as individuals and small groups, can respond; try to make the patients as comfortable as we can under the circumstances. We may be buying time, but only for ourselves.

I don't think I understand your criticism, or at least, how it relates to this post specifically? What is it you don't think is true about the story?

Tom looks at a bunch of individual pieces, making a lot of implicit assumptions as he goes along. This approach is valid for ranking the various alternatives, but not for adding up the pieces. It doesn't work for combining the indications because the implicit assumptions underlying the pieces become much more important, and the variables not considered become much more important.

If a person steps back, the world is hugely into overshoot, because of humans. We are a top predator, and because of this, should be present in only very small numbers. Based on our ecological role in the world and similarities to other animals, there should probably be about 1,000,000 of us (or fewer) in the world, in total. Our presence is causing huge die-off in other species. We need huge and growing energy supply to maintain our species, at its current out-of-balance level, but fossil fuels are present only in finite supply. If we start reducing their quantity because we are reaching limits, the whole system is likely to collapse.

Humans have never been in balance with natural systems, since humans started wiping out whole species of animals as they moved into new areas in the stone age, about 100,000 years ago. This is about the time when human brain size increased to current level, or above. As long as we are smart, we keep adding new inventions, wiping out other species, and increasing our number, adding to the need for more energy supplies (wood, peat, coal, oil, natural gas), to keep up this process. The logical end of this process is collapse, when it is not possible to keep adding energy supplies fast enough.

If collapse occurs, it is doubtful that the nice ideas Tom has will be true. There certainly won't be any "Steady State Economy," as postulated by Herman Daly. I don't think we can look forward most of the things Tom thinks we can look forward to. The list sounds romantic, but I don't think that the downslope will be slow enough that we can build bicycles, or build more durable goods, or expect to be baking pies and putting them in our windows. We don't know too much about the speed of collapse--about all we can do is hope that it will be slow.

I agree with your post about overshoot, and a steady state economy may be an unobtainable goal, but that doesn't mean some of the ideas in his post wouldn't lessen the effects of collapse.

I think the post would be a good place for a conversation about what we should be doing, and a stepping stone in the right direction, even if a collapse could come about too quickly for all suggestions to be acted upon.

Some of the best advice on the various energy websites relate to what individuals should be doing, but Tom's post contains suggestions that could make a difference on a societal basis. The conversation that would follow it being posted here would be a good one.

I watched that Amish feature also. They really emphasized the submission of the individual's talents and desires to the rather strict notion of the good of the community/church. The program featured (fairly, I thought) several ex-Amish who left the church and therefore were wholly cut off from their family, because they could not live with the restrictions imposed by the Amish ordnung (set of rules).

While in some ways I'm very sympathetic to them, it would be impossible for me or virtually any American to accept that way of life unless you were born and raised in that tradition. And even then, the program said, about 10 percent of the Amish youth depart from their church and community, that is they cease being Amish. My younger son, who works in the mental health field, pointed out to me one day that the extreme suppression of the self actually leads to a fairly high incidence of mental health problems among them.

I certainly wasn't suggesting that we all should or could adopt the purest levels of 'ordnung' practiced by many Amish, though the ordnung varies from group to group, and some Amish churches have liberalized their rules a bit, albeit, usually with great consideration and care, especially relating to adopting certain technologies. While I agree that it simply wouldn't work for western societies, especially at scale, there is a lot to be considered and learned there.

Their localized systems of production and commerce, their rejection of consumption for consumption's sake, their commitment to the land as stewards of God's creation (they consider themselves as only travelers passing through, guests, proving their worthiness to pass on into eternity), all show them to be early adopters of a 'sustainability movement"; not perfect, and willing to admit it. One wonders if such a strict code isn't necessary to achieve this level of sustainability. We've seen that a lack of such a code, and an even greater lack of enforcement is grossly unsustainable. The non-Amish commentators were mostly in agreement that their problems generally were due to the fact that "it's we and our society that have changed; not the Amish." They had a plan that worked remarkably well for 250 years and they're sticking to it, as well as they can.

What was remarkable to me wasn't that 10% of their children choose to leave, but that 90% don't...



What was remarkable to me wasn't that 10% of their children choose to leave, but that 90% don't...

That 90:10 ratio shows, that it is possible for the majority of people to adhere to strict rules if they have the understanding and the willingness to do it. And what has to be considered also is the question if the 10% had a better life outside the community! (As an aside, I know that a lot of the 10% who left the community had troubles with drugs and alcohol)

We (whole family - 2 kids) lived for one and half year among/close to the Mennonites in Mexico. What we took away from that experience as a family, is, that 90% of the staff we think we need is "Junk" and not in any way helping our happiness and contentment.

What we call "freedom" is just an other form of slavery.

But try to tell that to someone in our society! The least what you getting is a frown or derogatory remark.

Best hopes for some to weak up to reality


What we call "freedom" is just an other form of slavery.

I have seen a few documentaries bout people living in monestaries. In them,the monks and nuns were asked why they wanted tolive under such strict rules (more strict than amish urdnung) and poverty, and they all came up with the same answear: freedom. By not having all that stuff or duties, they don't need to worry about stuff. And No Worries == Freedom.

I have developed over the year a freedom filosophy where I define positive and negative freedom. The differense is between freedom TO and freedom FROM. Owning a car for example means morepossetive and less negative freedom; I gain freedom to move (freedom of mobility) but owning that car means I have to make money for upkee, insurance and mileage, and that ties me down to work, wich forces me to do stuff, the opposite of negative freedom.

Ever wondered why drug users and non-users never get along? If you talk to these people about their choises, they both sooner or later comes down to freedom. The users want the freedom to have the experience, the non-users the freedom of avoiding addiction. The exact opposite choise, the same motivation for the choise. What is this? Possetive and negtive freedom.

I also beleave that people tend to be aligned in one direction or another. PO denialists are more likely to be possetive freedom people than the rest of us, I would guess.

I know of an an oil industry analyst, made good money for a decade, then discovered peak oil and went through the whole sustainability and self sufficiency/small holding thing, then packed it all in and became a convent nun. Now she writes the convent's blog and occaisonally posts on peak oil sites, but mostly she attends the vegetable gardens and prays.

My mom had the poster for it..

"When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the Garden!"

Some of you might enjoy Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender, 1989. She wanted to experience Amish life - not become Amish. It's a wonderful read and, in many ways, answers some of the questions about following the "rules" and how they are somewhat flexible within the context of their religion and how it effected Sue's life.


What was remarkable to me wasn't that 10% of their children choose to leave, but that 90% don't...

This does not surprise me. After Napoleon died on St. Helena, the British garrison on Tristan da Cunha, established to guard against attempts to free the deposed emperor, was repatriated. A few of the soldiers opted to stay behind with their families. Their descendants remained living on the island (the most isolated inhabited place in the world) until 1961 when the volcano there erupted. The British Colonial Office evacuated everyone to Scotland. The evacuees almost immediately started to ask to return. Finally, in 1963, the Colonial Office relented:

268 people had been evacuated from Tristan in 1961: 14 elected to stay behind in England, 5 elderly islanders had died, but eight babies had been born. Ten island couples had married, and four Tristan girls had married English boys.

Tristan is far more localized than the Amish, though they do not have the same religious unity. Or, for that matter, the same ease of leaving.

Tristan has moved with the times: it now has a grocery store, a radio station, a cafe, a video shop and a swimming pool. Tristan now has a connection to the outside world by satellite telephone and fax machine in the Administrator's office. A mail ship, the RMS St. Helena calls once a year, bringing mail, canned food, videos, books, magazines, medical items, and occasionally a visitor.

They do rely on some imports, but are more self-supporting than almost all other communities in the world:

Tristan is entirely self-supporting and, except for the Administrator's salary, receives no money from Britain. Earnings are made from Postage stamps, handicrafts and crawfish, which has enabled them to retain their relative independence from the rest of the world. Apart from imported food, the islanders eat home grown potatoes, beef and lamb.

Interestingly, they had far more physical communication with the outside world in the 19th century when Tristan was a regular stop for sailing ships travelling between Europe or the east coast of North America and Asia or Australia.

It may be because they like the life. My neighbor is former Amish. The other day he noted that he never knew as a kid when their was a power outage...and that he sort of misses that. He laughed and noted that he still wasn't sure his parents know about 9-11.

This have nothing to do with your post, but I must ask. You wrote

he never knew as a kid when their was a power outage

It should off course be "there", not "their". I see this error in more and more writing on the Internet. So can I ask you if you are a native english speaker? I didn't know a word english when I was 9 years old, learnt it in school. I have a feeling this gramatical error is of the kind you have to be a native to perform. Just like writing "a" every time, even when "an" is the correct form.

Funny you said that. I was reading back over my note before I saw your comment and thought "darn, spelled it wrong again". Native English speaker, but spelling is a foreign language to me ;) (Who can spell a language with words like "red" and "read", "deer" and "dear"?)

Your comment about having to be a native to misspell like that reminded me of letters we used to get from friends in El Salvador. I always noticed their misspellings in Spanish...but I never pronounced Spanish as correctly as they did...hence the misspellings. ("B" and "V" being said exactly the same by many Spanish speakers.)

Reminds me of 7th grade spelling tests. The teacher berated the class, because the best grade on the test was by the French exchange student. I remember by 7 istakes was claimed to be a record, but the next year a kid spelled every word wrong, then misspelled his name to boot.

So the most common ones:
their versus there (the first is the possessive form their object, versus the object is there).
to v too v two
to is what a conjunctive I am going to do that.
too is a superlative that was too much!
two is a number.
Also by v buy, and the past tense of pay is paid.

I suspect about as many native speakers as non native get these wrong.

English is a dog's language. Every time they were conquered, words from different languages became incorporated.

Working on text-to-speech systems, you learn there are no rules. You wind-up with an exceptions dictionary of thousands of words.

"'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.":
"Their" is an exception to the bare rule. Isn't that weird? Either seize the ancient reins of science and weigh these foreign influences or counterfeit the height of one's own being.

Speaking of 7th grade, I regularly took home D's on my spelling test (back in the late 50's). My aunt, a public school teacher, came to live with us as she was dying of pancreatic cancer. She put my nose to the grindstone, and I got 100% on the next spelling test. The teacher then accused me of cheating ;)

I see that a lot here, amuses me seeing those mistakes on big, otherwise well made, signs over shops. Mind you, the Japanese 'R' & 'L' takes its toll too, a drum company in the UK received 10,000 drum sticks from Japan very neatly printed with 'Hickoly'. I think some US contributors tend to spell how they would pronounce the word, Rockman's words seem to have a southern drawl to them for example.


God help us when we need spelling and grammar lessons from a Jedi Swede. BTW, Jedi, in your post below, "whos" should be "whose" (possessive for "who" ;-)

If you meet a lot of Scandinavians, you will find that many of them have better spelling and grammar than most native English speakers do. This comes from learning the proper forms in school, rather than picking up incorrect forms in the street.

Many native English speakers have no real idea how to speak English - especially some of the ones from England, who are incomprehensible even to their fellow Brits. Of course when you tell them that, they get very upset.

When I was in grade school, we still had teachers who wanted to defend the language. So they made a big deal out of these things. I suppose teaching has slipped since then.

BTW, Jedi, in your post below, "whos" should be "whose" (possessive for "who" ;-)

That is one of the things with english that I always found hard to learn correctly.

Compare this: Gas prices spike 8% in February

February has been one heck of a month for American motorists, who have been hit with an 8% spike in the price of gas... On Wednesday, the price of unleaded gasoline rose for the 22nd day in a row to a nationwide average of $3.73 per gallon

With this: Montreal gas price spikes

Montreal drivers were hit with a 14-cent jump in the price of gas Tuesday – from an average of $1.30 per litre on Monday to $1.44.

$1.44 per litre is equivalent to $5.47 per gallon, and a one-day increase of 14 cents is a 53 cent increase, or 11%. Just so you Americans don't feel so bad.

Montreal is suffering from the shutdown of one of its two oil refineries last year, leaving only one refinery in a monopoly situation there, and the ongoing shutdowns of refineries in the Northeast US have cut outside supply. There's also that looming conflict with Iran driving up oil prices.

In addition, Montreal is dependent on expensive Middle Eastern oil for its remaining refinery rather than cheap Western Canadian oil because the pipelines only reach as far as Ontario. It used to have six refineries, based on refining cheap OPEC oil, but OPEC price increases over the years really wrecked the economics of them.

A pipeline company has put forward a proposal to reverse an existing pipeline to take Western oil to Montreal, but Quebec environmentalists are stalling approval of it. Well, I guess if they want to depend on expensive and unreliable supplies of Middle Eastern oil, that's their choice.

The remaining refinery in Quebec can't process "heavy sour diluted bitumen".

Why would Quebec take on the risk of a pipeline leak of bitumen and condensate for something that can't be refined in the province?

East Coast pipeline dreams

As well, incremental crude from Western Canada is largely heavy sour diluted bitumen. Other than the Irving refinery in the Atlantic, this type of crude cannot be processed in eastern North America. Without customers, a pipeline cannot be filled. One could try to export lighter crudes instead, but this will be more costly than importing sweeter crudes.

Mintz's article focuses on present day price disparities, and interestingly grabs historic pricing when it fits his objective.

I still believe, for Canada's sake, Canada should ship the oil east to it's own population centers, and export any surplus from the east. The argument using the US Jones shipping act seems one sided, why wouldn't it apply to GOM shipped oil also. True, it may be expensive to build the refineries and build/expand/redirect pipelines, but these costs aren't itemized, nor do they seem argued. It seems to come down to present pricing differentials, which Canada should know will not remain same.

In looking south to the US, Canada can see today the huge furor for domestic production and control. To think this won't occur in Canada also is short sighted. And I believe environmental objections would be far stronger for a west coast pipe thru Kitimat. To me, that would be a travesty BC shouldn't even entertain.

I came upon a 6 yr old TOD piece, stashed in the bowels of my computer, concerning the tar sands. Here Dave Cohen was stating the biggest operational problem he forsaw was if there was sufficient natural gas to process the sands--whether locally available supplies could last, or if a McKenzie pipeline might be constructed. What is the present status on available natural gas for the tar sands?

What is the present status on available natural gas for the tar sands?

They've got natural gas that just never quits. You've probably heard about the shale gas boom in the US. Western Canada probably has more shale gas than the US does. Nobody knows for sure, but that's just because nobody has had any reason to inventory it before.

Canada should ship the oil east to it's own population centers, and export any surplus from the east. The argument using the US Jones shipping act seems one sided, why wouldn't it apply to GOM shipped oil also.

It does apply to oil shipped from the GOM, and this is a source of major concern to the US Department of Energy. If I read the DOE analysis document (linked in the previous Drumbeat) correctly, if half the refineries in the Northeast US shut down (which they are doing), and they have to ship product to the NE from the Gulf of Mexico (which they will have to do), and they have to ship it in US flagged tankers (which the Jones Act requires), they don't have enough US flagged tankers to do it. So there they are, screwed by their own laws.

The big Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick is exempt from the Jones Act (being in a foreign country) so it should be able to ship as much product as it can produce. For that matter, they could truck it because they're close enough. They should do really well out of this mess.

And here's another thought. Rather than reverse the existing Montreal-Portland Maine pipeline, why not build a new one from Montreal to New Brunswick to carry the infamous and often badmouthed heavy sour diluted bitumen to the Atlantic Coast? Any crude oil shipments out of it would be exempt from the US Jones Act, and I'm sure the Irving refinery could make good use of the cheaper oil supply.

Jones Act tanker supply isn't physically limited. If all of the existing U.S. flagged tankers are booked, and sufficient arbitrage opportunity exists, then somebody will register another existing tanker in the U.S. and put some sailors to work. The volumes being discussed in the NE probably aren't enough to make merchant marine labor supply an issue.

The remaining refinery in Quebec can't process "heavy sour diluted bitumen".

Why would Quebec take on the risk of a pipeline leak of bitumen and condensate for something that can't be refined in the province?

Because that's all they are going to get. The difference between "heavy sour diluted bitumen" and "Arabian heavy sour" or "Venezuelan extra-heavy" is zero. The world's production of sweet light oil is in decline (especially the North Sea), and in a few years heavy sour oil is about all that will be available on the market. There might be a little sweet light oil available, but someone with more money closer to the supply will outbid them for it.

The alternative to upgrading the refinery is to shut it down, which is a very real possibility. That is what is happening to refineries in the Northeast US. Quebec could end up with no refineries at all if they don't smarten up. They will have to get all their products from the refineries in Ontario, which are being upgraded to handle heavy sour oil, or the Irving refinery in New Brunswick which can already handle it.

CP Rail is presently moving crude in trainload quantities (80 cars)from the Bakken in North Dakota through Canada to Montreal and then south to Albany for transload to barge for PA/DE refineries. If those economics work, you'd think the Montreal refineries might be interested in the same product.

I doubt the economics work that well for the Northeast refineries, which is why they are shutting down one by one. It's just their least bad alternative.

It's quite a bit more expensive to transport oil by rail than by pipeline. Once the pipelines get built from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, which will happen soon, the transport costs to the Gulf Coast will drop dramatically and the Gulf Coast refineries will be able to outbid Montreal for oil, whether it's from the Bakken or Alberta.

Also, the sole surviving refinery in Montreal is owned by Suncor, which is the largest oil sands producer with over 300,000 bpd of production. It would probably like to supply its own oil to its own refinery. If it can't, it might decide to shut down the last Montreal refinery and supply products to Quebec from its Ontario refinery, which is already connected to the pipeline from Alberta. It recently sank $1 billion in improvements into the Ontario refinery, so it obviously intends to keep that one running.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending February 24, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending February 24, 282 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 83.6 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging about 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased slightly last week, averaging just under 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.2 million barrels per day last week, up by 96 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 8.9 million barrels per day, 539 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 599 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 217 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 4.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 344.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged nearly 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 6.2 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged just under 8.3 million barrels per day, down by 6.7 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged about 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 5.1 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.5 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Caught an interesting presentation by the CTO of a battery maker. A question was asked of electric trucks and the speaker pointed the audience towards Smith Trucks.

Woman charged with burning 'The Senator' says she did it 'to use illegal drugs'

This story, about the death of one of the oldest cypresses in the world - a tourist attraction in Florida before Disney - was originally reported as a lightning strike. It wasn't. Someone set fire to it so she could see the meth she was using.

It grew there for 3.5K years only to be destroyed by some idiotic, female, shaved monkey, looking for a quick escape from it's miserable existence.
How emblematic of how things have gone and continue to go.
Personally, I'd give this cretin all the meth' she can handle....and then some.

Only a few miles from Me I feel a great loss. The Senator was one of only 3 old growth trees saved from the early Florida loggers.

Arrrrgh! We had family in Longwood when I was a kid and going to see "The Big Tree" was one of our favorite hikes, back when Florida was still a cool place to visit. This really sucks. This is one reason they try to keep secret the locations of the really old bristlecone pines, at one time thought to be the oldest "non-clonal organisms" on the planet. We have a really old, giant tulip poplar near here and used go visit every year, but it seems to be near death, in part from human abuse.

Perhaps not as significant, but....
"It was an offbeat landmark on the Loneliest Road in America, but the Shoe Tree stands no more."
From The Reno Gazette-Journal.

That is indeed sad. This story is an allegory for our modern world. We are all burning ancient treasures so that we can all do a little bit of meth.
And as war nerd likes to say(modifying a bit)

I have no sympathy for people, we humans deserve it but the plants and animals deserve better.

It's not always vandals, dopers and the greedy that do these evil deeds. "Prometheus" was felled for the purpose of (get this) climate science :-0

That's a lot like "scientific bottom trawling" used to get a picture of ocean life - sure, you get the data, but I just can't handle the ethical implications of the action. It's sick.

I have a lot of trouble with scientists and engineers. Biologist excepted, a lot of them have the "science can fix everything" meme embedded in their heads. The bio and enviromental scientists are quite the opposite - "it's ruined and it's not about the get fixed". My brother did environmental science and worked for Fish and Wildlife in Washington state, and his comments about the salmon runs were mostly dire.

Of course, the natural scientists that were the forefathers of modern biology went around shooting things into extinction, so it's a hard-won wisdom.

"We wanted to know how many remained of the species, so we hunted them all."

I have no sympathy for people, we humans deserve it but the plants and animals deserve better.

Every human on earth? Or just a few of them? How about the children?

From the text of your post, I assume that the quote is your true feelings. Of course that is just your opinion and everyone is entitled to his own opinion. But it is an opinion that most empathetically disagree with. Every human on earth are just victims of circumstance. They are born into this world and, quite naturally, think this is the way it should be and probably always will be. We all tend to adopt the life we were born into.

Only a very tiny few can see and understand what a damn mess we are in. And even if they can see and understand it, it does not mean that they deserve it.

Ron P.

Every human on earth? Or just a few of them? How about the children?

Calm down :-)
I guess you've never read war nerd. Anyways my mistake, he's not that popular anyways. It's all in good humor.

Stockton Said to Plan Default Vote as California City May Face Bankruptcy

City Manager Bob Deis has told council members that he intends to put an item on their agenda for a Feb. 28 meeting that would ask them to approve mediation with creditors as the first step required under a new state law before the city can seek bankruptcy, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the matter because it is still confidential.

Deis also will ask the council to agree to default on municipal bonds beginning March 1, to suspend cash payments to employees who’ve accumulated unused vacation and sick leave, and to begin an investigation into the causes of the city’s fiscal issues, the person said.

Could this be the "Black Swan" that begins the fall?

