Drumbeat: March 26, 2012

Premium octane

While the price of oil is rising, demand for the physical commodity is in retreat. Problems with Iran are only part of the story as a geopolitical risk premium is built into futures contracts, inflicting higher fuel costs on consumers.

Oil Falls, Extending Two-Week Drop on Europe Debt, China

Oil rose, recovering earlier losses, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said accommodative policy is needed to lower unemployment.

West Texas Intermediate futures advanced as much as 0.4 percent, having earlier declined by 0.6 percent. The dollar weakened after Bernanke’s comments, made in a speech today in Arlington, Virginia, making commodities more attractive for protecting against inflation. The decline in U.S. unemployment to 8.3 percent may reflect “a reversal of the unusually large layoffs that occurred during late 2008 and over 2009,” the Fed chairman said.

Oil prices rattle but need not ruin recovery

As a major oil exporter, the GCC stands to benefit from price rises while other economies feel pain. But these increases do not hurt to the same degree in all places.

Cushing, OK stores more than $4.1 billion in oil

CUSHING — When the oil industry busted in the 1980s it looked like Cushing might dry up as well.

“I guess I don't have a good outlook, but I really didn't think Cushing would recover from the last bust,” said Ruth Ann Johnson, 73, a local historian who served as a librarian at the Cushing Public Library for 50 years. “I thought we were in a slump and nothing would bring us out of it.”

Today, however, Cushing's economy is thriving.

National Fuel Gas Cuts Full-Year Production Forecast On Price Slump

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES - National Fuel Gas Co. again cut its production guidance for its current fiscal year, pointing to a significant decline in natural gas prices and lower-than-expected production in the busy Marcellus Shale region.

IEA has mixed view of Indian energy mix

NEW DELHI (UPI) -- With electricity demand in India on pace to triple by 2035, natural gas can provide a secure energy future, the executive director of the IEA said.

Ofgem gets tough on gas suppliers to fight theft

(Reuters) - Energy regulator Ofgem wants gas suppliers to pay money into an industry-wide pot to cover the cost of fighting gas theft, a problem that has cost consumers 138 million pounds per year since 2009, the watchdog said on Monday.

Sinopec to Boost Oil, Gas Output to Counter Refining Losses

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, will ramp up crude production and develop natural gas fields to counter losses from selling diesel and gasoline at state-mandated prices.

Sinopec, as China Petroleum is known, plans to boost oil production in West China and increase exploration for unconventional resources including gas from shale formations, the Beijing-based company said yesterday as fourth-quarter profit dropped 23 percent, missing estimates.

Kenya discovers oil, to check commercial viability

(Reuters) - Kenya announced on Monday its first oil discovery, saying it was found in the northern part of the country where British Tullow Oil Plc has been conducting exploratory drilling.

The announcement sent the company's shares higher.

Kenya and its neighbours in east Africa have become an international hot spot for oil and gas exploration after commercial oil deposits were found in Uganda and natural gas in Tanzania and Mozambique.

Shell scrambles to pay $1-billion bill for Iran oil

LONDON — Royal Dutch Shell is struggling to pay off $1 billion that it owes Iran for crude oil because European Union and U.S. financial sanctions now make it almost impossible to process payments, industry sources said.

Ahmadinejad Gets Blame and Sanctions as Economy Sputters

Mehdi slams a bottle of Heinz ketchup on the counter of his Tehran grocery store and says it’s the kind of item Iranians have stopped buying, after the price doubled in two months.

“People are spending their cash with more caution,” Mehdi said. He blames Iran’s government, as well as international sanctions, for the inflation that is hurting his business. “It’s a crisis in policy making, there’s not much thought behind it,” he said. “It was obvious from the start that this is what we were heading for.”

With Summit of Arab Leaders, Iraq Seeks to Shift Image

For Iraqi diplomats and officials, the three-day meeting of the Arab League is a banner moment for a country emerging from decades of war, occupation and diplomatic isolation. Iraq’s leaders see a rare chance to reassert themselves as players in a transformed Arab world by hosting the first major diplomatic event here since American troops withdrew in December.

But just beyond the cement walls and freshly planted petunias of the International Zone lies a ragged country with a bleaker view. Out in the real Iraq, suicide bombings still rip through the streets. Sectarian divisions have paralyzed its politics and weakened its stature with powerful neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Iran, who use money and militias to aggressively pursue their own agendas inside Iraq. Despite its aspirations to wield influence as a new Arab democracy, Iraq may well remain more of a stage than an actor.

U.S. and Turkey to Step Up ‘Nonlethal’ Aid to Rebels in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey and the United States plan to provide “nonlethal” assistance, like communications equipment and medical supplies, directly to opposition groups inside Syria, and will urge other allies to do so as well, the White House deputy national security adviser said on Sunday, after President Obama met with the prime minister of Turkey at a nuclear security conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Uzbeks to suspend gas supplies to Tajikistan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan—Uzbekistan says it will cease natural gas deliveries to its energy-starved neighbor Tajikistan starting next month.

Uzbekistan, which is Tajikistan's only external source of gas, routinely suspends deliveries amid complaints of nonpayment.

Ukraine May Reverse Gas Flow if Russia Stops Transit - Naftogaz

Ukraine may use its gas transport system in "reverse mode" to bring European gas to Ukraine, if Russia stops gas transit to Europe through it, Ukraine's Naftogaz energy firm deputy board chairman Vadim Chuprun said on Monday.

Shale Boom in Europe Fades as Polish Wells Come Up Empty

Europe’s best hope for a shale-gas boom is fading as explorers in Poland confront rising taxes, a lack of rigs and rocks that are harder to drill than expected.

A Lot of Gas

Last week, Mitt Romney, who, it now seems, is going to become the Republican nominee whether anybody likes it or not, called on President Barack Obama to fire three of his Cabinet members: the Energy Secretary, Steven Chu; the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar; and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson. According to Romney, the three have spent the past few years carrying out a not-so-secret plan to raise the price of gasoline at the pump. Only by firing the “gas-tax trio,” Romney told Fox News, can the President demonstrate that he did not approve of this plan. “Time for them to go,” Romney said.

Why the Keystone Pipeline Won't Ease Pain at the Pump

If only it were that easy. In reality, building the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline might help to alleviate supply bottlenecks and get more domestic oil to refineries. But it won’t bring down gas prices.

Natural gas production boom alters energy outlook

Thanks to new technologies, most notably horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking"), the United States finds itself in a position unimaginable a few years ago: swimming in new domestic energy supplies.

Sierra Club: Natural gas isn't a 'kinder, gentler' energy

The natural gas industry that we know today is dirty, dangerous and putting American families at risk. While so many are focused on the quick profits to be made off this resource, natural gas drillers remain exempt from aspects of landmark health and environmental protections such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

California’s Brown Says He’ll Consider Fracking Standards

Governor Jerry Brown said he’ll consider opening California, fourth among oil-producing states, to a drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to increase natural-gas production.

Fracking could bring UK 50,000 jobs, says Browne

Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive, said Lancashire has the potential to be the capital of Europe's emerging shale gas industry, in a scenario he predicted could help to create as many as 50,000 jobs across the UK.

From fracking-heavy region, women bring warnings

Knapp said that when she signed a lease in 2006, she bought into the claims that drilling would create an economic boom and foster U.S. energy independence. “I really believed that was going to be good for the country,” she recalled.

Since then, however, Knapp said, she’s experienced multiple negative impacts, including water contamination and damage to her herd of dairy cattle.

After the drilling started, she alleged, in March 2011 her tap water turned ivory-white and “jello-like.” Her adult daughter who had been drinking the water in the home, she said, ended up in the hospital with conditions including an enlarged spleen and liver, which she believes were caused by chemicals contaminating the water.

North Dakota Litter Problem Rises With Oil Boom

TIOGA, N.D. — Along the wide-open expanses and rolling prairie of western North Dakota surrounding the state's booming oil patch, all sorts of bizarre litter can be found clogging the once picturesque roadside: Derelict hardhats, single boots, buckets, pallets, pieces of machinery, shredded semi tires, oily clothing, cigarette butts.

The worst? Plastic jugs of urine pitched out windows as scores of truckers pass through oil country.

Another Japan reactor shuts down; only one left

TOKYO (AP) – Another Japanese nuclear reactor was taken off line for maintenance on Monday, leaving the country with only one of its 54 reactors operational following last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Long road to Fukushima recovery for nuclear industry

SEOUL // The global nuclear industry could take at least a decade to recover from the aftermath of Japan's Fukushima disaster, industry executives warn.

Nuclear Industry Says Back on Track After Fukushima `Speed Bump’

Within months of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the worst in 25 years, Germany, Belgium and Italy vowed to quit atomic energy. Twelve months on, the nuclear industry says it’s almost back to business as usual.

South Korea's nuclear chance after Chernobyl

A former importer of nuclear technology and know-how from the United States, South Korea has transformed itself into an exporter, with Abu Dhabi its first customer. And it steps into the limelight this week as the host of an international summit on nuclear security backed by the US president Barack Obama.

We Don't Consume Resources, We Create Them

One of the points that economists have a really hard time getting over, probably because it is so counter-intuitive, is that we human beings don’t really consume resources, we create them. This has implications for huge swathes of the environmental movement and also for certain parts of the Peak Oil theory.

Please note that I’m not trying to state, as no economist is, that we do not live on a finite Earth. That there isn’t some limit to the number of copper atoms available to us, or that oil or natural gas are out there in truly unlimited quantities.

Phosphorus: A looming disaster?

Like oil and clean water, phosphorus supplies could run out, leading to famine and war, scientists warn.

Amory Lovins Rocks The House

Thursday afternoon I had the pleasure of listening to Amory Lovins present his latest thinking on the world energy picture at the University of California at Santa Barbara, which he sums up in his book Reinventing Fire. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this brilliant and compelling talk; you have to experience this first-hand to know what it’s like to be in the presence of a great mind whose life’s work has been figuring out Earth’s energy puzzle.

And guess what? He’s confident that the business advantages of energy conservation, efficiency and renewables will enable – in fact force – the business community to phase out fossil fuels before 2050. I drove home without feeling the need to throw myself off a bridge.

Saudi - Benefits of modern energy must reach the poor

Bringing the benefits of modern energy to the poor of the world is upmost in our minds, and at the foremost of our ambitions. It is incumbent on us all to work toward countering issues such as accessibility, affordability, reliability and continuity of energy supply.

And since the poor live under diverse, often remote, and varied geographical and ecological situations, it is clear that to address energy poverty effectively, all options must be considered.

Japan to Ease Regulations on Solar, Wind Power, Nikkei Reports

Japan’s government will ease regulations on renewable-energy projects to encourage businesses to increase use of alternative power sources such as solar and wind, the Nikkei newspaper said.

Nuclear power plants can produce hydrogen to fuel the 'hydrogen economy'

The long-sought technology for enabling the fabled "hydrogen economy" — an era based on hydrogen fuel that replaces gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels, easing concerns about foreign oil and air pollution — has been available for decades and could begin commercial production of hydrogen in this decade, a scientist reported here today.

Vestas’ Engel Says 2015 Goal Was Too Ambitious, Borsen Reports

Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS)’s Chief Executive Officer Ditlev Engel said in an interview with Borsen that 2015 targets were “too ambitious,” and it’s up for debate whether the company should have abandoned them earlier.

When a Parking Lot Is So Much More

NO ONE loves a parking lot. In her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell laments, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” The parking lot is the antithesis of nature’s fields and forests, an ugly reminder of the costs of our automobile-oriented society. But as long as we prefer to get around by car (whether powered by fossil fuel, solar energy or hydrogen), the parking lot is here to stay. It’s hard to imagine an alternative.

Or is it? I believe that the modern surface parking lot is ripe for transformation. Few of us spend much time thinking about parking beyond availability and convenience. But parking lots are, in fact, much more than spots to temporarily store cars: they are public spaces that have major impacts on the design of our cities and suburbs, on the natural environment and on the rhythms of daily life. We need to redefine what we mean by “parking lot” to include something that not only allows a driver to park his car, but also offers a variety of other public uses, mitigates its effect on the environment and gives greater consideration to aesthetics and architectural context.

Pork industry plan to give hogs more room comes at a cost

MINNEAPOLIS – Pork producers are building new barns and retrofitting old ones to give hogs more space, but they say consumers opposed to keeping pregnant sows in tight cages can expect to pay for clearer consciences with higher food prices.

Vast Tracts in Paraguay Forest Being Replaced by Ranches

Huge tracts of the Chaco are being razed in a scramble into one of South America’s most remote corners by cattle ranchers from Brazil, Paraguay’s giant neighbor, and German-speaking Mennonites, descendants of colonists who arrived here nearly a century ago and work as farmers and ranchers.

So much land is being bulldozed and so many trees are being burned that the sky sometimes turns “twilight gray” at daytime, said Lucas Bessire, an American anthropologist who works here. “One wakes with the taste of ashes and a thin film of white on the tongue,” he said.

Why we must produce more food with less water

"The world is thirsty because we are hungry,” notes the United Nations on World Water Day. The world’s population reached 7 billion in 2011, and it is predicted to rise to at least 9 billion by 2050. More people living on our planet will require a more efficient use of dwindling natural resources, particularly water. EuropaBio underlines that agricultural biotechnology can help address the challenge of food security and water efficiency, also through the development of drought-resistant crops and other benefits, such as the possibility to implement low- / no-till farming that can help preserve soil moisture.

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion

Holding back the sea here seems as impossible as holding back the fog. But planners see Ocean Beach as a top priority in a long roster of Bay Area sites threatened by inundation because of what lies on its landward side: the Great Highway, a $220 million wastewater treatment plant and a 14-foot-wide underground pipe that keeps sewage-tainted storm water away from the ocean.

The question facing at least eight local, state and federal agencies boils down to this: With California officials expecting climate change to raise sea levels here by 14 inches by 2050, should herculean efforts be made to preserve the beach, the pipe and the plant, or should the community simply bow to nature?

Captivity could help polar bears survive global warming assault, some zoos say

Heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuel are making the Arctic warm twice as fast as lower latitudes, and Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2030, according to climate models.

So a group of activists, zoo officials, lawmakers and scientists have a radical proposal: Increase the number of polar bears in U.S. zoos to help maintain the species’ genetic diversity if the wild population plummets.

In a worst-case scenario, a remnant group of bears would survive in captivity.

Nigeria: Heat Wave - Lagos Warns Against Over Exposure to Sun - as Experts Decry Deforestation of Rainforest

Lagos — Following the prevalence of heat wave in Lagos State and other parts of the country in the past two weeks, the Lagos State Government has urged residents to reduce the time they stay in the sun by staying indoors more.

Environmental experts have also blamed the harsh weather situation on the rapid deforestation and degradation of Nigeria's rainforest.

Weather extremes, warming link stronger, study finds

LONDON — Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were "very likely" caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

Scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

Impact of climate change may be underestimated

A new study suggests climate scientists may have underestimated the effect of greenhouse gases, with global temperatures now predicted to rise by between 1.4 and 3 degrees Celsius by 2050.

The study was published in the journal by a team of international scientists who ran 10,000 computer simulations of climate models in an attempt to explore the range of global warming predictions made by climate scientists.

Extremely hot

One claim frequently heard regarding extreme heat waves goes something like this: ”Since this heat wave broke the previous record by 5 °C, global warming can’t have much to do with it since that has been only 1 °C over the 20th century”. Here we explain why we find this logic doubly flawed.

One can ask two different questions about the influence of global warming on heat waves (Otto et al. 2012), and we take them in turn.

Climate Change may bring Vampire Bats to Texas


With the emergence of warm spring weather comes the return of the Mexican Freetail bats under Congress Bridge and the remote possibility that a feared and foreign species of bat could make its way into Texas.

The increase in global climate temperatures has raised concerns about the vampire bat species travelling from Mexico and South and Central America into the southern and central regions of Texas. Carin Peterson, training and outreach coordinator of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, said even if vampire bats are not making their appearance, Austin’s surrounding caves and popular bat attraction, Congress Avenue Bridge, already have their annual bat species.

“Biologists are paying attention to the warming climate and what potential impacts that could bring, including non-native wildlife, but this is not something that will likely happen within the next few years,” Peterson said.

And things seem to be getting rapidly worse south of the border, droughtwise:


Mexican Drought Fuels Despair

While drought conditions have recently let up across the state of Texas in the United States, a drought of record proportions continues in Mexico.

The drought in northern Mexico has led to massive starvation amongst cattle, who have nothing to graze. Normally in these situations, farmers would be able to increase the amount of grain in their cattles' diet; however, the drought has drastically increased the price of grain as well.

Across Mexico, farmland is scattered with carcasses of farm animals who have died of starvation

Let me also not that the last three articles leanan linked to above are all excellent and interesting pieces, well worth a read.

Those of us who live on the land have been seeing the signs everywhere in the last decade, especially the last few years. Species of birds, formerly rare visitors, are now seasonal or full time residents. Our location, previously zone 6 is now firmly in zone 7. Invasive plants are becoming a problem.

Tent Caterpillars have been part of our environment as long as I remember, but this year they've emerged very early along with their food source; young tree leaves. I went to examine their life cycle:

Tent caterpillars exhibit boom-or-bust population dynamics. The most notorious of the outbreak species is the forest tent caterpillar. During outbreaks, the caterpillars can become so abundant that they are capable of completely defoliating tens of thousands of acres of forest. Although these outbreaks do not follow true cycles in the sense that they occur at regular intervals, some particularly prone regions have recorded outbreaks every ten years or so. Caterpillars rarely remain in outbreak numbers for more than two to three years. Factors which bring outbreaks to a close include parasitoids and disease. In some cases populations collapse because caterpillars starve to death either because trees are completely defoliated before the caterpillars are fully grown or because the quality of host leaves declines to the point where they are no longer palatable. Defoliated trees typically refoliate after caterpillar attacks and experience no lasting damage. In some cases, however, trees or parts of trees may be killed after several seasons of repeated defoliation. This has occurred when forest tent caterpillars defoliated sugar maples that were already stressed due to drought...

...sounded vaguely familiar.

I recall those bugs from my early childhood in New Jersey. They especially liked Cherry trees. When I lived in Los Alamos (79-84) we seemed to have a massive summer outbreak in the nearby mountains. Essentially every Aspen leaf in the forest would be consumed, then the population would crash. I theorized it was caused by doemstic trees in town serving as a reservoir for the worms (presumably they are likked by extreme cold), especially cherry trees.

I once worked extensively with ticks-hard and soft. Alot of breeding, and studies of disease transmission to livestock. They remain for me some of the most efficient vectors.

Feeding is a protracted interval of mixing the contents of their gut with the host's fluids. A back and forth regurgitation. They still have some of the best anticoagulants known.

I once did a stint of forest ecology research in Panama, and at the end of the day working in the rain forest, we would sit on the porch and have a few beers while removing ticks. We used masking tape - quick and easy. That was sort of our "cocktail hour" :-)

As far as Chagas, I do believe the main vector is not ticks, but the "kissing bug" insect - they bite you in the night. I know we checked our sleeping quarters regularly for the things.

I know, but after following the Chagas link above, the bug immediately brought ticks to my mind. It's about that time of year, and for Legionnaires and Rocky Mountain Fever. A misnomer, as the latter disease is much more prevalent inn the east. I have never really been in the tropics for an extended time, must have been fun. As per the tape, same thing for breeding. They can be fast across a lab bench, especially the nymphs, and the quickest was usually masking tape wrapped inside out around the hand. Then plop into a vat of Lysol. Seems so low tech.

Exactly - masking tape inside out. Low tech, but what could be easier? Maybe tiny lasers... :-)

Anyone who thinks of themselves as a biologist/ecologist/environmentalist/naturalist/etc really owes it to themselves to spend some time in the tropical rainforest. Not only the diversity, but the intensity of life. You can read all about it, etc., as I surely did, but for this New England boy, it was a real eye-opener...

My takeaway? Insects rule. Particularly ants. :-)

My takeaway? Insects rule. Particularly ants. :-)

Absolutely! I'm sure you are familiar with E.O. Wilson.

I was just down in Brazil...

BTW, As much as I like the tropical rainforests I also love the coral reefs!

Humans are ignorant fools!

Re Drought in Mexico

Read that bean prices paid growers have really shot up, pintos from $27 to $50 per hundred weight comparing last week and yr ago. All dry beans-reds, great northern, blacks affected, nearly doubling in price. Causes cited were the Mexican drought and corn. Bean wise, Mexican production was the lowest since 1981, which was described as a complete disaster. With corn, it's just gobbling up acreage, citing production in North Dakota.

Since 1981!. Hmmm, just guessing that there are quite a few more million people in Mexico than there were then.

The top three sources of income for Mexico are oil (dropping fast), money sent from relatives in the States (which has dropped off considerably since the US entered the Great Recession), and the tourist industry. Their going to need a lot of new tourists to make up for the fall off from the other sources. Especially if they will need international currency to bring in food.

Mexico is on my list of no-go-to countries for turism. And there are not many countries on that list. Columbia too. Here in Sweden, the violence in Mexico get a lot of media coverage.

Sorry Jedi but that is way over the top for generalisation. I am in a tourist destination in Mexico and I suspect that there are way worse places even in Sweden. Want to visit? I'll show you around. Look back through my posts and you'll find a link to some pics. BTW Colombia has some very nice tourist destinations, on and off the beaten track, with few problems. If you want some suggestions I can recommend some good ones.


Would love to come, but I plan going to the Middle East this year. I think I know where the risk areas are, and arent. I know much more about that than about Mexico.

Actually revenue from drugs exceeds oil revenue in Mexico

Not to pile on, but I noticed Europe is currently having drought problems as well:

European Crops Damaged by Winter Freeze Now Face Drought

Rainfall in northern France, England and the north of Italy this year was 23 percent to 47 percent below the long-term average, data from the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit show. In Spain and France’s Mediterranean region, amounts were 59 percent to 78 percent lower.

An area of high atmospheric pressure is causing a so-called blocking effect that prevents Atlantic Ocean frontal systems from moving into Europe, Jim Dale, a senior meteorologist at British Weather Services, said by phone.


I live in the south of England. I cycle to work. Most winters I can count on a very wet journey at least once a week. This past winter this has only happened to me about 3 times. We have had a very dry winter, following a dryish summer and another dry winter, so I think water supplies are going to be a big worry this summer. I suspect wildlife is going to suffer too. A lot of rivers in the south and east are very low for the time of year.

It's been dry in Asia as well, water reservoirs at an all time low. Lots of forests caught fire recently.

Seems your rain is being dumped on the Pacific Northwest; our forecast is for yet another week of rain. Look like our non-spring of last year will be repeated.

And it looks like the US (not the northwest) is getting our heat as well. It's been an unusually cold winter, lots of low records being set in many places. Some of the mountain passes are still blocked. This doesn't augur well since April-May heat is what usually creates a low depression over the subcontinent and brings in the moisture from Indian Ocean.

Thanks for confirming the setting "of low records," which I knew had to exist somewhere to balance all the record highs. How reliable to you think your prediction of a marginal monsoon season is?

Down here in Venezuela the rainy season has started early.

We're not due to start till mid June but I will keep that in mind. Noticed today that there are a lot of mangoes on the trees, a sign?


How reliable to you think your prediction of a marginal monsoon season is?

No idea. Though some other meteorologists have also said that monsoon will be weak this year. Usually the rule of thumb is that when you have an El-Nino there is a drought in India. La-Nina signals a season of plenty.


Weather forecasters in the US and Japan have predicted a below-normal monsoon in India but meteorologists at home have dismissed the projection, saying it is too early to raise an alarm for the country's rainfall-dependent economy.

A Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) report has warned that India could face a deficit monsoon this year while US-based World Weather Inc has indicated a relatively dry spell in August and September.

It's been an unusually cold winter, lots of low records being set in many places

And elsewhere - mildest on record. Had to shovel snow less than 10 times. 3 years ago, took a day and a half to get shoveled out.

Weather extremes, warming link stronger, study finds

Here's a link to another article, dated 25 March, which was referenced in the post above:

March has meant 6,000 weather records broken - weather.com

The article lists the number of US records over the period, 9 March to 22 March.

E. Swanson

This article says it's been more than 7000 records broken since March 12.

It is the trend of ever higher numbers of hot than cold records being broken that troubles me most:

from one-to-one through most of history, on average,

to two-to-one over the last couple decades

then about three-to-one the summer of 2010

up to 8-to-1 last summer

now 11-1 so far this year

Where is this trend going?

(This is for the US, by the way. If anyone has access to global figures, I'd appreciate the link.)

Chicago, Ill., tied or set new daily record highs nine days in a row from March 14-22! In this streak, eight of the days were in the 80s, including an astounding 87-degree high on March 21. The National Weather Service in Chicago recently called the warm spell "historic" and something that is unlikely to be matched in our lifetime.

I wish I could share their 'optimism'...

The statement by the NWS is just idiotic. I guess the climate scientists work somewhere else.

I have said this before but one of the Denver weathermen on TV is exultant over all the local records being broken. And this in a state that obviously has a big ski industry.

Why do you hate us for our American Exceptionalism?

We ARE the champions, of the World!

Yes. Americans took on their Locust Plague and killed 'em off.

That's right. A Plague straight from the pages of The Bible and Americans beat it!


Why do you hate us for our American Exceptionalism?

In my case, as an American, I hate American Exceptionalism because it flies in the face of reality...

Perhaps slightly OT but Dr. Bartlett has done it again! I just used an excerpt from his new paper to reply to that ridiculous article from Forbes linked up top:


The Meaning of Sustainability

by Albert A. Bartlett

Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder


Here is my comment:

Dear Tim,

You say: “Or, as I say, we really do create resources through the advance of technology.” That is a profoundly dangerous and a false statement.

May I recommend:
The Meaning of Sustainability

by Albert A. Bartlett

Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder


Exerpt: Sustained Availability

But it is not all doom and gloom. The concept of “Sustained Availability” gives us some freedom to make limited use of fuel and mineral resources during the transition period between the present and the distant future.

Do you remember from calculus that the integral from zero to infinity of exp(-kt) is finite and has the value 1/k. This mathematical fact has a useful consequence. Suppose that P is the annual production of a resource in tons per year and that P varies with time according to the equation

P = P(0) exp (-kt)

where t is the time in years, P(0) is the present rate of production and k is the fractional change in P per year.

k = – (dP/P)/dt

For a declining curve, dP is negative. The graph of production in tons per year vs. time will be a declining exponential, of the same form as the decay curve for a sample of a radioactive material. The area under the complete curve of tons per year vs. years from zero (the present time) to infinity is the total amount of the resource (tons) that is consumed in all of the future. This can be set equal to the estimated size R of the total remaining resource in tons to give a special value of k for which the total resource consumption between now and infinity on the declining exponential curve is equal to the present size R of the resource. In other words, a special value of k can be found for the reserves of a resource so that the production of the resource declines steadily but R lasts forever!

