Drumbeat: March 9, 2012

Ohio: Hydraulic fracking led to earthquakes

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth, Ohio oil and gas regulators said Friday as they announced a series of tough new regulations for drillers.

Among the new regulations: Well operators must submit more comprehensive geological data when requesting a drill site, and the chemical makeup of all drilling wastewater must be tracked electronically.

Exxon CEO says more fracking rules hinder development

HOUSTON (Reuters) - State and local regulations in shale oil- and natural gas-rich plays across the United States provides sufficient oversight while adding federal layers hinders development, Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said on Friday.

Tillerson, addressing an audience of energy executives at the annual CERAWeek conference in Houston, said layers, complex regulatory professes in oil and gas development "has become an obstacle to getting anything done."

Exxon's CEO Tillerson: I don't see gas prices topping $5

Despite rising crude oil prices and threats to stability in the Middle East, the price of gas is unlikely to reach a national average as high as $5 per gallon in the near term, ExxonMobil’s Chief Executive Rex Tillerson told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Friday.

“As I look at just the supply and demand fundamentals, I would not expect prices to reach that level,” Tillerson told TODAY.

The Conundrum: David Owen Explains How Good Intentions Hurt the Environment

Owen’s core argument is not that we shouldn’t try to save the environment. Rather, he says that our focus on technological innovation, particularly efficiency, is misguided. He addresses problems inherent in several favored technologies and strategies, such as solar panels and buy-back programs for older, inefficient vehicles. What will happen if we make more-efficient, more-affordable cars? Owen says that the number of drivers worldwide will skyrocket. Since that “green” car would not be entirely without environmental consequences, the bump in car ownership and driving (since a fuel-efficient car would mean spending less on gas) would likely have a net negative effect.

Libya: Thousands protest against self-rule

BENGHAZI, Libya — Thousands of Libyans are protesting a move by eastern tribal leaders and militia commanders to create a self-ruled region in the oil-rich eastern part of the country.

Difference engine: Meet the meth drinkers

The alternative fuel that ethanol producers fear most, clean-burning methanol, is enjoying an unexpected resurgence—thanks to the vast supplies of natural gas discovered in shale deposits beneath West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and Oklahoma. Even if the reserves turn out to be only half as extensive as initially thought, many liken the handful of states where shale-based natural gas is currently being tapped by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling to Saudi Arabia. Already, natural gas has fallen to its lowest price in a decade, and is expected to stay there for decades to come.

Solyndra Critic’s Support for Carmaker Fails to Secure U.S. Loan

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a critic of U.S. Energy Department lending, failed to win the startup carmaker Carbon Motors Corp. a loan to develop fuel-efficient police cars.

Oil Price Distant From 1980s Agony When U.S. Income Adjusted

Oil at $110 a barrel is taking only half as big a bite out of Americans’ pocketbooks as it did in 1981, the last time Iranian shipments were disrupted.

The cost of a barrel of crude in the U.S., adjusted for total disposable income, was $107.92 in January of this year, compared with a peak of $213.44 in the same month in 1981, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the Energy and Commerce Departments. Oil consumption was 4.8 percent of income in 2010, compared with 9.7 percent in 1981, the data showed.

Crude Rises a Third Day on Fuel-Demand Outlook Amid Greek Swap, U.S. Jobs

Oil gained for a third day in New York on speculation that rising U.S. payroll numbers and an easing European debt crisis will spur demand for crude.

Futures climbed as much as 0.7 percent after Greece reached its target in the biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history. The U.S. probably added 210,000 jobs in February, according to a Bloomberg survey before a report today. Oil has increased this year on concern sanctions against Iran will lead to military conflict in the Middle East, where more than half the world’s crude reserves are located.

Gas prices must come down, consumers say

Consumers fretting about soaring gasoline prices say President Obama and Congress must act to keep them from rising further, a Gallup Poll finds.

An overwhelming number of consumers — 85% — say Obama and Congress should take "immediate" action to keep a lid on prices. After nearly four weeks of daily price increases, regular gasoline averages $3.76 a gallon nationwide.

What Makes Gasoline Prices Go Up?

On Wednesday, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Democrat who heads the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, went further and set out to detail what influences oil and gasoline prices in a speech. The speech by Mr. Bingaman, who is not seeking re-election, was a reprise of one last year in which he defended President Obama on the gasoline-price front.

China Jan oil demand up 5 pct on yr, off Dec peak

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's implied oil demand rose nearly 5 percent year-on-year in January, a touch below December's all-time record high, as refineries ramped up production and new processing facilities started up.

Reuters calculations, based on preli

OPEC pumps record volumes despite demand worry

(Reuters) - Europe's debt crisis and an oil price rally are the biggest threats to global oil demand this year, OPEC said on Friday, adding it was still pumping above its target despite a slide in Iranian production.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)retained its view that world oil demand will grow by 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year, unchanged from last month, but warned the weak pace of growth in developed economies could crimp global appetite for oil.

Ask Matt: Will rising oil prices kill the stock rally?

Higher gas prices, which for some consumers can easily amount to $80 a month or $1,000 a year, would be a "headwind to economic growth and job creation," Farr says. Such a hit is exactly what the economy doesn't need while still at the "genesis of a fragile recovery," Farr says. "We're still tied to oil."

But the bulls say consumers are in far better financial health than they were just five years ago and better able to withstand the shock at the pump. Furthermore, stocks are still relatively inexpensive on the price-to-earnings basis.

Gasoline Price Rise Seen in Refiner Yields at Six-Month Low: India Credit

Bonds of Indian Oil Corp. are rallying, driving yields to the lowest in almost six months, on speculation the government will reduce subsidies and allow fuel prices to rise.

Exxon CEO: High Gasoline Prices Due To Iran Fears - NBC

Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson on Friday laid blame for the recent climb in U.S. retail gasoline prices squarely on tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program.

"What has led to the recent run-up is the raising of rhetoric" over Iran, the executive said in an interview broadcast on the NBC television network.

War for No Oil

Stop blaming oil speculators and start listening to them: A war with Iran would devastate the economy.

Shell To Stop Buying Iranian Crude Ahead Of EU Embargo

SINGAPORE – European oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.LN) will stop buying crude oil from Iran ahead of July 1, when a European Union embargo of Iranian oil takes effect, a company spokesman said Friday.

Global Insurers Are Targeted in Latest U.S. Bid to Expand Iran Sanctions

U.S. lawmakers are targeting global insurers as they seek to expand sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy and forcing its leaders to make concessions involving the country’s disputed nuclear program.

Iraq Starts Oil Exports From New Floating Terminal - Official

Iraq has started crude oil exports from a new floating terminal at a rate ranging between 240,000-600,000 barrels a day, a senior Iraqi oil official said Friday.

The official, who is from the country's largest oil firm the South Oil Co., said loading began at around 1245 local time Thursday at a rate ranging between 10,000-25,000 barrels an hour.

Iraq Sets Deadline for ExxonMobil

Iraq has set a deadline of the next few days for Exxon Mobil to explain its position on oil agreements signed with the autonomous Kurdish region, which the central government considers illegal, a government spokesman said. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced in November the signing of a deal for six exploration blocks with Exxon, the first major oil company to deal directly with the Kurds in northern Iraq.

No Blood for Oil?

Before, during, and, ironically enough, ​after​ the United States' invasion of Iraq, those asserting the U.S. crossed swords with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Army, sacrificed economic capital, overthrew the totalitarian dictator, maintained a temporary presence there, and most importantly, allowed over some 4,000 troops and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians to die for for the black gold: oil.

Although some may compare this post to flogging a dead horse, to this day, one still hears this fallacious claim made so frequently that it's difficult for one not to address it.

U.N., Chinese envoys work for peace in Syria as deaths mount

(CNN) -- As violence raged in Syria on Friday, China and the United Nations kicked off diplomatic initiatives to end the government's nearly year-old bloody crackdown against opponents of its regime.

China is sending an envoy to the Middle East and Europe to push for a "fair solution" in Syria. This comes after China unveiled a peace plan calling for dialogue between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

ExxonMobil admits 2012 output will fall

Exxon Mobil has admitted it expects its output to drop 3% this year, although the supermajor insists production will still grow by an average of 1% to 2% a year over the next five years.

Petrobras well confirms Northeast Tupi field

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said in a filing on Friday it struck good quality subsalt oil from a well in the Nordeste de Tupi area, which was part of 5-billion-barrel oil-for-shares swap with the government in 2010.

Barrelling down the wrong track

To mix the favourite metaphors of the departments of transport and energy, transport is the heartbeat of the economy, but energy is the lifeblood. Transport in South Africa is overwhelmingly dependent on liquid petroleum fuels. Petrol, diesel, jet fuel and heavy fuel oil provide 98% of the energy used by the transport sector and electricity contributes the rest.

Doom Is (Not) Coming

Long-term forecasts are rarely sunny or even middling. In fact, they’re often fairly dystopian: Peak oil, peak gas, peak water, peak food, mass hysteria, zombie apocalypse.

Yet, to believe such specific long-term forecasts, you must believe that, now, folks have the never-before-seen ability and technology to accurately make long-term forecasts based on far distant supply pressures, unknowable future innovations and myriad other factors in the complex beast that is the global economy. Consider just one example: The (always moving) Peak Oil date certain has come and gone many, many times. Why? Extracting from easy-to-find conventional sources may slow. But there was just no way for folks in the 1950s to know that, 60 years later, we’d still be finding caches of oil (and natural gas) and innovating new ways to get at said energy sources more cheaply. Every decade, the world consumes more energy, yet every decade, the known energy reserves increase. Amazing.

Obama Avoids Keystone Pipeline Confrontation With Lobbying of Democrats

Obama lobbied wavering Senate Democrats before yesterday’s vote. He urged them to reject an amendment to legislation funding transportation projects that would have overturned his administration’s decision to deny a permit for the pipeline until an alternative route was proposed to bypass an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska.

The measure failed to pass on a 56-42 vote. Sixty votes were required to advance the amendment.

Another Keystone XL Victory

Today was... quite a day. The bell that people struck last August when they sat in at the White House to block the Keystone Pipeline was still resonating. Not loudly -- the oil money in Congress muffled the sound. But loudly enough that we squeaked through by a 4-Senator margin, defeating a Republican amendment mandating the pipeline's construction.

Dow Chemical Chief Wants To Limit U.S. LNG Exports

Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical, spoke today at the CERAweek conference in Houston about the impact that America’s newfound wealth of shale gas is having on his business and how it can drive growth across the nation. He urged the U.S. to set a national energy policy that limits exports of gas in the form of LNG.

Shell Executive confident drilling in Alaskan Arctic will begin this summer

HOUSTON – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) remains confident it will be able to start exploring for oil in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska this summer, the company's Executive Vice President for Exploration David Lawrence said.

Japan’s Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown, at Least for Now

OHI, Japan — All but two of Japan’s 54 commercial reactors have gone offline since the nuclear disaster a year ago, after the earthquake and tsunami, and it is not clear when they can be restarted. With the last operating reactor scheduled to be idled as soon as next month, Japan — once one of the world’s leaders in atomic energy — will have at least temporarily shut down an industry that once generated a third of its electricity.

Japan barely improves nuclear regulatory system

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Right after three reactors in northeastern Japan sank into meltdowns, the government vowed to sever the cozy relations between the nuclear industry and its regulators. One year later, it has yet to even appoint committee members to scrutinize the "revolving door" of officials landing jobs in the very industries they regulate.

Japan's tsunami a year later: Ogatsu fights for a future

The jagged and beautiful Sanriku coastline had long drawn tourists here to this region, but the destruction and fears of radiation mean that kind of business may be lacking for a long time. The long, narrow inlets that offer such awesome scenery also proved deadly. Tsunami researchers from Tohoku University say the indented coastline intensified the force of waves and made them equally powerful on their retreat.

Fewer than 1,000 Ogatsu residents remain out of a population of 4,300, the rest either dead or scattered across Japan. Its hospital, bank, shops, gas stations and schools are no more. Uncertainty stalks its leveled streets, where three-quarters of homes were destroyed, but so does a stubborn will to rebuild where the government forbids, and keep the community alive.

One year after disaster at Fukushima nuclear plant, town remains frozen in time

It’s what an insurance company might call “a write-off” – a place that seems beyond salvation, and certainly too expensive to fix. I’d never thought of land that way. You smash up a car, and then it’s compacted into a square and maybe even recycled. Finito. But land?

Last year, Japan’s disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant contaminated the land around it so badly that the area was effectively a write-off. It’s been excised from terra cognita, uninhabitable, unwanted. Today the radiation-infected area is known by a name Ray Bradbury would like: “the exclusion zone.”

Green light for nuclear plant preparation

Abu Dhabi's nuclear energy company has been granted permission to prepare the groundwork for the Arab world's first nuclear reactors as it races to meet a 2017 deadline.

Consumer Reports' brand-new Fisker Karma dies

A six-figure Fisker Karma electrified sedan broke during Consumer Reports check-in period, before the magazine even could begin testing it, delivering another black eye to the struggling automaker.

The anatomy of US energy subsidies

Renewable energy received the majority of US energy subsidies according to new, independent figures published this week, but look beyond the report’s headline, and a different story emerges.

USA TODAY review uncovers support for energy loans

WASHINGTON – Republican members of Congress investigating federal loan guarantees to now-bankrupt energy companies told Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week that they never asked him to speed up similar projects in their states.