Of course, the cause of the city's fiscal issues is, as per usual, an excess of spending as related to total taxation. Tax revenues, of course, were impacted by the Great Recession, unemployment, and like most municipalities, using real estate taxes as their primary revenue source. When r/e values fell, tax revenues dropped in lock step. Result: "Cities in the Red." Sounds like a pop song or the title for a doomer book, doesn't it.

Stockton, though, is not alone. Especially in California. Maybe they will adopt the Michigan remedy and appoint managers to rape the cities as they default? IMF would have them all sell their water and sewer systems and privitize garbage collection (so that corporations could profit - it doesn't help the cities). Chicago sold their toll highways to foreign investors - and their parking meters!

Times, they are a-changing.

People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

For me the problem is universal suffrage and the lumping together of all things together into one election and one representative. I am borrowing from Heinlein here but I think there should be a difference between a citizen and a civilian with citizens having the right to vote on matters too technical for the general population or things that have far reaching consequences. Civilians can probably be allowed to participate in the local government and on issues which are very simple to comprehend.

Of course then there's the problem of criteria to select citizens. I myself would favor a standard education, competency in sciences, a minimum IQ level and participation in some kind of mandatory social service. Care must be taken to design the criteria such that money isn't a factor in selecting the individuals and everyone has an equal chance of crossing the boundary (at least theoretically)

This, in part, was the concept behind representative democracy: Send your best and brightest to make laws and determine policy. Of course, since many (most?) folks are too dumb or ignorant to determine who is "the best and brightest" for the job, other criteria (religion, who gets the most campaign funds and advertising, best haircut, etc.) determine the outcome.

That said, what are the alternatives which don't involve a ruling (and ultimately corrupt) elite?

The best argument, IMHO, for a government that will not self-destruct was first stated by Aristotle in his book, "Politics." Aristotle argued, on the basis of the histories of more than a dozen Greek city-states, that all pure forms of government would self-destruct and be perverted into bad government. Pure democracy would inevitably be transformed into mob rule. Pure aristocracy would not work, nor would kingship, nor would plutocracy.

What Aristotle advocated was a mixed form of government--part democracy, part aristocracy, etc. Both Plato and Aristotle agreed that the only possible form of good government was a city-state. (For more on the views of the classical Greek philosopy, see two books by Plato, "The Republic" and "The Laws" in addition to Aristotle's "Politics" and "Ethics." Aristotle believed that ethics and politics were one ball of wax. I'm an Aristotelian.)

It is not a corrupt elite it is a self serving elite.

No, that concept is different. I am giving a proposal to choose among the electorate themselves and with a fixed set of criteria which are objective. The idea being that it will take care of the larger problem.

Rather than extend some civilian/citizen distinction to all residents, if you just impose some minimum technical education requirements to be elected to congress, the Presidency or appointed to the supreme court, then you will achieve essentially the same end as you are striving for. And it won't be quite as distasteful to common sensibilities about democracy.

Your proposal literally creates two classes of residents, which you would be demagogued into oblivion for even suggesting. Requiring Science/Engineering degrees for any politician seeking office is a somewhat smaller pill to swallow. Even still it would be met with harsh criticism. It's interesting to note, that our political class is dominated by lawyers, while China's is dominated by engineers. Because of that, it's conceivable that China would be better able to confront upcoming resource challenges, despite its outsized population.

The technical folks wouldn't just be acting and performing and doing public relations on stage like our current crop of politicians. They'd be actually problem solving and analyzing, and they would also be less averse to coming clean with bad news for the public.

"...if you just impose some minimum technical education requirements to be elected to congress.."

How would that make them less corruptible? The problem lies as much in a moral deficiency as in an intellectual one.

To Wise
How about mandatory civics-type education at a high level...as well as geography, history, whatever? It could be contained in a specific set of modules. Just an idea. Or volunteer service to the state? 3 months?

I remember having had that civics stuff when I was a kid. It was boring stuff, about the composition of government etc. I don't remember anything at all to address how to think about policy issues. It was just mechanics of the government stuff.

Most countries already have it, I studied civics, history, geography in school for four years and out of school by myself for ten years. The problem is that people who "haven't read/read but never understood" it outnumber me 100:1

Anyways the education modules need to be updated. After coming out of college, I had to learn some of the basic stuff required to live in a civil society. These things need to be taught for a considerable length of time both in school and college. Here's my list

1. Economic theory (Inflation, monetary theory, budgeting, accounting etc)
2. Personal finance (Taxes, investments)
3. Emergency medical care
4. Weapons training for self defense, to enable people to serve in civil defence.
5. Business etiquette and techniques (writing letters, business proposals)
6. Basic maintenance jobs (I learnt some during engineering but it should extend to everyone)
7. Basic Military drills.

In the end it again comes down to Heinlein's quote (the guy was a genius)

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

My Favorite Heinlein Political Screed was the running commentary within THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS ..

- "Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow ... was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them 'for their own good' — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it."

- "A managed democracy is a wonderful thing, Manuel, for the managers ... and its greatest strength is a 'free press' when 'free' is defined as 'responsible' and the managers define what is 'irresponsible.'"



I think you're over-optimistic about the benefits of things being taught in school and college. I consider myself pretty competent in all seven of your requirements, and I've never taken a formal course in any of them in school or college (or anywhere else for most of them). I'd add to your list:

8. Physics (for which algebra and calculus are prerequisites)
9. Animal husbandry

A caste system for western democratic republics, sounds Orwellian to me.

And the two most educated gouvernemnts in the world is?

*drum rolls*

1: The Vatican State. Most of them have a Ph D. in theology.

2: Peoples Republic of China.

While in the democratic world, actors get elected president and stuff...

1: The Vatican State. Most of them have a Ph D. in theology.

I would say that qualifies them as the most uneducated government in the world. ;-)

Seriously, as Winston Churchill stated, Democracy is a very bad form of government, it's just that all the others are so much worse. And democracy is far from perfect. If Saudi Arabia had democracy they would elect a Sunni president and then deny the Shia the right to vote.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wrote letters to each other in the years after their presidency. They knew of the problems with democracy and discussed what would be a near perfect form of government. They never solved the problem. They both agreed that the wisest men should rule but could never figure out how to pick the wisest men or how to insure they would rule wisely.

It is a paradox.

Ron P.

Edit: Question: If an Islamic country had a government where ever government head had a PhD is Shia theology, would we consider them to have one of the world's most educated governments?

The funny thing is, Ron, that whenever a group of people decides who is qualified, it always seems to include them and exclude anyone who believes differently.

Uneducated people distrust the 'elites;' the rich disdain the poor and fear the tyranny of the majority. When religions are allowed to form parties, well... that is why our founding fathers wanted to keep religion and politics separate. And, by their nature religions distrust each other.

Strange, isn't it?

And it is this distrust of our rulers and of each other that flavors our politics, and keeps us on our metaphorical toes.


Edit: Question: If an Islamic country had a government where ever government head had a PhD is Shia theology, would we consider them to have one of the world's most educated governments?

I would. I differ not in WHAT they are educated, as long as they got the degree. A Ph.D. in theology makes you an expert on what peopleof religion X belives, wich is a valid knowledge. You can't build a space rocket or cure cancer with it, and I doubt having an entire state cabinet full of it would be the wisest optimisation, but it is still valid knowledge as such.

I would. I differ not in WHAT they are educated, as long as they got the degree. A Ph.D. in theology makes you an expert on what people of religion X believes, which is a valid knowledge.

I wouldn't. What they are educated in makes all the difference in the world. Being an expert in what the locals believe may make you know the local anthropology but it does not make you an educated person, especially if you believe it yourself.

I was raised in the Deep South. I know exactly what the majority of my peers believed then and most still believe it today. If they passed out degrees for knowledge of Southern Country Theology I would deserve a PhD. They believe the earth was created about six thousand years ago in six 24 hour days. They believe a flood covered the entire world with water and only Noah, his family and two of every kind of animal was saved.

However knowing that may be valid knowledge but it is not valuable knowledge. Knowing that people believe in the literal translation of the Bible, or the literal translation of the Koran has no value whatsoever outside its anthropological value of knowing the primitive beliefs of some societies. And that certainly would not add to your ability to govern fairly. In fact it would greatly diminish that ability.

Ron P.

Right on.

So you do not put much value in antropology?

Personally, all things beeing equal, I would rather vote for an anthropologist than an actor. They have at least some training.

Regarding the Vatican theologists, I assume they also have snapped up a fair amount of other knowledge such as linguistics, history, geography etc. And to be honest, they have a knowlege of and understanding of ecological realities that far far outrank that of the US senate or congress. You probably (I guess) have more people subscribing to evolution in the Vatican cabinet (whatever they call it) than in the US congress.

On a side note; I would love to be a travelling Bible teacher in the southern states. Doubt I'd be wellcomed back though. But then they say you should always preach like if it was your last time.

Me, too, Ron P.

What has changed from my childhood is that the focus is no longer on drawing lessons from those stories of the past, but on our futures as laid out in the "prophecies." Rather than attempt a summary, here is a link for any who are not clear on the futures of rational humans; complete with popup Biblical references for those who require them. EASY!


(This "college" is near me and where Rick Santorum spoke to a full and cheering house yesterday.)

They DO pass out degrees in it, by the way!

I assume your question is supposed to be answered with "the Islamic Republic of Iran". Yet isn't its government kind of bi-modal, an elected parliament plus president to which the requirement of scholarship I don't think is supplied, and a council of elders which (is supposed to be) the best and brightest Shia scholars? I think the council doesn't do day to day governing, but has near veto power over the elected component (although I think they try to only use it sparingly).

The level and quality of a persons education is irrelevant. Most universities in Britain usually have a P.P.E. degree, Politics Philosophy and Economics, an ideal degree one would have thought for the job of Governing a country.

Unfortunately if the person who has got that degree is a sociopathic psychopath it is better that he is sitting in a padded cell than sitting in a cabinet. As for having Phd in the the breeding habits of sky fairies, I would have thought that would have made him even less acceptable as a candidate for high office, especial if he is suffering from ball gown and silly hat syndrome which most tend to do.

I would assume that the Shia scholars have had a part in governing Persia for several hundred years now. They've probably acquired some useful knowledge regarding governance of people in that culture. It might be totally useless if they were transplanted to another radically different culture though. I assume that their equivalent of papal encyclicals carry considerable weight in that society. They Ayatollahs are certainly regarded as especially learned men. I would suspect someone with deep learning of an ancient but still alive religion would probably be better able to govern his people, than someone equally smart but lacking in knowledge would, at least at the start of his reign. At least the former would have the benefit of centuries of experimentation, the results of which have probably been incorporated into the theology.

With Iran as with many nations, it's very important to remember that before Islam and Shiism, there was Persia and many other belief systems, many of which still exist within Iran; some Iranian students I had were Zoroastrians, for example, and while adapting to the USA (2001-2003), yearned to be back in Iran. Indeed, I recall a very intense Zen student in her early 30s whose essays and their ideas were a pleasure to edit and coach. Every Iranian I encountered had recieved their basic education within Iran, all after the Revolution, and they were quite capable (these were adult junior college students) and motivated.

Asian history presents an argument for the beneificence of Dynasties and is an aspect of human history that cannot be ignored. Persia was once the crossroad for Thought between East and West for several thousand years, 1000 CE-5000 BCE, and every Iranian knows and is very proud of their heritage. I'd rather them an ally than an enemy.

Asian history presents an argument for the beneificence of Dynasties and is an aspect of human history that cannot be ignored. Posted by karlof

And not just in Asia. If you scan over the past 6-7 thousand years since the earliest civilizations, the dynastic, hereditary model seems like an inbuilt default setup. Prior to the Industrial Revolution one can name the non-monarchic societies on the fingers of one hand: The Roman Republic, some of the Greek city-states, and the Medieval Italian republics. Maybe I’m missing one or two, but democracy didn’t come into vogue until the American and French Revolutions, just at the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Coincidental or not?

But I expect the problem is deeper than intelligence, or the lack thereof.

Elected representatives that wish to get re-elected find it next to impossible to engage in long-term thinking and planning, the date of the next election seems to be the practical limit. Indeed, several of the US Congresscreatures (whose term is only two years) have themselves complained that upon being elected, their first task needs to be to set up their re-election committee so as to immediately start organizing for the next campaign.

Elections are All About Winning, as well as consume vast amounts of money. This in turn puts candidates in the hands of wealthy (usually corporate) donors, and the short-term nature of electoral cycles insures that they stay there. At the same time the need to please or at least placate a wide array of diverse and often contradictory constituencies makes any direct “take the bull by the horns” approach to major issues impossible, everything has to be watered down and made sufficiently bland so as not to antagonize too many interest groups. In addition, honest and frank discussion of uncomfortable topics, such as Peak Oil become impossible; talking about this stuff is a vote-loser.

For an electoral system to work, a large majority of the electorate needs to be politically aware, willing to engage in critical thinking, and to maintain this attitude on a permanent basis. But it doesn’t seem to work out this way. The necessary level of informed participation is lacking, and I don’t think this is really a matter of intelligence but that most people are preoccupied with the minutiae of their daily lives. Meanwhile, the PR of campaign and other corporate spin doctors is ever-present and effects of plutocrat-controlled media, such as Fox News blathering away also absorbs people’s attention. And due to the “open” nature of elected government, democracies have no way to inoculate themselves against these various economic parasites.

Also, look at how close most elections are. A margin of 55%-45% is considered a landslide. Many if not most elections are within one or two percentage points. This is essentially a tie, and victory ends up going to whose campaign comes up with the catchiest slogan, or who better deploys their Get Out The Vote troops on election day. Or, for that matter elections can be won or lost depending if it raining or not on election day. None of this, of course has anything to do with the merits of the candidates or propositions being voted on. You might as well as flip a coin.

Finally,, the nature of a hereditary system fundamentally changes the concept of “ownership.” If you know you are going to pass something on to your kids, whether it be a kingdom or a single-family house, you are going to want to pass it on in more or less the same condition it was when you yourself inherited it. Ownership therefore becomes more of a matter or stewardship rather than a mentality of “It’s mine, and I can do anything I want with it, and eff the rest of the community.”

Antoinetta III

I find those observations much more interesting to wrestle with than those of the "Are people smart enough for Democracy?" Article... even if, in a way you say some of the same things about our failures to really look at the leadership abilities of the candidates.. I think the question they pose is unhelpful at finding where the problems with Democracy are to be found.

Sometimes I think that we need a structure where we apply different leadership models at different scales, since the needs and abilities in an immediate community are different than those of a large nation..

A - What interests me is the idea that a dictator is generally accepted as being always bad for a country whereas a Monarch isn't always. Maybe a significant difference is the fact that a modern dictator has far more information and power than a monarch by virtue of modern institutions and technologies. There were always basic checks and balances against a too tyrannical monarch but those don't seem to exist for a dictator in nearly the same fashion.

I suspect that the hereditary factor would make a difference. Even the most autocratic ruler has an inner circle around him in which ideas, proposed policies, etc. are hashed out. Dictators are surrounded by their political cronies, and the inner circle tends to become an echo-chamber, and counterproductive actions tend to proceed apace.

In a monarchy, the inner circle is largely other family members of the King, including members of the next generation, one of whom will be inheriting the throne. Therefore, there is an inbuilt likelihood of a royal inner circle raising objections to bad policy because the younger generation knows they will still be around and have to deal with the consequences later on. Not being concerned with dynastic continuity, the dictator doesn’t have this restraint.

Antoinetta III

... but democracy didn’t come into vogue until the American and French Revolutions

I think the people of Iceland might be a bit surprised by this idea, given the great age of their parliament, and even England has had a form of representative government (and with limits on the monarchy) for centuries. But I take your point - democracies in human history are rare and delicate creatures.

You make some astute observations, but I think you err in a way that is pretty common among American (or at least USAian) commentators, in that you equate "Democracy" with the US political structure ... but they ain't the same thing.

And notwithstanding outlandish modern myth-making about the perfect infallibility of the founding fathers, and the Constitution, many of the problems in the US are caused by the mechanics of the system, rather than being inherent in representative government with universal suffrage.

And 200+ years of experience doesn't convince me that the presidential system works very well ... and that those of us who opted for the Westminster System (with the Prime Minister being the person who commands a majority in the house of representatives) are quite glad we have done so.

I also think the US system of FPP voting is appallingly unfair, and a Preferential Voting System (PV) would improve it immensely. Even in the current primaries, it would be FAR more interesting, and certainly more "democratic".

I think the entire discussion on democracy as a form of government is a red herring. Who has a pure democracy as a form of government today?

Here in America we have a representive republic with a constitution. If we had democracy we could just say that mob rules and the majority could trample the minority every time. That is the beauty of what Jefferson and Adams put together, what they worried about was when it came apart and our leaders bastardized it.

Pure Democracy is a horrible choice, because you could vote away liberty with majority vote.

In general, I think most people generally would consider a system to be a "democracy" if:

1. Governments are elected, and only for a term of limited years before they have to face the voters again.

2. Governments are divided, with power somewhat divided between the various divisions.

At least, that's how I use the term in general discussion.

Antoinetta III

Trouble with education is that at some point it becomes indoctrination. The system becomes increasingly sclerotic lead by an indoctrinated political elite who can only see things from the systemic point of view. The real world becomes totally alien to them.

Non-Scientist claims, Anthropological Studies based on Homo-Petroleopodus won't be worth the Oil-based Dyes they're written on, once the period of Energy-Seduced Behavior has passed

Really, has Dunning looked outside the context that has given us so many incompetent people.. or the level of evil brilliance that has helped raise a Civilization as misinformed and intentionally misled as we have been? It's far too skewed by context to really speak to the 'Concept of Democracy' in any conclusive way.

"He and colleague Justin Kruger, formerly of Cornell and now of New York University, have demonstrated again and again that people are self-delusional when it comes to their own intellectual skills." cough, cough, (echo chamber!! ) - 'I know you are, but what am I?'

Sorry to carry on, Leanan, but these kinds of studies are mired in unspoken assumptions.. yet they title their conclusions with 'PEOPLE are...', instead of 'Contemporary Americans, Westerners, are' etc.. They make grand conclusions about what 'The Best Leaders' actually means, about what 'The Concept of Democracy' really means..

'DesCartes Thinks he Thinks; Therefore, He Thinks he Is..

Could it be that smart people aren't any less delusional than stupid people? Are they just much more effective at acting upon their delusions, gaining followers, creating/exploiting delusions for their own benefit.?

We don't even have useful common definitions of "smart" and "stupid". The ubiquity of delusionality may be what tells the story, rendering cleverness moot.

I think that of course true. Smart has as much to do with knowledge as it does with raw cognitive capability. Plus it varies all over the place. Lets consider two US politicians: Reagan, and Romney. The former had IMO worldclass emotional intelligence, one on one he was incredibly compassionate. OTOH, is analytical capabilities were not so much, he could pass policies that hurt many people -but in a way that required some serious analytical thought to understand, but could be very compassionate and generous in person. Romney is likely the reverse, he just can't connect personality wise (at least not on TV), but presumably has great analytical skills, which allowed him to make the big bucks at Bain. And there are many other types of brain-skills that some have better than others.

A bigger determinate IMO again, is humility (I might have it wrong), and the use of sound techniques for avoiding mistakes (like avoiding logical fallacies, and letting ugly data overturn ones beautiful theories etc.). I fear we tend to select leaders who are good at winning debates, even they they ate wrong. The candidate who can cleverly exploit our cognitive weaknesses is more likely to win, as opposed to the one who meticulously avoids them (because that is a good practice).

We also tend to have a simplistic view of flip floppers. Those who carefully weigh the pros and cons, are likely to switch sides on a topic if thei\ data changes. Partisans, of either side will regard that as evidence of weak character, rather than as the application of careful thinking.

Yeah but it's gotten worse over time. This much is obvious.

Watch the clips of Reagan, Bush I, etc. They sound like geniuses compared to the drivel that you hear today. That's one of the good things admittedly about modern media, it let us watch the decline in real time.

Listen to the music of the 70s, 80s, and then turn on any radio station playing today's garbage and notice the difference.

It's OK to be part of a dying Empire! It's happened too many times to count throughout history. And guess what? People picked up the pieces and moved on.

This time, the death of American Empire is coinciding with the catabolic collapse of global industrial civilization. Interesting times to be sure.

I'll take issue with the music comparison.

Yeah, a lot of the new music that gets serious airplay is pretty bad, but it has always been that way. That's why "Classic music" stations generally have a higher quality of music on them: it's already been filtered and only the best is left.

Some of the new stuff is actually quite good.

I agree we are in decline, but the question is how to handle the decline. Do we have a free market libertarian decline and let the chips fall where they may, or do we have various and continuous governmental attempts to re-inflate economic bubbles so the power base can get re-elected?

Pure socialism that controls the decline though a command economy is not what's going to happen as long as we have somewhat free elections, so that choice can be pulled from the list.

I think we as a society are going to continue the death spiral until we decide that we can lower our expectations gracefully and by our choice.

I think we need to keep reexamining what we value.

Is it smarter to show empathy and social concern, and keep your family together, or to explain with Formulae and in Latin just what the nature of man is?

It just seems that there are parts of human behavior, and of social organization and leadership that don't appear to be significant factors in this study's analysis.

ie, 'More under Heaven and Stars, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your Philosophy..' (Not YOU personally, GHung..)

Yes, ME personally Bob, but at least I know it. It's one reason I've spent the last decade or so trying to eliminate external (non-human) complexities. Society seems to have a 'divide and conquer' aspect these days that leaves many to try and simplify that which isn't simple. My post farther up on the Amish touches on how having a strict, fairly simple code that they live by, while fairly limiting and inflexible, also frees them in certain ways.

