Drumbeat: April 4, 2012

The End of the Saudi Oil Reserve Margin

President Obama’s sanctions plan on Iran follows an old Mideast policy playbook. Western moves against an oil-exporting country take place with the cooperation of Saudi Arabia. U.S. strategy requires the Saudis to ramp up production and replace Iranian exports in hope of avoiding a damaging spike in prices.

It’s a familiar scenario: At one time or another, the Saudis have been called upon to replace exports from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and, most recently, Libya. The idea is to have your cake and eat it—to meet U.S. foreign policy goals without disrupting oil markets and antagonizing the American motorist.

But the old playbook may have to be torn up. This time Saudi Arabia is struggling to assume its usual role as the oil market’s swing supplier. This can be seen in current market tightness and in U.S. gasoline prices, which are edging toward $4, a dangerous prospect at election time.

Oil Falls a Second Day on Supply as Fed May Halt Stimulus

Oil dropped for a second day amid rising crude stockpiles and speculation the Federal Reserve may refrain from more monetary stimulus to boost the U.S. economy.

Futures slipped as much as 1.1 percent in New York, extending yesterday’s drop. An American Petroleum Institute inventory report after the market closed showed an increase in crude supplies three times larger than analysts expect a separate report from the Energy Department to show later today. Federal Reserve minutes from a March policy meeting showed it plans to hold off from increasing monetary accommodation unless economic expansion falters.

“I don’t think we really have a problem with supply right now,” said Sintje Boie, an analyst at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg who predicts Brent crude will stay at about $120 a barrel until the middle of the year. “We’ll only see oil prices between $130 and $150 if there’s an escalation in the conflict with Iran. But I think we’ll get some kind of diplomatic solution.”

Gas prices pause their rise, but it's just a pause

NEW YORK — The surge in gasoline prices has stalled around $3.92 per gallon, but experts caution that more increases are coming.

Many refineries still haven't undergone a seasonal maintenance period that will force them to produce less gas. That will tighten supplies in some parts of the country, especially in the Great Lakes region, and push prices higher.

"In about two weeks we're going to see more refineries go into maintenance, and prices are going to creep up," said Patrick DeHaan, a retail price expert with GasBuddy.com. DeHaan expects the national average to rise to between $3.95 and $4.35 per gallon by the end of April.

Gasoline prices spike before Easter weekend

Canadians woke up to spiking gasoline costs this morning, with prices reaching 140.1 cents a litre in Toronto and 147.9 in Montreal.

That's about eight per cent higher than a year ago, even though crude oil prices are lower.

Gulf in Oil Prices May Set Up Market for a Fall

The price of front-month oil Brent crude futures has ballooned to more than $30 above the cost of contracts for delivery in 2018, which some say calls into question the claims of those who believe that oil output has peaked.

The disparity between the two dates suggests that current high prices may be just temporary, rather than a long-term phenomenon, some analysts said.

UK gas curve at four-week low on weak oil

LONDON (Reuters) - British benchmark front-season gas opened Wednesday's session at a four-week low on weaker oil prices and may extend losses as it is approaching a key technical support level, traders said.

Stop finger-pointing on gas prices

(CNN) -- For most Americans, energy policy right now is all about gasoline prices. And given the political claims and counterclaims on this issue being tossed about, it's no wonder that the public is both skeptical and confused. Republicans charge that the president is responsible for higher prices at the pump, and a certain GOP presidential hopeful has even been so bold as to promise a return to $2.50 a gallon gasoline.

How can the average American, already feeling the impact of higher prices, filter through the nonsense and noise?

Solutions for High Gas Prices

It is common knowledge that there is no quick fix for high gas prices.

Reducing our reliance on oil is going to be a long-term effort and we’re probably in for higher prices no matter what we do because we’re facing a number of macro trends – including tight global supplies (peak oil), ongoing tensions with Iran, etc., and perhaps also some amount of speculation in oil prices.

But is it really true that we can’t do anything to bring down gas prices in the short-term? Maybe not. There are in fact a number of policies that could have a rapid impact on demand and possibly even bring down gas prices dramatically.

The Oil Rich States in the USA

Though it is not always the cause, the States with the most Crude Oil reserves generally have strong economies.

6 of the 10 states with the most reserves have among the lowest unemployment rates in the Country; 7 had the smallest increases in the unemployment rate from Y's 2004 to 2010; and 8 of the states had the largest increases in median household income from Y 2005 to 2010.

Oil costs and piracy take toll on shipping

Rising oil prices and piracy are among the biggest threats to the global shipping industry, says the UAE Minister of Economy.

"The oil price fluctuation … in the short term is not positive and will impact the maritime trade," Sultan Al Mansouri told a delegation at the World Ports and Trade Summit in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Somalia: EU antipiracy force to 'seize initiative'

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The European Union's anti-piracy military force will become more proactive in the fight against pirates, the departing force commander said Tuesday, in an effort to seize the initiative in an evolving battle that is moving closer to land.

The EU Naval Force announced last month that it will expand its mission to include Somalia's coast and waterways inside the country for the first time. Rear Adm. Jorge Manso, whose tenure as force commander ends Saturday, said the EU force's mission is evolving.

The cost of blunting peak oil

The notion of “peak oil” says that the world’s rate of oil production will hit a permanent decline, if it hasn’t already. It’s one compelling reason why we’re supposed to pursue alternative fuel sources, especially for transportation, where oil rules.

But as the latest Time Magazine notes (subscription may be necessary, although you get a few free trial issues), we’re so addicted to the stuff that we are paying a huge premium both financially and environmentally to extract it from harder to reach places often using unconventional drilling techniques.

There’s no place like home... that’s just as well given the cost of petrol

What we saw last week was a taste of Peak Petrol. Ok, we didn’t run out, but people behaved as if we were about to.

Will High Gas Prices Bring On Another Summer of the ‘Staycation’?

Record-high gas prices have already hit certain parts of the country. The national average is creeping closer and closer to $4 per gallon, with steady increases expected for the months ahead. Soaring fuel costs and consolidation in the airline industry have brought about a surge in flight prices, while hotel prices have spiked recently as well. All of these factors make the argument that if money is tight in your household, it’s wise to vacation this summer close to home, or perhaps without even leaving home.

Remember the “staycation“? In 2009, when recession concerns reached their peak, the term came into widespread use, referring to the practice of staying home (or close to home) as a money-saving alternative to the traditional vacation involving a flight or long road trip.

Why Obama shouldn't tap U.S. oil reserves

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As U.S. sanctions on Iran tighten and gas prices reach record levels, it is becoming more likely that a release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is in the works. Yet analysts aren't convinced tapping the SPR is a good idea.

The Philippines: How to Slay the Oil Price Monster

How do we deal with Big Oil? First of all, get rid of the fear of retaliation. Secretary Almendras evoked this fear when he said last year, in response to demands on him to discipline the oil companies, “What can we do when the oil companies tell us they want to back out?” Let us not be naive: these companies cannot afford to leave the Philippines, since it will remain a profitable market even if their superprofits are trimmed by government action. A key rule in capitalist economics is, never, never leave a market you dominate.

Oil production still unstable in Libya

Post-war Libya is likely to struggle to maintain oil production levels and boost pumping capacity, as funding constraints and security concerns could prevent the country's oil company and foreign oil firms from making necessary investments.

Constraints on investments in existing facilities and exploration activity, as well as security concerns, could hamper the work of the country's National Oil Corporation (NOC) and foreign operators.

US Unveils Plan to Cut Onshore Oil Drilling Permit Application Time

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced a plan Tuesday to expedite permits for oil and natural gas drilling on public lands.

Under attack from Republicans who say the administration isn't doing enough to promote domestic energy production, the Interior Department said it was switching to an automated system for reviewing drill-permit applications.

The new system should cut the review time from 298 to 60 days, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said Tuesday.

Insight: Lost in translation: U.S. refining model floors Petroplus

CORRINGHAM, UK (Reuters) - Flush with success in building up his oil refining business in the United States, New Yorker Thomas O'Malley was confident he could repeat the trick in Europe at the helm of Petroplus.

Now the man nicknamed the "godfather of refining" has gone, Swiss-based Petroplus is in administration and only one of its five refineries has avoided at least temporary closure.

The future of all five remains in doubt, threatening thousands of jobs in central and northern Europe.

Chesapeake 'Optimistic' for Future Ohio Utica Shale Production

Initial drilling results from Chesapeake Energy's Ohio Utica shale activity continues to fuel the company's optimism over the future production from the play, Keith Fuller, director of corporate development for Chesapeake, said in a statement.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on Monday reported that five Ohio Utica shale wells operated by Chesapeake subsidiary Chesapeake Appalachia produced 45,513 barrels of oil and 2.5 MMcf of gas in 2011.

Falkands anniversary sparks attack on British Embassy in Buenos Aires

A Falklands protest in Argentina took a violent turn outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires on April 2, the 30th anniversary of the war between the two nations.

Demonstrators, who had earlier been part of an organised march on the embassy by left-wing political groups, threw rocks and home made explosives at police.

Impact of Iran Sanctions Widens

The Iran sanctions effort led by the United States appeared to be causing new fractures in the Iranian economy on Tuesday, with leading oil companies in South Africa and Greece suspending imports of Iran’s crude oil, further signs of emergency self-reliance emerging in Iran, and an influential former Iranian president publicly challenging his country’s anti-American stoicism.

Showa Shell to buy Iranian crude in April -sources

(Reuters) - Showa Shell Sekiyu KK , Japan's largest buyer of Iranian crude, will import oil from the Islamic Republic in April even though differences over terms have held up an annual contract renewal, three sources said on Wednesday.

Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer, is cutting imports as the United States and European Union tighten sanctions on Iran in response to its nuclear programme, making it difficult for refiners to find shippers, insurers to underwrite trade and banks to clear payments.

Tensions mount on Syria-Lebanon border

WADI KHALED, Lebanon – Lush mountains melt into the valley separating Syria from Lebanon, a haven for smugglers and more recently an underground railroad for Syrians fleeing their country's army.

Thousands of Syrians are scratching out an existence on the other side of the 200-mile border with Lebanon after escaping a year-long military assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Essar Oil Loses Bid to Overturn $1.2 Billion Tax Payment Order

Essar Oil Ltd. (ESOIL) lost a bid to overturn an order that it pay 63 billion rupees ($1.2 billion) in sales tax to the Gujarat state government, with India’s top court today rejecting the request. The shares plunged.

Mexican plan for Gulf deepwater wells sparks new worries

MEXICO CITY — Two years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, Mexico's state oil company is about to test its hand at drilling at extraordinary depths in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil Company Says Gas Leak Costs $2.5 Million a Day

LONDON — Total, the French oil company, said Monday that a natural gas leak off the coast of Scotland was costing it $2.5 million a day and that it was too early to say when it could be stopped.

Chevron Sued for Another $11 Billion on Brazil Oil Spill

Chevron Corp. and Transocean Ltd. are being sued for another 20 billion reais ($11 billion) by a Brazilian federal prosecutor in a new lawsuit over a second oil spill at the Frade field off the nation’s coast.

Chevron committed “a series of errors” that led to the March spill at the project, the federal prosecutor’s office said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira is also seeking to halt operations at Frade and block Chevron from transferring profits from Brazil, according to the statement.

EDF Sticks to U.K. Nuclear Projects as RWE, EON Quit Vent

Electricite de France SA, the world’s biggest operator of atomic plants, remains committed to developing nuclear reactors in the U.K. even after Germany’s two biggest utilities abandoned projects in the country.

Paying car loans comes first with many consumers

"Consumers need their cars to either get to work or seek employment," says Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting at TransUnion, citing the "still stubbornly high" unemployment rate of 8.3%.

Becker also says that with a "really, really strong" used car market, consumers are more willing to protect the value of their car by staying current on payments. Whereas with the housing market still recovering and many homes worth less than what consumers owe on them, there's less motivation to make mortgage payments on a "negative asset."

Strong car sales signal automakers' comeback

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Big Three U.S. automakers all reported strong March sales, as buyers flocked to dealerships in numbers not seen in years to buy everything from fuel-efficient small cars to large pickups.

Industrywide U.S. sales rose 12.7%, according to sales tracker Autodata, capping the best quarter for auto sales in the United States since the first quarter of 2008, before the combination of a gas price spike and the meltdown in financial markets later that year devastated sales and nearly led to the end of the U.S. auto industry.

The new normal in American cars

Yes, the Detroit automakers are enjoying a rebound. But, since the last recession, the U.S. market has shifted dramatically.

Wheels of tomorrow: Fossil fuels

Analysts predict that gasoline engines will still be the predominant powertrain sold in the U.S. a decade from now, capturing 68% of the market, down from 83% in 2011. But how fast their share actually shrinks will depend on a number of factors ranging from the price of oil to the pace of improvements in the cost and efficiency of alternative powertrains like natural gas, batteries, and fuel cells. In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

Wheels of tomorrow: Why Boone Pickens loves gas

FORTUNE -- In March, the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would have provided billions of dollars in tax credits to boost deployment of natural-gas-powered vehicles. That won't stop billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, who championed the plan. He still believes natural gas is the best way to help America reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

Fisker unveils its new Atlantic plug-in car

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Fisker Automotive, best known as the manufacturer of the Fisker Karma, a high-end plug-in luxury car, unveiled its next model, the Atlantic, Tuesday night in advance of the New York Auto Show.

7 electric cars for the future

These pure-electric cars are now available or will soon be in the U.S.

Questions raised over novel fund approach for high-speed rail

SACRAMENTO - California's revised plan to build the nation's first high-speed rail system identifies an alternative source of funding if federal and private-sector contributions fail to materialize - fees generated from California's new cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions.

However, there are legal and logistical questions about whether those fees, which could range from $660 million to $3 billion in the first year of the cap-and-trade program, could be used to build a high-speed rail line.

The new American household: 3 generations, 1 roof

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As the economy continues to take a toll on consumers' finances, a growing number of people are discovering that becoming roommates with mom and dad, or a 20- or 30-something son or daughter, helps to ease some of the financial pain in tough times.

As of 2010, 4.4 million U.S. homes held three generations or more under one roof, a 15% increase from 3.8 million households two years earlier, according to the latest data available from the Census Bureau.

Permaculture: a new dominant narrative?

Of course permaculture is the antithesis of the current dominant narrative with its focus on small scale solutions, distributed local decision making and conservation rather than consumption of resources. For this reason it will get scant attention from those who control the current dominant narrative. But that is okay, because for those who do question the dominant narrative it provides an avenue of hope as well as a practical alternative to the status quo in the twilight years of the perpetual economic growth narrative.

What’s the Buzz? Inside the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference

“Advanced biofuels are a key component of President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy to limit the impact that foreign oil has on our economy and take control of our energy future,” said Vilsack. “By bringing together farmers, scientists, and the private sector to produce fuel for the American military, we can help spur an industry producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks all over the nation, strengthen our middle class, and help create an economy built to last.”

The Secretary told delegates at ABLC, “there are many reasons you must succeed,” noting job creation, consumer choice on fuels, US revival of manufacturing, energy security, opportunities for rural economic development and progress on emissions among the reasons that advanced biofuels were what he termed “the centerpiece” of a bio-based economy.

Senators show yellow card to DOD biofuels

SInce the beginning of this year the Department of Defense was going full speed with its "greening" efforts, particulary with biofuels. Then two US senators have shown the courage to question it.

Environmental Rules: Job Killers or Job Creators?

The E.P.A. and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which reviews all proposed federal regulations, have never used job figures as part of the calculus of the costs and benefits of rule-making, largely because there is no accepted methodology for assessing them.

But on Tuesday, the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University’s School of Law said in a new report that despite the limitations of current methods of measuring job gains and losses, they should be considered when drawing up future environmental rules.

Obama’s been quite good on environment

Environmentalists had great expectations for Obama, which he has only partially met. In fairness, he has faced daunting obstacles: inheriting eight years of environmental neglect under President Bush and facing a Republican opposition determined to block him at every turn.

Perhaps the president’s strongest, and least appreciated, conservation achievements have come in the area of land protection. Compiling the strongest land conservation record in two decades, the Obama administration has protected 26 million acres of public land (including four new national parks) and stopped uranium mining that threatened the Grand Canyon. He also took on environmentally devastating mountaintop-removal coal mining by toughening protections for water quality and canceling some especially egregious Bush era permits.

Trash Saved by Waste Management Worth Up to $40 Billion

Waste Management Inc. (WM), the biggest trash hauler in the U.S., estimates the $12.3 billion it gets for carting off rubbish to landfills may be worth more than $40 billion a year in energy.

That’s the value of fuel and chemicals the Houston-based company estimates could be extracted from the 112 million tons of trash it collected last year if the entire waste stream was diverted from landfills, said Carl Rush, senior vice president of Waste Management’s Organic Growth unit.

Advanced power-grid research finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West

The least expensive way for the Western U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

The experts reached this conclusion using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the electric power grid, to study generation, transmission and storage options for the states west of the Kansas/Colorado border. The model will be an important tool for utilities and government planners.

China's grain at risk from climate change

China's agricultural security is at risk from climate change and the selling of arable lands.

"Food security remains the weakest link in China's national economic security," Han Jun, deputy director of the State Council's Development Research Center told China Daily.

Hey gang, there's an interesting book review on "procreation vs. overpopulation" over at the New Yorker.

The first book asks whether there is a morally persuasive case for having children and answers no. After tackling the claim that procreation benefits the child, the author takes on other arguments:

Some people justify the decision to have children on the ground that they are perpetuating a family name or a genetic line. But “is anyone’s biological composition so valuable that it must be perpetuated?” Overall asks. Others say that it’s a citizen’s duty to society to provide for its continuation. Such an obligation, Overall objects, “would make women into procreative serfs.”

Still others argue that people ought to have children so there will be someone to care for them in their old age. “Anyone who has children for the sake of the supposed financial support they can provide,” Overall writes, is “probably deluded.”

Finally, lots of people offer the notion that parenthood will make them happy. Here the evidence is, sadly, against them. Research shows that people who have children are no more satisfied with their lives than people who don’t. If anything, the balance tips the other way: parents are less happy. In an instantly famous study, published in Science in 2004, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman asked nine hundred working women to assess their experiences during the preceding day. The women rated the time they’d spent taking care of their kids as less enjoyable than the time spent shopping, eating, exercising, watching TV, preparing food, and talking on the phone. One of the few activities these women found less enjoyable than caring for their children was doing housework, which is to say cleaning up after them.

But none of this really matters. Procreation for the sake of the parents is ethically unacceptable. “To have a child in order to benefit oneself is a moral error,” Overall writes.

The second book, "Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence," argues that humans should refrain from procreation completely:

If we all saw the harm we were doing by having children and put a stop to it, within a century or so the world’s population would drop to zero. For Benatar, this is an outcome devoutly to be wished. “Humans have the unfortunate distinction of being the most destructive and harmful species on earth,” he writes. “The amount of suffering in the world could be radically reduced if there were no more” of us.

The final book goes the other way. It's title is: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. On the author's view, everyone should shoot for having three kids. As for unintended consequences, externalities, or any other anthropocene-related worries, the author channels his inner Julian Simon:

Benatar’s child-rearing advice, if followed, would result in human extinction. Caplan’s leads in the opposite direction: toward a never-ending population boom. He declares this to be one of his scheme’s advantages: “More people mean more ideas, the fuel of progress.” In a work that’s full of upbeat pronouncements, this is probably his most optimistic, or, if you prefer, outrageous claim.

The reviewer seems to prefer the mode of analysis of the first two books:

Global population is expected to hit eight billion around 2025, which is to say about ninety-five years later than Knowlton predicted. No one in his right mind supposes that it could reach sixty-four billion without horrific consequences, except perhaps a few economists.

The decision to have a child, or one more child, or yet another child may seem to be a personal one—a choice about how many diapers you want to change in the short term versus how many Mother’s Day cards you hope to receive later on. But to see it in these terms alone is to be, as Caplan points out on the cover of his book, selfish. Whatever you may think of Overall’s and Benatar’s conclusions, it’s hard to argue with their insistence that the decision to have a child is an ethical one. When we set the size of our families, we are, each in our own small way, determining how the world of the future will look. And we’re doing this not just for ourselves and our own children; we’re doing it for everyone else’s children, too.

Just my two cents: it's encouraging, albeit in a very small way, to see procreation being cast as a moral question in an ecocentric, instead of an egocentric, way. It's surely been done in the past, but there's a sense in which it may now have greater purchase among more of humanity. Whatever decision each of us makes on the question, treating procreation as an ecocentric matter is bound to have some redeemable qualities.

It's undoubtedly been raised here before, but I thought it'd be helpful to again link to Julia Whitty's "The Last Taboo."

Not sure I would advocate complete extinction but a planet with less than a billion people would be an improvement for people and all the other species.

The objection would be that we should have the freedom to continue our path to mass extinction through unlimited procreation and consumption.

"Not sure I would advocate complete extinction but a planet with less than a billion people would be an improvement for people..."

If the population reduction was evenly distributed, it would leave th US with about 46 million people. The housing market would crash. Oh, wait...

Time to repeat a 19SEP2011 comment I made on a similar


From the comment ...

... Based on the weight of a typical Homo sapiens
specimen there should be ~150K of us. A dieoff of
99.998% of us would give the planet a rest.

I was commenting on Gail the Actuary's comment:


not the original Rembrandt article.

It is not going to work and this is not a solution.
This message will maybe reach 1% of the global population (and that is an overestimation) and maybe 1% of those will care about it.

Only resource constraints will stop human overpopulation. And not in a nice way.

I have to agree. We will not be able to collectively control our population and those that willingly do vote themselves out of the gene-pool further decreasing our specie's chance of survival at this current point.

Humans on oil, are like suburban deer running around with zero predators devouring every garden and bush in sight until the branches are bare and they are left diseased and starving.

The Introduction, Increase, and Crash of reindeer on St. Matthew Island
By David R. Klein
Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Alaska, College


No bounce? ;)

I am also glad that the question is being lifted up.. but I'm not too impressed by the logic of the first article. If the author makes the REASONS for having children, (any children, it would seem) so removed and unconvincing from people's real motives, then the followup logic is hardly going to be very helpful, I would say.

Reproducing is, like breathing, largely an automatic function of 'what we are'.. even if one can learn various tricks for doing either with some levels conscious control. We, like most living things, just 'do it', and it's not really reasonable to liken it to a mere ego issue. The question of 'How Many' is often far more one of peoples' cultures, and not just some notion they derived out of the blue.. so it seems to me that confronting overpopulation needs to work (very carefully) at That level, instead of going back again and again to pondering 'WHY are these people being so SELFISH?!'

When Overall says "Procreation for the sake of the parents is ethically unacceptable." .. it's clear to me that for one, he's just not seeing where these decisions come from in the first place, and then accordingly Two, that his response in these sorts of accusative terms is only going to alienate and shut off any opportunity for a productive dialog that can move the core question, which is more along the lines of.. 'How many people can our world support? and HOW do we translate that down to the Community and Family levels, so that we don't condemn our Kids or Grandkids to Famine and Strife?

Nobody listens for long to someone who just yells 'You're a Sinner!', whether they do it in Religious Language or not.. so what do you think this guy sounds like to anyone who he is pointing his finger at.. which to me seemed to in many statements include ALL parents?

It's probably still 'Taboo' because the discussion keeps getting so clumsily framed, and then quickly turned over into the horrors of Eugenics and the Suggestions of Forced this and that, sterilization, genocide, etc. As much as with our Breathing and our Family Planning, we have to learn more of the 'Not Rocket Science' skills of SELF-CONTROL, and keeping conversations and our thinking un-tripped-up by our deep-seated fears and resentments.

Best Hopes for a Patient and Courageous Opening up of the discussion.


it's clear to me that for one, he's just not seeing where these decisions come from in the first place, and then accordingly Two, that his response in these sorts of accusative terms is only going to alienate and shut off any opportunity for a productive dialog that can move the core question, which is more along the lines of.. 'How many people can our world support? and HOW do we translate that down to the Community and Family levels, so that we don't condemn our Kids or Grandkids to Famine and Strife?

Couldn't have said it better myself, Bob.

It's probably still 'Taboo' because the discussion keeps getting so clumsily framed, and then quickly turned over into the horrors of Eugenics and the Suggestions of Forced this and that, sterilization, genocide, etc. As much as with our Breathing and our Family Planning, we have to learn more of the 'Not Rocket Science' skills of SELF-CONTROL, and keeping conversations and our thinking un-tripped-up by our deep-seated fears and resentments.

Once again, I share your sentiments. Here's an example, I think, of someone striving to change the message along those lines.

We owe our very being to those that didn't make it. They were sculpted away and we're what remains. When the punctuated equilibrium events return, there will be plenty of carving again. Actually, we have already assembled an unprecedented lump of human clay for the sculptor. His knife is sharp and he knows how he wants to cut us down to size. He'll certainly slice off the hubris first, then he'll carefully carve away those parts that don't seem to fit within nature's long-standing mold of sustainability. He may throw the entire mass to the floor and step on it, before starting again.

