Drumbeat: March 7, 2012

America's changing energy choices

This week, the American Security Project released the 2012 edition of its annual White Paper, “America’s Energy Choices”. The paper details a range of options for America’s energy future, ranging from coal to natural gas and solar to tidal power. It shows how each contributes to America’s energy make-up and how our business and political leaders should weigh the competing priorities of energy security, economic stability, and environmental sustainability when making decisions.

In preparing the update for this year’s report, it is clear that fundamental changes are underway in America’s energy supply and demand structure. While these changes will take decades to play out, the trends show that the U.S. is moving away from its consumer-oriented energy structure towards an economy that shows an interest in energy production, and even exports.

The Peak Oil Crisis: East Coast Refineries Redux

It has been six weeks since we last discussed the problems that could be in store for the U.S.'s East Coast due to closing of refineries in the Philadelphia area.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a second, more detailed report on what could happen to the availability of oil and prices in the event the third and largest of the three Philadelphia refineries in question be forced to close down this coming July. In contrast with most DoE reports, this one contains a clear, unambiguous warning that there likely will be serious troubles later this year and on into 2013 in the form of local shortages and higher prices for gasoline and other oil products.

Oil Rises in New York on Forecast of U.S. Fuel Supply Drop, Jobs Increase

Oil climbed from the lowest price in more than two weeks in New York on forecasts that gasoline supplies are falling and employment increasing in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of crude.

Futures gained as much as 0.9 percent before government data today that may show motor-fuel inventories slipped by 1.6 million barrels last week. Stockpiles decreased 2.25 million barrels, the most since November, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. U.S. employers probably added 210,000 jobs in February after gaining 243,000 in January, according to a Bloomberg survey before a March 9 report.

LNG Glut Risk Has Qatar Sealing 20-Year Asia Supply Deals: Energy Markets

Qatar is seeking contracts to sell liquefied natural gas to Asia for as many as 20 years as the prospect of booming supplies from Australia, the U.S. and Africa raises the likelihood of a slide in prices.

Finally! Prices at the pump ease after 27-day streak

For the first time in nearly a month, you may notice prices at the pump a little bit easier on the wallet.

The nationwide average for gasoline prices eased Tuesday, marking the first decline after 27 straight days of increases, according to the motorist group AAA.

Gas Prices Spiked By Speculators, Congressmen Claim

Excessive speculation in the oil futures market may be costing you 15 percent or more at the gas pump and playing a "significant" role in rising gasoline prices, according to a joint letter from 68 members of Congress that ABC News has obtained.

The joint letter, which cites a recently updated report by the St. Louis Federal Reserve titled "Speculation in the Oil Market," urges immediate action by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to install caps on the biggest traders on Wall Street, preventing them from controlling unusually large positions in the oil futures trading market.

It's Not Obama's Fault That Crude Oil Prices Have Increased

Is President Obama responsible for spiraling price of gasoline? Republicans say yes, but the facts say no.

Why have gasoline prices increased since the start of the year? The simplest explanation is that the price of crude oil has increased. Specifically, the spot price for Brent (North Sea) crude has increased $16 a barrel since January. Given that there are 42 gallons to a barrel, that works out to a 38 cent increase in the price of a gallon of oil. Spot prices for gasoline trade in New York have increased about 41 cents per gallon over the same time frame. So there you go.

Obama Can Control Some Factors That Affect Oil Prices: Domestic energy production has increased despite president, not because of him

There are countless factors that affect oil prices, and some of them fall outside the president's immediate control, but to argue that an American president has zero ability to impact domestic gasoline prices is simply false. As most people know, the price of gasoline is largely determined by the price of oil. The recent increase in oil prices, and the subsequent increase in gasoline prices, is largely due to a potential disruption in the supply of Iranian oil--there has been no actual decline in international oil production. Conversely, allowing America's oil and natural gas producers to explore our vast oil reserves would absolutely quell concerns about future oil production, increase international spare capacity, and bring down the price of gasoline.

America needs to reduce its dependence on oil

Dependence on finite resources such as oil will have a definitive end when these sources have been exhausted. Some argue that peak oil (the point at which half the oil has been used) has already been passed, and many more suggest that at the current increasing rate of consumption it will be reached soon.

The transition to a non-oil based economy will be a long and arduous one, and needs to begin immediately. Some steps have been taken in the right direction, but there are others that deceive the public into thinking they will aid pockets at the pump. Two great examples of this are the Obama administration's requirement for increased fuel efficiency and the proposition to build the Keystone pipeline connecting Canadian oil fields to refineries in Texas.

Petrol price debate fuels the need for a different outlook

"Energy markets can be thought of as suffering from appendicitis due to fossil fuel subsidies," says Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency. "They need to be removed for a healthy energy economy."

In the UAE, however, the FNC has been discussing increasing subsidies.

Goldman Takes Lead in M&A List Spurred by Natural-Resource Deals

Glencore International Plc’s $37 billion announced takeover of coal exporter Xstrata Plc in February -- the biggest mining deal ever -- signals that natural-resource tie-ups may dominate mergers and acquisitions again this year after doing so in 2011.

Enbridge Restarted Line 14 Pipeline Segment Tuesday -Reuters

Enbridge Inc. (ENB) on Tuesday restarted the Line 14 segment of a pipeline which supplies Canadian crude oil to the U.S. Midwest, and expects to restart the remaining portion on Thursday, Reuters reported Tuesday on its website.

Obama Plays Down Iran War Talk in Bid to Avert Israel Strike

President Barack Obama said there is a “window of opportunity” for diplomacy and sanctions to compel Iran to give up any effort to develop nuclear weapons, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. lawmakers those efforts won’t work.

Their divergent comments -- Obama at a news conference yesterday and Netanyahu on Capitol Hill -- highlighted the differences that persist between the two leaders over the need for military action against Iran a day after they presented a unified front at the White House.

France says Iran 'two-faced', sceptical talks can succeed

(Reuters) - France voiced scepticism on Wednesday that planned fresh talks between six world powers and Iran would succeed since Tehran still did not seem sincerely willing to negotiate on the future of its controversial nuclear programme.

The Battle for Canada’s Oil Sands

There is an intense battle going on for Canada’s oil. The world’s third-largest oil reserves are up for grabs. But will there really be any winners, or is this another example of a meat grinder whose cost will be measured in both the lives of people and the environment that is destroyed?

One hundred and seventy billion: That is the number of economically recoverable barrels of oil the Canadian oil sands are estimated to hold. It is a big prize. At $100 per barrel, it is a $17.3 trillion prize, enough to pay the official U.S. federal debt with trillions to spare. In a world of global population growth and “peak oil” constraints, it is an economy-changing, potentially country-changing prize that could skyrocket in value even higher in the years ahead.

Coal, Nuclear And Natural Gas: What Will Keep The Lights On?

The fuel of the future is very different depending on where in the world you live.

The complex dynamics between three major global power generation fuels – coal, nuclear and natural gas, remain in flux. A recent event hosted by the Manhattan Institute in New York presented the options for a world balancing development with fears about resource scarcity, volatile markets and difficult-to-limit emissions growth from traditional and well-understood incumbent generation fuels.

BP awards former CEO Hayward $1.1 million bonus

LONDON -- Former BP chief executive Tony Hayward received a bonus from the UK oil major last month worth about £720,000 ($1.1 million) in shares, despite his July 2010 resignation following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Japan disaster dims hopes for US nuclear rebirth

Long before the accident at Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. nuclear power industry faced major headwinds, led by the rising cost of generating kilowatts by smashing atoms. The tsunami and subsequent meltdowns at the Japanese plant made matters worse.

California Nuclear Backlash Mounts After Japan Meltdown

Two nuclear power plants perched near earthquake faults in California could struggle to get relicensed after a cascade of natural and nuclear disasters across the Pacific Ocean in Japan galvanized opposition groups.

Our reactors still vulnerable, a year after Fukushima

(CNN) -- A year after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is at a crossroads. Many of the agency's proposals to ensure such a calamity doesn't happen here are good in principle, but their effectiveness will depend on how well they are executed and how quickly.

An Ad-Hoc Solution for Extra Nuclear Safety

As the first anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident approaches, the good news is that the American nuclear industry is moving ahead promptly, without waiting for bureaucratic approvals, on stocking up on equipment like pumps, hoses and generators that could be useful in a variety of emergencies.

At least, that’s how the industry put it at a news event on Tuesday morning. A few hours later, a group that is highly critical of nuclear power said the problem was that the industry was stockpiling the equipment without leaving time for regulators or the public to weigh in on safety issues.

Japan’s Nuclear Mobsters Escape Tsunami Pain

A year after an earthquake in Japan (JGDPAGDP) touched off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, here’s the question on my mind: Who’s going to jail?

Why buy that dress, movie, car or bike when you can rent?

All this sharing seems to defy another deep-seated American value: ownership. We were once a country of garage sales and oversize closets. But collaborative consumption mirrors a cultural change, a shift cemented in the past decade by tech whizzes in dorm rooms. The rise of the sharing economy is deeply intertwined with our over-sharing society. We’re revising the privacy settings of our real lives, too.

...“It’s partly generational: The millennials are likely to be the earliest adopters of these companies,” Case said. “But there are also economic drivers and a concern for the environment that have created this sort of perfect storm that resulted in . . . these businesses developing so quickly.”

More natural gas vehicles hitting the market this year, but widespread adoption still far away

DETROIT - More natural gas-powered vehicles will hit the market soon, as rising gasoline prices, booming natural gas production and proposed tax credits make them a more attractive option. But they're a long way from being a common sight in U.S. driveways.

GE, Chesapeake to Develop Natural-Gas Car-Fueling Service in U.S.

General Electric Co. (GE) and Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), the second-biggest U.S. natural-gas producer, will collaborate on products and services to fuel cars and trucks with domestically-produced natural gas.

The companies intend to have a multi-year collaboration that will improve access to compressed natural gas, which is most commonly used in taxicabs, transit buses and cars and liquefied natural gas, which is commonly used for heavy-duty industrial purposes, according to a statement today.

Chevy Volt named European Car of the Year

It’s been a tough year for the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ once-celebrated plug-in hybrid. But perhaps it’s about to see its fortunes turn as a jury of Continental motoring journalists declare Volt and its Opel Ampera sibling the European Car of the year.

High price soured Chevy Volt sales

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Despite winning a trophy case worth of awards -- including Motor Trend Car of the Year and North American Car of the Year -- the Chevrolet Volt plug-in car has failed to meet GM's sales expectations.

The problem is simple: The car's price is simply too high for most customers to swallow, according to analysts.

Tennessee Professor Tries to Drive Across US on 10 Gallons of Gas

Cliff Ricketts is on a mission. He is trying to drive across the country, from Savannah, Ga., to Long Beach, Calif., on less than 10 gallons of gasoline.

"This is a passion of mine," he said by cellphone. Ricketts, 63, a professor of agricultural education at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., says he's been concerned about American dependence on imported oil since 1979, when Iranian militants seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and the price of gasoline in the ensuing international crisis tripled, to $1.50 per gallon.

Fortum to invest 20 mln euros in bio-oil plant

(Reuters) - Finnish utility Fortum Oyj will invest 20 million euros ($26.2 mln) in the construction of a bio-oil production plant in southeast Finland amid growing demand for renewable fuels.

New York Seeks Waste-to-Energy Proposals

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Tuesday that the city was looking for a pilot “state of the art facility” that could handle a maximum of 450 tons of trash per day — out of a total of 10,000 tons currently in need of disposal — with plans to double that capacity if successful. The plant, which must be in New York City or no farther than 80 miles away, would be privately built and operated.

Ok, So Maybe It is Gridcrash that Makes the Lights Go Out

Quite a few years ago I wrote a piece arguing that the single most likely scenario for most of us having to deal with long term electrical shortages doesn't involve gridcrash scenarios, but the growth of poverty and utility shut offs. I suggested that people should be prepared to deal with electrical outages in large part simply because of the economic consequences of our situation. It isn't that I didn't believe anything could shut down the electric grid, I simply felt that realistically, the probabilities of more than short-term outages in the near term were pretty small.

In news that falls more in the astrophysicist's department than my own (hat tip to him for pointing this out to me), however, it turns out that at least one expert in Space Weather places the probability of a Carrington-style solar storm that could knock out transformers on a large scale at much, much higher than I'd ever considered - a one in eight chance by 2020. Ok, I was wrong - maybe you should be worried about gridcrash.

'The Long Emergency' long on alarmism, short on solution

Reading "Emergency" made me want to buy a gun, a bicycle and some gardening tools. A better book would have aimed for less alarmism and more activism. If you're going to freak me out, tell me what to do about it. A good editor may have pointed this out --- and sliced through Kunstler's leaden writing, which can get repetitive and technical.

So after a fitful night of sleep, imagining the end of modern life as we've come to know it, I chose to stop worrying. Science, as it has so many times before, will come through for us in the end. If it doesn't, there's little I can do about it, and I'm not about to start hoarding canned goods in my basement.

Doomsday Seed Vault's Birthday Brings 25,000 Gifts

This week, the Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway is scheduled to receive nearly 25,000 samples of seeds from around the world, including those of grains that grow on one of the world's highest mountain ranges and a plant whose stems redden an Ecuadorean drink on the "Day of the Dead."

Anthropocene: Why You Should Get Used to the Age of Man (and Woman)

Welcome to the Anthropocene. It’s a new geological epoch, one where the planet is shaped less by natural forces then by the combined activity, aspirations—and emissions—of more than 7 billion human beings.

Climate change should be considered as security threat says African Union

“Social tensions and the potential for violence could increase where the arrival of a climate-displaced population causes competition,” Tadesse told the audience. “As the African population continues to rise and the demand for resources continues to grow, there is significant potential for conflicts over natural resources.”

Emissions scheme helps poorer nations use clean energy

Rural households in developing countries will soon be able to swap kerosene lamps and diesel generators for clean renewable energy thanks to a financial incentive provided under the emissions reduction mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it was reported on Tuesday.

A North Carolina Lifeline Built on Shifting Sands

The Outer Banks are home to some of the nation’s most celebrated beach communities. The road that links them, also called N.C. 12, offers an extreme example of the difficulty of maintaining houses, condos, roads and other infrastructure in the face of a climate-driven rise in sea level.

By some estimates, at least 70 percent of the ocean coastline of the lower 48 states is threatened by erosion. But the outlook here is unusually gloomy. In 2009, a federal report on erosion in the Middle Atlantic states predicted that if the sea level rises two feet this century — an estimate that many experts call optimistic — “it is likely that some barrier islands in this region will cross a threshold” and begin to break up. The report, produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Geological Survey and other agencies, said the Outer Banks were particularly threatened.

Already, Highway 12 floods repeatedly and is often cut by storms. Maintaining it “is totally a lost cause,” said Stanley R. Riggs, a coastal scientist at East Carolina University who is an author of a new book, “The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast,” which describes in depressing detail the difficulties of keeping the road open. “It will bankrupt the state,” he said.

But people who live and work on the Outer Banks say abandoning the road would make life impossible.

Ok this could get very interesting. This morning's X5.4 flare generated a fairly large CME which is directed towards earth. region 1429 is growing rapidly and is classified beta-gamma-delta which means it is capable of generaing even more powerful flares at any time. Tomorrow's impact might be enough to cause grid problems in some areas. More info on projected impact later.

Maps of Active Solar Regions

11429 N17E23 beta-gamma-delta Dkc



The new WSA-Enlil Solar Wind Prediction is calling for an almost direct CME impact during the middle of tomorrow (March 8). The solar wind is expected to increase to over 800 km/s and Strong Geomagnetic Storming will be possible. This plasma cloud is the result of the X5.4 and X1.3 Solar Flare event very early this morning.
Click Click HERE to watch the latest model run.

An S3 "Strong" proton storm is now taking place.


Space Weather Message Code: ALTPX3
Serial Number: 25
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1417 UTC

ALERT: Proton Event 10MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu
Begin Time: 2012 Mar 07 1410 UTC
NOAA Scale: S3 - Strong
Potential Impacts: Radiation - Passengers and crew in high latitude, high altitude flights may experience increasing radiation exposures. Astronauts on EVA (extra-vehicular activity) are exposed to elevated radiation levels.
Spacecraft - Single-event upsets to satellite operations, noise in imaging systems, and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panels are likely.
Radio - Degraded or episodically blacked-out polar HF (high frequency) radio propagation.

Current planetary magnetic field K-index is 5.7. As usual the real-time 3 hour ahead K-index prediction has gone offline due to ACE satellite outages caused by the storm.


When I worked in the north we used HF radio for all communication due to the distances. Some summers, 'the signals' would be out for weeks at a time. Are these flares any different than what we were used to, and if so, how much more intense? Can they really disrupt our supply grid? Or is this just could? Thanks.


Well the big worry is for a repeat of the Carrington Event of 1859 which most certainly would cause widespread grid failures worldwide.

On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, most notably over the Caribbean; also noteworthy were those over the Rocky Mountains that were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning.[3] People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora's light.[4]

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases even shocking telegraph operators.[5] Telegraph pylons threw sparks and telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire.[6] Some telegraph systems appeared to continue to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies.[7]

A flare of that magnitude is expected once every 100 to 200 years and the last one was over 150 years ago. Also see Leanan's link above Ok, So Maybe It is Gridcrash that Makes the Lights Go Out

This is a strange solar cycle in that it is projected to be the least active cycle in terms of total sunspot count in 100 years. That doesn't mean that an individual event can't occur of exceptional magnitude though. It does seem this cycle is being watched very closely as we move towards a peak probably early next year.

I'm not expecting tomorrow's impact to be the end of the world though but it will be interesting to see how bad the magnetic storming gets. But if region 1429 generates say an X40 over the next few days or so we are probably in real trouble as it will be pointing almost directly at us.

In 1989 a magnetic storm knocked out power to millions in Canada.


March 13, 1989 - The Quebec Blackout Storm - Astronomers were busily tracking "Active Region 5395" on the Sun when suddenly it disgorged a massive cloud of superheated gas on March 10, 1989. Three days later, and seemingly unrelated to the solar paroxicism, people around the world saw a spectacular Northern Lights display. Most newspapers that reported this event considered the spectacular aurora to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle in recent memory. At 2:45 AM on March 13, electrical ground currents created by the magnetic storm found their way into the power grid of the Hydro-Quebec Power Authority. Giant capacitors tried to regulate these currents but failed within a few seconds as automatic protective systems took them off-line one by one. Suddenly, the entire 9,500 megawatt output from Hydro-Quebec's La Grande Hydroelectric Complex found itself without proper regulation. Power swings tripped the supply lines from the 2000 megawatt Churchill Falls generation complex, and 18 seconds later, the entire Quebec power grid collapsed. Six million people were affected as they woke to find no electricity to see them through a cold Quebec wintry night.

If the Carrington Event happened now, how many nuclear power plants would go Fukushima?