Most Americans these days would find this type of 'social leveling' and definition intolerable, unaware that the payment for the hyper-complex lives they 'cherish' is confinement of a very surreal sort. I've often envied "simple" people. They have a different, more honest grasp of certain realities which may matter more. Too bad this mindset doesn't scale well when trying to govern hyper-complex industrial societies. Best hopes for more human understanding; less unchecked ambition.

Ambition, or the desire to progress, is something built into pretty much anything that lives. Yeast doesn't stop multiplying because there are enough of them; they keep going until they are out of food and/or drowning in their own waste. Same for a tree. It keeps growing until it either gets a disease or gets blown over.
People are no different. We don't wake up in the morning with the goal to know less, have less than by the time we go to sleep. And the "more" we are striving for is not necessarily material. We can try to have more knowledge, understanding, less attachment, whatever it is that makes our individual boats float.
Wanting "more" is just who we are. Eventually that will be curtailed, hopefully by man but more likely by nature (or lack thereof).


If you go out into the world and look for ambition, you will surely find it.. and the ambitious will trumpet their eagerness visibly and loudly. You might not have noticed the UNambitious in the room, if you weren't specifically trying to find them. They kind of meld into the scenery.

But... there was a study of Grasshoppers (Anecdotal Warning! I'm clearly not ambitious enough to look up a link...Yawn! ).. and the researchers saw them spend many hours perched on grass stems, so they endeavored to figure out just what life functions were being satisfied with this '75%-of-their-time' vigil. It wasn't for eating, or attracting mates, or for sleeping, or composing operas. Apparently, they were simply 'hanging out'..

(It is POSSIBLE, that they were all working together to try to teach these researchers something, but from the study results, it's not clear whether the point got across at all..)

Anyway, thanks for all the fish!

I hope oscar was tasty - perhaps had I watched him he'd still be with us!


We need"scientists" to tell us that?!! Oh, and since when are psychologists and sociologists, SCIENTISTS? It's like calling an economist a scientist!

OK if people are not smart enough to figure out who is lying to them let's go with direct democracy. Let "the people" vote the issues.

OK if people are not smart enough to figure out who is lying to them let's go with direct democracy. Let "the people" vote the issues.

I absolutely agree 100%! Voting for a person that will then in turn represent our policy needs, is like sending in a orangatan to adjust the valves on a vintage car. It doesn't work - it's too indirect. No, we need to make large or small adjustments via people voting directly on the issues. I posted something to this effect about a year ago. If our forefathers really wanted this to be a country by 'The People', then let's all vote on the issues by internet. Let's not even have elected officials, except to implement what we vote on. Not sure how to make that foolproof from fraud, but voting needs to be easily accessible and take place on an ongoing basis.

I've often fantasized about a form of government (I think I've heard it called participatory budgeting?) in which the people voted for how their taxable income was allocated. Whoever the officials were who administered the joint didn't really matter, people could elect them or they could be appointed, it would be inconsequential. Everyone would be taxed at some rate (perhaps progressive, perhaps flat... details) and an amount of taxes owed would be calculated. Then from that number of taxes owed, the individual tax-payer would fill out a form which prescribed where in the government the money would be allocated.

If you could allocate your own tax dollars to "bins" or "categories" of spending/programs you can more directly express how you want your government to function. Of course how the "bins" are constructed would be immensely important and would have to be carefully worked out to avoid manipulation of allocation due to semantics. But all in all, I would feel more satisfied with my government if I could pay for only the activities I wish to see it perform.

Some ironies result from this scheme though: The rich would be in control of the government anyways, since they are contributing more money (I think). And paradoxically, a progressive taxation scheme would give even more power to the rich now, because they would have an ever disproportionately more money to allocate to a military-industrial complex or some other non-sense.

A lot of problems. Say you have a pay as you go retirement system. Would you rather your dollar be spent on crabby old people, or something that sounds uplifting (saving orphans say)? The few bins that sound sexy would get almost all the funds, and boring old stuff such as maintenence for the sewer system would be negelected.

Then how do you create long term programs. Lets build a grand canal, it will take ten years, after seven years the voters get cold feet, and the whole investment goes down the tubes, and the corps who bet the farm on building canal boats go belly up. We already have some of this boom/bust with say wind energy, as the production tax credit gets cut off whenever a certain party gets a majority, then all those who trained for, or took jobs in that sector get pinkslips. As Rock would tell you about oil/gas, the boom/bust cycle is highly unoptimal.

I was kinda hoping the law of large numbers would smooth out the boom/bust tendency, but your critique is quite valid. Perhaps, the allocation mode could follow the model of Kickstarter, so the funds don't get appropriated until it reaches the necessary threshold. This would take some time each year before budgets get settled, though.

You're quite right about the "bins that sound sexy would get almost all the funds." It would probably fall victim to the same P.R./rhetoric/manipulation garbage our current system falls victim too. Corporate shills would just fill the airwaves with the benefits of contributing to "bin X" which, unbeknownst to the dumb voters, "bin X" would be the subsidy bin for that corporation.

I suspect the average intelligence of a Senator is a couple of standard deviations above normal. And they have substantial staffs of "experts" working for them. If it wasn't for the very powerful political lobbies, I suspect they'd do quite well in selecting good policies. I think this was the founders expectation. But big money lobbying, and the need for ever increasing campaign expenditures mean they gotta cow-tow to forces whose agenda differs quite substantially from advancing the public good. I think the old fashioned campaign methods, wheras debates were largely in wriiten newpapers, probably led to much better voter thinking about the issues, than 30second soundbites and PAC funded attack ads allow today.

Let's not forget that ALL of the Founders were men of very substantial means. Very rich, Colonial aristocrats, educated to believe that national level decisions were to be made ONLY by men like themselves. Decisions being made by the general public was to be avoided at all costs as "mob" rule would only result in disaster. The Constitution, as originally written, guaranteed that decision making would continue to reside with their class.

There were 2 main factions amongst the Founders. The Federalists and the anti_Federalists. The primary Federalists were Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Madison. The primary anti-Federalists were Jefferson, Mason, Henry (and later Madison who changed his mind). The Federalists were mostly the corporate, banking and monied interests from the industrial areas of the North. The anti-Federalists primarily from agrarian areas and the South.

The Federalists wanted a central national government which had final authority over all laws and decision making. Hamilton especially did not think that States should exist once the Union was formed. The Federalists did not favor States having much authority and the Federal government could override them. The anti-Federalists were strong supporters of States rights and were not in favor of a strong central government. Overall the Federalists won in how the Constitution was written.

So, to think that current Senators are not acting in ways that are compatible with what the Founders envisioned is not accurate. The Senators were "supposed" to be making decisions which further the interests of the rich as the Founders believed that the best interests of the rich were identical with the interests of the Union. It is all they are doing now.

As to Senators being a couple of standard deviations above normal I would only agree in terms of a sense of political astuteness and ambition. IQ wise I would question it.


Curitiba, Brazil, has (or had?) regular referendums to decide which public works projects would go forward. Various options were presented and resident could pick which ones would happen. From what I remember the cost of everything was expressed in how many km of street could be paved with the same money.

For what it's worth it seems to have worked.

They still have to go to some source for their information. That is corruptible. In fact I'd say that is a big part of the US problem, 99+% of people get their knowledge from the (for profit) mainstream media, and the 1% have a great deal of influence over what they see and hear. I would call our presen system of weak plutocracy. Weak, because on paper the common people could vote out the current system. But if the level of influence over the news and debate of the elites is great enough, they can head that off.

The other issue with direct democracy, is the degree of analysis on each issue for the deciders. Consider the California proposition system, an attempt at direct democracy. But for most voters for most props, the first time they've seen it is in the voting booth, and they spend maybe 30 seconds reading a paragraph or two. The results have been predictably poor.

How much time do congress persons spend reading bills? None. Their staff work with the lobbyist and tell the congress person how to vote. So the direct vote citizens can use advisers also. Be they friends, family, church, green peace, etc.

I'd bet they mostly have them read by staff. At least some staff members should be analysing them for policy content, while others for "political" content. The more we could change the system to overweight the former, and underweight the later, the better off we'd be. A big part of the motivation for paying attention to the "political" side of the argument comes from the need to satisfy big money lobbies.

This opinion is not new of course. A review of the beliefs and opinions of the founding fathers of the US Constitution would lead one to the inescapable conclusion that they were certain that the public was incapable of any kind of thoughtful judgement and should never be allowed to actually make decisions.

If they could see the US democracy in operation today I expect that they would hold it up as proof that they were correct in drawing up the Constitution, in its original form, to exclude from decision making all but the very rich, educated aristocracy of the time. A bone being tossed to those white men of small wealth and property by allowing them a minor amount of input.

In a way, we are heading back to that kind of decision making presently via recent laws restricting our liberties and Supreme Court decisions providing greater control by corporate interests. The general public meanwhile is allowed to vote for a list of major candidates. None of whom have any intention of doing anything other than what the members of the rich, corporate aristocracy has already decided we are going to do. Campaign nonsense is just food for the masses to give them the impression that they are making a choice and having input. I doubt that there is any candidate who believes any of the diharrea that comes out of their mouths has any chance of ever happening and they just say the things they do to move up the corporate ladder.

Does anyone think it a mistake that the choice we are going to end up with is between Obama nd Romney (two moderate Republicans who differ only in their good looks).


Exactly! The only way to vote is to not vote and remove the systems faux legitimacy. Only slaves vote, freemen don't need to bother.

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Sir Winston Churchill British politician (1874 - 1965)


There are, of course, worrying similarities in the Rs and Ds, but I think it's also a serious mistake to suggest that Obama and Romney are simply twins outside their stylings..

There's enough lack of nuance in the public discourse. Let's not abandon it here, OK?

I agree that it is painful for many to contemplate that there is little difference between the two. But this uncomfortableness stems more from the respective fears of the parties behind them rather than the differences between the two men.

See this:


and this:


note the drift to the right. Romney sits almost exactly where McCain did in 2008. Obama has drifted right up to Romney's left, but well to the right of Liberal. Smart politics? You bet. He who holds the middle will win almost always. Romney cannot get to the middle without going left of Obama. He is likely screwed.

Obama was a Very moderate conservative in 2008, but not a liberal. He is much more conservative now than then (who says he is not learning by experience?). Assuming he wins next Nov I think it unlikely that he ends up drifting much further back to the left. If the Democratic Party can continue to hold this political ground they probably cannot be beat. They, thus, have no incentive to due more than pander to actual liberal policies.

So, there are nuances and nuances.

Thanks. I've been waiting for the '12 version, to show to all my Dem friends who think Obama is one of us.


The Blunt Amendment just failed, 48 to 51. Voting was along party lines. Had it passed then the House, with a majority of republicans, would have passed it. But Obama would have vetoed it.

But had it passed both the Senate and the House and we had a republican president, it would have been the law of the land. A woman's reproductive rights would have been between her and her boss rather than between her and her doctor.

Okay tell me once again about there being no difference between the parties.

Ron Patterson, Democrat.


That does not follow at all. If Rick Santorum got elected president and Congress was dominated by his political group you would have a point. But the part of the party he represents is not dominant. Any more than the most liberal members of the Democratic party are. Republicans and Democrats often base their views of the opposition on the extremes of the parties. But that leads to ....the political discourse we suffer from I guess.

But would the measure have passed the Senate if Santorum was President. Likely not. A bunch of Republican senators get to throw some meat to the right wing of their party in perfect safety while knowing that in the unlikely event the measure passes and gets through the house that Obama will veto it. If there was any real chance of the measure passing you can bet that a number of the Reps and Senators who voted for it would have serious 2nd thoughts. This is politics. Happens all the time. Both sides do the equivalent.

But judging parties based upon their extremes does an injustice to their majorities. I stand by my position.


Wyo - That might have been true once, but the modern Republican party seems to have devolved into outright lunacy and delusion. Compared to the current crop of Republicans, Tricky Dick Nixon was a dangerous commie radical.

Antoinetta III


Well, perhaps. As Newt stated earlier in the campaign Ronald Reagan could not win a primary today because he would be considered too liberal.

But I come to a different conclusion when I try and figure out how the Republicans have gotten themselves into the situation they find themselves. I cannot do justice to the whole thought process in any reasonable length of time. So this description will, necessarily, be not fully developed. Below is obviously MHO.

The Republican Party has fallen victim to part of its base and is ceding the field to their opponents. This happens to all parties at times and has happened to the Democratic party in the past. The core of their problem is from the growing influence in politics of the fundamentalist religious movements in America today. Unfortunately for them almost all people of very strong religious beliefs are now Republicans. (I will leave out all of the discussion of how this happened.)

Though our Constitution mandates a separation between church and state there are few of strong religious persuasion who agree with this principal. It is antithetical for them to agree with such a separation. Religion, by definition, claims primacy over ones beliefs and thus government claming that primacy is to be resented and opposed. Over the last 30 years or so there has been a concerted effort by their leaders to have a much stronger say in how the country should be governed. (I will leave out what I think triggered the effort for them to try and have more direct influence in civil laws and behaviors). They are very well organized and have had real impact in certain areas. They fundamentally do not believe in civil law and would, if given the opportunity, institute religious law that governed all of us. It is easy to find writings by their leaders who clearly state this desire. The lunacy and delusion you refer to can be traced largely to this group.

So, how do they try and get their way. They seize upon particular topics (such as abortion, sexual orientation, science) that resonate strongly with segments of the population separate from their own. They push these topics hard and relentlessly. They get their folks motivated to come out and put pressure on politicians across the board. In some instances they actually elect people who hold their beliefs. Most people are not motivated to control the political process at the grassroots level so the field is left to them to a great extent. They control a part of the debate and candidates who want to get elected in the early stages of the election cycle have to pay some homage to them to work their way through the process.

The anti-tax crusaders have a slightly less visible, but still similarly influential impact along the same lines. And there is some overlap between the groups of course. Their lunacy, however, has been with us since colonial times.

These two groups control the far right of the party at this time. They are often called the base of the party but that is not accurate. They are a very vocal minority that has to be placated or they disrupt the parties functioning. The Democratic party has had similar problems in the past. The standard response is normally to provide some accommodation to them but no real change. Co opt the leaders and use the energy to get elected.

So the current litmus test is Pro-Life, anti-taxes, anti-gay marriage, anti-science (it is a competing religion you know), etc. If you want to get the nomination you have to pander to these pressures. For now. But once you get elected? Ask the more liberal elements of the Democratic party if Obama has actually done anything meaningful to address their issues.

Romney is clearly the choice of the core of the Republican Party. He is part and parcel of what they are about. Corporate control, protection of the rich and further enrichment of the rich. His past positions show that he was not intense in his social beliefs as base Republicans have not been in the past except at a personal level. The mantra used to be to stay out of others personal business. There is no doubt in my mind that the powers that be would prefer Obama over Santorum any day. Obama has proven that he follows the same general path in leading the country as Bush, Clinton and his other predecessors. They have no desire to rock that boat. BAU is the order of the day. That is one of the things that eats at people here and on other blogs all the time. BAU is a recipe for catastrophe. But all the political parties are beholden to it. The core of both parties have proven it over and over again. I do not believe that they have changed.

Interesting discussion. But I have to go.


Wyoming, no more radical bill has ever been put before the Senate than the Blunt Amendment. It allowed employers and insurers to opt out of providing coverage for things they found morally objectionable. If you had a Christian Scientist for an employer, they could deny you any medical coverage because they find all medical care other than prayer morally objectionable.

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe was the only Republican to vote against a measure. All other republicans supported this radical very right wing bill. That is all of them except the retiring Senator Snowe.

Olympia Snowe Retirement Is Devastating for the Senate Snowe is not retiring because she is sick. She is retiring because the U.S. Senate is sick, and the partisan poison emanating from the chamber is becoming a dangerous environmental hazard.

I rest my case.

Ron P.

I as reading earlier today (I think it was in the Christian Science Monitor) that she retired because she is tired of all the abuse she has been getting from the extreme right. I think it was her sister that provided the interview. In any case, whether 25 of the R senators may personally dislike the fundamentalist agenda, they know that if they don't support it their career will be made unpleasant at best -or over perhaps.

You're 100% on that. Ms. Snowe will be missed, though I would add that she did go along with filabustering a few bills that a more conscientious person would have allowed a vote.

And, as for the Rep. party, in my youth I was one. Today, I cannot stand the Party. I am not particulary enamored of the Dems either, might I add. But for the Republicans, Andy Breitbart [may he rest in peace] was a proper spokesperson for their narrow, extreme, and in my view at least, evil, stance. Shortly after his death was announced, his spokespeople said he "stood for what is right." In fact, he stood "to the right of what is."

By taking a moral oath to a person, in order to be nominated for God's sake, today's Republicans are anti-American, for when that oath conflicts with their oath of office to the United States, they follow their God, money, and would throw the country under the bus for the sake of Grover Norquist.



Morning Ron,

My point is a different one. I believe that the "CORE" of the two parties is almost identical. If it was not then the Independents who are the real deciders of the electorate would not flip form one party to the other all the time. If one party was truly evil the general public would vote against them.

It is the extremes of the parties who seek to and often succeed in defining them. For example the religious right and the anti-tax crusaders currently define the Republican Party. They are in the process of self destructing in a manner similar to the extremes of the Democratic Party during the late 60's early 70's. There is likely some time still for that to play out. There has not been enough violence yet. But then again, Rush over the last couple of days has done a lot to help push them over the edge with his war on women. The fight the fundamentalists are waging will be ugly and brutal. I believe that, over time, they will alienate enough women that the legs will be cut from under the Republican Party for some time. As an example, my wife, a Catholic, raised in conservative Wyoming, who has always voted for whom she considered the best candidate, stated while watching the news last night that there was no way in hell that ANY Republican was going to get her vote this election season for any office. She will not be the only one to feel this way.

For the future I think, that as the effects of AGW and Peak Energy combine to draw down our civilization, that the more enlightened views of human rights and of knowledge gleaned by science will likely fade away. We are facing a bleak future and in such circumstances Midevil thought and political practices are likely to come to dominate the world again. So, if the current group of wackos can hold out long enough (and quit being stupid like Rush) they have a chance of returning us all to the past. Be interesting to see what happens.


But Obama would have vetoed it.

And you know this to be true how?

Okay tell me once again about there being no difference between the parties.

There is not a dime's worth of difference.

I know two folks 28 and 32 who think Obama is doing a good job. I just can not understand this.

Given the age at which Americans begin to vote, they first were able to vote for a president in 2000. I have no trouble believing they think he's doing a good job compared to the last clown.

Democracy is supposed to be the second job of all citizens. The purpose of public education is to give students the history, information, and skills necessary to assess arguments and choose leaders.

But the schools have been perverted into job-training programs, if not mere holding pens to keep unemployed teenagers off the streets. Too many privatized school schemes allow investors to skimp on teaching and programs as they skim profits from government support.

Society is rotting at the top, middle, and bottom. Studies touted on the Internet this week show that human beings are just very smart yeast. Individuals are intelligent (about their own affairs); the mass seems impelled to grow, grow, grow, until it suffocates in its own waste.

I would argue schools in the USA were never able/capable/designed to produce a populous imbued with democracy or to promote its health and spread within the Metropole, and that was prior to education becoming industrialized during the 1920s. The predictible result is what we see: A populous incapable of thinking for itself or acting in its own interests.

There is a science fiction story in which the smart people live in Antarctica and work full time to support the stupid people who have filled up the rest of the world. Then a person from the past is revived (cold sleep or something). He suggest building incinerators and telling the stupid people they are space ships to a wonderful new life on Venus. They are herded in and incinerated. The last act is the smart people killing the guy from the past so they do not have anybody with such evil ideas in their community.

Sorry do not remember the title or author.

C. M. Kornbluth, The Marching Morons.

People are not willing to defend what they have.

The court system was put in place as part of the check/balance. Yet concepts like 'lawyers have to represent Qui Tam suits' or 'the public can't go to the Grand Jury' or even the double edged sword of 'standing' make it hard for the citizen who might want to take a stand from taking that stand.

Interesting research... It actually reminds me of a paper I read a few years back on "Dueling Loops", which uses a system dynamics model to explain why politics is a "race to the bottom" rather than a "race to the top". See:

The paper also offers an explanation for why the usual "solution" to the problem (try to inform/educate the electorate) doesn't work. The bad guys always have more power, money and airtime to *mis*-inform.

What *might* work (but has never actually been tried) is to improve the general ability of the population to discriminate between good and bad arguments: effectively to teach techniques for sniffing out propaganda and rhetoric. We don't actually need to provide factual knowledge, just train in the ability to decide who else really has it (and who is bluffing). This ability doesn't require any technical skills, or superior intelligence, and it seems it can be learned by anyone of average intelligence (so the bulk of voters). But it does take time to learn. In that sense, it's a lot like literacy or basic numeracy. Also most intelligent or technically skilled people don't have this ability, because they've never learned it, which is why they are so awful outside their domain of expertise. I recall Aldous Huxley made a similar general point about propaganda analysis in "Brave New World Revisited".

I suspect telling propaganda from the good stuff would get harder. If the public is taught superficial characteristics to watch out for, that the propagandists will quit making it so obvious. So it also requires fact checking, and the aplication of methods of logical thinking and evidence generation. I doubt many people have the patience or time to eprform these later, so they would be vulnerable to propagandists who have learned to cover up the smell.

It is always easier to lie. It takes no time to get your facts together and today it is so blatant you don't even have to be consistent. By the time you fact check someones lie they are three or four lies down the road and you can't get the crowd to back up to the fact check of the original. Today, being a blatant liar pays well.