What is the particular value of the constant k which will allow the resource to last forever? This can be answered by example. It has been stated that world petroleum will last 40 years at present rates of consumption. In this case the particular value of k to make world petroleum last forever is (k = 1/40 = 0.025). So if the global use of petroleum is made to decline 2.5% per year the petroleum will last forever! This decay curve has a “half life” of 28 years.

To be clear ALL NATURAL resources follow this curve!

Fred Magyar

Fred, your comment was not the only one that slammed him for his poor use of bandwidth to make a point that wasn't made. Sooner or later the people giving you snakeoil sales talks will be given the rail out of town and told not to come back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I try hard to not make my gardening can feed the world concept of BioWebScape Designs not fall into that trap of being easily shot down by the comments of others. But not everyone out there thinks about these things that people tell them about.

As the resources get more limited and the costs go up, more and more people will be turning to places like TOD to find the people that have been banging the pots warning of the coming conflicts and gloomy weather and dark nights in the burbs.

With Guys like him posting stories in major publications even if most of it is only for the web readers, we can't act fast enough to get to where we need to be so that the distruction most of us see on the future's edge doesn't kill all of us off.

I have had my vision's of Me in my yard, watching over the place in 25 years, only getting a rare visit from nomads walking the land looking for survivors. Only to find an eden like place full of edible plants and still usable houses on my block, that I maintained to keep myself ready for the future nomads that would show up, so I could pass the place on to some of them. That is a fictional storyline, but one that might happen in the future to more of us than we would guess, now looking down from this past place, in the here and now.

Biowebscape designs,
Plant the future Today.

Indeed. They seem to be completely unaware of the trend I just posted on.

Why is such important info known to so few?

If someone wanted to put some work into it, a thing to do would be to look up years with record-warm winters and see what happened in the summer. I backed away. For the American heartland, Farmer's Almanac is predicting a cool summer for 2012. This would make the year there to be average... not that I put much stock in Almanac.

Yet elsewhere you heap derision on 'egg-heads'.

"The conversations within these rarefied, egg-head infested heights speak of a round earth... whereas, in my travels among the herd, common knowledge holds the earth as flat."

Derision is in the eye of the beholder.

Why is such important info known to so few?

Data is easily available, even analysis is not that hard. Implications are huge. Problem is that it's not cool and your neighbor isn't doing it. Having a monkey brain has it's drawbacks

Must read from NWS Detroit:

perhaps the most anomalous weather event in Michigan since climate records began 130 years ago

One has to go all the way into the month of April to find a stretch of warmth that compares

... April, 1886 - and even that warm spell was eclipsed!


Weather records due to climate change: A game with loaded dice

"The question is whether these weather extremes are coincidental or a result of climate change," ... "It is not a question of yes or no, but a question of probabilities," Coumou explains. The recent high incidence of weather records is no longer normal, he says.

"It´s like a game with loaded dice," says Coumou. "A six can appear every now and then, and you never know when it happens. But now it appears much more often, because we have changed the dice." The past week illustrates this: between March 13th and 19th alone, historical heat records were exceeded in more than a thousand places in North America.

Except that when you start talking about 5 sigma events it starts looking more like you have created a new surface on the dice--a seven--and it is starting to show up more and more frequently.

Thinking about Jared Diamond's work; when a global civilization collapses, where does it go/what happens?

Most other previous civilizations had the apparent benefit of packing up and moving elsewhere.

That's the plan of the "lets put solar panels in space" crowd.

We know that mean temperatures are trening upwards. Has anyone calulated or plotted what percentage of the increase in the mean is due to higher day-time highs or higher night-time lows?

Mark Seeley, one of our prominent local climatologists, in his power point presentations makes a point about how important the increase in night time temperatures is.


Click on the first element under 'presentation materials' and go to slide 33.

This is just for MN, and he doesn't do the exact calculation you mentioned, but I'm sure others have done it. You might try searching at places like RealClimate, ClimateProgress, and SkepticalScience.

the increase in night time temperatures is.

"Because persisting contrails can reduce the transfer of both incoming solar and outgoing infrared radiation and so reduce the daily temperature range, we attribute at least a portion of this anomaly to the absence of contrails." .... Satellite images showed that cloud cover on Sept. 11 was light, but that cloud cover and humidity increased on the 12th, 13th and 14th," says Carleton. "These clouds and greater humidity should have suppressed the range, but the temperature range was still the largest in 30 years."

Just to demonstrate what rarefied egg-head intellectual academic ivory-tower heights these conversations dwell within, most every-day people I meet know them as "chem-trails". If I start explaining contrails, they look at me as if I were haunted.

Common knowledge:

Just to demonstrate what rarefied egg-head intellectual academic ivory-tower heights these conversations dwell within

An observation made and shown mathematically due to a 3 day set of unique events is called:

rarefied egg-head intellectual academic ivory-tower heights

I have a 4 letter word in mind followed by a 3 letter identifier which would refer in context to KalimankuDenku as a reply.

Science in these parts has more sway.

Having said that:
(Listen to the above to understand the next. Now its been years from my last thunderhead observation. Yet - they still seem to exist. http://www.vagabondish.com/photo-thunderhead-cloud-bethel-pennsylvania/ )

I really think he was saying that 'egg-head' bit in an affectionate, fraternal way. It gave ME a warm fuzzy feeling!

The wiki page would tend to support my guess, I think.

Funny enough, all in all, how worried people get that 'the government' is trying to control them with chemicals sprayed over the country', but keep eating manufactured food and drink products- laced with additives, preservatives, colorings, sweeteners, texturizers, perfumes.. and they willingly PAY for these things to gorge themselves upon, while staunchly crying out for the freedoms that allow them to do so..

Obey your thirst! Durst macht Frei!

And the beer can they gesture toward the sky with is lined with polycarbonate... polycarbonate that leaches bisphenol-a.

"A 2011 mice study found that male mice exposed to BPA became demasculinized and behaved more like females in their spatial navigational abilities. They were also less desirable to female mice."



I think that was intended to be sarcasm. In any case, you really over-reacted.

As I like to examplify when this come up:

Sahara: Dry air, warm sunny days, cold nights.
The tropical Africa: Wet air, warm sunny days, warm nights.

Water is a greenhouse gas, so here you see what GHGs do; they even out the drop in night temperatures. If temeprature just raises, it is the sun, if night temp raises faster than day temps, it is the atmosphere.



It is not just the US which is experiencing unusually warm weather. Scotland posted a record temperature high for the month of March yesterday.


Very dry, still air, zero cloud cover. Overnight frost here in Cambridge, 300 miles to the south, rising to 19.5C (67 F) by mid afternoon.

Unusual, but by no means record weather here.

Please note: Record "all time" March highs for several Scotland stations.

Scottish record set yesterday didn't last long as it was broken again today

Scotland breaks March temperature record for second day running

SCOTLAND was the hottest part of the UK again today - beating the all-time March record set only a day ago.

Aboyne in Aberdeenshire recorded 22.9C (73.2F) and Aviemore hit 22.1C (71.8F). Both places were warmer than Barcelona, Nice, Majorca and Faro.

Personally, as someone enjoying the weather in Scotland right now, the last time I think I wore a t-shirt outdoors in March for most of the day (I don't like cold) I was in Dallas, Texas. Forecast is for a couple of more days of this before we cool down a bit.

Aviemore, mentioned above, is a Highlands ski/winter sports town. All Scottish ski slopes are currently closed due to lack of snow.

Scottish March temperature record now broken for third day in a row.

March temperature records broken again in Scotland

Scotland has set a new record for the highest ever March temperature for the third day in a row.

Aboyne in Aberdeenshire recorded 23.4C (74.1F) at 13:30 on Tuesday, beating the record of 23.2C set at Cromdale, near Grantown on Spey, the previous afternoon.

On Sunday, Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire recorded of 22.8C, beating a March temperature record which had stood for 55 years.

Before last weekend, the record March temperature in Scotland stood at 22.2C.

It was recorded in 1957 at Gordon Castle, in Moray, and again at Strachan, in Kincardineshire, in 1965.

The average daytime temperature for March is usually about 10C.

The north and north east of Scotland were again the hottest part of the country on Tuesday.

Edit: Updated record again. 23.6C (74.5F) at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

Indications are that Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, Ontario is 90% ice free today. This is 8 days earlier than the record set in 2010 which itself broke the old record by 12 days. Therefore we are seeing ice out almost 3 weeks earlier than any recorded ice out prior to 2010! It used to be common for the lakes to be iced in until early May.

Welcome to the Anthropocene - what now?

... If you accept the premise that we have entered the Anthropocene, one of the over-arching questions is "what happens now?"; another is "can we get out of it?"

There's a lot of talk about runaway effects. It's said, with some evidence to back it up, that warming and deforestation in the Amazon could combine to create feedbacks that destroy the forest, or that the Greenland ice sheet could begin to melt irreversibly.

Prof Steffen raises another possibility - that the Earth system will stabilise again, but under a different set of conditions, which would be a lot less suitable for the whole range of nature that we find today.

Cultural inertia is slowing effective action to address climate-change

In their paper, Norgaard et.al. describe social mechanisms that maintain social stability or cultural inertia in the face of climate change at the three levels.

In many discussions in the last 30 years, climate change has been seen as either a hoax or fixable with minimal political or economic intervention, said Norgaard, author of the book "Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life" (2011, MIT Press). "This kind of cultural resistance to very significant social threat is something that we would expect in any society facing a massive threat," she said. The discussion, she said, is comparable to what happened with challenges to racism or slavery in the U.S. South.

Most discussion on climate change has focused on natural science. It is time, she said, to broaden that approach.

Excellent, thanks! I read the Beeb every day, but I missed this one.

Computer models struggle to give precise answers even on single issues, such as climate change or the response of ocean ecosystems to temperature change.

This is a huge misconception that is unfortunately all too common. Engineers and physicists need precise models. Policy makers and other informed citizens? Not so much. Anything better than your typical mental model is going to be a giant leap for mankind. Even Hubbert was smart enough to give range-bound estimates for URR and the resulting peak oil timeframe, something that quixotically is universally ignored by the peak-oil community.

To be useful to policy makers, a model must make some statement about the future, but information about the future may take several different forms. A model may provide, for example

  1. Absolute, precise predictions. (Exactly when and where will the next solar eclipse be?)

  2. Conditional precise predictions. (If the emergency core cooling system fails, what will be the maximum pressure on the nuclear reactor's containment vessel?)

  3. Conditional, imprecise projections of dynamic behavior modes. (If corn prices are stabilized, will hog prices tend to fluctuate more or less strongly?)

  4. Summary and communication of current trends, relationships, or constraints that may influence the future behavior of the system. (How do the paths of amino acid synthesis in a bacterial cell intersect? Where does the town zoning plan allow commercial construction?)

  5. Philosophical explorations of the logical consequences of a set of assumptions, without any necessary regard for the real-world accuracy or usefulness of those assumptions. (On a curved surface, which theorems of Euclidian geometry still hold? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?)

[The World3 system dynamics model] was designed to provide information of the third sort. We had to limit ourselves to conditional and imprecise questions, rather than precise predictions, for two reasons. First, social systems are by their nature unpredictable in the absolute sense. Since any prediction made about the future of a social system becomes an influence on social policy, the prediction itself may change the system's behavior. Second, the incomplete and inaccurate world data base currently available does not permit precision, even for conditional long-term predictions of social systems. Thus purposes 1 and 2 do not appear to be feasible goals for a long-term social model.

Although precise long-term predictions for social systems do not seem to be attainable, a conditional, imprecise understanding of the global system's dynamic properties is possible. That level of knowledge is less satisfactory than a perfect, precise prediction would be, but it is still a significant advance over the level of understanding permitted by current mental models. It should provide a useful input to future policy decisions - about population control, energy consumption, and investments in new technologies for example - that will have a significant impact on human society for decades to come.

From Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World
Meadows et al


I think you're right Jerry in saying that this is a huge misconception and another that tends to go right along with this obsession with utter precision of the models is the underlying assumption that when a model is imprecise it is always biased to overestimate a given outcome...i.e. that models are imprecise in one direction only. So that in the simple case - let's say temperature predictions to keep it really simple - the public reaction is "well those models are never right anyways - they can't predict what's going to happen two days from now why should we BELIEVE they can predict 20 years down the line...?" Well, that's right but we certainly can have a go at it and if you think it's just a big game of chance, well the modeled outcome of our current behavior is likely not going to be anything like reality - most people are more than willing to mentally roll the dice and BELIEVE that what really happens will prove the models are "alarmist". I always make a point to bring up the concept when discussing doubts about the models with someone that they have no reason to assume that just because they are so certain about having the magnitude component of the model discrepancy "vector" correct it is not necessarily safe to assume the direction component follows in their favor.

A fundamental problem then seems to hinge on the question of the time frame... Although it is appears that it may be accelerating, the conventional wisdom says that the truly catastrophic potential for AGW still remains decades out in the future - at least according to a form of climate change "gradualism" that seems to be the undertone for most any mainstream article on the subject... therefore, over the short term there is virtually no way to demonstrate to those willing to roll the dice that their assumptions regarding model outcomes may be fatally flawed. I think that the progression of thought goes something like: a model for 20 years in the future show temps 5 degrees warmer than now but a model from last week said this week was going to be 60 degrees and sunny but it really turned out 45 and cloudy...well, there you go... these models can't get anything right - they're always saying it's going to warmer than it turns out to be... (disregarding of course the slightly older data point when, a couple weeks before, the forecast was for 40 degrees and rainy but it turned out 75 and summerlike)

I think the sequence of ratios of high versus low record temperatures:

1/1 (for thousands of years)

> 2/1 (last few decades)

> ~3/1 (2010)

> 8/1 (2011)

> 11/1 (so far this year)

speaks to a climate system now rapidly in the process of quickly shifting to a radically different state. The rapidity of the transition will wipe out much human and non-human life, as will the new, much hotter state, whatever that level that may be.

No argument from me dohboi - extremely unsettling trend you outline...

Then, to make things really interesting we'll get everything warm enough for long enough to let the crops get a jump start on the season...and... we'll really finish you off by throwing in another night in the single digits to give a nice solid freeze to anything currently growing...

As others have stated on here for years now - the masses can feel that something ain't right... there's something going on out there... "but damn those 80 degree days in March sure are nice and if that's what global warming has for us... well, I don't mind some warmer winters and lower oil bills..."

It absolutely does not register with a huge number of people that the world we have carefully molded for ourselves is going to have a massively difficult time of it when the crops etc. that we have tailored to our "known" climate no longer recognize the world they are struggling to grow / adapt into... we'll continue to believe the delusion that we'll be growing bananas in Boise and oranges in (help me out here - I need a northern city that starts with 'O' !!!)


I just left Ottawa in part because its winters (and government) were too cold.

I just left Ottawa in part because its winters (and government) were too cold.

Yeah, but if you give it twenty years...
(the weather, not the government.)


Really pathetic that I couldn't come up with that one given the fact that i've skated quite often on the canal up there... guess I really did have trouble associating it with oranges :)

Regardless - thanks for the help clifman !


Oranges in Oslo - yes that works quite nicely...!

Be careful of your argument here. You will see more variation in short time frames than long ones. For the apples-to-apples comparison, you need to show that bias towards one side of the record high/low in this season is much higher than expected when looking at other single seasons over a set of many other seasons. If a 11/1 split is a 1 in 100 season occurrence, then it will happen several times over a period of several centuries. Same with a single year, a single decade, a single century, a single millennium. The longer the time frame, the less variability you will expect (within a normal distribution); the shorter the time frame, the more variability.

At least I think that's right.

Yes, of course, it could be a blip, or more like a momentary uptick in a longer upward trend. I hope it is.

But in general, GW over the last decade or so has been moving much faster than most models anticipated, sometimes by 100 years.

Here's (Hertsgaard quoting) David King, the chief scientific adviser to the British Government:

"global warming had already triggered climate change. His specific example was the record heat wave that battered Europe in the summer of 2003, when corpses were piling up outside the morgue in Paris. About half of the excessive temperatures of the 2003 heat wave, King said, were attributable to man-made global warming.

Anyway, in essence David King told me climate change had arrived one hundred years sooner than scientists had expected. And that wasn’t the worst of it. He went on to explain that the physical inertia of the climate system—the laws of physics and chemistry—guaranteed that average global temperatures would keep rising for another thirty to forty years, even if humanity somehow was to halt all greenhouse gas emissions overnight. The upshot was that our civilization was locked in to a large amount of future climate change no matter how many solar panels, electric cars, and other green technologies we eventually embraced." And that was back in '05.


This is what scientists are saying right now:

Global warming close to becoming irreversible

Scientific estimates differ but the world's temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests...

Tipping Points

For ice sheets - huge refrigerators that slow down the warming of the planet - the tipping point has probably already been passed, Steffen said. The West Antarctic ice sheet has shrunk over the last decade and the Greenland ice sheet has lost around 200 cubic km (48 cubic miles) a year since the 1990s.

Most climate estimates agree the Amazon rainforest will get drier as the planet warms. Mass tree deaths caused by drought have raised fears it is on the verge of a tipping point, when it will stop absorbing emissions and add to them instead.

Around 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon were lost in 2005 from the rainforest and 2.2 billion tonnes in 2010, which has undone about 10 years of carbon sink activity, Steffen said.

One of the most worrying and unknown thresholds is the Siberian permafrost, which stores frozen carbon in the soil away from the atmosphere.

"There is about 1,600 billion tonnes of carbon there - about twice the amount in the atmosphere today - and the northern high latitudes are experiencing the most severe temperature change of any part of the planet," he said.

In a worst case scenario, 30 to 63 billion tonnes of carbon a year could be released by 2040, rising to 232 to 380 billion tonnes by 2100. This compares to around 10 billion tonnes of CO2 released by fossil fuel use each year.

Increased CO2 in the atmosphere has also turned oceans more acidic as they absorb it. In the past 200 years, ocean acidification has happened at a speed not seen for around 60 million years...


But in general, GW over the last decade or so has been moving much faster than most models anticipated, sometimes by 100 years.

Looking at just the past ten years, mean temperatures locally would certainly suggest this. We have a few days in March unaccounted for and the entire month of April yet to come, but 2011-2012 is shaping up to be the warmest winter of the lot and further continuation of a trend.

If you were to draw an imaginary line from the first bar of each month to the last, the general direction seems pretty clear.


Thanks for posting that graph. Sad to say, 10 years isn't a very long time to consider when looking at climate change. That's because there are known variations which operate on time periods greater than 10 years, such as the sunspot cycle and the lunar node progression cycle. Such short term plots have also been used to claim there's no global warming, such as plots which begin with 1998 when there was a very warm year due to a large El Nino. We are now seeing the solar cycle peaking, which may be adding a bit more warmth to our recent global climate. Still, the graph may be an indication of real change, it's just that from a scientific point of view, one must not say that such is proof of AGW because it's not possible to separate the effect of AGW from the other driving forces. Over longer periods, the trend is much more easy to detect...

E. Swanson

Quite true; ten years is an incredibly small slice of time in the great scheme of things and so I don't want to mislead anyone on this. That said, I recently turned 52 (yes indeed, Beware the Ides of March), and even in my short lifetime I can't help but believe something is amiss, and the last ten years have been downright unnerving.


The last ten years have had a lot of a-typical weather events. Looking at the 10 warmest years measuered,1998 is among them, the other nine are all 2xxx sometings. The last ten years HAVE been unusual.

Yeah, this latest blast is really unnerving. All the plants around here are popping out of the ground as if it were already April. But, it wasn't so long ago that a similar early warm spell ended rather badly for us. In 2002, all the trees were fully leafed out when on May 19, the low temperature dropped to 29F and the lows the next 4 nights were 25F, 25F, 27F and 25F. All the leaves on the trees turned brown and things looked like it was Fall all over again.

In 2002, according to the NCDC, there were some record maximums in the middle of April:

14 April of a possible 5,673 records: 182 (Broken) +  84 (Tied) = 266 Total
15 April of a possible 5,743 records: 421 (Broken) + 157 (Tied) = 578 Total
16 April of a possible 5,747 records: 786 (Broken) + 179 (Tied) = 965 Total
17 April of a possible 5,743 records: 696 (Broken) + 188 (Tied) = 884 Total
18 April of a possible 5,749 records: 396 (Broken) + 176 (Tied) = 572 Total
19 April of a possible 5,737 records: 356 (Broken) + 177 (Tied) = 533 Total
20 April of a possible 5,678 records: 154 (Broken) +  99 (Tied) = 253 Total
21 April of a possible 5,676 records:  87 (Broken) +  50 (Tied) = 137 Total
22 April of a possible 5,730 records:  65 (Broken) +  42 (Tied) = 107 Total

There were more records set in later April and early May. Then came the cold blast, with these records for lowest minimum temperatures:

19 May of a possible 5,613 records: 756 (Broken) + 209 (Tied) = 965 Total
20 May of a possible 5,719 records: 797 (Broken) + 186 (Tied) = 983 Total
21 May of a possible 5,716 records: 624 (Broken) + 161 (Tied) = 785 Total
22 May of a possible 5,722 records: 574 (Broken) + 169 (Tied) = 743 Total
23 May of a possible 5,707 records: 441 (Broken) + 157 (Tied) = 598 Total
24 May of a possible 5,694 records: 310 (Broken) + 109 (Tied) = 419 Total
25 May of a possible 5,605 records: 159 (Broken) +  89 (Tied) = 248 Total

For the week, there were 3661 new record low minimums set and 1080 tied. I would not be at all surprised to see a repeat of such an event this year, given the very early start of the warm weather...

E. Swanson

C'est vrai. A few days ago sunny and +28°C and today blizzard-like conditions and -5°C.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/03/27/ns-snow-wind-...

But as they say, March can be the cruellest month of the year.


I admit that I can't begin to do the math or to command the official models people use for these things.

But even when it is a decade, or a very few years, or a season--when things get way far out of whack, one has to guess that something is awry.

And when things seem to be accelerating exponentially toward some extreme imbalance, I take notice.

Climactic paleo-history is full of places where a tipping point was passed and the global or regional conditions shifted quite rapidly to a quite different state.

If we wait ten or thirty years to get the perfect statistical range to create the proper mathematical model...we will already be toast before anyone had the guts to point out that something seriously extreme seemed to be in the works.

Just my way of looking at it.

If we wait ten or thirty years to get the perfect statistical range to create the proper mathematical model...we will already be toast before anyone had the guts to point out that something seriously extreme seemed to be in the works.

To paraphrase a statement from an ecologist (?) that I had read quite a while ago - related to the "syndrome" you describe...

"Our legacy will be that of a species that studied every minute detail of its own extinction but did nothing to try to prevent it..."

That sentiment has stuck with me for years... there are some things that just don't need to be described in endless columns of numbers. It should be all too obvious that pumping the waste products from burning millions of years of accumulated fossil fuels over the course of just a century is going to cause problems... Ballpark approximations and trends are plenty to provide warning. If people continue to want to ignore it at this level then adding several more significant figures to the calculations is simply going to amount to "studying the minute details of our extinction..."

Dead plants and buds ?

Yes, of course, it could be a blip, or more like a momentary uptick in a longer upward trend. I hope it is.

I agree that given our current (non) response to the science regarding AGW, that we will continue to march towards a point where reversing the climate change reality becomes all but impossible.

Similar to Peak Oil, why would we expect anything else? There is not a single mainstream politician in the world (who values their re-election) who is telling the people that AGW is an issue that needs to be properly addressed, by lowering CO2 emissions through less consumption. Not one.

Even North Korea and Iran garner hundreds of times more "serious" political energy - even though they are a complete side-show, and a vanishingly small threat in the scale of things.

But having said that, I would still be really cautious about ascribing too much to the current North American heatwave - in terms of solid evidence for global warming. It may well be, and I could just be the frog in the heating water, but it seems to me that it is imprudent to go too far with claims.

My city of Melbourne endured 13 years of drought (El Niño is a terrible curse Australia faces) - so we built a huge pipeline from an already depleted river system, and are now constructing a huge energy-sucking desalination plant - to make the city "drought-proof". But for the last two years we have had really soaking rains - all the dams are full to over-flowing, and both the pipeline and the desal plant look a little anomalous.

I don't know what the best strategy is, but claiming AGW because of many record high lows, seems to me a high-risk approach. You would only need a sustained cold snap, and the nay-sayers will turn it back on you.

Thanks for the perspective from down under.

I think your story illustrates how we are not shifting to a new stable state any time soon. CC really should stand for Climate Chaos. It's very hard to plan for a climate that is just getting less predictable and more chaotic.

What I noticed about the Jeff Masters anomaly map is how the five sigma area in Michigan is surrounded by great lakes. There was just a report about how the great lakes have lost 70% of their ice cover over the last couple decades. That shift of albedo can have a powerful effect, especially on local weather. The increase in water vapor from those now-more-open great bodies of water can also have important effects.

And I have to presume that these very large bodies of water in the middle of the continent have weather effects beyond Michigan. It is often said that the Arctic is the icebox of the Northern Hemisphere, an ice box now melting. I wonder if the same thing could be said for the great lakes.

In general, if we are in the midst of a very rapid, massive shift that will put us in a radically different climate regime in just a few years (and such rapid, massive, and radical shifts are not uncommon in the long-term climate record), we will not be able to prove conclusively that it is happening until it has already happened.

There are many indications and conditions that suggest that this could be the case.

It is kind of like--you are living in a house, and you notice that there a whole lot of truckers a couple doors down are getting very drunk, getting into their rigs, and driving into houses. You now see that one semi is heading directly toward your little house. Your wife suggest that the two of you should get out of the house (and certainly stop sending whiskey down to the drivers).

But you say, no, the driver is weaving a bit so it is possible that he just appears to be heading in your direction and he will probably miss, so your going to sit tight and enjoy the rest of your TV dinner.

You may end up being right, if not particularly prudent. By the time you could ever be proven wrong, you, and everyone who took your advice, would be dead. (And that would not make it very fun for your wife since she couldn't say "I told you so" '-)

But if your pronouncement prevents effective action to avoid the next truck hitting your house or to deprive the truckers of booze, you could be seen as culpable.

I would rather be the wife that screamed to get the kids out of the house, even if I ended up being accused of 'crying wolf' if the driver ended up veering away at the last minute.

At least I think that's right.