This has occurred to me as well. Most modern diesel backup generators have electronic control systems that would likely be as vulnerable as the grid. It could be a case of "This is one of the events we didn't anticipate", sort of like not planning for an earthquake followed by a 15 meter tsunami. Wouldn't it be ironic if only the older, less electronically-integrated units were able to survive such an event? It's not just the grid that's vulnerable. The transportation system, which delivers fuel and repairs to these plants, would likely be effected as well. Yikes!

Our home diesel generator has a nice electronic control system, though the governor is mechanical. Last year I built a parallel system with simple switches (fuel pump, glow plugs, starting circuit, oil pressure) anticipating the eventual failure of the circuit board (hard to find and expensive). Keep it simple, keep it running...

A Carrington event is unlikely to directly affect control electronics on any scale. Only circuits directly connected to the grid itself are likely to be damaged, so automated switching gear between the grid supply and the diesel generators are a possible source of weakness.

About 15 years ago I worked at a major bioinformatics establishment, which had a large bank of genetic samples in -70C freezers. The power supply was erratic, so diesel generators were designed to cut in after 5 seconds downtime.

One day there was a power cut of exactly 5 seconds. The diesels cut in simultaneously with the returning grid power. The switching gear burnt out and the entire establishment was without power for days.

Isn't the switch gear supposed to run single source to prevent that sort of thing from happening?

i.e. Big switch switches source from grid to generators once generators are up to speed, physically impossible to have both connected to anything at the same time.

Ralph, There had to be something wrong with this installation. Like R4 said, proper wiring of transfer contactors make it physically impossible to connect grid to Diesel.

In addition to the 5 second delay starting the diesels, there would be at least another 5 second delay to allow the genset to come up to speed. As well as delay to restore. Ours in the phone co was 30 minutes minimum run time. Then there was a 10 minute cool down time running with no load.

Bad design, full stop. Once the commit to diesel decision had been made the mains should have been disconnected until the diesel was running and the mains supply confirmed stable. Great way to kill gear is for the mains to cut, return then cut again. Down here I used the 5 min mark as decision time on UPS, cuts below that were normally one offs. Once that was reached shutdown of the computer was automatic as the power returning shortly after 5 mins could be erratic.


Recently I "connected the dots" between a failure on my 2008 car and the "improved" safety systems on the AP1000 nuclear power plant. Both have modern electronics to simplify wiring. Westinghouse brags that they have reduced the amount of wiring and cabling by 75%. They do this, I assume, by multiplexing control signals. That is running multiple signals and even power through a single cable. Very clever.

About one time out of four when I turn off the engine in my car the radio comes on. What is the equivalent fault mode in a 1000 MW reactor?

Was the software in my car written by that guy in Jurassic Park that got killed by the spitter? Does the guy writing the AP1000 software smoke a joint in the morning before going to work?

Was the software in my car written by that guy in Jurassic Park that got killed by the spitter? Does the guy writing the AP1000 software smoke a joint in the morning before going to work?

All the more reason why any power plant --nuclear or otherwise-- should not depend on complex, gee-whiz gadgetry or complex software to do the job of safely itself shutting down. I know most people here don't want to hear about it, but... MSR designs as I recall are designed to passively self-shutdown with no human intervention or active safety systems in the event of a loss of power. Oh, and they can "burn" nuclear waste generated by conventional LWRs, turning large amounnts of long-lived waste into small amounts of short-lived waste.

But... MSRs cannot be used to efficiently breed weapons-grade plutonium for our weapons programs, so were abandoned by our politicians 40+ years ago. One might hope that not everything we learned about reactor design back then is permanently lost to the ages, so there's a chance of us recovering this technology some day (assuming Fukushima hasn't already put the last nail in the fission reactor coffin).

But... MSRs cannot be used to efficiently breed weapons-grade plutonium for our weapons programs, so were abandoned by our politicians 40+ years ago

Assuming you are talking about the Thorium cycle MSRs then they breed weapons grade Uranium-233 instead. MSRs can also be designed to breed weapons grade plutonium.

I stand partly corrected (note "efficiently"). It *can* be used to breed U-233 (or PU-239 by neutron absorption), but U-233 creates sub-par atom bombs and is relatively expensive to produce:

"Uranium-233 was investigated for use in nuclear weapons and as a reactor fuel; however, it was never deployed in nuclear weapons or used commercially as a nuclear fuel"...
...While it is possible to use uranium-233 as the fission fuel of a nuclear weapon, this has been done only occasionally in experimental devices. The United States first tested U-233 along with plutonium as part of a bomb core in Operation Teapot in 1955. Although not an outright fizzle, this experimental plutonium/U-233 device based on the plutonium/U-235 Buster Easy design was a failure, yielding only 22 kt against a predicted yield of 33 kt."


22 Kilotons is a failure? Yeh, right.

If you follow the Wikipedia reference it says


The primary purpose was to evaluate the destructive effects of nuclear explosions for military purposes. For this reason, the DOD specified that a device must be used that had a yield calibrated to within +/- 10%, and the Buster Easy device design was selected (this test gave 31 kt and used a plutonium/U-235 core). LASL weapon designers however decided to conduct a weapon design experiment with this shot, and unbeknownst to the test effect personnel substituted the untried U-233 core. The predicted yield was 33 kt. The actual 22 kt was 33% below this, seriously compromising the data collected.

As a weapons test it most certainly was not a failure - it just wasn't the 33 Kiloton they wanted for that particular test due to the unexpected substitution of the core (assuming we are told the full story here anyway). It is also highly likely there were other tests we don't know about. US Nuclear bomb designer Ted Taylor spent a lot of time trying to find a way to make a "safe" Thorium civilian fuel cycle. Eventually he concluded he couldn't. He could always find a way to make a bomb out of it relatively easily.

There have been rumours that India has a U-233 bomb programme hidden inside its thorium reactor research.

I completely see that there's a proliferation risk in allowing rogue nations try to develop fission reactors of *any* type, regardless of whether they go with LWRs or thorium MSR designs. However, that's not what I was getting at here. The U.S. abandoned research in thorium MSRs over 40 years ago primarily because other designs and fuels met the government's military and civilian requirements better and at a lower cost. Now that the situation has changed, perhaps some of this knowledge can be recovered and put to constructive use, not destructive.

Logically, what's the level of proliferation safety needed by any civilian reactor? Well, simply that it would be harder and costlier to divert and use the by-products of the civilian reactor for weapons purposes than to simply set up a small "military" reactor specifically designed to produce plutonium. If so, the civilian reactor adds no proliferation risk and asking for more is just hysteria.

AFAIK, the thorium fuel cycle meets this requirement. Like a boss.

The problem is that civilian cycles can be interrupted and weapons produced within days or weeks at the most if the plans to do so have been prepared in advance. Not perhaps the most optimal weapons but usable enough.

So a country can go from having only civilian reactors following all the rules one minute but used to fuel bombs the next week should a country choose to do so and need a bomb in a hurry. That's what worried Ted Taylor so much. Saves all the bother of hidden military fuel production. But yes if a country has known military reactors then they are unlikely to interrupt civilian cycles as they have no need to do so.

Since no one is now reprocessing fuel, where's the interruption? Build a reactor with a low enrichment fuel. Run the reactor, then chemically separate the Pu from the fuel when it is removed from the reactor.

Technically, the interruption here would be moving the spent fuel to an unmonitored separation facility. Of course, the unmonitored separation facility could be within the reactor building itself. Ideally you would want minimally irradiated fuel (for highest Pu-239 isotope percentage content) which would show up as suspicious reactor start/stops (like which has happened at the just opened Iranian reactor but the Russians are supposed to be watching that and seem happy enough) but if you wanted a cruder bomb you could just use the normal spent fuel rods as you suggest.

The problem is that civilian cycles can be interrupted and weapons produced within days or weeks at the most if the plans to do so have been prepared in advance. Not perhaps the most optimal weapons but usable enough.

"If the plans to do so have been prepared in advance." Sure. And that preparation gives them the lead time to set up secret military reactors instead and get a total lead time and cost that is less than that of using substandard weapons material, and much better yields and success rates. Of course, with an LWR fleet of sufficient size, it may be possible that you always have enough fuel rods that have been irradiated for a short time to be able to extract weapons grade plutonium for a few bombs. But Thorium/U-233 breeders is not suitable. The material is too hard to handle, and any nation that desires the bomb would go for military plutonium reactors instead. What you present is FUD.

The material is too hard to handle, and any nation that desires the bomb would go for military plutonium reactors instead. What you present is FUD.

Tell that to Sandia who don't think it is FUD.

Proliferation Vulnerability Red Team report

Proliferation Vulnerability
Red Team Report
SAND 97-8203

Printed October 1996

The Authors:

Sandia National Laboratory:
J.P. Hinton, G.A. Harms,
R.W. Barnard, L.W. Kruse,
D.E. Bennett, J.A. Milloy,
R.W. Crocker, W.A. Swansiger,
M.J. Davis, K.J. Ystesund.
Savannah River Site:
H.J. Groh
Los Alamos National Laboratory:
E.A. Hakkila, W.L. Hawkins
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:
E.E. Hill

For the forms with a radiation barrier [e.g. irradiated nuclear fuel], six skilled people could complete the operation.

For the forms without a radiation barrier [e.g. fresh MOX fuel], only about four people would be required.

...Thus, although chemical processing and a radiation field are discriminators, they are not sufficient barriers to prevent recovery

6. Conclusions

Keeping plutonium inaccessible is the key to proliferation resistance.

All plutonium from all stages of all alternatives can be made weapons usable, should sufficient material be successfully removed. For the host nation it is no problem at all.

Although weapons-grade plutonium is preferable for the development and fabrication of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices, reactor grade plutonium can be used.

The technology for recovering plutonium from spent fuel is in the open literature and can be adapted for the materials forms within the alternatives.
The resources required for the recovery of a significant quantity of plutonium are estimated to be relatively modest.

Sweden got nulear power to gain nuclear competence,in order to buil the bombs. Then we realized it was more risk owning a bomb than not, and dumped that project, but kept the reacors. We run uranium reactors.

I should add that even some of the strongest supporters of Thorium say that the radiation level from irradiated fuel is "hazardous" to weapons builders and "proliferation-resistant" - not proliferation-proof. If a country wants a bomb in a hurry then the Thorium cycle will do. Just as the civilian Uranium or MOX cycles will.

I keep saying that it's faster and more efficient to use military reactors, and you keep countering with that it is possible to use civilian cycles. I don't remember the name of the fallacy, unfortunately.

India made its first bombs with plutonium diverted from the Canadian supplied civilian peaceful use only CIRUS reactor. The 8kt estimated yield also, to me, suggests a slight pre-detonation consistent with use of something other than optimum weapons grade plutonium. But 8 Kilotons is still 8 Kilotons. Not bad for a first test using plutonium diverted clandestinely from a civilian programme. The CIRUS reactor could have been cycled to produce more optimum weapons grade plutonium but that would have drawn more attention. Still the percentage Pu-239 remains unclear.

Without isotopic debris analysis for every bomb test in history it is impossible to say how often bombs using reactor-grade plutonium have been tried.

The Canadians have been exceptionally good at supplying CANDU reactors worldwide which make it particularly easy to divert plutonium for bomb production.

As the implosion physics are fairly easily tested and the timescale you have to hit maximum compression for optimal yield depending on plutonium isotope ratio is easily calculated, there isn't even a need to test the bomb first for the additional countries that may be sitting with unfueled prototypes (or just the designs) right now. Ted Taylor estimated that he could build an implosion bomb from scratch in a few weeks working on his own.

So yes, again I agree with you - If you have military reactors then use them. If you don't, you have other options and these can be implemented rapidly.

The thorium cycle is considered proliferation-resistant because of the by-product (n,2n) reaction pathways that produce short-lived 232U, whose progeny isotopes emit characteristic high-energy gamma upon decay (e.g., 208Tl and 212Bi) which would make evading detection of clandestine weapons work almost impossible. Furthermore, the thorium cycle generates substantially fewer transuranic isotopes owing to the much higher fission/capture ratio in 233U versus 235U or 239Pu. Proliferation is and alway will be a matter of intent, not technology, which is why we need a strong IAEA inspection regimen and enhanced protocol.

emit characteristic high-energy gamma upon decay (e.g., 208Tl and 212Bi) which would make evading detection of clandestine weapons work almost impossible.

Who cares when you're done in a few days before anyone has had time to do anything about it - assuming they even noticed at all?

I should be clear- there are ways around the 232U problem, but they involve complex technical implementation that would make it much easier for a would-be proliferator to just go for uranium enrichment or Pu separation from spent UO2 fuel. For a critical review, see Kang and von Hippel http://scienceandglobalsecurity.org/archive/sgs09kang.pdf

Fukushima, One Year After : On the somber first anniversary, Japan still has a lot of work ahead


"So basically, cold shutdown means that the situation is stable enough that they can begin to think about what happens next."


This sort of bus system is pretty popular, as is DeviceNet. I didn't think they were nuclear rated, but they might be by now. And in any event there are a lot of non-critical systems that you could use these on in any case.

The article has a listing of other bus systems too; which one is best depends on what you want to do.

This has been posted before, maybe this is the time for a re-read.

8Mb pdf warning- http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/spaceweather.pdf

Basically it outlines what the power industry has done lately to insure reliability in case of another Carrington event.

Basically it outlines what the power industry has done lately to insure reliability in case of another Carrington event.

Erm, it says the power industry has done nothing - well with the exception of Finland and some tweaks in Quebec. The US electrical power industry is said to have done nothing at all.

Because mitigation has not been widely applied to the US electric grid, severe damage is a possibility, but a rigorous risk assessment has not been done.

I read this as what the power industry should do, not what they have done. I don't know about many of the companies, but the Rural Electric Coop that I worked for has done none of the recommended items. In fact, I've never even heard any of the engineers even acknowledge such a problem. Their substation configurations are unchanged from how they were constructed in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. Just the latest computer-controlled equipment controlling the same old relaying equipment. The newest one built in 2000 or so has none of the mentioned neutral-current blocking devices. At one of their two delivery points they own a 500KV/69KV transformer that's one of a kind. And no spare on this continent! They've looked. This REC serves over 40,000 services covering 10,000 sq miles in AZ and NM. There's no way their financial condition will allow them to do anything but the barest bones stuff.

I'm sorry, but if you're counting on these recommendations to be implemented, you're going to be rudely surprised. It's another case of could have, would have, should have...

Good to see some discussion on this report.

Guess I'll fuel up & test run my generators.

Didn't we have an X45 event in 2003? (link) Going by that this shouldn't be a problem or is there some factor other than magnitude that is involved here?

if you read your link it tells you why that didn't fry the grids. The CME wasn't aimed at earth. Tomorrow's is but it was "only" X5.4.

"This makes it more than twice as large as any previously recorded flare, and if the accompanying particle and magnetic storm had been aimed at the Earth, the damage to some satellites and electrical networks could have been considerable," says Thomson.

Space Weather Watch now issued for Strong Magnetic Storm tomorrow.


Space Weather Message Code: WATA50
Serial Number: 43
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1742 UTC

WATCH: Geomagnetic A-index of 50 or greater predicted
NOAA Scale: Periods reaching the G3 (Strong) Level Likely
Valid for UTC Day: 2012 Mar 08
Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.
Spacecraft - Systems may experience surface charging; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites and orientation problems may occur.
Navigation - Intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, including loss-of-lock and increased range error may occur.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio may be intermittent.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.

The good news is that the prediction so far is good for aurora watchers but not bad enough to kill us all :-)

Meanwhile, region 1429 has been suspiciously quiet since the X5.4 early this morning.

Posted by: Jeff Masters, 1:42 PM GMT on April 03, 2009 - A future Space Weather catastrophe : a disturbing possibility

Top geomagnetic storm events of recorded history

The intensity of a geomagnetic storm can be measured by counting the number of solar charged particles that enter the Earth's magnetic field near the Equator. This number is called the Disturbance storm time, or Dst. Reliable Dst measurements go back to the 1950s. Bruce Tsurutani of NASA used magnetic field measurements taken on the ground in Bombay, India to estimate the Dst for the Carrington event. Based on Dst, the strongest geomagnetic storms in history were in 1921 and 1859. I also show on this list the strongest storms since 1960:

1) Dst = -1600, Carrington event, September 2, 1859
2) Dst = -900, May 14-15, 1921
3) Dst = -589, March 13, 1989 Superstorm
4) Dst = -472, November 20, 2003
5) Dst = -401, October 30, 2003

The 1921 event wiped out telegraph service east of the Mississippi. The currents induced in some telegraph wires were so strong that numerous fires were caused and several operators were injured by exploding consoles. Radio reception was completely lost in New Zealand, but was strengthened in Europe. Auroras were seen as far south as Puerto Rico.

Another measure of geomagnetic storm intensity is the change in amplitude of the magnetic field over time, dB/dt. Using this measure, the 1859 Carrington event was ten times stronger than the 1989 Superstorm.

One of the disaster series tv specials pointed out the the USA power grid depends on 20 super large transformers. A giant solar flare could destroy some of them - and apparently there is little backup.

National Geographic Channel Explorer, Ep. 2 "Electronic Armageddon"
5.0 out of 5 stars
Investigate what could happen if a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse surged to earth crippling every aspect of modern society's infrastructure, including our vulnerable electrical grid.

Runtime: 50 minutes
Original air date: June 15, 2010
Network: National Geographic

Of course, as disasters go, that would be nothing compared to a super volcano eruption - such as Yellow Stone. It happens every 500,000 years - and we're overdue. Cheery, isn't it?

- The Quebec Blackout Storm - March 13, 1989 At 2:45 AM

I remember that. I was in New Mexico, living in the high mountains. At about three in the morning, my dogs came in and said "you've gotta come see this". So, I got up and followed them outside. Just past a far range, the sky was red and blue with two emerging white search-lights slowly moving about... at least that was my interpretation. "Oh, great, somebody's nuked Raton (the town of "big-rat")". Took me a while to figure out it was the aurora!


Quite so.

UPDATE - 06.10.11:The CME from Tuesday's spectacular flare still hasn't reached Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20-30% chance that the cloud may yet deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field and spark geomagnetic storms during the next 24 hours. High latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.


So.. 20-30% chance means probability low. Let's not become overly alarmist.


That's dated June 2011. It has nothing to do with this flare.

Please read the actual official space weather links and warnings I have linked to in the thread for latest information. It is forecast to be a direct hit tomorrow but not at "alarming" levels - just "strong".

Sooooo... I don't need to unplug my electronic stuff?

Not unless it throws an X40 at us overnight :-) Yesterday it was flaring every few minutes most of the day, culminating in the X5.4. However the region has been almost totally silent since the flare this morning. Its magnetic classification remains "beta-gamma-delta" which is the configuration most likely to produce extremely dangerous flares and it continues to rotate towards us. There are currently 25 active sunspots within Region 1429 and it has grown in size by over 30% in the last 24 hours.

