Drumbeat: April 1, 2012

Taking a calculated risk on high oil

Oil futures in Europe traded at $120-plus last month, and Riyadh can expect a hefty windfall in the coming year, especially if geopolitical tensions in the region and abroad continue to keep oil prices up, neighbouring Iraq continues to underperform as a producer, and the world’s economic powerhouse, China, continues to buy more and more oil, says a London-based energy analyst.

Yet while 2012 is shaping up to be another good year for the Saudi balance sheet, concerns are growing in Riyadh that certain aspects of government policy are unsustainable in the long-run, especially if oil prices fall – as they may well do.“Generally,” says the analyst, “oil prices as high as we have seen in 2011 and 2012 have triggered recessions. In fact, the only time we have seen these kinds of numbers was just before the 2008 crisis, so there is real potential there for a collapse in prices. “Traders are focused on the upside to prices – geopolitical risk, in Iran and again now in Libya; Chinese demand, the US economy growing if unevenly – rather than the downside: the Eurozone and the effect high oil prices often have on the global economy. Take away the upside risks, and we could see another collapse in prices.”

Riyadh’s domestic response to the Arab uprisings of 2011 was to dramatically boost its spending on bonuses, wages, and housing projects. Overall, the Gulf’s largest economy spent more than SR800 billion ($215 billion) over the year, 40 percent more than it had budgeted. On paper, spending was trimmed for 2012. Riyadh has planned for SR690 billion of spending this year – still more than the original budget for 2011 – while cash has been carried over from 2011 for future projects.

Italian government alarmed at high consumer power prices

(Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government has reacted with concern at rising electricity and gas prices that are set to hit hard-pressed consumers already reeling from tough austerity measures and a sharp rise in the cost of living.

Industry Minister Corrado Passera warned at the weekend that the government would have to reconsider subsidies given to the renewable energy sector following steep price increases announced by Italy's gas and electricity authority.

US welcomes Turkey cutting Iran oil imports

(ISTANBUL) - The United States Sunday welcomed Turkey's decision to reduce its purchases of oil from neighbouring Iran by 20 percent.

"I was encouraged to hear Turkey's announcement that it will significantly reduce crude oil imports from Iran," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a press conference in Istanbul where she attended a "Friends of Syria" conference.

Iraqi Kurdistan halts oil exports over pay dispute

(Reuters) - Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region halted its oil exports on Sunday, accusing the central government in Baghdad of failing to make payments to companies working there in the latest clash in their long-running dispute over oil rights.

The friction between Iraq's government and Kurdish region, autonomous since 1991 with its own government and armed forces, centers on control of oilfields and revenues in the north, and has already trimmed payments to producers like Norway's DNO.

The man who would beat Hugo Chavez

(Reuters) - Tired and hungry after hours of working crowds under a blistering Caribbean sun, Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles needs a rest and some food back in his campaign bus.

Yet the sports-loving folk of Baralt, a hard up and dusty district in Venezuela's western oil belt, seldom see VIPs and urge him to join a local basketball game.

Total to get go-ahead to kill leaking North Sea gas well

(Reuters) - The UK authorities will grant French oil company Total permission in the next few days to proceed with plans to staunch the leaking well on its North Sea Elgin gas field, industry sources said on Sunday, a day after a dangerous flare blazing above the Elgin production platform went out of its own accord.

Refrain from excessive intervention in TEPCO

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has requested a capital injection of 1 trillion yen in public funds from a state-backed entity.

The embattled power utility also has sought about 850 billion yen in additional financial assistance from the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, to be used for ballooning compensation payments.

This is because TEPCO is in danger of recording a negative net worth due to its massive financial burdens related to the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Among these burdens are compensation payouts, scrapping the plant's reactors and increasing fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for sharp declines in nuclear power generation.

Waking Up to the End of the World as We Know It

It occurred to me that a post-fossil fuel sustainability demonstration project might be a good idea. And why not create one out here, on the sleepy East Coast of Canada? In an odd bit of circumstance I ended up in a meeting with Frank McKenna, former provincial premier, former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., VP of TD Bank, etc., and chatted about the idea.

I showed him a graph that tied just about every modern growth pattern (from industry to information) to the exponential use of fossil fuel over the past 150 years. I pointed to the top of the curve, Peak Oil, and the rapid decline, which would become critical in my view by 2040 when the world's population would still be rising dramatically. I said, "We have about 30 years left."

He brushed the graph aside and looked at me flatly. He told me that he was sitting on the board of a major oil company and that the crisis isn't 30 years out. It's considerably less than that.

Oil Rises on U.S. Economic Data, Decision on Sanctions

Oil climbed, capping a second quarterly gain, after reports showed U.S. consumer sentiment and spending rose and President Barack Obama cleared the way for new sanctions targeting Iran.

Futures increased 24 cents as an index of consumer sentiment rose in March and U.S. purchases gained the most since July. Crude reached its intraday peak when Obama determined that world oil supplies were sufficient to proceed with sanctions on banks in countries that import Iranian oil.

Gasoline Heads for Best Quarter Since 2009 as Supplies Decline

Gasoline had its biggest quarterly gain in a year on speculation that refinery closures and seasonal repairs will trim supply of summer-grade fuel in the eastern U.S. at a time when demand typically rises.

Iraq March Crude Exports Rise to Highest in Post-Hussein Era

Iraq’s crude oil exports and revenue rose in March to their highest levels in the nine years since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former President Saddam Hussein, the head of the State Oil Marketing Organization said.

Exports of crude averaged 2.32 million barrels a day, generating monthly sales of $8.4 billion, Falah al-Amri said today in a telephone interview in Baghdad.

Argentina on new campaign to win Falklands, 30 years after war

BUENOS AIRES — Thirty years after Argentina’s failed invasion of the Falkland Islands, President Cristina Fernandez is ratcheting up pressure by trying to isolate the archipelago’s English-speaking inhabitants while heaping scorn on a British government that has refused to relinquish control.

Argentina’s efforts, calculated to force Prime Minister David Cameron’s government into sovereignty negotiations, come at a poignant moment for Argentina: the anniversary of the land-and-sea assault launched against the islands on April 2, 1982, by a waning dictatorship. Though lasting just 74 days, the war had all the hallmarks of a fierce conventional conflict, complete with sunken warships, the firing of Exocet missiles, artillery bombardments, amphibious landings, aerial dogfights and more than 900 deaths.

Argentina threatens to sue banks helping Falklands oil explorers as trade war with Britain escalates

A group of British and American banks have been threatened with legal action by the Argentine government for advising and writing research reports about companies involved in the Falkland Islands’ £1.6bn oil industry.

Argentine Government Decides to Take Over YPF, Pagina 12 Says

Argentina’s government has decided to take over YPF SA and is debating whether to expropriate the oil company or buy a stake and control its management, Pagina 12 reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.

Indonesian Parliament Approves Conditional Fuel-Price Rise

Indonesia’s parliament gave the government conditional authority to raise fuel prices, after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party dropped its push for an April 1 increase.

Lawmakers voted 356 to 82 in favor of a proposal by the Democrats to allow an increase if the Indonesia Crude Price, or ICP, exceeds the budget assumption of $105 a barrel by 15 percent over a six-month period, Speaker of the House Marzuki Alie said after the 14 ½-hour session ended at about 1:30 a.m. Two opposition parties walked out on the proceedings.

Italians Get Sticker Shock at the Pump

Austerity measures introduced by Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government have pushed Italian gas prices to the highest in Europe, an average of 1.82 euros per liter, or $9.17 per gallon, with taxes accounting for about 54 percent of the total, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its April 2 issue.

It’s a profound shock for this country of car lovers, home of supercar makers Ferrari SpA and Lamborghini SpA, where the rate of vehicle ownership is among the highest in the world, and one that’s producing even more economic pain, as Italians curtail travel and shun new-car purchases.

Four in five blame Government for the 'needless fuel panic'

The British public today vents its fury against the Government for stoking the fuel crisis, with 81 per cent of voters accusing David Cameron and ministers of creating an "unnecessary panic" over petrol shortages.

With Mr Cameron struggling to get back on to the front foot after the worst week of his premiership, 72 per cent of people believe the Government is "out of touch with ordinary voters", a devastating poll for The Independent on Sunday shows.

Russia's Pacific Sakhalin island braces for blizzard

(Reuters) - Russia's Emergencies Ministry said on Saturday it expected blizzards and high winds to batter the northern parts of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands on Sunday, an area that is home to international oil and gas projects.

Bulgaria Gets Russian Gas Discount in Tradeoff for South Stream

Russia has pledged an 11-percent gas discount for Bulgaria in exchange for faster progress on the construction of the Bulgarian leg of the South Stream gas pipeline, Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev said.

Exxon Retains Disputed Field With Alaska Condensate Deal

Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and BP Plc (BP/) agreed to pump light crude oil from a dormant Alaskan field and offer natural gas to Asian utilities in exchange for the right to retain leases the state sought to reclaim.

Post-Gaddafi Libya confronts its diversity

TRIPOLI, LIBYA — At the entrance to Tripoli’s main landfill, Mustafa al-Sepany stands in combat fatigues, wearing an expression that says no trash trucks will get past him. For four months, none has, leaving the country’s capital city wallowing in uncollected garbage.

Sepany is one of thousands of still-armed rebel fighters who ousted Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi in last year’s bloody uprising. Now he is one of the residents near the landfill who are exercising their newfound freedoms by declaring they don’t want Tripoli’s trash. Anywhere but here, they say. And in post-revolution Libya, not-in-my-backyard fights come with automatic weapons.

How do you save a refinery? It can be done, just look at Delaware

Refining faced, and continues to face, various challenges, from a national energy policy desiring to replace gasoline with renewable fuels to declining demand to the East Coast’s limited access to less expensive crude.

But, for a myriad of reasons, the purchase and restart of the Delaware City refinery became a tangible example of unyielding determination, perseverance and just enough luck to make a damn-near miracle a reality.

Volcker rule could raise energy prices, study says

(Reuters) - The proposed Volcker rule crackdown on trading and investing by banks could cause gasoline, electricity and natural gas prices to rise, according to a new report.