Somewhere,a Republican just said,

"See, the science is still unsettled"

From today's WSJ, titled, "Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again":

CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels will be a net benefit because cultivated plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels, and because warming and other supposedly harmful effects of CO2 have been greatly exaggerated. Nations with affordable energy from fossil fuels are more prosperous and healthy than those without.

I feel so much better.

Do you see what we're up against boys and girls? The PTB are digging in their heels, stuffing their fingers in their ears and going "neener neener", and whatever other metaphors you can think of.

There is absolutely zero acknowledgement of the implications of PO at "decision making" levels, with the possible exception of the Pentagon, at least in the US. After all this time, zero acknowledgement.

This is the main reason that we are well and truly screwed. T'was ever thus.

The boys and girls still haven't figured out how badly they are being screwed by the banksters, so why should they be expected to ever understand PO or AGW?

E. Swanson

Exactly. This is why I feel just a teensy-weensy bit, shall we say, "doomy".

It's not like we grappled with the issues and failed. We wouldn't even confront the issues.

Time for a beer.

CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels will be a net benefit because cultivated plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels, and because warming and other supposedly harmful effects of CO2 have been greatly exaggerated

Sure. Let's bring back the Jurassic and Triassic atmosphere. Just imagine, Hawaii like beaches in England, won't that do wonders for the GDP. Unfortunately the beaches would be 10-15 miles inside the current shoreline.

Unfortunately the beaches would be 10-15 miles inside the current shoreline.

Hurray! I won't have to drive so far to get to them!

We have a lake outside my town, at 42 m above sea. My plan is to buy a sail boat, and when the sea rise that much, I will sail away.


The most important model is not the 18th century model of reason, which is now known to be false. The recent model of emotional thinking is prevailing. The science in The Emotional Brain has held up. It also explains denialism in educated circles of the right wing. Computer models of varying degrees of accuracy are really a diversion.

Climate change linked to EXTREME weather surge

... "That such outliers are mere freak events, so called black swans, is a possibility," they write. "However, the recent clustering of outliers makes this seem highly unlikely."

Chart: http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/03/26/climate_european_temperatures.jpg

Chart: http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/03/26/climate_events_large.jpg

The first one shows a clear statistical trend.

The Age of Limits Conference will be taking place Memorial Day Weekend at Four Quarters, which is around 100 miles away from Washington, DC.

"For 50 years serious thinkers have questioned the assumptions of our global industrial culture and its prospects over the longer term. In recent decades they have succeeded in bringing at least some of the core science into popular discussion, notably petroleum depletion and especially climate change. Through these years proposals have been made outlining the governmental policies that would be necessary to begin “solving” these problems. Sadly, we can now see through the course of events, or rather non-events, that the window of opportunity is closing, if not already closed. We are now confronted not by a problem, but by a predicament; one which has no solution, but only adaptations and mitigation's.

Environmental Degradation and Resource Depletion.
Global Population Growth and Demographics.
Rentier Debt and Growth Based Finance. Global Climate Change.
A world now reaching The Limits of Growth on a Finite Earth.

·In-Depth Conversations With John Michael Greer, Carolyn Baker, Dmitry Orlov, Gail Tverberg, Thomas Whipple, and others being confirmed.

The Age of Limits directly addresses our developing understanding of the core issues relating to the emerging decline of the western industrialized model and the practical adaptations and preparations that apply on the personal, family and local levels.

This is not intended to be a conference in the usual sense of presentations to a passive audience. We will instead foster “Weekend Community” through the creation of physical spaces that encourage attendees meeting and exchanging with each other and with our presenters... in a very natural and beautiful setting."

More information available on Age of Limits website.

Feel free to spread the word to those who might be interested.

Thanks for posting the link. The registration is intended to be low priced ($75 or $85 a person) and camping facilities will be available. I haven't been involved in anything quite like this before.

I am tentatively talking on

"Resource Depletion in General and Fossil Fuels in Particular "
"Rentier Debt and the Collapse of Debt Based Finance"
"Understanding the Limits of Renewable Energy Systems"

Hard freeze likely to significantly damage Midwest fruit trees

The situation this week is similar to what occurred in 2007. A warm spell in March that year was followed by cold temperatures in early April that were 10 - 20 degrees below average, bringing killing frosts and freezes to the Midwest and South that caused over $1 billion in agricultural damage, wiping out apple, peach, winter wheat and alfalfa crops. In an interview with citizensvoice.com, Ian Merwin, Ph.D., a horticulturist who specializes in tree fruit at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., said, "I'm pretty sure this will be the earliest bloom, going back at least to the early 1900s. We are definitely in a very risky situation right now for the fruit crop in the whole Northeast."

So, what did you expect to happen? It's just the flip side of that blast of warm air as the cold air flows back from the Arctic to complete the loop...

E. Swanson

The flip side of that blast of warm air...

Absolutely true, as here on the west coast Winter is not letting us out of its grip. Snow on the surrounding mountains, and its the latter half of March! Chalk it up to La Nina or AGW, but we are getting tired of this relentless winter.


I thought you were from Northern California. Were you here in December and January? Didn't feel much like winter to me.

I came across this; Wal-Mart's Get On The Shelf contest. I scanned the entries for anything that could be considered 'socially redeeming' or necessary. One guy touts his solar powered flower pot, another has his refillable aluminum pens (imagine that). I suppose the "dog friendly fork" may win some approval...

I'm sure that there are some eager Chinese manufacturers drooling over the prospect of yet another product of embodied energy and resources (that everyone wants but nobody really needs) to keep the American consumer feeling prosperous.

I know I do. (Look for some kind of 'product' to create that would be truly green, but also highly desired.)

I don't think mass production or tech are really the problem.. tho' I do despair at the garbage like these 'Solar Pathway Lights' that are an insult to the idea of useful tools and renewable (and well-utilized) energy. They are, indeed what make the idea of 'green products' sound completely hopeless.

Recently, I have wired my LED worklight into a portable, solar-charged setup, and rebuilt my old 90's PDA into it's solar-charged glory, finally adding my little Shop Voltmeter to the PV bucket, where it gets a seat on the windowsill, and won't need a regular stream of CR2032's and their Mercury anymore.

I'm even more excited about the wooden items I've been crafting, handles, switches and such, to be cranked out on little jigs with my treadle-powered scroll-saw and exercise bike sanding station.

Not ALL green developments are perverse, thank the maker! (No, not THAT maker, this one, maybe! http://blog.makezine.com/2008/01/28/exercise-bike-charges-you/ )

Recently, I have wired my LED worklight into a portable, solar-charged setup, and rebuilt my old 90's PDA into it's solar-charged glory, finally adding my little Shop Voltmeter to the PV bucket, where it gets a seat on the windowsill, and won't need a regular stream of CR2032's and their Mercury anymore.

A PV voltmeter? Excellent idea! I need to do that, soon.

For now, my windowsill is the home of a little USB solar charger that I use to keep my cellphone topped off.

Neat! I decided it was cheaper to get rid of the phone, and have seen some of these chargers that I doubt will ever pay back their energy debt. If well built these things could last for decades, so keep using it. At least they replace the wallwarts/transformers that many folks leave plugged in 24/7.

I'm building a little 15 watt (12V) charger out of salvaged 6 volt panels with a 12/9/7.5/6/4.5/3/1.5 voltage selector and a nicad/NmH battery charger. I got the panels from the dump, attached to solar flood lights. The batteries were worn out, but the panels and lights were fine. My wife said I'm being silly since our whole house is solar powered. She felt better after I told her it will charge her phone anywhere the sun shines :-/ Anyhow, it'll charge most of my gadgets and fit in my bugout pack. No more traveling with 4 different chargers. Pictures, perhaps, when done.

'Happiness is PV panels at the Dump!'

I think, especially for small portable panels, the issue is far more about the great advantages in portability that this material can offer, as opposed to purely the energy payback of it. When you're up to 5 or 6 volts, you've got power for all sorts of very useful items, lights and walkie-talkies, etc..

(Flash, your USB rig is nice too. Do you know if there's charge circuitry in there, or is it just sending in whatever DC it's picking up unconditioned? I don't know the USB power protocols at all, for permitting charging..)

Big Thanks!

Looks like a well-thought out device!


$79 for about .8 watt output. Naw.

My solar USB charger was a gift, so 'free' and when I use, I think of the gift giver fondly.

It is a PV+battery system.

Other companies make 12v and 5v USB chargers that are PV-only.

Sunlinq is a brand I have used. I own a 12v/4watt that has a cigarette lighter output plug. Just need to get a cigarette-lighter-to-USB adapter for US$5 or so to make it useful as a USB charger ;)

About $30 and very versatile. Note it is in the shade of my front porch and still working. There are resistors and regulator inside the right connector.


Reminds me of a 20-year old poem I wrote for a class-- about a special automatic computer-controlled-targeting laser that zaps falling food, etc., so that a bib, per se, is not needed for baby.

~ Laserbib ~

The greenhouse effect is a hot topic

And our baby's got a Laserbib

Radio news on dangerous radioactivity

But out baby's got a Laserbib

Unknown species knowingly becoming extinct


Acid rain quenching thirst's life...

Mysterious Amazon vanishing...

Refridgerants causing sunburn...

Recycled plastics discarded...

Dead lakes alive with coliform...

Floating oil spills sink wildlife...

But our baby's got a Laserbib!

And yours can too!

Get one!

While world-supplies last!

Why do petrol prices keep getting higher?

BBC: Countries 'hoarding' crude oil, say analysts

Average fuel prices hit a record high in the UK last week. Across the Atlantic, President Obama is facing mounting criticism over sharp rises in the cost of gasoline. The main reason for higher prices at the pump is the rising cost of crude oil on the global market. Analysts say a rise in the number of countries hoarding crude is contributing.

China is thought to be adding up to half a million barrels a day to its stockpiles.

Hoarding, speculation, holding back production... no peak oil here, move along!

Yes, and when do people hoard? (Unless they're a crazy cat lady) When they think something is going to be in limited supply.

I fill my strategic reserve, you hoard.

And I need what you have - so let me take it so that I might continue. Why must you do this, beyond the guns I have pointed at you? Why this Continuity of Government order I have here. Thank you for your compliance - The Government.


Why do petrol prices keep getting higher?

Funny you should mention that because earlier today on CNN they were mentioning how fuel prices are outpacing oil price increases. It's true, I've been watching gasoline futures vs. oil, and with oil price fluctuating up and down in the same price range for a couple of weeks now, gasoline has continued to rise.


Take a look on the right hand side, gasoline as of today just breached 3.40 a gallon. It was 3.34 when WTI came close to breaching 109. So if WTI is now just over 107, then how can gasoline be up to 3.40?

Could it be the US oil corp's purposefully reducing supply to increase price to squelch the so called recovery in order to dump the economy and Obama, for an R that will keep their subsidies? Keep an eye on the differential for oil and gasoline price as we move forward - I think this will become a much bigger story.

IMHO - Your analysis should be vs. Brent, not WTI. . The Gulf Coast, Western US and Eastern US refineries do not pay WTI price.

WTI & Brent Crack Spreads, versus the difference between WTI & Brent crude oil prices:

WTI Crack Spread ($34 Currently):

Brent Crack Spread ($15 Currently):

The difference between WTI and Brent crack spreads, $19, is very close to the difference between WTI and Brent crude oil prices this afternoon, $18.

In other words, Mid-continent refiners are paying WTI prices for crude, but charging Brent based prices for refined products.

And let's look at the price of gasoline in the Mid-continent in March, 2008, versus March, 2012, versus the change in WTI & Brent crude oil prices:

The weekly WTI spot crude oil price in the first week of March, 2008 was $103, and the average Midwest gasoline retail price was $3.15 (EIA).

The weekly WTI spot crude oil price in the first week of March, 2012 was $108, and the average Midwest gasoline retail price was $3.82.

So, an increase of 12¢ per gallon of WTI crude, from 3/08 to 3/12, corresponded to an increase of 67¢ per gallon of gasoline.

Note that from the first week of March, 2008 to the first week of March, 2012, the price of Brent increased from $102 to $125, an increase of 55¢ per gallon of crude.

So, are product prices in the Midwest more closely tracking WTI or Brent crude oil prices?

I don't think that politics has anything to do with it. Mid-continent refiners are making a gross profit of about $100 million more per day refining WTI and Canadian crude than if they had to pay global prices for crude. But it's a myth that American consumers are seeing any material benefit from the spread between WTI and Brent crude oil prices. US consumers are, in effect, almost totally exposed to global crude oil prices.

Another way to put is that if Mid-continent producers were getting a global price, they would be getting about a $100 million more per day for their oil.

Are refineries changing over to their summer blends yet? What effect on prices?

"Why do petrol prices keep getting higher?"

British media consistently fail to examine & report UK's own plummeting decline.
The reason for painful prices is usually presented as external (hoarding, geopolitics, etc) or domestic but 'only temporary,' but almost never as domestic & permanent (no thanks to Ms. Thatcher's policies):

RickM- that's actually a fascinating article- the biggest event in England for the last two decades (except the financial crisis) is the crash in N. Sea production and the news can't find the story. The root cause of this isn't some big conspiracy, IMHO, it is the fact that energy just isn't "sexy". Think about it, we read about fossil fuels every day- but most find this as interesting as watching the grass grow. When you were a kid did you read about oil? Nobody did! I hate to say it but it is we who are the weirdos in the eyes of most other people. Why should the media care when people want to hear about politics and celebs. Besides, its a scary story- but in an unsexy way (not like killer viruses). The big problems of the day: global warming, overpopulation, food scarcity, resource depletion all elicit a big yawn from the public. BTW- who looked the fattest at the Oscars? The biggest downfall of our species may be that we really can't get interested in anything that doesn't have a face on it.

All good points... I am mystified as well by UK inattention.

But then, I'm not a Brit.
One would think that most Britons would be furious to realize what occurred: a government-encouraged sell-off of the best of their North Sea bonanza in about 20 years (1980-2000)... a supply which might have lasted UK for close to a century.
To add insult to injury, their oil was sold off during two decades of pitiful prices... if a nation is to be so foolish as to sell off its supply of finite fossil fuel, it ought to at least receive a decent return, and UK did not even receive that.

You are certainly correct re. average citizen finding energy issues uninteresting, perhaps because of the complexities of such matters. But surely that is the function of our media/journalists, to provide the public with information which it needs to understand: if the 'story' needs to be modified to provide the complexities, then so be it.

Profits for business.
Austerity for people.
Tough corporate love.

So, they pumped the oil right out from under them, just like in Nigeria.


In the early 70's Britain was broke. They sold their heart and soul to the IMF for loans. The agreement was wide open Oil & Gas extraction. It was actually the Wilson government that signed up but either side would have done the same due to the condition of the economic affairs, but Maggie does always seem to get the blame, because she was in charge after the country turned the turned around and the oil was flowing.


UK Oil: Plummeting production vs media inattention

I too find it amazing that the British government and media are completely ignoring what is likely to turn out to be a bigger financial crisis than any since they have had to deal with since post-war reconstruction. I suppose it is the sheer scale of the problem that is the real problem. They don't know what to do so they are ignoring it - the "head in the sand" approach to danger.

I'm Canadian, but I did some consulting work in the British oil industry a decade ago, and it wasn't too hard to figure out where things were going if they didn't have some spectacular new finds in the North Sea. They haven't had any spectacular new finds, so here we are. None of this should come as any surprise to the government - they get all the data from the oil companies they need to figure it out. Decline curves are not that hard to calculate if you have the data.

It's also pretty easy to figure out that their current energy strategy isn't going to work - you do the math and there's a big gap between supply and demand at the end of it. They need a better plan, and I don't see any sign of one. People in Britain should start talking to the older people who went through the Blitz and the post-war economy for helpful hints about how to get through the next few decades, because the government isn't going to be much help.

As a side issue, the reference to Canada in the article is a bit of a red herring. Canada has an energy strategy, several of them in fact, and many of them are working as planned. It's going to be a bit upsetting for the energy-poor provinces, though, because unless they remove their heads from the sand and start doing some realistic planning, much of their population and industry will have to move to the energy-rich provinces. Business as usual is not going to be an option. Moving is the default option.

Looks like there will be a lot of "new canadians" in the comming years.

Speaking of wich; I have some cousins in Canada, in the Edmonton area. They are doomers in that family, and some of them (they had 13 kids in total) moved there as a "preparation".

Well, Edmonton is a good area to sit out most doomer scenarios. It has lots of jobs as a result of oil sands development, and most of the oil refineries in Western Canada are located there.

It also has large amounts of the best farmland in Canada. Since Edmonton is the most northerly major city in Canada, global warming is likely to be seen as a good thing rather than a bad thing by the inhabitants.

Never been there, and don't know much, but it looks like a gem of a place.

This paper (dated May 2010), while pointing out the pros and cons climate change may have on Edmonton, seems a pragmatic discussion about climate change in general. A warning about climate variability is buried in the document as well:

"Climate Change, Projections and Implications for Edmonton"

I live here. Wonderful city. Fantastic river valley. Lots of hiking if you want. Great live theatre. Used to have a good hockey team.


At least they'll get a draft pic!!

My Uncle used to talk about how Canada is the place to be when TSHTF. I think he may be right. Scandinavia is good to,but you are way better off than us. But I have all my social networks here, and think that is a better reason to stay.

"Canada has an energy strategy, several of them in fact, and many of them are working as planned."

You've made me curious: can you please provide more info, esp. re. oil & gas?

Canada's oil strategy has been to bring the country's oil sands deposits on production. This has involved the spending of approximately $1 billion in research money, which has resulted in booking about 170 billion barrels of new oil reserves - enough for about 100 years of consumption at current rates. Research is ongoing, and there is potential for booking several hundred more billions of barrels of reserves once the technology is refined.

A second feature of the oil policy has been to expose the consumers to international prices rather than subsidizing oil production as is common in most oil-exporting countries. In addition, taxes and royalties on oil production and consumption are higher than in the US. The result is that Canadian oil consumption has been nearly flat for decades.

Conventional oil production in Canada peaked in the early 1970s, but oil sands production has come on fast enough to reverse the total oil production decline and total production is at an all-time high. Since production has been rising and consumption has been relatively flat, most of the increase in production has gone to export, so the country's balance of payments is healthy and the governments have a large source of revenue from the high taxes and royalties.

The natural gas strategy has been to curtail exports to the US. Fortunately the US has had a surplus of shale gas in recent years and really failed to notice. The longer term strategy is to develop the country's shale gas resources and bring down Arctic gas from the Arctic. That is currently being postponed due to low prices and the current gas glut, but once the surplus goes away and prices go up, the natural gas will come on production.

At the moment, natural gas is still undergoing a slow decline in production, but the export restrictions are ensuring that Canadian consumers have an adequate supply.

The electricity strategy has been to use the available hydro-electric resources as much as possible, so 60% of the country's electricity generation is hydro and 15% nuclear, with only 25% supplied by fossil fuels. The fossil fuel proportion would be be lower if the nuclear strategy had worked out, but it has turned into a basic failure, which has been a big source of financial problems for Ontario and the Maritime Provinces who were relying on it to replace their coal-burning plants.

For other provinces which don't have undeveloped hydro potential, the strategy is to use available wind resources, backed up by natural gas peaking units. That strategy is under development and they are still relying on coal in the interim.


You use the term, "strategy."
All I find at the NRCan website is an "Overview of Canada's Energy Policy" with its heavy emphasis on "a market orientation" with its clear focus on "efficiency" and being "competitive."

I see no vision, no hint of concern for the long term. Ensuring that future generations will have a reasonable supply of liquid fuels and gas requires a long-term strategy (not short-term laissez-faire policies) which provides mechanisms to ensure that something is left for them.

If you are aware of a strategy (or any other document) at NRCan or the NEB which addresses our nation's long-term needs, please post it.

What the NEB site says is that the basic principles in the national energy strategy are:

  • A market orientation
  • Respect for jurisdictional authority and the role of the provinces
  • Where necessary, targeted intervention in the market process to achieve specific policy objectives through regulation or other means

You need to read the fine print under Respect for jurisdictional authority and the role of the provinces.

Provincial governments are the direct managers of most of Canada's resources and have responsibilities for resource management within their borders.

What it is saying is that the provincial governments in Canada have constitution jurisdiction over natural resources and are therefore setting the energy policies. The NEB does not set policy, it just coordinates and carries out policy. If you want to find the real strategies, you need to look for them at the provincial government level.

Canada is not a centrally governed country like the European countries. It is really a federation of provinces, kind of like what the US is supposed to be but is really not. So, if you want to know what the national energy strategy is, you have to look at the provincial energy strategies, starting with Alberta's Energy Strategy.

Alberta's Energy Vision
Sustainable Prosperity

Alberta can take the initiative to lead toward a better, brighter future. This is the path that allows Alberta to not only respond to “issues” but take full advantage of the opportunities. We have taken this path in the past when it has been needed. We believe that it is needed again.

Around the world, economies are either proactively managing the new realities, or being managed by them. Alberta has the wherewithal to leverage its current position and prepare for what is coming. This is the path of enlightened self-interest. Notwithstanding the diversity of views on climate change and its causes, it is clearly in Alberta’s and Canada’s economic interest to manage its energy future and carbon better. We can build on our strengths, address our challenges and pursue a strategic approach.

Et cetera, et cetera. There is a lot of reading involved. Keep in mind that the provinces coordinate policy with each other and the federal government. Some have more successful strategies than others, though.

"the reference to Canada in the article is a bit of a red herring."

In what respect?
I said that the UK experience provides "a warning to nations such as Canada, which is about to repeat the same mistake (ie. a rapid international sell-off of its remaining oil and gas)."

An rapid sell-off is exactly what we are doing. As you point out down-thread, we are well post-peak in conventional oil, most of which was exported south. Same with our conventional gas.
We can't extract and export our remaining oil & gas fast enough, it seems.

In about 15-20 years' time, our conventional oil and gas will be on their last legs, much of the mineable bitumen will have been removed, and your grandkids and mine will be looking at what's left for their kids: in situ bitumen and tight gas.

"Toolpush" may be right: the Brits probably had few options 40 years ago.
I refuse to believe that Canadians are similarly trapped.

It's a red herring because Canada has fewer people than the UK but is vastly bigger than the UK and has vastly greater energy resources of all types.

It was foolish for Britain to sell off its limited energy resources cheaply because it has nothing for its large population to fall back on. Canada has all kinds of alternatives, and it is economically efficient for it to sell those resources which are expensive to other countries, and use the cheaper resources for its own population.

In reality, Canadians used up most of their conventional oil themselves. Certainly a lot was exported to the US, but on the flip side, a lot of oil was imported as well. The conventional oil is almost all gone already. We knew that would happen. There is no particular reason to worry about it because we have large amounts of other energy resources, especially the oil sands, to fall back on.

The exports and imports mainly occurred because Eastern Canadians didn't want to pay the price of pipelining oil to Quebec and the Maritime provinces, so it went South to the US instead. That was their choice. The main problem is that the strategy of importing cheaper foreign oil hasn't worked all that well for them in the long term because Western Canadian oil is much cheaper than imported oil.

"Canada has all kinds of alternatives, and it is economically efficient for it to sell those resources which are expensive to other countries, and use the cheaper resources for its own population."

Canada has all sorts of alternatives to petroleum for trucks, trains, ships, tractors & aircraft?
All sorts of alternatives to natural gas for power generation and winter heating?

And we should sell our high-priced bitumen & tight gas (having depleted much of our conventional oil & gas) and "use the cheaper resources" at home?
Just what are these cheaper resources?

If you are correct, RMG, there are no clouds on the Canadian energy horizon....
That's probably what the Brits thought in 1980 (despite the poor prices they were receiving).

Canada has all sorts of alternatives to petroleum for trucks, trains, ships, tractors & aircraft?
All sorts of alternatives to natural gas for power generation and winter heating?

Yes it does have alternatives. Shell, for instance, is setting up LNG fueling stations for trucks on the Trans-Canada Highway from Vancouver to Calgary, and on Highways 2 and 63 leading to the oil sands. It will convert the trucks in its oil sand mine to LNG. This is just a pilot project, but if it flies it may go national with it.

Trains can run on electricity - a diesel-electric locomotive is just an electric locomotive with its own portable diesel generator - and Canada's electricity is 60% hydro, 15% nuclear. OTOH, Shell would like to convert them to LNG, also highly doable. Only 7% of Canada's power generation is natural gas, and it could be converted to something else, but why would you want to do that when NG is cheap? Tractors can run on LNG, biodiesel, or even raw canola oil. Airplanes are more finicky, but I bet you could get a jet engine to burn canola oil.

As far as house heating is concerned, my own house has natural gas, hydroelectric, and wood heating. I can heat it with any of them, but at this point, NG is cheapest. If it wasn't, I would switch. If none of them were affordable, I could go out into the back yard with a pick and shovel, and in about a day's work be down to a high-quality anthracite coal seam that I know is down there, which would probably burn fine in the fireplace.

Cheaper resources than oil that Canada has include natural gas, hydroelectricity, coal, wind, uranium, etc. The most efficient and profitable thing to do is to sell the high-priced oil to other countries and use the cheaper resources ourselves.

It will convert the trucks in its oil sand mine to LNG.

Good to see someone is thinking of converting their mining trucks to LNG. I have always felt these were the perfect fit. Very high consumption per unit, base refueling, high diesel transport cost due to remoteness, and strangely enough in Australia and Canada's case large mines are close to gas supplies. In Oz they are even near to LNG plants, so they don't even have to build the LNG plant themselves,just pull up with a tanker truck or train.

We will see how things develop, but if I had access to the Canadian stock market, Westport must be a standout buy with their LNG and CNG truck conversions.

Yes, Westport is partnering with Shell to provide the LNG engines for the trucks:

Westport to Launch Innovative Co-Marketing Program with Shell

Westport Innovations Inc. (TSX:WPT / NASDAQ:WPRT), a global leader in alternative fuel, low-emissions transportation technologies, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Shell to launch a co-marketing program in North America aimed at providing customers a better economic case when purchasing and operating liquefied natural gas–powered vehicles (LNGVs) by consolidating key value chain components such as fuel supply, customer support and comprehensive maintenance into a single, user-friendly package.

Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will leverage their industry-leading positions in liquefied natural gas (LNG) production and distribution for Shell and LNGV systems and technology for Westport, to deliver a superior integrated commercial solution to participating customers, initially in North America. Additionally, the companies will collaborate to develop industry standards for LNG as a new transportation fuel in support of their on-going efforts to maintain the highest health, safety and sustainable development practices.

Westport's stock did jump significantly when the deal was announced. Note that it is listed on NASDAQ as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange, although I don't know if that helps you in Oz.

"Decline curves are not that hard to calculate if you have the data."