But that's exactly what some did, according to a review of 484 congressional support letters obtained by USA TODAY. Some letters, for example, urged quick approval of a $2 billion loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge, a uranium enrichment project projected to create hundreds of jobs in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

What caused Solyndra, a leading American solar panel maker, to fail last fall and what are the implications for U.S. alternative energy industries?

Part of what made Solyndra’s technology so promising was its low cost compared to traditional photovoltaic panels that relied on once costlier silicon.

“When Solyndra launched, processed silicon was selling at historic highs, which made CIGS a cheaper option,” reports Rachel Swaby in Wired Magazine. “But silicon producers overreacted to the price run-up and flooded the market.”

The result was that silicon prices dropped 90 percent, eliminating CIGS’ initial price advantage.

Solar Suppliers’ First-in-Decade Sales Drop to Feed Glut

Fewer solar panels will be installed this year as the first drop in more than a decade worsens a glut of the unsold devices that’s already slashed margins at the top five manufacturers, an analyst survey showed.

Zombies chase down couch potatoes and the unprepared

How did zombies become the go-to mascots for health, safety and emergency preparedness?

Blame the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ever since the CDC started its tongue-through-cheek "zombie preparedness" campaign a few months back (because if you can prepare for a zombie apocalypse, you can also prepare for a hurricane, earthquake or pandemic), it seems everyone wants a piece of the undead.

Controversy Tests Bold Freeway Project

To critics of the public-private partnership, the Presidio Parkway is an affront to the legacy of the New Deal: a chance for private industry to profit at the public’s expense. But to supporters, tapping the private sector to invest in public infrastructure is a necessity as California struggles with enormous budget shortfalls.

What are Honesty Boxes?

It pays to be honest, and this meager-looking honesty box in the Catlins village of Niagara generates $5,000 a year, according to its owner. Some small farmers fear that a developing Parliament bill could control or restrict such roadside sales of food.

Poland to nix EU's 2050 climate targets: report

Poland is threatening to veto European Union 2050 targets for emissions reductions at a Friday meeting of the bloc's environment ministers in Brussels, a Polish media report said Wednesday.

EU-China dispute 'delaying Airbus orders'

The chief executive of the Airbus parent company, EADS, has accused European Union officials of starting a fight with China over aircraft emissions that threatens to cost the jet manufacturer $12bn in orders.

Health benefits would outweigh cost of shipping pollution controls, say MPs

The financial cost of tighter controls on pollution from shipping would be outweighed by health benefits estimated at £1.1bn a year by 2020, MPs said on Friday.

As sea levels rise, Kiribati eyes 6,000 acres in Fiji as new home for 103,000 islanders

Fearing that climate change could wipe out their entire Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the populace to Fiji.

Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Associated Press on Friday that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. He said the fertile land, being sold by a church group for about $9.6 million, could provide an insurance policy for Kiribati's entire population of 103,000, though he hopes it will never be necessary for everyone to leave.


Things look different. Did the font or layout change?

Or is it just me?


It doesn't look any different to me, but that doesn't mean things haven't changed. Because of the way this site is designed, sometimes changes aren't immediately visible. The CSS style sheets stay in your cache, or some such thing.

North America’s Great Lakes are losing ice

"A study led by Jia Wang from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan has found that ice cover on the Great Lakes has decreased by 71% over the past four decades. Results of the study were published on February 15, 2012 in the Journal of Climate."

Less ice means lower water levels, more algal bloom and more negative impacts on lake ecosystems. Lower water levels impact freight cargo transport, due to decreased ships' draft. On the other hand, of course, the shipping season can be extended.

Interesting report follows :- (PDF Warning)

The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Great Lakes Transportation

Something else I noticed :-

"Also during the recent episode cruise ships were unable to dock at Saugatuck, MI, a highly desirable stop, because of inadequate water depths in the harbor. Many small picturesque stops may not be available for cruise ships under climate change".

One wonders if the international cruise lines are taking this into account when planning trips.

There was no winter up here in the Upper Midwest. We had an endless November type weather. I think I hit 50F in each month (DJF) and dropped below 0F only 3 times. No wonder the lakes are bath water at this time of year. The next week looks more like May then March. Lots of 60Fs and 70Fs possible next week and beyond.

We just had a 70 degree day in Portland Maine yesterday.

I tried to just enjoy it..

"Why was I so serious?" (What the just-dead are said to say.. Old Native Amer. Saying)

I live just outside the Great Lakes watershed in southern Ohio, and we had no Winter here, either. Another effect of no or less ice is more lake effect snows (which we don't get, but Cleveland does). Once Lake Erie freezes over, they stop for the season. But if it doesn't freeze over...

Not off Italy! lol

This just was up on the NWS Milwaukee site:

Off to fast start on L Michigan.

How does less ice possibly change the water level (year round?) in the Great Lakes?

The following linked report provides an explanation :-

Global Climate Change Report : Midwest Region

"The Great Lakes are a natural resource of tremendous significance, containing 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water and serving as the dominant feature of the industrial heartland of the nation.

Higher temperatures will mean more evaporation and hence a likely reduction in the Great Lakes water levels. Reduced lake ice increases evaporation in winter, contributing to the decline."

Here in North Florida, along the northeastern Gulf Coast, it's been so mild that my pepper plant has suvived the winter, a personal first. In fact, I used four or five peppers from the plant two nights ago when cooking up some chicken burritos. And my strawberry plants made strawberries in late February. Weird as all-get-out - last year the strawberries appeared in April.

Fortunately the drought has eased on the back of several winter cold fronts that brought welcome rain. But I fear what summer has in store for us.

This means what, that the atmosphere will permanently hold the balance of the water?


a warmer climate increases evaporation and allows the atmosphere to hold more moisture.


Yes of course, but i) 'more' does not mean the balance of all evaporation from the ice free(er) and exposed G. Lakes remains permanently in the atmosphere as opposed to returning via rain or dew elsewhere, and ii) the reason put forward here for more evaporation is not the increased temperature per se, but increased ice free surface.

The OPEC Oil Market Report is out this morning with OPEC production numbers for February. OPEC Home (Click on Oil Market Report).

OPEC production was up 144 thousand barrels per day with Libya up 180 kb/d. The Libyan recovery continues and they are within 400 kb/d of their pre revolution level. So sans Libya, OPEC production was actually down 36 kb/d. Saudi Arabia produced 9,662 kb/d in February, down 41.8 thousand barrels per day from January.

Some internet wags said Saudi increased production by 1.5 million barrels per day in February. Saudi Arabia raises crude oil output: reports Actually they only said that Saudi exports increased by 1.5 million barrels per day, up to 9 mb/d from 7.5 mb/d. But obviously that did not happen.

The OPEC Basket Price was $124.13 a barrel yesterday, the highest it has been since 2008. It has been above $120 a barrel for two and a half weeks now. And without the Libyan recovery, OPEC production was down last month. OPEC knows that this high price could bring on another recession but there seems to be nothing they can do about it. The call on OPEC has been made but OPEC is not picking up the phone.

Ron P.

Japan Cabinet OKs New Flu Outbreak Bill

Tokyo, March 9 (Jiji Press)

Japan's cabinet adopted a bill Friday to restrict some private rights, in order to prevent the spread of virulent new forms of influenza.
The bill authorizes the prime minister to declare a state of emergency if a highly virulent flu strain is spreading domestically.
The measure is designed to allow prefectural governors to prohibit assembly and forcibly acquire land for medical purposes.
Those who disobey orders to stock supplies could be sentenced to up to six months in prison or fined up to 300,000 yen.
The bill gives the government "very strong coercive power without scientific grounds," said Masahiro Kami, professor at the University of Tokyo.

Greetings all, first time poster here. I deeply appreciate the collective effort that makes TOD such a vital resource for a layperson like myself trying to find his way.

A question: can anyone point me in the direction of anything analyzing inequalities in global energy use?

The reason I ask is because: I recently came across this talk where the interviewee vascillated between anecdotes about overconsumption in some developed countries and anecdotes about burgeoning consumption in developing countries. He drew optimism from the potential efficiency gains if every American/Canadian Hummer driver traded-in their vehicle for a Honda Civic. He then despaired at the prospect of millions of Chinese and Indians driving Hummers.

And buried somewhere in there was a remark about the prospect of all 7 billion+ people on the planet consuming at the rate of the average Japanese, which, it was stipulated, was much lower than their average American/Canadian brethren. Again, the interviewee turned to despair.

Granting that I'm still very poorly educated on this issue, when I look to the future I see nothing but exacerbating trends of global consumption inequality. Trends that lead to grim, brutally ironic outcomes like these.

This talk, along with some other stuff I've looked at, has got me thinking about how it is we actually arrived at such a stark contrast in global consumption patterns. In one sense, IMHO, the answer to this question is informed by the evolution of human ideologies and the entirety of human history. In another sense, IMH Suspicion, some sort of ideology of consumption inequality might have actually spurred a select few to accelerate and expand their consumption so as to guarantee a date with resource limits implicit in their ideology. In other words: a sort of property exploitation ideology based upon certain "tragedy of the commons" principlies that ultimately ensures (unintentionally or intentionally) that we get to the tragedy part in a hurry.

So, I'd like to know whether I should try to grow my humble suspicion into an educated guess or just trash it. If anyone has anything that might help, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could pass it along.


Greer's series on empires, begun a few weeks ago, may offer some insights. Energy, resources and wealth are "pumped" to the imperial core (currently the western economies with the US at the core), creating inequality at the periphery. Greer posits that this is the nature (function) of all empires.

Of course, the status of the current imperial arrangement is in flux due to the peripheral depletion that is inevitable in the cycle of imperial rise and fall. The core begins to feed upon itself. Start here.

Greer posits that this is the nature (function) of all empires.

Greer is not the only one. Plenty of others have noted that function of empire.

Welcome to making comments on TOD.

The numbers you want can be found online, though you may have to do a few back-of-the-envelope calculations to get the numbers in the exact form you want.

Now, as to your hypothesis, I would not trash it, but I do think it needs work. First, read a lot of the literature on the tragedy of the commons. I recommend Garrett Hardin's books--all of them available used and very cheap at amazon.com. Most especially, I strongly recommend Hardin's EXPLORING NEW ETHICS FOR SURVIVAL: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle.

The next thing I would do to make your hypothesis more useful is to decide which disciplinary approach to use. The tragedy of the commons can be approached via biology, philosophy, sociology(including demography), economics, cultural anthropology, or game theory. Ideally, you should see what practioners of all these disciplines have come up with.

Good luck!

Normalized oil consumption for China, India, (2005) Top 33 Net Oil Exporters and the US, from 2002 to 2010 (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids):

A link to my net export analysis and to several "Gap Charts" showing where we would have been at the 2002 to 2005 rates of increase in production & exports, versus actual data:


The bottom line: If--and it is a very big if--but if we extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 rates of change in key variables, in about 19 years China and India alone would consume 100% of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE).

Recent US crude oil production, in the context of declining net exports:

Average annual increase in US crude oil production per year, 2009-2011: About 125,000 bpd per year

Average annual decline in regional net oil exports* from major exporters in the Americas, 2005 to 2010: 240,000 bpd per year

Average annual decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE), 2005-2010: 600,000 bpd per year

Average annual decline in Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia's net imports), 2005 to 2010: 1,000,000 bpd per year**

Despite the slow rate of increase in US crude oil production, the dominant trend is that developed oil importing countries like the US are gradually be priced out of the global market for exported oil, as developing countries like the Chindia region consume an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE.

*Major net oil exporters in 2005 in the Americas and Caribbean: Venezuela; Mexico; Canada; Colombia; Argentina; Ecuador and Trinidad & Tobago (Total Petroleum Liquids, BP)

**I estimate that the volumetric annual ANE decline rate will increase to between 1,400,00 bpd and 2,000,000 bpd per year between 2010 and 2020.

Ghung, Don Sailorman, westexas: Many thanks for your time and guidance! The same for any subsequent respondents, too. I have much more reading/thinking to do.

Some gems from Aldo Leopold:

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.


Great qoutes from the author of "Sand County Almanac", a great book about man's effect on the local environment.

In the early 1970's two of my grade school teachers and one high school teacher taught me how man affects his environment and the limits of the earth's resources. The Sand County Almanac was required reading. During a college course in 1980 I learned of M. King Hubberts description of peak oil in an engineering class (taught by the head of the Nuclear Engineering Dept. at U of Missouri). My education in those formative years has made me conservative and pragmatic in the true sense of those words.

TOD has more valuable information on energy sources, uses, and conversions than any other site on the net, IMO. Less noise and more substance here than most blogs. Glad to see you posting.

edit for clarity

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

If he has a way to feed, clothe, house, remove the wastes of, and find occupations for 7 billion people without abusing land, I'm all ears.

I see that as approaching the problem backwards.

It's more important to figure out HOW to live, how to approach community and how to relate to the world.. it's pretty clear that we're overpopulated, and that we are 'taking', far out of balance with what our environments can handle. It's feasible to work on your personal and your community balances, and it's NOT feasible to think you can create a plan for 7 Billion people.. so as the saying goes, 'If you Take Good care of today, then Tomorrow will take care of itself.'