The report, released on Wednesday by business information provider IHS Inc, seeks to gauge the rule's impact on energy companies and markets, including oil refineries, natural gas producers and electricity providers.

Obama - Big Oil Truths and Elisions


Clinton Says Assad Is Ignoring UN’s Plan to End Syria Violence

The United Nations effort to broker an end to violence in Syria is faltering as President Bashar al- Assad ignores his commitment to adhere to the agreement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today.

Syrians Fighting Assad Must Be Backed If UN Fails, Erdogan Says

The international community must support the Syrian opposition’s fight against President Bashar al-Assad if the United Nations doesn’t take action to end the violence, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Obama moves to choke Iran oil exports

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for robust sanctions against Iran’s energy sector Friday, judging there is enough oil on world markets to ensure the move will not hammer US consumers.

With just hours to go before a deadline to decide, Obama determined the United States could punish banks and other financial institutions for buying oil from Iran, without causing a global oil shock.

Clinton Says Will Soon Be Clear If Iran Serious About Talks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it will soon be clear whether Iran is serious about talks on its nuclear program, and warned that the window to engage “will not remain open forever.”

Iran Breaks UN Resolutions on Nuclear Program, Russia Says

Iran is breaching United Nations resolutions and increasing the size of its nuclear program amid an “alarming” escalation in global rhetoric toward its atomic plans, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“The scale of the Iranian nuclear program is expanding,” Ryabkov said yesterday in an interview in New Delhi. This “is in direct violation of UN resolutions.”

SKorea to work with US to reduce Iran oil imports

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korean officials said Saturday that they will continue working with the U.S. to reduce oil imports from Iran after President Barack Obama greenlighted potential sanctions against countries that continue to buy Iranian oil.

China rejects Obama’s Iran oil import sanctions

China rejected President Barack Obama’s decision to move forward with plans for sanctions on countries buying oil from Iran, saying Saturday that Washington had no right to unilaterally punish other nations.

Obama Risks Higher Oil Prices From The Iran Embargo

The White House needs the cooperation of western European nations, China, India and Japan to enforce an embargo on Iranian oil and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb that threatens peace in the Middle East. This could be tough as nations like France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Portugal import over 700,000 barrels of oil daily from Iran.

Are oil sanctions the best way to curb a nuclear Iran?

The Obama administration imposed tighter oil sanctions on Iran on Friday in hopes that the threat to its economy would force the country to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program. That's in addition to the European Union's sanctions, which begin July 1. But is an economic threat persuasive enough? It all depends on who you ask.

Iran sanctions don’t require drawing on strategic petroleum reserve

The president should think twice before dipping into the backup, currently 700 million barrels, that Congress created in 1975 to protect against a “severe energy supply interruption.” Though the average U.S. price of regular unleaded gasoline is almost $4 per gallon and is likely to rise along with Middle East tensions, that does not yet equate with the Persian Gulf War or Hurricane Katrina, to name two past emergencies in which presidents used the reserve.

High Methane in Pennsylvania Water Deemed Safe by EPA

Tests by the Environmental Protection Agency of water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, found elevated levels of methane consistent with leakage from gas drilling nearby, according to scientists who reviewed the data.

Results from the first 11 wells tested by the EPA found one with a methane level of 52 parts per million, which could be explosive, and a total of six with more than the 7 milligrams per liter at which drillers are required to notify the state. The findings raise questions about the EPA’s March 15 statement to Dimock residents that their water didn’t pose a health risk, said Ronald Bishop, a chemist at the State University of New York’s College at Oneonta.

Report: Shell drilling plan fails to account for risk factors

WASHINGTON--Days after the Obama administration approved Royal Dutch Shell's oil spill response plan for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the Alaska coast, an independent federal report said that Shell's plan fails to take into account the risks unique to oil production in harsh, icy offshore conditions.

Brazil spots new oil leak as safety worries rise

(Reuters) - Brazilian authorities identified a small oil leak off the shores of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, the latest in a series of spills that has raised safety concerns over the development of some of the world's largest petroleum reserves.

The latest oil leak comes days after a Brazilian prosecutor said he is widening a probe into offshore oil operations in the wake of a 3,000-barrel spill in an offshore field run by Chevron in November.

Conoco pays Chinese fishermen for oil spill-report

(Reuters) - U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips and CNOOC Ltd have agreed to jointly pay 305 million yuan ($48 million) in compensation to Chinese fishermen and restore the maritime environment in the Bohai Bay area after a major oil spill there last year, state media reported on Sunday.

Oil & Gas Industry, Clean Up Your Act -- and Make Money

U.S. oil and gas industry, clean up your act. You’ll increase your annual profits by $2 billion if you do.

So says the Natural Resources Defense Council in a new report released this week. The NRDC says companies in the oil and gas sector could add billions of dollars to their bottom line if they did more to capture leaking emissions for sale instead, like methane, created when natural gas and oil is produced.

Japan Nuclear Plant May Be Worse Off Than Thought

TOKYO — The damage to one of three stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant could be worse than previously thought, a recent internal investigation has shown, raising new concerns over the plant’s stability and complicating the post-disaster cleanup.

RWE, E.ON scrap $24 bln British nuclear plan

LONDON/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - German utilities E.ON and RWE have pulled out of a 15 billion pound ($23.78 billion) plan to build new nuclear power stations in Britain, throwing into doubt the UK government's push for a new fleet of nuclear plants by 2025.

The companies said Germany's sudden decision to phase out nuclear power, the high running costs of their Horizon joint venture and the long lead times required for nuclear plants resulted in the decision to sell the venture.

Earthquake zone on EU border to host Belarus nuclear plant

"The decision to build the station was entirely political ... It makes no sense to build it here. It's a fault line and the closest water source is 10 kilometres away," a Belarusian geologist - who does not want to reveal his name and who lost his job last year because a close relative spoke out against President Alexander Lukashenko - told this website.

Korea shows nuclear's friendly face

Fostering public acceptance is vital for South Korea, which plans to build seven more nuclear power plants to add to its fleet of 23. Atomic power, which accounts for about a third of the country's electricity generation, has helped to meet demand that has grown tenfold from 5.46 million kilowatts in 1989 to 58.99 kilowatts in 2006 thanks to South Korea's economic and industrial transformation from a developing nation to a donor country.

Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous

CAMERON, Ariz. — In the summer of 2010, a Navajo cattle rancher named Larry Gordy stumbled upon an abandoned uranium mine in the middle of his grazing land and figured he had better call in the feds. Engineers from the Environmental Protection Agency arrived a few months later, Geiger counters in hand, and found radioactivity levels that buried the needles on their equipment.

Japan experts warn of future risk of giant tsunami

TOKYO (AP) – Much of Japan's Pacific coast could be inundated by a tsunami more than 112 feet high if a powerful earthquake hits offshore, according to revised estimates by a government panel.

Vestas Wind Turbine Catches Fire in Germany, No Injuries

Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), the world’s largest wind-turbine maker, said a V112 3.0-megawatt turbine caught fire today at the Gross Eilstorf wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the 3 p.m. blaze, which is burning out under “controlled conditions,” hasn’t been determined, the Aarhus, Denmark-based company said in a statement. The turbine, a new model for Vestas, was disconnected from the grid and three nearby V112 turbines were shut for safety reasons, it said.

Great Lakes States Agree to Streamline Freshwater Wind Projects

The White House and five of the eight states that border the Great Lakes today agreed to streamline the approval process for offshore wind farms in the region.

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, will coordinate reviews of proposed projects, Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said today on a conference call.

World landmarks dimmed for Earth Hour to highlight climate change

LONDON — Hundreds of world landmarks from Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to the Great Wall of China went dark Saturday, part of a global effort to highlight climate change.

Earth Hour, held on the last Saturday of March every year, began as a Sydney-only event in 2007. The city’s iconic Harbor Bridge and Opera House were dimmed again this year.

The EPA’s (very small) step on carbon emissions

ON TUESDAY, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its first limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. By requiring that facilities produce less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, the rule essentially bans construction of traditional coal-fired power plants. That’s good: Burning coal releases lots of carbon dioxide and a range of nasty pollutants that encourage heart attacks and respiratory illness.

Michael Mann 'Disappointed' In Obama's Global Warming Record

I thought there was some irony to Obama going to Oklahoma, the state that maybe has been most devastated thus far by the emerging effects of climate change, to present a vision of our energy future that really did seem to ignore climate change. I was disappointed by that frankly.

Climate change: the Arctic is too precious to be left unprotected

Opening up the Arctic to development will undoubtedly bring benefits but the changes that are now being proposed also pose risks. Few treaties govern this region and it remains hopelessly exposed to ecological damage.

He told me that he was sitting on the board of a major oil company and that the crisis isn't 30 years out. It's considerably less than that.

Now who said the April Fools joke is dead? *wink*

Obama moves to choke Iran oil exports

Arn't embargoes a traditional act of war?

The damage to one of three stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant could be worse than previously thought

Previously thought or was the reality actually known to be different than what was presented to the public? At what point do people who lie get punished?

"Arn't embargoes a traditional act of war?"

You're the kind of person who would say the United States oil embargo on Japan in 1941 (where Japan was reliant on the U.S. for 80% of its oil) was a significant cause of the Japanese attack on the United States, unlike the rest of us who learned in sixth grade or so that the reason was that the Japanese at that time were bad people....

Hey! I'n no Pat Buchanan In early 1941, FDR froze all Japanese assets, cutting off trade, including oil. Without oil, the Japanese empire must wither & die.. The oil embargo was “economic war” against an oil-starved nation. FDR knew the consequences of an oil embargo & approved, because he wanted Japan to attack. A war with Japan was the only way he could take us to war in Europe. FDR seemed anxious to get into the war, [but was] elected on a promise to stay out, [so] FDR needed to maneuver Japan into firing the first shot.

You are not really that funny Pasttense. And I was in the sixth grade in 1951, shortly after the end of WW2 and I did not learn about Japanese being bad people, nor did in any of my remaining years of school. Anyway such a simplistic explanation is typical of the cynic who, because the US has been wrong in entering conflicts since then, believe that our entry into WW2 must have been for totally invalid reasons also.

But there was the Second Sino-Japanese War that began in 1931 and events that followed was the primary reason for the embargo.

