Drumbeat: March 10, 2012

Nuclear Disaster in Japan Was Avoidable, Critics Contend

TOKYO — A year after a huge earthquake and tsunami caused nearly catastrophic meltdowns at a nuclear plant, Japan is still grappling with a crucial question: was the accident simply the result of an unforeseeable natural disaster or something that could have been prevented?

Japan’s nuclear regulators and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, have said that the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 45-foot tsunami on March 11 that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were far larger than anything that scientists had predicted. That conclusion has allowed the company to argue that it is not responsible for the triple meltdown, which forced the evacuation of about 90,000 people.

But some insiders from Japan’s tightly knit nuclear industry have stepped forward to say that Tepco and regulators had for years ignored warnings of the possibility of a larger-than-expected tsunami in northeastern Japan, and thus failed to take adequate countermeasures, such as raising wave walls or placing backup generators on higher ground.

Post-Fukushima U.S. Nuclear Reactor Rules Questioned Over Cost, Adequacy

The first rules for U.S. reactors imposed in response to last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan are fueling a debate over the adequacy and cost of the measures.

A Year After Fukushima Meltdown, Is Nuke Power Any Safer?

Nuclear power plants are safer than they were a year ago as the nuclear industry, regulators and governments learned and acted on the lessons of the TEPCO nightmare. But safety must never be taken for granted, said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA in a press release on Friday.

A year after Japan’s triple disaster, an uncertain recovery

ISHINOMAKI, Japan — One year later, nothing is resolved.

The rubble and ocean muck of last March 11 have been scrubbed from every wall, pulled from every basement and picked from every crevasse. Now the debris is piled in terraced mountains at the edge of this town along Japan’s tsunami-devastated northeastern coastline.

Nuclear renaissance? More like nuclear standstill

A power-hungry world needs clean, reliable energy sources, but the cost of nuclear, and heightened safety concerns from Fukushima, have stalled nuclear's expansion.

Oil Increases for a Third Day as U.S. Payrolls Climb in February Report

Oil climbed for a third day in New York after U.S. employers boosted payrolls more than forecast, bolstering optimism that the world’s largest economy and fuel demand will grow.

Futures rose 0.8 percent after the Labor Department said payrolls increased by 227,000 in February. A gain of 210,000 was projected, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Crude also advanced as Greece pushed through the biggest sovereign restructuring in history.

Natural gas prices hit 10-year low

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Natural gas future prices hit a 10-year low Thursday as slack demand and rising production continued to fuel an oversupply of the product.

Natural gas futures hit $2.27 per million British thermal units Thursday, the lowest price since early 2002. Prices edged up slightly Friday but were still hovering around the lowest level in a decade.

Thailand: Ministry promises price rejig by April

Mr Arak told a seminar on the ministry's 2012 policy that the most urgent issue is tackling oil prices, which affect both individuals and businesses.

He had no information on the percentage of gradual increase in fuel prices, saying only that it would not be a one-time increase.

The current subsidised price of LPG for the household sector is 18.13 baht per kilogramme against a market price of 40 baht.

Time, economics against Thompson gas drilling

ASPEN — Time appears to be running out for a Houston-based oil and gas company that has the most aggressive drilling plan in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale.

For a Shell Executive, Much Head-Scratching

Royal Dutch Shell is getting closer to winning approval to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters after several years’ and more than $4 billion worth of efforts. But for the Swiss-born executive, it is bewildering to watch the Obama administration withhold approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude from oil sands in Canada to refineries on the gulf coast. (Shell is a big investor in the Canadian oil sands.)

Nor does Mr. Voser understand why there is no consensus on embracing the development of natural gas from new shale fields through hydraulic fracturing (Shell is also a global leader in gas production.)

Natural gas revolution is a safe, abundant force for good

The natural gas revolution is by far the most significant energy development in decades. Thanks to new technology and innovation, today we can affordably tap into vast fields of natural gas embedded in rocks deep in the earth, recovering a resource that just a few years ago was considered out of reach.

But as with the extraction of any natural resource, the opportunities come with challenges. Many in areas where gas is being developed worry modern production techniques will harm their environment and endanger their health. These concerns must be addressed.

Texas Democrats should share credit for boom in gas

Some of what Democrats are doing today involves preferences for domestic oil exploration and development but also a sustainable industrial policy. This favors petroleum-related technology development and exports as well as green technologies that will increasingly substitute for fossil fuel. What we can reasonably expect from it all is a worldwide industry centered here in Greater Houston and supported by a cosmopolitan and creative culture.

Obama strikes back at GOP critics on gas prices

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is hitting back at Republican criticism of his energy policies and his role in controlling gasoline prices.

Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to underscore his administration's work to develop alternative energy sources and increase fuel efficiency.

Union leaders seek to mend divisions over pipeline

WASHINGTON – Unions may be united in working to re-elect President Barack Obama, but their leaders also are trying to repair bitter divisions over his rejection of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Trade unions representing workers who stand to benefit from thousands of new construction jobs from the Keystone XL pipeline are furious at other unions that joined environmentalists in opposing the project.

Ship runs aground off Norway’s southwest coast, authorities checking for oil leaks

OSLO, Norway — Authorities say a container ship has run aground off Norway’s southwestern coast, leaving a film of oil in the surrounding waters.

Bahrain protesters boost pressures on king with huge march; sporadic clashes

MANAMA, Bahrain — Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters flooded a major highway in Bahrain on Friday in one of the largest opposition rallies in months against the Gulf nation’s rulers. Security forces fired tear gas at smaller groups attempting to reach a heavily guarded square that was once the hub of the uprising.

Officials: Yemen forces target militant hideouts, killing 18

(CNN) -- Yemeni air forces targeted militant hideouts in the south, killing at least 18 suspected al Qaeda insurgents, security officials said Saturday.

U.S. preparing to restart military aid to Yemen

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is planning to restart programs that would fund military training and equipment in Yemen, nearly a year after they were shut down because of escalating chaos in the embattled country.

Syria forces in new assault amid diplomacy efforts

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian troops pushed ahead with a new assault on the northern region of Idlib on Saturday, shelling one of the centers of the uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule and sending families fleeing for safety as armed rebels tried to fend off the attack. Thick black smoke billowed into the sky.

Syncrude takes damaged unit down for 30 days

(Reuters) - A processing unit at the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands plant that was damaged by a minor fire last week will be down for repairs for a month, forcing the operation to push back scheduled maintenance of similar unit, the venture's largest interest owner said on Friday.

Peter Beutel, Energy Analyst Who Appeared on TV, Dies at 56

Peter Beutel, an analyst and editor of the Daily Energy Hedger newsletter, who often appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg Television and Fox News, has died. He was 56.

BP accused of selling "dirty gasoline" in California

Californian regulators allege BP sold gasoline between December 2008 and March 2009 that failed to comply with state limits on the amount of benzene and other potentially harmful chemicals it can contain.

Fracking in New York: Risk vs. Reward

(CNN) -- The battle over hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York pits farmers against environmentalists, neighbor vs. neighbor, as gas companies wait to find out if they'll be able to unlock the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale formation thousands of feet below the earth's surface.

As a panel appointed by New York's governor looks into whether it can be done safely in New York, landowners look with envy toward neighboring Pennsylvania, where gas companies are paying in excess of $1,000 per acre plus royalties for the right to drill for natural gas on a property.

The American oil boom and its impact on Canada

The surge in U.S. (and Canadian) production has held down the price of benchmark U.S. crude oil, West Texas intermediate (WTI), and forced Canadian producers to accept steeper than usual discounts on WTI prices. In response, at least one Canadian oil company temporarily shut down some production. What has been a boon for the U.S. oil-producing companies and regions is a negative for Canadian oil companies, which carry the burden of oil sands projects that have some of the highest costs per barrel in the world. This could also reduce price-based royalties so important to the budgets of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

'Peak oil' debate dead amid U.S. boom: BMO's Sherry Cooper

An "unexpected boom" in oil supplies ends the debate on "peak oil," Bank of Montreal's chief economist believes.

Sherry Cooper took a look this week on the surge in production in the United States and Canada. And ironically, she says, many are looking at the negative hit to the economy from high prices while it's oil production that has been the biggest boon to economic growth and jobs.

"Two years ago it was believed that oil molecules were too large to extract from shale," she said. "But now, new fracking technologies and horizontal drilling has led to the biggest oil boom in many years."

Oil is still there but harder to extract

The fact is that oil and gasoline prices may never look back, as we gradually enter a decline phase in fossil fuel availability, especially with oil. There is still a lot of oil in the earth’s outer crust, but it is much harder to extract. Therefore the slow rate at which we can produce it won’t match the demands of 70 million new people/year, along with the growing aspirations of billions in the less developed world. Oil is not just for transportation but also for the hundreds of products like plastics, rubber, medicine, fertilizer, pesticides, etc, made from petroleum feed stocks.

Last one into Bantry, please turn off the lights

VISITORS TO BANTRY, in west Cork this St Patrick’s weekend could be forgiven for thinking they have entered a lost realm. The Fadó festival in the town seeks to rekindle the days before the introduction of electricity, interpreting it as a kind of magical era when stories were told in the dancing shadows of candlelight. Bars will reek of burning turf and street lights will be decommissioned for novelty effect.

The town, steeped in history and folklore, is well placed to recreate the pre-electrification era, as Toby Campbell, a member of the organising committee, explains. The rush and bustle of modern living are pushing society to its limits, creating a vacuum of desire for a less demanding lifestyle, he says.

Doomsday business is booming

Reality TV shows and emergency shelters, books and supplies of freeze-dried food. Whether or not you believe in the Mayan prophecy, Peak Oil or Global flooding, there is big money being made out of the coming collapse.

From society’s wealthiest and powerful Wall Streeters to rural bug-out types, people are preparing for the worst, and sparing no expense on elaborate underground shelters, buying years’ worth of non-perishable foods and stockpiling fuel and ammunition. Some have embraced the term “preppers,” although precisely what they are preparing for varies, reported Fox news today

‘Doomsday Preppers’ promotes readiness but unrealistically

Besides the issue of anticipating such dramatic events, some of the ways the individuals on the show have gone about prepping are suspect. According to those on the show, when the world ends or some catastrophic disaster occurs, everyone who has not prepared is going to turn the world into a living version of "Mad Max" or "The Road." However, I believe those who think hyperinflation is going to occur in the wake of a much greater disaster are going about their solution the wrong way.

Their solution is to buy bulk from a store and stockpile food. See the problem? People are expecting that inflation will make goods unobtainable and their solution includes getting their food from the future unreliable source. Some have circumvented this issue by starting their own farms and gardens, but the show doesn't differentiate from renewable and non-renewable.

New National Geographic show may not be so crazy after all

Every time I think I've seen it all they come up with a new episode featuring someone who manages to outdo the guy who makes his family eat roadkill for dinner and routinely tests his children's self-defense skills by sneaking up on them at all hours of the day with a fake gun. Yeah. For reals.

What will life be like in 2025?

Would you like a personal guru to organise your profile on social networks, a digital fireside in your community where you can tell stories, or be able to plug straight into the internet of things? These things might be reality in 2025, as we’ve been exploring with Sony on the Futurescapes project.

The project has allowed us to think about what might the world look like on 2025 and exploring how technology might enable sustainable lifestyles in the future. It’s not about predicting so much as imagining the possibilities.

Nuclear power deal signed with US firm

China Power Investment Corp signed an agreement on nuclear power development with Duke Energy on Friday, said the company's president, Lu Qizhou.

Lu didn't reveal details of the agreement, but said that China's cooperation with the United States in the clean energy sector is increasing.

Former energy chief calls for policy support on solar, wind energy

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's former energy chief on Saturday said more policy support is needed to promote the use of solar and wind power in the Chinese market.

Germany to Install Record Solar Panels This Year, DIHK Says

Germany will probably install a record amount of solar panels this year even as the world’s biggest market for the industry plans to cut subsidies, according to the DIHK national industry and trade chambers.

Scoot Networks scooter sharing service launches

Scoot is targeted at regular urban commuters who might otherwise attempt to dash around the city via taxi, bus or train, as well as those who might use the service to get around town only once in awhile. What's more, the scooters are controlled by your smartphone—you can reserve a car through an app on your iPhone, and then the phone in effect becomes your key, and dashboard. The scooter starts when you plug in the phone.

Work together to tackle food insecurity: al-Attiya

Arid and semi-arid countries should work together to confront the threat of food insecurity, according to the chairman of Qatar National Food Security Programme.

Surviving the Season (review of ‘After the Snow,’ by S. D. Crockett)

Fifteen-year-old Willo was born after the onset of a new ice age that has left Europe in winter’s grip in S. D. Crockett’s atmospheric first novel, “After the Snow,” a post-apocalyptic thriller for the post-global-warming era. A strong survivor, he lives with his family of “stragglers” in the hills outside the city. He wears a coat of hand-stitched skins and a dog skull as a fierce kind of hat, and when his family is taken away by the government, he goes out in search of them, following the voice of a dog inside his head. Traveling across a harsh, cold, snow-­covered terrain filled with wild packs of dogs, Willo heads into the city, a bleak realm of starvation and violence. Along the way, he falls for a girl and discovers his family secrets, as well as the deep truth of who he is and where he belongs.

White Trumps Black in Urban Cool Contest

Temperatures on three white roofs in Queens were up to 43 degrees lower than those recorded on their black counterparts in the summertime, a study showed.

Kuwait joins global bid to reduce emissions

Kuwait has officially joined the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership in an effort to further reduce emissions from the burning of natural gas associated with oil production in the Middle East.

EU Nations to Clash Over CO2 Goals as Poland Threatens Veto

European Union nations are set for a clash over the bloc’s strategy to cut greenhouse gases at a meeting today after Poland threatened to veto any declaration that may lead to stricter targets in the future.

A Figurative War to Replace a Real One

Curbing methane and soot may be a fast, if incomplete, way to slow global warming.

There is breaking news on climate change this morning.

Inhofe refutes climate science with scripture

In particular, Inhofe told Voice of Christian Youth America's Vic Eliason about his favorite Biblical citation included in his new anti-climate book, "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future."

"[T]he Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that 'as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.' My point is, God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

And if you think that is scarey think about this, if Republicans claim the Senate majority in the 2012 elections, Inhofe will be the chairman of the Senate committee on the environment.

Ron P.

To quote from the movie, Cool Hand Luke: "What we have here is a failure to communicate"...

E. Swanson

"God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water the fire next time."

from "Mary Don't You Weep"

Exacly. The guy should read his book. Most of us know that the Bible actually predicts the earth to be destroyed.

The earth dries up and withers,
the world languishes and withers,
the heavens languish with the earth.
The earth is defiled by its people

Isiah 24:4-5

The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

Rev 11:18

The world will be destroyed, and it will be destroyed by people. I so wished this guy would read his book.

Part of the problem is that many/(some?) people think that will be a good thing. For then the set of good people (to which they are sure they belong), will recieve their heavenly reward. So to those who are waiting the rapture, we can't destroy it fast enough.

I just watched the movie "Waiting for Armageddon". It's an eye opener.

Yes, that way of thinking seems to have gained hold on the left side of the pond, at least among some.
But whatever we think about that, it does not undo the fact that the Bible predicts humans will destroy the earth. There are more passages I didn't care to qoute, I just took the most obvious.

With all due respect, JW, not everyone particularly believes the Bible is the last word on the subject. Which is not to say that humans won't destroy the Earth - it doesn't take a Prophet to see that possibility.

I understand your point. But you did not understand mine. In this thread, we discuss a certain US politician, who qoute some passage from the Bible wich says that there will always be weather and agriculture, and from there draws the conclusion that therefore, there will be no climate change. I then responded that there are other passages in the Bible that says otherways, therefore he is wrong.

This is just logic. If I say "if there are monkeys in my kitchen, all my bananans will dissapear",the statement is logicaly true, weather there are any monkys or bananas in my kitchen, or even if I have a kitchen at all.

Regarded the originally cited Bible passage, what it realy say is there will allways be agriculture SOMEWHERE. That does not conflict with widespread devastation on a global scale. We just need to save some spots of working agral real estate.

I'm sure you are right about that. Keep up the good work. While I may believe the 'book' is written by (or contains) the word of god, many do, and what they believe (and act upon) matters.

Hi jedi

I heard a terrific interview on NPR and here's a link. Amazing what scholarship yields.


Interesting. I don't believe the Vesuvius eruption had anything to do with Revelations. Other than that she had some interesting points. The book is indeed the hardest one to understand in the Bible. Many of its readers simply do not bother. It is to complicated.

My view is that the book is a message from John, encrypted with a code. You need the key to decode the book. Much of that key have been lost and we simply will never know the full meaning of his message.

Inhofe was chairman of the EPW committee from 2003 to 2007. Damage done.


I think he's still smarting that Senator Boxer (a Democrat - an environmentalist - a woman) took the gavel from him in 2008.

How dare you challenge the scientific expertise of a former insurance salesman.

If there were a god, she/he/it/whatever would be doing a face-palm plant moaning "...idiots..expletive deleted..idiots.....".

Inhofe will be on the Rachael Maddow Show on Tuesday.

Did God tell the good Senator that there would be enough seeds to plant and enough water to bring the crops to harvest in order to feed 9 Billion hungry mouths?

It is disgraceful that our current crop of GOP politicians can lie so blatantly. It is even more disturbing that so many people believe the deceiptful distortion of the facts.

Old Leather Neck, you give Inhofe way too much credit. You seem to think he knows better than that but is just lying. No, no, he is not nearly that smart, he really believes that crap.

Santorum really believes the garbage he spouts also. Bur I think Romney is just lying. ;-)

Ron P.


I'm sorry that I may have given the impression that I thought Inhofe had a shred of intelligence!

Nothing will be done about climate change anyway. We like the goodies produced by burning fuels...the electricity and the heating and the cooling and the products and the cars and trucks and boats and planes. And we aren't willing to go without them. In fact it's quite the opposite, billions in China and India have seen the promised land and will do anything to get there.

And the boys and girls continue to get together to breed, and the doctors believe in keeping the elderly and infirm alive forever.

So yes, it's easy to pick on Inhofe, and you aren't going to get any complaint from me. But we're all complicit, and this Titanic is going down.

I agree. But the really interesting question is how fast is it going down?

I certainly see signs of change. The new BMW models introduced in the US recently all have 4 cylinder engines. China is beginning to notice the environment. The ice grows thinner, the summers warmer. A few years ago I thought it would crash pretty quickly but industrial society really is incredibly robust. Years? Decades? It would be nice to know but all you can really do is watch the signs and make your own bets.

The timing really is the most important question. There is the physical reality and the human system response. The physical reality seems to stretch at least into the decades of pretty much business as usual... business as usual already having some pretty wild variability over the last hundred or so years. It is the human system that offers the really sharp responses to change. These can act within time-frames reaching all the way down into the realm of just a few days. It is sort of like Schrodinger's cat: both alive and dead. If you wake in the morning, the world is alive. Make the most of it.

" billions in China and India have seen the promised land and will do anything to get there."

American CEOs are working furiously to get them there as well.

There are more middle-class Chinese than there are middle-class Americans nowadays (if you think all the Chinese are slave laborers you haven't been doing much reading), and they aspire to the same thing that the American middle-class did 60 years ago - a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot. You can't fault them for wanting the same kind of decent lifestyle that Americans achieved 50 years ago.

Unfortunately for the American middle-class, the more modern American standard of two SUV's in every garage and a huge house in the suburbs an hour's drive from work is not achievable if the Chinese middle-class gets their car and their chicken. There just aren't enough resources in the world to sustain it all.

Odds are, the average Chinese will get their one car and their one chicken, and the average American will have to make do with one (four-cylinder) car and one (self-cooked) chicken as well. Americans will have to forget their aspirations of the late 1900's. Two SUV's and a huge house in the suburbs will not be affordable for anybody but the very wealthy, be they American or Chinese.

Just four days in Hong Kong were enough to convince me that humans have raised "fouling your own nest" to a sublime artform - a religion even. It was horrible.

I didn't think Hong Kong was that bad. It's crowded though - one of the most densely populated countries on Earth. But the trains and ferries worked well.

Seeds - not a worry per say. The energy embedded in the fertiliser while big does not equal the kind you need in moving water.

Imagine the energy to take water from the Gulf, process it, then move it inland for crops.

I wonder whether the Greenland Norse were quoting the referenced passage from Genesis as evidence that better times were imminent while they were succumbing to cold and starvation in the 15th century. Aside from this, anyone with the slightest historical knowledge should be aware that some formerly important agricultural areas are now more or less desert wastelands.

It is disturbing that the people who would spout Biblical quotes as evidence that the human race has an assured future are often the ones who are opposed to contraception. The alternative, barring extreme measures such as enforced celibacy and/or extraordinarily bloody wars, would lead to the population reaching unsustainable levels; it is already there in many countries.

I'm all for freedom of speech, but anyone who looks at the science must agree that this man is contributing to a deliberate attempt to delay action in a matter that will cause the deaths of thousands if not millions of people. How can he be brought to justice in a way that doesn't violate the constitution or human rights?

More properly: hundreds of millions if not billions

It is illegal to launch computer viruses.

Perhaps this could be precedent for criminalization of the launching of destructive memes. Set a threshold, say 1,000,000 deaths or 1 lethal instability per week. Any meme that has caused, historically, more than the threshold number of deaths or instabilities could be made illegal to disseminate.


And what if the thing just shortens a lifespan or allows/creates some other thing to be the killer.

What then?

Implied in your comment is the assumption that without these kinds of statements we would be taking action. Where is the evidence of that? I see Inhofe as a typical self serving sociopath, but I don't see his statements having any significant impact at all. It is not one political team or the other that is driving this, it is all of of the normal, reasonable people simply living what they believe to be normal, reasonable lives. And they will fight like hell to keep from making any sacrifices to the privileges and comforts they have.

Exacly. The guy is nuts (and as an evngelical christian I say this from a theological POW) but it is not as if anything would be made different if he was not.

The sociopaths are always with us. They can make things worse and effect the details and timing, but they are not the root cause. Their presence does not mean there is no underlying problem, nor will dealing with them remedy the underlying problems. Perhaps the worst problem with their manoeuvring is that it ends up being a distraction and people focus on that instead of the real issues.

First off, I've worked extensively with climate changes issues, helping push through California's AB32 carbon emission legislation. So I get the problem we are facing.

At the same time, everyone should put away the pitchforks and watch Dave Rutledge's presentation on how much accessible carbon is left:

He comes to the same conclusion that the Global Energy Systems Group does, which is that the IPCC used very, very wrong starting assumptions and that every one of the 40 Emissions Scenarios they construct can't possibly happen.


Also, given the historical record of carbon dioxide concentrations and where we are likely to bring them, runaway climate change is not likely. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. (See figure below.)

Now, this particular Senator should somehow be replaced by someone who knows a bit of science. Do we need to take action? In my view, absolutely. We still are headed for an unpleasant climate future.

But when I hear people talking about "bringing justice," I get very nervous.

Aangel, why the fear of justice?

Do you think that the tobacco industry should not be brought to justice for intentionally misleading the public about the risks to public safety about their product? If so, what do you see as the difference here?

Your last chart leaves out the fact that the sun is much brighter than it was in earlier high-carbon periods, so an increase in CO2 levels now will have a much larger effect than from earlier times. (Also notice the large error range as you go back in time.) And the rate at which we are increasing CO2 into the atmosphere is far beyond anything in the archeological record.

And the term "runaway climate change" has been used in various ways by various people.

If by it you mean climate getting warm at an accelerating rate for ever, that is clearly not possible--earth will not get warmer than the sun. But why do you think that the carbon that is now being released from the melting tundra will stop being released? This enormous feedback alone will keep GW here for millennia longer than it otherwise would have been, at least, and increase temperatures substantially too. Add to that the inevitable melting of much of the clathrates on ocean beds as the seas warm, other soils loosing their carbon, forests and other carbon sources going up in flames, the oceans releasing the carbon it has been absorbing...and I see lots of feedbacks leading to some sort of 'runaway' as essentially inescapable.

I do understand that we still have a big problem on our hands. So I won't quibble with any of your points on climate.

The reason I'm concerned about "justice" is because I absolutely think there are people who truly believe that the science isn't there and "bringing justice" to them would mean persecution.

Firstly, ignorance is no defence for contributing to manslaughter/genoslaughter.

It's not exactly that tenuous a link, to assert that global warming is currently killing people, and is going to get much worse. The heat wave in Russia, that was intensified by anthropogenic climate change, which lead to fires and a ban on exporting wheat pushed up food prices and helped spark revolutions throughout MENA. How much worse do things need to get before we try and hold people accountable for their actions? Everyone on this website contributes to climate change, but there is a difference between being trapped in a system, and using every dirty trick going while controlling the levers of power to prevent action that could have stopped a catastrophe.

Currently denying global warming is encouraged financially. We need incentives to tie in with global well being, which means either rewarding good behaviour or punishing bad behaviour.

Realistically, nothing will probably change, but I would like to see these people who are so very certain nothing is wrong, sign a contract stating that. And pledging that if they are wrong they will forfeit every penny they own, which is far less punishment than the people displaced by rising seas or starvation will face.

The reason I'm concerned about "justice" is because I absolutely think there are people who truly believe that the science isn't there and "bringing justice" to them would mean persecution.

OK let's say that Inhofe also truly believes that the laws of gravity are a hoax, then he somehow manages to convince large groups of gullible ignorant people that it is perfectly safe to step off the tops of very tall buildings because the Lord has promised to protect them from going splat on the sidewalks below. Don't you think that the public should be protected from such an individual if they are incapable of discerning the dangers themselves? Would you not at least be willing to place such an individual under psychiatric evaluation and then possibly keeping him locked away for his and society's protection. Just sayin!

It's way past time to let the emperor know that he is butt naked!

"Would you not at least be willing to place such an individual under psychiatric evaluation"

I work with a target market that believes in angels, homeopathy, acupuncture, that it's immoral to eat animals and all sorts of other things for which I get grief when I state my opposite views. Looking to the broader culture I think capitalism is destroying the planet, that we are deep into overshoot and a natural sort of reckoning has started/is on the way, that all religions are invented by man (i.e. no evidence of a higher being) and many other items that many, many people would think are completely daft.

So, the answer to that question is No. I believe very many things that the crowd does not believe and I don't want to live in a society in which people with different opinions are "psychiatrically evaluated" or "brought to justice" or any other thing of that sort.

Let's do everything we can to remove the Inhofe's from office. And for those people for which it can be proven they know the harm they are creating (like the tobacco industry), certainly hold them to account. But psychiatrically evaluating them is not on my list.

Just to be very clear on this, you are saying that if a person in a position of power was totally convinced himself, that 'God' was speaking through him, then used said power and influence to convince large groups of gullible individuals that they could float off the tops of tall buildings without harm to themselves despite all evidence to the contrary, you'd be fine with that?! How many people going splat on the sidewalks below would it take to convince you that maybe such an individual should be evaluated?

In my view someone like Inhofe is just as dangerous as a Jim Jones of Jonestown fame except he has much more power.

Perhaps you just don't think that saying climate change is a hoax is on par with saying gravity is a hoax...

Hello FM,

re: "...a person in a position of power was totally convinced himself, that 'God' was speaking through him, then used said power and influence to convince large groups of gullible individuals..."

Would this be an example?


George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.

There will probably be far more "justice" than there are worthy recipients in the years to come. Pheonix is what, the 5th largest US city now? The US southwest will be hit hard by climate change at the same time we're out of energy and money to mitigate, so a large number of refugees will be learning all about climate change - many who don't "believe in it" now. Is that justice? This die is already cast, and nothing guys like Inhofe say matter now. Our entire political system is helpless and unable to do much of anything to address the major systemic problems we face, and which will ultimately end that system.

Interesting video. If he's right about coal we're going to need renewables much sooner.

As an aside, I've spent time at that very radio station (KDLM) in Detroit Lakes - a friend of mine was a DJ there in the '70s. The building back then was a tiny cinder block affair, and it was a very long walk from the back door out to the weather station. Especially when it was -40, which it was from time to time.