Predicted levels tomorrow could still be enough though to cause isolated problems in places but I'm not planning on unplugging, Will keep one eye on magnetometers and ACE spacecraft though just in case :-)

Would unplugging help a whole lot? People have been discussing this like it rivals an EMP and would damage electronics even if unplugged. If that is the case, you would have to have a shielded location to protect anything.

Also, isn't paper* considered a pretty good protection? Just wondering.


*a thick blanket or wall of paper . . . not just one sheet!

@ Undertow -- thanks, I feel a little better after reading your reply :)

@ Zaphod -- thanks, I feel a little worse after reading your reply :)

If I start now, perhaps I have time to build a Farraday Cage ( wink, nudge ).

I think the unplugging is just to protect against several thousand volts suddenly finding its way into your house just before the transformers blow. It would probably take an unimaginable magnetic storm to start blowing typical battery or unplugged electronic equipment - I hope!

Edit: Not an "unimaginable" storm as, now that I think of it, it happens in "Sunstorm" by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter. But that involved some alien interference with the Sun.

It would probably take an unimaginable magnetic storm to start blowing typical battery or unplugged electronic equipment

MOSFET devices nowadays are very sensitive to stray charge. In fact the sensitivity has been going up for quite some time now and keeps going up as sizes shrink. The stray charge from rubbing your feet on the ground is enough to blow a hole in a transistor. I have no idea about the dynamics of a solar storm or the resulting charge but even a spark plug in a car produces enough EMF to damage your cell phone if the spark isn't shielded properly. I don't see a problem in the tropics but outside those latitudes you could see some stray incidents (probably won't even be noticeable)

Misfit & Mr. Beeblebrox:

An EMP and solar storm are both forms of electromagnetic radiation, very similar to the signals used to transmit TV, radio & cell phone (mobile) signals. Think of it as interference on steroids.

In order for the interference to damage anything, it requires some kind of antenna to "collect" the radiated energy. In this case, the antenna would be the long overhead wires of the power grid, which would transfer the energy into your electronic device via the power cord into your device.

Un-plugging anything would improve your chances, but if the energy at your outlet is sufficient to damage an appliance, chances are that there won't be any power for a very long time to plug back in to. Also, you can forget solar, as the wires to interconnect the silicon wafers make it one big antenna grid.

In extreme cases of EMP, the wires within in the appliance are enough to pick up enough energy to damage electronics, particularly if the case or housing is not metal, as in most TVs. Grounding a metal case would help, but guess what?; if the case is grounded, it's via the AC outlet, which is where the problem can come from in the first place.

Like I said, if a storm is big enough to kill your DVD, we will be at the headwaters of diminutive tributary with no apparent means of locomotion.

Sooooo... I should stash the solar panels in the Farraday Cage, too :)

Move the panels into the library (assuming you have a big library, thick books) - center would be good.


If I gathered all my books and frantically used my table saw and nail gun, I could convert my dining room :)

I'm not sure where you heard about paper as protection.

AFAIK, EMP protection can only be done with conductive material so keep you books intact.

Hopefully, they're all about gardening, blacksmithing and survival etc, because if a big EMP hits, you'll need them.


The military has considered this:


I surge-protected my house prior to the fuse box; was that sufficient in most cases?

I'll give my best scientific answer:

Probably, but it depends.

I depends on what type of protection you have (not all surge protectors are created equally), and how big it is. Transient protectors are rated in how many joules of energy they can absorb. A good one will open the circuit downstream if it gets more than it can handle.

Of course, it also depends on how bad the solar storm/EMP is.

Many retail (big box) surge protectors give you a warm fuzzy feeling and that's about it. Kinda like the $100 "high resolution" HDMI cables that were made in China that I buy for $5.00. ;-)

Check the ratings, consumer reports etc. Higher price is not necessarily better.


Edit: If the pulse is big enough to be picked up by the wiring in your house, a protector at the service box will clamp the voltage but likely not before it gets to your expensive toys. It's primarily designed for incoming spikes.

Thanks, pragma, for taking the time to reply. It's on par with my presumptions, and it does work well detering the several spikes encountered since its installation.

Also, you can forget solar, as the wires to interconnect the silicon wafers make it one big antenna grid.

Kinda makes one wonder, what about warehouse inventories? Would all those solar panels go poof?

I'm not sure if it translates to a solar flare/EMP, but my arrays have taken several hard very close lightening strikes, one direct hit vaporized a Wattsun tracking control board, but no damage to the PV or BOS.

Wow -- impressive! As well as reassuring :)

That said, I do have several hundred dollars in lightning protection; on each array's combiner box, at the charge controllers and on the AC side. A good grounding system is a must. I put in so much grounding the inspector suggested I may be inviting lightning. So far, so good. [knocks wood]

Just so nobody takes away the wrong idea: the inspector was presumably joking. Good grounding, as compared to bad grounding, is not likely to invite lightning - unless the bad grounding is impossibly bad. The currents needed to set up the electric fields that initiate a strike will be very small indeed; the thinnest available wire, or a wet tree branch, will be more than enough.

Circuit protection is usually for currents/voltages induced by nearby strikes. A direct strike will fry almost any electronics; a four inch wide somewhat heavy ribbon might be used to try to conduct it to ground for the purpose of preventing a fire. The conductor will be a flat ribbon to minimize skin effect, and it will not be a thin hollow tube (which would also minimize skin effect) to avoid the lightning stroke collapsing it (at which point cracking, concentration of the direct current, and eddy current effects might reinforce each other to vaporize it near the point of collapse.)

A description of what is susceptible to lightning, or shielded from it, can be found here (PDF; see rolling sphere.)

Cool. I grew up less than a mile from the giant WPAT radio towers in New Jersey (4 1000 foot towers). They had metal strips spread out between them to dissipate lightening strikes. We reconned they got hit a couple of times per year.

Strangely, probably not.

For electrons to do any damage, they need to go somewhere, i.e. a complete circuit.

The PV panel will act like an antenna, but if it isn't connected to anything. the electrons will stay put.

For example, you could hang a PV panel by one output terminal on to a 400 KV transmission line and not damage it, because the other terminal isn't connected to anything. This is how linemen can work on live lines from a helicopter.

OTOH, if the voltage generated within in a disconnected panel is greater than the breakdown voltage of the cells, and the energy is high enough, yeah, it could go poof.

Hope this isn't TMI.


You are talking about a traditional current flow. Static doesn't work like that, every material(esp insulators) ends up being either in excess or being deficient in electrons. When the charges equalize they complete a circuit, the resulting current flow is miniscule but happens very quickly and produces a large EMF, this can damage equipments. A ground is not required.

I'm not sure what part of my post you are referring to, and I don't know what you mean by "traditional current flow".

A charge is a charge, be it on a dielectric or on a conductor, as in a battery or an aircraft in flight. Static electricity is just that. It is static, i.e. it is not in motion. There are no "special" electrons for static electricity. The charge that can be achieved and stored depends on the capacitance of the entire circuit. The energy transferred between any two bodies depends on the relative potentials and the effective capacitance of the two bodies i.e. the charge on each.

When the charges equalize they complete a circuit, the resulting current flow is miniscule but happens very quickly and produces a large EMF, this can damage equipments.

Equalization between two charges happens at the same speed as any other electrical circuit action, and is dependent on resistance, potential difference, inductance and capacitance. The current is also dependent on these factors and can be very substantial, as in the case of lightning, This discharge, or equalization of potential will produce a current flow, and a resulting magnetic field not an EMF. The EMF is already present.

The relationship between the two is defined by Faraday's Law.

My post made no reference to a ground. A ground is irrelevant, as it is simply an arbitrary reference to a point in the circuit, usually by convention.


EMP, is generally thought of as a weapon, nuclear or otherwise, and is high frequency radiation. A geomagnetic storm is low frequencies (like minutes). The main threat to the power grid from the CME impact, is the DC like current that can be induced, which can saturate transformers. The DC won't get through the line transformers, so I suspect your electronics would be just fine -until the power grid goes down.

The DC won't get through the line transformers,

No DC won't but a sudden voltage jump associated with a sudden magnetic impulse will. But more likely, sudden jumps caused by circuits tripping out elsewhere on the grid.

EMP, is generally thought of as a weapon, nuclear or otherwise, and is high frequency radiation.

Technically, a pulse has no specific frequency, high or otherwise, or as Fourier would say, it contains all frequencies.

The DC won't get through the line transformers, so I suspect your electronics would be just fine -until the power grid goes down.

I presume you mean that everything would be fine until power is lost, (no harm, no foul), but if the transformer is saturated, once the grid goes down the field in the transformer core will collapse, which will generate a back EMF pulse in both the primary and secondary windings. This voltage spike can easily be substantial enough to wipe out electronics.


Depending on whether the electronics power supply has surge protection. Even without an EMP you can get a spike. I remember working down the basement during an electrical storm. I saw a spark jump out of one pole of a 120volt outlet, to the other one. The thunder was delayed by several seconds, so the bolt to power line intecept was more than a mile away. This sort of thing isn't that rare, so electronics devices had better be designed to handle it.

Sorry about that. Still distracted and at work; thought I was on the news section, and got an archive.

I had two screens up, the one above and this:


I still am a bit confused by the jargon. X-5.4, S3 and G2 are all used in referring to this story. I remember the 2006 storm noted by NASA - seems to me they pulled everyone inside the ISS to wait it out. Also, the Aurorae were seen quite a ways south. Otherwise, not much happened, and that was about an X6.5 and an X9.


X5.4 (X class) is the actual X-Ray intensity of the initial flare, S3 (Strong) is the actual current proton storm intensity and G3 (Strong) is the predicted magnetic storm intensity tomorrow when the CME hits (currently at G2 "moderate"). At S3 proton storm level (current) no EVAs will take place and even commercial aircraft flights at high latitudes are probably being re-routed.

Where's the CME? NASA updated the likely CME arrival time and brought the prediction forward to 6:25am UTC. There are wide error bars though but we are now over 4 hours late and overdue. The error bars have just been extended from 4 hours to 6 which gives it another two hours max to arrive. It doesn't help that ACE and SOHO satellite data is missing or patchy due to storm.

As of now the CME still hasn't arrived. Should be here any time now though.

Edit: Possibly just about to impact now as the magnetic field is shifting. No "sudden impulse" warning yet though.

Further Edit: Confirmation: Here it comes

Space Weather Message Code: WARK05
Serial Number: 752
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 08 1054 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 expected
Valid From: 2012 Mar 08 1100 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Mar 08 2359 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor
Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 60 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Spacecraft - Minor impact on satellite operations possible.
Aurora - Aurora may be visible at high latitudes, i.e., northern tier of the U.S. such as northern Michigan and Maine.

Space Weather Message Code: WARSUD
Serial Number: 107
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 08 1052 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse expected
Valid From: 2012 Mar 08 1100 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Mar 08 1145 UTC
IP Shock Passage Observed: 2012 Mar 08 1045 UTC



The Bz component of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) has been pointing mostly to the north and this is keeping the geomagnetic storm at minor levels thus far. Should the Bz begin to point south for long durations, this may help intensify the storm. More updates when needed.


Suggests that we've just seen the field switch south.

Brief burst of telemetry from SOHO just confirmed solar wind speed 703 km/sec. ACE solar wind data still offline.

Well we did after all get a G3 "Strong" magnetic storm and hit a K-index of 7 (briefly 8 according to Boulder, Colorado Realtime) that means there is a good chance the aurora was visible over large parts of the USA withing the last few hours. Anyone see anything?

Space Weather Message Code: ALTK07
Serial Number: 85
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 09 1033 UTC

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 7
Threshold Reached: 2012 Mar 09 1028 UTC

Synoptic Period: 0900-1200 UTC
Active Warning: Yes
NOAA Scale: G3 - Strong
Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.
Spacecraft - Systems may experience surface charging; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites and orientation problems may occur.
Navigation - Intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, including loss-of-lock and increased range error may occur.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio may be intermittent.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.

'Dutch Disease': McGuinty Was Right the First Time

Evidence Alberta premier cites to support industry expansion based on dubious energy economics.

The bigger issue is that (Ontario Premier Dalton) McGuinty has told Premier Redford that he is, quite rightly, concerned about the negative impact the rapid development of the oil sands has on the Ontario economy. Rapid petro-returns put upward pressure on the Canadian dollar. Given the dependency of Canadian export competitiveness to the value of our dollar, this will continue to depress manufacturing and other industrial activity and lead to even more job losses. Premier McGuinty doesn't believe that Ontario will benefit from the rapid development of Alberta's resources and would prefer the benefits of a lower dollar.

It turns out that CERI has similar concerns about the rapid expansion of oil sands production because of its impact on our dollar and negative consequence for all exports, including crude oil. The CERI report that Ms. Redford cites -- Study No. 124 published in May 2011 -- is based on Study No. 122, also published in May 2011.

Study No. 122 states that "there is a negative and statistically significant relationship between the Canadian-U.S. exchange rate and the price of crude oil... 78 per cent of the variations in the exchange rate can be explained by changes in the price of crude oil." The report goes on to explain that because of our appreciating dollar, "Canadian goods and services become relatively more expensive to purchase with U.S. dollars, and Canadian exports to the U.S. decline correspondingly." The report states that between 2004 - 2009 exports to the U.S. declined by 23 per cent while the Canadian dollar appreciated 14 per cent.

CERI predicts that by 2030 the value of the Canadian dollar will be $1.23 U.S. and by 2044 it will take two U.S. dollars to buy one Canadian dollar -- yes, a 50 cent U.S. dollar. This is because CERI anticipates a significant rise in oil prices over the period, reaching $200 per barrel U.S., in real dollars, by 2044. When the price of oil goes up, so does the value of our petro-dollar.

The way CERI deals with this very undesirable outcome is fascinating -- it doesn't.

I think a lot of people were asking about online courses for friends and family. Well this is old news but still interesting.


MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:

1. Organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace, feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
2. Allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
3. Operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

A friend of mine (chemistry graduate) just told me yesterday he'd signed up for their first experimental course open to anyone. Details at https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/

6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is an experimental on-line adaptation of MIT’s first undergraduate analog design course: 6.002. This course will run, free of charge, for students worldwide from March 5, 2012 through June 8, 2012.

I think it is still possible to enroll.

Thanks, I sent to my twins who are compsci softmores. I'd like to have them learn something -and hopefully get credit for it during the summer.

Saudi Arabia must diversify oil industry: Naimi

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia must reduce its reliance on crude sales revenues and develop its downstream industry to shield its economy from international market volatility, the kingdom's oil minister said on Tuesday . . .

"In light of such unpredictable fluctuations, it is not appropriate to depend on the production and export of oil as a basis for national income and sustainable economic development," he said.

And a trip down memory lane . . . Ah, those were the good old days . . .

April, 2004: Saudi Oil Is Secure and Plentiful, Say Officials

“Saudi Arabia now has 1.2 trillion barrels of estimated reserve. This estimate is very conservative. Our analysis gives us reason to be very optimistic. We are continuing to discover new resources, and we are using new technologies to extract even more oil from existing reserves,” the minister said.

Naimi said Saudi Arabia is committed to sustaining the average price of $25 per barrel set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He said prices should never increase to more than $28 or drop under $22. “This is a fair price to consumers and producers. But, really, Saudi Arabia and OPEC has limited control on world markets,” said Al-Naimi. “Prices are driven by other factors: Instability in key oil producing countries; industry struggles to produce specialized gasoline; and the resulting strains on refineries to meet local demand.”

“Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves are certainly there,” Naimi added. “None of these reserves requires advanced recovery techniques. We have more than sufficient reserves to increase output. If required, we can increase output from 10.5 million barrels a day to 12-15 million barrels a day. And we can sustain this increased output for 50 years or more. There will be no shortage of oil for the next 50 years. Perhaps much longer.”

Annual Saudi net oil exports (BP, estimated for 2011) from 2002 to 2011, versus annual Brent crude oil prices:


None of these reserves requires advanced recovery techniques

Saudi's neighbor Kuwait now admits that they require "digital oilfields" because "the era of easy oil coming to a close".

KOC aims full fledged digital oilfield as easy oil nears end

With the era of easy oil coming to a close, technology will have a key role to play in extracting difficult oil, says Dr Khaled Al Humaidi, Deputy Managing Director, Exploration and Production at Kuwait Oil Company (KOC).

Al Humaidi said KOC’s aim is to go full fledged in digital oilfield.

Al Jasmi stressed the need to exploit existing resources to meet the demand, “as easy oil has gone. Giant fields like Burgan don’t exist anymore.”

To be fair to Al-Naimi, at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in Saudi net oil exports, in 2011 the Saudis would have been net exporting about 15 mbpd, versus 9.1 in 2005, so in 2004 I guess that almost anything seemed possible--To Infinity and Beyond!

Aramco targets '100 billion barrels'

The company is already starting to employ nanotechnology for “reservoir sensing” and other geophysical evaluations.

Aramco will also look to enhanced drilling techniques like “smart water flooding” to improve production rates.

Yes Aramco announced this new search last March: Aramco boosts drilling in seismically tough Red Sea

Aramco is seeking reserves in anticipation of global economic growth and increasing demand for oil. The Red Sea is two kilometres deep in places with a 7,000-foot thick salt sequence which can distort seismic images, according to the magazine.

From Westexas' link up thread: Saudi Oil Is Secure and Plentiful, Say Officials

Saudi Arabia now has 1.2 trillion barrels of estimated reserve.

If they are successful in find another 100 billion barrels of new oil deep under the Red Sea and under over a mile of salt, that gives them 1.3 trillion barrels of reserves. That is four and a half times the combined reserves of all non-OPEC nations and more than all the rest of the world combined including the rest of OPEC.

On another subject I have some beachfront property in Arizona I would like to sell you.

Ron P.

Well, Al-Naimi did say that the 1.2 trillion barrel estimate was "Very conservative," so maybe they are on their way to 2.0 trillion barrels, or 2,000 Gb.

Curiously enough though, if we use a 2011 estimate of 28% for the Saudi consumption to production ratio (C/P), versus 18% in 2005, and if we extrapolate this rate of increase in the C/P ratio out, it suggests that remaining Saudi Cumulative Net oil exports are about 21 Gb, which would be "Slightly" lower than what Al-Naimi's "Very conservative" estimate implies.

The last living employee of the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC), forerunner of Aramco, has passed away:


Saudi Arabia Must Boost Oil Supply by 300,000 Barrels, CGES Says

Saudi Arabia (OPCRSAUD) should raise oil production by 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day to prevent prices from damaging the world economy, according to the Centre for Global Energy Studies.

The world’s largest oil exporter needs to restore daily production rates to 10 million barrels a day, from 9.8 million currently, as price levels of more than $120 a barrel are crimping economic growth, according to the London-based Centre.