And if you are not familiar with that war you need to catch up on your history. One instance, in 1937, after Nanking had already been captured by the Japanese, during the next six weeks,from 250,000 to 300,000 Chinese people were slaughtered in the Nanking Massacre

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.[1][2] Widespread rape and looting also occurred.[3][4] Historians and witnesses have estimated that 250,000 to 300,000 people were killed.

Why was there an embargo on Japan before World War 2?

The United States, along with England and The U.S.S.R., was helping the Chinese. Japan had entered into war with the Chinese before war was declared in Europe. Japan captured Manchuria and five other northern provices of China. The Japanese wanted to stop all aid to China from the Allies and the United States. This request was turned down and the U.S. put an embargo on Japan.

An embargo is and has been, by most nations anyway, an attempt at an alternative to going to war.

Ron P.

The modern embargo is a means of isolating the target from the global system, a necessary precaution, prior to its destruction. Otherwise the highly interconnected global system would suffer the domino effect from its destruction without the prior disconnection. So its not an alternative to going to war, but a prelude to going to war. Which doesn't bode well for Iran.

So its not an alternative to going to war, but a prelude to going to war. Which doesn't bode well for Iran.

Burgundy, it should have been obvious, but apparently not for some folks, that I was talking about motives not any ultimate outcome. The motive, or the intent, of the Japanese embargo was to prevent the total destruction of China and the systemic murder of millions of Chinese though it did ultimately lead to the US entering the war.

I must assume that you misunderstood my post because I simply cannot believe anyone would be so naive to believe that the intent of the Iranian embargo is designed to start a war.

That being said, Nations do often miscalculate and their intentions lead to a totally different outcome that was intended. Politicians, including Obama, have in my opinion, miscalculated the ultimate effect of the oil embargo. I believe it will send oil prices through the roof, if successful. That in turn could result in another deep recession.

Ron P.

While I believe Obama probably doesn't want to go to war with Iran, there are plenty of politicians who do in the US. Sanctions may be an attempt to avoid war, or they may be an attempt to prepare for it, or perhaps even more realistically they are both. One thing we can be sure of, they escalate tensions.

I still think (hope) that there will not be a war with Iran, as everyone sees the potential for massive disaster, but I try never to underestimate human folly.

The American pressure against Japan that was ramped up in a major way in July 1941 was also a response to the Japanese extending control into Indo-China (taking advantage of the "problems" that France was having). This extension of Japanese control was a clear first step towards gaining military advantage over south-east Asia in general. This was seen as a threat to the United States. Roosevelt didn't let it slide.

No, the Iranian embargo is not designed to start a war, it is a prelude to war. It's a necessary part of the preparation and planning for an attack. The intent is to weaken the country and segregate it from the global system to minimise the effects of its devastation on the global economy.

Who knows what Obama thinks or wants? But the reality is that the US is going through the steps to perpetrate an attack on Iran. There is no doubt about it, the only doubt is whether they will go through with it.

To suggest that Obama, or anyone else for that matter, wants a war with Iran is more than absurd. What he, along with Israel and most of the American people would like would be to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon without going to war. If anyone attacks Iran it will be Israel and they, if the do it, will do it against the wishes of the US.

Two wars and a tax cut have drove the US deeply in dept. Obama would like nothing better than have no war at all and a return to Clinton ear tax rates. Whatever you guys think of Obama, one thing that he definitely not is a blooming idiot. Only a blooming idiot would, at this time, want a war with Iran that would cost a trillion dollars and cost tens of thousands of American, Israeli and Iranian lives.

The US population is in no mood for war at this time and the current administration is also in no mood for war either. They will do anything possible to prevent a war with Iran and that includes an embargo. The only people beating the war drums are the republican candidates for president and even they seem to be having second thoughts.

Ron P.

An embargo is an attempt to force one nation to comply to the desires of another (or a group of others).

Can you suggest an embargo which effectively forced compliance by the targeted nation and prevented a war?

Can you suggest an embargo which effectively forced compliance by the targeted nation and prevented a war?

Well YES I can. Cuban Missile Crisis

The US embargo against Cuba began February 7, 1962...

In October 1962, American ships blocked Soviet ships carrying missiles from going into Cuba. The Soviets and Cubans agreed to take away the missiles if America promised not to attack Cuba.

Ron P.

There was some dealing that went beyond the idea that the Soviet's backed down from risking a shooting war based on the blockade alone (last sentence below):

The Soviets publicly balked at the US demands, but in secret back-channel communications initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962,[6] when President John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached a public and secret agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey and Italy.

Additionally, many folks think that situation was a close-run thing wrt the threat of a conflict escalating to the nuclear level...

...at least the potential downsides to an Iranian gambit will be ///way///lower.

Especially since it is not at all about nuclear weapons. No sarc intended.

Sorry Fishoil but it is all about nuclear weapons. And I am not being sarcastic either. I know, you and a lot of others think it is all bout oil, but that is just silly. They would put a lot more oil on the market if we just left them alone and let them build nuclear weapons, if that is indeed their intentions. And if we, or Israel, invades, then that would take their entire production of about 3.5 mb/d off the market for the duration of the war. That would be devastating for everyone involved.

But unlike me, Bill Maher is prone to a bit of sarcasm. ;-)

"The next time we go to war for oil... get some oil." Bill Maher: But I'm Not Wrong

But I will gladly retract that bit of Bill Maher sarcasm and beg your forgiveness if you will explain how going to war with Iran will put more oil on market.

Ron P.

I agree that it is about nuclear weapons, but it bothers me quite a bit that we're freaking out about Iran having nukes - Iran, one of the (ironically) more progressive countries of the area - while Pakistan, near failed state and home of the Taliban, not only can have them but gets additional military toys to play with. Pakistan, that has been stabbing the US in the back in Afghanistan from the very beginning, that almost certainly supports more terrorism than Iran (just looking at the attacks on India that have their origin in Pakistani terrorist groups in the past 10 years gives you an idea of the scope)...

A lot of this has to do with Israel, but Israel already has nukes, and it's very, very hard to believe that Iran would attack Israel. It's more of a concern for the balance of power in the Mid-East, but Israel still has an overwhelming military advantage.

The more I look at it, the more I think this is irrational at the core, that it's decades old grudges being played out in some weird game of chicken. The US hates Iran because... well, they kicked out the Shah and took our embassy. And Iran hates the US because... The US supported the Shah and Saddam. And both sides still hold this grudge because it's always been that way.


What surprised me in a recent top posting (Hormuz topic) was that Iran has a larger economy than does Brazil. I think most people who are relying on the colored news would be too. I agree with adamx that Iran is really the least of our worries in the area - and causing a worldwide ruckus to push into the future the inevitable is simply irresponsible.

For the bookworms: One great novel worth reading centered in Iran is _Whirlwind_ by James Clavell - though fiction the story takes place in Teheran during the last days of the Shah. If you like to read a good yarn, start with Clavell's _Tai-pan_ followed by _Noble House_, then _Whirlwind_ - the latter two are big fat novels but are a fun read.

I think I read that book a decade ago at least and I still imagine Iran in the way Clavell described it. I am not much into reading thrillers but that series of books was outstanding.

I know, you and a lot of others think it is all bout oil, but that is just silly.

Right, things can only be about ONE thing.


It isn't about them "putting oil on the market" in the short term, but that doesn't mean it's about the weapons rather than oil. Nobody thinks Iran is going to start a nuclear war. What the U.S. and Israel and the Saudi "royals" don't want is an Iran that can't be threatened as easily and psychotically as it can now be. It's all about perpetuating U.S. unilateralism and hegemony over the regional geo-politics. That is indeed all about the oil.

If the concern about the weapons were sincere, the solutions to that are obvious and easy.

It is all about oil.


Middle Eastern theatre of World War I:
"The British feared that the Ottomans might attack and capture the Middle East (and later Caspian) oil fields. Opposed to the Ottomans, the British Royal Navy depended upon oil from the petroleum deposits in southern Persia, to which the British-controlled Anglo-Persian Oil Company had exclusive access."

Competing interests:

What welds the monied elite of the Middle East to the monied elite of Europe, Russia, China, and America as one, giant cooperative structure? What happens to those Middle Eastern nations who fail to cooperate? Does this all gyre around nice linen, navel bases, and spirits in the sky... or oil?

Open war with Iran would only reduce the oil on the market in the short term, sure.

But over longer term, if the Iranian economy collapsed (via say embargo/sanction/sabotage/terrorism), more of the population worrying about bread ration rather than vacation destinations, then wouldn't that increase the oil that was exported rather than consumed locally, a win for us importers?

Interesting example ... especially since the Cuban economic embargo began in October 1960. The embargo did not keep the Soviets from placing missiles into Cuba. Nor, in my opinion, did it force Cuba to remove them, although the escalation of the embargo to a military quarantine certainly signaled our seriousness. They were removed when the US and the Soviets agreed to a tit-for-tat dismantling of missiles ... an agreement between equals.

Of course, the economic embargoes against Cuba have continued well after that flare-up. Fifty years later, we still are holding embargoes against Cuba. They don't seem to have succeeding in having Cuba comply with our desires regarding compensation for property seized in their revolution.

However, my skepticism regarding the effectiveness of embargoes should not be read as my agreement with Eric regarding the intent of the embargo.

Ron, the least you could have said was something like "Yeah Ron, you got me there." That would have been the gentlemanly thing to do since it did prevent a possible war. And that was your original declaration was it not? But no, I got instead...

Nor, in my opinion, did it force Cuba to remove them,...

Of course not, Cuba could not possibly have removed them, they did not put them there and anyway they had no ships equipped to carry nuclear missiles. Russia removed them!

Kennedy said: "We will have a wider choice than humiliation or an all out nuclear war."

The blockade worked, that was the point. It prevented an invasion of Cuba at the least and possibly prevented an all out nuclear war.

But you seem to imply that it gained nothing. I think a vast majority of Americans would disagree with you on that point.

Ron P.

Thank you Ron for the interesting example.

It certainly raises questions like:

"Why did the military blockade against Cuba succeed in getting the Soviets to the table?"