Re: 'Peak oil' debate dead amid U.S. boom: BMO's Sherry Cooper (uptop)
(And Newt's plan for $2.50 gasoline)

While it's certainly true that the US oil industry has done a great job of offsetting the underlying US production decline, and shown increasing production (to a level well below our 1970 peak rate of 9.6 mnpd), the declines in regional net exports (Americas and the Caribbean), in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) and in Available Net Exports (ANE) are all far in excess of the slow rate of increase in US crude oil production. So, at least until we see a sizable overall decline in global demand, it looks like American consumers will see rising oil prices, despite the slow rate of increase in US crude oil production.

And this is of course the problem with Newt's plan. Even if we could show a massive increase in US crude oil production, in order to bring global crude oil prices down (and the WTI crack spreads show that the US is largely paying product prices at the pump that are linked to global crude oil prices), the US, and other producers, would have to offset the ongoing decline in net exports.

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
(An average net increase in US crude oil production of about 160 bpd per drilling rig 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.

And a related article:

Newsmax: Obama's Big Lies on Big Oil
By: David Limbaugh

How much truth is there in President Barack Obama's latest favorite mantra that we consume a disproportionate share of the world's oil, especially considering how little of the world's reserves we have?

. . . According to the Institute for Energy Research, we have more than 1.4 trillion barrels of oil that is technically recoverable in the United States with existing technology. The largest deposits are located offshore, in portions of Alaska and in shale deposits in the Rocky Mountain states.

So the United States has more recoverable oil than the rest of the non-North American world combined. The Heritage Foundation says this is enough to fuel every passenger car in the nation for 430 years. Therefore, "it is merely semantics — not a scientific assessment of what America has the capacity to produce — that allows critics to claim repeatedly that America is running out of energy."

When you add in recoverable resources from Canada and Mexico, the total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels. "To put this in context, Saudi Arabia has about 260 billion barrels of oil in proved reserves."

According to the Institute for Energy Research, we have more than 1.4 trillion barrels of oil that is technically recoverable in the United States with existing technology.

And that is the biggest lie I have read in years. The author of this article is Rush Limbaugh's brother. So I am not surprised.

Ron P.

"technically recoverable" this is why the statement is not a lie, and why I want to gouge my eyes out at times. Back to EROEI it is "technically recoverable", even if it takes 22 barrels of oil to "recover" a cup of oil or how about a 6+ million dollar well to "recover" 10 barrels of oil. Long, long, long before we come anywhere close to getting all the "technically recoverable" oil, we will be "technically OUT of oil".

"technically OUT of oil?" I think you mean FINANCIALLY out of oil.

...energetically out of oil...


Actually, this is one of the things I think is interesting. Oil is a trap of it's own, in that it's value is the energy it provides and aslo requires energy to dig... If it was simply like gold, the value of which is not in it's usefulness, then it would be one thing.

Oil is actually so useful that it's digging into our OTHER energy supplies (natural gas for one) as it gets rarer. It may be that the value of oil as a facilitator of transport and raw material for things like plastics is so great that the point at which we actually reach a negative EROEI will not be the stopping point for oil development. In looking at the use of oil, we should thing of how long we can keep up the game given natural gas, coal and renewables, as those will be used to continue oil extraction to a certain extent.

The question of when oil becomes too expensive for what it can provide is not actually solved by looking at EROEI. I've heard people say that "people will pay 2x as much for gas in the US". It looks like we'll get to test that. At what point is the game over?

I'm not so sure. I've suspected for awhile that the main thing keeping oil development going (in the US at least) is tax credits/deductions, income adjustments, & subsidies on oil development efforts. IOW, the tax payer is keeping oil development going so that development is (partially) nationalized but the profit from sales is privatized.

I am thinking that if US tax benefits and subsidies for oil development ended tomorrow, then new oil development would end tomorrow... And with economic contraction on the way, the US tax code is a pile of complexity waiting to be dropped, either through people being unemployed and unable to pay or people practicing tax resistance/avoidance in their own ways, legal or not.

Does ROCKMAN or others close to the industry have ideas about this?

Not in the industry, but I strongly suspect the tax benes are a small factor. Changing them one way or another (part of the drill-drill-drill push would be more favorable tax rules), would likely only have a marginal effect. One hundred plus per barrel is incentive enough.

helio - It's simple: change the oil patch tax rules and fewer wells get drilled. Same thing by eliminating home mortgage deductions: folks buy fewer homes. Stop the all industries from deducting employee medical benefits then they cut back somewhere: reduce benefits/salaries/jobs. I'm not arguing for or against any of the tax breaks anyone gets. There are effects to having them inplace and effects from eliminating them. Pick your poison.

Eliminating oil patch tax break won't make much difference re: PO IMHO. Consider the huge income ExxonMobil makes. They pay dividends to shareholders (who include millions of union members and other folks who have their retirement accounts in the stock) and pay taxes. What's left they spend looking for oil/NG. There is no Mr. ExxonMobil lighting his cigars with $100 bills. Increase their tax bill and they'll still make those dividends and pay their executives the same. They'll just spend less looking for more oil/NG. And so will all the other oil companies. Less drilling means less production which means we get to charge more for our oil/NG which makes us a better profit. Like I said above: pick your poison.

The US tax code has contributed at least in part to the US being the third largest oil producer on the planet. Would the public be happier if we ranked 5th or 6th?

"They pay dividends to shareholders (who include millions of union members and other folks who have their retirement accounts in the stock)... There is no Mr. ExxonMobil lighting his cigars with $100 bills."

Oh yes there is. The major holder of Exxon is Vanguard. The power and money of Exxon accrues to Vanguard and similar houses.

Exxon Mobil Corporation Common (XOM) Major Holders
Top Institutional Holders:
VANGUARD GROUP, INC. (THE) 199,636,019

Remarks by John C. Bogle
Founder and Former Chairman, The Vanguard Group
The Ownership of Corporate America — Rights and Responsibilities

"In essence, Berle and Means' thesis was based on the arrogation (to claim or seize) of the levers of power by managers that takes place when corporate ownership is diffused among legions of individual investors."

"Unlike the large but inchoate individual population of stockholders that Berle and Means described in 1932, a remarkably small group of institutional managers now dominate the ownership scene. The largest 300 managers hold $7.5 trillion of stocks, 56 percent of the U.S. stock market's total capitalization of $13.2 trillion. This ownership is highly concentrated: the largest 100 managers alone hold 52 percent of all shares, $6.8 trillion in U.S. equities. This relative handful of giant investors have the real —not merely the theoretical— power to exercise dominion over the corporations they own."

The investment is distributed, but the power and a great deal of money are concentrated to a few entities.

K - Great details. Mucho thanks. Shows you who can really influence the activities of all public corporations. I've never dealt with big companies but have worked with small public oil companies. I've seen their management told to sit down, shut up and do what they are told by their market-maker brokerage house. Small public oils need a brokerage house to adopt them and push their stock. Otherwise almost no potential investors would ever hear of them. Folks can follow stocks like XOM or Chesapeake. But have you ever heard of Panaco, Inc? Unless you were one of the clients of its market-maker you wouldn't have. I suspect TPTB you've described have even more control: don't keep them happy and they'll start dumping your stock. And then get the reputation for not "cooperating" and maybe none of the other PTB won't pick your stock up. If that happens the company's management can always use those stock options as toilet paper. I've seen that happen many times. As always: follow the money.

These funds like Vanguard, are really functioning as middlemen between the corporations and their shareholders (although they get to extract their management expenses). The actual ownership is still pretty diffuse, millions of mutual fund holders, and retirement plans etc. So yes the corporate voting power is concentrated, but the wealth, not so much.

The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains

Most times that you hear about The "ownership society" or the pensions of people that will be negatively effected by a tax event it is just a cover.

"The loss of wealth is concentrated among the most affluent Americans, in large part because they own more stocks and bonds than the rest of the country. Only about 50 percent of households own stock, and many of them own relatively small sums in retirement accounts."

I guess my name is Mr. ExxonMobil, then, because I own shares in the Vanguard S&P 500 fund, which owns XOM stock. And here I thought I was just some Schmo with a couple grand in his IRA. Excuse me while I go get some Bennies and Macanudos and have a puff.

P.S., here's a trivia question: Who owns Vanguard? The answer might surprise you.

Here are the top four owners of XOM:

BlackRock Institutional Trust Company
Bank of New York Mellon Corporation

They own parts of each-other, it seems.

Then there are interlocking members of the boards.

Actually, the companies you listed are acting
as fiduciaries and/or custodians .. They don't own
large stakes in XOM .. Their customers/clients do ..
In other words you and me via retirement accounts, IRAs,
pension plans etc etc ..

Triff ..

Income tax benifits specific to oil companies boils down to the acceleration of capital cost write-offs.

1) Intangible development costs(IDC) can be expensed(writen-off) in the year incurred.

2) Accelerated write-off of (tangible) capital costs based on 'units of production' depletion allowance calculation. The accelerated write-offs are a consequence of understated oil and gas reserves.

Percentage depletion applies only to 'small' producers and royalty owners. Royalty owwners can take a flat 15% depletion allowance year after year, forever, without regard to any capital investment.

Beyond that, the DOE has sponsored many projects aimed at demonstrating improved oil recovery techniques. I have yet to see any DOE projects that have accomplished the stated goals on a large scale - they may exist.

Of other benifits, I know not.

This subject deserves some discussion. I have found it difficult to get an understanding of these tax benes that the oil companies claim are critical and that Democratic lawmakers claim are unneeded subsidy. So far my understanding has evolved to your opening line. "Income tax benifits specific to oil companies boils down to the acceleration of capital cost write-offs."
In the FERC world we wanted to capitalize as much as possible in order to earn a return on it.

nat - "...the oil companies claim are critical...". I've done this for a living for 36 years. The tax benies are not "critical" per se IMHO. Wells would still have been drilled. Just not as many. And thus less oil/NG found and fewer jobs. But we would have kept drilling.

Take away the tax breaks we have today and fewer wells get drilled by the pubcos. My private company began 3 years and has spent over $160 million. Employed thousands of folks in that effort and found a lot of oil/NG, paid many millions in royalties to private landowners and production taxes to Texas and La. And none of that would have happen if the tax benefits hadn't been there. My owner's family makes a lot of money from their other companies. Half the reason we were created was the tax benefits.

So is my company critical to our economy? All depends if you think the results are important. What would my owner do if we hadn't been created? He would have found some other way to shelter the family's income. So again it's very simple: if folks don't care if we drill more wells and add more reserves to our dwindling base then just cut the benies out. The oil patch might find less ff but I doubt it would hurt our return very much: we just wouldn’t drill those wells that needed the benies to make them viable.

Oil Co.s can capitalize IDC, if they want, and apparently some do. One reason for doing so might be to even out expenses and avoid showing a loss.

I hadn't considered public utilities, I can see how capitalization would be a benifit.

More specific to helio's question, IDC write offs have probably accounted for some wells being drilled that might not otherwise have been drilled. It used to be that year end, some companies got real busy, delaying taxes in one year by writing off IDC's. I'm not sure it still applies, but there was a time when IDC could be written off based on a contract, an authority for expenditure(AFE), for the drilling of a well before the well was actually started.

adamx, Good points! At a 3:1 ratio of energy output to input to develop the Canadian oil sands it will take nearly half of the US natural gas to extract all 175B barrels. However using renewables like biomass to generate steam to extract oil is a better return than gasifiying biomass for methanol. In California solar is already used to generate steam for heavy oil extraction and KSA will be implementing some solar steam injection soon also. Since the alternatives for fossil fuels such as methanol and ethanol all require a large loss of the original energy content to make, oil could easily go negative EROEI and still be cost and energy effective.

The ERoEI of Canadian oil sands is more in the range of 6:1, and Canada has more than enough natural gas resources of its own to supply the process heat for oil sands development. At this point in time, natural gas is trading at distress prices due to the US shale gas bubble, and it is much more efficient for Canadian natural gas producers to sell their gas to nearby oil sands plants than to try to sell it in the depressed US natural gas market.

What makes you think there is enough biomass available in North America to develop the oil sands? At this point in time, fuel ethanol production production is using up 40% of US corn production to supply 10% of the gasoline market. If you double it to 80%, it could supply 20% of the gasoline market, but there would be a serious problem in supplying enough corn for cattle and pig farmers, plus corn flakes for people's breakfasts.

People never sit down and calculate just how much of these alternative resources are really available to replace the oil and NG supply. If they did, a lot of ideas would get thrown out immediately since it would be obvious that they just can't scale up large enough to meet the problem.

You missed my points Rocky. I'm fully aware that there isn't near enough biomass to develop the oil sands. I'm not up on Canada's natural gas supply and I'm not sure what the final ERoEI of the oil sands will be as the more marginal areas are developed but I suspect that the oil sands will use a significant amount of Canadian natural gas which means a lot less for other uses. Keep in mind this is a multi decade process that doesn't have anything to do with current natural gas prices or supply.

In terms of biomass, woody biomass can be made into methanol at about 50% - 60% efficiency, ERoEI of 0.5. The point I was making is that as long as there are fossil fuels available, it may be more efficient to use woody biomass for process heat to develop fossil fuels which might provide a ERoEI of 3:1 or better. The same idea holds for solar and other renewables. The longer the fossil fuel supply can be stretched the better in terms of providing time to transition to a sustainable future for the next generations.

I'm not up on Canada's natural gas supply and I'm not sure what the final ERoEI of the oil sands will be as the more marginal areas are developed but I suspect that the oil sands will use a significant amount of Canadian natural gas which means a lot less for other uses.

That is correct, oil sands production will use up a significant amount of Canadian natural gas production. This is covered in the Alberta government planning documents, which state that exports of natural gas to the US will be reduced to keep the oil sands supplied with fuel. At this point in time the US has a surplus of natural gas and the US government doesn't particularly care about it.

In terms of woody biomass efficiency - where are you going to get this woody biomass from? What is the ERoEI of woody biomass? It currently appears that the ERoEI of corn ethanol is in the range of 1:1, which is to say it is just an expensive way of turning natural gas and diesel fuel into gasoline. Is there any reason to think that the ERoEI of woody biomass is any better than corn ethanol, or that the source of it is any better than corn?

There is lots of woody biomass in the oil sands area, but harvesting it has reprecussions on the natural environment - you are chopping down trees to provide fuel for the oil sands plants. There is no reason to believe the use of it for oil sands steam production is any more environmentally friendly than the use of locally-available natural gas - and the cost would be considerably higher.

Actually, it only takes a few gallons of diesel to harvest a ton of wood which has about 15 MMBtu net so not a bad deal from an ERoEI standpoint. As far as cost is concerned, wood is already competitive with natural gas at current prices and will be much cheaper when natural gas is priced at international rates. Why would Canada not want to sell gas to the highest bidder? Using natural gas for process heat is a very low value use compared to power generation, CHP, GTL, chemicals, etc.

It takes about 1 thousand cubic feet of natural gas to produce 1 barrel of oil from the oil sands. 1000 cf. of gas contains about 1 GJ of energy, whereas 1 barrel of oil contains about 6 GJ of energy, which is to say that the ERoEI is about 6:1.

However, at this point in time, the oil sands plants can buy natural gas for about $1.60 per GJ, whereas they can sell the synthetic oil for about $96/barrel. The ROI in money terms is thus about 60:1. It is much more cost effective to turn natural gas into synthetic oil by burning it in an oil sands plant rather than generating electricity by burning it in a power plant.

And even more cost-effective and energy efficient to combine natural gas electricity production and the oil sands plant. However, effective carbon emissions legislation might change the calculation to make wood waste plus reforesting more attractive.

We also have virtually unlimited amounts of technically recoverable hydrogen. So what. And unlimited amounts of stupidity.

This guy apparently conflates "oil shale" with "shale oil" to conclude that there's a massive amount of oil to be gathered by simply following Newt's prescription, "Drill here, Drill Now, PAYLESS". He is acting just like that other well known loudmouth airhead, his brother Rush...

E. Swanson

Newsmax is famous for what may be in my opinion - medical quackery.

A typical excerpt from their newsletter

"Dear Reader,

Don’t worry — it’s not gross … but it IS shocking! And who knew?

Yes, your tongue can actually “talk” to you about the health of your thyroid.

And in an unprecedented FREE video documentary presentation from renowned medical expert Dr. David Brownstein, you’ll see exactly how your tongue does this:

You’ll discover features of your tongue that alert you to possible
issues with your tiny thyroid gland …

You’ll see how the feeling or sensation of your tongue in your mouth
can be an early warning sign of thyroid disease …

And yes, you’ll see an actual tongue photo from someone with these
exact problems!

Because today, you have the opportunity to view — in the privacy of your own home — Dr. Brownstein’s FREE VIDEO about the dangers of our little-known American thyroid epidemic …'

Robert Wilson MD

I wish they wouldn't jack with folks...my thyroid stopped working in 1997.

Do people such as Newt and Limbaugh truly believe what they're saying in regards to oil, or is it show/entertainment/gamesmanship - they're just taking a side in some kind of 'us' vs. 'them' national debate?

When I see articles with incorrect or misleading information I'm not sure if the author really believes it to be so or if they are intentionally trying to be deceptive.

To differentiate between the fools and liars on the GOP side of the debate, here is my assessment:

Romney, Limbaugh & Gingrich are lying because they are actually intelligent enough to know why they are lying. In Limbaughs case it is just money. In the case of Gingrich and Romney, they need the votes of the people who worship Limbaugh.

In the case of Santorum, Inhofe and Sean Hannity they're not bright enough to know that they've been used and manipulated by the people that pay Rush Limbaugh and Senator Inhofe to propagate the lies in the first place.

But alas, I'm afraid that Bank of Montreal's Sherry Cooper and Rush Limbaugh's brother are far more in the mainstream than the crazy Peak Oilers*. That's one reason that I have begun to think that perhaps one feeble attempt that Peak Oilers can make toward making things not as bad as they would otherwise have been is to encourage a renewed focus on vocational training and agricultural training programs.

Young people in the US, graduating with business and liberal arts degrees--and frequently burdened with heavy student loan debts--are like the young men in the First World War making suicidal charges against machine guns.

*CERA & ExxonMobil:

CERA, in 2005:

"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

EXXONMOBIL, in 2006:

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak ... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

I think the first thing that Peak Oilers have to decide is why are they concerned about this issue? Is it so that they can have bragging rights when TSHTF and not only BAU but society as we know it collapses or are they interested in the issue because by being aware of it we an steer around it- and that the end of BAU doesn't have to mean the end of society or a return to the 12th century.

IMO too much time is spent on the former and not enough time on the latter. If in fact you don't believe that there is an alternative outcome to Peak Oil than the breakdown of society then I suspect you are wasting your time trying to convince people about Peak Oil i.e. if the message is we are going off the cliff most people will rationally respond so what is the difference if it is today as opposed to tomorrow?

I think the time is better spent arguing that while we have oil we should be using that time to transition to this new source of energy which will entail organizing society differently but that such reorganization doesn't mean a lower standard of living and could in fact be a higher standard of living. Again my suspicion is that more people will pay attention to the latter message.

So, you propose lying to the people to get them to see the truth?

Nope- but if your only message is "DOOM" then don't be surprised that people are not paying attention. If in fact you believe that DOOM is the only outcome then by all means say it and when the SHTF you can say I told you so. Since, you and the rest will be in the same basket they will had the advantage of having enjoyed themselves between now and then.

Put another way - if you knew there was a giant asteroid that was going to wipe out life on earth would you spend the rest of the time remaining worrying about it or would you go out and have a good a time?

What's wrong with the 12th century?

We were invaded by the Mongols. He probably mean the Chinese will invade us, they controll much of the area now.

Young people in the US, graduating with business and liberal arts degrees--and frequently burdened with heavy student loan debts--are like the young men in the First World War making suicidal charges against machine guns.

Enough of the drink Rev Witt and into the wagon.

And just a little correction to the article’s effort to re-write history: "Two years ago it was believed that oil molecules were too large to extract from shale," she said. "But now, new fracking technologies and horizontal drilling has led to the biggest oil boom in many years."

FYI: No one except perhaps idiots in the MSM believed you couldn't extract oil from shale formations. The oil patch has produced billions of bbls of oil from fractured shale reservoirs over the last 60 years. Over 30 years ago the hottest drilling play in the US was the Austin Chalk (a fractured carbonate shale) that typically required frac’ng to produce. And about 8 years later the AC was a major horizontal frac'ng target. And what about the hot “new” Eagle Ford shale oil pay in Texas? I personally drilled, frac’d and produced an EF well over 25 years ago.

None of that is said to dispute the fact that these plays aren’t contributing. But it irritates me to see the MSM try to convince the public that new plays/technology are the reason for the boost in oil production. The boost was caused by $100 oil. It’s as if the MSM wants folks to think that all this new tech will bring down oil prices when, in reality, lower oil prices will reduce the development of these plays. We’ve already seen that outcome in the dry gas shale plays. Low NG prices have killed much of that drilling activity. Fortunately for the consumers there’s years of lag time from the fall off in drilling to the impact of decreased supplies that will eventually occur. But eventually NG will rise as production declines. I don’t know if we’ll ever see oil prices crash like NG but if we do all these “new” silver bullets won’t support the oil shale drilling efforts we see today.

OTOH the oil patch didn’t anticipate the crash in NG prices back on ’08. Devon was caught so off guard they cancelled contracts on 14 of the 18 rigs they had running in E Texas. And paid a $40 million penalty to do so.

The problem the US oil industry is creating for itself is the growing gap between what they promised--if and when we peak decades from now, it will be more of an "Undulating Plateau"--and the reality at the gas pump as annual global crude oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011.

Given the level of disinformation out there, it's actually somewhat understandable for consumers to suspect that a conspiracy is causing an unjustified increase in oil prices.

Given the level of disinformation out there, it's actually somewhat understandable for consumers to suspect that a conspiracy is causing an unjustified increase in oil prices.

That it does, yet between people like Inhofe on GW, Newt on fuel pump prices and Limbaugh's brother on US oil, it's apparent these windbags would not have an audience if there was not a segment of the US pop. that prefers to have others think for them. I wonder if that lack of independent, critical thinking is lack of eduction or indoctrination into a theology that breeds followers.

"independent critical thinking" 99% of the time is a result of a good formal education.

Back in the nineteen eighties I was active in the critical thinking movement at the community college level. We instructors got encouragement to implement "critical thinking across the curriculum." By the mid nineties the critical thinking movement had lost all momentum. In its place, educationists (administrators and teachers) had shifted to various fads such as "rubrics."

In general, reform of education in the U.S. is impossible, because the people with the power have a lot of their careers based on the status quo. The newest fad drives out genuine reform, just as bad money drives out good money.

Is it possible that there are multiple levels of critical thinking skills?

At the basic level, is the ability to take a set of facts makes some conclusions and decisions based on those facts.

At an intermediate level is the ability to determine that you have been given a false set of facts, i.e. from FAUX NEWS and political and/or corporate propaganda.

At a more advanced level is the ability to realize that you need additional facts and be able to develop a plan to obtain those facts.

Most cultures discourage or squash critical thinking, because such thinking always questions the status quo. Critical thinking originated with Plato listening and having dialogues with his teacher, Socrates. Aristotle was one of Plato's best students, and he started an acadamy of his own, both to do philosophy and to do science. Ancient philosophy peaked with Aristotle and then was turned into sterile dogmas by Christianity.

There are degrees of critical thinking. For example, you could learn a lot about fallacies and validity of statements in a college class in informal logic. But that is just a beginning: To become truly proficient in critical thinking you have to learn to apply it almost everywhere. Socratic dialogue is still the best way to learn and enhance critical thinking skills.

Note that critical thinking is rarely taught in American public schools, because school boards are terrified by the thought of children going home and questioning the beliefs of parents or religious authorities. The best private schools have always (among other things) taught and modeled critical thinking. Indeed, that is another advantage that rich people have; they went to private schools, and their children go to private schools and college.

Aye, that is so true! I taught first for 6 years in New Jersey and then for more than 25 years in central Wisconsin at 4-year plus universities. I remember Writing Across the Curriculum, Centers of Excellence, Teaching Excellence Centers, the Critical Thinking movement, and more recently the advent of computers. Each of these was going to be a huge advance in teaching effectiveness, was going to enable each instructor to handle more students and more effectively, and even reduce the number of instructors required by the institution. But they never worked out the way they were predicted. Funding would be provided for a few years, some faculty would buy in while others just ignored the latest fad, and then a new miracle idea or technique would come along, as everyone was getting bored with the current fad. Funding would be reduced or eliminated so that the dollars could be transferred to the great idea. I remember being enthused about each new idea until it finally occurred to me that these high and mighty scholars, and the so-very-important administrators were acting like teenagers falling for whatever was the latest fad. Alas, after a few decades cynicism grows inevitably!

I saw the same thing in industry over the years. A new fad was going to empower workers, lead to better products, higher quality, blah blah. Then a new fad would come along and all of the true believers would handily switch to the new paradigm....and the same old problems would never really get solved.

But careers were made for the true believers.

"I saw the same thing in industry over the years."

Quality circles, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Matrix Management (the opposite of Lean), etc.

Been there, done that, got the coffee cup.

Always money for the consultants regardless of what else is going on.

In general, reform of education in the U.S. is impossible, because the people with the power have a lot of their careers based on the status quo.

Very true, but sad to think education takes a back seat to power. Keep the people down so they are more easily controlled.

The more of you that help to insist that it's not repairable, the more you help it become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Actually, there has been a conspiracy causing an unjustified increase in oil prices.

If the oil & gas and car industries hadn't blocked increases in the CAFE regulations in the 1990s, and hadn't blocked hybrids and EVs in the early 2000's, US oil consumption would now be sharply lower.

That would have reduced global prices significantly, and more importantly reduced US oil imports very substantially.

While it technically WAS a conspiracy to block these things, almost entirely from the automaker's side, this is a perfect example of the true nature of many conspiracies: the ultimate effect is a side-effect.

The intention was to keep selling big cars and SUVs with high profit margins, not to back oneself into a corner that almost guarantees you go out of business sooner. GM's involvement is typical of that company's way of doing business, and a perfect example of why they went bankrupt as well. They put billions into the EV1 (not to mention the money spent on Saturn), but rather than seeing the writing on the wall that they would eventually need this technology, they killed it as soon as they could rather than continuing to develop it in case of future needs. Basically, the people in charge of GM were dumb as bricks. The thing is, we as a society are doing the same thing, especially here in America.

Also, that nasty little conspiracy is not the main cause, by any means, of the current dilemma. Rising oil consumption worldwide, driven by countries like China and India is a deeper cause. It's just coming sooner because of politicians stalling out CAFE as soon as convenient at the pressure from companies like GM.

almost entirely from the automaker's side

I believe that Detroit's influence was simply more visible. OTOH, XOM (and it's predecessor companies) has been very visible in it's opposition to EVs, etc.

the ultimate effect is a side-effect

You can think of it that way, but that's the carmaker POV. They see it that way because they didn't see any importance to efficiency/fuel consumption: other issues seemed more important, so for them those other issues define the conflict.

The intention was to keep selling big cars and SUVs with high profit margins

That was part of it. Part of it was rejection of the cost of raising fuel efficiency and developing electric drivetrains, part of it was rejection of the idea of applying additional efficiency to fuel reduction instead of power increases. Part of it was a rejection of change to the traditional technologies with which the company engineers were familiar.

They put billions into the EV1

I believe a large portion of that was provided by the Feds. That actually makes GM's decisions even dumber...

Rising oil consumption worldwide, driven by countries like China and India is a deeper cause.

Ultimately, the primary cure is EVs. Delaying the development of EVs has deepened our problems.

For instance, the Prius was the result of Japan taking the PNGV seriously - they thought Detroit would be smarter, and use the tech the PNGV program developed, so they assumed they'd need to do the same to be competitive.

"For instance, the Prius was the result of Japan taking the (EV-1) seriously."
I have always found that just hysterically funny.

During the bailout, one of the congresswomen asked a GM representative "Why should I give you money when you're just going to turn around and sue me (over mileage requirements, pollution limits, and safety regulations) with it?"

GM currently contributes to the Heritage Foundation's anti climate-warming misinformation propaganda machine's efforts.