Is this procedure written down anywhere? And I am not talking about the problematic Hubbert linearization.

Unlike Bell Labs and those other wonderful research outfits, the oil industry never spent a dime educating anyone about reality.

Well, many universities offer courses in decline curve analysis to any level you want. Maybe I should have said they're not hard to calculate "if you know how". We had software to do it automatically.

When I worked for Amoco (before it was taken over by BP), our Naperville, Illinois Research Center was just down the road from Bell Labs Naperville Research Center, which was their largest lab. Our guys researched oil, their guys researched telephones.

The Bell (now Alcatel-Lucent) facility suffered badly from layoffs in recent years, and I think Navistar (the truck manufacturer) bought the buildings from them recently for a new head office. I don't know the details. The BP research center is still going strong as far as I know.

BP Naperville Research Center

Bell Naperville Research Center

Well when I worked for IBM Watson, I visited that Amoco Naperville site. The research there was embarassingly bad, and nothing ever came out of it. They tried to do some semiconductor research and pumped lots of money into it but nada.

"Well, many universities offer courses in decline curve analysis to any level you want. Maybe I should have said they're not hard to calculate "if you know how". We had software to do it automatically."

Lot of talk. If it doesn't emerge to help the public, it doesn't exist in my eyes. I don't see anything.

There is an interesting chart in the Economist showing % increase in gas prices in different countries as of February 2012.


"There is rapidly growing interest around the world in hydrogen production using nuclear power plants as heat sources," Khamis said. "Hydrogen production using nuclear energy could reduce dependence on oil for fueling motor vehicles and the use of coal for generating electricity. In doing so, hydrogen could have a beneficial impact on global warming, since burning hydrogen releases only water vapor and no carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. There is a dramatic reduction in pollution."

dramatic reduction in pollution ?

Chernobyl and Fukushima results are not "pollution"?

hydrogen could have a beneficial impact on global warming

And used in bulk to replace oil/coal the leaked Hydrogen will have what effect on the Ozone layer? What happens when a Hydrogen Storage facility fails via war, sabotage, or a "stupid human trick"?

“It would be a more practical and viable solution, at least, for the next forty to fifty years, to make commitments to the safe use of nuclear energy,”

Didn't the Fission industry make such a safety commitment years ago? If the plants in the US of A were being operated safely - why the violations and fines for unsafe operation that happen year after year?

Putting aside whether hydrogen makes sense regardless of the production method, perhaps wind would be a better candidate as, in essence, hydrogen could address the ever present storage issue.

I think it is clear that grid parity will become increasingly prevalent in most places. The nut to crack will be storage.

Not debating nuclear as that has been exhaustively covered elsewhere.

The pro-nuke people have seized upon the idea of equating "pollution" with "CO2". Even some people who should know better.

Could we agree that mercury is a pollutant?

How about other heavy metals?

Sulphur compounds?

How about Hydrocarbon vapors?

Polluting in the event of a bi-decadal accident is a far different matter than polluting in the course of normal operation of the system.

Oh, yeah, and the CO2 still counts.

"Polluting in the event of a bi-decadal accident is a far different matter than polluting in the course of normal operation of the system."

Fair enough (excluding nuclear waste), but nuclear is as of yet much less common than coal, and the results of those bi-decadal events (which would quickly become decadal, then even more common, if nuclear was widely used) are large swaths of land that are contaminated even worse than with fossil fuels, and for much longer time scales. You can deal with a coal plant by shutting it down, but a blown reactor creates a zone of contamination that apparently is so risky we can't let people live in it, much less raise crops, which of course would all be contaminated. Not that coal doesn't contaminate everything as well, but even mercury pales in danger compared to strontium or cesium, much less plutonium. It's been more than 25 years since the Chernobyl disaster and there is still a huge exclusion zone.

And if we DO talk about the waste issue, though it is much smaller in volume, nuclear waste is now mostly being kept in unsafe spent fuel ponds. Even dry cask is considered "temporary", due to the long life of the waste.

Comparing fossil fuels to nuclear is like comparing Hitler to Stalin. I wouldn't want either.

It's a sorry predicament being asked to compare the two, as if one is going to prevent the other.. in fact, it can be said that Nuclear is simply dependent on Coal, since it is dependent on an uninterrupted, 24/7 grid.

Other industries could take a power loss and would go cold.. expensive, but generally not hazardous or laying waste to large areas. Fission in a great many reactors and SFP's is unable to work without a constant grid.. so that Coal pollution is part and parcel of Nuke's operation.

Only Coal could make Nuclear look clean.

You keep saying that, as if the Fukushima Daiichi design was the only one out there or that every nuclear plant out there with a similar design had near as many flaws in it.

Or like it wasn't a huge success given the circumstances.

I stand by my hypothesis that by the end of all this it will be discovered that more people were harmed by the fear of the radiation release from Fukushima Daiichi than will be harmed by the radiation release itself.

Could I interest you in a few thousand sides of Teriyaki Beef Jerky?

Should they reopen the farmlands far and wide around Fukushima and tell us all to eat this beef, milk, fish and rice in a happy, unworried way?

How much damage has been done to people and communities who would have been rebuilding there 10 months ago if it had just been a Tsuname, but now have had their home region Barred from Entry for probably the rest of their lifetimes? From the thousands of pets and farm animals that had to be left behind to starve to death?

It seems clear that none of the real devastation that Fukushima has added to this disaster will be real or consequential to you until it happens to you directly.

As far as fear itself? I invite you to take a trip and go camping in Pripyat for a week. Just a week. Sleep in a tent on the ground. What you don't know surely won't hurt you, so you should be able to sleep peacefully, right? (No Geiger counters allowed.. must remain blissful.)

-- And the point really isn't just about the Reactor Design. It's that we really don't have any ability to handle it once it does really go wrong. What happens when we discover a flaw in one of the newer, supposedly 'unsinkable, double-hulled, luxury models' that are all the rage of the proponents today? What happens when the next one, 'coming soon to your neighborhood' .. blows the wrong seal, or has a bad day?

None of this makes Coal clean or acceptable. It just lets Nuclear bask in the glow of continued procrastination from dealing with the time-bombs we've glibly set up around ourselves.

Radiation hazards are trivial to find with proper equipment (unlike chemical hazards).

You survey the land and open up the parts that are safe.

You keep people off the parts that are unsafe.

Your argument is like saying that if I think fire is safe enough to use I should go stand in a bonfire.

I am sure that there are areas around Fukushima (and Chernobyl) that nobody should go. I am also saying that more people are getting hurt because they are afraid that the magical radiation monster is going to reach out from those places to get them than are actually going to get hurt by the radiation themselves.

Yeah, we'll give everyone a walking stick with a built-in radiation detector,, or shoes that vibrate on contaminated ground. Someone could get rich; lemons to lemonade :-0

Well, I was thinking more in terms of formal surveys, but I could see a market for such devices as long as they had realistic thresholds and the shoes didn't go off if you propped your feet up in front of the TV ;)

"Magical Radiation Monster"

Tell that to all the people with the Chernobyl Necklace.

Your appeal to emotion makes me think your argument is on less than solid ground.

Good phrase, 'Solid Ground'. Be thankful for it. Oops, another emotion!

Do you get the sense that the Japanese Media's decision to cut away from the words of their Emperor was strictly rational, or was that an 'Appeal to Emotion', in particular any other emotion than the public's outrage and an insistence on honesty and justice?

Some emotions are NOT, in fact evidence of a weak cause.. and yet the Japanese government and media do seem to be in an emotional state, and not a healthy one.

It is rare for Emperor Akihito, an accomplished biologist and the world's leading authority on certain species of Gobi Fish, to publicly take sides on any subject other than biology. It is said that his love for the sciences is partly due to the ease in which his colleagues can disagree with him. The reverence he commands in other spheres is so strong that, when it comes to politics, his opinion is considered a constitutionally guarded state secret. His normal silence only adds to the weight of his rare public statements on such matters.

So many Japanese were shocked when TV media began cutting out the emperor's dramatic statement. Live daytime broadcasts of the event contained the whole speech and newspapers printed it in its entirety. But, by that evening, all of the major news programs aired edited versions of the speech without his nuclear comments, which also went unmentioned and undiscussed on the heavily watches news shows. The vast majority of Japanese, who don't watch TV news during the day, missed the comments entirely.


.. so it seems 'THEY' can disagree with him, but it's not a two-way street, huh? That's not rational, Captain.

I have never disputed that there is a hazard, but given the available facts the risks associated with nuclear anything are treated as more serious than the risks from more mundane sources.

Orders of magnitude more serious than the actual risk justifies.

The Emporer's quote (which you neglected to include, so well censored it was):

As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task.

Do you just assume I don't bother reading this stuff?

I agree with Emperor Akihito on this, even given the more serious interpretation, but that does not change my opinion on nuclear power as a whole.

Nor does it increase the damage done to the area or her people.

I have never disputed that there is a hazard,

Anyone who cares can go back to the unfolding events and see that yes, you did dispute there was a hazard.

but given the available facts the risks associated with nuclear anything are treated as more serious than the risks from more mundane sources

That is because when Fission plants fail, they do so in ways that make the land uninhabitable for generations.

Bhopal - one of the biggest public failures of the chemical industry seems to be able to self-finance the local health effects via liquidation.
The sale of its 50.9 percent interest in UCIL in April 1992 and establishment of a charitable trust to contribute to the building of a local hospital. The sale was finalized in November 1994. The hospital was begun in October 1995 and was opened in 2001. The company provided a fund with around $90 million from sale of its UCIL stock. In 1991, the trust had amounted approximately $100 million. The hospital caters for the treatment of heart, lung and eye problems.

TEPCO could liquidate - but that can't cover the damage. The US Government understands the failure risk of Fission and claims to backstop Fission failures in the US of A.

Interestingly - the local land contamination seems to be due to the practice of dumping waste outside the plants doors more than the failure and leaking of gas the plant is known for. But that is 3 (lets just say 5) kilometers away. That is not an exclusion zone, that is just a zone of contamination - a zone not due to the plant failure....just a failure in humans managing things. The Fission plant failures have 30Km exclusion zones.*

And finally - yet again in this series of posts you, r4ndom make claims the danger is overblown. Yet in the past, when asked point blank if you are going to demonstrate this faith in the 'overblown nature' by moving near the "overblown risk" of Fukushima you declined. Do you have a reason you are unwilling to walk the walk you talk about?

* ok Chynerbol is listed as 27 Km Still larger than 5km

And here again you prove my own point for me.

Do you think that all that chemical contamination isn't making people sick?

Do you really believe that there shouldn't be an exclusion area around the Bhopal chemical plant?

The dangers are similar, yet are treated drastically differently.

I wonder how many people have been injured (and maybe even killed) by chemical spills in Bhopal since the big accident occured and dropped off the news?

And here again you prove my own point for me.

And EXACTLY what is that point?

That we accept chemical hazards that are far more severe than nuclear hazards without blinking an eye, yet people still go around claiming that nuclear power is too dangerous for mere humans to handle.

I must admit, I am thoroughly impressed at your ability to deal with the cognitive dissonance your position must involve.

That we accept chemical hazards that are far more severe than nuclear hazards without blinking an eye

Yet Bhopol's contamination issues was found to be from the regular dumping not the failure of the plant.

yet people still go around claiming that nuclear power is too dangerous for mere humans to handle.

That is because such a position is actually true based on observed human interaction with the technology.

I must admit, I am thoroughly impressed at your ability to deal with the cognitive dissonance your position must involve.

*clap* *clap* yet another personal attack on this topic in this thread. Way to show the strength of your position.

Yet the accident at Bhopal killed more people outright than nuclear power has over it's entire history, the further contamination makes the area around it incredibly unhealthy (more so than the levels of radiation reported in Fukushima prefecture), and *people still live there*.

There is no "Bhopal Exclusion Area".

How is that consistent with your position and not with mine?

the further contamination makes the area around it incredibly unhealthy

I don't believe anyone has stated otherwise.

There is no "Bhopal Exclusion Area".
How is that consistent with your position and not with mine?

As I noted upthread:

Interestingly - the local land contamination seems to be due to the practice of dumping waste outside the plants doors more than the failure and leaking of gas the plant is known for.

So I use your sources and still get different answers than you do. I wonder why that may be?

It is stated the contamination level is due to past dumping efforts and not the very famous failure the plant is known for and your position is 'the land is contaminated'? I believe the TOD drinking game has "Take a shot when Eric Blair makes a post about failure in Man's machines." Your question is an attempt to erect a straw man about what Eric Blair's position is. The failure at Bhopol did not contaminate the land like the failure of Fission power brings to the land.

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US

never mind. Going back to my prior policy of ignoring your posts.

I obviously cannot communicate with you, so why bother trying?

VS your normally UN-attributed posts?

At least others are willing to post sources. You just handwave. Why are you unable to post sources for your claims?

Been there, done that. Didn't matter.

So I use your sources and still get different answers than you do.

I wonder why that may be?

For the Rossi curious - here is him talking about himself and his thing-a-ma-jigger.

(A whole lotta non-answers FYI.)

Re: We Don't Consume Resources, We Create Them

As others have pointed out, the denial of limits comes hardest when we are close to approaching them.

These arguments can almost all be cut down by the rebuttal of the technological argument by applying the energy profit. Yes, we can drill more with applications of more energy-intensive technologies, at a lower energy profit. And only for a limited time anyway. Peak oil is still coming.

To be fair, I think he's just arguing that Imaginary Can-openers don't destroy cans as much as they create the food which shows up underneath the lid.

"I cannot tell a lie, father. I didn't consume a Cherry tree, I Produced a dead Cherry tree!"

The remarkable thing about that silly article was how many of the comments took him to task over the absurdity of his argument.

The remarkable thing about that silly article was how many of the comments took him to task over the absurdity of his argument.

In an infotainment scenario, then the article may have been fully successful in it's goal: people read it, and were served ads from the site. (meaning: it made them money)

I was suprised at the thoughtfulness of the comments on that site compared to what I see on CNN. There the average responder seems to be totally without education, insight or restraint.

It's because they moderate comments aggressively there, compared to CNN or Yahoo.

As Nate says...Gresham's Law applies to Internet forums. Bad commenters will drive out good ones.

Many people made fun of Julian Simon's statements, but he was only saying out loud what many economists seem to believe. Humans are greatest resource. Humans always produce more resources than they consume. You could extrapolate this and say Easter Island's, or the Maya's, etc. problem wasn't overpopulation, it was underpopulation. There's no problem that can't be solved by just adding more people.

No Innovation Until We Run Out of Energy

Here’s a little story for you. Once upon a time, one of the greatest threats to the lives of American children was the common household refrigerator. This was because refrigerators closed with big honking latches that couldn’t be unlatched from the inside. Kids, being creatures with underdeveloped brains as a rule, climbed inside them to pretend to be glazed hams or something, and they couldn’t get out and suffocated.

So people got upset about this, as Americans are wont to do when children die and are American, and the refrigerator manufacturers quickly formed a commission dedicated to informing consumers that a commission had been formed. They did not redesign the refrigerators. They resisted any government attempts to force them to redesign the refrigerators. They used a set of excuses that are so standard they should be sold on Amazon as the Corporate Excuses Starter Kit.

•The problem is not really a problem.
•To the extent that the problem is a problem, the problem is not our problem.
•You know who we blame? The victims. If they weren’t so dumb, they wouldn’t have been victimized.
•The problem cannot be solved.
•To the extent that the problem can be solved, it can’t be solved by us.
•To the extent the problem can be solved by us, it can’t be solved by us without destroying the United States economy and plunging us into a despotic nightmare of government mandates and low-quality products.

While Big Refrigerator was a powerful lobby, it was nowhere near as powerful as Big Oil is today ...

That was quite funny. Why do I feel more depressed, then?


That's really illustrative. What, at most, was to be gained by continuing to make the old latching handles? Sitting here for a few minutes, the solution that presents itself is a ball-detent that is retracted by the latching handle. Or not retracted by any handle... therefore requiring, every-time, the 15 pounds of force or less to open the door. Or several similarly passive, less resisting ball-detents spaced so as to even-out the force along the edge of the door while providing redundancy and graceful-decline. Wow, that took a whole moment to figure out. And, according to the article above, they had the magnetic weather-strip solution in-hand. The strip had to have cost less than a cast and plated, multi-part handle mechanism that must penetrate the door.

Without regulation, there would be monuments.

Without any intent to make excuses for manufacturers, the story is seldom so simple. Consider...

The magnetic door gasket turned out to be under patent by GE (US Patent No. 2,812,964). So the cost of the magnetic gasket was not just the cost of manufacture, but also any licensing fees that were due. Such licensing fees can be surprisingly large. IIRC, at one point the per-unit fee for purchasing a license for the collection of patents necessary to build a legal DVD player was the single most expensive "component" in the player. It is certainly possible that for manufacturers other than GE, the magnetic door seal was at least as expensive as the latching handle.

Patented items frequently work fine in theory, but there are any number of irritating (and sometimes difficult) problems that must be solved in practice. A magnetic gasket is subject to a considerably different array of forces than the previous rubber gaskets; getting it right for commercial use may require development of new adhesives, major changes in the production process, etc. At some point down the line, when designing new models, it may be cost effective to incorporate new tech. OTOH, a firm may not be planning to design new models for several years, hence incurs potentially large unexpected costs in order to implement the legal requirements in the near future.

Lots of little indirect cost gotchas can creep into the picture. One possibility (not saying that it actually happened, merely a hypothetical example): the latch plus rubber-tube gasket tolerates a considerable error in the fit of the door to the body of the refrigerator. The magnetic seals are much flatter, requiring that the fit be more precise in order to achieve an acceptable seal. Improved quality-control becomes important, along with the attendant expenses.

One of the problems with capitalism can be summed up a statement one of the auto company big-wigs made. Not a direct quote, but basically: "We all know that we should build cars that get better mileage. We all know that at some point US consumers will want cars that get better mileage. What we don't know is when that will happen. And if my company decides that now is the time, but it's actually three years out, we go broke between now and then. The only workable approach is for the government to force us all to make the change at the same time." Of course, it's rare to hear such statement in public.

Reality is unrelenting, isn't it. Every characteristic of every component expresses itself... oblivious to the engineer's intent.

There were other solutions available, such as the spring-loaded double-roller and barb cupboard latch.

The proposal that any fix admits to the existence of a problem has some weight. A friend of mine owns a bed-and-breakfast. She is counseled by her lawyers to not offer a ride to medical care if a guest has hurt themselves: to do so implies responsibility for the injury. This causes her great distress because, just in the course of living, people hurt themselves all the time and the reflex is to rush in and help, especially one's guest.

That the final accounting was in, specifically, dead children makes the long-ago quibbles operationally monstrous. As you quote, a roll of government is to regulate.

Some problems can be easily solved and the author suggests that's the situation we are in. Other problems can't be solved or the solutions cost much more than we have been led to believe we should be paying. Peak Oil and Climate Change appear to fit into the second category, IMHO...

E. Swanson

Wasn't the car industry heavily against the seat belt? It wouldmake the cars more expensive to build.

I believe they thought that seat belts implied that cars were dangerous; putting in belts made their product appear to be unsafe.

And oftentimes with our crazy legal system, it is too legally risky for a manufacturer to fix a safety issue. I remember hearing that makers of civil aircraft were dissauded from upgrade altimeters, because predatory lawyers were use the upgrade as proof thet the originals were defective! So they continued to supply yesterday's state of the art, rather than today's.

A lawyer in every refrigerator!

Learn how to take on the Lawyers. Hit 'em in their soft underbelly http://bargrievance.net/

This is how it works: if an lawyer gets one bar grievance in his first year of practice, his insurance carrier will cancel his malpractice insurance immediately; two in any one year, no matter how many years of practice, they will cancel; three and they will cancel his law firms insurance.

I've got one in my sights that tried to have an ex-parte hearing by sending the paperwork right to the judge.

Good to know!

They also relied heavily on blaming the victim. They even went so far as to hire Emily Post to help in the effort:


I believe the same was done for fighting the switch to catalytic converters and therefore having to use unleaded gasoline.

Thankfully now fridges don't lock, and gasoline cars have the catalytic converter (for those regions that mandate them).

So in my opinion a mixed bag:

One, good does happen occasionally.
Two, the wins are few, and hard fought.

While playing hide and seek in a Toronto dump in 1960 at the ripe ol' age of 5, I closed myself inside a Philco, then panicked because I couldn't get a full breath of air or get out, and just as I was blacking out, my Brother opened the door, falling out, taking a gasp of air my vision came back. 3 seconds later - toast! What was amazing was just how little air there was inside. Then almost drowned at 14 with my life flashing back, feeling like I was going to God (although I was an atheist at the time). Guess we all have our close calls though.


I think part of the response, was to make it a serious crime for a consumer to dispose of a refrigerator without removing the doors.

We seem to be quickly running out of time/opportunity for any alternatives to 'Big Gov't/Biz/-As Usual' in any case, as it continues to threaten-- or manages-- to take us past points of no return.

Occupy the Machine: An Escalating Campaign Against Fossil Fuel Extraction Begins This April

- That, too, to the industry-insiders hereon. As inconvenient as it might be to walk away from your industry now, it may prove a luxury in retrospect if you do. The luxury of time.

If TOD Site is about 'Our Future', then I would ask, 'Will there even be a future?' (for us). If not, then TOD is, in a sense, moot, from speaking about our future that doesn't come.

Elsewhere on the web, someone else has created a whole page on mass ejections from the Sun and the Fission Power industry.

Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet’s ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more!

The "fix" - $40,000 a transformer for resistors.

And it seems South America has a supervolcano filling at 1 cubic meter a second

'Marketoracle' is indulging in crack-pottery. If Fukishima taught anything about the operation of existing reactors, it is to focus on the reliability of backup generators and batteries. If more money is to be spent that is the place for it and not chasing the impact of solar flares on the grid.

I'm not so sure. Given the possibility of widespread grid failure lasting months to years, I find it quite probable that several NPP's would lose backup power. Who's going to supply more diesel for those backup generators if all the fuel stations are also without power?

It seems to me that the recommendation to "harden" the grid's high-voltage transformers against geomagnetic-induced damage is a sound one, not only for nuclear power plants. It would also be cheaper than beefing up the backup generation capacity at every nuclear power plant, according to the figures given... though the report recommends doing BOTH.

Given the possibility of widespread grid failure lasting months to years,
1) A massive solar flare is not War of the Worlds where everything is destroyed; there's no plausible scenario where the grid is knocked out for years 2) Pressure water nuclear plants don't need backup power for years. Fission power shuts down immediately when the grid fails (as it did at Fukishima). Later, the remaining radioactive decay heat (which caused the Fukishima disaster) drops down into the range where heat is manageable without power within a couple weeks at most, a couple months at worst.

1) Debatable. Hopefully if a really big CME hits then at risk grids will be shutdown prior to failing. Until we get another Carrington type event we just won't know for sure how well things can be managed.

2) So you honestly think it would be safe to cut the power to US reactors if the the fuel was a "couple of months at worst" since criticality? I remind you that reactor 4 at Fukushima blew up even after it had been shut down for three months and the core stored in the spent fuel pool.

Why do you think TEPCO continues to pour in many tonnes of water per day through reactors and fuel ponds, a year after the disaster, if the heat is "manageable without power"?

Debatable. Hopefully if a really big CME hits then at risk grids will be shutdown prior to failing. Until we get another Carrington type event we just won't know for sure how well things can be managed.

Debatable that the grid would be knocked out for years? Please explain how this is even remotely possible. Most widespread grid outages occur from circuit trips, causing other generators to then trip and so on, but little (or even no) damage is sustained. The time to recover is the time to shutdown and perform an orderly restart of generation. Even if damage is done, it can only be to nodes (switches/fault prevention/transformers), and that's replaceable in short time frames.

What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?

Richard A. Lovett for National Geographic News

But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges caused by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once, said Baker, who is a co-author of a National Research Council report on solar-storm risks.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's Cliver agrees: "They don't have a lot of these on the shelf," he said.

The eastern half of the U.S. is particularly vulnerable, because the power infrastructure is highly interconnected, so failures could easily cascade like chains of dominoes.

"Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year," Baker said. "The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years."

Even if the latest solar maximum doesn't bring a Carrington-level event, smaller storms have been known to affect power and communications.

The "Halloween storms" of 2003, for instance, interfered with satellite communications, produced a brief power outage in Sweden, and lighted up the skies with ghostly auroras as far south as Florida and Texas.


A NASA-funded study describes how extreme solar eruptions could have severe consequences for communications, power grids and other technology on Earth.

The National Academy of Sciences in Washington conducted the study. The resulting report provides some of the first clear economic data that effectively quantifies today's risk of extreme conditions in space driven by magnetic activity on the sun and disturbances in the near-Earth environment. Instances of extreme space weather are rare and are categorized with other natural hazards that have a low frequency but high consequences.

Undertow has it right - my father was actually a part of the NASA study-group on the question of grid issues as a result of a massive Geomagnetic storm. Meeting with NASA officials, Military representatives and Engineers from the Energy industry, my father was amazed that for the largest transformers there are no stand-by replacements and the lead time to construct them is well over a year (assuming society could construct them with the grid down). These are massive transformers costing millions of dollars and weighing many tons. If a geomagnetic event of the (estimated) strength of that in 1859 were to occur, and there was not sufficient warning (it isn't clear there would/could be such), the interconnected North American grid would be completely overwhelmed and shut down. As an example of what can happen (from a smaller storm than that in 1859):
"On March 13, 1989 a severe geomagnetic storm caused the collapse of the Hydro-Québec power grid in a matter of seconds as equipment protection relays tripped in a cascading sequence of events.
Six million people were left without power for nine hours, with significant economic loss. The storm even caused aurorae as far south as Texas"

With the very long time (even in normal conditions) needed to construct replacements for the largest transformers, the need to replace nearly 40,000 smaller transformers etc, it absolutely could take years to rebuild the grid.

Such a large geomagnetic storm is a low-frequency event, but they do happen, and will - we appear to be overdue for a very large one based on the known geomagnetic record. Preparing for the eventuality of such a storm would be a very good idea, however such preparation would be very costly, and it is unlikely the energy industry will do so for a low-frequency event.

If breakers trip rather than trannies burning out, it becomes more of your vanilla variety large scale blackout. Heres to hoping for good breakers!

The trouble is, the fault currents are in the GROUND circuit... and there are no "breakers" there.

I've seen a similar thing happen where an outlying building was foolishly fed with 480V Delta 3-phase power, with a step-down transformer at the building. Lightning hit a nearby tree, and the ground potential rise caused that transformer to "fail" in a spectacular way. Like, bits and pieces thrown around the room. And since it was Delta-wired on the high voltage side, there was no way to "bond the ground" to protect the transformer.