I think the word lie has been seriously weakened. A lie used to mean a deliberate untruth (ie. the teller knows it is wrong), but nowadays we call someone whose prediction didn't turn out a liar. Is that cheapening of the word behind our tolerance for so much of it in our public conversation?

Hi DrNick,

I'm the author of the Dueling Loops paper. It must have hit home because your memory is entirely correct. The usual solutions don't work because the opposition has an inherent advantage. This is explained in the paper.

"What *might* work" has indeed never been tried. The concepts proposed in the paper run so counter to conventional wisdom they have not exactly caught on. But a steady stream of people continue to discover the Dueling Loops paper.

By the way, the link is missing the last little bit, the ".htm". The full link is:



Hey! Good to hear that you're still around on the net, and even following The Oil Drum...
The "thwink" site looked a bid dead to be honest, so I wondered if you'd given up.

A couple of things struck me about your paper. The first was the close resemblance to points that Aldous Huxley made on propaganda analysis over 50 years ago: why it can be (and should be) taught, but why no one ever wants to do that. It seems it is just too awkward for existing institutions (both govt and private sector) to have people consistently questioning and pulling apart their rhetoric, and forcing them to use good arguments instead. Unfortunately, this applies in the educational system as well. Huxley even pointed out that an explicit Institute was set up in the US in the late thirties to analyse Hitler's propaganda, take it apart, and find out why it worked so well. But then the US entered the war and started rallying the populace with all-American propaganda of its own. At which point propaganda analysis became unwelcome and "unpatriotic" and the institute closed. (Huxley's always been one of my favourite authors, simply for getting a huge number of things right, including about population and resource limits. As one example, Brave New World managed to stabilise its population at 2 billion, which is amazingly close to current estimates of a sustainable but reasonably rich population...)

The second thing, much more depressing, was when you talked about discussing Dueling Loops with activist groups including the Club of Rome (the pioneers of System Dynamics), and even they didn't want to know. I got your frustration here to be honest...

Humans are not fit to govern themselves.
I eagerly await the arrival of our machine overlords.
Lots of science-fiction along these lines, too.

Psychopaths are fun: They can recite the rules and goals of 'goodness'... they just don't perform within them. I was listening to an administrator today. When asked pointed questions, she would recite the proscribed procedure as answer and imply, or even baldly state, that this was what was done in each case. The procedure was never actually followed, with horrific results.

Graph of machine intelligence:

Getting ready for the end of growth on Earth

Long Beach, California—Paul Gilding wants to scare us. He wants to scare us into acting before it's too late. "The Earth is Full. Full of us, full of our stuff. Full of our waste," he said during his TED talk. In financial terms, we live on the Earth like we are spending 50 percent more than we earn.

Gilding has been agitating for sustainability long before most people became aware of the concept, and he has a bleak message for the prospects of the free market. Our economy is not sustainable, and woefully unprepared for hitting the Earth's limits. It's not just a little bit over the limits of sustainability, either—we are way beyond that.

TED is great. It has a variety of items, usually video rather than written.

An example: http://www.ted.com/talks/garth_lenz_images_of_beauty_and_devastation.html

Shows the results of mining oil at Athabaska fields.


One thing I don't understand about TED. The conferences are attended by bigshots and heavy hitters from around the world, and they give the impression that smart people are in charge... or at least that our leaders are willing to listen to smart people. That premise is clearly at odds with reality. Do we expect TPTB to just turn on a dime and roll out the eco-cities plan after they've extracted all the money they can from the fossil fuel economy?

D: Have you considered that our leaders are more than willing to listen. Or that they really understand more than we give them credit for. But, after reviewing all of the available intel., they arrive at the same conclusion that many at TOD have (especially such as JM Greer and J Kunstler), that we do not have sufficient time or resources to remedy the situation and there is really nothing that can be done other than try to keep the peace when TSHTF?


I think they are mainly responding to the political climate. Anything that could be demo-gauged they won't touch with a ten foot pole. This eliminates anything the diffuse benefits but concentrated costs (like most environmental goods). Also anything that requires near term pain for long term gain. Weighing the costs versus the benefits requires some sort of mathematical model, and our current political system doesn't do that too well. And of course there are political constraints imposed by the need to keep various political pressure groups on board. An indicidual, -even if he is president, just can't choose what he thinks is best, rather he has to go for 9 parts political expediency, and one part merit.

FEMA National Responder Support Camps (NRSC) Contract Announcement

The following contract solicitation and accompanying material was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website between February 10 – 24, 2012. The contract concerns the construction of a temporary camp anywhere in the continental United States (CONUS) within 72 hours in a disaster-impacted area or “any other situation where FEMA or an agency working through FEMA needs a Responder Support Camps [RSC]” to host up to 2,000 responders and emergency staff as well as displaced citizens.

Whenever practical, displaced citizens will be given the first opportunities for employment within the camp, assuming skills and capabilities are pertinent for the open positions.

Wow! Thanks, Seraph. Goes to show that you never know....

Can't be sure of the connection, but I've been waiting a long time for some REAL indications of the following stuff to make sense (other than in some goofy "FEMA CAMP" conspiracy theories).

The National Defense Authorization Act for 2007, enacted in October 2006, included a provision to hire (fund the hiring of) contractors to plan for quick-build-out detention centers (up to 15)to be scattered across the country if necessary, each designed for a minimum of 5000 detainees, to be triggered by the President's (or presumably a designee's) declaring an "emergency" and the "reason" given for such a potential order was really skimpy -- perhaps but not specifically related to immigration actions (unspecified) or natural disasters. Those were the only "potential" examples given, as I remember.

I happened to find this in that bill because I was reading it carefully, looking for the provision that allowed the President to over-rule a state's governor in matters of domestic deployment. That one was there, too, btw. The governors had all sent a letter to senate leadership in opposition, but that went nowhere. Your governor no longer has complete command over your National Guard for domestic deployment. This was soon after GWB was no doubt really pissed because at least two states' governors had recently REFUSED to hand over to him the command of their Guard units -- La., and Cal. I digressed, sorry.

Sounds like the detention-center contract has been broken up into piece-by-piece, hour-by- construction contract, with the build-out being very rapid, indeed. First the management and staff, etc., up to 2000 contractor or other emergency employees of various descriptions. The item in the NDAA specified centers of 5000 capacity, so I guess one might guess 3000 "displaced citizens" could be added every 24 hours.

More quote from RFP -------------
"The Contractor shall staff the RSC with a team of trained specialists to professionally set-up, operate and manage the camp. At a minimum these include the five key personnel 1) RSC Manager, 2) Quality Assurance Manager, 3) Nurse, and 4) Food Service Manager, as well as any additional staff needed to manage and operate the camp, for example staff to check-in and check-out of personnel (occupants and authorized visitors) entering and exiting the RSC, food service workers, maintenance and cleaning staff. The Contractor shall have the capability of modular expansion or reduction in blocks of 100 personnel within 24 hours notice based on changing mission needs and camp population, not to exceed the maximum or minimum RSC capacity. The Contractor shall have sufficient equipment readily available for rapid deployment as well as preventive maintenance programs to ensure optimum equipment readiness levels at all times.

"The Contractor shall have the capability to provide engineering, environmental baseline, site design and phasing analysis to assist in effective planning and use of the RSC site."

This is a task order contract -- notice contractor must be prepared to add or reduce capacity in blocks of 100 over 24 hours. That's pretty quick. Based on "changing mission need" and "camp population." So the contractor chosen will have to show that they are READY TO ROLL.

Kind of fun to think about how YOU would propose to do this. My guess is that KBR and or even Eric Prince's spawn might be be bidding on this and that they've been aware since the summer of 2006. Task order contracts are for the purpose of not having to bid out such contracts because the work on them needs to begin quickly. Such contracts already in place were the bases of a lot of griping about post-Katrina "no-bid contracts." Whoever wins this will be some contractor who's successfully done it in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, is my guess. (Hope they're careful with the showers and electrical wiring.)

Interesting that the funding was authorized in a military funding bill, but now it appears that the contract is being let by FEMA, directly under the Executive branch with no Generals to fool with (or military intelligence?) rather than the USACE, our national builders. I suspect that this task order is able to be "extended" to cover additional camps -- I'll have to read the entire RFP. I will try to follow this through award of the contract, also. Thanks again.

My partner, who works for L'Oreal USA, received from them in the mail a foldout card with this on the cover:

Belongs To Those
Who Prepare For It

On the inside was inserted a small piece of paper with the company holidays. The foldout is a 5 column table with these row names in the first column: Name, Date of Birth, Work/School/Other Number, Mobile Number, Doctor's Name/Phone Number, Prescriptions, Allergies Special Medical Needs, Insurance Carrier Policy Number, Local Meeting Area, Meeting Area Outside Neighborhood, Out of State Contact Name and Number.

On a tear away section was this (bold mine):

Wishing you a happy holiday and the safest new year.
Please accept a copy of the 2012 L'Oreal USA Holiday schedule observed at most of our facilities. We encourage you to use this card to record contact information which would be useful to you and your family in the event of an emergency. Log onto ready.gov to learn more about preparedness for your household. Resolve to be ready in 2012!

In the lower right corner of the table is this: Form Courtesy of Ready.gov.

Okay, I guess we've been officially warned...oh, and thanks for the holiday schedule!

Financial Performance of the Major Oil Companies, 2007-2011

Over the period 2007 to 2011, oil prices were volatile. They increased to a record peak in 2008, declined rapidly at the end of 2008 and early 2009, and increased through 2010, and remained high during 2011. The total revenues and net incomes of the five major oil companies followed a similar pattern. However, the companies’ production of both crude oil and natural gas, their two key products, remained largely unchanged in the face of volatile prices, suggesting that for these firms, market price and the production of key products are not closely related.

For the oil industry, periods of high oil prices generally imply increasing cash flows and higher profits. While some view the improvement in the industries’ finances under these conditions as a business return no different than those earned in other industries, others view it as a windfall, a direct transfer from consumers, without any significant additional activity attributable to the industry.

S - "While some view the improvement in the industries’ finances under these conditions as a business return no different than those earned in other industries, others view it as a windfall, a direct transfer from consumers, without any significant additional activity attributable to the industry."

That's exactly correct. The vast majority of that oil production was developed years ago at a time when oil was selling for less. Just like much of current NG production was developed during times when its price was much higher. Back in '08 when NG prices jumped over $10/mcf Devon contracted 18 rigs to drill the east Texas shale gas plays on expectation of those higher prices. When NG prices fell below $6.50/mcf at the end of '08 Devon paid a $40 million penalty to cancel 14 of those rigs. And today, Devon is getting less than $3.00/mcf for that production.

Likewise, many other shale gas players are receiving much lower prices for their production than they had projected when they drilled their wells. So today NG consumers, "without any significant additional activity attributable to" them are having their own "windfall" thanks to lower NG/electricity prices. Just MHO but seems like this is just the nature of the commodity business. In recent years many corn farmers have made a "windfall profit" thanks to mandated ethanol production. Is that right or wrong? Again, just the nature of commodities IMHO.

BTW: during the 80's I worked with five companies that went under when the KSA flooded the market and knocked oil down to less than $10/bbl. Sooner or later if you're dealing with commodities, as a buyer or seller, you're going to get hammered. IMHO it's neither right or wrong...just the nature of the beast.

Oil companies seek to maximize profit. A key part of the decision by an oil company to drill or not to drill depends on the expected future price of oil during the time the potential well will be producing. As Darwinian has emphasized time after time, oil companies use the present value criterion as the main number to look at in making drilling decisions. The present value method is based on discounted future cash flows. To estimate future cash flows one must have an estimate of the future price of crude oil.

Of course this is not the whole story of how oil companies make drilling decisions. Usually there is a payback period as a hurdle to pass before drilling decisions. Oil companies also look at political risks and take them seriously.

As Darwinian has emphasized time after time, oil companies use the present value criterion as the main number to look at in making drilling decisions.

Thanks for the compliment but I believe it was Rockman who has been stressing that point.

Ron P.

You are correct; I tend to conflate two of my favorite posters on TOD.

And as EOS points out below even NPV doesn't rule the day in all cases. Public companies live in their own universe. IMHO the primary goal of every one of them is the same: maximize share value in a specific time frame. Often a rather short time frame...a few years. And the primary beneficiaries will be the management/board/major shareholders that makes those decisions. I'll always offer that horizontal project that cost almost $20 million and decreased the NPV of the company yet boosted the share price over 300%. But also eventual contributed to the company going bankrupt. A perfect plan IF you were one one the shareholders that knew when to bail out. In many ways there are really two different domestic oil/NG industries: the private sector and the public companies. Outside the US I suppose you could add another category: NOC's. Given that reality it's easy to understand why the public gets confused over the various mixed signals.

You are correct about the overemphasis on short-term price on performance of an oil company's shares. This phenomenon is an example of what economists call the principal-agent problem. The principal is the stockholders. The agent is the executives and members of the board of directors. For a long time now in economics and business administration the principal-agent problem has been recognized, and it seems to be worse as a business grows in size. In other words, stock holders will be better off (in the long run) if a firm has as its main goal the long-run maximization of profits rather than getting a short-term boost in share prices.

I do not believe that large corporations have only one goal. Increasing production and sales is another goal. Providing lucrative income through stock options (and in other ways), is perhaps the main goal for the Chief Executive Officer and also the Chief Financial Officer. I do not believe, following the thinking of economist Herbert Simon, that firms focus only on profit maximization. They have several goals and constraints. In other words, Simon claimed that firms satisfice rather than maximize.

Don - Yep...I should have been more specific and said I've never dealt with a public oil company that didn't value short term stock valuation over long term stability. And, of course, I've only dealt with a limited number of companies. But the pressure for short term gains was extreme in every case I've been involved with. From firing folks that didn't accomplish the goal to outright lies and deception. I can honestly say that when employed by a public company I spent almost as much time trying to book more reserves as actually drilling up more reserves.

Obviously I'm prejudiced by my experience and shouldn't use to broad a brush. But with re: to the oil patch I'm hard pressed to see anyone taking the long game into consideration. Even my privately owned company is in it for just a few more years when we flip it.

If the managers of oil companies do not realize that they are in the energy business--not just the oil and gas business--they won't be around too much longer, maybe only 20 or 30 years.

Bankruptcies are often based on corporations not realizing what business they were in and attempting to keep BAU when that goal is impossible to achieve. Almost all once-prosperous and huge corporations that fail have a history of decisions based on short-term thinking as opposed to long-range profit maximization.

Only 20 - 30 years, thats fine then plenty of time for me to cash out. By todays standards 5 years (or less) is long term. Top end CEO's and Mangers unless they are founders rarely make it 2 years, before thier off to the next great job. This is the problem all the way back to P.O., we are moving so fast now (and it is a wonderous thing) it's very hard to plan on the order of decades much less a century.


Also, perhaps countries dependent on oil exports may be in trouble as their oil depletes and their net exports plummet - especially if oil is their major source of revenue. Like some of the energy companies, they may not see the writing on the wall.

I'm tracking Exxon - which each year claims to add to their reserves faster than they are depleting them. However, their oil production has been dropping - what good is adding to reserves if they can't tap them in a timely manner? I suppose if the price of oil increases at a faster rate than Exxon's production drop off rate Exxon may still be ok. Any thoughts?

Saudi Arabia has a rapidly growing population, a falling rate of oil production combined with falling exports of oil. I think KSA will collapse well before the U.S. does, along with many other OPEC members. As westexas has pointed out repeatedly, when oil prices increase and volume of oil produced decreases there comes a point in which real (adjusted for inflation) revenue from oil exports decreases--gradually at first then faster and faster. KSA depends on oil revenue to buy essential imports (including food) and also uses this revenue for subsidies to the poor--of whom there are a great many in KSA.

Most firms get heavily into managing revenues. If this quarter is coming in below what Wall Street expects, offer incentives to your customers to move sales/deliveries/product acceptance up in time. Usually this is done by offering them a discount. So overall profits are canabalized in order to move future revenues into the current quarter. Often it snowballs from quarter to quarter, as the revenue that was taken away from this quarter must be made up for by stealing from the next one, and then some more to cover the markets growth expectations. Eventually the Ponzi scheme becomes unsustainable.

If the CEO has stock options, and its possible to fool the market. Say by counting reserve additions of cheap natural gas, as barrels of oil equivalent, then he just might try to maximize his short term gain. He can always jump to another CEO position at another company before the downside comes into view.

Yes, the usual ploy is for a CEO to get lots of stock options when he is hired and do some drastic things to pump up the stock price (e.g. firing half the employees to cut costs). Then he cashes in his options and jumps to another company on the strength of his stellar track record.

His successor deals with the consequences (firing the other half of the employees and putting the company into bankruptcy) when sales collapse due to customer dissatisfaction and all the projects he has started fall apart.

Enough with the rosy picture. I had to laugh at the firing of the other half of the employees. Just gallows humor I guess.

In his latest news letter, Jeremy Grantham lets us know that he "gets it":

Of all the technical weaknesses in capitalism, though, probably the most immediately dangerous is its absolute inability to process the finiteness of resources and the mathematical impossibility of maintaining rapid growth in physical output. You can have steady increases in the quality of goods and services and, I hope, the quality of life, but you can’t have sustainable growth in physical output. You can have “growth” – for now – or you can have “sustainable” forever, but not both. This is a message brought to you by the laws of compound interest and the laws of nature.
Capitalism certainly acts as if it believes that rapid growth in physical wealth can go on forever. It appears to be hooked on high growth and avoids any suggestion that it might be slowed down by limits. Thus, it exhibits horror at the thought (and occasional reality) of declining population when in fact such a decline is an absolute necessity in order for us to end up gracefully, rather than painfully, at a fully sustainable world economy.

A blast from the past.

Greetings All:

I have been on a bit of a documentary kick lately. In the process, I came across some older classics. I started watching out of nostalgia/boredom , but looking at them through my PO/ACC/Sustainability glasses it was like I was watching them for the first time.

These docs really clarify how we got here; how our collective mindset and situation came to be. There are very few villians in the stories. it's mainly people thinking they are doing the right thing, driven by ideology, hubris, oversimplification, naivete and just plain delusional thinking that ignores human behaviour and physical reality. In retrospect, some of it is almost comical.

Unfortunately, it makes me think that we can't or won't change our ways until it's all gone.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace &

The Mayfair Set

are documentaries by Adam Curtis. These are just two of the many he has written and I haven't seen a bad one yet. He is a master at doing the research to find the back story and connect the dots between different events, eras and disciplines. The AWOBMOLG link provides links to his other work. All top quality stuff!!

Speaking of connecting the dots, there is also the Connections series by James Burke. Years ago I found the shows to be very entertaining, but now I read much more into what he says. I expected to find them dated but much of what he covers is almost prescient, in fact, his earliest series is his best to my mind.

We've been on this path for a very long time.

I suspect that many (most?) of the TOD regulars will be familiar with much of it, but I recommend spending a number of enjoyable hours on the weekend to get a "big picture" refresher.

Lastly, for the nerds/science lovers, there is Sixty Symbols which is a series of short, impromptu, sometimes VERY impromptu, videos with the members of the science faculties at the University of Nottingham. Some of them are a real hoot but they are like potato chips, and the whole documentary site can be a real time vampire.



I've always thought James Burke was brilliant at tying together concepts and inventions (the "simple" accurate clock for one) and the changes and domino effects that they caused or set into motion.
Remember him on "Tomorrow's World"? Another Beeb classic.

Yep. Burke, like Curtis, has quite a track record of excellent work.

Equally good is The Day the Universe Changed


Thank you very much for the site links.

The question is what to do with all this newly found natural gas in the U.S from all the shale plays.

T. Boone Pickens wants to burn it directly in trucks. I think it would be better to burn it in power plants and the electricity put on the national grid to fuel electric vehicles. I think the electricity would be much more generally useful and much less of a transportation problem.


Of course, in order to just maintain current US natural gas production, Art Berman estimates that the industry has to replace the equivalent of 40 Barnett Shale plays over the next 10 years.

I'd go for onboard gas. Leaving aside the fact that an NGV can go for say 500 km which no affordable BEV can do we need to look at energy delivered to the wheels. I'm guessing that electric transmission such as in-wheel motors is 75% efficient compared to say 40% efficient for power delivered via gearboxes and tail shafts. However at the gas fired power station only 40% or so of the thermal energy gets converted to electricity. Ignoring losses over the wires we have

direct gas 40% energy to wheels
indirect gas 40% X 75% = 30% energy to wheels

Those percentages may be out somewhat but the range issue nails it in my opinion. Of course if the BEV was charged with nuclear energy that saves NG for other things.

You need to look at overall conversion efficiency. This simple analysis looks at cars, but trucks would be in same relationship.

Nat gas powered engine has about 22 to 25% efficiency, same as gasoline efficiency, but less than diesel because mean effective pressure of combustion is 1/3 less than diesel. Transmission losses and parasitic losses usually result in only 80% of that getting to wheels, so overall efficiency of nat gas vehicle is 18 to 20%, nat gas to moving vehicle. This does not include energy cost of compressing gas and cooling it for storage.

Combined cycle power plants that burn natural gas (steam cycle piggybacked on brayton cycle) get 60% efficiency (some have as high as 63%) in converting energy to electric power. Take transmission efficiency at 95% since most electricity does not travel over 100 miles, then take charging efficiency of 75 to 80% (low side based on need to charge quickly which heats battery more due to internal resistance) and power stored in car is 48% of energy in nat gas. Then take into account large motors being 95% efficient and end result is 43% overall efficiency, nat gas to moving vehicle.