GM and the banks should have been transformed or nationalized. Instead, they were doctored-up and made all-better so they could continue ravaging the atmosphere and devouring people's homes. It would make for an interesting allegorical monster movie.

No, the Prius was program was started more of out fear of the technology developed in the Clinton era program 'Partnership For A New Generation Of Vehicles' (PNGV). The EV-1 was program mostly created to fulfill the CARB ZEV mandate.

Ahhh... I see why they blurred-together for me:


Would agree. Better fuel economy would help along the margins, for sure, but world oil demand would drive prices high eventually in any case. Maybe better US CAFE a decade ago would have delayed the price runup by six months. And it certainly would have reduced the impact of a given price on our economy and trade deficit, but it wouldn't have been sufficient to long continue the world swimming in (cheap) oil era.

It's true - in the long-term we can't think in terms of becoming more efficient: we really need to just replace oil completely.

The sooner the better.

Thanks, Nick, for that note of the obvious. It's a puzzle to me that amid all this chatter between smart people about price and peak and political puffery there's hardly any comment on what is gonna kill us unless we move quick, and maybe even if we do--CO2 and global warming. You burn any kind of carbon and you get carbon dioxide, you get carbon dioxide, you get global warming, you get global warming, you get dead.

End of argument. So now that we're done talking, what's for supper?

Better fuel economy would help along the margins ...

I disagree with that ... better fuel efficiency and smaller vehicles would have had a much more significant impact than a marginal one.

We visit the US reasonably regularly ... perhaps it takes an outsider to see just how BIG American vehicles are - both in absolute terms for the biggest ones, and on average on any given highway. It seems (to this visitor) to be totally out of control - particularly when you add in how much US drivers spend in their vehicles, driving the roads to nowhere, at all hours of the day and night.

We were out in the sticks ... Bend Oregon in fact ... and after dinner quite late, we were driving back to our motel off Hwy 97 - the highway was packed with traffic - it was amazing ... but I guess Americans think that is a normal way of living. Oh well, party on ... you think you are the world's chosen ones.

Only about 45% of U.S. oil consumption is light vehicles. Yes, it should be half that, and the 1981 CAFE shouldn't have been gutted and left for dead, but that isn't the whole problem.

Wouldn't it be funny if the cars around you were all just Australians on holiday to see what the Yanks are up to?

Yes, the US can be pretty pompous and spoiled, but we're not the only ones..

Bend's about the size of Regina and was in the top ten fastest growing metro areas in the country. The roads hadn't kept up.

I can second that opinion on US car size - although I usually visit Houston, so maybe that is not a fair example of the nation as a whole. But as a visitor it never fails to amaze me - just who needs all these monster vehicles; in town? Drive around any European (or Asian) city and your average car is a small 4 door hatchback, probably with a 1.4 litre engine or less. Plenty enough power to move 4 people anywhere, let alone the more typical single occupant.

Has anyone seen any broad statistics on average car weights and mpgs by country? It does not need a rocket scientist to see that the US will eventually make huge fuel savings by downsizing vehicles. I guess the question is what will be the price threshold that spurs the change. As has been noted many times, many drivers in Europe already pay over 7 dollars per gallon - so I guess you have to hike the price a few dollars more...

What I meant by "on the margins", is that more aggressive CAFE standards (and lacking serious gasoline taxes, that is the only real pressure point goverment has),would have changed the present mix of vehicles only slightly. Not enough to have much of an effect on the global price of oil. It takes decades for these changes to work through; new vehicle designs, new production lines, older vehicles to be scrapped, all introduce serious time lags.

If the CAFE had changed in 1990 we could have had a 40% reduction in fuel consumption by for new vehicles by, say, 1997, and converted 80% of vehicle miles traveled by 2007, and 95% by now.

That would be saving 3.5M bpd by now. That would have an impact on world oil prices...

Given the level of disinformation out there, it's actually somewhat understandable for consumers to suspect that a conspiracy is causing an unjustified increase in oil prices.

Don't forget that there have been conspiracies in energy. Enron being an example.

And, to echo what Rockman has been saying, hydraulic fracturing has been in use for 60 years in Canada, as well.

The biggest conventional oil field in Canada, the Pembina Cardium Field - found in 1953, wouldn't have produced any oil at all without hydraulic fracturing. Several oil companies drilled right through it without noticing it was there. It was only when some geologists examined the well logs that they realized there were huge amounts of oil trapped there.

They had to fracture the discovery well in 1953, and they had to fracture every other well drilled since then, but the field has produced well over a billion barrels of oil and is most of the way to producing its second billion.

In fact, the hottest conventional play in Alberta is now the old Cardium Formation. The Cardium Formation is vast and the Pembina field is just the sweetest spot in it. The rest of the formation can be made to produce oil as well, it just requires a lot of money and a lot of work to make it happen. Money is the biggest factor - if you can afford all the right technology you can get the oil out.

I do have a question for you Rockman. As you noted, it is the higher prices that make shale oil, etc. finally worth extracting. But will even higher prices lead to significantly more oil? There is a lot of $80+ barrel oil- but is there even more $160+ dollar oil? Or by getting the oil we are getting now at $80+ are we also taking out the vast remainder of what is left at any price? Is a second $160 boom in production coming or do our $80+ methods used today get over 75% of what's left in the ground so that if oil hits $160 a barrel we won't be able to extract very much? Is this the last boom?

Interesting question...what is the elasticity of supply, not short-term, but long-term.

But I imagine that depends on the confidence that people making the huge production investments have in the the buyers' abilities to pay for that $160/bbl oil in the quantities able to be supplied at that price (or $200/bbl, or whatever).

As smart folks here have pointed out before, the buyers' ability to pay higher and higher prices, while consuming the amount of oil required to allow the suppliers to make a profit (or even break even) at these higher prices, is finite. If oil use efficiency can be increased proportionally with the rise in oil prices, then buyers could afford to pay the higher prices while still consuming the same amounts, providing the buyers can afford to pay for the new, more energy-efficient machines that use the oil.

For example, if people driving 25 mpg (city/highway/combines/whatever applies to their driving patterns)replace their vehicles with 50 mpg vehicles, then they can afford to buy as much gas in the future at double the price of what they pay at the pump today...assuming no change in vehicle miles traveled. Folks tooling around the city in 10 mpg vehicles who buy 50 mpg (city) vehicles could afford to pay five times the current price of gas given the same VMT/time period, again assuming they can afford the purchase price of the new more efficient vehicle.

Government-imposed taxes and incentives and strictures could shape vehicle buyer behavior, but there is limited political leeway for that in the U.S.

For example, if people driving 25 mpg (city/highway/combines/whatever applies to their driving patterns)replace their vehicles with 50 mpg vehicles, then they can afford to buy as much gas in the future at double the price of what they pay at the pump today...assuming no change in vehicle miles traveled. Folks tooling around the city in 10 mpg vehicles who buy 50 mpg (city) vehicles could afford to pay five times the current price of gas given the same VMT/time period, again assuming they can afford the purchase price of the new more efficient vehicle.

Of course in reality, one would have to take in to account all the other expenses that are affected by the higher price of crude. One may be able to handle the price of gasoline by trading vehicles (although the trade-in for a 14mpg SUV might be close to $0) but every other expense that is dependent on oil (almost everything) would also go up. Some of these expenses might have developing technology delivering higher efficiency like the more efficient car, but many would not.

Your point is valid.

In fact, you reinforce my starting point that it doesn't matter how much oil can be recovered at $160, or $200, or $300/bbl, if buyers cannot afford very much of it.

We could have all the hydrocarbons we could use if we could tow Titan into Earth's orbit and drop-ship the raw materials down our gravity well to be processed in fancy refineries, but we would have to pay a gooble-gazzillion dollars per gallon at the pump...

I must have missed something- if I move from 25/mpg to 50/mpg I can only afford to pay twice as much if I use half as much gas. So not sure how increased efficiency results in "then buyers could afford to pay the higher prices while still consuming the same amounts,"


Say you drive 9,000 miles per year to conduct your affairs (commuting to work, buying groceries, etc), and you are driving a car which gets 25 mpg in your driving cycle (city/highway/combines/etc), and the gasoline is $4.00/gallon. Let us say that your income and other expenses allow you to afford your current gasoline expenses per year at the current price per gallon and mileage driven.

9,000 miles driven per year, divided by your car's mileage of 25 miles per gallon equals your using 360 gallons of gasoline per year.

At a price of $4.00 per gallon during that year, you would expend $1440 dollars per year to drive our 25 mpg car 9,000 miles.

Now let us presume on year 2 that the price of gasoline jumps to $8.00 per gallon. Your driving habit of 9,000 miles per year with your 25 mpg car would cause you to expend $2880 per year on gasoline, compared to $1440/year the year before.

However, as soon as gasoline jumps from $4.00 to $8.00 per gallon, you become of the people who are currently buying ~ 12M light vehicles per year in the U.S., and you buy a vehicle that can take your where you need to go and gets 50 mpg in your driving circumstances.

Now in year two, you drive 9,000 miles per year (same as before), and your 50 mpg car demands you buy 180 gallons of gasoline each year to do that.

With the new price of $8/gallon for gasoline, you will spend $1440/year to drive your 9,000 in that year.

Thus, by buying and driving a car which gets twice the gas mileage as your previous car, you end up spending the same amount of money for gas per year, even though the price of gasoline doubled from $4/gallon to $8/gallon.

Hence, you can afford to pay twice as much per gallon of gas at the pump with zero negative impact on your customary personal finance situation.

You are 'consuming' the same amount of vehicle miles driven per year, yet you are consuming one half the gasoline you previously consumed to drive the same amount of miles.

Dick Cheney was lying when he said 'We can't conserve our way out of this' (constrained/expensive oil supplies).

As long as the U.S. stopped its reckless drive towards increasing its present population of ~ 310M to ~ 400M by 2050 and even high, then gasoline consumption could significantly decrease then stay flat, or even decrease if prices were even higher. In the above case, if gas went from $8/gallon to $12/gallon, then many of those individuals driving 50 mpg cars solo would find ways to ride-share/carpool, eliminate unnecessary trips, bundle trips, and some of them may move closer to their jobs or telecommute.

There is great opportunity to decrease our oil consumption and still live a non-1800s lifestyle...for a while...our efficiency will not directly reduce the Rest of the World oil consumption, nor will it negate the fact that oil is finite and the easier-to-access oil is dwindling, but it would afford us some measure of transition time from now to what comes after the transition period...

I apologize for my clumsy/sloppy writing in my original post on this topic.


Ride a bike or take a hike, Peak Oil aware Tshirt designed by Fernando Magyar

Not easy to bike, when people KEEPS STEALING YOUR BIKE.

Just sayin'. Not that I am bitter or antything. It is after all just the second time in a year. And I had this bike for almost one full half year, so it was time to replace the 5 gear anyway.

Not easy to bike, when people KEEPS STEALING YOUR BIKE.

Come on, jedi, I had the same bike for over 10 years in NYC and it managed to come to Miami with me, still have it... though my neighbor's car was stolen recently.

Yeah, but isn't Jedi in Europe, where bike theft is totally out of hand in some cities? IIRC in Amsterdam, good bikes weren't parked outdoors; just $20 junkers secured by $50 locks/chains. That was some years ago but if it has changed, it's probably for the worse...

Yeah, but isn't Jedi in Europe, where bike theft is totally out of hand in some cities?

Not that I'm aware of. Took this picture on a trip to Germany not too long ago...


Such places are good spots to "hide" bikes. Also good chance someone will be there any time so thieves stay away. My bike was parked in an unmonitored spot. But the previous bike was stolen from a place like on that picture. Outside a trainstation.

I'm not suggesting there is no bike theft in Europe, only that I wasn't aware that it was out of control. Let alone that bike theft was a major motivating factor keeping Europeans from riding their bikes.

just $20 junkers secured by $50 locks/chains.

That is my plan. I will look on some ebay-like website for a used bike in poor condition, and by a hardened chain and a high security padlock for it. I can easily afford a new bike, I just don't want to take the risk any more. The looking system shall be more expensive than the bike itself.

I'm sorry they got your bike.
I hope another bike appears, as sometimes happens.

Dick Cheney was lying when he said 'We can't conserve our way out of this' (constrained/expensive oil supplies).

Not so much flat-out lying, but disguising the truth which is that oil companies drill frantically because there's abundant waste. Too much conservation leads to reduced profits for the oil companies, resulting in less exploration and eventually less available.

Hug a Hummer owner today.

I am not sure we can conserve our way out of this. No even if we wanted.

C8 - In theory, yes. But that needs to be qualified. Most of the hot trends, like the Eagle Ford, wouldn't be hot today if oil were $40/bbl. It's not a matter of how much we get out of a 160 acre lease but how many 160 ac leases get drilled. There are many areas in various shale plays that can't be developed for $100/bbl. So yeah...$160/bbl would get more wells drilled in those areas. But the recovery volume per well would be significantly less than we see today.

Remember my constant refrain: the oil patch doesn't give a damn about EROEI or providing the economy with the energy needed to proper. It's all about capex in/profit out. It's about what it costs to produce a bbl vs what we sell it for. The logic should becoming clear for everyone: the more oil sells for the more oil we can produce but that incremental increase in oil volume will cost more per bbl to produce. The increase in the volume of new oil will not be proportional to its price. IOW if the price of oil doubles we can produce a lot more...but not twice as much. Technology can not change that relationship IMHO.

"The increase in the volume of new oil will not be proportional to its price"

So the interesting question is: what will the proportion be? It could be some log curve or something like that. Does twice the price equal a 60% increase in volume, 30%, 10%? What about four times the price? I know this may seem like nitpicking but it occurred to me that if we suck out 95% of the oil at $80+ a barrel then the price mechanism will not help us get though a smooth transition and it will lead us to an abrupt supply shock. We're not talking Econ 101 widgets here but a geological resource that has limits and particular formations. The last 20th percent of oil could be 5 times harder to get out than the last 21st percent was before it. I wonder if $80+ a barrel is too cheap and will lead to a reckless pull out of what is left before we realize how difficult the rest will be.

CB – That is an excellent question and THE question IMHO. And I don’t have freaking clue. LOL. I can tell you Mother Earth loves the log/normal distribution curve. Plot the number of conventional oil/NG reservoirs on a linear scale vs. their size on a logarithmic scale and it nearly a perfect straight line. Very predictable and easily to estimate the number of smaller fields left to discover.

Unfortunately I’ve never seen anyone present such proof for fracture production. In one sense, a fractured shale reservoir has no dimension per say. It no more covers 20 acres or 200,000 acres. A fractured shale well’s productivity isn’t a function of area drained but the number of natural fractures it intercepts and the content in those fractures. As mentioned before it you analyze a fully developed fracture shale reservoir area you’ll find a very wide range of recoveries from very prolific to money losers. But that distribution is anything but symmetrical: a very few great wells and a lot more sub average wells. To project such a distribution to an undrilled trend isn’t very reliable IMHO.

There's a very critical differece between drilling a conventional exploratory well and a fractured shale play. If I dril a $6 million conventional target and don't find it I don't spend $2 million to complete and produce it. But I can spend $4 million to drill the initial leg of a fractured shale target and not have any clue to how productive it will be. So I spend another $6 million to complete and frac that well (yes...the multiple frac jobs on some wells are now costing more than it did to drill the hole). So now I'm $10 million in the hole and still don't know if I made the right choice until I produce it for at least 6 months. And what if the decline curve says I'll only make half my investment back? It's still counted as a successful well in the industry stats: I drilled a well that produced a commercial flow of ff. The fact that I lost money doesn't change that classification.

But the oil patch does a fairly decent job of developing the more profitable trends first. Logically that would indicate that future recoveries from undeveloped areas of the future shale pays will be less than what we’ve seen already. Again, more instinct to that statement than provable facts.

"The increase in the volume of new oil will not be proportional to its price"

So the interesting question is: what will the proportion be? It could be some log curve or something like that.

I took a look at this problem some years, since I was working as a business analyst in the oil industry, and determined it could only be modeled using catastrophe theory, which is a branch of mathematics. I've never known economists to get deep enough into mathematics that they even knew what catastrophe theory was. Most of my economics professors couldn't even handle basic calculus, which would have been extremely useful to them if they had known how to do it.

In any case, in catastrophe theory, the equations are discontinuous (i.e. there may be no solution for any set of parameters) and there may be multiple solutions for any given set of parameters. Once you know that, you know that the price may jump unexpectedly from one value to another, and the price at any given time may depend on what direction it was moving when it jumped. There is no way to predict the actual value at any point in time, so you have to deal with patterns and trends. This, of course, is way too much for the average economist to deal with.

RockyMtnGuy: thanks for the feedback- the name "catastrophe theory" doesn't sound very good.

C8 - Did a quick search: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophe_theory

“Catastrophe is a branch of bifurcation theory studies and classifies phenomena characterized by sudden shifts in behavior arising from small changes in circumstances”. Sounds like the mathematical treatment of “tipping points”.

The non-math explanation: “...the cusp catastrophe can be used to model the behavior of a stressed dog, which may respond by becoming cowed or becoming angry. The suggestion is that at moderate stress the dog will exhibit a smooth transition of response from cowed to angry, depending on how it is provoked. But higher stress levels correspond to moving to the region (a < 0). Then, if the dog starts cowed, it will remain cowed as it is irritated more and more, until it reaches the 'fold' point, when it will suddenly, discontinuously snap through to angry mode. Once in 'angry' mode, it will remain angry, even if the direct irritation parameter is considerably reduced.”

Lots of examples come to mind. Consider the current verbal sparring between the US and Iran. Increased stress affects the oil market, especially the futures market. Limiting Iran’s financial capabilities in the global market produces more stress/fear over oil prices. Then let some fool on either side push the situation to a step change and the situation branches radically into a very different dynamic. A potentially catastrophic dynamic.

Thanks Rockman. This sounds like what happened when my son's Iron Man action figure fell into the canal while on vacation in Indianapolis.

Do people go on vacation in Indianapolis by choice? It has sadly been described as the most boring metropolitan area of > one million people on the planet. Are the canals nice?

Did you just get a new Eye-poker for your birthday? You're in a mood..

Yes, I have thought that the bifurcation of systems was a key to understanding the loss of energy and the increase in entropy (waste) that results as we can't service the waste or pay for the waste or continue to produce the waste we would like to.

Take the US housing bubble collapse and Lehman shock of 2008. There was a point when the banks realized that they were in deep trouble. I guess their losses were so steep it was a violation of some sort of federal banking regulations to continue business.

So the system 'the US government) could have chosen to remain "Free market" proponents, as they always had been. "Tough luck! Sorry! You're out of business!" But of course that would have meant the collapse of the whole system.

There was a bifurcation---the system split. It is still rather free market---they won't pay everyone to stay home---but it is also printing money to prop up the system, it's a kind of caring, communal action.

All the major economies are doing the same thing. They get forced to. The ECB was the latest in December. That is true bifurcation.

Bifurcation probably means that the system is breaking down and weakening. From a monolithic united front, it splits. The printing of endless money saves it a while, but in the end it will spell the end---the side that is saving the system also brings the end.

So bifurcations also mean the system is finding a new path and this path may be more dominant or useful in the future. It may be that we have entered into a new phase of history where people try to help others more because the situation is so serious.

We can probably look for further and further bifurcations as the system splits further. They are an interesting phenomenon. on the one hand they spell the end of the old. On the other hand they present a promise of the new.


Echoing your thoughts on the "new" technology of fracturing of shale - a couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Amundsen Lecture at the University of Houston Chemical Engineering Department. The speaker was Lee Raymond (former CEO of Exxon). In describing his career he said (paraphrasing) "for all of you in the audience who think fracking is a new technology - when I graduated with my PhD from the University of Minnesota my first assignment when reporting for work at Jersey Research was to develop a mathematical model for fracturing of shale. We knew the technology then and knew it well."

He graduated over 40 years ago.

A frightening way to look at the problem. But seems like the right way. I don't hear any of the politicians articulating this. WestTexas for President!

Boo - A geologist for president??? Hopefully my MS will rot the rest of my brain away before we see that day. LOL. I'm sure wt would agree. Surely it would be intertaining for a while. But after the first State of the Union address and 2/3 of the country slips into a coma the fun would end.

Compared to what we almost always get, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, with an occasional actor or preacher thrown in for good measure, a geologist might be a nice change?

It would be interesting to note that the Chinese Politburo, the lead policy making body in China, is made up of engineers, scientists, and economists. I believe one of them has a law minor.

Democrats who are looking ahead to 2016 sometimes mention John Hickenlooper, now governor of Colorado, former mayor of Denver, as a possibility for at least Vice President. Assuming he's reelected, he'll be term-limited out of the Governor's Office at the end of 2014. Hick was a petroleum geologist who was laid off and decided to stay in Denver during the oil bust in the late 1980s. He's certainly Peak Oil aware, and spoke briefly at the 2009 ASPO conference in Denver.

Perhaps more importantly, he made his living after the layoff by starting several successful brewpubs. The ones I've visited make pretty decent beer. A petroleum geologist and a good brewer -- what more could you want in a President?

So you'd like to have a beer with him? Seems I heard that one about an earlier president who didn't work out so well.

Speaking personally, I'd like to have a beer with him only in the context of discussing several state and regional issues (some energy-related, some not). OTOH, if you want to elect a geeky geologist (his wife describes him as "a dork"), you have to have something that appeals to the average uninformed voter, too.

I'm not sure anyone (even a hardcore Democrat) could ever vote for someone named "Hickenlooper" - let alone one who owns a yuppie pub. Perhaps change it to Hooper?

I don't follow the point of drawing attention solely to crude when clearly the other part of total liquids - ethanol, NG liquids, etc - would be expected to displace some crude?

I think the other liquids are more "additive" than "displacing"

Ethanol produced in the US may be displacing some oil imports - but those displaced imports are most certainly being used elsewhere.

Oil is still the king of "all liquids", the most versatile, cheapest (overall) etc. The point of drawing attention to crude is what Peak OIl is all about. The other liquids are increasingly being produced and used, which shows the transition from oil has begun - to other liquids. Whether these other liquids can replace oil and keep the liquid fuelled economy going is a whole different question.

But looking at just the world crude production shows that we have been at peak since 2005 - that significant message is lost of we focus on "all liquids" - which is why governments are starting to do just that.

The point of drawing attention to crude is what Peak OIl is all about. The other liquids are increasingly being produced and used, which shows the transition from oil has begun - to other liquids.

That has not been my understanding of the discussion as portrayed by many TOD articles. The trivial case is that all previous energy sources and many material resources have peaked - peak wood, peak whale oil, etc, before transitioning to alternatives, and the alternatives in fact enabled modern society. Per my reading, Peak (crude?) Oil theory purports an argument different from the past transitions and is thus non-trivial. The argument goes that this particular resource is effectively irreplaceable, that a transition can not occur without a collapse back to a subsistence existence. Several reasons are given: energy input for replacements are too high, economic cost of replacement is too high, production will fall too fast to access replacement, consumption will increase exponentially to the point of collapse, etc.

Peak oil theory is ONLY the part about crude oil production peaking. Math used to calculate when, how much etc.

The rest of the conversation here and elsewhere are educated (and not) guesses, conjecture, speculations, etc. Export land by WT et al is great stuff but not part of the Peak Oil Theory.

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant still could have been avoided if anyone in authority had the courage to ask for international help. All they had to do was fly in some replacement backup generator sets. This is a cultural problem not an engineering problem. Not every problem in the world lends itself to a group-think solution. If just one individual took command and tried to solve the problem instead of trying to "save face" all of the damage would have been contained. The Times missed the real point.

I think your comment misses a major problem. After the massive earthquake and tsunami, the roads were damaged and transport was difficult, if not impossible. I suspect that there were generators available in Japan, but there was no way to move them to the crippled power plants, even if there had been a decision to do so...

E. Swanson

I seem to also recall that the short time they were on battery power they still had major problems with the pumps and piping and electronic controls in the reactor buildings that were damaged by the earthquake itself and the tsunami. I am not convinced that if the generators were uphill or even if they had grid power, that the results would not have been the same.

This is an important question.

The damage to the plants caused by the hydrogen explosions, and the extremely high levels of radiation near the reactors, have made it easy for wrong conclusions to be reached. Unfortunately nuclear insiders are going to be the ones making conclusions, sort of like the police investigating a police shooting.

Fortunately much of the Japanese public is not in the mood for gentle reassurances.

have made it easy for wrong conclusions to be reached.

And what, exactly, would these be?

Generators were sent by road and did get stuck in traffic and anyway wouldn't have done any good if they had got there. The ability to cool was shot on multiple levels. Smashed pumps, broken pipes, shorted circuits etc. etc.

Fukushima was designed to a particular basis. It was struck by an event well in excess of its design basis and it failed in multiple ways.

Once a generation or so, this sort of design basis accident is to be expected. Designing something to a 1 in 1,000 year basis means a 5% failure rate during a 50 year lifetime. There are enough nuclear plants around that this sort of accident will happen from time to time.

The only major way in which the failure was larger than the design basis expectation, was due to the large accumulation of used fuel on site.

Otherwise, an occasional accident of this sort is an inevitable price to be paid for using significant amounts of nuclear power.

Designing for a one in a hundred thousand year event, rather than a one in a thousand would greatly improve the odds. One in a thousand with a thousand reactors worldwide, means one per year, which is clearly not acceptable.

The present-day solar activity reminds us of the potential for power-grid disruptions. The Fukushima event points-out that the loss of power leads to the melt-down of water cooled reactors. This raises the specter of scores of reactors melting-down simultaneously in the event of large electromagnetic disturbances.


Note that the accumulation of large amounts of used nuclear fuel is a feature of almost all nuclear plants around the world.

These pools have similar weaknesses as Fukushima: weak or unprotected backup cooling systems, no containment vessel around them, less monitoring then the reactor core. This has been a conscious choice of the designers of these facilities: to cut costs. Yet they contain many times the amount of nuclear fuel then the core and if not continuously cooled, will catch fire and release much more radiation than a reactor meltdown could.

The waste pools haven't attracted much attention before as potential sources of serious nuclear accidents - what Fukushima shows is that they are as or even more hazardous then the reactors themselves simply because of their design. Having them sited so close - basically always immediately next to the reactor core for easy exchange of rods - is a design choice that should be changed. Such amounts of nuclear fuel should be protected in a separate facility or building with separate backup systems.

The idea of storing used nuclear fuel at each reactor site is ludicrous!!!!! One well guarded and maintained site should be chosen and the NIMBY people should just be told to get used to it. Yucca Mountain is reasonable site. If it lowers the land values surrounding it then pay the people to move. This solution is a lot better than having the waste stored in hundreds of locations near populated areas. Plus that, this waste is still valuable and can be used in breeder reactors to create new fuel. Thorium reactors are another option. They do not have high pressure cooling systems and are self regulating in the event of a catastrophe. We have the brain power, we just need the political will.

Cheap, affordable energy is the only thing that separates us from the hardships of the 1800s and I don't think that solar or wind can possibly replace oil as an ECONOMICAL source of power. If oil and it's natural gas equivalent value goes up to $200/BBL (in today's dollars) then solar and wind will be a godsend but we will all be plowing the fields with mules in order to feed ourselves.

You do not have to worry about the land values around Yucca Mountain, nor with having to pay people to move:

Here is a decent map of the area...look to the left of the Nevada Test Site:


Here is a picture of part of the mountain:


Here is the Wikipedia Page:


There are 67 references with hyperlinks, and an additional 16 external links.

Note that what you are talking about with Yucca is 'permanent' waste depositories - for already 'cooled' nuclear waste.

The pools next to the reactors are spent fuel pools (SFPs) that contain 'fresh' fuel-bundles out of the 'oven' - that need to be actively cooled for a period of 2-4 years minimum before transport or dry-forms of storage become possible. The water pool also acts as an effective radiation shield.

The reason why the pools are so full is because many countries do not have facilities for long term storage and no country has commissioned permanent repositories yet. It is also dangerous and expensive to transport and reprocess used fuel. And because of NIMBY, ones you get permission for a site to build a nuclear plant - you will want to maximize that investment by building as many reactors and waste pools on that land as possible.