According to EIA, Saudi Arabia is currently doing the opposite.

OPEC Feb Production Falls

Most of the drop was due to an output decline in Saudi Arabia. The world's largest oil exporter cut production to 9.6 million barrels a day from 9.8 million barrels a day in the month-earlier period. In December, Saudi Arabia's output had risen to 10 million barrels a day, the highest level in at least 30 years.

The world's largest oil exporter cut production...

Pol, do you think they "cut" their production, or were they unable to maintain it?


Maybe they cut production now in order to be able to increase production back to 10 million barrels a day during the summer when there is higher demand in Saudi Arabia and EU embargo on Iranian oil begins.

But if Euan Mearns "Ghawar base case production model" is even close to being correct Saudi production will soon start to decline.

Ghawar reserves update and revisions (1)

But if Euan Mearns "Ghawar base case production model" is even close to being correct Saudi production will soon start to decline.

Following are the production, consumption and net export numbers for Saudi Arabia (BP) for 2005 to 2010:

Production - Consumption = Net Exports (Total Petroleum Liquids, mbpd)

2005: 11.1 - 2.0 = 9.1
2006: 10.9 - 2.1 = 8.8
2007: 10.4 - 2.2 = 8.2
2008: 10.8 - 2.4 = 8.4
2009: 9.9 - 2.6 = 7.3
2010: 10.0 - 2.8 = 7.2

I've been estimating 2011 Saudi net exports at between 7.5 and 8.1 mbpd; I am beginning to suspect that the low end estimate might be more accurate.

Oil demand shift: Asia takes over

Saudi Arabia net exports in dark blue:

I gather Sam is plotting gross monthly crude oil exports. As noted elsewhere, one problem with the monthly data is that it is hard to differentiate between production changes and changes in inventories.

As noted above, the observed annual decline rate in Saudi total liquids production from 2005 to 2010 was 2.1%/year. We will see what the 2011 data base shows, but as noted above, I am beginning to suspect that the 2011 data for Saudi Arabia might look something like this:

10.5 - 3.0 = 7.5

But we shall see what the BP data for 2011 show.

Here are the annual data for Saudi Arabia (through 2010). Sams' projections were based on annual data through 2006. The actual data points for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 are shown.

It's interesting how SA's net exports are very smooth up until around 2002, and then become very jumpy. I can think of at least two reasons:

1. The method of collection or plotting of data changed in 2002

2. There was a shift in how SA's production was determined. One possibility is that there was a shift from producing below capacity with a cap determined by people, to having physical resources determine production. In other words, a shift from having spare capacity to having little or none.

Global crude oil prices (Brent) doubled from 2002 to 2005, from $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005, and in response the Saudis showed a huge increase in production and net exports. In early 2004, they pledged to support the $22 to $28 OPEC crude oil price band.

Global crude oil prices doubled again from 2005 to 2011, from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011 (with some oscillations along the way). Here is a chart showing annual Saudi net oil exports* (BP) versus annual Brent crude oil prices from 2002 to 2011.

*The chart shows a 2011 estimate of 7.8 mbpd

Do you think that SA started producing at or near capacity in 2002? Just because they were able to raise their production (and their net exports) from 2002 to 2005 doesn't mean they didn't have the pedal pinned to the floor, as opposed to cruising at an even speed (with unused engine power).

That shift from a smooth line to a jumpy one must have something behind it - it's just too distinct.

I think that Saudi Arabia, in 2005, was at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas, the prior swing producer, peaked in 1972.

And keep in mind that none of the claimed Saudi export increase turned up in the OECD after 2003.

I doubt they even reached it never mind could maintain it. I believe they just surge from storage occasionally. Then they have to cut back shipments and re-fill storage prior to another surge. If you follow the tanker tracking reports then this surge/cut-back sequence can easily be seen. It is not a new thing.

This is very confusing. According to Platts, Saudi Arabia increased output in February.

OPEC oil production climbs to 31.27 million barrels per day in February

Crude oil output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) climbed by 400,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 31.27 million b/d in February from 30.87 million b/d in January, the highest volume from the 12 producing countries since the autumn of 2008, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts showed Wednesday.

Smaller increments came from Angola, Kuwait, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Re: "price at the pump eases"

First the price falls to $3.72/gal.

Then the price falls to $3.79/gal.

Eventually it will fall to $4.00/gal.

It's laughable how the news frames this issue.

Of course Thursday Greece might fail to be "saved". Then the price would fall. Even if Greece succeeds at getting Thursday evening's debt swap in place they still have to succeed in enforcing all the austerity. If they don't get the debt swap in place *kaboom*.

Greece edges closer to debt swap success (link)
AFP / March 7, 2012

Banks, insurers and investment funds holding debt issued under Greek law must decide by 2000 GMT on Thursday [March 8, 2012] whether to write off half of the money they are owed, while those who hold debt issued under foreign law have until April 11 to decide.

Failing this, Greece has said the operation might be called off, which could lead to a messy default as early as March 20.

Here are the different scenarios:

— Investors holding less than 66 percent of the debt sign up: Greece withdraws the offer, loses the second bailout and defaults on all of its debt. In that case, not only the private investors but also the eurozone countries, the IMF, the European Central Bank and national central banks in the currency union face massive losses.

— Investors holding between 66 percent and 74 percent of the debt sign up: Greece uses new legislation to force losses on holdouts. That would likely trigger payouts on so-called credit default swaps — complex financial products that act as bond insurance — which the eurozone fears could cause panic on financial market.

— Investors holding between 75 percent and 90 percent of the debt sign up: Athens and eurozone finance ministers may force holdouts to accept the deal. They will discuss in a conference call the costs and benefits of triggering credit default swaps over a lower participation rate. Payout of CDS may cost the eurozone and investors more money because of the ensuing market panic, but a lower participation would likely require more bailout loans, which rich countries like Germany and the Netherlands have ruled out.

— Investors holding more than 90 percent of the debt sign up: The offer and the bailout go ahead as planned. Greece now faces the challenge of implementing all the conditions attached to the rescue loans and slowly returning its battered economy back to growth.

...they still have to succeed in enforcing all the austerity...

Have you found any sources that deal with the impact of the austerity measures?

For instance, most economic models predict that new jobs have a multiplier effect. It would seem that job losses would do the same. So, which [government] jobs are impacted, what is the job impact from reduced pensions and salaries?

Also, has IMF insisted that Greece sell off their national treasures, or their infrastructure like they did in South and Central America?

I predict that the cure will prove worse than the disease, in Greece and elsewhere.


Have you found any sources that deal with the impact of the austerity measures?

How can Greece not have austerity?

Go for bailout = partial default = austerity because the bailers demand it
Default all debt = no more borrowed money = lots of austerity, at least initially
Borrow more money to avoid austerity = whose going to lend Greece more money?
Austerity = less GDP = even more austerity

Am I missing a scenario where Greece isn't screwed?

Am I missing a scenario where Greece isn't screwed?

A hundred yard diameter space rock lands in Greece, it turns out it is composed of pure gold.

Price of gold crashes. Greeks who moved from currency to gold are screwed ;)


my 2c.
Even if the debt was nullified Gr would still be in serious trouble. I lived in Crete between 2003 and 2006. I was a math tutor. I earned up to 250 Euro a week when school was open. (I charged 15euro per 90 minute lesson). To get by I lived with mom (which is from crete although i am from cyprus). My earnings profile did not justify a car so I cycled to the houses of the pupils. I really had a great time there, the scenery inCrete is gorgeous and uplifting and I was lucky enough to have great kids as students. I think I will go back when my work permit expires in less than two years.
The bad. However the quality of the social structure sucked. The level of intellectual discourse was very low, cliche's everywhere about practically everything.. The goal in life seemed to be to have as much fun as possible.

Three anecdotes that I remember might describe the situation better than my opinions.

1) A pupil's parents could not get a ticket for the evening boat to athens. They called the office of their parliament representative. They got a ticket.

2) A pupil's father was not there for pay day because he had to be in the south of crete to make a faux bid for a government construction project. I was told that is what happens. Engineers split the projects among themselves and then place several faux bids so the person who offers the best bid still makes a great profit, while keeping appearances of competition.

3) A student's father was very worried that I was corrupting his son with science. He thought that science is bulls--t and it is for losers. The general mentality was that success in life comes through being in the circle of kleptocracy and nepotism.

In conclusion, sure greece will go through plenty of material hardship whatever the amount of help it receives. However I think it is still better than the blissfuly ignorant state of pre crisis.

I did the math on the Greek "bailout" (really just another way to force them into debt slavery). Turns out that with the bailout money, they could give everyone - every man, woman, and child in Greece - something like $15,214.34. And that would be money much better spent.

Honestly, Marx was right, banking should not be left to the private sector. I hope Greece defaults and kicks out the Goldman Sachs criminals who took over their government to boot. The whole Eurozone is looking just like the US, everyone blames the victim (not to say there wasn't plenty of corruption in Greece, but the average Greek works harder, longer, with lower pay and less vacation than places like Germany) and nobody is realizing that this is the biggest bank scam ever run on the planet. Who lent them the money? If you lend your money to someone who obviously can't pay, I'm going to laugh in your face when you can't get it back. But if you use this as an method to extract a pound of flesh, then I'll know your true motives had nothing to do with the money you lent. The Greek situation is exactly like this - the money is just a tool used in a larger power game.

There is some reality to economics as a study, but economics and banking as they are now practiced are the biggest criminal enterprizes on the planet.

I honestly thought World War III would be bombs and explosions, not bankers quietly cashing everybody in.

How would giving everyone in Greece $15K help? Would it increase their productivity, trade balance, competitiveness, pay off their debts?

Greeks may work harder/longer than Germans, I doubt it, but it is possible. If true, they should try some other lines of work, something that produces some trade-able product or service--at least if they which to keep importing stuff they don't produce like petroleum or cars or computers.

If you can't see how $15k would help the PEOPLE of Greece - many of whom are now unemployed - then I can't help you.

Such a handout might have some great effects at feeding the economy intravenously, but even so, this would hardly be a wise Silver Bullet approach to their or anyone's core problems. Systemic issues do need to be addressed, and much of these sorts of funds really could be applied in ways to pull people and communities in directions which do 'teach a man to fish' instead of just 'giving him a fish'

.. certainly it should include a balance of approaches within it's expenditure, and not just ALL be poured in any one place.

You are apparently forgetting that the hundreds of billions required end up coming out of the pockets of other EU citizens, also PEOPLE, may of whom live in eastern countries that have a lower standard of living than Greece, and who, at the very least, would like to see their contributions lead to long-term solutions to the systemic problems Greece has, not a final orgy of consumerism. As a EU taxpayer myself, I support the bail-out, but I also want the Greeks to live within their means, to work productively and contribute to the well-being of the European community.

You said:

Here are the different scenarios:

— Investors holding less than 66 percent of the debt sign up: Greece withdraws the offer, loses the second bailout and defaults on all of its debt. In that case, not only the private investors but also the eurozone countries, the IMF, the European Central Bank and national central banks in the currency union face massive losses.


Bloomberg: Greece Readies Record Debt Swap With 60% Commitments

Question: When is a default not a default? Greece is defaulting on 53.5% of it's debt! At the moment it looks like a "take it or take it" situation, with the gov't ready to cram the default. And, for some reason, those horrific 'credit default swaps' are not triggered! Meaning that if you held some of those Greek bond, and took out the insurance when things got a bit shakey (the CDS), you are twice screwed! Once on the bond, and once on the CDS.

I don't see where the banks, who are the bondholders, are coming out ahead. Just a bit better than if Greece defaulted on 100% of its debt. The ones being rescued are the CDS insurance companies!


According to the new rules a credit event has not occurred unless and until ISDA (International Swaps and Derivatives Association) declares it as such. Greece could default on 99% of its debt and it will still not trigger the CDS payment unless the ISDA declares it as a credit event. The banks are the winners because they sold the CDS. They kept the money and now don't have to pay.

At this time, only a moron will buy a CDS.

As I said earlier, we no longer have rules. They (big banks, central banks) make it up as they go along. Your only defense is to be free of debt and hold non-financial physical assets or at least paper assets that are backed by physical assets.

zap - I'm certain I don't understand all the parts to this ugly picture. Some of what I picked up though: a default is not a default if the bond holders agree to renegotiate their deals. Thus no default insurance is paid. OTOH if Greece does default and refuses to pay anything some of the bond hold may recover more from CDS than what they are being offered in the re-trade. OTOOH if the companies that are carrying the CDS can't/won't pay then the re-trade may be the best way to go. Of course, this is looking more like a Texas Hold'em poker game. At the end of the day the winner might not be the one with the better hand but the one who out plays the other guy.

Matt Mushalik in Australia has a new post up that counters the fallacy that shale oil will overcome world peak oil. The new post includes lots of Matt's graphs.

His post is in response to an editorial proclaiming the death of peak oil, written by an Australian TV journalist. It can be found here.

Gail, Your Matt Mushalik link doesn't work.

Please delete this after fix.

There is one paragraph in Kohler's piece that indicates that he doesn't know what he is talking about:

Forget declining oil, there is a new global oil rush. The US has an estimated 2 trillion barrels of shale oil reserves - about 70 per cent of the world's total and eight times the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

He's confusing shale oil with oil shale (an easy mistake to make, one would have to admit.)

The oil fields in the US that are contributing to the rise in production are shale oil. Note the order of words. The main example is the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana. It would better be described as tight oil - the oil is trapped in impermeable rock through which it cannot flow easily. US oil companies are using horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing on these fields to break up the rock and get the oil out - an expensive process but one which has been in use for over 50 years and is profitable at current prices. However, there is not 2 trillion barrels of this recoverable in the US. There might be 20 billion barrels recoverable in a very optimistic future scenario.

What he is confusing it with is the oil shale that is found in the Green River Formation and similar formations of the Rocky Mountain states. The name is a misnomer - it doesn't contain any oil at all. It differs from shale oil in that the rock contains kerogen, a waxy solid substance that does not flow under any circumstance, even if the rock is fractured. This means it has to be excavated using a mining process and retorted under high pressure and temperature to turn it into oil.

Nobody is producing oil from oil shale, i.e. converting kerogen to oil, in the US at this point in time, and in fact there is not even a working pilot project in operation. Most of the oil companies have surrendered their leases to the government, probably because they don't think it is possible to produce it in commercial quantities at a reasonable cost.

Both "oil shale" and "shale oil" are misnomers, and they don't mean the same thing, so it would help clarify the situation if nobody used either of them.

Can't some authority ban the term "oil shale" and mandate that term "kerogen shale" should be used instead? It would save a lot of misunderstanding.

I personally think that the problem is with the USGS. They published a 2010 assessment report on the "oil shales" and consistently referred to the deposits as "oil bearing" without ever explaining the meaning. That had to be deliberate. You would think that in a 162 page detailed report they would have at least once reported that the "oil bearing" deposits were not actually oil - but I could not find such an admission.

The casual reader (and most journalists are very casual readers) would have to assume that the 1.4 trillion barrels of "oil-in-place" (their words) was actually oil waiting to be drilled.

In a way these assumptions have helped underpin the movement against global warming (that is, we'll have to give up oil anyway since it's running out, so we might as well make the best of a bad lot and embrace electric cars and wind farms and save the planet from climate change while we're at it).

This paragraph doesn't even make any sense. Surely these "assumptions" underpin the case for global warming.

I believe what is meant is that said assumptions underpin the case for global warming, which buttresses the movement against global warming. Darn confusing is English...

It really was a category error. What we do (or don't do) to mitigate global warming *OUGHT* to have no effect on the determination of the correctness of the theory. Of course potential mitigation responses generate political actions by some actors, one of which is to try to discredit the theory.

This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put. ~Attributed to Winston Churchill :-)

True enough, but the science and the mitigations are now so thoroughly conflated that it's just hard to see them being un-conflated ever again. After all, we have some of the scientists claiming that one or another suspiciously round number of Celsius degrees is a magic threshold which, if even slightly exceeded, will cause TEOTWAWKI, so that the politicians must act hastily and with utter disregard for the cost or consequences. And we have some of the politicians, who do count costs, returning the favor by bashing the scientists.

[Oh, I was forgetting: no matter how draconian the effects on the general public of acting or not acting might turn out to be, we can surely expect that both the politicians and the prominent scientists will still be flying here, flying there, and flying everywhere, at limitless expense, whenever and wherever they happen to feel like it.]

After all, we have some of the scientists claiming that one or another suspiciously round number of Celsius degrees is a magic threshold which, if even slightly exceeded, will cause TEOTWAWKI, so that the politicians must act hastily and with utter disregard for the cost or consequences.

Citation please. That sounds like a suspiciously unscientific statement!

Cramer Looks at Nat Gas Plays. Compares CHK to Dept Stores,
What you say? Simply Brilliant ?:-) http://www.cnbc.com/id/46641289
Perhaps the solar storms are having an effect!

I really cannot understand how this goon has evaded the men in long white coats and isn't in a padded room somewhere making models out of matchsticks. This is what passes for a serious analyst!!??


It gets really good at about 2 min's.....enjoy!

In late February I drove from the VA Blue Ridge to the Adirondacks in northern NY. I thought I'd share some observations. This is a route I've often travelled (basically I-81), and I grew up in the Adks. As we all know, winter has been all but non-existent in the US this year. But observing this first hand was eye-opening. Whereas in past years I'd have encountered the snow line somewhere in PA (sometimes further south) or at the very least upon entering NY's southern tier, this year, there was effectively no snow line. There were smatterings and scatterings of snow on shady northeast slopes in the Poconos & Catskills, but no real snow cover until the Adirondacks themselves, and then barely. The only thing remotely resembling a snowbank was on the road up the mountain to my family homestead, and even that, at less than a foot, was nothing we'd have considered a snowbank in the past, which were typically 3-6 feet, and stayed that way all winter.

There was no ice on any moving water all the way up through the Susquehanna watershed, nor on the Mohawk River. Lake George, on which in the 60's & 70's the municipal snowplows (what, ten tons?) used to plow tracks on the ice for car & motorcycle races, was open water. Records have been kept on the freeze/thaw dates of this iconic lake for more than a century. Those dates have been growing steadily later/earlier, and seasons of at least some open water have grown common starting in the 90's. But this year, essentially no ice.

This is a region that used to have winter temps averaging near zero at night, with 20-30 below readings common. Now, winter nights are in the teens/20's, and single digits occur only about as often as those -20 readings used to. Below zero nights are now rare. It was eerie seeing grass and bare earth where in the past there would have been anywhere from 18-48 inches of snow cover. And old-timers (I guess at 50 I'm getting to be one) would have considered 18” to have been an easy winter. To be clear, annual snowfall here averaged 80-120” - I'm talking about snowpack depth in the valleys where people live. This year, there's been perhaps 20” of snowfall, more in some parts, but those are parts that used to average 150+. IMO, we are clearly now in the Anthropocene. What that means here is a completely new way of life, complete with ticks and other pests that used to be kept at bay by winter temps – but no longer.