Alas, Hummers are such a small percentage of the fleet that even if all Hummer owners switched to using bicycles it would have a negligible impact on oil consumption. The Hummer may be symbolic of extravagant usage of oil, but to make a real dent in consumption you need to get the millions of people driving pickups, suv's and minivans to switch to smaller vehicles.


It's nearly two years since I happened to find TOD during the height of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the Oil and Gas industries and had no clue as to what Peak Oil actually meant. After a few months I was brave enough to make a few comments and ask a few quetions. The regular contributors on TOD are a wonderful source of expert information on a variety of topics; Peak Oil, Resource Depletion, Energy, Sustainability, Climate Change and Over-Population to name just a few. These same contributors are very tolerant and respectful in their responses to novices, such as myself. While no one has all of the answers to all of the problems humanity will be facing in the ensuing months, years or decades, regular participation in the discussions here on TOD will help you make more informed decisions as you prepare for the inevitable decline(s) we will soon be facing.

Well said, OldLeatherNeck. I've been hanging out here a bit longer than you, but I find the discussion, especially from the regulars, to be extremely informative and valuable.

"some sort of ideology of consumption inequality might have actually spurred a select few to accelerate and expand their consumption so as to guarantee a date with resource limits implicit in their ideology. In other words: a sort of property exploitation ideology based upon certain "tragedy of the commons" principlies that ultimately ensures (unintentionally or intentionally) that we get to the tragedy part in a hurry."

I recently gave up Catholicism (as well as religion). The above quote merges well with Abrahamic-religion-based ideology; the apocalyptic "End Times" of the holy books of the these religions, the Dominionists perspective prevalent in American politics the last three decades (the 7 Mountains (http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/), the emergence of the Tea Party, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, David Barton, the Parties of God, Islamic and xtian fundies, the Westboro Baptist Church, wealth-hoarding by corporations (the buy-back of stocks by Exxon and others is intriguing to say the least), the anti-reality stance of the GOP (anti-science, global warming is a hoax, Obama is the anti-christ, homosexuals are ruining America)...I could go on. My background in science via education, training and profession has softened somewhat the bruising of the fall from religious fundamentalism (my indoctrination into Catholicism from birth, eh? Altar boy, choir member/leader, "pillar of the community"...). When I was Catholic, I fully believed that Jesus would return in my lifetime, although to be fair, Catholic doctrine says that we are not privy to the time and date of his return, but that we must be prepared at all times for it.

The absurdity of that statement, as well as the absurdity of R. Santorum's hypocrisy, as well as the blatant cover-up of the child sex-abuse by the Vatican......chased me out of Catholicim...and then out of religion altogether. I am not the first to observe (from both inside and now outside of "the club") that there are those within the aforementioned religions that (gleefully) look forward to the end of the earth and the return of their messiah. It is not too extreme to include Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum in those groups. We could include much of the leadership of the GOP as well...but let's not forget the leadership of the industries that will be hardest hit by policies that limit CO2 pollution. Whether they buy the religious "End Times" dogma is unimportant...what's more critical is the fact that the wealthy are hell-bent on getting wealthier to extreme degrees. A close friend recently opined that the wealthy are doing everything they can to influence every aspect of politics and society in order that policies are enacted that ensure that their wealth is not only protected but enhanced (Citizens United come to mind).

I wish I was wrong...but I'm not...

-Bob K.

@Bob K. I don't want to pry, just curious: has it driven you all the way to atheism? or rather to a theistic, but non-religious, position such as deist, pantheist or spiritual-only or something like that?

As a way to bring this conversation towards decline scenarios: I have recently been wondering how long religious institutions can last under economic decline. They have the advantage of not paying taxes, but they almost entirely survive on tithing (right?). Given economic contraction how big a hit will tithing rates take, and how long can the religious institution muddle through with declining tithing rates. I'm an ex-Catholic myself (left probably around '98-'99), and have noticed a revived effort in the last 2-3 years on my old church's part to get me back and contributing. They must be hurting for contributions to have forgotten about me between '99-'09 and then revived their fundraising efforts recently.

If religious institutions fail similarly to other institutions due to economic contraction, then the question is how do religious institutions look on the other side of collapse? Do new institutions spring up? The old ones recover or make it through? Or does religion become a personal thing or a highly local thing like agriculture and trade ultimately will look like?

An update on Bishop Lennon's "pissin' off America tour".

As closed parishes around the diocese held celebrations on Thursday, diocesan officials continued to await formal paperwork laying forth the terms of the Vatican’s decree that 13 churches be reopened.

Send money!

I grew up the son of a mid-western, small town evangelical minister, in the days before "Evangelical" became such a dirty word. To his credit, dad never preached about the "End Times" nor did he use the book of Revelations for a sermon. He had childhood memories of going to the tent revival meetings on the Kansas prairie, during the Depression, when on Friday nights the preacher would release the "Fire & Brimstone" message just to increase the amount of money placed in the offering plate. Then, when I was a young Marine, during the Vietnam years, I wasn't particularly welcome in most Christian churches....just because I was a Marine. Consequently, I have a very jaundiced view of organized religion, due to the politicization, blatant hypocrisy and hat-filled messaging that has taken over many churches. Yes, there are times when I miss the great choral music in a cathedral and wish that more Christians would remember the little things..... like healing the sick, feeding the hungry or caring for the poor among us. It seems that that has been lost and I will never be an active member of any organized religious organization.

I do sincerely fear that as the societal decline deepens, more people will succumb to cult-like religious groups (extreme fundamentalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.). These groups entice their victim because their absolutist messages and simplistic logic leaves no room for doubt. The more people fear the future the more they become vulnerable to the "Prophets of Doom" who are merely seeking the "Profits $$ of Doom".

Sadly, someday, the children of Rick Santorum will come to realize that their father was a blatant liar. Hopefully, he will still be alive and called to account for failing them so miserably.

"has it driven you all the way to atheism? or rather to a theistic, but non-religious, position such as deist, pantheist or spiritual-only or something like that?"

A therapist would probably have a more informed answer; however, if the moderators don't object...

I have discovered, as Christopher Hitchens has written, that I am atheist. I no longer buy the product. In my humble opinion, there is not and never has been a supernatural force we call a god; I recently watched "God On Trial", about Jews at Auschwitz who realized that no matter how much they prayed to their deity, they saw no evidence of his power to deliver them from evil...so they held a mock trial and placed God as the accused. Fascinating film; the way that logic and reason are applied to Judaism in the trial...just...wow. I have, in my own way, held the same faux court. In both cases, God lost. Am I spiritual? Well, I suppose you could say "yes", but that's only because I lack the necessary evidence to explain those phenomena such as our belief in the soul, or our belief in a deity. We can neither prove nor disprove their existence. Science requires evidence; religion does not. From my perspective, science wins...although I remain vigilant that we will continue our path to better understandings of why we believe the way we do. However, having said that, I do NOT believe in an afterlife, and that unbelief is what helped clear my head enough to understand how Dominionism works and how I , as a Catholic, acted as an enabler. Think of it this way: if you are *sure*, as many believers are, that there is another life after this one, then why the hell not use up all the resources of this planet, screw our progeny!!!? Smoke and drink to excess, burn all of the fossil fuels that we can dig up, drill, frack, mine, etc. Sure, the Appalachian mountains are beautiful, but we need the coal that's in 'em, and the most economically viable way to get that coal is to remove the mountain tops, so let's get to it. Yeah, the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada, are an important watershed, wetlands and carbon sink, but we need the bitumen that's in 'em, and the most economically viable way to get that bitumen is to create a vast mining operation that can be seen from outside our atmosphere, so let's get to it.

"As a way to bring this conversation towards decline scenarios: I have recently been wondering how long religious institutions can last under economic decline. They have the advantage of not paying taxes, but they almost entirely survive on tithing (right?)."

Not necessarily. The religious organizations in America have available to them something like $65B each year from various federal agencies (http://www.theocracywatch.org/faith_base.htm). Yes, those organizations are tax-free, and yes, the tithe is declining as people like me (and you) walk away from the faith, and yes, the Catholics have suffered $4B or so of payouts to victims/court costs and attorney's fees from the paedophilia scandal, but there's still a vast hoard of wealth unseen and un-itemized held by religion.

"revived their fundraising efforts recently."

They've been on a recent PR campaign (you may have noticed TV ads from "Catholicscomehome.org" during the last college football bowl season). They've left me alone...but I have yet to make "official" my exit from Catholicism. I'm looking forward to my excommunication, but I gotta think up something that's so dastardly, so wicked, so evil, that they'll have no choice but to cast me out. So, child sex abuse is out, witch-burning is out (they're so passe)...I'll entertain any and all ideas...!

"the question is how do religious institutions look on the other side of collapse? Do new institutions spring up? The old ones recover or make it through? Or does religion become a personal thing or a highly local thing like agriculture and trade ultimately will look like?"

Some of my new/old heroes have considered this question (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, D.M. Murdock, Richard Carrier, et al). Murdock has opined that the religions we currently see so well-entrenched in our societies will, at some future point, be viewed the same way we now view Greek or Nordic mythology.

To draw this back on-topic, my perspective is that we're going to dig up every last chunk of coal, drill for every last barrel of oil, and frack for every last mcf of gas that we can, climate be damned. The other side of collapse...for the religious institutions? I expect that as our societies continue to break down, we'll see more people going to churches across the planet...and a repeat of "God On Trial"...and more people walking away from faith...lather, rinse, repeat.

-Bob K.

Think of it this way: if you are *sure*, as many believers are, that there is another life after this one, then why the hell not use up all the resources of this planet, screw our progeny!!!? Smoke and drink to excess, burn all of the fossil fuels that we can dig up, drill, frack, mine, etc.

The peculiar intersection of religious beliefs and attitudes about resource use has been a concern of mine for some time. In 2010 the Pew Research Center reported that 41% of Americans think that Jesus is "probably" or "definitely" going to be returning by 2050. It is very difficult to worry about your progeny if you don't expect to have any.

This view is particularly powerful among evangelical Protestants. Former evangelical Jonathan Dudley writes,

I learned a few things growing up as an evangelical Christian: that abortion is murder; homosexuality, sin; evolution, nonsense; and environmentalism, a farce. I learned to accept these ideas — the “big four” — as part of the package deal of Christianity. In some circles, I learned that my eternal salvation hinged on it. Those who denied them were outsiders, liberals, and legitimate targets for evangelism. If they didn’t change their minds after being “witnessed to,” they became legitimate targets for hell.

The idea that peak oil and "peak everything" are believed to be a farce is, I think, included in that "big four" package, rolled up in the idea that "environmentalism is a farce."

In 2010 the Pew Research Center reported that 41% of Americans think that Jesus is "probably" or "definitely" going to be returning by 2050.


In a Gallup poll released today, Americans chose dilithium crystals as the “most likely” fuel to run future cars and power plants, with 84% of Americans choosing the crystals over other options including nuclear, hydrogen, corn ethanol, shale gas, and photovoltaic solar panels. Respondents indicated that dilithium crystals are popular for providing quiet, clean energy, with a proven track record of seven-hundred twenty-six episodes in four different Star Trek television series.

I'm looking forward to my excommunication, but I gotta think up something that's so dastardly, so wicked, so evil, that they'll have no choice but to cast me out. )...I'll entertain any and all ideas...!

Find some old paper with ink upon it. Light it on fire. If it is the newspaper, or volume 14 of the 1969 World Book nobody will care. If you want a response make sure it says "Holy Bible" on the cover. For better effect wear a turban.

A 1987 photograph by artist and photographer Andres Serrano caused a demand for the destruction of the National Endowment for the Arts. As I recall, NEA grants basically dried-up afterwards.

If you find yourself listening to a tirade about how some groups are just way too touchy about their artifacts, relate to them this bit of history:


It's not hard to see why people are 'touchy' about this. I'm not a Christian, and I find the basis of this piece to be a childish insult. It's basically a thousand word rant. It is a pretty photo, but ultimately, it's the intention and the 'code' of peeing on someone's Spiritual Symbol that tell you why it's there.. and what to make of it.

Sure, art should be provocative, but I can't see the point behind picking a fight with something like this as your Standard.

One comparison lies in the destruction wrought over an image.


Interesting Bob, I too am an atheist, however I think you've carried the logic further than may be justified. Clearly there is no activist god (at least who is activist about the things religions say he should be). But that doesn't rule out some sort of supernatural entity who(which) simply doesn't care, or just wants to watch the life experiment run without interference.

As to caring for the planet, I don't see that using up the planet necessarily follows from the Abrahamic religions. There are things in the bible/Torah that lead some to consider "creation care" to be an important injunction. I see our problem as being more with fundamentalists, rather than with the more mainline denominations. The pope has even sponsored encyclicals which say we should take care of the planet. Because of this, it should be possible to get many X-ians to care about the environment. So long as they don't think trashing the planet will bring on the second coming.....

Once you "get" that there is no creator being, then the only thing that really makes sense outside of nihilism (which doesn't really explain much IMO) is interdependent origination (sometimes also known as dependent origination or dependent arising, which is a little confusing.) http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2003/summer/dharma_dict_summer...

In an overly simplified description, this means that all phenomena are "empty," which isn't empty at all, but illusory and constantly changing. We who observe, all sentient beings, have awareness, and especially humans, who all have the Buddha mind, though this is often obscured by error and subject to the law of karma, which governs all thought, word, and action. In this sense, we and every sentient being are part and parcel of spirit, so to speak, infused with awareness - a union of wisdom and compassion. Christianity (all Abrahamic religions really) have clung to the concept of God as a figure with powers that humans do not fully have.