NRC: U.S. Nuclear Fuel Pool Capacity


In Sweden, we move used fuel after one year to a central interim storage.

I'd favor reprocessing, btw. Then you need less uranium mining and you greatly simplify waste storage. The bulk of the waste is very benign U-238.

The bulk of the waste is very benign U-238.

Just as benign as Mercury or any other heavy metal.

I'd much rather have a paperweight of u-238 sitting on my desk than a bowl of mercury, actually. But lead is comparable, I guess.

Mercury has been commonly used in Miller Abbott and Cantor intestinal tubes to facilitate passage. The first time that I encountered a broken bag with mercury scattered throughout the intestine was around 1962. I momentarily panicked. There was no internet in those days to look up the consequences of such an occurrence. The mercury globules did eventually pass with no obvious problem. Broken thermometers were more common but contained much less mercury. In high school circa 1948 it was a common practice as a surface tension demonstration (or just for fun) to play with mercury on ones desk during chemistry class. I might also add that I wore lead aprons and lead gloves for many years while doing fluoroscopy. And I survived tetraethyl lead.

About 20% of U.S. 'spent' fuel is in dry casks rather than pools. One of the things coming out of Fukushima will be regulatory requirements to reduce the proportion of fuel in pools and get it into dry casks faster. A lot of operators have seen no incentive to spend the money to do that, and the regulators have been allowing them to put more and more fuel in the pools, but that will change soon (in the next few years).

Plus that, this waste is still valuable and can be used in breeder reactors to create new fuel. Thorium reactors are another option. They do not have high pressure cooling systems and are self regulating in the event of a catastrophe. We have the brain power, we just need the political will.

Breeders and Thorium have been discussed on TOD before. But don't believe us: read the Wikipaedia article on Thorium fuel - or IAEA report on Thorium

And then ask yourself: what happened to the Space Shuttle and Concord? why are our nuclear plants and oil refineries, bridges and water and sewage systems all +50 years old?

Cheap, affordable energy is the only thing that separates us from the hardships of the 1800s

More like 1950s. We can live on much - much less - quite comfortably if we need to. And we will.

Cheap, affordable energy is the only thing that separates us from the hardships of the 1800s and I don't think that solar or wind can possibly replace oil as an ECONOMICAL source of power.

I have to disagree. I have reduced my family's carbon footprint by a factor of 10; we are almost entirely on solar PV and wind power, including transportation. Yet we live just as well as before; if you visited our house, you wouldn't notice anything unusual.

What do we Americans do with that "economical" power? We waste most of it: driving over-sized cars, living far from work, poorly insulated houses, incandescent lights, leaving on unused lights and appliances.

There are huge savings available: compact fluorescent or LED lights give a factor of 5 improvement in energy use; electric cars a factor of 7 (electric bikes a factor of 50).

Solar and wind power are only a factor of 2 more expensive, and falling. With improvements in efficiency, we can afford that and still live well, except for those who define self-worth by their ostentatious waste.

Our current billing cycle ends in another twelve days and as of this next statement our home's total annual energy use will fall below 10,000 kWh -- that's for heat, DHW, lighting, appliances and all plug loads (and our heating degree days exceed those of Buffalo, NY). With a few more adjustments, we could conceivably break through 9,000 kWh/year which, should that prove possible, puts us in the range of 38 kWh per m2, down from a whopping 325 kWh/m2 when we first started this process.


Appliance Standards Will Save $1T by 2035

There is a great debate amongst utilities about how to get customers, large and small, to cut peak load. There are carrot approaches, such as rebates, and then there are sticks, like mandatory commercial critical peak pricing. Another approach, which is more long-term and not discussed as often, is increasing appliance and equipment standards for the biggest electricity hogs in homes and businesses.

The appliance standards currently in place will save the U.S. more than 200 quads and $1.1 trillion by 2035, according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, The Efficiency Boom: Cashing In on Savings From Appliance Standards.

See: www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/appliance-standards-will-save-1t-by...


Once a generation or so, this sort of design basis accident is to be expected. Designing something to a 1 in 1,000 year basis means a 5% failure rate during a 50 year lifetime. There are enough nuclear plants around that this sort of accident will happen from time to time.

And yet the demonstrated failure rate is 1 in 75 (per the last Drumbeat where failure rates were discussed.

1 in 75 is less than 5%. Arguably, we're getting wiser and the failure rate will decrease quickly.

How many billions will be spent on the clean up of the last failure?

If Iran *ONLY* has an active fission program for power + medical isotopes - how does one decide to do the cost accounting if their reactors are attacked?

If a 1 in 75 fail rate is not acceptable - then why would a 5% rate be acceptable?

How many billions will be spent on the clean up of the last failure?

Whatever the cost, it will compare well to the costs of deaths and environmental problems caused by fossil fuels.

If Iran *ONLY* has an active fission program for power + medical isotopes - how does one decide to do the cost accounting if their reactors are attacked?

I suspect not even Israel would attack a live reactor.

If a 1 in 75 fail rate is not acceptable - then why would a 5% rate be acceptable?

Who said anyone accepts such failure rates? I expect improvements.

"Whatever the cost, it will compare well to the costs of deaths and environmental problems caused by fossil fuels."

False comparison.

"I suspect not even Israel would attack a live reactor."

Yours suspicions have nothing to do with the actual paranoia driven reactions of this racist, Zionist state.

False how? You mean nuclear should be compared with renewables instead? Then, I'd say the total cost is still lower for nuclear.

Yours suspicions have nothing to do with the actual paranoia driven reactions of this racist, Zionist state.

I actually believe both Israel and Iran is reasonably rational.

Yours suspicions have nothing to do with the actual paranoia driven reactions of this racist, Zionist state.

I actually believe both Israel and Iran is reasonably rational.

Iran less so than is Israel. On the other hand, Israel is ready to go out with a nuk-ulear *bang* if it means a third-temple incident, where they're not to go out with a whimper as they nearly did during WWII. Wholly rational for them, but irrational for the rest of us.

The most recent potential calamity was when the Golan Heights was being overrun by the Syrians before Israel managed to repel them - the Holy Lights almost shone that day.

Referring to the above thread of 'getting the facts right', we are only now learning the true facts about what actually happened on site after the disaster hit.

PBS Frontline released a documentary just couple of weeks ago that does have actual footage of the events inside the plant after the explosions - with the operators telling their stories - including the prime minister himself who visited the site when he was getting mushroomed by the TEPCO management.

It can be watched online here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/japans-nuclear-meltdown/

The documentary shows, among other things, how the control room was partly powered by car batteries salvaged from the employees cars - and how the emergency pressure release valves had to be opened manually under dangerous levels of radiation by 'death squads' because the electrical systems driving those valves where damaged by the tsunami and/or explosions.

There were several heroic efforts made by fire crews driven from Tokyo, untrained in anything nuclear. Military helicopter crews dropping water on the open nuclear waste pools and the TEPCO employees themselves exposing themselves to potentially lethal levels of radiation in order to release the pressure inside the reactors.

This accident was indeed 'unimagined' in any nuclear emergency handbook - no one expected the infrastructure and systems surrounding the reactor to be so damaged that post SCRAM cooling will become impossible. This scenario should warrant a complete rethink of all existing reactors as well as any new ones being commissioned. All of them have the same weaknesses.

Take one example - the 'hitting the reactor with an airliner'-scenario - is usually dismissed by the reactor building withstanding such impact. But what about generators, feeds, interconnects, piping and wiring for the controls that are not protected within re-enforced concrete walls. The Fukushima-scenario (loss-of-coolant-accident=LOCA) is easily induced by removing the ability to circulate enough coolant to remove decay heat from the reactor core after an emergency shutdown. Any backup systems are worthless unless they too are protected the same way as the reactor core and emergency shutdown systems and mechanisms.

Feeding power to a damaged site - strewn with earthquake, tsunami or smashed up airliner debris - is impossible if the feeds and interconnects for power have been damaged - and useless if the piping and valves for the coolant going in and out of the reactor building have been damaged. Access for manual operation and repair becomes impossible if there is significant release of radiation inside and around the reactor building. All of this actually happened at Fukushima and it was a very close shave with lots of luck that prevented a much worse disaster (reactor pressure cracking the vessel - or core melting through the bottom - and waste pools catching fire).

I mean I'm no nuclear engineer - and even I can think of dozens of modification to existing plants which need be implemented based on this accident. The only rhetoric we've heard from the nuclear industry, has been that their new generation plants are safe(r) and that we should build more of those: 1. do they have anything to prevent any of the above and 2. what about all the existing plants?

Thanks for the input. I did not realize that cooling systems were so vulnerable to various catastrophes. In reality, what is the purpose of a containment building if the cooling system is external? It is obvious that a containment building cannot contain a reactor that has no cooling. Man might just be too stupid to deal with nuclear power.

Well that's not entirely correct.

The cooling system IS 'contained' within the reactor building - mostly - but you still need cooling water coming in or heat exchanged from the outside world somehow - and of course power to run things.

Now, there ARE designs with 'passive' cooling systems: for example using the reactor building containment vessel as a 'cooling tower' - with condensation on the inside of the walls. Having large heat sinks next to the reactor etc.

However - even these measures ASSUME they only need to operate for dozens of hours, not days, or weeks. In their own words "these measures provide additional time to the plant operators in order to mitigate the result of the event". In other words they assume the life outside the reactor building is BAU - no tsunamis or earthquakes allowed.

Meanwhile the decay heat generated needs to be removed continuously - in the case of Fukushima for over 6 months - before the structure itself can conduct enough heat to keep the core from melting.

Meanwhile all these systems, even the passive ones, are subject to hydrogen explosions, increased radiation exposure, corrosion and accumulation of minerals from less than pure cooling water - without the benefit of regular inspection and maintenance by human operators.

The current reactor designs assume many things: that you can feed power to valves or operate them manually (or access them) - that you can find an undamaged pipe to feed water into the reactor core - and that afterwards the water doesn't leak out into the structures and contaminate the whole plant (as happened in Fukushima) - that you can get accurate reliable readings from sensors inside the core and containment vessels in order to the make right decisions - that you can access or even get close to the reactor building to do anything (a problem at both Chernobil and Fukushima).

As I said - this is not a scenario that current plants have been built for - simply because the cost would be somewhat greater (and we all know how expensive extra concrete and pipes are). Basically the nuclear industry hasn't changed its designs for these in 50 years - because admitting to any change would mean expensive retrofitting of all previously built plants (which need to be operating 24-7-365 to make a 'profit').

Therefore sadly I predicts this will be the case with the Fukushima 'lessons' as well. Nothing will be learned because ANY changes to existing plants would cost too much.

Image: http://dailyinfographic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/fukushima-reactor...
Image: http://www.thestranger.com/images/blogimages/2011/03/15/1300237153-stora...

The reactors at Fukushima had two or three containment means. The cores were in pressure vessels. The pressure vessels were in concrete "dry-well"s. The dry-wells are in are in secondary containment buildings. The secondary containment buildings are vented to the outside, and quite nicely. Originally, the venting was driven by electric fans, through pipes that travel up those tall towers, one per reactor. When the reactor core melts-down, lots of hydrogen is released within the pressure vessel. There was a design modification that added a hardened pipe directly from the system component called the damping torus to the outside of the building for emergency release of pressure (steam and hydrogen).
The valves of the hardened venting system could not be opened because there was no power. The pressure vessels then vented/leaked to the inside of the secondary containment building. There was no electricity to run the fans to draw the gases up and out through the secondary containment building venting towers. Hydrogen collecting within the containment buildings caused the explosions. The reactors had melted down within the first 48 hours. Much of the subsequent news releases were theater. The containment buildings exploding made things much worse. The containment buildings also housed and supported the "spent" fuel pools above the reactors and just below a sheet-metal roof. Some of the contents of the #3 fuel pool were scattered over a mile radius when the building exploded beneath it. The #4 pool is structurally destroyed. It contains spent fuel plus the entire functioning fuel load, including plutonium, of the #4 reactor. The reactors were built too close together to allow dealing with any one of them independently of the hazards presented by any of them. There was no remote-handling equipment, "robots', available in-country to deal with the radiation emergency. Japan is a leader in robotics.

"Man might just be too stupid to deal with nuclear power." Corruption, greed, and dogma ("The reactors are perfect") demand equal billing.

Children of the Tsunami - 2012 - Journeyman Pictures:

On March 11th 2011 Japan woke up to a new and very frightening world. Through the eyes of the children who managed to survive the terrible disaster we see the pain-tinged environment in which they have to forge their futures. From the child who has forgotten how to speak to the eight-year-old who wants to become a radiation researcher, it is in turns a touching and horrifying vision of Japan's tsunami generation.

Very moving documentary where the surviving children from the tsunami tell the stories of their lost classmates - and the exiled children from the Fukushima exclusion-zone wonder what the radiation is doing to their bodies - and if they can ever return home.

Was on BBC - but is available online as vod-service from Journeyman Pictures (for 1 UKP)

I suspect that you are missing the idea that there will ALWAYS be cultural, political and human error factors that come into play.

Sure there might have been any number of ways that the Fukushima disaster could have been 'just averted', and yet, there are countless ways that it could have been even worse as well.. just the same as the way that we could be having some 'unthinkable and avoidable' crisis at any time with the US and European reactors, but we have just enough fat still in the system so we can put up sandbags in time (so far) to get away with it.

Your solution, 'If just one individual took command ...' sounds like you think the Cowboy approach (or King or Dictatorial, if you like) would somehow be able to muscle it out, when a 'Team' (or Groupthink) couldn't. Indecision and Paralysis might not have been the only things in this perfect storm that were simply on course to go wrong. In any case, we all know that it often makes no difference when you just try to put good money after a lot of bad.

As Yeager (Sam Sheppard) said in THE RIGHT STUFF .. 'Yeah, well, sometimes you get a pooch that can't be screwed, ya know?'

Oh, the roads were blocked and we could not get the generators to the site. What a bunch of BS. Did they ever hear of heavy lift helicopters? As I said before, ask for outside help!!

As far as the internal damage to the plant goes, if that is true then the whole Times article is useless since the problem was not the lack of a proper retaining wall and destroyed generators at all. Basically the NYT is just a political rag that only gives you the news that enforces their political point of view. May they continue on the road bankruptcy.

Here is a more authoritative document (PDF):


Here is the site/article where the link is posted, with a top-level overview:


What is your opinion of the four other nuclear power safety articles below the NYT article up top?

And what is your opinion about the organizations which published these articles: Forbes, Bloomberg, Washington Post, and cnet?

I don't disagree about the Times at all.

What I'm saying, is "All the kings horses and all the kings men" couldn't have done better, except under magnificent and idealized conditions, whether you're in Japan or anywhere..

We're pretending we can keep control over something we clearly cannot. We've been getting away with it for a while now.. a while that conveniently coincides with some of the Richest Energy Resources in human history.

Conclusion: Nuclear cannot survive with out Oil. It cannot survive under Hot Wars. It Cannot Survive Climate Change. It cannot survive a lack of funds, even for just a few months... It probably cannot survive Grid Outages, Labor Shortages, absence of Key, High-Rated Replacement parts.

So what you are really saying is unless solar and wind can supply most of our needs AT A REASONABLE COST, we should really just put our head between our legs and kiss our A$$ goodbuy!

No, that is what /you/ are saying...

Nuclear power plants supply the U.S. with between 19 and 20% of its electricity.


It is not out of the bounds of feasibility for a combination of increased wind, solar PV, solar thermal, grid storage

Your words seem to indicate that you have all-or-nothing, binary thinking regarding this subject.

Steps can be taken to enhance the safety of the existing U.S. reactor fleet. Selected higher-risk reactors, such as perhaps Indian Point ~ 50 miles from New York City, could be shut down. Additional natural gas and coal-fired generation can be built. Utilities and governments could fund enhanced demand management systems, and fund conservation and efficacy measure to shed load. It is not out of the bounds of feasibility for a combination of increased wind, solar PV, and solar thermal electricity generation to help the above-listed measures to gradually replace that ~ 20% nuclear power contribution. Some people will see the issue as between more nuclear power and more greenhouse gas emissions...other have and will address those trade-offs, I will not pull that thread here. Also, achieving zero population growth, or even better, a gradual population decline in the U.S, through 2 children per woman birth rates and controlled immigration, would certainly help contain electricity demand growth.

All these actions could result in higher electricity bills...but not the stone age, no kissing of hard-to-reach body parts goodbye. People would, however, be spurred to become more efficient, and indeed do less with less. There is a significant amount of electricity use which could be cut through higher efficiency, and moderate changes to lifestyles and expectations.

Your selected use of all capitals indicate to me that you are rather passionate about this subject, and some of your words indicate to me that you may have recently starting thinking about these topics and have the opportunity to learn more about these matters.

No. Draw whatever conclusions you like.. I'M just Saying that Nuclear Fission is just NOT one of the realistic options we have available to us, and as soon as we stop wasting our time and money with it, the sooner we can put our efforts somewhere that isn't a dead end.

You come back exclusively with 'Wind and Solar'.. I don't ever leave the choices that narrow, and I certainly don't make any presumption that energy is owed to us 'at Reasonable Prices'.. it's going to cost us, and we'll get to make some tough choices. Just not as tough as working with fuels that we are learning that we simply cannot control.

..and you're complaining about Mules and the 'Wretched 1800's'.. the century when Mr. Holmes was saying, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." I'm sure there are MUCH worse centuries we could find ourselves in.. but I doubt we'll lose ALL our electronics and metallurgy at this point.

Nuclear Power, The Dream That Failed...

In the edition of the the Economist that arrived in my mailbox today...they are nice enough to put decent excerpts of their print articles on-line, with no charge, nor any need to create an account...click on 'see article'...but know this, there is a 'click-through limit' after collecting the last link below the article went behind a paywall, so read it through in one sitting (or subscribe if you wish):






Their view, in sum: Nuclear power isn't going away anytime soon, nor is it likely to be the silver bullet power source for that bright shiny future either....it may slowly fade away, maybe stay steady state with new designs coming on-line to replaced aged-out units, or it even may slowly grow...but not likely.

Remove the "economist" cookie on/from your computer and you are back in business.

Jokuhl you are 100% correct when you say we are not "Owed" cheap energy. I just claim that without it, life as we now know it will quickly disappear. Posters on The Oil Drum have estimated that the energy used today is equivalent to having 100 slaves working for you. Today, we all have the same lifestyle as the kings and queens did in the not to distant past.

On a personal level I am sure that people could save 50% of the energy that they use just by being very frugal. Industry is not that lucky since it has already spent a lot of time and money trying to reduce costs. Most of the low hanging fruit has been picked there.

As an example, a cord of firewood costs about $200 delivered in a 25 mile radius. Just imagine what it would cost (in man-hours) if there were no liquid fuels.

This energy imposed frugality will come at a very high cost. Many industries that are based on discretionary spending will disappear. I would venture to say that most of the employment in the urban areas would disappear as basic needs displace wants and the money to purchase non-essentials shrivels. Good mass transit is of no value without a job to go to.

Our whole economic system is based on cheap energy so in order to avoid an ever contracting economy we had better find an energy source a cheap as $100/BBL oil.

An ever-contracting economy is exactly what we need.

Jobs can be cut up and dispersed to more people so there is no unemployment.

We just need to be doing a whole lot less of using up unrenewable resources.

"Jobs can be cut up and dispersed to more people so there is no unemployment."

The Walmart model. Everyone is on part-time, so no benefits, and the wages don't quite cover even bare subsistence.

Great idea.

Go read Dickens to see how well that works out. Or if you want something more factual, look into the industrial working conditions of the 1800s.

Or you could look at the many companies that did this in the depression to the great relief of their workers. Even after the worst times were over, workers at some companies insisted on keeping their shorter working hours instead of getting higher income.

Much easier said than done. In the Depression era, medical "care", especially, all but did not exist - medicine was on the order of 2% of a far smaller GDP and highly ineffective except for setting bones, smallpox vaccinations, and a very few other odds and ends. But by 2014, part-timers will have nothing left after paying for their compulsory medical insurance, all the more so since part-time usually pays much less per hour than full-time even for essentially the same sort of work.

Oh, and they've also got to cover the costs of a vast thicket of other laws and regulations that did not even exist in the 1930s, which make food, housing, and everything else more expensive. So is anyone really up for going back to the elf'n'safety conditions of the 1930s in order to get some of their time back? Somehow I doubt it; here on TOD it seems like many people who delve into that sort of discussion could never conceivably get enough regulations, and would never admit or even entertain the thought that the expense of any regulation whatsoever might possibly be unjustifiably excessive.

You can't have this stuff both ways. The past was not an idyll with both lots and lots of free time and all the accoutrements of the 21st century nanny state (particularly the ever-more-elaborate protection of people from themselves, or from their highly defective genes.)

So it was because business and finance were sooooo over-regulated that they melted down the world economic system in '08--riiiiiight. Can I have some of what you're smokin'?

Health insurance must, of course, be nationalized, as every other industrialized country in the world has done long ago. Not sure what the rest of your banter is trying to prove.

As a Swede with extensive knowledge of nationalized health care, I happen to disagree. You should stop tax subsidies of employer funded health insurance and get the government out of the business altogether. People should pay out of pocket for most care and get individual insurance for high-cost care.

..and so, what I'm really asking YOU, is to tell me if I'm wrong about what Nuclear power can survive in that above list? I could be wrong, of course.. but with our energy security dwindling, and with it our economic and peacekeeping stability waning, and probably regardless of any of those, the climate growing wilder, windier, hotter, colder, wetter and dryer.. just what would you have us do? What sources do you really see as being able to serve us in such conditions?


Without some sort of cheap source of energy, whether it be nuclear, dilithium crystals, giant flux capacitors or even, with God's help, cost effective solar and wind, millions will die.

Thus, we need to take the risks associated with nuclear power even though it can kill many and make large areas of land uninhabitable. However, there is no valid reason to build these things right in the middle of cities. One company is marketing self contained 10MW pods that can be buried underground. I am not sure how they work but it sounds like they are incapable of going into thermal runaway. Also,thorium and pebble reactors appear to offer less risk.

There are already 10s of millions in the US that are without a job or under employed. If oil hits $200/BBL the pain will be immense. More drilling is the only SHORT TERM solution that can tide us over until we get a real energy plan enacted.

IMHO "Green" power will never be more than a niche player until solar efficiency is raised and some sort of realistic energy storage is developed. This storage could even be in the form of some sort of liquid fuel if we can figure out some sort of efficient way to do that.

Wind power has it's own set of problems including storage.

"....whether it be nuclear, dilithium crystals, giant flux capacitors..."

And THAT'S what I'm saying. Challenge it if you can.. but it WON'T be nuclear.. the inherent cost overruns in trying to control it (not to forget insure it..) take it out of the equation, except for those who put those overruns somehwere out of sight, or relegate them to the public's purse.

"I am not sure how they work but it sounds like they are incapable of going into thermal runaway. Also,thorium and pebble reactors appear to offer less risk."

Go for it. I keep hearing promises, but you can do it on your own dime..

"..we had better find an energy source a cheap as $100/BBL oil."

Demands like these are the product of people who have lived with FAR too much energy, and that addiction is the voice that says "WE'LL ALL DIE! If you take it away from us!! We can bargain about dead zones, sure. What's a few Pripyats and Futabas between desperate friends?!"

This 'Millions will die!' makes it sound like that's because of Renewables, and yet you jump back and say 'maybe we should accept the dangers of Fission', which is a HUGE question mark in the human and natural dangers and impacts we are setting the world up for. It's like a conversation that keeps backing over itself. Nuclear does NOTHING to avert the disasters you are pointing towards. They are a desperate Hail Mary pass that will all-too-likely fumble in very big and painful ways during any pinch.. (those pinches I mentioned above)

.. Many renewables don't suffer from the kinds of vulnerabilities as this temperamental thorobred of a rich-boy's toy that is Fission. You can use a PV panel or a turbine blade as a Canoe Panel or a Snow Shovel, and then put it back to work. You can eat your lunch off of them..

The energy invested in renewables very frequently gets paid back in full, and the equipment keeps providing (translating) power for years afterward. How you apply and store that power has all sorts of possibilities. You can call this a 'problem', but I'd bet anybody from Pripyat and Fukushimas exclusion zone would love having this as their worst concerns today.

"Nuclear does NOTHING to avert the disasters you are pointing towards."

In fact it exacerbates them. Collapse is coming. Every single nuke in the world will go Fukushima at that point, or much, much worse. Vast swaths of the earths surface--most in land that once supported much agriculture--will be rendered uninhabitable for the foreseeable future, just when such land is becoming most precious.

As with everything else associated with our mad, growth-obsessed industrial society, every ill drives us to compound it with ten more ills in an ever compounding cycle of catastrophic decisions that is dooming our future to ever deeper rings of the inferno.

Thus, we need to take the risks associated with nuclear power even though it can kill many and make large areas of land uninhabitable.

Umm, tell you what, you go find your own planet and do with it whatever you want. As far as this one is concerned your views and opinions about what 'WE' need depends on another 7 billion or so other people agreeing with you! I for one, happen to think your ideas are insane...



Or PE_Type - the 'cost' of oil was not rational in the past and so all the stuff done expecting artificially cheap energy was folly.

I also think substituting the word "Overpopulation" for the word "Nuclear" in the Conclusion is likely true, too.

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant still could have been avoided if anyone in authority had the courage to ask for international help. All they had to do was fly in some replacement backup generator sets. This is a cultural problem not an engineering problem. Not every problem in the world lends itself to a group-think solution. If just one individual took command and tried to solve the problem instead of trying to "save face" all of the damage would have been contained. The Times missed the real point.

This may make you feel better - based on the assumption that we would do better - but it is false. The real point is that an NPP requires continuous circulation of cooling water, and if something prevents that it fails catastrophically. They had no power and no means to connect it to the pumps thanks to the damaged power distribution system, and they likely had direct damage to some of the piping due to the earthquake.

After the tsunami they were not in control and therefore better management would not have helped. Nobody else could have helped either. Nor are they in control now. This is true of NPPs all around the US once the pumps stop.

The currently operating NPP designs require circulating high pressure water, but circulating water is not inherent to nuclear power. There are alternatives.

Preppers -
Watched a show on this recently. Some guy spent over $120,000 on an multi room underground bunker. Wasn't quite sure about the outward swinging bullet proof door. Not sharing in a devastating emergency might get you buried alive - think 'M.A.D.' on a local level.
I hope they planned an escape hatch and some shovels.

First rule in doing something like this, is not to tell ANYONE, even the people you are going to invite into your bunker. The construction crew? Just tell them it's a really cool basement or something.

Yair...I sometimes find it difficult to believe I am living in the same world we discuss here on TOD.

I reckon there needs to be some shock to the system (such as some Iranian adventures)before folks here will get an inkling there is a problem.

I have given up on trying to bring energy and oil into conversation...I just get pitying looks or the eye glaze syndrome and get told that "they" will fix it.

I can't say that I blame them. Things in Ozz are pretty good, dieso is only a dollar fifty a litre and some aquaintances have just bought a Dodge Ram for a daily driver...and friends have bought a two hundred and fifty grand tractor for their farm...what's to worry.

Even for me the disconnect is enormous. At age seventy I am retiring on the thirty first of this month and, reflecting on a full and satisfying life I believe I have been fortunate to have witnessed some of the best our little planet has to offer.

I have worked and lived (and nearly died) in remote and lonely places and my one regret has been that I only saw things through a bushmans eyes. It would have been so much more satisfying to have had an education to better understand the things I saw...I'm just a little melancholy this morning.


Don't underestimate your innate wisdom.

my one regret has been that I only saw things through a bushmans eyes

Dang, I wish I could see things through eyes like that.


Just being there, in the moment, is worth a lot.

I wanted to share an idea. Check these little guys out:

Imagine using them to water house plants scattered everywhere.

They are just an X-shaped circuit board with everything, including the motors, mounted to it.

Get your own for 300 euros.

These things can pollinate crops after we kill off the bees. Fake honey from HFCS. The future is bright indeed.

Those are over here, in the bee section!:


Another product: Quadrotor to pick-up the dog's back-yard.