I'm an old Adirondack boy(Wells)now living in Jersey, but still have place up there. Brother still lives there. Bang on everything Clif says.

Thanks for your report, cliffman. Here in the West, we are crucially dependent on snowpack melt for municipal and agricultural water supply, and energy generation. How dependent on snowmelt is the region you described? The current Drought Monitor doesn't display any shortfall in ground moisture, but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem.

U.S. Climate Report for February and Winter

The average contiguous U.S. temperature during the December-February period was 36.8 degrees F, 3.9 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average — the warmest since 2000. The precipitation averaged across the nation was 5.70 inches, 0.78 inch below the long-term average.

Feb. Record Breakers

Last Saturday, the national high temp was 95 at Fullerton, CA. Yesterday here on the Oregon coast we had snowfall, but no accumulation, and tomorrow our predicted high is supposed to reach 65. Snowlevels over the past 6 weeks have averaged much lower than the 6 weeks prior and have yo-yoed in a manner I haven't seen before. And we're just starting our trip into the Climate Calamity's Time Tunnel.

There's not much agriculture in the Adks, nor in the Northeast in general, and it is generally a wet region, so there's not much dependence on snowpack for water. But that doesn't mean there aren't consequences of our having shifted the climate, beyond the obvious and superfluous impact on winter sports - skiing and snowmobiling are big parts of the otherwise very weak winter economy hereabouts. One main reason I don't live here any longer is that seasonal unemployment in the core of the Adks ranges from 25-40% in 'normal' times. Decent full time jobs are hard to come by. Climate change is unlikely to help that. But that's not what concerns me, really. It's the unknown unknowns - which critters and plants can't adapt, and what ecological impacts that causes - that bothers me more. As others have said, we are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on our one life source - planet Earth.

Personal observations are great ways to have conversations about the amazing times we live in -- aka the anthropocene.

My parents can't accept AGW theory. I like to tell them (and ask them to remember) the two times I lived up in DC.

In the early 90s, there was ice down on the river every year (4 years in a row, sometimes more than others, of course).
I got stationed back up there and lived there again in 2007. No ice in the river the whole time I was there on the second hitch 3 years and some change.

I know, I know, is that really a "climate observation"? Maybe not. But it's something they can relate to.

I spent winter '84/'85 working in DC. Potomac froze completely over. Just another observation, but I doubt we'll see that again any time soon.

And one more Adirondack observation to add, which occurred after I wrote my comment above this morning. I watched a flock of geese flying northward overhead. This is something I used to observe while trout fishing in May. Two months early those birds. I wished them well...

Changes at the edge, like ice never appearing on rivers that used to ice over consistently, although not necessarily every year, are good observations, IMHO.

For another data point, it is said that they used to skid mining equipment weighing many tons over the ice on the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. It has been over a decade since the river iced over completely even an inch, let alone with ice over a foot thick.

Re: The Peak Oil Crisis: East Coast Refineries Redux

Wouldn't it be just wonderful if the US Congress could agree that those refineries should become the property of the USDOD? That way, the military types could have all the oil products they would need when it comes time to invade Iran, oil which could be imported from our "friends" in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Oh wait a minute, that would be SOCIALISM...8-{

E. Swanson

Dog - I'm not sure the DOD would want them. As I understand it more than 500 million bbls of the SPR is reserved for the DOD. Additionally, the main global supplier of fuel for the DOD is BP and not domestic refiners. IOW if correct the DOD isn't worried about the supply line. Us, OTOH.....

Re : " 'The Long Emergency' long on alarmism, short on solution "

From the reviewer : "I didn't get quite that far in the book because it got too depressing.
There's no uplift. There's no call to action....

...So after a fitful night of sleep, imagining the end of modern life as we've come to know it, I chose to stop worrying. Science, as it has so many times before, will come through for us in the end. If it doesn't, there's little I can do about it, and I'm not about to start hoarding canned goods in my basement."

That's an interesting and revealing commentary.

I'm generalizing, I know, but most people want to have the silver bullet, or they just throw up their hands and do nothing. They don't want to have to do the hard work of reorganizing life as we know it. This view is probably one fostered by TV and Hollywood movies - the hero with the nuke gets to stop the asteroid/prevent the tectonic plate shifting/block up the supervolcano etc etc.

What I find most interesting is that solutions are everywhere if one just chooses to think things through, or look for them. I think it's sad that people are, apparently, completely incapable of thinking for themselves. And even if one presents solutions, people just don't bother. Shrug it off. Too much trouble.

st, we apparently posted at the same time.

Yes, this supposed book review by someone who admits to not actually reading the whole book tells us much more about the "reviewer's" state of mind than either the book or the state of the world. No attempt to refute any of K's points with evidence or to point out internal contradictions. Just an emotional reaction to the message, the prose, and the technical details.

It is a truly pathetic piece, but you are right that it is probably quite an accurate mirror into the minds of most who even try to venture into looking into the any of the actual predicaments we are facing.

Oh, but the scientists are going to swoop in and save us at the last minute, so we can all go back to sleep! Why didn't I think of that? /sarc

The tone of the review pretty well validates JHK's point of view; that whatever steps that could/can be taken, won't be on any scale that matters. This is one of the sources of my doomer id, that a majority of folks I have contact with will march lock-step over a cliff rather than make meaningful changes. Maybe they plan to just change the channel (or stop reading the book as in the reviewer's case) when the time comes.

" You won't read that book again ever
Because the ending's just to hard to take..."

[apologies to Mr. Lightfoot]

Love that GL song:


But, much as I like him, I have to admit my preference for this slightly more revved-up version:


"The tone of the review pretty well validates JHK's point of view"

That's what struck me, too.


This song is also informative on the subject. I agree with everything. Especially the stuff he want us to do.

dohboi - Whenever I read about various attitudes re: folks either accepting or denying the reality of a potentially bad situation I'm reminded of a story about a young Marine. Pinned down under heavy fire in the delta he decided he wasn't going to make it out. Said he developed a strange sense of calm and sat back and waited for the inevitable. But when TSHTF big time he realized his "calm" state of my mind was one big pile of BS. Instead of accepting his fate he did everything/anything to survive. And more by luck than anything else he did survive. Pretty much changed his attitude for the rest of his life about what one could accomplish if they really tried.
I suspect if PO ever does push us into such a desperate situation many folks who thought they would just accept their fate or wait for a "savior" won't do either. They'll scrape and claw their way towards any hope of maintaining BAU. Hopefully we never reach that level of desperation. But time will tell.

Good point.

Really, none of us actually know how to respond to the enormity of what is upon us (except perhaps for a few of the wisest of those on this thread? '-). Anger, resignation, personal prepping, community building...I vacillate between these and a few other emotions/reactions, sometime all within the space of a day or shorter. So I guess I really shouldn't be throwing stones at others' reactions. It still seems me as rather below par for a book review.

Accepting the PO problem might lead to mental depression. When I first became aware of PO 2 years age, that's what happened to me. At the same time my state of mind was made worse by deaths in my family. I decided I might be seeing things such as PO in a negative light because of depression. I'm mentally better now, but I still believe PO in inevitable - within a few years - and there will be turmoil for years to come.

You are not lone. I had my period of depression. Then after it passed away I got into life with another attitude. I am sort of separated from this world in a budhist kind of way. If I knowit is all going away, you change your values. Interestingly, I feel much freer than before. I am unemployed currently. Before thisknowledge, it would have worriedme, but nowwhen I know everybody will get unemployed, why would I care? Etc.

That scraping and clawing is unlikely to be towards a productive end. You can kind of already see it, the catch 22 for a store owner and population in a poor neighborhood. People steal because the price is too high and the price is too high partly because people steal. People do drugs because they feel hopeless and miserable, but they are even more hopeless and miserable because they do drugs. When someone breaks into another persons home and steals or rapes the woman/girl there it takes a further toll on those people whom are forced into that situation. The ironic thing is that those whom need security and assistance often don't get it and those whom don't really need it have it in abundance.

What people don't get is that the difference between them and us, say poor vs middle class vs rich is often a combination of luck and circumstance. There are always exceptions for people born of poverty and misery to rise above it all and they are often taken as examples that 'if he can do it, why can't you? Lazy bum'. Someone in say the projects in the U.S.A. are often no less trapped in their circumstances than say the people in *insert third world country*. They face the exact same relationship with TPTB, people with guns, people in gangs, poverty and they certainly have little choice to 'opt out' and go somewhere else.

What keeps the game running IMO is that people are particularly fond of their place in the pecking order, both globally and locally. People understand at some level for instance that if they couldn't go to Waly-Mart and be served by people getting paid 1/3rd to 1/4 of their wages then their standard of living would go down. A lot of people work off the idea that wife can go to work for $200 per day and they can pay $60 to the Nanny to look after the kids and do the housework. The middle classes are as utterly reliant upon the lower classes as much as the wealthy are utterly reliant upon skilled workers to produce much of their wealth. Nobody wants to rock this boat because in the back of their mind there is always someone poorer than them whom they would have to share their resources with.

With economics being on the daily news pretty much every night whenever they talk about the stock price or currency markets or oil prices a lot of people have a decent intuitive understanding on how the world works. If you're an older guy whom is reliant or near reliance upon government benefits and social security at some level you understand that if fewer people are born the Ponzi scheme supporting you falls over. You understand that the house which is worth $300,000 which you paid off could be worth only $200,000 if demand for housing falls. If you own shares and have a large financial portfolio then you understand that if the economy stops growing the price premium in expectation of that growth will evaporate and leave you significantly poorer relatively. The people who have the time to consider issues, I.E. wealthy and middle classes are the ones whom set the direction for governance.

People aren't good at making sacrifices. You could argue 'you should set aside X% of your wealth and buy a cheaper car, install solar panels and insulate your home' but then face the argument back 'but I already feel poorer, you want me to spend even more money on things which don't make me feel better when I have even less on buying these things? Are you crazy?'. To that you could argue 'Next year you'll be even poorer, you'll have even less money to invest in the future so you have to act now whilst the sacrifice is still less than what you can bear'. They'd argue back 'The economy is going to get better, we'll be wealthier in X years and the house prices will rise again so I will be able to make these changes then'. You stop arguing here because you know that if things stay the same, nothing will happen. If things get worse, people will be less able to and less willing to make changes. If things get better, people will feel that they can go out and spend the win-fall because the crisis has passed and they can breathe a sigh of relief.

But you're not including the kinds of points that he(?) was suggesting get added to Kunstler's book,

"...would have aimed for less alarmism and more activism. If you're going to freak me out, tell me what to do about it. A good editor may have pointed this out --- and sliced through Kunstler's leaden writing, which can get repetitive and technical."

There is a lot of cooperation and activism that we can be doing right this minute to be addressing various parts of these questions.

Dough Boy, I didn't like the Science comment either.. but I did appreciate that the author was hoping to hear more about community organizing and an appeal towards the many things we CAN be doing.. even if 'Science' might not be the best common-denominator for describing it, instead of leaving readers with the Stockpiles and Fortifications mindset.

There are far more constructive ways to approach the problem, but I usually feel that these wouldn't satisfy Kunstler's need for a proper sense of resentment and retaliation within his conclusions.

Having read Kunstler, he's really not in the business of making people feel good. Changing his book would be like trying to change his nature.

I feel for people who are trying to raise awareness without the sugarcoating - they are trying desperately to generate a sense of urgency. But apparently failing.

However, Kunstler is not without recommendations - rebuilding the railroads and relocalizing among them. Perhaps the reviewer missed that part, because he didn't like those suggestions.

Most difficult for the reviewer is probably the idea that "no combination of solar, wind and used french-fry oil" as Kunstler often says, will keep BAU going.

"Having read Kunstler, he's really not in the business of making people feel good. "

Not if it means misleading folks. He knows that we didn't get into this complex overshoot mess through careful planning and forethought, and it's highly unlikely that we'll get out of it through "careful planning and forethought". Some will adapt and some won't, but adaptation is a messy, unforgiving, unpredictable business. The Long Emergency isn't as much about where we're headed as about what we're likely to go through to get there; an awareness of what is is likely more useful than guessing/hoping/dreading what may be. What is is an industrial society in decline; the signs are obvious. What will be is anybody's guess. In that respect, Kunstler admits that The Long Emergency is just a novel. He's probably as amused as anyone (all the way to the bank) that folks try to make more of it than that.

Your book store has a nice selection of spiritual feel-good books for those so inclined.

Many good points. But when you get to "The Long Emergency is just a novel" you seem to be confusing TLE with "A World Made By Hand" or "The Witch of Hebron" which are novels. TLE is non-fiction (unless you are using the term 'novel' the way many of my students do to indicate any longish book).

Yep, the need to sugar-coat things--and the requirement to provide a "50 easy things you can do about X" at the end of every piece touching on anything like our current reality--is nearly ubiquitous in our current culture. It was actually K's uncompromising attitude on this that most attracted me to his writings early on.

This refusal to end on a happy, cheery note is also a (to me) attractive feature of the video "What a way to go":


When "End of Suburbia" came out on DVD, I showed it to a class I was teaching at the time, and more than one student complained that the movie shouldn't have told about the problem if it didn't provide a solution. For someone who's pretty much always had to solve her own problems, that attitude was a bit of a stumper for a few minutes. However, I think that attitude is not uncommon - people want someone else to manage all the problems so that the ending is always cheery, as though real life somehow is equivalent to fiction. That outloook is probably going to cause some problems along the way...

Good point, AWH

A similar dictum for politicians seems to prevail: Don't address a problem for which you don't have a ready solution.
Hence the exceptional reluctance of elected officials (assuming that they are even aware of PO) to address the evidence re. our long-term supply of liquid fuels.

Doomers come in many varieties, Knustler does indeed sound very repetitive after a point, parroting the same thing again and again. Of course it's a style that has it's followers but to many it doesn't appeal. I like Dmitri's presentation much better, it's to the point, detailed and subtle. I guess being an engineer makes a real difference.

I'm not sure why the reviewer believes JHK should have a solution to the long emergency. Sounds like your typical consumer, expecting a one size fits all solution neatly packaged ready to go, so they don't have to trouble themselves over it.

There are solutions as you say, albeit not scalable to save BAU. But people don't seem to want to do anything unless everyone else does too. Globalisation has created one gigantic herd of humans in the billions, which just mimic their peers. The "deus ex machina" in the form of the scientists is really the reviewer's simple expectation that he'll be told what to do. If no one tells them to head for the lifeboats they'll do nothing and go down with the ship.

The other thing I think people sometimes miss is that Kunstler is not saying "don't do solar, wind or used french fry oil", he is saying " we will find we are disappointed in what they can do for us".

I have a solar domestic hot water system. It certainly does heat water, but really not as well as natural gas, year round in my location.
I have a solar charger for my cell phone. It certainly does charge my cell phone, but takes much longer than using the electrical outlet.

Most (reputable) solar installers will tell you to reduce your consumption, and look for other ways to use less, before installing the solar, rather than trying to replicate one's fossil fuel usage with solar. It doesn't mean don't do solar or wind - just that one needs to reduce one's expectations of the number of energy slaves they provide.

I think it's sad that people are, apparently, completely incapable of thinking for themselves. And even if one presents solutions, people just don't bother. Shrug it off. Too much trouble.

It's called being spoiled by x number of decades in which std. of living was rising, physical effort required at a minimum, and luxuries abounded for so many. People cannot imagine working physically hard to produce a crop or wear much more clothing to stay warm in winter, or have a lack of tech toys to play with, or for that matter not being able to make endless empty phone calls whenever and wherever.

It's one thing to have always been poor and then continue to be at that level, but to have been rich (by most developed country's standards) and then become poor is another. But also to go from being sedentary to physically exerting oneself on a daily basis is the point where most people fold up like lawn chairs. Poor and manual labor? Most won't be able to make the transition.

From the pitiful-excuse-of-a-book-review of JHK's "Long Emergency" above:

"So after a fitful night of sleep, imagining the end of modern life as we've come to know it, I chose to stop worrying. Science, as it has so many times before, will come through for us in the end. If it doesn't, there's little I can do about it, and I'm not about to start hoarding canned goods in my basement."

Wow. Just wow.

"and I'm not about to start hoarding canned goods in my basement."
Said the grasshopper to the ant.

Thing that occurs to me is that it's yet another example of conflating science with technology - what he really means is that he's confident (or at least hopeful) that a techno-fix will ride in on a white horse to save our a$$es...

Problem is that science isn't just about fixes and technology. A hell of a lot of "science" has been done regarding resource constraints, population, carrying capacity etc. But that kind of science is all too convenient to ignore and dismiss with so much hand waving...

Well, the science may have already "come through for us in the end" by warning us in various forms for the past 4 or 5 decades that there are some really bad possibilities lurking in the not so distant future. Unfortunatey far too many people have chosen to dismiss the warnings based on that science (and attacked the science / message itself) in hopes that a more "favorable science" would lead us to the promised land.

Regarding the book review of The Long Emergency, the reviewer felt that it was "short on solutions". Actually, that was one of the explicit points in the book! The solutions we seem to be seeking, or into which we implicitly put our faith, just won't work. Sorry if the math upsets those seeking a happy ending, but that happy ending just doesn't add up.

That all depends on what you mean by happy.

Some folks aren't happy unless they can show everyone else that their happiness is a ruse, while others are happy enough to find a way to survive.

I think it takes a lot of Hubris to decide you know how 'it all adds up'..

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 2, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending March 2, 18 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 83.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging nearly 8.6 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.7 million barrels per day last week, down by 475 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, 766 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 576 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 171 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 0.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 345.7 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 0.4 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.3 million barrels per day, down by 6.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.4 million barrels per day, down by 7.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged nearly 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 7.6 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.1 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Giant new plant shows coal power isn't going away

Prairie State is the largest coal-fired power plant built in the United States in the last 30 years. [1,600 megawatts - $5 billion cost included $1 billion in pollution controls]

Prairie State shows why coal remains a choice option for some. What sets Prairie State apart from most other U.S. power plants is that it sits next to its own coal mine. The company figures it has enough coal to run the plant for 30 years, providing electricity for 2.5 million households.

"That's part of the genius. Our owners already own their fuel," spokeswoman Ashlie Kuehn said. "We're not subject to the market volatility of coal, or the transportation costs of bringing that in."

Startup announces big breakthrough for electric vehicle batteries

Now Envia Systems, a start-up based in Newark, Calif., has announced it has achieved a critical milestone: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with an "energy density" of 400 watt-hours per kilogram, the highest energy density known to be recorded.

When commercialized, Envia says the 400 wh/kg battery, with a range of 300 miles and a cost of about $25,000, will slash the price of electric vehicles and make them more affordable for mainstream consumers.

also http://enviasystems.com/announcement/

Is that 25 thou for the battery or the car? I have never bought a vehicle costing 25k. I always buy used with about 40 thousand miles on it for 10 thou or less. Let someone else suffer the loss in value via buying new.