Sorry, no guy with a beard upstairs minding the store. We are the creators, and it's all up to us. A lot of us aren't doing too well on that account, but we have what it takes to change our dilemma. . . this is my take on the matter over the last dozen years. Oh, and in Buddhist philosophy there are universal cycles of destruction and rebirth, and we are nearing (decades? centuries?) the end of one of these, no surprise. It is said that at the end of an age (by fire this time) it is difficult to accomplish things and everything seems to decay (or change) faster and faster.

In an overly simplified description, this means that all phenomena are "empty," which isn't empty at all, but illusory and constantly changing.


'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

Watched it. Fabulous!

"In the hour when God created the first person, He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: 'See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I have created, for you have I created. Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My world, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you'" (Kohelet Rabbah 7:28)

Everything is governed by chance. Every quadrillion random events of so one happens that seems to make some kind of sense, even incredibly coincidentaly as in a Jungian 'synchronicity.' It's still just chance. Even if some sort of god did exist, its existance would be the result of a chance event. There's no reason for anything. Our brains evolved to look for meaning in these chance events. They're pretty good at it, too.


Random thoughts. I don't think we are intelligent enough to have an idea what governs what on larger and smaller scales. It appears obvious that space is infinite and our time is dependent on our universe but I have no idea what that means. Perhaps what some people believe is based on a sense that is more developed than our analytical intelligence. For the organisms on this planet, I also wonder why there is no evidence of precursors to DNA lifeforms.

IMO, randomness = ignorance. There is a reason for an electron to show up where it does, we may even figure that out one day.

I suspect that Jedi Welder and I are the token Christians here at TOD, so if you don't mind, I'll take a stab at responding to some of what you say. I am a former atheist who now worships at an Independent Baptist church, so I appear to have headed north on the route that you took south. Stereotypes are so often right...and so often wrong. I don't accuse all atheist of being mass murders, just because some very public figures (Stalin, Mao) were. All fundamentalist do not advocate the destruction of the environment (see http://creationcare.org/), and not all Catholics practice child sexual abuse. (I might suggest Mother Theresa or Henri Nouwen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Nouwen) as alternative models for what it means to be Catholic...or Christian.)

I often see atheists and agnostics define what a good Christian is: He (or she) loves his enemies, does good to those who hate him, does to others as he would have them do unto him, is faithful to his spouse, doesn't kill, steal, lie, bear false witness, etc. I totally concur. Jesus said "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits." People who consistently practice to the contrary aren't bad Christians. They aren't Christians at all.

I agree that matters of faith aren't subject to the scientific method. It is, after all, referred to as SUPER-Natural. Not outside of the natural universe, but surrounding it. (Think of a Venn diagram, with the natural universe residing fully within the larger super-natural universe.) From comments on TOD, one would think that it is impossible to be a scientist and also believe in God. Evidence is to the contrary. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/1018_041018_science_reli.... My brother is one of them...a Ph.D. in Biology, chair of the Biology department at an East Coast university, and a Christian.

Finally, as to the survival of the church I would only suggest that the past 2000 years have proven that the church will in fact survive and continue to grow, regardless of what comes. Just look at the church in Russia and China...which survived Stalin and Mao.

My thanks to all you TODlers for your forbearance in this discussion ;)

From comments on TOD, one would think that it is impossible to be a scientist and also believe in God.

Certainly not. But unusual, according to wikipedia: "A 2008 survey of Royal Society fellows "found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God" compared to 68.5 per cent of the UK public. A poll in the previous decade of the American National Academy of Sciences showed that only 7 percent of its members believed in God."

Finally, as to the survival of the church I would only suggest that the past 2000 years have proven that the church will in fact survive and continue to grow,

"Continue to grow" comes close to "bearing false witness". In the last two decades, the non-religious in the US has increased from 10% to 20%. Perhaps another doubling in the next 20 years? The more people that are abandoning religion, the more people can abandon religion.

I suspect that Jedi Welder and I are the token Christians here at TOD, [some time later - do this in the SpongeBob narrator voice.]
I often see atheists and agnostics define what a good Christian is:

Why don't you take the soapbox and define what you claim others are doing?

As a child I was raised a Lutheran, and I believed, but I've long been an atheist now. I do see the need for a spirituality in life however, and I've been working to find a way to incorporate this into my life. There are some common themes that have been part of human experience for many thousands of years, and I'm not ready to reject them knowing that so many people who've struggled with the same issues of human existence that we do found them to be of value. Most of these have to do with looking on life as a journey of gaining understanding, sometimes with the belief that one comes back again (reincarnation) and sometimes not. Religion and all those crazy myths which were intended to illustrate had to do with helping people to improve themselves.

Reading The Pagan Christ it became clear that these were the beliefs of the early Christians too, but along the way the effort of self improvement appealed to too small a population and was too difficult (perhaps something was happening socially that made it no longer suitable), and did not provide a large enough power base for its leaders. So it was converted to a literal storey to appeal to the masses.

It's very unclear what will happen to religion as this long crisis unfolds, and it will probably go through many stages. I figure initially people will flock to the old religions, but those are being changed at the same time. In the US the fundies are taking over both Catholic and Protestant churches alike. It appeals to some but who knows for how long. Mostly that appeals to those wanting to be told what to think and who to blame, but it's hard to see how it plays out.

As I've said before...I think societies shape religion more than religion shapes societies. There is a lot in the Bible that supports less consumption; it was a religion formed in a steady-state economy. But we pick and choose which parts to believe, and the parts about usury being a sin and rich people going to hell just don't fit in with our current culture.

Religion is often the way societies deal with resource constraints. It's not a coincidence that the major religions all have dietary restrictions (food being the major impact ordinary people had in ancient times). Sacred cows, unclean pigs, vegetarianism, no meat during Lent, etc. So I definitely seeing religion playing a role in how we deal with the post-carbon age (even though I, too, am an atheist). I do suspect it will be much changed, as Christianity was after the Black Death.

There are 765 motor vehicles per 1,000 people in the United States, versus 19 in Guatemala, 8 in Pakistan, and less than 1 per thousand in Malawi and Afghanistan. UN Figures reported at http://www.nationmaster.com/country/us-united-states/tra-transportation.

Despite long-running tales to the contrary, access to automobiles is also one of the most unequal forms of product usage (so-called "consumption") here in the good old US of A. For that, take a look at BLS "Consumer Expenditure Survey" data. The richest quintile spends over 12 times more per year on new cars than does the poorest quintile.

Meanwhile, nobody is intentionally trying to bring on catastrophe. Why would anybody do that? The problem is institutional and sociological: The rich would rather risk implosion than voluntarily surrender power and privilege. But catastrophe will not serve them well, either, despite their stall tactics.

There are graphs of "Human Development Index" v.s. various things, like energy use per person. Here is one, not the one I was looking for:


This one is better:
There is Norway, way out in front of the pack.


These image search terms work well:
kilowatt/person HDI graph
kilowatt/person "Human Development Index" graph

Dow, which uses the energy equivalent of 850,000 barrels of oil per day,


He makes a good point about exporting NG in the solid rather than liquid form. I believe the Saudis are thinking the same way. Plastics and nitrogen fertilizers are far more 'value added' than selling it just to burn it. Assuming there's any such industrial plants left in the USA.


In the 1990s, the US lost producers of Nitrogen-bases fertilizers because natural gas prices were higher here than elsewhere. I am sure it is the same for other industries that use natural gas as their main input. I would think it stupid for a company to relocate to the US for cheap natural gas because the price is going to go up again in the next few years. They could sign a long-term contract with an ng company but I would expect many ng companies to fail over the next few years, too.

Could Lower Gas Prices Push Highly-Leveraged EFH into Bankruptcy?

Leverage can be a wonderful thing when you have positive return streams. On the other hand, it can be poison if your return streams turn against you.

Yes....but we are also asking the natural gas producers for the greater good of U.S. economic growth to earn less money. I don't think very many will go for it.

dw - "...but we are also asking the natural gas producers for the greater good of U.S. economic growth ". Well, you can always ask. Chevron might craft a warm and cozy response in one of their TV commercials. The rest of us non-public company NG produces would just tell you to go to hell. LOL.

Like I noted the other day if you're involved in selling/buying any commodity, like NG, there will be times you're making so much money you can't count it all. And there will be times when you're hammered so bad you won't survive. I don't consider it right or wrong: just the nature of the beast. Oil producers are doing great right now. But I'm starting to see signs of companies who primarily produce NG preparing to shut down. Let's reverse the question: if the NG industry ask the public to voluntarily pay more than the current market price for NG how they respond? I think we both know that answer. For both sides of commodity transactions it's nothing personal...just business.

"Oil producers are doing great right now. But I'm starting to see signs of companies who primarily produce NG preparing to shut down. "

Which of those categories is the best fit for Chesapeake?

robert - Not sure. CHK did recover from the NG bust in the dry shale plays. Then they reinvented themselves in the oily shale plays and it looked like they were doing a good job of treading water. But now there are hints they've become capex poor. If they can't maintain drilling to stay ahead of their depletion curve we may be seeing the beginning of the end of them.

"Like I noted the other day if you're involved in selling/buying any commodity, like NG, there will be times you're making so much money you can't count it all. And there will be times when you're hammered so bad you won't survive."

Applies to silicon as well. Management is on Sales to convince the Market that silicon is a specialty chemical, but it's not working yet.

The good news is that they are letting normal attrition reduce the headcount, so no layoffs.

Post oil NG is our last truly versatile abundant hydrocarbon. On Haber feedstock some imagine solar powered farm machinery harvesting grain crops grown with compost instead of N-fertilisers. That's over millions of hectares in the prairies and wheatbelts. When gas is prohibitively expensive we'll found out how realistic that is.

Given the obstacles to large scale energy storage gas may always be needed to balance intermittent power sources. It quickly warms houses in severe cold snaps. If Pickens is right CNG will be the major substitute for diesel and commuters will use it for private cars. Why the rush to sell so much now?

I suggest a protocol; the absolute consumption and relative price of NG should be no less favourable in year 2050 than in 2012. That means saving plenty for later.

I can't be the only one who is choking on my coffee over that Bloomberg story up top!

So, now that the ongoing price for oil, and it's refined products, is now more expensive than the one time spike that happened in 1980, we are supposed to not worry about it, because it really doesn't hurt as bad as you think. (This is not the pain you thought it was, move along)

Well, if that is true, then we are in for a lot larger price hike, because the reason for the price rise is to make you feel it so much that you stop using the damn stuff!


You still have the capacity to be surprised?

The Bloomberg article kind of jibes with a recent James Hamilton post at Econbrowser.

Oil prices and the U.S. economy

Here's why I believe that the current high price of oil is not enough to derail the U.S. economic recovery.


If tensions with Iran were to escalate, then I would start to worry a good deal more. But based on what has happened to oil prices so far, I find myself in the unusual position of being less concerned about the impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy than many other analysts.

If you have a job you can afford the high prices, if you don't...


Dated Brent Spot = $26.00 today.
It's a good thing we don't feel it as much as we used to.

Wow, Brent really dropped.

Missing the leading digit? : )

eastie - Not only should you not worry about the higher oil price but REJOICE!!!. That early 80's oil price spike eventually led to $10/bbl oil by 1986. A few more years and we should see gasoline drop to under $2/gal. What? Well yeah...sure...oil prices fell because of the global recession caused by the price spike. But if you still had a nice income you were on top the world at that time.

Thank you Eastex for the warning, I hate to snort hot coffee out my nose. It seems that everyone is overreacting to the "not-so-painful price that we are supposed to be happy about" and are buying less fuel according to this chart.


Bloomberg News Flash June 1 2012: "We are shocked"
Today experts determined that less driving = less McDonalds, Super 8, Motel 6, and other sources of economic activity. "We don't understand why this is happening..."


Re: No Blood for Oil? (above)

I don't think this Propagandist article makes the cut... it opens with a complicated sentence with no verb, and ends with the claim that the US did not invade Iraq. The article states that the US did not benefit from the war in increased oil imports from Iraq (probably true), but that does not mean there was no connection between the war and the oil.

PT in PA

Yes, it was simplistic nonsense. What is important to an empire is to control the resources and to deny them to rivals, not necessarily to increase the production rate right now. But in this case we're in a bind since we've outsourced all our manufacturing to our main rival, so we can't deny them the energy or we won't get all the cheap consumer goods needed to keep the retail consumer market going. What we tried for was to control that resource (don't know if we really achieved that), and the currency in which it is traded. Same as in Libya - they were selling us oil, but also to the Chinese. Now that oil may go to China, but ultimately only under US control and in dollars.

"What is important to an empire is to control the resources and to deny them to rivals, not necessarily to increase the production rate right now."

Step one is to destroy their infrastructure and reduce their ability to use the resources themselves, for as long as you can. It's an anti-ELM tactic.

But again, it's an interesting and precarious position having outsourced your manufacturing to your main rival. How do you keep control of that? It would appear that the strategy is to make sure they must get their energy through you or in your currency. I can't imagine that will work.