Best to burn Nat gas in power plants that charge up electric cars, IMO.

Another advantage of electric cars is using wind and solar to charge the batteries, thus extending the life of nat gas reserves.

My personal opinion is we should try to get more electric rail and trolley bus lines built and forget the cars in any major population centers. Nat gas would last twice as long as energy source since energy per seat mile of bus or train is half that of electric cars.

But the problem is more complicated...

The low energy density of batteries (both by weight and volume) makes electric vehicles with practical range much heavier than liquid fuelled vehicle. The key to fuel efficient vehicles are low weight and low aerodynamic drag. Less of an issue for trucks, but for cars these are limiting factors with current battery technology.

Low energy of batteries won't be solved tomorrow. There are some folks working on Lithium Air batteries, which would be 10 times as energy dense, but even without serious glitches it would take ten years. And we can't plan on them being viable.

To me the cost of the natural gas infrastructure would end up being prohibitive. To transport electricity, most of the infrastructure is already in place and probably would only need upgrading.

Suppose we miscalculate with a national effort to put in place a national natural gas infrastructure and vehicles and it turns out we don't have all that much natural gas. Wouldn't that be a colossal waste of capital? At least the electric grid would still remain useful since it can use any source of electricity. And there is the potential for all the gas power plants to be converted to coal (gag).

Hank - But it goes back to the timing factor. Lots of cheap NG today. So why isn't half of our vehicles running on CNG right now? Obviously because there are so few such vehicles. So we'll spend the next ten years swapping over to CNG vehicles. And what will NG price and availability be in 10 years? Folks can say it would only cost $X per mile to drive a CNG car today but that number is meaningless: we don't have the cars or the infrastructure to fuel them. And if we do convert on a major scale how much will it cost and who will be able to afford it? And who's going to invest many $billions to build the infrastructure?

Then back to the vicious circle: if we had a large number of CNG vehicles on the road today would NG still be selling at bargain prices? Not likely IMHO. And what about the current shale gas boom that's depressing prices? Lots of recent stories about many of the SG plays slowing up due to the lower prices. These plays are dominated by public companies some of which might not survive this drop in cash flow. So when prices rebound, as they always do, how many companies will be left to pick up the drilling pace. Six months ago I would have not thought it likely but now I wouldn't be shocked to see one of the biggest SG players, Chesapeake, gobbled up by ExxonMobil or another Big Oil in the next 12 months.

Every economic model is only as valid as the assumptions it's based upon. I see some inherent weakness in a number of critical assumptions regarding the future switch to NG.

Iran, after Pakistan, has the world's second most CNG vehicles at over 2 million and 1800+ fueling stations, which amounts to about 22% of all vehicles, and its auto companies lead the world in producing such vehicles. In 2005, Iran committed itself to converting its vehicle fleet to CNG, and will probably be quite close by 2015. Finding good, up-to-date data for Iran is difficult, but can be discovered with patience. Wikipedia has a good report on Iran's auto industry with some tangental data of its CNG program.

The second observation is not hard to calculate. The price point for switching from diesel to CNG is many times what stationary users will pay.

Note a gigajoule (GJ) is about the same amount of energy as one mmbtu. In Australia diesel retails for about $1.40 for a litre comprising about 35 MJ thermal energy. That's 4c per MJ or $40 per GJ. Admittedly that includes some fuel tax. Industrial gas users like power stations, laundries and food processors complain about paying $5. No way will they pay anything approaching $40 yet that is likely to be the diesel changeover price for CNG.

If millions of CNG powered trucks and cars hit the road in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia the average gas price is going to be somewhere in the range $5 to $40 per GJ. Say it averages $20. No way can a combined cycle power station pay that price. OK the Japanese are paying $15 for imported LNG but they are in crisis mode.

North American price of nat gas depends on source, not world market price like for oil. LNG tend to be expensive because of the infrastucture costs of conversion plants (gas to liquid,and back) and transport costs of ocean going ships. Having numerous gas reserves all over North America means gas will usually be much lower than oil and close to coal price on BTU basis. Concerns over climate change may change this relationship more positve for nat gas. Also note that transport costs for coal now exceed the mined cost for coal for most utilities and this trend may continue.

I have been watching the news lately, and I have noticed a calm in their voice about this round of oil price spikes. Almost like the collective feeling is that "well, in 2008, the price spiked for only a few months, this one will be the same". My job doesn't force me to talk to many people, so I don't. But, I was wondering if any of you were getting any vibes from people you meet about their level of stress or fear about this round of price spikes?

The reason I ask, is that if nobody gets scared, then nobody changes driving patterns. If nobody changes driving patterns, then we will not see the price drop, yet.

Following up on that thought. As the China and India countries of the world use an ever larger percentage of the globally exported oil, wouldn't the US consumer have to make ever bigger cutbacks in order to effect the world market?

Funny you should ask.
I just had a short (very) discussion with an older gentleman, landlord of my building actually. He's changing the building's heat over to gas from oil as I write. I told him it was a good decision as I was pretty certain that oil wouldn't be heading down anytime "soon" (as in never). He then launched into a rant as to how we are being "screwed" by the oil companies and how America itself is producing so much it's exporting more than ever. I made a graceful exit......Newt's cornucopian vision at work I guess.

Would you really prefer that all of society truly understood 'peak oil', the way we do?

the phrase, "You can't handle the truth", comes to mind.
I mean, if everybody really understood that we are on a plateau of the oil that makes modern life, well, modern, who would take out a thirty year loan to by my house?

So, you depend on people remaining ignorant so your lifestyle can continue, or perhaps your just projecting your doubts and fears?

IMO, if people REALLY understood what's happening and its various causes, we might actually have a functional government and a functional society that would collaborate on finding a solution to the dilemmas we face--and IMO, that would be most welcome. Instead, we have a large ignorant mass of people divided and wasting time squabling over trivialities. IF the US citizenry were in any way educated, the changes wrought at the federal level of government and the politicos elected to implement those changes would never have occured, and we wouldn't have our current plague of dilemmas.

True, I guess, but I'm getting the feeling we're hitting "peak stupidity" and that very soon we'll be transitioning into "peak reality".
Very similar to what happens when a herd of peacefully grazing herbivores realizes that a big, toothy carnivore is on their collective case......

Recent media coverage is downright deceptive. Just escaped from several-hour exchange with a guy convinced the US was an oil exporter, based on this article from US News: Historically High Oil Exports Helping Keep Gas Prices High.

The article is about fuels, of course, but the headline .... it's not surprising people are confused.

Here in Europe, oil prices in Sterling or Euro have already passed the 2008 peak. Of course our high fuel taxes blunt the price shocks, and there is much grumbling at the pumps, but nobody is panicking. There is no talk of oil shocks or shortages. The government is still talking of building more roads. All our woes are put at the feet of the banks, and unsustainable debts and overpaid public servants or illegal immigrant and pretty much anybody except resource depletion, although some such comment articles appear in the more upmarket newspapers. I think peak oil (as in ever more expensive fuel and general inflation) has be accepted as inevitable and factored in to people's future expectations. They don't think through the implications, politicians still talk of the return to economic growth as the holy grail of econonic planning, but more and more people realise it is just not going to happen at a national level.

What the young, unemployed people are thinking is probably best expressed by last year's riots. Widespread looting, arson and muggings, but not a single bookshop was attacked.

What the young, unemployed people are thinking is probably best expressed by last year's riots. Widespread looting, arson and muggings, but not a single bookshop was attacked.

I Don't think that is significant Ralph, they will when they run out of toilet paper

but not a single bookshop was attacked.

I could interpret that two ways. The good one: they knew books were an important public good, and reading them perhaps will lead them to discover a solution. Or, the bad one: they assume books are valueless, why try to loot a store containing only worthless stuff?

A few years ago I lent a classical music CD to a friend. He had it in his car with his collection of th pop CD's of the day.

One day he went out and found his car had been broken into. All the CD's had been stolen - except mine...

I'm sure it's the latter... books have essentially no value on the black market.

There were quite a lot of thefts of phones, computers and plasma TVs though.
The idiots forgot to steal the cameras (CCTV) while they were at it...

Lower natural gas revenues cut into Texas governments revenues

... Local governments, bolstered by more than $1 billion from the Barnett Shale over the past four years, are adjusting to diminished windfalls as the lowest natural gas prices in a decade have slowed drilling and reduced royalties.

Fort Worth recently lowered its estimate of income from gas lease bonuses and royalties by nearly $334 million over 25 years. Chief Financial Officer Lena Ellis said the projected revenue, previously pegged at $1.03 billion, has been slashed to $697.5 million, a 32 percent reduction. Other entities are expecting less money as well. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, which collected nearly $191 million from gas bonuses and royalties over the past four years, is now projecting about $10 million a year in gas-related revenue going forward.

Fascinating story on the origins of HIV:

Co­lo­ni­al­ism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago

The authors claim that HIV needs a large population to survive. The transmission from chimp to human probably happened many times in the past, but the human population was so low that AIDS never reached the point where it was more than a short-lived local outbreak. Until a brief window, a hundred years ago.

To fulfill its grim destiny, HIV needed a kind of place never before seen in Central Africa but one that now was rising in the heart of the region: a big, thriving, hectic place jammed with people and energy, where old rules were cast aside amid the tumult of new commerce.

It needed Kinshasa. It was here, hundreds of miles downriver from Cameroon, that HIV began to grow beyond a mere outbreak. It was here that AIDS grew into an epidemic.

If this is true, then a future depop may erase the virus in a way science have yet not done.

I heard the author interviewed on public radio and his assertions don't hold water.

First, AIDS was not recognized as a distinct disease until the early 1980's. So how was it that AIDS was in the human population for centuries and started spreading rapidly a hundred years ago without being labeled?

Second, the fact that the incubation period for AIDS can be quite long (several months to years) means that the disease could spread as tribes comingled and traded over the years in pre-colonial Africa.

Third, as Europeans comingled with tribes in Africa starting in the mid 1700's why was AIDS not spread to the European population until the 1970's?

AIDS may have existed among monkeys for many years but was not transmitted to humans until a mutation of the virus allowed it to overpower human immune systems, and this happened only in the last hundred years or less, IMO.

First, AIDS was not recognized as a distinct disease until the early 1980's. So how was it that AIDS was in the human population for centuries and started spreading rapidly a hundred years ago without being labeled?

That is not what he is claiming. He says AIDS has been in the human population only about 100 years. Ground zero was Kinshasa, which didn't exist until Europeans colonized the area in search of rubber and ivory, and forced people to live at higher densities that they ever had before in that area.

Read the article (it's an excerpt from a longer book). I think you misunderstood what he said in that radio interview. He is claiming exactly what you said: the jump to humans was only in the last century or so.

Though he is not claiming it was a mutation that caused the jump, but changes in population behavior and density. They have samples from people infected with HIV from the 1950s and earlier that just happened to be preserved. This enabled them to analyze the HIV family tree (molecular clock, etc.) and determine how it spread and mutated.

With many Western Europeans having resistance to HIV (descended from plague survivors), and little concern for the ills of the African population, AIDS may have been lurking for decades until it made its way off of the African continent and began appearing more in non-African populations world-wide. Western medicine didn't focus on certain diseases found primarily in non-white populations until later in the 20th century. I remember the campaign against sickle cell anemia in the South during the '60s and '70s. Most white folks didn't know what it was, as it appeared mainly in non-white groups. Racism in medicine...

An important parameter in epidemiology is how many new infections spring from an existing one. If that number is less than one, then the epidemic dies down. For HIV, it depends upon a lot of lifestyle issues, like number of sex partners, health, type of sex etc. Most likely these things changed as the availability of antibiotics and contraception seemed to eliminate many of the downsides of promiscuity. We probably crossed some threshold, where the occasional cross infection (from monkeys), could become a self sustaining epidemic, rather than just a handful of sick people, unnoticed against the background.

Another point which I did not see in the article (it may have been addressed in the book). There are some people in Africa who are apparently immune to AIDS, such as seen in a fraction of female sex workers. This argues for a long period of infection of a similar virus, which, thru evolutionary changes, resulted in immunity. It may be that people in the source area had developed an immunity over many generations of isolation, but those from other areas were vulnerable, rather like situation of the Amerindians and small pox after 1492. Just my WAG...

E. Swanson

There are people immune to AIDS in all ethnic groups. As mentioned above, among Europeans, it's believed that it's the black death that created that immunity. It could be the same, or a similar disease, that has created immunity in Asian and African populations.

Yes. Deadly viruses jump out of the biosphere and into human populations all the time. With sparse populations, the contact point, the isolated village, dies-out.

Ebola needs an amplifying mechanism to really get going. In the outbreak years ago, it was supplied by a bunch of nuns playing hospital in the jungle with a single syringe.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]

The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response

A trend depreciation of the dollar since 2002 raises concern among some in Congress and the public that the dollar’s decline is a symptom of broader economic problems, such as a weak economic recovery, rising public debt, and a diminished standing in the global economy. However, a falling currency is not always a problem, but possibly an element of economic adjustments that are, on balance, beneficial to the economy.

A depreciating currency could affect several aspects of U.S. economic performance. Possible effects include increased net exports, decreased international purchasing power, rising commodity prices, and upward pressure on interest rates; if the trend is sustained, the United states may also experience a reduction of external debt, possible undermining of the dollar’s reserve currency status, and an elevated risk of a dollar crisis.

The following factors point to near-term depreciation of the dollar:

Low interest rates and slow economic growth in the United States, particularly in comparison to emerging economies, likely lowers the relative expected rate of return on dollar assets.
International holdings of dollar assets are high and prudent portfolio management could lead to diversification toward other currencies.
A substantial trade deficit in goods continues to exert downward pressure on the dollar.
If concerns about euro area sovereign debt problems abate, this will likely reduce recent safe-haven-motivated inflows for dollar assets.
A growing inflation problem could induce China to slow accumulation of dollar reserves and let its currency rise relative to the dollar.

... There is no precise demarcation of when a falling dollar might move from being an orderly decline to being a crisis, but the depreciation would be significantly more rapid than the orderly fall that has already occurred.

also Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Interesting how the gulf states dollar peg is not mentioned. Without the major oil exporters being tied to the dollar, the US dollar would already be toast. The US ran out of "assets" to sell when the subprime mortgages blew up and the MBS that had been sold to foreign interests as AAA securities turned out to be a fraud. Declining Saudi exports will have more of an effect on the US than just peak oil. It also marks the decline of the US ability to force feed dollars on to the rest of the world.

So, the Iranians accepting gold is a step towards freedom, yes?

At least from the western world.

The Major Error In Bill O'Reilly's Gas Price Solution

... With all due respect, O’Reilly has a fundamental misunderstanding about oil supplies. There is not “plenty of oil and gas in the U.S.A.” He is confused over net exports of oil and net exports of finished products, as I explain below.

Should price controls be imposed on gasoline?

In the 1970s, the Nixon and Ford administrations imposed price controls on gasoline. They were reacting to rising gas prices caused by OPEC's cuts in production.

But what followed was long lines at gas stations and an artificial shortage of gasoline.

Experts say the most likely outcome of price controls is gas rationing, like what we saw almost 40 years ago.

Nixon put the price controls in effect on August 15, 1971. The gas lines and rationing didn’t start until the Arab Oil Embargo of October, 1973, and ended shortly after King Faisal ended the embargo in March of ’74. Ford didn’t come along until late '76, and I don’t recall lines or rationing then.

On a side-note, I Googled “Nixon Price Controls” to check out the date these were imposed. A name in one of the links on the page jumped out at me, our old friend Daniel Yergin. The link was to a book titled Commanding Heights written by Yergin and someone else. Pre-Embargo, the price of oil was what, about one twelfth of one yergin.

Antoinetta III

There were also lines in the late 70's under Carter. I've read that during the same period countries that didn't have price controls and rationing also didn't have long gas lines because price changed attitudes.

Price controls keeping a commodity value artificially low are usually followed by rationing, because demand during a shortage wasn't checked by high prices. Allowing price fluctuations to properly value a resource is the answer to propely allocating that same resource and to not having long lines. Why be in a long line for gasoline that I can't afford? Price would force me to look for an alternative.

That's true. Countries that didn't have price controls didn't have gasoline lineups. People would drive up to the pumps, say, "AAAUUUGH!", and then go home, park their car and walk to work, take the bus, or carpool with their neighbor.

Naturally not everybody could walk to work, was on a bus route, or had a neighbor going in the same direction, but it took enough cars off the street to solve the shortage problem. The people who had to drive, did and paid the price, and those who had other options used them instead and saved money.

The problem with price controls is that they perpetuate the problem. There is no incentive for people to use other alternatives if they have them. It doesn't solve any problems.

Student Loan Debt Bomb’s Collateral Damage

The cost of college and the accompanying burden of student loan payments are having an enormous impact across many segments of our economic landscape.

... Last year outstanding education debt passed credit-card debt for the first time, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, a student loan website. Totaling close to $1 trillion, America’s mounting pile of outstanding student debt is a growing drag on the housing recovery, keeping first-time home buyers on the sidelines and limiting the effectiveness of record-low interest rates.

also Prostitution Attractive Option for Med Students with Debt

An increasing portion of students in the United Kingdom looking for a way to pay for their tuition are turning to prostitution, according to a new paper by a British medical student.

The problem may be particularly acute among medical students, who generally go to school longer, accrue more debt and have less time for paid employment

The English Collective of Prostitutes, an organization that offers support for sex workers, has received an increased number of calls from students considering sex work and has medical students within its network, Dixon said. Jobs in retail stores and bars that students might take instead are increasingly scarce and offer low pay, the ECP says.

and Young people face double penalty in a slow job market

The latest official unemployment figures show that unemployment among young people has soared to 22.3 per cent, higher than the recession of the 1990s, while the overall unemployment rate is nine per cent. New research from Understanding Society, a study of more than 40,000 UK households, has examined what is driving this uneven employment pattern and finds that young people suffer from a 'double-penalty' in their attempts to find and keep a job.

I wonder what the rate of HIV infection is for these doctors due to their side business.

I see so many stories about the young being this and that, but I don't see any political movement with any ideology behind it, the 60's had so many writers putting forth a framework for how things should look in the future, there were notable student leaders and political parties behind these movements. All you have now are facebook and twitter posts.
The Occupy movement hardly has any leaders or any ideology behind it, to me it mostly looks like a pop phenomenon.

Have the young lost the capacity to organize a political movement? or am I missing something here.

Have the young lost the capacity to organize a political movement? or am I missing something here.

The 20 to 30 demographic is only about 20% of the population. A large percentage of that is going to school or working. So lets say we have a 25% real unemployment rate (people who would like to work but cannot find full time, or if students, part-time employment.) That's only 5% of the population, and may not include the most organized, employable and well connected individuals; they also are probably struggling and trying to find work. You get organized movements when the natural leaders feel the pain.

The Occupy movement hardly has any leaders or any ideology behind it, to me it mostly looks like a pop phenomenon.

New political movements are, to my mind, like dancing bears: it's not the quality of the dance, it's the fact that it's even dancing at all. Occupy has got a whole bunch of media attention and, undoubtedly, a slew of email addresses. I'm waiting to see what they do with them.


The MTV generation as I call it is too coddled in the developed world and too busy acquiring skills in the developing world(urban area). It is only when daddy losses his job(in the developed world) and asks sonny what the heck he is doing sitting on his a*** doing nothing besides watching TV and Facebook that sonny is going to move his butt.In the developing world the realization that in spite of what you learned to devolp the skills, you still are unemployed(thanks to peak oil)will trigger the younger generation.I hope my analysis is correct but interacting with the jongens(young) in Benelux seems I could be incorrect.

I think you've hit the nail on the head.
Right now, they take non-organization to be a virtue.
The movements of the sixties came from an era where unions provided a template for how progressives could exert muscle collectively. With trade unionism now effectively dead outside of government, progressive youth have no model for how an effective co-operative organization can be formed with a minimum of hierarchy.

So without any organization, the movements fall back to the strength of the charismatic individuals heading up the individual Occupy movements. Once their passion starts to wane or their attention gets distracted the entire movement dissolves.

Collective action by progressive young people probably won't learn to organize itself until the slide off the undulating plateau really gathers momentum.

Once they see their prospects as not just 'a bit less affluent than mom & dad', but serious dire poverty looms, then those organizations will be self-generating.
One would expect those new organizations to gradually become more disciplined, hierarchical and militant.
Bolsheviks prove more fit than Mensheviks.

Do not forget that leaders and demands have a history of being co-opted.

A tax audit here, police harassment there, et la.

By claiming 'we have no leaders, we have no demands' - the lack of traditional pressure points are just not there. No overton window to move.

Yes, you are missing something.

The Occupy movement was organized by people who are members of Anarchist political systems. This means that they subscribe to an organizational structure that tries to avoid central control and makes decisions via group consensus. Pretty democratic. Not necessarily efficient. They also shy away from prominent leaders. Not to say that they do not have prominent political theorists. If you search out their blogs and wiki their politics it is easy to find volumes of political thought and huge amounts of discourse on what they think and want to do.

Anarchists have been prominent in politics clear back into the 1800's. The Libertarian Party in the US is an anarchist political party. The proper name for their political beliefs is called anarcho-capitalism. I suspect that when it was formed in the early 70's by David Koch (yes that David Koch) the name Libertarian was chosen vice calling it anarcho-capitalism for marketing reasons. Anarchism in the US is primarily associated with unions and leftist political beliefs, and thus the name carries bad connotations, when in actuality anarchism runs the full gamut from left to right. It is actually more nuanced than the simple Democratic/Republican political beliefs (which are almost identical in practice - but that is a different conversation). Note that David Koch's father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society.