$25000 just for the battery ... wheels extra.

Why keep comparing it to Gas Vehicles? There are other ways to look at what to value, while ICE costs are highly distorted.. There are also many ways to do the 'used car' thing with EVs, with all sorts of conversion kits showing up, and variants like Velomobiles. Different compromises, but in any case, it's like the Churchill line..

'We're entering a period of consequences..'

We can go 'Yeah, but - Yeah, but..' a whole lot, but there are decisions coming up. I'm not likely to be a New EV buyer.. I'll likely Convert or Build an E-scooter, Velo, etc.. But there will be a place for these new EV's.. probably starting with the early adopters being the well-heeled, as with most 'fresh-tech'.

EDIT: - The thing about an EV is that it is already almost definitively a flex-fuel creature (unless that has been intentionally constrained by a MFR) .. It's going to be eminently hackable, as an Electrical Circuit is not likely to Know or Care where those volts are coming from.. so if Batteries improve, you should be in a position to improve things, if you can track down sources of Power to charge from that get you off the Utility Rolls, the Charging Box doesn't care.

Toward the EU energy mix: State of the art of the strategic energy technologies

A new edition of the Strategic Energy Technologies review has been published. This "2011 Technology Map", produced by the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), provides a European and worldwide analysis of 15 low-carbon energy technologies, energy efficiency in industry, energy performance of buildings and electricity storage in the power sector.

The study describes the state of the art of the different technologies, current and estimated market penetration, barriers to their large-scale deployment, planned R&D efforts to overcome those barriers and reference values for their operational and economic performance. It provides data covering the whole spectrum of the energy system, allowing policy makers and the research community to identify potential opportunities and gaps to achieve the transition to a low-carbon society.

EU Study: http://setis.ec.europa.eu/about-setis/technology-map/2011_Technology_Map...

I stumbled across something recently. Hopefully one of our oil industry gurus can help me understand this:

I was looking at the EIA site trying to see what the history of US oil production looked like. I was suprised to see that between 1977 and 2009 the FRACTION of product attributed to lease condensate has risen from 25% to 48%. So while C&C has fallen 12% crude alone has fallen almost 40% and condensate has increased 67%. At the same time conventional natural gas production has also fallen. Where is all of this condensate coming from? I wondered if some of it might be from gas that had previously been flared. It seems to suggest that depletion of crude in the US is happening faster than a cursory glance would indicate.

(The EIA numbers only went back to 1977)

While living in Corpus Christi some years back, there was a major refinery project that was to make use of the flared off gasses. That would have been around 1988 - 1993 or so, as I recall. Maybe Valero did the project? That detail escapes my memory.


jj - I can offer one possible explanation. I drill deep conventional NG plays. But the condensate yield from different plays varies greatly from zero bbls of condensate to 200+ bbl per million cu ft. Naturally we lean towards the higher yields. I just completed a well in La that will do 2.5 million cf/day and 500 BOC/day....or a yield of 200 BOC/million cf.

Just like the companies drilling the oil rich shale plays the condensate yield makes a huge difference: at $2.80/mcf and $100/bbl that's $7,000/day from the NG and $50,000/day from the condensate. There are very few pure oil plays left to drill in the Gulf Coast so we're left with deep (15,000'+) and expensive ($6+ million) NG/condensate wells to drill. I won't try to guess what the percentage of the increase is coming from these plays but I suspect it's significant.


You're getting $100/bbl for condensate?

If so, why so high? It doesn't have the same total energy as a barrel of crude oil?


Condensate requires very little refining, and it's virtually all premium products (gasoline/diesel), so it gets a higher price.

aws - Actually more than that but I didn't want folks here to hate me even more. LOL. Right now I'm barging oil from SE Texas to Lake Charles, La. and getting paid at La. Sweet Light which is going for almost $110/bbl these days. We get some deduct but the refiners like our GC condensate...good yields and most important:SWEET! LOL. As I told folks a while back Gulf Coast operators don't want to see Keystone or any other p/l built that will get all that Canadian oil down here. That will just reduce our profits. Nothing personal...just business. LOL

So what everbody thinks of as crude oil is just over half crude oil and much less than half of the energy content.

Somehow that seems like a really big deal to me. If the predictions that fracked nat gas is going to bust and the known fact that conventional nat gas is declining are we looking at an even steeper cliff for liquid energy fall off?

jj - First, I wouldn't necessarily say that frac'd NG will "bust". If NG prices stay high enough the wells will be drilled. But a number of the public companies playing the shale gas trends will bust IMHO. Not all pubcos are equal: some can handle the lower ROR's and constant need to replace depleting wells and some can't. The current low NG price will increase that body count.

A big deal? Yes and no. Not only is crude valued differently based on its mix of product yield as well as compatibility (i.e. low sulfur) with the various refiners, but the BTU value of NG does vary a good bit. Thus the prices seen for NG typically represent the price for pure methane. In addition to reservoirs with high condensate yields the NG liquid yields vary a good bit. We get a split of that income from our NG buyer/processor as they run our NG through their recovery system..

OTOH the public can barely comprehend the very over simplified story. Thus IMHO those details aren't a big detail in trying to get the public to understand PO: IOW KISS IMHO.

There are very few pure oil plays left to drill in the Gulf Coast so we're left with deep (15,000'+) and expensive ($6+ million) NG/condensate wells to drill.

What will you do then these run out?

Flip the company before everyone else finds out? :-)

T-E: Exactly our biz plan. Either sell the production to another company or, depending on market conditions, go public and sell the company that way. Either way the same end plan: cash up and go to the house permanently.

karl - When our deep NG play is done I have one more project before I check out: recovery of oil from certain shallow fields in coastal Texas. Will use horizontal wells to recover oil left behind. I can prove the oil is there and that the hz wells will produce at a high rate (200 bop) INITIALLY. What I can't prove is the decline rate...no one has done this in the trend. Without solid evidence of the typical decline rate I can't calculate the ROR. Later this year I'll drill several pilot wells and produce for 4 to 6 months. If the decline rate is as good as I suspect it will prove up another 150+ locations to drill. There's over 2 billion bbls of stranded oil left in these fields. If my idea works we may recover as much as 10% of that oil.

After this last effort I'll be retired or dead. Either way it won't be my problem. LOL. I've mentioned it before: when I started in 1975 my first mentor explained PO to me in great detail. In the oil patch we call it the "reserve replacement problem"...not PO. But it's the same animal. So as my career comes to an end the worst aspects of RRP/PO may be just ahead of us. As with most aspects of life timing is everything.

I always had a theory that those who want to turn US Social Security, Military retirements, and other similar public pensions into "private" investment accounts were trying to do it so that several very large "BAU" type companies could be sold to them, float for a few years, then get to the house. Nothing like a few trillion infused into megacorps who are looking for a way out.

From NSIDC ...

February ice extent low in the Barents Sea, high in the Bering Sea

Arctic sea ice extent in February 2012 averaged 14.56 million square kilometers (5.62 million square miles). This is the fifth-lowest February ice extent in the 1979 to 2012 satellite data record, 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent.

... Including the year 2012, the linear rate of decline for February ice extent over the satellite record is 3.0% per decade. Based on the satellite record, through 2003, average February ice extent had never been lower than 15 million square kilometers (5.79 million square miles). February ice extent has not exceeded that mark eight out of the nine years since 2003.

Speculation Blamed for Global Food Price Weirdness

The link between commodity speculation and global food price weirdness just got stronger, and researchers warn that a new and potentially calamitous price bubble is imminent.

... In the new study, predictions made by the researchers’ original model are compared to actual food prices between March 2011 and January 2012. Placed on a graph, the lines match closely, and do so despite spanning a major change in price trends at the last bubble’s peak.

New Study: http://necsi.edu/research/social/foodprices/update/

"The food price bubble of 2011 caused widespread hunger and helped trigger the Arab spring. In 2013 we expect prices to be even higher and may lead to major social disruptions."

NECSI’s latest findings reveal that the model from their 2011 paper still fits food price price trends. Their update reveals one important shift, however, in price trends, which might add to, not lessen, global instability. "The current trend of prices suggests that in the immediate future market prices may become lower than equilibrium," says the study, "consistent with bubble and crash market oscillations."

"food bubble"? How about the "population bubble"?

Which brings up a good point: The buying and selling of people.

If politicians are bought and sold, why is there no commodity market? This could work to improve our lot. The price and availability of governance could be stabilized. The market would evaluate individual worth (unless high-speed trading sets in). If a bubble starts to grow, say with the prices of presidents much exceeding a billion dollars (the current purchase price, not including maintenance), the people could see this reflected in the daily indices and begin switching to alternatives before being negatively impacted by world-market forces, run-away speculation, and hording.

The Other Ticking Time Bomb in Europe: Auto Overcapacity

... Just as Europe has too much debt, it also has more automobile factories than the economy can support. The overcapacity is not exactly a secret, but judging from the talk at the Geneva auto show this week, a long-postponed reckoning with the problem is nigh.

“All of the car manufacturers have capacity problems — all of them,” Carlos Ghosn, head of the Nissan-Renault alliance, said in Geneva. The industry is just waiting for one company to make the first move, he said.

... the glut of capacity had forced European carmakers into a “discount binge” similar to what occurred in the United States in 2007 and 2008.

“You can’t keep that up for long,” Mr. Marchionne said. “You’ll go bankrupt.” That is, in fact, what happened to Chrysler and General Motors.

This 'over-capacity/discount' meme seems to support Stoneleigh's hypothesis of a deflationary economy.

What percentage of Euro auto production is consumed in the US? To what extent is the slow US economy creating that situation? What about the 'super patriotic' fervor to purchase American made automobiles? I know MBZ has a plant here so perhaps their Euro production stays at home. Just wondered how much of total Euro plant production winds up on this side of the pond.


Benz has a plant in Alabama making crossovers and next year making the C Class sedan here. VW has a
new plant in Tennesee making a midsize developed for the US market. BMW makes the X3 and X5 and X6
in South Carolina and exports 70% of its production.I know that figure sounds high but I have seen it confirmed by BMW. Bosch and Seimiens have parts plants here too. Gully.

Early this morning on the Today Programme – BBC Radio 4 The BBC's flagship radio news programme I heard these words.

“We are past peak when it comes to export volume . . . until 2005 we had increase in available imports, since 2005 we have had a strong decline in available imports”

Nearly choked on my marmite toastie!

Kjell Aleklett from ASPO talking about the high price of oil.

The message is emerging in the mainstream.

He said that:

Air traffic will decrease
Food will be more expensive
We will have a more divided society with a paradigm shift, especially in the young.


For those in the UK it is available on the iPlayer about 20 minutes in.


BBC iPlayer radio isn't restricted to the UK - only tv is. So that link should work for anyone.

I note they stuck it in the 6:20am slot before most of the show's listeners are awake but thanks for the link and 6:20am is better than nothing!

Cheers Undertow.

Yeah, it was early . . . I thought I was still asleep and dreaming!

I listened to it from Kjells blog. Fun to hear the radio guy try to pronounce his name. "Alkhelet" or something else as hard to transcribe.

Slowly it makes its way into the mainstream.

Emissions scheme helps poorer nations use clean energy

Somehow if villagers change from kerosene lamps to solar flashlights this will neutralise the impact of giant coal fired power stations in the first world. Don't think so. I think this both a delusion and a scam. Somewhere the CO2 savings get inflated by several orders of magnitude. It reeks of colonialism whereby the rich continue to enjoy profligate energy use while the poor stay where they belong at the bottom.

These 'clean development' or CDM offsets create opportunities for Enron style accounting. The carbon credit comes from using less than some presumed entitlement. Double the entitlement and voila you double the credit. I could have driven into town and bought a dead trees newspaper. That's my entitlement. Instead I'm reading TOD on the interwebs so that's my carbon credit.

To first order it works out. Someone pays a dollar for an offset, and a solar light recieves a subsidy. The purchaser of the light, uses less kerosene. At this point less CO2 was emitted. Of course it doesn't scale, once all the worlds poor have solar lights, you can't get any more offsets from that scheme. Where it breaks down, is if someone else purchases and burns the kerosene. The only true offset, leaves the carbon in the ground, and that requires either abandonment of the fossil fuel resource -or sequestration of the carbon after combustion.

A clear plastic bottle filled with water and a teaspoon of bleach makes a 'solar light'. A small opening is cut into the roof for the top of the bottle to be exposed to the outside light and the bottom of the bottle illuminates the inside living space. Enough light to make it work like a 60 watt bulb. The energy to make the bottle is the only carbon foot print. It works for the 'poor'.

A better offset. Give me a hundred dollars to offset a ton of carbon. I buy a ton of coal, and put in on a ship. When the ship is over a deep oceanic trench, the coal is shoveled overboard where it sinks to the bottom. So now, a ton of coal, is no longer within reach of people who would burn it.

Some coal [like some turds] floats ...

Density of Coal may vary, depends on the type (structure) and form. Below are some density of coal :

- Coal, Anthracite, solid 1.506 gr/ml
- Coal, Anthracite, broken 1.105 gr/ml
- Coal, Bituminous, solid 1.346 gr/ml
- Coal, Bituminous, broken 0.833 gr/ml which is less than sea water 1.025 gr/ml

I find Coal washed up on the beach around here. I wish it could talk.

Oil Rises for a Second Day on Signs Sanctions Against Iran Cutting Supply

Shipments from Iran have declined because sanctions are preventing the Islamic Republic from selling oil, Amrita Sen, an analyst at Barclays Capital in London, said yesterday by e-mail. Half of the tankers booked to load at the country’s largest terminal last month didn’t complete the voyages, according to brokers, company officials and ship-tracking data.


Am I understanding that right?
So, roughly the same amount of oil lost by Libya last year?


Influenza A (H3N2) [407]

Three hundred nineteen (78.4%) of the 407 viruses were characterized as A/Perth/16/2009-like, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere.
Eighty-eight viruses (21.6%) tested showed reduced titers with antiserum produced against A/Perth/16/2009.

H3 "Strain" In Maryland Death Cluster Remains Unclear

State health officials say today that lab tests confirm that two of the members of a Calvert County family who died early this week of severe respiratory illness had Influenza H3, a strain of the flu that has been going around this season.

The above comments confirm the Recombinomics commentary published this morning on the H3 sero-type of the HA from the fatal Calvert County, Maryland cluster. However it is unlikely to be the “strain” of flu that has been going around this season.

...As of this commentary, neither agency has responded to the e-mailed questions, and the relationship between the H3 in the death cluster, the low reactors reported by the CDC, and H3N2v remains unclear, but the likelihood that the H3 “strain” in the Maryland death cluster matches the seasonal H3N2 dominant in the US in 2011 and early 2012 is extremely small.

H5N1 activity appears to have picked up this year relative to last year too, I believe. Time will tell.

It apears spring maximum of the arctic floating ice occoured today. Wind drifted ice out towards the Berings Sea and south of there, renderng a sudden spike in ice extention. Since that wind must be over now, it is very unlikely the ice will grow beyond this point. I expect a confrmation of this within a few days.


In the discussion above of CME effects, it always good (bad?) to remember an additional effect that will happen if the grid is significantly damaged.

Why a Likely Natural Event Could Cause Nuclear Reactors to Melt Down and Our Grid to Crash

If just two serious nuclear disasters, spaced 25 years apart, could cause such horrendous environmental catastrophes, it is hard to imagine how we could ever hope to recover from hundreds of similar nuclear incidents occurring simultaneously across the planet.
The bad news is that even though panels of scientists and engineers have studied the problem, and the bipartisan congressional EMP commission has presented a list of specific recommendations to Congress, our leaders have yet to approve and implement a single significant preventative measure.
Unfortunately, the world's nuclear power plants are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and spent fuel rod storage pond fires.

Regarding a post Seraph put up in the last drumbeat and that Paul Nash commented on.

Even Dairy Farming Has a 1 Percent

So the farm should be more lucrative, right? Robert showed me exactly how much money he and his brother made last year, an unusually profitable one for the dairy industry. He asked me not to reveal the number, but let’s put it this way: Robert and Fred start work at 4:30 a.m., finish at 7 p.m. and trade Sundays off. If you divide their 2011 profit by their weekly hours, they earn considerably less than minimum wage. Unlike in their father’s day, they have little money left over to invest in new equipment. One of their computers runs on MS-DOS.

If you raise pigs in Sweden and sell them to buyers, you make a 5% profit. That is so little it is close to the same profit as having the money on a bank account. The food industry expect farmers to work for free, and give theirproduce away. They say there is no free meal, but there is. Farmers don't get payed for their work. Only expenditures are covered, but no profit is alowed.

And this differes from the medevialages because???

Every day a farm close down. We already have milk supply concerns. No one open up a new farm. When willbuyers start paying farmers for their work? Or are we gonna let our fields stay idleand import everything? This thing upsets me. Greatly.

AWS - your link just goes to the top of this drumbeat?

@ jedi,

When will buyers start paying the farmers for their work?

That's easy - when the "buyer" is actually the person that is going to eat the food, or at worst, the store/restaurant that will sell it to the consumer.

Today, we have large processors/wholesalers that dominate the market, keep the wholesale prices low and the retail prices high, and keep the difference.

The farmer's markets, and my local veg growers selling direct to the local supermarket, are an example of bypassing this whole circus. Yet (here, anyway), the farmer is NOT allowed to sell more than a miniscule amount of dairy/egg production at said markets or their farm gate.

There isn;t a commercial dairy, egg or poultry farm within 100km+ferry ride of where I live, but the quota system means that for there to be one, a local startup has to buy out someone from far away, and it ensures there is never any surplus to export

Instead It is exactly this sort of thing that is keeping the industry in the status quo - existing producers just getting by, wholesalers/processors making record profits, and customer paying higher prices (and thus cutting back).

The small/local veg industry is rapidly growing precisely because it doesn't have these bureaucratic restrictions.
It is time to do the same for poultry and dairy, and let local production happen, and the customers reconnect to said production.

The biggest losers are the big corporate players, and, like the big oil co's, no one will shed any tears for them.

Dairying and egg production have existed in many cultures for thousands of years, so I would call that sustainable. For all but 50-100 of those years, it has been without corporate control, quotas, etc. if we lose the quotas and corporations, people will, amazingly, still want to east milk, cheese and eggs, so i think the future role for the farmer is assured. It is the wholesalers who are at risk, and, not surprisingly, they are the staunchest supporters of the quota system. They have just managed to convince most farmers that somehow it is good for them too.

Sorry Paul,

Even Dairy Farming Has a 1 Percent

Essentially, in a highly unregulated market like the U.S., if you are not farming at a corporate scale you are going to be squeezed out.

Regarding your point, "The biggest losers are the big corporate players, and, like the big oil co's, no one will shed any tears for them".