But let's face it, most people don't think, they do what feels good and having lots of kids has historically been a proven method of having a couple of them survive. If the good old days are coming back (high child mortality), and it seems that they are for any number of reasons, then perhaps we should double-down on our reproductive activities in hopes that one or two will survive the great sculpting. A few “rational” people restraining their reproductive tendencies will not make any difference as events proceed. After all, we humans have thrown to the floor and stepped on any number of species resulting in their extinction. Our turn is coming as we dance the limbic limbo, how low can we go? Here's to escaping the sculptor's knife, isn't that what we've always done?

If Katrina was any indication, it will not be the most hubristic but the meekest/poorest who are obliterated first in most cases.

The decision to have a kid at this point is not just about whether it is the best thing for the planet, but whether you want to bring someone into this world who will be witness to and a victim of its rapid unraveling.


These futures can now be seen as wildly optimistic projections, since we have already exceeded the worst-case IPCC scenario for CO2 emissions and since we now know that various feedbacks are kicking in much faster than previously noted. 3 degrees is essentially locked in for mid century, and possibly much worse much faster. This means horrific consequences for pretty much everyone and every species on the planet.

Stepping on species/us makes me think of a 20-year old poem I wrote for a class:

~ Stepping Stones ~

We won.
Stepping on them now.

The stones in our crossing
Of a shallow, fast-moving river
Of evolution

With many a careless step,
Some fragile stones are crushed beneath
Stumbling footwork

Fossils to study at a later date,
Lessons of failure

Their descendents might have had our
Abusive privileges

The river grows wider,
The stones become fewer and far between
As our worried feet get wetter...

Will we create our own stepping stones?
Or fall in, to join the thunder-lizards
Of our making?

Or become the stones, themselves,
Stepped upon by our
Own mistakes

The earth's carrying capacity is a rather fungible figure, although most experts have the number at ~1Bn people. It all depends on how badly the planet is raped between now and when that reduced population is acheived. If we allow the population to reach 9Bn before the die-off begins, with current levels of natural resource depletion and burning of fossil fuels, it will not be a pleasant place to live. A gentle population decline, begun now, which would require global cooperation, reduced birth rates and the acceptance of humanely administrated euthanasia would take centuries to reduce the population to 1 Bn people. And that dream-state scenario is not on the horizon.

The reduction of the population to a sustainable carrying capacity before 2100 will entail the following:

Mass Starvation
Global Pandemics
Resource Wars
Catastrophic Climatalogical Events

On the one hand I'm glad that I'm 65+ and may be allowed to die of natural causes before TSHTF. On the other hand I'm ashamed to be a part of the Baby Boomer Generation, here in the US, because we have failed miserably on so many fronts from the denial of Peak-Oil and Climate Change to a broken and dysfunctional system of government.

Nicely put. Even at 65, though, you may have the dubious pleasure of succumbing to a mega-heatwave, perhaps in the next few months. Just project the extremes above normal we've had in much of the US to the same level of anomaly in July or August. If Europe '03 is any indication, tens of thousands would die, at least.


I certainly expect to still be alive to see an ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean. If during that process or within the ensuing years that results in an massive methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, then I will be alarmingly concerned that my cause of death will be AGW.

OLN, yes, things could come apart at the seams rather quickly, but it is hard to know ahead of time what the timing will be. Even while we are in the midst of a rapid global shift to a much hotter climate, most will think it is just extremes of natural variability, or at worst, a big blip on the long graph of gradual upward temps.

I expect in my lifetime or certainly in this century there will be a 'discontinuity' when multiple feedbacks come into play at once and things change very rapidly--within a decade or so, possibly faster--from something reasonably close to the climate we've had for thousands of years, into a much hotter regime, something not seen for millions or tens of millions of years. Such sudden shifts are not uncommon in the paleoclimate record, iirc.

I'm hoping this spring's extremes were not the beginning of such.

Framing population as a moral issue is exactly the same as praying for more oil. The overwhelming main determinant of population growth is extreme poverty and its attendant cultural pressures. Either we redress that, or we keep on the current path. All the morality in the world, of whatever stripe, is meaningless to people who make their livings as garbage pickers and migrant workers.

I agree with your impulse, but there is a different kind of danger in suggesting that migrant workers have no morals...

I think it's what has produced the garbage dump they pick at which represents the People who are likely to be Amoral.. and yet I feel that the blase' residents of the developed world DO need to be confronted with the Moral implications of what their actions yield, which is to say that it hurts others, the environment and ultimately themselves.. even if the connections aren't always immediately obvious.

All the morality in the world, of whatever stripe, is meaningless to people who make their livings as garbage pickers and migrant workers.

Much as it pains me to have chosen such an impotent pen name, I agree that morality, by itself, changes nothing in our world. It may even amount, in some cases, to nothing more than bourgeois conceit. But, to the extent morality animates human behavior, it may be valuable to appeal to and seek reform of an individual's moral framework. I'm certainly not an expert, but I think there's some evidence that a kind of sacrificial morality (e.g. reciprocal altruism in group selection) motivates human behavior. If this is true, it certainly doesn't discount more narcissistic human tendencies, but the question, IMHO, is how can we appeal to the "better angels of our nature," as some might call them.

Framing population as a moral issue is exactly the same as praying for more oil. The overwhelming main determinant of population growth is extreme poverty and its attendant cultural pressures.

My initial comment emphasized framing procreation, not population, as a moral issue. This isn't to say that I don't support framing population as a moral issue, I just prefer looking at the "act" because it's something that the great majority of humanity (whether you're in the USA or in Ethiopia) has the potential to do, or not do, as it suits them.

But I think the nub of our disagreement is whether we have to focus on the poor to have an appreciable affect on what, it seems, we both agree is a problem. I linked to an article above (see here) that states that "the average American mom with 2 kids has a carbon legacy equal to 136 average Bangladeshi moms and their 337 kids." I'm not suggesting that I can prove this claim, but assuming it's true, I think there's reason to believe that it's possible to have some affect on the problem. Whether the "some" is worth fighting for is an issue on which, I think, we can agree to disagree.

To be clear: I fully support a poverty-ameliorating, woman-educating agenda. I just don't think one needs to choose one path to the detriment of the other.

I’ve read Benatar’s book and it’s perversely hard to argue against its main premise. I didn't really get the environment argument so much, it seemed more to be about pure moral philosophy – i.e. it is impossible to do something for the benefit of an entity that doesn’t yet exist, so children can only be for the benefit of parents and other extant beings, and given they you may be imposing a lot of (or actually any at all) unpleasantness on the children it is morally indefensible to bring them into being. It’s a strange conclusion, and as I remember the author himself says he wished it had come out differently.
That said I can take this opportunity to recommend the absolute best resource for population issues, which is the Academic Earth course from Robert Wyman called Global Population Growth. Almost every lecture has information and insights that I’ve never seen really presented before, especially as accessibly and humanely as Doctor Wyman manages. The study that I found most interesting was that there is an almost worldwide consistency amongst female groups without access to education - that they will end up having about 50% more children than they want. If girls are educated to 14 and given access to appropriate birth control, birth rates would fall to or below replacement levels. It seems the most likely chance for population reduction with the least suffering, but then there is the Catholic church (and other religions) and all the males who would feel threatened (I suspect a great many with good reason) by educated females, so what’s the chance?

A Yeast

colony living and


Genes that do not reproduce have no future.
Colonies that exhaust food have no future.

Bees have blurred this conundrum by centralizing official reproductive rights to a single queen. The colony represents and serves the genes of a very few. It is, essentially, a single animal. This is largely alien to the happy monkey way.

Technology and repression could turn the place into an adolescent male's fantasy-land. The fundamentalist have congruent ideas. Education, awareness, and empowerment allow women to balance their own load of childbearing. (As an observation of the moment: Of all of these, only fundamentalism seems not to be an intervention in the sense that it can infect a remote and isolated populace, is enforced by the stronger and war-like males, and requires no external resources or support... or even a consistent story-line. In America, the largest such groups idealize very large families.)

Failure to reproduce is absolutely and immediately the end of the line for the individual's specific genetic material. Anything else is a wager on the future. What is achieved by self-sacrifice if mass die-off or loss of reproductive capacity is obtained anyway through war, plague, climate change, environmental chemical contamination, famine itself, asteroid, Cthulhu...

What would you tell the yeast?

(Build a little spaceship to the next petri dish... Spore!)

SPORE? Stupid People On Rental Equipment.

OT, but that is what we call tourists on watercraft such as jet skis in my neck of the woods ocean.

Sometimes we get lucky and they manage to eliminate themselves from the gene pool without taking any of the local sailors with them.

Jet Skis....the leaf blowers of the aquatic world.

Failure to reproduce is absolutely and immediately the end of the line for the individual's specific genetic material.

Actually if your brother or sister has kids, that can more than cover your genetic material. Or even a good selection of cousins at a pinch...

...You are then quite unnecessary ;p

Eight cousins will do it.

I have 16, 8 on each side, so I'm covered!

I have a long time friend who is one of a set of identical (monozygotic) triplets, quite rare, and he married a woman who couldn't have kids. He says he's covered, genetically, because both of his brothers have two kids.

Yeah, I never had kids, but I think my siblings have it covered since they have 9 kids among the 3 of them. All my siblings have grandchildren, now. I think there are a dozen or more by now, with more on the way or highly likely to be conceived in the near future.

Interestingly, it is the better looking and taller side of the family that is reproducing more.

I was looking my oldest grand-niece in the eye the other day - she's 15 and she's the same height I am - 5'9. She looks exactly like her mother, my niece, except that she's a redhead and her mother is a blonde. Her mother calls her "my dark, evil, twin".

She's a smart kid, and drop-dead gorgeous like her mother. I used to buy her things like microscopes for Christmas until it got to the point where she really wanted an electron microscope, and she just loves playing the violin, which I don't think comes from our side of the family.

I can't look my oldest grandnephew in the eye any more because he's about 14 and about 5 inches higher taller than me. He's more into hockey than music, and I can see why.

It looks like the tall, good looking genes are propagating down the generations, and the myopia and bad teeth genes are getting lost along the way. I had a big part in deselecting those genes by not having kids.

It's not really survival of the fittest, it's survival of the smartest, tallest, best looking ones with good eyes and good teeth. It could the same thing, maybe.

At least some folks are defying the idiocracy trend. Every little bit helps ;-)

That might not be all good news, since myopia is linked with intelligence.

Maybe there's a reason brains and beauty are inversely proportional. ;-)

Fortunately they aren't, at least not in the case of the smart women I've known.

That said I can take this opportunity to recommend the absolute best resource for population issues, which is the Academic Earth course from Robert Wyman called Global Population Growth.

A. Yeats, I couldn't agree with you more. A great tip. This was an eye opening series for me, and the best part is, it's completely free. All those interested can find it here.

Re: The End of the Saudi Oil Reserve Margin (uptop)

In the medium-term, Saudi Arabia is in danger of losing its all-important “reserve margin” of oil production that so often calms market volatility. Loss of this spare capacity would remove a crucial safety mechanism from the global economy, to say nothing of tying America’s hands when it comes to future moves against oil states. Longer-term, the kingdom’s very exports are at risk. A projection by Jadwa Investment of Riyadh shows that, at current rates of consumption growth, the Saudi reserve margin will dwindle until it disappears sometime before 2020. At that point, the Saudis would begin diverting oil destined for export into the domestic market.

Following the trend further, Jadwa finds that Saudi Arabia will consume its entire production capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day at home by 2043. London’s Chatham House finds that the kingdom will become a net oil importer even earlier, by 2038.

Following the trend further, Jadwa finds that Saudi Arabia will consume its entire production capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day at home by 2043. . .

Gee, I wonder what would happen if Saudi Arabia could not maintain a production rate in excess of 10 mbpd?

Incidentally, at Saudi Arabia's 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in consumption (6.8%/year, BP), Saudi Arabia would be consuming about 27 mbpd in 2043.

From the same article:

International Energy Agency figures show that Saudi Arabia now consumes more oil than Germany, an industrialized country with triple the population and an economy nearly five times as large.

That's pretty stunning when you stop to think about it.

They burn oil for electricity and for desalination of water. If their oil was located somewhere else, it would be used so much more efficiently. What a waste.

Absolutely, what a waste to use it for fresh water to drink - it could be used to drive around showing off in a Dodge Hemi pickup with a wing on the bed. Or more relevant to the comparison to Germany to produce industrial products people no longer can afford the fuel to use. Supporting a large population in a desert with energy from oil is foolish, but then most uses of FF energy are equally foolish.

"most uses of FF energy are equally foolish"

Good point.

Which leads me to wonder, if we enlightened ones had it all to do over and were masters of the universe, what would we have used these precious substances for? Purely as chemicals stocks? But for what? The poisons and plastics that no infect mother's milk and clog oceans and rivers? Never use it at all? Could a civilization really resist the temptation, once their potential was discovered?

I would say this would be a good topic for a Campfire discussion, but those seem to have been discontinued.

To me, oil is the One Ring - whatever you use it for leads not to a benefit but ultimately a net negative. It doesn't matter how noble your intentions were in using it, it causes more harm than good. I cannot think of an exception, other than that small uses have little impact, but that is not the same. FF upset the balance.

Nicely put. Power corrupts.

they could have built a helluva lot of solar panels with a tiny portion of that oil.

I think there are a lot of great uses for oil, most of which are great in a controlled manner but all of which have gotten out of hand due to it's abundance and the lack of a ceiling on human desires. I think plastics are a great material, but single use disposable plastics are a terrible idea for the most part. But in medicine? For liquid containers (not disposable ones)? Glass can be used, but glass has that nasty tendency to break, and it weighs a ton.

Drugs also are a great help... The proliferation of less useful ones and the tendency to use drugs rather than maintain our health through diet and exercise throughout our like is not a good thing, but there is still a huge good there.

Heck, petrochemical dyes make it so that more colors are available and they don't fade. This is a serious issue with early Ukiyo-e which will degrade very quickly in light (which is part of why some people believe Japanese art uses "faded" colors - those are literally faded prints), but later ukiyo-e and the shin-hanga which use petrochemical dyes retain their color even in less than ideal circumstances.

It may be that we can't help but abuse it, but the things we get from oil and other fossil fuels are countless and many of them are of great value. I would hate to lose all of it because we're too stupid to use it wisely.

So far, we're too stupid to use it wisely.

If their oil was located somewhere else, it would be used so much more efficiently. What a waste.

If their oil was indeed somewhere else, KSA would return to it's natural state. Band of nomads with sparsely populated cities around oasis and major ports.

They should have invested some of that wealth in population control, but being a staunchly muslim country I don't suppose that was an option. They'll pay dearly for that.

But come to think of it, just about every other developing country is in the same boat. Economists in the developed world fret and worry about who will pay for retirees. But the population increase in the developing world is far greater, and the subsequent number of older people in a few decades far greater also.

Case in point, Japan. Post-WWII population was about 80M. When it finally stopped growing, mid-2000s I think, about 125M. An increase of 50% over 60 years. That's nothing compared with the growth rates we've seen across much of the world.

They should have invested some of that wealth in population control, but being a staunchly muslim country I don't suppose that was an option. They'll pay dearly for that.

According to this data:


They have.

Maybe not enough, but family size in Saudi Arabia has shown a significant decrease since the mid-20th century.

That is an interesting graph. Thanks for linking. The figure of 7 women desired per children is what would have been necessary pre-modern times to preserve population stability, which implies the child mortality rate must have been really high. But bringing down the average number of children per women from 7 to 3 over a couple of generations is a pretty remarkable achievement, and the Saudis are to be commended for that.

Unfortunately even if the average number of children per woman decreases below replacement level the population is going to keep increasing for quite a while. Population momentum is poorly understood by most people, particularly by all those poor misguided pundits bleating about "population implosions" and "birth dearths",

I have been thinking a lot about the decline in fertility rate around the world lately. What is driving it? Could it have anything to do with the more general increase availability of birth control devices in the last 30 years? I think that just might have a lot to do with it. But I would love to hear a few other opinions on this just what accounts for this decline so exemplified in chart at Shiraz's link.

Anyone? Anyone? Buhler? Anyone?

Ron P.

My personal hypotheses are toxins in drinking water, or population pressure itself, having negative feedback, leading to reduced fertility. There may be a research study out there somewhere that supports either hypothesis. I'll post if I find any.

I did hear about a recent research study linking the increased incidence of autism to environmental factors. Also there has been research published about the impact of hormones in the water having an impact on male fish and amphibians.

Here's one on pesticide demasculinizing frogs (2002) (broken link corrected)

Here's one on hormones in water impacting male fertility (2009)

Then, there's this 1947 experiment by a Dr Calhoun on rats enclosed in a fixed space.

The rodent experiments of John B. Calhoun

Although the space allowed for 5000 rats, the maximum number reached was 200. A substantial body of work followed this particular study.

There are probably many drivers. I suspect the two top ones are the increase in women's control over their reproductive lives and urbanization. But I'm sure it's much more complex than that.

I cannot buy either of those explanations. It is a worldwide phenomenon and women have not gained control over their reproductive lives in Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic county. And I cannot see any connection to urbanization. What would that have to do with it? Perhaps they would be closer to a store where they could buy contraceptives? But the world is not that urbanized and it did not start just 30 years ago.

I would think it would have more to do with the fact that men have more control over their reproductive rights. Now they can have all the sex they desire without worrying about getting their woman pregnant.

Ron P.

First two hits searching "urbanization fertility":


"Fertility rates are lower in urban than in rural areas throughout the world."


"...the rural fertility rate was found to be substantially higher than the urban rate."

I didn't say it was the whole reason, but it is quite well established that urbanization tends rather strongly to lead to lower fertility. Probably lots of elements to the link. IIRC, even rats confined to crowded, dense areas will reproduce at lower rates.

Why do you assume that there has been zero increase in women's rights in Islamic countries? It is a factor of modernity that Islamic countries are not immune to. Many leaders of the Egyptian revolution were women. I just had lunch with a couple of them.

But of course they still have a long way to go.

Why do you assume that there has been zero increase in women's rights in Islamic countries?

Saudi Arabia is not all Islamic countries. Women have gained virtually nothing in Saudi Arabia. And the fertility rate in Saudi Arabia has dropped form 7.3 babies per woman to 2.9 babies per woman in only 30 years. That is a drop of over 250 percent.

It is a factor of modernity that Islamic countries are not immune to.

Of course not all Islamic countries are immune to women's rights. And indeed women in Saudi Arabia may have gained some rights. But whatever they are it is totally transparent to the Islamic society in Saudi because nothing is apparent. Nothing has happened in Saudi Arabian Women's Rights to explain such a dramatic drop in fertility rates in only 30 years.

Many leaders of the Egyptian revolution were women. I just had lunch with a couple of them.

You are assuming that Egyptian society is at least a little like Saudi Arabian society. They ar ot even remotely close. There has been no Saudi revolution and if there were it is highly unlikely that any of the leaders would be women. And you didn't have lunch with any Saudi women.

There is absolutely no explanation to the dramatic drop in Saudi fertility rates that can be explained by any power in Saudi women because they have none. It must be explained by Saudi men. It used to be that every time they had sex they took the chance of impregnating their wife. (Sex outside of marriage in Saudi is almost non existent.)

Anyway, thanks for the exchange because I am now more convinced than ever now that the drop in worldwide fertility rates is largely because of birth control devices are now far more available to men than they ever were in the past.

Ron P.

Actually it is a drop of 60% fertility now= old fertility times (100-%drop)/100.

I bet Saudis have some sort as assured retirement income. So having lots of kids to care for you in old age isn't a reason to have a large family. Perhaps there is some realiztion that SA is far from its natural carrying capcity (water plus food), and at least some are having fewer because of this.

Actually it is a drop of 60% fertility now= old fertility times (100-%drop)/100.

Of course you are correct. However... The drop was from 7.3 percent to 2.9 percent. If it went the other way, from 2.9 to 7.3, that would be a gain of 250 percent, or 2.5 times.

I bet Saudis have some sort as assured retirement income.

Well I don't think so. I was there from 1980 to 1984 and they had none then except for those who worked for Aramco or some other company that had a retirement plan. Most did not have such jobs of course.

And the Saudi citizens were not allowed to have life insurance. If you bought life insurance then it was considered making a wager against the will of Allah. And there were a lot of beggars there, all of them women. One can understand why. When a woman's husband died and if they had no relatives, or no relatives who cared, they were left destitute.

However in the 28 years since I was there things may have changed. More than 1 million Saudis on unemployment benefit

* Jobless benefits introduced in December of $533 a month now paid to 1 million Saudis

* Unemployment rate is 10.5 percent but labour force participation rate only 36 percent

* Women make up over 80 percent of jobless payment beneficiaries

Ron P.

well it's still not correct: 100*(7.3-2.9)/2.9 is about 150. so 150% gain which is about 2.5 times.

Women have gained virtually nothing in Saudi Arabia.

I don't think that's true. They got the right to vote, and the right to run for office last year.

Public education for women was introduced in 1960, and is fairly accepted now. They got national ID cards in 2001.

They still have a long way to go, and progress is slow, but there has been change. I think technology might be a big factor. There's been talk of banning Facebook in Saudi Arabia, because it's giving women ideas.

OK, now I'm confused. You opened the discussion as if you wanted to discuss why WORLD fertility rates are going down.

Apparently, though, you only want to talk about KSA.

I am not particularly interested in or knowledgeable about this peculiar little country, so I'll leave it to you to spin whatever preconceived notion you have.

Ah, and I see that you switch suddenly in your last paragraph back somehow from the tiny country of KSA to firm conclusions about the entire world.

Sober up, and maybe we can have a conversation in which we both might be able to learn something new rather than spin preconceived notions.

dohboi - I'm getting the feeling it's you who needs to sober up. Please ratchet it down a notch. This is an interesting discussion. Don't ruin it.

OK, mom.

But let me point out that the question posed was:

"I have been thinking a lot about the decline in fertility rate around the world lately. What is driving it?"

And I am not the one posting gibberish like: "They ar ot even..." and "now more than ever now"...

But I'll drop it. You seem to have things well in hand.

tssk tssk I thought you were all friends.

Oh, I consider us all friends. But even friends get grouchy sometimes. It's hard not to on occasion when constantly staring into the abyss we have needlessly hurled ourselves and the rest of the living world into.

Perhaps emotional and cultural stress is a factor contributing to the overall decreased fertility rate. There are certainly plenty of stressors these days. Staring into the abyss only makes it worse, of course.

Bumps/friction/etc. (ideally as rounded, planed, sanded and/or buffed as possible) are what are part of relationships. Without them, there are no relationships, except perhaps their artifices.

OK, mom.

(It's also cute that you would have boi in your handle ;)

@Lee Rust:

You might be surprised how 'staring into the abyss'-- confronting it; mulling over it; communicating it-- can be quite therapeutic for some.

Stare into the abyss all you want. For me, it's enough to be aware of it and take heed.

OK, now I'm confused. You opened the discussion as if you wanted to discuss why WORLD fertility rates are going down. Apparently, though, you only want to talk about KSA.

Okay, let me see if I can un-confuse you. If there is something that is causing the world fertility rates to drop and any one particular country has a drop at lest as great as the rest of the world, then any valid explanation must be applicable to that country also.

Whatever phenomenon, assuming a primary single cause, that causes a drop in world fertility rates must be applicable to Saudi Arabia.

However there may not be a single cause, there just may be several causes. I believe that the new widespread availability of birth control devices is the main cause. A second cause may indeed that women have more say-so in the running of their lives. And a third cause is, I believe, General Adaptive Syndrom caused by the stress of overcrowding.

Ron P.


To follow on from yesterday's lively discussions, I believe that there are multiple contributing factors to declining birthrates worldwide, among them being:

Women's Rights

However, I don't think the same factors have the same influence in every country/region. As a case in point, here in Texas the birth-rate of Mexican-Americans is much higher than the rate of caucasians. Since we drink the same water and buy produce at the same markets, we have to rule out environmental factors. While the majority of Mexican-Americans are Catholic, we can't just assume that that is the predominant factor since Italy's birth-rate is below the replacement level.

Going back to Saudi Arabia which caused such a stir on this thread yesterday, my personal experience with the Saudis goes back 30+ years, having taught a class of Saudi sailors in 1980, worked in Saudi Arabia in 1981 and worked with the the Saudi Navy back here in the States again in 1982. During that time I had many opportunities to socialize with the Saudis both in Saudi Arabia and here in the U.S.
While it is true that women in Saudi Arabia do not have the political and social freedoms that women in Turkey or Bahrain do, they certainly are not treated the way women are by the Taliban. Within the individual family unit in Saudi Arabia, women wield a great deal of power. I've had any number of Saudi men tell me that when their wife is mad at them, his mother is mad at him, his sisters are mad at him, her mother is mad at him....and on it goes.

In order to determine which factors are the most significant for any one country or region of a country, you would almost have to do a pareto analysis for each country, ranking the relative importanace of each of the potential contributing factors. Obviously, any such ranking will be highly subjective but might lead to further research. We can't assume that any one factor will play the same role in each case. However, we might find that there are one or two factors which place near the top in most if not all cases.