I often see other places, other ways I could live, and think that I could really like that too. But we only get to live one life and it's just not the path I'm on. Then again, I know no path is without regrets.

The construction crew?

Or you do as the russians did when they built the secret shelter for the latvian guvernemnt in a remote placeon the country side: send the workers in from Russia in welded steel boxes, and when done, put them back into the boxes again, and weld the steel boxes shut once more. They wont even know what country they were in.

Then build a luxury pensionate for rich people above. (Soviet style)


Because everyone has air vent installations on their parking lots.


Unfortunately large parts of the shelter was no-photo zone still, so I could not put up images of al the super awsome comunication devices or life support systems they had down there. All the flags later in the series is from the official "party room". They had an instruction sign on how to evacuate after an abomb attack in that room in the shelter. Makes so much sense.

Yeah, as I expected the show features the usual fringe OCD survival hobbyists. Folks would be better off watching The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, IMO, to get an idea of where we're headed and how to situate one's family and local community. The amount of food some of these folks have accumulated is remarkable. Some have established urban gardens, and have been doing so for years, which makes sense, except that in an urban situation especially, you'll likely end up feeding a lot of uninvited visitors.

Best to be living the resilient lifestyle every day as your current lifestyle, in an area that already has a local agricultural/gardening base, within 10 or so miles of a well established smaller to midsized town with strong social connections, good soil and rainfall, and perhaps a local source of renewable energy (hydo, solar, etc.) to keep essential services going (hospital, etc.).

Individuals or small families may choose to remain mobile, but where ever they may decide to go will likely already be someone else's territory (keep moving - no jobs or food here). The whole idea of "bugging out" doesn't work for me. When things fall apart isn't the time to step out into the unknown and to try and establish new relationships. Folks tend to make bad decisions when they are scared, hungry, tired and alone, and establishing trust takes time, especially under threatening circumstances. Some of those on the show have already expressed, through their preparations and actions, that they don't trust society on any level.

I think urban can work, at least if we don't go straight to Mad Max. That Earth 2100 program had NYC as a very desirable place to be for several decades, and based on past collapses, I think that's a reasonable guess. People moved to the cities as things got worse, since that's where there was food and social order. We see that even now. In the Africa famines, people leave their farms and to go the cities, since there's at least a chance of food there.

IMO, the "ecohood" idea has as good a chance of working as any. The idea is that urban has a lot of advantages. Older cities were put in the most desirable places: good soil, access to water, transportation that's not oil-dependent. And they actually left the topsoil there, unlike in modern developments.

Older neighborhoods of cities are often quite cheap, and therefore more affordable than a place in the 'burbs or a farm in a rural area. There's also more of a sense of community in city neighborhoods than in the suburbs, and if there are a bunch of you with similar goals, even better.

As for remaining mobile...I don't think people will just be randomly wandering around. They will be fleeing something, such as a natural disaster, that affects those who planned to stay as much as those who planned to keep mobile. Or they will be going toward something - an area that does need workers, or to live with family. A random migrant might be told, "Keep moving, no jobs here," but if you're moving in with your sister or helping out your elderly dad, I doubt you'd be forced to keep moving.

I took a walk to the library this morning - I love this time of year, with spring bulbs starting to flower.

Anyway, I always observe the gardens closely. There is an awful lot of planting space, if one can get over the idea of needing lawns. Every third or fourth house has some kind of real garden growing.

Although we have many old shade trees, there's no reason why a lot of space could not be given to food production. It just needs people to start thinking about it, and preparing the space. No small task, but not infeasible.

If this area declines like Detroit, there are a lot of houses that can be demolished for mini-farms. Plenty of strip-mall parking lots too.

This afternoon I'll take a trip to the park where there is a gardening exchange - seeds, tools, clothing, containers, books etc. Even canning supplies.

There is an awful lot of planting space, if one can get over the idea of needing lawns.

Yes, there, is. 50,000 sq miles of lawn in the US, to be exact - roughly the size of NY State. coincidentally, most of this lawn is also where most of the people live, so you could actually get some "zero mile diet" food happening.

Areas of lawns, From a NASA study

The area of irrigated lawn is greater than the area of irrigated corn.
It is estimated that irrigating all this lawn uses 200gallons per person per day - about 4x typical household water usage, and accounts for about 1/3 of total urban potable water use, though in summer time the faction is actually about half.

This means most city water supply and treatment systems are actually twice the size they need to be, were it not for this ridiculous lawn habit.

The investment in said water supply infrastructure has been many, many billions...

And the habit, however ridiculous, can't change much unless the Homeowner Associations and Zoning Boards are thrown under the bus. Fat chance.

The Las Vegas water board has notable success in reducing water consumption by getting people to take out their lawns and put in xeriscape removing water fountains reusing waste water etc.

Part of my doubts about new urbanism may stem from my time crawling around the innards of cities surveying (taking inventory) of infrastructure and it's condition. Many of the things that make cities livable (sewers, potable water, drainage, etc.) are already not being maintained, and weren't during reasonably good financial times. Heck, many cities don't even know what's down there.

Cities like Atlanta may have a core population of around 600 thousand, surrounded by a suburban/exburban population of millions, and all will be competing for basic resources like water, arable land, energy, and the stuff they need to keep the toilets flushing, etc.. I certainly wouldn't want to be downstream of a large metro area during a major decline. Depending upon the rate of decline, it's the transition that worries me. Many will handle it gracefully, though those that won't will certainly make it difficult. Gangs, those already skilled at taking what they want, those with a strong sense of entitlement, those with no sense of family or community; these folks aren't likely to suddenly get with the program of community involvement. They have a different idea of what 'new urbanism' will look like. We're already seeing parts of cities being abandoned to anarchy, or essential resources being devoted to counter this.

I also expect property taxes to become prohibitive for many, as larger municipalities attempt to keep things together. Where in a small community it is likely that the PTB will work with producers and those who contribute to the collective, the impersonal nature of larger urban govts. makes this unlikely. Again, we're already seeing this as municipalities face revenue declines, defaults and loss of manufacturing or service sector jobs. Abandoned properties become revenue sinks... Will increasing urban populations improve revenues or stress already fragile systems? I expect both to some degree, though it's the transition that'll be difficult.

My advice, as always, is to pre-transition as much as possible, especially those who have family and children. Many of those folks on "Doomsday Preppers" are preparing for transition rather than actually living it.

I could see it go either way. Cities can be bad in the best of times. (Think NYC blackout.) OTOH...small towns can be hellish in a way city dwellers can't imagine. IME, they tend to be far more corrupt, because they can be. TPTB might work with you. OTOH, they may grab your land by eminent domain, just because their brother in law wants it.

I'm reminded of that peak oil aware family who gave up on living in a rural area in Oregon and instead moved to downtown Portland. The problem was their neighbors in the rural area, who were drug addicts who routinely vandalized their home and garden. Everyone knew who did it, but no one ever did anything. Either because their family had connections, or they were just scared of them.

Quite frankly there's nothing that would make me move out to the vast American hinterland. The regressive attitudes are intolerable.

But alot of our cities are wastelands, for one reason or another. A dilemma to be sure.

Gosh, OS (and Leanan), I don't think it's useful to stereotype small towns and rural areas as all being corrupt and regressive. In our little county, if Leanan's scenario were to occur a couple of things would likely happen: the citizens wouldn't react well to TPTB at all, and said brother-in-law may be found beside some lonely road with half a head. Little tolerance for putting someone out "just because they can". There are many small communities that have high standards of behavior, in part because everyone knows just about everybody.

As I mentioned above, gaining and giving trust is pretty essential to getting along, at least around here it is. Perhaps it's a remnant of frontier mentality as Greer mentions in this week's post (people need each other), and here in the bible belt there's still an underlying sense of morality and fellowship, even between those of differing faiths. There's also a healthy distrust of authority and power, though not in a revolutionary/libertarian sense. It's more of a "we're watching" thing. There are still places where folks watch each others' backs (without minding each others' business too much).

In regard to the couple in Oregon (Leanan mentioned), when I was in the Pac NW, I got a sense that it was everyone for themselves, hard to put a finger on it. I lived north of Seattle and the old guy down the street died. Nobody knew until the neighbors complained to the cops of a bad smell, several weeks after the old man had died. These neighbors (on both sides) had lived next to this person for over 20 years and had noticed the mail piling up on his porch. NOT ONE ACTUALLY WENT TO CHECK ON HIM, and they all claim they live in a "nice" neighborhood. This sort of thing simply wouldn't happen around here, even if the old person was a reclusive jerk (which this old guy apparently wasn't). Some places I've lived just seem to lack a 'soul'.

That said, I've been in urban neighborhoods with 'soul' as well. These are the types of places that will have a better chance as this decline plays out. I think this is part of Kunstler's disdain for cookie-cutter suburbs; no soul or long history of community. Too much turnover, perhaps....

To add my thoughts to this :-

My neighbors have been really helpful in difficult circumstances - like the time many of us had basement floods and people were helping each other bail out and get dried out. We have block crime watch, block alley and garden cleanups, shared snowblowing and all kinds of things which make life in the city easier. My neighbor and I have a "lights on" monitoring process where we can signal each other if we have a problem.

OTOH, I know of a sustainable village deep in the cornfields that is plagued by vandalism by teenagers in the nearby small town. Their street lights routinely get smashed on Saturday nights, along with damage to cars and other property. To the point where they have had to install security cameras, and were considering a security gate too.

EDIT: I think where the spirit of cooperation breaks down in the city is where there are large condo/apartment buildings, where people can come and go at all hours of the day and night, and never see their neighbors.

My neighborhood is one of largely single family homes, mostly owned, but some rented, where we see people in the garden, or walking dogs, or just taking out the trash. People still sit outside on the front porch here. Just a few miles from downtown. Many blocks around here have an annual "block party" where there is usually a band, food and drink, and cars rerouted so we can put tables and chairs in the street, and kids can play.

Of course, it's not perfect - we have our problems with gangs, drug houses and the like. But, here at least, neighbors look out for each other.

"OTOH, I know of a sustainable village deep in the cornfields that is plagued by vandalism by teenagers in the nearby small town."

Perhaps the folks in the sustainable village are viewed as a group apart. It's tricky establishing trust and acceptance as an 'outsider' in a smaller community. Even though my family had been in the area for a couple of decades and my parents had laid a lot of groundwork through community involvement, I took steps to do the same when I moved here full time. Some tips:

Buy locally, browse the local hardware, ask for help and spend time talking and asking for advice.

I always payed with a check on my account. Paying with a card is impersonal, while when using a check, the folks at the store see your name, including the bookkeepers, etc. When you go in and the clerks don't have to ask your name, you've made progress.

I usually had larger orders delivered. It gives the delivery guy a job, and he sees where you live, what you're up to (being industrious), and word gets around ("the guy's doing some neat stuff, working hard").

I hired local help/labor. I hired a couple of the county's "ne'r-do-wells", a couple of guys who had been in some trouble, treated them well (I cooked lunch on the grill most days, had a cold beer for them at the end of the day, and just hung out some. These guys passed the word to their "ne'r-do-well" buddies that I was a good guy and not to be messed with; honor amongst thieves, so to speak. Their local probation officers and law enforcement soon appreciated the fact that I was taking a chance on these guys. They also taught me a lot about things around here and both have a wealth of knowledge about native plants, etc.. One eventually shared the location of his secret ramp patch (that's trust). Years later, these are still close relationships; one has his own family and I let him hunt squirels with his little boy. Another visited me when he got out of prison last winter, and stops by when he's in town. It helps to spread your social capital around. I've also gained the trust of these guys' extended families, including a local "distiller" :-)

Be available to help others and unafraid to ask for help and advice.

Get involved in church functions. While I don't go to church services, I still support other functions at several nearby churches. I always show up at fund raisers, bar-b-ques, food/clothing drives, etc. I bring produce to share during harvest season.

Having a partner who moves in slightly different social circles helps a lot. It helps increase social connections exponentially.

"Perhaps the folks in the sustainable village are viewed as a group apart."

Absolutely true. They have solar panels, grow their own fruits and vegetables, have their own well water, their own telephone and sewage system. They do send their kids to the local school, and use the local post office. But I guess they are viewed as, to put it nicely, "not one of ours", by the local townsfolk.

This does not bode well for people thinking they can build gated communities out in a rural area, somewhere, for survival. I doubt that rampaging city folks will turn out to be their biggest problem. It's just as likely to come from the small town next door. Which may also turn out to be true for people already living in small towns.

Very Good points.. all the above.

I'm a big Booster of RE, but it's certainly not the end-all. You have to connect and engage with anybody and everybody you can. That is the net that really gives some resiliency and durability.


1. Networking, plus
2. "Help me, help you."



Gosh, OS (and Leanan), I don't think it's useful to stereotype small towns and rural areas as all being corrupt and regressive.

It's more a stereotype of humanity than of small towns and rural areas.

It's just harder in a larger population to get the kind of stranglehold on power that you can get in smaller one.

"It's just harder in a larger population to get the kind of stranglehold on power that you can get in smaller one."

But it's easier to spot happening in a smaller community. Looking back at our county commission, every time one party gains a solid majority, it'll change in the next election; seems to be an unwritten rule, even when things are going well. The sheriff's office seems to change parties every four to eight years as well. Of course, this ain't Oklahoma :-/ One reason I like NC is that the state has a record of being fairly balanced politically. Of course, this could change going forward, but this may be one good metric regarding where to establish one's affairs. Places that have been generally hard right or hard left may not be inclined to working through their differences. Liberals didn't have a chance in my former GA location (Newt's old district).

Yes, that's it exactly. Some people will never fit into some communities, and the communities themselves might change in unpredictable ways. Given the investment you have to make to fit into a small community, I can understand why some want to avoid it.

Not that cities are necessarily any better. Just sayin'...there's risk either way. I don't see any slam-dunks.

TPTB might work with you. OTOH, they may grab your land by eminent domain, just because their brother in law wants it.

I've always found that it was better to become one of TPTB. That way, if someone's brother-in-law wants to seize someone's land, you just make a quasi-judicial ruling using the legal stroke you have, and strike it down. Works for me, anyway, details may vary.

The problem was their neighbors in the rural area, who were drug addicts who routinely vandalized their home and garden. Everyone knew who did it, but no one ever did anything.

That was unlike my little home town where my relatives and their friends would just go and beat the living bejeezus out of them, and after a few beatings it was the druggies and lawbreakers that would leave town. The police did point out that this was not totally legal not to mention unsafe, but my relatives and friends were no easier to catch than the criminals, and they were better fighters and had bigger guns than the druggies.

Of course, it was still kind of the Wild West when I grew up, so nobody felt it was necessary to call for the police to deal with minor crime that the townfolk could handle themselves.

I've always found that it was better to become one of TPTB. That way, if someone's brother-in-law wants to seize someone's land, you just make a quasi-judicial ruling using the legal stroke you have, and strike it down. Works for me, anyway, details may vary.

Of course. But it's easier said than done. Even if you're in the inside circle, sometimes things change, and you're on the outside. (For example, the Amish on Amish "haircutting" attacks that have been in the news recently.)

You seem really confident that you and your family and friends are the insiders, and will remain so. You'll be the ones administering beatings, not receiving them.

I am not so confident I would be an insider, even in my home town, and even if I were, I would not be confident it would remain so. Let's just say that if I can imagine the collapse of current civilization, I can imagine a situation where the first shall be last, as it were.

I've always felt that if things weren't done the way they were supposed to be done, that rather than just complain, the solution was change things. For that reason I've always gotten involved with boards and committees in local government wherever I live, be it small town or big city.

We don't beat people up any more. Things have gotten more civilized and now people call the police for everything. When I said it was still the Wild West when and where I grew up, I wasn't kidding. My first school had outdoor toilets, a corral, and a stable where students could put their horses during the day. They've since moved the school to a pioneer history park and turned it into a museum (how to make a guy feel old!)

We even had some old retired cattle rustlers living in the hill country nearby, and as the criminal element found out, stealing from old cattle rustlers was a lot more dangerous than stealing from average citizens.

I believe that the survivalist strategies proposed by many lack in one major ingredient- the willingness to be the meanest most immoral SOB around. Unless you are actually willing to kill - not in self defense but as offensive strategy - all the preparation will be for naught because some other mean SOB is going to come and take it away from you. One self reliant doomer is not going to be a match for a band of SOB. In the end the best protection for those of us who are not psychopaths is numbers- which is why we have had tribes and nations and cities to start with.

the best protection for those of us who are not psychopaths is numbers- which is why we have had tribes and nations and cities to start with


Wow.. I'm sorry Crazy, but that sounds like a recipe for failure.

Sure, you have to 'do what's got to be done..' but courage and moral resolve aren't the same thing as what you're painting up there. Good luck.

Take a look at this.. it's a classic piece of the American Fable..

The infrastructure of a city must be maintained or it will deteriorate, just like everything else.

When I lived in an old inner city neighborhood in Calgary, the city replaced the sewer and water pipes under the street, rebuilt the street itself, and the gas company replaced the natural gas lines under the sidewalks. (The sidewalks themselves were doing amazingly well for being 70 years old, so they just lifted them to get at the gas lines and then put them back down).

The city also rebuilt a number of the older bridges across the river because they have a finite life, too. It was a bit traumatic for commuters because they had to shut the bridges down for the entire construction season while they rebuilt them.

The important point is that everything has a finite life span and cities have to budget for rebuilding their infrastructure when it starts to deteriorate. Calgary had a fund to do this because it is not actually a surprise when a sewer line or a bridge wears out it is highly predictable. The same thing will happen to the infrastructure in the suburbs when it reaches its "best before date", although it takes a long time - typically 50 years or so - but most suburbs will get to it in the foreseeable future, and they better maintain it or it will collapse.

I take it that US cities don't budget for infrastructure replacement, even though it is inevitable. You can run but you can't hide - rust never sleeps.

What I hear is more like "we borrowed the money to put it here, we'll borrow again to replace it". Kansas City is considering a billion dollar bond program to fix infrastructure. I think that might be real money for a place that size.

A billion dollar bond program is not what they need. What they really need is a billion dollar infrastructure maintenance fund. The money should already be in the bank (or a more secure place given the state of the US banking system).

If they don't have it, they didn't plan properly. I get the feeling that describes most cities in the US.

If they had a fund, it would have probably been raided for some other project. That and lack of forethought are why things are done the way they are. Of course, borrowing expects the future to be more prosperous than the present, and that could be a bad bet with peak oil and other issues coming. I don't hold out a lot of hope for big city infrastructure when times get hard.

At least in the US, it is politically very difficult to accumulate the money for infrastructure projects in advance. A city government with most of a billion dollars in hand is subject to immense pressure that "taxes are too high", even if there was a purpose for accumulating that money (eg, rebuild the sewer system). Given that selling bonds and paying for the infrastructure out of future revenues has been the almost universal practice for more than a century, trying to switch now would create the added complication of a lengthy transition where higher taxes are needed because the city is both paying off the past bonds and accumulating money for future projects.

I am always amused when business people run for executive political office and assert, "I'll run the government like it was a business." Because they won't, in a variety of aspects, and finance is one of those. All business people like to get their firm to the point where they can pay for equipment and such out of retained earnings. Or sell stock instead of bonds (you may or may not pay a dividend, but miss an interest payment and you're bankrupt). They are always dismayed to discover that -- at least in the US -- they have to borrow for every project, so interest is a major expense. (There are other differences, like having an extremely activist "board" looking over your shoulder, but that's a subject for a different time.)

To be honest, though, one of the serious problems we have in the US is that there are a lot of voters who don't want to pay for the services that they receive from government. And far too many that don't even understand that they're getting a government service -- the "Keep your government hands off my Medicare" signs at early Tea Party rallies come to mind. Of course, I've said for years that one of the reasons that Canadians and Europeans don't object to taxes as much as people in the US do is because the other countries' governments provide a better set of services at a better price than happens in the US...

"..better set of services at a better price than happens in the US..." Maybe they don't worry as much about providing rents to their upper crust, and/or worry less about the ideological implications of doing what works.

One of the truly mindnumbing stats about the U.S. healthcare situation is that government spends more per capita on healthcare to subsidize our "private" system under the current setup than anybody else does to provide full medical to everyone. Just imagine, if we could outsource management of healthcare to Canada, we'd improve federal, state and county budgets, relieve the private sector of healthcare costs, and improve healthcare outcomes. When did we stop being "can do," and start being a country that spends trillions on padding the profits of defense contractors and pharmaceutical companies in the name of 'free' enterprise? I'm thinking somewhere around 1980?

Sorry, I just finished reading the LA paper. They interviewed one of the candidates for mayor. He's going to solve budget problems by 'eliminating waste and abuse.' Read that as more pink slips and reduced benefits. He's a rich developer who recently got a multi-billion dollar corporation about $1M in city funds to do tenant improvement on their move into a building in the city from their building 15 miles away in the suburbs. Then there was another story about another developer who is trying to get a tax break on rebuilding a derelict hotel into a $170M boutique resort but basically is threatening that it will remain a hulking undeveloped eyesore (as it has been for most of the last decade) if he doesn't get massive future tax breaks on the hospitality tax. FHA, on the other hand is making low end loan costs higher for modest buyers and raising their mortgage premium. Angels ticket buyers waited in line all day on a weekday (told by the company they had to show up in person to get their seats) because the Angels only half-staffed the SEIU-staffed ticket booths (despite roughly the lowest pay in the league). Seems like roughly every other article had the same theme. Them as has, gets. Them as don't, pays.

I suspect in 50 years time if people are still living in those suburbs they'll be more used to the outside dunny than flushing toilets by then.

The infrastructure of a city must be maintained or it will deteriorate, just like everything else.

Very true. I think this is something the average person doesn't understand. How expensive it is just to maintain infrastructure, never mind build new.

US cities are highly variable. Some are better at budgeting for maintenance than others.

However, I think infrastructure is one reason people may move toward the cities, rather than away. When push comes to shove, I think a lot of people will want access to things like electricity and running water. Even if they have to steal it, as happens in many developing nations.

Cities need to move rapidly to composting toilets. This turns three problems--sewage disposal, water use and low urban fertility. Solar on every roof can supply much of the essential electricity.

Extreme water conservation can relieve the pressure on water systems. We shouldn't be sh!tting into potable water! Much less spraying it all over our lawns, hosing down decks...showers can be very short, or just sponge bath, and not every day. Cisterns should be ubiquitous, as well as other water catchment systems. The water from roads should be channeled to roadside swales and other catchments that support native plants, trees, wetlands...

There are simple solutions all around us. But we will mostly wait till it is too late to implement them.

Oh, but lets be sure to tax ourselves heavily to build enormous monuments to our idiocy, errr, moai, errr, sports stadiums.

Folks tend to make bad decisions when they are scared, hungry, tired and alone...

To me, buying time is why prepping is important. I think most preppers recognize that it is impossible to store enough stuff to last forever. However, if people face life and death decisions it makes a vast difference as to how much time they can invest in making their decision.

Remember STOP that all survival programs teach: Stop whatever you are doing and sit down. Think about your situation. Observe what is available to you and what is going on. Establish a Plan and stick to it.

Finally, I often suggest that preppers take the "Container Test". Here's the deal: You have a standard 40 foot shipping container and you know nothing will be available shortly. But you can store only what the container will hold. You have lots of money to buy anything you want. The Test - what do you put in the container? It's amazing how many fools say gold.


Edit to add: From today's Survivalblog

A Container?! I'd LOVE a container.. but Todd, I think you're too fond of those generators. I always heard it as the Suitcase or Backpack Test. Same challenge, of course.. just a matter of degree.

I did just have that thought again at breakfast of how many cheap Brass Candlesticks are usually for sale at Goodwill, and thought about boosting up a bit more of my Brass Stockpile.. I've also been stashing fasteners, nails, staples and washers when possible. Especially Stainless Steel, when I find 'em.

What would you put ON a container? A friend of ours is putting some bee hives on his, to protect them from bears.

I was just looking at the SHTFSchool site and Selco has a really great survey up based on replies from 1,800 preppers: Global State of Survival and Preparedness Report. http://shtfschool.com/global-state-of-survival-preparedness-report/


On the container contest, I'm leaving mine empty.

I'll fill it up after everyone fills theirs :-)

As an inheritage from the Cold War, Sweden has the higest capacity of abomb-safe shelters in the world. I am sitting in a building with such a facility in the basement right now. (I lived for 5 years in Karlskrona, the center of the swedish royal navy. That city in turn have the national record in that game. I felt so safe.)


If you are in Sweden when the fecal matter hits the air distribution system, look for a sign with the orange/blue symbol seen by following the link above, and run for it.

All those shelters (payed for by tax money) has a back-exit. This exit can not be opened from the inside. They are blocked by rocks and stuff and believe me, you wont get through without a cutting torch. But they are piece of cake to open from the outside, for example by the fire department.

(Also, if you ever build a fortress for the upcoming zombie apocalypse, it must have an escape route. Or you will be seiged in like in the Resident evil movie. I think alot about such issues.)

Well, you don't have to build a new WTSHTF bunker. You could just buy a used one left over from the Cold War. It's so much less expensive:

A charming farmhouse - with a Cold War bunker in the basement

Werner and Orianna Brodbeck didn't go looking to buy a piece of our collective past. They simply wanted an Aurora “fixer-upper” when Mrs. Brodbeck, a letter carrier, spotted a newspaper advertisement listing a City of Toronto asset sale in 1996. One “asset” was only a bike ride away, so she pedaled over and spied a beautiful, boarded-up Victorian farmhouse. Smitten, she decided to find out why the home had been left abandoned, and why there was barbed wire around the roof and strange antennas on the property.

More importantly, she was able to confirm that the 1875 Thomas Pargeter house was the very real location of a mythical place that had lingered in the minds of Aurorans since the 1960s: “the bunker.”

And, just 18 inches under the home's side garden, it was still there.

Accessed from inside the home itself – which, luckily for these happy new homeowners had most of its Victorian charm intact – or via a small shaft in the garden that had been camouflaged by an aluminum garden shed until it blew over in a storm, the Preparedness Centre is a sight to behold.

I saw the sendup to the Cain Goldfish ad

And all I could think of was 'the stimulus adding energy' and the energy expressed as coal.

I doubt others see it that way, other than those who look at the world through energy glasses.

I saw that add too and laughed when Obama's stimulus was portrayed as an extra splash of water, haha. The Repubs would still have told the goldfish to get a job after it walks over to the nearest pond for a bath.

China February Crude Imports Rise To Hit Record

China's February crude-oil imports were the highest on record for a single month at 23.64 million metric tons or 5.98 million barrels a day, up 18.5% from a year earlier and surpassing the previous record set in September 2010.

I was going to post that same item myself. Chinese oil imports rose by 18.5% over the last year, and China is now importing about 2/3 as much oil as the United States - nearly 6 million barrels per day.

At the current rate of increase, Chinese imports of crude oil will exceed US imports by 2014 - i.e. in 2 years. By 2015, they could be importing over 10 million bpd.

This is something for Americans to worry about because the Chinese will be bidding against them for increasingly scarce supplies of oil in the world market. The current "What, me worry?" approach of the US government doesn't bode well for the future of American consumers.

Don't live in a place that requires long commutes to work and shopping, don't buy a car with more than 4 cylinders, and if you are using heating oil, switch to something else ASAP. This has been a message from the Crisis Early Warning System. You have been warned.

From the Energy Export databrowser:

I know this annual data is not as up-to-date as the monthly data, but I think this graphic is still compelling. (Grey is Chinese production. Thick line is Chinese consumption. Thin line is US consumption. Red and green are imports and exports.)

And then remember that Chinese per capita oil consumption is only 10% of US per capita consumption.

How can anyone be surprised that demand is going up faster than supply?
Or that this imbalance is causing prices to rise?


It was just over a year ago that China hit 5 million barrels per day of imports. Last month they imported close to 6 million barrels. The speed of increase is astounding and largely unreported in any MSM kind of way. Everyone is so caught up in this using this word or that word (peak / plataue), or this policy or that policy (dems fault / reps fault) and all the while China buys an ever increasing amount of world oil supplies.