Re: Your bold highlight above

There is a saying, attributed to a French legislator after WW1:

Oil "the blood of the earth" had become "the blood of victory"

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

As badly written as that article is, the confusion as to why we really invaded is pretty amazing after 9 years. Obviously, it was because.....

Well heck, there must have been a reason, right? You don't just go and destroy an entire country because some C+ Augustus has a burr in his butt, do you? Except we did.

Yep... it's interesting that the whole article doesn't mention the "real" reason for the invasion, except to say that it was not for oil. Since the official reasons have fallen apart under scrutiny, we are left to wonder.

"...we are left to wonder."

One might start by looking into the deep, lucrative multi-generational Bush/Saud relationship, and the need to divert attention from the obvious Saudi connections to 9-11. Add in a few bonuses for the Haliburtons and Blackwaters, it's a no-brainer.

It's a little bit funny.. but as you recount this, it draws my mind over to that catchy little FDA term that's all the buzz today, "Pink Slime" .. seems to fit.

I've always been partial to the theory that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were motivated by the Iraqi plot to kill George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait in 1993. According to Wikipedia, then-President Clinton was sufficiently convinced by the evidence to order firing 23 cruise missiles at various Iraqi Intelligence facilities a couple of months after the assassination attempt was foiled.

There were many reasons. I don't think oil was a big one. Certainly the oil companies would rather have seen an end to sandctions. But many things motivated the decision.
(1) Israel considered Saddam a dangerous enemy, and this carries a lot of weight with the Neocons.
(2) Saddam tried to have Bush's father assasinated.
(3) We simply hadn't satisfied out post 9-11 bloodlust, and neede a new target.
(4) Every decade or so, knock over some vulnerable country to put the fear of the US military into the world.

Foreign policy, isn't always motivated by a rational attempt to meet some (often hidden) objective. Sometimes it is simply human foibles running wild.

I've heard all those a number of times.. I think they're all too random.

You bring in the heavy equipment when you're working on a defined strategic goal. (Remember when Iran decided to nationalize their oil in the early 50's?)

IMO, It rhymes with Moyle..

(Regarding #1, if that was really so compelling, then it would be hard to rationalize why we've been so inconsistent about Israel's many OTHER antagonistas.. all this saber-rattling over Iran seems about as virile as the way the Republicans keep promising the Christians they'll take care of Roe v. Wade. Why send a package when a card will do?)

the Republicans keep promising the Christians they'll take care of Roe v. Wade.

Row VS Wade was determined by the last administration as equally fine ways to get out of New Orleans.

Under Bush II - he had all (R)'s across the board and did nothing. So abortion is a macguffin.

I think oil was the major one, but it wasn't so simplistic as taking the oil, or the "gas dividend" (lower prices at the pump) promised.

The neocons saw Iraq as low-hanging fruit. They truly believed that it would fall easily, happily convert to free-market capitalism democracy, and cause the rest of the Middle East to fall, too. (Remember the early, heady days when they were talking about Syria being next?)

But...why so much interest in the Middle East? If dangerous dictators are the problem, why not invade North Korea? If helping oppressed people is the issue, why do we ignore Africa? If there were no oil in the region, we would have little interest in it - assassination attempts or not.

It was all about oil, but it wasn't to "nuke their ass and take their gas." Rather, it was about creating a military footprint in the Middle East. So we would have some control over a region we would have no interest in if it produced only dates and carpets.

"Well heck, there must have been a reason, right?"

I remember (...and one is supposed to remember nothing of the past or of any true history ...and the news has no memory or past and provides no such context) ...I remember watching T.V. in the days leading to the war (watching in Los Angeles ...I used to watch in New Mexico and I would call my friends in L.A. to discuss storys ...and I learned that stories were floated/tested in the small New Mexico market I was in that then never made it to L.A.)...watching TV and there was a new reason floated EVERYDAY about why we were going to war. They finally got some traction with the "bringing democracy" bit.

‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,’ repeated Winston obediently.

O’Brien replied: ‘We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?’

‘But how can you stop people remembering things?’ cried Winston.

"No Blood for Oil?" link claims that oil had nothing to do with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Just because a war is conducted for strategic resources does not mean production of those resources post-war will be increased or cost any less to the consumer.

In this case, there is no clearer excercise of the Carter Doctrine than OIF -- security of "the free movement of Middle East Oil". Nothing in that policy, then or now, says it has to be plentiful or cheap at the gas pump. What it did say, and what it turned in to, was a "tag you are it" to the US as the sandbox proxy.

Maybe he'll figure out oil is fungible in the process of blogging about oil and war.

Well I will repeat what Bill Maher said in his stand up comic routine:

"The next time we go to war for oil... get some oil."

Well okay, I will add this line: The next time we go to war to destroy weapons of mass destruction, destroy some weapons of mass destruction.

Whichever reason we went to war, we failed miserably at both of them.

Ron P.

Saddam Hussein fooled everybody when he claimed to have weapons of mass destruction.

Hardly. It was a dumb tactic to try to go along with the fear mongering your enemy is using to justify attacking you, in the hope perhaps that you can get their people so afraid they won't do it. But since your enemy's leaders clearly know they're lying it isn't going to have any effect on the people making the decision. He fooled no one of consequence and it made no difference.

Quotes from Al Gore, Ted Kennedy and others


From your link:

All of the quotes listed above are substantially correct reproductions of statements made by various Democratic leaders regarding Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's acquisition or possession of weapons of mass destruction. However, some of the quotes are truncated, and context is provided for none of them — several of these quotes were offered in the course of statements that clearly indicated the speaker was decidedly against unilateral military intervention in Iraq by the U.S. Moreover, several of the quotes offered antedate the four nights of airstrikes unleashed against Iraq by U.S. and British forces during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, after which Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced the action had been successful in "degrad[ing] Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."

Leanan I agree. At the time I was uncertain as to what was going on. I fully expected Saddam Hussein to be assassinated or exiled by his own people. For the record I tend to be a non-interventionalst (the term that seems to have replaced isolationist) and was mostly so inclined at the time. I was in favor of the initial coalition to liberate Kuwait. But I don't believe that we have sufficient resources to liberate the world.

An interesting blog http://non-intervention.com/

I think the term non-interventionist was invented (rather recently, I want to say by Ron Paul, but probably before him) in order to distinguish between what libertarians would like foreign policy to be and what people consider to be isolationism, which they often attribute to liberatarians.

Isolationism is mostly about economic protectionism, isolating one's economy from free trade and global markets mostly using high import/export tariffs and cracking down on smuggling. It also implies no foreign military endeavors, but that is more of a consequence of the economic isolation not necessarily an axiom of the ideology.

Non-interventionists would favor economic liberalism, i.e. free trade, global markets, zero or low import/export tariffs and emphasizing diplomatic relations with other countries to facilitate trade and avoid war. It explicitly holds as a tenet that military force should never be used offensively and there are few reasons to even use military force in foreign lands. With non-interventionism The only legitimate use of the military is for defensive purposes, i.e to protect homeland from invading forces.

I'm not sure what the point is? I clearly remember the nonsense that was being spouted, and I fully knew it to be nonsense at the time. Just as it is completely clear that what is being said now in regards to several other countries the US wishes to subdue is nonsense.

He fooled no one of consequence and it made no difference.

It fooled (or helped to fool) many members of the public. And that may have been crucial to selling the war.

Chemical weapons are also classed as WMD.

A half truth can frequently be more damaging and dangerous than an outright lie.

There are several reports that the science teams doing the work actually fooled Saddam by providing false progress reports. Opinions vary about whether this was due to the scientists fearing for their lives if they failed to deliver, or due to government functionaries who were skimming from the funding and wanted the gravy train to continue.

I can believe it. I recall a very large tech project I worked on early in my career. The senior VP demanded prompt monthly progress briefings (eg, the June progress briefing was to be delivered to him the first week in July). Since each layer of management between him and those of us doing the work demanded multiple working days to prepare their own reports, I had to report my June progress during the last week of May. To the surprise of no one at the bottom of the pyramid, the senior VP got glowing reports of steady progress. Once a problem was reported to have been solved, none of the managers were brave enough to admit that it hadn't actually. Things rolled merrily along that way until the date of the first field deployment approached, and managers were finally forced to admit that the hardware was buggy as hell and the software wouldn't be ready for at least a year...

So whose heads rolled, once reality filtered up? Was in managers, or low level workers (who were involved in covering up the lack of progress). In Stalin's Russia, the penalty for not meeting a target -no matter how impossible it might be was the firing squad.

The senior VP -- who was actually quite brilliant in the hardware specialty he worked on when he had originally been hired -- left shortly after the fiasco surfaced. Rumor at my level was that he was offered a choice: "Resign and we'll write you nice letters of recommendation; stay and we'll bust you back to buck private, with commensurate cut in pay." Well, that company's equivalent of buck private.

One of the hats I wore at the time was general technology analyst. The buggy hardware was straightforward to fix. I had been trying for months to convince the managers that the real problems were in the software. The senior VP and all of his direct reports had come up through the hardware side of the business, and took the attitude that "it's just software," as if it were an afterthought. I don't know how many times I gave my "It's a software world now" talk. I do know that I never lost the standard bet I offered at the end of the talk, and some people took me up on it: I don't care what project it is, if delivery is late the major problem(s) will be somewhere in the software. The software-world part is even truer today, of course. For GM's latest hybrid transmission, two-thirds of the engineer-hours were for writing and debugging the software that runs on the embedded processor. For a transmission!

Some years later, at a different company, the same guy was hired to run a major software project that turned out even worse: $50M spent and exactly zero lines of working code produced that time. Seriously -- how can you spend $50M and never get past the architecture/design phase?

When I worked with computers, we couldn't really put the software through its paces rigorously, until we had hardware to run in on. There is only so much you can simulate on a hardware simulator/emulator. So the software testing necessarily lagged the hardware. So it should have been no surprise that good quality software lags. A lot has to do with the sequentiality of the process. The software testing depends on the hardware. And there are layers of software, and you can't test layer 2, until layer one is mostly debugged.

Usually true, but this was an almost unbelievable snafu. For example, one of the selling points was the fault diagnosis subsystem, which was based on pattern matching against the error logs. Shortly before the wheels came off, the status reports indicated that research had delivered the pattern-matching algorithms months before and that software incorporating those algorithms had run successfully against the test cases in the emulator (and the very good, very expensive software emulation environment was one of the few things that had been delivered properly working on time). Research had delivered something weeks/months late; no software had been written, so no one knew if the algorithms worked or not; there weren't any test cases; the development resources that might have done those things had been redirected to fix more fundamental problems (which had also been reported as "solved"). More heads should have rolled. But this was long ago at one of the last giant corporations that still had an "employment for life" attitude.

I don't know if the private sector still suffers that kind of meltdown or not. Within the last few years I was in a position where I followed some large-system progress in the public sector, and feel confident in saying that the federal and state governments are still quite capable of spending tens of millions of dollars on software development and getting nothing that actually works in return. In one state where I got to see some of the inner workings, I attribute the problem to the overall acquisition strategy: when that particular agency decided to outsource all of its development, they also let go all of the staff who could actually do software specification. And if you start with a bad functional spec, nothing good is going to happen.

There are several reports that the science teams doing the work actually fooled Saddam by providing false progress reports

Got proof?

Has anybody ever tried to calculate how much of total world oil consumption is actually attributable to the United States demand for final products?

I guess what I am trying to say, is that much of China's oil use is in support of offshoring our manufacturing. So, now that transition to offshoring of almost all manufactuing is complete, can't we calculate how much of China's oil use is related specifically to our products? And, extrapolate how much that use will be in the future, based on our population growth and average consumption?

There is no way to tell how much oil is in the plastics, cosmetics or other stuff in our imported products. But if you are measuring the oil needed to supply our imports you would also have to count the oil consumed by factories and even the oil used to transport the workers to the factories. And you would also need to count the bunker fuel used to power the ships that deliver it to our shores. That is one of the great unknowns and will likely remain such.

Ron P.

There is no way to tell how much oil is in the plastics, cosmetics or other stuff in our imported products.

Yes, because products are majik.

And not subject to reverse engineering.

Yea, I think what Ron meant is that there is no practical way...not without some verifiable and enforceable World laws on labeling products thus...kind of how packaged foodstuffs are required to have labels with total calories, carbs, protein, sugars, trans-fats, etc.

This would certainly employ more people, and would add to the price of finished goods, and I imagine that not many folks would read the labels, many fewer would understand what they read, fewer yet would care, and a very small number would have the inclination and power/abilities to do anything about it.

That being said, I appreciate being able to read the labels on my food products from the grocery.

That's a question that has been coming to my mind for years. Also, let's take it another step, how much of the pollution emitted in China (and other third world countries) is emitted that is specifically related to our offshoring?

I suspect that our percentage of the world's oil consumption is considerably higher than we think it is when you include the manufacturing we've offshored. How can we keep saying that we're cleaning up our act as far as pollution when all we've done is export it to other countries which have looser (sometimes much looser) standards?

An interesting confession if you read his words as I do. "Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson on Friday laid blame for the recent climb in U.S. retail gasoline prices squarely on tensions."