"Why has 50 years of economic embargoes against Cuba failed to succeed in getting the Cubans to comply with our desires?"


"Which example, the economic embargo or military blockade, does the Iranian embargo most closely resemble?"

And good questions are a mark of a good reply!

It took decades, but the long standing cultural and economic sanctions (weak) against South Africa were a major part in the decision to go to majority rule according to de Klerk.

I see the Iranian efforts as trying to rekindle a revolution. "Hard Tines" certainly make this easier.

But oil may not be the most important export.

Iran is the leading exporter of pistachios with 54 percent of global exports.

Many small farmers depend on exports. Small rural villages are the backbone of support for the regime. Problems there may lead to unrest.

In addition, most imported goods have doubled in price recently.


The hardship of their people has a notorious lack of influence on their leaders, especially when imposed by an outside force such that it solidifies the leader's position.

But in the particular case of Cuba, they haven't even been under full embargo. They trade with a large portion of the world, just not the US.

Similarly, a civil embargo of Iran is not likely to be all that effective without the cooperation of their major trading partners (some of whom may be just fine with the thought of Iran having nuclear weapons).

Actually, the Cuban missile crisis involved a blockade and not an embargo.

A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade.(wikipedia)

A blockade is often considered an act of war as it involves the use or threat of force.

The US population may not want an actual war, however they are suckers for tough talk. And such tough talk can lead us to leave little alternative for our foreign target. The public may not want a war, but we sure like to taunt the (alleged) bullies.

To suggest that Obama, or anyone else for that matter, wants a war with Iran is more than absurd. What he, along with Israel and most of the American people would like would be to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon without going to war. If anyone attacks Iran it will be Israel and they, if the do it, will do it against the wishes of the US.

I'm not certain this statement has a good grasp on geopolitical reality, I'm afraid. Nothing in US history (Mexico, Philippines, Cuba, Panama, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc, etc) supports any notion that the US is - or ever has been - war-shy.

I simply cannot believe anyone would be so naive to believe that the intent of the Iranian embargo is designed to start a war.

What, exactly, would you need as "evidence" for you to believe?

it will send oil prices through the roof, if successful. That in turn could result in another deep recession.

That is EXACTLY the intention.

If the economy is "bad" before the election the population might kick 'em to the curb. But if things are "bad" and you can point to some other reason like an embargo, a war, et la then no one has to examine things like Citizens United, the 'too big to fail banks', the (insert whatever things you might think are wrong) that might get you voted out.


Embargoes are similar to economic sanctions and are generally considered legal barriers to trade, not to be confused with blockades, which are often considered to be acts of war.

For instance, the voluntary international oil embargo against South Africa in 1987 had the support of 130 countries and would be considered a sanction against apartheid in South Africa. If South Africa had wanted to go to war against 130 countries, I suppose they could, but that would be their choice and their declaration of war. The 130 countries would consider it an unprovoked war.

Similarly, the US oil embargo against Japan before WWII would be considered an economic sanction; the attack on Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked act of war.


I was in the 5th grade in 1959, in a good Catholic school no less, and it was still "the Japs." No "slant-eyed devils" remarks on your playground? I remember drawing a lot of airplanes dropping a lot of bombs and playing "army men". "Made in Japan" was a derision. The black and white, good vs evil version of WWII was being implanted into a whole generation of those who had no direct memory of the war.

I do not subscribe to the altruistic saving of China and the Chinese people as the primary motivation for the embargo. I am more cynical, it is true, to ascribe the action to one or more empires wanting to prevent another nascent empire from amassing too much wealth/power. In its own image Japan was creating the Greater Southeast Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The destruction of infastructure and populations was simply, in the language of empires, collateral damage. A large and powerful Japanese empire was, in modern usage, an existential threat to the US.

Failing to anticipate the reaction to such an embargo is one of the great intelligence failures of American history.

If you cannot predict the outcome of the policy, and the only back-up to the policy is war, then it is not so illogical to conclude that the policy itself is a preparation for war.


I do not subscribe to the altruistic saving of China and the Chinese people as the primary motivation for the embargo. I am more cynical, it is true, to ascribe the action to one or more empires wanting to prevent another nascent empire from amassing too much wealth/power.

Japan's power structure was willing to not use energy and the higher rate of "The West" as a way to keep local power until Mr. Perry and his gun boat showed up. Then Japan started a consumption cycle to catch up to the West.

Mr. Mao was rather straight forward with what he wanted to do - avoid the energy consumption of the West and use 'people power'. Some documents support Mr. Mao got funding and support from what became the CIA. Was the goal of that support the general 'give support to everyone in case one of 'em wins?' or was the support more to put in someone who'd keep China lower on the energy consumption scale?

And the other pondering of Japan and its histories effect on Nation-States in the area:
North Korea was the site of Japan's atomic bomb program. Is the isolation and low energy model of North Korea not only trying to follow what Japan did, but was also influenced by some of the Japanese who were in North Korea working on their bomb program AND talked about the 'old glory days' of pre-Perry Japan?

You are not really that funny Pasttense.

Who says he's being funny? There is The McCollum memo which has 8 points to get the US of A into what became called WWII

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

was the primary reason for the embargo.

Funny how a claim like that is placed VS the comment added to the memo:

However, I concur in your courses of action. We must be ready on both sides and probably strong enough to care for both.

But hey - who ya gonna believe? A primary and contemporaneous document or a comment with no document citation?

the US has been wrong in entering conflicts since then

I'm rather sure I can find people who'll put forth arguments that every kinetic action the US of A has been involved with from the Civil War forward has been pitched to the people as a bunch of lies. But such arguments won't generate a whole lotta light and much unneeded heat - because one Man's "wrong" is another Man's "war profiteers advantage".

A far stronger argument is the US of A Congress hasn't had the will to actually draft a formal Declaration of War speaks to Congress understanding the 'wrongness' of their actions.

The interpretation of the McCollum memo you give is that given by Robert Stinnett in his book Day of Deceit. There appear to be differing interpretations of the events leading to Pearl Harbor and the Wiki comments suggest that Stinnett's book claims numerous errors. An earlier book (Pearl Harbor: the Story of the Secret War by Morgenstern, 1947) cites the results of Congressional hearings into the events, which suggested that the the US military was aware that a Japanese attack was about to happen and knew the exact date, but did not know exactly where the first blow was to fall. At the time, there were diplomatic discussions about the Japanese takeover of Indochina, with the US demanding that Japan withdraw.

Whether Roosevelt actually saw the memo and took the recommended course of action, I think it's clear that he thought that the US would eventually go to war with Germany. He was already providing major material support to the British via the Lend-Lease program. If that war had begun after the fall of England and the loss of that basing area for a later attack, it would have been almost impossible for the US to win and we would all be speaking German now. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the US declared war on Japan and then Germany, who was allied with Japan, responded by declaring war on the US. Part of the Japanese surprise was the rapid attack and sinking of British battleships in Singapore and the loss of Singapore as a potential basing area, as well as the fall of the Philippines, both of which placed the US, the British and the Dutch in a very difficult strategic position. The rest, as they say, is history...

E. Swanson

he US military was aware that a Japanese attack was about to happen and knew the exact date,

Which would be a separate issue from 'was the embargo done to start a war' unless such evidence is being introduce to impute the well known honest, forthright and beyond reproach US Government motives and willingness to be truthful with its citizens.

Whether Roosevelt actually saw the memo and took the recommended course of action,

I believe history shows the actions were taken. The seeing of the memo? I can't find the web site I linked to the last time this topic came up with the 'usual suspects' saying the 'usual things' - but my memory is that site had all kinds of links detailing the memos place in history.

One can choose to believe 'embargos stop wars' or one can side with the historical POV that embargos are used to start them. If the present World War expands because of the embargo, the 'start' position will be supported.

Thanks Eric Swanson, yours is a voice of reason in an atmosphere of pure cynicism. Nothing is ever black or white, there are always shades of gray. But if one desires to see any situation as good or evil, that is the way they will paint it regardless of the evidence to the contrary.

But a true historian knows it is never that simple. And from the reading of your posts, you do appear to be a true historian. I only wish I were as versed on the history of the situation as you seem to be.

Thanks again,

Ron P.

Ron, thanks for the kind words. I'm not a historian, just have a bit of curiosity and time to read. An earlier discussion about Pearl Harbor led me to read Morgenstern's book, which apparently caused quite a ruckus when it was published, as he presented a considerably different version of events leading up to Pearl Harbor. Rather like the Pentagon Papers, which also showed real actions behind-the-scene to be much different than the existing popular perception at the time. There are still many people who do not have a deep understanding of the how and why we became involved in Vietnam. I have recently found that there were some who warned our leaders that we were going to fail in Vietnam in the early 1960's, people who were later proven to be correct. Sad to say, the US apparently repeated those mistakes after invading Iraq, because we lacked a deep understanding of the history and cultural situation...

E. Swanson

Its a sobering thought Ron but 300,000 dead in six weeks in just one city,is almost the exact total of all the American war dead in all of the the second world war.

U.S. deaths attributed to WWII

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war

Combat 'Other' Total

291,557 113,842 405,399

in you post, therefore 'war dead' ~= 'combat deaths'

just to clarify for those reading who may have the number ~ 400K in their noggins, which is 'total U.S. dead'

Yes you are right Heisenberg. it does mean combat deaths. 300,000 combat deaths is a rough ball park figure for France Italy and Great Britain, as well during the second world war. What I was trying to do was to give a comparison otherwise 300,000 looks like a telephone number to a lot of people


If we want to talk about bigger 'skin in the game', let's look at big boy warfare, for all the marbles:


"Mr. President, I didn't say we wouldn't get our hair mussed...I say 10-20 million (dead) tops, uh, depending on the breaks." (at the end of the clip)

But forget one of the better black comedy movies of all time...

Just look at the study done about a notional Pakistan-Indian exchange, with a relatively small number of weapons ...estimate upwards of 1B dead after a year or a couple, mainly due to glabal dimming and crop failures.

See the Scientific American article here:



Nuclear bombs dropped on cities and industrial areas in a fight between India and Pakistan would start firestorms that would put massive amounts of smoke into the upper atmosphere.