No problems of course, USA production is up well over a 100,000 barrels per day!! Problem solved. Anyone think China won't be hitting 7 million barrels per day NEXT YEAR?

These are back of the envelope calculations so I am probably wrong on the exact figures but still I think it is worth posting.

While China exports a lot of finished goods they also import a lot of commodities. In recent months their trade surplus has been falling due to falling demand in the US and particularly the EU for their products. On the other hand China's demand for commodities continues to increase so the current account will narrow and now it seems the surplus has turned to a deficit.

To put this increased commodity demand into some perspective Chinese imports of oil surged by 18.5% year-on-year and now they import almost 6 million barrels of oil a day. That increase of 18.5% equates to about 0.93 million barrels a day which at prices of about $120 a barrel (which is about the average price of brent oil in February) would equate to $3.24 billion in increased costs for that month compared to February of 2011. That increase in demand account for 10% of the entire deficit (which stood at $31.5 billion). Off course we must note that there were increases in demand for other commodities that also contributed to this deficit. We should also not assume that China will begin producing perpetual deficits but it could be a sign of things to come seeing as I don't see China's demand for commodities wavering any time soon on the other hand I can see demand for their finished goods increasing at a slower rate.

So my final question will China begin to regularly post trade deficits seeing as their demand for oil can only grow?

The need to buy raw materials will tend to pull down the Chinese trade surplus, but I don't think it will put them into deficit territory. It doesn't really do much for the US since most of the additional purchases will be from raw material producers like Australia and Canada.

It's worthwhile to keep in mind that China has several trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves to tide them through any problems - much of it denominated in US dollars. If they sell their US government debt, it will hit the US harder than China.

You are right, with China's immense foreign exchange reserves they can absorb a lot of trade deficits for a substantial length of time. However we should note that it would seem that China may have recently past its own peak oil production. If that is the case then we can expect that demand for oil imports will increase at a significantly higher rate in the coming years. This increase in import demand will have global implications considering crude oil production has plateaued worldwide. Furthermore as they import more oil (which will drive costs of oil up) then not only will they import more oil but each barrel they do buy will be more expensive. This will have a significant effect on their trade surplus.

Also seeing as oil is a required resource to extract other commodities then the prices of those will rise as oil becomes more expensive which will make the deficit even worse for China. Those reserves may go down more quickly than expected. If those reserves go down fast enough it could have a negative impact on the US which would further exacerbate problems with the Chinese as their reserves will become increasingly useless.

You're right - it's probably true that China is past its peak of oil production, which means that they will have to go into the international market to get more oil - and that is why their imports are increasing at about 1 million bpd per year.

This will affect their trade balance, but fortunately for them they have the capacity to export enough additional manufactured goods to pay for the additional oil imports.

Since world oil production is peaking, this means they have to outbid other countries for the oil. Fortunately for them, they can export enough to do this, at least in the near term. Unfortunately for other countries, e.g. the US, the Chinese are in direct competition against them for both imports of oil and exports of manufactured goods.

The US and Europe may think they have some sort of control over international markets, but unfortunately for them, it is just an illusion. The Chinese will be dealing with the oil exporting countries for both imports of oil and exports of manufactured goods to pay for them, and the US and EU are going to be out of the international trading loop with respect to both.

One of the key requirements for balancing the global economic system is for the Chinese to reduce their trade deficit. It would be better if that was achieved through a broad increase in imported goods. IF it is all the result of oil imports then all it does is shift the surplus from them to the oil producers. Unless the propensity of the oil producers to consume is greater than that of the Chinese then nothing has been achieved to re-balance the global system. However, I still think several surplus countries is still better than one surplus country.

Of course there is a downside to the reduction in the Chinese trade surplus- there will be less money to buy US Treasuries. Of course that is not such a big problem right now since we have substituted the US Federal Reserve for the Chinese Central bank as the buyer of US Treasuries.

This is of course validation of what we were told as children- once you start lying you have to keep telling bigger and bigger lies to cover up the earlier lies.

Actually, given that US oil imports are steadily decreasing at about 0.8mbd/yr, the crossover point will come even sooner.

A bit of mixed blessing for the US? great to no longer be the world's largest importer of the stuff, but the US is still stuck in the position of being the world's largest policeman of the oil trade, increasingly for China's benefit.

As oil exports from Western Canada to China increase, it just highlights the difference in approach between the two countries. The US expending its money and people in trying to stabilise ME exports, while rejecting Cdn pipelines, and China spends no military effort, and directs much of its investment toward the very politically stable Canadian oil market.

So which country is being smarter here?

So which country is being smarter here?

Big oil ;-)

China might be adding oil to their strategic petroleum reserve.

I had the same thought. This jump might be a one off thing. Though it's a scary thought as well because this means they anticipate a massive disruption in the future.

re: BP accused of selling "dirty gasoline" in California

California has its own standard of "boutique" gasoline, as the industry analysts call it. Not very many refineries outside of California produce this standard of gasoline, which is one reason for California's very high gasoline prices (see US gas price map).

If one of the refineries in California goes down, it might not be worthwhile for the refiner to adjust its out-of-state refineries to produce gasoline that meets California standards until the outage is over. Refiners might just ignore the problem, let the shortages occur, and let gas prices spike sufficiently high that Californians drive enough fewer miles to alleviate the shortage. That might be the future strategy of a lot of oil companies.

"let gas prices spike sufficiently high that Californians drive enough fewer miles to alleviate the shortage..."

I think you mean Californians, Nevadans, Arizonans, and Oregonians. Even though they aren't on CARBOB, most of the refined products in these other states come from CA refineries. AZ (with some supply from Texas), and OR (with significant supply from Washington) would see proportionally lower price spikes, but if it's spiking in CA for very long, it will be spiking in all of these states.

Anyway, refinery utilization in PADD 5 is significantly lower than U.S. average.

On the PADD 4 to PADD 5 product export idea, a product pipeline from Salt Lake to Vegas would probably make sense, but refinery capacity would need to be increased in Salt Lake, and I haven't looked at crude pipeline capacity into Salt Lake.

NOTE: I am out of date. Somebody else thought of this! Las Vegas is no longer supplied only by the Cal-Nev product pipeline from CA. As of last month they are also supplied by a new 60kbpd product pipeline from Salt Lake called the UNEV pipeline... (how original). It isn't at full capacity yet, though, despite the huge price differential. This should increase PADD IV to PADD V product transfer (the capacity of the pipeline is about double the total current transfer level.) This is not enough to serve full NV product demand, so the Cal-Nev pipeline will still be critical to NV, although they might be able to do a little maintenance now. As I mentioned above, I suspect SLC refinery capacity will need to increase.

As oilsands activity heats up, Alberta employers brace for soaring costs, worker shortages

Three years after global energy prices tanked, Alberta’s oilsands are booming once again.

But industry players say they’re already bracing for what they fear lies ahead: chronic labour shortages and soaring cost pressures, two factors that caused so much havoc during the last boom.

As 2012 began, the number of workers employed in the province was already five per cent above its pre-recession high, the Conference Board of Canada says, handily outstripping the national growth rate.

Over the next two years, the board predicts Alberta will create 132,900 net new jobs — or about 40,000 more people than the entire population of Red Deer — cutting the province’s unemployment rate to 4.5 per cent by 2013.

“Over the next 10 years we think that, apart from the Albertans and Canadians who will take on new jobs in the energy industry, we are probably looking to fill about 100,000 jobs that we won’t have enough people” for, says Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who was in Chicago last week to meet with business and labour groups.

“When we say that, their eyes just pop out, because in some places down here they’re at 20 per cent unemployment. So they really want those people to be able to come up” to Alberta, she says.

But Alberta is not the only area experiencing labor shortages:

Internationally, Alberta also faces stiff competition in its own backyard. Australia, which has already locked up some $500 billion (US) of LNG contracts with Asian customers, has actively recruited in Edmonton and Calgary.

So, for people with critically short skills who don't mind moving to vast, underpopulated countries like Canada and Australia and working their butts off in remote, uncivilized areas that are either too cold or too hot, these are great times.

For people who don't really have much of an education, who want a nice high-paying desk job working 9 to 5 at a relaxed pace in a very civilized urban area with lots of amenities and job security, well, I guess they're screwed. I have to warn Americans that both Western Canada and Australia have much higher educational standards than the US.

Just a comment about the weather. This next 10 days, starting today looks more May then March. The "green up" is going to happen very early this year up here in Wisconsin if this all pans out. We may be nearing 80F sometime next week. Today will be a record high of 69F (according to the NWS here in La Crosse) which will beat the record of 67F from 1894.

A story about the NE and early spring/late fall:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2012) — If you've been thinking our world is more green than frozen these days, you're right. A recent study has found that spring is indeed arriving earlier -- and autumn later -- in the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The reason? The urban landscape traps heat in the summer and holds it throughout the winter, triggering leaves to turn green earlier in the spring and to stay green later into autumn. The result is a new, extended growing season.


I can recall one spring must have been about the last day of March in the late eighties, we drove down to LaCrosse (actually the folks we visited had a farm on the Minnesota side of the river). The temp was mid eighties, there were still patches of snow melting, and the Mississippi was still mostly frozen.

Here in Minneapolis, the previous record for today was 59F (1878), today was 65F. The lake by my house still has about 75% ice cover.

Which lake? It shouldn't last long, given the downpour going on now and the string of 70+ degree days now forecast.

Strange days indeed.

Question--so if MN is getting 70s in early March when highs should be in the 30s, what will the highs be in August?

Here in Chicago we currently have 64 degrees, with rain forecasted tonight. We are expected to stay warm for the next two weeks. I heard on the radio this morning that we are unlikely to see more snow for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, I am out doing my spring prep weeks early. I got early peas planted, as well as spinach and chard. Actually I have broccoli and brussels sprouts that overwintered. That's a first for me. My bees are bringing in masses of pollen. Buds should be open on the apricots within the next week or so. Leaves are coming out on the berry bushes.

While there is still a chance of a freeze, seems like the garden is just moving ahead.

EDIT : my first garden salad of the year : dandelion leaves, salad burnet, sorrel, chives, swiss chard.

Four Lies About America's Energy "Crisis"

Oil prices are escalating and Americans soon may pay $5 for a gallon of gasoline. This grim fact has not escaped the notice of politicians. America's latest energy crisis has prompted heated rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats. Here are four lies that have been bandied about. ...

1. The gas crisis is President Obama's fault. ...
2. President Obama hasn't done anything to increase America's energy supply. ...
3. The president hasn't done enough to bring new petroleum resources on line. ...
4. The president has exaggerated the environmental consequences of an all-of-the-above energy strategy. ...

The reality is that Republicans have no energy strategy because they are beholden to the oil and gas industry. Since 1990 oil and gas companies have contributed $238.7 million to candidates and parties and 75 percent has gone to Republicans -- a higher percentage this year. It's not "drill, baby, drill," it's "money, baby, money."

S - "... they are beholden to the oil and gas industry." So the implication is that the R's are beholding to the oil patch because they got $179 millions but the D's don't feel beholding for the $60 million they got. Interesting "logic".

+1 on Rockman's observation. The cynicism of the Democratic Party is every bit as dangerous as Republican normalcy. Maybe more, in fact, since it's less honest and less representative of its constituency's views and desires. The reigning reality, the thing that makes every mainstream (capitalist) politician beholden to oil, is cars-first transportation. We either attack that, or the oil continues to burn. Obama is a disaster on this front, as on every other one.

I don't think anyone is claiming Democrats are washed in the blood of the Lamb. Pretty much all of the limited movement in the policy directions that would be driven by peak oil HAS come from one party, however.

What with the rise of the Republican snakes like Santorum, Gingrich, etc., it's going to be an interesting year. Would I vote for Obama? Probably not. But it wouldn't be too upsetting to see him in there another 4 years, compared to the alternative. Just turn off the TV and ignore him.

I really would like to see the Republican party go through some major convulsions, it's needed to clear them of the idiots and perhaps some young libertarians can start to make some waves. But I'm not holding my breath.

Michael – I try to avoid the political arguments. Most seem based upon philosophical differences. And everyone has the right to their own opinions IMHO. Not so much right or wrong but just different. Most of the verbal battles deal with fringe issues (abortion, gay rights, social welfare, etc.) And by fringe I don’t mean unimportant or irrelevant but those that don’t have a huge impact on the economy. For instance whether gay marriage is legal in a state won’t have much impact on unemployment there or revenue generated from property tax. Again, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important social issue.

Many folks in the US are really suffering. Parents watch their kids do without much comfort and, more importantly IMHO, without much hope for a better future. The different political positions on those fringe issues should be addressed and debated vigorously. But I think both sides of the political power structure are more than glad to foster those debates to the point of splitting society into opposing forces so as to keep everyone distracted by the absolute failure, IMHO, of both parties to deal with the economy, in general, and our energy future in particular. Even in the current political battle both sides may be focused on energy but are we seeing anything remotely reasonable in this discussion? IMHO I don’t see it. Just more efforts to confuse and distract the public and, most significantly, keep us divided into a “them and us” mindset.

Your argument may be verging an a conspiracy, D's and R's get together to design a program of distraction. I think thats unrealistic. Instead they react to their local political opportunities, and that results in what we are seeing. If someone thinks they can get poltical milage out of a side iisue, they will trumpet it. In any case, the "debates" about the E's: Energy, and the Economy, are so emotion based dysfunctional, that perhaps they are doing us a favor, by going onto side issues.

eos - Perhaps not. I don't recall the term but I'm sure one of our wordsmiths will chime in. You and I are sitting on a park bench and get bitten by a bug. We both slap the bug...did we conspire to do the same thing? We both walk into our cold homes and turn the heat on...did we conspire to do this? Both parties have a similar motive: maintain power. And they have the same audience and the same tools available to them. I would more likely suspect a conspiracy if the two parties acted significantly different from each other.

Any political party which decided to take a rational approach to our future would soon be out of power. There is little leeway in crazy land which does not do nuance.

i checked the cumulative out put of my 3kw photovoltaic grid tied system at 12 noon local time. 8.8kwh. not too shabby for the 2nd week of march. this is the first winter since the system was installed that i got output in november, december, january and february. often the panels will be off line due to snow cover. a dusting is a good as a foot for blockage.

even on a sunny day i would only get 8 kwh max due to low winter sun angle and less than ideal roof position. i also have my solar carts in the driveway to charge up my portable emergency power.

one can read on this site how atomic energy is a curse. then read how atomic energy is "clean energy". one can read on this site the utter folly of fracking then read how it is "clean energy".

one can read on this site how solar power will save us then read how it is not cost effective.

i figger if oil becomes too expensive to extract it would be nice to have some electric from solar panels. i need me some big batteries to store the energy. maybe some guns to shoot any one who would shoot me to get my power. can you say mad max?

my state has a solar energy credit. it was $560 about 4 years ago. it has dropped about 30%. i wish i had another 3 kw on the roof. just to spin my meter backwards.

i work in a blighted industrial center on the east coast. a famous fast food franchise opened a 2 minnit walk away. i go there at lunch time and sit with my pal. he buys i brown bag it. i caint tell the impending end of western civilization from the people who stop in. drive through and sit down or take out business is brisk.

collapse will be sudden and violent. but when? tomorrow? next week? next month? next year?

stocks are up with minor corrections (profit taking). people are cruising 10 to 15 miles over the limit with the price of gaz-o-leen very high. they do it in SUV's and pick ups. the stores are full of shoppers buying trinkets from asia. maybe poverty is hidden.

i go to work and come directly home. mostly buy food and very little else. i visit my GF and take in a show at low cost venue nearby. bread and circuses sounds pretty good to me.

TPTB will keep the show going as long as possible. i figger TSWHTF sudden and violent (did i say that already?). those that survive the transition will do so by luck and not by being prepared. expect bug out bags to exchange hands a few times.

the zombie hoards will storm any strong hold. unless you are a warlord now and have your fiefdom set up and
perimeter patrolled you will be over run. better hope the biological release of weaponized bird flu thins resistance out 99% and maybe you too.

dont forget to vote for your flavor of B.S. in november. WW3 no matter who gets in.

"it's all good"

The Pope will issue a edict accusing heresy of anybody who believes in Peak Oil Heresy.

It will become a witch hunt. It'll be more fun than sport.

There will be no speaking, writing, or even thinking of Peak Oil. The world will be a better place without these Peak Oil heathens and their ridiculous propaganda about Peak Oil.

sarcasm on

My guess is the Holy Chair understand the PO situation very well.

Deficits Push Municipalities to Desperation

...good week for New York’s cities and counties.

On Monday, Rockland County sent a delegation to Albany to ask for the authority to close its widening budget deficit by issuing bonds backed by a sales tax increase.

On Tuesday, Suffolk County, one of the largest counties outside New York City, projected a $530 million deficit over a three-year period and declared a financial emergency. Its Long Island neighbor, Nassau County, is already so troubled that a state oversight board seized control of its finances last year.

And the city of Yonkers said its finances were in such dire straits that it had drafted Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor, to help chart a way out.

Yeah, that's what happens when you have a select group of financiers in Manhattan sucking the state (not to mention the country) dry.

US senator says naval blockade of Iran should be considered

An international naval blockade of Iranian oil exports should be considered before any resort to air strikes against the country's disputed nuclear program, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said on Friday.

He said any such blockade should be preceded by lining up alternative oil supplies to avoid a price spike on world crude markets. Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer and the world's third-largest petroleum exporter.

According to international law a blockade is an Act of War

He said any such blockade should be preceded by lining up alternative oil supplies to avoid a price spike on world crude markets.

I like Senator Carl Levin, he is a good democrat, but if he believes it will be that simple he has a lot to learn and that is being very kind. After all, I really don't want to call him stupid. If lining up alternative oil supplies is that easy, we should be doing it now to bring down oil supplies.

The hard truth is, the world needs Iranian oil to keep the price down below $200 a barrel. Bloomberg says a Protracted Iran Conflict Could Drive Oil Prices Up $60 Barrel.

Iran produces about 3.5 mb/d and they export around 2.5 mb/d. If that much oil were taken off the market tomorrow oil prices would likely spike to close to $200.

So politicians, both right and left, are in a quandary. They would love to blockade Iran but can't without driving oil prices so high it would wreck the economy.

Ron P.

I think its mainly about bluster, "they won't actually do what I say, so I have the freedom to play to the gallery". You usually expect this sort of stuff from the party out of power though.

Meanwhile such an action, would be just one more warlike step, the current embargo is considered an act of war by many(including myself). But, obviously the Iranians don't want a shooting war, or we'd already be in one. But, we insist on backing them further into the corner, and who knows what will happen.

Apparently Levin also thinks it would also be advantageous to "impose" a no-fly zone over Iran. Hey, we did that over Iraq, what's the problem? Well, the US would probably need to take out Iran's air defenses in the area of the no-fly zone. The US did that during Desert Storm, which was a bit more intense than a police action. But, hey, we are the Good Guys, so it's OK to "impose" our will on other nations...

E. Swanson

American exceptionalism! We're always the good guys, we couldn't possibly do any wrong. Remember from way back when: "We had to destroy the village to save it!"

"destroy the village"

I think we just had another My Lai moment.


At another forum, I posted the following in reply to the usual yammering that "Iran would be insane NOT to build a nuke:"

Khameni, Iran's Supreme Ruler, issued a fatwa regarding nuclear weapons and has reiterated it on many occasions. Many Western pundits cannot understand Iran's stance and often pose the "build the capability but not the bomb--yet" argument because that's what THEY would do. Lets look at Pakistan's experience first:

Did having nukes keep Pakistan from being invaded by the US Empire? No. Why? Pakistan has no deterence capability as it has no way to deliver its warheads to the US mainland. Pakistan might eventually construct such a system, but it would be very costly for a country that has too many domestic problems needing attention and funding. Plus, it must be admitted that the dynamic that fueled Pakistan's desire for a nuke was because India wanted one too.

Iran faces domestic problems similar to Pakistan's, but has so far detered the effort to be invaded by the US Empire despite not having Nukes--How? Its geography, military capabilities, and the very solidly entrenched nationalism of its people who have already shown the West what they are capable of doing when faced with an existential threat. Plus, Iran's made it very clear that any invasion will be met by an all out assault on the Gulf region's hydrocarbon industry's infrastructure that will effectively end the Industrial Era. And that is why Iran doesn't need to devote its scarce resources to deveolping a nuclear weapon--It simply doesn't need one.

Levin's extremism indicates the reality of the checkmating of the US policy of Iranian Regime Change by Iran, China, and Russia. Any sort of blockade would need UNSC approval, as it's an aggressive act of war, and that won't happen. I suggest drumheads read these two very important policy essays by Putin that have somehow evaded being posted to the main Drumbeat, http://en.rian.ru/world/20120227/171547818.html

I like your tone, but I wouldn't claim Pakistan is invaded by the US. Sure we push them around, and make drone attacks in their tribal areas. But, there is no way we can actually control them -particularly the people. Our attempts to manipulate them are just generating greater enmity -if thats possible.

Iran has a governing issue, but not the deep violent ethnic conflicts which exist in Pakistan.

"Iran has a governing issue, but not the deep violent ethnic conflicts which exist in Pakistan."

Iran has ~25,000 Persian Jews, while Pakistan has been less tolerant of Jews in the last century, despite their having been there for centuries.

The Middle East is an uncomfortable neighborhood for minorities, people whose very existence rebukes warring labels of religious and national identity. Yet perhaps 25,000 Jews live on in Iran, the largest such community, along with Turkey’s, in the Muslim Middle East. There are more than a dozen synagogues in Tehran; here in Esfahan a handful caters to about 1,200 Jews, descendants of an almost 3,000-year-old community.

Over the decades since Israel’s creation in 1948, and the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the number of Iranian Jews has dwindled from about 100,000. But the exodus has been far less complete than from Arab countries, where some 800,000 Jews resided when modern Israel came into being.

In Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Iraq — countries where more than 485,000 Jews lived before 1948 — fewer than 2,000 remain. The Arab Jew has perished. The Persian Jew has fared better.

25000 in a population of 80 million is pretty small. I think you are saying is Persia has been more tolerant, which is great. However a minority whose population is under .1% of the population will never seem to pose a threat to TPTB, so it is easy to treat them as a novelty, than as a threat. Pakistan has what 15%ish Shiite among Sunnis (I don't want to look it up). And regular car bombings of the same group inflicting mass casualities on a nearly weekly bases. Not to mention the struggles between fundamentalist Salafis and more secular Sunnis.

I posted the following in reply to the usual yammering that "Iran would be insane NOT to build a nuke:"

Stopping their nuke building plans allows the government to say with a straight face 'got no active program'.

Allows them to be a martyr if there is an attack.

And in Iraq, we at least had the excuse that we were protecting minorities within the country from attack by government military forces (the Kurds in the north, and the Shiites in the south). We even had UN backing for those nofly zones. But, I don't think any such excuse exists or can be plausibly concacted in the case of Iran. [Aside from the fact that their anti-aircraft capability might pose a genuine threat to such patrols.]

While Shiites in southern Iraq were under attack by government military forces, it is incorrect to refer to them as a minority. The breakdown of population in the three categories you used is about 20% Kurdish, 20% non-Kurdish Sunni, and 60% Shiite. Saddam's Arab Sunni/Baathist faction dominated the country through the military and terrorism, even though they were themselves a minority. Fear of "Shiite revenge" by the majority Shiites continues to be a factor contributing to political instability in Iraq.

Rising gas prices create smoking-hot demand for cooking oil

From California to Maine, thefts of used cooking oil are on the rise — driven by the rising price of oil that makes biofuels more cost competitive with fossil fuels. Like thieves who ransack foreclosed homes for copper wire, higher prices for used cooking oil can attract people with a hunger for crime as well as dinner.

The last time cooking oil rustlers were so active was in the summer of 2008 — the last time gasoline prices hit $4.

"cooking oil rustlers"


It's the new 'Freedom Fries'

I just get a vision of someone twirling an oil sodden rope.


It is rather bizarre that Canada's biggest oil refinery, in Saint John, New Brunswick, has no access to extremely cheap and plentiful Western Canadian oil; or that Suncor Energy, Canada's largest oil company, has to ship oil from its massive oil sands plants in Western Canada to its Montreal refinery by pipelining it over the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver, and then shipping it down the West Coast of the US, through the Panama Canal, up the East Coast of the US, and up the Saint Laurence River to Montreal. This illustrates a certain lack of forward planning in Canadian energy policy.

Canadian oil producers look east

Canadian solution considered for discounted crude

For Canada's largest oilsands producer, sending a recent shipment of western Canadian crude to its Montreal refinery required a detour across the Rockies, over two oceans and through one of the world's busiest waterways.

Suncor Energy Inc. went to great lengths to deliver the oil east for the test run, sending barrels by pipeline to tankers in B.C.'s coastal waters, which reached its St. Lawrence River refinery port via the Panama Canal. The roundabout journey is a testament to the scant access to eastern Canadian markets faced by companies mining and drilling up fast-growing volumes of bitumen in northern Alberta, production that's set to outstrip export pipeline capacity in a few years.

Oil companies intent on securing new customers are starting to look east, moved by stiff and unprecedented opposition that has delayed - and aims to derail - plans to lay pipe to new markets off Canada's West Coast and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Canada's refineries, largely in the East import 44 per cent of their crude feedstock, according to Statistics Canada's most recent figures.

Recent prices:
North Sea Brent Blend $125.70
Western Canadian Select $72.58
Price difference: $53.12 per barrel.

North Sea Brent ain't the same as Western Canadian Select!

WCS Defined courtesy of Cenovus

WCS Crude Oil Quality
Gravity (API) 20.5
Density (kg/m3) 930.1
MCR (Wt%) 9.6
Sulphur (Wt%) 3.51
TAN (Mg KOH/g) 0.93
Crude quality data from Crude Quality Inc. average for 2009.

WCS — produced out of Western Canada — is made up of existing Canadian heavy conventional and bitumen crude oils blended with sweet synthetic and condensate diluents. It is a consistent high quality crude blend that was launched in December 2004 with volumes of approximately 250,000 barrels per day, and is well-positioned to become a North American benchmark.

Sounds like dilbit to me?

Spill from Hell: Diluted Bitumen
Poisoned air. Sunken gunk. A clean-up nightmare. What we're learning from the oil sands 'DilBit' dump into the Kalamazoo River.

From NEB's stats...
In 2010, Quebec's refineries processed 43k m^3/d of Light Crude, and only 11k of Heavy Crude. (rates are monthly averages)

From StatsCan, Quebec's refineries didn't receive any bitumen and only a small amount of syncrude.

See Table 134-0001 Refinery supply of crude oil and equivalent, monthly (cubic metres)

North Sea Brent ain't the same as Western Canadian Select!

That's true, but the main difference is that production of Brent oil is coming to an end and the Brent oil field is going to be shut down in the near future. There ain't gonna be no Brent in Brent Blend. OTOH production of WCS will be slowly but steadily increasing into the indefinite future.

You have some weird ideas about the types of oil that are trading in the world oil market. Western Canadian Select is an attempt to create a refinery feedstock with consistent qualities similar to Arabian Heavy or Venezuelan Extra-Heavy by blending different varieties of Canadian oil.

A lot of the oil available on the world market is no better in quality than WCS, and if you go to Saudi Arabia during an oil crisis to ask for some of their "surplus oil", you are apt to be offered something considerably worse in quality - e.g. with heavy metal contamination that could damage your refinery.

A refinery that is built to process heavy Mexican Mayan crude or heavy Venezuelan, but can't get it any more because both Mexican and Venezuelan production is declining, will probably have no problem processing Western Canadian Select.

In 2010, Quebec's refineries processed 43k m^3/d of Light Crude, and only 11k of Heavy Crude. (rates are monthly averages)

From StatsCan, Quebec's refineries didn't receive any bitumen and only a small amount of syncrude.

I think those last two remaining refineries in Quebec are going to go out of business in the near future unless they get access to a more secure oil supply - which means they have to be able to process heavy, sour crude. Adapt or die, the Darwinian ethic.

And if they can't get cheap heavy crude from Western Canada and have to use Arabian heavy or Venezuelan heavy or Mexican heavy - they're going to die anyway because they won't be able to afford it.