A large percentage of the young people who have worked for me and that I know through political discussions are either open anarchists or hold political beliefs which would categorize them as anarchists.


I think the point of the 'no leader' philosophy is it cannot be beheaded. If I say "I'm the leader of the Occupy movement" tomorrow morning at 2:00 am there is going to be a knock on the door & a greeting by men in body armour. Just in case you are reading this, Vic, I haven't even organized a cake sale this year.

If we all say "I don't know, we just showed up here" it becomes much more difficult for the modern police state (this means you) to stop. eg the London Occupy breakup yesterday -

'Ello, 'Ello, 'Ello; what's all this then? I'll 'ave to ask the 40,000 of you to follow me to the police station..."

Protesters are cleared out by gorilla's with badges.

1st amendment to the consitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

- Berkeley students assaulted by police

- UC Davis students assaulted by police

It's not the youth's fault they were born into a police state.

If I say "I'm the leader of the Occupy movement" tomorrow morning at 2:00 am there is going to be a knock on the door & a greeting by men in body armour.

You can be labeled a terrorist and detained indefininately without trial:

The detention sections of the NDAA begin by "affirm[ing]" that the authority of the President under the AUMF, a joint resolution passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, includes the power to detain, via the Armed Forces, any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]." The text authorizes trial by military tribunal, or "transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin," or transfer to "any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity."[18]


Interesting times.

The Libertarian Party is certainly NOT an anarachist political party. An anarchist believes in a stateless society, where essentially anything goes. Many anarachists have no qualms about using violence against the state in order to achieve their ultimate goal of destroying the state/government itself so that they can live "free". Most anarachists also don't care about who might get hurt during the fight. While somewhat appealing in theory, in reality an anarchist utopia would actually be a place where the strong could and would prey on the weak and violence would be pervasive and omnipresent. An anarchist area would also be at the mercy of any foreign power, as by definition, it would have no large goverment force to respond to incursions on the territory within its borders.

The Libertarian Party, OTOH, believes in minimal government, with the legitamate functions of that government being basic law enforcement (involving the protection of life, liberty and property), and national defense (emphasis on defending and not the worldwide offense forces that the US currently maintains). In order to join the LP as a "signature member", one must sign the membership pledge, which states that the signer does not believe in the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. The Libertarian Party exists on the possibility that eventually, people will realize that BOTH the Repubs and the Dems really want more government control/power, and merely argue about whether the government should interfere more in your personal life, or your economic life. Neither Reps nor Dems advocate paying off, or even paying down the multi-trillion dollar federal debt and thus neither is serious about reducing government or spending less money. (Ask the Republican candidates for their plan to pay off the national debt if you truly believe they are as fiscally conservative as they like to claim). Both Reps and Dems have previously, and will continue to lead the US down the road to bankruptcy.

One might argue that both anarchists and libertarians want less government, but there is vast difference in both how much government they want, and the means that each group will use to achieve their goals. The LP argues that the best way to reclaim your freedom is to vote for it, whereas an anarchist would argue that the ONLY way is to fight for it.

It depends on the flavor of "libertarian".

There are quite a few out there who apparently consider publicly funded fire departments an unnecessary and excessive infringement on their rights.

Sounds pretty darn close to "anarchist" to me.


US net petroleum imports fell to 7.407 million b/d in December, the lowest level since February 1996, according to @EIAgov.

That graph is endlessly fascinating. The EIA produced an interesting report today.

The Availability and Price of Petroleum and Petroleum Products Produced in Countries Other Than Iran

Researcher tracks agricultural overuse of bug-killing technology

High corn prices are leading many growers to plant corn every year and to overuse pesticides and other bug-killing technology to maximize yields, researchers report. In many instances, pesticides are applied without scouting fields to see if they are needed, violating a bedrock principle of integrated pest management. The result is a biological diversity desert in many corn and soybean fields in the agricultural Midwest, and signs that the surviving insects are becoming resistant to several key bug-fighting tools now available to farmers.

also Meeting biofuel production targets could change agricultural landscape

... The satellite analysis found that to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) goals under current technology, farmers would either need to plant biofuel crops on 80 percent of their farmed land or plant biofuel crops on 60 percent of the land currently used to raise livestock. The authors reported that both options would significantly reduce the amount of food U.S. farmers produce.

Myhrvold finds we need clean energy yesterday (and no natural gas) to avoid being cooked

... In their results, Myhrvold and Caldeira highlight a few poorly appreciated but crucial features of energy transitions. The first is that they take quite a while to have an appreciable effect on CO2 concentrations. The world’s oceans have considerable “thermal inertia” — it takes them a long time to absorb heat and a long time to release it. Even after CO2 concentrations start falling, it will take the oceans a while to stop releasing the excess heat they’ve already absorbed. Also, the building of a clean-energy infrastructure itself involves enormous expenditures of energy and thus CO2 emissions. For a given power source, the emissions released during its construction put it into “carbon debt” and it takes a while of generating carbon-free energy for it to work itself to the break-even point. Only then does it begin producing net reductions in CO2. Combine thermal inertia and carbon debt and you get a fairly long time lag between the energy transition and its carbon effects.

The second is that so much CO2 accumulation is already “baked in” that temperature will continue to rise for a while even in the context of rapid emission reductions. We’ve already gotten drunk on fossil fuels; there’s no way to avoid the hangover.

From the post...

The second is that so much CO2 accumulation is already “baked in” that temperature will continue to rise for a while even in the context of rapid emission reductions. We’ve already gotten drunk on fossil fuels; there’s no way to avoid the hangover.

The consequences of this time lag are twofold. First, substantially affecting global temperature in the first half of the century is all but impossible; even to secure temperature reductions in the second half of the century, a rapid transition to clean energy needs to begin immediately. Second, lower-carbon energy — like, say, natural gas — just won’t do it. If we transitioned to something with half of coal’s emissions, it would take more than a century to produce even a 25 percent decline in CO2 relative to the status quo baseline. By then we’d be cooked.

Saudis Oil-Rig Use Soars as Obama Pressed on SPR: Energy Markets

The number of rigs used in the desert kingdom more than doubled in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase on record, data from Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. showed.

Saudi Arabia is deploying the most oil rigs in four years as it prepares for possible shortages caused by tension with Iran, giving President Barack Obama one less reason to answer calls to curb prices by releasing supplies from America’s emergency reserves.

Very interesting opening paragraph. At TOD, we view the Saudi move as an act of desperation to keep their aging fields producing. The Bloomberg view is that the Saudis are acting to prevent a release of SPR oil which would "curb" prices. The Saudis are using the Iran situation as a fig leaf to distract from the fact that they are having to work harder to keep production up. BTW, no mention of Saudi net export decline.

“One explanation for reviving fields like Dammam is that the Saudis are currently overestimating their spare capacity, so they are drilling more as it looks like they may actually need to use it,” Bain said. “We estimate them to have about 3 million barrels a day spare currently, but perhaps the amount that’s readily available would be quite a lot less than that.”

Ya think?

Ya think?

Despite the headlines, it doesn't look like SA has made a decision on that one.

Saudi Aramco to Re-Open Oldest Field to Tap Heavy Oil, EIU.

..may revive a plan from 2008 to restore production at the mothballed Dammam field


Have you considered the possibility that SA doesn't plan to leave that 500 million barrels in the ground ?

1 in 8 Chance of Catastrophic Solar Megastorm by 2020

The Earth has a roughly 12 percent chance of experiencing an enormous megaflare erupting from the sun in the next decade. This event could potentially cause trillions of dollars’ worth of damage and take up to a decade to recover from.

Such an extreme event is considered to be relatively rare. The last gigantic solar storm, known as the Carrington Event, occurred more than 150 years ago and was the most powerful such event in recorded history.

Global Fuel Demand Outside Iran Outstrips Supply, U.S. Says

Fuel demand outside Iran outpaced supply by 1.6 million barrels a day during the first two months of the year, the U.S. Energy Department said.

Consumption averaged 84.5 million barrels during the period while production was 82.9 million, the department’s Energy Information Administration said in the report today. The examination on oil and fuel supplies and prices outside of Iran was prepared for Congress.

OPEC spare oil production dropped 33 percent in the first two months of this year compared with same period in 2011, the report showed.

If oil consumption continues to be higher than oil production, then the price of oil will increase. By how much? No way to make a reliable prediction, because an upward spike in oil prices tends to cause lower economic growth, a recession, or even a depression. Thus I think it is unlikely that the price of oil will go above $150 a barrel in 2012, and if the price does go above $150, it won't stay there very long.

We can't make worthwhile numerical predictions, but given the apparently significant supply inelasticity of oil, seems that we can be confident that it will be a sharp rise in price. I'm feeling increasingly happy every passing day about that Prius v that my wife and I bought a couple of months ago.

I think that after prices rise, there is a good a chance that will be major international financial problems. There will be many job layoffs. Oil prices may drop again, but those without jobs won't be able to pay even the lower oil prices.

You'll probably find the 'absorbtion threshold' has increased a bit since the last serious rise and it could spike as high as $180 before TSHTF.


Another from CRS ...

Energy Projects on Federal Lands: Leasing and Authorization

Recent concerns over energy supply and pricing have led some to look increasingly to federal lands as a potential energy source. This report explains the legal framework for energy leasing and permitting for onshore lands subject to the control of the federal government.

The report first reviews the laws and regulations affecting leasing of federal lands for exploration and production of oil, natural gas, and coal, as well as the permits that lessees must obtain in order to explore for and produce these resources.

MELBOURNE'S growth areas won't be sustainable in the near future unless more government funding is allocated for public transport and roads, a forum was told last week.

Melbourne is certainly growing and sprawling - and is on track to be Australia's biggest city in a decade or two (it has much more available flat land than Sydney).

Management of growth is drastically hampered by the local government structure ... with a lot of small councils (including cities) each with their own issues, agendas, and voters. This is further complicated by a number of rural and semi-rural shires around the fringe of the city, that also have their own concerns.

The state government has a range of planning powers, but it seems to me the Greater Melbourne metropolitan area requires an over-riding planning authority somewhere in between. Coordination of growth, particularly the release of land for residential development, and the planning of public transport and other facilities, needs to happen urgently.

But of course it won't happen - the councils (and the state) are not going to cede any power or authority to a new body. Egos will trump rational decision-making - again.

"Coordination of growth, particularly the release of land for residential development, and the planning of public transport and other facilities, needs to happen urgently."

I take it you're not a big Kunstler fan. Maybe I missed something, though I agree with the public transport part.

I take it you're not a big Kunstler fan.

I appreciate what you're saying. But "growth" is currently unstoppable - and suburbs / ex-urbs are the only solution TPTB seem to understand.

I actually love reading our Mr Kunstler ... but there is localism / local empowerment, and then there is the chaos of uncoordinated development in a conglomeration of small-medium local government authorities making up a city pushing five million people. On top of which there are a range of other authorities and agencies (public, semi-privatised, totally private sector) that run transport, airports, hospitals, schools, water, electricity, and much else. And all are premised on unbridled growth for the next 20-30 years.

It's rather a mess - if rational and sustainable development are your goals.

I feel your pain, having been born in Atlanta in the '50s. Despite attempts at regional planning since 1947, including the Atlanta Regional Commission, Atlanta exploded into monstrous hodge-podge of suburbs and cookie-cutter faux cities; well over 5 million souls. All of the problems you describe, but not much soul left, made possible with cheap energy and air conditioning. Better luck down under...

Well ... the one good thing is that Melbourne is constantly rated (year after year) as the most Liveable City in the World (by whoever does these things) - or we run a close second to Vancouver - which is too cold and wet for my liking. So Melbourne really does have superb amenity - much more than Atlanta ever had - but it is mostly for the 2 million who live pretty close. The 2-3 million out in in the Diaspora face poor suburban facilities, few trains (although there are some), and immense commutes every day.

The city is defined as about 100 km from the CBD (aka Downtown) - that's a pretty long way when petrol gets expensive! We do have a reasonably vigorous in-fill program in the nearer suburbs, but all those flipping "faux city" councils get in the way of it, often.

or we run a close second to Vancouver - which is too cold and wet for my liking

There are advantages to living in a place with reliable rainfall, although their population is now exceeding their catchment. if you prefer hot & wet in Darwin you can water the street without being arrested.


However if you live in a water-constrained place, then you grow used to Water Restrictions over a decade, or even a generation. We had drought for 13 years, and it became quite serious (serious enough to (a) build a water pipe from the Murray River, and (b) invest state funds in a high-cost desalination plant), but as I speak, all the dams are full, and half the state is under flood watch. Oh well - Eastern Australia is outrageously affected by El Niño and La Niña events ... far more than North America, and especially Europe. S0 we're used to these changes.

One good reason why Indigenous Peoples who have been here for 50,000 - 60,000 years did not develop agriculture - there was no future in it!

Fuel shortage fears: 90% of petrol stations face delivery cuts as tanker drivers are balloted for strike action

... The union warned the strikes could hit petrol supplies and cripple supermarkets, garages and airports nationwide in the worst industrial action since the fuel blockade of 2000.

For just over a week in September 2000 the UK came to a virtual standstill as protesters blocked the crucial flow of fuel.

While truckers and farmers blockaded refineries, petrol stations ran dry, tempers soared and panic buying raged.

Texaco said four of its 12 terminals had been brought to a practical standstill while Esso reported the same number of depots affected.

I think it unlikely. There is little support for disruption to daily life in the massed middle classes. They would support a government action to squash any such action by banning blockades (secondary picketing) and providing alternate manpower to drive tankers. Maybe they could even offer it as one of the fashionable 'work experience' placements!

When other strikes that were likely to cause significant disruptions (eg British Airways pilots) were planned a year ago, they were systematically squashed by the courts for minor infringements of the voting procedure, even when the clear outcome of the vote was massively in favour of striking.

Only in this insane modern world do you have to go to court so be allowed to strike. It's like the occupy movement moving along at one place because the courts decided they couldn't "occupy" where they were.

It's bizarre!

As the years go by the effect it actually had gets more and more exaggerated in the press. Indeed there were longs queues for a few days. Some supermarkets did run out of a few items but it was nothing serious. Is was never protracted enough to become serious.

Always amazes me how easily history gets rewritten casue 'it's all a bit boring now'
Nothing like a good fairy tale to rejuvinate a once boring classic.


Indeed I drove more than usual during the blockade because I had about a months supply (10 gallons) in the tank and the roads were nice and quiet, and everybody drove slowly and carefully! I even drove to the supermarket instead of walking or cycling as I usually did.

Study finds thickest parts of Arctic ice cap melting faster

A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean's floating ice cap.

So about 60 years until it is gone. Assuming no increase in burning of coal.

South American Drought Affecting Soybean Reserve Levels

Global reserves of soybeans are shrinking the most in 16 years as demand for food, feed and fuel rises, creating the biggest-ever exports for U.S. farmers.

Drought in South America, where farmers are harvesting this month, caused irreversible crop damage and will reduce global production by 7.2 percent, Hamburg-based research company Oil World said in a report. The Rosario Cereals Exchange cut its forecast of Argentina's crop on Feb. 23 by 10 percent from its January estimate.

I suppose we need to pay more attention to oil crops these days. Oil Crops Outlook here.

On US soybeans:

Despite a dimmer outlook for South American soybean production, U.S. exports for 2011/12 are expected to be unchanged at 1.275 billion bushels as an anticipated upswing in sales may only narrow a large gap with last year’s pace of shipments. Domestic processing margins for soybeans have not appreciably improved, either, so the 2011/12 crush forecast did not change from 1.615 billion bushels. Without changes in forecast U.S. soybean demand, the expectation for season-ending stocks is unchanged at 275 million bushels.

Based on smaller South American crops, global soybean production for 2011/12 is forecast down by 5.5 million metric tons this month to 251.5 million. In Brazil, drought losses in the South are forecast to reduce 2011/12 soybean production by 2 million tons this month to 72 million. Soybean production for Argentina in 2011/12 is also forecast down this month to 48 million tons from 50.5 million due to lower estimates of area and yields.

1.615 billion bushels.. Most folks don't grok the scale of US agriculture, and how much energy it takes to bring this production to market... and that's just soybeans.

US soybean stats here.

Iran sanctions put Saudi oil output capacity to the test
This is a Financial Times article and you may have to register (free) to get it.

“There are many in the market who are sceptical of the Saudi numbers, for the simple reason that they’ve never produced that much before,” says Mike Wittner, head of oil research at Société Générale in New York. “Maybe they can do it, maybe they can’t. I guess we’re going to find out.”

Indeed we are going to find out. I believe that by the end of summer, or before, the world will find out just how much spare capacity Saudi Arabia really has. The preverbal excrement is about to hit the fan. 2012 will be the turning point in the world opinion about peak oil.

Well, at least that is my opinion.

Ron P.

"2012 will be the turning point in the world opinion about peak oil."

Not sure, Ron. I know a lot of folks that will blame all sorts of things/people besides peak oil. They just won't accept that there isn't plenty of the stuff. This just shouldn't happen...

The BAU/cornucopian belief system is as strong as ever. This view is based on only a few premises:
1. Technological advances from innovation by profit-seeking businesses can and will create resources or good substitutes for them.
2. Economic growth will continue, both because of technology advances and capital investment but also because businesses seeking to maximize profits will allocate both natural resources and capital goods combined with human capital to produce more goods and services.
3. Demand for consumer goods and services will always tend to increase, with interuptions caused by recessions and depressions.

There is no way to disprove these premises. Economic history tends to support these three premises--though not in the extreme and unqalifed form that is asserted by by right-wing Republicans or on the editorial and opinion pages of "The Wall Street Journal."

TOD is a voice in the wilderness, and listened to by few. I believe that the general consensus on TOD about the importance of Peak oil is correct and that the conventional wisdom is wrong--but I cannot prove it.

but I cannot prove it.

In one sense, it is a mathematical certainty. What is hard to prove is whether the crunch is coming near term, or can be put of for a generation of two. If we really can tap much of the low grade oil, at a price not too much higher than prevails today (and don't care about AGW), the reconning might be put off a lot longer than anyone at TOD would expect. [Note this is not a prediction, the conclusion is conditional on some large ifs.]

Hey Ghung

Anecdotal, but most of those I talk with about energy supply still cite speculation as the main cause of price fluctuation. These are educated people, too. However, I detect a rising unease and growing sense of decline...even with those who have jobs. Why? Many have children who have not risen smoothly into the world of debt slavery (aka the middle class). Oh, there is debt, but it is student debt, payments minimum or on hold.


From Pollux's link above.

Saudi Arabia (OPCRSAUD) used 49 rigs in January, compared with 48 in December and 23 a year earlier, Baker Hughes, the world’s third- largest oilfield-services provider, said Feb. 7. The nation employed an average of 47 rigs in the fourth quarter, up from 39 in the previous three months. Rig use peaked at 57 in August 2007, as the country implemented a program to boost capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day.


The kingdom is producing 9.8 million barrels a day and has about 2.5 million barrels of spare capacity, Saudi Deputy Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said during a visit to New Delhi last week, the same amount as Iran’s exports.

Saudi Arabia claims 2.5 million barrels of spare capacity but yet decides to double the amount wells it drills. Now why spend big bucks drilling if you can just open a few valves and increase production by 25%? Is it because:

  1. 2.5 million barrels of spare capacity isn't enough?
  2. The spare oil is of such low quality that nobody wants it?
  3. Drilling keeps people employed?
  4. Life is boring in the desert and dilling is fun?
  5. Saudi spare capacity has been eaten up by natural decline?
  6. ......?

6. They'll obtain the spare capacity by using those rigs, which means Saudi equate spare capacity with recoverable reserves. But pipelines would also need building, and that takes time too. And do the Saudi's want to be tested? Or will they be satisfied with Libya?

They are using those rigs in an attempt to mitigate decline. That's what they have been doing for over a decade now. And please give them a little credit. They know very well what spare capacity means. “Spare capacity” is the ability of an oil producer to bring new oil production within 30 days and keep it up for at least 90 days. And no new pipelines would need to be built except for short links to each new well.

And do the Saudi's want to be tested? Or will they be satisfied with Libya?

It has nothing to do with what the Saudi's want or what they will be satisfied with. It is all about whether they have all that spare capacity or not. The world will test Saudi whether they want to be tested or not.

Ron P.

There's a desire in Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to control price volatility and reassure the market," Sadad al-Husseini, founder of Husseini Energy consultancy in Dhahran, said in a phone interview on Feb. 29. That is why Saudi is pumping near record levels.

IMO, you should pay attention to what al-Husseini says.


In my eyes, he is one of those whos degree of insight is not any way near his degree of attention. Also he is good at explaining stuff.

If you remember it was the early 1990's when Saudi Arabia claimed to damn near double their reserves without much drilling activity in the previous years. Maybe SA should do like they did in the late 1980's and early 1990's, quit exploration and see if your reserves can double again.

Maybe I can quit working and declare that my wealth doubled as a result!

I predicted last year would be the year the world caught up to peak oil. Whoops, they were slower than I thought. But who knows, maybe this will be the year. With a real hard landing from a 2nd major economic stepdown they just might get jolted into coherance.

But who knows, maybe this will be the year

Until we get Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie shouting Peak Oil Peak Oil everywhere, not a chance in hell.

I had a debate on TED (supposed to consist of knowledgeable people) about the oil situation and basically I encountered only two types of people, the greenpeace types who think we can all live as a happy commune in a global village with wind and solar powering the world and the Gingrich types who think we can drill our way out of this.