Same rise can blow out network cards and modems. Can easily exceed their protection limit. Makes the computer look high voltage while the incoming line is near the regular ground potential. It's one reason why I unplug in storms.


I actually had the searing energy of lightning pass through my very body... sort of. I was standing inside an industrial metal building looking out through a door when lightning hit the ground out in the field. I was looking down at the time and could see the rapid flashing and hear the snapping of foot-long blue streamers crossing the floor from the door frame to my toes. Educational.

Geo-magnetically induced currents (GIC) in electric transmission or pipelines are relatively small, nothing like that induced by lightning strikes. As you say, GIC runs up through ground neutral and onto Y connected lines (or auto transformers.) The problem with the GIC is not the magnitude (~20-30A in 1989), but that GIC is direct current which saturates transformer cores, thus the transformer heats up over minutes or more and can fail. IF the circuit is interrupted in time, either by an unrelated breaker trip on the line or intentionally by the operator (e.g. Hydro Quebec) then the transformer should receive no further damage.

What about the energy from a Xray burst from another star? They happen all the time, but its rare one is pointed at Earth and is close enough to have an effect.

The failure modes of Fission are WHY Fission is a bad plan.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get the larger transformers that are in substations? Many of them are not even made in the USA anymore and lead times are in years! Read undertow's links and meet the real world. These are the transformers that would be damaged in a large CME. Too many people are completely ignorant of how fragile the distribution system is.

Open bus-bar stations.
Chaff rockets.

I wonder how many substations were built before the local area grew up and there is no longer sufficient access for transformers to go out and in?


A friend of mine works for an electric utility in New Hampshire, and visits Brazil and South Korea a couple of times a year to check out production of their transformers.

A really big CME is like an high altitude EMP burst. Every wire acts like an antenna, the longer the wire the higher the potential. If they haven't been protected well they blow up anything they are connected to. That includes not only the power grid, but comms, IT, transport, etc.

Think of it as the engineer needed to fix a new generator being unable to drive anywhere because his car is toast, and unable to use his scope, because it is toast, and not being able to eat (even toast) because the electricity is still out, and so are both the refrigeration and cooking.

Then you couple in the maxim that we are 4 meals from anarchy and you can easily get years, at best, to drag things up again.

Our civilisational system has very low resilience to a widespread hit. Resilience is based on there being an unaffected outside for a aid to come from.

Worse, most of US transformers are old and have already endured lower-stress events, and are frail. Spectrum is not the most august of magazines, but it is the populist publication of the IEEE, who know more about this than most anybody else.


Fortunately we in North America don't have to worry about building transformers as it is so much more economical to outsource to China. And with J-I-T delivery we know we will get them Just In Time.

" A massive solar flare is not War of the Worlds where everything is destroyed; there's no plausible scenario where the grid is knocked out for years"

the CME is only a few hours a couple of days at worst. But if they don't get the transformers off-line fast enough, they could be fried. As in a voltage spike arcs through the insulation. Then the transformer is dead.

The manufacturing lead time for a new transformer is from 6 months to 2 years, the bigger they are the longer it takes. And that is with normal transformer attrition. In the case of a few thousand dead transformers all at once, it's not looking good at all. Especially if the transformer factories were also without power.

Find non-fried transformer the right size for the factory, move it to the factory, then start the factory. Possibly repeat for the copper wire factory, and the steel mill that makes the frames. You might be able to rewind the existing transformers, but that still requires moving them to and from a working factory.

So, if everything went wrong in just right way, then large areas of the grid could be down for 4 or 5 years.

"the CME is only a few hours a couple of days at worst. But if they don't get the transformers off-line fast enough, they could be fried."

And I can see one hell of a lot of pressure brought to bear upon the issuing of a warning of a huge CME.

There's no proof that damage will occur. Our economy can't afford to have the power off-line for that long.

And then, of course,

God wouldn't to anything bad to us.

Sound familiar?

Isn't all this a strong argument for distributed power? After such an event, anyhow, small local power sources would spring up like weeds after a spring rain. Of course they should be there already.

No 3 yr wait. How long does it take to install a diesel or a very good dual cycle gas turbine?

And remember, nat gas is now too cheap to meter, right?

BTW, this is one Amory got right. Remember "Brittle Power"?

And how is that diesel or gas going to get to the individual?

Frankly distributed power is a red herring on this, ALL the electonics blow if its exposed to the induced potential.

So? I think about what would happen right here if ALL my electronics blew for good. I would be up and running in a very short time, using stuff lying around that has no electronics, including all the fuel sitting here and there. Of course I would have to think about which use would be more essential. That might take 20 minutes. I would save a lot more than that time from being denied my precious right to sit around reading TOD.

People are pretty good at survival when that's what it's about. History gives tons of examples.

Frankly distributed power is a red herring on this, ALL the electonics blow if its exposed to the induced potential.

Distributed power would mean more replacement items in circulation and probably overall more electronics that might escape the effect because of the disconnection and also just because there are more of them. So at the very least you are looking at less downtime and areas that would be less effected. Better than nothing.

The long lines of the electric power grid are what generates the high voltage pulses in CME events.

Short lines are *much* safer, so off-grid applications will survive events where on-grid devices would be reduced to doorstops.

1) I tend to agree, but there are always black swans. More worrying is that there will be grid failures due to other events, such as natural disasters or wars.

2) What happens if there isn't power to the pumps? What if damage occurs to the plumbing (like from an earthquake)? I don't doubt PWRs are better than BWRs, but it is possible that we just haven't seen their failure modes yet. They still require active cooling for years, even after "shut down" (a misnomer if there ever was one), and the failure of cooling will still cause a meltdown. And what about the spent fuel pools, which proved to be as or more dangerous than the reactor itself in the Fukushima disaster?

Grid failure due to large CME isn't a Black Swan. It's known, understood, modelled, and has some reasonable stats for likelihood. It's about as unBlack Swan as you can get.

If you want to know more than is healthy about the state of the US grid in the eventually of smaller events, see : http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/geomag.pdf

as natural disasters or wars.

Which is why I framed my reply the way I did.

Are having a bunch of Fission Reactors a biosphere dead-mans switch?

'Marketoracle' is indulging in crack-pottery

So there is no way to have events that can impact grids for weeks on end?

What if the grid impacting event prevents fuel getting to the backup generator?

This is the same psychological displacement that occurs with the idea of climate change as a proxy for peak oil. We look for unlikely events that may be delayed psychologically to the distant future in order to displace our anxiety about imminent fears. We look for zebras when horses will do. Once in a millennium solar flares as a proxy for the real issues, which are plain old, garden variety blackouts due to peak oil in aging nuclear facilities that are decades past their prime. Here's a rather haunting map of what would happen in 100 minutes of uncooled reactor time in the US:


Other options for violating that 100 minute rule include widespread natural disasters, war, terrorism, etc. etc. etc.

It's interesting that the last official war on US soil took place about a decade before we started pumping the oil out of the ground in Pennsylvania.

At one meter**3 per second, and taking a supervolcano magma chamber as a thousand cubic kilometers, it would take 31years to supply that volume. So the question is how long this flow rate can be sustained?

And other questions - if the chamber fills in 31 years, does it explode in year 32 or just spring a leak? And will the flow rate increase or decrease?

I am not a vulcanologist, but it is more comlicated than that. Vulcanoes don't errupt because the chamber was full. They do when the pressure gets to high. Hopefully some of the actuall geologists on this site can fill in the details.

If its a supervolcanoe it accumulates lot of magma, then most of it comes out in one massive eruptions. Normal volcanoes have lots of middling sized eruptions. The mystery is what causes one to accumulate (maybe for hundreds of thousands of years), thenfail catastrophically, while the more common garden variety let off pessure more or less regularly.

Of course that volume is just a ballpark figure for the supervolcanoe class, we can't use it as a predictor for when.

Oops, I was thinking about it in the car, I must have had a brain fart, a cubic kilometer is a billion cubic meters, not a million, so that fill time is 30,000 years. My conclusion, since we don't know the state of the magma reservoir, would be roughly 1 chance in 30,000 per year of the sucker going off. Pretty high for a supervolcanoe (Yellowstone blows about once in 600,000 years), but not horribly likely in our lifetime.

The Rich Get Even Richer

NEW statistics show an ever-more-startling divergence between the fortunes of the wealthy and everybody else ...

In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.

Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich. In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.

The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income.

$80 vs $118,214 vs $5,117,000

Yet is seems that the republican voters want to be led by one of those 0.01% ones.
I don't get it.


It is odd that one of iconic demons of the 80's, Michael Douglas of Hollywood's Wall Street, gets a serious run for the presidency. His days at Bain Capitol are lauded as an accomplishment, no need for an Etch-a-Sketch.

It's funny how many of the posts here are not about peak oil. I can understand talking about the increased cost of bringing adequate oil to the market, and how that increased cost is effecting the market. But, to use this site as a purely political blog, used to say that we should not have rich people, and redistribute all wealth. This is, IMHO, off topic. In the end, if this whole peak oil decline becomes real, none of these political ideologies will save us, because they all require growth. As we have less and less easy energy, we will have to scrap out an existence.

Ultimately, though, it's all relevant.

As we went up the productions slope, there was more and more energy available on average every year to do all sorts of business ventures that got people rich. This lead to the expectation of many that their ship would be the next to come in, so there was little interesting in taxing the wealthy.

As things go the other way and more and more people realize that growth is over and their boat is not going to be lifted by any kind of rising tide, there may be less tolerance for the super wealthy.

I do think that we have to go beyond ideologies of the 19th century as we head into the troubled waters of the 21st.

"Ultimately, though, it's all relevant."

A finite resource sequestered in ancient times will deplete with modern production and use.

If all humans were rational, kind, honest, and altruistic, then the response is scripted by the problem and the problem is well defined: there would be no purpose in discussing otherwise.

Although it may appear quite off-topic at first glance... I think this wealth disparity situation has significant implications for much of the resource related matters discussed on TOD.

Imagine just what might happen if even a small percentage of these vast sums of money were spread about to give people a bit of a cushion in their lives. To be sure - a large amount of it may be frittered away... dedicated to acquiring all sorts of illicit goods but the argument might be made that all that "frittering away" generates significant economic activity and might further the growth is good paradigm.

However, some not insignificant portion of that money probably would actually go to fuel people's dreams or at least free them up to ponder a bit beyond where their next paycheck / meal might be coming from. Maybe it would allow some struggling young farmers to actually have a go at it... it might spawn a million other different types of endeavours - some of which probably contain ideas that could help during a time of transition that we are now heading into. At the very least the morale boost imparted by feeling like your labor actually results in a significant reward versus the system as it now exists might allow some percentage of people to hang onto their sanity just a bit longer... a positive benefit that shouldn't be too quickly dismissed.

Even with all the waste and abuse that would go along with a fairer distribution of the holdings of the "you gotta have money to make money" crowd I would be willing to bet that on the whole it would result in more net positive outcomes for society than having a few thousand people continue piling it up for their amusement...

To me it all boils down to the fact that people who are constantly living on the financial edge are, by and large, in no mood for reflection on large scale topics as complex and important as peak oil or climate change.


people who are constantly living on the financial edge are, by and large, in no mood for reflection on large scale topics as complex and important as peak oil

If that isn't a mouth full. I can't imagine a truer statement. And, as we slide off the other side of this blasted plateau, an ever growing percentage of the population will fall into that category. No amount of existing paper wealth redistribution can solve our pain, because the real resources will not exist. The price will rise until the required number of people have not chair when the music stops. In 2008 the music played. It is now playing again...

I'm afraid its even worse than that. Many people who I have worked with and known socially have chosen, when they had a chance to improve their security, to push themselves closer to the brink. The bigger house, the fancier cars, the third or fourth child. Then they make the excuse that they don't have time to think about larger issues because they have payments to make.

I agree that political rants need to be kept 'reasonable', but I don't think this post above is at all unreasonable, nor in fact was it even a rant.

First, it doesn't even begin to say 'We should have NO rich people'.. and it doesn't say 'we should redistribute the wealth', instead, it's clearly saying that the Wealth is already BEING redistributed, under the auspices of a corporate power-structure which, among any of the ideologies or political and economic systems regularly tossed around here, is the one that is actively and intentionally deflating the accounts of a great majority of people in this society.

To imagine or pretend that the Industries and Organizations at the heart of this process aren't intimately tied into the control and ownership of our energy supplies, and the choices being made in order to set up the future of energy for this Civilization is simply not worth even suggesting.

Money and Energy are tied at the hip, and it's simply disingenuous to pretend you can talk about one and not the other. This conversation has to happen, and this is the perfect place for it.


I don't know exactly where to place this comment, so here is as good as any. I apologize for my above comment yesterday about politics being off topic here. After reading everybody's comments, I realize that everybody takes what they need out of this forum. Each of us is standing in a unique set of shoes. I am happy to read the technical realities of peak oil, because it gives me the most detailed 'heads-up' on what may be coming, and how I may protect my family from it. I personally don't think time is on our side to change human instinct to get ahead. But, that gives me no wright to tell any of you that that is not a solution you can strive for.

Good luck to us all. I feel that in 10 or 15 years, we will look back at these conversations with fond memories.

"Money and Energy are tied at the hip, and it's simply disingenuous to pretend you can talk about one and not the other. "

Sure you can. Just ignore the concern trolls.

I would agree that all the existing political ideologies assume that a growing economy is the norm, which certainly won't be the case when peak oil decline becomes real. However, given that the economic pie won't be getting larger I don't see how we can avoid the issue of income distribution. I certainly would not advocate redistributing all wealth -- history shows us that pure communism doesn't work. There are examples of countries such as Sweden that seem to operate well with a more even distribution of income than is the case in the US and Canada. Modifying our economic system to ensure that the majority of people are gainfully employed and receive enough income to meet their basic needs will be a big challenge and I don't really have any ideas on how that can be accomplished. If we cannot change our economic/political system to accomodate peak oil decline I fear that we'll wind up with a significant percentage of the population unemployed and living in poverty while a small minority continue to be quite wealthy.

If we cannot change our economic/political system to accomodate peak oil decline I fear that we'll wind up with a significant percentage of the population unemployed and living in poverty while a small minority continue to be quite wealthy.

Point well taken jstewart. Wife & I just saw via netflix a sci-fi movie 'In Time'. I won't give the whole thing away, but suffice it to say people spend an allotment of time they have which is displayed on their arms. When the time is gone, they die of a heart attack. People either live in the ghetto or are super wealthy. To get to the areas in which the wealthy live, it costs a lot of time to pass through timezone check points. The poor cannot afford it so stay in the ghetto. Very well written and deals with the inequities between the have's and have nots. Justin Timberlake did a surprisingly good job with his role - his other 1/2, a girl his age is not a very good acctress, but still worthy of a watch to see where America is headed.

If we cannot change our economic/political system to accomodate peak oil decline I fear that we'll wind up with a significant percentage of the population unemployed and living in poverty while a small minority continue to be quite wealthy.

We're well on our way.

In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent

-from above

WASHINGTON (AP) – Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans, almost 1 in 2, have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.


I'm surprised there isn't more outrage. I think a lot of people are still holding out hope that the recession will turn around and the good times will return.

We've been told (US perspective) that it is "about to turn the corner" for almost 3 years now.

The deception campaign climbed to new levels, reaching a frenzy since Black Friday in 2011, and now most passive learners are convinced it is better.

I think if it doesn't happen this year, even without taking another step down due to oil shock, it's game over. Everyone but Idol watchers wakes up within a year.

Note: do not assume I don't want Obama to win.

That last sentence caused a synapse to fire in my normally dormant brain:

Maybe the reason that the Republican primary looks so much like a clown convention is because any Repub politician with a whit of brains knows better than to seek out that job while the outlook is so poor no matter what is done.

I don't think such discussions are off topic at all. What we are experiencing is the result of numerous societal decisions going back more than 30 years to the energy problems of the 1970's. The election of 1980 placed the US on a path which assumed BAU based on the use of more oil and other forms of fossil fuel, including imported oil. As a nation, we continued to build ever more low density suburbs pushing further out into "undeveloped" agricultural lands which surrounded our cities. Many people became richer as the result of this process and the financial types on Wall Street were at the head of the class. But, what's been built isn't sustainable, without cheap oil for transport and other forms of energy.

But, as you note, the fall off in global oil production may be just around the corner and even less will be available for import, everything must change accordingly. The survival of a major fraction of people in the world (the US included) is not guaranteed, so the specter of major political upheaval looms ahead. Those who appear to be wealthy are likely to become targets for people who are at the end of their rope, so to speak. Once TSHTF, there won't be any time to prepare or plan for a different path, as events start to push people into survival mode.

Can the worst outcome(s) be avoided? The old political ideologies got us in this mess in the first place and can't be relied upon to solve the impending problems. There are alternatives which can mitigate the energy supply problem and organized political action will be necessary to implement those alternatives. Trouble is, there are reactionary forces at work that would take civilization back to the dark ages, the likely result being a massive population die off. Surely, discussing those alternatives and the politics involved is appropriate on this site. As long as there is time there is hope...

E. Swanson

I lean towards your opinion, E.T.

The problem with politics is that either opposing voices speak up and, in many cases involving politics, it becomes a tit-for-tat blah fest of opinions masquerading as facts. Or ... opposing voices stay quiet and the following call-and-response affirmations elevate one opinion into a group think mantra.

On the other hand, I too am intrigued about the possible unfolding of our political future in an era of scarcity.

my 2c

Income distribution will play a large role in how different societies respond to PO. My hunch is that very unequal societies will have a much weaker set of strategies. There was an interesting psych experiment years ago where people were asked if they would choose:

A. to have $200 and everyone else has $400 or

B. to have $100 and everyone else has $50

To the surprise of many, most people chose "B". it seems relative wealth is more important to us than absolute wealth. We are primarily pecking order monkeys for the most part. Third world nations often tolerate horrible conditions, even for the rich, because at least they can still look down on the poor who are so much worse off. My fear is that the American elite will be content to let the nation slide down as long as they maintain their relative position. I believe more egalitarian societies will produce a response to PO that is energetic and creative. The biggest weakness in PO literature IMO, is the lack of writing about how differing cultures will produce unigue responses to PO.

It looks to me like this entire site is about politics. In WWII Eisenhower fought humanities biggest chess game with 'fuel' being the queen. I suspect he understood 'peak oil' but he was the first president to do nothing about it.

Once again I cannot find a reference but the numbers are something like this:

Rockerfeller made 50 times more money than his Janitor

Rex Tillerson made 400 times his average employee's wage.

I'm all for rich people - I like being a wage slave where I can (and do) drop out any time I want. The little business owner with the cell phone brazed to his ear deserves the money he makes for being devoted to making a buck, & keeping the equipment working. And I have a skill that makes him call me every year to see if I want a job. If we all get paid, say, $50,000 p.a. why would he bother? Redistributing (eg equalizing) wealth is 'unfair' and very problematic.

But why are the modern super-rich able to justify having 10 or 100 times the relative wealth of the old robber barons? This type of 'redistribution' is sociopathic excess. Is it because their talent is so essential to society? So foreign exchange traders and ball throwers get paid more than the town doctor?

And more important, how did they get the underpaid political majority to back all their demands? Brilliant!


In WWII Eisenhower fought humanities biggest chess game with 'fuel' being the queen. I suspect he understood 'peak oil' but he was the first president to do nothing about it.

I'd say he DID try. The Peaceful Atom program.

Too bad for humanity Fission Power's requirements to operate safely are beyond humanity's ability to implement.

I grew up in a middle class household, and still to this day have a decent income, all things considered. My folks are doing ok, with savings and retirement income and no debt.

But, for what it's worth, I've given up. Completely. I no longer believe in the American dream, at all.
I don't want to turn this into a sob story, lest any out there who are genuinely struggling rightfully tell me to get real and be happy with what I've got.

To be honest, I can no longer keep up. I have no idea how many out there are like me, but I'm sure it's alot. And there are 7 billion people on this planet with aspirations, and not all of them can be a millionaire let alone have a decent existence.

I feel like a sick joke has been played on me, and you can bet I'm angry. So I'm dropping out. I refuse to partake in this race, I'll leave it to the rats out there. I'm human and I choose to save my soul instead.

If the bankers and corporate chieftains think I'm going to slave away to keep this Titanic afloat, they'll be sorely disappointed.

You are not alone in your thoughts.

So I'm dropping out. I refuse to partake in this race, I'll leave it to the rats out there. I'm human and I choose to save my soul instead.

If the bankers and corporate chieftains think I'm going to slave away to keep this Titanic afloat, they'll be sorely disappointed.
~ Oilman Sachs

That's good of you, Oilman. If/When more people act on their ethical resolves, the tides may turn for the better.

Thanks for having the courage to say that Oilman...

In many ways I'm right there with you.

To have been aware at some level of what is going on for the past couple decades has really started to take its toll on me, my outlook on the world, and my relationships...

And same as you - not trying to turn this into a sob story at all... I enjoy an awful lot of my life, hobbies, friends, the great outdoors...

But as far as being a "productive" member of society as defined by the banksters and corporate chieftains you mention, well, I'm trying to find ways to be anything but...

The dream paradigm that the chieftains have created in their globalized view of the world has stressed competition over cooperation and has elevated this ultra competitive, race to get ahead type person (no matter who or what you have to screw over) to the highest ranks in the hierarchy of humanity...

There is no appreciation or recognition that not everyone IS that type of person - nope, by god if you happen to be that square peg person we are going to get our largest hammer and smash you, splinters and all, into that round hole that you must subscribe to come hell or high water. Some of us are just fed up with that BS - and do not think that is the end all and be all of the experience of being alive.

I obviously don't know your situation behind the scenes so I can't speak for you, but I'm going to stick my neck out and disagree with you on the general tone of your rant. I too come from a (lower?) middle class family, born in Detroit and raised in the suburbs.

I'm not sure what you've given up on, or even if what you think you've given up on was ever anything that actually existed in the first place. It's certainly possible to have a respectable and honest career, and to make a decent living without having to sell your soul. I'm just an Engineer, so I make good money but I'll never get rich doing it. I never have to lie or cheat at my job in order to remain employed or to make decent money. I suppose I contribute to the continued use of fossil fuels, but my just being alive makes sure I'm a net consumer of hydrocarbons, and I also realize that my cog in the human machine is such a tiny one that my being here makes absolutely no difference in the scheme of things.

There's always going to be people who get lucky and get rich or end up living the good life. Likewise I'm sure there's always been politicians or bankers who ignore law and cheat or steal to end up where they do - let them worry about their own lifestyle choices. Sure it might not seem fair, but in general most of society plays by the same rules, and hard work and dedication are still worth their weight in gold.

I'm a treehugger, I admit. Sometimes I feel sick to my stomach when I see the raping of the environment that's going on. But you have to compartmentalize it to some extent, there's nothing I can realistically do about the deforestation of Indonesia or the Amazon. I own three acres out in the woods and the devastation going on out in the world doesn't stop me from managing invasive species on my property. I've been reforesting my lawn over the past couple years to bring the forest closer to my house and provide additional wildlife habitat. That *is* something I have control over and can make a difference at.

Last year I added a small amphibian pond, and now I have at least five species of frogs in it, along with 2 species of newts/salamanders. At night in the summer there are so many tree frogs calling that you can't even have a conversation in the backyard.

I guess my point wasn't to try and brag about the nature in my yard, but that these are all small things I've chosen to do that act counter to what grieves me most, and they do help locally. They certainly don't require giving up on society or selling your soul to bankers. Perhaps I've misread your rant, it would be useful to know what aspect of society it is that's worn you down. There are so many different challenges out there, including equal numbers of alternate paths to avoid those which ill you most.

If the bankers and corporate chieftains think I'm going to slave away to keep this Titanic afloat, they'll be sorely disappointed.

But they do and have the force of Government behind them.

An example of this "public need" and their taking 50+%


Now the pythons will have something else to eat.

Who was the idjot who released the rats in the first place?

I wonder what they taste like. Could come in handy.

Edit: I hear python tastes like chicken, and it seems rats do too.

Rattlesnake taste like chicken but it's chewy(rubbery) like clams. Haven't tried rat [yet].

It was an accidental escape from a pet dealer.

They aren't all bad.

If they also trigger the mines, it would be totally super. Release the rats, bom bom bom.

Please. They have a lot invested in the rats. They have to be trained and all.

Exotic animal escapes are a real problem in Florida. Because of the climate, a lot of pet dealers keep and breed animals there. Often in open ponds. But the climate is also prone to flooding and storms, and the animals end up escaping.

After Hurricane Andrew, a lot of pets that were safely indoors in cages and aquariums ended up loose.


In Sweden we have problems with this plant. Comes from Central Asia originally. Can be wiped out, but take lots of work, and once established, they kill every other plant and take over the whole area. Also they are posionos and can make your skin fall off if you get badly exposed.

Not sure which species you mean - there's more than one represented in those photos - but we have a similar problem here with Heracleum mantegazzianum, known as Giant Hogweed. It looks like a massively overgrown Queen Anne's Lace. In the carrot family. It is phototoxic, and has giant hollow stems are attractive to children.

If the bankers and corporate chieftains think I'm going to slave away to keep this Titanic afloat, they'll be sorely disappointed.

But the crux of the matter is that they don't need you anymore; they now have people in India and China to slave away for them.....

"I won't slave for beggars pay
Likewise gold and jewels
By I would slave to learn the way
To sink your ship of fools...

It was later than I thought
When I first believed you
Now I cannot share your laughter
Ship of fools"


Our mainstream money system is based on competition, selfishness, greed, individual gain, instead of cooperative values, altruism, good will...
The mainstream money system destroys communities. It affects everything in our lives...

Outside the USA, there is a worldwide movement to replace the dysfunctional money system that exists-- all the individual national currencies.

One of the biggest hurdles is people's ignorance of how the mainstream money system works... Mainstream money is issued by banks, and those banks have an agenda... they're giving a public service in providing a medium of exchange which we all use-- we have to use-- but at the same time they have a for-profit agenda. And there's a contradiction there. In fact, if you think about it, the banks issuing money is anti-democratic...

If everybody knew the full facts about how money is issued, how it's put into circulation, who is issuing it, how they have power and control over the economy, and over individuals' lives, I think there'd be a lot of very unhappy people around.
~ Francis Ayley, Founder & President, Fourth Corner Exchange (alternative money system)

"Among the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people. I readily discovered the prodigious influence that this primary fact exercises on the whole course of society; it gives a peculiar direction to public opinion and a peculiar tenor to the laws; it imparts new maxims to the governing authorities and peculiar habits to the governed."