Building on the GAS link to crowding, J. Cassel had an interesting epidemiological insight (1970). His four empirical linsights are that it's:

NOT CROWDING - but disorder in environment or relationships that causes stress
NOT ALL PEOPLE AFFECTED – the dominant are not as likely to be affected
BUFFERS ARE EMPLOYED – biological, social and informational tools can overcome or delay effect
NOT A SPECIFIC ILLNESS – but increased susceptibility

Might mean that we need to do more than just count heads. Measures include:

Number of people (n)
Density (n/area)
Gestalt (perceptual groupings can reduce stress [n1, n2, … nx])
Time spent in crowd ("elevator effect," n/time)

Suggests we might have some ability to manage stress, if we had a plan and could make our plan work.

Sex outside of marriage in Saudi is almost non existent.

Are you sure about that? Saudis are still humans ... driven by their hormones like anyone else. And what about all those stories of the decadent work-shy princelings who have lavish sex-filled parties for the chosen few?

And outside Saudi Arabia, there are whole resorts - almost whole towns - in places like Thailand, that deal exclusively to the extra-marital proclivities of the KSA (and other Gulf State) rich and travelled.

The connection to urbanization is that children are much-needed free labor on farms. Even in China, rural families are allowed to have more than one child.

In a small city apartment, they are an expense. There aren't as many jobs for children in the city, and you may be required to send them to school, or at least keep them off the street (because of truancy laws). The economics don't favor large families in the city.

Access to birth control is definitely a factor, but not the only one. Back in the '60s, they thought just providing birth control was the answer. But that didn't work. It's lot more complex. One problem they often ran into was that the men did not want their wives to use birth control.

Educating women works in part by simply keeping them from marrying until they are older. That alone can reduce family size. Women who are educated are also more likely to stand up to their husbands on the issue of family size.

Lower mortality rates (via sanitation and access to healthcare) also play a role. Parents are willing to have fewer children if they can count on them to survive.

All excellent points.

But our friend, after posing his interesting question, has made it clear that he is really only interested in spouting his own pet theory, rather than taking the opportunity to learn something new. A pity, really.

I must say that, even with the lower fertility rates in places like KSA, the demographic bulge at the bottom of the pyramid mean that, unless the whole country suddenly becomes celibate or gay, they are likely to continue to have lots of new kids for as long as they can be fed.

(My snarky comment would be that so many people in places like KSA are so bummed out by reading so much doom and gloom on places like TOD that they have decided not to bring more souls into this veil of tears.)

Actually there are lots of gay guys in SA because the women are repressed. It's a whole cosmopolitan society offering opportunities from all over the world!

But our friend, after posing his interesting question, has made it clear that he is really only interested in spouting his own pet theory, rather than taking the opportunity to learn something new. A pity, really.

Such a snarky comment is not conducive to any intelligent debate. I have proposed more than one reason for the decline and stated that this was what I thought, meaning it was only my opinion. And my last post last night I stated that perhaps things have changed in the last 28 years in Saudi Arabia and posting changes and a link about what just might be another reason.

And in my post this morning I specifically stated that women having more power is likely one cause.
I have been as cordial and nice as I could possibly be.

Yet from you we get another snarky post. And in your last snarky post you take aim at all doomers on this list, not just me, hinting that all us doomers should just shut up and go away.

Well, at least you are not just directing your nasty wrath at me only anymore.

Ron P.

Women who are educated are also more likely to stand up to their husbands on the issue of family size.

That statement rubs me the wrong way, it feels a lot like reverse gender bias to me!

Methinks that educated women are probably also paired with educated men and there is likely less need for standing up to them, eh?

Methinks that educated women are probably also paired with educated men and there is likely less need for standing up to them, eh?

That might be true in the US, but in many countries, women were not educated at all. As I said in another post, public schooling for girls didn't arrive in Saudi Arabia until 1960, and there was fierce resistance to it for years after that. Many men would be left with the choice of an uneducated woman or none at all, assuming they even wanted an educated woman - which many did not.

I've seen firsthand some of the pressure women are put under. I'm not going to name the country, because I don't want to start anything or offend anyone, but I used to live in a developing country, next door to a privileged young woman who was in conflict with her family about this issue. She had very difficult pregnancies. They left her bedridden for weeks, and nearly killed her. She wanted to stop, but her family insisted that birth control was a sin, that a real man had a big family, that she was shirking her duty as a wife, not wanting more children. Finally, after her fourth pregnancy ended in a C-section, she asked her doctor to tie her tubes while he was in there. He did...and male family members, when they found out, harangued her on her hospital bed, while she was still recovering from the surgery. They even brought in a priest to tell her she was going to hell. They left her sobbing with guilt.

She was the daughter of a powerful family, and I don't think she'd have had the strength to go through with it otherwise.

What a story. Thanks for sharing it.

It goes well with something I said earlier, which is that we're talking about long-standing beliefs, traditions and cultural assumptions. These are tied very closely with people's identity and continuity, and so they have a naturally conservative tendency to resist sudden changes.

I think the ties to women's empowerment and education are likely to be very real, but are also only a fragment of the whole picture, where the changes that we in the Branches of the Abrahamic traditions (Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures) are undergoing a broader realignment in our relationship with Nature and our understanding of Male and Female roles as a result.. so that the expectation of Women to carry equal power in Family and in Societal Decisionmaking is moving forward and back in widely varying degrees, both in the US and abroad..

Look at the Happy Masculine 'Norman Rockwell' America that the Republican Candidate Boys are viciously trying to outdo each other to paint up for an American Faction that is apparently overwhelmed by the changes that are cresting upon us. .. But I don't think we've seen the last of the Susan Collinses or Elizabeth Warrens.. these people and their daughters will probably fight to the death before they let anybody point them back towards the closet.

I saw a Saudi woman walking around the shopping mall in the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh showing cleavage that would attract eyes even in the west. She was with her husband so of course he was OK with it. In the modern areas they can get away with that but not in the hinterlands. And once I even saw a woman driving.

Right on the button especially

that a real man had a big family


They even brought in a priest to tell her she was going to hell. They left her sobbing with guilt.

I myself was raised a Catholic and was ostracized by a large part of my extended family when they found out I had stopped going to church. So I can empathize with that poor woman and can only imagine the depths of her suffering. As far as I'm concerned Catholicism is a cult. A very evil one at that! Google Tim Minchin, Pope song, if you care to know how I feel about them today,.

Wow. I never heard of him before. He is an absolutely crazy, nutty wild man.

Err, nope, Australian

And not a bad pianist.

Err, nope, Australian

Yeah, but so is Rupert Murdoch... They kinda cancel each other out >;^)

Yeah, but so is Rupert Murdoch.

Err ... he most definitely is not.

He took American citizenship about 20 years ago (renounced all Australian-ness) - he had to become a Seppo to buy 20th Century Fox, and in particular, to build the Fox TV Network. He's one of yours now.

I've seen firsthand some of the pressure women are put under. I'm not going to name the country, because I don't want to start anything or offend anyone

I don't think there are any religious or cultural nutcases here on TOD. I find national and cultural boundaries suffocating at best and most here on TOD would kinda agree. I think people hold on to cultural biases because that tends to justify the country or structure they live under and hides that the world is a complex place.

My country for one leads in violence against women. For a very long time it was thought that the divorce rate here was low because of our 'culture'. Whatever that is. But in recent years divorce rates have gone up in cities and quite predictably people have started blaming it on 'western' culture.
While the real reason for the low divorce rate was that women were uneducated and had nowhere to go if they didn't like their husbands. Now many women are educated and don't tolerate nonsense anymore.

For a very long time it was thought that the divorce rate here was low because of our 'culture'.

Yes indeed ... for a long time we have known about "honour killings" - no need to go through a messy divorce at all - just murder the recalcitrant sister/daughter/bride, etc. Attractive cultural trait.

I would add in the demographic transition (richer people feel less pressure to have more kids), and its close sibling, the more educated the woman (on average) the smaller the desired family size. Of course urbanization comes in, if people were to compute the cost of raising a kid in modern society -it is a huge chunk of change.

The problem with relying on the demographic transition to address resource issues is that typically, the factors leading to the reduced fertility increase resource footprint per capita enormously. If you have 2 kids instead of 8, that's great, except after the socio-economic development leading to the demographic transition those 2 kids will use more resources than the 8 would have.

True. But, at least thouse two kids will only have another two, rather than 32, as with the earlier model. Unfortunately resource consumptionwise it is many decades before you even break even.

How many earths does my lifestyle consume?

By virtue of just being born in a 'consumer' area the results will be much higher. Like it or not resources are being consumed either directly or on one's behalf. Why? I just look under my feet and over my head and around the walls of most any modern cityscape, esp one charaterized by sprawl. Playing with the calculator found 'Hutong' residents ,coal burning and all, will often easily come up 20 times less in footprint size than a typical Merican.

One other unexpected (by me at least) change in statistics also follows urbanization and womens' education as currently practiced in the developing world under the aegis of the global corporatocracy. Apparently as women are educated away from their rural communities and end up in cities, vulnerable and exposed, trying to become western-style consumers, human trafficking rates reliably soar. I was shocked beyond measure to hear this from education activists from India and Ladakh at a localization conference two weeks ago.

They also pointed out another effect of providing "modern" western educations to the youth in developing nations: it smashes the last bastions of localized economies in the world. In the process the land becomes vulnerable to land grabs by vulture states looking to expand "their" agricultural base. Even worse, the communities that are being destroyed in this way are exactly the kind of resilient, agrarian communities that are best suited to survive the coming descent.

What's happening is all too often the sort of cultural genocide that was practiced in aboriginal residential schools in Canada, the USA and Australia.

So we're faced with an distinctly unpalatable choice - overpopulation or destroyed communities. I still think education can be a good thing all the way around, but it must be appropriate to the culture and community. If not, it becomes a significant disruptor.

We need to be aware of ALL the consequences of what we're doing.

Yes, Empire will get you coming/going, North/South, upside down and sideways...

Very glad to see you posting again here of late, Paul.

Time for The Pinky Show...

Scary School Nightmare

Quote from episode from book, Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich:

The pupil is thereby schooled to confuse teaching with learning, schooled to confuse grade-advancement with education, schooled to confuse a diploma with competence... medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work is mistaken for the improvement of community life, police protection is mistaken for safety, miliary poise is mistaken for national security, the rat race is mistaken for productive work...

In a way, the internet is a virtual and/or decentralized tribe, and/or perhaps attempting, as an emergent property, to coalesce into some kinds of coherent, workable democratic/communicational structures, similar to local bands or tribes, or maybe like a "communicational galaxy" with clumps of formative "glocales", held/brought together by its formative "gravity" and other "forces".

So we're faced with an distinctly unpalatable choice - overpopulation or destroyed communities.

False dilemma?

We need to be aware of ALL the consequences of what we're doing.

Unsure we can, or we'd be god.
But perhaps we can squeeze out of the apparent false dilemma above by taking more of a "kernel" or "fractal" approach, by helping to make what Permaculture seems more of-- with a Care of Earth; Care of People; and Feedback of their results back into both their inputs-- overwhelm the salience of the current dominant BAU cultural narrative (as it attempts to further control the internet and people).

Earlier puberty in girls and women waiting longer (too long) to have children may be part of it:

About 15% of American girls now begin puberty by age 7, according to a study of 1,239 girls published last year in Pediatrics. One in 10 white girls begin developing breasts by that age — twice the rate seen in a 1997 study. Among black girls, such as Laila, 23% hit puberty by age 7.

"Over the last 30 years, we've shortened the childhood of girls by about a year and a half," says Sandra Steingraber, author of a 2007 report on early puberty for the Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group. "That's not good."

Precocious puberty can screw up fertility. Add to that an increase in unplanned pregnancies being terminated, rising male infertility, and some people choosing to have no or fewer children, it all subtracts from the birth rate.

Okay, early puberty in girls? Why would that cause a lowering of fertility rates? It would seem that this would cause an increase in fertility rates.

Add to that an increase in unplanned pregnancies being terminated,...

Hey, there are no abortion clinics in Saudi Arabia. Ditto for most of the developing world.

Rising male infertility? Possible but what would cause a worldwide male infertility problem? That asks far more questions than it answers.

Ron P.

"Okay, early puberty in girls? Why would that cause a lowering of fertility rates?"

If a girl's ovum are maturing earlier and the ovaries begin releasing eggs earlier (from a finite supply), especially years before they begin having sex for reproduction, then their prime reproductive years will end earlier. Peak ovum ;-) Also, there may be a higher miscarriage rate at earlier ages if they do conceive; the ovaries are ready but the body isn't.

"Hey, there are no abortion clinics in Saudi Arabia."

Women have had ways of terminating pregnancies for centuries. Maybe they are just getting better at it. Black market plan B pills?

"...what would cause a worldwide male infertility problem?"

Genetically modified foods? Other compounds in the environment? Expanding population and a fairly fixed gene pool (multiple wives and all that)? Maybe nature has an undiscovered mechanism to limit population growth (besides the obvious) in environments that can't support it. Unreported sexually transmitted diseases among men with multiple partners, expanding with the population (and increased immigration)? Watching too much TV? Maybe they are just becoming more sedentary like the west; Saudi couch potatoes..

This is all just speculation on my part, and there are far more qualified people looking at this, I'm sure. Regarding male infertility, I doubt that this would be widely discussed in the Arab countries if it was an issue. They don't report their true oil production numbers; I doubt they would be very open about their sperm counts.

Too tight jockey shorts?

They used to all be nomads, now they are settled in western style suburbs.

So ... no-nomads to no-gonads in just a generation.

Perhaps human females are maturing earlier for the same reasons that many plants and trees will bear large numbers of seeds under difficult climatic conditions.

It think it has something to do with Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone in the milk, dairy and meat.

Pesticides may be linked to slightly smaller babies, shorter pregnancies

Death rate for children with asthma is rising

Evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products found

Artemisinin-resistant untreatable malaria increasing rapidly along the Thailand-Myanmar border: study

Evidence that the most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the front line treatment for malaria on the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) is reported in The Lancet today. This increases concern that resistance could now spread to India and then Africa as resistance to other antimalarial drugs has done before. Eliminating malaria might then prove impossible.

To turn the world into a dependency on staples has nothing to do with feeding the world, it has a lot to do with controlling the food supply. The United States evolved a phrase during the Vietnam war, and the phrase was; 'Food as a weapon'; the use of food as the ultimate weapon of control. And the tragedy is, the growth of agribusiness in the US has gone hand-in-hand with the US foreign policy to deliberately create hunger locally in order to make the world dependent on food supplies, through which you can then control countries and their decision-making ability. So hunger has become an instrument of war.
~ Vandana Shiva, from video (You Tube), 'The Future of Food'

Are we allowing sociopaths, or, to be charitable, sociopathological systems, to literally place food into our babies's mouths (to say nothing of our own or the issue of hunger)?

What does this say about us, as parents, and about our baby-like dependencies and vulnerabilities to the system in general; about going/growing local and actually knowing and/or coming face-to-face with who is putting food in our mouths/bodies and where that food is coming from and how it is being produced, etc.?

"If you want something done right, do it yourself."

Seraph and others:

You might enjoy this:
IPUHAR Database
This particular page lists a class of "Orphan" receptors on the upper right-hand side of the page. Many of these have their own Wikipedia page. Every line on the left side of the page is another page: another category of a class of receptors.

There are hundreds of little molecular engines called receptors... 700+ at least. They are on the cell, in the cell, and within the cell's nucleus. They are tuned to detect molecules. Some of these are relatively small, like fragments of bigger things that have broken down*. The tuning is inexact. When a molecule, a "key", fits, things happen: The key to your car can turn the car on, open the trunk to accept chunks, open the gas cap to accept liquid, or open the glove-box to accept text documents... --- kind of like that.
Nuclear receptors wait for a good-enough key and then read instructions off of the animal's genes for assembling some other bit of kit.
The aryl-hydrocarbon receptor is one:
It detects such things as such as natural plant flavonoids. When it is presented with benzene, six carbons in a circle, C6H6, a major component of natural gas condensate, for example, a chain of events ensues, including metabolism of the benzene, that leads to a virulent lukemia.

Some of them are orphans: The respond to something that is not made in the body**.

Human culture pours an infinite zoo of novel molecules into the environment. These breakdown into other molecules. There are perhaps the best part of a thousand not-particularly-picky types of detectors functioning in their billions within the human body "looking" for all kinds molecules. All kinds of stuff happens when these things find each-other.

Human biology is simultaneously responsive in myriads of separate ways to a huge number of diverse molecules. Humans pour a vast assortment of molecules into an environment where they variously persist, combine, and degrade.

Response is different than toxicity.

The effects of chemical toxicity are in addition to and synergistic with the effects of triggering molecular receptors.


Estrogen, for example, is about 40 atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Bisphenol-a, BPA, will be detected, even though it is xenobiotic, by the same receptor.

One of them responds to the drug PCP, for example: about 40 atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen:

I Agree suyog. I think Monsanto GMO and Roundup ready crops are affecting our fertility rates. The neonicotinoid pesticides for seed treatment that beome systemic in the food crops can't help either.
This link tells how they tested people and found all had some level of Roundup in their systems.

Partly nutrition but the hormones tend to come from things like beauty care products such as those used in afro hair styles.


Thanks for picking up that list that details my comment. Sounds like you need to avoid just about everything!


From my experience, and what I haven't seen mentioned in these discussions, is I know many women in the UK delay having children due to things like going to University. And we know how delaying having children can have quite an effect on population dynamics. This is similar to the concept of women delaying children to have a career, but more widespread.

As University becomes priced out of range for more people, I expect this trend to reverse at least partially, which will increase fertility rate in developed countries. Obviously this can be more than counteracted in theory by people deciding they can't afford kids, but that doesn't seem to have been a deciding factor for having children throughout history.

Yes, there is a global trend toward having your first child at an older age, and access to education and other opportunities is doubtless part of it. And I think it is under-appreciated how strong an effect this can have on total population growth (or un-growth) rates.

If a girl starts having kids at 15 or younger, and her kids do the same..., you can have quite a large population from that one female by the time she is 70.

But if she waits till she's 35 and her daughter does too, there will only be one added person on the planet by the time she's 70, and only one more than that even if she lives to be ~95!

Further more, if most women are waiting till their late twenties to thirties to have their first kid, the number that can have more than one or two will be quite limited, and a number will discover that they waited too long and can't have any (and many may find that they are quite happy to go without).

Even a totally effective program that gets every couple to have only one child would see world population increase significantly, given the demographic swell toward the bottom of the age range. Only a policy that effectively convinces (or forces) couples to postpone their first child to as late as possible has the potential of starting to reduce world population NOW (without having the four horsemen play a major role).

Advances in medical knowledge and application.
Low infant mortality rates (immunization throughout the world being one reason).
Rise of the middle classes.

Nothing else matters. If couples don't have faith that their offspring will survive, as occured previous to the last hundred or so years, then large families are normal. Due to the oil age and medical advances couples and single woman can plan to limit their offspring or delay having a family by several years.

Even now if a couple loose a child, they immediately try for another. Rising infant mortality rates would see families throw the kitchen sink at reproduction, as sheer numbers then would increase the chances of survivability. It's probably easily correlated over the years and even today by comparing infant mortality rates and fertility rates. All the education and contraceptives possible, would not help if the children don't survive as planned.

Probably the population explosion was a result of the rate of medical advances and lower infant mortality, outpacing the age old habit of having a large family. The oil age has allowed for a great increase in the middle classes and the ability to "family plan". We have probably over corrected in the western world but things could change dramatically if any of the three points above go away.

"Probably the population explosion was a result of the rate of medical advances and lower infant mortality, outpacing the age old habit of having a large family.'

Another brilliant insight from Mr. B.

Thanks for your reality-based perspectives.

I've been interested in this issue for quite a while. The total fertility rate (TFR) has been dropping for most of the world since the middle of the last century.


There seem to be multiple reasons for the drop in fertility, which is being reflected in a drop in birthrates. Virginia Abernethy's Economic Opportunity Hypothesis I think might be part of the explanation, but I think there is more to it.

In Iran, as I recall, the mullahs were encouraging peope to have smaller families, counter to what our popular perception of Muslim societies is. I think the urbanization issue is a part of it. This and generally higher education levels for much of the world's population all add up to many things going on at once.

I also find it interesting that as the world population has gained more food security since the onset of the 'green revolution' the fertility rates have dropped, somewhat contrary to the yeast in the petri dish analogy.

It's altogether pretty fascinating stuff.

Thanks for the graphs. Interesting the ME/No.Africa has some of the fastest rates of decline in fertility rates. Quite different from what I, at least, would have assumed.

If I am reading the chart right, (I have defective color vision), ME/MA had the highest, 7%, and therefore had the farthest to fall. And their new found oil wealth almost certainly had a lot to do with it. But it looks like Sub-Saharan Africa dropped the least. There must be an explanation for that also but I would not venture to guess exactly what that is right now.

Ron P.

Money has a lot to do with it. Money brings education, and most significantly that includes the girls, who were often excluded from that option, when parents had to chose between siblings' education. Education allows women more options, including employment, which in turn provides elements of independence; even in patriarchal societies.
The move to urban environments also brings more individual independence; you can escape the beady-eye of your immediate family by putting distance, work, and thousands of other people between you and those nosy family members. Urban dwelling also makes it easier for individuals, women in particular, to associate with like minded others and to develop confidence to assert whatever person freedom is allowed by their countries' laws, laws which in turn my be ignored in more rural areas.
Money brings health and less dependence upon family.
Money brings phones, TVs and other entertainment - something that is lacking in very poor rural areas when it gets dark, and there is only really one form of entertainment after lights out.

Analysis: Saudi summer oil burn should decline this year

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is likely to burn less crude in its power plants this summer thanks to rising output from dedicated gas fields and gas that would be associated with any increase in oil output to make up for lower Iranian production.

Last summer the world's leading oil exporter burned an average of 730,000 barrels a day (bpd) of crude for electricity to keep the population cool in the hottest months from July to the end of September, official figures indicate.

Hundreds of thousands of barrels of the kingdom's biggest export will again go up in smoke at power plants each day this summer, but the volume of oil used for power is likely to fall.

More supply from the Karan gas field and a likely rise in crude output, which would bring a bonus benefit of more gas as well, should save at least 100,000 bpd in crude use.

Also, here's the Chatham house paper mentioned in the original article in westexas initial comment.

Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia

If I recall correctly Seraph pointed out this paper on the drumbeat last year.

Another relevant article that was mentioned on "The Master Resource Report" in February was this Deutshe Bank paper:
“Crude Oil: Iceberg Glimpsed Off West Africa” (PDF).

Essentially, domestic energy subsidies in oil exporting countries will... Well, you know!

Here is a "What If" scenario, assuming flat total petroleum liquids production of 11 mbpd for Saudi Arabia, with consumption increasing at 5.7%/year (as noted up the thread, BP puts the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in Saudi consumption at 6.8%/year):

West Texas,

Two questions:

1. In your expert opinion, what is a more likely scenario, based on your assumptions of what the decline rate will be in Saudi production?

2. Will the Saudis be able to afford increasing their current internal consumption rate for an extended period of years?

Following are Sam Foucher's projections for Saudi production, consumption and net exports, using actual data through 2006 for the projections (BP data, Total Petroleum Liquids). Post-2006 data through 2010 are circled. The dashed lines represent 95% probability limits. I estimate 2011 production of about 10.8 mbpd, consumption of about 3.0 and net exports of about 7.8 mbpd (BP).


Currently Saudi Arabia is what I call a Phase One decline, when the cash flow from export sales is stable to increasing, despite declining net export volumes, because of generally rising oil prices. Note that even countries that have "successfully" cut their consumption, like Denmark, weren't able to make a material difference in the net export decline rate (given an ongoing production decline).



One snag: if they allow their net oil exports to approach zero (or any practical equivalent), how in the world do they go on eating? After all, they won't be growing much of anything relative to their population, on their dessicated and apparently generally useless (even for concrete-making) sand.

As noted above, the bulk of the depletion in post-2005 CNE is occurring right now. If we projected the most optimistic estimate for Saudi data in 2011, by the end of next year, 2013, they will have shipped about half of their post-2005 CNE.

Tiny houses:

Carrying on from the previous Drumbeat I wondered about whether anyone here would consider living in a tiny house? If you consider the upkeep costs and the savings in terms of rent/mortgage, maintenance, energy costs, rates etc you could effectively live a life of semi-retirement at any age of your choosing, perhaps even to the point where you could subsist on working even part time at minimum wage and still having more disposable income than many of your peers.

I had this funny image of myself living in say a 150-200 sq foot house with a Nissan Leaf and the associated charging equipment/solar panels and vege garden living week to week without any outgoings at all, I.E. completely free of the bills which seem to be the bane of the typical working man/woman. All up you could probably get everything you need for less than $100,000 U.S.D. so I wonder what it'd be like getting the bank manager to approve a loan like that! :-P

I would. Especially if it were moveable.