The particles would remain there for years, blocking the sun, making the earth’s surface cold, dark and dry. Agricultural collapse and mass starvation could follow. Hence, global cooling could result from a regional war, not just a conflict between the U.S. and Russia.

Cooling scenarios are based on computer models. But observations of volcanic eruptions, forest fire smoke and other phenomena provide confidence that the models are correct.

Its been awhile, but from what I read, it was, as is so often the cause of war, a miscalculation. The US embargoed Japenese banking, but didn't understand that this made it impossible for them to obtain oil. That they were desperate enough to strike out, wasn't apreciated.

Really, with respect to joining the European war, the Pacific war was a distraction. If Herr H, hadn't foolishly declared war on the US, I doubt we could have entered the European war, yet along make it our first war priority.

He told me that he was sitting on the board of a major oil company and that the crisis isn't 30 years out. It's considerably less than that.

Now who said the April Fools joke is dead? *wink*

He's not kidding. Frank McKenna is former Premier of Nova Scotia, former Canadian Ambassador to the United States, currently Deputy Chairman of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, and on the Board of Directors of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, a major oil company.

What he is saying is that Nova Scotia is sitting out there on the Atlantic Coast with no secure supply of oil, and he would prefer it to be on the main oil pipelines from the Canadian oil sands, which it is not at this point in time. In this Peak Oil era, that is the most secure supply of oil available to them.

Nova Scotia is in a very insecure supply position as the international oil supply peaks and starts to decline - almost as bad as the Northeast US, in fact.

Frank McKenna is former Premier of Nova Scotia

You may wish to try that again.


Pretty close. New, Nova pretty much the same thing.

Didn't he win all the provincial seats and have to pay for a proxy opposition so there could be real debates? Also Shell recently bid over a billion dollars for exploration rights offshore Nova Scotia so maybe NS (and NB) won't be entirely reliant on a pipeline from the west.

Or if he were premier prior to June 18, 1784.


Sorry, New Brunswick, next province to the west. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Nouveau-Brunswick, Nouvelle-Écosse, Terre-Neuve, those East Coast names all run together when you're nominally dyslexic like I am.

I'm not really dyslexic, I just have trouble keeping names straight.

Arnie Gundersen discusses the new revelations about Unit 2 on the latest SolarIMG podcast:

He says somewhere that the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi will still be underway in fifty years. I rather doubt it. It seems far more likely that the capacity to undertake such operations will have long since expired by that time, and the plant will remain a smoldering ruins never properly "decommissioned."

This issue of the necessity of "decommissioning" atomic reactors in general while while we as societies still have the capacity to do so - let alone the capacity to "clean up" after a disaster like Fukushima - is rarely acknowledged as even being an issue. To me it's the fundamental reason why atomic power cannot be a serious candidate for replacing the inevitable decline of fossil fuels.

the plant will remain a smoldering ruins never properly "decommissioned."

At the point where it broke it was no longer able to be "properly decommissioned."

the capacity to "clean up" after a disaster like Fukushima - is rarely acknowledged as even being an issue.

It gets mentioned quite often here with the pronukers claiming you need to build more plants to provide the energy to decommission the older plants and the proThoriumites saying Thorium is the majikal futuretech to solve the problem.

How Fukushima will become 'safe' is the same way all fission becomes 'safe' - time and the radioactive decay time brings.

"This issue of the necessity of "decommissioning" atomic reactors in general while while we as societies still have the capacity to do so - let alone the capacity to "clean up" after a disaster like Fukushima - is rarely acknowledged as even being an issue. "

You need to come back around more often, Steve. Some of us have been beating that drum until I'm sure folk's are sick of it. I've reached the point where I have to let it go sometimes, since I'm convinced that, along with greenhouse emissions, we've passed the point of being able to correct our foul tresspasses upon the future. Since we, collectively, can't solve many of our most immediate, basic problems, that we will discount these critical issues ad infinitum is pretty much assured. While I do have moments of hope, mainly local, reality always snatches me back. Our ability to blunder forward overwhelms any collective/hive conscience required to even mitigate these disasters.

It's best I go back to my garden now. There-in lies salvation, at least for the moment; a sort of 'On The Beach' strategy.


2C of warming is a pipe dream

The UN’s former climate chief on Tuesday said the global warming pledge he helped set at the Copenhagen Summit little more than two years ago was already unattainable.

“I think two degrees is out of reach,” Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said on the sidelines of a conference here on June’s Rio+20 summit.

The UNFCCC’s 195 parties have pledged to limit the rise in global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The target was set by a core group of countries in the final stormy hours at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 and became enshrined by the forum at Cancun, Mexico a year later.

But more and more scientists are warning that the objective is slipping away without radical, early cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

I wish this were an April fools joke, but it's not.

Yup! 1st of April. I'm sat writing this in a t shirt, windows open to the beautiful warm sunny spring day. Cherry trees and plum are in full bloom since late March, apple trees should follow on soon and the grass needs cutting. The fields are full of wild flowers and there's carpets of them alongside the roads, even the forest is greening up after it's winter slumber. Swallows have arrived, which reminds me of the old German saying "one swallow a summer does not make". I'm already tanned after working out in the glorious sunshine for weeks already.

I hope nature isn't playing an April fools prank on us. Basically whatever now follows will be trouble; reversion back to the mean, an unduly wet spring or continuation of trend into a blisteringly hot summer draught. The weather is becoming a game of chance. Place your bets and wait see what random weather anomalies lady luck deals you.

Weather, of course, is always something of a game of chance.

The difference is that now the dice are loaded. And going forward we will have dice with new sides never seen before.

Just to be clear, many other studies have already concluded that we are headed for at least three degrees C of warming at this point. But this is a pronouncement from the very conservative former chief climate scientist for the UN and the former head of the very conservative IPCC. When these guys are saying that keeping things to within a 2 degree range of increase is no longer possible, one can be sure that this is now an absolute certainty and things are likely much, much worse.

.7 degrees have also brought us killer heat waves in Europe in 03 and Russia over the last two years. Record-breaking droughts, floods and heatwaves will become an ever more common event in more and more places. We have bequeathed to our children a dangerous and chaotic--and increasingly lethal--climate.

Take some time to apologize to those who will inherent this horror, and while you're at it, consider how you can minimize your own contribution to the mayhem. Here's one guide--www.myfootprint.org. And of course seek out whatever kind of activism might be most effective at this point.

Yes sadly, record breaking. We have just had the soggiest March ever (since records were kept from 1881) here in Spokane

Records Falling LIke Rain

Looks like that trend is pretty general for the whole PacNW

Record Setting March Weather Continues Across Pacific Northwest

More PacNW Rainfall Records

Record Late Snowfall Portland-Eugene

Windy as heck with wave after stormy wave.


I'm north of you (Spokane) about 80 miles. Been here since '73. Days upon days of rain with no clearing have not been commonplace the past 39 years. Talking to one old-timer who remembers one year, before my time, when it never dried up enough to start cutting hay until July. When I first moved to the inland Pacific Northwest I was told, "Only fools and newcomers try and predict the weather."

Hey ewak, that is interesting, and a PNW hello. Been hereabouts (Curlew now Elk) since '77 and 'coastie' before that. Sure agree on the uncommon pattern. Generally warmer depths of winter and later wetter Springs, especially the last few.

I heard that one too ,about predictions, when I got here, (could be a theme for AGW). Another line was 'snow flies by Halloween and sticks by Thankgiving' ah well.


If you were in Curlew in '77 we were neighbors (as the crow flies). We were 7 miles up Deadman Creek on Jackknife Mtn. Moved to Kettle Falls in '88. Back-to-the-land and all that.

Wow, yep I built 3 miles up Deer Crk. (now D&D Repair) We lived less than 20 mi. apart!

Made it all the way to 50 F today, and the sun was out!

So I started my tomatoes and peppers. Yeah, I'm being an optimist, but it's time.

Sure is :) Our 'weather' cat wanted out today and actually went out.
Similarly optimistic planning longer bike ride tomorrow.

40 km today, around 24C, and more photos on the way. Not so many chicas:( So, next week do I go for the 1/2 century?


Nice going NAOM. Well, yes, as long as the knee holds up!

Yep, the taping seems to be holding the knee together, not a twinge yesterday. I'll probably put pictures up this evening while I'm hiding from the pollia.


EDIT: Up now, I have put them in sub folders and have included some other topics.


Take some time to apologize to those who will inherent this horror...

~ dohboi

I never quite bought into BAU/etc.; owned my first and last car as a teen; have lived relatively frugally and lightly on the planet all my life; and am part of the Permaculture and Transition movements.

For a little apocalyptic security (I can't believe I'm writing this.) consider joining.

Over 98% of documented species are now extinct.

Do you feel lucky?

Here in Norway in Oslo we broke the temperature record 3 times in one week for March. And in all the media it was just celebrating and happytalk. Now its quite cold again, even had some frost on the ground.
And we just passed 5 million people, and people are either "celebrating" it or neutral. And it feels like almost every week i see another field paved over or a old tree cut down.

Just another way to die ey?


"And we just passed 5 million people"

The swede I am, I always forget how few you guys are.

The beutifull spring was aborted. Snow and hail today. The forcasts is of this stuff to continue this week and the following one. I don't like staying indoors, but in this kind of spring, you don't like beeing outdoors either.

Ah, seasonal weather.

We're still disconcertingly warm in Minnesota. I've never had trouble with spring allergies this early, but we have trees blooming, the new grass has grown over the tops of last season's dead already, and it's like early June out for the plants, late June for the weather.

Weather forecast doesn't have us getting anywhere near freezing for the full forecast period.

And after basking in mid-summer like weather in Scotland last week, the same areas breaking March heat records now have a Met Office Heavy Snow Warning for tonight/tomorrow.

I'm reminded of this program that aired on Nat Geo :-

"Six Degrees Could Change the World"

Available on Netflix, for subscribers.

"Could" change? Talk about playing it safe.

People "could" also stop burning fossil fuels, stop converting forest into cattle ranches or soybean farms, and start voluntarily reducing population size, amongst other things. Unfortunately, that is unlikely.

EDIT : I should mention the Nat Geo production was from 2007. Even with all the predictions, 5 years later, we are looking at two plus degrees of warming as the baseline...