Essential Rex is saying XOM raised the price of their gasoline because of the potential "what ifs" with re: to Iran. IOW XOM costs haven't increased as much as they've increased the price of their fuel. Thus XOM has raised their profit margin on pure speculation. Of course, the consumers must be using the same consideration when they decide to continue buying as much fuel as they have been when prices were lower. The logic there is a bit more difficult to swallow IMHO. So I'm going to still plan my cross country drive to Disneyland even though the fuel bill will be $X more. But I'm willing to still make trip and pay the freight because folks are worried about future supplies from Iran? I doubt many folks make the decision on how much they'll drive in the next month (and what they are willing to pay to do so) based on what Iran may or may not do weeks/months from now. Remember, ole Rex didn't contribute the rising cost of Tiger fuel to rising oil costs...just the "tensions".

Again, I have a simple view of fuel pricing decisions. Refiners/retailers work on volume sales. Sell X million gallons at a profit margin of Y cents/gallon. Might sell more at a lower price and generate more income from a greater sales volume. Or maybe sell less at a higher price and make even greater income. I think they call it marketing strategy. I just figure the refiners/retailers have found that nice sweet spot between the two end points. And that, simplistically enough, is why the price of fuel has risen recently.

An interesting confession if you read his words as I do. "Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson on Friday laid blame for the recent climb in U.S. retail gasoline prices squarely on tensions."

Sure and will have absolutely nothing to do with their own expected falling production this year.

Exxon Mobil has admitted it expects its output to drop 3% this year

Yea Rock, it's a tale of two commodities. Oil vs wheat. At 6.50 wheat, the producer gets about 2% for that loaf of bread. At $100 oil, what % is the producer getting for that gallon of gas? About 65.

doug - Depends on what "producer" you're talking about. Me, the guy selling oil, the royalty owners getting 20% or more off the top of what I sell my oil for, the state of La. that get around 15% off the top of the oil I sell, the parish that gets about 2% off the top of the oil I sell, the crude oil marketing guy I'm selling oil to, the barge operator who is hauling my oil to a refinery in Lake Charles so the marketing guy can get La Light Sweet prices instead of WTI, the refiner buying oil from the marketer and selling fuel to the retailers or the retailers selling to the public? Lots of fingers in that juicy pie. LOL.

I don't know the actual numbers but I would guess the guy at the station you fill up at is making the smallest profit. Next would be the refiners (except those lucky bastards in the midcontinent getting all that Canadian oil at WTI prices). Historically the higher the price of oil the smaller the profit margins for refiners and retailers. Producers like me are probably making the best spread. But notice I said spread and not profit. On some of my wells I'm making a huge profit. On a few I may actually lose money even though I'm selling oil for same price as my better wells. I might sell $4 million worth of $100/ bbl oil from such a well by the time it depletes but the well cost me $6 million to drill. So I make a nice $4 million cash flow but lose $2 million when the books are closed. This is why it's difficult to judge just how much "profit" any one portion of the process makes. What is typically reported is income or cash flow. But that indicates nothing about profit. A friend of mine was just laid off last month as his company prepared to shut down. They are producing a good bit of $100 oil. Doesn't matter: they spent too much finding it and now can't pay their bank debt. Yes: companies can go bankrupt even with $100+ oil prices. As it has always been your profit is determined more by what you spent than by what price you sell.

Yep, always takes a sharper pencil. What you buy, not what you sell.

But what I was referring to is the price of the commodity contained in the item at retail sale. Or another way, if bread was priced like gas, it'd be just over a dime a loaf, any price approaching 20 cents would start riots. 'Course they might be kinda squished loaves after all that pipeline travel. What's that Matt Simmons always said about oil, dime a cup?

I suspect there's a lot more costs in processing and moving the wheat and other stuff that goes into the bread than in the oil world. I can go to the store and buy a five-pound bag of whole wheat flour for about $5. At 60 pounds of wheat per bushel, the wheat is only about 11% of the price of the flour long before you get to bread. Multi-stage cleaning, milling, individual packaging, multiple inefficient transport steps, spoilage... Granted a big bakery gets volume discounts, but not clear how much.


2012-03-09 12:36 UTC

Solar Activity Continues, Another CME On Its Way

The coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout event from 0024 UTC March 7 (7:24 p.m. EST March 6) continues to affect the Earth and G3 (Strong) storming levels have now been observed. The magnetic field orientation needed to cause strong geomagnetic storming finally occurred overnight, so although it got off to a slow start, levels have reached what was predicted. Solar Radiation Storm levels remain at S2 (Moderate) levels, flattening out in response to a new, R2 (Moderate) solar flare occurring at 0353 UTC March 9 (10:53 p.m. EST March 8). This R2 event had an associated coronal mass ejection and analysis is pending to determine the expected arrival time and resulting geomagnetic storm intensity.

I reckon the aurora would have been most visible over the northern USA (and all of Canada) from maybe about 3am EST until local dawn. Probably storm levels will have dropped back too far for tonight except at high latitudes but still worth keeping an eye on real time data.

Be aware that most of the current aurora visibility display (including NASA/NOAA) are currently broken due to a combination of IT upgrades and ACE monitoring satellite outages - so don't use them for now. Go by the real-time Magnetic Field Kp Index and follow the latitude guide at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/Aurora/#kpmaps

We briefly touched 8 last night which would have been likely visible as far south as at least New York City if conditions were right. Chicago area looked as if it should have been good based on the numbers. I haven't checked cloud cover.

See also SpaceWeather for more info, spectacular images, and links.


I'm hoping to catch quite a display during a trip to Iceland next week.

Now cloud cover may have other ideas - seems like it's been rather stormy there recently.

Does anyone know if it's typically possible to just go to a different part of the island if one area is cloudy - or is it more likely that if it's cloudy in one location it's probably cloudy for all of Iceland ? Don't know if it's worth trying to chase them down or let them hopefully come to us :)

there's a saying in/about iceland: if you don't like the weather just wait 15 minutes.

IOW it's always windy and things change very quickly.

Thanks for the reply jukka - I suppose that's not too much different than New York State where I currently live - yesterday it was near 70 degrees and today it snowed heavily ! Oh well - it keeps things interesting at least.

Iceland has significant topography, which allows conditions to change significantly in a small horizontal difference.

Go north (north part of the island) young man!

Thanks fishoil - I suspected the north side of the island might have the clearer skies... I've been following the weather for Reykjavik for several weeks now and I haven't seen a sunny day forecasted yet. Of course as jukka says above it may be very changeable - the sun may make short appearances many times in a day but on the whole it could still be a cloudy day just like they forecasted :)

Catskill, the coastal areas where almost all the population lives is generally cloudy, wet, windy, and extremely variable. I think the northeastern portion of Iceland (opposite Reykjavik) is dryer than the southwest.

Your absolute best bet is to head into one of the big broad valleys in the interior of the island -- it's as dry as Mongolia in some places. This of course assumes that the gravel roads are passable this time of the year. Although very dry, blowing snow tends to gather in the road beds. Check with the locals before you do anything.

Virdia gets $100 million to start cellulose ethanol plant

Despite calls for finding alternatives to using corn to make biofuel, the United States currently has no such commercial biomass-to-sugar processing plants able to do so. That may soon change as Virdia has announced that it has received $100 million in public and private financing to build a plant in Mississippi that will convert wood chips into cellulosic sugar which it will sell to companies that make biofuels and other chemical products.

Virdia, which has just changed its name from HCL CleanTech Inc., says that in addition to a $75 million dollar loan and $155 million in tax incentives from the state of Mississippi, it has also received venture capital from three companies, Tamar Ventures Khosla Ventures and Burril & Company, totaling $20 million.

... bye, bye forests.

related Climate risks of bioenergy underestimated

Energy from biomass presents underappreciated risks, new research published in Nature Climate Change shows.

Large-scale cultivation of bioenergy crops could lead to increased net greenhouse-gas emissions when, for instance, forests are cleared for agricultural use.

Relax, it will be awhile before woody biomass is competitive with Nat gas and coal. In the mean time, there is a lot of commercial forest biomass that used to go to lumber and the pulp and paper industry that is accumulating in managed forests. In mountainous regions, there are a lot of areas that are too steep or remote to economically harvest for energy crops that are destined to become old growth forest.

What happened to the lumber and pulp & paper industries?
Is this just since 2008?

Paper consumption is falling quite quickly. I saw a graph (here on TOD, I believe) where U.S. newsprint consumption has fallen by half since 2000.

Has anyone tried to calculate how much energy there is if we were to burn all the trees in all the world? A few people have suggested as we come down from the peak humans will burn them all, so just wondering how much that would be in oil or coal equivalent?

(Forwarded query from a local climate list in SW Ontario. Any info would be appreciated.)

Interesting article on fracking by Bill McKibben. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/why-not-frack/

The following excerpted lines caught my attention, which might be pertinent to our region [SW Ontario]:

A second concern has to do with the damage being done to rivers and streams—and the water supply for homes and industries—by the briny soup that pours out of the fracking wells in large volume. Most of the chemical-laced slick water injected down the well will stay belowground, but for every million gallons, 200,000 to 400,000 gallons will be regurgitated back to the surface, bringing with it, McGraw writes,
not only the chemicals it included in the first place, but traces of the oil-laced drilling mud, and all the other noxious stuff that was already trapped down there in the rock: iron and chromium, radium and salt—lots of salt.

Some enterprising drilling companies have, Urbina wrote, “found ready buyers [for wastewater] in communities that spread it on roads for de-icing in the winter and for dust suppression in the summer. When ice melts or rain falls, the waste can run off roads and end up in the drinking supply.”

Does anyone out there know if there are local safeguards against "enterprising drilling companies" or intermediaries selling drilling wastewater/frackwash to regional procurement people/snow removal operators/dust control service contractors under some presumably environmentally benign or techno-obfuscatory name like "brine fluids", probably at really reasonable prices? We're close enough to New York State, Pennsylvania and other states where fracking is currently practiced to serve as potentially unwitting disposal markets for this probable toxic waste.

I'm aware of the somewhat circuitous route by which hydrofluorosilicic acid got "recycled" from phosphate fertilizer industry scrubber liquor toxic waste to water fluoridation chemical. I suspect there's a strong incentive for fracking companies or their subcontractors to use alternative disposal methods for frackwash to avoid high disposal costs, what with currently relatively low natural gas prices.

bio - There really is a very simple way to eliminate most of the potential environmental damage: don't dump the crap on the ground. Despite what you read there is little chance of environmental problems directly from the frac'ng effort. Bad cement jobs or ruptured casing can cause pollution problems. But that potential has nothing to do with the frac'ng. Such potential problems can occur with any well...frac'd or not.

In Texas and La. you can't dump produced frac fluids on the ground...period. We dispose of the nasties in deep injection wells. Not cheap but very effective. And in La. if I'm drilling in a wetlands area I'll have a ring dike around my location. And when it rains and water collects inside the ring dike I can just pump it out onto the round outside the dike, right? Nope....I have it sucked up and hauled to a certified disposal site and pay around $6/bbl to get rid of rain water. I've spent 100's of thousands of $ disposing of "toxic" rain water in La. LOL.

I've been pointing out from the beginning that the real risk was the illegal dumping of frac fluids at sites remote from the frac'd wells. Speaking of your neighbors in NY and PA they eventually discovered that such dumping was the major source of their pollution problem. But it was actually legal dumping: local municipal treatment centers were taking in the nasties (for a fat fee) and then discharging them untreated back into the environment. You wouldn't think it had to be required but both states passed law to make it illegal for local govts to continue the practice. There is a huge profit potential for disposal companies to illegal dump frac fluids. These are the folks you need to watch closely...not those big red Halliburton trucks.

You read a lot about potential frac fluid nightmares in the NE. But there have been 100's of thousands of fracs done in Texas, La, Miss and AL. yet you'll find very few stories about frac problems. And what you will find are those rare occasion of mechanical failure but more commonly illegal dumpers getting caught. And it almost always another oil patch hand helping to bust illegal dumpers. I've assisted twice in such efforts. Most of the hands live in areas where illegal dumpers might do dirty deed. My daughter drinks well water every day in one of these area. If I catch an dumper dropping that crap near my daughter's water well they'll have more to worry about than the TRRC and Texas Rangers.

Again it's a very easy fix: don't let folks dump the crap on the ground for any reason and if you do catch them doing just crucify them. Works well in Texas.

don't dump the crap on the ground.

Sounds compelling Rock, but if there is an economic advantage to doing something the environment takes a back seat. Will people dump toxic chemicals on the ground - people will.

There really is a very simple way to eliminate most of the potential environmental damage: don't dump the crap on the ground.

Err... I take it you did not read the link up top: Ohio: Hydraulic fracking led to earthquakes

The report's findings, the Ohio regulator said, show the earthquakes were based on "a number of coincidental circumstances." For one, investigators said, the well began operations just three months ahead of the first quake.

They also noted that the seismic activity was clustered around the well bore, and reported that a fault has since been identified in the Precambrian basement rock where water was being injected.

If that word gets out, and you can bet it will, this may cause a lot of new regulations that put a damper on a lot of new fracking.

Ron P.

Ron - I did read and noted with interest:"Geologists believe it is very difficult for all conditions to be met to induce seismic events," the report states. "In fact, all the evidence indicates that properly located … injection wells will not cause earthquakes." Also from your except: "a number of coincidental circumstances." Not exactly sure what that means, though.

And remember the prayer I say every night before I lay me down to sleep: Lord....please don't let anyone ever frac another shale well again. Granted that comes from a purely selfish perspective but, so what, everyone else is being selfish. LOL.