I lived in an RV for six years; total living area about 160 square feet. I could clean the whole house in about 15 minutes, and even take it with me on vacation ;-)

15 minutes cleaning? You mean you didn't get bored by the fact that you didn't have to spend a good proportion of every week cleaning? ;-)

Though I suspect for many reasons a micro house (moveable) is probably preferable from a cost and practicality perspective compared to a self propelled home (what a concept). It's funny to imagine having your own vege garden, power, sewerage, water collection and microscopic (if any) rates to pay to local government. How is the tax situation for RV's and similar from a local property tax perspective?

The last motor vehicle tax (several years ago) on my RV was $42. While it's not currently licensed, I'm assessed $12/year on my property tax bill. IIRC, comprehensive insurance is about $450/year. Newer RVs would be higher, of course (it's a 1990 model), and these costs vary in different States.

Given that I live 12mi from a nuclear power plant, I'm considering some sort of RV just in case we need to bug out fast. I tend to like the pop-up tent trailers better than a full RV, but I have experience with both.

My little rig:

I'm not well enough to setup or pop-up a tent at every stop. This is always there and ready. It drives and parks like a car. I've lived in it for about 2 1/2 years now. All too comfortable, at times. I've had very good luck with finding places to be.

Here in California, there are laws about what can be where. A trailer is different than a motor-home. A trailer may have to be associated with a building with utilities. A motor-home, R.V., has more flexibility in some ways.

An R.V. park spot might be had for $300 a month. $800 is not uncommon. A surprise might be that they don't want any vehicles made before 1997 (over 15 years old). (Junk yards don't want R.V.s either because they're all fluff and wood).

With all the new people living in their vehicles, things have changed. Some state parks are $30 a night. Walmarts allowing overnight parking are declining in numbers. Cities have added new restrictions to parking on the street. Parks have nighttime curfews. Playing the drive-around game from where you can be by day and where by night might cost hundreds a month in gas.

Check out the realities and the work-arounds.

That's interesting - and thanks for the updates on how things are changing. It makes sense, as the government can simply drop people from visibility in official statistics, but if you're one of them you'll still be looking for someplace to go.

In the last big depression people built shacks in many Hoovervilles all across the country. One way to look at it is that a small RV would be equivalent to building your shack ahead of time. I don't know what is the best strategy - to take the tools and your skills and try to make what you need out of salvaged materials ad-hoc, to try to bring something with you. It's worth remembering that in the last depression fuel was still plentiful so transportation was not that big a problem.

There could be many reasons why one would need to relocated/bug out quickly in the coming years - failing economically, social unrest, man made 9such as nuclear) or climatological disasters, etc. Being mobile could have advantages.

Yes, it is the pre-made shack... so an investment can be made in it; it is well made, the dog protects it, and it and its contents can travel from a bad site choice (tents and contents are thrown into dumpsters when "homeless encampments" are "moved along" in sweeps).

Weight is a major concern. Carrying tools and fasteners has worked well. Tools can get you and others out of trouble. Fasteners allow use to be made of found materials.

Logistics too. Where can you refill the water and propane tanks and drain waste tanks, how to recharge the batteries and launder clothes, etc
Closet full of clothes? Forget it, and limited storage space for food and supplies.
My RV is in my driveway and could support me for weeks in an emergency.
During the last recession there were two families living in a campground in the local mountains @ $8.00/ night, a site is $20.00 today.
Tiny houses:

Decades ago, when I was out of work and living in California, I built a camper inside a FORD van. The first thought was to build with a school bus, since there were to be 3 other folks traveling with me, but such weren't available at the time. The choice of a smaller vehicle turned out to be a good thing, as I later found myself living alone. The FORD van was actually shorter than most cars, so I could park it almost anywhere, even on the street overnight. I traveled around and lived in it for about 4 years, enjoying many adventures in the wilds of the West. The biggest problems were that I could not stand upright inside and there was no heating system besides that from engine heat, so winter mornings were rather crisp until I could start the camp stove for making breakfast. I didn't really appreciate the freedom until after I moved out of it. More recently, I lived in a 20 foot camper while I built my present house, but that hasn't been moved for 14 years since I don't have a vehicle with enough power to pull it...

E. Swanson

I owned 7 VW micro busses, 4 just like this.


They were my homes on wheels in my Navy years, and my hunting/fishing rigs after that. I wish I still had my '77; she was a gem. Very comfortable for one person; everything, including the kitchen sink (no commode, except a gatorade bottle for emergencies ;-) I even had a solar shower.

Lots of pictures here.

That's a mid-late 1970's. I've owned 3 of the camper busses, two 71's and a 69. I even had the accessory tent that attached to the side of bus for one of the 71's.

Just like this:

I miss them!

My first was a '66 21 window I restored and sold for a nice profit, then a '72 Transporter that I found a camper package for, from a wrecked '69 ($50!), which bolted right in. Then a '73, '74, two '76s, and my sweet '77, all Westfalias. I liked the 2-liter, dual-port fuel-injected engines. People sold the busses cheap when they found out how much the air-flow sensors cost to replace (which I learned to repair). The dual carb kits worked well too. I put a 914 "Bumblebee" engine in my '77; ran great, and still got about 18mpg with a tail wind ;-)

All of these are now worth well over their original sticker price, even if in fair condition. If I still had my '77, I would ask $25k or more to sell it. I had all of the accessories/options, including the porch kit in your photo (nice BTW), the kid's hammock for the front, and the auxilliary ("suicide") heater.

The very first vehicle I ever owned was a 1955 VW bus - paid $300 for it in '73 - she was in pretty rough shape (had rolled a couple of times). Rebuilt the engine in my dorm room, and it was a lot of fun until I moved on and sold it. Not the safest vehicle in the world. The tail lights were just two little dots. Driving it you felt right out in front - talk about suicidal. Still, it was my "camper" for a while...

What I really wanted was a tall van, like the Sprinter:
Image: http://stwot.motortrend.com/files/2010/01/26516261.jpeg
...but I was about $35,000 shy.

I actually have more floor space in my 2-story rig than another fellow had in his home-made van conversion.

Knowing more, I would go for the utterly, visually "low-profile", unnoticeable white work-van with no side windows. The tall van would be very nice. For city living, new factors include some places having ordinances against overnight parking of "Vehicles over X feet tall", where X eliminates my rig and motor-homes.

I made a heater. A parabolic porch heater contributed the propane gas plumbing and pilot safety-valve feeding a smaller jet and burner head from a stove. Air is drawn in from outside so that when the system fails, propane vents to the outside. A cylinder of stove pipe contains the gasworks. A length of flexible vent carries the hot air the length of the cabin near the ceiling to a chimney. A muffin-fan circulates the hot air down from the ceiling. I can sleep warm in my little home for $30 a month in 20F (-7C) weather.

There are some folks around here who are building rather small structures. Their basic design is a 12X36' unit, with 1 bedroom and bath, combined living and kitchen areas, a metal roof, built to local code with 6" stud walls and 8" floor joists and insulation up to code. While not an example of a "tiny house", they are built off site and delivered by a tilt trailer onto your foundation. One might consider acquiring an old mobile home frame and adding one of these to the top, after cutting the frame down to fit the smaller size.

A design like this is a much better approach than the typical mobile home, such as the 14X76' unit I happened to acquire and which I'm presently trying to sell. The mobile home is very energy inefficient, even though it meets HUD code, having 2x4" stud walls and a cathedral ceiling, neither of which can be easily upgraded to higher R-value. I think that mobile homes suffer because of weight limits for road transport, which results in compromises such as thinner walls and less insulation thru the roof area. the other direction for moveable designs, the camper trailer, is also strictly constrained by the weight limits of the towing vehicle. If one isn't going to move the structure very often, perhaps only once every few years, a small trailer design could easily be built for energy efficiency and minimal materials which could be moved by a commercial size tow truck...

E. Swanson

Built off site sounds quite cheap really, doesn't it? If you take the mass production approach to house building you could likely save considerable money on labour and materials with standardisation. By my calculations that would mean about 436 square feet or 40.1 square meters. The house I currently reside in is approximately 250 square meters by comparison on a 540 square meter section. By reducing the size of the land taken up by the house one could effectively live on a section half the size and with better positioning also make room for a sizeable vegetable patch. Beyond this, the overall cost of everything from energy to insurance to rates would be considerably lower, however good luck trying to build one any where near a home owners association controlled subdivision! One idea I had quickly was getting an existing home owner to subdivide say 100 square meters from say a 5-600 square meter section. It'd be a good way to extract capital from a home without going through a reverse mortgage or being forced to move so perhaps it would appeal to an elderly couple.

The interesting thing to me about living in such a fashion is that it orients the person to living in a way which engages the outside world, effectively the reverse of the cocooning phenomenon of recent years. Instead of staying at home, reading endless posts on TOD and otherwise staying away from the world you'd be forced instead to go out and enjoy the outside world. Personally the weather down here is phenomenal though yesterdays 26C in Autumn was a bit shocking. When you live in a dry, sub tropical region there is something wrong with you IMO if you don't find at least a day a week where you find yourself enjoying the great outdoors.

... it orients the person to living in a way which engages the outside world, effectively the reverse of the cocooning phenomenon of recent years.

I could not agree more. Here in Australia - with just one strategic shift of your house (or household) per year (at most, two) - you can live in gorgeous balmy weather (18C-28C) every night for all 12 months.

I for one attempt to live outside as many hours of every day that I can - like right now out on the balcony, at 9:00pm, and about 25C. Lovely.

"The mobile home is very energy inefficient,"

They don't have to be. The one I had in Nevada had 6" walls and R-30 or so ceilings. The furnace that came with it was poor, but that would be easy to upgrade at the factory. Being in Nevada, the swamp cooler worked fine. That was a 14 X 70 (actually 66)

A shorter doublewide would be more energy efficient, but harder to move.

You do have to really tie them down though, or the wind will make them way too mobile. On the other hand, in earthquake country (See Nevada/Walker Lane) they are the best place to live. The trip down the road was equivalent to an 8.5 earthquake after all.

I am hoping to build something close to this over the summer. I bit bigger, wood stove, and a little deeper since I don't like tornadoes.

Earth Dome

Squilliam, I agree, having lived pretty much this way for the past 10 years. It did take me almost a lifetime to accumulate the capital to set it up though, so I was able to retire at age 56 on a 160 acre homestead off-grid, in a wood-heated cabin of some 416 net sq ft. All told it cost about $60,000. No utility bills other than internet, cell service, 10 gallons of propane per year, gasoline for my old truck @ 3,000 miles per year. Complete solar & wind system (620 PV watts, 400 watts of wind) cost about $10,000 of the above. So now I'm able to live on social security early-retirement version of $659 per month, with medicare for health insurance. Recreational travel is pretty much unaffordable anymore though, so it has required a bit of re-focusing on priorities & some interests, such as gardening.

@ Gog: That is one key question isn't it? To go high tech and use processed materials or to go low tech and build the thing out of *insert material like dirt, old tires etc here*. There are benefits to either going for complex, synergistic designs such as relying on say an electric car as a battery backup with a large quantity of solar panels as there are for going towards simpler and cheaper. In my mind having read TOD for quite some time and reading about various ideas such as LED lights running off a separate 12V DC circuit perhaps a combination of good design simplicity which removes the need for say high draw appliances such as heat pumps, resilience through using more basic appliances which can be powered by 'mere' combustion may be the best of both worlds.

Abobe? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe does sound like quite a cool building material. I believe Rockman said he could build out of it.

dunewalker: An interesting lifestyle! Though I do wonder whether it would be more beneficial to live on a smaller section and rely on some public city services compared to living in a completely rural environment. One big question is how does one deal with the loneliness and possible isolation from living that far away from a lot of people?

"One big question is how does one deal with the loneliness and possible isolation from living that far away from a lot of people?"

Living rural doesn't mean being isolated. We're in a similar situation as dunewalker, have neighbors within a 5-10 minute walk, and are about a 25-30 minute leisurely bike ride from town (about 8 miles). In the other direction, about 10 miles, is a larger town with a nice hospital, many restaurants, etc.. Several churches within 2 miles, the community center/voting district is about three miles; an easy bike ride. TVA lake about a mile as the crow flies; marina with tiki bar and other ammenities. Two colleges, one a four year liberal arts, the other a 2 year community college, within a 20 minute drive; lots going on there. A vibrant community theater in town. Although the county population is only about 10 thousand, folks are well distributed; a good mix of natives and transplants. If one needs a city fix, Atlanta, Asheville and Chattanooga are all two hours by car (they can keep Atlanta; I often felt much more isolated when living in its suburbs).

There's plenty of homesteadable property around, where one can experience solitude and privacy without being isolated, especially since the real estate crash.

Ghung: Interesting points. I guess coming from someone who actually lives the lifestyle it all makes sense in that context. I wonder actually sometimes whether teenagers and the elderly are the sensible people and some people go from smart -> dumb -> smart again during their lifetimes, most are just dumb however. One thing which I find funny is how similar the lifestyle of the elderly and teenagers can often be, even to the point of wanting to drive the same cars and live in the same places. Where I live is an interesting place because of the sheer number of both the extremely old and extremely young.

Freedom is an interesting concept. To me it breaks down into freedom to and freedom from. If you live in a homestead away from other people you are free for instance to play your music really loudly and at the same time you're also safe from other peoples bad taste in music. Freedom I guess can come from not relying on outside sources for basic needs and the ability to live and act as you please. The more people around I guess means the fewer freedoms you actually have and the more restricted you are in acting. One concept which seems pretty common is the idea of utopia which seems to entail having a lot of easily accessible resources divided amongst not too many people with a good climate and aesthetic.

We recently had a series of earthquakes in New Zealand where I live in the city of Christchurch. One interesting thought I had about that was about the fact that it happened in the middle of the night. I imagined that I could freeze time and interview a few residents of the city right a couple of seconds into the worst of the shaking and ask them some questions such as "I see the power is out and you're looking pretty scared at the moment, how much would you pay for the ability to turn on your lights RIGHT NOW?" because it seems that you need things the most right at the time when often you can't access them due to extreme weather or other disasters.

Yeah, Squil, freedom and isolation are subjective; certainly situational. As an aside, have you read TAE's comentary on post-earthquake Christchurch:

The Shock Doctrine has come to New Zealand

Sounds a bit ominous. Any comments from ground zero?

There is more than a kernel of truth to what he wrote, disturbingly accurate is how I would describe it. It seems that not only is the truth silenced, people are taught to fear it so when the truth finally comes out they will automatically reject it. Even something like egalitarianism which used to be a big part of my country is treated as if it is something to be feared.

The current sale of assets for instance doesn't actually make sense, you can pay the debt back with the profits off assets, you can secure debt against assets and you can default on loans when it comes down to it. I know for a fact that one of the architects of the last asset sale lived in a very expensive house which I have seen with my own eyes, so obviously an asset sale is needed but it certainly isn't addressing the wider needs of the population.

Have your cake and eat it too? Nope. The cake is a lie.

A service economy is really a servant economy by another name. It only makes economic sense when you replace work you could do yourself with work other people do if these other people are paid less and better yet, significantly less than you. New Zealand was egalitarian because New Zealand didn't have a service economy to speak of. In the end TPTB just want New Zealand to be a service economy, in service of the wealthy both locally and abroad. Ownership of services and companies in a smaller country is particularly useful due to the ability to influence due process and extract greater economic rents due to the natural production of monopolies.

The truth is that about 70% of my fellow NZers are against the sale of state owned companies. I don't think I can really add much except that it is likely going to go ahead on a slim 1 seat majority in the house. The piece of writing he did was pretty comprehensive.

Thanks, Squil. I used to see NZ as sort of a beacon of hope down under, but it seems the folks down there may have fallen into the same complacency trap that many in the US and EU have. Sounds like you guys need a Kiwi Spring this year, around the time of the elections in the US seems about right... get all of those kids earning their keep.

From TAE link:

Now, ever since we got to Australia and, later, New Zealand, I've had the impression that the main priority of the respective federal governments is to sell off any and all domestic resources as fast as they can, and for short term profit only (or, well, maybe to cover the deficit losses they've run up).

This is not all true ... well, certainly not for the Australian side of things.

Government debt (and national debt) are quite low (by comparison to the OECD), and Australia runs a current account that has mostly been in the positive for quite a while. The federal government is committed to a budget surplus for 2012-2013.

Okay - a lot of this is based on digging stuff out of the ground and selling it to China, Japan, and elsewhere, but so be it. But I do agree that (a) moving to a service economy is not the right direction, (b) selling government-owned assets is anathema to many people, and (c) Australia and NZ had two of the highest per capita incomes right through the 1950s to 1970s .. and then something happened.

The something of course was opening up both tariff-protected bolt-holes (based on primary produce) to genuine international trade and competition, plus the creation of the EEC/EU ... and because we had been so cocooned and protected, we suffered badly, relative to many emerging economies. But still, Australia and NZ are quite good places to be in many ways, if TSHTF.

Agree with you. What is New York?" A million people living lonesome together".My experience has been that you must be an extrovert then you are not isolated.If you stay with yourself then it is a problem.I engage in conversation with absolute strangers and never feel isolated though I am a first generation immigrant in Belgium but I have no hiccups in engaging locals.I have started groups to explain peak oil to Belgians.The question should be "Are you alone or are you lonely?"The answer for me is "Yes I am alone but never lonely".

I live in a far more isolated area than Ghung; compared to me, he lives in an urban area. I want to make a point I've made before: It takes a certain personality type to make it in the boondocks. Besides having a variety of skills, they also have to be "self-contained". By this I mean they don't "need" people as a support mechanism to be happy. Sure, there are times when I see people (like tonight is a Grange meeting) but I may also not see people except my wife for extended periods. I'm quite happy spending my time with everything around me; the birds, weather, working in the garden and orchard or just looking at the mountains. Although we watch a DVD now and then, we don't even get TV and haven't for years.

I've lived in the real boondocks for almost 40 years and have watched people come and go. They come with suburban and city expectations and quickly find this is a different reality and leave in a few years.


I would be quite content in a more remote location, I'm sure; come down out of the mountains a few times a year for supplies, etc.. My wife wouldn't go for it, and we still need jobs. I have a daughter and grandkids nearby as well, and having the family homestead closer to a town and schools makes more sense, and we're on the fringe of some large areas of wilderness. It's a pretty good tradeoff. My original point was that rural doesn't have to mean remote.

I think a likely scenario is the collapse of global trade and corporations. I don't think we have the resources locally to support these high-tech solutions which will need repair parts and specialized skills. While backpacking I feel more comfortable in a natural, low-tech setting so I think I'll like this lifestyle. I'll let you know if I get it built and live there for more than a couple of weeks :).

It doesn't cost much either.

Do I get to keep my computers and internet connection? I can do an incredible amount of living in 200 sq. ft. if I have access to work, socialize and play.

How much space do I get outside, never tried to be self sufficient, but I imagine it requires a bit more than 200 sq. ft. of garden. Do I have to supply my own source of potable water?

There also would seem to be a type of dimishing return on house size. Pretty obvious that a 75,000 sq. ft. super mansion uses more resources than a 2500 sq. ft. house. But What about going from 2500 to 1000 and then 1000 to 200? Apart from the initial resources to build what is the difference in upkeep and energy utilization?

Guess my overall question is, is there a limit where going small helps? If I still demand a a single family home and personal transportation.

BadgerB - Is there a limit on small? I guess so. I think it depends on the overall space you have available and not just the space inside or outside independently, coupled with the climate. If you have a large outdoor area and you spend a lot of time in it, you won't notice so much a lack of interior space. With a small design you have to decide for instance whether to devote more space to the bedrooms or communal areas, a large design lets you have your cake and eat it too.

With costs I believe it does tend to compound on itself as your house size increases. Whilst the joy of owning a fabulous house is wonderful, the asset itself is really a paper asset whereas the cost of insurance, energy, taxes are an increasing drain on resources as you scale the size and therefore price of your house and contents. It is essentially the same as buying a car, all your costs from initial purchase cost to insurance to maintenence and running costs scale with the size of the vehicle in question.

Is there a point where you don't economize by going smaller? I would say no except where it prevents you from doing things you need to do, just as going smaller on a vehicle doesn't save money once you reach the point where the vehicle ceases being useful for it's intended purpose.

"With costs I believe it does tend to compound on itself as your house size increases. "

Oh yes indeed. As to how much house you need, you do need more in areas with climate issues. If excess heat or cold keeps you mostly indoors for months at time some extra project space is very nice.

That trailer in Nevada was 902 square feet, and was plenty big enough for a single guy with hobbies. The current house is 1360 square feet and it arguably too big since I'm single again, but it was too small for a family of five. 1600 sq ft, well laid out, would have been plenty. I have know idea what people do with 3000 square feet, other than clean.

BS, as usual.

The happiest people I know lived in MN---very cold winters and hot, humid summers---in a very small mobile home. They attributed their happiness to spending almost all their time, whatever the weather, outdoors.

"some extra project space is very nice"

True. I tinker, restore things, and 'build' bikes in the NW winter. I can have 4 or 5 active projects at a time w +/- 20 on hand including my bike suitcase-trailer creations and E stuff.

It used to be multiple car rebuilds. These more recent compulsions seems fairly benign, even worthwhile, but somehow my wife is happier now that I have carved out a shop space in the cellar of our litle abode.

Outside? Yea, for snowshoeing.

Construct a house with a square cross-section or a cubical shape to minimize the building materials and surface area (reduces heat flow). For example, a building that is 16 feet x 16 feet and 2 stories tall with a nearly horizontal roof would meet this criteria. Otherwise, live in an apartment.

A 16x16 foot 2-story house would make a very efficient little 512 sq. ft. 2-bedroom home for a couple and up to 2 small children. You could put 2 bedrooms plus a bath or a bath-and-a-half on the 2nd floor, and a combined kitchen/dining/living room on the main floor. With engineered floor joists on the second floor, the main floor could have no interior walls at all and be completely open. Cozy but spacious.

The biggest costs in a house are the foundation and the roof, so adding a second floor doubles the space without increasing the costs all that much.

I wouldn't put a flat roof on it, though. If you use a 12:12 or steeper pitch, you can have a nice attic with potentially a sleeping loft or 2 more bedrooms up there (family's growing, you know). A basement would be very useful because you could put the utilities, storage, and potentially another living suite w/bath down there. Insulate all of it, including basement, to maximum standards and it would cost very little to heat.

I know of families with 12 kids who grew up in places about this size and shape. It worked well as long as the kids spent most of their time outside, which meant they got lots of exercise, and it had the advantage that the kids didn't hang around for long after they graduated from school, which is a more modern problem.

Nowadays the authorities would probably arrest you for child abuse because you didn't give every kid his own bedroom, and the bedrooms were only 8 feet wide.

Bell Labs is leading a consortium of Telecomm companies (AT&T, etc) to outline how
they could make Telecommunications and IT 1000 times more energy-efficient:


GreenTouch™ is Growing

Right now is an exciting time for GreenTouch. We have recently opened membership up industry-wide, and continue to take important steps towards reaching the ultimate goal of a 1000-fold increase in energy efficiency.

Is this just more cornucopian thinking or feasible?
Bell Labs original estimate was that Telecomm and IT could be made 10,000 times more energy efficient but they were settling on 1000 times as a realistic goal.
Personally I believe DIRECT energy savings of 1000 times could be feasible.
Unlike transportation which requires physically moving goods or people in the real world, or manufacturing which also requires real world physical manipulation, the Internet and IT are basically about 1's and 0's. In theory a 1 or 0 in information could
be infinitely small. But of course actually transmitting that infinitely small bit of information in a way that is clear to the receiver is not easy at the limits.

Fiber optics using light-wavelengths to transmit data and information have only begun to
explore their limits but of course this requires a physical optical fiber network to be
built, installed and maintained. How much more information can be crammed into Coax or radio frequencies seems like a much different matter and may be approaching upper bounds.
The big problem could be indirect costs - my cell phone died after just over 2 years use!
This is abyssmal! Although the direct energy use of my cell phone might be reduced by 1000 times, how will that reduce overall energy consumption if I have to use lots of energy to replace electronic devices every 2 years??
I think that is where the problem will come in to the Greentouch initiative.
As many of these electronic wonders like iPhones are heavily dependent on doping with
Rare Earths will there be enough of those? Or are there feasible recycling/reuse options? Right now the recycling process for electronics in sweat shops in China and other developing countries requires huge amounts of dangerous human labor at great peril to the workers.

it would be interesting to pursue the prospects for maintaining the Internet and our highly connected world after Peak Oil here.

I wondered about whether anyone here would consider living in a tiny house?

I would consider it, once my house became an 'empty nest'.

More likely trend, in my opinion, is that history rhymes: That dwellings do not get tiny, but instead become multi-generational under one roof, as an article in today's drumbeat mentions.

I just came back to Minneapolis from Tucson. I visited a friend with a small adobe house, 1 BR + Den + LR, galley style kitchen, probably about 450 sq feet, small patio out back with washer outside (doesn't rain much in Tucson). My friend has a computer, but doesn't use it much since he works with them all day. He rarely watches TV, reads quite a bit, and does a few do-it-yourself type projects. He seems quite happy with his small abode.