Alexis de Tocqueville "Democracy in America" 1835


I guess he didn't notice the slaves.

Funny thought struck me reading your comment.
As people back then didn't "see" the slaves working away in the background enabling the contemporary society to function and the privileged to benefit. So today's society doesn't "see" the energy slaves of fossil fuels that has been the foundation of the massive expansion of human population and extravagant lifestyles.

De Tocqueville not only noticed slavery in America, he was highly upset to see it growing in the most democratic country in the world, while at the same time it was being abolished country by country in Europe.

Still, as the persevering enemy of despotism everywhere, and under all its forms, I am pained and astonished by the fact that the freest people in the world is, at the present time, almost the only one among civilized and Christian nations which yet maintains personal servitude; and this while serfdom itself is about disappearing, where it has not already disappeared, from the most degraded nations of Europe.

An old and sincere friend of America, I am uneasy at seeing Slavery retard her progress, tarnish her glory, furnish arms to her detractors, compromise the future career of the Union which is the guaranty of her safety and greatness, and point out beforehand to her, to all her enemies, the spot where they are to strike. As a man, too, I am moved at the spectacle of man's degradation by man, and I hope to see the day when the law will grant equal civil liberty to all the inhabitants of the same empire, as God accords the freedom of the will, without distinction, to the dwellers upon earth.

Apologies to M.DeTocqueville then.

A lot of things have changed since 1835.

de Tocqueville came from France shortly after the Napoleonic era. After the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 the monarchies of Europe enabled France to revert to the virtually feudal situation before the revolution. An America of yeoman farmers with a seemingly unlimited frontier must have looked like heaven.

He had some great insights into what made America's democracy unique at the time (he originally came here to study the prisons)but his views on the distribution of wealth and political freedom need to be taken in context.

Hordes of human locusts denuding the planet of everything that could sustain human life, vs. a few superrich with the means and resources to defend some gated communities, and maybe even some countryside from the locusts like me.

Frankly I'm rooting for the nobility to be able to defend their holdings from the hordes of doomed peasants as brutally as need be if not moreso.

Let 'em die - even if they happen to be me. Let those who remain and their decendents be cursed eternally with continued existence.

The trend is clear - cash concentrates. Those without enough aren't sufficiently endowed to exist.

Auburn scientists find tar balls are better left alone

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the waves of tar balls deposited on the beaches shortly thereafter prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce a tar ball fact sheet. Among the factoids was one stating that those sticky, coin-sized clumps of weathered oil, though unsightly and annoying, are not a human health hazard.

But new research findings out of Auburn University indicate that tar balls are reservoirs for a multitude of bacteria, including at least one pathogen that can cause life-threatening sickness in some humans.

When a Parking Lot Is So Much More

This article is putting lipstick on a pig to make it look prettier than it really is.

Parking lots are urban deserts which turn into uninhabited criminal-infested wastelands at night. As the article says, the average US car has four parking places (including its home place), but what it doesn't say is that the parking places are worth more than the car is. Parking lots are a huge waste of money and land. This is discussed at great length in the book, The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup.

In the Post-Peak-Oil era, urban parking lots will become a valuable land resource which can be filled with pedestrian-friendly medium-to-high rise buildings that can house people at the population density necessary to make urban transit viable.

OTOH, suburban parking lots will become desolate weed-infested asphalt wastelands surrounding abandoned buildings, and will be nearly impossible to convert back into productive farmland at a reasonable cost.

The caption for that picture reads:

When Randall Park Mall opened in 1976 in North Randall, Ohio, it was the largest indoor mall in the country. The two million-square-foot retail space officially closed in 2009.

Now, all you need to do is age it a few years, and it will be a prototype for Post-Peak-Oil suburban America. The weeds growing out of the pavement will be waist-high, all the windows will be broken, the paint will be flaking off, and the roof will be collapsing.

...and starving suburbanites will be trying to grow vegetables in the parking lots.

Maybe it will become an arena for the Hunger Games?

"Amory Lovins Rocks The House"

Amory Lovins is someone whose track record of predicting the future never seems to be scrutinized. He sets forth all sorts of optimistic scenarios about the future, makes all sorts of rosy predictions, and then when they don't materialize his credibility is never called into question. Just once, I would like to see some of those guys do a talk on "What I Got Wrong and Why."

That seems to be true of many talking heads who spout what the MSM/PTB want to hear. Yergin is the other obvious example in the energy area.

But I think of all the myriad voices who crowed from the rooftops how the Iraq War was going to be a cake walk, over in a few weeks, leading to a loving country ready and willing to give us all their oil peacefully.

I saw the same people who were 180 degrees wrong on this still be deferred to as some kind of sages after Iraq became an obvious fiasco and quagmire rather than being ridiculed and sent packing.

One of many reasons I see little evidence that there will ever be anything very illuminating coming from the MSM on anything really important.

But when Amory speaks, a few businesses get some of their production to be a bit more efficient. When these other bozos speak, millions of people die horrible deaths. Kind of an important difference in effect, it seems to me (although one might claim that many are yet to die in our unprepared-for energy descent).

He stimulates a lot of interesting thinking, and I would want such a confessional as you propose to include a list of the things he HAS successfully accomplished as well, since I've seen descriptions of finished projects that have brought together some very novel combinations.

I'm just a workshop tinkerer, but I know that when I am trying out some odd, unfamiliar scheme, there are often very good odds that I won't make it work right, particularly the first time out.. so my successes aren't nearly as numerous as my failures. If someone asked me to simply throw together a mea-culpa of my disasters, so they could prove that my little successes were far outweighed, it would not be hard to do. Nor would it be that useful to anyone.

There are fresh, bright, bouncy babies in that bathwater of crazy notions.. let's treat them well.

I think he has made many interesting designs for buildings, in particular. He does also take stabs at almost anything else out there, it seems, so there are sure to be weak spots.. but I think we're increasingly in a time when each contributor needs to be valued for what they do well, and not undercut for where they are flawed. Yes, the flaws need to be out in the open.. but too often, they begin to make up the great bulk of the discussion, and we're mired in 'What's Wrong with this Picture?'(or Person), not 'What's RIGHT with this Picture?'. We need to think about 'How can this Help us?', instead of 'How can we Debunk anyone and anything that can be proven to have flaws?'


Here and abroad, buildings represent a huge opportunity to significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But to do this, we need to address the design, construction, operation, and deconstruction of the built environment.

Rocky Mountain Institute's work in the built environment takes an integrated approach by seeking to increase energy efficiency while simultaneously addressing building and community design, comfort, and health. RMI's work on hundreds of successful buildings of different types in different climates dispels the notion that increasing energy efficiency or taking steps to reduce emissions negatively affects economics, comfort, or aesthetics.

"I would want such a confessional as you propose to include a list of the things he HAS successfully accomplished as well"

The problem is that when someone does try to discuss some of his failed predictions, he goes into the mode of spin and rationalization in which he never admits he was wrong.

My issue has always been the things he said about cellulosic ethanol. He has been pushing it for years as the solution to our oil import needs, conveniently ignoring the technical issues. When an influential person goes before Congress and testifies that we can produce cellulosic ethanol at $18 a barrel, that person needs to be held accountable. Who knows how much time and money has been wasted as a result of him influencing things he really knew nothing about?

Here Robert Bryce does a rundown on some of the things that Lovins badly missed on:


Bryce is an attorney turned energy book writer and pundit. In the past it has not taken long to find errors and misleading information in his writing. In this 2007 article after going on about big houses, big cars, and big macs, he states, "Since the early 1980s, the amount of energy used per capita in the U.S. has risen."

US per capita energy consumption, tons of oil equivalent per year
1978: 8.5 (all time high)
1980: 7.9
1981: 7.7
1982: 7.3


2000: 8.1
2007: 7.8

and now

2010: 7.2
2011: 7.2

Even in 2007 the best description US energy per head since the 80's was that it was about flat, even if it is clearly trending down now.

In heaping scorn on Lovin's late 70's cellulosic predictions, he is in effect blaming him for the longevity of cheap oil. Bryce says, "It’s clear that Lovins was wrong about renewable energy’s ability to displace fossil fuels." No, Lovins was wrong about the timeline, the verdict has yet to come in on the ability of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, especially given US ethanol is now at 1 mbpd. If Bryce want's to make a physics and economics based argument about the viability of biofuels, have at it. Overdrawn conclusions about the over optimistic projections of others just puts him in the "man as not meant to fly" camp.

Amory Lovins has some good ideas on improving building energy efficiency.
He is totally ignorant and could care less about transportation efficiency which
is where the major problem for the US lies and also incidentally impacts building efficiency. Given that US Transportation consumes 70% of US oil usage and accounts for 38% of DIRECT greenhouse emissions, you have to be somewhat myopic to ignore
this factor. Especially when the US consumes about 3 times the oil per capita of Europe and Japan due primarily to Auto Addiction.
As James Kunstler, David Owens and others have pointed out, Amory Lovin's
"zero energy" showcase is out in the middle of nowhere with zero accessibility unless you drive or you are a marathon mountain bike rider. His lab for employees does consume energy and is just as auto addicted. Furthermore we know that Sprawl leads to
inefficent heating and cooling, sewage lines, water lines, electricity access than
more dense Transit-oriented development. Besides also devouring acres upon acres of land which could either be left green or grow crops as it used to before suburban sprawl.
On the issue of Auto Addiction, the Lovins' seem determined to totally ignore it and
simply come up with magical solutions like electric cars, etc.

This is the Lovins major achilles heel and it is a very major one.
I suppose another one is while supporting the "Green Military" failing to ask again why we need to waste $1 Trillion a year all told on the myriad costs of War scattered across the DOE, CIA, NSA, Homeland Insecurity etc etc etc...

If you do not question fundamental assumptions you will not come up with fundamental answers!

And again I say, he has posed some very intriguing ideas within the discussion, he has made advances in a number of areas.. and you want to worry about where he's blind, or at least where you think he is.

His Showcase Home is visited thousands of times a day online, and the ideas behind it can be taught and shared and reproduced far and wide. His writings, ideas and speeches are accessible around the world, and anyone, like us, is free to look at both the good and the bad, and decide if we want to pick up on what's valuable, or simply be dismissive of the guy overall, because there are areas where we don't think he's up to snuff.

Sorry.. I find that to be 'Silver-bullet' thinking. Good luck with it. Are you lucky enough to be free of some blind-spots or some errors?

I don't doubt RR is probably right about his views WRT ethanol, and maybe he should learn to be more humble about his highs and lows.. I'm personally not at all nuts about his 'Rah Rah Business and Growth' way of going.. but that's fine. I know where I stand on that question, and I still think he has done a LOT of work on combining materials, technologies and attitudes in ways that makes some very successful new challenges to many manufacturing assumptions. There is simply a lot to learn from the guy.

Just because he thinks there are ways to improve the car doesn't really prove his worldview is ambivalent about sprawl and auto culture.

There will still be cars.. tell me what you envision as some scenario where there is simply NO small, powered independent vehicles around. Just because somebody is drowning doesn't mean you need to outlaw water.

That's a pretty erroneous metaphor there, jokuhl. Cars are absolutely drowning us, by serving as the #1 form of energy waste in a massively wasteful and unsustainable society. So the real question is why somebody would bother tinkering with water molecules while somebody else drowns. We need a lift out of the water, not a different kind of water.

Nobody is saying there will be zero cars, assuming industrial society survives in some form. If we stop relying on cars for every trivial commute, their service as ambulances and some delivery processes might survive.

Personally, I'd say the author of this Lovins piece reveals the secret to Lovins' ongoing "success" as a fake green huckster. This writer's man-crush here is clearly motivated by his "green business" angle. Lovins sells the notion that capitalism is viable and money can be made in reforming it.

I do not contend that there will be no cars or independent vehicles nor do I believe that is the goal of any Green Transit advocates on TOD or elsewhere.
But by continuing to invest in a transportation system which cannot be sustained
to continue to provide 94% of the personal transit in the US is utter folly.
The reality is that Obama with support from both Republicans and Democrats wasted $7.5 Billion on subsidizing cash for clunkers - i.e. not actually reducing cars but simply trading in for new ones to help prop up the car industry and provide tax breaks. At the same time 150 Green Transit systems around the country have suffered major cuts. To illustrate the point in the largest Metro area with the most developed public transit system in the US, New York city and Northern New Jersey: last weekend my family attended an event in Greenwich Village. We were virtually forced to drive because due to cuts in weekend service by New Jersey Transit a train and PATH ride which would have taken 1 hour in 2006 now takes
2 hours and 15 minutes. This is despite the fact that all the infrastructure,
the Morris/Essex line to Hoboken, PATH Trains to lower Manhattan, all continue to
exist and could still provide service in an hour. However in order to cut labor
costs 60% of weekend Hoboken trains have been cut. And to avoid a gas tax to
pay for New Jersey's bankrupt Transportation Fund, public transit has been looted to pay for continued Auto addiction with up to 60% fare increases along with these decimating service cuts.
The total operating cost of all of New Jersey Transit's trains and buses is only $300 Million. The $7.5 Billion provided for cash for clunkers could have restored the frequency of trains, buses and shuttles by 50%.
If we take $7500 million for cash for clunkers and divide by 50 States each State
could have gotten $150 Million to simply run its public transit.

We cannot continue to waste $140 Billion a year sustaining highways and airports at the cost of energy and land efficient Rail. This is absolutely pivotal to understand!

There will still be cars. tell me what you envision as some scenario where there is simply NO small, powered independent vehicles around. Just because somebody is drowning doesn't mean you need to outlaw water.

There will still be cars for the wealthy, but average people will not be able to afford to drive to work, to the shopping mall, to schools. They will have to find alternative methods to get around that don't involve consumption of fossil fuels.

Being short of water DOES mean your city is going to ban watering lawns. If your lawn dies, it's your tough luck - you should have landscaped with decorative pebbles and planted cactus. Being short of gasoline is a more difficult issue because people (Americans at least) think they have some kind of constitution right to drive everywhere. It's going to be hard to disillusion them of that idea, but reality will hit them in the end, one way or the other.

There is a MOL for cars. To few cars, and there will be no one to manufacture new ones. After some time, spare parts become rare. Roads degenerate so you can't use anything but a SUV (they finally gets usefull) and at some time, the last car is left empty by the road side. The Amish got it right.

'For the wealthy' -- well, to some degree. But more specifically, they will be less casually owned, the more pricey it is to own them. There will be businesses that use vehicles as some central part of their work, be it Cabs or Deliveries.. and of course this will be sorted out by which businesses will still have customers, or can still make the numbers work.

But ultimately, I'm trying to say that these Firebrand Predictions that like to take things and put them all in extremes are oversimplistic. And the demonization of someone like Lovins is kind of odd to me. He's definitely imperfect, but he's quite good at certain things.. maybe not ALL the things he tries to be good at, as some of you are claiming, but it just gets to feeling like an Episode of the JETSONs sometimes, where you're either being made Vice-President, or you are Fired. It works good in cartoons.

Lovins and RMI do get things wrong, and he remains automobile-centric at a time we should be far away from that. He and RMI can be myopically focused on efficiency when ideas like sufficiency (The Logic of Sufficiency, T. Princen, 2005) also deserves attention.

But at least he's been spending decades experimenting and sharing his ideas. Soft Energy Paths (1979) sits right beside Small is Beautiful (1973) on my shelf, as harbingers. And his "Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken" in Foreign Affairs, 1976, examined what many were ignoring.

There are newer voices now, with much more sophisticated arguments, many willing to share their work here on this site (and I'm better for it; I thank them all).

But how many of us were writing about such things in the 1970s? And how might our ideas sound to an audience 40+ years from now?

I'd say distribute and share the leadership a bit. Lovins and Schumacher are among those who got us here.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

RE: jokuhl on tinkering,

Absolutely. If our experiments are genuine, some are bound to fail. To respond well to an energy descent we'll need to conduct many experiments (both physical and thought); we'll likely have many failures.

In fact, I think it was Pat Murphy (at Community Solutions) who captured well this notion when he said that we must make a lot of mistakes quickly.

There are so many reasons that genuine experiments might fail that I find it easy to tolerate failure. It's lack of effort that is intolerable.

Ever since reading the Environmental Handbook in the 1970's I have been riding my bike as much as possible and taking the train. I also read "The Limits to Growth" way back then and it made perfect sense to me. But after the temporary oil glut of the 80's and 90's I had put "Limits to Growth" in the back of my mind until
Peak Oil brought it back to my attention. I have read Amory Lovins and always
had the same issues with some of his cornucopian schemes despite his excellent work on building efficiencies.

Thanks for the additional thoughts.

I'm off to make an effort now.. wish me luck!

I have worked with Amory on several projects, and when it comes to energy efficiency he is unbeatable. His optimism on fossil fuel availability seems to be a blind spot, but his strengths far far outweigh any weaknesses. Don't knock what you don't know!

A.L. was here at a "Town Hall Forum" about six and a half years ago. He told everyone about how we would be seeing lots of hybid cars with carbon fiber body panels within five years time. He told us that the Chinese were fast tracking this technology and were poised to become world leaders within five years. The car industry in China was going to mass produce carbon fiber, mono-bodied (frameless) autos and planned to dominate the market place.
These cars would be lighter, stronger and far more fuel efficient than anything currently being made by Detroit.
We would all have the option of purchasing carbon bodied hybrid cars that easily would get 95mpg. 50mpg would be solidly in the rearview mirror by then.

I'm still waitin';-/

That's Lovins' old Hyper Car routine. There were quite a few problems with the idea when he first proposed it, some of which I told him about at the time. The carbon fiber structure might work if the cost can be reduced. There's more to it though, like crash survivability. And, his idea of electric drive motors on each wheel is a problem for comfort, as the unsprung mass would be a large fraction of the total vehicle mass, thus ride comfort would suffer considerably. The whole concept depends on low overall weight and anything which adds weight to the car cascades in the opposite direction as increaseing sizes for electric motors, the hybrid IC engine and batteries. Then, there's the problem of selling them to an American driving public which assumes that massive vehicles are safer in a collusion between a low mass hyper car and a typical SUV. That's not to say that 100 mpg isn't obtainable, The VW 1 Liter car is one example, it's just that his concept might not be the way...

E. Swanson

I have known Lovins since his living out of suitcase days. I have asked him why his ideas, which make sense to me, are not grabbed up by the masses. His problem is that he, a very smart guy, cannot really get into his head how short sighted the average decision maker is. Logic and arithmetic projections make nothing to them, just tomorrow's board review of the books.

Fortunately for the human race, there are others elsewhere who might get it. Then we (USA), are screwed--rightly.

I was just editing my comment when wimbi posted. I wanted to point out the latest about VW's high mpg, which is that the latest version of a hyper car, the VW XL1, is on track for production in the 2013 model year. I've seen reports that this latest version utilizes a new technique to mass produce carbon fiber bodies at relatively low cost.

To be sure, the XL1 represents a techno fix to the problem of declining oil supplies, but it may also be a way to buy time for a serious effort to redirect the industrial economies of the developed world. Things don't look very promising just now, what with the political mess in the US, however, maybe that's just what we need to kick our collective butts into thinking about this apparently alien reality those of us on TOD have discussed to death...

E. Swanson

If someone builds a car that excites the public the way the I-Pad excited computer users, they won't be able to build enough of them. Maybe Apple needs to get into the car business.

Apples and oranges, I suppose ;-)

This is my criticism - when you ignore 70% of our oil consumption along with
38% of our directly caused greenhouse emissions problem then you are basically in denial and avoidance. Amory Lovins promotion of this hare-brained bybrid carbon fiber cars scheme fits with the magical thinking of doing anything to maintain the US continued Auto Addiction. Someone can be a brilliant tactician or engineer solving a small part of a problem without seeing the bigger picture unlike others like Lester Brown who put global issues in context.
Hey in 2010 the Pentagon consumed 5.5 billion gallons of fuel!
But instead of stopping the Wars and cutting down the whole bloated Military Industrial complex which wasted all this oil in the first place we will come up with a "Green Military"! Hooray!
Now we can bomb and kill people with less greenhouse emissions!
I see a major problem with these sorts of excuses for continuing Business As Usual instead of confronting more basic issues in the first place.

While you raise important issues, I think you are missing the fact that most people in the US have no clue about the depth of the problems we face. Lovins has been trying to spread his message since the 1970's when he wrote Soft Energy Paths in 1979. He has had a rather up hill slog to get as far as he has with his concept of "negawatts" instead of "megawatts". Have you taken the time to read what he has written? He was one of the first to trek around the country, giving lectures about cutting energy use with CFL's, long before they became common place in retail stores. I attended one of his lectures at Georgia Tech, the other engineers in the audience (some from Georgia Power) appeared incredulous about his ideas. Given the situation, any progress must be incremental, laying the ground work for the moment when the light bulb switches on for most people and the necessary changes can begin. I can only hope it's not already too late...

E. Swanson

“To the extent that this reversal has been complete, further significant improvements in the unemployment rate will likely require a more rapid expansion of production and demand from consumers and businesses, a process that can be supported by continued accommodative policies," Bernanke told the National Association for Business Economics”.

Row harder everyone, row harder. If we can just consume resources faster we can solve these nagging economic worries. But do not worry we are in a full economic recovery, we just need to recover harder.


Here's the link between wealth disparity and energy crisis. The rich have the entire society held hostage to their requirements for ever-increasing productivity and profits, not to mention their dictatorial selection of basic technologies and product designs, packages, and distribution processes.

Bernanke also muses about the obvious fact that recessions now don't slow down productivity gains like they used to. That means it takes more economic expansion to yield a given unit of reduction in unemployment.

We are nearing a real rupture. This can't last very much longer.

I agree, I feel the TOD is taking on a slightly more dire tone as we get closer to the down slope of oil. The debt levels for industrialized countries are getting near unsustainable. When debt is no longer an option it will be game over for the Global Ponzi. The writing is on the wall with sovereign debt, there is no way to increase GDP while doling out austerity while the price of oil, industrial civilizations life blood, shoots up in price.

I think we humans have room left for one last reconstruction effort, and it will require a WWII-style command economy, plus radical worldwide redistribution of resources.

The problem, of course, is that none of the main issues are permitted "on the table" in corporate politics and media.

it will require a WWII-style command economy

Another possibility is that a new society that has little in common with the existing system will develop organically and barely be noticed by the media as more and more people move toward relying on community instead of government for support and grey market employment instead of the taxable kind.

It's quite possible to have "The System" collapse for those still attached to it while an entirely different, less energy intense system grows up alongside it.


Elgin platform gas leak causes Shell to evacuate Shearwater

Shell is removing 85 non-essential workers from a platform and drilling rig close to Total's Elgin PUQ installation, which has been at the centre of a serious gas leak.

The oil giant said the move was a "precautionary measure" because of drifting gas.

The Elgin platform is in the North Sea about 150 miles (240km) off Aberdeen.

Union official Jake Molloy told BBC Scotland a gas cloud had now encircled the platform.

Total said it was trying to bring the leak under control but has not yet been able to identify the source.

All 238 workers were removed from the Elgin installation by helicopter on Sunday after the leaking gas was discovered.

A sheen of between two and 23 tonnes of gas condensate, and measuring six nautical miles in length, has been reported on the water nearby, and Total has activated its Oil Pollution Emergency Plan.

Came looking to see whether TOD had anything up, yet. A DWH reunion, so soon?

Immediate questions that spring to mind:
- I don't remember anything like this happening before; presumably that's not because gas installations are inherently safer, but because escaping gas tends to reach an ignition source pretty quickly. Is that right?

- If it continues to flow, but not reach an ignition source... what the hell happens? Presumably it disperses in the air / on the ocean at some arbitrary distance from the source, depending on the rate of flow, to the point where it won't ignite even with an ignition source. Anyone got any idea what that radius is? The Shearwater platform and Hans Duel rig, which are the ones they're flying non-essential personnel off of, are (the BBC says) four miles away. Someone somewhere must have crunched some sort of numbers to decide that it's worth the expense of doing that, right?

- If it's a Macondo-type scenario where they will first try shutting the flow down at the blowout preventer, will the vessels from which they try to do that be able to get close enough to get access?

- looking on the bright side, presumably a major gas blowout would cause a lot less nasty hydrocarbon pollution in the North Sea? I hope so, apart from anything else I've got family on the east coast & was looking forward to taking a break over there sometime this summer :>

Best hopes for no injuries or pollution!

Anyone know the significance of "PUQ"?

Also, Total is French and the sector's appears to be licensed by Elf UK. Ahhhh those wily French... if this gets nasty, the British tabloids are going to have a field day with their anti-Europe / Francophile xenophobia :(

(sorry to reply to my own reply to myself; PUQ == "Production/Utilities/Quarters", apparently.)

You can edit your own posts until someone has replied to it.

Anyone know the significance of "PUQ"?

Production, Utilities and Quarters Platform.

View of the production, utilities and quarters (PUQ)
and wellhead platforms on Elgin in the U.K.

I'm just waiting for a website to appear urging that Scotland be evacuated before rolling clouds of gas blow it up and the residue sinks into a giant hole in the North Sea leading to the land inside the earth.



Now Now, I am sure there will be plenty of the end is nigh comments, but I like your humour.

But I don't think it will be quick fix, unless the gas pocket is small and depletes itself quickly. We can only hope.

I have to agree that this is going to take a while. With all that gas you just can't pull up next door and start drilling. What sort of range would they have to drill in from for a relief well? Is it just a pocket or a whole load more?


Scotland held off the Romans, and various other challenges, a little gas emerging from the ocean will be a minor part of history.

The Well From Hell is becoming a big story. Within the linked compendium is this article that provides most of the details. It's possible this could be worse than the Macondo blowout:

In Bellona's analysis, the discharge at the Elgin field is going to be very difficult to stop. When the gas escapes it becomes impossible to get back on board the platform to deal with it. Gas in the water affects the buoyancy of possible rescue rigs, and the water is flammable.

Bellona does not know today how much gas is left in the part of the reservoir where Elgin is situated, but the foundation is sure that this leak will increase in scope.

When gas and condensate coming from depths as great as 5000 meters at high pressures rises, they will expand exponentially on their way to the surface. Sand and debris will dig holes in metal near the bore hole. If the gas is moving outside of the well, it will dig further and further into the bore’s rise.

During Macondo, the coverage provided by theoildrum was superior to any other media outlet. This event looks to be just as bad and perhaps even more complex to solve, and I hope theoildrum editors will do as they did before and initiate a series of dedicated threads. With ever more drilling being done in ultradeepwater and arctic locations, I believe we will see an increase in such events. I'm somewhat surprised that the problems Chevron is having off Brasil hasn't generated more comment.