In Western Canada, companies are required to either recycle fracturing fluids for use in future fracturing jobs, or inject them into approved waste disposal wells for sequestration in isolated deep formations (1 km or so underground). They are not allowed to dispose of them in municipal wastewater treatment plants or in other ways.

The problem in Pennsylvania is that companies were allowed to dispose of oilfield wastewater in municipal treatment plants, which was absolutely not allowed in Western Canada.

I don't know what the rules are in Ontario. In fact, it appears Ontario has no rules applicable to the issue.

Ontario could always copy the rules from the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) since it is the senior regulatory authority in Canada and is responsible for most of Canada's oil and gas production. In general, that's what the other Western provinces do since the ERCB has most of the issues covered.

Thanks folks for your thoughts and knowledge on this issue. Yes, there's rules (except maybe in Ontario), and there's scruples. Let's hope we find both in working order (or we hang'em).

Looks like things might be moving in the right direction in the Great Lakes Basin:


Niagara At Large reports, “Mayor Paul Dyster and his five-member council in Niagara Falls, New York voted unanimously this March 5 to place environmental protection ahead of any monetary gain with a city-wide ban on chemically-contaminated ‘fracking’ waste that would have been discharged through the city’s wastewater treatment plant to the Niagara River.”


The Niagara Gazette adds, “Questions remain about the city’s legal standing when it comes to attempting to enforce such a ban against another entity like the water board which operates under a state authority. Recent favorable rulings from a pair of state supreme court justices have offered support to municipalities looking to enforce such bans. The city’s ordinance was crafted from one recently adopted by the city of Buffalo. Council members said they are confident it will survive scrutiny if tested in court.”


Numerous blogs highlighting our various campaign interventions against the treatment of fracking wastewater in Niagara Falls, New York can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22niagara+falls%22.

bio - Just amazes me to hear stories like that. In Texas (where the oil industry presumably rules the politicians) the state is the enforcer. If the leaders of any city here were caught polluting on that scale they would end up in state prison. As I said in an earlier post I was truly shocked to learn that NY and PA had to pass laws making it illegal for cities to do this. I never saw the actual law in NY but your post makes no sense: why is a city in NY trying to ban a practice the state has reported already made illegal? I'm sure all the TODsters would appreciate your digging out the facts.

Rockman, I find it amazing, too. In the Western provinces of Canada, which produce 95% of the country's oil and gas, anybody trying to dispose of frac fluids in a municipal wastewater treatment plant would probably go to jail. The only legal way to dispose of them is to recycle them or inject them into deep disposal wells.

There's no point in cities passing bylaws on the matter because it is made illegal through provincial laws, which override all local laws. However, the Eastern provinces (Ontario being Eastern in this context) don't seem to have any laws on the subject that I can find.

It's probably a matter of lack of familiarity with the oil industry. In places that have had 170,000 wells hydraulically fractured, like Alberta has over the last 50 years, governments become quite familiar with the issues concerning them.

Aid agency warns of West Africa food crisis

Oxfam, the UK-based group said 13 million people could be affected by the looming crisis.

The relief agency said on Friday that a dangerous combination of drought, high food prices, reduced harvests, poverty and conflict were spreading an emerging crisis across several nations including Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal.

In Chad, the situation is already so bad that some villagers are digging into ant hills to collect grain the insects have stored.

I went to Market Ticker to see what Denninger had to say about the jobs report. He's not impressed.

And I see he's also on the low-carb bandwagon.

We have not added a single job, adjusted for population, since 2006 -- and even then going all the way back to 2000 the "gains" were tiny and fleeting. Until and unless we stop sending jobs overseas there will be no durable economic improvement.

Oh, we'll stop all right. Of that I'm sure...

It seems that the guys in the market are staring to say that current oil price has a 10-20% fear premium for Iran. That the 'fundamentals' of supply and demand don't support this price. I don't think we will risk the election year on war with Iran. So, my question is, if we are starting out at this high price, in March, can the economy handle a normal summer driving season spike on top of this? Or, will we have to take the next step-down, that we used to talk about?

I really don't know where or how to find all the relevant figures but I am very curious as to how much less diesel (snow clearance: there essentially was none) and heating oil (very mild winter) was used in the N.E. and what the considered opinion is on how much of an effect this reduction in consumption would have had on price and supply.
In other words: did the exceptionally mild winter this year enable a bullet to be dodged and, if so, what calibre?

eastie - And here is where I think the confusion comes from:"... say that current oil price has a 10-20% fear premium for Iran." Just a guess but I don't think they mean the current price of oil but the current price bid for oil future contracts. I sell oil to my marketing guy who sells it to a refiner. The refiner pays a price that he thinks will allow him a decent profit margin when he sells to their wholesale/retail buyers. Those folks pay a price they guess will allow them a decent profit based on what the consumers will be willing to pay. So here's the question: based upon your concern about future problems with Iran how much more have you been willing to pay for you gasoline? In the end you're controlling how much the rest of us can charge: the retailer isn't going to pay more to the whole seller than he has to based on the price he expects you to pay. And the whole seller isn't going to pay the refiner more than he can while still making a profit. And my marketing guy isn't going to pay me more. And I've got no choice: I either sell what the marketing guys offer or I shut my wells in and my cash flow goes to zero.

So again I ask the question: how higher a price have you been willing to pay for your gasoline over your concerns about Iran? After all if you and all the rest of the consumers cut back your fuel consumption the rest of us in this daisy chain will have to cut back our price expectations. So there seems to fall the logic: the consumers' worries about Iran are causing them to drive more and thus put upward pressure on prices.

Just doesn't sound right, does it? OTOH if I play the oil futures market the potential problems with Iran might make me bet on future oil price increases. Anyone making such bets the last month or so should be making some nice profits right now. OTOH if matters with Iran calm down and the new high fuel prices cause consumption destruction the oil prices might slide and you'll lose your ass on those futures. Oil prices and oil futures prices: two very different animals IMHO.

Thanks Rock. That was well said.


I still would like to know how many of you think this economy can keep buying fuel through the summer driving season without having an 'event'?

eastie - just my WAG but I think we're closer to sliding into serious consumption destruction (I'm like that term more then demand destruction). But like Don says it difficut to project. OTOH there's a limit to how much folks can spend on fuel. OTOOH if more folks are going back to work, albeit slowly, that would increase consumption demand. But after 36 years I've learned one thing about price swings in the oil patch: they tend to happen slowly and often unnoticed at first. And they take a very long time to correct themselves. I can imagine this summer's rise in fuel prices showing up in consumer patterns well into next spring. I can envision NG to take years to rise even if drilling slows up significantly in the next 12 months. All parts of the system are so large that changes take major swings in the controlling factors over long periods of time.

Doesn't the spot cash price meet the futures price on delivery day?

Of course nobody can answer your question with any degree of confidence because it depends on what happens to supply (could go down abruptly due to war in the Middle East or for other reasons) and demand, which to a large extent depends on the rate of growth in global GDP. From studying the history of oil prices, the One Great Truth is that the price of oil is highly variable. It can go highter than anybody predicted (e.g. 1981) or it can go lower than anybody predicted (e.g. 1986).

Once in a while the price of oil stays approximately the same over a year; these times are few and far between since 1973.

My guess is that the price of gasoline in most places in the U.S. will not go over $5 per gallon during the coming summer. Why do I guess this way? First, I do not think there will be war in the Middle East which could decrease world oil supply, e.g. if Iran were to mine the Strait of Hormuz. Second, I think the growth in the demand for both gasoline and diesel won't rise much because of slowing growth in real GDP rates around the world. (Europe is going into another recession; U.S. real economic growth is slow; even China and India are showing lower rates of growth in real GDP this year compared to earlier rates.)

The gasoline futures chain is predicting a 6 cent decrease by July 12

RBJ12.NYM RBOB Gasoline Apr 12 3.34
RBK12.NYM RBOB Gasoline May 12 3.33
RBM12.NYM RBOB Gasoline Jun 12 3.31
RBN12.NYM RBOB Gasoline Jul 12 3.28

Current price for unleaded regular in Furnace Creek, California is $5.879.
Sometimes I go off the beaten path....A fill-up would be $212.00

Bloomberg: Breaking News

ISDA Says Credit Event Has Occurred With Respect to Greece

They always release this stuff on Friday afternoon. Funny this, after all of the financial pages are touting the 'success' of the Greek debt swap, yesterday. Methinks this will be a credit non-event. Awaiting clarification...

I am waiting for someone to tell this poor little engineer what a "credit restructuring event" is.

Don Sailorman - can you help?

Generally, it is a fancy phrase used when someone is broke/has cash flow problems. The term of a loan may be lengthened, monthly payments cut, interest adjusted or a portion of the debt is written off. IOW just about any method that can be dreamed up to stop someone from completely defaulting/declaring bankruptcy.

In the case of Greece, it has much bigger implications. Just over the last few days, the number of creditors willing to accept a significant haircut jumped from <25% to the 95% stated in the above article.

I don't know how the 70% were convinced, but my bet is that it involved pointy sticks.

The problem is Credit Default Swaps. There is a mechanism and an authority (can't remember the name right now) that deems whether a default has occurred or not. You can only claim your CDS (sort of like an insurance policy) if TPTB say it's a default.

Unlike insurance, there is no requirement for the people that issue CDSs to prove that they have the money to fork over, if the debt goes bad, so a cascade $h!tstorm could be triggered if Greece gives the bond market the middle finger. Of course, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are all waiting in line with their hands out, with much bigger debts. This could show the CDS market as the smoke and mirrors it is.

Like Warren Buffet says; "You only know who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

Re: CDS:

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc., known as ISDA, said its EMEA Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee resolved unanimously that a restructuring credit event has occurred with respect to Greece.

[see eastex's link, above]

What does this mean? Trigger? No trigger?...

Thanks Ghung!

That was the outfit I was thinking of.

From what I read, and IIRC, if a restructuring has occurred, then the patient is still breathing, i.e. there is no default, so there is no CDS trigger. The patient may be in a coma, on life support, but everything is fine.

In the case of Greece, if someone puts a gun to your head and you give him money, you haven't been robbed.

"'e's not dead, 'e's just restin'. 'e's shagged out after a long squawk"


I'll know more tomorrow, when I have the Saturday "Wall Street Journal" in my hands, but my interpretation today is that credit default swaps and other derivatives will have to be paid.

If there had been no "restructuring event," then credit default swaps would not have to be paid. To the best of my memory, the powers that be were trying to avoid a "credit event." In other words, the financial powers were trying to avoid a situation where Greece's default sets off a row of dominos of Eurozone countries and banks defaulting. Up to yesterday and through most of today it looked as if there would be a negotiated and orderly credit default; I'm not sure what to make of the Bloomberg story and have not seen that story on other news sources.

This is my understanding as well, Don. A default my any other name is still a default. Insurance on these loans, bonds, whatever, was bought and sold. The alternative is just another chapter in the greatest ripoff in history. So it goes... to the courts for ten years I expect, like the Exxon-Valdez mess, where it all began.

update: Zerohedge's take here....

...and more from Bloomberg.

The International Swaps & Derivatives Association yesterday ruled that Greece’s use of collective action clauses forcing investors to take losses under the nation’s debt restructuring will trigger default insurance payouts.

Looks like Austria may have to cover a few billion in US bets on Greece.

Assuming CDS's insure either/or/both prinicipal or interest payments, and the renegotiated contract says the bond (and CDS) owner isn't getting all he bargained for, the CDS holder would be obligated to make up the shortfall. But, that assumes the legal system follows plain ordinary language..

The WSJ has a later story (6:34 p.m. ET) (posted online behind a paywall?):

Greek Default Contracts to Pay on Losses

Meanwhile, a panel of market participants ruled Friday that the restructuring constitutes a credit event and would trigger insurance-like contracts that pay off if creditors suffer losses.
ISDA said an auction would be held March 19 to determine how much holders of the contracts would be paid. There is a total of $3.2 billion in outstanding contracts, after subtracting the contracts bought and sold by the same firm. The payouts would total no more than that sum.

E. Swanson

I believe that article in "The Wall Street Journal." It answers a lot of the questions that have been asked in comments above on the topic of the debt crisis in Greece.

I don't know how the 70% were convinced, but my bet is that it involved pointy sticks.

And plenty of squealing. I suspect the phrase, "20% of something is better than 100% of nothing", may have featured prominently in those discussions.

"Credit restructure" is a polite way to refer to partial or complete defaulting on debt. In terms of Greece's problems, a "credit restructuring" usually refers to an orderly default. An orderly default is much less bad than a disorderly default. So the big goal with Greece is to keep its default or bankruptcy orderly. Unless you get general agreement among creditors, it is generally not possible to get an orderly default.

I also just saw this:

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Plans Default on Bond Payments


Is this the largest US city to default on bond payments since the financial crises began?

Prepper Alert !

Auction date set for abandoned French village, on sale for $440,000

"The hamlet of Courbefy, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) southwest of Paris, fell into the hands of bank Credit Agricole earlier this month after its owners stopped paying their mortgage. The village of rustic buildings, a horse stable, tennis court and swimming pool was previously a luxury hotel and restaurant."

I believe there were formerly 200 residents living there, in 18 or so buildings, on 22 acres. In need of TLC. Would suit a large extended family or prepper group.

great find, but that violates the increasingly-hard-not-to- violate rule of "secure land one tank of gas from any major city so you are not overwhelmed instantly upon the mass evacuation" rule.