All this talk of small houses is reminding me of "Hojoki" or "An Account of my Hut" by Kamo no Chomei. I think the size of a dwelling has little to do with the happiness of the occupant.

I'll try and pick up some photos of what people call home here. Might take a bit.


That would be great.

Related to Oil production still unstable in Libya, above, it seems Obama is throwing Turkey a bone made of Libyan oil,, but not so fast:

In Major Policy shift, Turkey to Buy Libyan Crude to Replace Iranian

Washington’s attempts to corral recalcitrant nations to support increased sanctions on Iran by boycotting their oil exports have seen a number of countries effectively ignore the U.S. pleas, including China and India.

Now however, the Obama administration has apparently scored a diplomatic victory with one of Iran’s neighbors, as Turkey has announced that it will replace Iranian crude imports with oil shipped in from Libya.

But not immediately.

On 30 March Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced, “We will begin purchasing crude oil from Libya via the private Turkish Petroleum Refineries Company (TUPRAS) in 2012. We believe that this was the right step to take, to boost our commercial relationship with Libya and help with the normalization of the country. We will accordingly reduce the amount of crude oil purchased from Iran.”

It seems more like Turkey has the US Administration's 'permission' to get (at least some of) Greece's share of whatever light/sweet Lybya can deliver to offset Iranian oil that likely won't be available, for whatever reason. Gotta keep the neighbors happy.... More news from Lybya: Libya News Latest Real-Time Updates

Turkey had a close relationship with Libya prior to last year's conflict. It had a visa-free travel agreement in place, which meant for many Libyans, Turkey was an obvious location for holiday travel and business. I don't know the extent of economic activity between the two countries, but it is logical for Turkey to use past experience to form a new business stream, and at the same time reduce or stop the Iranian link, to comply with the embargo.

So the US administration scores a imperial diplomatic victory? Funny, that.

The Last Sip By Chris Nelder

A fever has swept over American energy observers in recent weeks as they compete to write the most optimistic story of impending energy independence. For example, see Clifford Krauss in the New York Times, Citigroup’s Ed Morse in the Wall Street Journal, and Raymond James’s outlook covered by Angel Gonzalez for Dow Jones, with perhaps the “Bonanza” theme song in the background.

Or if not a fever, then perhaps a mental illness, or heavy doses of good acid. Because as far as the data shows, none of these projections have any basis in reality.

This is a great article by Chris Nelder. It discusses Citigroup's outlandish projection that North America will add the equivalent of 1.4 mbpd of new production every year between now and 2020 and leaves no doubt that this is all hot air and hyperbole. The article plugs Dave Summers (Heading Out) and his article on The Oil Drum.

Ron P.

...with perhaps the “Bonanza” theme song in the background.

The article is even better with the Bonanza Theme Song in the background. Yee Ha! Lorne Greene, Citigroup and Apple Pie. What could go wrong?

Just FYI, when Lorne Greene was the principal newsreader on the CBC National News at the beginning of WW II many people called him "The Voice of Doom".

I am planning to reflect the Citi group articlein my (swedish) blog. I will not analyze it, only promise to come back a few years later with the actuall outcome and show how totally wrong it was. Easyest score I've ever made.

A good article by Chris Nelder, but I think he missed the real story, this despite the fact that the quote from Dr. Campbell nails it "... the glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it’s gone" (Emphasis mine)

There it is.

Anyone not terrified of math who is familiar with the exponential function knows that even a one or two percent growth in demand that is sustained for a time will lead to a doubling of that demand, such that as much product must be supplied for that period as was consumed in all other periods combined.

In the past I have paraphrased this as:

If you drink a milkshake by doubling the straws with each sip, then you only need to get a glass half full before there is just one sip left.

Try it. Put a few coins in your hand, say sixteen of them.

  • First, remove one. Fifteen left.
  • Second, double the straws and remove two. Thirteen left.
  • Third, double again and remove four coins. Nine left.

What comes next? That's right, despite the fact that we still have roughly half the coins we started with, there is just one sip left. The fourth doubling removes eight coins and our glass is essentially empty, save for one lonely coin.

Notice that on the last sip of eight coins we are removing more than has been consumed in all the previous sips: 4 + 2 + 1 = 7

Notice also that if we found THREE MORE completely full milkshakes, they would be gone in just two sips!

Try it. Add 48 coins to the glass, 16 times 3, plus the one we had left over for a total of 49.

  • Fifth doubling, remove 16 coins. 33 left.
  • Sixth doubling, remove 32 coins. Oops! All four glasses already empty.

Chris Nelder made the case that with an all out effort to drill unconventional domestic plays we would be lucky to squeeze out few more years of costly production, but that's not even close to the real story because he assumed CURRENT RATES of consumption. Given the relentless and all pervasive demands to grow the economy, all over the world, then even that projection looks extremely optimistic.

The last sip is already going fast, and even if by some miracle we found another entire planet Earth full of hydrocarbon goodness, guess what? It would only buy us one more sip.


I think it was Lester Brown who described this as the '29th day' parable. If the lily pads double every day and on the 29th day you have half the pond left, one more day covers it all.

It seems like the planet is getting to this point. There seem to be abundant resources left, but we are consuming at an exponential rate, so time is getting very short until the crunch.

The last sip is already going fast, and even if by some miracle we found another entire planet Earth full of hydrocarbon goodness, guess what? It would only buy us one more sip.

Well said, Jerry.

The consequences are expressed in 2004 by George Monbiot in the following way:

Basic Fact Number One:

At any rate of use, non-renewable resoures are, by definition, depleted. They will not come back. As soon as you begin to use one, the clock starts ticking towards the day on which it becomes exhausted. This applies even to the non-renewable resource on which the entire modern economy is built: namely petroleum. Global oil production will soon reach its peak and then decline, at which point the Age of Growth will give way to the Age of Entropy.

Not immediately, of course, but unless another source of energy, just as cheap, with just as high a ratio of “energy return on energy invested” is discovered or developed, there will be a gradual decline in our ability to generate the growth required to keep the debt-based financial system from collapsing.

Those of us who are alive today have been lucky enough to have been brought up in an age of energy surplus. This is a remarkable historical and biological anomaly. A supply of oil that exceeds demand has permitted us to do what all species strive to do – expand the ecological space we occupy – but without encountering direct competition for the limiting resource. The surplus has led us to believe in the possibility of universal peace and universal comfort, for a global population of 6 billion, or 9 or 10. If kindness and comfort are, as I suspect, the results of an energy surplus, then, as the supply contracts, we could be expected to start fighting once again like cats in a sack. In the presence of entropy, virtue might be impossible.


Anyone not terrified of math who is familiar with the exponential function knows that even a one or two percent growth in demand that is sustained for a time will lead to a doubling of that demand ...

This is quite misleading though ... a 1.5% increase in demand (a) takes many years to double (~48), and (b) quite often commentary is based on the base.

So if your index is 100, then Year2 is 105.5, Year3 is 103.0 and so on. The "exponential function" is thrown about as a weapon on here - like a Darth Vader light sword, but gee .. it really does need to be kept in perspective.

The whole notion of "the last sip" doubling the previous sip, is ... well ... conceptual nonsense, especially if you think about the real world.


"Graph of the Day: Regions Most Vulnerable to Flooding Caused by Sea Level Rise"

No problem. It mostly floods Africa and South and East Asia. Nobody lives there, do they?


"China agriculture at risk from climate change"

Good thing no one lives in China, either.

The outlined areas are only those WORST affected. No blue line in Europe, and we have plenty of danger zones. Netherlands, Denmark, southern Sweden is on the list.

Good points, and sorry about the snark. I actually think effects of droughts, heatwaves and extreme downpours/deluges on crops and populations will be more immediately devastating and destabilizing than sea level rise. But that too will come, inexorably.

Grab any projection map and look at South Florida....

Half the State goes with a few meters rise.

And the small house issue? 99.9% of people in the U.S. live in a Dwelling much too big. Small place, super insulated, partial or completely underground is the way to survive and enjoy life. Get outside and live with the Natural World.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

Here's the fun, interactive map to play around with if you want to see what goes under with any given number of meters of rise:


There goes the Indonesian rainforest palm oil plantations. Orangutans will be missed.

The Cetaceans must be having a good chuckle 'round about now, if cetacean intelligence is as good as estimated. And assuming we don't wipe out all the fish.

Actually, between overfishing, heavy metals/toxins/microplastics, incidental kill, noise pollution and much else, cetacean populations are being driven down quickly even before human starvations cause all "conservation" laws to go by the wayside and allow them to be shot on sight; and we're setting them up for anoxic, reefless acidic oceans of bacteria and jellyfish they didn't evolve to deal with. They've had self-aware intelligence for probably a lot longer than the ape lineage, and without screwing up the planet since they didn't have the same chance opportunities to mess up bigtime that we did. Let it not be said that "intelligent life" is inherently unsustainable. They just had the poor luck to be contemporaneous with the pyromaniac ape overshoot, which in the fossil record will look a lot like a large asteroid impact or volcanism causing a great climate change and mass extinction. The only difference will be odd index fossils like Barbi-doll heads, cigarette butts and brass shell casings; and of course the lack of paleontologists to look at them.

"They just had the poor luck to be contemporaneous with the pyromaniac ape overshoot".

Abysmally poor luck...

I had the great good fortune to have gone scuba-diving at night, off Black Rock in Maui, in February, when the whales come in. The song, underwater, in the dark...well, it was indescribable. One can feel the reverberations in one's chest, knowing those great creatures are all around but not seeing them - only a small glow from flashlights.

It's almost unbearably sad to think of losing them.

I lived in Maui 10 years, and Black Rock is as good as it gets for whale songs.
The geology is perfect, and dramatic.

My view in a nutshell - great post.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 30, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.8 million barrels per day during the week ending March 30, 299 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 85.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.8 million barrels per day last week, up by 505 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day, 59 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 885 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 224 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 9.0 million barrels from the previous week. At 362.4 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories remained unchanged from last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 12.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged about 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 4.7 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged nearly 8.6 million barrels per day, down by 3.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged just under 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 5.0 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 4.6 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Oil Declines After U.S. Stockpiles Surge the Most Since 2

Oil tumbled after the Energy Department said U.S. stockpiles surged the most since 2008 as U.S. crude output climbed to the highest level in 12 years.

U.S. output rose 2.9 percent to 6.05 million barrels a day, the most since 1999.

Hmmm... EIA still shows 5.8 as of Mar 23 (as of 1PM eastern)

Found it. 6.049 MPBD it is.

I wonder if this increased production will just be refined and exported.

I always wonder what the grade is of the inventory we have on hand? If it's a bunch of hard to refine, heavy crude then...

Listening to the CBC a commentator reported that they are closing refineries on the eastern seaboard because they could only refine light sweet crude. Until new pipelines are built coming from the west high prices are here to stay.

Boy was that Sohbek Karbuz Blogpost grating! Particularly after listing so many of the successful steps that had been taken, to drop in a snarky line like this..

The vehicles travel up to 200 miles on a single charge, refuel in five minutes and produce zero emissions. (Army Unveils World’s First Military Fleet of Fuel Cell Vehicles). Not surprisingly I haven’t seen any cost figures in any report related to this subject. Are these vehicles free of charge?

Is he expecting that there is anything worth doing that is going to be Free of Charge? I may not have much that I find all that promising about a Fuel Cell vehicle.. but if it opens up an option when options are in short supply, I don't think I'd kick it out of bed.

I'm not sure if my comment will make it through, so I'm copying it here.

Mr. Karbuz;
I fear you, like these Senators are looking at the Costs of everything, and the Value of Nothing.

It sounds a little too much like a golden opportunity to hit the President and the Conservationist Community over the head with whatever is at hand.. but be careful with that. As the Military works to use Less fuel and to use Other fuels, I'm sure you're well aware of the cost we are paying simply to DELIVER each gallon up to the front lines, and that it becomes a compounding advantage to find ways to burn less and less of it. Beyond that, the call to use these monies to simpy buy more Gas and JP-8 (etc) Powered vehicles sounds like a very credulous willingness to assume that we can remain dependent upon the very fuels that have us fighting in that region to start with.

The inclination to diversify our fleets fuel portfolio sounds like a wise precaution to me, while the naysayers are sounding Penny-wise and Pound-foolish. It's very surprising to hear McCain on that Bandwagon.. but we've seen his colors change radically before, no?

R Fiske


Well, as I suspected, there seems to be a good reason that his blog has (0) Comments, if the unwillingness to publish my view is any indication.

EDIT: Well, without mush surprise, here is a line from a previous blogpost he has written..

In 1961, President Eisenhower warned of an expanding “military-industrial complex”. Now the danger is government-renewable energy industry complex. Consumers and Taxpayers must be warned!


Consumers and Taxpayers must, indeed be warned, but not about what he thinks. Plus, it's really hard to believe that the renewable energy sector is quite as ominous and vile a business to be in as the one where we create endless wars in order to keep the orders coming! Talk about following Orders!

Obey your Bloodlust!

Sohbet posted your reply and replied to it.

Thanks, Rick.

Well.. at the article, it still says (0) Comments.. I'll poke around his root address, but it hardly seems like he's inviting an open discussion in the context of this essay ..

I see 3 comments on his top article.

If you're using Firefox, you may need to allow Blogger/Blogspot through NoScript to see the comments.

I don't think he's trying to block discussion so much as he's a low-traffic blog, using the settings most people use for low-traffic blogs at Blogger. He posts maybe once a month. Probably doesn't check the moderation queue all that often.

If your blog is low-traffic, the vast majority of comments you get are spam, so most people have moderation enabled, at least for posts that have been up awhile.

Ok. So I found the comments at the root of the site, but not at the link which leads merely to that one post.

I tried one more comment there, but I don't expect it to get very far, as his response was still just hammering at this concept of the awful "Military Green-energy Industrial Complex."

The Horror!

Click on the time at the bottom of the post. That's the permalink.

Weird, I know, but that's how Blogger's default template was set up. It's not the title you click on, it's the time stamp at the bottom.

My wife and I were just down in Mendocino CA last week. The only station in town, a Chevron, likes to work on cars but they don't really like to pump gas, though the pump is there for self serve if someone needs it. The prices were $5.76.9 for Regular and $5.96.9 for Supreme. Someone had filled their tank - 14 gallons for $80.


Re: Advanced power-grid research finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West

This is the most recent of a number of fairly detailed studies that show that it is feasible to provide an adequate low-carbon electricity supply in the states making up the US Western Interconnect. For a number of reasons, the problem is quite a bit easier in the Western Interconnect than in the Eastern (ignoring Texas for this discussion).

  • Smaller problem in absolute terms, as only around 23% of the US population lives in those states.
  • Smaller problem in relative terms, as the per-capita electricity generation is signficantly lower in the West.
  • Higher-quality renewable resources, some already developed (25% or a bit more of all electricity generation in the West is conventional hydro and wind).
  • Population is more concentrated in a small number of large metro areas, minimizing the complexity of the long-distance high-capacity grid. There are a limited number of "corridors" where building long-haul facilities of any sort -- power, rail, highway, etc -- are attractive.
  • Renewable resources are much closer to those population centers than is the case in the East.

Is anyone aware of comparably detailed studies for the Eastern Interconnect? To my knowledge, writing aimed at that area tends to be much more just arm-waving. Probably, IMO, because it's a whole lot harder problem.

I read that article, but there's little info there - is there a link to the actual study somewhere?

I believe that this (caution: PDF) is the journal article that is referred to. I haven't had a chance to look at it in detail yet, but just skimming suggests the "usual culprits": big hydro in the NW, big solar in the SW, big wind along the downslope of the Rockies and the western part of the Great Plains, geothermal in the Great Basin. Modest amounts of all of those in other areas. Natural gas in place of coal. Some nuclear (other studies suggest the West could get by without nuclear). Transmission links seem to follow the usual routes.

The Western Interconnect states are energy-rich relative to the size of their demand. Those same resources begin to look very much smaller (and isolated) when you start talking about using them to power the Eastern Interconnect. Detailed modeling of the Eastern Interconnect is a harder problem, probably by at least an order of magnitude. The usual "lights at night" satellite maps of the US show part of that story:

Thanks - that will take some reading (more than I can do right now while I'm supposed to be designing "Smart Grid" equipment!). Looks like a big investment in new generation and some T&D, but of course it's more reasonable in a region with lower populations and more energy sources. I'm mostly interested in what assumptions go into it. It's still a big nut and will have to compete with other uses of funds.

My point is that it at least appears feasible in the West. Drop the low-carbon part of the goal for a few decades and the West sits on enough coal to last a long time (well, at least if they quit shipping such enormous amounts of it East). Especially if even moderate efficiency and conservation measures are taken. I'm trying to determine if anyone has put forth a similarly realistic plan for the Eastern Interconnect -- which has a lot of problems.

They (the Eastern Interconnect states) generate (hence use) almost 10 times as much electricity as the Western Interconnect states. More of that much larger amount is coal (in 2010, 47% of the total in the East versus 30% in the West). They're screaming about how impossible it is to afford the clean-up of those old coal-burners as required by the new Cross State Air Pollution Rule (no Western coal-burners were affected by that rule). They get 21% of their power from a fleet of aging nukes, and all 80-some of those are going to be retired over the next 20-25 years. I don't see how they keep the lights on reliably in 25 years, but was hoping that someone had a realistic plan.

Well, they is we from my view!

Near as I can tell the "plan" is to use high speed communication technology to better "manage" the existing generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure (thus avoiding spending on more capacity), and at the same time to add enormous amounts of load by shifting the energy to power personal automobiles onto that same grid. When I comment that this is insane there are always reasons why I'm wrong. It isn't a plan as it doesn't address the problems at all, and even if the existing generation was viable long term it would only lead to catastrophic failures as the reserve capacity (and resiliency) drops to zero.

Perhaps the study takes this into account, but at least some of the hydroelectric plants of the West will at some point in the coming decades go offline as the rivers which supply them run dry. One study suggests that Lake Mead (formed by Hoover Dam) stands a fifty/fifty chance of drying out between 2025 and 2031 (Barnett and Pierce, 2009). The ability of the dam to generate electricity will have already failed before the point at which the lake completely dries out.

It seems likely that if Lake Mead gets that dry, the resulting water shortfall is likely to be a much more pressing problem in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California than the electricity problem.

In the big picture in the Western Interconnect, the Colorado basin's output isn't that much of the total hydro. California produces more than three times as many MW-hours from its own conventional hydro sources as the average Hoover and Glen Canyon outputs combined, and the production in the Columbia basin dwarfs the output from the Colorado. Even localized impacts may be smaller than expected: only about 6.1% of total Nevada generation is from hydro now (geothermal is about 5.9%); in 2010, natural gas accounted for two-thirds of all NV generation.

The Colorado basin is... complicated. I'm glad I don't have to try to model it. For example, estimates are that tamarisk (saltcedar), an invasive species, increases evapotranspiration by about a half-million acre-feet per year relative to native plants. At least in the upper basin, there are active efforts to eradicate, or at least greatly reduce, the infestation. Preliminary results from an introduced species of beetle that feeds only on tamarisk look at least somewhat promising. How do you build that into a climate change model?

UAE Railroad goes into Phase II

For freight and passengers, and part of a larger standard gauge southern Persian Gulf network, Oman to Kuwait. Nothing for Yemen and links to Iraq, Jordan (and Iran) are not yet mentioned.


Meanwhile, the US is trying to influence the "New Silk Road" standard gauge rail lines to bypass Iran.

Iran has agreements to build standard gauge rail to Herat, Afghanistan, Baghdad and southern Iraq (easy link to Kuwait) and has completed link to Pakistan (which has agreed, but not implemented, change to standard gauge to Islamabad).

Talk @ new Chinese standard gauge rail line to northern Pakistan as well.

Libya was building a standard gauge, double track electrified rail line form Tunisia to Benghazi when the Revolution happened. Connecting through Tunisia to Algeria & Morocco seems logical and on to Egypt on the other side.

Best Hopes for a New Eurasian Rail network,


Is rainfall a greater threat to China's agriculture than warming?

... "China has experienced significant climate change over the last century", said Zhang. "The annual mean air temperature increased by 1.1 °C from 1951 to 2001, rainfall in Western China increased by up to 15% per decade and decreased in the North."

"Projections from climate models predict that mean temperature could rise by 2.3-3.3 °C by 2050 while rainfall could increase by 5-7%," said Huang. "This could have a major impact on China's agriculture which accounts for 7% of the world's arable land but feeds about 22% of the global population."

US forecasters see drop in 2012 Atlantic hurricanes

The number of 2012 Atlantic hurricanes will be below average this season due to a cooling of tropical waters and the potential development of El Nino conditions, US forecasters said Wednesday.

The Colorado State University forecast team predicted 10 named storms during the hurricane season from June 1 to November 30.

Four of the storms are expected to achieve hurricane strength and two of those are expected to be major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles (178 kilometers) per hour or greater.

Some 'improved cookstoves' may emit more pollution than traditional mud cookstoves

The first real-world, head-to-head comparison of "improved cookstoves" (ICs) and traditional mud stoves has found that some ICs may at times emit more of the worrisome "black carbon," or soot, particles that are linked to serious health and environmental concerns than traditional mud stoves or open-cook fires. The report, which raises concerns about the leading hope as a clean cooking technology in the developing world, appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science &Technology.

We have a saying in my country "If it ain't broke don't fix it". I wonder how common that expression or something similar is in other places.

The saying is common in the U.S. as well. As to how well people follow it... that's a different story!

If it ain't broke fix it until it is, then bid on the contract for the replacement.

At my old place of employment. The trend was such that our product would become uncompetitive in the future if we didn't change the design. I kept getting that expression back. The remains of the compnay -similar business but without that product are just a shadow of its former self. So to me it means don't worry be happy, you don't need to respond until the problem is so obvious you can't miss it. Then it is too late!

Well, it IS broke, that's why they're trying to fix it... Cooking over smokey fires in enclosed kitchens is a major cause of illness and death among poorer women in places like India. Looking at the abstract, it seems that it all depends on conditions. Unfortunately these people don't have the option of electric or natural gas stoves yet.

In rural China, one method for dealing with this issue is to use methane from sewage tanks (biogas) - a pretty good solution, actually.

Pretty much anything is better than an open wood stove in a poorly ventilated room.

I put in a Puxin 'family size' biogas generator last year. Unfortunately I have not fed it yet so I don't know how it will do yet.

So far every wife has said "I'll send my husband over".


Thawing Permafrost 50 million Years Ago Led to Extreme Global Warming Events

... "The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments," DeConto says. "We are instead ascribing the carbon source to the continents, in polar latitudes where permafrost can store massive amounts of carbon that can be released as CO2 when the permafrost thaws."

The new view is supported by calculations estimating interactions of variables such as greenhouse gas levels, changes in the Earth's tilt and orbit, ancient distributions of vegetation, and carbon stored in rocks and in frozen soil.

... Further, if the analysis is correct and past extreme warm events can be attributed to permafrost loss, it implies that thawing of permafrost in similar environments observed today "will provide a substantial positive feedback to future warming."

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Energy Efficiency R&D (pdf)

Energy-related research and development (R&D)—on coal-based synthetic petroleum and on atomic power—played an important role in the successful outcome of World War II. In the postwar era, the federal government conducted R&D on fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources to support peacetime economic growth. The energy crises of the 1970s spurred the government to broaden the focus to include renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Over the 35-year period from the Department of Energy’s inception at the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 1978 through FY2012, federal funding for renewable energy R&D amounted to about 17% of the energy R&D total, compared with 15% for energy efficiency, 25% for fossil, and 37% for nuclear. For the 65- year period from 1948 through 2012, nearly 12% went to renewables, compared with 10% for efficiency, 25% for fossil, and 49% for nuclear.

also Effects of Radiation from Fukushima Dai-ichi on the U.S. Marine Environment

Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s “Rebalancing” Toward Asia

and this little 'land mine' Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Financial Problems

The continuing conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a time of uncertainty in the housing, mortgage, and financial markets has raised doubts about the future of these enterprises, which are chartered by Congress as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and whose debts are widely believed to be implicitly guaranteed by the federal government.

- What Is the Current Financial Condition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
- What is the Likely Impact of Standard & Poor’s Downgrade of the Federal Government, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac?
- Can the GSEs Continue to Pay Dividends to Treasury?
- Is the Government Investigating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
- Why Did Fannie Mae Attempt to Sell Low-Income Housing Tax Credits?
- What Is Happening to Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Affordable Housing Initiatives?
- Do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Have Any Programs to Help Mortgage Borrowers?
- Who Manages the GSEs?
- What Is Happening to Executive Compensation?
- What Risks Do Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Financial Problems Create for Homeowners and Those Planning to Become Homeowners?
- What Risks Do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Face in Today’s Economic Environment?
- What Is the Federal Government’s Potential Contribution?
- What Risks Do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Create for the U.S. Government?

Most people, even around here, assume that renewables are getting lots of research funding, but now as always, nukes and ffs get the lion's share.

Climate change isn’t over yet, so why are we cutting climate change jobs?

Yesterday’s announcement that one-third of jobs in the Department of Climate Change will be cut is yet another step back in the ALP’s half-hearted dance with climate change policy.