I know this is a few days old, but does any one have an idea why Obama would want to remove subsidies from oil companies? It seems to me like prices are going to rise quickly enough on their own. Why would a smart guy like Obama want to make a move that would hurt his re-election chances?

He is just playing politics. The public is outraged that oil companies get tax breaks and are making record profits. So he is playing to their anger. Never mind that these subsidies are merely tax deductions against much larger tax bills, or that they amount to less than 2 cents a gallon. This is political theater, and this is his strategy against the Republican attacks (also baseless) that he has driven up gas prices.

It's the Democratic Party's way of pretending to talk about the real issues, which, when it comes to oil, are automotive/transportation. That subject is the goose that lays the capitalist eggs, so neither party is going to touch it.

Huh, I thought I heard that somebody finally raised CAFE back to above where it would have been if Reagan hadn't reversed the Carter admin's last CAFE regulation. Must have been mistaken, after all both parties are the same.

The North Sea gas leak is beginning to sound like a major accident.


The Shearwater rig has now been evacuated 7 miles from the Elgin platform because of the drifting gas cloud. How do you drill a relief well on a blowout when there is that much gas floating around?

We are looking at a major methane release direct to atmosphere.

Elgin/Franklin, an exceptional development

The "inferno" deep in the Earth

Elgin/Franklin, an exceptional development in the U.K. sector of the North Sea, arose from the successive discoveries of two deeply-buried offshore fields, Franklin in 1986 and Elgin in 1991. This pair of neighboring reservoirs deep in the Earth lie more than five kilometers below the seabed, where the pressure reaches 1,100 bar - equivalent to balancing over one metric ton on a thumbnail - and the temperature, 190°C. Never before had the oil industry attempted to develop high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) reservoirs on this scale. And when our E&P teams decided to tackle this gigantic challenge in 1997, many of the technologies had yet to be invented. But with the support of intensive R&D spurred by the Elgin discovery, they managed to achieve their objective in 2001. It was an amazing feat, culminating in the successful bringing on stream of the world's biggest HP/HT field.

...Elgin/Franklin in Figures

Located 240 kilometers offshore, east of Aberdeen, in a water depth of 93 meters.

Production from 15 wells - five on Elgin, nine on Franklin and one on Glenelg - is treated offshore, for a total of 15.5 million cubic meters of gas and 104,000 barrels of condensate per day.

The processing platform weighs 41,000 metric tons and its main deck has an area of 5,500 square meters.


Elgin platform incident UPDATE 26 March

Following a report of a well control problem at 12.15hrs on 25 March on the Elgin Well Head Platform and Rowan Viking Drilling Rig, the operator Total E&P UK Limited (Total), with assistance from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, has completed the evacuation of all crew. All personnel are reported safe with no injuries.

The incident occurred during work to plug and abandon the well, which was no longer producing gas. Total has now shut in all wells but remote monitoring has revealed that gas continues to be released. In addition a sheen was observed on the sea surface in the vicinity of the installations. The sheen is believed to be gas condensate, a petrol like substance that typically disperses naturally to the atmosphere within hours of release. Because of the nature of gas condensate there is no indication of a risk of significant pollution to the environment.

Aerial surveillance, mobilised by Total and conducted at 08.45hrs today found a light sheen with a dimension of 6 x 0.75 nautical miles. The estimated quantity of hydrocarbon associated with the sheen is between two and 23.5 tonnes. Another aerial surveillance flight departed at 1500hrs today as part of the ongoing monitoring operation of the area.

The priority now is to plan an appropriate response to contain the leak and minimise the impact to the environment. Total have established their Emergency Response Centre (ERC) and have activated their Oil Pollution Emergency Plan. A DECC Offshore Environmental Inspector has been present in the ERC and DECC continues to monitoring the ongoing response. The Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) is aware of the incident and is closely monitoring Total’s response.

Lots of good stuff on the Googles, e.g. http://www.uk.total.com/pdf/Library/PUBLICATIONS/Library-ElginFranklinBr... has a map of the adjacent fields, installations pipe and power lines.

Hmmmm "sea 'bubbling' under the rig", according to the UK Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9166853/North-Sea... ...

Hoping Rockman and others might have some observations based on what little info there is so far.

Rock - you about?

Rockman is on his way to Africa :-0



My first thoughts having just read about this, is when you abandon a well, the casing string needs to be cut. It is always a possibility to have trapped high pressure gas behind the casing which gets released once the casing is cut. Normal procedure is the shut in the well by closing the BOP. In this case it the BOP is on surface unlike the DWH which was on the sea bed.

The main problem with this field is the pressure of the formation. It was so high that no drilling took place once on production, all the wells had to be drill first.

So my WAG at the moment is they cut casing, closed the BOP with high pressure gas, the pressure has been too great for the formation and the gas has traveled up under the rig, which you can see in the Telegraph picture.

The main formation has been produced for 10 yrs, and the fact that this is a depleted well indicates the pressure in the main formation must be low, but no doubt there would be other gas pockets that were not economic to produce in the same formations. Maybe this is what has caught them out.

i am sure we will hear a lot more about this in the near future


"Engineers have told me that it is almost certain that gas is leaking directly from the reservoir through the pipe casing," he said.

He said the only way Total can stem the leak is to drill a relief well to ease reservoir pressure and regain access to the rig.


There will be conflicting stories to start with, but this article lines up with what I said above, a hole in the casing and communication from the producing zone to the surface. I really hope the pressures has dropped since the wells were first drilled, or they will be in big trouble.

It wouldn't surprise me if Elgin/shearwater gas in off line until the well is under control. This could have major implications for British gas supply next year, we will learn more as time goes by.

Update 2
From an inside source.
The wells were drilled with 17.5 ppg mud, and had a well head pressure of 16,000psi when first put on line. As I said before, I hope these wells have deleted significantly.

Elgin platform gas leak: Work 'could take up to six months'

Oil company Total has revealed it could take up to six months to drill a relief well to stop the gas leak on its Elgin platform in the North Sea.

The company is looking at several options to stem the flow of gas following Sunday's incident.

Exclusion zones have been put in place around the platform, and Shell has also moved staff away from installations.

Jake Molloy, of the RMT, said the potential remained for "catastrophic devastation".

...Options include drilling a relief well, and another possibility could be to carry out a "dynamic kill" - pumping heavy mud into the well to suppress the flow of gas.


Some back ground to the project, 5,500m depth, 180+ c temps, 17.5ppg mud, 16,000psi well head pressure when put on line. Definitely HPHT.

Good thing winter is over, the UK stands to lose a significant amount of oil and gas stream

Oil [condensate] production capacity of the Elgin Field, which contributes to the Forties crude stream, is 76,000 barrels a day, a Total spokeswoman said. It represents 17% of Forties daily output originally scheduled for March. Also shut-in, 9 million cubic metres of gas per day or 3% of Britain’s natural gas output.

The combined supply outage, alongside sharply reduced flows from Norway owing to a power outage at Ormen Lange, tightened the transmission system.

Norwegian gas deliveries to the UK were cut by some 37 million cubic metres per day (mcm/day), and flows had not yet recovered to pre-outage levels of about 60 mcm/day.

The plant in Norway that processes gas from the field shut down on Monday due to problems with its power supply, a recurrent problem at the site.

also more rigs are evacuated

North Sea gas leak forces more evacuations

... Shell U.K., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, moved 35 workers off the Noble Hans Deul drilling rig on Tuesday, following the evacuation of 33 workers on Monday. It also took 52 workers off the Shearwater platform on Monday; that leaves 38 people remaining on each of the two facilities.

It surprises me the lack of interest in this blow out, there is a best case scenario, that the gas pocket is small and it will bleed itself down quickly. Lets hope that that is the case and we can just all move on. But while we are dreaming we have to face up to the fact that this blow out is going to take a long time to fix, 6 months for a relief well.

Is that the only problem? Elgin appears to be a main junction in the pipeline system for Elgin/Frankin and Shearwater, therefore while Elgin is off line no gas or 60,000 bpd condensate from these major producing platforms. So everyone thinks the worst case is for the gas supply to be off for 6 months, being the time to drill a gas well.

Here are some what ifs, the gas appears to be coming up one of the legs of the platform, maybe it is being channeled there by a pipe or the current is taking it there, hopefully that is the case. The problem I see is if the gas has breached the sea bed under the foundations of the rig, it won't take long to effect the stability of the platform. Now that will take more than 6 months to fix.

The other scenario is, how can they work in all that gas? It would be much safer if it was flared, but once again what happens to the platform?

Due to the massive pressures in these formations and there productivity I feel this will not be a quick fix. If this turns out to be a burst or leaking casing blowing out subsea, then this is the result that many feared on the DWH, without the oil.

It surprises me the lack of interest in this blow out

I turned on the BBC news, not a mention of it.


Yes I did the same, a little yesterday on the evacuation, but that was it. European CNBC, nothing, American CNBC nothing. I wonder when the penny will drop. I suppose everyone thinks it is on the right side of winter, so plenty of time to make plans.

I hope Britain stays friends with Qatar, I feel they are going to need their gas.

There was a link about it on the Swedish Television website. But you seelittleif anything about it on the news.

Apparently, they are saying the well was almost depleted anyway.

Looks like the leak might not be from the well proper:

North Sea gas leak venting from newly disturbed source

A major methane gas leak is under way at the Elgin wellhead in the North Sea, 240 kilometres off Aberdeen, UK. The leak started on 25 March, but according to sources at Total, the company operating the well, the gas is not coming from the gas reservoir itself, but from a newly disturbed source in the rock above.

"Because of the nature of gas condensate there is no indication of a risk of significant pollution to the environment."

Product Safety Assessment
DOW Natural Gas Condensate

"DOW natural gas condensate is a yellow to brown liquid with a gasoline-like odor and consists mainly of hydrocarbons in the C6 to C8 range."

C6, like benzene.

They recommend emergency workers to wear Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).


Benzene can be absorbed through the skin.

Natural gas condensate is basically unrefined gasoline, so a condensate spill has about the same environmental impact as a gasoline spill, which is to say it's not a good thing but better than a heavy crude oil spill - no oil-coated birds and similar problems. The condensate will evaporate into the air after a while so it's not healthy to breath the air.

There are millions of boat engines leaking minor amounts of gasoline into the water every day, so overall the problem at the well is similar to pollution in a major third-world harbor.

There are millions of boat engines leaking minor amounts of gasoline into the water every day, so overall the problem at the well is similar to pollution in a major third-world harbor.

Nowhere near as bad as that. The average third-world harbor has a lot of 2-cycle engines which have lubricating oil mixed with the fuel, plus diesel engines with leaking return lines, and bilgewater pumped from boats with lubricating oil leaks. The condensate leak is pretty harmless from the pollution point of view, but I imagine it would burn pretty well.

1100 bar

I had no idea that reservoirs had pressures that high.

Is it typical, or what is the usual pressure range?

Fallout From North Sea Gas Leak Intensifies

... The total volume of oil and gas shut down by the incident is equivalent to 8.7% of average daily U.K. production for the first three quarters of 2011, according to data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The leak off the coast of Scotland, the cause of which is still unknown, has halted around 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day of production at a time when fuel prices are already at all-time highs. Total said the shutdown could continue for several weeks, even in the best case.

Total confirmed Tuesday that both the Elgin and Franklin fields, which produce around 130,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, have been shut down because of the leak at the Elgin field, which was detected Sunday. Shell said it was also shutting down 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in oil and gas production at the nearby Shearwater field as a precaution and to carry out planned maintenance

Last year's UK decline was not good, add on this year's likely decline...

UK Oil: Plummeting production vs media inattention

The website of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) states, “Total indigenous UK production of crude oil and NGLs in the third quarter of 2011 was 22.7 per cent lower than a year…. For the first time since quarterly records began, imports of crude oil exceeded indigenous production” (p. 20).

1 million tonnes is 7.3 million barrels and is a quarterly sum.

I did this model back in 2005, and assumed no new discoveries (as I didn't have a discovery model working yet). The new point is at around 0.8 million barrels a day of crude oil based on the third quarter numbers from last year:

The models work great if the data accounting is quality. If it's not good quality, then we do the best we can from extrapolating from other sources.


This is a great article I found, via EB, about the optimal layout for cities interested in maximizing passive solar heating. Some take aways:

1. Ancients, Europeans, Mexicans and many others seemed to be much more in touch with nature and the sun than Americans are (we seem tone deaf to nature)

2. It seems like it would take a fortune to redesign American cities around the sun

3. This bridge is going to have to be crossed someday or we will freeze- can you convert an "A" Frame to a slant solar roof? Does it weaken the building? What are the cheapest ways to convert a house?

As the Greek philosopher Aeschylus wrote more than 2000 years ago: "Only primitives & barbarians lack knowledge of houses turned to face the Winter sun."

... and almost all North American Developers!

From the Canadian Passive House Institute's History of Passive House page

Japan censors Emperor...

Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor's Anti-Nuclear Speech

There is a particularly sensitive accusation reverberating through online discussion boards and social media in Japan: that Emperor Akihito's speech on the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami was censored on TV for his comments about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

The 78-year-old Emperor Akihito had insisted on attending the memorial service, though he had been released from the hospital for heart bypass surgery less than a week earlier. While the emperor is technically just a figurehead, he is still deeply revered here. Many Japanese see him a source of guidance in times of political difficulty, which have been many in the last 20 years. His speech was highly anticipated. Unlike Prime Minister Noda, who never mentioned the nuclear crisis in his speech on the anniversary, the Emperor addressed it directly.

"As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task."

...So many Japanese were shocked when TV media began cutting out the emperor's dramatic statement. Live daytime broadcasts of the event contained the whole speech and newspapers printed it in its entirety. But, by that evening, all of the major news programs aired edited versions of the speech without his nuclear comments, which also went unmentioned and undiscussed on the heavily watches news shows. The vast majority of Japanese, who don't watch TV news during the day, missed the comments entirely.

Blogs and chat-rooms quickly filled with angry accusations that TV networks were censoring an important communication by the Emperor to his people at a time when his guidance is most sought.

"Seriously?! They're even going to whack the Emperor's Words? "

Wow. That seems very telling about the power games that must be going on.

It's almost funny how impotent, and even counterproductive their censorship will probably turn out to be in this age of massively paralleled communications. How can it ultimately play as anything but completely desperate?

'You're in organized crime?!'
'We're really not that organized..'

As The Atlantic notes, the speech was on March 11. I did a news search and discovered the speech was censored globally, not just within Japan.

Fail: The problem in 1908 and now is not the fuel, but the lunacy of the notion that such huge, complex, fragile machines could ever be a permanently sustainable means of accomplishing most intra-urban daily locomotion tasks. One of humanity's greatest errors.

"Electric" cars runs on coal, nukes, and NG, after all, and electricity generation and transmission is hardly 100 percent efficient.

Also powerable by wind, hydro and solar, and provide several kwh of storage of these. And as such, they are actually Electrically driven, not just allegedly so, and as such offer the opportunity to have transportation whose only pollution is second order or farther out.

Personal transportation will have to change in scope, but it's not an error in and of itself. Just badly out of proportion. Mass transit will regrow, and I support it enthusiastically and actively in my State and City. No less for vast increases in cycling and ped-friendly urban and town designs. But cars are simply critically important for numerous purposes, and should be built well and to be efficient, non-polluting and durable.

"Car Culture" is dying.. and that's fine with me.
'Tis a mathmatical certainty..' said Mr. Andrews on the Titanic (according to James Cameron)

I agree cars in cities are not especially intelligent but I would take issue with the unfavorable view of electric vehicles (EVs).

The overall efficiency of using an EV (from power plant to car wheel) should be at least 50% greater than using a gasoline powered vehicle, higher if the latest electricity power plant technology is used. And of course, if the power is generated by renewables, there is little environmental cost. Also, let's not forget when cars are stopped in traffic, EVs consume little energy, while gasoline powered cars are still using not a trivial amount to idle.

To the extent society can use EVs, it should.

Here, here.

A couple of notes,

"when cars are stopped in traffic, EVs consume little energy,"

That can easily be 'No Energy' when stopped.. I would say the brake lights and running lights would fairly constitute barely a rounding error, compared to the energy of idling a gas engine, or moving an EV..

And beyond that, when slowing, braking and going downhill, EV's can still be using NO ENERGY, and many can be GENERATING POWER, to boot. The compounding advantages of just those few facts shouldn't be ignored.. though they might be difficult to quantify. But to those who sneer at EV's, calling them 'Magic'.. I just shake my head. This is very simple science, and very simple engineering, when it comes down to it.

I don't miss the frustration that Auto-opponents are feeling as they see the boosterism for yet another kind of car.. but I think we are many hundreds of steps in our journey of 1000 miles away from Car-crazy Culture.. and those steps will include ongoing trips on roads. I think EV's are very useful tools for making those interim steps.

Don't they seem inevitable?

As long as US society hangs together, imo, there will be plenty of EV's, b/c we failed to plan for much else.

Think Eric or EOS mentioned they are an attemp to leverage all choices made based on the '$10 oil embedded infrastructure'.

Being locked in somewhat the wealth distribution issues, the revenue declines, and PO related joblessness it seems to me there are questions about affordability, simplicity, and form. International trade is an issue now and could prove to be more so on the descent.

So it really may have a lot to do whether we are talking about the ability to mitigate on the way down, rather than a new way to organize things. Either way, as you say, a useful tool, especially given where we find ourselves.

Interest in EV's does not neccesarily mean one has visions of BAU. No doubt they will provide some relief. Thinking about what they will be like always drives me to the next frame of what will they carry and in what environment will they be used.

Yes as to "magical thinking" would you believe me if I told you that there
were already the following:

1. Electrically powered with no batteries required
2. Already system guided (robo) with the capability to add capacity without
distance between extra vehicles
3. No need for actively driving the vehicle for passengers
4. Uses 12 x less land than 94% of US transit
5. Has virtually no casualties

It already exists!
It is a train or light rail!

And if you've been in this conversation for much of the 6 years that I have, you'll have seen me persistently backing up Alan Drake's various proposals and advocacy around Electrified Rail and Trolleys and Bikes, or Totoneila's wild and wacky schemes for Bike-rail systems (Spiderweb Riders..?) and Wheelbarrows .. They're all Fabulous.. but there are many niche's these just don't fill.

You don't have to tell me that Electric trains exist, any more than PV doubters have to remind me that it gets dark at night.

I'll ask you again. Do you think that the human race will ever be done with Carts on Paths? Paved, Gravel, Cement, Dirt, Wood .. what-have-you.

Electric Trains are insanely awesome, but there are just continual needs to put individual loads and passengers into vehicles that are going somewhere that the rails don't reach.. and we DO NEED proper tools to accomplish these jobs. This will be some Tractors, some 'Station Wagons' and Taxis, some Apple Carts, some Ambulances, some Package Deliverers, Milkmen, etc etc.

The important question facing society is in what form should electric transportation take? Should it be a pure EV (only a battery), a Hybrid (both a battery and gas powered engine), a plug-in Hybrid or a Grid powered EV or some combination of them? Over the short-term, it probably will be a combination of the first three types, but over the longer-term, from my perspective, adopting a Grid powered EV is the best choice for several reasons requiring too long an explanation.

I resist asking 'Which one?' .. as there are just so many combinations that will have to be tried. This is why I get so finicky when we get the challenges here that pick things apart because 'something is wrong with it' or 'we tried that and it didn't work' .. but I'm also not above challenging the proposals myself that seem to be going simply in the wrong direction.

I find the Space Solar to be unconvincing each time it's presented here.. and noone should be surprised to hear me opine against Nuclear.

I think if we do see a great 'pooring down' of Western Industrialised nations, as it seems to be starting already, then the personal ride that makes the most sense to me is the Pedal/Electric Velomobile. Extremely Lightweight compared to cars, requiring a minimum of materials, of battery storage and motor size.. encourages exercise and health, and draws a very modest amount of juice.. would be very cheap to charge with a bit of solar.

But again, I think the combinations will be evolving as we try them, as long as they're not getting blocked by entrenched interests. (gak!)

One thing is for sure: It ain't going to be a picnic.

That's what so frustrating about the current complacency. The longer the World waits, the more difficult the transition will be.

How far have we come?

The Ford model T would run on gasoline, kerosene, or alcohol, could carry 50% of its empty weight in load, travel on almost non-existent roads, and could be maintained and repaired by its owner with a few simple hand tools.

Does anyone know of any currently produced motor vehicle with more than one of those attributes?

I can run my bicycle on alcohol, which achieves all these attributes; but I guess it still does not meet the definition of motor vehicle. It can also become unruly when consuming too much of this fuel.

You gotta be pretty drunk to run your bicycle on alcohol, police might consider it DUI or drunk in public.

Seems more efficient to back off on the alcohol enough so that you could legally pedal it instead ;)

'Drunk in charge' in the UK. Applies to horses as well, probably a few other attempted work arounds too.


electricity generation and transmission is hardly 100 percent efficient.

Ohs Noes! Not 100% efficient.

The fuel -> wheel efficiency of ICE engines is not 100% efficient - so what point were you trying to make here?

Don't Gut Fisheries Act, Plead 625 Scientists

Tories plan to stop protecting waterways with fish deemed to lack 'economic, cultural or ecological value.'

Schindler and other scientists compared the division of fish into valuable and non-valuable species to the wildlife equivalent of eugenics, the Nazi idea that some humans are more racially fit than others.

"It's exactly like eugenics," said Schindler. "It's a stupid idea. What do they think all these commercially important fish eat? Did they ask the fish who is fit and unfit and which fish is of ecological value? They should just scratch this wording out and improve the act, not gut it."

Schindler's work on acid rain, nutrient pollution and oil sands water contamination has prompted major public policy changes in North American and Europe.

John Smol, an award-winning lake biologist at Queen's University says the proposed changes are unbelievable if not shocking.

"It's a disconnect with science. Minnows are a part of the food chain. So what is an ecologically significant fish?"

...and why do they want to gut the Fisheries Act?

Tar Sands and Mining

Lake Killing Made Easy

How healthy wild lakes are being reclassified as 'tailings impoundment areas.'

Since 2006, the Harper government has used Schedule 2 to sanction the destruction of no less than eight healthy, wild lakes or water bodies, and grandfathered another six already-polluted ones. Mining companies stand to gain enormous cost savings via Schedule 2 "exceptions." No need to build expensive tailings containments from scratch if the government will let you just dump your industrial waste in a nearby lake and be done with it.

Bizarrely, the mining industry would have Canadians believe that purposely destroying pure Canadian lakes is somehow environmentally responsible. Natural lakes make "safer" containments, they argue, than any structure they could build. This cynical doublespeak merely clouds the ugly truth -- that Schedule 2 is a quick and dirty means to profit.

Thanks for posting that.

Sick. Just sick.

I think those two links don't go where they're supposed to. The first should probably be:
Don't Gut Fisheries Act, Plead 625 Scientists

And the second should be:
Lake Killing Made Easy

I don't know if The Tyee would be my first choice for informed commentary since it's a typically Left Coast treehugger publication. It tends to be heavily anti-business.

Anyhow, the second article has nothing to do with the oil sands since it's in reference to the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations under which metal mines apparently can dump tailings into lakes. Not so oil sands mines.

Oil sands tailing ponds are regulated by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board under Directive 74: Tailings Performance Criteria and Requirements for Oil Sands Mining Schemes, which is considerably tougher.

Regardless of what the federal government allows, I don't think the Alberta provincial government would let anybody dump tailings into a lake. The provinces can always pass tougher laws than the federal government if they want to, you know. They have constitutional authority over natural resources.

The first article is referring to proposed changes in the Fisheries Act. The Conservative federal government is currently trying to cut costs by eliminating duplication between departments, so instead of both the National Energy Board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reviewing projects involving both energy and noncommercial fish (resulting in two or more independent sets of hearings), only the NEB will. The DFO will only review projects involving commercial fisheries.

Again, the provincial governments are also reviewing a lot of the same projects if they involve freshwater fish, and the provinces can pass tougher laws if they want. There is a lot of duplication in places.


Thanks for correcting the links. Thought I checked them before posting

I put both articles up there because they are both an indication of the kind of legislative changes that are to be expected from the present government.

The first article is referring to proposed changes in the Fisheries Act. The Conservative federal government is currently trying to cut costs by eliminating duplication between departments, so instead of both the National Energy Board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reviewing projects involving both energy and noncommercial fish (resulting in two or more independent sets of hearings), only the NEB will. The DFO will only review projects involving commercial fisheries.

What can one say, except to point out that the NEB is a captured regulator.

I don't know if The Tyee would be my first choice for informed commentary since it's a typically Left Coast treehugger publication. It tends to be heavily anti-business.

As for questioning the quality of journalism at The Tyee? Well it's hard to find independent journalism in Canada anymore because of corporate media consolidation, The Tyee is an independent voice with good journalistic chops. And yeah they aren't pro-business, should they be?.

As well, to imply that this is poor quality journalism given Andrew Nikiforuk is the journalist that wrote the Fisheries Act article is reaching.

Andrew Nikiforuk

Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years and cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability, and cumulative impacts. He has won seven National Magazine Awards for his journalism since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists.

Andrew has also published several books. The dramatic, Alberta-based Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, won the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction in 2002. Pandemonium, which examines the impact of global trade on disease exchanges, received widespread national acclaim. The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, which considers the world’s largest energy project, was a national bestseller and won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and was listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence In Reporting on the Environment. Andrew's latest book, Empire of the Beetle, a startling look at pine beetles and the world’s most powerful landscape changer, was nominated for the Governor General’s award for Non-Fiction in 2011.


Andrew (not Nikiforuk)

I wouldn't describe the NEB as a "captured regulator", I would describe them as "obsessed with paperwork" like most bureaucrats. Most of them do seem to know what they are doing, though. The government just wants them to do it faster.

I have read a number of books by Andrew Nikiforuk and in fact I've got one in my reading pile at the moment called Empire of the Beetle - How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests. Andrew tends to be too much on the sensationalistic side for my tastes, and his fact checking is not exactly stellar. His books are riddled with errors.

That reminds me, I need to get some new anti-beetle pheromone patches for my pine trees since the weather was not cold enough to kill the mountain pine beetles this winter. They'll be out in force this year.

According to Zfacts.com, today the US debt exceeds $15.6 trillion. The debt to GDP ratio exceeds 100%.

A good chunk of that is owed to SS and Medicare, so whenever it's convenient they "forget" about that portion so they can understate the debt to GDP ratio.


Thinking about the unthinkable, a U.S. government study analyzed the likely effects from terrorists setting off a 10-kiloton nuclear device a few blocks north of the White House.