Doesn't Western oil already come to the Great Lakes at several locations? Can't they use tankers to get it to Quebec and New Brunswick via the Saint Lawrence Seaway? Why send it around the horn (well just thru Panama).

They could ship oil to Quebec refineries via the Great Lakes and the St. Laurence Seaway, but the Great Lakes and the St. Laurence Seaway freeze over in the wintertime. This makes it a less than ideal route for providing a source of winter heating oil to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

People shouldn't burn oil for heat these days, anyway, but...
Closure of the Saint Laurence will be 83 days this year, barring abrupt changes in the weather. I'm talking about moving crude. They might have to shift production a bit earlier in the year and use some distributed storage (fill people's oil tanks) or add some additional tank farms, but one small Seawaymax tanker could carry twice as much oil as a unit train, and 9 months of cheap oil's better than none.

They probably find it cheaper to ship the oil via the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Panama Canal rather than through the Great Lakes and St. Laurence Seaway. At least that's the route companies have used in the past. I think Panamax tankers can be around three times the size of Seawaymax tankers, so that might be the deciding factor.

Pipeline is the cheapest way to move oil over land, though.

The Panama canal will be able to handle significantly larger than Panamax vessels soon ("New Panamax"). Yes, Panamax is MUCH bigger than Seawaymax (3X is about right). It's a MUCH longer route, however, and they have to use capacity on a pipeline which is already full of oil going shorter distances (until they get the parallel pipeline built). The Seawaymax tanker should be able to move the same amount of oil in the same time with lower fuel consumption and without tying up Transmountain capacity. I'm missing something, but not sure what. Maybe there's a bottleneck getting enough crude east to the Great Lakes to start with?

In looking at and reading about what the future may hold as the declines begin, I don't see a whole lot of conversation about tailored responses and action planning. I get the impression that too many "preppers" are working towards "one size fits all" solutions.

In reality, no two of us will be impacted in the same way at the same time. Some of us will be more impacted by rising fuel prices than others. Some will be more severely impacted by weather related events due to climate change. Others are more vulnerable to the impact of collapsing financial markets.

Some of the factors that need to be considered when analyzings your own vulnerability and potential preparations are:

1. Age....will you still be around when TSHTF??
2. Physical Health....can you walk a mile to the store?
3. Financial Health....can you afford $5 gas? $7 gas? $10 gas?
4. Geographic Location....are you immune to near-term climate change events?
5. Willingness to Relocate....why not?..money?..family?..fear?
6. Individual Skills.....what can you contribute to living in a new community?
7. Aptitude to Learn New Skills...what can you be readily taught to do?

Thoughts, comments or suggestions?

3. ....can you afford $5 gas? $7 gas? $10 gas?

It may not matter so much what you can afford. Can your society/economy afford it? Which goes to #2. Can you walk to the store day after day hoping there will be something there to buy? Can you be one of the first in line to get whatever came in today? Can you get that [whatever] safely home without the mob taking it?

One of my first memories of Moscow, 1974, was watching the que form around the block when word got out that the butcher shop had gotten some fresh chickens in, and the frustration when the Искуплен куриного мяса [sold out] sign went up while the line still disappeared around the corner.


I follow and understand your reasoning. However, I was looking at the earlier stages of a decline in a stairstep scenario. Depending on every individuals unique circumstances some will be impacted sooner and more severely than others. Obviously, when there is no gas at the station and no food on the shelves, a bag of gold coins won't help a whole lot.

I follow and understand your reasoning. However, I was looking at the earlier stages of a decline in a stairstep scenario.

This is how I see it too, i.e. in successive stepdowns. 08 was first and it seems likely the 2nd stepdown will happen this year, 2012. If not, I'd be very surprised. I also agree with the idea that; Depending on every individuals unique circumstances some will be impacted sooner and more severely than others. A kind of cruel real life game of musical chairs in which the disenfranchised live with friends or relatives, in their vehicles or abandoned homes. If my wife and I had failed to refinance our equity loan and 1st together just prior to the 08 collapse we would have lost our home as well. Right now we are trying to get the new Obama loan for mortgage holders that have no late or delinquent payments and need a lower percentage rate. We want to get that because the writings on the wall that once the next stepdown occurs our businesses will take another hit, and if our mortgage is a lot less we'll be fine, at least until the 3rd stepdown.

But we are just a couple out of millions in similar situations. I would venture to guess that just as many if not more will get ridden out of town so to speak in this next step down. Each step down will take more until imho the numbers scraping by exceeds the carrying capacity of the system to handle that many angry people that will at some point incite unrest. Then it starts to break down pretty fast.

I'm wondering if the stepdowns will start occurring with greater frequency, i.e. or worse, once a stepdown occurs there is no recovery due to a lack of funds to kickstart the economy. It seems like at some point it will all just flounder and consumerism will fall so much contraction will continue until the real hard game of musical chairs for the last of the easy to get food takes place. Don't want to be in that contest. Might do some hoarding ahead of that event.

PE, good luck on the mortgage situation.
Taking a bit broader view, 1970 might be seen as the first stair step down for the US. Not only did the US peak in oil production, median incomes for the middle class more or less leveled out. My own political bias would put the second step down at Reagan's election. It was in his administration that the country's tax and financial structures were re-engineered to provide a bigger conduit of money from the lower to the upper classes. Then came 'Bush the lesser' with his horribly expensive and useless foreign wars. On to 2008 and we can see the steps seem more frequent as you observed.

Best we can probably do is follow some version of westexas' ELP.

Interesting timeline ET that is probably more accurate. I was thinking in terms of peak oil, i.e. hitting a plateau in 05 followed by debacle of 08.

It is interesting the political progression of transferring more wealth to the top percentiles via the R's. One could surmise it is political power influenced by wealth, or insecurity of the wealthy due to a shrinking pie of finite resources, they are grabbing as much as possible for themselves while the going is good. The Romney 20% tax cut plan which predominantly works to further assist the wealthiest seems so outlandish it would be dead before it got uttered, especially in light of recent deficits, but people never seem to vote against tax cuts even if what they get is a pittance and actually end up paying for those tax cuts for the wealthy in other ways, but are too uninformed to realise their being played.

I was wondering if eventually the R's will support a zero tax policy on anyone making over a million. Give them a special card in which they can avoid local sales tax. Why not reject commuter lanes to provide a special lane on highways for them to drive unfettered by heavy 99er traffic? There could be plexi-glass walkways in airports and on sidewalks only they could access. Disneyworld already has VIP passes for the super wealthy in which they go ahead of all the regular people paying (only) 145 dollars per person. There could be special roped off sections in restaurants. The potential for what could seem like a Sci-fi movie scenario is there.

Yeah, I mean ultimately collapse is personal, right?

If you lose your job, get divorced, go bankrupt, and are just diagnosed with metastatic cancer...does peak oil and climate change matter so much?

It's a question of individuals doing what they can, and still keeping some time to enjoy some things here or there. There are so many ways to "prepare" that we could write books and journals about it.

I already consider my world to have collapsed in many ways, but don't want to go into too detail lest I turn this post into a sob story. Suffice to say that I've lost many friends and contacts and have turned into a hermit. Most of what I'm doing right now is financial. Moving my money into cash, physical goods, and metals, and avoiding stocks/bonds/401ks, etc. I'm trying to reduce expenses as much as I possibly can. Bernanke's wrong if he thinks he's going to turn this saver into a spender.

I'm still relatively young and healthy so I always keep relocation in the back of my mind.

But hey while the oil is flowing(In USA)anyone with a pulse can get a job in oil and make 80k-120k a year.Drill Baby Drill!


New Challenger Video: Super 8 Film Of Space Shuttle Disaster Uncovered

Rare film of the 1986 Challenger explosion, taken by Jeffrey Ault of Orange City, Fla., has emerged. It is perhaps the only amateur recording of the event on film, and online it has been made available exclusively to The Huffington Post.

...While two home videos (one Betamax and one VHS) of the Challenger tragedy have surfaced, Ault's film, shot from the Kennedy Space Center viewing site fewer than ten miles from the launch, offers a never before seen -- and significantly closer -- perspective.

Interesting video.

It seems that some of the folks one can hear off-camera didn't realize they witnessed the stack exploding until the flight director announced so over the public address system.

It seems to me that Mitt Romney has the Republican Presidential nomination in the bag.


I wonder what his position(s) on energy are?


Here are some references:

Compensate Nevada for nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. (Oct 2011)

Climate change is occurring, with SOME human contribution. (Mar 2010)

No-regrets policy at home; reduce greenhouse emission abroad. (Mar 2010)

Nuclear power is a win-win: no CO2 and no imports. (Mar 2010)

They don’t call it “America warming” but “global warming”. (Jan 2008)

Opposes McCain-Lieberman bill due to $0.50/gal. gas tax. (Jan 2008)

$20 billion package for energy research & new car technology. (Jan 2008)

Need worldwide global warming solutions; not CAFE or US tax. (Jan 2008)

Invest in new technologies to get us off of foreign oil. (Dec 2007)

Develop energy technology like nuclear or liquefied coal. (Oct 2007)

The time for true energy independence has come. (Aug 2007)

Exporting carbon emissions to China hurts US and planet. (Aug 2007)

No-regrets policy: biofuel, nuclear power, drill ANWR. (Jun 2007)

Big Oil should reinvest profits in oil refineries. (Jun 2007)

No-regrets policy: energy independence and CO2 reduction. (May 2007)

Develop alternative energy but also drill in ANWR. (Dec 2006)

Can’t become energy independent in a decade, but be on track. (Jan 2006)

The full quotes for above:


The 'on the issues' site:


Environmental and foreign policy issue 'on-the-record' quotes are there too, among many other topics.

But now he has to play the the Republican base, and the major corporate donars. Most of those positions will be jettisoned.

Mitt is probably aware of his father's career:

From Wiki:

"...He joined Nash-Kelvinator in 1948, and became the chief executive of its successor, American Motors Corporation, in 1954. There he turned around the struggling firm by focusing all efforts on the compact Rambler car. Romney mocked the products of the "Big Three" automakers as "gas-guzzling dinosaurs" ..."


Sounds like he was a man before his time.

H, he flip-flopped on GW and now is a denialist--apparently a litmus test for acceptance by the far right wing lunatic fringe that now controls the Repubs.

A little formatting help anyone?

1. How do you pull each others quotes out and block quote them in your replies? Do you have to do the HTML thing and type blockquote on both sides? Is there an easier way?

Block quoted

2. How do you insert pictures, graphs, etc?


If you use Firefox try 'Xinha Here!'



Whoops, sorry, HTML requires those tags, always the start tag and the end tag. Some you can get away without but that is naughty and can lead to unexpected results. It is how HTML works.

I do hand-typed HTML blockquotes, and "a href"s mostly.


<a href="url-to-stuff">link text</a>

I won't speak for others, but for myself, yep, you embed the HTML markup tags. There are any number of tools you can use to do WYSIWYG HTML composition and then cut-and-paste-special the results into the TOD comment box. How well that translates into formatted comments will depend on whether the tool's HTML is consistent with the subset that TOD allows. I cheerfully admit to being both old and old-school, learned text formatting and publishing with embedded markup languages, and so think that everyone ought to learn to read/write at least some HTML.

You only need to know about five tags (and where required, the trivial corresponding closing tag): <blockquote> for quoted text; <i> for italics for emphasis; <img> for the occasional image; <a> for links if you want to tie it to specific text; and <pre> to do little tables using a constant-width font. The TOD page on formatting tips explains all of those except <img> nicely. I admit that while writing comments that are too long anyway, I sometimes use the list stuff, and in non-standard ways to boot. Bad Mike!

Why learn that (very) basic HTML instead of just using a tool? Most of the time you don't use more than the <blockquote> and maybe <i> tags, and typing those directly into the comment box is faster. You won't "accidentally" paste in complex HTML that messes up the formatting after some part of it is deleted by the comment system. There won't be any unpleasant surprises down the road if the tool changes/breaks. You'll be able to read basic HTML in other settings.

my An image insertion experiment:

those little height and width numbers are important after all:

Looking at the page source there are height and width numbers for your first image. If you didn't add them then they are being added automagically by Drupal.

BTW it is considered impolite to size down an image using set heights and widths rather than adjusting the actual image size before posting. If, for example, you halve the height and width of the image in your tag the viewer still has to download the whole big image. If you scale before posting then the viewer only has to download 1/4 of the data. Some readers here are still on dial up, slow connections and are very sensitive to this.

I actually started using a local proxy server to deal with repeated large images that some people still post and scale down with the tags. Every time I reloaded or returned to a page I would get a big lag loading images, now it is only the first time as later views pull from cache.


So what is the width of an oil drum column in terms of these html numbers? Anyone?

It isn't. The left and right side bars are fixed widths and the column is allowed to take up all the space between so there is no fixed width.


There is no limit. People view TOD on 2000 pixel widescreens and little smartphones. There really is no way to make it look good for everyone.

Generally, around 500 pixels is good. Resizing the image is better than using the HTML percent or pixel tags.

And please use some self-restraint. Each image you link to slows the page loading, even if it's a very small image (a smiley, say). Images deemed not worth the bandwidth will be removed.

Test image posting using preview. How it looks like in preview is how it will look when you post it. Don't clutter up the thread with test posts.

Test image posting using preview. How it looks like in preview is how it will look when you post it.

Indeed. Kudos to the TOD team for the excellence of the preview facility. There are so many out there that are so bad, I feel obligated to recognize one that is really well done.

2. How do you insert pictures, graphs, etc?

The way to post graphs if you have them in your computer is to post them from Excel, or wherever you have them, to "paint", a Microsoft program that came on your computer. Then save them, in paint, on your hard drive. Then download them to Photobucket.com. You will have to open an account if you don't have one. Then you can just mouse over "HTML code" and copy it. Then post that in your Drumbeat post.

Sometimes you can copy charts from the net, then post them to "Word", then copy them from Word to Paint. However often you cannot copy the picture from the net.

There is another way to copy pictures from the internet but it only works in Internet Explorer and not Firefox. Bring up the article in IE, then click on "view", scroll down anc click on "source". That will bring up the entire HTML source code for that article. Then find the code for the "img" you wish to post. It will start with < img and end with / >. (without the spaces I have inserted of course.) The hard part is finding the correct img you wish to post because there are likely to be several of them. I usually search on the words just before the jpeg and find it that way.

However this does not always work because there are several ways of inserting a picture into an article and this only works if this method is used.

Ron P.

The asumption of submitance to the empire of Microsoft gets tieresome at times.

On Firefox, try selecting a picture (left-click and drag from above it to below it); then right click and select "View Selection Source" from the popup menu. Or make sure nothing is selected; then right click and select "View Page Source" - but that gives you lots more stuff to sort through.

Of course nothing is foolproof - there are plenty of ways to display pictures, and there are ways to at least partially hide where they came from.

Ron- this is great advice. I copied it and NAOM's. I also downloaded a free program called Evrsoft First Page 2006. Apparently you just type and add images to it and it converts everything to HTML.

Hi Ron - Firefox moved the 'view source' link out of the View menu (for some reason) but you can still see source code - it's available under Tools -> Web Developer -> Page Source. So MS doesn't have the monopoly after all.

Web Developer is an Add-On.


You don't need web developer. Just right click directly on the page you are viewing. You can view page source on Firefox that way. For some reason, they removed it from the pulldown menus, but it's still available.

Yep, that's what I usually use. I use WD for digging into details along with Firebug.






Thanks for reading.

And where exactly are all of the demonstrated working Thorium reactors Dr. Thaddeus Venture?

I'm waiting also---
Thorium as a scalable energy source seems to be constant, like the speed of light--
always 10 years away, no matter when viewed from.

What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that most of the thorium literature they quote from are effectively sales-pitches. Not unbiased examinations.

Let's take a look at the much mentioned Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) at Oak Ridge (ORNL).


The reactor facility, called “Ole Salty” by some, was converted to lab and office space as the reactor lay in stand-by status. Then, in March 1994, samples of the off-gases in the process lines unexpectedly revealed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and fluorine, a highly reactive gas. Where surveyors expected to find part-per-million concentrations, they found concentrations of UF6 of up to 8 percent and fluorine of 50 percent.

...“We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

“The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

So 25 years after it was shut down, it almost blew up! And that reactor is somehow often held up as an example of an "inherently safe" design.

Even the name "Thorium" misleads as you can't start a reactor with Thorium. You need typically U-233, U-235 or Pu-239. And you always need many critical masses to start the reactor which then converts Thorium into fissile Uranium-233 over time.

However despite my doubts I'd like to seem some more research. Maybe, just maybe we can do it "safe enough". I don't think we come anywhere near "safe enough" with current reactor designs.

And we must seriously address proliferation concerns. Any marketed design must really make it as hard and time-consuming as possible to obtain weapons usable material in actuality - not just because the sales team says it is "resistant". A few more bomb expert "Red Teams" need to be tasked to look at any proposed designs and any significant worries not ignored, if they cannot be addressed.

@ Undertow,
Thanks for reading, this group The Oil Drum has the smarts to invite something new in with an open mind. The countries mentioned are building the liquid salt bed and are working out the bugs as they go because they know it is feasable.

There is enough thorium in the world to last 400 years or more. That should be enough time to develop the next generation of solar cells from nano technology. They will be cheaper and at least three time as efficient acording to my electronic engineer buddy at the Patent and Trade office. We also will have other technologies on line as well, some we haven't even thought about. Like re-engineering amonia solar absorbers for pure solar AC with no electric etc. The hotter it is out the more heat it absorbs giving the AC.

If we don't blow ourselves up, get the politicians both Rs and Ds and lobbiest's out of the way we can do the right thing. They have been pushing us around and have been selling us a bill of goods for far too long. Check out the book Through Them All Out how they just pass bills and do insider trading to line THEIR own pockets.

They don't care too much about the little people as long as we pay our taxes to them. Also do you think big oil, electric and gas want us to be independant thus cutting into their Lambergeene, Lear Jet and Cigarete boat collection.

Thanks again for reading

They will be cheaper and at least three time as efficient acording to my electronic engineer buddy at the Patent and Trade office.

From wikipedia:
Single p-n junction crystalline silicon devices are now approaching the theoretical limiting power efficiency of 33.7%, noted as the Shockley–Queisser limit in 1961

Thus - somehow cells that are close to the 33% theoretically limit will become 3X better? What kind of magic is going to take a 33% cell and make it 3X better?

I'm still waiting for you, Dr. Thaddeus Venture, to show the demonstrated working Thorium reactor.

eric the new technology (not magic)is callled nano. it will also be replacing the ancient lead acid batteries with also 3x the efficiency.
have you looked at my links regarding thorium. china, brazil,UAE, russia will be showing us a working reactor. be patient

He is probably referring to Photonic Design Principles for Ultrahigh-Efficiency Photovoltaics, Nature Materials, Albert Polman & Harry A. Atwater, v11, p174–177, published online February 21, 2012:

For decades, solar-cell efficiencies have remained below the thermodynamic limits. However, new approaches to light management that systematically minimize thermodynamic losses will enable ultrahigh efficiencies previously considered impossible.

...'cause they are neither necessarily single-junction, crystalline, nor silicon.

Triple+ junctions

"Traditional single-junction cells have a maximum theoretical efficiency of 34%, a theoretical "infinite-junction" cell would improve this to 87% under highly concentrated sunlight."

Highly structured carbon


New ideas present themselves every few days:

I made a 3' diameter mirror in the '70's that would melt a hole through a red-clay flower pot in about a minute. The energy from the sun, being 1kW/sq meter, is quite impressive.

There is enough thorium in the world to last 400 years or more.

Rather 400 million years or more. (Yes, I'm serious.) The world thorium reserve figures you might have read are meaningless, since the price point they use for estimating "economical" thorium reserves are many orders of magnitude lower per Wh than for U-235. Use the same price point and the thorium reserves inflate millionfold.

"Coming soon!" == technocopian


I read most of the info at your links, and I read that there is an engineering challenge to manufacture piping which will not swell and crack under the significant n flux after several years.

Seems like a non-trivial issue.

When is the first commercial prototype Thorium reactor scheduled to start power-producing operations?

The first commercial thorium-fueled reactor in the US was at the Fort St. Vrain power station in Colorado, and ran from 1977 to 1989. It was a high-temperature reactor using helium as the working fluid, and demonstrated at least some of the advantages claimed for thorium and HTGRs: higher thermal efficiency, higher fuel burn-up, and easy load following.

The primary problem with the system was water infiltration into the helium loop and resulting wide-spread corrosion. The blame for this is generally laid on the designers, who used a complex first-of-its-kind water-lubricated circulation pump. Pumps in similar situations today -- where lubricant contamination of the pumped fluid is an issue -- routinely use magnetic bearings that would probably have prevented the water-infiltration problem entirely.

Nuclear operations halted because of the need to undertake a very expensive corrosion repair. Decommissioning and dismantling of the reactor was completed in 1992. Overall, you probably have to say that it was a mixed bag of results. The reactor demonstrated the basic claims for HTGR and thorium. For the operator, it was a headache they eventually shut down because of ongoing problems that couldn't be addressed except at great expense. The root cause of those problems appears to be a single design decision that newer tech has rendered largely moot.

And although the reactor was shut down almost a quarter of a century ago, virtually all of the fuel (which isn't even remotely "spent") is still stored onsite inside the reactor building. It really was just a Gas Cooled U-235 graphite-moderated reactor with the gimmick of throwing in some Thorium instead of U238.

Post Chernobyl, Fort St. Vrain came under NRC scrutiny. It was conveniently closed just before its dirty laundry could be aired in public.

Resolution of Generic Safety Issues: Task CH6: Graphite-Moderated Reactors ( NUREG-0933, Main Report with Supplements 1–34 )

The only features that the 330 MWe Fort St. Vrain reactor, the MHTGR, and the Chernobyl design have in common are the use of a graphite moderator and gravity-driven control rods. A limited Fort St. Vrain PRA and further experiments with structural graphite were considered before the Chernobyl accident. While the Chernobyl events supported the need for such work, the imminent termination of the operation of Fort St. Vrain removed that need

Thanks for the info...I still am looking for the announced, credible date for the first commercial prototype LFTR.

As for Helium...it has great properties as a working fluid to transfer heat energy....but known series supply limits preclude its large-scale use...in nuclear reactors by the hundreds or thousands, same with lighter-than-air airships as well.

LFTRs seem in the realm of the feasible...but who is going to take the risks to research and build demonstrations of commercial-ready designs, and by when?

Peak oil == peak Helium.


Denninger suggested that what needs to be done to get things moving is for the NRC to be stripped of all regulatory powers and anyone with the money allowed unhindered access to nuclear fuel of any type they want to start up their own design of reactors with no questions asked and no external design reviews. A big cash prize would be awarded once certain conditions he defined as "success" were reached.

When people pointed out that effectively would allow anyone to just build a bomb with no oversight (and all the other obvious issues), he predictably banned them from his forum.

I think Denninger knew he was being nuts with that suggestion but that's Denninger.

Denninger is an irresponsible clown, and I don't understand why anyone gives him the time of day.

LFTRs seem in the realm of the feasible...but who is going to take the risks to research and build demonstrations of commercial-ready designs, and by when?

I understand the Chinese are planning to build at least one. Maybe we can learn from that, if they actually do it.

Learn from that? Try "pay the Chinese a cent for every kWh produced". (It would be a bargain, really. Just $40 billion/year.)

Can't disagree with you about most any of the Fort St. Vrain problems. The established problems were primarily corrosion due to water infiltration; others, like graphite as a structural component, might have emerged if operation had continued. And yep, the spent fuel is stored on site in dry casks. At least the spent fuel pool is gone. Still, the point is that a commercial thorium-fueled reactor using the readily-available technology of the day has been tried.

Describing it as a U235 reactor with Th232 instead of U238 seems a little dishonest -- all thorium reactors require some fissile material to get started, and the Fort St. Vrain fuel blocks included a little over 4% U235. Suitable amounts of U233 or Pu239 would have also worked, but were not readily available at the time. Given the fuel burn-up rates that were achieved, it seems clear that the Th232-U233 breed-and-burn part of the fuel cycle was more efficient than U238-Pu239.

I live in the Western Interconnect part of the US, where nuclear is a much smaller part of the mix than for the Eastern, and where there are relatively rich renewables. I think we're in better shape than the Eastern, where nuclear is a much bigger deal (in both a relative and an absolute sense) and the alternatives are scarcer. I don't see how the Eastern maintains reliable electricity supplies without a very heavy dose of austerity and nuclear. The Western, not nearly so much. This will be a serious point of contention at some point in the future.

A very heavy dose indeed.

Compromises will have to be made. It's just a matter of which ones are acceptable.

Even while Nuclear is still in the mix, I'm hopeful that prices and consumer activism will help motivate the vast stretches of suburbs throughout the East learn to use a lot less power.

Proper Building Insulation and storage of off-peak power can bring us a couple good bumps in the right direction.. other changes will be harder or more expensive.

Describing it as a U235 reactor with Th232 instead of U238 seems a little dishonest -- all thorium reactors require some fissile material to get started,

Do you have any info on, over its operating period, what percentage of power was generated by U-235 fission compared to U-233 (from Thorium) fission? I couldn't find much info on the fuel evolution during its lifetime. However I'm assuming that the vast majority of the power it ever produced came from U-235. Yes the percentage generated from U-233 would slowly increase from zero during the burn (just as bred Pu-239 fission increases in time in other more common reactors) but what limits were there on the burn in practical operation? What was the maximum percentage power output it ever achieved due to U-233 at any time?

If it was ever fissioning a really significant proportion of Thorium-derived U-233 I would have thought it would be more easy to find this information as the operators would have boasted about it.

I note that currently 405 Kg of Highly Enriched Wespons Grade U-235 (HEU) is listed as stored at Fort St.Vrain. I can't find the amount of U-233 estimated onsite.

I've tried to track down a source for the very high 170 GWd/t burn figure quoted in some places. However this appears to be a maximum theoretical figure. The only analysis I can find of actual spent fuel from Fort St. Vrain gives the spent fuel burn at 32.6 GWd/t. A long way short of the claimed 170. At this point much of the energy from that particular fuel rod would be coming from U-233. However as apparently fresh fuel was cycled in with irradiated fuel at refuelling intervals then I'm still thinking that the reactor as a whole was always principally burning U-235 and wasn't performing appreciably better than a PWR/BWR - at least if that 32.6 GW d/t spent fuel sample was typical. And it is difficult to see why they would use an untypical sample without saying so.

Spent fuel analysis at

The discharged isotopic content of the standard assembly 1-1773 is given in Table V [25]
after 32601.5 MWd/t of irradiation. The studied assembly was localized in the middle of the
active core. No information is available on the reactor power temperature history, and very little
on the particle size distribution and the graphite impurities.

Still, I would be interested in more detail on spent fuel but it is definitely apparent that there is more U-235 than U-233 on site today.

Please do not shout, thanks.


Peak oil == peak Helium.

Helium has the advantage that it is well understood, has a low neutron cross section, and chemically inert, however a number of other gasses would have economic, and manufacturing advantages. Super critical CO2 as an example would make a turbine system less than one tenth the size, and cost of steam turbines used today. This is due to the high density of CO2 compared to Helium, or steam. It can be used partly because in LFTR turbine working fluid does not need to pass through the core, unlike the Pebble bed, or other HTGRs.

venture291, Im on your side, but we mustn’t make statements that are not strictly true unless you qualify them.


In solid fuel reactors Thorium can melt just like Uranium, and in LFTRs it must melt to be useful. It is the reactor design not the fuel that makes it a problem.


An analogy: You could take a cruise ship, and fill all of the cabins with explosives then steam it into a port, and blow the port up, but why when you could load a bulk carrier with explosives labeled as “rock salt”, and steam that into the port. With enough time, and new engineering you could make a bomb with a LFTR plant, but there are several other way much faster, and simpler.

While Helium certainly does have technical advantages it is sourced from the oil fields. As oil depletes so will Helium supply. Why design reactors for post peak oil that rely on an oil product?