Indonesia once was as many members of OPEC are now. Will many other members of OPEC, before too long, be as Indonesia is now? An example of how tough it is to cut fuel subsidies, even after a former net oil exporter slips into net importer status:

Indonesia Delays Fuel Price Increase

JAKARTA—Indonesia delayed plans to raise government-subsidized fuel prices Saturday after nationwide protests turned politicians against the unpopular policy. After Indonesia’s Golkar party, the second-largest member of the ruling coalition, turned against the plan to increase fuel prices by 33% Friday, lawmakers were forced into marathon negotiations that went beyond midnight in the parliament.

The resulting policy that passed was that fuel prices won’t be raised April 1 as the government had originally proposed but could be lifted only if average oil prices over a six-month period rose to 15% above the government’s budgeted rate. The assumed average oil price for the 2012 budget is $105 per barrel, compared with a six-month average Indonesian crude price currently of about $116, which is lower than the 15% threshold . . .

Indonesia, which used to be a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has subsidized fuel prices for decades. While dwindling domestic output has made the country a net importer of oil even as oil prices have soared, its citizens still fill up their tanks at the equivalent of about $2 per gallon. That’s one of the lowest rates in the world. The country’s fuel-subsidy bill has ballooned to more than $15 billion a year and could climb to close to $30 billion as global oil prices have been rising this year. The amount of money Indonesia spends to keep petroleum prices low is more than 15% of the country’s budget and more than it spends on its military or its infrastructure.

Indonesia's economy is of course much more diversified than many other current net exporters, e.g., Saudi Arabia, but if former net oil exporters have this much trouble cutting subsidies even after they slip into net importer status, imagine how difficult it will be to cut subsidies while the cash flow from net exports sales is increasing, even as net export volumes decline (what I call a Phase One decline).

Regarding the subsidy/tax spectrum, Denmark is a case history of a net oil exporter, showing a production decline, that taxes fuel consumption and that has "successfully" cut their consumption. Their 2004 to 2010 rate of change numbers (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids):

P: -7.5%/year
C: -0.5%/year
NE: -18.0%/year
C/P: +6.8%/year*

*C/P ratio increased from 48% in 2004 to 72% in 2010, which implies that Denmark will approach zero net oil exports in 2015, versus net exports of about 0.2 mbpd in 2004.

Yeah, I complain about our much-too-low taxes on gasoline/diesel. But at least we are not in the terrible position of subsidizing prices (ignoring the various tax breaks given to oil companies).

From the great state of Maine...

Maine rethinks electric heat
State eyes savings, efficiency from new technology

FREEPORT -- Biting wind and sub-freezing temperatures returned to Maine last week, but inside the new Handcraft building at the Merriconeag Waldorf School here, it was cozy and calm.

Warmth was coming from two electric heaters, but not the familiar kind that send current through wires. Each unit circulates a refrigerant that was absorbing heat present in the outside air. The transferred heat was pumped into a wall-mounted evaporator, which was blowing quietly and warming the room to 65 degrees.

Unlike typical electric baseboards, this technology moves heat rather than creates it. Overall efficiency is greater than 300 percent, and operating costs are a fraction of electric resistance heat. This makes heat pumps much cheaper to run than oil or propane boilers, and it eliminates venting, chimneys and annual maintenance.

See: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/maine-rethinks-electric-heat_2012-03-...

The cost of heat is said to be the equivalent of fuel oil priced at $1.50 per gallon; the average cash price in Maine is currently $3.86 per gallon.

At a blended rate of 13.39-cents per kWh, our space heating costs for the period spanning October 1st through April 1st comes to just under $475.00.

As it now stands, we should finish the year close to the $500.00 mark; my neighbours will have likely spent anywhere from five to ten times that.


I'll second the motion from across the continent.

I'm very happy with my Mitsubishi ductless heat pump.

Comparing last March with This March it took 900 kwh off the electric bill. The base boards in the living room and dining room never came on all winter.

The only question now is how long the compressor lasts. It has run for 2600 hours so far.

In the mid-1970s I briefly rented a relatively new electric-resistance heated home in Kennebunkport and can attest it was unaffordable even then. That house was an example of the nuclear euphoria among power utilities in that era when the all-electric home was promoted. The plan was that reactors would become cheaper over time with economies of scale and electric resistance heat was heavily promoted to home contractors, who loved it because it was cheap and easy to install (more profit). There was a nod -- and only a nod -- to better insulation, but no one addressed the need for precision in home construction that's necessary for a truly energy efficient home.
When reactor costs began soaring, heat pumps came into the picture to squeeze more efficiency out of every kwh. The thermodynamic laws governing the transfer of converted fission energy across many miles of wires to heat air in a home to 70s degrees were ignored.
Just a few years after that winter in Kennebunkport I found myself working for an alternative energy research center here in Montana where one of our architects designed and built a superinsulated home that was so tight it needed an air-to-air heat exchanger to maintain good indoor air quality. It could be heated and powered every month on little more than pocket change, using really good insulation and passive solar.
I think part of the problem is the mortgage industry, as if they don't have enough problems unrelated to energy. But today you can buy identical houses as far as square footage, appearance and location -- one costs $100 a month to heat and the other $1,000. That certainly effects the ability of the owner to pay the monthly mortgage, but the owners of both houses pay the same interest rate.

I think part of the problem is the mortgage industry, as if they don't have enough problems unrelated to energy. But today you can buy identical houses as far as square footage, appearance and location -- one costs $100 a month to heat and the other $1,000. That certainly effects the ability of the owner to pay the monthly mortgage, but the owners of both houses pay the same interest rate.

This factor gets reflected in the price of the home these days. Many people in the NorthEast have seen their home prices flounder if their house was heated by fuel oil compared to houses heated by natural gas. People are slowly starting to figure things out. But there was definitely a market error for a while.

I haven't found any hard data with respect to the market value of oil-heated homes versus those served by natural gas (I've looked, but came away empty handed). Can you point me in the right direction?


Here in Missouri, our local electric co-op was encouraging electric ceiling heat back in the 70's. Apparently they were putting wires in the ceiling to heat with . I can't imagine how hot the top foot of the room ust've had to be to keep a person's feet from freezing.

that was so tight it needed an air-to-air heat exchanger to maintain good indoor air quality

We were doing this in Europe years ago. I was looking at these exchangers, in an exhibition, 15 years ago.


Great to hear it's worked out well for you. Prior to its replacement, our Friedrich logged 17,740 hours of operation in heat mode and I'm guessing another 1,000 or so hours in a/c (I never tracked its summer usage). I passed it on to one of my employees; he did the wiring and install and a buddy of his who is a HVAC technician did the final initialization, so for the cost of a couple cases of beer he was up and running and it will presumably save him several thousands of dollars on his heating costs over the remainder of its life. With virtually no maintenance to speak of beyond occasional cleaning of the filters, a top tier brand such as Mitsu, Sanyo or Fujitsu should last ten to fifteen years, and that estimate is on the conservative side.

Fuel oil locally currently sells for $1.113 a litre/$4.21 a gallon, and even with our relatively high rates (13.8-cents per kWh) our heating costs are one-half to one-third that of oil.


My daughter went to that Merriconeag school for preschool for some time. They've done some really smart things there.. and even the littlest kids helped make their own snacks, and sang songs while they cleaned up their plates. They play with simple wood toys, and make crafts with real wool and such, the food is real food! Good Folks!

That article had some interesting points of view to look at, however.. (while I no doubt appreciate your bringing it to us..)

"Chasse, the utilities' president, said spending money on heat pumps is a more cost-effective form of efficiency than spending on conservation." - lest we were thinking of investing so poorly!

The conversation that Governor LePage has been leading lately has made several disparaging points about the real usefulness of Weatherization, Insulation and Economizing programs.

Meanwhile, my mean-spirited music program has randomly let Dr.Pangloss sing to me of how West'fail'ia remains the best of all possible worlds. This must mean something!

Yeah, Bob, my tea went down the wrong way when I read that too. Improving the home's thermal envelope should always be the first order of business. That said, a change-out of heating systems could generate higher returns at the margin once you achieve a certain level of performance; thus, a $4,000.00 ductless heat pump that saves you $1,500.00 a year on your heating costs is a more compelling proposition than the same $4,000.00 spent on replacement doors and windows that might reduce your annual expenditures by, say, $200.00 or $300.00. Everything has to be stand on its own merit.

I don't wish to be disrespectful to the good Governor, but is it possible that Mr. LePage and Toronto's Rob Ford were separated at birth?

Now gracing my speakers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu3LjImHT6g


His actions are pretty consistent with that comment above..

He complains about high energy costs, and his solution is to take money from efficiency Maine's weatherizing, and create subsidies for electric heating equipment.. and encouraging importing more from Hydro Quebec.

"The bills include controversial proposals to shift money away from Efficiency Maine's conservation programs and offer low-interest loans for high-efficiency electric heating systems." - http://www.pressherald.com/news/assessing-energy-costs-effect-on-the-eco...

.. ach.. got drawn into the comments section.

Anyway.. I don't dare look up Rob Ford, but Maine is getting pretty frothed up with this contentious political situation. Portland now has a full-time elected Mayor, which seems to bring a measure of added professionalism to local politics.. hope so anyway. Knock wood that we find some Mayors to create a bit of informed pushback to the Self-styled Augusta Overlord..

I hope Efficiency Maine stands their ground because what the Governor is proposing is all wrong. And as has been stated elsewhere, Hydro-Québec is happy to sell all of the electricity Mainers want, at market prices; of course what many fail to realize is that those prices reflect costs within the buyer's market, not the seller.


On the item "Obama - Big Oil Truths and Elisions." No offense to the writer, but it seems most of the "truths" she credits Obama for speaking are likewise woven through with illusion, as are the "elisions." Mainly she gives Obama credit for telling us about the subsidies that Big Oil receives from the public. As I see it, the problem is that this message is one that is actually very politically convenient (regardless of whether it happens to be true in some sense), and itself helps to conceal more fundamentally important truths, namely the basic fact that it takes energy to get energy, and that net energy is the fundamental subsidy to society. Energy subsidies may make the net-energy equation less transparent, and therefore they may be bad for that reason (and they may be bad for other reasons as well), but am I the only one to whom the common "critical" presentation echoes with a note of falsity?