As the article points out the big winners are, or will be, the big corporate players.

I agree that small local vegetable farming is growing, at least in my area (not rapidly though), but the food safety barriers to entry are lower, no abatoirs or cooling supply chain required.

I don't think corporate farming is good for communities and the environment and it probably won't work once energy constraints start to bite.

At least here in Canada we have real dairy farmers on the land making a living. And they likely are more invested in their community than corporate big Ag, if only because they live in their community.


I really have to take exception to your claim that dairy farmers live in the same community that buys their products. One of the unintended side effects of the quota system has been a concentration of milk quota in Quebec which is totally out of proportion with the population of Quebec. Other provinces which have experienced a large amount of population growth since the quota system was created would be quite capable of meeting their dairy needs locally if the milk quota was available to them. As it stands, Quebec produces 38% of the milk in Canada and exports 40% of what they produce. They also have 48% of the Market Share Quota (industrial milk). A lot of Canadians are consuming dairy products that have been trucked hundreds, or thousands of kilometers.

Yes, one gets the impression that the whole things has been set up for the benefit of Quebec...

For another province to produce more of their own - i.e. take market share away from Quebec - requires Federal approval.
What are the chances of that happening?

Quebec's dominance of the Canadian milk quota is a significant problem. For instance, Quebec has 23% of Canada's population but has 47.3% of the industrial milk quota. By contrast, Alberta now has 11% of the population but only has 6.3% of the milk quota, and British Columbia now has 13% of the population but has 4.6% of the quota.

If you do the math, as of the latest Canadian census, Alberta+BC have 24% of the Canadian population, while Quebec is down to 23%. The persistent westward drift of population in Canada more or less ensures that the situation will eventually blow up in the faces of the politicians, and the quota system will be voted out of existence, much to the distress of the opponents of free markets.

This is the problem when one voting group tries to "milk" the situation. {/pun}

I imagine that when the milk quota was established the proportion of the Canadian population living in Quebec was ~47%. So it was probably, though I am speculating, fairly distributed. Redistribution could take place, but it should respect the value of the quota. It's the only thing that has provided Dairy farmers any security. A security that most other farmers wish they had.

"much to the distress of the opponents of free markets"

Show me a true free market? I'd rather a secure food supply with farmers on the land interested in the long term stewardship of their pastures and fields, then the race to the lowest common denominator that deregulation has brought us.

The problem is that Quebec's proportion of the population is now only half as big as their share of the quota, so they would lose 50% of their quota in a fair redistribution. They are likely going to fight this to the bitter end. The people who find the quota system unfair may find it easier to abolish the quota system entirely rather than change the quotas. All it takes is a majority vote in Parliament.

At some point in the next few decades, BC's population will exceed that of Quebec, and at some point a few decades later, Alberta's population will exceed that of Quebec as well. At that point Quebec will be the fourth largest province and will find itself being outvoted, regardless of how hard it fights.

Andrew, thanks for the link, it is interesting reading.

The fact that (as is often the case) the US has done something the wrong way, doesn;t mean that we can;t do it the right way.

If we are all agreed that corporate farming is the real problem, then the solution that is to ban corporate farming. This is what Japan has done, the law there basically says "it is illegal for a corporation to engage in agriculture"

So, corporate problem solved, eh?

Now, in reality, it might not be that easy, so here's another way to go about it. If the problem is large farms, then we set the rules to limit herd size. We already have that with eggs, where the rule explicityly limit to 99hens before yoou are regulated and 399 before you have to buy quota. so then just set an upper limit of something.

That wasn't too hard either...

The cooling issue for milk is a non issue - doing proper storage on the farm can be be done, as can packaging, though, in reality, this is best done by a local co-op. neither option needs the quota system to survive.

Yes farmers are invested in their community because they live in it. But what about my community, where there are no (dairy) farmers anywhere near here. And they are not allowed to set up unless they buy out someone else far away. In other words, for someone to set up a dairy operation in my community, they must first do a massive transfer of wealth, to some other community that, as Jstewart points out, could be hundreds/thousands of miles away.

That is not investing in my local community, that is bleeding it.

The quota system creats and entrenches haves and have nots. Those communties that are the have nots, face a substantial barrier to becoming haves.

Given the provincial disparity Jstewart points out, I propose we use another Canadian mechanism to solve this.

We will have "milk equalisation." Just with with tax revenues, those provinces that produce a surplus must give some of that into a "pool" , and that is then *given* to the provinces that don't. This will ensure that all provinces have reasonable equal access to reasonably priced dairy.

Since Quebec is a firm backer of the tax equalisation principle, I am sure they will be a firm backer of this equally just dairy equalisation scheme.

And if they don;t like it, then they can take their milk and separate! (and we'll keep the cream!)

And just a follow up to my own comment.

Here is a link to a report on the status of the BC supply managed industries - it actually makes for interesting reading.


One of the things they look at is the change in farmgate price for these products compared to CPI. In all cases, over the last two decades, the farmgate price has been static, or grown at best by 50%, while the CPI has grown by 250%.

Figure 5. 13 illustrates that inflation in British Columbia has increased 3.2% per year since 1980 Over the same period, the price received by poultry producers for their production has increased 1.1% per year This implies that producer’s incomes from poultry production have not increased as fast as the province’s cost of living It also suggests that food price increases have mostly occurred further along the value chain, during processing, distribution and at retail

In other words, all the benefits of higher retail prices have gone to everyone BUT the famers.
It reads the same for all product sectors covered

It is interesting to note that the difference between retail the farmgate price is called the "value chain" rather than what it really is, "overhead".
And, of course, all increases in retail price have gone into "overhead" and not to the farmer.

So just how well, really, is this arrangement serving the farmers? Their prices are going backward in real terms, they can;t expand unless they buy quota from another producer. The report doesn't say what the quota sells for but you can bet is has been steadily increasing. As too have the profits of Saputo etc.

The whole arrangement favours corporate farms and processors, who just wait for the family farms to sell, as the next generation doesn't want in. And for a new outside family farm to start up is then too expensive because of the high quota and low commodity price.

Instead, what is need is zero quota and high commodity price - that would benefit the farmers, and that is how the wine industry works.

The existing system may give family famers what they think is a fair price, but clearly it isn't. It is locking them into a slow death spiral.

"what is need is zero quota and high commodity price"

You, RMG and I have disagreed before on the issue of supply management, and I will do my best to not re-hash old stuff.

But notice the inherent contradiction in your statement. Farmers of course dream of high commodity prices, and (unless their input costs have escalated higher than the commodity prices have increased) this would greatly alleviate the farm income prices.

But without management of supply (ie. some mechanism to ensure that surging commodity prices do not attract an escalation in production) there is no way to prevent a price collapse as farmers understandably jump on the latest high-profit sector.

"Milk went from a local industry to a national one, and then it became international.... But perhaps most of all, in the last decade, dairy products... became globally traded commodities."
Canadian dairy farmers have one significant disadvantage in the global dairy marketplace: we have a winter. While dairy cows in California, NZ and France can pasture year-round, most Cdn dairy farmers have to feed hay from Nov to May.

I agree with your point about lagging farmgate prices, even among the supply managed sectors. If nothing else, it negates the claims by some that Cdn consumers are being suckered into paying higher prices for milk, chicken, eggs & turkey in order to support a gravy train for supply-managed farmers.

My brother-in-law milks an organic herd just down the road from us. His experience would be more akin to the Fulpers: long hours at less than minimum wage.
His father (my late father-in-law) often cursed the existing situation, saying that if he simply put the money he had tied up in on-farm investment (the cows, field equipment, the land & buildings and yes, the quota) he would have a higher net income off the interest (this was in the mid-80s, when interest rates were higher than they are now) than he would busting his ass farming.
He had dairy, beef and sheep and often said that if it wasn't for his milk cheque (ie. the stability provided by supply management) he would have gone bankrupt years before.
Beef prices are always more down than up, and although lamb prices are usually much better, the abattoirs take much of it, and shearing is a losing proposition (it costs $5 to take off a fleece worth only $1).


You raise some fair points. The fundamental problem though is that all too often consumers only interest with respect to food is price. But, in the end a litre of milk really doesn't cost that much in Canada.

A zero quota won't guarantee a high commodity price. That said there are issues with handing the farm down to kids, or starting up a new farm. And for that matter starting up a farm to produce an organic product that is under supplied by conventional farming can be hampered by the requirements of the conventional producers. Does one really need to buy an egg quota to produce an organic egg, it was at one time a niche product (there is a pun there!). That said organic products are pretty mainstream now.

Anyway, I think deregulation or the elimination of the Dairy quota, will make things worse for farmers who are already farming. But we do need to find a way to lower the barriers to entry for young farmers, as today's farmers aren't young.


The Midwest Farm Crisis of the 1980s

Under Reagan, the family farm was destroyed and the land transferred to big operators like ADM. It is really funny to watch the family farm image now being used to sell "no estate tax", of value to the very rich wishing dynastic fortunes, to the working poor: the power of the complete historic amnesia as contrived in the news media.

America needs to reduce its dependence on oil

Our conversation on this subject seems to be like two ladies in rocking chairs on the porch commenting on the boy walking down the street who has a drug problem.

Detachment from reality.

But not only that, James Hansen says he has been censored by NASA in the past, from commenting on the dangers of ongoing global warming.

This censorship was the result of the demands of oil barons.

I noted copious references to the "Oil Baron Bush II." What do you think the odds are that the Republican primaries are being rigged for a draw, resulting in a brokered convention nominating Bush III (Jeb)? !

I've heard some convincing murmerings that such is under way from R's of my acquaintance, not all of whom approve. This would explain a lot about the Billionaires funding some rather quirky candidates.


I've had that thought too. It's beginning to smell a lot like N.Korea.

I noted copious references to the "Oil Baron Bush II." What do you think the odds are that the Republican primaries are being rigged for a draw, resulting in a brokered convention nominating Bush III (Jeb)? !

The odds are practically zero.

There is a US-wide map that allows one to project total votes for each candidate in remaining primaries. I did the math... no way did I come up with Mitt R. winning enough for nomination. So long as Santorum, Gingrich and Paul are all in the race, it is going to be brokered.

And, each of these has a certain strange base, some of which may fall off to Romney if that candidate dropped out.

I am hearing often enough on the CNN, MSNBC and Fox pseudo news shows, from R pundits, that name being bandied about. Odds are perhaps less than 50% (I think higher), but much more than zero.

I can think of many good reasons for this ploy. First and foremost is that Jebb Bush has not been ravaged by the primary process. Second, his views are unknown, and have not been vetted in public. Also, he was primary instigator in the great vote fraud in Florida in 2000! The oil guys want Bush. The money guys want Bush. Ergo: wait and see how likely this is. I'd say more likely than not.


Steven Colbert mused over this one, suggesting that 'The Trilogy needed it's Final Act, 'THE RETURN OF THE JEBI' ..

I've been very curious whether there is a Dark Horse being kept in the wings somewhere, while this distraction circus gets all the attention woefully misdirected.

The question I keep asking is, "If not Jeb, then who?"

Sorry... I don't have an answer. Except that the strategy is a good one from the standpoint of the R's.

Thus far they have presented the clowns. When will they get to the main attraction?


For a while they were talking up Christy (New Jersey governor), but I don't think his ballon looked floatable.

There's plenty of juice on your favorite Bush Party Member, along with a dazzling web of connections:


Jeb's Page:


I actually wonder if someone like Boehner or Cantor is being courted on the side, readied for an October surprise.

Brings the '3-days of the Condor' scene to mind,

Turner: Do we have plans?

Higgins: No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all. We play games. What if? How many men? What would it take? ..

Why get rid of the current office holder?

Not one head rolled. The war criminals Bush and Cheney walked. The O-man will, too.
None of the imperial powers recently accrued to the presidency were attenuated.
The financial wizards Bernanke and Geithner stayed in place.
The Bankster's got fined 26 billion, 1.5 in cash, after being given trillions. They don't even want your checking account anymore since they are getting their money for free now from the FED.
Glass-Steagal remains overturned.
No one went to jail in the financial fraud.
The SEC got higher speed porno connections. Just kidding. Their porno connections are the same.
Standard and Poors still gives ratings!
Bank of America et-al continue foreclosing on properties they no longer own.
Honduras and other cozy relationships still thrive, undisturbed.
The medical insurance system now has consumers held captive at gunpoint.
The military can now interdict citizen civilians on U.S. soil.
Civilian pilots can continue terminating civilian targets using military drones. (That's considered "murder" under "quaint" old rules.)
Guantanamo Bay detention camp continues undisturbed. (What they do there is considered "torture" under "quaint" old rules.)

What's not to love? Who really wants to lose against him, in public?


But the games must go on. Your plan might just make too much sense.

"You're in organized crime?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, we're not all that organized.."

What do you think the odds are that the Republican primaries are being rigged for a draw, resulting in a brokered convention nominating Bush III (Jeb)? !

Probably none, since he has said repeatedly he doesn't want to be president. However, what I find extremely fascinating is that someone that would never normally have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming president just may accomplish that task. I of course refer to Romney, who has zero charisma, has never experienced being short of money for bills and so has no connection whatsoever with regular people, flip-flops faster than buckwheat pancakes, and will be an even bigger champion of the super wealthy than bush jr.!

Yet, it is looking like he will win the R nomination, and then all it will take is some circumstance out of Obama's control, like high fuel prices causing a recession or Israel getting bombed because we weren't there to help out militarily and Romney's the next president.

But here's where it gets really weird! If you want a conspiracy theory here's a doosey: Nostradamus warned of a 3rd anti-Christ, Mabus. Well, Romney is a MAssachusetss BUSinessman, and Nostra said the people will elect a businessman. Nostra said he wouldn't have the appearance of an anti-Christ, which he doesn't. That he would come to power with an arrow on fire in 1999 - the olympics that Romney ran started with an arrow on fire shot to start the olympic torch. Nostra said something about the number 45. Romney would be the 45th president. He went on to say, "He will be the first to die in a war he starts." Well there are different types of wars, such as trade wars. Romney has been stumping on setting tough trade sanctions against China. What if they sent someone to assasinate Romney, he gets caught. Assasinating a president is an act of war if provacated by another country. Suddenly we are at war with China.

Hi, Earl. Don't know if I believe what Jeb said about not wanting to be President... mostly 'cause he's a politican LOL.

I don't want to get into the Nostradamus stuff... that's too far out for me. Homsoever, I would pose to you the question I asked above. If not Jeb, then who?

Romney won't make the cut... not enough states left that would give him more than 30%.

Trade sanctions w/ China might not be needed. We won't be able to import anything if our money is totally debased.

Enjoy reading your posts. Keep the faith, my friend.


edit: If Jeb is real slick, he'd say he doesn't want the job, and then "graciously" accept the nomination "in the better interest of the Nation, and against my desires." Not that I think for a minute a politician would have such devious thoughts. /sarc

"50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True"

Like all Seers, Prophets, Clairvoyants, Fortune-Tellers, Mediums and even the Bible they predict the past, never the future.
Nostradamus wrote poetic gibberish, his record is no better than the soothsayers, astrologers and TV preachers of today. James Randi is a Nostradamus scholar he wrote "The Mask of Nostradamus: The Prophecies of the World's Most Famous Seer". He shows there is nothing to the hype.

It is thinkable, but doable is another category.

The dust may not have settled enough to allow that yet.

I would bet, however, that a run for it is in our future.

I've heard this music before ...

Syrian Oil Official Defects

BEIRUT—Syria's deputy oil minister announced his defection in an online video that emerged Thursday, making him the highest ranking official to abandon President Bashar al-Assad's regime since the country's uprising erupted a year ago.

... In the video, Mr. Husameddine is shown wearing a suit and tie and sitting on a sofa at an undisclosed location, reading from a paper. "I, Abdo Husameddine, deputy oil and mineral resources minister, announce my defection from the regime and resignation from my post ... and declare that I am joining the dignified people's revolution," he said.

It's the same orchestra

As far as I can work out, the news that he had resigned in a video on Youtube was announced by western news agencies last night a few hours before the video was actually posted on Youtube. The initial reports didn't even have a link to the video on Youtube - that was added later. Video at http://youtu.be/QeRzHywKGCQ

From IEA ...Energy security: looking towards uncertainty

In the oil market, demand—driven by non-OECD economies— continues to grow, leading to declining oil stocks that could underpin stubbornly high prices in 2012. Demand estimates for 2012 are shrouded in economic uncertainty, and some outstanding supply risks remain, such as the timing of the restoration of full Libyan oil production. Tight oil markets do not respond well to even small shocks, so 2012 may turn out to be bumpy.

... Captain Ramius: Hey, Ryan, be careful what you shoot at. Most things in here don't react too well to bullets.

Shift to green energy sources could mean crunch in supply of scarce metals

A large-scale shift from coal-fired electric power plants and gasoline-fueled cars to wind turbines and electric vehicles could increase demand for two already-scarce metals — available almost exclusively in China — by 600-2,600 percent over the next 25 years, a new study has concluded. Published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, it points out that production of the two metals has been increasing by only a few percentage points per year.

Hey, ACS!

You guys anywhere near as concerned about the scarcity of some of the energy supplies that we dredge up and simply burn off, as opposed to those materials we can use and reuse, and don't just throw willy-nilly into our great Chemistry Experiment in the Air and Water?

Ahh.. that was snarky, and I do see that they are no doubt concerned about at least the Carbon issue.. but these headlines so often seem skewed to keep all of us and them ignoring that big ol' elephant that's only occasionally stepping on our toes in this little room.


Far from ignoring global warming or oil supply issues, this article is simply pointing out a major error in thinking by people who would say, "Who cares about energy problems? We can always just shift to renewables when the time comes."

..and aside from slick PR, which everybody I know is fully aware is 'Slick PR', I really don't know anyone who says that.

I think it's the kind of criticism of 'Green' that makes people waffle all the more and keep procrastinating on making personal decisions about dealing with their energy dependence. If people start using alternatives and have to face the issues about just how much AND how little you can expect to do with them, we'll be wiser all the sooner.. but when an article like this says 'Green Energy has a key problem..' but doesn't really put it in perspective against.. 'But FF energy has a far more imminent problem.' .. then they're really not showing the picture in ANY of it's necessary complexity. Just pitting it against the Carbon Issue makes it seem like (even tho' it's not) a 'good-intentions' choice, and not one that our basic daily functions hinge on entirely.

Essentially, I think they are the ones avoiding the point that says, 'No matter what, your energy situation is about to change dramatically. Do you WANT to be part of the choice in where that is to head? Because BAU won't be U any more...'

Whereever will I be able to plug my EV, electric bike, PHEV in? yep, We got way bigger issues.

1 Billion passenger vehicles and light trucks, 200 million straight and combo large trucks, countless; airplanes, transport ships, fishing vessels, ORV's, tractors, military vehicles, small engines and watercraft. Most all have proud 'owners with expectations'.