I am a cynic when it comes to the public actually understanding anything complicated. Thinking conflicts with watching "Dancing with the Stars".

We will get an acknowledgement of peak oil about a decade after we start sliding down Hubbert's peak (if we are lucky).


I agree with you, but I have also been impressed by the Saudi effectiveness at PR. They know exactly how to word their statements to imply that the problem is not them. Phrases such as "market is fully supplied" or "we are accepting all offers" or "speculators are manipulating prices" and the like make them appear like innocent bystanders to the public at large. In 2008, economic contraction brought down demand and prices just in time to prevent the charade from being exposed. That could happen again, but even if it doesn't I don't underestimate their ability to deflect blame.

I believe you are wrong on this. Maybe you have bigger faith in people than I do?

Let me make an example: Of the 10 warmest years ever recorded, 9 is post 2000, and only one, 1998, is from the 20:th century. Meaning the other nine are after 1998. You still hear that the earth has been cooling since 1998 from the climate denialists. If it was cooling, how come all the top ten is '98 and onwards? How come not a single year is from before '98?

We have been in this reality since half a decade, and it has still not sunk in with many people. I to believe this year atleast has the potential to show us the truth about oil, but I doubt people will see it. They will find a reason to not.

I think you missed the entire point of my post Jedi. I am not talking about convincing the man or woman in the street. They have no idea what peak oil is. I am speaking of governments and the media.

Using global warming is a bad example. Virtually every scientists in the world and a majority of mainstream media believes in global warming. It is only the right wing who still denies. I would think if Peak Oil can find the acceptance that global warming has, that would be a resounding success.

Ron P.

if Peak Oil can find the acceptance that global warming has

Well if acceptance is doing virtually nothing that has yet had any appreciable effect then the situation for peak oil is even worse than we imagined.....

If action requires and 'event' such as Greenland ice shelf falling into the sea over the next five years to kickstart mankind into action then peak oil would require sudden catabolic collapse of society for people to satnd up and seriously take notice, by which time of course it would be too late...

Now where did I put my Prozac???!!


I do think the major governments of this world are well aware of peak oil. They just do not express it openly as such talk will be socially and economically damaging. The primary interest of politicians is to get re-elected. The truth or even the well being of its citizens are secondary and will be neglected if it conflicts with achieving their primary interest. As peak oil destroys the chances of re-election it is not spoken. Peak oil also exposes the folly of our current economic growth paradigm. The elites (and media) who sponsor the government will never allow this information to get out as it would be a threat to the current status quo and their individual special interests in maintaining the system.

I am sure the major world players such as the US, China etc know of peak oil and are also aware that net global exports of crude oil are declining and that China/India are increasing their global share of oil. In fact I would be willing to go so far as saying that people in the upper-echelons of government have more access to information regarding peak oil than you or I can ever hope to access.

Until we can convince a major head of state that publicly addressing peak oil is in their best interests they will never speak of peak oil to the public. That is the big problem. I am willing to wager that every US president since Carter has known about the peak oil phenomenon (not sure what they would have called peak oil before the term came into popular use).

"The elites (and media) who sponsor the government will never allow this information to get out as it would be a threat to the current status quo and their individual special interests in maintaining the system."

"a threat to the status quo..."

All of this carefully considered and false rhetoric is quite predictable per Greer , here at the ending of Empire:

Imperial rhetoric down through the centuries normally includes the claim that the imperial power only takes a modest fraction of the annual production of wealth from its subject nations, and provides services such as peace, good government, and trade relations that more than make up for the cost. This is hogwash—popular hogwash, at least among those who profit from empire, but hogwash nonetheless. Historically speaking, the longer an empire lasts, the poorer its subject nations normally get, and the harder the empire’s tame intellectuals have to work to invent explanations for that impoverishment that don’t include the reasons that matter. Consider the vast amount of rhetorical energy expended by English intellectuals in the 19th century, for example, to find reasons for Ireland’s grinding poverty other than England’s systematic expropriation of every scrap of Irish wealth that wasn’t too firmly nailed down.

Greer's whole series on empire really brings our current situation into focus, especially peak oil and what happens when an empire has squeezed its periphery of most of its wealth; in our case, primarily non-renewable oil,,, and in our case the "periphery" is pretty much the whole planet (including our own nation and its people). This is one reason I think that this time will be a bit different...

2012 will be the turning point in the world opinion about peak oil.

was the statement that led me to believe you were talking about the general population.

I have become less and less prone to make specific predictions since I begun watching the PO issue in early 2009 and I will keep to that trend. But I am not convinced PO will be a general issue the way CC has been, by the end of the year. We will see in december.

45 times during the years of 1930,31,34 and 1936 is the count of the number of 100 plus degrees days. Hot and dry during the Dirty 30's. The evidence suggests a cooling trend.

1936 21 TIMES
1988 14 TIMES
1894 12 TIMES
1934 10 TIMES
1974 8 TIMES
1947 7 TIMES
1941 7 TIMES
1931 7 TIMES
1930 7 TIMES
1975 6 TIMES
1911 6 TIMES
1901 6 TIMES


1893 - 1899 19 TIMES (PARTIAL DECADE)
1900 - 1909 9 TIMES
1910 - 1919 12 TIMES
1920 - 1929 8 TIMES
1930 - 1939 58 TIMES
1940 - 1949 22 TIMES
1950 - 1959 13 TIMES
1960 - 1969 10 TIMES
1970 - 1979 31 TIMES
1980 - 1989 23 TIMES
1990 - 1995 6 TIMES (PARTIAL DECADE)


Not really, that is only for the US------
1934, the hottest year of the 1930s, will probably be pushed out of the top 50 this year:

What the science says...

Globally, 1934 is the 47th hottest year on record.

The year 1934 was a very hot year in the United States, ranking third behind 2006 and 1998. However, global warming takes into account temperatures over the entire planet. The U.S.'s land area accounts for only 2% of the earth's total surface area. Despite the U.S. heat in 1934, the year was not so hot over the rest of the planet, and is barely holding onto a place in the hottest 50 years in the global rankings (today it ranks 47th).

Climate change skeptics like to point to 1934 in the U.S. as proof that recent hot years are not unusual. However, this is another example of "cherry-picking" a single fact that supports a claim, while ignoring the rest of the data. Globally, the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998, with 2005 as the hottest. Right now 2010 is on track to join the top ten, which will knock 2004 off of the list.

The fact that there were hot years in some parts of the world in the past is a weak argument against climate change. There will always be regional temperature variations as well as variations from year to year. These happened in the past, and they will continue. The problem with climate change is that on average, when looking at the entire world, the long term trend shows an unmistakable increase in global surface temperatures, in a way that is likely to dramatically alter the planet.

I see that this text was written during 2010. Once that year was over, it had very well, as predicted, ranked in as the hottest year ever. Wich made 2005, 2008 and 2010 all as hot or hotter than 1998. 12 years after 1998, the extreme heat of that year had become a new normal. I guess it will be considered a cool year by 2025.

That's data for one station, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Look at the station History. The station was a cooperative station, located in town, from 1908 until 1945. After WW II, the site was moved to the airport, which would likely have presented a different micro climate and which would have been staffed by professionals. The station was relocated again in 1971 to a new site located 1 mile from the previous location near the hanger area.

Hint: We know about the Idso's and Anthony Watts disinformation campaign. Raw data for one station says almost nothing about climate...

E. Swanson

Your data is for Sioux Falls, SD. One location, in one country. You did see that 9 of the 10 warmest years GLOBALLY have been since 1998, right?

Or did I miss a tag?

Run the same number across every city in the world and you have a global statistic.

Nothing against Sioux Falls, but as I was reminded again yesterday it is just one spot.

Also, what has the low temperature trend been ove the same period?

Oh: also 4/13/00

That data doesn't include the last 12 years, so if 1936 has been beaten since 2000 it won't show there.

Let's see... Instead of cherry picking a particular location, I'll just grab a random one:

Dallas/Fort Worth - Annual and Consecutive 100° Days

Greatest Annual
Rank	# of Days	Year
1	71	2011
2	69	1980
3	56	1998
4	52	1954
5	48	1956
6	46	2000
7	44	1952
8	43	2006
9	40	1951
10	38	1963

Where's 1936? Follow the link, data back to 1903.

And your point is???

From that data, I can only draw a conclusion for DFW. From your data you can only draw a conclusion for Souix Falls, SD. Take the same data from thousands of points around the world and average it and come back. Then you'll have the global picture. That's what global climate change is all about. Stop listening to those who count on having an ignorant audience.

"An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out." - Will Rogers

I can count on one hand the number of times it has been more than 100 degrees F during the last five years at my location. It is very unusual to have such a low number, a definite cooling trend by my observation, anecdotal as it is. It doesn't follow the graph.

I suppose I could have used Anchorage, Alaska. I chose a more northern city in the US because it would have more extreme temperatures, yet not Winnipeg's or Saskatoon's. Doesn't exhibit bias, maybe. Dallas isn't going to be -40 degrees C anytime soon.

Some food for thought:


You didn't get it, did you? Stop it with the individual locations! Your location is just a single point also! That's not going to show what the global trend is.

It's going to be extremely rare for any individual site to exactly follow the global trend. Some will deviate a lot, like the ones you've picked. Just because some sites show so-called cooling trend doesn't mean the global trend isn't warming. There will also be those sites that show a much larger warming trend than the global trend. That doesn't mean that the global trend isn't warming fast enough.

If you're going to accept individual sites that support your agenda, you also have to accept those that don't support it. Average all the sites. You also can't start and stop your data cherry-picking at years that let you draw your desired conclusion. You need to use all the available data, e.g. don't stop at 2000.

I'm not trying to present an argument against AGW. I'm just presenting information that is contrary to what is observed elsewhere, referred to it as 'anecdotal' implying skepticism. I can be skeptical, question what is given as hardcore evidence. That's fine. I'll remain impartial, won't let the contrary evidence convince me that there is no global warming, no agenda here, a misguided perception. Also, it has to be pounded into my thick skull, which is fine. Argot to lexicon to dogma. Raising tolerances and eliminating propaganda would be my agenda, if I were to have one.

It only takes a second to click the link and it's a short read.

Kind of an eye-opener.

Then why did you choose a data set from 2000?

Give it a rest, please. If you have NEW information on this topic, it can be discussed here, but we aren't going to re-hash these old arguments. There are plenty of climate sites where you can post this stuff.

Perhaps you aren't aware that most models produce a shutdown of the THC as the result of Global Warming. That's been in the debate for quite a while. I have in my hand a book regarding abrupt change, "Sudden and Disruptive Climate Change", published in 2008, which I have yet to read. William Calvin (who is an MD, not an atmospheric scientist) has argued that we should be very worried and I communicated with him on several occasions after his article appeared in The Atlantic in 1998. Also, I even did something similar to your original post, taking one station's data and looking at extremes, presenting the results in a proposal in 1990.

So, what's your point, if you have one?

E. Swanson

The 1990's haven't been a partial decade since 1999.

The world is running out of oil: Isn't someone supposed to watch out for this.

Michael Nesmith, formally from the Monkees, Even though it is over 25 years old, it still applies today. It won the first Grammy Award for Video. You can order the full DVD from:

Another... Monkeyism... Michael Nesmith again ..... LDDC- Large Detroit Car Company
"These cars are TERRIBLE ! .... We are not just hoping UR dumb America - we are banking on it."
RIP - Davy Jones & LDCC

UPDATE 2-Mexico oil output seen stagnant next 14 yrs

The world's No. 7 oil producer currently produces 2.55 million bpd of oil, as Pemex has managed to stabilize a dramatic decline in production at its largest aging fields, most notably the giant Cantarell field.

Managed to stabilize??

Production from Akal-Nohoch (Históricamente Cantarell), Jan 2010 - Jan 2012:

450.887 -36% YoY

348.671 -23% YoY

262.612 -25% YoY

Source: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5620/524456

MEXICO CITY Feb 29 (Reuters) - Mexico's oil production is seen stagnating at around 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) over the next 14 years unless the state oil company Pemex significantly boosts investment, the energy ministry said in a report on Wednesday.

The world's No. 7 oil producer currently produces 2.55 million bpd of oil, as Pemex has managed to stabilize a dramatic decline in production at its largest aging fields, most notably the giant Cantarell field.

Pemex has struggled to replace lost output with new discoveries and risks becoming a net oil importer within the next decade as energy demand rises.

By 2026, Cantarell's production will drop to 150,000 bpd from the 444,000 bpd this year, the energy ministry report said.

Since Cantarell's decline, the Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) complex has become Mexico's most important oil field.

KMZ will produce 847,000 bpd this year -- 32.5 percent of Mexico's overall output.

By 2017, KMZ's production will peak at 933,000 bpd and then began to decline, the report said.

Does anyone believe this? Can they really keep output on a plateau for so long? I figured we were within a few years of them becoming an importer.


Plotting it, it looks like Cantarell production stabilized for about 12 months (mid 2010 to mid 2011) and then resumed its decline at the same rate. I don't think they've managed to stabilize it at all. The field is still showing a very steep exponential decline.

However, the production rates are down to the point where it doesn't make much difference to total Mexican production, so they are going to have to ensure their other oil fields maintain production rates. Their production will flatten out ASSUMING their other big oil fields don't go into decline.

Rocky - I'm sure you know this but for others: Cantarell is a pure pressure depletion drive. IOW there's no column of water that is pushing the oil out of the ground. Think of a keg of beer: as the beer/oil flows out the pressure drops. Eventually so low the beer/oil stops flowing. So to keep the pressure up PEMEX has the largest N2 generating facility on planet installed at Cantarell. In fact I've read that this plant produces more N2 than all the other plants in the world combined.

So the N2 is injected into the top of the structure and as the bubble expands it pushes the oil down the structure to the producing wells. Eventually the gas cap reaches the higher producing wells and the oil rate declines as more N2 is produced from that well. Ultimately the well "gasses out" as opposed watering out in a water drive reservoir. How many and how fast the producing wells gas out is a function of where they are in the reservoir. I'm pretty sure PEMEX has that model fairly well developed. The 'stable period' likely occurred after a number of higher wells gassed out and then there was a significant time lag before the gas cap reached the next lower tier of wells. IMHO I wouldn't call that stabilized. That would imply the reservoir isn't depleting as fast as it has been. It's still depleting but you just aren't seeing the decline until the next set of wells reached by the gas cap.

The progression of the gas cap expansion is relatively easy to monitor. Given the long history of the field I can imagine the future decline rate is rather predictable and PEMEX has a very good idea of what the future production curve looks like. They just don't fell compelled to share it with us and their countrymen.

Once the field "gases out", couldn't PEMEX blow down the Nitrogen and allow any residual oil to migrate back up to the top of the reservoir? The nitrogen would presumably be under pressure and releasing the gas thru turbines could be used to produce electricity for some other use. In addition, the nitrogen would likely have NG and other volatiles mixed with it, so the mixture of gases could be directed to a steam boiler for further energy capture. The field might thus produce useful energy even after the oil flow stopped...

E. Swanson

Dog - Not much chance of secondary migration. Once the oil saturation reaches a certain low level it's very difficult to move. In fact, we call it the "irreducible" oil saturation because it's just that...can't be reduced anymore. It varies but typically around 30% of the original oil sat. And gas cap expansion is actually a rather effective recovery method...doesn't leave much behind other than the irreducible volume. They could try some sort of a solvent flush but I doubt the economics would work. Just the harsh reality of not being able to get all the oil out. I've seen fields where 80-90% of the many millions of bbls of oil in place were left behind because there was no economic method for enhanced recovery. Very sad/frustrating indeed

Maybe produce some e- but where would you go with it? The field is offshore so would it be worth laying the cables? Maybe...it is a very large volume of N2. As far as NG recovery I doubt there's much left in the reservoir. By keeping the oil pressured the NG stayed in solution and was produced with the oil. Not sure if there was much NG in solution in the first place.

Yo Rockman, is it possible to just light up the remaining oil on fire, like a coal seam that burns for years, cap a turbine onto the various wellheads ...?

Matt - That's actually a method of EOR developed about 50 years ago. Called in situ combustion or "fire flood". Air is injected into the reservoir and oxidizes the oil. But what it essentially does is combust the oil to generate pressure from the combustion gas. This pressure is what drives the oil out of the reservoir. Which is what the N2 injection at Cantarell accomplished. The reservoir is now at more than enough pressure to move any movable oil. And that takes me back to the point about irreducible oil saturation. Once oil reaches a certain low saturation it won't move through the rock. One way to increase its mobility is to inject a solvent that would reduce the surface tension and make the oil a somewhat more movable. But solvents and injection plus separation aren't cheap. In some cases there is technology that can recover ever drop of oil in a reservoir. But typically the cost to do so exceeds the value of the recovered oil.

It seems to me that Cantarell has fallen into insignificance. It produces just 10% of Mexico oil. Whatever happens there won't affect total production that much (anymore). The next field to peak is KMZ. Any technical info about it?

Syn - If I recall correctly it's shallow heavy oil that's scattered in literally hundreds of small reservoirs. I think several years ago Schumberger got the contract to develop the play but walked away when they coudn't do it economicly. Maybe with current high prices it could work better.

Rockman, I think you're thinking of Chicontepec, which is an onshore field with a lot of little pockets of oil in a tight sand. It has a huge amount of oil in place, but in essence it's a tight oil play like the Bakken Formation of North Dakota - and that's not something that Pemex, Mexico's oil monopoly, has shown much ability to deal with.

KMZ is a complex of offshore fields, and like Cantarell it's on nitrogen injection to raise production rates. However, the oil is much heavier than Cantarell, and the reserves are much smaller. From what I hear, the experts think it will peak at something less than 1 million bpd in 2013, and then start to decline in 2014. Of course the official statements say something different, but we know how accurate the official predictions are in Mexico from what they predicted for Cantarell.

Thanks Rocky. That's what I get for depending on my every declining memory.

In fact I've read that this plant produces more N2 than all the other plants in the world combined.

Back in the early part of last decade the claim I saw was 60% of all North American production of N2 was for Cantrell.

Do you really need to ask that question?

Yes. I have a feeling Mexico's drug war is going to look like a pep rally when they start running out of oil money to fund the government.

The dominate group in society is the group with the most money. They in turn are the government. It has been oil money in Mexico now it is import export trade money. The transitions where one group must leave and the new group enters involve some friction.

People on the West Coast of both the United States and Canada should be prepared for continued high gasoline prices until April. After that, who knows?

BP's Cherry Point refinery to stay shut into April

BP Plc's idled 225,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery at Cherry Point, Washington, will remain shut into April for repairs from a Feb 17 fire and planned maintenance work originally due later in the year, the firm said on Wednesday.

Combining the work will reduce the amount of time the refinery will be shut, the company said in a message to residents near the refinery.

The refinery is the third largest on the U.S. West Coast and the largest in Washington state. The loss of production from the idled refinery has helped send retail gasoline prices above $4.00 a gallon along the West Coast, which is isolated from Gulf Coast and Midwest refining centers due to a lack of pipelines to the Pacific.

Trade sources said last week the refinery was expected to be shut for repairs at least six weeks from the date of the fire.

However, people on the East Coast will not do much better for reasons discussed elsewhere. People in the middle of the continent will probably be OK for the time being, but that will probably change over the long term, too.

Don't buy a car with more than four cylinders, and if you are using heating oil, get off it ASAP. You have been warned. If you don't heed this and previous warnings there is not much I can do for you when what happens, happens.

Environment Northeast, a non-profit group based in Rockport, Maine recently released a report on residential heating costs in that state, identifying average household consumption and expenditures for various fuel types based on a home's relative efficiency. Not surprisingly, we're told that investments in energy efficiency can save Mainers anywhere from three to nine dollars for each dollar spent. And, of course, these investments help support Maine's economy with the bulk of these dollars remaining within the state.

See: http://www.env-ne.org/public/resources/pdf/ENE_Maine_Heating_Facts.pdf (PDF format)

For the period October 1st through February 29th inclusive, our heating costs total $386.91 (forty-four year old, 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod).

At current prices, the equivalent expenditure would buy me just under 350 litres or 92 US gallons of fuel oil [MJ Ervin & Associates weekly price survey, Halifax, February 28th]. And with most of the cold weather hopefully behind us, we should start to see our seasonal COP move progressively higher.


"Facing the Facts on Fossil Fuel (Part 1)"
"The End of the Petroleum Era (Part 2)"
"Oil Set for Best Monthly Advance Since October on Recovery Signs, Iran"
"OPEC oil output rises in February-Reuters survey

Anyone detect a dichotomy?

The more fossil fuels we use the closer to the Ecocide of civilization we come.

Yet we glory in our ability to produce more oil, especially more oil from our "special" nation, to our own "special" demise.

Time for the discipline of psychology to step in.

Fears for safety at Fukushima one year on

To some of the men who earn as little as $100 a day to work inside Japan's Fukushima Daiichi, the plant at the centre of a year-old nuclear disaster is far from safe -- despite the official line.

"I can clearly say it's not safe at all," said one worker in his 50s, a subcontractor who has been working on the plant's cooling system since September. The man did not want to be identified for fear of losing the 8,000 yen ($100) daily paycheck he receives. "There are many spots where radiation levels are extremely high," he told AFP.

... Chie Hosoda, a spokeswoman for the utility, admits conditions at the plant were unacceptable in the past, with the radiation exposure of some workers left unmeasured because of a shortage of dosimeters.