I find, on the one hand, countless treatments of "subsidies-to-big-energy" which make no mention of the fundamental subsidy that is net energy, and on the other, among energy realists, I find common knowledge of the fundamental importance of net-energy, but little in the way of attempts to respond to the usual "critical" treatments of energy subsidies, incorporating an analysis of those subsides into the larger gross-energy, net-energy equation. Can anyone point me to a balanced discussion of these issues? Has anyone given thought to them?


'Mind boggling’ U.S. warmth set or tied 7,577 record high temperatures in March

Chicago had its all-time warmest March, while New York’s Central Park had its second-hottest as thousands of new weather records were set or tied across the U.S., according to the National Weather Service.

The average temperature for the month in Chicago was 53.5 degrees Fahrenheit (11.9 Celsius). That topped the previous mark of 48.6 degrees, set in 1910 and matched in 1945, the weather service said, citing data compiled since 1873.

In New York, the average temperature was 50.9 degrees, which was 8.9 degrees above normal, while below the record 51.1 degrees in 1945, according to the weather service.

“To put it in perspective, if it was April, it would still be in the top 10, as far as warmest. It is mind-boggling,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist for AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “There are many areas across the upper Midwest that have had their warmest March ever. That seems to be where the core of the warmth was.”

My count of NCDC extremes stands at 7,690 for March and 12,643 for 1 Dec thru 31 March. The data for 31 March is likely to change a bit more as late reports are tabulated. But, looking back at 1999-2000, the totals are 5,280 and 17,505.

One aspect of these data is the fact that there are now more stations included in the computations for the most recent years, compared to data for the early 1990's or 1980's, upwards of 1,500 more. I would not be surprised to learn that some of these records are the result of the series for those extra stations exhibiting rather short time periods. Still, it's obviously rather warm, compared to living in East Asia, where we see in today's news that Russia's Pacific Sakhalin island braces for blizzard. Check back in a couple of weeks to see if the coin has flipped to the other side, perhaps the result of the storm presently over the Gulf of Alaska...

E. Swanson

As pointed out repetedlyon this site, it is not the number of records that matters, but the ratio.

If climate remains stable, and you double the number of weather stations, you will double the number of records, but the ratio will be 1/1 cold/warm. Now the ratio of cold/warm records have passed 1/4 long ago, and I have heard it is now up towards 1/14.

Paul Douglas, one of our local meteorologists and a bit of a celebrity around here has quite a take on the situation (both climactic and political).


Lake Erie water temperatures set a bunch of all time highs in March with data going back to 1927.


At least seven days in March with water temps of 40 F or higher. From 1927 to 2011 the water in March had never been in the forties.

Although weather watchers have been amazed, this even has largely been dismissed by the general public as just a mild spring. If this had happened mid-summer, it may have changed the climate change conversation. But since it was in March, it will be forgotten.

30 years after Falklands war, visible scars remain


...Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher mobilized an armada that traveled 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) and quickly drove the Argentines to surrender. The military force that remains has enabled the islands to diversify from a sheep-farming backwater into a potential offshore oil hub that could make the islanders the world's richest people.

That infuriates Argentines who see an imperial enemy dominating the developing world's resources again. And it has islanders feeling more suspicious than ever that their neighbor wants to take over everything they've built.

Are the potential oil reserves in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands (and other islands such as South Georgia etc)that big of a deal in the big scheme of things, or are they more small beer?

Epitaph on a tombstone:

In Memory of Thomas Thetcher

a Grenadier in the North Reg. of Hants Militia, who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small Beer when hot the 12th of May 1764. Aged 26 Years.


I can't think of a better way to go: drinking beer (I'd much prefer that it was large, rather than small) and having women think that I was hot (I'm 60 and not).
But 26 is a touch early....

"Small beer" is low-alcohol beer. Sailors used to drink beer and rum rather than water because the water was frequently contaminated and alcohol killed the bacteria in it. I think his shipmates are implying that if had drunk strong beer like the rest of them, rather than small beer, he would still be alive.

Later on, in the 1790's, they started putting lemon juice into the rum ration to prevent scurvy. All in all, I think the chances of a teetotaler surviving a long sea voyage under those conditions were rather poor, so all good sailors were heavy drinkers.

I also heard that the rum ration for crew would be watered down on delivery into 'Grog' so it couldn't be stashed and built into a 'real party's worth'.. I guess for fear of Mutinous Benders.. and the diluted stuff could go bad and make one 'Groggy'..

(Here in Portland, 120 years back, even kids would be falling down in the streets, Rum Drunk. It was a tough time, before Coke came around..)

Its a matter of safety, not fear of mutiny. Having drunks in your operation has always been asking for trouble. Officers preferred that their crew didn't fall off the top of a mast, let go of the wrong rope, or set off the gunpowder at the wrong time.

Having a drunk crew was a recipe for a mutiny, whereas having a somewhat inebriated crew was perfect for exchanging broadsides with the enemy ships. They wouldn't worry as much about the prospects of getting blown to bits by opposing fire.

Accuracy with the cannons was not critical since the old smooth bore cannons couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door anyway, although they could hit the broad side of an opposing ship at close range.

Waking Up to the End of the World as We Know It

TOD is going offline again?

Thanks for all the effort to get 'er back on track.

Concerns over India rivers order

A supreme court order in India asking the government to link more than 30 rivers and divert waters to parched areas has sparked concerns in neighbouring countries.

The project's basic idea is to take water from areas where authorities believe it is abundant and divert it to areas where there is less available for irrigation, power and human consumption.

Official Indian documents have stated that the country - with its population of 1.2 billion - is increasingly water-stressed.

Some 10 years ago, the super-ambitious scheme was billed at $120bn and was estimated that it would take 16 years to complete.

I thought there was a slight chance Leanan would link to this press release in Drumbeat (because I know she ran across it in her search from Drumbeat items), but my book is officially published:

Robert Rapier Reflects on Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil in his Latest Book

I have a plug to TOD in the Acknowledgements as well as TOD's URL. Once more I would like to thank all of the TOD readers who helped out when I asked for feedback on what to include in the book.

*clap* *clap*
Congrats on getting the book out.

Thanks, I'll wait for the movie ! Not really, Congratulations on your book. I hope someone reviews it here.

Your books pops up first under my google news which includes articles related to peak oil.

I am looking forward to reading it :-)

Best Hopes for Sales,

Email and Web Use 'To be Monitored' Under New Laws

The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon.

Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.

Employers asking/demanding prospective employees' Facebook passwords or to be provided access to all their Facebook stuff, including Facebook email??


Video of the Maryland Department of Corrections officer who says that the MDC forced him to give them access to his FB account as part of a mandatory background check, and I presume as a condition of his further employment.


As per usual, Congress is unwilling to step in and provide any protections for the nation's citizens:


The man's settings are at the most private level, and the state of Maryland demands access to snoop...the way the article is written, it appears that this 'employer right' is by no means restricted to demanding access to FB...

...How long till your insurance companies demand access to all your social media and blog accounts, even if they are restricted by you as 'private'?

TOD will be treated no different...

On March 16, Barack Obama signed the National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order, which gives the U.S. President the power of command and control over all energy, production, transportation, food, and water resources for national defense and national security -- not just limited to war.

Is this an April Fool joke?

If not, isn't anybody else freaked out by this? Am I reading it wrong?

"command and control over ALL":

energy resources- the electric grid and the natural gas pipelines that supply your house, the fuel in your vehicle; the tanks at your local service station

production resources- the tools in your garage, the garden in your yard, your land; your local workshops and factories; hell, if the 'resource' is computing power, the computer on your desk

transportation resources- your car, your bicycle; your local transit system

food resources- the contents of your cupboards, your refrigerator, your freezer; the shelfstocks at your local supermarket

water resources- the well in your yard, your municipal water supply

That's it for the preppers; their stuff just got nationalized.

I know this is an extreme interpretation, but the word ALL allows such an interpretation to occur. Heebie-jeebies, anyone?

Here's the text of the order, straight from the White House.


It's just one in a several decades long list of such orders. The question I have: "what are the new powers claimed in this executive order"

I haven't received an answer yet, and haven't tried to do the analysis myself.
Here is one similar, earlier order:
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/pdf/12919.pdf (1994)

Witness at least on major Obama policy initiative that has received nary a peep of protest from the Republicans, at least AFAIK.

Although I dispute the idea that the Ds and Rs are exactly the same, on this front they appear to be unified.

Edit: Before I retired from th AF, about 5-6 years ago, I found a reference on the Internet to a five-tier U.S. National mobilization schema...I was interested on for how long Uncle Sugar can compel me to come back in Uniform...the five tiers ranged from minor military actions which required no 'call-ups', clear up to 'stage 5', which was depicted as a WWII 'total war' effort (the car factories making tanks, resource rationing, the whole smear).

I suspect, like so many other Presidential Orders/Directives, this one does not cut policy from whole cloth, but extends and builds upon likely a whole string of previous such Presidential Directives.

Oh, I think the answer is that we vets can be recalled until we stop breathing...and the rest of yuse non-vets can likely be compelled by a draft anyways.

You have to figure that the USG likely has contingencies to attempt to manage eventualities such as an asteroid strike, super-volcano, Level-4 zombie apocalypse, etc (assuming the USG is functional at all)...I imaging any such contingency plans would involve an authoritarian command & control type of operating concept. After all, it is widely thought that such plans existed for a post-WMD exchange scenario...

Yes well things are pretty bad.

We can talk all we want about "transition towns" and insulation and bikes and fuel efficient cars, but what will your response be when the armored cars and tanks roll down your street? When the roads are blocked and you can't travel anywhere? When young men with guns show up on your doorstep? When you can't get your money out of a bank? When the laws are changed so that everything you thought was yours now belongs to the government or a large corporation?

What will the response be of your neighbors? Of the mayor of your town? Of the governor of your state?

This is what the Occupy movement discovered. They were hanging out and then the riot police came. So much for that.

And remember, when they come, it will always be in the name of "safety."