The unthinkable? 10 kiloton? Did these people miss the development part of the bomb that included the part when they became thermo-nuclear devices? Try 10 megatons and let us know how much of DC is left? Now that's unthinkable, although starting from scratch doesn't sound so bad.

That news story is a feel good story by the govt. to say, "The worst that can happen folks could at worse only affect a few blocks. Sleep tight now." Barf!

Thermo-nuclear devices are assumed to be too complex for a terrorist cell to build, even if they got all the materials.

A gun type fission only device is much more conceivable. And there is an upper limit to how big you can build one of that design. I did think it was over 10 kt, but perhaps they are thinking the terrorist/rogue nation will want simple rather than efficient, and will not want to telegraph their intent with a few test-firings.

From an item linked on Drudge:

Gas Prices Expected To Continue Rising This Spring

“When is it going to get down? When will the happy days come back?” said Mohammad Naqibuddin, driver.

When is it going to get down?

When someone stops using so much gas, the rest will get a break. 2008 redux. Somebody needs to move back in with momma.

For those who like data, I ran across this site which monitors lake levels of various lakes around the US. Great Lakes not included.

A brief scan though the data indicates that the majority are below summer levels as of last update, Feb 16th.

Lake Kerr in Virginia really appears to be struggling.

EDIT : levels measured in Feet MSL - feet above Mean Sea Level

These look like reservoirs, not true lakes. The levels in reservoirs are driven largely by whomever controls the dam.

"The levels in reservoirs are driven largely by whomever controls the dam."

...and crude oil availability is driven by oil companies.

A reservoir also has to fill. With demand ever on the rise, it seems to be rather difficult to maintain optimum levels. Whether from too much draining at the bottom, or not enough filling at the top, the end result is still falling levels.

EDIT : does this visual qualify to be added to the "glass of soda + ice" metaphor for Peak Oil ?

We often discuss the implications of a failure to address what could be a perfect storm of our failures to address the many predicaments continuing to play out globally. We list them often here as if quantifying various limits to growth will somehow limit their effects.

Haiti may be a realtime example of where many societies are heading. Despite billions of dollars of foreign aid and thousands of aid workers on the ground, the Cholera epidemic there is going into its third year. These things are well understood, and were anticipated:

In Haiti, Bureaucratic Delays Stall Mass Cholera Vaccinations

A hundred thousand people in Haiti are ready and waiting to get vaccinated against cholera.

The vaccine is sitting in coolers. Vaccination teams are all trained. Willing recipients are registered and entered into databases.

The impending mass vaccination project aims to show that vaccinating against cholera is feasible in Haiti. It's never been done in the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic. So far, more than 530,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and over 7,000 have died...

More here.

The problem, of course, is basic sanitation and clean drinking water. Three years into this disaster and the combined efforts of thousands of highly qualified aid workers have been unable to solve these fundamental problems. I suppose that we, in the developed west, think we are somehow immune to this sort of consequence as things fall apart and folks migrate to urban centers at the same time that basic services become inadequate due to financial and physical neglect, and as the clueless bureaucrats struggle to cope with the lack of resources.

It's clear that the well developed hubris of a long-coddled populace limits consideration of these consequences to a relatively paranoid few. The scale of what is required to maintain our level of basic services is lost to the majority, especially in the US. After all, Haiti is just some small third-world country that got hit by an earthquake.

All the King's horses,
All the kings men....

Welcome to Humpty Dumpty land :-0

A quick update on the City of Summerside's municipal utility operations:

MacDougall said the wind farm has been a true asset for the community.

“It’s a great project,” he said. “It’s provided additional revenue for the city and we would probably be in dire straits now without that.”

MacDougall said the city has had 50 per cent of its energy generated from the wind farm, resulting in substantial cost savings and for 23 per cent of the time, all of the city’s energy needs are coming from wind power.

See: http://www.journalpioneer.com/News/Local/2012-03-26/article-2940008/Summ...

These revenues will reportedly allow the municipality to be debt-free within the next fifteen years, and ongoing expansion of their smart grid and ETS programme will help displace even more fuel oil demand in years to come (presently, wind powered ETS heating is roughly one-half the cost of oil heat).

Prince Edward Island has 164 MW of installed wind capacity and another 10 MW currently under construction; peak provincial demand which occurs in winter when wind resources are generally strongest is approximately 220 MW. Some folks will have you believe that wind power in the Maritimes is a less than stellar proposition, but with today's winds in excess of 50 kph and guts topping 75 kph I beg to differ.

Addendum: Another 31.5 MW of wind capacity has been added to Nova Scotia's renewable energy portfolio with the doubling of Sprott Power wind farm near Amherst. That brings our province's total wind generating capacity to 317MW (average provincial demand is approximately 1,350 MW). Phase One of this project is said to have generated 114 GWh last year which puts its annual capacity factor at just over 41 per cent -- not too shabby as these things go. This IPP, one of several operating in the province, has another 40 MW wind farm currently under construction in the Annapolis Valley and is expanding their Cape Breton operations as well (source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/78069-sprott-s-wind-farm-amherst-a...). With provincial electrical demand expected to fall 1 to 2 per cent per annum through various DSM initiatives, wind's share continuing to grow year by year and the Lower Churchill Falls coming on stream come 2017, our province's dependency on coal will be broken once and for all.



Sweden sets new all time high price at the pump. 16 kronor / litre was breached today for the first time ever at a swedish gas station. 15 kr/l was breached earlier this year.

So, about $9 per gallon?


Now this was just one station beeing 3 öre above the line. But prices always climb in the summer, so 18 kr/l before the summer price peak is over will not surprice me. Unless there is another economic crash, but I have the gut feeling of more of a slow down than a crash.


New records also in neighbouring Finland, over 1.7 euros/litre for the first time. (8.56 dollars per gallon)

Didn't realize Oz needed a lesson in 'democracy'

U.S., Australia to broaden military ties amid Pentagon pivot to SE Asia

The United States and Australia are planning a major expansion of military ties, including possible drone flights from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports, as the Pentagon looks to shift its forces closer to Southeast Asia, officials from both countries said. This would come on top of an agreement announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November to deploy up to 2,500 U.S. Marines to Darwin, on Australia’s northern coast.

The first company of about 250 US marines is due to arrive in Darwin within days.

also US seeks deeper military ties

and why is the U.S. sending troops to AU ...

from the Australian Defence Force Posture Review: Key Findings

... Deloitte Access Economics’ Investment Monitor shows a very large value of resources projects currently under construction or committed. In total, $380.5 billion of resource projects are currently shown within the Investment Monitor database. Of this amount, about 39% ($147 billion) are definite, i.e. ‘under construction’ or ‘committed’; 47% ($179 billion) are under active investigation for a decision in the reasonably near future, i.e. in the ‘under consideration’ category; and 14% ($55 billion) are in the ‘possible’ category.

Within resources investment, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the current wonder child. By value some 56% of all resources projects in the Investment Monitor database at present are LNG projects. Outside of oil and gas, resource projects underway are led very much by iron ore projects in Western Australia.

Evidence from the ABS CAPEX Survey, the Federal Treasury, and the Reserve Bank of Australia are consistent and, like Deloitte Access Economics’ Investment Monitor, point to a surge in mining investment in the next two years.

... The key question for Australian miners is how quickly they can expand operations to increase exports before commodity prices fall. [?]

... Defence [needs to] develop a greater presence in Western Australia and the North-West to reflect geopolitical and economic realities of the region. Defence [needs to] to have a greater role in the protection of critical infrastructure in the North-West, particularly with regard to the increasing economic importance of the Pilbara on-shore and off-shore facilities.

also Australian Defence Force Posture Review

... at least we won't need to teach the locals 'english'

I'm sure we'll follow the [Monty Python] rules

Rule 1: No poofters.
Rule 2: No member of the faculty is to maltreat the "Abbos" in any way whatsoever—if there's anyone watching.

Kazakhstan sounds alarm over dying Caspian seals

The Kazakhstan government and environmentalists Tuesday sounded the alarm over the declining numbers of endangered Caspian seals after 35 animals were found dead over the weekend.

... The species is threatened by various human activities, including drilling in the North Caspian Sea, specifically in the Kashagan oil field, he said.

"The development includes building artificial islands right in the area where the species give birth," he said.

From the Canadian Passive Haus link in this Drumbeat:

As the Greek philosopher Aeschylus wrote more than 2000 years ago: "Only primitives & barbarians lack knowledge of houses turned to face the Winter sun."

A fine quote for the little right hand quote box on TOD.

What philosopher? Is that just a made up quote of a made up philosopher?

There is a reference to the original source on this wikipedia page.

And if you want to know about Aeschylus.

History of passive solar building design

Nearly two and a half millennia ago, the ancient Greek philosopher Aeschylus wrote: "Only primitives & barbarians lack knowledge of houses turned to face the Winter sun." Similarly, Socrates said: "Now, supposing a house to have a southern aspect, sunshine during winter will steal in under the verandah, but in summer, when the sun traverses a path right over our heads, the roof will afford an agreeable shade, will it not?"

Don't know offhand if Aeschylus or a character in one of his plays said this. In any case, Aeschylus is a Greek dramatist (e.g., the ORESTEIA trilogy). He is usually not referred to as a Greek philosopher. Of course, playwrights are also philosophers of a sort (Shakespeare, e.g.).

West Antarctic Ice Shelves Tearing Apart at the Seams

A new study examining nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea.

The observed style of slow-but-steady disintegration along ice-shelf margins has been neglected in most computer models of this critical region of West Antarctica, partly because it involves fracture, but also because no comprehensive record of this pattern existed. The authors conclude that several rifts present in the ice shelves suggest that they are poised to shrink further.

The article, titled “Widespread rifting and retreat of ice-shelf margins in the eastern Amundsen Sea Embayment between 1972 and 2011”, appears in Journal of Glaciology.

Uh, oh! ... :-0

The problem of fake gold bars

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to find this worrying: a 1kg gold bar, certified as 99.98% pure by XRF (X-ray fluorescence) tests, turns out to have been drilled out and largely replaced with tungsten.

... the amount of wealth that people think they have, which in fact they don’t have — could be truly enormous. If there are 1.3 million salted 400 oz bars in existence, and each one is 75% tungsten, then that makes 390 million ounces of gold which in truth isn’t there. At $1,660 per ounce, that’s over $600 billion which people think they own but don’t. To put that number in context, it’s roughly half the total quantity of subprime mortgages which had been issued at the height of the housing bubble.

Any store of value has problems, be it fiat currency or sovereign debt or bitcoins.

also Gold Bar (1 Kilo) Filled With Tungsten Found in UK

I have seen coin sized and other tunsten blanks selling on line but
Ultrasonic Testing will catch it
and I cannot see any reason why
a $100 ultrasonic thickness gauge
wouldn't show them up too esp if you have good samples to compare with.

An oldie but goodie; just google nesmont gold;


The complaint alleges that from late 1992 until mid-1994, Montgomery,
Nestor and Burgess, while officers and/or directors of Nesmont, engaged in
a deliberate scheme to overstate the company's income and inflate its
reported assets by including in inventory fake gold materials, including
brass bars made up to look like gold bars. The fraudulent scheme involved
fabricating inventory, creating phony documents, falsifying assets and
earnings, and making false representations in press releases and materials
filed with the Commission. For example, Nesmont reported net earnings of
$219,923 (Cdn) in its audited financial statements for the year ended
December 31, 1992, when it should have reported a net loss of $1,656,836
(Cdn). In its unaudited financial report for the year ended December 31,
1993, Nesmont reported net earnings of $751,592 (Cdn), when it should have
reported a net loss of $4,047,726 (Cdn).

Back in my gold-mining days, the company I worked for did business with them. Fortunately, we stopped doing business with Nesmont a few months before they were busted with the brass bars in the vault.

But they were pikers compared to Bree-X.

Fake Bars - The Facts (Perth Mint Bullion blog, h/t Jesse's Cafe Americain)

In the case of The Perth Mint, we melt every non Perth Mint bar and coin we buy back. We also melt a fair number of our own coins and bars if they are too old or damaged to enable resale. The point is that with such turnover of physical, the lack of fakes appearing in our and Heraeus’ operations indicates to us that fakes are few and far between.

With regard to identification of fakes, the most reliable non destructive testing method is ultrasonic and would easily show any insertions. XRF and other tests generally do not penetrate very far into the surface of a bar, so are only good for testing plated bars. This link[PDF!] provides an insight into the sort of testing performed at refineries

Gold Bar (1 Kilo) Filled With Tungsten Found in UK
What a strange article...

"The bar appears to have been tampered with and may have had... tungsten poured into the holes."
Tungsten is the stuff of light-bulbs: it melts somewhere past white hot. Perhaps hot tungsten rods are simply driven into the gold, melting their way in.

"Also, it is important to remember that tungsten filled gold bars still have value as tungsten is a rare and expensive metal."

Today, tungsten is $25,000/ton or less than $1/Oz.

World oil import bill heading for record $2 trln

* EU would pay a quarter of the world's oil bill
* The U.S. would reach $426 bln, up from $380 bln in 2011
* Birol warns of high oil bill impact on China, rest of world

Birol said the bill for importing nations had risen from $1.8 trillion in 2011 and $1.7 trillion in 2008.

If crude were to stay at current levels for the rest of the year - about $125 a barrel for Brent and $107 for U.S. crude - oil import bills would cost 3.4 percent of GDP, up from 3.1 percent in 2011, Birol said.

* The U.S. would reach $426 bln, up from $380 bln in 2011

Someone should ask Obama, what's the advantage of using less oil, if the total paid by the US is more?

100,000 Egypt cattle hit by foot-and-mouth: vets

Nearly 100,000 head of cattle are believed to have been struck by foot-and-mouth disease in Egypt, where a major new outbreak is threatening the entire region, veterinary sources warned on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that a major new foot-and-mouth outbreak in Egypt could threaten the whole of North Africa and the Middle East.

Population adds to planet's pressure cooker, but few options

LONDON — The world's surging population is a big driver of environmental woes but the issue is complex and solutions are few, experts at a major conference here say.

Scientists taking part have pinpointed population growth as a major if indirect contributor to global warming, depletion of resources, pollution and species loss.

But they also mark it as an issue that has disappeared almost completely off political radar screens.

also Planet Under Pressure: 'a Much Hotter Planet'

and Planet Under Pressure 2012 Conference

From the first article:

""If you have economic development and you educate women, and women get labour market opportunities, they tend not only to reduce the number of children but crucially to delay when they start having children," said Sarah Harper, director of the Institute of Population Ageing at the University of Oxford."

OK, kids. Who knows why it is crucial to delay when women start having children?

To space out the generations - helps to reduce the population. Delaying children laso helps reduce the number of children that women end up having.

Ding ding ding ding

Give the cigar to the dog!

Woof woof woof! ;)

Convergence: Special Operations Forces and Civilian Law Enforcement

In recent years there has been an apparent convergence of the operations conducted by Special Operations Forces (SOF) and those of civilian law enforcement agencies (LEAs), especially Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units, in what were formerly separate and distinct missions

The purpose of this monograph is to examine the elements precipitating this circumstance, provide SOF with a better understanding of changing domestic threats and operational capabilities of LEAs, and draw insights from the similarities and challenges imposed by transnational gangs and terrorists both domestically and abroad. The monograph will argue that SOF need new skills and training to assume the law-enforcement-like missions they are being assigned. In addition, it will provide leaders of major LEAs a better understanding of special operations and potentially facilitate a basis for future cooperation and mutual support. The monograph is written as a forward-looking document and a harbinger of emerging trends; some are quite clear, and others more subtle, but all worth contemplating, especially by those engaged in planning for the future of SOF. It is also argued that the public attitude toward conflict is changing and perhaps the legal underpinnings on use of force as well.

The merging of law enforcement and combat operations is producing a fundamental change in how the Department of Defense (DoD) is conducting combat operations.

Monograph: http://info.publicintelligence.net/JSOU-CivilMilitaryConvergence.pdf

Produced by DoD Joint Special Operations University


Official: Sudan bombed oil field in South Sudan

Sudan's military bombed an oil field in South Sudan on Tuesday, a South Sudan official said, as a dangerous flare-up in border violence appeared to scuttle plans for a presidential summit between the two countries.

... "They are hovering and dropping over the northern part of Benitu in the oil fields, the main Unity oil fields," Gatpan said. He said teams were being sent to the oil fields to assess the damage

Militia clashes in southern Libya kill nearly 50

... Hampered by a lack of a coherent national army, the NTC has struggled to persuade the many militias who fought Gaddafi to lay down their arms and join the armed forces and police.

East Libyans threaten to stop oil to press govt

A Libyan politician campaigning for greater autonomy for the country's east said his movement could resort to blocking oil supplies if the central government failed to meet its demands for more seats in the national assembly.

... Beura said that there were enough oil technicians who supported calls for greater autonomy in the east to successfully stop the flow of oil, the mainstay of government income.

Arctic sea ice may have passed crucial tipping point

The disappearance of Arctic sea ice has crossed a "tipping point" that could soon make ice-free summers a regular feature across most of the Arctic Ocean, says a British climate scientist who is setting up an early warning system for dangerous climate tipping points.

... Elsewhere at the conference, Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, University of London, offered one particularly scary consequence of Arctic warming. He warned on Tuesday that warming ocean currents east of Greenland were melting ice in the seabed.

This could trigger landslides on steep submarine slopes in the area, unleashing tsunamis capable of hitting the UK, and releasing buried methane that could amplify global warming. Something similar happened off Norway 8000 years ago in a similar geological setting, [Storegga Slides]. Much of the land surrounding the Arctic Ocean resists erosion only because it is frozen.

Hmm... and that's where Britain's Fukushima risk lies

From Supermarket News: $5 Gas Would Hurt Supervalu: Analyst

NEW YORK — The prospect of gasoline retailing for $5 a gallon would disproportionately impact food retailers with price credibility issues, according to a report released Wednesday by BMO Capital Markets.

... Short said the impact of $5 fuel would be “neutral” for Kroger and Whole Foods and “incrementally negative” for other food retailing companies BMO follows including Safeway, Harris Teeter, Spartan Stores, The Fresh Market and United Natural Foods Inc.

Overall, BMO economists said $5 gasoline “would slow the US expansion materially and raise the unemployment rate,” draining $170 billion from annual purchasing power. “By itself, it probably would not lead to a recession, but the adverse effects of higher joblessness on already-weak consumer confidence and housing markets could be troublesome, especially if Europe’s credit crisis worsened,” BMO said.

Fuel shortage fears grow as petrol tanker drivers vote for national strike

PETROL tanker drivers voted overwhelmingly to strike yesterday, sparking fears of widespread fuel shortages.

The drivers – who deliver fuel for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell and Esso – voted to by an average of 69per cent with a turnout of 77.7per cent. The drivers supply 90per cent of Britain’s forecourts and a strike could shut 7900 petrol stations across the UK.

... The UK Government are holding meetings with fuel delivery firms and supermarkets as part of contingency plans.

Just 1,000 fuel tanker drivers vote for strike which could bring Easter chaos

The Government labelled the strikes were “unacceptable” and confirmed that the Army is on standby to deliver fuel to petrol forecourts to stave off shortages.

It is thought that around 300 Army tanker drivers could be used to distribute fuel across the UK if needed.

Soldiers in Gloucestershire ready for fuel tanker driver strikes.

... "It all seems normal at the moment," he added. "I am sure when the strike happens then people will start panicking but, for now, it has been relatively quiet."

But there are fears the strike threat may be leading to thefts of fuel by criminals worried about a shortage. Fuel was siphoned from five lorries parked in a yard at a company in Blaisdon Way at the weekend.

Saudi Arabia to donate fuel to Yemen again

Sana'a: Saudi Arabia has agreed to donate fuel supplies to Yemen to end fuel shortage crisis, Saba news agency reported.

On Monday afternoon, Yemen president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi met Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh.

"During the meeting, the Saudi monarch ordered his government to donate fuel to help cover Yemen's fuel shortage for two months," Saba said.

This should show up as an increase in Saudi internal consumption. ELM

This may be a kind of third (?) round of donations. The first round was oil shipped from KSA, the second was some oil products refined by KSA but mostly bought from other countries and sent to Yemen. It is not clear this time if KSA is sending its oil or just buying oil or oil products for Yemen.

"As we are on the threshold of the second stage after overcoming all challenges in the first stage, we discussed ways to implement the second stage via holding a comprehensive national dialogue for all society's segments, he added. For his part, Saudi king confirmed to continue providing economic, political and security support till Yemen goes out its crisis. King Al Sa'ud directed the government to offer free grant of oil derivatives for Yemen enough for two months aims to alleviate the bad circumstances which the country went through last year.''

Source: Yemen News Agency Saba website, Sanaa, in English 2115 gmt 26 Mar 12

GCC 'Will Never be able to Feed Itself' Because of Water Shortage

ABU DHABI // Despite efforts to encourage local farmers to produce more of the region's food, the GCC's severe lack of water means it will never truly be able to feed itself, an expert said yesterday.

"This is a desert," said Jeffrey Culpepper, the chairman of AgriSecura, a company that invests in ethical food security solutions.

"If there is a catastrophic event that were to stop our desalination plants, we will only have three days of water supply and [it's something] we can't live without."

Last January, economists predicted a sharp rise in the price of staple foods this year because of global climatic conditions. If drought strikes Argentina, or Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz, the UAE will suffer.

Japan Reactor Has Fatally High Radiation, No Water

TOKYO (AP) — One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool it, according to an internal examination Tuesday that renews doubts about the plant's stability.

A tool equipped with a tiny video camera, a thermometer, a dosimeter and a water gauge was used to assess damage inside the No. 2 reactor's containment chamber for the second time since the tsunami swept into the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant a year ago.

The data collected from the probes showed the damage from the disaster was so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades.

Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to dangerously high 70 sieverts per hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co.

"It's extremely high," he said, adding that an endoscope would last only 14 hours in that condition. "We have to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation" when locating and removing melted fuel during the decommissioning.

The probe also found the containment vessel — a beaker-shaped container enclosing the core — had cooling water up to only 60 centimeters (2 feet) from the bottom, far below the 10 meters (yards) estimated when the government declared the plant stable in December.

also 73 sieverts per hour detected at Reactor No. 2 — Measured 4 meters from bottom

This was the line that particularly caught my eye earlier..

Three Dai-ichi reactors had meltdowns, but the No. 2 reactor is the only one that has been examined because radiation levels inside the reactor building are relatively low and its container is designed with a convenient slot to send in the endoscope.

The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest.

"Video footage taken by the probe showed the water inside was clear but contained dark yellow sediments, believed to be fragments of rust, paint that had been peeled off or dust."


Uranyl peroxide

Rush to build pipelines aimed at breaking crude logjam

For Alberta’s energy industry, Enbridge Inc.’s plan to build a pair of major pipelines through the heart of North America promises to help break an export logjam that has severely discounted the value of crude surging from the oil sands.

At a cost of $3.8-billion, the Enbridge new pipes won’t be cheap. But for Canadian oil producers, that amount pales in comparison with what they are losing – by one estimate, $18-billion a year – as an export bottleneck weighs on prices for Canadian oil.

A shortage of capacity for moving oil out of the oil sands has stirred a broad rush to build new pipelines to all points of the continent – Kitimat, B.C., Quebec City, Houston.

The battle to build new pipes comes as energy companies seek to gain back some ground, after more than a year of “taking the short end of the stick … simply because we can’t move product,” said Lowell Jackson, chief executive officer of WestFire Energy Ltd. and chairman of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

He pointed to the delays in the Keystone XL pipeline project as one reason companies are interested in numerous pipeline projects.

“The way the things are being held up in the regulatory process, you have to say, ‘Hey we can’t just be betting on one thing here,’” Mr. Jackson said. “You have to cover all your bases.”

Americans angry with Obama over gas prices

Overall, 36 percent of respondents said "oil companies that want to make too much profit" deserve the most blame for higher energy prices. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans said so, as did 44 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents.

Twenty-six percent of all respondents said a range of factors was equally to blame, including oil companies, politicians, foreign countries that dominate oil reserves and environmentalists who want to limit oil exploration.

There was little difference in that result across party lines. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents said all of those factors were equally to blame.


Not one word on supplies, much less peak oil. Still alot of folks to reach.

It's probably a case of the public wanting to believe the price is being gamed rather than the simplicity of supply & demand of a finite resource determinining price, and MSM in turn providing support of that position.

We always have to ask ourselves what came first the chicken or the egg? Does MSM not want to broach the topic or does the public want to believe everything is essentially ok? Does one simply reflect the desires of the other, i.e. the sender providing a message the receiver wants to hear? Limbaugh knows his receivers and sends messages they want to hear, so a headline of an article pulls the most when that idea (however baseless it might be) resonates with the readers.

This is something I came to earlier this year which on the surface is so simple: All products are consumer driven, and their success rests with the ability of the provider to match their products with consumer demands. Most of us on TOD know the frustration in trying to convey the real situation about peak oil to friends and relatives. They do not want to hear it and attach any such talk of a negative idea to the person explaining it (shoot the messenger) and say things like, "Why do you want to think such a thing could be true?" It's almost like most are automatrons - completely unable to shift out of a myopic, rather solidly constructed, confined palette of conventional, groupthink, that is firmly attached to the security of being certain everything in their world will remain steadfastly on firm footing for the rest of their lives. That's why so many articles put off such ideas as peak oil and AGW so far into the future those living today will be dead by the time its a problem.

If some major newspaper came out tomorrow with a peak oil position with all the current TOD supplied data, the rest of MSM would come to the rescue of those automatrons in the form of disinformation to in effect hold their hands and say, "It's going to be ok - that's alright, we've got these malcontents and are driving them back into the peak oil theory cult where they belong."

Everything right down to the information provided to the people in MSM is consumer driven, plain and simple, and the masses are way too insecure to handle the truth so they are spoon fed cognitive dissonance, in effect saying, "Ah, there, there now, everythings going to be alright. Now eat your disinformation."

"It's almost like most are automatrons - completely unable to shift out of a myopic, rather solidly constructed, confined palette of conventional, groupthink, that is firmly attached to the security of being certain everything in their world will remain steadfastly on firm footing for the rest of their lives."


The fact the US was on a war footing from 1948 to 1991 during the Cold War and constructed a massive Military-Industrial Complex to wage the Cold War I believe has something to do with it. Clearly, the Post-WW2 decades in the US were anomalous compared to previous American history. The most aggressive and acquisitive instincts were promoted during the Cold War so much so that, with the ending of the Cold War, those instincts remain today.

I like 'Automatrons'.. was that a typo? I'll have to use it somewhere.