(I hear they have many rules that are hard not to violate)


I suppose it didn't occur to anyone that somebody could carry a gas can in the back of the car/truck for extra distance, if gas was available. OTOH, if gas wasn't readily available, how many people would have precisely a full tank ?

Long ago when I last checked on the Survivalist scene, they were still busy making lists of guns'n'ammmo needed to wipe out invading herds etc.

Any links to the current updated 'list'?

Also just to be sure one should pick places with town+driving-distance+days-walking-distance just to be on the safe side.

And for those with extra tanks or supplies - one should pick a place where the roads leading up to it are relatively easy to block - for example by 'land-slides' or stream-crossings 'wiping away the road' - as discouragements to venture further.

"..they were still busy making lists of guns'n'ammmo needed to wipe out invading herds etc."

That's just the ones that are advertizing their plans online.

Hey, this Europe, there is nowhere that isn't within a gas tanks distance of a major city.

yeah i was being sarcastic (or trying to be)
I should have made it more obvious.

Sounds like it might be a good candidate for one of those communal living setups. If it was a hotel, the rooms are probably kind of small for full-time living. But for a communal setup, it would be perfect.

Preppers might not like its closeness to Paris, but it's great for a "long descent" situation. Greer has argued that a farm near the city is better. You can make money now, by selling produce to city folk. You can even keep your day job while you figure out farming.

Some photos at the link below :-


Here's one in Tuscany, too. A little more pricey at 3 million Euros.


30 dwellings on 24 acres, near Florence.

My wife didn't want move out of the city so I bought land near the city. Last year my first crop was flooded by a 1 in 500 year event -- luckily I still have my day job so I can figure out how to work with the land effectively. I have to fix my tractor today, it broke down while tilling in a green manure last fall. For somebody with a computer programming background and white-collar parents, this can be quite a learning curve. I think in 5 years, I may be ready to independently farm full-time.

Farming has a really steep learning curve. Even my urban edible landscape has taken 5 years to get into real production, and I only have about 1500 sq feet and some containers ;)

This will be my 6th real gardening season. It's looking hopeful for an early start, as long as we don't get monster hail in May, or something.

More news on the Philips L-Prize lamp:

Government-subsidized green light bulb carries costly price tag

The U.S. government last year announced a $10 million award, dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a “green” but affordable light bulb.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.” There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.

Now the winning bulb is on the market.

The price is $50.

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/government-subsidized-gre...

We make extensive use of LEDs in our retrofit work, but the economics can still be a formidable challenge and contrary to what many believe (or have been told), LEDs are not the only game in town.

One of the facilities that we're currently upgrading has ninety 400-watt high pressure sodium fixtures atop twelve metre high masts, twelve more 400-watters on six metre masts and seventy-two 150-watt HPS wall packs. This is a high security facility and the orangey-yellow light cast by these HPS fixtures was a major deficiency with respect to their extensive array of CCTV cameras. To replace what they have now with a comparable performance LED system would run well into the six figures, e.g., my cost on a 347-volt LED wall pack is over $600.00 whereas I can purchase a 100-watt metal halide unit for one-quarter that.

Ultimately, it was agreed that we could replace the 400-watt HPS lights on the twelve metre poles with Philips 330-watt AllStarts (driven by new pulse start ballasts) and 205-watt AllStarts at six metres. The 150-watt HPS wall packs will be swapped out for 100-watt metal halides. Although the the reduction in load is relatively modest, the improvement in light quality is phenomenal and it was this and not the utility savings that was the primary driver behind this project. That said, overhauling the exterior lighting and replacing one hundred and forty-two 250-watt metal halide fixtures inside the facility with 4-lamp T8 high bay fluorescents will trim their electricity use by over 200,000 kWh a year (the equivalent of taking twenty homes off the grid).

A couple pictures of this work:




Off in the distance, you can see one of the twelve meter, three-head masts that has been retrofitted with the 330-watt AllStarts and in the foreground a two-head six metre mast fitted with the 205s. BTW, our material costs are in the range of $120.00 per head; a new LED fixture would have easily cost ten to fifteen times that.


You could install a couple of quadrillion of these puppies...


Might make it a touch colder than usual in the local area...


Another article about more practical advances in LEDs:


I found it amusing how this article says that CFLs are a miserable failure or words to that effect...funny, I have been lighting my house some 90% with CFLs for going on three years with zero failures, including outdoor fixtures, some without any globe shielding from the environment (just a metal 'hat' over the top, bulbs hanging upside down. I have CFLs right side up, upside down, in recessed can fixtures, and sideways in track lighting and even in ceiling surface-mount fixtures with glass globes sealed against the metal fixture base...no problems. I did a little initial experimenting to find the right color temps and to put some instant-on CFLs in places the family didn't want to wait a minute or two for full light...

I am all for LED lighting advances, but I find CFLs to be an acceptable solution...

From up top "Doom in(NOT) coming - Forbes

I partially agree. I'm thinking that Peak Oil may be coming soon, but not Peak Liquids. At some price per barrel CTL, GTL, EOR, and/or biofuels will become economic and stem the production decline. NG can be converted into methanol - currently (US retail) $3.00/gallon equivalent, for example. If the eventual decline in oil production is gradual enough, and the price of oil high enough, liquid fuels need not decline.

If oil were $200/barrel, and US gasoline prices $8/gallon, there may be a severe recession, but not the end of civilization. Yes, coal and ng will also eventually run out, but that time frame may be much longer than the PO timeframe.

I'm fearing the grim reality of a long adjustment period, but not the return to horse and buggy. Anybody have a price point where CTL, GTL, EOR, biofuels would ramp up quickly enough to stem PO decline?

I'm fearing the grim reality of a long adjustment period

So it will still be BAU? A long adjustment period? While we what, get use to alternative fuels? You're saying that some liquid that is much less dense energy wise than crude and costs a lot more to bring to market will allow us to just keep going, but we will adjust to it?

What we got use to was energy dense oil that provided so much energy for so little effort, i.e. lots of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI), that it was easy to make a profit, to pay down loans over long periods of time because profits spurned growth of 5-15% per year. Even now with crude on a production plateau since May 05, and alternative fuels ramping up, growth is in the minus territory in the EU, is anemic in the US at 1-2% (and that's with a govt. willing to fudge the numbers) and has dropped in China from a high of 14% to an estimated growth rate this year of 7.4%. China still has growth to talk about, but that's from burning 3x as much coal as the US. All the while world population is continuing to rise.

So what do we do when crude oil descends from a plateau? It's kind of easy to imagine a slimmer, leaner, tougher populace, but how do we keep this level of consumer driven commerce going as overall net energy available declines? How will that greatly reduced consumerism keep BAU going? Just pay much more for energy and expect to maintain a very complex infrastructure?

The implications of peak oil in my view is the point where you tally up the trends, the continued decline of net energy, rising population, increasing costs of food, defaulting loans, rising unemployment (even though the govt. says all is well), infrastructure that is degrading into obsolescence and its like an equation with the same answer everytime of; It won't work.

Maybe for a time we can play musical chairs, but at some point it degrades into smaller spheres of greatly reduced living standards. What seems like middle class today will seem like exceedingly super wealthy once it breaks down. Think of it like a car. Can a car continue for long after the alternator goes out? Can it stay cool in spite of damage to the radiator? A car is a complex system just as society is, and both require all systems to work pretty darn well to keep going, but at some point the car is at the side of the road just as BAU will be sidelined.

But people will endure, just not anywhere near as many and not as lavishly.

At some price per barrel CTL, GTL, EOR, and/or biofuels will become economic and stem the production decline. NG can be converted into methanol - currently (US retail) $3.00/gallon equivalent, for example.

Perhaps a collapse can be avoided but you can't run a thriving economy based on CTL, GTL's. In fact let me rephrase, under no circumstances do I see the 8-9 billion people enjoying the current standard of living with the alternatives you are talking about.

As I have once or twice opined, things look a little different when one looks at Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) and Available Net Exports (ANE, i.e., GNE less Chindia's net imports).

Our data table shows that the volumetric ANE decline rate from 2005 to 2010 was 1.0 mbpd per year. I estimate that the volumetric ANE decline rate will accelerate to between 1.4 and 2.0 mbpd per year between 2010 and 2020.

In some cases, we can extrapolate the initial rate of increase in the Consumption to Production ratio of total petroleum liquids (C/P) to determine approximately when net exports might approach zero (as the C/P ratio approaches 100%), and thus we can integrate the area under what tends to be a triangular shaped curve to get a reasonable ballpark estimate for Cumulative Net Exports (CNE).

Also, a rough rule of thumb is that about one-half of post-peak CNE are shipped one-third of the way into a net export decline period (e.g., ELM, Egypt, UK, Indonesia).

Some Applications:

Saudi Arabia Post-2005 CNE Estimate

I estimate that 2011 annual Saudi net exports (total petroleum liquids) will be 1.0 to 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 annual rate of 9.1 mbpd, as we are seeing a small change in the slope of the projected and ongoing net export decline. If we take a net export rate of 7.8 mbpd as a middle case estimate, then Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports some time around 2028 (projecting the 2005 to 2011 estimated Consumption to Production ratios, total petroleum liquids, which increased from 18% in 2005 to an estimated 28% in 2011). The 2028 estimate is consistent with Sam Foucher's projections.

Post-2005 Saudi CNE would approximately be: 3.3 Gb/year X 23 years X 0.5, which would be approximately 38 Gb. Post-2005 Saudi CNE are about 17.5 Gb through 2011, so based on this ballpark estimate, post-2005 Saudi CNE would already be about 46% depleted.

You can see how this estimate of about 21 billion barrels in remaining cumulative Saudi net oil exports differs "slightly" from conventional wisdom.

Global Net Export (GNE) Post-2005 CNE estimate

Our data table shows the C/P ratio for the top 33 net oil exporters in 2005 (GNE) increasing from 26.9% in 2005 to 31.1% in 2010, a 2.9%/year rate of increase. This suggests that GNE would approach zero in 45 years from 2005, or around 2050, suggesting post-2005 Global CNE of about 374 Gb, and it suggests that Global CNE will be about 50% depleted around 2020.

CANE (Cumulative Available Net Exports)

The ratio of Chindia's combined net oil imports to GNE increased from 11.2% in 2005 to 17.6% in 2010. This suggests that ANE might approach zero in 24 years after 2005, or around 2029, suggesting post-2005 CANE of about 175 Gb, and it suggests that CANE would be about 50% depleted by the end of next year, 2013.

No Blood for Oil?

The video at the bottom of this post shows that the U.S. government will sacrifice its citizens for oil, if enough oil is involved.

They don't sell their citizens cheap y'all ... they get the highest prices for them!

How patriotic!

You can build your very own energy producing windmill from scrap too! A short video of an African boy who did just that.Inspiring tale.


Williams website:


This guy is a born engineer. Let's hope his talents are suitably honed and rewarded.

(Moving a thread from here to try to avoid bad karma.)

Humanity is collectively behaving no more intelligently that rats. At least rats keep their populations within the bounds of the capacity of the environment,

All over the world, total fertility rates have been dropping like rocks, below replacement levels. Countries that remain high are mostly African, since the have not embraced market economies to any appreciable degree. Humanity is the only species that is even aware of these issues and we try and do improve on many fronts.

Animal life will not be around for a few billion more years. We have a couple hundred million more until the Sun envelopes the Earth.

Let's say the truth is somewhere in between. Wikipedia says this: "The increase in solar temperatures is such that in about another billion years the surface of the Earth will likely become too hot for liquid water to exist, ending all terrestrial life."

That is around the same time period that allowed for the diversification of mammals so after we die off the planet might get one last chance to diversify life again before being burnt to a crisp.

The dinosaur extinction was 65 million years ago. I maintain that we'll probably do no harm that isn't repaired in a million years, but at worst, it'll be like that extinction and then life will have 10-20 times the period since then before being burnt to a crisp.

Our societies now are fundamentally ordered no better than they were in the Dark Ages;

Extremely strange view. I don't know where to begin to counter that.

The average person today is poorer than 50 years ago despite all the advances technology has brought.

Poorer how? Smaller living space? Less vehicle miles travelled? Worse and fewer cars? Shorter life-spans? Worse knowledge? Worse outcome of medical treatments?

Since growth has now stagnated globally

That is not true, or at least way too early to call. 2008-2009 was lost, but other than that, growth has been quite ok globally, despite eurozone woes, and prospects seems ok too. If history is any guide, gdp per capita will return to trend, i.e. the 2008-2009 dip will be compensated for in time.

Attempting to grow the world out of its problems, when that economic activity is almost entirely powered with non-renewable fossil fuel sources, is a recipe for certain suicide.

The developed countries actually can do without growth internally, but globally, growth is needed to make the other countries free. China, India, North Korea, Greater ME, Africa cannot become truly free without urban middle classes. And without their freedom and convergence, we cannot, long term, live in peace with them. So not growing would be suicide. Fossil fuels or not is a matter of economy. Growth is needed for us to find alternatives and afford them.

Star Trek is for dreamers. See Tom Murphy's Do the Math posts on the insurmountable problems involved with colonizing space.

It was not the space travel and aliens I were thinking about. Merely a high-tech, prosperous global society with low environmental footprint.