... The Labor government’s record on climate change is patchy at best. If the hot air that has come out of government on the subject over the past few years could be harnessed it could power Canberra for a year: a renewable energy powerhouse.

If the issue is so important, why undermine the very department that is running the programs? Surely the positions of people whose job is to ensure an environmentally sustainable future for Australia are as important as those who build cars?

The official reason given to staff in the Department for the spending cuts is that many programs are coming to their conclusion. It beggars belief that no further programs or initiatives are to be started on the “greatest moral challenge of our time”.

Is it as simple as my oft stated position that societies won't be able to afford to bail themselves out of the messes they've made?

We won't be able to afford to deal with thousands of tons of nuclear waste or plant decommissioning.

We won't be able to afford a major revamp of our transportation systems.

We won't be able to afford to mitigate (much less reverse) climate change.

We won't be able to afford to maintain and repair our complex infrastructure.

We won't be able to afford ongoing unfunded liabilities and social contracts.



Military/Imperial/Industrial/Political overhead...

Industrial agriculture to feed 7 billion+ humans...

Environmental/biosystem restoration...

We certainly can't do all of these things at once, which is what we're facing, especially as we realize declining resource availability. Seems like the Department of Climate Change may have seen the proverbial writing on the wall.

"The official reason given to staff in the Department for the spending cuts is that many programs are coming to their conclusion."

Yeah, so are a lot of other things :-0

Texas Tornadoes: Climate Change - and Climate Deniers - in the Lone Star State

... This week two seemingly unrelated but very connected events took place: In the first, freak tornadoes struck the Dallas area today with unexpected ferocity, causing many experts to revisit the issue of whether tornadoes should be included in the list of extreme weather caused by climate change.

In the second, the hard-hit area's Member of Congress bragged about cutting funds for - predicting storms and reducing their impact.

... last year ... House Republicans insisted on cutting funds for studying the climate, predicting violent storms, early storm warnings, and assistance in helping communities minimize damage and loss of life. They cut $140 billion from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Commission, the agency which monitors the climate and helps minimize damage and loss of life during storms, after trying to cut much more than that.

Last year's GOP budget also slashed more than $500 million from the budget for weather prediction satellites. And they tried to cut funding for FEMA, the agency that helps people get through disasters like these, by more than half the previous year's amount (which would have left FEMA with less than one-third of its 2010 budget).

This year's House budget includes more of the same.

After watching the tornadoes toss 18-wheelers around like matchsticks, one wonders when R's will stop singing "La La La" and uncover their ears...

I'm not hopeful. I tried to send a presentation on the effects of climate change, by a Republican climate scientist, designed for a Republican audience, to a connected Republican I happen to know, and he told me never to darken his inbox again.

The Australian government must be looking to Canada for inspiration. BTW, is the government also pushing for get tough on crime legislation, longer minimum sentences and building more jails at colossal cost? That's a big priority with our government even though many American states have come to the conclusion that it doesn't work and just pushes up costs.

The carbon tax starts July 1st and already the signs are not good. The federal govt has just paid a billion dollars in compensation to several brown coal fired power stations because it expects their bottom line or resale value will be affected by the tax. Maybe it will have no effect due to lack of alternatives (nuclear is prohibited in Australia) so they should have waited a while to see what happens.

The people who lost their jobs in the department are pen pushers. They will need many 'carbon cops' or inspectors to monitor compliance. In theory a power plant or cement works that didn't pay enough carbon tax could be shut down. I doubt that will happen. Even people like myself who support the idea of CO2 penalties are becoming dismayed at the government's inconsistent approach. For example coal and LNG exports get every encouragement yet they will go to places like China with no CO2 restraint. You have to wonder what is the point of a domestic carbon tax.

They are pushing to get into surplus. They aren't going to get there via growth, and pushing up personal taxes is a non-starter, so they are going to go the austerity route.

They need surplus by the next election.

All Hope 'Annihilated,' Retiree Kills Himself Outside Greek Parliament

A retired Greek pharmacist shot himself dead outside Greece's parliament Wednesday, saying he refused to scrounge for food in the garbage, touching a nerve among ordinary Greeks feeling the brunt of the country's economic crisis.

The government had "annihilated any hope for my survival and I could not get any justice. I cannot find any other form of struggle except a dignified end before I have to start scrounging for food from the trash," the note said.

In his note, Christoulas compared the current government in Greece to the administration that collaborated with the Nazi occupation during World War II, ekathimerini.com added.

... Acts of suicide have been instrumental in the past in provoking popular protest. A Tunisian vegetable seller triggered the start of the so-called "Arab Spring" by setting himself on fire in December 2010.

Greek unrest after pensioner suicide beside parliament

Protesters have clashed with riot police in the Greek capital, Athens, hours after a pensioner shot himself dead outside parliament.

also Despairing Greek leftist makes final stand

"I cannot find any other form of struggle except a dignified end before I have to start scrounging for food from the rubbish," he wrote, adding that one day young Greeks would take up arms and hang the national traitors upside down in Syntagma Square.

Quote from Dimitris Christoulas suicide note.

Hope springs eternal Mr. Christoulas.

Greece is having an election VERY soon, and the current ruling party is basically guaranteed to be washed out. The only problem is that the Greek left is pretty fragmented, so from what I've read no one party is likely to really dominate. Instead there will probably be a bunch of leftist parties getting 15% of the vote, with a fascist party and maybe some others thrown in for spice.

Still, I'm pretty confident that all of them agree that the current "masters" need to be taken down. I expect the EU appointed poverty-pushers to go into exile very quickly. If not, it will only get messier. Perhaps they WILL get hanged in the street; it's happened before and can happen again. When people are eating from the garbage, they aren't very forgiving of the elites. "Let them eat cake" (which probably was never said) when the masses had trouble getting bread led to the French monarchy being put to death.

Meet Bahrain’s Best Friend in Congress

Last year, as the government of Bahrain violently suppressed an Arab Spring protest movement, an unlikely champion of the small Gulf nation emerged on Capitol Hill in Washington: Democratic Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from American Samoa.

... In March 2011, just weeks into the crisis, Faleomavaega emerged seemingly out of nowhere — he has no history of commenting on Middle East affairs — to enter a 2,500-word statement [5] into the Congressional Record that closely echoed the Bahraini government's spin. "Bahrain is under attack," he said, painting protesters as violent, Iran-backed vandals representing "the worst kind of seditious infiltration from a foreign enemy." He praised the Crown Prince for supposedly meeting protesters' demands for democratic reforms.

"Mr. Speaker," Faleomavaega said. "I have to ask why the demonstrators returned to protesting again, even after all their demands were agreed to."

Just days before, the government had torn down [6] the iconic Pearl Monument at the center of the protests, and Saudi Arabian tanks had rolled into Bahrain to back the government crackdown.

US army orders drug review after Afghan massacre

WHY US soldier Robert Bales killed 16 Afghan civilians last month remains a mystery, but his actions have revived a dispute over the use by US forces of an antimalarial drug that can cause psychiatric side effects.

On 20 March - three days after the massacre - the army expedited a review of whether mefloquine was being prescribed properly. In tests the drug caused psychiatric symptoms in nearly a third of cases, sometimes including depression and psychosis.

Oil pipeline near Heglig hit by Sudan jets

An oil pipeline on the South Sudan-Sudan border has come under attack by fighter jets and Antonov aircraft, belonging to the Sudanese government.

Heglig is situated within the Muglad Basin, a rift basin which contains much of Sudan's proven oil reserves.

Analysis: Shale oil: from curse to cure for East Coast refiners?

... While it appears too late to spare Marcus Hook, which has been shuttered since December, evidence of new buying interest has emerged this week for two other major plants, potentially saving the Northeast region from a summer fuel squeeze that had unnerved politicians all the way to the White House.

... [a] diet of cheaper, domestic crude would help the Philadelphia plant wean itself away from the Angolan, Azeri, Nigerian and Norwegian oil that is now its mainstay -- and which costs some $20 a barrel more than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate and $35-plus more than North Dakota's Bakken crude, according to Reuters data.

also With Gas Prices High, U.S. Refinery Closures Hit Workers and Drivers

Zero mention of transport costs in the Reuters item, which renders it a complete wasted effort, and certainly cannot be termed "analysis."

Zero mention of transport costs in the Reuters item, which renders it a complete wasted effort, and certainly cannot be termed "analysis."

Huge volumes of oil are already transported via rail from North Dakota to places as far away as Cushing, the Gulf Coast, and most recently, Washington state. Getting oil from Ohio's Utica shale to refineries near Philly and elsewhere along the east coast is a piece of cake compared to that.

And shipping Eagleford oil from Corpus Christi to the east coast cannot possibly be more expensive than shipping it from Angola, Nigeria or Norway!!

Once a few pipelines are built and some logistics arranged, all the extra oil clogging up the middle of the US is going to find its way to the east and west coasts ... which will reduce US dependence on Brent priced oil.

a-c: You make some valid points but need a bit of refinement. “And shipping Eagleford oil from Corpus Christi to the east coast cannot possibly be more expensive than shipping it from Angola, Nigeria or Norway!!”. That’s correct IMHO but it’s a lot more expensive then shipping it to S. Lousiana. Right now I’m shipping my SE Texas oil by barge to La. and getting paid essentially Brent for Light La. Sweet. I would be just as pleased to ship it to the east coast if the buyer paid for the extra transport. Yet no one has offered. In fact, it might increase my revenue if it did happen: the Gulf Coast refiners might increase their posted prices if they had to compete.

But in general I agree with you: as oil prices increase and there are economic avenues to move oil from X to Y it will happen. But pipelines are expensive and take years to build. Anyone making those $billion investments needs confidence it the economics holding for at least 10 years IMHO. And a major factor to those economics is the long term capacity of the oil source. In the case of the Eagle Ford it will continue to be developed as long as prices stay high and the public companies have no better opportunities. The EF boom has been no surprise to me: I drilled and frac’d my first EF well over 25 years ago (mediocre economic results). All that was needed to spur drilling in such plays was higher prices. But there are a finite number of drill site in the EF. Add that to the high decline rates and I won’t be surprised to see a lack of investments to move that oil out of the Gulf Coast. Same goes for the Deep Water GOM fields IMHO.

The US will remain dependent on Brent priced oil as long as demand for LLS pushes those prices to Brent levels. In fact, I can envision LLS selling a bit above Brent as we go forward. At least I hope it will.

The most recent issue of TRAINS magazine contains an article describing the logistics behind the increased amount of crude oil shipped by rail from North Dakota. You likely have to purchase the magazine to access the article, but here's a link to the website anyway:


Which reminds me that I've long wanted to read John McPhee's account of the Powder River coal trains from the New Yorker several years back. But w/out a subscription, no go. Anyone have a link? Seems after this much time, it must be out there somewhere...

Thx Ghung!

Gotta love the Drum...

I have said before if the Keystone pipeline had gone to the East Coast, those refiners may not have closed. They were stuck with buying expensive crude.

If the oil in the north-central part of N. America had an easy way to get out to the coasts, it wouldn't be selling at much of a discount relative to Brent. Catch 22.

But it will add to global supplies, and should in theory reduce pressure on global prices.

As if at the moment the oil "produced" in those areas does not get burnt?

Refinery Gets a Look From Delta, Perplexing Analysts

... the airlines have set up elaborate hedging strategies to try to control their fuel bills. But these hedges can sometimes backfire if crude oil prices rise or fall in unexpected ways. Delta said that its fuel bill last year was $3 billion higher than in 2010 as oil prices rebounded from their postrecession lows.

But if the airline business can be unpredictable, the refining industry has been equally troubled. Except for a brief period from 2004 to 2008, refining has been an unprofitable business, which explains why no new refinery has been built in the United States in decades.

also COLUMN-A refinery: a terrible oil price hedge-Campbell

... Leaving aside the thorny questions about Delta management's ability to efficiently manage a business they've never before been in and one that has cost previous owners tens of millions
of dollars in losses, the transaction itself seems wrong-headed.
For one thing an oil refinery, much like an airline, is structurally short oil prices. Buying a refinery will actually increase Delta's oil price exposure.

related Getting to Market: Detours on the Road to Oil Abundance

North America's emerging oil shale abundance can fundamentally alter the US's energy landscape, but experts say the road ahead may have a lot of detours.

The issues start with how much new supply can get to market.

see also http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9098#comment-885481

U.S. oil output revised up, going back at least a year

Crude oil production in the United States has been as much as 228,000 barrels per day higher over at least the past year than previously thought, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

The EIA said it had revised its crude oil production estimates higher in its monthly reports after reviewing recent data. Weekly production figures released on Wednesday showed a huge output jump of 228,000 bpd to 6.049 million bpd.

"It's not a week-on-week change but comes after we restated our estimates in the monthly report," said Jim Beck, an analyst at the EIA.

"There has been a watershed change in crude production domestically, driven by oil shale."

November and December figures are both now showing over 5.9 million bpd, and January is almost 6.1 million bpd. I'd be more than happy to go back into TOD archives to find several instances of folks here scoffing at the notion that it would even rise to, like, 5.5 million bpd, per EIA projections from ~4 years ago.

Have at it. Who are we to stand in the way of something that would make you 'more than happy'?

Oh, and what price did EIA think it would take to bring forth the 5.5 million bpd?

Well I guess that explains much of the constant crude stocks upwards adjustments that started about the beginning of last year, to balance stock totals in the weekly report. Doesn't explain the constant upwards adjustments to "products" though. One possibility for these gasoline upwards adjustments would be if E10 in the USA in the last year has actually been more like E11 or E12, Anyone know how extensively this is tested?

There's no way to view this news as anything but a nice surprise. But, AC, if it just gets refined for export, what good is it doing us here in the U.S.? Isn't the bigger problem that we are being outbid in the world market? After all, the U.S. is now a net exporter of refined products -- those exports aren't bringing the price I pay down any.

That is actually a really good point. The WTI crack spreads show that US consumers are fully exposed to global crude oil prices (Mid-Continent refiners are paying WTI prices for crude, but charging Brent based prices for refined product), and the US, as you noted, is already a net exporter of refined product. Here is a chart for the normalized oil consumption for China, India, the Top 33 Net Oil Exporters and the US from 2002 to 2010:


I've put it this way, what is more important to the average American consumer, an increase in US crude oil production or the fact that global annual crude oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011? It seems to me that unless and until the decline in the net exports is reversed, or until global demand declines, US consumers are looking at higher oil prices.

Of course, two benefits of higher US crude oil production would be that the owners (who may or may not be US residents) of the US production would be getting increased revenue, and more people would be employed in the US.

It seems odd to cheer about the fact that the U.S. is accelerating it's extraction of the last good bits of its energy inheritance...only to have it sold to the rest of the world. Personally, I would rather see a national policy that saved more if it for my son, nephews and nieces -- even if it meant paying a higher price today.

Of course, if one believes that oil is truly abundant, I guess there's no reason to worry.

This was dawning on me a few years back due to hanging around hereabouts.

Chindia, "hey what's our oil doing under your Rocky Mountains, your OCS and in those Canadian tar sands" That's ELM 2.0 with a bullet.


Yes, oddly it's being cheered now as a great American drive for energy independence. Spin for a day. I think what is mainly holding back the floodgates now is that income on a parity basis between the US and the countries in question is in the neighborhood of 10 to 1. At the same time ,imo, it can be argued that Chindian 'optimization' of that use is also about 10 times more efficient/constrained.

Give a nod to the past policies and economic hardship that made this possible and it's plain that ,even with the physical, economic and cultural liabilities of bloated sprawl, interstate trucking and long freeway commutes, the US has a lot of belt tightening which can be done before we are facing the same music that ,India ,for instance, is facing today.

That is IF 'we' don't insist on BAU and growth at the point of a spear, continuing to borrow against our children's children's children's inheritance and making a more permaculture style food supply difficult to recover. /sarc

Btw still near 60% of crude is still coming from somewhere else and the US is running $1.4 trillion in debt, and more than 1/2 trillion$ in trade deficit every year ,in part, to get that done. Indeed 'we' are being outbid for our 'own' oil and w/o the borrowing, probably it would be considerably worse. When that happens we could look to even 'better' export numbers.

I'm just wondering how things will play out when the Chinadians decide to ship all of their oil west in ~20 years :-/

Ghung, for sure. This reminds me of the early years of our marriage. I occassionally peeked into our bank account where I found a good 'supply' of funds.

Upon suggesting to my wife I might siphon some off for my own consumption, she would say,
"think of that as a pipeline where the money is flowing past to somewhere else, you cannot just go sticking your fingers in there" ;-/

We won't even refrain from ringing up trillions of dollars in debt for our kids to deal with. No way in hell we would refrain from burning their oil. We'd be selling the organs out of their bodies before they were born if we could.

Makes one wonder how accurate the current weekly/monthly numbers are if they are correcting production data for over a year ago. And of course, to cite just two examples, the EIA is showing much higher production for 2010 for Texas and Saudi Arabia versus what the Texas Railroad Commission and BP respectively show.

And incidentally, if the EIA has this much trouble getting the US numbers right, it makes one wonder about how accurate the global numbers are.

But in any case, are you asserting that the "solution" to our energy problems is to increase our rate of consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base?

But in any case, are you asserting that the "solution" to our energy problems is to increase our rate of consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base?

This is a telling remark from someone who claims to work in the oil biz.

At any rate, who says we're increasing our rate of consumption of oil? We're not - we're producing more.

EDIT: BTW, regarding those net exports, it's funny that people who spend so much of their time here complaining about a decline in world net oil/product exports are complaining about a nation which is actually increasing its net exports.

That said, it's helpful to look at the size of those net product exports in relation to total product produced or consumed.

Please tell us, a/c, how one goes about producing more oil. For if we can indeed do that, PO is no problemo.

Please tell us, a/c, how one goes about producing more oil. For if we can indeed do that, PO is no problemo.

Oh you're so clever. Obviously I meant drilling it from the ground.

Yair . . . a/c

Obviously I meant drilling it from the ground.

Really? Is that actualy oil patch lingo?


It's common US English.

Most things that people "produce" are merely moved from one place to another with slight modification.

Nobody produces anything in the Saganesque sense "To make an apple pie from scratch, first you need to create the universe..."

No, it's a bizarre mis-use of this otherwise completely understandable word.

It's all semantics. Arguing about semantics is always a pointless exercise, and everybody knows what "produce oil" means in the oil industry context. If you have to argue, why not move on to a more relevant topic like arguing about what "oil" is? That is actually a considerable source of confusion in the media these days.

Indeed, the slipperiness (oiliness?) of words is perhaps our ultimate downfall. It allows us to talk ourselves into anything.

Like most government high level stats, they verge on WAG.

And its useful to note, it's an election year...

Ach, decided to answer my own question while you're digging about...


In 2007, EIA projected that imported crude would average $51.71/bbl in 2012 (2005 dollars), marking a fifth straight year of real price decline. In hindsight, that prediction seems quite bold, and maybe a little off the mark. GDP IPD between 2005 and today is ~1.14, so in today's dollars, EIA thought imported oil would perhaps cost $59/bbl.

So yeah, it would not surprise me that folks on TOD in 2008 would scoff at the notion that declining real prices would bring forth 5.5-6 million bpd of domestic production.

Indeed, the EIA can be quite wrong.

Take, for example, this forecast from as recently as two years ago.

According to the EIA, US crude oil production was supposed to take until sometime after 2015 to reach 6 million barrels/day. Today we learned it occurred less than two years after their prediction!

So much for predictions.

It appears that EIA had very aggressive (in hindsight) projections for deepwater production, which they then pulled back on in the wake of Macondo. I haven't checked, but they probably have inched up deepwater and are adding a dollop for tight oil. So their optimistic predictions on production from a few years back were not far off the mark, but for reasons they didn't anticipate.

The high, low and reference projected and actual world oil prices from the actual 2010 EIA Annual Energy Outlook that contained the above graph. A combination of the world reference price (for imports) and US domestic price is used used in the AEO model to generate the above graph.

Year       Ref    High    Low
2008    101.45             
2009     59.21   59.21   59.21
2010     70.30   70.30   70.30
2011     73.06   83.89   57.54
2012     79.41	100.40	 54.88

In the 2010 report the reference case the average annual world price was not projected to reach $100 a barrel until 2017. The actual price for all blends of crude oil was $75.87.

In the preliminary 2012 report EIA notes that world average crude oil prices (all grades) was $75.87 for 2010 and ranged between $85 and $110 for 2011 (a final average is not yet calculated).

So, oil prices significantly exceed EIAs' 2010 report estimates and, surprise, surprise, US production manages to beat EIA projections.

What's the net energy increase (or decrease)?

CO2 'drove end to last ice age'

A new, detailed record of past climate change provides compelling evidence that the last ice age was ended by a rise in temperature driven by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

... The key result from the new study is that it shows the carbon dioxide rise during this major transition ran slightly ahead of increases in global temperature.

Living in a Nuclear Hell

... The Geiger counter readings we took by the river showed radiation levels 50 times higher than the level experts say is safe for humans. But fishermen still come here. In the summer children still swim.

Most people in the village know the dangers but seem resigned to their fate. They don't have the money to move to a safer place. Many others seem ignorant of the risks.

Symptoms of chronic radiation sickness include recurrent infections, swellings, anemia, unhealed wounds, hair loss and bruises. Long term exposure to high rates of radiation causes birth defects and cancer.

Locals call it the "river sickness".

A bit more from around your selection..

Most of the children in this area suffer some form or other of radiation related illness.


The boy in our report with the growth on his neck is 17 years old.

He has eight brothers and sisters. They all suffer from radiation related illness.

His mother says she took him to the local doctor to get his neck checked.

She says the doctor told her the lump would disappear. She says her son was never even offered a biopsy.

This, in a place where people have died of cancer for decades. An area that has some of the highest levels of radiation pollution in the world.

I little lamb's blood on the door should fix it :-0

The location is the town of Muslymovo, Russia, on the banks of the Techa river, near the border with Kazakhstan, which was contaminated from the Mayak nuclear plant.

This is one of the bleakest articles yet, esp the feelings of the villagers being human guinea pigs,

"Residents don't know why they were never moved.

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer."

Maybe I've read too many Martin Cruz Smith novels, "Wolves Eat Dogs" comes immediately to mind, but that despair and resignation seems evident over the FSU. There's a comment on the oil shale post by cicerone that describes similar environmental and cultural degradation in Estonia, Latvia...coming soon to a theater near you.

Leaving aside for now the combination of malevolence and incompetence that created this situation in the first place, why don’t these people just pick up and go someplace else? They apparently know they are more or less doomed just staying there in a highly toxic environment. I don’t think I would personally wait for the government to “move” me as long as I had two legs or at least someone I could pay to carry me out. Just sayin’…

Looks like someone over at the economist has been listening to westexas! Shame they don't give a nod to ELM or ANE, but I suppose it's public domain at this point...

Economist.com: "Keeping it to themselves"


Mark Lewis was interviewed for this article, and he arrived at similar conclusions about "Net Export Math," independent of any work we did. As they say, it's not rocket science. You just have to extrapolate a couple of exponential functions, and do some subtraction. The mystery is why it's not the #1 story in the world.

From the article:

Saudi Arabia is trying to develop nuclear and solar energy. But its fleet of oil-fired power stations will keep going for years. And as Mark Lewis of Deutsche Bank points out, two more big ones are now being built. On current trends the kingdom would become a net importer of oil by 2038 (unlikely though that is).

The mystery is why it's not the #1 story in the world.

Bad news that effects everyone and the finger of blame points back at the reader and the power structure the reader lives in is not going to get press.

I don't Facebook (is that a proper verb?) or Twitter (Tweet?), but for those who do:

Can Facebook Help Good Energy Habits Go Viral?

People spend a lot of time on Facebook -- comparing interests, sharing photos, stalking old high school crushes. Now they can also start seeing how their energy use stacks up against their friends' habits.

The Social Energy App, which launched yesterday, is a partnership between Facebook, the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth), and Opower, a software company that helps customers connect with utilities. With Social Energy, Facebookers can easily track how many kilowatt-hours they consume each month and broadcast their numbers alongside photo albums, status updates, and wall posts. With a mix of peer pressure, competition, and positive reinforcement, Social Energy encourages users to lower their electricity consumption –- and then brag about it.

See: http://www.onearth.org/blog/can-facebook-make-good-energy-habits-go-viral

On a more personal note... I received our latest power bill moments ago and I don't normally rip these envelopes open with wild abandon but this time is different. Today, I have official confirmation that our total energy usage has fallen below 10,000 kWh per annum which is a major milestone in our quest to make our home more energy efficient. We're billed bi-monthly and the six most recent billing statements span 368 days in all, and during this time we used a combined total of 9,875 kWh or an average of 26.8 kWh per day; on an annualized basis, that's 9,794 kWh for space heating and cooling, domestic hot water, cooking, major appliances and all plug loads including those of my home office [42.2 kWh per m2 inclusive].

There's the natural temptation to reset the bar to 9,000 kWh/year (an average of 750 kWh per month), but eliminating those additional 800 or so kWh will likely require more sacrifice/effort than I'm willing to afford.