The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom

To hear him tell it, the cleaner-than-coal fuel he produces will revive our faltering economy, free us from the tyranny of foreign oil and save the planet from global warming. "I have a fossil fuel that makes other fossil fuels obsolete," he boasts. By Aubrey McClendon's estimate, the industry has drilled more than 1.2 million wells nationwide, yet so far there have been only a few confirmed cases where things have gone wrong – despite dire warnings from scientists and environmentalists that fracking pollutes rivers and streams, contaminates drinking water and turns large swaths of farmland into industrial moonscapes. "Where is the mushroom cloud?" McClendon asks. "Where are the dogs with one leg? Where are the people that have been maimed or hurt?"

It's a good riff, with some truth to it. But what McClendon leaves out is the real nature of the business he's in. Fracking, it turns out, is about producing cheap energy the same way the mortgage crisis was about helping realize the dreams of middle-class homeowners. For Chesapeake, the primary profit in fracking comes not from selling the gas itself, but from buying and flipping the land that contains the gas.

You heard it here first folks...

Estimates Clash for How Much Natural Gas in the United States

Natural gas is now flowing so fast into U.S. pipelines that the big question seems to be what to do with it all: ...

But just how much natural gas does the United States have?

A close look at the assessments shows that even the experts disagree. Most dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the government's own analytical team, last month slashed in half its estimate for a key and large subset of reserves: the amount of gas in shale rock formations across the country.

House OKs methane as renewable energy

Capturing methane gas from coal mines would qualify as a renewable energy source under a bill that gained preliminary approval Monday in the Colorado House.

House Democrats, while supportive of the general idea of capturing methane gas, objected to labeling it a renewable energy source because it can be depleted. “You might renew that energy, methane gas, in about 65 million years, because that’s how long it takes to create this gas off the coal beds, off the dinosaurs.”

Methane from a coal mine doesn't sound renewable to me but methane from pigs, well that's renewable, just ask Tina Turner and Master Blaster.

Looked to me like all those pigs were fed quite well from scraps. So if the humans up top had that amount of table scraps to feed the pigs, maybe the apocalypse won't be that bad after all? Maybe a scene ended up on the cutting room floor of the lush green tropical valley right next to the desert city.

Just an attempt to create an endrun around renewable energy mandates.

Yeah, Brent jumped another 2.5% (+). Damn speculators ;-/

Next they'll be blaming the Detonators..

Does anyone know how significant this pipeline is?

A little bird told me...

"Al-Awamiyah is right by the Ras Tanura facilities, which is one of Saudi's major export/refining terminals."

Tipping point?


I dunno if it's for real. Saudi's denying it. The pictures and video could have been taken anywhere, any time. It's now being referred to in the MSM as a "false report."

Trying to figure that out... Apparently 2 mmbpd flow through the town as it is on the way to Ras Tanura


The pipeline could be part of this


I saw the price of oil going up and wondered what was causing it.

Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority, mostly residing in the oil rich east, has been protesting for years against State sponsored discrimination. They are treated as second class citizens, denied public sector jobs, and vital development for their oil rich areas. Saudi Arabia's powerful Wahhabi religious establishment considers Shiites heretics, and constantly incites against them.

I experienced this first hand when I was there. When I was there I was told that the Shia are a majority in the Eastern Province but I have never seen any statistics to support that. But the Sunni hold a clear majority in the country. The Royal Family is of course Sunni. The Shia have a lot of jobs in Aramco but they are the lowest most menial jobs. They are never promoted to management. Everything is controlled by Wasta and no Shia has any wasta.

Of course there are degrees of wasta. The more you have the faster you rise to higher management in Aramco. If you have enough wasta you never have to pay a traffic ticket. But if you have only a little wasta you still get off easy. But if you have no wasta you go to jail for the smallest offense. That's just the way it is.

Ron P.

And now the Saudis are denying anything happened....

Yes, but who do you believe. Compelling photos here. Photoshop?

UPDATE: Saudi Officials Deny Reports Of Pipeline Explosion After Crude Oil Hits $110, But We Have Photos That Could Tell A Different Story
Simone Foxman | 5 hours ago | 6,913 | 21

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/crude-oil-is-going-nuts-after-saudi-oil-p...


I guess tomorrow will sort it out.

Dunno but it don't look like a lot of fire for a major pipeline.


The photos aren't that convincing to me. The source is apparently Twitter. Even if they aren't 'shopped, they could have been taken anywhere, any time.

If you look at the photos, it's obviously an urban area. There are streetlights. So why no cops, firefighters, army?

No confirmation stories today, I doubt anyone could hide that size of a flow interruption.

Still, it was both amazing, and a wakeup that supplies are so nebulous.

The reaction highlighted “the reduced ability of the market to absorb supply shocks or mere headlines of supply shocks, given the limited spare capacity and inventory buffers,” Amrita Sen, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London said in a note to investors today. ...

The oil-export terminal in Ras Tanura was operating normally today, according to Gulf Agency Co., a port agent.

“There is absolutely no disruption whatsoever to oil supply, ports, refineries, anything,” Dan Hjalmarsson, a vice president responsible for the Middle East region at GAC. He spoke from Dubai after checking with the general manager in Saudi Arabia. “It’s business as usual.”

A fire occurred in an industrial area in the town of Safwa in the Shiite-dominated Qatif area near Ras Tanura, a person with knowledge of the situation said late yesterday. The blaze didn’t damage the refinery or any pipeline in the area, said two people with knowledge of the situation who declined to be identified.


When I was there I was told that the Shia are a majority in the Eastern Province but I have never seen any statistics to support that

A Shia majority in Eastern province sounds logical, Iran is right across the strait, it's quite likely that people moved back and forth easily. These national boundaries are fairly new.

The Future of Energy

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven made a wide-ranging presentation on "The Future of Energy" at an international seminar in Mexico City, invited by Energy Secretary Jordy Herrera. Her remarks covered uncertainty in oil markets and continued growth in demand driven by the transport sector. She also looked at prospects for natural gas, especially the role of unconventional resources. Highlighting the importance of energy efficiency, Ms Van der Hoeven called it essential for achieving both energy security and climate change goals. She also discussed the Mexico in the global energy context.

Presentation: Global Energy Trends: Focus on Oil & Gas

 In a world full of uncertainty, one thing is sure: rising incomes & population will push energy needs higher
Rising transport demand and upstream costs reconfirm the end of cheap oil
 New options are opening up for natural gas, but ‘golden standards’ will be needed if it is to enter a ‘golden age’
 Energy efficiency is the first step toward enhancing energy security & climate change mitigation
Despite steps in the right direction, the door to 2C is closing

Present ocean acidification rates are unprecedented: research

The world's oceans may be turning acidic faster today from human carbon emissions than they did during four major extinctions in the last 300 million years, when natural pulses of carbon sent global temperatures soaring, says a new study in Science. The study is the first of its kind to survey the geologic record for evidence of ocean acidification over this vast time period.

... In a review of hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, a team of researchers from five countries found evidence for only one period in the last 300 million years when the oceans changed even remotely as fast as today: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, some 56 million years ago. In the early 1990s, scientists extracting sediments from the seafloor off Antarctica found a layer of mud from this period wedged between thick deposits of white plankton fossils. In a span of about 5,000 years, they estimated, a mysterious surge of carbon doubled atmospheric concentrations, pushed average global temperatures up by about 6 degrees C, and dramatically changed the ecological landscape.

The result: carbonate plankton shells littering the seafloor dissolved, leaving the brown layer of mud. As many as half of all species of benthic foraminifers, a group of single-celled organisms that live at the ocean bottom, went extinct, suggesting that organisms higher in the food chain may have also disappeared, said study co-author Ellen Thomas ... "It's really unusual that you lose more than 5 to 10 percent of species over less than 20,000 years,"

Yield from organically grown crops globally 20% lower than in conventional farming

Globally speaking, the yield from crops from organic farming is on average twenty percent lower than from crops grown according to conventional farming methods.

All the relevant literature databases compiled over the past 25 years threw up more than a thousand scientific publications. After thorough screening for data quality, 362 crop yield comparisons in organic and conventional farming remained. The data covered 68 different crops and came from 43 different countries. This comprehensive research shows that when compared with conventional farming, current crop yield from organic farming, for which the criteria include not using artificial fertilisers or synthetic crop protection agents, are on average 20 percent lower. In countries where conventional agriculture is well-developed, such as the Netherlands and Denmark, this figure is higher, i.e. 26 percent.

Yes. This is why we developed those methods. And why we will never refrain from them. World pop is growing, so it is not the time to shift towards an agricultural procedure that deliver less.

This is why the poor will eat the output from BAU farming. The rich will eat organic and live longer. Same with housing stock, clothes, cars, schools, etc.

That's the way I see it too. The concept of one system for all is incorrect. The nutrient poor output from industrial agriculture will be fed to the 80% and the other 20% will benefit from healthier more sustainable agriculture.

I can't help but think that the constant refrain that we have to go with industrial agriculture and scientifically modified slop to feed the billions, is really just an inculcated echo of the elites world view. There will be people who have the wherewithal and choice to eschew the unsustainable and inferior output from industrial agriculture and adopt different systems for themselves.

There seems to be a strange belief that we're all in this together somehow and must all adopt the same system, which really isn't the case. There are those that are dependant upon BAU without choice and those that are independent from it and have a greater leeway in how they live (and eat).

This is where it all falls down of course. Only way and the eventual way we continue forward as a species is there to be less of us, a lot less. Doomer or Utopian dreamer, is there anyone that believes we can sustain 7+ Billion, for another 100 years. Guess maybe if we could get fusion to work, we will have to dramatically increase the amount of arable land and that will require massive amounts of energy.

You are right, it all depend on how much energy we have to work with. If cold fusion or hot fusion works then yes we can sustain 7 billion for 100 years. With oil, coal, wood, algae, corn no we can not support 7 billion for 100 years with anything like the current distribution of living standards. With oil, coal, algae, corn we can support 7 billion for 100 years at a bottom half India standard.

Yield from organically grown crops globally 20% lower than in conventional farming

So throwing less money and products at something gets you a smaller result. Well, there's something i'd never have guessed ;)

It's all very well talkng about feeding people so they can continue breeding. However when the population then rises to the limits of "conventional farming". What will they do next? They will have even more people to deal with, and massively degraded farming due to all the abuse needed to keep conventional farming going.

New from Chatham House: A Global Redesign? Shaping the Circular Economy

•A fundamentally new model of industrial organization is needed to de-link rising prosperity from resource consumption growth – one that goes beyond incremental efficiency gains to deliver transformative change.

•A 'circular economy' (CE) is an approach that would transform the function of resources in the economy. Waste from factories would become a valuable input to another process – and products could be repaired, reused or upgraded instead of thrown away.

•In a world of high and volatile resource prices, a CE offers huge business opportunities. Pioneering companies are leading the way on a CE, but to drive broader change it is critical to collect and share data, spread best practice, invest in innovation and encourage business-to-business collaboration.

•Policy-makers should focus on accelerating transition to a CE in a timescale consistent with the response to climate change, water scarcity and other global challenges. Smart regulation can reward private-sector leadership and align incentives along the supply chain – for example, to deliver a step-change in remanufacturing rates.

•Resource consumption targets that reflect environmental constraints should be considered at a global level. Coordination of national policies would help create a level playing field across major markets, easing competitiveness concerns and reducing the costs of implementation

Briefing Paper: A Global Redesign? Shaping the Circular Economy

related No-waste circular economy is good business – ask China

Recycle, reuse, all you need is energy.

Let's take a soda bottle as an example. Make it using material resources and energy. Fill it. Ship it to store using energy. Buy it. Take it home using energy. Drink it. Take it back to store using energy. Take it back to processing plant using energy. Clean it using energy. Refill it. After several cycles when bottle becomes chipped enough remelt using energy. Make new bottle and repeat.

But you don't use all the energy from mining the resource. OTOH how does the energy of recycling compare with that of mining the materials? Again, if resources are being depleted at what point does a rubbish dump become viable as an open cast mine?


at what point does a rubbish dump become viable as an open cast mine?

80 to 100 years, if my memory from working with a PE 20+ years ago is correct.

Documents/plans/laws on the books were said to support this.

Entropy is the problem though isn't it? It's harder to put humpty dumpty back together again. The resource becomes diffused and dispersed after mining and reuniting it into viable quantities again, requires significant energy expenditure. In places like Nigeria the energy comes in human form with thousands of people scouring the rubbish tips for recyclable materials.

As I understand it, to overcome entropy complexity has to increase. As complexity increases more energy is required. On a larger scale our civilisation is creating a lot of entropy and therefore our civilisation becomes evermore complex, requiring evermore resources and energy, which increases entropy, etc.

Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil etc, human machines. However there comes a point where it may be more efficient to dig up a 50 or 100 year old dump as if it were an open cast mine. There is a wealth of buried raw material especially in the older dumps when just about anything was dumped. It may be inefficient now but where will the line be in 100, 200 years?


So Chatham House has rediscovered the principles of Permaculture. Just dress them up a bit, add a tier of middlemen to siphon off the benefits and away you go, new greener capitalism.

9 billion humans will represent a considerable pool of energy in an energy deficient world, lets create a new system that uses it and anything we can eke out from nature to keep BAU going. At least for the 1%.

One of the most 'bass ackward' Briefing Papers from Chatham House in a long while ...

The Arab Uprisings and the International Oil Markets

Does power cloud one's ability to make good decisions?

Grave consequences can result from bad decisions made by people in leadership positions. Case in point: the 2009 Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster. British Petroleum (BP) executives had downplayed potential risks associated with their oil well, claiming that it was virtually impossible that a major accident would ever occur. That same oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and causing a massive oil spill that's costing BP an estimated $100 billion.

... "Power is an elixir, a self-esteem enhancing drug that surges through the brain telling you how great your ideas are," said Galinsky of the Kellogg School. "This leaves the powerful vulnerable to making overconfident decisions that lead them to dead-end alleys."

S - Finally an area where I am a word class expert: working for managers who have made really poor decisions. LOL. I don't know if my experiences are typical or just my bad luck. First, I wouldn't assign most of the problems to "power" other than being in a controlling position allowed them to make bad moves. The vast majority of the time greed was THE motivation. Greed combined with combination of ignorance and lack of empathy for field personnel. I could give you a hundred real life examples but won't bother. It boils down to this attitude: "It's neither my money nor my body on the line so just do what I told you to do." And on occasion I've been told that in exactly those words.

Long ago I got the reputation for not being willing to play those games. Once I got run off in the middle of a board of directors meetings. And once I got run off after a meeting when the board told my boss to get rid of me. And as odd as it may sound the same guy hired for my current position for the same reason the board told him to fire me. And my reputation isn't so much from my being all that that honest or empathetic for my field hands and the environment: I just don't like stupid/greedy people telling me to do stupid/greedy things. A combination of ego and stubbornness I suppose. LOL. But I've told the sad story before that just after starting in the oil patch having to help the driller remove the crushed body of a young hand off the drill floor. And then leaving his hysterical twin brother (who also worked with the casing crew) alone at the funeral home so we could go back to the rig and finish the well. Obviously that type of crap stays with you the rest of your life.

One more anecdote: about 8 years ago caught a gig on a drillship in the GOM. I'll skip the tech details. But when some of the hands came off tower they slept in the lifeboats. That was how potentially dangerous the situation was. And the well was drilled by one of the largest US independent operators. It was either a senior VP or even the prez that had to authorize the situation. And IMHO was done because the target was huge. And what did they gain by risking 146 souls on board? Nothing...it was a dry hole.

I have worked with just a very few super-egos driven to do bad things just because they could. I can almost allow more understanding for them: they were just deeply flawed individuals. The rest were just greedy bastards that only cared about the money. Don't get me wrong...I care about the money too. But there's a limit to everything.

Now that was a good rant. Thoroughly enjoyed that view into the too greedy to care mindset in the oil patch. I get griped on the don't care bit too. Guy across the street was trying get a rental moving truck up his driveway by sharply turning the front end through our hedges. I talked to him about it and he said he didn't care because that was their last day - they were moving. Huh?

Peak Oil denier and Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart is dead at 43

Widely read conservative Internet publisher Andrew Breitbart, whose flare for battle with politicians and the mainstream media earned him a reputation as one of the nation's most influential commentators, died Thursday.

The websites he founded ran a statement Thursday morning announcing that Breitbart, 43, died "unexpectedly from natural causes" in Los Angeles shortly after midnight. His attorney and editor-in-chief of those sites confirmed his death to Fox News.

This was the guy who 'outed' Congressman Anthony Weiner a while back and opposed all things progressive. I would go on, but "if you can't say something nice...."

Ghung - "Widely read conservative"? And I consider myself a conservative and never heard of him let alone read any of his stuff. Between guys like him and Newt maybe I need to figure out a different handle than conservative. I ain't a liberal (or a Yankee either) so I don't know what to call myself. Sometimes I do feel like that man with no country...other than Texas. LOL. Maybe I'll just stick with TBC and leave it at that. Texan By Choice...what the diehard natives call us.

Rockman, you're as much a conservative as I am a liberal. Maybe nominally, but whenever we get into details we seem to agree.

I posted earlier that Andrew's people made a statement that "he stood for what is right," and that I thought, "he stood to the right of what is."

I did read his blog from time to time (am a gluton for punishment, I guess), just as I sometimes read Daily Kos, Drudge and HuffPo. Maybe that is why I have a universal disdain for politics and politicians.


But isn't labelling oneself with a pre-packaged political moniker simply a case of abrogating one's thinking to others. Wearing the badge, adopting the ideals and policies of a party, a person is simply subjugating their own beliefs and thoughts to that of preordained doctrine thought up by someone else for purposes that have little to do with the individual. Basically subjecting oneself to mind control.

Most people's natural moral inclinations cover the full political spectrum from Left to Right and more. All depending upon context of course.

Free men have no allegiances, otherwise they'd be feudal vassals. Like you I have a universal disdain for politics and the middlemen politicians who require our allegiance to legitimise their corruption and wrong doing.

We I moved from the north east my new neighbor expalined it to me this way. A Yankee comes and visits, a Damn Yankee comes and stays. :)

We've got "halfbacks"; move from up north to Florida for a while then end up in North Carolina, Virginia, etc. They don't know if they're comin' or goin' ;-)

Rockman, I have never read Andrew Breitbart's blog either. I never read right wing nut case blogs. But if you have watched the news for the last six months, it would be impossible not to have heard of him. He has been on the nightly news on every network at least a dozen times during that time. And as of late his antics have made all the talk shows, not him in person but his antics have been reported everywhere.

And you have never heard of him? I can only assume you never watch the network news or talk shows on CNN, Fox News or MSNBC. But that's okay, lots of people never watch the national news or those talk shows that I mentioned. My wife for instance. She watches instead Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and the like. I guess it's all in your culture. ;-)

Ron P.

Ron - You got me pegged. I gave up on TV news long ago. I can handle a predjudiced view but just too much fluff these days IMHO. I use to like John Stossel but then he began to annoy me. Now I tend to just stick with NPR while commuting. And then mostly for the international coverage.

Wow! I thought I felt a ripple in the "Force".
Now, if Rush spontaneously combusts I'll have to reconsider my position on the whole god thing, like maybe there is one.

I'll have to reconsider my position on the whole god thing, like maybe there is one.

The right-types are claiming there was gonna be some kind of release of video tape that was alleged to be embarrassing for Obama.

If there is a tape and it was going to be released, does this god work to keep a tape quiet?

I think suppostitions like that are quite revealing as to the mindset of the people expressing them.

I remember back in the '90's it was the assassination conspiracy theories around Clinton that first woke me up to being more alert about what was being said by the people I identified with and ultimately drove me to full independence from all parties.

Ties to Putin Generate Fabulous Wealth for a Select Few

Arkady R. Rotenberg, ... Yuri V. Kovalchuk, ... Gennady N. Timchenko, ...

What these men share, besides staggering wealth and roots in St. Petersburg, is a connection to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who is poised to win a new six-year term as president in elections on Sunday. The three billionaires are members of a close circle of friends, relatives, associates, colleagues from the security services and longtime advisers who have grown fabulously wealthy during Mr. Putin’s 12 years as Russia’s paramount leader.

Critics say these relationships are evidence of deeply entrenched corruption, which they view as essentially government-sanctioned theft invariably connected to Russia’s abundant natural resources: gas, oil, minerals.

The End of the Petroleum Era (Part 2)

"For some applications – air transportation and the manufacture of plastics and other synthetic materials being among the most important – there is currently no substitute for petroleum."

Not true:

Methanol can be transformed into everything now made from oil and gas, says Nobel Laureate George A. Olah, a professor of chemistry and director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute at the University of Southern California. What's more, he adds, it's "a prime way to store, transport, and utilize energy."

(A Methanol Way Out, quoting Chemical & Engineering News).

I have been bewildered by the lack of understanding of the potential for a methanol economy, because it is part and parcel of everyday life already. Some companies make plastics and a thousand other everyday products from methanol.

"M85" is an 85% methanol fuel that is used in hybrids, and diesel engines can run modified methanol.

I have been bewildered by the lack of understanding of the potential for a methanol economy, because it is part and parcel of everyday life already.

And the transportation sector ? There is potential for methanol, for hydrogen, for NG, for methane, for oil from algae, for oil from Jatropha, for all of them together. Choices have to be made, and fast, before the economy collapses.
Let's start to make kerosene from methanol, but more than a few million barrels per year.


"And the transportation sector ?"

Both gasoline and diesel engines can run on 100% methanol with better results. See this.

However, less modification is necessary by using M85 for gasoline engines, and for diesel, methanol is readily transformed by dehydration into dimethyl ether, a diesel fuel substitute with a cetane number of 55. See this.