I really believe it could be shown ,by someone smarter than me, that the fuel tanks in the oil importing countries right now, times the life expectancy of the vehicles they are attached to have the capacity to more than consume the net avaliable exports the world will ever see.

Surely at any price those owners with expectations had when they aquired same. Yeah we'll figure out the plug in, bicycle, consolidation, conservation, walking thing.

The average car in the US goes something like 3000 hours before it is scrapped.

Assume 6000 hours ... the fuel tanks in the oil importing countries right now, times the life expectancy of the vehicles they are attached to have the capacity
OF xx% CNE ? - I believe that would make very interesting post. Road to HELL or not?

'Road to HELL or not?' Excellent.

Large trucks run longer and with less mpg but are fewer in number. Ratio in the US would be something like 2 for every five cars, SUV's and light trucks or about 25 million say 14,000 lbs. and greater. Some would go 1 million miles @ 5 mpg, others much less with better mileage. More miles when newer. So yeah sure give it 6000 hrs avg. (maybe more) with some trucks going up to 20000. And the more new tanks already in exporting countries are drawing that net down of course along with depleation. As we slide along more countries' 'fuel tanks' roll from export to import status. Yes it would be somewhat dynamic.

A lot would have to do with avg. est. lifespan of the fleet against the date when net exports really reached ,say 1/2, of import tank capacity. Seems with VMT dropping in OECD we are already getting there. But we could be talking at least 2025-30 on lifespan. I am no chartist but I do get that WT's notion of ELM being 'front loaded' means more of the total avaliable net gets eaten up sooner leaving less later. If we ran everything we have today to scrap against the high depletion part of the net export curve...

Anyway at some point it will literally be so and a sharp researcher could probably make a case for it already being true. If it is, would not suprise me.

"Yeah we'll figure out the plug in, bicycle, consolidation, conservation, walking thing."

I'm trying to tell if you're saying that with SARC or not.. but frankly, I think there ARE those who will figure it out, or already have, and MANY MORE who are on the fence, and being kept there with the FUD factor in articles as above ..and I don't say this was their intent.. just that they themselves don't see or say that FF constraints might well be a much bigger cliff-drop than Rare Earth Metals, and we're ALREADY racing towards it, so this warning bell sits quiet again.

It's, (as always) NOT to say that Green Energy can promise current BAU.. it's just that it IS an Energy Option that we should be applying, and it's scarce, component parts are at least not just burned through in the process, as are Coal, Oil, Topsoil and Gas, which actually deplete when they deplete.

Not at all. I probably need a :-/ Agreeing when the 'U' goes away then we'll have to figure it out. (as in, if you have really bought your last fuel tank, what's next?) Picking apart good mitigation frustrates me. It's different and it's LESS.

And I get what you are saying about the recoverability of some of the rare earths compared to where the carbon goes.

We'll just have to make do. Best to think about it beforehand and have some alternatives handy.

'SimCity' game rebuilt for age of climate change

Climate change is coming to SimCity. ... "It gets under your skin; exposes you to the idea of cause and effect and that choices you make have repercussions," she said.

"In 'SimCity' resources are finite, you struggle with decisions people are struggling with today in the real world and your decisions can have a global impact," Bradshaw said.

"Be a polluter and you are ultimately going to affect your friends' cities... Will you have the wealthiest, fittest, greenest city ever or the sludgiest, most yikes-worthy SimCity ever?"

Teaching systems-level thinking for the masses.

Will Wright, creator of Sim City, has said in interviews that he was inspired in part by his study of System Dynamics, especially the work of Jay Forrester and his book "Urban Dynamics".

The Replay Interviews Will Wright

I recall seeing one interview, unfortunately I don't have a link, where he said he considered using something more like the world model used in the book "Limits to Growth", but changed his mind because he thought it would be too depressing for the players to "lose" the game every time by hitting resource limits and watching their sim-world collapse.


Civilisation V should have this sort of thing in. If you don't manage to get to Alpha Centauri, you're left with keeping Earth spotless, lest you succumb to overpopulation and consumption leading to war and die off.

CP Railway shipping ND crude from new terminal

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has begun shipping rich Bakken crude to the Gulf Coast from a rail-loading facility under construction in western North Dakota.

Pasadena, Texas-based U.S. Development Group LLC is building the terminal near the ghost town of Van Hook, about a dozen miles south of New Town in southern Mountrail County.

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said the Calgary-based railroad has been moving small shipments of crude from the facility since last month.

U.S. Development Group spokeswoman Meg Martin said the facility is slated for completion this summer and will have the capacity to load 30 unit trains per month. The mile-long unit trains typically consist of up to 104 railcars, with each car containing about 650 barrels of crude.

Martin said Canadian Pacific is the only railroad using the facility and most of the shipments will be bound for U.S. Development's terminal in St. James, La., some 1,800 miles away. North Dakota surpassed Louisiana in 2009 as the fourth-largest oil-producing U.S. state.

So one train per day, with 104*650=67,600 barrels per day.

That is 1/8 th of the capacity of Keystone XL.

Not bad for just building a terminal and using rail lines that are already there...

An avoiding all the publicity, protests etc.

Somehow, I think we are going to see a lot more of this...

Yes, it's 1/8th the capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline, and it's nowhere near capacity. CP is moving 1 train per day out of North Dakota. A single-track rail line can handle 24 trains going each direction direction per day, so without double-tracking the line, CP could handle 1,624,400 barrels per day.

This is not the only rail line CP rail has in the Bakken area, and CP is not the only railroad operating there. Burlington Northern Santa Fe also has a lot of tracks there, and BNSF is a bigger railroad than CP. Warren Buffet owns it, and he is making a lot of money on his railroad these days.

For people who like railroads and have a lot of time on their hands, here is a video of a
BNSF Bakken oil unit train heading east out of Williston, North Dakota.

Great video.

I like the idea of shipping Oil by train - it would contain any problems to a limited number barrels as opposed to a leak in a pipe no-one discovers for long periods of time ...

Sick Alaska seal shows possible spread of disease

Federal scientists said Wednesday that a nearly bald, lethargic seal recovered from the southeast Alaska coast showed the same symptoms of a disease that sickened ringed seals and Pacific walrus on the state's north coast last year.

... The areas where the latest animal and the seals were found last year are separated by thousands of miles of water

Ocean crude-oil seepage taking toll on seabirds

A Los Angeles wildlife-rescue group says natural crude-oil seepage in the Santa Barbara Channel has led to an unusual number of seabirds coated in oil and tar.

The ocean-bottom leaks afflict birds every winter, but experts at the International Bird Rescue center in San Pedro say the numbers have climbed this year.

The regional rehabilitation center has treated 140 oily birds stranded on Southern California shores since Jan. 1.

From Aljazeera ... To the Last Drop (w/Video)

Residents of one Canadian town are engaged in a David and Goliath-style battle over the dirtiest oil project ever known.

The small town of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta is facing the consequences of being the first to witness the impact of the Tar Sands project, which may be the tipping point for oil development in Canada.

The local community has experienced a spike in cancer cases and dire studies have revealed the true consequences of "dirty oil".

Gripped in a Faustian pact with the American energy consumer, the Canadian government is doing everything it can to protect the dirtiest oil project ever known. In the following account, filmmaker Tom Radford describes witnessing a David and Goliath struggle.

As usual, the filmmakers are fudging the facts. They claim the Alberta Cancer Board said,

In recent years, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, Fort Chipewyan has experienced an unusually high rate of cancer.

What the Alberta Cancer Board actually said was,

An initial review of the Alberta Cancer Registry, the usual first step, did not confirm an increased incidence of cancer in Fort Chipewyan.

The community called for a further investigation, and after Dr. O’Connor submitted his list of cases in August 2007, a working group was formed to support the Alberta Cancer Board in doing a cluster investigation based on the guidelines of the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall findings

• The two cholangiocarcinomas in Fort Chipewyan were within the expected range.
• The cancer rate overall (51 cancers in 47 individuals) was higher than expected (39).
• Higher than expected numbers of cancers of the blood and lymphatic system, biliary tract cancers as a group, and soft tissue cancers were found.
• These findings were based on a small number of cases and could be due to chance, increased detection or increased risk in the community.

In other words, the Alberta Cancer Board said that they didn't find the cancers that were reported, and the sample size is too small to draw definite conclusions about other types of cancer, so further study is required.

Health authorities hate this kind of thing, because in small communities they often spend a lot of money doing "further studies", and then experience a statistical phenomenon called regression toward the mean - Which is to say the issue turns out to be a statistical fluke and goes away by itself.

Tax dollars at work ...

Afghan Air Force: Flying Drug Mules That Fuel Civil War

They’re not just illiterates who occasionally kill their American mentors. Afghanistan’s military also ferries drugs across the country in its U.S.-purchased aircraft.

At a cost of nearly $2 billion for two years’ worth of building the Afghan Air Force, the U.S. inadvertently purchased a more convenient mechanism for trafficking opium and weapons than Afghanistan’s drug lords were previously using. But it actually gets worse than that. The aerial trade in guns and drugs through the Afghan Air Force appears to be financing the rearmament of private militias hedging against the country’s implosion after the U.S. leaves.

In 1995 the former CIA Director of Afghan operation during the Soviet occupation (1979–1989), Mr. Charles Cogan, admitted sacrificing the drug war to fight the Cold War.

Our main mission was to do as much damage to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade," he told Australian television. "I don't think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes, but the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.

It was alleged by the Soviets on multiple occasions that American CIA agents were helping smuggle opium out of Afghanistan, either into the West, in order to raise money for the Afghan resistance or into the Soviet Union in order to weaken it through drug addiction. According to Alfred McCoy, the CIA supported various Afghan drug lords, for instance Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and others such as Haji Ayub Afridi.

In 2007, 92% of the heroin & opium on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion/yr.

Afghan opium kills around 100,000 people/yr globally.


FAA forecasts high air fares and more passengers

Air fares are likely to stay high throughout this decade, as passenger travel grows but airline capacity shrinks, according to a government forecast issued Thursday.

In its annual economic analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration said travelers won’t get much relief until airlines start getting more competition, which is years off. The FAA predicted that more airline mergers and consolidation will shrink the number of cities served and the number of flights available in the nation’s air travel network.

U.S. airline travel is expected to nearly double over the next 20 years, the FAA said, but in the near term, airline capacity will shrink.


Oil is ‘the fuel of the past,’ says President Obama

"we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices. Anybody who tells you otherwise either doesn't know what they're talking about or they aren't telling you the truth."


Hmmm.... From that same mouth a few days ago emerged the [paraphrased] words: we have a 100 year supply of natural gas, so don't worry be happy. I guess it's good we didn't listen as we already took the later advice you blockquoted coming from the same mouth.

When liars have lied too many times, they forget what lies they've already uttered.

And Auto Addiction is the "transit of the past"...
But of course we cannot be told that simple truth...
We have to waste $5 Billion on a new Auto Addicted Tappan Zee bridge, $7 Billion
on expanding the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway even as US auto mileage
declines, US auto ownership declines and the shining Chevy Volt sales are stalled.
After wasting $7.5 Billion on "Cash for Clunkers" which could have gone to Green Transit
systems which were axed all over the USA since 2008, now the Republicans and neoliberal Democrats are set for another waste of money trying to keep Auto Addiction running with
"alternate fueled cars" subsidy.

Why don't we just run the Trains??
Get our Transit to at least the level of Europe??

Mo. Senator wants to prepare for collapse of the federal government

Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield, Missouri , has introduced Senate Bill 861, which calls for the creation of a "Task Force on Government Continuity." The committee would be charged with creating an action plan that could be enacted in the event of a federal government shutdown.

Under Purgason's bill, the task force would be assigned to study the potential effects of a rapid decline of the U.S. dollar and the possibility of the state creating its own currency as an emergency substitute.

The committee would also make plans for coordinating the National Guard and for distributing food and energy


The reverse problem is, of course, "Does the federal government have a plan for the collapse of Missouri?" One would hope so since it seems considerably more likely than the collapse of the federal government.

Under most scenarios, if the federal government went down, it would take the Missouri government with it, and the people would be left with no functioning government at all. This is especially true of the money supply because I don't think Missouri keeps its own gold, foreign exchange reserves, or enough assets to issue money against.

Power-Profit Slide Threatens German Gas-Plant Closures

The biggest losses since at least 2009 from burning natural gas to generate electricity in Germany are threatening to provoke a wave of power-plant closures in Europe’s biggest economy.

As much as 6,400 megawatts, or 25 percent of the nation’s gas-plant capacity, will shut in the five years through 2015, according to Deutsche Bank AG. Companies may close as much as 10,000 megawatts of gas and coal stations by 2014, UBS AG said on Feb. 20. Statkraft SF, Norway’s biggest utility, supplied the last power from its Emden gas plant in Germany during freezing weather Feb. 14, the Oslo-based generator said last month.

The rising cost of gas linked to oil prices and the specter of Europe’s second recession in three years have combined to wipe out the returns from burning the fuel ...

At my time of reading this post photovoltaic in germany are generating 12,500 megawatts of electricity. ( link )

Security: UK 'Must Plan for Euro Collapse'

Ministers should draw up plans to deal with a break-up of the Eurozone "as a matter of urgency", a committee of MPs and peers has warned. The joint committee on the government's National Security Strategy (NSS) said the full or partial collapse of the single currency was "plausible".

"International economic problems could lead to our allies having to make considerable cuts to their defence spending, and to an increase in economic migrants between EU member states, and to domestic social or political unrest," it said.

In their wide-ranging report, the committee established to oversee the NSS and the National Security Council chaired by the prime minister, said Britain might also have to re-think its relationship with the US, ...

The committee said that in an era of "diminished resources", the UK would have to take on a more "partnership-dependent" role in world affairs.

Mar 8, 2012 - 1st Report - First review of the National Security Strategy

A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The National Security Strategy

National Security Strategy - Evidence

Looks like they're following the German Army Peak Oil playbook

The committee said that in an era of "diminished resources", the UK would have to take on a more "partnership-dependent" role in world affairs.

Code for you guys fight wars if you want, and maybe we will join you if we decide its in our best interest too. But no longer count on our involvement.

Just another sign of peak oil, as globalization moves towards localization. Next sign: Break up of EU.

I think the UK government needs to give a higher priority to a collapse in North Sea oil and gas production, since that is already underway and is going to drastically affect people's lifestyles in the UK. The UK government has seriously estimated the consequences of that.

The collapse of the Euro would be less important because the UK made the fortunate decision to retain its own currency, which it can do whatever it wants with. The collapse of the Euro would only mean a decline in the UK's export markets, but wouldn't directly affect the UK economy. The UK can manipulate its own currency to adjust to the changes. It is the Euro-zone countries that will be in trouble.

The problems with the US are somewhat third-hand and the UK could deal with them by paying less attention to the US than it historically has.

Peak Meat: U.S. Meat Consumption Falling

U.S. meat consumption has peaked. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that meat eating across the country fell from the 2004 high point of 184 pounds (83 kilograms) per person to 171 pounds in 2011. Early estimates for 2012 project a further reduction in American meat eating to 166 pounds, making for a 10 percent drop over the eight-year period. For a society that lives high on the food chain, this new trend could signal the end of meat’s mealtime dominance.

Smart move too.

Pink Slime Found In 70% Of Supermarket Ground Beef In ABC Investigation (VIDEO)


We've been grinding our own meat for years after a friend who's a supermarket butcher warned us about this stuff. He said that sometimes they have to air it out to reduce the ammonia smell. It used to be considered suitable only for pet food. Arff!

I never buy meat that has been rubed in spices. It is a sure sign it is old.

The Canadian Federal Election scandal is getting interesting...

Oliver dismisses 'unsavoury' election fraud allegations
Liberal Joe Volpe called 'sore loser' for raising concerns about campaign

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is calling allegations that Elections Canada rules were violated in his riding during the last election "unsavoury," and says he will co-operate with any investigation into the matter.

"We conducted a completely clean campaign in Eglinton-Lawrence. I was very pleased that we won by over 4,000 votes," Oliver told reporters at an event in St. John's on Thursday. "I have no idea what this is about."

Oliver said he first learned about the allegations Wednesday, when CBC News reported on evidence that unregistered voters got on the voters' list in Oliver's Toronto riding without providing an address, in violation of Elections Canada rules.

Asked earlier this week about allegations of dirty tricks in the riding during the election, Oliver called Volpe a “sore loser” and said there was no vote suppression by his side.

“Our objective was to increase voter turnout, and in that we succeeded admirably,” Oliver said.

You are a sore loser if you think electoral fraud is bad for democracy!

Oh Canada, how is it that we have descended this far.

China protests at India cotton export ban

India's move came after China had aggressively bought bales over the past year for a government reserve as a way of supporting domestic farm prices and buffering against price volatility.
By late January, China had bought as many as 5m bales of foreign cotton for the reserve which, along with its domestic purchases, made up 15 per cent of global cotton consumption in the current crop year, the US Department of Agriculture estimated.

One hundred and seventy billion: That is the number of economically recoverable barrels of oil the Canadian oil sands are estimated to hold.

Still, it's less than 5.5 years of world consumption - and while that's quite a lot, it's not really long-term.

And at what horrendous environmental cost?

Cargil - A valid point about the 5.5 year supply. But I think you also understand that number isn't really valid in one important sense IMHO. Haven't hit the point in a while so for new comers: the amount of proven reserves in the world has no bearing on PO directly. The 5.5 years of consumption, even if exactly correct, obviously won't be produced in 5.5 years. It will take many decades to recover. PO is about rate and not reserves. Rocky has offered some projections and if I recall correctly production may top out around 3 million bopd. That would represent less than 4% of current global production. But during those many decades needed to recover all that Canadian oil the situation will not be static. Other new production will come on line but depletion never sleeps. Certainly better to have the oil sands adding to the supply than not. But whether they have a significant impact of PO remains to be seen IMHO.

Yes, Canada is not going to supply the world with oil for 5.5 years and then suddenly run out. Most likely the supply will last for over 100 years at a much lower rate of production, which is to say it will never make a major difference to global production rates - except toward the end of that 100 years when everybody else will have run out of oil.

The "horrendous environmental cost" will be that Northern Alberta will end up looking a lot like the Midwestern US does now. The Midwest looked much like Northern Alberta before the white man came, cleared the trees, dug up minerals, and built cities. That's the ultimate fate of Northern Alberta, especially if you factor a little global warming into the situation.

Japan's unintended experiment in dealing with the loss of 30% of its nuclear generated power is enlightening. Other TODers may have data on Japan's increase in natural gas/oil
fueled electric power which should be added to the mix. But the impact of conservation is considerable! Note:
From the New York Times recent article

Japan has so far succeeded in avoiding shortages, thanks in part to a drastic conservation program that has involved turning off air-conditioning in the summer and office lights during the day.

This shows just what a huge impact conservation can have!