Well done, Paul!

Let yourself appreciate a real accomplishment for at least a day before you start getting too concerned about the next step, OK?

Well, at least I got my Dad to live within a 5-minute walk, so that's a bunch of gallons averted. (He used to be a 3-hour drive from us..) Still, I'm eager to get one of the vehicles replaced (ie, Non-fuel alternative) altogether.


Thanks, Bob. We kicked things off in 2002 at just over 75,000 kWh per annum (electricity and fuel oil), so we're down 87 per cent to date. I feel compelled to push on, but keen interest is one thing and an unhealthy obsession another, and I'm starting to worry that I'm crossing that line a little too often (countered by my other fear that I'll never catch up to you!).

I'm glad to hear that your Dad is now close by. My father lived in northern Wales and my single biggest regret is that I wasn't able to spend more time with him whist he was still alive.


VERY well done !

7/8ths reduction !

About how much does this save per year and how much did it cost you (other than thinking about it) ?

What viable steps are available to do, other than new technology (L-Prize bulbs, more efficient computers with solid state drives, higher COP heat pumps) ?

Have you considered an article in the local paper ?

Best Hopes :-)))


Thanks, Alan. This home was seriously deficient in many respects -- just 5 cm of fibreglass insulation in the attic and walls, an inefficient oil-fired boiler and oil-fired water heater, single pane glass (some windows were fitted with wooden storms but others were not) and major air leakage compounded by the fact that we're directly exposed to gale force winds that come up the harbour (you could crank the heat all the way up and still feel uncomfortable due to the relentless drafts).

To recap, we gutted the entire house to the bare walls, caulked and sealed to the best of our abilities and re-insulated (R60 attic/R22 walls); replaced windows and doors with new low-e/argon units (Pella Architectural series); installed a new boiler, indirect water heater, Tekmar control system, and a heat recovery and ventilation system; all new high efficiency appliances; induction cooking; LED lighting throughout; and, of course, the two ductless heat pumps that supply just about all of our space heating needs. With regards to electronic hardware, our ThinkPads consume 20 to 25-watts each and my Playbook which has effectively replaced our television set and taken over most of my casual computing is just 3-watts.

The one appliance that continues to frustrate me is our dehumidifier. Although Energy Star rated, it draws a full 550-watts when in use and basically runs twelve or more hours each day, five months of the year. I need to experiment with this further, but one option during the spring and fall might be to leave the heat turned up on the basement level (higher temperatures = lower relative humidity). On mild days, I can maintain a constant 20/21°C whilst pulling something in the range of 250-watts, so if I can keep the relative humidity in check this way, then there's the potential to trim some 300-watts. During the summer, I can run the heat pump in "dry" mode to remove excess humidity without over cooling, and periodically switch back to heat whenever temperatures fall too low. This will demand a more active, hands-on approach, but it could conceivably shave two to three kWh per day whenever the dehumidifier would be otherwise in use.

Dollar-wise, we currently pay $1.168 per litre for fuel oil, so 5,700 litres works out to be a savings of some $6,658.00 per year before taxes; eliminating another 4,700 kWh of electricity at 13.923-cents per kWh represents a further savings of $654.00. Taken together, that's just over $7,300.00 a year or more than $600 a month, and this amount will surely grow as energy costs continue to escalate higher with the passing of time.

No plans to share this information publicly beyond this group -- I'm afraid I don't have the time to properly analyse and present this data (here it is 03h00 local time and I still have two more proposals to complete before calling it a night).


Down here in VA that would put you about 20% below the average of about 1000kWh/mo, or 33/day. Yours is mostly hydro, correct? Down here where ours is coal/nuclear, we're doing all we can to minimize. We're now consistently under 3kWh/day, or 80/mo, 960/yr. We do use other fuels. Sorry, I'm too lazy ATM to do BTU/kWh conversions, but we burn a cord of wood per year for heat, and as our solar retrofit of the house continues, that will shrink. We use well less than 100 gal of propane/yr for cooking and as back-up to our solar hot water. That's it. We do have computers, fridge, freezer, microwave, TV (rarely used), stereo, washer, but no dryer - clothesline suffices. I sometimes have trouble grokking what it is that other North Americans consume all that household energy doing - not you, as given that you're all-electric you're doing pretty well. But a great many households use as much electricity as you do (or more), and they burn a substantial amount of propane, oil, or NG to boot. Our goal is to slice ours - electric, wood and propane - about in half again. We've done most of the easy stuff, but reaching that goal won't be too difficult - more thermal mass, some further solar and insulation improvements, and a bit of additional behaviour adjustments.

As it turns out, we source all of our electricity through Bullfrog Power which is 100 per cent wind and low-impact hydro (http://www.bullfrogpower.com/). Our home is a 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod built in 1968 and our winters are colder than those of Buffalo, NY, so space heating dwarfs everything else. Our initial goal had been to minimize our oil use to the greatest extent possible or eliminate it altogether, and we've pretty much accomplished that by switching to electricity (a savings of some 5,700 litres/1,500 gallons per annum).


Free Apps Drain Smartphone Energy on 'Advertising Modules'

... "It turns out the free apps aren't really free because they contain the hidden cost of reduced battery life," ... New findings show that 65 percent to 75 percent of the energy used to run free apps is spent for advertising-related functions. The modules perform marketing functions such as sharing user information and downloading ads.

"We believe it is mainly to provide information about the user's geographical location so the ads can be more targeted or customized to that location," Hu said.

Battery drain in smartphones has emerged as a fundamental problem.

For Android you root, install an adblocker, and look at something like PDroid for enforcing control of permissions (no longer do you just 'accept', you can now define what you will provide, and whether fake data is provided instead). Not idiot friendly, but possible for those in the know.

For iphone you have little to no control, which is just how apple likes it.

If I had a smartphone (I don't) I'd be annoyed with reduced battery life, and would try to prevent that. But, as an outsider to that world, I am bemused at how many smartphone owners fret over the energy use of the thing, and look for ways to recharge it with renewable (or salvaged) energy - from solar panels, ambient EMF, jiggling bras, whatever. All the while being completely blind to their other energy uses which are hundreds of times larger. E.g., if you have any lighting in the room where you use your iToy, that alone is using many times the power. Let alone the fuel use of the cars inside of which some text while they drive.

....not to mention the fuel used by the amubulance and cremation facility after they 'stop' texting.

The April 5 comic is apropo at http://www.dilbert.com/

Fracking Bidders Top Farmers at Water Auction

DENVER—Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers.
At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers.

"Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and stream flows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever," Wockner said. "Any transfer of water from rivers and farms to drilling and fracking will negatively impact Colorado's environment and wildlife."

Nature Bombshell: ‘Past Extreme Warming Events Linked To Massive Carbon Release From Thawing Permafrost’


Between about 55.5 and 52 million years ago, Earth experienced a series of sudden and extreme global warming events (hyperthermals) superimposed on a long-term warming trend. The first and largest of these events, the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is characterized by a massive input of carbon, ocean acidification and an increase in global temperature of about 5 °C [9°F] within a few thousand years...

...implications of the study appear dire for the long-term future as polar permafrost carbon deposits have begun to thaw due to burning fossil-fuels, DeConto adds. “Similar dynamics are at play today. Global warming is degrading permafrost in the north polar regions, thawing frozen organic matter, which will decay to release CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This will only exacerbate future warming in a positive feedback loop.”...

This massive carbon reservoir at the poles “had the potential to repeatedly release thousands of petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere-ocean system once a long-term warming threshold was reached ...

Further, if the analysis is correct and past extreme warm events can be attributed to permafrost loss, it implies that thawing of permafrost in similar environments observed today “will provide a substantial positive feedback to future warming.”


A 2010 study found our oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.

From that article:

“The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments,” DeConto says. “We are instead ascribing the carbon source to the continents, in polar latitudes where permafrost can store massive amounts of carbon that can be released as CO2 when the permafrost thaws.”

That idea the carbon would need to be released from the ocean floors to cause a PETM always seemed odd to me from the standpoint of just how much warming would need to take place to initiate that kind of major CO2 release. Makes much more sense that it occurred from permafrost.

As no one else has noted:

"In small clumsy letters he wrote: April 4th, 1984."
"His pen had slid voluptuously over the smooth paper, printing in large neat capitals -
over and over again, filling half a page."

Is that a real billboard photo or a Photoshop edit of a billboard photo?

Worst "solar billboards" I've seen were along highways well outside of Las Vegas a few years back: advertising new exurban "housing", but lit at night via large solar panels (and large batteries presumably).

To convince people, come at them from different angles

Variety is not only the spice of life. It's also the key to persuasion, according to research at Cornell.

An analysis of the behavior of millions of Facebook users has found that whether users joined and became "engaged" with the social network did not depend on how many members they knew, but on how many different social contexts the people they knew represented. The results have potential implications for recruitment to political causes, marketing and the promotion of health practices, the researchers said.

Something about a balanced view of life :-)

"Why Obama shouldn't tap U.S. oil reserves"

He shouldn't, but he will. I predict that he will do what Clinton did, and tap them in September in an effort to drop prices just before the election. Unless of course prices are already in free fall at that time.

Robert - If prices were dropping that may be the best reason to have a release IMHO. It would be identical to the circumstance of the 2011 release. After that SPR summer release oil prices dropped for the remainer of the year. And thanks to the lack of explanation by the MSM the public thought it was due to the release. First, they didn’t understand that the SPR oil can’t be sold (by congressional law) for below market price. The SPR release sold at LLS/Brent prices at the time. Second, oil prices had already begun to fall long before the release. The drop in prices matched the rate of decease before the release.

The worse political outcome for the president would be to release the SPR oil with the promise of cheaper gasoline and not see prices fall. Besides the fact that oil would be sold at current pricing, the KSA has already announced they would not lower their price in an effort to retain that 1.5% of the market share they would lose for 30 days. Not much of a sacrifice on their part IMHO. Imagine a summer release followed by a fall increase in oil prices right before the election. Can’t think of a greater gift the president could give to the Republican party. One would like to think the president’s advisors are smart enough to understand this. IMHO it’s President Obama’s race to lose now. An SPR release followed by no price reduction (let alone an increase) could do just that.

About the call to French presidential candidates "mobilizing society in the face of peak oil" published March 22 in leMonde.fr and signed by :

Pierre René Bauquis - Former Director of Strategy and Planning at Total
Jean-Marie Bourdaire - Former Director of Economic Studies at Total, former Director of Studies at World Energy Council (WEC)
Yves Cochet - European Deputy, former Environment Minister.
Jean-Marc Jancovici – Consultant, energy and CO2 issues, ASPO France
Jean Laherrère - Former Chief of Exploration Technologies at Total, ASPO founder
Yves Mathieu - Former Hydrocarbon Reserves Project Manager at the Institut Francais du Petrole (French Petroleum Institute)

In English :

Please do not hesitate to sign and forward.
(any language welcomed for the message, 2230 signatures at that point)

Yves - Merci beaucoup. Always interesting to see a non-US perspective.

RM, thanks, please do not hesitate to sign, quite a few signatures from the US and other countries already :
(will add some filtering options soon to browse the sigs, by country, city, etc)

Note : this has in fact been initiated by a small group, the idea being to have the text signed by "rekown experts", and using the elections as an occasion to bring the subject on the table, but the objective is as much information towards the general public as anything else.


Yves - You're welcome. Too bad such efforts would seem foolish to most in the US. Not sure how life is in French society but our masses are so enfluenced by the media and the political parties that any other sources of information are generally ignored.

Glad you up at this hour. I'm in west Africa at the moment so most of my fellow citizens are still asleep.

RM, in France in these elections (and as usual more or less), when there is an energy debate, it is in general focused on nuclear (pro or not), in particular the green party "platform" is (and has been for a long time) against nuclear, so it made kind of a deal with the PS regarding closing some plants (quite fuzzy deal). But on the other hand we never had much fossile fuel (coal mining is stopped, almost no gas, ridiculous amount of oil), and a lot of people remember the first oil shock, after which the communication (on tv and such) was quite strong regarding energy and conservation, so there is clearly some "background understanding" and sensibility to the problem, and also really no way for politicians to say "we can drill our way out of this" (except a bit with shale gas and oil these days, but not like in the US for sure), and in fact there are now quite a bit of "messages" in the media regarding oil, and saying that having the energy debate focused on nuclear is really avoiding the key issue, so maybe a way to bring it more mainstream, we will see.
(but then of course having the info mainstream doesn't bring "solutions" together with it either..).


As a La Nouvelle-Orléans citizen, it appears that France is doing a lot to prepare for Peak Oil.

- 1,500 km of new trams in many smaller towns this decade.
- Urban growth boundaries to limit sprawl
- 200 km of new Paris Metro (with 2 million new riders/day) from 2013 to 2025.
- Much more emphasis on bicycling, including velib. Paris is up from 1% urban trips by bike in 2000 to 6% in 2010, and going higher.
- Much quicker expansion of TGV than in the last three decades. Often work on three lines at one time.
- Chirac, in 2006 New Year's Day speech, called for "electrifying every meter of SNCF and burning not one drop of oil" in twenty years.

Meilleurs espoirs pour la France !


The Mayor of Toulon stopped building a tram after the land had been acquired and bids for construction put out.

A petition to reverse that, if you would like to sign.


Meilleurs espoirs pour la Toulon Tram,


it appears that France is doing a lot to prepare for Peak Oil.

Would help if France is an island. It depends however on the state of the economy of the rest of the world. Instead of throwing all that money to metro's and TGV's they might better use it to fortify their dikes.


Some positive points for sure, but overall the sprawl for instance is in fact quite high in France (the hypermarket model somehow partly started there and now plenty of huge "commercial zones"), the TGV also means a lot of regional lines stopped, and the issue so big anyway, we will see !


No plan is perfect, and the French are likely not preparing fast enough for the developing post-Peak Oil crisis - *BUT* it is better to be heading in the generally right direction, a bit too slowly, than to be stuck in the mud and fighting for control as we Americans are doing.

France can make adjustments, change direction slightly and speed up an already aggressive schedule. (Can France, 1/4.75th the size of the USA, build more than 135 km of new tram lines and 17 km of Metro each year ?)

As for your hypermarket commercial areas, either build trams to them or abandon them.

France will suffer post-Peak Oil, that is for sure. But they will have an alternative and see a way to a new very low oil future.

Meilleurs espoirs pour la France !


Petro Lust and Peak Detroit product- With the right tires, One of the few muscle car that could go around a corner with your foot in it. The 350 better range than the 455. Filler up, Foot in it, 130 miles later, Tankup again. New under $5000, Now Yours for 85K plus sales tax. Priceless.

Peak American cars 1972 as well as Lower 48 Climax? GM's 1973 cars were so horrible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEPxc3RW4js
T H E most important metric is miles/km per tank, Aux tank in trunk of a MB 123 series 240/300D would go 1000+ miles. Where is a 3 or 4 cylinder diesel pickup for the working man? No Radio, No Power windows, 1.0-1.6 Liter, 7 speed manual. want it, want it now. Have house to swap.

Well, this is cheerful...

Next Great Depression? MIT researchers predict ‘global economic collapse’ by 2030

A new study from researchers at Jay W. Forrester's institute at MIT says that the world could suffer from "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace.

Smithsonian Magazine writes that Australian physicist Graham Turner says "the world is on track for disaster" and that current evidence coincides with a famous, and in some quarters, infamous, academic report from 1972 entitled, "The Limits to Growth."

2030? I would actually consider that 'cheerful' unless we have some sort of major recovery between now and then. It'll be more gradual than some here expect; give society time to adjust, almost a generation of re-normalization. I'm not keeping my fingers crossed... just don't see us muddling through that long.

From the article: "However, the study said "unlimited economic growth" is still possible if world governments enact policies and invest in green technologies that help limit the expansion of our ecological footprint."

There's the rub; it isn't, and they won't. Just the idea that "unlimited economic growth" is possible, and that we only need to "limit the expansion of our ecological footprint" will doom us. We must deal with the reality of overshoot.

Well, here's a slightly cheerful note. My two young grandsons visited over the weekend. Of course they and their parents blew my entire energy budget for the month in a couple of days, but that's not the cheerful part. Both of the kids are super-mathematical, so they understood right away all the projections of the Limits to Growth. I then asked them what they were gonna do about it. They gave the right answer- we are going to think about it. And I know they will. They did NOT say " we aren't going to get anywhere near all that gloomy stuff". That is the cheerful note, if you can call it that.

My own hope is we have what I used to call the half-a-tail lesson- the new puppy would run out after a car and get half his tail cut off. He would then no longer chase cars and thus survive. Otherwise, he would not get hurt the first time, and then get squisshed the next one.

So I am thinking a really huge heat wave/power failure in Las Vegas or some such place, killing maybe half a million middle class white people in their SUV's, would do for the half-a-tail job, and the rest of us would start to think about it.

Freeze Watches & Warnings in Effect

Much of the upper Midwest Great Lakes area is under a freeze watch/freeze warning for tonight, and Saturday night. Wisconsin cranberry growers , amongst others, are concerned for crops way ahead of schedule.

EDIT : I have half-inch apricots on my tree - a freeze would not be good. The peaches and cherries are just at fruit-set, the apples only just finishing flowering. Containers will come inside for the duration.

I was looking for news on this topic. This weird weather is a downright pain. How are the crops doing? Are people out in the field fanning smoke over their crops yet?


Don't look at the 12z run from yesterday of the Euro. It showed more or less mass destruction of fruit crops throughout the lakes next week. This mornings run was a little less dramatic. Still very cold. GFS still shows 20Fs here in southwest WI next week, which will require me to get out my blankets, tarps, etc.

Thanks for the update.
Being in the city, we get the benefit of the heat-island effect, so often we are a bit warmer here. The city itself may not experience below-freezing temps. I am going to get out the row-covers, though. I'll keep watching through the day, in case it looks like a light misting of the trees with water will help too.

I'm watching local news for updates.
EDIT: Weather Underground shows the likelihood of 30 degrees overnight, tomorrow night, for Chicago.

I'm also in Chicago. I thinned my apricots this week! Peaches, plums and cherries have set fruit or are in shuck. Just an extra degree or two would be enough to get us through.

We are looking forward to a freeze Saturday morning. There is also the suggestion that next week will also be colder and we may see some more snow as well. The apple trees around here are just now in bloom. The historical last freeze in this county is early June, since we are in the mountains at a minimum of 3000' elevation...

E. Swanson

Historically, we have had freezes up through mid-May. It is considered the "absolutely safe" planting date, although the "last frost" date for this location is considered to be April 21st.

The Weather Channel has this map :-


Yeah, Dog, I'm getting a little nervous as the NWS is showing 34 F for Tues. night at our location, a bit south of you. My community garden partners (from FL) expressed frustration the other day that I haven't been more gung-ho on planting so far this spring. It came to a head when they put some plants in one of my prepared beds; "If you aren't going to use it, we will..." OH! That didn't go over well...not at all; one of those things that won't happen again. Damned impatient flatlanders...... Oh well.

I almost hope a hard freeze comes to "learn'em" about planting sensitive plants too early. That said, we usually have a "blackberry winter" here, but this year the wild trees, shrubs and brambles are well into flowering/setting, so I would hate to see a hard frost, if only for the wildlife's benefit. The fruit trees have finished flowering as well. Maybe we'll get lucky :-0

My plan is to build cold frames for more of the raised beds, as I expect these weird springs to become the norm.

"If you aren't going to use it, we will..." OH! That didn't go over well...not at all; one of those things that won't happen again. Damned impatient flatlanders...... Oh well.

We looked! Then we saw him
Step in on the mat!
We looked! And we saw him!
The Ghung in the Hat!

"The sun is not shinning .
It is much too cold I say!
So we must sit in the house
All this cold, cold, wet day."

But we Floridians, we just can not wait!
We're ready to plant, now, in any old crate!

OH! That didn't go over well..
You must not plant yet!
NO, that is not swell!
On that you can bet!

Thanks. flatlander Fred! I've already printed that out. I'll put it in my grumpy old man scrapbook ;-)

Though with this spring we've already planted some stuff well ahead up here.

Not everything, but taking a chance on getting an extra round of some of the quick stuff in.

When at my father's place in Georgetown, Kentucky (15 miles north of Lexington - 60 miles south of Cincinnati) I first planted lettuce and onion sets. Cool weather crops that can stand a light freeze. But, given the record heat (which also warms the earth north - and will moderate any cold front) I planted four half rows of sweet corn on March 15th. (Enough to fully pollinate any ears).

So far, lows in the 30's but no freezes. The onions and lettuce have emerged, but no corn yet. Forecast is mid-30s for the cold front in Lexington.

Best Hopes for Early Corn - and Not So Good for the Future,


Amazingly, I'm looking at something similar in the Bay Area. They forcast 32 for Livermore tommorrow. I'm usually warmer than that, I'm on a bit of a hill, and am exposed to downsloping winds. I'll have to monitor it overnight, gets below 40F I need to get out the atticfoil to cover up tomatoes, and other tender stuff. Last night was 41.

Its too windy now. Wind on a cold night is a mixed blessing. It prevents cold buildup near the ground, but it also tends to blow protective covers off the plants.

Sharp drop in jobless rate raises questions for economists

Statistical quirk? Economy growing faster than we realize? People giving up? They don't know.

Read yesterday that a big foreclosure wave is expected this summer, larger than the 08-09 variety, as banks are geared up beyond the robo signing mess. Posted somewhere on Yahoo.

I think that Should Brent climb to 135ish and stay, alot of other things will shake. Just too hard to see now where oil will go.


There is a bit more hiring happening in our area; some seasonal, but I think business owners (generally optimists by nature) are buying into the "growth is returning" thing, some are tired of being somewhat understaffed and don't want to be caught flatfooted if things pick up more. My wife's employer put several more folks on full time, but the economic downturn didn't affect them so hard (tax related).

My former place of employment is under new management (again), still bank owned, but the foreman wants me back if the new folks will let him hire. He needs the help badly because the place looks pretty bad. The bank/management may go for it, as golf courses are hard to sell even if they look good. I told them my buddy will loan them some goats since they're behind on mowing. It was great farmland once. Perhaps in a few years...

Fire at Penly nuclear reactor in northern France

Fire crews have been rushed to a nuclear reactor in northern France after an escape of smoke but the energy company EDF says the site is secure.

Ten fire engines were sent to the Penly site near Dieppe, where the reactor was shut down after the alarm was raised at 12:20 (11:20 GMT).

Nobody was hurt, the firm said, and the incident had "no consequences for the environment".


The plant employs about 670 full time people and is owned and operated by the French company Électricité de France (EDF). Water from the English Channel is used for cooling.

The two PWR units are of the 1330 MWe class. The installed total output is 2764 MW, which means the plant is about average for French nuclear plants. It feeds on average about 18 billion kilowatt-hours per year into the public grid, corresponding to about 80% of the current annual consumption of Normandy. It is about ten kilometres from Dieppe.

Appears to be a small but noticeable blip on French radiation monitors in the area of the plant at about the time of the fire and shutdown. Levels back at normal now.

From Eurdep http://eurdep.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Basic/Pages/Public/Home/Default.aspx

Shows levels spike from typical about 50 nSv/hr to 60 nSV/hr. Similar spiked recorded at same time on other nearby monitors.

Arctic Sea Ice Enters the Spring Melt Season

Researchers do not expect the late maximum ice extent to strongly influence summer melt. The ice that grew late this winter is quite thin, and will melt rapidly as the sun rises higher in the sky and the air and water get warmer.

... Ice older than four years used to make up about a quarter of the winter sea ice cover, but now constitutes only 2%. First-year ice (0 to 1 years old) this year makes up 75% of the total ice cover, the third highest at this time of year in the satellite record. In 2008 the proportion of first-year ice was 79%, and in 2009 it was 76%.

Coming soon to a town near you? Egypt seems to be slipping into collapse.


'Virtual water', a barometer of global water resources

In 2007, the world’s “virtual water trade” was 567 billion liters - more than six times the volume of Lake Geneva [89 km3 (72,000,000 acre·ft)]. This was double the 1986 volume.

Every good produced at a given location, particularly agricultural goods, requires water. When the good is imported into another country, that country is also importing the water that went into its production; this is “virtual water.” “This concept is very interesting when one observes it in terms of its flow between countries, particularly in terms of how the flow of virtual water evolves over time,” ...

Oil Tanker Tracker ‘Oil Movements’ Sees OPEC Exports Matching 2011 Peak

OPEC exports in the monthly period to be ending April 21 will equal the peak 2011 export level, which occurred in early February 2011 – days before a rebellion erupted in Libya.

For one brief shining moment, OPEC – and particular Saudi Arabia – has delivered on promises to step up exports in the face of mounting supplies problems, particularly from Iran, Yemen, and Syria. It remains to be seen just how much longer this will last, and also, what effect this will have on world oil supplies.

OPEC oil exports are about 24.08 mbpd level, up from the level of about 23.65 mbpd that prevailed a few months about the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Libya’s exports may be up about 300,000 bpd since New Year’s, which is being offset by a similar 300,000 bpd drop in Iranian exports. It is believed that the Saudis are providing all or most all of the 400,000 bpd increase by OPEC. Since the Saudis did not increase their oil ‘output’ recently, it is possible they removed 10 to 12 million barrels from storage to achieve this one month surge.