I agree NAOM. Today Helium would not be the preferred medium for a nuclear gas turbine system.
As an aside the Aircraft Reactor Experiment back in the 1950s used a liquid fuel reactor to run two slightly modified jet engines running an open loop air cycle. For minimum development cost a LFTR plant could be the heat source for a combined cycle power plant using most of the off the shelf parts available today.

The EIA says non-OPEC oil production off 1 million barrels per day in February.

Obama concerned about global oil output

Last week a U.S. Energy Information Administration report on sanctions on Iran said outages in Yemen, Syria and the North Sea have tightened oil markets over the last two months.

On Tuesday, the agency said several outages in countries that are not members of OPEC have intensified over the last two months, leading to an average of about 1 million barrels per day off-line in February.

Ron P.

"We are concerned about what's happening in terms of production around the world; it's not just what's happening in the Gulf," Obama said at a White House news conference.

Put all your eggs in someone else's basket and look what happens. It's not just the Gulf!! We're doomed.

Put all your eggs in someone else's basket and look what happens.

You think Obama is putting all our eggs in someone else's basket? Crude oil production is up 700 thousand barrels per day since Obama took office. Of course that was not his handiwork but it is just wrong to say that he is depending entirely on someone else's basket when domestic production has increased and imports have decreased under his administration.

All Obama is saying is that that world production of oil is tight and that is to blame for high gasoline prices, not domestic production. And that is exactly what most of us here on The Oil Drum have been saying all along.

But some people just want to blame everything on Obama. That is just in the nature of those who want to blame the current administration for all the nations problems.

Ron P.

Well put Ron. That basket isn't ours in the first place. It belongs to those folks who have "our oil" under their ground. LOL. Our country is just lucky that we can still outbid most of the other shoppers in the store...so far. It always amazes me how folks can assign so much enfluence to one man or one party. Certainly some minor effects around the edges. But as you have shown so well so many times there is a distribution of resources out there and no power in the universe can change what Mother Earth has to offer.


Perhaps I was not clear in my statement. I am not blaming Obama for anything relating to our current oil production. My statement applies to decades of dependence on foreign countries for a supply of energy that is finite. Being "concerned about production" now is a good 20 years late to the party. Hubbert saw this coming 50 years ago yet we kept our eggs in everyone else's basket. Had we started a transition in the 60's we would be in a very different place now.

In no way do I blame the current President for his attention to production. It takes many years to bring new production online. His role in just 3 years is minor and perhaps irrelevant in the scheme of things. My comment was intended to be a general statement of fact that we had every opportunity to avoid our current situation by switching to higher fuel efficiency standards 40 years ago! Instead, knowing full well that oil is a finite resource we built out the largest highway system in the world.

"Concerned about production" has been a standard topic on this board for years. Jimmy Carter was concerned about future production. Speaking up now is just a tad late in my mind. And that was my point.

Sorry if I misunderstood you Tasstl but you do need to be a little clearer as to who you are criticizing in your posts.

That being said, the big news, at least as I saw it, was that the EIA now saying non-OPEC production was down 1 million barrels per day in February. And that was the only part of the article that I cut and pasted. I think 2012, because of the decline in non-OPEC production and OPEC not answering the call to produce more oil, that this will be the year peak oil silences the critics. The "peak Oil is Dead" crowd will now be laughed off the front pages of the internet and put into the closet where they belong.

Of course they will still be spouting their nonsense but no longer will they have any creditability.

Ron P.

I didn't mean to criticize anyone. Instead of being "concerned" we need to be "scared to all hell and back"!! It's too damn late to be "concerned". Perhaps that would've made for a clearer statement...

Thanks for your comments.

Globalization wins over isolation in this skirmish. As per Ron's link above, it looks like internal state conflicts are winning the war against globalization, though.

Interesting that China, who has reduced rare earth exports, was able to convince India to unblock their exports (although the Indian farmers may have more to do with this than the Chinese).

India Decides to End Cotton-Export Ban After Protests From Growers, China

“Keeping in view the interests of the farmers, industry, trade, a balance view has been considered by the Group of Ministers to roll back the ban,” Trade Minister Anand Sharma said in an e-mailed statement today.

The ministry will publish details for repealing its March 5 ban tomorrow, Sharma said. India banned shipments to secure domestic supplies after sales exceeded the government’s estimate of exportable surplus. Resumption of exports may add to global supplies and pressure futures, which have fallen 55 percent in New York in the past year.

This on rare earths today :-

U.S., EU file trade case against China over rare earths

"(CNN) -- The United States, the European Union and Japan filed a trade case Tuesday over China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial for the production of many high-tech devices, according to EU and U.S. officials.

The case aims to pressure China to lift export limits on certain minerals known as rare earths, a senior Obama administration official said."

Canadian Renewable Energy Makes Big Splash in U.S.

With more hydropower than it can use, Canada sells cheap, clean power to U.S. utilities and has been doing so for years. Now, large transmission projects across the Northeast and Midwest will mean more hydro will be used to meet utilities needs.

The debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline has overshadowed news that a different sort of Canadian energy, hydropower, is poised has to take a much bigger role in the East Coast and Midwest markets.

How big you ask?

Major proposals totalling billions of dollars in New Hampshire and New York to bring collectively more than 2,000 megawatts directly from Hydro-Quebec are moving through the approval pipeline.

Moving west, Minnesota Power received state approval in January to buy 250 MW from Manitoba Hydro for 15 years starting in 2020, a plan requiring a major power line upgrade from Winnipeg to Duluth. Manitoba Hydro also reached agreements recently with two more Wisconsin and Minnesota energy utilities.

See: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/03/canadian-re...

If all goes to plan, by 2017, Newfoundland and Labrador's Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development will supply that province and our own with 864 MW of new renewable energy. And with the implementation of Phase II, Gull Island, the combined total climbs to 3,100 MW (as I type this, provincial demand in Nova Scotia and exports to neighbouring New Brunswick is less than 1,350 MW).

It will be wind power and hydroelectricity, not natural gas, that will ultimately displace residential fuel oil demand here in Atlantic Canada.


Now all you have to do get people to install ground source or air source heat pumps like they do in Scandinavia.

Ground source heat pumps are a bit of a tough sell in these parts because we're largely built atop solid bedrock. However, as I like to point out, high efficiency air source heat pumps are excellent performers.

For the period spanning October 1st through to today, our space heating related usage comes to just under 3,200 kWh -- the energy equivalent of 365 litres/96 US gallons of fuel oil at 82 per cent AFUE.

Our seasonal COP is currently 2.5, but we should finish the year somewhere around 2.7 now that the coldest weather is behind us, e.g., our low last night was -8°C. The good news is that the technology keeps getting better and better; an ultra high efficiency ASHP such as Fujitsu's 12RLS2 or Carrier's Greenspeed uses approximately 30 per cent less energy than our two Sanyos (13 HSPF versus 9.3), so the 3,200 kWh that we've consumed to date would theoretically fall to less than 2,300 kWh. Five to ten years from now? Who knows?


I live in northwest Kansas. My HVAC is about 30 years old and close to shot (60% furnace, 7 SEER AC). The furnace output is 61,000 BTU. The gas tank water heater also needs replaced. I'm seriously considering a Carrier Greenspeed system and the installation of a heat pump water heater.

All ductwork is inside and is in good working order. Electricity is 9.8 cents/kwh. Gas is 61 cents per therm.

The customer charge for gas is $13.00 per month, which would be eliminated going all electric.

The breakdown of the southwest power pool's electric supply in real time is available here:

Wind is typically between 5 and 15% of the mixture. Currently, a 1000 mw nuke plant is offline. Two large new windfarms are under construction in Kansas at this moment, so that part of the generation should grow.

I just had an energy audit done on the house. So, the "efficiency first" things will be done. There are days when the temperature never reaches 10F (though these are seldom). The USDA puts the minimum temp at about -10F.

I've appreciated your input on other's situations and envy the line of work you are in.

What are your thoughts?

A tough one for me to call without knowing all of the facts, but I can offer a few general comments which I hope may be helpful.

First of all, I'm pleased to hear that you've had an energy audit performed on your home and that energy efficiency is the first order of business; that's the smart way to go without a doubt. Secondly, as you work to reduce your heating and cooling requirements, any difference in the operating costs of one system versus another diminish in importance; as you continue to tighten up your home's thermal envelope, the installed cost your new system looms larger in the overall mix. Also, keep in mind any secondary costs you may incur by switching away from gas such as having to upgrade your main service, replacement of your kitchen range or tumble dryer, or the loss of an alternate heat source in the event of an extended power cut.

I'm guessing that your cooling requirements are as more or less on par with that of your heating. The Greenspeed system with a SEER of 20 is three times more efficient than your current hardware and twice as efficient as most systems sold as recently as six years ago. And being an inverter drive, it offers far superior dehumidification performance although I imagine that's less of a concern given your local climate.

With respect to heating, it's tough for any heat pump to compete with natural gas priced at the equivalent of 2.3-cents per kWh (92 per cent AFUE). With a HSPF of 13 and electricity priced at 9.8-cents per kWh, your average cost per kWh of heat is closer to 2.6-cents. However, eliminating the $13.00 a month account charge gives you an extra 1,592 kWh a year to play with, which works out to be just over 6,000 kWh of delivered heat or the equivalent of 225 therms of natural gas at current rates.

The situation with regards to water heating is a bit more challenging. A power vented natural gas water heater will have an EF of 0.65 or thereabouts, so at 61-cents a therm 1,000 litres of domestic hot water at a 40°C temperature rise runs you about $1.50. Assuming the HPWH has an EF of 2.1, the cost in this case is closer to $2.20 (for our admittedly water frugal two-person household, 1,000 litres of DHW is about one months' worth of supply).

It's hard to say what it will cost to heat our homes five or ten years from now and whether the competitive position of these two fuels will shift materially. It's pretty much a crap shoot. I prefer cooking with induction much more so than gas, so that removes this from the equation and a HPWH would help dehumidify our basement which is a nice added bonus given that our dehumidifier is one of our single largest power draws (and the one I happen to resent the most). I also like the fact that I can purchase 100 per cent renewable energy if I so choose and, in fact, all of the electricity that we use is wind and low-impact hydro sourced through Bullfrog Power. And, for us, the economics clearly favour electricity over gas, and so the Greenspeed would definitely have the leg up.

Good luck with your analysis and I trust you'll be happy with whatever system you choose.



Thanks for the reply. Ultimately, the financial aspects will bear a lot of weight. In theory, I should be able to buy a very high quality, efficient heat pump system for the price of a good quality a/c and natural gas heater. The local contractors and their prices will ultimately determine if this is possible.

My utility is Midwest Energy. For a smallish cooperative, they are fairly innovative. Here is information on their energy auditing programs.

Hot water heat is minimized through the use of a 1.1 gpm shower and he washing machine. I'm almost of the mindset that current hot water tank sizing is too big, given modern efficiencies.

One more aspect that will be interesting to watch out here is solar power development. We have a very, very good resource. My own house has too many trees for rooftop solar to be effective (and there is no way I'm cutting them down).

You're welcome. The reputation of your local Carrier dealership is another consideration and their experience working with these more advanced systems. I don't know if there are any federal, state or utility rebates available to you but that's something else you'll want to investigate as well.

Our DHW usage whilst low compared to other households is probably double what it would be if we had a more conventional set-up. In our case, we have a small 1.38 kW electric tank that pre-heats the water supplied to the indirect water heater attached to our boiler. Originally, the plan was to simply offset a portion of our fuel oil needs with electricity and it did this quite well (whereas, previously, the boiler would fire-up two to three times a day to keep the side arm at its set point it would now cycle on once and sometimes twice a day). Then we thought, well, this is kinda silly, let's turn off the boiler and stop using oil altogether. Of course, we're faced with the standby losses of the electric tank and this second much larger cylinder. Consequently, we have to pull a minimum amount of hot water through this second tank everyday to prevent it from turning cold and crank the electric tank to 80°C to get the feed as hot as possible; if we don't both shower daily, wash our clothes in hot water and occasionally open the tap for no good reason then we're looking at a fairly rapid fall-off in temperature.

We could bypass this second tank but I don't want to do this for a couple of reasons: one, if we have overnight guests we'll undoubtedly require the boiler to help satisfy these additional draws. Secondly, if we lose power we can run the boiler off the generator which will supply us with all the hot water we'd ever need until service is restored. Lastly, I don't want to drain this second cylinder or let the water sit there for months on end for obvious reasons. Thus, we make do with what we have and accept that there will be trade-offs.


Super, looking at the energy tariff for Midwest Energy, there is also a "residential demand" tariff you could choose.
Depending on whether you are in the M or W system (is that "mid" and "west"?), your per kWh rate is then either 4.4c or 6.5c. At these rates, your heat pump heating and hot water are significantly cheaper than gas, and even using resistance electric for the HW would not be that bad, if you are not using too much. Get yourself some 1.5 gpm venturi showerheads, a an Energy star dishwasher and front loading washing machine and your hot water use will go down by at least a third - the energy audit should show this up.

There is a per kW demand charge, but when you are using more Wh per month for electric heat, the impact of this, per kWh, is minimised. It is also based on the higher of your summer or winter demand, so if you use more in summer already then it may not make any difference. You could do some "demand management", to avoid coincidental use of the heat pump and hot water units(or even the electric range), but I doubt it would really be worth the trouble.

Demand rates favour those that use more kWh's relative to their kW - if you go to all heat pump heating you are squarely in that territory, so I suggest taking advantage of these rates.

Manitoba is keen on selling hydroelectricity from its northern rivers to adjacent US states (or anybody else that wants to buy it). However, Manitoba is a long, long way from Eastern Canada.

The reason I have been repeatedly mentioning natural gas is that I have been looking at the geological maps. Why would the Maritime provinces want to import oil or electricity from hundreds or thousands of miles away, when there are huge reserves of natural gas in shallow waters close in offshore? Why would they want to sell NG to New York and New England at current fire-sale prices when they are short of energy resources themselves?

It just something that bothers me. Maybe importing electricity or using wind power is economically more efficient, but the cost looks iffy.

Manitoba is keen on selling hydroelectricity from its northern rivers to adjacent US states (or anybody else that wants to buy it). However, Manitoba is a long, long way from Eastern Canada.

I don't follow you. Why would we import hydroelectricity all the way from Manitoba when we can produce more than enough to meet our own needs right here in Atlantic Canada? Secondly, why should we burn hydrocarbons when we can utilize renewable sources such as wind and hydro which can do the job cheaper?


I mentioned Manitoba because your original post mentioned Manitoba selling power to Minnesota and nearby states, and a relative of mine works for Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba has a lot of cheap hydro that could be developed - more than it needs. It might be relevant to Ontario because Ontario is the next province to the east of it and is short of power. Other than that, it has no relevance to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia has nowhere near the hydro power that Manitoba has (I was comparing them since their populations are similar), and NS wind power potential is not exactly stellar, either. However NS does have huge offshore natural gas reserves, and I thought that fact, and the fact it is not using them, was relevant to the discussion.

I agree that Nova Scotia is a long way from Manitoba which is why Manitoba exports are irrelevant with respect to our needs.

Nova Scotia has limited hydroelectric potential but Newfoundland and Labrador has plenty and is happy to share it with us through joint development. And when you say our "wind power potential is not exactly stellar", how do our annual capacity factors which vary by region from 31 to 44 per cent compare to those of the rest of Canada?


Manitoba looks pretty well positioned to use hydro to smooth wind output in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa given enough transmission and some export from those areas to U.S. load centers farther East.

Some significant hydro imports from Canada and additional north to south transmission would be welcomed by this California utility engineer. I was shocked to find that BC was a net importer from the States. Prices in New England and New York are out of sight, and most of their generation fleet is ancient (old oil burners running on gas), some reasonably priced Quebec Hydro power is just what they need (I wonder how long it will take to build the transmission).

BC hasn't been building enough generating capacity to keep up with demand in recent years.

Most of the undeveloped hydro sites are in the far north, and most of the population is in the far south of the province. Adding new hydro at the northern sites is very expensive compared to what it cost to develop the older, more southerly locations.

In the past, BC has actually lost money building dams to generate electricity for the US market, so they tend not to be very enthusiastic about it these days.

I'd say that it was another sign, that TOD folks discuss often, and not laziness.

The Go-Nowhere Generation

With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes.

The Go-Nowhere Generation

Yes, it's quite a different world than when I grew up. At 12 we'd be driving a grain truck (we didn't need a license down on the farm). At 14 we'd drive to the nearest town and get our learner's permit. When we were 16 we'd drive down and get our license. ("Who was with you when you drove you here?" "Oh, it was my Dad. He's waiting in the bar down the street. He's a bit of a boozer, you know. I told him I'd drive him home after I got my license.")

My brother got his commercial license at 17, which I think was the minimum age back then. That allowed him to drive the gasoline tanker truck from the local fuel depot and do commercial fuel deliveries to the local farms (on summer vacation while more affluent kids went to camp).

I was less ambitious so I was 19 before I got my commercial driving license, and shortly thereafter I went to University, so it didn't make much difference.

Myself and most of my siblings paid our dues when we were young, working in places where there were more bears than people. Once you get a few years experience you can start to dictate where you want to work, but when you are young you have to work where the jobs are.

I was driving girl scouts and their supplies around Amarillo in a 1941 Ford Station Wagon (a classic woodie) when I was 15 and one half.

Isn't it telling that this article says many of the signs of growing up, adulthood and independence are driving vehicles. Doesn't that go to show just how totally American society has structured itself around universal car ownership.

My impression of the go nowhere generation when talking to them is a lack of excitement for whatever they may be pursuing, which usually isn't much. Most seem numb, like they are already bored with whatever this world has to offer. If someone is young and bored then what will life be like for them in middle age, presuming some assemblence of life in a post peak oil (net energy declining) world? Will their kids be even more bored, or will they progenate a new generation that finds reason to get charged up about something in rebellion of their bored parents? I also wonder if they sense this paradigm is in the process of shutting down, so why bother getting too revved up until a new paradigm is in place. In a sense, a feeling of being defeated before getting started.

Regarding beeing bored, there is not surprice. We have already seen the entire world, and not even left our homes yet.

All cities looks the same, so see one metropolis, and you have seen them all.

All cool places have already been the scene of a James Bond or Mission Impossible plot, so we have already seen them from all angels helocopter style.

Internet lets us know everything the moment they happen.

We know for the above mentioned reason everything that goes on among our friends without seeing them, so we don't even need to meet them any longer.

If just food came out of a tube in the wall like water does, we would not need to leve our homes at all.

The author seems to be pining for times gone by...he talks about all the young people who signed up to go fight the Germans and in two World Wars and also the Japanese in WWII.

I guess the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not grand enough...did not motivate at least several million young folks to 'sign up' and go see the World!

Maybe he and his co-author think we should engage in some kind of conventional WWIII to get our young'uns moving....

That was just bizarre...the funny part was his citation of how 'the Lost Generation' "followed Hemingway to Paris". Really? What percentage of the population did that?

He hand-waves away the increased costs of fuel, and claims that buying a car takes less weeks of income than it did in 1980...no mention of insurance and maintenance costs and license and registration costs, those trivial little things...especially when shuffling from state to sate.

I love his lament that loads of young folks can spend $200 to take a Greyhound from Nevada to North Dakota, the land of milk and honey.

Maybe more young people than he imagines understand the historical phenomena of boom-towns turning into bust-towns, and they don't care to chase the ephemeral mirages of good times hither and yon.

Another facile prescription for complex, interdependent, systemic, and possibly intractable problems...realistically, dilemmas.

"It is understandable that young people would see luck as the main determinant of outcomes, since it clearly is not qualifications. Anyone want to argue that the people who sent the economy into the toilet were the most talented folks available for the job?"


For dean Baker's take.

For my father's generation, WWII was their way up and out of the Depression. Join the army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and shoot them. As he said, "It was just a job. It was their job to shoot me, and it was my job to shoot them. There was nothing personal about it." However, for the most part he repaired tanks and army trucks, and that was enough to get him a lot of good jobs after the war was over. Some of the people he met from the Ozarks had never owned a pair of shoes before they joined the army, and for them the army was really their ticket out of poverty.

For my generation, a university degree was our ticket up and out. We saw no future in working in a garage in a small town, so we all got our grade 12 and left our home town at 19.

My father only had a grade 8 education, so it came as a total shock to him when 3 of his 4 kids got university degrees. He was somewhat unclear on how the system is supposed to work. I remember one of his friends asking him, "How can you afford to have three kids in university at the same time?" He looked blank and said, "Well, it's cheaper than having them at home." We were all more ambitious than him.

We all "paid our dues" as I am fond of saying. I collected a lot of garbage and dug a lot of graves because, frankly, garbage collecting and grave digging paid really well by university student standards, and the jobs are really easy to get because nobody wants to do them. After we graduated, we all spent a lot of time working in places with more grizzly bears than people, because that was where the best-paying jobs were.

As for the modern generation of kids, they seem to want things handed to them on a silver platter, and that usually doesn't happen in the real world. In reality, if they can't get a job where they are, they would be better off if they just jumped on the Greyhound to North Dakota and saw what jobs were available there. If the boom turned to bust, they could just go somewhere else where there were jobs. When you're young, it's not hard to keep moving.

One of my high school buddies went to New Zealand on a "temporary assignment" after he graduated. He planned to come back after the job was over. Now that he has grandkids that were born in New Zealand, it looks a lot less temporary.

Rocky - I'll avoid making generalizations about the young today since there are always exceptions to be noted. So I'll use a very specific example...my 11 yo daughter. We adopted her in China in 2000. Being my first and only child obviously I spoiled her rotten. But at the same time strove to instill ambition in her as well as some reasonable expectation of how the world works. She never lacked for what she needed but also got much of what she wanted. But always with the understanding that she had a price to pay. Like all young girls she loved horses. So she got one. But the trade off: she got up every morning, even before school, and took care of her horse and all the rest of the stock. She's been doing this since she was 6 yo. Today she is a sports fanatic: football, basketball and especially baseball. I cover all the expenses but the trade off: she makes straight A's or no more sports. She makes straight A's. A couple of years ago she declared she wanted to go to Texas A&M and become a vet. Of course, daddy said yes. The trade off: she had to qualify for the gifted student program in her school and make straight A's. She did. And she'll have to start working with the local vet when she begins high school. She knows daddy is expecting her to earn scholarships.

As proud as I am of how she's responded to the situation it also shows some of the potential downside of the approach. Like nearly all parents I didn't want her to do without anything. Thus we all tend to give them more than we had growing up. No one cared that I was as dumb as a rock growing up. One reason why I couldn't recite the alphabet all the way when I started high school. That and the crappy education system in New Orleans. We want life to be easier for them...protect them from the harshness life can occasionally throw at them. And there's the potential problem: they may not be ready for the real world. Not likely anyone is going to give them an IPad when they're 24 yo just because they ask. No one is going to buy feed for their horse just because it's hungry. I'm sure everyone gets the point: how do you give your children a comfortable life without letting them think this is how the rest of the world will treat them in adulthood? So far I've been very lucky that she's been able to understand cause/effect in her young life so far. But I'm very motivated to build that sense of self reliance in her. Given that I'll be 61 yo next month and her youngest living relative is 3 years younger than me, she'll spend most of her adult life without any immediate family safety net. Younger parents may assume they'll be able to ease their kids into life realities as they slide into adulthood. I couldn't take that chance. Today I'm doing fine. But maybe one day my MS will kick in and rot away enough of my gray matter to reduce my intelligence to that of an average Canadian or west Texas geologist. What good would I be to her then, I ask you? LOL.

Well, but if not a sign of laziness, then of what?

On the face of it, the article seems to paint them as a lazy generation content to loaf their lives away with an electronic "device" on Mom-&-Dad's couch rather than actually attempt to live. Maybe too, once they've seen the lights of the Las Vegas valley, where most Nevadans live (or Reno, where nearly all of the rest live), the $200 Greyhound ticket to North Dakota promises them nothing they want, but only unrelieved boredom and isolation? Surely the "device" taught them that much. Maybe, too, in this day and age, they just feel entitled never to "pay their dues", as the expression used by RockyMtnGuy puts it? After all, in the USA, this is the grand age of lackadaisical attitudes of the sort that have fueled "social promotion" and many other such workarounds for sloth.

Nor, with respect to what "TOD folks discuss often", does it appear they're influenced by such ideas from any of the many (and sometimes incompatible) points of view, so that's confusing too. It doesn't seem like they're preparing themselves for anything at all, not even business-as-usual. It looks more like, simply, pure lethargy. How did the old (and much riffed-upon) Peter Pan ditty go? "I don’t wanna grow up; I don’t wanna go to school..."

My thoughts focused on this, and felt I could relate to it as well:

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse

Questions linger in US on high-tech voting

... Last year, Microsoft Research published a paper describing vulnerabilities to what had been described as "fully verifiable" direct recording electronic (DRE) systems in which a hacker can "undetectably alter large numbers of votes."

Separately, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory described a way to tamper with certain electronic voting machines by inserting a $10 component along with a $15 radio frequency device to alter vote results.

... Other countries have faced similar issues. The Netherlands scrapped electronic voting several years ago after a high-profile hacking incident. Ireland also abandoned the use of Dutch-made voting machines. Controversies have arisen over security of voting machines in India and several other countries.

Scantron plus #2 pencil. Cheaper, unhackable as an outsider, and verifiable. There are only two reasons I can think of why we are even having this conversation: 1)Corrupt politicians want to give money to corporate donors to provide an inferior, more complicated system, and/or 2)Corrupt politicians want to allow/perform unverifiable vote fraud.

US military unveils non-lethal heat ray weapon

Two styles of US Marine Corps trucks are seen carrying the Active Denial System, March 9th, 2012, at the US Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The non-lethal weapon projects a strong electromagnetic beam up to 1000-meters (0.6 miles). The beam creates heat so uncomfortable the natural response is to flee

... "We have done over 11,000 exposures on people. In that time we've only had two injuries that required medical attention and in both cases injuries were fully recovered without complications," she said.

... The frequency of the blast makes all the difference for actual injury as opposed to extreme discomfort, stressed Stephanie Miller, who measured the system's radio frequency bioeffects at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Study: Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming

The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought. The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, shows a new study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Today, already 0.8 degrees global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several meters and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people.

In a business-as-usual scenario of greenhouse-gas emissions, in the long run humanity might be aiming at 8 degrees Celsius of global warming. This would result in one fifth of the ice sheet melting within 500 years and a complete loss in 2000 years, according to the study.

"Our study shows that under certain conditions the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible. This supports the notion that the ice sheet is a tipping element in the Earth system,"

I'm a bit confused. The range of temps given for the melting of Greenland is .8-3.2C, with .8 having already occurred since the beginning of the Ind. Revolution, with 1.6C given as the best estimate.

But then it says in a BAU GHG long run with a full 8C of GW, it would take 500 years for 1/5th of Greenland's ice to melt and 2000 years for it to all melt.

How do they go from probably only needing .8C increased temp. to needing 8C and 500 years to melt 1/5th? Either I'm missing something or the math is very suspect. I often wonder if these type of reports are intended to minimize our concern of GW due to the long time intervals suggested. If so, they should do a better job with their math. I doubt very much that a full 8C warming will require 500 years to only melt 1/5th of Greenland. Do they know how much 8C is? People probably would not be able to live at the mid-lattitudes. All the CO2 and methane in the Arctic circle would release in a runaway GW scenario that would blow the Greenland ice sheet apart like a firecracker going off inside an olive.

The .8 to 3.2 C range is the threshold for the Greenland ice sheet to completely melt over a very long period. The higher the temperature increases above the threshold, the faster it will melt.

Good point.

And the melting starts out very slowly and gradually increases. Almost all of the projected one-to-two meter rise predicted during this century will happen in the second half of the century. I consider these conservative estimates, but we won't see changes over a few inches for the next couple decades no matter what, as I understand it.

More "active" weather :-

Rains soak, flood southern Louisiana

"CNN) -- Record floodwaters inundated parts of southern Louisiana early Tuesday after intense rains caused flash flooding and prompted hundreds of rescues.

Estimates by the National Weather Service put total rainfall at 12 to 18 inches across the region, with possible amounts of 20 or more inches in some areas. A flood warning has been issued until late Tuesday."