The rabbit hole just goes too deep at this point, especially in America where the banks and the Pentagon want complete control over everything. One doesn't need to be paranoid nut, or be living in a remote cabin in Idaho, to admit to this.

We've got to change the way we are doing things at every level.

This may be cold comfort, but I seriously doubt that the U.S. stands alone in having such plans for 'significant events', including catastrophes. England, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, (...)

I would be surprised, bit not shocked, to learn that there is some sort of global concept of operations in response to various widespread emergencies/catastrophes.

Perhaps there may be widely dispersed redoubts, akin to the Svalbard seed vault, across the globe.

...kind of like a distributed 'Terminus' with a 'First Foundation' to reboot 'civilization'...not on the the Moon like Newt would like (or as in 'Iron Sky'), but maybe the purported extensive network of Chinese tunnels could play into that concept.

A 'Second Foundation' would need to be amongst the population, hiding in plain sight...

Respects and credit to I. Asimov.

Nothing you or I can do but 'keep on keeping on'...if TSHTF keep a low profile, be useful but not too useful, and toe the line or go out in a blaze of glory if that is your druthers....

H - No reason the fed govt shouldn't have a contingency plan. Texas does. For instance any time the Texas Rail Road Commision feels it has become neecessary to preserve our energy resources they can reduce the allowable production rate of all oil wells in the state. They vote every month on the allowable and have maintained it at 100% since the early 70's. They could just as easily set the allowable at 50% and thus reduce production (and the amount available to ship to the rest of the country) by half. They can't even be challenged in court...been done many times so there's strong presidence including affirmation of its right to do so by SCOTUS.


I agree...why would it not be a good idea to have contingency plans?

...and why would it be unreasonable to expect some authoritarian control during a period of crisis following a catastrophe? Our norms and expectation with regard to the Constitution would take a back seat to survival if the circumstances were dire.

It would be nice to imagine the government restoring a semblance of the previous paradigm at some point in a recovery phase, but we speculate about castles in the sky...

...such scenarios would be so far off our mental maps that we should mark them with 'there be dragons here', and not lose any sleep over it. Likely all of us here will die before any such events come to pass.


There is some effort in place to track asteroid threats:


There have been some conferences and concepts on how to deflect such threats....I do not know of any ideas to defuse something like the latent potential for a Yellowstone super-volcano though....AGW...the chips will fall where they will.

I remember quite well when Texas raised the allowable to 100% during the early 70's. It was a shock. Those were the days of import restrictions, as well as political slogans such as the cynical "Burn America First" and "Strength Through Exhaustion". Unfortunately as Texas lost flexibility pricing power passed to Saudi Arabia.

The joy of executive orders and the continuity of government.

Concern over this goes back to at least WWII with REXX84 being the 1st time I'd seen it mentioned back in the 1980's.

Lawyer: It's Illegal for Employers to Ask Job Seekers for Facebook Passwords in Canada

Across the board, legislation is more stringent here than in the US with regards to protecting private information, Paul told Citytv. He noted that, while there aren't yet laws dealing specifically with social media, Canada has "always respected privacy rights."

In a nutshell, employers "do not have ... access to personal information." Facebook passwords are no exception here - so if an interviewer demands your password, feel free to call them out. Or just ask them for their housekeys in exchange; the differences are negligible.

Facebook threatens to sue employers who request job seekers’ account passwords

Facebook has threatened to sue employers who ask job seekers for their passwords for the social networking site, calling such a request a violation of the Facebook user agreement.

“We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer has announced.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has weighed in on the issue, saying in a Facebook post that asking for passwords would violate the province’s human rights code.

“Employers should not ask job applicants for access to information stored on social media or other online sites and that doing so could leave an employer open to a claim of discrimination under the Code,” it said.

“Employers could face a finding of discrimination even if there is no intention to discriminate. The fact that improper questions have been asked is sufficient to prove discrimination, even if the applicant is ultimately given the job,” it said.

So, US trends notwithstanding, Canadian employers are backing away from the issue as rapidly as possible for fear of being jumped on from an extreme height.

Sorry, but if someone asks for my FB account i'll just say i don't have one or give him a fake one. Email can be encrypted and net activity hidden.

These are empty threats that will only end up naming and shaming those companies that put them in place. Not that we shouldn't get nice and angry about the fact they dared to even think it.

They are usually just empty threats, but unfortunately most people don't have the guts to stare down an HR rep and just say no. If you do, there is usually just an awkward pause in the conversation and then you move on to the next topic.

This, of course, requires you to have lots of money in your bank account or a very good line of credit in case they are not bluffing, and you might have to go a few months or a couple of years without a job until the current recession is over.

Teacher's Aide Says She's Suspended Over Facebook

Hester was a teacher's aide at an elementary school in southwestern Michigan but worked for the intermediate school district that serves Cass County. She says Superintendent Robert Colby asked to see her Facebook page but she declined, asserting privacy.

WSBT-TV says Hester got a letter saying the district would "assume the worst and act accordingly."

TOD will be treated no different...

For jobs in the Obama white house you had to ID all the places you posted online.

It strikes me that that is a way to get an extremely narrow, homogenous, "safe" group of people together. Probably people who intentionally don't go to many websites because they are politically "unsafe" for their future career in government.

I am pretty sure this is true of most high-security jobs in the government, now that I think of it. Anything above "secret" requires various psychological tests.

They have to "vet" those people, too. One errant comment at one website causes a big "scandal" for the administration. Even something innocent "taken out of context."

People are not smart sometimes about what they post online -- I am often amazed when I read comments at sites like Alternet or Common Dreams. Others are worse -- I don't even feel comfy opening some of them. I'd like to read that Glenn Beck site sometime, but I'd be mortified if somebody found out. But then my mom and her mom and her mom before her "always said," fools names and fools faces often appear in public places." And when I was in third grade, I wrote a note to a classmate girlfriend saying that I "liked" some boy -- I never passed it to the friend and my mom found it in my pocket. That's when she told me to NEVER write anything down with the assumption that it would be "confidential." When you write something you must assume that anybody might read it, she told me. I don't do Facebook or tweeting and such. Whose business is it that "I just ate a pickle," anyway?

The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon.

I remember reading 1984 when I was 16 and just thought it was a creative writing flight of paranoia, that would never happen. Then decades later learned of the Stazi in East Germany, but certainly never entertained the possibility the UK would go that route. I suppose their justification is loss of freedom to protect freedom. Funny how we lose the very thing we seek, that wars are supposedly fought over.

It's probably just a simple case of it just being too tempting. Here there is this data base that encompasses the majority of its citizens and the obvious opportunity to hone processers to pinpoint possible lawlessness is so much faster and cost effective they simply cannot hold themselves back from the temptation.

What will this invasive technology be used for when at some time in an even more conservative future, someone like Santorum is President? We might be pushed back into a Victorian era.

I heard something a couple of years ago that was just vile and obscene. The Stanford school of Journalism was going to teach the Iraqis how to have a free press. Can you imagine.

Re: Volcker rule could raise energy prices, study says

I'm not totally sold on Dodd-Frank, but I see the benefits of the Volcker rule. And here we have the powers that be of course complaining about limitations on investments in hedge and equity funds will cause deleterious economic effects. And that's exactly right, because most of the purported "growth" since 2008 has been dishonest growth in the form of windfall speculative gains in the world's capital markets due to decisions such as TARP, QE1, QE2, etc. This of course tends to enrich anybody but those on main street.

The banks of course would love to see this dishonest growth continue but if we are to have any chance of making real progress on restructuring our economy for post-peak realities then this dishonesty has to be called out and stopped.

So a trading firm that profits from speculation contracted a consulting company that largely works for oil companies who benefit from high prices thinks that the Volcker rule will raise energy prices? I'm shocked!

Ironically, that study itself is an example of conflict of interest problems that the Volcker rule is trying to address.

I really like some work of the Salvation Army but food and gasoline subsidies are unsustainable.

Rising cost of groceries a heavy burden for struggling families

“We get more new people coming in each month,” Radle said. “The biggest thing is the people coming in that are new or haven’t come in in a while. It hits you; you know something’s going on that’s making it harder.”

She said food stamps aren’t stretching as far as they used to. The pantries try to provide customers with at least three days worth of groceries at a time, supplied mostly through the Feed My People Food Bank.

The Salvation Army gets some federal funding and grant money, though Radle said many contributions come from community donations.

Along with groceries, she said the Salvation Army is also providing more gas cards to families at its Eau Claire facility for job interviews or medical appointments.

“We’ve had a higher request for those gas cards, too,” Radle said. “People say they really can’t get anywhere with the higher gas prices.”

Interesting how reports like this highlight the increasing struggles of the lower income brackets, while MSM keeps cheering on minimally encouraging economic signs.

Politically there is a continuing massive effort on finding ways to lower taxes for the top earners in order to ingratiate the system to their benefit as a way of further rewarding their success, almost like there is a pervading fear the super wealthy will skip out on this country if they're not appreciated enough. I guess Kennedy's question of ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country is changing to; Ask what we can all do to help them get richer. Row harder people!

Fuel supply cuts coming. Oil cos warn

New Delhi: State-owned oil companies today warned of disruptions in fuel supplies if they are not allowed to raise petrol price or compensated for the Rs 48 crore per day loss they incur on selling fuel below cost.

"The situation is very critical. We are losing Rs 7.67 per litre on petrol and after adding 20 per cent sales tax, the desired increase in rates in Delhi is Rs 9.20 per litre," Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman R S Butola told reporters said.

I don't think they will resort to cuts as they will eventually be bailed out with subsidies but the problem is quite clear. On the other thread people were talking about BAU continuing, this doesn't look like BAU to me.

Thanks for posting this.

Fuel supply cuts coming. Oil cos warn

Was this the link? Was having a little trouble with the other.

State-run oil marketing companies plan to raise petrol prices by Rs 5 a litre from next month after they get an informal nod from the oil ministry,

Would that be about 7%? Getting to around $6 US per gallon.

My guess is that households and vendors are operating on razor thin margins and have already optimised fuel usage in many ways most Americans cannot even fathom.

Meaning these hikes and/or shortages have a whole other meaning from a little bit of pain at the pump.