However there is some doubt that exports levels will be maintained around 24 million bpd and may well fall back to the 23.65 mbpd year end level within a month. The Saudi owned oil shipping company ‘Vela’ made a large number of deals on or about March 15, mostly for shipments launching at the end of March and beginning of April. Those dates are included in the latest ‘Oil Movements’ report. While the company Vela has made additional arrangements to supply more oil than usual throughout April, the pace of shipping deals has already slackened.

Further as the Saudi summer ‘cooling season’ approaches, internal demand may increase as much as 800,000 bpd and crimp exports. Already Saudi Arabia has considerably stepped up its program of buying oil products for the summer, at a time much earlier than usual.

5 Apr, 2012, 09.04PM IST, Reuters
OPEC exports to jump in 4 weeks to April 21 - Analyst

LONDON: Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will rise by 660,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to April 21, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports will reach 24.08 million bpd on average, up from 23.42 million bpd in the four weeks to March 24, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

The rise in sailings is the biggest since the four weeks ending Feb. 12, 2011, it added.



This may slow things down a bit in July ...

Chinese Insurer Halting Coverage for Tankers Carrying Iranian Oil

SINGAPORE — A major Chinese ship insurer will halt indemnity coverage for tankers carrying Iranian oil, beginning in July, two of the insurer’s officials said Thursday, amid tightening Western sanctions against Iran and after similar action in Japan.

The decision by the insurer, the China P&I Club, is the first sign that refiners in China, Iran’s top customer for crude oil, may struggle to obtain the shipping and insurance to keep importing from Iran. Iran’s other top customers — India, Japan and South Korea — are running into similar problems, raising questions on how Tehran will be able to continue to export the bulk of its oil.

The China P&I Club, whose members include shipping companies like Sinotrans and Cosco Group, is the first Chinese maritime insurer to confirm that it will halt business with tankers operating in Iran.

This is a fairly significant development.

For those that remember the 'tanker wars' of the 1980s, which simmered at a slow boil for a few years before erupting into outright military conflict between Iran and the US, insurance coverage on tankers was not interrupted. However shippers then eventually paid a high price of $5 per barrel, which is equivalent to about something like a $20 a barrel surcharge today.

If other insurers follow, Iran's exports after July 1 may fall faster than generally expected. If not, Persian Gulf insurance rates may still soar.

The Globe & Mail is not a notably anti-AGW publication, but they are reporting the results of a polar bear count in the Canadian Arctic which produced results quite different than scientists predicted. The Inuit hunters, who actually live up there, have been disagreeing with the scientists for some years about polar bear numbers, and saying that they are seeing more polar bears now than they have ever seen in the past. The government of Nunavut did a polar bear count to resolve the issue so it could plan its polar bear conservation strategy.

Healthy polar bear count confounds doomsayers

The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing.

The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region, which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing elsewhere in the Arctic.

The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.”

Mr. Gissing added that the government isn’t dismissing concerns about climate change, but he said Nunavut wants to base bear-management practices on current information “and not predictions about what might happen.”

Fukushima leak may have flowed into Pacific: TEPCO ... ya think!

About 12 tonnes [3170 gallons/12000 liters] of radioactive water has leaked at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with the facility's operator saying Thursday that some may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean.

... The accident was the latest of several leaks of radioactive water at the troubled plant, undermining the government's claim made in December that the shuttered Fukushima reactors were now under control.

In one incident last month, about 120 tonnes of radioactive water leaked at the plant's water decontamination system and about 80 litres (21 gallons) seeped into the ocean, according to TEPCO.

Don't worry, I'm sure they're hiding *something*.

Hope they're all non-smokers ...

Total flies experts to stricken North Sea gas rig

LONDON — A team of experts has flown to a North Sea platform operated by French energy giant Total to inspect a wellhead that is spewing a cloud of potentially explosive gas, the company said on Thursday. An estimated 200,000 cubic metres of highly flammable gas are escaping from the platform each day in a leak which Total says is costing the company $2.5 million (1.91 million euros) daily.

Total said a helicopter carrying the eight-strong team of experts left Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland at 10:30 am (0930 GMT) to fly the 150 miles (240 kilometres) to the rig.

The team flying to the platform include staff from the rig who are familiar with its construction, as well as outside experts from Texas-based firm Wild Well Control

also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2125471/Total-gas-leak-Gr...

and Safety check backlog at UK oil rigs

From CNN Global oil production trouble - it's not just Iran

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- All the attention may be on a loss of oil from Iran these days, but production outages in a variety of spots worldwide is causing about one million barrels of oil a day to sit on the sidelines, helping push oil and gas prices to near record highs.

In places like South Sudan, Yemen and Syria the oil is offline due to violence. In Canada and the North Sea it's due to technical problems.

No one outage is particularly large. But taken together, they rival the amount of oil that could be lost from Iran over the next few months as sanctions take hold.

Excellent article from a MSM source I'm not used to paying much attention to.

VERY rarely is a significant source of oil, somewhere in the world, NOT interrupted.

Supply interruptions are the norm for the supply of oil to the world.


It's a bit misleading. Canadian oil production is lower because a couple of the oil sands upgraders are down for unscheduled maintenance. This happens all the time - something inside goes *BOOM* and they have to shut it down for a few weeks to fix it. They are finicky pieces of equipment.

The production decline in the North Sea has been going on for several years now, and the decline rate is getting steeper year by year. That is a much more serious problem.

Japan government fears non-nuclear summer will hamper restarts

Japan's government is rushing to try to restart two nuclear reactors, idled after the Fukushima crisis, by next month out of what experts say is a fear that surviving a total shutdown would make it hard to convince the public that atomic energy is vital.


Hasty moves to restart idle reactors could prompt a backlash against an already unpopular government and ruling party ahead of an election that could come later this year.


Last summer, the government imposed power restrictions on some large corporate users, ordering them to cut usage by 15 percent. To deal with the shortage, manufacturers operated plants at night and on the weekends. Companies used in-house generators and cut down on use of air conditioners and lights.

Iran loses oil buyer Greece over payment restraints

Iran's oil flows to Greece have stopped this month, depriving the Islamic Republic of one of its most loyal European customers and leaving Greece with its financing troubles struggling to buy elsewhere.

But I thought oil was totally fungible? Is this a non-event or evidence that oil is not totally fungible.

Greece will buy the oil they buy from somewhere. It might make a chain back to the Iranian oil they would otherwise have bought, but if fewer countries are willing to buy directly from Iran it will probably lower the price they can get for their oil from the countries that are still buying from them.

World food prices rise further, raising fears of unrest

Although below the February 2011 peak of 237.9, the index is still higher than during a food price crisis in 2007-08 that raised global alarm.


"The food price index has an extremely high correlation to oil prices and with oil prices up it's going to be difficult for food prices not to follow suit," said Nick Higgins, commodity analyst at Rabobank International.


"We will be 7.2 billion people on earth in 2015, and more than one million have died from starvation in 2011. The situation will not improve, and in fact the contrary will happen," Pierre Reuland, Interpol's special representative to the European Union, told a meeting of European security officials in January. "For poor people the struggle for life will not be better than it is today."

Here is the updated graph.

fao food index


In one of the most sweeping attacks on free speech in America, the Arizona legislature has passed a draconian bill that would criminalize speech on the Internet (“any electronic or digital device”) that prosecutors consider “obscene, lewd or profane language or . . . suggest[ing] a lewd or lascivious act if done with intent to ‘annoy,’ ‘offend,’ ‘harass’ or ‘terrify.’”

Is the use of oil lewd? And is talking about oil and its future annoying, offending or even terrifying?

One would think they would immediately run afoul of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By extension, state legislatures are also prohibited from passing laws abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. By extension internet conversations are a form of speech, and web articles are a form of the press.

Freedom of Speech in the United States - Internet speech

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court extended the full protection of the First Amendment to the Internet in Reno v. ACLU, a decision which struck down portions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a law that prohibited "indecent" online communication (that is, non-obscene material protected by the First Amendment). The court's decision extended the same Constitutional protections given to books, magazines, films, and spoken expression to materials published on the Internet.

However, I guess Arizona politicians think Arizona it is not bound by the US Constitution, and that is their rational for passing the law. Or perhaps because it covers speech which is electronic and digitized, it's intrinsically different from telephone conversations, posted mail, and printed newspapers.

However, I guess Arizona politicians think Arizona it is not bound by the US Constitution, and that is their rational for passing the law.

They have the "game" of 'having standing' and if you somehow have standing the State deciding to drop the case VS having the law challenged means this thing could be on the books for years if the governor signs.

And its not like the people who make an illegal law have any responsibility to people charged or jailed under it.

Don't worry, the security bogeyman will be invoked. Something about national security and public order.

The intent of the law is to prevent cyberbullying, and is supposed to apply only to targeted harassment of a specific individual, not general trolling or other speech.

The ostensible purpose and the end result are two different things.

A good example is the Healthcare Reform Law which ended up not reforming the healthcare system but being a boon to the health insurance industry by requiring Americans to buy private health insurance.

Given any law and its wording and someone will twist it to fit their own purpose.

Besides there are already laws on the books that cover the charges. Libel as an example.

It's been withdrawn so some of the problems can be fixed.

Basically, they just took an existing telephone harassment law, and updated it to include cyberspace.

From CSIS 16th Annual Washington Energy Policy Conference: Tight Oil: Possibilities, Challenges, and Policy Implications w/Presentations, a forum on the top challenges facing U.S. and global security.

Some of the presentation on tight oil are showing nearly 50% production drop within the first 90 days

e.g. http://csis.org/files/attachments/120403_TimothyDove_0.pdf slide 6

or breakeven tight oil/gas cost http://csis.org/files/attachments/120405_Vaden.pdf slide 6, 10, 15

p.s. the other 9 presentations are worth checking out

I agree, Seraph

Most of those presentations are worth examining.

Ethanol, corn groups applaud EPA E15 approval

The ethanol industry and National Corn Growers Association are pleased with the EPA’s April 2 approval of E15 (gasoline with 15 percent ethanol) as a registered fuel.

"Our nation needs E15 to reduce our dependence on foreign oil - it will keep gas prices down at the pump and help to end the extreme fluctuations in gas prices caused by our reliance on fuel from unstable parts of the world," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. "Today's announcement from EPA finally puts that goal within reach."

There are two issues here. The first is that 15% ethanol is high enough to damage the fuel systems on older cars, which are not designed with ethanol-resistant hoses and gaskets. Ethanol can dissolve plastic which is not resistant to it. Older two-stroke engines are particularly at risk, so a lot of lawnmowers, outboard engines, and chainsaws will go up in smoke if you use E15 in them. The risk of lawsuits will make gas stations very hesitant to put it in the pumps.

The second is that fuel ethanol production is currently using up 40% of US corn production, which is already raising grain prices and causing food riots in countries which became dependent on cheap American grown grain to keep their poor fed. Egypt is a case in point. Increasing the ethanol content of gasoline from 10% to 15% would increase the percentage of the corn crop from 40% to 60%. This is likely to cause a sharp additional increase in corn prices.

Pushing the percentage even higher to E20 would mean the farmers couldn't afford to feed corn to pigs, chickens, and cows, so nobody could have bacon and eggs for breakfast, or steak for dinner. With E25 gasoline it would use up 100% of the corn crop, so nobody could even have corn flakes for breakfast or corn on the cob for dinner.

It won't really affect the price of gasoline because of the low EROEI of fuel ethanol. Every increase in oil prices will result in an increase in farm costs, which will result in an increase in corn price, and an increase in fuel ethanol price.

Looking at etoh from one perspective shows it is bar none the best farm bill ever written. It takes all that corn off the market, and the government doesn't even have storage costs. No set aside or "freedom to farm" bill has ever had quite the effect. It has raised prices everywhere, from substitutes like wheat and other small grains, meat, dairy, dry beans, sugar beets, cotton, and on. In the past, every time a crop had a decent price, everybody would jump in, and bing, there goes the price. Now it's corn, and just burning it up in cars, and it's taken the pressure off everything. No longer is the impetus to grow more of whatever last year's high price was, now it's corn, and $6+ corn at that.

There is just one gas station that I'm aware of in my area that sells e15. Never seen anyone at the pump. This country is freakin' nuts.

I know a couple that drives 15 miles out of their way to purchase ethanol-free gas. So, one gallon of every tank is wasted driving there and back.

Something to watch ...

Supreme Court Considers GM Crop Patent Case

Can a farmer commit patent infringement just by planting soybeans he bought on the open market? This week, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the question. The Court is pondering an appeals court decision saying that such planting can, in fact, infringe patents.

... Taking Bowman’s argument to its logical conclusion would imply that anyone could buy a single batch of commodity (but still Roundup Ready) soybeans and use it to sell an unlimited number of copies. This would effectively eviscerate Monsanto’s patent protection.

Yet Monsanto’s position — that planting Monsanto-derived soybeans always requires Monsanto’s permission — could also have troubling consequences. In a world where 94 percent of soybeans in circulation are descended from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds, it might be hard for farmers who didn’t want Monsanto’s seeds even to buy seeds that were not patent encumbered. Monsanto’s position would effectively place the burden on farmers to test seeds they hope to plant in order to ensure they are not covered by any patents.

Monsanto needs to be stopped.

When will this insanity end?

Bill McKibben, How You Subsidize the Energy Giants to Wreck the Planet

Along with “fivedollaragallongas,” the energy watchword for the next few months is: “subsidies.” Last week, for instance, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez proposed ending some of the billions of dollars in handouts enjoyed by the fossil-fuel industry with a “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” It was, in truth, nothing to write home about -- a curiously skimpy bill that only targeted oil companies, and just the five richest of them at that. Left out were coal and natural gas, and you won’t be surprised to learn that even then it didn’t pass.

... think of this another way: the Senate voted down a bill to end congressional subsidies for the top oil companies. The senators who nixed the measure, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, $264,700), received approximately $1.48 million in oil and gas campaign contributions in 2011-2012; those who voted for it, a mere $400,000. Not surprisingly, this fits a longer-term congressional voting pattern in which money talks. In fact, it shouts.

Re: ASPO-USA Webinar, featuring Art Berman.

The webinar just finished. For those who participated, I was wondering if there were any questions or comments.


My only comment was that it was very well done. I got a lot of new insight into the basic business model of the shale gas plays. The shocking numbers were the debt levels of all the players in this "game".

I also got the sense that predicting the production and price over the near term will be very difficult. But over the longer term it should get very ugly. It is one of those situations where you can have abundant gas or you can have cheap gas, but you can't have both for very long.

Being the CEO of a shale gas player must be stressful right now.

I also got the sense that this is an industry in which it is very hard for outsiders to get useful information, except in the rear view mirror.

America's two new nukes are on the brink of death

The only two US reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.

Georgia's double-reactor Vogtle project has been sold on the basis of federal loan guarantees. Last year President Obama promised the Southern Company, parent to Georgia Power, $8.33 billion in financing from an $18.5 billion fund that had been established at the Department of Energy by George W. Bush.

Until last week most industry observers had assumed the guarantees were a done deal. But the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, has publicly complained that the Office of Management and Budget may be requiring terms that are unacceptable to the builders.

We can only hope they fail.

I don't know whether to,laugh or cry. But, I always expected that failure was far more likely than success.

Even given that there is a 0.05% chance that a half dozen counties in central Georgia will be contaminated for a century or two, I still would like to see these reactors completed.

The alternative is more coal power, more CO2, more GW and more mercury.

I can hypothesis an economical North American electrical grid that is 90% carbon free in 30 years, but only with a bit more nuclear power than today.

Without nuclear power, there is ZERO hope for a low carbon future !

I have read a number of renewable only futures - none have any understanding of the electrical grd.

- As an aside, I assume greater efficiency drops per capita demand by half. capitas grow in 30 years though. Variable pricing - 4 to 60 cents/kWh depending on whether the wind is blowing and sun shining - helps shift demand. Massive pumped storage and HV DC transmission. And I can get to 90% non-carbon generation in 30 years with electric bills (for half the kWh) about the same as today. But *ONLY* with at least 25% - 30% of the power from nukes.

Best Hopes for Realism,


Even given that there is a 0.05% chance that a half dozen counties in central Georgia will be contaminated for a century or two, I still would like to see these reactors completed.

The alternative is more coal power, more CO2, more GW and more mercury.

I see the later as a false dichotomy as that coal will be burned anyway.

The first part is the more serious error. All the evidence shows that the radioactive waste will never be removed from the nuclear power plant sites, and therefore the probability is not 0.05% but rather 100% that all of it will be eventually released in place. So over those centuries the surrounding land will become permanently contaminated for all practical purposes. How could that be worth it?

If there is a substitute, and the Appalacian states begin taking their above-ground resources seriously, we could see coal staying in the ground.

What's happening out east is horrible, and in my opinion makes the apocalyptic fantasies of the anti-nuclear people look like a rosy future by comparison (with no imagination needed, you just need to go and look).

All the evidence does NOT show that waste will stay in on-site.

Yucca Mountain is a perfectly fine place to put it. France is recycling their waste and Sweden has a hard rock repository.

The anti-nuclear forces have focused on blocking waste disposal. That will end one day. Yucca Mt is one of a number of very fine places to put it. Putting it into an abandoned gold mine, 1 mile deep, say Homestake in South Dakota, would not be a bad solution.

Vitrifying it first (dissolving the waste in glass) would be MUCH better - but a failing economy that just rushes many tons of 20+ year old spent fuel rods by rail to an old deep mine and dumps them there would be MUCH better than burning more coal.

And that is the only viable option for 30+ years. Renewables& conservation simply CANNOT replace coal in less than 30+ years.

Best Hopes for Realism and Hard Choices,


I did not say we couldn't do those things, and I dearly wish we would, but NONE OF THAT IS HAPPENING. It's been 40 some years - we don't have to wait and see what the solution to nuclear waste is, we've already waited and we can already see it. And in the mean time with all our NPPs we're still burning that coal and blowing off mountain tops to get it. You're simply wishing and hoping, there's not any evidence that the fuel will be moved or that we'll stop burning that coal regardless of what happens with nuclear power. And the anti nuclear folks didn't block Yucca Mountain, the overwhelmingly conservative population of Nevada did.

Lastly, what supports your assumption that something must replace fossil fuel energy? There is another possibility, which is that we simply won't have access to as much energy, and that is the most likely scenario IMO.

You have it absolutely correct! Can, could, should, would never seem to equal did or doing. All the evidence says we will, without a doubt, let that stuff sit right where it is now until we can't afford to keep it cool. Then it'll get out. Why else would they keep allowing the companies to pack more and more spent fuel rods into a pool not originally designed for that much? Why not at least move them to dry cask storage? Maybe it's already "too expensive"? People in favor of Nuke always seem to forget this one simple FACT. We're not doing what they say we should be doing.

One project in Sweden that might be able to accept some waste in decades is not representative of a world doing what needs to be done worldwide.

In 1981 I was doing some consulting for Southern Company. I remember well being at a high-level corporate meeting where all the executives were congratulating themselves for stalling on environmental controls because now that Reagan was in the wouldn't have to do them. They were laughing at companies like Northern States Power that had been voluntarily implementing environmental controls. I never have and never will shed a tear for Southern Company.

Looks to me like they're already spending that money.

WATTS BAR: Breaking news


TVA says unit at Watts Bar nuke plant to cost more (and...).

"The agency blamed the increase on poor previous estimates and acknowledged that reviews to support the initial estimate were not completed."

I should be trusting these people to run a nuclear power plant? Humans cannot be trusted with nuclear fission -- and there is no argument. The evidence is in.

I'll omit my rant on the Great Coal Ash Spill of 2008 (which still is not all cleaned up) at the Kingston Steam Plant.

EDIT: You know? I take that back. There IS an argument. It's about collateral damage, isn't it?

“Egan-Jones Ratings Co. cut the U.S. credit rating one step to AA, the second downgrade in nine months and two levels below its highest grade, with a negative outlook citing the nation’s increasing debt burden”.

Is the engine that drives economic growth (U.S. economy) sputtering? I am sure the Ponzi will return to growth any day now! :^/ sarc


I think it was in George W. Bush's first cabinet meeting that Dick Cheney said, "The debt doesn't matter, Reagan proved that." Bush took the idea to heart, cut taxes twice, and doubled the debt from $5.7 trillion to over $11 trillion.

I think Obama has spent enough money that it is now $15.6 trillion, which is more than 100% of the US GDP. The latter fact is why Egan-Jones downgraded the US credit rating once more to AA.

Debt doesn't matter until the creditors will no longer lend you money because they don't think you can make the payments and you might have to default. I think the great economist Ronald Reagan missed that essential point, and G.W. Bush made the same mistake when he pulled out all the credit limits on the housing mortgage system.

Good point, as I see things peak oil is not so much the problem as peak debt. If industrial economies were not built for perpetual growth, it would not matter so much that we are running out of cheap energy and that we have hit peak energy per capita. Growth became impossible without running huge deficits, not because of peak oil, but because the oil supply did not grow as fast as it once did. The Global economic system is a Ponzi scheme that is about to blow. Soon servicing the debts of many industrial nations will entail printing money just to pay the interest, which is the end game. Debt does not matter until you hit critical mass, where GDP can’t catch up, and then you have economic collapse. That is where expensive oil comes into play like a wrecking ball. You can’t solve a credit crisis with more credit.

One more thing, I believe that the FED bought 60% of the net Treasury issuance last year. That looks to me like other countries are getting reluctant to loan to the United States. The can probably can’t be kicked down the road very much further.

"The debt doesn't matter, Reagan proved that."

The Democrats might win more elections if they would plaster that quote all over the landscape and don't let anyone avoid being reminded of it. (Maybe they could sponsor a NASCAR with that quote painted on the hood in big letters.)

The GOP has basically been selling a "return to Reaganism" to the voters for years. Anything that pokes holes in that presidency is good for the country IMHO. We need to stop borrowing large sums of money to protect ourselves from sinister evil foreign adversaries.

Russia’s arms program aims to perfect zombie ray guns

The mind-bending guns shoot electromagnetic radiation, which at certain frequencies can send commands directly to the brain. (Pause to make a tinfoil cap; then continue reading.) They're currently being tested as a means of crowd control and as a physical (rather than mental) weapon, but the terrifying potential of a mind-control gun makes Putin compare the technology to nuclear arms, except he thinks it's "more acceptable...

How long before mind control is possible over the television or interne....

How long before they imbed that mind control into ads? It's just been in the past year or so that TV has gone to those ads they shoot at the viewer faster than the viewer can make a decision whether or not to see it. For example during football games, they shoot them at the viewer to start a replay and after it concludes. Extremely obnoxious and I am absolutely certain there are imbedded subliminals, and if not just the fact it flashes at the viewer so fast, provides an entry point into the subsconscious because the conscious mind can't catch up to it.

CNBC & CNN do a lot of those special effect flashes or as I call them instant screen washers, particularly in the morning. They must have done a study that showed people are most vulnerable to that type of inflicted mind assault when they are not fully coherant. How sick is that? What I can't figure out is why there hasn't been any kind of protests about those. Is it like candy to people or are they so ingrained to fall in line without protest that nothing is said, not even one person asking a single question on MSM?!

I can absolutely see the Russians new tech will soon be tested worldwide and since corporations are no longer being regulated regarding ads, well I am certain it will probably start off as a simple test, but since it works so well, then why not allow some mind bending, then later, oh well, let them do it as much as they want.

Someone will be walking down the street and suddenly start to feel sick to their gut with an urge, an impulse to guzzle gatorade. He won't know where it came from, but the mind bend was once the temperature exceeded 80F he would get that physiological response for the rest of his life! Like Pavlov's dogs he will then become a gatorade addict in 80F + weather. If he can't get any he'll go into withdrawals and suffer terrible agony.

Well, there's not a shred of information in that article to tell you what the potential is, how it works or how well it works. As for the TV - you could just turn it off....! There's nothing of value on it anyway.

Haven't seen this one posted:

Gas Leak At Total’s Elgin Well Platform In North Sea Still Not Under Control

The industry body Oil and Gas U.K. estimates that between 14 billion and 24 billion barrels equivalent of oil and gas still remain in U.K. territorial waters. Even recovering the only a portion of this estimate will require substantial advances in the exploitation of high pressure, high temperature, and other types of more complex fields, it said in its 2011 economic report.

The second video presents a problem many may have not considered. Hydrogen Sulfide, being heavier than air, is accumulating below the platform. Hydrogen Sulfide mixed with Air can become explosive without any ignition sourse, if the H2S content is high enough. I think the risk of that happening is low - but the consequences are 'high'.

Joules' thread on Elgin is closed. I hope a new one will come up when something happens, which should be any day now.

With picture of the leak itself. Anyone able to explain what is being seen?



It looks like the tubing hanger has pulled out of the wellhead because of subsidence but I'm not the guy to ask about offshore wellheads.

Thanks, the 4 jets looked very symmetrical and that would tie in.